Friday, December 28, 2007

Maybe you were watching Comedy Central on Christmas day, maybe you weren't because you aren't a loser. But if you are not a loser and you weren't watching Comedy Central on the weekend, then you missed Demetri Martin make a very profound point. It was about how we keep asking people in glass houses to refrain from throwing stones at others. Demetri Martin wanted people to quit throwing stones, period. Society's disapproval of stone throwing should be independent of the stone thrower's housing situation, was Demetri Martin's opinion. Unless, added Demetri Martin as a caveat, someone were to be trapped in a glass house. And this someone had a stone handy. In such a situation, Demetri Martin was prepared to concede that stone-throwing would be something to be encouraged. But not otherwise.

Demetri Martin had these words of wisdom and more. You should check your television schedule for when Demetri Martin is on next.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

50 most loathsome people in America, the life is funnier (and sadder) than fiction edition (via PZ). You are on it too.

Charges: You believe in freedom of speech, until someone says something that offends you. You suddenly give a damn about border integrity, because the automated voice system at your pharmacy asked you to press 9 for Spanish. You cling to every scrap of bullshit you can find to support your ludicrous belief system, and reject all empirical evidence to the contrary. You know the difference between patriotism and nationalism -- it's nationalism when foreigners do it. You hate anyone who seems smarter than you. You care more about zygotes than actual people. You love to blame people for their misfortunes, even if it means screwing yourself over. You still think Republicans favor limited government. Your knowledge of politics and government are dwarfed by your concern for Britney Spears' children. You think buying Chinese goods stimulates our economy. You think you're going to get universal health care. You tolerate the phrase "enhanced interrogation techniques." You think the government is actually trying to improve education. You think watching CNN makes you smarter. You think two parties is enough. You can't spell. You think $9 trillion in debt is manageable. You believe in an afterlife for the sole reason that you don't want to die. You think lowering taxes raises revenue. You think the economy's doing well. You're an idiot.

Exhibit A: You couldn't get enough Anna Nicole Smith coverage.

Sentence: A gradual decline into abject poverty as you continue to vote against your own self-interest. Death by an easily treated disorder that your health insurance doesn't cover. You deserve it, chump.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Wrong house, Santa

Considering the vastness of India's juvenile population, it would appear to be a statistical improbability for Santa Claus to manage to drop presents into an Indian house that is guaranteed not to have any children living there, but manage it he did. From MSNBC, who is apparently stalking the old philanthropist on Christmas Eve:

Dec. 24: Agra, India — With no flat rooftop to land on at the Taj Mahal, Santa was seen tonight lowering himself down into the palace via a red rope while his reindeer hovered in formation. “You wouldn’t think a man with such a big jelly belly could be so agile,” said a Taj Mahal security guard, “but this just shows that when it comes to delivering Christmas presents Santa will do whatever it takes. I wonder if he practices yoga.

Apparently someone forgot to tell Santa that the Taj Mahal, ever since its inauguration, has served no purpose other than that of being a tomb. I guess it also follows to reason that somewhere within the cavernous interior of the Taj Mahal lies a huge pile of unclaimed Christmas presents delivered through the years by an ill-informed, albeit well-intentioned Westerner whose reliance on Hollywood disaster flicks for his knowledge of world culture has been a tad bit too heavy.

I am also fairly confident that in the next few hours, Santa Claus will be observed trying to lower himself (and his presents) onto the Eiffel Tower of France, the Sydney Opera House of Australia, the Tower of England, The Great Wall of China and other worldly landmarks that are familiar to MSNBC subscribers but sadly, equally devoid of children as the Taj Mahal.

But enough of Santa-bashing. Have a great holiday, people.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Another one bites the dust

John Harvard's at Wayne, gone. Consigned to the unwashed glasses of history. All that I am left with now is Iron Hill and McKenzie's.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

RPM's Leverett

Once upon a time, I was still studying in UMass and I was sitting in the passenger's seat of my friend's car while we were driving along MA state highway 63 north towards New Hampshire. See, Massachusetts doesn't sell beer on sundays and if you live in Massachusetts and you run out of beer on a sad sunday, you have to drive north to New Hampshire where they sell beer on sundays just to piss Massachusetts off. Middle finger. So basically, we had run out of beer on a sunday and that is what we were doing and the guy who was sitting in the back seat of the car said, "Hello my name is RPM". Actually he didn't really say that, it's how I am introducing him. I called him RPM. He was the first guy I came in contact with after I landed here in the US.

When I was in India and I found out that UMass would be paying for my graduate education, I rummaged through the tubes of the internet and found my man RPM in the UMass directory. Immediately I emailed him and told him that I was arriving in UMass this fall and would it be alright if I stayed with him until I found a permanent home for the next two years. He said what, who, where, what, who the heck are you? I replied that I was an alumnus of his engineering college in Pune and that I used to be in his batch and the reason he didn't know me was because I hadn't attended college all that much, instead preferring to spend most of my time in the college auditorium practicing with my band.

But RPM was ultimately fine with it because of the code of the Indians which specifies that a fresh off the boat (FOB) Desi graduate student may take up temporary residence with a pre-existing Indian graduate student with or without his approval and so RPM said yes, and that he would pick me up at the Amherst train station when I arrived after determining if Amherst had a train station. For some reason, no one in Amherst, MA is aware of the fact that Amherst, MA has a train station.

RPM took me under his wing. For the first few days, until I found my own apartment, I stayed with RPM and he taught me a number of important things. For example, why it is a bad idea to run after the little striped creatures called "skunks" that wander around Puffton Village like it is their dad's goods. When I asked him why, RPM invited me to his closet and the moment he opened the door, I collapsed and died and when I woke up, he told me that one of those striped creatures had sprayed its scent all over one of his pants and the reason I had died was that this skunk spray was funky and when I say funky, I mean Jesus Christ, foul foul odour. Foul.The moral of the story was do not run behind skunks, people, they will fuck you up for good and even bathing once a week won't get rid of that evil stench.

So anyways, back to RPM. He did not have a vacancy in his apartment because he was already staying with a firang (a white roommate whose guitar RPM pretended to be a master of) and since they did not possess a television set, he hooked me up with someone in his apartment complex who had a television set, thus allowing himself access to it. Smart move RPM. Okay, now why RPM? RPM was a pornographic movie connoisseur. Every friday and saturday night, the moment the clock struck 10:59, RPM was knocking at our door, ready to enjoy late night cinemax.

Thus the name, RPM : "R", the "P"ondy "M"an. This man RPM, he was on a first name basis with all the leading ladies of late night cinemax. Make-up and clothing did not fool his astute sensibilities. Hey, this babe, she was in that one movie that played that night, wow, she really looks old in this one. Oh, I know this one, this is the movie where she keeps weeping every time she has sex because even though she enjoys it, she feels guilty because she is doing it for money and that's a great example of the clash in our culture between morality and fiscal responsibility. Man, I hate this one, I'm off. On second thoughts, I'll stay. RPM always stayed.

So that, in a nutshell, was RPM. The guy in the back seat during the drive to New Hampshire. He was reading the road signs and then he read this one aloud, "Leverett Center". "You know, I went to Leverett once and it was the prettiest town I have ever been to in the US", said RPM. And he sighed in order to support his statement. A prolonged, emotional sigh. And I was impressed by his sigh and I said "Really?" and I decided then and there that I would visit Leverett someday soon.

That day would not arrive soon. I left Amherst to make my own life. I went to New Hampshire, where I could buy beer on a sunday, and lived there for a couple of years. After that, I went to Pennsylvania where I earned enough money to be able to afford to buy beer all week so I would never run out of beer on a sunday.

But my dream of visiting Leverett remained what it was, just a dream. Till last year when I revisited Amherst on a whim. What the hell, just to see how it was doing. I visited all the usual places, the Montague Book Mill, the Amherst Brewing Company, Mt Sugarloaf. And then I decided, once and for all, to check out the fabulous town of Leverett which RPM had so enthusiastically endorsed. I took Leverett Ctr Road 1 and followed it to the end. Unfortunately, I did not find a town. I discovered a couple of houses by the side of a lake. Maybe it was a town, maybe it wasn't. What the fuck, RPM? I write this entire humongous post based on you and you make up a town that does not exist? Were you talking about Montague? Because I've been there and it is a very pretty town, yes. But was that the one you were talking about? Was it?

RPM, by the way, is now a very accomplished person who will probably win a Nobel prize very soon as long as he stays off the porn. In fact, even as we speak, he is employed at the very company that is allowing you to read the shit that I type unless you're a Mac user, in which case you owe another friend of mine called GSB. But that story isn't quite as interesting.


Google stopped paying me. I don't know how that happened. Suddenly all my ads are public service ads for a hurricane and I don't get squat. I guess that's fine because I have yet to collect the money I earned till now. To collect it, I would have to give Google my SSN and it would go on my tax records and I don't know if I can earn such funds without the IRS pinching my buttocks and the USCIS inserting pointy things inside it. So I never gave Google my SSN and so Google has about 90 dollars worth of my money which it will give me when I become a permanent resident of this country which will probably be my son and not me. But anyways, so click on the hurricane thing even though you know you won't be paying me. It is for a good cause and I might be caught in a hurricane too so I shall click on it as well.

