Saturday, December 5, 2009

An Ode to my Life Support System

It’s too dark…
“Let me put the light on so you can see”
Lost my way…
“I will guide you, there’s no hurry.”

It’s too cold…
“Here, this will keep you warm”
It’s raining…
“Oh! Let me shelter you from the storm”

Feel a little weak…
“No problem! You can lean on me”
And now am feeling lonely…
“Hey - I am here – I will keep you company”

Feeling a little sad…
“Hmm… let me cheer you up!”
Now am feeling old…
“Relax - you are still classy, my butter-cup!”

Ah! I am feeling good
“I am so glad you are”
I love you so, my dear wife,
“Save it, it’s a bloody miracle that we came this far!!”

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Healer

“I just don’t believe this!!” exclaimed Mahesh peering through his binoculars as he scanned the mountain side. “What’s the matter?” asked Jeevak as he continued working with the DNA scanner. Running routine checks for hitherto undiscovered species or mutations in plants, insects and small reptiles was part of the SOP on these government sponsored study tours to any of the Noah’s Ark locations.

Noah’s Ark was a WWF program that was established 58 years ago to save the ‘most important’ species of terrestrial life forms from extinction. After years of hard-nosed negotiations, the Noah’s Ark Treaty had been signed by 367 countries to identify 4277 locations that included islands, mountains, river valleys and swathes of plains across the world to be used as reserves to sustain these terrestrial life forms. The program had been more successful than was expected and most of the targeted species had flourished in their protected habitats.

“Look for yourself”, said Mahesh handing Jeevak his binoculars. What Jeevak saw was unprecedented. He had never seen so many chimpanzees foraging together in all the years that he had spent studying them here. This was way bigger than a super-tribe. It seemed that all the tribes in NA622 had merged to form one tribe of monstrous proportions! Going by current understanding of chimp social behaviour, this was something off the charts. Male alpha chimps ruled only for a few years before being challenged and replaced by another who was stronger and had more support within the tribe. To be able to challenge and ‘defeat’ alpha chimps from other tribes and assimilate their tribes into his own would need political capabilities much beyond what chimps normally were known to possess.

Even as Jeevak’s mind was racing in search of an explanation, he noticed a small male that was, surprisingly, being groomed by several other chimps. This had to be the alpha male! Only when he zoomed in for a closer look did he see that around the chimp’s neck was the same Aura Healing Device that he had lost in the same jungle 5 years ago.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Visit

It had been a pleasant surprise this morning to receive Ravi’s call. It was crazy that he had lived in Bangalore for the last 2 years and we hadn’t got in touch. It was a crime to say the very least. The day was Saturday, a holiday, and we decided to right the situation without much ado. We agreed that I should visit him the very same day at his home in Banaswadi for lunch. It did not matter that I had to attend a relative’s wedding that day. Weddings are a dime a dozen in Bangalore. My wife Shalini, the kids and my mother would adequately represent us. With such a large contingent from our home, my absence would definitely go unnoticed at the wedding. At least, this was the logic that I used to convince Shalini to go without me.

Thus, having freed myself from the shackles of social righteousness, I set out early to meet a friend who had been my neighbor for 4 years at the student’s hostel 15 years back when we studied engineering. It is such an irony, that the closer the friend, the longer we are comfortable with not keeping in touch. Maybe it has something to do with the confidence we have in the strength of our friendship, the belief that it will last, no matter what.

The locality where my friend lives was unfamiliar to me. I had never been there despite having lived in Bangalore for almost 30 years. But I did have the directions to his house. I always prided myself on being a good navigator who never asks for directions. But this time, I must admit I got a ‘little’ lost, not because I lacked in any way with respect to my navigation skills, but because of a lack of sense on the part of Bangalore’s municipal authorities in how they allot house numbers and in their reluctance to put up boards with street names. To add to my trouble, my cell phone had gone out of charge and I didn’t have my friend’s phone number written down anywhere. But lady luck smiles sometimes without reason and sometimes does not, even when there is lots of reason to smile, leading me to believe that she is nuts. I stopped at a rather large, nice looking house and enquired a woman standing at the gate if she knew my friend. The woman turned out to be Ravi’s wife and this was his house! Bingo!

I introduced myself and was politely invited to come in instead of standing at the gate. Inside the house, I was welcomed by Ravi’s mother and his daughter who was about 8 years old. I had brought a box of chocolates with me, which I promptly handed over to the little girl, to her great delight. I have always maintained that chocolates are the safest gifts that you could possibly carry when you visit someone’s house. This conviction of mine was proved right yet again!

The house was large and tastefully furnished. I settled down at one end of very comfortable sofa in the open drawing room. Before I could enquire, I was told that Ravi had stepped out and would be back soon. So I waited. I attempted making small talk with Ravi’s wife and mother, who however, were more inclined to ensure that I was comfortable and feeling at home.

Soon I had a variety of delectable snacks placed in front of me. I must say the timing was right. I had had a very light breakfast in anticipation of a big lunch and was starting to feel hungry. I attacked the samosas first. They were delicious and I made it known to my hosts. I made a mental note to pick some up from the same shop on my way back. Next, I attacked the kesari bhath, which of course, was home made and was just like how I liked it - full of pure fragrant ghee and roasted cashew.

I was half-way through my kesari bhath, when I heard the gate open and a man entered the house through the main door which had been left open. He glanced at me once as he walked past the drawing room into, what I understood to be the kitchen since I saw Ravi’s wife and mother-in-law flitting in and out of there all the time. I heard them conversing in hushed tones. There was a brief silence before the man came out and said “Excuse me, whom did you want to meet?”

I was taken a little aback, but replied in an inquiring sort of way, “I wanted to meet Ravi?”

The man’s expression did not change. I remember I almost choked on the kesari bhath and spilt the juice on the carpet when he replied, “I am Ravi. What can I do for you?”


Sunday, August 23, 2009

To my Master, with Love

The Beginning

I entered this world on a cool starry night without much fanfare. Heck, even my dad wasn’t there to receive me. I remember that I couldn’t see much, but it didn’t matter. I was anyway not used to seeing. I didn’t cry either. Why would I? It smelt like heaven out here in this world. I can’t ever forget my first breath. It smelt absolutely delicious! I later came to associate that smell with something called “chicken biryani”. I do clearly remember lying there, fresh from my womb, enjoying the first fragrant breaths of my life. This indeed was a wonderful beginning to my brand new life.

My post-natal bliss was too good to last. I suddenly felt something warm and slimy, being repeatedly thrown over me, knocking me off balance. And before I could gather my wits about me, I had a sponge like thing stuffed into my mouth! I instinctively sucked and to my surprise, felt a warm sweet liquid flowing down my throat. It felt good. The warm liquid in my stomach soon soothed my frayed nerves and I fell into a deep sleep dreaming about what might lay at the other end of that intoxicating aroma that had so titillated me.

For many days to come, my world would continue to be dark and languid, with these mysterious but delicious smells teasing me all day. Unfortunately for me, I had to be content with only this liquid that I called “milk”, which I got by sucking furiously at the sponge every now and then. I learnt to associate this milk dispensing sponge to a word called ‘Mom’.

One fine day, I woke up with light in my eyes! Yes, I could see! As my vision cleared, I perceived this humongous face looking down at me with large, watery, love-filled eyes. It scared the hell out of me! But what happened next would have scared the hell out of the devil himself! The mouth opened and a huge pink thing shot out at great speed. It was aimed straight at my face. I tried to duck, but could not and the next thing I knew – SPLAT!! I was covered with a huge quantity of a warm, slimy, wet thing. This was familiar! And then before I could find my ground, the milk-sponge was in my mouth! Aha – so, this was “Mom” - the milk dispenser!

