As a teenager when somebody would ask me what music I listened to, I would proudly declare that I listened to” English Music” only.
In those days, English music was synonymous with Michael Jackson.
As a kid when my Dad bought a new 50 Watt Music system for us, I remember that the first cassette I bought was “Dangerous” by Michael Jackson.
It was also the age of cable TV and MTV. We could now see who the man was, his dance moves and his mannerisms.
We loved it. We danced with him when he taught Michael Jordan to dance in “Jam, we drooled when he grooved with Naomi Campbell in “Keep it in the Closet”, we were transported to Egypt in “Remember the time”, we sang for the world along with him in”Heal the world”, and we rocked with Slash in “Give in to me”.
My uncle used to keep telling us that “Dangerous” was nothing compared to “Thriller” his masterpiece. And we refused to believe him. Till we listened to it.
We were Michael Jackson fans for life.
Few artists can claim to have changed the musical landscape of the entire world and influenced fans across all classes, countries and races. Michael was one of them.
You should see the MJ live performance videos to see what I mean. People are going crazy, pulling out their hair and fainting like there was no tomorrow.
He brought music into the lives of more people than he ever knew. A Banker in New York listened to his songs with equal fervor as a convict in Kenya. He united the world in their love for music.
He was a complete entertainer. He made his musical performance into an art form. His music videos were revolutionary for pioneering the use of advanced storylines and impeccable choreography. His moonwalk spawned countless imitators the world over.
In his latter years, his music declined as did his personal life. Let me not go into what happened later. I don’t know what happened. But this article is not about his morality but his musical genius.
I am yet to recover from the shock of his death. The world will be a poorer place without you Michael. I hope you are teaching the guys up there a couple of jazzy steps.
As a teenager when somebody would ask me what music I listened to, I would proudly declare that I listened to” English Music” only.
I shall now wait for the shocked raised eyebrows, the disapproving tongue clucking and the hisses and Boos to die down before I offer an explanation.
To begin with, did any of you notice that these babies are not really scintillating conversationalists? After the obligatory “Kootchie Kootchie Koo” I am pretty much at a loss for words to move the conversation forward. Amusing jokes draw a blank. Witty comments on the state of politics in the country produce a disinterested spit bubble.
“Make faces”. A friend advised me. “Babies laugh at distorted faces.”
I swear I tried my best to distort my face into the wildest contortions possible. Not a snicker from the kid.
The moment the father of the kid took the baby from me ,the baby burst out into peals of silvery laughter. So what does the distorted face theory prove here?
I consoled myself with the thought that the baby will probably grow up to look like the father one day.
This brings me to an important point. I agree that babies of a certain age are cute. From a safe distance. However new born kids, are NOT cute.
Such conversations are very common at parties.
Me: (Busy eating noodles and gravy)
New Father: (Shoving a photograph into my face). Look, this is my 14 day old son. Isn’t he the cutest?
Me: (Screaming) Oh my God…what the... err…he looks great…your eyes?
New Father: Nope, his Mom’s. Look at his nose. Just look…Perfect!
Me: Where is his nose? Oh...this round blob…wait…Then…This can’t be… Oh now I get it. I seem to be looking at the photo upside down.
New Father: Doesn’t he remind you of Hugh Jackman. Screw your eyes, tilt your head to the right and look. You can’t miss the resemblance.
Me: (Jaw drops a mile) Hugh Jackman…hmm...yep…Both of them drool from their left side don’t they?
(The only thing the baby reminded me of was a cross between Sanath Jayasuriya and the lead character from ET)
It’s also a load of tosh about how Babies are chick magnets. Determined to test the theory out, I grabbed a neighbor’s baby in the pretence of giving it some fresh air. I merrily wheeled it to the nearest supermarket and waited in anticipation .Visions of the Axe effect ads sent pleasurable shivers down my spine.
Zilch. Nothing. A couple of good looking girls did wander in. They did not even glance over at the child. Not one bleddy look. I pretended to cuddle up to the Baby. The baby kicked over a row of Lux soaps in disgust.
The girls carefully skirted us, leaving a wide berth between themselves and the kid. I distinctly heard one of them mutter about parents who din't bring up kids properly.
The parents warned me not to show him any television and merrily went on their way to catch a movie.
The kid circled me warily, like he was sizing me up. ”Let’s play” he announced.
In my childhood days, playing meant a quiet game of Ludo or chess. In moments of extreme violence we would cut the opponents Bishop with a particularly fierce look.
I knew that Ludo was the farthest thing in his mind when he pulled out a bed sheet to tie around his neck and knotted his dad’s tie around his head.
“Let’s play WWE” he announced.
For the uninitiated this is a wrestling sport where big guys with funny names pretend to bash the hell out of each other in front of suitably bloodthirsty fans. The key word here is PRETEND.
After critically inspecting me for five minutes, he announced. “You are fat. You can be “Yokozuna”. (For any pretty single girls reading this blog , its not true. This is Yokozuna. And this is me.)
“I will be the Undertaker. This bed will be your casket. I 'll first hit you. Then I'll kill you. After that I will bury you in the casket. Then you will cry” He proclaimed.
I din't ask him how I would cry if I were dead. This kid watches a lot of unnecessary TV.
I wondered if his parents knew about this OMEN kid they were harboring under their roof. If I were his Dad I would lock my door before I went to sleep.
“Let’s start” he announced.
Then he paused. ”Wait a minute. Take off your clothes.”
As I stared at him flabbergasted, he proceeded to explain. “Yokozuna always fights only with his underwear”.
I refused to take off my clothes for any reason whatsoever.
Then it happened. With one sudden swift movement he came towards me swung back his arm and hit me with all his power.
With his height, his arm was about three and a half feet from the ground.
I leave it to your imagination to figure out where three and half feet from the ground is to my body.
In the last moments before I blacked out, the irony hit me. Not only has this kid ensured that I run a mile from every kid I meet, he now wants to finish the job and ensure that I don’t have any kids at all.
Omen kid is an understatement.
One experience that should be made compulsory for every Indian is to travel in an Indian Train. None of that fancy Third or Second AC but its humbler, noisier, dirtier cousin- the second class sleeper.
The trouble starts early. Irritated with all the bargaining you have done with him, the porter plants your luggage randomly in the middle of the platform and declares that S6 will stop right here. When the train arrives, you realize that S6 has come half a kilometer away and start rushing to the other end. Unfortunately five hundred other passengers have just realized the same thing .For a few moments the scene resembles a chicken coop when the butcher comes to choose his next victim. Old people with arthritis outrun PT Usha; fat ladies cease to be lazy; normally good natured men become Andrew Symonds. With a determination reminiscent of Sylvester Stallone in Rambo families pull, push and drag their luggage/children across the platform defying all known laws of physics.
By the time you pick yourself up after you were tripped by the trolley and elbowed aside by the fat Punjabi Aunty and finally reach your compartment you find that a family of twelve has squeezed comfortably into seats meant for six. After you search for a place in vain to put your solitary bag under the seat in between four suitcases, three bags and various other paraphernalia that a normal family carries across cities(Heaven knows why) ,you finally give up and decide to be happy if you at least get a place to sit. After examining your ticket they finally allow you five centimeters of seat between the fat aunty and the even fatter -auntie’s mother (And inevitably the farthest from the daughter of the group).
After trying to gently glide your behind into the five centimeters of space without falling off and inappropriate touching ,all the time getting indignant looks of disapproval from a lady old enough to be my grandmother, you decide that it cant get any worse when the kids start playing a game of cricket in that confined space.
After two hits to the eye and one to the ear, with the proud parents lustily cheering every blow I decided to relax with a book on the side upper berth.
The side upper and also one of Lallo’s priceless inventions-the side middle is made keeping the average Indian height in mind. To fit my above average (vertically and horizontally) body into that limited amount necessitates a few foetal body contortions that would make a circus artist proud.
Finally when you feel almost paralyzed by being twisted in the same lying position for so long you almost step on the bald uncle’s hand while getting down and get a rude look from him. What am I supposed to do? Glide down smoothly like Batman or something?
Hunger strikes immediately and I hastily buy some Chapattis and Dal .Not so for the big family which opens containers which contain enough food to feed villages in Africa.