Friday, December 07, 2007


You get all excited about moving to a new house and while you are in the throes of that excitement, you tell all your colleagues about the move. And then what happens? You begin to receive moving boxes from everybody and their uncle. Everyone's like, hey, Amazon sent me these books, they came in this box, should I throw this box in a dumpster, nah it's too cold outside, oh I know what I'll do, I'll just give it to that Indian guy who's moving, that will probably make him so happy he'll need another box just to hold his tears of gratitude. Here, I have a box for that too.

It doesn't seem to matter that sometimes, the box they are giving you is so small that the only thing it could be used for is the transportation of your toothbrush, and that too, only after stripping it of its gum-massaging bristles.

But still, people continue to visit you in your cubicle day in and day out and when they leave, there is an additional box in your cubicle. Or two. This ritual begins from the time you tell them about your impending move and continues right upto the time of the actual move, a period that could be as long as a couple of months. In the meantime, your cubicle turns into an office supply warehouse and you have to look for bigger boxes to help you move these boxes to your home.

Now there is the possibility that it is just goodness of nature that makes people bestow upon each other a plethora of unsolicited moving boxes. Because, obviously, cardboard boxes are not something you can find in just any moving supplies store that sells cardboard boxes. But to my jaded and cynical mind, when a person gives me a box, I feel like he is telling me, dear gawker, the box that I am giving you at this moment, a moment so far removed from the actual moment of your move, does not merely represent my benevolence towards you, but also the fact that when you will be lifting it up, I won't be around to give you the box then or assist you in the lifting of the same.

Nah, I guess I'm just being a prick. It's probably just goodness of heart. Thank you for all the boxes. Really.


Looking through my sitemeter today, I was struck by how many people appear to be interested in sexual congress between a human and a car stick shift. Unfortunately they land up here because at some point I happened to pen a screed about the stick shift of my car and its disadvantages in the event of a traffic jam, also using some invective to spice up the narrative. Although to be honest, I am not really that surprised. When I bought my car seven years ago, one of my friends was extraordinarily drawn to its stick shift. In fact, I remember him saying to me, "Boy, your stick shift sure is sexy". And although he didn't explicitly say it, I could see in his eyes that he was just itching to ask it out on a date. To this day my front seat is off limits to him.

I guess it's also a good thing that I have yet to reference the exhaust pipe of my car on this blog.

Secondly, I have also observed that many people, while googling, allow their emotions to seep through into the search phrase, thereby reducing the efficacy of their search. For example, a visitor to this blog reached here via the Google search phrase "Oh God, capitalization!". Now sir, wouldn't it make your task easier if you just held your frustrations in check for that brief period of time it takes you to enter "capitalization", or maybe even "capitalization sucks" into Google's search field? After that, you could curse and rant as much as you wish. Just a humble suggestion.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Fall is over and done with. Most people like the peak fall season when the leaves are all red, yellow and orange. I like late fall when most leaves have fallen and ball-freeze has begun. Somehow leaves look better on the ground. Plus, during this time, the sun is mostly invisible, it is misty, rainy and the rural Pennsylvanian countryside looks like something out of a Sherlock Holmes movie with the big dog.

We had a minor ice-storm the other day. I had to go change the tires on my car. I don't believe the car people when they tell me it's time to change my tires. I always feel like they are trying to fool me. That's because tire-changing time is so vague. Theoretically, any time could be tire changing time, or rather, tire-non-changing time, because the tire never runs out of rubber. Of course, there exists some rule of thumb, involving the insertion of a coin inside your tire treads and checking to see if Lincoln's face can be seen or some such nonsense. I don't follow that protocol because I think using Lincoln's face as a car maintenance tool is disrespectful to his head on the mountain. Instead, I change my tires when my car begins to hydroplane on a dry road, which I call aeroplaning because I am so clever.

So I drove to the car dealership, deposited the car and walked back home. I realized then that I have totally forgotten how to cross a road as a pedestrian (someone who walks, in case you live in America and have forgotten what it means). I kept looking in the wrong direction, kept hitting the wrong traffic buttons and the wrong vehicles kept stopping for me which wasn't even me, it was the wrong person. Finally, someone in a Honda took pity on me and waited for me, allowing me to cross the road. He probably thought that I was walking in the ice because I was a homeless person without a car and because he was a Honda owner, he had probably been a homeless person too at some point in his life, and I felt guilty that I was taking undeserved advantage of his kindness because I did actually own a car. I had a similar feeling of guilt the other day during my eye doctor's appointment when I went there to get fitted for contact lenses. The doctor was all like "Oh, you are so smart, usually people take a long time to learn how to wear and remove contacts" and I was all like yeah, thanks, but what I didn't mention to her was that I already knew how to wear contacts because years ago, I used to wear contacts. I felt like I was a bad person and I am pretty sure that Santa's gonna be shoving charred monkey corpses down my chimney this year.

But the reason I went to buy new tires is because they had a tire sale (4 tires for the price of 3) and it was the final day of the sale. Since I am an avid environmentalist, I like to conserve money just like I conserve electricity and I try not to burn it. So even though it was snowing jagged little pellets of ice, I went to change my tires, even though I knew I would have to walk back and forth from the store. When I went back to retrieve my car, I received a bill for more than 4 tires. Now I don't like to be rude to the car guys because that would probably result in someone spitting in my radiator, so I didn't gape in an amazed way at the bill in front of them. Instead, I walked out into the snow and spent the next five minutes gaping amazedly at my bill there. And through all the snow and ice, I saw something called "road hazard warranty" that had been tacked on to the bill, which was equal to the cost of one tire and a higher end Russian bride.

So then I went back inside and asked them what the hell this "road hazard warranty" business was and they replied in a nonchalant manner, Oh that, yes, if you want that 4 for 3 tires deal you also have to purchase this warranty. And so I took my notebook out and added another star to the galaxy of times that I have been conned. Seriously, I am so easy to fool that if you came up to me, walked up to me right this very minute and put a finger on my chest, telling me I have a spot on my shirt, I guarantee you that I would immediately look below and then you could smack me on my chin and steal my wallet. Yes, I am that stupid.


I hate those goddamn Patriots so fucking much. More than I hate the Giants. And, to my shock, even more than the Cowboys. In fact, when the Cowboys and the Patriots meet in the Superbowl, I will be rooting for TO and Romo. It makes me ashamed to admit it, but that is the truth.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Lazy post

It turns out that Christmas trees will be more expensive this year because of rising gas prices. I decided to comment on this news in cartoon form by drawing a Christmas tree with another Christmas tree lying under it instead of a gift-wrapped present. This would satirically depict the wish of cash-strapped Americans to receive a Christmas tree as a holiday present.

Sadly, I turned out to be too lazy and I did not create such a cartoon. So since I know you have a vivid imagination, please try and visualize the existence of such a picture attached to this post.


But I'm still keeping an eye on you Sudan.

Friday, November 30, 2007


In support of the British teacher who has been arrested (and might be sentenced to death) in the Sudan for letting her students name their teddy bear "Mohammed", both my blogs will be named Mohammed. And just so that there are no misunderstandings, they will be named after the prophet Mohammed and not the pakoda vendor.

I'm also drinking a cup of Mohammed as I type on my Mohammed, temporarily disregarding the compiler error : "error C2065: 'Mohammed' : undeclared identifier" in my code.

So basically what I'm saying is, fuck you, Sudan.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Funnies of the day

Funny number one :

While driving around with a couple of colleagues, one of them spots a newly installed traffic signal at an intersection which is temporarily disabled and merely flashing yellow.

Colleague 1 : "It's only flashing yellow now, but soon it will flash all three colors."
Colleague 2, feigning amazement : "Really, you think so? You're so bright your father calls you son."

That was nice. I hadn't heard that one before. Bright like the so(u)n.

Funny number two : The Times of India, in a news article about the unfortunate British teacher who was arrested for allowing her little students to name their teddy bears "Mohammed", inserts the following journalistic masterpiece :

On Thursday, four days after her arrest, photographs of her round, pudding-like face continued to be plastered across the British press, alongside anguished reports of her plight “locked in a cell in a police station…her toilet is a hole in the ground, her window a small, barred opening high in the wall.

(via Patrix)

Lest you mistake what just happened for something else, a reporter for one of the leading Indian daily newspapers just called someone pudding-faced in an article.

That is all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

This saddens me

Apparently this is the level of education required to understand this blog.

cash advance

Cash Advance Loans

I guess it means that all this time while I was laughing at my own jokes, I wasn't really getting them. Someone please tell me what I missed.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Home. This is it.

Woods, streams, deer, tigers, a noticeable absence of maximum security prison facilities, it's all there. This is home.

By popular demand, here's the full frontal.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Thank you for all the comments asking me to write. And thank you for continuing to check my feed. It made me feel guilty that I haven't reciprocated your feelings by checking my sitemeter in return. But there is a very good reason for that. Now that we have applied for adjustment of status and have a fairly good chance of staying on in this country for a longish period of time, we decided to finally put down some roots in this community. Maybe even extend a branch here and a shoot there. Sprout a couple of leaves. Perhaps develop some kind of pitcher-like contraption designed to attract insects, which would then fall into an enzyme pool at the bottom, get digested and assimilated into our fibrous stems. Those pitcher plants are fucking awesome.

