Friday, December 5, 2014

Public Peeing


As the title suggests, the blog describes certain things quite explicity. Hence reader discretion is advised. Also, as a guy, I can only provide a guy’s perspective on the subject. Hence, only guys will be able to relate to the stuff written below. However, girls may also choose to read it, to appreciate that things are not as simple as it might seem in our worlds.

One of the most peaceful, stress-relieving and satisfying experiences easily available to a man is the pee break. It is definitely the most underrated of activities performed by man. Tell you why - It provides a moment of solitude and tranquility, bang in the middle of the mayhem in the world that surrounds you. Whatever the headache – a yelling boss, a nagging wife, noisy traffic, crying babies – a loo break is the instant solution. You just let go off things in that one minute (pun intended). There are other times in the day when you are alone, but what’s amazing about peeing is that the mind also lets u off for that brief instant. The brain just switches off. There are no thoughts, no tensions. How often have you heard yourself heave a loud sigh of relief while peeing. Isn’t that just the best feeling! How often have you heard yourself surprisingly humming or whistling a tune while peeing. Man just forgets the world in those few precious seconds.

But things aren’t always that perfect, are they. God always builds in a catch, along with all the enjoyable things he creates. And with this one, its public restrooms. Public restrooms, on most occasions, just screw the entire divine experience - and this pisses me off (no pun intended). Let me start with the rants:

The biggest let down is that it’s “public”. So you have people around -  peeing with you - literally.. standing beside you. If that’s not bad enough, you meet all sorts of wierdos in loos. Let me describe some:

  1. The peeking-peeing-pervert (PPP) :- In a row of 5-10 deserted urinals, the PPP chooses to use the one right adjacent to yours’. There are two types of PPPs:  The first one is more common – The discreet PPP. This type stands next to you and acts super casual as he whistles or hums a tune. He then casually rolls his head in your direction and quickly manages to get a glimpse. While doing so, he pretends as if his motions were completely involuntary, as if he didn’t intend to do so; like he was just swaying his head around and your view happened to come in the way; his expressions quickly change into that of a fake apology for committing an honest mistake, as he quickly finishes his business and walks off.
The second type are extremely rare, but I have had the honour of facing them twice so far  - The shameless PPPs. They will take the spot next to you and will literally bend their heads in your side of the urinal and enjoy a nice undisturbed view, for as long as you want them to. The first time this happened to me, I was so taken aback, I quickly wrapped up my business and ended up draining a few drops in my underpants. When I looked at him, he gave a wide smile back. Now what was the smile supposed to mean – was he happy at what he saw, or was he laughing at the size. The second time I was more prepared. I aggressively shouted at the man “Ae, apna khudka dekh na b***c**d”. He replied with a broad grin “le, tu dekh le”

  1. The spitter – This is the most common set of people. As soon as a spitter unzip his pants, he almost robotically, lets out  a disgusting grunt as he tries to accumulate all the saliva from the surrounding areas of his mouth and then vehemently discharges it into the urinal. I have failed to understand this phenomenon. In fact I encounter spitters so frequently that I have often thought to myself, whether men are programmed that way. Whether they naturally feel a desire to spit before they pee and whether people have taught themselves to control it. But I realized I don’t have any such needs. So what is the purpose that drives the others. Are they merely checking their position, before they shoot the gun.”If I get my saliva at the centre of the urinal, then I am standing correctly, with my thing symmetrically dissecting the urinal. My aim cant go wrong from here”. This might actually help a lot of pot-bellied guys who aren’t able to see their things while they pee right.  Or is this a game they play. After their saliva lingers around in the urinal.. “Okay! My task here is simple. I need to direct my spit into the drain by ably aiming my pee.”
  1. The show-off guy - Who uses none of his hands to hold his thing while peeing. They are either up against the wall, or resting on his back. This ain’t the circus freak, show your talents someplace else. But on a serious note, I would love to see (without actually seeing it) how he manages to pull that off (no pun intended).
  1. The shameless shirt tucker – Who after he’s done urinating, stands in front of the mirror at the wash area (which is almost always right at the entrance of the rest room) and then drops his pants up to his knees, so as to give everyone around a nauseating view of this fat hairy thighs, as he tucks his shirt in. I have seen guys who tuck their vest (baniyan) inside their underpants and then pull the end of vest from the other side (the thigh end) of the underpants, so that it’s tightly tucked in. This is not an exaggeration.
  1. The guiding father - Who keeps giving instructions for everyone around “Ok get your pants off”, “No hold it correctly… no downwards”, “Are you done? Are you sure? Okay, now wait.. shake it off before you pack it in” (Pack it! luggage hai kya uncle)
  1. The busy corporate guy – who holds his cell phone between his shoulder and face, as he talks while he pees. Just one slight error and his phone would be history.
  1. The life’s-too-short-to-waste-time-washing-hands guy – so he wipes them off his trousers.
  1. The conversation starter – you generally meet this guy in a pub. When both of you are more than just-a-few beers down, the guy knows it’s gonna take a long time to empty the tank. And since he’s a little light-headed, he doesn’t mind chatting up. So he starts with random statements like “Wazzup?”, “Crazy night right!”, “Woo.. it’s a fountain down here”, “Wow.. you look stunning…. What you looking at neighbor, I am talking to my d*** here”. I am sometimes this guy, but very rarely. :P
Now that I’ve talked about the people you meet, lets talk about the other things that annoy me:

