Thursday, December 25, 2008

In which I have a meal - and other unusual stuff

Square meals these days are quite unusual for me. I am following what is known as the Zone Diet, in which one gets all ones carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables, and proteins from soya granules. And taste from memory. Every once in a while I am allowed to look at pictures of food. Yesterday I saw a full page photograph of Pasta in White Sauce, as I was eating the broccoli.

And today, we went for a nice traditional Satyanarayana Pooja and a traditional banana leaf meal thereafter. Actually, the only thing I COULD have eaten was the banana leaf itself. Everything else was high glycaemic load carbohydrates. But religion is religion. I pigged out on the goodies, and I'm wallowing in guilt at the time of writing this.

A very close friend, similarly situated in terms of triglycerides yet unable to bring himself to follow such diets asked me how I manage to do it. Here I must resort to aphorisms and mystic couplets like the old masters in the upanishads who had to answer all those questions like "who am I" and weren't allowed snappy answers like "you are someone who could use deodorant". The master here is the missus. I am the faithful disciple.

Said the disciple

O all-knowing one, what will befall
One who fails to follow this diet and all

Said the all-knowing one

Know that if you disobey me, you can give up all hopes
That your love life will be any better than the pope's

And moreover if I see any back-chat or sass
Concerning this diet, I might just kick your ass.

My concern for my toenails my demeanour does soften
Or else I would have kicked your butt far more often

For the next time I see you with fries or a sweet
You had better leg it out of here because you're meat

Monday, December 22, 2008

The weekend that was

I've just installed Linux into my old desktop and it works like a breeze.

This is a version called Puppy Linux. It's less than 100 MB, loads into the memory like a flash and works perfectly. And this on a decrepit old desktop.

It detected everything automatically, including the internet, the audio and the cd drive, which was a good thing because when it comes to a computer, like sex, I can talk a lot better about it than actually do something.

And the thing is this. It is the work of a solitary person, a guy named Barry Kauler, who apparently did it in his spare time. And it is free.

Compare this with the offerings of a certain company based in Redmond, Washington, owned by a super geek whom I shall call, for fear of being assassinated, Gill Bates (who,by the way, is such a nasty that he reportedly gives his lieutenants a condition which, for reasons of delicacy, we shall call "Betty Swalls").

Their competing product costs some 12,000 rupees, occupies several gigabytes of space, crashes oftener than George Bush on a bicycle and works at a speed which makes road construction look exciting. So naturally, it is the most successful corporation in the world, makes obscene amounts of money and screws millions of people all over the world. To my mind, this is conclusive evidence that there is no god.

With this depressing thought in mind, my old pal Akhil and I paid homage to a nice little beverage from rural Scotland and ended up discussing the future of the world. Of the discussion itself I have scant recollection, so abstruse were the points considered, but we reached the conclusion that the problem with India is that the people of India are more fertile than the soil of India.

On Sunday, with an ice-pack tenderly balanced on the cranium, I surveyed my world with hesitation. We had been invited for a luncheon party which I tried to wriggle out of on health grounds. My wife however - and I strongly suspect she's related to Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple - possibly all three - saw through it in a flash. "Shave, bathe, dress and be in the car in ten minutes. I'm going to the stationery shop and I expect you to pick me up in"...... she looked at her watch.... "in twelve minutes". Who does she think she is, ordering me around like that! Anyway, I made it in eleven and a half.

The lunch turned out to be very nice. A few beers proved to be therapeutic and I was able to be the life of the party again. A restful snooze in the afternoon prepared me for the evening's program which was an exciting 5 hours in Mumbai traffic, in order to attend a Navjote ceremony of a Parsi friend's son. I love Parsis. Their quaint speech, their idiosyncrasies, their impeccable manners and their awesome food. I hogged up some 17 weeks of calories (I'm on a diet) so for the next four months I am going to be Swami Vayubhakshananda, he who lives on air alone.

And I still haven't watched Rab Ne... but the missus has given us an ultimatum. By Thursday or I watch her soaps daily for 2 months straight.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Watching the News at Vadodara Railway Station

I don't get to watch much TV, primarily because I don't carry enough weight in the protocol line-up. On the odd occasions that the TV does happen to be unoccupied, my mind is. Occupied, I mean. Not with much, of course, just the usual "what's it likely to be for the next meal? Broccoli or Lettuce?". Or I happen to spy Shilpa Shetty in one of her famous comic moods and drop off into a coma.

