Thursday, April 25, 2013

Healthy habits 1 – Eating Healthy food!

Disclaimer: Please don’t read if you get grossed out quickly.

I am by and large healthy. Yes; I have had that occasional bout of cough and cold. But who doesn’t get that after gulping couple of family boxes of Spanish delight flavour Ice cream or a bottle of rum on a crate of ice with couple of big packs of Marlboro? I pride myself on eating a balanced diet; my breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper are of exactly same quantity. So it came as a surprise to me when my love announced that we are going to be eating healthy food now onwards. I picked up my jaw back from the floor and instead of my usual reply to all her statements “Sure” I squeaked “Why”?

             Now my 13 years of loving companionship should have taught me not to utter such useless words which question the wisdom of my knowledgeable companion (Don’t question the tag knowledgeable, she can tell what time it is by looking at the sun. On the other hand I have never been able to even make out the numbers.) But alas! The damage was done. This proves that she is right when she says I will never change.
I think out of compassion or maybe it was foresight of the horrors she was planning to unleash; she decided to indulge me. “Now that we are getting old we must be careful about what we eat and how it affects our health”. By then sense had prevailed and ignoring the inner voice which was asking me if she is getting old or we both are, I said “Sure”.

              I mean how hard can it be? Anyway I eat only healthy food. No Lays chips, no maggy noodle and definitely no coke. No Sir; no junk food, no pre-processed food items for me. I don’t even eat the chicken tikka until I am sure that the chicken was clucking till that morning and was only fed corn and not noodle or coke.

So we started!!

Breakfast - I got something which looked like we took chicken shit of a chicken which has loose motions; threw it in a plate, added some water and some scrapes from wall paint which keeps falling anyway and shook it around a lot....tried to flip it in air... collected the stuff that fell on floor and served it in the plate. I controlled my expressions with great effort and asked dispassionately if it is Museli. Not that I knew what is Museli; I had just heard the bouncer in our office (I think he is security officer or HR; or both) tell everyone that he only takes museli in breakfast. To my horror and my tormentor’s delight I was right. She even gave me one of those “Good Boy!!” looks which I give to my dog when he relieves himself on my neighbour’s porch in night and not mine. No problem; not for nothing have I been married for 8 years. I eat some; spill some and throw away the rest when she is not watching and head to office.

Lunch – Opened the box! Saw something which looked like a product of a wild orgy between a cucumber; a banana, two young onions and a Hyundai Santro. Ok; the Santro bit might be an exaggeration. Closed the box! No problem again, threw the contents, went to the Subway next to office, ordered two 97% fat free foot long. Added extra cheese, honey mustard and lots of mayonnaise and managed to satisfy the hunger demon. In case you are about to say too much!! Let me tell you that I have heard Subways are all about healthy food therefore the more I eat the healthier it is.

Dinner – I get a bowl full of dirty liquid. I don’t give up hope and upon closer inspection I find that it also had some semi liquid gooey stuff floating inside which looked like the innards of the grass that the neighbourhood cow must have spat back. Adding salt to injury is the love of my life who is relishing it and keeping a close eye on me. I somehow manage to drink\eat all of it while ensuring none of it touches my tongue and goes straight down the food pipe.

                Then I convince her that I must go for a night walk to better my health even further. To my horror she wants to accompany me but then sense prevails as her favourite soap opera sounds its starting siren\song. 

                 I get out in a relaxed manner; close the door and run for my life to the restaurant next door. Huffing and panting I ask the manager to give me healthy mutton biryani pronto! but he  refuses to oblige me. So I take whatever he is about to serve to the two aunties who were staring at me with wide eye horror stricken looks and start devouring it standing in a corner and Voila!!

                 The bells on the door chime and my wife appears below them. She goes straight to the manager and all I hear is “Mutton Biryani”!!!

             Time has passed since that day but now we both have understood and agreed that we need to try and eat healthy food as much as possible. So now we only eat normal 6 inch sub for breakfast; Alternate between Mutton and Chicken Keema for lunch and Kebabs for dinner. May we live long and keep eating healthy food! AMEN!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Travel Survival Tips - Part 1

Travel Tips – Part 1

Every once in a while we decide to travel. Typically this urge hits us while trying to find any program on television which can interest both me and my wife. (I have noticed that fulfilling this urge is much more simpler than finding a common interest program on TV.)

I have tried to analyze and understand the urge to travel but it still beats me. I mean; what sane person would like to leave the comfort of couch, countless television channels, home cooked food and want to explore new vistas, eat new cuisine, introduce new worms to intestines and have all other travel adventures which make you want to kiss your ugly neighbor when you see him after reaching back home.

