Thursday, May 15, 2014

the trans-atlantic adventure

                                                                       chapter 1

"Humse na ulajh ae zaalim, hamne har haal mein jeene ki kasam khayi hai, tera nadaan guroor na tujhe wahan le jayee ke jahan uski maut aaye hai", spelled the placard hanging above the desk of Musa Sheikh. The script on display was that of Urdu which was a derivation from Persian and Arabic. After trying in vain to resist the urge, John gave in and asked Musa: "So what does it mean the truism hanging over your head?".  The Sheikh moved his neck with a visible strain on it and also the girth of his abdomen, although he did not particularly need to as he remembered every word of it. Just to absorb the essence, John thought. Well  Mr John Baker, it is the essence of patience and renunciation. "How so?", John got more interested and inquisitive. "You have a keen interest and an innate curiosity", the Sheikh professed. "Ah you should meet my friend someday", shuddered John. "But the truism now", he completed his sentence. "Ok let me put it this way, have you watched Jack Reacher the movie. There is an instance in it where Reacher talks about a blind spot.", John's nod grew in amplitude as the dialogue progresses clearly hitting the spot in the feature film where the conversation had occurred. How could he not. This was the stuff that he lived by. And he really grasped the essence of the writing as well. Reacher had spoken about the run to the finish line. His station in life was that of a man with nothing to loose and ample skill. And ample intent to add to it. And his MO was the striking of the lightning when it was least expected. His disposition was to avoid confrontation but his dint was to outwit and out-race the adversary. He was ready to go to any length of time and rationale in a fight. And it was always going to be a losing battle for his opponent. He was in a way the destiny's instrument to bring the uncouth and arrogant aggressor to justice. And he believed in saving the mean-ness for the end. "A arrow once shot should hit the target and should need to fire just one for one." There was little more that the Sheikh explained to John on that one. "The real satisfaction in revenge is when you see fear, helplessness, worthlessness, weakness sans repentance in the eye of the perpetrator of the injustice when you brutally bring him to closure.", concluded the Sheikh. The passion and intensity that had lit the countenance of the otherwise dull Sheikh was an added confirmation to John that there was more to his story than was known to the gentry in the inner circles of San Francisco. "You make no attempt to conceal your deeply sinister vengeful thoughts," John could not help remark. "It is the wisdom and the burden at the same time Mr Baker, presses you with the melancholy but lifts you with its own freedom. Only if you have taken the hard yards that is. But remember, there needs to be the disguise of the fixed smile before the moment arrives.", the Sheikh retorted seemingly regaining his poise. After an extended second of awkwardness, John smiled and bid adieu eventually.
                                             "A conversation after his own heart. He would definitely find the Sheikh intriguing. Only that he would have a more balanced outlook and not be swayed by passion. He would rather synthesize something out of it for a more constructive result. But he would understand the sinister side of things nevertheless. I wonder how their conversation would flow if they ever met. Anyhow, I would make it a point to mention this rendezvous with him tonight.", thought Baker to himself. If it was bizarre that he had been reminded of his friend as he moved out of the house of the Sheikh, it was only to the uninitiated. That was because the only man there could be to grasp the essence of the Sheikh's utterances through experience and then add some to it, it had to be John Baker's flatmate and somewhat kindred spirit of Patrick Witnewash. The pragmatic side of John had successfully prevented him from wasting any time on deliberating whether what characterized his and Witnewash's relationship was friendship in the conventional sense. But he knew that their thinking patterns were similar. They saw sense in the same stuff and the world made sense to them through each other's understanding. Of-course that was when Witnewash stooped to John's level of consciousness or that of the mundane world. John was closest to someone who understood the functioning of his brilliantly gifted mind.  And also his eccentricities. He just grasped how the wiring worked and was able to actually marvel at it. And he thought the mundane world was the poorer for not deciphering that. Or he pitied the mundane world for it.

menagerie

                                                                            chapter 2

         The muzzled sounds of the fast pressing of the keys was interrupted only by the sharp loaded? sound of the "enter" key. He had always been one for a little bit of histrionics albeit much subtle. And he felt really charged at that point and hence every line of code that his being churned out was meted with a victorious thump of a key stroke. He knew the importance of each line's code. This was "functional" programming at its best and at the cutting edge. It was different from the mundane world of the PHPs and the Javas that ruled the regular programming world. It is so 90s he thought once in a while. He liked Scala and NodeJS. He liked the philosophy of it. Every line of code keyd-in punched in a lot more of essence and made him feel erudite and even creative sometimes. How many programmers could claim that he thought. But again, it was not about coding anymore he thought. He had conquered the crazy world of geeks and nerds way back in high-school with all the hack-athons, p2p products that attracted users like a charm and ruling the IRC discussions of the geekiest kind. Part of his migrating to Europe from the flash of the life at the valley was his appreciation of the open source community towards the development of the programming IP. While the world relied on awesome products that were churned out in huge numbers from the garages or makeshift offices of the silicon valley entrepreneur or heck even NYC now, the real power that propelled them was with the technology stack he thought. And Europe fared much better in that regard. At least that was the impression he had from his time at the IRC. And he would give up on the dusty swathes of California any-day for the verdant scape of the trans-Atlantic continent. So he migrated to France to begin with and morphed into a pan-Europe being of some sort. His current "hideout" was amid the sharp backdrop of Eastern Europe.
             But he was not thinking programming at all now. He had done that long back and now it served as a means to an end. He had had enough of the "wow" moments in his life as a geek to have felt it grow banal. It was then that he had decided that he needed to influence and touch the lives of people more than anything else if he had to garner any sense of lasting achievement and professional happiness. The money that he would make in the process if he did would be an added incentive. He would bother about that only when he got it. He did not get inspired by the thoughts of accumulating bundles of cash. That for him was mundane and boring. The only thing that you would achieve with that was "Show-off" and manipulation at the hands of the "consumer economy" which was an idea he loathed with passion. He knew the import of financial independence but he had a lifetime left to achieve that. This was the period of his youthfulness. Well relatively speaking. This was the time for madness and energy. This was the time to form original ideas, be a rebel of sorts, have a spirit and form lasting memories of life. This was the time to feel the "LIFE" in his being. If the times spent at the IRC channel more than a decade back could satisfy him and lift up his spirits still, the more meaningful endeavor he had set on now should get him through the life on the satisfaction quotient he argued. The only thing that would be left would be health-care and a roof for his old-age he thought. A family would fit in somewhere as well if the fate intervened.
                                 And if at all he got overwhelmed with the world of computing someday, he could very well teach medieval history to pupils back in the United States. He had acquired a first hand knowledge of the facts from history by visiting those sites and had developed a passion for the same. He could feel the story of humankind unfold in his vision post the "Dark Ages" in continental Europe. He always thanked his gut for that whenever he had a chance. His well-wishers had posed all kinds of questions on his move. Even the ones who did not have a clue of their own lives. But many had appreciated his plan. Water under the bridge he thought now. A lot of his friends had made trips across the Atlantic and stayed with him through the years. It had started to feel intrusive sometimes of-late but he knew that was  not the correct way to think about them. A bit of the "yank" flavor every now and then was just so good he mused. It was also a good reminder to him that he was to being with, always an American at heart. For all the accusation of materialism? and consumerism, leading a self gratifying life and caring less for the environment, he knew there was a deeper spirit at work in the regular American. It was the spirit of honest inquiry in life. If the philosophers of yonder in Greece had spent lifetimes understanding the mind and the greater questions that beset life, the thought leaders in America were doing a similar job through action. They seem earnest enough.
And who in the world did not like the American Cheese Burger. The fact of the matter was that Michael had it all in him to make or do something that could shape the lives of people around him or even beyond. And he tried very hard to achieve that. And while he was pondering all of that, opened the door and in came Wayne. Wayne had been a very calming influence on Mike. He could be the United Nations symbol for chaos.
               "Hey mate (yes he was an Aussie), looks like you could do with some food and I brought you the Pizza", murmured Wayne in his strong voice quickly. The swiftness in his being from his walking speed to speech gave a hint to the onlooker of his being an Aussie. And the love for beer confirmed that. And his fluent English in that part of the world was what had made Mike's choice for a roommate easy.? "Ah, ya I was kinda starving really. Been up all night. And Ii survived on Coffee through it", explained the very American Michael Riviera. "But looks like you ordered a truckload for your party and could not gobble it up. Giants like yourself."? Wayne was a member of the local Rugby team and looked the part. And they had had a party the previous night celebrating their victory over the local rival team. "yea, but its very eatable still. Ill put it in the oven. This is a fresh box and untouched," claimed Wayne. "Oh no no no worries, I'd do it myself," exclaimed Mike jumping out of his chair. He had anyway done enough work in the past 12 hours to take an entire day off from work. "Thanks a ton mate. I cant go on without fuel and some distraction now as I used to back then,", reminisced Mike while he headed for the adjoining kitchen. How correct he was in saying that. There was a time back in the day when he could go on coding for days together with little else than short naps and some chips to go along with. He was more like a machine then. Now his brain had allowed compartments to develop inside of it with interfered with his thinking and yearned for acknowledgement from his being. Hence it was not possible for him now to sit inside of the same room doing the same stuff for more than say a stretch of twelve or fifteen hour. Obviously that was beyond the cognizance of Wayne still but he was relieved that he did not encounter the earlier avatar lest he may die of amazement and embarrassment of his own more mortal concentration powers. Concentration  of-course not relating to anything that is done indoors or more particularly while sitting on a desk. They were worlds apart in most of the sense but that worked out perfectly for them. And they were less self centered than average and it suited their goals in life to have a flatmate of that kind. It was not incorrect to say that they actually enjoyed each other's company more than the average guy they met.And they both were there for some purpose.




