Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Of knees and news

My situation in the past few weeks can be summed up by the following two lines: (with apologies to EUPHORIA)

Seedhiyaan jab chadhta hoon to roti halke halke, my knee
Ab kya karoooon, kaise chaloooon, myyyy kneeeeee
Yes, a few days ago, I hurt my knee ligament real bad while running the Bangalore Ultra 26k race, which explains the lack of "thought-provoking" posts from my side. To top it all, the specialist has given me roughly two quintals of medicines to be consumed in a week. Most of them are the usual puke-inducing fare, but one of them is a "protein supplement".

The "protein supplement" is a powder containing a whole variety of metals, including some Uranium ore if I am not wrong. The whole amalgam is "chocolate flavoured", which means that it tastes somewhere between a damp shoe and a rotten cabbage.

But enough about injuries and medicines. I am writing this monthly post to inform you all about some news in my life. No, I have not been declared pre-approved for a loan, nor have I "already won" any fabulous prizes. It so happened that a few weeks ago I was caught watching pornography at work, that too on a porn web-site not approved by the company. Consequently, I have been shown the door, and because of my stellar surfing record, no other company would hire me.

Yes, thats right, I am packing my bags in Delhi and arriving in Bombay for good as a full-time PhD student. Boy! I can't wait to go through the college's list of approved porn-sites! The decision for a permanent shift to Bombay has been a well thought out one after weighing the pros and cons.

1. An online collection of movies to watch, that too on a 21" monitor.
2. No need for a daily bath.

1. Stipend just enough to purchase a month's supply of soaps. (see pt 2 above)
2. Hostel room not much larger than a coffin for a midget.
3. M*%$@#-F%$#^%g humidity.

As you can see, the pros outweighed the cons.

Inshallah! my next post will be from the ultra-happening suburb of Powai.

Monday, November 19, 2007

AC-3 or AC third class

DELHI (19 Nov) I bet you know I am pissed off because this post is being written after 1 am. I can't shake off the feeling that the Indian Railways with its offering of "the mo*^%&#-f$%^#ing AC-3 tier coach", along with my co-passengers, is out to screw me, have a smoke, then come back to screw me again. I present the following evidences:

1. The compartment, including the side berths, is meant to seat eight. However the passengers in my compartment have approximately 287 people to see them off. And they all squeeze in or stand in the aisle, leaving no room for genuine passengers. All of them wait till the last millisecond before getting off the train. This is accompanied by shrieks of "arey train chal padi!!", as if we paid all that money to go sit in a stationary claustrophobic cell.

2. Atleast one person attempts to swap seats. He offers a seat, usually a middle berth (Murphy's law) in a compartment 20 coaches away, or sometimes in the adjacent train. "Travelling together" is a big deal even in the night trains. If there is no such person, nocturnal predators with wait-listed tickets are usually on the prowl for confirmed ticket holders who can "adjust" for a few hours. Since I am a bachelor with the innocent face of a sucker, I can't escape being gang-adjusted repeatedly by a series of wait-listers. My medical results reveal that I may never recover from this severe trauma.

3. Atleast one of the co-passengers carries luggage that will put an Antarctic expedition to shame. Consequently, the entire floor space plus halves of two berths and the aisle become full, allowing only someone with the skill-level of Bob Beamon to make it across to the bathroom. Oh! and needless to say, all that hunk of luggage will not have a single book to read on the way, except "Stardust" which will be over by the time the train pulls out of the platform.

4. The presence of atleast one baby in my compartment is mandatory. And if the baby's bawling and howling is insufficient, the parents make repairs by throwing in some brain-dead baby talk. The baby talk comprises of atmost three sentences of the kind "Ale Ale Ale baby kyon lo laha hai...", "deko deko bahar doggie hai cow hai pigeon hai...aley waah aley waah" and "chalo mamma paas chalenge, abhi beta soyega, raaja beta soyega" and so forth. These three sentences will be repeated in an infinite loop until the mother dies of dehydration or I puncture my ear drums, whichever happens first. If the baby talk does not suffice, the dad usually initiates a suave and sophisticated game, like pulling a coin out of the baby's ass, thus cementing his skills as a magician, and the kid becomes all wonder-eyed thinking "Holy Shit! My ass did that ??" With all this talk of babies, I'm tempted to use the pun "berth control" here but I am sure it has been used a million times already.

5. The person on the lower berth feels "sleepy" at 8:30pm, just two seconds after s/he finishes dinner, forcing the others to retire. Unless I am the lower berth owner, in which case, I won't be allowed to sleep before 2:30am. Even then, a group of wait-listers will suddenly materialize to sleep in the aisle, thereby giving a new meaning to "sleepovers". (Question: Is throwing bread crumbs at the bums sleeping on the floor impolite? More importantly, should I use brown bread?)

6. The person on the middle berth will sleep the longest, turning the rest of us into Hunchbacks of Notre Dame. On being woken up, he/she will generally give an Oscar winning "oh am I causing any trouble" look. The rest of us have, ofcourse, already been woken up by the obnoxious tea seller at 5:45am, who usually passes on secret information of the kind "abhi Aligarh cross kiya hai" along with the freaking mud water that passes for tea.

7. All the bathrooms will be occupied till 2pm, so the elderly uncle will lose all pretense of good manners, and will let loose the dogs of hell, otherwise known as the farting guns of Navarone. While the more adventurous of us can start guessing which pickle did uncleji have with aalo and rajma last night, I prefer to lean outside the door, looking for the next electric pole to bang my head into.

8. Needless to say, a delay by a few hours is to be expected. For example, my "superfast express train" after Diwali took 21 instead of 14 hrs, and this was a good day I was told. The last 20 kms took more than two hours. Hell! I could have run faster than that. Shameless self-advertising ends here.

Next time, I am travelling in the cargo hold of the first airplane that I see.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I finished the marathon and all I got was a lousy pair of shoes

DELHI (31 Oct): 2 hrs and 7 mins (my best so far), and could have been easily reduced to 2 hrs if my new shoes had cleared the training runs.

Kids, we all learnt a lesson on the 28th. Never, never run a long distance race with worn out shoes, no matter how well they have served you in the past. My legs are still fatigued from the race.

Rants apart, this was a nice race, with a different route -- Chanakyapuri - Safdarjung Flyover - Prithviraaj Road - India Gate - Rajpath and back. The crowd was bigger, with more serious runners. There were a lot of first timers too -- Girish, Nitendra and Shantanu included. Nitendra got his picture in the paper (bib no. 3621), and is now contemplating modeling for Jockey and Rayban.

All was not hunky dory though. With idiots like Vodafone and Indiatimes managing the event, thousands of finishers had to stand in the queue for another 2 hrs before they could get their timing certificates and medals.

To make up for the boring marathon details, I leave you now with two yummilicious and totally unrelated pictures:

The dishes in front are ofcourse RajKachori (left) and Paapri-chaat (right). The ones in the background are not Chhole Bhature, but an awesome Bengali dish called RadhaBallavi (I hope I got the spelling right). The side dish is Dum Aaloo with a mouth watering gravy. All this food is courtesy the Delhi and Bengal food stalls at Dilli Haat.

Exhibit number 2 comprises of Jalebis from a hole-in-the-wall shop in Chandni Chowk (Old Delhi). It is the area's most open secret. The finger puts the thickness of the jalebi in perspective. It is the tastiest jalebi I have ever eaten, and its no wonder that a single piece (which is huge and very fulfilling) costs around 20 bucks. As a friend from Bombay put it -- it feels like a couple of gulabjamuns have exploded in your mouth.

Now would be a good time to wipe all that drool from your shirt.

Update: I have been threatened to acknowledge the sources of the photos. The Dilli Haat pic was taken by GoldenSilence and the Jalebi pic was taken by the Goan Bird.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Blogger contemplates confronting Bengali colleague regarding nuke deal stand-off

DELHI (Oct 7): Sources reveal that in an act of unprecedented stereotyping, local lad Rahul Gupta contemplates confronting one of his Bengali colleagues to get to the root of the UPA-communist nuke deal stand-off.

