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.