Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Business That Doesn’t Sell

Yesterday, I came across an advertisement painted on a wall that read (and I kid you not about this):

Tender Touch Children’s Hospital
Phone no.: _________

Now, I’m not exactly sure why, but for some reason I think there’s something funny about the name. Okay, fine I’ll admit it. I do know why -- it reeks of pedophilia! I can’t imagine how the brain behind this “hospital” came up with such a terrible name for his little “child molesting center”. He might as well have just said, “Hey! We’d like to fiddle about with your precious children and then send you a bill for it!”

I’d also be interested in meeting some of the clientele of this place. I believe I could sell the non-functional piece of cardboard, that I bought off the Internet for $500, to them at a handsome profit. My motto is -- “If you meet stupid people, make some money off it.” (The person who sold me that piece of cardboard on E-Bay had a similar motto, I presume.)

What other inappropriate names can you think of for businesses? Off the top of my head, here are some that I came up with:

1. Laugh It Off -- Funeral Home
2. Ave Satanus -- Catholic Goods Store
3. Big Paunch -- Beer
4. Ugly Figures -- Clothes for Women
5. Coke Rocks -- Rehab Center for Drug Addicts

What can you think of?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Checking for Idiots

According to me, the “half-check” is the most efficient way of wasting time and manpower. I’m referring to the security check at offices at other such places where the guard asks you to open your bag, then throws a cursory glance at the contents and waves you on. It happens to me all the time. I’m yet to understand what this achieves.

Okay, I agree it stops me from trying to sneak in the following items in my bag:

1. A sub-machine gun.
2. An elephant.
3. The Indian Cricket Team.
4. The Empire State Building.

Cursory as those glances may be, I feel certain that they would be able to detect any of the above, or other things of similar size. But I also feel equally certain that no one who intends to cause trouble or steal information is likely to do it using the above items. For example, I can easily sneak in a memory stick or a small pistol. If a “check” isn’t going to check for the more likely causes of trouble, then what’s the point of the check at all?

I remember an incident, which occurred at Mood Indigo at IIT, Powai, last year. At the rock show on the last night, there was a long line at the entrance, since people were being stopped and frisked at the gate. Among other things, they were looking for people carrying weed into the arena. (Yes, doesn’t make sense, but that’s how it was.) Just as we reach the point of the checking, the guy with me says, “Dude, they’re going to stop and frisk you for sure! You look totally stoned!”

As luck would have it, the guys at the desk probably heard this. Sure enough, they stopped me for a thorough frisking, molestation, cupping, call it what you may. Then after that, two guys stepped up to test my breath. Now, I’m fine with a breath test when proper methods are employed. And I don’t file “put your mouth to mine and sniff” under “proper methods”. Ultimately, I think I got more kissing and fondling action from those two guys that night, than I’d gotten from girls in the entire year before that. I wasn’t happy.

My point? In all the mishmash, the waist pouch around my waist wasn’t even noticed, let alone opened. And if I was carrying weed into the damned place, that’s WHERE IT WOULD HAVE BEEN! I find it hard to believe that there was an agenda to the exercise other than providing a little fun for a couple of happy and gay gate volunteers.

All this nonsense is like a American Visa application form that has a question saying:

23. Are you a terrorist? Yes No
(Don’t lie. We hate terrorists, but we REALLY hate lying terrorists!)

We are not amused.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Did We Just Lose Ourselves A Planet?

Yesterday I heard that the “Planet” has been pulled out of Pluto. I’m wondering if this is the first time that’s ever happened? Has there ever been a time in history when a group of scientists, astronomers, monkeys, whatever, got together and one of them said, “Hey, I’m not sure I like the idea of Mars being a planet. My 6-year-old son keeps asking me why there’s a big candy bar floating about in space and more importantly, where can he get himself a ticket to go there? Let’s just declare Mars to be an asteroid instead. No one knows the names of the asteroids.”

