Monday, December 21, 2009

My 100th post on 100 - 0

What has the world come to? On Jan 13th 2009, Covenant School took on Dallas Academy in a girls basketball match and ended up thrashing them. Well thrashing probably isn’t an appropriate word considering that the final score read 100-0. The criticism against the Covenant School team includes issues like they continued to make 3 pointers in the 4th quarter (never knew it was a crime to attempt 3 pointers at any point in time of a match) and kept pushing till they reached the ton mark. The Dallas Academy team wasn’t that bad and did attempt quite a few shots, none of them successful though. Fair enough one would say, every team has an off day. So why am I bothered about you a match between two schools which I’ve never heard of?

Apparently a few days after the match, the head of the Covenant School posted the following comments on the school’s web site – “It is shameful and an embarrassment that this happened” and that they had made a “formal request to forfeit the game recognizing that a victory without honor is a great loss." He also wrote that the win “does not reflect a Christ-like and honorable approach to competition. We humbly apologize for our actions and seek the forgiveness of Dallas Academy, TAPPS and our community." (I would like to insert 2 words here – ‘Bull crap’)

The basketball coach though got fired (yeah you read right, fired) for his statement on a youth basketball website – “I respectfully disagree with the apology, especially the notion that the Covenant School girls basketball team should feel 'embarrassed' or 'ashamed’”.

Un-freakin-believable. I came across this last week & as I find new articles on it I still cant stop myself from shaking my head in disbelief. What next, dropping Sehwag from the Indian cricket team for going on a run riot against the hapless bowling attack of the opposition? Or asking F1 drivers to slow down in the middle of a race so that they dont lap the weaker teams?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My unknown hero

Its just over a year since the audacious attack by Pakistani terrorists who virtually held Bombay at gunpoint and exposed the inability of our police force & administration to be able to handle such a situation. Bombay is notorious for not letting anything affect its 'life goes on no matter what happens' attitude but the day after probably the longest night in its history, the city stayed indoors glued to the television channels bringing minute by minute updates on the latest news from the ground. A year on, life has returned to normalcy but the print & television media ensured that we havent forgotten. NatGeo aired a very informative documentary that captured several aspects of the attack that were lost in the media frenzy last year. And then I saw a status messge of a friend of mine which said that the media coverage of the attack was elitist and that so much media attention had been focussed on the Taj and hardly anything was mentioned about the attacks on the common man in CST station. And the more I think of it, the more I realise that its true. Add to this the recent allegations of cover ups by the Bombay police and you end up with a bitter taste in your mouth.

A couple of days after the first anniversary of this dastardly attack, my mind was exhausted from work and while sitting back and taking a break my playlist happened to play the song Travellin Soldier by the Dixie Chicks. This happened to be the first time I have listened to the song and the impact on me was akin to running straight into a brick wall. Suddenly everything seemed to stop and I carefully replayed the song while absorbing each word. Is it the simplicity of the story that the song narrates ? Is it the fact that had some things been different it could've been me or anybody like me in the place of the young man in the song ? Is it the haunting tune that resonates in my head long after the song has completed playing ? Is it the knowledge that I am living a comfortable life here while some unknown (to me and you) person is braving the elements while knowing that he would lay down his life for the country and 99.9% of our vast population would never even know about it ?

Download the song. Close your eyes and listen to it. If it doesnt move you there really is something wrong with you.

Two days past eighteen
He was waiting for the bus in his army greens
Sat down in a booth in a cafe there
Gave his order to a girl with a bow in her hair

He's a little shy so she gives him a smile
And he said would you mind sittin' down for a while
And talking to me,
I'm feeling a little low
She said I'm off in an hour and I know where we can go

So they went down and they sat on the pier
He said I bet you got a boyfriend but I don't care
I got no one to send a letter to
Would you mind if I sent one back here to you

I cried
Never gonna hold the hand of another guy
Too young for him they told her
Waitin' for the love of a travelin' soldier
Our love will never end
Waitin' for the soldier to come back again
Never more to be alone when the letter said
A soldier's coming home

So the letters came from an army camp
In California then Vietnam
And he told her of his heart it might be love
And all of the things he was so scared of
He said when it's gettin' kind of rough over here
I think of that day sittin' down at the pier
And I close my eyes and see your pretty smile
Don't worry but I won't be able to write for awhile

I cried
Never gonna hold the hand of another guy
Too young for him they told her
Waitin' for the love of a travelin' soldier
Our love will never end
Waitin' for the soldier to come back again
Never more to be alone when the letter said
A soldier's coming home

One Friday night at a football game
The Lord's Prayer said and the Anthem sang
A man said "Folks would you bow your heads
For a list of local Vietnam dead"
Cryin' all alone under the stands
Was the piccolo player in the marching band
And one name read and nobody really cared
But a pretty little girl with a bow in her hair

I cried
Never gonna hold the hand of another guy
Too young for him they told her
Waitin' for the love of a travelin' soldier
Our love will never end
Waitin' for the soldier to come back again
Never more to be alone when the letter said
A soldier's coming home

December to remember

Jeez, is it december already? My favourite month of the year is upon us and I havent the foggiest notion of how the last 11 months have raced by. December means two things to me - my birthday and Christmas. Having a birthday which landed smack in the middle of the second term examinations every single year for the entire duration of my schooling and engineering meant that I never really celebrated my birthday growing up. Hence Im far far from the 'Yay! its my birthday, the happiest day of the year, come one, come all, join me in my happiness blah blah' types (basically most other people). Nope, a nice quiet dinner with close friends will do fine for me. Whats so special about a birthday anyways? You realise youve gotten a year older (nice when youre in your teens, not that nice when youre in your twenties) and you have a time based benchmark to list out all the important stuff you achieved in the last one year (in my case usually not much) and then all the stuff which you shouldve done but never got around to (in my case usually a lengthy list). So whats the whole fuss about ?

Christmas on the other hand is something I cannot get enough of. In fact, if I had it my way there would be a christmas every 6 months. And whats not to like ? People finally decide to let work take a back seat and put family first on their list. Theres the whole putting up the star and decorating the christmas tree thing which I vociferously complain about but secretly enjoy doing. Women would of course love christmas cause theres a lot of shopping involved and their cullinary skills get a wonderful chance to shine (avoiding corny comparisons to the shining star that played an integral part in the tale of christmas). For men, with family around the booze flows and the spread on the dining table is always the best on that one day. Christmas music is one of my favourite genres, in fact I dont know how anyone could not like the classic carols. Add to it the customary christmas sweets and (rum soaked) christmas pudding . Bliss. And I havent even mentioned the magic of Santa Claus. Is it any wonder that its my favourite month of the year ?


Lust. Gluttony. Greed. Sloth. Wrath. Envy. Pride. The 7 deadly sins. And I dont care who you are, at some point or the other each one of us has exhibited these traits, whether we want to admit it or not. Its manifestation might have been blatant, it may even have been oh so subtle. The fact is that they lurk somewhere deep within everyone.

Take for example our maid, who today suddenly realised that we were moving out of our place earlier than she expected. Before I could even blink she had started collecting newspapers so that she could sell them off for scrap. Having just woken up from a late night, my still fuzzy brain was scrambling like a soldier running to his battle station on hearing the alarms of an incoming air raid. Before I knew it, she was walking in and out of rooms casting an eye on what she felt was valuable enough to take. I had to tell her to leave half the stuff that she had collected thinking that we would be disposing of them. In the one and a half years that she worked for us, I swear that I had never seen her move as quickly as she did today. Of course, the holier than thou attitude in you will point an accusatory finger at me saying "What the f*** is your problem? She's not doing anything wrong, after all she's just trying to make the best of the situation'. Point taken except for the fact that you didnt see the gleam in her eyes which had the 3rd deadly sin written all over them.

Monday, December 07, 2009

For all you anti - gay people out there .....

