Monday, December 10, 2007

Near-Death Experiences in Bombay

I was in Bombay this past weekend and being the “when in Bombay, do as the Bombayites do” types, Friday evening found me at Dadar railway station trying to board a local suburban train in the direction of the evening returning-from-work rush. I’m not new to Bombay or the experience of traveling in such trains -- which incidentally can almost be considered an X-treme sport. But this time I not only had the disadvantage of having to fight the evening crowd but was also handicapped by a rather cumbersome travel bag that I was lugging around.

The train comes in, I grab onto the pole in the middle of the doorway with my right hand and try to squeeze myself into the compartment (already occupied by about a gazillion sweaty individuals). My bag is in my left hand trailing behind me.

There’s an old Spanish saying, “Donde comen seis, comen siete”. (Or something like that.) It translates to “Where six can eat, seven can eat.” This might seem like good logic. But I found out that evening, that “where a gazillion can fit, a gazillion plus one can’t always”! So the train starts moving, and I find that my only physical contact with it is my outstretched hand holding onto the bar in the middle of the doorway and about three toes of my right foot that have managed to find about three square inches of free space somewhere on the foot board. (I always knew real estate in Bombay was ridiculously hard to come by, but I was finding out just how bad it really was!)

“This won’t do,” I think to myself. “I’ll just take the next train. And if that’s too crowded, then the one after that, or the one after that...” Death by falling out of a train was never on my list of “Cool Ways to Die”. So I crane my neck around and what do you know -- suburban trains in Bombay can accelerate! And how! We were already moving too fast for me to get off under the best of conditions, and certainly not jumping backwards and with a heavy bag in hand. So much for Plan A.

That’s when exactly two thoughts hit my mind.

The first was -- “Think of something clever to say to these people around you. Last words are always important.”

The second was -- “Ummm, one hand’s keeping you alive and the other is holding onto your [very important] bag! What if someone reaches into your pocket right in front of your eyes, removes your wallet, takes out all the cash and the cards, waves them in front of you, stuffs them in his pocket and then puts your wallet back in! Which hand do you use to punch him?”

The people of Bombay are a good lot though. The guy in front me yells out to some people in front of him, something about “the person behind him being as good as off the train” and “what the hell were they doing not moving forward and giving us some space?” and were they “waiting for him to fall and die before they moved?” It was an impressive display from him, I must admit and people did inch forward and I managed to move from my three square inch hovel to a relatively decent one room house -- enough space to keep both my feet and somehow rest the bag on top of them. I was still by no means safe -- too close to the door, but at least not outside it any more). I had no idea when the next station even came (the platform was on the other side).

The station after that one, however, was on my side of the train. I got pushed out and then pushed back in again and was now living in a (comparatively) luxurious one bedroom apartment! I was just planning my house warming party when I realized it was time for me to alight. I used the good old “float-and-drift-with-the-tide” algorithm there and managed to escape alive, carried more by the crowd than by my own feet.

That is Bombay. And I love it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

At Least He Was Honest

It’s time to get back to blogging -- even if all I have to offer you today is a small snippet.

The other day, a bunch of us had gone to one of these small dhabas next to our office. The food in our office cafeteria is unworthy even to puke out -- so such places run a thriving business. We sat down at an empty (and surprisingly clean) table and tried to decide on what to order. (This, most of you’ll will agree, is an NP-Complete problem.)

Finally we settled on an order and summoned one of the waiters -- a young lad of about 12. He hurried to our table, pen and pad in hand, looking ready to jot down anything we could throw at him. One of us started calling out our order, one dish after the other. He didn’t put any of it to paper but instead, I could see each name was adding a further ounce of confusion and befuddlement to his face. After about four dishes he was completely lost.

“See,” I started kindly. “You have a pen and paper. Why don’t you just write down the order? There’s no way you’ll retain the entire thing in your mind.”

He just gives me a shyish smile.

“What’s the matter?”, I asked.

“Sir, I don’t know how to write!”

The mystery of why he was toting a pen and paper around may never be solved.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Best “Not Real” Sony Ad Ever

This evening, after work, I’m in the Sony showroom--looking around in a perfect blend of awe, excitement and lust at all the “cool” gadgets they have on offer.

Behind me a salesman is giving a family--just a mother and two kids, actually--a demo of one of those Surround Sound Home Theater systems. He’s playing the video of ‘Punjab’ by Karunesh on the huge Flatscreen and the audio is blaring from a multitude of speakers spread all around the place. It’s actually quite realistic--and deafening.

Just then, I receive a call on my phone from R. I’m in conversation with a salesman, so I receive the call and tell her, “I’m busy. I’ll speak with you later.”

For a second, I believed she might think I’m at a party or something. But then she sends me a text message, a few minutes later to the tune of this: “Are you watching a movie? I swear I’ll whack you if you’re in a theater watching a movie!”

(By way of an explanation, I’d should probably tell you that I’m not a big movie fan, and I almost never watch a movie at the theater. Numerous attempts by R to get me to go see a film have met with mostly [but not quite absolutely] no success.)

And then I’m thinking, “Is this just the BEST ad for Sony or what?” I’m in the showroom, there’s a Home Theater system playing in the background, someone calls up and actually thinks I’M (of all people) in an actual theater!

Friday, July 13, 2007


I will be traveling to Germany next Saturday—21st July, where I shall be for the next two months, approximately. Blogging from Germany ought to be good—but I cannot guarantee anything.

Cheers and hoping for the best.

Addendum: It is precisely stories like this that tickle me in just the right spots and ensure that I can barely wait for Saturday! (HT: Lara)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

BarCampPune3 - A Snippet

I attended BarCampPune3 [blog link] today - well, technically yesterday since it’s 3 in the morning now. It was interesting, due in larger part to the people I met than to the knowledge I gained from the sessions/discussions. Meeting people is always fun - and I didn’t really network as much as I should have.

Here’s the highlight of the day though.

It’s about 4.30 in the afternoon, and we go to the cafeteria to have tea. We grab our cheese sandwiches from the guy handing them out and pour ourselves a cup of tea each. Then Salil notices this huge vessel of thick red liquid lying next to the tea.

“What’s this?” he asks me.

“Tomato soup,” I reply. Saying “I don’t know” doesn’t come easily to me and that’s exactly what it looked like - tomato soup. Why anyone would serve tomato soup at tea was beyond me, but BarCamps are strange places and funny things do happen there.

“I like tomato soup,” Salil says and proceeds to pour himself a cup.

We carry our stuff to a table and sit down to talk. Midway through the discussion, Salil looks takes a couple of sips of his soup and tells me, “This soup is terrible! It tastes like ketchup!”

We don’t pay any attention at that point. When we’re done talking and eating and drinking, we go to place our cups and plates in the dirty dishes tray. That’s when I noticed at all the plates kept there had a thick red liquid in them. I glance around. Yup, everyone’s got the red stuff in their plates and they’re eating it along with their cheese sandwiches!

“Dude,” I look at Salil. “That WAS ketchup!”


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

One of the Great Mysteries Possibly Solved

I have written before about my not being able to understand or appreciate poetry. I’ve often wondered exactly how poets could make a living—no one I know (certainly not myself, for sure) would consider paying money for “poetry”. Or maybe that wasn’t true—because didn’t some really famous poets exist at various points in the past? Maybe the problem was within me. Maybe only I couldn’t understand poetry, while everyone else could. That could be a possible solution.

I have a new theory—one that actually came about because of something a certain female friend told me recently. Here’s the theory:

Your ability to understand, and more importantly appreciate, poetry is inversely proportional to the speed at which you normally read.

Here when I talk about “speed”, I refer to it on an extremely low level—words and sentences. I don’t care about how many novels you read a year or how long it took you to finish The Lord of the Rings. I’m talking about how fast you read your words and sentences. How many seconds (or milliseconds) did it take you to read this paragraph?

