Of Haircuts,Discounts and Coconuts

This is how the going has been for me in Singapore. I should have posted this long back, but better late than never.
Curly troubles : I visited the hair saloon recently. “Ooo cully hai'(hair) aar? Very deefficul tu com’ lah (Though my hair is definitely not curly, its shamefully dull when compared to the straight, shiny hair of  the people here. I told the guy to cut it “medium” and not to make it too short. One thing I would like to mention here that I totally love haircuts. The lazy atmosphere in the saloon, the rhythmic sound of scissors and the slightly ticklish feel when they touch my hair transports me into a trance-like state where I drift away seamlessly between multiple worlds, with no boundaries between them. Or maybe I just get drowsy. Either way, like it has happened a lot many times, by the time he was finished, I observed with a shock that my crop is as short as freshly cut paddy! He happily told me, “See, looking neat ooreaddy(already). Very easy to com’ now laaaah”. What he actually meant was that he has saved the comb from the dastardly responsibility of working on my hair for a few days!   I expressed him my heartfelt gratitude, paid him “ten dollaa” and left muttering to myself. Seriously though,his position is understandable. They just have no clue how to go ahead when presented with the classic Indian hair, so one can”t really blame him. This is not the last time this happened. And this is the least of the problems I face here.
Thrifty wars: It sometimes gets on to my nerves how lot of conversations revolve around costs and expenses of something-something especially when Indians get together. Wherever you see a bunch of us hanging out, the most prominent topic of discussion would be who has got the said item(a tour package,an electronic gadget,onions – just about anything) the cheapest. Imagine an office scenario. This is how a sample conversation goes :
Person 1: Hey yesterday I bought a mixee.
Person 2 (automatically) : Kitte mein liya?
P1 (totally aware now that this is not going to end well for him) : $48
P2 (with a triumphant look) : I got it for $43. You should have gone to so-and-so place and bought it.
P1(to himself): OK fine. Thanks for the now utterly useless info. I’ll use it to bug somebody else.
Person 3 : (Let me introduce this person. No I cant, since I hadnt ever seen him or spoken to him until that moment when he suddenly popped up from the other cubicle looking as if he has waited for this moment all his life and this is the precise moment which will define his existence on the earth and render meaning to it. So he seizes the opportunity with both hands and jumps into the conversation): Did you say $43? What man? That’s too expensive. U just have to change two train lines, 3 buses and lo you are this so-and-so place where you have to bargain a little and you’ll get it for $37. If you had asked me before, I would’ve told you. Next time don’t do this mistake. Enquire with me first” Now that he is done talking, he looks around in slow motion, silently daring anyone to challenge his price. No one does. There is pindrop silence all around. P1 and P2 portray a variety of emotions simultaneously – awe, despair, disgust, anger and resignation to name a few.They take a silent vow to have their revenge on P3, when he buys something next. The battle is lost, but the war has just began. P3 grins and sits down , with a sense of joy and fulfillment gradually filling his heart. This will make a heartwarming dinner story for his wife,he reflects.
The coconut dilemma : Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined I will be facing problems of such gargantuan proportions in my tryst with the world outside India. I am a big fan of fresh coconut chutney and almost cant do without dosa and chutney once in a few days. And I do not like the packaged grated coocnut they sell in stores. Such blasphemy! It is like choosing …hmmm…a Mithunda movie over an Aamir Khan movie. Or for the international audience, choosing a Twilight movie over a Harry Potter Album. Anyway, one fine day, I got a coconut home. Then it occurred to me. Where to break the coconut? The question popped out from my head and lingered on, just hovering in the air, taunting me. This was not going to be an easy choice. I called my roommate to conference. He said no question of experimentation in the house for risk of breaking the tiles or the kitchen stand. I wondered why I never cared about the tiles back in India. And we could not find a stone to break it on too. When I sufficiently pestered my roommate, he calmly pointed me his head ala Lord Vamana Murthi to Bali Chakravarti and indicating that that I can break it on his head. I dropped the thought after pondering over it for a moment. As I was devising and destroying scheme upon scheme in my mind, I looked in our balcony. Voila! There was a small drainage opening right in front of the door. I was reminded of a quote from the Alchemist – when u want something really bad, all the universe conspires to help you achieve. As the sun set over the horizon and darkness shrouded this half of the earth, I opened the door, looked around for any signs of humans around and approached the hole ever so stealthily. I hit the coconut to the ground with all my might combined with a mental victory roar and quickly ran back into the house after collecting all the pieces. And thus fresh coconut chutney was made available for everyone since then.
The la-la effect: Well this is an attribute typical of Singapore. “lah” in Singapore is totally like “da” in Bangalore and “ra” in Hyderabad. Only difference is the Indian versions sound masculine like they are supposed to, and the Singapore one sounds,well,gay (because of the la-la-la sound, I guess) . What gets me slightly irked is the fact that Indians who have been living here since a long time catch the local English. Try this:
Me: Shall we go for lunch now?
Long time NRI: Can,can.
Me: Does this restaurant have vegetarian food?
Long time NRI: Have,have.
I think its just a part of natural evolution. Anyway, if you want to listen to some hilarious Singlish (Singapore English), check this out: Singlish chat on phone
More Singapore stories coming up!
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Crises of our times : Part 3 – To grow up or not to grow up