The upshot is that I get to watch virtually none of the excellent stuff that is shown on the various channels, particularly the DoorDarshan News.

I saw this channel for some 2 hours last night, waiting for a train at Vadodara railway station in Gujarat. Now these guys are seriously good, the DD News people. Pravda and the Xinhua could take their correspondence course.

The star draw was PratibhaPatil. Yes, that one. She was addressing a bunch of industrialists (I could tell from their pot-bellies) and the newscaster summarized her speech.
"Dr Pratibha Patil told the gathering that companies should increase their exports by 5 % per annum."
Cut to Nandan Nilekani, Vijay Mallya, Anand Mahindra, Kumarmanglam Birla and a few other captains of industry slapping their foreheads and muttering to themselves "THAT'S what's required! Now why didn't I think of it before".

Then they showed a clip of Hon. P. Chidambaram addressing the Houses of Parliament. " India is nowhere near recession", said His Excellency. And then, surprisingly, he asked Ashok Kumar Rathod to fill water in coach C-7 of the Jaipur Superfast Express. It might have been PA system, which erupted into loud speech every once in a while in the waiting room, but I wouldn't bet my ass on it.

Then a bunch of stockmarket specialists, looking very happy that they hadn't jumped of the balcony after all, were commenting on the latest Sensex rally. An expert was asked questions via satellite phone or whatever inter-galactic communication device they use because we heard the question clearly while the said expert, who kept nodding his head sagely and smiling the smile of the Buddha, didn't show signs of having heard a thing.

Then the anchor asked him "Rameshji, can you hear me?"

And Rameshji says "No".

I fell off my seat laughing, to the alarm of my co-passengers, who seemed to see nothing funny in all this and indeed, appeared to be calculating the possibility of this weird looking guy (me) being a nutcase.

Seriously, I'm enriched for life.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Rabba Rabba

The missus and her accomplices are planning to watch a movie "Rab ne bana di jodi" which I'm trying to weasel out of. There are several reasons.

First, the Gold Medal Winner of the World Histrionic Championship (Men), Shahrukh Khan will be on screen, laying it on as thickly as he can. Luckily, the Gold Medal Winner of the World Histrionic Championship (Women), namely Kajol, won't be there in the movie but I'm sure Shahrukh will more than make up for it.

Second, it's one of those Rab or Rabba movies which means it has dangerously high doses of Punjabi. This is standard for Yash Chopra's Yash Raj Films which have, as part of the standard package, Punjab ke khet, Karva Chauth and several tonnes of Rabba, spread more or less evenly through the 3.2 hours excluding songs. I personally don't have anything against Punjabi, a language like any other, but Yash Raj Films lays it on too thick for me. Indeed, it wouldn't be going too far to call it the Yashraj Rabba Factory (YRF), which has enough Rabba to be a world supplier of automobile tyres.

And finally, after watching a few non rabba films back to back over the last week or two, I've become a wimp. No stomach for the serious rabba stuff now, especially the chorus numbers where thirty people dance in a line while the hero and the heroine profess their
1. Love for each other
2. Hatred for each other
3. Sympathy for each other
4. Devotion to God
5. Solidarity with the oppressed proletariat.
6. Support for Barack Obama

Really. A big chorus and a 9x9 matrix of dancers in a field of "Sarson" is, to YashRaj's mind, not the best way of expressing any of the above, it is the ONLY way.

Of course, this is an incoherent rant. The disgruntled murmurs of one who has been robbed of a leisurely Sunday lunch with the customary beer ("because the show is at 1.00, you silly, we don't have time. Why don't you have yesterday's rice and Amul Dahi")

I asked her if "Rabba Rabba Rabba" could be pluralized as "Rabbi" (for instance, 'fungus fungus fungus' is 'fungi'). This potentially major contribution to linguistics got a big cold stare.

I ask you!

Update! In the end, I did not go. A concatenation of several circumstances, including the need to babysit an infant, offered me an escape route which I seized with an agility surprising in someone my age. Well, missus LOVED it! And she told me the plot, which was a bit hazy because of her laughing at all the FUN Shahrukh acting as she recounted it, but the summary is as follows.

Sharukh acts like Mr. Bean
He gets married to the heroine out of a sense of duty because her entire baraat died in an accident and her father was Sharukh's masterji. The fact that the heroine has great chest measurements might have entered into the equation, apart from chivalry of course, because somehow this stuff never seems to happen if the woman in question should look like Jabba the Hut.

