Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A re-incarnation that deserves death. now!

I am in pain... of the searing physical variety. No, i'm not hurt or bleeding or anything, though for a while i was afraid i might just vacate my buzzing brain and self-inflict some serious damage on the windows to my soul... oh, my eyes... oh, oh... and oh... the things that they have seen!

Why all the drama, you may ask? Well because, last evening, while idly swapping channels i chanced upon the trailer of the new Karrz. Or was it Karzz? Karrzz? Whatever. It cannot be allowed to be reborn. It must die. While my heart twisted at cap-less Himesh Reshammiya's resham-straight locks, it nearly stopped at the words "Monty is back".

Noooooo...!! There are a lot of reasons why they absolutely CANNOT remake one of the best films that Bollyland produced. ever. to present my case, i list a few here, chosen from about a thousand:

  • Monty is reborn as a rich Marwari (yes, again) and is happily living with Tina; is close to the top of the Fortune 500 list, runs marathons to keep the images of previous lives at bay, probably owns half of India instead of a crummy guitar, dons designerwear instead of dhinchakk monkey suits and now the happy couple have an enviable line-up of luxury sedans with no place in their multi-level garage for beat-up murderous jeeps... besides, they own a jet for that odd trip out.
  • The prim and pristine Simi (aka Kamini) ain't gonna be happy being re-born as a screaming Bhoot, who walks the world of the living as Ms Urmila Matondkar
  • Pinky ( in her pre-grieving sister of Ravi Verma avatar) might have to forgo her pink frilly frocks (what will we call her then?)
  • Ba, the much in demand dudette, is too busy doing the telly rounds to be reborn as the eternally suffereing Verma family matriarch... besides, for that you need to die first, right? and Ba's nowhere close to kkkkkkickin' the bucket at a 1043 years... when i last checked.
  • In the age of the well-groomed metrosexual, how will they ever find anyone with a wild profusion of body hair to soak in a tub with a firang madam, like our bezubaan badmaash Sir Juda from the original?
  • Unless they re-sing the original, there ain't another song that can give you goosebumps like "Ek Hasina Thi"... tilting frames, shadowy characters enacting the crime backscreen, Rishi's accusing eyes, Simi's horror from a dozen different camera angles, Honeymooning jeeps, and some really intense guitar playing by The Monty of mint chocolate chip dreams. From which you think you have the right to wake me up rudely with a Himesh? shudder! shudder!!
But in any case, if, despite all my efforts, this Karrzzzzzzzzzzzzz is repaid, the producers might like to answer a few questions for me, like how Sir Juda (a filmi take on Judas?) lost his tongue, and whether he has patented that very unique form of "tinkling" communication yet. Like who knighted him in the first place? The Queen? Did she not stop to think that all that fuzz on his chest and arms might be hiding a device to blow Buckingham Palace to bits? Like, were you allowed to get married in a school uniform back then? Or how did grown up college kids, of an obviously very marrriageable age, get away with wearing candy coloured frockies?

As the questions swirl about my mind like Sir Juda's hair filled jacuzzi, it's all too much for poor, in-grievous-shock me. I must hurry home, disconnect the television showing promos of the new and re-connect with the old.... better not put on the music while i'm on my way, all driving in the movie was horribly, fatally, tilted... jeep over man, man under jeep, wife over jeep, re-born man over remorseful ex?wife, and so on... for, i am not ready to be re-born unless i am personally guaranteed that i can get to keep my avatar from Second Life. But i know what i will be humming if anyone dares honk at me tonight:

roo ru rooo roooo, roo ru rooo roooo, roo ru roo roo rooooooo....

Monday, September 29, 2008

"bel far niente..."

.... is Italian for "the beauty of doing nothing". Here are some of my favourite nothings:

  • Popping bubble wrap, of course. So, if you see a shady type lurking outside gift shops, looking for throwaways, or if you get a very very fragile gift knocking around freely in the box, you know who stole the bubble wrap!
  • Driving like a woman.... I turn the wheel of justice in the direction of skeptics who insist that women can't drive. How? By giving them exactly what they expect. So, i dream at the wheel while the light turns goes from glowing green to an angry red, make mental lists of who i'll invite on my years-away fortieth birthday while navigating rush hour traffic, all the while weaving in and out of lanes at the speed of 23, while pretending to have broken hearing aids and a missing rear-view mirror... then suddenly I decide to wake up to a change of tact and start honking at everyone in or out of my way, while attempting my closest imitation of Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction. (Note: I suggest that all women put this on their partners' to-view-before-saying-I-do list. I mean even I was scared of her!)
  • Staring into space and humming Moby's Love should... There's just something about the song (besides the fact that it is very un-Mobyish) that reminds me of tangled sheets, intangible regrets and transcendental love. The very best of all there is in life.
  • Pressing the i button on my Tata Sky remote to read synopses of random programme episodes/movies. You'd be surprised at the way they reduce the histrionics to four lines!
  • Changing my phone language settings to Filipino, just to see how familiar I am with my handset and then to French to figure whether i can recognise commands from a two week crash course in French from five years sgo.
  • Watching a crackling fire.
  • Getting wet in the rain, and then standing under a hot shower with a shot of scotch at hand.
  • Adding up the digits on the number plate of the car ahead of me to try and figure out what the driver's lucky number is.
  • Hitting the "bullets" button on any feature... MS Word, Blogger et al :)
  • Finally... pushing my keyboard tray in for the day... and turning the key in the ignition.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Oh, don't look!

