Wednesday, July 29, 2009

You know you have landed in Delhi when...

  • The last disciplined and synchronized activity you see will be the seat belts coming off before the airplane has made a complete halt and mobile phones buzzing to life before the aircraft doors have been opened.
  • The sullen guy at the "pre-paid taxi" counter repeatedly mispronounces your name the way only a Haryanvi jat can.
  • You see taxi drivers soliciting the "long distance sawaari" from the 20 odd passengers whose trolleys are bumper to bumper, lest someone cut the precious queue.
  • When you hear more abuses laced sentences in 10 mins than you heard in the last 10 days. (this is the part when the glamour from "kabhi pyaar mein gaali deta hai" from Delhi-6 comes undone)
  • You have every reason to believe the taxi driver when he narrates the grand conspiracy theory which implicates the guards who allocate taxis to passengers, the cops who book those who won't pay the guards and the drivers who pay the guards to get the more lucrative passengers.
  • You can't quite decide on what is causing you greater trauma- the sound of 100 horns trying to beat each other at the game of cacophony or the sight of seemingly every other man who thinks that scratching self in public is as natural as breathing.
  • You marvel in disbelief at how wide the roads are compared to the excuses Mumbai commutes on.
  • You hear the punjabi on the streets, in the neighbourhood and on the radio station and realize how much you missed it.
  • You see fat aunties typified by dripping diamonds and still haggling with the kabaadi for 5 bucks.
  • Talking to old friends and discussing old favorites such as PVR, Big Chill and Flavors is about the only important and urgent thing in the world.
  • You are home and wonder why you left.
  • You read about water shortages, electricity problems, 20 rapes, some dozen robberies, water logged roads, cracks in bridges- all in the same day.
  • You wonder when you'll ever truly return.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

If you hate FB, this one's just for you!

In the last few days, I've heard too many rants against Facebook-on how it is completely stupid and how people are wasting time updating status messages and playing dumb games etc.
Truth be told, I'm a regular and frequent Facebook user- the kind who update their status prob once a day and are thankful to FB for reminding them of friends' birthdays, the kind who don't take stupid quizzes and who ignore all application requests, the kind who like the fact that FB has brought distant friends back in touch and their life's experiences closer through photographs.
The following is dedicated to the Facebook haters and their myriad reasons.
If you dislike the concept of social networking and people spending time as per their choice, well, you might be better off taking up another cause instead of getting millions of people to change their minds.
If you can't stand others updating their status message, please get a little savvy and open your eyes to a feature called "Hide"- hide that user or your entire friend list. If you don't really want to know what a friend is upto or are irritated by all the fun he/she is having- well, maybe that person does not really belong in your friend account. Also, if you continue to read the status updates and yet keep complaining, you are either hypocritical or just plain lazy.
If you are concerned about lack of privacy, please use the security settings and allow access to your profile, info and pics only to individuals you trust enough or don't put them up in the first place.
If someone is stalking you, block them and report abuse.
If you don't like the idea of the whole world reading your message to a friend, don't leave a wall post-send them a private message instead.
If you think your kids are going crazy over FB, well, monitor, screen, filter- in the same way that you do for other internet sites, mobile phones etc. A good measure of judgment, advice and trust should work, right? And in any case, no matter what you do, the next generation will find ways of beating your system. Getting yourself familiar with new means of communication will only help you assess benefits or damage better.
If you think FB is making mails and calls obsolete, you might find your thoughts resonating with those who said the TV would make print obsolete- different methods of communication can co-exist, especially if they serve different purposes!
If you can't bear FB, close the account and bid adieu- there are millions of users and one less is not going to hurt anyone. Least of all, you. If you are on the site, you are choosing to click-unless, someone is holding a gun to your head and insist that you get socially connected. If they are, you should consider getting help.
Facebook is not perfect- there are way too many weirdos sending you friendship requests. Traditionally strong lines between work and fun, business and pleasure, family and friends are getting blurred. Tweens and teens are getting seriously affected by the site which make them measure self worth in terms of their friends lists and number of wall posts. People are getting obsessed with doing things just so they can report on them through their status updates. And yes, it's surprisingly easy to take the cleverly constructed mirage of a good life for reality.
But then guess how real life is turning out? Our communities, our groups and our social networking sites are only a reflection of how society is evolving. You can either sit in the corner and sulk because no one told you the world is changing or you could be out there, recognizing teh change and and trying to adapting to it. The choice between denial and participation will always be yours.
In short, if you don't like facebook or the other social networking sites- stop whining, stay away and let others FB in peace. While on your way out, please collect the winner's goody bag-it contains a typewriter, a gramophone and a VCR. The committe had recommended a laptop, an Ipod and a blu ray player, but then we thought obsolete might suit you better.
ps- If you hate Orkut, I don't blame you. The site sucks :P The ratio of losers: decent junta on that site crossed the permissible limit roughly 1.5 years back.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Leap

