Friday, July 17, 2009

of weekend trips and a thankful existence Part 1 (Mumbai)

6 months had gone by since I had allowed myself some respite. 4 months had passed since I had consumed the juice or the nucleus. I was just about finding that thin line between passion and cool objectivity. It was time for a break.

Bombay was everything and more- as it has always been. That Friday (the 19th) I checked my watch a few more times than usual over the course of the day. T was already in the maximum city living it up with a frenetic energy that would surprise anyone who knows her in D-town. Her excitement of jumping from one set of friends to another, one pair of shopped shoes to another and one exciting plan to the next had me smiling on the 6th floor of the climatically cooled environ of my india habitat centre office. I was also relieved with the knowledge that the creators would be together as I returned to the city of dreams for a weekend of unabashed relaxation. As I look back, we ended up doing a heck of a lot of things in the short period of time. I headed to the Blahs' right after landing in the now super cool bombay airport. A quick auto ride was accompanied by shrieks of ' get here fast' from a now 'well past her capacity 2 drinks' -T. It was going to be a long, fun night. Reunions with vesky, himank(an old @ friend) and ofcourse akhila along with a couple of jds were followed by a sprint down to HRC. Undoubtedly my favorite place in Bombay, the place was packed to the core. T's friends are an extremely warm and engaging bunch. I realized on this trip how lucky I was to be inducted into this 'scene'. Pure gems. When we finally wound up at the vintage, a bunch of us zipped off to a hotel in the vicinity for some midnight grub. There is nothing more pleasing than pulling off a 20 hour day in between cities with a club sandwich and comedic conversations. Plans had already started to get made for day 2.

Crashed at Niel's and woke relatively early on Saturday. His collection of nonsensical but inanely enjoyable magazines kept me occupied while he had his 4th dental check up in as many days. Note to self: take care of your teeth! The pain and suffering of future issues just isn't worth it (plus it's friggin expensive). We then proceeded to Bandra where T joined up for what was a brilliant and extremely filling lunch at Five Spice (we never miss this when we're in Bombay together, the last time around it was right after a crazy night with these guys and a gracious night spent at her place). The brilliance that is this restaurant can be defined by its location (across totos and at the descent of pali hill), its gargantuan (is that a word? is that spelled correctly? Do I look like I care?) servings and its relaxed ambience. The lunch was increasingly pleasing thanks to a huge reunion with old mc bro - aalekh. His stories from the modelling/acting world (aka tinseltown bombay) were enjoyable to say the least. It was good to see that he hasn't changed a bit :)

From Five spice, T and I split from Niel as we head off to meet with her gang and the much awaited tattoo experience. Now I'm an inked up grandmaster as you guys are well aware but the fact that she wanted one had me slightly jittery. Not because I dont think she can pull it off/handle it but because she does have sensitive skin and getting a tattoo needs to be a bit more of an experience. Needless to say this was mocked quite vociferously :P . T's best friend J took us to this big indian dude (ben?) who spoke like a crack dealer from ghettoville queens. He wasnt too convincing with the tatoo advice but it was the most entertaining 40 minutes of the day. I left in splits hoping that the next tattoo parlour would prove to be a bit more comforting, given the fact that the girls wanted to get inked in a place that didnt look like a 3x3 shanty with a delapitated dentists' chair in the centre. Proceeding back to bandra with 5 of us squeezed into R's redmobile, the conversations ranged from the inability of mumbaikars to speak in our national tongue and the uncelebrated qualities of trust company. R and I bonded like crazy over musical tastes the entire weekend. It never ceases to be a soul connection amidst people that found answers more often in an inspired riff rather than a textbook. The trip to avengers, a night at R's full of random card games and sneak peaks at India's best death metal band displaying their talent finally wrapped up around 4am. With a content *sigh* I fell asleep under the soft humming of the air-con and the delicate reminder of mumbai's oncoming monsoon outside my window. If there was ever an image of tranquility, it would be of a room full of friends - asleep in their knowledge of what they have, and whom they share it with.

Sunday went by in a blur. We woke up pretty late - greeted by groggy faces all around us. The plan was quickly made (thanks to A and T) to jet towards town for the awesome sunday buffet at Not Just Jazz. A perfect setting for the closing hours of my bombay getaway. R & I dropped the girls to A's houee, after which we spent an hour at Niel's as I packed my things. I felt bad about not spending more quality time with him but I knew he understood. Will be making it upto him this weekend when he's in town on work. Not just Jazz turned out to be filled beyond capacity so we decided to dine in the semi-outdoors Pizerria which proved to be excellent. We were joined by T's old school friends, one of whom is an up and coming south-Indian film actress. Loads of jokes, boisterous laughter and discussions around south vs. the rest of bombay ensued. I was not looking forward to this brilliant weekend coming to an end...

As the hours wound down, I slowly began extricating myself from the buzzy sense that was the weekend. J and I knocked a quick beer at a roomy (read empty) restaurant next to the gateway whilst T continued to lament on how she'd love to shift back to bombay someday - soon. She voiced this desire repeatedly on this particular trip. Whether it was having her closest friends in a proximity unmatched the previous 3 years or the sheer freedom of roaming unabashed along the winding streets close to midnight, I'll never truly know. When you love someone, even giving them everything sometimes seems inadequate. I found myself yearning just that little bit more too.

