Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Funny Competition?

or Google just showing off?
You decide.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A Texas Road Trip

(I'm back friends! And to compensate for the long hiatus, I present to you one gigantic post)
(P.S: It has pictures)

One of my lifelong dreams came true last weekend at San Antonio Seaworld.

Yes, you guessed it right.
I finally got to see at least 2000 mexican women (generously endowed at all the wrong places) in full make-up, each with 3 oh-cho-cute kids (and one/or more on the way for many, apparently), walking around in spaghetti tops and shorts.


You know, the pleasant sound of "Pedroooo" every now and then really adds a new dimension to the whole seaworld experience. You all should do it once.
Anyway, before you start daydreaming about that, let me briefly recap what turned out to be a really fun Texas Road Trip.

We were supposed to start on friday before 5 PM, so that we could be in Austin by dinner time.
At 5 PM though, my wife was still on the phone with her lovely co-workers who wanted some powerpoint slides to be sent that very evening.
Thrilled at the fact that I'm not the one causing the delay (for once), I decided to laze on the couch wisecracking stuff like "why don't you send blank slides. I'm sure they'll appreciate a joke once in a while".
The glare from the other end though gave me enough hints about the possible repercussions (read: physical injuries) and so I quietly moved away pretending to pack the suitcase instead.
We finally left home at 6 (my wife is an amazingly quick packer!), picked up her cousins (K and S) on the way and were on our way by 6:45.

You see, on most days I'm a left lane guy, i.e. at least 10 above the speed limit-and constantly-in-your-rearview mirror-if-you're-not-moving-over-to-the-next-lane kind of friendly fellow.
So you can imagine what a thrill it must have been to drive at 25mph for hour-long stretches on a choke-full highway. We were wondering why the hell is everyone going to Austin for memorial day, but realized much later that it was graduation weekend at UT. On the brighter side of things, my fellow passengers were shocked at my sanskrit vocabulary range on the road and suggested a visit to the psychiatrist.

You see, on most days, I'm a classic rock kinda guy. Mix it up with Rahman and Kishore Kumar every now and then, and I'm a happy camper. My wife likes Indian Classical/Fusion. Her cousins love Indian Classical/Fusion. The only music common to all is Rahman (sort of).
Let me illustrate the scenario here:

As you can clearly see, I was in the minority and this was taken full advantage of by my fellow passengers. After 90 minutes of bollywood hits, the first classical CD was popped in and there was no looking back after this. (Hey, I'm capable of enjoying classical too, but long drive, night, slow traffic.. you know, my eyes tend to close quicker than usual). On second thought, it was probably a good idea not to play rock. I'm sure the Freebird solo would've compelled me to jump on to the shoulder and floor the gas pedal. I made the mistake of mentioning this to the group and was promptly recommended the aforementioned psychiatrist again.

After 4 hours and 15 minutes (and one close fender-bender call), we finally reached Austin. The kodbeles and papadis consumed during the journey were long gone, so we settled inside Kerbey Lane Cafe for dinner. Once at the table, I look up to the TV screen and see headline 'Lebron's incredible buzzer beater' flashing on it. Turns out No. 23 had hit an unbelievable last second shot to win the game against Orlando. (I missed it because of one stupid red corolla ahead of me on the left lane of the road which refused to go beyond 55 on a 60 speed limit). They showed at least 15 replays of the shot in the next 10 mins, but I'm sure watching it real-time would've been something else.
We then followed the regular non-indian restaurant protocol, which is:
a) Order the veggie option.
b) Tell the waiter "No Meat".
c) Ask the waiter if this contains any meat or meat derivatives at all. (At which point, he goes back to the kitchen to check with the chef, comes back and says that one sauce is actually made of chicken broth.)
d) Tell the waiter to prepare this dish with no meat-derived sauces/ingredients.
e) Prepare to tip an extra 5 bucks.
(Actually, the last point isn't always true. But I have to show some class here at least.)

