Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Up and down

8:22 AM - A takes up navigation duty after P’s GPS screws up and ‘We have arrived’ us at random junkyard 

A: Go straight for some time and take the left a little after the next signal. 

P (to M): Ivan yen India-la irukkara maadhiri direction solraan? 

P (placatingly to A): Ey, just enter the destination and ask Google to suggest the route no! Please, just read out whatever it says. Now, which left do I take?

A: The one you just missed. Get the next one at least, get into the left lane, quick! 

P (makes sharp turn and mutters darkly): Thalayezhuthu!

9:05 AM - Arriving at destination deemed by A

P: Are you sure we’re at the right place? Why aren’t there any boards with cool pictures?!

A: (leads the way into alley which opens into a huge hall and an office)

M: (points to framed caption kept in office)


P: (swallows)

9.15 AM - Contemplating the 10-page contract which drills into our heads in 23 different ways the message that jumping out of a plane at 15000 feet might be the last thing we do and Skydive Monterey Bay still have no legal responsibility

P: What if this results in permanent .. (points to head and struggles to find the right scary medical term)

M: Hairfall?

P: $#%^*@. Cerebral damage!!!!

9:45 AM - Handing over forms to Hyper Lady in not-so-nice-up-close pink shirt, ready with $600 in cash

H (smiling brightly): Great, so that’s $210 for the diving, and $89 for the video! Plus taxes! 

P: Oh, no, we don’t need the entire video, we’d just like one still photo each, can’t we get that?

H (nodding vigorously and waves arms expansively): For sure! You can use your own camera and take as many pictures as you like on the ground, no problem at all!

P (flat tone): Do you accept part payment by card?

11:05 AM - Belly butterflies begin settling down. There’s an interview atmosphere with the mostly desi crowd huddling around the notice board everytime they put up the next batch of jumpers. Four lists up with no mention of P, M or A 

P (walking over to H): Hey, they say our turn is only at 3PM. Do you think we can get out and come back at 3?

H: Oh, please do! Go out, do something fun! 

P: Cool, and how much time would it take here once it’s our turn?

H (points thumbs up and down): Ten minutes up, six minutes down! And you guys've come on the perfect day, the weather couldn’t be better! 

(self congratulatory smiles all round)

12:30 PM: Point Lobos. Nip in the air, lovely scenery, just the right amount of  physical exertion.






2.20 PM: Bistro 211. Super pleasant decor, menu looks inviting

M: Ooh look they actually have a whole vegetarian section! Hmm I can’t decide between the quesedilla and the veg omelette!

M (calling waitress): I’ll have the veg omelette. Just to confirm, it doesn’t have eggs right?

Waitress (politely bewildered): Um no, it does have egg, that’s what makes it an omelette.

'Oh. I’ll have the vegetarian quesedilla, thanks' (Exit waitress)
(defensively) 'Hey, back home they just give you some sort of uthappam when you ask for veg omelette, ok?'

3:30-6:00 PM - Up and down

'Damn, I hogged too much. I'm paying a hundred bucks for a ten-minute footage of me throwing up all the way from 15k feet.'

'Ok people, huddle around, I'm going to be your jump master today and here's what you need to know - - Now I know that was a lot to take in and you're probably not going to remember any of it but that's ok. Just keep your eyes open, don't hold your breath, enjoy the view and trust me, you'll be fine. Ready to go?'

'Hey, M? My name's Tyler and I'm going to be your videographer. I'll catch you at the airfield for a quick interview before you're off, ok?'

'Ooh look the first one's jumped! There's another! Man, that is so cool'

'Your interview over? Nice! Why isn't anyone interviewing me I say!'

'Hey, get on that bus, come ON! There's no order, it's all FCFS, just follow my lead, you two!'

'Huh, we're at the hangar again! That bus brought us back!'

