Friday, May 23, 2014

While I was away

So while I was away trekking up the Himalayas in Sikkim away from all the madness in the world,  high up in the mountains without any access to mobile phones or the world wide web, a ton of changes have taken place. Even Arsenal won a trophy after 9 years making me believe that I have been away for an eternity.

  • Congratulations to Narendra Modi on becoming the new Prime Minister of the country. Although I have never been your fan, as an optimist, I can only hope that you prove me wrong and take India forward rather than backward in the next five years.

Can the NaMo bandwagon deliver its promises?
  •   Congratulations to Louis Van Gaal on being appointed as the new boss at Manchester United. Going through your impressive resume and the list of clubs and players you have managed, I can confidently say that the United board got it right this time. Plus, I have a new team to support this World Cup. #Netherlands
The new Gaffer at Old Trafford

  •  Congratulations to TRS and the TDP on winning the elections in the newest states of the country, Telengana and the Seemandhra. I can only hope that Hyderabad doesn’t turn a pink colored city now.
Hyderabad - the new pink city? :-/

  • Congratulations to Manchester City, Atletico Madrid and Arsenal on winning the Premier League, La Liga and the FA Cup titles. All the three teams have played amazing football this season (Arsenal for the first 8 months only, though) and deserved to win trophies.
Champions of Spain after 18 years

  •  Happy Birthday to Yaya Toure, the best midfielder in the Premier League. Despite being from the other side of Manchester, I really hope that you stay at City, where you may not get cakes but instead win trophies.
20 goals from the midfield this season. Simply superb!

  • Congratulations to Ryan Giggs on calling an end to an amazingly successful career. It feels odd to imagine a Manchester United squad without the Ryan Giggs. There could not have been a better choice for the #2 man at Old Trafford, and hope you do as well in your new job.
Ryan Giggs Ryan Giggs running down the wings!!


Awwwww, Stevie! :)

I decided to be totally neutral while writing this article but looks like my Red Devil blood took over at the end. Frankly, Liverpool have been the most entertaining team this season and I really do hope Suarez gets fit in time for the World Cup. As far as Nasri is concerned, I do not know what the FFF were thinking when they selected their World Cup squad. BEAMER TEST use a captcha

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Great Indian Election and the 'Selfies' people

The great Indian Voting drama
April 30, 2014 – Just another day in my life. I probably wouldn’t even remember the day the next year, or even maybe the next month. So, before I forget (and probably to remember), this was the day I joined the huge bandwagon of people who decide the fate of the country. When I say ‘decide the fate of the country,’ I do not mean I will be taking decisions as to whom India can trade with or which country to go to war with. Instead, I just went and cast my vote for a leader who will be taking such decisions.
Frankly speaking, I wasn’t (am still not) a great follower of politics. I only knew the names of the bigwigs contesting in the elections since the last couple of months, I had only been reading various posts on my Facebook wall with half-baked knowledge on who the best leader for the country was. As the election date grew nearer, I did my bit. I researched on the leaders who were standing from my constituency, discussed here and there, overheard from here and there and finally I knew around 4-5 candidates for the Lok Sabha seat amongst the 30 odd and around 2-3 Assembly candidates and rounded upon the couple of people I’d be voting for.
And finally the big day arrived.
The sweltering summer heat has been tortuous over the past few days and hence I decided to wake up at 6:30 AM and be amongst the first people to vote (and also post my finger on Facebook). Alas! Over the past few years 7 AM became the new 10 AM and there were already a few people in the queue and the line began growing at an astonishing pace. Anyways, I was done with my voting (for the first ever time) by 7:30 AM and returned home with a sense of accomplishment. It wasn’t an easy vote to cast and I ended up voting for the most literate of the lot (Ssshh! I won’t be saying who lest I want my vote be invalid à la Naidu).
That's my vote :)

Before the D-Day, if there was a flood of posts about whom to vote, then the D-Day was a Tsunami. Inked fingers and posts like ‘Voted for a better India’, ‘Did my part’ and ‘#Vote4change’ became the norm of the day. People exulted like they’d won a war. While some went to work, others just sank into their couches on the national holiday. The much hyped about Election drama was over, with just the touch of a button. Despite all the hype and buzz generated, the polling percentage in the city just about crossed the 50% mark.

