Friday, May 29, 2009

Long Live the Entrepreneur Revolution !

My earlier blog on working independently attracted a lot of attention, especially from friends and my “connections”. Once again, I was deluged with excellent comments from both sides. Working professionals usually tend to be very realistic, so I wasn't surprised to hear some say that they'll do whatever it takes to stick to a well paying job, passionately committed to the values and virtues of typical corporate life - to the point where some found it difficult even to imagine working freelance.

And then there were those who think that any notion of "permanence" or "stability" is just an illusion. I know an associate who’s been an independent professional since 2002. But for the past three years, she decided to temporarily take the corporate plunge and work as an Art Director at a Multinational ad agency to align herself with professionals of the Internet age or something like that. Up until January, that is. She is now a victim of the current recessionary corporate lay-offs. And now she’s back on her own, feeling good to be in home country again. She feels having a "real 9 to 5 job" is neither the security cover that it used to be nor working for a "first-class corporation" any security in today's unpredictable economy.

She is mostly right. Years ago when I had just started, a long-term client of my company went bust and I went three whole months without a single project - barely avoiding credit card collection agents at my doorstep and a nervous breakdown. "Get a real job" is what everyone told me, but I held strong and now some of the same people who advised me to get a "real job" are laid off from their "real jobs."

A good friend of mine, a fellow entrepreneur, and the source of much of my work last year, put it differently "It is better to work for yourself for zero hours a day than to work for someone else for 8 hours a day and still eventually get fired." As someone who is still adjusting to the ups and downs of independent work, I ponder that statement almost on a daily basis.

Being independent doesn’t guarantee ‘Easy Money’ though. An other friend is going back to working for someone else after 15 years of self-employment; Yes, 15 long years. I asked him why and he seemed tired of the cash flow roller coaster, for one thing. As his business has grown and more of his clients are now large transnational companies instead of small, the fee per project have also grown but the time and hassle involved in collecting payment had also grown exponentially. He said, he was half tempted to get a job in an accounts department at a big company to just see where all of those multiple copies of invoices that he sent actually went… but the real reason that he wanted to go back to working in a company, he said was that self-employment had become lonely and frustrating. He missed the human interaction; he missed the sparks that come from bouncing ideas off people in a few seconds of time at the copy machine and he missed his ex-wife, a collateral damage of his 15 year solo work life.

Would I still do it? Well, even if the future looks terribly bleak, I wouldn’t check it out, no matter how tempting as the paid benefits may be. Why? Because all of us are contractors (or more precisely, contingent workers) now; it's just that some of us don't yet realize it.

Remember the battle cry of the '90s youth? Yesterday's demonstrators are today's freelancers and gung-ho entrepreneurs (at least in my case). Okay, it's a bit of stretch but still, the subject is freedom - freedom to work with whom I want, when I want (all within reason), freedom to answer the phone stark naked, and freedom from bad bosses. (I guess I am a good boss). The longer I'm at this entrepreneur thing, the harder it is for me to contemplate leaving it for the confines of a corporate cubicle and a fat paycheck. And this is my sixth year at being an entrepreneur, being self-employed and providing meaningful employment to others, and things have never looked better. Storm the barricades! The Entrepreneur revolution continues!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Beer, Vodka and a Speeding Car!

I have just come from the hospital, where a pal, let’s call him Kris - has been recovering from a deadly car accident. Alcohol and other people were involved. Fortunately no one was dead but Kris was grievously hurt, had lost his cell phone, his wallet and the cops had him booked from some pretty serious charges. His new sedan now a mangled mess of metal and plastic.

That he has injured himself and others while drinking and driving does not surprise me; I have been worried about that for quite some time and so when the sms came that he was hurt but alright, I felt sort of relived, maybe Kris would deduce the accident as a godsend sign to stop abusing alcohol but I doubt it and I am not especially hopeful.

Apart from serious addiction issues involved here, Kris like some other friends and associates I know, has very few important pressures whose loss might force him to stop. With no significant other, parents or children threatening to leave him and with enough cash to fuel his drink habit ad infinitum, he lacks some of the usual carrots to abstinence – like a loss of job, family, etc. At the hospital, he even had the audacity to tell me that the pain medication was actually giving him “a really great high.” Kris may have crashed his car but it had not brought him to his knees.

