For The Love Of Journalism

Once upon a time, there were two journalists – a boy and a girl – working in an over-crowded island that passed off for a city. The boy used to work in a newspaper, reporting on all the crimes that happened in the city and lived a dangerous life. For, the city had an abnormally high crime rate. The girl, on the other hand, was the editor of a magazine and reported on all the business dealings in the city. Unfortunately for her, the city was also the financial capital of the country, which kept her quite busy with no time for any fun. For the purposes of this story, let us call them the Reporter and the Editor.

One day, Editor was walking along the road, lost in her own thoughts, trying to avoid the speeding traffic and, at the same time, trying not to step into the potholes on the road. Trying to negotiate a particularly tricky pothole, she tripped on her high heels and fell on to the road. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a speeding truck rushing towards her and she closed her eyes, frozen with fear, thinking that everything was over. Just as the truck was about to run her over, strong hands grabbed her around the waist and pulled her out of harm’s way. The speeding truck, horns blaring and barely slowing down, rushed past her, splashing the muddy water all over back. For a second, she was confused. She wasn’t dead. She wasn’t roadkill. She looked up at her savior, the man who had pulled her to safety, and looked into the intelligent brown eyes of Reporter. He was covered in mud, just like her, but he was smiling.

“If you have a death wish, you can find better ways to kill yourself,” said Reporter with a smile. “Are you all right?”

“Ye- yes!” stammered Editor. “What happened? I’m.. I’m not dead?”

“Unfortunately, no,” he said. “Why did you fall over?”

“I.. I tripped,” she said. “You saved my life! Thank you!”

“I did nothing of that sort. I was walking a few paces behindĀ  you on the road, and I saw you fall into the road, right in the path of that truck! I thought you were suicidal!”

She laughed, and gave him a tight hug. “Thanks for saving me!”

“Anytime,” he laughed. “What’s your name?”

“Editor,’ she said. “And you?”

“Reporter. Where do you live? You look like a truck just ran over you. You need to clean up. Let me take you home and make sure you don’t trip again.”

“I live just round the corner,” she said, laughing a little at his humor. “You can walk me home.”

So, arm in arm, they walked round the corner and he dropped her off at her house. “When do I see you again?” he asked, just as she turned to open her door.

She turned around and looked at him. He seemed cute enough. “Do you want to?” she asked with a smile.

He nodded.

*

Confused in Love

Two days after this incident, Editor was madly in love with Reporter. She didn’t know what to do about it and worse, she didn’t know how he felt about her. Meanwhile, Reporter was also badly smitten by the beautiful Editor, and wasn’t sure how to proceed. Both wanted things to move on and neither knew how to ask the other one out for an official date. They had met a couple of times over the past two days and had an absolutely wonderful time together. They enjoyed each others’ company and they jumped with joy when the other person called them. They were just too shy to ask each other out on a date. Or perhaps, they were afraid to make a move too soon and scare the other person away.

Love is such a fragile, fickle-minded thing.

So, one fine day, Editor couldn’t take it any more. She had to know. She contacted a friend of hers in another city and asked him to help her out in this dilemma. This friend of hers was known around the world as a famous Love Guru. He deliberated on her problem and came up with a foolproof, romantic way of bringing them together – a blog post. Though she was initially hesitant about the idea, she quickly realized the potential.

“Go ahead,” she said.

And the Love Guru started writing: “Once upon a time, there were two journalists…”

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Maturity At Midnight

It’s 10:01 in the night, on August 19, 2011.

In a little less than two hours, I will hope to attain certain levels of mental and emotional maturity. In vain, as I’m sure it will turn out to be. I’m nearing the end of my twenty-sixth year as a son, a brother, a friend, a lover, an enemy, an employee, an employer, a writer, a blogger, an asshole and a jolly, fat man. It’s not something that I’m particularly happy about, turning a year older, but to quote another jolly, fat man, “When you stop running and bend down to smell the roses, the terrific rip you hear is the seam of your trousers tearing away your modesty.”

I feel like I mooned the entire world for these years.

