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 :)