Sunday, July 09, 2006

You want to beg ?!!

Some things never end, and some things we never stop talking about.

Accent, arguably, is one of them ! It almost always has one in splits when someone mimicks an accent, or when a word is pronounced so wrong that it gives the sentence a completely different and silly meaning...

I live in this place, where the strength of the indian community is, shall i say, pretty accent-uated. The other day i was at the groceries store to buy some kulfi. After placing it on the counter, the lady started entering the details on the system, when she looked up at me and asked:

Lady : "you wanto beg ?"

i was sure i heard what i heard .....ok, i know i get paid less, but an offer to beg ?? Wow !, and i thought begging was a self-inspired profession all the while !

Me: i am sorry! i'd like to pay!
Lady: "yes, but do you wanto beg ?"

stumped by her insistence, i almost gave it a thought, before i shouted out

"No, i don't want to !"

Lady: "ok!", she said, peacefully removing the kulfi out of the carry bag she had put it in, and handing the kulfi to me!

"here you are, no baeg !"...striking me at that time that she meant "you want a bag ?" !!!

I've always believed that teachers are probably the most important reason students develop an accent in the first place. Not that the teachers do it intentionally, but well, they have been taught that way !

At school, often, we were introduced to the gay and the 1-dimensional world simultaneously, by our math teacher, who wouldnt as much as flinch when she used to direct us saying "please all the gerls and boys, draw a straight lion !", while some cheeky blokes would hiss at the back "wonder how a gay lion would look like"!

Lecturers and profs in college usually used to be the butt of the jokes when it came to accent. more often than not, the bad ones used to have a bad accent to go with, which would not only make them look dumb, but atrociously funny to discuss!

Sometimes they twisted and rolled the words so badly, it's got innocent people in a tight situation on many occasions. We had this lecturer in college, who spoke in thick malayalam accent, and looked like an adult midget. Roll call was the worst, since she pronounced numbers like she was frying something round in her mouth before uttering the words. My cousin, had 412 as his roll number, and unfortunately for him, the teacher always pronounced it as "for toll" !. well, it did take a toll on him, if you think about it, since he took ages to comprehend what she had said, answer out of turn, and get kicked out for giving proxy ! that's the unluckiest one can get - Roll number for toll!

...and there were some who pronounced a specific letter differently.

Our lecturer in college couldn't say the letter 'P', and would instead say "Fee". Unfortunately for him, his 'P' vocab was better than his 'F' !

One gloomy day he caught my classmate Premnath sleeping in class, and launched himself on him,

"Hey you Fathetic Frame-nath !! are you sleefing in class ?" bring us all back from sleep...

Before foor frame-nath could get back to his lenses and senses, a tight blow landed on his head, with another blooper on it's way...

"You are feeling so sleefy, someone else has to wake uf for you ?".

...i'd like a job where someone else could wake up for me, while i slept!!

Another prof of mine had an issue with the 'T's, often coming out as 'thi' or 'tha', and the evil mind that we were, we had named the prof "thomatho-pothatho". she'd go "you guys are therrible, whaths the need to thalk in the labrathory ?" during the microprocessor lab sessions...well after this, we couldnt talk, more so because we tried hard not to howl in laughter!

...but the one that takes the cake was this lecturer who couldn't say 'sa', and would say 'sha'. Imagine the look on this new girl in the second year, when he asked her almost smilingly to "please shit down where the girls are shitting" !, directing her towards them!

much as i would note layke to be kyencerned about these, shumtimes it becomes fainfully unbearable !

Accent proves to be a little hard to digest when you are in a serious situation though. You can't really laugh at times, more like just be green faced trying to control it, but it's funny nonetheless !

There's this colleague of mine, another fellow indian, who pronounces "Brian" like its "Brain". ok, it's not very funny, and could be a compliment in many cases, you'd like to think! Well we had this serious client meeting one day, and Bob wanted the status for a given task, when my colleague spoke, in a slightly surprised tone : "I sent a message about this to brain an hour ago , but haven't got any response yet !". I can swear Red faced Bob pinched himself once to check if he wasn't sleeping since he was hearing things, while i was knocked off my chair trying to control my laugh! That's one cheeky brain which not only knows it is slow, but brave enough to tell it out !.

well all said, these are but innocent mistakes people probably can't do much to change. That's way better than the ones who try to put up an accent, and half way down the line forget to continue it, and start sounding like they've eaten crab legs.....that's a different story to be taken one at a time!...that's when "you'd wanto baeg" to puke into!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Catch him if you can !

"malkolo bega ! kalla bandu ethkond hog bidtaane ilandre !"
(sleep soon, otherwise the thief's going to take you away !)

...the characteristic war-cry aunt used, to scare me when i was a kid, to put me to now, i couldn't solve linear equations at the age of 6, but who's she kidding anyway!...i'd rather be awake while the thief's trying to steal me, than be a sleeping duck to make his job all the more easy ! while aunty's magic mantra used to work on normal kids my age, she'd hopelessly complain to my mother :
"aahahaha nin maga bangaaara !!!! kalla bartaane andre inna joraagi kann bitkondu eddidanae !" (oh what a son of gold! the mention of "thief" has made him all the more active!)

I've had quite a few brushes with thieves, and apparently, i noticed, not many were even remotely concerned about whether i slept well, or for that matter find any good use in taking me away if i didnt !...while the incurable liar that my aunt was, SHE was left petrified at the sight of him on quite a few occasions.

some of my earliest encounters with thieves have been rather disappointing....owing to a lot of construction work around my place, petty robberies were the norm of the day. people would come up with innovative ideas to trap the omnipresent thief, while robbers would come up with counter ideas to trick victims in turn. Once our neighbour got this brilliant idea of planting glass pieces on the free end of his 4 feet high compound wall, so that the robber would "bleed to death" while trying to cross it. pea-brain uncle would sharpen each glass piece on the wall with a chisel every weekend, visibly satisfied playing the "guardian" role! one in the layout wanted a robbery more than this dumbo, just so that he could test his wares ! after months of waiting, he gave up when his equally dumb kid mauled himself while trying to scale new heights with a "baby anju" long jump over the compound wall.

One guy thought it was a groundbreaking idea to place a few mouse traps near the gate, in the hope that the thief would step on it - a sorry version of land mines, if you like. i did hope that his oversize wife would step on it one day....alas he got wind of it and removed it in haste...

Washed clothes, hung up to dry, being robbed was a common occurance in the neighbourhood. Mother had come up with a brilliant idea against this by appointing me to guard it. awfully boring and time consuming this job, she had scared me into believing that if my school uniform shorts got robbed I'd be the one who'd be going to school without it !...the trick had to work !.

With a stick four times my height i'd sit there guarding the clothes. The stick, on the other hand, far from scaring the thief away, probably compelled him to steal it instead, so he could use it to pole vault high rise walls.

All these meeting with little or no success, neighbourhood boys now turned to the gorkha, by over-tipping him to do more rounds of the neighbourhood...for once, this worked, and peace reigned for sometime.

..until the thief struck again...this time sweeping off stereos from cars in the neighbourhood. This was about 10 years ago...Getting up early in the morning, i saw the car's rear glass neatly removed and placed on the bonnet, while the left door was ajar. at first glance, i thought my father's obsession with cleaning the car had reached new heights, only to see a police sniffer dog peeing near the pole outside with a burly cop next to him.

"en saaar nim manelu kalthaana aitha ?" ( has there been a robbery at ur house too ?)..the cop questioned.

"ah!!! ....oh !!!!" (...the realization dawning on me!)

after filing an FIR, and taking my statement, the cop advised me,

"next time crime scene hatra hogi hand print bidbedi !" ( dont leave your hand prints on the crime scene the next time !)....

...and i was like, "you moron, you expect another robbery or what !".

...with insurance paying up for the stale stolen stereo, it was a good deal actually.

vigil increased again in the neighbourhood...the gorkha was getting richer by the day....the elusive thief never returned....

....until about 4 years ago, when one thief caught the fancy of our tenants shoes. The first time he siphoned of two pairs of his shoes, our tenant boy had no idea what had happened, concluding that it was the temple where he had actually forgotten them!

Exactly after 2 months, the prompt thief showed up again( as though that is time he gave the victim to buy himself a few pairs), and this time walked away with another pair, just two months old. The feverish pace at which the thief was working, one would think he had a deadline to complete!

If there is one profession where one should NOT be on time, robbery definitely is one. Very sure that the thief would turn up in the next two months, night vigil was on the cards., and there i was manning our house gate albeit at a safe distance, within the comforts of the house, and watching out for the unknown to materialize.

Surely enough he came.

