If the Ramayan were on Facebook

This post featured on BlogAdda’s Spicy Saturday Picks. Thank you Nikita, for tipping BlogAdda! πŸ™‚

When I first thought of this idea, I intended to write the Mahabharat this way. Then I thought of writing World War II, then Indian Independence struggle and finally Jaswant Singh’s political fiasco with BJP. But then the plots are SO LONG! The Ramayan has a much more manageable plot, in comparison. And hence I have before you, if the Ramayan were to have an event update like Facebook, how would it be like! It’s a lot of work, doing it with the appropriate icons and the appropriate style. I tried to do it in the original Facebook template – but it was getting really difficult, thanks to my limited knowledge in coding. I hope you like it! πŸ™‚ If you wanted to distribute this document, I would be grateful if you did it with a link to this post. Thank you!

This is an embedded PDF document, using Scribd which is a very versatile tool. You can view this document by zooming in and out, scrolling and even toggle full screen mode. Look for these icons on the top! If you are reading this through your reader or a non-native place, the embedded document may not be visible, in which case you might want to read the original post.

Edited to add – This post has become popular beyond what I could ever ever imagine. I thank every one for forwarding this around via Facebook, Twitter and emails! Thank you, and I am glad this article made you laugh, or at least smile. Krish Ashok of “Doing Jalsa and Showing Jilpa” fame did the Facebook Mahabharatha over a year ago. And that looks exactly like the Facebook format, and is outright hilarious!

Disclaimer: I have received a comment or two where people have found it a HUGE MISTAKE not to include the story of Kaikeyi and Dasarath and the two other wives. Here’s an addition from my side: I also did not include the story of Hanuman carrying Mt Gandhamadhana which had the flower Sanjivani to cure Lakshman of his coma during battle, either. I covered it all up in “Show 43 similar posts”
I decided to drop out the story behind Ram’s exile and the details of the war simply because this story is long as such, and I didn’t want my story to be longer so as to lose my reader. Referring to other comments, this is not to be taken as factually accurate, nor should it be considered to be educational. I wrote it for fun, just for generating a laugh or two. I do/did not intend to make mirth of the religious text of Ramayan. This article does not intend to portray any sort of disrespect towards religious sentiments. I hope you enjoy this article as a humorous piece, more than anything. Please read this in a light vein.

Ah, hostel food!

“Yuck… brinjal curry.”
“Dude, it’s tomato.”
“Tomato?! Why is the gravy blue?”

Most of you have had this conversation if you have stayed in a hostel. Or heard it from friends who have stayed in hostels. The best years – undergrad life – was flanked by the most atrocious food ever. Everyone has a hostel food story. It’s the only kind of story everyone will believe an outrageous exaggeration too! My hostel had the most exquisite food menu ever – we had biryani on Sundays, saambaar rice on Mondays, puri-chhole on Wednesdays, paneer dishes on Fridays, rawa dosa on Saturdays etc. Every semester started with brand new promise of the chef’s love – but soon after the first week, we could only tell these apart because we knew what was being cooked that day. Such was life. Then one day, a new caterer came. The cook showed promise – he was a beacon of light, a ray of hope, the sun through the clouds, rain on the desert sand, a bowl of soup. He brought together the best of spices, and the freshest of vegetables, the sweetest of aromas… but God only knows what he did with them, because nothing changed for us. We used to lovingly call our hostel food – grub.

Among the things that we found in our food across the years of undergraduate study – small branch in sambaar, spider in daal, unknown insect in rice, stapler pin in dosa, cockroach in baingan bharta,Β  aloo in aloo parantha and a cat. Ok, I am kidding about the last two. Some guy said that there were regular sticks instead of drumsticks in his food – but no one else was sticking to the story of the sticks. It did turn pretty sticky towards the end.

Here’s the latest from The Occasional Doodle – when doodling suddenly makes sense. πŸ™‚

Hostel food[Left click for larger size]

An autorickshaw accolade

Aaah, the autorickshaw. Lovingly called ‘auto’ across the whole of India. You will not meet even a single Indian who does not know what it is. The one solution that is cheaper than a taxi and classier than the bus. The lone vehicle that can shake your very bones – which leave indelible impressions of the vibrant contours that form Indian road surfaces. Just look at it… I mean just look at it. The unique design of Indian autorickshaws: The pinnacle of “auto-save” – if it ever overturns… it has just the right “curves” to get itself back on its wheels. Whoever designed this thing obviously had in mind that if it ever turns around on it’s side, it will roll on to the upright position. Here’s a demonstration.

