Monthly Archives: January 2010

New Year Parties

Also from A Momentary Lapse of Reason:

If you throw a New Year’s Party, the worst thing that you can do would be to throw the kind of party where your guests wake up today, and call you to say they had a nice time. Now you’ll be be expected to throw another party next year. What you should do is throw the kind of party where your guest wake up several days from now and call their lawyers to find out if they’ve been indicted for anything. You want your guests to be so anxious to avoid a recurrence of your party that they immediately start planning parties of their own, a year in advance, just to prevent you from having another one… If your party is successful, the police will knock on your door, unless your party is very successful in which case they will lob tear gas through your living room window. As host, your job is to make sure that they don’t arrest anybody. Or if they’re dead set on arresting someone, your job is to make sure it isn’t you…

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Birth of Fandom

The following came up on A Momentary Lapse of Reason on our IIM Calcutta extranet:

It was over in a flash. The neutron bombs were delivered with so little warning, none of the government officials were able to get to their shelters in time. But the neutron bombs were designed to wipe out only people, and they were designed well. Buildings stood and petunias blossomed. Somehow, Dave had survived. The last boy on Earth. AS he sat down in his room, reading a Frederic Brown novel, the phone rang. With- out thinking, Dave picked it up. “Dave, this is Kevin. Are you going to be at the SF club meeting tonight?” Suddenly realizing what was happening, Dave reacted. “Kevin? But I thought I was the last person alive!” “Nah, the whole group’s still going strong!” “But…how?” “Same as you. You read a lot, don’t you?” “A novel a day.” “So, your walls are lined with books, aren’t they?” “Sure.” “Best radiation absorbers ever. Hardly a fan got burned, world- wide. Anyway, the meeting’s at the usual place. 7:30. See you there” And that’s how fandom took over the world.

Source unknown.

Weird Dream

I had two of the weirdest of dreams today; I will blame the fried maggi and double mixed fruit juice overdose, or maybe The Men Who Stare at Goats. Either way, they were absolutely strange in the sense that my behaviour in them was not in line with my real world self.

I do not remember the first one, but I do remember waking up after that one, seeing that it is still only 9am, and going back to sleep again. The second one caused me to wake up as well, but neither were really nightmares. It is also entirely possible that I got the causality wrong; the dream may have stopped because I got up. Anyway, here goes the second dream:

Scene is a road-facing consumer shop, where you can buy electronics, stationery and for some reason, also book travel tickets. I was merely observing some people transact business. Then, my mom tells me to go check if tickets to place X were available. I go there, and tell them to give me a form – apparently the booking and availability checking form is the same. Also, it’s some sort of a hi-tech form, in the sense that you need to tap the buttons and menu options for them to work; maybe it is a tablet or something. So I fill up the details and the overenthusiastic counter salesperson wants to know if I need his help, and where would I like to go. I tell him that I’m just checking availability and will let him know if I need his help. He sort of snubs at me!

So, I finish filling up the details, and hesitate for a second trying to locate the button for check availability, because it is between the buttons for check fare, book et al. One other salesperson looks over my shoulder and says: The button is there. The first salesperson says: No, he doesn’t want to book the tickets, only check availability. I just ignore them, and click the check availability button. The screen pointer indicates that the button has been hit, but nothing happens. The second salesperson says: No, you didn’t hit it hard enough. Let me do it. I hit it again, and give him a look.

The page opens and I get the data; I have no clue what it actually said. A third salesperson comes along, and says: May I have a look? I’ll book these tickets for you. He even started poking his head between mine and the form, and tried to pull the form away from me. This is when I lost it: I DON’T WANT TO BOOK TICKETS. HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT I AM ONLY CHECKING AVAILABILITY. DON’T YOU PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. $#%^%$^%@#!

