Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hunter gets hunted

The lush green lawn of our office premises draws in lots of colourful birds. Among them the mynahs. The mynahs are known to be aggressive and noisy but yesterday I witnessed a heart-rending scene.
I was reaching the canteen with my senior colleagues when I saw an innocent mynah pecking some insects or whatever on the quite lawns. Neither the na├»ve bird, nor me, expected a four-legged terror to spring from behind a tree at such rapid speed. The cat was not looking that ferocious, but brutal it indeed was. In a matter of seconds, it was all over. The victim’s struggle to live and the terminator’s rage to kill – the drama was all there.
The one relishing food was being relished. The surrounding mynahs did protest. They created a noisy scene and tried to poke the cat, but ultimately gave up.
When we finished our tea and returned, the leftovers of the mynah’s corpse was lying on the ground. We had had our sandwich and the cat its.
Additional input from Net: Mynahs feed on ground on insects, but take small vertebrates, occasionally eggs and nestlings of other birds, fruit and grain. They are considered a pest in Australia, where noisy winter roosts of several thousand occupy city trees and buildings.
PS: Just the earlier day, my Pakistani friend Ansar Salim saved a mynah from instant death by shooing away the same cat.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

No recession in humour

A section of the audience. Hey, who is that scribbling something in right corner?
Humour Club members present a skit
(This is a news report I wrote for our newspaper today on humour, so a bit lengthy. Grin and bear it)
Scorching summer and raging recession can crush the spirits of even a strong-willed man, but what better way to handle daily stress than by chilling out and laughing to our heart’s content. That’s precisely what an august crowd of 100 was doing on a pre-August weekend at Balaji Bhavan in Karama, Dubai.
They were all members of the Emirates Humour Club (EHC). What started with a handful of curious people sharing jokes has become a talk of the town in eight months.
The members meet for non-stop laughter from 5pm to 7pm on the second Friday of every month.
“EHC also stands for ‘Eeeee, Haaaa, Corner’ where once in a month, ordinary people gather, laugh it out and become extraordinary people. This is one forum where people take humour seriously and everything else in life lightly,” say KG Guna and Suresh Krishnan, who are the brain behind the club. Both are seasoned entertainers and communicators with a penchant for humour.
The organisers declared at the outset, “No jokes related to sex, politics or religion.”
The mini hall reverberated with sounds of laughter every time a participant shared a joke with the audience.
Many people hesitate to go to the dais and share a joke. “If I say something they will laugh,” they say. “But is not the whole idea to do that?” ask the organisers.
Why is it that the crowd comprises mostly south Indians and a lone Filipina?
“Well, as the name suggests, our doors are open to one and all. But maybe the message has not yet reached strongly across all communities,” says Guna.
The participants churned out jokes in quick succession. A few samples:
* A wife tells her hubby, “Get me a job in your office.” His reply: “Why? You don’t want me to sleep in peace at office too?”
*A Grade I boy child tells mom, “I want to take tuitions.” “You are just in Grade I. Who will take your help?” asked the mom. “Some kindergarten girls are willing.”
* A newborn child tells mom: “Give your cellphone, hurry.”
Why?
“I wanna give a miss call to God. I am born perfect. Thanks.”
*After a bus accident some lost their legs and hands and were screaming. The conductor tells one of them, “There is a man there who has lost his head. Is he screaming like you?”
The organisers say that the club was started with a noble intention of offering relief to hard working residents of the UAE. The subscription is free at the moment.
Residents can simply walk to the venue and register their details. They will be intimated about all activities of the club by email and telephone. EHC’s joke of the week is also sent to members regularly by email.
The president of the club opens the proceedings with a humorous welcome address which is followed by the “general humour session.” The compere breaks the ice with the opening remarks and calls out from the list to the podium to share humour.
Joke sharing is the basic requirement for a humorist. Applied humour like mimicry, slapstick comedy and miming are also in the fray.
Besides, humorous skits are part of the activities at the EHC and with every session special skits spanning 10 to 15 minutes enthrall the audience, covering latest developments from the media and around the world.
Finding a venue proved troublesome initially. That was when Kalai Chelvan, a fun lover, allowed us to use a hall on the first floor of Balaji Bhavan. Seeing the happy faces, the managing director of a private company, AG Perumaal, agreed to sponsor future meetings, say the organisers.
“The bottom line is that EHC is committed to change the lives of many for better. After all ‘Smile is a simple curve that can make everything straight.’ Let us straighten up, smile and make a difference,” echo Guna and Suresh.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Chase, grab, chase again

