Friday, September 29, 2006

Close encounters of the gastric kind

My mom like most mallu moms, thinks that sleeping without dinner is some sort of a big ‘No, No’… like belly dancing and voting for communists ( the former in her scheme of things is a lesser evil). No matter what I have eaten in the evening she will not budge. Dinner is what she makes, anything else eaten outside the house is not counted. There is no point in arguing with her and so most days I will drag myself to the table half asleep, eyes closed and serve some rice onto my lap and the gravy onto my Dad’s lap, take a bite off the plate and plonk back into bed. Apparently her great great veliyammachi (grandma) would say that it was bad to sleep on an empty stomach. And in my family no one argues with my mom’s great great veliyammachi’s wisdom. She still rules our house with an iron fist like she did a couple of hundreds of years ago.

Mom: Son, finish all the food in your plate.
Son: I have had enough.
Mom: Your great great great veliyammachi used to say…..
Son: ok ok spare me the crap and I will finish the food!!!!
Mom: *contented smile of mothers in TV commercials*

Then came middle school and we started learning about the Human Anatomy in Science classes.

Teacher: The Stomach is a carnivorous organ. It can digest itself and anything ….
Me: You mean it can digest anything like the other organs too?
Teacher: Of course it can digest anything!
Me (interrupting): Oh my gawddddddd!!!!

I nearly passed out in class. After that day I never gave any problem with dinner. I had horrific visions of waking up with all my innards gone because I had slept on an empty stomach and my hungry stomach had made a meal of my internal organs.

In fact I was so scared of my stomach eating my internal organs up that during evening prayers I would wait for the time when we were allowed to say a silent prayer for our personal wishes. My prayers would be something like this.

Dear God, please keep watch over me in the night,don’t let my stomach eat me up…thank you God….oh yes please bless my dogs….and the family too. Amen.

In fact such a catastrophe nearly happened two weeks back. I was scheduled for a Pre Employment Medical Test (PET) at this swanky Diagnostic Clinic (‘nothing but the best’ said HR, with her nose in the air). And horror of horrors… they told me to come for the test on an empty stomach and 'wait for my turn'!!! The receptionist, a recent graduate from the Achumama School of Charm and Faultless English (affiliated to the Uma Bharti Finishing School ),who had clearly bunked classes when they taught about the carnivorous stomachs in school, refused to listen to my pleadings and told me to “stop this naansence, no eating till blood testing!!!”

I resignedly sat down in the waiting room to wait for my turn. It was 8 am. Now, a Diagnostic Clinic (DC) is quite a cheery place if you are pissed drunk or on pot.

Me to lady at the right: I am here for a PET. What brings you here?
Lady: Bubonic Plague
Me: How interesting.
Me to Gent on the right: And what brings you here?
Gent: Syphilis.
Me: How very interesting er…excuse me but I need to go urgently go to the other side of the road.

It was 8:30 am by now and I think my stomach was fast asleep because all was quite in the region of my stomach. Then around 9 am it woke up, yawned and looked around for food. Since none was forthcoming it sort of coughed to catch my attention. I pretended to be busy reading the list of BMTC Buses on the other side of the road. Then it started growling. I ignored it. Soon it was looking very greedily at my Liver….then at my Kidneys...then at the Intestines. ( I am pretty sure I heard it drooling).

I felt it give an experimental tug at whatever it was that was holding it in place to check if it could make a break for it. I silently thanked God for keeping it securely tethered in its place. Soon it was very hungry and angry and lunging madly at my Pancreas and Kidneys and other organs. My turn for the Blood Test was yet to come and the situation inside me was getting kind of desperate. Any moment my stomach could break free and go into a feeding frenzy. Imagine going for an ECG and finding out that you don’t have a Heart, let alone a heartbeat?!!! How embarrassing that would be!! And imagine going for a Chest X Ray and seeing a gaping hole in the ribcage?!! I would just die of shame!!

I desperately tried to remember if the Science Teacher had said anything about the stomach having teeth. I mean, if suppose my stomach was still hungry after eating my internal organs would it then chew on my bones? How inconvenient!!! I was sweating buckets by the time my turn came for the blood test. I have never been so happy to see a Hypodermic Syringe in my whole life (except that one day long time back when my brother had to take a Tetanus Shot…it was pure bliss to see him yowling.) After the Lab Assistant had removed enough blood for the blood test and to start his own Private Blood Bank, I was told to go and have breakfast at the Cafeteria in the DC and get back for the rest of the tests.

