Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Touching Tale - 2

(Author's note. I know this is really low, but I am totally bored and I have no idea what to do with my time. And I seem to have run out of ideas. What is the difference between Naren and a lockjaw patient? One has a biter's lock. The other has writer's block)

I spent the evening in my friend Sudarshan's office.

Sudarshan is a hot shot entrepreneur, running a KPO and is razor sharp at decision making. One nice thing about Sudarshan is that he is very approachable.

So I wasn't surprised when a small mouse like girl came in and stood hemming and hawing

Sudarshan smilingly told her "Speak out, speak out, I'm not going to eat you".

I raised my eyebrow, old dirty mind me and got an angry frown in return from Sudarshan.

"Sir," squeaked the girl "my mother-in-law blah blah husbands cousin blah blah may I leave early today?"

"Done. You can leave at 5", said Sudarshan, smiling "and now get back to work."

She fled gratefully and we resumed our animated discussion on the state of the economy and the effect of the falling dollar on Sudarshan's bowel movements.

Soon another girl, foxier than the previous one, entered and brazenly asked for Friday off because she and her boyfriend were going out for the weekend and also wanted the company guest house in Lonavala which was available but Admin said need Sudarshan's ok.

Sudarhan thought for a moment and said, "Tell them to call me. I'll okay it. And you better be back on Monday!" She batted her eyelids, made a pout at Sudarshan and told him he was a sweetheart. As she left, Sudarshan made a grumpy face and said "All this work pressure and these people just want vacations. What am I to do?"

"You could have said no, couldn't you?" I asked

"I suppose I could, but sometimes you have to be careful about spoiling employee morale. Plus she's very efficient and she can handle everything I push at her. You have a dirty mind, Naren. That is not what I meant"

We had a cuppa and as I waited for Sudarshan to pack up, in came a smart young lad, one of their systems wizards, apparently.

"Boss, you'll have to give me a car", he said, in a whiny tone

Sudarshan raised his eyebrows.

"I don't like our agency's taxi service. Plus I NEED a cabin, boss, I need to command some respect. And that guy who makes the tea? He really needs to be sacked, he never gives me tea when I ask for it."

"Boss?" he enquired, for Sudarshan seemed strangely silent.

"Johnny," said Sudarshan, gritting his teeth, "you are not getting a single thing. If you don't like it around here, you can quit and you can quit now. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?"

Johnny slunk away without a word.

I didn't need to ask Sudarshan why he was so nasty to poor Johnny. I knew the reason. He had put all his begs in one ask-it

Monday, April 28, 2008

Touching tale

7 Jan 2013 - 

I posted this a long while ago, and left the main chap's name out of the anecdote, because I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Well, it can now be revealed that the chap was Asaram Bapu, he of the "call thy rapist 'brother' fame, and this anecdote was told me by a former devotee.

Last night, bored because I was alone, I roamed around the blogworld and left comments on people's website. This blogger gave a good account of how she falls for confidence tricks. I remembered an anecdote (what else) which I had found touching (touching the funny bone, that is) and I wrote it as a comment. Then I thought, what the hell, it is long enough to be a post. So here it is

You are in good company, I told her, commiserating with her on her propensity to be cheated. I will tell you the story of Sadhu A*****ji Bapu. Bapu, as he is fondly known to his devotees, is a major draw on the Aastha channel and Sanskaar channel and what not and his devotees flock to him everyday for spiritual guidance, dropping something into the offering plate - sometimes a few rupees, sometimes a couple of hundred.

One day a well dressed man came in and after prostrating himself, dropped in 25000. Bapu’s bushy eyebrows rose a bit, but he said nothing.

A couple of days later, the same gent walked in and dropped a big wad of currency notes. This time it was 50000. Bapu’s eyebrows went as far north as his hairline but he still refrained from comment.

When the man appeared next, a couple of days later, he dropped in a cool 100000. Bapu could contain his amazement no longer. Signaling his minions to invite this fine devotee to his inner chamber, Bapu went in.

“Son”, asked Bapu, “How is it that you make such generous contributions?”

“Oh what is there to say, Bapu? ” said the faithful devotee. “All this is by your grace. I used to invest in the stock market and with your blessings I have exceeded all expectations. I am able to double the money under my control within 6 months. I have many serious investors who trust me and my judgment implicitly, and with your blessings, I have made them extremely rich within a very short time. I charge ten percent of the profit as my fee, and this is enough for me.”

Bapu was moved. Such humility! Such sincerity! Such honesty! “Son”, he said “will you invest some of our funds?”

“Of course, Bapu, what is there to ask? I am but your humble devotee. I must mention though that one crore is the minimum”.

“I will give you two”. He signaled to the accounts swami and told him to get two crores of the crispest.

“I hope cash is acceptable” said Bapu. “We don’t believe in bank accounts too much.” Bapu smiled. “Or Tax audits”.

“For you, Bapu”, said the devotee, “I will do anything. Cash will be fine”

Tears came to Bapu’s eyes as he gazed at the departing devotee.

Well, Bapu is still looking for the guy.


I was sitting in a neighbour's factory last month with a bunch of other guys over the evening cutting-chai and the discussion turned to spiritual leaders and how they are usually hoaxes.

I narrated the anecdote I just told you and to my amazement, one of the chaps laughed so hard that he actually fell off his chair. We anxiously helped him to his feet and he seemed to have hurt his shoulder a bit but the thing was, the chap couldn't stop laughing. 

I knew, in a general sort of way, that the anecdote was humorous but I had no idea it was THAT hilarious.

