I sit in the 21st floor now, but still...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Delhiite

Today as I was making my way to the airport, my car was stopped by four portly men wearing thick glasses and sweet (as in Bengali sweet) expressions and one gangly man with wavy matted hair, who was talking like Mithun Chakraborty.

They had come from Kolkata and were looking out for Dhoomketu, the man who has written the encyclopedic entry on Bongs. I thought they wanted to congratulate me and thus came out of the car. Instantly, their sweet expressions turned to stern. I felt I was in trouble. When Mithun actually adopted the Bruce Lee (ready to fight) pose, I knew I was in trouble.

"Hum tumko chahta hai" (We want you)

"Kyun?" (Why?)

"Those who libh in gelassh houses should nat throw shtones at udders." (Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones at others)

I was flanked by glistening malls on both sides, but I couldn't imagine they were talking about those class artifices. I looked on, suitably confused.

"Hain, Bangalider niye to khub thatta korle, ekhon ektu Panjabider niye koro, dekhi" (Yes, you have done fun on the Bengalis, now let's see you doing fun on Punjabis)

"I can't. I have to live here." (I am scared of taking on people double my size)

"Theek hai, then on Delhiites." (Okay, then take on Delhiites)

"Okay, done" (Okay, since anyway I am mostly in Bombay, how bad can it get?)

The Delhiite

Overview:

The Delhiite is a citizen of Delhi who looks the part. While any city the size of Delhi will have multiple niches within it - thus, in Delhi's case, people who think (they belong to the city), or a few who don't look the part, this entry can not attempt to detail such niches out. It's about documenting the average Delhiite.

Talking about averages, because of peer pressure, most Delhiites conform around the mean. This can mean two things:

1) Most Delhiites are selfish in a petty way or unkind.

2) Most Delhiites look, sound, feel the same.

Both are possibly true.

Physical Description:

The Delhiite is shiny. He is especially shiny in the noon day sun and in the dark discotheques. This is however, a post-1950s phenomenon. The partition may or may not have caused it (as sociologists are still debating whether being shiny makes you stand out in a group and thus gives you an identity or makes you conform to other shining examples, thus making you feel rooted), but clearly the shine has been noticed across the world, most noticeably in United States, where the Delhiites are called UFOs.

The shine is because of the weekly facial and the clothes. It is about these people that Mark Twain said, "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."

The Delhiite can be spotted wearing tops one size smaller than what propriety or even Ravi Bajaj demands. He/ she will wear a tight shirt/ t-shirt, mostly bright coloured over a big buckle, and followed by bottoms, which are the rage of the season - last season. Before Milan can forget its capris, or New York could pack away its harem pants, or London could discard its bell-bottoms, Delhiites pick them up and wear them to parties, movie halls, classrooms, kitty-parties and business lunches.

In winters, the Delhiite dresses like Terminator, in glistening leather jackets with multiple pockets. This habit (forgive the pun!) is mostly seen amongst males. Females look closer to the catalogue for last season's fall/winter collection. Then they get married and wear cardigans over billowy salwar kameezes. Males continue to wear leather jackets.

The Delhiite also believes in accessorising. And pipping the specially made Delhi goggles, which can be worn indoors and at night, is the mobile phone. The mobile phone is joined to the Delhiites hands when he or she turns four and stays there till their progeny or progeny's progeny can afford to pay the bills. Also, these mobile phones have loud ringtones, which give away their owner's location in a hunt. Which is what the Delhiite wants anyway.

On an average, the adult male Delhiite is 5'8" tall while the female is 5'4".

Early Years:

While the young Delhiite might brought up in the world by an aayaji, who fills in during kitty parties and business lunches, the contribution of the mother is not to be forgotten. She's the one who instills two philosophies into the Delhikid. The first is "Cheen Lo" or "Snatch That", which is third thing a Delhikid learns to say. However, it comes out sounding like babyspeak, till you realise that the kid's fist is tightly clenched around what you were holding a few seconds earlier. The second is "Mera kya jaata hai?" or "What goes of mine?", which is something the child learns to communicate through a shrug and a movement away from any trouble.

The Delhikid also goes to the best of schools. Except that for a Delhikid and his Mom, any school it goes to is the best school - be it Happy Flower Pre-Nursery or Lovely Public School. However, the Delhikid unlike its counterparts from other regions of the country - Madras, Bombay, Gujarat or West Bengal, do not suffer from any competitive streaks. Such capitalist tendencies are to be frowned upon.

Instead, the Delhikid is one of the greatest socialists (right after Robin Hood). It believes in "from each according to his capacity, to each according to my need". Thus, childhood is spent in many fun cloak-and-dagger adventures and heists, trying to steal each other's pencils, water-bottles, books, notes etc.

However, this is not to say that the Delhikid is petty. In fact, he has an immensely large heart (the body cavity has to be filled, after all*!). This is demonstrated during the happy burday parties, which are held every year. Every Delhikid attends the lavish-est burday parties. Every Delhikid throws the lavish-est burday parties. So the boasts go on and on, till the kid comes of age.

Growing up:

The Delhikid comes of age when it learns to drive (or ride). Or doesn't, but starts driving anyway. This is when it becomes a man/ woman of the road and the master of all it tramples surveys. Within the ambience of the shiny vehicle, the boy becomes a man and the girl becomes coy.

The Delhikid's schooling, as Mark Twain said, is not allowed to interfere with its education. Most young Delhiites learn their alphabet and arithmetic in the shopping malls and the pool parlours. What use learning anything more decadent than that - like history or science - "Mera kya jaata hai?"

Amongst the first few skills the Delhi youngling is expected to learn is how to beat the system, how to bribe the system and how to drop a few names. All these are nuanced skills that can not be shared over a blog post. Suffice to say, Delhi wasn't built in a day. And that whatever jam you are in, a minister's personal assistant's son can save you.

The other set of skills are around conformity.

As the young years are spent in school uniform and one expensive burday party after another, the kid might develop tendencies to revolt and be different from the mob. This is obviously to the kid's detriment as it might lead to issues like turning up in a shirt and chinos for a night out (instead of regular shiny apparel) or headbanging to bhangra (and vice-versa) or not getting your facial on time. 'Conform or die lonely' is the slogan of the eighteen year-olds. The day boys and girls start looking like the average young person from the neighbourhood, the parents can breathe easy.

Later Years:

For mating and procreation habits (which is all you are interested in), refer sub-section below. Besides those useful activities, the later life is mostly spent on work. This is covered in detail in Social Life. Besides the activities itself, age also takes its toll on the look and feel of the Delhiite.

Besides work and mating, there's not much else the Delhiite does after he turns thirty. Yes, he eats and drinks, but that is covered in Diet.

Diet:

One myth about Delhi is that the denizens feast on Butter chicken. Completely untrue. The Delhiites love varied tastes and are equally fond of Butter Paneer (especially the vegetarian ones).

A lot of the diet is liquid, consisting of strong beers (Knock-Out) and hard rums and whiskeys (whatever brand is available in the Army canteen).

