Sunday, November 14, 2010

The "Road of Life" - Lessons from "Life on Road" - Part 1

Three-and-a-half months since my last post. I look more like a firm nowadays, posting quarterly. Without much ado, here goes blog Q3 – unaudited (unedited?!)

This time, it’s about lessons learnt on the roads of Chennai. Traffic in this city has its unique share of humour. Not to forget / mention the larger chunk of irritation, anger and a host of emotions spewed through the exhaust of every vehicle. Narrations below, therefore, refer to anecdotes involving the self and the traffic system. Mostly dominated by the latter, the former is a helpless witness to the extent that he could but blog about it. The irony, though, is about how we could attempt to promote a Greener world when everyone on road (vehicle included) is Red in the face!

The Chennai auto-driver:

The Chennai auto-driver, to say the least, is the most powerful economic indicator that every above-average and over-gray-haired economist has failed to observe and track. He is powerful enough to usher in a sub-prime on a local basis. The ‘taxiing rate’ he quotes could create a bearish clone of the strongest bull any fund market has ever seen. Salaried professionals would incur a negative balance on their Salary a/c in a jiffy, and businessmen could file Chapter 11 (of any book!) within the bat of an eyelid. Bargaining, in such a situation, is hardly possible. Except when you use humour – precise and pointed, only to save a dozen and a half of INR.

I spend a total of twenty minutes daily, only talking to auto-drivers to convince them for lower ‘taxi quotes’. Excerpts from a couple of conversations are given below:

“AUTO! Mount Road??”

“Why not, sir? Where in Mount Road?”

“Spencer Plaza...?”

He then acts ignorant. Someone who has not heard of Spencers Plaza, being in Chennai for more than three months, is better not described any further. On second thoughts, he could, at best, be branded as ‘a blot on the landscape’, to borrow from Sir P G Wodehouse.

The acting reaches its Oscar zenith soon.

“Spencer Plaza?! In Mount Road?! You mean behind Cathedral Road?!”

“No, you just have to go straight-as-an-arrow from here. Cathedral Road doesn’t even come in the way!”

The guy then acts as if he just finished installing Google Maps in himself, by doing a vigorous headbang to denote cognizance (now understanding that you do have a sense of routes around here). “Ohhhh! OUR Spencer Plaza?! (Mark that usage. Spencer Plaza is OURS now!!!)) I was thinking about something else! Hop on!”

“Before I do, how much?”

“Hundred bucks, sir.”

“For four-kilometres-and-a-half?!!! Hope you in your senses?!!”

“Sir, it’s a one-way ahead. Petrol charges have increased. So has the price of food-grains. But only for you, sir, 60 bucks is what I shall charge, and no more.”

“Forty it is, a buck no more...”

And then I walk ahead, to attempt the same to the next sapien they call an auto-driver.

Phase II is callback. When the above Jack Nicholson screams at you, claps twice, and calls you back. “Clap-and-another! Sirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!”

“Now what?!”

“You can’t fathom the traffic going forward, sir. It’s too tough to drive... 50 bucks, sir. No less...”

“Oh, I suppose you didn’t know you would be part of this phenomenon called traffic, when you started three-wheeling?! FORTY!!!!”

“Sir, please sir, spare a tenner if you would, sir.”

“Who would give me an extra tenner, like I do now to you?”

“The Almighty will, sir. I will ask Him to do so.”

“O.k, here goes. I give you my 40 now; the other tenner that the Almighty owes me will be re-assigned to you in my morrow’s prayers. Now shall we do the honours?!”

Jack Nicholson now does a LOL, and says, “Must say you talk funny, sir! Give me 45!”

To which the reply was, “I talk funnier, if humour doth discount! Forty...”

And phew, the journey only starts...

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cupid meets Wren and Martin

Wedlock of the God of Love with the Gods of Grammar. An affair between two diametrically opposite personae. One God is mythological and the other(s), real. One makes you fall in love that is blind, the other makes you gape at English Grammar with eyes wide open. The God of love uses his arrows to ensnare people into love, while “the key to Wren & Martin” is possibly the only way out of the others’ Grammar Puzzles.

Rewind to a week back. This was when I reestablished contact with some of my once close friends. Once close, for time and space prevented us from keeping in touch for quite a while. We met after long, and hence were trading lessons learnt, anecdotes experienced, organizations switched, qualifications obtained and habits formed. Not to forget love stories – the ones that had happened, had not, are happening and may happen. Which is when the above wedlock happened.

