Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Whatte Design

To all those who've been asking for design specs of my bookshelf. When you build one, please mail me a picture of it loaded with books and CDs. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A hilarious email forward I received today.

The Times of India is read by people who think they run the country.

The Economic Times is read by people who think they own the country.

The Hindu is read by people who are not sure whose country it is.

The Indian Express is read by people who shouldn't run the country.

The Statesman is read by people who think they ought to run the country.

The Asian Age is read by people who think someone else should run the country..

The Hindustan Times is read by people who think Delhi is a country.

The Telegraph is read by people who think Bengal is the best country.

The Malayala Manorama is read by people who think Kerala is their country, and God's ... zimble !

The Mid-Day is read by people who can't think in this country.

The Pioneer is read by people who think the Brits ran this country better.

The Tribune is read by people who're more bothered about the country-side.

The Dainik Bhaskar is read by people in the country-side.

The Bombay Samachar is read by people who'd rather be in some other country.

The Saamna is read by semi-literates who think, tujhi aiee chi, everyone should fx%k off from country..

The Femina is read by the fat wives of the rich in this country.

The Stardust is read by people who care a shit who runs the country as long as she has big tits.

The Pune Times is read by some people who think the pub is their country.

The DNA is not read, but used to pack footwear by people going out of this country.
Seriously, how many newspapers in India really stand for something today?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The No-How of Pune

Once or twice a month, I travel down to Pune to my parents', who stay in a rather sprawling government bungalow in the hilly outskirts of Pune. For government largess, the bungalow is rather lavish, set in green surroundings with a private garden. The government does take good care of its employees (if you are in the right department and posting) and I enjoy my mostly peaceful stay there, if you don't count the errands my Mom takes pleasure in delegating to me ('say Apurv, why don't you get some potatoes, onions, cabbage,coriander, 10 kg atta and 8-9 other items at noon tomorrow?' Of course, the wake up calls for errands scheduled for noon begin at 8 am).

For a city perceived as young and modern, Pune is amusingly stiff and and quirky. 'Don't take off you slippers here', 'no services available between 1 pm and 4.30 pm', 'milk not available here', 'no discount on non refrigerated cold drinks', 'coughing not allowed at wash basin' are common signboard sightings in Pune. I don't think any city in the world collectively enjoys saying 'no' as much as Pune does. Shopkeepers get visibly irritated if you ask for an item they don't stock (though they clearly should by the particular nature of the shop). Consider this signboard outside a grocery store in Khadakwasla: 'Only Coca Cola available. Please don't waste our time by asking for Pepsi.' Even the Pope wouldn't be as dedicated to Christianity as Pune businessmen are to the cause of disabling their own profit. Their pet peeve is : 'I try hard to run this shop but the bloody customers keep disturbing me.'

Most auto rickshaw wallahs will refuse going to any of the destinations you ask of them. If you investigate further, it surfaces that they don't want to go to any destination, even if you offered double the fare. They want to sit there and stare at the stray dogs perhaps, or mine snot from their noses maybe, who knows. After all, what better place to enjoy a day long siesta than in the back seat of a rickshaw in a noisy auto stand, intermittently disabling commuting ambitions of people like you and me. I can visualize the chief of the Pune auto rickshaw union sitting in his dingy office and laughing out loudly to himself saying, 'Serves you right you imbeciles, always trying to go from here to there. Now please fuck off and go sleep the day off like us staring at stray dogs and mining snot. Ha ha ha'.

Punekars have successfully taken unhelpfulness to the levels of a performing art. Consider this signboard outside a paan-shop near the Pune railway station. 'Charges for asking directions: Rs 1 for distances upto 1 km, Rs 2 for 5 kms and Rs 5 for more than 5 kms.' A clear and effective deterrent. Those who do attempt being helpful are monumentally miserable at it. 'Reach Fergusson Road at the T junction and go up it and then go down the Bhandarkar Road'. Since none of these roads have a slope, the instructions must clearly mean that I should reach Fergusson Road and levitate above it and then drill myself into the ground at Bhandarkar Road.

