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Tuesday, September 4th, 2007
8:14 pm - Bangalore this weekend
Will be in Bangalore this weekend, starting Friday. I would have liked to meet a few of you but have just not been able to make the time. Drop me a line if your free and would like to get coffee. I am leaving the country on the 13th.

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Wednesday, August 15th, 2007
3:07 am - Popularity Contests

It’s a perennial theme in school life. To be popular or not to be. Some would argue that being popular is not a decision to be made. You are, or you’re not. And yet, personal perspectives could determine one’s style and hence, the outcome is a manifestation of a decision at some level.


So, at a certain level, the decision could be an answer to the question: Would you rather be loved by a few or liked by many? It’s not an easy question to answer, and for that reason, it’s even tougher to frame. “You” could answer it from a business perspective, like my friend who thought he’d rather sell a large volume of his books than have an exclusive club that absolutely loves his work. “You” could also answer it to suit your egoistic inclinations – in which case you would either care for external recognition or give two hoots about other people. Perspectives abound. But real situations might reveal more about your own personal choice.


I was never the popular kind. I have (always had) exclusive friends, whom I love and care for and have rarely looked for fulfillment beyond this group. On occasions, this attitude turned my interactions with outsiders into random events, colored by shades ranging from a dark grey difficult-to-approach to a bright orange extremely-friendly. However, the thought of all the friends I’ve potentially lost does not bother me. Some form of natural selection must be in action.


What does bother me is whether the love of a few people has made me a dull character.

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Thursday, August 9th, 2007
1:05 am - Living a Story

Have you ever found yourself locked in a story? A story that must find its own plot and characters – characters who flesh out their ambitions and desires as the story unfolds – and eventually write its climax as well as the end. For there must be end to every story, long or short.


Now, one must not suggest even for a minute that life could be interesting in any flattering sense of the word. But one would like to believe that the sense of fiction lends it an air of mystery. To play a character, however close to one's real self, requires a sacrifice. It’s a commitment to lose a part of one’s identity forever. It’s also an understanding of drawing oneself out of the character once the story ends.


Earlier endeavors in theatre have bestowed the concerned one with  a loose perspective of an observer, a perspective that can be quite disturbing (and confusing) at times. For example, one often “observes” the characters with different levels of insecurity and empathy, concluding, erroneously at times, that the adequacy of emotional and intellectual content must match that of the audience, which (thankfully) in this case consists exclusively of co-characters, and in fact, you, the anonymous reader. Nevertheless, such external observation remains a difficult but rewarding activity.


Currently, however, the main character is torn between (i) “providing” an end to the story and (ii) “being directed” to an end. The director happens to be kind. (S)He allows the characters the creative license to play a role that they have perhaps never played before, with no script to speak of. Should be fun.

PS: Aplologies to The One, for misuse of his trademark.

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Thursday, July 26th, 2007
4:26 pm - Night in Singapore

Last night, it was brought to one's notice that no trip to Singapore is complete without a drink at the New Asia Bar. Minor shopaholic and jelly-vodka weaknesses were overcome to cobble together a 3-person community of alcoholics anonymous.

Perched just above the 69th floor, we admired the creative genius of such stupendous numerological and architechtural endeavour that delivers the onlooker to a true over-the-top experience a la the 13th Floor.

A double-sambuca shot and a couple of delicious litchee martinis later, lofty-goaled cupid swung into action at the first opportunity. Having appropriately lectured the boy, complementary teasers were sent the lady's way. The two were obviously "interested" in each other, wildy complicated Indian courtship games notwithstanding. So, as the night unfolded, yours truly watched in blissfull accomplishment as the the couple tip-toed and later tangoed into each others arms. Needless to say, yours truly walked home alone.

Sidenote: Indian women have very high, dreamy and unrealistic expectations and must be periodically returned to the reality of an enjoyable dance over the 69th floor every now and then.