Venky, who had done a lot of campagining work on Facebook, finally casts his vote.
And then, inked fingers became photoshiopped inked fingers

May 01, 2014 - It was like yesterday never happened. The entire buzz about the Great Indian elections died down. Profile pictures changed again. Ink on the fingers were replaced by pouts on the faces and people went back to laughing at Jose Mourinho and applauding Cristiano Ronaldo. It will probably remain this way now for the next fortnight as we approach the end of the season in the Premier League and that the IPL has returned to India.
In exactly two weeks from today, on May 16, the election result date, I foresee my Facebook wall going bonkers again. Ecstasy and anguish will be the flavor of the day. There will be forecasts about where the country is headed in the next five years. The pessimists will just write off that the country is going down the gutter while there may be optimists who see a bright future. And there will be a bunch for whom it wouldn’t matter much (I wouldn’t want to speculate in which category I would fall in).

And then only a week after this, the world will be back to normal. People will live with the new leader, no matter how good or bad. And then Facebook can be used a media to vent out frustration about the state of affairs of the country.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Three years and counting!!

It feels like only yesterday, that I had passed out of college and had to choose which company I would choose to start my corporate career in. I had precisely four offers and they were all equally good, paid just about the same and located within a few kilometers of each other. The choice for me, though, wasn’t very tough. I chose the one with a green campus!
The beautiful sprawling campus!!

On May 3, 2010 when I got ready for my first day at Franklin Templeton, I was a nervous wreck. I had no clue as to how I was going to be treated, how the people were going to be and whether I would enjoy going to office the next day. But the moment I stepped into the sprawling campus, I felt at home.

After a week of induction along with 30 other nervous freshers like me, there came the day where we would be moved to different departments. Everyone had their own concern: some wanted day shifts; some wanted a not so challenging department while a few wished they be moved to a team with pretty people.

The Induction days

Me? I had no idea! The whole week was a blur and I was living a dream. The beautiful campus, delicious food at the cafeteria (I’m not sure if I’d say it’s still delicious), unlimited supply of Thums-Up (which I don’t drink anymore) and access to a new sport, Table Tennis. Secretly, I wished I would be moved to a team with people I would enjoy working with.

GIAC India, July 2010

It was like the sorting ceremony you saw in Harry Potter, where the sorting hat decides which team you moved into. Here, the managers or the HRs sorted you into teams. I was moved into the Global Investment Adviser Compliance and a week later, I was sure I would enjoy my time at Franklin Templeton Investments.
The work was challenging and interesting where you learnt something new every day (it still holds true today). But over all that, the people around me were just very supportive. I belonged here!

GIAC India - November, 2011

It was not all work though! A few months later, I went on my first office trip to Vizag and followed it up a trip to Goa later in the year. The extra-curricular activities were buzzing too! I soon became a part of the Cricket and Football teams and began spending the weekends returning back to office for the matches. It became my second home, within no time!

Vizag - the city of destiny!!

First trip to Goa

One year passed in the blink of an eye and so did two! Today, I finally complete three whole years at Franklin Templeton Investments and I must agree that the dream lives on. Still a part of the same team albeit with new colleagues, the work remains challenging and interesting. The campus has grown greener with the addition of the new cricket ground, Thums-Up has been replaced with Coke (I drink coffee, though) and I have won two runner-up trophies in the new sport, Table Tennis and put on no less than 20 kgs since I joined – a sign the office is taking care of you ;)

GIAC India - April, 2013

A few more pics from my journey at FT!!

A frequent visitor at the campus - the Cobra!