The municipality is an active participant in this festival of disabling and saying 'no', something they do by not building any infrastructure for a fast growing and Infosys-ized city. If you were to walk into the offices of the Pune Municipal Corporation, I am sure that you will find signboards in cubicles such as 'building new flyovers not allowed', 'please do not widen any roads' or 'do not complete any project before 5 years.'

Despite all such quirks, Pune must be one of the most picturesque cities in India. I know of few large cities where you have a burger at Burger King one minute and be out driving into the misty hills with their beautiful lakes in the next hour. For the ample surroundings and scenic hills of the Western Ghats that lie right outside Pune, I love being in that town.

Traveling between Mumbai and Pune can be immensely pleasing if you take the train route. And within the various available trains, nothing beats the Deccan Queen.

The train is perfectly timed in morning and evenings to suit business and regular travelers alike. More than anything else, I just love the Pantry Car - where Fish and Chips or Baked Beans on Toast occupy the breakfast menu along with the legendary Chicken Cutlet and Veg Sandwich of the Indian Railways at affordable prices.

The waiters are extremely friendly and resourceful and will readily serve you custom demands ('Can you instead get Fried Fish with Bakes Beans and some warm milk?'), for which they are handsomely tipped by the older commuters, often by cheques.

So while you enjoy your breakfast, the train wades its way through the scenic hills of Lonavla and Khandala, poetically green and beautiful during the rains.

The train would however do good by providing electrical sockets at each seat for those with weak mobile batteries and laptops. I can't understand for the life of me why a nondescript passenger train from Kalyan to Kolhapur (that takes 18 hours for a 6 hour journey) can have this facility while the Deccan Queen cannot. Maybe the officer at the Railway HQ responsible for allotment of electrical socket-enabled bogies to trains (Shukla jee with hair in his ears and red tape in his heart) performs the allotment randomly through a lucky draw of chits. Maybe there is a whole gambling ring of bookies built around predicting which trains will get electrical sockets in Shukla jee's next lucky draw. Who knows.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Whatte Bookshelf!

After a lot of searching, it finally dawned that the Dream Bookshelf does not exist in a furniture shop, but has to be designed and made at home. And so it was that a friend and I embarked upon a search for crazy designs and finally mashed all our ideas together to get the above result. The carpenter took less than a week to build it.

Looks cool, whatsay? It can hold about 150 books in total, though I used the bottommost shelf for my DVDs and music. Efforts to fill the shelf with books are in full force too - vigorous biblio-retail activity, if you will. With four hours to kill Gurgaon last week, I spent them at the Landmark store and impulse-bought a few Bill Bryson titles and two more Jon Krakauer books. Added in a travelogue of Pakistan by American journalist Ethan Casey. Combined with the earlier William Dalrymples and Paul Theroux books, my collection of travel books is finally beginning to look good!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Airport lobby dynamics

We are living during times when all people waiting at airport (or hotel) lobbies have only two books to read - The Secret or The White Tiger. Books that a friend calls 'essential reading for the non-serious reader'. I don't mean this in a judgmental way (it goes without saying that when one says judgmental, it always means negatively judgmental), because with all due credit, the female variety at airport lobbies has progressed from the time when for about four and a half years, they were stuck with that other lobby-book 'Tuesdays with Morrie'. In hallways spread across this vast country - women of all sub-40 ages and pedigrees could be spotted gawking into the pages of Tuesdays with Morrie. I use the word 'gawking' confidently because they were always alternating surreptitious glances at the book in their hands and their surroundings - people in particular. One could almost transcribe the happenings within their minds: "So where was I? Third paragraph on the right-side page. But wait, look at that pink-clad elephant of a woman and her non-matching shoes. Such absence of dressing sense. Reminds me of so-and-so, that obnoxious friend of so-and-so. Back to paragraph 3. The man with the pink-clad elephant too has a potbelly. No wonder both..." No wonder their part-time glances at the books looked like gawking. Only that now, the subject of this timeshare gawking is Rhonda Byrnes' The Secret.

This overhaul in reading monotony from Tuesdays with Morrie to The Secret is by all means an achievement in the chronology of insignificant reading.

