Saturday, May 16, 2009

The disappointment, the composure & the dejection

Manish had paid a visit to my house twice, but hadn’t found me there on either occasion. The first time, I was on my honeymoon, oscillating between the blissful emotions of a new alliance and the queasy feeling from driving on meandering mountain roads. The second time, I was back in my cubicle, trying to overcome the lethargy set in by a fortnight of reclusion. To make matters worse, he had left a big packet of chocolates behind as my marriage gift and had apologized to my folks that he wasn’t able to make it to the wedding. My parents had taken him for a close friend of mine, one they didn’t know about.

Manish called when I was in the final stages of kicking off the stupor. I was glad he called, because I had conveniently forgotten him and his visits. After the customary greeting exchanges and matrimony congratulations, he started on what he did best – selling investment plans. While I was not interested in investing any money, I couldn’t really say no to him. He had become more of a friend than an investment planner in the last three years because of his humility and affection. I asked him to come over to my office to discuss.


When I had first heard that Ram was going to be put on the dreaded bench, I realized that it’s probably the end of the road for him in this company. I couldn’t do anything or blame anyone, because given this situation I would have probably done the same thing.

He had always been the quieter kind. Never saying more than what is desired of him and sometimes ever lesser. He would come to work everyday, switch his computer on, do what is required of him, have lunch mostly on his own, turn his computer off and leave for home. He wasn’t noticeable at all and may be that’s what caused his head to be on the chopping block first when a unwarranted situation arose.


Siddhanna would always smile when he saw me exiting the lift. His smile had an unusual charm. I always felt he was trying to say something, but instead chose to smile. May be he wanted to talk about the concoction of colors in the sky he saw the day before, or how his grandson leaped with joy into his arms when he reached home. I always tried to create these images for myself, smile back and give him my laptop card.

In no time, I had gotten used to the vibrant smile. When he went for his heart operation, I started missing him in the mornings, but I knew he would come back soon and bring the smile back with him. I pictured him smiling and went on with work.


Manish arrived fifteen minutes earlier than the decided time. I didn’t know if he had put on weight or lost some. I actually didn’t remember how he looked a year back. Meeting someone only once a year has its own predicament, I thought.

He told me there was a great insurance plan that I can invest in. I was averse to the idea. If one were to classify investments as risky, balanced and safe, purchasing one more insurance plan would have shifted me to the ‘scared’ category. I asked him to show me some ELSS options, which I thought would be the best investment in a slumped stock market. He didn’t have any. He told me he had moved to an insurance company about six months back and only sold insurance plans now.

“In that case, I wouldn’t have anything to invest now.” I said.

“Please sir. I came all the way because you asked me to. I have already committed the amount to my boss. He will make my life miserable and there are no jobs in the market. Just a small amount would do sir.”

“Sorry Manish. I cannot. I really was under the impression that you are still with the investment firm and will be able to give me ELSS options to invest in. I am ready to help but insurance is not a good option for me.”

“Sir please. My boss will kill me. He already abuses me if I don’t meet my target. I have known you for so long. Please help me out”

It was an uncomfortable situation for me. I wanted to help him, but it did not make sense for me to invest either.

“Sorry Manish. I really can’t. If you want I can talk to your boss and explain the situation”.

“It won’t help sir. He wouldn’t understand.”

He rested his hands on his forehead. I could see two emotions on his face – one of fear of what awaits him when he faces his boss and another of disappointment at my failure of not being able to help him out.

He said thanks and left. I came back to my desk, almost feeling guilty.

My team members told me that the cake had arrived. Ram was leaving us that day and someone had come up with the idea of a farewell. It didn’t really seem opportune to cut a cake when someone is leaving involuntarily, but then letting someone go without best wishes isn’t courteous either.

The cake was placed in the center of the room. People gathered around. Ram stood there with the knife, composed as usual. Everyone expected someone to say something. For some strange reason, no one did. Even I didn’t. I wanted to thank him for all the good work he had done and say best wishes for his future. But I didn’t.

