Thursday, February 23, 2006

The law of conservation of happiness

Long long ago when I was young, I once sat under a guava tree in our family garden for an extended period of time. I was emulating the famous British scientist, Sir Isaac Newton, hoping to gain some inspiration from a falling guava. That day was special for me. I had just decided on my future profession. I was gonna be a scientist and invent stuff. However, I had also realized that being a child, I did not yet possess the necessary skills a scientist would require in order to be able to practice his craft with a reasonable degree of competence. For example, I was still having problems with the multiplication table of 12. And so, my recourse had been to avail myself of the one thing freely available to anyone, even a child, that might help my transformation into a scientist of repute. Inspiration. Inspiration which, the legend of Sir Isaac Newton kept reminding us, could be obtained by sitting under an apple tree and waiting for fruit to fall off.

That was the reason why I found myself hunkered down at the base of the guava tree at 2:00 in the afternoon, since that was the only tree in our garden from which fruit had been known to fall off, (we had coconut trees as well but those are dangerous things to sit under) swatting those nasty red ants that were crawling up through a hole in the ground, waiting for gravity to take effect and bring me the inspiration I so sorely needed. Time passed by. People grew older. Somewhere in the world living creatures gave birth to their young and died. Food was digested, hair grew whiter and a million children were given a million nicknames that would stay on and haunt them throughout their lives.

But guavas refused to fall. Despondency crept over me. I was sad. Being a scientist was turning out to be a hard gig. My first order of business after turning into a full-fledged scientist, I decided, would be to invent a fast-forward button for life.

And then out fell a nice ripe greenish yellow guava. I was overjoyed. I had taken the first step towards becoming a scientist. I waited for inspiration. And then, I was inspired.

Why was I so overjoyed, I asked myself, over the mere incident of a falling guava? Maybe it had something to do with the vast ocean of sadness caused by the lack of falling guavas that I had been wallowing in merely 5 minutes earlier. And it was then that I realized that the guava had performed the task it was meant to do, and bestowed upon me a moment of enlightenment. I had formulated the law of conservation of happiness.

The law of conservation of happiness goes as follows : "Happiness cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only be transferred through space and time. The total amount of happiness in the universe remains constant."

Let me illustrate my thesis using a case study. It was a saturday and me and my wife were planning on travelling into Center City, Philadelphia by train to spend the day browsing the Museum of Art. As is to be expected, we left our apartment a mere 2 minutes before the scheduled departure of the train and pulled into the station just as the train pulled away. Sadness ensued. All, however, was not lost. There was another train to Philadelphia leaving from another station in 15 minutes. This station was about 5 miles away.

So we got into our cars and drove to this other train station. I had no idea as to its location. We realized that we were going to be late for this train as well. The next train, in case we missed this one, was in an hour. I was panicking. The total happiness content of my person reduced some more. After making some wrong turns and further depleting our happiness level, we finally found the station with the train standing by, ready to depart. We had made it barely in time.

Once we were comfortably ensconced inside the train, I realized that I was feeling tremendously exhilarated. It was strange, because all we had done was to catch a train. The happiness bouncing around inside my body was entirely disproportional to the reason behind it. But here's the point. The extra happiness I now possessed was that which had been depleted from the period before we boarded the train, when we had been feeling so low. Happiness hadn't been created, it had been transferred from pre-boarding time to post-boarding time.

Some of you might say this theory is bogus, and you might give me an example to contradict my claims. Hey, you might say, what about the boundless fields of joy your heart leaps through when you win the lottery? You were happy even before winning the lottery, so where did that extra happiness come from?

To which I would reply, that's easy enough. It came from the depleted happiness level of the millions of people who had purchased tickets for the same lottery who didn't win and instead, had to watch you win. In fact, this principle can be generalized to apply anywhere happiness is created, apparently out of thin air. As a rule of thumb, whenever one's happiness level gets a boost, it is compensated in an equal proportion by the numerous people who experience sorrow due to their begrudging of your windfall.

Thus, the thesis stands. Happiness can be transferred from one period of time to another, or from one location to another. However, it cannot be created. The total amount of happiness in the world remains constant.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I've come to understand that an average person, when confronted with a mystery, will always gravitate towards an explanation for that mystery which reinforces his stereotypical vision of the world, rather than the explanation that is more logical to the senses.

For example, yesterday I spiked my hair with mousse. Just for the heck of it. And at work, one of my colleagues, who happens to be a nosy character, promptly assailed me.

"Hey what's up with your hair?", he said.
"Why, don't you like it?", I asked him.
"Yeah, it's ok, I guess, but why did you mousse up today?"
"Just felt like it."

Incredulous look.

"No, really, why'd you do it?"
"Today just seemed to be a good day for moussing up", I explained patiently.
"That doesn't make any sense", he persisted.

I gave up.

