“Can I expect it back in 20 minutes?” my boss asked me.
I wanted to reply, “Not in this birth.” But being a go-getter and hardworking person (my CV says so), I had to nod my head.
As I wished nobody disturbs me for the next 20 minutes, I thought I will switch off my cell phone. Just as I thought of doing so, a text message popped in.
“There are 40 million unemployed people in India” read the text message. It was from my girlfriend.
The message did not serve any purpose other than adding to my general knowledge. Puzzled, I just replied, “So?”
Meanwhile, the office boy came and banged a file on my table with a wicked smile. Ever since I had caught him red-handed accessing a porn site in office after work hours, he had a grudge on me. I had complained about him to our manager as I thought it was not fair that an office boy can access a website which I can’t, even though I wished to.
So this guy just loves when my boss gives me work moments before I am about to leave for the day. I was waiting for a reply from my girlfriend. Finally, my cell phone flashed. With extreme curiosity, I picked it up to read the reply.
“I have joined those 40 million unemployed!”
She had quit her job and decided to stay home, until she got married (hopefully, not with me). I asked her the reasons to quit and she unleashed her masterly rationale behind the decision. Here are few of the reasons:
- The canteen food is not good.
- The office pickup-and-drop transport facility is pathetic. It arrives when she is still in bed and it drops her home when her favourite TV programme is already over.
- Her colleague is a lady and in spite of being married, she hangs out with her male boss all the time (In other words, my girlfriend’s boss doesn’t pay one penny of attendance to her, which makes her jealous).
- Cell phones are not allowed inside the office due to security reasons.
- Her gym work-out timings have changed and they now collide with the office work hours.
Now it’s been almost a week since my girlfriend left her job. Since then, she has been spending her time on invaluable things like sleeping until noon, working out in the gym, ordering pizzas every alternate day, adding friends on Facebook, commenting on photos uploaded by her ever-so-idle friends and giving me missed calls every half an hour. Her calls come at the most crucial times, especially when I am in the middle of a very delicate conversation with our office’s pretty receptionist or when my boss is making a never-ending presentation. I discovered that nothing in this world is more expensive than having a girl friend who is totally free on weekends...and on any other day.
So I thought of devising a way to keep her busy the whole day. I asked her to take up some hobby to kill time.
“Why don’t you learn some new language?” I asked. I expected her to choose between Spanish, German and French. “Yeah, I want to learn the language of the aliens!” she screamed. I am still struggling to find an Institute or University that offers a Masters in Aliens’ Languages program. Maybe I will contact James Cameron for advice.
I did not want her to learn a musical instrument. Last time, I gifted her guitar and she made her parents spend sleepless nights listening to her new compositions. Her parents still blame me for that blunder.
In P.G. Wodehouse's words, there was something about my girlfriend's personality that paralyzed my vocal cords and reduced the contents of my brain to a cauliflower.
“How about painting?” I made my last attempt. “Yes, that’s what I was thinking about.” She finally agreed to something. “I have even decided on what I will paint first.”
“What?” I asked, hoping that it wasn’t me whom she wanted to paint and sell as an abstract art.
“I want to paint Mona Lisa again, this time with a much wider smile.”
“What would that signify?” I asked curiously.
“A Mona Lisa with a wider smile would signify a girl who has recently dumped her old boyfriend to marry a billionaire.”
I did not respond. All I know is that I better find her another job before she seriously takes up painting Mona Lisa.
“Bloody they can’t run one single bus on time and they are raising the fare by one rupee!”
The voice/rant shook our 6-room home and was loud enough to break my sleep. For a change, it was my mother shouting. I wondered where my dad was, and why he had delegated his role to her.
I got up lazily from the bed, (as usual) leaving the job of folding the blanket to my wife. After grabbing my toothbrush but failing to locate the toothpaste, I inquired where dad was.
“He has gone out,” my wife replied, while tossing the toothpaste towards me. I gave her the how-can-you-misplace-things look, which she ignored, knowing I am a far more accomplished ‘misplacer’ than her.
“Wow!” I uncorked an imaginary champagne in celebration. Dad devotes his (and my) Sundays to cleaning the house. While my mom and wife escape into the kitchen (and have a hearty laugh over my broom-and-duster donning avatar), I am left to trail behind my dad helplessly for at least a couple of hours with a grumpy face. So his absence in the house today naturally made me go wow.
“But he will return in a couple of hours,” my wife said jubilantly, knowing she won’t miss seeing me in the broom-and-duster donning avatar this Sunday as well.
“What happened? Why were you shouting?” I asked my mom, who was now busy calculating how much the daily travel would cost henceforth as the city bus administrators had decided to raise the fare.
“Inflation is rising too much. We must cut our expenses,” she declared. I looked at my wife, who gestured to me that I was soon to be in the line of fire.
“How much you pay for the Internet every month? Around 600-something I guess. Why you need to pay so much? You work for nine hours on the computer everyday in the office and then you want to come home and use it again. Inviting unnecessary backache and headache.”
Mom had launched a tirade against me. Suddenly, my broom-and-duster donning avatar seemed like a lesser evil.
“And these books your dad reads….why he needs all those glossy, expensive magazines about so-called photography techniques?” The tirade had shifted focus toward my dad. His absence in the house brings out the tiger in my mom.
“And enough of pickles, papads and fried stuff in the food. So much wastage of oil! Why can’t you people eat pulses and vegetables?” My wife’s liking for pickles and papads was undergoing ante-mortem.
“What’s the menu for lunch today?” I tried to change the topic.
“I think we should cook something vegetarian. How about simple daal and rice? Economical and healthy. Anytime better than the ever-expensive fish.” The advice-cum-sarcasm had come from none other than my wife. With huge question marks on our face, we looked at mom.
Here, it’s worth mentioning that our Sundays are traditionally and historically dedicated to fish (or their mortal remains, in this case).
There was a long pause. We could even hear the ticking sound of the wall clock.
“See, fish is something we eat once a week. Spending the money on fish once a week is okay. I mean it’s just once a week. Once a week is fine.”
Mom was caught in a loop. And in a trap as well. Fish was her staple. A food commodity above inflation, and everything else.
“But then its so costly. I mean inflation is soaring,” Sarcasm was having a field day, courtesy my wife.
“Hmm…okay, fine. Make some daal and rice,” mom said, without looking at my wife and searching for a newspaper to hide her disappointment.
My wife took her purse and went downstairs. I was back on the Internet. A while later, she came back.
“What did you get?” I asked, even though I was aware what it was.
Mom had immersed herself in the newspaper.
“Pomfret and some prawns,” my wife replied.
There was a sudden flutter of paper. It was the newspaper in my mom’s hand. She looked at us. Her eyes were lit up. She gave the I-am-so-thankful-to-you look to my wife and got up from her seat to wash her hands.
After all, she was the one who cleaned the fish every time.
Needless to say, my Internet plan is still intact. Pickles and papads are still fried in our household and dad continues to sharpen his photography skills by referring to his favourite magazines.
The discussion on inflation has been postponed. Indefinitely.
