Drain Bamaged!!

Inspired from Life, Love & Laughter

The Aussie Way

Update: Useless Trivia : You know what, Australia is double the size of India but has a population that is just about the same as Mumbai!

  1. The lesser the denomination, the bigger the size of the coin!
AU Coins

Left to Right: 50 Cents, 1 Dollar & 2 Dollars

 

2. Don’t want to face the passenger in front of you? Uncomfortable sitting in / facing the opposite direction of a train route? Switch the back rest!

http://youtu.be/Yj6wCIY59ow

How cool is that?! People who have experience with Maruti Omni vans will appreciate this!

  1. Constipated? Eat Chocolate!

 

Chocolate Board

Ad in a toilet cubicle

  1. Pay and Use Toilets? What do even mean by that?!

Answer nature’s call free of cost – All public restrooms in Train & Bus Stations, Beaches, Malls, Harbours, Shops, just about any toilet in the city is free. No loose change needed.

  1. Free Drinking Water.

Forgot to click a pic of this, but there are drinking water taps installed in all major locations. Even if the shops close down by 5 p.m., the taps will quench your thirst.

  1. What’s the next important thing in Life, after free toilets and water? Oh yeah, WI-FI, that’s free too!

Imagine Free WI-FI in a beach!

BondiWifi

  1. Scan and Pay Machines at stores.

I have seen such machines where you can scan your purchased items yourself and pay using Cards. Here I found many machines that accept cash as well. Good for tourists. (Maybe it’s there elsewhere too, I must have missed to notice)

Scan n Pay Machine

8. Kangaroo Meat, anyone? 

 

Kangaroo Meat Burger

Or Octopus, maybe? 
DSC_1264

9. Cut it Short

Don’t waste your energy, use short forms. Kangaroo is Roo, Mushroom is Mushy, Avocado is Avo, University is Uni, Barbeque is Barbe, Mosquito is Mozzy, Regulatory Board is Regs Board, Breakfast is Breakie, Toaster is Toasty, Presents are Pressis, Journalists are Journos, after all, we know that Australia is Oz..

Ciao, am off to my preggy colleague’s baby shower with pressis.

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Vishuddhi – Scholarships 2014

This year Vishuddhi reached out to 22 students from The Children’s Garden Higher Secondary School, Chennai and helped them with a part of their school fee. The girls were from class XI and XII.

This year’s scholarships were made possible by these benevolent people – The Patnekars (Rohit, Monica and little Mahi) and Rohit’s friends who joined in the cause started by Rohit where he said he would prefer money to charity instead of gifts to little Mahi on her birthday. So, all that collected money went to these deserving girls – (2 were absent on the 14th of July and hence there are only 20 of them in the picture).  Thanks a lot folks.

Vishuddhi Scholars 2014

 

First Night in Amsterdam

Did you, by any chance, click for the title? Then spoiler alert: the post is just about my first visit to Amsterdam, which, by chance, happened to be a night landing, 2 years ago. Nothing more! 😉

See Journée à Paris (A Day in Paris) for the account of the day! Evening and Night account follows –

The talented pilot touched down at Schipol Airport, Amsterdam braving the bad weather. It was way past 8 p.m. and the Hotel Address and the metro stop names were my only bet in this foreign land – all alone.

I waited forever for my bag to come on to the carousel and don’t think I am exaggerating but mine was the last one to come on, after a full 20 minutes. It was becoming dark fast, unlike the usual summer day in June that has sunlight till about 10-11 p.m., thanks to the rain and thunderstorm. My prolonged wait at the carousel eyeing each and every bag sparked a suspicion on me at the customs counter. As I collected my bag and walked past the desk towards the exit, a tall lady (Dutch are on an average the tallest people on the planet!) in uniform blocked me. She said she wanted to check my bag. Patiently and meticulously she unpacked everything. Clothes, shoes, toiletry kit and food! I had taken a couple of MTR ready to eat packs (Jeera Rice,Pongal and Upma) and she was keen to know what they were and why had I brought them along. I told her that it was my first time there and these food packets are a backup in case I don’t find anything vegetarian around. Her next question was why only 3 packs for a stay of 20 days? I told her that I thought I would find a veggie serving place in 2 days. She was again curious, and asked if my veg list included Fish. I said No. Then she asked if it included Cheese (She thought maybe I was a vegan, which I intend to become someday soon!) and I said yes. And my yes brought a big grin on her face and she bid me a goodbye saying “Ah good, you will enjoy the dutch cheese”.

The best thing about the Schipol Airport is that it has an integrated public transport system – right outside the arrivals, there are the Train and Bus Stations.

My hotel was 1 train stop and 2 metro stops away. Had I come during the day or had I known that Amsterdam is one of the safest places in the world, I would have hailed a taxi but unfortunately neither was the case. I was apprehensive and the night was falling dark and wet. So I trotted down to the train station and asked a fellow passenger if my pre-bought travel card (Known as OV-Chipkart) would work on the trains. He nodded affirmatively and I swiped it across the small machine on the platform and got onto the train.

In came the Ticket Checker and I showed him my card. He looked at me, then at my trolley then back at me.

