RIP Mike Starr

Last afternoon former Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr was found dead in Salt Lake City, Utah. The founding member of the seminal Seattle band was 44 years old and had struggled with addiction his entire life. In recent years, Starr had become more famous for his stint on “Celebrity Rehab” than he ever was as a musician, but his legacy as a key member of Alice in Chains should not be understated.

AIC’s original bassist, Mike played from the band’s formation in 1987 until 1993. Starr was with the group for the Facelift and Dirt albums and the Sap EP. He was most often seen playing several variations of a Spector NS-2 bass guitar through an Ampeg SVT all-valve head and Ampeg 8×10″ speaker cabinets. He left Alice back in 1992 allegedly over his drug addiction. Current AIC bassist Mike Inez was his replacement.

Starr later played bass for the band Sun Red Sun, which featured Ray Gillen and Bobby Rondinelli, both former members of Black Sabbath. The project was cut short by Gillen’s death in 1993. Starr was later featured in the third season of the VH1 reality television series Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew in 2010, which documented his treatment for heroin addiction beginning in August 2009 at the Pasadena Recovery Center. His subsequent stint staying in a sober living environment was then documented on the spinoff Sober House.  On February 18, 2011, Starr was arrested and booked on suspicion of felony possession of a controlled substance in Salt Lake City, Utah. On March 8, 2011, Starr was found dead in Salt Lake City. No details have emerged yet as to the cause of death, but it does not appear to have involved foul play.

Michael Christopher “Mike” Starr (April 4, 1966 – March 8, 2011)

Pain In The…..Back

My back is killing me. I have a bad backache for the past 2 days and it is killer. It doesn’t help that because of the way my computer table is built, I can’t sit back in my stupid chair and type because of the distance that I would have to spread my arms towards the keyboards of the laptop. So I end up sitting at an angle and without my support for my back, it is usually at an arch. This must be the reason that I have a back ache.

I really need a new chair for my computer and a new table too. A proper table so that this is not an issue anymore. And oh I think this next fact too is hurting my back – I’ve been sleeping with two pillows under my head. One normal sized one and a smaller or thinner sized one. This might be good for propping one’s head while watching a video on your laptop but probably not good for your neck and back. So yeah that could be the fact. But atleast at the new office I have proper flexible chairs and a proper height table on which to keep my computer. And it felt very good to be able to push back on the chair with your back and the chair flexes along with the move.

My Worst Date Ever

Oh boy, well I wouldn’t call this a date but it certainly was bad. This happened way back over 11 years ago now. I was 23 and broken up from my long time relationship for almost a year and literally just not willing to open myself to any girl at that time. However I was interested in a couple of girls at NIIT, where I was studying at the time. I still wasn’t remotely going to do much about it at all. Well, until this happened.

There was this totally rich girl who I was into. She wasn’t really beautiful but still quite attractive and boy was I horny. And she was… do I put this in a politically correct manner…..well, well endowed up front. And I was all interested. We really hit if off on day 1 and became friends. She, let’s just call her N & I would flirt in front of everyone and weren’t bothered if anyone raised an eyebrow or two. I don’t know why in her case but for me, well something else was raised and I wasn’t too bothered about other things when that was the situation. Everything was all talk and neither of us seemed ready to move it beyond that stage until one summer evening when she called me totally out of the blue. My course at NIIT had been completed and I rarely saw N by then but I was happy to hear that she was calling me to go to a party at her cousin’s house!

Well now, I was interested as to why she was inviting me; was this a date? I didn’t ask but I said ok. Two days later I met her at the house of her cousin or should I say the mansion of her cousin. It was a huge 3 floor bungalow and guess what? No parents or anyone above the age of 26. It was music, people drinking & dancing in the house & in the garden. Couple were also making out in discreet corners and I also knew that there were some condoms being handed at one point.

Well, I didn’t know most of the people at the party and soon fell uncomfortable. While my ‘date’ mingled and met people I graciously accepted a beer and sat near the tv. There was also rum+coke and I soon migrated to that, a bit bored. However things picked up a little later. N had also started to drink and not being too used to drinking, she got rather smashed although I couldn’t quite make out as I was a bit tipsy myself. Pretty soon, before I knew what was happening, we were both in her cousin’s bedroom and well practicing our French. I was feeling a bit dizzy as all the blood in my head was heading south and then….she started giggling uncontrollably and then took off her top revealing no bra.