                                                                           Chapter 3


His balance never ceases to amaze me", quipped Vaishnavi. Although he seems to hide one part of it well within himself. Jahanvi instantly knew who it was that he brilliant roommate was talking about. As a matter of fact, it was the noe popular character of Benedict Cumerbachs' Sherlock Holmes from the popular BBC TV series. That someone could be as inspired by a fictional character was beyond her cognition. But again such fiction was mostly inspired by real life, she thought to herself and retorted mischievously "like it were real". Oh you dont know replied V instantly. The original from sir Doyle was inspired by a man he knew from his days in medicine. Infact Doyle himself had a pretty distinguished career from being a army man who served in SF in the Boer Wars to a great writer and a first class cricketer and everything in between. Adding to all that she said "and you know he even had one of the funniest dismissals as a batsman you would imagine in first class cricket". google it. so this was the somewhat nerdy but cloyingly charming roommate Jahanvi had who she adored like a sister really. Part of how she felt a surge of gratitude towards Vaishnavi as she had helped her so much in their previous three years together as roommates. "By the way, what is the other side he has so adeptly hidden according to you" she tried to part fake her enthusiasm while also being a little interested " you know how he always tries to sell the idea that he was heartless and emotionless. Like when he told this Moriarty fellow that on the pool side" and the two friends chuckled.



Thousands of miles away from the duo lay John fixing his gaze into the azure sky on the beautiful California shore. Life could not be any better thought the tech geek from Sydney. He had just sold an internet startup for a cool 5 million - not a killing by the valley standards - but hey, he could have gone bankrupt by a quirk of fate. So he the one who liked to play it safe in real life. Poker was different he thought. Every now and then, the thought that one of the most known and now admired tech entrepreneurs who was now a multi billionaire had actually discarded offers of buyout from Microsoft tried to throw him into confusion but he managed to be distracted from them most of the time. "he lived life "in the moment" and did not plan it. That he was one of the best "scala"/node-JS programmers in the world did not harm him much either. He could lead life on his own terms. To add to it, no one could ever blame him of being lazy. Unlike now, when the cool pacific breeze had seemed to cast a spell on him. "You know the ocean has a way of relaxing your mind", he philosophized with his mentor and friend David who lay in the adjoining mattress seemingly relaxed with his ray-ban limited edition on. "That is not exactly news to me mate", he sounded bored as he answered back. Yes, both of them were from Sydney, Australia. "Yea, that is not the point", John retorted. "The thing is why that is so". "Hmm I guess it makes the numerous thoughts inside of the mind get lost into the sound", David bemused. "Should be",  chuckled J sipping his tropicana. Ever since the duo had sold a company they started with a sheer chance happening, their lives had turned around. They were career geeks, nerds if you may, in some scenarios. They were very good in what they did. However, they had not been astonishingly successful in the first 30 years of their lives. They were the quintessential underachievers. They were good programmers who had CS degrees from the prestigious university in the Bay area of California state. In-fact, that is where they had met when John was guided by David in his pursuit of becoming the most loved to hated hacker in the campus. They hit it off from the word go. Not because they were geeks. Everyone around was.  But because both embodied the Aussie spirit to the tee. They loved the rules football and swore by Ricky Ponting, the best ever cricketer according to them. Well, they knew that was not quite true. But hey who cared for facts. Only the fact that they had Tropicana cans with them rather than Foster's could throw an onlooker into any kind of suspicion of their being Aussies. They had their own reasons to avoid alcohol. David had a liver condition that precluded him from consuming any amount of liquor. Infact, it could go malignant if he neglected his body his body had warned him. And he definitely wanted to live a long span. So he parted ways with alcohol one fine day. John on the other hand, did not want to be dependent on "substance" for a high in his life. He only had a tipple in say a business meeting or when it was absolutely critical. Quirky as it sounded to many, it instilled a certain discipline into his psyche which had part helped him in his success. He had slogged hard and with a single minded devotion in the previous three years to reach the point he was at and he valued it much. And he knew how much he had David to thank for it. David was the businessman to John's creative pursuits. David met the investors while John motivated the team and marketed his next generation wearable device to the junta. They were the perfect co-founders. And it was this very useful thought that had anchored in his mind when his cell rang. It was an unknown number from what looked like NYC to him.