When it comes to reading speed, I’m on the faster side. I speak fast and I read fast. Poetry demands a slow reader. One who can let the words sink in—one, two, three, four at a time. One who gives each line the time it demands, to convey the deeper meaning it holds, instead of rushing hurriedly on to the next one, as a prose reader might do. And that’s where I fail.

Today, I tried reading some poetry slowly—painfully slowly, it seemed to me—and it worked. I understood more than I ever had. It actually seemed beautiful—almost as much so as a Michelangelo fresco or a Michael Jordan fade-away. Or Alicia Silverstone.

So here’s the thing—if you think you can’t appreciate poetry, just try carefully observing how fast you read it. I’ll bet you my cat, it’s probably because you’re reading it way too fast!

As a corollary, I’m guessing guys are naturally faster readers than girls. Proving it is left as an exercise to the reader.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Washroom Measure

There’s a lot to be learned inside a washroom. For example, I have a theory that goes as follows:

The smaller the separating partitions between the urinals in the washroom, the posher the place is.

That’s my theory.

For example, a public washroom on the street will have partitions the size of Shivaji’s fort walls. You couldn’t get through them with an army tank if you wanted to. They measure about seven feet by three feet by six inches. Superman would struggle to see through them and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar couldn’t peer over one.

A decent restaurant will have urinal separators about half that size. If you’re an extremely tall guy with flexible neck muscles you might catch an unwanted sight of your neighbor’s sausage and meatballs. But for most of us average folks, not suffering from pituitary abnormalities, they suffice. At least here—unlike public washrooms—you don’t end up feeling claustrophobic.

An upscale restaurant, or a really posh office, will have separators that are “separators” in name only. Two feet by one foot. I think the primary aim here is to avoid getting sprayed unnecessarily by the guy peeing next to you. Really, that’s about all the separator can hope to achieve. No consideration at all is given to visual barricading or interception.

And finally, at the extreme other end of the spectrum we have the best hotels and the really big offices. Here there’s no separation at all. ‘What’s mine is yours and suchlike’ seems to be the motto. Or ‘let our dongles dangle together’. There’s literally just a line of urinals fixed along one wall or sometimes not even that. I love the sheer “naturalness” that such an arrangement offers.

So my point it this—whenever you want to judge how upscale a restaurant or hotel might be, just check out the men’s washroom.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My Biggest Coincidence

I’ve never experienced any earth-shattering coincidences in my life—at least none that I remember. I keep wishing for the day I run into this guy who looks exactly like me and claims to be my long-lost twin brother who was separated from me at birth. It would be even better if he turns out to be a prince of somewhere. With each passing day, the chances of that happening are falling and by now I’ve almost given up hope.

If you ask me to pick—of the top of my head—the biggest coincidence I’ve come across so far, I’d say it’s the Rachel-Playtah one. Here’s the story.

There’s this blogger named Rachel, who lives somewhere in the States—West Michigan—to be more precise. I’m not sure how, but one day she happens to come across my blog. She starts leaving comments—the odd one here and there. Nothing extraordinary about that.

Now another day, sometime later, I was reading one of Scott Adam’s posts. I can’t find it now because it looks like he’s decided to archive only the previous four months on his blog, but it was the one about women and horses. If you’ve read it, you know which one I’m talking about. Otherwise, too bad. Either way, it doesn’t matter!

I decided to leave a comment, so I did that, and then scroll through the existing comments. There must have been like about 200 of them by that time. I find a comment—somewhere in the middle—by a certain “Playtah”, whose link I follow and land up on her blog here. Again, nothing very extraordinary.


Playtah—also known as Funny Girl—just happens to be Rachel’s best friend! I realize this about a month later, but when I did, it struck me just how big a coincidence this was.

Remember, these aren’t very high profile bloggers or anything. Just two average (okay, above average, but still) American bloggers. One randomly happens to come across my blog, the other I just happen to come across by clicking on a random link in Scott’s comments. And not only do they know each other, they’re best friends.

Maybe there’s some REALLY simple explanation in all this that I’m overlooking, but I seriously doubt that.

What’s your favorite coincidence?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Vote Taj. Or Not.

There’s an online poll on to vote in the “New 7 Wonders of the World”. Twenty-one contenders to vote for, and the top seven get selected. Apparently, the Pyramids in Egypt were given an honorary entry into this “elite” club and so only six remaining spots are up for grabs. You vote by either going to the website or sending a text message from your cell phone to a particular number.

The Taj Mahal, of course, is India’s entry. I’m reminded of this almost everyday—by mail, text message or some other form. The message is simple—“Vote for the Taj!”

“Ummm. Why?”

“Because,” said one of the people I asked this question to, “it’s INDIA’s representative!”

“Yeah, so? What if India sent a lump of rock—about the size of a football and with absolutely nothing ‘wonderful’ about it—as its entry for this ‘contest’. Would you vote for that?”

“But this is the TAJ! Don’t you know the history of the Taj! And it’s from India.”

That seems to be the party line really. “Vote for the Taj BECAUSE it’s from India.”

“Why should I vote for the Taj?” I asked another guy who ask me to.

He gave me a look that one might throw at someone whose mental faculties one considers to be slightly suspect. “It’s Indian.”

“But I don’t see how voting for it helps me,” I argued. Yes, I’m selfish.

“It’ll only cost you a couple of minutes and three rupees [for the text message].”

“So would a cigarette, but you wouldn’t advocate that, would you?”

“But it’s India’s representative!”

So’s a beedi.

Of course, as long as there are idiots like this, the Taj needn’t worry. It’ll certainly make it into the top six places—probably even win. The only other entry situated in a country with a comparable population is the Great Wall of China. China’s probably got more internet connections and cell phones but I’m positive they fall short on the idiot count. The Chinese have more important things to busy themselves with—like manufacturing cheap cell phones and modems to sell in India so that more people can vote for the TAJ.

We Indians are a funny people. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone’s etched the following into the walls of the Taj itself—“Vote for the Taj Mahal as one of the 7 New Wonders! SMS XXXX!” Shah Jehan would be a proud man.

In related news, the Statues of Easter Island are screwed. No one lives there and I’m sure the tortoises and other creatures inhabiting the island are lacking in silly jingoism—if not a cell phone or an internet connection. Besides, I was born Catholic and would feel offended if you didn’t vote for a Wonder that had the word “Easter” in it. Please vote for the Statues of Easter Island. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Curious Incident of the Graveyard Visit in the Nighttime

Last night at about 1.30, a bunch of five of us decided to go for a drive. We were all sober, so no, this story does not end with all of us dying in a spectacular albeit tragic DUI accident. No, it’s funnier than that.

After driving around for about 15 minutes, we came to a cemetery. We’d been there before in the night--even gotten inside a couple of times. We parked the car at the side of the road and debated whether it was worth going in. Yours truly thought not. It wasn’t the “ghosts” or the “ghouls” that I feared, but instead, the slightly more tangible batons of any policemen who might happen to pass by. (Yes, I have a soft tush and it can’t afford to take a beating.)

However, I was comprehensively out-voted by the other four--three of whom just happened to be girls! Well, if not my derrière, then at least my self-esteem and masculine ego were certainly taking a hit.

Hmmph! I’d show them! If we’re all going in anyway, I’d lead the way. At least once I was inside, there was a lesser chance of getting caught by a cop--and to me that sounded like a good deal. We walked along the wall of the cemetery--which was about three-and-a-half feet high--until we came to the gate, which was about the same height. I proceeded to get in first, by the simple expedient of jump-sitting onto the end of the wall, just next to the gate, then drawing my legs up close to me, swiveling around, and jumping off lightly onto the other side.