Maybe at some other time, religious clerics [and these guys were big in the Middle Ages] decided to demote Venus because it sounded uncomfortably similar to a certain male body part. I’m sure such Planet Disposal Meetings must have been a lot of fun:

Monkey 1 (M1): I think we should get rid of something today.
Monkey 2 (M2): What?
M1: Uranus.
M2: No way! My ass remains just where it is.
M1: Venus then?
M2: Huh? I need that too, for removal of bodily waste fluids and procreative activities.

I’m interested in things that affect me in some way or the other. I think this is a natural tendency. For example, if I heard that the government has decided to grant $1000 a month to everyone whose name and surname have the same number of letters in them, then I’d be mighty interested. But I’m not sure how Pluto’s being a planet or not is going to affect 99% of the Earth’s population. Let’s look at those who might possibly be affected:

1. Someone who’s booked a ticket to Planet Pluto for 2030. He’d obviously be disappointed about Pluto’s demotion, since what initially promised to be a cool trip to the farthermost planet is now just a REALLY expensive ride to some rock in space.

2. Astrologers. I’m sure this episode must have affected astrology in some way. If you stop to think about it, then it really shouldn’t -- a solid body floating about in space has the same effect [which might well be zero] on people on Earth, whether one refers to it as a “planet” or not. However, the term “thinking astrologer” is an oxymoron.

How do these people decide when they want to bump off a planet? I’m sure there must be a reason more sophisticated than “after three-quarters of a century we’ve realized this thing’s a little too small for the term”. I’m sure the lower size limit for planetary status can’t have suddenly changed overnight. And if it did, I’m worried that the trend might continue. Mercury will go next, and the Earth’s fourth in line. After that we’ll all be living on a mere rock in the middle of space. NOW I’m truly concerned.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Say Cheese!

As a kid I hated appearing in photographs. My dislike for photographs extended to all occasions, from family functions and gatherings to vacations. The reason for this dislike was one part shyness, one part “who-the-hell-is-going-to-care-about-that-picture-anyway?” and eight parts of NOT BEING PHOTOGENIC! I have to admit, I’d probably rank as one of the most unphotogenic people on Earth. The Yeti lurking in the mysterious heights of the Himalayas is more photogenic than I am. In fact, I have a picture of mine taken in the snow in Sikkim where that’s exactly what I’m mistaken for -- the abominable snowman!

Of course, this aversion for being in front of the lens meant that I invariably ended up behind it. If you have a group of people, all of whom save for one want to come in the picture, then it makes sense to have the odd one out click it. Initially, I thought this was the best possible deal -- at least I didn’t have to be in the snap. (If, nay when, I become famous and the press starts looking for photos from my childhood, they’re going to have their job cut out for them!) However, I soon ran into new troubles.

I think it would be appropriate at this point to let out a little secret of mine -- for a guy, I’m terribly bad when it comes to working gadgets. Learning how to master the TV remote took me two weeks, and it was over a month before I stopped putting wet clothes in the microwave to dry them. Now, even though cameras ten years ago were much simpler than they are today -- there was basically just one button that you pressed to click a picture -- it took me a while to get the art right. Plenty of mucked up photos later -- blurred, fuzzy, missing heads, thumbs in the way, etc -- I was finally able to produce pictures that didn’t cause my parents to want to strangle me when they were developed.

At about the same time that I was getting real nifty with my photography skills, I also realized something else. Taking a photograph is slightly more work than sitting for one. If there’s one quality that reigns supreme throughout my being, it’s my laziness! So what if I wasn’t photogenic? Was all that work clicking photos worth the trouble of avoiding looking like a doofus in the family albums? Nah uh.

So I switched roles again. I started coming in all the photos once more. My strategy now was to sandwich myself between the best-looking girl in the picture and the best-looking guy. This way, I figure, no one will actually end up observing me. I’ll also often, as a backup plan, stick my tongue out and close my eyes. So if anyone sees the picture and laughs, “Hey, look at this idiot here!”, I can always blame it on the incompetence of the photographer for clicking it at a time when I wasn’t quite ready.

I’ll conclude with a little anecdote from my recent trip to the South. We were at the beach at Mangalore -- with me flaunting that six-pack I’ve worked so hard for -- when a man comes up to us with a camera and says to me, “Excuse me, could you do me a favor, please?” He also simultaneously points to his camera.