The clock struck 2am, when a sudden thud jolted me out of my slumber. Immediately running towards the door, i peeped outside the window to check what had happened. The thief, had done a good job of stealing the shoes, but had tripped while trying to scale the compound wall.

"kaLLa kaLLa...appaji kaLLa bandidane !!!" ( thief ! thief ! dad, the thief's here !)....i had latched the doors so tight, i could hardly turn them with my shivering hands.

"kalla kalla antha maney olgaade kuthkondre sigtaaneno goobe !" (will you be able to catch the thief, if you shout sitting inside the house , you owl ?)

now, now this is no way to thank the guard !...a classic case of shooting the messenger !

Father was quick, and he opened the door, while i tried hard to look at the direction in which the thief ran...

"neen eekaade hogu, naanu aakade hogtini....kalla madhyadalli sikakothaane" ( you go right, and i'll go left, we'll catch him on the other side of the block!) father ordered.

with little or no experience in catching a thief, and elementary skills in self defence, i'd be safe trying to catch him, than actually catch him, i contemplated. That way i'd dry him out, and then deal with him better. I ran towards my right, shouting as loud as i could, more out of fear....

The limping thief, a skinny torched bloke in his late 20s, with a pair of shoes hanging around his neck, scampered off even faster at the sight of me. His fear was a saving grace, for if he had shown even an ounce of resistance to my chase, the whole scene would have been completely different, with him chasing me, and my father chasing the both of us !

Such was my conscious effort to chase him but not catch him, that if he had ever decided to stop for a sec, he'd be shocked to see that i would have had done the same too. i could see my father on the other side of the block, running hand in hand occasionally appearing and disappearing behind the houses. The thief took a swift right turn, to run right in the direction where my father would be waiting to pounce on him.

However, the sudden ruckus created by my shouts disturbed the street dogs, which apparantly took offense of this, and started chasing me instead. i never approved of street dogs as security guards, and this time i ran vindicated !...taking this opportunity, the thief ran into the neighbourhood park throwing the shoe away, leaving me helpless with the street dogs, while i ran around to collect a few stones to chase them away.

2 seconds later.....THUD !! tight blow on my head...turning back, i saw my father, red with anger,

"ello kaLLa ??? kathe !!!" (WHERE's the thief ??? you donkey !!!)...

muffled words, came out.....'hidiri nodona!' ('catch him if you can!')

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Putting it Shortly!

for weeks now i hadn't as much as had a mosquito bite - a far cry from those bygone days when every midget that could walk on two legs could pull my leg if the situation so warranted.

It was fishy to say the least, and i did feel something was cooking, only this time i was the cook!
Trying to keep a low profile, just to let the sweet moment continue i spent quite a few weeks trying to be indifferent to the good things happening around.

....the lull before the storm isn't a saying to impress the storm....., it actually works!

Come last week, one of my friends enlightened me about a saloon that's started operating recently in our company and the various services it offers, including haircut and hair-color. impressed by what i had heard, i decided it was time for a makeover. Spike and burgandy is what it would be, i decided, both relatively new words i had picked up recently.

"Saturday bandbidi saar, neat aagi maadkotbidthini" (Come on saturday, i'll make sure it's done), the barber announced, when i enquired about the appointment.

visibly happy on seeing the barber's confidence, i dreamt of a dramatic look, that would make heads turn...

....well turn they did, ....mine!

Getting up early in the morning, my enthusiasm knew no bounds. The prospect of a Beckham look looming large, i had almost started practising handing over autographs. Hopping onto my bike, i drove past the busy traffic to reach the office 13 kms away, and the barber's den on time.

a swanky area with two king size seats, the saloon was an eye-catcher. The barber letting me in, asked me to check out the colors handing me a book. With only burgandy on my mind, i flipped through the book, that had bunches of hair in different colors stuck on each page with names written below, and i announced "burgandy irli"....The barber looking a bit contemplative, said "brown color maadskoli saar, chenaagiruthe "....(get it done in brown, it'll look fantastic), and showed me a color, with a number written "5.6" on it....
...The color looked fine, but the barber's ability didn't, so i confirmed with him "idey color barutha ?" (will the hair color looks exactly like this ?)..Turning his head like a ball on a pinnion, he nodded saying "aadre nimge 4.5 haaktini, adey chenaagirathe" ( i think 4.5 will be good for you)....

Assuming no harm with that, i agreed to it, asking him to first give me a spike cut, and then color the hair.

"Heg beko haag maadthini neevu araamagi rest thagoli saar" (rest assured saar, i'll get the job done!), he promised.

While he did some adjustments to the machine, i went into a slumber to let him get along with his job.

Running his machine all over my head, pieces of my well kempt hair fell off without a protest.

Opening my eyes a few seconds later, i saw a bald human staring at me, looking quite funny.....until i realized i was staring at the mirror!

"Spike heliddu naanu, yaakri ella cut maadbitri ?" , i protested ! ( i had asked for a spike, why have you cut everything ?)

tapping his machine to let the stuck hair fall off, the barber in characteristic coolness replied, "yaak saar bejaar aitha ?" ( why saar, are u dissapointed ?)

"bejaar aaa ?? koodle illa, spike antha helidde alva ?" ( Dissapointed ! there isn't any hair left! i had asked for a spike cut!)

"illa saar, naanu inna mugsillla, mugsida mele heli hegide antha" ( oh! let me finish, then you can judge me!)

"spike ge standing irbeku saar, standing-u, adikke short beku" ( for spike the hair should be cut real short, so that it "stands"), he continued...

After what looked like 10 minutes of incessant chopping, the barber dropped his axe down asking me to review his work. with a little more than a centimeter of hairs length above my forehead, and no hair above the ears, i looked like i had been robbed off my hair by a novice thief.

gaining composure soon, i shouted back "Yenri maadideera ???? kooodlella hogbittidyalla!" (what have u done, there isn't any hair at all!)

"Saar, next time banbidi neat aagi maadkodthini..iga first time alva adikke swalpa jaasthi cut aagoithu" ( come next time saar i'll do it's my first time, so i cut a little more!)

...oh first time bonus i presumed, literally fuming !

"first time aaaaaaaaaa ??????".....

The cheeky moron sheepishly accepted "Howdu saar, inobru raja"... (yes sir, the other person is on leave!)

DAMN !...what had i done with myself...i was thinking fast, deciding and re-deciding whether to shave the head completely...and then holding back thinking of the fate my friend had to endure when he had had his head shaven for the first time...

the barber sensing my distress, spoke "Saaar color maadkondbidi ella sari hoguthe" (get it colored, it'll become allright)

"koodle illa, color nun thale ga hatchtheera ?" (there isn't any hair left, will you color my head ?!), i retorted...

I couldn't believe the reply i got back for this...

he said "Alla saar isht doora bandideera eraDu maadkond hogbidi.. thirga yaak barthira.." ( Oh ho! you have come so far, get it colored..why do u want to come again !)

....coming again was out of question, but fixing the current disaster was ..

"Will the color help?" i asked, hoping for yet another emphatic reply, and yet another disaster...

"Oh yes, you'll be shocked to see when it's done", he replied back in kannada...


....45 minutes later, he washed my HEAD, since there wasn't any hair left anyway, and put the dim yellow lights on....bleary eyed i looked at the mirror, and saw what looked like an orange that seemed to have planted itself on my head....

turning to another customer who had come in for a haircut and coloring, the barber asked "Chenaagi kaanthaare alva ?" (doesn't he look good !)...

face tightened, the guy replied back "just give me a shave, i'll come back some other day..."

..i got the drift....

A few faces did turn on my way back home, but i got nothing of it until i reached home when my father opened the door and announced "Eno biddide nodu thale mele kempage!" (something's fallen on your's all red).... innocently....

:(( ...... it wasn't working at all...

mother came in shortly, and although stunned by my looks, chose not to speak until questioned...

invariably, i asked "hegidyamma cutting-u ?" ( how's the cutting ? )

"swalpa belkalli hodre onthara kaanuthe, illandre kathlalli jaasthi gothagolla bidu..HAHAHA" ( it looks a bit odd in light, but i think it'll look just fine in the dark..HAHAHA)

...ah that's a consolation..imagine looking bad even in the dark, with that blaring color on my head....

The next few days went in endless teasing and mocking ..mails were shot to all the near and dear ones by colleagues at office, and people made a beeline to observe the phenomenon. One girl calling me up said "eh elloo hogbeda igle barthini iru! HAHAHAHAAHAHA" ( hey don't go anywhere, i'm coming right away ....! HAHAHAAHAHAHAA) insensitive, one might argue..while another friend replied back to the mail "Jags, whom are you hiding from, by getting this hair-style ?"

...and the torture continues....

....tring tring....... "HAHAHAHAHAHHAAHA.....a little curl of what is left, and u'll enter the endangered species list"...

