Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Learning to drive!

I learnt to drive at the age of 13. Pestered my brother M for approximately one month and fourteen days till he finally gave in just to get me out of his hair I guess. So one fine Saturday morning when my Mom and Dad were out and my eldest brother was in college we set off in my mom’s car for my first lesson. It was a Maruti 800 so my feet could reach the brakes and the accelerator. Now, M is not exactly a patient teacher but I think the thrill of teaching me reckless driving right under Dad’s nose must have enthused him to undertake the job. After he had patiently demonstrated the use of the clutch, gear, accelerator and brake in about tweleve and half seconds, we set off slowly down the road with me behind the wheel and my Lhasa Apso Bubbles in the back seat.

After numerous instructions like:

Do you think Roopa saw me?
Do you think Aparna saw me?
When we pass Ramesh’s house I will duck ok?
If anybody asks, I am here because you blackmailed me into this ok?
etc. I was doing pretty well. It didn’t help my driving a bit, but I wasn’t complaining. Beggars can’t be choosers especially when it comes to choosing their siblings.

Learning to drive from an expert is tough, especially if the expert was born with the steering wheel in his hands. And if the student is your sister who was born without the steering wheels in her hands it leads to some uncomfortable situations, especially for pedestrians some of whom are still alive to tell the tale to the cops if I don’t bring the green blouse with gold border from that tailor down the road or provisions from the Iyengar provision shop only or marry their sons when I reach marriageable age. I am still paying a heavy price for my driving lessons that were supposed to be free.

To begin with I could never get the difference between the brake and the accelerator inspite of my brother’s best efforts and crystal clear instructions.

Look out Hump ahead!!!
Slow down
Press gently on the brake
Hey why are you speeding up?
Oops sorry Pai uncle can’t stop and help you pick up the onions
Oops sorry Venkatesha I will pay for the vegetables and the cart
Aiyyo Shobha aunty did that hurt?
Look out nooo.....* thud *

The *thud* was Nair uncle taking off into the blue yonder Hero cycle and all, losing thrust and landing back successfully on Mother Earth. In fact Nair uncle had a better landing record than NASA shuttle missions during my ‘driving lesson’ days.

After this incident M drove back home and wrote B for brake and A for Accelerator on a piece of paper which he struck on the brake and accelerator.

We set off past Uncle Thomas who shouted “ I am going to tell your...” his last words were lost in the wind as I mistook the accelerator for the brake again. Besides I was too petrified to take my eyes away from the road and read B for Brake and A for Accelerator and WELCOME on the Kerala Coir Board mat. I kept my eyes firmly on the road and foot firmly pressed on the accelerator and learnt to steer, overtake, turn left and right and reverse etc at a pacy 60 mph and higher. My brother was hopping mad and if a genie were appear and grant me three wishes I would have asked for a Remote Control with the options to “Shut him up” “Lower His Volume” and “Shut the dog up”. But since there was no sign of a genie approaching I devised my own remote control to get away from his incessant nagging and shouting. I would say “Duck, I think Gaurav is coming" and M would slide down the seat and stay there for some time while I experimented with the brake and accelerator to my hearts content. After I felt I was fairly sure of this combination I would say, “ Ok, you can come up now, Gaurav is gone”.

So the next few hours M kept sliding up and down the seat while I practiced releasing the clutch slowly while pressing on the accelerator gently, changing the gear while stamping on the clutch etc. After many an “I see Anita on the road” and “Preethi is coming this way” etc., I was fairly sure of how the whole thing worked. I felt as pleased as a punch that had just learnt driving.

On the 3rd Saturday of driving my brother crazy er... driving lessons we were driving into the road leading to my house when my Dad happened to drive by. From the expression on his face when he saw us I could safely surmise that my brother was grounded. But the resultant turns of events? Brother and his bike and his sister and her dog were grounded. Guess I am not very good at face reading.

( Bubbles who would jump into the car the moment anyone opened the car door, developed an irrational fear of cars. The Vet thought and I agreed vehemently, that it was because of the emotional trauma of being grounded. The Vet has since given up practice and now works in a Call Centre)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Office Blahging !

Monday morning I got a mail from HR.

We notice that the corporate blog space allocated to you is lying unused. As a communications intern, your blog will be used in your grading. So please use the blog to post articles and news and enjoy this exciting medium.

p.s. If you need any help or information about blogging please contact Ramesh from the Employee Rules and Regulations Team.



I schedule a meeting with Ramesh to learn about the intricacies of Blogging in the Conference Room.

