Saturday, September 17, 2016

F.R.I.E.N.D.S after college

A caterpillar is slimy, ugly and  struggles a lot  to survive. I don't even know if a caterpillar knows that it will turn into a butterfly someday. I assure you that this cliched analogy will make more sense than a (I)phone without  an audio jack. I wanted to start with something that can represent the feeling that I want to drive home.
Harry and Marv: Influence of friends
F.R.I.E.N.D.S, both the show and people, played a very important role in my life. I think  my friends shaped my personality and have played a critical role in where I am. Not sure whether it has been for bad or the worse, tough I am confident it is not for the good. Remember the villains of Home Alone movie Harry and Marv, they are one good example of the influence of your friends.Be it be their profession or their stupidity. Nonetheless, their friendship and influence on each other made for a great movie.
Here is an example of the influence my friends had on me, I remember being immensely satisfied and somewhat proud  when I scored the highest marks among my friends. Even if in reality I was comparing among the bottom 10 students of the class. It is an accomplishment to be the best of the worse among your friends. I also had friends who were more sincere and better at academics. I tended to perform better when I hung out with them.  And then there were other friends like Harry and Marv.
F.R.I.E.N.D.S at college
Friends I made in college were different from all the friends I had earlier. We all left our homes, there were no one to talk and rely on, except each other. We did not have smartphones and hence relied on each for support (man I feel old now). After a few awkward conversations, everyone opened up and post that there were no formalities. Everyone knew each other's vulnerability pressure points and how to exploit them. The main objective became to celebrate the failure and denounce the successes. Though it may sound somewhat counterintuitive, but it turned out to be a great foundation to our friendship.
There were also some important skills/rules that I learned with these bunch of friends. First and foremost, that your self-respect is as important as the  human Appendix. It did serve a purpose in past,now it creates unnecessary pain, and it would be better to get rid of it. Second, there are very very creative ways to insult your friends.Third, randomness and impulsive decision make the best stories. Fourth,irrespective of the ask, my friends will always do their best to help me and then insult me on the same problem.
Friendship at a college hostel is different because it is a friendship without supervision. It is  a natural selection, with an element of interdependence that differentiated college friendship with every other friendship. I think that college friendships are meant to last the longest.
F.R.I.E.N.D.S after college
My first year after graduation was an extended college with a key difference of having more money and cars. Consequently, there were more opportunities to do impulsive and stupid stuff. Also, most of my friends were in and around the city I stayed.It was one of the best years. But as the Game of Thrones can not go for more than 8 seasons , Harry potter for more than 7 books,Sachin Tendulkar  for 24 years and a friend of mine till 5 ft 5 in tall. It had to end and everyone moved to do something else.

When everyone moved apart I realized that there is a lot of effort and time that goes on making a good friend. The internal jokes,the 'HEIGHT' of jokes, the backgrounds of failures and breakups is hard to find again. Another interesting thing is that after college my friends have started accomplishing stuff both professionally and one personally (Pitin). You know your friends have come a long way when the friend who always made up stuff during college is a guest lecturer at business schools and still making up stuff.
Coming back to the first reference of a caterpillar's life. When you know someone from their early days of being caterpillars. It's always hard to appreciate the extent of their accomplishments. Other people see those accomplishments but college friends see the irony and humor in those accomplishments. One of the biggest departures from normality would be the first marriage (Pitin). I have no idea how this will change our friendship but it will be interesting to see. It is always interesting to see the contrast in reaction when you see someone accomplishing something and when your good friend does the same.
To all those impulsive and stupid decisions and hoping for more to come.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Art and Science of insulting

The only thing I remember learning at my Undergrad was the art and science of insulting. As you know, Insults can be broadly classified as insults with consequences and without consequences. The former can result in wars where 100 and thousands of people die (Draupadi Vs Duryodhan). The latter is what I dealt and learnt at my college.

