Sunday, December 23, 2012


Dedicated to Mr. AK and Mr. BT

Can I?
Yes you can.
Should I?
That depends entirely on you.
How do I decide?
Look at the pros and cons.
I’m still not able to figure!
(*Laughs) Think! Think! Think!
Should I be rational about it?
Not about what you want. But, you need to be logical on going about it.
What if I make a mistake?
You will learn from it.
It’s tough!
That’s great!
Will I really be able to do this?
I’ve already answered that.
Is it worth it?
I don’t doubt it!

Thursday, October 25, 2012



I bought a bottle of rum and coke,
And regretted it
Never liked the shit, bought it for nostalgia,
Smoked up a few with fuckers I don’t like,
Because I wanted communion
There’s no joy in that shit anymore, it’s silly
Its insanity
Felt silly, felt odd, was putrid.
All the fucked up things, come flooding back in to my head,
I loved a girl,
She knows now I’m a loser. I’m happy
For her
But not for myself
That sonovabitch was rude to me on the phone,
I tried to give it back to him but failed miserably.
The conductor didn't have change and so I was the most
 Useless piece of shit
That he ever came across.
My boss wonders where my fire died,
It’s still there- I lied.
I talked to an old teacher about on old lesson,
She thinks I’m cuckoo.
Miss…would you like a kiss?
It’s not bulls & bears
Its bull shit and bearly understandable
My phone beeps, and there
Never is a fucking message for me.
Solved a problem,
That was easy… here’s another bigger one you moron!
The waiter scratched his balls,
And dipped his finger in my glass,
And at that fucking moment I felt thirsty.
Bought new shoes,
Rest of the wardrobe is 2 years old with slight malfunctions.
Sex is always on my mind,
It gets hard inside my pants
When I think of that actress with fake lips
And a beautiful bosom
Listen to sad songs
And it pulls strings in my heart
Like that girl I wrote poetry for,
Though I never loved her
My writing sucks,
This is supposed to be a poem
Where’s the rhyme you ask?
Do you even understand?
Why do I fucking bother?
My back hurts
Means I have the license to be lazy
It’ll never get better,
Nothing ever does.
The regret. The end. Period.

Author's note: Writing style inspired by Don DeLillo's Americana. Narrative is in first person and random sentences are brought together without any cohesion. Use of strong words to create powerful imagery. Designed to provoke dark humor. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Operator

It was an excellent location for a bar; main road, right adjacent to the main business district, close to the railway station and a hop away from the bus terminus. Ideal for the working man, who needed a drink after a hard day’s work and just before getting back home. Only problem was the land had been earmarked for a school.

The wise councilors of the land had allotted the property for a school around a decade ago. And I had spent the past 10 years trying to stall it. A school for slum children didn't have to come up on prime property. Many such schools could be built with tax revenues from the sale of booze.  It was prime property and had to be put to good use. A school could come up anywhere. But, for a bar, it is always about location.

When the tenders for the school had been floated I had successfully managed to keep everyone away through threats and persuasion. No one quoted and the government was forced to look for an alternative. The PWD department was involved, like I’d expected, and was brought in to do the work. Every time a structure came about the quality department would be brought in, find a major fault and order the structure to be demolished. It was my quality department.  

Then elections happened and things became a lot easier as now I was an MLA of the ruling party. I ordered an inquiry in to the cost over-runs on the school project. I raised the issue in the Vidan Sabha and demanded an explanation from the PWD Minister and the Education Minister. The project had over shot its budget by 5 times! The inquiry found serious lapses in the PWD department and the education department. A lot of transfers were ordered and I had my men put in all the important posts.

I took out a rally near the property and denounced the Government’s inability to build a simple school. On stage and in front of a thousand people I announced that my charitable trust would sponsor the project and would volunteer to oversee its completion if the Government allowed it. The Government lauded me and in a major ceremony the property was transferred to my trust.

Then a report from the education department was released where it stated that the property would no longer suffice for a school as the population around the area had increased. There was a need for a much larger property.

One of my philanthropist business friends volunteered to swap his land in the outskirts for the property.  The papers were prepared and the deal was done. I was a hero in the media as I had found solutions to all problems.

