Monday, December 24, 2007

I need a road trip

Notice how different road trips in movies are from the ones you do in real life? There's no Shelter From the Storm playing in Dolby Surround and there's no fading of the sound track when the characters have something interesting to say. There are no long shots of the car from a helicopter. There are no deserted highways that stretch straight all the way to the horizon.

There's just a chaos of behind-the-canvas thoughts that you don't even realize you are thinking as you see a slideshow of people, towns, cattle, streetmeat and vehicles. Only the distant trees and the clouds indulge you by seeming to ride along with you reminding you that you are not really going as fast as you think you are. There is music playing whose only purpose seems to be to divide opinions in the car. There's the harsh wind rushing through the window and making exhaling difficult. There's the short moment of eye contact with the occupants of a passing vehicle when you make snap subconscious judgements at all of them. There are the pee breaks, usually meant not just to change the drivers but also the rhythm of the journey. And then there's arriving.

I want to go on a road trip.

"Spirituality" is looking at a Sequioa tree

I'm driving through a shrub jungle behind a huge pickup on a pleasant day. The road is winding and I'm alternating between concentrating on the turns and cursing the culture that has made driving big cars fashionable. While I'm still staring at the yellow pickup with disdainful eyes and casting sadistic curses on its driver, after one particularly wide curve, the car in front shrunk. That's the first thing I remember thinking when we entered the Sequioa forest. The second thing that I remember thinking is "There must be a god!" The trees are just awesome. They make you feel everything is right with the world. They make you wanna shut up forever. And after I got my atheism back, they looked most magnificient.

Friday, October 12, 2007


The Nobel Committee got it right, if you ask me. After goofing up so bad all these years, such as giving it to Arafat and not giving it to Gandhi, they finally found someone deserving.

I'm not really sure if global warming is man-made or just one of those not-so-well-understood cycles of nature. But even if Gore is proved wrong in the future I think he's done great service. He's made the guy who drives his Ford pickup to work look very uncool. He's undoubtedly raised consciousness. I think he has changed values. I know of at least one turd-brain who suddenly started being conscientious of how many plastic coffee cups he was using in a day after watching "An Inconvenient Truth" (no, there is nothing in that movie about coffee cups, but that's what is so heartening).

I still believe that we are on course for inevitable destruction. I think we will lose the remaining forest cover (which in India is a pathetic 4%) and the remaining tigers (1200 or so, if you do an honest count) before I have grandkids. I also believe that we will, in my lifetime, turn this planet into, to borrow George Carlin's words, a coast-to-coast shopping mall. I'll return to being depressed later. For now, I just hope Gore will do more of his stunts.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

P's Wedding

D: Hey buddy. How was the wedding?

P: I assembled hundreds of people who couldn't stand each other to begin with. Then I increased their chances of bumping into one another every second minute by putting them all in a room for which I paid a bomb. The collective irritability was just not enough at this point, so I deprived everybody of sleep and I then filled the room with smoke and really bad music, besides hiring an illiterate to mouth sweet nothings and to be our boss for 2 days. How do you guess it went?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Chuck Norris

This is hilarious

Replace "Chuck Norris" with "Rajnikanth" and all the jokes continue to work

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Guten tag

"How old should you get before you stop doing tags?" - Old jungle rhetorical question.

I started off being passionately anti-tag, but now my views are slightly more charitable towards them because I keep hitting the dead ends when I realise I have nothing else to write about and these tags give me a good excuse to get self-obsessed once again.

1. Pick out a scar you have, and explain how yu got it

This is a story from way back when Basketball was our religion. Pups, one of the important apostles, always advised me that I ran towards the basket too fast ; in his words "like an ape with his tail on fire". I took that as a compliment till I got the scar that I'm going to tell you about. It was our usual afternoon game. I had run past two guys, completed a layup and released the ball like everything was scripted. Things went wrong before I could land on the ground. Keermam shoved me hard while i was still in the air, I lost my balance and my landing was screwed up by some other stray foot. I went tumbling several feet beyond where I should have stopped. And then I heard the loud bang and saw the bright light at the same time. A few seconds later I even tasted that mysterious metal taste that appears at the back of the tongue when you injure your head. I could feel blood flowing down from my forehead.

The stitches went right across my left eye brow. Before the wound could heal I was looking forward to a cool scar that would lend me some character. My face at that time could sure use some ruggedization. Unfortunately that mallu nurse at Martha's did a swell job with the stitching because even I can't find the scar anymore. So that's that! and btw, the ball went in!

2. What is on the walls in your room?
Daddy long legs . post-its.

To be contd.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Salim Ali wrote a book. I just sulked.

