Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Things I Don't Get - II

So I still don’t get too many things. A friend under the influence of much too much cheap wine and The Simpsons’ reruns once told me, “You can either be happy or you can be intelligent.” Apparently, I’m happier now. Either that, or I’m sleepwalking my way to work everyday.

This city isn’t making any sense to me. Not the culture, not the intolerance, not the fact that everyone knows the directions to everywhere. And worse still, some more things I don’t get.

I don’t get the meaning of “Ya?”

So… what part of speech really is this? Who the hell ever thought this was a cool way to figure out if people were really listening?

“So, I was trying to crap, ya?”

Why it this a question? How the fuck do I know?!

I’ve had full blown conversations with this woman who says it like it’s a comma. And a full stop. And a capital. And the three dot thingy, the “…”. Not to forget the long 'yaaaaaaa…' when she’s trying to figure out what to say next. Honest to God, every time she asks/tells/demands a response, I have no clue what to say. So I finally gave in till we sounded like two ducks in a pond you threw popcorn at.

“Dad wasn’t gonna hear me out, ya?”
“So I told him to just let me live my life, ya?”
“So.. yaaaaaaaaah!”
“What are you yaaahing about?”
“I dunno, do ya?”

She doesn’t get me either, these days.

I don’t get music in lifts.

Really, I appreciate your concern. But I am NOT GOING TO KILL MYSELF OUT OF BOREDOM in those 15 seconds in the lift. What is with that?! And why, WHY Kenny G? Why polyphonic phone ring tones? And why, of all, the tune of BHAJANS????

I can imagine hoteliers supervising their restaurants being designed. They turn to their architects and interior designers and in that one moment of utmost malice and vengeance for all the soon to be broken glasses, the returned too salty-too old-this is not what I ordered dishes, the unflushed floaters on antibacterial crap-pots (another thing I don’t get, but will not bother talking about) smiling villainously and going, “Make the lift out of glass. Thin glass. Make it move sloooooow. And get my Anup Jalota tape from the car.”

Liftmen offsprings will evolve with smaller ear lobes. And have inflexible lips cos they don’t smile anyway.

I don’t get idioms in conversations.

I remember this ad that showed up in Bangalore a couple of years ago. It was like the copywriter found his inspiration in a Preeti Sagar’s Jargon Soup for a Chicken’s Soul.
It went thus.


The apple of your eye…Your home…. Being eaten like a MOTH.. Called GEYSER!”

And this was an ad for a solar heater. More shocking, this was an AD.

So maybe he didn’t put those idioms to good use. But why do people use idioms to talk to one another? I get it if you’re writing it, that’s a disease I too, have. But why when you’re TALKING??? Language evolved to communicate simple things.
Burp means “Thank you, that was delicious.”
A fart means “I’m comfortable around you.”

Simple sentences are ‘I want.’
I want food.
I want more food.
Gimme pizza.
Fuck off.

See? Simple. I understand these. Then my boss comes around and says this.

“Its like sex on toast, guys! Just do the biggie bag and turn over, ad the chicken’s done. No need to arm wrestle deadlines, just put an enema in the soup and we'll touch base later.”

Whatever, ya?

Monday, October 06, 2008

Things I don't get

I'm in a George Costanza meets Stewie Griffin kind of mood. Not 'meet' per say... more like a tip of the hat as you pass by kind of meet. Or like a half smile like your botox is doing nothing for you as you see each other on the road but don't bother to talk kind of meet.

Yeah.. So you get the idea.

I'm in the mood to rave and rant and complain and crib and roll in the mud and whine, so really, this weekend, let's not meet. I am kind of pissed off/frustrated/ don’t really care but makes for good time pass on the long journey to work on board smelly train/ about some things that I’ve recently begun to pay attention to, and the list is growing as enormously long and intolerable as is this sentence. Just to prove I am not neurotic, (shut up Mother, what do you know) I’ve compiled a brief list of things I don't get. So seriously, for the sake of whatever's left of my sanity, tell me if it’s just me.

