Sunday, December 02, 2007

On Fire

A room with a view

The failing sunshine sets the trees and the building on fire. Now the tree lay barren and the ground covered with snow.

Yay it snowed :D

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"You're Beautiful"

My life is brilliant.

My life is brilliant.
My love is pure.
I saw an angel.
Of that I'm sure.
She smiled at me on the subway.
She was with another man.
But I won't lose no sleep on that,
'Cause I've got a plan.

You're beautiful. You're beautiful.
You're beautiful, it's true.
I saw your face in a crowded place,
And I don't know what to do,
'Cause I'll never be with you.

Yeah, she caught my eye,
As we walked on by.
She could see from my face that I was,
Flying high,
And I don't think that I'll see her again,
But we shared a moment that will last till the end.

You're beautiful. You're beautiful.
You're beautiful, it's true.
I saw your face in a crowded place,
And I don't know what to do,
'Cause I'll never be with you.

You're beautiful. You're beautiful.
You're beautiful, it's true.
There must be an angel with a smile on her face,
When she thought up that I should be with you.
But it's time to face the truth,

-James Blunt

Sometimes you live your life in an instant. And sometimes even an eternity seems too less...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Saturday, October 27, 2007

LFS School Anthem

Welcome to this amazing performance, *ing Abhishek Ranjan, Neha Sinha Pappu (aka Abinash Rout), and PV Sushmita.

Great job guys !! Keep it up ;-). ROFL !!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007


GEMINI Drinking style

Gemini's can drink without changing their behavior much-- they're so naturally chatty and short-attention-spanned that it's just hard to tell sometimes. They can amaze you by conversing with finesse and allusion, then doing something to belie an extremely advanced state of intoxication, like puking in your shoe. Gemini's possess the magic ability to flirt successfully (and uninfuriatingly, which is very tricky) with several people at once. They like to order different cocktails every round -- repetition is boring -- and may create a theme (like yellow drinks: beer, sauvignon blanc and limoncello) for their own amusement.

Quite true I must say. Except the flirting part ;-)

Note to self: Sleep properly before an exam. Especially an econometrics exam.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Energy: The Politics and Economics of

This post couldn't have come at a more opportune time. With Al Gore winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to make the world aware about global warming it time we start talking about energy and the powers that govern them.
Most of the unwarranted politics in the world is around one of two things arms and oil. Oil primarily. One who has control of the oil well controls the way the world goes around. The developed world is so dependent on gasoline, aviation fuel and what not that it shudders to think of a day when people turn up to the gas station and the pumps have run dry. Especially the US. Hence its ever increasing desire to control the oil supplies in the world, by money or by force as witnessed by the recent wars (on terrorism ??). A lot of strife in the world is perpetuated by this fight for oil. The Al Kahida hates the US and the US hates their guts and both of them engage in mindless bloodshed that hurts the world at large. It divides people, us versus them. And I think most of it goes back to this fight for Oil.
Now why am I talking about oil politics? I think we have depended on this fossil fuel for a long enough time and definitely the debates show that this mechanism is not sustainable. We should look for alternate sources of energy. That has been common knowledge for years. But I believe asking the developed nations to lead the way would not help. Their switching costs are too high and most of the people in power want the monopoly of oil to continue. It fills up their coffers. An average American can't even imagine a day when there would be no oil left such is the dependence. Its very unlikely that they will make the switch.
This offers the developing nations a big incentive to explore new and sustainable energy sources. They have not made extensive investments for exploiting these fossil fuels and most probably they will not have a say in the allocation when OPEC decides the quota. I think it offers then an excellent opportunity to do extensive research and develop alternate forms of energy.
If they were successful this would definitely make them a more independent and prosperous as a country. It will also make the human race more sustainable and maybe the world a more peaceful place to live in.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fall Break is here. YAY !!