^^My favourite^^

Random musings

Maybe its just me but sitting & thinking about the multiple twists & turns that life has subjected you to and the many more unexpected ones that it has in store for you (reminds me of the old donkey kong game where he keeps throwing barrels down and you keep leaping over them while moving up levels) at 3 AM on a sunday morning certainly puts things into perspective. All those things that seem to envelope you as you go about life on a day to day basis are suddenly brought back into their rightful (unimportant) places with a resounding thud. The actual important stuff that gets relegated to the backseat all too easily suddenly stands right in front of you and you wonder how on earth did you ever lose sight of it in the first place. (Note: this was typed at 4 AM on sunday morning)

Its a monday now and looking back Ive kinda forgotten whatever I thought about that late on a saturday night. Some people never learn.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Holy cow !

Heres a little gem that was told to a friend of mine - Why do you want to get married ? If you want a glass of milk, you really dont need to buy a cow .......

The truth about cricket

To say that we are a cricket mad nation would be somewhat of an understatement. The manner in which the Indian cricket team's performance is intrinsically linked to our daily lives has to be seen first hand to be believed. The mood in our offices, colleges, schools and homes sways with every fluctuation in our team's fortunes. Modern day kids might want to follow the footsteps of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard but there was a time when emulating the feats of Sachin and his band of merry men was the dream of every young man in the country (A perfect example springs to my mind, you know who he is) . And yet, for all the exploits of our 'Men in Blue' (sounds like a cheap desi rip off of the Will Smith - Tommy Lee Jones flick MiB), the most fascinating, edge of the seat, nail biting matches occur far from the madding crowds and floodlit stadiums. In fact they can be found at your neighbourhood playground.

Theres something fascinating about these sunday matches which is difficult to explain. The rules get modified a bit - theres no LBW (a form of dismissal for which a neutral 3rd party umpire is required) cause the umpire is from the batting side, only tennis balls get used and trees / walls / surroundings alter the boundary line as per the situation etc: Blatant runouts are never given out again cause the umpire is from the batting side but then the favour is always returned somewhere down the line. Almost always its friends playing against each other so win or lose everyone can enjoy a sweaty but jovial round of lime sodas after the match without any bad blood. Which doesnt mean the matches are bereft of competition. On the contrary, everyone plays to win and yes, tempers do rise occassionally. And even if a team loses a match it was supposed to win or vice versa, nobody is going to thrown bottles and cans onto the field and halt play cause nobody has time to watch these sunday battles. Unless youre like me and youve realised that being cricket mad has nothing to do with being stuck with the remote in front of the idiot box.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

If men are dogs does that mean women are .....

"Men are such dogs !" How often have these 4 words been uttered by women through the pages of time ? And as much as we would like to believe this, the fact is that nothing could be further from the truth.

It all started with a discussion with some old friends over coffee at the rather impressive Bangalore International Airport. We spotted a dog who looked rather lost while staring all around at the hordes of people moving in and out of the airport terminal. At this point, one of my friends proceeded to enlighten us on how life would have changed for the poor chap over the years. Before the airport came up, the pup (at that time that is) would have had lush fields to run around in and lead a simple stress free life for the rest of his doggie years. Fast forward a few years and the good old pond of his (I would imagine that would be the hang out spot for these out of town doggies) has been replaced by a swanky revolving globe which has water sprayed on it. Where he probably wouldve been restricted to a farmers family and their guests now he has to see thousands of people move past him day in and day out. So why arent men dogs ? you ask.

Even through all these changes the humble lost airport dog continues to lead a simple content life. If he were to fancy another dog, he doesnt have to worry about imaginary barriers such as whether she is from the same breed or the same age or whether he can provide a huge house to bring up the little ones. All he does is get down to business. No worrying day in and day out whether he will get a big bonus at the end of the quarter and if he has successfully managed to meet his boss made - sales targets. The list goes on and on. And here we were sipping coffee while a 101 man made complications throw headache after headache at our own tangled lives. Enough to make one wish he could lead a dogs life ......

Monday, November 09, 2009

Funny the way it is

Lyrics from the song - Funny the way it is, by one of my favourite bands - the Dave Matthews Band. Makes you sit back and wonder about life.

Lying in the park on a beautiful day,
Sunshine in the grass, and the children play.
Siren's passing, fire engine red,
Someone's house is burning down on a day like this?

The evening comes and we're hanging out,
On the front step, and a car rolls by with the windows rolled down,
And that war song is playing, "why can't we be friends?"
Someone iss screaming and crying in the apartment upstairs

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
Somebody's going hungry and someone else is eating out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
Somebody's heart is broken and it becomes your favorite song

The way your mouth feels in your lovers kiss
Like a pretty bird on a breeze or water to a fish
A bomb blast brings a building crashing to the floor
You can hear the laughter, while the children play "war"

Funny the way it is, if you think about it
One kid walks 10 miles to school, another's dropping out
Funny the way it is, not right or wrong
On a soldier's last breath his baby's being born

Standing on a bridge, watch the water passing under me
It must've been much harder when there was no bridge, just water
Now the world is small. Remember how it used to be,
With mountains and oceans and winters and rivers and stars?

Watch the sky, the jet planes, so far out of my reach
Is there someone up there looking down on me?
Boy chase a bird, so close but every time
He'll never catch her, but he can't stop trying

Yumm !

I am someone who doesn’t really question what food is placed in front of me (unless it vegetarian, in which case I might as well go outside, pluck some leaves and munch on them instead). Rather, I was someone who didn’t really question what food ... So what prompted the sudden 180 in me ? A rather sweet gesture from a friend actually. She offered me a sandwich, which to be honest, was part of her breakfast. I gratefully accepted since I was hungry and about to start on my way to office (which meant another hour to breakfast) and i didn’t want to upset her feelings by refusing. Ok, so I made the last part up. I grabbed a bit of the sandwich and one bite down I had to stop chewing and wondered to myself what the rather distinctive taste was. I knew there was mixed fruit jam but I couldn’t figure out the origins of the other rather contradicting taste. I put it down to the brown bread. A bite later and rather worryingly I began to recognize the strong taste of peanut butter. Never before have I mixed this deadly combination and after that day I swore never to again. After confirming the constituents of the sandwich (with a stuffed mouth obviously, it took quite some effort to get the two bites down), I realised that I would be offered the rest of the sandwich in a moment. And it was. I did my best "Its really yummy but you know what, I already full" routine and hopped onto my bike and sped away to office where it took the combined might of a veg cheese grilled sandwich, a Tropicana and copious amounts of water to wash down the after effects of the morning fiasco. As they say - a lesson learnt the hard way. Speaking of lessons learnt the hard way – if the person who shared her breakfast with me is reading this, please remember – it was really yummy but you know what, I was already full …

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lessons from sparrows

Was just about done with lunch the other day at the office cafeteria when to my surprise I heard the chirping of a bird. Looking around I spotted a sparrow perched on a ledge by a glass wall. Probably trying to build a nest on the small ledge I thought. I returned to the cafeteria later in the evening and was even more surprised to hear the same sparrow chirping, this time more frequently & with a sense of desparation in its voice. It was only then that I realised that the little bird was not calling out to its mate or building a nest but in fact it was trying to escape. The sparrow was actually flying into the glass time and time again to get outside till it would get tired. Then it would rest on the ledge and cry out in desparation. It would be safe to assume that the sparrow had been trying the same thing for hours.

