Drain Bamaged!!

Inspired from Life, Love & Laughter

The Repercussions

Part 2 of the previous post The Hand.

Fast forward a few years; another large family get-together; another time for fun and frolic. Enter The Hand and The Mouth. She immediately gets up from the circle in the pretext of a phone call. At that exact moment she sees her cousin get up too. They catch a fleeting glance. There is an unspoken mutual feeling of their reflex action. Why did they get up at the exact same time? They both didn’t know each other that well, they hardly get to meet one another but that momentary eye contact creates a bridge. They walk out quietly to the cool night breeze.

There was a sense of calm, peace in their silence. She broke the silence and asked “Have you had a terrible experience too?” Totally out of context for a spectator but it made perfect sense to her cousin.

“One experience?” spat her cousin, “Couple of times by each of them”.

“Arrgh, that’s dreadful”, she gasped. “I am sorry to hear that”

“My self-esteem was shattered even before it formed. I was barely 6. Too young to know what was happening but never too old to forget or overcome it. But do you look at the irony? They inflicted so much scare, and fear of men, and fear of relationships, and fear of sex in me but they are ‘happily’ married and ‘settled’ in life. They are the epitomes of ideal men in this society whereas me – people say I am a failure. My parents say I am a shame as I am unmarried, though I am doing well at work, – because marriage, even if turbulent, is the only gauge with which the society measures your accomplishments. I am not in a relationship even though I know the ‘Not All Men’ theory. Do you see how deeply ingrained the experiences were to form such a social phobia in me? And the best part, they don’t feel even the slightest of repercussions while I am intimidated for life and buried deep underground. And to top it off, people are so unfair to the victims if we speak out. If weak even once, keep suffering forever, get branded. Blame, name and shame the victims and the accused is never in the limelight.”

“Victim shaming is probably the main reason of people trying to cover up or not speak about their agony”

As an after-thought, I wonder how they would ever speak to their children about abuse without any guilt. Yes, they would have first-hand information of how to identify an abuser but at least when they have this conversation, will they realise?”

“They might get their spouses do the job perhaps.

“Hmmm”.

”Did you ever consider confronting them?”

“Yeah, it is ridiculous, isn’t it? We can happily go complain to our parents about strangers but when it is someone we know we somehow don’t bring it to the light. I don’t know if it is because of the self-doubt at that age or the trust on these known faces. I feel stupid when I think about it now.

But yes, I did consider confronting their parents, a few years later, when it all made sense to me but they being so protective and being the kind who turn a deaf ear to their children’s antics, I stopped myself. You know them too, what do you think they’d have done?”

“They would have asked you not to tarnish their beloved children’s names by spreading fake stories..”

“Exactly! And let’s say even if they had a slight sense that wasn’t blinded by the unbound love for their children, they would have just called me impertinent and broken me beyond repair right in front of the villains and later in private would have warned them of not repeating this. The accused would have just walked away with a warning but with an assurance that their parents will get their back, no matter what, and I would have had my belief in this system go to the dogs.”

She put her hand around her shoulder and they stared into the empty night.

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The Hand

“You have grown up so much”, said The Hand with a pat. The moment The Hand touched her shoulder, it gave her chills and revived forgotten memories from more than a decade ago. The Hand she shunned, the Hand she detested. The Hand that was skilled at finding an opportunistic moment or even creating one. The cruel Hand, the cunning Hand. The Hand that traversed and caressed her body slowly, when she was mere 10 years old, searching for her non-existent breasts. The Hand that wasn’t that old too, probably just exploring its own body when she had become an experimental piece. The undecided Hand that felt scared to reach inside her underwear and that had then proceeded towards her thighs momentarily, only to muster courage to go back in a few seconds later. The Hand’s finger hurt her and she experienced her first cramps. The Hand stroked, what looked like a bone with skin between its groin with its Other Hand. What had been a few minutes had felt like eternity for her, wanting to run away from this uncomfortable and suffocating moment. She wasn’t taught about such things at home or at school and hadn’t read any such story in her book collection. She did not know that saying ‘No’ might stop it or screaming for ‘Help’ might work. She did not know that confiding to a trusted elder would bring this to an end. She did even understand her own barrage of thoughts to put it into words to an elder. She only learnt that adults don’t understand hints – when the 2nd time they wanted to leave her alone with The Hand, she pleaded to The Hand’s mother to take her along but her grown up child was to teach the little girl how to wash clothes and do the dishes – which were important for a girl to learn during vacation. She spent the whole chilly evening outside, on the lawn, refusing to budge in only to be reprimanded by The Hand’s mother, later that night, for not helping out her dutiful child with any of the chores.

She couldn’t care less for the next morning she was leaving that house and that city. Luckily. She slept in peace, a little too soon.

Next morning, she had to go to everyone’s room and bid goodbye. She did not enter The Hand’s room; she just walked into the adjacent room.

