Monthly Archives: June 2006

Of Brands and Black Trousers

A few days back, my parents and I had been to Garuda Mall. And for those of you who don’t know what Garuda mall is-well, it is a mall…a big mall…with lots of shops and theatres and …lots of other stuff. Our only purpose of going there was to park our car as we could not find any space on MG Road. Soon after parking, we entered the mall.
It was a real busy sight. People thronging all over the place. But I was still alone-with my parents. I needed a pair of trousers-black trousers. So we went into Shopper’s Stop. Now Shopper’s Stop is this real big place where you get clothes and accessories of various brands. Now I am sort of obsessed with brands. No. It does not mean that I like to wear only branded items or I buy branded clothes. I like them because it simply intrigues me. Just the fact that a shirt is an Armani or a Versace or that a deodorant is a Ferrari. Or for that matter, any of those Dior fabrics, or those Pirelli apparels. Just the fact that one man’s name is so widely accepted that it is a brand in itself is what I find intriguing.
So I enter this place with a black pant in my mind. As soon as I enter, the whole place seemed to be screaming “Versace, Pirelli, Benetton, Giorgio Armani, Prada, Roberto Cavalli…..” And I just stared in awe. It was all in here. All the great Italian fashion designers, British, American, French and even Indian brands were there- all backed by breath-taking photography of models posing with the products.
And there were a lot of brands that I hadn’t yet heard about. Elsa Peretti, Sergio Tacchini, and many others. Now see, I come from a respectable upper middle class family. My parents have provided me with whatever they could provide. I got no complaints on them at all. But I knew that the prices of all branded items were sky-high; why? Just because they are branded items. They are the same brand of clothes that Sharon Stone, Britney Spears, Brad Pitt or Jude Law wears. Well, you can’t expect to wear the same brand that they are wearing at a very cheap price…can you?
And so there I was, standing in front of Giovanni Versace, with all his perfumes, deos, apparels and other accessories. But I dare did not go and ask about the products-simply because I knew I could not afford them. So I went in search of my black pant. I came across many brands I hadn’t heard about. And I found black trousers. I felt the material. It felt good. Quite soft and smooth. The brand: Bottega Venneta. The price: Rs.2499/-
I could not buy it. I moved a few racks ahead. Another pair of black trousers. The brand: Arrows. The price: Rs.2999/-
I moved on. Found out some more black trousers. It was some brand I don’t recall. But I recall the price-Rs. 1999/-
I had come there to buy a pair of black trousers. And I was not able to buy a single piece of clothing there. I was disappointed. I felt helpless. It was not that I was desperate to wear branded clothes and that I was not able to afford it. It was just that I wanted to buy an everyday commodity like a pair of trousers and I was not able to buy one. Forget the place where I was in. Forget the brand. All I wanted was a pair of black trousers and I was not able to afford it.
I felt my hands tied. It was more like a handicap. Yes I could always go to some other normal shop and get a pair of black trousers. But you see that is not the point. The point is –how long? For how long will I be facing the same situation? A situation wherein I am compelled to tell myself: “Look, you can’t afford that. Try somewhere else.”
I have always lived with this I-get-what-I-want kinda attitude. There has never been a question of compromise in my life. And so I can’t accept that I am unable to do something. And so I stood there in front of all the men who hade made big brands out of their own names and I declared that there would soon come a day when I would no longer be in a position wherein I have to compromise. I would get what I want and without any trouble. I would do whatever it takes to get to that position and by God, I will do it soon.
For all you know, 20-30 years down the line, someone will write a blog similar to this. But instead of Giovanni Versace, he would be standing in front of a name- a name famous, simply because it happens to be mine.

Jhankar 2006 Part 2

Now the worst situations in life are those over which you have absolutely no control whatsoever. So I sat there watching all the 120 employees smile and have their 7.53 seconds of fame on stage-happy to just be part of another arbit IT company. I was desperately trying to amuse myself by calculate the number of footsteps taken by each employee to climb on stage and collect their certificate or whatever forgettable memento, along with of course, a hand shake with the big-man himself. And then I tried to compute the probability of how many steps the successive employee would take based on the normal distribution curve that I tried to plot in my mind. Like I said, I was desperate. But then, the atmosphere was so draconic that I soon gave up on what appeared to be-my first ever practical application of probability and statistics in real life.
So while I was desperately hanging on to probability and statistics, the employees who were on stage were growing at an alarming rate. Soon the stage climaxed (pun unintended!) with it’s maximum capacity.
And so there you had it: the biggest bunch of software engineers right up there on stage…all of them having one common look- a look that simply seemed to scream out just one message:
“Hey look people- I exist!!!”

And the night had just begun…….may god have mercy upon me!

