Monday, April 30, 2007

Bluh-duh relations

Q. What's the best thing that can happen on a dreary Monday morning?

A. A dear friend (who just became daaktarni sahiba, by the way) can send you a howlarious video that you just can't wait to share with the other bewdas.

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting this week's video of the week, on the giant LCD screen, which the bar has recently err... acquired.

Video courtesy Chaosthunder101

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The thunder thief

Not many people would have had the experience of pouring sambar into a katori under the watchful eyes of a Chinese lady who speaks fluent tamil, and who had also made the sambar, by the way.

So I've started volunteering in the kitchen of the restaurant owned by the Temple of Fine Arts. The restaurant is run by volunteers who do most of the chores like cooking and serving the food. I've always wanted to volunteer there (being a firm believer of the notion that cooking and serving food to others are amongst the noblest things one can do) but I firmed up the details only after Viv and I held a post-wedding party for our close friends at that restaurant. The organisers had done an amazing job with the decor at the party and even had the two customary chairs which are so mandatory at Indian wedding receptions. And not to mention my favourite flowers - pink gerberas!

At the party, we had done a slideshow for our guests, mainly to showcase what our 'south Indian-north Indian' mix wedding was like. After the party, we got several emails, including one from the event manager, telling us that they found the slideshow really funny. I still remember the slide that got the most laughs. Many relatives, upon finding out that I was marrying a south Indian had called to ask me what Viv looked like. To make things interesting, I'd told 'em gasping relatives that he looked like South Indian superstar Mammootty. No offence to Mammootty, but aforementioned relatives were very relieved when they finally saw Viv. I told this story at the party and even had a Mammootty vs. Viv comparison slide. I guess everyone at the restaurant remembered that because on the first day of my volunteering, I was introduced to each of the other volunteers as "the girl who had her wedding party and the funny slideshow here last month".

Anyway, today they needed help for a catering event for 500 people, and my mom-in-law and I pitched in. We had almost finished preparing 500 pieces of banana leaves, when the event manager came up to me, smiled and said, "Sayesha, there's a new volunteer and I want you to help him settle down." I turned around and the "new volunteer" turned out to be the man Viv himself! He had a meeting in the morning, but I'd asked him to join us if he finished early.

We were put in charge of preparing two trays of mithai. Both of us put some amazing teamwork and our geeky engineer-brains to work in order to calculate how we could best arrange the three different kinds of mithai into a pattern using two trays in a way that all of it was used up. We made a futile attempt to make the others understand our precise use of mathematics in the mithai arrangement, but they kinda just gave up and we were left to do our 'exciting calculations'.

After the mithai was done, the tamil-speaking Chinese sambar-lady put Viv in charge of making the coconut chutney. Under her watchful eye, of course. Viv made a ridiculous amount of chutney - the container itself was the kind from which buffaloes drink water! It was hilarious to see him make the chutney in the funny mixer that did not have a lid so he had to keep his hand on top, and every time he opened the mixer, bits of chutney went flying in all directions. I put on an apron for him, to protect him from the flying chutney. But he still managed to get drops of the pakora batter (pakora man was standing right behind Viv) neatly deposited in the form of yellow dots amidst the blue dots on his white shirt. After a while, sambar-lady left Viv to handle the chutney all by himself. Sheesh! This guy just walks in and wins everyone over! I suspected that she trusted his chutney-making skills more than she trusted my sambar-pouring skills! Hmmmph! Ok fine I admit it, I was beginning to get really jealous.

And then there was the guy who renamed me. One of the volunteers was this really young chap. He approached me hesitantly.

"Errr...." he said to me, and paused, as if trying to place where he knew me from.

"Yes?" I asked.


I was getting a bit tired of smiling politely and waiting for his memory to revert to him, when he got it.

"Oh yeah! Now I remember! You're the south-meets-north slideshow girl!"

"Huh? I'm the what?"

"The south-meets-north slideshow girl... your husband is Viv, right?"

"Ohh... er, yeah, that would be me." I said out aloud.

But in my head, I was saying something else.

What the...?! "Viv" you know! But "Sayesha" you don't! He has a name, but I don't? He is Viv, and I'm just random south-meets-north slideshow girl??? :/

"Sheesh, Viv... you steal my thunder one more time and..." My thoughts were interrupted by another introduction session.

"This is Sayesha, she and her husband Viv had their wedding party here last month, remember?"

"Oh yeah, I think Viv sent us a very nice 'Thank you' email after the event." came the reply.

Dubbal sheesh!

It was me who had sent the very nice 'Thank you' email after the event. Me, not Viv. Just like most people, I like to get my fair credit where it's due. And I especially can't tolerate anyone stealing my thunder. Argh.

Ah well. Just one more balidaan by bhartiya naari for pati parmeshwar. I'm used to it now. Well, almost. A cousin speaks to him for the first time on the phone for like ten minutes and declares that he likes Viv more than he likes me. Gee thanks. Bro, you choose random stranger over 26 years of cousin-ship? My folks are so proud of him because he can speak my language but I'm still struggling with his! But Tamil is a terribly terribly difficult language, but no one gives me credit for that! Waaaaaaaaaa! :'(

And not just in the real world! 2 years at the bar. 488 posts. 16692 comments. And this guy just saunters along and becomes the laadla of every bewda/bewdi at the bar! People message me on gtalk, "So when is Viv playing pictionary again?"

Bhai does the hard work, guy gets the bouquets.


I guess it's true then.