  1. The Thick Curly Hair (TCH): Invariably, in at least 4 out of 10 urinals, you would find a TCH lingering around. You can’t blame the house-keeping staff for it. In busy places like airports where urinals are utilized almost 100%, there is no time to clean up between people. You can’t blame the guy who dropped it there. I mean, unlike toilets at home, there is no jet spray/ water/ tissues here to clear off the area. The only thing he can try doing, is draining it off with his pee. In fact, that is something we should all attempt to do, as a courtesy to the next guy using the urinal; even if the TCH does not belong to us. I know its disgusting, but someone has to do the job right. Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.
  1. The missing drainage pipe: How often has this happened to you, that you start peeing and you realize that it’s all ricocheting off the floor onto your legs. It is a common occurrence in cheap restaurants, highway restrooms, and rural parts of the country. The problem is that it takes you a while to switch the tap off. Unfortunately, it does not function like an on-off switch. There is a threshold quantity you have to discharge before you are able to stop it. Until then, the damage is done.
  1. The stink
  1. An overdone design /concept: Some fancy restaurants/ hotels look at urinals more as a d├ęcor items than a utility. So you will have things like
    1.  A designer wall with water streaming down on it, to give it a really beautiful look. So there is no urinal, and you are supposed to piss on the wall. Unfortunately, its not effective. Some amount of ricochet is bound to happen.
    1. Disco coloured bright blue/red lighting all over the urinal
    1. Water-free urinals: They put in a blue ball in the urinal, which apparently sucks in all the liquid. An effort to save water, which is well publicized by the hotel in small posters above the urinal.  Doesn’t work. The urinals stink
Overall, I feel that public restrooms cannot replicate even 10% of the experience of peeing in one’s own private space. I hope this blog serves as a good guide for people as well as restroom builders around India, to make the peeing experience as pleasurable as it was meant to be.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Flight Journey

I have done quite a number of flight journeys over the past few years and I realized its altogether a different world at the airport and in the skies. Just sharing a few observations with you. Please note, all of the conversations listed below are absolutely true.

1. People go “Engliss”
All travelers, necessarily, have to speak in English. Be it the 80 year old granny or the middle-aged, pot-bellied, white/grey  safari suit clad, fat mustached baniya.  No matter how bad their English, they have to use it. It’s probably believed to be an unofficial authorization pass. This is an actual conversation I recently heard:
Passenger to air-hostess: Madam, what is length of this flight?
Air-hostess: Umm! Sir, I would have to check with the pilot?
Passenger: How you don’t know length of this flight when you are going up and down on it whole day.
Air-hostess: Sir, I do walk along the aisle whole day, but I have never really measured the length.
Passenger – Looks at me with a surprised smile, wanting to say “Can you believe this!”, but actually blurting out “Whaat is this?”, while his hand rotated  in an anti-clockwise direction in the same way that every Indian’s does when asking the question “kya hai yeh?”
To which I replied: “Dhai ghante mein pahucha degi Delhi”
Passenger: Oh ok. Thank you

I think some Airlines have figured this out and are now trying to avoid such embarrassing situations by mentioning the languages that the cabin crew are conversant with, during the on-board announcement. So they go “Our cabin attendants can speak English, Hindi, Manipuri and Punjabi”… this announcement  on a Chennai to Coimbatore flight. J Yeah right..that will surely help a lot.

But the CISF guys are like rebels in the lot. They never give up  Hindi.
 A CISF guard says to a foreigner standing in front of me at the security gate “Mobile, purse bag mein daaliye.”
The guy is totally confused. He figures from the guard’s body language and quickly puts his cell phone in the bag.
Guard : “Purse Bhi”
Guy : “Huh”
Guard “Purse, daalo yaar, purse”
I whisper into the guy’s ears, “your wallet”. The guy - embarrassed by his own stupidity for not realizing what he meant, and tensed by the hostility of the guard, is almost peeing in his pants by then, but manages to move along.
I, being a smart-ass, go up to the CISF guy and say “Sir, woh shayad Russian tha. Usko Hindi nahi aati”. To which the guard replies “Toh mene Ke Russian mein baat karni usse.”.. J

2. But the CISF guys do have a sense of humour
Try interacting with the CISF guards. They are always quick to reply with a hilarious one-liner. Once, at the entry gate the guard took a long look at my photo ID and then looked at me, back and forth. He said “Yeh photo ID kaam nahi karega. Aapke photo mein aapke sar ke upar ek bada black spot hai”. He smiled and let me through. He was of course referring to my long-lost hair.

3.And the air-hostesses/stewards are dumb
It feels like they have been given a pre-defined script which they have mugged-up entirely. The script also consists of answers to standard questions. So if you ask an off-beat question, expect a complete bouncer reply. The following happened to me once when I was sitting at the Emergency Door window seat.
An attractive air-stewardess (whom I mentally rated a modest 8 on 10 on looks :P) approached me and  briefed me on the procedures to open the door. She ended with “Are there any questions, sir?”
To which I smiled and jokingly said “No. Sounds pretty cool. I can open the door whenever I feel stuffy and wanna let some fresh air in”. The lady went completely berserk. She shook her head from left to right furiously and said “No, no sir. Did I not tell you, not to open the door unless instructed by the cabin crew”. (And that is when the rating suddenly slipped from 8 to 2)

4.       People go “Courteous”
All of a sudden you hear a deluge of THANK YOUs and SORRYs and PLEASEs. You begin to wonder – Are we in India? The same guy, who outside the airport, snubs  his cab driver’s “Thank You Sir” by saying   “Haan haan, theek hai, theek hai.. Paise rakho”, says to the Air-hostess “Madam, can I habe a glass of water pleeje” . Yes, and its always Madam -Not even a Ma’am, or a “Oh Hello” or a “Ae Shook Shook” or a “Smoochhh Smoochh” (The last one is the Mumbai style of calling for waiters. Very unique… No combination of letters can accurately describe that sound.)

