Thursday, June 25, 2009

Short Story Contest and An Indecent Ending

Here’s an entirely useless piece of information for more than 6 billion humans and the entire Ostrich species. I am going home this weekend for a week. Yes, the economy would be spurred a little. But in the larger scheme of things, Milky-way shall continue approaching the Andromeda galaxy at the speed of 130 Km/s, leaving Bangalore Metro Corporation with just five more billion years to finish the work on CMH road.

Meanwhile, you guys still have time to read and write stories in the upcoming contest here. The contest opens on July 8th. You are supposed to write a story in 250 words inspired by the picture of a glass filled with red wine. Co-incidentally one of my posts (click here), written three months back, comes quite close to being an entry with minor editing. However, going by the level of stories in Jason’s contests, I would have to come up with something better.

His previous contest had a picture of escalator with a pair of legs riding it. My entry "Life is Beautiful” (click here) obviously didn’t win a place and I can see so many glaring gaps in it now. It did manage to be in Forties club which includes all the entries that scored more than 40 out of 45. The best part about the contest is the high quality of entries and super-kind comments you get there.

I would love to see fellow bloggers’ entries there. It is a rewarding experience. Get your creative juices flowing (rather unimaginative phrase, I know ).

If you are still here, join me in wishing my Vinnie a Happy B’day. She turns five today and is all mine now with the last installment being paid on first of this month. Here’s a humble picture of hers, two years ago. As is evident, the owner has never been a very colorful personality.

Below is the current-me after having gulped fifteen portions of dead chicken, goat and a fish. There’s a bottle of beer by the pool side. If one ignores the lingering finger and has noticed the thin half-naked me, one shouldn't have any doubts that my mom, as usual, is not going to like what she sees when I reach home.I've always been thin due to a high metabolic rate. Eight meals a day is the forecasted routine for the next week, without any consideration for the quest for a six-pack. Contrary to what one might infer about me from the content of this blog, I am a huge SRK fan. And if he can do it after forty, I am not going to die without a six-pack snap to show to my grandchildren. Like it or not, that snap shall be on display here too once I succeed. There are as many as nine bets running over it since the time Om Shanti Om was released.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Good Old Days

After every seven years, you are a new biological person. Defining the boundaries of a new generation is a difficult question and doesn’t have any objective criterions. As against the present times, a man released after 30 years in jail in 550 AD wouldn’t have had to deal with the strangeness of cellphones, cable-TV, high rises and short skirts.

In Indian context, I would say that those born after 1987 are the current generation. They don’t know that Door-Darshan was simply called TV, those driving Maruti-800 were considered rich, they probably have never heard about Cibaca Sangeet Mala and the SurTaaz Bigul, and they didn’t witness the emergence of Sachin Tendulkar. By the time they were five, the waves of globalization had begun engulfing the country.

You hear a lot of “Kids these days are so smart” chat these days just because they know a lot and can play with gadgets. They absorb a lot of filth shown on TV. Life used to be simpler in those days when we just had Ramayana and Vikram-Baital for our fantasies.

My younger brother (Bala) and I used to have Yudhha with bow and arrows. It was a pattern with every game that I played to win while he played for fun. However, one particular day he was extra ferocious and caught me by surprise with his Brahmastra baan. The moment I died, he walked two steps towards the wall and shouted “Pushpa Varsha”. Three kids were waiting with flowers on terrace and threw them on him chanting “Dhanya ho Bala! Bala ki Jay ho!” Watch this video to gain the perspective.

Inspired by the Olympics of 1988, we used to have a fight-hour everyday after the school which included boxing, karate, kushti etc with strict rules like no pinching, hair-pulling, ijjat se khelna (pulling down shorts) and no going to momma crying after getting beaten. The last rule used to be broken sometimes or to shut him up I had to carry my brother on my shoulders (Vikram-Baital style) while he used my ears to navigate left and right turns. To begin pillow fight, we used to pretend as if we are laborers carrying heavy sacks (pillows) on the back and looking up at a fictitious aero-plane in the sky. Then we would collide and shout at each other “Abe saamne dekh ke nahi chal sakta” and then in rage, attack each other with our sacks.