Before I unleash the insider view, I want to make few things clear––clear for those who will read my blog abroad.
- As you all know, I am an international blogger. That means, I just upload my blog here and thanks to this great website’s international reach, anyone is able to view it anywhere (Last month, I received an email from one polar bear expressing delight over my blogs).
- Since the last six years or so, I have been travelling by ‘local’ trains in Mumbai. They are called so because they only operate within Mumbai and not out-station. These local trains are either 9-coach or 12-coach. They are usually over-crowded and run empty only between midnight and dawn (the period when most sane people are asleep in their homes).
- The local trains do not have automatic doors like a metro. The doors are made of iron and exist since Adam’s age. They don’t move an inch.
- Compartments are either general or reserved for ladies. No matter how enthusiastic guy you are, you are not allowed to travel in a compartment reserved for ladies.
- If you are able to enter the train and get a place to stand, such a train is termed as an ‘empty train’. If a 7:47 train comes at 7:50, it is still ‘on time’. If a 7:47 train comes at 7:44, it is definitely the earlier one that is actually running late, and chances are that you were misinformed by the announcer.
- If you are one of those drivers or guards who drive the Mumbai locals, this blog/story doesn’t include you as part of the insider view. And that’s simply because I have never been able to peep inside your tiny cabin and find out if the train has a steering like a car or a handle similar to a bicycle. So what you guys actually do inside the cabin remains as much a mystery for me as what Obama does in the White House for the whole day.
So here I give you an insider view on a typical over-crowded train compartment.
He is the guy who stands on the footboard of the train. In India, travelling on the footboard of a train is (supposed to be) an offence. However, I am yet to come across a case where somebody was booked for standing on the footboard. Alright, so this guy will always stand at the door because he wants to ‘eat’ air while the train is in full speed. He is never bothered about people rushing in and getting out of the train. He simply blocks a corner of the footboard as if his father has bought that place for him. Usually, he will be accompanied by two or three like-minded guys who will ensure that there is only a few millimeters of space left for commuters to get in or out.
Every compartment has at least one pair of lovebirds. The guy amongst the couple is usually over-possessive and will try to ‘protect’ his girl from the goons in the compartment. The lovebirds, most of the times, are headed nowhere. They are just killing time because they do not want to go home and watch the faces of their parents who are against their marriage.
This guy will strategically position himself in front of the lovebird couple. He will keep on watching the antics of the couple (such as holding of the hand, playful flip of the hair and/or a gentle touch on the arm). The lovebird couple, strong believer of ‘ignorance is bliss’, won’t bother a damn about it. The girl, especially, enjoys the attention she is getting from two guys at a time and keeps on blushing endlessly.
The Bulls and the Bears
These guys deal in stocks of companies. All that they discuss is money, money and money. When they are not talking about money, they play cards. One of the suitcases serves as the table. One guy would sit with a pen and a paper, and religiously note down the scores. Of course, money is involved here as well and losing half the salary in gambling is considered divine by such people. To earn is human, to give away is divine.
Some people like to flash their watches, some like to flash sunglasses. However, there are some who like to show-off their laptops wherever they go. So this techie will start his laptop and check some ‘urgent’ mails. Needless to say, the guy will also own a BlackBerry. He will toggle the trackpad every now and then. The very fact that people are peeping in his laptop gives him a celebrity status.
While you are about to take a small nap after a day’s hard work, a screechy voice will spoil your plan. That voice is of a seller who has got with himself such stuff which you won’t get at any shopping mall in the world. Usually, all that he sells is priced at ten rupees per piece. Nine of out ten items would be made in China and eight of those won’t even last until you reach home. However, the product will work very well until it’s in the seller’s hands for display.
My mother has always been a shopping freak. Back in the nineties, there were no shopping malls in India. So shopping was restricted to roadside shops. On Sunday evenings, my mom used to drag me and my dad out of the house for shopping. Though it didn’t make any difference to me (as I didn’t have to pay the bill), my dad seemed too reluctant to venture out of the house. And the reason was obvious. He was the one whose credit card was flaunted by my mom wherever she shopped.
Back then, I never thought I would inherit the same boat in which my dad sailed. Ever since I got married, the thing that has been used the most is my credit card. And boy, my wife has beaten my mom hands down as far as shopping is concerned. Sometimes I feel her motto in life may be: Shop till your husband drops. Fortunately, for my dad, he is out of this dilemma permanently. It’s now me who gets caught in the shopping competition between my mom and wife. Although what they both shop for are all necessary items for our household, the mother-in-law-daughter-in-law duo seems to have an endless list of “necessary items”. When my wife picks up a pineapple, mom will pick up apples as well. When mom grabs a pack of butter, my wife picks up slices of cheese (and the price of this ‘cheese’ doesn’t make me smile).
My travails don’t end at the shopping mall. The mother-in-law-daughter-in-law duo has a fascination of shopping at different malls and then comparing the prices when we reach home. And needless to say, the one who has sit with a calculator in hand is me.
Last week, I booked a two-wheeler. I now intend to go to the shopping mall on my new bike henceforth. However, that has put me in a new dilemma altogether. If I am the one who will drive the bike, then there has to be a pillion as well. And that pillion gives rise to a million dollar question: Who will it be? Mom or wife? Wife’s mother-in-law or mother’s daughter-in-law?
That’s when my dad came up with a (supposedly) intelligent solution.
“Why don’t you allow your wife to ride the bike. Let your mother sit at the back. We will enjoy few glasses of beer until they are back,” he shared his wisdom.
The idea sounds good. The bottles are already in. Waiting for Sunday.
“What’s in a name?” William Shakespeare once famously asked. Well, I don’t know what’s in a name but there is definitely something in a birth date. Check out my birth date: 4th November, 1981. I think that was not the perfect date to make a grand entry into this imperfect world. Steven Spielberg’s E.T. released a couple of months later. Maybe God attempted a rough copy of an E.T. with me.
The reason I feel I was born on the wrong date is that my birthday always fell in the month of winter holidays, and mostly when the whole country celebrated Diwali. And though the festival of lights brought lot of joy in my household, it robbed me of an opportunity to celebrate my birthday in the school. And the absence of mobile phones during my schooling days rubbed salt on my sadness as absolutely no one from my classroom wished me on that very special day.
We got up early during Diwali, wore new clothes and took a stroll down the locality either while bursting crackers or wishing Happy Diwali to any Tom, Dick and Harry that approached us. Nobody noticed my birthday as I anyway wore new clothes (so did my other family members) and burst crackers expressing my joy (and so did my other family members). In the evening, few mischievous kids from my building used to come with tiny gifts for me. But that was never the same fun as it was with celebrating birthday in school.
That made me jealous of my school mates who were born on days when the school was not closed for vacations. The birthday boy or girl, even though the dumbest in class, used to walk in with his head high (as if he has stood first in the class). As soon as he entered, a swarm of over-enthusiastic boys jumped over him to wish him Happy Birthday. A warm handshake by some pretty girl made the birthday boy go into endless blushing. After he had recovered from that, he took his throne and waited for the teacher to arrive.
