Friday, December 23, 2005

Mera number kab aayega ??

Thats Hindi for "When am I gonna get my chance at ... ?". The issue in this case is marriage.
In the coming few days, two of my friends are getting hitched (not to each other, atleast not until they legalize same-sex marriages in India). While for me, it means yet more free food, the most comforting feeling is that - "Hey! good things like these can surely happen to guys like us!! :)"

Thats a very comfortable thought indeed. Trying my hands at losing my single status a few times, and succeeding only partially, I have temporarily given up on any such endeavours in the near future. The motto of the day is - "let the parents do the dirty job of finding a decent girl". We are living in good times my friend. Wait, no , change that to - we are living in a good country my friend. One where arranged marriage is always a saviour of poor souls like me. I am ok with arranged marriage, heck! 80% of the marriages in India are arranged (ok ok I made that statistic up, so sue me!). My only problem with it can be summed up in one sentence that my mom said to me.

It happened like the following. Picture this - me narrating my 'criteria' of a decent girl to my mom, and my mom going 'uh huh, ok, carry on...' and so forth. After I finished my lengthy monologue, I asked my mom - "Ma is it unreasonable to try and find a girl like this?". And my wise mom replies - "No son, it is not unreasonable to demand, but sure is impossible to get".

So until I stop freaking out from that comment, I am still gonna hold on tightly to my bachelorhood and make my fellow Aquarians proud of me :) (Saying goes that in a gang of friends, the Aquarians are typically the last ones to marry).

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Riding into the sunset ?

A long long time ago, from the wild wild North, came two cowboys - Jai and Veeru. All they wanted was sanctuary, after years of oppression at the hands of the ranch-lords back home. Their aims were noble - they desired to learn gunfighting from the very best. These experts were the fastest hands in the west, who, funnily enough, were frequently and fondly called chair or vice-chair by their peers. And why did our two cowboys want to get involved in this deadly art ? Well, so that no one would ever hold them at gunpoint or take advantage of their clumsiness with the trigger, back home. So that when they go back, they would be able to defend their own land and property, instead of being a mute spectator of the doings of the ranchlords.

Little did they know the fate that was awaiting them in the west. While Veeru had had one and a half years of prior gun training and knew how to shoot ducks from 50 metres, Jai was a rookie in the game of barrels and bullets. To compensate for this, Jai's guru told him to learn and learn fast. Waking up as early as 11 o'clock day after day and shooting till 4 o clock in the a.m. became a norm for him. Since he was a baby in this big bad world, he took on not one or two but three masters - he practiced the revolver with one, the sniper-rifle with another and his true love, the semi-automatic, with the third. So obsessed did he become with this semi-automatic, that he starting reading about its internals, its mechanics, special bullets and stuff. Soon the village kids were coming to him with questions and he was more than happy to oblige.

But what the poor Jai didn't realise was that while feeling secure with a gun was one thing, being loved by a fair lass was another, and much bigger, feeling. While Jai was in the shooting ranges, his buddy Veeru had become helplessly romantically entangled with Basanti. Veeru, unlike Jai, had an experienced hand with guns. So he had all the time in the world to whisper sweet nothings into the willing ears of Basanti.

This went on for four months and a half. The training came to an end, and the time to test their skills had come. As expected, Veeru, through sheer experience, and love-charged batteries, came out with flying colors. And Jai was struggling with gruelling exams one after another. And then came the call for help from the North! The fate of the North depended on the newly learnt abilities of these two young men. Finishing their training quickly, they mounted their steeds, took off their hats in admiration of the west, and rode North.

But while Veeru had the feeling of surety, the feeling that only someone in love can experience, there was no such luck for Jai. Uncomfortably and unknowingly he nudged his horse towards his destination.

Watch this space to know more about Jai and Veeru's story.....some of the biggest mysteries will be unfolded over the next few days, like:
Did Veeru marry Basanti, or was he just fooling around?
Did Jai make it to the North alive?
Did Jai find true love (in the form of a girl, rather than a gun) ?
Was Veeru's experience mighty enough to save their village from the ravages of the ranchlords?
Was Jai's love for the semi-automatic powerful enough to pull him back to the west?