Have a great fall break guys !!!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Life as a grad student

Life has strange ways of playing tricks with you. At times it puts you through really hard times, and yet you feel happy about it. I don't think I would have worked as hard ever in my life before, not even for the JEE. I guess that was a piece of cake compared to the effort I am putting in now. Some of that is definitely due to the fact that I have been away from student life for a long time, but most of it just because grad students in the US are expected to work a lot, especially here at Wharton. And I am doing mostly economics and statistics courses this semester dosent help things a lot, they being almost new topics for me. Add to that the fact that I am considerably underpaid compared to my last job [ boohoo :'( ], I am away from my friends and family and do not have the material luxuries that I was used to in my earlier life.
Even after having said all this, I somehow like this life. I like working till 2AM only to get back to my office around 9 in the morning. I think thats because I really love my department and the people around, it just has this energetic vibes. Like one of my friends said, "We have the coolest profs ever in our department. They are much cooler than the students". I don't think that speaks too much about the doctoral students here but I think she is absolutely right :-) Most of them bike to school, have a couple of startups/companies to their name and are real fun people to hang out with. And YEAH they are very well respected academically.
The only thing that worries me is I need to get into a routine soon and take out some time for myself, for my photography, travel and having fun. Or I just might die of boredom. But now I must head back to my books :-)
PS: I think I'll update my blog more frequently

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mindstorm NXT

Something that I conceptualized 5 years back comes to life. WOW !!! I feel accomplished, though I am still a poor grad student :-)
I pushed so hard for this distributed architecture to be adopted while I was interning at LEGO in the summer of 2002. Though I worked closely with the Mindstorm team for well over a year I am not sure that they still remember me. I guess I would have been lost in the mound of paperwork and office politics. But I feel really glad to see that my baby finally materialized into a product :D
WOW !!
If any of the LEGO guys are reading this PLEASE SEND ME A COMPLIMENTARY KIT :D

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Doors of Perception

“We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies - all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.”

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


It took me close to 3 hours to read a 7 page paper written in the 50s.

I feel elated :)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Changing tides...

I was discussing something with Kartik the other day and the new Dean comes in and says hello. After an initial round of introductions this is what the conversation goes like.

D: "Where are you from?"

Moi: "Jamshedpur"
and he is a little confused,

Moi: "Its where the Tata's have most of their production facilities"

D: "Oh yeah, I am going to call up Ratan Tata in a few days to discuss certain things. So are the biggest in India?"

Moi: "No I guess the Reliance guys are."

Kartik: "Their head is an alum of our school."

D: "Yeah I am taking to Anil tomorrow."


...and still I can't find a place to stay :-(

Anyways do let me know if you know someone, even if he is your cousin fourth removed, who is looking for a roommate or is looking for a house to share with someone. I'll be extremely obliged.

To be soon homeless in Philly

Monday, June 25, 2007


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

At no point in my life did this poem sound more apt than it does now. Giving up a life of certainty, monetary stability (well I am not $RICH$ but still my employers kept me well provided for ;) ) and of course the proximity of loving friends and family seems to be getting to me. But I guess this too shall pass. Will it make all the difference? I do not know...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


This one is for you Meenakshi :-)

I am jobless.

my PowerBook died and since I am jobless I don't have money to get it repaired.

Since I don't have my PowerBook I can't get a job.

Hence the cycle continues....

Hehehe so now my days are spent fighting with the guys at Apple, sleeping endless hours and catching up on some reading. I guess this the most interesting one's life could get :-)

Anyways now that I am on the verge of going back to college, I am getting cold feet. I am handling the situation by not thinking about it at all. I have developed partial amnesia to the fact that I shall be leaving Bangalore soon. I trust people around me to shove me on the the train when the date is due.

AND I have a writer's block...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

From a zoom lense...

...everything seems interesting. I have been noticing this for sometime, when ever I change over from a wide angle to a zoom lens things take on a different hue. The crowd changes to a face narrating the story of an individual. seems to get accentuated, the shining eyes, the wisp of hair, the sagging lines on the face. Small insignificant things get a life of their own and appear spectacular. Patterns emerge out of chaos. The other day I was shooting at a temple and I chanced up to an elderly man. Round spectacles, gandhi topi, all dressed in white. His face dark in complexion was packed with dots, wrinkled with age. He seemed to be an anachronism. But I somehow connected to him through the viewfinder of my camera even though he was more than 200 feet away.

Anything and everything is interesting. If we look close enough.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Just what the doc ordered...