And then, from somewhere under Mom, there emerged furry little whimpering, cute looking creepy crawlies. Mom said these were my brothers and sisters. My immediate reaction was that of puzzlement. They all looked alike – four legs and one tail, two eyes and two ears, one nose and one mouth. So why was one a brother and the other a sister? That question was moot. What was important was that I actually had a family. We were a dog family. But where was dad? Another moot question. His absence hardly mattered. He would never have been able to dispense milk the way Mom did.

Our home was in a gutter. It was one of those neat little cozy places under the granite slab that serves as a bridge over the storm water drain spanning between a house’s gates to the road. There was no fireplace – but that was not a problem because it never got very cold around here anyway. Mom had fought hard with the hardened ruffians belonging to the real estate mafia on this part of town to secure this patch of prime real estate to raise her family. The tear in her right ear and her pronounced limp along with a number of scars on her leg bore testimony to the battles she had fought before being able to assert her right over this place. For me, there was learning in this - one has to fight to get the best out of life. And one has to be strong. Like Mom.

I think I was the youngest in the family. From what I know, the youngest ones are usually the smallest ones and not the strongest. I was two sizes smaller than my brothers and sisters. Being small, did have its advantages. It taught me how to play all by myself and not get bored – something valuable. I always wanted to play with my brothers and sisters, but I didn’t fit in. Being small also taught me patience. I always had to wait my turn before I part-took in the morsels that Mom brought in or for that matter, to cuddle with Mom. Once in a while, my siblings got a little rough with me. This was usually when I jumped the line. There were times when the wounds from such occasions took a few days to heal. But I feel it only made me stronger. It taught me to bear pain. I also learnt the art of disappearing. It was easy. I just had to run like hell and hide in some nook or cranny where no one could find me! Loneliness, to me, was a way of life, not a problem.

The Quest

It was late one evening, an evening that was moonless. It was dark and overcast. Everyone else had eaten. Sleep had overcome the last remnants of playful energy amongst my siblings. They had now shifted the venue for their games from the real world to the dream world, but I lay unable to sleep, very much in the real world. I was learning, in a rather hard way, that it was difficult to fall asleep when one is hungry - especially if one has not eaten for two days. The feeling of pride that I had for having sacrificed my meals for my dear siblings was not good enough to entice sleep. It was just then that the aroma of freshly cooked chicken biryani once again decided to pay a visit to our house in the gutter and stumbled right into me! It immediately sensed a hungry ‘bakra’ in me and lost no time in starting its slow, seductive dance right under my nose – tempting me, beckoning me! I heard music too. I wonder where that came from!

The aroma picked me up like how the breeze picks up a dry leaf and floated me out of our little home under the granite slab. I found myself in chicken-biryani-aroma-induced trance, drifting up and out of the gutter and floating towards the massive gates of the house outside which our little lair in the gutter lay. The gates and the house that lay behind it, until now, had been a source of great awe to us. Mom had warned us to strictly stay away from going anywhere near it. Every once in a while, huddled in our home in the gutter, we would hear the gate creak open and sounds of wheels and feet pass over the roof of our home. Sometimes we heard voices, but we never dared venture out to investigate them. Mom’s instructions on this were clear as crystal – “Go out and risk being torn to pieces and eaten by the Oogumba that lives on the other side of the mighty gates!”

Now, the very same gates loomed large in front of me. I could hear the low menacing roll of thunder and there were bright flashes of lightening every now and then that lit up the gate in all its scary detail. Gory images of Oogumba taking me apart limb by limb started flashing in front of my eyes. I had this incredible urge to do what I always did in the face of danger - turn around and run like hell. But even through these gory images, the chicken biryani aroma maintained its bewitching hold on my olfactory senses and continued to beckon me with wave after yummy wave of aroma. Soon the gory images faded away and my drift towards the gates resumed – nose first and feet dragging slowly behind.

I soon found myself squeezing through a very narrow gap in the gate – I was amazed – a rat wouldn’t get through that one. But how did I? The matter was too trivial to agonize over – I had better things to do. Once inside, I quickly looked around to make sure Oogumba was not hanging about anywhere. He wasn’t. So I followed the aroma up a short tree-covered path that led to the lit up portico and then to a heavy, imposing door. This I figured was the main entrance into the house. By now, large drops of rain had started falling - splitting into a hundred tiny drops on impact with the ground. I approached the door cautiously with a single minded objective of dashing in, sinking my teeth into the delicious whatever that gave out this heavenly aroma, grabbing what I could of it and running out just as fast as I ran in! I was all set, assuming the classic crouching stance, all muscles tense, head steady, eyes focused, unblinking and ready to spring, when the door swung with a loud creak and slammed shut!! I was left crouching in all my magnificence in front of a closed door in the portico. This definitely would have qualified for the anti-climax-of-the-century award; a nomination would be the minimum! I felt foolish and angry. Angry at the door for slamming shut, angry at me for taking too long to make a dash for it! And there was no sign of the aroma now.

The Storm

By now, the rain had transformed into a torrent, the winds had picked up and it seemed like the trees bowed down to the wind gods with fear. Sheets of water came down as though a celestial dam had been breached, accompanied by ear-shattering thunder and blinding flashes of lightening. Anger now quickly turned to fear. Dogs don’t sweat. Else, I would have been sweating like a pig. Even as I stood there in the portico confused and frightened out of my wits – all lights suddenly went out! It was dark. No, black. Black like pitch! Flashes of lightening gave me glimpses of the eerie night as if to tease me – “now it’s there now it’s gone, now it’s there now it’s gone”!!

I stood there, shaking in my skin, wondering what to do next. Finding my way back home was out of question. It was too dark and too scary. This was exactly the kind of night you would expect Oogumba to be lurking around licking its lips waiting for its next hapless victim to show up. By now, my imagination had gone into overdrive. Every flash of lightening revealed to me a new monster that was watching me from behind the trees. I now understand the plight of dogs that suffer from paranoid delusions – it’s a scary life that they lead. I suddenly noticed that one of the monsters had slowly started making its way up the pathway – towards me! This was no imagination – this was real! Oogumba! With every flash of lightening it drew closer and closer! Every step that it took seemed to have a sense of purpose – I knew just too well what the purpose was! I stood rooted – too scared to move. The monster was now right outside the portico. My heart pounded, straining against my ribs! I crouched down to minimize my size, hoping Oogumba wouldn’t notice me in the dark corner, when suddenly, the lights came on!!

I slowly let out the breath that had threatened to be my last one. This was no Oogumba, this was a human – a mere boy – about 12 years old!! I had seen humans a before when I had once bravely ventured out of our home on to the road. Yet, instinctively, I had always been wary of them – they couldn’t be trusted. After all, they are the ones responsible for global warming and the extinction of scores of species.

The boy quickly stepped into the portico and took off his raincoat. He was about to knock on the door when his eye caught sight of my crouched form in the far corner of the portico. I instinctively froze and held my breath. He turned slowly towards me with a smile on his face. He squatted down on his haunches and a low whistle escaped his lips. I watched with apprehension as he slowly extended his hand as if to touch me. I was in two minds as to what I should do with the extended hand – one mind said “bite it, bite it” and the other mind said “shake it, shake it”! I was confused, so I licked it. It was salty. The boy did not withdraw his hand. Emboldened, I gave it a few more licks – I liked the salty taste! I let him stroke my head gently, it soothed my nerves and I felt good. I realized I could trust this human after all!

Abruptly, the boy stood up, stretched a bit and knocked on the door a couple of times. No answer. He knocked again – this time – he thumped it with his palm instead of using his knuckles. A few moments later, the door was opened by a short thin man with a little patch of hair on his head and some under his nose. He was wearing a dhothi and a towel was draped over his shoulder. The man bowed down with what looked like respect and said something to the boy and beckoned him to come in. The boy, took off his shoes and slowly tip-toed into the house. I tried to follow him in, but the man in the dhothi saw me and came charging at me swinging his towel making a weird noise with his mouth that sounded like ‘shoooo’ ‘shoooo’. I got the cue. I quickly turned and ran out – but not before I got a whiff of that heavenly smell that had drawn me this far. Once outside, I turned around only to see the door slam shut, yet again!

