23 November 2008

chicken fucking pox

Following last month’s flu, Vietnam gifted me with chicken pox this time. I’ve been in a little room in a little hospital in this little town called Buon Muot Thot for 8 days. The nurses are pretty and don’t speak English. I get good food delivered through a kind friend everyday. All day I eat, sleep, drink coconut water, watch movies, follow basketball, read some shit and sleep some more. It’s slightly worse than the hostel in Indore in that I’m sober all the time. The day seems endless.

When I tell them that I’ve had chicken pox as a little kid, they insist that I have a poor memory of some other disease. Thankfully the pox was mild, and I’m good now. But my friend refuses to believe that I can be good so soon. Since I have no home yet in my little town, I’m sitting here like an unwanted dirty (10 days unwashed) bag nobody wants to touch.

I remember the last time the chicken fucked me. I was pampered with attention and care. They ran neem leaves gently over my itching body, somebody fed me and there was someone to talk to all the time… thank you for everything! My friend tells me that I should forget that good life and I nod unwillingly. Now I have human interaction for 30 minutes a day, mostly involving Vietnamese that I don’t grasp. Being alone sucks sometimes, but it’s selfish to think of home when hungry and sick… I try not to.

20 October 2008

singapore


i'm in singapore for a few days. I see tall brightly lit and excessively cooled buildings, neat, organised greenery, more rules than you can remember, clockwork and boredom... its safe and free of asian faults, a cab driver tells me... but vietnam and india with all the faults looks more human, more lively. the indian part of this city is the most impolite, crowded and messy... i see a serpentine queue outside the western union money transfer shop... india must be thrilled about all the dollars being sent home. on the streets i see indian workers stacked on little pick-up truck-carts, sipping on the clean wind on their face, gazing at a cross between madras and the west. its a good example of the greater good over individual freedom. if i were an indian girl, i probably wouldn't be saying all this. safety is something men value less, even take for granted. vietnam is exceptional because it has both chaos and safety. most of mankind's indulgences are free and everywhere in vietnam... there is more sex and alcohol and everything else on the streets than the men could want. frustration and desperation are killed when the fruits are not forbidden. its a good case for a liberal society.

in singapore, i have a friend - like-minded, speaking the same language, with similar reference points... familiarity feels strange after a break.

I miss my little town – pleiku. I miss the look in their eyes when I speak in Vietnamese. I’m truly learning something for the first time since high school. Something to wake up to.

27 September 2008

Joy






This blog began a few years back with an intro to Joy. Joy the photographer now covers the party scene for his new-age newspaper. He roams around the streets of Madras, looking for any life at night which can be fit into captions like “DJ Sunny and two pretty faces”. I've always wondered if the pretty faces were happy or pissed to be called thus. He used to ride a ‘readied’ Yamaha RX100, with a quick throttle and no head lamp. Joy can write a book titled Priorities and make a lot of money. But he’s the closest any postgrad has come to illiteracy. Books are Joy’s preferred sleeping pills.

When Joy was a kid, he had a teacher come home to drill hindi through his resistant skull. Joy and his brothers had enough love to dig a trap-pit meant for baby elephants outside their home and wait for the teacher. Much to their disappointment, the teacher didn't turn up that day. Before we admire how fate saved the teacher, Joy heard news that the Hindi teacher, just before she left to drill Joy's head, slipped and fell in her bathroom and died.

Joy has been to Thailand once last year, for 4 days, after tricking the clicking community in madras into one of Joy's patented deals, where the other person gets screwed and feels thrilled about it. When gopal and gang planned a trip to Singapore and Cambodia, they put in a couple of days at Thailand. Joy would have none of it. He stubbornly refuses to believe that there exists anything left unseen in that country. He feels that he's seen every foot of Bangkok and Pataya. So he plans to visit me in Vietnam and sells it like it’s made of love.

In Saigon, he doesn't want to waste time... brushing aside night life as what he covers for the next morning's bread and butter. He wants to go to a conflict zone - or create one if none exists nearby - preferably ethnic in nature, where you can get one mongoloid and one of something else in the same frame. He also makes me feel bad, like it’s my mistake that he's coming here on the first three days of a working week. Like I made the week start on Monday. Besides his Pulitzer-driven interest in ethnic conflicts, he also wants to meet tribal people, see the countryside and study rural life in all of 3 days.

Joy eventually decided not to drop by! Presently he’s in Singapore (for the first and last time), admiring the internet speed at home, while the other boys are out for the night.

