Month: January 2012

The Last Hurrah?

According to Wikipedia, I was a graduand till a few days back. Who are they to judge, you might ask. The fact that you ask that question implies that you have been living in a hole for the last few years. Welcome back Rip Van Winkle, we now have colour televisions and internet. Wikipedia is the new bible. Where was I? Ah, graduand. An eminently Commonwealth word, it refers to a student who has “completed” his graduation but has not yet graduated with a formal ceremony. And the university solved that problem with a convocation (or convo as we cool people call it) ceremony on the 20th of January.

With most of our class being in Bangalore itself, there were many of us in the train that took us to the alma mater. A fun journey as all train journeys are, we reached the ‘city’ of Kozhikode on the morning of the convo. Some noobs had turned up the previous day itself as the official website had told us to be present there for some rehearsal and registration. But our mole in the college had told us that it was all bullshit, so we sauntered in on the relevant day only.

The necessary registration and collection of gowns/robes was done. The dress had a caution deposit of Rs 1500/-(one thousand five hundred only). Shocking. It is not as if we are silly immature people who can’t be trusted to tie our own shoelaces. Oh wait, we are. Then we proceeded to our… oops erstwhile (*sniff**sniff*) hostels to dump the bag. Some people had to carry out their daily routines while the rest of us less disciplined folks waited for them. Then we were all ready for breakfast.

But waiting for one of our flock stuck in Bombay resulted in our delay in going to that hallowed thattukada, our haunt for three years, the place which fed us and kept us out of shape during our college days, that abode of the master of tea-making Vasuettan and the excellent Chechi. Words fail most of us while waxing lyrical about the food there. Some people have stopped drinking tea anywhere else after tasting a sip from Chechi’s, fearing losing that divine taste from the tongue. The person with the best vocabulary of “nice words” in our group slung poetical rhyming swear words at the delayer for delaying us and we ran there fearing that all was lost.

Our fears were almost realised and we had to make do with the second best options available but the divine tea was there to compensate. Feeling very sated and at peace with the world, all at the cost of 20 rupees, smiling benignly at all and sundry, we then proceeded to meet the favourite teacher(s). A lot of fun was had at the expense of some people who give lifts to girls on bikes as well as some people who go to gym when some people are rumoured to come to Bangalore. But alas I can reveal no names.

The convo was scheduled to begin at 3:30 in the afternoon(duh!) and after quick showers and a lot of time deducing how to wear the robes, we went to the Audi. There we learned that the robes have been wrongly worn and after long duels and almost endless namecalling, we finally decided to wear it just as it is. And then I entered the audi.

And then I entered my mistake. The chief guest coming from Saddi Dilli had his flight delayed as a result of the awesome fogs due to the awesome climate in awesome Delhi and it was no fault of the Delhi which is the awesomest place that I know of. But I digress. The nub of the matter is that he was late and some of us were left stuck in the hall with no entertainment other than sitting and twiddling my thumbs while watching grass grow and paint dry. You might wonder why I did not take my awesome iPod but then you were not aware of the stupid rule that no cameras and stuff were aloud. Then you will argue that the 0.3 megapixel camera in the iPod does not qualify as a camera and then I will grab your throat for blaspheming about an iDevice for I am an Apple fanboy. But again I digress.

The ceremony finally began two hours late with loud trumpets and the academic procession entered the halls with great fanfare. The next thing I remember was people going on the stage to collect their certificates. The speeches were said to be excruciatingly boring and infinitely long. My name was finally called and I went on stage all humble and bowing and promptly lost my hat. But being the resourceful person that I am, I converted that mishap into a curtsey and got my photo snapped without further problems. The degree told me that I got through with a First Class with Distinction, talk about awesomeness, which gathering from the expressions on people’s face when I tell them my marks, I would hardly have considered possible let alone probable.

The fact that we were stuck in the hall for around 5 hours left us ravenously hungry and the juniors were blessed from the bottom of our hearts when they provided us refreshments. Then I ran around making hasty farewells and searching for the friend who had promised a ride home (his not mine). The aforementioned friend having been found out, gathered Yours Truly and the one who got mocked for the bike incident and took us to his home. And the convo trip that most of us had been waiting for ended.

