Friday, May 29, 2009

VAT 69

Centuries ago, strange events occured in abundance simply because there was no one to report them. They laid the foundations for many anomalies we observe today.

So when a wise sage informed Rameshwar and Revati that extraordinary things would happen in their family once they give birth to a pair of twins, Revati believed him and resolved to name them Karan -Arjun. She had fed on Mahabharata stories since she was five and was a big fan of these two sons of Kunti. However, the twins were born under very ordinary placement of planets in their horoscope, which foretold no special qualities in them. A disappointed Revati named them Nakul and Sahadev.

But the wise sage wasn’t wrong about the extraordinary part. Immediately after the twins were born, dreams of twenty-first century started haunting Rameshwar in his sleep every Saturday night. In his dreams, he would always be in Betty’s room invisible to the inmates of her room. Betty was a regular American girl and a cheerleader. Rameshwar would watch her TV when no one was around, else he would simply be the invisible voyeur until his dream broke to the cries of their pet cock.

Rameshwar kept his dreams to himself but he did claim of having visions of the future. He figured out that in times to come, Indians would be ruled by foreign invaders since they would be busy dividing themselves into castes and regions. He taught the English Language to Nakul and Sahadev, hoping that his descendants would be in a strong position to get clerical jobs when times come. To his dissatisfaction, Sahadev was growing up into a cynical sadist while Nakul was becoming a romantic wannabe.

I shall burden you with just one more character: he, who must not be named so soon in the story. He lived near Rameshwar’s house and was a compulsive peeping-tom. Although a thoroughly straight guy, he enjoyed watching Rameshwar bathe every Sunday morning. Rameshwar had guarded his secret well, but like all other mortals, he needed an outlet. In his nearly open bathroom, he would practice the way Betty’s boyfriends would impress her, he repeated their dialogues. And even though Rameshwar had a good grasp of Sa-Re-Ga-Ma and the ragas and a great deal of respect for the Shastriya Sangeet, he couldn’t help humming PussyCat Dolls numbers when alone, presumably of course, in his bathroom. The peeping-tom memorized most of the acts, even though he couldn’t understand the words.

Years later, Rameshwar confided in the wise sage and on his advice went on a pilgrimage to Himalayas. Nature has its way of balancing.Immediately after he left the village, Betty evaporated from her cheerleading act for her college football team (which led to a minor injuries to the girl she was going to catch) and got transmitted in Rameshwar’s village, centuries behind.

Understandably, she was quite confused in the beginning but figured out that she is in India. What she failed to notice was that she had also time-traveled since everything around looked exactly the same the way they show India to be on TV: poor people living in huts, excreting in open fields and no signs of development, scientific or otherwise. She tried communicating with some but couldn’t overcome the language barrier. No one understood the signs of a telephone or a plane; but they all agreed amongst themselves that she looked stunning in the tiny red skirt.
Wandering along in such sorry state, she saw the twins, Nakul and Sahadev coming her way. All Indians looked the same to her, but these two were simply indistinguishable. They too were checking out this beautiful white creature.

“Piss off, you jerks”, Betty stil hadn't got used to being stared at.

“EXCUSE ME…” Sahadev talked in English for the first time outside his family.The twins were pleasantly surprised to know that their Dad wasn’t fooling around with them for all these years. English really was a language spoken by humans. Betty figured that these two must be working in one of those call-centers and was relieved to no end.

“Hey Guys,where can I get a phone and a bus or anything to get to the airport. I am stuck here since days” Betty got to the point without much fuss.

“I am sorry ma’am. Never heard about these things. Why don’t you come and stay with us?” Nakul cooed. He saw this whole episode as providence’s way of gifting him this lovely bird.

“Are you nuts? Stay here in this shit? No phones!! No electricity!!Haven’t you guys ever done anything worth speaking of?”

“We Indians invented Zero.” Nakul came back.

“I am sure you did. How could you not? Just take a look around”, Betty said. Beneath the red top, she had a heart capable of sarcasm. Nakul let his eyes wander and noticed that there indeed was quite a bit of whole lot of nothing around them. He got her point.

“We invented Yoga too” Nakul wasn’t going to give up so easily.

“Oh! Would you please teach me that before I leave? I need to get in shape” Betty moved her hands around the fatty parts of her body.

“Yoga is supposed to awaken the Kundalini. Is that how Yoga is sold in your part of the world: A butt shrinking exercise?” Sahadev was not too keen about her. Betty let her hands hang on her sides.

