Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Not good

Not good, not good at all. The guy living next door to me, it turns out that he is in a band. And not only that, he likes to indulge in jamming sessions with his fellow band members in his basement. Sadly, they aren't one of those boy bands because a bunch of pretty men doing aerobics and lip syncing to a boom box, that wouldn't have been so bad, in fact, it would have been kinda relaxing for no particular reason. But these guys that I have here, man, they are the real deal. They have drums and they use guitars, one of which is the bass guitar. Anyone who has played a bass guitar in a confined space is probably aware that when a bass guitar is played in a confined space, it does not remain confined within that space but also leaks into and fills up the space adjacent to it. That space would be my space.

And so it went down sunday afternoon. It started out with a dull thud thudding. At first, I thought that my neighbor was banging on my wall to ask me to turn my television down because historically, that is what that thud thudding sound has usually meant wherever I have lived. So I turned down the volume on my tv. But the thudding got worse and it turned out to be drumming and not just drumming but actual arrhythmic drumming on a drum and I would know, being a pretty arrhythmic drummer myself. It was then that the bass guitar began its introductory riff and I don't remember the rest of what I was thinking because I couldn't hear my thoughts. I had a hushed conference with my wife. We were actually yelling, but it was hushed compared to the bass guitar. I asked my wife for confirmation. "Can you hear me think?", I asked her. She couldn't, so obviously it wasn't just me. Those fuckers were really very loud.

Thing is, the previous owners told me that my next door neighbor was a carpenter and if I ever had any issues with wood, of which I have a lot because let's just say, me and fucking wood, we have a lot of unresolved animosities to work out, to go ask him for help. No one said anything about heavy metal. Well maybe this would be a good time to request him to build me some wooden earmuffs. And a wooden hammer to hit myself on the head with when the bass guitar starts to riff. And a wooden plow would be nice too because I am planning to grow tomatoes in the spring. And someday maybe he could chop me up some wood for my fireplace. Ah a warm crackling fireplace. Just the thing you need to get drunk with when a bass guitar is wiping the floor with your brain.

But hopefully it's just a sunday thing and and maybe, with that arrhythmic drummer that they have, they won't be tasting any major commercial success anytime soon. Or maybe, on the other hand, I could join their band as a backup drummer and help them achieve stardom. I have a choice to make here.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Just so you don't panic this weekend, there will be no football on sunday. I repeat, if you turn on your television set on sunday and you do not see any football players playing football, please do not bang on the side of your tv because there is no football this sunday. There are trees outside and if you are in Miami or San Diego, avail yourself of this opportunity to sit underneath them and read books and such. If you are in the northeastern part of the US, drink.

Count to ten and if that doesn't help, count to twenty. Keep counting till you run out of numbers.

But bear in mind that there is no football this sunday.

This is a public service announcement. Brought to you by Barnes & Noble and Stolichnaya.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Making fun of women the right way

I have observed this in many men. If they wish to make fun of a woman they know by impersonating her, instinctively, the very first thing they do is pretend they have breasts by cupping their hands around their chest and strutting around with chest held high. Speaking as a man and also as a connoisseur of comedy, I've gotta ask this, come on man, is this the best you could come up with? Are we men suffering from such a severe bankruptcy of comical talent? Go ahead, make fun of the lady's mannerisms, gait, chewing habits, educational qualifications, choice of spouse, quality of offspring and if you are that adventurous, perhaps even her taste in clothes. But if the very first thing you do when called upon to caricaturize her in her absence is to try and match her physical appearance, well, that just makes it obvious to your audience that you've pretty much run out of ideas.

Not to mention the fact that there aren't many women that you see nowadays walking around cupping their breasts in their hands. Yes, ever since the brassiere was invented, the need for women to physically carry the burden of their own bosom has vanished entirely. I am guessing many men are not yet aware of that fact. Mama fell short in the education of her little boy.