In fact all the sparrow had to do was turn the other way & it would have seen the open doors & made its way out of our cafeteria. But the poor thing was fixated on the open garden that it could see from the ledge. Isnt this often how we approach life? We believe true happiness lies in some pasture (as brown and as barren as it may be) and we refuse to see the lush green fields which are not that far off. Ask yourself, what are you chasing?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Excerpt from: The Simple Truths of Service,

No one can make you serve customers well. That's because great service is a choice. Years ago, my friend, Harvey Mackay, told me a wonderful story about a cab driver that proved this point. He was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey. He handed my friend a laminated card and said:
"I'm Wally, your driver. While I'm loading your bags in the trunk, I'd like you to read my mission statement."
Taken aback, Harvey read the card. It said:
Wally's Mission Statement:To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest, and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment
This blew Harvey away. Especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly clean! As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, "Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf." My friend said jokingly, "No, I'd prefer a soft drink." Wally smiled and said, "No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice." Almost stuttering, Harvey said, "I'll take a Diet Coke". Handing him his drink, Wally said, "If you'd like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustratedand USA Today."
As they were pulling away, Wally handed my friend another laminated card. "These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you'd like to listen to the radio." As if that weren't enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him. Then he advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of the day. He also let him know that he'd be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights, or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.
"Tell me, Wally," my amazed friend asked the driver, "have you always served customers like this?" Wally smiled into the rear view mirror. "No, not always. In fact, it's only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard the personal growth guru, Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day. He had just written a book called You'll See It When You Believe It. Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you'll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, 'Stop complaining! Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don't be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.'
"That hit me right between the eyes," said Wally. "Dyer was really talking about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more."
"I take it this has paid off for you," Harvey said. "It sure had," Wally replied. "My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I'll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me today. I don't sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can't pick them up myself, I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it and I take a piece of the action."
Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab. I've probably told that story to more than fifty cab drivers over the years, and only two took the idea and ran with it. Whenever I go to their cities, I give them a call. The rest of the drivers quacked like ducks and told me all th reasons they couldn't do any of what I was suggesting.
Johnny the Bagger and Wally the Cab Driver made a different choice. They decided to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles. How about you?

From a recent email forward

Nothing against Australia .....

Friday, September 04, 2009

Horn not ok please !

We Indians might be a smart bunch. History doesnt lie. And yet for all our inherent intelligence we can really be a bunch of morons. It never ceases to amaze me how throwing the keys of a
car / bus / truck / bike / auto / (or even the reins to a bullock cart) to an Indian amounts to them in turn throwing their IQ out the window of the above mentioned car / bus / truck / helmet (in case of bikes) / open air (in case of autos & the bullock cart).

Lane discipline here is a no no. In fact it is so rampant that someone visiting India for the first time might mistake it to be a prerequisite for obtaining a driving license. But that is something one learns to live with and accept over a period of time. 2 things that our average Indian road goer (hence forth referred to as Mr X) has in bucketloads and which I cannot accept are
1) Our inching forward mentality
2) Our parking sense (lack of it actually)

We all know that India is a people friendly country. People like to be with other people. There's none of that western formality of calling someone up and asking if they are home and if we can drop in. Here we just drop in. Uninvited in most cases. Its probably this people - centric mindset in us which we grow up with that explains the inching forward mentality. If the vehicle in front of a person moves forward by an inch, our Mr X will faithfully move that inch forward. Stationary traffic does not seem to warranty switching off of vehicles either. Maybe these guys know of some oil field on their ancestral land wihch we dont know about. Have to take a right turn ? No issues, stick to the extreme left lane, show your right indicator and expect that everyone else will stop for your royal highness, Mr X. So what if you end up blocking all (ok Ill admit it, few) the traffic rule abiding citizens who were sticking to their lanes ? Nowadays this ailment (for lack of a better word) seems to be affecting quite a few people. Approach any major 4 way junction these days and its no surprise to see a handful of cars inches away from another handful of cars (face to face mind you) all because some joker tried to take a u - turn while attempting to overtake another guy trying to take a u turn and realising that he is face to face with another joker from the other side who was trying the same u turn overtaking stunt. And nobody will budge. I suppose that they suppose that God will come lift up the people blocking their route (when in actuality they are the ones blocking the other people) and ensure an open road or that flash floods will come wash away all those who stand in their path or ....
The extreme lack of parking sense that we Indians suffer from is something that is known to quite a few. Ive often observed that people will travel over several kilometres to their destination and the moment they enter the parking lot they will search for the nearest possible non existant parking spot (instead of the nice empty slot 10 feet further down) cause God forbid they have to walk 10 feet extra. Go figure !
Not that everything else is perfect or anything. For the life of me, I cannot stand people who honk for no reason. Special resentment reserved for those who honk at motorists in front of them while at a red light. I think they expect those in front of them to get out of their vehicles and move (akin to the splitting of the Dead Sea in the Bible) so that they have an open road in front of them when the light turns green. Special sympathy in bucketloads for our Indian heroes who do not see the need to wear a helmet on our dangerous roads. They are just plain stupid.
Looks like the above symptoms are displayed by 99.99 % of Indian vehicle owners. I guess, its the rest of our population that gives us the 'smart' tag.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Weekday or weekend blues ?

I like weekends. It gives me the perfect opportunity to break the monotony of the cycle of go to work - come back and relax - sleep early that my weekdays are known for. Which is why on weekends I love to sleep till around 11 AM, listen to Radio Indigo, have a late lunch, do a good hour of reading, watch a movie, take my bike out for a small chakar around the block / go for an evening walk, flip through some channels till I realise that there is nothing interesting, flip through some magazines and finally watch another movie. All this slothful inactivity balances out all my (if I am being truthful, less than) hectic activity of my weekdays.
But things have slowly been changing. A couple of weeks back I set off on a 2 day trip to Yercaud with friends - 499.1 kms exactly from the time I started the trip till I got home 36 hours later. Result - a well rested mind but unfortunately sore neck. Which meant I had the entire week to rest, rotate, massage & soothe my sore neck.

Last weekend was more of the same. Saturday we went to the Innovative Film City which is on the Mysore Road. A nice one day outing for Bangaloreans, aimed more at the young families crowd though the name is rather misleading. Quite enjoyed the rather scary House of Horrors & the mind boggling Mirror Maze. Had my first experience with mini golf as well, definitely am no Tiger Woods in the making. A rather dangerously steering go kart did provide cheap thrills & the only downer was the rather sad & abused arcade games that they had. Exhausting day to say the least.
Sunday & I was up by 3 AM (usually the time when I go to sleep on a saturday night) for my first xBhp group ride to Devrayana Durga (DD) Hills. Pretty awesome trip with lots of bikes & more importantly safe riding. My favourite moment was while we were riding past a huge school in some village / town & seeing the unbridled excitement on the faces of those kids as over 30 bikers rode past them in single file with most of them in proper riding gear including jackets with protection, gloves & helmets. That moment will stay with me forever.

Did a bit of trekking after reaching the top and we were treated to a really magnificent view from there. After relaxing at the top we lined up the bikes for a massive group shot & eventually headed back after stopping for breakfast / lunch. A total distance of 220 kms in total.

Exhausted I got back and joined my fellow TAPMIans for lunch and later on sat down with them for some good old fashioned chit chat at home. Then went off with Alton to pick up for him some Cramster riding gear - ended up buying the K2K jacket & a good pair of full gauntlet gloves. Money well spent ! So what if the 2 of us riding side by side look like the desi power rangers ? All this however meant that I was running late for the Classics From Broadway musical show that was being held in St Johns auditorium. Took me forever to get through the traffic from Cunningham Road to Madiwala which meant that I missed out on my favourite songs. Did catch performances from Mamma Mia, Phantom of the Opera, Pocanhotas among others. Only problem was the exhaustion from the whole day meant that I could barely see the people on stage. I was actually afraid to close my eyes and concentrate on only listening cause i was worried i wouldve dozed off in a couple of minutes. My bed was never more inviting than on that sunday night.

And so here I am on a wednesday, trying to wade off the wave of sleep that has continuously kept descending on me for the last 2 days as punishment for the weekend's sleep deprivation. And sleeping early the last 2 days. To top it all off Ive been spending my time over the last 2 days searching for places to go this weekend. Sometimes I think I need to be more grateful for weekdays.

Some people ....

Spotted this sticker on a car while on my way to work today - Downpayment by Mom , EMIs by Wife , Enjoyed by Me !