Behind every successful man is a random south-meets-north slideshow girl. :/

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The unusual and the un-useless

So I was wandering around a mall when I entered this tiny shop of odds and ends, and spotted something rather interesting. On sale was a pair of 'YiFan bathing gloves'. You don't need a towel, you don't need a sponge, you don't need a pumice stone. You just wear the gloves, put the shower cream on them and scrub away.

It looked like one of those inventions made in someone's basement and perhaps even produced there, going by the instructions on the package. I've reproduced the instructions below (without any editing whatsoever, including the random and sudden use of uppercase letters). What you see is what I saw.

Special Function
This glove is made from high quality microfiber nylon No smell, No harm for the body. It Can get rid of the dirt which attached on the skin, strengthen our body and cosmetics.Even more,it Can Refresh the cell.strengthen the circling of blood therefore makes the skin smooth,gentle,and soft
YiFan bath glove comfortable and convenient

Using Method
You Shoud put some soap on your body body before use the bath towel The glove can Suck a little water when it comes across water. this can strengthen the function of cleaning dirt. It suit for all kinds of soaps and other products which can protect the skin.

Advice:please use in different color

So I bought a pair cos I figured they'd be amazing for exfoliation. Well, I don't know if they "strengthened the circling of my blood" but they sure better made my skin smooth as hell. I know I sound like one of those people on the teleshopping channel who have a Caucasian face but sell the product in hindi, but I really wonder why Watson's doesn't carry this amazing product.

The whole thing reminded me of a book called '101 Unuseless Japanese Inventions: The Art of Chindogu' that my ex-boss had lent me many years ago. Those who are not familiar with the word 'Chindogu', here's what Wikipedia says:

Chindogu is the Japanese art of inventing ingenious everyday objects that, on the face of it, seem like an ideal solution to a particular problem. However, Chindogu has a distinctive feature: anyone actually attempting to use one of these inventions, would find that it causes so many new problems, or such significant social embarrassment that effectively it has no utility whatsoever. Thus, Chindogu are sometimes described as 'unuseless' - that is, they cannot be regarded as 'useless' in an absolute sense, since they do actually solve a problem; however, in practical terms, they cannot positively be called 'useful'.

According to the International Chindogu Society (yes, there is one!):

'Dogu' is Japanese for "tool" and 'chin' is Japanese for "weird". Thus, a chindogu is a weird tool. Every Chindogu is an almost useless object, but not every almost useless object is a Chindogu. In order to transcend the realms of the merely almost useless, and join the ranks of the really almost useless, certain vital criteria must be met. It is these criteria, a set of ten vital tenets, that define the gentle art and philosophy of Chindogu. Here they are:

1. A Chindogu cannot be for real use
It is fundamental to the spirit of Chindogu that inventions claiming Chindogu status must be, from a practical point of view, (almost) completely useless. If you invent something which turns out to be so handy that you use it all the time, then you have failed to make a Chindogu. Try the Patent Office.

2. A Chindogu must exist
You're not allowed to use a Chindogu, but it must be made. You have to be able to hold it in your hand and think 'I can actually imagine someone using this. Almost.' In order to be useless, it must first be.

3. Inherent in every Chindogu is the spirit of anarchy
Chindogu are man-made objects that have broken free from the chains of usefulness. They represent freedom of thought and action: the freedom to challenge the suffocating historical dominance of conservative utility; the freedom to be (almost) useless.

4. Chindogu are tools for everyday life
Chindogu are a form of nonverbal communication understandable to everyone, everywhere. Specialised or technical inventions, like a threehandled sprocket loosener for drainpipes centred between two under-the-sink cabinet doors (the uselessness of which will only be appreciated by plumbers), do not count.

5. Chindogu are not for sale
Chindogu are not tradable commodities. If you accept money for one you surrender your purity. They must not even be sold as a joke.

6. Humour must not be the sole reason for creating a Chindogu
The creation of Chindogu is fundamentally a problem-solving activity. Humour is simply the by-product of finding an elaborate or unconventional solution to a problem that may not have been that pressing to begin with.

7. Chindogu is not propaganda
Chindogu are innocent. They are made to be used, even though they cannot be used. They should not be created as a perverse or ironic comment on the sorry state of mankind.

8. Chindogu are never taboo
The International Chindogu Society has established certain standards of social decency. Cheap sexual innuendo, humour of a vulgar nature, and sick or cruel jokes that debase the sanctity of living things are not allowed.

9. Chindogu cannot be patented
Chindogu are offerings to the rest of the world - they are not therefore ideas to be copyrighted, patented, collected and owned. As they say in Spain, mi Chindogu es tu Chindogu.

10. Chindogu are without prejudice
Chindogu must never favour one race or religion over another. Young and old, male and female, rich and poor - all should have a free and equal chance to enjoy each and every Chindogu.

If you google 'Chindogu', you'll find tons of them, but here are five of my favourite Chindogu!

Back Scratcher's T-Shirt
The fast and logical solution to infernal itching

If you're getting someone to scratch your back, it can get really annoying if they can't accurately locate the damn itch. This T-shirt has an 'itch-locator' grid so the scratchee - armed with a hand-held miniature corresponding grid map can guide the scratcher more accurately. So instead of saying "Left a bit, up, a little down..." and still not getting it right, all you have to say is "Try G8?"

Commuter's Helmet
For secure subway snoozing

If your office is far away from home, and you have to get up really early and travel a distance, you may want to catch a nap in the train. This helmet comes complete with a suction pad to avoid your sleepy head falling on uncooperative passengers' shoulders. A message on the helmet says, 'I'm having a short nap. Could you please wake me up when I reach the stop printed below? Many Thanks.'

Hay Fever Hat
The all day tissue dispenser

This hat supports a large toilet roll with an easy dispense mechanism, enough to last you a whole day of terminal sneezing.

