Music and pranks

On 23rd March 2009, the commuters in Belgium’s Grand Central metro station suddenly got to hear Julie Andrews “Do Re Mi” on the announcement system. Soon it broke out into something they will remember for their lives.

A musical prank played by VTM – a 200 strong flash mob dance stunt to announce their newest reality television program “Op zoek naar Maria”. The idea was to search for an actress who would play the leading role in the The Sound of Music. See the video below to know what happen. Be prepared to be enthralled.

Earlier this year in January, T-Mobile in the UK launched an advertising campaign that had a similar flash mob dancing in London’s Liverpool Street Station. 350 dancers made the day for commuters passing through the railway station. That was an advertising campaign aired on TV later in the same month.

I am not anyone’s idea of a good dancer, but there is something about well choreographed dances that just make you feel GOOD. Real good.

On a related note, it’s not news to anyone that I absolutely love pranks. I love pranks made on public like the above few examples – not the ones that are for slapstick fun though. I am talking of those that deliver a tiny message – take a deep breath, and appreciate what’s around you. A while ago, I wrote about Prangstgrup, a group based in Columbia University that did simply amazing things – a musical in the middle of a lecture, in a library, teaching architecture to absolute strangers in the metro – 17 masterpieces since I checked!

Have you seen the one where about 200 people in the Grand Central subway, New York just froze in their steps? Or when in a book store, about 60 cellphones in bags outside the store started to ring simultaneously? Surprise a random couple who just got married in the city hall with a complete wedding reception? Visit Improv Everywhere and you will be surprised at the things they have done. 🙂

Early in 2007, the Washington Post decided to conduct an experiment. A man dressed ordinarily in jeans, t-shirt and a baseball cap took out his violin and played music on a street during the morning rush hour. He played six classical pieces in 43 minutes, and a total of 1097 people crossed him at that time. 7 people stopped what they were doing to listen to him for a minute. A total of 27 people dropped in change amounting to a total of $32 or so. The rest 1070 people were too busy to pay attention. Probably irritated with poor people who present an unbecoming look to them every morning. This nondescript fiddler was Joshua Bell, who is a child prodigy when it comes to playing the violin. People pay hundreds of dollars to see him play at concerts. A man who earns $1,000 a minute. Why does beauty such as this need to be set up for us to appreciate it? [Source]

Edited to add: Bollywood Heroes did a similar thing to promote their own show. Last week on August 4th, 2009, dozens of Bollywood dancers suddenly began to dance in the middle of Times Square, New York. Nice low budget advertising, I would say. Oh and I ABSOLUTELY ADORE the girl in the yellow dress! Via Indiequill

Admit it, you have put on weight

You are at your favorite clothes shop – the one place where you get clothes that speak the language you speak, the one place where you get clothes that personify your attitude, that highlight your personality, the one place where you get clothes that fit the one place where you get clothes that used to fit.

Whoa! 32″ waist pants used to fit! (For all you amazing ladies out there: Size zero used to fit!) How did this happen? When you came to the US, all was well! You were in the best of your health… and now you feel like a water balloon that is being tried to put into a wallet. You are obviously overcome by grief. You are probably undergoing the five stages of grief, also known as the Kübler-Ross model. Here’s how.

1. Denial
The pants don’t exist. The store doesn’t exist. This is all a dream during your secret nap time at work. Or… not. This pair of pants is a factory defect. May it is 30″ and it got a tag of 32″.

2. Anger
What the $#@%! I mean $#$@*$% come on! These pants suck. This store sucks! My #&@#$% life sucks!

3. Bargaining
God… please make these pants fit. I promise I am starting to go to the gym. TODAY. But please don’t make me check out 34″ pants!

4. Depression
Why me, God, why me! What will my friends in India say! All my life I have been taking pride in my no-gym-athletic-build! Why God, why?! Why now?

5. Acceptance
“Er… excuse me, do you have this in 34″ waist?”

Well, the whole thing happens in pretty much 30 seconds, but yes, your mind does go through all of this. Speaking of #3, where you are talking of going to gym, here’s what happens.

Work out motivation chart[Left click to zoom]

And finally, when you do look at your life in retrospect, since you came to the land of burgers and fries – this is the time line of your weight. This is probably what happened. If not all events, some have definitely occurred! Come on, admit it!

Weight Timeline[Left click to zoom]

That’s something I loved about Indian food. No matter how much I eat, I never put on weight! And one more thing was that it was so freaking hot all the time, that I would just sweat it all out! Oh how I miss Indian food!

PS: Check this video out on a Giraffe stuck in a quicksand pit – undergoing the 5 stages of grief. My favorite is the depression stage!
PPS: Just a word of advice on the general idea of weight maintenance – please keep a positive body image. You don’t want this to happen.

Harmless Office Pranks – Part 2

Ok, so here is the second installment of office pranks (see first one here), except that these are not computer based. I have done a couple of these, and like I have mentioned in my previous post, make sure your target is a sport! You do not want to (a) get caught, (b) get fired. Most of these can be done, or rather should be done, when there is no one around – like after hours or so. In some cases, get a teammate – more the creativity, the better it is! So here’s my list of (almost) harmless office pranks – that are not computer related.