After chewing my own paltry food in disgust and increasing looking more and more like a salivating dog while looking at their food takes some more time.
Soon it is time to sleep. You wont believe how early people go to sleep on a train. Even the most insomniac of Uncles is tucked into his bunk by 8 pm .They also insist in switching off every light in the cubicle. People like me are left looking blankly into the darkness for hours before we fall asleep.
Indian Trains also have their own variations of commandments:
1)When you have middle berth and are dying to sleep the occupants of the lower berth below you will take great pleasure in staying awake for long amounts of time hence keeping you awake too.
2)When you are in lower berth-the person above will fix his middle bunk at the earliest which will leave you with a permanent hunch after trying to sit up in the lower bunk in vain.
3)There shall be at minimum one application from people asking you to exchange your seat with them.
4)If you are sleeping on the top berth you will feel like peeing at least four times minimum.
5)There will be a beautiful girl traveling alone on both cubicles next to yours but none in yours. If she is in your cubicle she will be accompanied by Parent/Husband/Boyfriend.
The night’s sleep is disturbed by the uncle whose snoring is louder than the noise of the train. My large feet stick out at the bottom and kick unsuspecting passers by in the groin/stomach/Head depending on whether I am sleeping in lower/middle/Upper.
Just when you have fallen asleep the tea sellers start shouting at 4 am in the morning (Honestly who drinks tea at 4 am?).
I gently avert my eyes from the fat man sleeping opposite whose shirt has now risen above his belly and try to go to sleep again.
Finally station arrives. Suddenly every one realizes that they will die if they spend one second more than required on the train. Consequently they start lining up near the doorway with copious amounts of luggage one full hour before destination. God forbid if I want to go to the toilet.
The train stops. I get off with feelings similar to a Titanic survivor when he finally touched dry land.I wipe tears of joy and loudly hail my father who has come to pick me up.
My neighbor was having a conversation with my Mom the other day. This is how it went. The words in the brackets indicate what was passing through my mind when I heard her talk.
Mom: Err…I dunno.
Neighbor: You must marry him off soon. He is a big boy now. He must be getting restless. (What am I? A dog in heat?)
Mom: That’s why we let him watch FTV. (Poor joke Mom. BTW nobody watches FTV anymore when we want to err... expand our education. That was before the revolution called the internet.)
Neighbor: So is it going to be “Love Marriage” or “Arranged Marriage”? He is such a good boy that I am sure he will marry whichever girl his mother gets for him. (Good boy? I don’t understand this. I will obviously be on my best behavior in front of her. Even if I were a pot smoking, gun wielding ,lusty womanizer I would not give her a smack on the bottom and say” Whose your Daddy”. Obviously I would be discreet. Right? These people never get it.)
Mom: I have no clue. It will happen when he wants to.
Neighbor: I had an “Arranged Love Marriage”. It was so romantic. We went to Ooty for our honeymoon and … (I did not hear the rest because I was puking in the wash Basin)
Mom: / Trying to suppress retching sounds herself/
Neighbor: I have told my daughter to have a Love marriage only. We are extremely modern people you know. I have only told her some simple conditions. No Muslim, No Christian, No Non Brahmin, Tamilian, Non smoker, Non Drinker, Good looking, well educated, earning a six figure income, with a US Green card. (I wondered if she realized that even her husband dint qualify on many of those filters. Besides, her daughter can’t go about asking for the Gothram on the first date can she now? )
Mom: No, we don’t insist on anything. Not even the sex of the person he brings home.(I really should not have taken her to watch Dostana)
Neighbor: /Faints. After reviving/ Cheee. I am sure you dint mean it yaar. What is all this silly joking around? One day your son will really...Rama Rama. (No she was not repeating my Mom’s name twice. She was invoking higher authorities. For all the uninitiated –My moms name is Rama .Not “Raa-Ma” but “Ra-Ma”.)
Neighbor: Btw, where did your son do his MBA?
Neighbor: /Gives a oh my god what is this college-where on earth is it-Is is really not in the US kind of look/ My son wants to do his MBA from abroad. He is studying all day long in his room. (That’s what you think).He has applied to /names an obscure college in a big American city ranked 456 out of 500 US Colleges/
Neighbor: Your son works in an IT Company right?
Neighbor: Has he gone onsite to US at least? (Why can’t I hit her on the head now.Mom, Pleeeease)
Neighbor: My cousin brother has gone twice to UK, four Times to US and once to China also. Is your son...Poor guy…Sniff…is he on bench? ( I have no idea where these middle aged Tamil aunties pick up IT Lingo)
Mom: /Getting Desperate now/
I walked up to her and whispered in her ear.
Mom: Well… it is like this… my son has been looking at your daughter since some days now and…we were thinking…he also is not getting any girl himself…
We never saw her again in our house.
P.S: (I just realized, that doesn’t say too much about my eligibility does it)
And yeah, I don’t like to lend my books to anyone. I decided I wanted to compile a list the top 10 authors that I love .This is a purely personal list. Feel free to disagree.
Also I had to leave out some great authors after much soul searching. This list is by no means complete.
10) Enid Blyton: This must have come as a surprise because literary skills are very high on my criteria for evaluating an author. Enid Blyton possessed mediocre literary skills at best. But for sheer number of hours of joy that any author has given me, Enid Blyton muscles her way into the list. Enid Blyton’s writing has other redeeming qualities. She writes with a joy that is infectious to the reader. As for people who complain of subtle racism, sexism et all in her writing, give the lady a break. She just wrote with the attitudes prevalent in her era. Weaving tales of Adventure, Mystery, Fantasy and Joy she delights immensely. Go read good old Enid Blyton to savor those childhood memories again.
Faves: Five Find Outers, Mystery series, Adventure series, Malory Towers and St Clares, The Faraway Tree and Wishing Chair Series etc.
P.S: I like JK Rowling. But in my personal opinion she pales in comparison with Enid Blyton.
9) Rohinton Mistry: The only Indian author I have consistently liked enough to figure in my Top 10 lists. He never won the coveted but overrated Booker Prize though he figured in the shortlist three times. His writing skills lies in creating an ordinary world but he still keeps you rooted to his story. His only negative is the overwhelming use of tragedy in storyline (like most Indian writers).The other Indian writer who came close to the shortlist is Amitav Ghosh. I loved his “Hungry Tide” but I thought that his “Sea of Poppies” was slightly too ponderous .As for the Booker prize winning trio of Arundathi Roy, Kiran Desai and Aravind Adiga, I found Roy’s writings too dark, Desai too pretentious and Adiga’s writing skills poor.
Faves: A fine Balance, Family Matters.
Faves: Of Human Bondage
7) Ayn Rand: One of the most read, adored and controversial authors ever. This Russian American author wrote many novels-most popularly “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged”. She also developed the philosophical system called objectivism which propounds rational self interest as moralism. She was as hated by critics and philosophers worldwide as adored by millions of adoring fans. Introduced as a young teenager to Rand I was hooked. Roark became my hero –My ideal of how man strives to be but cant. While I am older and wiser now and realize some of the fallacies in Rand’s writings and philosophy, I still think she should be given enormous credit for her cult popularity and inspiring writing. Like her or hate her-You cannot ignore Ayn Rand.
Faves: The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, We the Living.
6) George Orwell: This British author writings are marked by a strong dislike to Totalitarianism. His famous”Animal Farm”, an allegory which reflects events’ leading up to WW2 was his first success. This book is as humorous as it is insightful. Another cult classic is his other famous work-“1984”.This dystopian novel made the words Big Brother extremely popular. His writings are compulsive and stay with you long after you have put it down.
Faves: 1984, Animal Farm.
5) Isaac Asimov: I was just recently introduced to this master science fiction writer. Science fiction is not a genre that I read too much of. Another Russian genius, he was one of the most popular and prolific writers ever. I have just started reading the “Foundation series” which is his most popular series to date. His strengths are amazing visualizations and creativity and a knack for making the most unbelievable things seem commonplace and somehow inevitable. Next lined up are his Galactic and Robot series.
Faves: The Foundation Series.