Now… a cafeteria in a Diagnostic Clinic????? Hellooooo! Who in their right senses would eat in a Cafeteria run by a Diagnostic Clinic????

Cafeteria owner to lab assistant: I am little short of mutton for the Biryani today; could you spare me some Liver?
Lab Assistant: Sure. That means I get 8 free lunches ok?
Cafeteria owner: Throw is a couple of kidneys and you have a deal.
Lab Assistant: *sigh* you drive a hard bargain. Deal!

So I said a polite thank you and beat a hasty retreat and bought myself a packet of biscuits and completed my tests. In the evening I decided that I will read up more on the Stomach so that I am not faced with such dangerous situations again. I Googled a little bit and then a little more bit and then a whole lot more and could not believe what I read!!!! Apparently the stomach has a protective lining that prevents itself from turning carnivorous!!!!!

*groan* That is twelve years of full tension for nothing. A little knowledge is a terrible terrible thing :(

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Feeling the heat

Yesterday a friend and ex colleague wrote to me.


I have just joined my new place of work. I am having fun ROTFL!!


I was quite concerned by this mail. Now... AA is not prone to laughter or smiles. He is a pucca North Indian kinda guy who minds his own business and sometimes comes to office too. While we are all rolling in laughter at the punch line of some joke, AA looks like someone has just informed him of his Dad’s death. The last time he smiled was when he was stricken with a facial muscle spasm and thus could not help having a lop sided smile on his face for some time. So you will appreciate my concern and alarm for his well-being after getting the mail. Yesterday I chatted with AA over Google Talk to get to the bottom of the laughter mystery.

Me: Hi!!!!!
AA: Hiiiii! Oops
Me: What happened?!?!
AA: The curtain just caught fire *giggle*
Me: Oh my God, go and put it out.
AA: Nopes, it’s too late tra la la la la
Me: How did it happen man?
Me: I breathe fire when I open my mouth you see tee hee
Me: ha ha very funny, seriously tell me what happened.
AA: Forget it.I don’t want to burn down the house tara rum pum pum
Me: Ok, looks like you are a bit stressed, get yourself a cup of coffee and we will talk.
AA: Can’t...
Me: Why?
AA: Power cut...the fans not working.
Me: So?
AA: The coffee will boil if the fan is not switched on.
Me: What???? Ok get yourself a beer then.
AA: Can’t...
Me: Why???
AA: It will scald my tongue.
Me: heh heh funny fellow. I will wait, get yourself a beer and we will talk.
AA: Naah! If I remove the beer from the freezer it will boil and scald my tongue.
Me: Ok Ok I get the hint, looks like your new place of work is warm, but it can’t be that bad????
*maniacal laughter* Of course it is a little warm, if it were a little more warm like 0.05 degrees more, then I could gather the computer in a bucket and flush it down the toilet.
Me: Oh my God!!!!
AA: I am sitting in a bath tub and chatting with you, you know?
Me: Wow you are having your annual bath? Heh heh
AA: *demented laughter* Verrrry funny but “No!!!!!’, this is what newcomers do here to prevent spontaneous human combustion.
Me: hmm
AA: At work we have showers over our cubicle you know?
Me: That must be to make sure you don’t doze off after lunch ha ha ha
AA: *manic giggle* No, that is to ensure that random fires that break out like when you shake hands or sneeze or brush against another person can be put out quickly.
Me: You are exaggerating right?
AA: *more maniacal laughter* yes my dear I am exaggerating, I am sitting in a bath tub chatting and my arse just got scalded because the water is beginning to heat up and you say I am exaggerating Ahahahaha ...*sniff* I have become very thin too, haven’t eaten since I came here.
Me: How come?
AA: By the time I get hold of the spoon the heat burns the food *manic guffaw*
Me: Take a nice dip in the swimming pool, it will cool your head.
AA: Can’t…
Me: Why?
AA: The water is boiling ha ha ha ha *sob*
Me: hmmm tell you what, you call up a travel agent and book yourself a holiday in Ooty or Kodai!
AA: Can’t..
Me: Why???
AA: Cause the phone melted and dripped away before I could catch it in a mug *LOUD DEMENTED LAUGHTER *
Me: hmm sounds tough man…where are you? Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.
AA: No...I am in a place called Trivandrum …
Me: OH MY GOD!!!! err…I mean I gotta go…sorry can’t help you here… bye bye
AA: Nooooooo don’t go away, helllllp, stay with me, talk with me, don’t leave me *bawwl*

I know when I am beaten. After all there is only so much I can do. If any of you Trivandrumites see a fully ablaze man sitting at the table next to you in a restaurant or at the movies or while shopping at the vegetable market you know who it is. Do say ‘Hi’ to him on my behalf. Err… avoid shaking hands with him.