By the time we ate, drove to the hotel and checked in, it was well past midnight.
The original plan was to hit Austin downtown (6th street specifically) by 11, so that we could do some proverbial 'pub-hopping'. (Yes, pub-hopping with a crowd that consists of 2 alleged teetotallers and 2 (including myself) amateur drinkers). Determined not to miss out on Austin's famed nightlife, we freshened up quickly and left for Downtown.

Now let me take a step back and bring up the one question which has been burning inside all of us ever since we started working in the US.
Where are all the young people in America dammit?? (more specifically, where are all the young women?)
[Oh come on, admit it. Its been bugging you too. After seeing endless number of auntys, uncles and ajjis everyday at work, you're just as desperate to see some wrinkle-free (or botox-less) skin.]

I finally found the answer. They're all in Austin!
The moment we entered 6th Street, my mind just went numb. I had not seen this much skin since, er.. since birth. There were at least 1000-1500 people in one street and you had to struggle to find a face which looked older than 25. For the first time, I felt old in America.
Every outfit imaginable to man was there, including latex pants(!). We saw a cat-fight, something that resembled a hip-bumping dance, and 2 guys so drunk that they were rolling on the street pretending to dance. Heck, we even saw a prostitute openly negotiate terms of service with a boy who did not look 18 to us.
I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was one wet t-shirt contest away from going absolutely bonkers out there. Our spouses tried to distract us from all the "kannige tampu's" (eye candy) for the first 2 minutes, but gave up wisely since it was a pointless exercise and focused their attention on the shirtless/6-packed boys instead.
The whole street was lined up with pubs. We picked one named 'Blind Pig' and entered. ID Check was a formality as the guy accepted my Indian DL (the book, with handwritten name) as proof.
We ordered a couple of drinks, which took about 20 minutes, and headed to the roof where the music was bellowing from. It was primarily yuppie music - mostly hip-hop and an occasional pop ditty. But it went well with the ambiance and we had a great time (Apparently not as great as the time the cross-cultured couple next to us were having, who spent the whole time in just one canine-inspired position).
By 2:30, they closed shop and we were forced out. Not ready to turn in just yet, we decided to go to a bowling alley which was supposed to be open till 4. But as we approached it, we saw that it was closed. Disappointed, we returned to the car and started back to the hotel.
We hadn't moved more than 100 meters when I noticed that a police car had just taken a U turn and was now behind us. (BTW, there were way too many cops in Austin. I think this was their collection season). In a split second, I realized that my lights weren't on. (Another Lesson learnt: Check if the car has automatic light setting before renting it). I turned them on and hoped that the cop would just let it go.
But of course, he turned his lights on.
Slowly, I parked on the right of the road. This was not good. Reasons:
a) I had recently applied for Texas License and they'd taken away my earlier Michigan License. Now all I had was this crumpled piece of paper the DMV had given me as a temp permit.
b) My Indian License was in a laughable state. In fact, last year at the grand canyon a cop had looked at it and laughed out loud.
c) We had had a couple of drinks (Yikes.)
d) We definitely had the confused desis=milkable bakras look mastered.

Anyway, the cop comes out of his car.
Cop: 'Hi, My name is *%balderdash# (They speak so fast, how can you figure out everything?). I'm with Austin Police Dept. Your DL and registration please'
Me (smiling awkwardly): Sure Officer.
I hand him the rental contract and my crumpled permit paper.
He takes a confused look at it.
I enlighten him. 'I'm new to Texas. I still haven't got my DL'.
'Okay. The reason I stopped you Sir is because I saw you driving without your lights'
'Oh, we'd jussst pulled out of parking, officer. I turned them on almost immediately'. I proceed to show him where we'd parked.
He doesn't buy it.
'Why would you park here at this time of the night?'
I tell him our bowling story.
He's still not convinced.
'Sir, were you having any food or talking on the phone will pulling out of parking?'
'Did you have anything to drink at all tonight?'
He asks this in a friendly casual, almost smiling way. Its a skill really. Almost made me say 'yeah a couple'.
But I'm up to the task.
'Not really', I say with a straight face.
'Okay, I'll be back'.
He goes back to his car, checks my previous record (which is impeccable, btw) and comes back.
'Okay Sir, I'll be giving you a verbal warning this time since you realised your mistake all by yourself. But I'd like you to turn the lights on well before you start driving'.
'Oh absolutely officer. Thank you!', controlling the jubilation.
And then, he hands me a business card.
'This is the website where we're running a survey of police performance. Please fill it out and you'll get 2 free tacos from Taco Bell!'
I was speechless.