Mating and procreation:

Once the young man grows up, he finds himself a job (unless there's a family business to lead) and looks for the opposite sex to be friends with. 'Being friends' is a nebulous concept. It usually starts with a yellow rose given on Valentine's Day or Friendship Day or some other Archie's or Hallmark celebration, and ends with a notch on the guy's belt (mostly fantastic and self-made). The girls are mostly coy during the time (learning from others in the spirit of conformity) and thus, wait patiently around the gate of the girls' colleges or stay behind for a little while after school.

However, soon both the parties reach marriageable age and settle down with the man or woman of their parent's choosing. That may or may not stop the man or woman from celebrating Valentine's Day or Friendship Day.

Social Life:

Half of a Delhiite's time (except for with a few notable exceptions) is spent hanging out on the roads, either going to or coming from work, shopping malls, high streets and discotheques. This is where he interacts with his fellow denizens. Often, the Delhiite will stop going wherever he or she was going and do whatever he planned on the road itself. This includes grocery shopping, having intimate conversations with friends (in another car), shouting at old ladies, getting drunk, throwing up and more such hedonism.

The other half of a Delhiites time is spent at work. While work has not been taken to ridiculous extremes as in Bombay, the Delhiite does keep looking for fayda (or profit) in every transaction. The Delhiite is amongst the few species in the world, which can profit from the contradictions of socialism and profit motive within the contradictions of the work-life balance itself.

The notable exception to this rule is the married Delhi female, who spends half her time, weaving sweaters or drying food products (pulses, wheat, pickles). This activity has its origins in the rooftops of Karol Bagh post partition. While the activity is well-documented in various media, the motive is yet undiscovered (as neither misshapen sweaters nor pickles are particularly profitable).

Habitat:

His car with double woofers, triple CD changer, quadruple spare tyres and quintuple bucket seats, obviously, forms a large part of his habitat. Dikchik, dikchik, he goes everywhere.

Besides the vehicle, he also loves his Baroque house with marble floors, carpeted walls and wall hangings. In with the latest trends (of last years), he would not think twice in tearing up the floor and installing low seating or tearing the seats apart, to install low cushions and then tucking the cushions away to install the Lazyboy chair. All this in the drawing room (and the bathroom, which the guests will visit). Jo Dikhta hai, Woh Matter Karta hai, (What can be seen, matters) taking an adage from the Lever's marketing handbook.

When he is not entertaining at home (or getting entertained in another one's home), the Delhiite can be seen in pubs, night clubs and other dark areas with spotty lighting and bhangra music.

Language:

Language is a mix of English, Hindi and Punjabi delivered in part-rustic, part-foreign fake accent. Delhi has given two famous words to the world's literary lexicon. This post will possibly be read by under-age kids (don't think that I am worried about kids in Delhi - they are men enough) and thus I won't tell you. Suffice to say that their abbreviations sound like AC or DC or BC (Before Christ, what were you thinking?). These two words are enough for a non-Delhiite trying to explore Delhi literature.

However, if you are going to live in Delhi, do learn two another phrases.

First is 'palli taraf' (Other side), which can be used if someone asks you for directions or the location of anything. The best thing is that this side can be anywhere in all six directions (right, left, front, back, up, down) hence, you will always be right.

The second word is 'Peeche se' (from the back), which is to be used when giving explanation of how something went wrong. Like, "Why did the electricity go?" 'Peeche se gaya hai' (It's gone from the back). Or, "Why have you crossed the stop line?" 'Peeche se pressure tha' (There was pressure from the back). Since usually in Delhi, everything and everyone has something or someone at their back, this will always seem true.

Famous Delhiites:

Famous Delhiites are the Who's Who. For one 'Who' won't do them justice. They need to be another Who's Who, as demonstrated below:

JJ Valaya (the guy who looks like Daler Mehndi but isn't), Bina Ramani (the woman owning the infamous pub), the son-in-law of Amitabh Bachchan, Abu-Sandeep (the designers for Amitabh Bachchan), the husband of Priyanka Gandhi, Karishma Kapur's husband, Sheetal Mafatlal (the woman who is allegedly trying to get all the alleged Mafatlal money)**

Infamous Delhiites are also many: Ponytail, Rahul Mahajan, Sushil Sharma, Ajay Jadeja, and Shahnaz Hussain (for her hair I had to put her in the infamous category)

Closing Word:

Usse Cheen Lo! Mera Kya Jaata Hai? In this spirit, please feel free to tell me what I have forgotten and need to add (feel free to plagiarise from other blogs/ websites when it comes to your ideas). My bong post had six updates and counting. Hope to better that this time.

Update 1: TTG has a response up. Also, soon we'll cover Blueline buses, Cielos and possibly Fabindia. However, what we will not cover, since we never encountered them, "a pretty good night-life, .... for the most part, an abiding respect for the older generation"! They are stuff of good legends.

* Just being nasty. Sorry.

** Sorry, the last one might be a Mumbaikar, but frankly do you care?

Freestyle kiss to Heddy Lamarr

Found from Buoy.Antville, a set of marvellous letters written by Saadat Hasan Manto to his Uncle called Sam, at the Chowk.

The letters were written between 1951 and 1954, but they still ring relevant and are eminently readable, even after (or perhaps due to) the translation. Take this, for instance.
As for your military pact with us, it is remarkable and should be maintained. You should sign something similar with India. Sell all your old condemned arms to the two of us, the ones you used in the last war. This junk will thus be off your hands and your armament factories will no longer remain idle.
It can very well be written in 2006, except now Uncle has gone ahead and signed something similar with India. In fact, the Pakistani nephew is whining for the gift package now.

Manto doesn't stop at commending his Uncle on the Americal foreign policy in Pakistan or advise him on India. He also asks his kindly uncle for one personal favour.
The number of your nephews runs into millions but a nephew like yours truly you will not find even if you lit an atom bomb to look for him. Do pay me some attention therefore. All I need is an announcement from you that your country (which may it please God to protect till the end of time) will only help my country ( may God blight the distilleries of this land) acquire arms if Saadat Hasan Manto is sent over to you.
Overnight, my value will go up and after this announcement, I will stop doing ‘Shama’ and ‘Director’ crossword puzzles (2). Important people will come to visit my home and I will ask you to airmail me a typical American grin which I will glue to my face so that I can receive them properly.
Such a grin can have a thousand meanings. For instance, ‘You are an ass.’ ‘You are exceptionally brilliant.’ ‘I derived nothing but mental discomfort from this meeting.’ ‘You are a casual-wear shirt made in America.’ ‘You are a box of matches made in Pakistan.’ ‘You are a homemade herbal tonic.’ ‘You are Coca Cola.’ Etc. etc.
I have read the four letters three times over. They are a precursor to the work of the Beat Generation, Bob Dylan and Beatles. One can very well imagine a few Beat poets writing the following lines.
"You are an ass,
you are exceptionally brilliant,
you are a casual-wear shirt made in America.
You are Coca Cola"

In another remarkable section, Manto goes on and asks for a 'tiny, teeny weenie atom bomb' so that he can pull out the bomb and lob it at the Mullah when one of them 'with one hand inside their untied shalwar, use the stone to absorb the after-drops of urine as they resume their walk'! Just the thing you need an atom bomb for.

