Friday, May 29, 2009

Perhaps I just don't get it

It's quite funny. It reminds me of your blog, she said.

Now since Ka is someone with a rather refined sense of humour, I felt quite elated at the time. Right now - not so much.

But wait ... I seem to be getting ahead of myself.

In January of this year, I woke up in Gurgaon one morning, having spent the night at T's place. While T and S were still slumbering, I was sitting in aunty's room, chatting away with aunty, Ka and Ka's better half - Sands; when I happened to notice a white covered novel with random caricatures on it, and the catchy title of "Dilli Toh Pagal Hai".

What's this?, I asked, hoping to be able to steal another one of T's novels (I had "borrowed" "Are All Women Leg Spinners" once upon a time, but liked it enough to warrant never giving it back. Small sacrifice for him, considering the rubbish he has put me through, which includes but is not limited to stealing my money, hiding my shoes and convincing me to walk to the Principal's office in my socks and having it announced on the school's PA system, leaving me to walk through a highly foggy Delhi winter night in the middle of some Godforsaken colony, having me slapped by that idiot music teacher, made me lie to save his ass and etc.). Unfortunately, it belonged to the always sweet (to me) and ever-satark (as in cautious) Ka, who went on to explain that it was a collection of short stories, essays rather, about Delhi ... and that *insert first line here after converting to past tense*.

I puffed up my chest and resembling a cockatoo more than ever (my hair does really strange things when I wake up), let out on articulate "Oh really" (no wonder I'm such an accomplished writer!). I would have gone on to read a bit of it (and saved myself the ... no no G, keep them guessing ... long post long post), but just at that moment came a harpy-ish wail of "Mummmaaaa breakfasssst". It's up, we all exclaimed together, and braced ourselves for T. But that's another tale for a different time.

The thought of DTPH remained with me for two reasons - I absolutely adore anything (specially anything funny) being written/directed/made about Delhi, and two - like a white cat under a villain's ring-ed palm, my ego had been stroked. Purrr indeed.

So as it happened, I found myself in South Ex one evening, and walked into Tekson's (does it have an apostrophe?) bookshop ... and sure enough, there it was - displayed front and center - Dilli Toh Pagal Hai. Rs. 195, said the flourescent sticker. Hmm ... must be worth it, I thought. Picking it up, I walked over to the cashier - some totally daft woman who was more interested in giggling over the telephone than serving paying customers. Polite boy that I am, I waited. She looked up all of a sudden, gave me an annoyed look for having disturbed her (I am sure) idiotic conversation (but please note - she was still very much on the bloody phone), and held out her hand. I gave her the book, 200 rupees, and a big fat zero in customer care. Needless to say, my smile had been replaced with scorn and disgust - two emotions which, I am told, I do not have difficulty displaying. As if!! ... anyhow, she put the book in a bag (chalo, at least some basic sense - or it could simply have been a Pavlovian reaction. Whatever.) along with my bill, and handed the bag to me. And looked away!!!! Dumb bitch. I did not budge a frikkin inch, and in my most contemptuous voice, asked - WHERE IS THE CHANGE? She looked up again, clearly confused at having been unable to complete her simplistic simian duties, looked at something on her screen (I presume it was the bill), and gave me a 5 rupee coin. I sincerely hope she was not talking to her future husband, for I feel I would have done another human a grave disservice indeed at not having informed him that he was about to marry someone with an IQ of minus 8 billion.

As I was saying ... I bought the book, and left.

I read the very first story (The ABC of D(elhi) - what a smart title) in the auto on my way back home. And remember chuckling away, since Shivjeet Kullar was indeed quite funny. Yes yes, I said to myself - what he writes is certainly true. What an astute observer. Ha ha. Or was it one of those laughs that you force out of yourself because you expect something to be funny? You know - kind of like how a dish HAS to be tasty just because some famous chef prepared it. Welcome to Gordon Ramsey's restaurant - Trotters, anyone? So I was amused, but forgot all about the book once I tucked myself into bed at night and picked up Asimov to finish the third of the Foundation novels. Which, by the way, are brilliant!!! And DTPH rested on the side table, and made its way back to San Diego with me at the end of my vacation. And then hung out with the other books in my highly messy bookcase. (How very LOTR this sounds!)

Until today.

Sidenote - will I ever get to the point? Yes ... now. End sidenote.

Today being the day that I caught the red eye to the east coast. And having a serious dearth of reading material, picked up City of Djinns (which I hope to finally finish reading) and the novel around which this tale is being spun.