It’s 10:12 now, and I’m staring out the window into the inky night, picturing the leaden sky, when a light turns on in my neighbor’s backyard. The housewife next door comes out with some wet clothes and starts hanging them out to dry. I quickly look away, because she’s so ugly that I’m afraid that if I stare at her long enough, I’ll die. I hear the fan whine as it goes through the motions, countless times a minute. I hear a ping and I see a reminder icon flashing on my desktop tray, warning me of the various people I need to pay off. My phone vibrates next to me and I see an official email about a meeting we were supposed to have today. I sit and stare at the blank text box and wonder what to write.

How do I express what I’m feeling right now. It’s been such a fantastic journey with ups and downs, trials and tribulations, rights and wrongs, fights and friendships, love and hate, greed and generosity, intelligence and utter stupidity. I don’t think I can make it all up even if I wanted to. If I were given an opportunity to undo just one thing in my life so far, I wouldn’t do it. I would make the same mistakes again, I would have the same experiences again and I wouldn’t regret one second of it.

I have made some fabulous friends along the way and I have made some venomous enemies too. I have loved and lost and am yet hopeful. I have lived in sheer happiness and I have been depressed beyond measure. I have written and I have tried to. I have no regrets.

It has taken me a little less than two hours to write these four hundred words. It’s midnight.

I am 27.

Image Courtesy: Isilmetriel

Growing Up!

I’m halfway through my life and questioning my existence.

With my lifestyle, I’ll be a medical miracle if I live beyond 53 or 54 years of age. And on the twentieth of this month, barely ten days away, I will enter my twenty-eighth year. Almost half my life has gone by, and I’m sitting in the dark wondering what I’ve achieved so far and what I plan to do for the second half. I seem to be stuck at the intermission for the past few months.

Growing upWhen I look back on what I’ve done in my life so far, a lot of things stand out as being above average, but nothing stands out as being phenomenal. “Been there, done that,” seems to be motto I lived my life for the past twenty-eight years. Software programming, journalism, cancer research, authoring books, public relations, entrepreneur, serial dater and party freak. Now that I look back on those years, all I see is a lot of confusion. I have a goal in life and I am yet grappling with the tools needed to achieve that goal.

I think growing up sucks.

Image Courtesy: Afkaary

How To Spot An Indian

I’ve been hearing a lot of incidents of racial profiling, where Indians are ‘randomly’ pulled out of lines at the airport for a thorough check. It has picked up tremendously after 9/11 and I’m not surprised. As Indians, we unfortunately share the skin color and hair styles of the usual terrorist suspects. I would be racially profiling myself, if I said that all terrorists are middle-eastern, so I won’t say it.

A lot of people in Western countries shit their pants when they see a brown guy sporting a full beard. This fear is doubled if the brown guy is wearing a white kurta. And they practically run for their lives if this guy sports a Taqiyah – the traditional Muslim prayer cap. And there have been a few instances where a white guy literally had a heart attack when a brown guy he was talking to, used the word “Allah” in his sentence.

Terrorist SpottingThis is so ridiculous. There is a limit to paranoia, and taking it out on brown-skinned men and women, just because some brown assholes killed a bunch of white people in the past, is calling for trouble. Don’t get me wrong, I am shocked and disgusted each time there is a terrorist attack anywhere in the world. As a pacifist myself, I find the unnecessary loss of human lives intolerable. It is okay to be afraid, but it is not okay to assume that every guy with brown skin is a terrorist with a bomb strapped to his balls.

So, I have decided to write a small but useful guide to help people identify Indians in a line-up. Look, Indians are a harmless, gutless bunch of people who gave the world Kama Sutra, and wanted everyone in the world to live happily together, having awesome sex with each other. We are not the kind of people who would want to harm others. Hell, we go ballistic when our kids eat non-vegetarian foods and call them murderers – we believe in instilling guilt very early in our kids.