Then slowly the property was de-notified as commercial property. Work on the bar began in earnest and in 14 months we were functioning. I’m happy to say that today we run a thriving business. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

On Kudankulam

Protesters at the Kudankulam Nuclear site

The attempt of this post will be to move beyond the “Nuclear Power- Bad, Renewable Energy- Good” vitriol of the current debate.

While nuclear power does come with its risks the demand from protesters for a complete close-down of all nuclear plants is naïve.  The last 20 years have demonstrated the advantages of a booming economy on our society. Poverty has reduced, literacy levels have gone up, life-styles have improved and on most social indicators there are good improvements. But, a lot of work remains to be done and for that we will have to further improve the economy (besides other things which will be discussed). Generation of enough power will be a very important component in developing the economy and while renewable sources should be preferred there remain technical and feasibility barriers to the current technology.

The risks associated with nuclear power are well-known. Nuclear accidents and their fall-outs are well-documented. It is not easy to argue against the risks and no such attempt is being made. On the contrary every risk issue needs to be brought to the fore and a thorough understanding of the same should be mandated. But, there are 435 functioning nuclear power plants in the world today, 20 in our own country. The technology has been around for 60 years and in years to come it will only get better. The technology needs to be given a chance and should not be dismissed outright. What is needed is not risk avoidance but risk management.

Any leader in the protest movement is termed ‘a messiah’ by the media and the public. Nuclear power plants are not being built for the risks they create but for the power they will generate and the positive multiplier effects of that initiative on society. The protesters and their leaders need to come out with viable alternatives.
 If there are suitable alternatives with fewer risks then they should be pursued. If not, then we come to managing the risks associated with nuclear technology. Residents around the power plant will need to be re-located, safety and risk mitigating efforts will need to be tracked thoroughly, and continuous monitoring of radiation and other data will have to be initiated and very importantly in case of an accident- the process flow of the reaction will need to be properly prepared.

Civil society should be engaged in auditing and scrutinizing these parameters. The public needs to ensure that those being forced to move are properly compensated, that structures are in place to deal with any eventuality and most importantly that there is a functioning and prompt legal system to serve justice in case there is a need. By focusing on these civil society would be doing great service towards itself.  The social infrastructure that would be built around these initiatives will long out last any nuclear power plant and will bring about many positive consequences on society. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

The magic of Salman Khan

‘Ek tha Tiger’- was declared a hit even before it was released. How is that even possible? Possible- with Salman Khan it is possible.

I watched the movie on the day of its release and enjoyed it. Only after reading the reviews by movie critics could I find the flaws with the film. It was apparent while watching the movie- but it didn’t really matter and I hardly paid any attention.

I’m not that type usually and need my movies to be engaging. I need the script and the performances to be clever and true. But with some guys like Rajnikanth and Salman Khan these rules go for a toss.

Salman Khan could go dressed in a white sleevless vest and pink pant to a black-tie event and make everyone else look and feel ridiculous. He brings that force of personality on screen and that’s what makes him so entertaining.

Dabangg was the film that converted me. I couldn’t stand the guy before that. But Dabangg had me floored. I can’t imagine anyone else carrying the role of Chulbul Pandey with such élan and with such panache.

Whatever Salman does- he does extravagantly! There is a style and finish to everything that the man does. He understands his quirky mannerisms, and the success of the man has been in being able to make it his strength. However the most endearing part of Salman Khan has to be his confidence. He has super-human confidence in himself and that’s how he’s able to carry out the role of ‘Salman Khan’.

He is probably the only guy who could cavort with his sexy sister-in-law (Munni badnaam!), make us all enjoy it, and then very coolly at the end of the song he says- “Munni- tum jaao Munna ke pass”, in essence telling all of us- who is boss!

We all love the guy coz we all want to be the guy. He projects our alpha-male egos. That’s the aura that the man’s been able to create. That is the magic of Salman Khan. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Good Man

Manmohan Singh is a good man, caught in between a rock and a hard place. His popularity is at an all time low. He’s seen to be weak, incompetent and lacking expression. He’s being attacked from all sides from both within and outside his Govt. Mr Modi (who sees a good shot at the PM post in 2014) has been singling him out in his attacks on the Centre. But, Dr. Singh is a good man.