Anyways what I am saying is this. We are buying a home. And we've been looking at homes for the past month or so. It is a hard business, but totally worth it. I've been in this country for over ten years now and I still do not have a place here that I can call home and which will, in turn, call me homeowner. For the past ten years, we've been following education and employment wherever they would take us. One Christmas I remember being asked by a colleague what I would be doing for the holidays and I replied, "I'm going home". He looked confused. And then I had to explain that when I said home, I did not mean the apartment I was living in at the time but back home to India.

But this exchange led me to wonder if there was something wrong with my mentality of apartmented homelessness. I went to another colleague, a British guy who's been here for about ten years now and asked him, "Brian, if you were to use the word "home", would you be referring to Philadelphia or England?" He replied "What?". It turns out he wasn't British after all. But if he had been British, I am sure he would have replied "England".

So we've been looking at a number of potential dwellings. We have not had a lot of luck so far. The problem might be that we are far too specific in our requirements. For example, my primary requirement is that the home be multiple-storied and have a back patio or deck facing woods that are densely populated with a variety of animals such as deer, bears, tigers and dolphins. There do not appear to be many homes in this area that pass this test so I will probably have to be satisfied with a back patio facing a tree clearly visible through binoculars.

My wife, on the other hand, has her own requirements. She wants her home to be spacious and well-lighted. As we go through the process of home-buying, we are adding other requirements as we come across them. For example, there's this radon gas that appears to make its home in American basements and causes lung cancer. We have decided to buy a home that is not full of this radon gas that causes lung cancer. It was a tough call but we made it. Then, the other day, it appeared that we had found our perfect home. It had a huge wooden deck facing a meadow full of trees with a stream flowing through it. The home was newly refurbished with a huge basement without any radon and it had hardwood floors in every room. It was the perfect home. In fact, it was all I could do to keep from writing a check then and there and the only thing stopping me was the fact that I did not have a check book with me, or a pen, or any money in my bank account, also there wasn't really a table in the house that I could use to support the checkbook while I signed my name.

So we decided to return the next day with a checkbook and a pen and a table. And then, on a whim, I decided to go to my trusty friend Google Earth (as well as Microsoft Live Maps who is still just an acquaintance, but is fast climbing the buddyship ladder) and survey the countryside that surrounded the home. Nice, it looked beautiful and green and leafy and beyond the green there were fields and beyond the fields there was a pretty little nine-sided structure that looked like a castle. I made a note to myself to go visit this castle after we moved in.

And then I zoomed into the castle and the castle turned into a number of squat fortified buildings surrounded by barbed wire with guard towers at all its nine corners and I had the curious feeling that I was parachuting into the Graterford Correctional Facility. For that is what it was. A maximum security prison, a place that is apparently home to the cream of Pennsylvania's criminal community, the best of the worst. Bye bye perfect home. I hope you get a good owner and I hope he buys a gun and I hope he keeps it loaded.

So that, I guess, was that. This weekend we will go see some more houses. Hopefully we shall find one and call it home.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Very nice recipe

Here in the US we have a cute custom prevalent among grocery store products of an edible nature. Every such product features, on its packaging, a recipe in which that product can be used. This makes a lot of sense in case of foodstuffs such as canned tomatoes or sausages or mushrooms because I am sure there are a number of people who buy these things when they are still unsure of what to do with them. I am one of those people. Once I bought something called polenta and it was only when I read the recipe on the back of the polenta that I realized that I would rather be dead in a ditch than eat polenta. They even have recipes on the back of a box of biscuits where they let you know about various ways of eating biscuits without having to endure all that biscuity taste, for example, crushing them and stuffing the powder inside a thanksgiving turkey and so on and so forth.

Less sense is made, however, in other cases. For example, pepper. Do we really need a box of pepper to tell us what to do with that pepper? Or bread? I envy the person whose job it is to come up with recipes involving bread. Now that is a profession I would gladly adopt even if it were not to include any medical benefits or restroom breaks.

But then the other day I was reading the back of a packet of artificial sweetener and howdy ho, what do I see but a recipe. Okay, let me check out what I can do with this packet of sweetener, I said to myself, temporarily discarding my plan to empty it into my mug of coffee. Here is what the recipe advised me to do :


1 cup strongly brewed tea
1 cup warm milk
3 packets sweetener

Mix all three ingredients together and pour into a mug.

So there you have it, folks. That is how you make tea. Go on now, dazzle your in-laws.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Can you spot the glaring fallacy in this CNN article?

(via CNN)

Friday, September 28, 2007

An account

Here is the account of last weekend's biking trip down the Schuylkill Trail as seen from zambezi's eyes. It was pretty much the same as seen from my eyes, except our eyes were on different bicycles and his were behind Govinda shades which he had mistakenly purchased thinking they were biking goggles whereas mine were behind spectacles worn by normal people who are not Govinda.

So it happened that after an entire summer of lethargy, apple-picking and meadow-strolling, zambezi finally managed to get convinced to go biking with me. Actually, to be fair, he was the one who approached me because his wife was out of town and he wanted to deal with the loss through physical exertion. As expected, he got lost on the way from New Jersey to Pennsylvania and would have made his way to Pittsburgh if I hadn't called him up and asked him to get off the next exit on the turnpike. I was not sure if zambezi would last through the bike ride so I administered a dose of creatine to him before we started.

He did good. We did good. The weather was mild and cloudy and it had just rained before we started. We made it to Manayunk in just under an hour where we had a couple of beers at the Manayunk Brewery on the bank of the Schuylkill. And then we continued on to the Museum of Art. Because the Independence Brew Pub has closed down, to partake of our celebratory brews, we had to do a west to east traversal of the entire Center City of Philadelphia in order to reach the Triumph Brewing Company on the Delaware River side. I ordered the fish and chips which they served in a conical contraption like the one in which they serve bhelpuri on Chowpatty beach. Zambezi ordered the chicken but unfortunately it was one that had been stunted from birth. Don't order the chicken if you are there. And if you do, ask them to bring it out to you before they cook it so you can give it a complete medical checkup. I had the scotch ale after a long time, one of my favorite beers with 7% ABV.

After the food and the beer, we biked back to Market East station where we caught the train to Norristown. Zambezi stretched out on the seat and fell fast asleep. During the ride, I checked his breathing once or twice just to make sure. Back in Manayunk, zambezi had commented to me that he didn't feel fatigued at all and in most countries, that would be an acceptable testament to his awesome physical shape. And I repeat what I told him then, that it is the final two or three miles that are the hardest, when the only thing that keeps you from admitting your leg muscles into the emergency room is sheer willpower and an overwhelming fear of being ridiculed on your friend's blog.

All in all, a commendable feat (33 miles) by a first time biker such as zambezi. Since then, zambezi has been calling me up once every two days and insisting that I compile a celebratory post about our outing and his accomplishment, making his case by declaring that if he had failed in the endeavor, I would probably have started typing even before we reached home. Which is probably true but only because of our warped media culture which tends to revel more in the story of an athlete's downfall rather than his glory.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


The question isn't why Diet Coke came up with Diet Coke Plus which contains vitamins and minerals, but why it took Coke or anyone else such a long time to come up with this idea. I say put vitamins in everything, why not? They already have this thing called vitamin water for people who were reluctant to drink water and needed an incentive other than the certain onset of acute dehydration and cessation of all bodily functions. So my question is, why is everything else in life still vitamin-free?

How about vitamin fries? Vitamin-infused McDonald's double cheeseburger value meals? If you are going to eat and drink crap anyways, wouldn't you eat and drink more crap if you knew that there was at least some crap in all that crap that wasn't as crappy as the rest of it? Put more vitamins in crap and people will buy more of your crap. Which part of "selling more crap" do you big corporations not understand?

It's not like vitamins are expensive. I have a bottle of One-a-Day which costs 25 bucks and contains 200 tablets. Grind half a tablet in a food processor, mix it in your product and you will be vitaminizing it with 50% required daily intake for just 6 cents. I just don't see what is wrong with this business model, people.

But that's just the beginning. I want vitamins to be in everything I ever come in contact with in my life. That's the only way I can be sure I'm living a healthy vitaminelicious life. I like the idea of vitamin-infused soap. I would buy it. Who wouldn't want to live in a world where getting soap in your eyes is actually healthy for you? Nothing could be more logical. And also vitamin-infused underwear for the Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohans of this world. No mother, I have a premiere to attend and I don't want to wear my undergarments. Wear them sweetheart, then you won't need to put soap in your eyes today.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hello sports

Dear Phillies
Quit bothering my left ventricle. I am okay now. Congratulations for the 5-0. I assume a 0-5 will follow soon.

Dear Eagles
Please bother my left ventricle. And my right auricle. And my left hand. And my right leg. We are all asleep. Wake us the fuck up. Wake the fuck up. What the fuck is wrong with you. I will come beat you with my fan rhetoric. 0-3 and I am throwing my Eagles cap (II) down Pennsylvania's Niagara Falls. (Bushkill. Not something you should be proud of.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Independence Brew Pub

Good Bye Independence Brew Pub. It was nice to have known you.

