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.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Random Bakwaas

I was abducted last month by members of a secret society that wanted to find out as to how do I ‘maintain’ my physique. They tied and tortured me, but I did not give them the secret. After all, it is my IP and a source for secondary income, once I figure out how to use it for economic gain. After torturing me for one month, they finally realized that I am not going to part with the secret come what may, they erased my memory of the last one month, except for the abduction part, and released me yesterday night.

How much ever I want to believe this theory, and make you believe it too for the hiatus, I don’t think anyone will believe it. So, it is best to let the cat out of the bag.

The first reason for this sannatta is that my end-semester exams were on the horizon. Not that I was too busy burning the midnight oil on studies after a hard day’s work, but it is just that I did not want to feel guilty that I was blogging instead of studying. My total studying hours for the exams which I appeared for were as many as the exams, that is, four. These exams were open book exams, meaning, we can carry whatever study material we want to the exams for reference. My ideology is that if I will study for the exams, then what will I do in the examination centre for three whole hours?

By the way, I completed my fifth semester of the eight semester programme. When I enrolled in this programme, I really wondered if I will be able to study anymore. When I appeared for the first semester exams, I decided to quit after a couple more. Now, when I look back upon these five semesters, I can only sit back and wonder how I managed to survive through. The general consensus is that I should be able to survive three more. At least they are not as bad as the torture meted out by the underground secret society referred above.

The second reason behind this hiatus was that I was smitten by the IPL bug. I tried to resist it initially, but my defence mechanisms totally failed, and I ended up watching all the matches of IPL. I do not have a television set at my home here, but I somehow gained access to the neighbour’s television, and watched them all. Quite a revoluting concept this T20, I say. Now that it is over, I wonder what to do in the evenings. I am sure many of you share the same sentiment.

The worst part of this IPL experience of mine was that yesterday I started feeling sleepy after ten overs of the second innings. I somehow dragged myself to my bed, and dozed off to glory, without knowing the result of the finals. It was only when I read today’s newspapers that I realised that Rajasthan Royals did win the IPL series. I hear that the match was a nail biting one, and am really upset at missing it. The only consolation is that the team which I was supporting did eventually win the series.

World, I would like to confess something today. I did not realise this until today morning. Usually, I am the last person to wake up in the mornings. Today, I woke up unusually late and that too, to an empty house. I then cranked up the ol’ desktop computer at my house, and selected random tracks from those available; switched Winamp player to play tracks at random, and continued with my daily chores. There are no English tracks on the hard disk, not that I have anything against Hindi tracks. I turned up the volume and started singing along. The reason for the loud volume was that I did not want anyone to hear me sing, including myself. The tracks selected were at random without any prejudice. I loved all the tracks that were being played and I was singing along to all of them. While crooning to all the numbers, the realisation hit me like a brick hurled at me from many miles away. All the tracks being played were from the movie 'Namastey London', and the shocker that I got here is that all the tracks are composed by a certain composer who repeats the same kind of music in all his tracks, and sings with a certain nasal twang and most of his singing is out of sync with the music. I cannot bear the weight on my conscience any more. So here goes:
I like Himmesh Reshammiya’s tracks.
I know, I know. I was taken aback too. How could I, who simply adores classic and grunge rock, like such sacrilege? I don’t say I love his tracks, but like is the right word to use here. The culprit for this realisation is Winamp’s random track selection functionality, because I had selected many tracks for it to select from. But it randomly played only Himmesh-bhai’s tracks. I guess there was a greater power at work in that random functionality, and you know you cannot fight these greater forces. I know this for a fact that somewhere deep down inside, you too like his tracks like me, if not love them. And accepting the truth will make it easier for you, rather than opposing the likeliness towards his *ahem* tracks. I guarantee that after the initial trauma passes, the feeling will settle in nicely. Suspicion for the change in taste is also on the sudden drop in the dosage of music since I landed in Pune. I have decided to go for a MP3 player to settle this doubt. Lets see when this actually materialises.