Anyways having been bitten by the travel bug more than once; I am listing down the basic precautions\check points for a hassle free and smooth travel experience for your benefit. I am confident these will help you have a hassle free and comfortable travel experience and might even save you from almost certain death.

Get out of the plane if the planned route takes it over water: Have you heard of anyone whose plane crashed in water and they managed to survive by floating with the help of that orange life jacket. In case you didn’t notice not even the air hostesses trust that the jackets would function. Forget the air hostesses; even the manufacturers have a doubt on it. I am sure you remember the air hostesses saying “The jacket can be inflated by pulling this string HOWVER if it doesn’t inflate, use these two ends and blow air in it”. Imagine you falling from sky and surviving just to drown because you didn’t know how to give blowjob!!! Umm….. Sorry, I meant how to blow air in the damn thing.

Get off immediately after boarding if there are more than two kids on the plane: I know it sounds strange but trust me; those two kids are more than sufficient to make you feel you never left home and what’s worse, 99% chances are that they are even booked in the same hotel as you. And if you are thinking what’s the harm in them staying at the same hotel? I guess you haven’t enjoyed a bit of babysitting because the parents knew you from the plane.

Get off immediately after boarding if anyone is carrying a cow in the connecting shuttle\airway: My experience has taught me that if someone is carrying a cow, chances are very high that his seat will be just in front of you and you will wait at least for half an hour before he manages to stuff the cow in the overhead baggage compartment. The objections\explanation of the air hostess that the cow is not “check in luggage” don’t stand a chance in front of these determined travelers. I have seen people even complaining back to the airhostess about the size of aircraft and airline just because the front right foot of the cow was not able to go inside the overhead compartment.

 Get back in the plane if you see camels\cows\ostriches\endangered animal species outside after landing: They are asked to stand there just to entice you into thinking there are some wild ones left which you can see after landing. Trust me; I have been into tiger reserves, bison reserves, crocodile reserves and every other possible nature reserve. The only time you see the endangered animal is when you either land at the town airport or are about to enter the town by road and see the big statue of that animal right in front proclaiming the town as their home.

Learn how to read local language before going: I guess its self explanatory. Given the helpful nature of fellow Indians you don’t want to get into an area thinking it’s a park or zoo when actually it’s a waste disposal plant.

Never book online: Why take trouble when everything will still be screwed up. Unless you are influenced by Aamir Khan and want to take responsibility to educate everyone that online bookings are as good as real ones and you are entitled to the sea view room that you booked and not the one overlooking the backyard staff Ganesha temple.

Don’t get out of your hotel: Everything that is worth seeing in a place is usually photographed and small size souvenirs of it are kept in every hotel lobby which is worth anything. If you go out, you just get to see the same thing just a little bigger in size except the additional dirt, pollution and facing the non AC temperatures. I know you are getting your doubts on this list but tell me seriously, didn’t you feel happy when you saw the air-conditioned restaurant near the beach where you won’t sweat like a pig in heat.

Never Trust maps: Never buy any maps; and in case you still bought it only use it when sneezing. You might question my suggestion but let me remind you we are a developing country where many a times A) Road is on the map because the local MLA\MP has already taken funds for it and announced it as completed after taking delivery of his Merc from the money B) The name of the road was changed last week back to Talpade Bhujangarao Kabadiwala Road to honor the grandfather of the kabadiwala sitting at the corner who was arrested by the English for storing liquor whereas your map says something pointless like Curzon Road or something.

To be continued at a later date when the urge strikes back…..

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Last Laugh.

I must have slept for over 6 hours extending my afternoon nap to early evening but still when I was woken up rudely by constant slaps to my feet I felt a little irritated. The irritation went away the moment I saw the person trying to wake me up. It was Danish, my childhood buddy. I was seeing him probably after 9 or 10 years and was too shocked to show my surprise. Eventually all that came out of my mouth was some garbled response which was devoid of any meaning, but him being my closest buddy from school days he understood every word behind it. We hugged, laughed and tried to talk but with the emotions blocking every single word I guess for the first five or ten minutes all we did was to look at each other and laugh. I know it sounds very gay but heck; I did feel gay for those few moments.

