My rockstar forever – MJ

I caught the news flash just seconds before my visa interview. I was next in line, waiting for one of the counters to clear and the authorities to beckon me to their window. “Micheal Jackson is dead.” I gulped. I was genuinely shocked. I don’t know why his death saddened me so much. Briefly putting it out of my head till my interview got over, I kept mulling over him for the whole day yesterday, the news channels giving enough flashbacks to make anyone nostalgic.

Someone correctly pointed out that Micheal Jackson was all pop music was in India a few years ago.His songs were the first English numbers more than half of India heard. He was the face of English music which grew very popular in the country, given that the followers of ABBA, Beatles, Elvis Presley, Boney M were not so many. I remember myself when my sister brought home the entire collection of MJ recorded in 5 cassettes (yes, those were the cassette days) from college more than a decade ago. Thriller, Beat it, Bad and ghost were the first songs I heard. The first four English songs of my life. I was hooked. They were brilliant. I used to stare transfixed at the tv whenever his videos were aired. His cassettes were forever in the car stereo. I was a true blue Micheal Jackson fan. I still love his music. I did the same stuff every kid dreamt of, dancing like MJ and moonwalking like him. He will always be my true rockstar (though he is a pop icon), much before Metallica, Iron Maiden and the others took over.

Later into college, blessed with an enormous music collection on the LAN, I was hooked to Jackson 5. I had caught a few numbers ages ago and had been wanting to listen to them ever since. I was delighted. MJ did stand out even then being one of the youngest. His ballads were soulful and a real treat to listen to. He was a pop-legend in the making even then. And you just had to listen to him sing once to determine that.

Of course, his life has been more controversial than an average pop star’s life. What amazed me more is him grafting his skin (which now people say was a disease that caused him to turn white – I doubt that) and his continuous tinkering of all his body parts. People called him mad, imbalanced and crazy. But honestly, most of these superstars are. After all if every move of your life is a headline and is tracked by a hundred photographers, it is difficult to stay normal. These people should be loved and admired for their skills, their art, their music and MJ was the master of his game. One of the true iconic entertainers of his time.

Ending this sombre post on a hilarious note, the funny joker rightly said “So Michael’s career did end with an arrest after all”.

May his soul rest in peace. His music will be played and will continue to enthrall the world for a long, long time to come.


Feeding a fussy eater

Fussy eaters are always a problem and when the party in question cannot talk in human language, the problem is multiplied by a neat factor of 10-50 depending upon his highness’s mood. Yes, I am talking about my Whisky. (You should know who he is by now)

So the day starts with a compulsory walk and the expert urinologist takes to his work immediately. What would be an otherwise brisk 45 mintue walk is converted into an hour what with his careful analysis of every tree and the various parapets all over the colony. Of course it is an hour if you exclude those days when he meets his enemies and then gets irritated and barks at everything he sees or asks for a ride on your shoulders. But mostly, the morning walks are the easiest part of the day.

Then comes ladies and gentlemen, the toughest portion – feeding. I have only heard of Tenali Raman making his cat wary of milk by burning her tongue everyday. My dog here, is a complete natural. Give him no food and he is the happiest you can find.
His feeding is an elaborate procedure. The milk needs to be cold, the curd fresh (even if it is a little sour, it is rejected by him instantly), the rotis need to be finely mashed, the papaya pieces sweet and eggs (only yellow please – though we force the whites in ) and the whole concoction needs to be frozen to an extent that it falls in the shape of the bowl into his. Then the spooning starts. Yes, spooning.

He had his share of histrionics from the start. He spotted those interesting vessels called casseroles and wanted his food to fall from that. So everyday his food would be mixed and kept, transferred to a casserole and then emptied from it in his presence. His highness would then give a smug smile and slowly approach his food. He loved bringing potatoes from their basket in the kitchen and making a nice pile under the dining table. Only the putting back would be my task. He loves toppings – biscuits, cake, sweet (all banned) but once he knows some such thing is in the house he wont let go without some sprinkling of those on his food. Never a non-vegetarian, he dislikes most dog food though he ate Pedigree for a couple of years (in a totally unrecognizable form – soaked in milk,mashed to a Cerelac consistency). He even took to eating the Caviar we got in so many tins thanks to Dad’s Russian friends. Only to get bored in a month and then run away with the same speed from it as we did.

Whew, its not been easy feeding him all this time. Every choice of his took twice as long to be found since he cannot tell us exactly what he wants ( though now we have a fairly nice idea what it would be like – full of salty and sweet dishes – even dogs like their level of junk you see).

Now you know why I say – Its busier at home. 🙂
Muah Whisky.