By now, I had lost all speech. However things took a turn for the worse. She started getting the hiccups, then laughing fits and finally, she headed to the loo and threw up. I tried to help her but started feeling nauseated myself. I wandered around, found N’s cousin, the birthday girl, and told her what N was doing to her bathrooom.

Anyways, to cut a long story short, I ended up sleeping in a guest bedroom for the night (I had told my folks that I was in a male friends house) and left the next morning as soon as I woke up. N was embarrassed and didn’t want to see me. We hardly spoke at all after that. About 15 months later I heard that she got married to a Naval officer. Well, I hope she hasn’t been sea sick with him! LOL

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Letter To The Weather

Dear weather

I like the big blue sky. I really, really do. Its so beautiful to look at and if you can afford a view from the top of a really tall building then the sky seems an endless ocean of blue. Infact today on my way to the Kaloor bus stop to board a fast passenger bus to Koratty, I looked up and even from the road all I could see was an endless blue blanket. However can you do something about this fucking heat? The sun has been merciless since the past few days and he is intent on warming up everything on the poor land. Boiling hot, it is difficult to walk more than 50 feet without sweating up a bucket full.

As soon as I did reach the bus stop, I needed a cold drink. On the little over 1 hour ride on the bus, all I could think about was drinking water. Unfortunately our office is still completing work and hence no water. I had to wait till 1:45 pm to get some water and a lemonade. I washed my face and neck with water a few times but the sun has warmed up the water in the pipes too. Disgusting! The two bottles of cold water we bought at lunch did help but what was worse that the air conditioner was a bit faulty and took more than 3 hours to start working properly.

So if you could send it a nice cold breeze or some lovely rain my way that would so awesome. Cause if you don’t you are nothing but a dweeb and a loser and I hate you sucker!

Thanks & Love


The Day After

So that was a very emotional last week at the office and now I no longer work there. It was weird waking up this morning and knowing that I won’t be going back to that office. However that is sure to pass in a few days. However I just want to add, I was feeling a bit feverish last night and I also had another major cry. A GM from the company, who used to previously be our DGM and center head here in Cochin, called me up at around 9:00 pm. I didn’t have his Calcutta number & initially did not recognize him as he had a cold and sounded very different. He called up to say thanks and say that it was the least that he could do in line of my contributions to the center and to training in particular. That meant a lot and I appreciated it and once I kept the call, I broke down.

Anyway, I took some crocin and then laid down to watch some videos on my laptop and pretty soon fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night with all the lights on and a scorching thirst. A drink of some water later, I switched off the lights and went back to sleep. Morning was very cloudy and gloomy and I didn’t feel like going out. So I stayed indoors and mopped around. I also spoke with two of my team members on a few things. After lunch I settled back in bed and watched two comedies that I had downloaded in advance, knowing that I would be depressed this day, in hopes that it would cheer me up. It did a bit.

The two movies, which ones you say? Well I was listening to someone say something about Adam Sandler movies and so the ones I downloaded were two of the first few that I had ever seen him in – Billy Madison & Happy Gilmore. He plays the title character in each and although I have seen both movies many times it was fun to watch them again. Ofcourse I would have enjoyed it a lot more had the afternoon not been so hot & sweaty. Despite that watching these two movies did take my mind off the rest of things for the few hours that it took to finish them. Although I had forgotten how annoying Sandler is when he makes that stupid, nonsensical  jibberish words and uses a whinny tone of voice to speak! Really annoying; I would have taken a shotgun to the character Billy Madison in the first 10 minutes of the movie! The rest of the film is pretty funny. So is Gilmore, where he does a lot more relaxed and natural playing of his character.

Well that’s that, my first day after resigning is coming to an end. It’s 10:32 pm, I’ve had my dinner and also some pineapple and a ready to wind down and maybe get in an early night. It’s gonna be a new era and a new life and I just hope it goes smoothly. Goodnite.

My Farewell Letter That I Sent Today

After 4 long years, tumultuous changes and wonderful experiences, my tenure here has finally come to an end. I’ve learned many lessons : some pretty hard ones & some which I will look upon as pleasant but both kinds are equally rewarding & life enriching.