I don't get Vodafone Customer Care
So this woman calls me up the other day from Vodafone. Her name is Ujwala. I hope you're reading this, UJWALA.
"Your outgoing has been barred because you've exceeded your credit limit, ma'am." Ujwala says.
"But my bill's due only next week! I've never paid late, why have you barred my calls?" I argue.
"Ma'am, please call customer care and clarify it with them." Ujawala smartly replies.
"Aren't you customer care?"

Ujwala blinks so hard it causes a hurricane in Australia.
"Ma'am, please call 111."

"I can't. You've barred my outgoing." I say politely.
Ujwala hangs up on me.
Ujwala Ujwala Ujwala Ujwala. Bitch.

I don't get actors crying at the movies.
Even better, actors crying at their own movies. Why, exactly?

I don't get buzzers at the Moment of Truth
This is a game where the toughest answers is a "Yes" or a "No". And there's no 'I dont remember" or "Because she told me to." You say the truth, you sell your privacy, self esteem and life for a million dollars. Sounds like a deal.
"Do you purge to lose weight?"
The audience awwws and gasps and chokes on a pretzel as the competitior looks confused into the camera.
The obviously like duhuhuh! bulimic competitor refuses to answer cos her anorexic sister hits a buzzer yelling, "Don't answer that!"

Now really! Does she? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! I guess we'll never know.

I don't get scam.
It feeds me. But I still don't get it.

More coming right up. Honestly, IU]'m gonna keep ranting cos there's no one more perplexed and irritated like I am, right now. But I gotta go cos I've to get into a meeting that I don't get. But thats for the next post.

Friday, August 01, 2008

The BIg Black Lie

So a neon sign rendition of Priyanka Chopra sauntered around a neon sign rendered city, crooning seductively about her new found beauty. Apparently, she found it in Unilever’s Pandora Box, hiding in a bathing soap called Lux Provocateur.

One boring Sunday noon, intoxicated with very, very flat beer and leftover macaroni from last night, my eyes lit, neon-signly. Whoever thought they’d play a soap ad on Cartoon Network, that too in the middle of ‘Courage, the Cowardly Dog’? I stood no chance against large media agencies.

To be fair to my cause, I wasn’t under the impression that I was made of rice lights, nor that I would magically turn into Priyanka Chopra if I bathed in Lux Provocateur. What fuelled my imagination was that the soap was black in colour.

Kaala Saabun, I thought. That’s dynamite’s nickname. Under the influence of Vijay Mallya’s only contribution to the world and the traumatic standstill of Sunday, my left brain gave way.

As fate had it, by evening, an empty fridge told me that the impending visit to the grocery store was now unprocastinatable, if there’s a word like that. So I went, heading straight for the booze.
POP and retail strategies are crafty, cunning and ruthless. They got me again. For, bang opposite my favorite wine section, stood a new brightly coloured standee.
The Lux Provocateur grinned at my hypnotized being, inviting, scheming. Unwittingly, I picked a dark chocolate coated pack and scanned the gold motifs on it.

Though I didn’t need a bath, I turned on the geezer. Ripped the package open, and the naked bar of black soap lay on my palm.

It didn’t look as exciting as I imagined.

Ssomething inside me began to break. I think it was the rumbling of my logic waking up.
Quickly, I began to look for a defense.
What color could the lather be?!

White. Bubbles… small, tiny ones.
Like in detergent soap.
Like in hand wash.
Like in every friggin’ cleaning agent based discovery since soapnuts!

I am distressed, shattered and curse EVERYONE involved in the conception, inception, production marketing and stocking of the black wonderless bar of broken neon-signed dreams, false promises and white bland bubbles and… I HATE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hate you Provocateur, you stupid spelled bar of Indian Ink! And Lux! You too! You betrayed me! You and your.. you.. black, black soaps and your celebrity caricature endorsed stupid… stupid slogans and baslines and.. and… what the hell does, ‘Ab Khoobsurati se darr kaisa?” even mean?!

Fuck you, Unilever! And all you motherfucking Js, Ws, and Ts of the world!!!! FUCK YOU ALL!!!