"Ok, I moussed up because my hair smelt of curry and the only way I could hide that smell was to use mousse", I said with a sigh.
"Ah, ok, Indian curry", he said with a look of enlightenment on his face. "That makes sense".

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Suspicious Indian

So I went to Pepboys a few weeks ago for an oil change. As I walked up to the counter, I saw there was a line ending in an Indian guy in shorts. As I walked up to the end of the line, he acted as if I was gonna be barging ahead of him in the queue and squeezed closer into the line to clarify his stance with regard to my expected intrusion. Fuck, I thought, these Indians, why do they have to be so competitive in every field? Why can't they trust their fellow men for a change?

So being the possessor of telepathic powers that I am, I mentally said to him, "My friend, I can see that you are standing in line. I understand what the purpose of this line is. And I am not gonna thwart that purpose by stealing your position. So relax and enjoy life without taking any tension."

A few minutes later, I saw a Chinese woman walking up to the line. But before my mind could react, my body had already slithered closer to the rest of the line, closing the gap between me and the other Indian. And then, I heard a voice talking inside my head in Chinese, asking me to relax and not to take any tension.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Spinach mushroom soup

Ingredients :

1 packet of fresh spinach, pre-washed. Not the frozen shit. Use the frozen shit for your science experiments.
1 packet of mushrooms. I like the Shiitakes, but white mushrooms should do as well. As long as you don't go shroom-hunting yourself.
1 pack of vegetable broth. Or you could use water instead. Note, however, that soup made from water will taste like water whereas soup made from vegetable broth will taste like soup.
1 sad-looking tomato half you find in your fridge that's been there since who the fuck knows.
1 not-so-sad looking tomato half you bought yesterday 'cause the sad one's not gonna be enough for the soup.
2 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
4 serrano chillies, also known as "those chillies you get in the Indian store"
Some salt, pepper (use discretion)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon chilly powder
1 sprig of cilantro also known as coriander leaves if you're a fob like me
1 wife who loves you

Procedure :

Retrieve wife who loves you from the living room and through the correct combination of ingratiating remarks and thinly veiled threats to chop off your own fingers by mistake, get her to slice tomatoes, chillies, cilantro and mushrooms for you. In case wife who loves you isn't available or doesn't exist, slice tomatoes, chillies, cilantro and mushrooms using your nails and teeth. Sorry, I can't trust you with a knife if you're a man like me.

Take a big vessel. I mean, a huge one, the biggest one you own. I personally like my pasta-cooking pot. Add olive oil and turn on the heat to high. Add spinach. Saute.

Realize too late that you've forgotten to ask wife to chop garlic cloves. Carefully hold garlic cloves in right hand, open the trash receptacle and throw them inside. Add garlic powder to the spinach instead.

Once spinach attains the color and texture of the bottom of an ill-maintained swimming pool in Pune (green and mushy), add mushrooms. Saute some more. Reduce heat to medium high.

Add salt and pepper. Add soy sauce.

Open packet of vegetable broth making sure you spill some in the process. Spillage will only make your soup taste better, or so they say, they being me. Empty vegetable broth inside vessel.

Add chopped tomatoes, chillies and chilly powder. Reduce heat to low medium.

Cover and cook for 15 minutes or so till tomatoes have given their all to the soup. Using a spoon, taste for correct proportion of salt. After screaming aloud in pain because you didn't wait for it to cool, taste it again, this time first blowing on it before shoving it into your mouth.

Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Delicious soup is ready. Will feed 6 people for a single meal, or 3 people for two meals or 2 people for 1 meal if one of them happens to be me.

Friday, February 17, 2006

It is ok to write crap

The problem with being a successful blogger, I'm guessing, would be, that with every post you write, you raise the bar higher for your next post. So every time you write a superb sparkling bit of prose, you tend to exert yourself some more for what is to come after that, making sure that it has more jazz and pizzazz than the previous one. You keep doing this, and pretty soon it so happens that you've raised the bar so high for yourself that you require a pole every time you need to vault yourself through another blog post.

Take, for example, the fiendishly clever greatbong. He's such a prolific and gifted writer that every post of his succeeds in tapping into newer, richer veins of humor that had previously lain undisturbed since the beginning of time. But occasionally, if he writes a post that falls short of total perfection, say, a post that is a tad less humorous than usual, or a trifle less polished, his audience is immediately all over it like Salman Khan on the slumbering homeless, subjecting it to unselfishly generous doses of criticism. Sometimes I wonder if greatbong lies awake at night worrying about his next post and the bar it definitely would have to scale in order for it to make it past the discerning scrutiny of his audience. Because if it were me, I know for a fact that I sure would. "Too much pressure, too much pressure", I would mutter to myself as I begin to count sheep and wonder if that act of counting sheep to combat my insomnia, in itself, could become the subject of a great blogpost.

