Kolaveri and crimes of passion

When I heard of the case of the dying soup boys and girls and the supposed murderous rage of the soupers, I was filled with righteous rage. I goaded all the soup boys and girls to file a class action law suit against Cupid for all the love crimes. But Cupid struck a plea bargain and confessed to being a mere accomplice, charging that the souper was the main culprit.

As a jury member my heart went out to the soup-people and their plight, dark futures and all. As a judge though, I had to stick by the rule book. The evidence was circumstantial, supposed black hearts and kolaveri. Love is suicide, the defendant’s lawyer argued. A rather corny defense, I thought. Upon which the soup-person pleaded guilty to the temporary insanity that is love. This case was proving to be too cheesy for many people’s taste. The verdict was out…..

So while the soup person lies dying, the souper goes happily scot free, often let off with mere banishment from facebook friend’s list. That’s hardly much of an exile. For a charge as serious as that of the heinous crime of homicide, the souper got away easily, if you ask the disappointed prosecutor in me. My sense of fairness would have made me fly into a murderous rage, if I were capable of such a thing.

But the Holmes in me wondered if we should we haul the white moon to the court, or the holy cow for that matter. It’s often the most unlikely suspect who is the master-mind behind the crime. I seriously mulled over the connection between the cow, the moon and love crimes.  Both the said suspects are known for being unusually clam, but was this their way of venting their murderous rage? The moon and the cow have got to be co-conspirators, I thought. Did they conspire when the cow jumped over the moon?

With super mama’s permission, I’d now like to change tune and rant against the obsession with white skin. And why mourn the lack of choice? One person is more than one’s fair share.  No wonder the soup boys landed themselves in such a soup. Speaking of soup boys, my spunky neighbor claimed that she had decided to skip the soup and the go straight to the main course. Playing the devil’s advocate, she claimed that the souper wanted a super supper, not soup, however super it may be. Though I’m sure super mama who is on a snack diet, doesn’t concur with this change over.

My sympathies though are squarely on the side of the love rejects. May peace be with all the soup-people. The league of soup-people is fast multiplying. It is no wonder that the Kolaveri song has become such a phenomenon with its assorted variants popping up all over the place. Making light of the love angst makes it decidedly less burdensome. And nothing like language skills or lack thereof, and irreverent grins to soothingly poke fun at unrequited love. The hauntingly melancholy drunken drawl also manages to strike a painful chord. The song manages to find a non-existent absurd middle ground between pain and humor. Classic tragicomedy song, if you ask me.

Ending on a happy note, for those of us who are happily in love, I can only say….rhythm correct…maintain please….

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God’s own cuisine

I considered the sudden proliferation of Mallus in my world. The awareness of this pleasant proliferation set in when my colleagues clamored for an authentic mallu meal. I’ve never cared much for people’s ethnic origins from an identity perspective. But trifling cultural differences add to the richness of one’s interactions. I don’t fancy myself a writer, but cultural idiosyncrasies do stoke my writer’s intrigue.      

With dinner plans in place, I found myself in the company of a half mallu, two self-confessed fraud mallus, a Bangalored albeit authentic mallu and oddly enough – a lone Punjabi.  The motley crew headed to the backwaters of Hyderabad in search of an apartment-turned-restaurant serving the real deal. Our hopes of finding the place were buoyed courtesy the freshly made appams. We practically smelt our way to the non-descript apartment. As we reached the restaurant, the affable Punjabi felt a sudden urge to prove his non-existent mallu credentials. He proudly displayed his knowledge of mallu cuisine which he had picked up over the course of a brief stopover in God’s private estate.