So there's this list that I made at the start of the year- stuff to do before I turn 30.
I made the list in January and the opportunity for that first tick came in... January! After which there was a lull- at least with respect to the list. And then I lost the list-sure I retained about 40% of the items in my head but a list pruned down by half aint good enough and I couldn't just make a new list. So I searched high and low and then gave up and then almost as always, the list turned up when I was looking for a completely different thing. So the resurfacing of the list is going to be marked by a record of that first tick on the blog and by active efforts in accomplishing the other 29 things on that list.
The list is not known to anyone but myself and this is by design. Most of the items are in my control. There are some that relate to others- family and friends. Some of it is plain outrageous stuff which does lead me to question my state of mind when writing that list, 6 months back. But well, the ink is spilt on the paper and it is nothing but my mortal duty to obey the letter. It promises to be fun :)
Oh yes and here is proof of accomplishment of my first task- The Bungee Jump!!!
Kawarau Bridge, New Zealand
There are those who hesitate; those who look to the familiar face in the crowd for support; those who succeed a person who broke down and gave up; those who follow a person who swoops down like an eagle; those who scream their lungs out and then there are others who do all of the above. But it does not matter because once you have fought every cell of your body which is telling you not to jump, braved a height of 43m and just walked off the ledge after saying " Dammit. I can do this"..... you'll still be mighty hilarious to the crowds who take pleasure in hearing you scream "Help me" after the jump's done and as you are about to be brought down into the boat. That the crowds who witnessed the moment of truth include the husband, who made for an elegant jumper (in the words of the AJ Hackett folks) and who by the way, also recorded all of this on video, do not help the respectful cause of bragging rights.
What was funnier thought was the family reaction:
My mom: "You shouldn't do insane stuff like this."
My brother: "Did your contacts not fall out?" (yes- that is the first thing he asked me)
My brother again: " Be careful" ( this is after I've done the bungee yeah?)
Would I do it again? The adrenaline rush is completely worth it and I have a very persuasive adventure buff for a spouse-but at my core, I'm a scaredy cat who can be described as risk averse. So the short answer is, I don't know. The fact that I'm willing to consider doing another bungee, in itself marks a significant improvement over the "me" of past.
Here's to 29 more such life improving measures.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Happiness is...

.....staring out of the window watching little drops of rain bring out the true green of the leaves.
.....reading his mind and being halfway through the preparations for pakoras and tea and meeting the request with a triumphant and knowing smile.
....treating the senses to the sputter of the batter in the fiery oil, to the ascending aroma of the spices and to the tone less high pitch mix of shrieks and mercilessly wronged lyrics of a popular song.
....the division of duties between the two which sounds better as a concept than in practice.
....ending up with dark-as-devil tea because the chemical engineer ran out of milk but yet decided to throw in half the tea container into the brew.
....presenting the pretty plate of fattening fritters complete with ketchup and serviettes
....playing Scrabble with the left hand coz the right one's too busy supplying mouth with pakoras.
....whipping the self proclaimed champion's ass so badly that he scrambles the board at the end so you can't take score.
I'm a superhero and my secret power is winning at Scrabble while eating pakoras when its raining outside.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Pappu pass hua

This news release is accompanied by much joy and pride, as also the realization that mugging up for exams is my core competence. I've passed the basic theory test- the first step in getting myself a Singapore driving license. That the test was completed in 12 mins and that it followed only 2-3 days of random prep are facts that I put here only because today they seem brag worthy.
I will shatter this illusion of genius that 1% of people reading this might be veering towards, by producing one question from the test that cracked me up:
On approaching a zebra crossing, you would:
a) speed up before any pedestrians appear
b) Slow down and check for any pedestrians
c) slow down and let the zebra cross

The other questions were tougher. Ok? :P Wipe off that grin now :)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Jaws like that