“New to Amsterdam?”

“Yes”

“No Ticket?”

“I swiped this card at the platform.”

“My dear, this works only on Metros, Trams and Buses, not on Trains”

I gasped.

“But I understand that mistakes happen and you are new here. In the future, don’t travel without buying a ticket. For now I will let you go without a fine.”

“Thanks a lot Sir and I am sorry, I didn’t know”

“Hope you like Holland, Fijn Avond (Nice Evening)!”

And Yes, I liked Holland from that instant.

Another integrated station. I hopped off the train and went to the Metro Station. Now, I had a problem. I knew which Metro to take and where to get off but I did not realise that it was necessary to find out which direction too.

Metro 50 towards Station Gein or Metro 50 towards Station Sloterdijk?

I couldn’t find a metro route map immediately. So I asked a person next to me. He said take the platform on your right and he dashed off. I am seriously dyslexic when it comes to left and right. I can assure you that I always get it wrong, at all times, in all cases. But I was determined that this time I won’t get it wrong. I looked down at my hands and was perfectly sure which was the right platform, on the right.

Ten minutes later I was onboard. Mine was the 2nd stop from there. As the metro came to a halt at the next stop I was horrified. Of all the people in the world, I chose to ask a Right-Left dyslexic guy or did I mix-up yet again? Whatever was the case, I was going in the wrong direction. The route map inside the metro confirmed my fear.  By the time I could react to the revelation, the metro chugged off from that station. I got off at the next stop, heaved my 20 kg bag down the stairs and up the stairs to the opposite platform. It was quarter past nine and was getting darker. I had 4 stops to cover now. Plus, I just have a mental picture of the route from the Metro stop to the hotel. Darn, why did I not print out the google maps image. If it was in India, I could easily spot people on the roads to ask for directions when in doubt but here I don’t see anyone at all, the stop is deserted and I had growing doubts if the metro will ever come… There it is.

Again, my destination was also deserted. I got off and started walking very briskly towards the hotel. I could spot absolutely no visible living organism what-so-ever. I just hoped against all odds of my right-left problem that I’d make it without getting lost.

My pace quickened with each step. And an inherent fear of the implication of my recklessness stood before me. Why did I have to opt for a 6 p.m. flight and not an earlier one? Why did I not check for the weather forecast? Why did I even take a detour to Paris in the first place? No person on the Earth knew where I was right now. My phone’s dead and I was last seen with known faces over 20 hours back. Folks back home must have thought that I must have flunked on the bed by now, all exhausted. Because, you see, I don’t have this habit of calling up home once I go somewhere/ reach a destination. I have seen many people do so. They would have gone only a few blocks from their home and as the first thing would call up mom/ spouse/ boyfriend/ girlfriend saying, “Hey, I reached”. I never do that be it when within the city or when I go to Bangalore from Chennai.

So people back home will find it perfectly normal of not receiving a call and they themselves will conjure up all the usual (but practical 😉 ) excuses that I give them – I was tired, Battery drained, No local Sim, No Wi-Fi, above all – Why do you want me to call at unearthly hours? (I usually take the train to Bangalore that reaches at 4:30 a.m. – a perfect excuse for not calling. But basically I forget and that’s the only reason but that is not accepted by people and so I have to give other excuses.)

So, finding the Hotel in one piece was my only option. Walk straight, take the left at the Round-about Junction and then the first right. I did just that but all I could see on this road were apartments and a few shops (closed, of course. Shops in Amsterdam close down by 6 p.m. except on Thursdays when they are open till 9). And I could see a small horizontal stretch of darkness across the road caused by an overhead bridge’s shadow. My heart thumped in my mouth. I am shit-scared of the dark. I walked ahead and stopped just before the bridge. Looked around. No one around or beneath it. Coast is clear. But if I don’t find the hotel on this road then I don’t know if I can summon up the courage again and dare to walk through this stretch for a second time.

I reasoned out to myself that my lefts and rights were right (Fingers Crossed!) and I am on the right track. I can’t stop, I need to proceed. I obviously can’t spend the night on the road. I don’t have a choice. Fear only weakens. Face it and destroy it. Even if this is the wrong road, I at least can be sure that I tried. Trying and failing is better than not trying. Worse- not trying because of a small, insignificant fear. Even worse – fear of the mind ,not of any physical hazard. Shame on me!

In a fleeting reflex I ran straight ahead. In less than 10 seconds my bag and I were out of the shadow of the bridge and on my immediate left, nestled between the branches and trees stood a lonely, old board, “Hem Hotel, Amsterdam”.

I pushed my heart back to my chest.

11 Culture Shocks You Get Outside India

A few from my experiences!

  1. Pedestrians have the right of the way.

You don’t have to look (first to the left then to the right on a one-way street :P) while crossing the road. Even a Heavy Vehicle will wait for the pedestrian to cross the road. If you wait at the curb for the vehicle to pass by, the driver would stop in front of you and motion you to cross! Abiding the Signal and Lane rules go without saying.

