They say Dogs are God's angels sent in disguise to protect and love us; can't agree more to this. Our angel passed away a month back today.

To be very frank, Smokey wasn't really an angel. I used to call him the devil's mutt. If you were to put down a list of the top 10 million most disciplined dogs in the world, he wouldn't have even featured in the next million standbys. He loved attention and unlike any other dog, he demanded it through not the most friendly actions most of the time. He was unruly, temperamental and quite out of our hands. From vomiting on beds to taking a dump on carpets to peeing on mom's sarees; he did it all. He tore my mom's nose apart, punctured my dad's finger, chewed numerous of my glasses, tore my brother's books, snapped at least once at every person who met him, bit each and every one of my ex girlfriends (this one for the good; should have trusted his choice more than mine) and in a gist raised hell all around him, wherever he went.

Smokey was not a perfect dog; he wasn't meant to be one. He was a part of our family; a son and a brother. He wasn't our dog, but we were his humans who he accepted and took for granted as his own. He did every little aggravating thing that a rebel teenager bursting with puberty would do and performed every action that an annoying little brother would. But he loved us to the bone and always made us realize that even if it were through his own devilish little actions.

To my dad, who he was the closest to, Smokey was his shadow. He woke up, slept and ate with him. He snarled and growled at us if we ever imitated hurting dad. He welcomed dad back home every evening as if he was seeing him after eons. For my mom, he was the body guard who followed her around through out the day, ensuring that she never felt alone when none of us were around. To my brothers, he was that younger sibling who they could irritate all the time. They troubled him when he ate and when he slept; made sure that he doesn't stop fuming and barking when they were around him. Like every other younger brother, he would go hide behind dad demanding security when my brothers went over board with their antics. For my friends, he was the entertainment at home that a boring friend like me couldn't offer. He partied with us till morning everytime we brought the house down for a celebration.

For me, he was a dream that took 15 years to come true. I never spoke to him heart-to-heart or he never came and quietly sat with me when I needed someone; but he distracted my mind every time I needed him to. He would wrestle with me, would bring his toy bone to play fetch, would get his collar telling me its time for his walk, would jump and yelp when football and girlfriends took his deserved attention away. He was my dinosaur, an extinct breed of a companion and a fighter, who doctors had claimed wouldn't survive after seeing his condition the first week of him being home.

Smokey wasn't the perfect dog, we never wanted him to be. But he was the perfect son, someone who me and my brothers would never be and the best sibling the 3 of us could have never found in each other.

Smokey was like a hurricane which lasted in our life for 4 and a half years. A liver infection claimed him a month back today. He passed away in his sleep on the bed between my mom and dad, which was also his favorite place in the world. The hurricane left us with a calm after the storm which none of us will probably ever get accustomed to. As a friend said, the worst thing about dogs is that we outlive them and they leave us with a gap that no one can ever fill. Really makes me think that heaven sure must be a place owned and run by dogs, eagerly and patiently waiting to welcome their humans with more love then they have ever felt even in their after life.

Our neighbor and a very close family friend, whose family was Smokey's godfamily and were as close to him as we were, made a video for him (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmef3QCShFw). This 8 and a half minute video is a tribute to him that nobody could have ever given. It encompasses every little bit of what is mentioned above and much more about our lives with him. Smokey rests today at our friend's farm, which was also his 2nd favorite place in the world.

For Smokey, I want to believe that you can read this and you know how much we all miss you. I know you are in a better place and I really hope there are enough plastic bottles to chew on where you are right now.

I miss you a lot my little Dinosaur, you will forever be in our lives.


opportunity cost

Opportunity cost is the cost of any activity measured in terms of the value of the next best alternative not chosen.

Everything has an opportunity cost attached to it. Especially in a city like Mumbai, every decision, from the smallest to the biggest one has an opportunity cost. Move cities, sacrifice comforts but get more opportunities; don't move here, live #likeaboss midst comforts but miss out on important opportunities and the pretty women ... Stay in a cube, pay less for it, save more money but travel more for work... travel less for work, but stay in a smaller cube and pay more for it. Take the train, get felt up by 5 men but reach home cheap and faster. Take a cab, sleep in it, be comfortable, get stuck in traffic and pay through your nose, eyes and ears. The list is never ending.

Its simple yet quite easily given a miss; every step of your daily living, you incur an opportunity cost, and the worst thing about this is that it grows... it increases as you grow older. From which cartoon to watch and which one to not, to what education stream to select, to what kind of job to accept and which one to reject... the gravity of the decisions we make or rather we have to make results in a higher opportunity cost paid with every passing day.