"Hello", John answered the phone in a somewhat professional manner unrepresentative of the sanguine mood he actually found himself into be. "Hey, can I peak to John Bracken; and this is Aaron Smith from Barnes securities and investment management from NYC". "You got me on this side, please tell me what I could do for you", said John. "Hi John, nice to be talking to you. Infact, my senior here in lower Manhattan would like to talk to you later in the day if that would be fine with you. It is a call regarding a business proposal we have for you that can be pretty lucrative for you," declared Bracken. It was a little unexpected for John to get a call from an investor of some kind and that too from the hallowed and tricky turf of New York city, Wall Street even he thought. What could they be talking about, he thought while asking for more elaboration on the subject to Aaron. "Well, we are a boutique investment bank operating from Manh and we have launched a program to fund fledgling companies like yourselves in the times to come", clarified Aaron. "But you are not exactly a VC fund or a PE house, so why bother with the internet and like", John queried even as he knew the answer in part. It was the next big innovation that the Wall Street smarties had thought of that Aaron presumed was being spoke about at that moment in time. With the success of tech-IPOs over the previous decade, it had become the latest strategy of these funds to catch them young. The idea was simple. Once a company became big enough to be caught in the PE/VC net, it was the seasoned investors that ran the show. That meant that if the company or the associated management ever ventured for an IPO, it was always going to be one of the largest wall street banks that would run the show vis-a-vis an IPO like it had always been. The best these boutique shops would get was a chance to be a co-book-runner of some kind. But the guys who thought themselves to be smart enough thought they ought to get a better share in the world of innovation that the high-tech industry was. So they strategised to catch the good ones young in hopes that some would go for an IPO or even one could go for an IPO and that meant huge brokerage fee in the least and potentially the chance to stage a huge IPO that would help them propel into the scene across the board. And that was what was explained to John by Aaron eventually. "Aaron, I understand what you are talking about, but I would need to discuss it with my people here.", he spoke in a more relaxed manner now with the amusement of a somewhat seasoned entrepreneur . He had had such calls before and this was special as it was from the distant land of NYC. "No problem there my friend," Aaron tried to play it cool along the supposedly easy going tech circle gallery lines. It had the desired effect. "OK then, I'd get back to you mate," answered John and somewhat hurriedly disconnected the call. What had just happened got him thinking.
 How in the good world did a banker from far-off NYC get to contact him when he had all but started his new venture. And this one was not even in one of the big boom areas of the future as the market predicted like the medical wearable devices. Or the automated agent arena which was the talk of the town. But it felt good to be recognized for his achievement nevertheless he thought. But the doer in him got all excited at that point and he discussed the whole thing with his minority stake-partner David. And in a flash, he was also on to his laptop researching about this boutique i-bank from the Wall street. And he figured out that it was actually a London based firm which also had a major WS presence.  "So it is the POMs who are looking for me," he grinned at David showing him the screen. David glanced at the screen and retorted in a friendly tone, "Looking for us Oz folks rather mate". And they both knew what they were talking about.


"How did the call go Smith,", inquired Alan Jacques. "Well not much of a call this yet,", answered Aaron. "I hope they would call back sometime in the evening although," Aaron tried to sound more optimistic than average. " They better do that quickly," retorted Jacques angrily. He was not in the best of humor that day. To be fair, he was not most of the time anyway. It was an irony that he was the head of a division that warranted as much interaction with the outside world as the investment management division did. He sometimes gave an impression to be disinterested even. But probably that was exactly why he was as effective as he was as well. He was very good at the table of negotiations. He was a salesman who seemed more like a buyer. Did that always trick his clients into believing that they could loose out on a very lucrative deal. Was that art that he had mastered the secret sauce behind his lucrative career in Wall Street salesmanship. Those were the kind of thoughts that grappled Smith's mind while he was around Jacques. He had even admitted to being in awe of his boss among his friends sometimes even as he had joined the firm recently. " That guy reminds me of Lipperman, only angrier," he said in reference to a brilliant salesman they had read about in one of the bestsellers around the life at Wall Street. Aaron always had showed great commitment to work himself and that had led to a pretty successful career for him. " meanwhile, Ii would try to finalize the ppt for the investors from Berlin," he tried to divert the attention of Jacques. "Yeah, whatever with that", said Jacques making his irreverence for that part clear instantly. Assuming the conversation as over, Smith trudged out of the cabin. He did not mind the sudden lapse in attention from his boss as he knew the pressure that he faced that week and knew that it was not a personal assault by any means. As he walked out of the cabin, he reflected on his station in life then. There was every reason to believe that he had arrived. Having spent his childhood in a remote Texas town. He had a well paid job, a cabin and a Chauffeur driven ride. He spoke to the whos-who of the western business world and was many a times privy to much sensitive information that moved the market. With all that and a plush flat in a post district of the city, he could justify all the rigors of  life of a professional in high finance in the Wall Street. The long hours he sped inside Italian made suits and the dreaded power point presentations that had stopped making sense a while back all seemed justified when he saw the smile on the faces of his two kids. There was more a addiction to power that drove the average guy in the street alright than a genuine feel for finesse but he had adjusted to such practicalities a long while back. And his family provided the much needed balance to him afterall. So he had every reason to be perfectly satisfied and even cheerful he thought.     




"Hello John and Dave in SF. This is Aaron facilitating the call from the NY office of --------. I have with me Mr Alan Jacques who is the head of the investment management arm, Mr Tim Ranker, our sales manager for the Asia Pacific markets and Sachin Ganguly from the research division. We know that this meeting is regarding an investment proposal into your new company in the networking arena and we welcome you aboard for it," briefed Aaron pretty straightforwardly.
 " Thanks Aaron and it is a pleasure for me and John here to be talking to you guys from NYC. I also have with me Mrs Nancy Lisbon who is a co-investor and helps us in pretty much everything we do as far as advisory goes. Now over to you to let us start the proceedings,", Dave concluded abruptly. "Sure thanks Dave and if I may give you a heads up on the things here. We have looked into the performance of your internet portal and the app and we like what we have seen there. It looks primed for success if handled nicely and this is where we think we can be more than a shot in the arm for you as sophisticated investors who can help you pull through the cycle of it," suggested Aaron in a more businesslike tenor.
  " I am glad you liked our work Aaron and I agree with you there that we have a good thing at our hands here. You know it has really been fantastic even. So we would like to do the good work continued. And we would be interested to know as to how exactly we would need your guidance and help if I may ask," asked Dave suggesting that they meant business as well. So here was the game set for the two parties. The proverbial Dollar sharks at one end and the creative clients to be at the other tried to keep their respective leverage intact and at the same time tried to assess the position of the other side.
     "Very well gentlemen and the fine lady out there. This may be a little bit involved for a conference call  but I will try here as best as I can on this introductory call," stated Aaron while getting into the sales groove. "Look, you could get an investment for this thing from a lot of quarters and we are not even getting into the valuation and stuff here. We like to take the convertible note route anyway. In-fact, I would be surprised if you may not have already heard from a couple of VCs already. But hey, we are not just a VC firm with money to offer. We infact are a full-fledged Wall Street bank knocking at your doorstep," Aaron pressed the histrionics a little bit. You imagine how often that happens. We are looking at the big picture that ends into the mother of all investment deals - a big Wall Street IPO. And that is where you guys want us in. You may have sold a neat company in the past But you need more than just good entrepreneurship for an IPO. And believe me, you may be sitting on a goldmine here. This thing has an IPO potential. You need contacts, mentorship, market timing and you need a marketing blitz at another level. And that is what we specialize in. Like here and now you know. So what do you think," asked Aaron after pressing the gas for a sharp sales pitch. But Dave was more than prepared with a quick response himself.
     "Thanks Aaron for the update there. But in my opinion, you missed a thing about VCs there. They got contacts as well mate and they got the kind of contacts, skill and advise that make the difference for a tech startup. Enough to make them good to go for an IPO in the first place. So you know, one just does not need the money and IPO muscle. The skills that the investors bring if I may say are equally important. They need to bring the right kind of people on the board and the guy who could head our marketing division once the company starts to scale up. So I wonder as to what could justify your thinking that a good VC is doable without at such a crucial juncture in our journey if I may say so.", concluded Dave half knowing the answer.
            " So I think we are getting somewhere now. We do not want you guys to loose out on anything. How would you reach an IPO stage otherwise really I must wonder. So hey, we have got with us here industry veterans who have seen it all in the tech circles. People who saw the dot com boom from a mile away and then bust firsthand back in the day. I am sure you guys would appreciate that kind of a pedigree. People who sat on the table with the founders of the p2p phenomenon and then the web2 pioneers. and everything in between and beyond really. So when  I say you need to be assured you would not loose out on anything in bargain, you could take my good word for it.", Aaron seemed in full flow.
   That was how the call continued for the next few minutes and then a tone was set for further discussions that seemed much certain to happen given the business opportunities for both the parties that lay ahead. Afterall, both the companies relied on innovation to survive in their respective fields. Product market was tough game. It was decided that they needed to meet face to face at a later point for a more involved discussion or assessment so to say. The meeting had served the purpose of getting the main stakeholders to acquaint with each other and assess their counter-parties' position as best as they could. At least both the parties felt that they had played their respective cards pretty well and had kept their cards close to their chest.
    " I think they want us to be thankful already," remarked John with unusual sarcasm. Wall Street folks had a different appeal definitely. " They have a point I think after-all. It is a good opportunity to work with NY bankers.,"declared Nancy with a usual quietude. Well I see that you guys are pretty balanced at the opposite ends of the spectrum. And that is a good thing to have. We need to be smart and even circumspect. This is early stage investment we are talking about and it is tricky business as so much of the things are in future.," Dave summed. " I think we all made all the right noises. So far so good.," muttered John. "You dont like unsolicited advice, do you?", patted Dave on John's back as they moved out of the conference hall laughing.