It used to be there right next to the Market East Station in Philadelphia, a convenient venue that gave every visitor to Philadelphia a last-minute opportunity to dull the pain of their impending return back to the suburbs through a pint of fine microbrew. For me, it used to be the high point and the culmination of my weekly excursion on the Schuylkill Trail.

It was a religious pilgrimage. Bike the 21 miles from Valley Forge to the Museum of Art, continue on to Philadelphia Center City, look for its tiny entrance off Market Street, secure the bike to a parking meter, tell the woman who'd just approached you for directions that you didn't know where Filbert Street was, a moment later realize that this was Filbert street, feel ashamed for letting a fellow human down, go on in, wash the salt formations off the face and finally settle down to a glass of beer. Yes, it was a wonderful ritual.

Apparently the owner of the brewpub was kicked out for not paying his rent. I'm not totally surprised though. If I owned all that beer, I would also probably go through life unaware of what day it was or the month or the year. And the fact that he was evicted while he was in the middle of a beer only serves to support my theory.

Anyways, word on the street is that some other brewery will be taking over the lease so all might not be lost. It will be interesting to see who it is.

Monday, September 10, 2007


So I called up zambezi on saturday to see what he was up to. He picked up the phone and muttered in what was a conspiratorial whisper, "My window's open".

"What?", I said. "I can't hear you."

Again, he whispered, "My window's open, man".

"Oh okay", I said. "What does that mean?"

"I'll call you up later", he whispered.

I began to wonder if he had discovered an intruder in his house and whether I should call 911.

After a couple of minutes, my phone rang. It was zambezi.

"So is your window closed now?", I inquired, in a suitably concerned voice.

"What are you talking about?" he replied.

"What were you saying earlier about your window being open?"

"No man, I said I'm at the US Open. I couldn't talk", he replied.

Enlightenment dawned upon me.

"Oh okay, Are you at the game?", I asked him.

"No, I'm at the US Open", he said.

"Yes, yes, I said, are you at the game?", I asked testily.

"No man, I'm not at the gym, I'm at the US Open", he said, still with remarkable patience, considering the fact that I was interrupting him at the game.

"Okay, listen, I will call you up later tonight once I get out of here", he finally said.

"Alright. Have a good work-out", I said and hung up before he could respond.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Manager's euphemism of the day

"Cook in one's own juices" : The culinary process involved in the creation of a piece of software designed as if for his own use by a developer, thereby rendering it completely useless to the client it was actually intended for.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

WTF moment of the day

One of those "Am I drunk or is she drunk" moments.

Miss Teen USA - South Carolina replying to the question, "Why are many Americans bad at reading maps".

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cutting chin

Hello razor blade manufacturer attempting to sell me your product on television,

If you are a man or a group of men, which I kind of doubt, you should know that we, men, are already quite apprehensive about applying sharp metal objects to our chins during the removal of facial hair. To take a particular case, namely mine, this is due to a constant awareness of the presence of my jugular vein somewhere in the vicinity of my neck. My lack of knowledge of its exact whereabouts doesn't help in dispelling the fear that I might somehow cause its destruction while shaving.

So keeping this in mind, I would like to tender some advice to you regarding your television spot. Your attempts to convince me to apply your particular brand of sharp metal to my skin would go a longer way if you were not to illustrate the sharpness of that very same metal by demonstrating the remarkable ease with which it slices through tin cans, bibles and a variety of assorted vegetables, the raw consumption of which would leave one with sore gums.

Since I am merely covered in skin and hair, I would not wish my razor to possess the ability to slice through metal and cardboard. Furthermore, I would even go so far as to suggest that I would like my razor to be as docile an organism as possible. In the event of a showdown between my razor and my skin, I would like my razor to back down. Instead, I would like to see my skin slice through my razor. I would want my razor to break in half and my skin to climb atop its prostrate body and bellow victoriously to the high heavens. That razor, show me that razor. I will buy that razor.

Look, men don't really care if hair gets trimmed during shaving or not. For us, the joy of shaving lies in the act of shaving itself. It is a ritual more symbolic than substantial, with very little utility value, kind of like sticking pins into an enemy doll or washing your hands after taking a whiz.

So anyways, quit wasting your time making sharper razors. Just give me what you already have.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I am back from Vegas. This was my third trip there. We had lots of fun and frolic. Luckily we didn't have time to slot a lot of machines and that is why you are hearing the sounds of casino owners weeping. Another is outsourcing the gambling to Bangalore. I didn't win anything this time around. During our last trip we lost a lot of money and when we were waiting at the airport to catch our flight back, my wife decided to go for a final attempt at the airport slot machines. She won 330 dollars. They had to give the machine first aid. By the way, I discovered that they don't allow you to insert quarters inside slot machines nowadays. I guess slot machines developed some self-respect.

During this trip, we didn't spend a lot of time in the casinos. Instead, we visited the Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks. We rented a Chrysler 300 car which should have been better than my Volkswagen Jetta but wasn't. The speed limit in Nevada is 75 mph. It made me happy and I shed a tear for my own state's ubiquitous 55. But the highlight of our trip was our final night spent in Caesar's Palace. Something happened somewhere in somebody's brain and instead of an ordinary room, we were given a suite. It consisted of :
a.> 1 living room
b.> 2 bedrooms
c.> 4 bathrooms
d.> jacuzzi with massage jets
e.> 5 flat screen HD television sets.
f.> 3 different views of the Strip.
g.> Complimentary bag of cashews.

Okay I was exaggerating, I had to pay for the cashews. But everything else is true.

I think the reason behind this benevolence was the intense sentimentalization of the guy at the reception desk due to the fact that we were both from Pennsylvania. And luckily, when he said he was from Pittsburgh, I did not say oh, I thought you said you were from Pennsylvania ha ha. Also, when he said are you Indian, my mentor is Indian, I did not say really, what a coincidence, my mentor is American. Due to all these non-sayings of mine, we received the suite, thus proving once and for all, that if ever I feel like saying anything, it should be best left unsaid.

The Grand Canyon was quite windy. I offered her my Philadelphia Eagles cap and she accepted it with dignity and ferocity. The bus driver was probably a Republican because he kept taking pot shots at Hillary Clinton from the airport to the park. I gave him a gratuity of 5 dollars regardless. What better way to shame a Republican than to subject him to charity?

Zion National Park is amazing. We had to pass through three different time zones to get to it and we lost count. My watch kept showing different times as I passed from Nevada, through Arizona and into Utah. Finally, when we returned to Vegas, we realized that we had returned an hour earlier than planned. Inside, the park is breathtaking. You are surrounded by all these huge mountains which were formed as a result of erosion by the Virgin River, thus proving that even nature will tolerate all kinds of shit from a virgin. The majesty of the canyon monoliths makes you feel humble. You realize that no matter how great you think you are and how much you earn in US dollars, your body could never be sculpted into those massive peaks by a river. The weather in Zion reminded me of my Pune. Hot without being humid and you could feel all your bodily fluids slowly making their way into the atmosphere.

As a final note, hello Atlantic City NJ, you should quit trying to be like Vegas. It only makes you look foolish.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Off to Vegas

For a week. Or maybe not. Who the hell knows.

Friday, August 10, 2007


My friend zambezi does not like people calling him "dude". I am okay with that. I am also okay with people using the word "dude". My own nemesis is the word "dear". I don't like people using "dear" with all and sundry. Especially if those people happen to be male and are addressing other male people. For example, when a male friend emails you beginning with the line "How are you, dear", somehow you feel violated in a very intimate way.

I am okay with dude. At least when someone calls me a dude, I can pretend I am wearing a cowboy hat and riding a bull that is trying to throw me off and later that night I'm gonna have the same bull for dinner and then who's gonna try and throw off whom? But on the other hand if someone calls me a dear, I have a mental image of me simpering coyly and what makes it worse is that I still have on that same cowboy hat and I'm still riding the same bull but now I am also wearing a pink frock and oversized sunglasses with a color gradient going from brown to transparent and sipping on an appletini or some kind of cocktail with a miniature umbrella in it.

It's a very disturbing image so dude, quit calling me "dear".

Thursday, August 09, 2007


During my last visit to India, I purchased a miniature fake sitar souvenir in Bangalore for one of my office colleagues. I did this because whenever the topic of India comes up during our conversations, this colleague has a habit of raising his arms as if he were holding an imaginary sitar and uttering the phrase "tingalingaling". If you feel that the novelty value of this behavior would likely wear off after just a couple of performances, you haven't seen him impersonate 1.> an Indian flying carpet cab driver, 2.> a snake charmer having HR problems, or 3.> a snake charmer playing the sitar on a flying carpet.

So anyways, today my colleague informed me that he was pleased to report that yesterday his two year old daughter took her first baby steps towards becoming a sitar virtuoso by learning how to play the fake sitar souvenir. I guess Anoushka Shankar will be having some stiff foreign-born competition soon.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Regularity and the I-485

I need to keep blogging regularly. I feel that I am losing touch with the English language. I keep forgetting all these words that I use in my daily interaction with people and it is very frustrating. Lately, my conversations have been fraught with long pauses during which I try to remember the exact word I need to use on that occasion because I am such a perfectionist. Also because if I meant to say "user interface specifications", but actually said "Adolf Hitler" instead, it might remove a few rungs from my corporate ladder. But I think it's getting better with time because nowadays when people see me walking down the corridor in their general direction, they bring out Vikram Seth's "A Suitable Boy" to read during the forthcoming conversation. And that is fine with me. This way, America gets reacquainted with the printed word and I don't feel guilty for wasting a large chunk of her youth.