Ram cut the cake. I gave him a piece, shook his hand and conveyed best wishes. Everyone followed. I came back to my seat and felt awful that I didn’t even manage to saw a few kind words to him. All the management education and people management trainings felt worthless considering that I wasn’t able to say things when they mattered most to people.

I turned and saw Siddhanna at the glass door. I started feeling worse when I realized it was Siddhanna’s last day in this company. The management had decided to change the security providers and so I wouldn’t be able to see Siddhanna’s smile from Monday.

Another cake arrived. All the security guards were asked to cut the cake. Only Siddhanna came forward and cut it, the smile stationed on his face throughout. He couldn’t eat much because of his heart condition. But he made up for the small bite with a much bigger smile than usual. He gave a small speech thanking everyone for being so good to him and making his stay in the company comfortable and merry. He said he felt dejected that he had to leave, but then that’s how life goes. He asked all of us to not forget him and pay him a visit at his new company if possible. The small piece of cake seemed like an hourglass, with every small nibble bringing Sidhanna’s stay at our company closer to its end.

We exchanged glances. He smiled. I smiled back. We did not have to say anything else to each other. I went back to my seat and started packing up for the day.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The 'Dil-Bill' Connection

I felt my phone vibrate in my trouser pocket. The buzz was short and to the point, very much like the headline I was trying to put on my power-point slide. It was my cell phone bill alert from BSNL and read something like: “Dear subscriber, your CellOne bill for the month of June 2008 has been dispatched. Please pay an amount of Rs. 429 by July 18th. Please contact customer care if you have any queries’.

Before I venture forward with the main agenda of this blog, I would just like to clarify my point of view on something that would/should have raised your eyebrow. Yes! I have a BSNL connection indeed! It was a decision made in full consciousness about 2 years back. I was trying to cut down on my cell phone bill and BSNL’s plan seemed to be the most cost effective at that time. Now, for the lack of a better explanation, I attribute my BSNL relationship to patriotism and using things which have “Indian” imprinted in their DNA. And I will stick to that explanation till I manage to move my lazy ass to a store, get a new network connection & go through the trouble of making everyone aware of my new number. That’s not happening anytime soon for sure!

Let's get back to the SMS now. At 3 in the afternoon and with a lot of work on your plate, it doesn’t feel bad to see such a small amount under the ‘outgoing’ item of your monthly budget spreadsheet. But when I got home that evening and started thinking, I realized how one's cell phone bill can paint a clear picture of the phase in his/her life.

When I moved into Bangalore about three years back, I had a girlfriend. My cell phone bill at that time hovered in the range of Rs. 1800 to Rs. 2500, depending on number of a) no-speaking days because of fights, b) hours of romantic talk, c) sleepless nights, d) time spent at work, e)travel on work (and thereby roaming costs) and so on.

Then came the ‘back to being single’ phase, where I called up all those friends of mine who I had lost touch with in my ‘committed’ phase. The bills were not record breaking at this time. I shelled out a constant Rs.1000 to Rs. 1400, and was happy to realize that friends are there for you, no matter what.

A year down the line, this myth was also broken. The fact that my friends were able to spare time for me was because even they were single and did not have anything better to do. And when they started getting married, my bills started crashing down like the stock market.

The final nail in the coffin was when I joined my new job. I am working 12-14 hours a day, coming home only for eating, sleeping and hygiene maintenance. Weekends are spent over a game of cricket or under the blanket. This lifestyle does justify the Rs. 429 bill. But what makes it even more interesting is that I have a Rs. 275 rental plan. So, in essence I used my phone for only Rs. 154 in the whole month of June 2008. What is even more worrying is that a large component of these 154 bucks is the call I make every evening to check out the dinner menu and informing folks when I am coming home from work.

So, the next time you meet someone and are confused about how to check their relationship status…well…you now know what question to ask…

”Hey buddy! So what was your cell phone bill last month?”.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Beating around the Bush!

George of the jungle is at it again. After claiming to have solved the terrorist problem (read - carpet bombing Iraq and Afghanistan), he is now worried that the fruits and meat left in the jungle might not be enough for the tribes world over. He is, thus, beating his chest and letting go of the jungle cry, saying that some gluttons called Indians (and Chinese) are eating much more than their share of dal-roti, chicken tikka and gobi manchurian.