“You never thanked me for taking you to the movies the other day”. The moment she opened her mouth to utter a word of thanks, The Mouth latched onto hers. It squished and squashed her tiny lips and tried pulling it off her face. She again could not comprehend to the happenings. Why was The Mouth trying to rip her face off? She had never seen her conservative parents kiss in front of her nor had seen any movies to understand that this horrible gesture was a kiss. For her a peck on the cheek was a kiss. All she knew was her lips hurt. The ordeal was over in a few seconds and she ran out of The Mouth’s room and the house and the lawn to the road. She would never set foot inside this horrid place ever again she swore. And she never did, ever.

She never met The Hand and The Mouth, ever too, until this day. All she could muster up to the The Hand’s question was a mere “Yes”, shrug The Hand off her back and walk away. How dare they speak to her? Do they even remember, in vivid details, the episodes she had encountered with them? Or was she one of their many adventures for them to remember? Thankfully, they weren’t interested in her anymore; she wasn’t a child anymore; she just hoped their children don’t turn out to be Paedophiles or even get abused as Karma works in a vicious circle.

Post Script:

This story doesn’t have any names for the characters as it could be any one of us. ‘She’ too is a generic usage – could easily be a ‘He’. If you were ever in the giving end, be ashamed and learn. If you were ever in the receiving end, speak up and stop it. We get to read terrible stories of rape and molestation and always fear about our children; but even small things like in this story could affect a child psychologically. ‘Mild’ abuses (if we could call them that) such as these are more prevalent around a child’s life and their scars could be deep.

Talk to your kids about Child Abuse; empower them to fight back and do the world some good by not just protecting them from abuse but by also raising them not be abusers. The second part could be the toughest; I haven’t crossed that bridge yet, so I don’t know how. Do tell me if you know.

My Team of Freaks

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real people, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Disclaimer 2: No, I haven’t put the 1st Disclaimer to save my job.

Fact 1: What is life, if we can’t laugh at ourselves (and at others 😛 )

So, let me introduce you to my work mates!

  1. The Trailer

He doesn’t know what a full stop / period is. His conversations only have a ‘comma’. However, if you mistake his pause as the end of the conversation and start walking away you’d not offend him; he’d first strain his neck to look at you and talk, then raise a voice a bit and then he’d just walk with you to continue it. Last week a person was trying to run, waving him a bye, saying his taxi to the airport was waiting downstairs and he needs to rush – what a big mistake of deciding to bid our guy a goodbye before leaving!

Ask him what he did over the weekend, the casual reply would be – 200 kms of biking. I told’ya, he never stops!

  1. The Nodder

Why say a simple ‘Yes’ when you can exercise your neck muscles? Cock the head to the farthest possible distance in the left, take a big U-turn, reach the right, complete the 360 degree nod by looking down and repeat the process for at least 3 times. Imagine running around a football field but just with your head – and do this for each and every freaking ‘Yes’!

He is also the kind of person who’d start explaining if you let out a , ‘Yeah, tell me about it’. 😛

  1. The Techy

He is so technical that while preparing for his 1st 14km run, he finds out the exact brand and flavour of the electrolyte and the brand of bottled water they’d be handing out during the race and practices with it! Since the race course is far from his place he finds out which route and elevation could mimic the race route and practices there!! His ear pods don’t play music during the run – they provide a live commentary and stats of the current run. And mind you, he is a first time runner; he’d be a pro in no time!

  1. The Brand-wagon

His life can be categorised into B.C and A.D. – Being Cashless and After Degree.

During B.C: He holds a record for getting a speeding ticket while riding a 50cc TVS Luna! He also holds the record of the cop letting him go without paying for the so-called fine or a bribe when he challenged him to cross 35 km/h in that moped and he’d pay him double of that on the fine receipt! He was brave enough to ride triples on that grandpa’s moped for 45 kms on muddy, dusty roads, many a times, unnerved that he’d be fifty shades browner when he reaches the college gates.

A.D years: Now the motto is – The more the cost, the better the quality. That includes everything from a toothbrush to a car! When he moved further away from work making his commute an hour each way, all he had to say was – I at least have a good car for sitting through the choked roads!

  1. The Sweet-tooth

If the sweet craving strikes, which often does, she’d wake up early, meticulously prepare Gulab Jamuns (Milk dumplings soaked in Sugar Syrup) that needs a minimum of 30 minutes for trained hands and bring some over for the team. If her pantry is empty, sugar with left over rotis would become laddus! No brownie points for guessing her favourite vegetable. Naah, not sweet potato; sweet corn, of course! (Sweet potato isn’t that sweet, you see.)

  1. The Salutation

People close emails with various phrases but this fellow opens it in his style – ‘That’s a good question.’ He is the only person who looks good in his ID card and passport. I want to get his voter or aadhar card done just to show how we can distort his sharp French face! Did I mention, he runs, plays tennis and squash, and kite-surfs? He did a kite-surfing exclusive backpacking tour to Brazil, alone – now that’s uber cool!

