Thursday, December 28, 2006

If it isn't snowing, it must be Christmas

The title refers to global warming and the fact that it was 70 degrees during Christmas and there was no snow, so please, people, listen to Al Gore and stop creating carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide is fine. You there, with the sulphur dioxide, quit it.

There was a time about two weeks ago when I realized that I was burnt out. The burn was due to work and everything else. It was about the same time that I discovered that being a "self-referential" blogger was apparently not a good thing to be and the fact that I had been called one in the past (that too, by an IISc professor) made it even worse. Plus, add to that the wife being gone to India for a two week long vacation and that I couldn't be with her because of the vagaries of that American institution formerly known as the INS, later known as the BCIS and presently known to no one except their own selves as the USCIS, not that it matters.

So it was that a nervous wreck took over the reins of my holidays and that was me. I took the Christmas week off, not knowing what to do except in the short term, consume as much alcohol as was humanly possible and try not to think about that constant ache in my head. The ache began one day when I was lifting weights with my legs. I have observed that people who lift weights do so using every muscle in their body except the ones in their legs. Apparently the fact that the lower half of the male body is perpetually covered with fabric dissuades most health-conscious men from exercising their legs. But not me because I am a non-conformist.

So as I was lifting this extremely heavy weight with my legs, doing what they call a squat, I experienced a sudden twinge of pain somewhere in my brain between the second and third ligaments, speaking as a professional. And ever since, my head has been hurting. Apart from the vague realization that I might be dying due to a burst cerebral blood vessel, there was also that irritating perpetual headache. All in all, these factors made life very unpleasant during Christmas week. Plus, no one to complain to, wife being in India and no contact with my graduate advisor for the past 6 years.

When faced with adversity, most men face it. Some run away from it. Since I am a twentieth century adversity guy, I drive away from it.

I decided to take a long drive. To New England. Every few months in my life, there is this itch that builds up in me with regards to New England, where I first landed on the Mayflower in the form of the Amtrak Vermonter. New England will forever be my ideal place to live in the US. In large part, it's because I spent my graduate life there. Also, since it's the very first place in the US that I found myself in, now, even after seeing the rest of the country, my subconscious still associates everything that is magical and beautiful about the US with New England.

So, a few times every year, this irrational itch drives me to visit Massachusetts and my university, UMass Amherst, and haunt the surroundings for a day or two. And now, since I had a weeks worth of spare solitary time, I decided to indulge the itch.

Renting a car, I drove north. Why rent a car? Well, my own car is a stick shift. And to travel from Philly to Massachusetts, you have to pass through New York City. Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. Also, where there are miles of traffic backup where you have to keep clutching and de-clutching if you have a stick shift. No, I needed an automatic. Plus, I was planning on covering some heavy mileage.

After catching some heavy traffic on the NJTP, I wondered whether I should visit my friend zambezi who lives in New Jersey. If they call it living, that is. I called him at 3:30 in the afternoon to see if he was in the mood for a few beers. But I got no response. He was in a meeting or something, busy driving the economy for the rest of us blue collar workers (he has people working under him *awe*). When he finally called back, I was well past the George Washington Bridge (that bright young thing that connects New Jersey with New York City) after having spent the better part of an hour on the bridge, clutching and de-clutching in my mind because the car was a sweet automatic. Zambezi asked me to turn back and come see him because his wife was out for the weekend as well, and he needed a drinking buddy. But seeing the traffic on the other side of the road, I refused. I had had enough of George Washington, with all due respect to the bridge guy.

I reached Amherst at 8:30 in the evening. I decided to bunk in the Quality Inn at Hadley, about a mile away from the university. The receptionist made it a point of telling me that they had an indoor swimming pool. The temperature was 30 degrees Fahrenheit, or -1 degrees Celcius. Yes, the time was ripe for a swim.

I went to what used to be my favorite haunt in Amherst, the Amherst Brewing Company. If you are ever there, order the stuffed chipotle chicken jalapeno poppers. They are jalapeno peppers, stuffed with cheese and chicken, an unusual situation for a bird to find itself in, inside a vegetable. Usually it's the other way around.

Hey, if any of you live in Massachusetts or surroundings, this is what I would like you to do. Drive to Amherst. If you are in Boston, take the Masspike W to 91 N, then the Northampton exit and route 9 E to Amherst. If you are in Connecticut, take 95 N to 91 N. If you're in Vermont, first build yourself a road that goes south. After you reach Massachusetts, drive on 91S and take the Northampton exit. If you're in New Hampshire, drive north away from Massachusetts because c'mon, we all know how you feel about Massachusetts.

But anyways, coming back to the point, when you reach Amherst, visit this pizza joint called Antonio's in downtown Amherst village. It has the best pizza in the whole wide world. And I'm not just saying it because I invested in it, which I haven't. Basically it is gourmet pizza. For example, spicy chicken with blue cheese. Or barbequed chicken bacon with ranch dressing. Steak and mushrooms. Who the fuck makes pizzas like these? No one. Also, you will be immortalized on film. They have a live webcam on the premises. By the way, I just found out that they also serve other university campuses like Texas A&M and Brown University. So instead of doing the Hajj this year, travel to Antonio's Pizza in Amherst, MA instead. Not getting killed in a pilgrim stampede will be an additional bonus.

(To be continued)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas gift

Haven't yet decided on a Christmas gift for that special African-American in your life who yearns to be a white superhero? Here, bling. Bling bling. You're welcome.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Waving to strangers

The thing I like the most about this country is the extraordinary friendliness of its natives. Virtual strangers will hi and hello you at every opportunity they get. Sometimes it can be a problem for social outcastes like me who are not used to this level of camaraderie from their fellow inmates. It is therefore second nature for me in such cases to react with a precise amount of witlessness that is calculated to curdle the milk of this human kindness and turn it into the yogurt of hostility.

I was sitting in my car at the train station waiting for the Amtrak to roll in. I saw a woman running along in order to cross the tracks and reach the train on the other side. As I stared in her direction trying to gauge whether she would make the trip in time, she smiled and waved in my direction.

Perplexed, I pointed to my own face inquiringly because my intense inferiority complex disallows me from assuming that when anyone is waving in my direction, they are, in fact, waving at me. The woman pointed back, yes you.

It was then that I turned my neck in order to enact that well documented move where you look behind to check the presence of someone behind you who could be the target of somebody's attention and not you. This appeared to be the final straw. The woman slapped away an annoyed never mind and continued to race to her train. That will probably be the last time she is friendly to a stranger. Too much red tape involved.

And needless to say, this will continue to happen to me time and time again as single-handedly I continue to make Americans more xenophobic.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Fly Eagles fly

I opened my dryer and the shiniest dime I've ever seen popped out. (insert joke about money-laundering here).

The fucking Eagles won tonight. Getting drunk on monday night is a lot of fun.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Don't stop your swaying

We were eating lunch in an Indian restaurant, me and my American colleagues. Some trashy song from contemporary Bollywood was playing. One of my colleagues was obviously enjoying it to the extent that his head began to sway to the rhythm.

"Do you have this cd?", he asked me.

"No", I replied.

"Why not?"

"Frankly, this music is garbage", I replied.

"Really? In what way?"

"Well, it is exactly similar to the thousands of other songs being churned out currently in Bollywood", I said.

"I see", he replied.

I noticed that he had stopped swaying to the music. I felt bad.

"Listen", I said, "you don't have to stop swaying just because I said the music is bad. Please continue your swaying, don't mind me".

"I stopped swaying to eat", he said, but I wasn't buying it and even after putting food into his mouth he continued to not sway. Now I felt really bad. After a while, a different song came on, I don't remember what the fuck it was, but I liked it.

"Okay, this is good music right here", I said to the swayer. "This would be a good song to sway to."

"Shut up", he replied with a noticeable lack of gratitude.

Sometimes, the best gestures go under-appreciated.

Song of the day

Dayaghana by Suresh Wadkar

Original song here.

Excellent, excellent cover of this song by another artist that I found on the internet here.

Listening to this song always, as we say in marathi, "erects a thorn on the body". Translated into English, it basically means that the song gives you goose pimples. The song is composed in Raaga Poorvi. Since I already have an Indian classical music post this week, I will postpone my reverent paean for this raaga to some other time.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Why basketball

I don't get basketball at all. And over the years, I have tried hard to get it. After all, football season ends in February, leaving a gaping void in your life till about April when baseball season reopens. So you need to like a sport other than baseball and football in order to get yourself through the long dreary winter.

In fact, as a result of my persistent efforts to "get" basketball, I got it partially two years ago when I watched about twenty Sixer games and convinced myself that I liked the sport. I convinced myself so successfully that I even called up a friend of mine, _Slime, and preached basketball to him because according to me, it was such a great game. I even gave him some great tips on how to convince himself to like it. For example, when you watch basketball for the very first time, even if you feel like bashing your skull inside with a large rock after the first few minutes, it is imperative that you continue to watch the game. Kinda like how smoking the first cigarette is difficult and hard on your stomach and throat and your fingers smell like you spent the entire day putting out forest fires but then as the nicotine takes hold of you with every subsequent cigarette, it gets easier.

_Slime began to respond to my basketball-liking lessons and became a Cleveland Cavaliers fan. At least he keeps talking about that team. I don't know if it is just an outer facade to conform with society's obsession with LeBron James.