I’m moving on to join a small, humble start up company but we have great hopes for it and with some hard work and a little bit of luck, things will be good.

I’d like to say my thanks at this time to – (the various individuals in each department). Most importantly I would like to say that I was the proud manager of an awesome Training team & and I am going to miss them terribly – my huge thanks to Wasim, Rekha, Roopa, Rajeesh, Firdous & Dileep. Also all the trainers who have left. I hope I get to work with you guys once again some day, some where. It was the biggest honour of my life to have worked with you.

I will still keep checking to find out how the center is progressing. Best of luck to all.

So that’s it. Captain’s final log entry. Over & out! Roshan has left the building!

In the immortal words of Mr. Spock from Star Trek : Live Long and Prosper!

You Make A Grown Man Cry

So the D day was finally here, my last working day in my current company arrived and I woke up bright and early. Well maybe not so bright but certainly early. I slept quite late at 2am and woke up 4 hours later. However, I didn’t want to face the day and so curled back into my bed and wrapped my self in my sheets. However I did have to go to the office and so I finally did drag me outta bed. I left late and arrived at 10:30 am

I sat at my desk basically staring at my system and replying to a few emails. I chatted with anyone who came to sit and have a chat. I spent time with my team members. Post lunch I went to both the floors of the call center and said my goodbyes to people I knew well. That took me a good enough duration. The afternoon turned to evening and dragged on. By 5:30 pm I was asked to come to the pantry area where a few people had gathered to let me say my farewells. I started tearing up over there and rushed to the men’s room to wash my face and then tried to hid my face behind a cup of coffee.

Then HR started the ball rolling by speaking about me and my leaving the organization. Then it was the turn of some of the other employees to speak about me and I was surprised at what nice things they said. The tears started running again and as I looked at my team members they were all crying. Finally it was my turn and I managed to squeak out a few sentences and said thanks. Then it was time to cut the cake and pose for a few pictures. I hope that HR will send them to me a little later. I got a few gifts, so take a look.

The peacock, a huge thingy that I am so gonna use to decorate my new place when I finally do move there, is from my team members. I just love it. I’m not sure what it is made out off.

The HR AM gifted me with a Parker pen as did my team members; the one on the right is from the team. There’s also a standee-plaque that says good wishes and some writing on it.

Another girl from HR had gifted me a calendar cum beautiful/inspiration quotes thing which you can put on your table. I promised her that I would keep it on my work desk as soon as I start work in the new office.

This is from the two sweet girls from recruitment.Very nice.

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Well today was the penultimate day in the current office for me. After 4 long years, the day has finally come. Today I was invited to have lunch with two ladies from our clients office – both who I have interacted with the most out of all the clients (dealing mainly with the training aspects). I was touched that they wanted to treat me to lunch as a thank you and a farewell. They picked me up near my office and we went to a new place in Kalammasery, owned by the Asset Group. We decided to try the buffet there. After a nice long talk with the two of them, lunch + desert, they gave me a small gift as a token of their appreciation. It’s a book by Robin Sharma titled Leadership Wisdom.

On my way back to the office, I stopped at a gift shop in HMT junction so I could buy my going away presents for my team. I wanted something that symbolizes unity & the team spirit that we have. I basically was looking for similar looking gifts, if I couldn’t get 6 of the same gift. I found some night lamps cum clocks that are shaped like sailing ships, which look very nice. I liked the fact that all looked kinda similar, of different colours but still quite same, and that they were ships. Why ships? See cause, I’ve often though of me being a captain of spaceship, flying off to different adventures and kinda like Star Trek. My team members would be my crew, my senior officers. Like Kirk or Picard or Sisko. And my team members would be in charge of various things like engineering, con, weapons & tactical, ops, science & navigation & communication. Silly dreams I know. But since I couldn’t find spaceships, normal ships were cool too.

So I got the gifts wrapped and I brought them back to the office. I sneaked them into a discussion room and called them in for a meeting. When the lights went on, I brought out the bags and handed them all their gifts and thanked them for being there for me. I talked about my leaving and the next few days & weeks and how critical it was to be strong as a team. Pretty soon all of them were tearing up and sniveling except me (I’m saving that for tomorrow) and I had to stop. We later went to have tea and snacks at around 6pm. Tomorrow – well that’s another story. I’m getting emotional now, so I better stop. Good night all.