Anyways, we decided to celebrate our lucky escape by having some late night samosas at a place curiously named 'Ken's Donuts'.
By the end of it all, at 4 AM, we were exhausted and finally in bed.

Day 2 began with a trip to Inner Space Caverns in Georgetown just outside Austin. Awesome natural wonder. Stalactites and Stalagmites and what not. Quite surreal actually. Here's a sample pic that I took:

After having lunch at Madras Pavilion, we visited Mount Bonnell - a posh little locality outside Austin overlooking Lake Austin and some of the most expensive houses in the state. These guys have the lake as their playground. We hadn't stayed there for 10 minutes - not enough time for photo sessions whilst competing for vantage points with other desi families - that the skies turned cloudy. This is what we saw coming towards us:

We got out of there just in time, mainly because I kept making timely Arnold one-worders like 'Quick', 'Here' and 'Hurry' to egg the team along.
Next, K took us to University of Texas (UT) for a quick tour that lasted close to 2 hours. The campus is endless, the facilities evoking fond memories of my Engg. days in NIE where I had to park my Luna in a muddy lawn and run across the busy road to the library to get the one and only (almost dying) copy of Mano's Digital Design and take it over to Girish Xerox to get the 29paise kerosene xerox of the whole book and return it by evening as per the 'adjustment' with the librarian.
We also caught glimpses of graduation ceremonies at various departments, students looking fabulous and happy, parents positively beaming, teachers and deans looking regal which again reminded me of my graduation - I went to NIE office to collect my 'B.E' certificate, the guy in the office screamed 'Lo swamy, ivndu certificate idya nodo' upon which, a certain swamy rummaged through the pile of certificates, handed me mine and said 'Nexxxt'.

Anyway, after buying some vegetable chips (which are superb, u tried them?), we started for San Antonio. Traffic Gods were easy on me this time and we cruised through comfortably - except for one interesting moment when I couldn't take the classical music anymore and said 'saaaaku eee piteelu', which although wasn't received well, was acted upon and the music was switched over to Mungaaru Male. Victory!

Day 3 began with Seaworld. Before that, we decided to buy tickets online because we could save almost $8 per head. Recession baas. What to do?
What we did not anticipate was the speed of the computer/internet at the hotel lobby. I started recalling the days with my old Pentium 100mhz with 16mb RAM when I would click on MS Word and eat Curd Rice till it opened. Only, this was worse. It took us full 25 minutes to book and print 4 tickets. I am certain there was some virus or malware in that computer. Any day now, I'm expecting to see a 1000$ adult entertainment bill on my credit card.
So we entered Seaworld, after paying $15 for parking in the open sun (If there's a bigger scam in this world, I'd like to see it please). We went to see the Killer Whale show. It is nicknamed Shamu, which I believe is short for Shamsundru. The whales were truly awe inspiring, displaying agility unimaginable for their size - something Romesh Pawar should see and hang himself.

We also saw a dolphin show, where the divers' acrobatics outshone the dolphins.

Lunch consisted of some horrible cheese pizza and soft drinks. The crowd here could not have been any different than the one in Austin. See, when you enter the bathroom to see 3 women waiting outside it and once inside see 10 men crouching near the urinals, only to realize that they're actually:
a) unbuttoning the pants of their 4 yr old, or
b) wiping their 2 yr old, or
c) holding the pee-pee of their 3 yr old,
you know you're in the wrong place.
But hey, Shamsundru made it worthwhile.

That evening, we went to the famed San Antonio Riverwalk. It was really charming and had an old worldly feel to it.

We spent an hour walking by restaurant after restaurant before finally settling down at Hard Rock Cafe. Everyone had cocktails while I decided to try Dos Equis (XX) and torment everyone with my 'Stay Thirsty My Friends' line. This was preceded by a priceless moment of comedy while ordering when K told the waiter 'I'll have Sex on the Beach' to which the waiter quipped 'Sure, as long as the cops aren't watching' and winked at him!
We would not let that go for the reminder of the trip.
After having a mediocre mexican dinner, we turned in.