                                                                         Chapter 4

        The wallpaper at the back of the study had always amazed John with its mysterious symbols and a coiled serpent residing at the base of it. It was one of the many indulgences that his friend possessed to stimulate his ever alert and charged mind. It was some mystical philosophy from the east. Beside it lay the portrait of the deity of the Hare Krishna temple that had grown many chapters in the United States over the decades. To the untrained eye, the setting may have indicated the presence of a scholar of theology even if they were not able to see the Torah and the Old testament peeping out from the far-left shelf among many other scriptural texts that occupied that shelf amid a plethora of books in the room. But, comparative religion and spirituality and then synthesis from the same was just one of the many interests of his friend. He tend to gobble up any piece of "natural" knowledge that he liked to call it that he could lay his hands on. Thus anything related to geography, history, physics, medieval art, victorian sports, astronomy, astrology and a host of other topics could easily find way into his study provided it was sufficiently thought provoking and promised to stimulate the neurons of the occupant of the study. John had wondered many a times how so much volume of information did not run a riot of its own inside his brains.
                                                              But at that moment he just waited with a mix of anticipation and boredom for his friend and flatmate to acknowledge his presence in the room. For someone who did not understand the setting, it would have come across as rude on his part to not engage with someone sitting on the other side of the table while Witnewash browsed through the pages on his screen seemingly oblivious of the trivial details of the mundane existence. But John knew better. "I pity the poor economist," opined the somewhat stoical voice of Witnewash while his gaze was still fixed on the screen. "The macroeconomist in this case.," he completed his sentence. "What has fallen upon him as you say it," John tried to generate some interest in the conversation in hope of further engagement. "Ah, it is the honest spirit of contribution purely in work in this case. But his doubts that I decipher between the lines are unfounded," declared the grinning countenance as he turned his torso now to face John finally. "Am I supposed to understand any of it," John inquired more matter of factly than ever. "That depends on whether you are interested in anything of real import outside your banal practicalities," replied Witnewash with an equal fervor. "And what if I did," John now appealed to know more without getting any further into the verbal charade. "Well, the lot of the Economists is a particularly interesting case. Please make no mistake as I identify a lot with their line of thinking and respect the work they do. However, almost all of them are beset with a deep sense of doubt and even mistrust regarding their own profession of years. They secretly question as to whether the work they do with so much fervor and ado is actually as meritorious in the real world. Of-course, it is a question beyond the grasp of a mojority of them even if they are discerning enough to raise the question in the first place. But let me clarify once and for all to you that their doubts are dumbfounded and people like John Maynard Keynes did not se on a wild goose's chase through their lives. But, yes this discipline is wrought with enough impostors as well to cast a spell of doubt on the profession in certain situations. But a practitioner who really devotes his time and thought towards the understandings of the complex market driven world which by the way is much easier today with the advent of the internet, is sure to stumble upon an axiom or two to find the beautiful patterns that lay covertly beneath the more mundane functionings of the markets. It was afterall a simple idea of unemployment versus production capabilities that drove the foundations of the most quoted macroeconomic theory of the last decade. That was the time of the great depression anyway. But let me not trouble you with a topic you clearly are not much energized by. What it is infact that you wish to tell me with so much eagerness anyhow," inquired Witnewash. That he had deciphered that John had wanted to discuss something peculiar with him had no more amazed John as such deductions formed a more trivial part around Witnewash. He would have arrived at it somehow he thought.
               Then John explained to him about his meeting with the Sheikh with some enthusiasm. "The real question here is whether or not vengeance leads to a gratification in the mind of the avenger. My experience and insight point to a place which states that the plan needs to be a little more elaborate than a crude extraction of revenge by the one going for it. It is really a matter of sealing an argument in essence between the parties. Noone feels really gratified after killing another being in truth. Even the greatest adversaries depicted in the great Greak action drama shared a dinner on the eve of the war and wept together. The truth is, the soul really yearns for friendship and is confused to exact vengeance. It is not a wise man's work." concluded the masterful Witnewash. John grasped a little bit of what had been said and was fairly satisfied with the response. Discussions with Witnewash were never bereft of substance after-all.




                                                                           Chapter 5

"Have you ever wondered as to why the mission of St Peter took 350 years of lull before unleashing itself on the world, the western civilization in particular." urged W staring fixedly at Baker. "I presume you are talking about the impetus that the king Constantine gave to the spread of Christianity as documented in the ancient text. Now that you have brought that to my notice, it is intriguing to think that the message survived 350 years of persecution and relative anonymity before it took over the unsuspecting world by storm. And as a devout catholic I like to think of the hand of providence in it. That is reaffirming to me if anything." explained Bracken. "Excellent my dear, you have a keen sense of significance there I must point out. The matters of faith are always tricky and one is looking for some suggestion at a much broader scale to make affirmations. Take the example of a flower for instance. I have read it somewhere but it has stuck in my mind. If you believe the universe as a mere chance occurrence and you believe in the functionality of things, that is every thing created by such a chance has some significance and a function to exist, the existence of flowers amazes me. Now I do not think the honey that we consume as a product from those constitutes as a reasonable reason for them to exist as we do not necessarily associate the flowers with honey straightaway. So for a creator to have created flowers for the garnishing of the landscape and the soothing of the senses in the most sublime fashion indicates to me mercy and care. And it corroborates a lot that is said about the force and not easily demonstrated in the ways of the world. Then you just need to inquire about the relative injustice of suffering and stratification in the world and for which  I must tell you nothing explains than the law of Karma.
Now if I have bored you with my dabbling in the realms of theology then accept my apologies but I do not think you dislike such arguments. But I agree that a pragmatic man of action as yourself needs more experiencing than reasoning to get interested in such matters. But for that you must travel to the scarcely inhabited jungles of the Himalayas than the concrete ones here in NYC. In any case, I intend to broach the subject matter of a most extraordinary nature here and I hope my little warm up exercise has upped the ante for you.," concluded Witnewash. "In a manner of speaking yes it has. What is that has elicited your interest now after an extended period of relative apathy towards the functionings of the mundane world," Baker said smiling. "You do no fair job there Baker in calling me disinterested in the worldly affairs. Infact, I keep a tightest vigil over the most important matters and let the mundane ones pass. But you know that very well. Now this one relates to the backbone of the functioning of the modern world so to say. After energy and communication, as you have rightly thought in your mind, it comes down to the subject of modern Finance.
And what better place could it be to discuss it than in the middle of the New York City, in whose spirit the current Financial world has moulded its soul. So much so that the London banker now almost looks rudimentary. I must warn you that they may have created their own Frankenstein or Bhasmasura if you will, there.," W boasted there a little bit that amused Baker more than it annoyed him as usual. "So what is it with the boastful bankers now," asked B. "Well, to be fair, it is not really the majority of them who have the blame for this on them. But that is always the case is there not. There are a few first perpetrators in a wrongdoing before it takes the masses along. This time round, it is the pure greed and deceit on display. But then I suspect there is something more sinister here we are dealing with going by the pieces of the puzzle. But I am in no hurry to make final assertions even if I may be tempted in a direction or so. At the least, we have the case of a fraud hidden in the garb of competitiveness in evidence here. At least that is what the authorities who have summoned our service have come to believe." concluded W. "But that could not get you as much excited as you seem to me," said B knowing fully that it was what W had intended to hear from him to further the line of reasoning. "As a sharp adjudicator of human nature, you should have concluded nothing less," exclaimed Witnewash making Baker a little uneasy on the sudden praise. "But as I said, I would like to not commit myself to one line of reasoning or another till we still have time. So let us get ready to get to the headquarters of the concerned authority before it is too late to get going in this traffic. I am trying to get into a habit of meeting the clients at their premises every now and then so we do not get rusty in our feet. Besides, little gestures of courtesy like these go a long way in today's world. You would agree with me there.," urged Witnewash hurriedly for Baker to get dressed up as soon as he could. "Well, you took your fair share of time to come to that learning is all I can say about that gesture of yours," Baker was never shy of a barb when it was due.