In fact, the four letters are so full of irreverence, that it is difficult for me to choose a favourite section or two. Willie Moretti's funeral, Gregory Peck's affection for Surayya, Max Factor cosmetics, Charlie Chaplin, Jawaharlal Nehru - all come under the scanner. However, there is one line which has stayed in memory since morning - it's the last line of the third letter, "I now close my letter with a freestyle kiss to Heddy Lamarr."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Police Item Number

Bombay cops complaining about closed dance bars (or about Rakhi Sawant), can take a leaf out of the UP Police book.
...Not content with this rowdyism, the officer further shocked the public by taking off his pants, showing his organ although covered with underwear. He then went a step further when someone in the crowd shouted, "Sahib cabaret bhi kariye”. (Sir, please perform a cabaret also!)...
Nothing like a do-it-yourself gig.

Simple Minds, Simple Quiz

"If I were part of the Ghauri family, I guess I would have less of a f**kin' potty mouth. Damn, those Pakistanis are not cool with the s**t talking."

Who said this?
1) Prithviraj Chauhan (in vernacular), before the second battle of Tarain, while assessing the opposition.
2) Syed Kirmani, before the 1984 series with Pakistan, on the issue of sledging. He had been accused of using unparliamentary language by Prof. Naseem Ghauri, chief advisor to General Zia Ul-Haq.
3) Unidentified Indian scientist, after Pakistan tested the Ghauri missile, while assessing differences between the Indian and the Pakistani missile programs.
4) None of the above.

From Chapati Mystery, I learnt about this newest addition to South Asian culture - "Paris and Nicole trade in their designer dresses for traditional saris when they take over the responsibilities of a traditional Pakistani mom".

I haven't seen the episode (nor will), but Abhi on SM might have. Also, I learnt from SM that this episode might have been rip-roaringly funny after all:
Hilarious scene where the Pakistani father asks Paris if she knows what the principal religion of Pakistan is. She is too afraid to take a guess, so he gives her a hint, "It is talked about very much in the news lately."
Then, ms. hilton's lightbulb suddenly goes off as she confidently replies," Kabbalah."
By the way, the answer to the question was None of the Above. It can actually be attributed to Nicole Richie.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Vegetarian Meat

Many of my vegetarian friends in Delhi ate eggs without any compulsion.

Some particularly pious egg-loving ones actually thought of eggs as vegetarian since most of them were, according to them, produced asexually and were infertile. They might be wrong, according to the Kingston Sikh Society.
"Hens are given five kinds of violent-generating foods: bone meal, blood-meal,
excreta-food, meat-meal and fish-meal. Can we dare to call eggs vegetarian food even
after learning this? The term vegetarian egg is a first-rate misnomer. The purpose of a
fertile egg is to animate life, but an infertile egg has no such purpose and as such
should be considered totally inedible."

Okay. From now on, I will look out for purposeful eggs.

However as far as the debate is concerned, frankly I have only two opinions:
1) I don't care much except for the fact that desi eggs do taste a little better than factory/ broiler eggs.
2) Eggs benedict is my favourite egg dish (and a great cure for hangovers). Add some nice smoked bacon or ham, a dash of hollandaise sauce and warm toast to a runny poached egg and you will forget violence-generating hangovers.

However, as far as those pious friends go, now they can have meat as well. Dutch researchers are currently working on growing artificial pork out of pig stem cells. They hope to grow a form of minced meat suitable for burgers, sausages and pizza toppings within the next few years.

Many men whom I have heard saying, "Bahar to khaate hain, par ghar pe nahin banaate" (We eat (meat) outside, but don't cook it in our homes) would probably have limited compulsions if they are told that they can now eat ground meat grown in a petri-dish.

Here's to vegetarian meat sheek kababs!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Bong Connection

Finally, a movie which "seeks to explore sensitive souls singing to the tunes of Tagore."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Daak Naam

Puntu, Rono and Gogo are three of my best friends. I used to know Putu and Poppin in school. My family has Apol, Phupol, Gogol, Tusu, Babla, Apai, Geri, Tultul...

I am talking about phenomenon called Daak Naam. Literally it means nickname, which according to the dictionary is either a descriptive name added to or replacing the actual name of a person or a familiar or shortened form of a proper name. This description doesn't hold true for a Bong nickname.

In reality, the daak naams are hardly ever descriptive nor is it a familiar or shortened form of the name. Outside of Kolkata, it is exceedingly difficult to explain why your mother or your pesky cousing is calling you Bumba or Piklu instead of Anirban, Tonmoy or Jishnu.

In the 1950s, the Tram rates in Kolkata were increased by 1 paisa. This 1 paisa coin used to have a hole in the middle. The increase in rates led to protests. During this time, within my family, a couple of my uncles were born a few days apart. They were called Apol and Phupol, which stood for Aik Poishaar Lorai (One Paisa's Fight) and Phuto Poishaar Lorai (Fight for Paisa with the hole). Clearly contextual, but would it ever be descriptive?

Also, in reality, for Bonglings, nothing can be a bigger source of embarassment (or occasionally, pride) than the Daak naam their parents have bestowed. Common nicknames include Kaibla (unsmart) and Haabla (dumb). However, this is not the nadir when it comes to Daak naams.

A couple of my grandfather's cousins were named Teko (Bald) and Hego (Crappy) to protect them from the evil eye. I know of one Hippo, which was selected for a particularly bonny baby.

On the other hand, this cousin of mine is nicknamed Zico. He was born in 1986. Another one's called Zizou. Much pride. This year many Messis, Robbens and Tevezes will be born in Kolkata. Some may be called DaVinci or OBiC as well.

As you can see, Daak Naam's like Roulette. Since, I know all of you want to play it, please go to the Bong Nickname generator and get it.

And to answer the question in your mind, My Daaknaam is Keltu. From the depths of the generator itself.

Female airlines

I travelled Jet Airways after a long time today. And in a banter with a fellow passenger, recognised one of its value propositions.

*****
One of the selling points for Kingfisher are air-hostesses, right? Of course, we can go on about the goody bag and the food and the tv screens, but put women in red skirts and you get male passengers. I personally don't think that all of them are model material, but I'll restrict opinion about the women to myself.

On the other side of the spectrum stands Indian Airlines. People say that it has stern looking matrons rather than hostesses. "...stern looking grumpy 45 year old Kokila at the forward section, 28 year old harassed and unhappy looking Sweta at the first class and 54 year old Matilda who works at the rear and just gives everyone a glance from back there. All three have "dont mess with me" written allover their faces!..."

I disagree with this to an extent. I think the biggest problem with Indian Airlines is consistency. Some of the best times I have had while flying have been on Indian Airlines. So have some of the worst times. As far as women are concerned, some of them are actually quite young and fetching. At the very least, most of them look genuine, instead of the fake smiles I encounter in Jet. I guess different strokes for different folks. By the way, Rajat pumps for spicy women at Spice Jet here.

However, this post is not about rating air-hostesses at all. In fact, I am against rating air-hostesses. Or rather, I am for rating stewards in the same way as rating air-hostesses.

I tried to search for ten minutes but couldn't come up with a single post on how hot some of the stewards are (or how ugly). All that turned up was this news piece on IA stewards being called to lose weight (on which the Tabloid has a different take - "IA to ground overweight air-hostesses). Why are the chick-lit bloggers shy about expressing their admiration for stewards (or critical about portly men)?

