Friday, March 31, 2006

Looking around while blowing bubbles in a coke

My dad lands here this evening and I have my convocation tomorrow . You know , I thought I shall write something with a 'puraani jeans aur guitar' ,'nostalgia ho raha hai mamu' theme just before I leave this campus , but I really do not want to dwell on that right now.

Recently , due to some unexplained celestial movements and a friend with no regard for punctuality , I found myself in a pizza hut with nothing to do over the next half an hour . I settled down at a corner table , plugged in my headphones , ordered a little something and casually looked around . Being an MBA , I have to develop this inborn tendency to analyse a sneeze , so I used that half an hour to categorise the type of crowd that visits Pizza hut.

1.The loud and happy "hum saath saath hain" family

With ekta kapoor and her silk pallu - scorpion bindi-saas murdering brigade of women , this breed is soon going to be listed with the "Akhil Bhartiya endangered species protection board" , just below the zimbabwean gold faced owl . Everybody looks happy here . Daddy jee jokes with the kids and makes funny faces at them . Mummy jee is satisfied as pappa jee just convinced her the lipstick marks she found on his shirt was mosquito blood . Kids are happy because they know that in spite of their dad making stupid and outrageous faces at them , he is going to order ice cream after pizzaz and garlic bread . The kids are allowed to push their fingers in their noses and run off to show what they pulled out to the couple seated at the next table . The eating is ruthless and this is one of the more noisy tables of the hut . In case it is a joint family , frequent peals of laughter accompanied by table slapping is evident . In case it is a sardaar joint family , frequent peals of roaring laughter accompanied by table upturning slapping is evident.

2. The coochie coochie "Kuch Kuch hota hain" couple

Now this is the karan johar sponsored couple which is usually a boyfriend-girlfriend combo pack. Just married couple who are yet to fall in the where-is-my-shirt-you-pick-kids-from-school' trap of married life may also qualify.

They prefer to sit in remote corners of the hut , well hidden by flowerpots or pillars , leading to problems for waiters who have trouble finding them . They sit as close as siamese twins , may eat from the same plate ( rather unhygeinic) and the only time their hands are not holding each other's body parts is when they are holding spoons or forks . They don't laugh the typical 'balwant-singh-chappar-faad-ke' brand of loaring laughter. It is more like twittering accompanied by whispering into ears . In short , both of them are in complete bliss . For the girl , bliss ends when daddy finds out his daughter has been visiting pizza hut instead of the maths tutions . For the guy , bliss ends much earlier , when the waiter brings the bill.

3. The "shehar ki ladki" tribe

The table which challenges every sound barrier with its shrieking and excited occupants . High school girls maybe . Even college girls , if they are slightly low on maturity . Usually , there is an occasion , which usually , is the birthday of one of those ladies . Shrill and sharp pizza-toppling cries of 'wowwwwwwwwwwwwww' , 'Howww chweeeeeeeeeeeet', 'Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww' escape from this gang . A lot of ribbons , gifts and greeting cards may also be passed around , leading to delight of the birthday girl and a certain archies gallery owner. Noise levels , boy's interest in pizza hut and daddy's credit card expenses rise dramatically due to this set of young women.

4. The "kya kool hai hum" boys.

This is the symmetrical opposite of category 3 above . But boys being boys , the sounds they emit are much less shrill and much more unrestrained in terms of their colorful vocabulary . 'Abbe ****** , pizza kaunsa mangwaye?' , 'Ganguly to G**** hain' , '**** ***' , 'Check her out' , 'Pooja se baat karun kya?' are some examples suitable for an under 18 audience . Their table manners are in urgent need of upgradation and cleaning these tables is the kind of work responsible for salary hike demands by Pizza Hut Waiters Union . Any delay in getting the food on table may lead to heated reactions by these boys , unless there is enough of category 3 around to keep their minds off food . The payment is the most tense and crucial moment , when frequent references to previous 'saale-tujhe-mere-200-dene-hai-pehle-ke' lendings are made.

5. The "na tum bolo na hum" couple

I am really confused about this variety.I mean , if a man and a woman don't want to talk , what kinda gunpoint threat got them together at pizza hut ? But I have always noticed the table as silent as a graveyard occupied by a couple who look as close as kabul and barbados. These people avoid eye contact with each other , smile with the comfort of a nun in a nightclub and keep looking out of the nearest window with the classical philosphical expression . The most elaborate conversations they strike up are about the temperature of the soup , which last for about thirteen seconds , including the sighs and coughs.

6. The 'tanha tanha yahan pe jeena' organism

Primarily , these are people in wait for their friends/girlfriends/boyfriends/blind dates/dates who can see . The waiters eye them suspiciously , clearly distressed by the person's sipping a single coke over the last forty minutes . The fellow passes his time by sipping the drink with the hurry of a super slow motion vision stump camera , blows bubbles in the glass , spends time by memorising every name in the menu card , or just looking at other people.

