Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy Diwali

My 16 km drive to office in the morning is generally the better part of my day. I leave early between 7.30-7.45 and generally manage to beat the traffic and instead of hitting Madhapur, the IT district of Hyderabad, I prefer the Jubilee Hills-Filmnagar route. It’s a longer route, but there are no traffic lights after the Jubilee Hills Checkpost till I reach office. I love the view when I drive Jenny down from Jubilee Hills to hit the highway below where she then touches 100 kmph. Nowadays am listening to Maroon 5.

Of course sometimes I do get stuck in Jubilee Hills behind one of those school buses, which hog the road. Some of the better international schools are in the area. But also along the road, there are a bunch of less fortunate kids in white shirts and blue shorts who study in a govt. school trudging all the way from Jubilee Hills down to their school below. Some of them ask for a lift and I oblige.

Couple of days ago, as I stopped for a couple of them, the smaller of the two kept pulling the door and in the process I couldn’t open the door from within. I frantically kept trying to signal him to leave the door so that I could open the door but he wouldn’t budge. Cars lined up behind me and I could begin to hear their impatient honks over my Blaupunkt speakers. I gestured angrily, his face fell and he started walking away, puzzled and confused. I finally opened the door called him back and they both clambered in, one each in front and back. I heaved a sigh of relief and pressed on the accelerator.

The ride was silent. I asked them something but they didn’t seem to hear. They got off on the turn into the national highway.

“Thank you Uncle!”

Shit, I turn 28 in another nine days.

On my way back that day at the J Hills traffic lights, saw another kid around the same age trying to sell ear cleaning buds to the car in front of me. His sales pitch was unsuccessful and I instinctively rolled up my power windows as he started to make his way towards me. But he suddenly stopped in his tracks, his face lit up and he picked up what looked like a fallen coin from the road. Almost immediately a slightly taller half naked thin kid with a pretty obvious skin disease came to him and claimed the coin gesturing something to what seemed to me like a hole in the pocket of his oversized, dirty shorts. The smaller kid seemed to be convinced of the other kid’s explanation and handed over the coin. Out of nowhere from the darkness of the divider on the road, a ragged middle aged man with unkept hair and beard who had apparently been watching the whole thing joined them both and demanded what was going on. The second kid’s explanation obviously didn’t cut any ice with him and he forced the coin out of his hand and pushed him away with some choice words in his vocabulary. The kid went away crying, but not without shouting something at the man in return. The man gestured the first kid to continue selling and disappeared back into his resting place on the divider.

The lights went green as he started coming towards me. I sped past him and avoided looking at his face.

“Fuck! Fuck!”

And oh, Happy Diwali.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


There is 12 game Chess World Championship Match happening in Elista between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov. It’s been the most entertaining affair. A small synopsis for all you guys who don’t have much of an interest in Chess but are still reading this-

1. After 4 rounds, Vladimir Kramnik the lesser-rated player of the two leads 3-1 with two wins and two draws from 4 games.

2. Topalov’s team then submits a protest based on video evidence saying that Kramnik visits the bathroom around 50 times during the game, insinuating that he is cheating and demand the following
 That both the private bathrooms attached to the players restrooms be sealed
 That a common bathroom be made available for both players.
 That an attendant accompany both players inside the bathroom
 That all video footage relating to visits made to the bathroom be made publicly available to both teams and the media.
 They also say that Topalov will also not shake hands with Kramnik (Am not sure till now whether that’s because of his cheating or his lack of hygiene)
 If the above conditions were not met, they threaten to abandon the match.

3. The appeals committee hurriedly convenes and says the following
 That the number of visits to the bathroom made by Kramnik have been exaggerated by the Topalov team but are nevertheless unusual and
 Both private bathrooms will be sealed
 A common bathroom will be made available for use by both players
 Considering respect for privacy, an attendant will not accompany the players nor will any video footage be made available public from the toilet premises.

4. The Kramnik team then protests and says the following-
 That playing conditions were agreed to within the contract and they cannot be broken midway through the match.
 Security checks are done before and after every game of the player’s facilities and hence Topalov’s allegations are hence baseless, insulting and cowardly.
 That Kramnik likes to walk during his games and uses the space of the bathroom area for walking.
 That the appeals committee through their decision has exposed their incompetence and bias towards Topalov and hence should be sacked.
 That as per terms of the contract, his use of a private toilet be restored.
 If the above conditions were not met, he threatens to abandon the match.

5. The fifth game starts. While Topalov is at the table, Kramnik is waiting in his restroom for his toilet, which has been sealed, to be opened. He loses the game on time and Topalov is awarded the game by forfeit. The score stands at 3-2. Obviously, they didn’t shake hands.