But there is a reason why I would never find myself in the greatbong's position and this is why. For every reasonably eloquent post I write, I follow it up with one that is so mind-bogglingly ordinary, so grotesquely pedestrian, that even as I write it, I feel sorry for my mother who was responsible for the presence on this earth of someone capable of writing trash of such an inferior quality. For example, take the post I'm writing as we speak. Even as I type these words into Blogger, I have no idea where this post is heading or why I'm writing it. Of course, one reason for writing it would be that I had always wanted to link to the greatbong, and this is as good an excuse as any.

So this is my lesson for all you budding bloggers. First of all, don't take any blogging lessons from someone who has blogged a mere 6 months longer than you have. Like me. And secondly, don't raise the bar too high for yourself. Try not to pamper your audience too much with consistently excellent blogging. After all, we do not wish to spoil them now, do we? Throw in some mediocrity now and then. If you keep insisting on the highest standards of blogging excellence from your own self, you will wear yourself out and most probably have nightmares where you dream that you've been fired from your job and have to subsist on blogging for a living (I'm not even kidding). And then, you're just a couple of blogposts away from full-fledged dementia.

On the other hand, even if you occasionally write utter bullshit, your audience is gonna be lenient with you. They probably won't leave you just because of a couple of bad posts. They are forgiving that way. So take it easy on yourself and your sanity. Go on, write those shitty posts. Execute some occasional plunges into the well of mediocrity. Seek repose in the brain-soothing filth at the bottom of the cellars of uninspiredness. For it is when you have plumbed the bottom of that mire that your rise above it will be all the more satisfying to the perfectionist inside you. And to your audience. Keep in mind though, I'm not saying make a career out of it, just do it often enough to keep your audience from getting too judgemental on your ass.

Look at it this way : Rich foods might tickle the palate, but fiber is essential for a complete diet.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


I feel sorry for my Indian store guy. He's a decent quiet fellow probably Gujju, originally from Bombay. Everytime I borrow a movie from him, he tells me to bring it back in two days because its very "hot-selling". The last movie that I borrowed from him was Bunty aur Babli which stayed with me for 3 weeks. When I went back to return it, I said to him, "Sorry sir, thoda late ho gaya". He smiled and jokingly replied, "Yes, I will take from you a thousand days rental", and laughed. But you could see in his eyes when he laughed that if given the choice, if he weren't such a nice guy, he would really have taken a thousand days rental from me and kicked me out of his store. But he's a nice guy and nice people get taken advantage of by pricks like me.

So last saturday I borrowed Apaharan. This time my conscience gave me a hard time so by tuesday I was ready to watch it so I could return the movie today in just 4 days, a record of sorts. I liked the movie. It had a good storyline and no songs for the first hour and a half, which is always good. And when finally the only song in the movie made its appearance, it did so with appropriate warnings in the form of pre-song psychedelic lights, partial nudity and bar entry of hero, sidekicks and villain which gave me ample time to fast forward to the next scene and not see any part of it.

Ajay Devgan was awesome and did a good job without engaging in undue histrionics. Nana Patekar was scarily calm and didn't overact. There was very little gratuitous violence and when there was violence, it was short and to the point with very little generation of fake punching noises. Bipasha Basu appeared early in the film but left suddenly, probably because she had a date with John Abraham. She then reappeared very late in the film for a brief period of time, because I guess she had forgotten to collect her salary check and then left again not to return.

The story was very believable and Ajay Devgan's character had real pathos where you actually identified and commiserated with him. Also, I liked the moral ambiguity in the film. No snap judgements were made about the morality of characters by not painting them in black or white. Except for Nana Patekar, who was pure evil but didn't showcase his evilness explicitly by raping anyone. I think the three most powerful scenes in the movie were one, where Nana Patekar walks around his car raging about the police stopping him, then opens the trunk of the car almost casually to show a guy in the fetal position inside, then closes it so fast that you are left asking your wife, did he just show the police that he had a body in his trunk? What fucking gall, you say. The casualness of his demeanour was kind of creepy. The second scene was just before the end of the movie when father and son enjoy a moment of reunification. That was touching without being verbose. In fact the lack of verbosity, the ability to put the point across in an understated, subtle manner was one of the main reasons why I liked this film. The third scene was when Ajay Devgan realizes the ways of the world, gets hit by a car and begins to cry on the street. He cries well. I think more heroes should cry in Hindi movies, with the only caveat that they do so in a manner reminiscent of Ajay Devgan in that scene.

I think another characteristic of this movie was that the evil guy wasn't being deliberately evil for the sake of it. The movie depicted the breakdown of normal life in Bihar to such an extent that being evil has become necessary in order to survive, and has attained a kind of morality about it. Because morality is always relative. For example, killing someone in self-defense is moral.

And finally, the background music was stellar. I don't know who was behind it but buddy, you did a good job.