The third guy is now appalled. The first two look at him. I wouldn’t stop: You guys do not know how to do business or treat customers. (At this point I’m not sure if any tried to placate me, and if they did, it only worsened things.) I shot back: I have been a long-time customer here. I just bought 3 mobile phones from this store. (I swear during the dream I was thinking of what would be a fair number to put in here, because I had not actually purchased any mobile phones from the store before.) I AM NEVER GOING TO COME BACK HERE AGAIN. YOU HAVE JUST LOST A PAYING CUSTOMER.

By this time everyone in the store is staring at me and at the counter, and the salespeople are now genuinely concerned with sheepish looks on their faces. As I left the shop, I could hear their manager and the first two salespeople berating the third salesperson: What did you do? What did you do? Why did you have to ask him? Now who will recover these lost sales? You have single handed increased all of our workload…

[So far, I can see a mixture of Anupam stores in Mumbai, my Latitude XT, IRCTC website, Rocket Singh, a disgruntled me, observed customers who give pain to the salespeople, all coming together in this dream-streak. Of course, this is completely contrary to how I’d react in real life. But it doesn’t end there.]

Outside the shop, my mom and dad are waiting in an ordinary Mumbai rickshaw; dad is actually outside. I walk to them, all angry, and without any dialogue, get inside the rickshaw. Dad climbs in after me, and the rickshaw is off, possibly going home. I don’t recall any dialogue, but the rickshaw climbs to some height, and it looks like a derelict building terrace, with one edge facing the railway lines. I’m playing the incident back in my head, when the rickshaw-walla bhaiya simply drives off the edge of the building, over the railway tracks and I go: OH! WTF? WHY HAS HE JUMPED US ALL OFF THE BUILDING. Dad simply says: The angle isn’t right; you should have taken off at a higher angle.

My dream mind is numb. Taken-off? WTF? We start coming down, but we’ve now crossed the railway lines, and are passing over some buildings. The rickshaw-walla bhaiya says: It’s that pink building, right? Dad: Yes. Rickshaw-walla bhaiya: Oh, that’s going to be a tough one. Me: WTF? What do you mean it’s going to be a tough one? What were you even thinking when you “took-off” the other building? This is insane. This must be a dream.

The next few things happen quite fast in the dream. The rickshaw-walla bhaiya starts shouting, possibly to himself: The antenna, the antenna, we are too low, too low. He does some insane driving actions, more like that of a pilot trying to fly a single engine plane with the joystick – he was doing that with the steering bar of the rickshaw. Then: Look out for the cylinder, the cylinder. And then we float, and land on to the terrace of what I now assume, was our building. This is when I notice that Bana, my aaya from childhood days and now a family member, is also with us, and she was absolutely scared to death with all this flying.

I have no clue what the cylinder was, and my real world building is not pink. It does have a cellular tower on its terrace, so maybe that was the antenna. And this is where I get up. I tried hard to recollect if there was any flying gear connected to the rickshaw, but I can’t remember. Possibly there were two or three big white silk balloons, but I am not sure.

[I don’t even know what is the inspiration for all this – flying rickshaws and what not! What a crazy dream, really!]

Ed: Minor edits made, and link to IRCTC fixed. Thanks, Vidyadhar.

Dus Bahane

“So, where are we going to go for the movie?”

“I haven’t decided, yet.”

“Well, I need to pick out a dress.”

“Eh? How does that matter.”

“Oh, it does. I need to figure out how smartly I can dress.” Smart was her euphemistic way of saying how many layers she could drop off. “And also if we are going to have dinner.”

“Look, it’s not a date. It’s just a movie. Simple.” Rohit did not want her to get ideas. Once he had invited her to his college party, and she had absolutely eaten up his head with the pre-party prep! It was simply fortunate (for him, of course) that her mom fell ill, and she had to cancel at the last minute. Thankfully too, the party had turned really wild, and he did not want Zarine to be there; after all, not everyone is as saintly as him.

“Still…”

“Fine, I’ll let you know.”

“It’s not that way. I just don’t get out that often, you see.”

“And just why not?”

“There’s no company.”

“…”

“No, seriously. I’m just so lonely. You go out partying and enjoying yourself. I feel so jealous. It is unfair!”

