And justice for all

April 13, 2009

Ever wondered, the age old adage in Hindi – “Laalach buri bala hai“? Time and again, it makes me realize that these adages were drafted by more smarter individuals in the past and lesser mortals of today should start following them almost blindly. Else, the results could lead to situations that people call ’embarassing’. Not sure what I would call that.

On my way back from a recent trip to Rajasthan, I had to board my flight at Ahmedabad. The flight was Kingfisher Red and the scheduled departure of the flight was at 6 o’clock in the morning. (I am emphasizing on the word RED to clear all the misconceptions, because I still can’t afford to fly the Mallaya’s original Kingfisher. I am one of those souls who, if offered discount on air travel, would be happy to travel standing throughout the journey, even along side the aircraft’s toilet. The great Indian railway has made me immune to all the possible smells that one could possibly bear)

I reached Ahmedabad at four in the morning in a half sleepy, sandwiched state in one of those awefully uncomfortable night buses that are termed as “deluxe”, “luxury”, “superfast”, “night special”, with just enough leg space to accomodate a 5 year old kid, but definitely not an adult. The icing in the cake was provided by few gujju bhai with their mobile phones that played non stop music whole night, paying rich tributes to the legends of 80’s music (the Jitendra, Jaya Prada era where lyrics like “tohfa tohfa” caused a mass hysteria and Mithun da ruled the silver screen with his “jimmy jimmy” act)

It was a hopping flight with a stoppage at Mumbai. I wasn’t aware that they would serve breakfast, for they never did so when it was Deccan. Soon, the Lady in Red came up and handed me the packed breakfast that contained some stuff like doughnut, fruit juice, salads, ketchup and a cheese spread . Well, I am one of those good hygiene conscious guys who are averse to eating anything without doing their morning rituals of “you know what” ;-). Though I was craving to have a bite, I reluctantly decided to keep my resolution till I reached Bangalore and didn’t eat anything. Everyone around was happily munching and burping and I cursed the Marwari bhai, sitting on the aisle seat who ate his daughter’s doughnut as well. I decided, when nobody would be watching, I would silently slip all the breakfast stuff inside the polybag that I was carrying as the hand baggage and eat it afterwards.

Not aware of the reason, but we were asked to board a different aircraft at Mumbai. In the midst of the chaos that prevails while people get down from the aircraft, I took advantage of the confusion and quickly moved all the stuff inside the polybag. I felt happy for this accomplished mission, greeted the Lady in Red and moved out like a king, as if I had achieved something Indian Soccer team had never dreamt of. I got inside the bus that took us to board the new aircraft. Excited with my great achievement, I hurriedly peeked inside the polybag, but missed the correct angle and the whole of cheese spread fell on to my blue jacket. Gosh!! I was dumbstuck. I prayed to God to end this world at that moment, but nothing happened. Drop by drop, it spoilt my jacket completely. I took my jacket off, folded it like a gunny bag and imperiously stuffed it inside the polybag. But along with this ‘white lining’, came a silver lining as well, when I realized that it was the last seat of the bus and luckily for me, nobody had noticed 😉

In the new aircraft, another Lady in Red came and asked – “Sir, what would you like to have for breakfast?”. I thought of answering – “Rin Supreme”.

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Heavy fuel

January 18, 2009

I had been a pathetic student of biology in my school days. (No, I wasn’t decent in other sciences either. My expertise in chemistry was as hopeless as a flying ostrich. That’s one reason I am highly indebted to the municipal corporation of Bangalore, for they have never given me a chance to forget my chemistry lab. The similar rotten smells from the open sewers can always be revived at infinite places, but that is a different story. We would talk about biology today.) Irrespective of our knowledge in biological sciences, the one thing that all of us remember is the disease called “gastrointestinal illness”. In not so scientific language, it is termed as diarrhea/dysentery or stomach disorders or loose motions or simply dast.