I beckoned to the others to follow suit--as quickly as possible. The other guy standing outside starting making a weird hand gesture pointing to a spot on the side of the gate on my side of the wall. I assumed that to mean, “Someone’s coming. Get behind the wall and crouch down.” I skipped to the side.

That’s when it happened!

It’s hard to tell who was more surprised but I know for sure who was more scared! First he yelled. Then he screamed--this low pitched guttural scream that he repeated again, again and yet again. And he flailed his arms about. I’m not sure what happened after that because by then I had vaulted the gate and wall (with the seat of my pants touching anything but thin air this time), and overtaken the others as we sprinted back to the car! I thought I heard a tinkling sound, like something metallic fall down, but I didn’t even care at that point.

Yes, I’d stepped right onto the sleeping guy that my friend was trying to warn me about. Those hand signals weren’t “get down and hide”, they were “dude! there’s someone sleeping just next to you, don’t move!” He was pointing at the guy, not at a nice hidey-hole for me. As it turned out, I wasn’t too skilled at interpreting sign language, and I gave the tramp sleeping there the WORST nightmare of his life. Imagine you’re sleeping in a frickin’ graveyard! Now, imagine you suddenly feel something fall on you. Then you open your eyes and see this ghastly, wild-haired creature. It can’t be the most pleasant experience in the world.

We reached the car, jumped in and took off.

Two minutes later. “You know, I think I heard something fall as I jumped over the wall. Let me just check my keys,” I said. “Hmmm, yup. They’re there--safely in my pocket. Phew!”

“Thank God for that!”

“But I’m sure something fell. I distinctly heard a metallic sound,” I continue. “Maybe it was just a coin or something.” We were playing this coin game just before we left for the drive, and this was a likely explanation.

“Wait,” said one of the girls. “You probably dropped MY key.” She’d given me her key as we left the house, and I’d put in my breast-pocket! Of course! That’s the easiest place for something to fall out off (especially when you’re hurdling cemetery walls at super-top speed).

“Yeah,” I checked. “That’s it. That’s what’s fallen out. Turn the car around, we need to go get it.”

“No way. My third roommate (the first two were in the car with us) has her key and she’s probably back home by now. Let’s just leave it. We can change the lock. Let’s not go back to get the key!”

I didn’t care about them getting back into the house that night or about changing locks or anything of the sort. All I cared about was doing some damage control to my pride. I’d shown a cleaner pair of heels than anyone else earlier and now I had to prove there was still some man left in me. “We’re going back. I know exactly where the key’s fallen. It’s just outside the gate. Our Charlie’s probably gone back to sleep by now. I’ll just dash out of the car pick it up and scoot back in.”

So we turned the car around and drove back to the cemetery. We crossed the gate, going very slowly, ten eyes peering at the street in the headlights trying to catch the gleam of metal. We were on the wrong side of the road, so a little farther down we turned around and drove back up. One of us thought she saw it but wasn’t very sure.

We saw an old man walking toward the gate--our sleeping beauty, of course. He didn’t look too scary at all--old, white hair, unshaven face. He’d apparently gone to take a walk (or leak, or dump) after the scare we gave him and was now returning to his cozy corner. We turned the car around and took one more round. He stared in at us, not a word on his lips but cursing us mentally, no doubt. By the time we finished another up-down in the car, still not sure whether anyone could see the key or not, he’d packed up his bedding (for an old man he could climb over that wall pretty easily), and was preparing to leave. Obviously, he desired to finish his sleep in a place where there was slightly smaller risk of getting trampled upon by young boys. I don’t blame him.

We stopped the car and I climbed out. “I’m coming with you,” my friend said as he opened the driver’s door and stepped out. We walked back to the gate. I looked at the guy as he was leaving and said, “Aamchi chaavi padlee. (Our key fell.)” I don’t know why I said it in Marathi or even why I said it for that matter, but I did. It seemed fair to let him know we weren’t there to kill him; he looked really frightened.

We found the key. Actually I didn’t, the other guy did. We got back to the car and debated whether it might be worth it to go in now, since the old man, we knew, had left. But people came out with all sorts of bad omens that said we shouldn’t go in. Eyes were fluttering, the position of the moon wasn’t right, a black cat had crossed someone’s path three weeks earlier, etc etc. So we decided not to.

We did go for a long drive though and almost got lost. And yes, from now on, I’m wearing only yellow pants. Just so that no one quite knows when it happens. Except for the smell maybe.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Bombs (and other Fun Stories)

There was a bomb scare at work last night. At about 7.45 p.m., I notice office security people running all around the place and hear people talking about ‘a bomb call’. I was planning to leave at 8.00 p.m. anyway, so I quickly pick up my laptop, stuff my stuff into my drawer and walk out of the building. (I did stop to take a leak and wash my face on the way. No bomb threat was going to stop that!) Surprisingly, there was no evacuation in progress or even people rushing toward the exit.

When I reach outside, I find the lawn—which lies in the space inside the ‘L’ formed by the two office buildings—filled with people from the other building. It seemed like they had only evacuated that one. Huh! I like that. Our lives, it looked like, were worth diddly-squat. And who evacuates people from a building and then lets them to stand right next to it? That’s what I’d like to know!

I found out—from as reliable sources as I could find—that an anonymous call had been received saying that there was a bomb in the other building. Obviously, the call was considered serious enough, because the police were there, along with a complete “bomb disposal squad”—which comprised of two seedy looking characters and one rather lethargic, uninterested mutt.

I didn’t hang around to watch the fireworks (note: do not joke about “fireworks” when there are nervous people around immediately after a bomb scare). Not that I wasn’t interested in staying behind. The entire place seemed to have the atmosphere of a mela. Everyone was happy to have the unexpected break—especially the people working the night shift, I guess. The arrival of the first of the police was actually met with a loud raucous cheer—one filled with more amusement than relief. But I had places to go and things to do. So I marched out of there.

The buildings were both still standing when I got here this morning, so I’m pretty certain there wasn’t bomb after all. Nothing in the morning papers about it either.

Here are my theories:-

a. Someone wanted to leave work early and had a late night video conference with some client in Europe, or

b. Someone was REALLY pissed with the annual raise this year, which are being handed out this week.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the option b.! The raises were so bad this year that when I walk in to discuss mine with my manager, he looks at me and says, “How would you like them—roasted or salted?”

If inflation pushes its nose just a wee bit higher, I might actually be earning less than I did last year.


My Horrorful Tales of Bad Luck and Other Such

I’m probably the unluckiest guy in the world. I mean if a plane I’m on ever crashes, don’t bother checking the list of survivors for my name. Don’t even bother looking for my body. While we’re at it don’t even board a flight if you see me on it or my name on the passenger list. Don’t even board it if you see me anywhere NEAR the boarding gate or in the same airport or even in the same city, if you want to be really careful! Sometimes I, myself, am too scared to board a flight I’m on. It’s that bad. It really is.

I’m sitting at German Bakery, a couple of nights ago, talking on the phone. If you know me, you probably know that I spend an average of about 3 minutes a year on the phone. So the chances aren’t really all that great, but it happened. A girl enters alone, looks around, smiles at a few tables and approaches mine. She looks at the vacant seat across the table from me, looks at me, hesitates a second, realizes I’m on the phone and wanders off to another table, one which was empty. She sits down there and pulls out a cigarette. She lights it, starts smoking and looks around bemusedly.

By this time, I’ve narrated the incident--as you might expect--to the person on the other of the call. She tells me to cut the call and go up to her table.

“And what do I say,” I ask.

“Tell her you noticed that she came up to your table as if meaning to sit down and you were wondering whether there was something she wanted.”

“That’s cornier than a maize field in southern Kentucky,” I argue. “And lamer than centipede that’s had all its legs chopped off!”

“No it isn’t. If you’re sure she came up to your table intending to sit down.”

“Besides, everyone will see me get up from a perfectly good table, walk over to her table and sit down there. It’s just weird.”