  1. The Lion who is a Herbivore

The oldest in the team yet the youngest looking, thanks to his surfing, skate-boarding, tennis and a gorgeous dog. (Should I also include his herbivorous diet in this equation?? He has 6 meals a day, by the way!) His Dutch surname means the lion but you’d never see him growl or even put up a scowl! Unassuming and modest. Talk about any sport in this world and he’d have played it or would know about it – even dodgeball, under water hockey, fist ball!

  1. The Carnivore

His sole reason for eating meat is to balance out the herbivores and maintain a healthy food chain! Duh, he is helping the environment by doing so. He doesn’t know what intonation and making an eye contact while speaking is. His comedy and tragedy are delivered in the same tone. You’d mistake him for talking to himself , looking outside the window but he’d be addressing you, possibly cracking a joke! His way of accumulating steps through the day ?? Wear the pedometer on your wrist and type away! An avid cricketer and that is not considering the umpiring he does at home with his 2 kids.

  1. The Fitness Guru

This guru has a personal guru who makes him do upside down crunches in mid-air with just his legs holding onto a beam at 6 in the morning. And what do you get when you merge a great physique with impeccable dressing sense? A smart metro-sexual dude!

I should have named this post and ‘My Team of Fitness Freaks’.

  1. The Thesaurus

Two sample sentences from her – The key main priority for teams members functions is to first analyse evaluate investigate then agree negotiate compromise later establish stabilise and change enhance improve. If the idea is obsolete irrelevant then push postpone delay until you confirm clarify.

Psst: I typed out the words as she spoke in the pretext of taking notes. Would Redundant better suit than Thesaurus?

Well, whatever, let me add the list of ex-members too below!

  1. The Gyaan Guru

He has an opinion on everything and his opinion is always right. From choice of peanuts till breastfeeding (and yeah he is a He!). But yeah he wouldn’t say you are wrong; he’d just say he is right. This is definitely better than the Always-Right in the neighbouring team who would put across the silliest of reasons to strengthen his stance, or that’s what he thinks, and out-rightly dismiss any of opposing views. It could be as trivial as a choice of fruit or clothing. Always-Right annoys the shit out of people.

Back to the actual team member: the fitness segment for him– he’s the fastest runner in the team. He still is, not was; no one has broken his record yet.

  1. The Guitarist

And the salsa dancer. And the walker. And the Tea connoisseur. And the Cake Club member. And the Social Committee Head. And the Universe. She is everything you can imagine and everything you can’t. She’s everything you’d wish for and everything you don’t. She is all-inclusive yet aloof. She is the Zen.

  1. The Grumpy Ol’ Man

If he doesn’t like somebody (that’s everybody!) he says, “If I meet him in a lonely dark alley, I’ll show him who a true Russian is”. He is as strong as he threatens you too – an ace craftsman, carpenter, who also knows to lie floors and build bridges – his house is soaked in his blood and sweat! A physicist by education, a software developer by profession, a sailor by passion. Now beat that.

  1. 2 States

A real life Punjabi marrying a Tamilian story who worked real hard on his 6-pack so that he could look fab in a dhoti! On the diet spectrum, the stench of his food from last week that he is having for lunch today would beat that of a month old, open, tuna can and his response – what does not kill me, makes me stronger. Clap, clap, clap! Food wasters, take a cue!

Fact 2: If my relationship with my colleagues goes sore, you’d see another post soon, with more details on the specific people 😛

Btw, who is your favourite of the lot?

 

 

 

A Laughing Labour

There’s being confident; overly confident; viciously over-confident; and then there is haughtiness.

“Are you signing up for the Epidural?” asked a fellow mum-to-be at the ante-natal class in the hospital. We learnt that there are 3 common pain management options during labour – Inhaling Nitrous Oxide, Injecting Morphine, Administering an Epidural. Without getting into the technicalities of them I will just mention that epidural is the sure shot way of no or least pain and the other 2 are just partial pain numbing mechanisms. On the flip side, epidural, if not injected properly, might cause side effects.

“Naaah”, said I. My husband had an ‘are-you-sure-question-mark look’ on his face. I smirked and told him, “You see, female mammals are designed to give birth. We are super beings. We have high pain threshold unlike you men and your man-flu. I can manage, don’t worry”. His face changed to ‘are-you-even-sane-puzzled-question-mark’. I raised my eyebrows and said, “Ever heard of laughing gas before? If only you had paid attention in Chemistry classes. Duh! That’s what Nitrous Oxide is. I will inhale it as and when I have pain and laugh my way through labour“. Now his face turned to ‘fine-you-know-better-but-I-am-not-at-all-convinced’.

Fast forward 7 weeks. I started getting ticklish sensation in regular intervals. It induced laughter! It was as if the foetus inside was tickling me! Laughter! I ate like a famine stricken hyena and went to the hospital. Need strength to push, you see! A mid-wife checked the contractions and told me that they have just begun and I won’t deliver at least until the next morning and asked me to go home. People were tensed about going home but I was cool. I said, “Mine is going to be a laughing labour, remember? So chill and let’s go home”.

