Friday, 23 November 2007

Travails of a ‘phoren/faareen’ return

4 months back.

‘Which company are you going to work for?’

‘So you are going to London? Is it temporary or permanent?’

‘Have you bought warm clothes?’

‘Get yourself MTR ready-to-eat stuff. My husband’s brother’s wife’s sister’s son’s friend went to London last year and he faced a lot of problems due to food.’

‘Buy suitcases from ABC shop in Parel. They are the cheapest in the town.’

‘Get leather stuff from Dharavi, they are really cheap. My husband’s brother’s ………. got it from there.’

Now, during my week long vacation.

‘Hi, how are you?’

‘How’s London life?’

‘How’s the food there?’

‘How are you finding the work?’

‘How did you get one week leave within 4 months of joining?’

‘How much does it cost for a round trip? Which flights are the cheapest?’

‘You have become thinner, haven’t you?’

‘Do you cook yourself?’

‘What have you brought for your parents from London?’

The questions changed in 4 months, but they never change from people to people. It’s like they print a model questionnaire and circulate amongst themselves before they meet us. It’s unbelievable, how even the order of questions doesn’t change. Sometimes I doubt, whether they sell things like 'SSC: 21 Most Likely Question sets' for these sort of questions too. I should check Navneet publications' website now.

The most annoying part of all these questions and the conversations is their reference to the relatives or acquaintances staying or having travelled abroad. Somehow, this has become a status symbol nowadays. Stuff like 'I have my brother's wife's sister's husband's brother in US' have become commonplace, especially with Tam Brams.

The funnier thing is in matrimonial sites. I happened to see some profiles of Marwari girls for my friend. Some of the details in those profiles are:

- Bua settled in US with two kids

- Mother's brother (Mama) is a professor in UK (This is exactly how it was written in a profile)

This sounded ridiculous. There is no mention of any other mama or chacha, only those settled abroad are mentioned. If I am going to marry a girl, why would I be interested in the fact that the girl's bua is settled in US or UK or even Pluto?

Enough said. We'll discuss it later. One more family friend has turned up at my house. Have to by-heart my answers quickly.

Haha! Somehow this reminds me of our childhood days. Do you remember, when we were kids, every Tom, Dick and Hari we met used to rag us by asking us to recite rhymes, shlokas and stuff?

'What do you want to be when you grow up?'

'Tell me about Jack and Jill'

Questions like these were usually followed with a conditional bribe of a goodie. 'Only if you answer me, you'll get the chocolate, else Uncle will eat it himself'

Some things never change.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Antithesis - Part 2 - Life

Four days had passed by after my tennis court misadventure. The bandage on my chin gave me Amitabh Bachchan’s white beard look in Kaun Banega Crorepati. Still the gully cricketer inside me did not die and I played in the Combos Cricket match with my bandage on.

Next day. I had to get my stitches removed. Everybody was surprised to hear this, since they thought that nowadays doctors use dissolvable stitches. I had no clue about the medical advancement in this area. Maybe this stemmed from my dislike of blood and the resultant indifference to the medical profession.

My parents had wanted me to become a doctor. But, once when some nail had gone into my thigh, the doctor had to use some acid to remove the nail and the resultant lesion. I vomited and then passed out, just by seeing blood ooze out from my thigh. There ended my parents’ dreams. ‘Ivan urupadavey maattan’

I asked Khetan to accompany me to the hospital. He was just learning to ride a bike. So, he wanted to take me to the hospital on a bike. But seeing my face, he decided against experimenting with a weakling and took me in an auto instead.

On reaching the OPD, I saw a crowd had gathered outside the room. The doctor seemed to be in a hurry and asked me to lie down on the bed in one corner of the room. There was a team of doctors around the other bed in the room. The guy on the bed was bleeding from all over his torso. From the murmurs around me, I came to know that he was stabbed 17 times by his business rival and his condition was very serious.