Some teasers of the coming episodes...

Jai (screaming): Veeru is my friend and I can't let him go away and marry..

Ranchlords firing incessantly at the dynamic duo. Veeru doing the double revolver cowboy stunt and Jai doing a Matrixesque move to dodge the bullets...

(A girl's voice, we can't see her face) : Jai....I wanted to tell you something...I love you..

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Black diwali

You know that you are no more young when your younger brother wears three-quarters and you think it is childish. Well, atleast that's what happened to me when I met my folks for Diwali. Oh, by the way, hope all you guys and gals had a happy diwali !

Speaking of Diwali, it sure was a really black one for all of us. With the triple bomb blasts in Delhi, it was a tainted diwali for us Indians. Stuff like this has been happening for a while now. Innocent civilians have been dying every day, every week for many years now. Personally, my patience has really run out. Its really difficult to keep one's cool especially after seeing the gory scenes on the news. Its one thing to read a statistic in the newspaper and another to see victims' guts sprayed inside out on the streets and bodies of children everywhere. Its all so disgusting that its hard to feel anything but hatred. Faith in humanity seems to be lost. And then one hears about people, like the bus driver and conductor who emptied the bus and saved many lives. And some faith is restored. The driver lost one eye while disposing the bomb but many families will eternally be grateful to him.

One thing that hurts the most is the extremely low value we place on human lives. We read news of terrorist acts in the same breath as cricket scores. And we dont flinch. Not a bit. What does it take for the government to sit straight and take notice ? The parliament, the center of the democracy, was attacked not long back. And what did we do ? Move our troops to the border, made all kinds of noises. And retreated.

No, I don't want war. The lives of innocent people cannot be avenged by killing more innocent people. But something should be done to construct a very effective deterrent. A country of a billion people, a wannabe superpower, if it cannot protect the lives of its own, if a few puny mercenaries can make mockery out of its border security, such a nation will never be taken seriously.
Its high time we took off our Mahatma Gandhi robe and put on the garbs of Sardar Patel and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Breakfast finally!, not at Tiffany's though.

The human mind works in funny ways. Or so it seems after pulling in a textbook all-nighter. The one where you start working post-dinner and go to bed post-breakfast. Been a while since I did that.
Just came back from the Sunday breakfast and am writing this, so it may be incoherent. What I couldn't understand about the breakfast was that what on earth were those ten other guys doing at 8 in the morning on a sunday in the mess hall !!! This is supposed to be IIT, where people are so exhausted from playing comp games on a weekend, that they develop carpal-tunnel overnight. I guess the IIT Bombay chaps are way too geeky as compared to their Delhi counterparts.

Now that some pooris are inside my stomach, I feel pretty good. The illusion of Homer Simpson guzzling a Duff has vanished and the brain seems to have come out of the twilight zone. Guess I should eat breakfast more often than once a year.

Oh one last thing though . I couldn't help recalling those 9:29 a.m. jalebi sessions on Shivalik Sundays :( . Going to bed at 7am on a sunday, waking at 9:29 and grabbing the last few pieces of jalebis from the mess hall and going back to bed - now that requires superhuman willpower.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

First one bites the dust

This is reporter Asterix reporting the aftermath of the Mehta-Gupta alliance ceremony which took place on 10th October in Meerut. Needless to say, this is the first LP wedding to take place and needs special attention and description. To do that, the LP group needed plenty of eyewitnesses. And just like the three magi who came to see Jesus on his birth, there were three LP-ites to witness the magic moment - PJ, Praywin and myself.

The mysterious absence of Chummi was often talked about, and the even more mysterious "I may make it" email of Aggy was frequently laughed at. Sources close to Chummi say that he had used the pretext of going to the wedding to sneak off to his own pre-marital honeymoon. Sources close to Aggy say that his email was just his usual "I am alive" packet that he sends every three months.

