Monday, March 30, 2009

Deep pockets, short arms

I never thought using some idioms may land me in an embarrassment.
“Why do you stay alone? Share your room with somebody and save rent,” suggested a friend.
“Hobson’s choice,” I replied.
“Oh, you are sharing room with some Hobson. Then why do your grumble about high rent?” he asked innocently.
“Forget it. Order tea,” I told him.
“It is on you,” he retorted.
“You have deep pockets but short arms,” I replied.
“My arms are not short. Look here,” he stretched out his hand.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Roadside drama

This Keralite roadside shopkeeper at Al Wahda Street of Sharjah is a talkative, enterprising guy.
“So how is family?” he asked while I was passing by.
“Good, thanks,” I replied.
“So when are you getting married?”
Hmmm. Before I could recover from the shock, I saw another man standing close by. Oh, he was addressing him!
“Say Hi to Babhi,” he told me. (Hindi word for sister-in-law)
“I am not married, just engaged,” replied the other man this time.
“Forty dirhams. For you 30,” the shopkeeper hastily informed a customer looking at a cute handbag.
“Haan. What I was telling. That loan you promised to help,” he addressed us again.
“But I did not,” I replied.
“Not you, the other friend,” he frowned at me this time.
Watching the drama, the customer tried to escape.
“Talk to both of you later.” He abruptly went back to his customer.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Short fuse

I try my best to control anger, but most times it controls me. Tomorrow (Friday) happens to be the day I was born (don’t remember, think 20 years ago!) and so thought would pick up a new jeans from the City Centre, Sharjah.
A friend offered to drop me by taxi while going to his office. The taxi driver rudely asked me to get down, saying he would not stop the vehicle on the way. He cited some rule that sharing is not allowed. In seconds, I blew a fuse and after a heated argument I was forced to get down and walk. Shucks, I could have down that without allowing my BP to shoot up. Lesson learnt – to be forgotten instantly as usual.
Two days ago, I advised a close friend that she should have diplomacy in dealing with things. “No point in shouting at your colleagues,” I told her. “Stop advising,” she reacted. “You are a dear buddy. That’s why,” I tried to cajole her. At the end of the conversation, she was cool and I was furious.
There are people whose only mission in life seems to infuriate others. A junior regularly came to office late. After several warnings, I told my senior to advise him. And he did.
“If you do not report at 2pm tomorrow, you are sacked,” screamed my senior at the guy. The chap glanced at me with a “handle you later” look and moved out.
Next day, he entered the office at 4pm, smiled and flashed a “good evening” to the senior. He then looked at me like a wily cat holding a helpless mouse. Well, such is life.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where two is crowd

Loneliness. It’s a subject most people will never understand.
A close friend of mine is single and is based in Bangalore. “My mom has passed away and the only companions I have are two sweet parrots,” he told me.
“My dog companion was everything to me. Now that she is no more, I find myself all alone,” cried a pretty Arab woman who is my dear friend in Sharjah.
I rate AA among the rare people who have only goodness in their heart and know not the meaning of hatred. The word “anger” simply does not exist in his dictionary. And this Parsi pal has preferred to keep himself aloof from the hustle-bustle of Mumbai and moved to a Pune suburb. That the area offers very few amenities does not bother him. All he wants is to be left alone. But deep in his heart, he wants company too.
The list can go on. When I asked a couple of friends, they came out with the usual suggestions for lonely souls: Enjoy your own company, solitude is a blessing, join some class, find a girlfriend/boyfriend, read books, learn music, meditate, blah blah blah.
One even threatened in a shrill voice: “Loneliness can lead to clinical depression.”
Personally, even when I take a walk for 10 minutes on the road, I would have said Hi to 10 people. I swear. That’s my nature. I have a job, do exercises, have a small circle of friends, have great blog buddies and if a person like me can at times feel lonely, I understand what my dear friends mentioned above go through.
The solution?
Now you asked a million dollar question. You better answer that yourself. Am waiting to hear your point of view.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Virtual realities of life

“Internet is addictive and not always good. Better be careful,” advised my close friend.
“Ya, it is. A knife can be used for cutting vegetables or causing injuries. I will try to use it to cut veggies. Anyway, thanks for the advice,” I replied.
“A pal of mine had so many friends through the Net. This Indian guy went to Thailand and married his girl friend. He had a tough time.”
“Oh I see.”
“Did you hear about a girl from Pakistan who fell in love with an Indian guy and got married without her parents’ consent. She was rich, but in the new house there was not even a proper toilet?”
“But why do you tell me such stories. Am happily married,” I replied.
“There’s plenty of scope for deception. Sometimes guys may even masquerade as pretty women,” she scared me.
“You are right. Don’t you use the Internet at all?” I asked.
“ I do. But if you had been ditched by a Net friend, you would have also been talking like me.”
"Good and ugly people are there in real as well as virtual world. Lemme pray I interact with the good-hearted ones. So far so good," I packed up.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dance mantra

