Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Grim Fairy Tale; (with a happy ending)

There lives a princess in a land far far away. She is the apple of her family’s eye. Her entire family loves her a lot and are ready to go to any distance for her happiness. They fulfil her every wish and demand, and no matter how outrageous they sound, they are always fulfilled. She is a hit with the extended family and with the kids too. The kids flock to her, listen to her and follow her like puppies following their mother.

Once she reached marriageable age, her parents and family began the mission of their lifetime; finding a suitable match. Now, being the princess that she is, the top-most priority of her family was to find a match who is completely compatible with her and of her approval. No compromises on this ground. Hence began the most important assignment in the life of her parents. The family and acquaintances were notified and pretty soon 'bio-data' of prospects starting checking in. And these came in no small numbers. No sir, I kid you not. They were falling in by the dozens. The first level of screening was by the parents. If the prospect was able to clear this check-point, it was presented before the princess. Many of them, who passed the first level, were rejected with a mere flick of an eye-brow; some were so unlucky that they didn’t even get the flick of the eye-brow. They directly traversed from the parents’ hand to the dust-bin; and this just from the look on the princess’s face. Whoever was able to survive the parents’ screening and the princess’s approval, were called in for a meeting. Hence, many a Sundays were spent in this dreaded meeting, and no one dreaded it more than the princess’s brother. He disliked them because he had to be on his best behaviour, and secondly, because he would have to shave his stubble and also take a bath, and as usual I see that I have strayed from the story. So, where was I; yes; many a Sundays were spent is these meetings; sometimes more than one per Sunday. Most of them were not able to endure this arduous and distressing encounter. A handful of them did make it through, but then, at the next level they threw in the towel.

Finally, one prince did eventually make it through. He passed the parents approval, the approval nod of the princess and also managed to manage through the laborious and back-breaking assessments and also managed to get the princess’s consent for marriage. In this way, a match was found and the search was called off. The princess and the prince were engaged in a magnificent ceremony, befitting only a princess, with the whole kingdom witnessing it. Now began the second phase of the mission of a lifetime for the parents; planning and executing the marriage ceremony. This is no small feat. Yes, yes, I see you nodding you head in approval. The wedding ceremony was a full three months away. The princess was happy, her parents were happy and her brother was happy too (since he could now return to his ritual of bathing only 6 days a week).

During the early days, the prince fulfilled every wish and demand of the princess (after all, she is a princess people) as if fulfilling her every wish was the sole purpose of his life. This reassured the parents more, since this is the time when second thoughts do manage to creep in. Witnessing the happiness of the princess, these second thoughts were whacked as hard as Dhoni whacks the leather. Thus, they began the ground work for the marriage ceremony. Their plan was to take the bravura to a whole new level. They visited various venues, tasted many a caterers, shopped till they dropped, prepared many a lists (ending with preparing a list of lists) and other nitty-gritty details of the wedding.

As the days progressed, the princess’s smile began to wane and she became reserved. One fine day, the smile disappeared completely and was replaced with a grim look. The eyes that were full of life and shining like a child's were now slumped and distant. This did miss the ever watchful eyes of her parents in the beginning, but in time was duly noticed. The princess, nonchalantly, began spilling her concerns to the parents in small bits, here and there, and on further probing full revealed here apprehensions and trepidations. In fact, she revealed certain statements and observations of the prince which speak volumes about attitude and character and would make even an unconscious person stand up and take notice.

In reality, the prince turned out to be Prince Charming, all air but no balls to back it up. The entire parade made by the prince and his family during the first stage of the mission of a lifetime, was nothing but a gimmick; a charade; their intentions being something else altogether. It is said that a person cannot put up an act all the time, and with due course in time, slowly their put-on character slips and their natural instincts surfaces, no matter how hard they try to put up the act. Post engagement, as the days progressed, layers and layers of character make-up peeled off, ergo revealing the true nature of the prince and his family and the matter of what they really were made of. Even though, there were no major episode from the prince’s and his family’s end, there were many minor snags, which when put together, amount to a hell lot.