4) Leo Tolstoy: The Russians keep coming don’t they? This writer was universally regarded as one of the greatest writers ever. His two great masterpieces have overwhelmed me to a degree where I deliberately slowed down my frenetic pace of reading for fear of coming to the end and in order to savour every word and expression .He writes what is popularly called as realist fiction depicting 19th Century Russian life with a skill difficult to describe. I first read “Anna Karenina” I was spellbound that writing could be so skillful. Tolstoy’s epic “War and Peace” is not a novel in the strict sense of the term. His writings and sense of grandeur are impeccable nonetheless. Tolstoy stands fourth on my list but would deservedly top the charts for many others.
Faves: Anna Karenina, War and Peace.
3) Gabriel Garcia Marquez: This Nobel Prize winning Columbian author popularized a style of writing called as magical realism which uses magical elements in otherwise realistic settings. One of the most gifted storytellers I’ve ever read Marquez uses innovative storytelling like a paintbrush to literally make the story come to life in front of you.
I’ve read three books of his and fallen in love with the guy’s writings. The first book is the very popular “100 years of Solitude” set in the fictional town of Macondo. This had me hooked. I next read the novella” Chronicles of a death foretold”. Though this not magical realism, this was one of the first books I read set in non linear chronology. Finally “Love in the time of Cholera” may be viewed as his tribute to True Love. One Smashing Writer!!!
Faves: 100 years of Solitude, Chronicles of a death foretold, Love in the time of Cholera
2) Charles John Huffam Dickens: Dickens was one of the greatest writers to come out of England. Dickensian characters like the likes of Ebenezer Scrooge, Fagin, Mrs. Gamp, Charles Darnay, Oliver Twist, Micawber, Abel Magwitch, Samuel Pickwick, Miss Havisham, Wackford Squeers are so popular that people think they are real. Vivid characterizations and a proper sense of the macabre and wry humor are hallmarks of this great man. The mans greatness also lies in the fact that I love so many of his novels including The Pickwick Papers, Nicholas Nikleby, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield ,Bleak Times, Hard tales, Tale of two Cities, Great Expectations.
This man’s output was as prolific as it was great.
Faves: David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Pickwick Papers
1) Fyodor Dostoevsky: It is fitting that the list is topped by a Russian. Fyodor Mikhaylovich Dostoyevsky was a great novelist, essayist and philosopher who wrote some of the greatest words to written by man. He was considered one of the greatest and most influential writers ever. I love his writing to distraction .His two masterpieces-“Crime and Punishment” and “The Brothers Karamazov” is so beautiful that I cannot do justice to describing them. Go find out for yourself.
Faves: Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov
Hope you liked reading my list .Do you agree? Comments are welcome.
It is all very well to amble in looking important and carrying your laptop. But once they make you lie down in the chair which looks like a medieval torture contraption then you get that sinking feeling that maybe you are not that important after all. On comes the face mask and the gloves and presto the serial killer dentist is ready with her machines of death and destruction.
It does your ego no good when the dentist politely informs you that you have food particles sticking to your teeth and clucks her tongue like you are an irresponsible schoolboy who doesn’t clean his teeth.
On top of that you are dribbling saliva all over yourself. Ever notice how your mouth seems to produce more saliva than it normally does in a week when you are sitting at the dentist. They have this weird suction type of thing that you can see droplets of your saliva merrily whiz past.
Sometimes the dentist hands me a hand mirror so that I can see what miracles she has wrought in the third teeth on the top right hand side. Really? What is this? Modern art? I pretend to look on with wonder while wondering whether the neon lamp is making my teeth look yellowier than they actually are.
The Coup De grace is undoubtedly the root canal. For the dentist it is the supreme achievement, the equivalent of an open heart surgery for a surgeon. As I write this thousands of little kids who want to grow up be dentists are dreaming fondly of successfully completing their first root canal.
I wonder if it was like this all through the ages. Did Old Stone Age men bless their nastiest and most violent babies with “Thee shall become Serial Killers, Cannibals or Dentists”?
One such unfortunate trip to the dentist she put some really torturous metal piece into my mouth (Ostensibly to measure the shape of my teeth).After nearly caving in my teeth with all the force she could muster by thrusting the metal piece in my mouth. She then proceeded to sit back and crack a few jokes with her assistant. All the time with her hand half in my mouth. A few weak gagging and retching sounds I made gave her the impression that I was guffawing to her jokes and she proceeded to tell a couple more.
I always had this feeling that Dentists teach their kids math in a different way.
Dentist Mom:”Beta, if Gopal had 32 teeth and I pulled out 6, then how many teeth would remain?”
Dentist Beta:”But why can’t we pull out seven teeth mommy?”
You get the picture!!!
I think there is a popular argument that Dentists are not really doctors. I totally disagree. In fact as the Venn diagram below would show they are much more than Doctors.
Well this post was prompted because I got a sms from my dentist saying” Please come for the second sitting of your root canal today”.
I wonder if she reads blogs.
I hope I don’t get another sms after I post this. ”Please be aware that we do not accept any responsibility for untoward accidents that might happen”
God save me (And my teeth)!!! I wonder if I shall ever be able to smile after this.
The one thing they will NEVER be without is their bulky camera. It is almost a rule of nature that they will sling their camera around their neck with a lens long enough to be a barrel of a shotgun. You have to be really careful when you are out trekking with one of them. They will take photos of ANYTHING. Period. Whenever I used to take a leak behind a bush I used to be as alert as a hunter. I caught sight of the foreign hiker skulking around my bush a couple of times. I think I narrowly missed being “Exhibit A: Native Indian does Pee Pee on local flora”.
There was this time when I was bathing on this remote beach near Bengal. Indian beaches
boast of another unique phenomenon,” The Bathing Aunty”. They come to the beach clad in resplendent layers of Saris and finery. This lady had her middle aged husband with her. Suddenly without warning the lady jumped into the water with an almighty leap. These ladies never venture beyond a couple of feet of water. In order to experience the beach in totality they however proceed to lie down in the shallow water and roll about like a beached whale. After a couple of kicks underwater from her I proceeded to move to a safe distance. Not the foreign tourist. He must have figured out that this was some kind of local tradition. He proceeded to film the whole event with his multiple Zoom feature. Everything was ok till the man realized that that in all her rolling his wife’s sari had ridden up her leg, showing rather hairy legs. With an almighty leap he leapt on his wife legs trying to cover her modesty all the while shouting “Photo naa leebi” or some such thing. The foreigner had to be pulled away forcibly.
Another perennial favorite is to take photos of impoverished naked Indian Kids standing in front of suitably decrepit huts. The kids found this a novelty at first. So they gave suitably sad poses with all seriousness. Eventually they got bored. So now the photos have captions like” Sad Naked Indian Kid raising a skeletal middle finger”
Another thing they never travel without is their copy of “The Lonely Planet-India”. It is a book which is invaluable to them as it is written by fellow nincompoops who have been there-done that and then painstaking noted down the details in a book. “Observation 42: Do not apply vermillion paste on Hindu cow’s sacred forehead. Hindu cow becomes violently Un-Hindu like.” And many such inane observations and trivialities fill the book.
Wherever these foreigners go, they are usually followed by groups usually consisting of desperate guys who are out to have their moment in the sun. They strike up a casual conversation with the foreigner.
”Where you from, Madam?”
And out comes their 1.2 Mega pixel camera and a suitable friend is found to capture the moment which leads to countless moments of joy back home. ”Dekh yaar,potti mere pe fida thi yaar,Dekh kaise haath haath chipakke photo liye” And some admiring friend looks at the photo in envy and goes in search of his very own foreigner to torment.
Another sight to behold is when they encounter street hawkers, peddlers or beggars on the street. These people are trained well to recognize that these jokers fall for anything. So they make a big circle around the foreigners and start chanting in a suitably poverty striken tone.
“Madam, this marble stone from Taj Mahal Madam, look at Shah Jahan’s handwriting on the stone-Madam.
“Give me 1 dollar; I can eat for five days Saar, Look saar- four brothers and three sisters Saar”.
“Saar-photos from Kamasutra saar-Only five dollars saar-you and madam also same same doing saar-Super saar.