Anyway, coming to the wedding now. So Praywin and I reached Meerut at 11pm on 9th October after a lot of theatrics, courtesy Air Deccan and Kingfisher Airlines. We ate the customary poori-sabji-chhole-raita and witnessed some good solo dance performances from people from both the sides. Now personally I would rather be caught dead than be caught dancing solo, atleast when I am sober. So I tried all the cheap tricks in the book to hide myself. And to my relief, the choreos soon gave way to podium, where our own groomie boy gave a Salman-esque dance performance. Then the amateurs gave way to the professionals and soon Praywin was wooing the local beauties through his sleek gyrations.

The night ended with a crack-session (here crack doesnt mean weed) between Praywin, me and Mehta (the groom) till almost 6am. We ended up recalling many instances about PC and Sardar Jasdeep Singh. PC's incidents provided most of the comic relief. The next morning was pretty reminiscient of IIT Sunday mornings, as we were woken up at 9:25am, and we ate some freshly made jalebis and promptly went back to sleep after having a stomachfull :)

PJ arrived in the evening and our number was 3 now. Getting ready as baraatis, Praywin wore a revealing paper-thin see-through kurta, all whose buttons were missing, thus leaving the previously mentioned local beauties gasping for breath. The baraat itself was pretty eventful, with the band singer sucking bigtime, but we still danced away to glory (on "yeh desh hai veer jawaano ka, albelo ka mastaano ka" etc etc). Later on it was revealed that everybody was asking the groom about the 'three musketeers' who were dancing like there was no tomorrow, and the groom had replied that the three were hired in Delhi to dance at the wedding. Till now, the three of us haven't agreed on whether to feel offended or complimented at this comment.

The ceremony was a pukka north-indian one, with all the good food, all the pretty girls, beautiful arrangments, approximately 13724 photos of the couple, 1/2 ton worth of gifts, plenty of not-so-good DJ-ing, all the relatives coo-chi-cooing the cheeks of the newlyweds and so on.

The end of the marriage ceremony was also pretty interesting, with our dear groomie managing to flirt with all his newfound lady-relatives, unmarried as well as married, thus making every bachelor and married man jealous (yeah I was jealous bigtime). There was a game where the groom was supposed to make impromptu hindi 4-liner poems in order to 'earn respect' of his in-laws. What his in-laws didn't know that he was the Hindi-Samiti representative of our hostel, so pretty soon he was earning even more respect than Don Corleone in Godfather.

Overall the ceremony was pretty cool and ended at around 5am when none of us could bat an eyelid without dozing off. Our return journey back home was made even more eventful when PJ "man-handled" Praywin in the backseat of my car (remember the zero-button kurta ? :))

PS: Some real and nicknames have been changed to protect the identity of the victims. All the other things took place as described.

Monday, September 26, 2005

No love on the beach

Wow, that was a really long break from the blogging world. How long has it been ? 3 weeks ? Jeez man ! Down with the mid-sems !

So I was back at my favourite haunt - the Bandra Bandstand, with His Holiness Mr. Manish Bhide. The goals were simple - cheese masala pav for the stomach, jogging beauties for the eyes and pelting a couple of stones at SRK's house for the general good of mankind. Ok ok I made the last one up. I mean who would throw stones when much bigger rocks are available on the shore ;-)

Well, finishing a glass of awesome pineapple juice, I began looking at the couples sitting on the rocks nearby. Me and Bhide were trying our best to add to the gay romance angle, but lets face it : both of us are heteros at heart. So I was looking at these couples and most of the girls seemed to be paradoxically unhappy to me. In some cases, the guy was trying to convince the girl about something, his most convincing tactic being holding the girl's hand. Its not the fastest arrow in the quiver my friend ! Logic and women are like vodka and whisky. They just don't mix, and whats more, even if you put them forcibly together, you get a pukey feeling in the stomach and a headache the next morning.