The scene looked straight out of a Bollywood climax, where the hero gets injured and the doctors and nurses run around here and there. Finally, the doctor removes his glasses and says ‘Inhe dawa ki nahi, dua ki jaroorat hai.’

But this is real life. I could feel the tension amongst the doctors. Only one doctor was free and hence, he was removing my stitches. I was all the time trying to peek at the other guy. Once, I actually pushed the doctor aside as if he was a hindrance. He got annoyed and then pushed the curtain and blocked the view.

The job was over and I could leave now. I hurriedly, pushed the curtain back as I left and glanced at the other bed. There was some activity amongst the doctors. As I went out, I could hear the doctor telling the people who had gathered there, that they could not save the guy since there was too much internal bleeding.

Amidst some loud crying by the relatives, me and Khetan went to the first floor to pay our bills. We walked slowly with a heavy heart silently mourning for the person whose name we did not know, but what we definitely knew was that he was very young and should have lived longer.

The first floor was also filled with tension. There was a group of people sitting on a bench and we could see tension in their faces. As we moved to the billing counter, a nurse walked out of a room and said to the people on the bench,

“Congratulations! It’s a male child. Both mother and child are safe.”

Life goes on.

Sunday, 18 November 2007


'Hey Tim, I am going for a break now. Handle any secondary market pricing calls that may arise.'

'Karthik, you are Indian. You are not supposed to take breaks!'

'I am not Asok'

Monday, 12 November 2007

Antithesis - Part 1 - 'Jaws'

Venue: IIMA Tennis Courts, 2 am
A floodlit cricket match, going on between two teams on the hard tennis courts. I was fielding at the edge of the court. Quandi hit a cover drive, in my direction. However, it was moving away from me. Since, it was a close match, the spirited gully-cricketer in me, who has grown up watching Rhodes, Gibbs, Ponting dive around and glamorously stop the fast moving ball, momentarily got inspired, forgot that he was a paunchy, unathletic, muggu, bespectacled waste and dived for the ball.


This is not the lush Lord’s, this is the hard tennis court. Small birds were flying and chirping around my head, a la Tom and Jerry. I had directly landed on my jaws like an aeroplane whose front tyres refused to come out.

Now I looked like Anil Kumble in two ways. Firstly, I dived and still let the ball go through me as if I was ‘hollow man’ (or Anil Kumble at gully doing Namaskarams to the ball. Don’t tell me you don’t know about his fielding style!), and then I had a bleeding jaw. The match stopped immediately. But the blood didn’t.

My chin was bleeding profusely, for a second it looked like I had a red ‘goatie’. I was not feeling anything in the lower teeth and jaws. I was barely muttering. Everybody converged around me and looked at my chin like seeing a live biology specimen. Soon, Lifty took me to Amrit, who was a doctor. Till then, I had a belief that it was just a scratch. But when I was about to leave the tennis court, I started to panic a bit. What if I had broken my jaw? What if my teeth had become loose? What if I am unable to speak after this? Lots of insane thoughts muddling my mind!

Amrit suggested I should get stitches on my chin. Me and Lifty left for the hospital immediately. On the way to the hospital at 3:15 am, we saw an autorickshaw and a bike collide and skid, a scene straight out of the final scenes of a typical ‘action’ Bollywood movie, where vehicles are tossed around aimlessly to show the effect of bombs exploding and the hero walking next to them unscathed. But here? I was already numb, both physically and mentally. I thought, “Whose face did I see first, today morning? Main usko maar daalunga kal!”

When we reached the hospital, I was rushed into the casualty ward. The doctor looked at his watch and gave me a smirk when I said I was injured while playing cricket .It was 3:30 am. The he saw my wound and talked some technical stuff which I had no idea about. It reminded me of my mother’s face when I used to explain nanotechnology to her. Then, slowly, the tailor, err..the doctor went abouot stitching my face. Whenever he was pulling the thread out, it felt like he was pulling my imaginary beard. (‘goatie’)

Finally, the job was done, and me and Lifty returned back to campus.
Next day: My request on the institute message board for requesting movies
Required: Jaws!!