Once the teacher arrived, the same bunch of over-enthusiastic boys screamed, “Miss, miss, his birthday!” And then the teacher called up the birthday boy near the blackboard and made him face the class. The ever-so-shy boy made sure he stood a bit across so that he is not facing the girls’ row. His head used to stay down with a cowardly smile on his face until the super slow ‘Happpyyy Birthdayyyy toooo youuuuuu’ got over. The claps followed. And there were more claps if the birthday was of the most bullying and feared guy in the class.
Then the most sought-after and looked-forward-to moment arrived. The birthday boy announced, “Miss, I have brought toffees”. And all necks turned towards his desk. Here the question arised: Which chocolates he must have got? Economic disparity came into play. A boy from a well-off family brought Dairy Milk and sketch pens, while the lesser privileged ones distributed Eclairs, Mango Bite or Kismi toffee bar. Nevertheless, five éclairs picked from the birthday boy’s bag offered more joy than a Dairy Milk, merely because it stayed in the mouth for a longer time and one could endlessly keep chewing it.
My unnecessary shy nature meant that I picked only one toffee from the bag. Others just pounced on it as if was doomsday the next day. When I saw a handful of toffees in the hands of other boys and girls, I warned myself to pick up more the next time a birthday happens in the class.
So what made me go nostalgic about my school days? My girl friend’s call in the morning. It was her niece’s fourth birthday and she wanted to make it big.
“What do you suggest?” she asked me. I switched on my creative button and said, “Why not ask her to distribute Eclairs in her class?” Obviously, my imagination of celebrating birthdays never ran above distributing Eclairs, something I missed throughout my childhood.
“Yucks! How cheap, Prabodh !” I was suddenly cheaper than Eclairs. “I want to invite the whole building, classmates as well as her tuition mates” she screamed.
She had lost faith in my suggestions. “My niece would give better ideas than you”. That scathing criticism actually relieved me a lot. I could now concentrate on the new racing game I downloaded free on my cell phone.
“I have calculated the expenses and also devised the entire celebration plan,” she said victoriously. What followed was a never ending list of cakes, pastries, chips, balloons, caps, chocolates, gel pens and everything under the Sun that could be classified as ‘birthday stuff’.
“Yippee! So the total expenditure comes up to 20,000 bucks”, she declared her unaudited financial results. “How much can you contribute?” she asked me.
Hey, it’s YOUR niece’s birthday. Ask your sister. Ask your sister’s husband. Why me?
“I will need at least 5,000 from you”. She dropped the anticipated monetary bomb.
Not in a state of mind to calculate how much my marriage expenses will shoot up if I marry this girl, I sheepishly asked, “Do you accept cheques?”
“Only local. Not out-station”, promptly replied my lady Mark Twain, leaving me to figure out how to manage my mobile and internet bills this month.
Date: January 28, 2012
Place: A popular restaurant in suburban Mumbai
Time: Around 6.30pm
Characters: I and a girl (who later earned the privilege of marrying me)
“Thanks. My dad gifted this to me on my last birthday.”
The girl was staring at my wrist as she said the above. I rolled over my sleeves to reveal that I was not wearing any watch.
“You didn’t wear a watch today?” she questioned.
“No. In fact, I don’t wear a watch at all,” I dropped a potential bomb. And, unfortunately, it turned out to be one.
“Why?” she was as shocked as if she had just learnt that I am gay.
“I don’t need it. There are so many sources of finding out the time that one need not wear a watch any more. It’s an outdated gadget,” I explained my radical extremist fanatical thinking.
The girl was far from convinced with my explanation. Not that she thought I was insane. She went on to marry me after a month or so.
Coming back to my radical extremist fanatical thinking of not wearing a watch, I think the day mobile phones were invented, watches lost their utility. I can check the time in my cell phone whenever I want. If I am watching TV, I can know what time it is as most news channels carry a clock on some part of the screen. My computer displays the time, my bike does it and so does my wall clock. Shops alongside the footpath have clocks, railway stations have clocks, airports have clocks, and if all these options are not available, I can simply ask someone the time.
It’s now more than seven years since I stopped wearing a watch. And I have not missed it a bit. My wife has made umpteen attempts to make me wear a watch. She gifted me one last month, and I have since been taking great care of it – it’s lying in my drawer, enjoying darkness and occasional light. My father-in-law tried gifting me one. I explained to him my radical extremist fanatical thinking, and he then gifted me a book titled How to Behave Rationally.
To my fans world over, who are reading this blogpost and marveling over my marvelous thoughts: Let me know if you think wearing a watch is necessary in today’s world. If more people reply with ‘yes’, I promise to read the book my father-in-law gifted me.
From: Thane to Kolhapur
Location: Thane Railway Station
Date and Time: Extremely lucky
(For starters, Thane and Kolhapur are two cities in the Maharashtra state of India)
Time: 8.35 pm
I hate wearing a watch!!! Why should I wear one when my cell phone (which has lost its resale value thanks to umpteen scratches on the screen) shows me the correct time whenever I want to!!!! But I am still wearing a watch my dear girl friend gifted me on my birthday. She made me return her gesture by shopping for a doubly dear purse a week later on my ever-so-powerful credit card. The very thought of my upcoming nightmare (read: the credit card bill) is making me feel gloomy.
Hold On, my gloomy mind! A very very very pretty lady enters the compartment, and takes a seat right in front of me. Her family settles elsewhere. My heart says, “All the best! Perfect view!”
My cell phone is ringing. It’s my girl friend calling. She’s already at Kolhapur and waiting for me to arrive there. That reminds me of the newest Newton’s law: When you seek privacy, your cell phone rings.
Now, if I pick up the call, she will ask me whether I boarded the train. Before ending the conversation, I will have to say “I love you” in the most articulate and romantic manner. But I don’t want this beautiful woman to know that I have a girl friend. Why should I break her heart? Why should not I master myself in multi-tasking, which my boss always keeps on mentioning? After all, if there are only 1411 tigers left in India, the number of pretty women is even lesser than that. And whatever are left, they deserve (my) attention at the earliest.
My James Bond-inspired mind is telling me that the lady is a Bengali. She is speaking in Bengali. Roshogulla!!! What’s so special with the Bengalis? Do they always have to be so pretty?
Heart Attack!! I see a two-year old girl sitting next to her. Who is she? No, No...Can’t be her daughter… Could she be her daughter? Perhaps. Okay, I will wait till she opens her tiny mouth and addresses the beautiful woman. Mom? I wish not. Hope she does not take more than two years to speak up. I had taken that much time to speak my first words since I was born. My neighborhood aunt had suggested that hot chicken blood be gushed through my throat to make me talk. That very intelligent idea from the aunt’s Einstein brain made me scream in anger (marking my first words on this planet), “Shut Up! You Dracula aunt!!
The Bengali beauty sips some water from a steel glass. I hoped that the water was potable. I have never believed in these railways people….you have to be wary of their infidelity with hygiene. “Shane Warne ditches his wife for Elizabeth Hurley”, the newspaper in my hand said. Another kind of infidelity.