5.       It’s a race
When people enter airports, they see it as a race in ‘Takeshi’s Castle’ (remember, the TV game where you bounce off cushioned walls and obstacles). They see the multiple check points as some sort of obstacles; and crossing all of that to reach the airplane in the least possible time as the only little adventure left in their lives. So they plan their every move  like.. Join the shortest queue while checking in; load mobiles and purses in their bags even before they join the security check queues, try to shove their bags before everyone else’s through the x-ray; get a seat closest to the exit gate; and lastly, the dumbest of all – stand in a long queue at the exit gate 10-15 minutes before the scheduled boarding time. Can’t they see they are all boarding the same flight which will depart at the same time for everyone. It’s like they are all on this secret mission – The Be-the-first-one-on-the- plane Mission.

I too, have played this race a couple of times. Just to see what its all about. But I play it slightly smarter. See, people don’t get it that the first one in the queue, is the first one on the bus, but the last one off it; because he gets shoved to the back. So, I time my entry into the boarding queue in such a way that I am about the 40th-50th passenger in it – in effect, I am the last one on the bus and the first one off it.. Genius. Come to think of it, It is kinda fun. Which I realize means that my life has slowly but surely – started to suck too. :P

But the race isn’t over at boarding the aircraft. The worst of it is when the plane lands. All the people stand up in a flash – desperate to get off the plane. Even the 6 feet tall guys at the window seats stand; with their backs bent uncomfortably (so as to avoid the overhead compartment).. their faces trying to avoid the next guys back-sides. But they dare not sit back.
That is one main reason why I hate the aisle seat. The guy next to me is always so eager to get off. If you keep sitting, he keeps getting frustrated. And trust me, because I have tried this. He would keep staring at you, making faces, getting restless; I can almost hear him saying to himself  “What is wrong with this person (me). Is he not aware of the secret mission. The Be-the-first-one-off-the-plane Mission. I am going to lose for sure now, thanks to this moron.”
The gaze is so unbearable that you have to get up in guilt. If you still persist and not get up, then he would nudge you on your arm and say “Please, Excuse”. Which is the ‘courteous’ way of saying “Arre Pudhe sarka (or Arre aage badho)”. So then you finally give-in and stand… between all the bodies, shoving and rubbing against you – for an eternity –waiting for the plane door to open. The most terrible experience.  I have never tried to win this race for sure.. J


From all of the above and many such weird experiences, I have begun to believe that there exists a rule book being circulated around titled – Dos and Don’ts at Indian Airports: The Essential Guide. And I am determined to find this book, so that I can study it and behave appropriately in this mad-house alien world.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Have You Wondered Series - The Hotel Room


Has anyone wondered about the weird things placed in a hotel room? I think these things have been so prevalent in hotel rooms, that new hoteliers feel that not having them will somehow affect their star ratings. No one cares to think why these items were placed in the first place.  Let me elaborate:

There is generally an electronic vault in the wardrobe with a fancy note beautifully placed above it which says something like “At Royal Resorts we care for the safety of your belongings. Hence each room is equipped with the finest quality vault. However, we are not responsible for any loss or thefts. (Huh!!). We suggest, if you have anything very precious to you, please hand it over at the reception. We have special vaults at the reception which will ensure the safety of your valuables. Once again, the hotel management is not responsible for any loss. (Are you kidding me!!)” Well thanks being honest about the honesty of your staff. That was very reassuring to hear on the first day of my stay.

And how about trying to get into the bed. The blankets are so tightly tucked in. Its like the housekeepers are trying to tell you “Its for your own good; so that you don’t fall of the bed” or “I just made the bed today, I don’t wanna redo it tomorrow” or “I did a great job, you jackass, how about you try ‘n lose some fat first”

And finally, the bathroom. The moment you enter the bathroom, you notice the huge mirror across the length of the room. Does anyone really enjoy looking at their naked self? I guess the beer-bellied guys won’t mind. It helps them keep a check on how their ‘thing’ is doing (FYI… I ain’t one of them). But seriously. What purpose does it serve. I could think of only one purpose; and I can tell you this because I tried it. You can actually play a game in there. Try peeing while looking in the mirror. It’s a complete mindf*** to get the aim right. Or probably I felt that way cause I was a bit too wasted.

And the weirdest part.. A telephone – placed right adjacent to the pot. Whenever I see that, I hope none of my friends call me from in there. I can imagine how the conversation would go:
V: Hello Ojas
O: Hey Vinit, How are you doing?
V: MMMhhh.. my situation is a bit tight right now.
O: Why? What happened?
V: There is this thing stuck inside of me.. MMHh. Just can’t get it out.
O: Oh. I know how you feel man. It’s sometimes very tough to let people know how you feel. But it hurts to keep such things inside. And it doesn’t help the relationship.
V: The relationship? Anyway, so what do you do in such situations.. MMhh
O: You gotta get it out of you no matter what the consequences. Just go for it man.  Don’t let emotions bog you.
V: Emotions? You mean pain?
O: Yeah. The pain. Go for it dude. Focus. Try real hard.
V: Ok Let me try.. MMMMMMhh
O: WTF.
Time to hang up.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Duck vs. Pancho


Disclaimer: if any word in the below mentioned blog seems incomprehensible, kindly replace a few letters with letters that make sense in an expletive way. Considering the sanctity of public forums, I am bound to not use such words explicitly. For starters, try decoding the Title. If you are unable to do so now, you are probably incompetent to read the content below and hence are urged not to waste any further time reading it.