(Continuation of yesterday’s post)
At the book stall was lined up a series of books on Sigmund Freud. Picked up one that analyses jokes psychologically. Wasn’t impressed, but will share one with you.
A man leaves her daughter with a friend and says “Take good care of her.” When he returns after a few months, he finds her pregnant. “I trusted you. How did this happen?” “Dunno. There was a screen between my son’s bed and this girl’s,” replied the friend. “What if the screen had been removed?” asked the guy. “Oh, I did not give it a thought,” said the stupid friend. It was also implied that the fellow who left his daughter with such an idiot was also a fool. I din't know jokes could be this serious. You psychologists!
I moved on to a book titled Happiness. It was interesting. The book rightly said Freud was the last person to be asked about how to be happy.
The author argues permanent happiness is a mirage. You chase, grab and chase again. No one can be permanently happy. In two decades the earning power of Americans grew 300 per cent. But their happiness quotient remained almost static, the book argues. It uses the words “Hedonistic treadmill.” When you receive a pay hike, you become happy. But once you settle with the new salary, the original negativity returns. Most of the lottery winners returned to their original negative mind status within a few months.
It argues how one spends his leisure time counts largely in happiness status.
An interesting quote I liked, but forgot the author: Experience is experiencing something we did not like to experience.
While discussing this book with a friend, he boasted, “I don’t need to read any book on happiness. I am always happy.”
“That’s good,” I replied. “What about your wife? Is she happy with your smoking habit?”
“Why do remind me of her and spoil my mood?” he was tense in a minute.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Never give up

Another Saturday. Tuckkk.. early morning knock. Neighbour John smiles. “Al Vidha. We are shifting to a new place. Bye.” Yesterday, the only other neighbour I know, Parag, had shifted to Dubai where rents are falling. That leaves me alone again. The Parags had been very supportive.
Zip my lip for one hour and I may be dead. Solitary confinement is the last punishment I ever expected in life. Today happened to be one such day when loneliness struck like a thunderbolt. The couple of friends I know have gone on vacation. I should never have put on the cassette player. The “500 miles away from home” song was too touching. I don’t want to tell you the truth, well, what secret with you, my dear ones. I did cry for a second.
That much enough for the negative sentiment. You know me well now. The challenge is to bring back the smile. By night when I am writing this post, I had succeeded.
How?
Simple. Remember MT, the Canadian college student I had mentioned once? Yesterday, when I went online I caught her on chat. Hey, I want a short piece for our newspaper, I told her. She said it’s 4.30am in Canada. She had just got up after going to bed late studying, but within 20 minutes I had the piece on my email. Salaam dear. Like my blog friend Deepak Acharya says, look at Mickey Rourke. I kept recollecting such hardworking people. Back on roll. Kept myself busy.
And evening I went to City Centre mall bookshop as usual to grab something nosy for you. Once in the book stall, my eyes reach for psychiatry and body, spirit, mind, motivation section. Grabbed a few lines for you. Have to keep it for the next post, lest this becomes too long. Take care. Even if you are forced to cry, never say die. No giving up. I am with you just like you are with me.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The heat is on

When it’s summer in a desert, we better grin and bear it. As my friend says it looks as if our head is emitting smoke while we walk on the roads. Already a female colleague had blood oozing through her nose. The mercury almost touches 50 on many days.
“I entered a taxi and could not bear the smell of sweat from the driver. Got down before my destination,” said a friend. It’s another matter that he himself was bathing in sweat and I could not stand near him.
My Filipina friend wanted to buy a colourful umbrella. “Which colour your boyfriend likes?” asked a co-worker. “Which boyfriend?” she asked innocently.
One is forced to take bath many times a day. “I had to take bath five times yesterday,” lamented a comrade. “Oh, you are the culprit? I was wondering how the water bill shot up so high this month and soaps keep vanishing from the rest room!” his roommate pounced on him.
I have a cap with the words “Looking Great.” A Goan friend tried to boost my morale. “Buddy, that pretty girl who has joined recently was praising you. I think she feels your cap is cute.”
“Me or the cap?” I asked.
“Obviously stupid, it’s the cap. How can she mean you?”
My God, I did not know I was talking to an enemy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Don’t bank on credit cards

