Saturday, July 11, 2009

To sleepless nights, and hopeless dreams.


Insomnia is the frothing, gurgling beast that sneaks up on you like a drunk stumbling husband in the dead of night and clutches at your throat and drips its slow poison, drop by drop, tick by tock, into the cogwheels of your brain, patiently waiting for when the daylight breaks and you drag with it your drugged hollow carcass into another blinding day.

From where, this anxiety?

The anticipation, I suppose, of change. Of change, impending. Of doom lurking. Of transition. Of the slipping away of comfort zones, the ground beneath her feet, of not knowing what lies behind door number two.

Of being out of one's depth,

-- or out of one’s element.

Of unknown protocols, social and otherwise,

Of trying to fit in

Of trying to stand out

Of the struggle for…. what, really?

(and the vein-popping task of not letting the effort show)

Of submerging into unremarkable mediocrity

Of loneliness

Of homesickness

Of missing home, country, family and the familiar.

Of questions too troubling to answer

Of worries too fleeting to define

Of leaving


Home.

Country.

India.

That benevolent whore from whose bitch-tits we suckle, and fondly call the motherland. A society of a million people labouring under its sticky yellow sun, holding on to our illusions for dear life, our gracious host only too willing.

The beauty of India is the surety with which its parasitic inhabitants inhabit this land, the securedness of our existence in face of the undeniable truth that at any moment our host might decide to discard her unwelcome guests. Or perhaps it is precisely because of that knowledge that we hold so lightly a life that we know is not ours to hold.

Why bother with denials after all, when the very topics too unpleasant for any civilized mind, greet us shamelessly naked and underbelly-exposed, as if to say, ah well, would that you hide me behind pristine hospital walls or beneath lush green cemeteries, there’s no denying that one day, your time too shall come. Hark. Truth bears the form of a shiny-toothed beggar, one gangrened arm outreached.

And yet, we still cling to our carefully constructed illusions of ranks and hierarchies, of pure-bloods and uncleans, of denominations and status symbols. Holding a life lightly, and our opinions dearly. After all, how can you tell if you're successful if you can't find someone you can pay to fold his arms, call you madam, stand when you sit, nod when you speak, smile when you call him “country fellow” and then leave, knowingly, saying -- na varein -- that curious custom of saying, I'm coming, when one is actually going.

India is, it seems, the world’s greatest shammer. Who hasn't been sucked up to, sucked off, sucked in to the whole notion of some more equal than others, us more secular than them, we more tolerant than those, I more Indian than him.

This country is, let's face it, the best handjob you'll ever get. The best ego-massager, regurgitating a string of ego-massagers delicately balanced like a house of cards.

Misfits, miscreants and misanthropes, we are a body of builders, a building of bodies, each brick supported by the blood sweat and tears of the one above and below it, cemented with the crushed dreams of the unrealized –the dhobis prayer to win the lottery, the young girl’s dream of running away, the maids daydream of being the next undiscovered queen of Tamil soap, the housewife’s dream of strangling her philandering husband - the feel of another's pitiable dreams squishing beneath your toes lending credibility to your own aspirations.

And yet, this flesh-building stands supported by the very same dreams. Or rather, the reason behind their crushed unrealizedness, the reason behind their very existence, the common glue that holds this quivering house of cards together.

Hope.

That fervent, gnawing clutching at straws that oneday, someday, we will break out of this on to a better life, a better day, a better tomorrow. That whatever happens, this too will pass.

And that belief is the very fabric of India. Its the reason the wheels keep turning underneath the grime, the grit and the glamour, the reason you smile as you bribe another pot-bellied cop on the way home, the reason we live forever in a permanent status quo, the reason you nod patronizingly as you tell your master's ten-year-old daughter... na varein.

Hope.

That one day all this will change. What goes around comes around. As you sow, so shall you reap. Karma.

And yet, India is the only country capable of laughing in your face at your delusional reality. ‘What goes around...?’ Look around, she seems to say, at poverty, black money and corruption. ‘What goes around...’ Is something good people tell themselves because without their small lies and illusions, their worlds will sink into an abyss of hopelessness and cynicism.

And then, in the same breath, virgin-whore motherland hugs you to her bosom, pats your hair, the faint smell of coconut oil rising, strokes you under the chin as if to say... Now you see? Now you see why at the end of your journey, you will come back to me. When the curtain falls, and the applause is died down, and we have no more use for face makeup and costumes and canned laughter and constructed realities, this is where you will come. For truth. For beauty. For stark reality.

What will I miss from my homeland? From this welcoming beast that suckles lepers and benevolently tolerates parasites, us of fragmented minds and fragmented bodies, incomplete without a back to rest our legs on, without a dream to anchor our existence, without a hope to carry on for, without a stepping stone to step on.

What will I miss most?

All of it I suppose.

The benign servants, the well-meaning bystanders

The malignant cops, the corrupt officials, the leering roadside leches

The identity of self – that notion of ourselves only reflected through the ayah, the watchman, the dhobi, the autodriver

The undying optimism

The hope

The impossible possibilities

Of being oh so delicately poised in the vortex of paradoxes

Of seeing the truth and not seeing it

Of knowing and not knowing

Of hoping despite the hopelessness

Of being servant-master, husband-wife, virgin-whore, mother-father

Of the joy of holding your life so lightly, of knowing full well that tomorrow it might be blown like so much dust, blood and mangled metal with the next influx of extremists, nay, lackadaisical bureaucrats, nay, sleak-tongued crooks in suits that come knocking on your door grinning their lopsided toothsome grin, as if to say, arre sorry baba… what to do… you know the drill nah… and then cock one’s head apologetically, shrug one’s shoulder and unload a barrel into one’s skull.

The knowledge, the liberating knowledge, that there is no law, no law enforcement, no justice, no justice system, no system - of any kind - in India. That we survive by the skin of our teeth and the quick of our wits.

That should we fail - lose money, lose status, lose faith - that we are supported by blood-ties and families, not dole or rehab or government programs.

That should we falter, there always is a way - a bribe, a threat, a folded prayer to golden idol, a name dropped like a gold coin clanking against the tin cup of red tape and bureaucracy.

That should we fall, in the streets, in society, in standing, there always is that human ambulance of well-wishers and curious passerbys, that gathering crowd of mob well-meaningness who take on your battles as their own, beat up that chain-snatcher, take that woman to the hospital, climb into that pit.

That unshakable belief, that we will always have the kindness of strangers to rely on.

I will miss it all. The dirt, grime and unspeakable beauty that is India, and leaving it behind for clean pavements, orderly queues, and hand sanitizers.

I'm tired.

And insomnia is but like everything else.