The inspiration for this blog came from a colleague who, very comfortably and casually, uses the word “Duck”. The word flows in her language as naturally as she breathes air. During general chit-chat with her one fine day, I happened to use the word “Khufiya”. She was utterly disgusted with the use of such an “obscene and gross and vulgar” term. I initially apologized for my crime, but she went on profusely about the usage of the word and its inappropriateness. This got me heated up and we ended up with a lengthy argument; that and an inspiration for a new blog.

The above mentioned incident is not the first one I have had. Over the past few years, I have observed tremendous amount of discrimination against our national language, within our generation, with respect to the use of profanities. It makes me wonder why there is such a tremendous bias towards the duck. Mother duck and Sister duck in all senses, tenses and usages have the same meaning as Macho and Pancho. When a guy uses a Duck, he’s considered to be cool, but if the same guy uses a Pancho, he’s considered ugly. Why the difference? Are we so gung-ho about the English language?

Personally, I am a staunch supporter of Hindi (even though I am not very good at it J) especially when it comes to profanities. The amount of diversity and flexibility provided by Hindi swearwords is in no dimension even comparable to what the fragile Duck provides. Let me tell you my journey from introduction to casual acquaintance to deep friendship with Hindi and its expletives.

When I joined engineering and was surrounded by Hindi speaking folks I first heard the words Pancho and Macho (seriously, at the age of 17). I was initially taken aback by its perverted meaning, but was later explained how it is casually used as a manner of speaking and not meant literally. Through the first 6 months, I observed as people used these words in different contexts, to mean different things; I was shocked; amazed by the wide applicability of these words. It was probably during the fag end of my first year that I introduced these words into my vocabulary. And since then, there has been no looking back.

My personal favorite has always been Pancho. I have been widely criticized and appreciated for my frequent usage of the word, of course by different sets of people. Let us see how Pancho is a useful word to express various emotions.

EMOTION
PANCHO
Anger
Pancho!!
Shock
Pehen…cho!! (wish there was a way to record sound on this)
Dismissal
Bhak Pancho!
Trouble
Pen chu gayi
Aggression
Pancho!

 As you can see from the simple analysis above, Pancho can be used in different contexts to express various deep emotions which are extremely difficult to express otherwise.

Hence, I urge everyone to freely use Hindi profanities in their daily conversations. They complete some of the most messed up as well as some happy moments of your life. If you are uncomfortable using such words, please try to accept them as a way to express one’s feelings and not interpret it literally; the same way all of you have casually made room for Ducks in your life, please don’t forget the home grown Pancho.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

CHEN-NAHI

Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed in the post are based on my personal experiences and observations and need not be considered as facts. People who have stayed here may not agree with some things and not find Chennai as attractive as mentioned below.

 I have been to a lot of places around India over the past few years: places as remote as chhatissgarh, orrisa, UP n Bengal and as happening as Bangalore, Mumbai, delhi and Calcutta. But of all the places, I find Chennai the most exciting. Each day I spend over here, I find out something that creates a mystery in my mind. Hence I call it ‘Chein Nahi’–there is no time for your mind to relax’. When you are here, you feel like you are on one of those adventurous trips when you don’t know whats gonna surprise you next, but are eagerly waiting for it to hit you. I’ll tell you why:

LANGUAGE: Its truly mystical. The way they speak it and the speed in which they speak it, its amazing. I think Tamil can enter into the book of world records for the fastest language in the world. Atleast it sounds like that. The intriguing thing about it is, one can never make out when one word ends and the other word starts. There is only a single pause after the completion of the entire sentence. Your mind then briefly wonders whether that thing you heard was a sentence or just a really long word.

Sometimes I can’t distinguish between the repetitive cracking sound made by the Mentos packing line, where dozens of pieces of candy fall from the conveyer belt on the steel below and the sound made by the two workers  standing by the line. But if you listen very carefully to two people conversing in Tamil, you can find some words that are similar to your language. And you get so excited when such words come up, that you listen to the entire conversation intently, thinking that you can now decipher the entire speech. I can easily relate to many of their words to Marathi or Hindi. Words like “vaanga” or “teri ma”. But sadly I later find out that those words have totally different meanings. ‘Vaanga’ in Tamil means ‘come’, and in Marathi means ‘brinjal’. ‘teri ma’ in Tamil means ‘i don’t know’ (or probably ‘i know’ not sure), but in hindi it means ‘your mom’. .” ‘Rand’ stands for ‘two’ in Tamil. I don’t need to tell you guys what I initially thought it meant. I love these word so much, I frequently use them. Whenever a person speaks to me in Tamil I reply with a smile: “Tamil teri maa” and I push in a hushed “ki” at the end. Sometimes I order two samosas or two puffs or two soaps or anything, just for the fun of using that word.  

One would also love the way Tamilians repeat a word a zillion times while talking. This phenomena is commonly observed when they use the word ‘sarry’ or ‘amma’.

