Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yella OK Cooldrink Yakke

This is one of the funnier stories I have heard, and it is apparently true :-)
There is an advertisement in the fair state of Bengalooru and Mangalooru that features God Upendra (he is apparently the #3 God in the heirarchy of movie stars in Kannada cinema). The ad goes like this:

Upendra walks into a swaky restaurant. He takes of his 'cooling glasses' (Kannadiga for sunglasses) and surveys the place like to the manor born. On the far corner, who does he see but his sweetheart (!!!) coyly enjoying her coke with another man (heresy!!).
Our buddy walks over to their table, and stares at them with bloodshot eyes. He looks menacing. The poor couple cower...
Then he says - Yella OK, Cooldrink yakke? (Everything else is fine, why are you drinking a cold drink?)

Cut to a chilled bottle of Fosters beer!!!

I need a glass of Fosters now, to truly appreciate this masterpiece!!

Bong words I've learnt so far

They say that the words you first pick up in a new city most characterise the city. Although I have not heard anyone speak in Bengali in Calcutta(!!!) so far other than the tea guy, here are a few words I've picked up:

  1. fatafati: I think this is the local equivalent of Delhi's 'chak de phatte' (check an earlier blog for the meaning of that phrase)
  2. naika: This is an interesting word meaning a mix of 'chaloo', fussy, grating (used to describe women, and used only by other women incidentally :-). I heard this on a local radio channel where a girl said Ash-Abhishek should not marry cos Abhishek was sweet, whereas Aishwarya was very naika-naika
  3. hobe na: this is of course the catch phrase of communism. Literal translation is 'can't happen'. Everything has a stock reply - hobe na
  4. khobe: This is a Bengali word for ingest, as far as I have been able to figure out. So you can say bhat (rice) khobe, jol (water) khobe or even cigarette khobe
  5. ekta: This means one. So I have to tell the tea guy - ekta cha

Pumped up and on adrenalin

Staying up late for many nights does strange things to you. I noticed this only this morning, and the cause for this was that I've been having late nights (2-3 am) and early mornings (7am) for three nights in a row now. Although such periods have been a frequent occurance for a couple of years now, it was only today morning that I thought about this phenomena.

The effects of sleep deprivation are quite interesting. A major one is that of mood swings - I feel quite exhilerated right now (though not fully coherent), perhaps because of the adrenalin being pumped into my nervous system. However, I am also cognizant that by afternoon I will be completely deflated and snappy.

Another effect is on my appetite - I usually dont want to eat anything when I am sleep deprived. However, stimulants like tea and coffee are always welcome.

Usually such periods are followed by a bout of slight illness, like the flu or a cold. Though now since I am aware of this, I take enough precaution, like wearing warm clothes, and not ingesting any alcohol, and drinking plenty of water.

There is also an interesting effect on productivity. Because of the mood swings, the only way to maintain a decent work output is to work when peppy and chill when down. However, the problem is that when I'm peppy I never feel like working (for eg now - when I'm listening to Nirvana and blogging). So productivity takes a hit.

However, I also think that sleep deprivation addles your mind a bit and therefore makes you a bit more creative and lateral (for a short period of time).

What do you think?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Calcutta calling

I have been spending weekdays for the last two weeks in Calcutta. While I was quite apprehensive about going to this bastion of communism initially, overall it has been an interesting experience. A few impressions about the city:

  1. The food is amazing: roadside kathi rolls (available in such wondrous choices as double egg single chicken, single egg single chicken, single egg double chicken and various other permutations), greasy (yet cheap) Indian food at Mogambo, fish in mustard curry, aloo in mustard curry, everything in mustard curry, rosogolla at K C Das (and I am told by my maadu friends that I need to go to Tiwari to know what a samosa should be like, also need to try out phuchkas)
  2. The traffic drives one crazy: driving (even sitting in front of the car) is a heart-attack inducing experience. Once you navigate large cars on one fourth of the road (the other 3/4ths taken up by parked cars), you would do well to keep the horn pressed continuously to subtly let the meandering junta ahead of you know that they will be crushed unless they move. Of course the horn does not convey anything to them because its sound is drowned in the 500 other horns blaring.
  3. The people are fond of talking: period.
  4. The city moves on its own rhythm, which is difficult to understand for a commercially oriented person: e.g. at the airport, the snacks bar counter does you a favor by giving you the sandwich you want to eat. When he is present at the counter, that is. He is not interested in earning money, you see :-)
  5. The city loves to let its hair down: according to reliable sources, the discotheques and night clubs remain open till 6 am, at which time they serve breakfast!! Also you see a lot of women out partying and having a good time, much more than other cities. Even middle aged gents and ladies enjoy themselves listening to live rock bands.
  6. It still has trams plying in the middle of roads. Very British.