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Any time Saar !"

After bidding goodbye to cold weather and chilly winds 3 weeks ago, it was time to turn on the heat.

The last three weeks have been hectic. The mind's been crawling, and i've caught myself snoring on the keyboard almost everyday between 2pm-6pm. The eyes simply shuts close during this period. I escaped the first week blaming it on the Jet-lag, while looking up the dictionary for words with the same meaning, so i could use it during the coming weeks. After 3 weeks of torture, it was time for a break, i thought.

with four of us planning to hit pondicherry over the weekend, it seemed like good days ahead. The last time i remember touring India was when bullock carts were advertized on TV as the finest means of transportation and about the only thing the traffic police did then was wear the right uniform for the day.

with enthusiasm touching record levels, myself and karthik got into an auto to drive us to the railway station.

the auto driver : "Saar meter haakla, athva haage rate helala ?" ( shall i turn on the taxi meter or shall i estimate the rate without that ?)

...while i kept wondering whether it was a game the auto driver played to amuse himself by guessing the taxi rate, or did he accidentally notice cauliflowers behind my ears, karthik replied back:

"meter haaki, nimge yaak kashta" (put on the meter, why do you have to go through the trouble) did take me sometime to realize that it was a sarcastic remark :P...

i guess the driver took offense of it, for he seemed to go slow enough for us to actually get down and smell-the-flowers.

Reaching the railway station, where praveen joined us, we moved around for sometime before finding our train. I ran to a nearby makeshift shop on the platform to buy a bottle of water.

Me: "idu olley brand aa ?" (is this a good brand ?)
seller: "Any time saar!"
Me(slightly shocked at the emphatic reply): "Oh wow! sari kodi!" (give me right away!)

Happy about the deal i had got, i sat down looking at the bottle, and turned it around to read the letters printed on the bottle "Any Time Mineral water"....Ah ! ok.

The travel was uneventful with all of us dozing off as soon as the train picked up speed. Reaching Chennai Central at 5am the next morning, pradeep picked us up from the station and we got into a taxi to start our short journey to pondicherry.

pondicherry, a french colony earlier, is a place quite different from many other. With very little recollection of a place i had been to when 2 feet pygmies competed with me in height competitions, i only hoped that the place hasn't changed much since.

Reaching pondicherry at about 8am, we searched around for a hotel to find one just off the beach.

Walking down the streets filled with sellers and tourists, the bustling marketplace was busy as ever. sale everywhere with confused tourists blinking at dilapidated buildings trying to make sense out of it.

"Nah Dear! this one's just another building...the book doesnt mention it"

with a tour guide book in hand, often tourists try to make sense of what's in it with what's not there than what's out there.

Deciding to go to auro beach in the evening we tracked back after baking ourselves for a little longer in the scorching sun. Hungry like ravens, we walked along the streets looking for a hotel....and found none other than "Hotel Ananda Bhavan"...."Ananda Bhavan" is such a popular name for a hotel in this part of the world, some hotels paint the name in different colors just to differentiate themselves from fellow ananda bhavans..

Walking into the hotel, we planted ourself onto the nearest dining table, when praveen muttered loudly "Oh man! i can drink 6 coke bottles now!". No sooner had the waiter heard this, than he jumped towards refrigerator and voila! 6 bottles of KOKA's KOLA. It was like a wish come true, but only this time it was the waiter's wish. The next 2 minutes went in explaining to the waiter how badly we didnt want the drink, and that praveen habitually shouted this way whenever he was hungry!

With all 6 KOKAs out of sight, we ordered "Veg north indian meals".....the food did look like veg, and the only thing north indian about it was the bill. thoroughly unimpressed by the food and the lack of service, pradeep tried to act smart by leaving a 1 rupee tip. enraged by this, the waiter called him back just when we were about to leave and dropped the one rupee into pradeep's pocket, like it was HunDi. laughing out loudly at the rotund thug, we ran towards the door with the booty.

After a nice afteroon siesta, we hopped back into the car where the driver lay drunk and sodden. exchanging nervous looks, we sat in the car asking him to drive us to auro beach. hoping to catch a nice evening sunset, we stay put in the car, watching the driver zig zag past the cows and humans with utmost indifference. after about 30 minutes of driving us through narrow lanes, he dropped us at auroville ashram ! the drunk moron had confused auro ashram for auro beach! in the west, and the other in the east, 10km apart...with still time in hand to catch the sunset at the beach, we hurried into the ashram, to get a quick glance, before we ran back to the car.

Zooming along, we reached the entrance of the beach, where a huge board said:
"Aurovillians and guests only"...cursing the place for discriminating so blatantly, we took the other entrance meant for indians. At the beach, a long rope separated the foreigners from the locals, with a board that read "Please protect the privacy of the people at the beach. Do not Stare!", while the guard, supposedly posted there to make sure this was followed, was busy staring himself.

Well we did realise one thing really late.....Damn! we were always going to miss the sunset over the beach...we were in the east! The sun was quietly setting behind the coconut trees.

At the sight of the beach, i had turned half-mad and it didnt take long to go that extra mile to turn crazy, when i decided to try and float on my back. while i was busy trying my tips and tricks to float in this fashion, a huge wave gobbled me up and threw me towards the shore, leaving fans laughing hysterically at the sight. My honeymoon with the sea was now over.

dipping ourselves until it was dark, we returned to our hotel room. We decided to roam the city, before we stuffed ourselves with pizza.

pondy did seem to have changed a lot, with shops of all sizes and shapes everywhere. the excess population seemed to have destroyed the city, but the charm was there. french looked well at home, with "rue" stamped on every street board..."rue" is french for street, i was later told.

With praveen the only tamil link, the rest of us simply nodded in acknowledgement to whatever answers we got vis-a-vis directions.

The next day we got up early to start our journey towards mahabalipuram. I wanted to go to the beach once again, but was assured that mahabalipuram was nothing but miles of beach, and i'd have ample chances to try my tricks.

The ECR or the East Coast Road, is a long stretch of road along the beach and is a brilliant 1.5 hour drive to Mahabalipuram. With cool breeze all over, it was fantastic to be sitting in the car watching the beach on our right, and the long stretch of salt harvesting fields on the left. 1/2 an hour into the drive, we spotted a beach area that was devoid of people, and we decided to stop in, to hop in. we jetted towards the beach, that was, simply put, awesome! with a few fishermen trying their luck on our right, i jumped into the water. pondicherry has got the beaches ! some of the best i've seen. Stopping at places either for a pic, or for a tender coconut drink, the entire drive was highly gratifying, which also put me to sleep as we headed to mahabalipuram by noon.
"Eddolo Mele, banthu ..." ( Get up ! we are here !)

waking me up, the other three ran out with their cameras, while i took time to collect my stuff for swimming in the bay.

I followed them, while they rushed towards what looked like a shack that was selling some kind of tickets. well i was too excited to actually care to see what they were trying to buy, as long as i am let into the beach.

...a few seconds later

"Lo Eno Thandidia ??" (what the hell have you got with you ?), shouted pradeep looking at the swimming trunks in my hand.

still drowsy, i replied back "unlike you, i am planning to swim in the beach!"

pradeep startled and enraged, "unlike you, others go to the temple here! there isnt any beach nearby!"

"WHAT!!!!, arent we at the beach ??"

....While the rest went in with cameras, i went in with swimming trunks in my hand, trying to hide it from prying eyes! After loitering around for sometime we headed towards the shore temple to finally head towards the beach.

I had bought a huge beach hat, which i wore, but somehow the driver couldn't stop laughing at me. The Drunk moron was weird in many ways, another one to add i thought.

The beach as before was great, and clean!....after a few photo-ops, we jumped around in the water till dusk. packing our stuff, we walked down the rows of shops near the beach. I planned to buy a few shells that was being sold.

"Evolo ?"..( how much ?), i tried to, in tamil..

"moopathanji saaar" ( !!!! )

"Lo praveen, eshto adu? " ( praveen, how much did he mention ?)

"35" praveen muttered..

bargaining has never been my forte, but i'd not shell out 35 for shells!

"evolo, kammi solri ?" ( @#$%@#$ ), i tried to get some words out..

seller : "!!!!"

"saar kammi ille...ok 20 kuDungo ..." ( give 20)

i had started off to hand over the money, happy about the deal, but pradeep interjected...

"Lo 15 ge kelo" ( Ask for 15!)

"Lo hogo, i cant try again in tamil..more over i dont know what 15 means in tamil, praveen's already in the car"

"pannajji ge kuDkriya ?"....pradeep tried now...

wonder what pradeep had asked, the seller was visibly angry, snatching the shells away from me unceremonisously from me, while i was busy trying to check out the design.

