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.