There are two kinds of people in this world : 1) Those who grow up and get serious with their lives and 2) Those who practise kung-fu in their bathrooms.

I think growing up is over-rated. Also being mature. Given a choice,and by choice I mean if someone tells you “You can be as successful and make as much money and pick up as my gals”, none of us will want to be mature. Most people are so engrossed in pretending to be mature and grown up that they have forgotten that they are all pretending to be so. Come to think of it, the truth is, all kids want to be adults so that they can boss around people and all adults want to be kids so they can do fun stuff without people suggesting they take tranquilizers.

Well, if you still haven’t got it, I am the second kind. Its not easy work being a kid, mind you. Being a child in a grown up’s body throws up its own challenges. There are times when we are forced to act grown up when it would be so easy not to. Like with the elderly lady at a wedding who pinches and twists your cheek so hard (“You are next in line”) it drains the blood off your face and you have a strong urge to yell on top of your voice ala Ross “You son of a bitch! It’ll be your funeral if you don’t let go of my face RIGHT THIS MOMENT”, yet you give the most genial smile ever and stand there rubbing your cheek and still smiling and nodding your head. Or in a team meeting at 2’o clock in the aftrenoon when you have to put a mildly contemplative yet interested face when your manager is rambling on about the project strategy since the last 25 minutes and all you want to do is fling your head back and make loud snoring noises just to annoy him or even better, slowly rise from your seat with both hands wide and shout “I have the power of the 9 tails now. I shall make the world tremble.Kneel before me or I will destroy this conference room. Muhahahahahaha”.

And there are times when we do pretend to be grown ups just for the kicks. I sometimes pour chocolate milkshake into a cocktail glass and sip at it like I’m having some classy Scotch whiskey while puffing at my invisible cigarette. Or when I borrow a highly intellectual sounding novel from the library ( like the one I’m reading right now “The greatest show on earth: The Evidence for Evolution”), force myself into reading it for the next 2 months and then forget all about it within a day of returning the book. Or when I get serious with my life and make to-do lists (if you have seen my last post) and fill it with tasks like – put used dinner plate in the sink, finish 10 pages of the book, call mom today, google if Captain Jack sparrow actually existed. Sometimes I goof up and put a herculean task like “FOLD CLOTHES” in the list but then end of the day, finishing 9/10 tasks is job well done anyway.

