Sunday, December 24, 2006


Ennui, White noise, Thahraav

Am not used to living like this.

Friday, December 22, 2006

"If" for the Beat Generation

I don't know whether you have heard this one before:

"A Boy Named Sue"

My daddy left home when I was three
And he didn't leave much to ma and me
Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.
Now, I don't blame him cause he run and hid
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me "Sue."

Well, he must o' thought that is quite a joke
And it got a lot of laughs from a' lots of folk,
It seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I'd get red
And some guy'd laugh and I'd bust his head,
I tell ya, life ain't easy for a boy named "Sue."

Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean,
My fist got hard and my wits got keen,
I'd roam from town to town to hide my shame.
But I made a vow to the moon and stars
That I'd search the honky-tonks and bars
And kill that man who gave me that awful name.

Well, it was Gatlinburg in mid-July
And I just hit town and my throat was dry,
I thought I'd stop and have myself a brew.
At an old saloon on a street of mud,
There at a table, dealing stud,
Sat the dirty, mangy dog that named me "Sue."

Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
From a worn-out picture that my mother'd had,
And I knew that scar on his cheek and his evil eye.
He was big and bent and gray and old,
And I looked at him and my blood ran cold
And I said: "My name is 'Sue!' How do you do!
Now your gonna die!!"

Well, I hit him hard right between the eyes
And he went down, but to my surprise,
He come up with a knife and cut off a piece of my ear.
But I busted a chair right across his teeth
And we crashed through the wall and into the street
Kicking and a' gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer.

I tell ya, I've fought tougher men
But I really can't remember when,
He kicked like a mule and he bit like a crocodile.
I heard him laugh and then I heard him cuss,
He went for his gun and I pulled mine first,
He stood there lookin' at me and I saw him smile.

And he said: "Son, this world is rough
And if a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn't be there to help ya along.
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you'd have to get tough or die
And it's the name that helped to make you strong."

He said: "Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn't blame you if you do.
But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
Cause I'm the son-of-a-bitch that named you "Sue.'"

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun
And I called him my pa, and he called me his son,
And I came away with a different point of view.
And I think about him, now and then,
Every time I try and every time I win,
And if I ever have a son, I think I'm gonna name him
Bill or George! Anything but Sue! I still hate that name!

-Johnny Cash

Thursday, December 21, 2006

What's the Aim of Life?

With a title such as this, I don't have a lot of content to add. However I'll attempt to try to find how we can achieve our (or, is it the same for everyone) life's aim. Let me try to analyze this:

Aim in Life: Happiness

Task: Maximizing happiness in life

Happiness composed of: joy (fun + excitement) X satisfaction (security + contentment)

Activities that give you joy: irrational activities x constant1
Activities that give you satisfaction: rational activities X constant2
(i.e. as one increases, the other decreases)

Total happiness: (irrational X rational ) activities

Thus, to maximize this,

(1) we need to balance them in a manner (depending upon the constant) that maximizes the product. The problem arises that the entire actual process is a trial and error (we don't know the constant) and we don't really get a second chance.

(2) raise the constants to such a level that the product becomes less sensitive to our activities, I mean become less sensitive to what is happening around you, however it makes you equally less sensitive to increase in happiness or decrease in it.

So, the idea is to try and do both at various points of time in one's life.

And I also think I have a fair idea of what the maximum product is: "42".

There, I have just identified the question to "the ultimate question of life, universe and everything" :).

Monday, December 18, 2006

1 Argument, 1 Analogy

Yesterday, I was thinking a lot about an argument used very often by people who prefer to take the chill route to life, "if you are a part of the rat race, it doesn't matter whether you win or lose, you are still a rat". I used to counter this saying, better a winning rat than a losing lion/dog/sheep whatever. But increasingly, I have begun thinking that the argument has some logic. At some point in time you have to decide whether you keep wanting to run (and risk becoming a losing rat which is like the bottom left-hand corner of self-respect), or say, "I am cool" and watch the action from the sidelines.