During the course of those 4 years, I learnt to discard any respect or pity that I had to myself or any of my friends.  This is the underlying necessary assumption for insults without consequences. Like any other skill, insulting others also requires practice and dedication. One needs good teachers and a great learning environment to become good at insulting others. When I joined college, I have to confess that I was na├»ve and didn’t understand, appreciate or follow this great skill. I learnt from watching the adept in their acts and was really impressed by the nuances of their skill.  For the sake of context and simplicity lets call Pitin the person who we will insult.

One more important thing that I learnt at college was that insulting is a team game. The role of the audience is as important as the main insulter. Pitin only feels insulted when the audience laughs at what insulter is saying. So, effective insults require a lot of collaboration and teamwork. The magnitude of insult is directly proportional to the amount of laughter an insulter can generate from the audience. So, it is evident that insulting is a team game and requires a lot of coordination and timing.

Relying just on Pitin to provide content for insults is a mark of an amateur insulter. Professional insulters create situations that generate interesting content. Great insulters are always good friends with Pitin and never insult Pitin privately. They usually gain Pitin's unwavering trust and that makes him all the more susceptible to their play. Insulting is a group activity and you don't want Pitin to feel cornered. So switching to other members of the group to be Pitins is highly recommended. Best insults are those where Pitin is oblivious to what is about to come and is unaware of any traps .

One more important trick that I have seen the adept use is what we call as the 'PUMP'. A PUMP is an act where you say something to Pitin that he anticipates and desires but is totally untrue. For instance following is a trick that works most easily. You need an accomplice who knows the game. Let's say you are with Pitin in a bar or anywhere with some commotion and there is a girl. Make sure that Pitin also sees the girl, don't say anything just make some funny faces and keep him guessing. After some time when Pitin has his back on the girl, your other friend should take the cue and leave you alone with Pitin.

When you are alone with Pitin just casually slip in that the girl behind is watching him. Tell him not to turn his back and that he is on fire today. This is the inception of the idea now the second friend plays the part of making sure the idea sticks.The other friend should casually whisper to you  that the girl is looking at Pitin's direction so that Pitin can overhear you. After execution of a pump like this, you have Pitin by the neck and he feels pumped up  and can be talked into doing exactly what you want.This is a tried and tested technique and its perfect execution will have Pitin cornered .

Great insulters have many tricks like these up their sleeve and continuously get better at execution. To keep all the cards in your hands you should always have leverage over Pitin. Always reserve an embarrassing incident that Pitin dreads. The teachers at my college taught me that once you lose the leverage then the insults are not fun enough. Once the main arsenal is fired the enemy can no longer be intimidated. Remember being a sport and always play pitin once in a while, if your friends are good at this skill you will play Pitin more than you like. I assure you all, all it needs is a jolly group of people and Pitin for you to be a master of the game.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Return of the Mummies

These are very interesting times in India and Indian politics. Didi and Amma both have another term in their respective states. Assam and Kerela have new governments in the form of BJP and LDF respectively and there is no price in guessing what is common between all these election results.

Congress party that has ruled(ruled rather than governed ) the country for more than half a century are now in an embarrassing situation, their situation is similar to that of the Lannister's they have good comrades but their king
Tommen(Rahul baba) do not understand how to govern.

The Tamil Nadu people generally elect an anti-incumbent government. Not this time, was it because of the  2-G corruption label of the DMK or their inability to name a chief ministerial candidate but their association with congress did not help the party to defeat the corruption ridden AIADMK government. In West Bengal Mamata didn’t give anyone a chance so congress can be happy that they performed better than the general election but their performance compared to the last state election is still a disappointment. CPM led left actually won in Kerela where they again defeated the congress and in Assam it’s a historic win for the BJP.

Congress won the lowest seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha ever (just a meagre 44). Didn’t win a seat in the Delhi assembly elections, lost in Maharashtra, only won in Bihar with little or no influence on the government. This is after ruling the country for 10 years. They have their government just in 5 other states and they had a scare in Uttarakhand recently.These are pressing time for the oldest party in India, can they get away from the dynastic politics that is plaguing their party? It is clear that their so called price Rahul Gandhi has not done anything substantial for the party, he is all talk about revamping the party structure and doing something different, he acts like that guy in your project meeting who says that we have to do something cool and out of the box but has no knowledge about the subject.

