Monday, March 31, 2014

Friday Focus

On a sunlit Friday morning, after wrapping up a meeting about the arcane mechanics of conjoint analysis and the importance of the Q3 campaign for greater mankind, you find yourself staring out of your office window into the living room of an apartment next to a bridge, where a lady is arranging flowers into a vase. Unhurriedly.

You switch back for 10 seconds to an article on your screen by an ex-London consultant on the evolution of the television business, who now works for a venture capital fund in California, predicting trends and analysing the uptake of wearable technology.

And then you switch back and notice that the lady has picked up a toddler who is missing a mitten. Why is s/he wearing a mitten indoors... why aren't they outside in the sun running around in circles next to the water. What makes them choose this vector of life and not any other. Why, you wonder, have you chosen this life, this woman, this home, this country and not any other... why these purposeful or accidental conflagration of choices that have placed you this instant in time on this Swedish chair, of all the infinite matrices of the universe.

Focus, you tell yourself, does your life, your work, your sanity depend on it?
Focus, you tell yourself, but sometimes you musn't and you don't.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Home.Stock.Holm

Intense cardio session at Frisky and Sweaty gym at Fridhelmsplan. Elliptical-check. Treadmill-check. On rowing machine. At 35 calories on a target of 70. Woman calls. Wonder if everything is ok with sprocket. And with her. Wonder if we've lost in our first attempt at Sweden's arcane house buying/ bidding process and therefore the chance to buy the only decent house we've seen in all the viewings we've had.

W: "Hi, hon, how are you getting on"
M: "Not too bad, babe, at the gym... will wrap up soon and be home. How was your day?"
W: "All right, a bit tired, about to cook dinner"
M: "Sounds lovely, I'll be home soon"
W: "Sure... oh and by the way, we won the bidding"

Says my understated Welsh woman. And just like that, on a cold Stockholm evening, with sweat pouring off my forehead, amidst huffing and puffing Swedes of all sizes, shapes and ages, with a little yelp-grunt of delight, we're home owners.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

London Is The Place For Me

Back in London or rather in Zone 9 which isn't exactly London but you get the point. Good old marmiteandbakedbeansland. Summer is around, which in mushypeasland means you need to sport two layers, a raincoat and grumpy frown every day.

So priorities are, (after the 3 week recovery from jet lag) in no particular order, to find a job within 1.5 months, to find a home to rent, to stash away some money for a house deposit in the distant future and to take care of Woman. Not extremely challenging but every now and then, one encounters varying degrees of bipolarity with characters (friends/ family/ well-wishers/ strangers) shifting from genial to patronizing in seconds . For example:
X (smiling): So what is it like, to be a house husband/ man of leisure/ to chill at home?
GT (going into defensive martial arts mental crouch): Uh huh, not too bad.
X (smiling): All that free time! Lots of catching up on TV/ reading/ friends/ Facebook?
GT (rattlesnake in the monkey shadow pose): Yeah, sometimes
X (sunshiney smile suddenly becomes Serious Double Wrinkle Of Concern): And what happened to your interviews/ job search/ resumes? I saw some options in The Guardian/ The Times/ The Metro/ The Daily Mail yesterday... did you? Should I send it to you? Always good to make a start somewhere, no?
GT: (mental backflip from edge of the flat universe into dangerous unknown) So how is YOUR job coming along?

I do exaggerate but you get the point.

Woman, meantime, is going through her set of issues which include confused direct reports who launch into panic attacks and do nothing or everything, traveling to many countries that her position requires her to cover, the annoyance of having Man at home fluttering around doing too much or too little, and of course, the near perpetual cloud. Ah, me wee poor lass. Occasionally the claws peek out, like when I was checking train timings for her to reach a 9am meeting and she says what flirty text are you typing now. And comes over for a look. At such moments, one must set aside the momentary loud shriek-claws-come-out-I-am-Wolverine urge, remember that she is going through a tough phase and respond with something benign like "Hon, to make it to your meeting tomorrow, you'll have to catch the 7.32 or 7.48 " and wait until she cuddles up and says sorry. Or doesn't. But it's all fine when she buys you two fab T-shirts in the middle of an intense trip and shares updates about L'Sprocket from Italy or Switzerland or Uganda or wherever she is at the moment and gets into a rant about the sugar levels in "every bloody cereal". Until then, deep breaths, mutter "this too shall pass" and keep moving.