Some time ago there was this news article which said that regular blogging reduces the possibility of getting some disease. I wish I could remember what that disease was. Parkinson's, I think. Or was it Alzheimer's? I just went and google-checked and it turned out to be Alzheimer's. I think it is somewhat ironic that I forgot which disease can be prevented by blogging and that disease turned out to be Alzheimer's.

I finally sent out my I-485 application yesterday. It puts me in line for an American green card. It has been a long and frustrating journey which commenced in May this year when the US Senate decided to table this piece of legislation that they called the "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill" just because the name "Turd Milkshake" was already taken. This bill intended to replace the current employment-based green card system with one that would be based upon merit. As you can imagine, merit-based systems are not very useful for people like me who are largely lacking in that department. Therefore, the period from May to June was a time of fearful apprehension and constant Senate-activity monitoring.

And then, just when all seemed to be lost, Republicans in the Senate rose to the occasion and defeated this bill. Twice. Man, I never thought I would say this, but Thank You, GOP, XOXOXOXO. But the respite was only temporary. The USCIS then piled on by coaxing all wanna-be immigrants into a state of quivering tumescence by making immigrant visa dates current for July and then applying danda to aforementioned KLs by rescinding the visa bulletin on July 2nd and disallowing anyone from filing for the final stage of the green card process.

This, of course, as history has documented, led to the Gandhigiri protests and the USCIS rescinding its previous rescindment and allowing everyone and their uncle to file for the final stage of the green card process, the highly-anticipated I-485.

In the meantime, immigration forums went wild. Clueless people began to ask other even more clueless people for help with complex I-485 filing details. "Birth certificate not have, family astrologer handwritten note will do?" "Medical certificate doctor asked to undress and touched in private portion, anyone else this happen to?" "Previously arrested for selling tobacco to minors, will this affect application or cause cancer?" "Filled out native script version of wife's name on her application, will USCIS find out it was me?" Correct answers turned out to be no, yes why God why, yes and are you fucking kidding me in that order.

And then there were those paranoid souls who dispatched their applications to the USCIS and then, for the next few days, sat in their darkened bedrooms surrounded by piles of their own hair, jumping at sudden sounds and wondering if their packages reached safely. "Who signed for your package at the USCIS Service Center? R. Williams? Mine was signed by C. Waterbury. Did I send it to the right place? Damn you, C. Waterbury!" How the fuck does it matter who signed for your goddamned package? Do you even know Senor Williams, I typed on my keyboard, pressed enter and watched my profile get flagged with a "rude commenter" tag.

I am not ashamed to say that I was an intrinsic part of this cowering fear-ridden pack until yesterday. But now that my package is well on its way to the USCIS, sitting inside a Fedex delivery truck the last time I checked, I feel as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulder. Although I still wonder if I signed all my checks. Or if my 6 photographs will be acceptable. And that there are no distracting shadows on my face. And that the white background against which my face rests is milky enough to satisfy even the most hardcore dairy-connoisseur on the USCIS payroll.

Also, I hope Mr. R. Williams signs for my package. He appears to be more trustworthy than this C. Waterbury fellow, at least within the immigrant community.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I don't know if someone has already been through what I am about to narrate, or if someone has already pretended to have been through what I am about to narrate, just because what I am about to narrate is such an obvious thing to have happened and if it hasn't yet happened to anyone, I would be extremely surprised, but I will still narrate it regardless. So I was sitting on a bench in Madame Tussaud's wax museum in New York resting my back on which the weight of the world rests. And I saw this woman walk up to me and she stood there subjecting me to intense scrutiny for a while and then got startled out of her wits when I looked up at her and she said, "Wow, you had me fooled there".

If this story had not actually happened to me, I would have made it up anyways so basically, I don't know if other people have already made it up and recited it to other people, thus reducing the humor content of it, but in this case, it actually did happen to me so in my opinion, keeping that in mind, I feel that this episode certainly merits a few chuckles from you.

Thank you in advance.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Don't be surprised

I don't understand the people in all these commercials who still get surprised when they encounter an inanimate object equipped with the ability to speak. It's like, here is this guy, supposedly living in the twenty first century and yet, when his bedroom heater speaks to him in a sensual feminine voice (turns out that bedroom heaters are female), asking him to use her more often, he is like, "hey girl, how come you can speak", and "but you're a heater, heaters can't speak", and then, continuing in the same vein, "but you don't have a biological larynx like me, how is it that you can speak", until you feel like telling him, hey buddy, are you ever gonna let her get to her sales pitch? Are you? For God's sakes man, keep up with the times. Everybody knows that in the world of commercials, heaters and bedroom furniture and coffee mugs and even parts of your own body (except your mouth, which could already speak), have long since developed the capacity for intelligent conversation and impeccable social etiquette.

So act like a goddamned professional. Don't keep wasting the first two minutes of every commercial acting all amazed and requesting elaborate explanations from the kitchen faucet on the hows and whys of his ability to sermonize. Instead, get out more often. Watch more commercials. Do your homework on your own time and quit wasting ours with your unpreparedness when the rest of us just want to know what it is that the faucet has on his mind.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Thank you, Munnabhai

Thank you, Munnabhai. I take back every nasty thing I've said till now about Bollywood.

Also, thank you Mohandas. I think this thing definitively proved your continued relevance in today's world.

Finally, thank you lawyers and your class action lawsuits. I wish I could find a suitable way to repay you. What's that you say? Oh ok, cash it is then. Although personally, I would have gone with gratitude.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Beating people up

One reason I began to work out in the gym is because people took undue advantage of my frail physique and kept beating me up. For example, I had an acquaintance in high school who had a habit of picking on me for one reason or another. One day it would be for criticizing the peculiar walk of his lady friend, the next day it would be because he didn't like the peculiarity of my walk after being beaten up the previous day. It was always something with this guy.

When you are thin and weak as I was and your body is devoid of any substantial muscular tissue, your only recourse is to defend yourself using your wit. I did just that. Those days, the hot new craze in school was to slap the air with a wet handkerchief akin to cracking a whip. The point of this exercise was to derive pleasure from the loud sound it produced. Usually this slapping was not directed towards a human being because early on in the game, someone had come to realize through excruciating personal experience that in addition to the high decibels, this slap also produced a severe welt if applied to the human body.

So anyways, after having been beaten up by this acquaintance for a couple of days in a row, I decided to exact vengeance. I said to him, "I bet if I were to slap you with this wet handkerchief, you would cry like a newborn, notwithstanding the formidable bulge in your biceps". Now because this guy had an ego the size of Mt Kilimanjaro back when it was still covered in glaciers, and also an irresistible urge to disagree with everything I said, replied, "Ha, you think so? Here, take a crack at me, and I'll prove you wrong."

The ensuing moments were quite possibly the most exciting and enjoyable of my entire life. I lovingly bathed a handkerchief in ice cold tap water, positioned myself for the assault and then proceeded to inflict wave upon wave of violence on his forearm, the likes of which would have made Hannibal proud.

I whipped him. I whipped him good. The air was thick with loud cracking noises and flying skin. After the initial maniacal desire for retribution within me had subsided, I then relaxed enough to enjoy the experience and even took the opportunity to hone my handkerchief whipping technique on him. In order to prevent my subject from quitting midway, I kept speaking to him in a soothing manner, saying things like, "I see blood on your arm, are you sure it's not hurting?" And this only made him more determined to withstand the pain and he stiffened his lips some more and allowed me to keep going at him. Finally, I had to stop due to sheer physical exhaustion but by that time, I had inflicted enough mayhem on his arm to last me a lifetime.

Later on in life, I made some more violent friends, for example, zambezi, who, every time I met him, would always beat the crap out of me, although in a friendly manner. It was his way of expressing joy at the meeting. And even though with zambezi it was easier to ward off violence by threatening to do bad things to his face (he is someone who takes inordinate pride in the beauty of the contents of his face), I was still relatively vulnerable to assault. And as time went by, my brain eventually began to weary of this constant responsibility of defending the rest of my body from attack and pleaded with it to do something about it. Therefore, at some point, I began to work out and have been periodically doing so ever since.

Now my body is stronger and better equipped to launch a credible defense against bullies. But now I have a different problem and I don't know if this is a common one, but whenever I go out looking for trouble, I realize that if and when trouble arrives, my muscles will be so tired from today's workout or aching from the previous day's workout that there is no way they will rise up to the occasion. Thereby, defeating the very purpose of working out. Some days I can barely summon enough strength to lift even a mere grocery bag. This leads me to ask the question, how is it that those well-toned people you see kicking all that ass on-screen manage to do it?

My solution to this is the following. I have modified my schedule to work out on alternate days, lets say monday, wednesday and friday, leaving tuesday and thursday free to engage in street combat. I realize that the reduction of gym time will probably retard my muscular growth, but what use are muscles if they never get a chance to engage in battle?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


I was tagged here a few years ago, or so it seems after the green card fracas / fiasco / fuckfest. I will therefore present 8 random facts about myself.