This too shall pass.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A round-up of the various coffee houses in Chennai

And I am doing this because

1) It’s time for a new blog post

2) I am bored and I cannot sleep

3) For the greater good.

With that fine preamble, let’s start off with (surprise, surprise) a round-up of the various coffee houses in Chennai.

Disclaimer: all opinions are mine and mine alone. Any resemblance to any actual fact, truth or otherwise coherent statement with grammatical syntax intact is purely coincidental and delusionary. In fact, you’re delusionary for reading this blog. Your mum’s delusionary.

Ergo, we begin:

Coffee day

Confucius say, wherever there coffee day, there noisy fifteen-year olds with too tight jeans and too high voice.

Confucius also drank tea and kept dropping his auxiliary verbs, which is why he is 6 feet under in China, while I am sipping my third mocha latte with delightfully non-tea-stained lips. Coffee day is where one goes if one’s idea of drinking coffee also includes the experience of having one’s eardrums shattered by insanely high levels of voice decibel – that is, those partial remains of your eardrums which have not already been torn apart by the super-high-turbo-charged-what-the-fuck-are-you-fucking-insane volume level of the TV.

This is assuming you still have control of your auditory senses and are not in apoplectic shock after having your visual senses assaulted by overweight fifteen year olds of indiscriminate gender in clothes either too tight to contain all that puppy fat (yeah, darling, keep telling yourself that. It’s not you. It’s the jeans. This relationship is not working out.) Or too loose to accurately judge the location of said fifteen year old’s posterior for the purpose of landing a well-placed kick. And of course there’s the fact that his bling-bling belt is about to take your eye out with all the fierceness of a total solar eclipse viewed through the Hubble telescope.

Like I said... CCD is all about the experience. Replete with apathetic waiter who goes that extra special mile to ensure everyone at your table gets exactly what they ordered, except you. It’s nice to feel special. Remind me to send him a vial of syphilis in the mail as a token of my appreciation.

CCD has also taken great pains to ensure that you never have to grow up as one of those traumatised kids who never had a CCD on your block, and therefore could not channel all his creative energies into a more productive outlet – like say wearing tight jeans and hanging out with your peeps y’all – and went on to become a socially-underdeveloped CCD-deprived adult who killed 47 people and one frightened goat as a consequence. Motivated by such altruistic intentions, the powers that be at CCD have planted one outlet roughly every 5 meters. It is rumoured that there are more CCDs in India than there are sheep in Australia. (But we all know what those weirdos do with their sheep, whereas we with our CCDs.... oh nevermind.)

Bottomline: if you like the prospect of paying 17 times that you would at your local tea-kadai for the same cup of tea, plus the sublime prospect of waiting roughly, oh I don’t know, 6700 times the usual waiting time, plus pimply fifteen-year-old eye-candy, plus one brain-damaged waiter absolutely free with that cup of ice blueberry crush that you did not order and he mistakenly heard instead of masala tea, then this is definitely the place for you.

Barista

This is where it at for y’all bitches who too old to hang out at CCD, yo – Old Jungle Saying.

According to tribal folklore, it is believed that in some cultures, the elder of the family when anticipating the nearing of his hour of death, will choose to spend his last remaining breath in the company of his peers. And voila, Barista was born.

Wherever you find old people, you will find a Barista not too far behind, clogging their aortas one Death by Chocolate at a time. Barista derives its name from Bar (meaning heaven, in Esperanto) and Ista (meaning, the-hot-19-year-old-I-married-the-night-I-got-drunk-in-Vegas-and-decided-this-whole-filthy-rich-octagenarian-oil-baron-thing-aint-as-cracked-up-as-it-used-to...grhahguhnghurngrrungrrhg*choke sputter die*.) Which together form a heavenly place where old people assemble to ogle over nubile young things, except minus the nubile young things. In fact, how about we just minus anything that needs to be preceded by the word young?

Everything about Barista is old. In fact, their tagline is “We’re old”. In order to cater to a younger demographic, their new-and-improved tagline now reads, “Yo dawg, we old, and don’t you forget it, I was alive during the Partition, aight?”

Their sandwiches are old....that is, whatever is remaining of the 1.47 sandwiches on display out of the 67 varieties cheerfully advertised on their menu. Of course, the waiter is in no position to point out the oldness of said sandwich on account of being senile and visually-impaired and therefore unable to correctly identify the particularly virulent strain of mould growing on one side of the sandwich in an uncanny resemblance to Mother Mary. Somewhere out there, there is a lost and confused religious nut on eBay who does not know what he is missing.

The chairs are old. The tables are old. The patrons are old. I would even say the tablecloths they wipe the tables with are old except carbon-dating can only go back so much and I would not want to needlessly slander any reputed establishment here. After all, one takes great pride in the veracity of one’s arguments.

In a move to cater to the more mature audience and ‘working’ professional, Barista introduced wi-fi in its cafes by way of a 14.4kbps modem salvaged from the Tateless Museum of Ancient History. Most of the time I am told it is not working however, and therefore I am unable to comment on the efficiency of this fabled device. It is rumoured however that it does exist, and at least one patron has claimed to have seen this holy grail of a device when it was used to prop up a wobbly table.

Verdict: if you are '>' 97 years of age and '<' age of the universe plus 2, then this is the place for you.

Amethyst

Tagline: We’re slow and we’re rude. So stop your bitchin’ and moanin’.

Amethyst is the first coffee house to have replaced their ‘Rights of admission apply’ board with a more apt ‘Entry for masochists only.’

It is rumoured that Andrew Wiles proved Fermat’s last theorem while waiting for his lemon tart. It is rumoured that Edison accidentally invented the light bulb while waiting for his Garden salad. It is rumoured that one Mr Satya Narayanan sat at this very table, met his beautiful wife, fathered 11 children, lost one to bubonic plague, went on to become a miracle-healer of some repute, all while waiting for his Chilli Cheese Toast – which arrived burnt.

The secret behind Amethyst’s shockingly fast turnaround time lies in their painful adherence to details. When pressed, the waiters were kind enough to tell me the wait is because they ensure all food is prepared fresh. I went to the kitchen to investigate myself, and lo and behold! They were right.

There was the cook planting the seeds for what would soon grow into a lemon tree and yield delightfully fresh lemons that shall be squeezed into the most delicious lemonade. There was the cook’s assistant tenderly fondling an egg about to hatch and that would subsequently be raised into a full-grown chicken, perfect for my main course. There was the four-month old bouncing Brazillian boy being tenderly raised under the watchful eye of the culinary staff for the day when he shall go out into the wilderness and brave the coffee-plantations of Brazil, for only the choicest coffee beans to be put into my coffee cake.

