Eternal Brain Dumps of the Spotless Minds!!!

Disclaimer: The following is a result of 2 out-of-whack, idiosyncratic & downright sanity-deprived friends from different hemispheres sharing a common love for procrastination-inspired, joblessness-led & a mutual liking for convoluted thoughts. Please do read without any serious expectation of a worthy prose of intellectual underpinnings. Good luck!!

Professionals that SHOULD NOT have a sense of humour while working:

1. A surgeon
2. A Lift operator
3. A fashion photographer giving final touches to a client’s pics
4. Gynaecologists: jokers who were ex-cons
5. Psychologists
6. Undertakers
‎7. Boob-reduction plastic surgeon. (I don’t see any humour in this one!)
‎8. Negotiators for Israel and Palestine
‎9. The janitor at the American President’s office
‎10. Waitress at a comedy show

The top 12 places/situations when you should NOT smile –
1. At a funeral
2. Right before entering a court room in a tense situation
‎3. When you hear your wife is having twins but only one of them is yours!
‎4. When a girl you like says “I love you…” and ends with saying “…your brother”
‎5. When you use a pick-up line on a girl right before her Arnold-sized boyfriend walks in
‎6. When you haven’t met your sales targets and your boss calls you in his cabin
‎7. When the pilot suddenly announces May-Day and he is trying to do an Emergency landing
‎8. When the pool-boy comes over and you know you don’t have a pool
9. When your wife is in labor and you are rushing her to the hospital only to have the car go out of gas!!!
10. It’s a Friday afternoon, you plan to leave office but the rest of the colleagues still have to stay back to finish your half-done work
‎11.You see a pic of urself when you were a child tagged by your mom, and you smile, only then to realize you were forced to wear what looks like a dress!

12. WHEN IN A MALL WITH THE MISSUS & SHE REMINDS YOU ABOUT FORGETTING TO WISH ON HER B’DAY & YOU ARE JUST CROSSING THE LOUIS VUITTON STORE!!

Title courtesy & other contributions: Vije Vijendranath.

The HAIR Identity: MELTDOWN Begins.

Circa the 80’s. An era of abundant hair…
Of thick manes, oh what a love affair
Stroking fingers, you stayed firmly rooted
Must have been an angel’s gift, feeling abluted!

In the wonder years, what an asset you were,
Working as my accomplice, together to persevere…
To win attention, oh you made it so easy,
Just a toss here, a flick there, bingo! she had to see!!

As age beckoned, so did stress…
Tried every treatment no more, no less
You hung on, like a faithful friend
Fighting back, till the very end

And then when I touched you,
It felt you were still there,
But upon taking a closer look,
On the ground, you appeared somewhere

Gone are the days now,
When the barber down the lane
Would know I would visit him
Only to show-off my glorious mane

As the world debate rages on,
for who’s responsible for the global meltdown
I resign to my bed, silently at night…
With my sadistic scalp reflecting the moonlight…


Coming soon –

The HAIR Supremacy: A CLOSE Shave.

The HAIR Ultimatum: The BALD Truth!

SMILE UNLIMITED!!

My Dentist. Well, not the real one ofcourse…

I have never seen a needle that big. Or maybe it appears so given the background flood light shining right on my face, exposing every expression, every crease on my forehead signalling the increasing levels of stress. Oh and blinding too! But wait. That’s not all. There is one more light source. A small, but powerful beam, emanating from a bulb, right at the centre of his reading glasses perched dangerously on the ridge of his nose. I am confused. Should I worry more about that bulb sliding down & into my gaping mouth? Or that needle which seems to be the size of a rhino horn drawing menacingly closer. As a timid kid shying away from the bully at school, I just close my eyes, ready for that rush of swarming pain, hoping it gets over soon.

Not Yet. The doctor pauses. I am waiting for my destiny. But nothing happens. I slowly open my eyes to see what’s going on. And there they are. 2 huge eyeballs! Magnified 10 times by the spectacles in front of them. And that blinding light beam. Looking intently towards me. Trying to look through my soul and absolve me of my sins. But not really. The doctor is merely marking his territory. He wants to get it right the first time. Appreciate that. Afterall, no one wants to be injected in the mouth… twice!!!