Chinese Embarassment

I celebrated my graduation with my parents in Sikkim. It was a sudden holiday planned in order to spend some quality time together away from the hassles of everyday work. It would also be a long time before our family reunites thanks to some hectic schedules in the coming months for each of us.

It is a beautiful place. Paradise of sorts. I cannot possibly string together enough superlatives of the cool locales of Sikkim having just come from a hot-as-hell place myself. It is gorgeous, with all the mountains and the clouds drifting into your hotel rooms, the fog, the rain hmmm…its a different world out there. The one day we spent in Sikkim, I insisted on going all the way upto Nathu-la (the famous pass and one of the original silk-routes bordering China (Tibet)). I had seen enough monasteries in Dharmshala and Mcleodganj to satiate my urge to see more ( Rumtek is the famous one in Gangtok). Our clearance was obtained, all the papers sought in a jiffy and we were on our way to the border.

The road was awful (almost non-existent) and the rain and clouds bore down upon us mightily. It took an unusually long time to get there, exceptionally long even by local standards but it was a breathtaking drive. We passed around 100 army trucks laden with horses, provisions, troops and other eclectic mix of things being taken to the base camps below and others trucks moving troops to the upper reaches. After a bone-shaking five hour drive we reached Nathu-La. It was spectacular!

After a 500m walk and a few steps, we saw the barbed wire between the nations that formed the border. Five chinese soldiers stood there gawking at the huge crowd. Only thing they kept asking is “Why so many people today?”. Suddenly one Indian extended his hand to an armed chinese guard standing a few feet away. The chinese soldier stubbornly turned his face away saying a brute “NO!” to the Indian. This sparked off a major chant of “Jai hind”, “Mera Desh Mahan” which snowballed into full recitals of the National Anthem. I was embarrassed. You could see muscles tighten and faces fall in the Chinese battalion. I wanted them to stop singing. I wish they did.

The lone Chinese officer asked one lady politely if there was any special occasion to draw such a huge crowd to the border. I dont know if she understood the question because she replied “We are true Indians” and chanted “Bharat Mata ki Jai” complete with the arm movements. I fled from that place. I wanted to slap that lady myself. Why incite? Why provoke?

On the way back down I kept thinking about this incessant show of uncalled-for patriotism that we Indians seem to have in plenty. Only if they showed this concern and care for our country when they spit on the road, use the roads/rails as public toilets or damage/misuse public property, perhaps India would already be a superpower.

Now that was a Chinese embarrassment!

My Vote of Thanks

I’ve been waiting for this day and week forever. Somehow, no matter what your enthusiasm in the beginning might have been like, you begin to crave for the end pretty early. This is a customary goodbye post (for me to read and reminisce later) and a mute pondering over the notable absence of prolonged interest in almost everything we take up.

My first two month internship was (to be succinct) a total disaster. I did get a decent project (which amusingly was more core than my six-month project). But everything else was pretty awful curriculum wise. Stuck in a dorm full of nurses with their weird timings and case discussions “ Oh he began to ooze pus and blood and then the doctor suggested…” and my desperate effects to take out the gory images from my head by going under a pillow or maybe my excellent in charge who used to yell and get irritated as and when the mercury rose are a few of things I’ve given up trying to forget. I do also remember the good things like starting my weekend early Thursday morning which continued well into Tuesdays or watching the rain from my top-bunk with the whole city getting washed in front of me. Ah, this post has clearly diverted from where it began.

That was 50 days. This was half a year. A fortnight into the intern, my interest began to wane hitting rock bottom by March. Somehow, whatever I had thought of it (which in itself was very pathetic owing to the vivid experiences of my batch mates who completed it earlier) was still much better than what it had become. It was then the lure of the end began to sink in. As April ended (rather slowly) my thoughts focused on this particular week. No matter what other activities you take up, reading, running, gymming, blogging, the fact that you had to spend your entire day in the office trying to keep your spirits up was taxing in itself. I’ve been trying to be optimistic and enjoy every little thing here (which I eventually did), but nothing makes me happier than the sweet glorious end. Maybe it is the impatience or curiosity of young blood that craves to be interested, tested, challenged all the time. Once, you straitjacket it into a routine, the interest takes a beating. (Or maybe it’s just me who wants new stuff to do or think all the time!)