Outside, the light and sound show went on with tons of rain coming down every second. I lay down outside the door in the portico to catch my breath and soon fell into a coma-like, dreamless sleep. My ordeal had taken its toll on me. Hunger, thunder and Oogumba didn’t stand a chance of keeping me awake.

I woke up to the sound of a cuckoo bird calling. Usually, cuckoos have a nice voice and they send me deeper into sleep, but this one for sure, had laryngitis and most likely had hearing problems too. The fact remains that I woke up on that fateful morning to the call of a cuckoo bird. The rain had only just stopped and the morning sun had turned to gold everything that it had touched. I immediately set about finding my way back home. I trotted down the shady pathway, wading through a river of soggy dried leaves and twigs and soon reached the mighty gates through which I had entered. I looked for the tiny gap in the gate and slipped out on to the granite slab outside, which you already know, was the roof of our home, when I noted with horror that the gutter was full of swirling water! Water was flowing through it as if it were a river in deluge, washing away with it sticks, leaves, insects, small animals and everything that happened to be in its path. There was no home. There was just water. Lots of angry water. But where was Mom? Where were my brothers and sisters? I looked all around but there was no sign of them.

I sat there outside the gate for some time – expecting to see Mom trotting up the road. Much time passed. No Mom. I realized I was still hungry. I remembered the boy from last night. I turned around, squeezed through the gap in the gate yet again and ran up the path to the portico. The door was still closed. Maybe the door would open if I whimpered loud enough. I whimpered loudly and to my pleasant surprise, the door actually opened. It reminded me of Alibaba shouting ‘open sesame’ in front of the thieves’ cave.

The same boy from last night stood at the door looking down at me with bleary eyes. In return, I looked up at him with as much expectation in my eyes as I could manage, wagged my bony tail wildly, licked my parched lips and let out another pathetic whimper. I think I got through to him. He called out – something that sounded like “Ramu” and the same man who had shooed me away the night before appeared. He said something to him and Ramu went in and re-appeared with a bowl full of warm milk and a couple of slices of bread and set it down in front of me. I looked up at the boy and then at the bowl of milk and then back at the boy, all the while licking my lips and wagging my tail vigorously. I was thinking – “Give me the sign – will ya?” The boy nodded with a smile and said ‘eat’. That was the only encouragement I needed. I quickly lapped the milk up. Next, I tore the bread apart and devoured it – much like how Oogumba would have done it if it had caught me last night. Once I was done, I looked up again – this time with deep gratitude. The boy was still looking at me - with an amused smile. Someone called from inside. He petted me lightly on my head and disappeared back into the house. As for me, I settled down to a contented nap – my first one in many days. I dreamt of Mom and of playing leapfrog with my brothers and sisters.


Many days slipped by, memories of my family faded as I settled into my new home, which was, of course, the portico of my Master’s house. Yes, “Master” is what I call the boy – for he was the only one in this world who cared for me. It was he who ensured I was fed. He made me feel like a living thing – something that actually felt hungry every now and then. I must have grown big pretty fast, because one day, my Master had to extricate me from the gap in the gate where I got stuck for several terrifying minutes while I was trying to squeeze through. I remember that it felt like I was caught in one of those torture apparatuses that they built during the medieval ages to extract confessions of heresy. After that day, I waited patiently for someone to open the gates instead of trying to squeeze through the gap. To my delight, a few months later, I found that I could actually jump over the gate – the gates were no longer as big and imposing as they had appeared on the night of the storm. I had grown. I was big.

I was also fiercely loyal to my Master. I would describe my feeling towards my Master as being akin to what Osama’s followers would feel for their leader – fanatical. I always accompanied my Master wherever he went. I had appointed myself his personal body guard. When outside, I would run ahead of him and ensure his path was clear. I would chase away dogs or any other furry creatures that happened to be anywhere near us. My Master would frequently take me with him to meet his friends. He seemed quite proud of me and would show off my prowess at catching squirrels. He would shout “hunt! hunt!” as I chased the squirrel down, and pinned it under my paws. I would then pick it up by its neck and shake it until it stopped moving. It made for a tasty morsel.

My Master would leave home in the morning each day with a bag full of books. He went to something called “school”. I looked forward to the daily morning trip to school. I liked how everyone discreetly moved out of our way as we approached the school. It felt like my Master was king and all powerful. I loved the look of pride on my Master’s face when people yielded to us. I would then head back home once my Master entered the school gates. I was not allowed to accompany him in.

I usually took the longer, more interesting route on my way back. This route took me through some of the by-lanes that were the dominion of some other dogs with whom I did not enjoy the best of relations. I got cheap thrills out of walking down these lanes and marking every post that I could. A street battle would almost always erupt and would more often than not end in my favor, with my opponent usually getting badly mangled. On the rare occasion when things didn’t go my way, I would use my superior speed to save my skin. Thanks to all the training I got in my childhood, I didn’t need athletic shoes to outrun my antagonists!

My encounters with these other dogs would often follow this pattern:
I first appear on the scene out of nowhere. I then look around for a suitable pole, one that would typically be any dog’s pride – smooth and tall. I casually walk up to the pole, lift my leg with élan and spray it – as high as I possibly could, without as much as a glance at the dog looking at me with deep consternation from the other end of the street. This one-legged action of mine triggers an immediate but predictable reaction from the dog. The dog breaks into a full blooded charge towards me, coughing every once in a while. I hold my ground (of course, this depended on the size of the dog and the number of dogs). The dog charges as if it wants to run me over, but then screeches to halt a few feet away when it realizes that I am not budging. For some strange reason, the dog pretends to look elsewhere, like I was not important. But then it starts to growl. The tail is up, hackles are raised and it glances nervously at me every once in a while – all dead giveaways to the fact that it is a little worried about the possible outcome of a fight with me! I slowly approach the dog with my own tail cocked up and wagging stiffly – looking intently at the dog. The other dog bares its teeth and lets out some more low menacing growls, but is still looking away. By now the tension has built up to a point where one can actually twang it. I bend close and whisper into the dog’s ear – “Yo! What are you grinning like a half-brained, nit-witted chimpanzee with dental caries, for? Stop showing me your pathetic yellow teeth, unless you are looking for a pair of new dentures!” And all hell breaks loose!

Back home from my morning exploits, I would spend the rest of the day lazing around in my portico and then return to the school in the afternoon, in time to escort my Master home. (Of course, I got fed in the interim. Ramu took care of that). If morning was my adventure time, evening was fun time. After school, instead of heading home, my Master, accompanied by his friends, would go off to their secret haunt. This was a secluded spot in the woods on the nearby hill. This spot was a fairly large clearing with an emerald green pond in the middle, surrounded by rocks and shady trees and was hidden from view by thick lantana bushes that grew all around the spot. My Master and his friends spent endless hours here doing nothing worthwhile. I would spend my time catching squirrels and chasing birds or chasing down and mangling some poor mongrel that happened to venture too close, often to the “hunt! hunt!” calls and mad cheering by my Master and his friends. Some days I would spend time just sprawled under the cool shady trees. We would bide time here until sunset and then head back home before it got too dark.


Other than Ramu, there was one more person who lived in the house. My Master addressed him as ‘Dad’. Dad was a middle-aged man – tall and well built. He left home early every morning and returned late at night. I would hear his booming voice once in a while shouting something at Ramu. However, I hardly saw or heard Dad speak to my Master. I could, occasionally hear a few words exchanged, but nothing more than that.

Ramu stayed home all day and only went out once in a while to return with bags that seemed to contain vegetables, meat and such. I would know the days I could expect to get my chicken biryani just from the smells coming from the bags that Ramu brought back from his outing!

