Friday, December 30, 2005

Looking back - 1

One of my resolutions for 2005 was to learn a new language. German is not exactly the sweetest tongue around. And lets face it, the people associated with the language haven't been the best accumulators of good press! But still, having mastered a full sentence in German - "umsteigen Züge linien sieben und dreißig..." that I picked from the tram announcer in Vienna- it was my natural choice.

My first impression from the class was the realisation that I had finally reached a stage in life when my teachers are going to be younger than me. And it took a couple of weeks to not get startled by the harshness of the language. Gesundheit sounded like I was being reprimanded for sneezing. And try saying 'Feuerschutztür' without sounding rude and without getting some spittle out. But later, it turned out to be a fantastic four months, although in the end we went only as far as to be able to order a salami sandwich with cheese in it (and even that little knowledge is getting displaced by the flemish that I'm trying to learn here). Learning the language turned out to be a great pretext to satisfy my need to have a few non-engineer friends; this bunch at the class was a great mix, a doctor, a jeweller, students, an artist, a pub-keeper-turned-salesman etc. Despite the forbiddingly complicated grammar, learning the language itself had its kick too. I picked up a fetish to form big words: Lieblingstischtennisspielerinnen (favourite female table tennis player) is one word! And Deutsch has some wonderfully expressive words; Weltschmerz, Zeitgeist, Wanderlust and my favourite of all, Schadenfreude (who else but the Germans could come up with both the word and the idea!;-) ). My best memories were all from outside class though; classic rock in Vishal's den, Kunal's psychological warfare while playing Pictionary over beer and then the rain-trek at coorg and later Pictonary over kichdi at Ankura's, the Bangalorean vs Ausländer duels, watching Satya lose her mind and laugh hysterically after a glass of wine and the farewell Sangrias.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas in Amsterdam

Dames en Heren,welkom in Amsterdam. It don't matter whether you are a nerdy artsy-fartsy soul looking to unravel the works of the impressionist masters or just a loose cannon intent on debauchery or anyone in between. There's something here for everyone. Some pictures.

Sunday, December 25, 2005


You get the best advice from psychos, most often for the price of a rasagulla.

This week, psychos of another kind contributed too on a theme that had bothered me; the following are from the 'Pool Guy' episode from Seinfeld

"This world here, this is George's sanctuary. If Susan comes into contact with this world, his worlds collide!"
- Kramer

"You have no idea of the magnitude of this thing. If she is allowed to infiltrate this world then George Costanza as you know him ceases to exist. You see, right now I have Relationship George. But there is also Independent George. That's the George you know, the George you grew up with... Movie George, Coffee Shop George, Liar George, Bawdy George."
"I love that George."
"Me too, and he's dying. If Relationship George walks through this door, he will kill Independent George. A George divided against itself cannot stand!"
- George and Jerry

Monday, December 19, 2005

Post aphees post

(Soliloquy in paranthesis)
"Oh we had a tough time in Mumbai"
"We went to the central post office to send a postcard to the family and that place didn't have postcards! Strange, no?"
"naah not to me. That's the first thing we are taught at school. [In kindergarten-school-teacher-falsetto] Children, don't expect postcards in the post office"
"(you could laugh for courtesy)"
"And they don't even sell envelopes!"
"And we finally found some envelopes at a Tabak shop. If a 4ftx4ft shop can stock envelopes then surely the post office can too!"
"haha hmm"
"Atleast they sell stamps in the post office, but guess what?"
"(judging by the gravity on your face your modesty got outraged by a burly postal worker!) hmmm?"
"You can't just lick the back of the stamps to paste them. You have to use glue"
"hmmm (yawn)"
"And then I had to spread the glue with my finger and I made a mess of the envelope and my hands! It was crazy"
"I mean there are two hundred people working there and not one of them bothered to help us"
"Hey who do you think is greater, Eddie Merckx or Lance Armstrong?"
"Oh don't believe the Americans; they'll tell you anything!!!"

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Stad fest

So what if I later shivered like a plucked chicken in antarctica? So what if I was the only dud over 12 who kept falling with splayed legs? So what if my butt and my forearms still hurt ? So what if I wasn''t exactly a male Tara Lipinski?
Ice skating is awesome fun and I'm completely hooked.

All the christmas festivities in Antwerp have been super fun. Except when they start to play 'Last Christmas' by Wham! On top of being a bad song it's a determined uhrwurm sticking like a piece of stray cellophane. I found myself humming it till I got all itchy with irritation. People!!!! That song has nothing to do with Jesus, Bethlehem, the magi or anything remotely connected to them. It has nothing do with christmas except for the small incidental detail that a gay man gave his heart to someone on december 25th and he/she duly returned it the very next day! Stop playing it!!!!!


I don't exactly have an embarassment of riches when it comes to the programmes that I get on my TV. It's another case of this is all you get, learn to like it, sorta like Pathak's pickles!
Some observations from Saturday evening:

Channel 2:
Watching ER, and I'm thoroughly irritated by the most wordy, proficient and vain bunch of medical professionals ever. While the camera swivels around the patient, the doctors and the nurses do their prognosis in the one-person-one-sentence style. '3rd degree burns on the lycopersicum esculentum' starts the guy facing the camera. The protocol demands that the one standing next to the last speaker say something now. With all the due consideration for the cameraman, they make sure they never speak out of turn. So without a moment's pause, the woman next to the first speaker says 'Patient has history of ephemerolsis. Check before administering pisum sativum'. next! 'Patient visibly impressed by our medical vocabularies.Keep this going'.

Did you know that 'Big Foot Historian' and 'Crop circle artist' are ACTUAL professions?

This channel specialises in reality shows and cheesy countdowns, like 101 shocking moments and 101 hottest Celebrity gossip. Yesterday I got to watch 101 Celebrity oops! If I thought Big Foot Historian is a weird profession, the ensemble of this programme made me rethink. There are people here who specialise in remembering that Jennifer Aniston didn't thank her husband Brad Pitt in one of her award acceptance speeches, and then they succinctly express their own scholarly views on the gaffe 'I was like OH...MY...GOD! '
And later there was the top ten police chases, everyone of which looked like every other. I was impressed, though, by the sense of fairness that the cops in America display. They know that there's just one guy in the car they are chasing, they know he is driving like a maniac breaking all traffic rules, they know they'll kick his butt when they catch him, but they still insist on calling him a SUSPECT!