While I feel sympathy for Kris, I no longer find his booze tales very diverting. His story of what happened the night prior to his hospital stay, in fact, was way too foolish. Already high on Vodka, he invited a friend he had met in a party over to his favourite pub. They soon had more rounds and were soon wasted. By late evening, 2 other boozed out couples had joined them and by morning light, they were all huddled around in Kris’s car with a blaring speaker, unconscious to their surroundings until Kris decided to take his brand new car for a demo spin. This is not my idea of a Saturday night, 3 wasted couples dazed and confused, crashing a fancy new car.

Yet while I think Alcohol has a horribly negative effect on urban social life, I do not want to sound judgmental. If Kris and his kind think drinking enormous amounts of alcohol is fun, I think he is plain stupid. Moreover, I don’t want to appear hypocritical. I’ve done my share of partying in the past and when the juices were right, had a pretty loopy time of it. But I no longer want to pretend, as many people I know still do, that there isn’t a difference between the occasional recreational use of alcohol and the every Saturday booze orgies favored by the likes of Kris and company.

As I left Kris in the hospital, it occurred to me that my boredom with alcohol had something to do with aging and that to reveal it among my group of 20/30 something friends would make me look so Uncool. Wouldn’t such an attitude illustrate what many of us call the ‘new gap’? I can just see it - First we renounce booze and the next thing you know; we’ll be exchanging our Metallica CDs for a ‘Save Us Lord’ prayer compilation!

Events of the evening after the hospital visit, though, made me wonder if my languor with booze was related to age after all. I had dinner with an old friend who is same as Kris’s age and comes from a similar background but is effortlessly n essentially cool. For different reasons, our dinner stretched over 3 hours and we ended up discussing a lot about life, work and beyond; that night, ending with the kind of “Take Care Bro,” declarations that buddy movies like to lampoon. When I was young, I realized, I could never have had such a conversation without the inhibition-loosening effect of alcohol.

As I drove down home over a werewolf inducing moon shined night and the Devlins wailing over the Car stereo, I still felt worried for Kris, but mostly I felt proud for my dinner friend. He had learned something earlier in life which Kris hadn’t: that clearheaded emotion and common sense can be much more thrilling than beer, vodka and a speeding car. Maybe I am getting a little grey-haired or maybe some guys are wiser than their peers like to think. At least, it’s safe to be wise and I don’t drink n drive.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

De/Vision - Synth Pop Superstars

Magnificent Electronic Music From Germany

If you like Depeche Mode, you'll love De/Vision- Germany's No.1 Synth-pop/Electro-pop band that not only play like Depeche Mode but also actually sound like them. Originally formed in 1998, De/Vision have been busy playing their predominantly electronic synthpop music with melodic English vocals until the phenomenal chart success of their third CD "Fairyland" marked the breakthrough in the global arena.

Their output is nothing short of impressive, they have released over 10 albums besides various singles, remixes and compilations. Along with Seabound, a similar and equally popular German Synth Pop band, they are now quite well known the world over for their trademark mix of electro-dance rock and distinctive tech-tinged English vocals which has also refined over the years.

Though "Noob" is their latest release, I am highlighting 2 trend setter albums - "6 Feet Underground" released in 2004 and "Subkutan" released in 2006 for your listening pleasure. Download and get immersed in aural bliss.

Free Mp3 Download - 6 Feet Underground - Rapidshare Mp3 Link

Free Mp3 Download - Subkutan - ShareBee Mp3 Link

Zip Password - secretmusicbox

The Damnwells - One Last Century

100% Legal Full Album FREE MP3 download 

I first heard the Damnwells on the soundtrack of Ryan Reynolds’ quirky 2007 comedy – Chaos Theory. Sounding like the Devlins, one of my all-time favorites; I was immediately hooked. And the similarity didn’t end there. Just as mainstream popularity continues to elude the Devlins even today, this Brooklyn, NY based band has also had to face a similar hard luck.

