Friday, December 23, 2005

Car died today, got pissed off at a truck and going to India

This post is about the three things mentioned in the subject line.

1.> My car died today. She is in the garage. I had to get her towed. I had to rent a car. I was late for work. I had to withdraw money from an ATM not from my bank. I had to pay a surcharge of 3 dollars. It made me mad.

2.> Millions of UPS trucks were on the highway. They were all in the fast lane. They were also in the slow lane. They were driving at low speeds. They were'nt letting anyone by. It made me mad. Then they disappeared. I was then stuck behind a truck with ProFish written on it. It made me mad too. I was mad because I was late for work and my car is in the garage and I was driving a rental car and I was stuck behind Profishguy.

3.> I am off to India. I will take the train to the airport. I will take a train because there are no limo services operating on Christmas day. I am not happy. The reason I am not happy is before I bought my ticket to India I called up the limo operator and asked him if they operate on Christmas day. He said, "We operate 24 hours a day 365 days a year." I asked him but do you operate on Christmas. He said "We operate 24 hours a day 365 days a year." This time he said it with a hint of impatience. I called them up yesterday to book my limo. They said we do not operate on Christmas. I said "But you operate 24 hours a day 365 days a year." They said no, we do not operate on Christmas. I repeated with a hint of impatience, "But you operate 24 hours a day 365 days a year." They hung up on me.

4.> Bonus topic not mentioned in the subject line : My office had a Christmas party last night. I found out that people in my office prefer my company to that of our receptionist. It made me feel warm inside. But that could also have been the alcohol.

5.> Another bonus topic : I might blog from India. It depends on how many moments of sobriety occur during the trip. Hopefully not many. In case I don't, happy holidays and have a happy new year.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The "We" Blogs

There's this new breed of blogs that's cropping up all over the place. I call them the "We" blogs. These blogs are run by (supposedly) more than one person, group blogs colloquially speaking. Most of these blogs purportedly specialize in political analysis, some of them even excelling in the clarity of their viewpoint and it's verbal dissemination.

However, the most distinct characteristic of these blogs is that the individual bloggers who post on such blogs never use "I" in the first person. It's always "We". For instance, a blogger belonging to one such blog might say, "We, at, have asked Iraq to do a great deal in a short time." Or, for example, "We have never lost sight of the fact that we at this blog are more than one person. Really, we swear and attest to that. WE."

What's with this "We"? No really, does this "We" mean that every blogger posting on that blog is guaranteed to agree with the opinions of every other blogger posting on that same blog? Do these bloggers meet every night to be on the same page with respect to each other's positions on everything and iron out any discrepencies just so that they can continue to use "We" in every blog post without possessing opinions that contradict those of their fellow bloggers? Or how about if a member blogger disagrees publicly in the comments section of his fellow blogger's post. Does he get a "We" ultimatum to stop using "We" until such a time as his opinions reconform with those of the other blog members?

The truth is that using "We" in a blog post appears to impart to the blog a false sense of authority. Mentally, if the blog reader thinks there's more than one person supporting the idea being expounded by the blogger, he is more likely to be swayed by it. But how presumptious is it for a blogger to force his opinions on every other blogger posting on the group blog? If that were true, why even have multiple bloggers? Just get rid of 'em all except one, who could be used to fill up your comments page just so that the blog appears to have an audience. But you may still use "We". To denote respectability that is, instead of plurality.

Phrases I don't much care for

"Wow you have a lot of time on your hands"

This phrase is often uttered by people who wish they originally had the bright idea of doing whatever it is that I am proudly showing them. And why, when I do something extraordinary, does the possibility of my being an idle wastrel need to be raised at all? Can't I do something as a hobby? Does my life have to consist merely of my work related activities and day-to-day chores? You know what pal, no I do not have a lot of time on my hands. I am good at multitasking, in fact, even as I'm typing this post, I am simultanously driving a car, cooking dinner and giving a hobo a hand-job. How about that? Did that answer your question?

"Grow up"

I'm doing the best I can. If I could do it quicker, I would, trust me. But no matter how much I grow up, you still won't be one of my favorite people in the world.

"Get a life"

I'm touched by your concern about me not living a life that is upto your high standards of perfection, but really, it's not as bad as it looks. Anyways, I went to the Walmart, they didn't have any other decently priced lives in stock.

"It is what it is"

No kidding! I thought it wasn't really what it was, it was actually something else and that it just looked like what it actually wasn't.

"I'm just an ordinary guy"

You're lying. You think you are God's gift to the planet and you are having a hard time not shouting it out to the world.

"Stick a fork in me, I'm done"

I hope you have a first aid kit handy.

"Say what, now?"

What the fuck does that even mean?

"I'm like, you know, like, it's like, you know,........"

Get to the fucking point before I blow my brains out with, you know, like, this revolver that's, like, you know, pointed towards my head n stuff.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Trains, buses and taxis

"You know, I have always wanted to do something my entire life and now I probably won't be able to do it ever", I said to my wife as we drove over a railway bridge.
"What's that?"
"I always wanted to drive a train engine. I'll probably never get to do it now."
"You know, when you are a child you have your entire life ahead of you and whatever ambitions you might have, there's always a possibility that you might be able to fulfill them before you are done and gone. And then you grow old and then suddenly one by one, you realize that you probably won't be able to do some things at all. I mean, look at my dream of driving a train engine. I can say with a fair degree of certainty that I cannot envision a scenario in which it will be possible for me to get inside a train engine and drive it."
"I see".
"You see what I'm saying?"
"Yes, I see what you are saying."
"It's like a door has been closed for me for ever now. Previously, I could have hoped that I would someday drive a railway engine, but now there is none left."
"What's stopping you from doing that?"
"How do I go about doing it? I can't just walk up to an Amtrak engine and ask the driver to let me in."
"You can tell him it's been your lifelong ambition to be a train driver and hope he is a sentimental kind of guy".
"But it's not my lifelong ambition to be a train driver. I just want to drive it once."
"You don't have to tell him that. Your chances would probably increase if he thinks you want to be like him."
"Yeah, that's true. You think I would stand a better chance of driving an engine in India?"
"I don't know."
"I guess train drivers in India could be bribed or something to let me drive."
"Do you really want train drivers in India to become bribeable so that someone else can drive? What if you are travelling on that train?"
"Yes. You are right, it's a bad idea."

Time passes by.

"I think I could get a bus driver to let me drive a bus."
"You know, even if I can't get a train driver to let me drive his engine, I'm sure a bus driver would allow me to drive his bus."
"I guess so."
"Why's that so, though?"
"I don't know, I'm just talking."
"'Cause you know, you could probably do a lot more harm driving a bus around than a train. 'Cause a train's not gonna run off it's rails no matter how you steer it."
"You are a brilliant man."
"But then, on the other hand, a bus might be easier to drive than a train. Still, it doesn't have the same attraction to me as driving a train."
"That's good, you should never settle for something less."
"Do you think a train has a steering wheel?"
"You should ask the train driver to let you in and have a peek."
"That brings us back to square one. I don't think that's possible."

More time passes by.

"It should be easy to steal a bus if I really wanted to drive it. Many people have actually succeeded in doing so."
"I think being a career criminal is one door you definitely closed when you got married."
"Yeah, I guess so."

Some more time passes by

"I don't think I would want to drive a taxi."
"Did you drink a lot before we left?"
"Why would I even want to drive a taxi? I am driving a taxi right now. There's nothing exhilarating about driving a taxi."
"What are you babbling about?"
"Where are we going anyways?"
"The John Harvard's brewery."
"Yeah, that's right, I just missed the turn."
"You are not a very good taxi driver."
"I am pretty sure I would be a good train driver though."
"Lets stop talking now."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

From sweaters to cars

Woman sits in her house trying to decide on a Christmas present for her husband. She shops on her laptop, looking at, hell, a lot of stuff mostly crappy, stuff I wouldn't be seen dead in a ditch with like sweaters and golf clubs. Fuck golf. But she can't make up her mind. Poor procrastinating woman, always putting things off right upto the last minute. I think she's the same woman from the commercial. I guess once she's done with the commercial she just banishes from her mind doesn't she? But anyways, I digress. She suddenly sees a Lexus parked outside her window and fucking hell, it suddenly hits her. Why not buy a Lexus for the boy? 'Cause, y'know, it follows that after setting a Christmas budget for sweaters and golf clubs, what could be more rational than jacking it up to include a $ 35,000 car instead?

Give me a fucking break.

Monday, December 19, 2005

John Spencer died

John Spencer died this weekend. John Spencer, formerly of LA Law and currently of The West Wing (but formerly for John Spencer himself, since he's dead), was an actor I was a fan of ever since my obsession with LA Law back in my days in the mother country.