Such dedication to service.

So much dedication in fact that they are always striving to find way to serve us better. Like the time when my friend pulled his chair a little to the side so he could perhaps not have to face 1/6th of my ear while talking, and was gently told by a concerned waiter that he was blocking the waiter’s path and may definitely continue to be seated there if he so wished to get tripped on and splattered with a tray of very hot, greasy food. Such tact is rare in one so young.

Or the board at the store that gently reminds us that speed and accuracy are two mutually exclusive phenomena with the polite request to “Kindly allow us adequate time to bill all your items accurately.”

Such niceness is not lost on the people of Chennai. One day, we shall pay back in kind. As soon as I get my bill.

Verdict: Good time-pass. Literally.

Anokhi

Tagline: the peaceful abode of mosquitoes. And some humans.

Deep in the jungles of Madras, lived a hoard of peace-loving mosquitoes. Eminent anthropologists refer to them in different names like pests, blood-sucking vampires, disease-spreading nuisance etc. These mosquito tribes were concentrated in the northern region of Boat Club area, around Saint Mary’s road, in a small cafe of concentrated flora and fauna, completely detached from the outside world of modernity. These tribes led a long conventional way of living, maintaining their cultural and social heritage intact from the influences of modern day trends.

Till one day, the city man came and brought with him his tumblers of steel, his pots of instant coffee, his counters of polished white marble-top. And he razed and plundered and he raped the land and erected his bastions of trade. Soon followed wrought-iron chairs and tiny triangular menu cards. A retail store of some colourful knick-knacks and baubles. Fluorescent lights of the energy-saving kind. Even that dreaded concoction – herbal hibiscus lemon mint tea.

To add to it, these citadels of commerce brought myriads of patrons to the place. These new entrants broke the peace of this hitherto sheltered mosquito community and created ecological disturbances that rapidly led to a huge degradation in the numbers of the Anopheles clan peacefully cohabitating in the cafe thereby severely upsetting the delicate ecological balance. The period that followed were troubled times for these endangered tribes.

Till one day, Plasmodium Anophelia, an elder of the tribe decided to fight back against the evil that the city man invited upon their community and take back what was rightfully theirs. The entire mosquito community rallied in an act of solidarity that came to mark the beginning of the Sucky Mutiny, also known as the First War of Anopheles Independence.  In this great and bloody war, large numbers of the Anopheles clan were wiped out – their numbers were mighty, but their primitive proboscises no match for the technologically advanced weaponry of the city-dwellers. In face of such WMDs like baygon spray and mortein mosquito coil, the mosquito tribes were forced to adapt and mutate in order to grow genetically stronger and take on the menace of these two-legged city-dwellers more effectivel. It is rumoured that Anokhi cafe was the birth-place of such highly-advanced innovative biological warfare like Chikunguinea and Dengue fever – offered free with every plate of Chicken and pea soup served at the cafe.

As we speak, deep in the recesses of Madras, the bloody war wages on. And the outcome of this – would man conquer beast, or shall the insects inherit the earth – only time will tell. Still such time as a conclusion is reached, there will always be those who boldly venture into such war-ravaged areas to bring you reports from the battle zone. And perhaps a couple of lattes to go, while she’s at it.

Verdict: A good place to donate some blood. And drink some coffee.

Coming soon:

JC’s cafe

Mocha

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Learnings at work


Managing people is not easy. The last two weeks have given me cause for introspection and some self-analysis. I’ve been thinking about work, different working cultures, different individual personalities and all the little intangibles that we confront everyday in the workplace. I wonder if there is a better way to manage things, or if just some things are tougher than others.

This last week I’ve been dealing with minor issues at work. On its own not significant, and stemming largely from people’s individual personalities and the differences between working styles. But like some things, this is one of those where the sum is larger than its parts, and adding up all the little anomalies leads to a picture of a workforce that is slowly losing its cohesiveness and collective efficiency and fragmenting itself into little serfdoms. The problem is not with work per se, or their working abilities or efficiency; it’s more of how they work, and how they work with each other.

I think I learnt that wherever possible, while selecting a person for a task, pick attitude over ability. Of course, finding the right person who’s got the right mix of both is ideal... but such people are so rare! That said, it’s awesome that a lot of core people I work with have exactly that golden balance. I guess professional maturity is something innate, and no amount of training can infuse that delicate balance of competence, common sense, self-secured-ness (is that the word?) in their own abilities and openness to personal growth and learning.

Before I embarked on my own venture, I learnt a lot from shadowing my father and watching him run a successful business. Especially in an organization like his/ours where we take them in young, and really dedicate a lot of resources to their personal and professional growth and training, I guess all that investment in their future does come back in good ways, whether it is in keeping attrition low, or in extracting the best out of our employees.

I always try to put people in their comfort zones, and capitalize on their strengths rather than focus on their opportunities for growth. This is something I realised on my own, and it was quite a realization although in hindsight it seems really obvious. I guess not everyone is wired the same, and whereas I get bored easily and always seek new challenges and opportunities for learning, some people are very comfortable dealing with issues they have experience handling. Luckily, I learnt not to fall into that trap of assuming everyone has the same working style, attitude to work or skillset as me, and have avoided making assumptions about how different people will look at a particular issue and whether they will take it in the right spirit or not. The problems happen when their job profile does not allow for a high level of autonomy or seclusion, and this is where interpersonal skills and communication abilities come into play.  

My dad once told me about an incident when he was at B school. It was during a class on negotiations, and during the exercise his two classmates pitted against each other literally went in for the kill. Aggressive and ruthless, they were both extremely focused on extracting the best possible scenario for themselves out of the interaction. He said it was one of the most intensive and stimulating sessions. When the class was over, the two of them headed to the basketball court to shoot ball like nothing happened. “Americans”, he said, “understand it’s not personal. Work is work.” How I wish it was the same here, and we could just focus on work and not waste time in detangling frivolous issues that just sap energy.

There were so many times during this project I just wanted to quit, where I got beaten down, and disillusioned that instead of running a dynamic, energetic young team... here I was using up the major part of my working day dealing with people problems and managing egos. You would think someone with that many years of work experience and formal training in a corporate culture would exhibit professional maturity. But most problems I face while managing issues boil down to some people personalizing trivial issues, and getting emotional in the face of constructive criticism. Why don’t people understand that a criticism is not a personal attack? And in this case, it was not even a criticism of their ability or dedication to work, but merely asking them to be a little more considerate of other people in the team whom they need to work with, not fight against to get their way.