I’m back, Harmony! Love you dear, dear Harmony. Non-endorsed by deceiving celebrity, dirty font, cheaply designed pack of Harmony. Fruity, normal colored Harmony. And your lather has bigger bubbles too, and they’re a little red and orangey and.. and blue!

Eh… That’s a good thing, right?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Waiting Room

Some years ago, I made a friend, with some effort, who told me how he hated the waiting room at the dentist’s worse than the experience of having his vulnerability shift from below his stomach to above his neck.

I’ve been to a dentist once or twice. I’m not sure when, but I remember it was the age just before a milk tooth hanging by a vein stops being cool. So I can’t remember if it grossed me out, but I know I pretended I wasn’t scared.

Coming back to my old friend. He was twenty two when he saw the dentist then, and since he didn’t have the advantage of age, the decision to set his jaw straight was his own. I still think that’s what scared him the most. That he couldn’t go home and tell his mother to compensate for the trauma with a hug and hot chocolate served in his brother’s mug. If being an adult sucks, pretending to be one is a black hole.

Apparently, the dentist excavated his mouth to find cavities you could look down into and see his spleen. His whitest tooth was ochre and the yellowiest was black. Like farmers in Haiti, his teeth fought with their neighbours for land and displaced the weaker ones, pushing them into the darkest recesses of his mouth, left to rot, thin and flaky.

For reasons I couldn’t even begin to comprehend, this relieved him. With a deep sigh that nauseated the flies on our table, he explained.

“You should’ve seen the room, Golly. It wasn’t even a room… It was a long corridor... kind of like a morgue. You can’t see the person next to you because you’re scared his teeth are worse, and if they’re not, you know you’re in deep s*it.

When the person next to you is called in… its like you shared a bunk in Hitler’s Extermination Camp. Your heart burns to see him go in. He gulps silently, looking at you, like to say, “I was a b*tch, brother. But I know you’ll miss me.”

The worst part is all that waiting time kind of gets your imagination running… dentists always look like nice people. Nice people who shine and polish sharp steel things that go in your mouth.”

He sipped some water and lit a smoke. His cigarette burning on both ends, he closed his eyes tight shut, like to see inside him.

That image is kind of frozen in my head, him lying back, eyes tight shut and exhausted, and it kind of thawed here and now. I’m in my own corridor of sorts, waiting. Now, I get what he meant when he said the dentist was scary, but waiting for him was just lethal. You can’t not wait, there’s no option. You can’t walk out because you know its bad enough for you to have finally come. You can’t barge in next either, because you’re still too scared.

Only, I don’t quite know what I’m waiting for. I guess its okay as long as nothing inside is rotting. Nothing’s displacing anything else.

My friend’s mouth now elsewhere, the city is less polluted. He never went back to the dentist, though he had scheduled an appointment for the next week. He felt guilty for a while and then stopped pretending to be a grown up.

“You’re allowed mistakes when you let your instincts make them.” He explained.
And he turned out alright.

I guess my nice people with polished steel thingummies will call me in soon or later. I just hope whenever they do, I have fewer battles inside me to show them. Until then, I’ll just have to close my eyes tight shut, look inside me, and wait.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Rotten Coffee Beans

There's a beach close to my dad's village in South Canara. Strangely, its unnamed and not too many people know of it. You could keep driving down the coast and can see the wild Arabian Sea smashing against the rocks on one side. The road begins to narrow down and you realise the other side belongs to the River Suvarna, calm and childlike, streaming against your road. You keep driving down as the path narrows down and stops to meet the point where the river and the sea meet. Its a spectacular sight, really. Like from another planet.

When I got there, I knew I had to sit at the shore and just blankly stare at the water around me, but I was far too confused. To my left was the sea, the sea and the sea. It was vast and angry and powerful. It had tamed its shore to flow down softly into it and disappear under its blue. Somehow today, it was scary, like God is sometimes. Too big to love. Too powerful to be tender.

To my right, though, was the river. The femininity of Suvarna hit me immediately. An aimless drifter, she was ambition-less, childlike and careless and she loved every moment of the freedom her purposelessness gave her. She joined the sea with almost no struggle and made way for the massive white foam to hit her blue green tranquility defenselessly. It didn't matter anymore, as long as no one told her to stop flowing. She was scared, but she was just as curious.