I was watching last week's taped episode of The West Wing this weekend, in which they were thinking of firing Bradley Whitford and giving his job of managing Jimmy Smits' presidential campaign to John Spencer, and I was like, fuck guys, he's gonna die next week, don't give him Bradley Whitford's job, and they were like, hell Bradley ain't doing such a good job, and like, John Spencer's the best in the business, and I was like, man, don't you people understand, he's not gonna be there to manage Jimmy Smits' campaign 'cause he's gonna be dead, don't do that, trust me, but Jesus, the stupid congressman from Illinois just had a bee in his bonnet about giving John Spencer the job, and he kept pushing for it, and I was jumping up and down in front of the television set going, you fools, you'll have to change your entire fucking script if you give him the job 'cause I'm telling you I'm speaking from the future and I'm telling you he's dead.

But then, John Spencer, who I think had a premonition about his impending demise, looked Jimmy Smits in the eye with the kind of cynical, jaded emotionally exhausted expression he always carried around with him and said, "No, I think Bradley's gonna be doing a great job, so lets not fire him", and it was then that I stopped jumping around the room in excitement and calmed down enough to realize how much of a dork I am.

But John Spencer is dead, and I'm sad, because I knew him for 8 years and he was a really good actor.

Rest in peace, John Spencer.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Indian buffets

Most Indian restaurants in the US offer Indian buffet lunches in the afternoon where you can eat as much as you want as long as you do it within the premises of the establishment. The buffet is exactly similar to buffet lunches or dinners in India, with one difference which is key to the point I am about to make here. In India, the process of eating at a buffet is as follows. You take an empty dish, fill it with food, consume all the food, then go back to the buffet and refill the same dish with food and repeat till you feel you have had your money's worth. Or till your stomach is full, whichever has a higher priority in your mental outlook.

In the US, things are slightly different. You take an empty dish, fill it with food. Then, when you feel the need for obtaining more food, you leave your previous dish at the table, take a fresh dish and then fill it with food. So you may not use the same dish to get a refill, for whatever reasons. Probably to ensure that regurgitated food does not have a chance to fall off a used dish and contaminate the stash of fresh food.

Now, Indian restaurants here follow two different lines of thinking with respect to bread, most commonly parathas or naans. Many restaurants have a single stash of parathas, which is a part of the buffet, from which everyone has to take whatever they need and come back for more. Restaurants that follow a different line of thinking actually bring freshly made hot parathas to every table. The advantage of this method is that everyone gets fresh parathas since they are made and brought to the table according to it's need. The disadvantage of this method is that the parathas that are not consumed by the people eating at the table get wasted, since they cannot be used by anyone else.

Now my point is this. The second method of distributing parathas, which appears to be less cost efficient to the restaurant owner, is usually followed by more upscale restaurants, while most restaurants stick to the first method. But if you ponder a bit more about the logistics of the entire thing, you realize something very strange. That the second method is actually more cost friendly. And it's due to the following reason. What people do is that they fill their plates with food and add, say one or two parathas, since there is no more space in the plate. And once the paratha is done, then the rest of the food in the plate becomes useless. The person then discards that uneaten food on his plate and goes back to the buffet to get a new plate and refill it with a fresh batch of food and parathas.

In the second method, since the parathas are at the table itself, discarding of food does not happen. Hence, even though some parathas might be wasted, costlier food such as fish or meat is conserved. So, if you really think about it, upscale restaurants are actually saving money on their more expensive food items while wasting money on relatively cheaper parathas. Strange innit? In addition to these direct benefits, there are also the indirect benefits of customers being happy to receive personalized hot parathas, which add to their satisfaction with the service. And this also makes them consume more parathas compared to other dishes, thus basically filling themselves up with flour instead of meat.

That will be one observation to file into the deepest recesses of my brain in case I ever decide to go into the hospitality business.

Friday, December 16, 2005


I wasn't reclining in a bathtub. I wasn't even awake. But last night, at about, heck I don't know, let's say 2:00 am, I woke up from deep slumber, expostulating in a language unknown to mankind ( I might have been saying "eureka" in Greek) with a smile on my face. Why did I engage in such bizarre behavior? Because yesterday I had spent an entire day pondering over a problem at work, concluding at the end of the day that it was impossible to solve it and somehow, when I woke up, I knew the answer to it.

I fell asleep not even thinking about the issue. I had banished it from my conscious. Which is why, as I woke up mumbling incoherently at 2:00 am, imagine my surprise when I ascertained that sometime during the night I had solved the problem that had been preying on my mind. And I hadn't even been thinking about it. Somehow during the night, my subconscious, frustrated with my conscious's ineptitute in dealing with the problem, had hijacked the aircraft of my brain, taken over the controls and had steered it to the solution.

And then today, I came back to work and found that fuck, my subconscious was a genius. Not only had it come up with the correct answer, it had probably saved a full day's worth of my time today. It kind of made me wonder if society would be better served by me staying asleep and letting my subconscious work for it's betterment rather than my conscious being in charge and doing jackshit.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


This post at Dog Journals reminded me of those cool one-step-above-the-cycle-in-the-vehicular-food-chain mopeds that could be seen, and probably are still seen scurrying about the Indian cityscape in a most industrious manner. I think every family in India has boasted the possession of at least one moped during it's entire lifetime. And why not, in a society of fuel conservation and high gas prices, what could make more sense than a motored vehicle that can magically turn into a bicycle on command once it's fuel runs out.

But one thing the moped isn't famous for is its speed. In fact I remember once I was riding double-seat with a friend on his moped, trying to climb up a hill. It wasn't even a real hill, just an upslope. And then, as we began the climb, a stray dog, a number of which populated the roads and lanes of my city, in fact sometimes outnumbering it's human populace, no doubt, attracted by the sight of an easy target, decided to chase us. The only problem was, and surprisingly, it turned out to be a problem he had to deal with, not us, that the moped just couldn't make it up the hill. And so the chasing dog would miscalculate our speed and wind up ahead of us, where, he would then wait with an expression of utter disgust while we apologetically huffed and puffed up to where he was, where he would again resume his chase, and the cycle would repeat. Finally, he decided we were too pathetic to be preyed upon and left us alone, no doubt, with the mental dissatisfaction of time ill-spent.

But a moped is also unique in that you can pile an extraordinary amount of humanity on it and it will still battle inertia to assume some form of motion. I remember during high school, four of us once piled upon a moped and went for a ride. And the driver, just to be a douchebag, began to swerve it from side to side. And being a douchebag that he was, he miscalculated the swerve, the moped began to wobble and pretty soon we found ourselves sprawled on to the tarmac groaning and bleeding. God that was painful, probably the most painful fall I've ever had in my life. Although the moped itself, apparently untraumatized by the experience, got up, dusted itself and cycled off without us. It was a gutsy son of a bitch.

Mopeds still exist in India. And nothing showcases India's inherent contradictions better than a skinny guy on a moped, holding the handlebar with one hand while speaking on a state-of-the-art cellphone held in the other. 21st century glamor and 19th century guts going hand in hand in apparent technological harmony as does the rest of India. And that, my friends, is what drives this great country.

Taking it slow

Usually my commute to work is a blur. I stay 30 miles away from my place of work and my drive consists mostly of interstate, passing through hills and woods and all that good stuff. But I never see any of that because as I said, it's all a blur to me since I'm doing about 85 mph all the way. My style of driving really leaves me with no time to sit back and enjoy the scenery, but heck, when you are speeding, along with the possibility of death or being pulled over, the adrenaline rush itself is worth it.

But today, after my car suddenly began to give off a strange squeaky sound from the engine, I decided to take it slow. So today I did a nice, comparatively benign 75 mph and took the slow lane all the way. You might say, buddy, what's the fucking difference between 85 and 75 mph? To you, I would say, sir, while 75 mph might merely cause my insurance agent's collar to itch uncontrollably, 85 mph would make him wallow in a fairly deep puddle of his own sweat.

But you know, it was worth it. For all my impatience with things not whizzing by as fast as they should, it afforded me a quiet moment to contemplate and look at things. For example, I never realized that the countryside I passed through looked so incredibly beautiful covered with snow. It was so beautiful it could quite easily make a poet out of anyone. And trees, man do trees, even those barren winter trees improve their appearance with a carpet of snow and icicles of, well, ice clinging to their branches.

And I saw a few houses on the side of the interstate that I had never seen. Nice cozy houses ensconced in the mountainside, deep inside woods, usually invisible from the interstate due to all the tree cover, but now clearly visible because of all the leaves having dropped off in winter. I wonder if these people bought their homes in summer, didn't even realize they live almost on top of an interstate and then come winter, one day they woke up and saw drivers peeking into their bedrooms as they drove by.

