Sunday, July 31, 2011

The week that was

(Disclaimer - highly random post follows)

"Sigh", I sighed.

I find myself sighing a lot these days. Life, for some unfathomable reason, seems to have become so complicated. I am forever forgetting something or the other. Our watchman, who revels in being the harbinger of bad news, (had I been a medieval Mughal emperor he would long have been beheaded) had just called through to tell me I had a flat tyre. And I just realised I had given my spare tyre for fixing and forgotten to collect it.

"Sigh" I sighed again.

The missus, who was sitting on the sofa and reading her paper, chuckled.

"I am glad that you are able to derive mirth from my despondent demeanour" I said to her in my sourest voice, meaning it to sting.

"No, my sweet, I just remembered something the boys said"

"Why, what did they come up  with now?" I asked her. I realized too late that I didnt want to know

"The younger one calls you Sigh Baba."

"Sai Baba?"

"No, Sigh Baba. Because you keep sighing all the time. Haha! Isn't that droll?"

It was the saddest joke I had heard from a source specializing in sad jokes but I kept mum. I had just remembered I had a certain confession to make and I needed lots, LOTS of good humour at this moment. I would have sighed again but I resisted the urge.

 The problem was that I had answered our home phone on that fateful day. I normally don't, because the callers are usually random aunts who can speak for hours and ask uncomfortable personal questions when you least expect them to, and who want to speak to the missus anyway, but she was busy doing something in the kitchen and the phone kept ringing despite my best efforts to stare at it and make it stop.

"Pick up the phone, for gods sake!" she yelled from inside and I found myself talking to an uncle by marriage who told me a very complicated story about why he was in Bombay and embedded a "we're coming to your place on Friday" somewhere in it.

The missus normally debriefs me when I do something critical like answering the phone  but that day there was a temperature related chemical composition change in the carbohydrate structure of the rice she was cooking and it took me many stressful minutes to pacify her. Finally, we decided to tell the boys we were having Smoked Rice Burmese Style for dinner, which, and this is why I adore children and their unquestioning innocence, they accepted without a murmur.

The upshot of all this was, as you guessed, I forgot to tell her that her uncle and his entire family were coming for dinner on Friday, which in a jolly little coincidence happened to be tonight.

"We have a few guests coming over for dinner....I forgot to tell you"

"WHAT! When?" asked the missus


"TONIGHT! And you're sighing instead of telling me! Are you out of your mind? What are we going to serve them? Oats?"

"I don't see why not, if that is what I have to eat" I didn't say that of course. I just sort of stared at my toes.


"I beg your pardon?"

"Who is coming?"

I told her. She appeared visibly relieved, said uncle being one of her jollier ones and the moment passed.

I further improved my standing by helping out in the kitchen. The missus makes a nice pudding which involves emptying one tin of Milkmaid condensed milk into two glasses of milk. I did this crucial step without so much as pilfering a spoonful of the condensed milk,excepting a little bit, to ensure the Milkmaid hadn't gone bad - and stirred it so competently that the pudding turned out delicious.

"I've heard you write a humour blog" said the uncle. Tell us a joke"

"Yes, yes, tell a joke" said the aunt.

Well, the uncle is an avid golfer so I told them the one about the lady golfer who complained to the greens committee that there were too many bees on the course and she had just been stung by  one.

"Where were you stung, madam" asked the secretary of the greens committee

"Between the first and the second hole" answered the lady whereupn the secretary said "Ah! A difficult place to treat".

It fell flat. The uncle just sort of harrumphed and the aunt looked intently at the chair.

Well, that's that. My week that was. Hope y'all had a better.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I wrote this meaning to post it on google plus, it being private and all, and ironically, it kept disappearing from google plus. After what-the-effing exasperatedly for a while, I decided to have my revenge by posting it on the blog after all. Here goes

I'm quite enamored with this Google Plus thing. I had more or less stopped blogging because, well, I write autobiographical stuff and you cant really write autobiographical stuff without, well, being autobiographical.

What I mean is, I'm terrified of accidentally revealing stuff to the missus, or to her spies, stuff that we, the boys and I, take great pains to keep under wraps for all kinds of deep strategic reasons.

For instance, this evening, the lads told me a joke.

"Annie, Annie, you want to hear a joke?" one of them asked

"No thanks", I replied. I have learned it is better not to listen to these guys' jokes.

"Ok Annie, here it is", he continued, as if I hadn't said a word.

"I said I didn't want to hear it. I'm busy."

"Annie, why is a wonder-bra called a wonder-bra?"


"Why is a wonder bra called a wonder bra?"