25 September 2008

taxi

i think, on an average, indians believe that if somebody is paid lesser than them, then their time becomes automatically less valuable. in singapore, chintu called a taxi early in the morning and like india, expected him to fall asleep and wait. perhaps he called him a little early (just to be safe, like in India), but the taxi driver kept calling every 2 minutes from below, and chintu was getting agitated, at his lack of respect and impatience. not once did it occur to chintu that maybe it's a professional transaction, like any other. it's eye-opening to see what it is like to be reminded every day that your time is worth lesser than mine.

while we're on taxis, sometimes i call one of the vietnamese taxi companies to send one home.

"can you give me your address?"

"188 Bee-Dee 7... B for Boy, D for Doctor"

"B for baby?"

21 September 2008

selling game

17 Sep 2008

tomorrow, i shall play a selling game. for a change, i won't be selling myself, but a thought. how i sell will affect the next two years.

there are so many arguments floating in front of my eyes. also floating are thin narrow-eyed women with lovely hair and black women from the movies.

22 August 2008

It's a fucked up world

The Olympics appears on a few poorly programmed Vietnamese channels. They're the kind who might play golf over the 100m finals.

I try to watch Usain Bolt's Beijing miracle online, but NBC thinks it's grossly unfair; they remove the videos off youtube, and when I check their site, the videos are only for American viewers.

I think we're sophisticated whores, selling everything to fuck-all NBC. I think everyone should get to see the Olympics free of cost.

NBC also schedules the miss universe evening gown contest at 8 in the morning here in Vietnam, so that fat american asses can be warmed in the wide couches, and get fatter on junk food while people elsewhere wake up at 530!

Next time someone in America complains about losing jobs to India, we should remind them.

I visited the War Museum in Saigon. It's difficult to imagine that America has any respect left in the world. They're so fucked up in the head that I think the world should fear them more than the terrorists or the bubonic plague.

14 August 2008

Ticket To Ride

Due to a dip in inspiration, my apologies for recycling the old... October 2007, Madras

I’ve been on these roads before. Done this route many times, but that was many years back. The lights are whizzing past like a blur. I feel that the other bikes are conspiring to fuck me. I slip in and out of the dream. I think of how there could be a God inside me who’s controlling everything. I’m the guy on his computer screen, being ordered around by nothing more than the handle of a joy-stick. The music from the twin violins is reaching a crescendo in my head (not in the song being played). I think of something and go into a dream. Since I’m not paying any attention to the road, my body and consequently the bike are put on auto-pilot mode. I simply follow the guys ahead and ride with an absence of awareness. Suddenly I get back to my senses and I look ahead at all the lights, which appear brighter, probably because I’d just woken up. I can’t recognise the roads. It’s been many years, remember? Did I tell you that I’m good with the bike? If I were any less, all the luck and God can’t save me now. Not that I’m brushing aside luck and God. I find myself begging to the God inside me to stop fucking around and show me the way. Then I remembered that beggars can’t be choosers and that I can’t ask God to do shit. Maybe I could request. If he likes having a little fun at my expense, I can’t do shit about it. Then I remembered how at all these times of vulnerability, when my soft tender flesh was waiting to get salted, somehow, something inside me has risen up to save me. How did I remember the route back otherwise?

Suddenly I remember the road where I am, and I tell myself that it’s been awfully long since I left Katan’s place and I’ve reached nowhere. All the dreaming made me feel like it’s been a couple of years on the bike. I thanked God for helping me recognise the road that I’m in. Then I think of God. I feel some dormant power which records all things important in my life – like this road, which is helping me survive right now. It resides inside me and takes control when I give up on everything, when I concede defeat, when I believe that things around me are out of my control, when things seemed to be conspiring in ways I can’t understand.

The Mount Road is long. I look all the bright lights and traffic from the flyover and think of the booming economy, all the wealth being created and cornered, and how happiness is poorly correlated to all of these. Ten years back, people would’ve been thrilled to know that things would turn out this way. To know that the lights would be so bright and so many. To know that tamilmatrimony.com would have a hoarding higher than the ones which said Raymonds and I don’t remember what else.