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Monday, July 9th, 2007
11:39 am - Investing wisdom

The happiness of those who want to be popular depends on others; the happiness of those who seek pleasure fluctuates with moods outside their control; but the happiness of the wise grows out of their own free acts. 
- Marcus Aurelius

The true investor is scarcely ever forced to sell his shares, and all other times he is free to disregard the current price quotation. He need pay attention to it and act upon it only to the extent that suits his book, and no more. Thus the investor who permits himself to be stampeded or unduly worried by unjustified market declines in his holdings is pervesely transforming his basic advantage into a basic disadvantage. That man would be better off if his stocks had no quotation at all, for he would then be spared the mental anguish caused him by other persons' mistakes of judgement.

- Benjamin Graham

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Thursday, June 28th, 2007
9:25 pm - Why or Why not?

Among the trivial things in life that still amaze me is that this blog still receives comments. Mainly from people passing through my orkut profile, I presume. It is rewarding to hear encouraging words and there are signs that I might rethink my decision on posting through this medium, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Would like to know what you guys, my "livejournal" friends think. It would help to explain why I stopped posting in the first place, but that would take more than a few casual words of reasoning.

Btw, I am in Bangalore until late July. Drop me a line and hopefully we can catch up.

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Sunday, August 20th, 2006
1:24 pm - The Culture of Nations - Its who you are

Today's Sunday Times carries a guest column by David Brooks (original NYT article). Whether you get a parking ticket or not, would depend on a gazillion real life factors. Time, traffic, a fight with your spouse, a lost sock, vehicle malfuntion or whatever-god-wills. It might sound be unfair, even far-fetched to caliberate my cultural standing, and hence predict my economic growth, on the scale of parking tickets. But the numbers don't lie. Infact, the truth rings in, not uncharacteristically I might add, with a few racially charged conclusions.

Only last night, dad and I were talking about how cultural values can affect workplace policies and production strategies. "The Japanese need no incentives. Its a sin not to work," he pointed out. It comes as no surprise that they went from a comprehensively defeated nation to an industrial giant, in time that spanned a little over half of India's independent life. Germany, Israel and Britain are also relevant in a similar context. It would, however, be a spurious claim that their recovery was economically inspired.

 The reason there are such wide variations in ticket rates is that human beings are not merely products of economics. The diplomats paid no cost for parking illegally, thanks to diplomatic immunity. But human beings are also shaped by cultural and moral norms. If you’re Swedish and you have a chance to pull up in front of a fire hydrant, you still don’t do it. You’re Swedish. That’s who you are. 

People need the coherence their culture provides and value it even more than easy parking.

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Friday, August 18th, 2006
12:54 pm - Search and such.

Guess what's the most queried term in AOL's search engine. Google. AOL eventually saw the irony, called it a "screw-up" and aplogized. The leak has become a search-query analyst's dream come true. What an outrageous intrusion of privacy? Yeah i know! Lemme see!

Check out Paul Boutin's assertion of You are what you search. Filling, delicious piece. From the Pornhound, who goes from "talking parrot jokes" to "sexy dogs and hot girls" depending on which side of the hour he's on (11 pm Eastern and 11 pm Pacific are the bootilicious prime times) to the Basket Case ("i hurt when i think too much i love roadtrips i hate my weight i fear being alone for the rest of my life". Wtf did she expected to find?!).

I know what you're thinking. No, I'm not Obsessive about "swear words" and can go an entire week without "man/woman/love" talk. See...?

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Monday, August 14th, 2006
9:27 pm - Phew! Some other news please...

So. Its ceasefire. Like a belated birthday wish, that arrives in true melancholic lyricism of a Shakespearan tragedy. Minus the finality.

After an eleventh hour huff-n-puff effort to bomb each other black and blue, it was conclusively decided that they had bombed each other into, well, a darker shade of black and blue. Frankly, atleast the Hezbollah was getting what it said it wanted - Israeli lives. More or less. 

But 34 days and several dead children later, its amusing to watch Israel chase the Hezbollah ass into the Latini River, barely 15 miles north of the border, like anyone who doesnt run out of his already devastated house must surely have Hezbollah lineage. Further, Israel bravely promises to maintain its air and sea blockade on Lebanon to prevent re-supply of Hezbollah. With more than 220 (totally 4000) rockets having found their fiery asses burried into Israeli soil on the last day, I can almost hear the Nasarallah rap.