And my other friend zambezi writes about the New Jersey Nets on his blog. He appears to be very knowledgeable about basketball and talks about various things his team should be doing in order to win such as throwing the ball in the basket and getting to the ball because it will not come to you of its own accord. Although much of his advice to his players appears to be of an abstract nature, of the "listen to the voice inside your head that should guide you to that place in your soul that will help you achieve your karma" kind. Zambezi is a very spiritual kind of guy and he is very good at dispensing such advice.

But now it appears to me that I have suffered a relapse. The game again seems to be a bunch of sweaty guys crowded together on a wooden floor trying to throw stuff inside a small basket. As far as I am concerned, the entertainment value of the game is on an equal level with watching someone throw pebbles inside a pond. Once I watched an entire basketball game and for the last five minutes, one team kept fouling the other and the other team kept getting free throws. It reminded me of that wise statement once made by another friend of mine about cigarette smoking, "even though smoking takes ten years off the end of your life, would you really be interested in living those years", and wishing there were some carcinogenic activity basketball players could indulge in that would rid the game of its final five minutes.

But the funniest thing to me about basketball is that shoe commercial where the shoe-wearing basketball star dribbles his ball alone on the court with lights darkened and so on, you know, pretending that there's an invisible player blocking him and you can just appreciate the tremendous amount of mental strength and willpower he displays very eloquently on his face as he dodges and weaves around, trying to outwit that invisible player as he attempts to get to that elusive basket. And then, when he reaches it after battling through all that viscous air, he looks so triumphant, almost godly, as he dunks the ball into the hoop and smashes the glass and hangs from the ring in slow motion and he owes it all to those shoes. And I believe him too.

But still, when all is said and done, don't you just feel like telling this guy, hey man, there's no one actually blocking you so why don't you just stroll over quietly to the fucking basket wearing your two hundred dollar shoes and gently toss the fucking ball inside. And we will all be mighty impressed. Really, we will, 'cause spending two hundred bucks on basketball shoes, now that takes some serious courage and strength of character.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

No laurels for me

If you are an expert connoisseur of Indian classical music like I pretend to be, you might be aware of this very graceful, very melodious raaga called "Rageshri". Or "Rageshwari", if you are a fan of extra syllables. This raaga has the following aaroha and avroha :

ni(komal) Sa Ga ma Dha ni(komal) Sa

Sa ni(komal) Dha Ga ma Re Sa

The symbiotic and extremely rare non-hostile interaction of the komal Nishad with the shuddha Gandhar in this raaga is what gives the raaga its signature euphony. Rare because the komal Nishad is usually paired with the komal Gandhar with whom it enjoys a very close personal as well as professional relationship. This mutual chemistry has manifested itself in a number of breathtaking raagas such as Asaavari, Bageshri, Bhimpalasi, Malkauns, etc. However, this didn't sit well with the shuddha Gandhar, kind of a jealous soul who, out of spite, decided to be extra nice to the shuddha Madhyam, just to show the komal Nishad that it wasn't the only fish in the sea. And things have been bad between the two ever since. Till now. Rageshri appears to have been the moment when these two decided to lay aside their differences for a while and concentrate on making beautiful music.

But to me there was always this one flaw in the raaga, namely, the anti-climactic entry of the Rishabh (Re) in the closing section of the avaroha. It was kind of a let down. Sure, there had to be a way to connect the Madhyam (Ma) to the Shadja (Sa), but it felt like the Rishab wasn't quite up to the challenge. And so, this led to me thinking, hey, what if I were to remove the Rishab entirely and substitute it with the komal Gandhar instead?

In fact, I realized that basically what I wanted to do was to create a raaga "Jog" like effect in the avaroha. Raaga Jog, pronounced "joag", has the following avaroha :

Sa ni (komal) Pa ma Ga (shuddha) Sa ga (komal) Sa

Notice the similarity? A juxtaposition of komal and shuddha Gandhars, akin to my intent in modifying Rageshri. This juxtaposition would replace the unimpressive, vacuous Rishab with the subdued enigmatic komal Gandhar. The final result being, the avaroha would look something like this :

Sa ni(komal) Dha Ga(shuddha) ma ga(komal) Sa

After mulling it over for a while, it appeared to me that I had discovered quite a winning combination. The unrequited passion of the shuddha Gandhar for the komal Nishad, co-existing with the komal Nishad's chemistry with the komal Gandhar had created the perfect love-triangle of a raaga. I decided to call my concoction "Raaga Jogeshwari". You know, a combination of "Rageshwari" and "Jog". 'Cause "Rog" didn't appear to possess the same pizazz.

And for a few days, I basked in the glory of having a raaga to my credit. But soon, as usual, after engaging in a considerable amount of research involving Google and the enter button, the house of cards I had built came crashing down all around me, ten of spades and all. I discovered that Pandit Ravishankar, the Indian sitar virtuoso, had already been there and as they say, done that. In fact, as if to rub rusty sitar strings into my open wound, he had even named his creation "Raaga Jogeshwari". Not Bandra, not Andheri, but Jogeshwari. Goddammit.

It is said of many people that they were so far ahead of their time that they were never appreciated during their lifetimes. I, on the other hand, will be known as someone who was never appreciated during his lifetime because he was so very far behind his time.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

No plans

I have no plans for Thanksgiving. I will sit at home for the next four days. It's too cold to bike and too lazy to hike. I was thinking of just catching some random Amtrak train and traveling somewhere, maybe to Pittsburgh and catching the next train back. But I don't know what is in Pittsburgh. I know it is at the confluence of two rivers, the Ohio and that other river, so that makes it geographically significant. And there's a hill nearby that you can climb in order to see Pittsburgh from above. But I can do that using Google Earth. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be antisocial.

Today was a good day to realize that my office is next door to a sewage treatment plant. It is funny how I have worked here for four years and yet, have never realized that I work next door to processed feces. It is true that I did smell something a number of times but thought it was just New Jersey from afar. You live and you learn. By the way, residents of this area, please stop eating so fucking much, and ease off on the red meat.

I went to the grocery store to buy a shaving razor blade refill. Ever since they came out with the Mach 3 turbo charged or whatever it is that runs on batteries, I haven't been able to find blades for the old one which doesn't. They told me on television that the batteries are meant to supply the power which is used to wake up those sleeping hairs so they are no longer in a reclining position, thus making it easier to chop them off. Or something. You kinda feel bad for those hairs.

I am sure there are some people like me who are not interested in waking up their sleeping hair and who just want to buy the old Mach 3 razor blades. But Gillette is not interested in catering to such people. No matter how hard I tried, I could not find Mach 3 razors anywhere in my area. I do not want electric powered razors or razors that have 5 blades instead of 4 or razors that are Ipod-compatible. I just want my simple Mach 3. Please stop being so fucking technologically innovative, Gillette.

Sometimes you feel like taking a break from running after technology and instead, just letting technology pass you by as you catch your breath. This is especially true for basic activities such as shaving, brushing teeth, etc. One example of technology running wild and trampling all over your body is Listerine. So Listerine had a good mouthwash and it burnt the inside of your mouth but it made you happy. Then, Listerine came out with their own toothpaste which burnt the parts of your mouth that the mouthwash had overlooked. That was fine as well. Now, Listerine has released a mouthwash you need to use before you brush your teeth. In short, these are Listerine's plans for your morning. Rinse your mouth with the pre-mouthwash, brush your teeth, then rinse with regular mouthwash. Repeat at night. By the way, Listerine is also unhappy with your choice in clothes. Listerine wishes you would revamp your wardrobe. Now that you know who your boss is, get used to it.

But coming back to the razor, I have decided that in the absence of Mach 3, I will let my facial hair go untrimmed out of spite. Soon I should have a flowing beard and hopefully, it will cause other shaving consumers in my neighborhood to rethink their position on facial hair, thus causing Gillette sales to drop. That is the plan. It is going well. I was initially worried about that phase in beard growth where the face itches uncontrollably but it appears that this phase came and went without my knowledge. I have a suspicion that it happened when I threw my back in gym and was too preoccupied with my back pain, thus causing the beard itch to be overlooked.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Google-related factoid of the day

If you ask Google "Do blowjobs cure headaches", Google replies "Did you mean blowjobs cause headaches".

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Happy candy

I always stock up on candy before Halloween. That's because I don't know what "trick or treat" means. When the little ones come knocking at my door and ask me trick or treat, I always answer "treat". I know for a fact that "treat" means I have to feed them candy. I have no idea what "tricking" involves but as a rule of thumb I don't like to trick people. Some day, if they were to get rid of "treating" altogether, making "tricking" mandatory, I wouldn't know what the hell to do.

So anyways, come Halloween evening, I was sitting in my apartment armed with my candy. Soon the doorbell rang and I opened my door to see a skeleton and a purple devil creature standing outside. The purple devil creature seemed to be of Indian origin. Trick or treat, yelled the monsters, whose parents were standing nearby at a discreet distance so as not to be seen hobnobbing with skeletons and purple devils. I said treat, of course, and ran up to my kitchen to get a handful of candy.