6. The World Chess community steps in. It’s a public relations disaster for Topalov and the Appeals committee as Grandmasters around the world and the chess loving public and press support Kramnik’s position and flay the decision of the Appeals committee.

7. FIDE, the governing chess body steps in.
 They sack the members of the appeals committee.
 Restore use of private bathrooms to the players.
 But insist that the score will stand at 3-2 as per the forfeiture.

8. Kramnik plays the sixth game under protest but in the ‘larger interest of the game’. The game ends in a draw. So does the next game. Score stands at 4-3 for Kramnik.

9. Topalov’s manager does a press release where he says that 75% of Kramnik’s moves in the first four games matches with the first choice of a leading chess software, Fritz. Kramnik’s team rubbishes the claim and says that Topalov’s manager knows nothing of chess.

10. Past greats like Karpov and Korchnoi ask Kramnik to abandon the match. One of the members of the sacked appeals committee explains that the signed contract promised both players use of a restroom ‘and’ a toilet and not a restroom ‘with’ a toilet.

11. Kramnik loses the next two games. The score now stands at 4-5 for Topalov after nine games. Three more remain to be played.

Personally, I feel that Topalov is a much better player and a deserving world champ. His dynamic playing style has reinvigorated the chess scene like nothing else since Kasparov retired. But I feel sorry for Kramnik as he has been done in, a bit. I hope Topalov wins by a wide margin so that the result of the forfeited game is not called into question.

Oh yes, they have been shaking hands.

Update: Kramnik has won the 10th game. Score now at 5-5.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tagged by Rael

Eight things about me. That’s the tag. As tags go, it’s a pretty stupid one since my whole blog is about me, me, me anyway. And why eight?! That’s seven too many if you ask me for one post. But many memories involving Rael are stupid as well, but dazed and memorable nevertheless, so I shall take the plunge. Plus nowadays I am doing a lot of this, talking about myself that is.

Number 1. I have a nice small scar on my forehead. A few years ago, it would have been hardly noticeable, covered as it was by a generous presence of my protein enriched locks. But bad genes and time have together connived to make its presence felt so here’s the story behind it. Twenty four years ago…(appropriate music and the screen disappearing in bubbles-Cut to new scene in B&W-)

…I was four years old, obviously. What was not obvious to many was that I harbored secret ambitions of emerging as the fastest man on earth in four years time and give fitting company to the Payyoli express. To this end, in the spring of 1983, I had taken to running from the balcony of our Lajpat Nagar house to the other end of our abode as crucial part of my rigorous training program. My aim was to run faster than the speed of sound. I remember I used to shout before I ran and stop at the other end and check if I could still hear my war cry. Except on one of these runs, I forgot to stop and hit the wall.


So when somebody uses the expression “feels like am banging my head against the wall”, I say, “Yeah, I know what that feels like…”.

Number 2. I have flown a plane. An engineless biplane, actually. Did about 20 exhilarating flights ten years ago at the BITS flying club. Another hundred and I could have earned a flying license. But as I seemed to go higher, my grades went lower and lower till my parents cut the funding. Rael, you can back me up on this claim. By the way, why did you stop flying?

Number 3. I had a couple of months to myself before I joined my first job when I learnt to jive and wrote GMAT. My 97 percentile score will expire this year. As for jiving, well, blogging about it seems to be the only way to gain mileage from it.

Number 4. I have never voted in my life. I am quite ashamed of it. I don’t have a voters ID as yet, traveling around as I have been almost every year since I turned 18. I know that’s no excuse but I wish we could one day vote via sms like we choose our Indian Idols.

Number 5. Okay, this is just in. I skid and fell off my sister’s scooty today morning on my way to the Marina Beach for my much awaited run. Now am at home nursing multiple bruises, an anti tetanus injection and a very bruised ego.

Number 6. I believe in fate. Sometimes it’s a good thing, I take life as it comes, stay cool most of the time and am rarely ruffled by situations. Sometimes its not, because I tend to follow the car in front of me when am lost, hoping it will lead me to my destination. I can so totally identify with those three men on camels who followed that star. I mean, people call them wise now, don’t they?

Number 7. I am not a foodie. I hardly ever eat between meals and really kind of eat to live. But I want to put on weight. Now you know am an MBA.

Number 8. I wrote and composed my first and probably my last song sometime last week. It’s here if you want to see it, which you shouldn’t. But if you do, I should tell you that it still needs a title and a verse. Don’t ask me for the lyrics, am quite ashamed of their pithiness.

I tag Aravind, Kurur, The One