Bomb out your muthafuggin arse yeh yeh yeh
While you screw my sistah Pristine, 
This aint no stinking funny maan, 
coz i'm gonna bomb out you sodding jews clean

To be fair, the Israelis left enough leaflets to rehabilitate the ruined paper recycling industry in Beirut. If anyone bothers to read them, they'll understand that Hezbollah had brought the people of Lebanon "to the edge of the abyss" and brought only "destruction, displacement and death." and that the Israelis could return "with all necessary might." Was this supposed to be funny or what? 

The Lebanese, if not the Hezbollah, have plenty to laugh abt, though. Unifil(which suspiciously rhymes with some baby powder, i just cant recall which) and the Lebanese army will now achieve what the Israelis, half-witted and hot-blooded, could not do with their shiny stars-n-stripes balls of gunpowder. And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air...tra la la...

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9:51 am - Contrarianism

In an eminently thought-worthy post, Don Boudreaux describes the virtues & vices of contrarianism.  

Being contarian is admirable because it keeps the mind open and exploring; it's of a piece with one of the finest of all intellectual dispositions: skepticism.

When I contradict myself (which happens at the same frequency as that of trains departing from the Central Railway Station), i often take shelter behind the open mindedness of such full-blooded skepticism, sometimes affording myself a view from both sides of the blinds, so to speak. And with a frequency, not much less than the earlier stated, I fall prey to the contrarian vice - rejecting some piece of wisdom simply because it is widely accepted -- and of confusing the possible for the plausible.

He also goes on to frame a very likeable definition of wisdom, borrowing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's analysis ("To recognize the significant in the factual is wisdom"). He fears, quite justifiably so, that too many contarians are content to bask in the brilliance of their cleverness even if this brilliance blinds them to wisdom. 

Ahem. If you notice any similarities between this proclamation and a certain reckless blogger, you're strongly advised to ignore the feeling.

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Sunday, August 13th, 2006
8:49 pm - Marriages were made in hell

Marriages, though not all of them, are bad. 

+ being short for the funtion of marriage, i.e. M(x,y)

1 Depressed person x + 1 Happy person y = 1 less Depressed x' + 1 less Happy person y'.  What a leveller!
(I'm ruling out the possibility of 2 depressed persons marrying. They simply should spare the kids the trauma. I'll leave you to decide the probability of two happy people marrying. No, why would someone wanna go screw themselves over for life, is not a question we're trying to answer)

Someone must have been either really bonkers or unforgivingly smart to have gone "*blink*, eureka! let's have marriage". Seriously, if there ever was a problem it was meant to solve, it must have been scarcity of land. Afterall, not everyone can have their own sweet mansion and live in too. Alone, I might add. 

Perhaps, we should consider other arrangements of sharing property - all friends should live together, with the exception that partners should never share a roof. The children, if they ever come, will join the community boarding school to find their own friends' circle. Ha! Now, why didn't they think of that earlier!?!

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Thursday, August 10th, 2006
12:28 pm - Letters: May thy tribe grow

He could be a literary genius or Javed Akhtar's baap or (for diversity's sake) he might even be a whizkid flooring his bosses with his spotless presentations. But the male stable rarely takes credit for letters in love, letters "of" love being a much more evil form of feminine conspiracy.

Watch those sleek memos and carefully crafted professional mails being manufactured with mechanised consistency. I would even imagine an occasional burst of prurient lust shot out in a rapidly typed mail, riding high on a fast deflating wanking charge on a sleepless Sunday night. But *sugar tits* (to borrow from Mel Gibson's plush vocabulary) is hardly a woman's idea of feeling wanted when she's not exactly finding the y in horny. (I'd be quite flattered, especially if it came from Mr. Gibson's gob, but it would make for little more than wanton girlie gossip)

Here, this piece joyously spells out the need to educate the letter-challenged population. One in five women say they've never received a note from a lover/admirer. Almost half complain they've not received one in a decade!  