The auto autosave[Left click for a larger size]

Moving on to my experiences with autos and autowaalas around the country.

Chennai remains on the top of the list because auto-related experiences are an excellent conversation opener. Weather does not work as much for a conversation opener, because in Chennai the weather is pretty much the same all round the year: hot and very hot. So, for conversing with autowaalas in Chennai, you need to know a new kind of English – a broken one. You cannot use conjuctions, conditional clauses etc. Simple sentences, for example:
120 rupees aaa? Adyar to Besantnagar I go every week. 35 rupees I will give.
In this regard, I have had hilarious experiences with Chennai autowaalas. Firstly, if you are a non-Tamizh speaking person, you will be asked double just for being there. Then a random number is generated between Rs 80 and Rs 400 depending on the location of the pickup and the way you are dressed. It does not matter where you want to be dropped off. You do not want to commit to using the meter because that might be rigged to check how many times you breathe. Finally when you settle on a price e.g. Rs 40, your friend and you get off and proceed to give him Rs 40 and he stares at you as if you stole the tyre of his auto.
Yenna saar?“, waving the two 20 rupee notes at you.
What?“, you ask, genuinely out of curiosity.
Single person, 40 rupees saar… two people, 80 rupees kudunga saar
Now dodge that. If you are a male and have taken a girl out on a date, you cannot afford to lose a heckling argument with an autowaala. There will be no brownie points for you.

Next stop, Kolkata.
Now there are no long distance autos in Kolkata – they have a short distance shared auto system, operating between points. The catch? You share it big time. In the back seat, you share it with two people clutching on to their handbags and cigarettes/beedis like there is no tomorrow. I wonder what will upset them more – losing the handbag or the beedi. I never tested that. In the front you have two full grown men sharing the driver’s seat. Along with the driver. They are clutching on to whatever will prevent them from falling off the auto. Every time the auto turns, I look to see if anyone has fallen off. If one of them does fall off, he gets into the next auto coming up. And when the “front loaders” need to get off, the driver, out of goodwill slows down so they can get off without getting hurt.

Come all the way to Baroda.
Autos are primarily used for taking children from school and back. Students of all sizes and ages are skilfully put into the auto – and the drivers are really good at it. It’s Tetris in a whole new dimension.
Uncle, peechhe aur jagah nahin hai!
Arre su baat karechhe? Chhe ne! Tu apna taang uske kandhe pe rakh… haan, tu apna haath uske pair ke neeche rakh… le, ban gayi jagah!
(What are you saying? There is the space! You keep your leg on his shoulder… yes, you stick your hand under his foot… there, I made your space!)
I have myself been in one of these for a couple of months and I shared it with 10 others. Excluding the driver.
Now if you are trailing an auto and the driver needs to take a turn, what would he do? Will he
. use the indicator?
. show by indication of hand sticking out of the auto?
. show by sticking his leg out in all glory with a blue strapped hawaii chappal dangling off his toes?
. show by sticking his leg out in all glory with a yellow strapped hawaii chappal dangling off his toes?
If you answered [a] or [b], you clearly have not visited Baroda. The answer is [c] or [d], everyone, [c] or [d]. Depending on your luck that day, you may or may not be able to see some skin.


That dreaded visit to home

Several of my friends from school and college have recently started a trend. They suddenly change their status on facebook/orkut – as engaged, or even married! Without any warning whatsoever. Not that we are devastated by the information that our buddy is getting married. No, because it is really great news. (Means we get to eat food for 3 days in return for moving some baskets of food/flowers around).

On asking them how it all happened… this is the genericΒ  conversation.