Now, the princess, the parents and the brother were in a tight spot. This tough time made the brother to forget taking his bath for more than one day. Their ability of thinking rationally was clouded by the shackles and shams of society. They turned to the elders, relatives and close family friends for some solace. The advice and opinion of all these wise men and women left the family with three choices only. One way was to ignore the thoughts now and pray that the princess does not have to endure anything in the future; in short, to act spineless. The second way was to confront the prince and his family and make them mend their ways; highly un-feasible. The third way was to break off everything with the prince and his family; meaning to break-up the engagement and call off the wedding. The princess and the parents spent many a sleepless nights pondering over these options while the brother snored to glory, albeit spending every single waking moment of his life deliberating over the same options.

Finally, one fine day, the parents and the brother arrived at a decision and went with option three, that is, to break-off the engagement and call off the wedding. Till the very last minute, there were varied amounts of uncertainty in the minds of the parents and the brother, but they did not succumb to their uncertainty and did what they felt was right. They broke-off the engagement and called off the wedding. This, when conveyed to the prince and his family, gave then a bolt from the blue. They had never, even in their wildest dreams, imagined that the princess and her family would resort to this option. There was some backlash from the prince’s family’s end to mend the broken affiliation, but the princess’s family stood their ground. Finally, the prince’s family realised that their labour was not yielding any fruits and gave up, and accepted the outcome. The major bone of contention for them was the reason for the break-up, as the princess’s family had not given them any reasons at all. Though some introspection did throw up some reasons from the prince’s end, but they were not corroborated by the princess’s family.

Now, the storm has passed, the wind is pleasant again and the sun is out once again in the princess’s life. The ever pleasing smile and the sparkle in the eyes of the princess are back. The parents are happy that their princess is happy. And the brother is happy that he can roam around in his torn clothes on Sundays, without taking a bath, of course.

Moral of the story:
The tides have changed. Gone are the days when each and every whim of the groom’s family was treated as if they are tenets from God. Nowadays, it is the bride who is running the show. About time that the tides changed.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Year That Was…

Where did the year go? Suddenly it is December......again - and we realize the giant strides with which we started in January to achieve something for the year, which has within a blink of an eye, come to an end, and we have not even begun.

This post is mostly self-indulgent. So, if you have nothing much to do other than read stupid meaningless stuff on the web that does not make an inkling of difference to you, then, you may might as well read this too.

· I moved from Bangalore to Pune. I never thought that I would be able to make this happen. Till the very last minute, I was unsure that this would work out, but eventually, it did. The moment I got settled at Pune; the thoughts of this being a mistake began to seep in. And to this day, I am unable to come to a conclusion on this.

· Settling down has been and is still the buzz word this year. I saw many of my friends and acquaintances either tying the knot, or, taking a learners’ course by getting engaged or simply testing the waters by having an affair. Family and relatives have been breathing down my neck to begin bride-searching for me, but have somehow managed to avoid it till now. I don’t know if I will be able to repeat this feat in the coming year.

· The Gods of Rock are still pissed off on me for listening to Himmesh Reshammiya. Every rock concert this year that was held in Mumbai fell on the weekends when I was stuck in Pune. I could not attend even a single one of them, and there is simply no one in Pune who shares the same affection for it as me. I have hence deleted every single Hindi track from my disk and loaded it with rock legends in the hope that next year goes fine.

· My family has started groom-hunting for my sister. At every meeting with any of the prospective groom’s family, I feel nothing but pity for the would-be-groom. I feel that the first meeting is nothing more than a sales meeting, where each side is trying to make a pitch for their product.

· I was quite unaware that there are so many institutes where you could get a MBA (Mane Badhu Aavade – in Gujarati), until ‘bio-data’ of prospects for my sister began trickling in. I literally needed to probe some of them to find out their actual education.

· My friends and I almost pulled off a filmy stunt. We were off to get one of our friends married in court just because the girl’s father did not approve of the boy and girl feeling otherwise; the boy being our friend. At the last minute, the girl got cold feet. I am sure this thing will be discussed in the future at every party.

· I consider Diwali as family time. Earlier, every Diwali, I used to take a whole week, sometimes two, off and visit home. I used to visit all of my relatives during the festival. This year, I was stuck in office of the entire duration and did not get to enjoy it for a single moment, even though I am just a couple of hours away from home.

· My birthdays usually fall in Diwali week, and have spent it with family, always. This year, I was stuck in the office, and spent a very boring birthday. I have had some really boring birthdays, but this year’s takes the top slot in the list of boring birthday. I pray that I am not subjected to any more of these.

· Spent a lot of time with family this year. This is one thing that I have begun to appreciate and cherish and respect.

