Saturday, March 21, 2009

Handshakes, Dating And Succumbing

Observing last few posts, I felt that the blog is getting too analytical and didactic. So the second part of the previous post has been postponed to next week without advance notice to whomsoever it may concern. “To whomsoever it may concern” has such an arrogantly apathetic and yet a pleading disclaimer-like tone to it that I wouldn’t have believed it to be one of the standard ways of formal addressing in written form, had I not been taught to use it in school. “Sincerely Yours” is another funny usage in application-letters and one learns due to it, at a tender age, that it’s okay to lie. Not many things can be undone; let’s move on and justify the title in three snippets:

1. The Firm Handshake: My previous company lost two of its clients I had been involved with. The first company I worked for doesn’t exist anymore and I hear that there is a huge crater now in the plot where the office building once stood tall. Contrast that with the current employer; I take two interviews daily during the worst slowdown since the great depression.

I should be a contended man, but for the self-help books and guides that teach you how to leave a good first impression. “Shake the interviewer’s hand with a firm grip” they say. “It shows confidence” they go on. I am particularly proud of my gentle, soft and slender hands that many girls would willingly exchange with theirs, if you remove the hair. It irks me no end when a palm, sometimes sweaty with nervousness, squeezes my hand tight enough to suck life out of it, when I meet the candidate. I feel like yelling at him (female candidates usually don’t offer their hand on their own and I don’t make the first move either) “THIS doesn’t work anymore. The other candidates know the secret too.”

As the Efficient Market Hypothesis tells us, once the wisdom is known to everyone, you cannot exploit it to your advantage. Nowadays, I rather appreciate someone who is confident enough to shake hands lightly; it’s better to rely on one’s instincts to judge the fellow.

2. Dating Punjabi Browns: This was googled by someone in Senegal to reach my blog. So that someone, most probably a lady, finally figured out that all “Browns” are not the same, especially when it comes to sensitive affairs like Dating. Maybe she had a terrible experience with a Gujju-Brown earlier who probably didn’t pay for the Dinner; maybe she had eight Browns as her neighbors sharing the apartment next door. Our Punjabi Munda might have got her interested and then she might have had doubts about his turban, the mark of a Punjabi-Brown, and would have been researching the implications that the turban has in romantic life.

This is an opportune time to explain “Brown Phantom”, the blog name. I was never fond of the comic-hero “Phantom”. Initially I planned to be anonymous and hence the word “Phantom”. And “Brown” was chosen as an acknowledgement of the above mentioned notions since I knew that despite being anonymous, the brown-ness would be clearly evident in my writing.

That lady spent a few seconds on this blog; long enough to figure out after looking at the profile picture that this Brown isn’t a Punjabi.

3. Succumbing: Months ago when the liquor-shopkeeper mentioned here robbed me of money and pride, I resolved to never deal with him again. Time heals. Weeks later, I was out to buy some Fosters from other shop, which is twice the distance away and one has to cross this cheater’s shop to reach it. The cheater had plenty of customers and he was frantically serving them. The lazy manipulator got into act “What’s the use of avoiding him? I am just ONE customer. What difference is that making to his business? Why walk extra yards for a false ego? Why give so much importance to one-self?”

The spineless pragmatic cut his route short. Beer did the trick for the night. The next morning as I walked past the shop again, guilt-ridden and self-loathing thoughts, which were conveniently ignored the night before, returned with a vengeance. Not being a man of principles is probably good for survival and longer life. God, can I have some strength back in my character please?

Recent observations suggest though that I am in for a long life. While in Goa, I was haggling for swimming trunks in a shop. He said 200; I told “150 is the best I could offer or I leave” and began to walk out of the shop. Outside Goa (and West-Bengal), you expect to here the last price from the owner when you are about to leave the shop. I didn’t know that such moves don’t work in Goa. We left the shop and as we moved towards the beach, the quoted price got higher and higher. We turned and went back to the same shop and bought the trunk for 200. “The other shops have only cotton trunks. We are in a hurry. Please give that one for 200.” were the sheepish words.

This reminds me that I was supposed to write a chain of posts on Goa as promised here. Of course, that hadn’t happened. I haven’t retuned “after a very short break”. But then, what else can one expect from someone who has been a wuss lately.