The laughter lasted only till the night when I started feeling the pain each time a contraction occurred. Ouch, it hurt and then it was gone.  Repeated every few minutes until next morning when the interval between them was just 5 minutes. Got admitted in the hospital and learnt how to use the gas mask.

The Nitrous Oxide is usually in a cylinder connected to a mask and lies right at the head rest of the bed in the labour ward. Whenever there is pain, one needs to place the mask over the nose and mouth and inhale the gas. Easy. Easy?

Easy till the pain gets intense and you don’t have the strength to take it and place it. Imagine not being able to lift a tiny mask! That’s when the husband helped. As the contraction graph on the monitor spiked, he kept the mask on me. The exercise lasted for about 45 minutes or so until I found myself screaming for the mid-wife. I pleaded her to give me a morphine injection. Later, I was heard saying things like “If ever anyone utters a word about more children”, “That is if I survive this ordeal”, “I can do it but I can’t do it because the world’s ending”, “Adopt, people, just adopt.”, “I am going to poop, goddamnit, the baby is pushing the poop out “(that was while the baby was crowning and the doc calmly told that that’s the baby sliding out and I, supposedly, was yelling, “No that’s a different hole!”) etc., to an extent that a nurse came in and said that she could hear my screams at the other end of the corridor (to which I, apparently, explained to her that I wasn’t screaming, I was just exerting pressure to push) ! Thankfully, people inside and outside the room did not have to hear me for long.

Even the baby did not cry as soon as he was out as he still had fluids in his mouth and nose. It was just me!

A week later at the doctor’s I met the lady from the class again. She eagerly asked me, “So, did the laughing gas work?”

“Yes, it did”, I said feebly, “but on others. They laughed at my plight and I delivered!”

The 100 Kilo Story

Talking about weight seems to be an unending fad. The internet is filled with detailed chronicles of people’s success stories, cheat sheets, tips and tricks, workout regimes, topped with intense emotions of initial rejections and low self-esteem, followed by never-give-up spirit and dedicated efforts for the coveted beach body (ironically for a nation where the majority don’t know how to swim!), the before-after pictures, the selfies, the compliments, the confidence, and at times the flatulence.

Now, don’t get me wrong here – I am definitely not belittling any of the hard work. With my laziness I don’t deserve to ridicule either. I can only admire, appreciate and yearn for such a story. I am just enthralled by how vivid they get; how just a small number plays a vital role in one’s life. Again, I don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t focus towards a healthy lifestyle. It is just about the other half of it – trimming down to impress. Same journey, different goals.

However, that’s off track. I too want to join the band wagon and speak about weight: how companies and organisations impose strict rules on us and make money out of it, and the tedious process of losing it. Trust me, accumulating is easy, eliminating isn’t. It took a good 1 week for me. The process broadly is divided into these categories:
Acceptance: Coming into terms with “Yes, I do have lot of extra weight.”
Identification: Finding and listing all the areas that need a shedding.
Implementation: The main step of working out to cut out all the excess weight.
Weighing: To keep track with the goal in sight and weighing regularly.
Motivation: Celebrating the achievement and motivating to push further.
Iteration: Repeating all over until the goal is reached.

And as the wise say, the effort is even more after pregnancy and child-birth. Both contribute towards some weight that either you can’t eliminate or won’t. But the end goal remains – it doesn’t consider these factors. The scale is tough and demanding.

I set mine at 45. A meagre 45. Underweight, isn’t it? But I couldn’t afford any more. 45 it was. And until I weighed, I never imagined in the wildest of my dreams that the scale would point to a whopping 72. Yes, that includes my pre and post described above. I had to make a choice. I had to move forward. I had to leave all that dragged me down behind.

I began the workout. Looped through it several times until after strenuous ups and downs I finally hit the magic number. I did it with a fair share of self-pity and the hardship of letting go. The biggest motivating factor was a new wardrobe – new clothes.

I wasn’t alone in this journey. My husband too was involved. I assigned him 55 kilos and made him iterate through the same trauma. And as cruel as it would sound, the child was also in it. 10 kgs was the cap. The poor thing obliged.

The day finally arrived when we had to present ourselves for scrutiny. Their scales were unforgiving. They wouldn’t allow even an ounce more than specified. We heaved and panted and waited for the red digits to roll. 100 it had to be and a 100 it was! Plus a 10 for the baby. Phew!

The airline check-in officer beamed at the thought of writing a hefty receipt for the extra 40 kilos that we checked in apart from the allowed 30 kilos per adult; I beamed for I was within the reimbursable amount for Excess Baggage by my company!

Well, did you think my body weight is just a 45?!

Vishudhhi – Scholarships 2015

Vishudhhi grew a little more this year by awarding scholarships to 27 deserving girl students from class XI and XII of The Children’s Garden Higher Secondary School. Though the amount reached a bit late this year, owing to holidays and unprecedented rains, it was assured that they’d be financially helped just when the academic year began.