· Last year, when I had some spare money, I could not decide on what gifts to buy for the family. I did some probing and when I could not decide on anything appealing enough, I went ahead and brought a home theatre system. This year too, I was in the same dilemma and this time I wanted to buy something for me too. I was stuck between portable music player, new bike and cell-phone for me. So, like last year, I went ahead and purchased an Aqua-Guard water purifier for home. This, once again, proves that I am not the man to consult when it comes to gifts.

· Took a couple of short out-station trips with family, which we had not done for a long long time. This is the only and the best thing that has happened after shifting to Pune, which was otherwise not feasible.

· Pune is a boring city. Everyone contradicts me on it, but on pondering on the arguments, I have come to realise that it is the people that make the place wonderful, and not the other way around.

· I have begun to appreciate a life without the television. I spend Monday to Friday without a television. Does not make any difference whether you have a television to return to or not.

· I have inspired a handful of people to blog. They too, like me, are in need of some fresh inspiration, and I have sworn to give it to them, or atleast arrange it for them.

· I managed to scrape through two more semesters of my MS program without much damage. I also survived three years in my current organisation, which I did not plan on when I first joined.

· I spent most of the year living out of a bag. If I wasn’t going somewhere, I was coming from somewhere. I used up two luggage bags in one year.

· This is the first year when I filed Income-Tax returns, and I now feel the pain that my brethren feels when the salary slip arrives with a substantial amount deducted for the government.

· I applied for a new passport because my old passport expired. This made me realise my age, and I hate it. I have been kicked-out of the youth phase of life, literally.

· I took up reading with a vengeance. Well, not actually vengeance, but simply out of boredom. But I did read up a lot this year.

· There are many levels to boredom. Whenever I got super-bored, I came to the conclusion that it was a new level of boredom and it cannot reach any higher (or lower) than this. I have been, contradicted on this, many times and have discovered many new levels.·

· This year, I neither have the inclination nor the inspiration to celebrate the New Year’s Eve.

· I remembered many birth-dates of friends this year, and also managed to wish most of them on the same day itself. This was possible only because of the efforts of a very close friend. This also reminds me that I have still to wish one friend whose birthday is today.

Well, these are the only things that are on top of my mind for this year. All in all, I neither have any regrets, nor do I have any complaints from this year. I hope that the next year being in with it lots of surprises, and pray that all of them are good.

Here’s wishing each and every one of you a very very Happy New Year, and may it bring with it all the happy-ness with it that you wish for.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pride Lost

There are certain things that you are proud of. This ‘thing(s)’ can be anything. They could be something materialistic, something achieved, something gained, something unique or something fought for. But the point that I am trying to make is that this pride is pretty much unshakeable. The mere mention of it makes you beam with pride, and automatically, as if on cue, your chest swells up and your head arcs up with pride and admiration. Also, you turn totally irrational and illogical in trying to prove any person wrong that maligns it.

Now, most of you are aware of how proud I am of my city. By my city, I mean Bombay. Irrespective of the bad roads, bad climate, incessant rains, massive traffic jams, lack of personal space, crumbling infrastructure, and other such problems that are weighing down Bombay, I am really very proud of the city. I take pride in the famed resilience (though, I have changed my stand on it now. I feel this resilience is quite idiotic, and the people responsible should be taken to task instead of suffering silently), the food, the crowds, the sea-fronts, the night-life (I am not in touch with this for quite some time, but I hear that it is, as usual, rocking), the bambaiyaa lingo, rude manner of talking, the helping nature of people, the film industry, and many other things that are associated with it. I can rave on and on about them. Out of all the things that I am full of pride for about Bombay, the one that tops the list is the transportation. There are many modes available, and though I am proud of the trains and buses as well, I am a tad bit partial about the taxis and autos.

