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.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I got a smart phone!!

I have been having trouble with my phone lately and after missing 6 calls from my wife last night I finally felt the need to get a new one. I was anyhow about to take this decision and was just not able to make up my mind for last 4 months but today morning’s tea and discussion about my attitude towards life and responsibilities helped me realize the immediacy of the problem.

Now normally this process only involves three steps, go into the shop, ask for a list of cheapest phones and find something which doesn’t look cheap. However this time was different, as soon as I reached office my boss called me and informed me that I should buy a nice phone and get the amount reimbursed. This definitely was a pleasant shock because I don’t recall any planned or unplanned action in recent times which may have resulted in something good for Boss or for my organization.

Instead of going ahead with my newfound luck I decided to investigate the reason of this nice gesture. “Boss, is this a recognition of my recent efforts and hard work?” I asked. “No, that requires efforts and hard work. It’s just that I do not want to hear you talk to your friends about office thinking you have disconnected my call.” This time I got the hint and just decided to move on with this sudden prize.

I think it was my dormant honesty which prompted me to do thorough research before I buy a phone however it could also be my desire to show off to friends that I am buying a smart phone; I decided to do thorough research and even pretended to ask people what they like about their phones in the actual and virtual social gatherings. Don’t take me wrong; I had no intention of taking any of the inputs interfere with my superior reasoning skills but I did want to let some specific individuals know that I am buying a smart phone before compiling a list of qualities and skills that my new gadget must have and this appeared as good an approach as any. This process also had the benefit of being able to classify my friends into different buckets based on the class of phone they owned which I thought might come handy someday although for the life of me I can’t imagine when.

Since I pride myself of capable of logical reasoning and deduction(Disclaimer - Possession of this quality is currently under dispute by my wife, mother and Boss) I decided to go to one of those big shops where the crowd of customers dwarfs the crowd of attendants and check out the qualities and skills that were desired of my smart phone in person before I make up my mind on the final winner. Below you will find the list of areas where I checked the prospective candidates.

• Aiding my memory – I checked the phones if they could help me remember the things\action to do forgetting which always lands me in detention with food punishment at home. For example’ wishing my family and in laws and their friends, pets and neighbors happy birthday, new year, friendship day, hot dog day etc. Now I had some good news initially that almost all phones seemed capable of this act provided I told them at least once when to remind me of what. However when I delved deeper into their ability to aid me in my more usual memory lapses they failed. Let me list them out for everyone so I am not accused of bias.

a) Forgetting to remove silent after meetings – I genuinely believe there should be some sort of sensor in every phone taking it out of silent profile once it realizes that no one around it is making simple statements seem well thought out or convoluted just by using words like “Strategic, plan of action, alignment” etc preferred by the senior brass.
b) Forgetting to carry phone charger while travelling. – Shouldn’t the phone have some kind of proximity sensor built in with charger and should recognize the growing distance between themselves and start shouting something familiar like “you idiot, you are again leaving the charger” or something to this effect.
c) Forgetting to carry the phone itself – Same as above just the second sensor should work with us. I am not sure which technology can be used for this but implants are a definite NO.

• Simple installation – I remember a time when all I had to do after getting a phone was to charge it for some time and I was ready to face the world. Now a typical smart phone comes with a manual thicker than my Car’s with setting up instructions taking anywhere between 30 to 200 pages. If I could read so much then I wouldn’t need a smart phone, would I? Therefore the phone should have the ability to do the setup by itself leaving me to wonder about larger issues of life such as why do dogs chase cars.

• Actually Intelligent voice command recognition system – On my wish list is a phone which can differentiate between me giving it a command and me having an argument with my building’s watchman on my intellectual right to park my car wherever I desire and not below the space which has a 1/2X2 feet tag spelling my name as well my flat number incorrectly. While this might seem impossible to you but trust me I have seen people’s phone calling up someone from their contact list while all they were trying to do was to hurl abuses at the urchin on the traffic signal or answering a call when the owner was just singing to himself and continued to sing oblivious to my presence on the other end.

• Simple Error messages – The least I expect from a smart phone is not to show off their smartness using cryptic error messages. It’s as if they are trying to test if the owner is worth the ownership or not. Don’t believe me? Try deciphering “8002ee347 – Reset” (Samsung Bada OS). It’s just phone speak for WiFi internet connection not available. Now I am sure some of you might say that

• Future proof – Following from my previous point, imagine doing all the setup and by the time you are done someone tells you there is a new version of OS released and you again get into the nasty cycle of reading, learning doing. I am tired of learning.