Ok now to things I found irritating in this movie. One was the relentless plugging of Ajtak, the hindi news channel. Enough already. Secondly, too many cellphone conversations in the movie. That was probably a plug for some cellphone company although I wasn't able to make out which one. Then, Bipasha Basu. She might as well have been a picture pinned up on the wall. I don't know why she had to open her own blog to plug this movie. She's in the movie for barely 5 minutes. You know, if the plot doesn't call for a female lead, then just do away with her entirely instead of having a token pretty face to plaster on the movie posters. And Bipasha looks kind of weird in decent clothes.

Ajay Devgan does a bad impression of a South Indian anna. And coloring one's face silver black is not the correct way to pretend to be a South Indian. I haven't seen any silver black colored South Indians.

The movie was also a bit depressing. The all-consuming corruptness of the system is depicted so realistically that it leaves one with no hope about the future of India. And in one way, the message of the movie appears to be that there is no way of fighting this corruption. There is no silver lining. But then again, this might actually be the case in Bihar. Who the fuck knows.

My wife had her own views about the movie. Women are strange. They watch the entire movie with rapt attention, asking you to pause it when they want to leave the room even for a few seconds, then when the movie ends, they look at you in disgust, saying "What a horrible movie, why did you get it, there's so much violence." So an argument ensued between the wife and me after the movie where bad things were said about this movie by my wife, and I, not to be left behind, said bad things about Bunty aur Babli just out of spite.

So, to conclude, good movie, good acting, very watchable. But I'm sure most of you have already seen it so this review is essentially a waste of space. But a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Britney Spears and Snow

So Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has scolded Britney Spears for driving around with her baby in her lap, saying this sets a bad example to her American fans. I agree with his critical assessment. Being a Britney Spears fan myself, a few years ago I even planned on living in a trailer park and raising pigs for a living, just to experience the joy of being Britney Spears firsthand, thats how big a fan I am. And also since I look to her for all my vehicular regulatory needs, the moment I saw her driving around with a baby in her lap, I said to myself, hell, if Britney Spears is doing it, that's gotta be legal. And then I spread the word around, letting people know that those baby seats were just a nuisance, and why bother with them when you could drive and change your baby's diaper all at the same time? In fact, I won't be surprised if figures show that millions of American women fall prey this year to teenaged pregnancies after this incident 'cause they all wanted to be like Britney and drive around with a baby in their laps since it was the in-thing. These were probably the same women who took up stripping as a career after seeing Demi Moore in Striptease.

Great job, Norman Mineta. Now we know who to blame if infant fatalities in car accidents suddenly show a sharp spike.

And speaking of shit falling from the sky, we had a huge fucking snowstorm over the weekend. When I woke up sunday morning, this is what my car looked like.


And pretty much everyone else's car as well.


So this woman, probably a neighbour of mine, emerged from her apartment and started shovelling at freakin' 9:00 in the morning. That too, before it had even stopped snowing. She cleared some snow around her car, worked for about an hour, then went back inside. After watching her toil in the cold, I felt guilty and I ran out to shovel my own car out of the snow.

I am pretty efficient at shovelling. All you need is a game plan and the right techniques. Now when you shovel your car out of the snow, this is what you need to do first, before you do anything else. Clear all the snow from the side of your car that faces the road. Because if you don't do that, the snow plows will come in and pile up all the snow against your car, compressing it against the side of your car. So I shovelled out all that snow, cleared up the front and back of my car, thus creating a path for it to drive out of it's parking spot, then went back inside after about half an hour's worth of shovelling.

Then, the woman who I had seen shovelling outside, again came back out and began to shovel. This time she shovelled the back-side of her car, throwing all the snow into her neighbour's parking space. After another hour's worth of work, she went back inside.

After a couple of hours, she again came out and shovelled the side of her car. Then she climbed into her car, drove it in reverse and into the parking spot that had just been vacated by her neighbour. She got out, and, this is no exaggeration, she cleared the snow on the road underneath her car. Why would she do that unless she planned to spend the night curled up in that spot? It just didn't make any sense.

And then, all day long, the woman kept coming out and shovelling various parts of her parking spot till it was cleaner than it had been even before the snowstorm. And I spent all day watching her do her thing. Man, there's nothing more enjoyably lazy than watching other people work in the cold while you sit in your apartment drinking beer. She looked pretty obsessed with her parking spot. But hey, some people are just plain weird.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Indian restaurants

The Philadelphia suburb that is my workplace contains very few eating joints. I never bring a tiffin, so I eat out everyday. There's a Subway, a Wendy's and finally, a Mexican restaurant. The Mexican place has got okay food. As in, you can get by if you don't try out any bizarre menu items, for example, the Fajita sandwich. I had it once and it was like biting into a live cow, which it probably was. That place is owned by an Indian guy. Now I have no problems with an Indian guy owning a Mexican restaurant. But the problem is, the restaurant kitchen is adjacent to the parking lot, and the moment you park your car and get out, you are treated to hideously loud Bollywood fillum music. And you can imagine the cooks inside doing the Ganpati kite-flying dance to Anu Malik and telling each other sardarji jokes as they roll up a Burrito Grande. Not very authentic Mexican, this image. But the food, as I said, is okay.