Nevertheless the initial euphoria came down a bit, the moist eyes dried up again and we were able to start proper human conversation. There was so much to share; my life, my progress on social and organizational ladder, my love marriage, my kids, Danish’s life, his adventures abroad, his lifestyle etc. We didn’t even realize the existence of time as we talked and laughed and remembered the old jokes and only when the clock struck 11 did we realize that we have been chatting and living in memories for almost three hours. Maybe it was the time or maybe it was the topic of another close buddy we decided that we should go and meet him. I did pause for a minute to think if the time is appropriate but then another wave of old memories rushed in and carried away any sensible thoughts and we decided to go ahead and surprise him.

I remember there was slight chill in the breeze when we stepped out but it was the kind which felt pleasant especially after spending last few hours indoors. Our friend’s house was hardly a mile away so it felt like a natural decision when we just came out of house and instead of taking the car just continued in the general direction of his house. It’s only after half an hour I realized that I had forgotten the exact turns that we needed to take to reach his house. I remembered that earlier we used to take turns based on the different trees which stood at every corner of our small hill town but due to the dark moonless night and the slight fog all the trees had taken weirdest of shapes and did not help at all. We kept talking and taking every turn which came our way and roamed almost for another half hour. It was only when we reached the creaking wooden bridge that I got my bearings. This bridge was famous since our childhood days to be haunted but we had come to realize that nothing ever happened there except for the play of light and shadow through trees that made it spooky.

As we reached the middle of the bridge engrossed in our talks, we noticed this young man coming from the other side. He looked like one of those poor tribal people who used to work in nearby mines on minimum wages and were always drunk. He was carrying two bags which looked heavy and was trying to walk as fast as he could which made him limp in a sad way. When the man reached us Danish suddenly turned towards him and asked “Brother, where is the cemetery?”

The man suddenly jumped with surprise and dropped his bags. He looked so scared that I could see his eyes bulge out of the sockets. He yelled and suddenly turned around and started running back the way he was coming. I was confused. Not really sure of what happened when I realized Danish had played one of our early pranks again. It was the combination of the place, the moonless night and Danish’s voice which was always gruff, the man must have thought we are ghosts. The realization made me laugh so uncontrollably that I could hardly breathe. In between the fits of laughter I looked at Danish who looked very smug. Controlling my laughs a little I somehow managed to say “You rascal; You gave the poor man such a fright he wouldn’t be able to talk at least for a week and then will tell the whole world he saw ghosts”

“But he did see ghosts” replied Danish in a deadpan voice. “What do you mean” I asked. His face showed amazement and then understanding and he said softly “I am sorry Bud, I thought you would have realized by now that you died while sleeping today afternoon. After all from that time we have been floating and not walking”. I looked down and saw he was right, I couldn’t see anything below my waist. I was a shadow visible only from waist up. Yes; I was dead!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Better ego booster\Hobby?

For some time now I have been feeling restless and after deep thinking (The kind of thinking that you do in the bathroom in the morning after an insane night of binge drinking), I realized that the reason of this restlessness is that I don’t feel special any more.

You see, I have always had a feeling that I am special (Not “retarded – special” you dimwit!!). The knowledge of being special always gave a great boost to my ego and thus my confidence levels and lately I had been missing the feeling of being special.

I know I am digressing but I don’t want you to think of me as an arrogant prick when I declare myself special. I think it’s important that you should know that I was as uncomfortable accepting this fact as you are.

I came to accept the fact that I am special only after years and years of differential treatment given to me right from my childhood which continued in my formative years in school and college. I had always attempted to be an average kid however as you know life is unfair and I was always accorded a special status. At the beginning of each academic year, I remember choosing the middle benches to sit (In case you don’t know, those are the safest) and hardly a month would pass before I was found either standing in the corner of the classroom all the time or made to sit in front bench where the teachers could keep an eye on me all the time. In fact by the time I came to senior classes apparently my name was also included in new teacher’s orientation sessions. Thank god!! I was born with a positive frame of mind so I always took this differential treatment as a sign of me being special.

Lately this feeling was missing. I was doing exactly the same things that everyone around me was doing. Go to office, come home, play with kid, play with dog, be the dog, be the pig, sleep and again go back to office. I have a feeling that I might have mentioned something in my previous sentence which will have huge repercussion once I publish this but anyway I guess you get the idea of my life. I had become a lame duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame maybe from stepping on a landmine or something and I hated it.