When taking instructions from a boss, the sub-ordinate keeps furiously nodding his head and says: “sarry, sarry, sarry, sarry, sarry.” These people are very obedient and apologetic. Like all the other English words that they mispronounce, I presume its how they say sorry.

Everyone knows the meaning of the second word. It means ‘mother’. What surprises me is the number of times they remember their moms during the day. After every five minutes the guy to the left of me goes “ama ama ama ama amma.”

One can get confused in their words, but one can never stop appreciating the novel way in which they have managed to reduce unnecessarily long English questions by just adding the suffix ‘aa’. This is a common conversation I have with any colleague, when I leave for home from office:

Goingaa?

Yes, I am going home.

Homeaa?

Yes

Whereaa?

I stay in T. Nagar.

Best place in Chennai to stay. Very happening.

Tell me about it.

Tell you about what?

Nothing.

Trainaa?

Yes. I travel the first leg of my journey by the staff bus, and then I take a train from Perungallatur.

Mambalamaa?

Yes Mambalam. That’s where I need to get down to go to T. Nagar.

Then aa?

Then I take a 15 minutes walk to my place.

Ayyo. 15 minutes aa ? Yokay. Go.

 

(for more on this, refer to the previous post BAC, 2nd last para, Theory of Mispronouncing Acceptances)

 

One other interesting thing I noticed is the way they spell, or rather misspell their names. It entertains you, in a way. The use of the letters H and G is not where it should be, but where it shouldn’t be. I think Tamilians have been fond of anagrams for a very long time, and hence like to carry it in their names. I’ll give you an example:

The HR in-charge of me here is Sakunthala. And she likes to be called Saku (thats the way she spells it). So I start calling her Saku, as in Saku Bai (what a funny name, right!!) After two days, she finally corrects me: “Actually Ojhas, its not Saku its Shaku, from Shakuntala.” I reply “ Oh yes, ofcouse. How stupid of me.”

Then she takes down my phone number on her diary and writes my name in big letters “OJHAS: 9500145404.” Its my turn now. I say:

O: Its actually Ojas, not Ojhas.

S: ya.. that’s what I have written, O J H A S.

O: Its Ojas, without the H.

S: Oh. Yokay. Sarry sarry sarry sarry. (she cancels the H) Its Ojhas aa?

O: (I give up) Yes. Its Ojas

 

Now, the G. Some Tamilians have a problem with pronouncing any word which has an H in the middle. Instead they pronounce it as G (which is very surprising, since they use H so extensively in any proper noun they have. “Thambaram, Ojhas, Sangeetha.” ) So a Rohit will be called Rogit and Rahul will be called Ragul. The first time I heard it, I started wondering whether they even laugh in that same manner “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.” But no, they manage to pull that off, pretty well. I still think they have to make a conscious effort to blurt out a socially acceptable laugh. Otherwise they would end up sounding like the not-so-white Zoozoos of Vodafone. 

 

Another strange thing I observed here is that people call each other Tambi. We used that term in college to describe Tamilians but it was always viewed as a derogatory remark and Tamilians took it offensively. But here, they are pretty cool about it, if one of their own calls them that. It maybe something like the term Nigger – they can call themselves that, but you can’t. It becomes a racist remark. I wonder if there is a relation between African American and Tamilians.

 

The best part about all this language issue is that you can go on blabbering in your own language anywhere, be it in buses, trains, and feel secure that no one around you is going to understand a thing. It is a great feeling to openly curse some stranger when you are angry at him, without fearing the consequences. The only thing is that you need to keep a smile on your face while saying it.

2. WEATHER: As a kid I always wanted a swimming pool at my home in which I could lie in, all day long. But in Chennai, such a luxury is provided naturally. The moment you step out of your artificially cooled room/office, your body gets covered with a thick layer of perspiration. Its like you are always wet (not in that sense guys.. but literally, like in a pool)   It helps keep your body cool and it gives you excuse to do two things you will love doing in this weather. One – get a cold shower 3-4 times a day. It’s one of the best feelings you can experience in your lifetime. Two – turn on the a/c anytime without having your roomies complaint about saving on the electricity bills.

FOOD: The variety in food here cannot be matched by any other place in India. For lunch we normally have sambar-rice. But hold on..If you are thinking thats monotonous, you must check out the varieties of sambar they create. One can find all shades or sambar, falling in the range of yellow to orange to red to brown colours. Thats not all. They use the most innovative techniques to add more variety. One day you’ll find Aalo in it, next day Muli, next day Brinjal, drum sticks and the list goes on. Never have I tasted the same sambar twice in a week. Isn’t that an achievement! But if you still think you’ll be bored with the sambar-rice everyday, no fear. You can have any of the following:  rasam-rice, curd rice, tamarind rice, tomato rice, lemon rice, khaara bhaat(salty rice), kesari bhaat(saffron rice without saffron in it, but the colour is saffron or red or yellow or pretty much any colour you like).

That was for lunch. For breakfast and evening snacks, I don’t need to elaborate. You are already aware of the variety available. You have zillion types of Dosas, idlies, wada, appam, uttapam, appam etc. The best part about this is, that you will find a shop selling all these items in almost every road side corner, about 100 metres from each other. Getting a dosa in Chennai is easier than finding Bhel puri in Mumbai or beer in Goa. They will hold an extremely tiny Thela on which they manage to make all the above mentioned items. The best part is that you will find a large crowd gathered around each of those Thelas. There is some good quality Operations learning for me from those Thelas for sure.