I suppose I need to evaluate my own sense of leadership while dealing with people problems. One thing I am thankful for is that I do not have incompetent people on my team; everyone here brings with them their own special set of skills and expertise and is truly committed to taking the vision forward. The problem is... whose vision? The company’s or the individual’s? I am still working on getting people more and more aligned with the company’s vision and culture, and I believe the best way to do that is through dialogue and free-flowing communication. It’s not been easy, but here’s hoping we eventually get there.

For my part, I try to impart some kind of training to all my employees and team members. We do interactive training modules, we do brainstorming sessions, we do knowledge sharing meetings... and it all adds up to trying to infuse the same spirit of enthusiasm, ownership and synergy within the company. It all adds up to getting everyone on the same page. Wherever possible, through my own actions as an example, and explicitly I have always expressed the need for open and honest communication, transparency and sharing of info. And I remain accessible to everyone within the organization, and again this is something I learnt from my dad, where he’s shown me how people feel reassured and secure and give more in their jobs when they know that if they have issues with their immediate superior, they can always approach someone higher and the company will do right by them. I suppose the biggest deterrent I face here is with people who have worked in a different organizational culture and are resistant to change.

I guess change will happen with time. And I guess I need more patience. If I am the one people look to for guidance, then I should be the one setting an example by staying cool and playing my part with tact and resolve. Perhaps I should a) focus on the positive things and be happy that at least the problems aren’t stemming from incompetence b)  understand that egos are fragile things, and everyone just looks for appreciation and recognition in the workplace, and I need to congratulate them when they do deliver, and package my criticism better. It’s a fine balance; I hope I get there soon and am able to articulate my criticisms as clearly, succinctly and constructively as possible without getting annoyed with the other person’s defensive attitude.

Sometimes I wonder how my father manages a taskforce of 1500-odd employees, each with their own take on how best to fulfil his duties. I guess a lot of my dad’s working style has been shaped in part by his days at H, in part from his years of experience working in this industry and in part arising from his own innate leadership skills. I hope some of that has rubbed off on me. I am lucky to have had something much better than just formal training and years of work exp: a mentor.

A friend and B school graduate once said the best thing she learnt at B school were the people skills. Working with that many competent, intelligent, ambitious young people on the same problem where the ‘right’ answer is often ambiguous can be challenging. If anything, it teaches one diplomacy and tact while getting to the solution of a problem collectively and by utilising every member’s strengths. I hope I come out of B school a better boss, better team player and a better person. 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

One step forward, one step back.

Today I feel like I have one foot firmly in the past and one firmly in my future and I’m being tugged along two different paths, down nostalgia in one direction and the great, wild unknown in the other, and somehow somehow magically in a Neil-Gaiman-esque fantasy way, both these paths will bring me to exactly the same place. Kind of like infinity and negative infinity (see, I know being a geek would come in handy sometime :D ) It’s like I am on the verge of some grand, fantastical plan and I’m peering into the endless possibilities of the future through the fog of my past.  

Today I am seeing my grandparents after one year. A feud has fragmented our (extended) family into little islands of unsocial beings, and for these and other reasons, I have not had the opportunity to meet them or some others for the last one year. Sometimes I wonder at man’s capacity to be pigheaded and if all those years of stoic conviction and missed interactions is really worth it in the end.

Today is also the day I just returned from a week-long trip to Boston. This trip was essentially a chance for me to catch a glimpse of life at the two Bs – Boston and Business school. A place I will soon call home, and an experience I will plunge into headlong in less than 4 months.

I had always thought of Boston as this Americanized vision of London, a teeming cultural and academic centre of vibrancy and life. This city does after all house some of the best institutions of learning. As a cultural centre, I’ve heard enough and more about its patron-of-the-arts status (Good music and theatre, here I come!) And of course, the city is steeped in historical and cultural significance. I went in looking to find an American version of London. Well, I wasn’t too off – except about the London part. I think perhaps it’s time I realize London is unparalleled and no matter where I spend my nights, that place will always feel more like home than home ever did, and I should give up trying to find the next best thing. Sigh. Here’s to finally letting go…

With that out of the way, here’s the deal with Boston. I like it. There’s something about brick houses and empty trees coated with a fine dust of snow. (Note to self: Never ever go trampling about in the snow in silly cloth converse shoes; they turn your toes blue) What with the work frenzy just before I left, I think my mind really was completely somewhere else till I landed in the states. But on the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel it finally hit me; This is the place I will soon be calling home. And that realization was so sudden it jerked me out of my dazed reverie and made me quietly put away the blackberry, and sit up and take note.

Boston is a tiny city. Somehow I expected something colossal, perhaps not on the scale of New York or Paris or London, but at least Madras. Madras may not have much to do 1, but at least it’s big-ish. Not in an unweilding Mumbai-traffic sort of way, or in an unsafe-and-peppered-by-rural-ghettos-Delhi-ish way, but in a rather nice, balanced goldilocks sort of traffic and size manner. Boston on the other hand is not teeming with people, not teeming with traffic (at least none that I saw, not like Bangalore or Bombay at any rate) and with clean air and cleaner sidewalks. It’s... different. I guess it will take some time getting used to.

Which brings us to the other B: B-school. Walking down Soldiers Field, past the dorms, through Baker’s library, lounging about at Spangler, taking pictures standing on the ice outside... suddenly my dad tells me how being here brings back so many memories. While he’s busy reminiscing some of his best times and buying T-shirts at the coop, I’m wondering if I’ll fit in. Suddenly it’s the first day of school all over again.

I suppose I never thought I would be one to ever experience culture shock. But then again, Boston is not London, and HBS is not Anna. The only thing Church Park, Anna and HBS have in common is that they’re all donkeys’ years old and ‘legacy and heritage’ institutions – 200 years, 200 years, and 100 years. Oh yeah, and all the brick buildings. All of a sudden, being 24 seems a lot younger than I feel.

That’s one of the first things that struck me: how young everyone felt. And this had nothing to do with age, everyone from the professors to the admin working at HBS are really active and do go out of their way to make you comfortable and answer any doubts you may have. I’ve never expected to meet anything but bureaucracy and cold indifference at an academic institution. I think I was taken aback by all of the sudden effervescence.

I can handle chaos in the streets, mad work days and sudden, unplanned work trips but when it comes to actual work/learning... I like everything laid out, a German precision in preparing for exams and no ‘fat’ when it comes to classroom discussions. I make a conscious effort to be very controlled at work, and that lets me be mad and spontaneous in other creative pursuits. So when the two worlds collide and I see a more relaxed, fun and sociable environment creeping into my clinical world of ‘work’, it rattles me. I’ll get used to it I suppose. In time.