The final day was reserved for shopping and return journey. San Marcos is apparently famous for its mile long outlet malls, so the girls literally steered the car into it. After 2 hours and $250 lighter, we started back on the road again. We stopped in Austin for lunch at Masala Wok and it turned out to be the best meal of the trip. Their Gobi 'Manchuri' reminded me of a famous mysore roadside gaadi called 'tootsie' near kuvempunagar. After spending a whopping $80, we were back on the road again.
The rest of the journey was relatively event less. The trip ended with the following conversation between S and me.
S: 'So what now, dont tell me you're going to play your video games after going home'
Me: 'Its been 4 days. Yea, I think I'll play for a while'
At this point, both S and my wife exchange weird looks complete with eye-rolls and everything while I look on cluelessly.

If anyone knows a good psychiatrist, email me.

(P.S: Saw Up! last week and it is Fantastic!. A Must watch.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Love Triangle

What to do?

Thursday, April 16, 2009


You little beauty.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Cream of Cricket

I was reading the very funny Andy Zaltzman's blog the other day and it reminded me of my early years in Bangalore when me and my friends/roommates would sit and discuss something as ridiculous as 'how would the world's worst cricket team look like'.
That's the advantage of having like-minded, similar-wavelengthed friends as roommates. It is quite rare and should be cherished while it lasts. We would spend insane amounts of time discussing whether a player is 'worthy' enough to be picked in the world's worst cricket team. These discussions would last hours on end. On many occassions we would walk to Home Meals in Jayanagar 4th block, have dinner and come back home without even remembering what we ate or how long the walk was.

Anyway, I seem to have misplaced my copy of one such squad. Over the last few days I have tried my best to recollect it using my superhero-esque memory powers.
(For all you purists & uptights, I have this to say: As an accomplished allrounder in gully cricket, I have every right and capability to judge other petty international cricketers)

So without further ado, presenting, on the auspicious occassion of ICC's centenary year, (fittingly) the Cream of Cricket.

Team: KMH  (Kivi Mele Hoovu)
Vikram Rathour (IND) (wk) - Yes. He is the wicket keeper too. He can also bowl if you want. Superb player under pressure.
Wajahatullah Wasti (PAK) - A solid reliable quick scoring opener who almost single handedly won the 99 world cup.
Jacob Martin (IND) - A cool head. So cool, sometimes it forgets to score.
Dale Benkenstein (SA) - Another solid middle order batsman who's currently taking the ICL by storm.
Sylvester Joseph (WI) - Raw talent that those stupid WI selectors failed to encourage.
Chandika Hathurasingha (SL) - A living example of how one's weight cannot affect one's abilities.
Adam Huckle (ZIM) (c ) - He was Zimbabwe's captain. 'nuff said.
Abey Kuruvilla (IND) - Only bowler to beat Venkatesh Prasad in terms of Build : Pace ratio. Also takes home the best bowling action prize.
Chris Drum (NZ) - Exciting, incisive fast bowler. Wow.
Nehemiah Perry (WI) - Square turner of the ball. Again, those WI selectors.
Henry Williams (SA) - Damn the match fixing controversy for cutting short a promising career.

Mark Ramprakash (ENG) - You cannot tell me you didn't get goosebumps out of excitement when he came out to bat.
Nadeem Khan (PAK) - Aah. Perfect loop, guile and turn. Too bad Pakistan only loves its pacers.
Pommie Mbangwa (ZIM) - What a joy it was to see his hair bounce around in front of his eyes just before he delivered the ball. And he got buckets of wickets in spite of that.
Adam Dale (AUS) - Killer swing bowler.
Russell Arnold (SL) - Has the most beautiful sweep shot. Perfectly suited for middle overs. He can pinch a single in the 3rd man area even with 3 fielders in. Backup Captain.
Ruchira Perera (SL) - The original slinger. Sachin feared him.  Malinga would do better if he learnt some tricks from him.

