Friday, March 16, 2007

an action-packed, adventurous life!

my wife blames me of corrupting her after marriage!

she claims that she was a far more organised person who planned well in advance and never waited until the last moment to start working on things. i think she's lead a very colorless, uneventful life until she got married to me :-)

what she means is that she (which includes her family) would usually land up at the train/ bus terminal or airport at least an hour before the actual departure time. and then they would wait patiently until the train/bus/aircraft rolled into the terminal and then they would have enough time to settle down in their allotted seats and make some polite conversation with the co-passengers.

my life has been far more action-packed than that. i've lost count of the number of trains, buses and flights that i've missed. i've boarded the wrong train more than once.

its not been so bad after marriage (i guess its my wife's influence!) but we've still had our fair share of near-misses. there was a time when we wanted to return to chennai from tirupati and we literally jumped on to a moving train. (i decided to buy the tickets just as we saw the train moving into the station.)

and then there was the near-miss when another family and we were trying to get to delhi after attending vivek's wedding in lucknow! (read vivek's blog at we abandoned the taxi in the middle of a traffic jam and moved our luggage onto a cycle-rickshaw (click here to know what a cycle rickshaw looks like the ladies and kids managed to walk to the station much faster while my friend and i were battling through the crowds outside lucknow station and managing to dump all our luggage into the train just as it started leaving the station!

but the closest miss was during my recent trip to dubai. my flight was at 5.40 am from mumbai and i decided to reach the airport the previous night itself so that i could catch some sleep at the airport itself instead of having to wake up at an unearthly hour at home! i reached the check-in counter just at it opened at about 2 am only to be told that my passport was not valid. that's when i realised that i was carrying my old cancelled passport.

my wife started frantically searching through all the usual places at home with no luck. i decided to get back home and called up a colleague and anita (our finance & admin head and one of the most resourceful people i've ever come across). they both rushed to office, woke up the security and managed to find my new passport in my office drawer. i promptly left home once again and reached the airport at the same time as my office colleagues.

and i managed to get to dubai on the flight i was supposed to be on!

now imagine if i were as well organised as my wife, i would have missed out on all such adventures! (she must be shaking her head in exasperation while reading this :-) )

i am sure i am not the lone adventurer. some of you must have more interesting stories to share! i'd love to hear them!

irony in our modern world

i've been in dubai all this week for some client meetings.

and i'm carrying back some volvic flavored water for the kids. i have not seen this kind of flavored drinking water back home. and this is what i find ironical. i am carrying back water from dubai (which is in the middle of a desert) to india!

i have been travelling from dubai to abu dhabi by road almost every day. it is amazing to see the extent of construction going on in dubai. the largest number of cranes in the world are apparently deployed in dubai right now.

what also strikes you is the amount of greenery and flowers in full bloom all along the well planned and immaculately managed roads. there is also hectic construction activity going on for a metro rail in dubai. the project was given the go-ahead in may 2005 and is expected to be completed in 55 months ( and by the looks of it it should be completed within that time.

dubai is a melting pot of many cultures. the largest groups of people you see are indians, pakistanis, filipinos, chinese, egyptians, lebanese, moroccons, russians and many europeans and americans too. at a superficial level there seems to be no discrimination against any specific community here. but most of the indians i spoke to do feel a sense of insecurity about their jobs, the rising prices, etc. (rentals have escalated by more than 100% within the last 2-3 years).

but for me dubai lacks a soul. there is a lot of glitz and glamor, but it all seems very fragile. i guess the fact that most of the funds pouring into the ecconomy here is from the underworld and from people who are avoiding taxes in their respecti8ve countries only adds to this sense of dicomfort that i feel. i prefer visiting other asian countries, but give me 'aamchi mumbai' (our mumbai) and 'mera bharat' (my india) anyday :-)

Friday, March 09, 2007

it happens only in india!

there are some of these quirky, bizarre and completely inexplicable things that you will come across in urban/metro india that would take you by complete surprise! i believe these are the reasons that make living in india one filled with surprises every day, sometimes unpleasant but mostly pleasant.

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1. this is a road sign i noticed while i was at nehru place in new delhi. i crossed this sign and then it struck me. i retraced my path and couldn't believe my eyes. i took this pic on my mobile phone and kept it for posterity. i mean, where else in the world will you find a road sign that says 'no pachyderms!'

2. and then there was this bank i was visiting down south. during a break in the meeting i decided to visit the comfort/wash room. i noticed there were the usual two doors, one which said 'Ladies' with the tell-tale drawing of a shapely figure denoting the dairer sex, and the other which said 'Gents'. what got my attention was the third door marked 'Officers'! when i mentioned this to one of the bank employees later he shared an internal joke where most of them assumed that this door was used by the 'third sex' :-)

3. and i'm sure most of you have seen some of these sign-boards in some of the restaurants, especially in the irani restaurants.

- No combing
- No outside food
- No hand-washing in plates
- No special tea
- Milk not for sale
p.s. i will add some more entries into this posting. i would like you to share similar anecdotes which i could include.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

what did you just say?

recently i was chatting with a friend trying to find out how i could get my picture uploaded on my gmail account so that it could show with my profile. (just goes to show how vain i am ;-) )

during the conversation a statement was made which went something like this -
"if you roll your mouse over your name you should be able to see your pic". that's when i did a double-take and asked 'what did you just say?'!

for a moment, just imagine you were in the early or mid seventies when we didn't have television, computers and mobile phones (and while i am at it, let me also add that at my house we didn't have - telephones, cable tv, refrigerator, micro-waves, piped gas, washing machines, etc). if i were to make such a statement to someone, they would either assume i have finally come unhinged or i am making some off-colour joke or something.

i then tried to list out some more such statements we use almost everyday which would sound weird or nonsensical if we had uttered them in the period i mentioned ealier. (the statements in brackets are the possible reactions that you might have received to these statements)

the amazing thing is that we are talking about language changing during our own life-times!

1. let me sms/text you his cell number (people would assume you are talking in code about people in prison cells!)

2. can you please switch over to mtv or ftv? (people would assume you are asking them to change brands of something. except that they would wonder what item are you talking about!)

3. do you have a swift or a getz? mine's a city! (you would be looked at in a kindly fashion as people would assume you are mentally disturbed)

4. let me log in and upload my file and zip it across to you! (a case of too much star trek!)

5. let's grab a coke and a 'mac aloo tikki burger' with some fries to go with it! (you are definintely imbibing some banned susbtances!)

6. let's meet at k-lounge tonight. dj plays some cool trance! (what's so cool about dhananjay playing his off-key harmonium? and where in the universe is the 'lounge'?)

7. you should try the hummus and the falafel. and then wash it down with a chianti. (dabbling with banned substances again!)

8. my son got his first 'beyblade' today! (how can you say such crass things? its not something to be proud of! you wouldn't say that if you were the father of the girl!)

9. did you crack today's sudoku? (is that some form of martial art you are practising?)

10. let me try ping you or finger you and see if there is any response. (don't you dare get fresh with me!!!)


i'm sure you can up with more hilarious examples. please do share them here.