Yeah , there are other species too , but right now , I need to catch the India-England match and then I need to pack my bags and I need to burn all the movies and music and pictures on CDs . I fly off to home soon , and this is probably my last post from this untidy , unkempt room at New Hostel , IIM Calcutta .I am gonna miss some people , and they know who they are. But then , every end is a beginning of something new , and nothing lasts , which is one of the fundamental truths of life . I may leave this place and the friends I made here , but the memories shall remain . And I know I have to talk about these people and these experiences , but in my current state of mind , my immediate thoughts are about the CD of 'Tom n Jerry' I need to copy from Nishant .Hata saawan ki ghata and chill maar yaar . Life is good.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Pachycephalous ka naam Pachycephalous kyun hain ?

Yeh hai IIM C ka Dramatics Cell . I am the guy with the yellow arrow near his chin . I was the light boy ( I called myself Illumination manager ) for English play and played the role of a tomato plant in the Hindi play. Ok , majjaking , I played the role of a normal homo sapien in the hindi play . Completely unrelated bakwaas ahead.


Since the day I got placed , I have been going around Calcutta with the desperation of a postman . That's pretty natural when I have access to time ( MBA over hai pappa !) and money ( job lag gayi na pappa !) . So I thought it would be another day involving hot pizzaz , ice tea , smiling at Pizza Hut girls , metro rides , garlic bread , a movie maybe , a lot of joking and careless talk when I met up with a friend as a part of my "Main-delhi-ja-raha-hun-mil-le" process.

"Abbe oye , let us go to Pizza Hut."

"Nah , we are going to Science City."

Science City ? I had sudden flashes of NCERT books , water cycle diagrams , beakers , a resounding zero in a particular class 7 physics test , and the reproductive system diagrams we used to look at with interest and confusion as young boys . Science City ? I confirmed , half hoping it would be 'signs' city atleast , something more removed from water cycles . Nopey dopey , Science City it was . Mild protests from my side , including a sigh longer than Shoaib Akhtar's run up and a self immolation threat were conveniently ignored and we hopped into a cab to head for Science City .

Now , just the look of the place is enough to send one into bouts of serious introspection over the utility of your being alive if you are not a scientist . A planeterium with a shape so complex an average guy would spend a major part of the year searching for its entrance . Trollies move across hanging from high cables . One of the buildings is in the shape of a Huge Dinosaur where people enter through its mouth and exit from the , well , umm , the opening meant to emit stools I guess ( not the stool you sit on ) , given my rather limited knowledge of dinosaurs and their shitting process .

One of the first things we hit was the mirror maze . It is this hall where we enter a maze made of mirror walls . If I have to compare it to a very filmy concept , its like the proverbial "Jurm ka daldal" , jahan log aate to apne marzi se hain , but wapis nahi jaa paate ( add the wicked laugh yourself ) . We spent quite some time trying to get out of there , but kept running into deadends and walking into mirrors . What with so many mirrors around me , I was surrounded by atleast four specimens of myself at any time , which is real terrible and un-photogenic company to be with . After a lot of yelling "abbe left le yahan se !" , "Uee ma , yeh to wahin aa gaye" , "Bhai sahab , bahar kaunsi sadak jayegi ?" , we managed to find our way out . I have never been so glad to not see me .

Then she took me to the Space Theatre . I took the tickets from the counter and the counter guy said "4 baje ka show hain". I half wanted to ask him "Heroine kaun hai dada ? " followed by a sly wink , but considering the name "space theatre" did not exactly smell of a traditional bollywood movie with its share of skin and blood , I dropped the idea . I don't know what happens to you , but my intestines twisted in a desperate sigh when the big screen burnt bright with a huge "Dr.James Kuch-to-tha presents - SEASONS. " For the next thirty minutes , Dr.James Jo-tha-woh-kyun-tha showered us with gyan on why seasons change and why winter comes after autumn and why polar bears have a lot of fur . Thankfully , my 'science-is-fun' friend tore open a pack of chocolate covered cashews , which was blissfully munched upon by me while extremely disturbingly close pics of grasshoppers and their mating habits were explained in detail by Dr.James Jo-bhi-tha-accha-hua-ab-nahi-hai .