“Sure,” I reply. “Where would you like me to pose for you?” I’m thinking this guy’s got the early sniff on my future fame and celebrity.

“Ummm... No. I meant could you please click a picture of me with the sea in the background?”

I incoherently mutter a phrase that rhymes with ‘clucking bell’. “Sure, of course.”

By the time you read this, he’s probably looking at a VERY up close picture of my thumb with the sun somewhere in the background.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Inane Conversations -- I

“Good evening, Pizza Express.”
“Hello, I’d like to order a pizza, please.”
“That’s funny, sir, because I was really hoping you were calling to ask me out.”
“Ah, a funny one. You’ve just cut your delivery boy’s tip in half.”
“What kind of pizza would you like, sir?”
“The twelve-inch pepperoni.”
“Would you like me to cut that into eight pieces or twelve?”
“Eight would be good. I don’t think I can eat twelve pieces.”
Why is HE allowed to be a wise guy? Or is he just that stupid? Too bad I’M not doing any tipping here. “Very good, sir. Would you like anything else with that?”
“No, thank you.”
“Could you please tell me your address?”
“D-23, Babboo Billimora Apartments.”
“I’m sorry, sir, but I’ve never heard of that place before. Could you please give me the directions?”
“Do you know the Bijou movie hall?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Good. Now if you go straight down the road opposite Bijou for about 500 meters, you come to Gandhi corner.”
“Yes, sir. I know the corner.”
“Take a left turn at the corner and keep going for about five minutes.”
“Okay, sir.”
“You’ll see a sign saying Panacea Terraces.”
“Right, sir.”
“There’s a lane exactly opposite the sign. Keep going down that lane. It meets Sagoo Street.”
“Yes, sir, I know that.”
“Take a right at Sagoo Street.”
“After about a 100 meters, you’ll come to a big sign saying Sunshine Enclave.”
“Yes, sir. I know where Sunshine Enclave is.”
“The apartment complex immediately after Sunshine Enclave on the same side of the street is Babboo Billimora Apartments.”
“Oh, you mean BB Society? I knew where that is from the beginning.”
“Yes, it is sometimes called that.”

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My Band

If I’ve ever had anything that could be described as an “ambition”, it would be to start my own rock band. I plan to do this in a few years. I’m currently in Step One of my endeavor -- the “Long Hair”.

The problem with me is that every few months, in a moment of insanity, that I am unable to account for later, I have a haircut. The bigger problem is that on these occasions when razor meets hair, I tend to go all out. This means coming out of the hairdressers with little more than stubble on my head. This is then followed by months of regrowth, and then another moment of insanity to be regretted later. This time I’m determined -- no cutting of hair.

After a few months, when my hair is suitably on its way to rock stardom, I’ll move quietly on to Step Two -- the “Tattoo”. This is where I get myself tattooed, in case you’re wondering. It’s hard to settle on exactly what all I want tattooed, but I believe it will be my back and both my arms. I’m guessing this phase will take another few months.

Step Three -- the “Addiction”. After I’m all tattooed up, I’m going to have to pick a real addiction -- cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, sex, cocaine etc. The choices are plenty. I’ve always maintained that a rock star without an addiction is like a soda without the fizz. I’m currently addicted to my computer. That has got to change if I want to avoid getting my rock star ass laughed at. I look forward to this stage very much.

Step Four -- the “Band Name”. What good is a band if it doesn’t have a cool name? I’m really going to have to rack my brains to come up with something that’s both good and hasn’t already been taken. Knowing how lackadaisical I am when it comes to mental effort, this might take longer than expected. However, I shall not rest until I have the perfect band name.

After all this is done, all that will remain are the small matters of learning how to play some instrument and then finding the remaining members of the band. I reckon I should be done in about forty-three years.

Some people might think that a suckily-named, functional band whose members are vice-free, have short hair and clean skin, is better than a weed-smoking idiot with long hair and tattoos, sitting alone and racking his brain for the perfect name. I am not some people.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Why I Avoid Girls Carrying Rakhis

Today is “Raksha Bandhan”, an Indian holiday on which girls tie a “Rakhi” -- which is basically a colorful, ornamental ribbon -- around the wrists of their brothers, in return for some token gifts and sweets. This is the extent of my knowledge regarding the significance of the holiday, something I am not entirely ashamed of.