I think the real problem here is breast envy. After all, thou wilst make fun of that which thou desires the most. Men still can't get over the fact that they have one of something which women don't while women have two of something that men don't. And this only covers everything neck down because neck up, that puts women another point ahead. And unlike a big screen television or a BMW, it is not something that can be acquired by simply shelling out money. And so, when it is the right time, breast envy comes out in full force. When men make fun of a woman by walking around with with an elevated chest, they are actually grabbing the opportunity to pretend to have breasts. Just like those men who wear women's clothes in secret. Or like in that one extreme case, the guy who liked to wear women's skins.

Oh yes, we are a conflicted, creepy gender. Best stay away from us.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I hate introducing myself to Americans. I have a weird name, quite normal by Indian standards but weird by American standards.

Let's say my name is Amit which it is not but let's just say it is. The problem arises when I am introducing myself to someone and I shake their hand and say, "I'm Amit". Ten times out of eleven, the other guy responds with "How you doing Amamit?" They think the "I'm" is a part of my name. How could it not be? The rest of my name is weird so what the hell, the I'm doesn't add much weirdness to it. It's got to be a part of my name. It's all Chinese to them anyways.

Does this happen to anyone else? It's become quite irritating. I have come to loathe having to introduce myself to people. I have to prepare myself before every introduction. I tell myself to quit prefacing my name with "I'm" but sometimes, if my guard is down, someone will quickly take advantage by walking up to me and holding out their hand and because I am not mentally prepared and concentrating more on having a good strong handshake, I forget about not adding "I'm" and then the other guy says, "Hey how you doing, Amamit", and I reply, "No goddamnit I'm Amit you fucking jackass" and then the other guy says, "How you doing goddamnitamamityoufuckingjackass. By the way, you have a weird name." and then I go home and apply something cold to my head.

I really love my refrigerator.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Now that I have a home, I am beginning to get a good understanding of how a home owner's life is different from, say, an apartment renter's. Most of it is good in that you have your own place which allows you to stomp around upstairs and the person downstairs will not yell at you. And for all the useless crap that you acquired but never had any use for and had to stuff below your bed for want of space, you now have a garage. You no longer have to rent out closet space from your wife. Instead, you can use the closet in the guest bedroom after filling out all the necessary paperwork. And also, now you are free to increase the volume on your television and stereo to a certain extent, that extent being more than the previous extent you could have raised it to, when you were living in an apartment.

But most importantly, each time you slide the rent check into the box, the thought that you might as well have sauted it with onions, stuffed it between two slices of bread and eaten it for lunch doesn't cross your mind anymore. So that's all good stuff. Good stuff.

But here comes the bad stuff. You go down to the basement, you know, just to check out your water heater and furnace and what not and you see all the plumbing and cables and all those pipes and levers and you think to yourself, oh heck, what do I care, I don't have to worry about all that nonsense, the apartment people will handle it for me if something goes wrong. But then you realize, what apartment people man, you're the apartment people, it's all yours now, so go on, touch it, don't be afraid. And then you touch it but you are, in fact, afraid and you don't really know what the heck you are touching and if it deserves to be touched like that and whether it even likes being touched. So you panic and pull your hand back and hope you didn't break anything and hope that nothing ever breaks or goes wrong with the water heater and the furnace and the water main and basically everything in the house that has a lever or a pipe or a switch attached to it. Yeah, you wish, buddy. That's like saying you hope your newborn's never gonna soil his diaper.

Then there's the lawn. I don't know what the mowable height for grass is. I guess if it transpires that one moment you're standing on your back patio watching the sunset and the next moment you're on the ground wrestling with a tiger because you didn't see him creeping up on you through the grass, that's when it is time to mow your lawn. That's my guess and I could be wrong.

A patch has miraculously appeared on my living room ceiling. I say miraculously because it kinda looks like David Letterman. I am not sure if it is really David Letterman communicating to me from beyond, commanding me to let people into my living room and worship his image for a small fee, but I think it is more likely that somewhere in this house, there is a leaky something. The mystery is that the patch doesn't appear to be wet. But nevertheless it is there and it happens to be right below my laundry room. So no more clean clothes for us. And no mother, it's not just an excuse to live like a slob.