In MBA, we are taught a lot about customising one’s products to suit the local needs. You might not find a better example of it than that seen in North Indian food in Chennai. In whichever dish you order, be it Chicken, Paneer, samosas or even Puffs; you will find one common ingredient which you will have to pull out from your mouth the moment it goes in – A long Daalchini or Kadipatta leaf. Talk about customisation. But, I wonder why our cook does it.

The discipline followed by shop-keepers here is also commendable. Come what may, all stores close by 10 PM. (Yeah. .even the liquor stores) Now, who doesn’t enjoy a long drive of about 10 kms to the other end of Chennai late at 11.00 PM for dinner. And when the car is not available, we enjoy the half hour walk too, cause it increases our appetite for the Kadipatta stuffed, sambar-like tasting, red-coloured delicious biryani that awaits us.

DAARU: You will not face any problem getting access to the most primary needs of man- Alcohol. Wine store owners save you the trouble of wasting time on deciding which brand to buy, by stocking only one or two brands of each type. They also make sure that they have the most value-for-money brand available with them – Old Secret (no.. not Old Monk dumbo. Thats the name.. Old Secret)is the highest selling dark rum, McDowell’s the highest selling whiskey. The only beers they keep in the refrigerator are Madras Pilsner and Kalyani (no.. thats not a dance bar or a dance bar girl). But for the affluent classes they also keep expensive brands like Haywards and Kingfisher in the warehouse. Served nice and hot, like soup. And if you still want something more royal then you can of course go for Romanov or Royal Challenge or Old monk.

You might think that the 10 PM closing time is a problem, but italso turns out to be an advantage in a way. Because if you ever wanna buy booze after 10 in Chennai, you get the once in a life-time opportunity of staying a long queue of losers, playing dumb charades with the shop owner through a small opening in the gate and paying 100 bucks for the weirdest tasting beer ever -Kalyani (which I get a feeling is what carbonated piss would taste like. That would explain their cheap rates. Cost saving manufacturing process)

Even though there is lot more to be discovered about this wonderful land, I would prefer to stay in a more “not- happening” location than Chennai as my mind cannot handle all the excitement that comes its way. It needs time to relax too. But I recommend each one of you to visit this majestic land or God’s neighbour’s (the Devil’s) own country for atleast two months in the peak holiday season from April to May when you can truly enjoy your stay thanks to the weather. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The History of a Civilisation

Antonius was walking down the long wide road that led to his house, as usual, carrying the daily supply of food for his family. As he walked slowly but cautiously, he always couldn’t resist looking around him and viewing the once grand city of Restoria. It had once been the dream home of millions, the hub for trade and the centre of all civilisations. The geographical benefits of the place had made it an ideal location to setup home. It had perennial water sources and cheap & abundant availability of raw material required for construction. But most importantly, its proximity to the sacred hill of Kachupia was its main attraction.

Kachupia was a truly unique and magical hill forest. Its uniqueness was that the food supply in the forest never seemed to end. Restorians would daily collect large chunks of healthy and protein-rich food from the hill, and find more food in the same areas the next day. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables were present, but more surprisingly, restorians occasionally also found dead meat in these forests. Popular myths and folk lore said that when the Gods were pleased they would shower their blessings by serving meat to them. Some Restorians also claimed to have seen food falling from the sky when dark. But a lot of them had lost their lives in the quest for the answer and so now the society did not wish to anger the Gods by being over-inquisitive, but blindly believed in His grace.

The entire civilisation was based around Kachupia, and since the civilisation itself was so different, occupations of members varied significantly from what our traditional civilisations had. The major occupations could be classified into three categories which later formed the basis of a caste system in the town. The caste in order of their increasing importance was as follows:

The Labourers: their main task was collection of food from Kachupia and transporting it to the city. Labourers were also involved in construction of complexes in and around the town. This involved manual transportation of raw material as well. The Labourers’ job was one which required immense physical strength but little mental acumen. Hence this caste received the least importance.

The traders: they received the food from the labourers and distributed all over town and to traders of other towns and cities, who would travel a large distance for the high quality imports they would receive from Restoria. A special fruit, called Mesucro by locals, was particularly highly popular because of its unique crystalline shape and consistent sweet taste. A Barter exchange system existed with prices set for different forms and quantities of food.

The nobles: a very stable monarchy had been established and Restorians were proud of it. The Queen was the supreme authority, followed by the King. There were also ministers who advised the couple in decision making. Decisions were largely centred on infrastructure related projects – where to set up the residential and commercial complex? Whether to establish new routes to Kachupia? How much to invest on discovery of new lands? And so on.

Antonius was a noble and was highly respected in the community. He had now grown very old and had seen it all – the steady rise and the abrupt fall of the once great civilisation. He sometimes could not believe his own eyes when he saw the destruction around him. The beautifully carved buildings had crumbled to dust, the roads were totally deserted and the market which was once so bustling with activity was silent. And every time, everyday he walked down this road from Kachupia to his home, his mind wandered to the same thing. How did it happen?

He knew that all the damage was done by the worst forms of storms and rainfall ever seen, which caused heavy floods and deaths. But the question that was really bothering Antonius was that why did the Gods decide to terminate His most loved town out of the blue. What action of Restorians might have infuriated the Gods to this extent? He thought about this for a great extent and came to the conclusion that the biggest fallacy Restorians had ever committed was divisions on the basis of caste and race, which were created on the pretext of God to serve their selfish needs. Their bold decisions to set up grand homes and large roads had led to the deaths of hundreds of innocent labourers too. Discrimination against the other race was also something Antonius was deeply repenting. They always used a derogatory term to describe the other race – Niggers.