Men waiting at airport lobbies on the other hand had nothing much to pass time with until America introduced laptops to the world, except gawking at the women who were gawking at the books and at other women gawking at books. The advent of mobile phones then added a third occupation for the male kind. After going through the farcical modalities of security checks at our terrorist-friendly airports, our typical suited booted corporate-type pot bellied business development manager dude now finds an empty seat in the lobby and with a quick sprint of his handbag's zipper, flashes out the Lenovo laptop. Presently, the other hand reaches for the mobile phone, the screen of which without much delay is propelled towards the ear and stuck there. While the laptop boots up, he indulges in the habit of habits, and with one sweep of the eyeball surveys all the women gawking at books before returning his gaze to the laptop screen.

From here commences the intricately tripartite occupation, multi-task of multi-tasks - of talking loudly on the mobile while gawking at the book-gawkers and then passively at the laptop screen. Any expectations that the laptop screen might have an Excel sheet or a business proposal are quickly unfounded when you hear musical beeping sounds of balls bouncing against surfaces. The subject of our regard is playing one of those games called "Stupid games for pea-brained morons waiting in lobbies or traveling in metro trains." For those without laptops, these games also come in mobile versions, the juggling of which along with loud talking on phone is made easier by hands-free kits or Bluetooth headsets.

Moronic retail in mid air

One of the most amusing inventions to have found a place inside budget airlines of our times is the In-Flight Shopping Mall booklet. Every seat pocket contains apart from the safety instructions pamphlet and the in-flight magazine (these days containing articles fiercely running for that widely coveted prize called 'The Worst Travel Writing in the History of Mankind') a 16-page brochure listing down about two dozen extremely pointless items targeted towards abject morons. Passengers, all of whom obviously have an IQ of minus 150, are expected to marvel at the dull objects and be thrust towards indulging in the act of birdbrained retail 30,000 feet above sea level. As I perused through the brochure, I could not help but run through a few of them and examine their utility to mankind.

The Digital Musical Photo Frame is 'the most upto date way to store your photos. It's 7" screen allows perfect viewing while pleasant music plays in the background. Stand out from your friend's with this advance photo frame.' Must we mention that using this photo frame renders severe punctuational retardedness in you? Anyhow, the manufacturers of this musical photo frame have in a very focused manner targeted the shy and strong silent type people amongst us who while showing photographs of their childhoods or vacations to friends have nothing much really to say or narrate and consequently must break the awkward silence by playing music from the photo frame. I can imagine people sitting in the flight gasping in awe at the booklet and exclaiming, "Finally it is here! Music playing from where it always should have been - a fucking photo frame!"

Let us investigate the 'Bite Relief' gadget now, which is a palm-sized plastic object with a pointy rounded probe at one end and a button at the other and looks like one of those tops that when rolled on the floor emits light in various colors. The 'Bite Relief' gadget promises (and I quote verbatim) 'instant relief from mosquito bite. This genius gadget, relieve pain irritation when applied to effected area, simply click once and feel the pain disappear.' This contraption is unquestionably a boon for all masochists who love getting bitten by mosquitoes in order to use this gadget rather than use any one of the various kinds of repellants. If I were the owner of the company that manufactures this innovative gadget, I would serve this niche market of non-believers of 'prevention-is-better-than-ecstatical-scratching' better by also producing an electric mosquito that will first bite the skin so that the pathbreaking 'Bite Relief' can be used.

Among other whatsits that the In-Flight Shopping Mall booklet attempts selling to the nincompoops amongst us are nylon travel belts that cost Rs 960 and rucsacs that cost Rs 575. According to the creators, people who can afford travel belts worth Rs 960 will buy cheaper rucsacs. This must clearly be that emerging segment of customers who like to buy Rs 20,000 ice-cube trays that they will use in Rs 10,000 refridgerators.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

New tagline for home pesticide

Beast or Pest, Baygon Spray is the best.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

ʇı puıɯ

˙ɐƃoʎ ɥʇıʍ ƃuıƃƃolq xıɯ ɹǝʌǝu