Whenever there was any chat of naughty toddlers at home, my mom would start “Humara chotaa bahut badmaash tha…” When I confronted her once for any tales of my childhood adventures, the only claim to fame was “Isko to jahaan chodd do, 2 ghante baad wahin baitha milta tha”.

And then there were trips to villages, where we ran around in fields in 45 degree Sun, sat on bullock carts, bought 5 paisa burf-ka-gola and saw death been taken lightly. There was no need to divide players while playing cricket. Caste did it for us. It used to be Patils vs us. I was in a pretty good form in one such match and when I played a shot high in the air on leg side, the Patils shouted “Sursyaaa, Catch Ghe” who was supposed to be fielding there. Suresh becomes Sursyaaa in Marathi. However, Sursyaa was shitting outside the boundary at that time. For 70% India, the whole world is a toilet. I am probably the only batsman in cricket history whose catch has been dropped because the fielder was squatting to answer nature’s call. I wish I could show that video to bowlers when they angrily scream for catches that even a fifteen footer couldn’t have taken at the boundary.

Given a choice though, I would like to be born in present times. The only disadvantage I see is that there is a lot of borrowed wisdom nowadays due to easy accessibility to knowledge. It is a painful experience to read about a 14 year old blogger impressed by Ayn Rand’s philosophy since she was eleven. I am not against 14 year olds blogging and reading books. In fact, not very proud of myself that I read my first book at 19. But they must be shielded from stupid ideas until they acquire the abilities to judge them.

Taking things to be cool because they are western and different happens a lot these days. In Kharagpur, I once entered into the room of a friend who was shouting “We Don’t Need No Education” with Pink Floyd. That was the age when many of us spent days with drug, masturbation and rock n’ roll. Ok, replace drug with alcohol.

My reaction to that guy was “Saale nakli. Din me 25 ghunta padh padh ke IIT clear kiya hain. Abhi Stanford me Ph.D. ke liye apply kiya hain. Sun-na hain to sun ye gaana. Lekin feeling ke saath chillane ka natak mat kar.” I mean seriously. I don’t get the head-banging people over here do in rock concerts while listening to a number on Vietnam War when they can’t even locate it on the Map, let alone know reasons behind the lyrics. And they yell with rage “Daddy what you leave behind for me..”. Bhai , bharat ek parivarik type ka desh hain. We have mostly loving families here who want to leave behind as much as possible for their kids. The only single parents you would find in India would be Preity Zinta in “Kya Kehna” or Sushmita Sen in adopted reality. Teenagers here stay with their parents and the only ones who are independent and start earning by the age of sixteen, usually don’t have access to such songs.

Recently I read a blog of a teenager who was 17 and worried about getting older. She already has doubts that she would die a lonely dame. Let me recite a recent incident for her. Bala and I would be going home next week. We’ve been playing cricket on our terrace since the time it was built. Bala told me that when he informed Mom of our plans to come, she said this to the maid “Baai, chat (Terrace) achche se saaf kar dena. Bahche aa rahen hain. Cricket khelenge.” Of course, if my mom would have had her way, it would have been our kids for whom the terrace shall be cleaned.

PS: Preeti has tagged me here with the title of the post.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bloody Indians in Vegas

As mentioned in the previous post, here’s another twisted tale of telephony.

First, the disclaimer: Unlike other incidents on this blog, this one is not autobiographical. It happened with three guys whose identity shan’t be revealed. Being trustworthy has many benefits in the long run.

Three twenty some-things, born and brought up in India, gathered in Las Vegas. Let’s name the three characters as LK (Logical Kamina), CB (Confused Bhola) and DA (Devil’s Advocate).

LK stays in India and was on a three-week business trip to California. LK and CB had studied together in a reputed institute of India while DA and CB were doing their MS degree together in a reputed institute of USA. CB was the common friend and it was he who planned the two-day trip to Vegas in honor of LK’s short visit.

Apart from having good-natured fun, adventure and gambling in the sin-city, the idea (as must be expected given the group’s demographical attributes and the geography they were in) was to do something “sexy” (a refinement of their terminology; they called it chamdigiri).

