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The Times of Twism

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Question to Jamal

Over the past few days, unless you have been living under a rock, you would have been bombarded with predictions and analysis of Slumdog Millionaire's chances at the Oscars. Since the Times of Twism is meant to reflect the err.. times, I would like to ask Jamal this question:

How many Vijayanagar IInd stage's are there in Karnataka?
A) None
B) One
C) As many as the pink chaddies received by the SRS

D) I quit, Mera paas Oscars hai!

This may sound like a trick question, the kind which Anil Kapoor should have have asked if he really wanted Jamal out of the show, but it really isn't one. If it isn't a trick question, then what is the deal with Vijayangar IInd stage in Karnataka?
Quite frankly, there are too many places named as such, spread over many cities. This is not an isolated occurrence. Hoysala, Hebbal are some of the other places which have a tendency to be repeated across cities. To make things worse, there is also a conspiracy to have the same names repeated within a city. A good example would be Mysore (where I currently reside), which has a place called K.D. Road and for confusion's sake, another place called K.D. Circle. The people who were involved in naming cities here were either sinfully lazy or had a limited repository of names to choose from. Like the sub prime crisis, this can lead to disastrous (and comical) consequences.
With that out of the way, you would be tempted to ask, Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? After all, one could argue, almost every city (in India) worth its salt has an M.G. Road. I intend to silence my skeptics with an incident that would have made Murphy (of Murphy's Law Fame) proud.
A couple of months back, I had received a call from one of those people who pester the salaried population between Jan and March. Contrary to what everyone might think, its wasn't the taxman but an investment adviser, (read as glorified policy salesman) who wanted me to invest in a tax saving mutual fund. Being in a particular tax savingsy mood (this was when the Sensex was in the heady 20,000s), I ask him to come over to the police station at Vijayanagar IInd stage, which is a prominent landmark close to my place. After an hour or so, he gives me a call and we have the following conversation:
Salesman: Hi, I am currently standing in front of the police station at Vijayanagar IInd stage.
Me: Are you sure that you are beside the police station at Vijayanagar IInd stage?
Salesman: Yes.
Me: In that case I should be able to see you. Can you wave your hands?
Salesman(frantically waving): Can you see me now?
Me: Nope. In fact I cant see anyone there. Can you checkup with someone there if you are at the right place?
Salesman: I am 100% sure. I had asked the chai walla across the police station and he had confirmed that this indeed is the police station at Vijayanagar IInd stage.
Me: What? There is no chai walla anywhere close to that place.
Salesman: What are you telling me sir, the chai walla is right across the police station. In fact, a B.M.T.C bus has stopped right in front of it.
Me: B.M.T.C bus? I thought those buses ran only in Bangalore. Since when did they start services to Mysore?
Salesman: Sir, B.M.T.C buses don't have any services to Mysore. Who is in Mysore?
Me: I am in Mysore.
Salesman: This is not fair sir, you had told me that you would meet me. Why did you go to Mysore?
Me: @Q#@%^#$@#$

Yes, sh*t happens to all of us, but it teaches us a lesson too. The mental picture of me trying to pick a guy waving his hands across a street, albeit geographically separated by some 100+ kilometers, taught me why it would be prudent that only a few place names (such as M.G.Road) should be repeated across cities.
By the way, if Jamal had pushed his luck to answer my question, we probably would have had the most anticlimactic ending ever for a movie, probably involving Computer Ji blowing a fuse trying to figure out the right answer.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Procrastinate? Never ever!