As with all the problems that I face, I went to my wife with this one as well and the brilliant woman that she is, she had an immediate solution to it as well. “Get a hobby, which uses your creativity and makes you feel special”. Voila; it was as simple as that. All I had to do was to get a nice hobby. By now I am sure you know I am a methodical guy (In case you are one of the unfortunate souls who haven’t gone through my previous posts then I just made this discovery easy for you, isn’t it). So owing to my nature I have made a list of hobbies that I evaluated and discarded before selecting the final one. The one which made me feel special about myself, helped me brag and show others yet another quality of mine which they don’t have.

Bird Watching – Three different drawbacks here. One; what do you do once you have seen an exotic bird? Nothing, you just let it fly away so no tangible result to show off to anyone. I mean what will I tell my wife if she asked me what did I do for last 4 hours? You think she will accept the answer “bird watching” cheerfully?? Two; where do you go to watch these birds? All I see around my house is that stupidly grinning old black enemy of mine which keeps dropping the sticky gooey mess on my terrace right after I clean it. If I have to see the exotic ones I need to take lot of leaves and pay for lot of travel; both actions detrimental to my employment status as well as the meager savings I generate out of it. Three; How do you know if a bird is worth watching? By reading about them?? But here is the problem - I have never been able to read anything with an eye to benefit from the knowledge that it will yield. (Don’t trust me – ask me any question from any subject from 5th grade and ask me about any of the Spiderman’s adventures; you will see)

Dee-Jaying – I am not sure how it is spelt but I am sure you know that I am referring to the young dudes in the darkest corner of nightclubs who keep playing one fast number after the other with a crowd of girls and aunties swooning over them. Personally I never thought Dee-Jaying to be very creative. After all, I had done it on a just a little smaller scale during my roadside Romeo days. Yes, it wasn’t easy to select the right song with right lyrics and then time the playing of it to the crossing of my favorite girls through my street but heck, it wasn’t that tough either. Anyhoo, with this motivating thought I went to the DJ and asked if he could teach me to be one. It could be my unshaved beard with more salt than pepper in it, it could be my condescending tone or maybe, just maybe, it was my expression when he told his training fees and the cost of basic instruments; his face suddenly acquired that pensive artistic expression which can be best described just as a mixture of pity and irritation combined. I also got a sneaking feeling that he was trying to discourage me by quoting higher rates (C’mon; how costly two disc players can be from the double deck cassette player that I used) and being a firm believer of value for money concept I left the discussion there itself.

Photography – I am confident now that this hobby doesn’t need creativity and discarded it at the first glance itself. Today the basic idea of photography as I understood was to get yourself broke buyin a fancy camera (last I checked it was 150,000 INR for a nice camera and basic lenses), break your back carrying it and then wait for something nice to happen when you can turn the camera towards it in burst mode and pray that out of the 47 shots at least one should be able to get you a “Photo of the week” award on one of the thousands of photography sites where all they give you after winning is an online tag. Sorry bud! If I invest so much, the least I expect is that the damn thing should be able to carry itself and take pictures by itself. That’s not going to happen so clearly it’s not for me.

I evaluated many others hobbies as well but we will talk about my opinions on them later since those evaluations included me getting further reminded of my age, wages and tastes in life. Cutting a long story short, someone introduced me to blogging. Now here was a medium which of course needs creativity (Occasional INSPIRATIONS from other blogs not withstanding, needs absolutely no investment and suddenly brings you high up in the pseudo intellectual ladder so preferred in the cocktail party discussions. I can go on and on about the virtues of this medium however since I can hear my son screaming from the restroom asking me to come and clean him; lets save that for some other time.

Monday, October 17, 2011

IT, WAV and Sedi

I was looking at IT. IT was the only interesting thing around the patch of beach that I could see between the dull grey wall of the beach facing apartment and the rusted window grill of my neighbors’ balcony.

Looking at IT I realized IT was bored. Bored of looking at sunrise, bored of being trampled by folks who didn’t know ITs value, bored by the antics of the kids because there comes a time in everyone’s life when even a sweet thing such as a naughty kid doesn’t interest you. This was the kind of boredom which builds up on you like a sweaty summer afternoon when all you want to do is to do nothing.

Now you may ask what kind of name is IT? Well it’s simple; what kind of name is Dahl or Na or Eti, it’s a similar kind. We could have called it Parvati or Shiva, Arun or Aruna only if we were sure of if IT liked it but we know for a fact that IT also felt comfortable being called IT so we will also stick to IT.

So going back to IT; IT was bored and as it happens to everyone who is bored, I saw IT turning towards its long time friend WAV. Now don’t go about asking again what kind of name WAV is? You see all waves have their names given by the family head Ripple and the last time Ripple came in such hurry, just named this one wave WAV and went away. Now the rest of the family was a little afraid of the Ripple so they never called and clarified if the name was WAV or was it a joke and it just stuck to our WAV. Hope that satisfies your curiosity.