First moment of success. The lady peeks at me from the corner of her eye. Then she suddenly looks at me, making our eyes meet. The actor in me takes over. I pretend to be least bothered about her gesture and start typing fast on my bulky laptop. She must be thinking I am software professional. What she does not know is that I am using MS Paint, and very badly trying to sketch her picture. While doing so, I suddenly look at the dust-bathed fan and tube light. Then I abruptly pause and glance towards the luggage rack. …all this to build up my personality of a Steve Jobs-like software professional, who will soon come up with something that will make Apple iPod look as outdated as a transistor.
The ticket collector came and left. The Bengali lady got up and started walking towards the washroom. Just before entering the washroom, she turns back and gives me a glance. My 32 teeth suddenly pop up and smile. She doesn’t. She is protecting her ego and dignity. She just looks down and enters the washroom.
I took my most intelligent decision of my life…once her family goes to sleep, I will ask her phone number. At least her Gmail address. Something is better than nothing.
The railway guy came and started switching off all the lights. Hey, I want to sleep with the lights on? I do not want to stare into darkness. Is the lady too staring? To make things worse, I could not see anything at all as I remove my glasses before sleeping (I have to).
Next day, 11.24 am
“Heart, heart, why are you so coward?” Could not dare to ask her contact details. Reaching Kolhapur within few minutes.
Train enters Kolhapur station. A man has come to receive her. I thanked my coward heart for not daring much. The guy is at least 6 feet 5 inches. Can easily break a few bones.
Spotted my girl friend from a distance. She reminds me of this Bengali lady, now history for me. Girl friend is coming closer. Need to think of some romantic sentences and describe my lonely and simple journey….lies come to me as easily as beauty comes to Bengali ladies.
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Okay, the timing of this blogpost isn’t right. Especially after I declared to the world that I am getting married soon. My global fans were quite sad to hear this news. They simply enjoy my posts about my troublesome girlfriends, and they feared I may stop talking about the lovely girls in my life once I get married. So I decided to write one last post about my (latest) girlfriend.
My (latest) girlfriend is sick. And when I say ‘sick’, I don’t mean pathetic or sad. I mean she is literally sick, or unwell. It’s no fun to be unwell. And it’s even lesser fun when your girlfriend is unwell. Since last two days, my girlfriend (I mostly avoid mentioning their names as by the time the blogpost is published, I am dumped by them) has been sneezing and coughing to her heart’s content (if that’s the right proverb to use here). And while doing all that, she has been complaining about her ill health endlessly on phone and through SMSes. As her parents are away, I am the one who needs to run with her to the doc, and buy medicines (of course, on my own credit card).
Someone advised her to drink ginger tea. So I made a kettle-full of ginger tea for her quite gingerly. Then her mother rang, and advised her to inhale hot water through a vaporizer. So here I was, in her kitchen (my presence in her apartment was till date restricted to the living room and her bedroom ), trying to locate the vaporizer amid the mesh of utensils.
And then, she was hungry. So we ordered food (of course, again on my own credit card) from outside. Whether she is down with cold, cough or fever, my girlfriend’s appetite is affected never (sorry for that poor rhyme effort).
After gulping down a bottle of Coke (her cold, cough notwithstanding) and three slices of pizza (its junk food nature notwithstanding), she dozed off, only to get up in the morning. I was there, sleeping (unfortunately) on the sofa, and the boxes of pizza and bottles of Coke still lying on the table. Sensing that I may have to clean up the mess, and even make another kettle-full of ginger tea for her, I decided to quietly sneak away.
Her parents are back home now, and she is recovering fast. She has now decided to break off with me as I am getting married to someone else. Being a boyfriend of a sick girlfriend has taught me one important thing: You are always busier than Santa Claus is on the midnight of 24th of December. But the difference is that Santa Claus gets appreciation. I got the boot.
After reading the title, if you thought I am referring to some celebrity’s upcoming wedding, you are wrong. Of course, if you consider me as a celebrity, then you are correct.
I am getting married on April 26th. After carefully considering proposals of hundreds of (beautiful) girls, I zeroed in on one. I chose to announce this good news through my blog as I didn’t want to listen to the sound of hearts breaking.
It’s still more than a month to go for my suicide (my close friends, who are already married, use that word to describe marriage). The courtship period has been amazing, with the girl discovering my (world-class, Wodehousian and Mark Twainish) sense of humour, among other things. My credit card bills have sky rocketed. I have been visiting the ATM more frequently than the washroom. I now know almost all restaurants and shopping malls in Mumbai. My parents are in joyous mood, I rarely find time for my friends and my boss has already agreed to my honeymoon holidays.
Please don’t ask which girlfriend I am marrying. All my 37 girlfriends (that’s the correct figure; I checked twice) are now history for me. I have informed them all about my decision to get married. I must tell you, they all are really heart-broken. Some are threatening suicide, some are simply weeping whole day, and some are plotting to sabotage my wedding. All in all, a real tough task balancing my heart-broken girlfriends, and my heart-stealer fiancee.
And I now hope I will stop getting friend requests on Facebook from single girls (and start getting friend requests from married ones). Though this is definitely not my last blogpost, it’s the last as far as my flirty habits are concerned. No more can I write about my girlfriends and their antics. But on the other hand, I can now write about my wife. I hope she provides me enough fodder for my blogposts. My honeymoon should be an awesome experience. Though I (obviously) won’t narrate ‘each and every thing’ that takes place in my honeymoon, I would definitely come up with some interesting stories in my now-famous world-class, Wodehousian and Mark Twainish writing style.
Now you all, get hold of your keyboard and congratulate me and my wife for our upcoming wedding. Any advice from married ladies and gentlemen would be appreciated. Gifts will be appreciated even more. Let me know if you need my postal address. Haha.
Ever since I turned eight, I have heard one dialogue umpteen number of times: You are wearing glasses, still can’t you see this?
I am yet to understand why people think that those wearing glasses are able to see more clearly. Some people have even accused me of being able to see more than others: You are wearing glasses, that’s why you could see that.
The reason I am getting suddenly personal with my glasses is that my (latest) girlfriend is not happy with them. She wants me to wear contacts. I told her that even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet wear glasses. But then she compares my bank balance with theirs, and renders my argument ba
In India, contacts are very important. No, I am not referring to contact lenses. I am referring to the acquaintances you need to have to get things done in your favor. If only I had such contacts, I would have been far more successful (or shall I say just successful) today. Alas, what I have is neither those contacts nor the contacts that one wears over the eyeballs. I have my lovely looking glasses, which always manage to grab the wrong eyeballs, especially of my (latest) girlfriend.
I was eight years old when these glasses started their love affair with my eyes. Three years from now, the double couple (my two eyes and the two fr
After my girlfriend (thankfully) threatened to ditch me over my glasses, I decided to go for contacts. She took me to an optical shop in a sprawling shopping mall. The prices tagged on the lenses were so high that my eyeballs almost popped out. While my girlfriend was eyeing the eye lenses, I was eyeing their prices. She is an expert in choosing contacts, having changed them at least once a year. Her birthday wishlist comprises a set of gifts: a new cell phone, new contacts, new purse, and a new boyfriend. The first three are fulfilled by her dad. The last one by herself. Needless to say, I am the latest and already on notice, thanks to my supposedly stupid glasses.