Well it turned out that the reason for our chaps intense merriment was not so much my story-telling skills as the delight in finding out that the sufferer was Asaramji Bapu. It seems his wife is a follower of said Asaram and said Asaram preaches complete celibacy even in marriage, except for the purpose of procreation at which point, with the greatest reluctance, he permits the - how shall I put it - sword to be drawn from its scabbard. The chap has a child so I surmise he wasn't getting any, and rightly or wrongly, blamed said Asaram. 

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bored outta my skull

On a normal Sunday evening, you will find me, assuming you are interested in such unrewarding quests, ambling through some shopping mall or bargain basement sale, holding on to dear wife's hand, trying to keep up with her, looking around to find the kids in case they wander away and cursing silently under my breath about the crosses that a suburban husband and father has to bear, thanks to the invasion of all this Americana. In the good old days, we used to go to places like the Tata Textile Showroom and buy two meters of the baby pink for a salwar suit. And the choices were not all that many because we already had the electric green and the Rani color. But now? Even men's undies are available in 27 colors and 14 styles. Too much choice. But that is not my point. What is my point? Good question, even I'm not sure, what was it now? Ah yes, my point is that now that the brood is away in Mysore, I find myself strangely at a loss for thoughts. What does one do in Bombay on a Sunday evening alone and lonesome, that will not attract pity, ridicule or the attention of the lunacy commissioner?

I spent an idle hour polluting people's blogs with stupid comments, secure in the knowledge that they could not assault me physically, since no one knows I live in Malad west in Mumbai. I'm now trying to read a book called "Civilisation" by Kenneth Clarke which is erudite and absorbing but lacks what they call the sex interest.

Thus this post. The most pointless in a long series of pointless ones. I have been thinking about continuing my series on Matrimonitis with a little account of our first pregnancy, the subsequent delivery and the trials and tribulations therein, but somehow, I'm not in the mood

I think I'll infest some more blogs till i fall asleep.......

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Ok tagged me to write some random memories. I feel a bit silly doing this, so I'm going to be mostly pre-adolescence or, if post-adolescence, a bit selective. You see, this thing could so easily metamorphose from memories to mammaries, and one doesn't want that sort of thing, so I'm gonna be watching it like a hawk

1. My closest buddy was Raja, a year younger than me but several sizes larger and a difficult customer to overcome in disputes. Once, I was eight or nine, we had a difference of opinion and in order to resolve it in my favor, I dropped a watermelon on his head. The damage of course was entirely to the watermelon but it was one of the few times I've seen my mother really angry. I haven't dropped watermelons on anyone else's heads since(though I've come close).

2. When I was a kid, my dad used to have a Lambretta scooter on which we used to travel as a family. Dad driving, Mom sitting behind with sister, other sister yet unborn and me standing in the front holding the handlebars. I remember promising my dad that when I grew up, I would ride and HE would get to stand in front holding the handlebars.

3. We had gone to Kodai for a vacation - I must have been 12 or 13 - and for some reason, I got it into my head that it would be real cool to swim in the lake. Both my parents lovingly tried to convince me that the lake was dirty and moreover dangerous but I kept throwing tantrums like Shoaib Akhtar throws his deliveries. Fast and furious. Finally my dad got angry and started SULKING! It worked, however, and I gave up the thing, but sulking? My lads would have got a BIG earful from their mother and if for some reason, laryngitis perhaps, she couldn't deliver, I would have given my ship's fog-horn imitation. My parents are tooooo sweet.

4. I had my first drink when I was in the third semester of my engineering. It was before the fluid mechanics paper. I knew the whole thing thoroughly. Those days, I was one of the official "corpse carriers" on trips to the local bar an on the night before the FM paper, the lads dragged me along as usual. There a couple of guys decided to get me drunk. They ordered me a quarter bottle of vodka. Since I was prepared, I thought what the hell and finished it in two or three gulps, with a "haaaaa" after every gulp, just like in westerns. In approximately 20 minutes, I was feeding the earthworms and walking like the price movement of the Reliance Petroleum share. I woke up on the morrow feeling like I had a little nuclear reactor inside my head and I have no idea what I wrote in the paper. Luckily for me, the examiner seemed to have had a quart of vodka himself, because he gave me absurdly high marks. I've never figured that one out.

5. Finally, something of a "romantic" nature. I was set up with a girl, being friend of the girlfriend of a friend, for a date. We went for this movie "Tarzan" starring Hemant Birje and Kimi Katkar. She kept giving me all kinds of come-ons, nudging my hand, brushing my leg and so on, and I was petrified! I had no idea whatsoever as to what the proper reaction would be. I was terrified of being slapped and called "battameez" or whatever they call rapists in hindi. I huddled into the cocoon position and took the name of Ram. Apart from the name of the movie and the actors, I remember nothing of it. My friend was livid "What the HELL did you do to her, man? She refuses to even TALK about it!" And later when the truth came out, said friend gave disgusting amount of publicity to the matter. That was my last outing with any female not being wife, mother or sister.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Naren gets married - #5 He finally gets married

After the slight setback at the Mehndi ceremony, I decided to be on my best behavior. It had just occurred to me that the bride could still change her mind. The better kind of film actor can risk that sort of thing but considering that I looked like something from a collateral branch of the primate family, this was not safe at all. I took extra care with the grooming on the fateful day and entered the ring looking practically human. And when our eyes met, I noted with joy that Sheela's face showed approval.

In Konkani weddings like this one, a lot of the focus is on touching coconuts and sniffing dense smoke from a holy fire. In my childhood, I used to think that this was how babies were made - the incantations and the smoke went to God who sent babies, as per order. I was pleasantly surprised, upon reaching my teens, to discover that there were other and more interesting methods of furthering the human race. Consequently, I've always wondered why we have such elaborate marriage ceremonies. The officiating priest seemed to share my skepticism. He took off on his own in Sanskrit without pause, except for asking me, every now and then, to touch the coconuts, of which he had a wide selection. Neither of us really believed this was going to make my marriage a happier one, but he commanded and I complied unquestioningly.

