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.