MJ and I

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.

Tell Us Something About Yourself

The other day, I just got back from a 15-minute a.k.a short break during my ‘Communications Training’. My trainer had a wonderful activity in store for us. We had to introduce ourselves in a story or poetry form. No names to be disclosed. At first, it seemed a herculean task – but as I started writing, I figured it was worse. It just didn’t sit well with me. I had to do something different – something that helps me express myself. I didn’t want to cut a sorry figure mouthing lines like a parrot. That’s when I decided to go extempore (Show-off, did you say? Well… then, show-off it is). What came out of my mouth the other day was an excerpt. Here are the whole nine yards. Read on!!!

Several blue moons ago, in a dusty town, which by the way is also known as Orange City, landed a lanky yet handsome blue-eyed man with his lissom wife. No – they didn’t meet there, didn’t fall in love there (arranged marriage, you see), didn’t get married there (that happened in God’s Own Country) – they just reached there from yet another town, about 250KM East. This was the beginning of an epic journey called Marital Life that they embarked on, in the year MCMLXXVI AD, a leap year, the year in which Eagles released Hotel California.

It was not a bed of roses – far from it. While they could just make ends meet, I’m sure that’s not what every man/woman dream of after entering the sacrament of Holy matrimony (no – we’re not Catholics). One thing led to another and they brought their first offspring into this big bad world. Seven pounds and a half – a healthy baby – the firstborn – a SON. In a patriarchal world, this was good news. Now knowing any better – they named him after the erstwhile reigning superstar of what is now called Bollywood.

The day is special too – it was a pleasant winter afternoon-going-on-evening. 1620 IST if I could be precise. It was the very day, several millennia ago, a messiah was born in Bethlehem. I’d like to quote a few lines from the famous Boney M song – Mary’s Boy Child (released in 1978 – that’s not my Y.O.B.)

While shepherds watch their flocks by night

They see a bright new shining star

They hear a choir sing a song, the music seemed to come from afar

Hark, now hear the angels sing, a king was born today

And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day

Wait a minute, my Christian brethren – I mean no disrespect. Just a coincidence, here. Peace?

Not a king – but the apple of their eye.

Not a manger – but a small hospital in the urban area of the largest city of North Malabar. The place has a sobriquet too – The land of looms and lore.

That’s where this skinny boy was born. 25th December. Don’t get funny ideas – the boy was far from what you’re already thinking. If you thought of the devil – we couldn’t agree any more than this. Good Job.

This family took the boy to his new home – back to Orange City. The house was a rented apartment in a pre-independence building. This is where he would go from crawling on all fours to riding on two wheels (driven by a moderately powerful 125cc engine). He spent the first 29 years of his life there. More on this here.

Moving On

In 2005, this boy – now a young man moved bag and baggage to what is also called the City of Seven Island, City of Dreams, Maximum City etc. this was where he knew what a five-figure salary feels like. He also got a taste of Adrenaline rush, some Ethanol derivates, some Cortisol, some serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins etc. This city looked like a nuthouse to him, in the beginning. He never knew he would settle down here and start a family one fine day.

More on the boy’s/young man’s migration diaries here.

The boy who once got into trouble for NOT SPEAKING to classmates – now instructs his students NOT TO SPEAK to classmates (only while he’s teaching). From ‘getting scared of teachers’ to ‘getting scared of the boss’ – life has come a full circle. The boy – hereinafter called ‘man’ who has lots to say – but only a few open minds to comprehend the contents, in toto. The man – who stands 6 ft. tall but stands humbled before his 5 ft. something queen. The man who reprimands students for not completing their assignments – but gets reprimanded for not cleaning the house (even after a seemingly arduous day at work. The man – who excels in Communication Skills – but still struggles to get a word in edgeways at home. the man who teaches students how to debate – but has never won a single debate with Her Majesty. the man with a face only his mother could love – now has an eight-year-old who calls him a Prince Charming (Kids!!!).

The man must now rest his tired fingers before Carpel-Tunnel syndrome sets in. I’ll be back soon – in a millennium maybe. Going back to my ‘hiding under the rock’ phase.

Bye for now.


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.