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Drawer Power

Just the other day I was rather jobless at home and with the rains playing havoc I had to restrict myself to indoor activities. My usual rainy day activity of flipping through a few magazines wasnt doing the trick & rummaging through a drawer unopened for months in the hope of finding something to do seemed to be a good option. Which fortunately led me to discover a lot of artifacts from my earlier days (im just in my ahem early twenties, so my early days werent that far off). And behind every artifact was a long story, a few of which I have listed below
1) A parking ticket dated 10.01.2005 - My first & only run in with the cops in Cochin. My friends & I parked in a no parking zone by Marine Drive where the no parking sign was placed in such a way that most people could not see it. The cops were more than happy to fine us despite our protests that were with merit. Been extra careful while parking ever since that day.
2. A set of pics of me & my friend on a 2004 R1 in Yamaha's showroom - Actually thought that I had lost those pictures. We happened to be passing by the showroom on a sunday when we saw the bike outside. Got some pictures before we were shooed away. Mercifully not many people got to see 2 college going guys act like kids and then even more embarrassingly get chased away by a geriatric guard.
3. A game outline - Had this idea for a computer game when I was in school which in my eyes at that time was golden & which probably would have catapulted itself to Mario levels of fame. Being me, I never got around to doing anything about it & the world moved on. The years have wisened me & the game no longer looks like the Pacman beater that it once did. Or at least thats what I tell myself.
4. Hall ticket & board exam papers - These are of varying vintage with the oldest being 11 years old now, dont know how in the world I never got rid of them. I look at some of the questions and wonder when I learnt about these things. Was fun jogging my memory though. Strangely the questions seem familiar but I havent the foggiest clue as to the answers.
5. A book of my thoughts - Ide forgotten how much time I spent penning random thoughts in a book while in college. Others might call it a diary. I would say a wonderful peek back in history. So what if the history penned in it is from around 2004.
6. CDs - Stuff varying from Jim Reeves to the soundtrack of the movie Scorpion King. Been years since Ive listened to this stuff.
7. Dried up pens - Had a bunch of them (good ones even) received at various points in time which I thought I'll use at a better time & not in college. Kept them so safely that I forgot about them over the years. Had to toss them in the bin. A lesson on life maybe ?
Im sure theres a ton of other stuff lying around waiting for me to pick up & start remembering the story behind them. Come to think of it after Im done posting this I don’t think I have anything to do. Time to go raid another drawer then.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No poor man's Ooty this ....

On Thursday I get a call from my friend Alton asking me if I wanted to join his friends and him on a weekend trip to Yercaud. Initially the guys in Blore had planned to go by bus & join the guys coming in from Madras at Salem. Lady Fate however kindly intervened. Yamaha had sent me a mail regarding their Photo Contest on Thursday & Alton and I had already done a photoshoot session of my R15 with his amazing Nikon coolpix P 90 the previous weekend and we had planned on doing another photoshoot later. With Yamaha’s contest everything seemed to fall into place. The only thing to be done was research – climate (riding in the rains wouldve been a strict no - no) & directions.

After weeks of postponing I finally go & get myself the DSG Nero & in the process second glances from everyone all the way to office. Time for more research. Surprisingly there wasn’t too much on the net about travelling to Yercaud from Bangalore. Which was a good sign for us as we wanted a nice chilled out weekend far far away from the maddening crowd.

Being the big planners that we are, the original plan we hatch is to make it to Salem by 7:30 AM so we leave Silk Board at 4:30 AM. 3 of us are travelling from Bangalore on bikes – Alton on his P180, Adi on his Avenger 200 & me on my R15. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined the amount of traffic on the highway at that god forsaken hour. We rode for an hour before stopping for petrol and realising that we had just done around 60 kms in an hour. The sun was just starting to make its way up and that made for a good background for our first (of many) round(s) of photos. Post break our speeds improved once the sun made its presence felt & traffic (mostly lorries) thinned out. The L & T stretch was freaking awesome, the best road I have ever ridden on in my life. A couple of long stops for pictures ensured that we would not reach Salem at the designated time. Blame the really scenic settings.

Pictures do not do this setting justice
We were blessed with a light drizzle that didn’t hamper our progress much but everyones pair of jeans were a bit soggy as a result of it which was a bit irritating.
Reach Salem and find a small place that gives us tasty south Indian breakfast (around 200 kms on the clock by now) and get quite a few glances cause 1) people can see we have driven down from Blore & 2) we are the only ones wearing helmets in Salem. The way people ride on the roads there is quite crazy and was the most dangerous section of our trip. We hit the 4 roads junction and soon we are enjoying Yercaud’s 20 hairpin bends with mile wide smiles on our faces.
Huge bamboo shoots on the way up to Yercaud
Word of caution - anyone doing this stretch needs to be careful of the monkeys that might decide to dash across the road. We ended up seeing more monkeys lazying around on the side of the road than people while on our way up. More photoshoots (courtesy even more scenic settings) and we finally set foot in Yercaud only by 10:30 AM (roughly 230 kms).
The first thing we noticed was the climate which was absolutely heavenly. There was a chill in the air, not cold enough to have your teeth chatter but a very very pleasant chill. After dropping our stuff at the room & freshening up we headed to Pagoda Point which offered a really great view of the valley & spent some time there.
The view from Pagoda Point
Mandatory photo session completed we pushed back to Yercaud & went to Hotel Shevaroys for lunch. A combination of an irritated customer at the next table (poor guy got his drink after 25 mins with no sign of the food) & the waiter not coming to take our order even after 10 minutes of sitting there meant that we marched out and had a tasty south Indian lunch next door at Hotel Malar. We wanted to buy some stuff from Yercaud and on asking the locals we found that only coffee / figs / pepper would be available and that too at an estate 14 kms away. We were amazed at the lovely narrow winding roads with estates on both sides with the only real scare of the trip coming when a bus from the opposite side came charging in and just missed the bike in front of us by the faintest of whiskers.

While on the way there we saw a signboard to the Servarayan temple & decided to see the temple. Just as we were reaching there the cloud cover enveloped the mountain to such an extent that visibility was down to less than 10 feet. We couldn’t even see each other despite putting on our headlights on high beam (thank goodness we were not half way up or something when this happened). As they say every cloud has a silver lining (pun unintended), in this case – brilliant photography. There was a ferris wheel & merry go round which coupled with the ridiculously thick cloud cover made for a really spooky experience. I wouldn’t have been surprised if an axe wielding psychopath wouldve charged at us from the blanket of whiteness with murder on his mind. Or even Javier Bardem from No Country For Old Men.... Im not joking. The temple is actually a cave temple & apparently locals believe that the deity protects the neighbouring villages.
More like a scene out of HBO's show Carnivale

Guess Who ?
Soon the clouds cleared and we were laughing at how spooked we were by what appeared to by an ordinary playground and we were off biking to the above mentioned estate where it turned out that nothing was available. Wanting to avoid riding after sunset we headed back to our hotel and sat down and did what we wanted to do - relax. By then it had become really cold with a chilly breeze that made everyone want to go grab a blanket and throw it around themselves. Decided that an early dinner was the best option for our tired bodies and we went back to Hotel Shevaroys (I know, I know, some people just don’t learn). Decent food though expensive. Sleep that night was, as expected, heavenly.

We were out for a stroll followed by a late breakfast / early lunch and set out for a walk around Yercaud’s lake.
Yercaud's focal point - its lake
It wasnt too long ago that boating in a lake was a big thrill for me also. Looks like Ive outgrown it before I knew it.
Boating in the lake
More pictures and we decided to leave early to avoid the evening weekend rush into Bangalore. The temperature today was higher than on saturday & it was a bit sunny by lunch time. We left Yercaud by 12 with rather fond memories of a totally unspoilt, in fact virgin mini hill station that was the perfect antidote for living in Bangalore.

Ghat roads - heaven on earth
The ride down to Salem through the ghats was again brilliant with hardly any traffic & fortunately had a Sumo in front on me who was honking at all the turns and ensuring that no vehicles were waiting for us on our side of the road ready to send us to the grim reaper. With the sun out we had a glorious time riding back as the highway was empty and this made the ride a hoot as we shot past whatever little traffice was there. I am one who cribs about the nature of roads in our cities but the highway was a dream come true & I'll shut my mouth for now. From the outskirts of Salem to Bangalore we encountered not one pothole, speedbreaker or roadblock. I was in 6th gear with the throttle fully open for quite a long time though the cross winds ensured I could only do a max of 130 kmph. More stops for pictures and we were back in Bangalore by 5 oclock. Which meant being back to potholes, people crossing the road without looking, speedbreakers, people riding on the wrong side of the road & then cutting across traffic without signalling and everything else. I had half a mind to turn and ride back to Yercaud…...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Apples & oranges, Bikes & ???