"I want nuclear energy and I want it now. I can't wait for these sissies to chalk out a compromise. I want to know whats bothering these goddamn communists", gushes the blogger.

He thinks that the logical next step is to contact a Bengali, who alone can "explain things as they stand, along with their reasons" (sic). Apparently this statement has caused a lot of grief to his Malyali colleagues who are feeling left out inspite of being communists. "Well lets face it. Keralites are busy dumping hair oil on their scalps and eating beef all day long. Even a monkey can argue better than them!", justifies Rahul.

He goes on to list the names of his various Bengali friends, who are top targets for his machinations -- Debojyoti, Sushrut and a fellow known only as 'Sarkar' (real names hidden to protect the victims). However, he knows that arguing with Bengalis is tougher than beating Australia in one-day matches.

"I want to equal their intellectual levels before I discuss this issue, so I have started doing Bengali stuff -- staging rallies, leaving work at 2 pm, swimming in the local pond to catch fresh water fish, and increasing my decibel level and blood pressure to 200 during arguments about football/cricket", he says as he describes the preliminary qualifying procedure for debating with a Bengali.

Well, whatever his means are, we wish this local nut the best of luck in his endeavours. He is going to need it. No one has ever survived a debate with a Bengali and lived on to tell the tale.

UPDATE: As this article was going to the press, we received news that the much anticipated confrontation indeed took place at the office coffee machine after lunch break. After a tireless and commendable effort by the blogger, his bemused Bengali colleague just asked him to get the hell out of there, go plough a field, commit female foeticide or join the army or do whatever it is that Haryanvis are supposed to do.

Friday, September 28, 2007

US finally overtakes Nigeria

DELHI (28 Sep): Although it may seem like I have lost all hope with this world we live in, some events shock you to the very core and turn your beliefs upside down. As a magnanimous gesture of philanthropy, I received this email, which I present in its entirety. I know, I might not be the lone recipient of such a gift, but please, let me savour this moment while it lasts.

From Us Military Base

Hello Dear
My name is Sgnt David Hill. I am an American soldier, serving in the military with the Third (3rd) infantry Division in Iraq . I and my superior after going on a rampage on Saddam Hussein's palace in Baghdad we discovered a large container where various denominations of currency worth millions are hidden.

You can enter the below website to confirm more of our discovery which was made known to the government, but this particular one is a top secret:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2988455.stm
Having discovered the container in question, I alerted my superior officer who smartly told me to cart away a substantial amount. The fund in question was moved to a secure place with the assistance of our contact person in United Kingdom .

Family Doctor of our British military colleague); the total is $25,000,000.00 (Twenty-five million US dollars). Basically since we are still in active service, we cannot keep this fund in our bank accounts. It is on this juncture that I was mandated by my superior to look for a reliable and trustworthy person who could assist us to receive the fund on our behalf for investment purposes. Hence, my contacting you.

There is no risk involved whatsoever. If you are interested, I will send you more instructions on how to get the money. My duty is to find a good partner that we can trust and that will assist us secure the fund. Can I trust you? To ensure confidentiality, when you receive this letter, kindly reply our Family Doctor in london Mr Johnson cole with the information Email: johnsoncole_442@rediffmail.com Please Remember To Submitt Your Full Name/Address/Age/Occupation/Phone Number To Him


Sgnt David Hill

In God We Trust

My respect for Sergeants has grown exponentially since the day I saw Sgt. Hartman shot at point blank range in Full Metal Jacket. So when an army Sergeant beckons and beseeches and uses some more "be-" words, I listen. But "be-"fore I proceed with sending my details, I need to iron out a few doubts and clarify my stand.
  1. I am a big fan of rampages, and the looting and pillaging that goes with it. No problems here, we see eye to eye in this matter. I unearthed lots of treasures the last time I went on a rampage, although later it turned out that it was my own house.
  2. In God I do not trust. But, as mentioned before, in rampages I do.
  3. The top secret findings of your 'rampage' are made available on BBC's website. I find all this, as Britishers would say, particularly singular.
  4. For an American, your English is not too impressive. Maybe it is years of eating those "Freedom Fries" and hamburgers, that has successfully removed a big chunk of your brain. Such poor use of grammar and vocabulary is more suited to, lets say, an Indian H1-holding software engineer living in New Jersey1.
  5. When I saw the photograph, which is an irrefutable proof of the veracity of this rampaging operation, I almost sent all the details you had asked for, before I realized that the rampager in the picture is some Lt. King. That is very naughty of you Sgt. Hill, unless you go as Lt. King during daytime.
  6. I am touched that you might consider me as a partner. Your God knows how much have I desired a partner, preferably of the opposite gender.
  7. Another singular observation, which makes it plural now, is that your family doctor possesses a rediffmail address. I expected something better, or more 'British'. Atleast a yahoo.co.uk.
So until I get these doubts cleared, my dear Sgt. Hill/Lt. King, I will keep my details and my initial monetary contribution (which, no doubt, you will ask for later) to myself.

Have fun fighting the Iraqis, and carry on with the rampaging,

1 To all my desi friends in Jersey, please to be forgiving me for my remark. A thousand apologies to you. Thank you! come again!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cynicism shall take a back seat for a moment

Crime, poverty, corruption and illiteracy in the country will be overlooked for a short while, as I get off my arm-chair and savour the World Cup victory. The cup of rants shall overflow again after a few days when either of these things happen (its only a matter of time):

  1. A dumbass politician goes overboard and says that Rama was indeed an engineering student, but only managed to pass after copying from Bharat, and a lot of supplimentaries.
  2. A dumbass Hindu organization or self-appointed guardian of "Hinduism" issues a fatwa, ordering that the above mentioned politician be impaled.
  3. The corals in the Gulf of Mannar, sick of all this brouhaha, shift camp to Mauritius.
  4. The Blueline bus daily accidental death toll reaches two digits.
For now, I cannot make myself think pessimistically, so signing off on a high.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Return of the obnoxious posts

Delhi (Sep 5): It is that part of the year again, when I transform from an obnoxious blogger to a completely insufferable one. Yes, the marathon season is going to start from October, and I am so excited that I cannot keep my pants on (shorts are better obviously). So from now on, expect some completely boring-ass posts sprinkled with paeans of the marathon and some unavoidable narcissism.

This posts contains some details about the races, how to prepare for them, some checklists, dos and donts etc.

Marathon calendar

The tentative calendar looks like the following. Bear in mind that Indian marathon organizers have a pathetic track record when it comes to scheduling races. So double check each race yourself before making any plans:

  1. Hutch Delhi Half Marathon: Delhi, 28 Oct 2007
  2. Singapore Marathon: Singapore, 2 Dec 2007
  3. Shady Half Marathon: Delhi, 9 Dec 2007
  4. Bangalore Ultra Marathon: Bangalore, 16 Dec 2007
  5. Standard Chartered Marathon: Mumbai, 20 Jan 2008
  6. Shady Half Marathon: Delhi, 17 Feb 2008
A few points here:
(a) The distances in the Bangalore Ultra Marathon include 25km, 50km and 80kms.
(b) The 'Shady' half marathon in Delhi is called so because it is horribly organized. This year's episode was supposed to happen in Feb but got delayed to December 9th.
(c) The last I heard, there is another marathon on 28 Oct, in Hyderabad. Sheer scheduling genius!

Who wants to be a marathon runner?

There is only one rule of thumb. If I can run, then so can anyone. You just have to follow a good training schedule. There are some really good training routines on the web (e.g. here and here). They have separate ones for first timers, intermediate and advanced runners.

Unless you go to a high class public gym, there is a fat chance of any girl watching you train and being impressed by you. So do not try to show off by running too much in a single day. Take your stretching and rest days very seriously. After each run (small or big), do not forget to do atleast 5-10 minutes of stretching. I will not say more on this subject because I am myself just three marathons old, and there is plenty of material available on the web anyway.

