Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thoughts on Chennai-3: Laidback

I used to think we Bangaloreans were pretty laid back. In fact, I would have thought that if one laid back any further, the spine would break- i.e. it does not get laider back than this. But I was wrong.
Three months into Chennai, I realized that it IS possible. Chennaites are even more laid back than Bangaloreans, and their spines are intact. Visually, at least. I can’t say for sure, as I never got around to getting a Chennaite to take of his sweaty vest and probing his vertebrae. Not the most pleasant of tasks, and understandably one procrastinates. Of course I could have taken the more pleasant option of asking a female Chennaite to undo her pallu and let me examine her backbone, but then her husband (or brother) would have fractured mine.

So without absolute scientific proof, based on just the observed visual evidence, I can state this: the Chennaite gets into office around the time we Bangaloreans have already finished half the days work, and his lumbar does not seem to fuse with his dorsal.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thoughts on Chennai-2: Sambar

After 3 months in Chennai, I can say this: these chaps don’t know to make Sambar.

Despite being a hidebound ‘Northy’ in all matters culinary, over a decade in Bangalore has made me something of an expert on the Southy nosh of idly-dosa-sambar and suchlike gastronomical excesses.

OK, maybe ‘expert’ is too strong a word, but as any self-respecting Bangalorean, I DO know this one thing: Sambar is NOT something that you are actually supposed to eat.

Sambar is this thin lurid orangish fluid that accompanies the dosa. It has these little white flecks floating in it that are designed to instigate vigorous mental inquiry: one part of you wants to stir it in horrid fascination with a spoon and ask “what on Earth are these little white flecks?” Another part of you wants to screw the eyes shut and whisper inaudibly “You don’t wanna know. You don’t wanna know.” Mental Inquiry. The purpose of the sambar-bowl, of course, is to make you think about the sadder aspects of life, so that you grow spiritually. You just look at it tensely while you nibble a few pieces quickly torn off from the edge of your fat oily dosa, and send it back with the waiter who recycles it in a big vat kept at the back of the restaurant where they breed alligators.

Now, what does one get in Chennai? Thin, crisp and chewy dosas that burst with flavor. A bowl of fragrant sambar- a pleasing yellow with oodles of veggies, that you can gulp down by the bucketful. And- listen to this carefully, for you won’t believe your ears: These maniacal Chennaites actually EAT this stuff.

Sure, the sambar in Chennai is good, and is pleasing to the taste buds. But is tickling the saporine organs all that there is to life? Isn’t there more to this vale of tears than to fill your belly?

What of the spirit? When will these Chennaites get around to building their spiritual selves?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Thoughts on Chennai-1: Roads

A few months ago, I moved to Chennai from Bangalore. This month, I moved hurriedly back. But my short stay in that great city led to deep introspection about what can virtually be called a sister city of Bangalore – I mean, it’s just a short bike-ride away. But although so close physically, the cities are so different. In this series of posts I will examine the differences between these two great South Indian cities.

The first thing that hits a visitor from Bangalore to this city of sun, sea and sand is: ROADS.

These chaps don’t know to make roads. The Chennai concept of road is this flat smooth thing with tar on it. On both sides of it, they have this thing called ‘footpath’- a flat unbroken path with nice neat slabs of stone for people to walk on. Now get this, the weirdest part: they act as though roads are where the cars drive and footpaths are exclusively for people.

How can these people be so Naïve ?

Where are the potholes? Where are the half-meter-high speedbreakers with razor edges which scrape the underbelly of low-slung cars? Where is the mud? The cobbles? The gaping holes in the footpath for people to fall into and break their legs? Above all, where, oh where is the friendly intermingling of cars and pedestrians in the middle of the road, sprawling over on to the notational footpaths, where visible?

In short, where is the fun? Where are the possibilities of spiritual instruction?

These chaps seem to think a road is a soulless means of getting from point A to B. Don’t these Chennaites have a sense of adventure? They ought to visit us dudes in Bangalore. Fun and games night and day on the streets. Of course, people get killed and maimed. But what of it? It strengthens you spiritually.