Another thing is that I really enjoyed today’s morning. Waking up to a beautiful day, with no exams to worry about, and listening to your *gulp* favourite music with no one to bother you about the racket that you are creating or the time you take in the bathroom is something that I would love to wake up to every single day. I loved it to that extent that I am contemplating to move to a single room accommodation somewhere and staying alone. It is not that my current room-mates are a pain, but just that the frequency and wavelength are not matching. The looks and faces which I get whenever I give my opinion on something make me feel like I am from a different planet altogether. Mind you, I have no problems whatsoever, but just a random thought that I got today morning. Will give more thought to it in the coming days.

Now that the exams and IPL is over, it is back to good old movies for passing time. The latest edition of Indiana Jones will be lapped up before this week ends and Sarkar Raj in the next week. In the meantime, you guys can give some ideas in the comment section.

The second and final serving of the Loooog Weekend is something that I wanted to do for a long time, but now my memory is evading me. I will try to pull it all together and publish it as soon aspossible. No promises though.

Added Later:

This is the shortest post by me, so far. I vow to not repeat this mistake in the futute.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Loooong Weekend – Part I

Last week, I was at home for four full days. This had been the longest time that I have been at home since Diwali last year. And all it cost me was taking a day off. There was a public holiday for May Day last week. Adding the weekend to this public holiday along with the one day off which I took, I had four blissful days at my disposal.

The initial (and usual) plan was to spend them at home doing nothing, except watching movies, sitcoms and more movies. By the way, I became a proud owner of a DVD Home Theatre system. I paid the last installment for it and finally became an owner of something worthy, at least for me. Coming back to the post, my plan was to spend these four full days at home. But going by my past records of executing a plan, I was least expecting this plan to work. Not that this was much of a plan, I was half-expecting it to work smoothly. None of the plans I have made have worked out so far. So, expecting the unexpected, I marched on my way to home in a rickety state transport bus, just thinking of how to schedule the movies, so that I can view the maximum number of them.

Day 1:

A long time ago, precisely on the 23rd of April 1985, a very beautiful and heavily pregnant woman went into labor and gave birth to an innocent, sweet and beautiful girl child. After some years, this girl child in discussion started speaking and thinking and doing things on here own. This made us all to give a second thought to the initial adjectives that we had bestowed on her. She is still sweet and beautiful, but not at all innocent. Her description would take a separate post in itself.

To cut a long story short, it was my baby sister’s birthday last month. Now that she is all grown up and earning herself, she decided to throw a luncheon to us. This is the first self-less act which she has done, which I can recall. I guess a little bit of idealism has rubbed off me onto her (blowing my own trumpet (on second thoughts, this sounds kinky)). Since I was not in Mumbai during her birthday and for a couple more weeks after that, the lunch was kept on hold until I could be present. Hence, the first day of my four holidays was reserved for a lunch with my family, my maternal grand-parents and my maasi (mom’s sister).

The venue was ‘Only Parathas’. This place packs a mean paratha, or so I have heard. The place has a nice ambience, the service was good and the food was delicious. Before anyone could reach the restaurant, I smuggled a cake in and passed it to the waiter for bringing it with lit candles with ‘Happy Birthday’ tune playing in the background. Nobody expected the cake, and it turned out to be a pleasant surprise for all. Later, the food was ordered with the usual dhamaal of ordering. This included the usual who-wants-what, sharing-a-dish dilemmas, the Jain / Non-Jain food, confusing the waiter, cancelling couple of items and reordering them, etcetera, etcetera. The food was fabulous, and everyone seemed to have the same sentiment about it. I have eaten many horrible things at equally horrible places, that any half-good thing tastes good to me. Then came the desserts followed by the bill. My sister swooned down on the bill as soon as it was presented, did a rapid check of it and placed her debit card next to it and asked the waiter to get it cleared. I saw a flash of pride on everyone present there by this act. You know, all elders feel pride and a sense of elation when kids in the family, whom they have nurtured and guided and cared for since the time they were born, behave like all-grown-up people. I guess their feeling would be - ‘Mission Accomplished’.