Jhankar 2006 Part 1

What happens when a bunch of people suddenly take a break from work and realize that their company has completed 4 years of existence?
A: They decide to celebrate.

Ok now what happens when that bunch of people are actually a big bunch of heavily paid software engineers?
A: You get JHANKAR 2006!!

The inevitable was bound to happen sooner or later! And now it was the turn of Symphony Services to celebrate a simple fact that they had somehow managed to stay alive for 4 years in the IT industry! Ok I don’t have any problems with that. But consider the following facts..
1) I simply had a very bad day till 5 pm.
2) I don’t like software engineers.
3) And what I detest even more is software engineers pretending to be happy being a part of their company.
4) And I didn’t know what I was going to be subjected to.

Now somehow, God sanctioned a big gathering filled with software engineers and their families (????), 100 odd software engineers making their best effort to pretend on stage in front of a 1000 strong crowd (also of software related homo sapiens) and some food to eat-all in one place. And then somehow he managed to put me in this chaos. And so, I sat through Jhankar 2006.The following is my nerve-wracking experience of 4 ½ hours at Jhankar 2006.

Now keep in mind this was meant to be a big occasion. So u had people making a sincere attempt to make themselves look good. Ok again I don’t have any problems with that. Now the problems started once the show started.

The big-man of the company came up on stage and started talking in heavily American accented English. That was simply because he was American. Now, all employees dream about making it big in their company. They would like their name to be spoken every now and then. Well, on that day, it was surely spoken once. The big-man spoke the names of all those who had worked in his company for more than 3years and 5 years. Ok I appreciate that- but one slight problem. there were 120 names on that list!

G for Girlfriend

The following are certified and well established facts of my life:

1) I did not have a girlfriend.
2) I do not have a girlfriend.
3) Now there will not be any future tense implications here.
4) In my (deranged) life, I came across 5 girls whom I genuinely believed, at that time, to be the perfect match for me.
5) Two months later (and in the special case-2 days later), I was made to comprehend and appreciate the true size of the hole that I had been digging for myself.
6) The last one, I guess, just forgot about my very existence.
7) Right now, I am actively debating the existence of my life partner.
8) All my close circle of friends are either committed or are making steady progress up the commitment ladder.

Now before I venture into unknown territory, I want to make myself very clear that I have nothing against any boy or girl already involved in a relationship. All of you have my heart-felt wishes.

The very concept of a girlfriend is mind boggling. At the same time it gives rise to these never-felt-before emotions and the 24 hour –desire to be with one’s girlfriend. It ruptures the very fabric of the age factor.
And speaking of age-no-barrier, a lot of things spring into my mind. Consider the following classification.
Now there are those people who have had their “First” girlfriend at the primitive age of 10! (Yes..the 2nd girl I was comprehending had her “first” boyfriend at that age).

And there is that bunch of people who have incessantly declared their resolution to remain the humble friend of solitude- only to have had their “First” by their mid teens.

Another faction of the crowd are those who get their first after having done some remarkable research into the psychology of the feminine. It is a different story altogether that they get their second faster than their first and the third faster than the second. The average “Coming of the First” age in this category usually varies from 18 to 21.

Then there are those who have their first – and put a period. End of story. A.K.A Marriage. This usually takes place above the “YO!” age.
=>24 upwards.

And then there is me.

Problem is: I do not know what I am feeling. I am repeatedly told that it is a great feeling. Yes I do experience bits of it now and then. And it feels good. But does it come at any price? And is it affordable? And more importantly, how do I get hold of it? But the more fundamental question I have to ask myself is: Do I need one?

Just the other day, I was going around on M G Road. The most recurring sights included a guy holding his girlfriend’s hand and having that “Oh I love you!” expression on his face. Not to mention a few doses of that “I got a girlfriend!” expression too, very distinctly displayed on his face.

Upon closer observation, one realizes that the relationship between the average MG Road boy and girl can be classified into one of the following:
1) “Truly in love”- ok, everybody actually believe that they ought to be classified under this. I know otherwise.
2) “I love you-but we may not last forever”: these are the predominant kind. They also hold hands.
3) “You know we will break up anyday-but lets enjoy now”: A.K.A Flirting. The less said about them, the better.
4) “Maybe someday we will be boyfriend-girlfriend”: these are the hopefuls…. With full of colossal dreams, they step foot on the sacred footpaths of MG Road with their girls….hoping someday that they be classified under category 1.
5) “I am trying to make up”: these can be seen in some real expensive place. It is understood that the girl is extracting the last bits of the benefits of the guy’s financial planning in return for a likely 2nd category classification.

So now I come back to my question. Do I really need a girlfriend?