The menu was a vegetarian’s nightmare complete with surrogate menu items- innocuously named “meat” dishes. Holy cow! I chuckled. The waiter offered me a choice between a cashew-coconut based stew and a coconut based stew. Reconciled to the lack of choice, I ordered the appam and one of the stews which the waiter deemed tasty. The semi-exotic stew of half-baked mallus nodded in approval of my choice. The matriarch of the home-restaurant also smiled endearingly. Contrary to perceptions created by the unimaginative and literally bitter karela-kerala pictures floating around on Facebook, the meal had hints of sweet coconutty flavor. I concluded that choice and variety in menus is highly overrated. A racy and familiar Malayalam hit item number with over-zealous dancers played happily in the background.

Meanwhile, the lovable Bangalored mallu and I jabbered away in Kannada, childishly pretending it was our secret “code” language. She and I cried ourselves hoarse when the code was broken, which is hardly surprising considering there were hardly any colleagues whose careers hadn’t taken them to Bangalore. I proceeded to confessed that Malayalam was one code I could never decipher. It’s a tongue which is intriguingly unintelligible to non-native speakers.

I reflected on how differences add such flavor to life.  I further dwelt on the stew of assorted cultures that was India. As with all stews it has its own distinctively Indian base. I can’t seem to put my finger on the common Indian cultural base. I speculated that it could be coconut. I don’t rule out cashew-coconut combo though. The grand Indian “thali”( as the twitter-savvy Tharoor would have put it) is decidedly more flavorful  than bland national projects rooted in singular identities. This was my single big discovery in Europe. Thank goodness for the EU project, cursed be the Euro crisis though.  Had the Europeans melted into a cultural stew they could well have avoided the financial soup they are in now . The Germans would have been more than willing too feed the Greek economy. Had the Keralite economy needed help, we would have happily bailed them out in exchange for an appam or maybe two..three would certainly have done it

One doesn’t need a national chauvinistic mission or vicious identity politics to protect rich cultural legacies; one just needs a healthy aesthetic sensibility. A stew of cultures lets other people flavor the taste of assorted sub cultures and claim it as their own, as did the lone Punjabi. But I have wondered if the coconutty base would drown out other flavorful tones to create a uniformly boring cosmopolitan Indian stew?  The authentic coconutty mallu meal proved me otherwise.

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Poker’s missing joker

I flushed as I stepped into the den of vice, the Vegas of an otherwise staid Hyderabad. As it turns out we had a full house, with the entire affable bunch of consultants showing up. Apparently everybody believed that all work and no play makes Jack a boring consultant.

I audibly sighed as I looked at the thankless cards I had been dealt. A weak player that I am, my reaction was deliberately ignored. One close friend reassuringly reasoned that I was too straight and transparent for poker. As a game ended, a particularly shaken player resisted the urge to club the winner with the nearest bottle, light heartedly of course. This led us to dwell on how non-egalitarian the game was, with the winner taking all. We considered playing Hyderabad Hold’em, which would involve neatly slicing up the pot.  Another friend, squarely on the political right of center, vehemently protested claiming this was socialism in its most malignant form. We stuck to Texas.

The game went on predictably, with calculable odds. Chasing the heart however, the game with the highest stakes, unfortunately has incalculable pot odds. One friend, who was visibly bruised by the heart chase, chalked up a business plan to rehabilitate the heart broken. We cheered him up with “every Jack has his Jill” shpeel, but as consultants are wont to do, all of us jumped into the fray for advisory roles. Many suggested that the business wouldn’t fly. We need to take into account that life was a game of pairs, the professional and personal. The club of the committed sweetly insisted it was two pairs, taking into consideration the spousal pair as well.

We arrived at a consensus. Let’s just call a spade a spade, the matters of the heart are more risky and have more upside than matters of diamonds or entry into exclusive clubs of alums. The three aren’t of a kind. While I agreed, I felt it was a quad play, what with larger societal questions also giving meaning and higher purpose to life. How does one balance odds, as one chases the quad? We carried on with our little play.