“You’re at German Bakery! Everything’s weird there! It wouldn’t make a difference at all!”

“Okay. Okay. Maybe I just should. But no, wait! Now she’s on the phone! I’ll just wait for her to finish.”

Two minutes later, while I’m still on the phone, she ended the call and walked her way out of the place. And she was a looker too!

I leave about 30 minutes after that. As I step out onto the street, it starts to pour.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Being Bad

I’ve always believed that if you’re going to be bad at something you have to be SO bad at it that you’re famous. Being somewhere in the middle just sucks. If something’s bad enough, it can often turn out to be good.

For example, being short, hairy or having an undersized willy, are all bad things when it comes to attracting (or in the last case, keeping) chicks. However, I’d be willing to bet the following guys all have REALLY hot girlfriends/wives:

1. The shortest guy in the world.
2. The hairiest guy in the world.
3. The guy with the smallest sausage in the world.

Being second worst has got to stink pretty badly though. It’s a case of “so near but yet so frickin’ far”! If you’re the second best guy in the world at doing something you’re probably pretty rich. But I wonder what the guy with the second smallest peter in the world has for the love life. I’m guessing it involves a lot of tiny midgety palm action.

Being bad at something is also probably a lot easier than being good at something.

My advice for getting chicks, find something you’re already bad at and work really hard to worsen your game. When you’re worse than anyone else in the world, give Guinness a call and you’re well on your way!

To prove I believe what I say, this post is a giant step in the right direction when it comes to new lows for blogging. Who says I’m all fart, no shit!? Pah.

Windows Live Writer

I downloaded Windows Live Writer and any new software deserves a test run. Hence this post.

The plan is to hope that looking at a slightly different blog editor will induce me to "make" the time to post more often. Even if it's mainly horse shit served with extra large fries.

Hmmm.... This looks good.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sense and Senility

Now that I’m back to my senses after a week’s holiday in Goa, maybe I can actually write a post for a change. One week of doing little but eating, drinking, making merry and learning how to say, “Do you do it doggy-doggy?” in thirteen languages. In other words, quite a fun time. Especially if you happen to be a [cunni] lingual enthusiast.

I returned by the overnight bus. Like most guys, when traveling single, I always hope that I am seated next to a pretty, young female. Well, as it turned out, I WAS seated next to a pretty female, it’s just that I got there about six decades too late! She looked about a gazillion years old, and moved like it too.

A lot is said about the horrors of sitting next to an overweight person on a flight/bus. But I think sitting next to an overaged person is almost as bad. (You get a 320-pound octogenarian next to you on a 6+ hour flight, and I wouldn’t even bet a potato on your chances of surviving it.)

To start off with, old people don’t trust young people very much. This lady looked at me as if I were a serial-killing rapist with a degrees in pickpocketing and thuggery. I could almost hear her say, “Oh dear God! Why did they have to put me next to this frightful piece of half-man half-monster?” I know for a fact that she kept one of her bags on her lap the entire night and used two more to build a fort-like wall between us, which kept falling on me all the time. If her plan was to suffocate me to death, it nearly worked. More than an asphyxiated demise though, what I was really scared of was that she might lose a shoe or something and that I’d get lynched for it.

Old people also don’t like to move too much. I’m the type who needs to stretch my legs when I get a chance. So every time the bus stops, I need to hop off. This meant a regular routine of first bringing down the fort wall, then seven minutes for her to stand up and then by the time I was off the bus, it was already time to get back in again. I’d crawl back into the corner and the ramparts would be slowly reconstructed once more.

And what if she just happened to pop it during the night? She’s old; old people die. I’m sure there was a non-zero chance of her passing away in that bus. I spent half the night with my ear pressed up against the wall of luggage to see if I could hear her breathing. I did NOT want to wake up in the morning with a dead body beside me!

Okay, okay! Don’t get all mad at me for saying such bad things about dear old ladies. I like old people, okay. Just not in the seat next to mine!

(Still, it was better than this.)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bush and the Queen

Queen Elizabeth visiting the United States was always going to be the perfect set up for a comedy show on T.V. I’m surprised no one’s decided to come up with one as yet. Of course, being President, George Bush felt he had to take the initiative.

His ‘tongue of slip’ on Monday is funny on so many levels that you struggle to figure out which part’s the best! Let’s see. First, he started to say “1776” and just about managed to stop and correct himself on the edge of the precipice. Now, ordinarily this wouldn’t be too funny. We all slip up during speeches sometimes and it’s okay. But remember, the woman he was referring to looks old enough to be Mick Jagger’s great-grand-mother’s nanny. Women don’t like people making fun of their age. George Bush almost added 200 years to hers. Funny.

After correcting himself, the wisest thing you’d think would be to -- uhm, I don’t know -- CARRY ON WITH HIS SPEECH? But of course, you and I are not two-time reigning champions of that elite competition -- The Presidency of the USA. These President types tend to think slightly differently. So what does Bush do? He stops, turns, gives the Queen a John Wayne like look and a WINK! Funny, funny, funny! And stupid.

The Queen then says something in the background. The microphones caught it but not very clearly. I couldn’t make out whether it was “Oh, dear!”, “Oh, yea!” or “Oh, Blighty! How frightfully daft can this bally Texan get?”, but it really could’ve been any one.

And that isn’t even the end. He turns back from the wink, grins impishly at the audience and says, “She gave me a look that only a mother could give a child.” Whoopsie. Is he trying to say she’s like his Mom? So he finally DID manage to insult her age. Well done! I bet she wanted to turn him over on her knee right then and give his little ass a nice spanking.

A lot people were fretting about getting the “protocol” right for the Queen’s visit. I’m not a big fan of protocol myself, except in cases where it makes things simpler for both parties. For example, I’d always stand in favor of a protocol for tipping. Figuring out how much I need to tip someone is just too darned hard otherwise. However, I can live without rules for how to pass someone the hookah pipe or how many times a minute I can breathe when I’m in the presence of royalty. That’s just stupid.

I’d like to see the Queen visit India. It would be even more fun. I bet some government official would do ALL of the following before shaking her hand.

1. Scratch his crotch.
2. Sneeze into his hands.
3. Pick his nose.

Anyone putting money on which who the lucky guy would be?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Traffic Rants

I hate traffic. We all do. It’s one of those universally hated things -- like a smelly fart, terrorism or Sanjaya Malakar. The thought of going to work everyday scares me more for the commute and for the job, and when you realize what my job really is like, you’ll know just how bad the traffic must be.

What makes the traffic worse, carrying it from the regions of “quite terrible” into the realms of “unbearably horrendous” is the heat and dust that one must do battle with when on the street. Okay, so a few of you reading this probably drive around (or get driven around by a driver) in air-conditioned luxury cars and are snickering at my woes. But let me tell you, even a 15-minute ride on a motorcycle in this heat and dust will leave you, well for the want of better adjectives, quite heated and dusty. The problem with combating these two evils is that their solutions are mutually exclusive. To fight the heat I want to wear as little as possible; to save myself from the dust, I need to do the opposite. Attack one, and the other rears up from behind you and smites you hard in the back.

Then there are traffic signals. Every Indian driver makes it his personal goal to remind you about 15 seconds before the light turns green. The means of communication, of course, is his or her vehicle’s horn. These people are quite skilled you know. The other day, the guy in the car behind me, started playing the national anthem on his car horn. I was impressed.

And I haven’t even gotten to the pollution factor yet. Try getting stuck next to a PMT bus at a traffic light. There’s the smoke and the heat from the bus’ exhaust, and before you know it someone’s spit on you from the bus window! You’d be lucky if it’s only saliva, too. Phlegm or paan are not uncommon either. I don’t blame the person spitting out for being so callous. It’s often hard to notice the person below in the cloud of exhaust.