Portable Zebra Crossing
The pedestrian's best friend

Tired of waiting endlessly to cross the road? Fight for your rights as a pedestrian, carry your own portable zebra crossing! Roll it out wherever you want, whevener you want, and cross away my friend! Comes with a gentle warning: On busy roads where there is no break in the oncoming traffic, attempting to roll out the Portable Zebra Crossing can be hazardous.

Cockroach Swatting Slippers
Swat from a safe distance

If you'd like to swat the hell out of those annoying pests with a slipper but are afraid of getting too close lest they turn around or fight, or worse they turn out to be the flying kinds, behold this! The retractable rods in the slippers help you maintain a safe distance during the swatting process.

If you thought, just like I did, that you came up with the very original idea of wipers for glasses till you saw Govinda in Gambler singing "Mere daddu pehne diaper, chashme pe unke wiper!", don't lose heart yet.

The possibilities of creating un-useless objects are endless.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sa-chin up!

"Do you know Lara is retiring?" Viv turned to me and asked.

He was watching one of the insignificant matches of the World Cup. Ever since our blue monkeys got kicked out of the World Cup, every match has become insignificant to me. Alarmingly, cricket itself seems to have become insignificant to me. I think I'm just gonna root for a kabaddi World Cup now. And then Australia will saunter along and win it and I won't be surprised. That's how I have become.

But that's me - a typical Indian cricket fan. I love the game even though I don't understand all aspects of it. I love my team when they win and I yell at them when they lose. And then I love them again when they win.

I looked at him expressionlessly. A long deliberate pause later, I said, stressing on each word, "Viv, you know what?"



Realising that I was this close (--> <--) to losing interest in cricket altogether, he showed me this video, which I'm proud to present as the video of the week at the bar. This video has given me goosebumps, inspired me, and almost made me cry.

If you like:

(a) cricket
(b) Sachin
(c) science

this video is a deadly one. Titled 'The difference' and presented in three parts, it analyses the difference between Sachin Tendulkar and us in a very involving manner.

Watch it. It may:

(a) bring you back into the game if you're also turning cynical
(b) rekindle your love for cricket and all its little nuances
(c) remind you against all odds how incredibly proud our little master blaster makes us.

Inspiring words from Harsha Bhogle at the end - "If you marry a phenomenal work ethic to the talent you're born with, then you can achieve almost anything."

Goosebump alert: Nothing to do with cricket, but just watch Sachin's eyes from 07:02 to 07.08. Oh man.

Video courtesy Panesarv

Friday, April 20, 2007

No kidding

It was the scariest afternoon of all my years of relief-teaching.

I was taking a class of 4- to 5-year-olds, an age group that is usually a delight to teach. They are attentive, sufficiently scared of the teacher, lively and get involved in almost anything you teach them. So I was really looking forward to the class.

However, amongst the little ones was a certain kid (let's call him Danny) who actually freaked the living daylights out of me. At first I did not notice anything strange about him - he looked like a regular bespectacled Singaporean kid - but I realised after a while that he was unusually quiet. After the kids had matched the young of animals to the parents, I asked them if they wanted to colour the animals. All of them gleefully attacked the crayons.

Except this one.

"Danny, don't you want to colour the animals?" I asked.


"Why not?"


"Danny, teacher said - colour the animals." One of his classmates said.


"You say 'No' to everything."


By then, I was in another corner of the class, trying to explain to a kid why she couldn't colour a calf blue and the corresponding mother-cow purple. I could hear the banter between Danny and the other kid, but I thought it was one of the meaningless conversations that kids have when they have finished their work and are waiting for their classmates to stop colouring.

"Is your name Danny?" The other kid was laughing away, obviously having fun asking all these questions and getting negative responses to all of them.

"No." Danny said, still with a straight face.

I've seen kids play this game, but it's always accompanied by laughter. This time, it wasn't.

"Do you wear glasses?"


When I turned to them, I realised that Danny had moved about four chairs away from the other kid, and was looking at him with what could only be described as hatred. At the same time, he seemed to be kind of enjoying answering the questions in a masochistic kind of way, and waiting for the next one. The other kid, however, was getting tired of teasing Danny, and was also running out of questions.

"Danny, get back to your seat." I said.

"No." he glared at me.

A 5-year-old glared at me, and for a second I was afraid. I was afraid of a 5-year-old.

So I realised that the best thing to do was to move on to the next topic. As I explained something on the whiteboard, he kept staring into space with a very steely look in his eyes. And he still sat four seats away from the rest of the class. He was not one of those cheeky kids trying to be funny. I've come across plenty of those kinds, but this one was different. In a weird sort of way, in a way that would make you forget his age. And I knew it wasn't my imagination.

At the end of the lesson, I asked the kids to go to the computer room to watch a video on marine animals. All of them cheerfully ran to the computer room, but Danny stayed put.

"Danny, don't you want to watch the video?" I asked.


"Look, everyone else has gone. Shall we go too?"


"It's a very interesting video, Danny. I'm sure you'll like it. Come, let's go."


"Okay, if you won't go, I won't go either." I dragged a chair and sat next to him. He did not say a word or look at me.

A few minutes later, I noticed him looking at me every now and then.

"What is the matter, Danny? Is there something you want to tell me?"


"Are you angry, Danny?"

For a second it seemed like something returned to his steely eyes, but then he looked away again. I could not believe why he was behaving in such a grown up manner.

"Danny, are you angry at someone? You want to tell me?"


Perhaps I'd been reading too much about the Virginia Tech shooter, but the truth was - even though he was at most five years old, Danny was exactly the kind of kid I could see taking up a gun and shooting his classmates. It wasn't funny.

