Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

Know-brainer : No-brainer – Series Part 1

One day, a shishya (disciple) named ‘no-brainer’ finally met his Guru ‘Know-brainer’ after a lot of search and meditation. ‘No-brainer’ was very inquisitive and ‘Know-brainer’, realizing this, decided to answer some of his disciple’s questions. This Q&A, which would happen over a period of time would be represented as a series.

Here is the first part of the series (Shishya’s questions followed by Guru’s answers) –

1) Guruji, Why are desis in the US intent on debating American politics, get involved in heavy-duty discussions about who is going to be the next American president, watch Fox/CNN/MSNBC for the latest update on different campaigns – when in fact, none of the policies any of the presidents make affects them? Why is there an obsession to discuss American politics when they don’t have the right to vote, and even more embarrassing, they refuse to discuss/acknowledge the political happenings back in India?

ANSWER: Shishya, your question is culturally significant. Culturally and historically, we are known to be very self-centered and apathetic. As you sow, so you reap. Desis in the US lead very…erm…for the lack of a better word…interesting lives. Most of their life runs around pooling money to buy a house and subsequently pay EMIs for life, paying health and car insurance, paying heavy tuition fees for their kids and in general, lead a very dynamic life in making ends meet till their end. In such situations, an outlet for frustration in terms of discussing totally irrelevant, the inconsequential and highly insignificant is of paramount importance to the desi. To answer your second part of the question and since pithiness is in order in this world of infinite information, the singular answer is ‘ghar ka murgi daal barabar’.

2) Guruji, why is there a misplaced sense of the term ‘terrorism’ in India. I understand that in the US, the way things work, the logic is pretty clear – if you work for the US, you will be deemed a freedom fighter while working against US would coronate you with the word ‘terrorist’. However, what I am not able to understand is, in India, if a youth fires randomly on someone due to some frustration, he is branded a terrorist. In the same breath, ransacking railway stations, bringing the govt. to a halt and throwing stones at police is not terrorism. Is this a way of the world?

ANSWER: Shishya, you have asked a very important question but it has a simple answer – an answer which all Ph.Ds are aware of. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism, to steal from many is research. Similarly, one death is a tragedy and a million a mere statistic. I can go on and on, but again the rule of pithiness stops me. You should understand that our society does not allow individuality, does not allow us to challenge things and situations individually. We are a democracy – where opinion of 100 fools is more correct than of one genius. I see your frustration – but this is not Timbuktu. This is the Republic of India, funnily having a multi-party democracy and comical things such as these are bound to happen in a country where Times of India is read widely, Vijay Singh is a celebrity (golfer from Fiji, mistaken to be Indian because of the name) and Mamata Banerjee is a leader of a party.

3) Guruji, what is the harshest lesson that can be taught to Gilchrist after he insulted Ten’gul’kar in his autobiography, ‘True Colours’? And why do people have to resort to cheap publicity like this to gain sales? The backlash has been severe. What are the lessons to be learnt from this episode Guruji?

ANSWER: Shishya, you are touching upon very important questions today. There is Bollywood to the rescue of the Indian cricket fan like you and to the peril of Gilchrist (fondly called Gilly). Gilly, instead of just playing in the gully tried to steal the thunder from Mr. Cricket. Well, for starters, I think you can telecast Saawariya and God tussi great ho all across Australia on Saturday and Jimmy and Shabd on Sunday. That would serve as a  lesson, not only to Gilly but all Australian fans and cricketers who plan to write a biography or a autobiography or any graphy. Ideally, most of them would be dead by Saturday night but any remaining folks would certainly be killed on Sunday. That would take care of Gilly. The lesson to be learnt, my dear Shishya, is to be daring, cunning, controversial while writing a book or otherwise – it pays, in bounty, to have cheap…err..free publicity!

4) What is your message on the eve of Diwali Guruji?

ANSWER: Like life, my message is very simple Shishya – be healthy, wealthy and lead a prosperous and happy life. Don’t buy real estate, sell stock and hoard cash. Things are going to get worse before they get better. Value-buying is being bitch-slapped right now in all TV channels and newspapers – but who knows what ‘value’ is in this grim economy, which is supposed to get worse (with such news trickling in). Become an anti-consumerist for some period of time. Hold your expenses, and invest in yourself and be happy throughout your life. That, my dear shishya brings us to the end of our session today.

Wish you all a happy and prosperous Diwali! 🙂

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Festival of India

Last weekend, ‘Festival of India’ was conducted in our city. Now, ‘Festival of India’ in any city in the US necessarily attracts lots of food caterers first, along with the usual unnecessary audience which doesn’t make noise at an event. There were many interesting events, most of them with tiny-toddlers dancing away to glory while their parents were basking in reflected glory. There is indeed some magic in those little kids below the age of 6 not dancing, yet dancing (if you know what I mean!) – most of our group were spellbound by their charm and innocence. That, I must say, was the best part.