Over the years, the meaning of “brother” with respect to the holiday has loosened to the point where now girls basically tie a Rakhi not just on male siblings but also on casual male friends, male cousins, male colleagues etc. I suppose, the female thinking is “the more [gifts], the merrier”. Of course, “fraternalizing” your relationship with a guy via the expedient of tying a Rakhi, implies that you view him as you would a brother. In other words, it is a clear signal that you do NOT want to get into bed with him.

This last point is significant because I have a dirty feeling girls make [too] good use of it. Imagine you’re a girl and there’s a guy in your class who has been subtly suggesting that you two get jiggy with it. Let us also assume that you are not interested in getting involved with him. Now, avoidance and ignoring from the female party are almost considered by men, in India, to be signs of consent. Hence, under normal circumstances you would have to tell the young Romeo pointedly that you “ARE NOT INTERESTED IN HIM”. This might have to be backed up by a strapping six-and-a-half foot bloke behind you, who looks decent enough to be your boyfriend and at the same time menacing enough to break the infatuated lover’s neck in the event he pushed this thing further.

However, if Raksha Bandhan happens to be around the corner, you can save the day by simply tying a Rakhi around his wrist. This is telling him that you really like him, but only as you would a brother. Bam! In one fell swoop, you’ve negated the threat of a possible romance AND got yourself a free gift. Some people call this “killing two birds with one Rakhi”.

For the same reason, I stay well clear of girls who are carrying Rakhis in their hands.

Sometimes on this day you’ll come across guys sporting a good 8-10 Rakhis on their wrists. Here are the possible reasons:

1. His uncle owns a Rakhi store.
2. His parents skipped “Family Control” class.
3. He has really ugly wrists, and relishes this once-a-year golden opportunity to hide them.
4. He’s been hitting on many girls who do not like him.

Whenever I see such guys, I wonder which class they fit into. While keeping one eye out for Rakhi-wielding girls, of course.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Some New "Days"

Today, as I found out rather late, was supposed to be Friendship Day -- a concept that's about as lame as a very lame man. Normally, I would laugh when I came to know of this -- lameness, like stupidity, amuses me. But this time I chose to think. It seems like almost anything can be turned into a "Day".

Here are five Days that I wait eagerly for:

27th November
"Screw Your Neighbor" Day -- Everyone gets to choose one neighbor they like and then gets to sleep with the person they pick. Of course, if more than one of your neighbors pick you as their choice, you have to sleep with all of them. This Day provides a much-needed boost to the contraceptive industry. I also believe that this Day will allow more people to celebrate World AIDS Day later on in the week (1st December).

3rd December
"Kill One Person" Day -- Everyone on the planet votes for one person they most wish to have quietly put to sleep. The person with the most votes at the end of the Day is given the lethal injection treatment. Somehow I feel the U.S. will have to look for a new bloke to fill the White House bathtub after this day every year. It may also be called "Improve Your Planet" Day for euphemistic reasons.

14th July
"Topless" Day -- Everyone, men and women, must go about doing all their daily activities without any form of apparel covering them from waist-up. (Sorry, I know most of you already get the complicated concept of "toplessness" but I felt it was my job to clarify it once again.) This day has carefully been chosen to fall in the middle of summer. People living below the equator -- iron the dog.

12th January
"Virgins" Day -- All virgins go about wearing bright pink on this Day. The objective is that virgins can spot fellow virgins and help each other out so that they don't have to celebrate this Day again the next year. It gets really interesting when you take into consideration that non-virgins can use this Day to get free sex at the price (or rather, shame) of pretending to be virgins and having to dress in pink. Yes, this truly is a Day for everyone.

5th May
"Text Message" Day -- If there's one thing I know about the kind of people who celebrate such Days, it's that they send a lot of text messages. I believe this Day would really be fun.

What particular Day would you like to see come into existence?