“Whoa! That’s awesome news… so how did it all happen?”
“Mom insisted.”
“Mom insisted? You mean you didn’t want to?”
“No… I am glad that I am getting married! But I was not mentally prepared to get married now.”
“Didn’t you tell her that?”
“Well, I did – but the argument quickly disintegrated into dust when she mentioned that she wanted to see grandchildren before she is old.”
“Ah, ok. So that’s why you got married…”
“Actually, no. I used the ‘I want to get settled first’ argument.”
“Oh man she saw it coming. She said I get paid well enough to sustain the entire community.”
“Yeah, apparently she has been telling people that I am the ‘CEO of email’. ”
“Ha ha ha ha!”
“But her final argument is irrefutable.”
“And what’s that?”
“She said that in her ladies club she feels awkward because she is the only non-mother-in-law”

Sometimes you just can’t win arguments with parents. Back in the days it was about a new GI-Joe toy. Of late, there has been an increasing occurence of this. Most people I know who are above the age of 25 go home to visit their parents and come back engaged. In a couple of cases, married. The general warning going around is to avoid the topic as much as possible. Feign ignorance of the concept of marriage if that’s what it takes. πŸ™‚ Such conversations are always, always hilarious. When it happens to someone else.

When it happens to you, you need to learn not to be a kid anymore. A bigger life awaits you. πŸ™‚

That irrefutable argument

My mother tongue is Indian

Many of you who have come to the US have had this problem – using Indian (s)language that means something ENTIRELY different in the US. Or pronounced words in a way that is incomprehensible by Americans. Or things that sound exotic but are something really mundane. I am listing out some that I experienced myself.My mother tongue is Indian

1. Passed out is not ‘graduated’
No, it is not. You pass out when you’ve drunk so much alcohol that no more blood reaches your brain. So when you say you passed out in 2006, people are thinking deeply. And wondering how flippantly you used the term, and they also wonder why Indians date their “passing out” in years. So this was the conversation that happened with my adviser (American):

Adviser: You could probably look up ____’s paper – he did some work on that.
Me: Oh ____ – that guy who passed out in 2003?
Adviser: (Long pause)
Me: Wasn’t ____ your student… he passed out of your group in 2003, right? Or was it 2004?
Adviser: He passed out? How did you know… one morning I did walk into the office and found him sleeping on the floor, I thought he was passed out… he just spent the night in the office… but how do you know about that…
Me: [Blink]…[Blink] I meant if he graduated in 2003, but now I know never to use PASS OUT instead of “graduate”…

2. Lettuce needs to be pronounced right

Or they just don’t get it. If you don’t pronounce it right, they stare at you like they’ve never heard anything even remotely close!

Me: Could you I have ‘lett-yus’ on my sandwich please?
Subway girl: Excuse me?
Me: ‘Lett-yus’, ‘lett-yus’ (I guessed she didn’t hear me)
Subway girl: (embarrassed laugh) Ha ha – I am sorry, I don’t get you…
Me now pointing at the lettuce
Subway girl: Oh you mean the ‘lett(i)s’!

Come on! How far is let-yus from lett(i)s?
3. There is no such thing as capsicum
It’s such a delectable vegetable and it goes by the name “green pepper” here. Why? Because people here find it spicy. So you have black pepper (same), red pepper (red chili), green pepper (capsicum), bell pepper (red or yellow capsicum). All of which make food spicy. They’ve got a point, so I don’t blame them. But still, it doesn’t feel quite right.
4. Eggplant is not an exotic vegetable
The first time we were hosting a party, a friend told me that he will make eggplant roast – and he told me to pick one up from the grocery store. Now I had heard a lot about eggplant, and the name sounds somewhat exotic – but I felt really disappointed when I realized it was only a BRINJAL. Sigh.
5. Use “figure out”, not “make out”
Another friend of mine also suffered an embarrassment because of the usage of this seemingly harmless phrase. Here’s my conversation:

Attempting to solve a tough assignment
Me: Damn… whatever the trick is, I just cannot make out!
American friend: Er… make out?
<silence for a while>
Me: I meant figure out…

6. Boot of the car, not dicky of the car.

This experience was more hilarious because my friend heard something totally different. πŸ˜‰ When I explained that the trunk of the car is also called “dicky” in India, he said it is better to use the word “boot” or “trunk” here.

Ad overdose

Top headlines lie at the bottom

Top headlines lie at the bottom

I have a bone to pick with flash ads and flash pop-ups.

