Thursday, April 9, 2015

Arrey le lo, arrey nahi

Have you ever been caught in the seemingly endless game of "arrey le lo, arrey nahi"? It is that game that you must have played when your relative is about leave your house and furnishes a crisp note of five (or hundred) bucks.

I do not know how the tradition started but here is how it goes. The relative tries to give you money for being such a wonderful host, while (ideally) it is your duty to ward it off by any means possible. It is sanskari and something Alok Nath would approve of.

Now the way this is played depends on the gender as well. While your tauji/mausaji will just bellow at you and demand you to keep it, the foofa might give you hard cold "psuedologic" like "arrey jab kamane lagoge tab nahi denge!" (why is it needed in the first place, I wonder?) or as simple as "Baat suno rakhlo beta."

If the male relative is too tired or the other half just relishes this exciting game then you will find her frantically pacing around her temporary room, searching for notes from different corners of her bags, purses and that red mini blouse-purse. She will come up with a wonderful logic of her own, "Shaadi hogi tab tumhari bahu ko denge" (I am ten years old?!) or as simple as "Isse chocolate le lena".

As compelling as these arguments may sound, remember, pretend that you do not want the money at all! Pretend! Please give dialogues such as, "Yeh to bahut zyada hai <relatives's relation with you>ji" and then ever so slightly move away from them. You might want to send a quick smile to your parents as well, signalling that everything is according to their plan, while they stand ten feet away, proud their child refused. He is now a mature man. He is not. The art lies in making sure the relative tries again, "Baat suno, le lo", "arrey nahi".

The third party in this entire episode are your parents. After carefully negotiating with the relative you also need to be able to make sure that they understand that you tried to your fullest and The Adarsh is gushing through your veins. If you are at an expert level, you may experiment making a sad smiley face and exclaiming to your parents, "Yeh to maan hi nahi rhe", while ever so slowly immersing the new wealth in your pocket. A good act can make them empathize with your pathetic condition and may bring the entire episode to a close.

On the other hand, if you let it linger for too long the parents can lodge a strong protest bringing down amount you will kitty.
"Chaliye de dijiye lekin itne zyada nahi". The dialogue still haunts me.

After playing this intricate game, you may want to touch their feet and send them home with a warm smile, wondering when they will come back! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Saturday, February 1, 2014

100 percent!

This time everyone will get a chance“, they hissed, as they tried to protect it from them. It was a dull dark night when a congregation gathered around a shining white, rare artifact which appeared only once a year. The artifact was said to have such powerful magical effects that on consuming it would give ultimate happiness and bliss and would remove all the consumer’s grievances at once.

Everyone had gathered to be a part of it, they wanted to touch it, feel it and have a taste of it but were afraid of someone – the Marauders. For years and years they had infested the region and it was up to the Guardians to protect it. The Guardians had always failed miserably, the Marauders always overpowered them and broke their defenses. Even though The Guardians gave their best fight they were never able to match the impregnable strength and sheer willpower of the Marauders. It was said that the Marauders had taken an oath called “100 percent” under which they had no choice but to “take in possession of THE artifact whenever it appeared”. Anyone of the Marauders if failed was deeply humiliated and given far worse punishment then mankind could think of.

Tension grew, everyone held their breath as the ritual of human sacrifice was carried out, for the secret enchanted locks covering the artifact required sacrifice of a noble soul. “Nahi, please don’t do this to me. I don’t deserve this”, he yelled but no one paid heed. Sensing the crowd was not in any mood of showing mercy he quietly prayed and gave all his possessions to a dear friend. “Kill him!” the crowd jeered and lifted him up. He tried to struggle free and kicked about his hands and legs but to no avail. For the next five minutes he was subjected to brutal kicking and hitting by everyone. Then he was left free and pelted stones at even as he tried to run but couldn’t and finally gave up and fell down. The crowd realizing that their target was vulnerable washed him with immensely cold water till he made no movement and killed his spastic outbursts. As he lay there fully paralyzed there was a glint in everyone’s eyes since they knew that this time they had succeeded and would finally get to reap the rewards.
The locks were carefully decrypted and the sacrifice was put to use. Slowly the packaging was removed and the glow was stronger than ever. It was beautifully carved, symmetrical from all angles with neatly done edges. Its surface appeared to be as smooth as an oyster’s pearl and had intricate carvings of powerful spells while underneath there was a stronger foundation although it had properties resembling a sponge. The people circled around the prized possession and were about to read the enchanted lines when suddenly from behind, the Marauders, out of nowhere, attacked them. Panic spread while the Marauders threw the weak out of their way with utmost ease. The Guardians realizing this took fast action and formed a human chain out of them. “Certainly, we can’t fail this time “, the Guardians thought and in a split second decided to read out the enchanted words and consume it among themselves.