Credit cards have been playing havoc with the lives of people. Several families have been ruined. It’s a surprise that banks are not being punished legally and firmly for pushing loans to those who cannot afford to repay.
No wonder, at one time the Dubai police chief called for easing of regulations as the emirate’s jails were getting filled with people guilty of issuing bouncing cheques. Can you believe this? The UAE is estimated to have Dhs20 billion as outstanding payments on credit cards.
My own brother, who earns a very moderate salary in Mumbai, ended up with so many credit cards, he is now selling off his only house to repay and move on rent. He says he took one card to repay another, and another and another…Well..
“I am up to my ears in debt,” cried another victim to me.
Many refuse to live within their means. My appeal to at least those who visit this blog (you are my near and dear ones, I swear): Plzz, never allow this materialistic monster, credit card, to trap you.
Shucks, why are we getting serious? Let’s pick up a credit card joke from the Net: A man said his credit card was stolen but he decided not to report it because the thief was spending less than his wife did.
PS: Until today, I do not have a single credit card. Do not know about the future.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Life’s short, make it sweet

Saturday yesterday and as usual I was glimpsing through some books at a mall. A question in a book was: “One of five humans suffers from depression. Does it mean it is part of human nature and not a disease?” Answer: The same number of people (or more) has cavities. Does it mean they should not get treated? I am just presenting what I read. Not my view.
Some people make others’ lives miserable. One guy I know suffered humiliation for years under a boss. But he tolerated. One day, the boss met with an accident and lost a leg. He changed dramatically. Does one need a punishment to start loving others?
An Emirates Humour Club official sent me this inspiring piece and I wanted to share with you.
Randy Pausch was 47 years old when he died from pancreatic cancer. His book, The Last Lecture, is an international best-seller and it offers many wonderful lessons about life.
Randy Pausch's "last lecture" was delivered in September 2007, at Carnegie Mellon University, where he taught computer science. The lecture began with him standing before a screen beaming down chilling CT images of tumours in his liver, under the title...The Elephant in the Room. He then said to a stunned audience, "I have about 6 months to live." He said, "I'm really in good shape, probably better shape than most of you," ... dropping to the floor to do push-ups.
He went on to say, "I'm dying and I'm having fun, and I'm going to keep having fun every day I have left." He talked about his childhood dreams and what they had taught him about life. He said, "If you live your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself...your dreams will come to you."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Honey, you are sho schweet...



I just came out of my building to see a worker burning something amid a pile of construction material. Talked to him and found out that it was actually a honeycomb he was trying to clear. After he did his job meticulously, he offered me some honey in a glass and asked me to taste it. I did. Chooo schweeet..I have kept some more honey for my blog friends. Reach Sharjah and you can have it. Okay?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ssssnake...

A casual chat over hot tea with colleagues Rasheed and Mariecar, turned scorching because of the subject — Snake.
"Do you know I have been bitten by a viper and had a near-death experience?" asked Rasheed. Meriecar and I reacted in shock.
"Tell us."
He explained:"It was a monsoon evening 10 years ago. I was walking to our village library in Kerala. It was drizzling. I had almost reached the library when it happened. A viper was injecting venom in my body. It bit the second finger of my right leg.
The pain cannot be explained in words.The sudden injection of pain turned my world upside down. I did not realise it was a snake. The immediate impulse was to pick up the aggressor and tear it apart. When I lifted my leg, I was horrified to see a viper hanging. In an instant, I picked it up and threw it away. Later my friends managed to catch it.
After half an hour, I fell unconscious. And was rushed to local hospital. I was in hospital for two weeks, four days in the ICU, with 24 anti-venom drips being administered in the first 24 hours."
At this point, Manila-born Mariecar added her input. "My mom was shellshocked one day to see my toddler sister sitting next to a cobra.In Philippines, we blind the snakes before we kill them. Snakes have this revenge steak and it's better to blind them."
I looked at her and asked: "What is crawling near our table? Hope it's not a snake."
"Whatttt?" she screamed, looking down in fear and spilling the tea before throwing a book on me for telling a lie.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