For, the striking commonality in all love stories (successful or otherwise), was the grammar involved during or around the time of “the proposal”. (“Successful or otherwise” is a phrase of caution inserted intentionally to prove that success in love is relative. ‘Walking out of an affair’ has suddenly become a measure of success!) The efforts of the male partner, in setting up an ambience conducive to proposing, simply gush down the drain the moment the heroine starts her grammatical extempore –verbal game-play where even the tense used may be a “turning point”. What follows is the best of such extempores. One-liner proposals that would force any guy to put pen to paper, underline the critical parts (like we did at school: “picking out” the main clause and the subordinate ones!), and try and make sense of the jugglery. A big thanks to all my friends who were co-operative enough to share the “grammatical rewards” they were bestowed with.

· I wanted to be in love with you. – This implies that you aren’t half as good as the new bargain she has recently acquried. Further, this is a tacit admission of the fact that only half your calls will be picked up, and your messages (unless already blocked) will be deemed as important as the ones that announce “For sale! Green rabbit at half the market price! Hurry!”

· I would have been in love with you – This is the inverse corollary of the first statement. The meaning is that you would have been the “new acquistion” had matters not been so settled with our anti-hero, her present boyfriend. The conclusion? She is committed. You don’t gain anything, save an experience certificate that may provide incremental confidence on your next venture.

· I might be in love with you – No instance or incident can be quoted as evidence of the girl’s love, for the matter is still under contemplation. It’s window-shopping at its peak! ;) After all, the market has a wide variety of options. All you can do is to wait. And, at the end of the waiting period, precedents suggest that you will most probably get to hear the first or the second proposals drafted above. At the end of the story, during the “happily ever after” part, you still wouldn’t have got a girl.

· I was in love with you – Idiot, you let it go. You didn’t sense it coming. She tried her best to convey it, but then you never did your Wren and Martin properly. Continue the relationship at your own peril. Iterations will only result in one of the above three scenarios.

· To conclude, the killer proposal. This would challenge any post-graduate in English Literature to think twice before uttering a single syllable in English. Craftily framed, well delivered, to the extent that Cupid himself ran for cover!

In the event that I fall in love with you, I will give you a call tonight.”

Speechless! So was our dude. Was he to wait for the event?! Well, he did. The event never happened. The call never came. The moment I heard this from the victim (one of my friends), I ROTBAFOL (Rolled On The Bed And Fell Off Laughing, if you want to adapt it into your chat lingo!!). The proposal reminded me of exception messages that a C program threw up whenever a geek forgot to #include (people without a programming background can safely ignore this and move on); with the exception that the latter seemed a bit more subtle and diplomatic when it mattered.

Action plan? Guys, please work on your Grammar. To the extent that, for such “legally correct” proposals as the above, we could atleast give a befitting reply. Which, for the killer proposal, would have been (!!): “In the event that I answer the call, it would mean I mightn’t be as much in love!” Confused? Leave it to the gals to figure out. We have done too much thus far...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Reality shows... Or does it?

There are few posts in this blog where the author decides to sacrifice humour, and opinionates, cribs rather, on the topic in question. This is one of them.

Habit has taught us people to use the idiot box as the first medium of exercising entertainment. Sadly though, content on television has degraded. Degraded to the extent of naming a reality show “Truth, Love, Cash”, where the first two words are far from virtues and the last sounds like a reward for arm-twisting the former.

This post is a look of remorse at the present generation. A feel of pity, at the rapid blind westernization that’s come into vogue. Of children loving to “move out” of home once they are in their teens. Of an India that has forgotten its roots. Of a country which once had, mark had, taken pride in its tradition and legacy. Such a country now gapes helplessly at the disturbing content being aired through televisions. Content which can be termed voluntary self-molestation at best, and corporal mortification at worst.

Children who are into their early adulthood are now inclined to a life of adventure. Leaping beyond wooden hindrances twice the height of a person does sound athletic. Driving into hinterlands on bikes in the sweltering heat does go a long way in establishing physical endurance and grit. This is the theme reality shows harped on. But, as competition gobbled up ideas, shows needed to raise the bar. TV Ratings dwindled as content looked and felt routine. Viewership got divided between the various channels that telecast reality shows. Programs needed to get back, and get back strong. The only way they could make this possible was to make adventurous acts look and feel gory. “Physical vulgarity” was the obvious solution.

Readers might wonder as to why my writing is a tad too acerbic. Take my word for this. Do read what follows, and what was written above will only seem inadequate and lacking in expression.
A particular episode of Truth Love Cash (TLC), a reality show aired on Channel [V], had six guys barely into adulthood crouching on their knees, a la dogs. Six heavily built men standing behind them were ready to spank their rears with thick sticks, the hitting end of which had spikes of some material, making it look like a mace. The host of the show demanded “the HIT” once in close to forty seconds, in what was a twenty minute exercise. The participants cried, some choked, others felt nauseated after bearing the pain of each hit through growls, screams, swears and grit-and-ground teeth.