Me: Hi Ramesh, what is this blog thingy all about?
Ramesh: Did you take a look at the links I sent you?
Me: heh heh Yes, that one on HR bashing was cool. Can I do the same?
Ramesh: er...HR bashing? No no no, you were supposed to read the post on the landing page and not browse the archives !!!!
Me: The archives in that blog were really good. The one on the MD’s browsing history was a scream ha ha ha ha...
Ramesh (sweating): er...please disregard that link I sent you and see this blog!
Me: I was just beginning to have fun. This one is so boring. It talks about productivity at work barf!!!
Ramesh: Exactly!!! Corporate blogs should have useful and fun information.
Me: Fun information? Can I write about Guarav and Jayesh getting beaten up at that seedy bar yesterday?
Ramesh (petrified): Noooooooooooooo!!
Me: But you said I can write fun!!!!
Ramesh (wiping sweat from brow): By fun I meant things like office picnic, team outings, holidays etc.
Me: Oh ok, can I write about our last team outing to the spa?
Ramesh: (beaming): Sure!!! What a good idea!!
Me: Damn! I can’t remember that masseuse’s name.
Ramesh (uneasily): masseuse?????? er...why do you want to write about the masseuse??
Me: She slapped that Project Manager very hard, dunno why.
Ramesh(aghast): Noooooooooo, you can’t write stuff like that.
Me:Just now you told me that I can write about the Team Outing!
Ramesh: I need some strong coffee and a couple of dozen Aspirins. Please read the posts in our office blog and get back to me when you get the concept. In the meantime DO NOT WRITE ANYTHING ON YOUR CORPORATE BLOG OK??????
Me: Ok ok, no need to shout! *grumble*

After Ramesh left I sat down and read all the recent posts on the office blog. It was an amazing read.

A marketing manager had written about Brand Building.

“Brand building is very complicated. I shall research the same and post an article at a later date. In the meantime do check out our competitors latest product called *censored*. It is way ahead of the competition!!

Below it was a footnote by the Blog Administrator

Mr Marketing Guy,

Please do not use office blog to promote the competitors product.

Blog Administrator.

p.s. Do let me know where I can buy *censored*.

A techie had written extensively about traveling by BMTC buses with some useful tips and suggestions.

Route No 200 is always full and Route no 201 is tedious and Route no 203 is always late. But if you take Route No. 404 and then get off at Sewersandra and take the 114 you will definitely reach the office late. So I would advice all of you to buy a bike”

A lady in the testing team had written about her travails with her maid with some pointers to retain maids like:

“Don’t let her feel she is the boss”


“If she asks for a raise fire her !!!!”

Very informative.

The post by our Administration manager was very reassuring:

“We take great care to see that our Cafeteria food is balanced with the correct proportion of carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, mineral salts and fiber. Let me assure you all that the fourteen employees in the hospital with Gastroenteritis after allegedly eating cafeteria food are telling lies.”

The entry by HR was very touching and bought a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat.

“This year we will not be giving any optional holidays unless there is an earthquake to the magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale or a meteorite collision with Earth. In case of a meteorite collision only those affected by the crash will get an off. The rest will come to work as usual.”

The Finance Manager also had a post. It was interestingly titled:

“Taxation for Dummies. A Self Help Guide for our Employees”

Given below is an excerpt from the post.

“To arrive at your Income Tax for the year 2006/2007, take the distance between the Sun and the Moon, now multiply the figure with your gross income and the subsequent figure should then be divided by the circumference of an ants egg. Simple!”

Even the Sysadmin had an entry. It was titled:

“Weekend Leisure Activities”

Off late I have started trekking during weekends. It is a very healthy activity and has cured me of my squint. Earlier I led a boring life reading your mails and peeping into the folders in your computers. Now I go trekking to Mullayanigiri and Kudremukh and access your systems from the pristine surroundings of these verdant hills. I recommend trekking for all employees.”

After looking at the impressive writings, I realized that I was way out of my league here. I have subsequently asked HR to remove me from the bloggers list.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Man Hunt !

The phone was ringing stridently. My mom approached it cautiously, looked at the Caller ID and motioned me to pick up the phone. Now this was bad news. Whenever she did this, it usually meant that some pesky 'Ungle' or 'Aundy' was calling. With a sigh I picked up the phone and an avalanche of conversation fell into my ears.

Aunt: “Hellooooooo. How are you, How is mummy, daddy, your brothers and the dogs and ......”
Me: They are all fine and so are the neighbors and their dogs.
Aunt: That is sooooooo nice.
Me (cutting in): So what do you want Aunty?
Aunt ( in her best fake sad voice): You know your cousin Sarah has just finished her B.Tech and has got a nice job in Trivandrum. We are looking for a ‘suitable boy’ for her.
Me: So?
Aunt (slyly): So...I heard you are doing your internship in an IT MNC...I am sure there are many suitable boys...maybe you could enquire?
Me: No way!!!! I am not running behind guys asking them to marry your daughter.
Aunt: * sob * you know how sick your uncle is?
Me: Yes...but he is attending Alcoholics Anonymous isn't he?
Aunt: And *sniff * you know about my knee problem...
Me: Aunty didn’t the doctor tell you to reduce your weight to 125 kgs?
Aunt: And your cousin brother Tojo is still in 10th std...
Me: Approximately how many years has he spent in 10th Std and approx how many buses do you think Tojo has burnt till now?
Aunt (proudly): Four!!! Ok dear I have to go now. I knew I could count on you, I will send Sarah’s details as soon as possible, Byeeeeeeeee
Me: but...but...
I realize I am speaking to no one in particular.

