MJ and I

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Hi friends,

You guessed it right. It’s indeed Michael Jackson I’m referring to. It’s his birthday today (sob, sob). As a generation, we grew up on his songs. Then I was a youngster; I could just listen to his songs and enjoy them. As I grew up, I could write too – that’s what brings us to this blog, today. I wanted to use this opportunity to pen a few lines about the King of Pop. Unlike a few other worthless singers who audaciously titled themselves ‘King of Pop’, MJ was named that by his producers, critics and fans unanimously. That’s what a true legend looks like.

Mah nigga… wait, I’m not Samuel L. Jackson, so I’ll drop the n-word. MJ was born on 29th August 1958; 18 years before I did. That’s approximately one generation ahead. No wonder, my Mamas (maternal uncles) were hooked on this kind of music. The household I grew up in, was quite liberal in terms of religion, politics, music, etc. – no bounds, no limits. Audiotapes (it was the ’70s) of M.S. Subbalaxmi, Yesudas, Ilayaraja could happily co-exist with MJ, Boney M, Carpenters, ABBA, etc. This is what exposed me to equal amounts of Indian and Western music.. both contemporary and classical.

Getting back to MJ… he began early as the lead singer of The Jackson Five. His parents’ musical pursuits brushed off on him too. While his father played the guitar in his leisure, his mother played the clarinet and the piano. Music already ran through his veins. I am sure that is what made him joined his brother’s band – aptly titled ‘The Jackson Five’. They were Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael (R.I.P.). The other four brothers are alive, though. It was around 1975-76 that MJ decided to go solo. But hold on…. this is not his biography. This is about how MJ’s musical timeline coincides with my life. Let’s get to that point now.

My first brush with MJ music dates back to his fifth solo album – OFF THE WALL which was released in 1979 (I was 2, going on 3). One song stayed with me – the soulful ballad SHE’S OUT OF MY LIFE. Unlike other fast-paced MJ songs with oodles of oohs and aahs… this song was slow and melodious. If I had a break-up, it would cut right through my soul. But I was just 2 – a toddler. ‘Relevance’ hadn’t set in yet. I just enjoyed the songs.

Cut to 1982. Then I was 6. No longer a toddler – I was then a boy and could walk and talk properly. While the entire world was going ga-ga over the song THRILLER from that album – I was replaying a few other tracks too – from the slow-paced HUMAN NATURE to the medium-paced BILLIE JEAN, BEAT IT and THE GIRL IS MINE all the way to the fast-paced WANNA BE STARTIN’ SOMETHIN’. I loved THRILLER too (so does my 9-year old daughter). Those were the days – school days – carefree days full of fun and frolic.

BAD was released in 1987. Then I was 11 – a bigger, BAD-der boy. I just made up that word. I had my entire peer group crooning to the tune of the melodious, slow-paced LIBERIAN GIRL, I JUST CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU and MAN IN THE MIRROR – moving on to THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL, DIRTY DIANA, SMOOTH CRIMINAL and finally asking who’s BAD?

Then came DANGEROUS in 1991. This time though I was slow on catching up with MJ. It was only in 1997 that I graduated from college and got my first job that I could PURCHASE my first audiotape… MJ’s DANGEROUS. I relished on gems like BLACK OR WHITE, WHO IS IT, REMEMBER THE TIME etc. While REMEMBER THE TIME reminded me of the time when I had my first brush with teenage romance (one that failed miserably), soulful ballads like HEAL THE WORLD begged the whole to restore peace and harmony. BLACK OR WHITE sent a message asking all of us to get above RACIST lines. These songs indeed had a considerable influence on my persona.

This stage of my life marked my growing distances with MJ’s music. This was the time when I was introduced to the INTERNET and had access to other artists’ music. All I had to pay for was internet access. I could (surreptitiously) download several MP3 tracks. That was the in-thing those days. ‘In-thing’ = ‘trending things’ in millennials parlance.