Dr. Singh should realize that his days as PM are numbered. He’s not likely to be the UPA’s candidate for PM in 2014. He’s what the Americans would call – ‘a lame duck Prime Minister’, waiting for the days to end and the new to come. For long he has been a pawn in the games played by Sonia Gandhi and the Congress. He has willingly submitted himself to the Gandhi family and it’s myriad politicking at the cost of his honour & reputation. I understand the compulsions, but it’s time for him to realize that an incredible opportunity is awaiting and he just has to seize it. At this point of time Dr. Singh has, if you look at it, nothing left to loose.

The Congress has been devastated after the results in the recent state elections. Rahul Gandhi is nowhere near as popular as the Congress would like us to believe. Most of the UPA’s allies, with the exception of the Trinamool, are also in bad shape. Even Mamta Banerjee needs the Centre’s support to off-set the huge budget deficit that her state is ridden with. Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, the only real PM alternative, looks set to be the next President.

Dr Singh needs to seize the initiative and do what needs to be done. We’ve seen sparks of this in the economic reforms of ’91 and the nuclear bill of ’08. We need more of the same. Dr. Singh doesn’t need to be given support. Rather he should demand it. He is an intelligent and honest man- a reputation that he has been able to maintain throughout his tenure. I’m sure he always has the nation’s best interests in mind.

Dr. Singh needs to get aggressive in these last legs of his government. If nothing else but for the legacy he will leave behind. The various economic reforms like the GST, DTC and FDI in Retail and Insurance should be put on the fast track. On the foreign policy front too he should settle the Siachen issue with Pakistan. He should improve relations with China and other BRIC nations. By just annoucing his intent on these issues in strong words he will do much to improve his current ‘paralysed’ image.

Dr. Singh has a chance to prove that he is, after all- ‘A Good Man’.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


“Mother fucker”- I said as a BMW 7 zipped past me. It’s a habit of mine. Anytime I see a great car go by I curse the driver. He deserves it- lucky SOB!

I’d decided to walk to my room, to save the 5 bucks on the bus ticket. Month end you see. There’s this fancy hotel mid-way. I stopped just in front of it and looked inside longingly. Sons of rich bitches inside would be having a blast. I was in my office attire and could pass off for a fancy executive. The dough was the only problem. Simply put- a good time like that was unaffordable.

I remember a long time ago my Daddy told me that one didn’t need money to have a good time. I decided to give that theory a shot.

I walked in and the doorman with the thick moustache greeted me and opened the door with an exaggerated gesture. I nodded my approval like any high-flying guy would do. The lobby was a fine place with antique wooden furniture and long beautiful carpets. On the walls hung paintings and at the reception counter was a very pretty girl. Behind her were clocks showing the times of New York, London, Dubai, Singapore and local time. There was also an electronic board showing the day’s currency rates. That caught my eye because of my job.

For a moment I was lost and didn’t know what to do. The rupee was 52 to the dollar. I could have done with some dollars. The girl at the counter looked at me and smiled. “Can I help you Sir?”’- she enquired.

“Ya, could you guide me to the bar.”

“Tenth floor sir. As you get out from the lift it’s on your left.”

I made my way to the lift. There was an Arab man inside already. “Asalaam Malaiykum”- I said to him as the doors closed. He looked shocked. “Arabi?”- he enquired.

“La, Hindi”- I replied. Enthused he began to try a conversation with me in Arabic. “La la la”- I said to him. My knowledge of Arabic was very limited. I remembered the numbers so I began reciting them using my fingers for impetus.

“Wahad, Itnain, Talata, Araba, Hamsa, Sitah, Sabah, Tamaniya, Tissah and…”- I left the last for him to finish.

“Ashra!”- he exclaimed and beamed in childish glee as he did so.

At that exact moment the lift reached floor ‘Ashra’. I got off the lift shaking hands with my Arab friend.

I spent the first few moments scanning the bar. It was a fine place. There was the bar counter at one corner and tables all around- all very tastefully done up. It wasn’t very crowded. There were still some empty tables around. I sat myself at a table. Almost immediately a waiter came to me with the beverage and snacks menu. I glanced through it and it was scary- the prices!

