Friday, December 14, 2007


v ordered a GPS online. it was to reach him in 2 weeks. its close to 4 now. guess its lost its way...

Thursday, November 15, 2007


yup, pretty much all of that land is considered forbidden by most of us... from straight-jacket government policies to the language and the food... very much an enigma for society at large. and anyone who's been there (and survived to tell the tale... :P - sorry couldnt resist that)... is looked at with awe and disbelief. and if you are a vegetarian, there are questions of whether you have finally decided to graduate along the food-chain (more of a PhD at that!)

so there i was, a short hop & jump trip to the land of the dragon... part aware, part enamoured but largely amused :) its like an ancient conspiracy... a project in mass cloning. every one of them just like the one who just passed you by! met l (almost all of them have an english name along with their chinese name) on the evening of our arrival and after the preliminary intros decided to catch up the following day over breakfast. quite unsuspecting, i would be damned if i could spot him the following morning! totally lost as i stood there in the restaurant amidst a sea of clones... saving grace - had he not walked up to me, i would have spent the rest of the day playing dumb charades with the hotel staff...

i must confess, just visiting ShenZhen makes for a very skewed fraction of the country. but thats been by window. an extremely young city that could easily pass of as an average american city... wide roads, american cars, swanky metro rails, buildings shooting into the sky... they say the place has grown from the prosperity of Hong Kong nearby. and with one humongous port to boot, things only got better. but what keeps it from being like any other american city? he he heee... :)

three things. they get those right and nothing could probably stop them. language, language and language. these people couldnt speak english to save their lives... yes, our interaction was with those in the MNCs and they knew english (they had to!) but that doesnt make all of china... a walk down the street and you will find the stores playing ONLY english hits. abba and their remixed derivatives seem to have taken their fancy around here. albeit, not one soul will talk to you in english. you could blabber and mime into eternity and they would keep smiling and noding at you like a hit-me doll... s & i eventually resorted to conversing with them in tamil & hindi. heck! it would sound just as strange as english!

and oh boy, those that do manage to speak a bit leave you astounded to say the least... we ask for directions to a shopping plaza supposedly nearby and lady staff in the 5-star hotel (yeah stayed in one of them! :P) says we need to just walk down the road and its right there. unsure, we confirm if a cab or bus would be more suitable and she rather animatedly, with all five fingers pointing to the pavement below, says "no! nooooo! yu wok on zis gvaund. ok." well, at least someone takes crouching tiger seriously!

and that was only the beginning of an adventure... entered a plaza that would remind me of mumbai's heera-panna or chennai's spencer plaza... bargain to your heart's content here folks. and you can do that rather successfully without a word exchanged... all with the help of the handy calculator. store guy punches in his quote and you need to respond accordingly :) and thats how it goes... right down to the basics there - conning ability against perceived value/cheap buys.

s & i eventually managed to get some cheap stuff (with a bit of help from l) - a shuffle lookalike... 2GB for INR450 equivalent (it was fine at the store, but now it only prefers mono) and an 8GB "SONY" flash drive for INR500 equivalent (it was fine at the store, but now its a black hole - files only get copied onto it) i am now left with a USB charger that i dare not plug any of my gadgets into!

Monday, November 05, 2007


people. yes, interesting as ever :) and the chennai-singapore sector has presented itself with quite a few fables... was privy to couple of them this time around.

lone traveller lady (A) steps in with a tiny bag i could bet fell in the check-in category. purely for weight. struggles to get it into the bin above, doesnt quite make the cut and gives me the why-the-hell-cant-you-just-lift-it-and-put-it-up-there look. as i offer to do the honours i am thanked with a glare for keeping her from her window seat. lesson - if you have an aisle seat, never board the plane when your seat is called. murphy has a law for this where the middle and window sitters always drop in later. and there are those who think cabin baggage is just another opportunity to carry more luggage...

group member (B) separated from his tribe across the aisle and has the misfortune (mine actually) of being handed the middle seat. i was already kicking myself for having chosen the aisle... yup, i asked for it. passengers are just about getting cozy in their seats as our man calls for "one coffee and biscuits". at least say please dude!