“Is there no way I can go back home?” Betty showed first sign of sadness.

“Throw a penguin in the desert” Sahadev replied with conviction.

“How is that going to help?” Betty regretted asking that, that very moment.

“In the same way that the sacrifice of two buffaloes last year finally led to good rainfall” Nakul tried to explain. Betty had a blank look on her face.

“You see, the logic is simple. God is kind and powerful, but he remains busy as hell while trying to serve billions of prayers. So he prioritizes based on the severity of the requests. When the villagers prayed for water, they still had wells to drink from and food to eat, although not in abundance. God had more important things to do meanwhile. What does a child do if mother doesn't listen ? He cries. The villagers cries however wasn't audible to God because they were not heart wrenching enough.

So the villagers cut the head of the two buffaloes and in their dying moments the buffaloes yelled out to God in an agony only dying ones can. God left creating new species which could survive on mud and rushed to the buffaloes which by that time were dead.

'Who on earth did this?' was the next logical thought in his mind and the answer was we, the villagers. Having captured his attention, we were already standing there with hands folded and being the good-natured almighty, he gave us the rain and took the buffaloes to heaven. Some said the rain smelled of Buffaloes’ pee but you got to take it anyway.” Sahadev finished his theory with a convoluted nose.

“Can’t she simply sacrifice a goat instead of finding a Penguin and the desert?” Nakul wanted an easy life for Betty.

“In case there are many Gods, the God in charge of displaced beings would be the first to rush for the Penguin and there our Betty’s plea will directly get serviced without much bureaucracy” Sahadev always had solid reasons to back his words.

Betty wasn’t even listening by this time. Someone doing a hip-hop dance caught her attention. It was he, who shall be named shortly. She walked towards him ignoring the twins.

‘I got real big brains, but yaa lookin at maa...” sang he with a pelvic thrust. Years of peeping at Rameshwar was finally paying off as Betty started grooving with him. He followed that with a few more moves that Betty’s boyfriends used to impress her. She was bowled over by his charm and chose to stay with him forever.

There was never much verbal communication between them. Their bodies talked to each other passionately. She taught him different ways of making love. The sexual positions he learnt from her were too many in variety and number than what he had observed while peeping around in the village. He finally decided to write a book on those artistic positions. She used to call him Vat; it was difficult for her to pronounce his full name, Vatsyayana.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Bribe

Just when I am supposed to study Econometrics and Statistical Inference, the urge to blog overwhelms me. Escapism is a widely prevalent vice. During exam-time in Kharagpur, we wing-mates had a tendency to elaborately plan a trip for the vacations to follow. Everyone knew that there won't be any trip, but no-one acknowledged it as long as the planning kept our minds off the exams. To make the planning more credible, we would get down to the minutest logistical details like where would we stay and of course covered the basic necessities like how much whisky and cigarettes to pack. One such fictitious trip to the nearby Digha beach was postponed because one guy pointed out that there would be a high tide; so we instead planned for Darjeeling.

However, we did manage to have an extremely successful trip to Gangtok after the final year exams. In a similar spirit, I did go for a jog one particular morning in the eighth semester; unfortunately no one saw that and now I myself doubt whether that was a dream, an illusion created in subconscious as a response to unfulfilled yearnings.

Another forgettable thing about those days was my contribution to the final year project. It's rare to have two or more people working on the same project, but since the project assigned to me was a sponsored one and relatively difficult (Speech Controlled Toy Car), my project guide assigned it to two of us. The toy-car was really cool: red with jazzy stickers and big enough for a four year old to sit and drive it.

We were supposed to develop a speech-recognition software that could decode the basic verbal instructions and then interface the hardware to control the navigation of car. That is all I can tell about the project. Most of it was done by my partner. The partner was also kind enough to give me some slides to show in the final review and told the review committee that I contributed in a few modules. My only contribution was cleaning the rat-poo inside the car after we returned from a month long winter break. Kabhi kabhi kapda bhi maar deta tha car pe. I sacrificed one of my old T-shirt for the purpose. Though I did feel sorry for letting down my professor and sent him "Happy Teacher's Day" mail after passing out.

My stay in KGP isn't all about failures and disappointments though. I was a regarded as a master in manipulating data extremely fast such that it doesn't look manipulated. Friends used to drop by in case they failed to get their experiments done on time. One more high point was that I and my Bridge-partner Piyush managed a Bronze medal in the year we learnt how to play the game. What must be considered here is that Kharagpur is a Bong's den and I really can’t tell you how well versed Bengalis are in doing things that involve sitting for hours.

