Woody Allen writes in one of his books "Side Effects":
Q: How long should a man's legs be?
A: Long enough to reach the ground!

I had not laughed that hard while reading something in a while. Had planned to write a post on "Annie Hall". Did not have any time off late. Will do soon. Hopefully!

SMS

At the lunch table last friday, a colleague's mobile beeped. Twee Twee SMS. He picked up his mobile and read out the message:
"Hey buddy, I am planning to throw a party to all my friends tonight. Please attend it without fail. Venue Taj Hotel".
A few of them laugh.
I feel sick.

Huh, it was a really really long time, wasn't it? Well, it was the longest stretch of time where I did not get any idea to write. It finally took the Bangalore-Mysore highway to get me to write. And of course, I was getting "lot" of request to resume blogging too. "Lot" does not mean lot of people. It was lot of request from a single person - my wife!

Disclaimer: This is not a travelogue in the true sense of word. As always, its highly unstructured, deeply personal and hardly useful.

Driving on the Bangalore - Mysore highway is always a very intimate experience for me. It holds a thousand memories, its a meditative sort of journey which had helped me clear up my muddled thought process many a times in the past. It is here where I used to get the ideas for many of my earlier posts. I will just write about some random things that come up to my mind when I travel here.

Bangalore
"How long does it take to drive from Bangalore to Mysore?". You can never answer that question without throwing back another question - "You mean, from home or from the outskirts?". Well, that my friends, is Bangalore. The city I now call home. The city that has given me so much. The city which dares you not to feel strongly about it. And makes you fail miserably at that. The city thats irresistible in spite of all the frustrations it gifts you. As the cliche goes, you can love it, you can hate it, but you cannot ignore it.

Kengeri
Its not over till you are out of Kengeri. You never feel like you are out of Bangalore till you take those serpentine turns at the hopelessly laid traffic barricades here. To me, Kengeri is just the border of Bangalore, which you have to cross to enjoy the sheer joy of the highway ride ahead.

Bidadi
There are some places you love and some you hate. The others, like Bidadi, you dont give a damn. You dont even have an opinion. Even after all these years, passing by it hundreds of times, I cannot make one additional statement after I finish saying "Bidadi is an industrial town". You cannot love it, you cannot hate it, so you definitely have to ignore it.

Ramanagara
The most lovely stretch of straight road where you can almost reach 140k, takes you to the rocky hill town. The "Ghousia Engineering College" reminds you that a third of the journey is over. I wonder if there is a way to reach the top of the rocky hills, but my laziness never takes me any further than that little imagination. These rocky mountains never fail to amaze me, I simply love them. I have seen many a beautiful sunsets here. The greed for granite is slowly destroying what was once a safe abode of Gabbar. It reminds me of Jai and Veeru. The most famous coin in the history of Indian cinema. I wonder if the rock where Sambha used to sit is still there. My heart bleeds more for those rocks than all the trees they cut in Bangalore. Give man a little sense and momma nature a hundred years, you can get back all that greenery. But can you ever bring those beautiful rocky hills back? Strange thing this - while manmade items can be easily recreated, natural living things can be regenerated with some effort, natural lifeless things are almost impossible to get back!

Channapatna
Channapattana. The toy town. A myriad non-vegetarian hotels, garages and toy stores greet you to this city. The roadside "Bindaas family garden dhaba", "Kuri koli mudde oota" on one side and the swanky Coffee Day on the other. Very symbolic - two drastically different Indias, co-existing effortlessly.

Maddur

Gejjalagere marks the exact midpoint in the Bangalore-Mysore journey. Its again one of the names I love, I just like the way it sounds.
The city of Maddur is the only stretch to have the 6 lane roads. A bunch of interspersed political hoardings make the otherwise breathtaking landscape seem ugly. The land of Maddur vade. A minor deviation off the highway will take you to an obscure lake called "Thailoor Kere". (Note to self - I need to visit that lake again) I had serendipitously discovered it a few years back when there was a road blockage on the highway thanks to some politician's paadayatra. Shivapura here has a "Satygraha Smaraka Bhavana". I wonder if it has any significance to the freedom struggle. But again, my laziness gets the better of my curiosity.

Mandya
Its all green on the way to Mandya. From the lush green fields - green ranging from 'Liril green' to the 'Madhuri-Dixit-in-Maar-Daala' green, farmers wearing green shawl on their dusty white clothes, to the money - its all green here. The political hoardings are even frequent and the cutouts of movie stars are gigantic. The five minute journey that takes you to get out of the city is the least enjoyable experience post-Kengeri. Yes, the second third of the journey is over.

Srirangapattana
One of the towns that reminds me of the British. Not so much because of Tippu Sultan. But for the way they killed the beautiful tongue twisting names of so many towns and cities in India. Seringapattam, my foot. To me, it would always be Srirangapattana. There is a santhe every saturday I guess. Just 20 mins away from Mysore, from the fun forts, from the Infy and from the Brigade apartments. What a contrast. Yes sir, this is how we do the business here. Just before you reach Srirangapatna, you can always see me smile. Its because of this small village called "K Shettihalli". Its perhaps the only village to have an initial. Kallashettihalli, kullashettihalli, anything would be fine. But, K Shettihalli is definitely a haha material.

Mysore
The "underground temple" at Siddhalingapura makes me feel I am "almost there". There is an old temple just before we reach Mysore, which looks so beautiful from the outside. (Note to self - I need to...) I love old temples - they will be very charming, like old Italian black and white movies. The road having the Mysore exhibition and Mysore palace on either side makes me feel I am home. Mysore Palace - you might have seen it fully lit. But, you got to watch it at midnight with minimal lighting to appreciate the real beauty of it. The lights at the steps of Chamundi hills form a lovely "Y" on a new moon day while the hills form a faint silhouette. Mysore, which never evokes very strong feelings in you, perhaps the reason why people find it serene and relaxing to be there. Mysore, which used to be home, which still makes me feel home whenever I am there. Mysore, where I may never go back to settle. Yet, Mysore, which will always be there in that sentence "Basically I am from..."

Conversations

Terrorist (to his wife): Honey, I am going out for lunch with a few friends.
Wife: Okay fine. So you dont need your "tiffin box" today?