I just didn’t want to go for contacts. Divorces are bad, and I wanted my eyes to keep romancing the glasses on my nose. So I simply kept on rejecting the lenses that the shopkeeper showed, while holding my glasses close to my heart and gulping down few glasses of water. Finally, my girlfriend got irritated and pulled me out of the shop.
“You don’t want to wear lenses, am I right?” she screamed. I could see our break-up.
“Fine. You only love two things. The glasses on your nose and the glass of beer you gulp in parties,” she tried to play on words with this master wordsmith. I was a bit worried. She had never got so emotional. I hoped she wasn’t really in love with me.
“I think we should stop talking to each other.” She announced the good news with tears in her eyes, and left through the glass door, leaving me with my glasses. Two days later, she messaged me to say sorry. She had to do that. After all, her birthday was months away, and no new boyfriend was in sight so far.
I sent her a heart-shaped smiley, and then enjoyed few romantic moments at her house in the evening. That’s the only time I part with my glasses. Boss, I need glasses to read, not kiss.
Okay. So now that you have already clicked on the title of this story/blogpost, I want to confess something. This story has nothing to do with Facebook. In the last few months of my (terrible) blogging, I realized that any post about Facebook attracts more readers than posts which don’t blabber about FB. If you don’t believe me, check the number of views I have got for my posts that have ‘Facebook’ in its title. So I just decided to include the word ‘Facebook’ in the title and deceive my universe-wide readers.
I know the repercussions of this naughty behavior and how my fans would react. Some polar bear may throw snow at me straight from Antarctica. Some female alien may remove me from her ‘friends’ list on FB (hey, see I talked about FB! I didn’t deceive). The Nobel Prize committee may withhold my name for this year’s Nobel in literature. Steve Jobs may throw a rotten apple at me from the cloud. And Kristen Stewart may dump me.
The rotten apple reminds me of Newton. Before defying gravity himself by leaving for the heavenly abode (I believe heaven is somewhere up there in the clouds), he left behind some laws. And in-laws as well. But that’s his personal matter.
However, there are some laws that he simply forgot to mention. So I decided to put them into words here. Do let me know if you find these true. I have experienced them myself, and hence this effort (in Newton’s name).
Law of Restart: Nine out of ten technical problems with your computer can be resolved by restarting it. Corollary: If you do it yourself, what will the IT guy do? Go for another smoke?
Law of Search: The first place to look for anything is the last place you would expect to find it.
Corollary: It will still not be there.
Law of Laundry: The shirt you desperately want to wear today is in the laundry.
Law of Elevators: The elevator at the farthest distance from you will arrive first. People who stand in front of you are the ones who want to get down last.
Law of Salary Hike: The more the increment you get, the more taxes you pay. Consequently, the net income remains the same.
Law of Absence from Work: The fewer holidays you take in the first half of the year, the fewer holidays you get in the latter half of the year due to more work pressure.
Law of Trains: The train traveling in the opposite direction arrives first, while you wait on the platform for yours.
Law of Living: As soon as you start doing what you always wanted to be do, you'll want to do something else.
Law of Logging Out: When you leave late from work, there is nobody to notice and appreciate you. When you leave work early, you will meet your HR manager in the elevator.
Law of Cafeteria: The day I carry my own lunchbox to work, there is something very tasty available in the office cafeteria.
Law of Friendship: The friend whom you meet suddenly after lot of years is earning more than you, and has a prettier wife.
Law of Blogging: Pretty girls add me on Facebook, and appreciate my blogposts. The rest too do the same.
“Why don’t you take the staircase? A bit of exercise is good,” my mother-plus-health trainer advised.
“No, I will go by the elevator. Climbing four storeys doesn’t seem to be a good idea,” my lazy mind replied. My mother wanted me to deliver a set of keys to a lady, who forgot it at our place when she dropped in for a chit-chat session over the problems faced by our residential complex in the recent times.
(20 minutes ago….)
When she had arrived at our house with a one foot wide smile, I wondered what could be the reason. It was only after she went into the ‘political mode’ that I realized she was here for campaigning. Her son-in-law is running for the corporation elections next month, and she wanted to grab the precious five votes from our house.
She left our house with a victorious smile since my mother assured her that our votes were all hers. Her son-in-law’s list of assurances included a library, garden, and gymnasium in our locality.
“The garden will be as big as…….,” the lady was scouting for an idiom.
“As big as the potholes in our locality?” my naughty mind was about to ask this question, when my mother chipped in: a lake?
“Yeah, yeah…as big as a lake,” the lady agreed shamelessly.
After gulping down a glassful of lemonade, she left. But she forgot her keys on our table. So my mother assigned me the task of delivering the keys back to her.
“But she will come and collect it,” I tried to avoid the task assigned.
“No, you go and give it to her. She is the mother of our next corporator. She will always remember your assistance,” my mother uttered her prophecy.
CUT TO THE PRESENT!
I was waiting for the elevator patiently. There are three elevators in my building, and all of them are useless. One is always on the top floor, one at the ground and the last one runs non-stop without taking a halt on any floor. I had to wait for at least a couple of minutes before I finally got into one. I was only hoping I meet the same lady-cum-campaigner in the elevator so that I handover the keys there itself.
The door opened, and my heart skipped a beat or two. A teen girl, with a book and purse in hand, was standing inside…..alone! I looked left, then right…saw no one else, and joyfully entered the elevator. The girl shifted back and started staring at the indicator above the door. To kill time, I looked toward the board on the right: IN CASE OF POWER FAILURE, DO NOT PANIC.
I wished there was a power failure….now!
And the elevator stopped. Not on any floor, but in between. I looked back. The girl was looking at me as if I stopped the elevator. I may not be good-looking, but I definitely do not look like a villain. I pressed the emergency button…and gosh! The button just popped out and dropped on the ground. The girl gave me another suspicious look. I checked my cell phone. There was no network coverage.
I asked the girl to give me her hair pin. “Why?” she reacted as if I asked for her skirt.
“Do you want to get out or not?” I asked in a harsh tone, giving a full stop to my romantic mood. By now, we both had started sweating. I took her pin and inserted in the socket where the emergency button was put up. Thankfully, the bell rang. I hoped there was someone who was hearing the bell, and that particular someone was close to the building.
“Thank God!” the girl said. Either I was god for her, or she really thought god entered my brain and made my mouth utter the words “Can I have your hair pin”.
“Do you think anyone is hearing the bell?” she asked after noticing that no one was responding from outside.
“Do you think they know we are stuck?” “Do you think the power will be back?” I wished the same god that she thanked educates her with the fact that there was no way I could find out the answers to her questions.
“What’s your name?” I asked. I was back in my romantic mood.
“Meghna,” she replied while rubbing off the sweat from her forehead, but still managing a smile.
“You stay in this building? Haven’t seen you before.”