So what does one do when life deals a not-so-great hand?  Does one fold, roundly protesting the unfairness? Obviously not. The believers would conveniently rationalize it as the Karmic pot cooking. The others are left to deal with incomprehensible randomness and mind boggling probabilities. What if circumstances or other people raise the stakes while you seek to play conservatively? Poker was posing far too many questions….

So should one go all in, odds be damned? One should probably go all out. The outrageous provides texture to life. Besides the upside to the risk, is a fat pot. One needs to necessarily have a healthy risk appetite, buy in to life and jack up the bet. No point just checking. We should call the bluff on Lady Luck, I decided as Lady Gaga’s Poker face played in the background. I figured I was always going to be better at swinging my hips to the tune than at the actual game of Poker.

I wondered if there was some joker in the pack. Was that going to be a professional ace or a king/queen or a societal jack? I decided to play the joker rather than wait for the joker.  One shouldn’t take oneself too seriously; it makes life livelier for everyone without abstracting the deeper questions. No serious Poker for me. As I tried entertaining the crowd with my jack-in-the –box speech antics, we continued our blind betting.

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Of debt and crises

As the debt crisis wears on, I considered imposing austerity measures on myself. All this easy money from working (an oxymoron?) has led to thoughtless spending. Then again I usually live within my means despite having an adorably overindulgent Dad cum Santa Claus. Occasionally, I give a thought to my college loan and my desire to be debt free. But I don’t dwell on the dough. It comes and vanishes. Emotions, on the other hand, are all consuming.

I used to feel distinctly uncomfortable carrying emotional debt. I felt like I was encashing the emotional bond which would cheapen it. But then I realized that emotional debt works on contrarian logic. It’s absurd to think such things were rational. Emotional debt doesn’t weaken bonds. Emotional debt doesn’t leave you obligated nor does it need collaterals. That is not to say one can default on gratitude.  I value the bond ever so deeply, more than all the greenbacks in the world, printed or soon to be, can ever buy.

 My creditors are so embarrassingly generous that the Greeks must be burning with envy. My darling creditors are ever so keen to lend a shoulder and an occasional hanky. My debt holders are ever so willing to respond to my panic calling/pinging at unearthly hours. They never bail out on me, they bail me out. Their interest level remains unchanged no matter how grossly bloated the debt.  You make me feel so treasured. You ease problems with easy advice which makes such a qualitative difference to my life. It’s a flight to the emotional safety of family and friends at the hint of trouble. Ooo…my treasuries …this is such a risk free emotional bond.  One must learn lessons from the past though – one must reign in one’s reckless emotional spending and be appropriately wary of subprime investments and opaque derivatives that blow up without warning, which in one’s defense were highly rated. Please forgive the mixing of metaphors of assorted economic crises.

 Crisis would be an absurdly inflated claim even metaphorically speaking. I don’t wanna cry wolf or bear for that matter. I’m ever bullish. They were more like minor corrections as you pointed them out to be, although it might well have seemed like a secular downward trend at that time. For Abe’s sake, this isn’t an indebted dukhi atma story. This is a reasonably happy atma reflecting on the need to address the deficit when it comes to being emotionally expressive. I am ever so bullish when it comes to your future, but Fed forbid in case of the occasional lows, you know who u can make that 3am call to. At the risk of sounding like your personal banker or an oily salesperson ……this post is all about how valued you are.

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Flying low you and me

 As I practically hauled myself up the last painful step, I was greeted by the two of them. One of the painted faces wore a strangely sly look, like that of a predator when an unsuspecting herbivore enters its lair. The other, her face caked with make-up, had a look of deliberate disinterest, only to be prodded by her colleague. At which point, she oddly broke into a plastic smile and feigned excessive interest.

