Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Toilet Paper 2

Worked backwards, the numbers looked like this - three million dollars a month meant an average of hundred thousand a day, which spread over hundred outlets worked out to thousand dollars a day. With an average selling price of ten dollars, he would have to push more than a hundred quantities per outlet to make the numbers. That was, of course, assuming that he operated within the area norms that were set for each sales manager. Breaking the law would help him rope in another hundred customers at the very least. That made the equation a lot simpler. Fifty units per outlet seemed realistic given the daily demand of his product in the areas put together was definitely more than fifty.

Summarising the plan in a worksheet, Sachin saved the file on his desktop. Since his plan involved area encroachment, he didn’t think it wise to e-mail it to his boss. He wore a smile of satisfaction – satisfaction from his efforts and from his calculating and scheming mind. It was ten in the night. The day’s work was coming to a close. He planned a quick smoke before heading out to the parking lot towards his car.

Suddenly, his pocket vibrated. Sachin was happily distracted in his self-glory, and the vibration caught him unawares. His wife was calling him on his mobile phone.

Same old stuff – when are you coming back home, honey. I’ve been sitting around watching TV all alone, waiting for you to return. Dinner has been ready for the past hour or so, and we’re getting late….we hardly get time to talk Sachin, we haven’t even finished watching Slumdog Millionaire coz you’ve been so tired every time you come back home…blah..blah...blah.

On his way back home, he stopped by a twenty-four-seven supermarket outlet, and bought himself a packet of condoms. Evidently, sex remained important. Biological need. And perhaps a good release after a hard day’s work.

Back into the car, Sachin turned on the radio, and turned up the volume. He was typically Gen X, so he refrained from old forms of music, and was an ardent follower of hip-hop. And he liked them loud. Like most of his generation, Sachin belonged to that cohort that endorsed hard work and hard partying. Hard liquor. Hard women. Fast cars. But he always kept his priorities in place – his work was worship, he believed in fast organisational growth, he believed in cracking sales orders that others found difficult to, even if it meant servicing the market till the wee hours of the morning. And even at that hour, our Gen X protagonist had enough time to down a couple of beers, get that quick high and return home to wake up his mistress and knock her up.

Gen X. Generation X. Work hard, party hard.

Inside the car, the radio played back to back rap numbers with techno beats. Got the adrenaline rushing in Sachin’s body, and he pressed the accelerator harder. The songs ended and the radio aired an ad on Mother’s Day, and it spoke about special ways of greeting your mum.

It hit him suddenly. He had a mother! He had nearly forgotten…it must’ve been twenty days since he last exchanged words with her. She had called him in between but he was busy, and he didn’t find time since to call her back. This was well timed-this Mother’s Day. He thought of what he could do for her. He decided to spend five thousand rupees this time, just so that his mum knew how special she was to him. He was sure something good would come for that sum of money, and in any case, he would leave it to his wife to actually go shop and pick something up.

For the remaining part of his journey back home, he kept thinking about his sales plan. The promotion had better come this appraisal.

He turned the keys to his house, and entered it with dainty steps. The lights were out, and it seemed that his wife had reconciled to a night without dinner.

Emotional b****.

He opened the fridge and fixed something for himself. He didn’t want to wake her up, for this would mean an unnecessary resistance to him watching the repeat telecast of MTV’s latest reality show. What he really loved about the show was the aggression and attitude it portrayed. Women were swearing and scheming, men were shouting and flirting. Survival of the fittest. Sachin liked this kind of stuff. Like his other Gen X cohorts. He liked it when someone flipped the middle finger on national television – it demonstrated a new wave of courage and independence. In peace, he scooped up another episode of the reality show, and happily enough, his wife kept snoring in the other room.

He entered the bedroom. Slowly undressed and got on the bed. Climbed on top of his wife’s body and started kissing her gently.

“Not today please, I’m sleepy and I’m tired. You take so long these days, Sachin. I feel like spending some time with you in the evenings. Our marriage wasn’t meant to be like this, Sachin. "

Sachin looked at her from the corner of his eye. She could spend the rest of her life whining away. She simply didn’t belong to his generation.