Not knowing how to react to this, but saying ‘Look, I have a girlfriend. I handle her problems, and those are enough!’ did not seem right in his head. So he said nothing.

“Just let me know when you decide, alright?”

“Yep! I’ll.” He did not want to get into the discussion about how she should mix up with other people et al all over again this time.

Later that night, Zarine does her head-poking-in-from-the-door thing again: “Hey, you wanna come downstairs with me?”

“Hmmm. Why, what’s up?”

“Oh, nothing. Dad forgot to lock the car, so I’m going down to lock it. I could do with some company.”

“Okay.” Rohit didn’t have to even think for an excuse; Zarine was well prepared, hitting where it hurt. She wore a translucent night gown that did more than justice to her curves. Of course, it could be coincidental, but one couldn’t help a wandering mind.

“It’s getting a bit cold, isn’t it?”

‘Well, if you wear that, what do you expect?’ “Yes, gets quite chilly in the mornings.”

“Yes. And I have to go get fresh flowers for the morning puja. I hate to do that in this weather.”

“Why don’t you ask the vendor to bring them home?”

“Oh, he comes in too late. I prefer to be done with it before I do anything else.”

“Well…”

“Do you want to sit inside the car for a bit? Maybe listen to the radio? Come on, just get in…” Zarine had cut him and his argument, suddenly tugging at his arm.

“Um… sure!” Only the strong can resist a puppy face. Coupled with an outfit like that. And all the pulling.

“Yaay! Let’s see what’s playing… Maybe something romantic?”

‘Pop should be fine, really. Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves!’ Instead, Rohit offers expectant silence. Dus bahane karke le gayi dil plays on the radio.

“Hold my hand. And sing along! Dus bahane karke…”

Thanks Adi for the song reco.

A Cold Night

It was a cold January night. Colder than usual. Much colder than usual. He shivered – the standard issue jacket didn’t seem to work; it was largely unsuccessful keeping the cold out and the heat in. Some weather, he reckoned. Rather be in the tropics, drinking iced tea, than be here, struggling even to hold the glass cup containing rum and coffee. The room was only marginally warmer, and everything inside was freezing cold to touch. He snuggled inside the blanket and tried to sleep, rolling himself into a ball with the blanket covering him head-to-toe.

But sleep eluded him. Not because it was cold; cold is secondary when one is tired enough and Sleep just comes. But because his mind wouldn’t let him. He kept playing the incident over and over again in his mind. He felt colder every time he did that. His extremities were numb, even though he had curled them for minimum exposure. He was trying to breathe out hot air, hoping the blanket would trap some in; didn’t quite seem like it was working, it felt progressively colder.

And then he felt warmer. It was something that started from his chest and slowly spread all across his body. He couldn’t figure out at first, he was too busy relishing the warm feeling, as if he has nestled between the welcoming arms of a giant panda. Or maybe that of  sizzling chocolate fudge. It felt like heaven. Slowly, feeling returned to his hands, and he felt wet. His brain pondered: this doesn’t make sense; why am I feeling wet? His mind though couldn’t care less; it wanted to continue with the amazing feeling.

And that is how he bled to death.

They found him later, drowned in his own blood, now dry and clotted, with a smile of satisfaction on his face.

Jab We Met

Ding dong!

“Ma, open the door!”

Ding—dong!

“Ma?”

“MA!?”

Diiiiiiing dong!

Groggy and not wanting to get up, Rohit opens the door. Zarine pokes her head in. You’ve got to admit, there’s a certain something to girls in the early morning – all the freshness and innocence accumulates in them over the night. It was a picture perfect pose. She was wearing a sleeveless yellow suit with a hint of black embroidery, over blue jeans. Something better break Rohit out of his reverie.

“Hey! Still sleeping, eh? I thought so. I’ve got something for you.”

“Huh? Yeah! Come on in.”

“I’ve made pasta today. You love Pasta, don’t you?”

