Posts filed under ‘Humour’

A day without the internet

Nostalgia is usually referred to the fond memories of quite a distant past in one’s life but in a world where technology and gadgets seem to set the pace and purpose of our lives, I tend to become nostalgic of a very recent past. It was a time when internet was not yet a word found in the dictionary and being “Mobile” was a liberating state, often because of the two-wheeler, that allowed you to hop from one place to another. In that bygone era, I could hum a favourite number to my heart’s content as I enjoyed a cool shower in the bath without being rattled by the out-of- the- tune ring tone of the mobile. I also could drive my car relaxing in the serene pleasant morning weather without being jolted out of my wits by the SMS alerts. While on a holiday, I could enjoy a trek to the remote mountain shrine without having to look for an internet access point to check my official mails and merrily spend on my credit card without being reminded of the burgeoning amount I owe each time I swipe the plastic. Those days seems now to belong to an alien planet but the desire to revisit such a life remains pretty strong.

And when the internet connection at home was not working one Sunday morning, I thought my deep longing for freedom from the virtual world was about to be realised. But by the end of the day, I was in total disarray and disoriented with the lives around me that the very thought of another day without internet access sent shivers down my spine. Because on that fatal Sunday, I could not do the following:

1. The customary Sunday Skype chat: No internet also means a communication break-down with friends and family members who are spread across the globe. With Skype I could video chat with each one of them for hours on end and topics would range from the silliest to the more meaningful ones and none really cared to hang up as no one really paid for the service. And when I was not signed-in on Skype, I had upset a plethora of people that ranged from a niece who wanted to share the picture of her fiancé and get instant approbation from me to my mother who is keen to keep track of the Sunday menu at his son’s home situated some three thousand kilometres away.

2. A presence in the Facebook :  Your earthly existence has no meaning if you do not have a presence on the facebook and if you are not signed-in your fb account, it could trigger a panic reaction among your contacts. From a mild SMS message to trans-continental calls on to the mobile to confirm that nothing has gone untoward, the enquiries that were made to me on that Sunday easily surpassed the entire personal messages that I have so far received in the year. And when your wife and daughter are also vanishing on the fb, you have the added responsibility to assuage the feelings of their anxious friends and it would call for all your convincing skills to rise up to the occasion. I would never again face a scenario thrown up by not being in facebook!

3. Online ticket booking : Sunday is the time when you check-out the best options for your holidays and book the cheapest tickets available before they get dearer or worse still, sold-out. With internet off the air, an opportunity to plan and budget your trip was gravely missed on that Sunday, the last one before the day of departure.  And when your family come to know of your faux pas in making timely arrangement for their holidays, the Sunday could verily turn into a sorrowful day with each one reminding you of their prophetic statements “I told you so”.

4. The online games of the children:  In a house where there are no PlayStation or X-boxes, online gaming are the much sought after recreation, more so on a Sunday.  And when there is an insurmountable road-block to fulfil such trivial desires, I too felt very hapless. Next time there is an internet break-down, I am afraid that I may have to shell out wads of currency to get that black thing with lot of consoles connected to the TV.

5. Old movies on Youtube:   When you can watch the movie released yesterday on the television, there is no way you could watch decades-old films and relieve your memories of yesteryears other than, of course, on the Youtube. With anything from silent to black and white pictures loaded into it, it is the ultimate blessing for the movie bluff and when on a Sunday you are denied the pleasure of watching your childhood superstars gyrating to bygone foot-tappers, you wish you were working on a Sunday.

And other less important things that I missed out on that fateful Sunday were the online money transfer, the official mails from colleagues who worked the previous night, the customary log-in to my  WordPress account to check from which part of the globe people visited my blog etc etc.

Oh internet, how indispensable you are to the modern man!

Yours

Narayanan

June 22, 2012 at 9:11 pm 1 comment

A Diwali gift

Diwali is one occasion when people let loose their wallet and pull all stops to gift their near and loved ones with presents they would cherish, and cost really isn’t a barrier to such offerings of the heart. And this Diwali, Shreya decided to present her lovely grandma with something memorable and why would she not do it? After all, she just got her first pay and would want to splurge it on someone who is so very special to her. She has always been the darling of her Granny and now it’s her turn to celebrate their relationship in a befitting way.

“Granny, I would want to present you such a gift this Diwali that you would admire it for many Diwalis to come and here you have an option to choose one from the two. Tell me, what would I present you, a Blackberry or an Apple”

“Apple or Blackberry for Diwali? Darling, we give sweets to each other on this occasion. And talking about sweets, I have a whole list of my favourites… From the juicy Gulab Jamuns to the crispy Soan Papidis and the saucy Jeelabis . And in our times, we use to make all of them at home unlike these days where you just lift the gift-wrapped stuff from a shop. But at this age I might need to take insulin shot before I could even take a look at these.”