LK is a pompous fellow and had already announced to the world that he was going to Vegas. Everyone in his circle naturally assumed that he would at least visit a strip-bar and so it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. It would have been foolish, according to LK, to take the blame and still not commit the crime. You have to hand him some points there. But let’s also keep in mind for the rest of the post that LK has been brought up quite well in a very traditional family.

CB, like most of the engineering student, was still a virgin and not very proud of the fact; however he was a good boy with a good heart. He has a wavering mind and can get carried away in his weak moments.

I don’t know much about DA apart from his role in this episode and hence the name. He was single mindedly focused on getting laid in Vegas and that was the reason he was on the trip, despite not being a close friend of LK.

Let’s jump straight to their hotel room when they were about to plan that something “sexy”. Of course, they have been discussing and researching it since days, but now was the time to act.

“We have three options: 1. Go to a nightclub, patao drunken girls, do some grinding and may be more. 2. Get a Lap-Dance in a Strip Club 3. Call a hooker.” LK summarized the problem efficiently.

“Let’s do 1 first and then we’ll do the third” DA was in the mood to live life to the fullest. The reason for him not including the second point was the budget constraint put on the "sexy" task before the trip began.

“I can’t do point number one. 24 saal me ek desi to pati nahi, ek raat me gori kahan se pategi” CB was brutally honest here.

“I agree with CB. Mujh se bhi nahi hoga point one.” LK had no delusions either.

“Ok, then let’s call the hooker. No point wasting time.” DA didn’t like the structured approach taken for the purpose.

“Naa. Raani nahi yaar. We’ll just take a Lap-dance and that’s it. Full-fledged thoda jyada ho jayega” the traditionally brought up LK voiced his reluctance.
(“Raani” is an intentional typo here. Call me a hypocrite if you will, but to me, expletives and swear-words in Hindi sound much more horrible than in English.)

“Who is going to know? What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” DA tried to persuade using conventional wisdom. He was distraught at the stand being taken.

“I agree with LK. Having paid-sex doesn’t feel right. Lap-dance is a good compromise” CB continued with the analytical tone.

“Majority wins. I am going to bathe and then we’ll all go to the “Rebecca’s Palace” across the street for the Lap-dance.” LK was relieved at CB’s support, and closed the discussion.

As LK finished his bath and walked into the room, he saw the pale face of CB and a nervous smile on DA.

“He called the hooker. Teeno ke liye ek hee mangaayi hain” CB was quick to offload the guilt. Clearly DA had attacked the still-a-virgin weak point of CB and got him to agree in LK’s absence.

“Abe, why did you agree!! Aur TEEN ke liye EK. Imagine how we would do it. Taking turns into the room ?? How filthy can you get!!” LK was extremely annoyed.

“Per-head one was getting out of budget constraint.” said CB.

“I don’t care. I am not participating. I am going alone to Rebecca’s. You two do what you want to.” LK made his point clear.

Within minutes, CB was back on LK’s side. DA couldn’t afford the cost alone. So they decided to call it off. So as to not bruise DA’s ego further, it was decided that CB would have to call up the agency and cancel the service.

“Do it quick. She would ask for money if she gets here” LK was strict on CB.

“Kya bolke manaa karun?” CB posed a valid question; not many have any answers to it. For an inexperienced bunch in a foreign territory, it was all the more difficult.

“You just call and say whatever comes to your mind at that time” LK, the wisest amongst the three, said.

CB rang up the number and came up with this gem “Hello! Actually our parents are also coming here. Please don’t come.”

LK and DA were in tears within seconds. Only a true son of soil, from the land where once Shravana was born, could have come up with that excuse.

CB didn’t lose his virginity that night, but all three had great fun at Rebecca’s. More importantly, they have ensured sound sleep without any worries for Indian ladies whose worse half would be traveling to Vegas. By now the word must have traveled through the escort services there and all the Indians must have been blacklisted.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Twisted Telephonic Tales

Rain Gods, all over the world, have developed quirky little sadistic tendencies in response to the Global warming. But those in Bangalore seem to have lost the touch this year. Right up to 2008, it used to rain heavily exactly between 6 and 9 in the evening. Those who have suffered know how cruel that timing is. This year however, it rains when the city sleeps (siesta time included) or after 9 at the worst. I am not very pleased with the situation though. Life has taught me to be wary if someone naughty starts behaving like an angel.