It was then that I started to wonder about one of the foremost questions plaguing the mankind. The likes of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle have spend countless frustrating nights pondering over this, not to mention our own medieval boys like Voltaire and Kant. Apparently the question drove Descartes so mad, that all he could come up with was - "I think therefore I am". As you may already have guessed by now, the question is - "Why are the best looking girls always to be found with the most idiotic looking guys ?". [Disclaimer: This question is nowhere related to my loveless single life].

I began a thought experiment : I imagined going over this question with a good looking girl. Now being with a gorgeous babe is no different than any guy's 'usual' fantasies, except that in this case, there was some talking going on.

So here goes the thought experiment. Me and the gorgeous looking babe (GLB):
Me : Why do you go out with that stupid surly looking fellow ?
GLB : Excuse me ! Do I know you ? Why are you even talking to me ??
Me : Hey! This is a freaking thought experiment. Come on man ! please cooperate.
GLB: Oh ok.
Me : So tell me what do you see in him ?
GLB : You mean apart from the great physique ?
Me : Err....yes. I meant is he nice and jovial ? Does he make you laugh ? Can you discuss a good book with him ? Does he hold your hand while walking on a moonlit beach ?
GLB : Well he spends a lot on me. Buys me superficial gifts. Takes me to pubs and discotheques, buys me clothes that leave nothing to the imagination. Sends his car to pick me up and drop me.
Me : And there are no negative aspects ?
GLB : Sure there are tons! He treats me like a prize trophy. He is happy to be my boyfriend not because he is happy to be with me but because he feels 'extra cool' in his circle of gym buddies. Plus he is a total jerk.
Me : So why not go out with someone more full of substance ?
GLB : Half of them are geeks, just like you....
(Me : sheepishly smiling and also feeling smug as being marked 'full of substance')
(GLB contd)... and the other half dont have the nerves to approach the girls they like.
(Me : feeling confused...aren't I in both these halves? Thats it , I am a spineless geek. Woohoo!)

So there you have it. My thought experiment was conclusive after all. Girls do want to go out with intelligent, sensitive and funny guys. Looks isnt everything. All they want is that the guys should make the first move. As for me, I am an enlightened soul. I know exactly what to do. Its time to pick up those dumbells and pump it up !!! There sure is no way in hell that I will land up a GLB , writing all these crazy blog entries.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

No ether in the net

First they announce a quiz barely after I complete 2 assignments. I dont complain but study and give the quiz. Then on the same day, I get _another_ surprise quiz in another lecture. I feel betrayed and robbed off all my innonence, but still I stay quiet. As expected, I screw up the quiz but calm down after just half an hour of hysterics. This is life, I think.

But then, horror of all horrors, my ethernet card dies on me. This one breaks me completely. I can live without food, clothes, water, girlfriends, but I cannot, I repeat, I simply cannot live without those sweet little packets of internet traffic. Suddenly life becomes devoid of all meaning and I feel like dialing the Indian equivalent of 911.

Guess Monday will bring some good news about my replacement card. If that doesnt work out, I can always move back to Delhi - the land of redundant internet connections and the home of the 24x7 tech support.

Friday, September 02, 2005

My world this week

This has been a very hectic and forgetable week. Began with me having long bouts of beer-drinking..sometimes 3-4 nights in a row, just to make up for lost time. Have to admit, watching Australia lose to England, while drinking beer, is one of the most cherishable moments of my life :)

It went downhill from there. Because then came a couple of ultra-sobering assignments, which took longer than usual to complete - thus involving me and Bhide in long marathon sessions of coding and analysis. I dont recall ever spending 3 consecutive days on a single assignment back in undergrad time. Celebrated the assignment completion by a beer drinking binge (what else?) at a local seedy pub, thus causing my first ever beer hangover. Although all that beer induced gas did help me float the next day in the swimming pool :))

Then somewhere between beer and coding, I realised that I have a quiz to study for. I dont remember being so blasphemous in my entire life. I guess if I can pull this week through, I can deal with anything.