You get the picture.
Apparently these people do nothing at all in their country. I’ve overheard conversations like how the lady from Australia works as a receptionist for 6 months and then holidays for the remaining 6 months with the money she made for the first 6 months. I mean, honestly?
How many of even big MBA type people can boast of such a thing in India huh? You leave the office for even 1 month and return, you see 3 or 4 people have moved into your cubicle and have made themselves comfortable. They might even mistake you for the office boy and order two packets of tiger biscuits and a cup of milky tea.
The Indians retaliate by making themselves even more obnoxious abroad than their counterparts do in India (If that’s even humanely possible).
But that’s in Part 2.
Lord Vishnu has his trusty Garuda. Those Indian rulers always had a noble horse or elephant or some such animal. And I had my trusty Kinetic Honda Red Color.
We recently retired it. With great reluctance, after my brother threatened to walk out of the house if we dint buy him a vehicle which people dint snigger at as he drove .
We still have it btw. Mom refuses to sell it, for old memories sake. Mom has an elephant’s memory. So you know how my house looks like sometimes.
I have left it unlocked and parked outside our neighbor’s house so that somebody can steal it away if they want to.
This kinetic comes back to haunt me very often. Even after I bought this recently. Recent case in point.
Scene outside my house
Me: So this is my new Hunk….suits my personality eh?
Hot girl whom I am trying to impress: Whatever...…look at that Kinetic. So cute…isn’t that the one you used to ride in? Please sit on it on drive around and let me see how cute you lookie wookie…
Me: (Breaking the handle of the Kinetic surreptiously) What Kinetic? Look it doesn’t have a handle.
Five minutes later I was trying to balance with one hand on the Kinetic, grinning foolishly like an ape.
So you get the picture.
This vehicle was passed on to me by an uncle who decided that people had laughed at him enough and it was time someone else got some.
I used the vehicle all through school and college .Yes ,even when I put on a wee bit of weight while in graduation I still traveled by it, butt draped carefully on either side of the seat.
It proved to be the undoing of my social life. After much persuasion I would convince a girl that I was not a serial killer and would she come on a date with me. Yeah ok. Taj Krishna and I would pay.
One look at the Kinetic and she would give a start of alarm.
Me: (Pointing at the broken silencer) Look. I have rocket boosters installed.
Girl: Get away
Me: Auto? Public Bus? What fun eh?
And she would go out with Ugly guy who had the silver convertible.
I’ve ridden the bike to college which was a good 25 kilometers away.
One day the silencer decided to give up when I was on my way back from college.
Stuffed large wads of cotton into my ear and decided to move on. I had underestimated the gravity of the situation.
In the middle of a busy street I suddenly got the feeling that I was being watched. I woke from my reverie with a start and realized that two hundred people, four dogs, three crows and a cat were looking at me with various degrees of hostility.
Thank god for the cotton. At least I never heard what the fuming Sardar ji was saying. It sounded like Gehen Phod. Wonder what that means?
It was not all bad. I took a pretty classmate to school once on the Kinetic. Separated by two feet of distance but nevertheless sharing the same seat.
And waited eagerly for the rumors to start in college which such activities usually generate. For good measure scribbled “Preeti loves Sri “on the walls of the Restroom to help the rumor spread like wildfire.
Absolutely nothing happened. Damn it. If I had driven her to college in a big Bike, the story might have turned out differently.
This happened last week before we decided we had enough.
I was stopped by traffic policemen.
Policeman: 500 rupees
Me: Hee..Hee ..Haw ..Haw….Hee….
Policeman : I shall have to confiscate the bike.
Me: Rolling on the ground now in laughter. Please….For heavens sake.. Hee hee
Policeman: Er….50 rupees?
Me: Take 10, my good man.
Policeman: Thank you, kind sir.
That was the beginning of the end. Adeiu Red Lady.
Remind me not to play such silly games again.
I was playing this game last Tuesday with a female friend titled “unpleasant truths about each other”.
It was her turn. I was sitting on a couch, casually throwing grapes into my mouth from a distance.
“You don’t have too many manly qualities you know, you are slightly….how can I put it….. Dull” she commented casually
The next grape hit me in the eye as I recoiled in shock.
“What do you mean?” I spluttered indignantly.
She poked me in the tummy with a beautiful manicured finger.
“Ouch!! What the..?
“Is your stomach flat?” she bellowed like a Nazi dictator.
I studiously ignored her. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I am not fat. Just pleasantly plump in certain places if you gather my drift.”
“Real guys like to exercise” she continued. Vinod spends an hour every morning doing 200 pushups. 200...”she emphatically repeated. ”He has this body to die for, what a chiseled chest” She drooled away.
So sue me.
“What are your hobbies?” She demanded next. Pesky female, this.
“Huh?” I had drifted away to sleep.
She poked me in the stomach again.
“Hobbies” she repeated, with an evil glint in her eye.
I was beginning to be alarmed now.
“Err, books…..writing…mmm that’s it I guess”
“Such gay hobbies. All the guys I know have hobbies like Fast cars, Soccer, Mountaineering .Why are you such a sissy?”
“All the guys she knows...Don’t I count?” I thought sarcastically. I however remained silent hoping it was over.
“You hardly Party. You don’t drink or smoke. Why on earth will a girl fall for you?” she went on.
I took offence. While you don’t have to peel the girls off me by the dozens, I have had the odd admirer or two. I said so to my friend.
“Ha, I bet you wrote her some soppy poetry or something” she said and went off into peals of laughter.
I began to deny indignantly when I remembered I did write some poetry for her.
There ended my last pretensions of manliness.
She had her eyes shut lightly as if deciding what other aspects of my manliness to attack.
If this were a Group Discussion titled “Why the guy beside me is not manly” she would have aced it.
I tried to tiptoe out of the room silently before she opened her eyes. I was almost out of the door when I realized that my way of retreat was not the sign of manliness so I silently tiptoed back in again and sat next to her.
I considered killing her by hitting her on the head with a large book.
I had visions of her ghost coming back to tell me that how a real man would have killed her by running her over with a Ferrari Convertible.
Note: The above post was in jest. In reality I weigh 65 kgs, have a waist size of 30, train tigers for a hobby and routinely jump off cliffs for a thrill.
P.s: Girl friend applications open from today. SMS “Macho” to 7777.
The long standing debate of whether “Leaders are born or made” has reverberated through intellectual circles for some time now. The political succession in India unfortunately is largely of nepotism fostered in a culture of servile allegiance to prominent political families by the hangers on. Else we have those leaders whose only claim to fame is birth in a certain class or caste of society thereby inducing a sense of pseudo superiority that the followers live through their leader.
An interesting parallel to compare with is the current robust health of our business scene. In the new millennium, one of the biggest factors in the rise of India Inc. has been the steady production of intelligent, well educated, suave young managers from the top B schools across the country. It is obvious that a B school per se does not make managers, a certain aptitude is necessary. But what is does is play a role of a catalyst –transforming a lodestone of ideas and attitude into a finished product capable of expressing and executing these ideas in the proper channels.
So I would like to propose an idea of a P-school, akin to and modeled on the lines of a B school, which will serve as a finishing school for young Indians who want to make a career in the political sphere. It must be emphasized that a political seats should not be the exclusive prerogative of scions of political parties nor of over the hill movie stars. It should be a viable and rewarding career option for the common man. And this P-School must be the vehicle which will give an opportunity to allow this to happen. Below I shall attempt to explain my concept.
If we conduct a survey among the school children of the country on what they would like to be when they grow up, it is a foregone conclusion that an insignificant number, if any would aspire to be politicians. The brand image of politics as a profession is rock bottom with corrupt, inefficient and other unflattering adjectives frequently associated with the ilk. The primary objective of the P-School along with honing the people management skills of the person is to give legitimacy to the claim of the average Indian candidate to political office. The P School would first be started by the government in a city of their choice as a pilot project, later mushrooming across the country on a need basis. All the political parties which expect to benefit by the course would be stakeholders. Later supply and demand would automatically give rise to private players which would lead to increase in competition followed by increase in quality.