The music channel. The top of the charts features a lady outraged by the fact that her butt attracts so much attention , in a song aptly titled 'My Humps'. Most of the other songs are by rap artists ashamed of their real names.

The playmate took a small break from relentlessly kissing Hugh Hefner's ass (figuratively of course!) to say this 'My two (yeah she said 2) favourite Fs on the fourth of july are food , fireworks and f*****'. One of the lesser kicks that Hefner must surely get out of the company he keeps is to feel like Mensa material.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


I am refreshing the cricinfo page twice every 10 seconds and following a test match. Find a lousier loser.

Completely captivated by the single-lonely-guy-in-far-off-city narrative of ‘Sophie’s Choice’. Take away the sex life and the literary pretensions of Stingo , the protagonist, and it could be ME telling the story.

3:00 PM
Even in the bitter cold, a trip down the Meir can be quite rewarding. Amateur musicians play on the streets on the weekends and holidays. It’s like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.(bad analogy)
There is a two-member band playing swing and boogie woogie tunes. One guy is playing the piano, an unusual instrument for a street musician. The other guy is playing percussion on an instrument that is evidently a one-of-its-kind, fabricated from kitchen utensils. It seems to be made of a kitchen grate with a cymbal attached to it (or it could very well have been a plain brass plate). He is playing it with an egg-beater in one hand and a spoon in the other. And they are making some unbelievable music. They are having so much fun in the process that by the end of their short concert I’m jealous of them. A part of me is completely sold on the romanticism of living out of the box, and the other part is depressed about my own undistinguished existence and woeful lack of talents. Despite that, I put money into the old hat.

8:00 PM
Momentary break from social death. I am the curio in the middle of a crowd of Caucasians at a colleague's birthday party. I am initially conscious and everytime they switch to dutch I feel they are making fun of me. But it’s great fun. And conversation is easy if you are an Indian guy. These phirangs can never have enough of the We-have-more-gods-and-languages-than-people and The-red-traffic-light-is-just-a-recommendation stories, although I lose them when I attempt to explain cricket. And they confound me with how seriously they take their alcohol.

3:00 AM the next day
On the way back home I’m reminded of how grossly inadequate my winter clothes are. I lean against the room heater for half an hour before going to bed.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Thanks MS

I read a post that made me check the Kumbh Mela register to see if they have a record for some brother who got separated from me. I believe its not plagiarism if you credit the author. The first paragraph is completely from the original post. To quote the hateful platitude that most software engineers and MBA aspirants seem to love, 'Why reinvent the wheel?'. But the latter one is original :-)

I hate Harry Potter. For no particular reason. I am very bad at taking compliments. Not that many come my way. On MOST days, I like Seinfeld better than Friends. I wear thin jackets even in freezing cold. Pain is good. I feel like a complete idiot when people discuss taxes or stocks. I prefer coffee to tea, 99 times to 1. I love long hair. I talk less when I am on a high. I love heights. I cannot speak in any other language once I have established a rapport with someone in a certain language. I am judgmental about people based on their linguistic origin. Sometimes I feel that I have been there and done that than most people I know. Sometimes its the other way round. I can listen to music twentyfourhoursaday sevendaysaweek threesixtyfivedaysoftheyear. I'd like to imagine movie scenes no one has ever attempted, like riding a car in a mall. After I heard that, in some of the African countries where there is a dictatorship rule, you can get killed for walking on the wrong side of the street, I have a strong urge to visit that place. I am psyched everytime I pack my suitcases for it may exceed the weight limit. I prefer to ride or walk in the rain than to wait in a shelter. For a long time, I used to think riding auto rickshaws was a sissy thing to do. As much as I hate to admit it, I am biased towards people who have strong command over English. I hate people who have good command over English but fashionably speak bad. After staying with parents and alone, I do not know which I prefer. 95% of the bloggers I know or read of give me an indication that they invariably have an ex. Everyday I figure out that there is so much I don't know. Everyday I realize that there is nothing left that I don't know. I'd like to believe the last two sentences were profound. It's crap. I do atleast one different thing every six months. I never go back and check the prices of any of the electronic goods that I have bought. There are two kinds of people in this world, one who follow their hearts and one who follow their minds. Only my close friends can correctly guess which category I fall into.Jax, you inspired me to blog.

I hate the words Obviously and Basically. They mean nothing to me. Till I was in 10th standard, I used to do the bowling action without a ball in my hand atleast 25 times a day.I don't have the guts to speak Hindi, to dance, or to sing in public. Greeting card verses make me sick. I almost never get angry these days. My muthodi-mates and another friend will never believe that. I am attracted to people who have a short temper. I wish I was articulate enough to express the genius I noticed in the 93 pages of Ulysses I read. Silences during phone conversations make me nervous as hell. I always feel guilty about reimbursing pizza bills at office. I don't believe Freud.I have a prejudice against people who read the Financial times or technical journals. In a weirdly masochistic way I enjoyed the depression that 1984 (the book), and most holocaust material I have read gave me. I keep thinking of alternate careers despite being aware of my lack of talents. I am fascinated by how easily you can get away with silliness when writing lyrics in Hindi. ('Diye jalte hai, phool khilte hai' for god's sake!!!) Honesty is overrated. I love spiral staircases. I hate people who don't admit that they turned engineers or doctors because they didn't know what else to do. I wonder why it's so difficult to convince a girl that women's cricket is crap without making them conclude that I am an MCP.I also believe that they should ban male bharathnatyam dancers and synchronised swimmers. When hanging out with groups I always notice that there are a just a handful of people who always end up paying the bill most of the time. It took me 26 years to be comfortable with the knowledge that there will be a few people who will hate me. I pick the most boring gifts. I have so many regrets. The first time I saw the opera scene in Philadelphia I was uncomfortable and I still can't believe they gave all those oscars to Titanic. I must go now.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The dirty linen

How did people ever manage without the internet?