You will go mad with laughter - proclaimed the publisher. Beware, you'll fall off your balcony laughing - said one reviewer. You cannot live in Delhi and not read this book - said another. Aah, a good time is going to be had - said I. The lady sitting next to me surreptitiously glanced at the novel, wondering (no doubt) whether I was about to start reading Letters to Penthouse or some such. How silly. If that had been the case, I obviously would have said - Aah, a jolly good time is going to be had.

And I moved on to story two - ABC of Punjabis. Umm .. ok. Kinda like the first one, but I'm sure it's going to get better. A to Z of Punjabis was followed by something called Arey Mainoo Bhi Karna Hai!, Kabhi Affair Mat Kehna, and Mine Is Bigger Than Yours. I read on, and kept waiting ... waiting for an end that wouldn't come ... ooh, see what I did there? ... I took that famous line (haan it is famous) from Titanic and used it in a totally different context. Literary genius I am. Well the end didn't come because I read some more and then decided to blog about it, there-by never getting to the last story, but what I was going to say did not come was the laughter. Or even a smile. Admittedly, there were a couple of lines that were funny - but I would still have been very much sane and alive even if I was sitting on the ledge of my balcony and reading this book.

I understood what he was trying to do here - take incidents that we all see on a daily basis in Delhi, and put a hilarious spin on them. Except for the hilarious part. Or the spin. He just ended up stating the obvious - as if he was someone remotely funny ranting to himself. Or on a blog.

Uh oh.

See why the afore-mentioned elation at Ka's comment evaporated?

But I'm not someone who writes for a newspaper, and my columns have not been converted into a supposedly highly funny book. (Jealous much?). But I paid almost 200 rupees for this, and I wanted my money's worth. Which, I am sorry to say, I most certainly did not get. Now I must agree that a few stories I read were indeed quite touching. But I did not want to read Chicken Soup for the Delhi-ites Soul. I paid for a book to make me laugh, and it did not keep its promise. Which obviously makes me feel cheated. To me, his humour was childish at best. Allow me to give you a couple of examples (I'll pick the "poems" since the stories will take a little bit to type):

Page 25: The Bootiful Mrs. Khanna-ji

This is Mrs. Khanna, she'll make you dance to her tune
She rarely ever smiles, maybe once in a blue moon
Many years ago, she looked quite hot
Now when he hubby sees what he's got
He wonders how on earth someone blew her up like a balloon

Page 48: The Happy Gay Designer

Meet Anshu the designer - so happy and gay
Always smelling so nice - be it night or day
His clothes are so very posh
As he says, 'Oh dear' or 'Oh gosh'
And he parties every night - be it December or May

What ... the fuck??

I have put the book away now, and do not plan to get to it again. Ever. If any of you are interested, let me know and I will be happy to let you borrow it. It certainly is not worth buying.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wait ... am I Enya?

Once upon a time, a girl broke my heart.

Wow ... even as I write this, it seems so corny ... not because it didn't hurt at the time (it actually did - and I went out and got drunk and then bitched about her to with my friends, and then felt even worse!), but because it seems like such ancient history, specially since she and I are, and have been, once again friends for some time now.

But really, the point of this post is not to talk about her or about what happened (not entirely, at least). It's to talk about time. And how it really does ... I don't want to use the word "heal" ... allow you to move on.

To move on, and reach a point (of course, after going through a whole range of feelings - sadness, anger, confusion, indifference ... and a return to normalcy?) where you no longer have to be sad and/or bitter about things having gone sour, and can instead finally be at a place where you can once again be friends with the person, even though the friendship you once shared has inherently changed. I don't mean that things have become either better or worse, they're just ... different. And different does not always have to mean bad.

You have lost the awkwardness that inherently creeps in when you want to say so much, but cannot; and instead remember the reasons why you were fond of someone. And you feel that you have grown ... have become more sensible ... and are ready for a new beginning. One which may not have the same end as you once thought was destined to be, but which allows you to be yourself once more. Perhaps a more guarded self, but yourself nevertheless. And you can laugh once again. At yourself. At them. With them.

And all it took ... was time.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Current mood

Dream
Send me a sign
Turn back the clock
Give me some time
I need to break out
And make a new name
Let's open our eyes
To the brand new day
It's a brand new day

- Ryan Star

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Seven Cs ...

... of Shinok's visit to SD:

Convivial
Cogitative
Catty
Communicative
Cerebral
Confusing
Curtate

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Engineers are crazy

Why in the world do people not think before they open their mouth? Yes yes, of course I am very much at the top of this list. I present - Exhibits A through D ...

