Tuesday, September 21, 2010

O When the Swine Flu!

It was the summer of 2009. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the flowers were in bloom and there was Swine Flu in the air.

Everyone was paranoid, as was I. The first obvious step was to go marching to the nearest store to get one of those night burglar masks that everyone was talking about. After which it was only human to laugh at those who did not own a mask and go “Ha! Ha! Suckers!” when they weren’t looking. It was also imperative to visit a doctor every time someone in the same room/builing/street/city sneezed. It was the swine flu protocol we were expected to follow.

Amidst all the madness, the inevitable happened. Schools and colleges shut down, which sent me packing off to my little Chennai village.
Little Chennai village did not care about swine flu. Pune was too far away, so what difference does it make if Eight people were dying there every day because of this new disease? Little Chennai Village did not give a shit.

I was still paranoid.  So I decided I needed a bottle of sanitizer to fight the flu. I’d never seen too many people use sanitizers in Chennai, except my best friend who has always been a compulsive sanitizer user, but I didn’t think it was a ‘Chennai thing’. I was soon about to find out.

I went to all the local medical stores to check for sanitizers. They were either out of stock or had no idea what a sanitizer was. The following is the translated Tamil conversation that took place in the last medical store I went to (and it was the last one for good reason):

Me: Do you have sanitizers?

Shopgirl: Sanitizers? What’s that?

Me: Err… You know the thing everyone is using because of the swine flu?

Shopgirl: Oh, that!

Shopgirl turns to storeguy

Storeguy: What does she want?

Shopgirl: Sanitizer.

Storeguy: What’s that?

Shopgirl: You know that thing everyone uses when they don’t want to wash their hands?

Storeguy: Oh, that!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

kala Khatta

Today, I had my first gola.

Gola is an ice candy made of crushed ice and flavored syrup, not very different from an American Snow cone. Kala Khatta is the name of the tangy syrup that was poured on the gola I had today.
I thought it tasted like a weird but satisfying mixture of uncarbonated coke and chat masala.

Golas are a Mumbai thing. Every Mumbaikar, who was ever informed that I had never tried a gola, launched into a sermon about how that was an absolute shame. It was part of the Mumbai culture. If you are a true Mumbaikar, you should have the guts to eat something off a roadside stall and live to tell the tale. If you die, you were never meant to be a Mumbaikar.

I had never tried a gola before, primarily due to the fear of diarrhea, death and similar things. But today, I faced my fears.

I'd gone to Girgaum Chowpatty to shoot for a short film project for class. One of the scenes involved my classmate buying a gola and that incidentally turned out to be our last shot for the day.

We got the shot and while everyone returned their caps and cameras to their bags, I was left holding the gola. Now I had seen how the gola was made, all the while twisting my face into many comical shapes and making various "eww" noises, but when I held it in my hand and felt the gola stare at my eyes obsessively, I was a goner.

It truly was the taste of Mumbai and standing there and eating it the Mumbai way, knowing that I might not survive to tell this tale made me oddly excited. The gola was ultimately yanked out of my hand and I was left giggling like an idiot, a little high on crushed ice. 

If you come to Mumbai, try a gola. If you don't die, promote the product and publicize it. Only Rs. 5.

Friday, September 10, 2010

20 Franks worth of Irony

Kaushik felt he was being an ethical bastard. He had met a guy who was collecting money for an aid organization on his way back from work. Now, Kaushik is the sort of big hearted person who'd let me write about him. He is also the sort of big hearted person who'd donate to charity, so he pledged 20 franks for this chap's cause.

Unfortunately, he realized that he didn't have enough cash to spare. So he asked the guy if he'd be around the next day. This guy said he'd be at the same place at 6.45 the following day, so Kaushik promised to come back and give him the money he pledged.

The problem was, Kaushik had an internet rendezvous planned with his parents the following day at around the same time he told the charity chap that he'd come back. He knew this at the back of his mind, but it didn't strike him when he made his promise.

Kaushik felt disturbed when he realized this and it kept pricking his conscience. Like I said, he felt he was being an ethical bastard. Being the good hearted Kaushik that he was and suffering from the chronic illness of love for mankind and similar things, he could not just shrug off the feeling and let it be.

So he decided to call off the weekly rendezvous with his parents. He figured he'd rather have his parents mad at him than have a bad conscience. The boy decided to stay back after work, so that he could meet the chap and give him the money that he had promised.

After a lot of guilt and obsession over his conscience, Kaushik had a plan and he implemented it. He went to the same place he met the Charity Chap the following day and he waited. He waited and he waited and he waited.

Guess who stood him up!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The New Age Hero!

