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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Suit and Tie.

Suit and tie and jacket and scarf. Shoes and pride and anxiety and awe.

I wore all of them the day I went to Canary Wharf in London, to interview at Morgan Stanley. I did the application. 3 of my friends got turned away at the first stage, but not me for some reason. I was invited to take some aptitude tests and attend a Q&A session at a placement that is rumoured to pay £35,000 a year. I was in dream land.

Maybe I was a somebody.

Cabot Square glistened like glacial treasure in the London twilight. This was a different personality of London. Not the low rise, crafted buildings you see in central London, with wrought-iron balconies you can only dream of. This was what Manhattan and Prague's child would look like. Those beige coloured architectural bimbos that London is famous for are still there, but they're draped in New York and Hong Kong's Autumn/Winter Collection. Stock ticker tapes dance across skirts of glass and metal, letting you know in no uncertain term what work goes on behind the grand revolving doors.

So, to 25 Cabot Square. I am taken up stairs, to a conference room full of other youngsters like myself. All dressed in suits, all eyeing everyone else up. Half are brown. What an interesting mix of people. I have no time to analyse though: I am a bit late. People were in exam mode; eyes glazed over with focus.

You could cut the competition in the air with a knife.

After the first test - some ridiculous test of 'accuracy' through matching numbers and letters - I glance across at the window. What a window. It was like one of those helicopter shots in action movies, to introduce Singapore or Tokyo or some futuristic metropolis. Goldman Sachs and Barclays stare back in their evening gowns and make-up. The artificial lights don't let the ladies down. At ground level, many a banker scrambles down the catwalk and into a train.

I return to exam mode. Beautiful hatred of the people all around me is pumped head to toe by my excited heart. It is hatred as short-lasting as my chance at Morgan Stanley.

2 weeks later a polite email tells me I am in fact a nobody.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Grass is just as Green on This Side.

Life is good.

People don't stop, take a deep breath and appreciate how good life can get. They only sink into their sofa and day dream of life getting better when things aren't going their way....we don't sink into the sofa and just smile. Because life is good. It's very very good. Not perfect, but I don't think life is meant to be perfect.

This summer was the greatest summer ever. It has rolled seamlessly on to being a wonderful year of university. Much, much better than last year. It will then merge into a delicious Xmas holiday in Bangalore and Goa, and then snowball into more happiness.

Life is good, so sip some chai, watch the rain and smile.

Friday, November 13, 2009

That House.

At the bar at the Taj West End, the Indians stand shoulder to shoulder with the foreigners. Every one can afford the cocktails. Tall thin girls are courted by tall thin guys - perfect features, perfectly dressed. The Old Monk is my guide in this alien land scape.

I am here because some part of me wants to compete with them. The other part of me knows I can, but questions the purpose of this wanton wallet weighing. It's such an enticing scam. The bar man somehow keeps a straight face as he spits out drink prices. 500 Rupees for a large Old Monk and coke. I don't know who these elderly priests are but they must be their pulpits sniggering away at the 2000% mark up. 500 Rupees for a disgraceful little Budweiser. A 330ml bottle of fizzy American mediocrity. 750 Rupees for a Mojito for girl who's attention must be bought. Some part of me probably wants it.

The dilemma is to spend or not to spend? To spend and achieve what? To not spend at what cost?

I didn't come alone though. I'm here with friends and acquaintances. After a while the urban royalty, whose company I share, decide we've been there long enough. This is the 3rd watering hole I've been swept along to, tonight. The Alpha males bring their Camry's and Civic's and 5 Series' round the front and whisk us off to a house where this most exclusive evening shall continue.

I'll never forget that house. That flat. Floors of marble, suede sofas and the works of Mr Bang and Mr Olufsen proudly displayed next to each power socket. Towering speakers rise from the floor like stalagmites of crystal sound. The terrace overlooks a city asleep. We disturb the slumber of the silent, purple night sky with fake laughter, electronic music and the sound of Whiskey hitting the rocks. There's enough Whiskey to sink a ship, in the black marble top bar. There's a MacBook Pro on the ledge, observing us (with some curiosity, I imagine).

I don't want to drink, just watch these people. I am angry at myself when I catch myself thinking "this is how the other half live". Where did that come from? Banish it.

Maybe talking to someone will bring me some comfort.

"Hey man, nice music. Do you like psytrance too?"
"GMS played at my house"

OK then.

He didn't mean it in an arrogant way- his face was honest and friendly. I just found his though process interesting.

I seek refuge with the smokers. They talk about normal things. As long as you can bear the smoke, they are always good for a chat. We talk of football, university and Goa. I pretend to know something about motorbikes. They pretend not to judge me when I say I like jazz music.

If I wanted it to, this could be me. I could ask for more money than I need and spend it on things that I don't. Yes, I could lay a claim to this life. "But what would it achieve?", I argue back, as I begin the slow auto ride home. I can see the lights of the penthouse fading, obscured by trees and my foggy contact lenses. This was an education.

Trying to compete is futile. This house, these people, this evening.....this is not me.