Sunday, November 28, 2010

The question that has no answer

"Does this dress make me look fat?" The dreaded devious question hung menacingly in the air. Like Damocles sword, its razor sharp blade ready to drop at the slightest hint of a mistake. Dumping whatever clothes we had picked up we rushed towards the changing rooms of the store from where the fiendish question had arisen. Pretending to carefully check out the stuff on the racks near the changing room (never mind that it was all womens wear) we carefully sized up the situation while preparing ourselves for the impending massacre. None of us had ever laid our eyes on this guy before and now that the question was popped, we honestly weren’t expecting to see him alive again.

To be honest, the two of them made a cute couple. One of those picture perfect duos that you would probably spot on the walls of a photography studio. That is if the bugger managed to wriggle out of the predicament he was in right now. Highly improbable but we sent up a collective prayer for the poor sod.

Educational Lesson 1 - Hesitancy. Of all the things you should never do when a woman asks you a question, hesitancy is number one. Especially if she asks you a sensitive question. Even more so when it is about her weight. Remember that, fellow lads, never hesitate. It makes you appear as though you have to think before replying. And women don’t like men who think. Especially men who think before replying about their weight.

"Does this make me look fat?" This time there was a noticeable difference in the tone of the girl’s voice. Like rivers up in the mountains that slowly begin to freeze as winter begins its gradual descent upon us all, the sentence slowly increased in iciness, word by word, second by second.
"Blimey, has dead meat" said my friend (henceforth F1).
"Err (pause) I didn’t get what you said" replied the soon to be carcass of a friend / boyfriend / fiancĂ© / husband.
"He paused. He is soooo dead" pitched in another of our guy group (henceforth F2).
"How could you not hear my question? I repeated it twice. What is your answer? A simple yes or no." came the frigid reply.
"She wants a simple answer. Poor guy" I said as we watched the guy wither away under the steely glare of the girl.

Educational Lesson 2 - When a woman says she wants a simple reply, do not, I repeat, under any circumstances give a simple reply. When a woman says she wants a simple yes or no, you are expected to give a long winding, elaborate and eloquent speech that is both yes and no and does not commit yourself firmly to either a yes or a no. Examples of questions that are a prelude to the "It’s a simple yes or no question" are
a. Have you done the work that I’ve been asking you to do for the last 3 months?
b. Have you bought anything for me on the occasion of our upcoming anniversary?
c. Do you find your attractive secretary attractive?

The reason why men find the "Does this dress make me look fat" question highly revolting is because the question rapidly descends into either one of the following scenarios
Scene 1:
Guy - Of course not sweety, that’s rubbish. You don’t look fat. In fact you look extremely pretty in that dress. I think you should pick it up. (Internally congratulating himself for having handled the situation with poise and diplomacy)
Girl (about to descend into tears) - You think this makes me look fat (descending into tears)
Guy - What? No, I never said that. Why would you think that? Please stop crying, I don’t think you’re fat.
Girl (sobbing) - Is it too much to (sob) expect you to (sob) be honest with (sob) m(sob)e? Why don’t (sob) you tell me (sob) instead of (sob) trying to (sob) hide it. (Big sob) You think I’m fatttt ....
Guy (thinking to himself) - WTF?!

Scene 2:
Guy - You know what sweety, this isn’t really a good dress. The stitching is all weird. It’s a bit loose here and tight in other parts. It doesn’t really compliment your body. Why don’t we get you another dress. (Internally congratulating himself for having handled the situation with poise and diplomacy)
Girl - You think I’m fat (in a tone akin to someone saying 'You think Im racist') !
Guy (panic beginning to set in) - What? Of course not! I just said there was something wrong with the dress.
Girl - So you think I’m stupid as well as fat. Something wrong with the dress it seems, didn’t have the guts to tell me straight! You know what, there is something wrong with you! You can go to hell .... (Storming off)
Guy (thinking to himself) - WTF?!