Sometimes, I’m just pleasantly surprised to reach work at all.

(Note to self: Do not hug everyone in sight when you are pleasantly surprised to get to work. More importantly, do NOT tell them you were spit on after you’ve hugged them.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Me on the Dance Floor

I’m not a great dancer. Some people can Belly Dance; I can BARELY dance. I can’t move my ass to Punjabi Hip Hop or jive without stamping on the feet of not just my partner but everyone else within a three-foot radius. (I call that my Deadly Dance Circle of Death.) The less said about my other fancy-schmancy dances, the better.

This fact might have troubled me since I’m normally not too pleased by things I can’t do well. But my only cause for consolation is that I’ve noticed MOST people aren’t great dancers. About 5% of the crowd on the dance floor at any party or disco will be good dancers. Another 10% will be so terrible, that they’ll look like they’re trying to swat a pesky mosquito sitting on their back while rotating an imaginary hula hoop around their waists. The remaining 85% are just about average, run-of-the-mill, you-wouldn’t-notice-them-unless-you-looked-twice types. And I’m one of them.

When I’m dancing I like to follow an algorithm of sorts. Move B comes after Move A, and is then followed by Move C. Something like that. Improvising is dangerous, for the simple reason that I’m bad at it! When I try to get too creative on the dance floor I’m likely to spill someone’s drink or gouge someone’s eye out. After you do that a few times, people kind of stop letting you into parties anymore.

In the beginning of the party, I like to sit near one corner of the dance floor and observe for a while. I then pick someone who’s pulling what looks -- to my amateur eyes, at least -- like a few “groovy moves” and mentally rehearse them until I feel I’m confident. (I normally select the guy getting the most attention from the prettiest ladies.) Sometimes I’ll also lock myself in the washroom for a while so I can practice them for real. I then saunter over to the other end of the dance floor, where I “introduce” my “new” cool moves. Pretty soon everyone around me is copying them and I’m the hero.

That’s when I grab myself a drink and go console the person who’s nursing that eye I poked.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Working Out

I’ve never “worked out” in my life. I mean I haven’t spent more than a few seconds in a gym, I’ve never owned a set of weights and the most exercise I’ve indulged in at a stretch (forgive the pun) would be reaching for the TV-remote from under the couch. Somehow, this would always surprise people who knew me -- or at least thought they did.

“You?” they’d say, incredulity writ large upon their disbelieving countenances, while quietly sucking in their over-flowing bellies. “You’ve NEVER worked out?”

The cause for wonderment lies mainly in the fact that I’m as thin as a rake. I have a body-fat figure that’s well below the national average and I’m about 8 kilos under the weight range for my height. Besides, I have -- and I say this will all the modesty in the world -- a fairly decent upper body. Okay, so there aren’t muscles overflowing in all directions, but I think that just looks plain ugly. But for a skinny guy, it’s pretty damned neat.

Cut to last week. I decided to join the gym at work. These were the some of the side-advantages I saw:

1. It’s free.
2. It would force me to stop work at a fixed time everyday.
3. There are some cute chicks there.

I’m a big fan of side-advantages and so it seemed like a good deal to me.

This morning I had my “check up”. I enter the gym and there’s only a single instructor on duty. She hands me a sheaf of forms to fill in. The first page seems okay -- name, employee number, phone number, etc. The second page asks me about my medical history. Apparently, they want to know whether I’m liable to drop dead on the treadmill or collapse under a set of dumbbells. I answer “no” to everything. Wouldn’t be wise to let this chica think I’m a weakling of some sort.

After the forms, she takes my pulse and blood pressure.

“Hmmm,” she notices. “They’re a little higher than they should be. Not too much, but slightly on the higher side.”

“Yup,” I mutter to myself. “They’d probably be okay if you weren’t holding my hand while measuring them.”

She asks me to remove my shoes. I’m a bit surprised but I figure, “Yea. Okay.” She does a little height and weight check with this fancy machine of hers and informs me that my fat percentage is too low as is my BMI. Yea! Like I didn’t know. Thanks for rubbing it in.

She then asks me to lift up my shirt. “Uh, uh. I can see where this is heading. First my shoes, now my shirt.” I raise it a little, tentatively. “Higher,” she says. “I need to be able to see your navel.”

“Huh?” It’s just a normal navel, I want to tell her. I raise my shirt. She does a little more measuring with a tape. My hips, waist, etc. Scribbles down some figures and tells me she’s done.

She carefully studies all the stuff she’s written down and lets me know that I need three days of weights and one day of cardio per week.

I start tomorrow.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Season Three

I’m back.

Many people have asked me why I haven’t posted for so long. Two reasons, really.

1. It’s good to give up something during Lent, and
2. I’m terribly lazy.

Let’s face it. Writing’s hard. Writing stuff that people are interested in reading is even harder. Writing stuff that people are interested in reading and doing so regularly, when you have nothing to say and you know that all that your laboring has brought you is the occasional smidgen of appreciation from a chimney sweep in Minsk (Hey, Gustav!) is about as downright difficult as, well -- I’ve forgotten how to analogize cleverly.

But nevertheless, at the cost of repeating myself, I’m back.

How has my life been over the past few weeks? Nothing exciting really. Just the odd late-night, rave party bust up, followed by a harried police interrogation, some third degree, a quick appearance in court and then back home for chai and biscuits in the evening. In other words, boring. (That’s just one word, actually.)

I don’t see this post going any place in a hurry, so I’ll just wind it up. For the final time, in case you didn’t catch it before, I’m back.

PS: Genuine appreciation can be manifested in the following ways:

1. Cash, if you can meet me.
2. Checks, if you can’t, but know my postal address.
3. Proposals via e-mail for a hot, steamy one night stand, if you know nothing about me but are a relatively good-looking female.
4. If none of the above are possible, just a leaving a comment will be fine.

Thank You.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


Everyone likes winning arguments with good, sparkly-clean logic. Like a beautiful Paul Morphy chess game, it’s something that pleases you not only as you execute the victory, but also brings a smile to your face every time you think about it later. Indeed, there’s nothing like a fine logical victory. Nothing, that is, except for one other thing -- an fine ILLOGICAL victory!

“Trust me”, fighting logic with illogic is the funnest thing in the world! You can watch the other person try to reason, convince, argue, yank-hair-out-in-frustration, beat-head-against-wall, and then finally gnaw-arm-off-and-club-self-to-death-with-it, while you sputter forth one illogical riposte after another. And then you experience a warm feeling of tingly pleasure spreading all over your body, because you’ve not only won, but you’ve won by knockout! (A recently conducted survey concluded that 96.43% of the people who love to argue using illogic are also sadists.)

Of course, you can’t just throw in any illogic. It has to be good quality, exasperatingly frustrating, mind-fugging illogic. For that you have to be an illogical expert. You need plenty of experience in this field. You need to hone your skills and master your craft for many years, until you can finally make your opponents try to suffocate themselves to death in exasperation.

To help all you folks get started, I shall present here some gems of illogic that I’ve been blessed to hear about in the past year. No doubt, the purveyor of each of them is an expert in the art -- a veritable pundit, if you may. We can only bow down to such brilliance and try to pick up a few pointers for ourselves.

So without further ado:-


1. “Who's to say that one month is a short time and 10 years is a long
time? Who's to say?? Who's to say???”

2. “I choose not to tell you!”

3. “Things change, people change, I changed...”

4. “Why take the first step when the tenth step is not desirable?”

5. “Everything doesn’t have a reason.”

6. “You can’t argue some things with logic.”

Okay, fine. The last one actually makes sense. A LOT of sense.