The Plan

  • Each team consists of two members
  • Each person is allowed Rs. 1000 and a back pack.
  • Participants are allowed to carry extra money, but are not encouraged to use it unless they are in some deep trouble.
  • Remotest village in a state is a must visit.
  • Farther the distance of travel from starting point more the fun.

3,166,414 sq. km
500,000 villages approximately
1000 bucks per person
28 states
15 days
10 destinations
2 per team
1 race

Are You Game?

I am thinking I'll take part in this competition, not for the sake of winning but just for the travel. I guess I'll be able to collect lot of material for the book during the race. If you want to pitch in with me drop me comment with your email id/phone no and I shall get back. See you there.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Lonesome Chairs

Locust Walk, Philadelphia

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Rapid Fire

YAY I got tagged !! By Anki...

1. Pick out a scar you have, and explain how you got it.
A slit on my abdomen. Keep guessing how I got it.

2. What is on the walls in your room?
1100 piece jigsaw puzzles and a couple of framed photographs... No more are my walls adorned with scantily clad women.

3. What does your phone look like?
A Remington Typewriter.

4. What music do you listen to?
Rabindra Sangeet.

5. What is your current desktop picture?

6. What do you want more than anything right now?
A trip to the Bahamas. Scantily clad women would be the icing on the cake ;-)

7. Do you believe in gay marriage?
As long as I am not involved anything is fine. BTW how about group marriages ?

8. What time were you born?
9:30 PM on a Friday. Now you know why I am so chilled out :D

9. Are your parents still together?
No and Yes.

10. What are you listening to?
iTunes Radio.

11. Do you get scared of the dark?
I am scared of light, I think my body will disintegrate when sunlight hits me. So I am dormant during daytime.

12. The last person to make you cry?
Boys dont cry.

13. What is your favorite perfume/cologne?
Deep Blue ;)

14. What kind of hair/eye colour do you like on the opposite sex?

15. Do you like pain killers?
Why would I like something that kills me ?

16. Are you too shy to ask someone out?
Actually I am, and I act pricey to hide the fact.

17. Favorite pizza topping?
Lots of veggies and less cheese.

18. If you could eat anything right now, what would it be?
Ingera and Misr Allecha (Ethopian dishes)

19. Who was the last person you made mad?
I have attained Nirvana. Nothing can make me mad.

20. Is anyone in love with you?
I would LOVE to believe that girls all over the world are drooling over me. Does that answer the question?

Now the important part [wicked grin], I would like to tag Meenakshi, Vyom and Cuckoo. I dont know why someone would like to inflict oneself with the pain willingly, but hey anyone else is welcome if you want to :D

Friday, April 27, 2007

Show me the Money, Honey

Why is money such a bad word in India? If someone were to say "I like money" he is always looked down upon in our society. It has been seen as a vice almost synonymous with sex and all the things considered bad in the Indian value system. Too much money corrupts, we have been taught. Everyone wants money, but no one is ready to accept the fact. Why such hypocracy?

You would have heard lot of managers say you should not be working for money. Now this is one thing I fail to understand. I can always do better work in an academic institution or on my own. I work for a company whose ONLY responsibility is to create wealth for its stakeholder. The only REASON I might be interested in working for a corporate entity is the fact that I WANT MONEY. What is so difficult to comprehend? The whole charade that the HR puts up during recruitment and the managers henceforth is so sickening. I say India, because I am familiar with the recruitment practices elsewhere and almost all employers worldwide are ready to talk about and negotiate the compensation except India.

Lots of people have told me that they want to start companies. They have this great technical idea that would change the lives of millions, they are sick of working for someone else, they want some excitement in their otherwise mundane life. These might be valid reasons for thinking of a startup but if you are not interested in making money you can't be an entrepreneur. Period. I think this conscious aversion about money or talking about it needs to change if a new wave of entrepreneurship has to sweep through India and give rise to the silicon valley. People need to start thinking of money before they get the itch to create great companies.