But when you are looking at scenery while driving, it's important to steer clear of other drivers who are indulging in it too. When the traffic in front of me suddenly slowed down for some reason, the guy in front of me who was busy gawking at the birds and the bees realized that a bit too late and screamed to a halt in a blur of smoke and fucking stupidity. He just saved a bunch of money on his car insurance even though he didn't switch to Geico.

And then there was another guy in the right lane who, regardless of the road curving to the right, continued on his original trajectory which unfortunately, as I predicted, would be taking him on a crash course into my car. But rather than alerting him to that fact, I just accelerated and drove past quickly. After all, if people want to die, they should be allowed to do it, who am I to dictate my terms on them? All we should do is get out of their way and allow them to perish in peace. And as I passed him, I saw that I had made the correct decision since he was speaking on a cellphone.

You know, when I grow up, I'm gonna be a steamroller operator and then one day I'm gonna just round up everyone who drives and speaks on the cellphone simultaneously, put a gun to their heads, divest them of their cellphones and ... just throw all those phones off a cliff, I guess.

But yeah, so it was a good drive today. Saw scenery, saw someone almost get killed, saw someone almost kill me and reached the workplace on time.

Public service message of the day : Doesn't matter if you do 85 or 75 mph, it takes you the same time to get to work.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bombay Moon

Beautiful picture taken by Pablo at Spanish in India of the moon in Bombay shining over the Arabian sea. I've never been able to take any pictures in the dark.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hallowed ground

Anyone fortunate enough to be present on the third floor of my office building yesterday would have been treated to a sight of inordinate hilarity. At 11:35 in the morning, a woman walked out of the office at the far end of the hallway, walked up to the men's room on that floor and walked inside. I am pretty sure she was a woman because she looked like a woman, was dressed like a woman, walked like a woman, giggled like a woman as she hurried back out in a distraught way and blushed like a woman, acknowledging her error. Also, only a woman would be liable to misinterpret the sign clearly proclaiming "Men's Toilet" on the door. By this, I do not mean to label women as a species capable of acts of such foolishness. All I meant is that a woman would be more likely to suspend her belief in the credibility of the printed word, instead, opting to verify it's accuracy through personal experience.

Her unprovoked incursion into the men's room irritated me. For ages, women have preserved the sanctity of their ablution center by keeping it out of bounds for men, only periodically providing tantalizing glimpses of what secrets lie behind those closed doors, when they enter or leave that hallowed ground. And for centuries, men have been taught through rigorous training at their mother's knee, high school peer pressure and movies featuring Johnny Lever that the only fate worse than death for a man is to be caught inside a ladies room. In this context, a woman, on the other hand, blatantly entering the domain of male urino-defecation seemed to me outrageous. I resolved to correct this wrong, wreak vengeance on behalf of all malekind, so to speak. I would grasp this opportunity to peek into the ladies room as my revenge in order to satisfy my curiousity as to what artifacts of mythology lay inside.

Firm in my resolve, I advanced in my quest and planted myself in front of the ladies room door. Placing a palm on the door, I pushed it forward. No squeaks of righteous indignation assaulted my presence. I entered the room. It was small, but comfortable. It contained a sofa, a coffee table, magazines lying on the coffee table, a karaoke machine with huge speakers and a bar. It looked more like an airport lounge than a place meant for discharging human waste. But hold on, this seemed to be just the outer waiting room, There was another door. I walked over to it, curious to see what lay beyond. Strains of music filtered through. Gathering courage, I pushed it forward and plunged inside.

It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the bright light. Strange as it may seem, the sun was shining in this bizarre land. It was a land of meadows, of bright red flowers and gurgling streams of urine. Birds were twittering and squirrels were running around chasing cheerful wads of multicolored toilet paper that were flying around in the cool fragrant breeze. A little white pony ran out of nowhere and began chewing on a low-hanging soap-on-a-rope dangling from a porcelain tree that stood next to the washbasin made of pure gold.

A number of stalls were scattered about with dulcet music emanating from them. The toilet seats were made of leather, covered in fur and a loving masculine voice would periodically compliment the occupant of the stall on the progress she was making in her endeavours.

All this was a bit too much for me to assimilate. I spun around, grabbed the door and was out of there before you could say feverish imagination. "So that's why women spend so much time in there", I thought to myself. Suddenly it all made sense to me. And then I felt the triumphant glow of being the only man in the world who would ever possess that bit of knowledge.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Digging out

Mother Nature didn't disappoint, it did snow last night into today morning. At 6:30 am today it was a full-on blizzard with wind and snow and vague sounds of things hitting the roof and what-not. We got about 6/7 inches of snow and although it wasn't enough to keep me home all day, it at least gave me the chance to go to work late after making myself a nice big breakfast.

Digging the car out of the snow is fun. It's like a game. The objective of the game is to accomplish the following : To dislodge the car from it's remote location deep inside its snow coccoon and make it travel-ready with the least amount of manual labor and time involved. I have whittled this game down to a science. This is how I do it.

Most people spend a huge amount of time scraping mountains of snow off their car using a snow shovel. That is just foolish and time ill-spent. My technique in doing the same involves wearing a waterproof jacket which covers most of your frontal body area. What you do is the following. You stand on the side of your car with or without an adoring look in your eyes. Then you open your arms wide as if to give your car a massive bear hug. Next, you jump on your car, hugging it passionately, so very very closely as if to invite it to enter your very soul. Then, you slide your entire body along the length of the car, taking along with you all the snow that sits atop it. Repeat it on the other side. Trust me. This will save you at least 5 minutes of shovelling time.

Then, the next thing to do is to shovel the snow in front of and behind the tires and you are all set to go. If that doesn't work, keep shovelling till it does. It usually ceases to be a fun game if it doesn't work after the first shovel.

As expected, the authorities had not bothered to plow the roads after the storm. But they did take some measures. What they did was station police cars at the entry to the highway so that no one could get onto it. No, really, that's what they did. Instead of assigning plowtrucks to clear the highway, they assigned cop cars to shut down the highway. Now that's called innovative thinking.

Friday photos


The "High Peaks" region in the Adirondacks. The Adirondacks are a huge area of wilderness in upstate New York. Great spot for hiking.


Grain silos in Vermont while returning from the Adirondacks. If Kerala is God's own country, Vermont is where God goes on vacation.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Snow in the offing

So apparently it's going to snow 4-9 inches here beginning tonight and ending tomorrow noon. This will be the first snow of the season. Well, to be accurate, we already had a couple of inches of snow earlier this week, but that was mere nipple-tickling foreplay compared to the humongous ejaculatory deluge of snow we are expected to receive tonight. Hopefully I might find it impossible to dig my car out in the morning, thus not having to show my face at work tomorrow.

Since I have lived in the ice-ridden bitterly cold New Hampshire tundra for a couple of years, frequently, I find myself feeling a bit of condescension towards the citizens of Pennsylvania who are, to me, a species that have not quite adapted to snow as well as I have. For example, when you know it's going to snow heavily, the typical New England snow connoisseur lifts his windshield wipers so that they stay above the windshield. Why do they do it? Who the fuck knows? All I know is in New Hampshire, everybody used to do it. So I know it has to be done, and so, I do it too. It's my own private piece of elitism. And then when I see people here with their wipers clinging to their windshields during a snow storm, ah you poor saps, I say to myself, smiling from the knowledge of being wiser than the common man.

Also, clearing roadways after a snowstorm is a concept alien to Pennsylvanian mentalities. I remember in New Hampshire, even during the snowstorm, snow plowing trucks used to patrol the highways continuously, and once the snowstorm was over, life returned to normal within a matter of minutes. In Pennsylvania, they have a slightly different world view. Snow plowing trucks only appear once most of the snow has already been melted due to the intense heat generated by cars that skidded into each other and the highway median and then exploded in balls of flame. Although that is a decent enough snow-plowing technique in theory, it leads to a lot of irritating traffic jams in practice.

But my wisdom in dealing with snow has come from bitter experience. The first time I experienced snow was when I was a graduate student in the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. I woke up, noticed something was amiss outside, opened the door and saw white shit over everything. So to celebrate, I did the only possible thing any male does when confronted with something inexplicably wonderful. I borrowed a friend's car, asked a couple of other friends to pile in and drove around aimlessly.

The friend, whose car I borrowed, was then vacationing in India (curiously, the same friend who almost self-immolated himself). Note that I had no experience of driving in the snow. I did not even possess a license. I did not apply the knowledge I had gained in my Mechanics class in engineering to realize snow might reduce the coefficient of friction between the tires and the road. So I basically took no precautions and drove as usual.