India vs Pakistan, 2011 - World Cup semifinal

I even played Basketball

Thats a few of my awards :)

Redbacks :)

And a few of my favorite people! :)

Hinaaa :)

The dream lives on. Three years and counting!! ;)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I was there!!! :D

Border-Gavaskar Trophy - 2nd Test
India vs. Australia, Hyderabad

I’m a cricket fanatic! I’d probably be amongst the top ten fans in the country, like a million others would claim to be. I follow domestic cricket, junior cricket, women cricket, school, college and club cricket in my city and I will be able to tell you the top 30 cricketers from Hyderabad. I had been to a few ICL games, a Champions League game where Kieron Pollard sent the ball flying out of the park like he was playing in the streets and a few IPL games. I had seen Sourav Ganguly field at an arm’s distance away during a Duleep Trophy game. But I had never watched an International game before. My biggest regret still remains not being able to get tickets to watch Sachin’s 175 against the Australia right in my backyard. A few months ago when New Zealand visited Hyderabad, I made sure I got the tickets booked before hand and was all set to watch Day 2. After all the hustle and bustle of leading a busy life, I, along with a group of ten, reached the ground to watch the second session. New Zealand, chasing India’s 438 capitualted to a 159 all out and was made to follow on by Dhoni much to our dismay. Nevertheless, I was excited as this was going to my first brush with International cricket, a place where I felt I belonged some twenty years ago. We had barely reached the entrance when a dark cloud loomed out of nowhere and burst open right over the ground. The shower lasted barely 15 minutes but it did enough damage for play to be called for the day. We had the gates shut right on our faces and we weren’t even allowed to enter the ground, forget watching a ball of International Cricket. Being the working person that I am, I couldn’t afford to take leave to watch Cricket the next day as New Zealand lost by an innings and 115 runs. The next year was spent avoiding the IPL games as they never really felt like “the thing.” I secretly prayed to Sachin not to retire as I had to see him in action, had to see the ball race away like a tracer bullet and had to be a part of the reception that he gets when he walks into bat. And then God (Sachin) answered my prayer. The Kanpur test was moved to Hyderabad!!! The Aussies would be coming to the land of Biryani, to the land of the pearls and to the home of their favorite nemesis, VVS Laxman. I made sure I would leave no stone unturned this time. I was going to watch International test Cricket, hook or crook. A good fortune was spent on acquiring the tickets and there were ten of them. We were finally going to watch men in whites playing with a red ball in the greens of my hometown. Cricket, really is a colorful game!! Early to bed and early to rise probably indicates unskilled labor. But on this occasion, I was hardly able to sleep and was awake much before sunrise (Oh! By the way, our new IPL team’s name is called Sunrisers) and started calling the entire gang home by 7 AM. The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, on any other day, is just a 15 minute ride from home, but it being the big day, took nearly an hour to get there. Watching cricket at Indian grounds has been less harrowing of late is what I have read (I can’t imagine how it would have been earlier). There was no designated parking space and we had to park our bikes in the corner of the road outside the stadium with thousands of other bikes (If you had planned to watch only one session of the game and leave during the Lunch break, good luck on finding and getting out your vehicle!) Since we had booked our tickets online and got to the stadium early, we could select the pavilion under the canopy right beside the sightscreen thus giving us the view a complete 180 degree view from over the bowler’s shoulder or behind the wicketkeeper.


The Australians were having their intense warm-up sessions right in front of us. Led by Clarke, the Kangaroos seemed to enjoy their fielding drills. In the other corner of the ground were a much more relaxed bunch of boys with Shikhar Dhawan, Pragyan Ojha and Ajinkya Rahane taking catches. It was pretty evident that these were the guys going to warm the bench for this Test. And in another corner, a tall lanky lad with long hair was going through his strides and Captain Cool was having a talk with the curator. And a little more further, I caught my first glimpse of God; the little master having a fun chat and having a knock with Sehwag. The way he middle the ball was a treat to the eyes and I kept hoping that MSD would win the toss so that I could see the little master in action. The warm-ups and the fielding drills continued as Ravi Shastri was spotted in the centre giving a pitch report until the clocks ticked 9 and the captains walked out to the centre, smartly dressed in blazers. Unfortunately, it was Clarke who won the toss, and as expected elected to bat. There was a sense of disappointment, but nevertheless I was excited. As expected, Sehwag kept his place in the line-up and Harbhajan was preferred over the local hero Ojha while the Aussies pulled off a surprise by including Doherty and Maxwell in the squad in place of Lyon and Starc. It was half past nine and the umpires walked out to the centre followed by MSD and his men as the crowd went delirious. The largest cheer, obviously went to Sachin, as the Dave Warner and Ed Cowan silently made their way to the centre. As you usually expect on the flat, dry wickets in India, I was expecting it to be a hard toil for the bowlers but it took only 14 balls for the crowd to erupt. India’s newest star Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, got the ball to pitch on off and cut inside as Warner’s stumps went for a walk.