Lots of money.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Post India

For those of you wondering what is this about, a friend of mine and I am writing a book. You can find more about it here. Put up this poster on your blog, on your office bulletin board, you college gazette and where ever it might catch people's fancy. You can get a high res version of the poster by clicking on the image or here. Any help shall be really appreciated :-)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Virginia Tech Shootout

My heart goes out to the students and faculty members who lost their lives in the massacre. Virginia Tech is supposed to be of the most peaceful college communities and no one would have expected something like this to happen there. The sheer suddenness of the event is shocking and disturbing. Is there a SAFE place left in this world?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


"The Storm". Painting by Francesco Guardi.

A painting very similar to the one about used to hang in my grandfather's studay when I was a kid. There was something so melancholic about the painting that used to indimidate me so much that I woke up at nights in a pool of sweat. The paints was pretty simple, a huge mast ship in the midst of a raging storm. It was not the subject that ailed me but the colors, they seemed to suck out the all the energy from the spectator, putting him in the same despair that people aboard the ship might have been feeling. Thats one of the strongest evidences I have seen of colors being used to convey emotions. Sadly this picture dosen't dosent potray the helpless I felt after seeing the painting that hung on the wall. I have changed a lot since I saw that painting first. I am no longer afraid of water, I can swim pretty well. But even now when I think of the painting on the wall, a shudder passes through me. Just thinking about it transforms me to a state of helplessness and saps aways all my energy and mirth.

Have you ever felt something similar?

Friday, April 13, 2007


वाह क्या बात है। अब हिंदी में ब्लॉगर !!

मैं खुश हुआ।

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Potrait of an Young Man as the Photographer

I have always had this fascination for photography, but not until recently since I started some serious photography did I realize it would change me. For Good.

Patience: As a photographer I have developed lot of patience, precariously perched on my haunces, with sweat tricking down my face, waiting for the opportune moment to click the scene. Not to forget the insanely heavy camera and the lense.

Carpe Diem: In photography you need seize the moment. Nothing lasts for more than a second, if you have captured it, its for you to keep or it might have gone forever.

Resilience: You learn to live with your mistakes and evolve with them. At times I have spent the entire day clicking photographs only to realize I didnt choose the correct ISO or I had a greasy lense.

Photography has taught me a lot more than any class or college I ever went to. Long live photography and long live the photographer in me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Yet another change of address...

My friends (- MissT) keep complaining about my frequent change in coordinates, and finally when I thought I am done for good its time to move again.

This time I shall be moving to Philadelphia, spending the next 4 years (hopefully not more) at Wharton working towards a PhD. That was the only place I had sent in an aplication and I was fortunate enough to get selected. A hurried trip to Philly convinced me that its a great department, very vibrant. The profs seemed like really nice people and the students are extremely smart. People who have been admitted with me have calls from all the top schools like Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, and Chicago. I hope all of them join, it would be a great group. I am in esteemed company :D

Its time to do some serious work now. After graduating in 2003, I have been mostly whiling away time. Work has been interesting but only in patches. I have worked with some really cool technology, contributed my bit but learning has been mostly off work rather than on it. The last few years have been good in eroding the naivety that was almost synonymous with my thinking while I left college. Now I understand the people and the world in a better light. I think I am a lot more mature and focused now and this is an appropriate time to go back to grad school and make the world a better place...

Wish me luck :D

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Children at play. City Market, Bangalore

Monday, March 12, 2007

B&W - II

Kids posing at City Market, Bangalore

Sunday, March 11, 2007

B&W - I

Barber @ Brigade Road, Bangalore

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Why do we read books?

I was with one of my oldest school friend Anand yesterday and we were discussing how a book is a reflection of an authors experiences and desires, both met and unmet. The discussion somehow came around to Fountainhead and then Ayan Rand. I started narrating the story of We the Living to him. After listening to me patiently for a while he asked what was it about the book that made me like it so much. At that point I told him I really liked the character of Kira Argunova, one of the strongest female characters I have ever encountered.

This question persisted with me on my way to Bangalore. On some contemplation I reached the following conclusion. As we live our lives we undergo several experiences, some pleasant some not so. Each of them make our lives richer if we are willing to understand and assimilate them. I think its the same thing when we read a book, a book transports us to a place set in the writers imagination. Personally I get so engrossed in a book that I feel a part of the scene that the author describes. Watching sunsets with the lovers holding hands or fighting the battle with the wounded soldier, breathing in the same air that they exhale. For me the experience of reading a book is as real as experiencing it in real life, images flashing by in quick succession. I mostly see a book than read it.