(A) The VPs team has a party with food, beer and champagne, after which there is a lot of food left over, so everyone's taking some home. The (portly) director seems to have loaded a big tray with a ton of stuff, and as he's walking out, the following conversation ensues:

Dept. Secretary: Director, who is this for?
Director: Hehheh, doggy bag!
Me (slightly tipsy, I guess): Oh God ... how big is your doggy?

(B) This high up manager is talking to this another high up manager (In India), about how Indian Manager and this woman engineer need to sync-up and align their ideas and then give us all a joint report.

Manager: I think she and you should hook up and let us know how it went.
India Manager: Yes, we'll get together tomorrow and have some results soon.
Me (thinking): So ... 9 months from tomorrow would be ...

(C) I had taken my intern out for lunch the other day, and we were generally talking about family and stuff after he told me that his mom was visiting from Korea. I knew he was married, so I just happened to say:

Me: So, do you have kids?
Intern: No, but I'm trying very hard!!

(D) Now a cardinal rule of male restroom etiquette (hah .. in your face, Miss Manners!) is that you absolutely do not talk. You step in, you avoid as much eye contact as you can, you go about your biznazz, you shake it no more than three times (any more and you're playing with it), you wash your hands, and you leave. It's all a highly simple process, with no room for conversation.

So I'm in the process of answering Mama Nature's call, and standing next to me is this dude (yes .. how creepy!!), and in walks his boss ... brace yourself now ... not to pee, but to talk before they both head on over to the same meeting!! WTF??

Boss: Creepy dude, do you have the data for XYZ study?
Creepy McSmiley: Yes, it looks good.
Boss: Can I see it?
Me (thinking): Umm ... is he still asking about the data?

I mean seriously, how can anyone blame me for not being able to concentrate at work?!?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Dear Diary - Day 1

My memory isn't what it used to be.

Isn't this something people over 45 should be saying? But it's been happening to me more than I would like over the past few days. I'd be in the middle of doing something, and I'll suddenly think about doing something different, and then in two seconds flat, I'd have no idea what that was!! WTF!!!

As I grow older, I'm obviously going to get more and more forgetful. And then this day will come, when I'll be sitting on the porch of my house in the Hamptons (take that, Chet!! :D) and I would say to myself ... Hmm, what was I doing on the 1st day of May in the year 2009? And I would smile benignly, recalling that that was the day I decided to start blogging every single day, and would hence have a record of all the wonderful things that have been a part of my life for so many years!

Sidenote - Now if this isn't a wonderful plan, I don't know what is. But as dear N would agree, my best laid plans .. and etc! - End sidenote

And so I would think of this day, and would read about two things ... one - how I've slowed down at work, and two - how it sucks to be single on an evening as romantic as this one. And my ever prying inquisitive mind would wonder why I wrote such things, and luckily there would be more to read (I mean how cool am I - planning for my future pass times in this manner!!! - rhetorical question - no reply necessary in the comments, please!!).

The slowing down at work has happened quite literally, actually - I still work my butt off every single day, but I don't kill myself doing it. I have stopped feeling guilty if ever I reach work past 9:30am, and I make it a point to leave no later than 7 in the evening. I still check my mail over the weekends, but I don't care to respond or to go into work to get stuff done. I know I'll still spend long hours when there is a tapeout due, but that's going to be the exception rather than the rule. Now I haven't really examined whether I'm doing this because I'm sick of my job, because I crave a change, or simply because I've realized that work is always going to be there - but I do know that I'm happier and much less stressed out. And shouldn't that be reason enough?

What would have made this free time in the evenings even better would have been having someone to share it with (or, as GMAT would teach us, having someone with whom to share it .. what-evaah!!) ... specially today evening. The weather is just phenomenal - it's breezy without being cold - the kind of night that would make you want to sit on your porch and ... and read a blog you had written many years back (oooh ... what spooky foreshadowing this is .. future me is going to totally freak!!), or perhaps go for a long walk, or sit on the stone down at La Jolla shores and look out into the sea - staring at nothing ... hearing the tumultuousness of the waves around you, and still feeling completely at peace - it's the kind of night that makes me wish I was at some particular points of time in my past - times that made me truly happy - when life was much less complicated, and I was young (well .. young-er, anyways) .. and different.

And then a similar breeze would blow, and I would look up from my laptop (or whatever contraption I would be using at the time to read this), smile, and realize that my career choice to write soppy romance novels was indeed the right one.