There were quite a few wildly funny incidents which involved ragging, nudity (male) and intoxications; let's take up a cleaner one below.

Our wing of 12 guys had a open door policy; anyone would walk-in for a sutta( cigarette) and find people playing cards at almost any hour of the day. Piyush and I were aspiring Instrumentation Engineers in our third year and firm believers in cycle-pooling.

One fine evening a sincere branch-mate walked into a smoke filled room and tells us that next day there is a class-test on MicroProcessors. He also informed that last year the professor had given 20 questions from the GATE exam and hence deduced that he should be studying the GATE paper. We inferred that it would be an objective type question paper and hence deduced that we should create a cheat-sheet. We wrote 1-20 on a sheet of paper and idea was to keep exchanging that sheet in exam hall with correct answers written on it. Satisfied with our preparation, we meandered into the world of Kings and Queens, and Hearts and Diamonds.

Next day Piyush and I wore shirts which had front pockets. Two guys wearing formal shirts riding double-seat on a cycle is a rare seen in KGP, we were men with a plan and least bothered about the general expectations in accordance with non-existent fashion trends of the campus .I kept the neatly folded sheet in my pocket. Piyush entered the classroom first and sat behind a bright chap and then I managed to sit behind Piyush. Luckily another studious fellow named Bornik sat behind me. We were all set.

Professor distributed the question papers. I knew answers to 2 out of 20, Piyush knew none. Everything was going as expected. I passed the sheet to Piyush with my 2 answers and then he returned it back without any value addition. I hurriedly pushed the sheet back into my pocket. We were sweating and nervous.

Then I saw Bornik’s left palm slightly open behind me. Even though he wasn’t in the loop, I decided to slip the cheat-sheet to him and rely on his presence of mind to comprehend its purpose. When the prof was about to turn, I got hold of the paper in my pocket and squeezed it into his hand, keeping my eyes all the time on the prof’s movements. Heartbeat-rate trebled. Bornik was apparently shocked by the action. The following conversation ensued:

“Ye kya hain?” (What’s this?)

“Khol ke dekh. Sab samajh jayega.” (Open it and you’ll understand)

“Aisa kyon kar rahan hain? Iski kya jarurat hain ?”(Why are you doing this? What’s the need of it?)

“Abe saale, discussion ka time nahi hain. Khol ke dekhaa ?” (Not a time for discussions; did u open it?)

“Mein aise hee bol deta hun. Mujhe nahi chaiye ye. Wapis le le.” (I’ll be telling you verbally. I don’t want this.Take it back).

“Abe likh ke de Ghochu. Kuch nahi hoga. Durr mat.” (Write it down #&@&#. Don’t worry)

Of course there were gaps in the above conversation, the words were not clear and we spoke whenever the professor turned. After a few such frantic and confusing verbal exchanges, he simply started dictating and we could manage 4-5 answers amongst us.

Then the bell rang and prof collected the answers. I leaned forward to Piyush and we exchanged that once-again-fucked look. I told Piyush that Bornik didn’t have the courage to exchange the cheat-sheet; he kept the sheet with himself and hence I couldn’t pass it along.
Meanwhile, Bornik stood up and took two steps to my desk.
He thumped his palm loudly on my desk.
When he lifted his palm, I saw a ten rupee note there.
He walked off in anger.
I was baffled for a second. Then it dawned.
I checked my front pocket. In it, lay the sheet which was supposed to sail us through.

PS : Bornik, to this day, thinks that I tried to bribe him for helping me in the test. He would never talk to me for the unintentional humiliation caused.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Careful With That Axe, Eugene

Carla, the cat, was having a bad tail day and to top that, no one had noticed how well her new green nail polish went with her eyes. Being an Animal-Resource Executive in Nandan-Associates hasn’t been an enviable job over the years, especially with a Manager as obnoxious as Eugene, the fox, and an aging whimsical owner, Shamsher Singh, the lion. Reflections on her miserable life were interrupted by the phone ring. It was Eugene.

“Sweetheart, could you please bring the list of Employees to my room? It’s time for you to make those three-meow calls.” There was wickedness in Eugene’s voice.

Three-meow-call is a practice followed in Nandan-Associates at Shamsher Singh’s behest. Anyone about to be fired gets the call from Carla in which she asks the employee to visit the boss and then she meows thrice before ending the call. Why so? Well, Shamsher’s step-mother was a cat and she used to meow thrice each time before thrashing him when he was a naughty boy. So, this was his way to revenge the world.

