Friday, November 26, 2010

Onyamaaaaarks... Getseyt... Ggggo! ROAD RASHES 1 - The Last Mile

Okay people! I herewith launch, without further ado and fanfare, my new section named


Now then, does this refer to the sorry state of the roads? Especially post a nagging South West Monsoon and an unpredictable and continuing North East Monsoon? Admit it, don't they look like rashes on the road?

Or does it point at the brand of driving epitomised by Road Rash, the game - complete with baton (I loved the clunky sound it made when you knocked another chap or a cop over the head with it... heh heh), link chain and deliberate driving onto pedestrians so you could make the bike jump?

Or does it hint towards the mentality you develop when you drive?

It's a bit of each. There is so much to lament, so much to wonder, so much to boast about, so much to feel sorry for, so much to share...

But let me not get ahead of myself. I will go about this section in the most logical way possible, i.e. at pure random! Well, that's exactly how Indians use the road anyways.

Let me introduce you to one of my patented observations - the Last Mile. I'm sure you've heard this term used in reference to networks - the final leg of connectivity from a communications provider to a customer. It is widely accepted as the most challenging link to ensure, and often the single point of failure for critical setups.

In our parlance, I would like to extend this thought, this mentality, to people's behaviour in this country. It is the behaviour typified by an ostenisbly strange reluctance, refusal or ennui towards completion of any task. Allow me to explain with a few examples:

  1. After months of inconvenience caused to all road users by digging up earth, heaping it along usable road, rendering half the road width unusable, etc, the road work would be complete. But towards the end of the road, just next to the busy junction, would be a huge pile of rubble, a couple of drums in which the tar was melted, an old tyre half melted and stuck to the semi-molten tar, and assorted paraphernalia...
  2. One absolute nincompoop of a politician or administrator would have played a cruel joke on the populace by sanctioning the concretisation of one half of the road. Another joker - several thousand moons later - would have sanctioned interlocking tiles over the junction area. For several months after the completion of the latter, there would still be a gap of an agonising few inches between the two metalled surfaces. A monsoon would come and go, causing the interlocking tiles nearest the edge to dislodge, leading to a grand pothole...
  3. An area on the road would be cordoned off with metal sheets for manhole work. Weeks after the work is complete, the metal sheets remain...
  4. A political party would set up an elaborate shamiana for some ostentacious self-indulgent celebration, for a day. For weeks after that, some of the material used would lie around. Another stark reminder would be the merciless holes dug on hitherto smooth road to pitch the tents.
  5. A jaywalker would begin crossing the road (illegally, may I add) on a trot, but would slow down to a stroll roughly two-thirds of the way across the road, causing you to brake, triggering a general slow-down of passing traffic.

Let me dwell upon the last example a little more. If you attempt to understand the reason behind the said behaviour (slowing down post mid-way while crossing the road), it goes like this: I've indicated to the world around that I intend to cross the road. I have granted a fairly large favour on the stupid users of the road by taking off on a trot at a random point, and hence earmarking the miniscule gap in traffic that I choose to exploit in order to cross the road. Now that I've started crossing, the idiots had better acknowledge that. This means that they had better slow down so I can complete crossing the road in peace. What?! Do they need to be told individually? Can each guy not see that, not only have I clearly begun crossing the damn road, I have actually crossed half? I have made my intentions to cross quite abundantly clear. Now no one can blame me for jumping across a busy road at a fast section. If some bloody goat failed to brake in time and actually brushed against me I'm so fortunate! I can then gather a huge crowd and demand money from the nut! Everyone knows the pedestrian is always right!

The reason might be pure apathy. It could be even more sinister than that. But it is someone else that suffers, you see...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Languishing at the Bottom of the Chasm

So then, as promised, a short and abridged list of stuff that could've merited a post or so each, had it not been for the sojourn:

  • The New Arrival - Part Deux: Interesting tidbits on the newest arrival to the Maverick family.
  • My Pothole is Deeper Than Yours: A disgusting lament on the state of roads in the Maximum City.
  • Workout Basics: Busting the common myths around working out and physical activity.
  • Under-Foot Stubble Rub: ... and other interesting way of deriving divine pleasure from a 4-month old at home.
  • Culinary Experiences to Die For: A post dedicated exclusively to the heavenly Spiced-up Rice my partner Olly drummed up one evening. Yes, complete with recipe and all...
So, dear reader (is it just a coincidence the word was singular?), be privileged to learn first of the launch of a new series! Yes, dear reader! I'm soon going to begin a new series within this blog. I would call it 'Road Rashes', named after one of my preferred PC games of yore. What will it be all about?