Then there's this other place, also Indian-owned. This joint is entirely Indian inside-out, as it is not only Indian owned, but also has Indian food. In fact, it might be the best place to get Indian food in or around Philadelphia. But as is to be expected, it suffers from poor Indian management. These poor Indian management techniques can be summarized in four words : "The customer is never right".

I used to go to this place very often, like once every week. And I used to order take-out on the phone, so that it would be ready by the time I got there. They had these "lunch specials", consisting of a veg / non veg menu item + paratha + rice + dal makhani, all this for about 8 bucks. If you bought the same menu item at regular price, it would cost you 16 bucks or so. So, naturally, I used to get the lunch special, enunciating it clearly during order-giving time so as not to cause any confusion.

So one day, I ordered the lamb roganjosh lunch special on the phone as usual, and then after 10 minutes, I drove there to pick it up. The bill said 16 bucks. "Hello", I said to the manager, "This says 16 bucks. I ordered the lunch special, which is 8 bucks".

The manager blinked at me. "No, you didn't, you ordered from the regular menu", he said.
"Well, I didn't", I said. "In fact, you can ask whoever it is who took the order and he will tell you that I ordered the lunch special."
"I took the order", he said, "And I'm telling you that you didn't."

Fuck, I thought. What a pain in the ass. I wasn't about to pay 8 bucks more 'cause the guy's deaf. I persisted on.

"Ok, lets think about this for a second", I said. "Why in God's name would I order from the dinner menu if I could get the same damn thing for a smaller price as a lunch special, especially since it also happens to be lunchtime right about now?"

"Well, I don't know but you didn't order the lunch special", he said. It was like his brain was stuck in an intergalactic wormhole. I tried a different angle. It was high time I tried a different angle because the place was filling up with waiters who were pushing and jostling, everyone trying to get a front-row seat for the argument.

"Ok now let me put it to you this way : Would it make better business sense for you, if I paid you extra today for the lamb, got pissed off and never came back here again, or...." The manager interrupted, his ego having just shoved a cattle prod up his butt.

He yelled, "Yes, yes, you go away..." This time I interrupted him.

"Hold on, let me finish what I'm saying. So would it make better business sense for you to piss me off today so that I never come back, or would it be better if you just gave me my lunch special today and I kept coming back every thursday as I usually do? What would make more sense for you financially?"

I had him there. He had no reply for me. Finally, with a weary look of defeat, so deliciously piteous that I could barely restrain myself from going over and licking it off his face with my tongue, he said to the waiter nearest him, "Go, get this guy his lunch special".

Fuck, it was an awesome victory. And the food was all the more tasty, laced as it was, with half an hour's worth of acrimonious debate.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Chocolate and keys

Chocolate has never been my friend. Maybe a passing aquaintance, but there never existed a bond between us strong enough that I would mourn its absence from my life for prolonged periods of time. In fact, even as I sit at my desk and eat this chocolate covered donut, it is to be noted that I am tolerating the chocolate coating only in order to get to the swiss pudding part which, I have been told, lies at the center.

And chocolate hasn't been good to me either. I remember once during a trip to India, I bought some chocolate in the duty-free store at Amsterdam. 'Cause I think there's a rule somewhere in my Indian passport that states that NRIs wont be admitted into India unless they purchase those triangular Toublerone chocolates for every Indian they are linked to either by blood or by marriage. So I bought the damn things, paid for them and was leaving the store when the electronic beeping gadget at the entrance went mad. I was stopped, asked if I had paid for whatever it is that I had purchased. Even after I showed them the receipt, I was forced to open up my rucksack, lay out its contents on the floor for perusal and only allowed to go after it was clear that I had committed no felony. A public rectal exam would have been less humiliating. Ever since then, I haven't bought any consumer products that have been crafted out of chocolate.

That is, till a couple of weekends ago when I went to the grocery to buy some stuff. I was starving and needed to get some carbs into my system. So I bought a snickers chocolate bar, ate half of it and stuffed the other half into my pocket.

Later that night, as I was drinking and watching television with the wife, I heard the tell-tale sounds of a moving truck outside my apartment. Hey the new neighbours are here, I said to the wife. Our old neighbours had cleared out a few days ago. I went to the window and saw some moving activity occurring. A husband, wife and a couple of black movers were milling around on the street. I noticed that my car was strategically parked in such a way as to cause maximum hindrance to any moving taking place in the vicinity. It was also parked in such a way that there was an inordinately high probability of it getting struck by items of furniture as they made their way out of the moving truck. So, out of the goodness of my heart and concern for my car, I decided to play the part of a good neighbour and extend a friendly greeting to the new folks by moving my car out of the way.