What is it about human nature that even as we build layers around ourselves to keep out the wretchedness of the world, we continue to be fascinated by the morbid? Remote control in hand, we switch channels to get the "best coverage" of recently exploded bombs, even as we shake our heads in disbelief at the depths of human depravity. I cannot explain why, but the images of the two airplanes hitting the twin towers of the WTC stubbornly persist in being able to send goosebumps down my spine. Yet, i am re-drawn to those images, even as my heart plummets, everytime i see those moments captured by amateurs, just as those buildings did on an unforgettable day seven years ago.

When i logged into this space this morning i was wondering about what it was that i wanted to get out of my system today. And promptly got distracted. While i continued to be wrapped up in pending work, with a reluctantly consumed cafe dosa for company (which, by the way, was utterly foul), and with moments of introspection interspersed with general gossip and thoughts on what not to do this Saturday evening (which would insolently have me presume that i have lots to choose from!), news just in tells me that there has been another blast in Delhi, this time at Mehrauli. I can hear colleagues arguing over how many have died... "do? ...nahin yaar, paanch.... nahin doosra channel laga ispe toh kuchch nahin dikha rahe hain!" reminiscent of a snippet i overheard two long Saturdays ago. "Site pe chalein? .... nahin yaar kya fayda wohi sab kuchch...abhi toh bheed hogi, police wagerah.. nahin toh hospital bhi jaa sakte hain.."

They say some people, in the course of their specific nature of the job, get immune to blood and gore. Or that violence inures, as it comes with its own antidote: apathy born of repetition. But i still believe that no amount of familiarity with death can prepare you for the fragility of human life. Or the cruelty of the senselessness with which it is sometimes taken away.

In the last few minutes, i watched, again, the by-now familiar images on TV and listened to excitedly screaming reporters and play-acting news anchors who were breathless beyond belief in their affected attempts to give us a callous run-through of the carnage. Sorry, but that is the only way to describe the insensitive reportage which lacks all occasion-propriety.

(Note: what makes Indian television reporters think that it is only by standing in the middle of a straining crowd, and shouting at the top of their lungs, that they will catch the requisite frequency to transmit their banal banshee-like analysis via distant satellites to presumably deaf viewers with strong heart muscles?)

And there they were again, stunned thoughts from a fortnight ago, which were crowding in on me once more, asking me questions for which i still have no answers. How do you explain an act for which even the supposed motivation defies all logic? How are you supposed to just pick up your car keys and drive down to the nearest market (as opposed to a sterile mall) for a kathi roll? How are you supposed to limit your on-the-spur-of-the-moment weekend excursions to a 'not so crowded' area? Most importantly, how do i reconcile my need for freedom with my fear of being caught all alone if one of those things has my address on it? Having heard the sound once, how am i then supposed to command my heart to be still everytime a bus's silencer whoops past my car, or when a truck loudly hits a pothole on a very silent night outside my window?

So as i go through the motions, calling and checking up on those near and far, while assuring them that i am safely ensconced in office, here's yet another Saturday making me terribly weepy and sad, as i mourn the loss of my right to just be. Here. Now. In the city i love beyond its myriad idiosyncrasies and often only because of them.

Oh, my Delhi! Where will i go when you, my true home, can no longer wrap your safe arms around me?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Fundas from Chollywood... yes, again!

TGIF. yes, again! OK
, i know that in between one set of fundas and the next, there has been precious little and even i feel cheated! what's this crap? a dwindling number of snooty swindles that's what! basically, here i am, again, willingly taking whatever blame you might feel free to heap on me, and making it my very own grouse before you can say oh, no.. not again!

So, peace, yo! and all such other outdated angst-ridden war cries. Here, sample some funk (junk?) for another Friday, a day of the week we hope will re-visit us real soon....

  • When you hurriedly decide to rush into an elevator in a multiplex, to go up in a hurry, you will invariably discover, upon the shutting of its doors, that it is actually going down to the basement.
I've discovered that there are two choices to kill the time it will take, to get back to the floor on which you got on, and then stop at every other floor on its way up to, to reach your desired level, which in all likelihood is the highest the place has to offer. The first is to fixate on the glowing numbers on the panel. -2: the highest score you got on your chemistry paper after negative marking; -1: the temperature of the pole on which you happened to stick your tongue while re-living that scene from Dumb and Dumber; 0: the number of boyfriends in the year just before you first got your heart broken; 1: the number of books you safely hope to publish in this lifetime; 2: the adequately chubby, well-adjusted, un-cranky, semi-angelic, come-with-a-pre-programmed-semi-automatic-self-adjusting-timer-mechanism- and-growing-into-universally-tolerable-moderately-tolerant-genetically-good-looking kids you hope to have some day; 3: the least number of moochable men whose stories buy you respectability with your grandkids; 4: the number of places in your garage for the total set of wheels you hope to alternate driving altogether (BTW, eight different coloured TVS Lunas don't count!); 5: the number of differently shaped bathtubs in your dream house; 6: the least number of zeroes following the first number on your take-home salary cheque, sans all decimals; 7: ooops, i haven't been to an Indian mall that goes all the way up there, yet! phew! lucky at that, huh?

The second option is to familiarise yourself with the faces of the others who have made the same grave mistake, so that the next time you find yourself stupidly having to share the claustrophobic cubicle with them, you have a conversation ice-breaker. Which brings me to my carefully researched second funda of the week.