Then, for a while, I decided to be a smart-ass and do some "class-participation" as they used to say in college. I kept asking all sort of technical questions to the priest who seemed none too happy about it. He gave me the look which said "If it were not for the dakshina, buddie, I would have told you where to stuff those questions" I was quite impervious to this - Bombay thick skin, no - but Sheela is not as easily ignored. She jabbed a sharp fingernail into the latissimus dorsi and gave me one of those "cheese it, buster" looks of hers. I decided it was best to resume the policy of unquestioning compliance.

By now, the proceedings which had started so earnestly had degenerated into a farce. It seemed to have dawned on people that as a baby making technology, this one was pretty out-dated. Miscellaneous relatives strolled on and off the dais and carried on inane conversations with us.

Auntie 1. "What father-in-law gave you? Ringa? Show, show. Small, no? (this to auntie no. 2)".

Sheela's glaring away at them. "That's the engagement ring. The wedding ring will be worn for the muhurta"

Priest "Say 'mumma'".

Me: "Mumma"

A quick word of explanation. "Mumma" is not "mother". It is Sanskrit for "me" or "mine". Required to be said from time to time when the priest says something important or clever. I think this is used in the sense of "Yeah! Me too!

As you can see, there was lot of action but little development, a bit like the Indian government. But eventually, things settled down and a mile long queue was formed, to wish us. We had to stand facing the cameras. My main garment was a dhoti which was holding up bravely against the forces of gravity but showed signs of collapsing. I was trying my best to hold it up with one hand but every third fogey demanded a feet touching which was making the whole thing a game-theory problem. Not that I was hiding any state secrets behind the fabric, but a sixth sense told me that if it dropped, I would not be hearing the last of it any time soon. Luckily it held and the attendees were spared the ordeal of having to see me dressed like a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Special Model.

Apart from the fact that the fixed grin was becoming tiresome, the wishing process was not without its moments of fun. I was receiving Mysore style wishes for the first time.
"Woppy married life"
"Gad bluss you"
"May you be blussed with happiness and other things"
And of course, the occasional "Many happy returns" cheered us most of all.

The proceedings started winding up. People started shuffling towards the exit. The missus and I sat on our thrones feeling a little exhausted. The missus had a dazed look as the realization that something irreversible had happened sunk in. I had a dazed expression myself as I realized that some 2000 people, possibly more, had put me under the keenest inspection. At this very moment, people must be discussing with other people. "Saw his face-a? Monkey only, no? Poor girl. What she saw in him, I say?" was the kind of thing I imagined people would be saying. The stomach churned and as we shuffled off towards the grand Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel to spend the night of April the seventeenth, nineteen ninety two, in idle conversation, I said to myself "Naren, some day you will blog about this and smile"

I hope you find something to smile at, too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Naren gets married - #4 A small intimate ceremony (contd)

Recap: My baraat has left, comprising of a bunch of 80 relatives who are having the time of their lives and the man of the moment, N. Shenoy, who is not. The train is speeding through the plains of the Deccan, hurtling towards Bangalore. Is it also hurtling towards disaster for your hero? Or will he make it to the sunlit uplands of peace and prosperity? Read on in this crashingly boring tale of Naren's marriage

A second class compartment of the Indian Railways is about smells. There are good smells, bad smells, interesting smells, boring smells and the Unique Smell of The Train. In the twenty four hours that it took to get to Bangalore, we had a fair sampling of all of them.

Among the good smells were the Karjat Batata Wada, the Lonavala Chikki, the Solapur biryani and the assorted fruits that kept drifting in. Among the bad ones were the loo (middle note poop with a strong finish of well matured urine and nuances of puke), hair oils, ittars and talcum powder, the last named applied in quantities that made them look like Kabuki actors, and the fartharmonic orchestra that went on thru the night. There were the odd interesting smells such as booze, emanating from someone getting sloshed via a laced Coke or Pepsi, and the boring ones, namely the omnipresent chai and cigarettes.

The Unique Smell of the Indian Railways is, well, unique. It smells, in equal measure, of rust, engine oil, "composite" leather (composite used here in the sense of "fake") and rat droppings. And a couple of notes my philistine nose was not able to pick up.

At nightfall, the biryani consumed and the fartharmonic orchestra in the second movement of Concerto for Gas in C Minor, I was left to my thoughts. The rhythmic clattering of the train over the railway tracks only depressed me. What kind of a girl will she be? Do I really know her at all? Will she drag me out shopping every weekend? Will she expect me to shave every day? She didn't seem to like my mustache. Will she make me shave it off? The questions that raced through my mind were extremely serious. (Sorry to spoil the suspense but the answers to all those questions except the first two are in the affirmative.)

As I kept vigil over the gas farm, the train hurtled on and, to cut a long story short, we reached Bangalore. There was a little welcoming committee comprising of a few minions and two large buses to carry our party to Mysore. There I realized I had been double crossed. This was no small intimate ceremony. This was the Great Russian Circus, and Karandash the clown was yours truly.

The relatives were enjoying it. The old pa-in-law to be had organized city tours, gastronomic feasts, entertainment programs, everything for them. I, of course, was earmarked for greater stuff. A middle aged gent was sent to beautify me. He took one look at me and disappeared for a couple of hours, doubtless to renegotiate the contract. He came back, however, with the tools of his trade and gave me a decent haircut, a shave, a facial (I know) and a head massage of such vigor that I feared for the old cervical vertebrae. After an hour or so of this, he pronounced me ready. I looked into the mirror and saw a chap that at least five anthropologists out of ten would have certified as human. Incredible!