Needless to say, the two of them pretty much stuck to the script (Scene 2 in this case) and as we walked away shell shocked from witnessing the verbal dressing down of a lifetime, we realised that we had to do something about it. All 3 of us were sure that we would not be able to handle such a cataclysmic event (not having a bitter errr better half helps but unfortunately all our parents are keen on rectifying that). And so we made a pact. Not as dramatic as the pact as the one made in the Lord of The Rings or in the United Nations but it was close enough.

F1, F2 and I thus created the Helpline for Evacuation of Languishing Pals (H.E.L.P), an organisation that has the following rules
- A member of H.E.L.P will always assist a fellow H.E.L.P member, whatever the circumstances the rescuer is in
- Any guy who is a member of H.E.L.P and has been asked the dastardly question "Does this dress make me look fat" will immediately send the following sms HELP to our secret number
- On receiving his sms, our systems will track down his location (God bless technology!) and send instant sms alerts to all other H.E.L.P members in the vicinity
- All nearby H.E.L.P members will rush to the location and assist in the immediate evacuation and rescue of the victim
- It is recommended that the rescuing H.E.L.P party uses one of the following excuses to enable the rapid escape of the unfortunate victim
a. Your uncle has died, I’m sorry. You need to come to the hospital immediately
b.Thank God I found you. The boss has been trying to get in touch with you for the last few hours.
c. Do you know (insert name of high sounding official), then come with us without a moments delay. This is a matter of national emergency.
d.Your dog has died. You need to come to the vet clinic immediately.
e. That critical assignment is due in 2 hours, come immediately.

Be prepared my fellow brothers. One knows not when the cursed question may befall thee. Pay a minimal joining fee and ensure that you are safe and sound every time you go shopping. So that instead of having guys discreetly watch you getting dissected, you can instead have the very same guys help you escape nature’s wrath with a single sms. Remember, we at H.E.L.P are always there to help.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Too grey or not too grey

In a solemn tone that would have been more appropriate for a doctor about to tell the dashing hero of the movie that he had life threatening cancer or a sidekick telling the above mentioned hero that his house along with his dog was going to be blown up by terrorists, or both, my friend slowly said me "You have grey hair!". It sounded like the curse of our forefathers was upon me, the end of the world was near, the sky was falling blah blah.

"Of course I do" I replied nonchalantly, "I’ve had greys for quite some time now. Ive just stopped getting rid of them". I watched her eyes grow to the size of saucers and worried they might pop out I proceeded to explain "It gives me a distinguished look. And women these days like men who have that sophisticated air. Right?"

"I don’t know who feeds you all this drivel. We women like nothing of that sort. Grey hair does not make you look smart at all. All it does is make you look old. Like our uncles. We don’t want to be seen with old men. Except our Dad's of course .... You should dye your hair or cut those grey hairs off ASAP if you want to find yourself a woman. Otherwise you can continue to remain single!"

As I pondered on the benefits on continuing to stay a bachelor for the next few years, it dawned on me. "What about George Clooney?" I enquired. "Oooooh, I’ve had a crush on George Clooney since like forever. I could go on a romantic dinner date with him followed by a walk on a moonlight beach and .... "

"But he has grey hair and hence looks old" I interjected before the details became too embarrassingly mushy. "Rubbish, he is perfect. He's so smart, so handsome, so so so what is the word I’m looking for ummmm yummy." Gross! "But he is old enough to be your Dad" I added, trying to fuel the fire. "Nonsense, we would make a perfect couple, George and I. Neil, can you imagine the perfect wedding George and I would have, our sons would be so handsome and our daughters would be so beautiful ...."

"But hes got grey hair!" I exclaimed as I realised logic had made a hasty exit a few minutes back. "How can he be perfect?"