Pune is a nice place. Chinchwad is exactly the opposite of nice, whatever it is. Anything you find remotely pleasing in Pune is missing in Chinchwad. It is crowded, stupid, creepy, dirty, smelly and in short simply disgusting. Pune is nice. It is pretty, calm and quiet. (Not the traffic though). I somehow never find the right adjectives for this place. It doesn’t surprise me or come across as having anything spectacular, but makes you feel good when you are a part of it. I like the fact that this place has the maximum concentration of bookshops; a very huge student population which makes you feel you are living in some giant residential campus, is hep and well-dressed and speaks a language not too difficult to grasp. If I would have lived in the proper city, I might have missed it like crazy. But thanks to Chinchwad, the pain of separation is rather less. I am happy to have gotten a chance to live here. But seriously, bye-bye Pune, enough for one time!

The only person I’ll miss is Sonali. I’ve no words of gratitude to the heavens to have given me her as a fellow intern. Firstly, I would have been rendered completely insane for want of sensible female company. (The male company…err…Umm…The less said, the better.) Secondly, she is a wonderful person. Always enthusiastic about everything, she is a far cry from the choosy, picky people who have a problem with almost anything. For the first time, we both could go and gorge on anything we wanted to, go anywhere, anytime, not fuss about anything, comment and talk about any thing, anyone and most importantly, I got a chance to glimpse her campus life on the inside and ponder over how different the culture at the two campuses are. You saved my life these six months Sonali and I can’t thank you enough for that.

To an extent, I’ll miss my cubicle. The chair whose cushions are now contoured perfectly to fit my bottom, the desk drawers who secretly stored my apples, peanuts, cheese, magazines, ipod and saved my life during the day, my familiar keyboard and huge 19 inch desktop monitor which makes me feel I’m sitting inside the program and lastly, my cubicle mates. They were awfully nice people who never questioned me about what I was doing even though being suspicious of my huge pdf documents (e-books) or smiling though my sessions of juggling multiple chat-windows and wiki-pages. They always appreciated my work and helped me understand their products and bore my silly questioning. They gave me generous helpings of birthday cakes, Temple prasadam, sweets, namkeens and guided me on where and how to go to places. Sweethearts indeed.

Maybe I should stop thanking now otherwise I’d even start thanking my breakfast cereal! But overall, it was an experience of a lifetime. I complete my Bachelors with this stint in Pune. Graduation! Yipppeeee!

Tata Pune, Tata BITS, Tata Thermax! Muah.

(PS: Gangtok is the destination to celebrate the completion! Nathu La, here I come! 😀 :D)

Not What I asked

Has it happened to you that the person often asks a different question which you hear as something else and well give surprising answers? In my case, it is almost routine since my bouts of cold leave my auditory senses only partly functional. But many a time the pronunciations and accents are so perplexing, you end up giving funny answers.

Case I: First day of office with the head of the Engineering Division.
Sir: Okay what’s your (u) sername?
Me: Chandrasekhar.
Sir: Illai ma, what is your (u) sername?
Me: (Now a little perplexed) Chandrasekhar only sir.
Sir: Aiyo! Ellai maa..OOSERNAME…the one we put on the computer..!!
Me: Oh! That…
(I walked away minutes later thinking maybe his impression of my IQ must be hitting rock bottom!)

Case 2: To the Cashier at the desk:

Sir: Kiske saath ho yahan par? (Who are you with here?)
Me: Ten others sir.
Sir: You are with ten people! I need all their signatures on your salary voucher.
Me: You need the signatures of my PS mates on my voucher?
Sir: Yes, 10 of them. Which department here has 10 bosses? (Thankfully in English)
Me: Oh! No no, I have just one boss.
(Only then I realized the first question was about the boss)

Case 3: With the Head of Finance (A true blue Oriya)

Sir: Are you a (some word I didn’t understand) Trainee?
Me: (Nodding vigorously upon hearing trainee).
Sir: How come it says Engineering department on your voucher?
Me: I’m in engineering department.
Sir: How come you have management trainees in engineering department?
Me: I don’t think we have management trainees in the engineering department.

(He was now positively gaping at me and slowly shaking his head in disbelief. Only later, another Ps mate told me that he had enquired about me and was relieved to know I wasn’t a management trainee after all!)
He reminds me every time he meets me “Since you are from an engineering college you are an engineering trainee, understand? Management trainees are from Management Colleges”, before telling his colleagues “Some youngsters just don’t have the IQ , its genetic you know”.

I went to get my final voucher approved from him today and he asked me something I didn’t understand (I had already asked him to repeat his question) and just caught the words “yahan par?”
I instantly replied “Till 13th June sir!”
He smiled and said “I actually asked who your boss here is, but your information was useful too”.
“Babu Sir”, I said sheepishly.
“Finally”, he said “You told me the name of your boss. You shouldn’t be so scared to take his name you know”.

I’m sure the heads of finance and engineering are putting their heads together and muttering something darkly in disbelief every time I pass. I just can’t stop laughing at myself imagining their discussion about me!