I heard IT asking WAV, “WAV, I am bored. Aren’t you? Every day I am your only constant companion and you are mine. Everyone else just comes and goes and we both just stay here looking at each other”

WAV said “Never, maybe you have forgotten how we came to be together but I haven’t. I still remember the time when I was an average wave of an average lake of an average small hill side town. Nobody ever came and looked at me longingly; no couples sat down just to stare at me and murmur sweet nothings in each other’s ears while I pretended not to notice and played around. Maybe because I was so small that I was always hidden behind the bigger waves or maybe because I used to hide behind the bigger waves so that the bigger waves don’t notice how shiny I was, how cold I was and how wet I was. “

Now these reasons may seem funny to you but it’s not funny I tell you. Have you ever got startled and found yourself face to face with a cold shiny wet wave. Colder and wetter than any wave you have ever known? I don’t think you have and so I know you wouldn’t know how cold and shiny and wet a wave can be.

“So there I was playing and minding my own business, shining perfectly when none of the bigger waves were looking my side and shining lesser when they did so that they continued to ignore me when I saw this squirrel coming along. Now mind you, I knew this squirrel; his name was Sedi. Sedi was no ordinary squirrel! It wasn’t one of the cute ones whom people look at and go all “Aww” and the kids try and play with. Sedi was a smaller but braver little squirrel and had fur in patches like the old watchman’s quilt which seems so warm on winter nights. Maybe every winter Sedi used to give some of its fur to the watchman but I never asked Sedi about it so I am not sure. You know how touchy squirrels are.

I liked Sedi, because Sedi was a traveler. Every time he came he used to tell me the stories of his travels, the sights he saw like the hills which were higher than the highest hill you have ever seen and the places where the only corner of earth you can see is a small little corner which was left behind just for the Tulsi plant for Grandma. This time Sedi looked more sullen and patchier than he ever was and I couldn’t help but ask him the reason and that’s when I first heard about you, IT. He told me that he saw you on his last travel and you looked so sad. He never thought a thing as big as you can ever look so sad. You see we are used to big things which look big and do brave big things and frown and smile but Sedi had never seen a thing as big as you and as sad as you. The moment I heard this I wanted to meet you and so I pleaded Sedi to take me to you.

Now you may not be able to imagine but what a tough journey it was for a small and cold wave like me. I came walking, I came hitchhiking and I came running. An even smaller part of me even would have gotten left behind stuck in the bushes if it wasn’t for the help of the good girl who brought it back to me on a small tea leaf. I know you wouldn’t believe but someday when we meet the big old cloud he will tell you. He was on the ground duty that day and saw me leaving my smaller part all alone and moving ahead and laughed at me so I know he will remember me. I even had to talk to the old park ranger who is always kind and he gave me lift on the bonnet of his jeep and drove slowly for my sake.

And that’s when we saw you; sitting here so sad and so lonely. I still remember Sedi running ahead and jumping straight on you. I still remember the whispered talk that Sedi had with you because others were watching and I Still remember your surprise when I told you that I came to see you and I still remember your face lighting up with joy so suddenly that it gave a fright to the poor old watchman who came running to see if you were all right. That joy was worth the journey and that’s when I decided to stay back with you. So to answer your question, am I bored looking at you? No I am not. I still can’t think of anything bigger which could look any more beautiful than you.”

I wouldn’t have noticed this talk had I not spoken to the watchman who had seen IT light up with joy the other day and then had seen IT talking also. I am sure even you have missed their talking as you drive by IT, WAV and Sedi every other day. It was the watchman who had told me that IT actually had another given name as well. People around me, my friends and the tourists who came from far and between called IT by its given name. “INS KURSURA

PS: I know this isn't my regular style of post, but thanks to inspiration from Baruk and motivation from Moumita, Prashant and Meeta i felt whethere its good or bad, It needs to go on the blog.
PPS: Dear Baruk - 5 PM IST to 3 AM IST is when i am alive. Dont remember me at other times.
PPPS: In case you are technically challenged like me and havent figured out yet who was IT, please click on the name INS KURSURA.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Of Families and moustaches!!

I belong to “Bihar”. My state is known for its rustic charm, straight forward language and clear definitions of masculinity. Now some might turn around the same points and say it’s under developed ,has abusive and harsh language and is full of male chauvinist pigs but as they say “To each its own”.