So on one of those days when the manstruation cycle is on top gear, I contemplated and tried to realize what is the biggest opportunity cost that we bear; the answer was right in front of me.

In the lust for ambition, money, fun and more money, we bear the ultimate opportunity cost of health. Work consumes everything and then the whatever residue remains splits between eating out, sleeping and practicing various forms of intoxications. Look around and try and think of one person who isn't suffering from some sort of health issue. A healthy life has become difficult to find and I can't think of a single person right now without a health problem.

In the extremely near sighted vision of wanting to achieve all the success and enjoyment one can, we quite humanely lose far sight and forget to preserve for tomorrow. Work hours are no longer in a single digit. Breakfast has become lunch, lunch is evening snack and smoke breaks are no longer breaks but rather a part of work itself. The food industry must be running on some part because of take home dinners. Fridays and Saturdays are considered wasted if we are not wasted enough by the end of it. They say dare to dream big and beyond to achieve success; now, one is lucky enough to get those few hours of undisturbed sleep to be able to dream about anything except targets and schedules and meetings.

Those who know me well can easily and very rightly point a finger at me for being a hypocrite to write this. Living and surviving (so far, so good) with a condition that clearly chalks off 80% of the things that happen in daily routine and lists them as ranging from fairly to majorly lethal, I do have my own lapses. But I am neither condemning nor writing an open letter to today's youth. Its like a vicious circle of numerous catch 22 situations that we have landed ourselves in.

On one hand we have hospitals (now with star ratings like hotels) coming up all around and on the other we have healthcare progressing on near sonic speend. So you either rely on this and continue to enjoy the satisfaction of that one cracked deal at work along with the endless hours and sleepless nights put behind it or revel on pride of chugging 4 pints of beer and gulping those 16 on the house shots. Or you pull up your act, get the will power and self control meters running and make sincere efforts to make it a healthier living.

I reiterate that I neither condemn / criticize the lifestyle being practiced nor do I intend to initiate a movement calling for a drastic change in life through this. I just voiced an opinion; an opinion which took seed and grew the moment I realized that I felt like hugging every elderly person I see these days and congratulating them for having survived so far.


i hate my job

They say life is what happens to you while you are busy planning other things. Considering how everything goes on daily, I kinda agree to it. Between travelling to work, working, sometimes acting as if you are working, then thinking about work and then thinking about how to avoid work, there is hardly time left for anything else to do. Work does eventually become the all consuming factor, except on the weekends for those few lucky ones, but then most of us are generally too intoxicated to realize where the weekend passes and its time to crib about the same old Monday.

We had an Economics professor in college, who at one time seemed to love us being scared of her all the time. Besides being really strict, she also loved to make us right a lot and at times use examples of my not-so-discreet college love life/lives to teach demand and supply in class. For the three years we learnt under her, she told us one thing over and over again, "You don't know how cruel the world is outside this college. People are just waiting to kick you on your butts". As the dimwit bum farts all of us were, we took it as a joke. I really don't know what did the majority of the batch ended up doing after college; not so good at keeping in touch... but looking back at it right now, I do discern what she tried to drill into our heads.

Remember how eager you were to finish college asap, to get out of it and look for those shiny jobs and decent pay? Remember the wanderlust that you had to get a job which meant a lot of travelling? Remember being influenced by jobs characters had on TV shows and movies and how you desperately wanted to be one of them? I bet my ass and my neighbour's much hotter one that you are still there figuring out how to reach at one of these landmarks.

When your peers happen to be as the same day and age as you are, many of the conversation topics do steer towards jobs and careers and the future in general. Work is bitched about most of the times, and so are bosses. I realized awhile back that its almost like everyone around hates their work. I couldn't think of a single person who did actually like what they were doing. Case and point, I found myself in the same boat, bitching and complaining or whining (as my boss liked to put it as) about work. I hated the feeling... after being where I have wanted to be since college, the discontent was quite disturbing. And this time, it wasn't even because of another heartbreak, like the oh-so-many-times before; those are easier to solve... this I didn't really know.

As still the wannabe mature children that we are, I realized most of us are pretty short sighted. Hedonism pre exists in most of us; which is necessarily not a bad thing, but also makes focus hazy and vague. What makes it worse is comparison. Ironically, the grass is supposed to be always greener on the other side. And even though this discontent pushes one for better and higher, the foresight for the bigger picture is lost.

The last time I said I hate my job, the realization dawned that its time to stop. I looked around the desk and reflected on the year that has been; glanced at the people besides, those who are still unknown, some who animosity and some who tug at the heartstrings. Reminisced on the good times and then on the better ones. Yes, work does suck from time to time, but it didn't take much to remember that it wasn't so initially; saturation still hasn't crept it hopefully will never; too young and awesome to let that happen.