"pannaji kuDkraanda iva, POYAYO POYA !" shouted the seller, pointing at pradeep and later at me !, with the "POYAYO POYA" markedly louder and echoing all over!

well i didnt get what was happening, but it looked very funny the way pradeep shouted back something in half baked french, while i mumbled "BEDA BIDI, NEEVE ITKOLI" ( I dont want it, you can keep the dumb shells to yourself!).

the fiasco notwithstanding, we searched around for more things to buy, and finally got into the car to drive us back to chennai. Reaching chennai, and after having dinner at "Saravana Bhavan", we finally made it to the bus terminal to board the bus to bangalore.

Long beaches, clean shores, countryside view....all we had asked for, and a weekend well spent.

for now, i am all ready for more of such trips, and any proposal would recieve a thumping "Any time Saar!" from me :D...

Credits :- Picture support from Karthik and Praveen.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Innocence and Bliss

Sometimes, it is good enough to know you have been through something, than actually experiencing it.

With winter peaking, temperature here was falling by the hour when disaster struck. I got up early last monday to find my jacket stuck to the heater pipe, and a gaping hole formed in it in the process. I guess i had carelessly swung it across, the previous evening. Having no jacket to wear, i struggled the rest of the week on my way to the office.

Colleagues later in the week decided to do some shopping at the factory outlets 70 miles off our city. Come saturday afternoon, we were on our way to the outlets. After an hours drive, we reached the place with a slight drizzle accompaining us. After about four hours of running around shops we decided it was time to head back home. I had found myself a Jacket after scavenging quite a few outlets and was only too pleased to put it on immediately.

We were ahead of schedule and hence decided to visit a temple that was on our way back home. The unplanned detour would take away from us 2 hours of time, which at that time we didnt know we required. Nevertheless, excited about the sumptuous food at the temple, we zoomed our way to the temple, with frequent showers keeping the wipers busy.

Curd rice sitting steady after the meal at the temple, a sudden announcement warned : "Warning ! Freezing rain ! Please be on guard! ". I had no idea what a freezing rain meant until the droplets of rain hit me on my face, freezing on impact ! Running into the car, i cuddled into the back seat, with the public address system still shouting hoarse asking people to drive safely. We started towards our city when the clock ticked 7:30pm.

With five of us in the car, it was only too easy for me to doze off while the others entertained each other. My new found jacket was warm enough to support my cause. After listening to the discussion about the sudden change in events, the curd rice had worked it's magic on me. With conversations slowly giving way for a sound sleep, my decreasing consiousness was aggravated by the shopping i had done earlier in the day. In no time, i was sound asleep, unawares.

After what looked like a really long sleep, i woke up. Our car was neatly parked on the highway shoulder, with rain still pouring. With my mind only half awake, i asked my colleague : "Why have we stopped ? there isnt any traffic signal here!". I got a few glances, or that's all i could make out, but not a voice from anyone. Strange as i felt, my slumber got the better of me, and i went back to sleep. We reached our house, when i was woken up with a shudder. Walking into the house, i looked at my watch.

It read 1am. in sometime we were all asleep with noises outside i had never heard before.


PS : Colleagues say we 'escaped death' twice that night, when our car lost control in the icy rain with near zero visibility, and skidded all over the state highway. The sudden storm was one of the worst in recent times.

I wouldn't know.

(.....did i mention i got a good bargain on my Jacket ?...well, yes i just did.)

Friday, January 13, 2006

Veggie Delight

My views on non-vegetarianism is not different from that of vegetarianism. Everyone has a right to choose their food in a buffet ! I needed a red twisted ear to choose mine, unfortunately.

"NO egg, NO meat, NO mushroom. Is there anything ?" my usual reply to the question "what would you like to have sir ?"... though grammatically incorrect, it is the only genuine and most direct way of asking a person what i want. Much of my energy over the next ten minutes is wasted in confirming with the waitress about the contents of a particular delicacy.

"One VEG Pizza, no egg, no meat (duh!), no mushroom.", the waitress would repeat confirming my order, with a slightly puzzled look on her face. May be she was wondering what ingredients to put in when it looked like i had asked her to take out everything except the pizza base. Ha ! she's lucky i stopped there, otherwise someone did mention even the cheese wasn't entirely "vegetarian" if one includes the process that is used to make them!

Of course one can't blame me for this, and i am only too happy not to hold myself responsible either. Many here find my display of vegetarianism offensive, but so do i when Yong Lee asks "NO egg also ?!!!" when i order for "VEG Fried rice, no egg". From where i come, a similar order would have been understood and assimilated in a jiffy while the hotel guy happily rakes in the moolah.

One has to be very clear while mentioning what one wants over here. The other day i had ordered a Veggie delight at subway, and asked the lady to "bake it" for me...( i forgot they say 'toast' )...the lady with a weird look, started filling in small pieces of what looked like dried meat!...puzzled i asked "hey i ordered a veg burger, that does not look like veg to me !"

lady: "me neither! it was kind of weird why you asked me to put bacon in a veggie burger!"
me : "eh ? i wanted it baked! not bacon!"
lady:"oh :D...."

Much of my shopping initially over here was based on thought and gumption ....

"PEPPPA-ROO-NEEE.....hmm, i think it's a kind of pepper they sell here....why does it look like carrot pieces though ? put it in, we'll ask the lady at the counter!"...

It's an odd concept - vegetarianism. i am doubly sure we are all born non-veggies of which some choose to be veggies; at least the stomach's sporty about the idea of a non-veg diet. As in its like owning a car that can do 150 mph while most would be ecstatic to reach 30 mph in bangalore. So while i get entangled into a leaf eating routine for the rest of my life and save the "crores" of goats and sheeps, my alter ego munches over the ones i "saved", in absolute bliss.

In due time i realized though, that it's a choice we make more than anything else that determines what we eat, and has nothing to do with whether we go to hell or heaven, if there was one in the first place!

As a kid, i was brainwashed and hand ironed into thinking that being a vegetarian was the only logical step in my eventful life as a human being. My grandmother was the veggie-cop at home who'd sniff around even the slightest smell off us, often ending up dissapointed on finding that it was my sock that needed washing more than my belly that needed cleansing.

My Granny had taken the veggie thingy way too personally ! It used to be an absolute entertainer to watch my grandmother use the choisest words in kannada, tamil, hindi and sometimes even in urdu to berate the fish seller who'd dare to lurk around on our street.

"Shiva shiva ! en thandyo belge belge ! badmaash ! nin maneg benki haaka !"
( What have you got ! you rabid thief ! hope someone sets your house on fire!"),
would come the volley of curses from my granny, while only 2 seconds ago she'd be chanting "Shiva shiva, paramaathma, olledaaglappa ellargu!" ( Dear Lord, let everyone live happily!)....the fisherboy would be at his wits' end to comprehend the reason for such a sudden outburst of anger.

while we used to enjoy rolling and lauging at the puzzled fish seller , we'd make sure our nose was tightly closed with a thick towel. I'd even tuck my nose into my t-shirt just to leave my hands free, so that i could point at the fish seller and roll in laughter. Unable to stand my granny's taunts he finally came up with a clever idea. He'd leave the fish box at the end of our street, walk to each and every house tapping their gates, shouting "MEEEN MEEEEN !!!"(fish!, fish!). It made his job all the more difficult considering that, earlier, propective customers on our street would come out to buy the fish at the smell of it rather than his shouts!"....and needless to say this change in his strategy gave us bouts of laughter even "non-stop nonsense" could'nt manage. Our neighbour, an american lady on tour, must have wondered why he taps at her gate and calls her 'Mean ! Mean !' when she had no recollection of ever offending him!

Granny used to go to great lengths to protect the 'sanctity' of our place and the surroundings by trying to keep it free from anything non-living as possible. I had secretly vowed to sleep less while she was around, lest she take me for dead and throw me out unceremoniously like the dead rodent brought in by the neighborhood cat. She'd not let anyone into the kitchen if she got an inkling of doubt that he/she was a non-veggie. Considering that my kitchen was a place i frequented most while at home, i could not imagine not being let into it because i laid hands on something non-veg!....the fear did sink in well!

Nonetheless, it did not deter me to use this idea to irritate granny whenever the opportunity came up that had the potential to disprove her theory. One day i was watching this kannada movie called "bedara kannappa" ( kannappa , the hunter). I pretty much was enjoying the movie until a scene in it required the protagonist to present Lord Shiva with something to eat. I was quite sure that as always it would be the usual offering of milk with some fruits and stuff, but fate took a different turn that day.
out of the blue, kannappa shouted in the movie,

Kannappa : " Oh Lord, please accept this dead rabbit as my offering to you and bless my soul!"