Add to this, the opposite sex of the same age group. There was one male participant who couldn’t bear being spanked, and gave up at the twentieth minute, for he was choking and in want of air-to-breathe. His partner-girl in the competition had this to say: “I know it’s tough, but I was disappointed with him. He could have done better. I never thought he would give up so easily.”
Further, the censor board demands that objectionable words be censored (read BEEPED) out. Trust me; the show had only beeps for the entire half hour. To add to the gore, the channel promises more. UNCENSORED videos on the net.

If that was the physical extreme, reality shows have treaded to the emotional extreme too. Response to eroticism is now monitored in terms of change in the pace of heart-beat. The participant with the least change wins. The contestants, in this case, were made to watch a belly dance, alone and live.

Food for thought, now that the narration is past. What’s telecast in the name of entertainment and reality offers neither. What’s gory is never entertaining and voluntary self-molestation, by the farthest figment of imagination, comes nowhere near reality. Living daily life in front of the lens is not reality. Allowing one’s rear to be spanked by a mace is adventurous perversion, and measuring body reactions in response to stimuli of eroticism is best left unsaid.

Should this mean that song and dance competitions in the name of reality shows are healthy? Far from it. Tender six year olds are made to do multiple rounds of singing and dancing, to the extent of forgoing their primary education. Only to get eliminated mid-way. The poor things cry, sob and weep on stage. So do their parents, and the uncle and aunt who were also packaged into the show. Myriad displays of emotion get compensated by a grand prize. One measly DVD player.

Which brings us to the title of the post. Reality shows... Or does it?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

TwixT The TweeT and The TainT

To begin with, two-and-a-half weeks into officially being declared an MBA, I am now a “degree” older. Next, I know that I had, in the past, administered ministerial oaths to the effect that I would be henceforth regular in my blogs. But, lack of topics to write on caused my literary skills to strike their abysmal low, and indeed kept the oaths ministerial. They have bottomed out now (or so I hope). The so-called green shoots seem visible from the distance, but the erstwhile crispness of writing may not be yet evident. I guess it would take another ‘learning curve’ before I achieve scale in my blogs. (Management perspectives, yes.)

Two years in Mumbai blazed past at the same pace that the recent two weeks in Trivandrum did. Idleness and boredom are bullish in a city in Trivandrum, for they grow by the day. Hence, entertainment gets confined to business and news channels on TV.
Last month, news channels had an overload of words starting with the letter “T”. An indicative list? Of course. Here goes (in order of appearance):

Tharoor, Twitter, Twenty Twenty, Tunanda Tushkar (I wanted to force-fit this. The typo may be ignored), Thukral, and Tata Tea’s Tion (wildcard entry).

As reads the title of this post, there was many an incident “Twixt the Tweet and the Taint”. A flipside view of the entire episode would be the following:

1) “Right to Tweet” must become a fundamental right.
2) Years down the lane, the author of this blog predicts that “Twitter” and its associated words will find themselves etched in The Oxford and the Websters’ dictionaries (as part of regular English language usage), to indicate “public defamation” of varying nature and intensity. Examples follow:

1) Tweet – verb.
Etymology: 20-20 controversies of 2010. (Ref: Modi, Tharoor, et al.).
Meaning: Speak when not warranted to; defame people by making confidential discussions public, preferably online, mostly in the context of money and auctions.
Contextual usage: Anand wanted the matter to be a secret, but his boss tweeted it out in front of the office members.

2) Twitter – noun.
Etymology: Tharoor.
Meaning: A person who cannot keep a secret, to the extent that he blurts it out on a public platform, real or virtual.
Contextual usage: Please don’t divulge the details to Amit, for the man’s a twitter by birth.

3) Tweeticide – noun.
Etymology: Indian history – Year 2010.
Meaning: Killing one’s career by divulging confidential details on a public platform, either in the real or the virtual world.
Contextual usage: An unnecessary tweeticide it was for his career, the way he exposed his boss through a scrap on Orkut.

4) Tweetomania – noun.
Etymology: Excessive obsession to Twitter.
Meaning: The patient forgets to ask “how do you do?” Rather, immediately after greeting, the question would be “What are you doing now?”
Contextual usage: As the case may be...
Tweet’s all, folks! (P.S: An epilogue follows!)