Anyway, here’s an entirely hypothetical question. Would you pick up your expensive mobile phone from a shit-pot (clean and western style, to make matters clearer), back in 2002, when recession was still very much there and incoming-calls were still not free? If yes, would you tell that to the world?

In my 3 year old mobile, the received calls’ duration is 320 hours while the dialed calls’ duration is 405 Hours. That ratio used to be 1:2 once upon a time; now it highlights the behavioral shift. Also, I am not very proud of the nearly 45 minutes/day blabber that these statistics indicate; though there are a few excusable reasons. There have been quite a few interesting minutes in those 725 hours. For example, two weeks ago, I received a call:

“Hello” I said, following the usual protocol. The number displayed on the mobile screen was unknown. There was a pause and the call was disconnected. It was midnight. My mobile beeped again a couple of minutes later with the same number and I picked up the call without speaking a word.

“Hello Priya !!” a nasal voice from the other side. He was probably drunk too. I disconnected with a succinct “Wrong number”. Phone beeped again.

“Hello, who are you?” we both said together and then he repeated it without the “Hello” and then I did the same.

They taught me at the school that the one who calls must first introduce oneself; I agree with the principle. I also find myself putting chewing-gum wrappers or any other paper in my pocket if there is no dust-bin around. However, the worst suffering is inflicted by the habit of turning up on time. Damn those manners, but now they are wired into me.

Coming back to our caller, let’s call him Ranjha, since I still don’t know his name. He told me to give the phone to Priya. I gathered that he was expecting her to pick up the phone when he called. I didn’t tell him that there is no Priya here; just me and my..errr..thoughts. He kept calling and I kept disconnecting after a few seconds, allowing him to scream “Priya” everytime. Apparently she must have been sleeping with me.

Later on I got bored of him and put the mobile in silent mode. There were 28 missed calls by the morning. I was pleased with my enviable status and saved his number as, guess what, Ranjha.
Ranjha called me again next night while I was surfing around and the last night’s pattern followed. I was now in no mood to clear the misunderstanding. On the third night I was ready for him and when he called, I let him listen to the “Bheegey Hont Tere” on my laptop. Man, how he swore.

Next he called me during the day time. When I picked up the phone, he realized, probably for the first time, that the phone number might actually belong to me or maybe I keep Priya’s phone always with me. That should have given him some respite and he should have logically concluded that it’s not wise to infer Priya to be with me during the nights if I pick up the phone always. I can’t say for sure whether love is blind, but Ranjha is definitely dumb.

Ranjha started flooding my mobile with SMS’s now. The plan was to irritate me by flooding the Inbox and force me to call and talk to him. Little did he know that my flat-mates used to call me “Baba” not for nothing. Scratch your nails on the table and I shall smile. Serve me the food of your canteen and I shall gorge. Turn off the fan and I won’t mind. Ranjha must have wasted at least Rs100 that day even with the best of the postpaid plans.

He still calls me sometimes and gets ignored mostly. Once in a while, I experiment if I am in the mood. Till now he has heard the spoon hit against various plates and bowls in my attempts to create music, the flush of the toilet and my futile whistling attempts.

I am not planning to let go of this toy soon, but let me announce the way they do it on Radio “If Priya is reading this blog and her number ends with something similar to 26267, she must contact me to claim a jealous, confused and by now definitely broken-hearted idiot.” Till she contacts me, I would take your requests and suggestions to torture him further. Suggestions like “get a life” would be courteously ignored.

Of course, his misery comes to an end if he introduces himself politely instead of demanding to know who I am and the same has been conveyed to him. But he refuses to learn those basic manners. He should have studied in my school.

Coming up two more tales of the phone in the next post:
1. The one who knew why you called.
2. Bloody Indians in Vegas.