'Folks, we're very sorry but the weather doesn't look very promising now. The batch that just went up couldn't see the ground and we cannot jump in such conditions. I know you're all very disappointed but unfortunately, we don't control the weather. You may now take off your harnesses.'

6:15 PM - Back at the office. Lots of disgruntled muttering. The staff are handling each group calmly, with practised responses. Some of them sound bored. P keeps up a steady stream of under-the-breath cursing at the staff

Pissed off Mexican guy (trying hard to be fair): Ok, I get it, it's not your fault, it's not my fault. It's disappointing but it's nobody's fault. I get it. Now I just want my money back. 

Videographer who just sauntered in and overheard: And I want a gold medal. Can't all get what we want, buddy, sorry.

A (amused, on seeing that P shows no sign of relenting against a balaclava-clad staff member): You can be really mean to people whom you don't like no?

P: What do you mean! That idiot is just a stupid monkey... -cap-wearing man!

6:45 PM: Buckling up back in P's car. 

P: Thank god they gave full refund to out-of-state customers! Cha, if only it had worked out, it would've been the highlight of your trip, M!

M: Oh well, at least our hopes went skydiving!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Comment allez vous?

No, I'm not being civil - my comments have gone!!! No, seriously! All comments posted by fiddlesticks (or rip van winkle or that god-awful taffeta) have vanished! In this blog, in your blog, in every other blog she ever left her insights in.. before May 31 anyway.

This is no way to punish a blogger- ok, ex-blogger - for an extended sabbatical.

Someone bring them back and I promise to look after this space.

S'il vous plaƮt?

Friday, October 16, 2009


There must be something to this place if it made me of all people do a little solo drunken jig in my room now, to an unholy mix of TapYourFeet-ShakeYourAss-SwingDontWalk tunes belted out by the competing A-Top and B-First DJs.

If summers are here, can Diwali be far behind?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ignorance unravelled

Lately, I've been frequently told that I plead ignorance a little too often. No conversation with me would be complete without a few I dunno's. One friend, conversation with whom only recently upgraded from the hi-bye variety, was thoroughly bewildered at the frequency of occurence of that particular phrase. Out of genuine, well-meaning curiosity, he blurted out 'How on earth did you manage to crack CAT, when you reply 'I dunno' to four out of five questions I ask you?'. Notwithstanding the fact that the CAT, thank heavens, is not a technical exam, his confusion is understandable. And when I look back to a time when 'I know!' was as much of a catch-phrase with me as the opposite is now - well, the wheel has come half circle, I guess.

Anyway, for the uninitiated, take heart, it's not as bad as it seems. There's more to an 'I dunno' than meets the eye; here's a primer to get you started, decoding that annoyingly regular expression. The most important thing to remember when you encounter this regex is that it comes in different flavours. And each of them signifies something new. So without further ado, I present to you Fiddle's Five Flavours of Ignorance for Beginners. Enjoy maadi!

1. The Filler - Sometimes, when yours truly is feeling particularly chatty, she dispenses with the conventional Um-Hmm-Mmm family of fillers, and opts for a higher species. One that has a meaning, but need not mean it. Yes, you, reader with disbelief and exasperation mixed on your face, you've got it right - an 'I dunno'! All the listener has to do is wait a few seconds, while she fumbles with the flashlights, and, hallelujah! Darkness is replaced with light! Ignorance with knowledge!

'So what exactly is all this fuss about the N-deal about, anyway?'
'Oh I dunno... See, the UPA's yapping on about the deal ending our nuclear apartheid, the Left is convinced we're ageeing to dance to Uncle Sam's tune, and the BJP is just sore they couldn't swing it when they were in power. Everyone else is, as usual, singing praises, advocating caution or muttering darkly, depending on how close to the fence they're sitting. '

2. Bother-me-not - Although the author of this post usually tries not to be purposely unhelpful, there are occasions when the effort is simply not worth it. Especially when an answer, the best that she can summon, would anyway be vaguely incomplete, or completely vague, as the case may be. Sample this -

'What exactly is Brats' project there?'
Ideal answer - 'Rate limiting requests to a web caching server named Squid'
Possibly expected answer - 'Some squid thingy'
Probably received answer - 'I dunno'

3. Breath-saver - Quite often, it might happen that I do know a little more than nothing about what I'm asked, but one reply could lead to another question, which might well be asking for a flavour-five (see below) 'I dunno'. So I take the wiser of option of saving time, effort and thinking, and make it simpler for all concerned.