                                                                         Chapter 6

"So what do you think of Love," was as blunt a question as he had asked Mike ever. And he even seemed to be trivializing it a little bit which Michael did not take very well. "What do you mean man all of a sudden shooting that heavy stuff at me and still eating your slice of pizza as you speak. You want a serious answer or just taking it easy there," Mike retorted a little bit defensively clearly. "Oh mate, dont go by my manners. I am as serious as I ever would be. What do you make out of it. Is it for real," the burly rugby player seemed sincere enough for Mike to get into his gear. "Well I read it somewhere and I quote : The machinery of life and the various duties therein could be effectively discharged only when there is a ample portion of the grease of love smoothing the various parts. And I think that is the correct functional representation of love. Now if you ask me the question with the emotional and sentimental reigns off, it is the great mystery itself. And the most potent weapon in the world. Can you otherwise explain the droplet of tear in a mother's eye when she holds her stillborn in her arms or the lightness of heart however ephemeral it may be that a person feels in the companionship of their new-found love. It is as surreal as it gets dude. And if you ask me the really concise version of it Id say to you it is pretty cool and worth the place in the world.," articulated Mike. "Man you got some kind of a PhD in these things or what? I thought you were a computer geek," murmered a perplexed H in his hoarse voice. "Well to be honest I am just reiterating what my dear mom told me years back when I asked her a similar question. I just am an impostor paying lip-service to her profound ideas. But to be fair, it is a damn good explanation at all levels as you agree. Anyhow I am today kind of busy sorry to say that and now you should help me out and deal with the land-lady yourself when she arrives to collect the rent. Who could believe that there is a person who does not like wire transfers in this day and age.," exclaimed Mike. "Why you got some work today? I mean work where you need to go out of the apartment," inquired a seemingly lethargic H. "Yes, I have to go out to meet some clients. Maybe I even get a little late in my return," concluded Mike. "OK I will take care of it," continued H.
                                   It was a job too much to ask for that H could have noted a pattern in his roommate's monthly or sometimes even fortnightly meetings with clients that had started over the past few months. More so when Mike had been mostly dealing with his clients online before that. But H knew he was no academic person or even a mild businessman to question the proceedings of the world beyond his sporting life. He just never entertained such thoughts. But to the keen eye, something could have occurred.
                                   Within just a few minutes, Mike had put on his bag and hurried towards his car to hit the road as fast as he could. He knew that the things had been a little edgy that week and he needed to convince the men in black suits that he was up to the task. How could he not be. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. And he had been doing fairly well all the while. It was a mix of patriotism, adventure, intelligence and mission that were driving him through that task and he was not going to let indecisiveness dictate terms. It was like destiny had finally caught up with his monotonous living and he could showcase his worth now. All the years of hardwork and craziness were finally yielding into something beautiful and he was grateful for that. He just needed to press on the gas both literally at that minute and figuratively so he could serve his motherland and as he was told also the wider humankind then. And then he lost his train of thoughts to traffic.
                                      The lift seemed to take longer than usual to ascend to the 7th floor of the hotel. He arrived with a large suitcase and wore some makeup and facial jewelry to get a change in appearance. Michael had booked the room just facing the one where his friends from the United States stayed. That was the only room available on the seventh floor. He somehow managed to get it without eliciting any suspicions.
As he walked past the gallery, a potpourri of thoughts and emotions surged through his brain. He had had an appetite for adventure in his life always, but this was beyond just that. It bordered on crazy and he did not know if we was well equipped for the job he had signed for. The delays in deliverable that had set in accentuated his suspicions about his suitability for the task. What would the guys in the suits be thinking. With all those thoughts still doing the rounds inside his head, he leapt into his room and shut the door. He was supposed to stay the night in that room and by the look of things, he could even manage a week he thought. It was just fine for a change from his cramped living room and he always had had a thing for room-service in luxury hotels. But his time that day was not like that of a laid-back vacationer and in-fact it was quite the opposite. He even felt a little bit of moisture on his palms. This was a pretty rare occurrence for him. It happened only on days like the finals of the national puzzle competition or the mega-hack events. And that was when he was a teenager. He could not recall any other instance thereafter. He was undoubtedly nervous, his outwardly manners notwithstanding. There was no sign of any rendezvous at hand so he decided to relax a little bit by watching the telly. He leapt into the mattress and switched on the soccer channel. He needed to compartmentalize he thought if he were to come up a winner on the other side of his challenge. And sweaty palms were no sign of a person who was up to the task in that sense. He thought that he needed to learn the trade as he had not been formally trained and it was all normal to go through the plethora of emotions. This was after-all his first assignment. And as it were, it happened in a foreign country. He could not be faring too bad he concluded and lost his mind into the telly. He did manage to pass the evening on his own and without much thinking on his part about the assignment. He felt he had calmed his nerve as the time progressed. But there still had been no contact yet. It was never going to be easy. The two parties had to evade any prying eyes that may be there and not even get into the CCTV cameras doing any business together. And they had devised a plan for the same. If everything went according to the plan, he would hear from his comrades at sharp 8 pm. Actually meet them then. Though no-one suspected of any wrongdoing, still the agency had been taking the standard measures to avoid any suspicions. And the huge IMF conference the city was hosting through the week presented the perfect cover for a few American men habnobing in hotel lobbies and restaurants. So he was supposed to check-in at the Mexican restaurant in the eastern wing of the hotel and just walk up to the buffet table. The wig that he wore and the geeky glasses to add to it made it difficult for him to identify with the guy in the mirror at once. So he was pretty sure that it was going to be ok anyhow. As he entered the hall, he noticed this comrades from the corner of his eye and relaxed a bit then. His nerves seemed to give way to an adrenalin rush and he just got a sense of why he had chosen the assignment in the first place. It was pure fun and something that made him feel significant. They were supposed to make friends at the dinner table and continue with their pally chit-chat into their rooms over some fine wine and chips. And that is when Mike was supposed to brief the "intelligence guys" about the progress he had made in the case. It was not very difficult after-all he thought.