Coming back to the question poised by Anand, I liked the book because I loved the fact that I knew someone like Kira, so passionate, so full of life and love. Someone who fought to rebuild the future and did not give up hope till the very end. I loved the fact that I existend in the same space with her. Even though it was fictional and transient. But isn't everything around us? Mere spacedust ?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The break in the clouds

"I don't think we can spend our lives together".

The unnerving silence that ensued consumed all unanswered questions. There were so many things she wanted to ask, to say, but the silence stiffled her. It had been months, years since she last met him, touched him. She was too overwhelmed with emotions to even count the number of days since they had broken up. Like a child dreads to enter a dark unexplored cave, she too was afraid that counting back to that unfortune day would rip apart her already battered heart. Mia did not have the courage to think about the last conversation she had with him. Before that everything else was crystal clear as if it had happened only yesterday. After that it didn't make a difference. Her life had come to a standstill, she went on living like an automaton, bathing, eating, sleeping - fulfilling the bare necessaties for survival, without emotions without feeling.

"We'll always be together ?"
"Till death does us apart honey"

Mia distintly remembered the day he has proposed to her. She was sitting by the window looking out at the sun setting over the lake with Bob Dalyn palying in the background. A box of Godiva chocolate lay in front of her, that he had got on his way back from Europe. She smiled and picked up the box, she was waiting for him to come before she opened the box. He could be heard in the kitchen, fiddling with the pots and pans to make coffee. Love for chocolate got the better of her and she ripped apart the wrapping paper. She opened the box to find one sole piece of chocolate remaining with a note. It read...

"The world's finest chocholate for the most wonderful girl in my life."

She broke it into two like she always did and there lay the ring. Overwhelmed by emotions, she ran up to him, hugged him and kissed him. The happniness was so intense it, came out in tears.

Its strange how tears change their meaning, the same tears that were a harbinger of happniess now represented intense sorrow and pain. Even the mention of his name used to make her eyes well up. They had been known as a couple for so long that everyone inquired about his absence. Initially she answered their questioning glances with a feeble smile, but soon she started to withdraw from the company of others. Acquaintances fell off and then even close friends followed suit. She wrapped a cacoon around herself that absorbed all the sounds from the outside. Nothing could get through to her. She no longer lived in this world, just continued a mere existance.

Mia was the only child, and fiercely independent. After her parents passed away she lived all alone. Wary of the ways of the world she allowed very few people to come close to her. A few friends at college, some relatives were the only people who knew what went on with her. Most of her evenings were spent in solitude looking out of the window or curled up with a book. Though a recluse in personal life, she was warm and helpul in the social world. Always ready to win people's heart with a smile and to lend a hand whenever required, as long as her personal space wasn't breeched. While working for CRY, she had met him. He was leading a project that she had volunteered for. The attraction was by no means instantaneous, Mia wasn't a girl given into emotional and hasty descisions. They met a couple of times and they started liking each other's company, the fondness that grows out of being with someone amicable for long durations of time. Slowly yet cautiously, she opened the door into her world. It was more than a year before they went out on their first date. It was pouring heavily when he arrived at her doorstep. He took out a crumpled bunch of flowers from underneath his jacket. She smiled and they hugged.

Every passing moment of her life she waited. She waited for his letters, his phone calls. She longed for him to return. She burned for his touch and his kisses. She listend to every footfall, lest it belong to him. At every knock she prayed to God that it was him. In the night she would get up when she didn't find him sleeping next to her. Everything was the way he had left it, nothing was moved out of place. He could come back tomorrow and start living as if nothing had happened. Everything that he had left behind lay encased in time. Whenever she was at home she could not bear to wear anything apart from the clothes that smelled of him. That was the only thing she looked forward to when she went back home. She always set two plates on the table, and waited for him to come home for dinner. When no one turned up she dumped all her evening's effort into the garbage.