I have been put through many harrowing experiences with taxis and especially autos in other cities, and have also heard and read about them from people from various cities all over India. But, I have never come across anyone who has had a horrible experience in Bombay. In Bangalore, the auto-walla makes you feel like he is making a big favour on you by taking you to your destination, and hence, he has every right to over charge you, even though his meter is already rigged to overcharge you. Ditto is the case in Pune. The biggest problem in Pune is to actually find an auto willing to take you to your destination. The difficulty is equal to the difficulty in finding vegetarian cuisine in China, if not more. Recently, in Pune, there have been many cases of arguments with auto-drivers ending with the passengers in hospital. Hitch-hiking is a concept alien to Bombay. It is as alien to any Bombayite as an original movie idea is to Bollywood. I learnt the distinct and crucial use of the thumb in Pune. In Bombay, all you need to do is come to the shoulder of the road, and lift your arm perpendicular your body. Within seconds, milliseconds sometimes, you will have many autos screeching to a halt, thereby causing vehicle behind them to veer dangerously and colourful expletives to fly. Seldom do you get an auto-walla who refuses to take you to your destination. And the refusal is done with such grief, that you too feel sorry for causing him so much sorrow. Taking an auto ride with fixed fares is another unfamiliar concept in Bombay. If an auto is taken with fixed fare, then the fare would be less than the average meter fare for that destination, and that too, over a long distance ride only. Overcharging is another demon that we Bombayites do not worry about, and night fare is also 1/4th extra of the meter fare, and the auto/taxis adhere to these rules strictly.

But, we are not here to discuss the righteousness of the taxis/autos of Bombay. No sir, we are here to talk about how I have lost pride in them recently. While coming back from my last out-station trip, I required a cab to take me to my house from the station. All the cabbies and autos outside Bandra Terminus refused to come to my area on meter fare. They had all come to an agreement by which they had fixed the fare to a particular area, and refused to accept anything below that price. And just like in movies, there was not a single cop in sight when one was needed. The pride in me was brutally murdered, and after the shock and trauma subsided, I brokered a deal with one of the cabbie, and got home. But, all through the way, my head was hung with shame.

During my stint in Bangalore, a bad auto experience which got me unnerved, resulted in the below conversation in my head, or something on these lines.

*BM - Bangalore Mayor.
*MM - Mumbai Mayor.
BM: How are you? How is your city?
MM: I am fine. The rains had disrupted the city yesterday, but we are getting along.
BM: Things seem as usual there then. I have called you regarding a problem here.
MM: Tell me, I am all ears.
BM: There is a new type of terror which has taken over my city. This terror has been a cause of concern for quite some time, and matters have now gone out of my hands.
MM: Anything that I can help you with?
BM: Actually, it’s only YOU who can help me. Can you send me a dozen of your auto and cab drivers to Bangalore to tackle the growing menace of the revolutionaries here? The city is in their iron grip, and causing terrors in the hearts and pockets of people.
MM: Hah, such a problem!! Don’t worry; I will dispatch two dozens of each right away. They will have rid your city of the menace within no time, and restore transportation in no time. They were quite effective in other cities too.
BM: Thank you. Here’s my gratitude for your help; 1000MW of power.
MM: Thank you.

MM hangs the phone and immediately picks up the red phone which is a hotline to auto and taxi union offices. They, in turn, pick out the best two dozen auto and taxi drivers and brief them about the mission on hand, and dispatch them in an aircraft to Bangalore immediately. And within some years the Mayor of Bombay becomes the Chief Minister of for overcoming the power problem in the state. Everyone is happy.

Now, this conversation will never take place, not even in my head. Because, the pride is lost; it has died a painful harrowing death. Please bear two minutes of silence for it.

P.S: Notice how I refrain from using Mumbai in place of Bombay. I guess am still stuck to the old name.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Thousand miles

Though the title is analogous to something deep and meaningful, be rest assured this is far from it. This post is actually a travelogue of the trip which I took over the past long weekend. And for the title, well, I travelled a little more than 1600 kilometres, but a post title as ‘1600 kilometres’ seemed senseless to me. So I converted the kilometres to miles and arrived at this title. Now you see the logic in it.

Day 1:
The journey began on Thursday afternoon from Pune to Mumbai. This being the last working day before the long weekend, everyone was geared up for some or the other location to hit. After all, this was the first chance of a holiday since May Day. I should have anticipated the crowd and left earlier than I actually did. It took me a full 90 minutes to get a vehicle to take me to Mumbai. Not that there was a dearth of transportation, but the presence of touts at the rendezvous point had sky rocketed the prices for any vehicle other than the state transport buses, which were already full. With due credit to NWKSTRC, I made it just in time to home to throw out the dirty laundry from Pune, pack some clothes, put on a fresh pair, shove some food into my growling stomach, and rush to Dadar to catch the train for Ahmedabad. The train journey was fine, except that it was late by half an hour and a toddler in my compartment took ill and bawled through the night, automatically vetoing everyone’s sleep. Next day morning, I overheard someone say that the kid’s mom was a ‘Jeans Waali Mummy’, and hence the all-night bawling. Quite an expression, I say.

