The Colored Version

At times of adversity, human beings react differently. Some try to accept their fate. Some try to fight it. Some others turn it into a better situation than what could have been.

I, chose to color my hair.

Not that it was a knee jerk reaction. I had been toying with the idea for quite sometime. After Chinnu* went and colored hers, it was only a matter of time. Besides, it was part of my new year resolution to do the deed after getting a job. Having a fellow mallu with the most garish hair color is sure to deflect whatever criticism my parents were wont to make when I reach home.

However, the conversion of Chinnu's respectable black to traffic stopping red had me twirling my hair again. What if

(a) I ended looking silly?
(b) Either of my parents got a heart attack? [ case in point : when I left home in 2003 for my job and subsequent MBA, I had waist-long, black, curly hair. Now only the curl remains. ]

And most importantly, how will the campus react?

I like to believe that I have a modicum of fashion sense. People have commented positively throughout my two years here on my attire and accessories. Should I leave XL as the girl who had a major fashion fiasco? I strategically delayed the exercising of my options.

ie; till I came to know that my Delhi trip is under heavy weather. Still on the waiting list, and the line is not moving forward. To top all this, my fellow eater CD - what else do you call a guy with whom you really have not interacted much but now has been sharing lunch and dinner with you for the past two weeks? Friend is too generic - is going home and has asked me not to sit and brood, but enjoy my time here.

Hence, I decided to get out to the town. And got myself CDs [ stop smirking, you monkey... I was not talkin abt ya :) ]. The nearby beauty parlor beckoned. I went inside, got myself ready for the Delhi trip and 15 minutes later, was about to leave. And then I noticed the poster; of a lady with jet black hair streaked with purple.

Many be it was the heat. Or the fact that I did not eat any food till 4 pm. Whatever, I decided to get the purple streaks. "We don't have that color.. " said one. " But we have these.. " said the more enterprising of them, and thrust into my hands a huge catalogue of beautiful women with different colors.

I picked one.

" This is for people trying to hide their greys." one of them told me snidely.

" What about this? Or this or this? " I asked the ladies.

"Too light. Go for something bold for the streaks. " they looked down their noses.

I took a sharp detour from what supposedly colored Chinnu's hair and picked a much more sober looking color.

After painting the hair and putting aluminum foil around the painted hair, I was asked to wait for 40 minutes. I looked like I was having the aluminum foil wrapped kit-kat wafers attached to my hair. Worse, I was looking like I was getting ready for a fashion show with all that wierdstuff on my head. A kid took one look at me and started bawling. Not - a - good - experience.

40 minutes , 2 Stardust and one Femina later, I was called to the chair. My hair was washed and dried, and withholding comment, I was led to my tryst with the mirror.

I looked like Jean Grey. The X-Men gal with psi abilities. I decided to eschew the facial and other works as I was sure that even if I had walked in naked, everyone in Delhi would be looking at my hair. It was the same color as Chinnu's, and looking spread over a wider area.

"How long will the color stay?" I asked.

" If you use L'oreal's shampoo, it will last longer. Here, I have it.." the enterprising one trust me a teeny shampoo bottle with a ridiculous price.

But having just made a resolution not to use anything which will prolong the blunder, I didn't even look at it, just nodded no. Then, taking several deep breaths, I left the sanctuary of the beauty parlor into the mad, bad world. Square the shoulders, look at the people as if you own them, and turn on your "If you as much look at me, I am gonna kill you " eyes. I jumped into the nearest auto and reached XL.

A bunch of my batchmates and juniors were standing some distance away. Under normal circumstances, I should have went over and chatted. But not now. I just wanted to get inside and lock myself in my room.Delhi be damned. I am not getting out of my room!

Then my fashionista friend, my fashion consultant - we MBAs don't use the word guru; we just consult - met me. " You colored your hair? And Chinnu's same color? It actually looks nice on you! " She blurted out at one go.

Oh thank you God... Thank you!

" Well... " I flipped my hair back casually, " I wanted to go for purple or electric blue. But they didn't have it there. "

We do not lie. We just selectively suppress the truth.

*name has been changed to protect author's health and enhance her safety from the mentioned.


I wish I'd know how to quit you.

Came back from the enemylines, and miss that place.

If not for the mutual hatred between me and Mathematics, i would have belonged to there. I would have sat there on the lake-shore, watching the sun and the moon being reflected in the water, all in a world to myself, with maybe a cat on my lap and my hands encircling a dog.