Later we went to this new hyper market, called ‘DeMart’. It’s a nice swanky place with all the grocery and other household needs under one roof. I had the maximum fun here. Trust me; it was quite funny to watch three old women, with one trolley each, rushing in different directions of the store with the grandfather, sister and meself running after them. I was browsing through the aisles with my granny and it was fun watching her pick up each and every item available in a shelf, turn it over, check the price, raise an eyebrow and then grumble that everything has become very costly and how it used to cost so less in those days, and then return it to the shelf. At some places, I would point to some very useless stuff and try to coax her into buying it. After some time, my grand-dad caught up with us. He has the least amount of patience for such browsing. I could see him fuming and fretting over the slow progression of my grand-mom. After around two hours of shopping, all the oldies were tired, and we proceeded to my grandparents’ home. My maasi had purchased lot of stuff and ordered for a taxi, all the way to her house. This pleased me a lot, since my home is en-route, she would drop us at our place. I thoroughly enjoyed this day, and yearn for more such to come.

Day 2:

The next day, in the morning, I scanned my drawers where I keep ‘those-that-we-do-not-speak-of’ piece of clothing, and realized that I was short of them. I promptly decided to buy some. My dad is a chalta-phirta encyclopedia of places in Mumbai where you can get any item in retail at wholesale price. If I ever purchase anything from a store which sells at the MRP rate, I am sure, he would abandon me, or would be handed an equally cruel punishment. Hence, I had to consult him on where can I get some. He listened with an enthusiastic ear, then scanned his cupboard and concluded that he too needed some. So, it was decided that phather-puttar-jodi will go for some personal shopping today without the ladies. I could see a glint of vengeance in my mom’s eyes, but nothing could be done about this shopping trip.

In the afternoon, we landed at Chakla Market (damn funny name if you ask me). This is the place where you get all the innerwear clothing items at wholesale rates. And the prices are always a little less than the MRP rate. So, if you buy a decent quantity, you do actually save a lot of money.

I have never understood why a person frets about the color of the underwear so much. I mean, neither the wearer, nor any other person is going to see you in it (not necessarily, you may say). So there is simply no point in choosing the color. However, there is another attribute which is of a greater importance and that is the size. People, bigger or smaller sizes clothes are manageable, but bigger size undergarment is not comfortable and it ends up riding up into the-place-where-the-sun-does-not-shine, and if you end up with a smaller size one, then either a lot of Sachin Tendulkar style adjustment of you-know-what can help you or, later, some ItchGuard.

My dad and I did the grave mistake of not noting down the size which we wear before reaching the shop, and hence, we were left at the mercy of the shop-keeper for deciding the size which would fit us. Shop-keepers of such items are masters of identifying the size of a person’s undergarment by just looking at them. I once read a signboard in the undergarment section of a mall that trials of the piece of clothing being discussed here are not allowed, due to hygienic reasons. At that point in time, I felt it was quite humorous, but not now. I was tempted to go to some public toilet nearby and check it, but then, dad hit upon an idea and placed a call to home to inquire our respective size. This million-dollar idea of moi dad was successful, and we did some peaceful shopping, without the shop-keeper looking us up-and-down and sizing us. I thought he was disappointed that he was not able to showcase his talent.

Next comes the interesting part. My dad is of the opinion that I still do not earn, and hence never allows me to pay for anything if he is around. Coincidently, when the bill was being prepared for the items purchased, my dad was hooked on to his phone, and I solemnly settled the bill and walked out of the store with the goods in hand. Somehow he did not realize it at that point in time. Later, at home during dinner time, it struck to my dad that his first born child had paid for something even with him being around. This made him leave the dinner half way through and run to his wallet. I guess he was getting bitten by guilt pangs. Immediately he did some mental mathematics and produced the actual amount paid to me. Another thing about my dad, he will always pay the actual amount. He will count is three times before handling any money to anyone, and that includes the nucleus family too. I have tried to trick him into paying more or less than the actual amount many a times, but have not succeeded so far. My dad tried to shove that money in my pocket, but me being a honhaar baccha, refused. My dad is a very insistent person and one needs a very strong argument to make him change his mind. Then, with a 100-watt Phillips-ka-bulb, sorry, 100-watt Wipro-ka-bulb (I am wafaadaar, you see) shining on my head, I blurted out the following:

‘Meri taraf se yeh chaddiyan aapko gift. Gifts dete hain taaki lenewaala denewaale ko woh cheez use karte waqt yaad kare. Mein chahta hoon ki aap mujhe roz yaad kare, aur issiliye yeh gift. Aaj se aap roz subha chaddi pehente waqt mujhe yaad karenge.’