"I'm going out", I said to the wife. "My car's in their way."
"You are drunk", said the wife. "Don't drive too far."

I opened the door and stepped outside, smiling in a manner befitting an amiable inebriate.

"Hi, I live here", I said, pointing to the door I had just emerged from, trying to dispell any doubts that might have existed in their minds about me being someone who walks out of other people's homes.

The guy extended his hand. Before he could greet me, I added, "Do you want me to move my car? So you get some space."

"Sure, thank you very much. I'm....", fuck I don't remember his name. Anyways, I said cool, walked to my car and got in.

A word about my car key. It belongs to the kind that is enclosed within a rectangular casing, popping out when a button on that casing is pressed. So I got into the car and pressed the button. Nothing happened. What the hell, I said to myself. I looked at the key closely. I couldn't see anything, so I switched on the light.

The entire thing was covered in chocolate. Chocolate had permeated into every orifice of that key. Fuck, I said, stupid snickers bar. Apparently, chocolate and keys had engaged in sexual congress inside my pocket, forming a homogenous object that had become incapable of starting cars. Chocolate had also gotten lodged into the space between the casing and the key, thus disallowing the key from coming out. I banged the key around, expecting something to happen. Nothing happened. I knew what I had to do.

I began to suck on the key. I sucked it long and hard, displaying a command over the technique any professional fornicator would be proud of. I sucked it horizontally, vertically and sideways. I flicked my tongue lovingly into all its crevices in order to get rid of the chocolate that was impeding the movement of the key. The chocolate was doing good things to my alcohol-soured mouth. My utter enjoyment of its sweetness added passion to the proceedings. I closed my eyes and kept sucking.

After a while, I opened my eyes in order to test whether the key was ready to pop out. Sure enough, it did, and I was back in business. Sliding it into the car I turned on the ignition and drove away to the other end of the street. As I was pulling away, I happened to look in the mirror. Husband, wife, black mover no.1 and black mover no.2 were all staring in my direction transfixed. I had forgotten to turn off the car light during the sucking. Fuck.

After parking the car, I walked back and with as much dignity as I could muster up, said good night to those good citizens and went back into the apartment. Hopefully they would still be my neighbours in the morning.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Results not typical

You know, when you are watching television and that Slimfast ad pops up with all those curvaceous women jumping around with those stupid happy grins on their faces, celebrating the fact that their bodies are no longer as prone to gravity as they used to be 4 weeks ago, or 2 weeks ago, or even 1 week ago in some cases, before you say to yourself, fuck, I wanna be as thin as those women and wear tight fitting jeans that look tasteful without being obscene in order to show off my newly visible curves, just hold on for one goddamn minute. For one, you are a man, so quit acting gay. Unless you are in fact gay, of course. And secondly, stop watching those women for a while and check out the bottom part of the screen. If you are quick, you'll see the phrase "Results not typical" flit by.

So when they are telling us that this woman lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks and while you are busy watching the jumping and the oscillating, they also quickly let you know that these women are an aberration, and that the probability of you losing the same weight in the same period of time is as high as you coming across a half-eaten muffin lying on the road and not devouring it. Which is close to zero, since you are a fat bastard who will eat everything he sees.

But my question to Slimfast is, why in the name of Rosie O'Donell are you showing me women who've had non-typical results? In order for me to make an educated decision, shouldn't you show someone in the ad who has had a realistic sheddage of pounds, not someone who got thin through some voodoo black magic not available to the layperson?

Boy, there's just no honesty left in the advertizing industry.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Cigarette flickers and road scrapers

Usually I'm a very tolerant person on the road while I drive. Since I am a very aggressive driver myself, I respond to other people's driving aggression with a cordial empathy without getting unduly incensed in the process.

But there is one act of such unusual flippancy and carelessness performed by many drivers that it vexes me to no end. The casual cigarette-toss out of the window. I have accused many a good mother or sister of carrying on an incestuous relationship with her son or brother respectively, solely on the basis of his habit of flicking a lighted cigarette out of his car while he is driving in front of me. I have no problems with people smoking in their cars. I do have problems with people smoking my car.

This is what I think a smoking driver should do when he is done with his dose of cancer. He should pull into the highway shoulder. He should place the cigarette on the ground. He should stub it with his shoe, making sure it has been extinguished. And then he should pull out. Or, if that's asking for too much, he should at least open the car door while driving, bend down and release the lighted cigarette at ground level so that it does not bounce up into the car behind him.

But it is just inconsiderate of the driver to flick the cigarette deliberately at such an angle that it bounces up on the road and disappears into the space between your bonnet and the road. And that's what happened to me the other day. What if the cigarette's gone into my engine, I wondered. Would it set something ablaze? I tried to think of the various components of my car that are likely to catch on fire and realized that most of them probably were. I also wondered if my insurance would cover me in case there was a fire. Why would they, though? In fact, I realized, I should probably take down the license plate number of the guy who was going to be responsible for my car being burnt to a crisp.