Soon I found myself along with the car and my idiot pals at the bottom of a ditch. It was kind of cool in a way. If you haven't crashed somebody else's car, you should do it at least once during your lifetime. It gives you a sense of utter helplessness when the car suddenly develops a will of its own and insists on driving itself in the very direction you are trying not to go, regardless of your steering wheel acrobatics, and then you brace yourself for the crash, and finally, when you are in the ditch, you actually feel better because the ordeal is over. And through it all, you are saying to yourself "Thank God that wasn't my car".

This crash was a good crash. Good because I didn't really total the car. Secondly, the car was already in such an advanced state of decrepitude that totalling, if anything, might actually have improved it's appearance. The only thing seemingly wrong with the car in it's post-crash appearance was that a pretty sizeable portion of the planet had gotten stuck in the space between it's bonnet and its body. There was an entire ecosystem within that chunk of earth, including a bird's nest without its residents, a couple of squirrels and a hibernating bear. Being the avid environmentalist that I was and still am, I did not harm the ecosystem. I left it alone.

I then called up my friend in India and informed him about the crash. "Is it totalled?" he asked hopefully. No, I replied. I could sense his disappointment through the phone. Ah well, I guess I had failed him. But it would always snow again right? Funnily enough, I never drove his car in snow again. Because even though I wanted to help him total his vehicle, I wasn't sure I would be able to crash it again without inflicting harm on my own person. And when all is said and done, driving into a ditch is no picnic in the park.

Comments enabled

Comments have been enabled on a trial basis. You may say whatever you wish. Invective will be tolerated, encouraged and in some cases, might even be augmented. And to the hate mail writer who criticized me on the lack of comments on my blog, no sir, this is not because of your taunts so feel free not to bathe in the glow of success.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A confession about my medical credentials

I have a confession to make. And here it is. When I posted about plastic surgery and my recommendations of things to refrain from indulging in after it is done and over with, I did so regardless of the fact that I did not possess any medical qualifications to do that. I am not a doctor, a surgeon, a nurse, not even the receptionist lady who asks you to go to the inner waiting room to, well, wait. In fact, I am not a professional in any field, not even the field I am supposed to be a professional in. Also, my website has not been accredited by the American Institute of Plastic Surgery. And I can say with a pretty high degree of certainty that I wouldn't even know if such an institute were to exist or not.

So that being said, I have been informed that my recommendations nevertheless, are still valid and should be implemented in practice. In fact, I now feel quite a bit of pride in having been able to offer highly competent advice on post-operative care for a medical topic as complex as plastic surgery without having had any kind of professional training whatsoever. And they say it takes 7 years to get a medical degree. Hah! Suckers!

I am also thinking of diversifying my pretend medical practice into other areas of expertise, one of which is dog-bites. I am fairly certain of what to do when one gets bitten by a dog. The reason why I am fairly certain is because I was once bitten by a dog and even though it's been quite a while, I can still remember the steps I had to follow to cure that ailment.

Step 1 : Kill the dog with your bare hands. It's ok if you get bitten again. Hey, you've got nothing to lose. You've already been bitten once, so you might as well make a day of it. Getting infected by rabies is like being convicted for murder. You cannot be convicted twice for the same offence.
Step 2 : Wash the wound with some kind of disinfectant.
Step 3 : I do not remember if you need to tie a tourniquet or not. No, that's for snake bites. I'm no expert on snakebites so I won't comment on that.
Step 4 : Rush to the nearest government-run hospital. Take a route you know will be free of stray dogs. After all, you don't want to spread your rabies around in case you have it. After spending two days in the waiting room, get 14 injections in your buttocks. Do not utilize those same syringes to satisfy your cocaine cravings. Purchase different ones. Don't be a cheapskate.
Step 5 : Stay away from all dogs in the future.
Step 6 : After you begin to have nightmares about you having a love affair with Dracula, who curiously seems to possess the face of a dog and culminates in him sinking his teeth into your neck, start seeing a therapist.

So there you are. That is all for now. Hope that helped. Although if you have been recently bitten by a dog, have not yet seeked medical attention and are sitting at your computer reading this in a nonchalant manner, I would advise you to get up, wipe the foam off your mouth that should be in the process of forming there right about now and follow my instructions detailed above. So be gone, dear patient, and be well.

Next up : How to cope with people who mistake humor for expert medical opinion.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Plastic surgery

Yesterday, on Anderson Cooper, CNN was showing a segment on plastic surgery and people who had undergone it. The ones who got it done to improve their looks that is, not the ones who had it to replace a nose bitten off by a stray dog. So they showed a "before" and "after" picture of this woman who had supposedly undergone the operation and you know what, the only difference in her appearance, as far as I could tell was that the "before" picture had her scowling like a truck driver with hemorrhoids, while the "after" picture had her beaming like an 82 year old virgin who just got laid.

In short, the only way plastic surgery helps you is in making you think you look good. 'Cause a self-satisfied smirk can make the ugliest person look somewhat less hideous.

And after the picture parade, CNN had Dr Sanjay Gupta on to ask him about precautions that should be taken after having had plastic surgery. You know, usually I have the utmost respect for fellow desis in the doctoring business, especially those who appear on American television without reminding Americans of Apu, but goddamn, check out his post-surgery rules :

1.> Try not to talk with your face clenched.

How the fuck do you clench your face?

2.> Try not to pull your face down.

Here he enters somewhat weird and creepy territory. The first thing that popped into my mind on seeing this rule was that god-awful scene in Poltergeist where the guy stands in front of the basin mirror and starts picking and pulling his face apart, pieces of which fall into the basin, till he's left with nothing but a bare skull. Scary-ass scene that was.

But since I was dissatisfied with the good doctor's rules, I came up with my own ones on what not to do after having had plastic surgery.

3.> Do not stick pins into your cheeks.
4.> Do not slap yourself repeatedly while wearing heavy workman's gloves.
5.> Do not hammer nails into your face.
6.> Try not to get mauled by a bear. If mauling appears inevitable, take precautions to restrict the mauling to your lower body area.
7.> Try not to fall face down on the floor for no particular reason.
8.> Do not step on a pitchfork, causing it to rise up and wallop you in the face.
9.> Do not jump headfirst into a pit of boiling lava.
10.> Do not attempt a Babushka. A Babushka being that cute Russian ritual where you take a small amount of vodka in a shot glass, set it aflame and pop it into your mouth while it's still on fire. Although I think the Russian version of the ritual involves firearms and striped baggy pants. A friend of mine from college tried out the non-Russian version once, but instead of popping it into his mouth, he threw it all over his face and clothes, turning into a ball of flame which we then had to put out using blankets. So anyways, don't try a Babushka right after plastic surgery. In case trying it out is absolutely essential, do it before surgery so that you get your money's worth.
11.> And finally, try not to smile too broadly, regardless of how pleased you are with your new appearance. Remember, if your smile is too broad, it might meet at the back of your head, causing it to fall off.

Update : Disclaimer.

Update 2 : The following sequence depicts a close approximation of a Babushka gone haywire. This is pretty close to what happened to my friend. Except he didn't belch flames from his mouth, simply because the fiery liquid didn't have a chance to enter his mouth.


Friday, December 02, 2005

Movie version of Shantaram to begin filming

Uh-oh. That gives me a year to finish the book which is lying at this very moment on my coffee-table in an intimidatingly bulky manner. It's my second attempt to finish it, my first attempt having ended miserably with it's return back to the library. This time, I shall prevail.

But Johnny Depp should be awesome in this film. Fuck, I would pay good money to watch anything he does. Wonder which Indian actors will be cast in the film. Should be interesting.

Overpass Graffiti


This bit of graffiti is on the side of an overpass on the Valley Forge - Philadelphia Schuylkill bike trail. Every time I pass this, I keep wondering what the cultural significance of a lizard (or a baby alligator) riding a chicken is, and what CUJO #1 is supposed to convey. Hopefully someday I shall find out.

What no-talent musicians hear when they play

I am a bad guitarist. No, wait, hold on, I USED to be a bad guitarist, like 5 years ago. Now I'm just a terrible terrible guitarist. I can play other stuff too, like pretty average keyboards, somewhat good drums and I've got a voice that is the aural equivalent of a finger in the eye. But as to playing the guitar, I suck in style.

So the other day I retrieved my old guitar that had been stashed away in the closet for a while, and in a fit of nostalgia, took it out and attempted to recreate the no-talent musicianship I knew I possessed. But a reality-check awaited me. Not only could I not figure out which chord is which, I couldn't even remember which fucking fret, when plucked would be the "C" note. And it was then that I realized that musical talent isn't like riding a bike. Once you lose it, you lose it. And also, you can't fall off a musical instrument. Unless, of course, you are playing the drums. Although, the stool you are sitting on technically, isn't a part of the drum set. Or is it? But, anyways, I digress.