After this, there was a brief moment of silence with many blank faces staring at me, followed by a loud laughter from everyone. Poor Pappa was left with no option but to put the money back in his pockets.
Battle won!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Genda Bhai – Finally Hooked

A very good friend of mine, we will call him P here, has finally found a suitable bride and is all set to progress to the next phase of life. We all, who know him, are very much happy for him (and for us too, muhahaha) and are simultaneously praying for the poor bride-to-be. But, I guess with a few tips and tricks from us, she will be able to manage him.
Here is my walk down memory lane of our friendship.

First and foremost, it is always difficult to converse with this guy. People who know him for a long time, have now mastered the art, but others get shocked by the experience.

This is because his understanding is that God has given a maximum count to the number of words that a person can speak in a lifetime and hence, spends his words very wisely. Secondly, he would always have something or the other stuffed in his mouth, and hence his inability to speak. This had led to many a people concluding that he is very rude and insulting. A typical phone conversation would be:

Me : With a phone to my ear listening to his cell-phone ring.
Me : Hello?? (Assuming that he has answered the phone since the ringing has stopped. Mind you, ‘Hello’ and ‘Bye’ are some words he has vowed never to utter.)
P : Hmmh!! (finally, he decides to make some sound.)
Me : How much time are you gonna take to get free?
P : Fifhtin! (He means 15 minutes.)
Me : Okay, I will reach there in 20 minutes and honk. You come out immediately. Don’t make me wait like you always do. And also….hello….hello…..*&$#@…...#$%&. (He is already off the damn phone and I am left blabbering with no one listening to me).

And even after this, I will reach to his place in 30 minutes, instead of 20 minutes hoping that I would not have to wait. But His Highness would decide to grace me with his presence only after another 20 minutes have passed. Mind you, if this situation is the other way round, then be sure that he would have arrived after 1 hour and would honked the horn like crazy and blasted you for not coming out in 30 seconds since his arrival. His sense of time is something that me and other people in the entire group were neither able to understand nor predict.

P also has a penchant for giving nicknames to people. And the nicknames which he gives are downright insulting and embarrassing to the people who they are gifted to. But, P being P, simply loves the idea of someone getting angry on him for calling that person but the nickname they hate. Also, if one nickname is applicable to multiple entities, he would go ahead and name them all by the same noun. I very well remember that, at one point of time, he had named five different living species by the name Genda* Bhai. These famous five are - one of his drivers, a friend’s dad, another uncle living nearby, yours truly and a stray dog who used to visit him daily. And he would never explain as to which Genda Bhai is he referring to while in a conversation. So, our conversation would go somewhat like this:

P : Dad called for an ambulance today.
Me: Why?
P : Genda Bhai got hurt while walking.
Me: (Unsure about the entity being referred here)
OMG!! Lekin yaar, thoda khul ke batah. Kuch samaj nahin aaya.
(Friend, explain in details. Did not understand) – Literal translation of the above.
P : Arre, Genda Bhai was taking his evening walks, and a sharp stone pierced his toe, and the stone was inside his feet. There was lot of bleeding.
Me: Cheez, what happened then?
P : (unfazed) Nothing. The doctor came, removed the stone and dressed up the wound.
Me: Thank God nothing serious happened. But, I just talked to S some time back, and he did not mention anything of this sort. And if the doctor came and dressed up the wound, then why was the ambulance called?
(S is the friend whose Dad is also referred to by the same nickname. )
P : Why would S know of this?
Me: If his dad is hurt, he would definitely know about it, and he would have told me.
P : I was referring to Ali (the dog, again a name given by him, for reasons unknown). And the doctor came with the veterinary ambulance, which my dad had called.