The niggers were black in colour and were physically fitter than the Restorians, but relatively less aggressive, rather very docile and peace-loving. They were the native inhabitants of the land which is now called Restoria. They were the discoverers of Kachupia and dedicatedly worshipped it. But they did not set up grand towns and large homes. Instead they preferred to stay in caves as a symbol of humility to the Gods who had graced them. Restorians launched an aggressive attack on the niggers. This was totally unexpected and the niggers were forced to flee. Antonius remembered his and his compatriot’s arrogant thinking at that time. They had then justified this act by claiming that it was God’s wish. God wanted to see His most wonderful creation being efficiently utilised. The niggers were fools not to make the most of the area, and they had to be removed.

How much Antonius was regretting having those thoughts now. Maybe all God wanted was for us to stay in peace and harmony and look what we have achieved in the name of God. Just as he said those words in his mind, he heard the thundering sound that had become so familiar to him over the last few days. He was surprised by the sudden change of weather and knew for sure that it was divine intervention. He had also made sure to note the time of the earlier storms. They had all occurred in the mornings. He had made it a point to not step out of his home during mornings and hence had shifted his daily trip to Kachupia to evenings.

He quickly grasped the symptoms of a storm and started hurrying his pace to reach home. He still could not see his home ahead, which meant that he had a lot of running to do. Being old, he could not run at a pace he ran when he was young and had fought that momentous battle against the niggers, but he tried using all his energy. His efforts appeared to be in vain as the first drops of water fell behind him. The rain now had got to him, and it was the heaviest he had ever been under. A feeling of agony quickly rushed through his body as the water started accumulating at a rapid pace on the road. He ran frantically but finally the Gods had him. The water was now up to his body and he could not do much but swing his arms and legs profusely to try and keep his head above the water. But the water was not only gaining height, it was also flowing at a very fast speed, down slope towards the cliff from where most of his comrades had fallen off and lost their lives in the huge waterfall and the pool of water under it. Antonius had closed his eyes and submitted himself to The Almighty’s wish. Flowing towards the cliff, he knew that it was his punishment for his cruelties against the other race during his younger years and had accepted his fate. He had lost two of his sons in similar fashion during one of the previous storms and thought that he was now going to them. He opened his eyes now and could hazily see the cliff ahead of him, amidst the splashes of water. He prepared himself for the plunge. As he approached the edge, the flow of water was so powerful, that he flew off the land and in mid-air his body turned around facing the heavens. He looked up at the sky as he was falling into the abyss, and just before he was going to be immersed in the pool forever, he saw the strangest thing. A towering figure stretched from the ground to the heavens, standing firm, under the rain that had destroyed everything. It was the figure of “GOD”, Antonius screamed aloud. And with those words, he went deep into the pool and never came back.

I stood there, under the shower, smiling at Antonius, the last red ant amongst the hundreds that had invaded my rest room and made it their home. I noticed that until a month ago, I never had a pest problem in my bathroom. Previously, I only had a few black ants moving around. But they were probably smart enough to hide themselves. But, after I returned from my month long vacation, I noticed that a long queue of red ants had formed from the dustbin right outside my bathroom, to the corner of a bathroom where there was a decorative ant hill. With immense pleasure, I sprayed strong gushes of water on their sweet little homes and on their long queues to the dustbin, every time I took a bath. I had finally managed to kill them all. Barring Antonius’ family I suppose.

Sitting on toilet pots throughout my life I have observed a lot of ants and how they operate. I would like to mention some of the observations that helped me cook this story up. These are not facts, just general observations which may not necessarily be true.
· Black ants move faster than red ants.
· Black ants hardly bite. They are more lovable as they tickle you whenever they move over you. On the contrary, red ants are aggressive and tend to bite as soon as they get on you.
· I have never seen an ant hill made by black ants.
· Ants can float on water but generally struggle to get out of a pool of moving water if stranded in there for too long. Ants can however manage to get out of stable water bodies (like water in a bucket) by swimming hard.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

BAC

Whenever its extremely late and I am unable to find sleep, my mind always drifts to the same issue: where am I heading with whatever it is I am doing.. or rather not doing. The mind, I realised, becomes extremely philosophical during such times. I can’t help contemplating as to how efficiently I have managed to utilise my time for the past six months to do absolutely nothing.  I believe that doing nothing is far more difficult than doing something. And “bekaar-ing” is an art which one learns only after tedious practice at laziness.

But sadly, such unorthodox thinking is always rebuked in its early stages as is the case with Einstein, Copernicus and MAKKU RAJA (Baba). I know I am ahead of my times when I stated the theory of “bekaar-ing”, and I realised that I needed to come up with something orthodox; something which will be appreciated by these minions who will read my blog, So that I am appreciated and gain fame during this lifespan.

So here it is. My grand idea. Its called BAC. This is an initiative I have taken with the help of some friends. It is in its nascent stage but it sure promises to be a major success. We have formed a group which is the most dynamic, energetic, enthusiastic group in the college. It requires shear dedication and commitment from members towards its rules and policies. Members, otherwise believed to be laid-back or lazy, are encouraged to take initiatives, organise, MANAGE and convince more people to join in their venture. 

Before I tell you what BAC stands for, a little GK. WIPRO actually stands for Western India vegetable products (or something very similar.. very sleepy to remember), because it started off by producing sunflower oil. But now is a conglomerate of various industries.