Yesterday, I was watching a film about Def Leppard, the hard rock band of the 80s and 90s. Incidentally, the band that first turned me on to metal. And during a break, there was a promotional VH1 commercial which showed a no-talent guitarist just like me, trying to play Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven". The guy was barely able to crawl up the stairway and was hitting every step on the way. He was quite awful. And it was at that moment that I realized, Christ, is that what bad musicians sound like to other people? Is that what I sound like when I play the guitar? No way, man, I sound much better than this. But do I really? Because in theory his technique pretty much mirrored mine. The main principle of that technique being to pluck every note randomly till you find the correct one, then pluck that note, move on to the next one and repeat this sequence of operations.

And then, I realized something very interesting. When you are trying to play a song on your guitar, or anything else, when you hit a bad note, correct it and continue playing, you, the musician, do not actually "hear" the bad note you just played. 'Cause what you hear at that point is the song which is playing in your head, which you are trying to recreate on your guitar. You see what I'm saying? As far as you are concerned, the bad note you just played never happened. So you continue on with your song, safe in the belief that your musical output is of outstanding quality. And when you are done with your abysmal musical performance, you sit there flushed with the success of your recital and wait for audience adulation, which, in most cases, fails to materialize.

Till now, I used to attribute this lack of applause to audience jealousy. No one likes to see someone do well at something they themselves are bad at, right? But now I know, that's not the case. The reason we, bad musicians, fail to get our due is because there is no due to be gotten. We just sound terrible. And we should realize that and move on.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Stick shift sucked today

Usually I don't spend time wallowing in any regrets about having bought a car with a stick shift, because c'mon, a stick shift is so manly and all that crap. But today, fuck, I came this close to personally opening her up and trying to convert her to an automatic.

So I was driving to work along the PA turnpike, the highway of hell and then at the Schuylkill Expressway exit, it was closed. Closed entirely, no one being let through, because of an overturned tractor-trailer ahead on the turnpike. By the way, they call the big-ass eighteen wheeler trucks here as "tractor trailers". It took me 5 years to become cognizant of that fact. Till then, everytime I heard anything about accidents involving tractor-trailers, I kept wondering why the heck are there so many tractors driving around the country, and why don't I ever see them on the roads?

So anyway, because of the accident, everybody and their uncle had to use the Schuylkill exit to get to the Blue Route in order to get back to the goddamn turnpike. And since there were a lot of people and their uncles on the road, it being peak rush hour, it was stop and go traffic all the way, and my leg soon began to hurt from clutching and declutching. And then there was another accident on the Blue Route. Jesus Christ, what the fuck is wrong with people, you give 'em a huge fucking highway with 4 different lanes on each side, and they can still find a way to be in someone else's path.

But the end result was, as I walked out of my car and into my office I was positively hobbling from all the clutch related activity. But I still have no regrets about owning a stick shift. It's the only way to drive.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What's playing in my car II

Tool : Aenima

So you say you do not much care for hermaphrodites? Well, you might just revise your opinion about their tribe after you listen to this album. Even though Maynard James Keenan might not be a hermaphrodite (although rumors persist about his being asexual), his androgynous voice is quite possibly the easiest on the ears in the world of hard rock and metal. This album consists of buzzing guitars, intensely melodious, vulnerable vocals and the sharp wit that is a trademark of all Tool albums. Simply amazing stuff. This is the first cd I bought when I reached the shores of my foster country.

Favorite songs on the album : StinkFist, Eulogy, Pushit.

Soundgarden : Superunknown

A relic of the 90s grunge movement that continues to proudly bears it's torch. Chris Cornell's screaming vocals, Kim Thayil's ceaseless guitaring and darkly melodious songs. It all reminds you of the good times that were the Clinton years.

Favorite song on the album : Black hole sun.

Alice in Chains : Unplugged

Alice in Chains' final album before Layne Staley, the lead vocalist died of a drug overdose. You can make out the tenuous thread supporting Staley's grasp on reality in this grim and foreboding, but at the same time, intimately acoustic album (which is also available as a DVD). AIC put aside their amplifiers and distortion pedals to give us this very depressingly beautiful album, consisting of most of their hits, set in MTV's Unplugged studio, which is lit up with candles for the occasion and attended by a devout group of fans. Lots of quirky moments on the DVD that have been omitted in the CD, for example, when Staley fucks up the beginning of a song, sounds off an expletive to that effect and has to restart it. Best enjoyed when high on some kind of euphoria inducing substance.

Favorite song of the album : Brother.

Sigur Ros : Ágætis Byrjun

Think about the bleak, icy, rugged barrenness of Iceland. Think about the craggy mountains in the distance, quite possibly volcanoes, a cloudy drizzly sky and imagine you, standing at the outer edge of a volcanic crater, clutching your jacket as you peer inside, taking care not to slip and fall into the abyss. Inside, you see four people, armed with guitars, drums and all kinds of musical equipment, playing....what IS that music? You've never heard anything like it before. It all blends in extraordinary well with the rest of the ambience. It's dark, brooding music, but also magical, almost other-worldly. And you are somewhat concerned, because even though the words seem to be in English, they don't mean anything to you. And Jesus Christ, is the guy actually using a violin bow on his guitar to create those strange wailing symphonies?

Your eyes and ears are not deceiving you. Welcome to the band Sigur Ros. Quite possible the best thing to come out of Iceland since...well, I don't know of anything else that ever came out of Iceland. But you get the drift. This band sings in a tongue invented entirely by them. It's called "Hopelandic", basically a language which sounds like Icelandic, but doesn't mean anything at all. The album Ágætis Byrjun has an entirely unique sound, unlike anything you've ever listened to. I don't know any other band whose music evokes as vividly the landscape of the country they emerged from. It's an album of haunting soundscapes and orgasmic melody. Check it out, you will not be disappointed.

Favorite song on the album : Flugufrelsarinn

Dr Dre : The Chronic

Well, who woulda thunk I would ever be listening to rap, and lovin' it too? Well, actually,this is the only rap album I love and listen to. This record is the mother of Cool. It's the closest you can get to chillin' without having to slay a brother in the process. Of course, as is the case with rap, it's liberally sprinkled with references to sex, drugs and violence. And it is also highly improbable that listening to this stuff might send a feminist into paroxysms of delight. But if you decide to turn a blind eye to all that and concentrate on the music, boy is it a treat for the ears.

Favorite song on the album : Nuthin' but a G thang.

Massive Attack : Mezzanine

The Brit equivalent of chilldom, also called "trip hop". Dark sinister, intense beats, incorporating a number of influences, some Indian. The perfect record to play traveling in your car on a rainy day with a lot of time to kill till the next rest stop.

Favorite songs on the album : Inertia Creeps, Black Milk, Teardrop

A question for Star Wars fans

If the Jedi are so fucking knowledgeable and cool and wise, how come they still use those tired old light sabres while dueling when everybody else in the civilized world is using those zappy plasma rifles?

Light sabres are so 20th century, man. Get on with the times, Master Yoda.

Monday, November 28, 2005

What's playing in my car

Music is a huge part of my life. And so, I will be reviewing a few of my favorite music albums, in no particular order, probably in two or three posts. So here goes the first installment.

Pantera : Far Beyond Driven

If you are, say, in the process of getting mugged, and your assailant finds a picture of your brand new car in your wallet, and just to spite you, decides to set it aflame using his cigarette lighter, this is the album you would want playing in the background as you, in a fit of demented rage, bash his brains out with his own shoes.

This is the angriest album ever, by the angriest band ever. Also, curiously, this is the first cassette I ever stole from a music store during my music store cassette stealing days.

Favorite song on the album : Becoming

Marilyn Manson : Antichrist Superstar

A staple and a must-have for God-hating infidels. In the words of the official reviewer, quite aptly put too, I might add, "Brooding rhythms collide with corrosive samples and buzzsaw guitar riffs, while vocalist Marilyn croons irresistible melodies in the voice of a vagrant regurgitating broken light-bulb shards".

Enough said.

Favorite song on the album : 3 of them. The Reflecting God, Beautiful people, Tourniquet.

Nine Inch Nails : Fragile

For those who are not aware, Nine Inch Nails is a band consisting of just one person, yes, one person, namely, the genius known as Trent Reznor. Trent Reznor is the only person in the world who has the power, if given a bunch of myriadly selected pieces of lawn furniture, to create beautiful music out of them. This is his best album to date. Industrial staccato rhythms, beautiful piano pieces, suicidal melancholic rhymes, this album has it all. But at it's very core, it remains what Reznor does best. Music born out of lawn furniture.

Favorite song on the album : The Wretched.

