Dental Troubles.

on Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dignity is very important to me. But if there is one place in this world which always makes me look as dignified as a gorilla turning somersaults, it has to be when I am sitting in my dentist’s chair.

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.

Foreign Vacations-1

on Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I am no Christopher Columbus .But whenever I can wheedle a few days from my boss, I head out to some remote location in India where I can get some peace and quiet from the junta. Lately however I have started noticing an annoying phenomenon wherever I go, namely the ubiquitous foreign tourist. I just can’t escape them. Whether you are backpacking up in the remotest of Himalayan Regions or snorkeling in the deepest of seas they will find a way to pop up beside you somewhere, grinning like a good natured ape.
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?”

“Err... Azerbaijan”
”Oh Yes Madam, my father’s cousin brother also from same baighan madam. One photo please 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.

Kinetic Trouble

on Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Every guy worth his salt has one.

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?

Girl: Loser…

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: License?

Me: Er...Sorry.

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.

Macho Man

on Wednesday, April 02, 2008

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.

I wish.

“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.

“Damn it!!!”
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.

P School for Politicians.....

on Monday, February 04, 2008

India has done remarkably well as a vibrant democratic nation since its independence some decades ago. This is a remarkable feat in spite of the questionable antecedents of some of the politicians who have governed Indian through the ages. While it would be erroneous to conclude that all politicians are inefficient, what needs to be deeply introspected is the abysmal percentage of politicians who have come into power based on criteria of performance and skill alone.
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.