• Toughness – I was quite fond of being able to throw the phone at anyone and hurting the person and not the phone. An act that gave me the satisfaction of having avenged my childhood insults of my school teacher throwing dusters at me and asking it back. Most of the smart phones seemed incapable at this criterion. I couldn’t test many of them also since the security of the shopping mall threw me out before I could test some more phones.

Once out of the shop I realized that I haven’t yet come up with a clear winner. As my Boss was the ultimate sponsor and beneficiary of this gadget, I decided to pass on the burden of decision making to him confident with the knowledge that if something goes wrong I can always point my finger back at him.

While this gave him another opportunity to laugh at my intellect however It didn’t trouble me since I had long learned the benefits of being perceived an idiot. He went ahead and got me one of those ugly smart phones preferred by corporate across the world. Till now I have used it only to make and receive calls and haven’t tried out any of the other features which make it smart. Having said that I must accept that don’t miss a single chance to whip it out in middle of all types of social and official interactions regardless of topic and people around me. At least now everyone knows that I own a smart phone.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Artificial Intelliegence Versus Low Intelligence (gmail Vs Kumar)

Witnessed a marvel of artificial intelligence - my gmail id developed a mind of its own, sent nice and not so nice messages to everyone in my contact list, refused to let me see what it has sent, refused me permission to see my own inbox.

While this was fascinating from technological perspective however I did want to see my beloved gmail inbox again and thus tried to reclaim my account. What I didn’t realize is that it will involve a herculean effort on my part first to reach the webmasters of gmail.

Once I reached them, I found that they were not ready to believe I am who I say I am. I tried giving them the proof first by reasoning, then by making them an offer which I thought they won’t be able to refuse and when that didn’t work as well then finally resorted to using my linguistic capabilities from rural heartland of India. Nothing moved them!!

Its only when I agreed to bare my soul by giving them information so private that I don’t even share it with my ex girlfriends did they agree to look into the matter. Can you believe it; all this was done to get hold of my PHONE NUMBER!!

Finally after more deliberation reminiscent of terms of surrender of AXIS powers they agreed to reopen the pearly gates of communication heaven for me.

Now I am immensely relieved and take this opportunity to apologies for any messages that irritated you and to say welcome for those messages which you liked.

I do need some help from you; since my brain is now frozen due to excessive usage in this ordeal, I am in need of your thoughts on whether or not it’s a good idea to use gmail for my communication s in future.

Please help!! Please send your responses here, for the time being facebook guys don’t seem to check the content of my messages and thus seem to like me and I think it will be a while before I incur the wrath of webmasters of facebook.

Yours truly,

Kumar Amitesh

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Learning how to have an affair

Recently someone suggested that I should have an affair. Now while the idea didn’t hold much appeal however I realized that I don’t know anything about having an affair. I had no clue on the vital questions like how to find someone who is ready for an affair, how to start an affair etc. Now this is a genuine insult to an intellectual like me who enjoys learning how to do different things even if I never do them and thus started my quest for the knowledge of “How to have an affair”.

Problem was that I didn’t have any clue on where to start. This wasn’t a topic on which I could remember a “how to” guide book. I even checked the “books for dummies” series but apparently no one is dumb enough not to know how to have an affair and the search in the world of books ended in vain.

I flatter myself to be a persistent dude and so I moved on to next source and looked around to see if any of my friends were having an affair, so that I can pick a trick or two. However it appeared that no one in my circle had this idea and I was the first one exploring the area. (Realization later downed upon me that they had mastered the art of how to keep an affair a secret but more on that later).

With the avenue of common friends blocked I turned to my best buddy who has always helped me out whenever I have been stuck for lack of information. Typed in the now friendly words GOOGLE with the confidence of finding the wisdom I seek. Alas! I had embarked upon the quest of knowledge so rare that even my trusted friend failed me.

All the results pages directed me to different sites whose reason for existence is the existence of desperate men. Before I could explore these sites I found that it is mandatory to register with each one of them and as a determined learner I started with the process. It included filling up lengthy personal information forms which asked everything starting from my gender to the information which confirmed it in case I was planning to lie about it. I might have given up if it wasn’t for the continuous motivation given by banners on the pages which promised access to the master database of information on all available and desperate women of world once I am registered.

I dutifully filled up the forms, registered myself and then tried the search option and yess!! There it was; A 453 page long list of available women. Feeling encouraged I tried getting to know the first one better and faced my first humiliation. The entire list disappeared and I faced another form which needed my credit card information just to make sure that I was 18 years or older. Somewhere it also said that they will charge a onetime fee of 250 US Dollars which will be returned if I don’t manage to sleep with someone in next 45 days.