Peak Hour Trafic

A glimpse of the peak hour traffic in Kuala Lumpur :O

  1. Slashed Sale prices are genuine.

When you see a 70% off on an apparel store window you can be rest assured that it is genuine, unlike our place where the sale price is same as the normal price! (My 10 Euro Zara dress stands testimony!)

SalePrice!

  1. Smile at the stranger!

You don’t have to know a person to pass on a smile or ‘Good Day’ or a ‘Happy Weekend’. You just realize how cheerful the outside world is. Men hold the door open for women. The public bus driver greets you as you board.

  1. Vegetarianism

Indians (Some groups) are probably the only people who don’t eat meat because of religion / sacred texts. Elsewhere vegetarianism/vegan-ism is by choice and not by birth.

  1. Vegans

Most people (like shopkeepers, waiters) don’t know the difference between Vegetarians and Vegans. As per them, both are the same – No Milk, No Cheese, No Ice-cream :O

  1. Force feeding meat / Respect for others

As with Indians, a non-vegetarian will usually try to feed meat to a vegetarian. They would come up with variety of reasons, black-mails and dares to make a non-eater eat. But this will never happen in when you step out of the country. People respect your choice of food and never will try to force their opinion/ food on you.

Here’s a good compilation of this: http://www.scoopwhoop.com/entertainment/what-happens-with-vegans/

  1. Queue-ing Up

When you stand in a queue you don’t stick onto the person in front of you. There is at least one arm’s distance between 2 consecutive persons. Yeah, I know, for such a populous country as ours, this isn’t possible.

  1. Tea is without milk, coffee is in huge mugs.

Beer is the national drink! And in Amsterdam, dope is legal. Whatte place to be 🙂

 coffeemug

And that’s not even a large serving, that’s regular

  1. Infants are quiet!

Infants and toddlers in their prams stay quiet and cute. They don’t cry, shriek, yell, shout. How, just how?

10. You aren’t an Indian if you don’t eat spicy food!

People give me strange looks (and question my ethnicity!) when I avoid spicy food and when I say I can’t take the spice and burn, just like them!

11. Cities are Wheel-Chair Friendly.

Almost all buildings and footpaths have small ramps and are Wheel-Chair and Baby Pram / Stroller friendly. There runs a yellow protruding line, known as tactile tiles,  alongside curbs, bridges, metro stations to help the visually challenged find their way and not accidentally get on to the road. Really appreciate the thought behind these very essential yet simple ideas.

VisuallyChallenged Friendly

Visually Challenged Friendly

Wheel-Chair Friendly

Wheel-Chair Friendly

My Heart is in my Tummy!

I went to a party recently. A party by a bunch of expats ecstatic about leaving the country, for good. (Now that’s something to throw a party for given that you are in Malaysia.) But the reason doesn’t matter actually, as long as you get free food cooked with ghee (read as fat), booze(more fat) and unending supply of kachoris, pakodas and samosas (Did I tell you oil is great for protecting your stomach, pancreas and the intestines from punches and blows? It magically transforms into layers of flesh and withstands sibling rivalry very well).

Ask people for a treat of a mere popsicle any time during their stay, the answer would be a list of all possible excuses which none of the listeners can ever buy into. But they do this free fat-spreading service with great interest as the last good deed before leaving the country.

Doesn’t bother me much though because the reverence I give to the food wins hands down as the reason for attending a farewell – for the dead or alive. As a kid there were many aftermath-funeral prayers I attended without even knowing the deceased which boasts of sumptuous food believed to send off the soul happily – I don’t know if the departed soul was happy or not but mine sure was.

No, I definitely ain’t the starve-the-whole-day-for-the-evening’s-party-invite or the party barging kind or the buffet line breaker  who follows the scent of burgers, bhel puris and basundhis right to the kitchen unless it is a birthday party of my friend’s uncles’ (mother’s brother’s) son’s daughter ,all of whom I have never met; or spoken with; or even heard of.

Neither am I binge-like-you-haven’t-eaten-for-days and eat-all-you-can kind except in the monthly get-togethers thrown by people leaving the project/account (mmm yummy vada pavs) or the occasional eat-outs/treats – paid by others or celebrating birthdays – of friends and strangers at workplace (ooo that death by chocolate cake and the fruit tart). Ask my ABN friends – at least Richard and Sailesh will vouch for this.

My experiments have taught me that – Food is a great ice-breaker, a conversation starter but the aftermath bill that the host receives ends their acquaintance with me then and there. But Hey, people like me don’t let the food go waste, thank us!

Ah, the Weddings- I can withstand any number of pesky relatives, the Oh-child-you-have-grown-so-big-in-2-days aunties, the do-you-remember-me-we-met-when-you-were-6-months-old uncles, the high-time-you-got-married (when you are single) and the high-time-you-give-your-parents-toys-to-play-with i.e. grandchildren (when you are married) grannies, and the my-grandson-is-also-in-a-IT-company-earns-50k grandpas  : just for and only for the food.