Meanwhile the Marauders sped through the rings of people and only the last layer was left. Sensing that the Guardians were about to execute the magical powers of the item and that their “100 percent” oath was in danger


The two groups shouted in unison and tried to grab as much of the BIRTHDAY CAKE as they could. Everyone tussled as they all tried to reach for the cake, some were lucky and got handful of cake while some got it swatted all over their shirt or ended dropping it. But one thing was for certain-

Yes! 100 percent record still not broken”  

Friday, January 31, 2014

Are u there??

Are u there?
Are u there?
#gets a stick
are you there?
#pokes with a wooden stick
(She-bunny not responding)
(Gets closer to she bunny)
#she bunny is seething with anger. She looks at him, he isnt that handsome, but there is something likeable
about him

#poke again
U there?
She looks at him for a brief moment and looks away instantly, disgusted by him
U there?
(throws away the wooden stick)
U there? Gentle poke
She looks at him, stares into his soul but doesnt respond
U there?
She is very agitated now by the incessant pokes
She signals her brain to do something. Brain flatly refuses
U there?
poke on her hand
She grunts to shoo him away
u there?
he moves even closer, she doesnt know how to respond. They are within inches now
Shes expecting a poke anytime soon
U there
No poke
Mildly surprised, she opens her mouth
Now shes outright angry
He moves even closer. She is resolute. She will not talk to him. By now her surfaces are touching his. She bunny feels sensations never felt before. Deep tingling sensations reverbrate throughout her body. Her heart is beating faster. She snaps back to reality
Her face is red, blood pumping across her body
U there
Strangely no poking this time
U there
again, no poking
The tingling sensation spreads across her body, her perfect derriere being grabbed violently. Her frontal lobes are hard yet glow softly, blood gushing to all parts of her body. She bunny looks at the heavens, jaw wide open as her bountiness is touched softly.
her anger has dissipated, another burst of sensation engulfs her. She is completely swallowed by pleasure as his tongue swoons down on her. He looks poignant, his eyes hold clarity and conviction.
she looks straight at him, anger subdued
im here!

The day the bookwallah stood still

(I wrote this a couple of years back. Thought i would put it up here as well. Looking back at this incident, i think i shouldn't have made so much fuss!)

It was a typical Delhi summer evening –hot, a bit humid and lots of traffic on the street. As hordes of cars and bikes dashed through the road in front of my apartment, I carefully made my way towards the market on the opposite side. I was going to pay a visit to the bookwallah and rent a novel. I had already paid him 110 rupees from which 55 had to be deducted since I was going to return Archer’s Only time will tell. A bit disappointed by it I had made up my mind that the next one would be from a different author, probably Ludlum.

Over the years the marketplace known as ‘sector 4 ka market’ had grown in popularity and shops. I still remember a few years back when the place had many shops in three storey buildings erected at regular intervals with space for parking in between. With rapid population growth (not a new thing in India), first came the indigenous burger thelewala who made burgers using aloo ki tikki and pav bhaji buns. The hungry population jumped at it. After all you did not get 15 rupees burgers full of butter and paneer in the bakery shops. Come now and you will realize how successful even a balloon seller is. I still cannot understand how he can sell them every day?! (It’s not as if this is some India Gate or a picnic spot where families hang around and buy their children a balloon! )

After five minute of walking past two complexes I found the bookwallah with a rickety wooden bed on which rows of books were placed, some old some brand new ready to go to a new home. My mind quickly ran through the arguments I was going to present to him in the hope of convincing him that the book he claimed to be a very interesting read wasn’t and he better give me a better deal for the next one.
Before I continue, let me introduce you to the golden rule of bargaining I have learnt over the past few years by watching family members, relatives and strangers arguing till the seller gave in to their demands. It is just like any other art. Some are born with it some aren’t. Unfortunately I never inherited these ‘bargaining genes’. Even a ten bucks discount would make me proud, but this time it was going to be different.

“Bhaiya, the last book you gave me was nothing which you had claimed it to be. I can’t imagine how you could call this the most popular book you have ever sold”, I said in a loud and clear voice.
“No problem. Try this one”, he pointed out at another book by Jeffrey Archer. A weak start but I calmly picked it up and read its synopsis at the back.

See the first rule of bargaining is to appear confident that you are a regular customer and hold great knowledge about the subject in question, in this case- novels. If you show even the slightest of a hint that you are interested in one particular book then he is going to make sure that you buy it at his price.

So I gently placed it back to its place and inquired about a few other books.
“Has the new edition of Digits come out? And also show me Linux For You”, while I picked up Chip. He diligently went to the other end of the bed and carefully picked them out. “Do you sell any other computer magazine?”

By this time he had probably realized that I was serious about buying something. He ignored a few other potential buyers and even gave me the privilege to take one of the magazines out of its cover to have a better look.

Realising that I had gained his faith, I quietly put down all the magazines and started browsing through novels. One of them which caught my eye was Khaled Hosseini’s “A thousand splendid suns”. I decided to hide my intention of acquiring it and instead picked up some other novel.

“A great pick. This is the last copy”
“But I want it on rent. How much for it?”
“Sixty rupees”
“That’s too much”
“Fixed price”
“But last time you had said that old novels cost less”
“Prices have increased. Everything costs so much nowadays.”
“But I asked you two days ago”
And the bookwallah stood still. I was about to enjoy my moral victory when he quipped, “I increased the prices yesterday itself”.

I acted as If I never heard him and continued to browse through other books. Finally I picked up Hosseini’s novel and enquired its price. His reply was the same. Annoyed with his attitude I decided to give another bookseller a try and asked for my remaining security deposit.

At this point you might feel that I was acting too miserly but give me a chance to explain myself. A typical bookwallah usually charges around sixty bucks if you rent a fairly popular novel written by Sheldon or Archer. The prize goes up to ninety if you happen to like JK Rowling or Dan Brown. An average reader, busy with other things, usually takes around a week to finish one off. And here I was, on a vacation with not much to do completing a novel in two or three days. I just could not see myself spending hundreds of bucks on second hand novels every week especially when I knew that these guys bought it at the same price that they gave it on rent. Go visit Nayi Sarak in Delhi if you don’t believe me.
But more startling was his reply.

“That is not possible. I have been given strict instructions from my uncle not to give any remaining amount in someone’s account. You just have to buy some other book from it”.

Strike one!

This was something unexpected. Have you ever imagined being refused money given as a security deposit? I regained composure and demanded my security deposit back. He tersely replied that it was not possible and served another customer.

A bead of sweat trickled down my neck. This was no longer about bargaining but rescuing money which was rightfully mine. I silently waited till he walked back to his rickety stool and sat back. This time I took a few steps towards him and asked him angrily, “So you are saying you are not going to give me MY money? Do you think I am going to listen to all the rubbish you are telling me?”. He was certainly taken aback by my act of aggression and this time in a lower voice said, ”I cannot do anything. My uncle has told me not to return any deposit”.

“Where is he right now?”
“He is attending a wedding in his native village”
“Does that really concern me? All I need is the remaining balance. You are ripping everyone off”. The conversation went on and on for several minutes. Infact a few people stopped by and started to take interest in our heated argument.

He kept on arguing that he was bound by his uncle’s instructions and took out his mobile.
“Yeah go on, talk to your uncle. Let’s see what he says.”
“I am not. I just want to know the time”.

Strike two!

I had never felt this helpless. This was certainly not in the plan. I tried to take control of the situation by browsing around another bunch of novels. While my hands flipped through pages my mind was busy thinking of a new ‘rescue’ plan. Another round of reasoning failed.
“See I am not gonna leave till you give me my security deposit. Or you could try give me a novel at a fair price.”
“That’s not possible”
“Fine, I am taking this book. How much for it?”, I picked up A thousand splendid suns.
“I told you, sixty rupees”
“You already have my fifty five rupees.”
“Fine this time I will allow you, but next time I’ll take the full amount”. He was obviously tired of arguing and decided to allow a five rupee concession.

A home run!

What he had forgotten was that I had taken a book without giving him any additional security deposit and now I basically owned the book! I briskly walked and after a few moments looked back.
The bookwallah stood still. For a moment I thought he had realized his mistake and might call me back but he stood still as he waited to serve another novel enthusiast.

People love to showcase their prized possessions. Whenever you visit someone’s house you will be greeted with these wonderful statuettes given to them as a prize, or maybe a plaque boasting their achievement. Come to my house and you will find a small yellow cover novel resting peacefully in the display cabinet.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Pooja,Poori and preparation

When I told my parents that I was planning to leave for chandigarh the next morning at around 6, they gasped. As they looked at me in horror, my dad asked "but how will YOU get to the station in time? I don't think you will be able to make it in time. Will you be able to wake up by 5?"

"Why do I need to wake up at 5? The train departs at 7:40. That's pretty late, that's 8AM. 8 is alright?!" Shocked they quietly went to bed.

I woke up at 6. After brushing, going through my daily chores and deodorizing myself, I was ready. It was 6:20. I was the modern traveller, I thought proudly. Practical and efficient. No pooja, no pooris. The thought got me thinking. The answer was right there in front of me! The train had always departed at 7:40 but what was different was how my parents and probably every middle class approached the whole concept of "travelling".

In those times IRCT had not been launched and the pantry service was severely disorganized and pathetic. Indian Railways was the typical Babu, lethargic and insensitive. Trains were routinely late and sometimes one needed a calender and not a watch to keep track of a train's progress. Obviously the family needed to be fed some great quality food while everyone stared at a stationery jungle or a farm in the middle of nowhere.

And the perfect food was the humble puri and jeera-aaloo or aaloo-gobhi and or nimbu ka achaar. I wondered why we never had simple rotis/chapatis/phulkes?  My mom's argument was that puris were easier to cook. You just had to throw the dough in fried oil and voila.

So the Mother would wake up an hour earlier to cook puris. Thus instead of 6 she would have had to wake up at 5. 

But wait?! What about thakurji (he demands attention and respect, thus the bold font) residing in the small temple in our homes? Surely He could not have been left "unprayered" and "unbathed" for so many days. Pooja had to be performed before leaving. Moreover it couldn't be performed by a dirty squalor. Therefore an absolute prerequisite for pooja was that you had to have a bath.An extra hour. Poor Mother should now wake up at 4. 

Meanwhile Dad would refuse to budge unless he was given chai.It is still unknown why it is the last thing he must do before leaving the house.No one can deprive him of those fifteen, tranquil, minutes when he happily sipped tea.

As you can clearly see this graph shows the time taken to get ready vs year/era. The  reason for such a high spike before Kalyug is probably the havans and poojas everyone performed before doing anything. I mean Bhagwan Ram didn't just wake up, put on some indigenous deodorant (neem pattis?) and left for Gurukul. No sir. Infact the whole family performed lots of poojas for many days before He was allowed to leave.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Beware of the Black Dog

A youtube clip grabbed my attention recently. Since then I watch it whenever I feel bored/tired/sad/sick/tired/annoyed. It's a clip from a very popular Bollywood movie and the scene gave me goosebumps the first time I saw it. Without holding you on further, here is the link.

For those of you who could not understand Amrish Puri's dialogue for whatever reasons here is the punchline, quite literally-

How horny Puri's blood cells look like
Did you notice how subtly the director has been able to connect Black Dog whiskey with Amrish Puri's inner dogs? Or that music? India's own hip hop music! Music aficionados would have correctly spotted the base beat as this-;;

And how come we never tried tipping waiters beforehand?! I mean, who doesn't want a superior service? And it works too! Observe carefully and you will realise the waiter already knew that Puri will reject "Chivarse" Regal straightway and therefore kept a bottle of Black Dog with him. The screenwriter thus convinces us, the viewers, that tipping early does help!

On the other hand, Prem Chopra's acting is quite dismal. What kind of a word is Amaiyya?!? Imagine sitting in a nice place with a friend and saying Amaiiya, are you alright today? ( And you certainly don't say Mmmmmhmmmm kya baat hai ( You say that when you have delicious pakodas not while Puri describes you about his inner dogs!

Bollywood rocks!