In fact, why is it that bloggers are focusing on air-hostesses rather than stewards? Why are airlines allowed to get away with blatant sexism? In fact, this is largely true for international airlines as well.
*****
Today, while travelling in Jet Airways, I realised how good looking some of the men are. Sahara also employs men but they do not come close to the super-models that Jet employs. While one of them had aquiline features, the other had the most dreamy eyes. Both had taut, tall gaits. Warm smiles. Enough to make most women melt (and a few men).

My fellow passenger was hooked. She called Jet "the female airlines". I agree.

Reality check for Anglophiles

Sidin clearly smoked dope while writing his version of the England-Brazil match. Which is okay.

As long as all of us know that this is how the match will go (via email from a colleague):

It is just before the England v Brazil match. Ronaldinho goes into the Brazilian changing room to find all his teammates looking a bit glum.

"What's up?" he asks.

"Well, we're having trouble getting motivated for this game. We know it's important but it's only England. They're sh*te and we can't be bothered."

Ronaldinho looks at them and says, "Well, I reckon I can beat them by myself. You lads go down the pub."

So Ronaldinho goes out to play England by himself and the rest of the Brazilian team go off for a few jars.

After a few pints they wonder how the game is going, so they get the landlord to put the teletext on. A big cheer goes up as the screen reads "Brazil 1 - England 0 (Ronaldinho 10 minutes)". He is beating England all by himself!

Anyway, a few pints later and the game is forgotten until someone remembers, "It must be full time now, let's see how he got on." They put the teletext on.

"Result from the Stadium 'Brazil 1 (Ronaldinho 10 minutes) - England 1 (Lampard 89 minutes)."

They can't believe it; he has single-handedly got a draw against England!!
They rush back to the Stadium to congratulate Ronaldinho. They find him in the dressing room, still in his gear, sitting with his head in his hands.

He refuses to look at them. "I've let you down, I've let you down."

"Don't be daft, you got a draw against England, all by yourself. And they only scored at the very, very end!"

"No, no, I have, I've let you down. I got sent off after 12 minutes."

Heh!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ten Commandments of Quizzing and Bob Dylan

As I was discussing earlier, the ten commandments are here.
...3) Thou shalt read the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (and try, as far as possible, not to implement any of that nonsense in thy 'life'.)
3a) Thous shall try, as far as possible, not to have a life in which anything can be implemented.
4) Thou shalt make obnoxious comparisons of 'The Outsider' and 'The Cathcer in the Rye' to near complete strangers in the U-Special...
...7) Thou shalt, whenever possible, commit adultery (Ditch thy Partner)...
We lived and died a million times for these commandments. Ah, the brave follies of youth. Bring a tear to my older eye. Now, hear Bob singing about us quizzers:
"...Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.

Girls' faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy
To memorizing politics
Of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists
Unthought of, though, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now..."

Heat, with no thanks to ESPN

Heat, after 6 matches in my dream matchup (detractors notwithstanding). Mavericks proved soft of course. Though in front of Wade who was as great as Mike himself, everyone will be soft.

Pratyush and I have been following it on the net. He, because he was in Varanasi, Chota Nagpur and other forsaken places. I because ESPN thinks delayed telecast of NBA is good enough. Pfaw!

Shaquille o'Neal would not have approved of all this. Would have called ESPN Robocop (or Steven Seagal or something) in front of his Kazaam appearance.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Increasing sales of toothbrushes...

... using sex (Warning: Who knows what's suitable at your workplace?)
...Dentistry is an area that needs to be sexed up because it's so asexual.
I do get excited by my dentist. He has this rather authoritative air. He'll complete a filling and ask me if it feels okay when I bite. I won't be sure, like last time, because my entire mouth was so numb...
Oral care gets a whole new meaning.

Tick Tick Tick Tick

No, not Raj Kumar's tour-de-force, but two lists of clocks.

The world's most annoying alarm clocks was sent to me as a forward two weeks back. I haven't been able to get over the sheer delight at discovering such evil in the world.

At No. 3 is a clock which flies off into some part of the room. You have to catch it and put it back in it's cage. Cruel.

However, my favourite is at No. 9, a puzzle alarm which forces you to find pieces of a jigsaw puzzle from across the room and to assemble it in the clock to turn it off! If you think that is evil, then what about the idea of an alarm clock which jumbles up a Rubik's cube and you are forced to solve the cube? I want to patent this embodiment of wickedness.

Then, there is this list of interesting clocks.

It has amongst others, the embodiment of purity - an alarm clock which will go off at the perfect time! With support for up to two people, the clock includes a sweatband with built-in sensor that wirelessly transmits your sleep pattern info to the clock. Ensuring that you don’t oversleep, the alarm will sound within a 30 minute window before your desired wake time. Now, that's what I need.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Holland

Ever since I saw that volley (features in BBC article of top Euro moments here), I have been hooked on Holland. However, till now, they have been known as the best team never to win the World Cup. Till now. For 2006 looks like theirs. These are 11 reasons why they will win this World Cup:
  1. Robben will start passing the ball to others instead of doing it all himself, inspite of having the capacity to do that.
  2. Van der Vaart will fully recover and take the right flank.
  3. Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel need EPL or Primera Liga deals. What better time to showcase?
  4. Van Bommel will rediscover why he was sought by Barcelona. And not play like Claude Makelele or Joe Cole.
  5. Marco Van Basten will ask players not to spit on the German team a la friend Frank in 1990.
  6. Holland will finally win a close one against Brazil. Even if it means winning in a penalty shootout. This is because the tournament is in Germany.
  7. Italy will dominate their match against Holland and get two penalties. However, they will miss them and go on to lose in a penalty shootout.
  8. Miroslav Klose might be as boring as Gerd Muller, but there's no Beckenbauer, except for a symbol of moral support in the stands.
  9. Argentina will self-destruct. Van Bronckhorst will give a long pass to Van Nistelrooy in the penalty box. Van Nistelrooy will collect it with an excellent first touch, turn and shoot past the goalkeeper. Just like in 98.
  10. Before you forget, Holland defeated Czech Republic twice in qualifying. However, now that Ghana has shredded the veterans, probably this reason isn't good enough.
  11. I am wearing a Marco Van Basten jersey every match that Holland plays.

Song sung blue...

... Everybody knows one.

The fatwa on Vande Mataram has caught on people's interest, hasn't it? From Desipundit, I learnt that bloggers are fighting a battle on the issue of Fatwa on forcible singing of Vande Mataram in schools.

At loggerheads are people known to readers of this blog, Confused and Dilip. Dilip mostly raises questions on his blog, some quite lucid, some ludicrous, including asking that if A doesn't mean B (if HKL Bhagat singing Vande Mataram doesn't prove he is patriotic), then how can we say absence of B means absence of A (then how come absence of 'Vande Mataram singing' makes a person unpatriotic?) thus confusing necessary conditions with sufficient conditions. Bear in mind, I am not saying that singing Vande Mataram is either necessary or sufficient to be patriotic, i.e. I am not saying that ability or will (or the lack of) to sing Vande Mataram makes anyone patriotic or unpatriotic. I am just asking Dilip not to use a particular fallacy (here I go again!).