It so happened that the day was filled with instances of comparisons in different shapes and forms and in the most unexpected of places. In a random fit of thoughtfulness, I was contemplating on what is the best thing to compare a bike to (dont ask why, even I dont know why). Shouldnt have been too difficult a task, one might say. After all its just 2 wheels, an engine in between & seating for 2, right? Not exactly. After a lot of soul searching, head scratching & goatee tugging it eventually dawned on me that women make for the aptest comparison. And so here I am penning my thoughts on the 3 bikes in my life so far & how closely they actually resemble women in their traits.
**DISCLAIMER - Any resemblance in characteristics to any woman I know is purely coincidental.**

Wild Thing
To say that my brother's Apache RTR 160 was a bit of a eye opener for me would be a massive understatement. Dressed in the right clothes (in this case yellow) she looks hot & has a really wild streak in her. She may not grab eyeballs any more as she is doing good numbers (akin to a woman wearing what’s in, along with every other woman) but she will always be beautiful in my eyes. She just begs me to rip the throttle & unleashes that trademark roar which accompanies the sudden burst in speed & adrenaline which to be honest is pretty addictive.
But it isn’t all dreamy. With that manic mindset she gets vibey by the time she crosses 60 kmph & emergency braking will have you fishtailing like it was nobody’s business. And the constant revving braking revving routine can get a bit tiring over long rides especially because your fingers & your bottom are going to be tingling with all the vibes. Restrict yourself to shorter rides and side roads to rev the bike a bit and you can be sure of a big grin by the time you reach.

Almost like the woman you know who is one of those hyper types who would dare you to accompany her on some crazy ass kamikaze mission that is bound to get you both in trouble. Of course you the fact that shes a girl & hence not supposed to be tougher than you troubles you no end but the thrill of the risk will give you kicks to last the week. Your legs might tremble, your voice will tend to go a bit soft but you sure as hell will pretend to be brave and agree to jump headfirst into danger. And in the process write a true story to tell your grandchildren. She will push you way beyond your comfort zone & you know the only reason you aren’t doing more is because you've got smaller gonands than her. Living on the edge aint always that great though, so a bit of caution is best mixed with this dangerous diva who makes for a heady rush.

Uptown Girl
When I think of the Yamaha R15, I think of red wine. To truly appreciate the beauty of it, you need to have drunk (and gotten drunk) on beer, rum, whisky (including scotch), brandy, vodka & local stuff at different stages of your life. After all these if you do move up to wine, you start understanding what makes it so expensive & why its worth it. Critics will say, you can get a better kick out of rum or vodka. But theres no point in convincing them. Its about you knowing.
Its fast, no wait, make that bloody fast. And yet its not about the speed. It is an absolutely brilliant masterpiece of Japanese engineering & on less congested roads, when you start exploring the seemingly endless potential of the bike you know you are always safe. The bike is reassuring, you can almost feel it holding your hand & making sure that you are comfortable. Always. Super smooth does not begin to explain how it feels. Add to that the fact that wherever you go, you are guaranteed a second look and you know whatever you have spent is worth it. Did I mention it is ridiculously quick without the drama?
The R15 is like the gorgeous model who people would love to go upto & impress with their wit but something about her aura tends to tie tongues of even the slickest talkers. You will spend an extra 5 minutes combing your hair before you go to meet her. You will make sure your shoes are shining even if you are meeting her at night & nobody is going to look at your feet. You know that when you walk into a restaurant or a party all eyes will be on the two of you. Their lips might be saying 'Look at her, all showstar looks but Im sure she must be a dodo'. But their eyes will be green with envy.

Lady In Red
I still remember the day years ago when I first read the Overdrive (then India's #1 auto magazine & bible for us enthusiasts) issue which had the test drive of the then just released Bajaj Pulsar. They put together a comparo with the other bikes in its class with some really C grade models for added effect & the Pulsar twins (then the 150 & 180) blew the competition right out the window. Those sculpted lines, the perfomance they offered & the hard to swallow (for the competition) price meant that Bajaj had a sure fire winner on their hands. Bajaj is still laughing its way to the bank as they have succeeded in keeping the Pulsar brand alive with the constant upgrades. Its just that maybe, just maybe, they succeeded too well.
Its almost 7 years since I was gifted the Pulsar by my Dad. While I havent clocked a gazillion kms on it like others wouldve in this duration, every ride has been memorable. My first ever 100 kmph + experience, the first time the rear end stepped out of line on a rain soaked road thus throwing my heart into my mouth & the headrush that followed, the first puncture which fortunately happened outside a tyre shop, the first fall because of the notchy gearbox and the recovery from it both mental & physical ...... fact is, Ive grown up with the bike. Which is why she reminds me of the girl next door.
I guess a lot of people are lucky enough to have had a girl next door in their life. Not necessarily across the wall next door. Shes smart, shes always been kind, shes pestered you as a kid, shes given you inside tips that will help you garner enough confidence to go talk to the new girl in school who you have an itsy bitsy crush on, she provided a lending shoulder when you need someone to talk to when you realise the new girl has an itsy bitsy crush on one of your friends, she helped you with subjects you have difficulty in, she was the one who was as happy as your parents were when the results of your exams came out, she was someone you had to talk to before you decided on which college you joined & you knew that she would always tell you whats best for you (even if it means that the two of you will not meet each other regularly like before) , she introduces you to all her female friends in college and even put in a really swell word for you to her friends who find you charming. Shes been & will always be your rock. And sometimes that solidity is what you really want in life.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A post about a show about nothing

Everyone agrees that there are 2 kinds of people in this world. Everyone disagrees on the basis on which the world should be split into 2. Some say its into men & women. Others say its on the basis of religion. Common splits include - Adults & kids. Whites & non - whites. Rich & poor. Those who have read so and so book against those who havent. Bikers & non bikers. Vegetarians & non vegetarians. Drinkers & non drinkers. Winners & losers. Educated & uneducated. Street smart & book smart. ipod lovers & ipod haters. Good & bad. Skinny & fat.

And now Ive discovered one more - Seinfeld fans & Friends fans. To date I havent found a single person who is an ardent fan of both the shows. Seinfeld, the show about nothing, has its own characteristic feel that most fans of Friends can just not relate to. The latter are happy watching Joey playing dumb & Monica and Chandlers blooming romance & the ever evolving dynamics between Ross and Rachel & Phoebe's eccentricities and whatever else the show is popular for. Ive noticed that almost all my friends (who happen to be big fans of Friends) find that they dont get the humour of Seinfeld which they perceive to be a thinking man's comedy. I really dont know whats there to think when Jerry is at his witty best with quotes like this
"I was the best man at the wedding. If I'm the best man, why is she marrying him? "
"Men want the same thing from their underwear that they want from women: a little bit of support, and a little bit of freedom."
"Dogs are the leaders of the planet. If you see two life forms, one of them's making a poop, the other one's carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge. "
"Seems to me the basic conflict between men and women, sexually, is that men are like firemen. To men, sex is an emergency, and no matter what we're doing we can be ready in two minutes. Women, on the other hand, are like fire. They're very exciting, but the conditions have to be exactly right for it to occur. "
"Somebody just gave me a shower radio. Thanks a lot. Do you really want music in the shower? I guess there's no better place to dance than a slick surface next to a glass door."