And then it happens. Almost taking me by surprise. With my eyes still open :(. That giant needle just appears out of nowhere! Marches straight inside my mouth. My heart skips a beat as the needle draws first blood! What starts off as a prick soon transforms into a tsunami of pain as I feel the pressure. But thankfully, it lasts but a few seconds. As the needle withdraws, I can see a certain sense of pride on it’s tip, almost mocking me. Making me feel helpless & vulnerable towards accepting it’s supremacy. Soon, the anaesthesia kicks in as I lose sensation on my lower lip. I slip into my cocoon. Hoping I won’t feel a thing of whats gonna happen next…

What happened next!!

With eyes firmly shut, I still see a halo around me. And occasionally a few shadows of objects floating past. The doctor keeps murmuring to his assistant. Who seems to be rather quiet with a somewhat serene demeanour. And then it begins. The moment that I have been dreading for weeks now. As one instrument after another marches in my mouth looking to conquer all. I keep my eyes closed, my prayers soft, my screams inaudible…

Oh wait!! I can feel that tooth… My nemesis!! Falling in this epic battle of mind over matter. Where it leaves no stone unturned to cause pain & misery for weeks. Finally, yields in front of the army of instruments. It stands no chance :). But it sure puts up a brave fight! Respect… It does not go down quietly. On its way out, it pops the cap of the tooth in front!! Damn. And it leaves a gaping hole behind. Like the blitzkrieg of German soldiers in WW2 retreating from their forward positions & burning everything behind them. Ok. Maybe not that bad. But then getting stitches inside of the mouth ain’t an everyday affair. Not for me!! Hell NO!

Asta la Vista… Toothsie!!

The doctor, all this while, working incessantly towards conquering my enemy, now appears less hostile. I realize his contribution in this war. He keeps talking to me. Giving me updates like a faithful general to his king. Telling me how much progress he has made against the enemy. With the occasional murmur to his assistant. And all his weapons of enamel destruction!! Oh how I love them. Scary as they sound (There was a drill machine involved too!!). Some even laid down their lives for this noble cause. (Apparently, one of the mirrors broke during this epic war!!). A few seconds of silence observed in it’s honor.

In what seems to be a struggle going on for eternity, after around an hour, the doctor proclaims victory. He proudly holds the carcass of my enemy in his forceps, showing off his bravado & unparalleled combat skills. I slowly open my eyes. For the first time in weeks, I open my eyes with hope. That the worst is over. That the enemy is defeated. That the decayed tooth has finally come out. Time now to salvage the situation. The doctor quickly gets back to attend the wounded gums. Ah yes, the poor gums. Who stood silently watching the horror unfold. The doctor quickly stitches them up. Conceals the wound. With a re-assuring dab of cotton soaked in beta-dine to nurture their wounds. My heart goes out to you – O mighty gums of the lower left jaw!

Its celebration time! But not so soon. As the saying goes- every cloud has a silver lining. Well, the converse is true just the same 😦 . Time to pay up. A whopping sum! (Actual sum undisclosed to protect the doctor from Income Tax issues). Its after seeing the bill, that I realize, perhaps, it would have been better to have followed Tom Hank’s footsteps from the movie Cast Away. It may not have resulted in a SMILE all the same, but at least I would be happy knowing that it’s not the doctor SMILING all the way to the bank…

In pursuit of MY Happyness

Every passing minute, is another chance to turn it all around.

What an incredible journey of self-awakening it has been. Every breath, every step, every turn, every fall. And yet, the timeless memoirs of a fulfilled life fade away into oblivion as destiny mocks me in my face. A never-ending precursor to a life where every indulgence awaits me like the gleaming doors of heaven. Only to blind me from the truth. That the journey is never really meant to end. For every “success”,  there are ten more in sight, yet to be pursued, yet to be conquered, yet to be happy.

In each phase of life, I always looked forward to the coming tomorrow knowing what would make me truly happy. But when tomorrow came, & fulfilled its promise as well, I wasn’t still really happy. Well, maybe for the moment, yes. But something somewhere seemed amiss. Something which I felt could have been there. Perhaps it was there, only if my eyes could settle down to enjoy the moment in its presence rather than yearn to make it better than what it was already. & most of us invariably do the same thing. Keep looking for that something better. & it is such a wild goose chase that we are involved in, we seldom appreciate what our present has to offer to us.