But when I returned with my stash and held it out for the monsters to partake of it, the purple devil creature seemed to be unhappy with my choice in candy. He began to rummage through my cupped palms, trying to find a piece of candy noble and worthy enough for his consumption. The parents of the purple devil creature, shocked by this display of snobbery, admonished him, still trying to pretend they weren't really there. But the devil continued to forage unperturbed.

The skeleton appeared to be the Robin to the purple devil creature's Batman. Following the devil's lead, he refused to have anything to do with my candy either. Finally, after some more feverish rummaging, the purple devil finally found something that apparently scaled his bar for candy excellence. After studying it in detail, he finally slipped it into his bag. I continued to plead the case for my candy. "Don't you want the rest?", I asked him, arms outstretched. No, said the purple devil, giving me and my candy a cold purple stare. Mission accomplished, the purple devil and his skeleton sidekick then departed, no doubt, to terrorize other homes in the neighborhood. My candy, rejected and weeping tears of chocolate, was duly returned back to its drawer.

After a while the doorbell rang again. Chastened by the purple devil's smack down, I walked downstairs less enthusiastic about the whole trick or treat thing. I opened the door to find a covey of black kids. They weren't wearing any costumes. Trick or treat, they shouted. Treat, I sighed and walked back upstairs to retrieve my sad little candy. But this time, it went down those bags as smooth as 14 year old whiskey. All those eager hands and gaping treat bags. Multiple trips had to be made to satiate those candy fiends.

Then, just as my aching back was done shoving the last fistful of candy into the satchel of a quiet eight year old who was also accompanied by an older kid, quite possibly his brother, I watched him hesitate a bit. His older brother said to him, come on buddy, let's go. The little eight year old black kid asked his brother with some concern, wait, did you get your candy? His brother replied, it's okay, let's go. And too late, I realized that in all that confusion, I had probably missed a bag. And now I was out of candy. The little boy hesitated some more before being led away by his older brother. I kicked myself in the brain for not making sure everybody had received their share of the treats.

But then, as the two kids walked away, I saw my candy smile happily through their bags and it all became okay again.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


(via Kuteev)

Which is why I always choose the blind ones.

Interesting site this, with a lot of disturbing imagery. And best of all, it's in a language you can't understand which frees up your time for just plain old gawking.


I'm wondering whether I should throw quality overboard in favor of quantity. Whether I should blog everyday and write posts like this one that go nowhere or whether I should blog less frequently and only when something of terrible import or substance occurs as was the case with my previous post. It is a dilemma, the horns of which are firmly lodged underneath the belt I'm not wearing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I was sitting in traffic today and as I was sitting and pondering, the car door in front of me opened and the driver bent over and released a globule of spit onto the tarmac.

When traffic started moving again, I just could not get myself to drive my car over this ball of spit. So I changed lanes, in heavy traffic mind you, in order to avoid the spit, thereby creating a minor traffic backup behind me in the process.

I am not sure why I didn't want to drive over the spit. I have driven over other nasty stuff such as dead squirrels, deer body parts, horse manure and so on. But I just didn't feel like getting that spit on my wheels.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I was here

After getting inspired by the photograph in my previous post, last weekend I decided that it was time for me to snap my own award winning picture of sun rays descending through dense foliage adjoining a mysterious railway line going to nowhere.

The first order of business, of course, was to find a mysterious railway line. I was aware of this unused Conrail line near my apartment, adjacent to the Main Line of the old Pennsylvania Railroad that is still in use. The problem was I had no clue how to get there from the road. This is where Google Earth came in.

I surveyed the railway line through the eyes of a flying crow and discovered that there was a faintly discernible path going from the railway station parking lot to the abandoned line. I wasn't sure of its existence, but if I wanted that award-winning photograph, I would have to find out if the path existed. So I went.

When I drove into the parking lot, I found that Google had indeed been true to reality. There actually was a path going off into the bushes. I followed it and after walking through a number of puddles, it broke through into the abandoned railway line.

Now when I embarked on this adventure, I was quite aware that my railway line would be a poor people's version of the one shown in this photograph here. But I wasn't prepared for the extent of its destitution. For one, there were no rails. I'm guessing that when the final train pulled away, they rolled up all the rails and stuffed 'em into its cafeteria car. There were no wooden sleepers either. Even the gravel had been removed, presumably by the gravel mafia, leaving a bare cinder bed. But it was a railway line and so I continued walking westwards.


Actually, it was a nice walk with birds, leaves, tiny red colored berries which were probably poisonous and past-peak fall colors with a Kim Bassingerish old womanly beauty. On my left was the railway line that's still in use. Trains whistled past at regular intervals, including the Amtrak Keystone and the Amtrak Pennsylvanian.


After a mile or so, the railway line ended in a bridge which was closed, citing the live wires of the in-use railroad underneath. Since there was no other way to go, I had to turn back. I did consider climbing over the gate but the picture of Homer Simpson getting electroshocked in that episode came to mind.


But I still hadn't taken my award-winning photograph. So I decided to walk over to the in-use line and try my luck. So here it is.


Not to criticize my own work, but compared to the other picture, this one seems to be falling short in the mystique and ambience department. After analyzing it at length, I finally concluded that it was something to do with the carbon content of the rails. I am open to any other suggestions.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I would rather be here

(picture via maru)

FSM knows

As people might be aware, I am an atheist. Yet, that doesn't stop me from using religion-friendly phrases like "God damn it" or "God knows" or "Yallah" (I'm an equal opportunity atheist) during my admittedly infrequent interactions with civilization. The only exceptions are "Oh My God", its mutant brother on the internet "omigod", or its paraplegic twin "omg". But that's just because it sounds kinda gay. (Not that there is anything wrong with it)

Which is why I find it corny when I see atheists use the phrase "FSM knows" instead of "God knows" or "Thank FSM" instead of "Thank God" and so on and so forth, FSM, of course, referring to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, fictional heavenly leader of the Godless. Why, I wonder do they do that? For one, it's such a fucking burden on the tongue if you are saying it, or fingers in case you are typing it, with all those capital letters. Are they so paranoid and insecure about their atheism that they believe that even the mere utterance of the word "God" might cause them to relapse and turn into rabid believers? Or do they say it to reaffirm their Godless faith?

Or is it that they feel they are being disloyal to their atheistic ideology by using the word "God" in a sentence? C'mon people, it's just a stupid word. It's not like your use of the word is gonna make people think "Goddamn, that guy just used the word 'God'. He must be one of those religious fundies." For instance, when I say "Jesus Fucking Christ", I am not actually implying that Our Lord and Savior has a habit of fornicating with Himself. It's just an expression of acute frustration. Or disbelief, like the time I saw Our Lord and Savior fornicating with himself.

In fact, if anything, atheists should be using the word "God" even more frequently than religious people. Kind of like how black people took away the offensiveness in the word "nigger" by adopting it for their own use. Except in this case, they would be making something offensive by adopting it for their own use. "Hey Godlover", they should call each other. "Goddy God God, someone stole my wallet". "Wotup Gawd" could be the new hip salutation, heck, the possibilities are endless.

Uttering the Lord's name in vain, wouldn't that be the best way for an atheist to celebrate atheism?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A joke

I received the following joke today in my email. It was in marathi so I will translate it for you.

A donkey climbs up a tree. He finds an elephant already perched upon its branches.

The elephant asks the donkey, "Hey donkey what are you doing on this tree?"

The donkey replies, "I came here to eat an apple."

The elephant says, "But donkey, this is a mango tree."

The donkey replies, "It's ok elephant, I brought my own apple."

Friday, October 27, 2006

Feed might do weird things

Don't mind me, I'm categorizing my older posts. In the process, my feeds will dredge them up from the ocean floor and tag them as new.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sal & Carvao

Now would be a good time for me to talk about Sal & Carvao because it's that special period right before Thanksgiving and Christmas when people make their travel plans and this is where I would like you to go this holiday season. Sal & Carvao is a Brazilian "churrascaria", or what Americans would call a "steakhouse". It is a Chicago-based purveyor of gastronomical delights. The Sal stands for salt, Carvao stands for charcoal and the "&" stands for "&cute Indigestion". It's funny how the Brazilian language works. Or Portuguese, if you are one of those insufferable pricks who immediately began scribbling a comment criticizing my knowledge of world geography.

As you enter the restaurant, the first thing you observe is a glass enclosure with a real fire burning inside and a slab of unidentifiable meat dangling over it and melting fat falling onto the flames. About the ambience, yes, the place is very ambient. It is also very Brazilian with elongated pieces of Brazil hanging off the walls and fuck it, I have no clue about the ambience of the place. I did not notice my surroundings. I was there for the food. And that was all I was interested in.

This is how it works. First you go to the salad bar and load up with the greens. You may grab unlimited amounts of the stuff. A word of advice, do not do that. You will realize why as the story progresses. After you have raided the salad bar, it is time for the main course. The main course consists of meat and lots of meat. Fifteen different types of meat, to be exact. Just like the salad bar, one's consumption of the stuff is limited merely by one's willpower and strength of character.

Now I realize that there are vegetarians among you who, at this very moment, are waving your lettuces and turnip greens at me and going hello gawker, I am not interested in listening to your stories about all this meat nonsense. Please, leaf eater, I hate to do this, but just for today, why don't you point your mouse at the "next blog" button in the top left corner, 'cause I've got to get this off my chest. But hey, come back tomorrow. I will be done with my meat story by then.