Add to this his no-drama, no-emotion way of speaking, and you will know how difficult it is conversing with him. He speaks in a very monotonous tone, without varying his pitch and octave by a single unit.

Another thing about his nicknaming habit is that most of the nicknames always refer to him too. For example, like I mentioned, yours truly is also referred to as Genda Bhai (considering my shape and size), but he and I share the same sizes when shirts and trousers are concerned. Another example, S was honored with the nickname Dhapnya*. Some years back, S had undergone corrective surgery to remove his dependency on spectacles and does not wear them at all now, but P still wears spectacles which have glasses which are can be used in small microscopes and can also be used as a magnifying glass, when one is not handy. But S is, till date, referred to as Dhapnya. And mind you, no one has the right to give him a nick. He had one, and no one dares to call him by that. If I reveal that here, I am sure that I will not be invited to his wedding. Not that I need an invitation, but still, it feels nice to be invited.

He is the guy who is single-handedly responsible for getting me and most of the friends into maximum trouble with our parents. Any of his ideas would always be at un-humanly hours, and they would seem nice when we hear them, but not the next day when my parents give a nice hearing about good-family-boys-fooling-around-at-night.
I can very well recall when during Diwali, the neighbors had threatened to call the police, and later to give our supari to underworld dons for making them jump in their beds and scaring the living life out of them with loud crackers at 3.30 AM in the night. Another incident is scaring the people who are out for early walks during Navaratri.

He is also the guy to whom many a road side food-stalls owe their livelihoods to. Give him anything with loads of cheese and butter, and he would be your life-time-customer. And he is also responsible for identifying the sex of soft-drinks. For example: Coke is a guy thing, and Mirinda is for females.

He is the guy whom BPL Mobile is still searching for making the cellular company’s profits disappear for some time. BPL Mobile had, a long time back, introduced 9 PM to 9 AM incoming-outgoing free scheme, and he was their first patron to enroll for the service. Till date, he holds the record for utilizing the outgoing facility for straight 12 hours. He even got a call from the company people asking whether it was really the owner using the phone, or was his phone stolen and being used by the thief. This is during the time when incoming was still chargeable. He also has this craze for cell-phones. Any new model which is launched will be found, before the day ends, in his hands. Nowadays, he keeps three cell-phones, since, there are many new models launched daily and one cell-phone is not enough to keep up with the changing trends.

There are many a people throughout India who still pray, before embarking on a train journey, so that God takes mercy on them and does NOT make him as their fellow passenger. I have felt pity for these co-passengers, even though most of the times I have been hand-in-glove for torturing the fellow passengers and other friends. Even after all these years, he still get glee out of silly pranks like applying toothpaste on the cheeks and noses of people who are sleeping, putting drops of water in the sleeping person's ear, etc, etc.

There are many many more incidents about which I want to write about, but most of them are such that they cannot be written here. Now, that he is on the verge of stage two of life (we guys have two stages – bachelorhood and end-of-bachelorhood), I can recall all those incidents and accidents which we had. I know, some years from now, you and I will be sitting together and laughing our asses off recalling all of them.

Here’s wishing you all the best for your married life, and Best of Wishes to my Bhabhi. She need them yaar!!!

* Genda – Hindi word for rhinoceros.
* Dhapnya – Marathi word for a person who wears spectacles.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday Morning Woes

My typical week begins with me traveling from Mumbai to Pune bright and early on Monday mornings. Once I am in Pune, time crawls. It crawls so slow that it makes the snail look like Marion Jones (considering that the snail is female). I count days for Friday to arrive. On its arrival, the counting changes from days to hours, and subsequently into minutes too. Now, the question that comes to mind is, what’s the countdown for? Well, no prizes for guessing that it’s for the return trip from Pune to Mumbai (home). When the countdown is in its last few seconds, I hoist my back-back on to my shoulders, turn off the computer and give the other weary souls at my office who are from out of town but cannot go to their homes, a big wicked cruel laugh (inspired from Gabbar Singh, Mogambo, Shakaal, and their kind). Sometimes when I am in the mood to push my luck a little bit, I walk up to the desks of other hapless souls to wish them sweet goodbyes. These hapless souls are also from Mumbai who, like me, go to Mumbai every weekend. These goodbyes would only be made to those people who I know have loads of work, and hence, they would end up slogging their derrieres over the weekend at office, let alone going to Mumbai. They have been kind enough to educate me with some very emotional and heart-felt adjectives (obviously the vulgar kinds and I had not even heard some of them) and moiself has been lucky enough to not get physically injured so far from the regular office stationary objects which get thrown at me.