Day 2:
Reached Ahmedabad by 7 AM, and boarded the cab which was booked for taking us around. Within 10 minutes of disembarking the train, we were off to Himmatnagar, a small town, some 2 hours away from Ahmedabad. A special mention must be made here of the good conditions of the highways of the state. There was a heavy downpour in the state some days back, but even then, the roads were in excellent conditions. I have driven and/or navigated in six-seven states of India, and feel that it is relatively safer to drive on Gujarat highways. I had a discussion with my driver too on this, partly to keep myself and the driver awake and active. I have had quite a few experiences of drowsy drivers on my regular trips from Pune, that I lose my sleep, by default, whenever I am in any vehicle smaller than a bus.
By 9.30 AM, we reached my uncle’s village. It is a small, sleepy village, nothing more than a speck on the state-map. After some breakfast along with a couple of hours of rest, we were off to the local temple. Once we were back from the temple, we had our lunch. The taste of the food was different than the food I usually have. In fact, it was different than what I have at home too. A discussion was promptly started on this, and the general consensus was that ‘Everything tastes different in village, and tastes better too’. Later, we were off to Mahudi. The best thing about this place is the offering to the Lord. It’s a sweet delicacy, which is to be completely consumed in the temple premises itself, post-offering. When I was a kid, I used to insist going to this place for this sole reason only. The next location on the agenda was Aaglod. They have a very beautiful temple here and the peace and serenity is something for which people often go to the Himalayas, or so I felt.
The next place to visit was the highlight of the Day-2. It was the visit to the farm. This farm belongs to the uncle at whose house we were put up. This uncle is a tax professional from Mumbai, and farming is one of his hobbies. Actually what started out as a wish-fulfilment has become a hobby for him and it also gets him out of the hustle-bustle of Mumbai for at least a week, every month. His father had a dream of having a mango farm of their own, and in order to fulfil this wish the farm being discussed was developed.
No matter how many times I visit this farm, it never ceases to amaze me. On one side, you have the sprawling mango trees, with raw mangoes hanging on the branches by the dozens, and on the other side you have the egg-plants, lady-fingers, lemons, oranges, sweet-limes, custard-apples, papayas, Indian gooseberries, bitter-gourds, spiky-gourds, fennel, bamboos, etc, etc. I was born and brought up in Mumbai, and seeing all such wonders from nature in their natural form simply amazes me. Earlier, I used to think that after the initial visits, the amazement might wear off, but no, I still stare at nature’s abundance with wonder. After taking a walk around the whole farm, I took out a char-pai, and spread myself on it. Believe me when I say this, nothing relaxes you more than a quick nap on the char-pai, under the shade of trees, in the middle of a big farm, with a gentle breeze blowing along with the occasional cry of peacocks and mynas.
After the walk back from the farm to the house, we had a quite dinner, and were off to sleep by 10 PM. The surprising thing here is that I dozed off to glory at 10 PM. I never get sleep that early.