In fact this blog post is sort of a rant. Everyone says I’m still a kid.That I need to grow up. My parents and close friends sometimes go – “You are so full of yourself Pavan, you actually don’t know anything.You need to grow up”. The rest of them are no good either – “Pavan, don’t be so innocent. Grow up”. It must be my fault that I show totally different faces of myself to different people, but then so does everyone,right? That point aside,what used to irk me is that they both are trying to make the same point. That I’m still a kid. Now I’ve grown up enough to realize I’ll be happier being a kid than pretending to be a grown-up anyday. In other words,I’m not gonna say I loved The Curious case of Benjamin Button (which I saw recently and found dreary) when I enjoy episodes of Full metal Alchemist (another cheesy and awesome anime) more. And if somebody tells me I need to grow up, I coolly draw my death-ray blaster and…. PUFF!

Crises of our times:Part 2 – Really bad times at the movies

I love all genres of movies (cheesy Bollywood fare included) and take pride at being an intelligent movie-goer.But these are grave times for a movie-buff to live in.Friday after Friday, one crappy movie after another gets released,is rejected and bites the dust. 2010 may well have been the worst year for movies. If you are a movie buff, you will know what I am talking about. Lets get some perspective. I was in 6th standard when Jurassic Park released, in 1993. It would take too long for the movie to reach my small town theater; so I watched it on VCD. Little did I realize that years later, I am going to regret all my life for having missed that cinematic experience of a lifetime. Year 2000. Lagaan releases and sweeps the nation in a frenzy where theaters turned into cricket stadiums in a never-before-seen mass hysteria. Or so they say,because I watched the movie in its 12th week,with a 3rd or 4th time audience who only cheered when Bhuvan hit the winning sixer. Since then, I’ve taken a silent pledge that I will watch all big movies in theater. And that’s how I came to see Iron Man 2,Clash of the Titans,Tron:Legacy in 2010,to name a few.Your regular,big-budget, highly-anticipated movies.The twist is,instead of enjoying these movies, I had to endure them. So I thought its time for a rap on the knuckles for our filmmakers.

Let me address our Bollywood fraternity first, one by one:

Mr.Akshay Kumar,
I have somehow ended up seeing lot of your movies in the recent past and have hated most of them. I am sick and tired of your shout-out-your-lines dialogue delivery,your dead-pan-face type of comedy or your I-am-just-being-really-really-stupid-so-you-morons-laugh-at-me kind of roles. I believe there are more such roles of you in 2011 too, one among which is directed by Shirish Kunder.God bless your career. Just one question: How the frig did you think Tees Maar Khan was going to work at any level???

Mr.Johar & Mr. Bhansali,
I want to believe that your attempts were sincere. But please avoid mish-mashing 4-5 Hollywood movies into one movie and presenting it to us and thinking that if one part of the mish-mash doesn’t work, the rest 3 definitely will.Copy just one movie at a time and do it sincerely. Stick to the original. Also please avoid adding sequences just to manipulate the audience’s emotions and make them teary-eyed. Try this : Hrithik Roshan’s mom comes to meet him, and in the next scene,BAM! she is dead. Ash’s husband appears, beats her and takes her away and is never seen again.

Mrs.Farah Khan,
I liked MHN & loved OSO, but TMK? All I can say to you is,keep your husband out of Bollywood. And same question as Akki: Didn’t you at any point during the shooting of that horrendous movie have a hunch that something really terrible is going on here? Or were you just conning everyone involved into some kind of heist like hero does in the movie?

Mr.Shirish Kunder (writer of TMK,Farah Khan’s husband)
Stay away from movies. JUST.STAY.AWAY.

Mr.Hrithik Roshan ,
Just when you are about to sign a movie,please follow these steps: 1) Take a deep breath. 2) Pause. 3) Take a deep breath again. 4) Relax for a minute. 5) Now continue.

Mr.Abhishek Bachchan,
No idea? Get idea.

Mr.Imran Khan,
Making cute puppy-like faces is not going to get you anywhere as an actor.Grow up fast and choose better roles.