A huge thank you for all the friends and teachers who enabled me to stumble through four years of college with a degree in hand to show for it. And I am now a graduate, fellow homo sapiens. A graduate from a not too shabby university in India. Bring on the world now. I will shove that degree in their face. Or burn it along with the rest of the stuff when the world ends in 2012. Whatever…

‘Til Later

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A Guide to Good Living, sorry Fooding

The most frequent things on my annual (sometimes bi-annual too) trips to Kerala were the marriages, with hartals and bandhs coming a respectable second. And guess what the best part of attending those functions were? Naa, not the girls, a saying I heard recently comes to my mind-“Most of the beautiful girls are not present, most of the present beautiful girls are not single and most of the present single beautiful girls are not present without their brothers”, certainly lolworthy as the chat addicts say, eh? Where was I? Ah yes, the best part- the sadya.

Sadya (suðya-the su is pronounced like in sun, the weird character like “the” and a short ya instead of the drawling yeah) is a Malayalam word which means feast or rather banquet as a sneak peek at Wiki tells me. Nothing new about that you might be thinking. You with your experience in attending a million random weddings and gatecrashing another million or so might be thinking that this is just one more such occasion, nothing that a very innocent look and blustering about till you get it right won’t solve.

Unfortunately, no. Not so easy buster. I admire your blissful ignorance because it is one of those occasions that a person alien to the culture can be totally sidelined by the others and left looking like a total nincompoop. But Sir Damu arises to your need and here is a quick introduction to what one needs to take care while attending a sadya, and the preparations needed for it.

The Costume

Dhoti/Mundu or Lungi, as the culturally backward call it, the thinking mans’ cloth is one of those fiendishly tricky dresses which forces you to think about hereafter while you are trying to tie it. It looks quite easy but many a stranger has tied himself in knots trying to tie his Mundu. And it is a must if you want to properly participate in a sadya. You might need a professional Malayalee’s help for the first two thousand times, then you can manage it alone. Why a Mundu, why so much bother, you might be thinking. And you will not be alone either. But trust me as I trusted my Shifu. Here are a few reasons that will force you to think.

1. You are in a different culture and what better way to merge with them than trying to adopt their customs? Also any of the pretty girls that escape the aforementioned rule and you would like to merge with might find your troubles with the Mundu rather cute until it turns rather vulgar.

2. Any time somebody gives you something to pass the parcel to someone, you can just say, “Sure, just hold on till I retie my Mundu“. By the time you manage to retie it the unwelcome person would be long gone.

3. And most importantly, the food is going to be pretty spicy. And v’la, you have acres of space to blow your nose or wipe your sweat or whatever other nefarious motives you may have.

Preparations

1. Skip breakfast- you came a long way to attend this marriage, and what better way to enjoy it than enjoy a hearty lunch?

2. Go to Mumbai and practise getting on to the local train. “Huh?” you might ask. In Kerala or at least at whatever marriages I attend, people always need to get on to the next local train. So there is always a huge huge rush when the first panthi– loosely translating to a crowd of ravenously hungry people- is set. I have personally known people (yes I am looking at you) waiting outside the dining hall when the actual marriage ceremony is going on.

3. Go to the nearest garbage dump, stare at the refuse and try to maintain an appetite. Because that is how the hall will be if you do not manage to enter in the first panthi.

The Day

Get yourself a seat, somewhere away from prying eyes and suspicious aunties and wait calmly for the food to arrive. Take a look around and see if anyone is watching you. Smile at them till they are embarrassed and look away. Now take a look at your table if your appetite can handle it.

Hey, wait, don’t use that leaf thingy to clean the table. That is supposed to be your plate. First take some water out of the glass they have kept and pour it on the leaf. Now thoroughly rinse it using your hands. What? You did not wash your hands? Ah well the damage is done. Check whether the leaf is torn or has holes. To remove the leftover water on the leaf, grab your leaf by its nearest side and  push it over the edge of the table. Of course you idiot, you need to hold the leaf. Beg the leaf guy for another leaf and repeat, this time holding the leaf while pushing it over the edge. Now that your plate is ready, use the mundu to wipe the beads of perspiration. I told you it will be useful.