******

Terrorist in Delhi (TiD) calls his friend Terrorist in Chennai (TiC)
TiD: Hows you dude? How was the weekend?
TiC: Pretty boring machcha. Did nothing. Stayed home all day. How was your weekend?
TiD: Awesome. We had a blast!

In Bangalore Mirror

One of my blog posts has been featured in today's edition of Bangalore Mirror.

http://www.bangaloremirror.com/index.aspx?page=article&sectid=21&contentid=20080918200809181857294071e48f63f&sectxslt=

Birthday Parties

The biggest change in the transition from your mid-twenties to the wrong side of twenties is the exponential increase in the invitations to kids' birthday parties. If you were born during the seventies-eighties like me, I can bet most of you would not have celebrated your birthdays as a kid. Celebration, as it is known today.

When I was a kid, mom would make bisi bele bath, curd rice, some sweet and invite a few relatives over to breakfast or dinner. "Mane maTTige" was the mantra then. The old people would bless me with vidya, buddhi, ayassu, arogya, aishwarya - all combined together did not make much difference to my happiness as lets say a Lacto King candy did then. The not-so-old ones would gift a pen set - an ink and a dot pen - with a clearer instruction - "You should study well and get good marks". Go to school, the class teacher would announce that you were the birthday kid. Yes, we could wear "color dress" when mere mortals suffered in their hapless uniforms. The class would quickly sing a "Happy Birthday" with the hope that you would have got some candies for them (small candies mind you, not a chocolate bar!) in that bag overloaded with books. Best friends were privileged to get two candies. End of party, birthday over! Back to homework in the evening.

Twenty years is a long time, I tell you. Now, celebration has to be in a party hall! Make the poor helpless kids wear conical birthday hats (or is it comical birthday hats?). The birthday cake is generously sprinkled with the bits of shiny paper from inside the bursting balloons. Photos, videos et al. As far as I know, this will not stop after the kid's first birthday party. You see parents celebrating their kids' 2nd, 3rd, 4th birthday in *.Sagar party hall. I am a lil curious here, when would they stop celebrating a kid's birthday at a party hall? 5th birthday? 10? 20? I dont know, young parents should tell me!

Lets say you decide to stop after age 5, you have no idea how depressing it could be for the child. The kid will start wondering why their parents stopped celebrating his birthday from this year, if they dont love him anymore etc. etc. Imagine your kid in class two. His friends would come up to him and ask - "Hey, how come you have not uploaded your birthday videos to YouTube yet? Internet down still?". Believe me, even the strongest kid will find it mightly traumatic to answer a question like that.

In order to make sure the kid wont feel that way, you will never stop celebrating. I can clearly visualize a 2030 bidaai scene where the father would tell his son in law - "Please take good care of my daughter. She is the apple of our eyes, orange of our noses etc. etc. And we have been celebrating her birthday from the last 24 years, dont ever miss celebrating her birthday every year in New Shanti Sagar." [Note: New Shanti Sagar was opened in 1998]

Go a little further in time. Circa 2050. A conversation will sound like this - "Do you know any good party halls in town? We are trying to book one for our grand mother's birthday. We are not finding any. She will be heart broken if we dont find one in time".

New Shanti Sagar will come up with a Lifetime Party Hall Membership Card for birthday celebrations (People born on Feb 29th can avail 70% discount, please hurry!) You might get a call from an unknown number during a very busy project meeting, you pick the call and the caller would say - "Hello sir, we are calling from New Shanti Sagar, we are offering you a Lifetime Gold Party Hall Membership Card. No activation charges, sir. Not interested? Okay sir, thank you, sir. Have a good day".

Independence Day

The traffic signals are abuzz with hawkers selling cheap plastic flags.
No one sells the yellow cleaning clothes this week. Metal badges of the tricolor are the flavor.

I am sure Pat Pat Pataaki Pallavi, Huchch Huchch Harsha and their ilk will have some stupid quiz on the radio as usual.
Sample - when did India get independence?
Option A: 3167 BC, B: 712 BC, C: 1947 AD. Send an SMS to *** and win goody bags.

That imbecile orkut acquaintance of yours will send that old forward, which you would have read at least a hundred times - dont we all know now that 36% of the NASA scientists are Indians and 38% of Microsoft employees are Indians? Dont be too surprised if you find Abhinav Bindra added towards the end of the mail - with a mismatched font.

The whole nation feels a sudden surge in patriotism this week thanks to Bindra. Majority of them (including me) who had no clue what a 10m Air Rifle means vigorously google it out to know what the hell that is - to avoid looking stupid if this topic comes up during coffee time conversations. As usual, everyone will start blaming cricket for anything wrong with any other sports in India.

Come next week, hawkers will be back to selling yellow cleaning clothes. And we will resume discussing if Sachin should retire or not.

Remember the baddies in movies of yesteryear who would tie up the old rich man and threaten him of dire consequences if he did not offer that "one signature" so that they can get the possession of his bungalow, car, factories, properties, his undergarments etc? How simple were those times! Nowadays even for a simple home loan, the bank guys insist you to sign in at least fifty places. No wonder the recent movies have no baddies who ask for that "one signature". I am sometimes happy that such naivety in Indian movies is gone. But, I sometimes miss the stupid charm of such scenes!

***

Another major improvement in Indian cinema is the disappearance of the "poor hero". I dont think there is any other country which glorified and celebrated poverty as much as we did. In the old movies, the poor guy is a honest 'paapa' person. And rich guy is evil. Almost always. The reality is, a poor guy need not always be the one who was cheated by the evil guy. He could a person who is lazy, or one who blows off all that he earns on gambling and drinking. A rich guy need not always be the one who exploits the poor, he could be one who earned money by working hard and being smart. Alwa? The common dialogue in the old movies are "I have no dhana, but I have guna". The sheer contempt they exhibit towards dhana is so meaningless. Just like that forward which said - "Money can buy you mattress, but not sleep". What they forget is that comfortable mattress and sleep are not mutually exclusive. If you are cursed with sleeplessness, dont you think its better to suffer lying on a comfortable mattress? This chee-cheeing of money has gone of late. Thankfully!