The gear

This cannot be stressed enough. Running gear can make a marathon a comfortable smooth sailing experience or a living nightmare. If you are a first timer, then a fair amount of shopping is in the offing, so bear the following in mind:
  1. Running shoes. This one is a mystery to me as I myself am yet to find the perfect pair of running shoes. The so-called running shoes available for 5-7K at premium outlets do not guarantee a comfortable run. In general, the shoe must be very light, have a small surface area at the sole (for a snug grip and to avoid the 'flip-flop' behavior) and should 'breathe' for the foot. A normal pair of walking shoes, or tennis/basketball shoes is a strict no-no. A seemingly inocuous pair of generic sports shoes can cause physical problems like the Ilio Tibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), which affects the side of the knee. I had this problem with a pair of seemingly harmless sports shoes, and it is really painful. Also, do not run the marathon with a brand new pair of shoes that have hardly been used. They will cause blisters, and you never know how the shoes are gonna turn out, so it is better to play it safe. Further, do not borrow someone else's pair of perfect running shoes unless you are their identical twin with exactly the same foot structure.
  2. Wear a jockstrap while training as well as in the race. Enough said.
  3. Get a pair of shorts that have a netting inside. This will help in avoiding thigh chafing. So unless you want to walk like a prison inmate who has been dropping bars of soap in the bathroom, do protect your inner thighs. Chafing is very minor or absent during short runs like 6-8 kms, but is inevitable during 21kms, so don't forget it while you do your shopping! It is also important that the fabric does not stick to you while running. Most of the sport shorts do ok in this regard. And for the love of God, do not consider wearing biker shorts while running. They have a slight padding that is meant to help while sitting on a bike, but is uncomfortable while running/walking.
  4. T-Shirts are always underrated. Wear one that is not loose or tight. A bad t-shirt can cause extremely painful chafing at the nipples, and can cause them to bleed too. Yes, this is true for both men and women. Again, the fabric must be non-sticky (I will be the first to buy teflon coated t-shirts).

Checklist (before the race)

  1. From 2-3 days before the race, start eating meals with high starch/carbohydrate content. This will be stored in the body, and will be very useful during the race. Preferred meals include rice and pasta.
  2. All races start around 6am, so get your sleep cycle in place atleast a week before that. No one wants to see a sorry-ass figure sleeping at the 5km mark.
  3. Buy an anti-chafing cream. If possible, carry a small amount with you during the race. I myself haven't ever used a cream, but the grapevine says that Nivea works ok, and lasts longer than vaseline.
  4. Get an iPod.
  5. If you do not become self-conscious unlike me, get a wrist band to wipe off the sweat from the forehead, or wear a bandana.
During the race
  1. Do not eat on the morning of the race. Have a glass of water around an hour before the race, and at the most have half a banana or 3-4 biscuits.
  2. Around half an hour before the race, do visit the bathroom. Yes there are urinals along the track, but you don't want to break your rhythm now do you?
  3. Apply some of the anti-chafing cream to the chafing prone areas. Alternatively, put some bandages. All you want is that there should be minimal contact between the fabric and the skin.
  4. Do not try to match someone else's speed. This is a standard error made by almost all first-timers. They see a girl or an uncle running faster than them, and their ego takes a hit. Run at your optimal pace, and do not deviate from that. You want to finish the race on two limbs, not four.
  5. Drink just the right amount of water. Here is a loose rule of thumb. Each drink should not be more than 100-150ml. Have the first drink around the 5-7km mark. After that, have a drink after every 2-3 kms. The races also provide free Electral. Drinking that is a must. Try to take 3-4 Electral drinks during the race. It can work wonders. Just as dehydration can cause severe problems (you might faint or do worse), overhydration can cause bad cramps too. Overhydration is common mistake among rookies, and I too made it. It happens when runners take a drink at almost every kilometer mark.
  6. Do not walk. If you are tired, then reduce the pace but never walk. It is mentally difficult to start jogging again once you are walking.
  7. Be aware that the "wall" will strike you around the 14-15km mark. It happens to me everytime. You feel like sitting down, or walking, or abandoning the race altogether. It is a combined physical-mental state when you despair that the end is still 6-7 kms away. Just go on, and once you see the 19km mark, you will feel rejuvenated!
  8. Do not forget to stretch for atleast 10-20 minutes after the race unless you want to be bedridden for the next two days.
Phew! Thats it for now. If I missed out on any crucial details, please leave a comment and I will include it. Ofcourse the most important thing is that a race well run is an extremely enjoyable experience. That said, good luck training, and good luck in the races!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Share Khan or Sheer Wimp?

I would like to bring to the readers' notice, a glaring example of misconduct shown by the stock broker company Share Khan. This happened to my father, who frequently buys and sells stock through such brokers. I will fill in the complete details later, as soon as I get them from my dad. Here is what happened:

1. My parents live in Gorakhpur, where my father is posted as the manager of the city branch of a nationalized bank. Share Khan insisted that my father open an account with them, which he did. This account can be monitored online.

2. Whenever the customer wishes to buy/sell shares, he just calls up the company's local office/agent who then follows up with the request. Companies like IndiaBulls and Karvy call up the customer on the same evening to confirm the transactions. A written confirmation arrives 2-3 days later. This minimizes the need for online confirmation. However, Share Khan does not make either telephonic or written confirmations.

3. Since my father is not used to checking his account daily, he usually checks it online every 3-4 days or so. Around a month after he had opened his account, on July 6th he saw an unauthorized transaction worth approximately Rs. 2 lakhs, that had taken place on 3rd July. My father immediately called up the local office and he was assured that it would be redressed.

4. To his horror, my father realized during subsequent days that there were more unauthorized transactions on 9th, 10th, 12th, 16th and 17th July. Some of those days saw as much as Rs 15 lakh worth of unauthorized transactions. In all, the total unauthorized amount transacted was more than Rs 50 lakh rupees. Here I would like to clarify that:
a) My father was unaware of these subsequent transctions because these were logged online after a huge gap of around 8-9 days after the actual transaction had taken place. This kind of lag in logging financial transactions is totally unheard of, as the other companies log their transactions by the end of the day.
b) Even after my father's complaint after the first transaction, the agent incharge of the account was not taken off the account (let alone fired). He was operating for atleast three more days.

5. Finally on 20th, my dad met the marketing guy who had opened the account. He claimed that the invested stocks were showing a loss of Rs 20,000. If my father would bear half of that, the rest would be born jointly by the staff at Gorakhpur. After giving this ridiculous option, he went on to say that he would only be able to contribute his part on 1st August when he gets his salary. My father then emailed the head-office about the whole matter.

6. The head-office asked an officer from Lucknow to look into it. The guy, however, came and went without meeting my father inspite of an appointment. Later, an officer from Delhi came to Gorakhpur twice but the visits were fruitless. On his second visit, he could not spare any time to meet my father and discuss the issue.

7. My dad then met the local manager, who was ordered by the head office to deal with the issue. He said that the invested stocks were showing a loss of around Rs 87,000 rather than Rs 20,000 as mentioned before. He said that the company was willing to pitch in around Rs 50,000 and dad would have to "bear" the rest of the loss. The manager used an emotional crutch, saying that otherwise he himself would have to pay Rs 37,000 from his pocket, which is obviously a huge drain on a middle class person like himself. He forgot that my dad is also a middle class salaried person, who is suffering for no fault of his.

8. The agent incharge (Alok) was sacked from his job. He then called up my dad, requesting him to take his complaint back so that he can return to his job (what naivety!) When his requests failed, he asked his father to call up my dad on his behalf. The father began with apologies, and ended with saying "baad mein mat bolna ki warn nahi kiya" (Don't crib later that I didn't warn you). There is hardly anything you can say to a person like that. Later on, the editor of a local newspaper called up my dad, requesting to withdraw the complaint. He too, ended the conversation on a similar note. By this time, my parents were apprehensive, especially considering that they are in a mafia-ridden place like Gorakhpur.