You might say, this sounds all very fairy-taleish and what has that got to do with the ‘Woes’? For this, we will have to delve a bit deeper in time. We will have to go back to Thursday, to that dreaded which I attended. We have team meeting on every Thursday afternoon in the post-lunch session of the work day. These meetings are very boring, since, everyone is made to give a small report of the work which they did over the previous week and what sort of tasks do they have over the coming week. People here are not even interested in their own work, then, how can they pay attention to what the other person did over the weekend? This meeting is conducted over the telephone, and hence I have to pay even lesser attention to whatever is being discussed. Most of the time, I dish out my cell-phone and play games on it, and only on hearing my name being called thrice**, my attention is thwarted back to the meeting. The only other word (other than my name, that is) that jolts me back to reality is the word ‘Saturday’. And I sit up and listen at the very first mention of the work ‘Saturday’.

This weeks meeting was one of those where the work ‘Saturday’ was uttered 978324 times. So, you can very well imagine how attentive I was. If I had a tail, it would be very erect. The reason for so many utterances of the beautiful day was that there was some very important activity was scheduled for Saturday and the entire team had to be present in office to perform that activity. Once the initial shock was absorbed, it dawned struck that moiself has to stay back this Friday in Pune *sob*. It was very shocking to me, and it had completely caught me unawares. The last time such a thing had happened, I was made aware about it almost two months before the actual occurrence. So, considering only two days notice, it was a big shocker for me. I sunk a little bit in my chair and after pondering a bit about it, I found a glimmer of hope, a ray of sunshine, a silver lining, etc, etc. I thought since this work has to be done on Saturday, I can then leave for Mumbai on Saturday evening. (Half a day at home is any day better than one whole day of Pune). But alas, the glimmer of hope was just what it was, a glimmer. It diminished pretty soon. The manager then proceeded to bring out the part two of the bad news, and it was that we are not to leave the city on Saturday or Sunday, as we might be called in to work on Sunday too. The probability of that phone call coming is minimal, but, the instructions were clear, and they were that we are not to leave Pune for even a single minute. I was a POW (prisoner of WORK. I coined it) for the weekend.

Its not that I do not mind working on a Saturday, but, I like to be informed a little bit in advanced about such things, so as to be prepared for it, psychologically as well as in other allyies as well. The primary problem is clothes. Every Monday mornings, I only bring clothes that would only suffice me for the week, along with a spare set of clothes, for the just-in-case instances. And every Friday evening, I carry the dirty load back to home to get them washed. So, a little bit of notice time would have been nice for such shockers. So, I would have to wash clothes on Sunday so that I would have something clean to wear for the subsequent week. For the all the time that I have spent outside my home, I have washed clothes exactly three times. One time was when I was in Bangalore, and the maid decided to go for a month long sabbatical. Second time was again in Bangalore when the washing machine decided that we, its well-fed masters needed some exercise and third was during an out-station trip, the reasons for which cannot be covered here.

The second problem is the time. The activity is hardly for 5-6 hours, and would have the better part of the day to myself. But, the starting time for this activity is 7 AM, and we all had to reach office before 6.45 AM. My mind is set to days of the week, rather than hours. It knows that since its Saturday, the sleep hours are extended automatically. With due thanks to my roommate who heard the blaring alarm on my cell-phone and woke me, otherwise, I would have come to office and left immediately after collecting my relieving letter.

Third problem is that no good movie released this week, and the movies being played are all pathetic. So, have absolutely no clue as to what to do with the entire Sunday. Also, I forgot to mention that my apartment does not have a television, and all that is there for entertainment is an old desktop computer without internet. So, you can very well guess why the countdowns and rushes are done on Friday evenings. Also, the IPL has kick-started yesterday, and am missing the good ‘ol TV and cable connection like something misses something (could not think of any example). A Marathi movie called ‘Tingya’ has received good review. Am thinking of going for it, or might go for ‘Race’. (You can now sense my boredom here now).