“No, I was here to meet my uncle, Mr. Bhoir. He is running for elections, you know. He is going to win from your locality,” she started her campaigning at the first available opportunity. My imagination started running wild. The girl will tell her uncle how helpful I was…then if he wins, he will happily reward me…either with the girl or gold. Either way, I was fine.
“Hello, look up!” a voice screamed, breaking my dream. It was that of the security guard. He had opened the door with the emergency key.
“You go first,” I showed courtesy to the girl. I held her delicate hand in my hand and helped her climb. When she got out, I handed her the keys.
“It’s Mrs. Bhoir’s. She forgot it when she came to our house for campaigning.”
“Oh Okay. Thanks. I will handover the keys to her. And thanks for your help. You are a nice person.” I felt blessed. She waited until I was out safely. “I and my family will vote for your uncle. He is a very good person,” I returned the gesture.
She started walking away. I suddenly realized her hairpin was still with me.
“Hello, Meghna! Your hairpin!” I screamed. The security guard’s eyes popped out over the thought that how come her hairpin was with me, and wonder what we did in the elevator.
“Keep it. Will collect it when I come the next time,” she said turning back smilingly, and getting into a taxi.
Gone are the days when people used to feel the most excited on getting a new job, or attending a birthday party. Nowadays, people are most ecstatic when they have something to post on Facebook – a photo, or a video or relationship status (from single to committed).
Agreed Facebook deserves all the success that it has achieved. It cruised ahead of Orkut even before the latter could realize that it was a hare that dozed off and the former was a tortoise who refused to snooze. Its young CEO is a shining example of a creative mind. But still the question that bothered me is that why Facebook is so popular in India. So I put my thinking cap on my head, and without using Google, tried to find out the reasons for its popularity in this billion-strong country.
Given my Einstein + Edison intelligence level, it didn’t take me long to figure out the reasons.
Man, it’s free! In a country where fuel is costlier than beer, and vegetables sell at the price of gold bars, people are bound to jump on something that is free of cost.
It’s a superb time killing tool for idle minds. The girl in my neighborhood chats for hours on her cell phone with her boyfriend, and when the chat is over, logs on to Facebook from the cell itself to check for any comments. Then again her boyfriend calls back. This goes on until she dozes off (but not before she updates her status to: Going to sleep).
For those who like to pass comments on anything that happens in the world, or at least with their friends, Facebook is the ideal place to be. What’s more, there are always few people who would ‘Like’ your comment, no matter how pathetic it was.
If you have got something new recently, be an iPad, bike or even a pair of socks, you can put a picture of it on Facebook. Rest assured, you will get a few likes even though no one actually cares whether you travel on a bike or a bullock cart.
People who have not yet lost their heart to anyone (or who didn’t find anyone interested in their heart) can spend time on Facebook checking love compatibility and friendship quotients. Moreover, girls that are usually found hanging out with some guy in real life are ‘single’ on Facebook.
You can send a friendship request to absolutely anyone and get away with it. What’s more, some pretty girl may even accept it, no matter where you actually stay or how you look.
If you are an ugly looking guy or girl, you can modify your snap on Picasa or Photoshop, and then upload it on Facebook. All pimples and dark spots disappear and you look no less than Brad Pitt or Kristen Stewart (depending on your gender).
With the arrival of Google+, I do not know how long Facebook will continue to be part of people’s life. Maybe, Facebook will still emerge as the tortoise that never snoozes. We Indians have the habit of trying to copy the western world, be it cinema or everyday lifestyle. As long as the western countries continue their love affair with Facebook, the social network should take it easy in India as well.
And those girls who liked this blogpost of mine, why not add me on Facebook? Just type Prabodh Phanse in the search box, and here you go. Lol.
“No problem is so big or so complicated it can not be run away from” – Charlie Brown in Peanuts
Life is full of problems. Well, at least mine is. I don’t know about you. But none of those problems seem to be big enough than the efforts I need to take to save income tax every year. So much so that even my ever-pending marriage seems to be a lesser evil (this statement is also a clue that I am searching for my bride, and you should be searching one for me rather than just laughing over my blogposts and situation).
This year, my company decided to be pro-active. No, not in increasing our salaries, but in levying income tax. We were asked to submit investments proofs by mid-December to avoid being taxed in January 2012. As usual, I slept over the mail until the last moment. It was only a week before the deadline that I realized I was in a soup and that Charlie Brown was a visionary (for proof, read the first line of this blogpost again).
“If you don’t invest your money, you would probably be spending it on useless things,” advised my company’s accountant, in a saintly tone.
“For example?” I asked.
“Like eating and living.”
“Oh my god! Eating and living are useless things? Then what are the useful ones? Playing poker in the club?” I was shocked to hear the accountant’s reply. For a moment, I saw a radical terrorist in place of him. Next, I thought he will say wearing clothes too is useless.
“No, no. I mean eating out at restaurants and paying rent for the place where you live.”
His clarification was a big sigh of relief, and brought him back in the league of ordinary citizens. My parents always advise me to save for my old age. Unfortunately, all that I save is not for my old age but for the dreadful month of March, when we are charged income tax here in India. And by shooting out a mail regarding submission of investment proofs in December itself, the company sent me on a spending spree.
I had read somewhere that people who complain about taxes can be divided into two classes: men and women. So true. Surprisingly, I have noticed that girls and women never complain about taxes. Forget about complaining, they don’t even discuss about taxes. May be they think that income tax too is something that their husbands or boyfriends are supposed to take care of. May be they don’t even check their salary slips. Whatever.
I wish during my school days, they had taught me how to deduct than how to subtract. By the time the deadline arrived, I had invested money in every scheme under the sun. After deducting all my investments from my annual income, I learnt that I will still end up paying six thousand rupees as income tax this year.
My heart sank like the Titanic. But unlike the fateful ship, I noticed the iceberg. Or shall I say, the silver lining. What if I had a girlfriend? I would have spent much more than six thousand rupees every year on keeping her happy and catering to her demands. What if I was married? My wife’s monthly grocery bill and other shopping would have been at least two-fold.
The whole trauma of making investments for saving tax suddenly seemed bearable. What looked like a root canal surgery without anesthesia, now seemed like Santa’s Christmas gift for me. As Charlie Brown could have said:
“No problem is bigger than having to pay taxes, and spending on a partner you can’t run away from.”
“Ask him to get up! It’s 8.30 now. How long does he want to sleep? I need his help.”
My dad was firing on all cylinders. Even though Diwali was over, and fire crackers were done and dusted with, explosions happen round the year in my home.
After watching a horror movie until late last night, all I wanted is a sound sleep. I got addicted to watching horror movies courtesy my friend, who claims to have a ‘mini library’ of horror movie DVDs at home. The Exorcist, The Omen, The Shining, The Ring…you name it, and I have watched it. And after watching, I have spent sleepless nights staring at the fan above me, and getting up scared even at the lightest movement of the bed sheet or the mattress.
But I prefer not let my parents know about it. Else, my mom will never allow me to watch these movies, and I will have to be content with watching the never-ending soap operas on the television.