We Bangloreans are a spiritual, fun-loving people.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thoughts on Artificial Sweeteners

Do you put artificial sweeteners in your tea? Or coffee? You do?!? Shame on you!
Don’t you know artificial sweeteners are responsible for the hole in the ozone layer? The selfsame hole that is getting us all into a holy mess- what with Global Warming and all that muck. Not that that is such a bad thing. Think Free Sauna. Of course, here in India we have free sauna all the year around. But think of those chaps in the northern climes.

So what do they put in artificial sweeteners, and why does it cause a hole in the ionosphere?

This requires deep scientific analysis and knowledge of advanced chemistry and physics, which I know you don’t have. Otherwise you wouldn’t be wasting your time reading this blog. You would be out there saving the world from Global Warming. Or maybe you’re just a pathological procrastinator.

Anyway, I’ll put it in terms intelligible to the meanest pea-brain:

When you eat sugar, you fart Methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas. It heats the atmosphere. So those rich farts in the west don’t have to burn oil to heat their saunas. This reduces Global Warming.

When you eat artificial sweeteners, you fart…I dunno. Variegated, diverse stuff, but not Methane. So the atmosphere doesn’t get heated up and those rich dolts in the West have to burn oil for their saunas. This causes Global Warming.

When the air heats up, it rises. It spills out through this hole in the ozone layer. This cause friction. Hole gets bigger. The hot air falls back. This increases Global Warming.

I hope it is clearer now.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Thoughts on a Chair

Chairs. Chairs make me sick. Chairs are a conspiracy. A conspiracy by the bums of this world to elevate themselves. Now why would two hemispherical stubs of meat want to elevate themselves? Don’t they know their place in life? I call it the Deepak Chopra complex: Everyone wants to be thought of as a rare rarified soul. Do bums have soul? Possibly. Ms Ashwarya Rai’s certainly seem to.

Now I want to clarify that I’m not particularly prejudiced against bums. Especially the ones attached to Ms Rai. If they wish to get elevated, all strength to them, I say.

But we were talking about chairs, not bums. Where on earth did bums get into this discussion? So what are chairs? They can broadly be defined as a framework of some kind of rigid material like wood, steel or aluminum, specifically designed to elevate the human posterior. Oh yes…that is where we got distracted by the bum motif. Let us hurriedly push on.

OK, so what is rigid? Rigid is what happens to the male you-know-what when brought into contact with Viagra. What is a framework? We need to break this up. Frame is when you are accused of doing something you claim you did not. Work is …well, work. What else? Something we all do when we’d much rather be sleeping or playing the guitar. The human posterior, aka bum, we have already defined as a particularly attractive part of Ms Rai’s corpus, when viewed from behind.

So we can summarize the chair as follows:

It is when you are accused of doing something you’d much rather not be doing esp. just after you’ve popped a Viagra and had a good look at a photograph of Ms Rai taken from behind.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Thoughts on Monkeys

Today we turn our thoughts to another burning issue of the day: Monkeys.

India and Australia were recently convulsed to their respective foundations by the news that cricketer Harbajan Singh allegedly called Andrew Symond ‘Monkey’ at the Indo-Australia Cricket match in Sydney. Since one in every 6 human on this planet is an Indian, and one in every 200 is an Australian, we can safely say that the world was shaken to its foundation by this news.

Three questions: What is ‘News’? What is ‘Allegedly’? What is ‘Monkey’?

‘News’ is one plump fellow in thick, oily slicked-down hair gibbering unintelligibly on NDTV- usually joined by another thin bony fellow doing the same. But this is a topic we will examine in more detail another day.

‘Allegedly’ is one of those words used by journalists, lawyers and suchlike to call anyone anything they want and get away with it.

‘Monkey’ is general term applied to any simian primate, from whom we Homo sapiens have allegedly evolved. What is the implication of calling a member of the species Homo sapiens ‘Monkey’? Well, essentially you are alleging that the said member is unevolved.