However, since I have had my share of debates with Dilip on issues which mattered to me and since this one doesn't, I will move on to discussing Confused's post instead.

At this moment, I can't really care that an ancient song is sung at school assemblies, having long since passed out of those long, boring affairs myself. For me, it's just another song that is forced upon school children, without context and without any discussion. It isn't any more important than a 'thought for the day', or "Humko man ki shaanti shakti de ma", to name two things that I had to go through. Neither is the protest against it an issue of national importance.

Let me place on record, though, that I do believe that the clerics have the right to protest and issue silly fatwas.
After all, while the Danish Muslims and their Arabic neighbours had a whole page of cartoons and cartons of milk and cheese to protest against, Indians had to make do with Sania's skirt-length, books written by NRIs and Bangladeshis and various other trivial matters. However, if the clerics resort to violence or the threat of violence to stop this attack on their faith, then it's not kosher or sharia or whatever*.

Moving on to Confused's post itself, he says that "I am not sure how one can force anyone to sing anything but I digress." Clearly, the Indian schooling system has gone out of his memory. Or maybe it has changed significantly since my schooling days. I remember that my teachers and school principals could force us to do anything, including singing the school songs. Not only could they force the crowd to sing songs for an hour in Delhi heat, but also they could force individuals to join the school choir and sing. Those of you unfortunate enough to hear me sing would not believe that I was once forced to join the school choir! I protested a lot but the clinching argument that my music teacher gave was that I was class monitor and hence, should have the zeal to sing, if not the ability. I can very well imagine teachers asking young students to sing anything if they set their minds to it.

Hence, if some cleric tries to ensure that a Muslim child should not be forced to sing (without any threat of violence) then it's okay. While Vande Mataram truly might be our cultural heritage, I can't be forced to sing it if I don't want to. I should have personal freedom to refuse. That is what Nitin also points out in his blog.

This is where Confused steps in and says, "Though I broadly agree with his (Nitin's) interpretation, I feel he has missed a couple of important points. First, this freedom is not available to any one else, for example we have not given the right to any citizen to burn the national flag. Till this right is non-sectarian and broad based it cannot be claimed." I can't disagree more. Having argued well against use of such binary choices in logic in earlier posts, Confused resorts to it himself. Just because a right is not non-sectarian and broad based does not mean that it can not be claimed. In fact, the way to claim the right is by asking for this freedom in various forums. It is my right to not subscribe to organised patriotism and that must be upheld.

Obviously, if there is a law against such protests (for example, against loudly mocking the nation, while the National Anthem is being played or against burning the National Flag), then we should be ready to face the consequences of the law, while protesting against it. Laws protecting the sanctity of national symbols are liable to change**. The clerics unwittingly might be changing the strange law guaranteeing unnecessary sanctity to national symbols.

Thus, just because there's a (definite) shrill tone and a (probable) communal undertone to the fatwa doesn't mean that it is wrong to issue it. I may choose to ridicule the intentions behind the fatwa, but I can't go ahead and prove that the fatwa is unacceptable. Nor can I make statements bordering on fascism like, "The nation's polity must be shaped by a shared version and not the whims and fancies of the few. Those who find themselves incompatible with such a situation have every right to secede and go their own way". Shades of George Bush, anyone?

* Their current fatwa does border dangerously on violence, 'asking' parents to withdraw students from schools. However, so is the comment by some school teachers that "There is nothing wrong with Vande Mataram. Everyone should sing it. We will ensure that all students sing it".
** Has been done before. Remember the right to fly the flag case.

P.S. Confused has clarified a lot of points in his responses to comments. Please do read them as well. It's Sunday evening and I've the hafta article to write, so will read them later!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Welcome, No Entry

Observed in Byculla while passing by in the car. "Central Railway Welcomes You, No Entry" in two languages.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Soft Mavericks?

Mark Cuban went to David Letterman and took pot shots at Pat Riley for playing a physical game in the NBA finals. Pat Riley hit back through physical domination of Dallas Mavericks yesterday.

The finals have become tough and Dallas is proving a little soft. I would say they always looked a little soft. Just check this out. (Hat tip: Pratyush)



You can download it here.

11 reasons for letting me go

I have kept this to myself till now, but now it's out* - I couldn't watch the match between Brazil and Croatia yesterday because I fell asleep early.

From what I have been hearing (and here), it's not that I missed much. However, I am an extremely faithful supporter of Brazil (and Holland) and will be punished soon, I know. One small mistake, a careless match, and bam! it will be Italia 1990 again.

Maybe Germany will beat Brazil (or Holland) this World Cup and win the whole damn tournament. Or maybe England will reach the semi-finals and Argentina won't. Or maybe Gary Neville will get elected best defender. Or maybe England will start understanding that memories of Stanley Matthews or George Best do not football in the 21st century make. Or maybe, the tabloids will wake up to the painful realism that Cheryl Tweedy and other blondes are passe and that they should cover the matches instead.

Worst case scenarios are flashing through my mind. Hence, I have decided to repent. Or at least give Santa 11 reasons for letting me go scot-free.
  1. I buy jerseys from Colaba Causeway so that I can buy as many of them as possible and yet have never bought a jersey of a team I didn't support, leave alone not know. This in contrast to the rest of Bombay who don't know a Barcelona from a Bayern Munich but wear the original branded replicas.
  2. I travelled in Germany wearing a Holland jersey during a friendly between the two countries in 2003. Holland won.
  3. I made the predictions for the quarter-finals of this World Cup, before the draw was made.
  4. I once played as a libero in school football and provided the cross for the tying goal on my only move to the opponent's penalty box.
  5. I have just watched the Tunisia vs. Saudi Arabia match and enjoyed it a lot.
  6. I have bunked work during summer internship to go watch Brazil beat China in 2002. For good measure, I consumed a lot of beer.
  7. I own a Marco Van Basten jersey and think he made the greatest volley in football history.
  8. I think the previous sentence has all the relevant information and don't need to clarify.
  9. I have prayed outside the Nou Camp and this year my prayers were answered.
  10. I am a Bong. Need I say more?
  11. Finally, I know a Cheryl Tweedy from Susana Werner from a Helen Svedin, and am proud of it.
* Another story - There was a football addict called D. He had no skill whatsoever in football and thus, was immensely happy that he was born in India. He could face the peer pressure confidently.
Having said that, he was especially proficient at drinking lots of beer while watching football and at staying awake to watch the Champion's League matches. Sometimes though, he would read a book or something to stay awake.
One Wednesday in January 2004, it all came crashing down. He came home to his house after a hard day's work. He switched on the TV to watch the League and saw some aerobics playing out instead. He looked at the watch, impatient for the match to start. It was 3:45. The match was over.

Tinsel dreams

My favorite newspaper tells me that a foreign trip made by the Deputy CM will lead to immense development in Bihar.

One of the greatest gifts he got from Italy, UK and Canada is "Special lectures and seminars at various institutes to apprise the students of the latest technology in various fields including medicine and engineering", by NRB doctors and other professionals. Now, engineering and medical students in Bihar will move from knife's edge (whether wielded by them or not*) and towards the cutting edge of knowledge.