now A & B start chatting up (they happen to speak the same language) and find delight in conversing over their blaring headphones... inqusitive looks from seats around seem to put them at discomfort and they now decide to remove their headphones and converse over others' headphones :) this over healthy gulps of beer by B (to the point of refusal by the crew) makes for interesting travel company :P

and as we finally make it to singapore and our way out, shift focus to the remainder of the tribe... you know, singapore airlines does a pretty neat job of keeping its flyers happy. but theres that feeling of grass being greener on the other side. here's where our (economy-class) tribe eyes the first-class goodie-bag. its a tragic scene... but cant miss the eye. tribesman eagerly scans every seat of the premium zone, spots one (mind you, discarded by one of the passengers) and quickly grabs hold of it. not sure if the crew spotted him pocket the spoils of his war (am sure he is a socialist - or robinhood deep inside), if they did, they feign ignorance and hold their natural warm smile...


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

of queues, trains and buses...

you see it all around you... and its not just here. people hate standing behind someone else in a queue. its a direct hit on their self-respect. they might be headed nowhere for all they care, but a queue wasnt made for them. so here is a guy supposed to be behind me in line for a train ticket but insists on standing right next to me. and thus is born the second queue... make it a point to remind him of his rightful position on the serpentine and i get the philosophical nod... "hmm... i know". my words however arent encouraging enough for him. its a land of equals after all. this is how democracy is deciphered. the right is exercised when we reach the ticket window... and our man tries to thrust his note in before i do... a stern stare is met with a grunt of cheap liquor. he's in his senses alright!


one thing i like about this city - its got local trains! reminds me of mumbai. but yeah, not that the locals use them... here in chennai, it is little more than a giant toy. picture this - on either side of the compartment you have not more than 2 seats per row. at the design table, either they expected people to get their daily exercise by standing all the way or so ashamed of their work, they hoped (and ensured) as less people as possible would get onto them... and dig this... the signaling system in chennai stations... they still have someone step out of the station master's room to flash a red & green. yes, i heard that guffaw of yours :)

now here's another thing that really intrigues me. i knew restaurants are to shut down by 11pm. i think this was more for the watering holes as a measure of control. now food courts in chennai central station follow the rule to the T. there's a whole group of hungry travellers at the doors and the stall owners are more than glad to shoo them away.

stall owner: no! get lost. i cant serve you. its 11pm.
customer: but am paying you for it! and its not even 11 yet!
s/o: so!? (10:50 actually but i truly madly deeply hate customers) you better come up with a stronger reason than that my lad!
all this as he rather hurriedly covers the shelves as if we looking at them might end up urging him into making a sale. but then, he looks at it more as "groan! he's gonna make me work! baah!!"


now here's my another favourite crib section. BMTC :) bus stand to home is a rs.3 ticket... pay the conductor that much and he gives back a rupee with no ticket... EVERYTIME. insist on a ticket and you will hear the fiercest of the snarls and made to get off at your stop from a running bus :)

Friday, August 03, 2007


it was tax payment time again... colleague tells me "you can pay tax through the net now!"

well, my worry was of paying tax through my nose...


Monday, June 25, 2007


tagged by archana and thought, the 8-hour deadline be damned, if i dont get myself to drum up something, i would never do it ;) here goes! 8 random facts about myself...