I remember all my limbs shaking at the Nandanam signal. You know how the involuntary shaking gets more uncontrollable as you tell yourself to stop. A shock runs up my spine and I shake my head violently. I think that everyone at the signal must be looking at me now. Every move I make is being watched and recorded. Then I look around to see people staring at nothing in particular, as if they were professional spies. I calm my nerves down and make an effort to kill the paranoia. That’s the mistake. You can’t kill paranoia. At best you can quietly slither your way out of it. The signal turns green and I look at the maddening traffic and listen to the ugly horns screaming behind me. I feel a need to escape the crowd and I’m off the blocks like a wannabe college fresher eager to show how to open the throttle in a straight road and on a stupid scooter. It doesn’t take much effort – you need your right wrist to work a little and some sense of balance. For me, the latter seemed like a bunch of marbles dipped in oil, slipping thru my fingers. It can’t be true, I tell myself. There are somethings that you take for granted. Like getting 3 + 4 = 7 correct, though I just checked that after I typed it. Sense of balance is one of them. No matter how fucked up my head is, some things don’t go away. However, holding on to that bike on the straight Mount Road with its bright lights, I can sense the doubts creep up like slush sliding between the toes.

I wonder why I’m racing with the other mad fuckers and I realise that I’m a little mad too. I’m nearing Spencers, and I have to take a left, and Alsa mall and it’s sandwiches are only a couple of kms away. My hands start shaking and I feel them being taken away from my control. Control is another thing I took for granted. My hands were obeying someone else. I knew that it was important for my survival, and that my hands would never let me down in such a moment of need. I plead with my head not to give up on me and black out. I promise it some rest as soon as I cross Taj Connemera. When I get there, like a greedy moron I try to fool my mind into thinking that the promise never happened. But whatever was driving me yesterday was smarter than my greedy fucked up head, and I had to stop. I remember thinking that if I black out, I have to call bro so that he can come and pick me up.

Back at the bridge near Connemera, I kill the engine and take my phone out and pretend to be occupied, so that no one gets suspicious. I read a message from Somesh asking me to get fuel for his zippo. I keep my phone inside and stare around without looking at anything in particular, blinking like the worst criminal ever born.

I want to leave before the cops got me. So I speed off and wait at the signal. Suddenly time seems to have passed by quickly and I’m almost there at Alsa mall. The last 100 metres are painfully long. The mall simply wouldn’t come any closer. It’s like one of those ancient screensavers on Windows, where the scenery on either side is moving past but the finish line stays fixed in the distance. I stop the bike and stumble onto my feet clumsily. I am so clumsy that I’m sure half the jobless fuckers sitting there know that I’m running short of stability. I walk to the sandwich guy and order whatever he suggests. I’d say 3 sandwiches, and his efforts at repeating the order would be “ok, 4 sandwiches… then?” Sometimes I think he’s wiser and better equipped to make these decisions and agree to whatever he repeats. On other occasions, I feel like retaining some self-respect, so I assert my original order.

The bread omelette guy gives me the bread omelette and stares at me suspiciously - so suspicious that I feel guilty at having done what I’d done, of which I have absolutely no idea.

I take the bike out clumsily. Oh, and I’d cut the music out earlier, when I stopped outside Connemera. I figured that my disobeying hands could be a result of the trippy music. It had taken me close to an hour and a dozen shaky kms to arrive at that thought. I wonder what to do with my helmet, and so I wear it. I feel like an idiot for wearing a helmet on an Activa. I feel self-conscious and uncool. I tell myself that it’s wrong to judge yourself on these things and that this is uncool. But at this moment, my need to look good and maintain an image takes over and I ride the long route back, to avoid the crowd sitting outside Alsa Mall.

I keep telling myself that I can go back and prove a point to myself. It would be cooler to conquer my image fears. In any case nobody can see the face inside the helmet. But my need to appear cool or run away otherwise is too strong. I feel ashamed and weak.

I ride awkwardly to Chetpet and Swami’s place. There is a bunch of unruly bikers, who could be fairly categorised as anti-social elements, who are in some sort of drag race or genuinely speeding for someone’s throat. I see a Yamaha whiz past me, making me feel like a smaller man on the Activa. I hear screams of ‘Oye!” and “Heeyyyyyyy” for the next 10 minutes. For some reason I feel like I’m being chased. I take the right at the Chetpet signal and things calm down. Soon after, I enter Swami’s apartments and ask many questions to the security guard who has no answers. Let me clarify that my questions weren’t smart or witty. The guard was just indifferent towards life. He didn’t tell me where I could park or where Swami stayed inside that building. Ok that’s the end of that ride.

29 July 2008

New country, old story

Today is one of those days when I feel like giving up, for want of pity.

Lick, soak in self-pity, but get out before you drown.