He is single handedly responsible for collapsing the morale of the party's leaders and workers who have devoted all their life for congress. He is like ANTI-Dhoni, he has the ability to bring the worst with his team and give terrible results. It is high time for the party to do what is right, someone has to be Jamie Lannister for congress and stab this stupid prince(reference to mad king).
Rahul Gandhi has become a national joke and with a great corruption record for UPA government he has done a terrible job at saving the parties grace and countering the opposition. When he is talks sometimes he seems out of place and sometimes ridiculously stupid. The media even doesn’t seem to take him seriously either, which should be a grave concern for the party.

The immense influence of the Gandhi family on the congress party raises certain question, are they so respected in the party that no one believes that the party can be led by any other, does the family draws so much power(influence over judiciary and other government organizations) that everyone is afraid to challenge them or they have so much money so that they can buy their way out of any coup in the party, the first one seems the least likely and with the news of stir in the party it is clear that it is not just because of respect. The other 2 options are really interesting and even with the opposition in power, they command so much influence. This is something to think about and ponder over.

Nowadays congress is not even recognized as a credible opposition, the current government faces more heat from the likes of Kejriwal than the congress party, the party has lost the ability and will to attack the opposition and their structure is failing, it is high time that congress does something.

The party might have it is faults ,it tends to be more populist in policy making rather than pragmatic and transparent, it is corruption ridden and their politics work on maintaining the divide in the country, but still it is the only secular alternative in the country. For this very reason they cannot be decimated . The return of the mummies indicates high time for this old party to think and reinvent itself and participate in constructive dialogue in the democracy and present themselves as credible nemesis and alternative to right government led by the BJP. If this doesn’t happen the right wing will become bolder and bolder in their social professing and start enforcing their thoughts. Which in itself creates a scary picture for the country. Don’t get me wrong I want the right government to be in power and work on their economic policy. A strong opposition will make sure that they concentrate more on economy and development and suppress their extreme wing thought.

Congress party needs an uprising, they need someone to challenge the status quo, they need a Narendra Modi to change the party and modernize its working and start connecting to the people of the country again. It is certain that Rahul Gandhi is not the Azar Ahai that was promised, they need to introspect and save the party, if not for the benefit of the nation but their own benefit.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Pivotal Moments in life

Disclaimer: All character that are appear in this blog are almost fictional and this is a good enough account of the horrors I faced during the conversation mentioned with some exaggerations

If one see the birds eye view of their life, they will notice that the life is defined by some pivotal moments and rest everything is a follow-up to that moments decision or incident. When we are young most of our pivotal decisions are made by our parents and then we live up with the consequences, one perfect example would be the great Rahul Gandhi, I think he  and now the congress party are both suffering from wrong decisions of his parents.

As a kid our life outside home is always decided by the kind of friends we make at school and in our neighborhood. Just imagine if Harry Potter had made a decision to be friends with Draco Malfoy vs Ron Weasley; the story would have been completely different. I am talking about all this bull shit because I had a pivotal moment in my life recently with a very good friend ,so before getting to the point I wanted to give a backdrop of what I am going to say unlike the fate of Jon Snow I want people to know what is going on before they are stabbed(reference to an acquaintance ).

To begin with one of the big pivotal moment of my life was when my parents decided that I am OK at maths and need to pursue engineering, I don’t have many complaints in that regard, I consider my parents to be at least smarter than Tushar Kapoors parents while choosing career for their children (why is he still an actor ?). So I became an engineer, got a job worked for a couple of years with hopes of making big and starting my own company someday, but with no concrete progress in that regard.

I was having a great time with my college friends while working, we had money we had spare time , we had resources and as you can imagine our spending decisions were as bad as that of Vijay Malaya, buying  stuff we don’t need, spending in places which made no sense and so on (though we didn’t have a calendar ).