And I love India for this. We celebrate every occasion with 50 different types of food. As with the Tulu community, Annadaan is the greatest form of charity. Am one of the countless beneficiaries of the mouth-watering Saaru (Toamato or Lemon and Lentil soup), the tangy  Kusumbri (pulses salad), the undefinable Meneskaai (Sweet+Sour+Spicy+Bitter – all in 1 gravy), the healthy tumbili (ground spicy greens – like spinach, mint in yoghurt), at least 5 different varieties of sweetmeats (like Jamun, Halwa, Coconut Burfi, Sugar Cashews, Jalebi, Mysorepa, etc.), the smooth and soft Holige (kinda sweet stuffed chapathi) , the out of the world payasa (kheer – Sago/ vermicelli/ legumes in milk) and my all time favourite the divine Cuckoo Rasayana (Mango Milk shake made from ripe mangoes, jaggery and coconut milk – all healthy you see). Not to miss the usual – dosas, sambhars, chutneys, parathas, pickles, pooris, et al.

But this doesn’t mean am only an Indian food fanatic. I am totally against food racism! When it comes to eating out I absolutely love Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and any cuisine that offers me a tasty vegetarian option. My tummy adores all the cheese burst pizzas, the veggie delights, the tofu chowmeins, the burritos, the risottos, the ricottas, the fetas, the Tapas’, the Dim-Sums, the lasagnes, the Malaysian Paos – you name it, I will eat it.

So, do not miss my funeral by any chance, I will pre-set the menu in my will!

Getting back to the parties where we first started, apart from the food I find everything else about it boring – music : usually too loud, dance : which am pathetic at, gossips : yawn, girly talks on handbags and footwear – wake me up when you are done, guys version of tragedies of a marriage – Bitch please, am snoring already. Though it is called bitching, feminine gender, I see guys doing this more than girls. Girls never get to finish talking about jewellery and apparel to get to the bitching part.

So until food is served I just have one thing to do – check out on girls and try to hook the best one up, with my husband.

Puppy Loves and Broken Hearts

I propose the hero of this post to be a tall, lanky lad with a sharp brain, witty remarks, an eye for details yet oozing with oodles of innocence and child-like enthusiasm. A happy-go-lucky chap who believes in following his heart, who quit his boring desk job to learn and take up the career of his dreams, who believes in originality and individuality and who refuses to follow the rest and sees beyond the usual forte in his profession. A person with inspiring aspirations. A fit and handsome fella. A mamma’s boy. A fierce friend. Let’s put his age as 27 years but give him a salt and pepper look to match his different personality.

Oh my,my, when I read it again it looks like a matrimonial ad! Too good to be true. A very desirable profile. Our hero must be juggling girl friends! There comes his life’s only tragedy. How much ever he tries he either fails to impress girls or chooses a wrong one.

Episode 1:

After being a shy boy in school, he decides to become a cool dude in college. Cool dude = Having a girl friend! I am told that and I quote as with every college, either you don’t find a beautiful girl in the campus (I think this is a myth because beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder; so can’t help it) or the one you like is taken. So before you approach a girl you need to do, what the corporates call as BGC, Back Ground Check.

When the Step 1: Finding the right person (indicative picture below) and Step 2: BGC is cleared, you move onto the next step of approaching her.

Minion

Picture Source: Internet, Random Site.

There’s a catch here too. Again am told that this is where friends play a crucial role of Setting Karna / Set Pandradhu. This is how the play is staged:

ACT 1:

Scene 1: Hero’s friend talks to the prospective Heroine about the hero who finds her interesting and would like to be friends with.

Scene 2: If the heroine likes the introduction, on her nod (of approval), hero emerges from behind, exchanges pleasantries.

Scene 3: Friend departs.

ACT 2:

Hero and Heroine hang out and try to find compatibility.

Looks like a variation of Speed Dating!

“Why ACT 1 at all?”, I ask. Apparently when it is to introduce someone else it is very easy (Daayein haat ka khel) but when it is for oneself it is nerve-breaking –

image

Picture Source: Internet, Random Site.

Translation: How do people propose, I hesitate / feel ashamed to ask the street hawker for an extra puri.

So armed with this formula our good guy helps his friends but has no luck in finding his dream girl. As the Valentine’s Day approaches, pressure increases and on the so-called Rose Day, he zeroes in on one girl. “Aww, what beauty, she is my angel”. He nudges his friends to go and 2 of them immediately get into the battle field. The play goes as scripted – They approach her, she sees him standing a few paces behind, she nods, hero arrives and they start chatting about Dadar locals, Anna’s idli and masala tea.

The next day is the Propose Day (Where do these college fellas come up with such weird days? Why not propose for more days on the Propose Day such as Propose-a-day Day, No-Ogling-at-Girls Day, No-Social-Networks Day, Dogs’ day, Clean-your-neighbourhood day, Ring-the-bell-next-door day, Mango-stealing day, Go-to-work-on-time day, Take-the-stairs day; add your own to it). He decides to ask her out. He musters courage and blurts out. She is taken aback and says , “I thought you just wanted to be friends, ” Hero’s mind-voice, “Zandu Dost Log, you screwed up the introduction yesterday”. “And moreover, I already have a long-time boyfriend. I’m sorry”.

His love bubble pops. First wicket down.