When I wanted to learn how to best use the laudromat, I turned to the internet and sure enough, there was all the information that I needed. I read the important bits a couple of times and feeling sufficiently well-equipped went to the one in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately, every written word there was in dutch! So here's the updated procedure. If you are a dutch-ignorant expat in the Vlanderen region of Belgium, Holland, Surinam or South Africa here's what you should ;
1. Go to the Laundromat
2. Call up Hans and do exactly what he tells you to do.

But seriously, I'm now an expert on the Belgian laundromat scene. That coming just a week after I mastered the art of making chapathis. Life in the recent past has been a string of new experiences. Mostly pleasant, but all this cooking and washing; THAT I frankly was better off not knowing. Some day, from the vantage point of retrospect, I bet I'll look back at this, flash one of those dumb smiles that go well with nostalgia, and talk about how wonderful this was. I'm sure I'll bore my kids with hackneyed stories that illustrate the character building nature of these experiences. But right now, its just a pain in the butt

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The day the music died

I kept dreading the little gesture that shouts out to me ‘You have overstayed’, and I think I got it. Here’s a post to commemorate my expiry date. I want to compose prose that captures all and reveals nothing. As I get over moaning and self-pitying and puncturing the voodoo doll with all the needles it can take, I realise that these few weeks will still remain the summer (the phirang’s metaphor for a good time, not the scorching Indian season). The memories are a solace while I grapple with a workload of a million questions per minute; 'Was I wronged by a higher truth, screwed by the sabziwalla or dragged by destiny?'. How can I be SO glad to be alone this moment but hate it the very next? I realise the futility of finding answers for these no-gooders, I know I'll be left with nothing but the sweet taste of the supreme compliment. My second favourite was 'I love the way you manually defog the windows'. Other worthy contenders for that spot were 'You are dumb', 'You are a phoney bastard' and 'Rip van Uncle'.

Background score for the moment – Thank You by Alanis Morisette

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


I was tagged by L*J (with the right fonts you can get a cool symmetry with thy blog-name) to do this

Delve into my blog archive
Find your 23rd post (or closest to)
Find the fifth sentence (or closest to)
Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions
Tag five people to do the same

Here goes:
"He puts his GRE vocabulary to active use. As a result you're likely to catch him using for instance,the word 'obviate' in informal conversations, and he is more likely to 'opine' than to just say!"

Jax and traaks, take the batons.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Hans is the self proclaimed master of oriental names. His claim to fame is that he can remember the names of all the members of some half dozen Japanese heavy metal bands. There is a story that he brought tears to the eyes of one of the band members when he recited all their names. I had to believe him when he pronounced correctly the 'Na' sound in Kannada (as in gaNesha). Even he had trouble pronouncing the name of my new Thai colleague, without getting his tongue into a double reef knot. I remembered that he had introduced himself with a most disarming smile "Hi I am Jabberwocky Ectoplasm Thingamajig***,” (What the…) ” but you can call me Boat" (Phew).
Boat; the most fidgety guy I have met. He is technically brilliant for his age, but to converse with him can be exasperating. For every word he utters, he shrugs his shoulder once, winks a couple of times, and moves his hand around in the most unpredictable ways. And in between words too his mouth is constantly moving; it’s like watching a badly dubbed Hong Kong movie. And to compound the problem, he is yet to master some very important consonants. The other day he told me "Lion is a bad man". Only 10 minutes, and a lot of clues later, I realised he was talking about Ryan. He is also the single biggest reason for many of our meetings getting delayed. This is how he told us that the system crashed on the fourth day (For reasons of brevity, the pauses and the fidgeting have been edited);
" first day....'tsok"
" second day ...'tsok"
" third day .... 'tsok"
"But....." longer pause, while he twitched all the muscles he could control, and the mood on his face changed from glad to sadness."...fourth day..." Oh the tension was killing us. "Not ok" !!!!!

*** Name changed to preserve anonymity. Real name available on request; well, as soon as the author learns it himself.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

When in Rome, do the Romans

I’ve been a month here and I'm feeling at home now.
- I no longer stare at the orthodox Jews on Belgielei and wonder 'They still live like this???'.
- I sleep in the train without the fear of missing my station.
- The Bangladeshi surfing centre guy flashes me a big smile every time I walk past his shop. (Although the Tamilian lady next door starts scanning the ground when she senses my presence).
- I can differentiate between Dutch, German and French. I can speak a few sentences in Flemish too.
- I can strategically time to millisecond accuracy my visits to my desi friends here so that I get invited for meals.
- The Gujju guy at the night shop spits out his paan to talk to me. I find that very flattering.
- My biological clock seems to be already in tune with the seasons here. At least my scalp seems to be responding to the mysterious stimuli of the fall season, evident from post-shower analyses of the bathroom sieve.
- I like waffles.
- But I realised I was really blending in; when I realised I was subconsciously doing the 'Belgian pout'. A couple of weeks ago Fran asked me what I think is the most peculiar thing I noticed in Belgium. At that time I had no answer but if she asks me again I have to say it is the Belgian Pout. It’s the Belgian equivalent of the famous Ambiguous Indian Head Shake. This is how you do it; you purse your lips to form the smallest circle possible, lift your eyebrows, nod your head a couple of times and optionally let out an unsure 'yeah' (of course, it wont sound like a 'yeah' because you've rounded your lips!!). When done correctly it literally translates to 'I don’t see why not!’.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


It was the International Progressive Rock Festival at Antwerp!

yeah right! The only thing international about it was that there was an indian guy in the audience.

When we arrived there the show had begun and an amateur band was playing. There was nothing progressive about the hairy guy grunting and growling into the microphone. If anything, he had regressed a couple of rungs down the evolutionary ladder.

A little too pompous a word to describe an event that had an audience of 150 people, I thought!