However, that, and other empty promises, were not all. Borrowing a page from New Zealand and Lord of the Rings, the DCM's also got Sergio Scapagnini** to make a movie in Bihar. Reminds of a quote (about Hollywood) which I heard in a quiz earlier, "If you remove the fake tinsel, you will get the real tinsel".

Definitely looks like Bihar is making movies, if not moves.

* We are not talking scalpels here.
** Same man who produced Sonali Kulkarni's Italian flick.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Football questions

GT has a google-able quiz on his blog. So, don't google.

I have one more question to ask: "Who are the ugliest footballers in the world?" (Hat-tip: Patrix)

Andhra soccer

All Telegu speaking people should be proud.

For all the hype of Bengal, Goa and Kerala being the hub of football in India, Andhra Pradesh became the first Indian state to play in the Fifa World Cup.

This from the state whose greatest contribution to football in the recent years was this dialogue (by Balakrishna, NTR's son*!):
"U can find tea in teacup. But cannot find world in world cup."


* The source has been disputed by others. Some say it was the Kannada actor, Balakrishna and some say it was Upendra. I don't care too much, but find it funny.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Party Kissing

A few definitions of kisses are here:

French kiss (Webster's dictionary)
Date: circa 1923
An open-mouth kiss usually involving tongue-to-tongue contact. Also known as a Soul kiss.

Make up kiss
After having upset your partner, this is the kiss that usually follows the apology. Often among the most passionate of kisses.

Sympathy kiss
When one of the participants really doesn't want to kiss, but does anyway. Also known as a "pity kiss."

We can add one more:
Party Kissing: "Not Indian culture. Rather it is an unwelcome intrusion into it."

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Nostalgia and 10 rules

Today three of our Band of Four met. This is one of my two closest group of friends (the other was formed later). We are all quizzers. Some of us are bloggers. None of us cynics, though we have tendencies. We have made promises to each other, but aren't lovers yet.

In our youth (I say it in jest, as I am still quite young!), we met while quizzing and then as we worked out answers together, we kept on getting closer.

Amongst our greatest achievements are polishing off eleven pizzas in a Pizza Hut all you can eat contest and finishing all the laddoos in multiple sweet shops, with and without prior substance abuse. We have also fought with a king's attendant at Wankaner (more of that later) as well as travelled down Ancient Indian History together. We have taken on Ganga at 10 o'clock in the night. We have tried to climb faster than mules on our way to Valley of Flowers and failed. We have bought each other T-shirts. Plus, we have won a lot of quizzes.

However, I don't mean to get emotional about friendship here. All I wanted to write about is the Ten Commandments in Quizzing. These are rules that every quizzer used to follow. These were our values. In the glory days of Delhi Quizzing.

Anand, who came up with them with Marcus, will find the sheet of paper where he has this written down, and post it one day. I don't even remember half of them clearly as it has been a while since we had committed to them. However, three-four of them are clearly etched in my mind.

No. 4: If thy is thou art faced with a choice of a good quiz in a girl's college and a great quiz somewhere else, thy shall thou shalt unhesitatingly choose the girl's college. (Sim, will stick to girl's college, in a way it was!)
No. 6: Thou shalt never refuse free food.
No. 7: Thou shalt find a sucker to pay for thy refreshments, and thou shalt resist all attempts to become the sucker thyself, unless there's a pretty quizzer with long eyelashes asking thy thee to become sucker.
No. 10: Thou shalt share and care, in a quiz as long as thy win thou winst.

We had committed to these in the first year of our college. Since then we grew up, have met a few pretty people with long eyelashes (unlikely though that may sound) and have started valuing great quizzes rather than silly ones. However, our gory past can't be denied.

I got reminded of past when I read this. It's similar to the 10 commandments the two boys had come up with one day.

P.S. if you are a quizzer, or a quizzer-lover(!), read this. Some of the quizzing spirit is captured well, though I can't relate to winning a quiz at any costs anymore. Or so I think.

Update: I have been tutored in Olde English. I was told and I changed.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Trishul, Aradhana, Hero, Lucky, Sarfarosh etc.

Update: Not many realised that I am writing about Fanaa. As a friend said, " If you gave a link (to Fanaa), it would help, for most people probably slept through most of it like you did". True!

I saw at least five movies one after the another, for the price of one on Thursday night. Should have been a fantastic experience - a marathon of movies. Instead, because I was tired (end of the week), I slept through some parts of the movies. In fact, I feel hardpressed to come up with more than one or two scenes of the movies I saw.

Actually, now that I think back, it seems like it might have been one movie. Not sure.


First, I saw the song, Gapuchi Gapuchi Gam Gam from Trishul. The young lovers were celebrating new love in Delhi. However, I didn't like the movie a lot and thus, changed to Rajesh Khanna started singing songs. He shook his shoulder up and down and lilt-ed away to glory. These late-60s early-70s movies just make me sit up and notice. Those bangs over the forehead, those floral shirts. So ugly that it's not even funny (beyond the 'so ugly that it's funny' phase).

The song was captivating, but the movie soon turned boring. So, I changed to Hero - Love Story of a Spy. Sunny Deol was beating up an army, in the forests of Kashmir. It looked suspiciously like Switzerland or some other European country, and Sunny was riding a snowmobile. It was engrossing yet believable stuff. In fact, whenever Sunny doesn't use a tube-well to defeat an army, it is quite believable. Eight people died, Sunny escaped with a few scratches.

Too much of Sunny Deol is obviously not too good for one's morale (leave alone the army, I don't stand much of a chance against a few army ants) and thus, I switched off. I probably went to sleep. When I woke up, Lucky (Salman Khan) was running across a snow field and the elfin wierdly dressed heroine was running behind him. It was as riveting as watching golf on TV, except that golfers have better dressing sense.

I had to change. Why not trust Aamir Khan and his trusty old movie - Sarfarosh? Who will ever forget the waterfall song, with Sonali Bendre coordinating her swathes of fabric with Aamir's shirts. The song was not particularly memorable, but the colour-coordinated lead pair was. By the way, what's with the Indian lead pairs? Why does the pair stand with her arms outstretched, her back to him, her head in the crevice of his shoulder or cleavage, both leaning back with eyes closed, at least once in every movie?

Then I went to sleep again. When I woke up, Hero was playing again and somebody was trying to shoot from a helicopter. Somebody died in the snow. Bizarre.

Update
: Girl told me that while I was sleeping she also saw Hum Tum's rain song.

Quiz on Sunday

AV quiz on Sunday, by the Bombay Quiz Club.

Please to attend, as fun will come.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

World Cup Fudgeball

The world's biggest carnival's here and we can look forward to a lot of misquotes, googled news, articles stolen without attribution, misprints and bloopers in the Indian newspapers.

While the media circus doesn't stop for even a minute through the year, this World Cup will probably see it hit new lows.