Episode 2:

As he raises his sad face and looks ahead, there, near the gate, another angel. Woah, it must be his lucky day. A second opportunity. The three of them run to the gate. The girl is in deep conversation with two other guys. So our boys wait for the coast to clear. But those 2 never seemed to leave. Slowly the 3 of them inched closer to eavesdrop. The illusion cleared; the mirage broke; the bubble burst – The 2 chappies were ‘setting’ her with their friend standing behind and they succeeded. The hero’s story ended even before it began!

Disheartened with back to back failures, the hero gives up on this exercise.

Episode 3:

A few years later, he sees his 3rd angel in a team across his bay at office. But with no college friends around for the ‘setting’, he has very little luck and courage in talking to her. And he had put his papers too, so he never took a step. A year after he resigned, he suddenly felt a (rare) courageous moment and regretted for not talking to her back then. Now with a revived energy and many bollywood movies’ lessons and songs running in his head off he goes to his old office. It’s deserted. He learns that most of the folks are holidaying in Goa. He walks past his team towards the adjoining bay. There again, many seats’re empty.

“These guys too have gone to Goa, is it?”

“Yes”

“What about the girl?”

“She, obviously, has gone!”

“Oh”, thinks our chap patting himself on his back, “a fun loving girl. Good choice.”

“Didn’t you know she’s getting married today?”

Bubble bursts! Again, the story ended even before it began!

Episode 4:

A few more years later, the fourth one. He’s crazy about this girl. He did not have so many butterflies in his stomach with his previous 3 crushes. She filled his heart with joy. His eyes lit up just with the sight of her. Her presence mesmerised him. He guarded her all through her short stint in India and followed her like the Hutch pug.

Once, after a hard day’s work, she dozed off in the taxi on the way back home. Our hero and his friend had gone to escort her home. After reaching, he didn’t have the heart to wake her up. He just sat next to her, with eyes glued, watching her sleep, oblivious to the taxi driver’s abuses and his friend’s filthy looks. Had his friend not woken her up, our chap (told with great conviction that he) would have bribed the taxi driver to stay put there till she woke up!

Mereko kya ho gaya rey, is this how it feels to be head-over-heels in love?”, he wonders.

But even with this strong emotion and the madness, this time he chooses to end the story himself. He doesn’t approach her at all. “Nahi bataega mein“. She is his model for his shoots. A Cleopatra from Brazil. He is contented with the photographs he clicks of her and buries his burning desire. And now, all day through he keeps humming,

“You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful. You’re beautiful, it’s true. I saw your face in a crowded place, And I don’t know what to do, ‘Cause I’ll never be with you.”   [YouTube Link to the song]

You see, with an international crush he can’t stick to bollywood songs anymore!

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this post are definitely not fictitious. If you find resemblance to any real person(s), then, ‘Bingo!’. If you haven’t then what name do you suggest for this good-calm fellow? I suggest a Sanskrit version of good & calm – Sushant!

The Bombay Halwa

This post was long due, probably should have been the first post. An incident that leaves us, the school buddies, in splits every time we talk about it. An incident that’s 12 years old and yet fresh and vivid in our memories. A post dedicated to the girls involved –

Unlike now(I’m sounding like a granny!) where eating out is more of a norm than a luxury, it wasn’t so in 2002.  And we did not have as much pocket money to eat out every other day too. But this was a special moment that was approaching. 10th standard Board Exams. So along with the exam preparations a bunch of us, class mates, started putting aside our pocket money of Re.1 and Rs.2 for the ‘Treat Yourself’ Day.

After the last exam we jubilantly threw our books and bags (you imagined the picture of students throwing their graduation hats, dint ye?) and merrily walked to the the eatery of our choice. Before we entered we counted how much each of us had so that we order within the amount. We were 8 of us with around Rs.25 each.

Woohoo Parrrty Time!

We occupied the best table and my pal Shrinidhi and I started scanning the tattered, antique menu card. We went to the rate side of the page first and then matched it with the menu item. We had to be within our budget you see, can’t indulge in something exotic with 25 bucks. The one item that caught both our eyes was this –

Pav Bhaji          Rs. 5

Woah, that’s what we should order first. That’s damn cheap for a restaurant of this range – echoed our expressions and we announced to the girls , “Let’s start with Pav Bhaji”.

“8 plates Pav Bhaji, please”.

We then resumed scanning the card for the next item to be ordered.

Bhel Puri        Rs. 10

Sev Puri          Rs. 10

Dahi Papdi      Rs. 18

We settled on 4 plates Bhel, 4 plates Sev and 4 plates Dahi Papdi. We could all share and eat, that’s the whole point.

We brought the roof down with our yells and laughter,  licked clean the plates,burped loudly, and finally called for the bill.

’Twas Shrinidhi and I again to receive the bill and our eyes popped out looking at the amount – Rs.272. How in the world? It had to be Rs.192. We found the culprit right away –

Item             Price           Quantity       Amount

Pav Bhaji      Rs.15               8               Rs.120

We called the waiter and told him, “There seems to be a mistake in the bill. It says the first item is Rs.15 but the menu card said it’s Rs.5”

The waiter was taken aback and he returned with a menu card, this time a new one, with clean pages and no rate revisions and pointed it on the Menu. The Menu ,now, clearly said

Extra Pav         Rs.5

Pav Bhaji          Rs.15

You’re bad at Match the Following said the waiter’s looks while his mouth uttered, “Ma’am looks like you saw it wrong”.