I really don’t think he means what he said. I mean, he has always been a man of too many words, illogical at that. And while all of India is maliciously vociferous against these ludicrous charges leveled by Bush, I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and explore the funny side of all this.

There are really two big issues that Bush is trying to tackle through these comments of his:

1. Size does matter: Anyone who has travelled to the US, always has a tale or two about their first coffee at Starbucks. The Indian equivalent of American size definitions pan out something like this:

American size ~ Equivalent Indian size
Small ~ Large
Medium ~ Super Extra Large
Large ~ Are you sure, you can drink this?
Extra Large ~ Bush is right! You are indeed a glutton.

I even remember struggling to finish a regular 3 course meal in the US, simply because the food just kept coming. It was one of those rare occasions where people around me were beating me at the hogging game.

Clearly, if the Indians start getting used to eating such huge proportions, the Americans will have to start revising their sizes upwards, in order to maintain their ‘world superpower’ status. Bigger the sizes - more the prices - lesser the demand. That’s an economic equation they could easily do without, at a time when recession is creeping into the US.

2. Kamasutra: The ‘hush-hush’ Indian libido is also to blame for the imminent food crisis. Bush says the (great) Indian middle class is reproducing like felines and the resultant increase in population is leading to the food shortage. What is ironical is that a recent survey shows Indians are one of the least sexually satisfied species in the world. So if we put two and two together, one can conculde that Indians are having more and more of unprotected, unsatisfactory sex. Clearly we don’t need a “Hum do humare do” campaign. What we need is something like a “Daampatya mein surakshit aanand, arthvyavastha sehatmand” campaign. We will have to give couples the “Big Picture” and tell them how their sex lives and the ‘protected’ satisfaction thereof is critical to the world economy and the sustenance of palatable resources. That should be fairly easy, ain’t it!

Hey George….quit beating around the bush would you, and as John Mayor puts it very aptly in his new song “Say what you need to say”!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Voting Trouble!

It sounded too good to be true. In the end it really was. A 3-sentence promise from the election commissioner ended up turning into a nightmare for voters and officials alike.

When I got to hear the news, I promptly called up my friends and told them about this no-nuisance method to get a voter’s id. My colleagues were also appreciative of the fact that a guy in his notice period is still willing to help the organization. People in our apartment block were very excited and one of the office bearers (viz. retired people with a lot of time in their hands and an internet connection at home) was given the responsibility to gather more information about this time saving initiative. Everybody was happy that the hi-tech nature of this city is finally rubbing off on the state government.

Alas! The babus, like always, decided to turn the tables. Or should I say they decided to play ignorant to the very existence of tables.

Let me quickly & chronologically detail how it all panned out:

Week of April 13th to 18th: Everyone is confused about the drop-box plan...The only confirm reports in newspapers are about IPL.

April 19th: News breaks out that Form-001 uploaded on

April 20th: Dad asks me to get 15-20 print outs. No, we aren’t that big a family. Dad was planning to be charitable and distribute to the other families in the apartment block.

April 21st : I discover I don’t have passport pics…I don’t have any negatives either…I get photos done…Don’t like my pic...It is almost a sleazy expression…But then decide to keep it coz it is (hopefully) not gonna be used for my arranged matrimony process.

April 21st : I inform all friends and colleagues of the form…Download Form-001…Take 25 printouts…Toner of printer goes low…I pretend it was low even before I printed so many copies.

April 21st : Triumphant return with Form-001...Greeted with enthusiasm from dad…We realize form is in Kannada…Needs to be translated…Mom and dad start to translate based on their 3 month Kannada crash course…One hour later, when one line has been translated, neighbor comes in with English forms…Dad looks at me with disgrace.

April 22nd: I send soft copy of English forms to friends and collegues...Nobody sends a thank-you mail...Nobody seems interested…I go back to the printer…Print 25 English forms…Toner goes low again…Facilities guys lodge FIR.

April 23rd: News says that officials are turning away people who had dropped forms in drop boxes…They say they don’t know about this ‘new’ process…We are also unsure…Forms lie at home…We decide to watch IPL.