"Shut up, you’re just jealous" she said as she walked away with dreamy eyes as visions of little Georges running around her filled her happy mind. My mind, on the other hand, was still reeling from the conversation. It was almost as if I’d been sucker punched by Mike Tyson. Was I better off with grey hair? Or was I supposed to not have grey hair. None of it made sense any more.

I ran my hand through my hair as I looked at myself in the mirror. Maybe I could go bald. Like Andre Agassi. I’ve never tried that. Im sure women would dig that. I think I should talk to my friend about it. As long as she doesn’t start dreaming about pushing Steffi Graf out of the picture and starting a family with Andre ….

To Be A MMAHN .....

"Aaaaaargggghhhhhh !". The blood curdling scream wasn’t exactly my idea of an ideal alarm but out here in the wild I guess I couldn’t really complain. Jumping out of my tent (read slowly making my way out as I fought drowsiness) I half expected to see one of the guys battling a big bear or fending off a tiger or chasing away some cheeky monkeys who would've tried stealing our food. Instead all I saw was Mr. X (name withheld due to the embarrassment it would cause him if this incident became public) with his travel kit in his hand looking pale as a ghost. Fish! Maybe he spotted a snake or a scorpion or something. The thought of a snake in your campsite sure does leave you wide away in an awful hurry.

"What happened?" I asked as I ran towards him (after making sure there weren’t any creepy crawlies in the vicinity). "My stuff, where is my stuff ??" shouted Mr. X, the displeasure becoming more and more evident with each passing second. By now the others had slowly woken up and had made their way out to the clearing. "What stuff?" one of them asked. By now, Mr. X's breathing had become more laboured and his face was turning red, ostensibly with anger. “I want to know, where my skin cream, my sunscreen lotion, my face wash, my hair gel and the rest of my essentials have gone!".

"Is that all?" one of the others replied as he made his way back into his tent and plonked back into his makeshift bed, more from laziness than from exhaustion. Realising that it was close to 7 AM and that we city slickers were out there in the middle of nowhere, the others proceeded to silently follow suit until someone said "Neil, tell him how to be a MMAHN". "How to be a man?!" Mr. X exclaimed indignantly as he proceeded to stomp towards the other tents but he stopped when he heard the sound of snoring.

"Relax, they wanted me to tell you how to be Mildly Metrosexual And Hence Normal i.e. a MMAHN. The night before we left on this week long outdoors camping trip away from civilization, the guys realised that we had packed too much. Actually they realised that you had packed too much. So while you were sleeping, they opened out your suitcase and dumped everything that you didn’t need into the back seat of the car."

"But but but ….." sputtered Mr. X in disbelief, "I need all those products! I use them everyday, why in the world did you guys think it was not essential? Just because you guys don’t take care of yourselves doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t. Who said only women have to look good?". Mr. X was becoming rather cross, I would have to step in before he blew his top.

"So here's the thing. You use all these products, you go for a pedicure and a manicure ever so often and get yourself waxed every month, is that as painful as they say it is, ok doesn’t matter, my point is all this is actually not necessary. Being metrosexual was so last year. No one is saying don’t look good. But don’t become a victim to the evil conspiracy that has been hatched by all these companies that make you want to buy more and more of their harmful products that offer only psychological benefits. Which is why you should be a MMAHN."

"This means looking good but with less effort. No long waits in the parlour, no yanking off your manly chest hairs while stifling the urge to scream like a little girl, no spending hours in front of the mirror wondering if your skin looks a tone fairer and glows more than it did last week. Instead use a limited set of products that achieve the purpose with minimal time and effort. And that is exactly what being a MMAHN is all about. Think of all those hours you spend grooming yourself. Would you not have benefitted from working out in the gym instead?" I had to pause to take a breath. More importantly it looked like he had cooled down.

"Hmmm, you might have a point there". So he wasn’t totally convinced. Time to drive the final nail in the coffin. "Think about this, do you really need all that girly (extra emphasis on girly) when you are going out for a week long camping trip. With guys. In the middle of the freakin' jungle. Its not like we are surrounded by women out here."