And while it might be a grown mans comedy (though not to the level of Fraser), the beauty of Seinfeld is that its so simple cause its about, well, nothing. And nothing displayed it more than when Jerry & George pitch to the producers of a TV channel to air a sitcom thats about nothing. Seriously, a show about nothing that has its leads pitching to the TV guys about a show about nothing. It couldve & by all means shoudlve fallen flat on its face but it was hilarious.
For shows that were so similar in their concept, the 2 ended up at opposite end of the spectrum. Both the shows revolved around friends & life. Before the shows became hits, none of the actors were masters of their art. But by the final season of each show, the actors had almost bigger than the show & earning big money for each episode. And yet how they differed. Seinfeld was always unpretentious & not just in the storylines - Jerry, George, Elaine & Kramer always had that difficult to describe chemistry which took Friends a long time to develop. Friends was never undeserving of its praise, to me its just that it was at the right place at the right time. The first few seasons I thought were so - so, the mid seasons were good but I somehow didnt like the last couple of seasons when things started to twist and turn & it kinda lost its old charm. It became a show that tried to capture life, friendship, relationships & growing up and eventually settling down in your 20s. Thing is, you could end up watching 4 episodes of Friends back to back, have a couple of laughs and get on with your life without remembering what you just watched over the last couple of hours. I still remember an episode of Seinfeld I watched 4 days back which had Jerry give up a cosy moment with a date cause he couldnt believe that she liked an ad that he didnt. Isnt Jerry's behaviour reflective of how real life is ? If you think about it, do you know anyone 2 people who have gone through as much ups & downs as Ross & Rachel ? I didnt think so. That and the pearls of wisdom that Jerry shared with the world make me the Seinfeld kind. What about you ?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cuts - of the power & card kind

Everyime a newspaper columnist faces an approaching deadline and realises that he has run out of topics to write on, he faithfully goes back to the tried, tested & proven ruing on how mobile phones dictate our lives & how we cant get away from them & how dependent we have become on them & how soon the world will be ruled by mobiles. Not true Ive realised, courtesy a 7 hour long power outage on a blissful sunday.

Unaware of the impending powercut, I had nearly drained out the charge on my PSP. (well its not my fault that I spent hours in the preceding days on my PSP trying to crash my car into trucks, pickups, buses & even autos - Burnout is pretty addictive). The charge on my HP lappie lasts only for half an hour these days so that was not an option for killing my time. My phones were on extremely low charge & my sunday calling ritual was thus given the boot. A long ride looked to be the perfect solution but that was until I saw the extremely cloudy sky. Reading the paper from end to end could only take that much time & I switched to the book which Ive been reading for the last 3 months which consumed another hour. With nothing left to do I began to rummage through my stuff looking for something to keep myself busy.

Which was when I spotted a book of mine which I had bought way back in 2002 - World's Best Card Tricks. Its taken me 7 long years to open the book & find myself a deck of cards (well in this case a deck of UNO cards). Whenever I used to spot the book I could never find a deck and when I would finally find a deck I would forget where I had kept the book. But that’s another story.

The next few hours were surprisingly quite memorable. I really struggled to perform the tricks of various complexities that were described in such great detail that when I first read them I thought to myself that it had to be a cakewalk. I had such a tough time that I think I ended up reinventing those expert tricks though I have no idea how I did it. Of course no two attempts ended up with the same results. I even struggled with something as elementary as cutting the deck in the right manner. In fact the only thing I am good at in the art of 'magic' card tricks is talking to the (imaginary as of now) audience. But it sure was a blast. I had to keep trying the tricks again & again & again till I could finally figure out what was happening (well at least supposed to happen). Which would come as a welcome second wind & was the impetus for me to start attempting the same trick again & again & (of course with different results each time) .... Eventually I reached a stage where my mind knew what was to happen but try as I might, my less than fleet fingers couldn’t match the instructions. Well, all that’s left now is to practice.

Im not trying to be David Blaine or Criss Angel. Hell, Im not even trying to be one of those Indian magicians who come on stage all snazzily dressed with a turban & what not & end up saying water of ganga and make an empty vessel pour out water. Its just for kicks. And what do you know, it proves to be a worthy topic to blog on.

The Rabbit Round

'Go Green', 'Eco friendly solutions', 'Save this today for a brighter tomorrow' etc etc. Its freaking everywhere. Just about everyone seems to be on the behaving politically correctly bandwagon while throwing some good old fashioned common sense right out the window. Oil prices rising through the roof & your old car isn’t enough for your growing family / social status ? Make sure that the next car you buy is a hybrid car that’s undoubtedly more expensive than the car that you think you need & offers less space than your current car. Offset by the fact that the car will make for a good kids birthday / cocktail party conversation with your neighbours.

Worried about using plastics that will cause unspeakable damage to the environment ? No fear, switch to paper bags to carry your weekly groceries. They are made of newspapers (unrecycled) which means that if you really are bored in office, you could read straight off the bag (Dont know if its me but Ive noticed that every paper bag that Ive seen is made of those corny supplement papers which contain absoultely nothing but stories of page 3 parties & film stars. Cant complain, they do ward off sleep on lazy workdays). Perfect except for the fact that you have to pray that it doesnt rain while you are carrying the groceries to your car. If it does rain, well you will have a wonderful time watching the bag (and that pretty actress) slip away through your fingers. If it doesnt rain and you havent forgot to pray that the bag doesnt tear by itself due to the weight of the groceries, then by the time you reach your car you realise that the boot isnt big enough & you have to get your kids to shift so that the stuff fits on the back seat. Just remember to try to shut out the fond memories of your noisier, less fuel efficient & not to mention bigger car in which the whole family could comfortably sit in (with the groceries in the boot) which you sold off.
All acceptable if only I hadnt noticed the politically correct phenomenon which I call the Rabbit Round. Some of you may know of my fascination for buffet lunches, I do like the fact that at each buffet people end up giving their strict diet a heave ho & go even more bonkers when it comes to the desserts (we Indians really love our pastries & ice creams, gulab jamuns & halwas & ....) Coming back to the rabbit round. On a recent team buffet outing , I noticed that nine out of ten people at our table had each taken a whole plate of green leafy vegetables, salads, fruits & other stuff I honestly couldnt identify but think is supposed to be 'healthy', all in the same round. Why ? To erase the guilt of the susequent pastries, ice creams .... They might as well have just collected the grass errr food from those 9 plates, taken it to the park & fed the rabbits. Hence the name. Come to think of it, the rabbit round is the heights of going green !

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Tonight Show with Ja errr Conan

"Noway is this happening" was my first thought when I read that Jay Leno was hanging up his boots & getting replaced by Conan O'Brian. Ive spent several nights cracking up in front of the TV watching Leno at his best in various segments that include jaywalking, the newspaper segment & of course, his rolling- on- the- floor funny stand up comedy. The good news is Leno is returning soon with his new show - the Jay Leno Show. Which means more of the more salt than pepper hair & that pointed jaw & of course rib tickling comedy. Not that Conan isnt hilarious but Conan isnt Leno. As a tribute to the champ, here are some of his best jokes on US presidents.Warning, he really gets into his stride when it comes to Clinton.

"I tell you, the economy is in bad shape. In fact, the economy is so bad, President Barack Obama's new slogan is 'Spare Change You Can Believe In.'"

"Tomorrow, America will get to hear those four words we've been waiting for, 'former President George Bush,' President Bush said he is leaving Washington with his head held high, because it is the best way to spot shoes that are coming at you."

"Bush fell off his bike while mountain biking on his ranch over the weekend. He hit a rough spot in the trail. There's a switch -- the environment hurting Bush."

"President Bush says America has caused an incredible transformation in Afghanistan. He said everything's being rebuilt, people are getting jobs, kids are going back to school. He said it works so well that he's thinking of trying it in New Orleans.

P.S - Dont say I didnt warn you .....

"The $10 million Clinton is getting for his book beats the old record of $8.5 million paid to the Pope. How do you think this makes the Pope feel? The man dedicates his life to the 10 Commandments, he gets 8.5. Clinton breaks every one of them, he gets 10."

"Former President Clinton was hit by an egg thrown by a protester as he was walking down the street in Poland. His reflexes were so quick, he was able to fertilize it like that."

"Yesterday was Earth Day, and President Bush planted some seeds. See, that's the difference between Bush and Clinton. Clinton was a much bigger environmentalist. He didn't just plant his seeds one day, he planted them every day."