Again, as with last year, heartfelt thanks to The Patnekars (Rohit, Monica, little Mahi and the new entrant – tiny Jiya) and their friends for their unwavering support. Thanks to my school and street buddy, Krithika, for her contribution too. With all your good wishes, the girls would go onto pursue their preferred path in Life 🙂

And, thanks to my pals Shanthu and Sangeetha for sorting the logistics and getting the scholarships through to them!

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Reach for the stars with feet on the ground

Have you slept under the sky, on hard-ground or on soft grass, counting stars, tracing constellations? Do you think of them as twinkling little stars, so tiny or get humbled by the thought that you are not even a speck of dust in this wide universe? They are probably bigger than our own sun and someone in that galaxy might not even see our sun as a twinkling star, let alone our planet and the microscopic us.

As a child, every time there was an electricity outage at night, I used to get out of the house and sleep in the open, on the terrace of my house. Thoughts moved from perceiving the stars as tiny sparkles to perceiving humankind so as I grew up. Yet I fail to understand why we, human beings, even while we know that just the known universe is enough to bring upon this realisation, think of no end of ourselves? Why do we fill ourselves up with so much ego? Why do we ooze out so much pride on materialistic things? Why do we fail to acknowledge this short beautiful life and all the lovely people? Why do we not spread love and only spew hatred and jealousy? Why can’t we take jokes on ourselves. Why can’t we laugh at our misdeeds and shortcomings? Why do we take this body so seriously when we all know that it is destined to rot?

We take pride in the new house we bought; show off our expensive watches; brag about our lives to everyone; hold dear all the prized, expensive possessions; think that there is no one as loving as our spouses, no kid as smart and as cute as ours. We always try to impress everyone around us by our goods and not by a good nature. We buy stuff just because our relatives/friends have them. We have reduced our lives to comparison. We measure our success with it. Our choices like vacation travel, cars, clothes etc are made to outsmart the peer group. We envy them when we can’t achieve what they have achieved and brag when we outwit. Isn’t life peaceful when the whole comparison goes out?

“My honeymoon location has to be more exotic than my cousin’s”. “My phone has to be better than my subordinate’s”. “Now that I am at on-site I am superior than folks back home”. “I am cool because none of my friends own a Ferrari but I do”.

We don’t realise that others either might not have favourable circumstances to buy something or might choose not to buy because there isn’t a necessity. We don’t comprehend that not everyone chooses to stay away from family. We don’t understand life is not just measured monetarily. We get judgemental and hate people who don’t perceive whatever we perceive as right or wrong. We scoff at people who don’t support our favourite political party, music band or even as trivial as clothing. We don’t understand the difference between a healthy argument and arrogance. We rush about our lives not minding that we share space with fellow living things. Our manners are dying. We gossip and back-bite. We fall for flattery. We push and shove in public transports, choke the earth with our choices, corrupt kids’ minds and teach them to value the finite things more than the infinite nature and boundless love. We are getting poor, not rich.

No, I don’t mean to say that we need to give up on life, on ambitions, on goals. I just say that there is a fine line between taking pride on what one has achieved and being egoistic about it. Sure you’ve hard-earned all the feathers on your cap but so have others. Even if you can’t appreciate them at least don’t degrade their efforts. Shun the ‘I’, ‘Me’, ‘My’ and ‘Mine’. Grow your knowledge, improve your skills, perform better at work, chase your passion, win titles and awards, read more, build houses, buy jewellery, look your best, hit the gym, travel to different countries, conquer hearts but don’t take anything to your head. Work hard, strive harder, stay humble..

Dream Big and Reach for the Stars but plant your feet firmly on the ground.

I want to be Chinese in my next birth…

…if at all I am reborn, that is, and as a human and as a girl. It is an irresistible offer you see. Let me list out the major perks –

First and yes this one’s my trigger, I don’t need any other perk – No or negligible body hair. Spare me from all the plucking, waxing, threading, epilating, depilating. Spare me from all the pain. Give me an extra hour to sleep before vacations. Let me laze on Sundays and not run the blade on my skin. Let me wear shorts on any day I want to. Help me get rid of the full sleeve shirts for all those lazy days.

If this one reason is not enough then here’s another. All you North Indians who ask us how in the world we eat rice every day and yet don’t look like Hulk and all you mothers who ask us not to eat the unhealthy noodles, I present you the Chinese and their staple food. They’re probably half your chapathi eating and noodles shunning self and they don’t have to hit the gym to stay slim. Just no body fat whatsoever. I most definitely want those strong genes. And those flat abs and thin legs.

I know your burning question – am I ok with almost no eyes and no boo.. er.. mmm.. well yeah, I think I can live with, I mean without, them!

If you are still not convinced dear girls, then here’s something that will make you reconsider. Post-Pregnancy body weight – what does it even mean? Have you seen Indian women in this phase? They are made to eat 2 people’s portion and by the time the kid pops out the mother finds it difficult to find clothes even in the Plus size stores. Buying cloth in Pantheon Road and getting it stitched is an easier way out. Have you seen Chinese moms? Only the belly balloon grows healthily but they don’t. Pop, the balloon bursts, the baby comes out and they are back to their gorgeous body shape. Spare me all the shopping, slimming, complaining. Spare me from all the fuss around it. Let me get into my pre-pregnancy clothes. Make me look like a 20-year old even when I am a mother of two.