Languages I Speak

I would count English as the only language that I can speak, write & read fluently. That’s a shame! I know. I can speak Malayalam, my native tongue, fluently but I can’t read or write. Big shame, I know! I can barely get by in Hindi, like a lot of people in the state and can understand a lot more than I can speak back. And I haven’t written in Hindi for a long time so I don’t really count that.

I do find it odd that I never learned to read & write Malayalam but…..I was born in Kuwait and grew up learning English & Hindi and a smattering of Arabic (which I have all but forgotten many years ago). We came back to India when I was 11 and when I was enrolled in school, my option after English & Hindi was Special English (just advanced reading with more importance on grammar & poetry) so I ended up not learning Malayalam at all. I can get by easily without being able to read the language at all and have been doing it for 34 years. But I still wish that I had spent some time when I was a kid in learning the language.

And I’d love to be able to speak other Indian languages like Tamil, Kannada and ofcourse other languages like Spanish, German and FRENCH! Ah, French is the most beautiful language in the world. It’s just amazing to hear & the expressions that they have. I’d love to be able to speak French well.

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The Drunken Fool

I got into a bus at Edapally bus stop and moved into the middle of the bus. Being a bus heading to Fort Kochi area it soon filled up with a lot more people, pushing me towards the front 1/3rd of the bus. Despite the rush, I still felt that it was going to be a quite dull road and would have even enjoyed the ride had I been able to get a seat. However things became even more interesting in  few minutes.

At the Janata bus stop, a few people got in and the bus left. A few yards away a guy in jeans and a white t-shirt flagged the bus down and got in. Instead of moving into the bus, he balanced himself against the opening of the door and tried to take money from his wallet. The bus conducted asked him to move inside but the youth just stood there mutely. A couple of more times the bus conductor sternly told the guy to move in or get out of the bus. This time the youth, no more than 25-26 years of age, moved a little bit inside and stood next to two elderly women who were seated in the first seat on the left side of the bus. The women, one old enough to be his mother and the other old enough to be his grandmother, did not pay much attention to him until the reeking smell of alcohol made it’s way to our noses. The guy was stinking drunk and highly unstable on his feet.

At one time he tried to make a call – from 3 of his mobiles at the same time! Soon the people at the front of the bus were all staring at the drunk – he was fondling & stroking the older woman’s hair & patting her head. And he even called her ‘mummy’! Oh for the love of….she at first knocked his hand back but he still continued to do it. People were finding it stupid and funny at the same time. The old woman soon realized that he wasn’t going to harm her but she started losing it when he started confessing his sins to her. That was too  much for any of us who could hear the drunk moron. The bus conductor couldn’t stand him much longer and there was the fear that the idiot would puke his guts out. As soon as we arrived at the stop for which he had paid his ticket, the conductor ‘helped’ the moron to his feet and ushered him out the bus. The guy tried handing him a Rs.500 note (for what we shall never know) but the conductor said ‘no thanks’ and off he went.

Team Trip To Alleppey

So the big day was finally here – the team & I were going out one final time. We’ve never spent a whole day out of the office together since January 26 last year. That day I conducted a 4 hour workshop in a hotel boardroom on training & presentation and then it was another 3-4 hours of fun and games along with a big lunch. This time it was going to be just pure fun and camaraderie and a farewell/thank you day. Farewell from them to me and a thank you from me to them.

Unfortunately as we all know these days always fall short of being perfect. Wasim canceled at the last minute, calling me last night to tell me that due to a family emergency he was needed to be with his family and go to settle a property issue which he needed to be present for and sign in court. So he couldn’t come but the others would be there. We had also called up Ajeeba, who had resigned back in July 2010 and since we had all kept in touch with her, she was game to come as well. Rajeesh has a car that he had recently purchased and we just had to worry about the fuel cost and the food that we would eat.