Day 3:
Day 3 began with the gentle cry of the peacocks, which had entered the neighbour’s courtyard. Another surprise that hit me here is that no one in particular seemed to be bothered about the peacocks. Peacocks are part of this village, as much as stray dogs and mosquitoes are part of big cities.
After a sumptuous breakfast, we hit the roads for our next destination, Ambaji. It is a two hour drive from Himmatnagar, with lush, green farms on either side of the roads. It looked like the farms in Punjab shown in Hindi films, albeit the crop was different. Enroute, we made a stop at Posina. This place too has a temple. The problem here is that Posina is a very remote tribal village, and today being Poornima, it was day of festivities for the local-folk. So, the entire village had gathered at the centre of the village, dressed in their traditional best. How I wish I had a camera in my hand at that time, and I would have got a picture for you. No amount of words would do justice to describe their attire. It like, you have to see it to believe it. Another shocking thing was the precariously perched cell-phone in the dhotis. Cell-phone penetration figures are indeed true. The other problem was our driver. Now this driver had some incidences in his past with the people of this particular tribal caste, and hence he had turned as white as a chalk on seeing the crowd. His condition was analogous to the condition of the driver who had seen the wild elephant in the middle of the road during our trip to Wayanad. Anyways, nothing untoward occurred, and we were safely allowed to pass, but we did get some crazy and weird looks.
This day was one of the rare occasions when there was a Poornima, accompanied with a partial lunar eclipse. I do not know what effects do eclipses have on people, but what I do know is that temples all over the world shut down, approximately 12 hours before the eclipse begins. We knew that Ambaji temple would close by 4 PM, but were not quite sure of it. On reaching there, we straightaway made our way to the temple. Had we been late by 15 minutes, we would not have got to enter the temple. Like the cliché goes; ‘Made it just in time’. Once the temple business was over, we took to the local market for some browsing.
They make a mean masala-ultra-spicy-phudina-jaljeera-soda here. These are ones which are not meant for the weak-stomached. While on my second glass of this concoction, I saw a young tribal boy who was holding the hand of an equally young tribal girl and sprinting towards me. This couple was being followed by all the folks of that community present and the others present in the market joined the crowd. I couldn’t make the head or tail of this. So, while on my third glass of the stomach-exploder, I enquired with the vendor. He said this is an age-old tradition of the tribal community of Banaskanta (the people living on the banks of river Banas). On the occasion of festivals, young prospective groom grabs the hand of the girl whom he likes, and if the girl accepts the pitch, she runs along with him; otherwise, she simply jerks her hand free from the boy’s hands. Now, if she accepts the boy’s proposition, the entire community witness to this, runs behind them to prevent this mad-dash to marital bliss. The community does not even make a half-hearted to catch them, but are simply following tradition. This, my friends, is their version of a marriage. This simple act of running away by the couple binds them in holy matrimony for the rest of their lives. No kundli matching, no background checking, no income inquiries, no purohit, no mahurat, nothing at all. As simple as that. And the bonus to the parents is that they don’t have to spend a single rupee on the marriage ceremony. Thinking of the bride, she is only given a few nano-seconds to make the decision of a lifetime, but nevertheless, she makes it. I am sure this is the simplest and easiest way to get married.
Our return train to Mumbai was from Abu Road. The journey from Ambaji to Abu Road is a 40 minutes ride, and we reached well before the scheduled departure of the train. Here too, we made our way to the local market. Abu Road is quite famous for the Malai-Ghevar and Rabdi. They are very very tasty, and can make any foodie go weak in the knees. I ate some, and got quite a lot of it packed for home. The train was 15 minutes off schedule, but it did cover the time gap. The train ride was pretty slick. My family had not yet decided to whether to crucify me or break off my limbs, one at time, if their experience of the Gareeb-Rath turns out to be ghastly. In the end, all I can say is that I am still alive, and all my limbs are intact, thank you.

Day 4:
I was awake before the train reached Mumbai city limits. I spent the time staring aimlessly outside the window. As soon as the train trudged in to Bandra terminus, I was hit with this stark realization that the past three days flew by in a wiz. Tomorrow, I will again be on my way to Pune for regular office. I had bought the tickets and made the plan for this trip months in advance. But, on recalling the past three days, I had a broad grin on my face. All the efforts were really worth the trip.

Monday, July 21, 2008

O brother, Where art thou?

Well well well, look who’s here?! Finally the blogger has decided to grace us with his presence. The blogger must have been pretty bogged down with work and would have absolutely no time for even a breather. I make this statement in lieu of the unabashed audacity with which the blogger used to come late to office, leave early and spend the (almost) whole of Fridays along with the weekends at Mumbai for the past six weeks!!

On the blogger’s defence, I agree that I have been relatively jobless and activity-less for almost two months now. My daily tasks were as many as those done by Garfield on any regular day. I come to office late, spend my day blog-hopping, leave office early and disappear right after breakfast on Fridays. The primary reason for the inactive blog is that nothing interesting happened with and around me to blog about. To add to the misery, I have been diagnosed with Writer’s Block [sigh]. Many a times it happened that I powered up the word processor, and after putting up some 200-300 odd words [PJ: 200 and 300 are even numbers, then how can they be odd words, eh?], gave it up and continued with my usual endeavours, which are, naught. The proof of this are the several half completed posts lying in a folder on my computer. And, this atrocious crime was committed keeping best interests of the blog and the visitors at heart. There is no ill will involved. I did not want to subject the visitors to crappy material. I want to serve the visitors here with the best of matter, both in quality and quantity.