It is not over yet. The journey is still long. The wheel is still spinning. Fortunes will still be made. Paradise will still be gained, & lost as well. My happyness cannot be relative. It must be absolute, independent of the world around me. With little regard to others’ success. A personal barometer, constantly acting as a reality check of my present state of “happyness”.

As a great ol’ urdu saying goes –

“Har kissi koh mukkammal jahan nahi milta…

kissi koh zameen, kiisi koh aasmaan nahi milta…”

In the literal sense, it means – You get not all as life goes by. Some not the land, some not the sky.

I hope, someday, I will prove it wrong.

But then… should I?

Democratic Dictatorship: Indians v/s India

Come August 15th, (India’s Independence from colonial imperialism from the British in 1947), Indians (at least a handful of them) are yet again setting up the stage for another showdown. Yet again, it is against a common public enemy, although this time, the “enemy” aint no outsider. But India itself. Or at least it’s government & the constitution (which I feel is, arguably, representative enough of a nation)

Over the past year or so, India (& its various institutions) has been under fire from all quarters –

1. The government, for abusing its powers to no end with one scam after another surfacing like potholes in monsoons.

2. The bureaucracy, for silently spreading corruption deep into the very fabric of democratic processes which were essentially the reason why we threw out the British in the first place.

3. The media, for it’s drama-like portrayal of public issues and its unacceptable political polarization inevitably leading to skewed opinions and further fueling public outrage.

And then comes along a man, white clothes draped, a white cap adorning his balding head, hands folded in humility to represent an image cognizant of the “aam aadmi”. Mr. Anna Hazare. A man, who has over time achieved almost the impossible. Common public acceptance of his ideals and methods. Playing on popular consciousness, Anna is well-intentioned, but ill-informed –  and in his recent campaign against corruption, least about public policy and the democratic process.

He is a fantastic crowd-leader, one who captures mass imagination through his self-restrained acts based on gandhian principles which are irrefutable in India. So, here we are again… in the 21st century…. still resorting to out-dated methods of expressing public discontent. For sure one might still argue their relevance, and rightly so. But I have serious doubts on the outcomes of such acts in current times.

But coming back to Anna’s recent agitation against corruption, his intent is well understood and accepted. But the civil society that he represents seems adamant to bring the government down to it’s knees. Such blatant and thoughtless badgering of the very institution which has kept this totally diverse and chaotic country still together is only reflective of  the myopic vision which plagues the civil society. Media plays a role in endorsing the civil society un-challenged instead of acting as a transparent and un-biased medium and thus discharging one of the most fundamental democratic provisions of free speech.

For starters, the civil society’s demands in the Jan Lokpal Bill are more emotional than rational. I am willing to bet that not a very significant % of the population even knows what the Bill entails and what its implications will be. The civil society is acting like a bollywood hero who promises justice to the down-trodden and exploited masses against the rich.

The entire stand-off between the civil society (who behaves like the self-appointed messiah of the masses) and the government (alienated by the very people they are supposed to represent) is fundamentally on the issue of corruption.  It is only sensible to spend a few minutes here to delve deeper in this concept itself. Firstly, the word is poorly defined and lacks scientific rigor while being assessed. Bribery is by far the largest indicator of corruption. And politicians, by default, are assumed to be corrupt. Much in contrast to the judicial approach to any case- innocent until proven guilty. Politicians today are stereotyped as the messengers of evil and accused of self-aggrandizement of public wealth.

And that stereotype is the key motivator behind Anna’s and his civil society’s agitation. The eroding public wealth in light of the recent scams has dealt a severe blow to public trust in the government. Such angst & discontent is very likely to over-ride logic and reason – the basis for any public policy debate in a democracy. And that is exactly whats happening in the context of the Lokpal bill standoff.