***

Indian movies have become "bigger and bolder" over the years. Read it as more budget and less costume. But, the interesting thing is that even now, all the lovemaking scenes are accompanied by songs or background music. Not sure if censors object to moaning in Indian cinema. Well, I think I am having high expectations. We are yet to have a comfortable kissing scene in Indian cinema and I am asking for much more. Remember the Vidya Balan - Madhavan kiss from "Guru"? Thinking of it always makes me laugh. You could easily finish a Tower of Hanoi puzzle with 6 discs by the time they searched for each others' lips. I think Madhavan might have felt that Vidya Balan's big nose was too much of an obstacle :)

***

I dont know if you have been in such an argument, but I always have the knack of finding that Some Other Person (SOP) for such an argument.
SOP: I dont like Dr. Rajkumar. He is not a nice person.
Me: Why do you say that?
SOP: Because he has done nothing for the people.
Me: Means?
SOP: Look at Rajnikanth, he gifts autos to his fans. Chiranjeevi also gives a lot to his fans. What has Rajkumar done to his fans?
Me: Why should he?
SOP: (with a perplexed look) What do you mean why? He is what he is because of the love of the people. He should do something for the people.
Me: You got it all wrong. The thing is he is an actor, thats his profession. People like his acting, they see his movies, he is popular. Thats it. People pay up to see what they like. Would you expect a very famous money-making blogger to donate something to his readers because he is what he is due to his readers? Ridiculous! So, if someone has made lots of money, its up to him how he wants to use it. If he wants to do some charity, thats fine. If he wants to spend it himself, that should be fine too. Nobody has a right to tell someone what he has to do with his money.

I have not got a proper response from any of the SOPs. If you are one of those SOPs, let me know what you think.

IPL - Fun Unlimited

Ravi Shastri is a great commentator, or so he thinks. Its not too surprising when someone is in the company of Sanjay Manjrekar, Arun Lal and the likes. And lets not forget, he was the inventor of that historic phrase - "The last thing the team needs at this stage is a run out". As if there would be some stage when "run out" will move up in the "necessary" list. Well, anyways!

Thank heavens, his statements are not as ridiculous as Arun Lal who would say - "Rameez, I reckon when the required run rate keeps shooting up like this, the batsmen have to get the boundaries".

But, Shastri provided ample entertainment last night at the IPL finals presentation ceremony.
"Ladies and gentlemen, on stage we have Sharad Pawar, president of Board of Control for Cricket in India, Lalit Modi - Chairman and Commissioner of IPL,......., Sharad Pawar - president of Board of Control for Cricket in India"
With so much (repeated)attention showered, no wonder Pawar was a happy man!

Shastri to Yusuf Pathan: "You scripted a fabulous win! Were your nerves jangling when you went out to bat?"
Yusuf Pathan: "Hh Hh Hh"
Yusuf Pathan took almost two minutes before he said a comprehensible word. He looked like a mixture of Yuvraj Singh facing a Murali doosra and Saurav Ganguly completing a third run.
Yusuf Pathan: "Bowlers ne acche performance diya. Shane-bhai ne accha dekh baal kiya. Hh Hh Hh..."
Shastri was visibly disappointed that Pathan did not pick the "scripting" and "jangling" part of it and promptly switched over to hindi.
Shastri: "Jab aap batting karne ke liye aaye, kya aap nervous thae?"
Yusuf: "Mashallah, main nervous thaa. Par main Watson se baath kartha raha"
Now, if Yusuf could not understand the "scripting" and "jangling" bit of Shastri, funny how he understood the "maete", "baetsman" accent of Watson?

Javed Miandad had a long standing record of the most ridiculous english speaking Pakistani. My favorite of Miandad's has always been - "The team play well. All batsman plays well. And bowlers plays well".
Sohail Tanveer grabbed that record to his kitty along with the purple cap.
Shastri: "Terrific match Sohail. Were your nerves jangling during the final over?"
Sohail shook his head rigorously and mumbled something that was as unplayable as his bowling. What a fitting response to Shastri's overused "jangling" statement!

Last but not the least, while introducing the Chennai Super Kings players when they were out to receive their medals:
"Makhaya Ntini. Terrific athlete. Great performance today. He has added color to this Chennai Super Kings".
Now, did anyone else found that statement unintentionally racist? Or is it just me? :D

Giftsoo Giftsu

I am too just-married to get tired of writing stuff related to the wedding. Gone are those days when people were anxious to know what gifts they got. Nowadays its all about hoping that the unwanted gifts dont exceed the storage space at your home. There are 3 broad categories when it comes to gifting 'items':
Innovative types
Only 2% belong to this category. They know your tastes, they know how usable it is to you, they know that the chances of someone else gifting the same item are slim.

Ganesha types
If I were Lord Shiva or Vishnu, I would have cursed the entire humanity for how I am ignored when it comes to gift items.
A typical conversation of a couple goes about like this:
Husband: We have to go to that wedding in the evening.
Wife: What gift shall we buy?
Husband: Some Ganesha gift item of course.
Wife: (smiling) Of course! (What else?)

54% of the people fall under this category. Ganesha has got great range, he comes in all forms - from the most artistic to highly innovative to funny to absolutely ridiculous. My brother has a collection of over 200 Ganeshas - dancing, playing music, sitting, standing, sleeping, programming - you name it, we have it. So every time someone gives a Ganesha, its mostly the one you already have. Or even worse, you get two pieces of the same variety on the same day. I love you Ganesha, but bring on the Ayyappas, Kaalabhairavas and Gajalakshmis please!

Clock types
No occasion is complete without a few unusable clocks being gifted. 54% of the people fall under this category as well. I am seriously planning to have one of living room walls as a "clock wall" and hang all the clocks that we got, each one set to the time zone of a different country.

Those of you who must be wondering why the percentages are not adding up properly, 10% of the people actually gift clocks with Ganesha on them! :D

*****

If you are not the innovative types when it comes to gifts, better stick to giving cash. You will be really appreciated. There are many varieties in the cash givers as well and each one may belong to one of more of these categories:
Anonymous
There will always be a few who do not write their names on the gift covers. Few are definitely the "dont-want-to-be-discovered-of-giving-so-less" type. The rest belong to the very old thinking that even writing their names on the covers amounts to showing off.