A month ago, during a routine dental checkup, my dentist had warned me that there was a cavity waiting to implode and that it had to be filled up. Being the procrastinator that I was, I booked an appointment with him, and promptly failed to keep the appointment. Now before everyone starts commenting on my dental hygiene (or lack of it), let me state that in my defense, i was willing to get it done that very day.After all, if you could sit through a dental checkup, what is the harm in going all the way and getting a filling done?
I have always felt that by the time the dentist is done excavating your teeth and passing snide comments at the pathetic state of it, all in the disguise of a routine dental checkup, you would have crossed the point of no return with regards to pain. Experts(read as me) say that once you reach this zen-like state, nothing can be done to further your pain. I have heard that UFC participants, have a routine dental checkup as part of their pre-match warm-up. Anything that happens to them in the ring after that, is laughable. I think these reasons are sufficient to explain why I wanted to get the filling done along with my checkup. However, the doctor deemed it rather silly and laughed it off, informing me that he had a horde of patients waiting to throw me of that chair. Strange as it may sound, the dentist's chair is the only electric chair where people would fight and maim to boot out the incumbent. As far as I am concerned, both of the chairs should be banned under the Geneva conventions for Human rights violation.
With a heavy heart, I left the dentist's, knowing that I would not keep the appointment. What I did not know then was how a neglected filling was going to come back and haunt me.
Haunt it did, and how! Yesterday as I was finishing my lunch, I get this pulsating feeling in my teeth. Not knowing any better, i had ignored it and was soon engrossed in reading blogs work. Like an ignored child craving for attention, the nice homely pulsating feeling decides to take it to the next level and goes ballistic on my teeth. In the meantime, it also decides to pass a resolution concentrating all its effort on one tooth. By evening, I had decided that concrete action had to be taken to defeat this enemy. I also decide not to humanize 'the pain' by referring to it in the third person.
Reluctantly, I book an appointment with the dentist and soon find myself in the electric chair. The dentist conducts a preliminary inspection. For this, he uses a hammer on my teeth, which I believe, was to beat the pain into submission. To be doubly sure that he is not attacking an innocent tooth, he tries out his new shiny pointy instruments on the tooth and gets a writhing, mumbling, contorted me for confirmation. With the flourish of the CBI cracking open a complicated case, he informs me that his probing investigation has discovered the root cause of all my worries.
Yes, the root. No, really, it was the root of my tooth that was the trouble maker. The dentist informs me that I will have to undergo a Root Canal Treatment to get rid of the pain. I agree. With Glee writ on his face, he brings out his arsenal of Torture equipment.
This next section is not for the faint hearted. Those of you, who have been through this once before and have latent sadistic tendencies, will eagerly look forward to this section. Remember how the Suez Canal was made? The people involved took dynamite and blew their way across the Red sea, thereby opening new shipping channels. Root Canal Treatment is similar, if you replace the dynamite with tiny needles. From what I have heard, I gather that dynamite does not work very well on teeth, hence the need for tiny needles and drills. These dentists use their needles to get to the root of your teeth and to extract the offending root. They simultaneously satisfy their wannabe Harsha Bhogle ambitions by giving you a Live and exclusive running commentary of their actions. "Houston, we have reached the tooth", "I hope this works" and my personal favorite "There is a lot of blood and pus coming out". Once the needles are firmly stuck in your teeth, they negotiate the price of the treatment.
Dentist: This treatment is going to cost you Rs. XXXXXX. Do you agree to go ahead with this treatment?
Me: Illloovugh (Translation to no-needle-in-mouth-English: Its too much!)
Dentist: Oh, that is good. You have agreed on the cost of the treatment. Would you like a local anesthetic to go along with it?
Me: Illgoowagonwe (Translation: I hope that its free)
Dentist: No its not free, you will have to pay Rs. XXXX for that.
Me: Llavaay (Translation: No way)
Dentist: That is good! Nurse, he would like the local anesthetic too, can you please get one bottle?
Me(thinking): I hope my health insurance takes care of this
On hearing the cost, with or without the anesthetic, you are sufficiently numb. The pain does not bother you anymore. Thoughts of selling your rented house and your roommate's two wheeler comes to your mind. With a jolt, the dentist informs me that he is done with. On hearing this, my heart leaps for joy and I swear that I will never ever Procrastinate. Well... at least in matters of getting a filling for my tooth. Before I make a mad dash for freedom, the dentist calls out to me.
Dentist: Oh by the way, there is a tooth there that has to be filled.
Me: Can't we get it done today?
Dentist: No, I have a lot of patient patients waiting. Will you be free for an appointment next Sunday?
Me: I don't think so, but i will get it done sometime soon.Sometime this century.
And the circle of pain keeps on rolling.....