I started to wonder - are these the kind of kids that grow up into violent killers who believe they are merely taking revenge because they have been wronged? Or was I over-reacting? Should I have raised the alarm or was it too early and way of out line? When you are a relief teacher, along with limited responsibilities comes limited power. You're merely covering for a teacher who is ill. You're not responsible for anything beyond the basic lesson itself. You cannot get involved in the character-building of the kids you're teaching. You're probably never going to see the kid again in your life, and what you do, even if your intentions are good, may leave a mess behind for the regular teacher to clean up after you. So there I was, helpless, not knowing what to do, whether to raise the issue, whether to write a note to the parent or even to the regular teacher. She would probably toss it aside with the thought - what does the relief teacher know about the kids in my class? And I'd be blacklisted forever by the school as the paranoid relief teacher with the hyperactive imagination.

For all you know, they could be right.
Perhaps I was indeed over-reacting? I'd probably read too much on the Virginia Tech shooter and other school shootings in the last few days. Perhaps the kid was just having a bad day. But then, do 5-year-olds have bad days? We grown-ups have bad days. I had one myself - I spilt milo on my white top before my job interview, the interview itself didn't go as well as I'd wanted it to, I dropped my favourite black jacket somewhere on the way to the school (and hence almost froze to death in the four hours I spent in the freezing classroom), encountered the naughtiest (and most annoying) little girl I'd ever taught, and ended up with a really bad headache. That was quite a bad day. But I wasn't angry. What can happen in the day of a 5-year-old to make him so angry?

And let's say this kid stayed angry all the way. Perhaps he had a lonely childhood, perhaps his parents did not have time for him, perhaps his classmates ridiculed him. Whatever it was, he had something on his mind, and he had not told anyone. Was it possible that he would do something drastic when he grew up and then blame it on his childhood? Whether it's completely true or not, most offenders do tend to blame their parents, their classmates or their upbringing for their crimes. In a world where psychiatrists would believe anything to create a theory, I guess it's easy to blame someone else to justify your actions. But aren't parents getting too much flak? If their kid turns crazy and kills 30 of his classmates and then himself, they live with the flak that they did not bring up their kid right. As if they really wanted their kid dead. And then, random teachers jump up after the deaths to claim that they saw 'signs' of a 'disturbed childhood' and what not in 'the killer'. But the kid is dead and so are many other innocent ones. Who's the one living with the heartbreak at the end? It's the parents again. Why are they always at the receiving end?

Is it really as easy as looking out for 'signs' in your kid? Is it not possible that due to hyper-vigilance by people around him (including his parents), a normal kid is somehow unnecessarily branded as 'odd' or 'angry' and 'someone who needs help' just because someone noticed something about him that was different from his peers? Is it not possible that the so called 'help' extended to the kid by society is the reason he gets so screwed up that he ends up pointing a gun at the people around him? Doesn't this mean that watching a kid too much may be just as responsible for a school shooting as not watching him?

They say parenting is a joy. 'They' also say that bringing kids up is not easy. But why? Why is parenting so difficult anyway? If having kids is an ability most people are born with, shouldn't parenting be as easy as the rest of the abilities we are born with, such as eating and drinking? And if it's so hard, then how do you know whether you're going to do it right or not? If everything your kid does is a reflection of how you brought him/her up, isn't it too risky? How do you know what - or whether something - is 'wrong' with your kid? What if there are no 'signs'? How do you know which of your littlest actions are going to be blamed for playing a part in a bloodbath many years down the lane?

Whose fault is it really?

If a government has endangered lives by introducing guns into society, is it possible that you could end up endangering lives by introducing, without your own knowledge, a ticking time bomb - your so-called "badly brought up kid" - into the same society, to promptly pick up the gun so freely supplied to him/her?

What is more dangerous really - the gun or the kid?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Drawing the line

There are five reasons why playing pictionary with Viv is so entertaining.

1. He believes there is no time limit in pictionary. He thinks he can draw until the end of the world but it's okay as long as you can guess what he drew.

2. His drawing skills are... errr... uhhh... ummm... you know.

3. If I don't get what he's drawing, he'll start drawing something else, and he'll spend a LOT of time drawing it. And just when I guess that and go 'Yippee!' he will indicate that what I've got is only a clue that is gonna lead to another clue (which is a new thing he will draw) and THAT will then lead to the actual word I'm supposed to guess. Sheesh. :/

4. He uses lateral thinking skills in pictionary, especially in situations where you don't have to.

5. Some of his drawings are virtually undecipherable by anyone but me! :D

So yesterday ooparwala was meherban and he (Viv, not ooparwala) got home at an hour decent enough for us to have a game of pictionary after dinner. The theme was 'Personalities'.

First he drew this stick figure wearing an oversized nappy but before I could squeal and say "Baby Aish!" he'd drawn a bow tie.

"A guy with a large nappy and bow tie... hmmm..."

Seeing my dilemma, he drew a cape around the guy.

"It's a superhero?"

He nodded vigorously.

"Spiderman...? Batman...? Superman...?"

He nodded a "Yes" at 'Superman' and then indicated a 'No'. Sheesh! Did I mention he does that a lot?

"So it is Superman but it is not Superman?" I asked.

So he drew a guy next to Nappy-man and a sun above his head. Then he started drawing straight lines on the second guy's head, who also happened to have the longest stick figure neck ever.

"Fido Dido??" I asked.

He drew more straight lines. The lines seemed to be getting closer and closer to the sun.

"His hair is evaporating???"

He shook his head and started drawing more lines on the guy's head. V-shapes actually.

"Okay this guy has weird hair, or he really is evaporating..."