Team: HMT (Heglu Mele Towel)
Debang Gandhi (IND) - I will never forgive McGrath for ending such a promising, exciting opener's career.
Matthew Horne (NZ) - A classy opening batsman. Hardly ever edged to slip.
Darren Ganga (WI) (c ) - He became captain of WI. 'nuff said again.
Mohammad Hussain (PAK) - The best looking of the lot. Amazingly consistent with both bat and ball.
Sanjeeva Ranatunga (SL) - A real hidden talent. SL has a lot of those.
Courtney Browne (WI) (wk) - A calming, inspiring presence on the field. Very consistent.
Prashant Vaidya (IND) - What pace! What swing! What happened?
Eric Upashanta (SL) - Superb straight arm action, which caused the ball to move so much that it ended up being wide many times. That was his only problem.
Mahendra Nagamootoo (WI) - Another terrific WI spinner who was sidelined by WI in favor of another promising fast bowler Marlon Black.
Mick Lewis (AUS) - An honest fast bowler who dismissed his world record performance of 10-0-113-0 by saying "It was just a game".
Heath Davis (NZ) - Generated too much movement off the seam. Kept the slips interested. Just not the batsman.

Khaled Mahmud (BAN) - Genuine allrounder. Matchwinner.
Ian Salisbury (ENG) - England's best spinner. Without a doubt. Had a great rivalry with Shane warne during the 90's.
Peter Martin (ENG) - Tall, fast and lethal. Having a splendind action helped him take bagful of wickets in his short career.
Winston Benjamin (WI) - A True caribbean speedster. His venomous bouncers were rendered useless on lifeless pitches of Jamaica & Trinidad.
Pubudu Dassanayake (SL) - A world class keeper and an immaculate batsman.
Dulip Liyanage (SL) - Fastest Srilankan bowler of the last decade. Only Nuwan Zoysa has come close since.

Honarable Mentions (i.e. AJMs)
Sujith Somasunder (IND): A dashing, dynamic opener who stood tall to McGrath, even when his stumps did not.
Noel David (IND): A Mystery Spinner.
Blair Hartland (NZ): A Calm and composed player who can stabilize any innings.
Amay Khurasiya (IND): Classy left hander capable of some lusty blows.
Niroshan Bandaratilleke (SL): Left Arm Orthodox spinner who can control the run flow in any situation.
Ashish Kapoor (IND): Still waiting for his recall into the squad.

Are you still reading? OK...
Now that you are well familiar with the teams, can you predict the winner if these two powerhouse teams meet head to head?
For added effect, imagine this match being umpired by Ameish Saheba and Steve Bucknor, match refereed by Mike Denness and commentated by Ranjith (Wickath Crickath) Fernando,  Arun (Insightful) Lal and Sidhu.
(Extraaa Innings hosted by Charu Sharma with guests Kapil Dev, Mohinder Amarnath & Aamir Sohail all speaking English)

(Suggestions to the team composition are most welcome. Only rule is that they should be from my generation i.e. late 80s - present day.)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Six Six Six

No No, I have not lost my marbles (contrary to many an opinion) and started writing Iron Maiden lyrics out of the blue.
Actually, I have been tagged, by DewDropDream.
The deal is: I must pick up the sixth photo in the sixth folder of my photos folder and post it here with a brief descritption-cum-explanation.

Hmmm.. Simple enough.
Problem is the sixth pics folder on my computer has no pictures in it. Only more folders. So I've done the logical thing and selected the sixth folder inside the sixth folder and the sixth picture inside that very sixth folder inside the original sixth folder. (and hence, the number of the beast).