I know when I am suckered. This ‘aunt’ is related to us through a series of accidents. She is my moms cousin brother’s sister-in-laws neighbors dog’s owner who bit my mom’s cousin brother who then developed Rabies and bit the dog. Mallu networking is very 'komblicated' you see!

Next day I reached office rather early and after taking a good look around to see that no one was around, took down all the names of the unmarried males from my community in the office from the Intranet. I got 10 probables, all Engineers and apparently eligible. I entered their names in an Excel sheet and waited for the office gossip a.k.a Executive Secretary to VP Finance to arrive. She would have all the dirt on the ‘candidates’ plus some on their past lives too, besides she will also have the salaries of my targets down to the last decimal. Very nice. I give myself a mental pat for having the foresight to restrain myself from hitting her on the head with the keyboard when I found her reading my mails.

Miss Executive Secretary a.k.a. Swati strolls in an agonizing hour late takes a quick look at the list and gives me the low down.

Swati: Thomas? He is slightly cockeyed and drinks like a fish.
Me: What about Joseph?
Swati: Drinks like a whale.
Me: And Bobby?
Swati: Drinks like a Whale with an alcohol problem.
Me: How about Biju?
Swati: Will be kicked out soon for non performance.
Me: And Chacko?
Swati (lowering her voice): I heard he is married, but I am not sure. He denies it.
Me (in despair): What about Anil, Ronny and Tarun?
Swati: Anil has got a limp, Ronny has a wife and Tarun has a massive chip on his shoulders.

Evening as soon as I stepped foot into the house the phone rings. I pick up the phone resignedly.

Me: Yes Aunty, I have the information.
Aunt: That is sooooo sweet of you. So tell me did you get a good boy for my Sarah?
Me: No, all the guys in my office are married.
Aunt: What do you mean married? What about Thomas?
Me: er...how do you know about him?
Aunt: And what about Joseph?
Me: ummmm he is a very social guy I heard.
Aunt: And Bobby?
Me: Well...he is even more social...
Aunt (triumphantly): And Biju?
Me: He is er...leaving the job.
Aunt: To a better paying company, his mom told me! You are just jealous! You do not want my Sarah to be well settled. We like Biju. Nice boy and from a good family too. I am going ahead with the proposal.
Me: Aunty please listen....

Aunt slams down the receiver.

I am not invited to the wedding.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Visa Power !

A top Indian Scientists Visa to the US was rejected by the the consular officer (CO) after he "submitted him to intense scrutiny, accused him of hiding things and being a danger to America and denied his visa pending further review." Newspaper Report.

Now, one cannot entirely blame the US for putting Visa restriction on Indian scientists, due to their notorious misdeeds in the past. There is no smoke without a fire and we should stop the self righteous indignation over the above incident. Let me tell you about an incident that happened in the year 2001. This incident is the reason why strict checks and measures are now being applied on Indian scientists.

US Embassy, New Delhi. An Indian Scientist is giving in his Visa application papers to the Consular Officer.

Consular Officer (CO) (looking intently at the Indian scientist): So you are a chemist?
Indian Scientist (IS): Yes Sir.
CO: You dispense medicines?
IS:No no, I don’t dispense medicines.
CS: But it says here that you are a chemist.
IO (patiently ):Well... I am not that type of a chemist, I am a Research Scientist
CO: And I am Brad Pitt ha ha ha...I am afraid I have to reject your Visa application because you have provided false information.
CO: Next !!!!!!

CO(to next applicant): Why do you want to go to the US?
Applicant: I am going to learn to fly plane.
CO: Ah !!! A student I see. Have a nice stay in the US . Do check out the World Trade Centre and Pentagon while you are there.
Applicant: I have already done that you infidel !!!

CO(to next applicant): And why do you want to go to the US young man?
Applicant (happily): To learn to fly plane.
CO: That seems to be a popular course. I suppose you will get a big job as a pilot in some big airline after that yeah?
Applicant(beaming): No my leader says I will get 14 virgins in heaven.
CO: er... sure...