23 July 2008

Post # 100

Many years back we used to wear ‘coloured clothes’ (we never considered the blue in our shorts to be a real colour) to school on our birthdays. We’d distribute chocolates with pride. It was the big day in school for every kid. The one day where the kid got everyone’s attention (at least once) no matter how ugly, how uncool.

On others’ birthdays, the mission was to score more than the one chocolate every kid in the class was owed. I’d plead that I promised never to eat a chocolate without giving one to my loving brother, who I hated. It was as untrue as a lie can be.

Later it became cool to get mad drunk on birthdays, thanks to sex-booze-smoke-guru Hari The Slapper. Rumor (initiated by Hari) has it that he has been taking two days off to drink since the year he stopped sucking to drink. Two days of both years at Indore, around the time of Hari’s birthday, were wiped off our slates. There was not a care in the world while we were on C-top at IIM Indore.

I miss Indore like I thought I would. But there are too many places in this world. I’m getting used to being alone, and life now is good and different.

The Child, at 24, is still curious and cribbing often.

22 July 2008

Vietnamese

I think the people who first spoke Vietnamese didn’t want outsiders to learn. They came up with 6 tones, which they denote by putting various marks on top of vowels. It’s also a sing-song language. No singing = no Vietnamese.


English: Tư commits suicide slowly.

Vietnamese: Tư T T T T


English: The size of the warehouse is small; hence drying is difficult and miserable.

Vietnamese: Kh nhà kho nh vì thế đ khô khó và kh


The language has many traps. Thieu means pepper, Dieu means cashew, and Thieu Dieu means disaster. Similarly, some word with a cap on the vowel could mean ‘God is great’, the same word with a question mark on the vowel could mean ‘you fucking bitch!’

21 July 2008

Letter

"...My Vietnamese is improving. I can speak a little. Your food (mostly) I cannot eat because I’m vegetarian (an chay). Initially it was because of religion, but even later, when I wasn’t religious anymore… I’m confused, so I don’t eat meat. I might start one of these days though.

I’m from a city called Madras in India. It’s a big city – a little smaller than Saigon maybe. We have the second longest beach in the world.

I lived in Madras for 22 years. Then I went to a city called Indore to study business. Life in the hostel in Indore is the best thing. I miss Indore and my friends in the hostel more than Madras.

Most of my friends from Madras are from a younger age, and I’ve changed a lot since, so it’s not the same anymore. They’re now scattered all over the world..."

4 July 2008

The Touchable Boy

Once there was a little boy from a village. He came to the city to work in a Juice Shop. Labour laws can’t apply to little boys working in juice shops. He lived with The Juice Shop Family, in their home. This was allowed because he was a touchable Brahmin. Fortunate boy, one might say. As the years rolled, we got used to having him around.

We played cricket with him, he joined us in festive meals and happy times… he even wore the sacred thread, which was like his swipe card to everything in my sizable Brahmin family.

Being a Brahmin didn’t solve all of the boy’s problems. The Boy had a Master, and the Master had Family and Friends, who, by association, became Masters in their own capacity. And there were Rules. The Rules were never broken, so nothing was ever said. The Boy volunteered to do any work he can before one of his Masters did. If there is a letter to be posted, if someone knocks on the door when everyone’s asleep, if the dishes demand work… The Boy will volunteer, out of instinct. He never needed to be told, never disagreed with anything. In every point of choice, he would naturally take the worst. The worst apple, the worst seat…

When I entered teenage, I’d steal five or ten rupees every now and then. The Boy would always give with a smile, like it amused him to give (in a round-about sense) my money back to me. The Boy stole some more for himself, and perhaps for others like me. The money, which was black to start with, got darker.

One day The Masters discovered the leak in their pockets. The Boy was beaten up and put in jail, where he confessed. Maybe my contribution to the leak was negligible, but The Boy never mentioned my name. In the Masters’ story, he was buried while still alive. Nobody speaks about him, like the episodes featuring the boy were lost in a fire. If they met him on the street in some impossible coincidence, they’d treat him like an irritating ghost from their past. An ungrateful dog, they might say in Tamil.

Indian food is an addiction that I'm struggling to kick out.

3 July 2008

Yesterday, the maid who helps run our home got tired of cooking Indian food. Learning Vietnamese has helped me empathise.

The little note read:

“Sorry. I will’nt come tomorrow. I not working for you.”

1 July 2008

Timber

Let’s say you’re in an exam where every kid cheats. The examiner cares, but there aren’t enough examiners to stop the kids from cheating. The powers that use the exam scores are blind. The just don’t know. If you’re an honest kid, you get fucked. What do you do?