"This kind of seems like bad taste to me. A Giuliani fundraiser is now charging $9.11 ... in reference to 9/11. ... Isn't that inappropriate? I mean, isn't it like a Bill Clinton fundraiser charging $69 a head?"

"Yesterday President Bush was at Mt. Rushmore. Don't confuse this with former President Clinton who was just in a rush to mount more."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Multi - personality disorder (of a different sort)

When is a dog not a dog ? Might sound like a daft question, but thats because you havent seen my daschund Pluto.

Now Pluto, like all other dogs is loving to a fault and enjoys the normal doggie activities of chasing the ball, eating grass & barking away to glory. He loves jumping all over us when we walk into the house & has to be petted for him to settle down. Trotting around the house while following someone is his (like all normal dogs) favourite hobby. That is until he flops over cause he is too exhausted from all the trotting around. Which is where the problem starts.

Now most people do stretch a bit when they get up from a long nap. So do dogs. But it is a bit wierd when your dog stretches & stretches & keeps stretching. In fact the only animal that I have observed stretching this much is a cat. And its not a one off instance. This happens everyday. If only Pluto had limited his activities to those of the feline kind, things wouldve been fine. But there's more.

Trotting behind my dad while the fowls are being fed is another of Pluto's interests. The fowls are used to Pluto now since they have seen him grow in front of them & are comfortable with him walking about aimlessly. In fact they dont even mind when he decides to join them during their lunch ! It isnt uncommon to see some Italian Whites, Brahmas & other fowls sharing their lunch with our hero.

If he were a superhero, the catch line of his show would definitely be - Look, out in the garden - is it a bird ? Is it a cat ? Its Pluto (cue background music to the tune of the old Superman song ......)

P.S - Initially I used to worry cause he used to waddle around like a penguin but then I realised all daschunds waddle around like that.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Simple yet p....

There's this forward that quite a few people like to, well, forward which contains noted comedians George Carlin's thoughts on life. Its just simple stuff but on a day when you dont have much work & the devil is toiling away in his favourite workshop, it appears to be profound.

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways ,but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

So when will any one of us really pause in our relentless quest to make it big in life & think about what it really is that will make us happy? Will sitting at home & going through work related documents on a saturday night make more sense than curling up on the couch & indulging in some good old fashioned reading with some smooth Clapton songs playing in the background? Will buying a fancy car & taking the family out for an expensive vacation once in 6 months compensate for the fact that youre not there with them almost every day of the year?
Was reading an article by Peter G. Peterson, one of the guys who founded the highly successful Blackstone Group who became a billionaire in his 80s & has donated most of his money to a worthy cause. His reaon for donating this much ? Well read it in his own words - "Kurt Vonnegut once told a story about seeing Joseph Heller at a wealthy hedge-fund manager's party at a beach house in the Hamptons. Casting his eye around the luxurious setting, Vonnegut said, "Joe, doesn't it bother you that this guy makes more in a day than you ever made from Catch-22?" "No, not really," Heller said. "I have something that he doesn't have: I know the meaning of enough." I have far more than enough." Profound.

Monday, May 11, 2009

After 8 years of Georgy .....

Ode to the Nice Guys

This was apparently written for the Wharton Undergraduate Journal. Good read.
This is a tribute to the nice guys. The nice guys that finish last, that never become more than friends, that endure hours of whining and bitching about what assholes guys are, while disproving the very point. This is dedicated to those guys who always provide a shoulder to lean on but restrain themselves to tentative hugs, those guys who hold open doors and give reassuring pats on the back and sit patiently outside the changing room at department stores. This is in honor of the guys that obligingly reiterate how cute/beautiful/smart/funny/sexy their female friends are at the appropriate moment, because they know most girls need that litany of support. This is in honor of the guys with open minds, with laid-back attitudes, with honest concern. This is in honor of the guys who respect a girl’s every facet, from her privacy to her theology to her clothing style.

This is for the guys who escort their drunk, bewildered female friends back from parties and never take advantage once they’re at her door, for the guys who accompany girls to bars as buffers against the rest of the creepy male population, for the guys who know a girl is fishing for compliments but give them out anyway, for the guys who always play by the rules in a game where the rules favor cheaters, for the guys who are accredited as boyfriend material but somehow don’t end up being boyfriends, for all the nice guys who are overlooked, underestimated, and unappreciated, for all the nice guys who are manipulated, misled, and unjustly abandoned, this is for you.
This is for that time she left 40 urgent messages on your cell phone, and when you called her back, she spent three hours painstakingly dissecting two sentences her boyfriend said to her over dinner. And even though you thought her boyfriend was a chump and a jerk, you assured her that it was all ok and she shouldn’t worry about it. This is for that time she interrupted the best killing spree you’d ever orchestrated in GTA3 to rant about a rumor that romantically linked her and the guy she thinks is the most repulsive person in the world. And even though you thought it was immature and you had nothing against the guy, you paused the game for two hours and helped her concoct a counter-rumor to spread around the floor. This is also for that time she didn’t have a date, so after numerous vows that there was nothing “serious” between the two of you, she dragged you to a party where you knew nobody, the beer was awful, and she flirted shamelessly with you, justifying each fit of reckless teasing by announcing to everyone: “oh, but we’re just friends!” And even though you were invited purely as a symbolic warm body for her ego, you went anyways. Because you’re nice like that.

The nice guys don’t often get credit where credit is due. And perhaps more disturbing, the nice guys don’t seem to get laid as often as they should. And I wish I could logically explain this trend, but I can’t. From what I have observed on campus and what I have learned from talking to friends at other schools and in the workplace, the only conclusion I can form is that many girls are just illogical, manipulative bitches. Many of them claim they just want to date a nice guy, but when presented with such a specimen, they say irrational, confusing things such as “oh, he’s too nice to date” or “he would be a good boyfriend but he’s not for me” or “he already puts up with so much from me, I couldn’t possibly ask him out!” or the most frustrating of all: “no, it would ruin our friendship.” Yet, they continue to lament the lack of datable men in the world, and they expect their too-nice-to-date male friends to sympathize and apologize for the men that are jerks. Sorry, guys, girls like that are beyond my ability to fathom. I can’t figure out why the connection breaks down between what they say (I want a nice guy!) and what they do (I’m going to sleep with this complete ass now!). But one thing I can do, is say that the nice-guy-finishes-last phenomenon doesn’t last forever. There are definitely many girls who grow out of that train of thought and realize they should be dating the nice guys, not taking them for granted. The tricky part is finding those girls, and even trickier, finding the ones that are single.

So, until those girls are found, I propose a toast to all the nice guys. You know who you are, and I know you’re sick of hearing yourself described as ubiquitously nice. But the truth of the matter is, the world needs your patience in the department store, your holding open of doors, your party escorting services, your propensity to be a sucker for a pretty smile. For all the crazy, inane, absurd things you tolerate, for all the situations where you are the faceless, nameless hero, my accolades, my acknowledgement, and my gratitude go out to you. You do have credibility in this society, and your well deserved vindication is coming.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The 1 lac debate

The first part of the set of question that everybody (and I really mean everybody) has been asking me since the day I got the keys of my blue baby has been the same - Why did you spend over Rs 1,00,000 on a bike (that puts out only 150cc)? Whats so special about the bike? Is it worth it? The timing couldnt have been worse. A couple of weeks after I took possession of my bike, Tata announced the release of their game changing Nano. Which costs just over Rs 1,00,000. Which brings me to the second half of the set of questions - So why not the Nano? Why a bike when you can get a good second hand car for the same price? Questions to which I had confident answers until 1 day a couple of weeks back.
While on a random unofficial unplanned mini team outing to the tea shop outside our office we saw a large crowd gathered around a couple of cars. On closer inspection we realised that the ignored of the 2 was the ubiqtuous Indica while the one that had the crowd swarming around it was a Nano, the first which I had seen outside the realms of magazines & websites. Tea plans put on hold, we decided to check out the car and boy was I floored. The seats are incredibly comfortable and the interior space can put almost all other small cars to shame. The car is in a word - brilliant & the only thing I could wish for is slightly more luggage space in the boot/under the bonnet for weekend getaways. It truly is the perfect car for someone like me who will be confined to the endless cycle of home - office - outings within the city 99% of the time. The higher end variants have all the creature comforts I require and would translate to slightly larger EMIs but it is worth the money.
A few hours later, I was all set to leave office for home when I realised that the sky was covered with clouds that had turned a sinister shade of black accompanied by strong winds that would have been better placed in the Perfect Storm. Even after an hour, the clouds continued to remain well, clouds & hoping that the rain gods would be merciful I set out on my 15km ride home. Just as I reached the busiest junction on the way home I noticed the first drop of rain that had fallen on my hand. In no time the rain dogs errrr gods were at their busiest & with no rain coat in hand, I was soaked to the bone before I could complete muttering my choisiest abuses. The only saving grace was that my phone was safe in my bag & avoided a trip to the service centre. The Nano versus R15 point had been hammered home with all the finesse of a blood thirsty barbarian on a killing spree.