I searched for a pen in the glove compartment. I couldn't find one. Then, I remembered that my keychain had a smallish pen attached to it. Problem was, it was in my jeans pocket. Anyone who has tried to zip up their jeans while driving with their seatbelt on might be able to imagine how difficult it would be to retrieve a keychain out of a jeans pocket. It wasn't easy. I swerved all over the place, most probably causing the guy behind me to search for his own pen in order to write down my license plate number.

Finally, I was successful. I tried writing down the number on my palm. After stabbing myself in the palm a few times, I gave up and instead, used an envelope I found on the seat beside me. After it was done, I looked at what I had written and couldn't make it out. By then the guy had disappeared, and I had to speed up in order to catch up with him. Again, I noted down his number, trying to recall the calligraphy class I had taken in primary school. This time I did a better job.

It was then that I asked myself exactly what the point of writing down the number was. The guy could always deny it. But then, maybe if I proved that he usually can be found at that spot on the highway at that time, I could prove my case to the authorities. For that I would need to find out where he worked and his work-hours. Who would tell me that? His friends wouldn't give him up. Would I have to seduce his wife in order for her to be a corroborative witness? Fuck, this was too much work. It's good I didn't go to Law College. It all looks nice and good on tv but it's a lot of work in practice.

Then, just as I was done with my scheming, I saw a truck in front of me. And the goddamn thing had sparks coming out from under it. Apparently some part of the truck was brushing aginst the tarmac. And the sparks were flying right into my car. With a sigh, I again reached for my jeans pocket. Rinse and repeat.

Luckily, though, my car didn't catch on fire and I didn't have to carry out my scheme. But at least now I know what I would have to do in case it's necessary in the future.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Big TV

I went out this saturday and bought a great big TV. A huge fat fucker of a tv. It is a Sony High-def 55 inches LCD projection TV. My sister will probably yell at me because when I went to India, she made me sign a notarized agreement that I would only buy a TV with DLP technology. The TV I bought doesn't have DLP. I don't know what the 55 inches stand for : height, width, diagonal length or the sum total in length of the cock I'm gonna have to blow in the back alleys of Philadelphia in order to pay for the damn thing. In short, it was pretty goddamn expensive.

So I went to Circuit City and was lurking around trying to determine which model to buy. Making a choice isn't that hard, you know. I think what the Circuit City TV mafia does is to fuck up all the picture settings in the less expensive models so that they all look like shit. So you either have the choice of buying a cheaper TV whose crappiness you can visually attest to, or that superb awesome crystal clear expensive model, the sale of which should boost the US economy all by itself.

Another thing that's funny is how whichever TV you finally settle on, the salesguy always seems to have owned it at some point in his life. It's like, boy, this guy goes through a lot of TVs. What's he, a serial TV abuser? Shouldn't he be in jail?

So finally I bought it and was promised that it would be delivered to my apartment before the Superbowl. I got up early sunday morning to assemble the TV stand so that it would be ready before the new TV was delivered. In a couple of hours I had the stand ready and waiting. With one problem. I had assembled it inside out. Basically I had assembled it in such a way that the ugly brown plywood side was outside while the cool grey side was inside.

But anyways, fuck the stand, I love this TV. This TV is so humongous that it takes up an entire wall of my apartment. It's like owning my own movie theater. I watched the Superbowl yesterday on this TV and I swear, the picture was so clear that I could see the spinach sticking out of the teeth of individual crowd members. The next few days should be fun as I spend my life in front of the box.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Why I need to buy a really crappy car

You either own a crappy car or you own a decent car. People who own decent cars have a problem with parking lots. The problem is that people who own crappy cars park near their car. Since people with crappy cars don't care about their cars or other people's cars, they are not very careful about backing out of their parking spot and end up bashing into the decent car.

So people with decent cars try to park in a remote parking spot, a spot that has no cars near it. Especially no crappy cars. But this doesn't work in principle, and this is why. People with semi-decent cars that are neither crappy nor decent come and park near their car. They do this deliberately because they know that people with decent cars are careful while backing out, and you always want to park near someone who is careful while backing out. That is why people with decent cars lose on either end of the bargain.

My car got bashed in my parking lot and I don't know who did it. That's why I'm gonna get a crappy car to be able to park in peace without worrying who is gonna be the next person to bash my decent car.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

An encounter with the Third Kind

When I visited India this December, on the way I made a stopover in Switzerland, you know, just to be able to write in my resume that yes, I have been to Switzerland, even if it was only for a couple of days. 'Cause boy, if you haven't been to Switzerland, and people who've been to Switzerland come to know about it, they will embark on this lengthy narrative of the time they were there and what they did and why you should really visit this awesome place if you ever go there and why haven't you been there yet, don't you have a sense of adventure at all, are you poor, etc, etc. So the stopover was mostly a tool which would enable me to tell such people to shut the fuck up, that yeah I have, in fact, been to Switzerland.