So coming to the point, some of my friends had girlfriends we used to tease them with prospects of marriage as Indian government does of bringing in the black money and ending corruption, both make the subject uncomfortable but with no likelihood of either becoming true in the in the near future. As Joey from friends will say "it is a Moo point". It's a cows opinion it does not matter."

But one of friends who recently made a girlfriend walks up to me one fine day and says Seth Suit Silvale( get a wedding suit tailored ) and I remember I was stumped with no response to give, two other friends of mine who were with me at that time had the same expression on their faces. We were as confused as NewZeland is against spin bowling we had no clue what the hell to do next.
Our feelings could be described as that of all comedians who one day are told you are not allowed to make Rahul Baba jokes. We had no clue what to do, it's like you are making a joke that Sir Jadeja can take 10 wickets and score a triple century in the same match, and he actually does, then the joke is not funny and the one cracking the joke starts looking stupid. It is a pivotal moment in your life when the jokes you crack can no longer be classified as jokes but they become somehow reality.

You could see from my friends face also that he was shit scared himself but he dodged the inevitable for another year(postpones is engagement). The next pivotal moment was when my parents forced me study further, apparently B tech is not a good enough qualification. So I decided that I want to learn more in the technical domain and would like to study analytics. This has opened more avenues for me and I think my parents again forced me to a good decision (moral of the story, listen to your mom )

Now after the end of my course I received another call from the same friend who  already got engaged during the course of my course. He was also interviewing for a company in the same city that I was also planning to stay. During the first half of the conversation I was pretty excited that my friend was coming to stay with me. But as soon as he recommended that he wants to stay with me, it triggered my panic mode. I just hung up the phone and it just dawned to me that all this is real now and he will be married very soon and things are going to change for all of us. I was as frightened as Suresh Raina is of short balls. I consider this as a pivotal moment in my life and the prospects of him staying in the same place with me scared the shit out of me. Though my friends created very interesting scenarios for me and I really thank them for all their imagination but I am freaked out.

As the great Joker said ' all you need is a push rest the gravity takes care'. My friend is now pushed and he is going to fall. Only Batman can save us now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The JNU Equation

Time and again India has proven that for our politics and our political agenda cares more about the past rather than the present or the future. We spend most of our political effort and consensus building on events that occurred in the past and which have no effect on any policy or any way improves the life of the people.

Conceding that these things are important but making it the only political agenda is outright ridiculous. The JNU debacle is one such example of utter nonsensical politics by all parties that call themselves secular first and patriots second.
Reading from the accounts on the internet it seems that one group from JNU(self proclaimed Marxist) wanted to organize a protest on the Judicial killing of Afzal Guru, a parliament attack convict. Officially the protest was a cultural event to protest the Supreme court ruling just after the third death anniversary of Afzal Guru. The group invited many Kashmiri's from outside of campus to voice their protest against the supreme court ruling.The were protesting against the corruption in the judiciary which resulted in the eventual execution of Afzal Guru who they referred to as a martyr.

I am a proponent of free speech but I think you should always criticize people and organization and not national Institution like supreme court of India. If you start questioning Institution it means you have no confidence in the  fundamentals of the country which for me classifies as anti-national.

Continuing the story, ABVP(the right wingers or the BJP folks) wing of JNU stepped in and said that a protest of this sort should not be allowed. The college administration agreed on banning the protest as they thought that it might create the pointless hysteria which it eventually did. The group of self-proclaimed Marxists went anyway with the protest and agreed to do it without mikes and much fuss. The ABVP stepped in and starting intimidating the Marxist which could have been easily avoided. To make matters worse the Invited Kashmiris came in and then they started shouting anti-national slogans like: "won't stop till India is destroyed" and "If you kill Afzal Guru from every house in Kashmir will produce a new one"

As an Indian I am offended by these remarks and think that it is unhealthy to support any remarks that are outright anti national. I am OK with people criticizing the right wing, the government and even the specific people in power but questioning, criticizing and threatening India and its fundamental Institutions is wrong and invites fierce condemnation.