A-ha, the blogger is trying to mislead by using the sympathy factor. There is a hidden counter embedded in the blog which is proof to the paltry number of visitors , and the ‘Archives’ section is proof that the number of comments on the posts is so meagre that is would be a disgrace to even mention them. How can you say that you wanted to post something meaningful and purposeful, when the visitors are virtually non-existent and comments quite negligible?! And, a crime is a crime, is a crime, period. Whatever may be the reason, the topic of discussion here is that a felony has been committed and it simply cannot be overlooked.

People, I plead guilty, as charged. But, a thought must also be given to the dearth of inspiration and support. I promise to increase the frequency of posting, but would require help and support from the regular as well as from the mute visitors of this blog. Do forgive me this time as I resolve to post more often. Right now, I require your support to prove my poor defence strategy. You; yes you, can throw the brickbats and/or pledge your support in the comments section. Remember, no matter how small a contribution, it always helps. So please do not refrain yourself and have a go at the comments section.

P.S: I have become too lazy to write and am somehow trying to justify it. This post is a poor effort to cover my track, and a shameless act to get people to comment here. Maybe it might motivate me to write frequently.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What’s in a name?!

A name is a word, term, or phrase by which somebody or something is known and distinguished from other people or things. – Encarta Dictionary.

A name is a label for a human or animal, thing, place, product and even an idea or concept, normally used to distinguish one from another. – Wikipedia.

Name is the first thing that a baby learns to react to. Babies, even before they learn to speak, or for that matter, even crawl, are able to identify their names and react to it when called.

The other day, I was discussing about names with my friend. We were talking about how people have weird names and what was the weirdest name we have encountered. Somewhere in between, she nonchalantly declared that she will name her kids with names that are quite common and easier to spell and pronounce and would not spin-off to anything goofy or hideous. Now she herself has a name that is the Marathi word for a flower-pot, and the actual noun is really funny when uttered, but I have been forewarned with dire consequences if I mention her name here.

I, myself, have had quite a few problems with my name. Now, I have an Islamic name even though I am a Hindu. I have absolutely no issues with my name being from any community, but it gets on my nerves when people do not comprehend the proper articulation of my name, irrespective of whether it is said on the phone or in person, or for that matter, even spelt out to them by me.

I face many issues when I utter my name to someone and that person is trying to write it down. First and foremost, people do not have the patience to hear the complete pronunciation from me. Then they get the spelling all wrong, and lastly, they themselves give a shot to pronounce their interpretation of my name, eventually making it all a big mess. I even resorted to taking extra pain to explain, like,

“My name is ‘Nishat’, ‘N…I…S…H…A…T’; ‘T’ for ‘Train’.”
“My name is ‘Nishat’, ‘Nisha’ with a ‘T’.”

Even after this, most of the times, my name comes across incorrectly. Maximum people get my name as ‘NISHANT’. There is this one friend, V, who for close to two years called me ‘Nishant’ even though she sends me emails regularly. Other common distortions of my name are ‘Vishal’, ‘Nishad’, ‘Nishan’, and once someone even got it as ‘Nisha’, never even once bothering to reflect that it is a female name.

I have had many problems with my name on official documents too.

<--- See the alteration from ‘Nishant’ to ‘Nishat’ on my birth certificate.

The Maharashtra Road Transport Office issues book type of driving license. Recently, they upgraded to the digital I-Card type ones. I have two copies of the book variety and one of the I-Card types. All three of them have different spellings of my name. One got it correct; second one as ‘Nishad’ and the last one as ‘Nishant’.

Check out the goof-up in one of the driving license --->

Such was the outcome even after personally filling out the registrations forms.

My experience with my name in Bangalore was the most remarkable. We are all quite aware of the convention of people from southern parts of India (the area starting below Goa till Kerala) to insert extra ‘H’ in names. Now, they got a little more adventurous and decided to play around with the ‘H’ in my name instead of inserting one. They revolutionized it from ‘Nishat’ to ‘Nisath’. After getting tired of playing with my first name, they resorted to calling me by my surname, which is ‘Parekh’, but they construed it as ‘PORREKH’.

Another aspect of my name being pronounced incorrectly is with certain community. Out of these, the Gujarati community is most notorious for not pronouncing the ‘H’ in any word. So, even though this category of people gets my spelling right, I advertently become ‘Nisat’. On similar lines, a real conversation between a cousin and his mom:

His Mom: (frenziedly) Kusal? Kusal?
Cousin: (annoyingly) Mom, if you wanted to call my ‘Kusal’, why in the God’s name did you name me ‘Kushal’?!
His Mom: ?????