(The post above is filled with in-jokes and probably didn’t make any sense to you. If you even understand any of it, you have my utmost sympathies. The list was compiled by a friend. I take no credit in its making. [Ir]Regular blogging will resume from tomorrow. Thank you and good night!)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Lenten Abstinences

Apparently, yesterday was Ash Wednesday. I say “apparently” because I’m not even very sure about whether it was or wasn’t, and I’m really too lazy to check. In other words, we’re currently in the season of Lent. (In case you didn’t know, it comes from the Old English word for “length”, because it was felt that it just SO darned long!)

Now, I’m fairly nonreligious. I’d call myself an atheist, but frankly I’m too lazy to bother. No points for guessing that I don’t go to church, and I don’t plan to indulge myself in any pious acts of abstinence either over the coming few weeks. Good reasons for giving up something I like, for a month, might include the following:

1. I get paid handsomely to do it
2. I get smothered to death by a REALLY fat lady sitting on me if I don’t do it
3. The cool kids around the block are already doing it.

I do not rank “some guy with a beard in the sky, who may or may not exist, will be pleased” as sufficient reason for abstinence from something that I derive pleasure out of. Neither does “the Bible says so” count. The thought of going to hell for not following such stuff scared me for a while until I realized that hell can’t be much worse than driving home from work in the evening traffic. And I’ve managed to survive that thus far.

I guess there are two things you need to keep in mind when you’re selecting something to abstain from. Firstly, it needs to be something you like doing. Promising to abstain from doing the dishes isn’t going to win you brownie points with any God, I’d tend to believe. Secondly, it’s got to be something that you do fairly regularly during the rest of the year. Thus, saying “I’m going to abstain from having sex with all blonde, West Indian females named Fufou” would be equally useless.

I think Lenten abstinences are actually quite like New Year’s resolutions only the term’s shorter. Forty days instead of the rest of your life. Unless you’re a diabetic octagenarian, with a weak heart and cancer of the lungs, or a civilian in Baghdad, in either which case “the rest of your life” can probably be measured in minutes, forty days is probably the shorter period. In fact, I’m pretty sure most New Year’s resolutions are already broken by the time Lent comes around, and are then just recycled as Lenten abstinences. It saves people the trouble of having to think of a new “resolution” to break.

What are you going to staying away from this Lent?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Customary Annual Rant

Happy Valentwhine’s Day.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Con Jobs That Are Good For You

I’ve always been a big fan of fooling people for their own good. Deciding exactly what is “good” for someone is a tricky issue at best. I might think eating snails for breakfast everyday is good for you. You might disagree. And I’m pretty sure the World Committee for the Welfare of Snails would mind too, but it’d probably take them a couple of years to decide.

Ultimately, most people like making their decisions themselves. Most of the time I think this is a good idea. There are times, though, when I feel more can be achieved by fooling people. For example, like this. Here’s another idea.

You know how they have battery indicators on electronic devices? My cell phone, for example, has a line of bars on the side of the screen. When it’s completely charged there are six bars, and as it discharges, the bars keep disappearing. Zero bars left means that the battery’s done. IPods and other devices have similar indicators.

Now I’ve noticed that I tend to ignore charging the phone if there are at least three bars left. If there are two bars present, I tend to look for a socket somewhere. If there’s one bar remaining, I’d probably shove the damned cord up a passer-by’s ass and hope for a miracle. In other words, I only think about charging the phone when the battery’s on its last legs.

My point is that the indicator should not reduce linearly. The first four bars to vanish on my phone should represent less than four-sixths of the battery life. About 50% seems like a good figure. By assigning roughly half the battery life to the last two bars, the chances of my phone going dead when I don’t expect it are considerably reduced.

A similar job could be done on the fuel indicators in cars. I suppose I could just force myself to fill my motor-cycle tank before the needle actually hits “E”, but I know I’m not going to. I sometimes need people to con me for my own good.

I’m fairly certain this is already being done, at least with charging devices. The only reason it’s kept a secret is so that it actually works!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

False Alarms at Work

About once a week, normally on a dull, lackluster afternoon, we’ll all be interrupted in the office by a loud jangling and clanging noise. Much like a fire alarm. In fact exactly like a fire alarm, for that is indeed what it is. It’s a loud irritating sound; one that might easily get on your nerves and make you want throttle your cubicle mates. Or one that might cause you to stick that yellow pencil lying on your desk right into your ear (and I don’t mean the soft eraser end) -- anything to make the noise stop. The only reason one might actually tolerate such a cacophonous auditory abomination is that it’s there to save our lives. Supposedly.

One might, not unnaturally, expect such an intimation to be the cause of much panic among the denizens of the office, none of whom are fire-resistant. It would therefore, if one were to be present within the confines of the building when the alarm goes off, come as quite a surprise to see employees display no greater concern toward it than a slight frown and a vigorous shake of the head (to get the noise out of their brains). But no wild dashing toward the exits, no mad grabbing for the fire-extinguishers, no crazy leaping out of the windows, no insane “Osama’s decided to target Poona now!” yelling. Not even the calm, single file exodus that one might expect during a fire-drill. Just frowning and shaking. And some pencils bending and some necks choking.

The alarm generally lasts about 30 seconds. Our puzzled observer might spend about another fifteen-twenty minutes in a state of amused bewilderment, before a loud voice is heard on the Public Address System.

“Excuse me, may I have your attention please. This is the ______ Access Control Speaking. The alarm that you just heard was a false alarm. I repeat, the alarm that you just heard was a false alarm. We are all safe at work. Thank you.”

Yes, folks. Every single time. (I’ve seen about 4306 false alarms since I’ve started work here. As for real fires, I haven’t even seen a candle flame.)

Now, I don’t really have a gripe against the false alarms. I know Rob (imaginary co-worker I make up to protect real identities) likes to go for the odd cigarette or two in the closet next to the washroom, especially on dull, lackluster afternoons, when there’s little else to do. I just have this niggling suspicion that he might in some complex way, which I am too ignorant to ever fully comprehend, be responsible for setting off the alarm.

But here’s what I DO have a grudge against -- it takes FIFTEEN minutes to announce the alarm’s bogus? If the alarm’s legit I want to be screaming like a little girl and running for my life as soon as I possibly can. Not after I’ve waited fifteen minutes. Not after the flames start to make my chair painfully hot to sit on. Not after my hair catches fire. What frightens me is that we’ve all got so used to this regular false alarm crap that no one even moves from their place any more. And one day those fifteen minutes might just be too late.

Remember, I’m not talking about planned fire-drills over here. We’ve never had a fire-drill. I guess when (okay, “if”) the actual fire does happen we’ll all just use that two-step process I mentioned above.

Step 1: Scream like little girl. (If you are already a “little girl”, just scream. Then file lawsuit against company for “Exploitation of Child Labor”.)
Step 2: Run for your life.

(All this AFTER you’ve been burned to a toast in those fifteen minutes.)

And finally, it’s interesting to note the last line in the announcement: “We are all safe at work.” Last time I heard the announcement, I stood up and looked around. Sure, everyone was “safe”. But the only living creature “at work” was a mouse in the corner. (Oh, and Rob in the closet.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Me For President

“Ladies and gentlemen, and all you other people reading this too, I hereby solemnly declare my intention to run for President in the 2008 American presidential elections. Thank you.”

Yes, that’s it. I’ve “thrown my hat in the ring” and “jumped in the fray” or whatever other overused media cliché takes your fancy. It seems to be the “in thing” right now, and why should I be left behind?

Okay, let’s face it -- I’m Indian. That seems to bear heavily against my chances. Common logic would suggest that a retarded beaver has more chance of getting elected to the White House than an (Eeww!) Indian. (Some people might even say one beaver’s already proven that. Twice.) But let’s not forget that these are times of extreme out-sourcing. Isn’t the Presidency just a job after all? And aren’t all American jobs being sent to India? If I can answer your calls about why that paper plate you put in your microwave seems to have yellowish flames emanating from it, then I’m guessing I can decide on your national budget too. (It’s almost the same thing. Really.)

