Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hello, hello, HELLO?!?

I can’t get over how profoundly phones have changed life as we know it.

I know our parents feel it on a whole different level, because they remembered how it was not to have a phone at all, and would tell you stuff like: “We would have to walk 5 kms to our friend’s house instead of just sitting around and running up enormous telephone bills every month.” For some reason all parents walked a lot when they were young. There seems to be some undiscovered connection between walking and having kids. (Doctor saying to depressed patient “Yes, Mr. Das, I’m afraid if you had walked around town more often when you were a child Mrs. Das would’ve been pregnant RIGHT now.)

Anyhow, to get back to what I was saying.

Take romance for instance. On my frequent trips to the Lalbagh Botanical gardens here (don’t ask) I always notice something which depresses me. There are always zillions of couples around (this isn’t the depressing bit, I’m getting to it) and almost inevitably one of the two will be avidly talking on the phone. Not to each other, not staring deeply into each other’s eyes, not trying to cop a feel when they think no one’s around. But on the phone, talking to someone else. All the while the partner (I am pained to admit it’s usually the male half that is phoneless) looks in the opposite direction with a bored “why doesn’t anyone call ME?” expression.

The future of the human race is at stake here. Ban phones in all romantic spots!

In my office I am privy to the strangest phone behaviour. People get calls from the same person so often that it’s almost like a running conversation throughout the day. Instead of a ‘Hallo? Oh, hi! What’s up? How’s that diet coming along’ it goes like this: “Uuu.” (Don’t ask, I only report what I observe) “Yes”. “Had a biscuit right now?”. “Uuu”. “Let me know when you eat the next biscuit”. SLAM goes the phone, no goodbye, talk later, nothing.

Earlier you could identify a crazy person on the street by how they talked loudly to themselves and burst into gales of laughter without anyone around. Now you have to abstain from setting your dog on such people because they may just have a bloody ‘hands free’ thingy in their ear. (So first check for a phone and THEN let your dogs maul them to death.)

And last but not least - ringtones. Sweet Mother of God. I nearly killed an imbecile colleague for receiving dozens and dozens of calls on her phone with a ringtone that went ‘You’re my cuppy-cake, shweety-pie, pumpy-yumpy-umpkin, you’re my SHWEETY-pie…’ Dozens of them, everyday. And sometimes, just to teach her callers a lesson (probably for not calling often enough) she would let the phone ring…on, and on…and on until I would turn to her with tears in my eyes and beg her to answer the phone.

So yeah, I have mixed feelings about today’s pervasive phone culture. And a little miffed that no one calls me up. After all that trouble I took with my ‘Ekbar aja, aja, aja, aja. Aaaja’ ringtone too!

Monday, July 23, 2007


Have run up against a bit of a writer’s block boys and girls.

But don’t despair…genius always finds a way to shine through.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Save Harry Potter!!!

People are saying that JK Rowling might go for the big one and kill Harry Potter this time. My impassioned appeal to her: Don’t do it JK! I imagine you’re thinking a happy ending would be too wishy-washy, a sell-out, an unrealistic way to end things. Here’s a newsflash for you, my dear, if I wanted brutal realism, I wouldn’t have been reading a book about a school for wizards and a magical world hidden away from Muggle eyes. I would read ‘Schindler’s List’ or ‘Sophie’s Choice’ instead.

Second point: think of your young readers, you’ve done everything to make them love your character. Ad they do…to the point of obsession. If you kill their beloved Harry, just because you can, and make so many kids across the world desperately unhappy -- what possible purpose does it achieve? (Apart from giving you a bit of a power rush, I suspect.;))

The world really is so dull and grim for kids today…look around you. The disease, the dirt, the discontent. If you could make kids believe that Good can prevail over Evil, that would be a good thing.

Maybe this plea is unnecessary, maybe you have spared Harry. All I can say is, you should think of how it would’ve felt if Enid Blyton had gone on the rampage killing off all of the world’s favorite characters -- Fatty dying of third degree burns in the last Five Find Outer mystery, or Mr. Moonface being lynched on a bough of The Faraway Tree.

There’s still time…Don’t DO IT!!!

Who wants to be the next Prize Ass?

I remember when the first Harry Potter book came out. I was in college and quite contemptuous of the media hype and hoopla that surrounded the book. Only after the second one came out did a couple of friends persuade me to give them a read, so I purchased the first one off the pavement in front of the Indian Museum, and gave it a shot.

And I was hooked. I hadn’t been so glued to a new book in a while. What also excited me was that the story kept evolving as we lived our lives, that Wikipedia wouldn’t be able to give a summarization of the whole series. Everyone waited with baited breath for the new book, no one (barring the author herself and a few others I guess) knew how it would pan out for Harry and his friends.

Of course this very phenomenon gave rise to a class of people who got their kicks out of spoiling Harry Potter for others. Have you waited a zillion years for the next installment, then waited in line on the second day after it came out, paid 800 precious rupees for it, savoured the first 40 pages of it, only for a friend to speed read through it so he could torment you with the threat that he knows what happens and will tell?

Well it happened to me. And then he does tell you, even though you clamp your hands to your ears and yell nonsense words to drown out what he said. But it’s of no use. Your perverse human nature reads his lips as he says it…and there you are. That’s how my fifth book was spoilt.

Then for the sixth book, a guy who had never found occasion to message me before, took the trouble just to tell me who dies in the end. I had acquired the book just that morning, after much anticipation and penny pinching, and I remember being so infuriated that I burst into tears of rage.

Let’s see who does it this time…it’s almost as much of a whodunit scenario (‘Which Prize Ass gets gratuitous pleasure out of leaking the story to Ushasi this time?’) as what happens in the actual book.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


I have plenty written on my CV, but I steadfastly avoid writing anything about my computer skills. I think a CV looks much prettier without all those unsightly, uneven-looking words - MS-doc, PhOtoSHop, Ha-P-2-b-anerd, etc.

OK, OK. I don’t mention my computer skills because I don’t have any.

But it’s more about being on the good side of computers than actually being skilled. Because AI isn’t a myth. The truth is out there, my friend. Computers are living, thinking, malevolent things that hate the beings that created them (like zillions of squat, boxy Frankenstein’s monsters) . And though I had nothing to do with creating computers (hardy-har-har, that’s rich!) they still hate me with a passion.

How else could you explain how often I’ve lost hours of work, just by getting a cup of coffee? Five minutes away from my system, and BAM I’m set back by two hours or more.

Or why, a few months ago, when I was trying to 'insert rows' into an excel sheet, nothing showed up -- even though I repeated the command till my index finger almost dropped off? Turns out the new rows were in white (for some reason I couldn't fathom) so I couldn’t see that I had already added some 60 rows. Who did that, do you think? Me?? I think NOT!

Why is it that when I tried to delete a photo (awful, monstrous picture of myself…if you saw it you would understand) from a picasa link recently, I ended up permanently blocking half of all pictures that my computer receives?

Because computers hate me. They are nice to all you bloody suck-ups because you pander to their egos and act like computers are the centre of your Universe. (You computer-geniuses make me sick! )

One day they will push me too far and I will take a heavy, blunt object to all the computers that I can find.

P.S - If any of you %$@##&**@ computers are reading this (I know you do, you can't fool me), let this be a warning to you…