Coverless Anonymous
Among the gift covers, you will at least find a note given by someone who just slipped it into your hands while offering a handshake. May be these are the ones who paid an unexpected visit, had no gift cover, at the same time did not wish to go giftless.

The One Rupee
They will never ever give you money without a one rupee coin along with the gift amount. One logic I have heard from them is that "plus one" means continual growth and thats wishing for prosperity. 50, 100, 500, 1000 just dont exist in their worlds. It has to be 51, 101 and so on. The funny thing about this is, may be 50 years ago when one rupee was still a decent gift amount, did these people give two rupees? :D

Documenter
This, at least to me, is a new phenomenon. Of people writing "100/-" in the corner of the cover, near the opening and even sometimes as a heading on the cover. They are exactly opposite to the "Anonymous" types. They want the giftees to know how much they gave. Even if the money accidentally falls off from the cover, they ensure that you know how much they had actually gifted you.

Staple, Gum, Staple-n-Gum
Some staple on the cover, some staple on the cover and the note together. Some use gum to close the covers. And some are so generous in the usage of the gum as well as staples that I have a few notes that I am not able to take off from the cover!

*****

On a completely different note, have you noticed that even in today's times, most of the men hesitate to shake hands with the bride and most women hesitate to shake hands with the groom when they come to wish the couple on the stage?

I think only a misandric person could have formulated the customs in a South Indian marriage. How else can you explain the dhaare ceremony where the bride will be in a beautiful saree and the groom in a ridiculously translucent white kachche? The bride gets her hair beautifully styled and the groom gets a mysore peta to cover his receding hairline. Utmost attention is given to the bride's face for her to look divine, while all that the groom gets is two drishti bottu (to ward off the evil eye) placed with such precision that guarantees maximum possible pathetic looks! Trust me, every man finds his woman absolutely stunning in the wedding saree. But, I am yet to meet a woman who thought her husband looked mind blowing in that white kachche. Not just that, I spent the last week before marriage running from store to store searching for that elusive white underwear (you guessed it right, to go along with the translucent white kachche) while the wife (the then fiance) was shopping for her jewelry and taking tips from parlor aunty on how to look even more stunning.

*****

Feminists who scream hoarse about patriarchy and all that crap have no clue how men are actually discriminated in the society. Men just do the "I am the boss" act, but its the women who pull all the strings. Women in south india have this habit of gifting each other "blouse piece" during any religious or social occasion. Men usually get nothing, the lucky ones at the most get a kerchief. If you are in the closest family circles, the women get nice sarees when all you get is a lousy "shirt piece" (yes, the white shirt with blue stripes or brown checks) Researches have shown that the gift shirt pieces get redistributed 5 times more than gifted sarees.

*****

The most used phrase on the reception stage by friends/relatives is "Please bring him/her home sometime". Apart from "Happy married life" of course. I have already promised 1583 people that we, the newly wed couple would "definitely" visit their home. Even if we visit one family every weekend, I will almost be 60 by the time I fulfill my promise. By then, we will not be a newly wed couple though.

*****

"Remember me?" is the most tricky question, often asked by that over enthusiastic uncle on stage when you are already on the verge of collapsing due to dehydration and bright video recorder lights. "Hmm, yes uncle" and a sheepish smile works most of the times, while your mind is busy guessing if he is a distant cousin of dad, an old colleague of mom or someone who was supposed to be going to the wedding in the adjacent choultry. The even-more-enthusiastic uncles dont stop there, they come up with a "Tell me who I am". Seeing the name written on the gift cover from the corner of your eye helps sometimes (It can backfire too, if he is giving the gift on behalf of his aged father who could not attend the wedding) "I know uncle, but I dont know exactly how to tell it" is the safest, most innocent-looking and honest-but-not-rude answer.

*****

Sanskrit was my first language in high school and college. I understand it quite decently. But, I have no idea what all things I have promised to the poojari during the marriage ceremony. Just like knowing english does not ensure full understanding of what you have agreed upon while signing up your home loan papers. You just have to do it blindly. And trust your lucky stars!

Pauline Thomason once said "Love is blind, but marriage is an eye-opener". But, even the pre-marriage phase also can open your eyes to so many things. And if you are as general-knowledge-deficient as me, every moment is a new discovery. If you have a sense of humor, each discovery can be complete fun.

***

Just before the saree shopping, mom asked about my fiancee - "AvLu work sarees wear maadthaLa?"
I understood it as "work 'ge' sarees" and told - "No mom, she generally wears jeans or salwars to work"
Mom was least surprised by the all too familiar stupidity of her son and said - "Work sarees do not mean the sarees which you wear to work. It means sarees that involve lot of handiwork like embroidery, mirror work etc."

***

Shopping for sarees will introduce you to so many new things - crape silk, tusser silk, raw silk, butta, mango border, peacock border, temple border, self, contrast, double color - the sheer magnitude of terminologies can cause a data overflow error! The shopkeeper comes up with different adjectives for even the most pathetic sarees, a skill that can put HRs to shame. Self border rich pallu, contrast saree grand look, big border traditional wear, lateshht dejign fancy saree - believe me, getting this knowledge imparted can be a very humbling experience.

***

The interesting thing is that while most saree shop keepers are such great ego boosters, the shopkeepers of men's dresses are in complete contrast (Yes, its a contrast, not a self :D)
You go to buy a formal shirt and the one Hritik is wearing in the ad looks very good. You ask the shopkeeper if he has the same piece and try it on. It looks quite ridiculous on you. You ask the shopkeeper if its a different shade or something. The shopkeeper would say its the exact same piece with a big "Thats Hritik, this is you" smile.

You look at some other trousers and ask your fiancee - "Will this look good on me?" and the enthusiastic shopkeeper jumps in the middle - "Sir, you go for that one - that one would look good on you. Since you are not tall sir, this will not suit you..."