“No, Grandma, nothing doing. I would present you nothing less than an Apple or a Blackberry .Come on Granny, which one would you like to have”

 “Oh dear one, I would prefer an apple for a blackberry any day.  A bite of an apple never let’s you down to cheer up unlike the blackberry which has an obnoxious touch and feel about it. By merely smelling an apple, I can even tell you where the stuff was grown… But how on earth you want me to cherish these fruits for the rest of my years… And I hope you are not planning to give me plastic ones….everything is plastic these days you see… the lamps, the flowers, the smiles….” 

“Oh, you thought I would be that stupid to present the sweetest and the prettiest of all the grannies in the world with a tiny fruit? I mean the Apple Ipad or the Blackberry mobile, Granny….. Okay let me make the choice for you….  I would buy you the latest version of Apple Ipad and I bet you would love to have it.”

“ Apple Ipad ?”

“Yeah an IPad…and you know, in an Ipad you don’t require a mouse to open a window?”

“I anyways don’t need mouse to open the window. In fact, your grandpa used to catch rats and mouse and throw them out of the window with his hands…on to the fields”

“I mean the Ipad is all touch-screen, Granny…. you can run and operate any application by merely touching on the screen at the right places. Even a child can work, nay play, on an Ipad and it is so much fun. It’s the lightest tablet around”

“Oh, thanks for reminding about the tablet, my sweetheart… I forgot to have my BP tablet this morning ….it is so light and small, I always misplace it. I almost lost the tablet given by the doctor for the virus infection…. It was so tiny, you see”

“Oh Granny you need not have to worry about virus infections any longer and that is absolutely great news! This Ipad tablet will never get a virus. You can download any stuff from the internet and it will automatically be virus-screened which would mean you can safely surf the net and browse any site without the machine getting infected”

“Surf for the nets?  It is never safe. It is always just dry dusting for the nets and they will last for generations. Your grandpa once washed the imported nylon mosquito nets presented on our wedding with surf and entire stuff got torn down to shreds.  If you want, you can put them under the morning sun to make them bugs-free.

“In the Ipad, there is absolutely no chance of any bugs either, Grandma. It is so finely designed that bugs in its software is a definite impossibility”.

“ Soft wears will never have bugs darling. It is always the heavy woollens which are the breeding grounds for the bugs. And for woollens you can safely use surf but it has to be washed only in cold water. Otherwise the designs would just fade off”

“ This Ipad is a design master-piece which would remain a connoisseur ’s choice for years  and just won’t fade-off in a hurry. Its smart cover is as beautiful as the machine itself and transforms into a stand when you open it. It is sleek, trendy and comes in hues of colours. You can show all your applications as icons in it and they will be displayed on the screen. With just a touch on the icon, you can download your favourite music, movies, books or anything that you want from the scores of app stores… Isn’t that amazing….”

“Why do I need to download these myself when I can get them home delivered from the Appu’s store downstairs. His store has all these stuff and much more and the delivery time is zero that it reaches our home just in a flash”.

“That’s the only problem Granny. You cannot run a flash application on an Ipad. But the other features in it more than compensates for this little glitch. You can connect to wi-fi, check your mails, chat with other grannies and even see them live on the facebook…”

“ I am bored of seeing them face-to-face everyday and now you want me to have a whole book with their faces?  Oh I only want to hold my lord in my memory.  ”

“With the kind of memory that an Ipad has, you can hold the lord and all his creations in it. The Ipad is the final parting gift to humans from the great Steve Jobs”

“I am not yet ready to receive a parting gift and still have some more jobs to do. And instead of Ipad, why don’t you gift me a padlock with which I could secure my things as I travel to my native village?”.

“What an idea Granny?”.

“No baby, just thinking different.”

 Yours

Narayanan

October 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm 8 comments

Forty something

The tightened belt struggles hard to rein in his ever expanding waistline while the protruding tummy makes him lose his buttons at periodic intervals. The pitch dark hairs are slowly giving way to sparsely spread strands of silver as the once piercing eyesight now demands spectacles to decipher the fine prints.  There is a noticeable lax in the strides which are no longer brisk nor breezy and the snail-paced cruising of the car is a pale shadow of his famed formula styled racing of yesteryears.  A compulsive devourer of anything that is eatable now studies the fat content of the bottled lime water before taking the first sip and also keeps an antacid tablet handy, just in case the citrus juice triggers a bout of acidity in the digestive tract.  And when the “once-upon-a-time”  daring, experimenting and risk-taking individual now craves for stability and shows an overarching desire to maintain the status quo, you bet the guy is now in the forty something years of his earthly existence.