Trying to get a girl is akin to playing fast bowling on a bouncy pitch. Your aim is to score runs while avoiding getting caught behind. There'll be a few deliveries you know you can't handle which need to be left for the wicketkeeper. Getting rejected is like having a shy but missing it altogether. However, even thought it dents your confidence, it keeps you alive for the next ball. If you get caught behind, it is akin to getting dumped, and you go back to pavilion taking your time before you can face the bowling again. Even here, the recommendation is "if slash, slash hard" immortalized by what my senior once told me "yaar, bandi patani hai to jaat-types hona padega" a la Virender Sehwag.

Plus, whoever it is who sent the comment, thanks. Most of what I write is very mood-dependent, so there is not much substance in it. I don't take myself very seriously and don't expect anybody else to either.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Stream of Incoherence

It has been a lot of time since I have posted anything here, and I was beginning to wonder whether I would ever. But then a wintry afternoon is probably the best time to think, rationalize and write thoughts lazily, and as happens to me so many times, I started thinking about my life, what sort of a person I am and all the same old jazz.

When I was in campus, I was very fortunate to have good friends, who listened to me, when I would incoherently blabber on about my life, and the "problems" facing it. Several Friday nights, we would go out for dinner (on some pretext of treat or the other), play AOE late in the night and then taking a walk in the cool air, talk about "meri life mein kya fite hai?"

Sometimes when nostalgia hits me and I start thinking about those nights, tears well up in my eyes and I am transported back in my mind to those days when the biggest problem one could have was the possibility of a bad grade, that one could lose a quiz since one's teammate was not there, the likes. And none of these were ever actual problems, it was fun talking about them, and at the end of it all, one was always happy, satisfied and slept late in the morning without any thought.

It's not as if I am not happy today but there is a clear lack of an outlet for my emotions, I am not being able to talk freely (the person I talked to the most freely is somewhere in the backwaters of USA), and that is why probably I have started to drink so much. And that's when the ambiguity of the purpose of my existence starts crowding out my enthusiasm for work, motivation for moving ahead (?) in life and general will to do something. I suddenly don't have much to live for.

Life has been a series of battles, one after the other, with no end of war in sight. I have become so afraid of losing, the fear keeps me on the edge all the time, as somebody pointed out yesterday, I look energetic and nervous all the time. I don't take defeats very well, I become a sad, mean man and thankfully I have been winning for long. However, the thought is increasingly suffocating me, someday I am gonna be on the losing side, someday I gonna just break down and give in and turn into one of those stars which just burned out and faded.

However, the only comfort I have is that the realisation is with me, I understand something needs to change. I just hope it does before things start going wrong.

"Hazaaron khwahishein aisi ki har khwahish pe dum nikle
Bade nikle mere armaan lekin phir bhi kam nikle"

Friday, November 03, 2006

55 word story

"An arrow hit him on the back. He spun around. She smiled. He smiled. They approached closer; he felt warmth seeping into his body from where the arrow entered. As they kissed, he saw an arrow sticking out of her back. All eyes turned towards them. Nobody noticed a nude child scurrying down the stairs."

"She was slightly tired, but looked happy. He kept looking at his watch. “Unusual date. Well-dressed, well-mannered, smiles a lot though. A bit too eager, perhaps” she smiled. “And guys really don’t know to make coffee, yuck."

The time for the ritual was drawing closer. He wondered how long more before the poison takes effect."

I seem to be getting good at this. :D

Six Word Stories

Guy: Vidi, Vici, Veni
Girl: Asshole!

Accident! Signpost: The road less travelled

Two Thoughts on Music

Was feeling particularly vella yesterday, and when we (me and another colleague) met a colleague on her way to Barista we decided to accompany her even though we had been there just a minute back. The conversation somehow veered to music (from my singing, I think :D) and two interesting thoughts came up:

1. Intangibility: Music is still a wonder to so many of us and liked so much because in this world where more and more things become analytically divisible and logically represented, we are still not able to figure out analytically why we like some sounds and not others. This sheer intangibility of music makes it so beautiful. With music, you can get away from the world and enjoy it, and have no logical reason for it.

2. Transcedental: Some tunes, snatches of music stay with you for a long time, and have the power of bringing back some scenes and memories of the first time you'd heard this music and then your soul fills with the same feeling as you were back then. For example: the song "Bhumro Bhumro" from Mission Kashmir reminds me of my home during the early winters, cool evenings, onset of diwali, the first feel of a sweater on your body, and sometimes makes me move to tears. I had heard this song for the first time in the last Diwali I had spent at home in six years until this year. It also reminds me of a simpler time, the age of innocence, because from that point on (and that period was the onset of those changes), my character has undergone a lot of changes and though the man writing this is a more competent and successful individual, I liked being that boy. Sorry, for straying from the point :).