The first couple of bands that played were the typical wannabes. A guitarist so obsessed with growing his hair long, and moving his fingers as fast as he could on the fret board, that he forgot that music is supposed to sound nice. A lyricist who strung together profound sounding random phrases and a singer who was throating those words like he had a grudge against everybody in the world. After we had suffered the first couple of bands,though, things looked up. There was some really good music played. And the last band Riverside actually were good enough to do a fake exit!

The highlight of the evening, though, has to be meeting Christoph. Now I know both the King Crimson fans in the world. Beat that!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

My last moult

Atlast I flew out of my nest. A little late, at 27 years, but it finally happened. I was going to taste freedom, expand my horizons and seek my fortunes as a citizen of the world. Now in the middle of the second weekend in MY own house I realised that all the exalted ideas of spreading your wings comes with a lot of fine print; washing, vacuuming, cleaning and cooking; and worse, eating the crap that you cooked too!

Naaaaah its not bad at all. I'm just a few books and an internet connection short of eden... and maybe a couple of friends, and a bicycle, and a pair of dancing eyes, and a few classic rock CDs, and....

Some photos from Antwerp. and my home

Friday, October 07, 2005

AC ducts on the floor?

We walked into the old dilapidated building that looked like a hideout for the mafia. Rudi with his shaven head, shades and the suitcase actually looked like a henchman here to fix an underworld deal. The first floor was completely empty. The walls did have some kind of ledge space where there were lots of motionless pigeons. When I strained my eyes I could see that most of them were dead. The others seemed to be in mourning. We had to get to the fourth floor. We reached the lift and there was something scrawled in Flemish. 'Lift is unreliable, take the stairs' Hans translated it for me. The staircase, in its glory days (sometime around the second world war) must have been a fire exit. The second floor was empty too. The third floor, I was told, had been a cigarette factory sometime back and it still reeked of tobacco. The fourth floor door opened to a long passageway with a huge AC duct right on the floor. There were rooms on either side and all of them had their doors ajar to let in the smaller ac ducts. All these little ductlets were blowing air into the rooms and were flaying about like tentacles, you know due to Newtons third law and all. The room that we had to go to was at the end of the passage. There the tentacle was subdued by two cans of water. We had to step over them and get into the place. We had entered the server room of Mobistar, Belgium's second largest mobile operator. I should have believed them when they told me Belgium is a weird place.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Mushy tales

" of the most important developments of our times" - New York times
"hahahahhah" - Washington tribune

I picked up the weapon of choice; a triple-blade Gilette mach-3 and stood in front of the mirror for a long long time. Fighting all the voices that kept telling me not to do it. I thought of Gaga; it was a much bigger deal for him-being a sardar- to shave off his hair and beard. What was stopping me? I then rememebered the kid who had laughed when I pecked her on the cheek because the bristles tickled her. That was enough; in six or seven swipes I had shaved off my moustache. Jax was right! It was a liberating feeling. I felt empowered. I had left orthodoxy behind. Felt like I had entered a new world. The man in the mirror hardly looked like a man but I knew this was one small step for a man but a ...I really should stop making a big deal out of these little things. Raskolnikov must have given less thought about chopping off a human being!!!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Auf Wiedersehn

It was my last day in the office and BigBoss hosted a special lunch. Lots of people were fascinated that I might have to go to Africa. Almost everyone made me promise to send them snaps, although I got the feeling that their expectations were a little unfair! Me in anything less than the traditional Masai clothes hunting wildebeest in Serengetti is bound to disappoint them! Shrek assured me with a wily twisted grin that my gopikas were in safe hands, his. The best part was when the buck passed around and people had to give their parting thoughts. Snake, Yotka, God ,the boss and even the Sub-woofer, all said some really sweet things about me but the sad part is that I'll remember the words of two guys who matter the least. The joker, in probably the longest sentence he has composed, said "Deepaka? he is also wokay". Now since I'm familiar with joker's legendary lack of communication skills, I'm used to his economy of words, but the 'Also' really intrigued me. I asked him who else he was talking about. In typical fashion he grinned wide but chose not to answer. And Thorn said something that brought me crashing so hard it still hurts; he said "I've not known him for long but I can tell he is a typical mallu". HUH???? How is that a compliment to ANYBODY??????

There's a golden rule about farewells. After an emotional goodbye, the fareweller and the farewellee should to stay out of sight for a while, otherwise it embarasses all parties involved and dilutes the whole experience. I violated this rule! Suddenly people stopped taking me seriously. I realised this when, the day before ACTUALLY leaving, I was there (again!!) at office and Banshee gave me the most casual 'See you tomorrow!'!

But, in the end it wasn't a bad stopover. Had the pleasure of working under the two best bosses I've had, made a few friends, some that I'll really really miss. Not a bad job in a year methinks!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The maul

Gopi is your average homophobic joe. He's never been the same confident male ever since bobbyhead violated his holy zone. You know the holy zone; the imaginary circle drawn with Gopi as the centre and x as the radius, where x is equal to the distance between the ATM and the yellow line that says "Await your turn here". Bobbyhead didn't just stop at that; he took Gopis hands one each in his own, held them for an eternity (about 1.5 seconds), and then tried to do the intertwined-fingers-clasp. Gopi who was shaking and blushing was preoccupied with finding out if anybody saw it. As soon as he recovered his senses, he snapped into action. In one swift move he took back his hands put them into his pockets and ran. We're guessing his interim appraisal is screwed. What's worse, the committee will never take this seriously.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

It's too late

I've come far enough from those stormy months to now look back and say "Well!". The important thing is not that I said "Well" but that I can look BACK on it. No longer is the world divided into two halves; one half that atleast heard me out, and the other overwhelmingly bigger half that gave me funny tags to carry. Clarity has returned. I know I'm not guilty of every charge they threw at me. I now know exactly what crimes I'm guilty of and that's a liberating feeling. I no longer sit up at 3 AM to fight the moral dilemmas that a world fascinated by happy endings was throwing at me. And I no longer cringe at the thought of that dreadful one "It's too late". Nope, It wasn't. The handful of people for whom I wasn't just a social correctness crash test dummy, I owe a lot. I know a couple of you are going to read this and this is my Danke. Rasagullas will follow. :-)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Cheers in heaven

To one of the most underrated joys. To falling in love with a song. When listening to it makes you feel like everything else is irrelevant.
This morning I fell in love with the unpretentiousness of Janis Joplin's voice in Bobby McGee.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

We must be the homesickest race!