You know Tamil movies where there’s a hero who’s trying to do some good/bring justice/save the world?

You know how this hero always has to face corrupt government officials?  You know how at first he has to run round and round the government building looking for the right officer to address his problem, refuse to budge even though he’s been told that he’ll have to come back four days later, get frustrated because of the lack of accountability of the government employees, contemplate what will happen to the country when a government office is so unorganized, stand outside a conference room waiting for the officer to come out so that he can have his cause heard?

I did all that today.
Only, I did it all in my pseudo-hindi style!

“ Nikki, I’ll talk to him in English if he understands.”
“ Noooo, Raveena! Hindi first and then I’ll start slowly slowly using English words and we’ll see if he recognizes them. Then we’ll switch languages.”

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Life Under an Umbrella

NikiD and I set out from college by 2 pm with an umbrella over our heads. Tup tup. Drip Drip. Tup Tup over our heads.The cabs drivers were being picky about their customers, leaving us standing like orphaned children on the road. Finally, after half an hour of abusing cabbies, we found one with a charitable heart to take us to the train station.

We got on the train headed to Dadar, at first being a part of the noise and later just sitting silent amidst it. I should mention here that we weren't just taking a joy ride, we were on a mission. A mission, as NikiD says, "To save the world. One coast at a time."

We pushed ourselves out of the train at Dadar station and watched some women fight to make their way into the madness.

" Which side is the beach, Niki?"
" Isn't it always on the west?"
" Yea? Why?"
" Because, Raveena, it's the west coast!"
" Oooooh. You're so full of wisdom" ( This was said with genuine appreciation. No sarcasm. Really, I'm just that spaced out! )

Turns out, the place where Uma Thurman trains her child
warriors is in Dadar!

We made our way through the cramped, cacophonous station saturated with the smell of rotting vegetables. The cabwallas were still keeping up their hormonal behavior, so we walked on hoping to find a cab on the way, only we never did.

With sore feet, we got to Dadar Chowpatty, which overlooked the Bandra-Worli Sealink and looked absolutely stunning. We walked towards the parapet, knowing that we'd find what we had come looking for. And sure as hell, there it was stretched across the beautiful landscape - Garbage! 

"Omg Niki! How can we clean this up?! "
" We can't say we aren't going to clean it up because it's too filthy."
" Counterproductive, that!"

Niki was as excited as ever to have found the garbage we had come looking for and I was left feeling appalled by the sheer amount of the garbage we had found. I was also bogged down about the idea of inviting people for a coastal clean up after having a first hand look at what it involved.

Niki and the garbage she's going to
clean up! =D
We walked on, looking at everything else the beach had to offer and finding amusement in all that we saw. That included a stranded pumpkin, some onions, a comb, a matka to cook food in, plastic cutlery, stranded coconuts and lovelorn couples under umbrellas. It was insane, all the things that could be found on a little beach.

Turns out, Dadar chowpatty is not meant for people who are crow-o-phobic or have the tendency to annoy crows. They seem to form the majority of the population, followed by the couples under umbrellas.

We walked on, seeming much like NGO employees with our Kurtas, Jhola bags and our college ID cards hanging around our necks, looking at the beautiful water that was oblivious to the garbage it hosted. 

We left when we saw a large cloud edging its way over our heads. It started with a small tup tup, drip drip, tup tup on the umbrella over our heads till it grew so loud that it drowned out everything else. 

By the time we got to the stench of rotting vegetables at Dadar station, we were drenched front and back. NikiD made her way to the platform where the north-bound trains arrived, while I went on to find the train that would take me back to college. College meant hot Chai and that's all I was thinking about all the way there.  

It was one hell of a day - seeking garbage, finding it, wanting to clean it and planning it.
If you are from Mumbai and you would like to be a part of a small change, you should come for the clean up, because someone needs to care and you have the choice to be that someone. 

Ross Geller: Well, like that, only instead of a chair, it's a pile of garbage. And instead of a jacket, it's a pile of garbage. And instead of the end of the day, it's the end of time, and garbage is all that has survived!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Golmal, God, Gravity

It was nearing the end of the school year and the class was worse than it was when the year started off. The girls were okay, because they could be bullied into submission but the boys were beyond control. They made fun of the old man who could be seen brushing his teeth in his underwear through the classroom window. He ultimately threatened to sue the school, which caused the principal much distress.They occasionally infuriated a police officer. They threw chairs and benches down from the third floor just to see what happened and just generally engaged in obnoxious behavior just for the fun of it.