You go for the suit trial and ask the tailor - "Is this okay? Or has this become a little big?", the tailor who has no idea of your beaten-up morale tells "This is perfect saar. Since you dont have broad shoulders, it looks like a little big thats all. Otherwise its just perfect"

Thats when I realized why men and women differ so much in their shopping frequencies. Women go to shopping to boost their egos. Men avoid it to protect their already low self-esteem from hitting rock bottom.

***

The other thing that strikes you at this stage is the importance of gold in human lives. Mythologies are full of gold related stories. "Hiranya garbha" or the golden womb from which the universe is formed, bears an uncanny resemblance to the big bang theory. Hiranyakashyapu and Hiranyaksha were the earliest of demons - kind of Bhimas and Chemmanurs of demonosphere. The earliest known story about gold was from Ramayana. One idyllic afternoon, Sita spotted a golden colored deer in the forest and suddenly realized that she had not shopped for gold from the last 10 days or so. When Rama was back from his jungle jogging, Sita looked at Ram in a way that makes men ask "What do you want honey?". Sita in a very husky voice said - "I want gold dear". Rama, who had studied mostly in bhojpuri medium schools understood it as "I want gold deer" and killed the golden deer Mareecha. This enraged Ravana, who then decided to kidnap Sita. The rest, as they say, is mythology.

The anthropologists also believe that the discovery of gold changed the equations in human society. In the very early hunter-gatherer societies, the persons who were strong, who could fight with animals, who could run for miles were considered to be very useful in the tribe. So the strong, big, fat, stout, sturdy people were well respected. The big, strong, sturdy guys got all the great girls (which means big, strong, sturdy girls) in the tribe. The thin, slim, sleek, delicate types were constantly ridiculed and were subjected to social bullying all the time. "Thin is in" is believed by many anthropologists to be the first ever hate slogan - to force the thin, slim types not to come out of caves. Within a few hundred years, gold was discovered and the big, strong, sturdy guys started losing out to the thin, slim guys who had found gold. But, this created a peculiar situation. The gold discovered was still not enough for the big, well built girls of the tribe. Jean Pierre, the first known statistician cum fashionista discovered that the thinner the girls are, the lesser the gold required and he manipulated the century-old hate slogan "Thin is in" into a very popular fashion statement. Humans, even today, have not discovered enough gold that meets the demand - and the fashionistas have maintained the balance with the still popular "Thin is in"!

***

Marriage is not without its share of compromises. If you take my example, I always wanted to marry on a wednesday in some city far far away from Bangalore. Sounds weird? There is an interesting logic to that. If you are marrying on a wednesday outside Bangalore, only those people who are very close to you will attend your wedding - applying leave and taking the trouble of traveling to a different city. Its a very effective method of avoiding unwanted acquaintances who might attend your wedding for the only reason that its anyway a holiday and the choultry is very near to their homes! But, I have compromised - for getting married in Bangalore on a sunday. Yes, this sunday! :)

It was late night. Surprisingly, the first auto I stopped agreed to come from Rajajinagar to BTM. The driver looked like Vijay of the movie "Duniya". He had long hair, wore a gaudy shirt and sported a 92.7 FM logo on his faded cap. I dont initiate conversations with auto drivers in general. But, when they start an interesting conversation, I know how to keep it going.

He was silent for almost 15 minutes.
"Saar, I will get the gas filled for the auto. Jusht 2 minutes", he said as he took the deviation off the main road. I remembered my dad warning me just an hour back that Bangalore is no longer safe and to be careful while going home.
"It wont take long, right?", I tried not to sound too worried and suspicious.
"Jusht 2 minutes saar. We can join the main road directly from there itself. See, here is my driver identity. I did not get time to stick it on to my seat", he seemed to sense my uneasiness.
"No thats fine, I just meant to ask if it wont take too long. I had to go to office early tomorrow, thats why I asked", I smile sheepishly.
"What are you working as?", he asks while taking a weird U-turn near the petrol bunk that seemed to defy all laws of physics.
"I am a software engineer", I blurt out.
"You also do computer graphics? If you know anybody who can do movie posters, tell me. There is an opening in Gandhinagara (Kannada movie industry) they pay 8000 saar", he tells me as he fills the gas into his auto. "My auto was missing from one month saar. Got it just today"
"Oh, what happened?", I knew I was getting into a long conversation zone. He got off the petrol bunk and joined the main road.
"I am actually Vinod Rajkumar's car driver saar". The way he legitimizes Vinod Raj's surname amuses me. "I had rented the auto to a friend. He owed me lot of money and also escaped with my auto. I spent so much money in finding it. When I found him, his wife begged me not to beat him up. Even Vinod anna and amma (Leelavathi, Vinod Raj's mom - he calls her amma) told me to forgive him and forget about that money. Bere yaar hathra aadroo avnu hinge maadidre majestic li hoge ne"

The way he said "hoge" makes me uncomfortable. [For those who are not familiar with Kannada or this slang, "hoge" means smoke - which is symbolic of post death ritual. The sheer audacity and casual carelessness towards death gives "hoge" that chilling effect]

"Vinod anna said that shooting will start next month, and I have to help them in farming also. Amma cooks nice food to us all the time. Vinod anna lost almost one crore ten lakhs when he made 'Shukra'. Even 'Inthi Ninna Preethiya' did not yield much money. So next month we are starting 'Govindu, Karnataka Nindhu'"
"Did you not enter into the movie industry?", I ask him.
"I have acted in 'Shukra' saar. I was the villain who raped the heroine and killed the inspector. And then Vinod anna comes back and takes revenge. Nowadays, anybody who has made some money in real estate business can cast his son as a hero. After 'Mungaru Male' and 'Duniya' were hits, everyone wants to act as a hero. 'Nanda Nanditha' was good, the girl has acted well, even the hero was okay. 'One Two Three' was nice saar. Full comedy. 'Om shanti Om' was good too, did you watch it?"
"I saw 'Om Shanti Om'. You watch lot of movies, is it?
"Tamil, telugu, hindi - we watch all and remake them into Kannada. Who writes original stories in Kannada today saar? And did you know, even the hindi people copy from english movies?"