In 2006, after 2 years of hectic preparations of their terrific second album – Air Stereo, EPIC records abandoned them midway. Not to give up, the Damnwells went ahead to eventually release it on Zoe/Rounder Records. This was laudably chronicled in their autobiographical documentary – ‘Golden Days’, that won several awards and was also featured as an official selections at more than 15 film festivals across America in 2007.  

Their new studio album “One Last Century” is now being given away FREE by the band in an obvious dig at the record industry mafia. If you like the Devlins or the likes of Wilco, The Replacements, The Band, Tom Petty or even Bob Dylan fused with melodious indie alternative rock; the Damnwells make the right choice. 

You can download the new album in MP3 format free of cost directly from the band’s website or you could simply CLICK HERE to go directly. The album maybe free of charge, but it’s worth a million bucks. Applaud this band, tweet it now.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Amélie Original Soundtrack by Yann Tiersen

Yann Tiersen's Musical Masterpiece

Much before Audrey Tautou became a well-known celebrity through the Da Vinci Code; her original ticket to fame was Amélie, the capricious 2001 French box office hit. Apart from winning the French Oscars, the popular César awards; Amélie was also a critical international success, getting nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Foreign Film besides winning several top awards at other global film festivals. In fact, The New York Times still considers it as one of ‘The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made’.

While much of Amélie’s popularity has been credited to its idiosyncratic storyline and its skilled director - Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Alien Resurrection / City of Lost Children / Delicatessen), equal credit has been attributed to the gorgeous Parisian landscape and the dazzling soundtrack by the celebrated French composer - Yann Tiersen (Goodbye Lenin). Featuring largely an accordion and piano plus novel interludes of the banjo, harpsichord, bass guitar and vibraphone, Amélie’s soundtrack is outstanding European music which you’ll relish for a long, long time. And believe me, this is no exaggeration.

You can now download a MP3 version of its soundtrack that’s been converted from original FLAC files so; you can enjoy real high quality music.

Amélie – Original Soundtrack – Yann Tiersen - Mp3 Version

"J'y suis jamais allé" - 1:34
"Les Jours tristes" (Instrumental) - 3:03
"La Valse d'Amélie" (Original version) - 2:15
"Comptine d'un autre été: L'après-midi" - 2:20
"La Noyée" - 2:03
"L'Autre valse d'Amélie" - 1:33
"Guilty" (Al Bowlly) - 3:13
"À quai" - 3:32
"Le Moulin" - 4:27
"Pas si simple" - 1:52
"La Valse d'Amélie" (Orchestral version) - 2:00
"La Valse des vieux os" - 2:20
"La Dispute" - 4:15
"Si tu n'étais pas là (Fréhel)" - 3:29
"Soir de fête" - 2:55
"La Redécouverte" - 1:13
"Sur le fil" - 4:23
"Le Banquet" - 1:31
"La Valse d'Amélie" (Piano version) - 2:38
"La Valse des monstres" - 3:39

48.09 MB - Zip Folder - MP3 Download -
Files available for limited time only.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dial Your Way To Fitness

Install a New Telephone and Watch those Pounds Melt Away

I wrote this story, one of my favs when I was a columnist for the New Indian Express. During those days, Indian telecommunication services were still rather primitive and fixing a new phone line was helluva fun. Read on...

Before I moved to the suburbs of good old Madras, I was perfectly content with my domestic communication system. But once we left downtown Madras, everything changed.

After School, I’d be busy playing Cricket at the neighboring playground, when I would catch sight of my sister standing on top of our fence, screaming and hitting a galvanized bucket with a Neem tree stick. This was her signal that I had a phone call. I would make my way as fast as I could back to the house, only to find that the caller had long lost patience. And as we had a palatial estate, all of us had to face the same problem.

A portable cordless phone seemed the answer. One of those advertised as being capable of receiving or sending calls from anywhere but the copywriter had obviously never tried calling from the outer depths of Madras. Often, I would pull out the antenna, push it on my ears and get an earful of loud static or it would be a wrong number, usually for a pharmacy (one day a caller impudently asked if I could deliver a Condom!). Sometimes, like a slasher movie, very faintly, I would hear the melancholic screaming of a caller frantic to make contact.