A certain company in Dubai is asking employees to “dance” their recession blues away.
“Dance is the best way to beat stress,” argued ESA, a close friend.
I floated the idea to my colleagues.
“I am drowning in a sea of distress. My hubby’s pay has been cut and allowances slashed. I know some steps in Bharatnatyam. Will it work? asked a colleague.
“Try it out,” I suggested.
“Old man, would you like to join the dance? It takes two to tango,” asked another.
“Look at yourself in the mirror,” I answered the 40-plus woman. Hey, don’t stare at me like that. I react that way whenever some snob calls me “Old Man.”
One suggested we all go for a ballet session. The list kept expanding.
Jazz, Hip-hop, novelty, lap dancing…
“We are in Middle East. How about belly dancing?” asked one.
“I know none of these,” complained another.
“Do not lie. You know at least one dance that works wonders for you,” I replied.
“Dancing to your wife’s tune.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

‘Loo’ and behold

Republic Day in India (Jan.26) meant picnic time for most of us in Mumbai as the newspapers are closed for a day. We had gone to a forest area in the suburb of Mumbai. We set up a camp and got set to prepare our own food. There were no toilet facilities. My close friend RK told her another friend SD, “Hey, I think we have to settle for the open toilet (field).”
I jokingly said: “I saw a man standing there with binoculars.”
I still laugh at how RK avoided answering nature’s call almost that entire day.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The mischievous friend

“There are more chickens than people in the world,” muttered my friend.
“So?” I asked.
“You should now consider turning non-vegetarian.”
“Very often I am the odd man out at parties here when my friends gleefully gulp meat, chicken, shrimps and all kinds of Arabic non-veg food like ‘Harees.’ It’s a personal choice. I have absolutely no objection,” I replied.
“The problem is you don’t booze, no smoking, what kind of a dreary life is yours?”
“Again, individual choice,” I replied.
He was adamant. “But I think you should taste non-veg food. Anyway, how did you like the ‘cutlet’ you just had?”
“Yummy,” I replied.
“Well, it is chicken cutlet.”
He vanished before I could throw the plate on him.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A fun film

When I get bored, I turn to movies. And Wild Hogs turns out to be the best bet for people who look for humour. It is about four different professionals, including an IT man and a dentist, who take off a break from the rat race and hit the open road on a freewheeling motorcycle trip. They encounter a New Mexico gang called the Del Fuegos. Hilarious movie boss.
There’s particular scene where a village policeman suggests that the four go and slap a bull on its back. “That’s the way to know we do not live our lives in fear.”
When the first guy slaps the bull on its buttocks, it just ignores him.
Then the dialogue goes like this:
Dooble: Yeah, and we never seen it done twice in a row.
Stevens: What? Dooble: It'll be interesting to see how the bull takes being slapped now that he's alert.
Stevens, Dooble: Alert?
(You can visualize the fun)
Another dialogue I like:
Doug: Woody, sorry I said you had ego issues.
Woody: Sorry I said you were a pussy.
Doug: You didn't call me a pussy.
Stevens: Well, not to your face, but that's what I was thinking.
The cast includes John Travolta and Allen Wild.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Youthful stunts

I had never seen the inside of an airplane that time and yearned for a chance. The opportunity came when a leading IT company sponsored a trip for journalists from Mumbai to Delhi. I entered the plane for the first time giving weird looks. When I was told about a corner seat, I jumped in joy. Wow, I can see the take-off. Everything went well until more journalists started joining one by one. Why should that pretty one come last? Idiotic.
“Hi, I am – from Mid-Day,” she introduced herself.
I was surprised. What a nice girl! Introducing herself to me. I reciprocated.
And then followed the thunderbolt. “Will you mind if I sit there?”
“ hassle..Please yourself. I keep traveling so often…”
The blunder, the lies…What a shame.
If only the drama is enacted again, roles may change. I will just tell her, “I have a phobia maam, asked specially for this seat.”
When you decide to lie, sky's the limit!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Random thoughts

* I was reading an article about saint Ramana Maharishi. One wonderful observation. When you enter a train with your luggage, why do you have to carry the luggage on your head. Just drop it in the train. It will carry. Analogy: If you believe in God or any superpower, just leave your baggage of worries with Him.
* A close friend, Anil Kumar, had a bizarre doubt one day. Do men cry? he asked. “I do,” I replied spontaneously. He then proceeded to ask around a dozen people seated in the canteen. Everyone nodded their heads affirmatively. “Strangely there were no tears in my eyes even when my dad passed away,” he said. Strange indeed. Should confess, during the past year, when I am sort of in “solitary confinement” here, I have had tears rolling down more often than all my earlier years.
* November to March in Sharjah are months that are comparatively pleasant. Generally, more joggers dot the corniche area where there is a wonderful joggers zone. This season I have noticed that the number of joggers has reduced considerably. Why? Dunno. Do you know?
* A phone call from Chennai was enough to upset me. With recession, negativity is in air all through Dubai and hence I could not share my thoughts with anyone. Then came a surprise. Famous blogger Nitu Pandey came online and off we went on a long chatter mode. The dentist proved to be a great counselor. When I shut the computer down, I was smiling.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Secret behind silence