Dad wanted nothing to do with me. He wouldn’t even acknowledge my presence. He would walk past me without a second look, as if I was a stone lying in the corner in the portico. If I happened to be lying at the door, blocking his path, he would just say – “shoo” with enough disgust in his voice to make me get up and move out of his way. He would then carry on, muttering something under his breath, which I was sure, was not something pleasant. The look on his face suggested that he would have flushed me down a toilet bowl if ever he could accomplish that.

One evening, after Dad was back, I heard him talking to my Master, at first quietly. But soon the polite conversation deteriorated into a shouting match. Then I heard Dad shout “Get out, you bastard! Get the hell out of here before I break your legs!” After a few seconds, the door opened and my Master came out and slammed the door behind him. He sat down in one corner of the portico and sobbed silently. I heard him whisper ‘Mom’ several times. I wondered if he too had a “Mom” once upon a time. And I wondered if a storm had taken her too. Something stirred within me. I walked over to him and tried to make him feel better by giving him the same wet and slimy treatment that my Mom would often give me with her tongue. The result was not what I expected. I ended up getting a hard kick in my ribs! I was surprised! Was it because my breath stank like my Mom’s breath did? Possible. Curse these genes. I wouldn’t blame my Master for what he did. I went back to my corner and soon fell asleep.

The same sequence played out a few more times in the following months. I would routinely receive my Master’s well-aimed football kicks in my ribs or stomach on such occasions, even when I didn’t bother him. I could not understand why my Master hurt me in this way, but I inferred that it had something to do with Dad. I soon started nurturing a hatred for Dad. I had to suffer these kicks and bruises because of him. He hurt my poor Master and he hurt me. I did not like to see my Master crying – it invoked horrible confusing emotions in me – a mix of pity, fear and anger!

The Wedding

One morning, I woke up to a lot of activity in the house. All kinds of people started pouring into the house even before dawn broke. Lots of people - all excited. There were sounds of laughter and merry making. People moved in and out as if in great hurry and looking important. Some people shouted at some other people, who would immediately run and do something. The house was being decorated with lights and flowers and other colorful items. I could smell various aromas drifting out from inside. Of course, my favorite chicken biryani was among them! All this got me excited and I ran around barking at all the inanimate things like the table and chairs that were actually now moving around (Of course I realized that these were being moved by the people – I am not that naïve). Everyone was too busy and too excited to take offence to my barking!

This was all great fun, but my Master was nowhere to be seen. It was not often that my Master would go somewhere without having me around for protection. I decided to go looking for him. I was sure I would find him at his hideout in the hill and I was right. I spotted him sitting on a rock by the green pool. He sat there, sobbing, wiping his tears. I heard him call out to his Mom. I didn’t dare disturb him, lest I got kicked in my ribs. So, instead of approaching him directly, I crept up next to the rock and lay down. Without my knowledge, I fell asleep. When I awoke it was afternoon and my Master still sat there – staring into space. I got up, scratched myself, drank some water from the pond, marked a few of the trees and went back to my position next to the rock.

When I woke up again, this time out of hunger, my Master was still sitting there, still staring blankly into space. The sun was almost down and it was getting dark. This was getting to worry me. I had never seen my master this disturbed. I was evaluating my next action when I heard someone calling my Master’s name. It was Ramu. Soon Ramu’s wiry frame appeared from behind the bushes. My Master turned around, they exchanged a few words and suddenly my Master shouted loudly “That woman is not my Mother and that ugly baby is not my Brother!!”

My immediate instinct told me to jump on Ramu and bite off a mouthful of his scrawny butt for getting my Master excited, but I restrained myself. I had never seen Ramu harming my Master, so he was not a bad man as far as I was concerned. Also, he was the one who fed me twice a day! How could I bite the hand that feeds? Besides, I would have a problem getting a good grip on his butt – whatever little of it he had. No point in investing time and energy when returns were likely to be unacceptably low! So I let him continue talking to Master. After some more talking, my Master got off the rock and both he and Ramu headed back home. I was thankful. It was dinner time and I was famished. I followed them back with my lips smacking. The aromas from that morning still lingered in my memories. Surely a scrumptious feast was awaiting us at home. I had trust in the old adage - No smoke without fire.

Time had made its way well into the evening by the time we reached home. The crowd in the house had dwindled down to a few reluctant ones who, if allowed, would party forever. These were soon chased out with a few polite words and gestures.
My Master went inside and the door was shut. I lay down in my corner in the portico, anxiously waiting for the feast to be served – it never came.


The next day, I woke up in fright to the sound of loud growls. They were emanating from my stomach. I resorted to my usual whining trick to see if it would get me something to eat. The door opened a crack. I could see a young woman carrying a small boy peeping from behind the half open door. I had never seen this woman before. She looked at me warily, not knowing what to do. I instinctively growled at this stranger. Her face took on an ugly contortion that I was actually quite familiar with. I had seen this same look on people on the road when sometimes I chased them for sport. I felt that familiar sense of superiority that a hunter has over its prey and I gave a quick yap-yap-yap, hoping to consolidate on my advantage.

The woman shut the door in a hurry and I heard her screaming out to Ramu, Dad and my Master in that order. There was commotion – I heard Dad’s booming voice, then my Master’s voice, which was now a bit more like a man’s voice than a boy’s and then the woman’s voice and then again Dad’s voice and then all together. I suddenly heard my Master shout, “Who is this woman to order me around? He is my dog and I decide what happens to him!” This was followed by Dad shouting some expletives and I heard the sounds of running around and things falling and my Master screaming again and again – pleading that he would be good and would listen to them henceforth.

The door finally opened and my Master was pushed out screaming and crying with welts on his arms and legs. At the sight of my Master, I found myself running to him with my tail wagging wildly. I reared up on my hind legs and planted a few licks on his face. I was not thinking. It was all instinct. It was also a bad mistake. I had never faced such a brutal onslaught from my Master before. I felt the kicks slam into my guts, my head, my face - I lost count of how many. I think I saw a hockey stick in his hand. I am still not sure from where it came. The next instant, it felt like there were a hundred thunderbolts going off in my head and then my leg. All I could do was to crouch in the corner and let out loud piercing yelps and beg my Master for mercy. My Master paused to catch his breath and I seized the opportunity with all my limbs. Still yelping, I ran out of the portico to the gate, somehow jumped over it and hid under the granite slab. I lay down in the dust, shaking with pain.

I lay there for a full day smarting from the blows that I had received. By evening, the pain had ebbed a little and I could start thinking clearly again. I thought about what happened to my Master and what happened to me. I concluded that this woman, “Mother”, was evil. She was to blame for my painful state of affairs. It was she that had brought out the worst in my Master.


I must have dozed through that night, for when I awoke, it was morning. The vision through my left eye was blurred, I couldn’t see much from it. The other eye was fine. I tried to get up but fell back as pain exploded in my front left leg as I put my weight on it. I managed to crawl out from under the granite stone and hobbled over to the gate which was closed. I pushed with my snout, but it was latched. As I lay down to reduce the throb in my leg, the gate opened. It was Ramu.

Ramu looked at me and for the first time I noticed those kindly eyes. His mouth twitched and his eyes welled up. I wondered what made him, of all people, sad. He went in and returned with a bowl of water and set it down in front of me. As I slowly drank the drink of life, Ramu put down some rice and milk for me to eat. He watched me eat. When I was done, he left closing the gate behind him. I waited there outside the gate for my Master. He did not come. So I crawled back under the granite slab, where it was cool. I lay there all day. In the evening, Ramu was back with food and water. I was sure my Master had asked Ramu to take care of me, despite Dad and Mother.