The second best part, was of course, the food – from chat to idli sambar, from rasmalai to falooda – we had it all. Not top-notch, but decent enough to carry the day.

The worst part (‘of course’ would be a cliché!), were the desi couples and the desi gang who congregated the place out of sheer boredom rather than to contribute anything significant – either in terms of performance or in terms of noise (which we specialized in).

Sample this conversation between the married guys –

Guy1: So, I took I-95 for about 70 miles and then hit the beltway, went round it and merged into 264. That took me about 90 minutes from X to Y.

Guy2: Ohh…that is a slightly longer route. What you should have done is taken Route 288 for about 40 miles, Exit 31B and then I-64 west. That way, you avoid the traffic and save about 15 minutes atleast.

Guy1: Ohh!!

(at this point, I am thinking…guys, get a life – buy a GPS)

The wife of Guy2 steps up to the challenge now

Wife of Guy2: You know Guy1, my husby is too good with all these routes. He remembers almost every exit and route we take – here or anywhere on a holiday. He just remembers every route. Call him up in case of any route discrepancies you may have.

Guy1: (doesn’t know whether to smile or cry) mumbles smthg to the extent of ‘Sure’

(I have already excused myself from the conversation, but couldn’t help laughing at first, Guy1’s expression, two, Guy2’s amazingly stupid memory capacity of seemingly nonsensical things and Guy2’s wife’s leadership initiative, propounding superiority! I don’t want to sound condescending…but then, can’t help but say – specimens, specimens!!!!)

Another excerpt conversation from friend of friends I overheard (with so much fun going around, you do want to overhear things and laugh about it very discreetly – that way, the cycle of fun grows exponentially)

The scene – The kid of A performed on stage. Kids being kids, always look cute on stage, irrespective of whether they dance or not. It is the parents who should be shot. Anyways, so, B walks in (enters the audi just then). B is a friend of A (or act as friends, you can never tell with these ladies). B suddenly realizes that A’s kid has finished his performance. She comes rushing towards A, with all the enthusiasm of a little gadfly – all buzz and no performance – ‘Ohh…your kid looked soo cute, no? Aiyyooo…what a performance, what a performance…you are very lucky I say’. I am totally stunned at the sudden turn of events (I, for all my innocence had thought that B was rushing towards A to apologize profusely for missing the event). My friend shakes me out of stupor and says ‘ye sab chalta hai, tension mat le’. As I pass out of the auditorium, I notice A and B hugging each other like best of friends, putting Caesar and Brutus to shame.

Such is life.

Flash Fiction: The Breakup

It was a hot summer afternoon in a crowded parking lot. Sitting in a car, sweating profusely, we broke-up. Rather, apt to say, she broke up with me, saying it was in my best interests, a fact I could neither convince nor reconcile with myself.

She was one of the best singers in college. In fact, she had represented the college in many inter-collegiate and national competitions. At first, I was in love with her voice. As I came to be introduced to her, know her and got close to her, I fell in love with her. Fortunately or unfortunately, she too fell in love with me in due course of time. Two wonderful years had passed, until recently, when cracks began to appear and the spark that once was, was doused to ash. The beginning of the end is such a cliché!

We sat in the car, holding hands, cold sweat trickling down the forehead to the chin like a little stream, only for the sounds of our breath, the little whispers of life, to break the silence. As I looked into her starry eyes, tears dancing within them reluctant to join the sweat, I saw for the first time a clueless and frightened set of eyes in what used to be a calm and confident set. What do elders always say – ah, yes – you always see your reflection in others – how apt!

As the initial blur of the break-up passed within the car, I noticed that the color of the walls housing the parking lot was not beige, but yellow. There were other cars in the parking lot, from Benz to Maruti, children playing in the parking lot with the multi-colored hoops that were the latest fad in the market, and people going past our car with their own thoughts and reflections of the life gone by. Details I would never have observed nor reflected on if I was lost in her eyes and hear her sing and listen to her constant chitter-chatter as was the case for the last two years. With her hand held tightly in my grip, tears finally rolling down, I moved to my right to kiss her goodbye. To quote someone I knew, I said ‘love you to the extent that the measurable becomes the unmeasurable’. She…she kept looking at my direction…not knowing when her vision would allow her to see the love of her life.

I want you to sing that tune

The one you are letting go of

Because, for every memory you are disowning now,

There is a forgotten song.

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