"Maybe youre right, if I had a fiancĂ©e I am sure that she would keep complaining that I spend more on cosmetics than her. And I could do with a few extra hours in the gym every week (involuntarily flexing his biceps in while he is talking). Maybe you guys are right after all. Thankfully there are no women around". Phew! Mission accomplished. I didn’t know what was more difficult, get highly metrosexual men to understand that they need to take it easy or getting normal men to realize that they need to take care of themselves.

We proceeded to have a glorious couple of days of fishing, trekking, lazying around, cooking and swimming. A campfire was the perfect way to end our second day as we recalled old stories and laughed heartily at incidents and jokes, some funny and others not so funny. We finally retired to the not so comfortable confines of our tents and just as I was in the transition from light sleep to the glorious deep slumber that follows a perfect day, I was awakened by one of the guys who had scrambled into my tent.

"Dude I think we have a problem" he said. I asked, "What is it?" while my brain was furiously trying to scramble itself out of its deep sleep shutdown mode. "Shhhh, listen" he said. All I could hear were crickets (of the multi-legged kind) and assorted insects chirping away to glory. And then ever so faintly, I heard the sound of women laughing. It couldn’t be. I turned to the intruder in my tent. He nodded without me even asking. "I took a walk and checked. Looks like it’s a group of 30 women on an office outing. And they have camped 5 minutes away from our site. Mr. X is going to throw a sissy fit tomorrow morning when he finds out. What will we do ??"

All of us, with the exception of Mr X with a new found hideous stubble courtesy his MMAHN bliss snored away all night, barely slept a wink. And the next morning we all pretended to be fast asleep when he woke up and walked around and spotted the women’s campsite and let loose his trademark "Aaaaaargggghhhhhh !"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Winner take all .....

It’s been brewing for years. Below the surface the opposing undercurrents have been strongly clashing with each other, neither side ready to give up, neither side ready to back down. On occasion raising up a storm but mostly restricted to the awe inspiring sound of the thunderous crashing of waves. A battle in which both sides believed that they were right. A clash of ideologies that would have continued for years to come but for the fact that leaders on both sides
believed that the time was ripe for the final blow to be struck to their opponents.

And so it happened that on the seventeenth day of the eleventh month of the year two thousand and ten, both sides laid it all on the line. No more unfriendly jibes, no more below the belt comments, no more going for the jugular. One representative from each side would step up in a verbal joust for the ages. No draws, no timeouts, no mid sparring coaching, no pausing for your breath. There would be only one winner. Only one side would walk away with their heads held
high saying "We were right all along" while the other side would hold their heads down in shame. The stakes, were well and truly, high.

But before such a history altering battle could commence, both sides realised the need for a fair arbitrator. The leaders on both sides had too much pride to win through a tainted victory. They knew they needed a man of great wisdom & intellect. A man who could slice and separate the nonsense from the core of the issue with ruthlessness and without favour. A fair and just man. A man whose judgement is without question. So they chose me.


I woke up this morning to the drone of an angry mob. The police are always jittery when crowds begin to emit that steady drone which signifies that the crowd is talking animatedly amongst themselves. And an animatedly talking crowd almost always descends into pure, unadulterated chaos. I walked up to the hotel window and tried to rub the sleep out of my eyes. As my eyes adjusted to the bright sunlight, I saw a mass of humanity that was split down the middle by a heavily armed police force. Men and women, people of all shapes, sizes and colours constituted the two equal halves. They were all here to be a part of history. The camera crews were setting up the giant screens outside. I looked at my watch. 45 minutes to go. Lets do this.