April 24th: We decide to go ahead with the process anyways…We fill up the forms and attach pics…I was not sure if they will accept my form with my almost-sleazy pic.

April 25th: Dad drops the form in the drop-box…Everybody is happy and the 48-hour wait starts…In the meanwhile, Harbhajan slaps Sreesanth...Sreesanth cries…I laugh!

April 26th: Office bearers call up election office to find out status of the dropped forms...Officials say bring along address proofs…Dad goes in mid-day sun to submit address proofs…Sometime later office bearers call again…Officials say they cannot give ‘guarantee’ that voters id will be issued based on the dropped forms…Everyone is seriously pissed off…I decide not to vote!

April 26th<3pm>: Office bearers call and inform that there is no crowd at the voter id issuing booth.

April 26th<3:05pm>: We inform everyone we know in the apartment block…We rush…6 people in my car and a lot of hope in our hearts.

April 26th<3:30pm>: Booth is indeed empty…We get our photo done…New photograph, same old sleazy expression.

April 26th<4:00pm>: We get our photo id cards...Breathe sigh of relief…But still pissed off!

So, in order to save 2 hours of standing in the queue, we spent more than a week informing people, taking printouts, clickin sleazy pics, dropping forms, submitting address proofs and getting extremely frustrated – all in a futile cause. Finally we had to settle with a voter id card which has misspelt address and looks totally fake.

I don’t know if I wanna vote anymore!

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Small Joys in Life!

I searched for my cell phone desperately all around the house. “I really have to tell her this”, I thought.

As the network servers indulged in sinusoidal small talk to connect the two lines, I started questioning my instinct which was making me call this girl. She isn’t much of a cricket freak. Her knowledge of the game is limited to ‘Bowlers bowl - Batsmen hit’. She also thinks that a “No ball” happens when there is no ball available to play after a batsman has hit it out of the stadium for six. But then, she still manages to watch the game and celebrate when India wins. “I guess that’s good enough!”, I reassured myself.

“Hello”, she said.

“Hey!”, I said, with a volcanic eruption of excitement in my voice.

“Should I call you back? Why are you wasting money on roaming?”, she inquired, like the wise woman she always was.

“No it is all right. I have to tell you something.”, I blurted - the volcano refusing to die down.

“Are they getting you married?”, she asked, sounding almost convinced.

I should have expected that question considering the fact that I was 25, single, on vacation and visiting my relatives.

“No! We will talk about that later. I have smaller things to worry about. You know, I realized today that it has been almost 2 years since I last played cricket”

“Ok! I am glad that you realized.”

I decided to ignore the sarcasm, attributing it to her lack of interest in the game.

“I played cricket today. Every inch of my body is hurting. But I love it! I think we are all missing out on the small joys in life!”

For some strange reason, she was able to comprehend the glum message behind the excitement façade. We talked about it for a while, fought over some copyright issues, reached a consensus and hung up. (For more on the copyright fight, please see )

After that I made it a point that in this week-long trip to my hometown, I would do all those things which used to mean a world to me once.

Food, as usual, topped the list. Spicy Poha with hot Jalebis and samosas every morning, Makke ki roti, Corn kees, Onion kachori, Dahi wada, Mirchi ka bhajiya...The list goes on.

Then came the experiences. I danced! I realized that all the blaring ‘House’ and ‘Hip hop’ music in the Bangalore night clubs had corrupted me. But as soon as the Punjabi remix songs started playing, my soul dint take much time to switch back to the unique Govinda + Malkit Singh + Jazzy B + Jay Z all in one style.

Once the baraat entered the reception area, we escaped and drove down to our engineering college at 1 am. The watchman failed to recognize us. His dog didn’t. We sat on those steps and recounted all the stories – the teachers, some of the few pretty girls, the crushes which never went forward, the ragging period, the canteen, the days when we bunked college to play pool & finally some more of those few pretty girls.

I think this was one of my best vacations in recent times. Simply because I did those things which took me back in time. Things which mattered to me!

After coming back to Bangalore, I feel I am caught in the never ending rate race of working, socializing and guzzling beer. May be all of us are.