So the next time you think or say aloud that you hate your job, try this. You will probably remember how things always work out in the end; how they did when an exam wasn't prepared for or a plan didn't work out or when a trip was canned or when that oh-so-pretty girl broke your ego; in a weird karmic way, everything and issue did sort itself out. And though it does seem a wee bit tough to get that bird's eye view, it only becomes easier when you do so. As they say, after all there is always light at the end of the tunnel and beer at the end of week.


just another day

Another chance for politicians to make statements, one more instance for actors to condemn, just another opportunity for directors to make a movie on... one more topic for the social media to buzz about... another media circus created... another vulnerability exposed, yet another attack on our land. Who is accountable; who is to be held responsible?

After 4 days and a total of 19 reported deaths & 134 injuries, while the National Investigation Agency still seems to be scampering around for any leads, the forensic experts still don't seem to have a clue about the nature of the explosives. While the NIS have their prime suspect mysteriously dyeing and another one still being grilled, the forensics report that the bomb planting was a rather hasty job, and should it have been carried out any differently, it might have resulted in more casualties. Is this supposed to give us relief?

After 4 days since 13/7 became yet another date to remember like the ones in the previous few years, the media frenzy has died down, the headlines have shifted to latter sections in the daily periodicals and life is back to as it was before.

After 4 days, which have been more than the number needed for the resilient people of this city to get over, the only closure received from the authorities is about the apparent failed attempt at harming more of us. I can't help but think if this was a deliberate move, intended to make us believe other wise... to test our defences, to probe into our disguised weaknesses and to validate their strength through what might have been a trailer before the movie; I sure hope I am wrong.

Mumbai never fails to amaze me; and now I add its people to the list. People moved on before many of us could fathom what had happened. Hoax messages and rumours about more bomb threats & jokes about Kasab's birthday celebrations faded even before the day had turned.

On one hand when it felt good to see how valiantly the city and its people woke up the next morning, it left a fear that reactions are being misunderstood. Resilience seems to have been mistaken for a permanent cure. The valour and will power shown by the people around is being falsely understood as acceptance; another annual instance that countrymen have to be used to. In under no circumstances, should the people of a country be expected to do that. Top notch mitigation efforts might fetch a constitution brownie points, but the fact remains that mitigation is a travesty and only a fail safe for prevention. Prevention still and will always be a better cure. This is where responsibility needs to be touched... its getting difficult to remember all the dates.

While taking a bow to the spirit of the people here, I really hope, wish and pray that authorities pull up their socks and ensure that such black days do not end up becoming just another day and date for its people.


it all ends, 15.7.11

"So it all comes down to this, doesn't it? Does the wand in your hand know its last master was Disarmed? Because if it does... I am the true master of the Elder Wand... Expelliarmus"

Harry Potter
The Deathly Hallows
Sent from my Superphone


365 days of weaning

Disgruntled auto drivers, even more resentful pedestrians, never ending traffic jams, sweaty stinky annoyed men on the train, reaching work drenched in sweat whilst walking through muck, the same routine to and fro till you reach home and you're too exhausted to think...what is it about this place? They say that this place grows on you; I always wondered why would anyone even let that happen.

Mumbai was always the quintessential Pandora's Box for me, forever hated it, always dissed it and never intended to step foot in the city for more than a couple of days (a few hours if I could). But then faith threw a curve ball and I swung. What I initially thought of as a strike out, wasn't so after all.

Its been a year that I have been living in Mumbai now. As cliched as it may sound, these 12 months have gone by very quickly. Now, on the other side of 365 days here, I like to think that I have changed... I like to think that my weaning has finally been done... I want to believe that I have come along from being the guy who shifted cities (without thinking one and a half times) hoping to keep affinity alive midst an already fading relationship... I want to consider that I have eventually realized that even though there is slight semblance between being practical and being emotional, biased decisions seldom pay dividends. More than anything, I want to prove to me more than anyone else, that the white crayon within ceased existing once I moved.

I also like to make myself believe that the few kilos gained over the last one year have nothing to do with the much often intake of lagers and draughts, but then I gave up on fooling myself awhile back.

The last time I wrote about the city was when I finished 6 months here (read). I had paced myself by then. The initial adjustment troubles were dealt with and the city was being 'accepted' for what it is. Now, after adding another 6 months, I finally discovered that part of the city which infused a 3D effect to the rudimentary 2D existence. Albeit more exhaustive in all means physically and monetarily, 3D meant everything from a new best friend to a new social circle to nights I still can't recall and something even some for the helpless amorous boy within.