Few years back I was invited to attend my cousin brother’s marriage. This was pleasantly surprising since I had almost managed to break up the previous nuptial knot of another cousin by getting him drunk on the marriage day. Therefore instead of giving the family time to realize their mistake I decided to jump on to the next plane and then the next train and then the next bus and finally the next boat and just after a little walking after getting off the boat I reached my village (Don’t even think about the point of Bihar being under developed; if you do, I hunt you down and voodoo you).

Now for the uninitiated a typical marriage in Bihar is an extremely elaborate affair consisting of small ceremonies which are spread over at least 15 days or at least till closest family members get hospitalized due to exhaustion and malnutrition whichever comes first. I think the sole idea behind the invention of making the marriages so elaborate was to discourage this ridiculous practice called marriage but I know for sure that this message was lost in the course of history.

Anyways among these innumerable ceremonies was the one called “Cheka”. This is where the “would be Father in law” visits the groom’s family and kind of confirms the booking for the groom. In fact come to think of it even the literal translation of word “Checka” mean “confirmation of previous booking order”. This might not sound like a big deal but throw in all the other family members, neighbors and their pets that are coming along and you get a small platoon of individuals coming over with sole intent of finding faults in arrangements and hosting family and you might start getting the picture.

The night before the ceremony when I was just planning on sleeping I saw this young kid coming up to me. Now you might question the language but he was in fact coming up (climbing the precariously balanced broken wooden ladder). You see I and my other likeminded cousins were deemed unfit to sleep with family and were allocated the unfinished portion of rooftop for our nightly sojourns which also suited us well as no one ever came to know of the beneficiaries of the empty bottles of the bootleg whisky that appeared every morning behind our house.

Nevertheless ignoring my natural desire to see people get hurt trying to accomplish ridiculous goals like “I climbed a broken ladder” I stopped the kid and went down to meet him.

“You are Kumar” he asked. “No, I am the reflection of his departed soul“was my usual reply. I think the kid lacked the intellectual ability to comprehend my profound statement because he muttered under his breath “They were right”. “What did you say” I asked bringing the practiced malevolence in my voice usage of which is reserved for such smartasses. “Nothing, they are calling you down”. “Who?” “Those who want you departed because they don’t think you have a soul” laughed the kid and ran away.

I realized that the kid had the required potential and so I made a mental note to look after, mentor and nurture his growing talent so that one day he can be a worthy successor to my current title of “Most Embarrassing Family Member” and started on my way down. On the way down I was trying to figure out tales of which one of my latest attempts of being accepted as alpha male within my cousin’s group has reached them. I was sure it couldn’t be anything to do with my antics of making catcalls and whistles at neighboring lady because just that evening I think she had smiled at me and not frowned like usual.

Now you may call me cynical but trust me I had reasons to be so apprehensive. Seldom have I been called in family meetings and whenever that has happened t was always about some complaint that they had received from some female who would have misunderstood me as a bigoted cheapo striving for attention. I mean; C’mon just because you happen to be standing on the next rooftop when I am researching for my article on the topic of “Exhibitionism – Origins and social standing in India” you can’t think my actions were intended for you.

Anyhow now that I was called for I prepared myself for the worst, promised to defend my honor by all possible means even if it meant a little character defamation of the accusing party and entered the room. Now I pride myself on reading faces but surprisingly in this instance I couldn’t figure out anything by looking at the faces since all of them were contorted in weirdest of shapes which I could only align with the faces that I tried to make whenever I have remembered the most hilarious and vulgar joke in the middle of the regular counseling sessions that I undergo with my wife, boss, dad or neighborhood society’s president.

“Good you came; we need you to handle a small but very important responsibility during marriage”- Came from the family head. My jaw dropped in surprise; pulled it back up quickly and asked in my most sincere tone “Of course, you know I am always ready to do anything for family. Tell me what is it that you expect of me?” Ignoring my humility he replied with a barely suppressed smirk “can you please take care of clicking pictures during the ceremony?”

This was a pleasant surprise. I think if I have to rank it in my list of pleasant surprises that life has awarded me with, this definitely goes above the time when I surprised myself and everyone else by scoring 43% marks in my tenth grade exams. I mean, I know I take good pictures but going by the public reaction to my pictures that I had taken during last family outing I wasn’t sure if I will get a camera in my hand in any family get together ever. I was confident that people lack the ability to understand or appreciate my preference of the artistic challenge of zooming and bringing to light the otherwise neglected dark interior of a vessel containing “Chicken Tikka” instead of not zooming in and capturing faces of people standing next to a pillar just to prove to the world that they have been to the particular monument.

