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How does it feel to be at the very edge of the country, staring into miles and miles of nothingness, feeling the great landmass of the continent behind you falling away beneath your feet, the ignominy hidden under the chaotic blue-brown waters lapping gently at your feet… You reach out to touch the crystal clear cloudless sky, you feel the gentle zephyr ruffle every strand of your hair and every thread of clothing, you dig in with your feet and feel the cold, wet sand envelope your feet, carrying you away to another world… Your hands fall back slowly to your sides, and your right arm brushes against your right hip pocket, and the whole beautiful world comes crashing down with the realization that there’s not a single penny in the bulky wallet… How does it feel to be stuck in the middle of a picturesque nowhere with no money?

I guess I found out the hard way over the past three days in Manipal. It is a strange feeling – I haven’t felt that for a long time now, and being the end of the month, I was flat broke, with just enough money to return home. Budgeting my beer intake, making sure I walk rather than take the auto, sticking to a strict regiment of cigarette rationing, and other petty little things we do once a month when we fall below the poverty line.

But the event was a great success – I was given the Best Speaker award, which was a shock to me, because there were a lot of other speakers better than me. But I guess, I made quite an impression on the judges. Now that I’m back to being a boring old fart, I think I’ll restart my blog, reclaim my distorted life, and reorient myself to being a workaholic and drown my sorrows in coffee, tea, beer, blog posts and comments. Cheers! 🙂

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Really? You Sure?

“Man, your posts are boring nowadays…”

“They have lost the quality…”

“Who are you and what have you done with Nikhil?”

“Makes me wonder why I’m reading it after 2 lines…”

“Your blog has become so boring, dude!”

“You have lost that touch…”

“Why aren’t you writing like how you did before?”

“You are not being yourself but working to the formula…”

“I almost hate MirrorCracked now…”

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feedbackThese, and a plethora of other feedback have made me sit up and take notice. I look at myself in the mirror, searching for the cracks that were once so obvious, and fantasize in my head about them still being there. I wonder to myself what went wrong along the way. Maybe things went way off the mark and somewhere in the process, I focused more on being more than myself. Come to think of it, this may be the case.

Generally, negative feedback makes a person more focused on where they are headed in their venture. It forces them to re-look their act and make adequate changes to please everyone. More often than not, negative feedback makes people take a break, rethink their strategy and come back strongly with a fresh outlook on everything.

When it comes to blogs and bloggers, most negative feedback is meant to be a cause for improvement. I’ve known bloggers who’ve changed their complete profile of writing styles because of feedback. It helps some, it irks some. That’s life, I guess. After all, we all look in the mirror, hoping to see the tiny cracks that make us who we are, and panic when we don’t find them. For all those who’ve given me feedback, whether good or bad, I am indebted. Thanks for taking time off your life to show me where I’m slacking and where I need to improve.

Unfortunately, I’m a stubborn mule. I think MirrorCracked is a space where people can have a laugh, with me and at me, and I don’t see a reason to change. I will not change the way I write and I cannot promise whether my next post will be as uninteresting as this one, or as brilliant as something I wrote a long time ago. I write mainly because I feel obligated to share the details of my weirdly exciting life, and if, on some days, my life’s bland, then it’s not my fault, is it? Maybe it is… I don’t know, and honestly, I don’t care, as long as I’m happy in whatever direction I’m headed.

I repeat – I do not mean any offense to any one who gave me feedback. I am deeply indebted to you. It’s just that giving feedback to me is like throwing water balloons at a wall, hoping to make it topple. Sad, I know, but true.

I started this blog with two things in mind:

  1. Make sure that every person – man, woman, child, animal and jerk – who visits this space gets a good laugh or even a smile.
  2. Write scathing posts about the assholes of the world and show them just how much of a burden they are to this over-populated planet.

So far, in my posts, I’ve succeeded in both. Wouldn’t you agree? 😀

Quod Erat Demonstrandum!

The Land Of Beautiful Women :)

I felt like Johnny Bravo, trapped in a strange land with nothing but beautiful women all around. Everywhere I looked, there were hot, sexy women flaunting themselves, lost in the oblivion of beauty. And for someone like me who hauls from a concrete jungle where the only eye-candy is found in a mirror, I was irreproachably lost and felt a pang of jealousy for every man who walked the streets in that Paradise.