This is my pic:

Actually, this picture was taken by my wife, from inside the car. It was taken on the 25th of February 2008 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Even though it looks like an evening shot, it was about 10 in the morning. Yeah, blizzards tend to do that to Michigan. A Lot.
We were carrying our camera with us in case some freaky snow situation happened (which was quite likely considering the fact that it was a horrendous blizzard and I had to drive 45 miles and back with only one movable arm). Yes, Camera trumped snickers bars, apples, tropicana and other lesser significant things. Fortunately (or otherwise, depending on how you look at it), the trip was largely uneventful.
We were driving out of our neighborhood. The streets were deserted, as usual. It was then that we suddenly saw a moving object. It was a lady, moving slowly on a non-existant sidewalk, without an umbrella and just her hoodie for protection. She was either very brave or very desperate, we thought. We took her picture.
On second thought, I think it was more of an excitement of just seeing a human being on the road that prompted us to click that picture.

Good Times.

(I would like to tag Anoop, Mr. Shenoy, Perplexed, Bindya and Paarijatha. Come on, get off your lazy cushions and get to work, I say!)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Attack of the Amway Desis

They have a gift. 
They can smell you, perhaps even sense your presence in their vicinity. They are predators alright, but skilled ones at that. Their regular hunting grounds are the milk and the canned tomato aisles at Walmart. The moment they spot you in the cereal aisle looking confusedly at Kellogs' Chocolatey Delight and Vanilla Almond, they lock you in their sights. They don't follow you, but somehow 'accidentally' bump into you in the next aisle. And then they go about the kill, slowly and softly.

Yes, I am talking about the 'Amway' Desis.

My friends had adequately warned me about these creatures, more so now that I'd moved to Texas. And after two encounters in 3 days, I am now seriously contemplating doing my groceries at 1 AM on a wednesday. 
Why, you ask? Allow me to cut to the flashbacks.

Thursday evening:
On the way home from work, I remembered that I was running out of cereal (now that I'm guzzling 4 boxes a week!). So I decided to stop by the friendly neighborhood Walmart. Navigating my way through the friendly stray shopping carts, I parked at the closest available parking spot which was only half a mile away from the entrance. Actually, in one of the great ironies of life, I feel jealous of the handicapped every time I go to Walmart.
Anyway, I was at the milk section when I noticed a decently dressed 'Desi' being awfully polite to all and sundry. Hmmm.. something fishy, I thought. Well, actually I was walking by the seafood section when I thought that. But anyway..

So I was in the chips aisle doing inky-pinky-ponky between regular and jalapeno cheetos when I heard a voice.
"So, looking for Indian Chips aa?"
It was the aforementioned Decent Desi. I don't know where he came from because the aisle was empty when I entered it.
"Missing Indian Chips aa?" he asked again.
I was startled, only for a second. Then I was actually disappointed.
Missing Indian Chips? Really?? You're looking to get unknown people into your business network and that is the best pick up line you can come up with?

"Hehe" I let out an awkward smile, avoiding making eye contact for more than 2 seconds.
"You are Indian, right?" he asks. I was impressed.
"Hi, I'm LKB" (original name withheld), he offers a handshake. I return the favor.
"Where are you from?" enquiry begins.
"Oh.. my sister lives in Bangalore". 
Sister? Riiight. Hundred bucks says your dad got a 'Nasbandhi' after you were born, I thought. Couldn't say it to his face though. I blame it on my upbringing.

"I know Brigade Road. Nice place" he continues, beaming with confidence on his knowledge of Bangalore.
That's nothing. Visit Okalipuram once. Another awkward smile.
"Where in Bangalore are you from?"
"Jayanagar" I answer.
"Jayanagar.. Hmmm.. I don't know that place. I only know Brigade Road".
Really? You don't say! I'm just glad you asked that question anyway.
"So, what do you do?"
Oh, you mean besides engaging in such stimulating conversations? "I'm an IT Consultant for XYZ company"
"Ohhhh! That's cool"
That was followed by 2 more minutes of enquiry about the domain, technology and cubicle I work in.
"So, how long are you gonna be in Texas?" Finally, he's coming to the point.
"Hmm.. I'm not sure at this point of time" I'm proud of myself.
"Hehe.. IT consultant right, situation is bad here for you folks"
Aah, he's also a scholar and an economist. Maybe I should just give him my phone number.
"Hey, why don't you give me your phone number?" Here it comes. "I'll give you a missed call and you can store my number". Bullseye!
Okay, you know what's a perfect example of an amateur mistake? Carrying your cellphone in your hand while walking around in Walmart.
I was cornered. I had to give him my number and pretend I was saving his name while I went through AT&T's free spam in my inbox.
"What time do you come home in the evening?"
Huh? Are you planning a surprise birthday party or something, coz my birthday's not due for months.
"I dunno, its pretty hectic at work these days". Indeed it is.
"No worry, I'll give you a call soon. And we can meet sometime in the evening. I live close by"
Can't wait.
"Okay, bye" I rushed out of the aisle even before completing that sentence.