 The Wannabe displayed her flair for acting by miming the flight safety instructions, aided by assorted contraptions. The Discipliner stomped across the aisle, barking instructions to disinterested flyers. A lanky, dorky guy sat next to me. The Discipliner stamped her way to our seats. Apparently the Dork was sitting next to the emergency exit door and needed to be briefed. She mechanically blurted out the oft-repeated instructions. He listened with rapt attention as he assumed the pose of a superhero. He prided himself for being tasked with this non-responsibility. I can do it, he convinced himself- I shall get the (fill in the expletive) snakes off the (fill in the expletive) plane, rescue both the beautiful airhostesses besides other pretty lasses on board and then land the plane to safety. I considered how archaic the notion of the alpha male would be in a post-sexist utopian world. Then again, I considered how I was an even bigger dork hoping to rescue the entire world.

A wedding troupe, some of them dressed in gaudy bright silks, sat fidgeting in front of us. The troupe of first time flyers was unusually guarded about their possessions. The ageing pack leader sat smug in his spotlessly white dhoti, howling instructions to his pack. As the plane took off, the pack leader yelped to signal to his troupe and they swallowed strange looking but carefully packed candies in unison. Elsewhere a baby wailed as the traumatized parents looked on helplessly. Once in the air, the Discipliner took it upon herself to thrust water bottles into the hands of hapless flyers who promptly tucked them away into the pouches in front of them, only to be forgotten later. The pack leader signaled that the bottles be squirreled into their bulky suitcases for the arduous journey ahead. The command was religiously executed.

The Wannabe paraded across the ramp with the practiced gait of a struggling model but her disdain for the fashionably challenged audience showed. My heart felt heavy as I felt the full weight of her crushed aspirations. I desperately fought the absurd urge to hold on-air coaching classes for all airhostesses so that they maybe in better professions(at least in my eyes). I then questioned my own sanity and reached the troubling conclusion that there was certainly something wrong. The female voice of the pilot soothed my bruised feminist soul. Progress is being made, I assured myself. I was lulled into sleep.

I woke up and glanced to my left. Mr Cool of 13C, carelessly flipped his shades before pulling out his shiny new ipad. As he casually played with his toy, I stared at his contraption. He shot me a look that said “I’m the coolest guy on this plane. I’m way cooler than you”. In the meantime, Dork was taking his non-role seriously. He was desperately hoping to catch the eye of the Discipliner to get some sort of acknowledgement. He was conveniently ignored. Then in an inspired moment, he pressed the button to call for attention. It was Wannabe who took the call. Dork didn’t seem to mind. He asked for water while pretending that he could twirl the plane on his pinky finger. He basked in the short lived glory of his machismo.

As the plane was to land, the Discipliner took great pleasure in waking up hapless sleepy flyers. The irate Discipliner went about chiding errant flyers – a seat not upright here, shades down there – she relished every opportunity to reprimand them while spitting out a ‘sir’ at the end. An errant sleepy passenger half opened one of his eyes and grunted without complying. The Discipliner grinded her teeth and cracked an invisible whip, ready to deal with a trouble child….

My stomach churned as the plane turned. I was facing the wrath of the Gods for a sleepless night of partying. On a prior flight, I had learnt that alcohol and flying don’t go together. Apparently hangovers and flying don’t go together either. The Discipliner caught me glancing at the air sickness bag and I cowered with dread.

I left the plane hoping that Discipliner and Wannabe would have better futures with their careers taking off in a different direction.

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T blues

It’s a passing phase they said, but six months on I continue to battle my Hyderabad blues as the war for the city rages on. The air of this not-so-happening city is thick with stifling un-sophistication. To top it all it’s yet another day of strike. Not the Telangana issue again….

KCR, who has just about as much charisma as an in-grown toe nail, is keeping the T pot simmering. Thankfully the center is not toeing his line. I practically choke on my tea as I watch him on yet another discussion on T.  They call the Palins of the other tea party fame, hillbillies. They’ve obviously never set their eyes on an uncouth AP politician before.