“ Today was your mother’s birthday. Did you wish her? "

Sachin felt his brain freezing into a cold mass. He had forgotten his mother’s birthday. Despite God’s way of reminding him through the radio ad a few hours before, it didn’t register to Sachin that the day also happened to be one that he had celebrated with pomp for the first twenty odd years of his life. He used to be the first to wish his mum, and always made paper cards for her. Those cards had words like “ I love you Mummy” written on them. Even at eighteen, he brought home a big chocolate cake and arranged for fifty candles to be mounted on them. His mother would, almost always, work hard in the kitchen, preparing the most delicious of dishes for her Sachin. Even on her birthdays. Those birthdays were fun. Really were.

But all that was before he identified himself with this burgeoning generation of conscious career minded individuals. Before he joined Gen X.

It fittingly took the coward to arrange a few words to reply to his wife’s question.

“ I did call her, but her phone was not reachable. I felt miserable about not being able to wish her. Infact I was thinking of buying her a nice gift this time…I’ve kept aside five thousand…You know what, we can go back to the home furnishings shop…or wait, how about that sari you were telling me about…I think Mummy will love something of your choice………………..”

He kept talking. But his words didn’t reach his mother, who was fast asleep in another part of thr world, with moisture collecting on her cheeks.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Toilet Paper - 1

After a long hiatus, I wear the gown of the tainted caviar once again. This one is for, and inspired by Faraz, my fellow social analyst. For most of you, this post will seem exaggerated and unecessary, perhaps in some cases even blasphemous. I only remembered Dylan’s fine words in ‘The Times They Are A Changing’ as I wrote this .

'Come mothers and fathers /Throughout the land / And don't criticize / What you can't understand / Your sons and your daughters / Are beyond your command / Your old road is / Rapidly aging / Please get out of the new one / If you can't lend your hand / For the times they are a-changin'.

A word of thanks to Faraz and Sritanu for helping me make the edges finer. :-)

Deliriously scanning the abundant options that lay before her on the dressing table, she began her hour long preparation for hosting her son's soon to be in laws. Garnished in a fashionable maroon sari, Tulsi decided to leave no stone unturned in her efforts to please her guests. After all, this was about a potential family union, and, all said and done, it was important that the guests got a feel of the status of the family their daughter would get married into. Tulsi set about the only task that her parochial and insular mind-frame best allowed her to perform – a fashionable look.

I’d love to write a few words about Tulsi, and as it turns out, a few words are all that I have. She struggled to pass out of high school – failed in mathematics in her board exams – and chose wisely to opt out of college education. Her parents married her off to a wealthy businessman in Gujarat, and since then she has done few more things of consequence than breast feed her five children. Any more words on her, and I’d feel, out of justice, the need to write a piece on a pebble in one of the coasts of Malabar.

Her son, Ram, was twenty five and still unmarried. She had been persuading him to tie the knot with the daughter of an associate of her husband. It was, in her eyes, plain unwise to keep a good rishtha on the hold for so long – the girl came from a noble family with several fat bank accounts, a marble floored villa with ten servants that (as against who) attended to them. Hence, she was a good girl. The only potential stiletto in this affair was the subject of the girl’s looks. Tulsi was yet to see the lovely lady.

Cut to the present. Tulsi dressed her hair in a traditional manner – yes, tradition went hand in hand with religion and race. The maroon sari and the maroon lip stick blended exquisitely. She was ready – ready to gift her son a woman to go to bed with.

She made a quick call to her husband, who seemed to be running late with a series of meetings lined up for the evening. Work is worship – so she did not want to create a sense of immediacy in this matter. Plus in her society, the rich Indian society, a woman simply could not be impudent enough to be telling her husband when to wind up his work. She quietly made a note of this on her laundry list – the girl she would soon visit needed to be obedient, and if need be, ready to subjugate herself to her husband’s emotional and physical needs. The man, her son, would be the bread earner. Well, in their case, let’s call him the diamond earner. Yes, the son should be given enough space to bring home the diamonds.

Although the girl had earned herself a masters degree in economics, and was presently employed with a bank, Tulsi thought it short work to convince her to renounce her employment. In an attempt to be logical, she felt that divorce rates in India were going up because of women choosing their own careers. Not that she had read a report on divorce rates – she’d never read anything except her prayer book – but a fellow member of her kitty party had made this point last week. Kitty parties were often her window to current affairs, and the vaginal dialogues were surely a treat to experience. The new generation was beginning to displease her by the day – women were being educated, relationships of love and romance were acceptable amongst youngsters, religion was not being taken seriously, women had increased tolerance towards the consumption of alcohol – a host of social changes that unsettled our Tulsi. She remained a naysayer, a cynic through this apocalyptic social reformation. Not only were some of her son’s friends atheists, some of them even had Muslim friends. Her good sense had prevailed, and Tulsi never let a Muslim walk past the doors of her house. Krishna, and Ram, and Bhramha, and Shiv, and Lakshmi and Saraswati would not forgive her for it. Never.

