Friday, November 30, 2007

The kid on the street

I saw him for no more than two seconds. He was sitting on the front steps of a shop whose shutters were down. He must not have been more than five years old. And it was this presence of his in the big, bustling business district that caught my eye.

He was dressed in rags. His face was covered in dirt. His hair was tangled and dirty, unwashed and brimming with sand and dirt. He was not wearing any shoes or chappal; I know because I took a step aside since I was scared I might stamp his foot by mistake.

The most intriguing thing about him was his stare. He was staring at his hands. And his hands held what appeared to be a very valuable possession for him – a shining one rupee coin.

Here I was, on this cold November evening, wearing my expensive jacket which was keeping me admirably warm and then there was this child, with perhaps no family to speak to, no education to support him and dressed in rags which did nothing to help him against the cold.

If I could go back and speak to him, I would tell him:

“Work hard. Your destiny lies in your hands. Shape your own future. No matter what anybody tells you, you can come out of any situation that you find yourself in. And no matter how hopeless the condition seems, never give up…kyunki picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!!” ~big smile~

Now playing: Bryan Adams - Summer Of 69
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How Indian Railways got their toilets

I have just finished reading a book titled ‘Entry from Backside Only – Hazaar Fundas of Indian-English’ by Binoo K. John. The book is about how we Indians have gone ahead and made the Queen’s language our language by inserting Hindi words into long-drawn English sentences and by making some English words (such as public, party, because etc.) very much a part of every day Hindi vocabulary.

And then, of course, there’s the undeniable manner in which we Indians can alter the rules of spoken English to suit our needs and yet, the person at the receiving end of such a speech is able to perfectly comprehend what the crux of the matter is. There are quite a few hilarious examples quoted, such as the professor in a college who admonished the boys throwing paper balls at girls from a gallery with the words ‘Why you do that? Under standing people will get hurt!’

The book also cites examples of popular scenes from Hindi cinema, like the Amitabh scene which I had blogged about a few weeks ago.

The book does tend to get pedantic at times and hence is fun only in parts.

Book rating: 3 out of 5

Here are a few fun excerpts from the book.

Excerpt 1:

One of the classics of writing in Indian-English is the letter by a train traveller to the authorities of the Indian Railways pleading for the introduction of toilets. Many newsletters and other journals brought out by the Railways contain this masterpiece.

Okhil Chandra Sen wrote this letter to the Sahibganj divisional railway office in 1909:

“I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with lotah in one hand and dhoti in the next when I am fall over and expose all my shocking to man and female women on platform. This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam guard not wait train five minutes for him. I am therefore pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report to the papers.”

It is said that it was this letter that resulted in the railway authorities introducing toilets in Indian trains.

Excerpt 2:

Jug Suraiya, in his long career in the Times of India, caricatured Indian-English with rib-tickling effect…On 2 May 2005, Jug wrote this bylined article in his favourite epistolary style, from an Indian-English user of the Oxford dictionary. The occasion for such pieces, which comes when a revised OUP edition is published with new Indian usages and words, is a cause for celebration and opinions are expressed about how Indians are now rightly striking back at the empire.

“My head is eating circles and circles over all this golmal about new Oxford University Press (OUP) Advanced Learner’s Dictionary having Indlish (i.e. Indian-English) wording-From A for ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) to Z for zulm (cruel treatment i.e. Police doing zulm by giving danda to publics committing nuisances in frontside of mantrijis dwelling abode in capital) – we are using in our daily to daily gup-shup. One auntyji, whose good name and hailing from what native place I am not knowing but putting up at my backside itself, is telling that it is a very shame-shame business which will make us laughing joke of whole world as because of our khichri way of speaking. Just I am saying her, please not to take it otherwise but what it goes of your worthy father if all outside people learning our bhasha which even if I am telling myself is too good only.

We are not needing OUP dictionary to be knowing that all such talks are not bogus lafra but simply way we are speaking from Kapurthala to Kanyakumari, ay-ay-yo. Loin in Punjab is not private part which decent gentry not mentioning in front of convent educated ladies and small baba-log but big animal first putting up in jungle and now in cage in joo where people paying money to come and see it. Any gujarati snake is not king cobra, not even on Narendra Modi, but just it is time-pass like ghatia.