Viv made an impatient noise.

"Is that the sun or is that krypton or something? Krypton making Superman evaporate! Hahaha!"

Viv glared at me and proceeded to draw a circle with lines on it.

"Is that the earth?" I asked.

He shook his head and drew the same thing again. This time he partly shaded it.

"Yeh kya ho raha hai... hey bhagwan... is this the earth or not??"

He shook his head and drew an eye taking an aerial view of a third stick figure. Then he drew another circle and partly shaded it too.

"Errr... top view of head... partly shaded.... hmmm... is this supposed to be a bald guy or something?"

He nodded and sat back grinning like a child who has finished his homework before everyone else in the class itself.

"What the... ok let me put this together. Bald guy related to Superman? Is it Lex Luthor?"

He was smiling.

"Lex Luthor is correct???"


"Hey, wait a minute. So what the hell was the evaporating hair for??" I demanded.

"That was sunlight reflecting off his bald head." He smiled.

"What?? Sunlight reflecting off his bald head? So where were the arrows to show the reflection?"

No answer.

Ok fine. My turn.

So this is what I drew.

"It's a beauty queen... Miss India?"

I nodded.

"And that's a cricketer. From India?"

I shook my head. There was a reason I'd drawn him outside the map.

Then I drew two strips on each of their heads (it's a code to indicate the word 'name').

"Their names?"

I nodded.

"They have the same name?"

I nodded.

"They have the same name????"

Duh. Yeah-ha!


I rolled my eyes and glared at him.

"There's a male cricketer called Aishwarya???" He asked.

"Hahahaha! No, but there's one who is close, he's called Jayasuriya!" I guffawed at my own bad joke.

"Sushmita?" He tried.

"What's wrong with you, Viv? A male cricketer called 'Sushmita'? Think, man think!"

So I figured there are way too many Miss Indias and I'd have to give him another clue. So I drew this.

"She became Miss World? Oh I know I know! Hayden! Diana Hayden! Matthew Hayden!"

He sat back, grinning.

"I said same name, not same surname yaar!"
So I shook my head and drew an oval around the circle.

"Miss Universe?"

I nodded.

So he thought and thought and thought and finally said it.

"I know. It's Lara Dutta."

I nodded. Then he protested.

"But Lara is her first name, and his last name. So technically they don't have the same 'name', right?"


"Ermmm... Dude, it's your turn to draw." I quickly changed the subject.

So he drew this. It looked like a guy in a body cast who had been shot out of a melted cannon. Next to him was a guy who had covered his eyes with his hand, possibly because he could not bear to see the gruesome nature of the things he was witnessing. The Indian flag gloomily observed the proceedings.

"Viv, is that by any chance supposed to be India?" I pointed at the melted cannon.

He nodded.

"Ohh... some Indian politician... head of state... Jawaharlal Nehru?"

He shook his head.

"Is it an Indian Prime Minister or a President?"

He nodded.

"Someone from Gujarat?" I was looking at the big blue circle on the "India map".

He shook his head.

"Are you sure this is not Jawaharwlal Nehru?"


"But he looks like Jawaharlal Nehru!" I insisted.

Another glare.

Actually if it looked like Jawaharlal Nehru, it had to be anyone but him. After all, Viv had drawn him. :P

So I started rattling off the names of all the Indian Prime Ministers and Presidents that I could think of. Finally I stopped at Gyani Zail Singh and then said, "I'm out. Draw something else."

So he drew this at the bottom.

"It's a teacher scolding a boy who's whistling in class?"


"Oh wait, that guy is playing a piano?"


"That's a piano? Hahahaha!"


"Ok ok. This is an orchestra?"


"So the guy with the stick is a conductor?"


"Zubin Mehta?"

Viv made a face and I knew exactly what it meant.

"Oh, it's not exactly a conductor? A music director?"


"A music director from South India?"



He shook his head.


He shook his head.

So did I. With impatience.

So he drew this at the bottom of the page. It was a stick figure flying through the air in a projectile motion. What was with Viv and stick figures flying through the air like cannonballs?

The stick figure seemed kinda drunk and I seemed to be so too, since I could not stop laughing. He wrote the numbers '0' and '42'. I wanted to tell him numbers weren't allowed, but it was too entertaining, so I let him continue.

"This guy is a marathon runner?"

He nodded.

Where the hell is this going, I wondered. I did not know the name of a single famous marathon runner. Less so that of a marathon runner who went on to become the President of India. Or the other way round.

Then he drew another stick figure with a sad face.

"Sad guy?"

He nodded.

"I know I know. This guy could not finish the marathon so he is sad." I declared victoriously.

He shook his head vigorously.

"Oh, so he did finish the marathon?"


"He finished but he's tired?"

Vigorous nodding.

"He's exhausted?"

More vigorous nodding, followed by a drawing of a face with an arrow coming out of his nose.

"He's blowing his nose? Yuck!"

Impatient shaking of the head, followed by vigorous pointing at all the guys involved in this weird marathon saga.

"Oh... he's breathing out."

Nodding, followed by maniacal pointing at the arrow.

"He's breathless?"

Big grin on Viv's face.

"Breathless... Shankar Mahadevan! Oh he's the music director you were trying to show! Phew I got it! Finally!"

Grin gets bigger.

"Hey... wait! Wasn't there supposed to be a President or something?"


"Oh man... Nooo.... Surely you don't mean it's Shankar Dayal Sharma?"

Biggest grin.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Kumbh ka mela

Three incidents led to this post.

Incident #1
Sometime ago, I read somewhere that Charlie Chaplin once cheekily entered a 'Charlie Chaplin' look-alike contest. But this is not the funny part. The funny part is that he lost. Someone else made a better Charlie Chaplin than Charlie Chaplin himself!