The other day when I moved out of Reliance “Fresh”(stone hard bhindi lying alongside 10 day old karela, and they still call it fresh. They are the only one in the vicinity who accepts sodexho food coupons, so I am left with little choice. For those of you who are unaware of this sodexho bliss, you may not be doing optimum tax planning :-)), I saw a panipuri walla standing right next to the parking lot. (Of course it is a no parking zone, but all of us love to break the rules until we get to do our bit of social service) Armed with countless readings on hygiene and stuff like that, I tried my best to ignore the panipuri guy. But the battle was soon lost when the smell of tamarind reached my nostrils and I meekly surrendered to the might of my salivary glands. One, two, three and the counting started. There is this option of eating golgappas only in the multiples of seven and after I munched my 14th piece, I stopped. Well, I didn’t have to compete with anyone, as there wasn’t any babe eating alongside (Sigh. It never happens with me. Rather, there was a mid aged woman, giving free gyan on preparing the masala. The panipuri guy would have hated her for sure.)

I reached home and in couple of hour time, started feeling the movement of troops in my stomach. The Spartan army was preparing its assault on city of Troy. Alarmed with the movement, I looked for some medicine but couldn’t find anything. I cursed myself for not listening to Rakesh Bedi in the old doordarshan ad where he is shooting the gastrointestinal demons. “Goliyon ka bhi asar nahin? Inka ilaaj goliyan nahin ayurved hai. Bhavnagar waale Seth brothers ka Kaayam churna”. In Navjot Siddhu’s terminology, my state was like a “fish without water” (or should I say – a fish with loads of water)
Finally with some divine intervention, Baba Ram Dev came to my rescue. I had a bit of recollection of a program on home remedies that they once showed in the local channels in Dehradun. Baba had advocated the usage of heeng (asafetida) and jeera (cumin seeds) with hot water in such circumstances. After few rounds of farts and salty burps, the heeng-jeera combo helped in bringing truce between the Trojans and the Spartans without any bloodbath. One more entry was added to the never-ending list of babaji’s fans.

No, I haven’t stopped eating panipuri. With babaji’s blessing and ayurved at my side and with the condition of multiples of seven, I would aim for 21 someday. If Michael Phelps could do it, why can’t me? But a word of free gyan from the veterans:
Try fooling your mind but never your stomach.


Coming back to life..

December 8, 2008

This is perhaps my first post in a year. Well, I wasn’t hibernating nor was I “introspecting”. For all those who know me well, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Yes, I am indeed one of those souls who take pride in laid-back attitude of theirs. “Aalasya” is one of my strongest traits and the only word in English language that might come close to describing this great quality of mine is – Laziness. I would try to post on a regular basis, but no resolutions – I am averse to them 😉

It is Sunday afternoon and my head sways on a Pearl Jam’s track – “I’ am still alive”. As the ruthless strumming on the electric guitar reaches its crescendo, giving hallucinations to a true hard rock fan, the Bangalore electricity department abides by its promise of energy conservation and obliges us with yet another round of load shedding. Exasperated, I try to find solace in the FM radio of my mobile phone. (Yes, for all those who are wondering – All your conspiracies of battering my antique piece have paid off and I now own a phone that does have a FM radio as well as a colored screen 🙂 ) After remaining faithful for almost 6 years, my black & white Sony CMD J70 (Mind you, it was 100% pure Sony in those days, having a great philosophy of KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid! And without an iota of infiltration from Ericsson, it was indeed an impeccable beauty) couldn’t religiously follow the signals like the Hutch’s dog and I had to reluctantly move along with the same opinionated Nokia brigade who are fanatic about their mobile phones as if it helps them understand Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Left with no choice other than listening to FM radio, I feel a sinusoidal shift in the music genre. The identities started getting swapped from the loud Irish band to some desi, remix style, irritating crap. Confused with this chaos, I tune in to Vividh Bharati where “Aap ki farmaayish” is being played. The host is doing an outstanding job in reading out the names of people who have placed the request for a song. The list is endless – family members, relatives, friends, neighbors and the other blessed souls of entire mohalla. The eternal wait gets over and the song starts, but it is cut short by a family planning advertisement. All the curious listeners are being told about the advantages of vasectomy and many of us feel privileged to imbibe this free flowing gyan. Looks like our health minister, basking in the glory of his anti smoking tirade, is soon going to take stringent measures for population control as well. What’s coming up next, nobody is sure. Perhaps people might soon be paying fines or facing imprisonment for childbirth 🙂

FM or no FM, mobile phones could be some of the people’s biggest obsession. On a recent flight from Delhi to Bangalore (where I was labeled an outcaste by my neighbor on the onset itself, well proven by the disgusting look he gave me after staring at my mobile phone 😉 ), I came across the swanky phones that I hadn’t even seen in my dreams. Well, the guy had to carry this traveling hazard of sitting next to me where he was perhaps cursing JetLite officials for selling cheap tickets due to which an outcaste and poor guy like me was able to afford the air travel. During the landing, even the most gorgeous airhostess (Gosh!! Draped in six yards and an hourglass figure, she looked like Katrina Kaif) could not convince him to switch his phone off after the plane was still not ready to disembark. Just before getting up, I managed to sneak the text he was trying to send. It read – “Darling, I miss you”.