Five minutes later, I was walking towards checkout and bam! I saw him again, walking towards the same set of checkout counters as me. With a combination of great speed and supreme cart dodging skills, I turned the other way and ran towards the ladies lingerie section where I took a very forced refuge for 5 full minutes.

I lived to fight another day.

Sunday afternoon:
That another day came sooner than I had hoped for. My mistake this time: I waited till the very last moment to do last minute chips & dips shopping before the superbowl game and hence let my guard down at the battleground.
This time it was a couple, in their mid 30s. They sneaked up on me while I was unsuspectingly looking at some cheddar dips. I shall refer to them as 'Dumma' and 'Kulli'.

"Hey, you look familiar. Are you from Chennai?" Dumma asked. I instantly recognized the genuinity in his voice.
"No", I responded, without a smile.
"But you are from South India right?", he expanded his horizons quickly.
"Yes, Bangalore"
"Ohhh Bangalore!", Kulli exclaimed, again, genuinely. "We lived in Bangalore some time back. In BTM Layout"
"Oh. Goood".
They then followed the standard questionnaire template (job, domain, technology, how long in the US, what time you come home from work) before Dumma finally came to the point
"Hey, why don't you give me your cell number? We can meet sometime."
This time, I was ready. My cell was safe in my trouser pocket, and the crease it created was barely visible.
"Actually, I don't have a phone yet. I've been here only for a week"
Nobody call me now. Nobody call me now. Please.
"Ohh. Okay, take my number at least"
I shrugged my hands indicating I don't have a pen or a paper. And I obviously don't have a cellphone.
"Hey look, I have pen and paper", Kulli smirked as she plucked the pen and paper out of her purse.
So close.
I took the piece of paper and was about to take my leave when Dumma decided to make a last ditch attempt.
"Hey, at least give me your hotel phone number man"
Wow. I didn't see that coming. 
"I don't remember it off hand. Sorry". 
I'll kill you and your wife if I miss the kickoff. 
"Hmm.. No problem, I'll look it up online. Just tell me the room number".
My god. He must be getting a really fat commission on this. There's no other explanation.
"Its 108", I said.
"Okay then, we'll see you soon".
I sincerely, desperately, faithfully, 'on-my-knees-god-please-have-mercy-on-me'fully hope not.
As I was leaving the place, a wierd thought entered my head. What it was, you shall soon find out.

Fast forward 4 hours:
Its the fourth quarter, Arizona's just scored a freakin' unbelievable touchdown. The two minute warning has just been sounded. Big Ben is driving the Steelers down the field. Can this get any better?

Yes it can. (Its the catchphrase of the season!)

My phone rang. Unknown number. I contemplated for 10 seconds and then picked it up.
"Hi! This is LKB. How are you?"
Incomplete pass. 2nd down at the Steelers 45.
"Hey, this is LKB. Remember, we'd met at Walmart a few days ago".

What. The. Fuck.
(Lesson Learnt: When an Amway douchebag gives you his phone number, Save it. At least you'll know when not to pick up the phone)

"Oh Right. Whatsup?"
"Hey, I was wondering if you wanna come down to my house tomorrow"
"What? Hey, are you not watching the game?"
"Which game?"
Roethlisberger sacked. Do or die 3rd down now. Why in the bloody world am I still talking to this guy.
"The Superbowl"
"Oh. I don't really follow all these sports"
"But I do. So, bye."

And I cut the call. That's the first time I ever hung up on someone I knew. It felt sooo good.
It was then I started giving my aforementioned wierd thought a little more er.. thought.
I was so proud of the way I wriggled myself out of the hands of these creeps twice in a row, I felt I should take this up as a night job, you know like a super hero.