0.> I cannot cook Indian food at all. I have no idea how to put those flavors into a curry. I have tried and failed miserably. Every time I cook anything, I get the distinct impression that the ingredients of my dish are unhappy about being used in my creation.

1.> If I am walking on a tiled pavement, I deliberately avoid stepping on the boundary between two consecutive tiles. If an uneven gait in the manner of a three-legged dog with an alcohol problem is required for the achievement of this objective, I have no qualms about doing so, amused onlooking be damned.

2.> There has been one time in my life when I was literally terrified for my life to such a degree that my brain was called upon to choose between two different forms of death, based on the relative terror caused by each. It happened while I was walking with a couple of friends in the Tadoba Tiger Reserve in India on the banks of the Tadoba lake. To our left were a bunch of Bison a hundred feet away in the jungle. To our right was the lake with a number of loitering crocodiles in the water (A sign on the lake proudly stated "Swimming is prohibited, survivors will be prosecuted"). We were standing and staring at the bison and every passing second of nothingness that followed was augmenting the nervous tension in the air and that was a good time for one of the bison to snort loudly and lunge towards us. That was when all hell broke loose and as my mind went blank and my youthful life flashed before my eyes, I actually remember thinking that I was going to die in the next few minutes. And then we were all running mindlessly towards the lake where the crocodiles lay and the few seconds that separated us from the crocodiles allowed my mind to estimate the amount of pain that would be caused by a raging bison as compared to that caused by a crocodile and I chose the latter. And so I continued running towards the lake. And just before I plunged into the water, I allowed myself the luxury of looking back to see how many seconds I had before I turned into mortal remains and I saw that the fucker had not moved from his previous position. Then I saw his neighbor say to him, "Bless you" and he replied, "Why, thank you kind sir", and the courteous exchange of pleasantries between the two bovines made me realize that the entire episode had been a mere sneeze.

3.> I am an extravagant tipper. I calculate the tip by dividing the bill by 4 and adding a dollar. I use this tip-calculation formula even if I receive exceptionally bad service or if the waiter throws a glass of water in my face after spitting into it. That's because I know how it is to be a college student living in the US on a meagre allowance and sometimes, you really need to spit into a glass and throw it at somebody's face.

4.> I love trains and railway tracks. If I see an abandoned railway line, I feel an urge to follow the tracks on foot just to see where they lead. Sometimes I pretend I am an engine and whistle at people. I possess the extraordinary ability to whistle continuously for long periods of time without having to pause for breath. The key is to alternately breath in and out through the whistle.

5.>The most fun thing I ever did in my life was during my engineering days when the entire mechanical department took an "educational" trip down to South India. During the train ride from Pune to Bangalore, me and a friend, we dressed up as beggars (torn banians and lungis), with myself as the musically (dis)inclined one and he as the blind one wearing black sunglasses. We roamed the entire length of the train at night, with me banging on an Indian drum I just happened to have with me and singing in a high octave as is the custom for Indian Railways alms-gatherers, requesting cash donations from our fellow passengers. We even managed to fool one of our professors into coughing up money. Some amount of blunt-fingered coat-tail scratching was required, fortunately, all of which was handled by the blind guy.

6.> I am a night person. There was a period of two months during the graduate winter of 1999 when I did not see the sun at all. I love how the night air smells. Sometimes I stand on my balcony at night, just sniffing the air for long periods of time. People accuse me of being deranged for doing this.

7.> I have not purchased a single new item of underclothing in the past five years. I am bewildered by the ability of the male undergarment manufacturing industry to stay financially solvent in spite of customers like me. I attribute this to most of them now having switched from male undergarments to feminine intimatewear as their main line of business (For example, Hanes, who now has television commercials showing women wearing their product with the tag line "look who we got our Hanes on now", where "who", stands for women.)

Apparently I have to tag 8 other people. I don't know is there anyone left who has not yet been tagged by this meme? Ok then, you're it. Go, have fun typing. Also, it appears to be incumbent upon me to add the following rules to this post.

Here are the rules:
1. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
2. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
3. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


This guy, he will turn 60 next month. I called him up 11:30 PM my time. I needed my birth certificate for filing my I-485. I was worried because I believed that I had lost my birth certificate at birth. I was wondering if, by any chance, he had a copy.

I don't have it here with me in Bangalore, he said, where he currently lives with my mom, helping to take care of my baby nephew while my sister tries to make the world a better and more utilitarian place for cellphone users. But I am sure there's a copy lying around somewhere back in the old homestead in Pune, he said.

I see, I replied, do you know someone who would be willing to break into the old homestead, steal the damn thing and mail it to me? Do any of our neighbors back in Pune have a history of criminal behavior?

We don't need any criminals, son, said the old man, I will go get your birth certificate for you, when do you need it?

I have a month to file the I-485, I said. Anything within that time frame would be fine.

By the way, Pune is about 12 hours from Bangalore by road, I think. It could be more, depending upon how many farmers decide to thresh their crops by leaving them on the highway and waiting for vehicles to run them over.

You will have it within the next couple of weeks, said the old man. Don't worry. Do you want me to send you some money along with the birth certificate?

Dad, I don't need money, I am working now and have been working for the past seven years.

(By the way, thanks for sending me the 1500 dollars five years ago when I was laid off, they saved my life.)

Are you sure?

Yes, I was sure. This time.

Fast forward 18 hours. I got a call from my dad.

"Do you want the birth certificate, school leaving certificate, nationality certificate or domicile certificate or all of the above? I have them all in front of me."

What? How? Where are you?

I caught the next bus to Pune, said the old man. Do you want me to mail them to you, scan and email them to you or both? Wait, don't bother, I will do both.

Now bear in mind, it is 4:30 AM dad time and dad has just stepped off the Bangalore-Pune bus. At 4:30 AM dad time, dad is on the phone, describing to me the scannability of various 20 and 30 year old documents, based upon their relative raggedness.

Fast forward one hour. I have my birth certificate in my inbox. And it's not even been a day since the last hair was torn off my scalp in a fit of birth-certificateless frenzy.

When I am 60, I hope to have at least half the energy and vitality as does my dad.

Also dad, I love you. You are the man.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Still Friday photo-blogging

Montague Book Mill

I was just foraging in my camera and I found this picture of the Montague Book Mill that I had snapped during my last visit to New England. I don't know man, I have a strong urge to go back there tomorrow, 6 hour drive through New York City be damned.

Don't go

Don't go anywhere. I am still here. I will be back. Life has been unfunny lately. Hopefully it will get better soon. Yesterday morning on the road I saw a long-haired guy sitting in a Mini-cooper, driving with one hand and lifting a dumbbell with the other. So as you can see, things are looking up. On the other hand, America is getting ready to kick out its Indian software engineers. So the scales of funny continue to rise and fall depending on whether you are watching long-haired guys exercising their biceps in a Mini-cooper or reading about comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

My friend slime is getting married in India. It's his second wedding. Luckily, to the same woman. He had one here in the US and now he will have one in India. He has decided to go against Indian orthodoxy and refused to wear a turban or ride on a horse during the wedding. Or brandish a sword like I did. He will, however, still have to smile all day when he is being photographed with you so there's still that. I wish him all the best.

We are thinking of going on a long drive for the next few days on the long weekend. Drive to where there are trees and grasses and lakes or similar other bodies of water. I forgot mountains. Mountains too. Maryland? New Hampshire? New York? I don't know. Maybe all. Maybe none. What about a tent? I'll have to buy one. Even though I already own a tent. It is lying at the bottom of the Delaware river. I bought it long ago when I was still in grad school and we decided to go camping in the Adirondacks. We all chipped in to buy a tent except I had not realized that the concept of chipping meant that I would be paying for it in full now and everyone would pay me later. Which they never did. So essentially, I bought a tent. I never used it after that. I never even had it in my possession. My friend S remained the custodian of my tent, loaning it out to everybody's uncle and every once in a while he would call me up and give me periodic briefings on its health and whereabouts. I am glad to say that my tent has seen more of the world than I have. One day he called me up and started telling me this tale about his voyage up the Delaware river on a canoe with his office friends. And how it became dark and his canoe began to fill with water and how they all had to carry their belongings through the river to the shore. And then I felt a tightness in my stomach and I anticipated his next words which were, "I am sorry but your tent didn't make it". And I said no way, it was made of waterproof material, how could it drown, and he said, well, skin is waterproof too and yet we dare not walk on water and then I resigned myself to its demise. Look at it this way : I now own a part of the Delaware river.

So anyways, I have to go buy a new tent and I will go have a vacation and I will be back. So don't go anywhere.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Here, pull

In the gym. Wife had just left the room to get a drink of water or admire the wallpaper in the ladies room or something of that nature. Strange old guy doing biceps next to me asked, "Is that your wife or girlfriend?"

"Wife", I replied.

"She's pretty".

"Thanks", I said, although I don't know why I thanked him, the correct response would have been to say wokay, I will go tell her you find her pretty and she may come thank you if she feels complimented.

"Does she wear glasses?", asked the admirer.

My wife was wearing contacts that day so I was impressed. Wow, I thought to myself, how did the fucker figure it out? Did he spot spectacle marks on her nose from this far? He must have awesome eyesight for a man his age. Or maybe it is that we glasses-wearers have a peculiar way of looking at things? Do we squint unintentionally? Are our eyes extra-large? Do our tired retinas give off some kind of bio-luminescence only visible to old people? Impressive.