A minion arrived into the room and obsequiously requested my presence at The House. We drove to chez Sheela and found a "mehndi" ceremony in progress. A bunch of ladies of various ages and sizes were having their palms painted with henna and there was much giggling and good humor. Most of the humor went over my head, of course.
"Ah! The groom has come" (lots of giggles).
"Ah! The groom has come from BOMBAY" (even more giggles).
"Ah! The groom has come from BOMBAY and he is going to sing us a SONG!" (so many giggles that I suspect some of them actually wet themselves).

Well, all my life I have been requested, nay commanded, to stop singing and here was a gaggle of females urging me to sing! I immediately belted out some morose medieval Hindi song and the hitherto ebullient women began to look like so many helium balloons from which the helium has escaped. I stopped eventually, of course, but the damage was done. The missus-to-be had a dazed expression on her face which said "this half was not told unto me" and an eerie silence fell upon the assembly which then started making feeble conversation about the weather.

The Mehndi Ceremony was officially over!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

For better or for verse

I'm pigeonholing the dreary marriage tale for these two gems someone sent me. I think I want to be a poet, mom!


I know him well, his name is Lang,
He has a 'lectric sign.
And since old Lang is VERY old,
We call it Old Lang's Sign.


A dreamy little poet
Sailed off to a south sea isle.
He met a girl named Laurie
Who smote him with her smile.

Often she would dance for him.
She was his closest pal
But no one ever told him
That she was a cannibal gal.

So one fine day she ate him -
A pity! But that's his fate.
How sad to be remembered
As the poet Laurie ate.

And while on the topic, here's something said to be from an old manuscript found in a barn in America.

Two pumpkins lay in yellow wood,
And sorry I could not harvest both
And one pie make, long I stood
And looked over one as best I could
To where it anchored in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was brassy and wanted air;
Though as for that the sunning there
Had ripened them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another pie!
Yet knowing how many pies end in the sty,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two pumpkins in a field stood, and I - -
I took the lesser for my pie,
And that has made all the difference.

Some feel this is a cheap imitation of the master's work, but most scholars agree that this is the real Frost on the Pumpkin!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Naren gets married - #4 A small intimate ceremony

Our courtship, truth be told, proceeded like the US-North Korea talks, me being North Korea. The US, in the form of Sheela, kept egging me to bring about broad based reforms in a wide range of areas such as table manners, dress sense, topics of conversation, getting rid of a Mickey Mouse watch that had been my constant companion through college, and ensuring that both socks came from the same pair. And like Kim jong-il, I kept insisting that my internal affairs were no concern of foreign imperialist powers but unlike the US, Sheela was extremely difficult to bullshit. She made me stop my delightful practice of eating with my mouth open, which was musically most interesting but did not pass the muster with Madam Good Manners.

Thus, it was clear that I was going to be dominated like a serf or indentured laborer. However, in view of the fact that my oppressor had the most beautiful eyes the color of emerald, and of course a crisp left hook, I shelved all thoughts of mutiny and focused on compliance.

I had one request, though. I wanted the quietest possible wedding. Something in the nature of mom, dad, spouse and ring in the presence of the marriage registrar. "Of course," Sheela's dad had said. "Absolutely no pomp and circumstance. We're planning to have just the bare traditional affair".

Unbeknownst to me, my parents marshaled an army of 80 assorted relatives to form the infantry and assembled them at the railway station. "Awful lot of people to see me off", I remarked to the mater. "That is our Baraat, my son", she said and a sinking feeling told me I had been double-crossed. Our train journey to Bangalore (en route to Mysore) from Bombay lasted 24 hours and for every minute of those I was ribbed by miscellaneous relatives who thought they were as hilarious as Conan O'Brien when they told me "Ready for marriage, ah? Ready? Ready?" with a big grin. Some varied the script a bit with "Prepared for marriage ah? Prepared? Prepared?" and fully expected me to blush prettily. I've never felt more like a moron (unless you count the time my grandmom pinched my cheeks and asked my mother if I still wet my bed. I was in the third year of my engineering then).

I'm taking the brood out to Bandra, the Rodeo Drive of Mumbai. Update when I get back. And if.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Naren gets married - #3 Courting disaster

In all great works of history (like this one, for instance) it is important to be impartial and tell you some bad things about the great one being historied, so that people know that the great one is for real.

You know, the main problem with, say, Akbar is that all his historians would go on about how wise he was, how fair, how brave, how kind and so on, causing skeptics to wonder if the guys who wrote those things weren't made to sit before a large chap with a sharp sword and irascible nature. If only those historians would have told us that Akbar used to wash his undies in the sink, or make loud noises while eating his Jodha Special Khichdi, one might have believed the hagiographies.

So, in this post, we shall recount a few shortcomings of our great hero, Naren. These were discovered during courtship.

The courtship started with phone calls. I started getting calls from Sheela which initially were

1. How are you?
2. How are your parents?
3. How are your sisters?
4. How is Bombay?

To which my replies were

1. Great
2. Great
3. Great
4. Great. How is Mysore?

Great, she would reply and I would go around town with a smug expression for being such a smooth talker where the fair sex was concerned. "Regular Casanova you are, my lad", I would say to myself, though not aloud as one did not wish to brag.

This, I later found out, wasn't quite the standard. I made a trip to Mysore where we went around the quaint little city with its broad avenues, stately homes, large royal people and places known as Iyengar messes which did an all you can eat for Rs.5/-

These things form a bond, as you'd readily appreciate, and Sheela and I started talking a little less formally. I still got electric shocks when her hand accidentally touched mine, but now they were the regular 440 V shocks, not the 12000 volt killers of the early days.