  • When in a crowded lift, you will definitely meet at least four of these usual suspects: the crouching tiger, the hidden dragon, the snake and the eagle's shadow. (Yes, i continue to watch a lot of dubbed Chollywood stuff, during times with a lack of anything better to do, or gaze aimlessly at, and yes, I also thought that Bruce Lee spoke fluent colloquial Hindi till I was about 10)
The crouching tiger (CT) will most likely be this tall, jeans-clad Panjoo-looking gel-haired specimen, crouching down to whisper sweet nothings into the ear of a giggly, scantily clothed, pint-sized side-kick whose most-uttered phrase during the eternally frustrating muti-halts trip will be " you, nah....!" said with a delicate swish of the free hand, the one not tightly grasped by the CT (i mean, it's not as if the lift will plummet and she'd go into free fall.. you can ease up on the grip buddy!)

Then, just when you are nauseatingly wondering what's awfully cooking in there, you notice the hidden dragon (HD), breathing fire with his onion breath and gastro-grenades, crouching away in the corner with a "can-you-just-smell-that?" and not-quite-as-guilty-as-outraged expression on his if-i-can't-see-your-disgust-i'm-not-even-here face. And you try desperately to recall the long-forgotten swimming lesson where you flailed about trying to hold your breath. At every stop, you let it out in a rush, and then the doors menacingly close again....

You feel the snake before you see him, as you are jolted out of your breath-halting feat by a light yet strategic exploration of your bottom. It's annoyingly vague, exasperatingly effective and very difficult to assign, until the snake attempts it again, by which time you are busy exhaling and inhaling at the temporarily open door. You might as well let your hapless bottom be, for he's awfully good at this stuff, for he's probably been practising at various malls in and more challenging settings. They probably have a club or discussion board or something to tally their shady triumphs!

And the last one is the Eagle's shadow.. This one's a kindred soul, shoved similarly into a corner, who's been watching, like you were initially, as an amused big bird, ever since the journey began, and probably is as astute an observer of lift-land as you are. The only difference is that the while the amused smile was wiped off your face with the shenanigans of the snakey bot-patting, his only grew wider. And when the big bad box thankfully disgorges you on the penultimate floor, he waits to let the others off, before chivalrously, and a tad smugly, stepping aside to let you disembark first. The next time, I'm praying he goes for your buns, buddy, and then we'll see!

And now, work beckons and so does a cold lunch. As i look at my own culinary creation with a fair amount of trepidation, here's wishing you cosy dinners, empty express elevators and close encounters of the worst ... oops... first kind: by invitation only. toooodly do!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Spill it sister!

So, this crazy chick i know cheekily chose a select few to do some homework, or prep, as it was better known in the world's best boarding school.. and i was scared that if I didn't turn it up on time, i will not be able to live with the spoilsport tag that would in evitably follow!

As i replace her answers with mine, all l can say is, thanks babe! for i haven't taken this so seriously since i was twelve and scribbling furiously into hobby books, while hiding the answers from prying eyes with my left arm:)

Before i begin, here are her rules, which i might break with impunity:

People who have been tagged must write their answers on their blogs and replace any question that they dislike with a new question formulated by them.

People who have been tagged must Tag at least 6 people to do this quiz and those who are tagged cannot refuse. These people must state who they were tagged by and cannot tag the person whom they were tagged by. Get it? Now spread the love.

(More like the mayhem, Nim!) anyway, here goes...

If your lover betrayed you, what will your reaction be?
voodoo, plain and simple. go for the gonads, girl!

If you could have a dream come true, what would it be?
fit into that awesome pair of tight jeans i tearfully abandoned in 1995.

What would do with a billion dollars?
disappear before you come knocking for a cut.

Will you fall in love with your best friend?
pass pliss! been there, done that. fell and got bruised.

Which is more blessed: loving someone or being loved by someone?

The second. Was it the great philosophers Aerosmith who said "Falling in love (is hard on the knees)" and after the big Three-Oh, i'm fast hurtling towards planet osteoporosis!

How long do you intend to wait for someone you love?

OK. Hypothetically, of course. If they're around making me wait, then as long as it takes to say, "if you're gonna make me wait, you ain't worth it!" and if we're talking about that oh so elusive love, then perhaps till i have to stop looking at the clock of hope every few hours

If the person you secretly like is attached, what will you do?
knock him out and revive him with a magic love potion, of course!

If you could root for one social cause, what would it be?
unsolicited phone calls. wish i could track down every single caller from every anonymous call centre, line them up in a dark room without food and water and call up every five minutes with an offer for a loan to bail them out, alternating with a 'polite reminder' about when they have to pay their next instalment! yeah, i DO feel THAT strongly about it. its tearing the flimsy fabric of our society apart, i tell ya!!!!!

What takes you down the fastest?
smiling non-resistance in the face of an unreasonable hormonal outburst

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
enjoying the royalties from my third book.... at the very least

What’s your fear?
losing my laughter

What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?
Nimpipi: my daily dose of uncomplicated craziness in the complicated sanity of this our workplace

Would you rather be single and rich or married and poor?
married and rich... what???? sorry, can't read the rest too clearly :)

If you fall in love with two people simultaneously who will you pick?
the one whose eyes light up when they spy me

Would you give all in a relationship?
oh, totally everything... except the number of my Swiss bank account

Would you forgive and forget someone no matter how horrible a thing he has done?
i notice the bias in the use of the word "he", so.... forgive maybe, not forget, if only to remind myself that i have a lot to learn. anyway, it's an all too live situation, so answers after the ad-break here please

Do you prefer being single or in a relationship?
in a single relationship.