There are other minor perks too like naturally straight hair, girlish ways, love for all that is glittery and shiny, and knowing a language that is most spoken in the World.

But what if by my next birth India becomes the most populous country and I get to be an Indian again?? That case let me be this same armpit scratching, nose picking, loud burping, cracked lipped me but can you just delete the body hair from my chemical properties please??

A Guide to Simplified English

The Singaporeans and Mainland China folks adopted an easier form of written Chinese some 50 years ago and called it Simplified Chinese. Malaysians have taken a cue from them and are doing a better job by adopting this approach in a spoken Language instead of written – Simplified English (SE)!

Though much easier than many other foreign tongues like French, Dutch etc., regional language school kids in India still find the grammar and tense in English tough. We Indians have come up with many transliterations and introduced numerous new words and phrases to the language like –wala, Avtar, rain is coming, prepone etc. but you just can’t beat the SE.

Though the language Nazis would condemn it, I am not really against it, specially when everyday becomes laugh-roll day. How else do languages evolve? We don’t speak the 15th century version of Thou, Thee, Thy and Thine anymore! More importantly, I won’t be around when the language dies 😉

Yet, I find this way better than the SMS slang– ma (Mairu?) , whr (where or whore?), m8 (meet or mate?), drnx, hvng, txt (why do you hate the beautiful vowels?). We aren’t using the keypad Nokias to say that it’s quicker. (Even that had the dictionary mode!) The Text app auto fills words! R wl it evlv nto a wrtn SE? :O Kll me nw.

Here’s how you speak SE –

The 3 most important words in SE are: Can, Cannot, Got.

Memorize these like a prayer. They can help you in any life or death situation and in anything in between.

Usage :

Can – Use it in place of all Auxiliary Verbs such as Can, Will, Must, Shall, Ought, May, Yes, Could, Would, Should and in some places of Want.

When in doubt, use it. To break ice, use it. Pick up line, use it. For precaution, use it. Use this goddamn word anywhere. 

 Cannot – Rule: You aren’t supposed to shrink it to Can’t. It has to be pronounced as Can-Not.

Use it to denote No, Not, Can’t, Won’t, Mustn’t, Shouldn’t, Couldn’t, Ought not, May not…

 Got – Use it in place of Available, Got, sometimes in place of Have.. Usually preceded by a ‘there’.

If the verbs appear more than once in a sentence, you could replace the first one and just drop off the remaining ones. And if building a sentence looks tough, break it into single word sentences. There, just 3 words that solve so many grammar problems!

Got Usage

Picture Courtesy: The Grammarly page on Facebook

 Now, let’s get to the examples: (I kid you not; these are all real world exchanges, mostly spoken, some written)

Come here, can?

I take 50 for a pair, can?

Cannot Miss, Cannot for 40. 45 can.

You can come to the station at 5. (Means could you because the tone is soft and eyebrow is raised, 5 dragged!)

Can / Can can / Also Can / Can already.  (Means Yes) (This is a valid sentence in SE.)

You cannot open the window, it is raining. (Means shouldn’t)

I cannot join the party but I try. (Means might not)

You cannot kill me please. (Don’t)

Do you know where I could find a jar of mayo? Go to Aeon. There Got.

Do you have a smaller size? Got got got.

Where is the tofu & cheese section? Behind milk, there got tofu.  Lot. But no got cheese, girl.

Got 10 sen change?  No got, OK no problem.

 To sound a little sophisticated, use terms such as Never Mind, Free and Easy and include some Alreadys here and there.

For Tenses, if you know the present tense (or any one form) that will do. And always remember to keep the sentence crisp and short by dropping unnecessary verbs.  

 How old you? (Initially, I always responded with a “I am fine, thank you” for this question because l and d are silent here and so it sounds like how are you! 😛 )

SE Examples

You try Ice Kacang, very nice. I try, but I no like peanuts and read beans in ice-cream. (Yeah, you read it right, Malaysia’s most favourite Ice Cream or rather shaved ice comes with sweet corn, peanuts and fruit flavoured syrups. Cendol, another national favourite, is shaved ice with cooked read beans, plain jelly and a jaggery equivalent called Gula Melaka. Here’s me eating it –

Eating ABC - ice Kacang )

Well, there are a lot of purists who speak impeccable English too but, come on, who’s interested in talking to them!

OK, enough, I go now. If you got any questions or clarifications on SE, don’t contact me – however you speak it, it is right. There got no rules OK. The only goal: Conveying the message. If the other person understands makes out what you want to say, then you succeed. Flavour up the conversation with some gestures, sign language and please grab yourself..er.. I mean speak SE! Can?