Friday, February 13, 2009

(un)Happy Valentine's Day

Its that dreaded day of the year, once again. When you have to file in your tax forms and with a heavy heart, figure out that your take-home salary for the next few months will be, well, taken home by the tax man.
No wait, its not that far along this year as yet. Oh right, its the other dreaded day of the year. At about the same time as we honor St. Valentine, many workplaces come up with a cruel way of outing your romantic/marital status.
Here is how it works: The evil HR department crafts drafts an email that asks you to celebrate Valentines day, by dressing up in a color, which they say corresponds to your marital/romantic status. A neat spread sheet is attached to describe what color you ought to be wearing for a given romantic state. Next, the email (spreadsheet and all) is promptly cc'd to everyone from the directors to your dead dog. For your benefit, I have selected the most important and thought provoking colors and what they imply about your romantic life. Additionally, I have also added some comments that came to my mind, in italics, like so. Here goes:
White: I am happily married. How come no one is dressed in white?
Black: I am unhappily married. Oh, that is why. I thought there was a funeral at work.
Grey: My marriage has its ups and downs.
Green: I am committed.
Blue: I have met someone who may or may not be the subject of my dreams. Weatherman special.
Yellow: I am open to proposals. A very unassuming way to say: SOMEONE,PLEASE PROPOSE ME.
Peach: I intend to flirt today. For the ones who wear peach, its always flirty day!
Orange: I am free. Read as: I am desperate to get hitched with someone.
Violet: My proposal went down the drain, I am on the prowl now. Strangely, no one was dressed in this category.
Indigo: My proposal just got accepted. Once again, what was green for?
Lilac: I am going to propose. In the company of these people, be scared, very scared.
Razzmatazz: I have the best romantic relationship in the whole world. Is there even such a color?
Pink Chaddi - I will try to disrupt Valentine's day celebrations, as they are against Indian values. I also lack a significant life, social or otherwise, to boast of.
Now those of you belonging to the HR fraternity, would justify this scheme as a really fun way to improve bonding and cohesion within the team. In your heart of hearts, you also hope that more people find their life partners from within the organization, after all, having two birds in hand is easier than having a bird in the bush. Easier to retain them. Easier to manage them. Easier to fire them.
No, I don't intend to go HR bashing today, but nevertheless, there are some tough questions that has to be answered by them.
What should those who are uninterested in this whole fiasco, wear?
Before pink inner ware is flung at me, let me clarify that I am not referring to fanatic-right-wing "uninterested people", but to regular guys like me, who are uninterested due to a long history of spectacular romantic failures.
The observant minority, would be sympathetic, as they would have noticed that, for someone who is just not interested, there are hardly any options to go with. There is Razzmatazz on the list, for heavens sake. In case, you also belong to the subcategory of people who swear by procrastination, (as a result of which your formal dressing involves choosing between the curry stained white shirt and the smelly black T-shirt) may St. Valentine help you. To top it all off, you wear the curry stained white shirt to work, only to be questioned by your colleagues as to what the curry stain signifies in your "happily married" white shirt!
Thus, a day that should have been about fun and romance, becomes the reincarnation of the Bubonic plague. As you all may be aware of, in the 14th century, the Bubonic plague had a grand total of 0 friends on facebook and 0 followers on twitter.
Which indirectly implies how dreaded this day is.
Which is why I am wishing everyone an (un)Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Willing Fundamentalist

Just as my kitty of topics to blog on was running dry, i run into this post by Silverine. It got me thinking on fundamentalism, and how people can readily recognize it in the newspapers and on TV, but not in their own life. Recently, one of the long winding conversations with my cousin, landed on the topic of how certain elders in our family have a rigid set of value systems and how they expect us to conform to the same. The set of value systems, under its umberalla would cover everything from trifle things, such as what sort of music to play in the car, to the more serious things, such as what career stream one should follow. In their defense, let me note here that these people are not cracked eggs by a long shot. They live happy lives, take good care of their families, help out their neighbors and are, in general, fun people to hang out with.
One of the earlier conversation with my cousin had to do with fundamentalism, and how in today's world, we only notice one ugly face of it, namely religious fundamentalism. The other forms of fundamentalism are either ignored or are not recognized. Perhaps it would be easier to recognize fundamentalism, if we knew what it was. Wiktionary tells me that fundamentalism is 'Strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles'. Definition wise, this cannot be a bad thing. Living your life by a strict set of principles, is mostly a good thing, provided the principles are not taken out of a bad slasher movie! So when exactly does fundamentalism go bad? In my opinion, it is when we impose our principles and ideas upon someone who subscribes to a different school of thought and expects them to conform to our ideas/principles. This definition would place a lot of people on the wrong side of the fence. It might place NGOs, who oppose movies based on touchy topics and Journos, who cant take criticism, in the same league as our famed 'Moral police'. However it is high time that we classify
them for what they all are : The Willing fundamentalist. This badge of shame may provoke a few "Fundamentalists" to mend their ways. Only then can we hope to eradicate intolerance from our society.