Not thinking too much more, I sat down by the bank of my new found girlfriend and listened to the noises around. The moon was rising above the Suvarna and the refection of the setting sun on the Arabian Sea caught my eye. I needed to write, instantly, and it didn't matter if I wrote gibberish. It didn't matter if I tore it up later and hid my hopeless romanticism and less than none expressive skills. I'm still kind of spaced out though I'm back home now, and I hope to remain so for some time.

Make me a wave if you must make me an ocean.
Make me the wave nearest to the shore.
Make me white and make me break
So you can take me again and make me once more.

Make me a river if you must make me a sea.
Make me sleepwalk in the arms of the paths I choose.
Make me weaker than I know really I am
And let me cry for every dream I lose.

Make me a drop and let me forget.

Make me one with a thousand insignificances.

Let me lie here till I can't move anymore

Till all the ocean in me erupts into a thousand dances.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Family Learnings for 2008 - II

And a brand new year is now almost a month old.

The first month of the year is almost done, and I'm exactly where I was five years back. Bored and dissatisfied. Somehow, I'd told myself this year would be my turning point. And I can't hear the truth in my own voice.

Even the advice that kept me entertained by the end of last year began to diffuse into prejudice. "Where will she listen to us?", as one said.
They finally figured I was probably not getting married in my one month here, since nothing seemed to be happening. I was still wandering about town without earrings and they got the clue. Yet, the visiting must go on.

My irritance seemed to surprise my father.
He didn't understand what the fuss was about my being angered at the way his family saw me.
He dressed in his best clothes all month and even bought new shoes since new relatives were being discovered. People we knew. People we hardly knew. People with new alliances with people we hardly knew.
Some, he explained, were people with our surname. Some had surnames with the same number of syllables.

Salivating, he looked up the directory to find numbers to new people he was going to inflict with his family's visit. More muruku-chai. More acquaintances. More return gifts of quarter a kilo of meat from the week faded Bakr-Id.
This was his true calling. Visiting people. Like Roshan Abbas who went cleaning strangers' toilets on TV at dinner time.

Angry, disheartened and feeling the irritance you can only feel for your parents, I rushed out of the house. Without my earrings.
That's when I met her.

Lesson #3
Courtesy: Animated Girl and her Frog Prince.

Telling myself to cool down, I walked down to a park near my house, which seemed reserved for only the young. I sat down as far as I could from the teething teenagers around and took a deeper breath than I could manage.
"F***, man! I swear.. like.. what the... S**t! What the f***!", I heard in part of a conversation in the background.

I heard her voice, and some some reason, it stuck in my head. My mind played games with me, trying to talk to me in her voice. I heard my mind say, "F**k, man. What happened to all the resolutions we made? And all the plans we had? Why aren't you going back? You'll never make it like this. The year's beginning is at the end of its month! I mean, like.. S**t, man!"

I sighed and waited a moment of blankness. I didn't know how to answer myself.
I kept to hearing her voice, outside. She was still exclaiming wildly. At the end of her minute long expletive song, she laughed.

Thats when I realised what about her voice hit me. I turned around to look at her and smiled to myself.

The Animated girl was no more than sixteen, with eyes so full of herself, it didn't matter who was watching her. She talked aloud and she talked on and on and on, descriptively and wildly with her hands, always listening to her own voice, watching herself speak, and loving every single moment of being her.

Her captivated audience was a young boy of her age or more, who escaped every word she threw at him and paid attention only to her. He smiled at appropriate moments and she carried on, and he followed her gaze whenever she broke. He adored her, that much he couldn't hide. She saw it and it pleased her, and she didn't hide it either. The Frog knew he was a Prince as long as She was with him. And she was determined to keep it that way.

For some reason, I was overwhelmed by just the sound of his forced laughs and her constant chatter. There was so much life in them. The world revolved only around them and no one else existed there. They were a different color from everyone else around. I wondered what it was that made them so different, what could I take, and my one month refused to let me 'youth'.

"I know. But I decided I would get over him by this year... and.. like.. I hate myself for..."
"Its still January."