November Rain

December 15, 2007

If I were to select an Indian contingent for the Olympics, I would definitely pick up my newspaper guy for the javelin throw. Every morning, the newspaper travels like a bullet and bangs on my neighbor’s door without missing its target. Rolled up like a scud missile, it looks like an extremely potent weapon of mass destruction and if at all it happens to deviate from its intended trajectory to hit any unfortunate soul during its aerial journey of three floors, it could probably cause mayhem. But, the guy has a pinpoint accuracy and has always hit the bull’s eye. Looks like he has done an intense research on projectile motions and has beforehand calculated the effects of gravitational forces. Boy, that would have made Isaac Newton proud for sure. I even feel that he should be an integral part of our space research programs where he could impart his hands on knowledge to some of our scientists in understanding the nuances of successful satellite launches.

Fortunately, I live in ground floor and the missile doesn’t hit my door. Instead of a scud, I get an innocuous 20 page sheaf which gives me a dose of usual insipid stuff – The parliament walkouts, bomb blasts, quotas, infinite cricket debates and the two inevitable S – sex and sensex. And after almost 20 minutes of digesting this crap, it becomes a potential contender for my additional source of “income”. ( Yes, even though I spend 110 rupees a month on the bill, I still get a child like pleasure when it gets weighed at 5 rupees per kg 🙂 )

But, today was different. There was some news today that came as a surprise to me. BBMP had decided to spend 330 crores to fill potholes in Bangalore. Probably some BBMP official had witnessed my last night “stunt” on Honda Unicorn (which is indeed a monster to handle for a lightweight soul like me) when one of the potholes obliged me with its utmost hospitality. The tyres slipped, the monster fell towards my left and I headed towards my first holy dip in Bangalore. I have taken several dips in the Ganges at Haridwar, but the feeling of this dip in the muddy waters at Marathahalli was no less divine. I bet, you too would have enjoyed it for sure 😉

And then came the toughest part. My pair of jeans looked hopeless with all possible layers of “natural sediments”. Gosh, why there isn’t a concept of disposable clothes, I thought. And I soon remembered the surf excel ad- “Daag achchey hain”.
What crap! Ask those poor souls who do their laundry themselves 😦
Sheepishly, I consoled myself with a quote on positive attitude. When a flying bird shits into your eye, you don’t cry, rather you say – “Thanks God. At least cows don’t fly 😉 ”

Two months have passed since then and there isn’t November rain anymore. Seasons have changed and the potholes have been covered. But my ‘Lawman’ still lies in the bathroom and I am still contemplating on buying a washing machine.


Winds of Change

June 5, 2007

The other day, I had a tele conference with one of my manager in the US and though the call lasted for around 12 minutes, every minute seemed like an hour. I had a pretty tough time during the call and my ineptitude with the firang accent was shamefully exposed. I thought, probably watching Hollywood movies would’ve helped. (Though, I do see few movies at times, but, either they’re all Spiderman types where there isn’t much to understand and a bit of guesswork solves my purpose or they’re all Jurassic Park types, where dialogues hardly make any difference 😉 )

Yes, this wasn’t the only challenge in the new organization. Dress code – Business formals, Monday through Thursday. It was going to be one BIG change in my life. It meant that I’d have the same dumb look everyday and all my loose pair of jeans or rock band t-shirts will have to wait for their turn till Friday. It wasn’t much of a sacrifice, I thought. But, polishing my shoe on all weekdays was indeed a scary stuff 😦

I looked down at my shoe and tried to figure out the original color of the leather. The shoelace looked like an extremely dirty, worn out thread. Yeah, it looked so horrible that there wasn’t any trace of the original color. I could hardly recollect the last time I had polished my shoe. Was it months, or a year or ages? The work on the leather resembled some modern art, which could have surely given an inferiority complex to M F Hussain. (To me, any painting that looks irrelevant, spoilt, alien or anything that is beyond the understanding of a normal human is probably termed as modern art 🙂 ) The new off white dusty color indicated that I had only two options in hand. The first option – neither Cherry Blossom nor a brush would cost much, but it would take a Herculean effort to polish it up to give it some “respectable appearance”. And the second option? Yes, a more feasible one for a lazy and inveterate procrastinator like me was to put it into the closed confines of the BMC garbage, where it could rest in peace forever.