Mr.Ram Gopal Varma,
Sir, no one knows what goes on in your mind.You won’t listen to me anyway. Even as you dump one crappy idea after another on us, we still expect you to suddenly come up with another spark of brilliance like a Satya or a Company or one of your superb Telugu movies from times long past. I sometimes wonder where you get the money for all the “experimental” cinema you make.

Ms.Deepika Padukone, Ms. Priyanka Chopra, Ms.Sonam Kapoor and all ladies,
Munni & Sheila stole the thunder from you gals last year. I hope you follow their footsteps and do a better job in 2011 :P ;)

To all Hollywood filmmakers in general,
You guys have succeeded in making me groan every time at the end of a film trailer, you announce “in 3D” with a thud.Lets admit it, not all of us are James Cameron and not every movie is Avatar. Please don’t use 3D just for the heck of it and definitely don’t add it as an afterthought.10 out of 10 times, the effects are going to be disastrous. (Clash of the Titans, Avatar:The Last airbender). I also want to point out that original ideas and great story-telling will always be appreciated, but I guess we are too late for this year. 2011 is again going to choc-a-bloc with dead and buried franchises being brought to life, prequels,remakes,sequels of remakes and what not. I daresay I’m looking forward to few of them ( X Men: first Class,Kung Fu panda 2, Captain America etc). So I can only appeal to you not to spoil the the sanctity and the honor for the original movies, and if you can, at least try to get some sort of plot going.

But we can’t stop going to the movies,can we? :) Like, I know Transformers-3 is going to be as crappy as TF-1 & TF-2, with close up shots of colorful metal clanking and scattering all over the screen, but I am still going to catch it anyway. I only hope things get so bad that Micheal Bay gets nominated for Oscars next year. Have a great time at the movies!

Update: Seems like 7 Khoon Maaf is also getting bad reviews. Goes to prove even a brilliant filmmaker like Vishal Bhardwaj can have a bad day too. Alas, where have the good stories gone?

Crises of our times:Part 1 – The 25-odd single Indian male

At this point,some of my friends are going to point out to me that I’m not 25-odd and that I’m, in fact, 26 years and 5 months, 6 days old and ticking. May god strike down upon them with thunder and lightning. Seems like quarter life crisis is a real thing. These days, I find myself exclaiming, “WTF? That Miss World chick can’t be 17! Look at how ‘healthy’ she looks” I guess I’m just in a state of denial. 2-3 years ago seemed much….better. I hope to grow out of this very soon and comfortably fantasize about gals much younger than me. And while we are on the topic,I shall no longer be jealous of Katrina Kaif. 3 years ago, I expressed my shock like this – this woman, this huge,big bosom-ed woman is MY age? While I look like a bachcha?!  3 years later, circa 2010, she did a Sheila Ki Jawani and I have no choice but to accept her wholeheartedly.Now lets look at the some of the practical aspects of the issue at hand. Being 25 and single, you are subjected to every kind of slander – from uncles you have never known “do you have a clear path for your career and life?” to the aunties “Beta,why you no marry? long term good. If no marry now, you retire and your son still no job” to your 15-year old niece “25 and single? Disgraceful” to your mom “Ayyo,why have you become dark? Have you tired applying honey mixed with lime?”. As for me,I have no worries. The family elders have assured me of total freedom – “we have no problem with you finding a gal by yourself.But she should be a Brahmin…and a kannadiga…and of course she should not be of the same gotra….and the 28 qualities in your horoscope should match. But you are free to select any gal you want”.This gotra thing is a huge issue.Until now,I had no opinion of sage Vishwamitra(my gotra) except for a mild amusement,courtesy his fiery affair with a high-profile celestial maiden, but now I positively annoyed at the guy.Actually, that kind of proves that I’m his descendant, because being annoyed was said to be his favorite kind of emotion.(which n turn implies I’ll have a fiery,passionate affair with some celestial babe..hee hee hee) Anyways,going by this, if I fancy a gal, I’m going to start the conversation with “So, what’s your gotra?”.And if she is the same gotra,”Blimey! We are brother and sister! I’m so glad I met you and asked you this question before I asked you out”.