 The Aussies were one down before you even knew it. The young impressive pacer struck again as Ed Cowan was adjudged leg before after a long, almost unending appeal. Shane Watson strode out into the centre and before his brief stay at the crease was ended by Kumar again, there was one stroke which I might never forget. It was a pitched up delivery and Watson, almost like a machine, drove it past back the bowler to the straight boundary. He remained unmoved for a couple of seconds and it must have made a pretty picture. Ashwin was introduced into the attack and dismissed Hughes and Aussies were four down before lunch on the first day!! The lunch break was spent watching the Aussie reserves go through their fielding drills. Steven Smith was clearly the entertainer plucking catches out of thin air and practicing his catching on the boundary (preparing for the IPL, perhaps?). Mitchell Johnson’s throws were thudding into the gloves while the other Mitchell looked a bit clumsy with his throws. The second session belonged to Australia. Clarke looked as comfortable as he would have been in his living room in Sydney while Wade looked more aggressive. The crowd though refused to be silenced by the duo as they began chanting Sachin’s name and was egged on by Kohli whenever they became silent. Sachin fielded at fine leg for most part of the session and the entire section of the East stands crowded up near him and went beserk whenever he waved to them or moved an inch or removed his cap or even scratched his head as Australia went into the tea break without any casualities. “Catches win matches,” they say and an ordinary Harbhajan Singh got rid of Matthew Wade, thanks to a fantastic diving catch by the man of the day Bhuvaneshwar Kumar. Sir Ravindra Jadeja, as he is fondly called nowadays, then struck with a peach of a delivery to dismiss Henriques and then debutant Maxwell departed without troubling the scorers much. Getting to watch the Indians bat looked a realistic hope and Sir Jadeja struck again to remove Captain Clarke. He received a standing ovation for his brilliant knock and I personally felt he deserved a century to show for his knock. Clarke, then repaid my love for him, by calling a shock declaration, so that the Aussie quicks could have a go at the Indian openers at the end of the day. Sehwag and Vijay walked into bat amidst loud cheers and survived three overs of fiery pace bowling from Pattinson and Siddle as India finished as the winners on Day 1, a really pleasing day for the real Indian cricket fan. Now the next day being a Sunday and where Sachin was definitely going to bat, I should have been at the ground by 6:00 AM, but Alas!! I had a match of my own that I couldn’t afford to miss and had to make a terrible choice of having to miss Sachin bat. All I could do was to hope he would remain unbeaten at the end of the day and arrange for tickets for the next day! What happened next was the God’s answers to my prayers (yes, yet again!). Sehwag was dismissed early in the day but Pujara and Vijay dished out a partnership that would have made Dravid and Laxman proud. They brought up their centuries and played till close of day as the crowd’s “We want Sachin” chants went in vain.


The first thing to do at the end of the second day was book tickets for Day 3, take permission to come a little late to office and prepare mentally to see God in action. We reached the ground around 8:00 AM and I was surprised to see a near full house on a Monday. Luckily we got the stands under the canopy again as Vijay and Pujara came out to resume their marathon partnership. Vijay was the first to get off the blocks reaching his 150 while Pujara looked as solid as ever. The Sachin chant kept growing louder and Vijay was the first one to succumb to the pressure as he gave leg slip a simple catch. The crowd erupted. One must pity Vijay as not even an Australian wicket was treated with so much joy. And then the moment of reckoning arrived!! All of 5’5”, bat tucked under his shoulder, looking up at the skies the little Master walked into bat as the crowd broke into a frenzy.