“Oh Okay, Thanks”, said we and turned to the table and continued chatting. He waited for a minute and left. The moment he was out of the earshot I said, “People we are 80 bucks short. Quickly devise a plan or we need to get ready to work in the hotel today”. The girls frantically searched their wallets for more money but how will it appear when we had counted each rupee before entering the restaurant? We settled on the escape route of calling up a parent to bail us out. Next question was who would that be? Shrinidhi’s dad said Sandhya as his office was a few blocks from the restaurant and he could get there in the shortest time.

And again unlike now, (granny talk) where even 4 year olds have mobile phones we were in an era where 1 land-line was shared between 4 households. None of us had a cellular phone. So Sandhya and Shrinidhi immediately jumped off the chairs and rushed to find a PCO. After reaching the place they realized that all the money was with me and they were penniless. Miraculously Sandhya’s pocket had 3 coins – 50 paise each. 1 call was Re.1, so they could make only 1 call and it had to get through. They dialed Shrinidhi’s dad’s mobile number. No answer. It could be that he is driving and hence couldn’t answer, they thought. What’s the point in calling up or walking to his office now? So they called her mom.

“Mom, Hello. Dad’s not answering the call. Could you ask him to come over to the chat shop in Mylapore right away and bail us out? The bill amount is more than what we have. Please Mom.”

“Are you crazy? Where do I find him now? He might be out to meet clients.”

“Then you come over, please”

“I am no way getting into your foolishness”

“Mom,”

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Line got cut.

The guy at the counter was fast asleep. The shook him and woke him up.
“Anna, we need to make just 1 more call. Would you please let us call? We are just 50 paise short. 1 quick call, Anna, please”

“Out, both of you. Out of my shop”

Not knowing what else to do, they loitered around the shop.

Meanwhile in our parallel universe, we were trying to somehow prolong the payment. 2 girls suggested that they would go out and see what the first two were up to. When the 3 of us still sitting inside could not pretend of being in deep conversation anymore we asked for the Menu card once again.

“I feel hungry again, how about a Roti?”, said Neeraja indicating that 1 roti was only Rs.8.

“What subzi would you like to order with the Roti, Ma’am?”, ridiculed the waiter. “Wait my dear boy”, I thought, “I ain’t leaving you any tip”. But that’s only when we leave.

For now, back to the menu. Not a single curry was less than 25 bucks. So I tried to save our skin by saying, “No I ain’t that hungry. Let’s order a dessert”.

Bombay Halwa – In House Speciality         Rs.15

“1 Bombay Halwa, please”

“Just 1”

“Yes, that will be it”

He immediately served us a small halwa with 3 spoons. We started eating the sweet minuscule amount by minuscule amount. We were competing as to who could cut the smallest possible bite. After what seemed like ages and after the halwa became half its size, I saw the much awaited Blue Bajaj Scooter materializing near the window. Uncle Sundar! The sight of him filled me with so much joy and in a reflex i popped in the remaining sweet into my mouth.

We breathed a sigh of relief when he paid the bill and thanked him profusely. I gave him the money that I had and told him that we will pay him the remaining amount soon to which he said, “Don’t bother about that. Enjoy your vacation and next time you go out to eat make sure all of you visit an ophthalmologist first“

After he left, I got a sound thrashing on the road. No, not for the menu fiasco but for this –

“Bitch, you gobbled up half of the halwa in an instant without giving it to us!”

Day of Delays

The airline which I prefer to call as A2 has set expectations with its passengers for its inevitable delay across all flights. Be it domestic or international, peak season or off-season, delay is always on the cards. Having faced it many a times I booked my connecting domestic flight with a gap of 3 hours after the A2 international one lands. People were teasing me saying that it was unnecessary caution and this time the airline was going to be on time. I just laughed it off but secretly was planning what to do for the 3 hours – Novel? Magazine? Candy Crush? Sleep? Window-shop? Or sit and wonder what to do for 3 hours?

Honestly, I did not know if I was to feel happy that my precaution paid off or to feel unhappy when the airline announced the late departure of my flight by an hour. To be just with both emotions, I felt happy for half hour and sad for the next half hour. Whatever was the emotion, the 1 hour was up which was the main goal. Timepass with the Mind!

I still have 2 hours for transit was the last thing the mind thought of when there was the next announcement – No free runway. A holiday season busy airport. You come late to the lecture hall in High School and still expect to find a seat in a session on Sex Education? (And those who did sit through the session will tell you that it didn’t have anything you expected though. )

15 minutes ticked, found a runway but no place to park the aircraft – or whatever you call the process of disembarking the passengers.

25 minutes later, I was on board. I still have about 1 hour 20 minutes interval between the next flight. Am just waiting to boast to my friends about my cool foresight. Or did I speak too soon?

Slept; well fed; landed.

Immigration Queue – Have you heard about the Law of Queues?

Law of Queue: If you change queues, the one you have left will start to move faster than the one you are in now.”