Somehow I could never get MJ’s music out of my system. I bought his audio tapes (no money for CDs or CD players, you see). The DVD was for the rich. We could go as far as CDs. I could barely manage 1.44 MB floppy disks. Hence – audiotapes. One thing led to another and one sad day, i.e. 25th June 2009, I got the sad news of MJ’s death. I was in a movie hall. It was the interval and I had gone to buy some coffee. It was purely instinctive. I bought the coffee, turned around and saw the large-screen television flashing the news of MJ’s accidental death (lethal overdose of propofol). 

I was in tears. To me, he was a living legend (till that day – afterwards we could not use the word ‘living’ alongside legend). I was amongst a crowd. Many MJ fans like me, were confused – not sure how to react. I wanted a release. I dumped my coffee and headed for the loo. I locked myself and wept my heart out. It was over in a minute. I was 33, a man and crying in public was not meant for men (that’s what the society said and I believed then). I regained my composure, washed my face and walked out of the movie. After that, I could not watch the movie for obvious reasons.

I went to my apartment and crashed (went to sleep). I didn’t want to talk to anyone that night. All his melodious songs were racing in my mind. I’m sure some readers may think, “big deal – he was just an artist”. They say, “to each, his own”. For others, it may not be a big deal – but to me it was. Not that I went into mourning, or drank heavily – nothing like that happened. It was just immense grief – that’s all. I was out of it the next day. The show must go on. Time waits for no one. In a few days, I was over my grief completely. Akon gave me a good parting song for MJ – HOLD MY HAND. While the song was recorded in 2007 i.e. when MJ was alive, it was posthumously released in 2010. That song still gives me a ‘lump-in-the-throat. It’s been over a decade now (12 years to be precise).

The void he left in the musical scene (in my opinion) remains vacant. For people like me, there won’t be another MJ. So here’s to you MJ – Happy Birthday. I’ll miss you till the end.

May your soul rest in peace.

Bye folks.

About Post Author

Kottayi Amith

A teacher, a father, an agreeable (do I have a choice?) husband - I love to play with words. I spin the yarn - and she maintains the (cob)webs. As different as chalk and cheese - we get along very well on this one topic - My Website. Welcome to our world of words and ways of word-smithy. I hope you do not regret your visit here, to say the least.
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We will survive…

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Read Time:3 Minute, 22 Second

Hello friends. It’s good to write once again, although this post comes a bit later – but like they always say – better late than never. The heading is aptly titled. We (humans) as a race are quite resilient. We have survived a lot – and we still move on undaunted. A few noteworthy mentions are earthquakes, famines, impact events, limnic eruptions, wildfires/bushfires, avalanches/landslides, blizzards, floods, heatwaves, tornadoes, tropical cyclones, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions etc.

I saved the best for last – epidemics and pandemics. We hear these terms being used interchangeably and thrown around a lot, these days. One that everybody’s talking about these days is coronavirus and COVID19. YES – these two, although related – are different terms. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was discovered only in December 2019 while coronaviruses were discovered way back in the 1930s (almost 90 years ago).

I will not beat around the bush or even bother describing the two terms mentioned above. I’m sure you (readers) know a lot about them already. How correct your information is – is a matter of debate though. Now let’s look at the title once again. The reason this post is titled that way is that we have ‘been there, done that’ several times before.

To begin with I’d like to focus on the part where an epidemic is different from a pandemic. An epidemic is a disease that spreads faster than expected and affects more individuals over a widespread area. A pandemic is more like the big brother of ‘epidemic’ in the sense that the reach of a pandemic spans several countries simultaneously. But, as I said before – COVID19 isn’t the first or the deadliest of epidemics/pandemics. We have seen worse. Here’s a lowdown on some pandemic/epidemic humans have survived.

Ref.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_epidemics

In the late 19th to early 20th century, there was smallpox. It raged for almost 100 years across several countries and killed as many as 500 million (50 crores). The 15th century gave us another dreaded killer – plague a.k.a. Black Death that raged across most of Europe, Asia and North Africa. It wiped clean as much as 60% of the European population in 22 long years. Its death toll was almost 200 million (20 crores). The 20th century threw another pandemic on us – Spanish flu or H1N1 or what’s technically called Influenza A virus sub-type H1N1. It killed almost 100 million people in just two years. 1855 to 1860 saw the demonic rage of the Bubonic plague that last for five years. In that time, 12 million perished in just India and China alone. The global numbers would definitely have been way more than that. This brings us to the recent scenario of COVID19 – it has claimed 60,000 (as on 3rd April 2020) or even more, globally.