In this "its complicated" relationship with the city, step 1 was tolerance, step 2 was acceptance... and now step 3 is liking her for the same things one tends to hate it for. I dare say that it is easy to do so, cause I know its not... but something tells me that faith didn't really pull a Pandora on me. Along with its arsenal of necessary evils, there was, still is and always will be hope at the bottom of the box and unlike what happened in Greek scriptures here, hope did come out and eventually made its mark and has been asserting itself more and more with every passing day, week and month.

Happy one year Mumbai... never thought we would make it so far... booyeah!!!


dark of the moon

"In any war, there are calms between the storms. There will be days when we lose faith. Days when our allies turn against us... but the day will never come when we forsake this planet and its people. For I am Optimus Prime, and I send this message to the universe. We are here & we are home."
Optimus Prime
Sent from my Superphone


bridge of Rama

But then, he thought to himself, if he was not all these things, if he had not done what he had done, had not the nature that he did possess, then he would not be Ravana at all. Then he would be... Rama. Or something close to Rama. A virtuous warrior beyond compare.
Sent on my BlackBerry® from Vodafone



"Plans?? for tonight?? are you mad!! no plans for valentine's... it just a usual day" shrieked a colleague when I asked her about plans for the love day; "Valentine's day, eeks!! I don't do all of that. No such day for me, I'm going out for dinner with my parents" informed another co worker when I asked her the same question. "Happy gay day Arjun... why are such days so publicized... sigh" messaged a friend from back home, while another one texted "CP was filled with red balloons today!!! This is going to be such a horrendous day".

Besides removing the plenty curse words my female friends were very lenient in using to express their feelings, nothing from the above quotes has been fabricated; my parents have suddenly started following my blog and so I'm trying really hard to keep it as clean as possible... I want them to think that I'm still the kid whose mom never allowed him to read Sidney Sheldon books.

I love women. I am sure God created them amidst a lot pomp and grandeur (probably his team was winning the World Cup back then), cause he sure knew what he was doing. From the wondrous miracle of birth to the infinite amount of care and affection they can offer... the ability to look good in everything from lingerie to bikinis and even our clothes for that matter, they pretty much kick our asses in everything that one can possibly think of. Without them being around, we would all have been a bunch of naked baboon like men jumping around with no sense of ideation.

Some of the good looking ones might sure be prude airheads; some might be slightly less intellectual than the others and while most of them are bad drivers, they still have abilities that probably stretch far beyond the masculine level of comprehension. Like the ability to understand and mold themselves in whatever situations arise. Like my four very intelligent and understanding friends who I mentioned in the first paragraph. On one day when they can expect things without having to use their various weapons of emotional blackmail, they know its better to put on a mask of denial and vehemently hate the day knowing that they are after all in the company of men like many of us.

Normally I would have refrained from writing a post about Valentine's day. Having my own arsenal of defense mechanisms, like last year's post on Lust day (read here), I would have preferred to plagiarise another anti-valentine's article and have fun mocking at the comments, but this year, after witnessing the animosity people (mostly women) had against the love day, I couldn't resist.

The fear I had when I initially thought off this post was off being mistaken as a crusader of love, a wannabe cupid, a blind moronic love fanatic and a hopeless romantic. Besides the last one, neither of the previous ones are true. I'm neither an incarnation of St. Valentine nor am I a nincompoop who believes that 'love conquers all'. I'm just a fan of the V day; a fan most of whose partners have entered post today in the yester years and have never lasted the distance till the next year.

Like many of those who clich├ęd reply is that everyday is Valentine's day for us, I do fall in the same category. So to all those of my kin who believe that it might be too much to handle for their fragile egos to do something extra on this day and to those of the fairer sex, who prefer reminding themselves a thousand times over about how lame the day really is, please stop. Affection sure doesn't need one specific day to be frolicked about, but it doesn't even harm anyone to spend an extra buck on those over priced roses and/or chocolates. It might just help you ease out an ongoing altercation or even have an upper hand in a near future one. Besides, the resultant pleasure will definitely go beyond the gratification you get from one your 18/21+ websites ;).

I love women. Besides the few exs for whom a tit bit of disdain still remains, I think all of them are near perfect and almost Utopian. My mom, who has helped me achieve this level love and respect (and also the hopeless romanticism) for women and who also happens to have been my Valentine for the last 21 years, is my perfect example of this flawlessness.

One special day for love may not really be appropriate when the entire year is there to do so, but I still can't help but quote (again with the fear of being perceived as a love crusader) from this movie I recently saw, Happythankyoumoreplease (yes, its one word without spaces... its the guy who plays Ted in How I Met Your Mother, Josh Radnor's directorial debut and is a good watch). Go get yourself loved... its not such a bad feeling after all.