When going gets tough…

He was a young man donning branded jeans, an attractive T-shirt and an expensive-looking backpack. He wore an eye-catching goggle.
He walked along the famous Al Wahda Street of Sharjah and as he reached a place where some dustbins were lined up, he casually dug out used soft drink cans from the garbage containers, crushed them under his feet, thrust them into his backpack and moved on as casually as he walked. Obviously, he was picking them for resale.
The onlookers stared in amazement.
Well, I told you that many UAE residents are facing rough weather thanks to recession. See what the National newspaper has carried as a lead story today.
Headline: One in 10 residents have lost their jobs.
According to a poll conducted by YouGov, one in 10 people in the UAE say they have lost their jobs in six months. Almost half say their companies have trimmed workforce and a quarter say colleagues have been asked to take unpaid leave.
The hardest-hit sectors were construction and property. According to the paper, 90 per cent surveyed say they felt there was a lack of transparency in the UAE about the current financial situation, a concern felt most widely among westerners (97 per cent).
Am I sounding worried and negative? No, I am perfectly cheerful and confident of moving ahead. Only thought I should share with my friends, youuuu, the reality.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Man, take it easy

I asked a colleague to finish a task, but it was not up to the mark. Naturally irritated, I told him to rework the project. He was not happy.
“You get annoyed easily these days. But what can you do! Blame it on Andropause,” he snapped back.
Andropause? What the hell has that to do with me! I decided to dig out and found an interesting piece in The Hindu newspaper by Vijay Nagaswami.
Andropause flashes vague symptoms. Men in 40-55 age group slowly become grumpy. They experience mood swings and feelings of sadness. They may blame their jobs, partners or pressures of family life.
Their muscle mass decreases. The “middle age spread” takes over as more fat gets distributed around the central and upper portions of their body. They experience back aches.
Oooff. Wait lemme breath properly.
Some men find it tough to concentrate on work. There is an accompanying decrease in libido and sexual energy. Some diagnose themselves as going through depression. Although Andropause can be part of a midlife crisis, the latter involves much more.
Andropause, like menopause, starts insidiously. Between 40 to 55 men’s primary male hormone starts slowing down.
My God, I am not going further.
Is my colleague right?
Thank God, I came across this para. “Some sail through Andropause with enviable ease, by benefiting through yoga or other exercises.”
Hey colleague, count me out man .
Grrr, I am already sweating.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

‘Bother’-in-law

No other domestic designation raises so many eyebrows like a Mother-In-Law (MIL) does. The MIL-daughter-in-law war seems to be a universal phenomenon. Some women are exception and claim they adore their MIL, but majority say they are not really on lovable terms.
“Not mother-in law, she’s monster-in-law,” was the reaction of a Tunisian friend. My Ugandan comrade said, “Don’t remind me of that nagging MIL.” “Keep off, don’t talk about her,” was the reaction of my Filipina colleague, while an Indian colleague replied: “The cyclone is expected to arrive home next week.” A Pakistani co-worker blushed and said: “Please don’t discuss sensitive subjects.”
My boss often talks about an Australian editor who entered the newsroom and loudly asked, “Why is this room as cold as a mother-in-law’s visit?”
Come on, don’t dare drag me into this. I will get away lying, “My MIL is a superwoman.” I better take the safe route. If by chance, my wife glances at this blog, there will be a cyclone at my home.
BTW, a joke picked from the Net: The clock fell off the wall. If it was a minute sooner, it would have hit my MIL. But that stupid clock has always been slow.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bell-bottoms & rat race