Another incident that gave me something to think about was sitting in at a class. The class was great, the subject they were tackling was really interesting and everyone was charged up and energized – I’ve never seen a classroom that proactive and engaged before.  But the most perplexing thing was the comments and the actual class discussion. The professor was superlative in guiding the class discussion and reaching a solution collectively, but he did not discourage any comments. Most of the comments were very relevant but some only peripherally so, and were almost like commentary. This was my first ‘shock’ at HBS.

Coming from Anna, most of the instruction was lecture-based, and of course I’ve been lucky to have had some absolutely spectacular professors. We did have tutorial classes, those once-a-week periods that were dedicated for discussion and problem-solving and reflecting on what we have learnt this past week. During these discussions – and in some regular classes too – we’d tackle problems collectively; but mediocrity was really discouraged. If you had something to say, and it was an epiphany, or progressed the discussion down the right path (and you were absolutely sure you were right) or highlighted a critical flaw in the approach so far, or highlighted an infinitely more optimal way of arriving at the same conclusion... then you spoke up. If what you had to say merely added flavour to the discussion but was not deemed ‘vital’, then one was best advised to keep it to oneself. Here however I found the tables turned, and everyone was encouraged to participate.

At first I was a little annoyed, and wondering why on earth I would want to waste my 80 minutes of precious class time listening to pointless, obvious comments... but then I spoke to a friend who moved to the US twenty years ago when he was my age. What he had to say put things in a new light. What I witnessed in that classroom is probably indicative of American culture in general and their approach to work and learning. Small talk is big in America. No one really gets straight to the point and walks away when their job in done; if they do, they’re viewed as unsociable. I took a while to digest this information.... and thinking back I guess he was right and if this class served to train one in this country’s way of problem-solving, then I guess they’re placing emphasis on the right things by allowing students to really get a rounded education, and not just treat the class as a vessel to cram as much information into passive receivers. I think I will like it here; if I come in with an open mind and try not to get too many “culture shocks”. You know the old saying, when in Rome... pick up a fiddle and start fiddling.

The other thing that I found odd was the number of people who kept congratulating me throughout the day. Faculty, admin, students, you name it; everyone was about clapping, and congratulating and pats-on-backs and being cheerful and optimistic and energetic. Every time I heard someone say, ‘don’t worry, you’ll be fine’ for every doubt raised, I had a mini-panic attack. Don’t get me wrong: its a good thing – and rare – to find people that genuinely charged up and loving what they’re doing. I just wish someone would grab me and say, “Look, I’m not going to lie to you. This isn’t pessimism, its reality. It’s tough and you’re gonna have a hard time here. So brace yourself, and work hard.”

I can’t believe I’m actually worrying about slacking off at Harvard (if such a thing were possible!) but I wish people would stop saying ‘don’t worry’ all the time. But yes, these are early days yet, and really just my first taste of things to come. I’m sure all of that will change and soon I will be wishing I hadn’t wished for it. Or adapt to my new environment – which is also a good thing.

So there we go: fear, hope, worry, excitement, energy, nostalgia and optimism all bundled into one 5’4 frame. But I suppose the more frightful – and exciting – thing is my business venture, and watching the dream that I’ve nurtured and worked on for two years now finally culminating in a launch less than two weeks away. After that, I guess HBS would be icing on the cake.

Here’s to new beginnings. And nostalgic endings.

Note:

 1 – Depends on what you consider ‘much’. It’s pretty much the seat of culture, with kutcheri-hopping, classical dance and performance in general finding a hugely appreciative and loyal following here. For the more ‘anglicized’ victims like me, there’s a fairly good theatre scene and lots of individuals who are trying to breathe some new life into an old city. And then there’s the beach. Personally I’ve loved spending a lazy Sunday with a book at a café overlooking the sea. The shore is where I go every time I feel blue (pun unintended!) And then of course, there’re lots of ‘hidden’ gems like Amethyst and Anokhi that provides the perfect place to lounge about. Come to think of it…. Madras does have a lot.

I suppose my only gripe is with people here. Conservative, nosy, close-minded and tight-lipped (except when it comes to talking about who’s wife’s sister’s daughter was seen sharing a coffee with which uncle’s brother’s son) and let’s not forget all the self-righteous moral policing. I suppose one could argue that Moral-policing happens anywhere in India (a friend of mine has currently set her status message to TALIBANgalore and I don’t think she’s too off the mark), but I also suppose Madras is the only city that wholeheartedly supports such activity with a tch-tch-they-had-it-coming-attitude. And oh yes, there are no shops. None. Unless you want to gorge on gold jewellery and silk saris, in which case, knock yourself out.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sheba


“Schrödinger was a son of a bitch” she said.

I was in the middle of crushing. I didn’t appreciate her theorizing all over my hard-pressed labour. I decided to humour her anyway.

“Why is that”

“He forgot a simple scientific fact.”

I proceeded to crush the tiny green leaves under my calloused thumbs.

“All cats”, she spat in a spitting way obviously irked by my disinterest, “have nine lives.”

 I nodded. This was the problem with Sheba. She thought she was the granddame on the fundamental theories of physics. I have yet to break the news to her that she was hallucinating. She wasn’t a cat. In fact, she wasn’t even remotely feline.

“Let me do that,” she purred in her fake cat voice and sidled over to where I was sitting. It was hard to concentrate on what I was doing when Sheba started sidling and purring and bending over in that very fake-catlike manner of hers. She ran her tongue all along the side of the paper, rolled it, lit it and put it between her lips. I watched my hard work go up in smoke as she sat there with her big fat Cheshire-cat grin.

“So,” she said between puffs, “what’s this I hear about it all ending tonight.”

“You’re not in it.”

“I was in your last one.”

“That wasn’t you.”

“Well, it sure as hell wasn’t your ex-wife, she was as flat as a cutting board.”

“Mm-hmm.”

I decided to just agree with everything Sheba said. It was the only way to shut her off. I went back to my computer and started up from where I had left it.

I’d been working on this novel for nine years. It’s finally here. This where it all ends, tonight. My fingers began to itch. It meant something monumental was up.  

“Speaking of your ex-wife” she said stubbing the last of her joint into the mahogany table, “I saw her with her lover today.”

I tried to ignore Sheba. She disappeared into the kitchen and I heard the clanking of ice upon glass. She came back and leaned against the desk. She placed a small glass of rum and coke on the table by the computer. She knows I don’t like ice. There were two cubes swishing in there. I took a swig.

“So what happens to him?”

“I can’t say.”

“You might as well. Or I’ll just come back later when you’re asleep and read everything you wrote.”

“Good. So then you’ll know.”

“You should make him fly, you know.”

“You should mind your own business, you know.”