The recruitment tests would consist of an aptitude, awareness and ethics test (Multiple choices similar to CAT) in English and all vernacular languages. This would be followed by Group Discussions, debates and personal interviews.
The next pertinent question which arises would be the selection of instructors at the school. The supply of ex politicians ,civil servants, lawyers and others with appropriate political antecedents to take up the mantle of finding a new generation of leaders would, I am sure not be too hard.
The duration of the course should ideally be for two years. The first year of instruction would be common to everyone and would include courses like Fundamentals of Political Management, Quantitative Methods for Political Managers, Research and Data Collection, Speech Writing, Political Management and the Media, Fundraising, Campaign Management.
By the end of the first year, there would be a summer recruitment process by which various political parties offer a two month internship to the student after a short listing process. Based on his ideals and inclination the student would choose his party.
The second year of instruction would involve taking up various specializations based on various political and social ideologies existing in India. These would be comparable to Marketing or Finance in a B school. The students would also need to work at NGO’s and other grassroots organizations at various times of the year. Ethics would be a strong undercurrent throughout the duration of the course.
Finally it will culminate in a placement process which would be attended by all political parties of prominence to recruit. Exhaustive tests would be conducted which would lead to offers to the individual students.
I would like to point out here that managing an organization in not too different from managing an area politically, the primary difference of course being the scale. Both are essentially people management jobs, even if I am over simplifying it.
Let me address the primary criticism which will arise at the concept of a P school. ”Politics can be only learnt by experience” people will say. ”What will you learn within the four walls of a classroom?”
I'm quite certain that before schools of law, medicine or business were established, critics said the same thing about those fields. While I hasten to add, the P school will by no means be only theoretical. A large percentage of the credits will involve field trips, projects, case studies and the like. But it is essential not to underestimate the results of theoretical instruction.
Any profession undergoes a change in the method of instruction from haphazard to organized as it matures. We cannot just be content with blaming our politicians for the state of our country. There should be a vehicle where normal Indians with fire in our belly and passion for excellence should be able to make a difference. And that is what the P school aspires for.
It might be possible that in some remote corner of the world, say sub Saharan Africa, there might exist an undiscovered species of woman who behave logically and in a way comprehensive to the poor harried members of the opposite sex. Somehow I really doubt it. Don’t get me wrong, I love all women. The ones that look like Pamela Anderson anyway.
Well, to subtly illustrate this point (Not about Pamela Anderson but about women in general) let me narrate a story. The chief characters in the story are: One IIT Type guy, working in a big factory with a large disposable income. And one B school type girl, cute, smart, and with the right smattering of girlish eccentricity which drove IIT type guy mad. (Not with desire I think, though maybe that too).
Some back ground is required. Both of them live in the same city, a measly 20 kilometers apart .A drive in rush hour traffic would take about 2 hours from his house to hers. Through back breaking, bone crushing, soul wrenching traffic which would make Sun TV Midnight masala a very inviting alternative. But our guy was made of sterner stuff, he persevered. He would come back from work, dutifully wear his best deodorant, travel 20 kms to her place, smile and pretend that the drive was pleasantly spent in anticipation of their forthcoming meeting, pick her up, drive back 20 kms to the city to take her to an expensive restaurant (No highway type dhabas for her), eat dinner, drive back another 20 kms to drop her back and then drive back home another 20 kms.
As you can see he spent a good part of his life driving. He could have quite profitably run a cab service (I doubt whether even Blue line buses have a frequency of 2 to and fro trips in 3 hours).All that is ok. He did it because he liked the girl. What is a mere 8 hrs/day on the road compared to the love of a beautiful girl? Right?
One night he drove back home after an unusually agonizing ride back home in traffic. He thought the dinner had gone well; the food was good, although she had been slightly silent and had looked expectantly at him as if she wanted him to deduce something. Not being related to Sherlock Holmes, our guy ignored her and drank and made merry with indecent exuberance. She apologized prettily for having kicked him accidentally in the shin during dinner (3 times no less).He was feeling unusually noble for being chivalrous enough to treat his girl like the princess that she was.
He had just parked his car, when his phone rang. It was her. ”Probably to thank me for doing so much for her”he thought with pride.
This conversation can be described in the following sequence:
Guy: So…good time naa?
Guy :( in a self congratulatory tone) so… you look like you have something to say
Girl: Well...today…somehow…I dint feel close to you…
Guy: But we were sitting so close that I could feel the wart on your hip…
Girl: that is the problem, you never understand me.
Guy: Err…What... (Doing his imitation of a confused ape-man)
Girl: The whole problem is that you are not driving the relationship.
Well, put yourself for one moment in the shoes of the poor guy. He practically spends his life driving for her. And to get such thoughtless comments about not “driving” the relationship hurt him to the quick. As you may have imagined, the conversation rapidly went downhill from there.
To cut a long story short, they decided to meet up later to resolve the issue. On his birthday in fact.
They had just been seated in an expensive restaurant (where they charge you for merely looking at the waiter).
The waiter in a loud whisper asked the girl whether he should get the cake now or later. Our guy was the bashful type. No loud or raucous birthday celebrations for him. He insisted that it was ok that the surprise had been ruined and could they please cut the cake in his car, without having the ignominy of demented waiters grinning at him. She agreed.
He asked for the bill. With a start he realized that the bill was slightly inflated. He quickly scanned the items in the bill and realized that the cake was billed to him. Well, he was not the kanjoos type .But he considered it only fair that a cake which was bought for him on his birthday should not be billed to him, by principle. Fair right? Especially when he could have fed a slum for 13 days with the amount the cake cost.
He politely smiled, trying to catch her attention. “Did you realize that the inflation rate for chocolate cakes with icing in south Asia is 17% this financial year?”
She looked at him like he had lost it. He gave up.
Later when he was back home, he realized that she had packed the rest of the cake and taken it home for herself. He was chivalrous. He dint begrudge her the cake.
He went and switched off his cell phone before lying down in bed with a cold compress before she could call up and say something like ”The icing on the cake was when I did not feel close to you today.
He couldn’t stand the mention of cakes right then.
I am not disputing the fact that you once put the Hema Malinis’ of the world to shame. However that was about half a million years ago. This letter is to strongly bring to your notice that we, the young innocent men aged 20-25 who travel in the public buses of our city do not intend to tease/leer/molest you at all. We would rather French kiss a Walrus. So next time our hand accidentally brushes your hand or we fall against you when the bus gives a sudden brake, kindly desist with the hurt and outraged look of an innocent 16 year old. What you are imagining as the red lusty look on our faces is merely the pain when our elbow accidentally collided with your hipbone.
It is bad enough when all Bollywood /Tam/Gult movies portray us as maniacs who are waiting for the slightest chance to bump against nubile young girls. That’s true enough. We are like that. But the operative words here are young and nubile. We even nod our heads in agreement when you try to pull your young daughters away from our nasty leering eyes. But pray pause a moment when you pull yourself away. We solemnly promise you that the jasmine in your hair or the kanchivaram sari you wear is not exactly what we fantasize about.
When we decide to sit next to you in the bus, it is merely because of our paining legs after a hard days work. Though your decision of putting half your body outside the bus though the window so that we don’t brush against you accidentally certainly gives us a lot of space to sit comfortably, it pains us. We worry that a passing pole would accidentally knock you back against us and you would die of a coronary thrombosis of the heart. In this world where space is a luxury, we worry about the distance between us on the seat which would be enough to seat two elephants and a hippo.
We also confess that when we were in our early teens and our hormones were out of control we did watch the occasional Shakeela movie when the Jenna Jamieson video was out of stock. But we are well past that stage now. It merely scares us witless when we watch them now. From Meena and Nagma we have now graduated to Scarlet Johansson and Katie Holmes. Our tastes have refined as we have become men of this world. So my dear Aunties, unless you have teenage daughters, you have nothing ever to be scared from us.
I know that you read lurid paperbacks about macho heroes who rescue their heroines from impossible situations. One look at your pot bellied Brahmin husband and you feel like throwing the novel at him. So you try to imagine romance and intrigue where none exists. We are entirely in sympathy. Our wives would probably face the same thing in 20 years time. But in the meantime, when we still have ample hair on the head and only the beginnings of a potbelly (which we can hide under a shirt of the right fit), please let us go about our business of attracting the PYTs in peace. When we are surreptitiously trying to touch the hand of the sweet young thing in the public bus, if our feet actually stamps your feet, please desist from calling for the cops.