  1. i have the most cliched sense of dressing (formals and casuals) and hesitate to experiment with too many colours
  2. like books a lot and cannot resist buying one everytime i step into a book store. ironically, i am an extremely slow reader, so the pile of 'to-read' only grows :) ironically again, i havent read a single indian author's work (except suketu mehta's 'maximum city') - oh yes, a Wodehosue is almost always the other book i would also be reading... keeps me sane (!?)
  3. i find it hard to take life seriously and there is this constant need to see everything around in lighter vein
  4. gadget geek. like to be surrounded by gizmos and gadgets and strongly feel it easier to hold intelligent conversations with machines than with people :P
  5. my quirkyness at times makes me wonder if i have OCD (and a selective one at that!)
  6. always wanted a pet dog but never had the courage to pet a dog - but that was until i met katreena - my uncle's (little) german shepherd :)
  7. hope to work on my photography skills and make it a serious hobby someday
  8. hate using capital letters when i blog :)

and here's the list of the chosen 8 who shall continue the chain (much to their chagrin) :P

vakil - where the demented vakil resides...
TG - hoping to see her back soon...
seets - here's to more random thoughts :)
prowe - love his observations on life!
raaga - and she writes about cooking too - but i've never tried going by her experiments ;)
pranav - one should read his traveloges :)
quicksilver - deliciously alive, as she puts it :)
~j~ - here's to more postcards J! and hope this helps you break the block ;)

and then there are the rules to live by (egad!)
  1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
  2. People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
  3. At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
  4. If you fail to do this within eight hours, you will not reach Third Series or attain your most precious goals for at least two more lifetimes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

is it news?

wonder what makes for a good news article... factual reporting, objective analysis, and something more i would guess but how about relevance to the topic? WoM tells me The Hindu is pretty good when it comes to such things. but a recent article kinda places the opinion under doubt...

this is about employees of 'Indian' going on a flash strike and one of the unfortunate passengers was a gal from the south who was being refused an alternate accommodation. agreed that it is not fair on the part of the airline to treat anyone that way, but reporter goes on to add that she "finds it difficult to converse in Hindi." now how does that matter here!? does it make her case any more pitiable? what is the reporter trying to express anyway?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

of cyborgs and HANs

by far, the most path breaking (literally) mode of communication one might come across. data transfer over tactile terminals, built-in encryption and authentication protocols, biometric probably?

couple it with implants on the human body. a more desirable cyborg in the making? trinity would learn to fly a chopper by touching the manual. you could walk past someone and (if they forgot to secure their transmission), probably read their thoughts :) - mel gibson wouldn't have needed that hair dryer treatment... "forgetting" would be an interesting aspect too, where would the machine stop and the human kick-in... or the other way :)

what is also interesting to note, in such a scenario, is the route collective information will take. will there be a difference in tacit and common knowledge? and the plethora of ethical questions. this is merely scratching the surface...

definitely a bicentennial man :)

Monday, May 28, 2007


it was a while since i had read up on current affairs - but a glance at it over the weekend told me what i had been missing all this while.

news says, cafe coffee day yes, our (un)friendly neighbourhood CCD, is going luxury. its boss wants to start a chain of high end hotels, starting off with chikmagalur, replete with swimming pools, sauna, jacuzzis, et al - some even private ones! keeping in tradition with any average cafe of theirs one would come across, it sets one's imagination on how this new venture might turn out to be.

sample this.

customer (C): excuse me, where is the fitness centre?
hotel attendant (HA): thats down the isle to your right sir.
C: (on reaching down the hall to his right) er... i see only aerobics mats. where are the treadmills and the weights?
HA: we dont have those sir.
C: but your brochure said you have them all.
HA: it is not here sir. we are yet to order them. not in stock sir.
C: eh? whatever... can you at least tell me where the jacuzzi is?
HA: the room adjacent to the swimming pool sir.
C: er.. excuse me, the jacuzzi water isnt hot.
HA: yes sir, it is cold.
C: that's what i meant when i said it isnt hot. isnt it supposed to be hot?
HA: yes sir. but the heater isnt working sir.
C: but the sauna seems to be working fine. how come?
HA: yes sir, you can use the sauna also.
C: i meant the sauna has hot steam in it. isnt the heater supposed to be down?
HA: sir, we use different heaters for the two sir. that one is working.
C: hmmm. ok. (sigh) say, i had these coupons that give me complimentary use of the jacuzzi, but since that isnt working, can i swap it for the sauna instead?
HA: am sorry sir, that cannot be done.
C: and why not!? it is just swapping one service to another!
HA: am sorry sir, but they are not priced the same.
C: so i shall pay the damn difference! @#$%!
HA: am sorry sir, combining coupons and cash is not allowed. you will need a coupon for the sauna or pay for it in total.
C: (ripping his hair) aaarrrggghhh!
HA: (pause) so would you like to opt for the sauna sir? (C nods - his head could boil the jacuzzi by now) would you like some aromatic oils and vapours while you are in it sir?
C: (looking around for sharp and dangerous objects) no thanks, just gimme the goddamn steam!
HA: very fine sir. (more pause then presents C with a folder) sir... the bill sir, it will be charged to your room. you dont have to sign it now, this is just for your information.
C: @#$%!