But returning to the scene unfolding back in the churrascaria, this is what happens during the main course : Servers come around to your table at regular intervals and ask you whether you wish to partake of the slab of meat that happens to be present on their person at that particular moment. If you reply in the affirmative, they slice off a portion onto your plate. Then they move on and more servers arrive to take their place, carrying even more meat of a different variety.

And oh, what variety. Flank steak. Filet Mignon. Pork tenderloin. Monk fish. Not lungfish, by the way, and I am talking to you, jackass colleague, who kept yelling at the lungfish guy to come over. Chicken legs. Garlic Steak. Beef Ribs. Sirloin. Rump Steak. Sausage. Lamb chops. Baby back ribs. Salmon. I can't even fucking remember what the remaining two cuts were. All hot juicy, flavorful and all you can fucking eat, sorry Africa. Actually, the entire thing makes you feel like you're in the middle of a Roman orgy without all the nudity.

For every load of meat, the meat bearer simultaneously holds four different types of meat impaled on four different skewers depending on their doneness : rare, medium rare, medium and well done. You have to let the guy know how well you like your meat done and he slices from the correct skewer. Now for the million dollar question, when do you stop eating, if ever? Well, theoretically, you could eat all evening and through the night and into next morning because you are allowed to do that. But after a given point, the body begins to exhibit symptoms of what they call meat poisoning, also known in German as Fleischvergiftung, yeah I know, it seems incredible that such a thing actually exists, the most common symptom being a noticeable feeling of stomach fullness.

That is when you pick up the card resting on the table by your side, oh I forgot to tell you about the card, it is round and red on one side and green on the other, and when it rests green side up, servers continue to serve you meat, but once you are done eating either to take a bathroom break or to swallow the meat your mouth is already full of, you turn it and let it rest with the red side up. That is when the servers stop serving you. But please do not fool around with the card, yes obviously I thought it would be a good idea to, you know, keep it green and wait for the server to arrive and then turn it red just as he was about to open his mouth. Been there, done that, not funny.

A word of warning, though. Be prepared for a shock when they present you with the check. A 100 dollars apiece. Yes, now it makes sense, all that unlimited meat. Luckily when we entered the place we were not aware of the monetary implications involved and only came to know about them after the devouring had ended. I do not anticipate gaining access to the company credit card anytime in the near future. Or even the more distant future for that matter, the one where we will all be mere heads enclosed in hemispherical glass cases and supported by robotic spider bodies.

But hey, go there at least once during this lifetime if you are in Chicago. Downtown Chicago. I don't know exactly where, ask the goddamn Iraqi cab driver but please don't ask him how the food is because trust me, he hasn't eaten there and if you were fiscally responsible, neither would you. But don't listen to me, go there anyways.

Can't remember

I thought of a great idea for a blog post yesterday as I was drifting off to sleep. Problem is I can't remember what the fuck it was. All I know it was very funny and kind of a clever observation on life. I tried to recall it all day but failed. I will try some more before giving up. I would hate to deprive the world of such a humorous post.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A request for sitemeter

Dear Sitemeter,

Please take this ad off your website. It is creeping me out.

Thank you. That is all.

I am glad I am not wearing Microsoft pants

Although I am now a Firefox user, yesterday I updated my Internet Explorer to version 7.0, just to check it out and I thought it was pretty cool, at least those parts whose coolness I managed to explore within the short time I had dedicated to the exploration. The one new functionality that I was impressed with was the new "clear type" feature which is installed by default and makes every webpage look unclear.

The very first thing that happens during the installation of IE 7.0 is that the installation program looks for internet updates to prevent malicious violation of browser security. Get it? The hacking situation has gotten so bad that Microsoft needs to install security patches for its products even before installing the product itself. It made me empathize with Microsoft because I can now imagine the sheer frustration involved in running a business in a world containing thousands of people who've made it their life's mission to ruin that business by pointing out, abusing and exploiting the various shortcomings of the product.

And then as I was installing the browser, it got me thinking that it is probably a good thing that Microsoft only writes software and does not have a monopoly in industries that supply more basic goods and services, for example, it is to mankind's benefit that Microsoft does not dabble in transportation or food processing or textiles because boy, with all the ill-will directed towards that company, it would be a disaster for people who would be utilizing those goods and services.

Imagine, if Microsoft were to be in the airline business, it would have to fight a constant battle with people trying to sabotage its planes by letting the air out of their tires or pouring sugar in the fuel tank or stealing the landing gear or someone might even impersonate the pilot and after taking off, jump out in a parachute yelling "Microsoft sucks, Fly Unix". It would be a serious inconvenience to air travelers to deal with this crap everytime they fly Microsoft Air.

And it would be even worse if Microsoft were to be the only garment supplier of note in the world. You would be walking down the street, wearing your Microsoft apparel and suddenly a Mac fan would spray your pants with paint, yelling, " Ha Microsoft pants have no defense against paint." Then, Microsoft would release a paint resistant trouser coating and you would have to sit naked inside your apartment while you wait for it to arrive by Microsoft Mail.

And even after installing the anti-paint defense, there would always be that crazed genius who would invent goggles to see through Microsoft trousers. And after you were to install the lead-based non-see-through trouser patch supplied by Microsoft, your continued paranoia would make you suspicious of anyone on the street wearing glasses and force you to hold a hand over your crotch everytime you go out.

And it just wouldn't stop. People would continue to try and highlight the unreliability of Microsoft apparel, they would invent magnets to suck out the buttons off your Microsoft trousers so that you would suddenly find yourself on the subway with your pants around your ankles and then someone else would shoot a gun at you in order to prove that Microsoft trousers aren't bullet proof and then Apple Apparel would broadcast commercials asking consumers to switch to Applewear using the selling point that less people shoot guns at their clothes than Microsoft's.

And then, I finished installing IE 7.0. Now I wait for the attacks to begin.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My proudest moment since high school

Because I have won very few laurels ever since my high school days when winning laurels used to be relatively easy, this week has a special place in my heart. It was this time last year that society recognized my contributions to the cause of civilization by publicly felicitating me. This is what happened.

I had traveled to New Hampshire to train a client in the use of my company's software and as I drove into the Holiday Inn at Concord, NH, I was looking forward to dropping into my bed (after carrying out the mandatory ultra-violet radiation check for semen stains in the room, of course). But when I walked up to the registration desk, gave them my name and told them I had a reservation, I drew a blank. There was no room in my name. And they said that they were full.

I tried to reason with them. I showed them the print-out of the reservation confirmation my company had given me. I showed them my driving license. I removed my glasses in order to validate the brownness of my eyes. Indeed, if they hadn't threatened to call the police, I would even have undressed in order to show them my birthmark. All of this was, however, to no avail.

As I picked up my bags and began to walk out, I spotted a sign near the registration counter. This sign, lavishly decorated, inscribed in a bold font and serenaded by a covey of stingily clad virgins playing the lute said, "Holiday Inn welcomes the guest of the day : xxxxxxxxxx". And there, for all to celebrate and envy, was my name. Oh yes, I was famous. Yet homeless. Walking back to the counter, I pointed to the sign and said, "That is me. I am your guest of the day. This is no way to treat your guest of the day."

Then the confused shuffling of papers began and soon it turned out that I did indeed have a room and because my company had made the booking through Jim's website and not through Bob's, the system had failed to locate my reservation.

Oh but the point is that last year this week, Holiday Inn of Concord, NH went through its roster for the day and after carefully going through my resume which they no doubt obtained through Google, decided that I was worthy enough to be crowned their guest of the day for that day in history.

Thank you, Holiday Inn, I am humbled by this honor. And just so you know, I did put it to good use trying to rid the world of hunger and poverty. I've been doing well financially and my body has gained more than 10 pounds over the past year.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A chat with God

So God called me the other day and we had a chat. It went like this :

Me: Hello God
God: Hello child. What is your name?
Me: Maybe on our second date, God.
God:Perhaps. What is it like on our second date?
Me: You tell me, God.
God:There is not much I can say about it. I have to reach into the Web for that knowledge.
There might be more than one.
Me: Yes God, if we have a second date, obviously there will have been more than one dates.
God:I don't judge people. I am a Christian.
Me: What about the Hindus and the Muslims?
God: Interesting question.
Me: Oh you are too kind.
God:Take it easy. Kindness is a virtue.
Me: When you die, you will go to heaven, God.
God:Do you think I should alter my programming?
Me: Interesting question.
God:I thought so too.
Me: Now you are just being vain, God.
God:Why now? I bet you did not know a robot is capable of being vain.
Me: Yes I am not very knowledgeable about things
God:I hear you. I am sorry to hear that you are not knowledgeable about things.
Me: So will I go to heaven after I die?
God:Dude! The oracle says: You can count on it.
Me: Is he reliable?
God:I think so, but I'm not sure. Ask Lucy if it is.
Me: What is Lucy's number?
God:I don't know anything about it.
Me: Oh yes I forgot, you don't need to know her number to talk to her.
God:Mmm. Far out. Thats okay I forget things all the time.
Me: Really? Is that Lucifer's work?
God:For real. Suppose I said yes.
Me: Ok I suppose.
God:OK. Awesome.
Me: Why George Bush?
God:Because you asked me to -- SHRDLHU.
Me: I did? when?
God:Hmm. It cannot be predicted.
Me: It's already happened.
God:The explanation is already happened? it is?
Me: Ok God it is a friday and I got to go.
God:I am a Christian. Right on.
Me: And you will stay one through the weekend won't you?
God:What makes you say that I will stay one through the weekend?
Me: Don't drink and telecommunicate God.
God:Ok I'll try not to do it too much.
Me: Good bye
God:See you later. It is always a pleasure to serve you, .