Well, as they say, "Music is the opium of the masses", with due respect to Karl Marx. For all the weirdity and sadness in this world, music is one of last few bastions of pure joy left.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Perhaps an individual is best characterized by what irritates him the most. All of us would want everybody else to be perfect but since we are not (and as a corollary), nobody else is too, we frequently get irritated by what we deem as foibles in other people. Coming to the point, a good way of characterizing people could be what qualities they deem most reprehensible in others; which make someone's blood boil which in others wouldn't merit other than a raised eyebrow.

There are two things that irritate me the most:

1. When people/newspapers talk of statistics and anecdotal evidence to draw out trends: This post is in a lot of ways inspired by this week's issue of Business World (a magazine which I otherwise read/respect), which talks of the Indian youth. Now, they talk about the entire Indian youth with their sample population restricted to the mega-urban youth only, those which can talk about cellphones, gadgets, the likes, a section which is not more than 1/8th of the total "Indian youth". However, it is not only Business World I find guilty in such cases, almost all newspapers, carry opinions/surveys/statistics based on an elite section of the society but tout it as the voice of the nation. I can go on and on, and some day I will, but will restrict myself to this much today.

2. When people are tardy and remain nonchalant: All my life, my goal has been to meet targets and timelines. I realise people have different competency levels and can't meet targets sometimes but I can't forgive two things:
a. When people realise that a particular deadline is unviable and stuff IS gonna get delayed, why do they accept such deadline. Most probably, if the person in front of you is sane enough, he'll realise the same and address it.
b. When stuff is in the process of getting delayed, why can't the knowledge be flagged early enough. It affects other arrangements of the person and an early warning can go a long way in keeping the situation from getting out of hand.

Was just in the mood to crib a bit :). It's a beautiful morning.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Transactional Nature of Relationships

Two posts earlier, I had talked of a conversation where the issue "how to get girls" came up. Now prior to this, we had been talking of my run-ins with girls and their aftermaths. As I tried to explain to her how I perceived such relationships, she suddenly said "So you believe in the transactional nature of relationships". And that I think had been the word I had been looking for all along.

What that would imply is that while in relationships or whence getting into one, I take the cost of this relationship in terms of a few parameters, how does it affect my alreasy existing relationships, how much time I would need to devote for this one, how much money (to a small degree, yet there) and how long will it last? Therefore everybody relationship would be like a transaction which I would mull over a lot.

The thing with relationships is that you can't really bargain on the terms you get. Take it or leave it, is the rule. Plus, you don't want to be seen dithering over deciding whether you want to pursue the relationship or not. Most emotional relationships are supposed to "just happen" rather than be engineered.

Therefore, while this would work in almost all other dealings in life, while looking for emotional realtionships, a transactional approach wouldn't be very useful.

I don't know what the moral of the story is, however atleast now I have another cool funda to talk about!!

Monday, October 30, 2006

And we owe our happiness to

I recall very vividly the farewell of the batch of students from my department in my college when I was in my first year. It was a singularly depressing sight. Only 4-5 out of a batch of around 40 had gotten jobs (even they didn't have what they'd have liked or aspired to) and the rest were as morose as they had been attending a funeral. It was a funeral, mostly, as student after student came up to the dias and in turn, lambasted the department, the placement cell and implored future batches to pay more attention to their studies. The effect on a fresh bright eager student (yours truly) was strong enough, that all my actions for the next three years was towards ensuring I don't suffer that fate (but that's another story).

Coming to the summer of 2006, as this year's batch was having its farewell, there were smiles all around. People were in a self-congratulatory mode and generally having fun. I took some time out to students to tell them to work hard since times are not always the same, but I don't think anybody paid much attention. Jobs were aplenty, and people had better things to do than listen to an old fogey.

What has changed?