There was this very attractive girl sitting by herself at the bar counter. It took me all of ten seconds to make up my mind. I walked up the counter, close to where she was sitting. She was just finishing her drink. I called the bar-man and said- “Buddy, another round for the lady and a JD for me- ice and nothing else.”

She looked up at me.

“May I”- I said, pointing to the stool beside her.

She smiled and said- “Please do, and thanks!” She had an American accent.

“My name is K’- and I gave her my hand. “Betsy”- she replied.

“Where are you from?”- I enquired.

“Washington. And you?”

“I’m from this same place.”

“That’s nice.”

“What brings you here?”

“Oh… work.”

“And what do you do?”

“Well, I’m a trained nurse.”

“You must be getting a lot of patients!” She smiled at the compliment.

“Well I’m not practicing right now. I’m producing a movie and I’m here on a project.”

“Wow! A movie producer!” She blushed.

“How about we move to a table and order some eats?”- I suggested. She agreed. I let her order the food. She ordered prawns, chicken and a plate of French fries. That itself would cost me 10% of my salary. But it was fantastic stuff!

“And what do you do?”- she enquired.

“Well I’m in to business.”- I replied.

“What sort of?”

“Well, many things, family group. We have rubber estates, coffee estates, a paper factory and a couple of properties that we let out in the city.”

“Oh… that’s impressive.”


She was drinking slowly. I took her permission and ordered another round. The drink was fantastic. I’d never had JD before and I was enjoying it. I was drinking neat and enjoying the flavor. No wonder these whiskies are so freaking expensive.

“So are you enjoying your ‘India’ experience?”- I enquired.

“Oh yes, but it’s very hot. I need to have air conditioning all the time.”

“You’ll get used to it.”

“Yes. But it’s also very dirty. And the people seem to be lacking civic sense. The traffic, the pollution, the corruption- it’s all very annoying.”

“Ya, I know.”

“And most of all, people don’t respect time here. It’s impossible to find anyone who’s on time.” I smiled.

“I was waiting for someone and he hasn’t showed up yet!” I smiled again.

“What about you? Are you alone?”- she enquired.

“Not anymore”- I replied. She blushed.

The drink was fantastic. I ordered another one. She ordered a re-fill of her ’dry martini’.

“How long are you here for?”- I asked.

“Oh, I’m leaving tomorrow. I’m going to meet my friends in Phuket.”

“Fantastic place!”

“Been there?”

“Yes, last summer. Had a blast!”

“Oh that’s great to hear. I’m really looking forward to it!”

“I just need to refresh myself. Please excuse- me” – I said. She nodded her head.

I got out of the bar and made my way to the lift- got off at the ground floor (saying the Arabic numbers in reverse as I was going down), smiled at the pretty receptionist and gave the doorman a five buck ‘tip’. I walked the remaining way to my room.

I hope she had the money to pay the bill.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A 100 different takes!

Ladies & Gentlemen- it’s official… this is my 100th post on AJ’s take! Wooohooo!
I don’t want this post to sound like them speeches from the award shows. But, nevertheless, this is an important milestone for me. Thank you all for being part of this journey of mine.

I really don’t know why I started this blog. At that time, all those years ago, it seemed like a cool thing to do. At first I didn’t know what to write about. But, write I did. Then it came to a situation where I had too many things to write about! Nowadays, dear reader, it’s the lack of time that keeps me away from this blog. But, a new year promise to myself was to start writing more- A promise that I’ve so far managed to keep.

AJ’s take was & is meant to be my take on life and everything under the sun. This blog is me. It’s my canvas where I paint my imagination and ideas in letters for you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed what come your way so far. But do stick around because- the best, as always, is yet to come. Thank you once again. God bless!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Where are the teachers?

A few days back I came across an article in the Hindu editorials on a similar topic. The article got me thinking and hence this post. (I post only after I think- I want you to note that!)

In a society that worships degrees and qualifications it is quite surprising that the quality of teachers is quite ordinary to say the least. And, to a certain extent, this lack of quality in teaching percolates in to the quality of students we are producing each year. So despite churning out the highest number of doctors and engineers year after year what we find is that there is hardly any ‘quality’ material that is coming out.

I’m going to describe ‘quality’ as I mean it in the sentence above. By ‘quality’ I mean kids with original ideas, passion, courage, emotional intelligence and capability. I’m sorry but in most places I go to I hardly see any of the above. And the situation is only getting worse by the day.