A Vietnamese might say “Timber – same same!”

30 June 2008

Spot The Happy Child


You have 3 choices in your life in my school:
  1. Good at math? Study science, join the elite and struggle to engineering.
  2. Not so good at math? Struggle and fail to study medicine, fall back on engineering.
  3. Suck at math? Study Commerce.

Commerce is the most looked down upon field of study in my school. If you choose commerce, then you accept defeat at the hands of the math gods. In some form of poetic justice, the Commerce studs that cleared the Chartered Accountancy exam got much better jobs than the average engineer from PS.

I hated accounts after watching my accountant parents discuss accounts every evening (later with my accountant brother). I was no math stud, but I fought my way in. It was the first time I competed academically for something that mattered. I don’t know why I did it, but it changed things.

I went on to study Mechanical Engineering, because I didn’t have the balls to take up Physics. Again, I don’t quite know why I did it, but it changed things.

After engineering I struggled with technical drawings during my 8 month stint at the valve factory. I only joined the factory because I had to do something – like get a job. I hated drawing.

In my last academic stunt, I joined IIM Indore, mainly to quit my drawing job and buy 2 years to think of what I wanted to do, at the end of which I failed to figure anything out, and grabbed the job which would take me around the world. It’s the closest I’ve got to doing what I wanted to do – travel.

For a long time, until much after school ended, I thought people could only become one of three things – Engineer, Doctor or Chartered Accountant.

When I met other professionals, like the electrician who fixed my home, I was confused. Where did these people come from? What choices did they have in high school? How did Carl Lewis start jumping? How did Gopal know he wanted to script ads? How did he go to sleep knowing that ideas will flow in the next day? How did Joy, who didn’t give a shit about anything, know everything about a camera?

In Vietnam, I was amazed to meet a senior from my school. It’s always fun to bitch about that school. In P.S., we had 4 sections:

A had the brightest, coolest brains, studying Hindi. My favourite chics then were in that section. D had the bright brains who chose to study Sanskrit. C was the Tamil section, with the uncoolest tambrahm babes (Cheenu would call them MPBs – Malli-Poo-Babes). B was for Bad. The very worst students, the Dawoods and Chota Shakeels and Rajans of that disciplined tambrahm school found their way to B section. B for Bad.

My school made sure that people who had fun got the worst scores. They made the equation clear. “You have fun now, you’ll suffer later!” It’s the life’s truth, we were taught. I wondered until what age I would have to be serious for a happy life afterwards. Without intent, it happened to be the year after I passed out of that school.

In another friend’s school in Bombay, students were mixed randomly once every 2 years, so that they grew up knowing everybody and embracing change. My school determined our classmates for the next 7 years when we were 10 year olds. Every second in that school was a battle with the brains you were pitted against. It was Darwinian, in that someone had to die. If everyone fared well, the next exam would correct it.

Some had to feel worse, in the hope of greater desire to become better. Of all the lessons my school tried to teach me, this one’s the hardest to forget.

I have fond memories of childhood, which I miss sometimes. The sense of purpose was stronger then. But my school makes me feel thrilled about where I am now.

28 June 2008

Massage

A good place to meet the rare breed of fat Vietnamese, the massage parlour employs towels that barely make the little path around my 30” waist. I think the massage is the best luxury money can buy in the developing world.

The massage girl smiled and said hi, in an erotic tone. Over the next hour I discovered that it was the only tone she knew. The conversation was plain and she massaged like mad, with the precision of a surgeon. Sometimes she stood on me, sometimes she sat, sometimes she sat beside.

It was strange lying naked but for a loose towel next to a chic I met a minute back. After an hour of clinical build-up, she asked me if I would like her to massage the one part left untouched. I smiled, nervous with embarrassment, and told her about the many women waiting for me in India.

“Vietnamese?”

I smiled in deeper embarrassment, and said nothing (almost never happens).

16 June 2008

IST + 01:30

As I walk along the beach at Varkala, Kerala, I see old grey-haired men pass time by the waves. Their history is the story of Kerala heard all over India. Worked in Dubai or Singapore, and returned home when their tired old limbs had fresh young ones for company, and competition.

After exchanging names and home-towns, we move on to things that matter.

“You have a job?”

Nod.

“How much?”

I’m slightly embarrassed but I tell him the truth.

Then we talk about family. He explains how he’s married off his children. He’s a proud man, proud at having fulfilled his responsibilities. His wife is long dead, so he sits by the waves and listens to the coconut trees.