"Never trust a quiet guy or girl,” cautioned a close friend.
Ooff, there are so many of them around me. Thank God, at least my wife has taken a cue and doesn’t stop talking after she read a post about her. That my phone bill (Dr Nitu, pl stop laughing) shot up my BP is another matter.
Anyway, at the risk of repetition, I want to share an experience. I was traveling to Goa from Mumbai with a TOI photographer and another journalist, who is now settled in Kolkata.
Boss, if you are a nature lover, you should travel on this route. The lush greenery will drive you crazy romantic until you end up getting a slap from a girl (Women do not have this problem. A smile from them and men would pull their collar up and flash a Shah Rukh look). Just kidding.
Within minutes of boarding the Konkan Railway train, we had made friends with almost everyone in the compartment, except this grouchy one sitting opposite me, reading a book seriously. Try as I may to rope him into a conversation, I failed miserably. I took it as a personal challenge.
“Have you been to Goa before?” I started.
Six questions followed, with “hmmm” as the reply.
And at last, he spoke out.
“Friend, I am sorry. I am not in the right mood. I am going to attend a funeral.”
I was flabbergasted. When we parted, I hugged him and apologised. A decade later, I still remember this guy.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Another tiny joke

Heard a joke while watching the film Shoot ‘em up.. which goes like this:
Why is a mobile phone better than a wife?
“Because we can put a mobile on ‘silence’ mode”
I laughed more because in my house it’s the other way round.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Nightmare in Nigeria

Nigeria has to do something drastic to curb the crime rate. Sharing with you a harrowing experience faced by my friend Sudha and her hubby Ram as told by her:
I left Amsterdam on Feb.1 and reached Lagos at 8.30pm. Ram had come to pick me up to Ota. At 10.30pm, we were blocked by a car...we were attacked by six robbers who had guns.
They snatched my hand bag and pushed me off the car.
Ram and driver Moses were kidnapped at gun point. They were speeded away. I was in the middle of a creepy lane in Nigeria....Dalemo.
It was a dark lane. I walked in a hysterical state and saw a Nigerian boy. I cried and asked him if he had a mobile. The place was desolate and village houses and shops shut a Sunday nite.The boy was helpless, another came. They stood by me.I saw one car whizzing by, it had all Nigerians. Then another car came by. I saw some young men and women holding babies in arms. I stopped them and pleaded for help.
The man gave me his phone. Fortunately I had Ram's colleague's number by heart. Called him. Lakshminarayan asked me where I was. I explained.
The car guys took me to a nearby hotel. I ran to the security staff and explained. Soon Lakshmi called again.
The robbers had taken Ram and driver. While stealing their purses, gold rings, laptop they asked our driver if he knew how to handle a gun. He said no. They dint believe. Moses took out the Bible and put his hand on it and swore on it.
Ram asked the robbers..Where is my wife? They replied, “Do you want us to shoot you. Run.”
Ram and Moses held onto each other's hands and ran for five kms.....then they took an okhada...which is a motor the autorickshaw in India and came back to Dalemo, where I was dropped off, searching for me.
Anyway, he later found out and returned to where I was. We lost all my suitcases, hand luggage with my laptop and all the data that had my one year's work on the book that I am working on. I lost my passport and my Schengan visa stamped for one year.
I am disoriented and confused and scared still.....

Monday, March 2, 2009

Darling feather friends

I was woken up by a chirping sparrow. A pleasant way to begin the day indeed. And then I smiled. Why? I remembered a friend who worked with me just for three months and moved on to Brunei to work in a newspaper there. Lakhsmi Narayan used to say sparrows are multiplying in Sharjah by the day. We had named him “Sparrow” as he kept talking about them.
Sparrows are interesting birds. I have read that although not a water bird, the sparrow can swim if it needs to, such as to escape a predator. Also, the sparrow is a frequent dust bather. It throws soil and dust over its body feathers, just as if it were bathing with water.
Their worst enemy? The pesticide. At a village in Bangladesh, thousands of sparrows died eating dead insects in vegetable fields sprayed with a hazardous pesticide.
House sparrows breed all year round and the survival rate of chicks is about 20 per cent. Many bird chicks fall out of their nests trying to take off. "If all the sparrows in Dubai had chicks that survived we would be overrun with the birds," Dubai Zoo Director Dr Reza Khan had told a prominent newspaper recently.
During my school days, many sparrows used to get knocked down by the ceiling fan (You remember those old huge fans limping around slowly like an elderly woman chasing a roguish grandson? These fans made more screeching noise than offer breeze. In fact, we could not get sleep without that fan sound.)
Tiny packs, mighty cheer. That sums it up about my darling feather friends.