'Harassed by pain in the arse business networkers? Do not fear. Blade Bhadra is here.'
My super power would be distracting these crooks from victims by using their own 'blading' methods, and then slipping out of the situation with blade like smoothness.
I am not kidding. In fact, at this very moment, I am stiching my superhero outfit. This is what I'm gunning for.
Well, if it doesn't work out, I always have my wednesday 1 AM plan.

And by the way, Room 108 is the room next to mine, currently being inhabited by a big black guy who's making an unusual amount of noise.

(That was the sound of a blade. A smooth blade. Its gonna be my alter ego's signoff.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What an Album!

Ever since Himesh started singing full time, I started dreading a new album release. In a way I am actually delighted he's started acting. I can live with a 'Mashaaa allaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan' once in 8 months.
The good thing is that for all those Himesh, Anu Malik and other mere mortals, we have one Rahman.

I do not usually write full posts about music albums. Not for bollywood film music at least. 
But in the last few days, I have gotten so absorbed by this gem of an album, by one gem of a musician, that I had to write about it.
I have been listening to 'Delhi 6' since last weekend and I've got to say this is some of the best music I've heard in years. It is interesting how lyricists seem to up their game for a Rahman album. Prasoon Joshi is emerging as a class act of late, and here he creates some amazingly meaningful yet non-cliched poetry.

And there's Rahman. He weaves magic around those words, transcending genres effortlessly in the process. I dare you to show me another contemporary album with such variety, and quality.
I'm actually compelled to put a listing. So here goes:

Masakali: Oh, the song you'll fall in love with. Fresh, Unusual and Earthy. Mohit Chauhan sings it with flair and energy. The lyrics compare Sonam Kapoor to a carefree pigeon. You can't help being smitten by it.

Arziyan: While I'm not the right guy to analyze the subtleties of a genre like this, I can still recognize a good composition. The words are honest and so are the singers.

Dilli 6: The title track is one giddy mix of guitar, funk, rap and attitude. The rhythm is so infectious, you can't help but keep tapping your foot, which is okay unless you're foot is on the brake of your car, which may result in you get honked for braking pointlessly. (This was totally hypothetical, by the way.)

Rehna Tu: Beautiful Beautiful song. Its funny how Rahman ends up singing the best songs in all his albums. The beat is just perfect, lyrics eternally romantic, reminding you of your loved one every time you play it. My guess is this song is played as background to some intimate scenes between the lead pair, which could be an interesting watch. I can easily see this one being a hot favorite at Valentine's day dedications.

Dil Gira Dafatan: Best song of the album for me. It has got this mysterious otherworldy feel to it. Every time I play it, I feel transported to another universe where everything moves in slow motion. At the heart of it, I think it is a song about one way love. There's something hauntingly poetic about one way love; a sensation that every guy or girl has felt at least once in a lifetime. The words are just dreamy. And the vocals. God, I wonder where Rahman finds all this talent. Have you heard of Ash King and Tanmayee? Well, hear them here and you'll wonder where they were all these days. I just love this song when I'm on the road. I stop caring for traffic or anything else for that matter. Did I mention that there's not a single beat of percussion in the entire track?

Genda Phool: Most interesting track. A simple folksy tune about marriage is raised to far higher levels of interestingness by adding some groovy percussion in the mix. You can't teach this stuff in music schools. It is just magic.

Bhor Bhaye: An out and out classical number. I keep telling myself that I haven't attained the levels of maturity required to enjoy Indian classical music. But I loved this one. It is intense, sometimes bordering on fusion, but you can just close your eyes and enjoy it.

Aarti: Customary spiritual ditty. Its become a standard for Rahman albums. I didn't mind it.

At the end of it, you realize Rahman is just so far ahead of anybody else in India (maybe even in the world with all the oscar noms) that it is almost laughable.
Is it not?
Okay, close your eyes and  just picture Himesh in his new Karzzz wig singing (and dancing) 'Harri Yomm Harri Yomm Harri Yooouuuuuum' for 30 seconds.

See, that did the trick.