The noise showed no signs of reducing as the crowd got louder as the genius took his guard and made a few trademark adjustments. Maxwell, the debutant ran into bowl from around the stumps as the forward leg short leg and leg slip were all in position. He must be a little nervous, surely? No, there were no signs of it as he confidently defended the ball back to the bowler as the crowd just kept getting louder. A few balls later, he was off the mark with a customary paddle to fine leg as he played out till lunch time. The Australian reserves kept the crowd entertained during the lunch time with their fielding drills and it was 40 minutes more until Sachin walked into bat again. This time we were lucky enough to see the ball race away to the boundary of the blade of the Master. I’m sure that the management committee in the neighboring MNC wouldn’t have been pleased as the decibels went up by a few notches. My dream was fulfilled but I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted him to play till the end of the day, and probably more! But it wasn’t to be. Siddle delivered a ball down the leg side and was well collected by Wade. But Siddle seemed to be animatedly appealing even though the keeper looked disinterested. The on-field umpire, after a initial shake of the head, walked up to his partner and decided to consult the third umpire. After what seemed like a million replays, the umpire overturned his decision and thus breaking a few thousand hearts in the process. The Master just turned and began walking back nonchalantly to the pavilion. The crowd, initially silenced by the decision, gave the Master a standing ovation as he walked back into the dressing room. Mahender Singh Dhoni was the next into bat and he entertained the crowd over the next thirty minutes as he scored a quickfire 40. The ball began gripping and bouncing as the next five Indian wickets fell for just 43 runs and before we knew it, Warner and Ed Cowan were walking into bat again! I had taken permission from my work place and so had to run back to office, albeit a few hours late. India finished the day on top getting Warner and Hughes before stumps, but that, by far, was my most memorable day of a Test match.
What happened next? India turned up on the next day and picked up the remaining Aussie wickets in the first session. Ashwin picked up another five for while Jadeja’s delivery to Michael Clarke grabbed the headlines. And me? A few Facebook statuses and a huge article like this later, I proudly reflect back on the fact that I was a part of a International Test Match, one in which Australia received a drubbing at the hands of India! :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2011 - Top 10

10. X’mas in Goa :
I had been there, done that only three months ago! But exploring Goa in the midst of Christmas on your rented Activa is a different experience altogether with the small state decked up and colorfully lit up for Christmas. We also happened to witness a carnival/festival as the people of the place celebrated their 50th Liberation Day.

9. Massacre in Manchester:
Sir Alex Ferguson summed up this game beautifully – “When we hit form like that, someone suffers. Unfortunately Arsenal were at the receiving end today.”
Manchester City had just gone on top of the league with a 5-1 thrashing of West Bromwich Albion and United had a tough job when they hosted the Gunners at the Theatre of Dreams. The next 90 minutes though was a massacre of sorts with Rooney pulling in 3 goals while Young scoring 2. The scoreboard read an astonishing 8-2, the first time Arsenal conceded eight since 1896.

8. Rafting in the Beas:
Ice-cool water, a raging river and a hydrophobic. Three words that never make a good combo. Fortunately they did come together in the chilly summer up in Kullu as the ten of us decided to raft in the raging and swirling Beas. 15 minutes and 9 kilometers of screaming and howling later, rafting was one thing I checked off my to-do adventure list.

7. Turning 21:
Birthdays, for me, was just another day. Or rather another day to hog. This time, the day happened to fall when we were on our return trip from the Himalayas. After a gigantic lunch in Delhi, my oh-so-awesome friends decided to surprise me with a cake (By the way surprise cakes are no surprises). A sinfully delightful chocolate cake from Delhi with cherries from Himachal Pradesh cut on the Andhra Pradesh express. I’m a true Indian afterall.