Without being preachy, I want to encourage us to think hard and list down those small things which made us happy. For example, a friend of mine told me how every time she goes home, she makes it a point to go on a drive to Marina beach, breathe the morning wind, watch the sunrise, hear the birds chirping away, while choosing to ignore the army of men doing their morning duties along the coastline.


Eat that extra gulab-jamun.

Go to the night club on a bollywood night.

Take your bike/car and go on that long drive.

Sing/dance the night away with friends.

Watch the sunrise!

Eat another gulab-jamun.

Enjoy the small joys in life!

Labels: , , ,

Friday, August 10, 2007

Analyst...Till I Die!

Friday evenings are usually somber. But this one was unusual…atypically grave with a hint of perplexity and yawns as per taste. And when people started heading home at 6 pm, it simply brought a new, strange flavor to this already uncharacteristic evening. While my eyes were busy noticing the mass exodus and my mouth was expanding and contracting like a balloon, my brain was at it again - searching for answers to a one-sentence problem statement.

“A problem statement is the perfect example of how a childhood can go wrong due to parental pressure”, I thought. These problem statements are like foster children, typically adopted after a heated exchange in a high level business meeting, one where none of the parties involved are ready to take the blame for the procreation of the real child – which in most cases is a downward revenue trend. A mutual decision then shifts the focus onto this foster child, while the actual culprit child still continues to live a healthy life in-spite of a non-performing childhood. From this point on, the complexity forced onto the foster child just keeps on multiplying, until one day when all the confusion and pressure makes the child lose his focus, head in a totally unwarranted direction & search for answers of his own existence in the first place. That is when you as an analyst know that you and your business partner have screwed the analysis up…big time!

Another mail with a new set of problem statements strutted into my inbox. My right hand, in a quick reflex action, tried to move the cursor onto the mail so as to enable me to read it. But my brain acted like a road which has just seen a light drizzle of snow pass over it, thus making it slippery and hard to maneuver on. My right hand was not equipped with any ABS mechanism and so it skit across the outlook screen, tentatively at that, and came to a halt only after crashing into the ‘close’ button at the top right. For the second time in my life, I was proud of myself. The first time was about 15 minutes ago, when out of sheer nuisance I had called up a few friends and planned a Friday night out at a lounge bar. The third time was at the lounge bar when I killed the guilt of procrastinating a deliverable with a couple of Tequila shots. Another 2 Tequila shots, a couple of beer mugs & a large vodka later I was proud of myself for a fourth time – apparently for no particular reason. To make it a five-for, I puked on reaching home.

Morning brought with itself the realization of the impending doom, waiting for me in my inbox. Second thoughts, as usual, told me that today was a Saturday - read ‘two more days to Monday’. And, as always, I decided to let the blues remain an undisputed property of Monday.

I switched on the television and changed the channel to Aaj Tak. Another ‘Breaking News’ was creating sensation and out of sheer curiosity I decided to see what it was all about. In exactly 5 seconds I found out that they were going gung-ho about a supposed love affair between two contestants in the Indian Idol show. Thankfully, 10 years back, I had voted against my gut feeling of becoming a journalist. And about a year back, I had also chosen not to become ‘Aapka A.K’ by participating in Indian Idol. The ‘Breaking News’ definitely broke my patience.

I switched over to Star Cricket and started watching the highlights of the India-England test series. I saw Dhoni unleashing a barrage of fours & sixes and thought to myself, “Could I have done that?”. A career in cricket could have been possible if I hadn’t been frustrated with the high frequency of shoe damage as a result of pace bowling. A little bit of more talent and just a few kilograms less would have also helped.

As my thoughts declared an early retirement from the game, an ad about a ‘Dream Commentary Job’ with ESPN-Star Sports stole my attention. “Ah! Now that is a job to live for”, I said to myself. You just have to look at cricket all day long, comment on each ball that is being bowled, and at the end of the match analyze the day’s performances. “Analyze! Doesn’t that sound familiar?”, I thought. Even I look at data all day long, analyze high/low performances, catch trends, and attribute reasons to them. Then I just wait for another day when a new player comes into the equation and creates a new ballgame for me to analyze.