The Sacrifice

It was still very early in the morning. The sun was yet to rise. I was woken up by the sounds of wheels passing over the granite slab. It was a car. Someone got out of the car, opened the gate and entered. My instinct was to get out and confront, but all I could manage huddled there under the granite slab were two low barks accompanied by shooting pain in my ribs. I next heard the person knock on the house door. The door opened followed by a short conversation between this person and Ramu. The gate opened again and I heard the car door open and then shut. Curiosity got the better of me. I slowly crawled out from under to investigate. I heard more voices. The gate opened and Dad and Mother came out followed by Ramu who was hauling two large bags. Mother was carrying Brother. Ramu loaded the bags into the car. Dad got into the car. Mother stood around for more time – cuddling Brother. Dad said something and mother handed over Brother to Ramu and got into the car. The car started up and drove away. Brother immediately let out high pitched cries while flailing his arms wildly - like a chicken on its way to the slaughter house. It seemed like he was not happy that Mother had left him behind. Ramu, who was carrying Brother, turned around and hurried in making sounds like “shush-shush” and “tch-tch”.

My Master did not go to school that day. I could hear Brother wail all morning and my Master shout a few times. Ramu, again, fed me. I was feeling a lot better but I couldn’t still see much from my left eye and my left front leg was useless. I was already getting used to living life with these handicaps. I lay outside the gate waiting for it to open and for someone to let me in. I missed my corner in the portico.

It was almost evening and Ramu had gone out. I was hungry again. I lay waiting for Ramu to come back when the gates opened. It was my Master. My heart did a flip and I quickly hobbled over to him with my tail wagging. He patted me lightly on my head and let me in through the gates. He turned around and headed back into the house and I eagerly followed him. I heard Brother wailing inside. My Master went inside and fetched Brother. I felt a surge of an unfamiliar emotion well up in me when I saw Brother in my Master’s arms. I did not seem to have any control on this emotion. I felt my hackles raise and I heard my own low growls. My muscles went taught and I bared my teeth in a vicious grimace.

My Master set Brother, who was still wailing, down. He turned to look at me. He had a strange look in his eyes. Then I heard him shout “Hunt! Hunt! Hunt!” again, “Hunt! Hunt! Hunt!” . Instinct ruled over logic in a mind that was already clouded with strange but vicious emotions. I pounced on Brother, just as I had done on those poor little mongrels on the road so many times before. My jaws locked around his neck in a vice-like grip and I shook him like he was a rag doll. I shook him long after he stopped giving out those horrible shrieks that hurt my ears. The hunt was over.

I looked up in time to see My Master come back into the portico with a heavy iron bar. He had a wild look in his eyes and this time it chilled my soul. He raised the bar high and the next instant I felt my head explode as I saw lights as brilliant as a thousand suns. My legs disappeared under me and the ground came up to slap my face. I felt something warm flow down over my eyes. I couldn’t move and I felt no pain. As I lay there, I heard the gate open. I heard Ramu scream. It was then that I heard my Master say to Ramu “The dog killed Brother! I tried saving him, but it was too late!”. Something snapped inside me. My eyes glazed over as I slowly let my last breath out.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Sweet teeth are made of these...

This one is about a good friend of mine, yes… the one on the bus…yes, the one whom I introduced to you in Have you witnessed a miracle yet? episode …yes, the one who stuck those choco-glasses up my nose (kindly read the Have you witnessed a miracle yet? episode for more details and you will not have these obvious questions in your mind…).

So you may have guessed from reading the now famous “Have you witnessed a miracle yet?” blog, she… yes, my friend, has a tremendous sweet tooth. If you did not… its ok… my blog is never directed towards those with above average intelligence…but, yes…I haven’t seen a sweeter tooth than that one – in fact, all of those teeth…the entire set…is sweet – yes…including the molars and the pre-molars (I know you were wondering…rather unnecessarily).

Coming to think of it, they… yes, the teeth and yes… her teeth are so sweet that they could as well have been made from sugar and you would never know…unless of course if one of them had the misfortune of coming loose and somehow falling into your cup of sugar-less coffee ..(hmm…not such a pretty thought, eh?).

Now, please stop looking askance…its not totally improbable given that sweets have this nasty habit of slowly dissolving and then uprooting perfectly good teeth when you are not looking…and given the sweet intake rate (number of sweet bites per second..also known as SIR) that was measured at the food input point on my friend's interface (the mouth!!…duuuuhhh?!) – it was calculated that a “tooth fall” was highly probable at any given time!

[Those of you who wanted to be scientists (but could not make it), may question the veracity of these measurements given the extremely high sweet intake rate that is obvious from watching her in action. But let me put to rest even that iota of doubt that you may harbor by proclaiming that these measurements were made by 4 ultra high speed Nikon NX2370 cameras that captured every sweet bite that she took, down to the last detail, keeping all other variables constant. These images were then processed by the HP DX3465 last gen super computers using zero-one-eight neural network algorithms to ultimately come up with the correct sweet intake rate (SIR)…can’t get much more accurate than that, eh?].

So, theoretically speaking, if you waited long enough around her with a cup of steaming hot coffee, the probability that you could get some sugar in it for free before your coffee has gone cold, is indeed extremely high! Meanwhile, please stop jumping around with glee expecting to get free sugar in your sugar free coffee – I only said that those teeth could be made of sugar, not that they really are. (Jeez…how people will jump for anything free these days!!). I am sure you did not consider the possibility that if those teeth were really made of sugar, she…yes, my friend would have sucked them all up by now and would literally be toothless (like the fairy…I mean the toothless fairy…no?) – you wouldn’t stand a tiny chance of getting one sugary tooth in your coffee let alone the entire set. Think about it...

Well…I hope that piece of information brought you back to the ground… and I hope it keeps you tethered there. And while you are struggling to stay grounded, be thankful that I saved you from jumping around like an emancipated circus flea for no reason...........I know I did.

Alright then, getting back to the story that I wanted to relate to you … (hate it when people react to stuff without exercising one tiny muscle in their heads – breaks my chain of thoughts…makes me feel like I am trying to fall asleep on a bed full of bed bugs!)

Well…yes – getting back to the story that I wanted to relate to you…this is how it goes…

It so happened that I took some leftover cake from my son’s 7th birthday to the office. I actually was successful in this endeavor mainly because my friend…yes, the one I mentioned above, was running late and was not on the bus that day. Else, the cake wouldn’t have made it to the office….

So… here I was in my office in a meeting (when I think of meetings at the office, a lot of confusing emotions well up in me, but I do not want to deal with them right now… may be I will make it the subject of another blog later on..) and the cake was safely sitting in its box on my desk. We always take our laptops to these meetings – I call my laptop my ultimate productivity device. It allows me to officially attend the meeting and at the same time gives me all the benefits of staying back at my desk – such as browsing the internet, chatting with my fellow workers, work on my blog (my only complaint is that listening to music is a little difficult to accomplish with ten zealots sitting around you…I wish someone made Bluetooth earphones tiny enough so that people wouldn’t know I had them on…).

Well…I am in this meeting and the cake is feeling pretty safe and relaxed sitting in its box on my desk. We are in the midst of a heated debate that’s been raging for the last forty five minutes on the all important topic of what we should order for lunch – pizzas or sandwiches… when my phone comes to life. I ignore it assuming it would be a hapless cold caller trying to con me into insuring my butt (I admire these people – they have what we lack – chutzpah). It rings again and I ignore it again, it rings again and I ignore it yet again – and then my friend (yes, yes the same one) suddenly pops up on the chat window. I am thinking ….. “Now, what could she want? She never pings me unless there is something sweet to eat…” (When I have nothing to eat, I usually offer my head…I know the hair would be a little difficult to chew on and swallow, but hey…who said life was a bed of roses)

Friend: I waaaaant cake!

Me: What cake?

Friend: I waaaaaant cake. I waaant!

Me (surprised): How did you know I brought cake to office?

Friend: I waaaaaant cake!

Me: Ok, let’s meet for lunch and I will bring it with me.

Friend: I waaaaaant NOW!

I realize that I cannot do much with such sound, convincing logic .

Me: Ok, ok – it is sitting on my desk – go and take it. But please leave some for me and my other friends. By the way…it’s a chocolate walnut cake…

Friend: I waaaaaaaaant now! yipppeeee!! I am coming up to get it!