The guy gives me a stare that I can understand. It’s a loaded stare; it is saying “You are Indian, I am Indian. We should socialize.” My response is to bury my head deeper into my laptop, put on a well rehearsed frown and respond with a look that says “There are a billion other Indians. Go find someone else”. The guy looks like he can solve a 4th order quadratic equation mentally, but obviously taking a hint is not one of his strong points. He approaches me and gives me the standard opener “Bangalore?”. Do you think so? Indian guy with a laptop- What are the odds? It’s time to check in and we stand in the queue together. So I begin reconciling with my destiny. I will be stuck with this guy for the rest of the flight discussing how Cisco’s IP strategy completely destroyed ATM technology. I reach the counter and the lady asks me “There’s just one seat left next to the emergency exit. Do you want it?”. I’ll take it ma’am. Emergency exit!!…ah There’s never a bad time for some humour.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


I'm sure I'd be violating a few blogging etiquettes if I make fun of another blogger here. Then again, it really doesn't make sense to worry about social propriety when dealing with a guy who thinks all women should be confined to their respective homes. Check this out. It's good fun.

Spending any more words on this nut would be a huge waste of real estate on this site. So I'll stop here. Nevertheless, there are some very important questions that this prick's thoughts threw up. Like: Should he be given the 'Idiot of the year' award? The answer is NO! That award has already been pocketed by his kin in the govt. sponsored culture police force which banned smoking in all movies and TV programmes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

High on football

The serene little pub by the mill in a sleepy little corner of Reading was to change character. The Liverpool fans were going to ensure that. They came dressed in flashy reds and settled down with their drinks. I was there with a bunch of sales executives from my company. I had spent the day watching them sell a lot of crap to our hapless customers. Pictures of sophistication all, till the game began! By the end of the first half, with the scoreline reading 3-0 in favour of AC Milan, everybody had turned rowdy. There was a guy shouting into the television set "Get back to defence you b******”. Something must have told him that the message didn’t get across, so he tapped the TV on the side a couple of times. Yeah mate, That helped. NOW you got heard.
At half time, I could feel the taut air around me. These guys were really restless. Ten minutes into the second half, oh how the mood had changed. The score was 3-3. The guy next to the TV was now cuddling it, with the look on his face that told me that he was solely responsible for the incredible turnaround. Liverpool eventually won on penalties. Often I think about the days when I used to be a football fanatic, and I wonder if I was insane back then. But today everything made sense.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


I’m ducking and hiding, because my HR Bobby-head is on the prowl. He wants me to fill up the ‘Aspirations’ form and I don’t have the heart to tell him I don’t have any aspirations. Come to think of it I’ve never had any. Of course I did swear by the second-hand ambitions that I picked up from the standard school-boy prescriptions; ‘I want to be a pilot’ , ‘I want to be 6-feet tall’,etc, but never really went beyond that. The only exception to that was a little jihad I picked up for myself in school, to eliminate all ENT specialists of this world. As far as I was concerned, they were the only pests in the world, and I spent considerably amounts of time studying them and plotting their downfall; my own ENTomology if you will.

I’ll have to take you back in time. In school my nose used to act funny and Mom decided to do something about it. We visited the ENT specialist. She contorted my nostrils and veered in. If I thought that was uncomfortable nothing could have prepared me for what came next. She told me that I had an affliction that affected my mental and physical growth. I reacted like any self-respecting teenager, with a red face and complete silence. Before I knew what hit me, she said ‘It probably already has. Look at the blank look on his face.’ My face must have belied the furious pace at which my brain was working to draft a shortlist of dirty names I could call her, because she was now convinced with her hypothesis. She now pushed it in; she asked ‘How does he do in school?’. I knew for all she cared, it was just a rhetorical question. The-answer-my-friend-is blowin-in-the-wind types! My mom took the slight to heart and gave the doctor a piece of her mind. A couple of weeks after this incident, in a show of incredible insensitivity, my father chose to consult the same doctor for a problem he had been having with his ears. He learnt that the doctor had flown away to the UK. My crusade ended right there. Before I could teach her all the lessons I was planning to teach her. Before I could even figure out what hurt my mental development more, my adenoids or the doctor who I thought will cure me.

Meanwhile, I’m working hard on coming up with something phony to satisfy Mr Bobby-head.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

I was going to write a poem

I was going to write a poem. I was going to write about a yacht that was moored too long at the quay. I was going to write about the limpets and the barnacles and the stagnation; about the apprehension of leaving the bay; about the fear of even the placid ocean let alone the tempest; about the parting memories of an inscrutable smile and a glintless eye. But…

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The week

It’s been a crazy week. Program managers breathing their dirty blocks of bad breath down my neck and my mind whirring at 52x with thoughts which, for several reasons, I can’t publish here.

I’ll remember this week as the one in which I made my stage debut as a guitarist. I felt like Jimi Hendrix (incidentally he was dead by the time he was my age), especially this one time when I got too close to the microphone, the feedback noise sounded just like a riff from ‘Star Spangled banner’. The critics are still debating whether that fitted into ‘Neele Neele Ambar’ or not. Funnily, that is one of the few things that I remember about our performance. The three songs we played passed like a flash and the memory is just a blur. I faintly remember that we mysteriously hit some harmony while playing ‘Jaane Jaan’ and I didn’t want it to stop at all.

And German class is definitely as much fun as I imagined it to be.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Catch up

An internal survey among the members of the UVCE tronics gang revealed that there are more consumers of the water from the river Thames than of any other water body in the world. No, that was a lie, but my point here is that the UVCE tronix diaspora is really spreading its wings and making it's presence felt on all the continents of the world, save 4 or 5. And the couple of us who are stuck in Bangalore find that exclusivity is thrust upon us. *WE* are suddenly the ones in the exotic place.

