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29 April 2007

Jokes

World's smallest poem
----------------------
Mary Rose
Sat on a Rose
Mary rose

Another one.....
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I had a cat
It ate a rat
It grew fat
It lay on a mat
And that was...... that.

26 April 2007

Magician's Melancholy

Long time back I had written this story in NDTV's writing room. It was titled 'A Magician's Melancholy' . This is a favourite of mine.

25 April 2007

Roger and Elaine

Though I am a great admirer of faminine beauty and grace, I sometimes find the better of the human species tiresome. They have this knack of thinking one thing and saying another and meaning something else. I have had innumerable experiences of this peculiar behaviour from many of my lady friends including my wife. Those of you who have read 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus' will I am sure vouch for its realism and practicality.
If you don't belive what I am saying, read this hilarious article from Dave Barry.

12 April 2007

How to market a blog?

Just saw a good article on 'How to Market a Blog'. Writer is Guy Kawasaki, the renowned Marketing Guru. Check this out.

10 April 2007

Haal,Beku and Plastic Mug

On the way back from my morning peregrinations, I met my seventy something neighbour Revanna coming in the opposite direction with a can of milk in hand.

"Haal kaisa hai Revanna?" I asked him. Friendly neighbour, as always.

"Accha nahin hai" , he replied

When you hear such an answer to an innocuous question, what will you make of it? One of those gloomy, morose, griping gentlemen, you may think. Surly septuagenarian, you may conclude. I won't blame you if you portray Revanna as a pessimistic paterfamilias.

I too would have done the same, if I were you.

But I know Revanna. He is a friendly, gay, gregarious gentlemen. Sociable and spirited, I have always found him. I decided to probe further.

"Kya hua?" I asked him.

"Bahut paani milaya hai" he replied before walking off.

Leaving a perplexed me, if you see what I mean.

By virtue of his four years stay in Bangalore, my brother thinks that he is an expert in Kannada. While talking to him, I mentioned the curious reply of Revanna.

"Haal means milk in Kannada" he informed me.

That was it. What I thought were the disconnected display of dissatisfaction were nothing but the justified criticism of subnormal quality of milk.

Later I found that in Bangalore they have their special way of messing up with established languages. They make changes here and there to languages like Tamil and call it Kannada. For instance, in Bangalore if you say that you are a high ranking official in WHO, they will think that you are a head gardener. This is because 'who' in Kannada means 'flower'.

Do you notice a trend here? Take a word starting with 'P' in Tamil and start it with 'h' instead, you have the equivalent Kannada word. For example, 'Paal' in Tamil is 'Haal' in Kannada, 'Poo' in T is 'Hu' in K, 'Palli' in T is 'Halli' in K and so on. But don't think that reverse is true. For example, if you lift the receiver and say 'Pallo, this is Vidya here', you may not have to wait long before they arrive with chains and what not to enable you for an extended sojourn at the loony bin.

And of course, you can't buy 'Pamam' soap.

Everyone, when exposed to a new language, follows a similar path. Initially, one starts listening. One becomes familiar with the tone and tenor of the tongue. Slowly like a baby kangaroo taking its peek at the world outside, one starts using some words which are very common. In this phase on has one's own language ready in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

This was the case with my Kannada learning also. But only that in my case it turned out to be a disaster.

Why me?!!

But I am jumping the gun. Digressing is the mot juste.

In the initial days, I found that the most common word used in Kannada was 'Beku'. One often hears of 'nod beku', maad beku' and all that. My first real exposure to this word was over a phone call.

One day my landlord comes and informs me that there was a phone call for my brother, Mony. Since he was not at home I went to take the call.

"Mony beku" chimed a voice at the other end.

I heard it as "Mony bewkoof". I felt that there was a mistake.

"What?" I shouted in English.

"May I speak to Mony?" queried the voice in English.

My brother, unlike me, is not a bewkoof. Later I found that 'Beku' in Kannada meant 'want' or 'chahiye'.

They say that the best way to learn a language is to use it wherever possible. You say it, you write it, you familiarise it goes the saying (Some say it goes without saying, also). Since I could not write the language, the only option left was to speak it where possible.

In retrospect I feel that it was reckless on my part to start speaking the language with only three words (hu, haal and beku) at my disposal. After all it is not everyday that you may want (beku) flower(hu) or milk(haal).

At that time I didn't care. I was all enthusiasm, if you see what I mean.

It was one of those days when world is generally irritable. Hot, sultry and dusty. it was at one 'o' clock on this day that I ventured into the world of Kannada.

It was also one of those days when men would want to buy plastic mugs. I went to this shop.

'Plastic mug beku', I informed him confidently.

He looked at me with sad eyes and mumbled something.

Probably did not hear what I said. "Plastic mug beku" I repeated a bit loudly.

This time there was no doubt that he heard. He told me something for about thirty seconds. In Kannada. I heard a 'plastic mug beku' in that oration.

Well if he can 'Kannada' me, I could always 'beku' him. So I repeated that 'plastic mug beku' thing again. It was like both of us were throwing 'Plastic mug beku' at each other.