May be I should not think about that place with such fondness. Wherein lies your loyalties? - my clansprit admonishes me. But if I like all things XL, then I should like all things IIMC too, for they are the yang to our ying - similar, with parallel outlooks and attitudes. So much so that it prompted my IIMC friend to pitch for me joining XL - in case I didn't get into A, B or C [ Maths saw to it that I didn't.].

Ancient wisdom has it that the average XL-IIMC encounters of the close proximity kind either ends up in (1) Bitter rivalry (2) Great friendships (3) Enduring marriages. Surprised? Well, don't be. A relationship which started after the parties involved abused each other with the choicest words can only go better. And the many marriages that had happened down the ages stand testimony to that hypothesis.

But none of that matters now. Whichever place offering solitude and select human company appeals to the loner in me, to the person that I am fast turning into. The campus was green. Not the artificial greenery of genteel sophistication, but the natural, melancholic green. I would definitely wont mind teaching there someday, as then it would mean going back to that campus.

Met a few people there. Some are friends. Some were acquaintances. Some are to be my future colleagues.

Went around Calcutta. The city about which I had read the most. And it did live up to my expectations. I felt at home there, a sense of happy deja vu covering me up in a safety blanket. Loved the colors, the hustle and bustle of the city, the old buildings and even the Bengali script which is so artistic.

It was not fun being there. I am past the stage when I want fun. I want peace of mind, tranquility and a sense of being alive. and these I did get in that trip - thanks to you [ and you know who you are!] .

My ideal campus building belongs to my Summer's Home - IIMB. Built by a person with a child's intuition for all things magical, it was a veritable Hogwarts. But then what is Hogwarts without the lakes? That building, with its stone walls and creepers which form natural curtains, should have been set on the shores of the five lakes. And it would be the magical nook within my mind, where I will watch innumerable sunrises, with Doink and Chatrapati for company.

Campus seemed very small and noisy after the lakes. I want to go back, just sit on the lakeside, just sit at the balcony watching the subtle change of time with a good book and some great music. And maybe have some of that divine parathas.

XL, forgive me for my transgression, for I know I have sinned, in giving a piece of my heart to the 5 lakes.


ROI Musings...

One of the rituals on getting a job is to call up your relatives and inform them that you finally got some ROI on your investment for two years.

Those of you who may do so in the future; a word of caution: celebrate first, then call. Especially if you are the pioneer MBA in your imediate family. Otherwise, you may not be left with anything much to celebrate about.

Parents are most effective when it comes to curbing enthusiasm. They can spot the flaw in our perfectly happy scenario in a nanosecond. Moreover, all of use do crave at some level to 'do our parents proud' and their strategic silences, the drawled out "weeeeeeeeeeeeeeelll..." with a touch of disappointment do deliver karate chops to our self esteem and glee.

They are the best cooks of put-you-downs.

An average B-School student from any of the top ten B Schools in India will agree to this, especially if they have just been placed. Any salary that we earn, is disappointingly less. It doesnot matter if you earn 8 or 10 or even 12 l.p.a, it is always about " Only this much..?" with a quote on how much the average salary of this or that B School the current year is.

It is during times like these that you feel like collecting all the media cell members - current, future and past - of the diferent BSchools and slowly fry them over hell's everlasting fires.

Placement times are times of oneupmanship. Given the tacit understanding of when each college - oops, School ; for some reason, MBAs study in B-'Schools' and 30 something men in Indian cricket team are 'boys' - is supposed to start it's placement, the college that get it's process over first may be highly tempted to inflate the salary figures and job details with an eye on the B School Rankings. And temptation is easy to fall for; leading to inflated salary figures.

The underground network of B Schools perk up and snigger knowledgably - in seeing the difference between the actual and the trumpeted. And the domino effect starts - for each B School is in the run to consolidate and upgrade their rankings - and this leads to inflations and 'selective dissemination of information' all around. But you cannot blame us - yup, even I belong to the to be' fried in hell fire ' group - entirely. The press, always on the lookout for sensationalism in even everyday events, forget to ask the right, probing questions and happily sing "Gloy to Thee" to the press release.

And what with inflation and all, the figures will be inflated again next year.