I really liked my class boys. I would never have admitted it back then, but they were my main source of entertainment. Ofcourse there were teachers who were rather amusing, like the History guy who referred to all of us as 'Hotty Fellows', each time he got annoyed with us. Or the French guy who could never tell the guys apart from the girls. But the boys always had the best ratings, that is, until Mr. Joseph came into our lives.

Joseph came into our lives because of the boys and their unbelievable acts of shame that brought me much amusement. Our maths teacher who I thought had given up all hope on us, proved me wrong by bringing Joseph to class. It was her final attempt, albeit in vain, to inspire our class boys to behave in a civilized manner. Her intentions, I'm sure, were good but her choice of character to evoke said inspiration was rather bad. Horrible, actually. 

Joseph was the head of the Mathematics department and he talked like he had a rubber ball stuck in his mouth, which meant that one needed at least 5 seconds buffer time to process and understand each of his sentences. And my teacher thought this man could change the boys with his moving speech? Go figure!

True to his name, Joseph was a staunch Christian and made that very clear from the start. He droned on for an hour about insignificant things which were hastily forgotten. As his parting gift to us, he decided to prove to us that God exists. To do this, he rather impolitely snatched a pencil from a first bencher who looked like he was on the verge of shooting himself out of boredom and threw it up in the air. As we had expected, the pencil fell back down. Catching the pencil with much skill, Joseph told us in a very matter-of-fact tone, "I drew dee penchil ub in dee air. By deed id comb bag down? Begoz ob God !"

I dove under the desk unable to stop laughing and the atheist friend asked her shoes, " Gravity! Fukin' Gravity! Hasn't he ever heard of Gravity! " 

It was the best maths class, EVER!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Compulsive Blog Link Changer

Dear Reader,

As you may have noticed, I have changed the link to my blog again. I figured I might as well be true to my blog once NikiD suggested the name, so if you want to blame anyone, it should be Niki.

Yes, I am grinning shamelessly at this moment but I urge you to not judge my fickle little mind.

This is the last time I change my link. I swear. Really. Pinky Promise.

This shall be the space where I put up my work, write about life, scribble abstractly, etc.
Please do come often and sit and chill with some Chai. Bring me candy when you come, because I like getting free things to chew on. Leave some comments, because I like to read what you have to say.



Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Flashback of an Inconvenient Truth

It was the second semester of college and I was determined that unlike the first semester, I would get up every morning and attend all my classes and not be on the verge of getting kicked out of college because of attendance shortage. That didn't work out the way I had planned. Infact, it still doesn't work that way.

So I got up late one Saturday, looked at my watch, said "Oh! [insert swear word here] " and ran to college. Actually, I ran till the bus stop, I don't think running inside the bus would have helped my cause. Anyway, I had already missed the first two lectures and the much celebrated break that followed and by the time I conquered three flights of stairs, I was late for my third lecture.

Thankfully the door was open and we were having a documentary screening, so my prof only gave me a look when she saw me walk in late. I didn't care enough to decipher or react to the look because I was only there for attendance which, she hadn't marked yet.

For some absurd reason which I shall never understand, I wanted to sit at the far end of the class. I walked past the screen and the teacher's table, noticing that the documentary being shown was 'The Inconvenient Truth'. Now I don't know how it happened but it sure as hell happened - the audio cord got caught around my foot and it snapped.

Once I realized this, I just stood there facing the class and apologizing in as many ways as I possibly could. My class looked at me, not understanding why I was performing a little dance there with weird hand gestures and singing apologies. So then I pointed to the laptop and started singing 'wire wire'. Realization dawned on their bored faces as two boys came up front to investigate what had actually happened. ( My class is not usually sexist but when it comes to technical things, we usually let the boys do all the dirty work)

They figured that the cord had completely snapped and that there was no way of playing the video, not even with the mike. I stood next to them, poking their arms, begging them to somehow fix it because my professor was finally beginning to understand what had happened and I was worried that she wouldn't give me attendance.

I stood there, making sad faces, reciting 'Don't be mean, you're so mean, don't be mean', grinning widely out of embarrassment, poking people's arms and just being awkward. So what does Yohan do at this time? He takes the mike and says into it, "Thank Ravinay Hosephine for ruining the movie. And this, friends, (gesturing at me) is the 'inconvenient truth'!"

The class burst into laughter and I experimented with various awkward facial expressions and hand gestures while my prof looked really annoyed because she finally had to get up from her chair and do something. Lots of teasing ensued with me standing there and grinning like a damn idiot for the lack of a better reaction.

Silver Lining : I got attendance !

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Mornin' Musings

This morning, an interesting question came to my mind when I was doing sip, sip, sip with my perfectly concocted chai. 