4 minutes to go. I’ve been sitting on stage for the last few minutes. The air-conditioning is on but I can see people sweating profusely. I close my eyes for a moment and smile. A battle like this ought to have been settled in a Roman arena. Scenes from the movie The Gladiator flash across my mind. Instead here we are, like civilised men and women, in the conference hall of one of the world's plushest hotels. Both sides have been given an equal number of seats and a police cordon stands guard in the middle. I don’t expect trouble but with such sensitive issues, you never really know till the fat lady sings. I scan the crowd. There is not an empty seat. People shifting uncomfortably in their chairs. I nod at the front rows of either half. 2 men stand up and make their way up the stage from opposite ends and take their places behind their microphones.

I step up to my microphone which is right in the middle of the stage. My eyes blink from the popping flashlights. I should’ve worn my sunglasses I think to myself. Crap ! Don’t smile now because of your stupid joke and spoil the whole thing. This is history in the making. I manage to keep a straight face. I take a second.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure all of you know why we are here and what is at stakes here. But just in case you have avoided newspapers, television, radio and other people for the last one month and have decided to switch on your television set or radio, let me inform you that you have tuned in to the final battle between the vegetarians and the non vegetarians that will decide once and for all which side is correct and justified. My ruling will be fair and final.

I have a simple scoring system, akin to a tennis match. Either side can bring out a point and the other side will have a chance to reply. The winner of the exchange wins a point. The first side to reach six point with a two point lead wins the debate. There will be no tie breaker system, the
debate will continue till you have a two point lead after you reach six points. Parliamentary language (Crap ! Don’t smile now because of your stupid joke and spoil the whole thing. This is history in the making.) will not be permitted and will result in disqualification. To my left we have the vegetarians represented by Mr VG and to my right we have Mr NV." I look at both participants and ask them if they have any doubts. I’ve been through the rules with both sides backstage several times. I look at my watch, 10 seconds to go. I pause for the added drama. "Fight!"

Mr VG - Don’t you non vegetarians know that animals are living beings with feelings? They go through the same cycle of life that we humans go through. How can you people be so heartless and cruel? All animals deserve to lead a full life. It is inhuman to butcher them just to satisfy your greed.
Mr NV - You’re right, animals are living beings that go through the complete cycle of life and ultimately death. Just as plants are living beings that also follow natures cycle of life and death. Take for example that salad you had for breakfast this morning. All those vegetables would have grown on the plants they belong to and died on those plants had it not been for the greed of you people. And speaking of greed, I admit our greed might result in the loss of lives of animals. But tell me, how many vegetarians seated here are wearing leather shoes and carrying leather wallets and bags? Aren’t animals killed for that?

"1 - 0 non vegetarians" I announce into the mic. The last couple of sentences sealed the deal.

Mr NV - And speaking of natures cycle of life and death of plants. Tell me something, is it not your selfishness and insistence on eating fruits and vegetables that is depriving herbivorous animals all across the world their natural source of food. Here you are telling me about what is right for animals. Is it right that you take away their only source of food? What if you vegetarians swell in number and deplete all our food resources? What will our animals do? Do you want them to become cannibals?
Mr VG - Err that is a frivolous errr ummm ....

"2 - 0 non vegetarians"

Mr NV - Is it not true that with all our scientific advances in agriculture, man has been depending more and more on the use of fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides to increase the productivity of crop? And is it not true that digesting these is harmful to the body? And is it not true that if a person were to digest an animal that has eaten this chemically treated crop, the chance of contamination is less because it has already been processed once by the system of the animal ?
Mr VG - (mumbles something into the mic)
I - Could you repeat that louder for the benefit of the audience and the judge ?
Mr VG (Stammering) - Yes, yes and yes ....

"3 - 0 non vegetarians" There was a steady murmur throughout the crowd.

Mr NV - Is it not true that most vegetarians also eat eggs? And is it not true that in order to ensure that the eggs do not get fertilized chickens are injected with several hormones that result in them becoming egg laying machines and nothing more. Is it right to play God with these poor animals just so that you so called clean vegetarians can eat eggs while justifying your actions saying that there is no life in the egg and hence it will never fertilize?
Mr VG (dipping his head) - Yes, yes and no.