I am sure you are a professional eater, so only a few tips regarding the eating part. Food will arrive as multiple courses and it is never rude to raise your hands and ask for more. Pappadam (not possible to translate to English), kadumanga (the pickle) and chips have to be suitably used as garnishing while eating. Oh shit, one more thing that I forgot to tell you, you have to eat with your hands. No spoon, fork and knife. It is highly efficient and makes the phrase finger-lickin’ good quite apt. Also remember the fact that unless you have at least 4 glasses of payasam (the sweet), the server will look at you with disdain.

There you are, a successful sadya eater. And with there being more Malayalees than everyone else (Yes Mandarin is just Malayalam with a Thrissur slang), you will find plenty of occasions to satisfy your urge. Have fun and don’t waste the food.

‘Til Later

42

“Rhino- check”

“Duck-billed platypus- check”

“Clown fish- check”, God counted in a very satisfied voice. Heaven was a very busy place at the moment as all the holy ones had gotten together to look at God’s latest  craze- a Lego collection to rival Satan. He even had breathed life into his models and the things were looking quite impressive. “What say you, my dear fellow? Unable to eat anything because you still can’t digest that my collection is better than yours?” asked God. “Not bad, considering that you spent the better part of the last 7 years since I threw my Lego collection party trying to make your own”. “7 years! No man, I have been doing this only for the last 7 days. In fact most of the things were made within a day”

And that my dear friends is how exaggeration was born.

Exaggeration- what a beautiful word, what a beautiful idea. I would not be exaggerating if I said that this is one activity, nay art that I am a champion at. Being a champion of this art as well as this cause, it is my honour-bound duty to instruct those less able than me on this. As I said, exaggeration is not something that everyone is good at. It requires careful planning and innovation. Keeping that poker-face while making that outlandish claim is not simple. Even inventing those outlandish claims is very difficult. There are several unwritten rules which will help you get away with exaggeration. Here you are. Read and study.

Rule Number 1

Multiply by n rule. If arbitrarily increasing a count introduces a twist in the tale in your favour, that count should be multiplied by n (which is usually 10). So the next time you tell about your marks or the number of goals in Legendary mode against Barcelona with Sheffield United, just add that extra zero and enjoy the zing in your tale.

Rule Number 2

Divide by n rule. If arbitrarily decreasing a count introduces a twist in the tale in your favour, that count should be divided by n. God is one of the eminent people to have perfected the use of this rule. Note: This rule is particularly effective when combined with rule number 1.

The above two rules were actually discovered in Ancient Greece while trying to encourage the Greek soldiers waiting for Xerxes army. 3000 Spartans suddenly became 300 and 5000 Persians suddenly became 50000.

Rule Number 3

Eyewitness rule. You always witness everything worth witnessing. The Counter Strike match which lasted 10 days or the athlete next door doing 150 push ups using his pinkie finger were all in your presence. Always.

Rule Number 4

No names rule. As long as you don’t name names, you can’t be caught exaggerating. Pronouns were invented exactly for this reason. And people reciprocate when they know they have not been compromised. So it is always “You should have seen HIM eat. At least 30 Idlis!” And “HE” will be more than glad to say something nice about you too.

Rule Number 5

Swear on the name of every family member possible. A fine example would be “I swear by the last fur on the tail of my Great great grandfather’s favourite labrador that whatever I said happened.”

The above five rules should enable you to invent exaggerations. But the following rule is the most important one when it comes to getting away with it.

Rule Number 6

Quote the Author rule. Quote Shakespeare or Bernard Shaw.  Or better Leo Tolstoy. No one reads those authors. While making claims, follow it up with a quote from one of the above mentioned authors.

“He was so angry that he beat up at least 10 people single-handedly. Like Tolstoy said in War and Peace, anger is the greatest friend you have. It can render you power to defeat even your greatest enemy.”