I was filled with joy. I realized that finally my family has realized my value and have assigned me a task accordingly. To make sure that they know they are taking the right decision I said “Sure, I will get my camera, it’s a SLR with wide angle zoom and in fact I have even brought the tripod which will help me take better images.” “No, we have hired a professional photographer for that kind of work. Take this one. It’s been in family for generations and we want a family member to handle it” – said the man and pointed towards the big old brick size mass of black sitting on the corner table which had escaped my attention so far. “But, but, I don’t think now we even have any studio in town which will develop the pictures taken by this one” – I stuttered.

Enough” suddenly thundered my dad. “It will at least hide the fact that you don’t have a moustache and will also stop you from jabbering unnecessarily with the guests and humiliating the family”. There was a pin drop silence for almost 8 seconds and trust me those were looooong 8 seconds and then suddenly the room was filled with voices. “See!! I told you it’s pointless to try and make him useful” screeched an aunty. “Yes, but what other option did we have to hide him from the guests?” – Chimed another uncle. “yes, but he doesn’t have the moustache. What will the guests think about our family?” “I know; there isn’t enough time for him to grow one” added another elder cousin with fake sadness in his voice.

Blah, blah, blah, blah they went on and on. It was as if I had suddenly become invisible they went on talking about the difficulties of having a moustache less person in the family, the social issue that arise out of it and the stigma that my dad has to carry. I wasn’t really sure why is it a big deal, I still am not sure but nevertheless I decided on the spot that I will grow a moustache if for nothing else then just to shut up the elder cousin who has managed to find a place in family meetings just by the virtue of having the ability of making intelligent noises which signify agreement with whatever is being discussed. With this decision made, i felt a little lighter and had my mind focused on the new task "what style of moustache should i have?" but i guess the details of that adventure will have to wait until later.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

No!! I can’t be environment friendly.

A curious thing happened the other day. I was in this gathering of the regular pseudo intellectuals where the topic suddenly moved towards environment and our efforts to save it from whatever impending doom it is headed towards. Since I have kind of mastered the art of argument even if I don’t know anything about the subject, initially I participated with usual gusto making statements like “Dr. Massinger’s Research says that when compared between 2002 and 2010 the environmental pollution from developed nations has increased by 47.3%” (No one is going to question or stand in front of such specific statements. Trust me on that) however when it came to listing down personal actions I found that I am running short of words.

Now before we move further let me clarify two things to clear any dirty assumptions that you might have started making about me. A) I joined this group because it only used to discuss serious issues such as Mr. Xs car standing outside Mr. Ys house for over three hours when Mr. Y is out of station and the impact of such actions on our culture, country and humanity and B) I didn’t have anything to add on the topic of personal actions towards saving environment because I had figured everyone else is doing their bit so one person less won’t hasten the arrival of the doomsday like by a century.

Now in my defense I must also add that the reason of this inaction were my previous studies on the topic. These studies clearly said that the doomsday was supposed to come anywhere after 100 years thereby leaving enough time for everyone else to do their efforts and postpone its arrival. The studies also mentioned the massive efforts which were being put in by the multinational corporations which were helping delay the arrival. Now since I am an employee of one such organization I believed that I am already doing my bit.

Nevertheless I found the lack of personal action on this front detrimental to self perceived image of being this nice guy who loves and cares for the entire universe (In case you missed the point; please note that people with narrow mindsets talk about only country and world). Therefore as is my habit I made a list of things to do which will certify me as eco friendly and proceeded to act upon them. Little did I know that trying to be eco friendly was tougher than trying to attain “Nirvana” (Karmic Bliss).

Now I am sure in spite of my before mentioned studies some of you might still be skeptical and will try to do your best to be named as an environment friendly individual. But before you proceed I must do my duty of being the nice guy, and warn you of the problems and challenges that you will face by giving you an account of my efforts and hurdles that I came across while following the most common method of becoming an environmentally conscious citizen.