When we complained, the phone company staff called (in person, since he couldn't get through on the phone). He explained that to obtain satisfactory results from their particular cordless, we had to suspend the receiving base out of a window and take the call directly below it, at a distance of no more than 20 feet. Since the place where we normally received our calls was a good 200 yards from the fixed base, his suggestion was impractical. Taking pity on our predicament, he recommended us a superior model (an unknown Czechoslovakian brand) which he promised would solve our problems and absolutely work anywhere, up to even 500 yards and beyond. So, after 2 days of protracted haggling, he fixed us a much more powerful model with a bulky base station for substantially more money. We crossed our fingers and hoped this would work.

Work, it certainly did. That evening as I sat outside in our garden talking on the new cordless with a classmate, all of a sudden I was unable to hear him any more. Two jet fighters were circling our estate at a hazardous height. I promptly shut my cordless and ran for cover. Next morning, an enraged Army Officer zeroed in onto our house and confiscated our new cordless, since it was apparently capable of ringing up pilots in mid-air and redirecting them to multiple destinations which allegedly included my school, our office, and the local electricity board.

After a month, we decided on an entirely new telephone system, one with extensions everywhere. The phone guy said that this system was designed to work for us. And so it might well have done, had it worked at all. The first thing it did was simply cut you off mid-conversation or connect us to a wrong number when we called. Then like a hungry toddler, it would start mysteriously ringing throughout the night. I registered a complaint with the firm which sold it to us (from a nearby PCO - Public Call Office, that's a public telephone in India) because by now the only person we could call was mom in her kitchen. The phone guys came, heard our sorry tales and fitted an entirely new system, almost free of charge.

Most recklessly, I showed Amma, my grandmother, how to use it. I told her that if the yard extension rang - Tring, Tring, Tring, (3 times) then it would be an internal call and she should answer it because it would be for her but if it should ring - Tring, Tring, Tring Tring (4 times), it would be an external call and she should leave it alone. Unluckily, she couldn't differentiate between the 3 Trings and the 4 Trings. The result was that she answered just about every call. And then couldn't hear who it was!

So I showed her (again stupidly) how to transfer calls. And though, she would transfer every call, quite correctly to one of the extensions; the troubles were she would never ring the right extension, and only ring half a dozen times, so by the time I would reach the kitchen or the living room, it would stop ringing and start up elsewhere. Soon, the annual holidays set in and I was practically running around our house, chasing the rings - from room to room, floor to floor.

By this time, I had lost my patience and was about to rip out the whole wretched system, when a pal remarked that I was looking a lot trimmer, smart and athletic. Unexpectedly, I realized that I was indeed looking at a fortune. I at once hurried back to my archaic PC and started typing. The finished work was soon in the weekend paper titled 'Dial Your Way to Fitness – Install a New Telephone and Watch those Pounds Melt Away.’

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Write Shots

Websnacker's A to Z Guide to Writing a Bestseller!!

Writing Great literature can be appealing but it doesn't pay the rent. Only a hot bestseller can really keep the debtwolf from the door, a new car on the road and your face in the weekend magazine. So what's the secret of a multi million- selling bestseller success?

Picture this - you're lying on a beach somewhere and you've just finished the last page of J.K.Rowling's latest. Through your mind, flashes the thought; 'I could do that'. Well, why not? A few months chained to the computer and before you can write “The End” you could be the proud owner of a seven-figure advance. However, you'll need a crisp guide though to steer you through the perfidious tides of book publishing. Follow this A-Z guide and you'll never sink.

A for Agent: The shrewder the better, you’re starting point on the road to bestsellerdom. He is your Personal Assistant, Lobbyist, Salesman, PR Guy and Marketing Manager - all rolled into one role. Get one, the rich bastard, whatever it takes. It's not easy; you're competing with over 50 other hopefuls every month for a top agent.

B for Bonking: I mean Sex and Sex sells. Anyway, anywhere, anytime, as often as you can, in as many positions as possible. Refer the 'Kama Sutra' if you run out of copulation ideas. Finish each chapter with UST - that's 'underlying sexual tension' to you dear.

