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.

Friday, August 04, 2006

When in doubt, let the alcohol talk

I think Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers would be a very cute man if he weren't so disgusting looks-wise. Also, he somehow reminds me of Condoleezzaa Rice, assuming she has those two a's at the end which I strongly doubt.

Also, there is but one thing that can be done when all the employees of a company go off to partake of lunch, locking the door behind them and on returning, realize that no one has the key to unlock it. No one except the boss, who has disappeared as well. And that one thing is the playing of wholesome family games in the training room.

Some on the Religious Right might rightfully point out that to play family games with office employees denigrates and endangers the sanctity of a real family. What next, eating together under a single roof? Raising little office children with post-it eyes and staplermouths? Where do we draw the line?

But the games did take place regardless of these very valid hypothetical arguments. The festivities began with a game of minesweeper with me competing against the clock and heckling bystanders. It took me 184 seconds to complete the beginners level. I was followed by an elderly gentleman who shamed me and my ancestral cottage in Goa by accomplishing the same in 27 seconds. He was amply rewarded with the tabling and passage through popular vote of a legislative proposal that seeked to establish that he was, despite his advancing years, good at something other than the mere consumption of oxygen. Yes, we capitalists can be cruel at times.

Other games that subsequently followed were hangman and one that was tentatively called "make fun of the Indian guy". Oh I was so very bad at that one. But then the boss returned and work resumed. On the whole, it was a productive afternoon if you weren't an Indian guy.

Speaking of nothing in particular, I subscribed to, this amazing music download service. It is great because you get 40 song downloads a month for only 10 bucks. So it's 25 cents a song which is great because it allows you to set aside some money every month so as to someday save enough to buy that rat poison you saw the other day in the store window and just couldn't stop thinking about because of all the high gas prices. makes one feel as if he were a bull in a china shop, a bull who wishes he could stuff all that china into the leftist bag slung over his shoulders and take it home with him. But the best part about emusic is that it has loads of Indian classical music. All the greats. And every song, which is basically an entire album, is 25 cents. A fucking bargain. There's all kinds of other hard-to-find shit too, like the Cocteau Twins, Labradford, Sigur Ros, Thievery Corporation and tons of Indie and ethno techno (Karsh Kale, Midival Panditz). Oh and they also have a boatload of Bollywood stuff. Both new and old.

The downside to this service is that they do not have a lot of big record labels signed up. So no mainstream music. But you know what, if you are into mainstream music, you don't deserve it anyways. Boo.

But check it out anyways, even if you are a Lance Bass fan and are wondering if you should let your folks know that you just found out through People magazine that you are gay. Hey, they give you 25 free downloads when you sign up. You could freak out on Himesh Reshammiya, the early years.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Up and away

After spending most of this week wreathed in a miasma of depression (miasma being the word of the week, courtesy this very succinct review of Tom Friedman's "The world is flat"), the morning of today held some promise towards the relaxation of its vise-like grip on my neck. Why depression? Well why not? The nerve-wracking, gut-punching heat. The relentless attack of search engine queries on this blog relating to the dal shortage, reminding one that yes, the world is still reeling from the effects of that catastrophe. Reading sentences like this in a film review : "It is safe to assume that it will take some time for Shyamalan to dry his clothes in the marketplace". The extraordinarily grim prospects of seeing India in the finals of the next FIFA world cup. And finally, the overwhelming, skin-melting, brain-roasting heat.

But as I was driving to work, things seemed to be picking up. But then, abruptly, they began to go downhill again. First, a motorcycle rider sped past me in the fast lane. Ah to own a motorcycle and be young again, I said to myself. Then, another went by, equally fast, this one with tattoos on his bare legs. I couldn't remember the last time I had a tattoo. Oh wait, I did remember. I was a beautiful young transvestite hooker in Greenwich village. Greenwich village doesn't have any transvestite hookers, you say? You haven't seen any you say? Look closer. They're the ones with the tattoos on their legs.

And just as I was settling comfortably inside the familiar groove formed by my self-pitying wallowing, I saw a black cop car whiz by faster than the wind broken by Carl Lewis' flatulence gland. Hallelujah, I prayed, please let him be pursuing the biker. And so he was, my friends, so he was. Soon the road started to contain people pulled over by the cop, namely the biker. But wait a second, what about the other guy, the tattooless one? He appeared to have escaped. In the distance, I could see him fleeing towards the sunset, changing lanes, weaving through traffic, no doubt heaving a sigh of happiness as the beads of relieved perspiration from his forehead drifted past me on the morning breeze. I began to sink into despondency again.

But fate wasn't done with me yet. Armed with wailing sirens and gnashing teeth, another cop car sped by in the fast lane. Could it really be? Could it? Would the other biker be pulled over as well? Wrestling depression to the ground, shoving my foot in her mouth, thereby removing her grip on my neck, I craned it in order to look beyond the next car. The cop certainly appeared to be aiming for relieved biker no.2. And then, he was pulled over. Merry Christmas. Santa had arrived early this year.

It didn't matter if I didn't own a motorcycle or a tattoo. At least I wasn't being pulled over by cops. No matter how many tattoos you have, you still look stupid being pulled over by a cop.

I am ok now. Plus, it's almost friday.