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.