The first half of my brain says “Yes boy! You do need someone to share some intimate moments with. You do need someone whom you can call at 2 in the morning and who will be happy to hear you speak.(Wonder if things to that magnitude actually take place in love…)You need someone with whom you can hold hands and walk on MG Road. And lastly you need a girlfriend because you can then claim your classification under category 1.”
The second half of my brain said “Yes. I agree with the first half.”

Guess I don’t have much of a choice now. But the consequential problem remains: How do I find one?
Unfortunately I do not have any categories to classify this into. This is simply because I haven’t gone around searching for one till now. And I don’t plan to change that fact. So basically it means that I shall not be making any effort to find one. And as a natural consequence, I shall still remain single (well, that’s what my orkut profile will exhibit to the whole world).

But then every now and then, I do feel that that extra someone may actually make a difference. Maybe that’s what needs to fill that void in me. Or, on the other hand, maybe not. Whatever be the case, I still do convince myself everyday that I am not missing anything. Or maybe that’s just the way I deny the things I am missing. So whenever I see a guy and his girlfriend sharing some intimate talks or moments, I remind myself of the song by Simon and Garfunkel. The name of the song is “I am a rock”. And some of the specific lines that I remind myself of are as follows:

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room
Safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me

Don’t talk of love
Well I’ve heard the word before
It’s sleeping in my memory
I won’t disturb the slumber
Of feelings that have died
If I never loved I never would have cried

I am a rock.

I am an island.

Like I said, maybe this is just a way of denying all the things that I am missing. Or maybe this is the way I am. But one thing I know for sure is that next time I see a boy and his girl, I will not make the effort to classify them…… simply because I don’t have the right to….

Hostel Musings

It is 1:00 AM. The whole country is trying to sleep. But I am still awake-wide awake. You don’t sleep at this time here. Very few people do. And those who don’t will be found doing what they usually do. Because at NITK Hostels, you are what you do.

Somewhere down the corridor, PV is blaring “Be yourself” on his speakers (probably for the 22nd time today).

Die-Bitch, the hostel dog, begins its nightly howl (probably it has got fed up with its lifestyle). Poor thing-got stuck in the collapsible door last night. Howled for ten whole minutes before it realized how to get out.

Psycho returns to his room after his 4-hour stint at the reading room. His bond with RR seems to have been forged in the hot fires of Mount Doom. Nothing to break it).

Tharkari just returned from the NC(Night Canteen). Must have got something for somebody from NC. He usually does.

The Snake Warrior can only be doing one thing at this time-or for that matter at any given time-studying. Now I got nothing against people who study-but this poor chap doesn’t seem to be getting equally rewarded. Never speaks a word to his room mate. For his own reasons.

Then you hear something that you have become really familiar with-“FIGHT”, “EXCELLENT”, “2 FRAGS LEFT”, “1 FRAG LEFT”…….This can be only one thing on this planet: QUAKE 3 ARENA. Quakers quaking on their computers. Blasting off their rockets, anticipating where the guy next room is going to land, capturing the flag, getting the armor-its all there. But strictly no rail guns allowed. This Quake game is going to late in the night. My roommate is somewhere in the corridor-either watching the proceedings or taking part in them actively.

The Champions League Football matches start in half an hour. It is Barcelona vs. AC Milan. The heroics of Ronaldinho (a.k.a GOD) against the rock solid defence of Nesta, Maldini and the likes. This is the usual time it starts. Only today-someone is going to get a computer and actually record the whole match. There is support for both the clubs. But everyone knows Barca have the edge. Two more hours and we will know who is going to the finals.

I go outside for some fresh air. The night sky is crystal clear, completely filled with stars. Everyone in all the other blocks seem to be awake as well. I take in a breath of fresh air. And as I do so, my mobile sings its ring tone -GODFATHER THEME. Wonder who would be calling this late. At the back of my mind, I know what I am thinking. I try to deny it but it just seems to come right back at me. I hope it is her.

But again-it is just that-hope. Because when I answer the call, I realize it is only my classmate asking me my notes. I respond what is required and hang up. And then I cant help myself traveling back in time- a time when I spoke to her late into the night…a time when we used to talk daily for hours together. She was the only reason why my mobile existed. She was the only reason why I was still in my right senses. Those were the times when I knew I could call her anytime and I would be given a conversation.

But then, those times are gone. These are new times. And new times are never the same as old times. It has been 2 weeks since we have spoken. It feels like a handicap. But then I know things wont get any better. But that question always remains-WHY?- I have pondered over the question ever since things began to go wrong. But never really found a convincing answer. I guess I just gotta move on…maybe I will be alone, maybe I wont. Maybe things will get better, maybe they wont. But whatever happens, I know that things will never change in the hostel.

People who study will study. Quakers quake. Music listeners listen to music. And howling dogs howl. And amidst all of them, I will still be there-waiting for that one phone call. Or maybe something better will take place. Who knows? Anything is possible in a hostel life…..

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