And suchlike that all Patelbhais are having between morning tiffin and nightly dal-bhat. Outside gentry not having inside khabar on loins and ‘snakes’ and joos was getting too much shocked and ghabrooed and telling that India is most third class and hopeless place full of rascal people that is best avoid karo.

As first to first attempt to show outside world how we are speaking, OUP dictionary deserves shabashi. Tourist people and foreign sethijis and moneybags will now be knowing that India is number one locality for making holiday or doing dhanda-baazi without any khit-pit or gich-mich. But while OUP is giving many good dialoges of local people like ‘Don’t take your grandfather’s time to do your homework’ – no doubt very fine dialogue which with my own ears I am hearing first time only – it is not telling anything about grandfather’s better half i.e. nani as in ‘I will make you remember your nani’ most famous dialogue popularized by late Rajiv Gandhi who another one time also told ‘Hum losenge ya jeetenge’. Also OUP is mentioning chargesheet but not CBI, hawala scam etc which are leading dialogues of India today.

OUP editor, kindly to ensure correction of all such omissions, commissions and kickbacks. And how it is that OUP is telling that is dictionary of ‘Current English’ when whole brother-in-law world, i.e. puri Sali duniya, is knowing that current English is same to same as current Hindustani except letterings are in Roman script, not Devnagri? Please to be doing needful. Bahut shukriya aur hazar thanks.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

These shopkeepers I tell you !!

So my parents and I had called an uneasy truce. We were not going to talk about my marriage. (This, of course, doesn’t stop my Mom looking hopefully at me each time some cartoon character decides to drive his ‘baraat’ past the lane which I live in.)

Anyway, this being the season of weddings, I had to go to a gift shop to buy a suicidal nut a gift for his reception. Mom and Dad decided to come along as well.

Shopkeeper: Aiye, aiye. What can I do for you?

Dad: We need to buy a gift…

Shopkeeper: Anything specific… any particular occasion?

Me: Umm…Yep. I need to buy a wedding gift.

Shopkeeper (looks at me and smiles understandingly): Oh sure, sure. So, what kind of gift would your fiancé like?

Me: GRRRRRRR !!!!!!!!

Now playing: Kailash Kher - CHAK DE PHATTE
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Mid-November night's tale

It was a cold November night. The air had a strange stillness about it. The streets were deserted. A gloomy fog hung over the city of Kolkata, lit only by the pale, yellow street lights. Far away, a clock tower struck eleven. A beggar lying on the pavement adjusted his tattered blanket and mumbled in his sleep.

A car screeched to a halt. The two men inside looked at each other. A quick glance at the building and they both knew what to do. The man at the steering wheel looked again to his left, as if looking for a confirmation. The other man, the sinister looking guy with rimless glasses and a clean shaven face, nodded his assent. “Make the call,” he said.

The driver flipped out his cell phone and dialled the number.

The phone kept on my bedside table rang with the customary Sholay ring-tone. I groped around in the dark for the phone and my fingers somehow found the answer button.

“Hello,” I said in my half sleepy voice.

“KAMEENE !! So raha tha ? Get up, we’ve to go for Rajat’s bachelor party,” Pramod screamed into my ears.


This was how my true and trusted friends Pramod and Varun dragged me out of bed last night to go to Shisha – The Hookah Bar on Camac Street. Our friend Rajat, a nice guy who has a wonderful knack of inventing embarrassing situations for himself, is getting married this Sunday and yesterday was the bachelor party.

Now before the young studs of Kolkata, who reached this page by entering the search words “Kolkata bachelor’s party” in the hope of finding leads to strippers, get their hopes high, let me warn you that I’m a very decent sorta fellow who comes from a conventional Gujju family: my idea of a nice evening is sipping hot tea and eating spicy ‘theplas’ which Mom prepares. In other words, our night-out yesterday was all about drinking Bacardi Breezer (“lime flavour please”) and a couple of glasses of vodka with Coke, nothing more.

Oh yes of course, the girls were there. And very pretty too. And they looked extremely graceful when they danced away to dance tracks from Rihanna, Nelly Furtado and the Hindi film hits. Problem is I’m someone with two left feet; the best dance move that I’ve ever managed is when I copied Chandler’s dance style when he found out that he was the best sex Monica ever had.