And so days passed by while I searched for closure on this. On my way back home from M.G Road on a friday night, I was waiting at a red light when the guy (mid 20s) in the car next to me rolled down his window & asked me which bike. R15 I replied as I noticed his dad who was driving the car was also appreciating the bike. How much he asked. I told him the price only for him to respond with a big grin & a thumbs up. Whats the mileage he asked. Doesnt matter I replied. The grins on their faces couldnt have been bigger. And then I knew.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Getting the boot

There really doesnt seem to be any doubt as to what is in this summer both in India as well as across the world. Like all 'in things', it started off with one person taking the lead and daring to be different. To boldly do what nobody has done before.
And now just about everybody is doing it. P Chidambaram was at the receiving end of one from a Sikh journalist protesting against the clean chit handed out by the central government's pet puppy - the CBI. Well actually Jagadish Tyler was at the receiving end of that. It is unfortunate that it took a shoe to shake the Congress of its shamelessness but at least it finally took away hispromised Lok Sabha candidate position. The BJP's top brass hasnt been spared either - L K Advani was the target of the former district president of the BJP in Katni.

With so many companies & NGOs spreading the awareness of elections & accountability to the Indian public, its only a matter of time before more people start taking out their frustrations on our non-performing assets who masquerade as concerned politicians. unfortunately the shoe will eventually no longer be 'cool'. What then ? The smelly socks strategy isnt something that has been experimented with. The pink chaddies (chaddie = underwear) campaign in India did get off to a good start. I shudder to think if someone were to latch onto the idea & use that instead. Actually, now that I think of it I would actually enjoy someone throwing a pink chaddi at any one (or more) of our honestly corrupt politicians instead of just mailing one to them. Would make for good viewing & our news channels would air it continuously for a few days. That plus the IPL = nonsensical bliss.

2 things ...

It seems that are only 2 things to be found at the tips of the tongues of just about everybody right now

The general elections &


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Part 1

Dear Reader,
In these times of penny pinching corporates & papers screaming about the recession hit economy & the daily fear of getting laid off, it always makes sense to have a plan B. And a Plan C. A Plan D wouldnt hurt either. After a lot of thinking and a bit of soul searching I think Ive stumbled upon a Plan B which is absolutely golden. In fact it is so good that Im thinking I could shift it to my Plan A in some time. What exactly is my plan - To start my very own church.
Part of a much bigger plan which will be revealed eventually.

Now those who know me are probably laughing their heads off. Im not one they would associate with the church going kind, much less priestly material. To be honest I am a the regular Sunday mass going kind, nothing more nothing less. I like the values the Church talks about but I am not a fan of their practices and the petty politics they indulge in. Unfortunately its turned into a money making business & the Church is doing all it can to rake in the moolah. Add to that a number of their policies are pretty crappy which is what turns away a number of people even if they do come to Church every Sunday. No point in having jam packed churches if the faithful arent all that faithful.

In my, as yet unnamed, Church orthodoxy will be given the heave ho. No more struggling to wake up your kids on a Sunday morning for catechism classes. Sunday was the day the Lord rested and so should all of us. A more leisurely 10:30 AM Sunday school session is more like it (The priests need to sleep too you see ....) Of course, parents cannot force their kids to attend fearing that if they dont send them to Sunday school, they will not get the requisite certificates from the local parish priest when the time comes (which actually does happen in Kerala) If the kids want to attend then they should ask their parents to take them. Parents cannot in such circumstances claim laziness (since the classes are only at 10:30; how lazy are they ??).

Masses will be long enough not to be called short and short enough not to be called long. Nobody will be turned away from the Churches - Christians from other sects, non Christians, atheists are all welcome. Music will be an integral part of the service. However no rip-offs of other songs will be permitted (in my church, we unfortunately have a hymn which is set to the tune of Go West by the Pet Shop Boys (edit: not the Beach Boys as wrongly attributed earlier, thanks to Reuben for pointing it out). Also freedom of singing is permitted, no member attending service is permitted to give dirty looks to people who are less vocally gifted than the rest.

Readings will be open to all the attendees. No having the same people coming and reading in the same manner every single Sunday. No continuous sitting and then continuous standing and then continuous sitting and then standing .... Based on 25 years of (self) historical records, I have found that too much sitting makes the mind wander in boredom & too much standing leads to shuffling of the feet and wondering when the priest will get over so that you can sit and rest your aching legs. So the masses will be designed accordingly.

Of course, the priests will no longer have to follow traditional ways as well. No more white flowing cassocks and holier than thou clean shaven looks. Well if polka dotted shirts & bell bottoms are the rage this fashion season theres no reason why the priest should be prevented from joining his fashionista congregation. He will of course be permitted to try hair styles of his choice (spiked, coloured, traditional, bald etc) and is free to have facial hair (none, trimmed, shaped or left wild). Oh did I mention women priests will be allowed too. We all want a progressive society & I can find not one reason as to why a woman priest shouldnt be allowed to preach. In fact women can preach (in the non churchly way) much better than men.

Most importantly no preaching values which cannot be followed in this day and age. We openly talk about how difficult it is in India to manage with all our archaic laws & how something needs to be done to deal with these out of times laws which were written either in the British times or soon after they left. With all due respect to the Church, we are dealing with values are being preached from a book which is 2000 years old. We hear about how we should turn the left cheek when hit on the right one. How many people would actually do that today ? None. Nowadays its a case of 'if you slap me on the right cheek, I will slap you on the right cheek, the left cheek, bash your head with my fist & kicking the living daylights out of you....'. So old school values get the boot & more modern workable values will be preached.

All this is fine & good, so how is it going to be financially viable I hear you ask? The bills arent going to get paid by magic. Well to be honest, the days of putting in 20 bucks for sunday collection will be out the window. If you can afford to come for mass in a hatchback car like the Santro surely you can afford a 50. A Honda City owner can easily put in a 100 instead of the tenner he usually drops. Own a palatial house with a Merc parked in your driveway - is a couple of 100s too much to ask especially considering youre asking the Man above for enough money to add a BMW to your garage. Ok so I hear some of you saying what if we dont want to flaunt the wealth we have by putting a 500 rupee note ? Two words - online transactions. Thats right, transparent transactions of the online kind with monthly bank statements open to the public with the donators name hidden if he/she desires. Gone are the days of praying to God for
all you want and not giving anything in return.

Before I forget, enough of having to come to church to get married under age old customs without giving them any freedom of choice. In fact its becoming ridiculously difficult to get a church that is not booked on a weekend to conduct your wedding. Instead my church will openly suggest to its faithful to think outside the box when it comes to marriage. Dreaming of that perfect wedding on a sunset beach? So be it, we will send our priest, you tell us the location. Want to have a complete beach theme ? No problem, we will send the priest in a Hawaiian shirt & red shorts. Underwater marriage catches your fancy ? We will send you a priest who knows to swim to say the mass. In his swim wear of course. The sky is the limit. Speaking of which if you do want to get married while being airdropped off a plane, we do think that exchanging the rings in mid air might be a bit of an issue .....

Signed,Neil D

Head, ________ Church (blank will be filled in when a suitable name is found, suggestions welcome)