'Why do you go home every other weekend?'
'If my parents had their way, I'd be going every weekend. But seeing how all I do when home is sleep, sleep, and sleep some more, so much that they wonder if I have some disorder, I dunno why they want me to come.'

In other words, 'I dunno.'

4. Sarcaustic - Some questions are plain stupid. You are not supposed to ask them, in the first place. They really deserve a nice, sharp, biting answer, only I don't much feel like having the conversation, to begin with.

'You lost your laptop? I mean, ha ha, how can someone lose their laptop, for crying out loud?'
'I dunno'

And lastly,

5. Face Value - Ignorance - true, blue, through and through . I haven't the foggiest idea what you're talking about.

'Hey, what's SMPS? How does it work?'
'I dunno.'

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bring it on, Bengaluru

I’ve never really consciously fallen in love with a city before. Chennai is home, I was just born in love with it. Delhi is where chitapa lives and which is very hot. Hyderabad, when I visited it, was less about the city and more about first-trip-with-friends-just-enjoy-the-outing. Goa… is not a city. Which leaves us, in our discussion of the cities I remember being to, with Bangalore.

Everything about it – the good, the bad and the ugly (and it’s certainly got a generous share of the latter two) is so characteristic of the city, it’s hard to imagine it without them all. The traffic here does complete justice to all the hype about it - which is exactly what the autorickshaw scene has not done, especially to one used to the notorious Chennai autos. For a city so densely populated by migrants who speak in their native tongue with the locals, all the only-Kannada boards and banners are a bit of an overkill.  And for the first time in my life I’ve actually had to buy new moisturizer lotion. Add to that the cost of living, the jerks, the well-founded safety concerns, the unscheduled power cuts .. yep, it has its share of woes, B’lore does.

Whatever. Those minor almost-irritants are entirely tolerable when you step back and survey the experience this city throws at you, every day. The bus travel and walking on the road is all it takes to meet such a panoply of characters. The driver who recalled me and my destination the second time I boarded his bus;  the passers-by who became a friend for the ten minutes that we walked a common stretch to a yet-to-become-familiar bus stop; the burkha-clad bus lady who thrust a Jesus is God booklet into my hand just before getting off; the drunken auto guy’s friend who was convinced I was his sister; the guy who flicked my laptop and who could be but mostly isn’t reading unfinished drafts for new posts;  the people from Country Vacation who promised me a holiday worth 25k plus goodies if only I attended a short lecture and brought my husband along … and a dozen other people I will never see again, won’t remember after a few months, if not for this post.

Thinking about it, even those dampers can be quite fun if you’re in the mood to appreciate them. Getting up and going to work, already a marathon for late-risers like yours truly, has just become something of an obstacle-race-cum-suspense-thriller, thanks to the traffic and the auto-drivers who refuse to go to a place within a 3km radius during rush hour. Twisted delight perhaps, but who cares. Calculating - even as I hit the snooze button and roll over(after responsibly messaging the regular cab people that I won’t be coming) - which of the half-hour shuttles I’m targeting,  and accordingly when to get up; getting ready in half an hour flat; flagging down an auto after half a dozen others haughtily turn away when they hear ‘MG’; willing the traffic lights to turn Available from Busy; predicting the meter reading and fishing out exact change before we reach; running to the MGR Y!parking lot and reading the crucial expression on Security Uncle’s face before turning the fateful corner- to see the cab only just about to leave.. really, could I ask for a more knuckle-biting start to the day? Of course, we all win some and lose some, and there are days when the drama builds up to a major climax only to fizzle out as I see my comrade the Security Uncle shake his head sadly the moment I enter the arena. Nine and twenty minutes of reading all that can be read in DHNS/TOI and a consolation prize of a small nap during the ride to EGL, and I’m ready for whatever the rest of the day has in store for me.  It’s an exciting life we lead here, yessir.