( This post is dedicated to my wonderful friend and colleague AA, fast being reduced to a puddle of woes somewhere in Thiruananthapuram. Have fun man!! p.s. did I tell you that the weather in Bangalore is to die for?)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Chip tales

The first thing I ever learned to ‘cook’ was a cake. I don’t know how I meandered into cooking amidst my busy schedule of climbing trees, dollhouses and tea parties in those tiny ceramic tea sets. My mother firmly believed that a gals place is outside the kitchen and did her best to shoo me out even if I ventured in for a drink of water. But I guess one cannot resist ones calling and mine was to make cakes. Now, my Mom is not those expert bakers who whip up delicious, flaky and multilayered cakes with one hand and batches of cookies with the other. She made simple cakes. Her idea of baking a cake was, Cake batter plus Vanilla Essence = Vanilla Cake and Cake batter plus Strawberry Essence = Strawberry Cake and Cake batter with dog hair = “ugh how did the dog fall into the cake batter!?”

And this was because we kids hated cakes. We didn’t like any form of cake, whether it was from the small bakery down the street or the fancy cake outlets like Melting Moments or Sweet Chariot. We were just not into cakes. Our birthday cakes was strictly-number-of-invitees-size-cakes and this was to avoid hiring a tempo to distribute the left overs in the neighborhood. Our birthday snaps shows parents with severely strained smiles, trying to shove the first slice down our tightly closed mouths.

We were salty potato wafer (chips) addicts. We could have potato chips as a pre breakfast snack, breakfast, after breakfast snack, pre lunch snack, lunch, after lunch snack, tea time, pre dinner snack, dinner, after dinner snack, homework snack, grounding snack etc. (We would even convert an occasion for eating it, like for an instance...a funeral snack!!)

In kindergarten while other kids bought fancy pastries we took a big bag of potato wafers. Our parents knew that the line between survival and starvation for their kids was wafer thin. At the rate at which we ate potato wafers, my Dad was sure he could save up enough money that would normally be spent on food and retire by the time he was thirty. (And then Lays entered India and he is still working)

One day the kindergarten teacher took a piece of cake from another child’s tiffin and put it into mine. She felt sorry for the poor kid whose parents could not afford to buy her anything but potato wafers. This was desecration of the worst kind and I screamed till I was blue in the face. A harried teacher explained to my Dad between tears that she was feeling bad to see me eat potato chips day in and day out like a poor tramp. My Dad nodded sympathetically and said he understood perfectly and that he and his wife were also very sad that their kids ate like tramps but there was nothing he could do till there was a potato famine or all chip makers contracted some horrible disease and died. (he lived a lot on hope those days).

When we left for family outings, we kids made sure that the we had enough potato chips for the journey, other things like parents, were secondary or not necessary at all. God forbid if in the middle of nowhere we were to run out of chips!!! The very thought sent our pediatric blood pressures shooting up. And at the rate at which we worried about the depletion of our Potato Chips stocks, we were surefire candidates for pediatric heart problems. And that is how the legend of too much salt leads to BP and heart disease originated. There is no truth to the story. Look!!! I am still alive and I have been on a salt overdose since I could pick up the crumbs from the floor (my brother was a very messy eater you see).

One week many years ago I got so much crumbs from the floor that I didn’t eat regular food for one whole week. My Dad thought I was a wonder baby and was planning to call up the Guinness Book of World Records when my Aunt got us a dog…a #$%@^@& dog that loved potato chips crumbs and zapped it up at the speed of a vacuum cleaner on a caffeine overdose, leaving poor me way down in the food chain among the creepy crawlies in the house. (Those were days of hunger, starvation and deprivation that still haunts me *sniff*)

Despite a staple diet of chips, chips and more chips we remained alive and did quite ok.

Mr. M: What do you give your children…they seem so energetic?
Dad (thinking furiously): err..hmmm they eat lots of carbohydrates (remembers that potato is carbohydrate) and err….minerals (remembers that salt is a mineral) and lots of Vitamin E (remembering that Oil has Vitamin E).

Anyway, all good things have to come an end. And so did our old eating habits and most of our parents troubles.