Type O Negative : October Rust

Imagine you are a male zombie, and why not, and that you are gazing adoringly into the cold lifeless eyes of a female zombie, who is your twin-undead-soul, if you will. At the exact moment the two of you cease your adoring gazes and begin to consummate your passion for each other by feeding on each other's brains, this is the album you would like to play in the background as the soundtrack of your love-making.

This album consists entirely of love songs. Beautiful, melodious, mellow, horrifying love songs. Peter Steele, the Frankensteinishly good-looking lead vocalist of this band, creates a melange of low-pitched doomsday vocals with breathtakingly passionate yelling, with an array of stringed instruments and church organs in the background to produce a dazzling collection of songs. Their best album to date.

Favorite Song on the album : Red Water (Christmas Mourning).

Guns n Roses : Use your Illusion I

Ah, good old time heavy stuff with the original bad boys of Rock n Roll. Most people say Appetite for Destruction is their best album ever. I disagree. In addition to being better produced, this album shows a greater diversity of songs and, fuck, Slash has just gone haywire with his riffs.

Favorite song on the album : Don't cry.

Chris Isaak : Forever Blue

There is only one correct way to listen to this album. At midnight, in the darkness, with scotch on the rocks. The proven medicine to heal a broken heart.

Favorite song on the album : Somebody's crying.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Find the differences...

...between these two pictures. Look closely. And be patient.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


So the other day, in a fit of self-inadequate narcissism, I was googling my own name. I observed one extra search result than usual. Curious to see what it was, I clicked on it. Turned out it was a software forum at which I had left a question. Oh yeah, I remembered, this was like a couple of years ago. And then, below my query, I saw a reply, which I hadn't seen before, purportedly from someone called, lets say, Gopal (name changed to protect privacy). And Gopal's question was, "Are you Vijay (name changed to protect privacy) from Guntakkal (place changed to protect privacy)? Did you get married to Mohommad?" (Name, sex, religion and spelling changed to protect privacy).

Now that was very strange. Because not only was my name Vijay, and I was from Guntakkal, but my wife's name was also Mohommad, thus yielding a "yes" to that bizarre question. But here's the thing that terrifies me. For someone to have replied to my query, Gopal (who by the way, I have no recollection of knowing or ever having known), would have had to google my name and go through each and every search result in order to find this forum. That's a lot of work for an innocent googler to indulge in. So, basically, I suppose, what this means is that I have a stalker. Not bad in itself, because it satisfies my narcissistic sensibility.

Now if it were only one of those mild mannered cuddly little stalkers you see on the Discovery Channel, all would be fine.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Friday Canal Pictures

I biked the Delaware Canal towpath the other day. The Delaware Canal forms the boundary between Pennsylvania and New Jersey for a good 60 miles. I biked it's southern tip for about 15 miles or so. It was a nice cool cloudy day, perfect for biking or any other outdoor activity not involving getting wet.


Started off at this lake in Washington's Crossing park.


The towpath, made out of bright red gravel which sticks to your bike and later rubs off on your carpet. Before you eat anything you drop on that carpet, you have to make sure you wipe the red dust off.


Geese. White ones. White ones I like. The dark ones are mean-spirited, noisy bastards.


There are parts of the canal that are wide enough so that two boats could cross each other. Also so that boats could stop there for the boatman to take a piss. Kind of like interstate truckstops. Except without the homosexual activity in the latrines.


That's a wild turkey playing with the ducks. I think the ducks are ignoring it cause of it's red neck.


Turtle at the end of the log. There were 5 of them perched on the log. When my bike screeched to a stop so I could take pictures, the others jumped off into the water, except this one. He was probably deaf or married.


Ducks squatting on the towpath, all gazing in the same direction. Until I stopped, got off my bike to take a picture. Then, they all sat up in unison and walked towards me, probably to gnaw my brains out. I didn't wait to find out.


Great Blue Heron. Except it's not really blue. And it's kind of small for a great anything.


Another towpath picture.


A lock in the canal. Locks were used to raise or lower boats through the various gradients of the canal.


Snake at the bottom of the lock, sunning itself.


Another snake. 4 snakes in all, having a ball. Beautiful creatures in theory, horrible slithering monsters in practice.


My dream house.


This is where I would like to spend my retirement years, reading Wodehouse with a beer by my side. No, not a Budweiser, I said "beer".


This son of a bitch tried to leap over the fence and grab me as I passed by. He now knows one word of hindi. Madarchod.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Some general guidelines for writing me a hate mail

They say you can gauge a man's success by the number of detractors he has. Although I do not believe the guy who said that was referring to George W. Bush. But anyways, if such might be the case, then I consider myself to have achieved some success in my short life as a blogger. I have begun to receive hate mails.

To my hate mail writers, I have this to say to you. I welcome you and your emails with open arms. Let there be no confusion in this regard, I appreciate the effort you put in when you open your browser, log into your email account, type in the subject line and put your honest thoughts about me in writing. It is good to know that you care about what I write enough to detest it as much as you do. In fact, the relationship we are in, which includes me, the writer of this blog and you, the purveyor of vitriol directed towards my writing, is quite symbiotic in nature. Your ire feeds upon what I write, which you then proceed to communicate to me, which in turn provides me with fodder as well as motivation for writing some more material that might incur your wrath. So you see, it works out well for both of us.

However, there is one thing that could prove to be a source of friction in this relationship, and that is the breakdown in communication between us. I am quite sure that my writing is pretty unambiguous, in that, it is generally not too hard to determine the direction being taken by the train of my thought, the route that it is taking, as well as it's final destination. I make sure that all this is well exposed in my writing. In fact, sometimes, I go overboard in making sure that the gist of my observations is plain even to the most superficial of readers, thus frequently losing some amount of subtlety in my writing style. And as you know, a subtle writing style commands quite a premium in some markets. But you, dear hate mail writer, are guilty of a greater crime. The writing in your email, frequently, is ambiguous at best, incoherent and rambling at worst. And I do not mean to say this to you in an overly critical way. If the relationship between the two of us is to work, we have to make sure that the give and take of hatred and hatred inspiring prose is not shackled by a breakdown in communication.

Towards this end, I have proposed a set of rules I humbly request and expect you to follow when you are putting down in writing the unabashed loathing you feel for me and every organ of my body. First of all, and most of all, a big issue concerning you seems to be the lack of comments in my blog. I assure you, since I am sensing a suspicion on your part in this regard, that this is not because of any inadequacies that I might suffer from as a male and as a human being. I might have a number of inadequacies that I possess both as a male and as a human being, but none of those inadequacies has manifested itself in the form of lack of comments on my blog. That being said, let us move on.

The subject of your mail needs to be more substantial than "Grow up Boy". Let us for the moment disregard the obvious argument I could have made regarding your request for me to mature in body and mind faster than nature would permit me to, and move on to the crux of the matter, the crux being that your subject line needs to be more descriptive than this. Especially, if the body of your mail doesn't shine in the lucidity department either.

Please feel free to use expletives liberally. I am not one to cringe. If your expletives have the potential for communicating the gist of your argument to me more effectively than the rest of your verbal repertoire, go for it, I say. Please do not use ascii characters to cloak your expletives. I am not a big fan of those.

Please do not abuse punctuation. And by that, I mean please refrain from using statements like "Get my point!!!!!!!!!". The obvious disadvantage of punctuation marks is that they can only convey the intensity of your emotion, not the nature of the emotion itself. Here in this case, I clearly did not get your point, moreover, I was unsure whether you were requesting me to get the point or were inquiring of me whether I had got the point. See what I mean? And as a rule of thumb, if the words in your email are outnumbered by punctuation marks, it is safe to say that the coherence of your mail is going to be drastically reduced.

Injecting my nationality in your argument would be futile unless my nationality actually had something to do with your argument. For example, the statement "Do you want to be with the millions who say Earth is the center of universe! Then you be a Indian.." would have no redeeming value unless you actually followed it up with another statement that would relate my being an Indian and believing the Earth to be the center of the universe with something in my writing that you find objectionable. And while we are on this topic, let me just point out two other things. When you accuse my Indian nationality of being the cause of your anger, at least carry out some research into the history of my country so that you would know Indians didn't really believe that the earth was the center of the universe. Sure, we believed in a number of other ridiculous things like the earth balancing on a giant turtle, or the sun being a human being who actually owned a horse buggy and could impregnate women. But the earth being the center of the universe? Nope, that was the Catholic Church. Ask Galileo if you don't believe me. And secondly, again, notice you used two periods. Waste of effort and space.

And finally, to the gentleman who took offence at my post on multiculturalism, I didn't really imply that Indians would purposely ram their cars into Americans. We care too much about our Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas to do that. I am sorry you took offence at that post and threatened me that the next time I rammed into you, you would fire your double barrelled shotgun at me. Although I am at a loss as to why and when we shall ever meet and how you would know it is me that rammed into you. Unless you plan to go through the rest of your life carrying a shotgun and hoping that every guy that rams into you is me and shoot him. All the best with that.