As we were still half way to BTM, I decide to ask him about the actors. Movie trivia flows effortlessly as he speaks.
"Ganesh, saar, has same type of dialogues and mannerisms in all movies, he will fade away. And he will be replaced by 'Nanda Nanditha' hero. As far as I have heard, Shivrajkumar is the most decent in his family. Puneet earns one and half crores per film saar, but no commissions, no rollcall. Nenapirali Prem, 'Sainika' hero, 'Shishya' hero - they are all big rowdies saar. Darshan is good, he has struggled a lot to reach where he is today. He used to do up-and-down from Mysore in lorries so that he can save 20 rupees. My friend who is a lorry cleaner has told me this. But, Darshan is not proud, very down to earth. And Vishnuvardhan - he is almost God saar. His heart is purer than Rajkumar's. He has got homes built for all the people working for him, and he treats all the people - from his car driver to bathroom cleaner - equally".
As I keep wondering if someone needs to be employed full time as a bathroom cleaner, he abruptly stops the auto at a junction near BTM. "If you take a left from here and then first right, the third house is Darshan's"

"Why do Kannada movies get their heroines from Bombay?", I ask him, half expecting to hear stories about Kannada heroines not 'compromising' to 'expose' when a 'role demands'!
"Kannada heroines ge kobbu saar. This 'Cheluvina Chittara' heroine got 25 lakhs for that movie. Before that, she had got only 10000 for 'Shishya'. Now, she is demanding 1.5 crores saar, Narayan has filed a court case also. Kobbu saar, kobbu. But, heroines from Bombay, they are inquisitive about our industry and want to prove something.", he said dashing all my hopes of some juicy gossip.

As he takes the last turn towards my home, he makes me an offer - "People in our industry loot a lot for giving an acting chance. If you want to act, dont go anywhere. Come to our office, give 3 photos of yours, mention my name on the backside. I will get you a chance, no money. I am the one who processes all these things in Vinod anna's office"

As I get down from the auto, I imagine myself in a movie awards function, dedicating my first award to this driver.
When you are not talented enough or ambitious enough, you should at least be brave enough.

I sit here and blog, while I could have been applying make up in the van or watching that driver get beaten up yet again trying to rape Vinod anna's onscreen sister!

PJ Proverbs

Disclaimer: Good understanding of Hindi, English, Kannada is recommended. And absolute tolerance towards non-sense is mandatory.

I was just thinking about how some proverbs have multiple meanings when you interpret it using multiple languages.

There is a proverb in Kannada called "Hani hani kooDidare haLLa" (Same meaning as "little drops of water makes a mighty ocean")
Hani = Drop; haLLa = Water body
Now, "hani" sounds exactly like "honey". "Honey" is a term used to address a very lovable female (or male depending on your gender and orientation!) Now "Honey honey kooDidare" means adding many such lovable females to your list - which means having multiple affairs. "haLLa" can also be interpreted as in "haLLa hidyadu" which means "to be in ruins". So, this proverb also means that multiple affairs are not advisable.

Have you noticed that people from different countries have different body shapes? To be more specific, butt size varies from one race to the other. The asians (excluding the Indians) have the smallest butt sizes - you can almost call them non-existent! Next comes the Indians, followed by the Caucasians. Africans undoubtedly have the biggest butt sizes. There is a beautiful hindi proverb that sums it all up:
"Jaisa des waisa base" ;)

Tagged!

Parijata has tagged me to list five posts of mine with the following subjects:

Family I have rarely written about my family. The only one I could find was the visit to Chamundi hills with my brother.

Friends There are very few posts I have written about my friends too :( Now I feel like I am too self-obsessed than what I originally thought myself to be. The only post I could find was one of the conversations I had with my friend Bata.

Myself My blog is too full of myself, but there are only few posts that I love when I read it again at a later date. My first earthquake was definitely one of them. The history behind my name is another. And how can I forget Crime Diary that made me quite famous :)

My love If "My love" means the usual "My love", I have not blogged about that ;) But, let me interpret this in a generic way as something I love - and yes, you guessed it right, it has to be movies! I like India's contribution to world cinema and of course my blog post on Woody Allen (no, I tell it for one last time - he is not my alter ego ;)) I thought Jodha Akbar was quite funny too.

Anything I like For some reason, I like this attempt at story writing.

Now I tag Bikerdude, Madhuri, Soumia, Venu, Krupa.

Jodha Akbar

Most of the people unnecessarily hype up Akbar's religious tolerance. Not that he was not a religiously tolerant man, but what annoys me is that his other great qualities are completely overlooked in this frenzy. Akbar was not only one of the earliest kings who started the trend of inter-religious marriages, but also perhaps the first king to prove that inter-lingual marriages can work.

Who was 'that' wife, you might be wondering right? Its the same Jodha, the rajput princess! "What? we saw the movie and both of them seemed to speak Hindi and as far as we remember we did not see any subtitles when either of them spoke. Are you sure?" If these are the questions you are having, step back for a minute and observe what you had overlooked. Jodha spoke 'shuddh hindi' with an overdose of sanskrit, a language that would have become extinct, if not for those uninhabitable suburbs of Barjatya's Sundarnagar. Akbar spoke his hindi with heavy influences of urdu, arabic and persian. To call both of them as the same language is as ignorant as calling all the people living down south as 'madrasis', just because their languages 'sound' very similar.