Then there are cases where kids are given weird names whose pronunciation is either difficult or the name would have an intrinsic part to it, or, the name can easily offshoot to something infuriating.
1. I know a person named ‘Tanan’. I always forget how many ‘an’ does his name contain and I eventually end up adding extra ‘an’ to his name and consequently calling him ‘Tanananan’, or something like that.
2. A friend decided to name his kid ‘Jashit’. I warned him that his kid might grow up with a disturbed childhood when kids at school start excluding the ‘Ja’ from his name. He did not heed my warning though and I pray till date that my prediction comes out wrong.
3. A friend’s surname as ‘Abhyankar’ and he is always referred to as ‘Bhayankar’.

I have lost all hope that anyone would ever get my name right the first time I utter it. If I have a cold, the number of times that I have to utter my name in the hopes of getting it across correctly, increases exponentially. I have now ceased to correct anyone who gets my name incorrectly, if there is no official document involved. I simply agree as long as the noun which is blurted rhymes with my actual name. I usually respond to Nishat, Nishant, Nishanth, Nisha, Nishan, Nishad, Nishal, Vishal, Nisat, …..

Your personal experiences with names are welcome in the comments section.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Kids !!!!

I receive many forwarded mails, and the ones which I like most are the ones which have the capability to tickle my funny bone. Especially the ones where the mail claims that the below outrageous content has been written by a toddler. Like the mail where a kid does an algebra expansion sum by simply moving the brackets further and further apart, or, like the one where kids were asked to define what is 'Love', with the result being quite funny. By now you must have got a fair idea of the mails which are being referred.
First and foremost, these mails are quite hilarious. No doubts about that at all, but someone they are not convincing enough to me. I never trust the mail’s claim that the stuff has been done by a kid. I always felt they are doctored by grown-ups. Couple of days back, my uncle sent me some scanned notebook pages. These documents were the stories written by his seven year old daughter, my cousin. Reading these stories, I realised two things. First: those toddler mails are right in their claims, and second: felt real sorry for all my kindergarten and junior school teachers who had to bear the torture of reading the stories and essays written by me when I was a kid. I simply wish I could write as good as my cousin writes when I was her age.
Nonetheless, I have uploaded the scanned pictures here. Do read them, and read them all, especially the morals. I was very nostaligic and recalled all my school days where we were forced to write morals for anything and everything. I have written many a weirder morals in my heydays.

Story 1 : Going to the boarding school.

Story 2: The Friendly Girl.

Story 3: The Beautiful Girl (this one takes the first prize).

Apart from this, there are couple of conversations which I can recall. I have been witness to them where kids have asked or stated things which had me completed bowled.

Conversation 1:

An uncle of mine resided at Singapore for a long time. Currently, he is in Doha. But when my aunt (his wife) was pregnant with their first kid, they were in Singapore. We were all very ecstatic on hearing the news. Another cousin of mine, who was no more than 5 or 6 years old, on hearing this news got a very genuine doubt at that point of time. This kid always turns to his grandfather for any doubts that he has. Only his grandfather has the patience to answer all his questions. But this time, even the grandfather was tongue-tied. The conversation was something like below:

Cousin: Dada, I have a question.
Grandpa: Ask beta.
Cousin: Kaaki is pregnant na?
Grandpa: Yes. In some months, you will have a baby brother or sister.
Cousin: But would the baby look like us or would the baby look like Chinese people?
Grandpa: ……??

Conversation 2:

A friend’s daughter, who was around 4 years old at that time, had this conversation with her dad. The conversation went something like this:

Father: Urja, tomorrow is Sunday. What do you want to do?
Daughter: We will go to shopping, then for a movie and later to a restaurant.
(Pretty smart for a 4 year old, I say).
Father: Where do you want to go for shopping?
Daughter: Any place where we get clothes and nail polish for me.
Father: Which movie do you want to see?
Daughter: Any movie, but we will not go to those ‘A’ rated movies. Last time we went, the security guard did not allow me to get into the movie hall, and I had to come home with dada without watching the movie.
Father: ……??

So you see, kids these days are very very smart are quite inquisitive. We, in our days, accepted anything and everything that was told to us. I wonder what would happen in the future.

If you have any such incidences involving kids, please do mention them in the comments section.