9. Since 20th July, my father had written emails to the head office of Share Khan, complaining about the inaction, and did not got a single written response. At first he used to get phone calls to the tune of "we are looking into it", but one fine day, he got a call saying "aapko itni jaldi kya hai? roz email kar dete ho" (What's the big hurry? Why are you emailing everyday?). The SoB who said this probably hasn't ever been asked to recoup someone else's losses to the tune of Rs 87,000.

This is where matters stand now. At this point, our options are:
1. To go to the police and the court. This is our last resort because:
a) Any court case will be held in Bombay.
b) The case might drag on and we might have to spend a fortune paying the lawyers.

2. Contact a watchdog agency or some knowledgeable authority like Sucheta Dalal. We are in the process of doing this right now.

As a side note, I am told that unauthorized transactions are the norm in the industry, although at a much smaller scale. The agent incharge of my dad's account most probably made some initial losses, and to recover them, he made further and bigger unauthorized transactions. But why make unauthorized transactions in the first place? I suspect (although Share Khan haven't confirmed it), that the agents are paid commission on a per transaction or profit basis. I wonder why there are no checks in place.

I hope this serves as a wakeup call to all of you who are blissfully unaware of the shady dealings of such private companies.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Blogger searches for "The Spirit of Mumbai", finds slush instead

(Note: The continuation of the caste-system post shall be done at a later date. Right now we have an all-important breaking news at hand.)

BOMBAY (2nd Aug):
In what appears to be a tragedy of gigantic proportions, local blogger Rahul Gupta reports that he failed to find the Spirit of Mumbai during the recent 4-day downpour in the city. Sitting on an ambulance stretcher marked "FBI", wrapped in a blanket and sipping coffee, the blogger recounts his horrifying ordeal during those four gut-wrenchingly cruel days in the city:

It had rained almost continuously on the first day and all my laundry was far from being dry. This was a huge problem for me because of the acute shortage of dry underwear. Luckily for me, I was in the city with an indomitable spirit. Or so I thought. I went to my neighbour's house, said hi to him for probably the first time in my life, and poured my saga on him. However, my polite request for a clean pair of boxers was denied with extreme prejudice. That was a jolt out of the blue. I should have sensed something was amiss with Mumbaikars that morning. I mean, people just do not deny such a request, do they?

However, still undaunted and forced to be unfettered, I set out for my daily 15-minute journey to Powai. However, as soon as I reached the road, my worst nightmares came true. Water on the road was atleast 1cm deep and would have drowned my little toe, had I not worn my sneakers. But if 26 July has taught us something, it is the awesome concept of "human chains". Brimming with positive attitude, I beckoned some passers-by to make a human chain and help each get across the 4 metre wide road. "Leave no man behind, Goddamnit!" was my motto. Strangely, people started giving me weird looks. They looked like they would rather risk their lives in toe-deep water than form a human-chain. This photo shows a bunch of kids living on the edge, without a chain, as water surges to toe-deep levels. And I despaired. It was like I didn't even know this city anymore.

I counted each passing hour of these monsoon-filled days, alienated from all of these so-called Mumbaikars. On the fourth day of the torrential rains, I went to the market to have my lunch -- Vada Pao (ordering Pao is compulsory here. Many a times I have had Paneer Tikka with Pao). As I passed some buildings, I couldn't help but notice the plight of the ground floor residents. Sure, the water was low right now, but what about two days from now? This rekindled my spirit, and I tried to reach out to my ground floor neighbours. I volunteered to give them a room in my apartment and also offered them my services in moving their valuables to my house. Both the girls refused. Again, with extreme prejudice.

All this was days ago, and I am still battling depression. Where has the spirit gone? Where is the faith? I cry myself to sleep everyday, thinking about these questions.

And so ends the account of the blogger. This blog wishes to state that the blogger is in good spirit now, although he still winces when the dreaded 3-word phrase is uttered in his vicinity. With his mood upbeat, the blogger wishes to go to Delhi in the near futue and perpetuate the "Dil waalo ki Delhi" legend that he so firmly believes in.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The real reason behind the caste system

The forefathers had it right. I am talking, of course, about YOUR forefathers who were busy expanding the Indus Valley Civilization, and not mine who were busy trying not to fall off their horses while riding from Central Asia to Harappa. The former did it right by dividing the populace into four sections or castes, although it can be debated that Aldous Huxley had that idea first, as described in the Brave New World. But for the time being, we will assume that the forefathers had not read this book, having passed it off as yet another piece of literary trash from the decadent West.

The Vedas tell us the story of why the people were divided into these sections. However, I always had this lingering doubt about how easy and simple that description was. After dedicating myself to seconds and minutes of deep research, I think I am ready to claim my fifteen minutes of fame by unmasking the real reason behind the caste system. And the real reason, ladies and gentlemen hold your breath, is --- Chicks. Sigh! yes, even in the ancient times, they were the root cause of all problems. And to understand how, let us look at the four castes separately.

  1. The so-called Shudras. These guys were freaking hot! They were the plumbers, auto-mechanics, electricians, telephone-repairmen and cable TV installers of that era. It was no surprise that they developed bulging muscles, taut bodies and glowing tans that would make David Hasselhoff wear a skirt in shame. Obviously, chicks used to dig these alpha males and the Brahmins tried to bury them back. And we all know how the rest of the guys feel when one of us lands a bombshell as a girlfriend. So, these poor chaps were perenially persecuted by the rest of the society.
  2. The Vaishyas. These were the wannabe Shudras. However, their bodies paled in comparison because they were averse to physical labour, and they had no tan to show off. One thing that they had, however, was brains. I say this with great objectivity and not because I am supposedly a Vaishya myself. And so, these guys had wisely discovered that the only way to get chicks was to be good at making money. They were the Wall Street types, with trophy wives, club memberships and tickets to the Derbies. The rest of the chaps hated them as much then as we do now when we see a gorgeous babe with an orang-utang. Such girls were not highly regarded either, being referred to as a Vaishyaa (one who puts out for a Vaishya). Even now, this term causes girls to wince and guys to queue up outside the door.
  3. The Kshatriyas. Awarded with neither brains nor brawn, these chaps resorted to arms and violence. Resorting to bride-napping and multiple marriages, they made sure that their surnames survived. Nowadays we see them driving convertibles (physical inadequacy anyone?) and joining the Navy, at sea for ten months and beating jack-rabbits at their own game in the remaining two. They became the gun-toting, ever fighting warriors of that age. The term Kshatriya has its origins in the word Chattri, which is Hindi for umbrella, then used as a weapon to poke at Vaishyas and Shudras. Later on, Chattri became a synonym for the condom, which again, is a weapon of mass destruction when not used. Coincidence? I think not. So point is that these chappies dealt with weapons throughout their lives. And it did not help their frayed nerves that they had to explain to everyone that the "K" in Kshatriya was silent.
  4. The Brahmins. I will be blunt. These guys had absolutely no way to get laid. They had neither the muscles, nor the brains and Kshatriyas had called first dibs on arms. Consequently, these poor blokes did what anyone else in their position would have done --- pray like hell to the Lord. However, fate was never in their favour. It turned out that their Lord was Brahma, who because of all the prayers, developed a hard-on for these guys. Hence the name Brahmin (Brahma's-"men"). So, striking out in all directions, and being pursued by Brahma from above, these guys went into depression. They resorted to gluttony and thus were able to maintain a body weight atleast six times their age. Pot-bellies came into fashion and wrinkles were hidden behind layers of tilak. Some of them became ballistic and resorted to arson and pyrotechnics. Ofcourse, those were called yagyas at that time, which also doubled up as rave parties of the era. There was no respite for these guys, and ultimately most of them were forced into becoming life-long bachelors, a not-so-voluntary practice then known as Brahmcharya. Legend goes that every one out of hundred of these Brahmcharya-practitioners were awarded with a belly-dancer (locally known as Apsara), and 1/100 were better odds than what the rest of the Brahmins suffered.
To conclude, I hope that I have convinced you of this theory, with ample examples and proofs littered all over this post. This theory also explains various traits and practices of that society as we know them. In my next post, I will propose a new caste system, one that is representative of our times.