Granted, any place will offer its own potpourri of experiences, if only you will open your eyes to it. This being almost the first time I’m consciously seeking and enjoying them, though, I will always look back at these memories with a special fondness. This truly is an amazing city, daily reasserting its unique spirit of fierce coexistence  - through the locals who share their city with the ever-increasing floating population; the Brigade Road fashionistas who remain defiant of the saffron brigade’s rising nuisance; the luxury-malls of UB City juxtaposed with the thrift shops on Commercial Street; the Mysore Silks and the Miu Miu bags.. you get the picture.

Bring it on, Bengaluru.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

:P atience

Eons since I blogged, I know. What can I say, any guilt I may have felt about letting this space rot has usually been compensated for by the full, full time I've been having here. New city, new life, new people, new lifestyle.. let's say I've been too busy savouring all the newness to record the feeling here :P

New post (proper one, I mean, not an excuse of a post, an excuse for no posts) coming up real soon, though, so hold your guns, oink, and watch this space :P

Thanks for your patience, see ya soon! 

Sunday, September 7, 2008

cut the carp already

The superstar quipped in his blockbuster Basha, ‘A Japanese will die if he cannot work. An American will die if he cannot -’, I forget what – ‘An Indian will die if he cannot talk.’ Sweeping generalizations aside, here in India, it is a thin line between a talker and critic, for we are a nation of armchair experts, of people who have an opinion about everything from the n-deal to the traffic congestion at pondy bazaar, and are only too eager to enlighten anyone with half a functional ear. They can (and do) wax eloquent on all and sundry issues with such panache it’d be impressive - if it weren’t for that pompous dismissal of the entire system. Chronic whiners are a dime a dozen, and finding one dysfunctional tap in a train can set them off into reciting Top 12 Reasons Why The Govt Is Hopeless. Replace Govt with Railways, Media, Auto-drivers, PFA people, pretty much any form of organized effort, and then some – and you have a decent picture of the specimens.

While it is entirely understandable that people are less than happy about a good many things beyond their control(and not even the most regular contact with the irritant can dampen the quibbling spirit), all the harping and carping, with no suggestions for improvement, can sometimes get maddening. These are the people who can list flaws and faults in a trice but balk at the prospect of putting their money where their mouth is, and actually doing (or trying to do) something more than passive criticism.

I’m not against complaining about the things that are, and the powers that be, and everything in between. Hell, no. This blog, this very post, is proof I’m not. What gets my case is how often we hear people saying- and I paraphrase - ‘Those idiots don’t know how to do their work; if only I’d been in their position the contrast would be so glaring’, when in fact they have no intentions of being in anyone’s position but their own. ‘The one thing the Electricity Board has to do is give us power’, they lament, ‘and that they don’t do properly. What has become of efficiency?’ Extending that logic, what if we were to say ‘The one thing man has to do is live, and that he doesn’t do properly. Tch tch’? Balderdash!

Complain all you want, but woe betide you if that’s all you will do! Join a club; vote; write to the editor; contribute for a cause – and not a one-time Bihar Flood Relief Fund either; teach someone to read and write; sign up for a clean-up drive sometime; tell a few kids that people come before gods; try using plastic bags less; conserve water, power, paper; and get others to join you. At the very least, do nothing positive but say nothing negative. Not all the time. Even most of the time is quite putting off, come to think of it. Few things are worse than being a noisy empty vessel.