Growing up in the Indian middle class, I'm hardwired to stay in the herd. My first urge is to play catch up. The idea is to ensure that your resume of life looks as identical to your peers' as possible. Right now, I realise, mine looks too koopamandookish. I watch all these guys fly off to distant places and I begin to question my own inadequacies. I want to do all the cool things that everybody else is doing. I want to be able to start sentences with the words "When I was in the bay area...". But most of all, I want to dirty the waters of the proverbial Thames.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Zip it

Last week Tee turned into a skin head. And yesterday he wore a T-shirt that had the words 'Nazi Punk'. (Avinash also pointed out that he sat on the RIGHT wing of our building, but we'll ignore that suggestion for its contrivedness.) This was definitely cause for concern. Since I had recruited this chap I felt a moral responsibility to straighten out things. I prepared a sermon that began with the images of Treblinka and ended with a celebration of racial equality and tolerance. I confronted Tee at the pantry and pointed one finger at his bald head and the other at his shirt and asked "What's the meaning of this?". He said he had been to Tirupathi last weekend. And the Swastika was a holy hindu symbol he said. Fair enough but what the hell are the words 'Nazi Punk' supposed to mean, I asked. "adha theriyaadh saar" he said. My speech (like so many of mine before this) died a premature death.

Monday, April 11, 2005

When the laugh track went awry

The project manager foresaw bad times for our project and was bracing us for fire-fighting times ahead. Amidst all the frowning faces Kandwal was convulsed with laughter. The guy laughs for just about anything. There was another time when there was a theft in his house, and he was narrating us the story, and he was laughing like a whole pack of hyenas. I must admit it’s uplifting sometimes to have someone see the lighter side of things, but for the most part I usually feel sorry, and sometimes scared, for him. We always wondered if there was ever a cure to his laughing sickness. The answer came at Gaga’s party. Kandwal chose to shine the spotlight on himself by being the only person not to drink. JP, who had downed gallons of alcohol by now, took offense to this and began a weird interrogation. One thing led to another and …
JP: …it’s like an orgasm. Have you had an orgasm?
Kandwal: What do you mean?
JP: Oh don’t act coy! You’re 26.
Kandwal: (snigger)
JP : Don’t you jerk off?
Kandwal : (soliloquoy – Oh god of teleportation, take me away from here. And do it real quick.)
JP : Come’on I’m married and I still jerk off.
Kandwal : (pissed with the gods for not taking timely action)

JP stayed a little longer to ensure that the conversation got as uncomfortable as it possibly could. Even after he left, Kandwal’s face was flushed like he just saw Frankenstein's monster, and for a change we were on the floor laughing our guts out.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

The Road Trip

I'll start this off thanking Ashtle for letting us use her car for the weekend's amazing road trip.

Bandipur, the choice of place, was purely incidental. The drive was definitely fun. Pacchi was the DJ, and in a display of incredible professionalism, he even got his own equipment! Jax was the target of a lot of ribbing about the unfortunately skewed polarity of his million-weber magnetism. As for me, I was churning out pedantic fundaes about birds. My gyaan is limited only to the feathered kind, so Pacchi wasn’t interested, but Jax, my ever-keen-protégé can now identify nearly THREE species of birds. We also played what has become the official game when the three of us meet. I don’t know what it’s called, so I’ll just call it Nonsense-building; it always seems to involve names of some well known human organs, some lingerie terminology, and for some bizarre reason, Shekar Suman. We stopped after the game took a sudden ugly turn.

After reaching our destination, the only "tourist" thing that we did there was to go on a 40-minute safari that we unanimously hated. The unexpected rain was the only positive. We lodged in a place called ‘Mountainia’. It had a brilliant view of the Nilgiris and gave us the illusion of being far away from civilization. Just perfect!. Dinner was at a place that was, judging by the quantities of each of the dishes they served us, expecting King King for supper. A combined intake of 240ml of Old Monk and 30 ml of Romanov definitely opened us all up to the dinner-table conversations. Even Pacchi, who rigorously follows the European standards of non-disclosure, was extremely candid. After this trip we now know nearly as much about his love life as we know about the shroud of Turin. There are still a couple of other mysteries, though, that still remain.
1. How come road trips with these two weirdos (One wears a woollen cap in April, the other likes to hang upside down from trees) always turn out so great?
2. Why are there so many Mynas on the road?

Remote Control Snap
Other snaps

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Good Friday

I begin most of my weekends resolving to make every minute count. After all, like the motivation gurus tell me, this is the first day of the rest of my life. I had a long weekend in front of me and a whole bunch of ideas on how to spend it.

A couple of years ago, an India-Pakistan cricket match would have been a great reason to stay home all day. Who am I kidding, I could have stayed home to watch a kabbaddi match between Channagiri and Agumbe districts. I can’t tell when the change happened but the sports channels woo me no more.

I tried to interest myself in the book I’m reading just now, ‘The Story of San Michele’. Its a nice book, except when the author takes you into a Lord-Of-The-Rings kind of world infested with goblins and elves, and where the moon is a ghost. A world where no physical laws exist, and so the author can sell any crap. And this is an Autobiography for god’s sake. Even his real life experiences have characters that cheese me off. There is a bear for instance which attacks men but reserves it’s best behaviour for women. I’m guessing its scientific name is Ursus Chivalrous!

I thought of picking up the guitar, but the eco-friendly guy that I am, I didn’t have the heart to displace all those spiders that had built those beautiful cobwebs inside the box and between the strings. There were no arthropods in the harmonica so I played that for a while. As it happens with most things I try, my expectations from myself far exceed my talents, so I put the harmonica away in frustration.

As it turned out I just lay in front of the TV all day without venturing more than a couple of meters from where I woke up this morning. I don’t recollect watching any programmes, I just changed channels several million times. It was a day spent in completely shameful lethargy. I must be getting old, because I really liked it!