We came out and I was determined to do something more human and routine this time around . I suggested we buy ice creams and enjoy them sitting on one of the benches lining the lawn. "Arre nahi munnu , time nahi hain , 3D show shuru hone wala hain !". Before I could run away and seek solace in the ice cream wallah's arms , I found myself sitting in a dark hall with a blank screen before me . A guy who had the "kya-re-tu-bhee-ban-gaya-murga" smirk came in and handed us big plastic glasses which were supposed to create 3D images out of a flat screen . In five minutes , the hall resembled a blind school classroom , though my personal opinion remains I looked more like a 1970-ish-Rajesh Khanna and Raamdulari did not look like a 1970-ish Dimple Kapadia in those oversized plastic goggles . A lot of skulls and snakes and rats jumped out at us from the screen and the kid sitting a couple of seats to my left screamed every time that happened . Now I really like kids . So much that in spite of my latest plan to never get married , I intend to adopt a boy or maybe go in for a test tube baby where my kid will be born in a laboratory amongst a lot of beakers and apparatus with scientists shouting "eureka" instead of the boring "ladka hua hain". So as the crowd filed out , the chacha Nehru in my woke up and I patted the little kid on his head , raised my eyebrows till they touched the back of my neck and said in the most round mouthed bengali I could imagine "Majo aabo ?" ( My imagined bengali for "Had fun ?") . The kid gave me a look reserved for a guy in immediate need of a plastic surgery and a 15-day bengali speaking course and walked away . I tried to salvage some pride by smuggling out the plastic goggles but even that was thwarted by the alert bengali public.

We also had a ride in a toy train where we had to wave down the train and get on it . We went into that dinosaur shaped building through its mouth lined by yellowed sharp teeth which suggested Mommy Dinosaur did not know of Pepsodent at all . Inside the entire evolution thing was depicted by way of dinosaur models which moved , growled , burped and if that was not a speaker placed at the wrong place , farted . My friend explained why Pachycephalous was called that , which effortlessly lapped up the best 'oh-yeah-yawn-im-listening-yawn' moment of the day' award . Towards the later part of the day , we even walked around the Fish house where we saw a lot of fish. One of the fish was called Tiger Fish . My friend told me it was a cross between a tiger and a fish . The next tank contained Horse Fish and the one next to it had crocodile fish . I extended the "tiger fish=cross between tiger and fish" logic to all of these and gasped at the extent of fish community's loose character suggested by it .

But to be honest , all in all , I look back at the day with a lot of fondness and warmth. I have been to Pizza Hut , Inox , Tangerine , Teej and a lot of other bustling places over the last week , but to have a day at the science city with a close buddy had an unassuming beauty of its own . Even if such places look a little nerdy , I walked away with a feeling of comfort and warmth no multiplex or mall evokes in me . Maybe it's just because when I was a kid , Dad used to take me to the Nehru Planetorium in Delhi and we used to sit in the theatre and he used to point out milky way and the constellations to me while me and my sister fought over less celestial things such as popcorn.Even if there are no bowling alleys and no dolby sound four screen theatres around , sipping a simple ice tea while sitting on a bench on a breezy evening seems a lot more relaxing to me .Even if there were not many eyeliner-gloss-lipstick types girls around , I did learn why Pachycephalous is called that.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Heartfelt thanks.

There are some moments when you move on from one page to the next one in your life book . Like when I was a baby who had to crawl under tables and skirts to move around , I was on the page titled 'My life as a crawling person ' , however creepy that may sound . Then one day my parents had this Maneka Gandhi-ian brainwave and they took me to the delhi zoo .They took me to the various enclosures .They decided to take a break in the lawn right outside the camel's enclosure .So my ma spread out a sheet on the grass and put me down as she took out the stuff she had cooked for lunch.While she looked around in the bag , I checked out the camel , had a surge of some real wild baby hormone , and took my first steps ever .My ma let out a chuckle in surprise and let go of my hand .My dad clicked this .So the page titled 'My life as a person who can walk' starts with a photograph of me with the 'Doctor ! Main chal sakta hun !' expression on my face staggering towards a camel who has the perfect 'I don't care about your walking , kid . I am real constipated' expression on its face .

In the same way , yesterday I switched over from the page titled 'My life as an unemployed youth with a huge affinity to the ATM card provided by Dad and considering an alternate career in terrorism' to the page with the topic 'My life as an employed youth with zero formal dressing sense and still a rather strong affinity to the ATM card provided by Dad'.

You know , this is the problem with guys like me.

I need to go to the toilet but I don't say 'Excuse me' and go away . Instead I start with a story about the time when a two year old me pissed in my aunt's lap so hard she almost suffered from multiple thigh fractures .Then I continue to talk about my aunt and her husband who worked in NASA and somehow the entire talk ends in stuff like 'Is there life outside earth' and I completely forget that I need to go to the toilet . So I will rephrase all that I have so stupidly said - I got a job at ITC Limited . I think I got into one of the bigger and better companies with a strong marketing involvement , which is in line with my goals .

A real thanks to all the people who left the good luck messages on this blog , or dropped offliners or mailed me for the same .I really wish I could compress some kinda treat into a zip file and mail it to all of you and you could download it and double click on it to find it's a virus actually. Nah , sacchi , more than the job , this post is about being grateful to all those people who had the wonderfully nice hearts to wish me luck .There have been some very special people who kept me going - and these people know how much it means to me .