So we planned to start out from our homes at 8 am and meet up at Kaloor 30 minutes later. I woke up at 6 am and got ready and by the time I reached the designated meeting point at 8:30 am Rekha & Firdous who had left Kalamassery together were already there waiting along with Rajeesh next to his car. I hopped into a nearby ATM and then joined them. In a few minutes Ajeeba arrived and we set off in the car to Vytilla to pick up Roopa, the 6th person for our trip. She joined us and brought breakfast with her – poori, chappathy, tomota & onion fry and potato curry. We rode in the car, talking & laughing all the way.

On the way over to Alleppey we stopped the car at a shady tree as we were getting quite hot and everyone wanted to drink something. Next to the tree was a small shop selling tender coconut water and we all drank some to quench our thirst.  Refreshed, we got back into the car and soon we reached Alleppey and found our way to the beach. Gorgeous beach but it was a very hot day. We parked the car next to a tree (I see a trend here) and then bought a couple of bottles of cold water at a open style restaurant. The owner invited us to sit and eat our breakfast using his tables as the place was quite empty at that hour. So we dug in and enjoyed the well prepared food. We also bought some ice cream from the shop as it was blazing hot.

Near to the parked car and under another huge tree were three animals – a horse and two camels! People can rent the camels for a ride on the beach but the horse didn’t seem to be for customers to ride. Besides the horse looked like he was an albino and I was wondering how the hot sun fared his skin. It’s so nice to stand in the breeze, under the shade and watch these animals chew lazily on their food. Like they don’t have a care in this world other than how much to chew and how much to drink. I love horses, although I don’t ride them but I love watching them.

Much later when we came back to the area, the horse was by himself and chewing endlessly on some of his food kept in a bucket and some water in another. He was also chewing on some big leaves kept near by, which the camels were feasting on earlier. Now he alternated between the food in the bucket and at times would take a few steps towards the leafs and eat them to. People stopped by to look at him and try and pet him. He was having none of it and nobody could get close enough to pet his head. I was standing there for a long time (while the others rented a boat) and admired this big horse. I tried calling him and after about 30 minutes to my surprise he moved towards my direction. I was wondering if he would come close enough for me to touch him….when the bugger let go of a big stream of stinking urine! I was standing right in front of his toilet area. Fucked could have warned me and not let me get my hopes up!

The day was quite hot and we started sweating a lot. The shop guy told us about a little picnic area about 0.3 kms away which has a lot of trees and shade and we could spend a lot of time there. We made our way over there and found a bunch of big trees with some seating area that they had built around each. We talked for a long time and the girls enjoyed some time on the swings hanging from the tree branches. We must have spent almost 2 hours there talking up a storm. By lunch time we were quite hungry and famished and we got back into the car and looked around for a nice place to get some lunch. Not finding anything good & within our budget nearby we went about 5 kilometers away to find a hotel that had sit out shacks with lots of open space.

We stopped there and ordered lunch – 3 people had rice meals, 3 of us had fried rice and one also had chicken fry. The rest of us gorged ourselves on two types of fried fish, crab with gravy and prawns. The food was absolutely delicious and fantastically prepared. I didn’t eat any chicken or the prawns but I enjoyed my fried rice with lots of fish (look at that monster we ordered below) and some crab. Superb  food and we washed it down with some lemonade. All that food, so delicious but the end bill for us was quite reasonable. It worked out quite nice and if I am ever in that area, I will be looking out for Vrindhavan Hotel. Take a look at the big karimeen fish fry and the superb crab curry that we had.

Bellies filled and full up we had to sit there for another 20 minutes or so just because we couldn’t get up. I can’t remember being this satisfied after a big meal. A quick visit to the toilet to freshen up we got back into the car, a little cramped up as we all seemed to be bigger this time around and headed back to the beach. Some wanted to ride the camels and dip their feet in the sea but Ajeeba and myself waited in the shade of the tree inside the car and talked for a long time catching up with things that had happened since the last time we had met. Although she was aware of the stuff that had been going on at the office, it’s a different feeling when you talk it out face to face.

Camel rides over we decided to get back on the road and make our way back to Cochin and we set off in the car just as the sun started setting a little bit. It was around 5:45 pm and luckily the ride back wasn’t as hot as it was going to Alleppey.