As always, thanks for reading.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Non-linear morale curve

With Monday meetings with my guide being the norm, I thought it would be useful to plot my fluctuating states of anguish, panic or euphoria. So here goes nothing, (inspired by PhD Comics)

Salient points on the morale curve:
a) Prev meeting with guide went well. Realizing that the next meeting is far off in the foggy future, morale is at an all time high.
b) Realize that half the week is over and nothing has been done. Panic is beginning to set in.
c) Realize that the problem is harder than thought on Tuesday. Red 'panic' button pressed.
d) A brief spurt of motivation to solve the problem, no matter what. The spirited moment is, however, shortlived.
e) Other students say that the guide is sort of cool if you dont work for a couple of weeks. This news serves as a straw to a drowning man.
f) Realize that you _have_ to work this week because you haven't worked for the previous 3 weeks. (e) is not an option.
g) Unable to solve the problem. Become comfortably numb and stoic. Adopt a "main aisa hi hoon" (this is what I am) attitude for the meeting which is only 2 hrs away. Morale increases slightly because of the 'martyr attitude'. Spend the remaining time calling loved ones and writing the will.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

To swim or not to swim

A post after a long time. I was slightly busy with business (if you can believe that!) and pleasure. On the pleasure front, I went to Hyderabad over the weekend to meet a college friend. No I didnt visit the Charminar or have Hyderabadi biryani at a midnight buffet, but I did relax around the Hussain Sagar Lake and checked out the Imax at Hyd's only multiplex.

In other news, I have started swimming. Rather, I have started trying to swim in the IIT pool.
In a daring show of courage and determination, I defeated a kid in a photo-finish breadth-crossing race yesterday :) My coach and manager Mr. Manish Bhide will attest to this fact.
Ofcourse, there are other pool-related cheap stunts, like lingering around the pool area during the ladies slot but more on that later...

PS: Bhide got 5 kgs of grub from his fiancee, so suddenly I have started making demos at his room instead of mine :)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Lecture karma

So we have this compulsory course on Communication Skills that has a 2 hr lecture every week, and that too at as early as 10:30am, which really gets on my nerves sometimes. So this time, Bhide and I decided to unilaterally end the lecture after 1 hr had passed. The plan was to occupy the seats closest to the exit, sign on the sheet and then slink away when the time came. We did take the front row seats but little did we know that God would be so benelovent upon us that the sheet would come to us in the first 20 seconds of the class. Like evil twins who can read each other's mind, we quickly signed our names and ran away like fugitives from prison before the instructor could say "good morning". Bhide created quite a show by taking a fake mobile phone call while going out. Me ? I was just running like there was a pack of dogs behind me. Guess I haven't got Bhide's grace :) Anyway, we behaved like real scumbags and it felt really gooood. Pretty nostalgic, huh ?

Little did I know that the lecture karma would come back to haunt me. A couple days later, I had an afternoon class at 3:30pm. With nothing else to do, I went to my workstation in the institute and was getting pretty bored. Then I decided that I would surprise myself by entering the class at 3:25 and be before time for a change. Well, as I entered the lecture hall, I realised that my supposedly 3:30 class was actually at 2pm and it was in the process of ending when I made my grand appearance. My eyes met the disapproving eyes of the professor and I made an oscar-winning portrayal of a guy who had casually ambled into the wrong lecture room. I slunk away before the professor could stop me and give me the third degree. All's well that ends well.
[Update: All definitely didn't end well. There was a quiz in that lecture in which I got a grand zero :( ]

Oh by the way, did I mention that Bhide is off to meet his in-laws. He flew business class, because, in his own words, "there was no other option".

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Front row ka mazaa

Since my only class today got canceled, and I had to collect my air ticket from one of the Air Sahara offices, on an impulse I decided to go to the farthest possible ticketing office in Bombay. Ofcourse Bhide came along since he has nothing better to do anyway. So off we went towards Nariman Point. Realised that to reach the ticketing office, we used quad-modal transport (walked till main gate, auto till Kanjur Marg, train till VT, bus till the office). The highlight of the trip was ofcourse getting to sit on the very front row seats of the top floor of a double decker bus at VT. This was a first for me and was pretty exciting. From up there, every turn and lane-change seems to defy the very laws of physics !! :) When the bus takes a sharp turn, one almost feels that the unstable vehicle is going to topple.