Shocked out of my skin, i immediately turned towards my granny for an answer, who looked as puzzled as the fisherboy was when my granny had chosen him to use her huge vocab of curses. She had convinced me that not only were humans born veggies, Lord Shiva was a veggie by birth too ! that's taking things too far, one might argue.

I knew granny was thinking fast, so i decided to play spoil sport..

me : "nodaajji !!!, shiva goo maamsa thinnok aasey, adikke kannappa kottidanna thagond bitta! Iga parvathi shiva na aDuge maneg sersolla !"
(Look granny ! Lord Shiva happily accepted the dead rabbit, now parvati will not let him in her kitchen!")

offended and beyond speech, granny screamed to my mother,
"nodey ee jaggi ododanna bittu TV mundgaDe kuthidaane !"
(Look, your son's watching TV instead of Studying!)

with a badly twisted red ear i spent the rest of the day reading "ajanta caves" with leaves for dinner. Smartness isn't an asset if one does not use it smartly, i thought of myself, yet thanking kannappa just for the heck of it.

My Questioning spirit somehow didn't appeal to the gods either, and i'd innocently get into things i'd rather be away from.

It was a time, when teachers didn't expect me to be able to count more than 10 and clapped for spelling my name correctly. My intense liking for dosas is a fact many can't say they dont know. One day i had been to this neighbour aunty's house while she was busy making dosas. How could have i resisted that ?! i pestered aunty to give me some too.

aunty : "Nodu jaggi, idu special dosey, nim maneli maadodilla...sari na ?" ( This is a special dosa they dont make at your house)
me: "sari, dosey ne taane aadre ?"...( but it's dosa only right ?)
aunty: "howdu, aadre special...parvaagilva ?" ..( yeah, but it's a special dosa, is it ok ?)
me:"sari" ...(ok!)

after two hot dosas, which tasted way different from the usual ones mother made at home, i decided that it was time my mother learnt to make such dosas and went back home.

Me: "amma, ivath aunty maneli dose thinde...aunty special dosey andru" ( I ate special dosa in aunty's house today)
mother:" yaav aunty no ? padma aunty na ?" (Which aunty ?!!! padma aunty ??!!!)
me :"Howdu, dosey chenaagithu!" ( Yeah ! it was great !)
mother:"special antha heldra ?"( Did she mention 'special' ?) concerned

me:"howdu. num maneli maadolvanthe....yaake ?" ( Yeah !, and also that we don't make it at our house.....why, may i ask ?) almost agitated.
mother: !!!!

mother :" hegitho adu ??" ( How was it ?)
me:"upppupp ithamma, mathe yellow ithu" ( it was salty salty, and yellow)
mother:" madhyadalli billee itha ?" ( was it white at the center ? )
me:"howdu!! ninge madodikke barutha ?"( Yeah ! do u know how to make it ?)....full wide smile !
mother: "ayyo ayyo paapi omelette thindu bandyeno ?!!" ( You evil sinner ! you ate omelette at aunty's place ????")
me: "eh ??? oh!" shocked
mother:" ammma, nodu nin mommaga omelette thindbandidaane!!!" ( Mother !! look your grandson's eaten omlette and come home !)..... Fuming like a kettle...

now, now..this was not required! granny had had her quota of curses in the morning!

granny: "ene adu ?" ( What is it ? )
mother:"jaggi motte thindu bandidaane !" ( Jaggi has eaten EGG !! )
granny: !!!! "ayyo ayyo paapistha motte thindyeno !!! shiva shiva" ( oh you evil sinner !! did you eat EGG ???)

ME : kannappa, kaapadappa !!

me: "dosey ajji thindiddu naanu, motte alla !" ( No granny, it was dosey ! not egg !)

what followed was a sequence of slaps on my cheeks alternating with pinches on my ears, with tears rolling like there was a hole in my eyes. mother had already gone out to kick aunty, while granny took time off to give me some good old spanking.

well, rest as they say is history, but it was a evil day for me...probably that time of my life when i permanently switched the "to non-veg mode" off out of fear.

eons later, one day

while NEC's ad "anDe khao monday Khao, murgi ke anDe" was titillatingly well made, one news bit announced that day "now we get vegetarian eggs!"

i couldnt believe my eyes !!!! so finally the egg decided to be a vegetarian after all, i convinced myself, while turning towards my mother who also was keenly listening to it.

"ammma, motte non-veg alvanthe!" ( Look egg is not non-veg !). ... Almost sounding like my point was just vindicated.

Mother was quiet :D.....granny was busy driving the mosquitoes out.... and my taboo stayed on...
It's Veggie Delight ever since for me( with the exception of cakes :D), though it could have easily been V-egg-ie Delight had it not been for that fateful day!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

We were there !

Saturday morning wasn't exactly the right time to wake up considering i had just shifted to a new house the previous night after some frenzied packing and unpacking. so i didn't. I woke up at 1pm , shivering and cursing the room heater that had decided to take a break. got down to see roomies in a state of slumber. kicking each other and later taking turns to get ready, we finally got to the train station at 4:30pm to catch the train to nyc on new year's eve.

The 1.5 hour journey to the city was enough for me to take a short nap while occasionally opening my left eye just to make sure my umbrella wasn't stolen - gotten used to checking stuff like this thanks to travelling by buses in bangalore. While my umbrella stay put, i did notice that one of my potato rolls was missing, only to realize i had munched on it before curling up like a caterpillar. The travel was pretty uneventful except for the frequent entry of hordes of college kids at every stop.

The train finally made it's way into the city, and came to a halt at the station. Everyone seemed to be in hurry with people running out of the train. Getting down the train, we moved along to the exit to reach the 32nd street.

Though i have been to the city a couple of times, it's a nice feeling to come back again and again. I guess its because it is more closer to cities in india in terms of the busy life people lead here. 42nd street would be times square we concluded, and started walking towards it. As we walked it became more and more apparent that the event as always would be a big drawer this time around too. police platoons, all in their blacks, and armoured vehicles were scattered everywhere, directing people to specific streets to decongest the traffic. By the time we were on 38th street, we knew we were late by a few hours, when policemen started announcing "This Street's filled, take the next one !". running in every possible direction, we finally reached the Broadway Avenue. 42nd street was ten streets away now, and a sea of crowd in front puzzled us no less. The clock still showing 7pm, we had a long way to go before we could actually reach the point where "The Ball" drops. Cold as it was, in no time we were stuck in the crowd, without an inch to move, literally. I have to say, i have never seen such a crowd in my entire life. It seemed like every street was filled to the hilt. 750000 surely definitely could. i vaguely remember ulsoor festival in bangalore bringing in such huge crowds.

Security was tight, with police asking us to unzip our jackets, and in a few more places stopping people from getting backpacks. While a part of every road was cordoned off for free movement of the security personnel, the mounted police did take some time off to show off their well kempt horses to the crowd. The mounted police always draws a crowd, but this was no time for a photo-op. Huge Screens were put up on every street intersecting the broadway avenue. while a lot of stuff was happening on the stage put up on times square, which we saw on the screens, i hardly knew anyone who performed except mariah carey. Well at -2 Celcius, one has to commend her for wearing what she wore ! A big sign atop the stage screamed "MC" in stylized writing.

It was still 9pm, with no sign of the crowd moving any closer to 42nd street, while we were still stuck at 51st street. It did look calm and serene until then, what with people chatting away to glory all around us. Then came the big push from behind. whether it was a simmering energy that built up in due time or it was a deleberate push, i was thrown like a ping pong ball towards the huge man in front, falling flat on his back like a mosquito zapped by a net. with the fat man having nowhere to go he decided to push me back instead. Grrrrr. The rampaging crowd was merciless, and i had to virtually wriggle through my way sidewards to get a breather. the fat man stay put, giving a weak smile mumbling a "sorry". Without an inch to move, my friend, stuck in the crowd, later confessed to swallowing the gum he was chewing after failing to reach the side of the road to dispose it.

The crowd was now restless and crazy. while a lot of people started losing stuff, a few were losing their mind too. a few college girls jumped on to people to perch themselves on hapless shoulders; it sure gave them a clear view of the crowd. Shouting out incoherently, most were trying to call out their dear ones who were either stuck streets away, or had no idea where they were. Buildings along the street had turned into platforms for novice artists to show their talent, with a few standing behind glass windows trying to act weird and draw attention.

With every hour that went by, the temperature went down. Finally one college kid spotted "The Ball" , but only it's tiny reflection on the facade of a building. In her enthusiasm, she started pointing at it while drawing curious onlookers. funny as it seemed people were more happy watching the small reflection, than the huge screen that showed the same thing ! hell, we might as well have watched the whole thing on TV, in the cozy comforts of our home!