Thursday, March 17, 2005


The kestrel played with the wind. It rose hundreds of feet and swooped down hundreds, but during the half hour that I watched it not once did it flap its wings. Did it feel proud about its adroitness? Did it have Jonathan Livingstone's pretensions? Did it feel special about being able to survey the rain forests from so high above? Well, even without extending human traits to it, watching it ride the drafts, and hearing it's shrieks scattered in the wind, was trance-inducing. I remembered that scene from American Beauty in which the drug-peddling kid shoots the video of a feather dancing in the wind. I remembered the words too 'Sometimes there is so much beauty in the world that I feel I can't take it anymore'.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

My Cousin Vicky

Vicky got married last week. And for a couple of weeks before that, my family had been in a frenzied shopping marathon. "Vicky gets married but once" my mom tried to justify. Poor argument! No, I don't doubt Vicky's fidelity, but it's stupid, I explained to her, to go ransacking malls everytime a cousin of mine gets married. It's like declaring a public holiday for every chinese guy who dies; because, thanks to virile, much-married granddads and their undying faith in the undivided hindu family, I have enough cousins to populate a medium sized Indian town. Among family trees mine is a sequioa!

As for me, I decide to exercise thrift. And I didn't feel out of place in my 114Rs Kurta, because the wedding was as unassuming as my costume. No priests, no shlokas, no rites! It shocked a few elders but it turned out to be a huge hit overall.

The second chapter, the reception party, was in Mumbai. It was great fun. After the party, we decided to hit the dance floors of Mumbai (ah! I always wanted to sound like a true-blue socialite!). My spartan dressing sense got me embarassed this time. We were thrown out of the first place that we went to because I was wearing "open footwear". I wanted to stand my ground and and deliver that classic line that I once heard from Nitesh, "These are not chappals, they're floaters", but the bouncer measured a couple of heads taller than me and talked like he had more testosterone than blood flowing in his plumbing. Besides, I wasn't getting too much support from my buddies, most of them had already disowned me. We eventually got into another place that tolerated the likes of me. There I ran out of my wide array of dance steps by the middle of the first song. I laboured through the rest of the song using an impromptu chimp-with-cerebral-palsy style of dancing. But very soon I got bored. I found myself a nice corner to sip my beer and watch the others make fools of themselves.

The next day was for sight-seeing, vagabonding and bowling. Check out this snap of the sunset at Juhu.

Sunset at Juhu
After this we visited the chaat places and indulged in the most vulgar spree of binge-eating ever! It was my favourite part of the trip :-)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

It's funny...

...that every person I meet these days claims to have been a 'back-bencher' in college.

Almost everyone had a lecturer who said "Please open the windows and let the atmosphere/airforce/environment in" in class.

And every mother has a kid who stands first in class.

And every software engineer likes to trek.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Appraisal time

It's time for that annual ritual called appraisal, a time when the boss and I get together for a heart-to-heart talk and use words like 'Initiative' and 'Pro-activeness'. It usually happens in four stages.

1.Positive feedback: This is when the boss displays how concise he can be. And on the rare occasion when he decides to be liberal with his praise, you end up understanding not a single word. This time I got shot with this one "Your intellectual horsepower is commendable".

2.Negative feedback: I don't know if this is an example of a-few-seconds-on-the-stove-seem-like-an-hour theory that that Einstein guy proposed, but this part seems very very long drawn. This is also when the boss puts on a wooden face to hide all the glee he's experiencing. But atleast the language is lucid ("You are a piece of stinking horse-shit")

3.Task for next year: They call it fancy names like 'Key result areas' and 'Crucial undertakings' but they all mean the same. They are a bunch of tasks carefully worded such that they bear no resemblance to what you actually do for the rest of the year. The idea is to make next year's negative feedback session longer than this year's.

4.360 degree feedback: This is when the boss demonstrates his faith in democracy. He lets YOU give HIM feedback. Before you can start you have to allow him a few seconds to adjust his posture so that his body language screams out 'I'm not interested!'. But this year, I was determined to pull one back. So after he folded his hands, leaned back and half-closed his eyes, I told him 'You don't do enough to improve team-dynamics'. He's still trying to work that one out!

Monday, February 14, 2005


I toss and turn for a really long time. The sheets are too warm, and it's too cold without them. I don't want to see the time, because that always increases the anxiety. I try to distract myself from the repetitive thought patterns, but it's not easy. Try not to think of a mango, you'll know what I mean. After I have exhausted myself, I always turn my attention to the world, and I can see only the bad things about it. Capitalism, Martha Stewart, Chinese medicine, Al-Qaeda, SUVs, reality shows, global warming, Bihar, "Thank you Bangalore", dams, Mills and Boon, plastic surgery, plastic, greeting card verses... And I get drawn into a species-level masochism. I want everything to start afresh. I wish for an apocalypse, a great flood, an ice-age that will freeze the pee in people's bladders. I swear never to drink coffee again.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Profiling my little American nieces

Medha: The original style icon. She is credited with popularising the sign-off line 'See you later, have fun' among the gang. Not all of her words are that sweet though. She once told me 'You're so stupid you should die'. She was five!

Sadhika: Her most important contribution is to the field of rhetoric. Her revolutionary use of the word 'because' in sentences consisting only of the word 'because' was a mind blowing innovation! You ask her a question, say 'Why did you do that?' and the reply comes 'because.'. Yes, just that one word followed by the full stop. Terse, enigmatic and emphatically final.

Esha: She landed here only yesterday, and I haven't gotten to know her yet. She is definitely not old enough to coin catch-phrases. At present her language has a very limited consonant-set of guttural noises. But she is one cute kid!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Doomed resolutions

"Good resolutions are useless attempts to interfere with scientific laws"
"There is a fatality about all good resolutions. They are invariably made too soon" - Oscar Wilde

I meet this guy who irritates the hell out of me for the following silly reasons
* He plays table tennis like he is a gladiator avenging his father's death
* He puts his GRE vocabulary to active use. As a result you're likely to catch him using for instance,the word 'obviate' in informal conversations, and he is more likely to 'opine' than to just say!
* He's under an illusion that he is a mimic artist. Pretending to like his performances builds up a lot of stress.
* He has a blog that is dedicated to Kerberos authentication protocol.
* Some of his most intellectually stimulating moments happened when he was reading 'Who moved my cheese?'