There was some commotion in the tree under which I stood waiting for my cab to pick me up. Before I could even look up to inspect, a Barbet nestling crashed to the ground. Evidently not having learnt to fly, it hopped about frantically, trying desperately hard to avoid becoming a meal to some crows that had surrounded it. Here's a trivia: a group of crows is called a "murder". For once, it made complete sense. Each of the crows took turns to hop next to the barbet, ceremoniously gave it a peck and then hopped back. The barbet, meanwhile, squealed so horribly that I felt extremely restless. I felt the need to intervene. I instinctively shooed the crows away. It's hard to just say "Let nature take its course" when you see something like this happening in Bhashyam circle. It just doesn't cut it. Just then, one rather enterprising crow picked up the chick by its wing and flew away awkwardly. Here's when something rather bizarre happened. Two mynas started to chase the crow. It gave the whole episode a dream-like incongruence. They kept trying to make the crow drop the nestling. I stood there thinking I should have picked up the barbet. When my cab arrived the bird was dead. I couldn't stop thinking about it for the next half an hour. The experience was eerily disturbing. And not particularly for how well it summed me up. I manage to have all the right intentions but when it comes to doing anything I just don't seem to know where to begin.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Matte finish please

Completely agree with Chimera on this. I never really understood the reason for those raised doors and walls in western-style toilets. I'll admit they make good props in thriller movies, when you know the victim is in one of the chambers and the serial killer tugs on your nerves as he slowly goes about peeping through the gaps (The killer always starts looking from the wrong end but that's not really his fault). In real life these kinda toilets serve no useful purpose if you ask me. In my previous place of work, they had compounded the inconvenience by laying mirror-finish tiles on the floor. As a result, you had to take extra care not to look down to the sides lest you end up making eye contact with your neighbour's reflection. It's a very sticky social situation, one that not many of us are trained to handle. If you smile, it's plain silly. If you don't it's rude. Either way, the picture sticks in your mind for way too long. Moreover, since you've lost your anonymity you feel compelled to put on your best behaviour. That's not really an ideal environment for crapping.
I vote for a little more privacy.

Monday, April 16, 2007

4 months

Before the first interview, I remember looking at the tie and saying "You dirty colonial relic. I ain't got no use for you". Sure enough the first question I faced was "Why aren't you wearing a tie? Are you trying to make a statement?" Another guy added "It's not even all that hot!". I mumbled something and said "I'm definitely not making a statement". For the rest of the interview three guys distracted me with mindless questions while I preoccupied myself with coming up with clever retorts to that tie question. Esprit d'escalier!
Three months later, I have to attend another interview. It's the hottest goddamn day of the year and I decide to wear a tie. The minute I walk in to the room, my interviewer shows up in a T-shirt and says "You can loosen up your tie, I don't want this to get too formal". I just can't seem to get it right. But here's a useful tip for survival in a phoney world "It's better to be overdressed than under-dressed".

That's what I've been up to. Interviews. Crossing fingers and toes. And hoping against hope. Meanwhile life's been in an extremely uncomfortable state of suspension. I've hit the most formidable fork in the road and it's not my prerogative to pick it up. My nerves have frayed. Trying to be prepared for the worst seems to have made me a chronic pessimist. 8 Floyds. I've begun to question my attitudes too often; like yesterday while J and I were sipping tea from dirty cups in a dhaba I asked "When did I become so unspontaneous?". At least a dozen of those every day. I long to find the much celebrated aaha-moments; 40 second free-falls, Coming back to Life or when S finally arrived. Now, half my sentences begin with "If ...". And that is why this site was shut down too. This evening I realized something. I'm never blogging when I'm taking my life too seriously. I don't know if that's a genuine correlation or just another of my stupid superstitions, but several voices in my head and one outside convinced me that I should start crapping in public domain once again. To the latter, probably my last remaining reader, this post is for you.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A new l'eau

We couldn't help laughing at how the whole Shilpa Shetty episode got blown completely out of proportion, finally ending in the lady getting seriously delusional. ("I'd like to thank Big Brother for giving me the opportunity to make my country PROUD"). Proud? Proud of a big brother winner??? That would disgraceful, even for a country of an average IQ of 80. I watched the videos on youtube - yeah I'm a closet reality show junkie- and I couldn't see much racism. In any case, If I got paid 3.5 crores, there's not a word in any language on this planet or elsewhere that would offend me. Seriously! I'd be willing to put up with mild physical abuse too.

Anyway, we were sitting in the cafeteria discussing how it's nice to be part of a downtrodden race. We retain the liberty to be racist and yet carry the license to cry foul when anybody else indulges in it. The topic then turned to our prejudices. How we judge people based on established stereotypes. The gregarious punjabi who dances all night to variants of the same song, invariably containing the words kudi, munda and chak de phatte. The enterprising but noisy Gujju opening motels all over the world. The bong whose intelligence is only surpassed by his pretentiousness. The mallu who is wire-transferring money from some arabic speaking country. The gult whose summit of accomplishment is the H1B. So on. Stereotypes are extremely handy. They simplify life and give you a reason to not be all understanding and deep and insightful and all those terrible things. Then it struck me that I'm not really aware of what stereotypes are associated with my breed. I thought it would be a nice exercise to discuss that. "Unambitious", "Rude", "Insular" , "Narrow minded" were the spontaneous responses. It was not funny. I so badly wanted to protest and do some brand building. But I have this overpowering need to act like the guy with no allegiances. So I just shut up and grinned like it didn't matter.