Back home in india, on new year's eve 2005 and before, whenever i saw celebrations at times square and the streets filled with people, i used to think that everyone there were having a great timeout there. I was here this time, and was slightly dissapointed. chilly as it was, was'nt the best time to be out, apart from being hungry, shivering, and having less than an inch of space to move on a street that wasn't even times square!

New year's eve celebrations in bangalore concentrates on Brigade road which is lit all along, and the crowd parties all night. However, the crowd goes berserk after 12 and we have had to run for cover to escape the hooligans who will not stop at breaking anything they find on their way. Our group of friends used to get together for a good dinner before zooming past home as soon as the clock struck 12.

After a long wait, the clocked ticked 12 and the ball dropped, flares jetting out of it in all directions with fireworks filling the sky. It seemed like the crowd was just waiting for it to get over, and dispersed almost immediately. wishing each other we started running towards the station again. caught the 2am train to reach by 4am.

Much as i would like to brush this off as a dissapointment, i can't but help acknowledge the efficient way in which NYPD handled the whole event. The amount of planning, the sheer strength and the kind of emergency systems that were in place...hmmm that was a first for me, otherwise i have been used to seeing policemen in bangalore wading long thick sticks scaring themselves more than the average individual during such events.

The other thing that was great was the crowd. Though i missed the actual event itself, the crowd was entertaining, and well behaved, which i hadnt expected at all.

That was new year's eve for me, not at times square, but near times square..... but, we were there !

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Busing Around

The need to travel has always captured the imagination of the human race. While we race towards faster mobility, the omnipresent bus connects the city like no other.


circa 1980s

"eddolo, nim ajji maneg hogbeku ivathu !" ( "Get up, we need to go to your grandmother's house today !")

"esht bus hathbeku ?" ( "how many buses do we need to board ?")

"eradu, 7D sikre, ondey" ("Two buses, but if we manage to board the '7D' bus, then it'll be just

The often repeated sentence at that time, was a cue for me to feign illness and stay back, for it meant a long journey including boarding a series of buses on time, to finally reach my grandmother's house. The 7D bus coming "on time" would turn out to be my prayer and wish for that day, at a time when my vocabulary left a lot to be desired.

Buses in bangalore have one thing in common - they all come late. Hawkers usually used this to their advantage to test commuters patience and their tastebuds. The enchanting smell of groundnuts while ensnaring our senses also helped the hawker make a quick buck. unable to bear my pestering for money my mother would curse the groundnut guy for being so opportunistic while handing me over the 50 paise.

Often buses are victims of their own fame. Much as everyone would like to use the service, it's poor maintenance makes it look like carcass on wheels. Either the seats have been cut mercilessly on the belly to expose its insides or the headlights have long stopped working and are merely reflecting the light from the oncoming traffic. Smoke from the bus is enough to dispel any doubts about us screwing the eco-system, while a dingy looking board in the bus meekly spells out "No Smoking" with a badly drawn skull next to it showing the result if one did. Sitting in the bus is no more advantageous than standing in one, and only makes the person standing more jealous instead of the one sitting any happier.

The need for travelling by bus as a student didnt arise in my case until i started my engineering course, since our Pre-university college was just a stone's throw away, while the school i went to was just a kick away.

My introduction to buses was a rude shock. Travelling alone has not been the strongest of my qualities.

"201 is your bus number, and you'll need to get down at banashankari 3rd stage", my father repeated for the nth time, like he was giving a minute by minute weather update that was subject to change.

Scared out my boots, i mentally summed up the number to see if it was lucky for me...rats !! 3 can't be lucky i thought, given that the '201' bus was an all-rounder, literally.

Being one of those buses which travelled the length and breadth of the city, 201 was more like a jampacked boat of survivors gasping for breath by the time it reached my stop.

The next day, after being already behind schedule, the bus slowly stopped, with passengers dangling precariously to it . I had almost made up my mind to ditch this bus and look for a free-lift, when passengers started boarding off the bus like there was some kind of a bomb scare. I couldn't thank my stars more when the bus was nearly empty in no time, only to realize that it was a ritual commuters followed to let the CO-poisoned passengers stuck inside to get down at their stop. 2 seconds later, there was a mad rush into the bus again ! while i didn't understand what was happening, i was quickly pulled into the bus by an old man who probably thought i was his grandson.

Stuck inside the bus, i lost all hopes of reaching college in one piece.

Jampacked as it is, conductors usually didn't dare to walk the length of the bus due to the danger of suffocating the already dying passengers and also the possibility of being siphoned off by pickpockets. Well the whole bus was so delirious, i'll not be surprised if the pickpocket stole from his own pocket without ever realizing it !

As for me, i could move around in the bus, stuck between people, without the need to touch the floor; such was the gravity defying crowd.

Added to this, the concept of "Women only" seats in buses. While men would haggle and fight the crap out to get a seat in the bus, women would scream their throats out, if anyone as much as dared to even come close to "their" seats....

Travelling by bus did help improve my reflexes though what with the bus driver braking like he was hammering a nail into the floor. The sudden braking would take many off-gaurd and commuters would fall over each other with inertia playing a crucial part in the melee. Newton 'stood' vindicated starkly during these times.

Conductors, as they are called, would do crazy things to fleece money from would be more like 2.25, 3.75 rupees which meant we would end up giving 5 rupees expecting a change in return. Instead we would get a ticket with weird markings on it's back denoting the change due, to be collected on reaching his/her stop. Since getting down the bus was as big an event as getting onto one, passengers were forced to forget their change in exchange for their lives many a times.

Dealing with so many people is a task conductors prepare for everyday, by either being completely drunk and marginally coherent, babbling curses or just being plain indifferent to the happenings.

Not all Conductors were bad though, a few had even turned humorous with age. Quite a few of the buses i used to travel used to pass the NIMHANS hospital, famous for housing mentally ill patients. So whenever the bus stopped near the hospital, the conductor would shout out :

"yaar ree illi hutchru, nim stop banthu" ("all those who are mad here, we have reached your stop")

The goverment later introduced buses called "pushpak" which was moderately well built, and a tad bit more pricier than the regular buses, but was crowded no less, and helped people die in peace slowly and luxuriously than the regular buses that worked like cyanide.

Hanging out of a moving bus was a simple pleasure everyone indulged in, sticking their head out trying to get a breather, and on many occasions being their last one too...

If getting a seat in the bus is one tough task, holding on to it is another. prying eyes latch on to you like that of an eagle on it's prey. An inch of visible space near the already occupied seat would immediately be filled up with either a empty tiffin box, or a school bag and a cunning smile from the fellow standing commuter. Its an unwritten rule that expects people sitting in the bus to offer to carry the tons of luggage, including broomsticks, carried by those standing in the bus. I conveniently used this rule to dump all those loads of Engineering drawing paraphernalia onto midgets sitting in the bus, while i enjoyed the scenic beauty outside. Sitting in the bus comes with another disadvantage, that of dozing off to sleep. Nothing can beat the sleep inducing capability of a bus. I for one have dozed off quite a few times only to be woken up as result of my head banging into the seat in front, courtesy the bus driver.

Buses have long been oppressed and punished for no apparent mistake of theirs. While the city fights on whether miss world pageant should be conducted or not, one fool gets this clever idea of pelting the buses and lo behold ! some dozen buses are burnt that day !. While miss world happily enjoys a sumptous evening snack in her beach outfit, buses get stripped off their armor by hooligans !. Buses generally have this tendancy to get into trouble. Awfully late when needed, they are the first to be present in the midst of a simmering riot, more like "AA Bhail mujhe maar" ( "Bull, please hit me") as the saying goes.

All said, buses still provide that necessary link to the city and it's people. It's been a while since i used the bus to travel, but i know that it'll be around when i need one, a few hours late, but it'll be there... busing around..

Friday, December 02, 2005

God Promise !

If there is any time when strong emotions run between god and its student disciples, it should be during exams, and more so on the eve of the results.

Clearly, i have rather been a chicken when it came to exams, and distress calls travelling upwards were shamelessly sent by me at unearthly hours, either to rescue me from a sparse matrix or the 8086 microprocessor. inane as my effort to please god on the 11th hour, i had partly considered then that he was personally responsible for my welfare, and hence preparing for the exams all alone was not what i was prepared to do. God, i insisted, should equally work hard in areas of luck and memory management- exams where he had to come clean every semester.

Exams usually brought out the worst kind of paranoia in me. Starting off with taking a month long hiatus from getting a haircut, before and after the exams, to which side of the bed i got up on the day of the exams, to the grumpy face i would need to wear lest i displease the god of luck. Love for god usually peaked during exams to extraordinary levels, with early morning visits and circling around the temple while my mind shuttled between recalling "system call to create a file in linux" to the number of times i had circled the temple. An inkling of doubt on whether i had completed circling the idols a magic 9 times, would push me towards making another - not the one to displease the gods, and face their wrath.