Now it’s my turn.

I tell him about my parents and elder brother.

“No sister?!”

In Tamil Nadu, if someone misbehaves with a chic in public, someone will yell “Weren’t you born with sisters?!” It’s the most embarrassing public allegation according to me, but maybe that’s because I try not to misbehave.

So I didn’t quite pick the intent behind the Old Mallu Man’s reaction to my sisterless existence and fumbled into confused silence.

“No expense! Your path is clear!”

Sister = Expense

Cut.

*

*

*

In Vietnam, the factory is filled with women. This is especially strange to me, because my old factory in Madras had less than a dozen women lost in a sea of 500 men. They were Tamil-chics-who-wear-flowers-I’m-allergic-to, stacked away carefully in Accounts. I’ve never felt happier for not following my genes into Accountancy.

Here, the cashew and coffee factories are filled with women. The suppliers of trucks of coffee are women, all the restaurants have women… on the streets, in the stores… everywhere.

I walk into the Cashew Regrading Centre, where women sit around mountains of cashew, picking the good from the bad and the terrible. They all flash a big smile and say hi, with a bow of the head.

The older ones tease the young ones who glance at my brown skin. I think Indians and our brown skin has much greater value outside India.

I can’t stop blushing and smiling.

Later, I sit next to 35 year old Nga (Ngyya) and learn some documentation. We have 5 mutually understood words, and struggle with communication for half an hour. It’s fascinating, and at the end of it, I learn more Vietnamese than documentation.

They’re most curious about my age, not how much I earn. Two days back I was with a bike-taxi guy, waiting to score some, and we were generally talking… and he guessed my age correctly, without needing a second guess. I learn that he’ll turn 38 the next month. I told him that I was born in July too, and asked him the date… he frowned in thought and said “I don’t know… I’m so busy you know!”

15 June 2008

The Cost Of Living

$10 per girl per hour. You can pick and choose, like Mangoes. Flirt, cuddle, scratch, hold and dance. Sex is more expensive.

Fat old bald and slender young firm-breasts. Fat Old’s fat belly is the Slender One’s toy. She plays, He scratches. Edgily. He throws his head back, and revels in the attention.

He walks to a dance floor filled with Slender Ones and Old Balds. Slender One follows, hand in hand. Almost romantic.

Whisky is served in the place of Rum. I protest, nobody gives a fuck.

Hands are meshed, numbers are exchanged. Slender One’s been invited Home. Slender One says “One month I see you then Home”. It’s a balmy night in the lives of The First-Timers.

Me? I don't like paying.

5 June 2008

Rượu đế

In my old factory, lunch was the best part of the day (Work = Worship). We got to see the sun as we walked to the mess, listen to incessant gossip, and the food was delicious and subsidised (45 paise). The bad part was that we had all of 30 minutes for the many things we liked about the lunch.

Here in Vietnam, everyone takes an hour long nap after lunch.

Anyway, today my factory had a good day and so we went to a local place for a second lunch. The place was filthy as a state-run wine shop in Tamil Nadu... the floor was littered with half eaten pieces of meat and junk and they had two dogs instead of people to clean up the mess. The dogs roamed around freely, scavenging happily. Everyone was happy.

So I tasted the local rice toddy... harsh and nearly unpalatable, it brought back memories from kerala. Now I'm back at the coffee factory, trying to understand vouchers, ledgers and reports.

I love Vietnam, and I love the freedom.

2 June 2008

saigon - first impressions

today, for the first time, i treated myself to a foot massage. the 3 slight girls giggled, gossiped, flirted and massaged for 90 minutes. two feet, about the size of a man, were painted on the walls, showing which part of the foot is linked to which part of the body. it's hard to imagine, until she takes out each muscle, each pressure point, like a killer surgeon. their fingers are so strong that when she held my neck i felt meek; like she could kill me anytime she wanted to. by the end of it i felt intoxicated. after today i like vietnam a little more.

people are friendly and eager to smile and talk. often, they don't recognise even nouns in english. my dumb charades skills from college comes to my rescue. everyone laughs as i try to explain vegetarianism. the other day i wrote "chicken pork beef" and scored it off, and then wrote onion tomato egg beneath.

the girls laugh for absolutely everything. if you ever need an ego-boost come to vietnam. i feel much funnier after a week here.

the traffic here is the worst i've ever seen. nothing in india - not even kerala - can beat saigon. here the step-thru scooters have their way everywhere. the trucks don't bully around, and the small guys have more power, maybe thanks to socialism.

i experimented too much with the local food and wine, and shat blood a few days back. i went to meet a dr. jane. she apologised for being rude and asked me if id had anal sex recently. i thought of asking her why she thought that was rude.