Today...we are a changed lot. We eat our chips with our mouths closed. We also eat most of it instead of throwing it at each other.

(While most gals munch on chocolates to get over their blues, I prefer a slice of bread spread with potato chips, smothered in mayonnaise with another slice of bread on top to chase away the darkest of my blues. The bread and the mayo is strictly optional)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Settling in

I was actually quite depressed after leaving my last job. Everyday I fought the temptation of calling my boss and saying “I am coming back sob”. Then I reminded myself that my company has a open door policy and so I have all the time in the world to go back. Anyways even my folks thought that they should do something for me to cheer me up of the depression , made worse by the HR Team playing mournful songs at the farewell dinner. Imagine eating your food to “O jaane waale ho sake tho laut ke aana” I was trying hard to control my tears and the gulab jamoons. It was so difficult. *sniff*

Many a resignee have sobbed uncontrollably and got back to work after these farewell dinners. (Emotional blackmail is mandatory subject for HR these days). Those with low will power, make their wife/mom/sister call up and say they cannot make it to the dinner. Anyways the gifts were nice and cheered me up.

~My Mom bought me a Copper ring that she said would keep my blood pressure in the right side of the BP measuring machine (which ever side that is). So I gifted it to my new boss.

~My Dad bought me a new set of Golf Clubs. His old ones are worn out he says. (Of course I don’t play Golf but the thought was so sweet.)

~My eldest brother bought me a new bag, which I have gifted to my maid. She was so happy. She said the color was just right for her. It matched her parrot green blouse and Gelusil pink saree.

~My second brother's gift was a surprise. I am still recovering from the surprise. The doctor says it will take two whole months.

~My dog brandy bought me a dead rat….er never mind.

~My other dog Honey, puked on the bed. As a new job gift she made sure she completed the job on my moms bed. Such a nice dog.

~My other dog did me the honor of not mistaking me for a lamppost. I came to work with dry pants and not smelling like walls you see with notices like "Plis to not pas urin here".

~My old car pool fraternity also gave me a goodbye present…a comprehensive list of BMTC routes, so sweet ( err…but I don't remember telling them of the job change)

I am now almost over my old company. Though I did slip once when I saw my old company’s logo on a computer part and went *sob*. But my new boss was so understanding…he made Sysadmin change my computer configuration. I think I will be happy here.

Monday, September 11, 2006

It's a new day!

Change they say is inevitable except from a vending machine. So true!

Last week I went for an Interview. Yes peoples.. me is changing me job because I have reached a stage where I can come to office, pop a sleeping pill, finish the work in a slumber and then wake up all fresh and dewy at 6 pm and go home. In short…I needed a desperate change of bed er…scene.

So moiself hoisted my carcass from me comfy seat and went for an Interview. I was sick as a dog that is very sick and was hence was not in a very good mood like a dog that is very sick. Fortunately the Interview got over very fast. The last incumbent in this company left in a bit of hurry you see (he cleared the window in one dive I heard, since then they have put stronger attrition resistant glasses on the windows and doors.) So my interview was rather hurried, though very very thorough as befitting the HR practices of a big company.

Mr PP: So you married?
Me: No!
Mr PP: Boyfriend?
Me: No
Mr. PP: When can you join us?

After that exhausting and mentally draining interview, I had my second round with my to-be Boss.

Boss: I guess you have been briefed about the job.
Me: Yes!
Boss: I believe in people who work independently, take responsibilities, initiatives and can work unsupervised.
Me: Sure!
Boss: So what can you say to add value to your resume?
Me: I can work independently, take responsibilities, initiatives and can work unsupervised ?!
MK: Welcome aboard!!!

The last round, a formality was with the HR Manager.

HR: We are not any other company; we are a big name in the industry you know?
Me (muttering to myself) : Keep repeating that and you will generate enough hot hair to pack up the AC plant.
HR: Did you say something?
Me: Nopes
HR: The people working here are from premier Institutes and hence the intelligence quotient is very high.
Me: (muttering to myself) : So what are you doing here?
She (muttering to herself) :I know what you are thinking, so what am I doing here right? Chit of a girl bah!!! I hate your type and if I were 85 kgs lighter I would give you a run for your money.
Me: (muttering to myself) : If you were 85 kgs lighter you would still look like a pregnant Hippo.
Me (aloud) : Wow!!! I am impressed.
HR (aloud) : Thaaaank you… welcome to the organization, it is very nice to have you with us.
Me: The pleasure is all mine. (muttering to myself ) What a lot of bakras to write about, this is going to be a blogging gold mine yipeeeeee!!!!!
HR: Did you say something?
Me: No no, I am just wonderstruck at the possibilities in this company for me.
Her (tilting her head and smiling patronizingly and pinching my cheek) : Soooo sweeet. All the best deeeeeeear!
Me: (tilting my head and smiling equally patronizingly keeping my hands away from slapping her cheek) : Thaaank youu!
HR ( muttering under her breath) : Bitch!!!
Me: (muttering under my breath) : Bitch!!!!