My next “problem” would be that I’m unheard of to the average Joe on the American streets. I believe this is a good thing. It seems to me that most voters vote “against” rather than vote “for”.

“Well, Joshua’s gay. But’s Harry’s a gay pedophile who’s likes to strangle little boys once he’s done with them. I know whom I’m voting for!”

“Hmmm... John’s is an incompetent idiot but his opponent’s a woman. Go John!”

If the voters haven’t heard of a particular candidate, they don’t have an “against” against him. This is totally in my favor. Right now the Americans seems so cheesed off about both the Republicans and the Democrats that I believe a “weird, brown guy with a slightly tacky accent” might just stand a chance.

Of course, as the old theory goes, the taller guy with the better hair normally wins. I’m reasonably tall and I’ll get a haircut. Put all that together and this ought to be a cinch.

Policy making might prove tricky at first -- assuming I do get elected -- especially since I am not aware of the nitty-gritty of American politics and don’t really understand the basic needs of the American populace. However, I think I’ll be able to manage pretty well with a coin to flip and a couple of dice to roll. I’m sure I won’t do any worse than the current administration, at least. As far as foreign policy is concerned, that’s pretty simple. Don’t go to war in/against any country where the general population likes to use car-bombs. (Also, become good friends with Jon Stewart and Jay Leno. But that’s not as important.)

Nominations for my “running mate” are now welcome, as are cool campaign slogans.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Don't Like This Ad (Okay, Maybe Just a Little Bit)

Here’s an advertisment I came across today.

The small print at the bottom corner reads, “Don’t Abort The Girl Child”.

The advertisement’s pretty neatly designed and it gets the message across. I’m not guru on the subject of advertisement and I shall refrain from making any further comments on its style, color scheme etc, but suffice it to say I think all of that’s good. But... .

I have a problem with the advertisement on two issues. Well, it’s really just one issue when you think about it, but I’ll put it across as two. Sue me for that if you want.

1. By drawing a comparison with Kalpana’s brother -- who “runs a small business in Karnal” -- the advertisement assumes an extremely stereotypical (and in my opinion, wrong) definition of “success”. What is it trying to say? Does it imply that Kalpana was “more successful” than her brother? Or that I shouldn’t abort a female foetus BECAUSE it (she) may turn out to be an astronaut at NASA unlike its (her) brother who MAY only end up as a small scale businessman? That doesn’t seem to make much sense to me.

Let’s look at things objectively -- for argument’s sake. Are they trying to say that Kalpana Chawla’s life was “worth” more than her brother’s? Economists have their way of applying a value metric to human life, and according to their measure I believe Kalpana’s life may well have been worth more than Mr. Chawla’s is back home in Punjab. But again, that doesn’t prove anything. (At least, he’s still alive.)

2. More importantly, if abortion of the girl child (or any child for that matter) is wrong [1], then it is wrong for reasons based purely on principle and NOT because of what that child may or may not achieve. Assuming that the Chawla family could only raise one child of the two (I don’t know how many children they actually have, but it doesn’t matter) and assuming that Kalpana’s life is worth more than some unheard of businessman in Punjab, does that mean it would have been okay for them to abort the son in favor of the girl? (We’re also assuming they knew what each would end up as.) Probably not.

I guess at the end of the day, all the advertisement is trying to say is “Give your unborn daughters a shot at life because they’ve as much of a chance of flying into space (and then being done in by a faulty piece of foam) as your sons”. In that case, I just wasted a lot of breath over here. But what the heck! I had nothing better to write about today anyway.

[1]: I’m not saying that abortion is wrong -- that’s a matter that’s open to debate as far as I’m concerned, with strong, valid reasons both “for” and “against”. I’m saying IF it were wrong, THEN... .

Monday, January 22, 2007

My New Ambition In Life

(Alternatively titled -- "Why I Wish I Was Named Zystemimes Zestyis")

I guess it would be fun to be the “Most Famous Person in the World” with a particular name. I’ve always been a fame-seeking kind of chap. Given a choice between wealth or fame, I know I’d pick fame. I’m assuming, of course, I’m in a hypothetical world where I couldn’t use my money to buy fame or my fame to make money. In other words, if I could have one, and only one, of the two, I’d pick fame.

Some [last] names are common. For example, who would you say is the Most Famous Smith in the World? I don’t know. I know the Most Famous Clinton in the World is a lying, intern-bedding, former president whom most of us hate and yet most of us love. (The only person who could have beaten him to it was probably aborted sometime early 1998 or is a grade-schooler living in anonymity somewhere.) Either way, we all know who the Most Famous Lewinsky in the World is.

The winners for Jordan (Michael over Peter André’s wife), Hemmingway, Gates, etc are easy to pick. Who wins Johnson? Or Williams?

It’s easy to see that your chances are pretty negligible unless:

1. You’ve got a name that isn’t very common, and
2. There isn’t already a VERY famous person with the same name.

Considering that let’s where I stand. Arnold’s not too common, but unfortunately for me someone’s already nabbed it. I’d have to assassinate a President using only a water-pistol and with my eyes closed and follow that up by making love to his wife while letting his children watch, to have any hope of winning that category. I don’t see myself attacking people with water-pistols just to achieve my silly ambition, though I might be willing to sleep around after that. Bottom line, I’ll have to satisfy myself with second place in the “Arnold” list.

There is, however, some good news. I don’t know any VERY famous people whose last names are D’Souza. (I’ve checked and Google doesn’t seem to either.) There are a few enterprising individuals with this name scattered here and there, but it’s safe to say there’s no Clinton. So that’s my current plan -- to become the Most Famous D’Souza in the World. Now, all I need to think about is how. I’m guessing drinking 23 cans of beer in 2 hours should about do it, but I’ll give it some more thought.

This is my new ambition in life (until the next one comes along, at least).

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My Book and Other Short Stories

I’d like to write a book someday. It seems like one of those cool things to do and more significantly it satisfies the following two important criteria:

1. It will earn me some money, and
2. [I think] I can do it.

There are plenty of little problems along the way though. For example, I haven’t a darned clue what I’m going to write the book about or even, for that matter, which genre of literature it should belong to. My Experiences With Women seemed like a good idea for a while, but like I’ve said before somewhere, I’m not a big fan of fantasy fiction. A Dull and Boring Teenage Life, on the other hand, is very writable, but I’m not sure I could even convince my own wife to spend her money on buying something like that. (And let’s not forget that we’re talking about a lady who’d buy a pair of shoes just because they’ll “look nice next to that other pair in her wardrobe”.)

Humor sounds doable. I could possibly write something funny. Well, funny to me at least. And therein lies my next problem. Most of the things that crack me up rarely have much effect on too many other people. I guess if it’s EXTREMELY funny, I might be able to con myself into buying 853,000 copies of the book. But that would make me the first penniless person to be famous since -- ummm, K-Fed. And I don’t want to go there.

I need a sure-shot plan for getting rich by writing, and that too one that doesn’t call for too much talent. If you think that’s impossible, I have one name for you -- Sidney Sheldon. Anyway, here’s my plan. I’m going to write a suspense novel. It’ll have a long, winding plot. There’ll be plenty of sex, lies, scandal, murder, smashing-in-of-skulls-using-crowbars, and maybe even some violent crime. There’ll be hot, rich bombshells, and dirty scallywags and the occasional hooker thrown in. Someone might die somewhere along the way (though I’m not promising you anything just yet), and some new characters may be born. Everything that you can think of will be there in the book.