28 May 2008

Mother's Concern

I showed what's written below to my mother, who happens to be The Groom's Mother... she laughed, much to my satisfaction, and only had this to say:

"Can you please change the bit about The Bondas... if they read it..."

16 May 2008

Meet The TamBrahm Auditors

My family of four isn’t renowned for its social outings. So when we went with The Groom to The Bride’s place to well, check out The Bride and her family (family is important, says Father), it was an awkward moment for everyone concerned. I arrived late and my parents introduced me to The Bride, who I’d met twice before.

They opened the conversation with perhaps the only Amaresh line they’re confident of… “here! Meet the only non-CA in the family!!” And I smiled and sat down, and they spoke, about Audit, Accounts and Tax. The Groom, His Mother, and the Bride, all worthy CAs, looked at each other, smiling always, even as the conversation went like "How many people are working in your firm? 12? Oh good! Mine has 14."

I’d like to think that my Parents really like audit. On the rare occasions that they slip outside audit, they have trouble initiating conversation. To break the uneasy silence, The Bride’s Mother brings Bondas to eat. Everyone slipped into their Somalian shoes and the only sound heard for the next minute was of Bondas in our mouths. You know, the Bondas weren’t That Good.

I proposed that we celebrate the occasion with some alcohol. Everyone laughed, eager to not come across as uptight and uncool. Then they spoke about the state-run Wine Shop next-door and the social problems and local nuisance created by the Wine Shops.

Invariably, they ran into silence again, and I intervened, again. I thanked them for hijacking my suggestion of alcohol, and asked them to reconsider it. This time they spoke about Wine Shop Accounts, the legal claims to the land on which some of them sit, the problems involved in their audit… The Bride and The Groom played their shy part to perfection, and The Mothers were quiet.

Then, the Mothers felt like reliving the depressing TV shows, and suggested that someone sings. Somehow The Bride’s Mother asked me if I could sing. I tried a third time, explaining to her how after 2 drinks I can sing, dance… like a true Auditor’s Wife, she offered to give me the alcohol after I sing. Then I explained the difference between audit fees and alcohol that helps me sing.

Once The Bride and The Groom’s Mother were spotted fighting, both eager to clear the dishes. Anyway, they fought over it in exceedingly polite ways, and I was thinking, first day it’ll be like this… after a couple of months, “hey bitch, clear this shit. now!” and if we were to believe some of the Tamil films enjoyed by middle-aged Mothers, she might even spit into it as it’s being picked up.

Finally, they discussed wedding dates, mostly revolving around the financial year-end and tax year-end.

I reassured The Bride’s Father that I’m not alcoholic, and he said he knew, and I asked him how?

And then everyone left in different cars.

10 May 2008

devil's sermon


relax buddy.
have a cool drink.

***

whatever we do, where ever we are is the best option available.
we live by choosing. if there is a better choice we would have gone for that.
nobody forces you to do or not to do anything.
whatever we do or dont has a selfish motive behind it.
what bothers us is that inability to call a spade a fucking spade.
we are capable of swallowing that but fret as the end doesnt justify the stomaching.
we always weigh rewards and punishment. so the current scene is the most rewarding and least punished.
suit yourself.
enjoy the rape and celebrate life.
howzzaat?

***

6 May 2008

merci ava?

dear people, im back home.

i asked help from a lot of people and successfully boarded the plane. i got drunk on the plane on remy martin and they refused to serve me more citing an arbit 3 drinks per 2 hours policy. anyway, im struggling to type in this keyboard. france screwed my typing. my country does have a strong smell. my room smells too. but the cab guy who drove me home had some strange desire to have nauseating flowers in the cab at 130 in the morning. so i liked the smell of india a little more thanks to the cab guy.

i've been in a talkative mood. the cab guy and i spoke more than with all the strangers put together in france. my head i can hear french music and im thinking tomorrow morning il wake up to orange juice, bread, tomato chutney and cheese. i loved the trip. i feel like i know so much more! this morning when i left the apartment in paris, it felt so weird.

i didn't visit any museums during the trip. the crowd to climb the eiffel tower was too much and too motivated, so we took a nap on the grass and admired it from far. i didn't do anything spectacular. amy the bars expert took me to a lot of bars to meet a lot of people. also, i never spent a night in a hotel. the strangers don't talk and the people i was introduced to were extra nice.

after 23 years and 9 months of indian food, amy thought it was a nice idea to take me to an indian fastfood place. at brussels airport there were tonnes of indian families speaking in english. anyway, the indian fastfood guy spoke one word for 3 questions from me (the word was bengal) and he despised my intrusion into his routine of preparing a katti roll every 2 minutes.

later.