BAC stands for Boozers’ Association of C division. It is a misnomer similar to that of WIPRO. BAC was initiated with the intention of organising booze parties, mobilising more section C-ites to such parties, and finding appropriate venues for such events of social gathering. Even though these are still some of the objectives of BAC, they are not the only ones. BAC has extended its arms to various other activities which give members opportunities to test their managerial acumen by organising what they feel like.

We have pondered over a name change, however, we have realised that most of the policies that frame BAC are pretty similar to the characteristics of alcohol. Also most of the groups formed under BAC have been by fellow enthusiast members, under the influence of alcohol. Freedom is a word easily associated with alcohol, and hence is BAC’s core principle: “give freedom to members to do whatever they wish”. Till date BAC has established its various subsidiaries as follows:

1.     1.  BAC

Manager: Mr. Atul Bajaj                                Alias: Bajaj Sahab, Bada Sahab

                    Mr. Rajiv Chowdhari                   Alias: Raj Sahib, Baablya, Rajiv G*M*kar

Mission: As explained above

Progress: the group started off with only 3 core-committee members in a dingy restaurant in Andheri (E). Today, it has grown to unimaginable proportions with the last party being conducted at a posh venue (Amby Valley- ignore spelling mistakes) with a record 18 members. The group is constantly flooded with requests for entry, and managers are dong a good job of letting them pour in.

 

2.    2.   BC group –

Manager: Mr. Gaurav Kumar Srivastava    Alias: Supandi, GK

Mission:To expose all the wrong-doings by section C-ites by means of photographs, mails, rumours, and traditional style g- maarna

Progress: the group has come-up with a unique logo for itself, which is still under reconsideration by the BAC core committee and is likely to be changed. Currently looking for an equally wierd alternate logo. The group has also formed a google group where exchanges of mails, photos and e-BakC***i takes place.

 

3.     3.  Khel Kida –

Manager: Mr. Varun Sharma                      Alias: Sir Chappu, Chulli, Lala Lajpat Rai

Mission: to find a suitable ground in Mumbai for sports.

Activities: Organising various sporting events by finding suitable locations. Encouraging or rather pestering people to come and play these sports.

Progress: Various cricket matches have been organised in plush locations such as Sai Suraj Apartments, and VPSG(Vile parle sarkari Grounds). This group has also surprisingly picked up tremendous pace with the last game of cricket being played by 16 males and a female (who is unfortunately everyone’s sister).

 

4.      4. Gas Tours & Travels-

Manager: Mr. Prashant Sukhwani           

Alias: Bandra Gas Tragedy (surprisingly, BAC members have not come up with good aliases. Has been noted as top priority)

Mission: Visit all weekend destinations around Mumbai in the span of two years.

Activities: Organising trips to weekend destinations near Mumbai. Getting as many C-ites involved in it as possible.

Progress: thanks to immense efforts by group manager, successful trips to Lonavla-Matheran, Alibagh, Ganpatipule have been organised. An adventure camp is also due.

 

5.      5. ShabdKosh-

Ad-Hoc Managers: Mr. Varun Sharma & Mr. Gaurav Kumar

Mission: to spread awareness of our national language – Hindi – amongst youth and section C-ites in particular. To formulate a English-Hindi-English dictionary

Activities: this in true sense is the literary group in BAC. It focuses on finding appropriate hindi words for english words which do not have an existence in hindi, conversing in shudh hindi (not using a single word of English or any other language including Urdu).

Progress: what started off as light fun has gathered some serious clout and its influence is ever-increasing. The brain-child of the ad hoc managers mentioned above, we are now looking for a person with a command over the language to take over the reins. Mr. Archit Chaurashia* is the prime contender.

 

[*the spelling mistake with ‘Sh’ in Chaurashia is intentional to point out another theory. I call it The Theory of Mispronouncing Acceptances. Consider that the dialect of hindi prevalent in Banaras use ‘sa’ instead of ‘sha’. So it is highly probable that words originating from that region may have been intended to be pronounced with the ‘sha’ in it, but due to the inherent dialect were always pronounced as ‘sa’. So for all we know, Chaurasia might as well have been Chaurashia. 

Consider another example. In south india, Makkus( Madras Andhra Karnataka Kerala Union- should not be considered as a racist remark, but only as a widely accepted acronym) have a tendency to ask a question by suffixing the vowel ‘aa’ at the end. So instead that of asking “Is your name Ram?”, they’d say “Rama?”. Or “Did you have lunch” would be “lunchaa?”

That would explain, by the theory of mispronouncing acceptances, a lot of names being spelt with a ‘a’ suffixed to them. Eg. Rama, Laxmana, Ramana.

And probably Dosa and Wada’s original names would’ve been Dos n Wad.

There are numerous such examples in each language/dialect]

 

So here we have it... BAC. It is the ideal group to be a part of, for all people like us, who still wonder what they do with their spare time. People who do not want to change their lifestyle, but still regret not doing anything in life. BAC is the best place for “value-addition” by conducting events, mobilising people without actually doing much work.

 

So come be a part of this soon to be phenomenon.

 

Note: look out for the next article on rules and policies of BAC.

Other core committe members, without whose support and ideas BAC wouldnt have been poosible:

Gautam Luach Alias: Luhach Sahab, Jijaji

MayankBharadwaj Alias: Pappu, Bill French

K. A Subrahmanyam Alias: Subbu, Sagar, Anant, Kompella etc.

Sumit Singh Alias: Surdas