It is currently the height of winter and it is so goddamn cold outside that apparently even the cold air from outside wants to come inside for the warmth. It is a wind so cunning that it has managed to discover the tiny gap between the window pane and the window. So in order to fix this, yesterday I planned and completed my first ever home-improvement project. I went to Home Depot and purchased caulk. This caulk stuff, where the "l" isn't silent contrary to what you might believe and which could possibly land you in trouble were you to tender a request for it unequipped with that knowledge, is a white paste you apply to something in order to seal it. I purchased the pull-off variety which, as the name suggests, allows you to pull it off once the need for sealage is over. I applied it to my windows and what do you know, no more cold draughts. I think I'm beginning to get the hang of this home owner business. Before you know it, I'll be pulling down dry-walls, installing breakfast bars with granite top counters and constructing in-home waterfalls, please do not feed the fish.

But before I do all that, let me first start out with all the easy stuff. Curtains, picture frames, everything that goes on a wall. Let me mow the lawn. Perhaps even clean and water-treat the deck. Paint this. Polish that.

And in the meantime, please join your hands in prayer for the continued well-being of my pipes, switches and levers. Thank you.

Friday, January 18, 2008


I hired movers to move. I have a bad back, no friends either able-bodied or disable-bodied and way too much furniture for someone living in a 2 bedroom apartment. The moving company says it will cost about 112 dollars an hour with a minimum of 4 hours for a 3 man crew. Alright, I says, and what is this flat travel rate business? Oh that, they say, we attach an additional flat hour's rate for travel time. Wokay, says I, come, move.

Now these three guys comprised of the following three guys : One large hardworking guy, one equally large guy but less hardworking who not only happened to be prone to gastro-intestinal attacks that resulted in him spending about an hour in my bathroom but was also in his free time, hopelessly addicted to cellphone use. So you would ask, wokay, but did the third guy not make up for the lack of performance of the second guy, come on, did he not? and I would reply, yes, maybe in a perfect world that would have been the case. Maybe in a world where more than half of America wouldn't have voted for George W. Bush, sure, why not. But not in this world. In this world, the third guy would be an old guy barely able to get up and walk about without assistance. Yes, that would be the third guy in this world.

So to recap, I am paying 112 bucks an hour for three guys where at any given point of time only one guy is working while the second guy is either resting in my restroom or speaking on the cellphone and the third guy is resting in the truck. My calculations had gone the following way : 112 * 4 hours + 112 for travel time = $560. And as much as it pained me to give anyone $560 of my money for using my restroom, it had to be done.

It turns out that we own a lot of crap. I mean, material possessions were appearing out of thin air. Closets turned out to contain blankets which were covering pillows which were hiding lamps sitting on top of suitcases containing rocks. Blankets, pillows and lamps were all stuffed into garbage bags and loaded in the truck. It took 3 hours just to load the truck. And then we were off to the new home.

It took the movers two hours to cover the distance a one-legged walrus with a pebble in his shoe would have covered in an hour at the most. I don't know, maybe they stopped for a burger, took a nap, caught a Broadway play, read Vikram Seth's "A Suitable Boy" cover to cover, who the hell knows. But I didn't really care because of the flat hourly travel rate.

So when they showed up at my home to unpack, I was of a mild temperament. I even helped them unpack. I laughed at their jokes and when the dresser fell on their feet. The air was full of positive energy. As a result, it took them only two hours to unload the truck. Okay, so it would be six hours of moving = 6 * 112 = 672. Well, nope. Turned out that the flat rate thing which I should have checked out more thoroughly, was just the flat rate for the travel of the empty truck and did not include the two fucking hours spent in traveling from the old apartment to the new home. So that added about 2 hours more to the moving time. Plus the tip. So in all, it cost us a thousand dollars, or what the kids like to call it nowadays, "a cool grand" to move. That got me to thinking, man, I really got to get me some more able-bodied friends.