She pushed the glass on to my lap. I picked up a napkin lying nearby and dabbed the inside of my jeans. These were new. I picked up the empty glass from the carpet and placed them on the desk again. I needed to finish this tonight.

Sheba was sulking on the sofa. She had lit herself another one and was cradling a drink. One of these days I need to tell her she’s not a cat. I also need to get her to stop stealing all of my drinks and cigarettes. But not today. Today was His day.

My bones were tingling. I’ve been watching him for nine years now. I spawned him, followed him, dissected every action of his insignificant life in minute detail. I knew how he liked his coffee in the morning, what shampoo he used, the length of his inside leg. I felt a little like God. Or the Devil. I’m not sure which. I get confused.

“So what’s going to happen to him?”

She was slurring now. I bet she’s gone through another bottle of rum already. I need to hide them better the next time. I don’t know how she always manages to find them.

“You’ll know when I’m done.”

“You’ve been saying that for nine years.”

“Yeah? So what’s nine more.”

She came up to the computer and perched herself on the edge. She was going to strip now, I knew it. That was always her way of getting attention.

“That’s another thing. Nine. Why nine lives? I mean, why not ten? Or seventeen?”

“You’re not happy with nine? Most of us just get one life.”

“Yeah, but one is fine. It’s like...” she started curling and uncurling her fingers in the air as though snatching as an elusive invisible word hanging in the ether “...meaningful, you know? Nine is just arbitrary.”

“So is 34.”

“What’s 34?”

“The length of his inside leg.”

“I thought it was your age.”

“You’re off by nine years.”

“43?”

“25.”

“You look 43.”

“Thanks, I love you too.”

She sat back looking smug and starting drinking again. Things were really happening now. Words were flying out of my fingers like lightning bolts slicing through a muddle of unrealized eventualities. I should have been Zeus. I can so carry off a toga.

 “Getting somewhere huh?”

She had been silent for some time. I forgot she was still here. I was amazed she was still awake given the amount she’d drunk.

“Mm-hmm.”

“Want a smoke?”

“No.”

“Fine. I’ll get it myself.”

There were days when I wished Sheba would disappear. Like today. She was being irritable and cranky and breaking my concentration. Somedays I wished I never created her.

“I met you during my second.”

“Lover?”

“No, silly. Life.”

“Yes, that makes so much more sense. Seeing how you’re not really a cat and you’ve only had one life, and a shit one at that.”

“I could be a cat.”

“You’re not.”

She sighed loudly. She was getting whiny, I could tell she was getting whiny by the length of her sighs.

“You’re being a real bitch today, you know”

“Right back atcha, kid.”

She banged the empty glass loudly on the table and stomped noisily to the kitchen. That was her way of showing she was not amused. I got back to my writing.

The novel was a saga. At least, it was 700 pages long, and by my standards that qualified as a saga. The protagonist was male, and he drank and he smoked and he whored around. He was also slowly going insane. No one knew this, but of course I knew this. I had to know; I created him.

“What do I have to do with anything.”

She was back. I had gotten used to the comfortable clattering of the keys amidst the silence of the room – something she shattered with her whininess.

“What do I have to do with anything?” she asked again.

“You don’t.”

“Then why am I here?”

‘You’re not.”

“Fuck you.”

“Fuck you back.”

“What are you, like, twelve?”

I didn’t look up from the computer. I was on a roll here.

“Maybe I’m here.... so I can fly.”

She was getting that wistful tone into her voice again. That never bodes well.

“You can’t fly.”

“You can make me fly.”

“No. I can make you disappear. It’s not the same thing.”

“If you can make me disappear, why haven’t you already?”

Sheba was really starting to annoy me. Sometimes she sounded just like mom. Especially when her voice hit that annoyingly mocking nasal-tone. It was like she knew she’s hit a nerve, but didn’t know exactly which nerve, and so will go on digging and digging and digging like trying to pick at a splinter with a pair of boxing gloves. And she’ll do it till I make her stop. Or drink myself to oblivion.

I reached out for the glass by the computer. It was filled with rum again. Neat, this time. She must’ve gone into the kitchen and fetched it for me. There was ice floating in it again. I gulped it down and set the empty glass on the table, cubes clinking against each other.

“Most writers I know always have their characters under control.”

“You don’t know any writers.”

“I know you.”

“Right.”

“And you’re not a writer.”

“Whatever you say.”

She was starting to give me a headache. I reached for the bottle of rum.

“So how’s the story coming?”

“Fine, till you interrupted.”

“I’m just eager to know the ending, that’s all.”

“You’ll get there.”

“Am I in it?”

“If you’re nice, I’ll put you in.”

That seemed to put her in a good mood. She settled in quietly nestling her drink and cigarette. Every time she comes home she litters the place with ashes. I tried telling her to use the ashtray. I gave up after she set my curtains on fire.

I could feel the end beating upon me. It was like this dark, looming thing just at my throat. I hadn’t realized how excited I was. Even I didn’t know what how it was going to end.

“Why does he always die?”

Sheba had woken up from her drunken half-daze.

“Who?”

“Your protagonists. Why do they always die?”

“Protagonist. Singular. And I never said he was going to die.”

“He is anyway... the rate he’s going.”

“Thanks for your insights.”

The headache was returning. I couldn’t find the glass. She must’ve taken it away when I hadn’t noticed.

“You drink too much, John.”

“Thanks for caring.”

“I don’t.”

I was furiously typing at the keyboard. Maybe the noise of the keys would drown out that dull throbbing ache in my head.

“Do you ever go back to read what you wrote?”

“No. Will do that later. When I’m finished.”

“I’ve read it.”

“Good for you.”

“I read it every night. After you sleep.”

“Mm-hmm.”

I tried to concentrate through the haze of pain. It’s never been this bad before. I can’t stop now. I pushed myself to continue writing.

“We’re out of cigarettes, John.”

“Fetch yourself a drink.”

“We’re out of that too.”

“Buy some.”

“We’re out of money, John.”

Almost there. If I could just block her nagging voice out of my head. She, it, that.... all of it. With the pain. I can sense the end drawing near.

“John.”

I ignored her and continued typing.

“John.”

Man, she’s persistent.

“John...” she purred. She put her fingers on my arms and started stroking it. Sheba could be good for things like that.

“It’s not going to end tonight, John.”

“Yes, it will.”

“Yes, it will. Just not the way you think.”

She was drinking from the bottle.

“I thought you said we were out of drinks.”

“We are. We’ve been out for nine years now.”

“I see.”

She wasn’t making any sense. I decided to ignore her again and finish my story.