It began as a mild discomfort near my right ear and jaw-something that I could dismiss and yet get on with life and sundry socializing. However by Sunday night, it had outgrown its discomfort status and assumed the bigger role of minor pain- at least one that ensured that I couldn't sleep on my right side.
By Monday morning, it seemed like a small mutiny by my facial bones, nerves and muscles that led to a sorry swelling around the joint which further gave way to immense pain as I struggled to chew breakfast.
The situation was dire enough to warrant a call to the beloved hospital whose sole redeeming factor is the proximity to office (it's just across the road).
Frantic me: "Could I get an appointment with the ENT specialist?"
Dorky girl: " Wait aa". " Let me check for you"
FM: .......
DG: " But let me check with you first....what is wrong with you?
FM: *a variety of things could fit in as appropriate answers* " You mean why I need an appointment?" I went ahead and described the pain etc.
DG: "So what is your diagnosis?"
FM: ???!!!! * at this point DG became Exasperating Girl. If I knew how to diagnose, I'd attached a Dr in front of my name and not waste my time on the call, yeah?* " I don't know why or what has caused this but I am interested in curing this and which is why I need the appointment"
EG: " Ok aaaa. Let me check for you"
FM: ........*are they measured on how many times they repeat this phrase during the day?"
EG:" There is no appointment for today. Tomorrow can?"
FM: No- there's too much pain- I need to see a doc today- what do you suggest?
EG: " Then you can go to the A&E department"
FM: "What's A&E?"
EG: "Accidents and Emergencies department"
FM: "Are you sure? Isn't that for more serious cases?"
EG: "It's ok lah. It's 24 hours. You'll get to see a doctor."
FM: "Ok then. Thanks." *for nothing?*
So that was how I landed up at the emergency department of this hospital. Now, unless you've been on a space mission or something, you would know that this is possibly the worst time to visit a hospital- especially if you sneeze every now and then and have also been overseas in the past 7 days. The swine flu precautions meant that at least 4 different people checked on my travel history, my temperature, my flight number, my address, my contact number and every other piece of information that I could reveal through my miserable jaw. I almost got sent to the communicable diseases centre coz of a mild sneeze- it was only after I assured the nurse that this was just a silly dust allergy that she finally asked me to go wait inside for someone to attend to me.
And so I waited, feeling rather guilty- there were old folks on wheelchairs, some people on stretchers, but for most part, the place was rather empty- sure, there were others who seemed quite all right but by sheer glance condemned me for infringing my undeserving ass on what was rightfully, an emergency chair. To prove that I belonged, I started wincing a bit and also made intermittent gestures to support my jaw. Truth be told, it was paining but since there was no obvious external injury- I felt quite unqualified to be sitting there. Thankfully, the nurse yelled out a nice distortion of my name and I proceeded to volunteer more information while my BP was checked. The funniest question was " What is the degree of your pain"- it was a 10 smiley scale which went from a sheepish zero for "None" to a wailing 10 for "Intense". I debated and judged my pain at a Mild 4.
I think that was a bad move- I had to wait another 30 minutes to see the doc, who spent all of 2 mins looking at my ears and referring me to an X-ray. Now the X-ray guy was obviously in need of some entertainment in life and since radiology is not exactly E!, he decided to amuse himself with specimens such as moi. Out of the 8 x-rays that he took, the last 4 deserve special mention. I had to lie down with one arm straight ahead, the other by my side,with my head looking up and my knee folded: all this for my jaw??- I really think they supply some of this footage to candid camera! In any case, after the 70 min wait, even I was in need of some entertainment- so I obliged.
Anyhow, 20 mins after the X-ray, the doc summoned me only to tell me that since he was no expert at ENT matters, he would prescribe some painkillers and try to get me an ENT appointment for the next day!
After a morning of pain and silly encounters, the prospect of sound sleep induced by painkillers can fill your mind with such joy! However, after 11 hours of sleep you don't really feel much except heavy disorientation. Sure the pain's gone but so is any sense of time or purpose.
I'm no closer to finding out how this silly pain started in the first place- I've been assured by a competent doctor (my mom) that this will go away in 2-3 days and that I should stop worrying.
The worst part is the impact this has had on the only happy constant of life- food- regular crunchy munchy food has become a bit of challenge- I've been asked to have only soft food- soup, porridge, khichdi, the likes. And so I veer between cerelac and mashed khichdi and my brain switches between infant and geriatric modes.
The one silver lining in sight is some unintentional weight loss that may occur as a result of this soft diet. Till then, it will be all bark, no bite. For the biatch in me, no respite. Jawly good, I say.