Well, what can I say...! "Patience is a virtue!"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why oh why

So then, why did I stop / pause / break / sojourn / cease / halt the posts on a blog that was yet to score posts in double digits? As is almost always the case in such matters, the blame must go to the author himself... er... moi.

To begin with, the better reason(s): I got busy with RL, as they refer to Real Life in this realer-than-real life. This is always a good thing, believe me you. It proves that you do have a life! I mean, RL caught up with me man! I got busy doing stuff in real life so much so that it didn't allow me to get onto the net, this site, this blog, and look at a hefty 60-odd comments that my last real post had quite surprisingly generated. Now that must be a kick!

Another: there is something about creating life, bringing another human into this world, that shakes your foundations. I remember the first time it made me soft on the inside for a few days. Yes, I admit it only lasted a few days, but it did bring about that change in me. There was a tenderness in approach, something I'm not very accustomed to. I was very conscious of the interactions I was having with people all around. I went out of the way to ensure I did not hurt anyone with words.

The second time around - this time - the effects were a little different. Well, the circumstances were different. The recession was raging, at its peak. People whom I'd been close to for a long time suddenly began to behave differently, or even indifferently. So when the child was born, I had the same thoughts of amazement and wonderment on this whole creation of life thing, but somehow I turned a bit of a fatalist. I think I hardened a bit on the inside this time. I did not actively spread the cheer, so to say. I only shared the news with people whom I thought cared about the news or event more than just to gossip about it.

In perspective, I learnt different aspects of life in the aftermath of two very similar events.

But then, it would be unjust to leave out other major reasons for the hiatus.

Yes, as I said, an extraordinarily large proportion of people I thought I knew well, turned. Or rather did things around me that I would not have expected them to do. No, I'm not going to name them, nor hint at those situations or happenings. Those are best left where they have been relegated.

But it is interesting to look at the results. Although this unexpected chilling of relations across the spectrum disturbed my faith in those people, it did not shake my faith overall, on life, on relationships, on expectations. I think I know the reason for that. I have always been the kind of guy who had the least of expectations from others. There was a basic set of hygiene aspects, if when disturbed, would do a binary shift in my thought process for people / events. But otherwise my favourite line always has been: You cannot fall off the floor. (Actually, that's conditional too. I mean, an earthquake could ensure that the floor you were fallen upon - heh heh - actually fell several floors; but hey, what the heck.)

For quite a while I whined about it internally. When people asked me about the changes they perceived in my outlook I gave them vague and confusing answers. Internally I looked at myself as a victim and moped about it. After a while I realised I was only making an excuse. I had always told myself I could never determine others' actions, and that I could only fashion my reactions to external circumstances. So why did I forget my own golden rules? Others may behave strangely, but they are within their rights to do so. All I had to do was to bother about how I was letting this affect me. Once this realisation dawned anew on me I was back to my usual self.

But then, this sordid, but commonplace and boring, tale does not end here. The reasons I listed above only contributed to maybe ten months of inaction. The rest of the period of slumber can be attributed to inertia. Yes, that scientific principle you never studied well enough in high school.

What's next, you ask? Probably a post on what fell through the crack. Heck, call it a (shamefaced) chasm...

Sunday, September 5, 2010









What the...!
(Blink... blink...)

Huh? What! Where am I?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


That's it! I've had it up to here with mediocrity in English usage. It is not just plain mediocrity. It's criminal failure to learn! It's carelessness towards detail. It's lack of seriousness towards self-improvement.

To this day I would go red in the face if I discovered a grammatical error in my language; any language in general, but English in particular. But then, what riles me the most is the impunity with which people around us brandish ghastly grammar! Correct them, and be prepared to be snubbed nonchalantly.

So, before I issue shoot-at-sight orders at these error-mongers, allow me to issue the final set of warnings:

I have acquired a large battle axe and have subjected its edge to laser treatment. I will be using it to lop off the little toe of the first person I spy saying the following, "Make a xerox of this..." Have you nuts never heard of photocopy? Xerox is a brand-name, for Ghostsake!!!

I will empty an entire can of pepper-spray into the good eyeball of the nincompoop that writes 'definition' as 'defination'! Allow me to be politically incorrect here. The incorrigible Gujjubhais are the prime offenders in this case. They are closely followed by the Manoos. Man! If you keep writing it this way, you would end up being called a Daffy Nation!