                                             

                                                                       Chapter 7

"Do you know what are the two professions in the world that decide the fate of humanity more than anything else in the modern world that is. I mean doctors and scientists are all there but their impact is limited to their field of work and study. Who then are the people who define the fate of the nations far and wide," posed Witnewash thus a simple and innocuous question for Baker to answer. "Thats an easy one," Baker wore a smile on his face and continued "you are loosing your touch a little. These questions used to be tricky earlier," boasted Baker. "Answer then," beseeched Witnewash. "The first one has to be politicians," spurted Baker. "In view of my hints, this one does not merit any applause. Please spell out the other one," challenged Witnewash. "That is not fair mate. I did not ask for any hints and I would have not ever gone for a doctor anyhow," clarified Baker vehemently. "In any case, the answer please," W was in no humor to budge. "Well maybe the movie stars then or some sports-people. If you make allowance for entertainment as valid reflection of living that is," Baker got a little on the defensive while completing his argument. "Well entertainment does hold a place of huge significance in the day and age and very slowly alter the behavior of the society as well. So you need not defend your choice there. But I obviously meant to ask about something which is more impactful in a very short run of time relatively. Now you and I both know that you are not getting another shot at that one as the choices to pick from are anyway very limited and you are bound to stumble upon the answer sooner than later. So coming to the important point and the less obvious profession now. It is the innocuous looking Economist my dear friend. The whole world is a playground to the whims of these two men really.  The politician and the economist who are each other's best buddies anyhow. And in these times when the wars are fought financially more than at the field, the economist has an elevated status than ever he had one. Even the most celebrated economist of the 20th century conceded this position. He accepted that the lifestyle and the habits of a modern household or an individual had much to owe to the profession of modern day economics. You would be surprised to know how a bunch of well-meaning blokes can shape the future of the globe while discussing matters on a high-tea table. That would be the prominent statesman and the celebrated economist I am talking about. And this is a profession which facilitates a polarization of opinion always. There is a clear-cut demarcation between the classical model of economics and any other branch. You either follow it or not. It is easy for two opposing ideologies to breed groups of men who loath the men in the other coterie. And then they collude with the statesman. I do not intend to say that they are not well-meaning. But definitely, everything they believe is magnified and decisions are taken that alter the course of whole nations and make or break careers and institutions. For the love of god, I hope only the best ones and the ones who know what they are doing reach those positions of priviledge in life. Afterall, there is an optimization problem to be solved between employment and inflation or between austerity and an expansion of the economy. One nation takes one route while the other follows the other. Both believe they are correct. Only history could judge in these matters. Statesmen and economists are thus best adjudged by history.," concluded Witnewash. "That was quite a monologue," smirked Baker. "If it was, please understand that it was not in vain or for nothing as the case we have not at our hands would make a seasoned economist or even a pioneer like Marx gasp for air. "But you must be mistaken. You spoke about modern finance in respect to that case the other day. You mean finance here right?", asked Baker. "Nope, I mean economics as much as I will unilaterally mean anything. It looks like finance to the untrained eye. But as I had stated to you earlier, i suspect some deep play here than what the suits think. I am more convinced about that more than ever specially after the facts were presented to me in that meeting. Now, I would not venture to make fast assertions or draw unsubstantiated conclusions, so you would have to bear with me for some more time for the details. For the moment, I can say to you that this is the most extraordinary and ambitious plan that a country has ever made upon another in modern history. Do not let the suits believe you that it is a work of a group of hackers trying to make some quick immoral buck. Ooh these authorities, they even dont understand the scope of what they are dealing with. They have not targeted the Financial system or the backbone of the modern world, they have put an aim on the flow of blood so to say. They intend to change the entire economics of how business is done in the modern world. And that is a danger to every nation which is at a relative economic advantage at this point in time through their preemptive positions," asserted Witnewash to a bemused Baker. "When do you intend to explain to me the whole story," Baker did not try to suppress his anger at his colleague for playing yet another mind game or whatever he thought it was as a standard MO of his to keep the cards as close to the chest for as long as possible. "Patience always yields rich dividends my wise friend," Witnewash concluded with an ominous clarity in his voice.
                                           

                                          "Are you making any progress Mr Kirkland. We are a little bit in a hurry ourselves here.," asked the agent with a cold and calculated stare. This was an alien setting for Mike. He had braved many a battles among the sharpest and the smartest of the tech nerds and some of the most logical minds in the world and stood his ground. He never quite felt intimidated. That was because he always then knew that he belonged on that turf. But this was different. This was an experiment. And an indulgence even. These were men who navigated their way with a perafernalia of guns and jammers. He was more into software he thought to himself. Besides, the slight chance of violence that always accompanied them statistically got him into unease every single time he met. Beginner's nerve he thought. "Yes, I have with me the profiles of our next targets. I believe at-least 50 percent of the 10 guys I am giving to you should yield results," replied Mike in a hushed tone. "You can be louder Mr Kirkland. We know this room is not bugged. Now we shall have a look at our hits if you give us the snaps.," ordered the balding agent. It was this kind of one-upmanship that Mike hated with those intelligence guys. They just were too much macho for real life. They seemed to believe that everyone among the other side of the humanity were to be bullied. And quite enjoyed it. "Not a very good reason to take up a job," Mike thought to himself. But his drive was different. He wanted to make a difference. "Here they are agent," replied Mike while handing over the file and the drive to the agent he had come to quite dislike. This guy looked like a bodyguard from one of the action movies. The kind of guy who relied more on brawn than on his brains. All he was interested in was to show down the other person in a war of verbal volleys. But Mike feared the other agent more. He had a thick growth of hair and a fixed stare. And the stare seemed to be fixated on no one object. It dissolved in thin air. He seemed to be like a robot. He did not seem to have a any sense of humor. At-least the balding guy threw the sly smile every now and then. This man seemed to be emotionless, a perfect agent that is. Mike tried to negotiate less with him and deal with the balding guy most of the time. And this guy did not seem to mind it. "Where do they find men like those in such numbers man," Mike had often questioned himself. "2 asians, 3 europeans, 2 latinos and 3 americans. That is your assessment Mr Kirkland. How pally are you with these," the balding guy hurled a question at an unsuspecting Mike. "Well, I have introductions with them. Havent hung out much with most of them. The Americans of-course invite me to their apartments once in a while. They all seem like nice blokes to me otherwise. I mean in a manner of speaking," Mike tried to balance his argument. This was his folly if there was any apparent one. He tried to compensate for his sly and spy work. He was a more friendly man than suited his new profession. He was spying on these people after making some kind of an acquaintance with them. He was a mole in their setup. He was betraying them. After calling them his new friends. And this thought never left his mind. He got quite upset at times with that. Some of the suspects even seemed to be really nice blokes and if it were not for cold procedural laws and protocol, he would have never included them in his various lists and he always prayed that they come out clean eventually. The rest deserved what they got he used to think.  But he disliked the part of the job anyway. He had been very reluctant to take up the position initially when he learnt that he needed to spy on folks after making friends of some kind with them. "We will have a look at them and this drive of yours has enough data points and material. Let us hope this little reconnaissance of yours leads us somewhere this time," the balding guy never gave any credit to anyone it seems alluding to Mike's previous relative failures. But Mike was too wise now to retort to such bait from these men who were out to have fun at his expense.