"Tell me something about yourself" she'd say and I would go

"Er, Well, I, well, you know, that is to say, I think Ayn Rand is a terrible writer". It speaks highly of young Sheela's character that she did not pick up a rock and bean me with it, though she came within an ace of it. Breeding will tell.

Eventually, I learnt that I was supposed to have qualitative opinions on things rather than quantized, deterministic responses. It was not cool to go to a store, see one shirt and buy it because it is your size, you can afford it and it does not have a frilly collar. Those are necessary conditions, but not sufficient. One had to see twenty seven of them, decide which one is better, which one is not too loud, too soft, too dull, too bright and so on.

But, dear reader, while I was nowhere in the top league as a shopper, I managed to perfect the art of talking to girls. Here is a primer

1. Never say yes or no.
2. Begin all your sentences with "I think"
3. Agree with everything she says.
4. Rephrase an opinion you have heard your fiancée utter and quote it back to her. She will think you are sound. For example

She: I think Madhu aunty is such a snob
You: Ithink, you know, I don't know if you agree with it, it is such an impulsive thing to say, but you know Madhu aunty? I think she's a snob.

And she will fold you in her arms, shutting her eyes, and thank God for giving her such a sensitive and SOUND fiancé.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Naren gets married - #2 "Seeing The Girl"

In the jolly little community that I belong to, it is customary to "see the girl" prior to getting married. This is actually an euphemism. You meet your prospective bride in the presence of so many senior citizens equipped with x-ray vision that about 90 percent of your attention is on what the hell have you missed? Is your fly open? Is that lassi you drank still on your mustache? Is your hair standing like quills on the fretful porpentine? WHAT? you want to scream.

You just sit however, sweating profusely, while the "girl" who seems to be equally nervous, serves you some piping hot tea from trembling hands. You're just wondering what the proper response is when she spills it onto your lap and scalds the family jools. Are you allowed to scream then? Probably not, you guess. Just a quick roll of the eyes and an "oh, its alright". You brace yourself for the shock but to your pleasant surprise the tea cup is safely in your hands and your gonads live to fight another day.

Then one of the more senior citizens - in our case, 'Utpal Dutt' - invites you to admire the view from the balcony. You stumble in the general direction, too scared to look back but knowing well that the "girl" is following, on instructions from the said senior citizens.

You stand on the edge of the balcony and watch the traffic snarl below. The "girl" is standing opposite you, gazing at the floor. Your heart thuds and makes the blood vessels in your brain throb. After a minute or two of this, you decide to be reckless and fire the first salvo



"I'm Narendra"


Two minutes silence in the memory of those who died for our country

"You live in Mysore?"

Yes, idiot, as everyone has been yakking about outside for the last fifteen minutes.

"Yes", she says.

"What is your opinion on arranged marriages?" What! What are you saying, berk?


Another two minutes silence, this time in the memory of all those who died in Hiroshima

"Anything you want to ask me?" Reckless is my middle name

"Which is your favorite color?"

What kind of dumb question is that? (I didn't know it at the time but this is precisely the kind of thing a woman will base a decision like marriage on.)





"Shall we go back in?"

"Ok. But what shall I tell my parents? Is it a yes or a no?"

I'm flabbergasted at the directness of this. My brain is whirring like a computer as is usual when presented with a "Yes-No" kind of question

"Yes. And you?"

I can almost hear her thinking you look like a monkey but where do I have any choice


As they say in legal circles, signed sealed and delivered.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How 50 Cent invested in the Stock Market and Became 25 Cent

In never before seen footage, rapper 50 cent tells us why he should be called 25 cent from now on

Monday, April 14, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things!

OK tagged me. He seems to be in trouble, poor chap. The police are after him, as are the jolly old chaps from the FBI and the CIA. In a bid to throw them off his trail, he has changed blogs and can be found lurking here, but don't tell anyone

1. Last movie you saw in a theater?
Let me see....what was the name...it left me brain dead for a while.....ah yes! "Race"

2. What book are you reading?
The Small Bachelor (PGWodehouse)

3. Favorite board game?

4. Favorite magazine?
Femina (This month on the cover "HOLIDAY SEX - For 10 days I had the best sex ever.."

5. Favorite smells?
An omelet cooking, the wife (anyone else too, for that matter) wearing Nina Ricci, rain on hot mud.

6. Favorite sounds?
Mom singing one of her Kannada Bhajans, younger son singing rap, elder son playing blues on the piano, missus calling out "Naren" angrily

7. Worst feeling in the world?
That roller coaster ride in Universal Studios. Forgot the name but not the sensation.

8. What is the first thing you think of when you wake up?
In the good ol' days it used to be "What's for breakfast?" Nowadays, "why the f*** do I have to go to the gym?"