Such, the life of a house-husband/ man of leisure/ chiller at home.

PS: Did I mention being educated and entertained by no less than Sarah Bakewell on Montaigne, Alexander McCall Smith on Scottish poetry and Modern Family on the apparent meaninglessness of American family life... all at the same time. I could roll over and die in pleasure from such incessant intellectual tickling but I have a job to find.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Song of Achilles













Achilles to Hector in The Song of Achilles


'There are no bargains between lions and men.I will kill you and eat you raw'


A book that makes you wish you knew enough Greek to soak in the original.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Julian Barnes on Footballers

"You can take Lucas to watch football when he's older", she once told me. Ah, the rheumy-eyed grandpa on the terraces inducting the lad into the mysteries of soccer: how to loathe people wearing different coloured shirts, how to feign injury, how to blow your snot on the patch - See, son, you press hard on one nostril to close it and explode the green stuff out of the other. How to be vain and overpaid and have your best years behind you before you've even understood what life's about. Oh yes, I look forward to taking Lucas to the football.

- The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Of such words, books are made...

Jeffrey Eugenides in 'Middlesex':

"I'd never seen a creature with so many freckles before. A Big Bang had occurred, originating at the bridge of her nose and the force of this explosion had sent galaxies of freckles hurtling and drifting to every end of her curved, warm-blooded universe. There were clusters of freckles on her forearms and wrists, an entire Milky Way spreading across her forehead, even a few sputtering quasars thrown into the wormholes of her ears"

Monday, January 16, 2012

Guineapig#2 reporting for battle, suh.

Somehow,somehow out of all the projects in ConsultCo, I had to be assigned to the exact team which G-man is quitting... so we've managed an intercontinental job exchange where G-man goes to my team in London while I join his super-duper team in Dubai...erm... make that Riyadh.

Ah, this lovely era of globalization when such things are possible.

Well, well, at least we're now clear about who'll be guzzling down beer on Thursdays and who'll be sipping Pepsis at 2am.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Of closet writers and their dreams...

Just finished a training course at ConsultCo.

Traces the story of Frank and Katrin. Frank is a high-flier who violates every possible rule of management consulting and client confidentiality... he also dreams of writing a book. Katrin of course is the polar opposite who follows every rule there ever was or ever will be and therefore is the role model for all of us, new bakras at the firm.

Audio signoff at the end of course: "Now Frank has all the time in the world to write the book he wants". Oooooooooooohhhhh... nasty is us.

The Glass Room by Simon Mawer

Went to a book club session about The Glass Room at a cafe at the DIFC; interesting bunch - Muscovite, Britisher, Arab, Serbian, Pakistani, Australian.

Comment of note: "This book opened my eye to the fact that some well heeled Jews made it out of Europe safely with money and family intact and not everyone died in the Holocaust". What?! And for the record, it wasn't an Arab person who made this comment.

Surprised to realize that the Glass Room actually existed... Villa Tugendaut by Mies Van Der Rohe.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Overheard - On Day 2 at work in Dubai

Quotes and conversations on 2nd day of work


  1. "It is not very safe to use taxi drivers in XX location, so we have our own fleet. Some of
    the locals don't like the idea of using consultants, so can be hostile, so please use our
    own fleet always".

  2. "The logistics team doesn't do night club reservations"

  3. "All the support teams have blacklists for you guys; believe me, you'll know it when you're
    one"

  4. Bank a/c opening process:

GT: But I don't want a Super Duper Platinum credit card with $300K limit.


Bank rep: Sorry sir, but it is an all inclusive package. You can choose not to use it.And
please sign this...


GT: Sign a blank cheque in favour of "Stinking Rich Bank" LLC?!


Bank rep: That is standard process; not to worry, we won't encash it (chuckle).


GT: Chuckle?! When do I get it back?


Bank rep: When you close accounts and settle matters.


GT: Settle matters?!Bank rep: Not to worry,sir, standard process"


5. Fellow joinee peeks into support team area and says to Lady #1: Hey, you look like that
Egyptian actress!


GT: (thinks) WTF?!?! Will he get slapped? Reprimanded? Shouted at? Stunned silences?


Lady #2 in support team: Which one?


Lady #3: Wait, wait, let me guess....


Lady #1: (Blush) I know who you're reminded of... it is XYZ.


GT: (silently) Ahem, ahem.