Recycle\Reuse – I started with the golden principal of environment friendliness. Recycle whatever we can. Started this campaign with great enthusiasm and asked the building manager to deliver the garbage bags on my terrace. The ideas was to first sort out the stuff suitable for reuse and then take the rest to waste disposal plant for making biogas. With the idea I contacted the plant employees who agreed to take care of the garbage provided I deliver it to the plant (I must say that the government employees aren’t educated about the importance of an individual’s contribution to eco friendliness campaign since their first reaction reminded me of my son’s reaction when he saw an elephant for the first time). Undaunted by the challenge I hired a garbage collector truck’s services when came the next question of hauling it in the truck from my terrace. Although I pride myself of being able to do any job however I made an exception in this case (Only because I didn’t have proper garbage sorting attire in my closet) and tried to hire two able bodied men to do the job for me. I would have got them easily if it wasn’t for the laughter filled refusal of first two guys who looked at the heap and in addition to laughing and saying a big “NO” also started advising me on my plans. I understood that I shouldn’t be discouraged by the ignorance of such uncouth folks and promptly sent them packing however I believe they must have spoken about the work or me with some derision to their friends. This belief came due to the difficult time I had finding other people for this job. It’s only after I chose to ignore the muffled laughs and added “blocked nose” and “double pay” to the offer was I able to find the right men. This entire work took more than three days and while I was excited with the results however the trouble in finding the right resources for the job led to the conclusion of not repeating the cycle. (One of the fringe benefits of this exercise was my increased understanding with my recruitment HR team. Now I knew what a pain it was to hire folks from outside to clean the mess which the family members had refused to clean)

Carpooling – Fresh from the defeat on the first item I decided to attempt something less smelly and hit upon the idea of Carpooling. My apartment has 7 kids going to same school at the same time by 7 different cars so I was confident of adding at least one tick mark against my check list of being eco friendly. The responses started with a simple “not interested” and went up to simpler “NO” and slamming of door. I wouldn’t have given up if it wasn’t for the 5th residence where the man of the house offered me water, sent his wife to kitchen and asked me in a soothing and conspiratorial tone if I was facing some difficulties with my salary and expenses. Before I could reply he smiled enigmatically at me like the finance mister announcing tax cuts and offered to hire me as a part time employee for his firm specializing in security services for specialized massage therapists. Before he could get into the details of the offer I decided to run away and left the idea of car pooling at his door step itself.

Conserve Water – I realized that in all my efforts so far I was seeking help of others and that was the reason of failure. Therefore I decided to take up actions which involved no one but me to achieve some degree of success. I wasn’t sure where to start so I chose the first option of taking bath alternate days. I thought this was a good start to my campaign on saving the environment but right on 3rd day when I returned home late in the night I found my bedroom door locked with a note stuck on it which said “Use the other bedroom” I lost the heart to pursue the next steps in this domain.

Conserve Electricity – By now I was demoralized however thought of giving eco friendliness another shot by reading up on ways to conserve electricity. The first itself was to use devices which are star rated in energy compliance and that even looked attractive to me. I mean, all I had to do was get the appliances and that’s it; Voila! I will become an environmentally conscious citizen. Buoyed with the discovery I made a list of devices to change and enquired about exchange offers for all of these devices from the nearest mall. Disappointment was again in store for me when I was told I will get 2000 bucks for my good old air conditioner and the new 5 star rated air conditioner will cost me 27000 bucks and the entire list would set me back by 240,000. Needless to say I have put this plan on hold for some time.
Disappointed by my lack of progress so far I decided to focus on smaller but practical aspects of going green and without going into details let me list them out for you for quick reference:

Buy local produce – I live in a big modern city and the only local produce I see around me is cow’s manure spread all over our roads and the illegal hash which Mr. Y is growing on his terrace garden. I am sure you agree that eating both would be detrimental to my existence which definitely comes before my image.

Buy sustainably harvested seafood – I think they meant that I should buy fish from folks who manage fisheries and not the fresh catch from sea or river to ensure the species do not become endangered. Unfortunately due to communication gap (English is not my primary language) I went and asked my neighbor’s wife if she would like to sell fishes from her aquarium in the living room and was turned away. (Please note- I not getting invited for any of the building meetings is a rumor which my enemies are spreading about me and it has got nothing to do with this incident).

Buy sustainably or organically produced food – It is only available in a departmental store which is two hour’s drive from my house and is three times costlier than regular food. Need I say more?

Eat less meat. – Are you nuts?? There are some truths in life that are beyond discussion. For example “Boss is always right”, “Wife will win the argument”, “God exists” and “WE MUST EAT MEAT”. I can get into a passionate debate on how humans are not supposed to be vegetarian by design but I am sure it’s not necessary.

I realized that my journey to eco friendliness had me thrown out of bedroom, thrown out of my house, laughed at by illiterate workers, considered bankrupt and would have led me starving to death. Well maybe this works for lot of people but in all fairness I think I have the right to live a happy life.