Our class conscious woman then makes herself comfortable in front of the television. She would miss her favourite Ekta Kapoor soaps today, because the guests were expected any moment. Yes- Ekta Kapoor was her partner in this contemptuous attack on the changing Indian society. Her artistery, and febrile works brought out the delicacies in our social fabric, a fabric that needed to be maintained, preserved. A culture that could not be compromised with the changing times. A set of values that need to be frozen in time regardless of the changing socio-economic and political situation in the country, in the world. To be fair to her, she has a point. As long as the floor in her mansion remained marbled, why would she take the trouble of engaging herself with a social evolution. I mean, one can understand if one has to change one’s beliefs based on an economic requirement. Even today, she had budgeted for 50 lakhs for her son’s wedding. Actually ‘budget’ is a big word in this context, but if you add the 10 lakhs that came as gifts, presents and other sophisticated words that sound better than dowry, then one had to question the very need of trying to make a social change.

The doorbell rang. The guests were slowly ushered in by the trained servants. Tulsi directed her focus on the girl. Her skin was dark. Darker than her son’s.

Our protagonist needs to get back to work –she has to somehow find a way out of this. Her son simply didn’t deserve this. She uttered a silent yet trembling prayer to Lord Krishna, and slowly set about her task.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

3rd February

The road ahead bends once, bends twice,
Where only fools rush in, say the wise,
I’m a trained jester, with a pair of lonesome eyes,
Caught in the wrong place, where only my mind applies
The verdict of this tainted life-elect,
Is measured by the minutes spent in retrospect,
In the hour of darkness, hour of strife,
You make all the difference in my life
But I just can’t stop hoping in vain,
To be that little boy once again.

When I couldn’t count two and two,
When I didn’t know who’s who
When I couldn’t use a knife or a spoon,
When I didn’t know how to blow a balloon,
A surreal calm had protected my world,
My vision was never quite so blurred,
In my bland existence, a butterless toast,
You’re the ones I miss the most,
But I just can’t stop hoping in vain,
To be that little boy once again.

Blessed am I who had you around
Who kept my feet firmly to the ground
Who taught me the simple things in life,
Things I’d never learn from my wife,
Thank you for that extra sweat,
That you rolled out for me without regret
And now that my words are nearly through,
I want to wish Happy Anniversary to my dearest two,
You’re the reason I am,
For me God and you are one and the same,
And I just can’t stop hoping in vain,
To be that little boy once again.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Turn to the rain and the wind

Percy's Song - Bob Dylan

Bad news, bad news,
Come to me where I sleep,
Turn, turn, turn again.
Sayin' one of your friends
Is in trouble deep,
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

Tell me the trouble,
Tell once to my ear,
Turn, turn, turn again.
Joliet prison And ninety-nine years,
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

Oh what's the charge
Of how this came to be,
Turn, turn, turn again.
ManslaughterIn the highest of degree,
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

I sat down and wrote
The best words I could write,
Turn, turn, turn again.
Explaining to the judge I'd be there on Wednesday night,
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

Without a reply,
I left by the moon,
Turn, turn, turn again.
And was in his chambers
By the next afternoon,
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

Could ya tell me the facts?
I said without fear,
Turn, turn, turn again.
That a friend of mine
Would get ninety-nine years,
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

A crash on the highway
Flew the car to a field,
Turn, turn, turn again.
There was four persons killed
And he was at the wheel,
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

But I knew him as good
As I'm knowin' myself,
Turn, turn, turn again.
And he wouldn't harm a life
That belonged to someone else,
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

The judge spoke
Out of the side of his mouth,
Turn, turn, turn again.
Sayin', "The witness who saw,
He left little doubt,"
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

That may be true,
He's got a sentence to serve,
Turn, turn, turn again.
But ninety-nine years,
He just don't deserve,
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

Too late, too late,
For his case it is sealed,
Turn, turn, turn again.
His sentence is passed
And it cannot be repealed,
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

But he ain't no criminal
And his crime it is none,
Turn, turn, turn again.
What happened to him
Could happen to anyone,
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

And at that the judge jerked forward
And his face it did freeze,
Turn, turn, turn again.
Sayin', "Could you kindly leave
My office now, please,
"Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

Well his eyes looked funny
And I stood up so slow,
Turn, turn, turn again.
With no other choice
Except for to go,
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

I walked down the hallway
And I heard his door slam,
Turn, turn, turn again.
I walked down the courthouse stair
sAnd I did not understand,
Turn, turn to the rain
And the wind.