Now some personal info :

Thankfully, for the past two years, I didnot have to inflate. Our placecom Secy and faculty coordinator decided to give out the real figures for the Summer and Final placements. [ Bless you guys!] Our average [ with the normal definition of statistical average being applied to the term ] is slightly below my annual CTC. Hence after one week and 5 irate phone conversations, and a copy of the press release being mailed to my parents with the phone number of our Placecom Prof appended [ sorry sir! :"> ] so that they could check the information from the source, I was able to convince my parents that I did well, by all counts.

But I do wonder at times if it is more because of our slightly different positioning [HR-centric] in the minds of the people.Would we have held to our horses if we had been into general management, and not run by Jesuit Priests??

I would rather not think about it.


Gift wrapped from up there

"How did you celebrate your day?" my friend asked me, thousands of miles away.

I 'Humph!'ed.

"That bad? How many presents?"

"None. None at all. And they didn't even wish." I said morosely.

The they here are particularly three people. One didn't bother to wish, another altogether disappeared, preferring to sleep late to playing Holi, and the the third, whom I woke up after sustained nagging cut to the chase : " Where are you giving your birthday treat?"

Definitely not one of the better days.

Not that the entire world totally forgot about it. People DID wish me. They called up from assorted continents. And on knowing that I didn't get any gifts [ or bumps ] promised both when I reach home.

But... but.. .they didn't. And that irked, hurt, and bugged. Did I waste my time spending with them? Worse, was I imposing myself on them? Was this their subtle way of telling me that I was being a royal pain?

"We are going to CCD." I declare, in a voice that dares anyone to voice any opposition.

"CCD? What about dinner..? " A wailing reaches out to me through the phone.

" When did you even wish me? And it is my birthday, so I should buy myself a piece of cake - not that anyone remembered to get me one." I wail back with equal fervor. I win this round.

At the cafe, they try to get the six pieces at a huge plate, so that it would look like a cake. Sheepish "Happy Birthday"s are offered, and accepted. I'm enjoying their company, and thawing.

The cakes arrive. Each piece in a small plate, serially, one after the other. I giggle at seeing their last minute attempts go kaput. They sing the birthday song raucously, raising quite a few eyebrows from the post holi crowd. The cafe is practically empty, no food. I think of going back to XL - I am too much high strung to ask them if I could tag along.

" Are you having dinner?" "Come with us." After saying our goodbyes to V, we leave the cafe. I am caught up n the moment, we all walking along, one of our last meals together as students of XL.

The lone veggie suggests an exclusively veg place. I grimace; it is a reflex reaction against anything vegetarian. A smiles on seeing my face, and suggests a non veg place. We roam around the town, checking this place and the other, cracking jokes at each others expense, and sharing gossip. [ For all you skeptics out there : men do gossip, and gossip well they do! ]. Finally, food. As we squeeze into a table and dig into our food, I was suddenly stuck by a revelation: my friends, are not going to change. Ever. They will never buy me a birthday card, or think up great surprises to make my day special. They will point out good stuff on shop windows and then tell me that they have no cash to buy it. They will make me go Dutch on food, most of it I end up making them eat. No matter what maveric executives they are going to be, for me, they are always the gang of socially clueless chaps who don't have the foggiest idea on how to treat a girl on her birthday.

But then, these are the same guys who told me to hit back at any twerp who might have dared to take liberties with me - and just drop a hint to them so that they can take over from there. They are the ones who always keep their rooms open - for me to just sit and watch countless episodes of sitcoms or to bemoan the cruel blows that life had dealt me. They are the ones who tell me what I need to, not want to, hear. Those whom I can wake up any day and tell anything - and I mean anything - and it will stay within them. The ones who scoff at the idea that just being in different cities is going to affect our friendships. They will not make my birthday any special, but the times spent with them make ordinary days feel like birthdays.

On our way back, I got an sms from my friend in SA. " How did your day go? Enjoying yourself? " She asked me.

"Went well. And yes, I am!" I smsed back, wedged between two of them in a rickety auto.

And surprisingly, it was the truth.


kind of taking it easy and unwinding...
shadow man, will reply to you soon.
sleep, books, chocolates, movies, music and computer games.. life is one long hedonistic pleasure!


Removal of a Post

I had to remove one of my better written posts. It was based on something that has happened to my friend, and she did not want me to blog about it.

Save it perpetually as a draft... for me to remember, and not to forget the feeling.

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