"If you are shocked by the nose-dive the Sensex has taken, you haven't seen anything yet", said an insider, on the condition of anonymity. This is confirmed by a friend of a famous editor who reports that the editor has been seen scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Take this instance, for example - Sepp Blatter, in a promotional campaign for ESPN Star Sports said that in South Asia, India is a key market as regards fan following. "I am pleasantly surprised with the great interest in soccer in a cricket crazy nation like India," were the exact words. Fortunately, the creative team was able to misrepresent this and turn a boring cliche into an astonishing headline - "India biggest viewers of the Fifa World Cup"Such opportunities however are few and far between. Mostly, the newspapers have to just make up facts without any cliche to support them. "What gives most thrill is being able to conjure up numbers out of a hat rather than misrepresent someone's statements. The freedom we get is similar to what Ronaldinho will get in the 4-4-2 scheme."

"I got immense thrill when I calculated on the back of Delhi Times, the viewership of the Football World Cup. It came to 30 billion by my estimate. It made the front page of the newspapers"When being told that that's five times the world's population, the reporter slinked away, hand in hand, with a handsome upcoming football. Friends say that a relationship is brewing and that the back of the Delhi Times was actually a page of Khaleej Times.

Watch this space for more. Or not.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Kissing season

Amit Varma writes about kissing blogging that he wants to do with Jessica Alba, after getting inspired by Emraan's prank.

It does seem that Bollywood is feeling inspired by kissing pranks. From Mumbai Mirror (actual link doesn't work usually, therefore cached with important parts highlighted!)
"...During the picturisation of an intimate kissing scene between Dia and Akshay, Akshay asked Ashu for a retake. The second time round, he chewed on plenty of garlic and blew his foul breath on Dia.

“Alag is an emotional film, and we were very serious on the sets most of the time,” says Akshay.
“However, the prankster in me was waiting to be let loose. So I told Ashu about my intentions and he agreed to help me play a prank on Dia. I chewed on several cloves of garlic just before the kissing scene. Everything was fine till I blew the garlic breath on her face. All hell broke lose then, and Dia freaked out. She was stunned. Soon, however, she realised that it was only a prank. She chased me all over the set, cursing me, and we all ended up having a good laughing over it.”
I have met some people who get pretty emotional and serious about garlic breath as well. But, why would Dia chase someone with garlic breath is beyond me. I guess strange are the ways of Bollywood. Yahoo has a different version. Subi Samuel (director) says,
"There was a very intense scene in which Akshay and Dia kiss. He's crying and there are some intense dialogues. Akshay had a mouth full of garlic. We had already canned the scene. But we had ganged up and kept on re-shooting! Diya kept on doing the scene with the same intensity! Akshay just burst out laughing."
Thus ends investigative journalism for this week. The verdict is with you.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Looking for chaat, getting raita

It was Sunday evening and I was feeling papri chaat. A deep and distinct craving for the sweet and sour chutney, fresh curd and hot spicy masala on the crisp papris. The tang of the chutneys would blend delicately with the subtle flavour of the base. Every bite would be a little different from the other, thus creating thousands of mini surprises within one small meal. It's not often that I crave for anything vegetarian, but this was one time. I expected the best. I was ready to pay for the best.

However, I was in Prabhadevi and I didn't have a computer to do a quick google search, nor did I call my blogger friends up to get advice on where I would get a good chaat (like the real Delhi stuff). Elco Bandra was too far away. Hence, we decided to do what an average Mumbaikar would do (irrespective of whether he wants chaat, chane ki daal, charpaai or even chainlock). We went to Phoenix mills.

We were first accosted by the Chamosa stall. It does sell like hot cakes, I must admit, but a samosa won't do when I want a papri. So, we decided to move on to the food lane right outside of Big Bazaar. I saw chaat mentioned in big bold letters next to the steamed corn stall.

Excuse the digression, but what's with these corn stalls anyway. They are the scourge of good taste. They are mushy and watery, the flavours are synthetic to say the best, the visual appeal is of a blank notebook minus the anticipation, the lemon, which is the only hope of salvaging the dish, is sprinkled by people from a particular Western state (sorry, couldn't resist!!).

Anyway, coming back, chaat was observed on the board and my eyes lit up for a second. Just for a second. Then, they went back to their usual serene self! It was lime corn chaat. Shit on Toast. Visually.

We looked some more and did spot this promising heading on the board above the food counter. We rushed forward squinting hard at the letters written in the wrong colour scheme. All to no avail. Chaat was available, but in the forms of Pani puri, Sev Puri, Dahi Puri and Bhel Puri. No Papri here. I almost made a vow to take back my vote for Bombay on the food stakes. Then I remembered a day in Delhi, when I craved squids.

I was feeling forlorn by the entire experience. The Girl and a few friends were having pani puri, which felt nice. I only had one choice left. Go to Bombay Blue.

Bombay Blue is an epitome of what can go wrong with Indian fast food. And how that doesn't stop any customers from coming in. It has a curious mix of dishes, from Lebanon to South of India to Mexico, all of which are strictly passable. However, it was the only place which offered a papri.

So, I didn't even bother looking for the menu, and I asked for the papri and a nachos with beans. Then, we got engrossed in our puzzles, which are a feature of the tablemats. I could spot 12 differences between two pictures and also found 7 of the 10 shapes starting with P in a jumble diagram. Then, the beans and nachos came. We ate.

Then, the moment of truth. A large bowl of curd with green and red chutney on top with a garnish of four thick chips on four corners of the bowl. The curd was okay, so was the chutney and the five pieces of tikki or cholley. However, there was no papri in it. Instead, the four thick chips, looking like threptin biscuits, were masquerading as some unmentionable thing.

It was a shady, ugly, distasteful, boondi raita with digestive biscuits. And they dared charge me for a Papri chaat. How I miss Delhi sometime?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Hafta nahin milega?

A bunch of bloggers meet up for a discussion on people and places, politics, business, Mumbai, music, technology, food, sports and every other thing in the world.

They select a corner of the cyberspace which has immense character, almost like the Fort area in Bombay but empty, like on Sundays. They decide to meet weekly.

Soon, however fate catches up with them. Sneaks up without giving a hint of what's in store. In the form of a rather pot-bellied policeman (might be an impostor, given how close he is to the stereotype), this long arm of the law disturbs their meeting.

In a gravely voice, the long arm says, "Time pass chal raha hai? Hafta nahin milega?"
The bloggers are forced to hand over the Hafta. Please read.

...One man's poison

I saw this on the first page of TOI Sunday edition,
"We got the dope right"
We said heroin, they said cocaine. They woke up Sunday morning, laughed and said we were wrong. We waited till evening, laughed and said they were wrong, all along. The other papers, the channels. All, except the Times of India. The only newspaper to tell you on Day One of the Mahajan-Maitra saga the party at 7, Safdarjung Road had tripped on heroin.

I woke up all right, with a start. However, I couldn't laugh. This is as pathetic as it gets.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Matchups I missed and one I didn't

I wished for...