In my previous post, when I spoke about how there seems to be more girls in relationships than guys, I forgot to mention one possible cause -- lesbianism.

Prima facie this would be a very logical conclusion. If you have a set with roughly equal number men and women and you work on the assumption that relationships are one-one relations, then when you find there are more girls involved in relationships than guys, the conclusion seems obvious. Girls are getting jiggy with it with each other more than guys are among themselves.

Lesbians, if you ask me, are God's gift to men. Think about where the pornography industry would be without them. I shudder at the thought. Most guys aren't too enthusiastic about the prospect of seeing another man disrobe and flaunt his six-pack and other goods. Enter lesbianism. What you end up with is an industry that caters almost exclusively to the male species and its biggest attraction involves two [or more] women.

A friend of mine once disagreed with my line of thinking about lesbians and divine gifts. He claims he sees every lesbian as a lost opportunity for him. According to me, this means that he's either already slept with almost every good-looking heterosexual or bisexual female around or has plans to do so in the near future. Only then, I would think, would one really need to worry about "losing opportunities" and such like.

I, obviously, face no such problems. Sometimes, just sometimes, I believe this is a good thing.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Single Guys, Committed Girls

Careful observation of my surroundings, and online social networking portals like Orkut, has lead me to believe that there is a much larger percentage of girls in relationships than guys. Or at least that's what they'll have you believe. There seem to be way more girls on Orkut whose profiles display a "committed" status than guys, whose profiles typically show "single". One important reason for this, I suppose, is that girls [normally] wish to decrease the amount of unwanted attention they receive from unknown guys on such sites, while guys tend wish for the opposite. So I assume a fair number of these "committed" girls are actually single.

However, this doesn't explain everything. Looking around at my friends and the people I know, I still see disparity in the numbers. A larger percentage of committed girls than guys. How does this come about?

I studied for four years in an engineering college; a milieu where guys abound in plenty and the good-looking chick is rarer than a celibate rock star. Even a half-decent girl would have a bevy of village idiots drooling behind her, ever ready to get into a "pseudo" relationship with her.[1] Guys had to either own a Porsche or have a big snake with them to command a similar level of attention. In such an environment, it was only natural that most of my male colleagues were single and most of my female ones weren't.

However, even when I look beyond my college, and at guys and girls in general, there just seem to be more single guys than girls. What could the possible reasons be?

1. Unequal Sex Ratio:
Let's start with the obvious -- there are more guys than girls. This is, undoubtedly, true. The sex ratio in this country is skewed, and in this case, the majority -- the boys -- lose. But this cannot explain everything. The national sex ratio is about 950:1000 (girls:guys). I suppose in a city like Poona, it must be slightly more than that. In any case, that means there are only 5% more guys than girls. In other words for every 20 guy-girl relationship couples, we should have roughly 1 single guy left out. The situation is more acute than this.

2. Male Polygamy:
All men, let's face it, believe that monogamy is a very cruel rule. It wouldn't surprise me to know that the same guy is "committed" to 2-3 different females. Of course, it is exactly such sexual avarice on their part leaves other less gifted guys wallowing in the pitiful depth of singledom, where their only solace comes from that digited appendage at the end of their arm. But I doubt this troubles these "studs" too much.

3. Girls Lie:
Just as they fib about their relationship status online to avoid undesired proposals for "friendship" from the opposite sex, I feel sure some girls "claim" to be in a relationship in real life too, for similar reasons. Such girls state they are in a relationship with some vague guy whom no one has heard of -- often he's allegedly in another country at the time -- and no one ever gets to lay their eyes on. They then quickly steer the conversation away from their social lives.

What do you think the reasons for this gender disparity are?

[1] - "Pseudo" relationships are relationships where both the guy and the girl publicly claim to be "going around" with each other in order to improve their standing in the society which looks upon single people with scorn. The relationship, other than this, is non-existent.

[PS: In a bold step that draws much criticism from people against it, I shall be replying to comments once again from this post onward. Of course, the fact that readers have almost stopped commenting on (or is it reading?) this blog means that this change is slightly redundant. Nevertheless, I am proud to announce it.]