Not that its easy to find a gal you fancy at this juncture.Forget college years, you have even past the age where you could just send fraandship request you any random gal on orkut,”like” every gal’s status message and comment on every photo in FB or log in to yahoo chat rooms and ping a “cutegal008” with “asl (age sex location)?”. By now, you would have seen lot of gals come, pass by, get married and settle down; you would have analyzed and ruthlessly judged your female friends for all their good and bad points (sorry? :D) and then painstaking built a mental image of your perfect girl,carried it around everywhere mentally doing a “scan” on every gal you meet and always ending up with a “Pattern match failed”.Slowly,wisdom dawns upon you. The other day when I told my “criteria” to Rashmi, she was surprised “This is all? You are not able to find a gal with such simple criteria?” I said “Oh,these are my arranged marriage criteria. My love marriage criteria are different”.Go ahead and judge me all you want, I only speak the truth.

And all your married (ex-)friends are no inspiration either.Right after marriage, they suddenly disappear from the face of the earth and are zapped into a parallel universe where no single is allowed access.You can only access them through windows between the two universes,like facebook photo albums, gtalk and such. As much as you want to believe from their cute,smiling faces in the pics, you can’t help but think that is an elaborate racket going on here. Everyone including your parents,close friends,relatives,the TV,the government,Suresh Kalmadi(why not?) is involved in this racket and are trying their level best to push you into the proverbial well.You never know what goes on in the other universe.You finally ignore all the ominous signs,all the warnings and finally take the bait and then the truth dawns upon you.Then it will be your turn to pose and smile back from the windows and attract more hapless victims to the other side. Muhahaha, I’ve figured it all out now! But alas,I only very well know that at the moment of judgment, I am surely going to falter and take the same steps like so many have before me and fallen to ruin. And that is how the cookie crumbles ;).

Thoughts and Resolutions

I think it is only justified I warn my readers here. Below, the author has just listed few recent mundane events about his not-so-happening life, most probably because of a misplaced illusion that these events were important to his own life, and as an extension,important to others too. As if it was not enough, he has also gone ahead and made a vain attempt at philosophical ranting and brooding ( just in case the readers miss the tone). Hence, for an unsuspecting reader, considerable grave dangers lie ahead. If you are still tempted to risk this read for the sake of a slight possibility of a guilty pleasure from the morose delectation in a fellow human being’s miserable life, then go ahead and suit yourself. You have been warned.

  • Awesome bike trip to Lepakshi (130 kms from Bangalore). It was just the wide open road,me and clouds above. Peaceful. Thanks Kots for coming :). Resolution 5 trips before end of year. 1 down , 4 more to go.
  • My first Tamil movie. Someone at the theater asked which movie we have come to watch. I replied excitedly,”Endhiran” as if I have been eating Chennai-style saapad sadam all my life and am the biggest Rajni fan ever. I looked at Vini and we both started laughing. And for all those who have seen the movie,”Roboooooo” :D. Wait for my next post ;)
  • You don’t get to listen to great music these days, but there are a few sparks of brilliance here and there if you look carefully. I am talking about the soundtrack of Udaan. Its been one month and I just haven’t been able to get over it. Absolutely amazing track. Most.inspirational.album.ever. Its sad that albums like this don’t get noticed in the reels of crappy music being churned out. Similar thing happened with Luck By Chance(another awesome album and movie too) last year.
  • Its great to make new friends,always. I’m doing good at this. Resolution
    Shun ego and reach out to more people.
  • I am back to my yoga routine with full gusto..err… well with whatever gusto I can manage. You don’t need any more inspiration than those hundreds of youtube videos with fit and bendy females teaching you how to be like them. (As weird as it sounds,its much better than practicing watching men with ripped bodies and huge nipples). Resolution Cut off 3 kgs by year end. Wondering if I can do it without having to run in the outside cold :D.
  • Special mention to Futurama. It started off slow but I am totally into it now .And this line never gets old : “I’m bender,baby! Pleeeease insert LIQUOR” :D
  • I went to my native place for Dasara and returned back,mostly unhurt.No major mishaps to report.
  • And the most important thing. A chain of events (which unfolded over the last few months,mind you) resulted in me going into a DETOX mode from my best friends. These people are my best friends, people who I talk to everyday, and totally cutting them off for even a few days was not easy. But then its no good to be in a comfort zone all your life. You’ll never see how things could’ve been if things are not as they are now. I feel I should’ve continued this for a while longer to see the full results, but I guess I’ve learnt my lessons.
  • On a related arrogant note, people WILL act stupid if they have to,and you have to take all this in your stride and move on. There’s a whole LIFE waiting ahead ;)