CO(to next applicant): Hello Mr. O’Sammy, And why do you want to go to the US?
O’Sammy: Because I hate the Yankee infidels.
CO: Well...I am no great fan of The Yankees myself...hmmm your name seems kinda familiar.
O’Sammy: It is the English version of my name you dimwit !
CO: hmmm You also look different in your photo Mr O’Sammy.
O’Sammy: Because I have shaved my beard you moron.
CO: Ah! And you hair seems kinda different too.
O’Sammy: That is because I have removed the scarf you pig!
CO: And what is that bulge in your side ?
O’Sammy (patting the Grenade and looking menacingly): That is something for you if I don’t get the Visa grrrrr
CO(taken aback): Jeez, what’s with the attitude!!! Have a nice stay in the US Mr. O’Sammy.
O’Sammy(shouting): Hail Holy War !!!!
CO( muttering to himself): Holy war indeed, bet you he can’t swat a fly if he wanted to $@%@^&

The Indian Scientist now decides to give a last ditch attempt at getting his Visa. He oils his hair with coconut oil, combs his hair neatly and steps up confidently.

Scientist: Good Morning ! I yam an Indian scientist. I yam highly qualified. I do not need much resources to make weapons of mass destruction. I can make a bomb with a shoelace and an empty Ice Cream cup. In fact if your country is facing a cash crunch I can manage with the shoe lace alone.And if you were to add a empty packet of Lays I would be able to able to make a Hydrogen Bomb too. Isn't it simbly amazing !!

CO: Interesting ! What is your name?

Scientist: Venkatachalpathaiah Muthueswaran Sivasubramanian Rao.

CO types in the name , the computer goes * boink * , then crashes taking the entire network of computers in the US, the lights in the embassy start flickering and Air Force One makes an emergency landing. The only message on the now black monitor is “Operating system found dead”.

Scientist: Aiyyo.

CO: grrrrrrrrrrrrr NEXT !!!!!!

I rest my case.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

An enriching Xperience

Sometime last year my Sysadmin installed Windows XP in my comp. It would make my life very easy he declared. Apparently Windows XP will provide rich, wireless network support, helping me to simply and easily connect to wireless networks and it is very intelligent too. I was so happy. It would be so helpful to someone who uses only MS Word.

I had a first hand experience of its ‘advanced features’ when I tried to shut down the comp for the very first time since it was installed:

Windows XP (WXP): There are other users connected to your computer. Shutting down your computer will make you lose your hair and some more. Continue with shut down?
Me: Yes
WXP: Are you sure?
Me: Yes
WXP: Lock kiya jaye?
Me: Shut down you dumb thing!!!
WXP: Galath jawaab. Try shutting down the computer again when you have learnt some manners.
Me: Shut down or I pull the plug!
WXP: Oh noo, I am so scared hee hee
Me: grrrrr !!

I use the Windows Task Manager to shut down the comp and after taking a generous swig of Gelusil called my Sysadmin for a refresher course.

Sysadmin: So what’s wrong or shall I say what’s right with your comp hee hee.
Me: What an awesome joke man!!! You are hilarious! I am having some problems with WXP.
Sysadmin: Thank you, thank you it’s very original you know.
Me: Amazing joke!!! I am unable to shut down the comp.
Sysadmin: heh heh I am a funny man.
Me: Sure you are...now I need you to check my OS.
Sysadmin: I try to make people smile.
Me: I know, but my WXP is giving me a lot of grief.
Sysadmin: Windows XP? I have no clue. Now lemme go share the joke with the boys heh heh.
Me: @%#^&@*%#+ !!!!

WXP has a feature that keeps a eye on the going ons in my PC and generates regular hi-tech reports to be sent to the Microsoft guys for prompt action.

She blogs at work. (AHA!!!)
She downloads baby pictures (yuck)
She is copying recipes from Tarla Dalal site (what a loser)
She is sticking her tongue out at me (pffft)

And then it will open this small window every irritating two second or so and ask "Shall I send this error report to Microsoft? It will be absolutely confidential. You will not be sued; we will just use this information to make your pirated WXP experience more pleasurable." More gelusil.

I have WXP at home too. Now my UPS is on the blink and gives me exactly one minute to shut down the comp after the power goes out. But WXP is so advanced that it will shut down the comp only after weighing the pros and cons of the said action.

WXP: The DSL connection is active. Would you like to continue with Shut Down?
Me: Yes
WXP: hmmm...
Me: What are you doing ?!?!
WXP: I am thinking...hmmm
Me: Shut down for gods sake!!!
WXP: hmmm.... *blink* (battery power out)
Me: @%#^&@*%#+ !!!!

I think I need further training to build on my limited knowledge of the Windows XP operating system and the skilled facets of XP's functionality and features.

I am now undergoing rigorous training at the "Advanced Workshop in Anger Management" being conducted by the Windows XP Users Association.