Question: what is evolution? Evolution is the process of graduating from walking and eating fruit and nuts, to driving around in an internal combustion engine and eating burgers at MacDonald, both of which allegedly lead to coronary heart disease.

So essentially what we are saying is that the world was shaken to its foundation because one plump fellow on NDTV in thick black slicked-down hair gibbered excitedly using a word used by journalists to call anyone anything and get away with it that one Homo sapiens told another that he (the other Homo sapiens) was not leading a lifestyle conducive to coronary heart disease.

Question: If this is sufficient to rock the foundation of the world, does it lead to some nervous speculation about the solidity of the world’s foundation?

Yes it does. Please remember, the world does NOT, in fact, have a foundation. The world is actually a mud ball whizzing in tight circles around another ball made up of, as far as our best scientist can tell, gas.

Which is another worrying thought.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thoughts on a Sausage

Dear world, apologies for the long break in blogging… I finally found a ‘normal’ job of some sort. Nothing great – but enough to move from the status of being a starving unemployed writer to an I’d-love-to-write-but-cant-find-the-time brand of dilettante pseudo-literati. My good friend Siva induced me to write again. Blame him.

Anyway, since it doesn’t seem practical any more to spend half a day polishing long posts, I have decided to reactivate my blog with a series of short and pithy ‘Thoughts’ posts. This is the first in the series- to be stopped only when a sufficient number of people protest. Loudly. Or the street dogs in my back alley start howling. Louder than they already do.

In these postings, I will present a few thoughts of a deep and philosophical nature on an important intellectual, socio-political or cultural issue of the day.

Today let us consider: Sausages.

What are, in fact, sausages? Sausages are the end result of subjecting sus domestica or the common pig (not to be confused with the male chauvinist pig, a species that, as any woman knows, is good for nothing- not even sausages) to a long and complex industrial process, the ghoulish details of which if I go into you’ll spoil your lunch.

But what are chicken sausages? Chicken sausages are a conspiracy. Try mentioning chicken sausages to a German. He will choke in his tankard of Helles (or if he happens to be drinking Dunkles or Lager at the time, he’ll choke on those). Chicken sausages are a conspiracy by the French to asphyxiate the German nation, a revenge for WWII.

Now, here in India, we don’t eat sausages much. Chicken sausages in Mac don’t count. That is why we aren’t big and strong, like the Germans. We don’t eat much Couscous either. That is why we aren’t big and strong like the Algerians and Moroccans. But we have started to eat a great deal of burgers and fries. Soon we will be big and fat, like the Americans.

Chicken sausages are not politically tenable in the long run. Knowledge of this innovation has not yet filtered down to the global poultry. When it does, what will be the harvest? Could we withstand all the chickens of this world standing up as a hen and squawking? Suppose that happens at your local tandoori joint? Of course, you could argue, that applies to normal sausages as well. Suppose all the pigs of the world gang up and grunt in unison? But that is not the same thing. Not the same thing at all…

There was a report in Nature last week…scientists are genetically modifying pigs to embody the sausage. Not, mind you, that their bodies will be used to make sausages. No, that happens even now. In future, their bodies will be the sausages.

Now there’s a nice thought….Can they genetically modify pigs like the ones who misbehaved with those girls in Mumbai on New Years Day? I’m sure a girl could easily handle a clutch of misbehaving alcohol-soaked sausages – although she can’t realistically be expected to fight back seventy drunken boors on the rampage.

This is a good idea, and must be pushed along with all due alacrity by the scientific community. But then there will be two more kinds of sausages: Konkanasta and Deshasta. And suppose they do it to those roadside Romeos in Delhi as well? What a fun!

Here is how a conversation between a Delhi cheappad and a Babe might go in the future:-

Cheappad: Oye Dolly! Kitthey? Saade naal rahoge to AISH karoge!

Babe: Oye Chavanne, saade naal rahoge to FRY ho jaoge.