And I played my guitar
Through the night to the day,
Turn, turn, turn again.
And the only tune
My guitar could play
Was, "Oh the Cruel Rain
And the Wind."

A Beautiful World

I see beauty in handwritten letters, in knitted sweaters, sometimes even in gutters
I see beauty in a flooded street, in a rock n roll beat, sometimes even in polio feet
I see beauty in the innocent eyes, in your harmless lies, sometimes even in hopeless sighs
I see beauty in lemon fish, or in any other dish, sometimes even in an unclaimed wish
I see beauty in a beggar's bowl, in a lonely soul, sometimes even in a mine of coal,
I see beauty in vanilla ice cream, in an interrupted dream, sometimes even in a flat hymn.
I see beauty in morning walks, in old wall clocks, sometimes even in electric shocks.

Beauty lies in the beholders eyes, even if your cosmetics think otherwise.

I see beauty in mickey mouse, in a doll house, sometimes even in petulant spouse
I see beauty in a spelling class, in a steel glass, sometimes even in untrimmed grass
I see beauty in your nightgown, when you're lying down, sometimes even in your ugly frown
I see beauty in my unkempt hair, in my absent minded stare, sometimes even in my shabby officewear
I see beauty in the marketplace, in the parent's hundred metre race, sometimes even in your open shoe lace
I see beauty in everything that is, in the birds and the bees, the forests and trees.

Beauty lies in the beholders eyes, even if your cosmetics think otherwise.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The zero sum game - someone wins, someone loses

you know i hate this feeling, sittin around chillin, my pod playing dylan
watching people get fired, people unwired, man im so tired,
peolpe buzzing like bees, demanding more fees,
when all that this world needs is just a little peace

you know i feel misplaced, workin in haste, cut copy paste
dressed in ties, dreaming of a rise, with their eloquent lies,
lambs in a lions cave, tryin to be brave
surrender their rights and workin like slaves

oh you dream bout that villa,
you wanna be the legand killer,
you’ll own a private jet with a mini bar set
your limosine it'll be yours for sure
as long as your slaves are willin to endure
this disgraceful strife
lose the rights to thier personal lives.

you know he feels he puts in his best, so he needs some rest, in his own house he's become a guest,
he shows up midnight, sometimes drunk sometimes allright, but doesnt have time to hold his wife tight,
his kid has forgotten his dad, and he feels really sad,
this aint the dream he had

you know she's making the right passes, lickin the right asses, of the rich higher classes,
shes doing some favours, and shes only getting braver, for attention shes a craver
hopin to rise on another man's plight, its the corporate world so its perfectly right,
to suck her supervisors cock at night

oh you dream bout that villa,
you wanna be the legand killer,
you’ll own a private jet with a mini bar set
your limosine it'll be yours for sure
as long as your slaves are willin to endure
this disgraceful strife
lose the rights to thier personal lives.

i know you're always right, you're the erudite, who am i to help set your visions right,
but think about the kid, every night he wishes his daddy did, come back home and see who mommy's with,
she calls the man sir, she lets him go down on her, and the boy is alone in a quiet corner,
you'll get your fame, you fucking shame
so let your baby boy be alone, who's to blame
its all in the spirit of the corporate game.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The pain and the rain – The Hate Song

Surreal girl you play your magic tricks on me,
Make me dance to your imaginary tunes,
I dance I dance till I’m down to my knees,
Enthralled in craziness that I innocently festoon

Surreal girl with your naked charm that penetrates,
Like a knife that cuts the human heart
But as I stand here bleeding away my life
The delusion takes me back to the start

I’m not like them, I won’t regret
Some people feel the rain, others just get wet

Surreal girl you release the tyrant in me,
Unleash a monster that I’d carefully hidden,
You toyed, you played with my vulnerability,
You tasted my blood, my fruit forbidden

I could call you a bitch, I could live to hate
The Messiah of Satan, you delicious cheat,
I’m just another guy, with an ordinary dream,
To poison you to death, a revenge so sweet.

I’m not like them, I won’t regret
Some people feel the rain, others just get wet