A typical conversation between Jodhaa and Akbar generally went like this:
Akbar: "Mashallah, kya khoobi, kitna noor hai aapke soorat mein"
Jodha: "Hey Bhagwan, aap bhi toh itne sundar aur prakashmaan hai, mukh thoda lamba hai, paranthu kya thejaswi dikthe hain aap"
Akbar: "Hum aap se nikaah karne ki khwahish rakthe hain. Aap ki intezaar-e-raazi mein bechain hai hum"
Jodha: "Mai bhi aap se vivaah karne ke liye uthsuk hoon, paranthoo...ek vichaar hai jo aapko krodhith banaa saktha hain, paranthoo..."
Akbar: "Lekin? Be-shakkh aap uska zikr kar sakthe hain. Aap sirf mallika-e-hindustan hee nahin aap hamari kaabil-e-maaf-o-ghussa bhi hain..."
Jodha: "Mujhe Bhaarath ki raani hone ki aasha toh hain, par main Kishan bhagwan ki bhakth hoon aur..."
Akbar: "Bismillah, hum prasann huye...uff, oh no, hum khush huye...khuda ki jo bhi kadr karthe hai woh hameh pasand hai, chaahe naam jo bhi ho..."
Jodha: "Paranthoo...hamari saas, I mean aapki ammi jaan ko dukkh ho saktha hai na?"
Akbar: "Naheen, ammi jaan jaanthi hain ki mazhab mazhab hai. Fateh fateh hai. Pyaar pyaar hai. Aur war war hai"
Jodha: "Hum bhi isme vishwas rakthe hain. Ki dharm aur prem ka aakraman ya yuddh ke saath koyi sambandh nahin hona chahiye"
Akbar: "Subhanalllah. Yaa parwardegaar. Yaa Khwaja. Hum elaan-e-muhabbat karthe hain. Jab Jodha Akbar hai raazi toh kya karega Baazi" (both smile at the then futuristic joke on Ashutosh)
Jodha: "Hum bhi aap se bahut prem karthe hain, haay bhagwaan" (gets shy for a moment, forgetting that she is a rajput)
Akbar: "Yeh daastaan-e-ishq-o-muhabbat duniya yaad rakhegi"
Jodha: "Jab tak rahega Taare Zameen Par, tab tak rahega Jodha Akbar" (gives the expression of wow-did-not-realize-it-rhymes)

Akbar and Jodha showed that language is not a barrier and communication can happen through food, jewelry and not to forget through bodies (now dont get dirty ideas, I was talking about sword flighting! :D)

Today, in a country like India where the number of major languages exceeds the number of religions, anyone who follows Akbar-Jodha's example will have at least a hundred times more prospects at marriage than others. And every time a "Religion no bar, language no bar" in a matrimonial site brings a smile on your face, dont forget to tell "Jodha ki Jai, Akbar Zindaabad"!

Post Death Paranoia

What happens after a man dies?

Is there a God waiting to settle things? Is there another world? An afterlife?
Does Chitragupta use the latest version of Tally for his accounting purposes? Or do dead people get bored to death waiting in never ending queues for their turns to come up as he flips through the pages of his dusty old books?
Would St.Peter's job be outsourced to some other Indian saint from a tier 2 city? Will the Indian saint have lost it to a mexican or a philipino by the time you reach there?
Do the jehadis get their share of 72 virgins? Or will they be given a raw deal citing the dwindling male-to-female ratio as the reason?

No, these are not the exact questions I am having. I am thinking more on the lines of what happens to the online world of a person after he dies.

Have you ever wondered what will happen to the email account of a person once he dies? What happens to their blog? Their flickr account? Their adsense? I have no clue why, but this question has been bothering me from quite a long time. All these are not very old technologies and considering that the adoption is higher among the younger age group, people might not have faced these situations often. But these would be serious questions a couple of decades from now.

Just imagine for a moment that you have an online friend about whom you dont know a great deal about. You dont know where exactly they live, what exactly they do and you dont have common friends, but you are constantly 'in touch' with each other maintaining a great deal of anonymity and discussing only about 'common interests'. If they die, there is no way on earth you could know that. Of course the email account will be disabled due to inactivity, but how do you differentiate between the inactive mailbox of a living person and that of a dead person? :) Same thing with blogs. How do you differentiate a blog that has been inactive for a while and a dead person's blog? Would people in general prefer somebody else to inherit their blogs or would they want their blog to end along with them? Interesting question actually!

If people want their online world to end along with them, there needs to be some sort of notification system - something like a "Out of office reply". You could actually configure your message what you want to convey to people and store it in your mailbox or your blog settings. And only your lawyer will have the access key which triggers sending this message. Once this system matures, there will be provisions for custom messages for individuals or groups.
A generic message could read something like this:
"Hey, I am dead now. Sorry for not responding to your mail. For any further queries, contact my family at 1-545-..."
A message to an online girlfriend can go like this:
"Honey, I am dead now. Apologies for not buying you the diamond necklace I promised. Dont keep in touch"
A slightly complex message could be configured for a particular friend and only for forwarded messages:
"Yeah bastard you were right. I ignored all those 'send it to 20 people or else bad luck will haunt you' forward and I am dead now. Send this message to 20 alive people you know"
so on and so forth.

Blogs can have a 'last post' option, where you can save what you want to say to your readers if it were to be your last post. And of course, the account will be locked once that post is triggered. The blog search results will display the alive people blogs and dead people blogs in different colors. As you have guessed correctly, the dead people blogs will not have RSS subscription :D

All those people who want their legacy to continue will make 'wills' to make sure that who will inherit what. A lawyer reading it out will be something like "The son will get the blog account and all the ad revenue generated from that. The daughter will have access to flickr pro account and youtube account and the son cannot share her flickr account to upload the pictures for his blog posts. The grandson will get the Rapidshare premium account and if it is noticed that he is using it to upload porn, it will be given to charity. The wife gets nothing as she does not use the computer at all"

Come 2025, the possibilities are immense! :)

You are asked to do the estimation for a module or a task.
You consider the coffee breaks, orkut scrapping and the innumerable hours spent on Wikipedia and IMDB. You make a very high end calculation and add 30% buffer to it and send it to your lead.
Your lead takes into consideration the time he would lose in mindless discussions, unwanted conferences and adds his 30% buffer.
Your manager thinks of time lost in motivational meetings, online trading and the estimation goes up by 30% more.
Finally, your account manager not wanting to be left alone, follows the 30% funda and sends the final estimation to the client.

Everybody seem happy dreaming about the happy days ahead.

But, from the day the project starts till it ends, everybody starts slogging their posteriors off. I wonder, where all those 30 percents vanish!

I know this was a lousy post. But, there are many reasons why I wrote it:
One, I dont have enough time.
Two, I am in a cribbing mood and is there a better listener than a blog?
Three, I am not getting any ideas to write and dont want any readers of this blog to think that this blog is dead! :D

Food Sensibilities

You know when the supposed-to-be-motivating team dinners and unavoidable lunches with acquaintances become much more painful to me than they usually are? When the topic happens to be on food habits.