*Sulks and moans*. I havent received one since i was the size of Thumbelina :( Not even an email. Decidedly sorry state of affairs this.

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Monday, July 31st, 2006
12:49 pm - To be or not to be?

...is the question the egg is asking this season. In a serious blow to the much-touted Brit wit, the British Egg Information Serives (ahh, thank God for small mercies) is now attempting to eliminate guesswork from a big issue - people cant even boil an egg.

In an abashed display of self-effacing catharsis, Britons admit that millions of them cannot boil an egg. And certainly not one in which the egg white coagulates, but the yolk remains runny. For no good reason, the task of world IQ caliberation just got tougher.

Link received from Akshay Kumar, the entrepreneur. Jiyo, chacha!

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Saturday, July 22nd, 2006
10:57 pm - Innovation and Size

... dont seem to love each other's company. If innovative skills were any indication, Microsoft's pulse has long gone silent. As Guy Kawasaki would put it, if it were daisy wheel printer company, it would think innovation means adding Helvetica in 24 points. 

Or if Microsoft were just Microsoft, it would set out to follow someone else's curve

May be its gotta do with the fact that the bigger you get, the fewer risks you take? Which leads me to the next question - is there an optimum level to which a business entity should grow, beyond which it would only hurt itself?

Update: In another interesting article, NYTimes points out - its Consistency Vs. Wow!

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Thursday, July 20th, 2006
12:43 pm - Heartless & Bitchy
You heartless bitches, take this! Rock on!

My picks -

1. Does the sight of an incredibly handsome man turn you off, because too many of them have room-temperature IQ's, and obnoxious or non-existent personalities?

Inflated sigh. That's half the reason why I have been banished to singlehood in heaven. I think i should seriously amend that stereotype in my head. The JaneAustenesque pall of doom has ceased to depress me though. Most single women at 40 are happy :)
2. Are you fed up with women who feel they HAVE to be in a "Relationship" in order to be whole, and will sacrifice their self-esteem and personal growth in order to avoid being on their own?

Alright. Talking too much abt relationships and men erodes bitchiness. So, enough.

But the one I identify most with -

Have you HAD IT with people telling you that you are TOO LOUD, TOO ASSERTIVE, or TOO OPINIONATED?
Oh yes, bloody hell, YES!

Link received via email from five18pm.

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Tuesday, July 18th, 2006
4:24 pm - Could Lisa Burnett be blonde?

Received via email from Chris, the batman.

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Thursday, July 13th, 2006
8:40 am - What do they really want?
I dont find it shameful to admit that terrorism used to be something so far removed from my life as Iraq. Infact, when an Indian friend in Singapore expressed shock and sympathy for the victims of 9/11, it angered me. She had never felt a thing for the hundreds who die in the Kashmir valley every year. Why was she being so tearful abt Uncle Sam's fate? Afterall, she had not lost anyone she even knew.

Mumbai has changed that. There's a lump in my throat every time I read a story abt it. I always travel by the locals when I'm in Mumbai. Yes, it could've been me or anyone I love.

Back in Bangalore, companies are sending out disturbing security instructions: Avoid public transport, avoid hanging around crowded public areas. It makes me smile. Where are we headed? Is it really possible to stop this madness? Can any police in the world prevent bombs from being planted and at least a few of them from exploding?

I take a BMTC bus around 6:30 pm everyday. Its usually packed. And its a bloody soft target (there are even softer ones, if only you look hard enough). Sadly, there's little that can be done abt it. Any amount of intelligence effort or prior information cannot prevent it as for every move there's a countermove. For every act of prevention, there's another act of innovation. Hell, you dont even need to "innovate", just  "observe".

Unfortunately, terror has no logic. TOI is carrying this madly absurd theory to explain it all. If they really wanted to kill Gujjus, isn't it obvious where one has the greatest probability of finding them? Or does terrorism work on the basis of "kill target, plus kill innocent, hence arouse anger"?

But isnt everyone (who dies) innocent? What do they really want? And can anyone ever do anything to stop it? May be I have a limited capacity to rationalise, but the silence is chilling.