Me: But be careful, someone may think you are trying to steal something from my desk…

>>> Message could not be delivered since the recipient is not online

Meanwhile, in the upper regions of Vaanararajya (Sanskrit for monkey kingdom) – there was a hint of restlessness…there was a new monkey that had made its appearance at one end of the normally mundane scenery. The new monkey on the block (yes, the same one from the bus) was in fact on a secret mission. And like all monkeys that are on secret missions, this monkey was nervous too. It did not belong here and it knew that the other monkeys knew that it was new and if they knew what this monkey knew, the monkey would not make it back home in one piece. The other monkeys pretended to go about their business as usual but… they were watching…

What made this mission so much more dangerous for our monkey was the fact that this was a domain that it had visited only once before, that too under the protective care of its good friend (the one on the bus), which happened to be the chief of one of a dominant monkey clan that resided in this region. And this friend (the monkey chieftain) had just shared with our monkey, precise details about a treasure that was hidden in its lair, a treasure that was coveted among monkeys, a treasure a monkey would die for, a treasure over which brutal battles had been fought in the past…it was the morsel of eternal happiness – the divine Chocwalcake!!

Even under the intense and increasingly suspicious gaze of the monkeys around her, our brave monkey, kept her wits about her! She feigned supreme confidence (tail up, baring teeth in a manic grin) and quickly made her way to where the treasure lay hidden with the intention of grabbing it and making a smooth getaway before the other monkeys realized what happened.

We all know that circumstances always collude to keep Murphy honest and it was no different in this case. The monkey’s audacious plan would have succeeded, had it not been for her tooth…yes, the sweet tooth. Just as she was about to make a clean get away, her now famous sweet tooth decided that it could no longer hang on to its roots. It shuddered a bit, hesitated for just a moment before slipping painlessly off of her gums and falling ‘plop’ into a passing monkey’s early morning steaming hot cup of coffee. The poor monkey, startled by the UFO (well…Unidentified Falling Object) falling into its coffee, promptly dropped its cup of hot coffee on our monkey, which in turn gave a dog-like yelp and dropped the box containing the precious Chocwalcake. The lid of the box came loose making its precious contents visible for all to see!! An immense chatter ran through Vaanararajya as a sudden realization dawned among the monkeys – the intruder was trying to steal the precious Chocwalcake from the local chieftain’s lair under there very noses - a heinous crime – a crime punishable by the feared ‘Tarararkar’ ritual*!
(* The 'Tarararkar’ ritual requires the accused to stand on the lowest point in the kingdom and act like a circus clown in the presence of a 101 monkeys armed with eggs and tomatoes. Monkeys of Vaanararajya often would rather face death than the shame of going through a ‘Tarararkar’.)

Full credit must be given to our monkey for acting quickly to retrieve the box along with its contents, however, it was too late. She found herself surrounded by monkeys advancing with their menacing grins and low, angry growls, chanting Tarararkar’, Tarararkar’!! A quick look around told her there was no way out!!

Just when it looked like there was no hope and surrender to the ignominy of undergoing the dreaded ‘Tarararkar’ ritual was imminent, she remembered something that her friend, the chieftain, had told her the last time that she had visited the Vaanararajya as his guest. He had given her a secret password – this was given only to the most trusted friends of the monkeys of the Vaanararajya – to be used only when it was absolutely necessary! If there was a time to use it, it was now!! Just as the monkey mob reached her, our monkey shouted out with all the strength that she could muster – the three words – “Jai Shree Ram!! “.

The effect was magical – the monkey’s surrounding her immediately bent down and lowered their heads in complete reverence. Our monkey was ecstatic! The password had worked like a miracle! But ....her ecstasy was short-lived....there was something horribly wrong. There were still monkeys who continued to bear down menacingly on her chanting Tarararkar’, Tarararkar’!!
Clearly, the password had had no effect on them!!

Think, think, think, monkey – what happened, what went wrong?? She groped the recesses of her mind for an answer – but all she heard was Tarararkar’, Tarararkar’ – getting closer and closer!! And then, suddenly, enlightenment! She remembered the chieftain mentioning that Vaanararajya was a secular, equal opportunity kingdom – and that could mean only one thing…. gathering all her courage and strength yet again, she shouted in one hurried breath “Allah-o-Akbar! Jesus Saves!! Buddham Sharanam Gachchaami!” And dramatically, one by one the advancing monkeys bent down and lowered their heads with complete reverence! Our monkey had done it – she had defeated the enemy (enemy?? - whatever)! She now grabbed the opportunity that the situation presented and in two bounds was beyond the realms of Vaanararajya - with the box of eternal bliss – the Chocwalcake - nestling safely in her hands!!

I am still in the meeting in the office, the debate is still heated. However, I must admit that we have made significant progress. Now the argument is not about eating pizzas or sandwiches - we are past that. …it is about whether we should order a thin crust or a deep dish pizza. And just when I am about to make my final point on why it must be a thin crust pizza, my good friend pops up on the chat window yet again!!
The message - “Thanks!! That cake was yummmmmmy! :) "

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Have you witnessed a miracle yet?

It is just amazing how many times we take things for granted, when instead, we should have stopped and stared at whatever it was with wonderment and astonishment! I mean, just look around you – the morning act of the sun that paints the sky with its multi-colored hues, the chirping birds flying across the painted skies – yes flying! The sounds of the morning – so pleasant – have you wondered why they don’t the hurt your ears? Shady trees so green – why do our tired eyes long for the green?? The cows mooing, ready to deliver milk! And the chickens clucking away as though saying – eat me, eat me! All things that we take for granted...

Now – imagine what would happen if the chicken suddenly said –“You can’t eat me! I have my rights!”? And what if the chickens actually did! There would be no chicken to eat – no chicken tikka masala, no tandoori chicken or chicken burgers or chicken soup. And imagine what would happen if the cow turned around and said “I refuse to get milked!!” There would be no morning glass of milk, no ice creams, no chocolates…no nothing - not the world that I would want to live in for sure – would you?? Of course not!

So…isn’t it a miracle then that it actually is how it is, I mean this world, that the sun rises without having to be woken up, the birds fly and don’t crash like our airplanes, the cow pretends not to know when we milk it and the chicken is so brave that its not scared to be eaten and the giant trees don’t as much as flinch when they are cut and made into baroque sofa-sets that we all love having in our drawing rooms – isn’t it indeed a cause for everlasting wonderment - don’t you think?

Now, consider "normal" human behavior. What we most often consider normal and don’t even stop for a moment to appreciate, is more often than not, if you think about it for a second, totally irrational! Consider this - why do people stop and wait at a red light even when all roads in the intersection are totally deserted (yes, they actually do it in some advanced countries - crazy isn't it...)? Why do we say we feel great when we in fact feel like we just had two litres of vinegar mixed with castor oil? Why are we nice to total strangers on the road, but bark at those we love? Why do we not get as revulsed by our own mean smelling body odors as we do with others’? Why do we laugh when someone slips and falls but cry when we fall ourselves? Why do 38 year olds think they are still 20? And for christ’s sake, why does my mother think I am just 5?? I guess, I have hurled the point across with enough force that it must have bored through your brain and embedded itself in the wall behind. If so, please wrench it out and thrust it back in your head – that’s where I want it to be.

To better illustrate this point, (for those with slightly tougher skulls), I will narrate to you a seemingly innocuous incident that I wouldn’t have given a second thought to, had it not been for the circumstances that conspired to ensure that I did. Later, while I ruminated on the whole thing, and let my imagination stroll around a bit, I was really amazed at the implications and that’s what prompted me to write this blog!