"4 - 0 non vegetarians" The excitement levels were rising and the mood in the crowd had changed perceptibly. The non vegetarian speaker paused and turned to me asking "O wise and honourable judge, it appears that we do not have a level playing field. Would you allow one round with a little back and forth questions and answers, your holiness?" It appeared to be a fair request and I agreed. It was after all turning out to be rather one sided.

Mr NV - " Tell me, Mr NG. Do you like to travel ?"
Mr VG (taken aback by the unexpected direction of the discussion) : "Yes, yes I do. My wife and I like to travel a lot."
Mr NV - " You looked like a travelling man to me. The moment I saw you I knew that I was pitted against a man who has seen the world. Am I right?"
Mr VG - " Well I wouldn’t go so far as to say that but yes I have seen several countries and cultures."
Mr NV - "Rome ? Paris ? Milan ? The Niagra Falls?"
Mr VG - "I have been fortunate to visit these wonderful places in my lifetime. But why do you ask?"

The audience by now was also visibly intrigued. After the rapid fire first few minutes, they could sense the seemingly innocuous questions were leading upto something big.

Mr NV (ignoring the last question) - "What about India? Have you been to the Taj Mahal?"
Mr VG - "It is most beautiful. My wife loved it. But I really don’t see where you are going with this."
Mr NV - "I’m sure you have been to the lovely city of Cochin, in the state that is called God's own country, Kerala. What memories do you have of that place?"
Mr VG - "Why yes, we have been there. It is gobsmackingly beautiful. But they did have dreadful mosquitoes. We used to wake up covered in mosquito bites. I used to sit up and swat those mosquitoes for hours on end and they still kept coming. It was terri ...."
Mr VG realised he had been setup.

"5 - 0 non vegetarians"

"This is ridiculous, my statements were taken out of context. There was nothing we could do" he protested.

I could see Mr NV smiling. He was going for the kill. Like a lion in the savannah, he had played with his prey and was now tired. Let it be swift and painless I prayed. Already one side of the hall looked disconsolate.

Mr NV - "Imagine you are on a safari through a jungle. Somehow you get separated from your guide and the rest of your team. You have no weapons, no compass, no food and no water. You come across a clearing and suddenly you see a male lion and a pack of female lions. Would you turn around and run ?"
Mr VG - "Of course I would."

They both turned expectantly to me waiting for my judgement. I unfortunately had no clue what had just transpired. I looked at Mr NV quizzically.

Mr NV - "So when confronted with a lion you would turn around and run. But when a mosquito comes towards you, you would jump up and kill it. Why don’t you run instead ....."

My ruling of 6-0 non vegetarians could hardly be heard over the commotion and the celebration. The jubilation of the crowd outside had to be heard to be believed. I walked up to the winning speaker who couldnt wipe the smile off his face and shook his hand and said "Congratulations. No pun intended but it was a bloodbath."

Monday, November 15, 2010

(H/Cr)appy Holidays !

"Incoming !" yelled the guy next to me as we ducked just in time to see a rocket whizz past us and crash into the wall. I was picking myself up while dusting off all the dirt on my clothes when the world stopped for a moment. BOOM ! An explosion that was loud enough to get my ears ringing all over again. "This is not good" I muttered to myself as I regained my temporarily lost senses and tried to gauge what was happening. Rat-tat-tat-tat. The sound of gunfire. No point in ducking this time. More explosions. My ears were taking a battering by now and crying for some relief. I looked up and saw another rocket take off and burst into a gay riot of colours. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, not to a battlefield, but to India celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights.

Call me old fashioned or boring but I prefer the type of Diwali which involves lighting of diyas and sharing of sweets and the sensible use of fireworks. Fireworks that do not include bombs (the deafness inducing firework) that will wake even the dead from their eternal rest or the 10,000 (a headache inducing type of firework that has 10,000 individual crackers that go off one by one). Give me a fountain, sparklers and the crazy spinning fireworks any day which make hardly any noise and don’t cause the dogs to head for cover.