What the civil society proposes is to setup an independent ombudsman with (literally) un-limited investigative and executive powers capable of bringing the entire public services setup of the country down in a single sweep. This bears scary resemblance to a dictatorial setup of government. In essence, the civil society proposes a dictatorial form of democracy. Where democratic principles are “enforced” out of fear of persecution rather than “embraced” out of free will. The civil society is unsure on how to govern this governing body itself and prevent it’s own structure from being infected by corruption. They give loose suggestions at best to tackle the issue of governing the watch-dog.

While I don’t patronize the government here, nor allow them any opportunity to redeem themselves from their indiscretions, I still believe in the democratic processes that mark the very identity of India’s democracy. Being the size that we are, given the diversity we reflect in our cultures, one must not forget the role of these government institutions in keeping the country from falling apart & drive its economic growth. Public policy in a Democracy needs time. And it must have that to be able to deliver results.

So, on the coming 15th August, when Anna sits on his well-campaigned fast-unto-death against corruption, I hope that he doesn’t misguide the massive public support he enjoys in the wrong direction and lead them to demand, what I call, a Democratic Dictatorship. Fingers crossed.

I’m an Indian & WE ARE LIKE THAT ONLY!

I spend 500 bucks on a grand buffet without blinking an eye, but then, I will bargain for 5 bucks with the auto-driver… Yep, I’m an Indian & WE ARE LIKE THAT ONLY!

I treat a girl I met a few months back in a 5-star restaurant, but then, I will treat my childhood buddies for only a vadaa pav & a cutting chai… Yep, I’m an Indian & WE ARE LIKE THAT ONLY!

I drive an expensive car with latest features like on-board GPS, Bluetooth enabled integrated speakers etc, but then, I will find the cheapest mechanic to service the brakes… Yep, I’m an Indian & WE ARE LIKE THAT ONLY!

I hate all the reservations in the Indian Education System and complain about it all the time, but then, I myself get forged “Creamy Layer” & “OBC” certificates made to gain admissions… Yep, I’m an Indian & WE ARE LIKE THAT ONLY!

I loathe at corrupt politicians making tons of black money & express my open support to social activists, but then, I will ask my supplier to avoid making a formal invoice so that I can save the 14% government tax & convert the entire invoice amount in black… Yep, I’m an Indian & WE ARE LIKE THAT ONLY!

I expect honesty from the government in all their dealings, but then, I will submit false rent receipts to claim House Rent Allowance to avoid Income Tax… Yep, I’m an Indian & WE ARE LIKE THAT ONLY!

I feel like running over all those maniac pedestrians on the street who think their “fathers own the road” (Tere baap ka road hai kya??), but then, I will look with absolute contempt to that a**hole car-owner trying to speed through a crowded street (Badde baap ki aulaad hai kya?)… Yep, I’m an Indian & WE ARE LIKE THAT ONLY!

I curse the idiot at the check-out counter of the store for taking so long, but I will scorn at the ‘impatient a**hole’ behind me when I’m at the counter myself… Yep, I’m an Indian & WE ARE LIKE THAT ONLY!

I only eat at Italian, Chinese, Mexican, American cuisine restaurants in India, but then, I will carry bags full of Indian spices when going to these same countries … Yep, I’m an Indian & WE ARE LIKE THAT ONLY!

I take pride in my “modern” & “western” up-bringing with parents who “encouraged” me to talk in English since childhood, but then, I will still touch my grand-parents feet & visit the temple/church/mosque on all religious occasions… Yep, I’m an Indian & WE ARE LIKE THAT ONLY!

Above all, I may hate a lot many things about India (and Indians)… be it the corrupt government, bad roads, poor infrastructure, exorbitant fuel prices, unruly crowds, cheating shopkeepers et al, but my blood will boil at the slightest abuse of my country(and my countrymen) by any foreigner!

Yep, I AM an Indian &…

WE ARE LIKE THAT ONLY!!!

NAAMASTHEY INDEEYYAAAH!!

It is indeed an amusing sight to watch an “I-am-an-all-American-American” greet a fellow passenger who happens to be, well, Indian! Unless the American got confused between an Indian, a Pakistani or even a Bangladeshi, considering we all (almost) look the same. Now, we wouldn’t want that confusion, would we? 😉

So this Indian, politely (as dictated by his culture) returns the greeting by a simple –Heyllo Mr. John from Ameyrika! It is indeed very nice to meet you too!! (are you getting the Indian accent here? I hope you are!) From generations, Indians always find it honorable for a white man to greet them and so they must return the greeting (Ok, I may be taking it over the edge here, it’s probably no real big deal to be greeted by a stranger in a flight sitting right next to you).