Now the fun part was the politics after this incident. The most weird and counter-intuitive thing to me was Rahul Gandhi supporting the JNU students. I want to remind Rahul Gandhi that it was your government that hanged Afzal guru and rightly so. The students were protesting against your government decision  and somehow the strange part is that no one finds it strange neither you nor the students. I guess politics and political agenda are as characterless as any Tushar Kapoor movie.

I guess rather than problem solving capabilities, accountability and manifesto promises ,people judge governments and establishments on how they treat their ancestors and their beliefs. I guess this is why we move with so much tussle since we are so tied up with our past and beliefs that we don’t see what is good for us in the present and the future.
I think it is a classic example of game theory where everyone wants the best outcome for themselves and eventually due to mutual conflict everyone has to settle for an outcome that is way poorer than the optimal. Mr. Nash(won Noble price for game theory) was right, the more selfish and self-centered we are  the more we will suffer. As Mr. Nash says don't go for the most beautiful girl, you won't get her and waste your chances of getting the other ones which will eventually result in your happiness. I don't when will we understand his simple and beautiful mathematical logic 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Pathankot incident

The recent attack at the Pathankot Airport facility has sparked a national debate and rightly so and just 8 days after our Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a visit in good gesture to his Pakistani counterpart. I think this a trend that Pakistan loves to follow, if I remember the Kargil Attack was just a few days after Atal Bihari Vajpayee met with Pervez Musharraf  Before saying anything or expressing my opinions, let me put some numbers in perspective, since 1970 there have  been more than 4,108 terror attacks on India with a total of 12,539 fatalities. India ranks sixth in the number of terror attacks in the world during this time.

The key difference between any country and India is that we have always known where of our terror attacks originate from and still we have another Pathankot to tackle. Now, if you think there are two possibilities, first that the incumbent Pakistani Prime Minister has no control over the Army or the terrorists group in his nation, if this is the case then it makes no sense to talk to him or engage in any diplomatic talks with his government since it will bear no fruits  as we are talking to the wrong person and the second possibility that incumbent Prime Minister knows about these attacks and if this is case then in my opinion it is backstabbing which is more condemnable. So, I don’t think it makes any sense to talk to him. I might be emotional at this point but I don’t see a third possibility.

I was listening to Gen Bakshi and his views were very clear, precise and logical. You have to increase cost of these attacks to Pakistan. Be it by economic sanctions, proxy war or an overt war. Recently one Russian flight was shot by Turkey and the next day there were several sanctions on Turkey, Putin gave a statement making it clear that there will be consequences and there were. Trade was seriously affected, Turkey contractors lost their right to do business in Russia, cancelled visa on arrival and many more the very next day and issued the statement that this act will be revenged. I think things like this sends out a clear signal to everyone not to mess with the Russians.

The number of terror fatalities in India by themselves are statistical alarming without accounting for the number of families affected by these attacks. I always believe that force should be the last resort, but I think we are a couple decades past when the tipping point of that last resort came. The terrorists and their ideology needs to be wiped out, .i.e. surgically removed ,since I don’t see a medication for this disease.

Something has to be done proactively, we have been on the receiving end of this for quite some time and it is time that we give them a befitting response. I put these stats after 1970 because we gave a good response to Pakistan in 1970 and they didn’t dare to attack us post that. Indira Gandhi might be the only Prime Minister with the will to answer Pakistan. The people and the government/army of Pakistan might be laughing at us that we just entered your Airforce and successfully killed many of our best officers.

I think when you make foreign policies or even make a business transaction you always take into account the practical reality of the other party. You won't make a business deal with minister of magic when you know Voldemort Is making shots. The diplomatic policies should be made taking into account the history and the internal dynamics of the other party you are making a deal with. Our leadership should take into account this while dealing with Pakistan

I might be angry and emotional today because our brave soldiers were killed because of the failure of our terror policy, specifically with Pakistan. The people of India have been paying a very heavy price for the inability of our leadership. It creates a feeling of frustration. The only acceptable reason that we keep on going back to talks is that we think that we might lose to Pakistan in open warfare that is unacceptable in itself. This incident is a saddening day in Indian history and I hope should incite some decisive policy change against Pakistan.