12 April 2008

Tripping With Gopal






Credits: Writer - Gopal | Art - Nathan

8 April 2008

Dance like no one's watching, Play like you're in a b-school...

Since we’re considered to be some of the smartest in the country, we are expected to suck at sports. Reality is not far off. What we may lack in talent is balanced by the fact that we play harder than we work, as we were repeatedly told when we started out at this place. How hard we work won’t be discussed here.

Everyone learns some new sport in this place. There is simply nothing else to do, so might as well learn.

Sportscom is at the bottom of the value chain. Their events get postponed for absolutely anything. Placom is the biggest bully of them all, but generally an ant-bite to a star player is sufficient for rescheduling. Some of their tournaments last longer than the Formula One season, but whatever they lack in organization, they make up in entertainment. No other event has people hooting and fighting, in our own B-schoolised form of hooliganism.

You know you’re in a B-school when you see more protective gear and branded apparel than talent. But you occasionally come across people like Girish there-is-no-sport-i-can’t-play Nair. Then you see him ferociously guarding the bottom of the acad rankings, and you begin to think maybe it makes sense. On the other extreme, is cricket expert Anish Goel, who commands respect almost exclusively due to his knowledge of local playing conditions. He knows the slope on every pillar, the smell of the grass near mid-wicket, the diameter of the 2 small gutters on his home - the pitch… get the drift?

Over the 2 years, people have discussed sports more than they have played it. More time and thought is spent on forming teams, unless you’re in Section C, where socialism prevails and everyone gets a chance. On the other extreme is the Section B cricket team, for which you have to crack 4 rounds of tests and possess at least 5% of Anish Goel’s knowledge of local conditions to get picked.

Then there are the Medicondas and Gadiyars who only talk. They belong to the pen is mightier than the sword crowd, so when they’re not on the newsgroups, they’re giving their own half-time analysis during games on TV.

Thanks to Pushkar for the thought and Girish for the inspiration – B-school drives home the essence of ‘mind willing, body not willing’. But they say make hay while… so we played as much as we could while our legs still listened.

2 March 2008

Hari Narayan


Hari knows everything there is to be known about three things: booze, smoke and women. He was so cool that his parents taught him everything there is to be taught. He’ll tell you how women who wear blue nail polish on their big toes are sexy. Clichéd as it may sound, but as a tribute to our countless Southpark gatherings, Hari is so cool that he decides what’s cool. He’s the guy all parents warn their kids about. He’s influenced countless people into socially accepted bad habits just so that his psychiatrist dad can have a job. Recently he signed me up on jeevansaathi.com. We played a game, where Hari would read two lines of the profiles of three women and I have to pick the best. That presently tops the list of our many mindless pursuits by which I shall remember Hari.




26 February 2008

Apology Letter

As I near the end of over 2 decades of education, i pay tribute to the one thing that they taught me well - the art of apology letters. So, here are my most evolved words:

Dear Sir,

I sincerely apologise for my reckless transgression of the PGP Rule # 22 (4) in receiving a proxy for the 3rd session of PM on January 20, 2008. Words can’t capture the remorse I feel for my juvenile act of disobedience. Not a moment has passed since the crime when I didn’t feel regret for what I did. The guilt and shame that has consumed me over the past 48 hours is the greatest punishment that can be meted out. I promise never to repeat such an act of indiscretion in future and request you to kindly treat this as an exception to my otherwise blemishless record.

Yours sincerely,

V Amaresh Subramaniam

17 January 2008

Wedding Photos

I think (South) Indian women look their worst in their wedding snaps so that their ex boyfriends don't feel so bad.

7 January 2008

Mainak's Poem


The story of Mainak begins with his Bengali name. “It’s M-oii-nak” (with a shrug). Prof. Sadh showed us something we’ve never seen before or since – his funny side, “M-oii-nak as in A for Orange?” The rest of the story of Mainak will be told another day. Here’s Mainak’s poem:

I was living my life on a leash

So one day I decided to chew through the collar

And make the world my own

But the world’s a tough bitch

And lessons, it does teach

But I would rather be a dog without a bone

Than one on a leash