As I dissect my reaction to this bloke, I realise I've turned into a crusty bundle of preconceptions and prejudices and unreasonable expectations from the people around me. My jerk-quotient is at a lifetime high. Which brings me to my resolution.I took up a difficult resolution this year, an extremely phony one. To make new friends. It's turning out to be more impossible than I imagined.

"Good resolutions are simply checks that men draw on a bank where they have no account". Guess who said that? No Oscars for any wilde guesses that happen to be right. (And the puns are rotten too!)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Concert at Karikan

I'm sitting on a rock on a mountain slope. Down the slope there is a ledge which is now serving as a make-shift stage. If I look straight ahead I see lots of smaller mountains all covered with dense vegetation. Beyond these mountains is the sea. When I face the stage, I'm looking west, so the sun is setting right behind it. As the evening progresses, the full moon comes out onto a clear sky and spills a silvery glow down below. Great music plays on, till early morning when the moon has made it's way to the place over the sea where the sun had set the previous evening. Find me a better theatre!!!!!

It was a hindustani music concert. All night the voices, the sitars, the shehnayees, the mandolins and the veenas enthralled. The hippies, making up almost a third of the crowd, were there to lend a little glamour to the show. Some of them even performed on stage. Most of them looked ridiculous in the indian clothes. The vocals got a little monotonous at times, and that's when I stole little naps, but most of the music played was just unbelievable, and together with the dramatic landscapes, the overbearing presence of the mountains and the sea, and the sun and moon providing the effects; the mix was wickedly heady. So many times, it felt like a dream.

Check out some photos here

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Ithi Ninna Amrita

A keenly awaited play was performed at the Rangashankara on 18th, 'Ithi Ninna Amrita'. It starred Arundathi Nag and Sreenivas Prabhu, two relatively renowned actors on the Kannada theatre scene. It started off with the two characters reading letters that they wrote each other through the years, in chronological order. After a couple of letters the novelty of the play's format wore off and it became apparent that the whole play was going to be just reading of more letters, and we were left wondering what the hell was happening. At first the Emperor's-New-Clothes syndrome forced me to look for profundity where, I realised later, none existed. And then I just gave up trying to sustain my interest. I became preoccupied with watching the stack of letters that were still to be read and trying to guess how much longer the ordeal would last.

You'd think that this would be an easy play to act in. I mean, how tough would READING be anyway. Arundathi Nag managed to ham-act in this role too!! Her Kannada was just plain pathetic. She slurred, she mispronounced, she paused in all the wrong places. Towards the end, she hardly got a sentence right. She was nearly as irritating as a mobile phone that rings in the middle of a play! I'm convinced that in the right hands, a parrot would have done better. Just because she owns that theatre doesn't mean she can mete out such torture. Sreenivas Prabhu on the other hand was the redeeming influence. Kannada sounds so sweet when he speaks that I was inspired to start reading a Kannada novel after a long time.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Ani's next

Ani has fallen prey ! He is in love and he showed all the classical symptoms. He called me up yesterday and shared with me the developments that have happened over the last few weeks. He chose the understated style that most guys would feel compelled to adopt when talking about such matters to another guy, but it was easy to discern the enthusiasm and excitement in his tone. I discovered how easy it is to participate in his happiness.The only downside I could see is that we stand to lose Ani to Hyderabad for good now. Congratulations and all the best my man, Ani!

Things seemed to have worked out perfectly for Ani. He avoids the uncomfortable frictions at home because the girl is from the same caste. And since this has happened when he has already decided that its time for him to get married, the commitment will take place while the inebriating influence of the hormones is still strong. He will have taken the plunge before he realises that choosing your mate is not an expression of independence, but the tightening of your leash.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


In this space stood a posting about my thoughts on the Tsunami. The posting was pilloried by a very unlikely critic. In hind sight my critic was right, it was badly out of taste. The closing statement came in for particularly harsh ridicule and I must admit that it deserved it. It was corny and melodramatic ; like a 'dialogue' designed to be delivered by Jayapradha in a low budget Jeetendra-starrer, just before she breathes her last amid the noises of wailing shehanayees and violins.

Moral of the story : Never document those fleeting moments of soppiness in a public blog. You'll be embarassed.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

I say let's evolve

Tyler Durden ! My favourite pop-philosopher in recent memory. Some choice quotes below.

You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

Listen up, maggots. You are not special. You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else.

We're consumers. We are by-products of a lifestyle obsession. Murder, crime, poverty, these things don't concern me. What concerns me are celebrity magazines, television with 500 channels, some guy's name on my underwear. Rogaine, Viagra, Olestra.Fuck off with the sofa units and Strinne green stripes patterns. I say never be complete. I say stop being perfect. I say let's evolve. Let's the chips fall where they may. The things you own end up owing you.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

2005. Welcome!

New year's eve! I hate the pressure of a milestone. And I hate the pressure of beginning with a clean slate.

We welcomed the new year at Sapna bar in Yeshwantpur, over cold rum and warm beer, and shayari by Nadeem, the special guest for the day. After that we drove to a party thrown by one of the hyperactive girls that Jax met at orkut. There was no entry criteria but if you smoked like a chimney and drank like a piece of parched land then you could blend in more easily. I felt out of place just 10 minutes into the party. I slithered out.

On the evening of the first of January I met Jax and Alak. We made our resolutions. Jax and Alak vowed to reduce their weights to 70 and 55 respectively. I took up a more serious resolution. I aimed to make atleast 3 new friends by the end of this year. The kind of friends you don't need to call up before visiting.

The other two main highlights of my resolution list are
2. To learn a new instrument (probably the harmonica)
3. To learn a new language (perennial entry in my resolution list!)

The Skinny Alley concert that we attended inspired me further about taking up my second resolution with greater ardour. The way musicians smile at each other during a live show is for me the biggest motivation to learn an instrument. The smile has so much mysterious contentment. An understanding of senses that we mortals can't seemingly comprehend. I don't want to be deprived of that kick any longer.