Two afternoons later, the Cauvery verdict was declared. Suddenly all the buildings had Karnataka flags on them. (Seriously why does a state need a flag. For that matter why does anybody need a flag?) People were scampering looking for the shortest path home. Some were memorising some kannada sentences. And not entirely in jest too. It suddenly hit me, we are pretty mean.

I don't know what the verdict really meant. I'm sure not many people do. Even if the court had said 500 TMCs for you and 800 for TN, we still would have cried ourselves hoarse. It never was about how much water I need. I suspect it's more about whether I get the bigger share. So next Monday, we'll be on the streets ravaging some effigies and shouting some unimaginative slogans (Beke beku , nyaaya beku????). Vatal Nagaraj will be stop trains and be a complete jerk. Sa Ra Govindu will rouse all the auto drivers into action. We'll all get together and get noticed. If you see a burning Volvo, don't bother calling the fire department, we've got only 200 TMCs.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


I've lived in Bangalore almost all my life. I watched it grow into what it has become now. Despite all it's ills, I still feel pride when when people write and talk about my city like it is the face of progress itself. I know that I'm also in the danger of being fooled into equating Bangalore to the rest of India. Last weekend's trip was, to quote the hideous cliché, a reality check.

Bagalkot is a small town in North Karnataka with not much of a claim to fame except that it is one of the high-profile victims of the Almatti dam. When full, the reservoirs will completely submerge the old town. One of the features that will stay out of water is the Engineering college here. It has 300 students all with the same dreams that any of us had back when we were studying. Not to sound like a pretentious pseudo-self-effacing windbag, but those folks taught me a lot. A lot more than I was chartered to teach them. If nothing, I came back almost feeling guilty for the sinful imbalance in the opportunities that people in Bangalore get as opposed to those outside.

As soon as we arrived on the scene, I figured I had two kinds of colleagues with me. Those that were there to help because they saw a business opportunity that they were going to exploit. Then there were those that were feeding on the cultural cringe and inferiority complex of others in order to boost their own egos. The funny thing however was that despite the lack of any higher ideal or noble cause, it was very tangible that we were helping. So nobody really complained. It wasn't even as serious as I made it sound. At the dinner table while we shared our individual stories and laughed our guts out, we knew we had had a swell time.

What should I use here; the common emitter configuration or the common collector?
first one sir.
it is better sir.

What's your hobby?
on the road.

What do you read?
Which ones?
Ramayana and Mahabharatha.
Who wrote Ramayana?

What music do you like?
Silent music.

What is your hobby?
Visiting tourist places.
What's your favourite place?
What do you like about it?
The road is very good.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Sushmita Sen said in an interview "chastity has no meaning in the current period and it applies to both men and women". I won't venture a judgment on that line because, honestly, I have no idea what that meant. Some Tamil lawyer, however, not only understood it, but also deemed it dangerous enough to our moral fabric to go ahead and slap a case against her in court.

The same lady, it seems, evaded duties on a car she imported. Point it out if you think I'm naïve, but I see no ambiguity here. She ought to be punished here. But the vigilance officer connected to the case doesn't think so. He not only allowed her to submit a letter requesting a waiver, but also arranged a red carpet welcome when she went to his office. "
"After all she is a Ms Universe, so the welcome was natural" he says.

I once read an article that placed our national average IQ at 80. I remember feeling outraged then. Now I wonder.

Friday, January 05, 2007


The splendour is definitely gone. All you see now are the ruins. Pick a direction to look and you'll find some dilapidated building. The sheer number of construction sites and the area they cover makes you wonder about the grandeur that must have surely existed back when the kingdom was still prospering. It also makes you hate all the idiots who plundered this place. And then you look at the "Y loves X" proclamations that crowd most of the remaining walls and you realise that the race of the idiots still thrives.

The visit to the Vithala temple was probably the highlight of my trip. The musical pillars are mind blowing. This is one of the best preserved monuments in Hampi. I won't be surprised if they discover someday that even the barbarians were moved enough by the sheer beauty to spare this particular temple from destruction. To get the most out of your visit to the Vithala temple you need to have a guide.

Even the best guide, however, will not explain satisfactorily the occurence of all those heaps of rocks in this area. The explanation that came closest to making the cut was the legend that the gods played marbles here.

A portuguese traveller who travelled to the Vijayanagara Kingdom is said to have remarked about Hampi that the retina of the eye has never seen anything quite like it. You probably can still say the same thing about it. Where else would you encounter a lungi-clad waiter in a KhanavaLi serving you Sphagetti Bolognaise or a Moussaka, or a paan chewing lady dressed in an iLkal seere holding a plate of bondas and asking you in English (U.S. International) "Would you like some snacks?"

My New Year's Eve
Three balding men sported pony tails. We laughed like crazy. We went to a gorgeous restaurant called Mango Tree . The wine flowed. Sounds like fun, no?