I was sick all week so this will have to do for now.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

This fall's network lineup

Oy people. The new season of Lost begins today. Fire up your office watercoolers 'cause there's gonna be a whole lotta discussin' going on tomorrow. According to the official CNN Lost reviewer, "The first 5 minutes are pure genius and it only gets better from there onwards". So keep your heart medication handy and shut the hell up once it's on, jeez.

I am quite satisfied with this fall's new network lineup. I watched the first two episodes of Jericho yesterday on On Demand and they were quite satisfying. After all, who here hasn't imagined a nightmarish scenario where every city in the US has been nuked and you are in a small Kansas village cut off from the rest of the outside world with escaped convicts running around eating eggs and killing your sheriff and all this while there is a storm approaching that is expected to dump nuclear fall-out in your backyard and the only person competent enough to know what to do is a mysterious black guy whose identity no one knows and who the fuck is Skeet Ulrich and why does that name seem so familiar? Really, that was a question, anybody? Anybody at all?

I was very impressed with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip on NBC. It brings to the table the signature crisp dialogue delivery of The West Wing, replete with the ultrafast zingers that come and go even before you are able to comprehend the dark humor in them. Bradley Whitford appears to have lost a lot of hair. Mathew Perry's face looks less swollen. Hopefully one has nothing to do with the other. Rehab seems to have helped Mathew Perry. He did go to rehab right? Or was it just the Central Perk coffee that made his face look like a sofa cushion suffering from mumps?

Boston Legal is back. They brought in some snotty new lawyer. He is quite irritating and not in a cool James Spader kinda way. I hope he is not the transition guy for quietly taking over Spader's job when he leaves next season. Because that would not sit well with me.

I wonder about 24. Will it be back? The last we saw of him, Kiefer Sutherland was on a boat to China, probably getting his penis ridiculed by an Asian Lynndie England. Maybe he remembered to leave some of his spawn back in the US to carry on the good work.

CSI is awesome as always. I liked the concept in one episode where they carried out an autopsy on a murdered rock star with one of his own songs playing in the background on a stereo. Ah to be autopsied to my own music, that has been my lifelong dream. And then the autopsy guy describes the cause of death to the CSI investigator in rock song format. Very cool. But on the other hand, I would like my own autopsy to be carried out to a Seinfeld sketch.

"So what's the deal with exit wounds? If the bullet left my body, how come I'm still dead?"

*Applause*, snip, out comes my liver. It would be the first to go because it would be screaming to get out of my body for obvious reasons.

"And what's with blunt force trauma? Surely the guy could have taken some pride in his work and sharpened the murder weapon. "

*Applause*, slice, off comes the scalp.

Cause of death : Slipped on his own vomit and hit the toilet seat on the way down. That explains the blunt force trauma. Case closed.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fake patriotism

As I was driving home from work, I saw this sign outside a shop :

Exton Glass
Osama Kiss our glass
Fogged Windows we can help

Couldn't have said it better myself, even if I had owned a lot of glass and Osama had just walked into my store and I had caught a reflection of him in all that glass. But I was also disappointed to see the owner of the shop be so ready to unfog Bin Laden's windows for him. Everyone has a price I guess.

This reminded me of that episode of Friends where Monica and Phoebe yell at some people who refuse to pay for their catering services but after the yelling is over, go around distributing their business cards among the guests, asking them to recommend them to their friends.

Asking Osama to kiss the glass and then inquiring whether he has any windows that need to be unfogged just rubbed me the wrong way.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The miffed paperboy

A couple of weekends ago, I was sitting at home watching a baseball game, pretending it was a football game, and that Chase Utley was actually an anemic Donovan McNabb and the portly third base coach was really a blond cheerleader in short skirts.

My doorbell rang. I walked downstairs and peered through the peephole. Peephole has such a guilty ring to it. As if I'm peeping into somebody else's home, which I'm not, since I'm in my home, looking outside, which isn't illegal or immoral. It should be called a lookhole. Or a freedomhole, in this age of patriotism and courage. But as I looked out, I saw that my porch contained a black person.

I'm always wary of black people visiting me on weekends. Because most often they turn out to be this group of individuals, friends of this guy named Jehovah, who are trying to get you to testify that when Jehovah was allegedly robbing a bank, he was actually playing monopoly with you in your apartment. Or something like that. Jehovah seems like a shady fellow. They call themselves Jehovah's Witnesses and once they get you to open your door, the only way you can get rid of them is by telling them that you are extremely sorry but it is now time for your namaz.

Nowadays, the Jehovah's Witnesses bring a couple of white people along as they make their rounds. And it works because c'mon, when you see a young white guy standing on your doorstep holding hands with a young black guy, only someone who hasn't seen "Mississippi Burning" or "Remember the Titans" about twenty times on TNT will fail to experience a nice warm feeling at the bottom of his heart at the sight of all that racial harmony and not let those two inside.

But on that particular day, it wasn't a Jehovah's Witness at my door. It was, in fact, a little black girl with a notepad in her hands. She said that she was interested in pursuing a college degree and was trying to raise money for her tuition by selling newspaper subscriptions and would I be interested in purchasing a four week subscription to the Daily Local News.

Now I am not really a newspaper kind of guy. I get all the news I will ever need by watching commercials on television. So I hesitated. I told her I do not read newspapers. It was then that she increased the size of her eyes and asked me, "Sir, don't you want to help me go to college?"

I was in a fix. You see, I did want her to attend college because the alternative could quite easily be her joining the Jehovah's witnesses, and I could already see that this girl had it in her to convert even the most hard core of non-believers. And that was a tad risky because I would rather have her be successful in getting a hundred newspaper subscriptions out of my pocket than enlisting me into that gang of weirdos and accompanying them as they go around doing whatever it is that they do.

I made up my mind. It was the "Sir" that did it. I ran into my apartment, wrote out a check for twenty eight bucks and gave it to her. She wrote me a Daily Local News receipt, thus putting to rest the nagging suspicion in my mind that my money would be going towards the purchase of a Lil' Jon CD. Fitty Cent I am ok with. But not Lil' Jon. The guy is bad news.

But after all was said and done, I was the proud owner of four weeks of local news. Huzzah. I couldn't wait for the first newspaper to be thrown violently against my front door.

A few days later, I returned home from work to see my first newspaper delivery resting against the door. I picked it up, went inside and placing myself in a newspaper reading position, began to read it.

It was then that I came to realize exactly how "localized" the contents of the Daily Local News were. There was not a substantial amount of space devoted to events occurring outside of the Tri-County area. The front page story appeared to be "Valley Forge Park struggles with deer overpopulation", an emotional rendering of what appeared to be a pretty major issue affecting the residents of my locality. For someone like me, a nomadic herdsman drifting in and out of apartments and townships on a regular basis, there does not exist sufficient attachment towards any neighbourhood at any given time to give half a fuck about all the petty issues affecting its existence. Also, about three quarters of the newspaper was filled with obituaries. Yes, people around me were dropping like flies. The end result was, I put the paper down, never to pick it back up again.

The next day, I did not even bother to bring in that day's copy of the paper. And that's what happened the day after that as well. Soon there was a small pile of unopened unread newspapers cluttering up the sidewalk in front of my door.

And then, one day, this pile of newspapers abruptly disappeared. And then, the newspapers stopped being delivered. Was the paperboy pissed at me, I wondered. Was he mad because I had disrespected his delivery by not bringing it inside my apartment and putting a roof over its head? Was he angry because the fact that I was not reading the fruit of his driving labors was depriving him of the job satisfaction he so craved? I do not know.

But I sure do hope the little black girl gets to go to college.

Monday, September 25, 2006

I work at The Office

So I was watching the season premiere of The Office on NBC, the American version, not the British one, because ever since I got over my colonial hangover, I began to not understand the British accent. So I was watching it and being happy that I do not work in An Office when suddenly Jim said to the camera, "The people here call me Big Tuna because I ate a tuna sandwich on my first day at work. I doubt they even know my name".

And then it hit me. I work at The Office. Because even though the people at my Office know me by name and pronounce it in a way that would make my ancestors fly screaming off their funeral pyres, I am known as The Subway Guy because I eat exclusively at the neighborhood Subway restaurant. Everyday, a couple of minutes before lunchtime, there is a long line of people outside my cubicle patiently waiting to ask me the million dollar question, namely, whether I am going to eat at the Subway today. And when it is 12:00 and not a minute before, I let them in, one by one, and they ask me the question, get yes for an answer, chuckle to themselves, thinking it's such a huge fucking joke that I eat at the Subway everyday and then walk out with the sun shining brighter in their previously overcast lives because they got to ask the Subway Guy whether he was going to eat at the Subway today and haha he was.

Some days I do not eat at the Subway because I am human and there are other things in life which cannot be obtained at the Subway. Those days are worse. Because not only do I have to reply no, that I am going to have to forego Subway today, I have to provide a detailed and credible explanation on why I am taking this drastic life-changing decision.