The point I’m trying to make is that COVID19 is just a baby compared to the monstrosities the whole world has seen since we started recording medical history. The pandemic or epidemic should teach us a valuable lesson – we are vulnerable. We’re not the strongest beings on earth – but we are the most resilient. The dinosaurs perished, so did several other species (where human greed was not involved) – but we kept evolving. We won’t go down in history so easily. But to do that we need to understand our limitations as human beings. There are several diseases – we have no cure for. Our immunity and value for life are our strongest weapons in this perennial fight for survival. So, to see another day, in such critical times, let’s follow simple rules of hygiene, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, eat, sleep and wake on time, read a lot, try to learn new skills, list to music, meditate, cleanse our mind and body – in short – let’s stay home – and SAFE.

Live today to fight tomorrow.

Till we meet again, may the better sense prevail!!!

About Post Author

Kottayi Amith

A teacher, a father, an agreeable (do I have a choice?) husband - I love to play with words. I spin the yarn - and she maintains the (cob)webs. As different as chalk and cheese - we get along very well on this one topic - My Website. Welcome to our world of words and ways of word-smithy. I hope you do not regret your visit here, to say the least.
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Quitting?

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Hello friends. I’m back after yet another hiatus. I was hibernating, or so, I feel. But, now that I’m back – let’s talk. The other day, one of my ex-colleagues, Jack, said he’s quitting – said that he was going through a rough patch at work and that he can’t take it any more. While I empathized with him, I wasn’t sure if what he did, made for a good decision. I was discussing this with yet another good friend (and ex-colleague) Shantanu – when he shone the light of wisdom on the matter.

Here’s what he had to say about that other friend’s decision – UNWISE. He then went on to say “Never quit your job when you’re sad/upset/in trouble”. As another wise man (way before him) said, “When a ship sinks, it’s the rats that abandon it first”. Not a lover of Animal Planet – I did not notice that – well, I’ve never been on a ship either.

Getting back to the point – his theory was simple. When you quit as a desperate measure – you lose an essential weapon from your arsenal – your power to bargain. It was simple to understand – if one quits when desperate – they could hopelessly cling to the branch that’s easily available. Now, this branch may not be the strongest – it could snap once you’ve let go of your previous job (support). This could eventually land you a job that you don’t like.

Even worst can happen to you – as mentioned earlier – you’ve already lost your bargaining power. You end up settling for lesser pay than you deserve. All this because you need another job at the earliest. You fear that bargaining for a better package could lead you to lose that opportunity too. You not only lose your power to bargain, in more ways than one – you compromise on your self-respect too. You cut a sorry figure before your next prospective employer (your interviewer – at that moment).

Long story short, plan a move when the going’s good. Don’t be surprised – you’ve read it right – when the going’s good. When the going’s good – you’re at your bargaining best. This is for a simple reason – you HAVE a job at hand and that if the prospective employer rejects you or cannot cede to your salary requirements – you don’t stand to lose anything. You can happily get back to your existing gainful employment.

There’s another benefit – if you apply elsewhere ‘when the going’s good’ you can get a better idea of your market-worthiness or how much you’re worth in the market at that point in time. This can help you renegotiate your payment terms with your existing employer – you can let them know that you’ve figured what your current market worth is. You can find out if your employer is willing to do a ‘market correction’. If they don’t – you’re free to move.

So, the next time you find yourself job-hunting – ask yourself this simple question – “Why am I quitting?”. The answer should sound like “because I see a better opportunity” or “just to size up my market-worth” and not something like “This job sucks – I need to find another job.”

While I wanted to write a ‘short’ this time – I still ended up crossing the 500-word mark. Well, I can’t complain. I can let you live in peace, though. Bye for now.

Ciao!!!