Fourth problem: The manager before leaving came over and told me that this activity has to be done for next Saturday too. So, I am stuck in Pune for three weeks, back-to-back. This is a record.

Fifth problem is that the sound card of the desktop which I use is really screwed up. The internal circuitry of the sound card has fried. Whenever I play any music or video file, the sounds emitted sound like the ones coming out of Looney Tunes cartoons. It sounds like someone speaking with a very sort throat. So, even though have some movies in the hard-disk here, I can’t watch them, since Amitabh Bachchan sounds like Sreedevi on my desktop.

And last, but not the least problem is the weather. It is so dry and hot here that outside the office premises, it feels like a microwave till 6 PM in the evenings. The mercury touches 40 degree Celsius in the daytime, and there is not much reprieve in the nights.

So, here I am, sitting in front of the computer from 7.15 AM today morning (Saturday morning, for crying out loud). And because it is so hot outside, there is no point in going home too. So, I wrote a long post about it, so as to kill some time.

Would really like some suggestions on ‘How to spend Sundays in a fun way’ though.

**Thrice because, first time I would not have heard it. I would have (sub-consciously) heard it the second time, and then would wait till someone calls one more time, just to confirm whether it is really me that they require. I have had experiences in the past, when I have, without an inkling of the topic, just started blabbering away imagining that someone had called out my name in the meeting.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fantabulous Evening

Pune is a boring city. I know, there are many who have already picked up weapons of their personal choice and are aiming them at me to make me change my statement. But relax; there is no need to get violent here. There is nothing in this world that mature individuals can't sit and discuss or argue about.

Coming back to the evening, like all of days at work in Pune, yesterday too I was wondering as to what to do after 7 PM. And, as luck would have it, I got a brainstorming idea to go for a movie. Now, in today's times, it is very very difficult to decide on which movie to see. And, considering that you are new to the city and you are staying miles out of the city, you have to take the geographic advantage (ok, I know I am being sarcastic here) which you have and make the decision. I finally decided that 'Shaurya' would be a good movie. Yeah yeah, I know it’s an 'inspired' version of 'A Few Good Men', but since the Hollywood version is one of my favourite movie ever, I thought it would be a good idea to watch the Bollywood version and then criticize the Bollywood director for getting it all wrong.

Ok, so now the which-film-to-see issue is settled. I quickly brought my attention to the next issue, which is, which multiplex to watch it at. Did a bit of research on it (thanks to wwwdotpunediarydotcom) and after a couple of phone calls inquiring the route and distance from my office, I settled on Fame Jai Ganesh multiplex (quite a weird name, if you ask me). Other significant issues such as cash-in-pocket (which was less), who-is-accompanying-me and does-the-bike-have-enough-fuel did not matter much, at least at that point of time. So, armed with a little knowledge of the route and limited financial resources and even lesser fuel in the tank, I set off to a evening which I was visualizing as me sitting on a seat which has the best view in the theatre with a popcorn bucket and a large cola and enjoying a Bollywood version of a good Hollywood court drama movie.

People who know me also know how bad the odds are always against me. There is saying in Gujarati that if a man's fate is bad, then a dog will bite him even if he is sitting on a camel (on reading this after typing, it sounded quite funny. But believe me, it sounds better in Gujarati). My fate is so bad, that the dog will definitely bite me even if I am sitting on an elephant with both my legs pulled up, and the dog is a dachshund.

The website informed that the movie is slotted for 8 PM, and my target was to get there before 8 PM. People here whom I had called up earlier to inquire about the route, forgot to mention that the route which they had suggested has an awful lot of traffic which does not move at all and gets stuck at places for hours together. So, after many U-Turns, stops asking for directions, a bit of rash drive, hitting many by-standers with the rear-view mirrors, and some American Driving topped off with thousands of expletives thrown at me, I managed to reach the multiplex at 8.15 PM. I parked the bike and rushed to the ticket window. By rushing, I mean walking at my usual speed, but with a tense expression. We huge people seldom bother walking briskly. Doing anything briskly is against our pride.