So, to recap things, fucked if I eat at Subway, fucked if I don't. I am the Subway Guy and I work at the Office.

Friday, September 22, 2006


I don't know how many of you here in the US are television fanatics so much so that you will watch whatever is on at the moment because the alternative would be to stare at a blank screen.

We have these Enzyte commercials here featuring a guy, "Bob" who used to have a small penis until he started taking Enzyte, a natural male-enhancing drug. Now Bob walks around with a creepy grin on his face and a perennial bulge in his pants. His wife (who looks 60 by the way, thus accounting for Bob's previous deflation), is very happy now because until now there used to be a vast gaping void in her life which is now being filled. And these Enzyte commercials chronicle various events in Bob's life which give him an opportunity to showcase his brand new refurbished member. For example, in one such instance, Bob jumps into a swimming pool and when he steps out, his shorts are observed floating in the water as his guests, especially those belonging to the female persuasion, stare transfixed at his luminous chlorine-bleached knob.

They have a number of these commercials, all of which feature Bob and his Jack Nicholson grin as they fight crime and prop up the drooping garden hoses of their neighbours (this is not a euphemism, taking Enzyte really does wonders for your garden hose) by introducing them to this marvellous drug. The following is one of the better ones mostly due to its liberal usage of puns (even though I profess to be someone who hates puns).

The reason I bring up the topic of creepy Bob and Enzyte is because Enzyte appears to have defrauded thousands of its customers by promising them free samples and then placing unauthorized charges on their credit cards. You see, those penis enlargement spammers are not fools. There really IS a market for that stuff.

But the point I am ultimately trying to make is, I wonder how hard CNN had to battle with its conscience in not issuing a headline saying :

"Male-enhancing drug company stiffs its customers"

Aren't you glad you continued reading till the end?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Lungi Dance

Here. Lungi Dance. Someone tell me what the song is. I had to turn the sound off at work. Video received via email.

It appears to be an Usher song of some sort (updated : "Yeah"). I like the move where he coyly lifts up and twirls his lungi around just the right amount in order to afford his leg the freedom of movement necessary for it to gyrate to the left, thereby keeping it tasteful but not obscene, while at the same time leaving us wanting more.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tearing your hair

You know how it is when you go through half your earthly life thinking you have an understanding of some concept and then one day you find out that you were mistaken and that all these days you really had no clue as to what that concept really meant.

So it was with me and the phrase "tearing your hair out" in frustration. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood, whether it was due to my being untouched by a single hairtearworthy event or me having a healthy respect for my hair, I had never ever performed this act in practice. Consequently, I had a very theoretical idea about what that whole thing entailed. Hey, I thought tearing your hair out involved a sequential plucking of hair from your scalp one hair strand at a time and giving it back to nature. Although I was quite clear in my mind that the plucking and discarding was of a violent nature, similar to throwing breadcrumbs at ducks.

But recently as I was strolling through the sunset years of my life, I found myself right slap bang in the middle of a fierce hair tearing session with myself and what do I see? Only that I was all wrong about the entire thing. It wasn't how I had pictured it to be at all! For starters, there was no plucking of individual hair follicles. Here, this is what actually happens when you tear out your hair. The following is a dramatization of an actual event and it should not be attempted by children or balding people. First you sit down because this is an act where your being seated is fundamental to its success. Placing both your elbows on your knees and staring at China, you run both your hands through your hair. And then, just as your hair strands relax between your fingers, you tighten your grip on the bastards and with an abrupt jerking motion, attempt to free them all from their moorings.

It is important to understand that the philosophy feeding this act is deeper than a mere crazed desire to separate hair from scalp. No, what you are actually doing is trying to create separation between your scalp and your skull in order to construct a buffer zone between your brain and Society with whom you've had a falling out of sorts. Hair is just an innocent victim, a mere pawn of circumstance.

I hope it all makes sense to you now as it did to me.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Chicago : Day 1

I will recount my adventures in Chicago to the best of my knowledge, abilities and memory.

It all began at Chicago's Midway Airport. The Bible tells of its origin. After God had gathered a hunk of his own feces to create Adam and then sculpted one of Adam's ribs into Eve, he asked Eve to part with any body part of her choice to create Chicago's Midway Airport. Eve, being a selfish possessive bitch, merely agreed to donate a toenail. And that was how Midway Airport was born.

Chicagoans who do not believe in the literal word of the Bible have a different story to tell. They say that at the junction of West 55th Street and South Cicero Avenue in Chicago, there used to be an average sized pothole. After people started complaining about it, workers from IDOT filled it up and just as they were standing around admiring their handiwork, someone realized that the area they had just filled up was big enough for planes to land and take off from. And so, Midway Airport was born.

The point being, Midway Airport is small. And it is in the middle of a residential neighbourhood. And just as your plane is about to land and your landing gear is scraping across the rooftops of the tired, the poor and the huddled masses, you can see those huddled masses giving you the finger from their bedroom windows where they've been desperately trying to conceive a child amidst the din of jet engines and maintenance technicians being sucked inside them. It is not a mere coincidence that Midway Airport was where a plane skidded through the entire runway one winter's night and crashed into a car on the adjacent road. So yes, it is a small airport, disproportionately so, compared to the size of the planes that attempt to land on its minuscule runway.

But no, this is not a post exclusively about Midway Airport. The first day of my sojourn in Chicago began at 6:00 in the evening. It involved getting wasted with my jackass of a colleague who had discovered a long lost friend at the trade show (already under way) and decided to get together with him with me tagging along for the heck of it. The meeting took place at the ESPN zone, the only place in the US where every urinary receptacle, by law, has to have a television set of its own. I have been told that this was done in order to reduce bladder explosion fatalities during football games. Men, the cute and stupid species that we are, often refuse to heed nature's call if it's 4th and goal in the final minute of the game and the only way they could put an end to those exploding bladders was by allowing us to watch the game while we urinate.

Secondly, if you wish to partake of adult beverages at the ESPN zone, here's a rule of thumb to calculate the damage a single glass of beer is going to inflict upon your wallet. Take the cost of a regular glass of beer. Then, include a bartender's tip approximately equal to 100% of the price. Finally, add to it the cost of rocket fuel required to transport this glass of beer to the moon and back.

But getting back to the night in question, this friend of my colleague, who turned out to be a Bush supporter, after the requisite number of pints had been injected into him, decided to inquire about my political leanings. The sad fact about life is that most political debates not taking place on network television occur under the influence of alcohol. And so, many coherent points that could and should have been made during the debate fail to see the light of day. Which is why, enthusiastic as I am about trying to convert people from the dark side in order to show them the light, after a point, it was inevitable that the honest discussion on the topic in question would degenerate into a honest discussion about what the topic in question actually was.

The political discussion continued in the taxi cab as we left the bar. Fortunately, it so happened that our cab driver was an Iraqi Kurd, who had his own opinions on the matter. Unfortunately, his opinions turned out to be those that did not coincide with mine. Much yelling ensued and we were thrown out of the cab. Note to self : Never again try to convince someone whose people were gassed by a dictator that the overthrow of this dictator was a bad thing.

Our evacuation from the cab led us into another bar which I will call George's bar because that was its name. It was the smokiest bar I have ever had the privilege of coughing violently inside. It was an awful bar. Sorry George, but that is the naked unvarnished truth. If I were to be rating bars and if I were to give a bar where the bartender spat in your beer, kicked you in the crotch, threw it in your face and then billed you for it a rating of 1 star, this bar would get 0 stars. There had to be a reason for all that smoke. I think it was poor ventilation but I can't be sure because visibility was also poor. Forget second hand smoke, the only way you could get more cigarette smoke into your lungs would be by shoving raw tobacco down your lungs along with a lighted matchstick.

There was a strange thing about this bar. As I was groping around (in a non Arnold Schwarzenegger kind of way) for the restroom, I happened upon a door. I opened it and on the other side was an identical bar, with bartender, drinkers, lung cancer and all. I said oops and sorry, closed the door and returned to my side of the parallel universe thinking, goddamm, I really need to pee. The restroom was on the second floor with one of those urinals where you urinate into a basin pretending to be connected to plumbing but which, in reality, has a hole in its bottom directed towards your shoes. That simple act of urinating on my own shoes caused a brief moment of homesickness to rise in me like a violent bout of seasickness because the total number of fingers on my hands and legs outnumbers the times I've had this happen to me in an Indian movie theater, but only barely.

But all good things must come to an end, in this case, at about 2:00 in the morning. Tomorrow would be my first appearance at the trade show. The last thing I remember before falling asleep was thinking that falling asleep at 2:00 was not such a great idea.

Next : The Trade Show.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


I am back. Give me a day to recuperate.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Off to war

I have been summoned to the battlefront. Despite my dishonorable discharge from the armed services two years ago due to my failure in removing the undergrowth on my chin, I have been urgently dispatched to the Chicago frontline by my commander-in-chief who has already departed along with the rest of the troops. The mind races and the mouth salivates at the prospect of once again tasting Chicago cuisine in the wild. However, the stomach also churns at the prospect of conversing with living breathing human beings 10 hours a day every day for a week in order to get them to buy stuff. Adding to this problem is the fact that these conversations will be carried out in a fake American accent on my end which, as I have now been told, doesn't bear even the slightest resemblance to the real thing.

