Sunday, October 30, 2011


It's nice to be ridiculous. Don't nose what ziss cruel corporate world has done to me!!! I have become tame. I miss being crazy. Luckily, some friends and some 'stuff' bring out the nut in me :)

See, things like the picture above need some serious lunacy :) Had to post this post this post. Damn! It's like spelling B-A-N-A-N-A-N-A  Damn!!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Menial, Useful

Fascinating things are happening. Occupy Wall Street for example. How is it that certain people are paid millions of dollars for work - work which is not really that amazing or productive? If Apple creates a revolutionary product and charges people good money, where they have the discretion of buying it, I believe it is more than acceptable. If an organisation jeopardises the financial system through leverage while paying its employees insane amounts of money for long and rather un-intelligent work, that is odd.

I am writing about this because I met a friend yesterday who quit her seemingly cushy job at GS India. She is probably quite intelligent but the work she did, as is in most investment banks, was quite mind-numbing - literally. I have worked at a small investment bank and even though I don't know what really goes on at the larger I-Banks, I do know that they employ an army of people who can work crazy hours at typically 'programmed' jobs. These 'Analysts' (please dont get me started on the first year, second year and third year analysts) and 'Associates' largely mine data and prepare documents. These documents may be for internal review, marketing or presentation purposes. They are paid wild amounts of money for the implied dedicated hours of work they will perform.
An example of disparity: A person working as a copywriter in an advertising agency may be paid INR 50K to 100K per month (I am being very optimistic here). A copywriter is a creative person and quite often he/ she will come up with interesting ideas/ concepts for advertisements or presentation. Real work that be.
An analyst at an investment bank usually prepares pitch books or public information booklets or financial models. According to me, this work is compilation of data in a more presentable format. And these guys are paid upwards of INR 150K per month.
Ridiculous this disparity be.

The reason I write about this is that I see many friends working at sad places and or sad profiles and or for sad money, but thus be life. With this, I go back to Europe. Appreciation for fashion, art, creation, life, outdoors, society and a lesser emphasis on materialistic pursuits. (Lesser not no).
The nature of work has changed drastically. Work used to be more immediate (Bake cookies, sell cookies) or (make steel, sell steel). The supply chain was shorter and life's conveniences were not many. I see that in India, the sheer abundance of people makes many employed people rather useless at their jobs. Tasks can be unbelievably menial.
And this goes out to those who know me. Let's do something really worthwhile with our lives. We should, for what else could life be worth?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Europe has been good to me

A guy aged 20 years works at a dairy farm in Australia, 4 hours from Melbourne, with the motive to save enough money to travel to Europe for 3 months with his friend.
A girl aged 22 years from Linz, Austria is plausibly the biggest fan of a band called Guano Apes and has been to 45+ of their 48 concerts.
An Indian with education from India, some work in Dubai and some more work in the US and in France falls in love with a French woman and is now a proud father of a gorgeous baby boy - he lives in Germany now.
A girl from Azerbaijan has come to Praha, Czech Republic to study and works part-time at a hostel.
A singer for a jazz troupe performs at her last gig in Prague because she is moving to Australia with her Australian boyfriend who had lived in India for 2 years at a certain time.
A French girl finds a language buddy through the internet - the other girl is a blind German - they live with each other for a period of time with the motive of learning the other person's language.
An Indian from Pondicherry falls in love with an exchange student from France; they decide to get married and move in together in Germany where the girl holds a steady job.
An Austrian girl meets an Indian on a train and invites her to Vienna and to the Oktoberfest for the following year.

The core of man's spirit comes from new experiences.

I came to Europe on 30th September and am now towards the end of my trip. I leave for Mumbai on 17th October. I had instructed my Austrian friend to plan my first 4/5 days as per her convenience. After this I would go to Hamburg around the 6th. I would then meet my American friend in Berlin on the 9th of October. He would leave whenever he wished to, after which I would be alone and rather aimless.