the icing on the cake - it seems the venture has got going with a meagre investment of 15 crores. i would be surprised if this episode doesnt remain a figment of my imagination... not to forget, a 24hour coffee shop - catered to by the regular cafe coffee day staff!! (faint)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

they didnt tell us!

agreed that some people are a bit slow on the uptake even in seemingly obvious situations... but mankind as we know it, has its ways of baffling its own understanding.

Britons are gradually waking up to the news that their kids are becoming obese. yes, in literal terms, its news for them (saw it on almost all the channels here). but that seems to be the least of their concerns... what seems to be bothering them, more than the sight of their under-11 covering the better part of the sofa, is that nobody told them their kids were growing fat!!? rather dense i should say... (no i dont mean the kids!!) one parent complains that the government is now doing nothing about it! look, my kid fed on the fast-food stores that you allowed to be erected, now he's grown out of his shorts thanks to you (huh!?) and you ought to do something about it! wow!

but people do know how to throw their weight around... news channel calls in the health minister and asks her what her ministry plans to do about this 'crisis'... and minister asks the public to be more judicious in their choice of diet and discipline their kids a bit (i heard your jaw drop... i agree. thats sacrilege in this land!) in a perfect world her answer would have been well digested but we are not there yet. tv host with all her seriousness asks if she implies she's not going to do anything about it & leave it to the poor unsuspecting parents to fend for themselves... poor poor parents! tsk tsk... they just didnt see it coming did they!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

its the fear... yeah!

reminded of psmith at times like these... should i rate this as unusual? maybe yes. improbable? certainly not! :)

v and i making our way back from office, wait for the lifts in the tube station... and i hear some chatter around us. the tone and words being repetitive in nature draw my attention to its source... am still looking for words to describe what they were. am sure v is just as much at a loss! yes, she was blurting 'i love you' to v... does catch us off guard to say the least! we feel it prudent to remain silent spectators to the entire affair...

they were two of them, both packed with make-up... frail attempts at hiding nature's malady... feminine looking nevertheless... and it was not their hair or their dress that brought me to this gender conclusion... a fair display led me to believe so (no pun intended!). lets call these two (the persons silly!) s1 and s2...

s1: (looking at v) i love you... i really love you...

me looking totally doe eyed... first at her... as the zipper traverses its teeth to & fro and finally at her

s2: (to s1) they are scared... (more zipper movement)
s1: come on! its ok to smile!
s2: no they are angry! they are angry at us...
s1: come on! there's nothing to be angry... surely you can smile!

mind you i was pretty much tempted to smile if only i had managed to go beyond awe (and what lay behind the zipper)...

s1: they do not understand english... thats why they are not smiling! (i really liked her depth of understanding here - no pun again!!)
s2: of course they can understand english... they are in england! (hmmm... this one's logic was stronger)

but our stoic silence and ignorance seemed to convince them that we really didnt understand english! for the rest of the public these two seemed to not exist at all, but for the mother pulling her child away from them... (un)fortunately the lift journey ended, we saw the last of them and out we were on our way home... mulling over the recent incident (and thinking aloud if they accepted cards...) had heard enough about the youth of this land... saw it first hand today :)

the curious few here would wonder why we didnt take our chances... v's outlook held a lot of truth... fear of aids is the global guiding force!

the trash heap has spoken... yeah!!