There is a word in English which they use to describe Niagara falls. 'Incessant' is the one I am looking for. Such was the torrent of Kannada that followed. Added to it was the fact that the guy's eyes were already crimson and were darkening with every passing minute. As you do now, I too felt that with just three words in my armoury (of which two vis. hu and haal were useless in the current situation unless he wanted to pluck flowers or drink milk or something) I was in the same position of the jawan who found that he was fighting a heavily armed enemy soldier with only an airgun.

When my adversary started waving his fingers at me and was slowly rising from his seat (preliminary to bashing me up, of course) I felt that what was called on me was to effect a diplomatic retreat. Mind you, it was neither a 'hasty retreat' nor a 'slow an deliberate retreat'. As I retreated I gave him a disdainful look to show that I was not scared of him....

Well it was a diplomatic.....

Later on I found that the sequence of dialogues went like this.

"I want a plastic mug" I said

"I don't have one" he replied.

"I want a plastic mug" I repeated.

"How many times do I have to repeat that I don't have one. Are you deaf or something? Repeating 'plastic mug beku' like some bloody parrot. Wasting my time"

"I want a plastic mug" I repeated.

"What the hell do you mean? Here I am, nursing the wound inflicted by my wife and there you are repeating 'plastic mug beku' like some stuck up tape recorder. What is your problem anyway? Can't you understand simple Kannada? If you don't, you will when I am through with you. I will make sure that hospital will provide you will all the plastic mug you require for at least another month."

He started rising.

This was when I effected my diplomatic retreat.

As you can see, the experience has been unnerving. I am yet to venture into the murky world of Kannada. A world where a person can't buy a plastic mug without getting his limbs torn from side to side.

I will stick to English, thank you.

The Depression of Mony

Mony is depressed!

Why, you may wonder. Why does he have to be depressed? u may well ask. The more creative of you may link his depression to the fact that he is going to get married. And a few will agree that if he is depressed because he is going to get married he has every reason to be.

After all, doesn't a guy lose his freedom after tying the knot?

No sir, there are not the reasons for the sudden lowering of his spirits. No way.

So we come back to the moot q. Y is he depressed?

During one of his relatively gregarious moments he told me the reason.

The whole thing (Mony said) started in circa 1997. During one of his rare, occasional (it was so rare!!) visits to the library, he was going through one of those news magazines that are dime a dozen. Suddenly he came across an article on "Monsoon and it s effect on Clothes" (about clothes getting wet and dirty in rain). The author's name sounded familiar. it was written by C.Y.Gopinath.

Yeah, our Gopi. Raji Athai's son. Our cousin.

Mony says that he was proud of Gopi. He was proud of our family. He was so proud that he took a photocopy of that article to show off to his friends.

I won't blame him if in his enthusiasm, he failed to realise that the topic of rain water on clothes is not one which will make people shout with joy. Had he realized also he would not have minded.

He was in cloud 26 if you see what I mean.

The next time he went to the library was in September 1998. (told u it was rare). Browsing thru one men's magazine (u know the kind. One which will give you advice on how a man should walk under hot sun with a girl clinging onto his arm like a leech or something) he came across an article on husband doing household chores while wife has gone for work. The tenor was amusing.

Mony says that he was trying to be amused till he saw the author's name. yes, it was written by C.Y.Gopinath.

From then onwards a nameless fear started affecting Mony any time he looked at a news magazine. His rare visits to the library became rarer. He revoked all his magazine subscriptions. he became an avid reader of magazines like Chip, Computer's today and PC Quest. there also he was apprehending and article by C.Y.Gopinath on "Why intelligent man do not require a computer to do a mathematical calculation".

He felt persecuted and stalked, if you get my drift.

The thing came to a climax in Jan1, 1999. Opening his daily news paper (the only thing which he felt will be without the malevolent influence of Gopi's literary skills and hence he read) what else should he find but an article on "100 ways to celebrate a new year's day" by none other than Gopi.

That was when he started making plans of taking up a job in US of A.

He felt that India was no longer safe for the scions of VVR family. What with Gopi stalking him relentlessly, he felt that the farther he is from Indian Magazines, the better for him.

He got his passport made. He applied to his organization for transfer to the farthest possible corners of America. He decided to get married.

Everything going hanky dory, you may say.

They were, till he checked Shoba Narayan in Google. To his horror he found that hidden from him Shoba was spreading her 'culirary' (culinary + literary) influence in the far corners of US of A. Now a miasma of hopelessness has covered him like snow in the himalayas. He feels that the world is not safe for the scions of the family. The tentacles of literature has spread to the vital innards of the family. If it is not Gopi, it is Shoba. The family has a lot to say and they believe in telling it.

The other day, I saw him going through the map of Alaska and Ethiopia!!

Now u know why he is depressed. He has every reason to be, won't you say?

09 April 2007

The Blessing called Bangalore Traffic

I have been travelling between Whitefield and Bangalore for the last 6 months or so. If you are anyone like me, you would have read ad nauseum about the traffic snarls / jams / breads etc of Bangalore. Even in Bangalore, if there is a route which takes the cake, it is the Whitefield - Bangalore road via Marathahalli Bridge

You haven't travelled thru that route, have you?