And suddenly I started thinking clearly, despite the hangover from last night. Yes, I could have dreamt of being or have been a singer, writer, cricketer, actor or a vegetable vendor for all you know. But, no matter what I did, I would have had to analyze myself or someone else on a daily basis, and take life decisions based on that analysis. In my case, I was getting paid for it too.

I knew that some day I might just die burning in a ‘Super-ANOVA’ explosion or be crushed under heavy ‘Factor Loadings’. In the worst case, I might be murdered by a really ‘Mean’ value. But all of it, I thought, was worth the excitement of identifying that small little trend crawling like a rattle snake in the data.

I pledged then, and I pledged with my heart. “I am gonna be an Analyst”, I screamed, “Analyst…till I die!”.

Labels: ,

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Ooooooooo...Happyyyyyyyy Friendship Dayyyyyyyyy!

He woke up palpitating. The alarm’s sound was intolerable. Even he was finding it difficult to digest that this was one of his most popular songs from way back when. At that time in history, everything was going as per plan. Movies, awards and the claim to Kishore’s throne, were all there for his taking. But now the era of a new nasal twang had dawned. And Kumar knew he had to reinvent himself to save what was left of his career. Sanu-da, as he is popularly referred to by his fraternity, decided to use this Friendship Day to patch up with some old “industry” buddies & get back to the singing ways. He had been working on this new style of singing which he hoped would differentiate his nasal twang from the one ruling the roost today. He called it the “Mishti” technique, because it involved putting a few drops of “Mishti Dohi” sugar-syrup in the nose before starting to sing. He believed he sounded sweeter by doing that.

Moving quickly, he dressed up & zipped to his car. He knew that unless he got some work today, the bank would not allow this car to be there with him for long. In a bid to buy more time, Sanu-da had insisted that he could perform for the bank employees without any fees. As the news of a possible ‘Sanu’ concert spread, some of the bank’s employees put in their papers & some others just went missing. Even the bank’s insurance company issued a statement citing “no obligation” in case Sanu-da performed & any major aural ailment broke out amongst the employees. This was when the bank decided to avoid attrition & casualties by just giving him an extra couple of months to pay back his loan.

Sanu-da parked his car outside HR’s house & walked to the gate gingerly. He looked at the door bell, took a deep breath and pressed it.

“Hooooooooooooooo…oooooooooooooooo…ooooooooooooooo”, cried the door bell. After a short wait, a guy came out dressed in a denim cap and leather jacket. For a moment, Sanu-da mistook him for HR. But then he realized that the guy didn’t have a stuble & was holding a stick instead of a mike in his right hand. “Must be the watchman”, he thought to himself.

“Is Himesh home?” Sanu-da questioned.

The watchman looked at him from head to toe and asked, “Who are you?”.

Sanu-da was used to fans screaming his name and thronging his house for autographs. He definitely wasn’t used to someone asking him who he was. Sanu-da knew that even if people forget his face, they could never forget his evergreen songs.

“Hmmmmmmmmmmmm….Tujheeee dekhaaaaaaaaaaaaa…to yehhhh jaaanaaa sanammmmmmmmm…pyaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrr hota hai deewaanaaaaaaaaa sanammmmmmm…” Sanu-da hummed.

It worked. The watchman saw his past flash before his eyes, and heard all of Sanu-da’s songs passing by his ear. Needless to say, he fell on the ground, coincidentally at Sanu-da’s feet & went into a coma. Sanu-da reveled in the moment because he thought the watchman had realized the greatness of the man standing in front of him.

Sanu-da blessed the watchman and moved into the house. As soon as he entered the living room, he could hear some sounds, which made him stand back & notice. He could unmistakably attribute the sweetness of the sound to a nose which has become very famous over the past year. He followed the sound to its source & reached the balcony. To his surprise the sound was actually the siren of an ambulance parked next door. Another person in the vicinity had succumbed to a new form of AIDS – Aural Infection Deafening Syndrome.

Sanu-da left the balcony and moved into the adjacent room. He saw something…something that was arguably the most awaited & anticipated sight in the history of Indian cinema. HR was busy looking at himself in the mirror & combing his newly weaved hair. His hair was flowing like a wild river, splashing on the forehead, and from time to time revealing the bare surface beneath.