P.S: If you think I am a Subramaniam Swamy’s Arnab Goswami, please come to Malaysia to see for yourself.  (While you are at it, I am sure you’ll get some Desi Ghee, Vadams, Sambhar Powder and Krishna Sweets Badam Halwa & Spinach pakoras for me. Add in some Karachi Biscuits if you can; pistachio flavour preferably. Don’t forget the jar of Mango Pickle from my mother. And, some Pani Puri take-away, can?)

Thai Break – The Return Flight Story

Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit – That’s the full ceremonial name, world’s longest place-name, of the city of Bangkok from where our return flight to Kuala Lumpur was at 7:30 p.m. local time. After a bone-cracking Thai Massage and an unwinding at the banks of Chao Phraya River, we took a tuk tuk to the Airport Link Station and sat down for the 40 minute ride to the Suvarnabhoomi Airport. The name in Thai has the same meaning as in Sanskrit – Land of Gold but pronounced as Su-var-na-ppum.

At 6 p.m. we disembarked at the Airport and strolled through the shops. Why did we reach only 1.5 hours prior to departure? Well, we generally travel light, don’t check-in bags. A backpack each is what we take on trips. An hour before departure is always enough; we were, in fact, in early that day! Mj was speculating on what to snack on, as always, and I was searching for the Flight Information on the display board. There were flights listed till 21:05 but our 19:30 one wasn’t there.

“Our flight isn’t in the list” said I while fiddling through boarding passes. “There, that’s’ the return pass”; I stopped mid-sentence and looked up with my mouth open. I passed on the piece of paper to him but he did not need to look at it to know what was wrong. He started running, shouting, “Find the taxi stand”. I sprinted behind him.

We ran to the concierge and asked her, “How long will the fastest taxi to Don Mueang International Airport take?” “At the least an hour, more if the traffic is bad”, she replied. The boarding closes 20 minutes before departure; we’ll have to clear immigration and security check as well. An hour and five minutes is the max that we had at hand. But there was no other way out, there were no Airport Link Trains to the second Airport, a Shuttle bus just left at 6 and the next was at 6:30. It was a packed evening on the roads; that’s precisely the reason why we opt for trains or metros if there is one. One among the 3 taxi drivers standing behind her came up to us and said, “Are willing to spend a little extra? I could try to take you there in about 50-55 minutes”. Did we need any further dialogue? We jumped straight into his cab.

We had no clue as to how much extra he wanted or how he would dodge the traffic? Take small lane shortcuts probably? Reading our minds he said, “I will take the highway. That is usually less crowded than the normal roads but there is a toll to be paid (150 Thai Baht – THB = 300 INR) and the final 30% of the route is a normal road. Can not help.”

The anxious us kept tapping the feet and tracking the distance to destination on Google Maps. Over-speeding on the long winding roads would have been a pleasant cruise under different circumstances. We exchanged smiles with the driver when he overtook the shuttle bus that had left before us. The highway’s empty lanes gave us hope. After what seemed like we already left acres and acres of tar behind us in just over 20 minutes, Mj broke the silence, “I did make a mental note that our flight leaves from the smaller airport in the city while booking the tickets, but totally forgot about it. Why dint you check while you planned the commute? You are the one who always does this Maps thingy”.
“Dude, you’re blaming me? It dint strike you that this wasn’t the airport’s name that you saw while booking – when you bought the train ticket, whilst in the train, after reading the sign boards, just nowhere and you blame me for jotting down the wrong route?” “Okay”, said he, “both at fault”.

Our cat fight dint last long, as we exited the motorway my anxiety and silence returned. Ahead of us lay hundreds of cars, thankfully moving but scores of them. Funnily, the station from where we took the train to the wrong airport was on our left and we’re going towards the hotel where we stayed! If only we had gone straight from the hotel! Would have been under 30 minutes of journey time, sigh.

The driver, did not even ask his name, took to the task as if his flight was due. He snaked through every little gap he found, adeptly changed lanes wherever he could. Were you previously an ambulance driver, Dear Sir? 40 minutes after we got into the cab I saw the Don Mueang International board. But there dint seem to be a straight forward entrance. We had to go around more flyovers, do more U-turns, and take more round-abouts for 10 more minutes. When he pulled up at the Departure gate he had a big grin of achievement on his face. Why won’t he when had covered about 47 kms in 50 minutes. If it was a lousy or a normal driver, the final 15 kilometers would have definitely taken us more time. He said “You won’t miss your flight, not today!”

“Thank You, Thank You”, I yelled as I rushed towards the document check counter. Our travelling light policy saved us time. By the time Mj stuffed all the money he had into the driver’s hands(a well-deserved tip!) and came in search of me, the passports were verified. More running towards the immigration counters.

“Why you come at 7 for a 7:10 boarding time, Miss”, asked the lady at the counter.
“We realised that we were at the wrong airport only after reaching Suvarnabhoomi”, I replied.
“Oh you go to the wrong airpoaa?” , read it in the South East Asian Slang – drag the Oh, compress the you-go-to-the-wrong as if it’s a single word and say it as fast as you can, make the r and t silent in airport and add aa to it – or even better, a aaaaaa. And don’t ask me why it’s a go and not a went.
“Yaaaaaa” said I and Mj in unison. She quickly stamped the passports and we rushed to the security check. A guy who was behind the immigration desk came to the security gates and was telling the officers in Thai why we were late. Or at least that’s what it looked like because he pointed at us and said suvarnaphum , suvarnaphum and the officers went Oooohh. 19:08 we were at the boarding gate with a cappuccino bought with the final 100 THB we had. And with enough time to pee before boarding.