9. Favorite fast food place?
Shankar Sandwich, opp Dalmia College, Malad West, Mumbai sixty four

10. Future child’s name?
Insurance Millionaire (wife would have killed me)

11. Finish this statement. “If I had lot of money I’d….?”
Keep a furry creature on my head and call myself Donald Trump

12. Do you drive fast?
Not unless I have to go to the bathroom.

13. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?
My wife does

14. Storms - cool or scary?

15. What was your first car?
Maruti Omni Van (Scalar once you press the brakes - magnitude, no direction)

16. Favorite drink?

17. Finish this statement, “If I had the time I would….”?
Trek thru the Himalays

18. Do you eat the stems on broccoli?
I do. Not out of choice, but I do.

19. If you could dye your hair any color, what would be your choice?
I'm at the age where the only answer is "black"

20. Name all the different cities/towns you’ve lived in?
Mumbai, Manipal

21. Favorite sports to watch?
Football, Badminton and, if the shapelies are playing, Tennis

22. One nice thing about the person who sent this to you?
OK? That old so and so? He can be quite witty

23. What’s under your bed?
Lots of dust

24. Would you like to be born as yourself again?
Prince Haroun of the Harem would be fine with me

25. Morning person, or night owl?

26. Over easy, or sunny side up?
Sunny Side Up

27. Favorite place to relax?
Our picture window

28. Favorite pie?
Lemon tart

29. Favorite ice cream flavor?

I tag The Drenched Dudeni, Cynic in Wonderland, Siri, BPSK, Rads

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Naren gets married - #1 Naren, the babe killer

Author's note: Though I narrate this story with the pomp of a Shakespeare presenting an immortal love tale, I must warn readers that this is the account of a regular arranged match which, while containing a few incidents which might make you smirk or even raise your eyebrows, is not the stuff that ballads are made of.

My aunt was down in Bombay on vacation, and conferring on weighty topics with Mom in the kitchen. The wonderful fragrances emerging therefrom had magically dragged my feet and I was quite surprised to find myself between the grinder and the fridge, trying to sample the okra and bamboo shoot "huggi", a concoction spicy enough to make Genghis Khan cry, yet as alluring as a nymph.

"Thinks only about food all day. Nirmala, you should start looking for a girl for him." my aunt said, in a sharp tone.

"I know I should, but he keeps saying he wants to settle down first." Mom

"I think he must have been snared by someone already." said the aunt, in an even sharper tone.

A footnote is in order here. The whole world agrees, and here Shias bury their differences with Sunnis and Tibetans with the Chinese to accord this question unanimously their answer in the affirmative, that N. Shenoy has the sex appeal of a cat who has been dining in a trash can. But if you asked my mom or my aunt then (or even now, for that matter) they would have unhesitatingly told you that I am the most desirable boy in this hemisphere.

"Our Naren is such a charming boy, I am always worried..." my mom and aunt would both go. Their worry of course being that some Jezebel would bring me down in a sort of football tackle, put a burlap bag over my head, present me in that condition before a priest and hold a gun to my head till I said yes to matrimony. An ever present danger of course, for H. Roshan or one of the S. Khans, but my general looks and personality made the possibility extremely remote. Try explaining that to mom and my aunt, though.

My apologies for going on a bit in this vein. You see, one of my pet peeves with the creator is this strange parsimony on his part when it came to distributing good looks and it was my turn in the queue. He will have to think of some very good answers when I eventually pass the veil and line up a meeting with him. Hmmm. Morbid thoughts, and fruitless. Let us pigeonhole them for the moment and get on with the tale.

The mom and aunt therefore came up with a deeply thought up strategy to mold my thinking, namely "lets nag the hell out of him". My every waking hour, in accordance with this strategy, was to be filled with subtle and not so subtle hints that I should get married and to utilize all kinds of moral suasion. I was told that I was growing old and that soon, no girls would be available for marriage (I was 25 at the time). I was told that my horoscope was "weak" and that unless I found one with an even "weaker" horoscope, she would dominate me completely, which made my choices even slimmer. "And look at Hareesh (our neighbor's nephew) who is three months younger than you but has a kid already". "Oh shut up! Whatever am I going to do"? This last because of my wisecrack that I was willing to have kids myself, it was marriage I was objecting to. My mom, who takes statements most literally, is a great target for this kind of tomfoolery. My younger son now torments her in this fashion.

Eventually, however, the strategy succeeded and I agreed to get married. I was getting a bit worried myself and I had too realistic an idea of my personal charm and sex appeal to dream of going out into the wide world and winning myself a bride. "Bring on the girls!" I told the old mater bravely and reclined in the high backed chair to receive the list of young sylphs dying to fling themselves on me. To my great horror, not only were there none, there were no arrivals in several months thereafter.
Eventually, a few hardy souls turned up and asked for copies of my horoscope, only to report that they were not matching.

Then one day the bell rang and as luck would have it I opened the door to find a tall, impeccably dressed and stern looking gentleman accompanied by an affable old man who reminded me of the actor Utpal Dutt. I was in some really pathetic state with my hair standing on end like quills on the fretful porpentine and clothes which made me look like I had mugged the actor Govinda.

I invited them in and offered them water, tea and miscellaneous fried stuff, as trained by mom and hope she came back from whatever spiritual meeting she had gone to. For these people had the unmistakable stamp of matrimonial proposers on them. No gentlemen this dignified had ever bothered to even look at me before (or after, for that) and here were these practically royal looking gents being actually polite and deferential to me. I chatted on about this and that - the Indian stock market and the Indian political situation were my great favorites back then - and they hung upon my every word like I was Confucius and they a couple of Chinese novices.

Soon, the mystery was solved. The tall distinguished gent was my future father-in-law and the affable gent his brother in law who, being based in Bombay, was piloting the ship. They had a daughter, future C-in-C of ship Shenoy, who had a "weak" horoscope herself and needed to find one equally weak, lest she be eaten up.

My mother was delighted and after a quick check with the astrologers, waved the green flag. And before I knew it, mom and dad were solemnly telling me to wear a clean shirt and lug my ass to Utpal Dutt's house. We were going to See the Girl!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I've been tagged by OK to write about my crushes. Tough one.

My relationship with the opposite sex has been so platonic that I could make Pope John Paul Two look like a love rat. Not because of any lack of intent. Far from it, in fact. My personality is such. But I wont whine, no siree, we shall make this a nice little autobiographical account by counting as crushes even the slight stirrings I have felt.