She smiled at him and they were quiet for a bit. Before they resumed their rhetorical conversation, I wanted to leave.

I walked back home and found that Dad had changed into his chequered blue lungi.

"Aren't we going?"
He snorted angrily.

Mom told me later that the people my father planned to visit thought I was coming over to see their son. Like.. to marry him. Dad apparently explained to the embarrased hosts that that was not the case.
I laughed and laughed until I realised I sounded almost like the Animated Girl even outside my head. Dad snorted in anger again.

"What do they think! You're too young!"

Hope, I thought. That's what I can take. Minus a quarter kilo of mutton.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Family Learnings for 2008 - I

2007 has left, clumsily, with the death of the last hope to a troubled neighbour. Bhutto was what sweaters around the waist are to inexperienced mooning sixteen year olds.

Nearer home, actually, at home, things were similarly distasteful, if not as fatal. I was turning twenty four on the eve of the new year, and since, unfortunately, it is not a very easily forgettable date, many concerned relatives decided it was time I was given advice. Since advice must be laughed at collectively and then secretly taken, I thought it best to share.

For the first time in four years, I spent my birthday and the succeeding New Year's with my parents. The fact that I came down and stayed with them for close to twenty days meant only one thing for the rest of my relatives. I was getting married.
Since my father is an ardent relative's-house-hopper, I happened to meet many kins of blood I either never knew or had forgotten had existed. But every time I did meet someone, valuable knowledge was passed down to me to carry along with many quarter kilo packs of mutton from Bakr- Id.

Lesson #1
Courtesy: Pale Lady of Market Circle

There's a reason I call her that. She is pale, and she lives in a market circle. Her house was the first my father dragged my mother and me in ball and chain to. She sat, very palely, of course, and smiled at us. When the tea and coffee discussion shifted drearily to the rising price of LPG and sugar and to Modi, she decided to focus her attention on me.
"So, your birthday is coming soon!"
I smiled like a kitten in a blanket.
"How old will you be?"
Her smiled melted into her white skin, leaving no trace it was ever there.
"Are you getting married?"
I looked at my mom and tried hard to not look at Dad. Then I smiled foolishly again. "Someday!" I said.
"Its already late, no?"
I saw myself in her eyes. My skin was in folded wrinkles, grey hair falling over my cataract blue eyes. My knees had been replaced twice and gold teeth shone when I sipped my sugarless, decoctionless, caffeine free tea.

The discussion shifted from me to parental responsibilities to an old unmarried relative in another part of town which my father secretly took note of. My mother squirmed uncomfortably as I held onto my walker and spat out my dentures.

As we were leaving, she handed me a quarter kilo pack of meat and spoke into my ear.
"Youth doesn't remain. Don't rely on it."

Lesson #2
Courtesy: The Noisy Hypochondriac

This too, is a reasonable nickname.

After an hour of watching her scurry about the house in diffrent directions still talking to herself, the walls, sometimes us and occasionally me, the Noisy Hypochondriac sat down. She confided in us about how she was certain she suffered from some fatal disease because she sneezed last year in the summer. And her doctor-he has wasted a valuable MBBS seat in his time. He was always certain everytime she had cancer that it was bronchitis.
Then, she turned to me.
"You'll be twenty two, day after, no?"
"No. Twenty four."
"You're worrying me." She suddenly looked many hours older.
She continued, holding her heart, controlling an attack. "Did you meet anyone?"
"I mean, did you meet any boys?"
"Isn't that why you're here?"

Before she fainted, we decided to leave.

My mother shot murderous glances at my dad who was busy planning the next house visit. As she handed me my next quarter kilo of meat, she said to my mother and me.
"The older the girl is, even older the husband she will fetch."

There were many lessons more, but I will share them next time. For now, my old eyes water from the brightness of an old screen. Oh, woe! To be twenty four! But yet, I will wisen. I will learn, as I did this New Year and as I did from the Family. I learnt patience and tolerance and how to scratch your feet without seeming to do so.
And prominently, that it'll take you till twenty four to make half a kilo of mutton out of house visits.

Happy New Year!