Yours (lovingly) respectfully ,
Young Men Bus Travel Association
These attention grabbing pictures can be classified into a few standard types.
Main hoon Hero: The subject, usually male, stares at the camera with ferocious intensity .His photo has been clicked when he is out climbing the Himalayas, strumming on his guitar, fighting the neighborhood Bengal tigers or any such manly activity. Our hero, in spite of the ordeal is immaculately attired in branded clothes, designer sunglasses. A condescending smile and all the right muscles complete the picture.
Most likely scrap:” Whassup dude?”
Mama! I’m famous: Abhishek Bachan, Hrithik, Aishwaria Rai et al. Some go for an international celeb for a more cosmopolitan image.
Consists of two categories
Extremely ugly guys who know that putting up their actual pic would mean they would remain bachelors all their life.
Extremely good looking girls who know that if they put up their pics they would be harassed by Category 1.
P.S: The death of a girl in Mumbai after meeting her lover from orkut has now been understood to have arisen from shock to see how the guy actually looked.
Most likely Scrap:”Guess who”?
Thoda Casual Mangta Hai: Endeavoring to convey a boy/girl next door image. The photos have all been “accidentally” clicked. The subject will be look at any direction except the camera. Quite likely to have a half demented far away look in their eye. Will be wearing torn shorts, pajamas etc to emphasize the casualness of the situation.
Most likely scrap: “Remember me?”(If you don’t they will scrap you 12 more times asking “Why haven’t you replied”,”You look very busy” etc)
Techno freaks: Lots of spare time at their hands. Spend hours on piccasa or Photoshop to scare the living shit outta you. The subject is at a weird angle to the camera. The background is a nauseating combination of weird colors. Sometimes Black and white to cover their spotty complexion. Morph ugly face on handsome body. Morph Ugly body on Ugly face. His own Mom can’t recognize him now.
Most likely scrap: “Album updated!!!”(Note the 3 exclamation marks to emphasize the point)
Tab Main chotta Bachha Tha: The collection of the ugliest baby pics ever found on the internet. Usually dribbling from the corner of their mouths. Painstaking scanned from torn photo albums. To emphasize innocence. Cause of innumerable confusions like the actual age of the person now, the sex of the person etc. Usually sparks off a series of scraps from girls with moustaches on their faces which all go”Cho Chweet….is that you?? Did you wet your pants often then? You get the picture.
Most likely scrap:” It’s been a long time” (To include all the years growing up too”)
Change is the essence of life: Works on a real time basis. Is usually armed with a webcam or phone cam. The aim of his Life is to click pics from various angles and upload it instantly. The face is usually very close to the camera, arm extended giving a slightly distorted picture. Usually is so engrossed taking the pic that he forgets to smile. Badly Lit background.
Most likely scrap: (doesn’t get time to scrap…only upload pics constantly)
Famous Places/Nature: The subject stands in front of the Eiffel tower, the statue of Liberty, the qutub Minar etc else in front of a scenic background. Often have to screw our eyes to locate the person in the pic as most of the pic consists of the back ground. Travels 3 days of the week. Uploads pic the other half.
Most Likely Scrap: ”Eiffel Tower pics uploaded”
I’m sure all of you have identified the category you belong to. And I know my Orkut Page tomorrow will have 4234324 profile visitors all asking the same question”What pic has this guy put up? .We’ll show him.”
After gasping at my nude profile pic you’ll be short for words. Try and classify that … (evil Grin). (Mom and dad! I’m joking.)
- The government of India today awarded citizens who cast the maximum votes for the Taj with deluxe holidays for 4 days and 3 nights at the Taj Mahal. The top prize winner was however caught trying to exchange his gift for a second hand microwave oven.
- A mysterious fight broke out between Mr. Manmohan Singh and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi today. Our reporters interviewed Mrs. Gandhi "I am a true Indian. Even though I eat pizza 4 times a day and my Hindi accent sucks, please don't think otherwise. When that sardar insisted that the Taj Mahal was better than the Colosseum I had to teach him a lesson. Mera Bharat Mahan."
- The mysterious disappearances of women all over the country were finally solved. The women are committing suicide by burying themselves. In a emotionally moving letter mirroring millions of other letters, Mrs. Taj Begum (Name changed on request) begged her husband to build a monument in her name so that her soul can rest in peace
- Bill Clinton famously once said" The world is divided into people who have seen the Taj and people who have not ".He today admitted he was wrong. He said it should have been" The world is divided into people who have SMSed for the Taj and the people who have not."
- The share price of Bharti Airtel has zoomed to Rs.6700 per share. In an entirely unrelated incident, after consultation with a numerologist Mr. Sunil Mittal has now changed his name to Sunil Mittaj.
- The tourism revenues have quadrupled this quarter because of the tremendous response from the people of different nationalities who throng the Taj Mahal daily. The breakup was
Tourists from Agra-96%
Rest of India -3%
Our reporter caught up with Mr. Lal who lived 100 meters away from the Taj Mahal. "It is my first visit" he said" I wanted to know what I had voted for"
- In a startling twist, months after actress Bipasha Basu exclaimed"Oh my god, it's the Taj Mahal" after the inclusion of the monument of Love in the final list, her personal love life has dipped alarmingly.
- A red faced Abhishek Bachan refused to confirm rumors that he had married Aishwaria Rai after his family conducted an SMS contest to decide the bride. An unrelated report from the telecom department showed that Salman Khan and Vivek Oberoi had unusually high phone bills that month.
- The Indian Cricket team now leads the ICC cricket rankings. All the other teams had 200 points subtracted because an enquiry revealed that no other team had any monument in the new 7 wonders list. Ian Chappel remarked morosely "I asked my government to nominate my brother Greg for the competition. But they went with the opera house and see what happened?"
- Saurav Ganguly took over as the captain of the Indian team after it was shockingly revealed by our reporter that Dravid had voted three times lesser than the Bengal Tiger for the Taj Mahal. Our reporter caught up with him . "Taj Mahal is the pride of Bengal "he said. When reminded that the Taj was not in Bengal, he threateningly swung his shirt over his head.
- Greg Chappel leaked an email to the press which highlighted how it was the fault of Saurav Ganguly that the opera house could not make it to the final list. "He is not a team player. When I was captain of Australia the Taj was barely known" he complained
My Nai died yesterday in an accident.My family and I are desolate and are only slowly recovering from the pain.
We adopted our dog from the streets about 8 years back.Brown in colour and with one ear misshapen,our dog showed up in our house and decided to stay.Fond as we are of dogs we decided to adopt it.We named it "nAI" which literally means dog in tamil.All my neighbours were used to us shouting Nai...at the top of our voices.
My dog ate anything.But it loved tomatoes more than any other thing.If during cooking Mom forgot to put the tomatoes at a safe height,the tomatoes would be gone.It was the cleverest dog i had ever seen.It understood every word we said.It was human,my nai.
When ever the Paper recycling guy used to bicycle down the road in front of my house yelling,my dog would imitate his tone and pitch to perfection.The paper guys soon got used to it. But whenever a new guy came,he would look at our house warily as he cycled past.
We gave it the most comfortable life a dog could ever wish for.It slept only in the AC room or in front of the cooler.It would share our food,right fromn icecreams to curd rice.Whenever it felf that we were eating something without it, it would sit down and utter a sharp bark to remind us.It had blankets during winter but ended up sleeping on the bed.
Once every 2 months it would stay out for 2 ,3 days at a strech and worry us.My father would go out to look for it .It was scared of bathing.It would run miles whenever we planned to bathe it.
I cant go on.I love you Nai.More than you ever know.And i am sure you are looking down upon us from some doggy heaven with lots of tomatoes strewn beside you and having a lot of fun.But we miss you.Rip.