It was before dawn when I stepped out of the Praterstern station at Wien (Vienna). Clumsily, I made my way to my friend's place while the city seemed asleep. I see a light in a window and after a while I hear a 'Hello!'. She had a very cute way of saying 'Hello'. I set down my bag and am tired - the flight had been miserable. I am welcomed with a walk to the Danube to see the early sun while I snacked on a sandwich. I sleep for a few hours and greet her roommate in my boxers - I think I was a little messed up with the lack of sleep, I didn't know what time it was when someone tired opening the door. I meet her warm and simple roommate who I get to know over the next 2 days.
I meet her friends, we go drinking, and the next day we go for a short hike up a hill near Wien. Mich (Austrian friend) packed a lunch of an apple, crackers and a sandwich for all of us. We were joined by a girl/ lady who was from Serbia but now lives in Wien. Walking is fun, especially when the sun is nice and the wind is low, add to that clear air and beautiful, pleasant company. I eat fresh, roasted chestnuts, we pick grapes from a vineyard and this weird, small tomato thing, the seeds of which makes one itchy. We stopped on our way down to see a tractor ploughing a hillside at a 30-35 degree incline - inexplicable.

Irish pubs are fun - funny how they didn't know about the Irish car bomb :(
A train ride to Salzburg, a cable car up a mountain and some alone time alongside Mich. Touring through the city with her friends, I felt the beauty of Salzburg. It was evening and most tourists had retired to their hotels. We were being guided by Mich's local friends. We drank and ate at a beer garden, we walked to a protrusion off of a hillock, took an elevator through a hill and walked through the fairytale city. Soft music (composed) by Mozart reached my ears and soon we retreated to our hostel/ hotel room.

In Munich for the Oktoberfest the next day after a good night's sleep. We were wise for I was in wise company. Just walked around the Oktoberfest fair during the day, ate a bit and retreated to our hostel for some rest - preparing ourselves for the evening that lay ahead.
As luck served us well, we found a table next to the band at the centre. Soon, we had on our table Scots, Brazilians and Canadians (not to mention the Austrians and the Indian). Sinatra, Bryan Adams, Beatles, Bavarian songs about Arnold Schwarzenegger, a horny slutty bitch and the glory that is Bavaria were some of the songs we jived to. I remember dancing with random people. I remember people kissing and people drunk. I remember the positive air and the ease with which strangers gelled together. An Oktoberfest visit is a must for every person who can potentially make it there. It is. One of the best things - the waitress forgot to bill us for the food! Wooohoooo!
Munich after the night was nice - it is a nice city, small and rather simple. The Deutches Museum in Munich is quite marvellous; so is the English Garden.

I bid adieu to my Austrian friends. I decide to go to Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Yes, kindly look it up). It is the closest town to Zugspitze - the highest mountain in Germany. Wonderful, wonderful infrastructure. An 8-10 minute cable car ride up a 2800 meter elevation. A train that travels rather swiftly up a 2500 meter elevation - a large chunk of which is actually through the mountain. Brilliant stuff. Eat some Currywurst while you are up there along with weisbeer! O and something that Indians never do - if ever in a hilly town like this, please stay in a pensionne instead of a hotel. It is a wonderful experience.

2.5 days in Hamburg were more social than touristy. We shopped for groceries, cooked Indian food for people who came over, little chit chats and met some interesting and nice people. Reeperbahn is mad!! Very few places where one can window shop for hookers ;) The harbour, the food, the people, the diversity and the planning & infrastructure make Hamburg a lovely city to live in.

Met my American friend at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof - so super cool. The motive for vacations should be: food, walking, seeing, drinking, eating, fooding, talking, eating and sleeping. That is what we did. Berlin is a massive city! It surprised us, especially me, because relative to Wien, Frankfurt, Hamburg or Munich, Berlin is huge! Getting lost is possible. Please see the tower in the middle of "Mitte". Alas, weather was unkind - it rained in 5-10 degree temperatures :(
Dresden, pronounced as 'Draaaaaaaaayzzzzden' (Muahahahhaaaaa) is something. Again, unexpectedly massive. Very old and the walkways are mind-numbingly massive. Very Soviet Union types - I might be politically incorrect here. But frankly, it is a city that one can omit from their travel plans.

In Praha (Prague). The city can seem scary at night - that is when I arrived. Sir Toby's Hostel is so brilliant. A wonderful atmosphere, very nice people (guests and employees), cheap breakfast and an awesome underground pub. It may be one of my favourite cities so far. There is a cosmopolitan air to it with the new city. There are old theatres, and underground clubs (one jazz club I went to yesterday I may never forget - do go there!), nice people, tons to see, the Charles bridge is overcrowded; I did the smart thing (I went at 2 am) Yeah baby!!! Getting lost in the old city is uber fun, and I am surely coming here again (hopefully with a girl I like ;) ) For the romantics out there - I like this city more than Paris.

Side note: staying in a hostel is super super fun. It can get annoying with snoring strangers but it is still well compensated by the new people one might meet.

Next year: South America!!! (Hopefully)