But, sentiments prevailed, emotions ran high, and I decided that my pair of leather does not deserve a BMC farewell yet, where it could easily become a potential victim of the omnipresent Bangalorean stray dog and would eventually have the same fate as my pairs of Bata floaters that were once torn to pieces by these merciless hounds. (Yes, they are the same set of creatures that instead of “guarding” my locality prefer to chase me every night, but are thankfully beaten by the pace of my 150cc bike and almost everyday, I salute Honda for giving me a new life 🙂 )

Notwithstanding my aversion for that pungent smell of nitrobenzene, (Yes, I could still recollect the composition of a shoe polish, even after those horrible scores in Chemistry and equally proud performances in labs, where we smelled almost everything, right from chloroform to rotten eggs 😉 ) I picked up the brush and after a gallant effort of almost an hour, transformed my pair of leather to a “divine state” where it would give me a pseudo look of a true professional.

Yes, I eventually realized that change is an inevitable part of everyone’s life and I was no exception.


Back to basics..

November 18, 2006

Gone are the days when traveling by flight was so expensive that people never removed those airline tags from their luggage, just to show off and to make an statement of their high status. But, after the inception of the low cost airlines, even people like me have started traveling by flight. Yes, people like me, who have almost always obliged the great Indian Railways, burying those status thoughts either in the 3 tier sleeper or in the general bogie, traveling in the scorching heat of North India, (without reservation of course) sitting so close to an ultra clean toilet of Link Express that even the manufacturers of those exotic French perfumes would love to imitate that early morning fragrance that I’ve witnessed several times 😉

But eventually, or more precisely – not by choice, the flight tickets were beyond my budget this time (Yes, Diwali comes once a year and there are smarter guys who book their tickets early) and after almost 2 years, I was back to where I originally belonged. Boarding Karnataka Express, where I had always been an avid traveler in my college days, going home to Dehradun, peeping into the reservation charts and praying to God – not to give me those fatally uncomfortable side berths where a 5 feet 11 inches guy like me, struggles to fit in and gets enough motivation to sue the Indian Railways for this heinous act of theirs.

Luckily, my human rights were not violated. I was allotted the middle berth this time and Vikrant and Nishant slipped into the lower and upper berths respectively. After initial rituals of unnecessary altercation with our fellow travelers for placing their luggage in our undisputed territory, things were settled at ease by a good Samaritan, who acted as a mediator and soon swept us all in a wave of National integration. We finally locked our bags with those bulky chains and desi locks, as if we were carrying kilos of gold there in.

I enjoyed this long train journey, a conglomeration of varied cultures, covering seven different states, where we munched vada pau, enjoyed the famous Biryani at Daund, aalu poori, chana chat, flavored “Sanchi” milk at Khandwa and lots of other stuff. (Boy!! Who needs metrogyl or dipendal when we have such great digestion) Then there were various “artists” and singers and the inevitable eunuchs, who made few comments on Nishant when he was pretending to doze of. Yeah, it was quite an experience, be it the daunting looks I gave to a poor constipated soul for taking too much time inside loo or the 100-meter dash at one of the stations, which could’ve definitely fetched us a medal at the mohalla level.

I got down at Mathura and headed for Vrindavan to see my grannies. Just outside the railway station, the sight of getting into a local three-wheeled “tempo” petrified me (Yeah, it has an infinite seating capacity 😉 and there is an assurance of one getting sandwiched in the 30-minute journey) and I boarded a local bus instead. Nothing has changed in years; the argument with the conductor for charging an extra rupee, the cycle rickshaw that moves like a slithering cobra in those crowded serpentine streets of Vrindavan, the mouth watering “Khurchan” and “peda” outside the Baankey Bihari temple and not even the roadside garbage where a swine lies, enjoying the tantalizing sunshine.
I ask myself, do I miss something?