I looked out of the third floor balcony of the brown colored building. Appa, Amma, Thatas and Pattis, uncles, aunts and a few stray cousins were all waving their hands. My family has this quality of gathering around in big numbers when they foresee an event of some consequence about to take place. And my engineering entrance exam which was scheduled to begin in 13 minutes 34 seconds qualified as an event of consequence. The culmination of months and months of back breaking effort, the thousands of rupees of carefully hoarded money paid for study material and tuitions, the hopes and dreams of a family as they all looked at me as a way out of generations of penury and struggles. Only a small factor stood in the way of their aspirations, a factor that only I realized. I had no hope in hell of clearing the exam.
I carried a water bottle slung over my shoulder. My forehead was smeared with vermillion and veebhudhi as a safety precaution if my mind was not at its razor best on this important day. I carried three gold and red pencils assiduously sharpened to a sharp point by my mother. I carried a pad, which would be used to support the answer sheet. The pad was covered with various stickers. A saraswathi photo tidily pasted to the top right corner was ample evidence that my mother had been at work here too. But there was also a sticker of Spiderman and one of the WWE wrestler the “ROCK”. And in a clear concise handwriting the name Senthil Ragavan scribbled below in tiny letters.
No. That was not my name. I forgot to introduce myself. I am Surya Vinayaka Ragavan. Senthil is my brother. ”Was” rather. He was five years older to me. He was brilliant guy. After effortlessly getting into the BITS, pilani, he died of a lung problem in his final year of his engineering. He smoked too much; catching the habit early from a friend and never was quite able to give it up. My parents were shell shocked for a year. They then recovered rapidly and proceeded to pin their hopes on me instead.
I really liked my brother when he was alive. He would buy me and my friends’ ice golas at the corner shop if we came across him when we were loitering on the hot dusty streets of Hyderabad, for that’s where we lived. He would fly kites with me during the festival of Sankaranthi. I would patiently catch the chakri as he deftly flew the kite and I would yell “Affaaaaa” with all my might when he would cut the kites of the other kids. I was proud of my brother.
But I am ashamed to say, I don’t like him anymore when he is dead.
I looked at Appa. He looked really small and inconsequential from this high up, a small wizened man, prematurely old from too much work and too little money. He looked lonely and forlorn in spite of the people around him. I genuinely prayed for a moment, hoping for a heaven sent miracle to clear the exam, to make him happy. But I neither had the brains or the application required to clear the exam.
I really want to be a writer. I am writing this story at the age of 37.My story. As I sit all day long in this dim room in my cramped flat typing away with one finger my wife thinks I’ve gone mad and leaves me to my own work. But I am happy; finally I am doing what I always wanted to do. Where was I? .Oh yeah I was about to step into the examination hall to write the exam. But let me rewind the story to two years ago.
I had just got the results of class 10 Board Exam. A steady stream of relatives, well wishers and friends poured into my house offering congratulatory messages to Appa and Amma for having been blessed with such a fine son who scored 92% in his board exams. I had my cheeked pulled by a Punjabi aunty, who then proceeded to stuff my mouth with an outsize laddoo saying “Mooh Meetha Kar lo” as was her custom.
This was the earliest I remembered of the sub conscious rebellion against my parents which persisted all through my life. My parents always held centre stage in my life, relegating me to being a nobody in my own life. They were graciously receiving visitors now. Appa was dressed in a Kurta pyjama, old but spotlessly immaculate. Amma was wearing her best kanchipuram Silk sari, resplendently wearing all her jewellery as if she were decked out to go to a wedding. She was being very nonchalant about the whole thing as if brilliance in the family was commonplace.
These class 10 board exams are very dangerous. They are the first genuine indicators of the capacity of a child. Senthil had scored a whopping 96% in his board exams. He was in his third year at BITS right now, smoking three packs a day. He has on-campus offers from a couple of companies to work for them already but he has not committed to anybody yet. He wants to pursue his masters in the USA.
Anyway as I was saying, my family used the class 10 exams as a litmus test of a child capability. If you get below 75% you were a social outcast like that neighbor Latha’s child. Between 75% to 90% you were considered good. And if by any chance you managed to get above 90% you were classified as “IIT material”. And then you were dead. Granted that there were people who got into the IITs and other top engineering colleges,and I am not saying it was a bad thing to do either. Cream of the intelligentsia and all that. But there were people cut out for engineering and people not cut out for engineering. I was most emphatically not.
Appa was a school teacher who taught class 10 mathematics in the neighboring school. He was a sticker for doing things at the right time. He got up at precisely 5 am every day. Took a cold water bath at 5 minutes past. He then went for a morning walk. Had breakfast at 9 am. Went to school at 9.30.Returned at 4 pm. He read the newspaper from end to end after that, commenting acidly to my mother about the articles he did not agree with. He wrote a couple of letters a week to the newspaper in stiff formal language. When one of these letters was printed he would cut them out with his scissors and paste them in a brown scrapbook he displayed proudly to every visitor that crossed our threshold. Pushing forty when I was in class 10 he was a sprightly fit man, proud and intelligent. He had three degrees already. A B.sc in Mathematics when he was a student followed by a B.ed when he was 30 and an M.sc through correspondence only a year ago.
Appa was a conventional old man. But in one aspect he was not conventional. He loved American fast food and would eat pizza and burgers and gulp down Coke like aa American teenager. In fact many years later he would die peacefully in his bed at precisely 9 pm, the last words we would ever hear him utter would be ”Get me some French fries”. It was a wonder he remained fit with all that junk he ate. It was a sight to behold .Appa with a pile of magnificent pizzas in front of him while Amma was timidly eating curd rice and avakai. For all the differences in their eating habits, Amma was the one who turned out to be fat in her middle age.
It was an arranged marriage obviously. Love obviously was frivolous so my Appa avoided it .He worked his way through school and college and supported seven brothers and three sisters besides. He was awarded a gold medal in his graduation which he displays proudly in his drawing room and which looks more like lead and less like gold if you ask me. But maybe I am jealous for I have never won anything in my life. He married my Amma when he was twenty two. My brother was born two years later. Around this time my father’s brother Seenu Peripa had an unusual bit of luck in his cloth business. So that was how Appa’s uneducated brother came to become an enormously wealthy man. He married a pretty, young girl who was closer to my age than his. Reena Perima would come to our house dressed in jeans and such a tight t shirt that my father would lock himself up in his room, refusing to come out till that “devil” had left the house. However I and Senthil would giggle uncontrollably when she would sway past us talking in her high affected voice. I don’t know why she came so often to our house for she had nothing to come for, save two gawky adolescents gaping at her .Appa refused to even speak to her and she drove Amma mad with her tales of what was the latest thing to wear in the Mumbai party circles and the latest piece of delicate artwork she had bought .
From very early on in our lives Amma and Appa made sure that everything that we saw, thought or did was in some way connected with the larger purpose of getting into a good engineering college. Before I even learnt to read a book of numbers was thrust into my hands. While my friends got cricket bats and tennis balls for birthday presents I remember all I got was books of various sorts like the “Magical Mathematical tricks” etc.
At most they would agree to buy us board games which were supposed to improve our thinking ability, while our friends played in the glorious rain outside. I remember playing countless games of Brain vita with my brother in our bedroom. When I was six years old the temptation was too much for me and I jumped out of the window one day and had two glorious hours of fun, playing football with the poor kids across the street. I came home gloriously dirty and tired, nose bleeding through a minor scuffle I had got into.
I was not punished at all. Amma and Appa did not utter a single word of reproach. But Amma did not eat well for three days afterwards, dabbing at her tear stained eyes with the end of her pallu. Corporal punishment was passé in our house. We had a novel kind of Indian torture, punishment by guilt. After the fourth day when Amma began to look weak, I went up to her and apologized. Only then did she eat.
It was not all bad obviously. During meal times my brother and I would sit on the floor in front of her as she made small balls of the sambhar rice and handed it alternately to us, along with a piece of fried papad. Appa would tell me stories about the Ramayana and the Mahabharata as we listened open mouthed. Afterwards Senthil and I would play mock games of the great epics. He loved to play the roles of Rama or Krishna while I was content to play a Duruyodhana or a Ravana.