Incident #2
Recently, I read that people are so angry at the Indian cricketers they're not even sparing the look-alikes. Neighbours of Yogendra Shah, Sehwag's look-alike, threw stones at him after India made an exit from the World Cup. Sheesh.

Incident #3
I saw a picture of Mithunda's son Mimoh.

So I decided, in a moment of absolute vellaness, that I will write a post about pairs of celebrities that have fooled me at one point in time or another by looking like each other.

Parveen Babi and Zeenat Aman

When I was a little kid, I actually thought for the longest time that these two iconic beauties from the 70s were the same person! Now I think Zeenie baby was the sexier of the two.

Kabir Bedi and Shekhar Kapoor

I guess facial hair makes a lot of people look like each other. I used to often get confused between these two till they started doing completely different things altogether.

Farheen and Shilpa Shirodkar

I'm not sure if a lot of people remember Farheen. She starred in over a dozen movies in the early 90s, but the only one I saw was 'Jaan tere naam'. And there was Shilpa Shirodkar, Miss India 1993 Namrata Shirodkar's not so well-known sibling. There was actually a movie with both Farheen and Shilpa, and Dad and I were watching it in bits and pieces. Both of us thought that there was only one heroine in the movie till the last few scenes where one of them died or something, and yet she was there, as if refusing to leave the sets. And it was then that both Dad and I realised that there were actually two heroines in the movie!

Jojo and Lindsay Lohan

When I first saw Jojo, I'd never heard of her and thought she was Lindsay. It does not help that both teen icons sing. Thankfully, now I can differentiate between the two. Jojo is way prettier than Lindsay.

Aishwarya Rai and Sneha Ullal

When I saw the trailer for 'Lucky', it was like watching 'Hum dil de chuke sanam' all over again. Rediff christened Sneha 'Aish Lite'. Although Aishwarya is a zillion times more beautiful than Sneha (honestly speaking, I don't even find Sneha beautiful at all) but the look they had given her in Lucky was totally reminiscent of the former Miss World's look in 'Hum dil de chuke sanam'. The fact that Sallu was eeriely lurking around both of them made them look all the more similar.

Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg

I'd never seen Mark Wahlberg till I watched 'The Italian Job' a couple of years ago. I totally flipped for who I thought was Matt Damon. Now I can't stand Matt Damon (mainly for agreeing to act in a senseless movie like 'Stuck on you') but I still like Mark. And even though I can easily tell them apart now, I still think they have very similar smiles.

Suniel Shetty and Mimoh Chakraborty

Though Mimoh looks like a mix of Suniel Shetty and Ashmit Patel, the picture I found of him really reminds me of Suniel Shetty in some movie where he played this psycho who walked around in a black overcoat.

Hrithik Roshan and Atma Rao

Even though I know that almost every celebrity has tons of look-alikes, I've only used Hrithik's double Atma Rao (I found his picture while surfing for the rest on the post) in the post for a reason even though he is not a celebrity himself. Most "good" look-alikes are those of guys with facial hair as it's easy to duplicate the hair. But for a clean-shaven guy to look so much like a clean-shaven celebrity is really a wonder.

Any celebrity pairs who had you confused?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Shakira doli re

This week's 'Video of the week' is Shakira's Spanish song 'Ojos asi' with clips from the Hindi movie Devdas. I must have watched this video a gazillion times - I just cannot get over how beautiful and seamless the editing is. The perfect harmony of the audio and the video, even though they are from totally different and unrelated sources, is surreal.

Watch this - it's almost a work of art.

Video courtesy Atossa

Friday, April 13, 2007

Playing it by the year

I've never insulted my birthdays by referring to any of them as "yet another birthday". They've always been full of elation and excitement. I have always grinned from year to year. Strangely, this is the first time in my life that I am experiencing mixed feelings on my birthday. Random things are crossing my mind today:

  • Today is Friday, the 13th.
  • My last four birthdays were celebrated in the same office. I miss that.
  • My last blog post was hijacked by commentators and transformed into a discussion about Adnan Sami's weight. And now people are wishing me there. High time I had a legitimate birthday post. :)
  • Many people on Orkut, upon getting notification of your birthday, tend to wish you whenever they feel like it. Chirpy "Happy birthday, Sayesha!" messages on Orkut sent a week before my birthday really annoy the hell out of me. :/
  • The older we grow, the more depressing birthdays get. Not because we're getting older, but because birthdays stop being a big deal.
  • Generally I don't hint about what I want for my birthday, because whatever I want, I buy it for myself. But when you desperately want something like the Indian cricket team cap which you can't find in Singapore, you gotta hint. And how I hinted. Not just about what I want, but how what I want can be obtained. Sigh. Now I don't even want it anymore. :(
  • Sometimes I feel that after a certain age, you don't age by years, you age by bands. Your age is expressed in terms like early twenties and late twenties, and that kinda age lasts a while, definitely a few years at least. Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad one.
  • Viv gifts me a cool new mobile phone and goes off to work, while I - the manual-hater - struggle to use the unfamiliar UI to reply to the gazillions of 'Happy birthday' messages from people. Those who are wondering about the blank messages they've received from me need to wait till end of the day for me to figure this phone out. And oh, if you need receive a non-blank message from me and wondered why it was so emotionless, I'm still figuring out the emoticons on this phone. :)
  • I like it when my friends find out about what I want, and get me that instead of random vouchers or money on my birthday. I guess I'm more of a gifts person. Unless the gifts turn out to be boring books, or ugly vases or photo frames or Ferrero Rocher chocolate (bleah)! But sometimes a little green note can make your day! Thanks to my Dad in law, I can afford that expensive dress I saw in Vivocity the other day. I was gonna gift it to myself, but I already gave myself a sexy pair of black shoes, in spite of promising myself that I'd buy shoes only after joining a new job. But now I feel less guilty cos he's buying me that dress. And I think that green note also has allowance for two more pairs of shoes too! :P
  • Ever felt like you just wanna get away from everything and be by yourself on your birthday? Ever felt like you can't answer another "Happy birthday, so what's the plan for today?" telephone call?
  • Viv's uncle calls and says, "Happy birthday, Bhai! Aaj kisi ko supari leke tapkaane ka nahin hai kya?" It's so great not to have to be a prim and proper bahu before my in-laws. I reply with a "Bhai ka budday hai, marne wale ko bhi discount milega!" Gosh he's so awesomely adorable! :)
  • When I was a kid, Mom used to make chaawal ki kheer on my birthday. Early in the morning, I'd wake up to the smells of the birthday puja, which in spite of not being religious, I used to look forward to. I know the recipe to make chaawal ki kheer, but I won't make it. Cos Mom must have made it already. She does every year. But she doesn't let Dad have too much of it, because he has diabetes. :(
  • What do you do when you see a 'Happy birthday' sms from an unknown number? Do you send them a generic thanks or insult the person who remembered your birthday by asking them who the hell they are?
  • How do you react when a dear one puts you through emotional hell, tramples on your self-respect, and then gives you a very nice birthday gift? Is that supposed to be an apology?
  • I don't know what is sadder - the fact that some people forget your birthday or the fact that it stops mattering whether they remember or not.
  • I miss my friend and colleague Bananapen. She's the kind of person who can transform a drab birthday into a "special event". She'd plan everything so well, put so much effort into the surprise, the gift, the card, the cake. Ah the cake. As long as she was around, I knew there would be no mistake with the cake. She knew me so well. I'm not too fond of cakes, except for cheesecake, but then I have never seen a cheesecake being used as a birthday cake (wouldn't that be great?). But this awesomely yummy chocolate cake with a crunchy base used to feature in almost all of my birthdays in my old company, and I never got tired of it. Thanks, Bananapen! Cocoa exoctica, was it?
    ps: Freaky Friday! Just as I typed this paragraph out, she sent me a message saying she's dropping by, armed with a cheesecake! Yeay! :D
    pps: Yes, she was a victim of one of my 'blank replies' too. :P

  • The last few weeks have been kinda depressing in a strange unexplainable kind of way. The only thing that cheers me up is when my sister and I switch on our webcams and I watch baby Aish do bharatnatyam on her keyboard. It's amazing how much joy an exclusive baby Aish wallpaper designed for your birthday by your blog buddies can bring you. Thanks, gal pals!
  • When he called to wish me, my brother-in-law said, "Aish wishes you 'Dhatinda'!" Apparently, she can't say "Mummy" or "Daddy" but the only thing she says that sounds remotely close to a word is "Dhatinda". See, I wasn't kidding about the bharatnatyam bit.
  • What do you say when your closest buddy poses a question like "So do you want a surprise for your birthday or you don't want it?" Where's a hockey stick when you really need it? :/
I think I need to make up for this rather weird birthday.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me a year.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Every move I make

So yesterday I get a call from an India mobile.

"Kaisi hai bey?"
("How are you?" in a very informal style)

It took me a while to register who it was. And then I did.

"Oh my goodness! Tu hai!" I exclaimed.
("It's you!")

"Haan bey!"
("Yes, it's me!")

It was M from my school days. M was not really in my class, or even in my school for that matter, he was a friend of my friend A. But M had somehow decided to make himself my friend much to my disapproval. He hung around with A all the time, and whenever I went over to A's (A was my neighbour too) I'd find M there, and he'd be telling me things that would totally freak me out.

"Abbey sun, tu class mein us ladke D se itna baat mat kar, samjhi?"
("Listen, don't talk to that guy D in your class too much, understand?")

Appalled that this random friend of A's should dictate who I spoke to in class, and also offended at being addressed as "Abbey" all the time, I asked, "And why's that? Woh dost hai mera!"
("He's a friend of mine!")

"Dosti toh bahana hai. Woh line maar raha hai tujhe!"
("His friendship is just an excuse. He's hitting on you!")

"Hey bhagwaaaaan..." ("Oh gawwwwd...") I'd roll my eyes and ignore M, while A guffawed away.

Then there was this time I was standing at the bus-stop waiting for the school bus when this random guy approached me and said, "I want to be friends with you."

"Sorry I'm not interested." I said, and forgot about the incident.

That evening, M says, "So that guy who tried to talk to you at the bus-stop this morning..."

"Oh my goodness, how do you even know about that???"

"Chup bey. Humko sab pata rehta hai. Usko pitwa dein?" He said.
("Shut up. I always know everything. Should I send someone to beat him up?")

"KYA?! Paagal ho gaye ho? Pitwa dein it seems!"
("WHAT? Are you crazy?? Send someone to beat him up it seems.")

"Theek hai theek hai. Par tumko phir se pareshaan karey toh batana. Khair nahin uski."
("Ok ok, but if he bothers you again, tell me. I won't spare him.")

"Hum kya bateyenge, tum toh pehle hi pata laga logey..." I said dryly, as he guffawed.
("What will I tell you, you'll probably find out before I do.")