It was last Monday, after the long weekend, we were bouncing our way to the office sitting in that bone rattler that we call our bus. I was deep in thought about what next to blog (it consumes a serious amount of my cpu), when my good friend who travels with me on the bus every day, announced with a flourish that she had done shopping over the weekend (now, that, I always take for granted – women and shopping – there is no wonderment or miracle of any sort in it – women must shop if they are awake, it would be a miracle if they did not) and then she went on to produce these expensive looking pair of designer glasses from her bag.
“So, what do you think, aren’t they really cool?”
“Huh? Yes, yes they are. What are they?”
“Those are my new glasses!”
“Ah glasses - but of course!”
“They look like they are made of chocolate, don’t they! I just couldn’t resist them! I had to have them!”
“Yes indeed. The inside of the frame looks like it is made of white chocolate and the outside is dark choclate!”
“Mmmm…they look so yummy – I wish I could eat them!”
“Yes – you are right…but what about the lenses…?”
“What about the lenses?”
“The lenses – they don’t look like chocolate…”
“Hmmm – yes - you are right! I wished they did..!”
“…but then you wouldn’t be able to see through them if they were like chocolates, would you? I was only kidding when I said they should have also looked like chocolates (smiling)!”

Actually, I am a little surprised that she took my suggestion seriously.

“Oh…it wouldn’t matter. You know that I just loooove chocolates!”

Well I guess that did kinda make sense… she does really love chocolates, I know that!

She now puts on her new, choco-glasses, if I may call them that, and asks,
“So how do they look?”

I am thinking “They look like chocolate sticking to your face”, but luckily I say,
“They look really nice!!”

Actually, the choco-glasses themselves don’t look any different as they sit on her nose – but it is something else that is catching my attention – it is the way she looks with those glasses on! I am trying hard not to stare and not to smile and am trying hard to think of something else, because I can sense what’s coming next…

“So, how do I look with the glasses on?”

I am petrified with horror when I hear myself blurting out exactly what I am thinking…I want to stop...but I can’t…

“It looks like someone framed your eyes in chocolate and hung them up on your face and later fixed a nose under them for support so they wouldn’t fall off. And – stop trying to lick those glasses, will you?”

I swear I cannot remember what happened next – but when I came to, my head was throbbing and I was finding it hard to breathe. There was something stuck in both my nostrils – yes, I guessed right, each nostril had one half of the choco-glasses stuck up it (strangely they didn’t smell of chocolate). I must have looked like Jim Carey in the movie scene where he has beans stuck up his nostrils, only in my case it would be chocolate sticks with a strange lens type thing attached at the ends and I didn't stick them up there myself. The rest of the story about how I extricated the choco-glasses from my nose and made it to my office is not very interesting so I won’t go into it now.

Now stop for a moment, and think, what was it that was a miracle in the incident that I just related to you? Well – let me help you here. Why? And I ask again, just why??...would a beautiful young lady with a seemingly well developed and fully functional, above average mental faculty, decide to spend big money on a pair of glasses just because they looked like something she loved to eat – in this case - chocolate!! It defies all logic, yet people wouldn’t give it a second thought! For all you know, the next time it could be earrings that look like chewy oatmeal cookies or a pendant that looks like pepperoni pizza. If I ever owned a company that made accessories for women, I wouldn’t just make them look like chocolates, pizzas or cookies, I would make them edible! Think chocolate flavoured glasses – and what the hell, I would have white chocolate and bitter chocolate, with and without nuts and more. If you were hungry, you could actually snack on your choco-glasses or your oatmeal cookie earrings!! It would be a whole new market segment - fast moving, with high margins – a market for people who not only like to wear their accessories but also like to eat them…!! Well…I am digressing from the theme here a little bit, but I guess you get the drift…

What in most cases would have been overlooked as normal behaviour is in reality quite irrational . It never for once occured to me that what my friend did was totally devoid of logic and rationale, till I got hit on the head - maybe that jolted some nerve cells awake.
And this, my friend, is just a tiny example of the kinds of miracles that are happening in and around you all the time. Let me assure you, that once you start looking out for them – you will find them, and they will be a source of great joy for the rest of your life! Look at me, I am enjoying evey minute of it!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Competitive Parenting

What in this polluted world is this stuff??

No...not chicken intestines
Nor those of a pig's...

Not roasted mud salamanders

Not a bundle of fried earth worms ...
Nor an alien life form

Not some diced sea anemone
Nor a cooked orange squid

Not something created by an infant after feeding (could not get a link for this)
Nor was it created by an adult before or after feeding (I refuse to find a link for this!)

These are definitely not my brains (they were fried and eaten years ago at school)
Nor those of George Bush's (would need an electron microscope to see them..)

And no - it does not move when touched....

Ok - let me admit it, this is what I ended up with when I tried to make some Jalebi's over the last weekend at home!

Now, you may wonder why I ventured out to make Jalebis? Well, it is a long sad story and I want to take it off my heart - please read on and do me the favour.

I will start from the beginning...

Those who know me well, know that I have a fiercely competitive disposition. This is not just restricted to the dinner table or while watching TV with the kids or while playing cricket with my son. This keen sense of competition shows up in my parenting too. I absolutely want to be the best parent – even better than my wife! No two ways about it. I want my kids to love me more than they love my wife!

If someone asks - “Kids, who do you like more?? Your father or your mother?”

I want the answer to be an unequivocal and enthusiastic - “Mother who??”

Next when they are asked - “Kids, isn’t that your mother??”

I want the answer to be – again as unequivocal and as enthusiastic –

“Oh – that aunty is our father’s wife!!”

You can see that my competitive parenting instinct has put me in direct competetion with my wife. It is unfortunate, but you need to give some to win some. This is the story of the battle for the kids that was fought last week in the plains of the house called "Anandam" (this is where we live - "Anandam" means Peace).

History is witness to the fact that I adopt a combination of rock solid strategy and aggressive tactics to decimate the competition. In keeping with this reputation, I needed to formulate a failsafe strategy to win over my kids. It was clear to me that this was a war that could be won only by winning their hearts and minds. After much research on children’s psychology, I concluded that their hearts and minds could be won only through their tongues and stomachs! And then, to my horror, I realized that my wife was already on to this. She had known this all along, no wonder she had monopolized the kitchen, no wonder she loved to cook, no wonder the kids loved her, no wonder they stopped just short of showing me the finger! This was not going to be easy. Competition was tough and not willing to give up turf without a fight. It held total sway on their hearts and minds.

It was with a feeling of foreboding that I set about looking for a chink in the enemy’s armour. After much tossing and turning through the night, the idea of using guerilla warfare finally dawned on me. This time tested strategy was the only way to break the enemy’s stranglehold on my territory. I was excited. It felt like my heart was pumping helium instead of blood. I carefully formulated the tactics for the first attack – it would be an ambush over the weekend….

The weekend is finally here. All is quiet, except for the kids – who were creating a racket like a bunch of drunk parakeets trying to chant the Rig veda in chorus.

My wife is busy consolidating her position. Yes… in the kitchen. The time is ripe to launch the attack….

First, the trap must be set.

I call out to my son - once, twice - no reply, the third time I shout - success! He slowly puts down his guns, releases his sister's hair and comes over.

I take him aside and say “Dude, you scored A+ in all your subjects, don’t you think sweets are due?”

With a gleam in his eyes he says, “Pop, you are right. We must have sweets.”

I twist the key further

“Your ma makes wonderful Jalebis – why don’t you ask her to make some for you today. It’s not that difficult.”

My son takes off his helmet, the hideous mask and cape, walks over to the kitchen. “Ma, could you make some sweets today because I got all A+ at school?”.

“Sure son, what do you want?”

The trap clicks into place.

“I want Jalebis“

“I don’t know how to make Jalebi’s ask for something else.”

The trap holds fast, this is no ordinary trap – the victim knows it.

“No ma, I want Jalebis and I want you to make them today”

Time to launch the attack – NO! not yet , give it a couple of seconds more..

“I told you I don’t know how to make Jalebis, so stop asking me again and again”

Attack …Now!!