C for Critics: They are a necessary evil so never ever think you don't need them. For once, be wary of bribery. This does not work, and they'd probably expose you anyway. What they want is a good copy. So give it to them.

D for Drugs: The one time you really knew you could write a best seller you were probably under the influence. And unless, you are Hunter Stockton Thompson, Don't be fooled: beat burble is history, dude, and no agent will touch you unless you are a celebrity. As subject matter, a winner though, preferably in an international crime ring.

E for Extraterrestrial: Remember ET, Contact and the Independence Day. The sky's the limit here, the wilder the better, though avoid the drug induced-variety (see D) - not even loop-the-loop of science - fiction fans will not know what you are writing about.

F for Fraud: 'Plagiarize', let no one else's work evade your eyes. And why not? If they get it right, you will too and if they sue, so much the better. The increased sales of your book will cover your Defense Lawyer's fee ten fold. Mine did, honest!

G for God: Hero of the best-selling book ever written. You'll need him to succeed in this business. Also an ideal protagonist, though controversial - are you sure you want to spend the rest of your life in hiding, sipping tea with Salman Rushdie.

H for Horse: If you've never sat on one, contact the nearest Riding Stable. Horses sell, and no self-respecting bestseller-chaser can afford to ignore them. Atleast One reference should do, as long as it's accompanied by sexual innuendo and competitive urges.

I for Intelligence: 'No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people', wrote H.L. Mencken. Believe the man: never overestimate your average reader's intelligence and if you have too much of it yourself, get rid of it. For the KG used to B/CIA/CBI variety, see S.

J for Jealousy: Folks, you will suffer it when you finally make the grade. Don't expect friends who are writers to help you. I've lost three dear friends out of nothing but envy. Still, popularity never made for million-dollar advances, did it?

K for Kissing: Less necessary than you'd think, too tame for an erotic thriller, too raunchy for an children's saga but a must in any book.

L for Law: Good news for the world's most pedantic species; all those years spent reading law books can win you a life of stardom if you put it down in print like Scott Turow and John Grisham. A brief stint in a prison also helps - it will give you more plots than you ever wanted.

M for Mistress: Those who can, have one, and those who can't, write about one. The latter's a lot less hassle and safer.

N for Name: A famous one helps, so change yours. Clinton is good, so is Vidal, Obama or Osama. You could always marry a Name, give birth to one, or best of all, link yours with one in a rampant fraud scandal.

O for Oral Sex: This hasn't quite made it to Mills & Boon yet, but in all other bestsellers it’s a must. If rude food is involved, so much the better.

P for Publicity: Be prepared to put yourself about. Any publicity is good but be selective. Be photographed with known intellectuals, but not with superstars and crooked MPs (see W). Attend parties, functions and high profile get together. Man, you can be famous.

Q for Quid's In: I mean the money, this is what you're doing it all for, unless you're a pure academic, in which case you might as well sign up for a life time debt right now. The good news is you can make wild amounts of money: Last year, J.K. Rowling earned $ 300 millon, James Patterson $ 50 million and Stephen King $45 millon. Even Danielle Steel earned 30 millons in 2008 and that's an amazing deal. The bad news is you can't be that lucky, dumbo.

R for Romance: Unbelievably big bucks. Romantic fiction accounts for 25% of all books sold in the World and Mills & Boon sells one book every two seconds worldwide. Not as easy as it looks though. M&B only take five new authors a year and they're very picky. If you don't enjoy reading romance, please don't attempt to write one.

S for Spy: Sign up to MI6/CIA or the Indian equivalent-RAW and then get yourself exposed in a tabloid - your subsequent advance will scare even the Americans. Failing that, sleep with one, preferably Pakistani and record their every groan. You never know, they could be moaning in ISI code.

T for Title: Make it short, make it sharp and make it memorable. Think of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, 'Primal fear' 'Juror' "Satanic verses'. One worders are good, foreign language is right out, and never overdo the name.

U for University: Of life in this context; the more you've done, the sexier your book. The academic variety also comes in useful as a setting for social satire, campus drama, romance, elegant crime, drugs and sex.