I was in Ahmadabad for the weekend, arriving in Bangalore only last night. The return flight was anything but comfortable. Indigo Airlines has a reputation for more heart-in-the-mouth moments than any other airline and last night, I experienced it first hand. The plane was rattling to the bone, crunching and creaking at every seam and the nuts and bolts could be heard deafeningly loud in the ear. The pitiful whine of the engines added to the mayhem and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one sitting hunched up, hugging myself and my dear life.

Indigo Airlines DeathtrapBut the deathtrap was worth it’s airfare as it dropped me safe and sound and in one piece in Bangalore, when I promptly fell to the ground, kissed it and flipped two big, fat middle fingers to the plane. As I walked down the rickety ramp, I could sense the huge beast breathing heavily and sighing with relief from the strain of being pushed to its limits for two-and-a-half hours.

Ahmadabad is a Paradise with a violent past and a glorious future, living in it’s quiet, picturesque present. The people are warm and fuzzy, and they talk about their Paradise with a pinch of salt, cringing every time memories come flooding back. Being a lion from a concrete jungle, I had no connect to their violence, no sense of belonging in a bloodshed past, and nothing to offer but a kind ear.

The women – oh god, the women there are breathtakingly beautiful. I felt so relieved that I was in love with the most beautiful woman in the world, because if I wasn’t, I would have been so tempted! Some of the places I visited were absolute thrills, and for a few minutes, I was comparing God’s creativity and Man’s imitation of the same – the women and the architecture, respectively.

The Architectural Splendor At Adalaj
The Architectural Splendor At Adalaj
Adalaj Step-Well
The Play Of Light At The Adalaj Step-Well

The step-well at Adalaj was so perfect in more ways than one – every turn and every bend boggling the mind with the complexity of the labyrinth; the light sneaking in at every turn, break and crack, throwing up fascinating shadows and reducing us to mere silhouettes; the throng of people, open-mouthed and yet, cautiously silent, awed by the hidden divinity of the place; and the beautiful women made the picture complete.

The Serenity At Sabarmathi
The Serenity At Sabarmathi
Rare Peek Into The Mahatmas Room
Rare Peek Into The Mahatma's Room

Sabarmathi Ashram was the other major pitstop I had, and amidst the quiet chaos in the heart of the city, the place had an eerie calm to it, ensconcing the visitor in a shroud of silence and almost forcing everyone to marvel at the power that Gandhi wielded without touching a single weapon, without commanding a single army and without having the luxury of wealth, office and politics. It made me feel proud. It made me feel small.

The obvious highlight of the trip was meeting three of the sweetest bloggers – Manushi, Sakhi and Alice. It was a different thrill meeting each one of them, and it did not feel awkward or constrained at all. The fact that each one had in them something different to offer to the conversation and add to that my fascination of finally meeting them, made what could have been a potentially disastrous meet into something akin to absolute fun. You three are great and I take my (non-existent) hat off to you.

Of course, the most prominent part of my trip was my reunion with a dear old classmate/friend/confidante/curse-buddy/beer-buddy/sutta-partner of mine – Chucks. She was back in India for a semester break during her MBA in Sydney, and meeting her was an absolute thrill that cannot be expressed. I raise my glass of beer in toast to you, Chucks, and hope that you succeed in whatever you do. Tiny steps, remember?

All in all, it was a great weekend. I got some quality work done, met some absolutely fantastic people and saw some breathtaking places. Ahmadabad must be on every traveler’s list. It’s worth a re-visit.

All images are taken by me, using my Nikon L12.

Travails Of A Traveler

I’ve been traveling quite a bit this year, and hasn’t left me much time to blog, reply to comments and visit my blogroll as often as I’d love to. I regret this, but I do promise that once I’m done traveling, I will be back to my old netcial self.

By the way, ‘Netcial’ is a word that I’ve invented myself – it’s an adjective to describe someone who’s socially active on the internet. Yes, yes, I’m proud of me too! 😀

I’m flying over to Ahmadabad today, in a few hours’ time. I’ll be back on Sunday and I’ll put an end to all my travels. No, that’s probably not true, because I’m going to Chennai on the 13th again, for a couple of days. Sigh, I live in Bangalore and I miss Bangalore! 🙂

See you soon! Play safe, folks! 🙂

Buses, Bloggers, Booze, Biryani, Bangalore Mirror…

"Special" Buses Are Late.
"Special" Buses Are Late.