And if the guy is the one who is genetically predisposed to shed his locks early on, a visit to the salon during the forties would prove to be a very exercising and also an expensive experience. With a very limited supply of widely dispersed strands, the barber, nay the hairstylist, would need to deploy all his hairdo skills to reasonably conceal the shining pate and the money the person need to shell out for this delicate job would be inversely proportional to the density of the tuft on his head. And even after all the expertise of the tress were put to lavish use, if he is still dissatisfied to that modicum of a dark cover, he is sure to be gently reminded that one cannot possibly hide an elephant under a mud pot. With the add-on service of a discounted facelift massage that promises to drop years from one’s face, the guy definitely would look poorer, if not younger.

The waning of the youth and the advent of the middle age is announced through well-calibrated indications that start with the subtle whispers of the occasional bodily aches to the more pronounced reflections in the mirror, to the loud proclamations of the younger people around who spot the phenomenon and seldom forget to remind the guy of its vital signs.  Along with exaggerating the mild physical changes that the body display, they also highlight the antique value of his two-year-old mobile, look at his glittering Rolex watch with an archaeological curiosity and keenly study the contours of his well-fitting pants as if it was a costume wear of a period film. For them he is the representative of a bygone era, reminiscent of an age untouched by the liberating influence of Gucci, Messi or 3G.  The guy would be pleased when a teenager, considering his saltish-pepper crown, extends a courtesy to drop him to the nearby store in the bike, but when a stunning beauty in her early twenties, displaying a sizzling figure and a terrific attitude, passes by and wishes him “Nameste Uncle” in reverential tone, his heart bleeds and bleeds profusely.

But he is not the one who would take things lying down and let the world move ahead while he gazes at it like an ancient monument. He picks up the trendiest wears in the town, checks in to the most happening places in the town, checks-out the latest fashion accessories in vogue and chills at the coolest spots. He brushes up his lingo with the latest Facebook idioms, plugs-in to the latest music from the apps store and joins the neighbourhood gym to tuck in the tummy and to tone-up the muscles. He is now seen more often in t-shirts and in skin-hugging jeans and has, of late, acquired an additional bounce to his steps. At forty, the guy has become damn naughty!

But he soon realises that forties is not all about greying hairs and slowing lifestyles. It is also a spectacular reminder of the deepening life experiences and the blossoming of wisdom that accompany it. The bespectacled face symbolizes a keen intellect sharpened by years of scholarly pursuits and each silver hair represents the maturing of the person achieved but only through years of grounding in the university called Life. The treasured old gadgets signifies the value that we need to attach to products that truly serve our purpose and not be carried away by every passing fads while, the balancing and stabilizing approach towards life is an anchor sheet to still life’s occasional tempests.

Forties indeed are the finest years of our lives!

Yours

Narayanan

September 12, 2011 at 10:33 pm 9 comments

Fast, the new fad!

One of the most endearing scenes from my childhood years is the site of the vernacular calendar hung strategically at a wall in our house such that all glances fell on it very easily. The calendar, called the “Thadhi Calendar” in Tamil, had a picture of one of the innumerable deities of the Hindu pantheon and 365 tiny tear-sheets stapled on it from which my mother would tear off one every dawn as part of her morning religious ritual. Each of these sheets would carry data on the positions and movements of the celestial bodies during the course of the day that could make the most exhaustive Wikipedia post on the subject look very pedestrian. And to decipher those plethora of fine-printed almanac information calls for a training in astrology, religion and mathematics that only a school of zealously guarded traditional upbringing could offer. The monthly highlight of the calendar for the family is the “Ekadesi”, the eleventh day of the lunar month, the day on which my grandmother would invariably observe a fast.

Ekadesi, literally translated, would mean “one plus the tenth day” and the preparation for the event starts well on the” Desami”, the tenth day itself.  My mother would grind the wheat very coarse and soak it overnight which would form the main ingredient of the grandmother’s frugal meal once she decides to call off her fast well into the night of the Ekadesi day. Granny would spend the best part of the waking hours on that day in rituals and in contemplation and once tired of them, would resort to loud reading of some religious texts. And with night falling, she would partake her meal of sweetened wheat gruel and share a portion of it with all in the house. Everyone in the family would relish the unique recipe and would keenly look forward to the next Ekadesi! Grandmother continued this fasting austerity month after month, for years and decades and she believed it to be her sure-shot passport for a place in the heavens.  Fasting was thus a spiritual exercise for her, a tool for communion with the divine. 