Considering that the Universe has everything planned for you (Very How I met Your Motherish, I know) and it all leads to "Something", I can see two distinct paths my life could possibly take. We all know what the ultimate end is ( Yes, I memento I mori! ) but I believe there's a point, somewhere before that, where everything falls into place. A point where you'll come to believe that you've arrived somewhere that explains or justifies your struggle against the crap life threw at you just for the heck of it, a point where you feel like it's all okay, a point where you stop fighting and just bask in divine realization. 

So, When two roads diverge in a yellow wood 
And I choose the one that leads to Mumbai:

Does Life give me what I Want ?

Or, Does life give me what I Deserve?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Thalivar Rajinikanth!

Although I didn't know it back then, Rajinikanth (Thalaivar Valgha!) was an internal part of my tamizh upbringing. Even the average North Indian who thinks everyone from the south is a malayalee or a madrasi, seems to know who Rajinikanth(Thalaivar Valgha!) is. They also know the Tamizh ghana song, Apidi Podu, but that is not relevant to the point I'm trying to make. Even though they think we are barbarians who have never heard of Metallica, They know that Thalaivar is so awesome that physics is far too scared to come in his way. 

However, it has recently come to my attention that some do not know the extent of Thalaivar's awesomeness. In my attempt to educate the ignorant masses, I have complied a sacred list of facts about Thalaivar. This list is true. This list is based on facts. This list is awesome. People have died mysteriously for questioning the veracity of the list. Questioning this list is equal to questioning the sheer awesomeness of Rajinikanth (Thalaivar Valgha!). 

If you do now know who Thalaivar is (Shame on you!) or if you are a non-believer, read on but only after you prepare yourself to be blown away. 

When Rajinikanth does push-ups, he isn't pushing himself up, he's pushing the earth down.

Rajinikanth once kicked a horse in the chin. His descendants are referred to as 'Giraffes' by the common man.

Rajinikanth never wet his bed as a child. The bed wet itself in fear. 

Rajinikanth doesn't breathe. Air hides in his lungs for protection.

When Rajinikanth looks in the mirror, the mirror shatters. Not even glass is stupid enough to come between Rajinikanth and Rajinikanth.

Rajinikanth's calender goes straight from March 31st to April 2nd. No one can fool Rajinikanth

Rajinikanth once had a heart attack. His heart lost.

Outer space exists because it's afraid to be on the same planet as Rajnikant

Rajnikant's house has no doors, only walls that he walks through

Rajnikant doesn't wear a watch, HE decides what time it is.

Rajnikant grinds his coffee with his teeth and boils the water with his own rage.

There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; Rajnikant lives in Chennai.

Rajnikant once ate an entire bottle of sleeping pills. It made him blink.

Rajnikant's every step creates a mini whirlwind. Hurricane Katrina was the result of a morning jog.

When Rajanikanth enters a room, he doesn’t turn the lights on, he turns the dark off.

Rajanikanth can kill two stones with one bird.

There is no such thing as global warming. Rajanikanth was cold, so he turned the sun up

Rajanikanth was once on Celebrity Wheel of Fortune and was the first to spin. The next 29 minutes of the show consisted of everyone standing around awkwardly, waiting for the wheel to stop.
Leading hand sanitizers claim they can kill 99.9 percent of germs. Rajanikanth can kill 100 percent of whatever he wants.
Rajanikanth once shot down a German fighter plane with his finger, by yelling, “Bang!”
In an average living room there are 1,242 objects Rajanikanth could use to kill you, including the room itself.
The square root of Rajanikanth is pain. Do not try to square Rajanikanth, the result is death.
When you say “no one’s perfect”, Rajanikanth takes this as a personal insult.

The Bermuda Triangle used to be the Bermuda Square, until Rajinikanth kicked off one of the corners.
Rajinikanth has already been to Mars, that's why there are no signs of life there
Rajinikant proves Newton wrong all the time. Every time he performs an action, he simply eliminates anything and everything that can provide the reaction.
Rajinikanth doesn't move at the speed of light. Light moves at the speed of Rajinikanth
Rajinikanth knows Victoria's secret

Rajinikant doesn’t bowl strikes, he just knocks down one pin and the other nine faint out of fear.
The last time Rajinikanth killed someone, he slapped himself to do it. The other guy just disintegrated. Resonance.
When Rajanikanth gives you the finger, he’s telling you how many seconds you have left to live.

Mind it!

Sigh !

I've taken a course in creative writing this semester. I'm not sure how much creativity goes into it but there has been a lot of writing. Surprisingly, I seem to enjoy all the forceful writing I'm subjecting myself to. So now, not only am I lusting after good writers, I'm also jealous of them. Sigh.