Epilogue: Tata Tea’s Tion. One of the other words that began with the letter “T”, and did the news rounds this month. The product is Tata Tea’s pilot launch in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, in the non-carbonated beverages category. Taste-wise, I am yet to get a hang of it. The product has been doing its pilot since an year now. The sales for the brand have been one-fourth that of Nimbooz for its 250ml variant, but the 400ml variant has been dismal. Flavoured ice-tea is what Tata Tea claims the product is. But, what baffled me even more was the pronunciation of the word. A leading bakery in Trivandrum, which had its entire front elevation draped by posters of Tion, lured me in.

I asked for “Tea-ion” first.
The shopkeeper stared at me with a poker-face.
Wrong way to pronounce the name? Damn.

I tried Tion as in Sion (Read Tayan.)
Poker-face again.

Third, I tried the "Teon" way of saying "tion".
His stare grew stranger, as he raised an eyebrow.

Last, I wanted to try Tion as in superstiTION, or redempTION, but then I gave up!
I went out of the shop and pointed to the scores of TION posters, and exclaimed out loud: “This??!!”

The reply was: “That’s only the posters. The product is yet to reach us.”
“Tweny five bucks…”
“Thank you…”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A day in the hostel life of an MBA... Part I

5:30am: Good morning to the world, and good night to me.

5:45am: One of the mosquitoes sang part of Alizee’s “Moi Lolita”, in my ear. Five seconds later, it completed the rest of the song. It was one lone bloodsucker that managed to sneak in to the mosquito net I had so creatively tied around me (four ropes were made by tearing apart a pillow cover into four vertical strips – done out of pure frustration when a gang of them did a group rendition of “Emosional Attyachar” - looped half a dozen times, when I was asleep).

5:50am: Thirsty. I got up and out of bed, and reached out for a bottle of water. I heard the drone of a score of helicopters. Looking back, the mosquitoes were all neatly tucked inside the net, and I was outside. Quite not the intended configuration!

6:30am: Partly asleep. I managed to do a mass-murder, revenge to the above Spartan attack, and most of them were dead. There was peace all around. The mosquitoes had turned Sumo wrestlers and me, anaemic!

7:30am: CLASS AT NINE! CASE-STUDY TO BE READ! RANDOM COLD-CALLING IN CLASS! HAVE TO SPEAK FOR CLASS PARTICIPATION MARKS! NOT READ A WORD! I began searching for the case binder on my table. What came out was a crumpled version of the previous day’s Bombay Times (for everyone read it), and a neat stack of the Economic Times, seven of them, all untouched by hand! I finally found the binder, measured the case in terms of “number of pages of written material” and “number of exhibits”. 15 pages and 15 were the measures. Consensus measure worked out...

8:10am: Woke up again. The consensus measure was that I sleep more and read less of the case.

9:00am: In class: Sticky hands due to the breakfast eaten while travelling in an auto. Lost half of the sandwich in transit, and spilled the tea on to the Starbucks case material! Read 5 pages and 0 exhibits, out of the measures cited earlier. My point in class was nowhere related to what was read, but I saw the pen making a mark against my name in the “class register”, and was happy at the stimulus package having worked out for the better.

2:00pm: End of class for the day. Bakar followed. We had our share of swearing at faculty who made life miserable for us. Swears exhausted, we were hungry.

3:00pm: Lunchtime! Charlie and I were at the hostel mess, trying to sort out the confusion in eating. The thali was for Rs. 30. We paid up, and got the tokens. The guy behind the counter took our tokens, and said: “Aloo Ki Sabji khatam, Chana thoda bacha hai, Jeera rice das minute pehle khatam ho gaya, green salad aaj banaaya nahi...”

3:10pm: Our plates resembled the Thar desert – acres of emptiness with rare occurrences of scattered oases.

3:30pm: Back to our room, hunger half-satisfied. Four of us made a mad rush for the day’s Bombay Times. We fought. I got Priyanka Chopra’s face, Charlie got half-an-advertisement of Royal Cha... (Abhimanyu got the “...llenge” part of it!), and Bharadwaj gave up and decided to settle for the Economic Times. I had managed to kick the wall of Room. No 47, while fighting. Somebody at Room. No. 43 felt the seismic tremors, and asked us to tone it down. Talk about structural strength of buildings!

4:00pm: We had finished debating about why filmstars were upto what they were. Time to sleep...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Second composition...

Some free time during Christmas vacations resulted in this second composition, based in Raga Hamsadwani. Apologies again, to music at large, for not having done a professional arranging and recording of this music piece. Lack of MIDI resources and MIDI interface resulted in a crude line-in recording again, on a Yamaha PSR-450. Criticisms, as mentioned before, are always welcome.

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA