Month: May 2012

Bus Karo

Bus rides can be broadly classified into two types: long and short (genius no?). The short ones I love and the long ones I try to avoid like the plague. The short bus rides are for example from the bus stop opposite your house to the grocer two blocks down, or even to the Big Bazaar across town. I like sitting peacefully observing my co-passengeresses, gazing out of the window or reading a book. I also like running after crowded buses, trying to get a foothold on the foot-board and hanging out of the bus in quintessentially Indian fashion.

These short bus rides are of course not everyone’s cup of tea. Hanging on for dear life all the while inhaling the “fragrance” of the salt of the earth and if god forbid it rained, the socks of the earth can sometimes cause even the hardest person to feel the strain. Arguing with the conductor for the change and the driver because he doesn’t stop at your stop as well as alternatively apologising and antagonising your co-passengers for stepping on their foot is one of the traits of a bus ride in Hindustan post Jesus H. Christ. Nonetheless, I enjoy every bit of it.

The bus rides I try to avoid are the long distance ones, the ones across states, countries or continents. A suitable example will be the one that take you from one city full of people sporting backpacks, ID cards and earphones to one in the Naalikerathinte Naadu where you have a house like a Narayanakkilikoodu. Or maybe from one place in the latter to another, sufficiently far apart that the language of one is incomprehensible in the other (that is much closer than you might imagine).

Even the sight of the big bulky bus bounding down the road fills me with trepidation. I remember the countless babies crying their tiny hearts out (at extremely loud volume nonetheless) and the buckets of vomit the trajectories of which miss my face by whiskers. Thank god that I don’t have whiskers! I shed a silent tear thinking about the thousands of beautiful girls that sit in the seat just in front of me while the seats adjacent to me are occupied by people who are carrying enough luggage to last them a lifetime or the inquisitive people who appear to be unable to take their next breath until they know everything about me. I shudder remembering the overturned buses and smashed junks that litter either side of the highway that connects my usual destinations. Cutting the description short, I quake like a jelly and my timbers start shivering.

You would be excused if you conclude that with this great phobia of long distance journeys, I do most of my travelling via train. If you belong to the ilk which believes in planning and foresight, the aforementioned conclusion is almost foregone. There my dear reader, your ignorance of the creature called Damu shines through. Damu, rather I, has(/have respectively) never thought ahead of the day’s breakfast compared to some people who have even thought of the breakfast of the kid they will have in some 10 years. If somebody graded my planning on a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being the planning of the grasshopper for winter and 10 being the planning of Rohilettan, I will get somewhere in the region of -10.

I eagerly wait for the day when IRCTC reduces its reservation period from 4 months to 1 day. 4 months! I laugh in their faceless faces at their gross presumption. 4 months! Ha ha. 4 days and you are talking business. 1 and you have got yourself a deal. Till that day, I swallow my fear, harden my nerves and take that shaky step on to the footboard of the Rajahamsa, that humble steed that carries my noble self everywhere.

‘Til Later

Biryani

No, this post is not about biryani – one of the most overrated dishes in my opinion. I find the various spices and all in it disgusting and only eat it if I am left with no other option. In my living memory (I wonder if there is something called dead memory), I have only liked biryani twice. But if I remember right, both times I was starving. Even when I think of biting the clove or cinnamon or cardomom, I gag. Yuck! But then, I am a vegetarian and what the hell do I know.

I am sure at least a few of my Malayalee readers would have seen the movie called One Man Show. And by now, I am sure you must have realised where I am leading to. For the others, no worry, all in good time. The movie has a mad character played by Salim Kumar. In it, he is interned in a lunatic asylum and wreaks havoc with his antics. In one of the best scenes of the movie, he creates a massive charge of his fellow lunatics. When dragged aside and asked what they were doing, he gleefully informs that he told those idiots that free biryani is available near the front gates. Then he is asked why he is running after them and he replies that he is also running because, “engaanum biryani kittiyalo”, which translates to “what if biryani is actually available”.

This wishing for a non-existent or rather improbable biryani, the “what ifs” are a defining part of us. This optimism for the improbable is intrinsic in our psyche and varies only in how far one is optimistic. Even the worst pessimist is an optimist. This optimism is expertly utilised by most advertisements. What if I become fair, what if I lose weight, what if I gain height, what if I get hair back etc etc etc. The entire betting industry revolves around this optimism. Everyone knows that out of a million lottery ticket holders, only one is going to win the bumper prize, yet they imagine themselves to be that person. The higher the odds, the more one feels confident that this is the day. Maybe that is also why four or five lakh odd people write the JEE, the AIEEE or the myriad entrance examinations where the selection percentage is less than one. Hope springs eternal.

How was I reminded of that “class” dialogue? That brings us to point after a long ramble in the neighbourhood of everything but the point. You must have noticed the current prominence of something called Zurker, apparently the creation of the losers of Facebook (bullshit of course, the makers are totally different people). Zurker is a new social network that they claim will revolutionise the entire concept of social networking, the iPhone of social networks if you will. Welcome to the community owned network where every networker is an owner of the network. It is their advertisement strategy that is brilliant, and is the subject of this post.

They promise every networker to get a share of the network when someone he/she recommends join it. The company goes public when a million shares have been distributed. With the IPO of Facebook expected to be of the order of several dozen billions of dollars, even the most pessimistic person is hoping for a share value of a few thousand at least. People are thus optimistically spamming on Facebook (the irony), Twitter, Gmail, blogs and every other possible place they can.

The leprachaun gold at the end of the rainbow is enough for people to tote out essays on why it could not fail and is a guaranteed source of income. Just reach that magic number and enjoy the loot. What could possibly go wrong? You just have to ask Google+, Orkut, MySpace, Friendster and the multitudes of networks that have come and gone with the wind. But if this optimism is changed, I guess we won’t remain humans anymore.

The thrill of the improbable, almost impossible, happening is something which lends magic to our lives, gives us something to look forward to. The underdogs pipping the favourites, the favourites pipping the underdogs expected to pip the favourites and so on. There are a gazillion million possible eventualities and life will be far the worse if robbed of the hope for the one single version that suits us. Life is beautiful as the most hoariest of cliches go.

In related news, you can join Zurker by clicking on this beautiful link. Of course I don’t want to be the one left without the metaphorical biryani though the literal one can go and stuff itself. Or do we stuff ourselves with biryani? God knows.

‘Til Later

PS: This post is an elaborate hoax to make you click that last link and add to my referral count.

PPS: I know that you know but just hoping 😉

PPPS: And that is 50 posts! Took a long time. Whatever!