The strangest thing is - though he seemed to know everything about me, I did not know much about him, except the fact that he liked this punjabi girl in the neighbourhood who did not daalo him any ghaas. This was revealed by A's younger brother to me in one of the "Let's sabotage M" sessions. But M would never tell us anything about the girl. He'd abruptly change the topic every time we mentioned her. But he did point her out to me once from a distance.

Once I asked A, "Yeh jo tumhara friend hai M, yeh school-wool jata hai?"
("This friend of yours, M, does he go to school?")

"He goes to the local college."

"Hmm... thoda ajeeb sa nahin hai? Bina soche samjhe kahin bhi kuchh bhi bol deta hai!"
("Hmm... isn't he a bit weird? He doesn't think before he says anything, anywhere!")

"Hahaha!" A would laugh. "Thoda nautanki hai, lekin utna bura nahin hai. His intentions are good... thoda protective hai... apni doston ko lafungon se bachana chahta hai."
("He likes drama, but he's not a bad guy. He's a bit protective, he just wants to protect his female friends from 'the bad guys'.")

With time, I came to appreciate the kind of person M was, and also get over the freaky way in which he kept an eye on me. And oh, I also learnt to freely use the word "abbey".

This was way back in 1997.

So yesterday when I got a call from him, I was really surprised. Even though I have him on my Orkut list, and occasionally send him some gaali-galauj (abuses), we rarely speak on the phone.

"Abbe Sayesha, us ladke ne kya likha hai tere scrapbook par?"
("Sayesha, what did that guy write on your scrapbook?")

"Huh? Kisne? Kya likha?"
("Huh? Who wrote what?")

"Teri smile ki badi taareef kar raha tha? Dazzling smile and all? Kaun hai bey?"
("He was praising your smile a lot. Dazzling smile and all? Who's that?")

Sheesh. It was just one of my friends trying to be funny. His scrap said, "I couldn't help but notice your dazzling smile. So what else do you do apart from dazzling people with your smile?"

"Ufff... Woh dost hai mera, aise hi nautanki kar raha hai."
("He's a friend of mine. Just upto some drama.")

"Ohhh! Tum jaanti ho usko? Humko laga koi line maar raha hai!"
("Ohhh! You know him? I thought someone's hitting on you!")

"M! Itne saal baad bhi tumko yehi chinta hai? Tuney isliye phone kiya?? Dhakkan!"
("M, you're still concerned about that after all these years? Is that why you called? Moron!")

"Nahin bey, aise hi baat karne ke liye. Waise Orkut par tumhara naya profile picture bahut achha hai. Kya be, shaadi ke baad tum toh sundar ho gayi ho bey!"
("No, just to talk to you. By the way, your new Orkut profile picture is very nice. You've become pretty after getting married!")

"What the hell! Kehna kya chahte ho? Pehle badsoorat they?"
("What the hell! What are you trying to say? That I was ugly before?")

"Nahin, matlab school mein toh aise hi thi, normal-types, gunda-gardi karti thi isliye pata nahin chalta tha ki dikhti kaisi ho... ab toh maal ho gayi ho bey! Tabhi tumko sab dazzling smile wala scrap karte hain, haan?"
("No, in school you were the normal-types. Because of your gunda-gardi one couldn't tell how you looked, but now you've become a babe! No wonder people send you scraps about your dazzling smile!")

"Tumko kaam-dhanda nahin hai, mere scraps padhte rehte ho? Dus saal ho gaye, abhi tak tumko chinta hai ki humko koi line na maar de?"
("You are so jobless that you read my scraps? It's been ten years and you're still worried that someone will hit on me?")

"Hehehe... Achha ek baat aur suno..."
("Ok listen...")


"Tum jab humko scrap karti ho na, toh gaali waali mat diya karo. Sab humpar hans rahe hain ki saari ladkiyan tujhe gaali hi deti hain."
("When you scrap me, don't send abuses. Everyone laughs at me that girls only send me abuses.")

I occasionally sent him "Abbe gadhe, kaise ho?" ("How are you, you donkey?") or "Kya haal hai, Dhakkan?" ("What's up, moron?") messages.

"Ufff... theek hai, nahin bhejenge. Abse likhenge, "M tum kitne handsome ho!" Theek hai?"
("Okay, I won't send such scraps. I'll write "M, you're so handsome!" Okay?")

"Achha tumne dekha? Mera Orkut album? Hum kitne smart lag rahe hain na?" He sounded really happy.
("Oh you saw? My Orkut album? I've become very smart, isn't it?")

"Bahuuuut smart lag rahe ho. Khush?"
("You look verrrrry smart. Happy now?")

"Kya re... mazaak udaati rehti ho... Maal ho gayi lekin gunda-gardi abhi tak chalu hai... sabko kya dhamki wala scrap karti hai..."
("You're still making fun of me... You've become a babe but your gunda-gardi continues... I've seen you send threatening scraps to everyone...")

"Okay M, stop reading my scraps and my friends' too, okay? Good thing I delete all scraps every now and then."

"Arre toh tumhara khabar kaise rakhenge??"
("Then how will I know what's happening with you??")


We spoke for a little longer and then he hung up. It felt really good to talk to him. He reminded me of the friendships of the school days. The innocence, the sincerity, the emotions, the jealousy, the frankness, the brutal honesty, the watchful eye, the looking out for one another. And of course, the total craziness.

Somehow, these elements seem to be missing from our grown-up friendships.

Immediately after the phone call, I got an sms from him.

"Hope you still remember this old friend once in a while. And if so, what is the first word that comes to your mind when you think of me?"

I could see that he was getting a bit sentimental. So I decided to send a sensitive reply - something appropriate for the occasion.

"Kameena." I sent.

"Thank you." He replied. "You haven't changed at all. I like it."

Neither have you, M. And I like it too. :)