Number one - H, 10th grade class mate. Modelled closely on the lines of an ironing board, H was crushed upon because of her fair skin and light eyes. My little crush was finished when I undertook to explain to her a sonnet (Shakespeare's Let me not to the marriage of true minds....) because of the impervious nature of her skull, which appeared to have been made of the finest ivory. There is a line in that poem "the star to every wandering bark" where "bark" means boat. H knew of only one meaning for that word, namely woof woof, refusing to accept that there could be any other, including outer covering of tree.

Number two - R.V., French teacher in a basic French course I joined when I got my first job. I joined the course because I thought that French was the international language of love. It is no such thing. Plus I thought there would be girls! Females! Women! Babes! Chicks! Actually there were 14 of the gender F, 7 of whom were over 60 and the rest under 13. R.V. was the only one who was what they call "mature reproductive female" in biological circles. Said female however showed no inclination to reproduce with anyone, leave alone with a bucktoothed, pot-bellied, bespectacled and humbly employed engineer with a tendency to laugh uncontrollably at his own jokes. So that was that.

Number three - A.R., colleague at work who had extremely mountainous terrain between the 30th and 40th parallel and hence a huge fan following, including me. I was by then a suave and smooth talker and I actually took her out for a cup of coffee to the nearby Kamat's restaurant. Two coffees, I replied to the waiter's surly "Han, Kya mangta hai?" and A. R. said no, just one coffee, I'll have fresh lime soda salted. Then she explained in great detail what happened to her when she had coffee, how it affected her motions, what color they would turn, how they would smell.... leaving out no detail in her endeavour to increase my knowledge of her quirky medical problems, presumably to enable me to write a knowledgeable biography, when the time came.

Number four - Madam Sheela, who is to this day the apple of my eye and the tree on which hangs the fruit of my life, my boss, saviour and generalissimo. In connection with which I HAVE to tell you guys the story of how we met and got married, both the authentic one and the jazzed up one I have for public consumption. Will need another post.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Jeeves and the Idiot Box - #2

"The city of Mumbai is known for its night clubs and fine dining, sir", said Jeeves. "Perhaps you would like to visit some of them."

"Sounds like a topping idea!" I replied. "Bring on the gentleman's raiment and let us make merry."

And thus did I find myself at a prominent night club which, for reasons of legal prudence, I shall leave unnamed.

As far as the eye could see, there was a sea of wriggling humanity packed like so many sardines and dancing in the manner of felines who have accidentally found themselves deposited on hot tin roofs (or is it rooves? Must ask Jeeves).

I had had the foresight to reach early and occupy a vantage point, for otherwise, Bertram Wilberforce Wooster would surely have been known to posterity as Bertram Wilberforce Wooster The Flattened, such was the chaos on the floor. And the rum thing was everyone seemed to be enjoying it immensely.

The music too was a bit mystifying. It might have been named "Concerto for Pneumatic Hammer in C-Minor", for all its tonal qualities, but the attendees welcomed it in the manner of the rats welcoming the Pied Pipers flute number. Moreover, I had every reason to believe that, like me, they were paying through their respective noses for this pleasure.

I spent the evening sucking up some potent strawberry martinis and before long, felt an overpowering desire for quiet repose. I staggered outside and got the doorman, who looked like he was the Maharajah of Patiala, with twirled mustaches you could hang hats on, to find me a cab.

"Jeeves," I said, after I had been brought back to life by one of his excellent pick me ups, "this is not the life for us. I must find something more sedate to amuse me of an idle evening".

"Perhaps we might purchase a television set, sir," he said. "I have heard that the Indian soap operas are most entertaining".

And on the morrow, I found a large carton with an enthusiastic gentleman attached, ringing the door bell. Jeeves having stepped out for something, I opened the door and got it installed. And here's the thing. No matter which channel one tuned to, one found a stout actress of uncertain age answering to the name of Smriti Irani, gritting her teeth and looking like she was about to explode.

Switching off the device, I stepped out for a spot of lunch and when I returned what should I find but Jeeves glued to the television, a Hindi-English dictionary in hand, staring at the aforementioned stout lady like Hillary Clinton eying a super delegate. The man was hooked.

Well, what does add to such a tragic tale? We are now in the process of receiving advanced instruction in the nuances of the Hindi language and all our waking hours are spent in either watching or talking about the said soap operas. Jeeves has built a large network of informed sources who tell him what happened, what is happening and what will be happening soon, on "Mere Apne" and "Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi bahu thi". I fear for my sanity after spying a respectable looking middle aged gentleman (one N. Shenoy, of Malad west, for the record) walking down the street pulling out his hair and muttering silently to himself. It is said that he watched three soaps back to back.

(Author's note - I know, I know, this is the rottenest story you ever read, but I watched three soaps back to back, as you have noted, and I think I am more to be pitied than censured)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Jeeves and the Idiot Box

"They say the world is flat, sir", said Jeeves, as I sipped the old Brandy and S. This remark was in response to my question as to where we should spend the winter. The rising euro had knocked a hole into the Wooster finances which, in a fit of misplaced enthusiasm I had transfered into dollars and while one wasn't exactly passing the hat around, one balked at spending the usual month on the Riviera. Dollars! It is still possible to tell the United States from one of the more broad minded South American Republics, but only just.

"I say, isn't it a bit rash to make statements like that? I mean, we went to Aspen last year and it looked anything but flat."

"The author Friedman spoke in a figurative sense, sir. He referred to the phenomenon of technological developments having obliterated geopolitical differentiation.

Perfectly true, no doubt, but not something to spring on a weak minded lad without warning. The old bean throbbed around the temples. "In words of one syllable please, Jeeves", I pleaded

"Mumbai would be as good a destination as Cannes, sir. I propose we go there for our winter holiday."