Rule Number 7

This is the most important rule of all. Pray to Damu. Remember his wisdom. Think about all his greatest attempts. Get inspired by his exaggerations. Read his books on exaggeration. Whenever you feel doubtful, remember the golden rule that Damu knows everything. A good book to start with will be “100001 great exaggerations by Damu” ghost written by Damu.

The most important two rules are 6 and 7 and you will quickly notice that their product is 42. What? You don’t know what is special about 42? Just google “the answer to life the universe and everything”  and enjoy the beauty. Yes, the magic number strikes again. And yes this is my 42nd post since I joined the blogosphere around 2 years ago. That it took me so long to reach this holy number is as much a testament to my laziness as the chronic uncreativity that is present in me.

But there you are. For every creative, zestful, enthusiastic fool, you need a Damu to maintain the precarious balance of life. If you are reading this, thank you for persisting with such a lazy devil in the hope that he will come good. Hoping for many more blogs…

‘Til Later

The Year That Was…

A new year has arrived. Meh, I feel it is one of the most overrated days of the year with the multitudes of other days (rose, friendship, father, mother, uncle etc ) coming a close second. A recap of the year that was seems to be the “in” thing on blogosphere. I usually am very behind the fashion trends, for eg, by the time I started to grow my hair long, people had already shaved their heads twice and while I was contemplating on getting myself a bell-bottom pants, the pencil leg or whatever it is called was the in thing. You get the gist I suppose, er… that is I am always behind times. But this time I am not waiting till 2015 before I write about 2011. Irrespective of my total irreverance to the day, here goes the recapitulation. (One of my best friends has beautifully recapped his year here, with photos and all. You might enjoy it especially if you are a United fan, so do check that link after going through mine. )

The first four months of 2011, rather the last four months of the best part of my life were a blur. The last semester in college was a fitting tribute to the previous seven as we just simply had a blasting experience. Tours, weddings, treats, more tours and ya the occasional end semester exam or two and everything was sort of fast-forwarded. It was one hell of a journey and brilliant fun. The month of May was notable for Yours Truly finally becoming a brahmin and getting to wear the sacred thread. Then there was the one month break till joining the Tejas Networks. This was spent at home, bickering with the younger sister, eating good food, buying the necessary stuff for the next phase of my life and in general splurging my old man’s money ;).

June 19 was the momentous day in which I embarked on the next phase of my life – job. That part is still going on fine with just the minor hiccups associated with such a sea change in life. Bangalore is a very weird place in my opinion and all those who wax lyrical about the climate can just go and bury themselves as far as I am concerned. A place which is cold in the morning, hot in the day and again cold in the night seriously needs to consult a shrink – mood swings galore or what? Me, I prefer the good old Delhi which is hot in the summer and cold in the winter, no complications. As a result of these climate changes, I have been a constant victim of the aptly named common cold.

The living has been quite comfortable due to the hospitality of my relatives, some of whom are contemplating moving away from Damu and some who have already done so. But like a shadow I will follow them and constantly darken their doorsteps (*evil laugh*). A trip has turned out quite memorably and many more are there in the pipeline. Watching football with friends as well as relatives as well as the occasional solos have been quite enjoyable and the team that Yours Truly supports has performed pretty well if not fantastically. Ah but then we all have different expectations.

It was a not too lousy year quoting the above mentioned friend. It could have been better but there you are. You take what you have and make the best of it. And I am quite satisfied with what happened, except here and there. But again I am quite easily pleased. Give me my books and music and I will curl into a corner and never bother humanity. Speaking of books, a lot of them are there for the taking. So it is now a race. I am sure I will lose but let the defeat be glorious (gosh, that was unbelievably corny!!!).

Not much of a recap this has turned out to be, but my thoughts are all muddled and who cares anyway. If the world does not end in 2012, I promise I will turn up with a better review of 2012, the year not the movie (please laugh, please). Hoping that the coming year will be a prosperous and joyful one for one and all.

‘Til Later