Now here’s the REALLY brilliant part of the plan. I end the book right in the MIDDLE of the suspense. Then a year later, a release another book -- one that promises to put an end the suspense created by the first one. Everyone who’s bought the first book will just HAVE to buy this one. And those who want to buy this one will have to buy the first. (Double profits! Yippee!) Once again there’ll be everything in it! Everything, that is, except the ending. That I shall save for the third book of the series, where I’ll shall reveal that I’m actually saving it for the fourth book. I’m not sure I can fool an entire population of stupid, book-buying idiots any more than that, so there won’t actually be a fifth book. People might start to get a little cheesed off with me after this, but by then I’m hoping to be rich enough to buy the planet Mars, where I’ll be safe from the suspense-charged masses crying for my blood.

Now I crawl into a little thinking-hole to conjure up a good name for the hooker.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Little White Lies on Your Dashboard

If I were a car manufacturer, I’d just make every speedometer display a speed that’s about 15-20% more than the actual speed of the vehicle.

Speed, as I see it, is more about the number than anything else. I can’t prove this in any way, but I’m fairly certain that someone who loves high-speed driving would be happier if he were driving at 120 but thought it was 150 than if he were actually driving at 150 but thought it was only 120. Like so many other things, it’s all in the mind.

Of course, this is only true if the error in the reading isn’t large enough to be noticed. For example, you couldn’t show a 30 as a 90 and expect to fool too many people other than maybe George Bush or Britney Spears. And even they’d start to suspect something after a while. But call an 80 a 90 and it would take an Ayrton Senna to tell the difference.

So basically I could now advertise my vehicle as having a top speed of 200 instead of a plain, boring Gramma-driving speed of say 170 and I’m sure that would get more people to buy my car. More importantly, this is probably the most efficient method to keep people within the speed limit since Edward II decreed that all carriage-drawing horses must have only three legs. If the street sign shows a limit of 80, you know you’re going to be doing 85 at least. But now that that 85 is merely a 75, no police radar gun’s going to stop you. (Assuming the guns measure the right speed.)

It also becomes far easier to impress chicks sitting in the passenger or rear seats. For them -- more than anybody -- speed’s DEFINITELY just a number.

“Hey! Check this out, babe! We’re doing 190!”
“Whoa! If I blow you right now, would you PLEASE slow down?”

If I were girl, I think I’d pretend to be impressed no matter what speed the guy’s driving at. Call me chicken if you may, but I’m not sure I want to die just yet, and I believe “Slow down, I’m impressed” is a slightly better option than “130? Pfft! My mentally challenged cousin drives faster than that!”

I think car manufacturers already DO ensure that your car shows you a higher speed than you’re really at, but just in case they haven’t already thought of it, I’m going to suggest it the next time I meet someone from the automobile industry.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Jobs That Really Should Exist (But Don’t)

I think creating unnecessary jobs may not be the worst thing in the world. It keeps more people occupied, and that means there are less people who are looking to cause trouble. This all works on the “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop” principle – one that you have to admit does have its merit. As long as I’m occupied with something, I can stay out of trouble fairly easily. But if I’m REALLY bored, I probably wouldn’t mind chopping the danglers off a passer-by just “for the hack of it”.

So toward this cause, I hereby propose the following new jobs at any office (preferably one that operates like mine):

1. Blank-page photocopier:-
Anytime you want like 5 blank sheets of paper and all you have is ONE blank sheet of paper (God forbid), you can always call on trusty Ol’ Jim – The Blank-page Photocopier guy. Of course, you can have cool code commands like “Run me a 505x69 on this A4”, just to make his job a little more interesting.

2. American English – British English Translator:-
For someone who was brought up on a healthy diet of pure, unadulterated Queen’s English, these danged Yankee coots with their funny accents and their corrupted ‘English’ can be quite a nuisance. In steps your ever-ready American-British Translator, Mike, to insert the necessary ‘u’s’, change the ‘er’s’ into ‘re’s’ and call a ‘cookie’ what it REALLY is – a BISCUIT!

3. Human Temperature Regulators:-
These are the chaps who are brought into the office and positioned in regions where the temperature is too low. As we’re all aware, the temperature regulation at most offices is in shambles and people are regularly complaining about the place being either “hot enough to poach an egg” or “colder than a polar bear’s tits”. Now you can regulate the temperature in your cubicle yourself, by placing the necessary amount of these Human Temperature Regulators around you so that the body warmth they generate provides the exact amount of heating you require. (If the place is already too hot, just bring in one person and ask him/her to fan you. Also stop working, switch off your computer and reason with your boss that it was generating more heat than it was worth.)

4. Scapegoats:-
I really think people should be hired just to perform this, and only this, task. How nice it would be to muck something up and then just go, “Oh, it was all Matt the Scapegoat’s fault!” Then the boss just fires Matt from that module, moves him to another one, and brings in a fresh, new Scapegoat into the first module to take the blame for the next FUBAR. The Scapegoat’s “done his thing” and everyone’s happy.

I’m off to think of new ways to save the world now.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bad Ankle Turns Good

I broke my ankle yesterday. It hurts a lot and it isn’t much fun not being able to ride a motor-cycle or walk around without hobbling like a senile, octogenarian. But for all its curses, I’d have to say it’s probably the surest way to an easy lay.

To start off with, all the hobbling and limping (with some grimacing and teeth-clenching thrown in) attracts the attention – and more importantly, the sympathy – of all sorts of chicks. So normally, females who’s just pass me by with a smile or maybe a nod-hallo, are now stopping to inquire how my “poor little cutie sweetie-weetie ankle” is doing. I must admit this feels nicer than it sounds.

Of course, conversation then slips to inquiring how this so unfortunate a tragedy happened to come about. That’s when I mention I hurt it playing basketball (okay, so it was “human basketball” to be scrupulously precise, but no one’s heard of that anyway). That’s the magic word really – “Basketball”. After that, there are so many chicks queuing up with the express intention of humping you that one actually needs a coupon-system if one is to avoid complete and utter chaos.

If my ankle never heals, it would be too soon.

(Oh, I’m not sure if this is relevant, but the doctor tells me the pain-killers I’m on may cause delusional hallucinations. Oh, wait! Damn!)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Seven Colors of a Straight Man

I’ve always wondered what an easy way to spot gay men is. Some possible methods off the top of my head would be:

1. Does he sleep with other men?
2. Does he prefer man-on-man porn to regular?
3. Does he own a George Michael album?

However, it’s fair to say that none of these could be reasonably described as “easy”. They would necessitate access to either his bedroom/computer/album shelf, and I have neither the time nor the inclination for any of that. And yet, I think I’d like to avoid the embarrassment I faced the last time I set up a friend with a girl and found out he was “that way”. (Not that there’s anything wrong with it.)

I think I’ve finally come up with a decent solution to this problem. Ask the guy to identify the color of something that’s lying nearby. It works best if you choose an article of clothing. Your shirt, for example. His answer ought to clue you in to his sexual orientation.

It’s a pretty well known fact that most straight guys can recognize about 7 colors -- red, blue, green, yellow, black, white and brown. Gray is “a bit of blackish-white (or whitish-black, depending on how dark it is)”, maroon is “just another red” and orange is “that color which is also a fruit”. Simply put, men don’t care too much about different shades.

So if Tim describes your shirt as one of the above 7 colors, you know he’s straight. If he uses a word that you haven’t heard before, that’s where you start to suspect all might not be as it appears. For example, if he calls it “beige”, “ocher”, “peach”, “lilac”, “aquamarine” or something like that he definitely drives on the wrong side of the road. No straight man knows that these shades even exist. (If he describes your shirt as “pink” or “lavender”, the two of you would make an excellent couple.)

Elton John apparently uses the term “pastel shades” in everyday conversation.

(Just for the record, all the colors mentioned on this page -- except the seven safe ones -- were obtained by Googling “colors and shades no straight man would be aware of”. I did not know they existed until 7 minutes ago. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Saddam Joke of The Day

Q - "What do you say to Saddam just before you yank the trapdoor open?"
A - "Shi'ite Happens!"