The first thing you should notice about an Indian guy in a line-up (I’ll get to Indian women later) is that he won’t smile. His passport photo will look as if he is attending his mother’s funeral. But this alone will not help you weed out Indians from terrorists, because terrorists don’t smile in their passports as well, as Russel Peters very eloquently put it, a few years ago. So, the next thing to do is check out a suspect’s facebook profile or, if he’s in the airport check-in / check-out line, grab his phone and check the pictures on his phone. Here’s what you will expect to see:

  1. If the Indian in question is a student at an American / UK / Australian university, he will have definitely stored pictures of himself posing in front of every tree, post-box, car and white guy he comes across. And in all these pictures, he will be wearing a pair of shades that are too big for his face, the thickest fur-lined jacket (if its winter) or a hat that can only be described as a fedora (if its summer). He will also have the smuggest expression on his face that seems to say, “Look at me, I’m so bloody cool!” Yeah, he’s an Indian, let him go. He will probably wet himself if he is questioned about bombs and guns. If you don’t believe me, then take a look at what I did when I was a student in New York. This is a link to my album on Orkut – I am so ashamed of myself that I hardly use Orkut these days.
  2. If the Indian is older and his passport lists him as being married, then his phone / facebook profile will have hundreds of photographs with his wife, taken on their wedding day – the wife will be posing solo in many of these, in a gaudy silk saree and a head-full of flowers, in front of various background images of waterfalls and mountains, arms raised in different gracious angles… He’s an Indian, let him go.
  3. If the Indian is older but unmarried, he will probably be trying to smuggle booze and cell phones into the country to distribute to his cousins and friends and parents. Hold him, but be warned that he will have a fantastic defense planned – something about being forced into this by a girlfriend or a dying kid from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

I hope that I have made it abundantly clear on how to spot Indian men and I hope that this guide will aid law enforcement officials to avoid profiling of Indians because of their skin color. Always remember, we are the assholes posing stupidly in photographs. We are not killers.

PS: It’s quite easy to spot an Indian woman – she’s very hot and she screams in terror when any guy gets too close.

PPS: This post is not meant to be offensive to anyone. If, in the process of putting down my opinions, I have inadvertently insulted any religion, caste, creed or camel, I apologize.

ARLI Bloggers’ Meet Bangalore

What’s the difference between a man and a life insurance policy? Eventually, the life insurance policy matures.

Aegon Religare Life Insurance LogoThis past Saturday was quite interesting for me. I attended a bloggers’ meet in Bangalore, hosted by Aegon Religare Life Insurance (ARLI) in the morning. My first thought, on receiving the invitation, was, “Oh my. It’s about life insurance! I will need a good book to help me sit through this one.” I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought this at first. I arrived at Mocha with some trepidation, and waited for the other bloggers to turn up and the event to start. The event was managed by their agency and their point person was a lovely young lady called Anuradha. We chatted about this and that until we could begin, and I took a seat among the other people who had turned up.

At first glance, I could make out only three familiar faces in the audience, and the other three looked ominously like insurance salesmen! The Chief Marketing Officer of ARLI, Yateesh Srivastava, kick-started the meet with a brief introduction and took us through a well-structured presentation on their new product. This is where it got slightly more interesting. Apparently, people can now buy their life insurance policies online, in under eight minutes. It’s a concept, he explained, that hasn’t really taken off the way they hoped, but was making steady progress nonetheless. The product, called iMaximize, was launched twenty-one months ago, and has clocked 15,000 sales. Any decent life insurance salesman will tell you that this figure could have been better, but for a completely new concept of buying a policy online, I think its quite a decent start.

As I had suspected, quite a few of the people who turned up were not bloggers, but insurance agents and independent salesmen, and at first, it was fun to see them debating with the ARLI reps about the pros and cons of their online product. Very soon, however, it became a messy affair, with almost everyone in the room getting bored of hearing two people argue about vague topics. It would have been better to take that discussion offline.

As a person who has organized close to a hundred bloggers’ meets for the past five years, I was not too happy with the way this was held. I don’t blame the organizers one bit because most of the usual bloggers who attend meets in Bangalore were present at the Yahoo! Code Jam, happening at the same time Saturday. I have had enough of Code Jams to last me a lifetime. A lot of bloggers in Bangalore who are part of the Bangalore Tweetup were left out, and though I made it a point to invite them, it was probably too short a notice. Apart from this fact, I think the event was a success with some very good information being shared. But if I am allowed to disperse just one bit of gyaan – don’t invite non-bloggers to a bloggers’ meet. It’s not a healthy sign.