Update: myrch states an interesting perspective in his post about Israel and its current offensive against Lebanon. He writes:

...the situation is complicated, and its history does entail a long list of offensive maneuvers; Arabs attack Israel, Israel attacks Arabs, Arabs attack Israel, etc. The fact that attacks have been wrought by both sides does not persuade a reasonable person to conclude Israel and its Arab neighbors are equally wrong. This sort of lazy thinking is regrettably common. If Israel and the Arabs are equally wrong, I doubt Jordan and Egypt would have signed peace treaties with Israel, tenuous as those treaties are at the moment.

I agree. And I do feel Israel is justified, to a certain extent, simply because it faces hostility for just existing. 

What if India gave up Kashmir and allowed a democratically elected govn to be installed there? Is that the panacea we're looking for? Would that end all Pak initiated terror?

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Sunday, July 9th, 2006
9:46 pm - The Vidhan Soudha

Its prolly the most recognised symbol of Bangalore's identity. The seat of Karnataka Legislature. People tell me its the largest legislature building in India. I couldn't make out if they were joking.

This picture was shot from the Barton Center, from the 13th Floor, where you normally wont be allowed during the day. The reason i was there on this lovely Sunday morning was because I was taking a Victorian Bangalore Walk. Great fun and loads of gyan. And breakfast at Ebony's :)

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Saturday, July 8th, 2006
9:14 am - La lêche-vitrine

By contemporary inspirational standards, this ranks UP THERE! Ok, its friggin hard to pull off on my own, without a partner for support and exchange... but I'm gonna give it a shot. A short shot.

I'm not gonna shop for a month.
No new clothes.
No movies. Rented or otherwise.
No eating out.
For the time being, i shall have to remain content with la lêche-vitrine (French for window shopping, literally translates to "licking window shops").

Btw, are books and hair-cuts necessities? and waxing and auto rickshaw rides?

On a related note, my recent days of penury have seen an admirable return to college-time frugality. Its much fun to watch the accounts get lean and mean just as its painful to leave that perfectly fitting black skirt that snugly makes up for the bulges. And yes, I am very much a liability of a friend. Innocent friends magnanimously offer to let me decide the dinner place, while i graciously let them take the cheque. Some even suggest that its the least they can do. Bless them, angels!

Last i checked, I owed a total of Rs. 766.70 in various debts to close and far friends. Yeah ok, you can leave a comment if i owe you, but no fake promisory notes will be entertained.

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Wednesday, July 5th, 2006
11:18 pm - The Rules of the Empty Game

Since I've been allowing myself to indulge in politics these days, quite by serendipity, I stumbled upon this wonderfully lucid piece of gyan. Why does India have such terrible politicians?

Like academics and pickpockets, politicians too have rules which they can break only at great risk. 

The Rules of the Empty Game

Rule No 1 is that only winning matters because the winner takes all. This zero-sum game characteristic of politics has two consequences.

First, the squeamish stay away. Second, the rules are made by those who regard honesty like people usually regard exercise or prayer—something to be admired in others but never emulated.

Rule No 2 is that your political worth is directly proportional to how much money you can bring to the table.

Rule No 3 is that no one but you will be responsible for your day-to-day expenses.

Rule No 4 is that you must recoup your election expenses in the first two years and devote the next three years to generating the margin money for the next election.

Rule No 5 comes out of Rule No 2: the political parties need you to bring in more than money if they are to bank on you.

Rule No 6 is “No squealing”. If you rat on someone, you may be ratted on next. And since you need the money, it is not in your interest to rat. So there is no internal pressure to remain honest.

Rule No 7 is that in the current framework each MP must spend more than the other. This comes out of a Prisoners’ Dilemma sort of situation where, although each MP is best off spending as little as possible, in reality none of them can.

This is because whenever one MP realises that the other is not spending, he can achieve a higher individual payoff by spending more, and thereby hoping to extend his reach amongst potential voters. Given that each MP stands to gain by spending more if the other does not spend, what ends up happening is that they all spend as much as they can.

If you're a Friedman fan, the last lines would remind you of his famous words abt spending your own money vs. somebody else's money.

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