Monday, September 22, 2008

think. pause. speak.

i have a dubious gift
a special one, no doubt

that is i never know exactly when
i should put my foot in my mouth

so try as i might
and repent as i may
i never do find the right time
for all the silly things to say

but being the Saggi that i am

i somehow worm out of trouble
but just when i think i'm home free
along comes disaster, quick on the double

so i fret and i sweat
while others can't believe my cheek
alas! little do they know
it's only a hole to die in i seek

so while i crawl about in shame
promise that i will not repeat
the faux pas, that i so avoid,
continue yapping at my feet

so all ye who i might have tormented
with a word i was too quick to utter
please know that i yearn for the day
when i will stop causing an unnecessary flutter

now that i have been suitably contrite
for something that's outta my control
i'm sure i can go back to bumbling
till i'm arrested by the think-before-u-speak patrol

there, that's poetic laziness for you. for i'm conserving my prosaic energies for the week ahead. another long one it might turn out to be.....

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Fundas and the week that was not....

i'm in a kind of fugue state.... better still, i'm floating and its all happening in someone else's life.... even better, i'm plain absent and that tick in the register is a proxy... would it were that simple, though. sometimes, you get hit by a stray cricket ball, at other times you run right into the willow. that's life for ya!

why am i so maudlin, you might wonder. because this has been one of the most confusing weeks in my recent past, and there have been some baffling ones, believe me. triumph and loss have jostled for space with anger and humility, while bad judgement has tried to usurp the embattled throne of good sense, and despair has reluctantly, mistrustfully opened the door to a sliver of hope. and that hope hangs on the tenuous thread of my own conscience. which is telling me that it's sick and tired of playing second fiddle to self-doubts and that i need to kick some ass. you win, babe. so be it. amen.

and now on to some snippets of gyaan for the week that was not, and might never be...
  • Into all lives some rain must fall, though it never does when predicted during the monsoons and always re-appears just as you are getting ready to drive back home in rush hour. SUVs double up as your al fresco car wash, dousing your tiny-four-paws with the spittle of a hundred paans, the sorry butts of soggy bidis and sloshy remains of roughly a million Indian pit stops by the roadside.
  • All the world's a urinal and the Indians are the longest-surviving imperialists. plunder with paan. pillage with pee. paint the town yellow. while we're on the subject, the original colonialists have much to teach us still. a small tip: avoid the red phone booths in London, except when you gotta go... i mean, unless you really gotta go...then there ain't a better place, or so say the Brits.... you pee!! ooops, i mean, you see!
  • A bar may list a hundred different brands of beer, but the one you crave on that very exact day will always be "out of stock". and the one you order will be the warmest, yet the "coldest" they've got. aaaaarrrrgh! Enough to make you froth at the mouth, like the warm glass now staring at you from across the table.
  • All things in life that are seemingly free, come with an expiry date. The choked with toxic-whatnot air won't be worth breathing in a few years' time; water with god-knows-what-shit-in-it won't last despite fast-melting glaciers; the earth that we walk on.... ooops! that's already been swallowed up by DLF/DDA, groaning as it is under the weight of progress.... breathless, it awaits the final verdict from the Franco-Swiss border.... and we all know the longevity of promises. freely made, short shelf-life..... love? i'm still figuring that one out.
so, maudlin i may be
but all ye, it won't last
for the dumbest thing to do
is to let your future be led by the past

i see from my dirty window
that some rain has fallen today
and as i prepare to leave now
i wonder if i might get sloshed today

for the car needs a wash
and so does my hair
so why worry about the future
i'll know what happens as soon as i get there!!

so have a nice weekend folks
and remember to do everything that i won't
and when you screw up big time
i'll pretend i did tell you don't!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Terror... err...error

unable to resist, i went this morning (at about 8 am) to GK I, M-block market, the site of one of the blasts that ripped through Delhi on Saturday evening.

and it was business as usual, with the early morning sweepers casually emptying dustbins (in which bombs had been planted in other targeted parts of the city) as i just drove slowly past all the familiar shops that have been an inseparable part of my life since i came to Delhi over 15 years ago. for M block is one of my favouritest places in the city. love it. can't live without it. and can't go too long without paying obeisance to its haphazard existence every once in a while (tempered from the almost-daily visits of our college days).

the only reminder of the terrible tragedy was a signboard put up by Aaj Tak news channel which had a backdrop of a nuke-type explosion, saying something like "aage bhadhenge... (and) aatankvad se nahin darenge..." (we will move forward (and) we will not be afraid of terrorism) or thereabouts.... for couldn't read too well from the car.

and driving past that semblance of normalcy in a city jolted by five bombs, i thought: fear is one thing and escapism is definitely another. we are a nation of ostriches, ever-believing that if we bury our heads in the sands of denial long enough, what we refuse to see and acknowledge will all go away somehow. but the one thing that these most recent terror attacks did seem to shatter was our smug sense of 'untouchability' with a horrific threat too close for comfort. i thought about this as friends from all over the country and even from around the globe called me to ask if i was ok, often with a common concern: "It's a Saturday evening, we thought you might be at GK for your favourite golgappas!"