Acknowledgements: This research was supported by Kingfisher, who supplied beer cans, Pepe Lopez, who supplied tequila, and Samsung who provided the refridgeration.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Finally, some update

Yes, I am alive. Thank you, thank you all (*waits for the ovation to die down). Now shut up and read. I have been in the US for the past few days for a conference (my annual pilgrimage). It is my bread-and-butter conference, so I had to go all the way to Oregon, to a town called Corvallis. The town's claim to fame is that it has no airport, so the journey here is quite a voyage. But enough about the town. I really have nothing to say today (as if I always do), so here are some ramblings:

a) It took me almost 24 hours to reach here and on reaching, all I wanted was someone to bang me on the head with a hammer and liberate me from this world. Now, after sitting through almost 35 presentations in two and a half days, I feel the same way.

b) I will never ever try to make a lame joke while making a presentation. Yes, you guessed it right, I made a stupid joke and only a few laughed. Rule of thumb is that if want to get people to laugh at your stupid utterances, you better be in MIT or Berkeley.

c) I really need to stop watching South Park. Now whenever I see a Chinese guy facing me, all I think is that he is about to say "Werrcome to Shitty Wok, take your order pree?"

d) Bubble baths are gay, but DAMN! they sure feel good.

e) By Murphy's Law, the most interesting papers are the ones presented by Chinese/Japanese presenters. So I cannot understand a thing beyond "Let x be a data point". And after the talk I get this urge to go eat a Momo/Sushi (see (c))

f) It is difficult to concentrate on the conference when the volunteers and catering staff are gorgeous. Conference organizers should make sure that the support staff is as ugly as the conference participants.

Now I gotta go checkout the news about how the motherland is doing while I am gone. But first, I gotta eat some noodles.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Blogger astounds self with borderline gay stuff

DELHI (21 May): Area blogger Rahul Gupta is in the news once more, again for the wrong reasons. Reports indicate that he has surprised himself by doing some stuff, which in his own mature words are "gay or something".

Readers must be aware that after exhausting all avenues for shelter, he was forced to move alone in a new house last month. The last bastion of singledom, he was tired of giving people his magic Midas touch time and again, so a sentence of solitary confinement was gladly implemented by him. However, what happened next was amazingly horrifying. In an act of unprecented maturity, he bought carpets for his house, not one but three, along with more than a dozen curtains. Previously used to a spartan lifestyle, he finally decided to enjoy the feel of a rug beneath his feet. Eyewitnesses went on record with his ancient remarks to the effect that "Shopping for carpets and drapes is an activity best performed by women and their gay friends. No man worth his salt would be caught dead in a carpet emporium". It is reported that the sight of three well-laid out carpets brings tears of happiness to his eyes every single time he wakes up.

In another supposed blow to his manhood, he then went ahead and got a gas connection -- lock stock and a smoking cylinder. In his previous avatar, he had unilaterally declared that cooking or attempting to cook is an activity best left to moms and bais. Not only did he get a connection, but he was spotted buying more than five kinds of dals and bargaining with the utensils salesman, in a style reminiscent of the 80's when mothers used to barter old clothes for a new cooker. We are not sure if the blogger paid for his stuff using his t-shirt and jeans.

However, in a decisive blow to the last remnants of his testosterone, against all counsels he ventured inside the forbidden zone. The place which is more feminine than even a lingerie shop. Yes, you guessed it right. We are talking, ofcourse, of the place that sells sofa pillows. Those little square cushions whose purpose on earth is more futile than, say, an HR department's . Till now, the blogger had had a love hate relationship with these pillows from hetero-hell. However, yesterday, no less than five people spotted him taking a 'feel' of the pillows by gently brushing them with his fingers. He finally purchased three of them, but only after loudly declaring that he is buying them "only for smooth comfort which the back desperately needs". Three innocent bystanders who saw through his lies were instantly struck with nausea.

Subsequent manly activities of buying a wireless router, an iPod FM transmitter and gulping a few beers were too late and weak to undo the irreversible damage caused by the shopping mania.

As his friends continue to taunt him to "grow a pair", the blogger indicates that further damage to his machismo is expected in the near future, as he contemplates the purchase of a few coasters to save his furniture from beverage-induced condensation.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Ten million, and I was the fastest?

DELHI (Apr 30) Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the chronicles of one of the nation's supposedly crème de la crème.

This guy, India's hope, is trying to use his dashing new washing machine for the second time. All is hunky dory, the wash-cycle is on, only 38 minutes remain, the dude eats his dinner in peace, and waits for the washing to finish.

Only it doesn't. A trip to the machine reveals that it is stuck at 22 minutes and the rinse cycle is desperately trying to start. The spin cycle which comes after it has no chance in heaven. Totally flummoxed, the dude opens the lid and surveys the scene. Two seconds after watching the filthy goo floating around the tub, it strikes him. All his clothing posessions are in that tub, and if the #@%!@#$## machine doesn't resume, then his idea of Casual Tuesdays will become a tad more than just an idea.

Desperate, he tries Plan A, also known as the Microsoft Windows Plan. It involves switching the machine on and off rapidly enough to beat the living daylights out of the poor microchip but not fast enough to actually cause a meltdown. Just like Microsoft Windows, the plan doesn't work.

Switching to Plan B, he tries the mechanical way of things. That of physically knudging the tub clockwise to incite it to rotate. A gentle, and later, a harder nudge on the side is also added as an extra bit of measure. The tub, however, has other plans, mostly involving cosying up to the electric motor and spending quiet quality time of stillness amidst all the washing frenzy. Beads of nervous perspiration quietly form on the dude's forehead.

The time comes for Plan C. This mostly involves reading the manual (or RTFM as we comp geeks call it). Now real men never read the manual. Infact real men would rather sever their reproductive organs and neatly wrap them in cellophane than read the manual. The first thing that real men do when they buy an appliance is to roll joints from the manual's paper. But obviously real men haven't ever been forced in an only-baniyan-and-shorts-to-wear situation. So dude searches for the manual, only to discover that the manual is at a friend's house. Panic starts settling in, as even the internet refuses to locate an online manual. It is 10:45pm and uneasiness grips the dude, and understandably, he feels the need to use the restroom.

Plan D is now employed. It is not so much as a plan, rather a ritual. Consisting mostly of cuss words, about how this Indian nation can't prosper if they make crappy machines like these, and how LG sucks bigtime, and how he's gonna stick it to those lousy customer reps and service engineers, and how the dealer is gonna get more than an earful. The censor has a hard time bleeping out the diatribe. Totally exhausted after this verbal diarrhoea, the foolproof Plan E is now rolled into action.

That of physically transferring the clothes to a bucket and rinsing them manually. Totally shattered, the dude starts his ordeal and manages to clean all but one piece of cloth in a seemingly endless stretch of 20 minutes so far. It is then that he realizes that the drain pipe of the machine is still hooked vertically up instead of lying down by the drain.

Mixed feelings of euphoria, relief, shame, and anger rush in instantly. The Hindi phrase kaato-to-khoon-nahi seems apt for the situation. The drain pipe is unhooked, the cycle finishes, the machine beeps gleefully and everything is silent once more. Everything. Except the shattering of the pride.

Tomorrow I shall shave with Occam's razor.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The New Jersey Turnpike

[Warning: Not for those who are afraid of turnpikes, or for that matter, footnotes]

DELHI (Apr 12):
Us citizens, tourists and expats living in this allegedly great nation have to ask this question once and for all: Do we have to report every lame-wad news such as this?

Now I have read the news that I trashed, and evidently managing the New Jersey Turnpike is a big thing. So, I will no longer trash the above mentioned news item, and instead recount what happened to be the eighteenth most memorable incident in my life 1.