My mother didn't help the cause either, often advising me to take the entrance to my house that faced east while going for my exams, instead of the main entrance that i usually took. While this was rather a burden, if starting in the east direction gave me luck in the 'analysis of algorithms", i'd rather take it than try acting smart, i reasoned.

God, i observed, seemed to be particularly liberal in fishing out luck for me when i prepared well for the exams. Then again, what's the point in him trying to be goody goody when i had done all the hard work !

Our appetite for cheap methods of obtaining easy-to-read materials was a boon come true for the photocopier-boy. In his late 50s, he spoke in one direction and looked in another direction. That was still better than the peculiar way he used to say "Zeeraax" to denote a photocopy. The 30 paise per copy that he had mastered not only gave us notes for cheap, it came with a stink which even the mongrels standing nearby used to detest. Not the one to take this cheap trick of mine easily, my mother had forced me into hanging all the papers in the balcony, like wet clothes, to drive away the obnoxious phenomenon.

Voracious readers that we were, books were photocopied including the copyright page :) (okay okay, the previous post notwithstanding. Irony has a weird sense of humour). One subject which we had to study went by the name "Computer Ethics and Society" which spoke of copyright infringement, ethics, patents etc., and had three text books for the subject and ironically was probably the most photocopied book ever in our college history. While we read ethics and copyrights to our hearts content, it was insignificant that it was coming from the stinking 30 paise photocopy :D

Exams were tough, and even tougher were the irritating practicals labs. The programs used to be a big dud, but the external examiners were a pain sometimes. Half the ICs and chips in the lab had breathed their last breath, and the other half waiting for salvation. computers looked like they had been beaten to death, with keyboards rampaged by rats. External examiners generally came to labs to have a nice lunch and enjoy the lush greenary in the campus. programs were but a reason, working or not working, examiners went on gut feeling chosing a number between 75-95 if the program worked, and a crossed look if it didn't, with wierd markings on the paper suggesting evil intentions.

While we used to take turns to secretly try and overlook how much they had marked us for the program, it would be the wildest fire on campus that day "who got how much ?" fool had come running down to me after the Myu-P lab shouting "Hey that external examiner took down your name and was discussing about you. you are done for good"...well, at that time i didnt know if she was impressed by my program and was trying to find which star i was born in, or she was so pissed off with my answers that she wanted to do some voodoo stuff on me. Not the one to take it without a fight, i made an emergency visit that day to the temple promising god an 'archaney' and a coconut offering, if i scraped through the lab. That i didn't earn money enough even to buy a matchstick was totally unimportant at that hour.

Even funnier is the extent to which lab attendants used to go to rag us, and we inturn them...

one particular lab attendant, a dud by choice, used to berate us :

"Do not keep your book on the processor ! it will get heated !"

one clever guy had convinced him one day by saying :

"no sir, the processor is inside, this is just the cabinet. See it says here 'Intel Inside' !" :D :D..

needless to say, the attender gave us permission to keep our 1gm books on the 'Processor' without much ranting after that !

Invariably every semester had one 'black sheep' subject that would run down our throat like a cacti scared stiff. Most of us used to leave the sleeping beast for the last day, fearing it would take its toll on the other exams. I had resorted to what i did best: doubling up my presence at the temple, just so that god gets a second helping of the carefully picked flowers, and force him to remember my face well enough so that he could recall it while distributing lucky coupons during the exams.

It was the 7th semester .... and there was this particularly tough subject on linux internals. An elective we should have rather not taken, our lecturer had famously tried hard to talk us out of it before we decided to nail each others head with a doornail.

On the day before the exams, plugging my ears with the fattest finger i had, to cut down all extraneous noices, i tried hard to concentrate on the bad omen better and went on :

"the bootstrap program loads into the memory, and that in turn loads the OS."
"the bootstrap program loads into the memory, and that in turn loads the OS."
"the bootstrap program loads into the memory, and that in turn loads the OS."

Hopelessly falling short of memorizing stuff even worth a mark, i tried to do a bit of a Mckenna and decided to picturize the whole page, hoping to remember it like a painting !...that i rushed a couple of telegrams skywards 2 minutes later conclusively proved that not only was Mckenna's 'Photographic memory" a stinking lie, it was a deliberate attempt to influence young impressionable minds.

The day of the exam was one of mayhem and confusion, with half contemplating suicide after the exams, and half not even turning up on time, making us to think if there was a holiday rush to the heavens.

The poop-brain examiner stood on the ramp, emotionless, trying to beleive that he had suddenly acquired a halo, acting like an angel guardian, swooping down on anyone who would dare as much as wink an eye at anyone except him. The need for copying was never so greater with some using their toes( as kiran puts it ) to turn the pages of the book kept on the ground, to a few looking at others desperately for help. I had gone to the exam hall with a certificate-of-visit from 3 temples in the morning, the proof of which lay on my forehead with the 'kunkum' blaring. If god ever passed by, he'd have no reason to say that he didn't notice me.

I had already started emotionally blackmailing god about the consequences of him failing to sail me through this exam. While the coconut, i believed , was a huge temptation for god to grant my prayer, i did have doubts whether i had been stingy in my offering. After 3 hours of writing how linux's ability to screw-up was as good as it's ability to boot-up, i dropped the pen down.

"15+8+12+5+10"... that would be my score for the exam, i mentally calculated...for 50 marks i'd write another operating system, god only had to make the examiner a bit drunk while evaluating my paper. Optimistic as my calculation was , the code i had written for the bootstrap program might as well be used as a virus to infiltrate it.

God would have to choose between me and linux. He had no choice as far as i was concerned.
Spending the holidays until the results were out was a nightmare...any building that even remotely looked like a temple would get a full bow from me, and "Jai hanuman" by Sanjay khan and "ganga mayya" by dayanand sagar suddenly had a avid follower in me.

After months of worship, the d-day arrived, and LI was the only subject anyone cared to check out. One last prayer shooting upwards, clicking the results sheet, the page loaded slowly, as though someone was sitting behind the monitor, virtually painting line by line...

.and then the result showed up !

... FCD !!!! yippppeee !!!!.... Long live the creator, LI had been successfully conquered.....54 it said was my score in linux internals.... i was by now sure that god had given a few extra shots of tequila to my evaluator, while having a vodka-martini himself, before asking the evaluator to evaluate my paper. Linux was now "been there done that !"

While many a Exams came and went, LI brought in more TV ratings to that one-eyed bat ramanand sagar's weekly pain-in-the---- serial than any of his other promotions did.

My fear for exams is still intact, but hopefully god will always be there to save the day :).

I kept my promise with the customary coconut offering, though it was God's Promise in return that had been more alluring !

Monday, November 28, 2005

I never thought i'd write this post one day !

Have been getting quite a few comments on whether IT is not Like That was written by me, or whether i lifted it from some other source. Well this post should put to rest any such questions, present or future.

well first things first : The post IT is not Like That is MY ORIGINAL WORK. It is not "...yavaag foreign ge ?" that is the title of that post, instead it is "IT is not like that" and it shall remain that way !. It is my experience that is in the post and mine alone, unless i have specifically mentioned otherwise.

The post in question has been doing the rounds for quite sometime now, and quite a few have posted it in their blog as their own work. While some have mentioned that they got it as a forward, a few more though have taken the trouble to find out who the original author is and have got back to me. Bloggers such as Pradeep Kishore, Arjun , Bangloreguy and Jaison are among the few who took the trouble of giving due credits for my post, on their blog.

What pushed me into writing this post on plagiarism was a comment thanks to Ambar, directing me to this site which has my post translated in tamil(without my knowledge of course) . The link took me to the copy-cat-blogger who has tried her best to make the post look like it's her original composition. That she has failed pathetically at it is something one does not need a microscope to prove.

For those who do not want to believe that i wrote the post in question, i cannot do much. However, for those who are prepared to see reason, i'd like to show a few obvious flaws in her translated post. Oh by the way, she claims that she wrote this post an year ago and later deleted it to add it back again two weeks after i posted mine !. While she also claims a lot of things in the post as her own experience with people, the above claim is as much a bunch of crap as the ones in her post.

Check this out....

In my post, i write :

"Recently one of my cousins went onsite, and i being the scape goat "

She changes it to :

"Recently one of my friends went onsite, and I being the scape goat "

Oh , yeah i got it, that's because her cousin apparantly didn't go onsite, while mine did and going by what she has claimed my cousin is definitely a friend of hers!