…or anything else that matter, I had an awesome weekend to say the least. I reached Chennai Saturday morning after a particularly disconcerting bus ride. The bus was supposed to be a “special” bus from KSRTC (Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation) and the fare was 800 instead of the usual 500. It was supposed to be a Volvo bus with air-conditioning and was supposed to reach Chennai an hour early than the other buses. The bus was supposed to depart at 10:43 pm. There were 60 people scheduled to travel in the bus, and we were waiting with our tickets in hand at the designated platform, watching the 10:30 pm bus arrive and depart, the 10:45 pm bus arrive and depart and finally, even the 11:45 bus arrive. There was no sign of the “special” 10:43 bus.

Someone got agitated; someone else called the cops and brought a couple of constables to the spot and started accosting everyone sporting a KSRTC uniform. The cops were pleading helplessness and the KSRTC men were pleading ignorance. I was standing there among the crowd, feeling an unrealistic sense of amusement creep over me.  “This isn’t happening,” I said to myself. “I must be dreaming.”  I pinched myself quite hard and let out a surprised yelp of pain, drawing strange looks from the angry mob.

Finally, the “special” bus did arrive and we all got in, praying that no one beats the driver to death. An uneventful journey later, I stepped out in Chennai. I was scheduled to attend a workshop on visions and entrepreneurship on Saturday and Sunday, catch the Opeth concert at the IIT Madras fest – Saarang ’09 – meet bloggers from Chennai briefly on Monday, catch an early bus back to Bangalore and meet Shefaly who was in town, and finally, go home and catch up on some much-needed sleep before heading back to work on Tuesday. That was the plan.

Uthandi Ashram
Uthandi Ashram

The workshop was quite fascinating and enlightened me on a lot of things. A residential workshop held in the quaint Uthandi Ashram in Chennai, I can’t decide if the peace and quiet were more enthralling than the peacocks and the private beach.

The Opeth concert was mind-blowing, and that’s an understatement. More than 5000 people thronged to the Open Air Theater at IIT Madras – a campus known for it’s sheer size and natural beauty – and were entertained by some out-of-this-world music by Demonic Resurrection and Motherjane, who opened for Opeth. After an agonizing wait, Opeth finally kicked off, and for the next three hours, it was a sound fest.

I Was There! Long Live Rock!
I Was There! Long Live Rock!

When 5000+ people scream and sing along with an absolutely heavy death metal band, the world stands still and joins in the chaotic mayhem. I came out with a sore throat and a star-struck look in my eye. I became one of the few lucky human beings alive to have witnessed Opeth live in concert! 🙂

Monday morning proved to be undoing of my well-laid plans and I just did not get a bus ticket back to Bangalore. All the buses were filled and I was too broke to afford a flight. I controlled my rising panic and went to meet all the bloggers from Chennai, whom I’d ditched once for a meet.

It was an amazing afternoon, where I demonstrated my culinary skills with some mouth-watering Biryani that would put the greatest chefs to shame. I met Vimal, Aaarti, Archie, Aparna, Apar, Bhar, Praddy, Sharada, Nautankey and three non-bloggers – Vikram, Arvind MN and Guha. I got tipsy with some fine Jack Daniels and realized that it was too late for me to reach Bangalore in time to meet Shefaly. I owe her an apology.

I caught a late night “special” bus back to Bangalore after walking around the bus stand for more than 40 minutes trying in vain to obtain a seat. I paid 800 bucks again for a ticket that cost 720 bucks and forgot to get the balance money back. I got fleeced for 80 bucks by a government employee! 😀

blog-talk-jan-27-2009

I reached Bangalore this morning at 4:30 and slept for a coupe of hours and returned to the monotony of my professional life. I got a pleasant surprise, when I realized that Bangalore Mirror had featured MirrorCracked again! So, I’d say that it has been a good weekend which could’ve been great if everything on my list went according to the plan. But, that’s life.

The Dummy’s Guide To Pissing People Off!

piss_off_guide

Of course! It has to be true! Damn right! You need to piss people off all the time! It’s much like the song ‘Iris’ by Goo Goo Dolls, where he croons, “…yeah you bleed just to know you’re alive!” We need to irritate people around us all the time to feel alive. What’s the point of living if you don’t piss someone off? Huh? Tell me!

The scientists at the MirrorCracked Labs are quite busy these days with the grand opening just round the corner. (Oh, you have to watch the video if you haven’t already! It’s pretty neat! A lovely teaser for the MirrorCracked Labs’ grand opening!)  I use the term ‘grand opening’ quite a lot, don’t I?