The keystone of the plot is the ability of the heroine to completely fail to recognize her husband by the deletion of a mustache. I am not joking. This is the carefully crafted storyline of an entire corporation full of masterly film makers. I would have wept but I'm saving my tears for the day after tomorrow, because the missus has firmly decided that I HAVE to see it, along with her. Just the two of us. No ear plugs. And definitely no blindfold.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Melancholy tales

(Apologies to all and sundry for the abysmal quality of this post. Never at the forefront of the literary movement, this time this blog has plumbed depths not believed possible without decompression equipment. The complete explanation for this tomfoolery is that we have too much time and too little grey matter)

From time to time, on this little rustic blog of ours, we slip into the melancholy. We try to water it down, of course, but since we don't want wags to call it water melancholy, we keep it to ourselves. Today, we are going to tell you of the melancholy life of our friend, a retired general, in hospital for chronic and acute constipation. He spends his time reviewing enema positions, and wondering if we will make poor jokes about his condition, such as calling his tale smellancholy, but we will not.

He hates doctors. Flippant, arrogant, insensitive, boorish. In his day, he would have shot the lot of them. But now he has to be careful. The head surgeon is known to be incisive. Indeed, the interns call him Slash Gordon. When he is around, the general puts on his most cheerful face and announces that he is much better, and takes care to laugh at all his jokes. Though it sometimes backfires. Haha. Not that way. We mean when the Surgeoon cracked a joke and the General doubled up with laughter, saying "you're cutting me up". The Surgeon turned to the sister and asked her "Am I?", but fortunately Sister replied in the negative. Close call, nevertheless.

The visiting American specialists are even worse. The other day, one of them was taking rounds and the sister pointed out the general and summarized his condition. "The General is admitted for chronic and acute constipation", said Sister. And the American? He said "No shit!", and laughed his head off, as if it were a joke.

But some of the doctors were quite humane, though quite literal minded. A Physician doing the rounds palpated him and spoke most comfortingly. The general was touched and tears welled up in his eyes. "Are you alright?" asked the physician, alarmed. The general assured him he was. "I just got a lump in my throat", said he. The doctor turned to sister. "You told me it was at the other end".

The worst of them all was the doctor who told him "If there were more generals like you, we could have the Turd World War"

Stop Press! In breaking news today, Bajaj Auto announced that they would be combating the recession by offering a 50% discount on new autorickshaws to people who turned in their old ones. A company spokesman clarified that the old autorickshaws would have to be in roadworthy condition, and that wear-and-tear and mileage would be carefuly computed. As CEO Rahul Bajaj put it "We're taking some calculated ricks"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Living dangerously

It's a man thing, living dangerously is. Confronting death. Looking it in the eye, unfazed. Not flinching at the prospect.

Different people do it differently.

One J. Bond of London, England, for instance, likes to get his kicks by driving cars off cliffs and shooting people for one reason or another, and getting shot at in return. Spectacular, but too loud for my taste.

Middle aged MBAs, especially those of us from the more reputed institutes, prefer subtlety over pomp. Thus, my old mate Shrinath and I went on Tuesday afternoon to Highway Gomantak Restaurant in Bandra East, Mumbai and decimated some 17000 Kcalories each by way of fried fish. The waiters had realised the moment we started ordering that here was a duo not to be messed with. No one dared question us, or suggest a serving of lettuce and broccoli salad in lieu of the Jumbo Surmai Fried. The question might have trembled on some lips but the glint in our eyes made them avert their gaze and run for cover.

And flirting with death it definitely was. My triglycerides are discussed with bated breath at the monthly meetings of the Royal College of Physicians. And Shrinath's blood pressure has been the topic of more PhD theses than any human ailment including Bo Derek's Herpes.

But we thought nothing of it, nothing at all. And in a sterling example of how the tough never carry their tensions home, we both went home to our respective spouses and told them we were lunching on salads and soup.

I'm not crowing or bragging here, just trying to set an example to the young folk out there, a few of whom might have mistakenly logged on to this page. Fear nothing. That's all I'm telling you. Fear nothing.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pakistan has zero population

Now HERE'S breaking news for you!

In a path-breaking discovery today, Indian authorities realized that Pakistan has a population of zero.

"We asked them for 20 people to be handed over to us, who we believe are directly involved in planning and orchestrating terror attacks on India, but the Pakistan Authorities refused this on the grounds that they are not in Pakistan. They have refused to acknowledge the existence of another 300000 people whose names we had forwarded as a test case. The point is, going by statistical estimates, the only inference once can make is that no one lives in Pakistan", said a senior Indian government official, who requested anonymity because he feared he might lose his job. "The world might think we have lost our mind"

This reporter pointed out that the official census figure in 1998 was 132,352,279, including Dawood Ibrahim.