So anyways, I still have to move some leftover crap. We'll move that this weekend. Bye Bye Exton, PA, you were a good host for the past three years. Especially you, you, you and you. And you. And although you did try to kill me numerous times through your ridiculously blazing hot Schezuan pepper-laced food, goddamn, I would have died with a smile on my tortured lips. Hopefully we will meet again on the battlefield sans any hard feelings. Only stomach ulcers.

Go Giants

That is all.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cigarette Smoke Filter

The other day I was watching the Jaguars Patriots divisional playoff game in a smoky little bar near my new home, called the Silver Ostrich Pub, color and phylum class changed to protect privacy. I was watching this very important game in a smoky little bar and not in my new home because I did not have a television connection in my new home yet. And although it is possible to view the game on the big screen television in my neighbour's house if I use binoculars, the view is partially obstructed by my neighbour waving at me through his window to quit watching him through binoculars and I am someone who likes a crystal clear picture for his football games.

So I was in this bar and it was a hell of a lot of smoky for such a tiny bar. And then a guy came and sat beside me and he began to add a generous contribution to the smokiness that had already existed before his arrival. His uninhaled smoke began to enter my nostrils, and I don't know if cigarette smoke has some brainstorming properties, but I suddenly had a brainstorm. I came up with a cool gadget that would filter cigarette smoke out of the air you breathe when you are in a smoky little bar sitting beside a chain smoker.

This gadget consists of a funnel with a strap-on which straps on to your nose. It is kind of large but not big enough to obscure your vision of the football game. The gadget is painted a bright red with large legible fluorescent yellow letters on it which say "cigarette smoke filter". There are also a skull and crossbones painted on it with flashing LEDs for the eyes of the skull.

Finally, we jump into the technical nitty gritty of the contraption. Now I don't want to overwhelm you with all the complex architectural and operational details, but let's just say it is empty. The way it works is this :

Step 1 : Cigarette smoke emanating from the smoker next to you enters the outer end of the funnel, pausing just enough to admire the flashing LEDs in the skull eye which were a nice touch by the inventor.

Step 2 : Cigarette smoke exits out of the inner end of the funnel unmolested (due to the emptiness inside the funnel) and into your nose, proceeding to your lungs where it deposits a large amount of carcinogens on your lung linings where they will remain till the day you die, assisting you therein.

Step 3 : Those flashing LEDs on that grotesque thing you have attached to your face capture the attention of the smoker sitting next to you who then reads the words on the funnel that say "cigarette smoke filter".

Step 4 : The smoker experiences multiple twinges of guilt and after experiencing one twinge too many, retires to a position in the bar that is not adjacent to someone with a grotesque funnel shaped thing attached to his face.

Step 5 : Air containing considerably less cigarette smoke by volume enters the funnel and proceeds to your lungs where it deposits less cancer than it would have if it weren't for the flashing LEDs and the humongous funnel shape.

So that was my invention. I am filing a patent for it and will soon be rich. If I were you and if you had lots of idle cash and knew something about stocks such as how the fuck do you buy stocks and what the fuck are stocks anyways, I would go out and buy my stock right now.

But thank God I am not you. You probably don't work out and smoke two packs a day.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Since I have been asked to furnish a story about the Liberty Bell, here it is.

We went to visit the Liberty Bell in his / her / its home in Old City Philadelphia. So as we were standing in front of it along with fifty other Liberty Bell admirers, one Taco Bell admirer who was kind of lost and one KFC admirer who was completely lost, I heard the guide say, "So here is the famous crack in the Liberty Bell which is", and he paused dramatically, "pretty hard to find". And the crowd around me roared in laughter. I also roared somewhat but after roaring for a couple of seconds, I stopped roaring and said to my wife, "I don't get the joke. The crack is really hard to find. In fact, to be honest, I can't see a single crack anywhere on the bell". Here is what the Liberty Bell looked like :


Then, after trying hard to find a crack on the Liberty Bell for some more time, I gave it up. I then probed the guide's comment for any hidden humorous connotations but all I could come up with were a number of connotations which, due to their vulgar implication, couldn't possibly be what he was referring to. So basically I gave up and then we left and went to do something else.