Becker vs. Edberg in the Finals of the French Open
Brazil vs. Holland in the Finals of the Italia'90
France vs. Holland in the 2000 Euro Finals
India vs. Australia in the 1996 World Cup Cricket Finals in Lahore
AC Milan vs. Arsenal in 2006 Champion's League Final
Senna vs. Schumacher for a longer period of time


I got...
Dallas vs. Miami

Visualizing the arrangement of organs during coitus

My favourite moment in Hitchhikers Guide is when God sends his final message to his creation - "We apologise for the incovenience"

That's what the researchers told the participants in this study of sex in a MRI. Especially when the participants failed to stand up and deliver. In case you think that the link's not suitable for work, read -
"The tube in which the couple would have intercourse stood in a room next to a control room where the searchers were sitting behind the scanning console and screen. An improvised curtain covered the window between the two rooms, so the intercom was the only means of communication. Imaging was first done in a 1.5 Tesla Philips magnet system (Gyroscan S15) and later in a 1.5 Tesla magnet system from Siemens Vision. To increase the space in the tube, the table was removed: the internal diameter of the tube is then 50 cm. The participants were asked to lie with pelvises near the marked centre of the tube and not to move during imaging. After a preview, 10 mm thick sagittal images were taken with a half-Fourier acquisition single shot turbo SE T2 weighted pulse sequence (HASTE). The echo time was 64 ms, with a repetition time of 4.4 ms. With this fast acquisition technique, 11 slices of relatively good quality were obtained within 14 seconds."

The researchers say the experiment was only possible thanks to the availability of a drug called sildenafil. Of course.

Friday, June 02, 2006

How not to write an obituary?*

So, a person dies under unfortunate circumstances. He was not known much, so a ready-made obituary is not available. So, the news editor calls up five people who are in office and asks them to find out factoids which can be strung together quickly. The factoids have been strung together here (which means you have to read it before the following makes sense).

In fifteen minutes, the boys (in the figurative sense, as there's a woman known Sheela in there) show up.

Cheeku starts, "His known weakness was for good food, which made him overweight and diabetic..."
"That was the way he flourished in Mahajan's inner circle" said the editor.
"So, you are saying that in his small way he looked at the world of politics defiantly and differently", said Meeku, trying to synthesise.

Motu pointed to Maitra's penthouse in Surya Apartment at the tony Breach Candy area, through the window.
"Although media reports say he was not married, he cast a firm veil of secrecy over his life. This allowed him to be right behind his boss, extending a napkin if he sweated, and be seen running behind him with a water bottle."
"Let's just write that he was a fixer and knew before hand what his boss would ask for" said Meeku, again trying to synthesise.
"Let's write both," said the editor. "By the way, did he know something, most possibly about Pramod's investments, that made the plotter of his deadly tragedy uncomfortable?"
"Well, I don't know about that, but reportedly, he always delighted reporters with jokes on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi."

"If the forensic report establishes that Maitra's death was not because of food poisoning or because of a lethal combination of champagne and cocaine as is currently suspected, then the most important question to ask, and answer, would be, would someone try to eliminate him?" was the next question asked by Shaitan Lomri. It was too long-winded so the reporters moved on without even trying to answer.
The editor made a mental note to write that down as a question in the article.

"Didn't he claim that he was a journalist before he joined the BJP?", asked the editor again.
"Yes, he wanted to write a column for rediff.com on how to empower Indian youth. Maitra took to running an amateur magazine for youngsters" said Cheeku.
"So, you are saying yes. Well, write that also."
"No, I don't believe that he wanted to be a journalist. All his views were original." said Meeku.
"You want more proof. His e-mail was bibek.maitra@gmail.com (which will be defunct from today). He always asked his friends to forward him e-mails. What more can be more proof than this for someone who wants to be a journalist?", responded Cheeku with a conclusive air to himself.

"What about his personal life? We need something nice and evocative" asked the editor.
"Well, he loved taking his young friends to the Zodiac Grill, the expensive restaurant at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai...It is a matter of time when any other unknown weaknesses emerge." said Shaitan Lomri.
"Yes, evocative enough. Write that."

"Hey guys, isn't this too evocative also? Need some dumb and totally inane unconnected statements. Why don't we play the farthest away game**. Meeku, you start" said the editor.
"The New Delhi police has released three telephone numbers from where Moitra received calls just before his death on his mobile phone (9811068282)" ventured Meeku.
"His wit apart, he was quite brash and ruthless when he commented on Mahajan's critics in politics" said Cheeku
"Current BJP president Rajnath Singh was an interim arrangement" said Cheeku
"Bibek Biman Maitra, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Pramod Mahajan's secretary, is dead" said Shaitan, thus losing the game.

The editor looked displeased that only four random sentences were generated. However, he said that he can come up with others himself.
"In the end, what was his name again?"
"Well, Maitra wanted everyone to pronouce his name as Bibek, but journalists never learnt and stuck to Vivek" said Sheela (who was quiet till now), bringing the meeting to an end.

* I am assuming that an article capturing a man's achievements after his death can be broadly categorised as an obituary.
** The objective of the game is to speak totally unrelated sentences one after the other in double quick time. You can't repeat themes, proper nouns etc.

Update: More on the same (1) and (2) by two Bongs.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Can you get more regressive than Champak?

In a post describing his three childhood peeves, Corporate Whore (known these days for lots of free time that he spends commenting on my blog!) describes Champak thus:
It was filled with moral ridden stories which never evolved with time, except for the inclusion of modern gadgets like cell phones and thingummies. The names of the characters aimed for an irritatingly complete cuteness, with characteristics of each animal struggling to get itself incorporated in its name. Check these out, Meeku Monkey,Whitey Rabbit and Sweety Cuckoo. Cuckoo is sweet, Rabbit is white and a Monkey is of course meek, silly. And of course the main course of any Champak was Cheeku. By Das.
Well put. Adventures of Cheeku are here:
My parents had made me subscribe to Champak in school to improve my Hindi. I don't know whether that objective was met (or even if it did, whether Champak made any difference). However, I do realise now that nothing about Champak stays in memory. I still remember the Rovers-er Roy from a Bengali magazine (forget the name) and Supandi and Shikari Shambhu from Tinkle, but Champak, it's all gone.
Then, suddenly, fifteen days back, at a dentist, I chanced upon Champak again. It was meant for the kids to help distract them from the minor pain of the operations. I happened to glance through some of the stories and found out why exactly I didn't like the stories and why none of them are memorable.

No, it wasn't the moralising, it wasn't the cuteness, it wasn't even the creative names. Instead, it was the fact that all of the stories were boring.

The stories were either a copy of Aesop's Fables (in which case, denizens of a forest will run around because the sky is falling on their head), or an inspired telling of the same story (in which case, nobody will believe Meeku Monkey who is running around because the sky is falling on his head) or a modern-day interpretation (in which case, 22nd century robots will be trying to scare baby Pinky, who will get together with her pet Robu, when the sky is falling on their heads).

Champak was like Anu Malik getting inspired by his own music, twice over in every issue. It was as insightful as hearing Sanjay Manjrekar comment on ODIs and not even tenth as interesting. It was as happening as my life on a Friday night.

Having said that, I probably didn't realise the import of stories like the one where Do, Re, Mi fight against Rock and Rap (do check it out).

Wikipedia does say that,"The magazine does not pass off adult folk tales as stories for children. ...The magazine has carried picture strories on Cheeku for years...". Hence, in case you are tired of adult R-rated folk tales in the magazines you get or you want picture stories of Cheeku, please go to the official site and buy a copy.

Incidentally, coming back to the answer to the question I posed - according to Corp Whore, you can.

 
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