"Where did all these people disappear?", we asked.

The official admitted to being puzzled.

"We are as yet unable to form a firm conclusion but research indicates that they are either doing construction work in the Middle East or living as illegals in America. Except President Zardari, who is in America quite legally, giving interviews to Larry King.", he said

"What are we going to do about this?" asked our reporter, known for his very sharp questioning technique.

"We would love to bomb them flat, which they shouldn't mind especially since nobody lives there, but the Americans have told us to be patient.", he remarked

On being asked to clarify, he revealed that the Indian and US authorities had been having talks.

"It is not time yet", Condoleeza Rice has told our PM. "We will tell them not to do this again. They will never be able to disobey our commands."

The ill-informed Indian Public is a problem, however. They seem to have formed the opinion, one wonders how, that this had been said before and nothing has happened. They are baying for action.

Sometimes one wonders about the publics blatant disregard for diplomatic propriety

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A secret account of a secret meeting on security

We have eyes and ears every where, even though we may sometimes forget to zip up our fly. We have been snooping around, listening in on conversations, checking to see if the Powers That Be are running the country well. We are happy to report that they are. Sometimes, especially in moments of stress, they might become Powers That Pee, or even Powers That Flee, but that does not detract from their basic soundness and the firmness of their grasp on matters of National Importance.

Thus, when we got the opportunity to listen in on a top secret meeting on the vexatious issue of national security, we decided to write a secret account. This is for your eyes only. Burn your laptop after reading this.

First item on agenda:
Assault rifle to replace lathi of policeman.

The point was welcomed and accepted without debate as necessary and vital for the security of the realm. As the chair said, "Now that we know that assault rifles are more powerful than lathis, there is not a moment to lose"

Honorable Minister for Health made the invaluable point that for policemen suffering from hypertension, instead of assault rifle a low-salt rifle would be made available,. The suggestion was minuted on the instructions of the chair.

Honorable Minister for Law made the further invaluable point that proper training be given to security personnel in the use of the assault rifle, especially a caveat against carrying AA cells or even AAA cells for that matter, since the Hon. Minister recalled that Assault and Battery are punishable under CrPC and IPC. The chair noted the point appreciatively, and asked it to be minuted

Second item on agenda:
Issue of combat training to police force

This point too was welcomed and accepted without debate as necessary and vital for the security of the realm. This time the chair expressed amazement at the revelation that the police lacked combat training, remarking that "We think it is right they should be tight when they fight with all their might for then they would be outtasight" but the cabinet secretary asked this remark to be expunged as it might lead to speculation as to who exactly was tight.

Honorable Minister for Parliamentary affairs made the invaluable suggestion that it be made compulsory for serving policemen to attend parliament in session, to improve their unarmed combat skills. The suggestion was gratefully acknowledged by the chair and so incorporated.

Third item on agenda:

Sadly, before he could listen in on the third item, your correspondent was spotted, detected and thrown out of the meeting with the consent of the chair and pretty much all the other furniture, including the drapes, a candelabrum and two ceiling fans. But we're still hopeful. We still have both our ears to the ground though given the structure of our face, this involves burying our head, but duty is paramount. Stay tuned. We may not be Barkha Dutt but we try harder.

Monday, December 1, 2008

This Government has been De-Patilled for your safety

This Government has been De-patilled for your safety. On careful review and reflection, the Powers That Be have determined that the main reason for the horrific incidents of 26th November and the 60 hours that followed, have been several Patils.

Two of these, Shivraj (according to an intrepid investigative journalist, a mole for a Large Foreign Organization named Brylcreem) and R.R. (the nemesis of a major evil in this world, bar girls) have been unceremoniously asked to go by the Powers That Be, while the third, Pratibha, has been spared owing to the fact that as President, she has no decision making powers other than buying curtains for the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The Powers That Be have determined that now that the government has been De-patilled for your safety, life can go on as before. It is not necessary to upset established administrative procedure by implementing the many hare-brained suggestions coming out of the irresponsible blogosphere, such as making the police more independent, or upgrading their armory, their salaries and their accountability. The Powers That Be have better things to do with their time.

In other news, Barkha Dutt is being nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for coining the phrase "India's 9/11".