But most of all, remember to ease off the punctuation.

Friday, November 11, 2005

So daylight savings doesn't push your happiness button, you say?

If you are a resident of the continental United States of America, excluding a few self righteous pricks in Arizona and Indiana, you must have adjusted your clocks two weeks ago to be one hour behind, in order to compensate for the culmination of daylight savings. Daylight savings, for people who are not aware, means that every spring you set your clock an hour ahead, and every fall, you turn it back. And as you woke up on that sunday two weeks ago, you were probably complaining about it to your girlfriend, wife, dog, mother, immortal soul or whoever you woke up in bed with, about the sheer pain of carrying out this aggravating act this time of the year, every year. And no doubt, at the end of the day, you were experiencing the acute depression that one usually does when darkness falls an hour earlier than usual, causing you to worry about a more damaging electricity bill. I feel your pain, my friend, I really do.

In fact, I also feel the pain you felt way back in Spring when daylight savings began, and you woke up, also on a sunday and discovered that overnight, you had been transported into the future, that it was not 10:00 am but 11:00 am and that you had lost an entire hour of your life. Think about all the things you could have accomplished in that single hour, how the world might have changed for the better. Oh how you wish you could get that hour back. Yes, I sympathize. I have been through it too.

But see, if there's anything that blind irrevocable faith has taught us, it is that everything in life has a purpose. Look at it this way. Say you were a fresh off the boat graduate student, studying in UMass, Amherst, and you woke up one day, and the world was suddenly operating an hour ahead of you. But you had no clue that was the case. So you went to school an hour later than you should have, and by a freak of nature, a rogue asteroid struck the very building you would have been sitting in at that point in time, if not for the fact that you were sound asleep in bed, ignorant of the concept of daylight savings. Now how do you feel about it eh? Fat chance you say? Probability one in a zillion? Hey, it could happen. The earth is currently passing through an asteroid belt and the chances of that happening have dramatically increased. You say you don't believe me? Yeah, that is understandable, I guess, since I am usually not the most credible of sources. But even if I just made that up, there are other things that could happen, like lightning striking your building, or George Bush mistakenly landing on your workstation in a fighter jet to proclaim "Mission Accomplished" in the forthcoming war with Iran. There, see, now thats not so improbable. Moreover, statistically it has been proven that 100% of people who were not present at the site of a major disaster due to the fact that they were late, have survived the disaster. Think about that for a second.

But let me give you a real life example of something that could have happened to you, which actually did happen to me, which might help you reconcile yourself with the idea of daylight savings. Let's say it was november, and you were sitting in the Classic Rock bar in downtown Manhattan with your buddies, having a good time. Beer was flowing like wine, wine like water and water like sewage, which was actually flowing from underneath the door of the men's room and creating puddles at your feet. But you didn't care, because you were smoking a cigarette, heck everyone was smoking something or the other, the floor was covered with so many cigarette butts, you could hardly even see it. But then, as if on cue, the clock struck 4:30 in the morning and you realized, fuck, 4:30 was the time that bars in New York close down for the night, and you weren't even close to being in that contented glaze of inebriation that necessarily has to precede the conclusion of a night on the town.

You were stumped as to what should be done. Panic was setting in. You had driven all the way to New York from Boston, and you weren't even drunk. Fuck, what a waste of a saturday night. But then, as you were getting ready to smash the bottle you were holding on to your head, 'cause passing out is passing out right, irrespective of whether it's due to alcohol or a head concussion, someone around you said that daylight savings had just ended today. And then Lord Almighty, you realized that you had an extra hour to drink away to glory. Oh, how sweet that moment was, you remember, one of the happiest in your short career as an alcoholic.

And that is what you need to remember, every time you curse at the person who invented daylight savings, that it could save your life or your sobriety one day, when you least expect it. Because, everything has a purpose and daylight savings is just another thread in the rich tapestry of randomness that is your life.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

This would be a good time to get rid of that body in your basement

It is Fall and deer are mating in the woods. By itself that is an inconsequential factoid. Animals will wish to procreate just like humans. But as it turns out, deer mating is not an activity that exclusively affects the deer populace while keeping the rest of the world sheltered from it's side-effects. When aroused, stags turn fiercely aggressive, even towards humans who for the most part, at least here in Pennsylvania, aren't vying for the attention of the doe that they have their eyes on. But even this aspect of the deer mating season does not have any major implications for humans. We venture very rarely into forests, and when we do, we usually watch them from a safe distance. Except if it's hunting season, in which case we do not venture into forests at all.

There is another aspect of the deer mating season that affects residents who live in these areas and consequently, me, being one of those residents. The deer turn suicidal. So when a horny stag sees a car coming down the highway, he turns to the not-so-horny doe standing next to him and tells her, if she won't bear his children, life won't be worth living anymore, and he might as well become a martyr to her love by killing himself under the wheels of the car. And most of the times, this spiel fails to find a sympathetic audience in the doe, who keeps chewing on her favorite piece of turf, unconcerned, as she watches the stag rouse himself into a frenzy of unrequited passion, until finally, he hurtles into the path of the unsuspecting motorist and turns into a shower of flying body parts.

And this keeps happening all over this state, which, as it turns out, holds the distinction of having the highest deer suicide rates in the country. The main problem is, unlike humans, who usually get turned on after 11:00 pm, when they are done watching late night Cinemax, deer get turned on during early morning and late evening, when most of the denizens of this land are either commuting to or from their places of work. And so, the roads of this state run red with the blood of these poor sex-crazed creatures and this is no exaggeration, the stretch of PA turnpike I travel on everyday is slick with deer entrails and limbs. In fact, if you've murdered someone, (probably for good reason, I refuse to judge a man purely on his actions) and are facing the tough conundrum of where to dispose of the body, look no further. Pennsylvania is the state for you. Just chop the body into small bits, throw in an antler for good measure and toss everything out the window as you drive on the PA turnpike. You will watch your life's work merge effortlessly with the rest of the gore and gristle adorning the highway, and at the same time, free up that space in your basement for your future projects.

It's called a chromosome

Today's topic of discussion on the Preston and Steve Morning show was whether all embryos are female when conceived. Yeah, it was a pretty erudite topic for a morning show to debate over, whose usual topics of discussion include matters of extreme pertinence such as what is the flimsiest excuse you've ever been fired for, or whether deer have any sphincters or not (they supposedly have one, an inner one, while everyone else has two, yes even you). But actually it wasn't so surprising. It all started out with people calling in, reporting they have two scrotal sacs and some woman who claimed to have four nipples and some guy calling in to inform us that his son possessed two peeholes. From that point onward, discussion somehow veered into scientific territory.

And then the hosts started talking about X and Y chromosomes. But here's the thing. Kathy Romano, the show newswoman, kept referring to it as a Y "chromosone". And the funniest thing was that the discussion started out with everybody except Kathy calling them "chromosomes", but gradually, under Kathy's influence, they all began to call it "chromosone".

I have two rules of thumb : One, I may not run for president unless I can pronounce "nuclear" correctly and two, I may not engage in a discussion on genetics unless I can spell "chromosome" correctly.

Monday, November 07, 2005

You know it's Christmas time when...

.....every fucking thing you buy in the grocery store has a picture of the senile old philanthropist on it. You know, the fat old socialist who goes around during Christmas sliding through chimneys and redistributing wealth. Even the toilet paper I buy has his picture on it. Now it might just be me, but when I apply something to my nether regions, I would much rather it not have a face on it, especially that of a cheerful old man with a white beard. Too many coprophagic implications.

And then today, I buy this coke can from the vending machine, which again has Santa's face on it. Except the fucking thing says "Holidays 2004" on it. 2004? So they brought out last year's coke stash for this year's holiday season? You know, I would much rather drink from a fresh batch of coke not emblazoned with Santa's face, than be force-fed something a year old just because it contains a reference to upcoming merry times. Christmas and coke have nothing to do with each other, get it? Christmas is a festive occasion you use to justify binge drinking. And no one binge drinks on coke.