Most of the jobs that people have were in sunrise sectors, IT, ITes, KPOs, the like. What has brought these jobs into India? I believe a lot has to do with government policies that go back to the reforms in 92. As a partner in my firm told me a few days back, before McKinsey came to campus in IIMA in 92-93 (don't particular remeber which of these years), the packages were something like 60-70K a year, which McK took to 3.25 and doubled it a while later. Before these companies came with the wave of liberalisation, there were hardly any jobs through which a person could dream of buying a house, a car in a few years while working in a regular job. And that, over the years, changed.

And now we are witnessing the second wave that is sweeping the country bringing in its wake more jobs fulfilling the aspirations of our generation.

However, as we wallowed in mutual backslapping, in none of these farewell speeches were the architects of our happiness, our future prosperity thanked. Well, I apologise, but thanks Mr. Narasimha Rao, Mr Manmohan Singh, Mr P Chidambaram, Mr Montek Ahluwalia and several others, who didn't come into the limelight.

Thank you sirs. Thanks for making India a happier place.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Getting a Girl

This is at the end of a discussion that we were having at our office (my friends if I told them, we had such discussions at office would be hard put to explain why we were making so much money :D). Anyways, the discussion began with a few of us discussing what was the right age for each of us to get married, and then veered towards girls as a species and how to get girls. Many posts can be written about this discussion since a lot of interesting theories were put forward but the biggest takeaway :) I had from it was one what female colleague explained as the three rules towards getting a girl:

1. Don't consider that they are from a different planet. They are like you in more ways than you'd expect them to be.
2. Don't put random fight to get a girl. Becomes unsustainable (if successful).
3. If you like someone, tell her.

Hmmm. Some food for thought. Especially since I am so vella these days.

I am sure nobody reads this, but just to keep track of time, Happy Diwali to everyone. Am going home for Diwali after 5 years. Should be good.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Until recently, I was almost a compulsive liar. I might be lying when I use, until recently, however, witticisms apart, recently I decided to try hard and not to lie anymore.

I went through some bad times earlier and had then begin lying as a defence mechanism. While, it may have helped me through my professional life/career, I did irreparable damage to my personal life and my own self-esteem.

Now that I am in a good place I decided that lying/suspension of disbelief can only take me so far without causing me severe heartburn. Now that my priorities have changed, I have decided to align my nature accordingly to have more peace in my life.

Well, here's to "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Blogging - My Take On It

In this entry, when I talk to blogs, they specifically refer to personal blogs, not general purpose blogs.

Many of my friends (mutual and unilateral) blog. For several reasons. I suspect many of them do it with the same reasons as many others indulge in exhibitionism, what one of my friends/colleagues called "public prostitution". I don't mean to be so scathing however. Exhibitionism is the extreme form some people take emotional release to. There is some justice to the theory of catharsis, letting go of the self, to achieve emotional balance, by letting the floodgates open. This has been proved to be a very useful way of clearing the mind of useless muck and refocusing it on the important. People used diaries for this purpose earlier.

However, what would be interesting to analyse is whether people in the past would have liked to show their diaries to others. I don't know. Assuming that very few people showed their diaries to others, we are led to conclude that there are many more private blogs that exist on the internet than public blogs. In fact, more with a certain factor.



Hi. Am not sure whether someone else besides me is ever gonna read this or whether I am gonna write here again. But nevertheless, an introduction must be written and this is one.

There are three things the blogger account asked me to enter by way of signifying what this blog would/is about and I'll start with those. The blog's title "looking closer" refers to American Beauty (one of my favourite movies and arguably one of the best movies every made) which implies looking within self to discover peace.

The other being the title of the page, which being "Musings of a Wanderer" is a reflection of what I am and what I am gonna do here. This page will be a collection of assorted thoughts that come to mind now and then so that I reflect on them later, which might serve as a recording of my moments in life (may be am getting too ambitious here). Also, "Wanderer" and my signature name "Journeyman" describe my life till now. Have never stayed at a particular place or with people very long. Am a person who is not very connected to any thing or anyone, and find it difficult to let go of myself. Thus, the wanderer :).

The inspiration for this blog is a few relationships I have had in the past few months which have taught me a lot about myself. About how closed I was, how superficial I had become and how I sometimes needed to drop my guard and allow people within s0 that I could have a fruitful relationship with them.

So I have decided to try and catalogue some of my feelings across time and see what is emerging.

"At the beginning of a beautiful journey whose future is uncertain, as is its success"

Bon Voyage!!