                                                                          Chapter 8

"Thanks for your help Venkat," Aaron had a 100 watt smile on his face as he stood shaking hands with the poker faced guy from the infrastructure department. He had been doing this for quite a while now. He had thanked Venkat a million times in the past one year he thought. And why would he not. He had every reason to believe that his job was saved on more occasion than one due to sheer resourcefulness of this talented and reserved man. It did not even feel right now to call him the guy from the infrastructure department which handled things like IT, HR and other peripheral activities in the bank. He had become more of a product manager for Aaron and his team. He had innovated for his team. He had brought ideas to the table. He knew IT and as Aaron and anyone else worth their salt in the financial services industry knew IT was the backbone or even the nerve center of the changed banking scene. The raw computing power was all that was to be gained. And then applied in the form of various products in banking. Then you could innovate on the interface and communication and all that stuff. But the basic premise was that you needed tech to survive and thrive. And they had taken their IT overhaul very seriously. They knew that good computing firepower and design could propel them high up in the investment banking and transactions scene in times to come. The clients liked fast and easy solutions and it all revolved around good IT solutions. Venkat was slow on first initiative Aaron had often thought but once he was thrown into the mix of things, he could churn ideas faster than anyone in the room. The ideas that mattered to the bank at that moment that is. And Aaron had  not seen another man more disciplined in his entire life as Ventak was. And it was not a mere struggle or hard-work on Venkat's part to lead such a disciplined life as he did. It was his MO. A lot of sacrifices were made by him every day to stick to his plan. That was a reason that Aaron had been such a positive influence on him. Venkat was not dull and if given a chance, he brought forth a lot of new ideas. Aaron had persuaded Venkat to take up a role outside infrastructure into the more mainstream banking departments as he thought he had the talent definitely. But Venkat had vehemently refused always. it was not his MO. After a while, Aaron realized it was beside the point to persuade him as for all practical purposes, he was doing the best anyhow. "I cannot survive night-outs like you guys as a habit dude," was the standard answer Venkat stood to. "I need to wake up before the sun rises and I cannot compromise on my Yoga sadhana and meditation," he would often quote. Venkat Chidambaram was the quintessential disciplinarian who could accomplish any given task in any stipulated time period. And Aaron did not want to upset him much.
                                 That was the challenge of the new life for you. Gone were the days of struggling to keep up with the basic necessities of life like food and shelter. Even long after the hunting-gathering days of the nomadic tribes that had been, the life of folks revolved much around the basic issues of life even at the turn of the previous century. As home-delivery and internet had rendered social contact redundant, so had the challenges the modern being faced changed. It was no more important to just live a comfortable life. It was important to know who one was really. It was not the worst thing ever as it made individuals strive harder to understand the intricacies of life harder and more sincerely. But only the most sincere excelled. It was thus very important to get into a profession that related to one's being. It was better to do one's own work with a little bit of error or more, than to try and imitate someone else's life and station. One would fail there. The modern world revolved around work and there was no respite from that fact. Friends, money, fame and one's status were all meant to undergo change over time but the one constant to soothe the psyche was to be one's work - that is how they kept their mind engaged over a length of time. If the mind and thus the heart and hence the soul was in harmony with one's surroundings and consciousness, peace would be achieved. All the other factors of a good and accomplished life like compassion, love and friendship could follow. Any other work was practically slave's work and a slave never knew to appreciate the goodness of life. They could never love and would strike back at the opportune moment. The one who worked freely however possessed the more humane qualities in much more abundance.
 



                                                                       Chapter 9


"Hi, I have booked the conference room number 5 for the meeting you apprised me about on mail," jamming the door half-way across Aaron hushed slowly across to the boss sitting on his desk. "Ii think that would not be required Aaron as we shall have the talk here in my chamber itself. In-fact, it is just the two of us who shall have the meeting so why bother anyway. Let us meet after you are done for the day with your work. ," Jacques was as stoned and matter-of-factly as ever.  "Anything urgent?,"was the natural and a little circumspect response from Aaron He was a little suspicious. "You could think so. And a little bit of a classified thing as well. So I think it is better to have the meeting in this office itself. He seemed in no further mood to talk on the subject . Taking the cue, Aaron left the chamber letting the door he had still blocked shut. It was a mighty good tactic considering the 1 minute discussions and meetings they tend to have. Aaron tried to speculate about the agenda of the meeting on his way back to the desk but decided against it eventually considering the fact that it was Jacques who had it that way. It was next to impossible to know thus. But he also liked the idea that Jacques trusted him with such an important thing. He had quickly become his go-to man in a space of two years. That was a mean achievement. But could he trust Jacques as well was the thought that crossed his mind then. He concluded in an affirmative. Jacques was a reasonable man by all accounts and had a reputation for ethical conduct in a sector that was plagued by fraud and theft. In a manner of speaking he thought that is. He had had surprises thrown his way by Jacques in the past as well but this was way beyond doubt the most intriguing of them all. The analysis and questioning that had raged a war inside his mind meant that he could as well ask for the commencement of the meeting there and then as he knew he would not focus on anything of import thereon to the end of the day. Only he would not do that. It would be at the least another three hours he thought, before they would commence the meeting in any case and he decided that a quick skim through the leading economics and financial dailies was the best thing he could do in the ensuing period. His mind had started to race in ten directions at once and he  decided to compose it. It was the best response to a situation he knew so little about. And he was right on that part. It was futile to trifle on any one possibility when a zillion arose. "Best to cross the bridge when it arrived," he murmured to himself and slid into his chair with a relative calm.











             
                                               











Friday, September 13, 2013

confusion..

The Arab spring and the burning west asia and north africa, latest among them being Syria Is the story of the decade. A military regime and warring islamic factions cause a civil war which draws innocents into the fold in Syria. both the sides of the conflict - the government and the rebels, some of whom are declared terrorist outfits like AL-NUSTRA - GET EXTERNAL MILITARY SUPPORT.

Now then the ultimate question of chemical weapons is brought out with pictures of dead children (pbut). Obama and the international fraternity is thus brought to action. The drama on the international stage that has resulted is nothing short of a drama-thriller worthy its salt in hollywood.....latest is this op-ed by PUTIN in NYTimes (Obama's territory) and the cries of giving him the Nobel Peace prize.

    Now this gives it a very interesting turn really. The Syrian crisis in the second innings (the first was started in 2011) has become is public relations nightmare for the American president. He first spoke all of the red-line and stuff and the call to arms in the most vehement call of military action, albeit restrained. But it has now wonderfully turned sour for him. The loss of vote in the house of commons in Britain, his back-step (not that i condemn it) to asking the US congress itself for a vote on it and now delaying the potential strikes all has added to embarrassment for him. And who would have thought that the Russian premire, that tiger fighting (?) and martial arts wielding mach figure would have sprung into drama-laced rhetoric and brownie point scoring amid such heat. There are now talks of handing him over the peace prize and what more, taking it over from Obama and handing it over. I am sure, the two leaders are acting in their best judgement and goodwill for the larger populace. But this truly is a time when nothing looks black and white and everything is a bluRR..
    In all this, the heart goes to the innocent child who is warped in fear and anxiety in some corner of a Damascus district.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Man of Steel - the movie