Now for my deepest, darkest secret – I’m a self despising gult. No….this is not a coming-out -of-the-closet story, I wouldn’t care so much as to peep out of it. I’m establishing my closet gult credentials lest I be accused of being insensitive to the ethnic sensibilities of a people who are not my own. As for good gult friends –there’s K, an endearingly tense former IBMer and S, my adorably chatty hairdresser who never fails to be amused by my linguistic challenges when it comes to my mellifluous ancestral tongue.

Besides issues regarding the status of Hyderabad and demands by assorted groups for endlessly spawning new states, I have my own vested interest when it comes to the T issue. Better one gult state than two. Some of my people are best confined to a single state, for I fear they would countrify the entire country, sapping India of much needed class. On the other hand, maybe the Telanganites secretly desire to secede from the gult stereotype. In which case, I empathize with their cause. Better still the entire bucolic bunch ought to be Bangalored, creating legions of closet gults. So maybe they ought to merge Andhra with Karnataka, the happy union would be breeding ground for IT talent. But then again, any b schooler, even those that dare to dream beyond the IIMs, will tell u that competition between states to attract IT investments has been healthy. So do we continue with status quo?

Tsk tsk girl…what’s with this class bias? you would say. A pseudo commie acquaintance assured me that I would be lynched by a maoist mob. No, I have a plan teed up for the T issue. Well…Hi-tech city for all practical purposes has been Bangalored. The new city has enough watering holes to earn itself that title. The T strike had little effect except for turning auto drivers into magicians who pull out random high figures from thin air. Soon these expanding islands of Bangalore will engulf the entire state. The T issue will solve itself when the state has been inclusively Bangalored. This plan for T suits me to a tee. It’s an impossible, bourgeois pipe-dream, the Marxists would say. To hell with your class warfare. It’s possible hain, yaar.

T squabbles and maoist conundrums aside, they’re not a bad lot- my people, most of them are the good sort -they just need a touch of class. They ought to be Bangalored!

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Be schooled on unmanaged affairs

The honeymoon of two years came to a seemingly abrupt end, though I knew it was coming all along. Apparently decent grades are a deal breaker. I ignored all the signs. We live apart now. IIM B is no longer the place to be. The parting was painful. Graduation day provided no closure.

The withdrawal symptoms have kicked in. I’ve used every conceivable excuse in the book to go back to IIM B. I compulsively scour facebook and other assorted social networking sites for any tidbits of information on IIMB.  The symptoms of my peculiar neurosis also include pathetically replaying the events of the past two years in an endless loop and gazing adoringly at pictures of b school friends (contrary to popular perceptions b school friends are not unicorns)

I creepily lurk around the premises. I fear a restraining order is in order. I take comfort in flashing my alum card and I’m allowed to slip in by the occasional unwary guard who is oblivious to the existence of institutional stalkers. So maybe we’re still friends. I happen to gatecrash L^2 parties and other such non-events, so maybe we’re friends with benefits. But without the learning, it’s just not the real deal.  I have so far managed to resist the urge to gatecrash classes or beg the professors to take me back.

Even before the relationship ended, I had  started looking frantically for a new relationship. Maybe it’s too early to tell but my dalliances with other institutions (especially of the corporate variety) are not quite what I want it to be. They provide for me but I don’t need a sugar daddy. I’ve never been in it for the dough.  Sometimes I wonder if they are my type.  Maybe my expectations are too high or maybe I haven’t moved on. I’ve been chided for the latter. Some unfinished buiness this school has proven to be. I casually flirted with the idea of applying to firang educational institutions more prestigious than you-know-which one. But I’m beginning to doubt I’ll ever feel that way again. I’ve considered seeing a shrink to kick the habit. I had the time of life at b school so I guess it will always be a love triangle.

Interventions by friends and family proved to be futile. Then again I don’t think its just denial, its love.  Get over it. But oh! the void. This needs a more radical intervention…i shd check myself into a rehab for b schoolholics. No more the quoting of inane love phrases from candy floss romcoms which sound all the more ridiculous when taken out of their context. But IIM B you complete me.

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