1. Photocopier needs to be fixed
Most of you office goers have access to a photocopier. That means you also know how and where the paper is loaded! Now, keep an object like a key or a pen on the glass, and make 50 copies of the same. You will have 50 pages that have a key/pen marked on the glass. Replace these 50 papers in the copier tray. Whenever people make copies the next day, there is going to be a black key/pen on the paper and they will think there is a key/pen in the copier. Tech support is going to be puzzled for a while.
Extremely funny/risky variation: Keep an annoying person’s narcissistic photo instead of the key/pen and make 50 or more copies. Everyone’s photocopied paper is going to have that photo as the background of their document!

2. The small time altruist
This one is a tip from Ankur, and it totally cracked me up. For every single day of the year (365 days), keep a penny (or a 5 paisa coin) on the desk of your target. Every single day. Unmistakeably. He will come in every day at work and find this coin and will not know where it came from. Initially he will be amused, then perplexed, and towards the month end he will be frustrated like crazy. Don’t worry, the fun continues for 11 more months! It costs you $3.65 or Rs 19 the whole year. Totally worth it.

3. Label everything. EVERYTHING.
If you have a label maker, then great. If not, gather around a troop and label everything on your target’s desk. Pens, paper, monitor, button, book, chair, arm rest, dirt, mouse, mouse pad, mug, glass, photos… everything! It’s fairly amusing. If possible, keep doing it every week. Pranks keep getting funnier if no one knows who’s behind all of it!

4. Wrap it all up!
This is fairly time consuming, but if pulled off, it is HILARIOUS. I did this with newspaper – but it is much much  better if you can do it with aluminum foil or saran wrap. Wrap everything in sight… and definitely don’t forget the chair. Monitor, mouse, wires, phone, stationery, books even the table itself. Make sure you are there to see the look on your target’s face!

5. The lewd mug
This is a definite favorite of mine. Very harmless but can cause a laugh riot. Your target should be someone who really loves his mug for drinking coffee or water. Even better if your target is somewhat obsessed with the mug. You will need a somewhat revealing photo of a scantily clad model. In the absence of your target, take the mug, and draw out a circle the size of the base of the mug on the photo. Pick a region that is most sexy – like the shoulders to the thighs. Cut out that part, and paste it to the bottom of the mug. Whenever your target drinks out of the mug, the other person clearly sees the racy picture stuck to the mug. Funnier if the boss is around, or in a conference meeting!

6. Vaseline on the toilet seat
Copious amounts of Vaseline. Oh it becomes so slippery and stays invisible… enough said.

7. Crime scene
Get police crime scene tape (toy stores typically have it). On the floor, draw the outline of a dead man with chalk, or colored tape, whatever permits. Cordon off the entrance with the tape. Not hilarious, but definitely fun!

8. Watery
Get a team with you on this one. Purchase about 200 paper cups and arrange them densely on the floor of your target’s cubicle. Fill water in all of them, one by one. Make sure you don’t fill upto the rim – it will spill when moved. The only way your target can get through to his chair is by drinking all of it! Want to make it even more fun? Staple all the cups together! It is important that it should be paper when you are stapling them together – plastic or styrofoam will not survive staples!

9. Kidnap, but don’t ask for ransom
‘Kidnap’ a precious item of your target. Take multiple photos of it in different forms of torture. At different times, drop one photo in his cubicle – never ask for a ransom. If he never tries to retrieve it, do the same with another object and continue! Pick an object of extreme importance to him… a soft toy from a girlfriend is ideal!

Remember: Always always keep a straight face. Try to solve the mystery with the target. You must be the last person he suspects!

How old do you want to be?

It’s funny how you spend all childhood wanting to grow up, and once you grow up, you want to live your childhood all over again. Except may be teen years, when you think you are all grown up and you pretty much hate everything.

Flashforward and flashback

Love spicy food, eh?

This post featured on’s Tangy Tuesday Picks! Thank you BlogAdda!

Tangy Tuesday Picks

This post is dedicated to all those people who, in order to impress the gentler sex, will overload their dish with “extra hot” for their order in a restaurant. What follows is extremely funny, if seen with the right eye. Also, don’t rub your eyes after touching spicy food. It’s worse when you are wearing contact lenses. Take it from someone who has done it. No, really. I have.

So the next time you go out with friends out for dinner, and someone in your group has been raving as to how much spicy food he can take, observe him really closely, more so if there are girls in your group. At first, he is going to declare at the table, within audible range of his object of interest how much he loves spicy food. He will then choose the spiciest dish from the menu (the one with two chillies drawn right next to it). He will further make sure that the girl has heard him. He will then tell the waiter that he wants that dish, but he wants it extra-extra-spicy.

The food arrives, and our hero dives into his red colored dish. He takes the first spoonful into his mouth to demonstrate how much he loves it. Thereafter it’s all regret.