And thus moiself sits in a new chair....... and I am feeling sleepy zzzzzzz

Good night folks...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Shooting in the dark

This year when I came back from my Nilgiris trip, I excitedly told everyone in my amateur birding group that I had seen a rare bird. “Look!!!!” I said pointing to the black speck on the photograph excitedly. Now, we amateur bird watchers are a very competitive and determined lot, full of love for birds, enthusiasm and josh.

A: I saw a Tickell's Thrush (a bird) the other day.
B: F@#k I swear if I don’t spot one by this weekend I will hunt and kill all of them f*#&ing Tickell's Thrushes.

So it was with a great deal of resentment masked by a tight smile that B took the photo and peered at it and then exclaimed with a triumphant snigger “ahem, I think, this a speck of dried butter chicken gravy”. I snatched the photo from him angrily and examined the photo. A little bit if scraping and the dried gravy came out. I looked hard and found what I thought was the bird and triumphantly showed it again to the group. But try as hard as they could they could not spot the bird. And that is when I realized that I needed to buy a new camera, one that would take pictures of birds, large enough not to be smothered by butter chicken gravy.

Till that day I had nothing to do with cameras. I was a binoculars person and knew quite a bit about them too. I scoffed at the bird photographers in our group lugging expensive camera and zoom lenses around while I skipped merrily ahead with my binoculars. Now I realized that they were not such a bunch of fools as I made them out to be. At least they could show the picture of the bird they had ‘shot’ and say “See a white cheeked barbet bird’ While I pointed to a random blot on my photograph and said “See a white cheeked barbet …I swear this is a white cheeked barbet, God promise it is a white cheeked barbet …someone please believe me *sob*’.

So I called a pal of mine who is quite a sensation as a young and upcoming wildlife photographer (YAUWP).

YAUWP: You want to buy a camera? Why…you plan to ask the birds to say ‘cheese’? HA HA HA!!
Me: Grrr er…heh heh very funny man but ‘No’. I need to prove what I have seen da. So please to help me out.
YAUWP: hmmm ok here’s the deal. To get a decent bird image, you will need a camera with a 300mm telephoto lens with a 1.4x extender. For smaller birds, a 600mm lens is required. Your camera should have manual override of automatic functions. A camera which does not let you chose the exposure and focusing point blah blah . It's also a good idea to have things like depth-of-field preview and some form of mirror lock up blah blah.
Me: Huh???? er…I mean thanks a ton da, you have been such a help, gotta go now, bye.
Him: My pleasure, do get in touch with me if you need any more help...
Me: *SLAM*

After that enlightening conversation on buying a bazooka and assembling it, I decided that I will go it alone and called the Directory Enquiry service. After telling them very reassuringly that ‘YES’ my email ID is definitely lalapaloosa and ‘NO’, it is not a fictitious ID and that the last email ID, was ‘NOT’ fictitious but was suspended due to disuse etc., I managed to get a couple of Camera Shop numbers without giving out my actual email ID.

I was sure I would walk into a camera shop, pick up a nice camera and show it to Mr. YAUWP with flourish while he burnt in envy at the beautiful pictures that I had taken. So it was with such nice thoughts in my mind that I walked into this snazzy shop on Brigade Road.

Me: I want to buy a camera.
Salesman: What camera do you want?
Me: Huh? Er…something for bird photography.
Salesman: Do you want a SLR or DSLR, Pro SLR, 35mm Rangefinder, Medium Format, Large Format, Medium format rangefinder…
Me: *gulp*
Salesman (patiently): Ok I will simplify this a bit, are you looking for a Point and Shoot camera, Prosumer camera, Professional cameras or Digital video camera.
Me: er…can you simplify it a little further?
Salesman: You have no idea about cameras do you?
Me (miserably) : No.
Salesman: *sigh* Shall I suggest something?
Me (brightening up) : Sure!!!
Salesman: Why not go for a nice Binocular?
Me: @$#%@^@&

I guess I will stick to birdwatching.