“Son, if ma can’t make it, then I will make it for you, ok?”

The rest, like everything else, is History.

The Jalebi operation was a failure – it was termed the “Culinary Disaster of the Century”

My daughter wouldn’t go into the kitchen because she was afraid of being bitten by the orange “boo-boo” in the plate

My son however was convinced it was not a boo-boo, but just a slithery rubber toy that smelt like burnt rubber.

The Kitchen has since fallen back into the enemy control. I am back at my computer looking for better recipes to take the kitchen back…

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Of Cowboys and Raging bulls

Another morning and another glorious day to be spent in the office (yeah..I love office – nice cool AC, many different newspapers to read, free unlimited coffee, unlimited internet, friends to chat with – its good..).

But before I enjoy my morning cup of black coffee and newspaper, I have to get there – yes, to the office – I have to get there first and it is not as easy as you think. It is dangerous and it is back-and-what-not breaking and I have to do this every day just to earn a living! But no regrets, after all, one has to put bread on the table at the end of the day and no sacrifice is too big for such a noble quest.

I ride a bull to work. Yessir, a bull – that’s what it is. And this is not your ordinary run-off-the-mill bull. This bull's on a double dose of steroids and it does a thousand push ups every day. It has high blood pressure too. Naturally, it is very strong and is very angry. High BP is not a trivial thing. I think it has a BP of 620/480, I am not sure – maybe more, but it is definitely very high BP and the bull is always very angry. It also happens to be blind! Maybe the high BP shot its eyes or whatever, but it is blind as a bat and doesn’t know where it is going. Then there is this cowboy who rides this bull – he is the only guy who can control it – just about maybe. And I, with some others, ride behind him on the bull to the office each day.

The cowboy… he is a brave man – his name is Yama. He doesn't care for his life, or for that matter, anybody else’s. All he wants to do is to ride this bull and ride it good and ride he does. It is indeed amazing how he can halt this charging bull and actually get it to stop long enough for us to climb on to it. Once on the bull, settled and having secured ourselves to whatever’s worth hanging on to, the rodeo begins. The bull snorts, rears up and takes off with all of us poor souls hanging on to our dear bodies, having flashes of our entire present and past lives, as it charges forward to nowhere and everywhere at the same time, raging with anger, as though someone stuffed 5 kilos of extra spicy chilli-chicken chettinad up its backside…and forgot to follow it up with the promised 2 kilos of curd rice!

So I guess that puts my daily bus ride to the office in the right perspective.

By the way, I have dispensed with the chewing gum since I started traveling to office on this bus, because I can now chew on my heart instead – whatever is left of it, that is! But to give some credit to the bus and its driver, I must admit that riding this bus with this driver has been an 'uplifting' experience (especially when we do the road humps at 60 km/hr). God has visited me no less than 17 times (no kidding!) since I started going by bus. I am sure all that fervent praying is having its beneficial effect on him. God must be feeling really happy with me – I think he loves me! This is great as long as he doesn’t invite me to his heavenly abode…but with lord Yama himself riding this bull, do I have a choice??

(warning!! You will be quartered if you play Adnan Sami's "lift karaa de" when I am around....)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Shining the ball...

I usually am careful about not writing or saying anything that listeners or readers, especially those of the fairer sex that know me, would term offensive. Note that I say term and not find, because there are any number of things that are automatically termed offensive or indecent by, may I say, 'decent' women, even though they may not in reality find them offensive. A simple example would be - any references outside of the medical journals or women's magazines made to any one of the organs of reproduction or excretion that god has endowed us humans with. If you are alarmed that I am trying to start another "men versus women" thingy here, you can relax. All I want to do is to buy some insurance against charges of indecency by women in my close circle of friends and family who may happen to read this blog and who may mistakenly think that this blog is addressed to them. So if you are a woman and know me well and like me, go ahead and read at your own peril...

Since you are now reading this line, I assume that you are either a rugby player, a guy, an indecent woman or a "decent" woman willing to excuse my transgressions into the other side of decency. So the matter is settled - either you will not get offended, or you will get offended but you will not tell me.

Let me now get busy with the subject of this blog, which is that of shining the ball in cricket.

Anyone who has watched cricket would have noticed cricketers shining the cricket ball. Shining the ball is a very important part of the game. However, I am not going to get into a detailed treatise on the merits of shining a cricket ball. It is sufficient to know for the purposes of this blog, that a ball that shines is better than one that doesn't and that there are various techniques for shining it.

These cricket-ball-shining-techniques predominantly involve first applying spit and sweat and what not on the ball with the fingers (for some reason, I have never seen a cricketer spitting directly on the ball - may be its against cricket's reputation of being a gentleman's game. I don't think applying phlegm is allowed either..) and next, rubbing the cricket ball like hell on various parts of the body. I am ok when it is rubbed on the arms, or on the thighs, or for that matter, even on the buttocks (Imran Khan was good at this). But I just do not understand why some of them rubbed the ball - right next to - you know - the male thingy - the short leg. I have thought about it quite a bit - it just isn't natural to rub something as hard as a cricket ball there....I mean it looks so horrible - why would anyone do this in front of all those millions of people who are watching every move the circketer makes. I have a couple of theories about this which I want to explore (you may not agree with what I have to say - but do think about it).

One obvious thought that comes to anyone's mind when he/she sees a guy rubbing something vigorousy in the region around his crotch is - is he trying to - you know - experience certain pleasures (to put it very decently!)??. However, I am disinclined to take this argument any further given that no normal man (assuming these guys are normal) would be so frisky as to want to indulge in such activities in the burning hot sun and with a million people looking down at him! These are not some billy goats out to have a good time in the sun, these are rich and famous cricketing personalities who are out there to win the cricket match and who have no dearth for anything in life including the company of some of the most beautiful women! So - that theory holds no water. Lets flush it away.

That leaves me with the other theory (which I feel is a lot more plausible and rational) as to why some cricketers rub the ball - in the region of the short leg between the two long legs or between two fine legs for that matter - just to shine it.
If you have ever actively been involved in sports - I mean the kind that are played out in the field, then you will know that playing an active sport like football or hockey, when played in the true spirit involves a lot of sweating. Yes - you sweat buckets. Your clothes are soaked in sweat by the time you finish. Now think about these poor cricketers, always out in the sun, for days, sweating and sweating. Now throw in some "less than 100%" hygiene. Very soon, you would be playing the gracious host to some really nasty skin infections. The most common one being what we call the 'dhobi's itch' . This is a rash that itches like hell and typically infects the area in the inside of your thighs, right next to - you know where! And thats exactly where some of these cricketers rub the ball(s)! The other day, I saw one of these cricketing greats on TV - he was shining the seam of the ball...and yes, he was rubbing it there. I mean - who would want to shine the seam of a cricket ball? It is of no use to shine the seam ... or was this some new strategy? Actually no. I figured that the seam of the cricket ball is quite rough and so can scratch better when rubbed in the right places and thus provide a greater itch satisfaction!! No wonder this dude was shining the seam!! He must have had one hell of an itch! For him - a ball in hand was better than two in the bush! What else could the poor man do?

I tend to really believe in this second theory of mine - though its a little difficult to prove. I have started to empathize with these cricketing dudes - it really doesn't matter to me where they rub themselves with the ball - after all it is a human thing. Its just an itch.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Indian suckers...

I am an Indian..and yes I live in India, and I love India. But India sucks and I hate Indians. Yes, I hate Indians. Does that mean I hate myself, my kids, my family? No. So I will correct myself, I hate most Indians, not all of them, just them who make India suck...its them whom I hate. Whats "hate" ?? Simple - you hate what you want to change but can't change. If you cant change it, you want to destroy it, you want it gone...thats "hate". So I wish that most of these Indians, whom I hate, just go away, just vanish into this thin or should it be thick poisonous polluted air. Go away, stop destroying my country, scram, scoot..get lost!!

I wish it were that :)