"Ok I heard it the first time. My 'What!' was an expression of incredulity that two Indian teenagers could actually contemplate telling jokes about wonder bras to their father. Its against Indian Culture."

"Annie, should it be 'Wonder bras' or 'Wonders bra' ?"

I stared at him incredulously some more.

"You know, you were explaining the other day how it should be Brothers in Law and not Brother in laws."

'Er, Wonder bras is correct", I replied, hoping that that would be that.

"Annie, so answer the question"

"I just did"

"No, the earlier one."

'What earlier one?"

"Annie, it is 'Which earlier one', not 'What earlier one'. Why are wonder bras called wonder bras?"

I gave up.

"Ok, you tell me"

"Because when she takes them off, you wonder where the tits went"

I stared at the lad.

"Where did you learn words like that?"

"Wonder bra? Heard it on TV I think. Don't remember"

"No, the other word"

'Which other word"

"Tits" I whispered.

And the missus of course chose that exact moment to enter the room. A bit like those farcical plays. Except that this is real life and I am likely to get my ears seared with some sharp rebukes.

" What this about tits?" she asked, using the sharp voice that is the harbinger of sharper things.

I gulped. A sort of darkness was beginning to envelop me. But the younger son came to rescue.

"Annie was telling us about the white-naped tit and why its population is declining rapidly. It used to be endemic to India"

"Er, exactly. Ok boys, time to learn some mathematics. Where is the calculus text?"

And the moment passed. A moment best treasured in silence, as you would doubtless agree.

And yet, I have this crazy urge to tell someone. Which is why I like Google+ because hopefully no one will tell the missus.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My prescription for better security for the people - Worse security for the leaders

This is mostly a rant provoked by yesterday's dastardly bomb explosions in Mumbai and the general reactions that followed them.

In general, I thought the response by the citizenry was touching. People from all walks of life extended helping hands without a second thought. Typical Mumbai.

But the news networks made a pig's breakfast out the thing. They tried their level best to make it look like an enormous terror attack, and could hardly conceal their disappointment when it turned out it wasn't. Which, as Greatbong pointed out in his excellent post, is exactly what terrorists want. They would love to see their handiwork as something which has put life completely out of whack for Mumbaiites.

But a point like that is too subtle to cross the bone-brain barrier of the TV anchors and they went hammer at tongs at it. Somewhere along the way, someone seems to have figured out that no one was watching anymore.

So for the last 24 hours or so, the TV networks have been trying to mobilize anger. All day I've been watching TV off and on, only to find some citizen bubbling over with rage.

One guy I just saw, which prompted me to write this post, went on about how horrible the politicians were and how weak the system was, and how late ambulances arrived and about fifty other grievances which it occurred to me is exactly what the politicians want to hear. All true, of course, but completely non specific grievances. The more the merrier, you can almost hear them saying to each other. So everyone lets off their spleen against some nameless politicians, the anchors yell a bit more and within a day or two, things are back to normal.

But it just occurred to me, and I may be wrong here because I'm a doofus who is usually wrong about things, that the way to hit them, the politicians that is, would be to kick them in the nuts.

Not literally of course. To the best of my knowledge, elected representatives do not come equipped with testicles. I mean figuratively, in the sense that we should do something that would hurt them badly.

So what does Narendra Shenoy suggest? What? Eh? What? What?

Well, here's my idea. Not much of an idea but based on my fervent wish when stuck behind some idiot in the traffic who stops his car on a narrow road to buy a paan or cigarette unmindful about all the cars bunched up behind him and honking. And why is he unmindful of the honking? Glad you asked. That's because the honking is random. You know what I wish we could do? Go everyone honks at the same time. You can bet your panty knickers he will jump out of his Govinda suit, giving you some well deserved mirth and possibly reforming his character.

But we don't do anything like that. We honk a few times, wait till the moron has finished, and shuffle along cursing silently.

This is exactly what the citizenry is doing at the moment of going to press. Making random honking sounds but waiting patiently to shuffle along behind the powers that be.

So, what is Narendra Shenoy's solution, you ask again. Well, it is this. I say take away THEIR security. Why should they get super efficient protection when you and I can be bumped off by any moron with access to some explosive and a cellphone?

With the exception of a few guys - the PM perhaps, the Home Minister, CMs of the states, but certainly not the animal husbandry minister or the minister for civil aviation, EVERYONE's security should be completely withdrawn.

I'm not heartless of course. We should give them a good-luck talisman. Perhaps a nazar suraksha kavach. And I'd definitely support the payment by the state of premium for a 1 crore pure risk LIC policy in favour of the elected representative's dependents.