Which got me thinking, has the true essence of festivals been lost in India? No longer do people want to head home and spend quality time with their families for the holidays. Instead people seem to look forward to the holidays only because discounts are available everywhere. When did this commercialization take over? Whatever happened to being happy and hence nice to others during the holiday season?

Take for example the situation every Christmas. Roads are clogged as last minute shoppers are on the hunt for stars and decorations. In the ensuring traffic jams, people stick to the whole season of giving mentality by giving each other the bird accompanied by a healthy dose of abuses as they jostle for real estate on our roads. During Diwali, people take over our roads to burst crackers (often late into the night) while not giving two hoots about pedestrians or commuters. I remember seeing an old man fall off his cycle because he was struck by a rocket that was set off by a boy who was placing them parallel to the ground and lighting them instead of pointing them to the sky.

How about it people? Why not take a small little vow to be more responsible and thoughtful the next time the holidays come around? Spread the word. That way I won’t have to jump behind the nearest tree every time a dimwit kid fires off a rocket at me. And considering that I’m losing more and more of my hearing with each passing Diwali, the next time it happens I just may not hear the shout of “Incoming!”

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Viva La Raza

Today is the 5th death anniversary of one of the greatest wrestlers and entertainers of all time, Eddie Guerrero. The man who made "Latino Heat", "Mamacita" & "I lie, I cheat, I steal" familiar to millions of wrestling fans around the world. The man who had his demons and overcame them to get his life back on track. The man who literaly stole our hearts with his passion, dedication and enthusiasm.

R.I.P Eddie

Monday, November 01, 2010

Looking or searching for an extra roommate?

Looking or searching for an extra roommate?
  • Did your roommate perform so badly in the last quarter that his boss decided to ship him off to Timbuktu?
  • Did your roommate foolishly go find the girl of his dreams and promise to marry her soon?
  • Did your roommate get tired of the big city life and decide to home and look after his dad’s collapsing business?
  • Did your roommate think that he is going to make a pot load of cash by working abroad?
  • Are you left without a roommate and the entire rent to pay by yourself?
Come find others like you who are searching for a roommate at the next “Looking or searching for an extra roommate?” meeting at Abcd Hall on the 1st of April. Contact us at 098652xxxxx.

‘Bloody ‘ell, this is it’, I said to myself triumphantly as I finished reading the advertisment. No more scanning through the classifieds every 6 months as yet another new roommate of mine packs his bags and moves out. Usually to get married. In a couple of cases, before my new roommate could finish unpacking he had to start packing because his folks had found him a suitable match out of the blue. I’m not making this up! In fact it has reached such a stage that no longer am I breaking my head about having to settle down myself. Instead I have to keep worrying about how I am going to pay the next months rent if my possibly soon to be ex - roomie decides to do a Houdini on me. They said marriage was tough. I don’t think they were talking about the difficulty people like me have to go through each time someone decides to bite the dust.

“Gentlemen, welcome to the first ever ‘Looking or searching for an extra roommate?’ meeting in Bangalore. My name is John Smith (name has been deliberately changed to protect this persons identity) and I have created a startup - “Looking or searching for an extra roommate?” after my MBA.” I groaned internally. Not another I think I’ve hit the magic jackpot because I’ve done an MBA nut. But I had to admit his idea was good and he seemed enthusiastic enough. Wearing a rather dapper suit he did stand out though the pink tie wasn’t to my liking. But, what do I know about style anyway?

“… while doing my MBA I remember so many of my seniors telling me that they faced a tough time finding flat mates because they came and went with the speed of the batting lineup of the Indian cricket team on yet another insipid collapse. And so I thought to myself …”. Another groan. This time it isn’t a silent internal one. When will he get to the point I wonder. People sitting next to me turn and look disapprovingly.