Around 7:30 pm we stopped at a highway restaurant to get some coffee and tea and talked for a little bit more. Once we reached there, 3 of us decided to make ours cold coffees as it was still quite a hot day. 20 minutes later we dropped Roopa just outside her home and then dropped Ajeeba at her husband’s office. It was about 8 pm then and then Rajeesh dropped both Firdous & Rekha at the Janata bus stop, as they needed to head back towards the Kalamassery area and then I got down near the Kaloor bus stand.

I waited for a couple of minutes and got into an auto towards my home. I stopped at a shop to buy some Sprite to cool off completely and put the bottle in the freezer as soon as I reached home. I stripped my clothes off and took a long cold shower to wash away the dirt and stuff that I would have accumulated on the day long trip and then sat down at my laptop with my bottle of Sprite. Today was a great fun filled day and I am so happy that we could all share it. Shame that Wasim couldn’t join us but I still had a wonderful time and I will keep this one for the ages.

Pizza With The Car Mates

1st of March, the start of a brand new month. Salary has arrived to replenish the previous stocks and supply new life into the minds & bodies of people who draw a salary. Depending on the kind of people, either people go shopping for the rest of the month, buy new outfits, or treat themselves or in some cases people go get drunk in a nice bar. I usually do not have much of a routine and usually play it by ear.

One of the habits I have tried to establish is to pay of my major bills on the 1st of each month. My big bills are usually my phone bill & my internet bill. While the latter is fixed for every month at a little less than Rs.900, the former tends to fluctuate from a minimum of Rs. 900 to a maximum of Rs. 1800, depending on how many STD calls & text messages that I have sent. I’ve also used unlimited internet on my Blackberry for a couple of scattered months and hence the bill tends to change accordingly as the rent for that also adds up to my usual bill. Currently I am only using a minimum BlackBerry plan that offers me email & chat services but no browsing. Anyway, I’ll probably pay off these bills by tomorrow morning.

So, as my final week at my current office winds down, I went about closing my final reports & review ppts before I closed shop on my 4 year tenure at the office, I feel like a football player or an NHL player who gets traded or whose contract runs out. A few weeks back Amritha from HR had treat me, her boss Prakash & Lineesh from logistics to dinner at Dominos at their Palarivattom branch. I had wanted to do the same. The three of us usually head for home in Prakash’s car and we’ve more of less had settled as travel mates for atleast part of the journey on our respective ways home. So this evening we headed for Dominos and had some pizza and a chocolate lava cake. Good eats and good times with good friends. It’s a thank you for all the times we’ve had.

Tomorrow me and my team head out for a little road trip.

My Thoughts On Valentine’s Day

Here’s my take on Valentines day and it’s basically the same as a lot of people who I know. This is a day created by makers of greeting cards, gift manufactures, chocolate & confectionery companies. Shops, online or in person, also latch onto this day and have made it a marketing gimmick in so much that it’s all about getting a discount/special offer for the consumer and making a profit for the companies. That in itself isn’t such a bad thing: I mean it isn’t only the Ferengis of the Star Trek world who love a good profit and who on earth doesn’t like a good offer on goods?

When I was a teenager, I yearned for the time when I would actually have a Valentine and could share this time with. At the age of 17 I had a gf and we shared a lot of gifts & cards on Valentine’s day. I even went to the extent of making an elaborate & stylistically pleasing series of cards, each one leading onto the other, at one point. I can be quite creative when I put my mind & heart to it and I was all that and more. I also remember getting the absolutely biggest Valentine card by this same ex back in 1996. It was a lot of fun.

Years later I have often thought that why must there be only a single day out of the entire year that you get to express your undying love for your gf, spouse, significant other? Is that all they are worth? I like the corny & silly but still knock-out answer of ‘honey, every day is Valentine’s day with you?” Ofcourse this only works if your spouse/gf does not a close girlfriend who she shares stories with. And if that girl/woman has just had an elaborate multi-course dinner, lots of bubbly, gifts, flower petals and the works done for her by her significant other – you are done for! Your gf/spouse is now gonna use you for target practise.

Ok, coming back to the topic at hand, I do not think such a day is necessary as long as you allow the romantic devil in you to occasionally show himself and treat your spouse to a little nice something. Maybe once a month or so, just to keep the fires burning. That actually makes more sense and means more.

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