“Hmm…” Rohit took the covered bowl from her, and put it on the dining table, wondering where everyone at home had disappeared.

“Did you get my message yesterday night?”

“Yeah, but my cell was not in front of me. I saw it too late; I thought you’d have slept by then.”

“Oh! No worries. So tell me, what did you do all these days?”

“Usual stuff. Nothing extraordinary. What about you?”

“I thought you’d never ask. I’m working on this project with dad’s clients. If they like my work, they may ask me to join part-time.”

“That’s great.”

“Yeah, but I don’t know if I’ll join.”

“Why?” Rohit asked, and instantly regretted it.

“It’s complicated. There’s so much work at home, I hardly have any time.”

“Hmm…”

“That’s beside the point. So go on, have my pasta. Tell me how it is!”

Happy at being let off without a fight, Rohit: “Yeah, let me at least brush!”

“Sure, go ahead. I’ll go back for now. Let me know how it is.”

Later, on Gtalk: “So, how was it?”

‘How was what? Oh yeah, the pasta.’ “It was good! I really loved the olives.”

“:-)”

“You know what?”’

Almost as if it were a dare: “What?”

“I made the pasta just for you. I’m so happy that you liked it!”

“:-)”, he had a heart too, you know.

“So…”

No response.

“Did you see Jab We Met?”

“No.”

“Me neither. But it sure will be my favouritest movie. The songs are so lovely.”

“Hmm…”

“Acha, let’s go and see it.”

Panic: “When?”

“Whenever you want. I’m always free. It is your time that is more important.”

Trying to fight his way out: “I don’t do many Hindi movies.”

“Then let’s go and watch something else. I’m so bored, yaar.”

Realizing there’s little he can do now, except commit for now and ditch later: “No, it’s ok, we’ll go on Tuesday.”

“:-D”

“:-)”

“Thank you soooo much!”

Pity, really. “I’ll brb.”

“brb?”

303

“Hey, when did you get back?” Zarine asked, with big round eyes barely able to hide a strange mixture of excitement, pleasure and relief.

“Two days back. I flew in on Thursday morning.” Rohit said, rather casually.

“And you didn’t call me back. I left a message with your mom.”

“Well you know how it is, unpacking and all that… I just didn’t get the time!”

Zarine knew that this would be his oft used excuse. She never really understood what was it that made Rohit behave that way with her. Sure, he’s accomplished a lot more in life than her, but that is only because environment was conducive for him, as much as it wasn’t for her.

“That’s ok. So what did you get for me?”

“Um… Hold on a bit, let me see… Here it is, beautiful isn’t it?”

The face mask was indeed quite beautiful, with intricate designs in red, black and peacock blue. “Yes, it’s amazing! Thanks so much!”

“I’m glad you love it.”

“Hey listen, I got to rush. It’s already seven, and I’ve not started work; people at home will get mad!”

“Sure, we’ll catch up later.”

“Yes, of course. I want to see all the photos!”

Rohit received an SMS soon after: “Thank you so much for getting the mask for me. It meant a lot!” His only thought: ‘Oh well’; and that was the end of it. Later on he gets the call:

“Hey Rohit, it’s Zarine.”

“Hey!”

“Are you outside?”

“Yes, with friends.”

“Oh! I thought you’d be at home.”

“No. Anything up?”

“Not really. Just. It’s ok, I’ll call you back later.”

“Um, alright.”

Zarine didn’t want to blurt it out, but she was dying for a release. Being the younger of the two sisters in a somewhat conservative family, there were only so many people she could talk to; and with her sister getting married two years ago, this set reduced further.

Another SMS later in the night: “Are you awake?”

Rohit ignored it. It is not like he doesn’t know what is going on. He wasn’t the one to get involved with her. He had been in a relationship for some time now. Sure, Zarine was beautiful, and there were times he had thought about it. But there was just too much baggage. He didn’t want anything to do with it, if at all possible. It wasn’t that easy, considering she lived almost next door. And their families were friends.