“ …… and so all you need to do is to tick the boxes on your application form which will help us identify the sort of roommate you want. Our propriety software will then pick the best possible roommate for you. Sort of like a dating agency” My hand involuntarily smacks my head as his last sentence runs through my mind. Male roommates. Dating agency. Gulp! Is this for gays? I desperately try pushing the thought out of my head. I scan the ad again. I re - read it. I put his dating agency quote down to him being a schmuck with an MBA degree in hand.

“Being the first ever “Looking or searching for an extra roommate?” meeting, we have a special contest for the members of the audience. Whoever can come up with the best name for this startup group gets a wonderful prize”. Highly audible groan from me this time. I hate the wonderful prize gimmick. Unfortunately it was within the earshot of our hotshot MBA who turns to our direction. Using my old trick, I turn and look accusingly at the rather innocuous chap sitting next to me who in turn gets a cold stare from Johnnie boy.

“Lets have a demonstration for the benefit of those present here. I would like to invite 5 volunteers onto the stage to list out their requirements from the ideal roommate. Then see how our system matches their requirements and finds the perfect roomie”. Hands shoot up everywhere. As always mine stay firmly rooted down. The 5 selected volunteers trot up and the first guy is given the mic.

“Hi, I am looking for a roommate who should be highly presentable. I have a lot of relatives staying in Bangalore and my parents keep flying in regularly. Hence the house has to be spic and span all the time and my roommate has to be presentable at all times. The last time my mom and sister flew in on the midnight flight they saw my half asleep roommate walking to the loo for a piss dressed only in his underwear. And to make matters worse he didn’t shut the door. It was embarrassing to say the least. And then there was that one case when …”

“Thank you sir” said our young gun interrupting the first volunteer, obviously not expecting to have gotten off on such a note. “How about we try the next volunteer?”. “Hi, I am new to Bangalore. I have never been away from home for more than 2 days at a stretch and I really miss my Mummy & Papa. I am looking for a roommate who will provide a shoulder to lean on and be a true soul mate for me. He should compliment me perfectly and ….”

“Thank you sir, thank you” said our man with the MBA as he jumped in rather hurriedly. Strangely I relished his discomfort. “How about we try the next volunteer?” he said as he turned to the man who had taken possession of the mic. All his marketing and HR sessions couldn’t help him mask the fact that he wished the 3rd volunteer wasn’t on stage. Cause the man was visibly drunk. Or stoned. Or both.

“Hey. I’m working the graveyard shift most days so my potential roommate doesn’t have to worry about me getting in the way. In fact today is one of the rare days that I’m awake at this time. The only problem is that since I’m awake only at nights I cant get any work done since everything is shut. So my roomie will have to help me a bit. Like taking my clothes to the dhobi. And buying groceries. And occasionally dropping my vehicle for servicing. And getting me some booze once in a while. And he should like heavy metal. And ….”

“T – tttha – thhaank you” stammered Mr Smith who obviously realized he was in over his young head. “How about get some responses from the audience for the naming contest?” in an obvious attempt to prevent further embarrassment. Awkward silence. It was time to put the young man out of his misery. And so my hand slowly went up.

Visible relief. “The gentleman in the last row. Yes sir, you have a suggestion?”. “Why not an acronym?” I ask. “Acronym? Of what?” asks the young man. ”Your tagline. Its everywhere. Its your motto. Its your signature. It defines your startup” I reply. He turned to the large poster behind him and read out slowly, “Looking or searching for an extra roo …… LOSER ?!”

He turned around with what I was later told was a murderous look on his face. But by then I had already disappeared. As I strolled down the street I realized there was only 1 thing left to do. I pulled the flyer out of my pocket. I read the tagline one last time “Looking or searching for an extra roommate?” before tearing up the flyer and dumping it unceremoniously in the next dust bin. Losers. Now to find myself a new roommate ....