the truth is that sometimes work comes to the rescue, for i was in office and heard the blast rip through CP (the one at Barakhamba road, i'm guessing, barely 500 metres away). and promptly dismissed it for thunder, curiously looking out of my window to check if i would have to make a dash to my car later on. and then ten minutes later, i was on the phone to my family and friends to assure them that i was ok before they saw it on TV and before mobile networks got jammed...

and for the first time ever, it seemed real. too real and too close. very loud and crystal clear. terribly scary. and for a while, as news poured in about yet another blast at Central Park, barely 500 metres away again, i looked into a kaleidoscope of anxiety, fear, confusion, horror and eventually sadness mixed with relief, mirroring my own, on the faces of my colleagues... we were safe. for now.

but the one thought that i know was running through all our minds was, this could have been any one of us. we park in CP, take those same roads home every evening; often spend aimless hours over weekends browsing shop windows, sipping nimboo-banta from Prince Pan and stopping to collect trinkets from the little "shoplets" at GK M-block; and do a bit of our wedding shopping in the crowded bylanes of Karol Bagh.

yet we refuse to acknowledge that we are, collectively, a nation under attack. perhaps that's because the shattered lives that we read about have been far removed from our zone of reality (and here i mean the sense of false security that envelopes the upper middle class), and we are quick to turn away from the bleeding faces and horrifying images, only to repeatedly shrug them off as yet another 'blip' on our close-circuit radars. i admit to having done that in the past, and i also admit that i am finding it difficult to be quite so blasé about it this time around.

so i keep asking myself why? and i have no clear answer but an all-pervading sense of sadness, outrage and vulnerability. beginning with the fact that i saw a colleague crying silently in the bathroom minutes after the news of the blast, for she couldn't get through to her family, and also because she was feeling the way i did: confused, angry, shaken and somehow, attacked and affected and curiously dazed... and then because another colleague, quite shaken, informed me that her mom and sister had just left GK market an hour ago.....

and because two of my my brother's best friends were on their way to GK when they heard the news.... and especially because had my brother been in town, he would have been sipping coffee with his fiance at GK.... and because i shared a plate of chaat with my mom and sis a few weeks ago at the same spot the bomb went off.... and also because, i was in Pallika market last week and, more immediately because, i heard the blast just as i was reaching for my car keys to make a trip to Wengers in CP to pick up pastries, while wondering if the trip would be worth the effort in a downpour.

and that was the extent, the sum total of my troubles, the evening when so many people lost their lives to the senseless logic of a handful of maniacs, and for that triviality i feel guilty somehow. guilty of losing patience with security guards who take too long to check my handbag at the movie theatre, guilty of finding an excuse to delay removing my car from a no-parking zone, and of numerous other little infractions that add up to a big catastrophe, just because we refuse to empathise with the fact that we all are potential victims, live targets who are lucky enough to see a few more dawns, eat some more golgappas, to shop, laugh, love and live another day.

the average Delhiite has had to discover, three years after we were last hit, the survivors' "spirit", much as the Mumbaiite has been forced to muster the same on countless occasions now. we are told that it is our spirit, our courage, and our bravery in the face of all odds that the terrorists are targeting. all this by a Home Minister who is on the warpath over a wardrobe 'malfunction', despite changing more clothes in one evening (while he made polite appearances at various blast sites) than he has tactics, to counter the moving targets who have us all in their cross hairs today. and they have brought the battle right to our doorsteps over his last four and a half years in office.

oh, i'm terribly sorry to burst your bubble of banal banter, Mr. Home Minister, but its your incompetence that they are leveraging. in not winning the battle against our own complacency we're losing the war to those who know, perfectly well, that we're not even warming up to the challenge yet.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hangin' up on better judgement

i feel like crying. i was "velly velly lude" to this sweet boy at an obscure call centre somewhere. well, the conversation began reasonably enough and then went something like this:

"hi, yeah......blah blah blaaaaahhh...." is how it all started... going on to "please hold the line while we transfer you to... blah blah blaaaaaaah", and more of the same (holding and tranferring... holding and transferring.. and so on)

.... till the crucial part:

Sweet boy (SB): I'm very sorry Ma'am to keep you waiting on the line for so long and i thank you for your patience, but we cannot deliver it today, due to a echnical fault in our system that did not register your original request.

Meanie Me (MM): What do you mean you can't deliver it today? If there is a bloody technical fault, then aren't you supposed to inform me in advance?

SB: yes, i agree madam ... and i personally apologise to you. i really am very sorry and this will nto happen in future.

MM: oh yeah i know it will... should have listenened to my friends when they said your service sucked! (though by this time i knew i was being rude 'cos his voice fell and he really seemed ready to cry)

SB: we will compensate you in your next bill, i am personally sorry, and...

MM: (cutting him of) i don't want the compens...

SB: (really scaredddly cutting me off ) can you please speak a little louder ma'am i can't hear you...

MM: no i will not speak louder cos i don't want to shout!

SB: yes, ma'am i also don't want you to shout please...