There is no such word as 'assurity'! Why do you use it? Simply because 'surety' and 'assured' exist does not mean you can combine the two into this non-existent word. It shall be a sledgehammer on the kneecap for you buggers!

I shall use rusted pliers to pull out the fingernails of dolts that insist on trying to smash a double sixer by saying it is 'more better'.

Tweezers shall be deployed on the testicular hair of crackpots that use double past tense, as in 'I didn't gave him.'

Those insisting on resorting to 'false bravado' shall be well rewarded for it with cold water jets into their nostrils! Brother, 'bravado' has false connotations in it already...

I shall use the giant stapler to staple your lips together if you throw your regular 'revert back' at me! This is one of the most common errors encountered in offices. 'Revert' is good enough. DO NOT use 'back' with it; that's wrong!

'One of the boy' and 'some of the girl' would be smeared with a grease gun if they did not rectify this error. When you try and pick one or a few out of many, the latter would be plural, wouldn't it?

I'm pretty sure there are scores more such errors. You are welcome to bring them along to the comments section. We can discuss other methods of torture for their perpetrators. But then, do not revert back with them; just a revert would do!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Constipated Celeb Couple

Apropos the series of Airtel TVCs (Tele-Vision Commercials, for the absolutely uneducated Neanderthals) showcasing the ostensibly in-couple Kaif and Sareena. Er... did I get that right?

First this informative ad educates the Indian public how a Voice SMS could help propagate blackmail opportunities. I kid you not! Okay wait, let me explain what happens in the ad:

Saif uses live-in partner SRK as a sounding board once too often - in the balcony, in the bath(!), in the gym - expressing his dismay at having missed the potty for the last three days. SRK is fed up of suggesting fibre to an uptight Saif and throws punches on the latter's gut, with an intention of stimulating the intestines and ending his agony. 'Must be all the Lays he keeps munching', thinks SRK. He also helpfully stores the resulting tight-arse groan as a Voice SMS and sends it to Kareena. This dame is busy expressing her disgust at Saif's choice of laxative, to the point of hating him altogether. Notice her ill-concealed glee on sensing an opportunity to blackmail Saif by with-holding her own traditional methods from him.

The next commercial tracks Kareena trying to mess with Saif, asking him if singing on the pot is helping him with his bowel movements. She's clearly unaware of Saif's changed diet which now includes two mugs of psyllium husk in water every morning. She even mimics Saif's pained grunt on the pot. Notice the 'Yaaaaaa...'

Saif is busy designing a mobile potty seat so he can do it as he races around the Nascar track in an Aveo, and hence is visibly peeved (never mind the constipated expression). He dismisses her case with words of endearment towards his now regular morning activity. The ad ends with Kareena expressing her amazement in such succinct words, 'Ho gaya?!' (Are you done?!)

All ye constipated folks! Rejoice! There's still hope. If Saif can do it, so can you...

Friday, January 30, 2009

Writer's (Starting) Block

Thar she blows ! I mean, there goes another blog. Add one more to the multitude of new blogs. And with it goes another First Post!

There is something special about the First Post. Akin to the first drive of the new car from the showroom, if you ask some; and akin to the first time you drive a car all alone, if you ask others. The former – let’s call them newcars – are those who have written before – a blog here, a set of reviews there, an article somewhere else. The latter – these would be newdrivers – are those who have never written before and look at this as an experimental venture.

If you’ve browsed enough blogs in your day – which I assume you would have, since you’re here – you would notice typical trends in either case.

Newcars know exactly what’s needed – a big bang. Something politically correct, popular, appealing to a majority of regular readers. Maybe a topical issue. Something in the news lately. Better still, maybe something with universal appeal, across time and mood. Maybe an erstwhile unpublished work the newcar takes particular pride in. Notwithstanding all the above, if the newcar fancied himself or herself as a dabbler in humour, you can bet your posterior the First Post would find a surfeit of it.

Newdrivers tread with caution. They write about their fears on starting out with a new venture like this, their motivations, their expectations. There would be an overt attempt at humility. Some of these newbies try and beseech the reader to return and check for new posts often – perhaps being totally ignorant of conveniences like RSS and Atom Feed. This kind of First Post usually concludes with any of a thousand variations of ‘let us see where this goes from here’.

And then there are those smart-alecs who, in their presumably misguided attempt to appear different from the others, sit and pontificate on others’ First Posts and go for the avuncular and – dare I say – condescending masterstroke of beginning with a commentary on First Posts!