6. Piece of paper:
We had walked for 60 kilometers over the past four days. On the fifth day, we were told that it would be a much more relaxed day with only 8-10 kms to cover. After walking and trodding and laughing, we reached a point where it showed that we had to walk 7 more kilometers to reach our camp. We walked and walked and walked a bit more on the never-ending stretch of the forest path with no clue of the destination. Just as we had given up hope (for the umpteenth time) that we were about to reach, there was a piece of paper stuck on a tree which said Nandran YHAI Base Camp, the best piece of paper I had seen all life. I was told that we walked 21 kilometers that day.

5. The No.10 Jersey
There was only one day left for the World Cup to begin and there was excitement all around. I was only getting ready to leave for office when the courier guy showed up at my door, “Courier for Monish Menon.” I wondered what could have come from Myntra Stores as I didn’t recollect ordering anything recently. I was getting late to catch my shuttle but curiosity took over as I ripped apart the package only to find the brand new India jersey with ‘MENON’ etched on its back.
There was no way India was going to lose the World Cup now with its new No.10 jersey supporter.

4. Hail Ho - That is Snow!!

The Himalayan expedition began with an adventure of sorts! After an eventful journey upto Delhi, the bus dropped us at our base camp in Kullu – until we realized a bag had been left back in the bus. A call to the driver later, all of us set off for Manali in a local bus. As the vehicle climbed and gained altitude in the warm sun, it gave us a first view of the big snowy mountains we were going to cover in the next fortnight. It was the first time all of us were seeing snow and it definitely was a memorable moment.
The luggage was found but our adventure continued as I lost my jacket containing my wallet on the return to Kullu.

3. We are the Champions:
India had beat Pakistan in the semifinals and I thought nothing could beat the experience of watching that match in an overcrowded cafeteria at office. I was wrong, it would get better. 13 of us gathered at my place to witness history. With tri-colored faces, Indian jerseys, whistles, flags, a yummy cake and 13 of the noisiest supporters, one could be pardoned if he thought my house was the venue for the final.
And when Dhoni hit that six, they could also be forgiven if they thought that a volcano had erupted!

2. OK this was a surprise!!

The clock had turned 12 – and I had turned 21 while we were on the bus returning to Delhi after the great Himalayan sojourn. But it was only in the morning that I had got my gift – a big book which had a collage of me crawling, on a bicycle and on a bike on the cover page. I opened the pages only to see various friends, cousins, colleagues wish me, write (nice things) about me, stories (weird ones) and lots of pictures.
There are gifts – and then there are gifts like these!!

1. The slide:

Six days had passed by. Nearly 14000 feet gained. Snow and Hail seen. Now was the time for the descent. We knew that we would be down in only two days. But a snow slide?
With a rucksack on the back, plastic sheets beneath the butt and at a terrifying speed, we slid down the Saurkundi Pass for over a kilometer and a half - half hoping it would finish ASAP, half hoping it would go on and on. One minute of adrenaline and a few burnt hands (yes, burnt in snow) later, it was over! Definitely one of the best things ever done!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 - The year that was!!

2010 saw me graduate, get a job, start writing and buy a bike for myself. So if 2010 was the breakthrough year, 2011 was the year I needed to build upon it. And as 2011 comes to an end, I can say it has been an eventful year – growth on the work front, writer to sub-editor, a gazillion movies watched, a bike that still dazzles and a whole lot of new friends :D.
2011, for me, was the year of travel, and I went on no less than five different trips apart from two road trips outside the city. Starting off with a trip to Vizag in January with my office-mates, I went to Mumbai in April before setting off for the once-in- a-lifetime trek up the Himalayas. And by the end of the year, I had completed exploring Goa with two different trips, one of which was a National trek.
2011 also was the year of the World Cup where I was lucky to see India become the Champions of the World. It was also the first time I wasn’t in town for my birthday but it was more than made up for with the best gift ever and a sinfully delicious cake on the train.
All in all, I would rate 2011 amongst my best years and would happily rate it 8.5 on a scale of 10.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Saurkundi Pass Trek

Himalayan Trek - May 21 - June 04, 2011 Slideshow: Monish’s trip from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India to Himachal Pradesh was created by TripAdvisor. See another Himachal Pradesh slideshow. Create your own stunning free slideshow from your travel photos.