Here is a sample:
"You dont drink?", asks the team mate in a friendly tone.
"No"
"You dont smoke?", unable to hide his surprise.
"No"
"You dont even eat chicken?", the italics for "even" would barely convey the utter shock he would experience.
"No"
"Man, you are amazing. Do you at least eat eggs?", the shock has now turned to pity and the look in his eyes tells that he cannot survive another "no" for an answer.
"I eat eggs. In fact, I love them", would be my biggest sentence in the whole conversation.
"Thank God, you at least eat eggs", he exclaims, a mighty relieved now - and in his book my existence is not as useless as it would have been if by any chance I did not eat eggs.

I escape quite easily. But, there is always someone at the table who does not eat eggs. They would get the same questions mentioned above. And the "no" for eggs prompts some more mindless questions.
"Oh you dont eat eggs. So you dont eat cakes?"
"I dont eat usually. And whenever I eat, I check with them if they have eggless cakes"
"What about icecreams? Even many icecreams have eggs"
"Oh I did not know. Anyway, I dont eat egg in egg form, but you have to survive na?", the pure veggie throws an emphatic laughter.
"Thats tough man, why dont you eat? Which caste you are?"

I will already be in the last stages of my WTF mode. Somebody please take me away from this place, for Ramssake!

And then, the discussion goes on how his brothers eat everything (even though their caste forbids them to eat) and being so proud of being "dharmabhrasht". The veggie exclaims how their kid is even more of a strict vegetarian than them and how their legacy is in safe hands and animals can roam around fearlessly near them. I dont know if you were in the middle of similar conversations and if they even irritate in the first place. I personally find it very repetitive, dumb, boring and highly uncreative.

I know people who indulge in this conversation in my presence would not read my blog, but still I have to vent out my frustration. I neither relate to these superior-feeling non-veggies or the holier-than-thou veggies. I find myself quite lonely when it comes to "food sensibilities" [Food habits is different from food sensibilities :)] I am a veggie who eats eggs. And this is not because I should not eat meat because my caste forbids me to. My reason for not eating meat may sound very silly, but this is the reason why I never consciously experimented. Whenever I think of eating any meat, I would imagine that animal roaming around in my stomach. Now, dont laugh - this is a serious mental block I have. For so may years, I did not eat brinjal for the reason that I had seen a worm near my home quite regularly, that resembled the cut piece of a brinjal :D I have unknowingly eaten chicken and beef once. I neither have pride nor guilt or even regret about that. You tell me that jellies contain pork or mayonnaise contains elephant meat, I will not stop eating them :) I dont go on lecturing people who eat meat that human intestine is not constructed naturally to digest meat. And I wont go on saying that vegetarianism is great just because I used to have a huge collection of Pamela Anderson wallpapers :)

I just dont really care what people eat. And I dont judge anyone by their food habits. Why dont I meet more people who match my "food sensibility"?

Cheque please!

Why dont the Lufthansa air hostesses smile? They seem too unfriendly, too cold. Its okay if Indians dont smile, we are used to it. Any others, we expect a smile, even a very fake one. Their entertainment facilities suck! There is a common TV on which we have to watch the movie being played. And why oh why are they so costly? I hate the Frankfurt airport too, it looks too hostile. I guess visiting Singapore raises the expectation too much. Not every airport is Changi!

I observed that the seat numbers in a row are listed A-B-C, D-E-F-G, H-J-K. There was no "I". I remember noticing this in other aircrafts as well. Not sure what the funda behind this is. Any idea?

When I asked for Asian Veg meals, I was told that it was over. I thought of taking a salmon meal and eat everything else except the main item. But, then the air hostess asked me if I am okay with a "Hindu meal". That was the first time I had heard something like that. What has a food got to do with religion? Do they even have veg meal of other religions? Does "Hindu meal" include kosambari and puliyogre, I wondered. I was disappointed for expecting too much - I had to settle just with jeera rice and payasa.

Why is it that all females who give instructions in hindi have a nasal tone? Any airline, any lady - it has to be nasal. "Krupya dhyaan de...vimaan ab udne ke liye tayyaar hai...apni kursi ki peti baandh le" Have you ever heard this in a non-nasal tone?

I Have A Dream

Many guys dream of becoming pilots and many girls of becoming air hostesses when they are kids. Thats what I have heard. At least from so many movie stars. But, I was a different kid. I never wanted to be a pilot. In fact, I never wanted to be anything. I was happy spending long hours looking at my fishes photo book or drawing using my sketch pen set with 12 colors.

Even when I was in high school, I did not know what I wanted to become. But, I could realize that not knowing an answer was looked upon with contempt. So at some point in time, I was giving the answer as "I want to do IAS in future". Till today, I have no clue why I gave that answer. A country as screwed up as ours definitely did not need an IAS officer like me. But seriously, I wish I had the guts to do an anti-Luther King and proclaim - "I dont have a dream"!

After the PU, it was the usual medical or engineering question that was posed by the people. When you are quite decent in your studies and when you are not exceptional in anything else, you are forced to give an answer to that. Medical was out of question for me. First of all, I was not good at Biology. Second, my parents had this inherent fear that I would walk out of a critical operation and start flicking TV channels. My parents thought it would amount to mass genocide, though some differed in their view that it could have been an effective method to control population explosion.

And as the saying goes "Kuchh nahin toh engineer ban jaayega" I ended up being a software engineer. Even here, I did not have any big dreams, never like I wanted to be 'this' at some stage in my life. But, it was in Sun Tech Days, I realized that I wanted to be 'this' at some stage in my life. Evangelist! I liked the sound of it. If anyone asks you "Which project you are working in?", you can answer "Project? Me? Kidding? I am an evangelist" I dont work, I keep trying out new stuff, writing opinions, blogging on the latest trends, going to tech conferences and talk about things that will be conveniently ignored by the techies who come there only to burn some company money. And the best thing is, there is no deadline, no deliverable, no accountability! It sounded damn cool!

Too many miles traveled in the memory lane. Just to say that my dream was in a vague way fulfilled when my article on "The future is IT" was sent to Data Quest and it has been published! The original painfully long article has been reduced to a short paragraph. Here is the link:
http://dqindia.ciol.com/content/25thanniversary/2007/207122401.asp

Hail the evangelist!

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