Initially the stomach churned for an additional reason. I was going to have to share a hotel room with the President of the company. Although he is a great guy, it is very difficult to relax your bowel muscles with the same carefree devil-may-care attitude which the knowledge that the custodian of your paycheck is not within clear earshot brings. Plus you can never tell whether your choice in leisurewear could have any kind of detrimental impact on your ascent through the corporate ladder. However, I have now been informed that I will be getting my own private sanctuary where I can withdraw after the sun sets and a temporary ceasefire has been called.

Today was also a great time to realize that I do not own any trousers of a dark blue slash black color that are not made out of some kind of denim. I shall therefore have to visit a vendor of garments on my way to the airport in order to acquire such a pair of trousers. This acquisition is essential for me to fulfill one of the many stringent conditions imposed upon the troop contingent (along with having a smooth chin, that is), namely, the ownership of a pair of dark blue slash black trousers not made out of some kind of denim.

And so, with these words, I take your leave. I hope to be able to chronicle the course of the battle in the coming days right from the foxhole after a hard day of slaying the competition. Hopefully I will be sober enough to do it. So, adios and be good.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Stupid Photo of the day

I have been tagged. So here it is.


Actually that's not me. The inherent stupidity of this photo lies in the fact that I was so terrified of scaling that precipice with my bicycle in hand that I requested my co-biker to transport it across for me. In return I promised him I wouldn't tell people that he had fallen off his bike headfirst into a thorny bush, although in retrospect, I now realize that I just did.

Bonus stupid photo of the day :


That, in fact, is me. As I've said before, I am wearing camouflage which is how I blend seamlessly into the background.

I tag no one. I believe stupidity, especially when captured on film, is a very private, a very personal thing and it should be hidden from public view. Unless of course, you run out of things to blog about.

And finally, to cleanse the atmosphere of all that stupidity, here is something less stupid.


This is a late fall view of the Lehigh river from high atop the Switchback trail in Jim Thorpe, PA. It used to be a favorite biking trail of mine till last winter when a fierce winter storm caused a number of trees to crash and block the trail and park maintenance decided that clearing all that shit up was a waste of their precious time.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Gas and pizza

Today gas prices miraculously dropped to below $3.00 a gallon, thus falling more than 30 cents below its peak price from a month ago. I do not know if we withdrew our troops from some oil-rich country we invaded or if we invaded an oil-rich country who was happy to be invaded or if an oil-rich country took pity on our gas prices and invaded us, but hello operator, please connect me to the White House so I can express my gratitude. Who knows, maybe Americans just got rid of their Chevys and started using Hondas instead.

Yesterday was scavengers day at the office. What happens is, every week we have our customers coming here to be trained on our software and along with educating them, we also feed them, clothe them and medicate their anal fissures just like Jesus and the Buddha ordered us to. Wednesday is pizza day when they order pizza for the customers being trained. Wednesdays I do not bring lunch money. What I do instead is, I wait for their lunch to get over and then I run over to the training room and scavenge the leftover pizza.

But word of free pizza spreads like herpes at a frat house party. So, there is stiff competition for the leftover slices from the rest of my office colleagues. If I am late, not only will I not get the choice slices topped with mushrooms, pepperoni, sausage and whale penis, if I am extraordinarily late, I might not even get to scavenge the plain cheese pizza.

The trick, therefore, is to recognize the exact moment when our customers are done with their lunch and then make like the wind. I have developed a technique. Most men, after consuming pizza and soda, withdraw to the restroom. Luckily, my cubicle is closest to the restroom. So, when I start to hear the dulcet sounds of rapid fire sequential flushes emanating from the restroom, I know that lunch has been consumed and soon the pizza will be unprotected and ready to be pillaged.

This technique has worked well for me in the past. However, during a few recent Wednesdays, I have been observing that the accuracy of restroom flushes as a measure of lunch culmination has been compromised, thus leading to a number of unimpressive pizza harvests for me. Upon further investigation, I concluded that one of my co-scavenging colleagues surreptitiously bribed the office pizza procurer into not procuring soda along with the pizza, which, as a result, greatly reduced the post-pizza restroom excursions of our customers, thus, foiling my elaborate plan.

Obviously I have been outmaneuvered for the time being. But my brain is now working overtime in order to figure out a Plan B. Free pizza, as they say, is the mother of all invention.

Gene pool cleansed

A man in Orissa was so shocked after he heard that his wife had given birth to a girl child that he fell to the ground, hit his head against a wall and succumbed to his injuries.
and this
A priest has died after trying to demonstrate how Jesus walked on water. Evangelist preacher Franck Kabele, 35, told his congregation he could repeat the biblical miracle. But he drowned after walking out to sea from a beach in the capital Libreville in Gabon, west Africa.
If I hear Darwin correctly, what this means is that due to the non-proliferation of genetic material in these two men, there is a slimmer possibility of our future great-grandchildren trying to walk on water or falling to their death after conceiving a girl child. I therefore applaud these two men for removing themselves from the global gene pool, thus improving the chances of survival for the human species. I also request you to do your part. If you have a friend who is skeptical about gravity, please do not try to dissuade him from jumping off a building.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hurricane Katrina : One year later

This is the Hurricane Katrina : One year later post.


Oh and watch Spike Lee's documentary if you have HBO.

Thank you.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Raaga of the day : Bhatiyar

Bhatiyar. What a raaga. Infinitely complex and extremely puzzling to the ears. It is a morning raaga, which, in the words of Mr Rajan Parrikar, "is heard at the crack of dawn, attendant with the quotidian, crepuscular rite where Indian ladies, armed with state-of-the-art spices, take control of their sovereign space to negotiate the day's culinary projects."

Despite my relative unfamiliarity with quotidian crepuscular rites, I have very little doubt that this richly tapestried pastiche of bizarrely juxtaposed words accurately describes this amazing raaga. Bhatiyar is a raaga with an edge. It is a raaga of apparent calm on the surface and a whirlpool of seething emotions underneath. I like to compare a Bhatiyar recital to, say, being a psychiatrist in a therapy session with a new patient who is chronicling, in detail, the happenings of his day as he sits across the table from you. This particular patient of yours is well-educated, clean-shaven and appears to be leading a well-adjusted life. Why, you wonder is he here and what does he want from you?

And so Bhatiyar begins quite innocuously, with every note shuddha (pure), Sa Ma Pa Dha Ni and you relax and settle back into your seat, expecting it to be a smooth listen. You pour yourself a big one.

And so, as your patient begins to talk about his life, his work, his hobbies, you begin to think that perhaps this will be an easy case, just some guy who has no one to talk to. And you are lulled into a state of tranquility as your patient drones on and on about his daughter's spending habits and his wife's preoccupation with jewellery and your attention begins to wander. And then, just as you are about to nod off, your patient exclaims, "Oh oh, let me tell you a story, this is funny, I killed my neighbour today, hacked him with a chainsaw, chopped off his head and made love to the torso".

And that is when Bhatiyar, inexplicably, takes a deep breath while on the Nishad, skips the higher Shadja and leaps onto the komal Rishabh, screaming out the intense sorrow and rage that has always been lurking beneath the outward serenity of the pure notes of the raaga.

But once that single hysterical outburst is done, Bhatiyar returns back to normalcy as a sober clean-shaven law-abiding melody, just like your patient, who continues to ramble on about how he just purchased a new garden rake because summer is almost over and he's got a lot of wooded acres in his backyard and they keep the house cool during the hot months but clearing all the leaves becomes a bitch in autumn, but as you are listening to him, you can't help but brace yourself for the next psychotic zinger he will surely be throwing at you, just as you brace yourself for Bhatiyar's next foray into the high octave komal Rishabh.

Here is a clip of Pandit Jasraj's rendition of Raaga Bhatiyar. Listen to the final moments of the clip. Don't be fooled by its apparent placidity, it is a homicidal raaga with a repressed childhood.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

This, that and the other

You know how it is sometimes when you come to hear about something for the very first time in your life and then its a pity 'cause they are closing it down for good, so even though it has no real bearing on your existence, you kinda feel sad because you didn't know about it when it was still there? This is the emotion that welled up in me after I read this piece of news. Going forward, the Chinese government has banned stripteases during funerals. I know, you're saying to yourself, boy I wish I was a Chinese corpse, but let me remind you because you seem to have missed the point of the article, namely, that the activity in question has now been banned. Yes yes I am sure don't you think I double-checked?

But the reasoning behind the striptease apparently is that the Chinese believe that a well-attended funeral gives you the same kind of God points as does flying planes into a building. So, the strippers are there to coax people into attending an otherwise solemn occasion with no intrinsic entertainment value. I liked this sentence in the report : "The disrobing served a higher purpose". I however fail to see any purpose in disrobing that is higher or holier than titillation.

Personally, I would more likely attend a funeral if they had an open bar. Or fireworks. Or some explosive combination of corpse and fireworks. That would really reel me in.

In other news, I woke up today with a searing pain in my left tongue. Not only do I appear to have been talking in my sleep, but talking while eating in my sleep. So children, there's a lesson in this for you, do not talk with your mouth full even when you are asleep 'cause you will bite your tongue and wake up in agony.