And so I landed up at the bustling metropolis of Mumbai. A cursory survey of the hotels told us that it would be substantially more expensive to stay in one of them than in the Waldorf Astoria. We decided to rent a flat. It turned out to be a nice place, if a little cramped. The broker had told us that the flat was a thousand square feet. This one looked smaller than the kennel at Aunt Dahlia's place.

"My word! The bounder has cheated us!" I remarked to Jeeves.

"No sir. The figure of one thousand square feet refers to the super built area of this flat".

"The how much?" I was intrigued.

"An imaginary figure sir. Apparently it is the practice among Indian real estate professionals to hike the area by an arbitrary percentage while computing it's price."

Very sensible, I thought, and said as much to Jeeves. Even a less than average mathematician like me could see how it might lead to higher profits for the seller.

"But perhaps not entirely straightforward, sir", said Jeeves, adding that the community of real estate professionals was indeed fortunate to have been permitted the use of this subterfuge by the powers that be.

"Let us pigeonhole this discussion for the nonce, Jeeves", I said, as I could see us entering deep waters. "What does one do in this town for entertainment?" .... (to be continued)

Friday, April 4, 2008

Autobiographical Stuff

I read a blog, the NITK Numbskull's page which chronicled that blogger's tribulations because of a highly defective memory. I immediately remembered an anecdote.

Now a word about my pathological need for chipping in with anecdotes. No doubt due to some grim incident in my childhood now residing only in the subconscious, I feel compelled, every now and then, to narrate an incident from my past which highlights the point I have been listening to. It is usually boring, often pointless and almost always jazzed up. After I've said it or posted it, I feel like an ass, but the next minute I'm ready with another one. And occasionally someone will recount that anecdote to me after several years and I have to use considerable histrionic talent to conceal my bewilderment. If we had a family escutcheon the motto would be "Naren, shut up".

So I'm going to give it up for ever and ever and ever. Just one last one, please, pretty please, I'll never do it again, whine, whine, whine. Ok? Oh thank you, thank you....

The story I'm about to narrate happened way back in the 80s when, a slender lad of some 18 summers, I had managed to acquire a driving license. The old pater familias issued a stern ban on any kind of charioteering save for the purpose of extracting the pride of our possession, Premier Padmini 82 model, from the parking slot onto the lane outside. But I have a sweet and obliging mom and I would wangle permission to take it out for spins in the afternoon when my dad, a doctor, had his siesta.

One day I took it to the market near the railway station, to drop a "friend" (no, ain't confessing nothin) and stood chatting with her. Eventually she hopped on to a train and I turned back. And what should drive up just then but a BEST bus, life line of Mumbai which, for the trifling sum of 50 paise would drop me home. I hopped in, reached home and got down to life in general. Soon it was time for dad to go to his clinic and, finding the key on the key rack where I had absentmindedly deposited it, went out to find his balance sheet shy of one item namely Car, sparingly used.

It was stolen, surely! A quick search of the neighborhood, with me leading from the front, revealed no trace of it and we decided to report it to the police station. On our way there, we found our car nicely parked and free of all injuries and evidence of mishandling. I was there, of course. I got an earful. The old dad is by way of being a Gandhian so there was no abuse or violence, but the general tone of his voice (God, what did I do to deserve this) was punishment enough. And the worst punishment of all was the enthusiasm with which this anecdote was recounted by aunt to aunt and from cousin to uncle, with a great deal of delight in the fact that Naren had finally flipped it.

There. My last anecdote for the foreseable future. I shall only talk about the state of the economy, or social issues far removed from any possible anecdotes.

The market is down 500 points. Reminds me of the time I......

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Vyaas and Gautham elucidate some fine points in the esoteric field of advertising


Good evening viewers. Let me introduce the experts Mr. Vyaas and Mr. Gautam. Mr Vyaas and Mr. Gautham are both graduates of the Indian Institute of Management …

V – Er.. It is now known as the Indian Institute of Small abilities and Big Pay Packets.

I – Really? I hadn't heard….

G– It's the great move towards honesty and fairplay in business. We believe that the names of organizations must reflect what they really stand for.

V- That is why the Indian Government is asking Microsoft to call it self "Bug Factory". Ha Ha Ha.

I – Alright, then, lets get to our first question. What is the importance of advertising?

G – Presenting a product properly to the consumer is of vital importance. For example, if an unqualified person, such as someone who is not a graduate of the Indian Institute of Small Abilities and Big Pay Packets were asked to sell soap he would go......

V – Buy my soap! Buy my soap! Buy my soap!

G – Whereas the trained professional would do something like this
La, la la la la , la la la la laaaaa, la la la, Buy my soap.

V- But when it comes to serious advertising, it becomes more er... more… er….

I – Serious?

V – Exactly!

I – Can you give an example?

V- Advertising life insurance products is the classic example. Our target demographic is the person who is too lazy to set fire to his own money and decides to give it to the Insurance company instead.

G – The ad would go something like this… Mera abhimaan Mera vishwas, Mera Pyaar, Mera Zameer………Monkey business Life insurance ke vaje se....

V –GobbledegookGobbledegookGobbledegookGobbledegook

I – What did you just say?

G- He said the standard disclaimer "IF YOU PUT MONEY INTO THIS SCHEME, YOU'RE AN IDIOT AND YOU LOSE ALL RIGHT TO SEE IT AGAIN". You have to say it fast, for legal purposes.

I – So what do you think is the future of advertising?

G – I think it has great potential. There are so many ignorant and foolish people….

I – You mean, in the world of advertising

V- I think he means in the world of Consumers. Ha Ha Ha