But it was nice. Yeah, apart from the fact that it snowed all the three days I was there and the glacier I climbed up on top of (by climbing up I mean took a cable car) was so goddamn cold that my tongue got stuck to the roof of my mouth, it was a nice trip. Beautiful glaciers, great mountains and nice food. Speaking of food, anyone who is planning to go to Der Schweiz, here's a tip for you. Bring along with you an idli-dosa making kit and an electric cooking range. 'Cause my God, is the food freaking expensive. And my problem is that whenever I travel somewhere, I like to experience the native culture in its entirety. Which includes the food. So I won't live like a backpacker, you know, go to a McD's or live on toast and jam. I like to go to the neighbourhood restaurants and feed on the local delicacies.

In this case, it was a problem because the food was so costly. So the second day we were there, we decided to have dinner in the hotel lounge. There is some psychopathic section of my brain which somehow manages to convince me everytime I take a vacation or go somewhere that no matter how expensive food might be outside the hotel, the restaurant inside the hotel will sell it to me cheaper since I am staying there. And this, even after finding out that the miniature Jack Daniels in the hotel room cost as much as a real bottle of Jack Daniels would in a liquor store.

So my wife and I, we entered the hotel lounge and were led to our seats. We were then handed the menus, which allowed us to look at them, quickly do a Swiss Franc to dollar conversion and realize that the house of cards I had built in assuming that the food would be cheaper here had just come tumbling down. I had never seen food cost so much anywhere else in the world.

There are two kinds of people in this world, based on their reaction to an overpriced menu in a decent restaurant. The first kind rip their dignity out of its hiding place deep within their souls, skewer it with the steak knife and leave the restaurant, only pausing long enough for their picture to be taken by hotel management in order to be sent to the "Cheapskates Weekly", which is a magazine every restaurant in the world subscribes to.

The other kind, which I belong to, experience a sensation akin to what you would experience if someone tried to steal your wallet out of your pants pocket and managed to steal your pants along with it. A stunned disbelief, followed by a feeling of abject poverty and shame. But, after that initial wallop, we stiffen our lips and go along with it. Hell, if I'm gonna fall off a cliff, I'm gonna enjoy the scenery as I do that. So we drape the napkin over our quaking knees, call the waiter and proceed to order a lavish spread despite the strong dent it's gonna make in our bank balance.

So I ordered the lamb something, my wife ordered the vegetarian something and food was being consumed by both of us, when I observed another Indian couple enter the restaurant. Look at that, I said to my wife, how innocent, how fragile, how hungry they look, little do they know what's in store for them. I was interested in watching their reaction to the menu. What kind of human were they? I was curious. Luckily, they were assigned a table next to us.

The wife went first. Covering her mouth with her hand, no doubt, in order to utter an expletive, she pointed to the menu with eyes rolling around. The husband looked subdued. He read to the end of the menu and then turned it over in a frantic hope that the back of the card held the secret low low costing menu no one else knew about. No such luck. Been there, done that.

The waiter appeared. The husband asked, "Is this all you have?"
The waiter deemed that question unfit to be answered and stayed silent.
After pausing for a while, the husband said, "You know, I'm not very hungry, do you have salads?"
The waiter replied, "Sure, we can make one for you."
The husband said, "How much would it cost?" The waiter told him how much. The husband took a moment to ponder this information.
"Do you have any pastas?"
The waiter pointed to the menu. "Here".
The husband looked at the item he was pointing to and said, "You know, I'm not really that hungry, I don't need all that meat in my pasta."
The waiter, rising to the occasion, said, "Well, we can make a pasta with no meat.
"I don't want vegetables, either", said the husband preemptively.
"You just want steamed pasta?" queried the waiter with a hint of nausea.
"What else can you put on it?", asked the husband.
"Well, we can put some tomato sauce on it. Spaghetti with tomato sauce. Would you like that?", asked the enterprising waiter.
The husband brightened. "Yes, that sounds good. How much would that be? "The waiter told him. Apparently it wasn't that bad 'cause the waiter wrote it down in his notebook.

"And for you, ma'am?", asked the waiter. "I will just have a coke", replied the wife. "Can you bring an extra plate please?"

Brilliant, I said to myself, making a note in my head about this third kind of diner I had just discovered. Got to try this out tomorrow.

But the next day, all my plans pretty much went down the drain because as you know, it's difficult to change oneself. Once a splurger, always a splurger.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Something from the archives

The problem with starting a new blog is that when it's new, no one reads it, and if no one reads it, you don't have any motivation to write anything good. So you don't really put any effort into writing and just keep spewing some godawful crap and this causes even less people to visit your blog, thus turning into a vicious cycle.

I have written my share of crap posts when I started blogging. Fortunately, this post wasn't one of them. And I think it deserves more attention than being relegated to the musty confines of my archive.