Thursday, March 8, 2012

Another day in the life of Narendra Shenoy

When a writer, even one who claims to be writing his autobiography, starts getting autobiographical, the wise person knows that he, the writer, is scraping the bottom of the idea barrel. And I, dear reader, am going to be doing that. Getting autobiographical, I mean. Narrating incidents from my personal life.

If you choose, shrewdly in my opinion, to light out of here to some more intelligent page (Shahid Kapoor's twitter feed, for instance), I will shed a tear but acknowledge that you have excellent choice. I am honest like that.

But if you, dear reader, displaying the spirit of recklessness and adventure that people who explore the Amazon basin, or watch episodes of Big Boss, showcase in large quantities, decide to stay on, there will be none more delighted than me.

Yes, you guessed right, if you guessed from the previous sentence, that I have been having a couple. It is a beautiful night. The moon is out. The silence is ethereal. The household has gone to sleep. And I have been through a harrowing evening out in Mumbai traffic.

We had gone to a random uncle's house. I have non-random uncles too, like everyone else, but to these non-random (or ordered, if you are into math) uncles, one does not go unless there is a specific reason such as a birth, marriage, illness, dinner invitation or something. Random uncles are uncles to whose houses one goes because one has not gone there for a long time.

The missus and the brats had gone there earlier in the evening. I landed up directly from work, using public transport. Some cud was chewed, banter exchanged, the telling of jokes stayed by the intermittent basilisk stare of the missus and the evening went well, even by the missus' exacting standards.

On the way back, I drove. And we got the full force of Bombay traffic. I'm not usually troubled by this. When I'm driving in Bombay, I just switch off my mind, as I would in, say, a lecture on management strategy or a movie starring Akshay Kumar and enjoy the mindlessness on view. But today it was extraordinarily bad.

I don't know if you've felt this way yourself, but sometimes I feel, when wending my way through the traffic, like a foetus emerging from a womb, with labor contractions pushing me in directions not chosen by me.

I expressed this thought.

"I've never heard anything so ridiculous, Naren! Foetus emerging from a womb, it seems!" said the missus "Keep the left lane. Watch out for the truck!"

"Annie," piped up elder son, "Gau says Sanjay Dutt's mother was an actress named Madhubala. Was she?"

"Yes, yes" I said absently while trying not to be the cause of a motorcyclist's death

"No, silly" said the missus "it was Nargis. Surely even YOU have seen Nargis' movies"

"Nargis?" Younger son was sceptical. "Are you sure, Amma?"

"Annie, quick riddle" said elder son "What's the singular of Madhubala?"

I did not answer, preoccupied as I was with avoiding an autorickshaw who, for reasons not clearly discernible, had decided to go in a vectorially perpendicular direction to the flow of the traffic

"Plural of Madhubala? Madhubalas?"

"No, no, singular of Madhubala. Ok, I'll tell you the answer. Madhubalum"

I wished I were an octopus. I could have continued driving and still clouted him one on the side of the head.

"Haha" said younger son, obviously seeing humour in that alleged joke "And you know what the singular of Nargis is?"

"Hahaha!" elder son seemed to know the answer. "Nargoose".

"Boys, " I spoke sharply "if you don't keep quiet, you will witness the spectacle of your dear father having a nervous breakdown. Please"

"Just joking, Annie!"

"Yes", added the missus, "you have just lost your sense of humor these days"

I would have responded with something suitably acerbic but right then an autorickshaw decided to slam his brakes for a passenger and I bumped into him.

He emerged from the auto in anger.

"Can't see or what? Eyes or potatoes?"

I was irritated. "You braked, you capital of England without the preposition"

"You should have seen, you inclined channel for conveying grain, water or coal to a lower level" said the auto driver

"Iconic clock tower of England plus the French word for warm, hot!" I exclaimed, unable to keep cool

"Let it go, let it go" advised other drivers. "Not much damage, no?"

Not much damage indeed! What about my self esteem!

But by then the traffic had started moving  and the auto guy disappeared.

"You are so careless, Naren! You never pay attention to the traffic" the missus rubbed salt into the wounds.

But it is all back to normal. I'm in my lair, with a decent whiskey. The other characters in this drama are snoring peacefully.

Though I'm feeling just a little bad about missing the opportunity of telling the auto guy the website address of Bose, Denmark.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Ah! Dug this out from the "Drafts" folder. I've been struggling to find something to write about and this darned writer's block has been, like a good CPI-M high command, obstructing all attempts to achieve results.

This @daddysan writes so beautifully! Simple words but deep thought. This excellent post he wrote today about Twitter, how it has woven its threads into his life and how it has given him those moments where he just sort of sits back, sighs gently and feels Buddha-like happiness, got me thinking.

I'm not much of a thinker in the sense of coming up with radically original thought, but give me someone else's original thought and I can stretch, mangle, verbify and otherwise extend it as well as anyone else. The missus has often remarked to me that she has never met anyone who can use so many words to say so little, which I think is a compliment.  And Daddysan has invited me, indeed, practically begged me (I assume it must be me, though Daddysan has tactfully refrained from naming anyone) to share "What are your Twitter stories? How has Twitter added to your life?"

 Twitter and I go back a long way. Three or four years now and I've primarily used Twitter as a place to read good stuff . The occasional witticisms of course, but mostly the links to interesting articles and points of view that some people consistently manage to put out. Every once in a while there is an interesting discussion on things I'd start off knowing only tangentially about and end up knowing enough to call myself "well informed".

The one thing about Twitter that fascinates me is the number of truly brilliant people out there. I interact with a small subset of them but I know there are many more. Some are wordplay geniuses. Others are superbly balanced analysts of any issue floating around. There are tech wizards, subtle litterateurs, gifted chefs, and some just good fellas.

The missus doesn't like me spending much time on twitter. We have the occassional war of words when I miss what she has been saying, on account of giggling away at something @rameshsrivats has said, but for the most part she just says it louder and oftener, till I get it.

"That's it?" you must be saying to yourself "THAT is your twitter story?"

Monday, March 5, 2012

Myanmar news

A new kind of virus seems to have hit the Irrawaddy delta. Known as the Myanmar Fit, the viral infection exhibits virtually no symptoms of illness other than causing severe aggressiveness and rebelliousness among some individuals. The delta has a reasonably peaceful population of Mons and Bamars and the virus has not caused endemic unrest as earlier feared.

The Military Junta however is watching the situation carefully, and hoping it doesn't reach the interiors where the Shan tribe has a significant presence. Already facing rebellion, the military fears that the situation would spiral out of hand should the virus proliferate. As the spokesperson for the Junta said, the government hopes that the Fit doesn't hit the Shan