First, best practices in Internet have basically blocked pop-up windows which was probably the best thing they could do at that time. But now, advertizers are resorting to using flash pop-ups which come up while you are browsing, effectively obstructing vision of the actual website! And they also show up just when you decide to click a link – and you end up clicking the damn thing and you are directed away from your intended destination.

Second, most of these flash pop-ups have that dumbfounded “roll-over” feature in them which set off when you accidentally set your mouse on them and they set off the whole saga that is their advertisement. And you cannot even undo that action because the whole thing is unfurling and making your computer go weird.

Third, some of these have sound enabled on them which scream into your speakers (that ever-irritating “Congratulations. You have been selected to win a free iPod/iPhone/Wii/space ship”). Aaaaargh.

It’s so sad that even NEWS websites are doing this. Especially some Indian NEWS websites. IBN-Live, for example, has recently (been a year or so) started showing flash pop-ups and I happened to take the above screenshot yesterday. How on earth do I unearth the news from this? How am I even supposed to read anything on the screen? More than half of my viewing screen is taken up by ads! Rajdeep Sardesai, if you are reading (fat chance), I like your channel, but your website needs psychiatric help. Too many ads. On an average, you run over 10 ads per day on your home page. I know you are trying to sell news, but this is crossing limits! I know people who have stopped visiting your website because of how many ads you keep on the screen! Take heed, and please clean up your site!

Cop drama

An Indian cop “pulls over” a foreign driver in India

Scenario: The foreign driver (FD) hits a cow on the road, oblivious to the fact that he has committed more of a blasphemy than a felony. An Indian cop (IC) decides to take this opportunity to make some money out of it.

FD: Holy cow! Damn it!
IC: (Authoritatively swinging the baton) Hey hey hey! Do you know what you just did?
FD: Well, the cow came from nowhere! It darted in right in front of the car! I had no time to brake!
IC: No no… do you know what you just did?
FD: I hit the cow?
IC: Exactly (spits). You hit a cow. Do you know what that means?
FD: <shrugs>
IC: It means you are going to prison!
FD: Prison?! Why? It’s only a cow!
IC: Only a cow? ONLY A COW? Cows are holy! They are like our mother! Would you hit your mother with a car? And you know it is holy! You said holy cow just before I came here!
FD: I am sorry! But it came in my way!
IC: Your way? Sir! In this country, cows have right of way! If cow does not move, you go around the cow.
FD: Go around the cow? That will take me to the wrong lane!
IC: This lane, that lane… how does it matter? Go around the cow! If there are two cows, you go around both of them! You may go now.
FD: Oh.. thank you! And I am really sorry…<interrupted>
IC: I was speaking to the cow.
FD: What?! Er… look, the cow is not even hurt… it’s walking away. I cannot see why I need to go to prison!
IC: Hmmm. So you don’t want to go to prison?
FD: NO!!
IC: You foreigners! Want to see the Taj Mahal but don’t mind hitting a cow with a car! Have you seen the Taj Mahal?
FD: Er… yes…
IC: Good. Now come with me and we will discuss it over a cup of tea. Just park your car there.
FD: Park there? It says NO PARKING…
IC: I told you! Park there and come along!
FD: Sir, I am really sorry for the cow… but I really need to get going! I have a meeting to attend…<interrupted>
IC: What meeting? There is no meeting! Ok fine that will be 200 rupees.
FD: 200 rupees? For what?
IC: Look, you either give me the money or you go to jail. Er… for cowslaughter.
FD: Cowslaughter!? But I didn’t kill any cow! Do you see a dead cow?
IC: How do I know?! May be you hid the body. No wait, you are a beef eater, right? May be you ate the body!
FD: (Disgruntled) Ok, 200 bucks it is!
IC: No, 400.
FD: But you just said 200!
IC: You wasted my time. I could have easily earned another 200 for that family of 6 on a two wheeler there. So, 400.
FD: Ok ok… sorry! Here you go.
IC: Thank you thank you! And welcome to India sir. Have a pleasant stay.

Disclaimer: With all due respect to Indian policemen, this article was only written in jest. Resemblance to your life or any other’s is a freaking coincidence.

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