Sunday, May 10, 2009


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:


Yes, I am going home.




I stay in T. Nagar.

Best place in Chennai to stay. Very happening.

Tell me about it.

Tell you about what?



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


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


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