I am making a brief comeback. Much as I love blogging and writing, my work has taken over my life right now, and I am barely even getting ideas to blog about. Here’s a small one. A PJ, if you will.
Given the current issues with the oil spill and global warming, I thought we Bengalis should make hay while the sun shines. British Petroleum, here’s a business proposition for you – start your sea food restaurant chain.
You don’t even have to do much. Mother earth is cooking it up for you.
“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, 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.
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.
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
[a]. use the indicator?
[b]. show by indication of hand sticking out of the auto?
[c]. show by sticking his leg out in all glory with a blue strapped hawaii chappal dangling off his toes?
[d]. 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.
One way crushes are probably the most agonizing of things ever experienced by man (and woman). Literally everything that happens to you that is remotely connected to her/him, it is blown out of proportion in your head heart. The number of hours you have wasted on this pointless imaginary romance – which finally actually got nowhere – you wish you somehow get those lost school years back. OK, college years too. OK may be some of your work years as well.
In this piece continuing my series of The Occasional Doodle, I am effectively writing down something almost every guy goes through at least ONCE. [Left click for a larger size]
After my 2020 based news article earlier this month, and with everyone chipping in for Earth Day 2009 – I thought I should make a contribution too – to inspire people on earth day! The earth needs to be saved, people! Do your bit everyday. Here’s a movie idea – THAW.
Movie name based on “Saw”
“Saw” based font borrowed from JackassRules on Deviant Art.
What if the gadgets we use on a day-to-day basis become self aware? Would they realize that we have been objectifying these objects all our life? For example, you stare at computer screens like they are super hot women (or men, for that matter). Very often, your mouth stays open while you are staring… and you don’t blink…
This is my second post on “The Occasional Doodle“. I draw these in a notebook and scan them later. In the process I digitally remove smudges and errors in writing. And provide the copyright too. Left-click these for a larger size.
Then I came up with the touchscreen phones idea while I was drawing the one for the computer. I hope you like both of them!