HR turned around, saw Sanu-da standing there, and in a quick reflex action jumped towards his cap. Another dive, and a mike magically appeared in his hand.

“Sanu-da! How did you get in? I mean, what a pleasant surprise” HR said, trying to stand, & still trying to adjust his cap with one hand.

“Happy friendship day Himesh! And congratulation for all the success”

“Thank you Sanu-da and same to you.”

“Nice sarcasm Himesh. I never imagined one nasal singer would insult another. But then, times change!”

“Oh! I am sorry Sanu-da. I was just responding to your Friendship day wishes.”

“That’s all right Himesh. I am used to these things now. Let me get straight to the point. I need work. I need work desperately. I need work now. And I have come to you my friend, with hope that you would understand my twitch better than anyone else.”

“Sanu-da. I respect you a lot. But I really cannot offer you any songs right now. After the success of Aap ka Suroor, I have decided to act and give music in only 3 movies per year. I want to make my brand more exclusive. I hope you understand”

“I do understand Himesh. But I know for sure that you can help me. I am ready to do anything Himesh”

“Anything?” HR inquired.

“Anything!”, Sanu-da confirmed.

“All right then. You know how this industry works. You will have to make some ‘compromises’, if you know what I mean.”

“What? Compromise? What kind of compromise?”

“Well…haven’t you heard about the couch?”

“Himesh! Are you really serious? I thought you are one of the decent guys in the industry. Oh lord! What is happening to this world?”

“What is the big deal Sanu-da? I need to do this to make sure my rock-star image continues to dominate the music scene.”

“I don’t have a choice or a lot of time to ponder Himesh. If this is what I have to do to stay alive, I am ready. Let us go!”

“Wow! You are a brave man Sanu-da. Ill quickly go and get protection for you though. I don’t want unnecessary AIDS rumors to spread after this is over.”

“Whatever! Which room should I go to?”

“Just go down this hallway and take the last right. That’s my recording room. Be seated on the couch there. Ill join you in a few minutes. Needless to say, I am very excited”

“Huh…In the recording studio!” Sanu-da exclaimed. HR had already left the room. Sanu-da resigned to his fate and started walking to the studio. He reached the room, took off his shirt and pants and sat on the couch. He remembered all his popular hits and hummed them one last time on what he thought would be last day as a “pure” artist.

A little while later, HR ran into the room and in the next second came to a screeching halt on seeing Sanu-da in his bare essentials.

“What the hell are you doing Sanu-da?” HR screamed.

“Himesh! Stop acting and get this over with quickly.”

HR suddenly realized that Sanu-da had misunderstood the compromise.

“Oh no Sanu-da. This is not what I meant. This is not a casting couch. I call this the ‘Lasting Couch’. What you need to do is to just listen to all of my new compositions. If you remain conscious, retain your hearing ability and last till the end of the song, I will launch it in one of my movies. The lasting couch Sanu-da…the lasting couch!”

“The lasting couch! Why were you talking about protection and AIDS then?”

“Oh!”. HR took out a couple of ear buds from his pocket. “This is the protection I was talking about Sanu-da. I don’t want you to become deaf listening to my songs. Already many people in the locality have sued me because they contracted AIDS…Aural Infection Deafening Syndrome…listening to my songs. That is it.”

“What? Oh I am sorry Himesh. I thought…never mind.”

Sanu-da dressed up quickly. “You are a true nasal friend Himesh. Give me those ear buds and play some songs.”

“I have composed a song especially for Friendship Day Sanu-da. I hope you last through it. All the best. And remember…When there is faith, there is no fear!”

HR closed the door and went into the adjacent room to play his new song. Sanu-da flinched as the nasal twang erupted like a volcano. And then the song began.

“Oooooooooo…Happyyyyyyyy Friendship Dayyyyyyy…

Teri Yaari...Jaan se pyaari…

Happy friendship day my friend, my friend, my friend

Happy friendship day my friend, my friend, my friend

Tu hai mera friend…friend…friend”