V for Villain: A suave Villain is a must and your novel’s actual hero. After all, he has the money and all the sexy girls.

W for Westminster: That is, The Parliament. Any connection with politics is a corker. Use every contact you have, and if that fails, use your body. Have an extremely hot-blooded affair three weeks before publication, preferably with a ruling party Minister and see how your book sells. Clearly this requires stomach.

X for Xenophilia: Wanderlust is a must. It doesn't matter if you've never been further than Cape Comorin, make it exotic and make it up. Julie Burchill is a good guide on this; the whole of one book is set in Prague - she'd never even been there.

Y for Y-Fronts: The Calvin Klein, Victoria Secret, Jockey and John Hopkins variety. Jackie Collins didn't get where she is today without recognizing the public's lust for labels, don't be deceived by bitchy critics who say labelology is passe, they're just jealous.

Z for Zenith: This is ultimately where you reach when you hit the jackpot. Unbelievably big bucks and a life full of fame. For those who have achieved it, it is yesterday and for those who haven't, tomorrow. Good Luck!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Perfume - The Story of A Murderer (2006)

A Morbid, Perfume-Tinged Love Story!

"Perfume: The Story of A Murderer” is the long awaited film version of the German Novelist Patrick Suskind’s best selling novel of the same name - Das Parfum which became a publishing phenomenon in 1985, selling over 15 million copies worldwide.

Due to the complex multi-layered narrative and its grim graphic content, it was long considered by many as unfilmable, even attracting the attention of Hollywood big timers like Tim Burton and Ridley Scott. Eventually, it was Tom Tykwer (best known for the Award winning 1998 German Thriller - Run Lola Run) who was given the reins to helm this film.

Starring Ben Whishaw (Layer Cake, Trench) possibly in his best performance as the murderous perfumer Jean-Baptiste Grenouille along with Dustin Hoffman and Alan Rickman, ‘Perfume - The Story of A Murderer’ records the life of the bright but homicidal anti-hero in his vicious quest to create the perfect scent. Set in 18th century France but actually filmed in the Spanish cities of Barcelona, Girona and Figueras, the film remains very faithful to the Novel and is a visual extravaganza with lush scenery and artwork cinematography, matched by a mesmerizing soundtrack and a great show by all its leading stars.

As one reviewer wrote “it’s a bold and often brilliant piece of work that rewards morbid fascination with some cracking performances and a truly unique experience”, ‘Perfume - The Story of A Murderer’ is an exceptional experience indeed. Thanks to a friend, you can watch it Now.

Download Single Link 800 MB DVD Rip Avi file - or .

If you see an improper page - please cut, copy, paste any of the two links in your browser. File available for download for a limited time only.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Avalon (2001) Original Soundtrack - Kenji Kawai

Beautiful Tech-Tinged Orchestral Music Filmscore

James Cameron called it the “Most artistic, beautiful & stylish Sci-Fi film” he ever saw when it was released in 2001. Believe the great director, Avalon is indeed a splendid sci-fi spectacle that’s an absolute treat for the eyes and the ears. 

Though this movie features Polish actors including the heroine Małgorzata Foremniak and was actually filmed in Wrocław, Poland, it is actually a Japanese /Polish production directed by the anime ‘Ghost in the Shell’ creator - Japanese filmmaker Mamoru Oshii and largely made using a Japanese crew.

Long time regular Oshii music collaborator, Kenji Kawai, well known for Ring 1& 2 besides Ghost in the Shell composed the hypnotic soundtrack that has now grown to become a cult hit. If you haven’t listened any of the Kawai’s previous works, this is a good choice to start with. 

The electronic laden soundtrack features beautiful Polish songs performed by the popular opera singer Elizabeth Towarnicka along with the Polish National Philharmonic Orkiestre and the Choir of Philharmonic Orkiestre and elegantly complements the sepia toned imagery that abounds in the vast majority of the film. "Log in", “Log Off” and "Voyage to Avalon" are supreme Kawai compositions that alone necessitate a download. So, download, unzip and take the pleasure in.