“You drank yourself into a coma. This is limbo, John. “

This was her way of being melodramatic. She was always one for dramatic pauses and grand statements. And now she was standing there stark naked with a bottle in her hand and making these ominous statements. I wish she’d stop making that infernal racket so I can hear myself think. My fingers wouldn’t stop and all the words were coming out wrong. This is not what I wanted.

“You’re not writing a novel, John. You just think you are. You’ll been typing the same sentence everyday for nine years now, where do you think this story is going?”

Sheba is drunk and she’s fucking with my mind. If I could get her to shut up and get back in the story everything would be fine. She insists on talking to me. I wonder if all writers have this problem.

“Make him fly john.” She pleaded.

I stop. And look at the blinking cursor. There. One sentence. I was one sentence away from an ending. The entire novel has been one sentence. Was it a good sentence, I wonder. Too late to tell now. At least I created Sheba.

“Make him fly...” she whispers. Her voice is barely audible right now. She’s stroking my arm again, the way I like it. She’s drunk so much her body starts to shift shape like it always does when she drinks too much. This is the end, I think; she will finally be freed from limbo.

I leave the last sentence half-finished. There’s a dot missing at the end of the line. There’s a line missing at the end of the line. It’s alright. She’ll probably finish it in her next life.

I open the window and stand in front of it. Sheba climbs on my back. It’s a little like Schrödinger’s cat I think and laugh at the irony. Or maybe not. At this point, I can’t tell. I’m just relieved it’s over.

I leap. And Sheba spreads her wings. What do you know, she wasn’t lying after all. She flies with me into the darkness till we reach so high I can’t breathe. I always knew she wasn’t a cat. 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Send in the clones

In the summer of 1997, the Tamil Nadu government initiated efforts to introduce sex education into the school curriculum. This highly controversial move sparked a dramatic reaction from all fractions of the academic world, not to mention a whole slew of worried parents and one very troubled sheep.

Is this rot what they are teaching our kids in schools these days, one man asked, whatever happened to good old differential equations in the third degree. Another protested, sex is against Indian culture. To which the man next to him replied, how do you explain the one billion then? To which the former, after meditating long and hard on the seeming conundrum, replied – mitosis! This then sparked a nation-wide debate on stress-altered reproductive behavior and DNA replication in certain species, in which many noted zoologists, biologists, sociologists and one shady man in an oversized coat who kept winking at the female gynecologist and no one really know what he was there for, partook. But that is another story.

Amidst much public outcry and protests that this move would expedite the moral degradation of the general public, the government decided to still go ahead with this landmark decision in the history of Indian education. The education minister at the time, Ms Saswati Padhayeeiks, affectionately nicknamed ‘eeks’ by the opposition party members, had only this to say to all the dissenting fractions of the general public, ‘Because I say so’.

The delicate task of exposing young minds for the first time, to the concept of reproductive behavior and the actual mechanics of it, was one that warranted a great deal of tact, delicacy and an innate understanding of the actual subject matter under review. Selecting the person most suited for executing this task would be of paramount importance. After reviewing several thousand noted personalities from all walks of life, by the end of that year, one Mr Allvais Reddy Foryakshun, was commissioned by the government of Tamil Nadu to assume this monumental undertaking.

The following papers are excerpts from a series of correspondence between Mr Allvais Reddy Foryakshun and the government of Tamil Nadu.

 --

To Ms. Saswati Padhayeeiks,

Minister for Education, Tamil Nadu


In accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Ministry of education, Tamil Nadu, I have executed my duties to the best of my abilities and have produced the following passage for inclusion in textbooks for the Matriculation stream, standard 10.

A brief introduction to sex:

 Reproduction is the fundamental feature of all life. Normal human reproduction occurs through sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse is the act in which the male reproductive organ, called the penis, enters the female reproductive tract, called the vagina. The primary goal of sex is to merge the sperm and egg to make a baby.

When a girl child is born, she has all the eggs her body will ever use stored in her ovaries. As she matures into puberty, her body begins producing various hormones that cause the eggs to mature. The ovaries release one egg about once a month. If the egg does not become fertilized by male sperm, the egg and the lining of the uterus drain out of the vagina. If the egg does become fertilized by male sperm from intercourse, it will attach itself to the lining of the uterus and grow into a baby.


Mr Allvais Reddy Foryakshun

BE, MS, MPHIL, PHD, BED, COT, MATTRESS.

--

 To Mr Allvais Reddy Foryakshun

BE, MS, MPHIL, PHD, BED, COT, MATTRESS.


After careful evaluation of your submission we feel that the subject matter under review would benefit from inviting inputs from other sources. After consultation with Ms Seskie Baybee, Director of the Indian Censor Board, it is our opinion that the language of the text should be scientific and educational in nature. Explicit vocabulary and suggestive writing should be avoided at all costs in order to safeguard the moral fibre of the country’s youth, especially since we are addressing a particularly impressionable populace. Please refer to the list of banned words as stated by the Indian Censor Board and find suitable scientific alternatives.


Ms. Saswati Padhayeeiks,

Minister for Education, Tamil Nadu

Ms. Seskie Baybee,

Director of the Indian Censor Board

 --

 

To Ms. Saswati Padhayeeiks,

Minister for Education, Tamil Nadu

 

In accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Ministry of education, Tamil Nadu, I have incorporated the recommended changes into the text and produced the following passage for inclusion in textbooks for the Matriculation stream, standard 10.

A brief introduction to sex:

Reproduction is the fundamental feature of all life. Normal human reproduction occurs through theactformerlyknownassex. Theactformerlyknownassex is the act in which the male reproductive organ enters the female reproductive tract. The primary goal of theactformerlyknownassex is to merge the seed and egg to make a baby.

 When a girl child is born, she has all the eggs her body will ever use stored in her thingamagig. As she matures into whachamacalit, her body begins producing various badabhimbadaboom that cause the eggs to mature. The thingamagig release one egg about once a month. If the egg does not become fertilized by whoopadedadoop, the egg and the lining of the dadadodedodum drain out of the female reproductive tract. If the egg does become fertilized by whoopadedadoop from theactformerlyknownassex, it will attach itself to the lining of the dadadodedodum  and grow into a baby.


Mr Allvais Reddy Foryakshun

BE, MS, MPHIL, PHD, BED, COT, MATTRESS.

--

 To Mr Allvais Reddy Foryakshun

BE, MS, MPHIL, PHD, BED, COT, MATTRESS.


After careful evaluation of your submission we feel that the subject matter under review would benefit from inviting inputs from other sources. After consultation with Ms Male Basheeng, Director of the National Commission for Woman, it is our opinion that the emotional aspects of reproduction have been largely ignored in the current text. We recommend highlighting the psychological and emotional aspects of reproduction from a female perspective.