Tech tip of the day

If you own cds that you bought when you didn't know how to take care of cds, and you find they keep skipping on your cd player, this is what you do. Rip the cd onto your hard drive, and reburn it onto a blank CD-R. Voila, you have a brand new cd that doesn't skip. If it's a Britney Spears CD, don't bother. The skipping is part of the music.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Getting out

I find that a major difference between life in India and life in the USA is the amount of time it takes you to get out of your house and enter that part of the world not contained within. In India, when my parents feel like they want to go out, it is a major event, requiring a lot of planning. They wake up early in the morning. First, they go up to the terrace and lock the terrace door from the inside. Then, they walk down to the two bedrooms on the second floor and lock the doors leading out to the balconies of both bedrooms. Then, they lock the doors to the bedrooms from outside. The reasoning being that even if thieves somehow managed to get into the bedroom through the balcony, they shouldn't manage to get into the rest of the house. Then, my folks walk down to the first floor and lock the door leading to the staircase that goes up to the second floor. All the windows are then shut and bolted. Then comes the wooden main door. It has two different locks. Outside the wooden door is an iron door. It has to be locked as well. And finally, the door into our yard, which gets locked as well. The entire process of leaving the house takes 4 hours. And then, they are free to go to the neighbourhood bakery to buy bread and come back home and unlock and reopen everything.

In the US, things are different. I don't lock my door. I have never locked my door ever since I came here. In fact, once I went out and didn't even close my door, and when I returned back home, I saw the door was open and thought that someone had broken into my apartment. But it was just me being forgetful. When I was studying in UMass, we didn't lock our doors either. In fact, every apartment in our student complex was, by an unspoken rule, a community apartment. Anyone could go into any apartment and do whatever they wanted to. Once, we had strangers we didn't even know, who entered our apartment on a friday night when we were sitting outside on our doorsteps. They went into our bathroom, constructed a bong out of a beer can, smoked it in our living room, then went back out, without us even knowing who the fuck they were.

I think along with all the material conveniences of life in the US, this is a very important unacknowledged benefit of living here. The ability to get out of the house without going through a lot of red tape.

Friday, November 04, 2005

War and Peace

I had set up my screensaver to be a blank screen with the word "Peace" on it. Apparently my Republican colleague came by my desk on monday when I was away from my desk, got pissed off and reset it to the word "War". Sadly for him, I never noticed it all week, and he must have been expecting an angry visit from me, which never happened. So, finally, he came by this afternoon to let me know all about his nefarious activities. I felt so bad for him that I pretended to be livid. I raged at him for defiling my computer and he went back to his cubicle as happy as a man could be. Heck, if a livid liberal is all it takes to make a Republican's day, then so be it.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Guys don't get burnt

The waiter brings me and my wife our order of food. He says to my wife, "Careful, the plate is hot". My wife looks at him, smiles sweetly and says thanks. I grab my plate, intending to pull it towards me in order to begin the feast. "Ouch, that plate is hot", I yelp. "The waiter gives me a look one would usually reserve for a pig munching on sewer garbage and says, "Yes your plate is hot too."

"Thanks a lot for warning me buddy", I mutter to myself. Then, just as I bite down on my stuffed buffalo chicken fried wontons, the hot melted goo inside leaps into my mouth, scalding the roof of my mouth, adding insult to injury.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Is he dead?

At a particular spot along the route I take to work everyday on the PA turnpike, there is a small nook tucked away into the shoulder of the highway. This nook is not easily visible from the highway. In fact, not many people would even bother to turn around and look back at this nook, especially since the turnpike also has a quite pronounced curve at this spot.

I, however, have been looking at this nook everyday for the past few months. Each time I look at it, I see a car, the same car parked in that same nook, everyday. Every day, I have tried to look at what is inside the car, and have failed. Mostly because I am always in a hurry, since I have made it a point of being chronically tardy for work, and so, I am always speeding at that point on the road. Plus there is that curve to contend with, and it is very difficult to negotiate a curve doing 80 mph and looking back inside the dark interior of a car parked on the side of the road.

But, then, after a few tries, narrowly escaping death, I managed to do it. And this is what I appeared to have seen. A human form sitting inside the car as if slumped over the steering wheel. Hmm, I said to myself, this bears closer investigation. The next day, again narrowly missing death, I looked back at the car. Again, I observed the car in the same spot, with the same human form slumped in it. Ghastly thoughts began to congregate within my mind. Was this guy ill, perhaps dead? Could he have been dead all these months? The car sure didnt appear to have moved since the first time I had seen it. And would it be that difficult for someone to die and just sit there inside the car and no one to discover the body? The car was somewhat inconspicuously situated inside the nook, so the possibility of that happening couldn't be discounted. I was wondering whether someday I should stop and check what the hell was happening in that car.

I pulled over into the shoulder with my tires grating on the shoulder notches. Fuck, those notches terrify me to death. I have a friend whose friend's friend apparently got killed because of them. Anyways. Getting out of my car, I walked over to the maroon sedan that was the target of my investigation. I could still see the human form slumped over the wheel. "Hello", I called out. No response. I walked over and tapped on the window. Nothing moved. I opened the door and then the stench hit me like a fist in my gut. As I tried to move the body away from the steering wheel, the decomposed flesh of his face started to become visible, and just as pieces of his face started falling off into his lap, it was then that I found myself waking up terrified and sweating in my bed. Damnit, I couldn't live like this. I decided then and there that I would find out what the fuck was it with that goddamned car.

So today, finally, I planned to actually pull over and check things out. I slowed down to where I knew the nook was, and I was just about to pull into the shoulder, but then I saw something else. The car had moved! It was not in the same place it had been all these months. And furthermore, I could clearly see someone inside the car. And the bastard was even drinking coffee. Fuck you, I muttered under my breath and accelerated. But at least I wouldn't have any more nightmares now.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Multiculturalism in action

I think the process of multiculturization of America is complete. And I say this based on the following observation. In America, the act of flashing a high beam on the road used to mean only one thing. That you were allowing the person opposite you the courtesy of safe passage. In India, the same flashing of a high beam meant the opposite. That you were commanding the other guy to allow you safe passage or you would fucking run into his car regardless.

So nowadays, with the number of Indians increasing in the US, bringing with them a whole lot of cultural baggage and the Indian interpretation of high beam flashing, Americans get kind of confused when someone flashes a high beam at them. They hesitate. Especially when they notice you are an Indian. And then they allow you to go first. Because I think too many Indians have rammed into too many Americans after having flashed high beams at them. And that is a pity. Communication breakdowns are always a pity.

But then, it is also a sign of the multiculturalization of America, which is a great thing.

Tit for tat

My neighbour is learning to parallel park her car between my car and another neighbour's vehicle. Maybe when it's time, I should toilet train my first born in her apartment.


This is my new blog. The next few paragraphs will explain in detail the story and my motivation behind this blog.

Concept-wise, this is an old blog. An old, old blog. It has been flogged to death. I will, however, attempt to revive this blog, only to reflog it to death. This will be a blog that will be an outlet for me to perambulate, meander and digress. The contents of this blog will be mostly superficial, irrelevant observations regarding mundane occurrences in life. As far as possible, I will attempt to sift through the pile of events befalling me in my day to day existence and try to retrieve those that exhibit a mundanity that is somewhat less pronounced than others. For instance, if I decide to write about brushing teeth, it will be about that instance, when, during the act of brushing, the toothbrush grew wings and escaped in flight, with me running in pursuit. Or if the simple act of taking a shower begs to be written about, then it will be done only if I discover prehistoric human remains within the hidden depths of my bar of soap.

Posts on this blog will usually be minuscule in size, ranging from a single word, for example "Fuck", to a few sentences, for example, "Fuck. I cut my fingers. I was chopping onions", depending on the verbosity of the mood I find myself in. Prepare to be underwhelmed by the lack of blazing insight you will experience while perusing through the writing on this blog.

I am a frustrated cook. I will vent the cause of my frustrations on this blog. I will sometimes, very seldomly, be happy with the product of my cooking conquests and in case such a hard-to-imagine scenario comes to pass, I will recreate the process of my satisfaction in detail. Readers would do well to try it themselves, although I take no responsibility for individual results. Also, if the result of your cookery sparks off any anatomical dysfunctioning, you probably did not follow my recipe to the book.

This blog will not contain any erudite reflections on the numerous political, religious or economic problems currently afflicting the world. Social commentary will be non-existent. Political viewpoints might make infrequent appearances, but only as a lever to bolster non-political points to be made. Gratuitous Bush-bashing will seldom be indulged in, except maybe in a passing reference, like for example I do something stupid and I say to myself, goddamn, why the fuck is George Bush so fucking stupid? That is one example of how a political viewpoint might make an inadvertant appearance.

And so, let me without further ado, on this fine note and with a swift kick on it's buttocks, launch this blog off into the great wide open spaces of the blogosphere. Hold tight, and stay dry people, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

But before we end this post, let me explain the cryptic remark made in my previous post. There was a commercial for a Halloween Fright Ride playing on the television and the ghost that was supposed to be scaring people was a big black guy in make-up, hanging around the place looking pretty bored with the proceedings. The reason I had to comment on such a thing was because blogger would not let me view my blog unless it contained at least one post. And now that's explained, on with it.

Friday, October 28, 2005


Never seen such a bored-looking ghost in my life.