I get this very funny weird feeling inside me whenever situations/things are not going to happen the way I anticipate them. This feeling comes just 5 to 10 second before the news is broken to me. And, mind you, this feeling is never wrong. I got the same feeling when the ticket window at the multiplex came into my view. But, as usual, I chose to ignore it. The ticket vendor had a very bored-to-death expressing on his face. It also had a warning to me, that if I bored him a bit more, he would either kill me or himself. Nothing could faze my enthusiasm yesterday though and I, with a triumphant expressing reached the ticket window and said, 'One ticket for Shaurya please'. The ticket vendor without even changing his ever-bored expression, rested his gaze on me and very coolly said, 'Sir, that phillum was chucked out laast week. Carrantly, we have Krajy 4 on. Do you want a ticket for it?'. For a person who has had a very healthy doze of stereotype Hindi movies, this news is akin to the hero getting the news that the girl whom he loved is now married off to the villian. I too, like our Hindi movie hero, wanted revenge and wanted it fast. Phir bhi, I controlled my anger, and walked off cursing wwwdotpunediarydotcom.

Now comes the part two of the awesome evening. I started my bike to ride towards home and then it dawned on to me that the bike has been running on reserve fuel since last
Wednesday, and now all that would be left is the last few drops of fuel in the tank. I opened the tank in the dim-lit parking area, and shook the bike so as to hear the fuel stir, but alas, I heard nothing (ok ok, I know am deaf and hence could not hear much). Saying a silent prayer, I started the bike with hopes in my heart that I will be able to find a fuel pumping station before the tank dries off completely.

Someone has very wisely said, when something begins to go wrong, everything goes wrong, together. This always works for me. I guess, many must have experienced it, but I experience it quite often. Anyways, I drove off in the general direction of my house with hopes of finding a fuel pumping station. After going on for a considerable distance, the bike began to sputter. This is exactly when my prayers began with revered gusto. The sputtering continued for another couple of kilometers before the bike gave up on me completely. I pulled up to the side of the road, and looked around for a pump even though I knew there is none around. I was hoping that my prayers would be answered and it would materialize out of thin air, and was having scenes out of Harry Potter movies playing in my mind. I did the routine of tilting the bike on one side (I used to do that to Humaara Bajaj**, and it used to work), and guess what, it worked. I was able to successfully start the bike and drive it for another 3-4 kilometers before the bike committed Seppuku* again. Now, I asked someone standing nearby for the nearest pumping station, and as luck would have it (in a positive way), the pumping station was just some distance ahead. All I had to do now is to drag the bike for that distance. I thanked the great Almighty, for making the Humaara Bajaj trick work on a bike and reducing the distance of dragging for me. I dragged the heavy bike along with my own weight to the pumping station and got some fuel into the tank. Pretty soon, I was riding towards home.

By the time I reached home, it was almost 10.00 PM. After taking my ritual evening bath, I sat thinking about the evening. I was trying to find out whose fault was it. Was it the fault of the person who had recommended wwwdotpunediarydotcom to me, or was it my fault for not cross checking with the multiplex whether the film was really being played or not, or, was it the fault of the guy who did not give me complete and proper directions. I was actually trying out permutations and combinations of suspects to find the exact culprit. After a lot of thinking I concluded that it did not matter at all. I wanted to spend the evening doing something else other sitting at the office. I did that, and I had fun too. No doubt, the evening had its exciting moments (in the negative sense, of course), but, nonetheless, the evening was fun overall. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I have planned to see the movie today evening. I have fuel in the bike; I know the route to the multiplex and have withdrawn cash today morning from the ATM. Anyone joining me??

* If you open the link, you will see that Wikipedia says that there is no female equivalent to Seppuku. I do not need it, since I own a Bajaj Pulsar, Definitely Male!! Ha Ha...Sad naa ???

** People who have owned any of the Bajaj manufactured scooters will know that to start the engine of the vehicle, one has to tilt the bike to one side before kicking the starter.