Now it appears that the Liberty Bell actually looked like this from the side opposite from where I was standing.


I get the joke now.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

And so I bought a house, or as they call it in the US, a condo.

On the day of the closing, there was a walk-through. We walked through the condo to check if everything was where we had left it. The taps were fine and so were the toilet flushes. Our realtor had asked us to check on the taps and toilet flushes because apparently previous owners of condos are known to sabotage taps and toilet flushes before abandoning their properties. The taps and flushes were fine, I checked them myself after using them. The carpet was also okay. One place on the carpet showcased a yellow stain but it was far to the north to be urine-based so I was not worried. Oxy-something would solve it and urine is better than semen anyways.

But I had more important fish to fry. I walked outside to the woods and the stream for which I would be paying most of my money. I spotted a tree hanging halfway down to the ground. The wood had only a few trees so naturally, I was concerned. The last time I was here, the tree had been proudly erect. Hey, what's with that tree, I asked the owner of the property. She replied that the tree had submitted to the last winter storm. I said okay, but I also warned her that she was treading on thin ice. Very thin ice in a warmish winter. No more halfway trees, warned I. Please rectify the situation. The owner went and tried to push the tree back up, up towards the sky, in an upright position. She tried her best and I appreciated her efforts.

But apart from that, everything else was fine. Maybe the tree would grow back up. Plus the owner had given me a lawnmower and a grill free of charge. Plus a lawn to mow with the lawnmower. Okay, I approved the walk-through.

It was on to the closing. The closing took place in a dark conference room. We were all there. Me, my wife, the seller, her husband, my realtor, their realtor, my realtor's husband, my mortgage agent, the title lady, the title lady's imaginary friend, it was about ten people and it didn't take me long to realize that I was paying all their salaries. And so I did, I gave them a check for half a hundred thousand dollars. It was weird because I did not know that I possessed half a hundred thousand dollars and I celebrated on that knowledge before grieving on the loss. The closing went well and I was the only person from whose pocket money was departing. Therefore I was the star. I had to sign twenty thousand documents. My wife had to sign ten thousand documents. We had to memorize the dates because we also had to date the documents. The problem was that it was 2008 and I was still in 2007 mode. Hopefully I signed something as 2007 and I will get back my half a hundred thousand. No? Okay then.

I tried to make the most of my stardom from being the person who was paying the ten people's salary. I asked questions. What is this two dollars beside the half a hundred thousand dollars, asked I. Oh, that, why do you care, you have already given us half a hundred thousand dollars, was the answer. Okay, forget it, said I, just give me the keys.

I was given the keys to the house. 5 copies. Why the heck 5, asked I. We locked ourselves out, said the husband. Multiple times. Thus the copies. Empty your pockets please, said I in a stern manner. Out came a garage door opener. Thank you, said I. I was wondering what that garage shaped thing beside the condo was.

Finally we were done. I had signed a lot of papers. I had my keys. I was broke. I was ecstatic. I owned a home. Home prices were falling. What could be better? My realtor had a Christmas present for us. It was a packet of gift cards. Please tell everyone about us, said my realtor. Sure I will, said I. After all, you gave us a home.

A home is what we have now. We will move completely in a couple of weeks. I am a history buff and I already know the history of this place. The Liberty Bell passed by our doorstep about 200 years ago as it made the journey back to Philadelphia. It's a historical place. Every road here was laid down in the 1700s. We have an Indian store, a Chinese restaurant, a mall, a pub, a biking trail and a creek. Everything you need to live in harmony with the world and nature. I think we will be fine.