In my post, i write :

"I was being murdered inch by inch, neat and clean. My reputation in tatters."

In her post, she changes it to :

"Despite the fact that I only finished B.E last year & started to work, I was being murdered inch by inch, neat and clean. My reputation in tatters."

Oh got it, she wants to add some flavor of her own in the post while still conveniently copying what i have written.

In my post, i write :

"I have been most unfortunate in this case, so much so that if i had got a call to abort the travel 2 seconds later than what i got, i might have had to jump off the plane mid-air."

In her post, she censors it to :

"If I had got a call to abort the travel 2 seconds later than what I got, I might have had to jump off the plane mid-air."

Guess, she didn't like the initial sentence i wrote. how thoughtful. bliss bliss...

This one nails it ....

In my post, i write :

"well one aunty even had the nerve to ask me "did you have a fight with your manager ?"..well i was kind enough to say "no aunty, project got scrapped "

She changes it to :

"Well, one aunty even had the nerve to ask her son "did you have a fight with your manager?". well he was kind enough to say "no aunty, project got scrapped "

I wonder who that person is who calls his own mother "aunty" !


this one is a snippet of her post :

"My friend made the blatant suicidal mistake of attending a social gathering full of aunties and uncles, and asked company he worked for, and he answered him hoping he would stop there. however , uncle had no such intention and carried on " endha language ?"...though stunned, i replied back "c sharp uncle"

first she claims her friend made a suicidal mistake, and then she makes a suisidal mistake of eating up one word and just writes "and asked company he worked for". Oh and when uncle asks her friend a question, she answers for her friend instead "i replied back "c sharp uncle"". guess she forgot to change the "i" to "he" here !

while i go on to write a few more paragraphs later, i guess she was too lazy to copy those, or probably she ran out of friends whom she could claim had had those experience and instead she cuts short the post by not inluding a few paragraphs. phew ! there, what an angel !, she spared me a slice of her non-existant pie !


That is enough proof i suppose that SHE has not written the post, though i am pretty sure that the blatant mistakes in her post are definitely her own doing. I'd be a fool to say she copied my post, a more better word, to convey what she did to my post, would be a word i cannot print here !
I'll not ask her to delete the post, instead i'll direct those people, who doubt that i didn't write the post on my blog, to her post and let them decide what to believe.

I am sure if she reads this post of mine, she'll be in a position to rectify the humungous mistakes in her post, but is that all ? so that means she'll copy a few more of my posts and claim it as either her's or her friends. In effect she'll have my persona in no time. This probably amounts to identity theft in a weird sort of way. Guess the next time i have an headache, she'll be the one who'll be writing in her blog "Yesterday my friend had a severe headache, and I took aspirin !"

I understand that this has not been very pleasant read, as it has not been for me to write. Though i did restrain myself these many days while quite a few people used my post and claimed it as theirs, this was the last straw....

Like David Spade shouts out on comedy central : "There i said it !"

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Feeling Gid(d)ish


This letter is to inform you that your application for residential electric service has been denied.
Please complete the enclosed affidavit, and get it signed by a notary, and provide proof for name and age.... blah blah blah

Thank you

Got this mail from the power department yesterday.

apparently my ssn number didn't match the name i had given, and going by GIDISH standards i am probably an imposter in their records by now!

oh damn this problem ..... even after spelling each letter and giving out names of dogs and cats for each of them, nothing seems to have helped. Now they have resorted to deleting the letters they have a confusion about !

May be i should ask someone here who speaks in american accent to record my name for me, letter by letter, so that i can play that back and forth, whenever i need, over the phone !

Yesterday i had to call up the alitalia office in New York to confirm my tickets to India.

"apriete uno para italiano...glub glub glub"....followed by the english one... "please press thoo for eenglish"...after trying to follow the instructions i went blank for a few seconds, when a lady on the other side spoke in thick italian accent :
"ali-thalia airlines, whath can i do for you ?"

thalia thalia ... !!! i got the connection !

Me : "I need to confirm my ticket to bangalore, india, flying from newark"
lady : "Sorrie sir...can you repeath ith ?"
Me: " confirm tickets from newark to bangalore,india"

...another boring saga of thrying to explain !....2 mintues layther, ith became verry annoying !

Lady: "verrie sorrie sir, i could nath geth you..."
Me:" me neither !"
Lady : "sorry ?"
Me : PHUTAAK and cut the call...what else could i do, an indian speaking in indian accent to an ithalian speaking in ithalian accent, and both trying to decipher english spoken in pseudo american accent !! somewhere queen of england is having a roll laughing at us !

These automated phones which ask for verbal confirmation too call for a kick. Hopeless as the idea is, its by no means less irritating than the normal customer service agent.

automated voice : "Please say 'My Service' for service related enquiries...."
Me : "My service"
automated voice : "I am sorry, i could not get you!"

Damn it .....even the automated voice !!

automated voice : "Please say 'My service' for ......" and another hour of lecture on the services offered....

Me : "My Service"

automated voice : silent for a second ( probably it thought what i had just said was optic fibre disturbance, or was just biding time so that i'd just give up !

automated voice : "Please press 1 if you want "My Service", 2 for ...."

Me : Stunned !

bloody automated ragger...why couldn't it give this option earlier !

after another 5 minutes of going through all the leftover options the automated teller decided that a manual intervention was required, and hence transfered me to an agent. That it went to the voice mail is a different story alltogether, and i left my voice message which i was sure no one would return.

I wonder what's with my name, huh ? parents did have the option of naming 'shiva', if they were so touchy, but why jagadish ?, and make it look like yagabish....who knows shiva could have become shy-vah ...better yagabish than shy-vah !

yesterday my client mails me saying :

Hi Jagadish

Please check the blah blah blah...blah blah...

Thanks vinay,


My name got completely transformed into another name !
Apparently my client confuses my name to another person who used work here 6 eons ago and went by the name vinay !

May be instead of beating the system i should just surrender to it...change my name to yagabish. May be then everyone will start calling me "yaggi" !.

I can't just think of a good idea, damn !...

oh boy need to go and get that electric connection soon, otherwise gidish will get into trouble !

Feeling very Gid(d)ish right now :(....Grrrr..

Monday, November 14, 2005

Through the Lens.... my new Blog on photography. Hit on the idea to avoid posting pics in this blog.

They now sit at Through the Lens

Feel free to post comments on the pics :)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Say Cheese !

Thanksgiving's nearing, and the excitement is running high, and so are my expectations. Haven't bought as much as a door nail since my stay here, all energy and resource concentrated on the four day deal many promised i would get.

Moved to a new apartment yesterday, and hopefully it'll bring in some moderate savings which i could use to fufill my cherished dream of owning a camera. When karthik bought his first camera, a Sony DSC-F828, i was astounded by what it could do. A near SLR, it had mind boggling features. While it got me interested in photography, it was way too annoying for my friends to see me fiddling with it, when our gang met :D. quite a few of my friends later bought cameras which i would pester and snatch from them...pothnis's nikon was a good bet, and it gave me the option of coaxing him or would agree sooner or later and part with it :). while many started pestering me to buy one for myself, i was happy using theirs and instead ask them to check out good deals for me :D

I have a camera which i consider a family heirloom; that's how old it is. Well the camera must be as shocked that it can take photos, as i was when i first saw it.

for months i have been eyeing the Canon S2-IS, but rats !, the cost hardly comes down. one popular camera that one ! The other day vivek mailed me all excited saying :

"Oi...check out this deal on laptops on this website"

Me : " Oh no man, i'll need to buy a camera, waiting for a deal"

Guess i pulled the wrong nerve this time around, and got a reply back saying :

"You'll keep waiting for a good deal, and sure enough if you ever buy a camera, pigs will fly"

hehehe, while my mind chose to spend its time imagining pigs flying, vivek was all fuming in the texas heat :D..

well i don't get this habit of mine of saving money for a camera, but then failing to use it to buy one. the inner loud voice saying in my mother-tongue : "dubba camera aadre ?" (what if the camera is a total dud ?) and another thought rising : "what if the prizes drop dead just after i buy the camera for a fortune ?"

it's always the case, and i end up buying stuff, the prizes of which would fall rock bottom 2 minutes later. It however did not stop me from pestering people into buying a camera though :).

That's after reading about it and having used its predecessor, the S1-IS ( another friendly gesture from suneel who owns one :D ), i can hardly wait to get my hands on it.

Have been getting stories that we'd need to stand at 3:00 am in the night on thanksgiving day; that's how long the queue would get if we went in late. I just hope its an absurd lie ! cold as it gets, its not the best of time to say 'cheese'.

Keeping my fingers crossed, and hopefully i'll finally have a camera i can call my own !


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Random Two

Golden Mean

Random One