.... and this is the point, the point where i should have apologised to him for he sounded so penitent and sad and overwhelmed by my unnatural rudeness (in all modesty, i am not a rude person by nature and i think that my unreasonableness caught me as much by surprise as it did him), but as it is with mistakes, they're seldom alone, followed as they are with a second-in-command at their heels, and so it was with that i made a second, graver, one.

i hung up. and promptly wanted to cry. weep. actually, bawl like a four-year old who finds he can't have all the pop tarts he can possibly, even actually, eat.

so i called again. thrice. but the person(s) who answered didn't sound at all like the poor boy whose weekend i might have ruined, battering him as i did with a full-frontal assault by my PMSing alter-ego. so i hung up. thrice.

i'm sorry whoever you were. more than you'll know. more than i care to admit. and i hope you have a nice weekend. and i also thank you, for i have learnt two important things today:

that worse than our first mistake is the one that follows....

and that sometimes we shouldn't just hang up when we make a mistake, no matter how angry we are, for we might just end up discovering that the person at the other end of the line is long gone.....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Fundas...GoTSoT !!

TGIF. To celebrate my blog's self-designed, papppppi and kitschy new look (taaliyaan, taaliyaan...!!), and honour the first few comments that i have ever received (ahem!), and as a logical corollary (according to my warped sense of terminally ill-logic) of these historic developments, i hereby launch "Friday Fundas".

Though there was to be a ribbon cutting ceremony and all that, i couldn't get any Bollywood celebrities to endorse this space since they are all worried about the lack of Marathi subtitles in here.

So, here i go again, endorsement deprived and celebrity-less, and these are some more of my humbly rendered, and truly random, observations for the week gone by, and the one that will be:

  • Seat-belts have a hidden and loftier motive
And that is to keep you awake and alert while driving. Have you ever noticed how they dig into your skin, just around the collar, causing you immense grief by keeping you awake when all you want to do is nap while taking the India Gate circle, lulled as you are by the beauty of Lutyen's Delhi? AND they are so very obviously designed by men and for men, given the fact that guys have the option of tucking the offending strap under their shirt collar to avoid chafing. Besides which, they are significant contributors to road rage, making hormonally charged women into deadly weapons. I say, you want to get to the Pakis? Send in a bunch of PMSing women armed with seat belts and voila! we'll be sitting on all of Siachen in a week!

  • The sheen has come off the Pakistani cricketers' hair
Well, this has been a pet peeve for years. Years ago, when i used to give more than a damn about cricket, i dreamt of meeting Shahid Afridi of the roadside romeo locks, Rameez Raja of the trendy tresses, Imran Khan and Wasim Akram of the MBish overgrown curls tantalisingly brushing their sweaty collars, crowning their roguish appeal, and Shoaib Akhtar of the flying forelocks and Waqar Younis of the chic close cut only to ask them what shampoo they used! With the Americans not to happy with the Pakistanis these days, and with all that crap being collected on the embattled glacier that is cumulatively flowing down the Indus into our neighbours' showers, perhaps we have to be content with Ishaan's shaggy style statement now that Cap'n Dhoni has gone respectable. He gives the phrase "bad hair day" a parallel universe to exist in.

and now for a mini, "does-it-really-require-any-further-comment?" section called GoTSoT! (Gosh That's So True!): and this week it's the movies (& Bollywood rules!) -

  • If you reach late for a movie it will always begin on time, and vice-versa
  • The length of a movie is inversely proportional to the quality of its content
  • If the fakely-traded punches are evenly distributed, the fight will only end once the opponents discover they are long-lost brothers.
  • The less leg space there is in a movie theatre, the more are the chances of you being seated in a row of latecomers
  • If there are 3 heroines to 4 heroes, chances are one of the guys will die before the end
  • If the title begins with Kkkkk infinitum, then its definitely..... oh, sorry, that's the one a kindergarten kid told me
Which means its time to sign off with this:

there was this kid
who really liked milk
so he soaked his cookies in it
and then they tasted like silk

and then there was this girl
who liked to act like a boy
so she would cry like a baby
till her mommy bought her a toy

then there was this boy
who wanted to grow up smart
so he changed into a girl
and now with his baniyan must part

and finally there were these folks
who were fed up of working all week
so they told the boss they won't
and now are asking for bheekh

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Caution: Gents Ahead, Ladies Cursed

have you ever noticed how we girls always ONLY get the food menu when out with men? i mean, unless you go to a hardcore bar, where there is no food menu (a near-impossibility in a country obsessed with kuchh kabab-shabab with their sharaab) OR on a girls' night out, there is no way that the steward will give you a liquor menu. at best, he will delicately proffer you the 'wine list'. perhaps the unspoken gesture is his way of saying: "madam, only Sirji is allowed to make an ass of himself in our bar after a few drinks, and when we tire of him you must drive him home, for, hawwww, good girls only drink 'shandy' in public and brandy in bed".

and this is what Italians and Indians ALSO have in common. a few years sgo (in my young young days) at a restaurant in Brugge, this Italian patriarch refused (just REFUSED) to serve me grappa in his family-owned eatery, pampering me with everything but that wonderfully potent brew! i almost broke into his damn place at night just to gulp down every last drop of the garrullous granpa's grappa.

back home, after ordering a scotch on the rocks just to piss the pesky puritan off, you have to leave the bar at a 'decent time' to head home, often only to come head to head with the same parking dudes who were sniggering while you were trying to squeeze your little car in between two macho SUVs, the very same creeps who held a mini yajna praying for your failure to parallel park. hrrrmph! park you did, but also (in a very lady-like fashion) locked your keys inside (upon discovering which you cussed in a very un-ladylike fashion).

this was obviously done while basking in self-righteousness after re-writing Zen and the Perfect Parallel Park, a fact that was duly noted by the sniggering snakes to be savoured later, just after you curse and look for the elusive keys in your overcrowded handbag and just before they procure the magic futta to recover that damn piece of odd-shaped metal.