Add this to it – “And all dumb heads will get into the same line you are in.” (Because you are one too – Let’s get to it later.)

Maybe stupidity is in the air in that queue and all the like-minded fools get attracted to that one like bees to a nectar rich flower and the geniuses get repelled into different queues like coming across a guy with an overdose of an obnoxious perfume. I seriously think I can stand the stench of the Coovum River better than these pungent perfumes.

My only pass time now is to observe my fellow queue-mates – One guy doesn’t know why he has come to this country; one doesn’t know flight number that he just took to fill in the immigration form; one refuses to remove the face scarf so that the immigration officer can see the person’s face before stamping the passport; one apparently has some visa issues and one huge family crowd the counter together as if a group entry entitles a discount. You ask what my stupidity is to match these folks? Isn’t queuing up in this line a good enough testimony?

One hour to rush to the domestic departure.

Queue up again at the baggage screening counter near the exit. Seriously, what do people carry in so many bags and how do they manage to? The huge family, from my line earlier, of 6 adults and 2 kids had 11 check-in bags and 10 cabin/hand bags. What in the world do you transport between countries? Import Export business? My meek small cabin bag had to wait until all their giants went through.

50 minutes, rush, rush.

Hopped onto the shuttle to the domestic airport and right after me walks in an elderly lady with 2 huge bags on her trolley. Why, just Why? Why do you want to carry so much around? The courteous driver loaded the bags onto the vehicle and helped her get in. Thankfully without waiting any further he vroomed and zoomed.

40 minutes, get to the counter for a boarding pass, quick.

And, why didn’t I check-in online and print the pass myself? No, not my stupidity this time; the airline did not have online check-in facility for people with one-way tickets. But no worries, the display board says there are 4 counters to cater to the passenger; I can glide through quickly.

There are 1,2,3….6,7 , seven people in the queue. Will all 8 of us make it on time? Yes, we could if all the mentioned 4 counters were open but alas, 3 were closed. (Staff out for a fag break I suppose, and in a group for a discount at the chai-wala?)

Panic wants to enter me  – I can’t contact my friends waiting at the destination airport if I miss the flight, I don’t have a local number, and there aren’t any pay phones around – I need to drop this piece of suggestion in the Airport’s Feedback Box – To install payphones. Oh I deviated. Dear Mind, stop your random thoughts, for now I need to panic. But somehow the calmness of the people ahead of me in the line intrigued me. The elderly lady from the shuttle joined after me in the line. I gave her a weak smile and she said, “Yeah I know, delays, can’t help”.

What? How does she know I am running late? I don’t remember speaking to her. And she herself is late. I can at least run to the gate, she definitely can’t. I need to note this in my head – Retirement Plans should include gymming. I need to be physically fit when I am a granny to run to the gates. Gosh, I never can understand why my thoughts are so random and unconnected all the time. Where was I?

Seeing the expressions of my thoughts on my peeved face she asked, “Didn’t you get the sms from the airline?”

The airline? Sms? More puzzling expressions on my face.

“Our flight is delayed by an hour”, she said.

“Oooooh” I said or rather kept dragging the word till the message go to my head, which took about a full minute. “I didn’t know, Thanks”.

You wanted a reason as to why I stood in the Moron’s Queue while immigration, didn’t you? Here’s the proof – I looked ahead, next to the counter, a large display board(at least 37 inches big) said, in bright red – Delayed.

Majhya Maitrinichi Mumbai! (My Friend’s Bombay)

If you ask Mumbaikars about Amchi Mumbai, you would get different views. A youngster would tell you about Hanging out at Marine Drive, Shopping at Colaba and Bandra, Sharukh Khan’s house at Bandstand, the Gorai Creek, the newly built Bandra-Worli Sea Link, numerous malls and would also boast of the 1st Starbucks Outlet in India!

A middle-aged or a senior person would talk about Siddhi Vinayak, Mahalaxmi, Haji Ali, the new Buddhist Pagoda or Mumbai being the Financial Capital of India, NSE, Nifty etc.

But when I told my friend that I want to visit Bombay, her version took me by surprise! She said, “There are so many places to eat, do come over!”

Vada Pav at Borivali , Pav Bhaji at Tardeo Sardar Hotel, Roadside Chat – Paani Puri & Sev Puri, Bhel Puri at Sonawala Building, Mongolian Pot Rice, Tapan Yakee sizzler & Chicken Wings at 5 Spice, Almost all dishes at Mainland China, Mom’s special – Kanda Poha, Prawns Masala, Fish Fry, Shrikhand Puri, and the list goes on!

Did I miss out the desserts? Joshi Budhakaka’s Halwa and Kaju Katli, Mom’s Carrot Halwa and the amazing Til ka Laddu, Chikku and Tender Coconut ice creams from Tender Fresh; phew I need a heavy dose of Digene after all these!

Turns out that each one of the items she recommended were utterly delicious; I can vouch for the ghaas-phoos(vegetarian, in her terms) and she would for the all the meat.