Sorry, I digress. As I was saying, the scientists are quite busy plotting planning the grand opening, and have relegated this particular Dummy’s Guide to me and me alone. I hope I do justice.

Pissing people off – the heart and soul of our existence. We wouldn’t be here doing what we are doing if someone a hundred thousand years ago hadn’t pissed someone off and started a war. We wouldn’t be here if someone hadn’t pissed on someone else’s joy! You wouldn’t be reading this if someone hadn’t pissed me off and made me write this. So, you have to agree with me that it’s quite important to piss people off all the time. It’s our god-given right. It’s why we were given a voice. It’s why were given the ability to ridicule and irritate and point fingers and laugh. It’s our duty! 🙂

So, how do we do it? How do we achieve the perfect balance between pissing someone off and not getting slapped, shot, kicked in the nuts, stabbed in the back, kicked in the nuts, slapped, slapped, punched in the face, kicked in the nuts again or pushed off a cliff? It takes great care and patience to achieve this feat, and it’s not easy. You need to pay attention.

Pissing Men Off

arnold_angryQuite easy – take a dig at their manhood. Tell them they’re virgins and even if they are, they’ll vehemently deny it. Watching their face go from a normal beige to various shades of red, blue and orange is quite fun. Men are strange in this issue – I don’t know why but they always overplay their sexual exploits and this is the best way to piss a man off.

Of course, the only two other things that matter to a guy is either beer or sports. Ridicule his favorite beer and you might end up on the wrong end of a well-placed kick to the nuts. Ridicule the guy and call him a sissy for watching cricket or golf, and he’ll go stark raving mad.

I’ll let you in on a secret. If you know a guy who is straight and want to piss him off, accuse him of being gay. Oh, he’ll hate you for the rest of his life, and he’ll stay away from cosmetics and watch each of his words carefully whenever you’re around! 😀

PS: I don’t want to dig my own grave in this postscript by saying something about homosexual tendencies that I’ll regret, so I’ll just construct a totally useless sentence.

Pissing Women Off

woman_attackGiven that sex, booze and sports are the only three things that can effectively piss a man off, you’ll find it hard to piss a woman off with these three topics. Women are usually very secure about their sexuality/sex lives and taking a dig at their alcoholic tastes will be like throwing grains of sand at a hurtling train hoping to derail it. And women and sports, well, let me not be a spoilsport, but you know how it goes. (My mom thought F1 cars were battery controlled toys and unmanned!)

So, how do we piss women off? Easy – take a dig at her age. It always works, no exceptions. Tell her, “Oh, you look so much younger in your photographs!” and she’ll hate you with a vehemence second only to a supernova.

Horizontal attacks are also effective. “You seem to have gained some weight,” “Is that an extra-large top?” and “How many months due are you?” are the three most effective way to piss a woman off about her weight. Never fails.

But I am duty bound to warn you – Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Be careful.

Go ahead! Piss someone off today! Live a little! 🙂

Images Courtesy: Arnoldspeaks.com and Randommovieclub.blogspot.com

And So, The Crappy Year Finally Ends!

It took 365 days for this year to end. Usually, I wouldn’t have noticed how quickly the time flies and would have said some inane comment like, “I didn’t know how quickly the time flew this year!” but this time it’s different. It took an eternity for the year to end.

It was a crappy year, with good memories few and far between. Resisting the temptation to lash out at certain people,  slander a lot more and regret a lot of choices I’ve taken and decisions that I’ve made, I’ll try to re-live those moments that were worth remembering.

PS: All pictures have either been clicked by me or I hold the exclusive copyrights to them.

Brooklyn Bridge, NYC
January: Brooklyn Bridge, NYC
View From The Brooklyn Bridge
January: View From The Brooklyn Bridge
Central Park, NYC
January: Central Park, NYC

nyc-collage

Buffalo, NY
February - March: Buffalo, NY
Niagara Falls
February - March: Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls
February - March: Niagara Falls
Gokarna
April - June: Gokarna
Gokarna
April - June: Gokarna
Self-obsessed Photography
July - August: Self-obsessed Photography
Honing My Super Skills
August - September: Honing My Super Skills

I really hope all of you have had a much better year than I have. I wish you all a fantastic new year ahead! Don’t bother making resolutions – they’re too optimistic to live up to! 🙂