soon you're vrooming away. stopping at the first traffic signal on the way back home you might encounter pappoo sharma, guddu kapoor, chhotu varma, bunty singh, kittu nair, and babbal arora out on the town in sunny soni's mummyji's borrowed Mrrrooti 800, all of whom just can't get over the fact that "a ladiss is driving car at odd hour in a so so unsafe city like Delhi". after being gawked at by the goggle-eyed occupants of the overflowing gaddi, you shake your befuddled head only to encounter a grown up, drunken, lecherous and much more sinister version of the previous set.

points to remember here: skip the next light. don't try and slow down to a point where they may over take you, but don't drive fast enought to lead them on to believe you're a tease who wants to race. as you put on your most uninterested, dumb bimbette, i-can't-even-see-you expression, and sigh, you send a silent prayer up to heaven... to get you home safe and for someone who'd refuse these bastards a liquor list every once in a while!

phew! a few more skipped red lights and some clever driving not unknown to a woman, you crawl back home, vowing to drink only at lunch, safely sitting at your desk, OR take the office cab back on semi-adventurous night outs, OR buy a sleeping bag OR find more single friends who are willing to take you home in a doggy bag OR look for a former Mr Haryana to be your driver OR horror of horrors! become 10 again and not leave home after dusk!! oh, you could always pretend you are living in M. Night Shyamalan's (The) Village.

in fact, a colleague and i went out for a drink last night and while lazily strolling to our cars we wondered what it might be like to have a pub on the premises... imagine calling up and asking: "Hello, is this the Hadron Collider? yeah, could you please send up eleven pints of Kingfisher and some masala peanuts please?.... yes, that would be to the area with the important looking cluttered desks with a bunch of hard-working people emitting intell-type frequencies, poring over the fine print of political pandemonium.... oh, what the heck! just follow the hangover and you'll find it!"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

One two ka bore, four two ka none - PART I

i am in the process of developing a rating system for the future. trials are on to perfect it, so that i may be able to patent it by 2062 and buy that wheelchair that goes 55 miles per hour, runs on the calcium my bones lose everyday, stores the potty and and is eco-friendly for it is guided in the dark by my glow-in-the-dark dentures.

here are some early samples from the prototype stage. afraid that i can't share with you HOW my team (that would be my ego, id and super-ego) reached these wonderful conclusions (its still being developed, remember?).... so here goes, in ascending order (first the worst, last the best and all in between are a viper's nest) :

Openability of ketchup sachets
  • McDonald's (worst than their iced tea)
  • KFC (better than the veg meal..... hello WHAT is THAT?!)
  • Hall's (yeah, probably marketed by the lozenges guys to give you a raging sore throat which they can then cure)
  • Heinz (better, no teeth involved, and perhaps why the heir's hubby the toothless Kerry lost)
  • Our cafe's cottage industry by-products, tied in smelly polythene bags! (oh, pour some kaddu ketchup on me...)
Maximum Irritability from unwanted Song Hummability aka they-play-in-my-head-just-because-i-hate-them
  • Luuurcky boy, you're my luuurcky boy from Bachna... (unfortunate luck in topping charts, and kinda' growing on me now)
  • Umberrrelllaa ae ae eh by Rihanna (won't share this umbrella even in a nuclear storm!)
  • You're so beautiful (i'd risk being ugly, just to avoid being reminded by this song! really.)
  • Signaaaaal, pyaar ka signaaaaaal from some movie i've staked all on not to remember (just skip the traffic light, baby, and drive far far away from this one!)
Best gyaan written on backside (of Indian public transport, silly!)
  • Buri nazar wale tera bhee bhala (cho chweet. a regular Gandhian. turnin' the other butt cheek)
  • Hum do aur hamare do (acchha yaar, red aur blue wali teri, black aur white wali meri)
  • Dulhan hee dahej hai (aur jo yeh kahe woh sabsa tez hai!)
  • Latak mat, patak doongi (all-time personal favourite, a badass DTC babe)
Most irritating salesmen in Dilli
  • The dude who sells men's hankies in KB/SN/Janpath/LN etc etc. dunno, just bugs the shit out of me.. he's this little pest who sidles up to you, time and again, and sort of is your constant companion on every shopping trip, accompanied by the naara-wala and the aluminium foil seller.
  • The encyclopaedia man who is out offering highly "discounted" parallel education nonpareil and can be seen lurking where those who bunk school/work gather in large numbers, ie. multiplexes, near shoopping arcades)
  • The churan guy in Def Col. I mean, he got away with blackmailing me into buying (and then charitably distributing) stinky smelling stuff for years. he's old, and he hangs out till late catching satiated diners and weaving drunkards and sells his stuff by appealing to their wasteful habits which he feels should make natural room for just that one churan packet he has spent his golden old age in perfecting. i'm over the wily old wheedler now. tip: just DON'T make eye-contact.
  • A "women's delicates" salesman i had the distinct fortune of encountering during my own delicate teenage years, but who has left an indelible impact on my ...ummm... girly shopping.. forever! after lecherously telling me to feel the "sopt matrial" as demonstrated by his wandering fingers (yes, he did say "sopt"), he proceeded to look me up and down and advise me to buy a slutty pair as it would "look good", all this after stuffing cotton wool into a particularly hideous specimen to emphasise its ...ummm.. "generous" appeal. i hid behind my mom for years after that, and continue to glare even those saleswomen down who are only there to help me find that perfect fit! as you can see, i could go on and on for this one... i'm scarred for life.
and on that happy note, i must get back to work. watch this space for more, while i go back to my lab now that that other lab on the Franco-Swiss border has failed to end the world ... yet.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I spy with a jaundiced eye....