And the thing is, and this is my grand theory, THEN we will see a dramatic improvement in the general security. Suddenly, police will start finding terrorists BEFORE terror attacks happen. Because if they don't their bosses are probably frontline targets.

Well, that's it. My big brain wave. Not much, I know, but I do believe that if all the angry citizens on TV ask for only one thing, the immediate removal of security for all but three elected representatives, things might just change. But like the honking story, it has to be done at the same time by everyone if it has to work. No nonsense about "we should have more checkpoints" or "we should have better intelligence networks". All those will come automatically. Just ask for complete withdrawal of all security for all but 3 elected representatives in each state, and 3 at the center. What's it going to cost you anyway?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Down Memory Lane

Today, dear reader, I invite you to take a walk with me Down Memory Lane.

It must have occured to you, since you are the brighter sort of person, that 'Down Memory Lane' might be code for 'long boring yarn about the past from chap unable to find anything interesting in his current life'.

You would be right. Nothing of any interest has been happening to me these past weeks. The boys, now in their 10th and 12th, are glued to their books most of the time. They go to coaching classes too, which suck out whatever little free time they have left and the missus and I are usually to be found in the living room, holding hands or arguing about what to have for breakfast, or both.

And we take walks Down Memory Lane.

Life was fun when the kids were little. Their innocence. Their pranks. Their fights.

"Remember the time you guys went on a tiger safari?" asked the missus.

How could I forget it! We had gone to the Mudumalai forests near Mysore, where some species of forest lodge had been hired. It had a truly gifted cook, one Mani, who made the best 'kozhambu' (as I believe it is called) I have ever had and I would have been content to spend the weekend sampling his ouevre. But the powers that be, namely the missus, decided that we must go into the forest.

I was a bit reluctant because just the night before, I had gone with a few of her cousins into the forest. This was at 4 am and the idea was to see a tiger. The chaps who took us reasoned that tigers, subscribing to the old maxim that early risers get worms, good health and wisdom, would be about in droves and we would naturally get to see them doing whatever they do at 4 am.

All that happened was that I got bitten in many places by many different insects and for about 10 minutes, when I couldn't see anyone around in the pitch darkness, experienced sheer terror. Thankfully, the tigers were conspicuous by their absence.

But the missus wouldnt hear of not going. "You have to take the boys and get them to experience the thrill of wilderness"

'YOU have to take the boys? Why, aren't you coming?"

'Turned out that she liked the kozhambu too. "No, I'm worried about my spondylitis" The missus has a convenient spondylitis for occasions such as these.

Anyway, we hired a jeep and took a bumpy drive into the forest. All that we got to see for many a mile were deer, which are like the autorickshaws of the forest. They are found everywhere and run away the moment you approach them. The boys got bored and about 15 minutes into our safari, were fast asleep on my shoulder. Suddenly, the driver braked hard and excitedly pointed to a clump of shrubs. For a fleeting moment, I saw a leopard which, like most intelligent people do upon percieving that they are about to be inflicted with the company of Shri Narendra Shenoy, lit out of the place instanter. I woke up the boys "Look boys, leopard!" I hissed.

There was a bit of what-where-whoing on the part of the lads and by the time they could get their bearings, the critter had vanished into the woods. The boys went right back to sleep.

We saw a couple of peacocks, one of which was doing it's dance, and a HUGE bison, but the lads were not interested.

An hour or so later, we returned to our lodge. Mani had organized some river fish and was grilling them on an open fire. I forgot about my aches and rushed into the middle of the action. Missus had convinced Mani to roast some sweet potatoes and masalafied tomatoes, which were excellent.

We sat around a fire and got the kids to sing and dance. I was regaling the grown-ups with tales of my safari.

"We saw a leopard"

'Get out! What luck! Leopards are really hard to find. Are you sure it was a leopard and not some deer?"

"Of course we saw a leopard. Here, ask Gautham. Gautham, did we or did we not spot a leopard this evening?"

"No, Annie"

'What! Oh of course, he was sleeping. He wouldn't know"

'What about Vyaas?"

'Oh, he was sleeping too"

I could see the growing scepticism in their faces.

"Hmm", said the missus, "nice story."

"No really, we did see a leopard. Gau, you did see it's tail, didn't you?"

"Yes,amma, we did"

"Then why did you say you didn't?"

"I didn't say I didn't"

"You did"


I felt the temples throbbing.

The older one piped up. "Annie, you asked us if we spotted the leopard"


"We didnt spot it. It was spotted from before"


"Hahaha" said the missus."Run along, boys, time to sleep"

The missus smiled at this point in the reminiscing. And I decided I would pick up the old laptop and bang out a post.