It so happened that during the last fourth of July weekend, I found myself in the New York City area. In the past, I have found myself explaining my driving to a cop, sharing a bed with a fellow friend, programming on a calculator or doing something equally disgusting, but this was different. I was in the US for a conference and halted in NYC at a friend's place. Well technically it was across the river in New Jersey, but thats one tinsy tidbit the East Coast NRIs conveniently forget to mention in their tourist brochures.

Another one of my friend was driving alone from Toronto, little knowing that he would initiate a ghastly sequence of events in the hours to come2. Being a true follower of Murphy's Law, he covered 485 miles out of 500 without any glitch, making only one stop on the way -- to buy an adult diaper. It was at the crucial mile no. 485, that he decided that he was lost 'somewhere around the Alexander Hamilton Service Station' and called us to come pick him up. Now that was a wise thing to do (calling us, not getting lost), and one would assume that a rescue mission would be trivial. Well, one would assume wrong.

My NYC New Jersey friend and I took a cab and left for the fateful Alexander Hamilton Service Station (AHSS). After driving for 20 minutes, we realized that the Hispanic cabbie knew more about rap music (which was blaring loudly in our ears throughout)3 than the AHSS. Ofcourse, his prison tattoos and his 300 pound physique precluded any questions from our side. We figured that a guy like him would never need to go to a service station, he would just lift the car with one hand, look underneath the chassis and repair the fault with the other hand4.

So we reached the famous turnpike and saw a deadly sight. That of a zombie black African-American tollbooth operator waiting to pounce on us and rip our kidneys apart unless we paid the 1$ toll. After the driver duly paid the toll 5 and crossed over, he realized that he had come the wrong way. Two miles and a U-turn later, we paid the toll again, and precisely six minutes later, we landed at the exact tollbooth again, manned by the same operator from hell. Unfortunately, this was not our last rendezvous with the tollbooth, and like a toll-addict, we made six more stops at the exact same booth. The operator had begun to wonder if we wanted to ask him out but were too shy to ask. If anyone was watching from above, s/he would think that we were doing F1 laps, except that our Ford model cab was so dilapidated that even Henry Ford himself would have felt ashamed to step into it.

Meanwhile, our Canadian friend had called up a gazillion times asking for our status, liberally sprinkling his queries with the four letter word. So after swallowing his burrito and then his ego, the cabbie finally decided to ask a local for directions. Only that it was around midnight, and the local turned out to be a 60-year old African-American6 crack addict, and the neighborhood turned out to be a ghetto. I mentally prepared to ask the question -- "If you don't shoot or mug me or try to sell me crack, can I ask you where the AHSS is?", but luckily our cabbie did the honours -- by furiously banging on the crackhead's car and asking "YO!! 'SSUP? Y'ALL KNOW WHERE THE ALEXANDER HAMILTON STATION IS??". The dude pointed us towards the direction, and we drove off before he could ask us for any spare change.

All was finally well, we picked up our friend one hour after we had promised we would, and as a reward we got our butts kicked and got to eat his prized leftover chips. And for old times sake, we took the NJ Turnpike on the way back and paid a 1$ toll for, what I hope, the last time in my life.

1 As an ex-IITian, I reserve the right to publish a highly mediocre book about my top ten, so don't wait up for me to blog about them. The title of the book will be on the lines of "Anything for a night with five point something ma'am at a call center", so something equally risque.

2 Eight hours to be precise. He passed time via eating chips and refueling his car. Or did his car pass time by gorging on Lays and feeding him gasoline? I really cannot recall.

3 Thanks to rap music, I realized that every girl in New Jersey is a bitch or a ho'.

4 All the while eating a burrito. Yes, we believe in racial stereotyping. I have personally taken a 2-week stereotyping course.

5 For some reason, he had a roll of 1$ bills. We thought he was taking us to a stripclub containing some of them bitches and ho's.

6 Well la di da! I feel so politically correct now.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What makes you sicker?

[Warning: No humor, only rant. Read at your own risk.]

India's pre-mature exit from the World Cup? Or the thousands of post-mortem analyses written by nincompoops with access to a keyboard?

For me, it is the latter and in this post, I shall strive to join the abovesaid thousand idiots, but not by posting a why-I-think-India-lost. As an engineer, I know the fallacies in making a judgement from a handful of data (two losses). And frankly speaking, I watch cricket with the naivety of a three year old child. I have no idea what a green grassy pitch implies. I have no clue how reverse swing works (although I have read about it a couple of times, and I keep forgetting), and frankly I do not break any sweat over my ignorance of the technical aspects of the game. There! I said it.

What I do not understand is this: When India lost a series each to Sri Lanka and West Indies, and badly I might add, there were no such inane analyses. India lost four out of five games against West Indies, there is a lot you can say about the teams and their shortcomings based on this data. Now India lost one game apiece to two different teams, and suddenly every self-appointed know-it-all jerk in the nation seems to have a rock solid theory about what exactly the pain points were, based on only two games.

I am no fan of the Indian coach, or that idiot who has overstayed his welcome in the team (Sachin), but calling for their heads is totally uncalled for, based on these two games. We played, and we were outplayed on both the occasions. Get over it already! Why do we find it so hard to accept that one side has to lose, and unless we are not careful, that side will be ours. Thats all there is to it. Atleast for me, that seems to be simplest explanation.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Rat's behind and city rankings

[Warning: Longish Post. Sorry rahega.]

BOMBAY (12 Mar) Living in Delhi for 9 years and in Bombay for almost 2 has made me an expert in the hot emerging area of "city-comparison", according to people. Everywhere I go, I am swarmed with hordes of strangers who think that asking a Delhi vs Bombay question is a helluva icebreaker, which is really good because otherwise they would ask embarassing questions like "Is your wife in Bombay too?" (No such entity), and "How is your PhD?" (Excruciatingly slow). This post is dedicated to such noble creatures. I present some sample conversations; the dialogues marked "Them" are real, and the ones marked "Me" are the ones I would have really liked to make:

Them: Wow! Bombay eh? City of dreams? Bollywood-Shollywood eh? How many film stars have you seen?
Me: Oh I see them all the time. Living in an IIT hostel sure has its perks you see. My next door neighbour is Abhishek Bachchan, and I can hear him making threatening phone calls to the tree that Aishwarya married.
Them: Oh stop kidding! So tell me, have you witnessed any gangster shootouts there?
Me: Yes why not. I moonlight as a country liquor merchant in Dharavi and have shot a few non-paying customers myself. Ram Gopal Varma is dead-right about this gangster thingie. Everyone in Bombay is shooting either a film or a fellow gangster. Infact, Mumbai police provides every resident
with a revolver for self-defense.
Them: So how do you find Bombay as compared to Delhi?
Me: I will mail you a 500-word laminated report, so you can read my expert opinions at your leisure.

Me: ...
Them: Balle Balle ummmm.
Me: I am waiting for the question.
Them: Oh I thought you are a Punjabi, aren't you?
Me: Yes, all Delhites are required by law to be Punjabi. Infact people from any other races are shot on sight. I, however, have Haryanvi roots.
Them: Still, its the same thing na?
Me: Yes, as interchangeable as Gujju and Marathi.
Them: I see. So you must have found Bombay culturally very....whats the word for it...different. Isn't it?
Me: Yes, at first I couldn't put my finger on it, but after a few months, I realized that I am in a different city.

Them: Yaar, Bombay girls are very easy going na? I mean not like these god-awful Delhi girls.
Me: My easy academic life has given me plenty of chances to talk to plenty of girls (three in all). One of them switched teams after talking to me, another one put her matrimonial plans on the fast track, and the third one refused to return my calls. So I have no conclusions.
Them: No, but its true na that Bombay girls don't refuse if you ask them for a dance, they flirt back, and are generally looking for a "good time". (This is usually accompanied by a wink, or if I am lucky, a nudge in the elbow, or both.)
Me: Well I don't know about that because I am usually denied stag entry in the clubs and paying a hefty cover charge is against my second principle. (My first principle is that a beer-night should never go by sober). And I think if I try to flirt with a girl, she will most probably interpret it as the initiation of a possible molestation.
Them: So how would you rate the girls in the two cities?
Me: You are not listening. My policy is that be it Delhi or Bombay, I don't bug the girls and they don't bug me. Until the time for marriage comes, when I will choose exactly one girl to bug for the rest of her life (or mine, whichever is shorter).