The entire trip turned out to be a walk through Dream Land –
With people coming to the airport at 4 a.m. for a flight that’s gonna land at 6.a.m, for you;
Spending an entire day in search of an out-of-market cheap phone’s battery,for you;
Making sure they mention ‘non-spicy’ to the waiter even when you forget, for you;
Taking the best efforts to make the stay comfortable, for you;
Parceling a box of yummy home-made Laddus, for you;
Keep you entertained in family functions so that you don’t get bored;
Each member of the family giving you a separate farewell gift (Apart from the Laddus!)!

One of the most memorable vacations ever, how I wish it’d been for longer; Oh, ye lovely folks, Thanks a bunch!

Feet, My Foot!

Off late this picture below has been doing rounds and I got it from a friend. 
Foot_Type
I carefully scrutinised (Note the redundancy to state how careful the scrutiny was) the picture and replied, “What if someone’s foot doesn’t fall into any of these categories?”, to which the friend promptly replied, “How can that be? Every person born would have feet fitting into one or maybe two of these. I received it from a trusted source, so it has to be authentic”.
“Well, er.., excuse me, knock..knock..”, I wanted to retort but refrained.
Now, again I studied my feet and deduced the following:
1. I wasn’t born withe these feet – No, that ain’t possible. There hasn’t been any accident that changed the features of my feet.
2. I haven’t evolved from my ancestor into a Homo Sapien – Not possible again, apes have nice long toes and have only gap between 2 of their toes.
ape_feet
So the best conclusion seems to be –
3. A soul of a webbed footed animal or bird(a duck seems to be a good fit), by way of its very bad karma, got into my mother’s womb to be born as a dreaded human being! What sin did you commit you poor duckie to become me?!
And yes, this seems to be logical: The cartoon character that fascinated me first as a kid was (and still does) Donald Duck. It’s in my blood you see 😉
Feet_Edited
P.S 1: If you are wondering about the skin in between the toes of a webbed foot, I shed it as I grew.
P.S 2: If you’re wondering why the 2 aren’t identical, (left has more gaps than the right) well, the duckie was perhaps a hybrid (or had naughty parents of a duck and a swan!) or it was, Oh Yes, The Ugly Duckling!
Woohoo, I prefer the latter, I had a very popular previous birth, Yipee! (You must have read the Ugly Duckling in kindergarten for sure!)
P.S 3: Nail paint courtesy – Sissy Such !

Vishuddhi – Scholarships 2013

Vishuddhi reached out to 20 students this year in helping them pay a part of their school fee. The students were selected and awarded scholarships in the 1st week of September (This post comes in a little late!). Wishing the girls the best in Life and a great future!

Heartfelt Thanks to the contributors: Rohit Patnekar, Ganesh Kumar Jayabalan, Karan Karia, Mona Paul and Sampath Kumar Tatipamula.

And of course to my bestie Sangeetha for being there for me !

Vishuddhi_2013Vishuddhi_Scholars_2013

 

Loads of Likes!

– Inspired and greatly humbled by the number of ‘Likes’ on a few of my pictures in Facebook lately.

A quick handy list of tips for making your picture get loads of Likes by creating Good Looking Illusion !
The list is not exhaustive, we can add more points to it, these are just the techniques that have been employed in my pictures !

Prop: An over-sized pair of Coolers / Sun Glasses
Use: Covers the Eyes, non-threaded Eyebrows and most importantly Dark Circles!
Other advantages: Creates a cool look. Avoids Picture retakes because of closed eyes.
This is especially for my roomie Suria. For 1 picture, we don’t have to take 5 shots anymore. 😉
Alerrrrt: Don’t keep them on at nights and at dark places, that’s uncool.
Secret Tip: People with power glasses, you can get custom-made power-sun glasses at any optical ! Aahhh, now you know how I can see without my spectacles!

Prop: Open Hair
Use: Covers unclean ears. No need to hunt for a matching pair of earrings to go with the dress.
Other advantages: People who are bad at tying their hair can take cue !

Prop: Hang out with people who can click great pics and from different angles
Use: Angles cover flaws easily and the beauty of the angle will be mistaken as the person’s beauty.
Other advantages: A lot of good pics to choose from as they don’t get tired of clicking.

Prop: Smile – Better if genuine , can manage with a fake one.
Use: Universally accepted means as the way to the heart !
Alerrrrrt: Avoid grinning if forgotten to brush your teeth. 😡

Prop: Super Smart Boyfriend/Girlfriend/Friend
Use: People will think you look great too because of the other person (in my case Thanks, Mj 😀 )
Other advantages: Likes from the partner’s friends too.
Alerrrrrt: Don’t forget to tag them.
Secret Tip: If they don’t fall under the category, employ some of the tricks in the post on them too !

Prop: Sepia or Grayscale tone
Use: Covers sweaty look. Covers bad makeup. Covers flashy coloured clothes. Vintage effect.
Alerrrrrt: Don’t overuse them.
Secret Tip: Personally, not a fan of Instagram effect but you can if you do !

Prop: Very Important – Lot of Lovely Friends who are super sweet to like all your pictures!
Use: The theme of this list – Loads of Likes
Other advantages: Endless and not in the scope of this write-up! 😀

Lo Behold ! Good Looking Illusion Created ! Happy Posing !

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