Dad’s bombing waked me up. I have a Christian family staying in the opposite apartment. They spend their Sundays so lethargically. Even at 11 in the morning, they are sipping coffee. After lunch, they take a nap. Then they play some badminton, or just roam around before going to some restaurant for dinner. I always wish to spend my Sundays in similar fashion, just doing nothing productive. However, my dad thinks otherwise. He feels Sundays are for cleaning the house. Right from the store room to the drawers, everything has to be first dusted, and then washed. Both I and my mom are held at ransom by my dad, who arms himself with a broom, a duster, a vacuum cleaner and a wet cloth, and asks us to empty the drawers and other furniture. The slightest laziness we show, he screams like a dinosaur. He does not know how many (chicken) eggs are there in the refrigerator, but he very well knows where cockroaches and mosquitoes exactly lay their eggs in our house.
First step is to empty the place that is to be cleaned (time consumed: 30 minutes). Then, cleaning everything with a brush or a dry cloth (time consumed: 60 minutes). Once manual cleaning is done, take a vacuum cleaner and try to suck in the dust stuck in all nooks and corners (time consumed: 30 minutes). Then, take a wet cloth and try to wipe out stern stains on walls or furniture (time consumed: 30 minutes). Meanwhile, your back announces its pain. Finally, things are kept back into the drawer, etc. and then the floor is mopped (time consumed: 60 minutes).
In between all these gruesome steps, I and my mom frequently look at each other as well as at the clock. When finally all the six rooms of our house are cleaned, we heave a big sigh of relief. My dad goes to take a bath. We both look at each other and simply try to convey a message through our eyes, without saying anything: Next Sunday, I am going to run out of the house in the morning itself.
Few weeks back, I had written a blog post/story about my experience in a call center, and how I almost had a nightmarish time surviving there. (Those who missed that story can simply type ‘The most read blog post ever’ in Google, and the search engine shall return the appropriate result).
In that story, I had mentioned how I underwent a training session for a voice-ba
“Amazing! Fantabulous! Worth reading a thousand times” – William Shakespeare (via heavenmail)
“Brought tears in my eyes. So emotional” – Bhaaloo, the polar bear (from Antarctica)
“The new bestseller” – The Newer Yorker Times
“So humanly” – E.T., the alien
It’s been more than eight years since I left (rather, ran away from) that call center. Has the situation changed today? Perhaps not. Young boys and girls in Indian metros are still competing with owls and nightjars, and working in office even on festivals like Diwali.
Will the scenario be same 10 years from now? Definitely not. Going by the way American and European economies are digging their own grave, it seems the sc
Location: A call center in Texas, California or New York
Exact place: Training room of the call center
Time: 11.30pm (Of course, American time, not Indian)
Day: Doesn’t matter
Characters: A trainer, and his trainees (and umpteen glasses of hot chocolate to drive away the sleep)
It’s the first day of training. 500 candidates had applied for 20 vacant posts of customer care executives. These 20 shortlisted candidates will have to offer voice-ba
In other words, the tables have turned. Outsourcers have now become outsourcees. American companies are earning in rupees. When rupee falls, their revenues go down.
The trainer enters. His name is Harry. But for his Indian clients, he is Hari. After a quick round of introduction, he asks every trainee to adopt an Indian name so that they can fool Indian customers to believe that the call center is in India itself.
So Gary chose to be Gursharan, Jack became Jagan and Senorita was rechristened Sita.
“How would you greet the customer in the morning?” Harry asked.
“Super bat,” Senorita screamed even before others could raise their finger to answer.
“I guess you meant suprabhaat. That’s okay. Remember to say ‘No’ at the end of every sentence?”
“Yup. Every sentence in Indian English ends with no…..You are getting me no? You will pay the charges no? I am here to help you no,” Harry was explaining in an animated manner. “You can put ‘no’ at the end of any sentence in the world.”
“The next important word is ‘only’. It should be pronounced as ‘wonly’ for a certain section of people.” “Use this word to pass the blame or take credit.”
“For example: You only asked me to say that.”
“Next very very important word is yaar,” Harry moved on to the next word of wisdom. “Yaar actually means friend. But you can use it for anyone in any scenario. Joy, anger, frustration, appreciation……yaar has to be there.”
“Come on, yaar” “What yaar?” “Great yaar” “Shit yaar”
“So can anyone use all the words that I taught in a single sentence?” Harry shot a question.
“What yaar, you only asked me disconnect the call no,” Jack aka Jagan replied even before Senorita aka Sita could open her mouth.
Apple is a very lucky fruit. Globally, it is the first English word a child is taught in school. A for apple is the kid’s salute to the widely cultivated fruit. ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ goes a popular saying, obviously not endorsed by any doctor. ‘And if the doctor is a lady, keep the apple away’ goes the continuation of the popular saying, probably endorsed by some flirty lady doctor.
The world has been deeply defined and influenced by a tale of three apples. First apple was the one eaten by Adam and Eve on the eve of Adam’s birthday (well, not actually. I just tried to pun). Eve said to Adam: An apple a day will keep the doctor away. Adam replied: Since you are a pretty lady, I will (better) keep the apple away. And then they sinned, immortalizing apple as the symbol for knowledge and temptation.
Then, there was the second apple. This apple fell on a certain guy called Isaac Newton, following which he discovered gravity. I wonder if it was a coconut that fell on his head instead of the apple, he would have had a memory loss, and not even remembered the spelling of apple.
And then, there was the third apple. This one didn’t fall on anyone’s head. Instead, it came out of the head of a maniac called Steve Jobs. Though I am yet to purchase an Apple product (thanks to its premium pricing), I feel the company has done enough to call itself a true innovator.
The Macintosh is the sleekest computer ever. Even its skeleton must be looking sexier than Microsoft’s PCs.
When Apple created the iPod, Walkmans became outdated. The iPhone redefined the look for cell phones. It also spurred China-made clones available at dirt-cheap prices. In fact, if Apple revolutionized phones, China has redefined clones. When a single SIM iPhone was launched by Apple, China came up with dual SIM iPhones. For every Nokia, China has Nokla and for every iPhone, there is an ePhone. These phones are best suited for kids who want to play games, and just find joy in pressing the buttons randomly. My 5-year old cousin has a China-made iPhone (called ePhone), which he uses to give me missed calls. How he manages it is a mystery for me.
In my previous organization, one of our clients was O2. The telecom company was the exclusive reseller of iPhones in the UK, and we use to handle their customer care from India. Their executives had flown down to our office to showcase the new iPhone. On the first weekend of their official visit to India, these guys went to Mumbai’s Crawford Market for shopping. One of the guys was proudly displaying his brand new iPhone, expecting admiration in return from the local shopkeepers and onlookers. He stopped in front of a small shop to check out some cell phone accessories such as ear phones and screen guards. To his horror, the shopkeeper’s kid was holding an exact replica of the iPhone, and playing songs on it louder than an amplifier. Needless to say, our client had to keep his ‘original’ iPhone back in his pockets. He was later informed that China-cloned iPhones had hit the markets even before Steve Jobs reached home after announcing the launch of the original iPhone.