Much has been said and written about India’s population dividend. Today most analysts argue that population is our strength and not our weakness as it was once made out to be. While the stupendous economic growth of the last few years may lead us all to believe that, there is one assumption being made that might not necessarily hold fort. As in all things in life it is not always that ‘quantity’ matters as much as ‘quality’. Unless we train ourselves to be the best we are not going to get there- simple as that.

It is not just in our educational system- society in general doesn’t give much thought to training. We are trained to ‘pick-up’ things as we go along. While learning by experience is always the best way, one often finds that a lack of proper structured training inhibits growth and productivity. If one is given some sort of training then at least one knows what to look for and how to go about it. In the current system every newbie has to re-discover the wheel and drive really fast at the same time. Most are not able to cope and remain on the fringes. This is a loss of precious man-hours and a complete waste of time, resources and productivity.

Why this lack of patience to train the next gen? Most corporates believe that training is an unnecessary expense. Only recently have Indian companies (especially IT) been taking their training seriously and spending the required time and resources. But the norm still is to get the boys on the ground hard and fast. We need to fix this mentality. Human resource should not be treated as an unlimited one.

While the counter argument could be that spending too much on training when there is such a high-level of attrition is counter- productive. This is a point. But, as we are seeing already, salaries in India are growing and maybe within the next decade salaries are going to be standardized across the globe. India is then going to lose its charm of ‘cheap labor’. It will have to differentiate itself by the quality of its manpower. This is of course equally true of companies who are right now in business only by playing the meager wage payer game.

Companies/ Organizations/ Societies of the future will have to build standards and processes. They will have to nurture and cherish talent. And to retain talent they will have to get everyone to believe in the over-all vision of the group. Those that adapt will survive, and the others will perish. As in all things it is for us to decide.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

On Marriage!

Statutory Warning: Explicit and misogynistic content.

Below is a conversation between 3 guys. Yes, I’m one of them and the other 2 will figure themselves when they read this. Basically when the 3 of us get together we talk about either ‘sex’ or ‘money’. Read on to know more.

A: Why the fuck do you have a sour face like you’ve just been raped or something?

R: Machan, nothing da.

V: Like hell nothing! Fuckin what is it?

R: Nothing re, wahi poorani shaadi ka lafda.

V: You idiot, you bloody deserve it.

R: Matlab?

V: Why do you want to self-rape yourself? No sane person will want to get married.
Why the fuck are you bringing it on yourself?

R: See, I can’t explain it to you 2 immature bastards. When your time comes you’ll understand.

V: Like hell!

A: Explain yourself whore-slut.

R: Fuck off!

V: Life ka sabse bada self-goal mar raha hai tu! There’s still time to recover. Tu ab bol… I’ll book tickets to Thailand and show you what life is about.

R: What’s there in Thailand?

V: Machan… it’s awesome… like hell!

R: Fuck off! I’m not interested in getting massages from prostitutes.

A: Machan V, there’s no hope for this boy!

V: See, I can understand it if your parents are compelling you to get married, if they’ve arranged a girl for you. At least you’re getting paid for your barbadi in the form of dowry! What use is there in going and doing love-marriage? You’re bringing barbadi on yourself muft mein!

A: Ya, I went to this wedding recently where the guy got an Audi Q5. Now- that somewhat lessens the pain of getting married.

R: I’ve never driven a car in my life… so there’s no use.

A: You’ve never fucked a woman in your life also… you still want to get married!

V: Like hell!

R: Marriage is not equal to fucking!

V: Like hell it’s not!

A: Look… I don’t care what you say… marriage is just a stamp of approval from society to go ahead and fuck.

V: Like hell!

R: Shut the fuck-up! The both of you!

A: But machan V, we to have salute R’s initiative da.

V: What machan?

A: See we generally sugar- coat the whole thing. But basically in an arranged marriage it’s your folks telling you- “Son- this is the girl you’ll have to have fuck for the rest of your life!” In a love- marriage you’re telling your folks- “Mom, Dad- this is the girl I’m going to fuck for the rest of my life.” Our boy R’s taken the initiative machan!

V: Like hell!

R: Fuck off!