She could never fathom why he had left her. Was it because of something she did, did he fall in love with another girl, where did he go away? There was so much that was left unanswered. In the night, these questions spread their heads like monstrous snakes ready to annihilate her. They grew within her till she could no longer contain them and more often than not came out in a flurry of tears. Her pillow was always drenched when she woke up in the mornings.

They had always gone on walks together, starlit night, cool chilly mornings. That was there most favourite hobby as a pair. When he was gone she continued retracing their steps. Everyday she hoped to find him jogging along one of these roads. But that day never came.

Once on her daily rendezvous, omnious clouds threatened the city. A thunderstorm was announced and everyone was asked to stay indoors, but she had more overpowering thoughts on her mind. Her own safety was the least of her concerns. She started out from her home driven by a maniacal urge that could not be restrained. After she had gone a long distance it started to rain. First it came down in mild droplets but soon the earth was pelted with ernomous raindrops. The stinging rain shot a wave of pain through her but she continued her quest. Soon she started to enjoy the suffering inflicted by the torrent. For once in many days she was thinking about something other than him. It was almost as if she had taken recluse in the pain caused by the downpour to escape from his memories that had haunted her. When she got back home she was completely drenched, her hair plastered all over her face. All her clothes were dripping.

She stepped out of her clothes and started to dry herself. Her hands automatically reached out to his jersey but then suddendly she stopped. For once she found the warmth of the towel more comforting than his clothes. She walked across the room and sat down by the window. The rain had stopped and the moon shone though the clearning in the clouds. The lake was bathed in the milky moonlight, she sat there, mesmerised, for a long while. Solitude was peaceful again. After sometime she got up and tucked herself in the bed. She thought about him, but this time there was a smile on her face instead of agony, she lovingly though of the time they had spent together and wished for his happiness. The rain had washed away all the pain and hurt, it had dissovled all the buring questions that haunted her. They no longer mattered now, she was at peace with herself. Soon sleep took over and she fell into deep slumber, one like she had not know in a long time. She slept calmly, the sleep took away all the tiredness weariness, for tomorrow would be a new day.

A tear of happiness escaped from her eyes.

This post was inspired by Meenakshi's post. I wanted to find a happy ending to her story and here is my 2 cents worth. I don't know a lot about love and am not romantically inclined though I strongly believe there should be a closure to all relationships. Only then do we have pleasant memories, otherwise all that stays behind is unanswered questions that cause anguish.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Of men and ships

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.

-Antoine-Marie-Roger de Saint-Exupery

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Reaching into the void

The International Finance Centre, Hong Kong

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Saturday, February 17, 2007


"Reach for the sun, O new-age-Icarus! Thou shalt not fall for thy wings are made of the sternest stuff. Dream the highest dreams, do not look back, for the future is yours to conquer. Adieu!I wish you the very best."

- Supriyo Bose, IIT Kanpur - 2003

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Struggler’s Guide to Mumbai

A great article by Taran Khan I came across on the Struggle in Bollywood.

Great moments from the life of Rajesh M, aspiring actor. “After one performance, I saw Mahesh Bhatt beckoning me from the other side of the (Prithvi) café. I started walking towards him, heart pounding, and it was the longest walk of my life.” Just as Rajesh reached the director, Bhatt’s phone rang. “He started talking, put an arm around me and we walked around the café. All eyes were on me, I could see them thinking, iski to nikal pari--—this guy is made.” Then, as they reached the edge of the theatre, Bhatt got into an auto and left, still talking on his phone. Rajesh still agonises over that moment which occurred years ago. “What if that call hadn’t come right then? Would he have given me a chance in some film? Would my life have been totally different?” Welcome to the Bollywood Struggle, a sub-culture held together by handshakes, inspirational myths and liberal amounts of wishful thinking.

The Struggle may seem chaotic and random, but scratch the surface and highly developed patterns emerge. Long before Orkut was thought of, strugglers had written the code. A new recruit, depending on his lineage (NSD, Delhi, FTII) and inclination, is almost immediately inducted into specific networks and communities. There are well-defined routes to the ‘break’, signposted for your convenience. There are even conduits, channelling frustrated talents in other directions. It is possible to build a wider network, even to switch allegiance to another circle. But, as actor Vinay Pathak asserts, “You have to be part of the system.”