So, here we go. What possibly could an American and an Indian talk about? Obviously, our CULTURES (Or whatever there is left of it thanks to Justin Beiber). But not this American, & DEFINITELY not this Indian. These two both have travelled extensively, difference being, they both have travelled the other’s country! The American has been to almost every state in Southern and Western India (even the country-side) while the Indian boasts about his knowledge of the “United States of America” 🙂

But this post is not about the Indian incursion of the American society (there are countless other cross-over blogs & write-ups for that). Instead, this post is an account of a 9-hour flight sitting next to an American who has come close, very close, to understand India (& Indians), maybe more than what we Indians understand ourselves.

His journey to India began 10 years back when he entered the world of I.T. India being the “Mecca” of I.T no one worth his salt in the I.T world can avoid at least 1 pilgrimage to India. But his work has taken him far beyond the chaos of the Indian I.T cities into the heart of the country – the villages! His experiences with people from every walk of (Indian) life have taught him a great deal (We could probably confer the title of “Indian Connoisseur” on him). Much beyond the now popular Indian head wobble (shaking the head sideways to express acknowledgement is one of the most popular traits of Indians), this American has come to realize why doing business in India is more insurmountable a challenge than sending man on moon (or did we? Well, that’s a different controversy altogether!).

On one of his trips to the villages of Kerala, where he was working with the local healthcare department of the health ministry to promote awareness of hygiene, he planned to conduct a series of seminars (the classic American style baby!!!) Only to realize post a few months, that none of the suggestions were getting implemented! Flummoxed, he tried very hard to understand his failure. Not one to give up, he summoned his Indian counterpart for a meeting. During a lunch break, his Indian colleague gets a phone call from his wife. She is complaining to him about their kid fidgeting with the brand new rice cooker delivered a few days back. The husband asks the wife to keep the kid away and immediately summon the local technician to “install” and “demo” the cooker. Hearing this conversation, the American can’t help but realize why his strategy didn’t work earlier. He asked the Indian on why he insisted on getting a technician for a demo for something as simple as a rice-cooker! Being engineers, shouldn’t he be doing it himself reading the manuals?

The response he got was his “Eureka” moment. He stumbled upon one of the most fundamental of Indian consumer traits. “Why do it yourself when you can get someone else to do it for you real cheap?“ He then set out to hold small “demos” in all local clinics. While this took considerable time, the results he achieved were beyond his own imagination!

On yet another such trip in the hinterlands of Madhya Pradesh, he closely observed the difference in the way organizations are structured in India as compared to the West. While in the west, a junior executive can directly voice his/her opinion to the senior management w/o any fear, in India, the juniors wouldn’t even as much as sit on the same table as their seniors! The American was increasingly bemused by this behavior and had to struggle to break these “hierarchical barriers”. Being “white” helped as all Indians, regardless of their position on the corporate food chain, respect a white man’s words like a gospel truth! But it wasn’t without a lot of (oh and it was a lot!) effort to get the “Seniors” share the same table as their “Juniors”.

With each such experience (there are many more) the American got more “Indian-ized”. He also crossed one of the most treacherous paths in India; that of regional divide – where North Indians prefer to keep a distance from their traditional counterparts in South India. He now boasts of knowing how to describe India to his friends back home. A country where pre-disposed dogmas & superstitions can literally stall a business deal, where “do-it-yourself” is un-heard of, but where people can be very welcoming to a foreigner, deftly camouflaging their strong under-currents of regional disagreements.

In the midst of the discussion, both the Indian & the American are rudely interrupted by a voice – an announcement on the arrival at the destination. But the word “destination” is such an oxymoron for these two. For their journeys in to the other’s world are far from over. Maybe the Indian has similar stories to share of his experiences with the American society…

As of now, they both fasten their seatbelts as the flight approaches final landing. The temperature outside is 55 deg F with a clear blue sky. Hope they had a good time flying with the airline & here’s wishing them a pleasant stay…