He will blink ever so quickly at the sheer shock of TOO MANY CHILLIES. He will first nod his head and smack his lips to say how amazing it is in taste. In his head, he is telling himself that he could have gone for just spicy and not ‘extra extra’ at all. His vision is blurry and tears well up in his eyes. Whilst fighting back the tears, there is a volcano erupting in his mouth and is probably reaching into his ears. Hell hath no fury like a tongue incinerated. He makes a mental note that he is never going to eat that dish ‘extra extra spicy’ again. Ever. Oh and there are these tell-tale signs of his suffering. First, he will talk a lot less until the fire is out. Then, at one point, roughly 33% into his food, he is going to comment that the food is really hot. And is going let out a chuckle abashedly. Third, he is going to eat more rice than normal to douse all that fire on his tongue. And fourth, there is a high chance he is not going to finish his food. Fifth, he may suggest dessert.

Meanwhile, our hero doesn’t realize that all this self inflicted arson is futile because the girl he wants to impress is unimpressed by his gastrointestinal prowess. Trust me guys, IT NEVER WORKS. So don’t even try it. How well you can withstand-the-assault-of-spicy-food-without-getting-mind-numbing-gas is fairly low on the ‘boyfriend eligibility’ list. Women don’t want all that! I will tell you what women want. Meanwhile, our hero’s love interest is actually completely enamored by this other guy in the group and our hero doesn’t know it. Ah, never mind. It opens up a whole new chapter in love.

So you think you love spicy food?
[Click to magnify]

PS: I really think waiters/cooks have a major play in this. They throw in another ‘extra’ in ‘extra extra spicy’ and sit back and watch the fireworks/waterworks.

Running away

ForestsMany a time in the past year I have thought of running away. To the rain forests of the Nile or the Amazon. To forests where there are no luxuries, no money issues, no artificial medicines, no materialistic pleasures – just live life to live, not exist. I want to take nothing with me – no electronics, no special clothes, no mechanical devices – absolutely nothing. I want to tell stories, tell tales that will become legendary, meet legends, follow the roots of myths… I want to live life the way early man used to. My daily challenge should be to get through the day alive – to catch prey and not get caught as prey – but not waking up at 7:00 AM so as to catch the 8:00 AM bus.

But then I like to eat. May be I will carry a frying pan and oil with me. And spices. And aluminum foil to store the food. A shelf to store the aluminum foil. Uhmm, may be a house of wood to keep the shelf in. A box of tools to go by. And a sharpening kit. Cannot afford them to rust, so I should probably get a nice tin roof to keep the water away from my home.  I need to keep animals away too, and fire may not be sufficient always. I probably need flash lights to look for stuff in the dark. But I cannot have a lifetime’s supply of batteries – I will need a charger – an electrical source. May be it is a wise idea to get a generator too. I need to get gas/diesel for the generator – so I need to be near a city so it is easy for me to get it. Oh and what if I fall ill? I will need medication too – I may not know what herbs are safe and non-poisonous – and also which ones have healing powers. Again, I will need medicinal supplies whenever the current stock expires. It will be useful to have conveyance to make frequent trips – may be a small vehicle. Actually I will probably not make frequent trips – so it will be good if I can bring lots of things at once – so a bigger car – may be a pickup truck will help. And I will need money to buy a-


Damn. I am back where I am now.

Photograph © Kokonad Sinha

As I grew up…

… I have wanted to be several people (or have jobs) at different points in my life (in rough chronological order) –

My brother, because he went to school that lasted a full day instead of mine, which was only a half day.
A train engine driver, because I loved traveling by train and I thought it was the best job ever.
A teacher, so I could keep assigning homework and grade assignments with a red pen.
A car manufacturer, because he didn’t have to study and take exams.
My dad, because he knew everything and also had money.
A ship captain, because water fascinated me.
A film hero, because everyone was happy with him at the end of things.
A pet, preferably a dog, because they are amazing animals and everyone loved/feared them.
A person who sets question papers during tests and exams.
A doctor, because I loved the cleanliness and silence in their offices.
A pilot. Who hasn’t wanted to be one?
A bakery owner, because I loved baked cookies.
A grade 6 student, because it was at a different school and I thought was a whole different level of maturity.
A sprint runner, because in those days, I used to run pretty fast.
The president.
A singer, because every likes a singer at a party (I cannot sing to save my life)
An economist, because for some reason, it was hip to know stuff like that when I was 15.
A computer scientist, because I was realizing what a geek I was.
An advertisement designer, because I thought it would be a cool job.
An engineer. I don’t know why.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Feel free to take this up as a tag. 🙂
Long ago in 2006, I had written this post – Blink – out of boredom. You can take it up as a tag too. It will be better if you read my post after you do the tag – time yourself for 5 minutes, and write a list of whatever object/phenomena comes to your mind. Be crisp. You will be surprised to know what all you can come up with!

PS: I have been away and really busy – and I am yet to catch up with so many wonderfully written blogs (over 100 unread items in my Google Reader). I am grateful to those who have expressed that they have missed activity on my blog! Thank you so much – it feels great to be missed. In other news, an old sports injury has aggravated severely and rendered me almost immobile and somewhat high because of all the pain killers. Also I met my nephew Jishnu over the weekend and loved all of it immensely. He turned three recently, and loves laughing while looking at the camera!

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