Came back to IIT for some welcome meeting for the new PhD students. Our primary concern was, ofcourse, the free snacks that were to be served after the meet. It is good thing to have a person like Bhide as a food partner because the guy never touches anything oily, desserty, too sugary - in short anything worth eating :) .

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Not so Great Punjab

Went to this eating joint on Linking Road with Vikram. The placed is called "Great Punjab" and I was rubbing my hands together in eager anticipation of some atleast "slightly great" Punjabi food. The ambience was ok at best and so was the food. The servings are not ample and the taste...well it was average at best. Oh and did I mention that they serve alcohol :) Ultimately cost me 450 bucks per head . Guess I will stick to Papa Pancho the next time I am in that neighborhood.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Delhi and Mumbai

I have been thinking of doing a serious post about my perception of Mumbai and how it compares to Delhi. I have stayed in Delhi for almost 8 years and as expected, the city flows in my veins. A full blown comparison against Mumbai was thus inevitable :) .

Ok Delhi first. Well the city is much more spacious than Mumbai - wider roads, much more greenery, parks, no rampant skyscraper construction. In terms of infrastructure, it has _many_ more roads and did I mention that the roads were a lot wider :)
In terms of food, Delhi beats Mumbai hands down in my fav cuisine department - North Indian (Mughlai/Punjabi). Any average roadside Delhi restaurant can offer you yummy tikkas, delicious kadahi paneer and tasty naans. Till date I have only found Papa Pancho in Pali Hill, Mumbai that even comes close to offer competition.
Then there are the 'people factors' - viz the average Delhite is more generous, stylish, extravagant and in general slightly loose with the purse. The 'spend and enjoy' first and think later is the prevalent attitude in Delhi. (Dil pehle dimaag baad mein :) )
And for the middle class and above, commute is much more comfortable in Delhi. The fact remains that one can travel 25 kms in Delhi inside of one hour on road on his/her own vehicle.
Things will become even better when the metro spreads.
There are other minor pros in favour of Delhi - booze is roughly 20% cheaper :) , petrol is much cheaper, proximity to the awesome Himalayan treks and hill-stations, clear cut four seasons etc and etc.

Mumbai now. Where should I begin ? The city has bowled me over with many pleasant aspects.
And many of these things are sorely lacking in Delhi.
Firstly, its a great leveller. I feel that the rich and the poor are sort of alike because this city still respects one with merits than those with means. I have seen executives with laptops and expensive cellphones sharing local berths with the neighborhood chai-wallah on their way to work. And nobody seems to mind even the slightest bit. I can almost imagine some Delhi snobs turning their nose up at this remark. I guess the most endearing thing about Mumbai is that an outsider can see how the average Mumbaikar really sweats for his daily bread. From standing in queues at the bus stop to cramming into the already jammed up local train , spending 3-4 hrs in commute everyday and still maintaining a it-doesnt-matter smile on the face.
Another factor is the level of professionalism in the city. Be it the auto-wallahs (do they rock or what !), or the commendable efficiency of the trains/BEST or the general civic sense in the residents (making queues for the auto/bus etc), everyone makes it his/her duty to maintain order in this chaotic city. [I got scolded by a gentleman at the Bandra promenade today evening. I inadvertantly entered the promenade while eating some snack and an elderly gentleman who was jogging by made sure that I finished my food before I got anywhere near the waves.] Delhi on the other hand has the apathetic "Chalta hai" attitude written all over it.
Finally, Mumbai has the monsoons to offer. Irritating (and inconvenient too) at times due to its abundance, it surely is a welcome change for me, one who has just arrived from a scorching desert called Delhi.

Will add later as and when other factors arise.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

First post

Wow!, I have my own blog now. Guess I will start with this first good-for-nothing post. Just wondering why didn't I create this blog earlier when I had more time to kill :) .