I boarded the delayed flight with a sense of bitter-sweet happiness. My terrible phone connection ensured that my goodbye message to T's gang ended up being delivered 17 times. It probably looked a bit desperate :) but I didn't care. I had to thank them for what was the perfect 48 hours after what seemed like a lifetime of sacrifice and toil.


UKIBC report released

A survey conducted by trade facilitation body UK-India Business Council (UKIBC) has ranked Pune as the most suitable place for British investments in India. The survey report, titled ‘Opportunities for UK Plc in Emerging Cities in India’, also ranks eight other cities — Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Goa, Indore, Kochi, Nagpur and Vadodara — as the most conducive destinations for UK investments in India.

The report is a product of “qualitative research through a process of in-depth interviews, reviews and perception surveys across various professional and social networks”. The report said in its preamble that close to 200 survey responses were analysed and over “150 key informants” were conducted to ensure an extensive and representative coverage.

While the report’s annexure lists 41 cities in the survey's ranking with Pune holding the top rank and Ranchi getting the lowest rank, it provides a detailed study of nine cities that merit UK investment the most.

UKIBC’s CEO Sharan Bamford, however, cautioned that the immediate priority of the report was to take the investments forward by pointing at prospective cities for UK investments.

The rankings are based on physical, social and cultural infrastructure and key economic indicators. Good quality roads, power connections, number of banks, health institutions and colleges, per capita income of each city and market size are some of the key parameters considered for the final listing.


An intense and interesting project comes to fruition. Will be interesting to see what the response and spin-off from this is in the coming weeks.

shameless promotion: atleast its awesome

Urban Habitats Forum (UHF) is a public-private partnership between the India Habitat Centre (IHC) and Mirabilis Advisory Pvt Ltd. The Forum is a collaborative platform for multidisciplinary thinkers and change-makers to push for innovation in shaping the next generation cities in India. The Forum aims to mobilise action through intelligent discourse, impactful research and result-driven advocacy.
The Forum shall host the Inaugural Habitat Summit, a week-long event, to develop a vision and blueprint for sustainable urbanisation in India. The Summit will focus on the key parameters thaturban habitats ought to deliver on: liveablity, competitiveness and environmental sustainability.
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Champion Cities
The goal of champion cities is to provide an invaluable platform to a cross-section of stakeholders involved in the delivery of mega-sports and cultural events with a special emphasis on host cities in Asia and Africa. The inaugural Champion cities summit will take place in 2009 in New Delhi, which will host the commonwealth games in 2010.
The inaugural Champion Cities Festival will take place in September 2009 and will focus on Host-Cities of Multidisciplinary and Emerging Sports events.

the fire evens out

You know there was a time, at the point when I begun my professional life as a young student volunteer for a non-profit organisation to my time with the UN to my time with a private equity firm, to two years ago at a sports marketing agency to even 6 months ago with the my current start-up experience when- there wasn't a work-life differenciation. A 7am start meant a compulsory checking of email, a dogged and determined view that a workplace conversation could happen anyday and at anytime. I scoffed at those who yelled work-life balance at the top of their lungs, I cynically looked down upon senior peers who boasted about being able to switch off their blackberries.

I used to ask ..why? How can you not love your work? How can you not want to be running at full throttle 24/7 balancing the brilliance that is professional ambition, success and challenge with the bitter-sweet of life and it's highs and lows. I was a rock with an insatiable appetite for mach3 speeds in the goals that I thought made me who I was in the atmosphere that egged me in further, faster, higher, stronger.

See and that's the the beauty of life. It lets you build your fantasies, your mind-sets and your opinions before laying brick walls of such enormity, of such intimidatory quality - that it forces the DNA that defines your personality to challenge its existence. It forces you to believe you're wrong and re-approach everything you've believed in. This change, it says, can be self-driven or forced upon you. That's where winners lie. In the thin but clearly visible gap between survival and defeat.

These past few months I've been forced to change. I've come face to face with an increasing desire to balance life, to turn that phone off at 6pm, to be comfortable with not checking emails in the dead of the night worrying about the best solution to a problem I know isn't mine. I'd rather make time for that conversation with a friend, that help a parent might need, that movie I might have missed and that song that's left unheard. Yet, in my heart of hearts I know that I miss those old days. Simply because I knew that I lived life to the extreme with the knowledge that I brought value to everything I did professionally whilst striving to maintain a balance personally. I succeeded more often that not because both goals were within my grasp. I know that at this point in my life, despite the seemingly decent value I add, this just isn't mine. I used to hurt from the protracted and disconnected feeling this 'act' would bring, now I am just plain numb. It is time to take some big decisions. Phenomenal opportunities that I have worked tremendously hard for knock on the wooden door of deservedness. Do I have the courage to embrace them with open arms and return to the days of wonder? Or do I continue to be enslaved by a demon that wants nothing but to suck the very soul of my brilliance in an effort to achieve its own, undeserved end?

I have the courage and I have the answer. It lies before me.