About Post Author

Kottayi Amith

A teacher, a father, an agreeable (do I have a choice?) husband - I love to play with words. I spin the yarn - and she maintains the (cob)webs. As different as chalk and cheese - we get along very well on this one topic - My Website. Welcome to our world of words and ways of word-smithy. I hope you do not regret your visit here, to say the least.
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Microsoft Windows and I

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Hello friends,

I’m back – this is just a hibernation break though. After writing this – I’ll probably go back to hibernation. While I was busy fixing my PC (read transforming), I stumbled upon something we use daily but very conveniently forget – the OS or the operating system. I’m talking about Microsoft Windows. Although I’ve tried my hands at Mac OS and Linux – I prefer Windows for the ease-of-use it offers. For free, that is. That’s when I randomly dug deeper and started looking at the timeline – I couldn’t help noticing how it coincided with mine. In more ways than one, I seem to have evolved at the same rate Windows did. Let me tell you about it…

Microsoft launched Windows 1.0 on 20/11/1985 – when I was 8 years, 10 months, and 27 days old, to be precise. In just about 2 years, they launched Windows 2.0 (9/12/1987) – 2 weeks before I turned 11. When I was scraping through the 8th grade, they came up with Windows 3.0 (22/5/1990). All this while, I was a happy child – completely oblivious to the fact that computers exist.

From childhood – I attained boyhood – so did Windows. When I joined college (FY B.Sc.) – Microsoft launched Windows 95. This is the first time I got the first inkling about the piece of work called COMPUTER. One of my classmates had enrolled for ‘Computer Classes’ and he would blow his own (computer) trumpet, almost all the time. This definitely got my attention – I enrolled in a computer class a little after graduation.

The computer institute I went to (in 1997-98), used PC that were powered by the then archaic Windows 3.1 (launched 6/4/1982). They just had one PC that run Windows 98 (launched 25/6/1998). Till 2003, most of my computer usage was restricted to other’s PCs. I got my own computer (actually my sister owes the credit) only towards the turn of 2004. It was a Celeron-powered humble rig that allowed some gaming and multimedia usage. It sported a 17” CRT monitor and a 40GB HDD. I stayed ahead of the erstwhile game with a CD-RW drive and an insanely bass-y Altec Lansing ATP3 (2.1 configurations). My peer group’s PCs barely had a CD-ROM drive and some nondescript stereo speakers.

I was the crazy kind – I had a music CD years before I owned a PC. I have lived the age of the 486 and the humongous 5 ¼ inch FDD that supported a maximum of 10 MB. I quickly moved on to the 3.5” FDD that now supported 20 MB. Back to Windows – on 25/4/2005 Microsoft launched Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and on 15/8/2005 I moved to Mumbai. This is after I had previously braved the 26th July deluge [You can read about it here]. A little later, the same year they launched Windows Server 2003 R2 (6/12/2005). This coincides with the time I joined Convergys (Malad).

On 22/10/2009 the world saw the launch of Windows 7 – this comes a little after I had completed my first year working with the erstwhile 3 Global (now Tech Mahindra Business Services). As the years passed by I graduated and from Bachelor’s – I went on to claim the Master’s degree – not in college; in life. I hope you’ve understood by now what I mean.

On 26/10/2012 Microsoft gifted the world Windows 8. On 22/11/2012, my wife gifted me our little bundle of joy – my daughter. A lot of water has flown under the bridge since 1985 and more is yet to come – both, in my life and the Microsoft stables. Just before we close this chapter, I’d like to inform you that on 29/7/2015, Microsoft skipped 9 and launched Windows 10. An incorrigible technophile, I’m eagerly waiting for the next Windows launch.

In the meanwhile – let’s all get back to work. We have bills to pay and mouths to feed.

Hasta la próxima.

About Post Author

Kottayi Amith

A teacher, a father, an agreeable (do I have a choice?) husband - I love to play with words. I spin the yarn - and she maintains the (cob)webs. As different as chalk and cheese - we get along very well on this one topic - My Website. Welcome to our world of words and ways of word-smithy. I hope you do not regret your visit here, to say the least.
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