But I wonder, why did the Taxi Driver add a “Not Today” afterthought ?? :O

A Thai Break – Part 1

Beach, Food, Outdoor Sports, Night Clubs and Culture? Thailand, it is. Phuket’s pristine sea and the adventurous islands are a great get-away from the routine of life. It has snorkeling, scuba diving, island hopping, para sailing, sky diving, jet ski and many more. You can get to try out all the different Thai dishes and immerse in the culture by mingling with people and visiting the Cultural Theme park, Fanta-Sea and learn the Thai story from the elephants. And how did I even miss out the blaring and glaring Bangla Walking Street?

You can get a bigger dose of culture and art in Bangkok, the Venice of the Orient. With its numerous Wats (temples), lively day / night markets, boat rides (The Long-Tail Boat is the counterpart of the Gondola of Venice) , floating markets, tuk-tuks, fish farms and night clubs, the list is endless. It has the world-renowned Reclining Buddha and the Emerald Buddha. The stunning of all, I think, is the Wat Arun, Temple of Dawn, standing tall and high on the banks of River Chao Praya and gets even more beautiful when it is bedecked with lights after sunset.

 

Phuket-Bangkok

L to R: Fanta-Sea Palace of the Elephants; Wat Arun on Chao Prayo River; Para-sailing; With Post-op Beauties; Reclining Buddha

 

The human element in the country, above these touristic things, Thai’s inclusive and tolerant attitude towards the LGBT community is what I liked and respect the most. Prostitution is legal and I guess, so are the sex and ping-pong shows. Transgenders are treated equal; they don’t have to resort to dancing on trains or to tapping your windows at traffic signals to earn a living. And there are these transsexuals, known as Lady Boys, a plenty of them, who undergo a voluntary sex change and make their living in the numerous night clubs and go-go bars. Many run shops in the markets, a famous one being the Patpong Night market. I heard that many such people who are shunned in their country seek shelter in Thailand. A very broad mindset for an Asian country, a good example that other countries need to follow.

The most important place that we did NOT visit was the Tiger Temple / Tiger Park where, I heard, they tranquilize the animals all day through so that we can fill their pockets for a picture next to the tamed wild animal. Tiger,my most favorite animal! I was tempted to strike poses with it, put my arm around the huge beast and feed a tiger cub (it was my childhood fantasy to raise a tiger cub as a pet!! 😛 ). The pamphlet had amazing pictures (Search for Tiger Kingdom, Phuket). But no, you don’t ill-treat something you love. No, Thanks.

So, there goes, a gist of a super awesome trip. The story of how we returned to KL will be lengthier than this! That’s for the next post!

The Asian Vegetarian Meal – A Six Sigma Case Study

A squint-eyed, disheveled haired species with a pukish look, dangling spectacles, wearing a baggy t-shirt looked at me from the mirror in the tiny loo of an aircraft. But I didn’t go there to look at it; I had far more important calls of nature to attend to.

The Asian Vegetarian Meal (AVM) is something I can vouch for, after having had the privilege to sample it in quite a few flight carriers. I really applaud the consistency, texture, quality, taste and smell that these boxes come packed with. You can never put in a rank on which airline serves better meal plates; they all compete fiercely with one another. It’s a matter of pride, I believe, and it rises above petty things such as carrier, destination, flying class etc.

Have you heard of the Saravana Bhavan chain of restaurants? This restaurant stands testimony to the factors I mentioned above. They say, a dosa or a coffee or a biriyani will taste exactly the same and as delicious no matter in which branch you devour it – be it Chennai, Paris, the USA or any part of the world.

The world’s premier and even the not-so-premier airlines have taken a page or two from this secret story for their AVM, only in the other extreme.

Consistency – Rock solid, pity can’t carry hammers in hand baggage to break the naan breads

Texture – Uncooked, breaking through the rice and chewing is a privileged teeth exercise

Quality – Benchmark. On par with all the flight kitchens.

Taste – Am a bland food lover and imagine me complaining about the taste

Smell – Hey my socks are fresh out of the laundry

High time Business Schools did a case study on this topic. High time it is given Six Sigma recognition. Maintaining the standard across destinations by just one flight carrier is by itself a tough and a meticulous task for an organization, enforcing strict Quality Inspections and processes, and here we are speaking about multiple airlines maintaining exactly the same standard! And of course, with similar results due to its intake.

I need to head back to the species in the mirror now, Mr. Neighbour, please excuse me.

P.S: I found this brilliant brilliant piece by Krish Ashok, hammered the AVM on its face (and in the process broke the hammer) – Asian Vegetarian Hell !

 

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