The ‘system’ demands that connections be honoured. Work goes to friends, or friends of friends. To struggle is to leap over the six degrees that separate you from the person in charge. “I knew someone who had a friend at an office…” is how most stories begin. The Struggle is to gain that point of access. There are always people who got there before you, a crowd straining to catch up. The Struggle is a growth industry, with every success story inspiring hundreds more to board the train. Faces change, people move up or out, but the hang out joints, the addas and the route remains the same.

The road to success is called The Struggle.


When Shah Rukh Khan first came to Mumbai, so goes the story, he stood on the rocks at Marine Drive and yelled, “One day, I will rule this city.” Devotees who pay homage to the spot feel compelled to do the same, preferably in a dramatic silhouette against the evening sky. Variations to this theme include asking “Mumbai ka don kaun?” a la Manoj Bajpai in Satya. There is only one correct answer to that.


As his train pulls into Mumbai, the struggler has just two words to guide him in the teeming city- “Andheri station”. This is where most arrivals get picked up by their ‘seniors’, old hands at the game. At the Irani restaurant across the road, they get their first taste of what will be their staple diet for at least the next few months— milky tea and gyan— information, gossip, phone numbers, lots of hope. The struggle has begun.


Where a struggler eats is an accurate indication of his market worth. Most newbies are found at roadside Punjabi dhabas, like National Restaurant, Bandra, where Dharmendra and Shatrughan Sinha used to dig into cheap chapatis. The action has now moved to Lokhandwala’s Guru da Dhaba. Scaling the food chain is important, but revisiting the haunts of your struggling days is permitted for purely nostalgic purposes.


The workout is purely incidental. In gyms like Barbarian or Sykz in Bandra and Andheri, more connections than muscles are being built. “Behind every actor on the treadmill, there will be five strugglers waiting for their turn, just so they can shake his hand and say hello,” says Rishabh Sinha, actor. Also developed is the fine art of greeting a celebrity like a long-lost friend, or at least a steady acquaintance, on the very first meeting.


The struggle never sleeps. In a one-hour conversation, Sinha exchanges fifteen handshakes, twelve nods and at least one conversation with each table. “This is all part of the struggle,” he explains. The fiercest networking is in small teashops. With success comes Barista and other upmarket coffee shops where writers and directors meet. It may appear otherwise, but the cappuccino-sipping horde is actually hard at work, waiting to be discovered.


In times of loneliness or celebration, strugglers seek out the sea, usually on Versova beach. If the mood for contemplation occurs during the day, coconut water suits the script. But at night, the ‘Rock Bar’ offers better comfort from the liquor shop nearby. The resultant bonhomie regularly prompts more optimistic members of the group to strike a pose on a handy elevation and declare, “Ek din apna bhi aayega doston. Our time will come.”


In the carefully graded hierarchy of locations, an invitation to the JW Marriott, by a director or producer is cause for celebration. “A guy calling you to Andheri station can only give you hope, a meeting at Barista can yield a number to call. But the Marriott can only mean The Break,” explains Sinha. This is when the credits roll on the ‘struggling days’, and the screen reads The Happy End. Or, as they say in Bollywood, The Beginning.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A new dawn

The days have gone by, pages of the calendar have flipped and another year has marched right in. Almost stealthily. Last year saw a lot of activity both pleasant and upleasant. It was an year filled with activity. A year that started in New York and almost ended in Bangkok. I changed jobs, parted company from a lot of friends. Last year helped me gain a lot of direction in life, now I DO KNOW for once in my life what I want to do. That realization also brought in lot of hard work or at least the inclination. I believe this year too will be extremely eventful. Though I do not know what it has in store for me, I am excited at the onset.

I hope you too will have an extremely joyous year. "Naya saal mubarak ho"

BTW I am in love with Picasa and have uploaded a lot of my photographs on picasaweb. As time passes by I grow fonder of this hobby of mine, sometimes it almost reaches maniacal frenzy when I go out in the cold at 11 in the night to click night photographs. I hope this fascination will continue to grow. Have a look at the pics and let me know your opinions and suggestions. Till I write next, Alvida