TGIF. and i have some random observations from the week that was, and will be, all over again, next week:

  • The parking situation here really stinks
you see, the parking lot behind our office has been dug up to make way for a space-age multi-level parking space, but due to the Indian timetable of doing things it is still growing sprouts, and so we all have to park and walk to office, which i avoid doing in the mornings, for i dread the fact that i would no longer be able to sashay past anyone with casual confidence, leaving a delicious trail of designer perfume behind which pales in comparison to the stuff that follows our fashion editor. yummy:) which is what i can't say for a lot of the others in this place. but why blame parking woes for all jammy toes, huh?

  • Autowallahs in Delhi want to go nowhere.
really. nowhere at all. SO, this one old Sardarji at the auto stand near where i park is always reading the newspaper (go literates!) in his auto and when i ask (almost daily, just in case i get lucky) he shakes his head morosely, almost as if he needs to be left alone to ponder all that plagues our sad sad world. so i say: "read on with some joy, Surdy Boy"! and then move to the next naysayer. i've tried naming different directions, just to see which one they prefer, but they really don't want to go anywhere these days. desperate i ask, "kyon bhaiyya, bathroom toh jana hai ? hain?" and walk ff in a huff till i find one who is apparently lost in CP and basically sees me as his paying ticket out. and that is that. maybe they're just escaping from the wifey back home. "chalo, ab chain se bidi piyoonga, ab ek aadh bewakoof sawari hee kafi hai kamane ke liye."

  • Indian men will risk probable castration, just to cross a damn road
look around you. there are new pedestrian subways, overbridges, underpasses and what not mushrooming all over the city but the Indian male is willing to risk his polyester trousers, life, limb and what might go worse than limp trying to acrobat his way across the forbidding fences to cross the road at forbidden points, while others wait impatiently to repeat the feat. for single friends who complain that the Indian male has lost his mojo, here you go, for now you know!

  • The entry door to our office floor is pink
That's the one you have to walk through if you take the stairs to our office level. well it's pink. yes, PINK. probably no big deal, i guess, but its new and i just noticed last night. does the contractor realise he's a dude? oh, sorry, i promised not to be too sexist today!

  • Today is Teacher's Day (valid for today only)
just to mark the occasion, i have to say that i terribly miss Teacher's Day in school. we kids would wear the pretend mantle of authority and take classes to ease a half-day burden for the harried masses. My hat's off to them all, for they did a splendid job for the rest of the year (while we always, always messed the sideshow up!).

  • Salaries always suck
so yeah, sometimes, i complain. at most other times, i'm too busy listening to others grouch. i have that effect on people. and now, as i must leave for my daily meeting, a point to ponder: how might that idea work if the above applied to our work places. boss a bit over the bosses, eh? they teach us a lot of good stuff too, no? dunno about you sparky, but i could do with giving myself a raise ;)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Patience, now!

A fortnight after yet another Independence Day is as good a time as any for us to reflect on why we, as a nation, are progressively losing our patience. Let's face it; it's a highly infectious national disease that afflicts us all. For we are increasingly snapping our fingers at attendants in parking lots and restaurants, jostling our way past haphazard queues, cursing at slow internet connections, and beating down the doors for our next job in the fast lane.

So while we ask our yoga instructors for instant tummy tucks, we’re still not satisfied with the speed at which we get our Big Macs. We wrestle the rush hour traffic in a murderous hurry to get to work, only to begin clicking our tongues and the keyboard in a hysterical bid to meet our deadlines and be on our way to curse, honk and swerve some more on our way back home. We want to get married, have the requisite one point two offspring, but are seldom loath to invest more time in them than it takes to microwave a pizza for dinner.

What’s deeply disturbing is that these are mere symptoms of a national malaise, plaguing the highest echelons of the powers that be. Take, for example, our cricket selectors, who impatiently churn out lists ad nauseum of probables, ever eager to punish a sloppy day at the crease by months of penitence at the benches, instead of finding out whether it was just a bad day for a budding national hero. Or, better still, our netas, who, when faced with a potentially embarrassing political situation, are quick to rearrange the administrative jigsaw – as if that would somehow produce the miraculous permutation required to crack the riddle of missing funds, unsolved murders and crumbling infrastructure – instead of patiently unraveling decades of neglect.

All of this I find most acutely reflected in my daily nemesis, that psychotic driver, with his palm glued to the horn, frantically trying to squeeze past my car to get a few feet closer to the traffic signal that is good-naturedly glowing red. Frankly, while trying to pause in a world whizzing past on some kind of jagged video in fast forward mode, I feel like I'm kind of watching a barking Pomeranian dog going round in frenzied circles, desperately trying to catch its tail!

In our last-minute hurry, and empowered with broadening bandwidths and shortening fuses, we’re hurtling headlong to join the rest of the world that is fast losing patience with us. Tragically, we seem to have forgotten that it was the infinite endurance of a forgotten few that slowly wore off the patience of the English sahebs, till that stiff upper lip wobbled enough to give us cause to celebrate the 15th of August.