Preeti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Preeti said...

interesting post ...
I give a very firm handshake and I rather dnt like lousy ones ..but if its too hard and lingers on for too long ..I have big nails that never fail to make a mark ...and then I joke ' now explain these marks to your gf/wife'

browns as they say is the new color of world ...

aha !! I am yet to read your posts on Goa ..keep more rolling ...I might visit Goa soon I can use some tips get your bathing suits from here ..:-P

Unknown Indian Outsourcing Worker said...

sahi likha, politeness or political correctness ka ek arms race chal rah abhi!

by the way, the tag 'life' for this post is even funnier :)

Richa said...

Funny post, right from the title to end :).

BrownPhantom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BrownPhantom said...

Glad that you spotted it.


Gauri Mathur said...


Anonymous said...

Hey.. Thanks for adding my blog to your network on Indiiblogger. I've moved to


You have a nice one going here.. My handshake depends on the others, i think..

You are in Goa?? Awesome! Yeah, some things don't work in Goa & Bengal & Kerala too.. :-) Here, they are doing you a favor by selling their stuff to you.. just like in Chennai, the auto driver is giving you a ride as a favor and expects to get paid! :-D

Tangerine said...

a really intersting post. i do enjoy ur style of writing.. did i mention that earlier?

btw, u r in goa..... lucky u! :)

BrownPhantom said...

@Gauri, wtml ,Tangerine,
Thanks :).

No,I am not in Goa. Was there two months ago.But keep bragging about the place and what fun I had over there ; I probabaly overdid and that might have caused the confusion :).

Ritu said...

hmm...interesting title...neatly written post...

BrownPhantom said...

Shukriya..Howz life in Mumbai :).


nice one Brown..
liked the blog.

Scattered Thoughts... said...

//blog is getting too analytical and didactic//

Feeling is mutual :P

Better you moved on to some thing else.. and how was it.. well hilarious.. liked especially the third section :))

//Not being a man of principles is probably good for survival and longer life//

I have read it before, hope its yours line actually :D

BrownPhantom said...

@Man in Painting,

@Scattered ,
Always good to see you :).
Well, I am sure many wud have used similiar lines; it's a fact that doesn't need much observation to be discovered.

Vinnie said...


a light hand shake to u!

Snippet 1 - secret's out..hehehehee..

Snippet 2 - very funny..but folks would still confuse 'phantom' to be the comic-hero - u could put this clarification in ur profile or some text widget

Snippet 3 - quite an upright piece !

P.S. some phantom u r, just saw u at my followers...
u have taken a big risk, my, all the best to u!!!

Little Girl Lost said...

hello prashant...
i loved your goa experience... i have very similar experiences when i'm trying to psyche autowallahs into reducing their fares. sometimes it works. and sometimes i keep walking, only to realize that the last auto stand for two KM was the one i had left behind...

very very witty blog...

Adorable Pancreas said...

Ah, hence the name. I figured you had something against bright purple. ;)

BrownPhantom said...

You're right in that. I've never worn anything purple in my life ever:).
@Little Girl,
Haa. Yes, one ends up feeling like an ass in such situations. Still one walks with a contemplativ expression :).

Well, my car is named Vinnie too; I guess this reduces the risk :).

BrownPhantom said...

I avoid shaking hands as much as possible Can't have long nails to fend them off. :)

If you are going for beaches alone, then sure go ahead and have a blast; but the real charm of Goa is experienced when you go there between Oct-Jan. By Jan-end itself that place was very hot.

Don't try to cover a lot of beaches and go with ample time. I can go on and on with the tips :).

Jinu P said...

hahaha! the MOST entertaining post in a looooong time on any blog! and considering my last misery-filled, self-pitying, unlike-me post this was a welcome change! :D

and thanks for following. :)

Kunjal said...

must say a nice mixture of three different things in one post:)

todays writer said...

What an interesting read!
I like your style of writing.
Next time I go to Goa, I will keep in mind not to haggle.

BrownPhantom said...

@Jinu, Kunjal & today's writer,

Thanks a ton for your kind words :).

You must haggle in Goa, but do that in the main markets and not at places near the beaches.

Prasant Naidu. said...

Interesting Thoughts!!
1. Handshake, I have a firm one and as far i remember last time a Russian lady was impressed by it but that's it things didn't ran far :)

2. Brown thing, well have brown eyes and people don't trust who have them :)

3. I do agree that u hear the last price at least in West Bengal. For eg: one of my friend bargained with a road side chapal seller in Darjeeling. Boss kitneye meien diya, the shopkeeper told 100. My friend told 50 mein milega and that shopkeeper replied haan milega "ek leye jaoo"....

Keep Rocking,

nintendo ds r4 said...

interesting post ...sahi likha, politeness or political correctness ka ek arms race chal rah abhi!

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