Ms. Saswati Padhayeeiks,

Minister for Education, Tamil Nadu

Ms Male Basheeng,

Director of the National Commission for Woman

--

 To Ms. Saswati Padhayeeiks,

Minister for Education, Tamil Nadu


In accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Ministry of education, Tamil Nadu, I have incorporated the recommended changes into the text and produced the following passage for inclusion in textbooks for the Matriculation stream, standard 10.

A brief introduction to sex:

Reproduction is the fundamental feature of all life. Normal human reproduction occurs through theactformerlyknownassex. Theactformerlyknownassex is the act in which the male reproductive organ enters the female reproductive tract. The primary goal of theactformerlyknownassex is to merge the seed and egg to make a baby. Babies are wonderful. All women love babies. Only women have the power to increase the human race. They are sexy, sexy Von-Neumann machines 1.

When a girl child is born, she has all the eggs her body will ever use stored in her thingamagig. As she matures into whachamacalit, her body begins producing various badabhimbadaboom that cause the precious eggs to mature. The thingamagig release one egg about once a month. If the egg does not become fertilized by whoopadedadoop, the egg and the lining of the dadadodedodum drain out of the female reproductive tract in a normal but painful phenomenon that all women experience. This pain is rumored to be a mere 1/100th of the pain of actual childbirth. 

If the egg does become fertilized by whoopadedadoop from theactformerlyknownassex, it will attach itself to the lining of the dadadodedodum and grow into a baby, thanks to the awesome child-bearing powers of women. We must all worship women as testament to the pain they endure in the fulfillment of their noble duties to advance the human race.


Mr Allvais Reddy Foryakshun

BE, MS, MPHIL, PHD, BED, COT, MATTRESS.

 --

To Mr Allvais Reddy Foryakshun

BE, MS, MPHIL, PHD, BED, COT, MATTRESS.


After careful evaluation of your submission we feel that the subject matter under review would benefit from inviting inputs from other sources. After consultation with Mr Iyama Pansie, Director of the National Commission for Men, it is our opinion that the tonal quality of the text is too heavily female-oriented. In the interests of equality, we strongly recommend that you stress upon the indispensible role men play in the act of reproduction.


Ms. Saswati Padhayeeiks,

Minister for Education, Tamil Nadu

Mr Iyama Pansie,

Director of the National Commission for Men

--

 To Ms. Saswati Padhayeeiks,

Minister for Education, Tamil Nadu


In accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Ministry of education, Tamil Nadu, I have incorporated the recommended changes into the text and produced the following passage for inclusion in textbooks for the Matriculation stream, standard 10.

A brief introduction to sex:

 Reproduction is the fundamental feature of all life. Normal human reproduction occurs theactformerlyknownassex. Theactformerlyknownassex is the act in which the male reproductive organ enters the female reproductive tract. The primary goal of theactformerlyknownassex is to merge the seed and egg to make a baby. Babies are wonderful. All women love babies – especially male babies. Due to the limitations of medical advancements, currently only women have the power to increase the human race. They are sexy, sexy Von-Neumann machines.

 When a girl child is born, she has all the eggs her body will ever use stored in her thingamagig. As she matures into whachamacalit, her body begins producing various badabhimbadaboom that cause the precious eggs to mature. The thingamagig release one egg about once a month. If the egg does not become fertilized by whoopadedadoop, otherwise known as sacred man-milk which every red-blooded male possesses, the egg and the lining of the dadadodedodum drain out of the female reproductive tract in a normal but painful phenomenon that all women experience. This pain is rumored to be a mere 1/100th of the pain of actual childbirth. However, this pain is nothing compared to the pain of providing for the family – a noble task that all men undertake.

If the egg does become fertilized by the sacred man-milk through theactformerlyknownassex, it will attach itself to the lining of the dadadodedodum and and grow into a baby, thanks to the awesome child-bearing powers of women and the secret life-giving powers of man-milk. We must all worship women and genuflect at men as testament to the duties they undertake in their noble mission to advance the human race.


Mr Allvais Reddy Foryakshun

BE, MS, MPHIL, PHD, BED, COT, MATTRESS.

 --

To Mr Allvais Reddy Foryakshun

BE, MS, MPHIL, PHD, BED, COT, MATTRESS.


 After careful evaluation of your submission we feel that the subject matter under review would benefit from inviting inputs from other sources. After consultation with Sr Ivana Geddlaid, President of the National Catholics Educational Association, it is our opinion that the moral implications of the act of reproduction have been grossly underrepresented. We strongly recommend that you place emphasis on the spiritual aspects of this most holy act.


Ms. Saswati Padhayeeiks,

Minister for Education, Tamil Nadu

Sr Ivana Geddlaid,

President of the National Catholics Educational Association

--

To Ms. Saswati Padhayeeiks,

Minister for Education, Tamil Nadu


In accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Ministry of education, Tamil Nadu, I have incorporated the recommended changes into the text and produced the following passage for inclusion in textbooks for the Matriculation stream, standard 10.

 A brief introduction to sex:

Reproduction is the purpose of all life. Normal human reproduction only occurs after marriage. Only dogs have sex; humans have babies. Theactformerlyknownassex is the act in which mommy and daddy come together to make a baby. The primary goal of theactformerlyknownassex is make babies so that we can all marvel at God’s wonderful creation. Due to the designs of our lord and supreme master, only women have the power to increase the human race. They are pretty, pretty carriers of spiritual beings.

When a girl child is born, she has all the eggs her body will ever use. As she matures, her body undergoes mysterious changes that only God in his infinite wisdom can fathom. Only hell-fiends and infidels would try to uncover the magic of all creation through medical science.

When mommy and daddy indulge in holy union and consummate their marriage, a tiny miracle begins to grow inside mommy’s stomach, bearing testimony to the glory of God. When you grow up, please remember to get married and consummate your union. And finally: condoms are evil. Latex is made in hell, not China.


Mr Allvais Reddy Foryakshun

BE, MS, MPHIL, PHD, BED, COT, MATTRESS.

--

To Mr Allvais Reddy Foryakshun

BE, MS, MPHIL, PHD, BED, COT, MATTRESS.


After careful evaluation of your submission we feel that the subject matter under review is finally at a publishable level. However, it is my opinion that the text could still benefit from some further tweak and polish. I would suggest we meet in my office tonight to address the problem in hand. Looking forward to working closely with you, Mr Reddy Foryakshun.  


Ms. Saswati Padhayeeiks,

Minister for Education, Tamil Nadu

 --

Footnote:

1 – Extra cookie to anyone who can tell me what this is all about :D