Them: Cool man! You live in Delhi. There are a lot of parks and stuff na?
Me: Yes, every house has a lawn, including my first floor flat.
Them: And there are a lot of cars too, right?
Me: Yes, Delhi is trying to beat Los Angeles in the cars per capita metric.
Them: And wide roads too!
Me: Sure that too. All roads in Delhi, including the bylanes and services lanes are twice the width of the Western Express Highway. And all Santros and Zens that are sold in Delhi are as wide as an ATR airplane. We sure have it going on in Delhi.
Them: Yeah yeah! We Bombayites pay 1/3 of the taxes and you Delhites reap the benefits. Not fair!
Me: There are two ways to remove this disparity. Either Delhi pays as much tax as Bombay or vice versa. Which one do you think is more feasible?

In all fairness though, I would never have the guts to say all this, because like everyone, I too would hate to be beaten up. Frankly, for me, both the cities suck and rock equally. The "spirit of Mumbai" provides as much fodder for laughter as "dil waalo ki Delhi". Whats that you say? Bombay is safer for women, including at night? Well we are working towards correcting that pal. Everyday, hundreds of our brethren are descending in Bombay from exotic places like Etawah, Rohtak, Azamgarh, Munger and Darbhanga to cater to the eve-teasing needs of the women in Bombay.

So as far as the Delhi vs Bombay question is concerned, I will answer that as soon as I get my face out of the armpit of my co-passenger and get off this local. It will most probably be that I don't give a rat's behind.

I will leave you with a Bombay FAQ for now:

Q. When does a Bombay-man get an orgasm?
A. When he finds an empty seat on the Churchgate-Virar fast local during rush hour.

Q. How do you know where a particular Mumbai guy hails from?
A. Pick up a fight with him. If he yells at you continuously for 43 minutes, he is a Marathi. If he argues with you for 2 minutes and leaves for his office, he is a Gujju. If he bashes you up and gives you multiple fractures, he is a Sikh cab driver from Sion Koliwada. If he sends goons to beat you up, he is Bal Thackeray (a mutant sample of the Marathi population).

Q. What should I eat when I am in Bombay?
A. The food ordinance permits only Vada Pao and Dhokla. If tea must be partaken, it should be asked for in units of "cutting". Asking for just "ek chai" will make you look like a damn fool from Delhi.

Q. Why are Marathi food portions so small?
A. So that you have room for the main course -- Vada Pao and Dhokla.

Q. Can't I just drive to work everyday in Bombay?
A. Sure, if your office operates only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Q. REALLY!! Does it take ONE DAY to commute??
A. No. You will reach your office in three hours tops. But it will take you another fifteen to find a parking space.

Q. Where in Bombay, can I get, ummm..., you know, get physical with the ladies?
A. Try entering the ladies compartment of any local during rush hour. You will get more than you bargained for.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Anatomy of an Indian Bachelor Party - II

BOMBAY (Feb 22) This is the second installment of a two-part post on the tradition of the Great Indian Bachelor Party (BP).

Hmmm, so where were we? Yes, we, i.e. the friends of the soon to be ex-bachelor were ruing the fact that hiring strippers in India is not only illegal, but also impossible for mortal folks.

So the BP minus the lady starts like any other party on the block. One by one, the visitors start trickling in. The ones already inside the house look at the door in eager anticipation that somehow a stripper has been magically procured, while the ones entering (who bear no resemblance to a stripper I might add) invariably ask -- "Aw man! You guys didn't arrange for any ladies tonight!!" with the nonchalance that only pimps and dandies possess.

The rest of the night is planned out to consist of three major events --- raunchy music and dance, porno talk and last but not least, borderline homoerotica. The third event is often used as a substitute for strippers, and all objections and complaints against it are usually drowned in a pool of alcohol. Now, the chronological sequence of these three events is usually decided impromptu, judging by the "mood" of the party, but often it is also dictated by the loudest (and usually the most drunk) member of the group. For the sake of brevity, we shall call this member LM. Note that the identity of LM changes continuously with the passage of time and the drinks tray.

Now to get the mood started, some nice chap, may God curse his soul, plays such an item number that any man worth his testosterone would need atleast half a litre of alcohol to gyrate on it. Shining examples of such songs are -- Mera chain wain sab ujdaa (aka Kajra re), Chadhti jawani meri chaal mastaani, and Husn ke hazaar rang..kaunsa rang dekhoge. After fulfilling the minimum drink requirement for these songs, a bunch of guys hit the dance floor usually in the form of a central dancer aka the alpha male, who is surrounded on all sides by the "extras" aka the beta males who try to seduce the alpha male with their *hot* dance moves.

A word is in order about the dance moves here. These moves would never see the light of the day if it were not for these BPs. Mature sober men turn into orang-utangs, and the bold and naughty ones metamorphosize into a deadly mix of Amrish Puris and Gulshan Grovers. Random hands grab random waists, and cozy ballroom dancing ensues, periodically interrupted by lusty thumkas. Oodles of pot-belly flesh are paraded in public when a few banians are taken-off/ripped-off the dancers, initiated usually by the LM. In short, such choregraphic masterpieces are created that would make even Rakhi Sawant snort her ugly little nose with disgust. Ofcourse, like in every alcohol-aided dance party, there are people who take undue physical advantage of others, this time without paying any heed to the gender parity.

During this moment, all the fencesitters, who are trying to look casual by sipping gracefully on their drinks and making light banter, are secretly thinking -- "Shit! If I enter this dance-floor of death, I will definitely lose my virginity the wrong way tonight!". They resist all attempts by the alpha-beta male dancers to pull them into their midst, using excuses like "Aw its ok, I gotta get me a drink first" and "No you guys go ahead, you guys rock! Woohoooo!!", while the drunkard inviter goes "kjdgjkhag lmjf gjhh eqoiowe, kajra re! kajra re! mera kaale kaale naina!" twisting his not-so-supple waist the entire time.

I should state here that all efforts notwithstanding, by the end of the song and dance sequence, there is not a single soul in the group who hasn't been fondled and groped by his fellowmen. So, one way or the other, all the gropers and gropees are slightly tired at this time, which leads the party into Phase 2.

Phase Two deals with all the BP folks, having put their banians (or shreds thereof) back on, calmly resting around the TV set. A poll is now taken as to whether the time is ripe for doing a pondi-quiz or watching a pondi movie. Now we all know about pondi movies, don't we? So I won't say too much about them, except that watching a pondi movie with twenty other chaps is perhaps the sorriest sight ever! I will not discuss the pondi-quiz too, lest my blog is swarmed by sex-addicts and is perma-filtered by blogspot. But just to give you a brief idea, at the end of the quiz, one realizes that all his friends are perhaps the most perverted sickos to walk the planet, and hence, are perfect companions and equals.

Finally, after all this is over, enters the optional Phase Three. This is the deadliest phase of them all. It decides whether one will return home like a normal man (viz. more than half-dressed and with atmost 1 litre of alcohol inside), or like a naked homeless guy. For you see, this is the free-for-all phase, where one is allowed to do almost anything to anyone. And that includes dousing with alcohol (but not setting on fire, thats not cool), re-ripping the banians or even shorts, wrestling, and even doing stuff that is driven by hormones. I personally didn't have the misfortune to find out more about Phase Three, but I have seen pictures, and my life has never been the same again, to say the least.

This brings me to the end of the BP. I must admit now, that I have broken the first commandment of the BP, viz. you don't talk about BP. As a punishment, I might be murdered, or worse, cast as the alpha-male in the next BP. And to that I say:

The BPs are gruesome, cruel, and *beep*,
But I have many invitations to keep,
And thousands of banians to purchase before I sleep,
And thousands of banians to purchase before I sleep.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Anatomy of an Indian Bachelor Party - I

[Warning: Longish post. Will be posted in two installments]

BOMBAY (29 JAN): If you have a friend getting married and have been given the onerous burden of throwing a bachelor party for him, or if you are a non-Indian looking to mock us Indians, then look no further because the buck stops at this post.