Now maybe it was my doubt over their claim due to self assessment of my abilities or maybe it was my suspicion on the source of information they will use to confirm if I managed to sleep with someone before processing my refund claim; I decided to skip this approach all together and reverted to the old fashioned idea of seeking an expert in the field who can mentor me.

This search also would have ended in vain if it wasn’t for my lucky streak of being in the wrong place at the right time.

One day I decided to finish office earlier and decided to go for a beer after office with some colleagues. As expected one beer led to another and very soon we were all high and happy when we received a call from one of the colleagues who was stuck in office and wanted to know if we are wrapping up or he could join. To cut a long story short he felt that we are leaving and said he will cancel his plan.

I decided to have few more beers by myself and after finishing went to the parking lot to find my car and noticed my colleagues car parked in a shady area (Pun intended). I wouldn’t have noticed it if it wasn’t for the fact that the car was announcing in a shrill voice that it is reversing and all the blinkers were on lighting the entire parking lot. I now realize that it happened since my colleague had suddenly decided to get the hell out of my way before I see him and had forgotten all about his investments that he made on the fancy accessories like reverse horn for his car. Following my curiosity I called his name and he jumped out of the car which would have been the end of problems for him if it again wasn’t the issue with the car internal lights which switched on automatically when he opened the door revealing to me a young lassie from our office sitting inside. Hallelujah!! I found my mentor. I had heard some rumors but this was a confirmation and a godsend for my search for wisdom.

I think my peripheral vision caught a glimpse of his flaring nostril but I remembered that a truly devoted seeker of knowledge never gives up and thus ignoring his face I walked up to him and gave him a quick drunk buddy hug. I am not sure if it was my expression of delight or his guilt nevertheless I even managed to invite myself for a drink with him. I think he was under the impression that I hadn’t seen the dame so he was shocked when I turned towards the car and said to the girl “Hey, you might get bored alone sitting in the car, why don’t you join us for the drink”. Hearing this his face contorted in a weird shape which I recognize as the face of the constipated cartoon character from old advert which used to provide solution for the problem although here the root cause as I understand now was the mixture of emotions such as rage and helplessness.

So we sat in this comfortable air conditioned restaurant around midnight and I decided to go ahead further with the fact finding and shot straight away “So, how did you guys meet”. “In office, don’t you know” pat came the reply with an automatic twitch of the eyebrows. I held on to my nerves and fired next salvo “ how did you know she was the one?” and I guess I crossed some invisible line cause the face turned red and the reply came at a higher pitch and rate of speech “WHAT DO YOU MEAN?”. I should have realized that it’s time to back off however as they say in hindi “Vinash Kale, Viprit Budhhi” (At the time of doom even your head gives you encouragement to embrace it) so I pushed further. “you know, that she was the one available” to get my message across discreetly.
Suddenly I was hit in my knee lightly. Looked below the table to find out what it was and saw his hairy leg trying to caress my trousers. (By the way don’t ever look at the underside of a table in a hotel, you will never go back there to eat). Didn’t think too much of it (Subtlety, hints etc take long time before I get them) and repeated my question “You know, that she is the one that is available”.

“Can we have a smoke” was the quick response? As you know I am at complete loss when it comes to subtlety so I just pressed on with my most charming smile “C’mon, you can tell me”. “I want to have a smoke NOW, come out with me” was the response.

Left with no other options I came out, helped him light a cigarette the process of which gave me a chance to recognize his irritation and thus decided to switch my line of questioning to more subtle and sober question. “Dude, how do you get a girl like that?”. “By not being cheap like you”. Aah!! A direct hit below the belt. This was the third time I was insulted within the course of my quest and the first time it penetrated my thick skull.

I realized the reason why the doors of wisdom were closed on me. I wanted to know about the secrets of an art without going through the pain and investments which are prerequisites for knowledge so valuable. It was like asking for martest kid in 5th standard without changing nappies in middle of night for 2 years. Such behavior obviously was not going to get me my answers.

By Now I had wasted over 3 days of my time, was humiliated thrice and came close to getting kicked once. My head was reeling and I stumbled out of the place. Walking from there to home like a zombie I went, changed dress and lay down on the bed. My wife murmured in her sleep, “Love you Jaan”. Although my head was hurting I managed to whisper “love you too” and realized that this is the end of my quest.