So far I have not been able to sample all of the city’s charms. Hope I have time to do so in the next few weeks.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A different take on work

Was sent this interesting post yesterday:

My take on this:
What if working for oneself if just an excitement that I am seeking? Will I be really as passionate about it as I will need to be? I first need to find my passion - then I wont care if I do that in a job or for myself.
Take no 2:
I think I know what my passion is - only I have not encountered much success following it for 7-8 years now. Therefore the need for security is making me hang on to my (admittedly superior, if not perfect) job.

A better Bond

I saw Casino Royale, the new Bond movie yesterday. The after effects of the movie are actually quite good. Daniel Craig, the new Bond, is quite the right person for the role. Here are a few reasons why the movie is good:
  1. It is realistic and gritty: this movie shows Bond as he should be – a fighter, gritty, reckless, lightning fast. Not some guy with attitude and loads of futuristic gadgets. Here it is about human effort, and Bond is how Ian Fleming intended him to be – a cold blooded killer, rough around the edges.
  2. Bond is vulnerable: James Bond falls in love!! And wants to quit life as a double zero. Till the object of his affection is killed in a gory scene. This also explains his attitude towards women in later movies.
  3. Bond makes mistakes: He loses all his money in a poker game against Le Chiffre and almost gets killed. He trusts the wrong people. The newly minted double 0 is learning through his mistakes.
  4. Daniel Craig: This Bond looks like he is just come out of a fight. He looks haggard and willing to break out in a scrap anytime. Doesn’t care how is martini is – shaken or stirred. A very guy’s guy. It works!!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What does it mean series 1: Chak de phatte

If there is one statement that characterizes Delhi (and I mean polite statement here :-), it would have to be ‘Chak de phatte’. I have heard this phrase in Delhi at multiple fora, by various people, carrying out various activities (usually on the dance floor, or on a cricket field, or generally in random conversations) Though I have heard (and used) this phrase many times, I did not know its meaning. So I decided to get to the bottom of the exhortation / exclamation.

I first checked with a couple of Punjabi buddies, but drew more or less a blank there. So I turned to big brother Google, and found a wealth of information. A couple of interpretations of this phrase struck me as relevant, which I thought worthwhile to reproduce here:

1) In olden times, whenever Sikh infantrymen attacked enemy Mughal camps, they would pull out the pegs of their tents, thus burying the enemy under the heavy fabric. These pegs were called ‘phatte’. Also, when these same dudes were running back to base camp, they would destroy any bridges (made of wooden planks) to prevent hot pursuit by the justifiably bemused enemy. The wooden planks are also called ‘phatte’. So to ‘chak de’ or take out the ‘phatte’ means to sock it to the enemy. Therefore whenever anyone needs to be encouraged, (s)he is wisely and enthusiastically advised to ‘chak de phatte’.

2) ‘Phatte’ is also synonymous with wooden floor boards. So when desi bands in the UK needed a cool phrase to hook their music (bhangra) on, they used a literal translation of ‘beat up the floor boards’ or chak de phatte

3) The best explanation is this one: the slit between the two pieces of cloth stitched together to make a kurta is called a chak. When this slit tears (phat jaana in Hindi) due to excessive dancing, it signifies ‘chak de phatte’ :-)

You could believe in any of these, but it is not important. What is important is that you continue to chak de phatte!!!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

...and already implementing some of it

Here is a typical travesty-of-justice kind of thing that we have become sadly immune to:

Interesting post I read today - kind of resonates with my line of thought on the issue:

An effort to improve...