Times change, fashions alter and so do attitudes.
Time: During my school days, there were no TV sets. I am not talking about the 20s, am not a fossil yet. This was the 70s. A few homes that managed to get TV sets in India would see huge crowds from their streets during broadcast of popular films or songs. And some TV owners charged money from viewers, extra for colour television.
Fashion: During the 70s, bell-bottom was a rage. The challenge was to cover your shoes completely with your pant that hung loose. I was not allowed this by my parents but my brother managed to get such pants. And he passed it on. I used to wear them, look around thinking the entire neighbourhood is looking at a star. But the lane dog will start barking and the beautiful girl, Shanti, from "Saamne vaali kidki se" (opposite window) will vanish from sight. I gave it up soon and returned to normal pants.
Attitudes: We all worked as a team a decade ago. Now, trust deficiency among colleagues is common. I know one senior journalist who works in Bangalore. He was among the best journalists in Mumbai. His new paper was recently bought by a giant group. And a young reporter was sent to lecture staff like him on ethics of journalism. Which baby does not know that journalism today is nothing but bowing to the dictates of the marketing chief? That senior journalist had quit a cushy job because he could not digest the rape of journalism by the same giant group.
Of course, the youth are intelligent and dynamic. But the rat race is ruthless.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What a pleasure, this pain!

Saturday being my off day I enjoy it thoroughly. Today no exception. Morning started off well with a spiritual song, cleaning the kitchen, then bathroom. When I wash the toilet, I remember Gandhi, how humble it makes one. Put on the computer and was thrilled to see 50th member (only friends, no “followers”) Ava has joined. My friends are your friends, and yours mine. Hence a little clap for her.. Plz plzz.. Thanks.
OK, as I said I was in good mood. My stereo set was loud. I always keep it like that. And suddenly I heard that song. It’s a Tamil song of the 70s (Madrasis, you know this song, Sivaji’s adi ennadi raakamma, translated..hey what ya Raakamma.. Plz don’t laugh at my translation every time).What a song man! Literally rocks.
First I started tapping the table, slowly my legs started moving right to left and back to front. I looked at the mirror. The image said “Go for it.” And then it started. The dance.
MJ would have given up if he had seen me dancing. It was a “tappanguthu” (Tamil) style song (What in English I dunno, rap, pop?!) I brought my right elbow to the front, my left leg moved backwards automatically, right elbow front, right leg moved back.
Again, the mirror echoed, Great going dude. (My dance-loving daughter’s voice screamed in my mind –Papa you are insulting dancers). I was determined to listen to the mirror image.
And then it happened. I lifted my right leg a little above the needed height and bummm…I fell flat..With my bum hitting the ground.
Ooof…
The pain. What a pleasure it is.

Friday, July 3, 2009

He knows better than Google

Why do some people show off? We cannot avoid them, we better learn to endure and enjoy their company.
I was walking on Al Wahda Street when a friend joined in. He started off. “This walk-in-leisure will not take you anywhere, buddy. Take exercise seriously. I get up in the morning and complete my yoga and meditation. I cannot imagine an evening without the gym. During weekends I manage cycling.”
“OK Bruce Lee,” I replied and started jogging to escape him. But he managed to chase me. Look at his famished look and you will realize my plight.
My other boasting friend was smart. He told a colleague, “I can finish off six burgers at a go.” The innocent fellow fell for the bait. They reached the canteen. The first burger got digested in no time. During the second, there was a struggle. When the third came, the guy threw in the towel. “Sorry, I lost. Thanks for the burgers.”
A friend asked me details about a Malaysian minister. I did not know so I suggested him to “Google it.” Another colleague who claimed to be an expert on Malaysian affairs wanted to help. When I insisted “Googling” was better, he got annoyed and replied: “Does Google know better than me?”
Well, over to you, Google.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Jungle king to circus clown

My colleague was not exactly in his best of humour when I greeted: “Hi lion, how you doing?”
“Why did you call me lion?” he snapped back.
“Boss, the King of Jungle is a symbol of power and courage.” I replied.
“It is a miserable beast man. Even a family dog stays in AC rooms and sleeps on sofa sets. Will your king ever have the guts to come out of the jungle and enter that sprawling mall on the opposite road? He will be captured and made to salute audiences in a circus.”
I stood stunned. He continued.
“While dogs at home are fed high quality meat, your king is busy looking for a buffalo to slap from behind and grab as grub. You call this bravery?
I struggled to control my laughter.
But the beast does have some self-respect, he said as a matter of consolation.
How?
“A man slapped a lion with a shoe and the animal died instantly.”
“My God. Was it such a powerful shot?”
“No, his false ego that he’s king of jungle and now slapped with a shoe. The animal died of shame.”