Let me finish with a small incident while I used to stay in Gurgaon. My phone rang and the voice at the other end said “Hello Prashaaanttt” in a typical Delhi accent. I was expecting an invitation-for-Diwali-dinner call from my friend’s mother that day and I eagerly replied with an obedient “Namaste Aunty”. She clarified that she was calling from a bank and so I apologized, as sincerely as I could, while friends around me laughed aloud. She wanted me to have a personal loan from her bank, but by then she had lost the conviction in her voice.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Profound Lie

A solitary word spoken for the entire day and that too was a lie. Optimizations, in daily life, have been stretched too far I guess. Probably, I need to review my social life as well. Allow me to explain this profound lie.

At the Darshini hotel nearby, they have the same yellow colored six Rupees coupon for Tea and coffee. You are supposed to buy the coupon at cash counter and then present it to those who serve the food or drink. I drink coffee but say ‘Tea” at the cash counter while getting the coupon. Saves a few lip movements, less trouble to vocal cords and gives a timid thrill as an added benefit. Then, of course I take the coupon from the owner at the counter, then go to the waiter and point my finger at the coffee machine. It adds novelty to the waiter’s life as well.

I am tempted to go further and claim that I just say “T”. Beat that. That “T” is like a Black Hole. So much mass (with a destructive connotation) concentrated at a point and then nothing nearby.
Is it possible to speak lesser in an entire day and still maintain the property of falsehood? You must say something, gesture won’t count. You may request someone to ask you the question “Who rules the world, yet is wise and modest enough to keep it a secret?” or “Who slept with Cleopatra last night and got paid for it?” Then you might say “I”. That would be a lie, not much meat in there to debate over it. But there are quite a few potential problems with this approach.

You need to find someone who would just ask you the question and then leave you alone for the rest of the day. Clever ones can circumvent that by pre-recording the question. Care must be taken to have it pre-recorded by someone else because there is a room for the philosophical objection that word count for the day in your account is increasing even if your past self has spoken them. If we allow this objection to stand, then most of the film-stars and singers must have to forgo the cherished dream. Plus there must be someone else whom you are lying to. Deceiving thyself needs no words and is a widely followed practice.

The indisputable argument against the above mentioned pair of question-answer would be that “I” involves more effort and duration than “T” and we must find other alternatives. “E” looks to be a good choice since it involves the least syllables and other resources. I am considering only the English language here.

So assuming that you did manage to find someone who would help you fulfill this ambition by co-operating to circumvent the issues mentioned previously, we are still left to find questions that evoke an answer “E” which, of course, should be wrong. Here’s an example.

Fill in the blank: “When I was 14 and saw a loose one coming on my leg, all I had in mind was s_x”. You say “e” and break my “T” record, lying with the least (non-zero) effort on vocal cords, thereby projecting me as a pervert blinded by hormones instead of the cricket crazy teenager I was.

However, mathematical purists, with working knowledge in Linear Algebra, can argue that the lie with the “Tea” is not as absolute as I am making it out to be. Tea is neither opposite, nor orthogonal to coffee (they both have milk in common). Economists would nod their heads as most of them have fed on Tea-Coffee as a classic example of substitutes while studying the elementary utility theory.

As I pressed “enter” after the previous sentence, MS word put me on a new page. That crap took up one whole page. I am forced to reflect at this moment on my blogging habits. Some of the posts have been based on true incidents or some stupid analysis. At the other end are the stories which involve time-travel, naked woman bleeding, animals and inanimate things talking. Once a bee did the whole narration and she was dead three days ago, so a bee-ghost too managed a representation. There is absolutely no middle path and I would try to bridge that gap in my next story. It would work under realistic constraints. However, the next post would be again based on real life incidents: “The Twisted Telephonic Tales”.

Meanwhile, let me share this absolutely gorgeous song I came across on a BBC radio program in which they showcase some upcoming bands which are still far away from stardom, if at all they would reach there. The song is “Hellhole Rat Race” by the “Girls” band. The lyrics are deceivingly simple with a groovy flavor. It’s got a distinctively psychedelic touch to it, which is why it is being put here. Give it a go, have some patience with it and this visit to the blog might not be as futile as you might have been ruing two paragraphs ago. There is no video content, so streaming should be faster.