I think this blog can be improved a bit. So far it has been deriving all its content from a single source and functions as (more or less) a broadcaster of one person's thoughts. This has a couple of problems:
1) It takes a lot to create new and interesting content
2) It is not interactive and does not leverage the interesting topics that you may want to discuss
3) It leads to limited readership

Here are a few suggestions on how these roadblocks can be overcome:
1) A redoubled effort from me to talk / write about more contemporary and current topics
2) Incorporation of third party content (acknowledged, of course!!)
2) Suggestions from you on what could be discussed (this could be in comments to any post / through mail to me directly)

What do you think? Should we try this for a couple of posts and see where it goes? Let me know...

Monday, November 06, 2006

A contrarian view

Saw Dor over the weekend. Since have heard and read multiple words of praise on it, couldn't resist throwing in my bits of wisdom, summarized in this statement - "Iqbal is much much better!!"

Friday, November 03, 2006

A strange meeting

I had a strange experience today. So strange that even now I am not sure how I feel about it. I met a very interesting person, who sounded uncannily like myself. Now I have been certified to be a confused lunatic by many (including my mother, who probably knows me best and is therefore right), but hearing my own thoughts and ambiguities echo in another person was really creepy.

I must have spent an hour and a half in this gentleman’s company, and we did not talk for even two minutes about the agenda items. Rather we talked about life and the decision making process. I will try to synthesize here what I recall out of the conclusions of the discussion, trying to straighten out my muddled thoughts:

1. Most of us go through life following “mind-patterns” (for want of a better term). All our decisions, all our actions are based on these patterns. It is as if we are programmed to behave in a certain way. As long as we do not question, we are happy. Introspection leads to conflict and dissatisfaction. As long as our thought pattern remains the same, we cannot fundamentally change our lives. And changing the thought pattern is nearly impossible, since that is how we are supposed to be (anyone reminded here of the Matrix, please bear with me – this will not end with a whimper like the Matrix Revolutions J). The only way to save ourselves from this pattern is to be aware of it and try to consciously act against it. (the example quoted of one common pattern was: I want to work for XYZ, because I want to prove myself better than the other people who cannot work for XYZ. Or, I will study at ABC because a lot of people want to study there, but cannot. I am significant in the scheme of things, and will prove this if I achieve success, money, fame. Achievement equals significance)

2. Whenever we take any decision, we never can know for sure how it will turn out. Even post the event about which the decision needed to be taken, we can compare it to an inferior situation and feel pleased with the decision, or we can compare it to a superior situation and feel dis-satisfied. So good or bad is not really about the event or the situation, it is actually about us.

3. There is really no answer to the question of life, the universe and everything, unless it is forty-two (apologies to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). There is no right or wrong, good or bad. Each one of us is insignificant in the scheme of things, and keeps fighting against this insignificance. Each one does whatever we do because we believe somewhere that what we are doing will make us significant.

4. If we let go of this mind pattern and accept that we are what we are, life becomes much more free. Freed of expectations, fears, desires, we can do what we really want to do.

Apologies for the heavy duty dose of rambling. Would love to know – is it only me who has such weird questions? Do you also wonder about the same things? Do you agree with what is written here?

Lessons from a surprise

I was watching the dying stages of the second semi-final of the Champions Trophy for cricket today. Watching the West Indies beat South Africa was a pleasant surprise, and brought to mind a few thoughts. Since I am constantly introspective, like making linkages between different events and love finding patterns in life, these could strike you as not pertinent or even relevant. Anyway, here goes:

Lesson #1: Life always turns a circle – the West Indies were not one of the top teams in the tournament and had to slug with the likes of Bangladesh and Kenya to enter the tournament. However they have beaten Australia, South Africa and India on route to the finals. I like to think of life as a sine wave, sometimes up and sometimes down. This is true for almost everything I have seen in my limited experience, as true as it is for the West Indies’ fortunes.

Lesson #2: When someone plays for pride, get out of the way. Indian coach Greg Chappell commented that the Windies had forgotten to win – Brian Lara and his team took that to heart and beat India in the next 7 games that they played. Lara always makes it a point to mention this after each game against India. Therefore I would never hurt a person’s pride and would never humiliate someone enough for them to want to get back.

Lesson #3: Nothing is lost for ever – the Indian cricket team (I don’t think too highly of them, by the way) need not despair. All they need to do is dig deep within themselves and find a pride, a reason to play. They can bounce back. As can each one of us.