Avalon OST - Kenji Kawai - Track Listings

1. City 13
2. Log Off
3. Voyage To Avalon
4. Murphy's Ghost
5. Bishop
6. Nine Sister
7. Ruins C66
8. Gray Lady (Ash)
9. Flak Tower 22
10. Ruins D99
11. The Ghost Hunting
12. Voyage To Avalon
13. Tir Na MBan
14. Log In

Mp3 Download - Zip Folder 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Come Back, All is Forgiven

The Art of Running Away

I had an unusual start today. I find a large pool of restless people at my rich neighbor’s door, around 50 or 60 seemingly worried sweaty folks and 2 tired-looking cops, both battered by the sweltering tropical heat. The raison d'être – my neighbor’s 14 year old grandson had run away. Not kidnapped as I had wanted to believe but had simply run off, not able to tolerate his grandfather’s ostensibly unreasonable social and academic demands.

This got me thinking. Running Away, I guess is an adolescent rite of passage, an expression of adolescent angst directed at a careless society, an anguish that I myself had experienced in my teen days. I remember my 18th birthday. ‘You are a major today’, my mother had told me with a flourish. “You can run away from home and I’ll have no legal grip over you.” She had paused and added in a different tone, “if you are going out with your friends tonight, be sure you are back by eleven not midnight’.

No doubt, ‘Running away’ has always been a universally contested topic. It is discussed openly, getaway plans are exchanged and best suggestions sought. Certainly this goes against the secrecy which every potential ‘Runaway’ should maintain! The truth is that while each of us is adventurous by nature, things are usually a trifle too comfortable at home. So merely discussing it is adequate to satisfy our sense of escapist adventure!

The only serious case of Running Away which did occur in my life was on a bright Sunday morning when I was around 11 or 13. Feeling shamed, livid and deeply insulted because my mother wouldn’t reprimand my Maths teacher who I assumed had failed me intentionally, I declared to my mother that I would be leaving home, never to return again. Oblivious to this, Training the new servant maid, was at that moment a greater crisis for my mother than my juvenile rants so she ignored me totally. Annoyed even more, I walked out with poise clutching my newly made pledge. No more than 20 steps and the intoxicating sight of my neighbour polishing his brand new 500 CC Yamaha motorbike slowly dissolved my 10 minute old but apparently iron-clad resolution. The rest of that sunny morning, I spent my time, sitting near the gate along with my dog gazing with a hypnotic admiration at the monstrous beauty on two wheels.

When I was even younger, some very trifling though matter-of-fact problems would also come in the way if was to try and leave home secretly. I knew only five main roads in town, so I would have to come back and ask my elder sister for detailed directions and a diagram of the place I have to run away to. Since my sister would only keep a secret for a maximum of five-and-a-half minutes, she would end up telling my mother about it besides publicizing it to at least five other people including my grand dad, my grand ma, my car driver, my aunt and also our milk man. Knowing very well the time of my planned flight to perpetual freedom, my mother would give me two letters to post, a toaster to be repaired and also ask me to have the old fangled pass book updated at the road corner bank, ruining my perfectly designed AWOL plans and forcing me to abandon my disappearing act.

Moreover, as someone who likes to do things in style (I still do), I wanted my ‘Running Away” to be a schmaltzy blockbuster. So, I hoped to see expensive, full size ‘Come Back, All Is Forgiven’ adverts in the morning paper but since I had a sneaky notion that my stingy folks wouldn’t consider me worth wasting an ad over, I would mostly end up canceling my ‘Runaway’ campaigns than make a floppy messy dud of it. And instead, I would cuddle in my bed, my Sanyo walkman and a second hand copy of a Mad comic for company, enjoying the cool breeze from the open window and searching for UFOs in the night sky. After all, in the end, you realize - east or west, home is still the very best.

"Call you up in the middle of the night
Like a firefly without a light
You were there like a slow torch burning
I was a key that could use a little turning

So tired that I couldn't even sleep
So many secrets I couldn't keep
Promised myself I wouldn't weep
One more promise I couldn't keep"

        From ‘Runaway Train’ by Soul Asylum.
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