The Bachelor Party (BP) is yet another Americanism that has been twisted and amalgamated into the Indian society, much like the Kadahi-Paneer Pizza and McAaloo-Tikki burgers. During the import of this noble concept, many of the aspects have been altered or dropped and new ones have been added to cater to the needs of the Indian males.

As a member of the elite group, who has attended one such party and missed two, I consider this as my duty to reproduce factual accounts of what actually happens behind closed doors in such scenarios.

The saga usually begins with discussions over beer (another priceless import), and two guys are nominated whose sole job is to generate excitement about the BP, about how good its going to be, and how anyone who doesn't attend the BP is such a loser that he shouldn't have come out of his mama's womb. You could say that they are almost, but not as good as, the Microsoft PR and Marketing professionals. Such guys are usually required to have a superficial knowledge of the black-ghetto vocabulary, and anyone who has lived in South Central Los Angeles or New York Harlem is a natural qualifier. You can expect these fine human beings to spout periodic utterances like "yo dawg! This parteh is gonna rock!" or "We gonna pimp tonight dude!" and so on.

By this time, people are so excited about the party that they start peeing their pants off, consequently causing an increase in the sales of Lee and Levis. Adult diapers have yet to take off in this country, it seems. Anyway, I digress, but the point is that by this time, every virgin in the group starts believing that this night is his night, and every veteran thinks that he is gonna have that elusive menage-a-trois for sure.

The next step involves planning the logistics, which in India means arranging for Old Monk, Royal Stag and Romanov, along with 10 kilos of namkeen and 5 kgs of Paneer Tikka. In the ten days leading to the BP, the drama increases exponentially, with lunch room banters, urinal conversations revolving about the party instead of "that hot new chick in HR, who, I am positive is giving me the eye".

However, as the days pass by, it becomes the duty of every guy in the group to moan about the fact that how not being able to hire strippers sucks. The virgins are usually the most vocal in voicing this complaint. This is usually followed by brainstorming session on "what to do now?".

The answer to this question varies from city to city. In Bombay, till last year, it meant going to a dance bar with a few wads of Rs 10 notes. In Delhi, it meant and still means going to the sole cabaret place in the city where it seems Rs 50 can buy you "Sharara Sharara" (a sleazy Indian song, admired by all desperadoes including married men). Yeah I know, it is not the same, but it is pretty much what you can do short of traveling in a cab adorned with blue-tubelights (Bombay), and driving past Connaught Place at night with the car windows rolled down (Delhi).

However, the BP organizers are an enterprising bunch. They are usually not bothered with trifling minor irritatants such as the lack of a stripper ruin it for them. Their 'improvisations', for the lack of a better word, will be described in the second part of the post. This, and much more, when we return after these messages.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I am alive

BOMBAY (Feb 7): No, all ye faithful readers of this blog, I am neither dead nor without an internet connection. I was and still am busy with a paper submission deadline. Sigh! the things that people do in the name of higher studies. In order to not lose my meagre readership, I thought of giving a not-so-brief update.

I turned 27 a couple of weeks ago, amidst considerable fanfare, sponsored by my partners in crime at IIT. A couple of eggs were gifted to me, in the hope that atleast one of them would find its way on top of my scalp, but my ninja moves ensured that it was not to be. Some highly unconventional gifts were received, including one that questioned my sexuality, but moi loved them all equally nonetheless. This was the first of the series of birthdays that I have officially decided to hate. Twenty seven, as it turns out, is on the wrong side of twenty five, especially for a single man suffering from hairloss.

In other personal news, I managed to finish the Mumbai marathon in a decent (for me) 2 hrs 14 mins and this is the last sentence I will write about it, lest you all tie me to a stake and burn me for this shameless piece of self-advertising.

Finally, an old undergrad friend of mine has started a blog. So if you came here looking for examples of good penmanship, then please proceed further. I, for one, am looking forward to discussing gay topics like HTML templates, comment moderation, lack of readers and low pagerank with him. Ofcourse mutual backscratching in the form of inter-blog comments with him is tacit.

PS: I had drafted the first half of a post on a topic, which I feel is spicy and cheap enough to attract comments. No wait, not just spicy, but TOI spicy. Something that the esteemed newspaper would be proud to carry on their front page. So please look out. And as usual, thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Blogger confesses to blogger's block

BOMBAY (Jan 10) I realized that for the past few months all my posts are about either half-marathons or passenger announcements on the Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi air route [We welcome you all to the Mumbai domestic airport blah blah]. Then I realized that this is nothing but an acute case of blogger's block. Ok ok, I admit that every living creature with an ounce of brain can write a blog, so why can't I?

And the answer, my great readers, is as follows. Over the past few days I have been thinking about a slew of earth-shattering topics and I cannot decide which one to pen down in a burst of my mediocrity. This impasse is intolerable and it is tearing me apart. So to do justice to all of them, here is a list of all the issues I had started writing about, but lost steam midway:

  1. The futility of the middle urinal in a men's toilet. I am a vociferous advocate of the island-urinal theory. The theory states that all urinals must be atleast 3 feet away from each other -- which makes each urinal like an island. Not only will this provide ample privacy to the users, but also help in avoiding the '505' situation [This happens when there are three urinals and there is a queue of five people each for the first and last urinals, with the middle one being unoccupied].
  2. How FBI solved the case of the mysterious gas in Manhattan. They finally attributed it to the BO of the hordes of desis living across the Hudson river in the Indian ghetto called Jersey City. Apparently it was so cold on 6th January, that all desis (only males mind you, females somehow manage a daily bath) decided to skip their shower and showed up at work in Manhattan armed with only a whiff of the Brut deodorant (Economy Pack).
  3. How India is fighting hard with Zimbabwe and Bangladesh for the 11th rank among the list of 12 cricket playing nations. And if the present Indian performances in West Indies, Champions Trophy and South Africa are any indicators, India would soon have to slug it out with Holland and Canada to even qualify in the World Cup.
  4. What on earth were the inventors/discoverers of beer and paneer thinking? The beer guy must have thought aloud -- "Umm let see, this drink totally sucks ass, but let me drink it another 10-12 times and see if it grows on me". And the paneer guy -- "Just for fun, let me add some lemon juice to this boiling milk and see what happens. Oooh! I get this amorphous stuff, let me try and give it some shape and eat it with peas and onions anyway".
  5. Short of a sex-change operation and wearing lipstick, what should I do to get as many comments as some of the female bloggers. Even if they sneeze, their "Aaachhoooo" gets a lot of insightful comments of the kind -- "LOL! That was a funny post", "ROFLLMAO! You have an amazing sense of humor. Any chance I can get you into bed now?", "Your sneeze has raised very important questions. The air pollution in this city has grown beyond the limits of tolerance. Let us hold a discussion in the comments section now" and my personal favourite -- "Your freedom to write such a sneeze post shows us all that we are indeed living in a free-market-libertarian-agnostic-left-leaning-right-twisting-moresuch-dumbass-buzzwords democracy."
So you see, my hyperactive brain has been thinking about all these problems that the world is riddled with. I just don't have the time and energy to put it down anymore. Maybe I will just outsource it all to one of them Chinese guys named Sean Wang or some such.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Farewell and hello

Its that time of the year again. With a heavy heart, I must say bye to a lot of things --- good food, my dhanno (i.e. Zen), the fog, fundoo winter with all its perks (garam chai, razaai), long drives. And say hello to vada pao, locals, the humidity, cold showers and long walks in the campus.

Delhi, here I go. Mumbai, here I come. If only for three months but what the heck!

Seems like Delhi has everything to offer, but then Mumbai has atleast that one admirable trait --- fundoo bindaas girls :) And suddenly everything seems worthwhile.

Hope to see most of you on 21st in the Mumbai Half Marathon.