Saturday, November 21, 2009

Beer mujahideen

To say that today was a life-altering one for me that I'll someday look back upon with extreme joy or utter dismay would be an understatement. Without venturing into the details of the travel forum I attended, let me jump to an anecdote told to the participants by Tony Wheeler, the founder of the Lonely Planet publishing house, one of the anointed travel luminaries at the event. True, I too didn't know his name before this morning but learning of his adventurous life as the pioneer of millions of backpackers who followed in his trail, I am a fan. After all, watching the Lonely Planet TV series hosted by Ian Wright on Discovery was the sole reason I was bitten by the travel bug. Here's one of the many hilariously interesting incidents that he shared.

On a recent trip to Iran, he had a chance to get so sloshed with beer that he woke up with a bad bad hangover. He asked the youngsters who he had shared a drink with about how they managed to sneak the 'haraam' beer into the strictly Islamic republic of Iran. Funnily enough, it seems that the Mujahideen convince the Ayatollah's men that they are importing weapons for the Jehad against the 'kafirs'. Inside the crates of weapons though are bottles and cans of much appreciated Turkish beer which they sell for a neat profit to needy, fun-loving youngsters. Now at long last, here's a kind of corruption I don't have any objection to!

Friday, November 20, 2009


When leisure is short yet idle thoughts are not,
In haste must a solution be sought;
A complicated age, won't fit in a page,
The invincible must still be fought.

The blade of rhyme flashes again, slicing great adversaries,
A pocket size edition it is, of the most exotic menageries;
Of love, of hate, of inexplicable melancholy, a poet must sing,
Cramped for space, choked for time, yet all emotions must ring.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

This is the end

When I first saw her, I was hardly impressed. At that point in my life, I was bruised and sore from the heartbreak I had suffered from the first of her kind in my life. I had decided to settle for the average, embittered by my failure to find my dream candidate. She was green like her predecessor but her design was distinctly ordinary. Yet now that the time to dispose of her has come, there is nothing that causes a deeper sadness.

My little green Toyota Corolla rolled out onto the roads on New York City in 1997, when I was 13 years old and trundled into my life when I reached 25 after going through 3 different owners. 142000 miles old when I got hold of her, she carried her age rather well. The AC worked, the engine purred and the sound system was quite good for something her age. I know that Toyotas run forever but it still is surprising when you come across something that'll run forever. She has been to her hometown of NYC twice since she landed on my driveway, besides innumerable trips to Boston and thereabouts. The first month of being with me saw her trudge up 3000 miles, no ordinary achievement that! Since then, I've been a little easy on her old bones but I am sure she is not the complaining type. Her engine note has a very un-Corolla like aggressive tone to it, a fact that I appreciate every time I put my foot to the pedal.

She's got a major dent on her right rear door, a marker from a bad hair day in her past and I have managed to crack one of her wheel caps in that monstrous daily assignment called parallel parking. Her rear door power windows squeak like crazy at being used and so do her brakes early in the morning. The heater does take its own sweet time to get toasty, bombarding me with ice cold air for a few minutes before that. All her tiny flaws fade away though when I acknowledge her for what she really is, a hassle free commute with no airs about herself. It is too easy not to appreciate the simpler gifts of life and 4 odd months with this car has taught me that valuable lesson. Unfortunately the power of this 'spiritual' lesson must be sacrificed to the cause of dry economics.

Life has brought me in the past and will bring in the future many new friends, mostly people, with their flaws and gifts and for many people it's difficult to place an inanimate object at the same stature. But whether seated in her carpety old cabin negotiating Manhattan's honk-happy, rule bending traffic while a Hindi CD track blared from its sound system or just sprinting through an empty section of Route 44 after a long day at work, I find it impossible not to acknowledge this bond. I will sincerely miss you, my 4 wheeled friend!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Do I have to? Really?

I'll be honest. I hate work and refuse to believe anyone who says otherwise. When some activity takes away at least 10 hours a day from your life for at least 5 days a week, it cannot be fun even if your job is to keep Catherine Zeta Jones company on a deserted tropical island. For those of us who aren't Michael Douglas, we don't even have a task which might seem attractive at least on the surface. As Calvin put it "It's only work when someone makes you do it" and I have a whole planet of someones whose sole objective in their professional life is to make me do work (or so it seems to me).

Yet every weekday morning, I drag myself out of bed, pour myself in yesterday's set of clothes and wearily trudge into work. The reason behind this kind of self-inflicted torture is another fact of life. It's the only kind of work within my capability however dreary it may be for which folks are willing to shell out some kind of money. There are so many things that I love to do like writing, travelling, dozing (Now get me started on that one) but hell, no one's going to loan me a paisa for these passions of mine. Money is all I need to foot my travel bills, to tank up on gas for my car or my motorcycle and to ensure that I have a roof over my head to return to. These may be simple targets to aspire to but they still cost me bucket loads of cash. Of course I could use more money but what I really dread now is having to adjust with less.

What gets my goat is when some optimistic son-of-a-gun insists that I must "love" my job to bring out the "best" in me. I usually do my work with an expression akin to a bulldog afflicted with piles. As far I am concerned, any decree to love my job brings out the worst in me if anything. I am no work-shirker and do my best to fulfill my duties. Isn't it enough that I invest significant portions of what otherwise could've been an eventful life into the larger objective of my employer over which I have little or no control. Now do I have to forgo my right to crib too?