All in all, it was a nice, fun evening. What was even better was that after the party got over, I went over to a pal’s place and just sat and had a long chat with him. It was nice to finally catch up with him; he’s a childhood friend from school and we’d not been getting to meet up at all in the last couple of months.

And oh yes, before I complete the post, let me ask you to comment on whether you think I could ever write a suspense novel, basing your judgement on the first couple of paragraphs of this post. ;)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Position Vacant - Interested Candidates May Apply

What Kind of Girl Will You Fall For?

You will fall part for the cutie. You like girls with a personality. She's got to have a nice smile and a sense of humor. Although she doesn't have to be a model, she has to be that girl-next-door.
You will fall part for the independent woman. You like girls that'll put up a fight with their words and their fists. Her conversation must be stimulating and controversial. She's got to have her own friends, her own car, and her own place. Most importantly, she can't be a "barnacle-on-a-whale" type.
Find Your Character @

Monday, November 19, 2007

What A Wonderful World

It’s been a long day and I’m dead tired to say the least. Things got really complicated (as they tend to become around me, don’t ask me how I manage it ~grins~) over the weekend and I am absolutely sleep-deprived right now. Somehow, though, I can’t seem to find it in me to drop off to sleep.

And although I would just love to write a really long post, I’m just too weary. Pleasantly weary though. Nothing like a day when you’ve worked hard and know that it’s been worth every minute of it.

And so, I’m going to calm my nerves by jotting down the lyrics of a song that I’ve been hearing repeatedly on my iPod. It’s one of those songs which always makes me smile and brightens my day up, no matter how it might have been up till that point.

What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom
For me and you

And I think to myself,
‘What a wonderful world’

I see skies of blue
And clouds of white
The bright blessed days
Dark sacred nights

And I think to myself,
‘What a wonderful world’

The colours of the rainbow
So pretty in sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying ‘How do you do’
They’re really saying ‘I love you’.

I hear babies cry
I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know

And I think to myself
‘What a wonderful world’

P.S. I VERY VERY seriously advise you to view this video and listen to the song. There's very little chance that you won't like it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How you doin' ?

Which Friends Character Are You?

You are Joey. You may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but you're unrivalled when it comes to the opposite sex. You're a great friend, going great lengths when needed. Remember: your friends are your lifeline and you'd better not leave them behind. Success will be hard to find without them around.
Find Your Character @

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I finally decided to join Facebook albeit with a bit of scepticism. After all, I already am on Orkut and a man can get tired of social networking sites. But, I must admit, I’m already hooked to Facebook.

I guess the reason is because it bundles quite a few things together. First, there’s unlimited photo storage, unlike Orkut, which I think has currently put a limit of 50. Next, there’s the cool Flixster application where you can keep track of the movies that you and your friends have seen. Also, there’s the Books application whereby you can keep track of books that you’ve read, edit reviews and rate the books. And of course, there’s Scrabulous. I haven’t played much, but I have a feeling I’m gonna get hooked.

All in all, much cooler than Orkut. However, it’ll take some time to build my friends network there, most of my pals are on Orkut.

P.S. – I know the column on the right shows that I’m currently reading ‘The Toyota Way’, but I’m also reading ‘The Story Of My Life’ by Helen Keller. I wasn’t really sure I would like the book, but then this bit on the first page itself caught my attention and I knew that I just had to read the book:

‘One of my Swiss ancestors was the first teacher of the deaf in Zurich and wrote a book on the subject of their education – rather a singular coincidence; though it is true that there is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his.’

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Losing My Virginity - Richard Branson

Richard Branson recounts how he went along the idea of having fun and as a by-product created the Virgin group. An extremely inspirational book, it documents how he started off with a vision of creating a national student magazine, stumbled into the music business, ventured into the music retail industry only because of a postal strike and then, one fine morning, thought of starting Virgin airways because, in his words, “it sounded like a lot of fun.”

The book gives a detailed insight into the fight that Virgin Atlantic got into with British Airways and the libel suit that Virgin ultimately won. It also shows how although Branson has this extremely colourful and playboy like image, the man has a smart business brain ticking all the time. His confession that he almost always carries a note-book with him in which he scribbles down ideas and to-do lists at a frightening pace shows how he always likes to be ‘in the game’.

All in all, a delightful read. I would give this book a rating of 4 out of 5.