"Why, yes, how did you figure that out man?", I asked, reverence dripping from my words.

"Well, she married you, didn't she?"

"You didn't see that coming?", asked strange guy number 2 on exercycle. "Thank you for the entertainment".

PS : By the way, I don't know if this was apparent enough because it wasn't to me at the time but what the old guy was saying was that the only possible reason behind my wife marrying me must be her bad eyesight, hence his guess. Also, the sky is blue and water is wet.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Please bear

Please bear with me as I sort out some changes happening in my life that continue to pose an obstacle to its unfettered contemplation and subsequent documenting.

Also, I decided to learn a new musical instrument and settled on a flute. When I went to buy one, it turned out that a Western flute costs about seven hundred dollars and looks like the cockpit of an Airbus A320. So instead of buying a new flute, I rented one on a trial basis. The fact that no matter how hard I blow into it, no matter from which direction, I still am not able to produce any sound is weighing on my nerves. And it doesn't help that the rental agreement says, "Thank you for giving your child the musical advantage", thereby implying that the activity of flute learning usually does not lie within an adult's domain.

So please bear with me.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Cutting down

On the occasion of Earth Day which was celebrated some time in the past few weeks I don't exactly recall when, I decided to be less of a parasite on the earth and its fragile planetary ecosystem. Towards that end, I decided to consume less non-biodegradable stuff. For starters, I am cutting back on plastic usage. The very first item on the agenda whose usage I decided to cut back on was plastic forks and spoons. Why I use plastic forks and spoons in the first place is a fair question. It is because in my household, we only run the dishwasher once a week. This was done to curtail the consumption of manual labor, also a non-biodegradable and non-renewable resource.

But as a result, every week, we used to find ourselves facing a severe shortage of silverware. That brought about the need for an alternative, namely, plasticware. But not any more. There was a moment in my life yesterday when I looked at the plastic spoon in my hand and bending down on one knee, said to it, "You are the one I will be spending the rest of my life with". And then I kissed it deliciously because it was covered in gravy, with the kitchen faucet presiding over our holy union, shedding tap water of joy. There comes a time in every man's life when he gets tired of eating around with every piece of cutlery he takes a fancy to and for me, this time was that time.

So now this spoon will remain on my person at all times and I have decided that I will use it repeatedly for every culinary assignment or emergency. Why plastic, why not a metal spoon? Again, a fair question. This is because most delicately structured external human organs are built to withstand puncturous pokings from plastic but not from metal. And since plastic requires a thousand years to degrade (a nice round number, thank you Mr Inventor), every plastic spoon I do not discard into the trash from now on will add a thousand more years to the life of my earth. And if you take into account all the times I eat pickles out of a jar with a spoon when I have little else to do, that is some solid anti-aging cream for the planet.

As far as I can see, the only major obstacle to my plan is Chinese take-out food. I am deeply fond of my Chinese brothers and sisters and I am a devoted disciple of St. MSG but sadly, I have to admit that I have found them to be quite indiscriminate in their use of plastic cutlery which they ruthlessly force upon all their clientèle along with the duck sauce which doesn't taste anything like duck. So every time I order Chinese food for take-out, I have to remember to check the package for any plasticware and give it back. Because if I specifically ask them not to add it to the package while ordering, they show an inordinate amount of surprise at my request for me to repeat it without feeling stupid.

Secondly, I have also begun to do volunteer work at the neighbourhood recycling bin and garbage dump. Sometimes when I am going through people's unshredded documents in the recycled paper container, I find that someone has mixed plastic cans along with the paper, yes I said plastic cans, can't you people fucking read, it clearly says "Paper Only" on the cover. Nevertheless, I do my part and remove these cans and restore them to the correct recycling bin. But I know who you are pal, I have your bank statement right here. Two more strikes and you will be getting yourself a new credit card with 0 % APR for the first six months, 14 % after that, and you will NOT have read the fine print.

Just take a few seconds and read what it says on the goddamn container, won't you?

The Onion

Even though I no longer follow an abbreviated online existence, ROTFLMFAO.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

At the Party

At The Party

If you don't see the comic strip, here's the link.

Link to Toondoo via Arunn at NonoScience.

If you didn't find it even the least bit funny, make sure you read the blurbs top to bottom. If that still didn't work, read again while tickling your underarms. Or get someone else to tickle you. Or read it while watching Seinfeld. Come on, surely there must be something that makes you giggle? Read this while doing that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I kicked off biking season on saturday with the Schuylkill Trail. The day was bright and sunny and mild. I was a bit apprehensive of starting out the season with a 30 mile trail but I threw caution to the wind and the wind threw it back at me. But it turned out that it wasn't that bad really. At least the first 25 miles to Center City.

At Conshohocken, which is about halfway along the trail, I stumbled across a newly constructed branch of the Cross-County Trail. I asked a guy with a bike standing in front of a sign saying "Cross County Trail to Plymouth Meeting - 3 miles" the question, "Do you know where this trail goes to and how far"? To be fair to me, I hadn't seen the sign when I asked him, but let's not be fair to me. To be fair to him, he probably thought I was an idiot and let's not be fair to him either. So we jawed back and forth about the trail, speculating on its length and if it was beautiful in a strictly platonic way till we both realized that if information had been paint, our faces would have been covered with the stuff due to all the signpost drippings. And then we laughed heartily in the manner of people glad to be in the presence of someone stupider than themselves.

Someday I should do the Cross County Trail. But not today. On to Philly. Philly was nice and bright and sunny and very crowded. A book fair was happening downtown. The book lover in me wanted to jump into the crowd and browse some french fries in a food stand I could vaguely see through all that mess. But the beer lover in me wanted to get to the Independence Brew Pub, my destination for the day.

Independence Brew Pub next to the Market East Station. They have a great oatmeal stout. One might say what is the point of biking all this way, burning up all these calories and then replenishing those same calories through beer? But if one were to ask such a question, one would be an idiot.

So after drinking a couple of beers and dining on fish and chips, I took the train back to Norristown, which is on the trail about five miles from the trail head. An Indian couple sat in the seat opposite to me. I wish I had more to say about the couple but I don't. They were just a normal couple. My bike fell on them twice.

The final five miles from Norristown to Valley Forge were excruciating. To demonstrate just how excruciating, just say the word excruciating and stretch the "cru" part for about a minute. Usually I love to push my body to the limit and usually it doesn't fight back but that day it did. The final mile was agony. But all good things have to end and finally, I was left with a raw behind and screaming legs. Not a bad season-opener, all in all.

Next week it'll either be the Conewago Trail, deep in the PA Christian belt or the D&R Trail, deep in the badlands of Princeton, New Jersey.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Boring. Spent most of the hour and fifteen minutes checking the time. Are we there yet, are we there yet? I'll be honest, I don't get the hype. I didn't see any clever political commentary. All I saw was a guy deliberately acting like a jerk to ordinary people. In fact, the movie was so bad that I had more respect for Sacha Baron Cohen before I actually knew what he did for a living.

Secondly, he spends most of the movie trying to play the fool for us. But wasn't the movie all about wink wink, look how I'm gonna get these people, you know who I am but these people don't? Then what was with the nude wrestling scene when there were no "other people" around? Was it for us? But we already know he isn't actually Borat. Who was it for, then? The moment the nude wrestling began, I knew it would probably end up in a public place with gratuitous goofery. Forward. On to the next scene. Only to be disappointed again.

The only humorous scene in the movie was when Bob Barr is informed that the cheese he just consumed was a product of Borat's maternal teat. For the minimalistic reaction. It wasn't very obvious, but it was there.

Are we supposed to feel shock over the fraternity boys incident? Oh please. Break into the mind of any teenaged boy anywhere in the world and you'll find an oversexed hyper-hormonic sexist beast.

Most of the movie Sacha Baron Cohen just plain grates on the nerves. Okay, we get it, falling over things and breaking them is funny. People arguing in a foreign language you don't understand is funny. Wrestling nude with a fat fuck is funny. But only if you weren't expecting "clever political commentary" or "social satire". It is funny only if you were expecting to be fed lowbrow slapstick off-the-shelf pre-packaged swill of the likes of, say, a Martin Lawrence or the Wayans clan.

Also, most of the movie involves trapping people into saying or doing things they might usually not have said or done. For example, the Chevy dealer who wanted to sell Borat a vehicle that could run over Gypsies. Or the gun dealer who showed Borat a gun for shooting Jews. Does it make the Chevy dealer anti-Gypsy or the gun dealer anti-semitic? More likely, they were just humoring the poor hapless shit-for-brains foreigner who looked clueless enough to warrant some extra patience. Or maybe they just wanted to sell guns and Hummers. Don't they say that the customer is always right? Even if he is a bigoted asshole? Was there any kind of point made through all this? I don't think so. In fact, more than anything else, this movie speaks volumes about Americans' superhuman patience and ability to tolerate a lot of asinine bullshit from someone who is clearly a registered fuckwit.