Update : I dropped my phone somewhere on the way back from office, and never got it back. RIP, Phone :P. Today I learned its always advisable to keep valuables in the bag rather than in your trouser pockets.

Mish-Mash Post

The title says it all. Years later, I would like my blog to remind me nostalgically(???) of my life from time to time. So once in a while,such posts will happen (Not because I couldn’t think of anything else to write,okay?). Those who already know what’s gonna come can directly go to the comments section ;)

Lets start with rants. My most popular rant since last week: My bike has got delayed by atleast 6 weeks :(. I’ve told everyone I know that I am getting a bike. 2 weeks later there is no bike to show!!! Those idiots informed me of the delay after the payment X(. But how typical of me! This time I didn’t wanna hear people say “Always hype and no action” (I knew it !!!) but this is going the same way.Sigh! Speaking of people reminds me of another rant of mine these days. Suddenly everyone has gotten busy. I have to mention The HP fiasco here so that its not forgotten :P. No groups to hang out with,to go to the movies regularly or most importantly,for the trips. What irritates me is that I feel I am the only one who is free,who is available all the time. I have given this a thought and have come with a plan of action. More of this in days to come. If Mom hears me cribbing though, she already has a different action plan ready. I don’t need to elaborate.

Dieting : People(Friends at office,particularly) have got bugged hearing this from me day in day out. I checked my weight today. 81.1 kg (with clothes on,mind you). FYI,I’ve reduced. I have to get to 78, and pretty soon at that. As Naruto would say,”Yosha!” Oh, I’ve started watching another anime, Getbackers (I can hear the exasperated sighs). Its only 49 episodes; will be finished quickly ;)

Cooking at home is going on well. I had made Bisi Bele Bhath last last week,which turned out yummy and pongal last week, which was not so yummy. I’ll try something exotic next. Any suggestions? :D

Coming to movies, the good ones recently: Socha Na Tha (Abhay Deol’s debut and Imtiaz Ali’s directorial debut), The Reader,12 monkeys. I thought The Hangover was overhyped. And saw Magadheera at this popular single screen theatre where one man stands at the ticket counter and shooes people away with a stick (“block alli sigatte hogappa“) and the theatre manager stands authoritatively and directs people to black tickets. And yeah, Kaminey is here and the reviews are very very positive.

Reading The Three Musketeers and The Kite Runner. Totally contrasting reads when it comes to writing style and narration.

Was listening to ‘Teredide mane O baa atithi’ yesterday. The fact that I can appreciate how really beautiful this song is made me feel lucky,proud and happy to be born as an Indian. And this is just one example of the beautiful things around you. Happy Independence day :)

I can’t think of much else. And, here : C&H greatest .This should make up for wasting your time on this useless post.

Finally,thanks to everyone who made my Birthday special last week. Arigato :)