What is essentially an austerity to please the gods, fasting, in the hands of Anna, morphed into a coercing technique to ruthlessly bring the “powers that be” to the knees.  And when Anna fasted, the government initially fumed, then fumbled, quickly stumbled and at last stooped and kneeled in front of a septuagenarian whose towering moral authority was too much of a force for the authority of the state to handle.  Cheering at its discomfort were the disempowered people of a nation, long lost their collective voice to tame their so-called representatives and felt humiliated at  the insignificance of their democratic participation that remain confined to its little duty of putting a little mark, on a little piece of paper  standing in a little booth- once every five years.  When the government became exhausted with each day of Anna’s fasting, the people knew they have discovered a new weapon to regain the right to script their destiny.  But when a new weapon is invented, it is only to be expected that it be tested in different scenarios under varying conditions so that its universal validity and effectiveness is scientifically established.  

Students could now think of fasting if their teacher gives them less than distinction marks and just in case distinction is not good enough, they still could fast to have the right to take guide books to the exam hall so that they could get nothing less 100%. And if even with 100% they still don’t find their names in the college admission list, they could again fast, either to get a seat or to make their score 101%.  At home, teenage children could fast and pressurise their parents to give them decent enough money to be able to take their fiancee to a five-star dinner and as SMS becomes passé, a day-long fast may not be a bad idea to speed up the next level mobile purchase so that they could video-chat with their friends, all night long.

In the hands of housewives, fasting could assume more lethality than a Kalashnikov in the hands of a Jihadi.  They could fast, not to reduce their waistline, but to compel their husbands to shell out a bomb of money at the month-end to buy that fancy diamond stud while the poor guy carries on with the same razor blade for weeks on end. And if that is not proof enough of its effectiveness, they could still try the technique to ensure that their mothers-in-law do not visit them for the next five years.

Oh, I just realised that I have been fasting all night long!  Let me break-fast.

Yours

Narayanan

August 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm 6 comments

The fine art of flattery

“These can be worn both sides, sir” explained the road side vendor to me, a disinterested browser, highlighting one of the features of his offerings. He has hung jackets of all sizes in his elevated footpath shop in this busy city market and the colourful display, I must confess, was quite attractive. “And sir, there are four hidden pockets, each deep enough to conceal a lap-top” continued the young man exhibiting the inside anatomy of the bulky stuff. I gave him a semi-ridiculous smile as I made lazy steps away to the next shop. “But sir, you should wear it to feel the comfort” insisted the guy holding a crimson bush coat, ready to thrust it on to my unwilling shoulders. “But I don’t need one in this season” was my vein pleading as I soon found myself inside a multi-strapped tight wear. “You look just like Bachchan of Aladin” exclaimed the vendor inviting me to check it up for myself in front of the full-length mirror placed angularly in one corner, with my dark sun glasses on. And I should say that I was quite impressed by my reflection. “Well, what’s the price?” was sort of an auto-reflex question and after two minutes of rapid price negotiations, the guy has succeeded in selling me a three-layered leather jacket on a mid-May afternoon.

Flattery has been one of the most tried and tested weapons in the armoury of many a successful men as they mastered the skill to deploy it with lethal efficiency. What the most convincing arguments and compelling reasons cannot accomplish, flattery would win the case for you in a trice. While the sales guy could close the deal by complimenting the sharp and the Machiavellian style probing of a necessarily dull witted customer, in the office scenario, verbal admiration of the boss’s terrible PowerPoint presentation could be a surer way to get a short leave than attempting to explain that you have done with the work slated for the day.  Praise his dress choices, admire his sense of humour and marvel at his quick thinking and you are sure to make rapid strides on the corporate ladder.    

Our politicians have long discovered the priceless value of flattery and have developed it into a fine art, worthy of emulation in other fields of human enterprise. A powerful women chief minister can be the re-incarnation of Durga, the Madam in charge of the High Commend could be a combination of the valour of a Laxmi Bai, the compassion of a Mother Theresa and the Shrewdness of a Chanakya and a ranting octogenarian seldom seen outside his habitat could be the heir apparent of Shivaji Maharaj. For many in the tribe, flattery comes as a natural instinct, both to survive and to surge ahead, in the choppy waters of Indian politics.

But flattery as an art has a long history to it, practiced extensively in the courts of kings and emperors of yore as the titles and decorations they enjoyed suggest. A chieftain of a feudal state could be a “ Rajadhiraja”, a ruler whose writ runs not more than few kilometres can be a “ Digvijay” and an erstwhile king who lived on a stipend of the British could be an “Alampanah.”  Poems were created in their praises and were lavishly compensated with cash and land by the objects of admiration. Such has been the influence of flattery that we have not even spared our gods and goddesses in its application- higher the flattery, more would be the boon conferred.

Why flattery has a very illogical grip over us is the fact that it works on humans at the sub-conscious level and make us feel good about it even while we know it is utter falsehood. So there is a science to flattery besides the art.

So the next time you want to make that extra leap to reach your goal, try flattery. It works every time. Even at home!

Yours

Narayanan

March 16, 2010 at 7:48 pm 7 comments


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