However, the biggest reason for hating this movie is because of the way it bullies the underdogs. The Kazakhs. A nation without a representative voice. Imagine if Borat were to have impersonated, say, an Indian and if he had performed the same antics. Would the Indian community in the US have taken it lying down? Hell no. Imagine the uproar it would have caused in the blogosphere, in Congress, in India. Which is why his choice of being a Kazakh looks more like a coward's way out. It is best to incur the wrath of a community no one has heard about and no one is friends with.

In conclusion, Borat didn't work for me. At all. And on an intellectual level, it was on par with reality teevee footage of people eating a writhing mass of worms. Yes, it is that bad.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Herd Instinct

Two women walking side by side. Not friends, mind you, nor acquaintances, no whispering, no laughing, just two women walking silently next to each other. Walking from the parking lot to the train station. The train had already arrived at the platform on the other side.

The women were slow, lethargic, they were positively crawling. The train was already there and I began to worry. Come on ladies, I said to myself, if you want to make that train, you've got to giddy up. Run ladies, run like the wind, no, run faster than the wind because to tell you the truth, the wind wasn't making very good time that day.

But they didn't. They continued on with their leisurely pace. Still side by side, step for step. Moss grew on their backs. Birds mated on their shoulders. Turtles won the 100 meter dash in direct competition and were felicitated by the rabbit judge. My heart ached in anticipation of the departure of the train. Until.

Until one of the women made a sharp left onto the platform on this side. She had no use for that train. She was here for a different train that would travel in a different direction from a different platform.

It was then that someone applied a horsewhip to the other woman. It could have been a regular whip but it sounded the same. Look at her go. High heels clicking like sewing machines, she clacked down the stairway that crossed over to the other platform, her hair trying to keep up with her purse.

See, this woman, she had been following her herd instinct. As long as she believed that the other woman was going to board the same train and knew what she was doing, she was willing to follow her at the same pace. If there had been a cliff nearby and the other woman had jumped off it, she would have jumped in after her, saying to herself that this was probably a newer shorter route to the platform that she hadn't known about.

We trust the decision-making abilities of perfect strangers for no other reason than we trust other people to make better decisions than we do. We know we are stupid. Surely other people know better than us. We would follow other people to the ends of the earth till other people turn to us and ask us, hey, do you know where this road goes?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Morbid monday

For those of you who were not able to discern the connection between an Indian driving license and the fatness of a wallet, an Indian driving license, unlike an American one, is a pamphlet of sorts, containing as many pages as, say, the Bible, without all those sections on sodomy and bestiality. Or, to be fair to the Christians, as thick as the Bhagvad Gita with sodomy and bestiality thrown in. Or the Koran with ... I forgot what I was going to say.

Speaking of Christianity, there are a few drawbacks to not being a follower of this religion in this country. For example, if you've asked your boss for a day off on Good Friday and work piles up through the week leading up to Friday and your boss wishes she hadn't given you the day off, the fact that you are not a Christian works against you. Because when your boss calls you on thursday and says, you know what gawker, can you work tomorrow, she is able to do so, being armed with the knowledge that you definitely did not have any Crucifixion re-enactments scheduled for that day. And you, being a non-Christian, cannot provide any valid rationale for taking the day off despite the request.

And so, I postponed my Good Friday vacation to be consummated on Morbid Monday. That is, today. But when I woke up this morning, I knew it was not going to be a nice relaxing morbid day for me. First of all, when I looked outside, expecting to see grass and flowers and pregnant trees, I saw snow instead. Snow in April. As a rule I like solid precipitation but having snow in April is like going Bigfoot hunting and finding the Abominable Snowman instead. Sure the Snowman is nice and hairy and as terrifying but you were really in the mood for some Big Feet.

Ok, so snow it was. And not only was there snow, there were train cancellations and downed power lines. So the assignment of dropping Mrs Gawker off at the train station ultimately turned into a project to drive her to her workplace, an hour's drive one-way. Actually, the drive wasn't too bad. The Amish have maintained this part of the country really well, God bless their horse-drawn souls.

Anyways, I have decided to spend the day drinking home made car bombs. When I went to buy the ingredients, I decided to get this Irish whiskey one of my office colleagues had recommended me, saying it doesn't give you hangovers or drunk weeping fits. So I went to the liquor store and asked the guy, do you have tellamordor?

He looked at me like I was a hobbit.

Uh...I said, uncertainty creeping in... telemurder?

Do you mean Tullamore Dew, the clerk asked me with the gentleness one usually reserves for the mentally incapacitated.

Yes, that's it, I said. Give.

So anyways, now the power is back on and I checked my freezer and none of my ice cubes appear to have melted. It's probably because I made them from Deer Park spring water from Maine and Maine water is the best. It's got something to do with the deer urine.

And now, on with the car bombs.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Face Off

So me and the wife were standing on the 11th Street Subway Station in Philadelphia, waiting for the Market-Frankford Line to take us to to 2nd Street, where the angels lay in waiting with food and drink (the Spice Cafe and the Triumph Brewing Company ). I was standing as close to the yellow line as I could, looking out for the train, as close to the subway tracks as was possible, without being one with them.

The Market Frankford line is the second seediest subway line in Philadelphia, the first being the Broad Street Line, there being only two Subway lines in the Philadelphia subway system. So as we were standing there in broad daylight, the daylight being obscured by the roof over our heads, us being below ground, two black punks entered the station from the left wing of the stage.

There was happiness all around as these two punks entered, them being happy and cracking jokes and laughing and all. And as we stood there, waiting for our transportation to appear, they started a-rappin', rap-a-tap-a-tappin', gettin' down wit' it dawg, crackin' out those rhymes with the world a-watchin'.

And I was watching and enjoying the rapping and they were going "wit an empty pocket" as the chorus to their rap song, and they were laughing and rapping and I was enjoying with them and then they called out, hey you, with the empty pocket.

And the station contained only four people out of which I was the only one with the empty pocket, but it couldn't be me because my pocket was full of my wallet and it was a big huge wallet and it was so big that it was showing through my pants and it couldn't possibly be an empty pocket, but wait a minute, maybe those punks were being satirical and making fun of my full pocket by calling it an empty pocket.

So the black punk called out, yes, you there with the empty pocket, do you have change for a 100 dollars?

I had 20 dollars in my full pocket but that was not the point, so I looked at the punk, and it seemed like he was, in fact, looking at me, and although I still had not come to terms with the fact that I had a satirically empty pocket, I knew he was talking to me.

Hey man, do you have change for a fifty dollars?

Ok, I get it, I have a fat wallet, but trust me, it is mostly full of health insurance cards and stamps and Indian driving licenses and no, I do not have change for fifty dollars, that wallet-fatness, that is but an illusion, and I wish I could have slipped an arm over his shoulder and walked with him to a park bench to explain that to him but he was with punk accompaniment and I was with wife so I had very little recourse.

And because he was black and I was brown and I was with wife and with very little humanity on the station, I pretended that he was speaking to someone else on the other platform, on the other side of the tracks, directly collinear with me. I smiled at him because he was not speaking to me. He was speaking to the guy on the other platform collinear with me.

Mrs Gawker said to me, let us go stand with the rest of the civilized world to our left. The civilized world consisted of a woman speaking on a cellphone. But I was defiant. I had worked out in the fucking gym for the past three months and in the absence of a pistol-shaped bulge in those pants, I was going to defend my turf. No, I said, If we move, they win. And fuck it, I do not have an empty pocket or a full pocket.

I kept my ground. With my empty / fat wallet. And soon, the punks quit making fun of my pocket and moved on. And there was a lesson there for all you punks. Do not mess with a married Indian. He will beat your ass. He will beat your ass with his Indian driving license if need be. Do not mess with him. And please forgive his massive wallet. It is an Indian thing. Where else can he keep his Indian driving license?

Friday, April 13, 2007


This is a public service announcement. Today is Friday the 13th.

I hope you got out of your bed today left foot first. Now go walk under a ladder while wearing your shirt inside out and throw a mirror at the black cat that crosses your path. If you cut yourself, spill salt on the wound. Don't be distracted by the moon shining over your left shoulder or the insomniac rooster who insists on crowing at night.

Thank you.

Also, just so I can finally get this out of the way, two saturdays ago, I went to Jim Thorpe with Mrs Gawker, Zambezi and Mrs Zambezi where we had wings and beer in an Irish bar. The wings were too hot for a South Indian and zambezi started sweating like a pig on a spit in summer with the air conditioning turned off. The concerned waitress asked him if he was having problems, if the wings were too spicy and he said yes, also assuring her that the considerable spice content of the wings would soon necessitate a sprint into the high hills for defecatory purposes. The waitress accepted his scatological confidences politely, in the proper spirit, with an ambivalent "ah".

And that was that.

Speaking of Jim Thorpe, here's a picture of the Switchback trail we "trekked" on, if you can call walking on a flat surface trekking. It's called the Five Mile Tree.


The interesting thing about this particular picture is that it used to be a place where railroad cars going in opposite directions used to pass each other. It looked like this.

Spitting on the car underneath was out of bounds for everyone except the very highest of high society. Also notice how there is virtually no forestation in the old picture as compared to the new one. Immigration of trees to the US began in earnest only after the rain forests of the world began to face persecution in the early 20th century for their wood, their land and their bark, oh that sweet sweet bark.

I guess that's all for now. I had something else to say but I don't remember what it was.