So I watched it today, just back in-fact. And about the review, well, it was.......pretty good! ..:)
There was the general Nolan mark over the film although he was not even the director of the movie - well he was the writer! now I did not read the DC comics episode so I can't tell how much justice he did to the storyline in the comic-book, but yes, that is for only academic purpose. 
First of all, Ill begin with saying that our mother earth is beautiful, much much beautiful. If I were born in the dark, macabre and gloomy desert of Krypton, gosh sod save me! Guess that is why kal-el/clarke kent/superman chose to save earth's environment and people over Kryton afterall......:) So the storyline began in Krypton with all the artificial life creating technologies and what not and could be lauded for Russel Crowe's performance. I guess he could be lauded for bringing life to such characters who are not from our times or in this case, world! I maybe prejudiced here coz the only two period movies I have truly liked are Gladiator and Robin Hood..ok digression it was..so launch to our Earth..it was mostly the dense high-rise of Manhattan-like business district or something and the verdant greens of the village which ought to be smallville (however it was never mentioned like that I guess, on purpose maybe, but why?), anyway. 
It was 3D and the goggles and all that. I am gonna make a revelation here. I am not a big fan of those as they dim the brightness way too much so it bothers me and I watch a lot of the screenplay without them generally eventually!. So it was more bright, the movie for me generally.
But Henry Cavil was awesome. For a old-timer honed in the clarke kent kool-aide from the Smallville show and Tom Welling's fan at that, this should mean a lot for Cavill's performance. He managed to feel like Clarke Kent, Tom Welling's aura in my mind notwithstanding! And of-course he looks good they say for whoever might care..And he brought the decent intensity to the character as well..Mike Shannon as Gen Zod was fine and so was Louis Lane..
The music and screenplay were pretty good, a touch below the Btman trilogy but yes, you cant take anything away from Zack Snyder and Zimmer on that one..I always believe that Superman is a difficult task for a director than Batman like Nagraj was than Dhruva as the element of human genius is hard to project. There I think Nolan being Nolan, he has managed to fir in that touch easily and masterfully. You dont feel like - oh god, not again that super-duper powergame..There is more to offer here..
I dont think I have missed any major pointers here. But if anyone manages to read thjis this point, I would be glad to take it further if thy may please in the comments section..till that time, its good-bye!!

lessons on things granted!

henry woke up late into the morning and rushed to the gym after just drinking the water and cleaning up..he was not one to eat just after getting up for all he acids that built up in his stomach through his sleep. ALThough he recalled having his dinner ealier than usual the previous night, still he didnt need food badly. so he had a perfect hour in the gym and he rushed back to take the shower. he had started to feel hungry but he had to rush to the mall for the afternoon show of the blockbuster hollywood. He went to the kitchen for the breakfast but realized the cook had not visited that morning. So he thought, OK I should have the pop-corn and nachos during the movie probably. He was running late and did not have the time to wait by a restaurant or anywhere. ill have some tasty stuff in the mall he thought and rushed his way. he stopped by his friend's place to get a bag from his wife. he saw cookies on the dining table which looked delicious very much, but decided against grabbing those as he was a bit in formal terms with his friend's wife. but hat indicated him that he was hungry like he had not experienced in a while. So he reached the mall and headed straight to the multiplex. He was surprisingly not thinking of the movie at that moment. He thought of food! So he got in the queue and stared through the menu on the wall. Everything looked and felt delicious that day. So he decided his thing and reached for his wallet when he ws the penultimate person in the queue. While he was reaching out for the card, he realized something that sent a chill down his spine. He had not carried his debit card. He recalled how he did not have any much cash in his wallet the night before and he had decided to go to the ATM while on his way to the gym. He got the cash. But he did not carry the big wallet, instead just the card. And the hurry through the morning meant he did not put the card or the cash back into his wallet. The result was just some change in his heavy wallet he carried at that moment. 
And by that point he was starving like he had not felt in years or as long as he recalled. As luck would have it, he was watching the show alone on that fateful morning as it was a holiday in just his office for some bizzare reason and none of his friends were joining him. The thought of a 3 hour movie and then another hour before reaching home to grab the cash and head back to a restaurant spending more valuable minutes while he was dying of hunger had made him terrorized. But what option did he have. He silently disengaged from the queue and after drinking as much FREE water that was available and his stomach could take, he headed to the theatre. He even got reminded of the cookies he had seen earlier in the day. Only if he had realized their importance earlier. He evn dabbled with the idea of befriending a group of nice, well behaved girls standing nearby so he could have a chance of sharing their pop-corn. Not a good idea to stoop so low he thought. 
But the aftereffects of the intense work-out coupled with not having eaten anything in 16 hours already were showing. The show was a bittersweet ride for him as the pangs of hunger were sharp. He even looked at his neighbour's food at least three times very intently. Only if the neighbour would have noticed! He thought to himself, "the food that I take for granted is pretty important afterall!". He eventually got his meal before he fainted but had learnt a silent lesson very privately!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Of Ghazals and Sufism

Chamakte Chaand ko toota hua taara banaa daala...meri awaragi ne mujhko aawaara banaa dalaa....Sounds like a rhyming prose or poetry at the best. But you need to hear the rendition from the Ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali to be mesmerised by the lyrics. I mean the import of the words is there definitely, but they pound you with an intensity altogether different when sung in the Ghazal. Outside Cricket and Bollywood, he may be one of the handful personalities who enjoy such high patronage and liking on either side of the border. And why should he not. For that matter, the Ghazal tradition in Pakistan has flourished always. Mehdi Hassan and Abida Parveen are two more names that ring a bell of familiarity across India, both Pakistani scions. Meaningful poetry often laced with deep rooted philosophy and melody are two almost essential elements of a good Ghazal. Ofcourse sublime rendition like that by Ghulam Ali (Bade Ghulam Ali Sahab or even Chote G A) makes a Ghazal what it is. It may be of concern to the vetean patrons of the art that there seems to be little interest among the youngsters towards this sublime craft. The Ghazal evenings are far and few between in the day and age while the rockstars hog all the lime light and then more. The sensibility towards poetry seems to be declining and the romanticism ensconsed in it has few takers among the young. It is just not pacey enough. But they might well be keeping themselves bereft of a flavour of living.
    Another art form or rather more so a way of life indeed is Sufism or the rendition of Quawwalis.  Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan can be credited to internationalize this music form. Sufi music has been cultured and practised in praise of the almighty for no less than six or seven centuries. The saints of yonder and old expressed their love and devotion to god through the mystical Sufi music. And the tradition flourished. This music form enlivens and charged the ambience like no other. Often incorporating high pitch truisms, the best proponents of the art form have been widely classed as among the most capable singers. Nusrat is a very good example to boot. Quawwalis have specially taken centerstage in Bollywood over the decades. And Pakistan continues to be the land of genesis for the best talent there is in both these music forms. Here is hoping that the practitioners would always find enough patronage for these music styles to sustain and flourish in times to come.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Of FDI in retail.

so the FDI is allowed in a majority percentage by the rule now, only the state govts need intervene. I have not read the covenents nor have I read extensively on the subject to wax eloquent much longer. However, I have my doubts over one aspect of the debate. The question or the assertion that the Kirana shops would take a huge hit looks like a little outrageous to me. Let us briefly dabble. The current crop of shoppers at a Reliance fresh or more or smart/foodworld are the ones most likely to move to avail the services of one of the giants like WallM or Carrefour for access to quality and freshness at maybe the same price.That makes for a fair point. But the people who are still shopping at the kirana at the nook and not the Reliance fresh a couple hundred yards away are least likely in my humble opinion to the mammoth super retailer round the corner may be just a bit too much for him/her to foray to on a regular basis. India is a billion+ strong country with such strange and amazing stratification of the society that it is difficult to straightjacket its people into one formula. What say? I am just as naive.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Batman and the BomB

So it featured this time  round in the story, the Nuclear bomb. The goon was sinister and so was his method. But the director missed a trick in my opinion. First, what was all the hoopla about when Batman knew he could fly the device up into the sea. OK there was the autopilot thing but he knew  it had been rectified. So he should have been more calm than fox and the likes. Even more baffling is the detonation of the device. I am no nuclear physicist or even read about nuclear warheads. However, one thing I think would happen pretty sure if a nuclear device goes gungho over the seas is a Tsunami. I mean so much energy is generated in so little time. The Gothamites did not look like worried for any kind of radiation damage while appreciating the nuclear cloud that had formed, credit to them. But in real life situations, a novice like me would think a couple huge waves of angry Tunami water ushering to the shores is a fair estimation of the goings.        Rest it was an awesome and stimulating piece.