I used to be rocked gently to sleep on my mother’s lap. Even as a child I used to suffer from insomnia. I would go crying to my Amma. She would gently lay my head on her lap and rock me, singing old Tamil songs from the movies of MGR and Shivaji. The moon would cast a solitary ray of silver through the broken window pane right on my eyes. She would cover my eyes from the rays, glaring at the moon for disturbing her son. They loved me a lot all right. But many years later I still cannot sleep. And when I lie awake thinking about them I realize that love alone is not enough sometimes.
I have written for various reputed Newspapers,Magazines and Websites including The Hindu, Rediff,JAM etc.
I write mainly in the areas of Humor,Business/Marketing,Fiction and general articles.
- The spectrum allocation fight
- The IPO
- Sub prime crisis
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- FDI in retail
- rupee appreciation
- Twenty twenty case
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I assume that you have taken the trouble to come to this page that you would want to know something about me.
1)Where are you from?
I am a mongrel.Born in Chennai,brought up in Hyderabad and worked in more Indian cities than I can count.And before you ask me,I have not gone onsite yet.
2)Are you educated?
Silly question.I have an engineering degree in Electrical but would be hard pressed to even state Ohms law.I suffer from a poor memory and wandering concentration.I also somehow picked up an MBA in Marketing.
3) Do you live off your parents?
No I dont(though occasionally I take pocket money from them). I earn my own bread and sambhar and rasam.I work in an IT Company in Chennai.(Dont we all?)
4) Do you do anything of note other than eating and sleeping?
Oh yes.Lots of things.I also drink water,laze around,watch TV etc.Seriously I do have my hobbies which include Reading,writing,rock,travelling,photography,cricket etc.Yes I am a jack of all trades.
5) Why do you write Humour pieces?
My humour articles are an extension of what actually goes on in my mind.I think very similar to how I write.Unfortunately it means that I burst out laughing at inappropriate occasions following my own chain of thoughts.
6) Are you single?
Hahahaha...(rolls on floor) After reading my articles how can you even ask such questions.I am surrounding always by a bevy of scantily clad women.But a good application can always find you a spot.
I am most emphatically not a Party animal. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke, I dance like an animal in pain, and Punjabi music makes me wince. But for reasons I am not able to fathom, I go to all of the parties in my B School with the devotion of a pilgrim. Maybe it’s because of the money we are forced to contribute to the Party. It is usually a hefty amount, carefully designed to pay for my soft drinks and alcohol in copious amounts for ten other people.
This time I decide that I’m going to take things into my own hands. I decide to make sure I eat and drink my four hundred rupees worth or die trying in the process. I reach nice and early and after pushing out two other people in the line grab the first burger of the evening with a satisfied smile. Only 390 rupees to go, I think to myself.
Thirty minutes later I am looking at my half eaten fourth burger with revulsion. I visit the loo frequently but my body refuses to accept any more Coke. Once I figure out who owes me the remaining Rs. 307.25 ,hell is going to break loose.
The first time I heard the MC, BC word after I landed in Delhi was in a party. I turned around in awe struck shock when I heard it. There have been family feuds and people killed with blunt axes for using such language in my hometown. But something was terribly wrong here. One guy was smiling like he had received the biggest compliment of his life. ”Tu hain BC...”the other guy cooed again in tones of infinite love. They hugged each other after that. While I still don’t use the words myself I have learnt not to wince each time people let loose a string of profanities. In fact I confess I stood before the mirror one time to see how it sounded as I tried yelling the words myself. I had really got going when a saw a face peering at me in some concern through my window.” “God...you must really hate yourself” muttered the witty guy as he walked away. ”BC” I whispered to his retreating back.
Punjabi music is something that never appealed to me.But my friends swear by it. And as for the huge Sardarjis, they spring to instant action. They wave their arms and legs in a frenzy, magically acquiring the wingspan of an albatross as they contrive to knock off your spectacles from impossible angles and distances. And they stamp on our fallen spectacles for good measure, as they try out a particularly interesting dance step.
Placements were five days of total madness. I still remember the first day when all of us were trooping into the seminar room for our group discussions for a particular company .I was walking into the room just behind one of my close friends. Suddenly he decided to bow deeply at the two people from the company. Now I was in a quandary, wondering whether I should bow too in order not to lose my competitive advantage. The company representatives were looking with concern at him wondering whether he was overcome with stomach cramps, so I decided not to. A particularly funny rumor is still going around college about how my friend bowed lower and lower each succeeding day of placements till he succeeding in impressing some company with a particularly fine low bow.
I had seen drunken people before I came to IMT. But the scale and the scope magnified tenfold after I came here. We have some of our parties in the amphitheatre which is very pretty. But with its steep steps, it is not easy for navigation by people who are drinking their tenth pegs of alcohol. I was sitting on those steps and enjoying the music at one of the parties when a body came crashing down face first on my feet. I nearly jumped out of my skin (besides having really sore feet for a couple of days afterwards). After another such party ended I was just getting into bed at 5 am when a knock on the door woke me up. My friend stood clad in a towel. ”Wake me up at 10 am “he said seriously. He looked slightly tipsy so I asked him the reason for getting up early. ”I have to go to the court” he proclaimed proudly. Nonplussed I asked him why. He put on a sinister face. ”Blood blood…..blood everywhere “he suddenly screamed and then ran away. I ran into my room and bolted the door.
There are many kinds of drunken people. Some of them become violent and abusive, some of them become and sleepy and pass out, some of them throw up all over the lobby. One of my close friends became emotional every time he got drunk, remembering all the girls he ever loved and was sobbing madly on my shoulders by his fourth peg,leaving me with a very wet t shirt indeed..
I started washing clothes for the first time here. My friend carefully informed me that we had to soak the clothes in water for some time before washing them, in order to get the layers of dirt out .He neglected to inform me that the clothes should not be soaked for more than a day. I remembered about the clothes I had soaked after five days, when people had started complaining about the odor from the bodies buried under our lobby. I always used the dhobi after that. So much for doing your own work.
I had gone to akshardham temple with a female friend. There was very stringent security, so we had to deposit our bags at the counter. My friend very prettily asked me to carry her bright pink purse and lip gloss with me in my pockets. Overcome by a bout of chivalry I agreed. However I had forgotten something. All of the visitors were searched at the entrance by a security guard. He came up with the lip gloss and pink wallet on me and stepped back in a hurry. I gave him my most ungayish smile I could muster up on the spot. It did not work apparently for he gave my things back from a safe distance.
There were sad moments too. We all loved together, had our hearts broken together, we all cried together. A few of us found love here too.
That reminds me.I have another friend who has been commited to a girl since the last five years.They talk on the phone so much that it has become a joke with all of us.We used to tease him a lot about it daily.One fine day his girl friend had gone for a bath .And my friend called her up at precisely that moment.Another girl picked up the phone."Hello...."my friend cooed in his most lovestruck tone."Who are you?"asked the surprised girl.My poor friend almost hit the roof,confusing her for his girl friend.We spent hours calming him down.
Now the days are drawing to a close with frightening speed. Every time we want to hold on to certain moments they seem to gallop away faster. Now we are going our separate ways. Our paths would cross with certain people, while we would never see others again.
It was more than two years of fun. It was an entire lifetime of memories. Thank you IMT.
Sparks of clashing steel flash across dreary horizons,
Dark shapeless fiends close in .Ah!!!solitary me,
War cries and screams echo in dense night air,
Lonely battle of life I fight, foes outnumber…
Transient faces drift past in endless shadows,
Mutating lovers into uncaring strangers,
Agonies of pain sear flesh, torment soul…
Stare straight ahead; refuse to fall to earth,
Naked defenseless, towering amidst bloody carnage,
Hope fadeth fast, foes spring to life all around,
Closing eyes for one eternal moment,
With a cry of hope, spring forward again.
Strong beliefs spur me on…to imagine
A day when calm skies greet peaceful earth
When I fall with a sigh into arms which love and trust,
Into a land where immortality shall take birth
Vanquishing lust of the night darkly,
Scattering life …bright blaze,
Riding noble, across heavens vast moor,
Alas, vanish it does, behind lofty mountain blue,
Oh mighty one, where does thou travel?
Ephemeral spirit…gone are you,but…
Darkness will reign no more