Anyways , so what faces me are last 12 days at IIM C with not much to do except burn all the pictures and movies and music on CDs and burn all the books in the hot and actual sense . Since the ITC headquarters are at Calcutta , I shall be coming back to this city again .

I would really like to thank you guys for listening to stuff as weird as Lux chocolate variant over the stay I have had at IIM -C . Infact that reminds me , someone actually mailed me saying that I have always been spelling 'weird' as 'wierd' on this blog .I actually thought it was 'wierd' , which reflects on my spelling skills in a rather weird light .

I have been typing all this stuff over the last 20 minutes or so while sitting on my bed and I haven't got out of it since waking up this morning .So now I need to get out and brush my teeth.Between , it makes me remember the time I was on a train and I had no toothpaste and had to borrow it from this lovely girl and how we got talking about Toothpastes and dental structures and how she thought Kashmiris have better teeth due to all the apples they eat how that led us to the Kashmir Issue and Pakistan's role in it ....Uee ma , here I go again with my random thoughts .

I need to brush my teeth .I just need to shut up.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Of sanskrit teachers , a great game , and selling CDs

Well , there are some things that remind you of some people . There was this sanskrit teacher who slapped me real hard in class VII . And it wasn't a slap in the traditional sense . She actually rained slaps like she wanted to slap my face into a chapati .Left.Right.Left.Right.So whenever I think 'slap' , I think 'Sanskrit teacher and a packed class watching me in pity'.
And I just discovered this. I am shaken to see so many ladies recount what they went through . I find myself thinking of my sister , female friends , cousions , and I am sickened by the thought that they may have their stories too. It must be so tough being a girl . Living a normal day as a girl . When just walking down a street is a fight to protect oneself .A simple trip in a public bus is fraught with violations .When simply being a woman is an invitation .And the worst part is that I don't see how anything can change .

In more real and terrific news , to the utter wonder of almost everyone except my parents , teachers and other people aware of my intellectual capabilities , I am still unemployed . At the end of the first day of placements , a TV channel van came over to the campus . Those guys filmed the students with perfectly formed teeth and high grades and glorious job offers in London and Hong Kong and telecast it to homes around the nation , including my aunt's in Indore and another aunt's in Patiala . So aunts and uncles who talked to me sometime when Jesus Christ was still a kid are calling me up and deeply regretting the fact that I am jobless in spite of being at IIM Calcutta . To keep their wonder meters going , I tell them I still have chances at a firm which is into painting traffic signs.

Infact I have applied to 40 companies . 34 of them are yet to visit the campus. Hopefully , the curious calls will subside the moment I get placed in one of them . Some folks understand that the entire placement thing is a process which lasts longer than a pulse polio advertisement . But the moment some people see the words IIM and placements together in a newspaper , they imagine me in a sleek and black business suit attending boardroom meetings in a glass building at New York and playing snooker over rounds of martini after office . But that's all right. In a land where some fifty year old man with fat enough to inspire 500 kilometers of jogging tracks , can yell "Gadhe ko khelna nahi ata !" at a shot played by Sachin on TV , any other misconception is almost negligble . But this entire placements process is something which is much beyond the screaming headlines read by people over cups of coffee . Some other time.

And if you thought the first day first show audience of Neal and Nikki was the unluckiest bunch of homo sapiens ever , change that to the bowlers community of Australia and South Africa.The most unbelievable game which could have made a lamp post scream out in excitement .

Have got the entire game highlights on my disk.If I don't land a job soon , am gonna burn the game on CDs and sell them at Palika Bazar in Delhi .That should earn me enough to send my kids to a decent english medium school with no sanskrit teachers around. Much better than painting 'Slow down , school ahead' road signs for a living .

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Cold and beautiful

Personally , I don't like dark things , except Nandita das maybe . I know people have problems , but reading about them leaves me depressed and suicidal .So I don't really like poems about heartbreaks and music videos like "Accha Sila Diya" and movies where people have some type of cancer .I like funny stuff like watching Ganguly bat or reading my college gradesheets.However , sometimes I come across stuff which is dark , but in a consuming way . Something which is about death , yet very alive in its intensity. Something which is so brutally cold , that it just grips you.

When I was a kid , I went to a toy store with my dad and when he asked what I wanted , I pointed at the ugly guy who was a helper at the shop.So my tastes actually suck.But whatever , I loved this article :


Also , I hope I find a job soon . I am not really in an emotionally relaxed and free state these days . I haven't watched a movie over the last four days and haven't even replied to the nice people with a lot of time to waste who left comments on the last post .My career is at an amusingly crucial stage and my mental state , though relatively cool , compares well with a father of seven who has just been fired from his job , robbed on his way back , and informed of his wife's next pregnancy on getting home . I hope to get back with some good news soon.