“Here’s the list, Sir”. Carla enters Eugene’s room without knocking.

Eugene stops picking his nose and smiles, “Carlaaa, please have a …Oh you’re already sitting. You see Carla, all of my friends are busy laying-off their juniors. I don’t get to tell any stories over the game of golf. Besides, this is recession and we must be doing something terribly wrong if we don’t feel the need to cut down.”

“Eugene, is it really necessary?”, Carla says casually tapping on the table with her nails.

“I must axe somebody before this weekend; do you have any idea how it feels to be left out? Daniel, from Champak-Sons, fired four rats and a hen last week. What about that dog Moti we hired last month for managing the Asia-pacific account? I can’t stand his smiling face.”

“He is doing a splendid job. Shamsher looks very pleased with him”

“I noticed that too and that’s another reason I want him out of this place. You know how tough Shamsher is while interviewing. But his interview with Shamsher lasted just 10 minutes and he came out without a scratch on his body. I guess maybe because they both are Indians. But you can find something on him. Does he surf net during office time ? Any personal calls from the office phone?”

“Nope. He is clean as a dove. Always on time and is friendly”

“I see. Carla you need to do me a favor, dear. You know what I mean...” Eugene says in an overly suggestive tone.

“Eugene, I get it. You don’t have to be so animated. But remember last time you asked me to seduce Jack. He is now ..” Carla was interrupted here.

“Don’t remind me of that parasite again. He belongs to that disgraceful jackal race.”

“He is now my husband; how many times I have to remind you.” snarled Carla.

“And that is why he is still in this office. I’ll handle this myself. Call Moti right now.” He pushes the phone to her. She dials the number.

“Moti, Eugene would like to see you. Meow, Meow, Meow” Carla feels like an idiot yet again.

Moti enters the room in a very cheerful mood. He knows nothing about the three-meow theory. He is holding a red colored card in his hand.

Effervescently smiling he says, “Hi Eugene, What a coincidence. I was about to come to your room anyway. I am getting married next month. This is my wedding card. And Carla, that nail-polish goes really well with your eyes”.

Carla is speechless. She looks towards Eugene with accusing eyes and rushes out of the room. Moti senses the unease in the air.

“Many Congratulations! Moti.” Eugene is stumped too. This wasn’t going to be as much fun as he had imagined. He doesn’t even glance at the card and puts it close to the phone.

“Eugene, I know you would come. I am having the time of my life”

“I am afrai ,Moti. I won’t be able to make it. Listen, I need to discuss something very important with you. I hope you understand that this is nothing personal. The whole economy is doing pretty badly and we need to downsize. We are cutting down the Asia-pacific accounts and you are an unfortunate victim of this global phenomenon. Today is your last day at Nandan.”

“Hang on Eugene. You must be kidding. Asia-pacific accounts are doing much better than Europe and America. You are joking right, because you saw the wedding card so you are just being funny, right.” Moti is smiling once again. There is an air of invincibility about him.

“Moti, Your marriage is your personal problem. I don’t indulge in bullshit. You may leave now with your belongings” Eugene is visibly irritated.

“I am pretty sure Shamsher Sir doesn’t know about this decision” a confident reply from Moti. He is finding it hard to stop smiling.

“Are you his pet? Shamsher is an old imbecile. Don’t challenge my decision. I never liked dogs anyway in this firm. If I had my way I would have put ‘Dogs not allowed’ outside the gate. Get lost now, will you.”

Moti bursts out laughing. He leaves the office and is laughing his ass off over a phone-call. Eugene can’t stand this any more. He dials the security and then slams the phone back. He sees that stupid wedding card and is about to throw it in the dustbin when something familiar on the card catches his eyes.

Moti (Son of Colonel Sheru Daga )
Mohini (Daughter of Mr. Shamsher Singh)

The date was the first of next month and the venue was Nandan-Associates’s huge sprawling garden.

Eugene is out of his senses when Ganpat the hippo, knocks on his door.
“You called security, Sir” says the guard who hailed from Shamsher Singh’s village.

Eugene’s face is colorless by now.
“Get me an Orange juice, please” says Eugene meekly.

The hippo stands confused and just then the phone rings on Eugene’s desk. Eugene does not move. The phone rings once again. Ganpat walks over to the desk this time and hands the receiver to Eugene. “Your phone, Sir”

“Hello Eugene.” It’s Carla at the other end. She savors a pause. Eugene stays mum.
“Shamsher would like to see you in his office, Eugene. Meow, Meow, Meow.”