Most of the people who travel on Bangalore roads claim that they are the most inhospitable roads in the whole world. They talk of the wasted time, the lower back pain, aches and pains in various parts of the anatomy, the productivity loss, the profitability loss, the stress, the road rage,... What have you?

Wrong perspective is what I say when I hear these guys cribbing. Entirely wrong note. Misdirected. They see the glass as half empty.

Ask me why I am saying this? Do I not agree with most of the above points mentioned? Don't I feel strongly about all those losses? Am I insensitive to common opinion?......

No sir, most definitely not. I am very much sensitive to these points. All I am saying is let the man who has committed no sins cast the first stone. In other words, show me something that do not have any blemishes

You may well ask, what are the good points of Bangalore traffic that I can point out. If I am so 'Pro' traffic snarls, give sufficient reason for my favouritism. The gist of your argument is that I should 'walk the talk' or 'show money where the mouth is'.

Don't simper, let me tell you. I may as well take it upon me to hold candle to Bangalore traffic. In fact I will.....

Below, I am jotting down a few points that I see are in favour of these misnamed monsters known as 'Traffic Jams'.

1. They teach you to be patient.

This one is a no brainer. Traffic jams have their life cycles. They have an initiation phase, a growth phase, a maturity phase and a decline phase. (It is a different fact that the above cycle more often than not will cover your entire working day). Once you are in a jam in its growth phase, no amout of raving and ranting will get you out of this till the cycle is completed. You will quickly learn that patience is a virtue in a Bangalore Traffic Jam.

2. They teach you optimism.

This is something I strongly believe. I also strongly believe that the above statement can raise the heckles of most of my fellow country men. But look at it this way. Have you ever been in a traffic jam which did not clear? All of them do clear inevitably. Once you are in a traffic jam it is smartness to keep a positive mental attitude. Get stuck in 3 to 4 jams and see your overflowing positivity and optimism.

3. They teach you negotiation skills

This stuck me like a lightning. I was in the middle of a highly delayed project (behind schedule, time overrun, cost overrun, livid customer are some of the terms that come to mind...) and was having a scheduled meeting with the customer that day. And I was stuck in a monster of a jam and did not know what to do about it.

Fortunately (you will soon see why), I had also planned an evening movie with my wife the same day. Now that the jam was sure to delay my evening plan, I decided to call her up.

"Darling", I initiate the conv. Of course this is not the way I address her normally ('Listen' is her name and that is how I usually address her). But when you are writing in english, you have to follow their nomenclature. They always start a conv.with the betterhalf with 'Darling', 'Honey' or some such rot.

"What?, Why did you call me? Felt like talking to me, didn't you? Wanted to hear my voice?" Questions, questions and more questions.....

"Listen, regarding today's movie..." I got some word edgeways.

"What about it? What time are you coming home? Should I cook dinner? Or shall we go out? What should I 
wear?" again the torrential downpour of questions.

" We won't be able to go for the 6 O Clock show. I am getting delayed" I got it out very quickly.

"Haven't we been planning this for the last one week? Cant you finish the meeting quickly and come? What will I tell my friends tomorrow when they ask me about the movie? What do we do?" My wife has a knack of conveying all her ideas thru questions. One would almost think that she is a defence lawyer or something.

"Why dont we go for the night show?" I suggested.

"OK. You won't be late for that also, na?" She fitted a question there also.

"Of course I won't" I assured.

As soon as I switched off the phone after that torturous conversation, this idea stuck me. I called the customer from my mobile phone.

"Good morning Mr.Dell" I opened the gambit unleashing all my charm and chutzpah. We have rough work ahead.

"Good morning, what is the status of the project?" Dell was off the block like a TGV or something.

" You know, well, we were having some resource crunch, and the product developed some bugs, and, well, 
the project manager ran away with the team lead. All this has led to a delay in the schedule." I informed him. Effusive I was, darn effusive, like that radio jockey in the breakfast show. It failed to charm him though.

"I don't know if we will ever complete this project. The way it is going on even a snail running with weight on its back can clear the 1 mile target before this project can complete (Mr.Dell was at his scathing best). The time overrun has been so much that my daughter who was being conceived along with this project (technically, of course, the statement was overdone. I mean you have to be present for both conceptions and it is impossible to be at both places at the same time, if you see what I mean), completed her 10th birthday recently. Now you come and tell me that it will be again delayed." It was explosion at its best and I found silence to be the best alley.

"Now what do we do?" he asked at width

"We have two weeks of buffer planned in our project plan. We could utilize that. Only we should be on time for the remaining activities of this project." assured him with will all the tone of seriousness that I could conjure up with.

"Big fat chance for that" opined Mr.Dell after what seemed to be an eternity.

See the modus operandi that I learned from the traffic jam? First give him the bad news, real bad. Then top it up with hope and expectation. The nego skills that the traffic jam taught me while talking to my wife being put to good use in another context.

A classic case of asset reuse, as any.