Just when I thought Apple had innovated enough, they came up with the iPad. While I gifted myself a simple Nokia phone on my last birthday, my (wealthy) girlfriend got an iPad from her (wealthier) father as her birthday present. She now flaunts the iPad in her hand as if a college student holds a notepad or a book.
Realizing that it takes two to tango, Nokia and Microsoft have joined hands to come up with Windows Mango. While apparently it seems a bit sheepish to call your product Mango just because your biggest rival is called Apple, what remains to be seen is whether Nokia is able to upset the Applecart (pun intended).
P.S.: Steve Jobs has reached heaven and is working in alliance with God to launch a product line called iGirlfriend and iWife. It’s a remote that can be used on your girlfriend/wife. It shuts her eyes whenever she approaches a shopping mall, and also has a mute button.
Disclaimer: Though this story talks about American economy, I am not going to bombard you with words such as GDP, recession, Fed, Eurozone, austerity, debt, deficit and default. It’s a view as seen from a layman’s eyes.
This conversation involves three characters: My cousin Vaibhav (an avid reader of The Economic Times), my mother (a non-MBA, totally naive about the economic terms mentioned in the disclaimer above) and I (who needs no introduction). Most of the conversation took place in Marathi. However, I have translated it in English as this site does not have the facility of subtitles.
On a bright (and surprisingly sunny, considering India’s new-found, never-ending monsoon) Sunday morning, I was busy gathering the pages of The Economic Times scattered all over the living room, courtesy the super-fast fan. My mother dropped in and switched off the fan. As she bagged her Marathi newspaper to read, my cousin entered the scene and took hold of The Economic Times. Left empty-handed, I picked up a pamphlet and joined the reading session.
“Standard & Poor’s has downgraded US’ credit rating from AAA to AA-Plus,” Vaibhav fired the opening salvo. He is in his element while discussing how the US should go for more austerity measures. At the same time, he hates anyone who advises him to cut down on his shopping and fuel expenditure.
“AAA, AA…..these sound like battery sizes….sort of Duracell,” the non-MBA character in the room said with a poker face. “They are not battery sizes, but credit ratings by a company called Standard & Poor’s,” Vaibhav clarified after recovering from a burst of laughter.
“What name is that? How sub-standard and poor the creativity of people who named that company,” my mom continued with her fours and sixers.
The ratings downgrade made me nostalgic. Back in the nineties, in any city in India, when people asked a kid what he wanted to do after growing up, his answer was tailor-made: I want to go to America. Nowadays, I understand, when a kid in Manhattan or Florida is asked the same question, his answer is: Maybe I will go to India. The kid is quite right. Half of American jobs are with us. Perhaps, when he comes to India for a job, he will feel homely while handling calls of his countrymen.
As far as Indians are concerned, America has been replaced by Tihar jail as the most sought-after place.
“So does that mean the US kept on borrowing for the last 50 years, and never bothered to return the money?” asked my mom.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Our farmers are better than the US then. At least they commit suicide and put an end to borrowing. US leaders won’t even do that,” my mom.
“So when Standard & Poor’s downgraded the US to AA-Plus, I learnt Obama downgraded Standard & Poor’s to AIIC….As If I Care!” I commented, trying to match my mom’s sense of humour.
“So the real smart dude in this whole episode has been China. It loaned and loaned to the US until Uncle Sam forgot the count of his debt and the date of returning it,” Vaibhav said, showering his accolades on the inventors of triple shezwan fried rice (though I don’t know whether this menu item actually originated in China or at some road-side Chinese stall).
“Now, whenever the US will ask China to improve on human rights, China will ask the US to first return its money,” mom said, indicating that she may be the next subscriber of The Economic Times.
Few days back, I saw the movie 2012, which shows the world nearing an end. I think, the movie should have shown America coming to an end and the Chinese flag fluttering over the White House (and on the top of most other nations’ official buildings) in the years to come.
“I mean, why did US fight all these wars by borrowing a loan? This is like decorating your girlfriend’s house by borrowing money from your wife,” Vaibhav went wayward with his reasoning.
“Yup. So many wars they have indulged in. Vietnam war, Gulf war, Afghanistan war, Iraq war, Star Wars,” I tried to outclass Vaibhav in wayward reasoning.
“Hehe!!” Vaibhav endorsed my joke.
“So, who is to be blamed for this American mess? Taliban? Al-Qaeda? Or the American government?” he asked me, as if I really knew the answer.
“Columbus. He should have kept quiet after discovering America,” I fired the closing salvo, leaving Vaibhav and my mom in splits.
Previous PostsWhy you should never have an unemployed girlfriend, posted December 13th, 2012
Fish Fry and Inflation, posted December 13th, 2012
An insider view of an overcrowded train compartment, posted September 11th, 2012
Partners in crime, posted September 11th, 2012
What's in a birthdate?, posted July 9th, 2012
The forgotten timepiece, posted July 5th, 2012
A derailed love story, posted June 21st, 2012
Oh my Godmen!!!, posted May 23rd, 2012
Your master wordsmith is back!!!, posted May 16th, 2012
My sick girlfriend, posted April 12th, 2012
Coming Soon: Wedding of the Year, posted March 20th, 2012
A Glassy Affair, posted February 29th, 2012, 2 comments
Facebook and some laws that Newton forgot to mention, posted February 8th, 2012
Elevated romance, posted January 23rd, 2012
Revealed! Why Facebook is popular in India, posted January 10th, 2012
Dear Santa, help me save some tax!!, posted December 19th, 2011
How my Sunday broomed past me, posted November 14th, 2011, 1 comment
Indian English - The survival kit for tomorrow, posted November 1st, 2011
A tale of three apples, posted October 18th, 2011
The standard is getting poorer, posted September 27th, 2011, 2 comments
Kings of Mumbai, posted September 21st, 2011, 1 comment
The art of window shopping, and shopping for free!!, posted September 14th, 2011, 1 comment
Understanding life at 30, posted September 5th, 2011
Let’s sleep!!!!, posted August 25th, 2011
Thou shall be billed until death, and even after that!!, posted August 2nd, 2011, 3 comments
To hell and back, once for all!!!!, posted July 25th, 2011
Today’s HorrorScope, posted July 6th, 2011
Single, but dying to end the single-dom, posted June 29th, 2011, 1 comment
Bollywood decoded, posted June 21st, 2011
Admissions Open for M.Sc, posted June 13th, 2011, 1 comment
A global waste of time, posted June 6th, 2011
www.My-Grandma-Loves-The-Internet.com, posted June 3rd, 2011
To hell with Facebook, posted May 31st, 2011
Bush dreams of Osama, posted May 27th, 2011
Why you should never have an unemployed girlfriend, posted May 25th, 2011, 2 comments
An insider view of an overcrowded train compartment, posted May 18th, 2011
What's in a birthdate?, posted April 20th, 2011, 1 comment
A derailed love story, posted April 19th, 2011
Now or Never, posted February 26th, 2011, 2 comments
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