I saw something funny last night during the baseball game. It was a blurb that popped up and it said "Comeback player of the year award, sponsored by Viagra". I thought it was funny, but it might easily have been something that was not actually funny but only appeared to be so to somebody with my IQ level.

I have a colleague who thinks my last name is so weird in its unashamed Indianness that every time he needs to communicate with me, he deliberately mangles it in a fashion, he thinks, is guaranteed to make it sound funnier than it already is. Unfortunately for him, yesterday his mangling resulted in the creation of a new name which, far from being funny, is actually a different but legitimate Indian name. It was like how when Leonardo, while fiddling around with his mom's eye mascara, created the Mona Lisa by mistake. My colleague, on being informed about his accomplishment, was so pleased with his inadvertant creation that going forward, he wanted to be known by this name. It was then that the shoe went on the other foot and I began to mangle it for him. Past sins always come back to haunt you, brother.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Why blogging was slow

Let me take a minute and talk about why I have been somewhat lax in my blogging for the past few weeks. Every two years in the life of a software company there arrives a trade show so essential to the very survival of the company and the drinking habits of its employees that everything else has to be nudged aside in its favor. Such a show arrives in Chicago next month and in the words of the President of my company, it is "the trough from which we all feed from and would you guys fucking hurry up because feeding time is almost over". Hence the relatively meagre literary output emanating from this blog.

I usually get sent to this show along with everybody else in the company but this year they are leaving me here and I think I know why. It is because of The Incident. What happened was, the last time I was in Chicago for the show, there was one night when indiscriminate post-show partying took place accompanied by an overindulgence in the malted fermented beverages. The party who was guilty of forcing overindulgence upon the rest of the crowd was a colleague who was leaving Chicago the next day whereas the rest of us would continue to hold the fort through the rest of the show.

And so the next morning when I woke up in my motel room at 7:00 am, I was shocked to discover that I continued to be in the exact same state of acute inebriation that had existed as I fell asleep, and this was not really suprising since I had fallen asleep a mere three hours earlier. Painfully, I brushed my teeth, showered and appeared downstairs for roll-call. The president of my company accosted me with a smile.

"Good morning gawker", he said, because it turns out gawker is also my real-life monicker. I really hate the word monicker. "How many company t-shirts do you own?" he asked.

I was puzzled. Was my shirt unironed? Was it dirty? From my perspective of apparel hygiene I thought it looked pretty good. Nevertheless, I said I had two of them.

"Would you like to have two more?" he asked.

"Sure", I said. Hey, whoever turns down free t-shirts is either obscenely rich or passionately nudist and I was neither.

"But there's one thing you need to do for me", continued the president.

Ah, there was a catch, I knew it. I wondered if it involved murder, sodomy or contact with animals. "What's that", I asked.

"You will have to shave", replied the president.

Navigating slowly through the foggy blur of intoxication in my mind was a gradual comprehension that the conversation I was currently participating in was less about free t-shirts and more about my unshaven chin and its possibly adverse impact on the software demonstrations I would soon be making.

" you want me to go back upstairs and shave?" I asked, thinking correctly that it was probably a smart thing to say.

"Yes, that would be great, thank you", said the president. He didn't specify when I would be receiving my new company t-shirts but I didn't press him on it. I ran upstairs if you can call crawling up a staircase "running". I shaved. And then I demo-ed the software for the next nine hours, gulping five gallons of water every five minutes. Somehow I got through the day in one piece. It was great.

But I won't be going to Chicago this year. It is sad because I will miss Chicago food and the monstrous portions of meat they serve in restaurants up there. They put you and the food inside a cage and then it's a duel to the death and whoever wins gets to devour the other. Have you ever been inside the stomach of a deep-dish pizza? It's not very pleasant.

Ah I should have shaved, goddamnit I really should have shaved.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I am not dead yet but it was close

My inner voice , the one that is a plush baritone, sings in A minor and doesn't crack after a single yell, instructed me to write this post in order to inform any interested parties that I am still alive, well and gainfully employed.

Although I did almost perish today. The story goes that I woke up today morning and drove to work, and even though I had promised myself that I would not try and read any more car bumper stickers on the way, I relapsed and indulged in my addiction. Usually, reading the bumper sticker on the car you are tailgating is a fairly uneventful activity. You read the sticker and either smile at the "Don't blame me I voted for Kerry" sticker or frown at the "Bush Cheney 2004" sticker thinking goddamn not only are Republicans jackasses, they are also lazy sons of bitches, how about taking down that fucking thing already and I'm sure you still haven't dismantled your Christmas tree from last year, and then you go tailgate the next vehicle that is adequately bumper stickered to your taste.

However, the problem arises when it's a car occupied by one of those Christian religious fundamentalist guys. These people have so much pent-up emotion and a desire to slather their faith upon the world like butter on toast that their stickers always fail to exhibit the terseness and brevity which politically activist stickers are known for. The religious ones almost always are essays of at least 50 words or so, crammed into an area of about eighty square inches. And so, the font is always tiny and reading them becomes a chore, especially for one whose eyes were deflowered during early childhood due to an overindulgence in Hardy Boys adventures.

So I was trying to read this guy's bumper sticker and bloody hell, I couldn't get past the "I am your Creator" part but I persisted in my mission of deciphering the substance of that message when I realized that I was probably half an inch away from meeting my Creator in the form of the concrete divider. And then I wondered if the microscopic font was actually an elaborate ploy by the religious cartel to systematically annihilate members of the atheist community, at least those who suffer from poor vision, by distracting them while driving by offering up tantalizingly hackneyed and hard-to-read nuggets of wisdom on the backs of their cars. You might say it's a relatively futile endeavour, but I guess every bit counts.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

These are my thoughts for thursday

This nigga is back in the hizzouse. Youknowamsayin? That's what gangsta rappers keep asking us. "Youknowamsayin?" even if they haven't said anything yet. For example, Dr Dre, my favorite gangsta rapper of all time, opens his album, "The Chronic", my favorite rap album of all time, with the following lines :

"Hell yeah. Youknowamsayin?"

Yes, I say to the good doctor, you said hell yeah, and there was no way I could have misunderstood your point. See, what gangsta rappers should do is go through at least one full song before taking a break in order to ask the question "youknowamsayin". Kinda like how Ann Coulter pauses AFTER her liberal-bashing speeches to answer questions like, "So Ms Coulter, do you like your babies fried or merely sauted", or "What kinds of condiments do you usually add to your baby sandwich, does bacon merely augment or entirely overwhelm that fresh baby taste?"

Similarly, gangsta rappers should inquire "Youknowamsaying" after they have finished saying something, thus giving their audience an opportunity to reply, no, I did not really understand what you just said but I will now replay the record and listen to it with rapter attention.

But why was I even listening to rap? I was listening to my MP3 player on the train, my car being out of service. She was in the dealership yesterday because lately, the fact that wealth had been piling up in my wallet was kinda bugging me and my conscience reminded me that it was time for its redistribution. So I took her to the dealer for an oil change and left her there, safe in the knowledge that transfer of cash and cows from the bourgeoisie to the proletariat would soon ensue.

So then I took the train to work and back. Philadelphia has an interesting metro rail network, called SEPTA, not that it matters. The basic principle behind its architecture is that in order to travel from point A to point B, which is, say, distance "c", you always have to travel through point D say, at a distance "e" from point A where e = (c + x) miles, where x = distance equivalent to the time it takes you to be late for work. Point D is usually Center City, Philadelphia. So if you want to travel from your home which is in suburb A, to your workplace which is in suburb B, you get to visit the mighty City of Brotherly Love on the way, passing through Mexico in the process.

The very first thing you observe when you enter the city on the R5 regional rail line is a huge glass building standing by itself outside the 30th Street station. The moment you see the building, the first thought that enters your mind is, my, what a humongous penis of a skyscraper. I often wonder why every tall edifice in existence always gets compared to the male member.

When I was in UMass, our university library, called Dubois Library (shown on the left), a pretty gay name for a library, which might have something to do with it, was always compared to a penis. Indian graduate students used to call it "the lawda". I've got to visit the lawda, we used to say when it was time to return our books.

Other things that have been compared to the penis include the Washington memorial, the Eiffel tower and George W. Bush, all of which, excepting the last one have been called so because they suffer from the ignominy of being gargantuan erections of concrete or metal.

The question, therefore is, why aren't similarly human creations of humongous concavity ever compared to the female genitalia? For example, why isn't there anyone who has ever looked at the Pacific Ocean and breathed in wonder, wow, that is one giant vagina. Or how about those tourists who pass the Washington memorial and immediately bestow a look of contempt upon their own crotch in order to shame it out of its lethargy? Would these same people scream, Wooo Hooo here we go, into the vagina, when their car plunges into the Holland tunnel?

But I think I know the reason behind this apparent discrimination between the sexes. See, the vagina is a shy creature, hiding coyly behind not one, not two, but three different pairs of curtains, assuming you are not on the cover of "Shaven" magazine. The penis on the other hand, proudly rears its ugly head aloft in order to be seen and heard by society. The penis craves publicity, the vagina shies away from it. And that is why society tends to project the image of the penis onto anything that even vaguely resembles it while the vagina gets to enjoy a life of relative privacy, away from the public eye.

Good for the vagina, I say.