Thursday, December 20, 2007


Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in that person’s shoes.

That way, when you do criticize him, you’re a mile away and also have his shoes.

(Not mine, but brilliant never the less.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Though I find superstitions quite funny, I must concede that some have their uses. Some were created to scare people into a good habit, because we all know that you can’t get a person to do anything by just saying it’s the ‘right thing to do’. Tell him he’ll lose his life savings if he lets his nail cuttings fall to the floor and you’ll see him conscientiously cutting his nails over a waste paper basket or into a spread newspaper. Tell a typical Indian family that a woman is unclean at a particular time of the month and she gets to spend some time resting in bed and not as a glorified chambermaid.

There’s a charming superstition about a ‘Nishi’in Bengal -- a creature that prowls about at night calling people by their name. Once she lures you out she does all sorts of unpleasant things to you, which is probably why children are told to wait for a third call before even considering a suitably worded response. Because you see, the Nishi calls only once, and if you hear your name being called two times more in your Mum’s voice it probably is your mother after all (Who’s probably hopping mad by this time.
Mother to child: What happened? I called you downstairs a 100 times to eat your dinner!
Child: Really? I thought you were the Nishi.)

My own mother told me this story but also explained that this was how people in Bengali villages discouraged sleepwalkers from wandering out at night and walking into swamps or other sorts of very nasty trouble. I suppose if your subconscious has internalized the whole Nishi-r daak story – warning bells will ring even if you are asleep and dreaming that someone you love is calling out to you. Now don’t ask me what happened if your sleeping mind tricked you into hearing a third call. I suppose if your subconscious so wanted you to fall into a tiger pit then you just gotta.

I would like to propose a few more superstitions. (How do you institute superstitions? Does it get passed by Parliament before they’re followed by people? Those clowns who represent us would probably not be averse to a few more of those: the more wrapped up in ignorance we are the better for them.)

I suggest a few; maybe my readers can start up a petition to get these passed in Delhi.

1) If a man pees in public his equipment withers and falls off.

2) People who shout along to songs at concerts get kicked in the groin (accidentally on purpose). Oh wait, that’s not a superstition – that actually happens to people at Scorpion concerts standing to the left of the stage. My bad.

3) If people spit (especially in close proximity of another person’s feet) the evil spit fairy sucks you dry of all liquid (because she believes, quite rightly, that since you’re chucking your saliva about you have no need of it) and you die all shrivelled up and crying out for moisture

4) Diabolical politicians who kill people for sport and for the majority vote don’t get re-elected.

And so on… you get the drift. Draft some of your own, why should I do all the work?
And maybe we can collate all of it and send it along for The SOBs (Superstition Observation Board) to have a look at. With the assurance that it’s common knowledge the Nishi will be spitting mad if they don’t.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wrong Window Syndrome

I have a friend who suffers terribly from wrong window syndrome. I feel great empathy for her because it is a 21st century cousin of my more old-fashioned foot-in-mouth disease.

Keep in mind that all of the instances I am about to narrate has happened to the same person, and is 100% true.

The first I heard of her affliction was when she IM-ed her immediate boss on Google talk by mistake. She was rounding up all of her office-buddies for the customary coffee break one afternoon with a “Let’s go for coffee!” and accidentally pinged her boss as well. Her poor manager, thinking that his team members finally wanted to bond with him, replied with a cheery “Sure. Where?”
My friend (shall we call her Anamika?) was annoyed by what appeared a really stupid question from one of her regular coffee-buddies and answered with a curt “What do you mean - ‘where’??”. Only to belatedly realise that she had just asked her boss to join them for coffee. (Never a good idea). “Wrong window!” she replied and fled to where her friends were waiting.

A few months later the whole team went out for an official dinner. And our Anamika had to miss it. The next day she gleaned some information about the dinner from her team mate sitting right next to her. Wisely deciding that the more interesting gossip couldn’t be discussed loudly within the office, she turned to her system and proceeded to pump her colleague in earnest about the spicier parts of the evening. “What did Ron (the Vice-President of the company) say about his girlfriend last night?” she briskly typed out and waited -- all agog for the response. The VP of the company replied with a “hehehehe…” that said it all. She still didn’t get it, and turned to her friend to ask what he was playing at when the truth dawned on her. “Sorry…Wrong window!” she replied and nearly wept from embarrassment.

This story has passed into the lore of the company, and is still discussed over lunch by many.

One would think that Anamika would’ve learnt her lesson, but of course she hadn’t. Just for variation’s sake this time, she SMS-ed her husband one night with a “Sweetums, where are you? I’m hungry and I need to have dinner. Come home fast!”
Of course, you all know she didn’t actually send it to her husband. That would be too simple. She sent it the MD of her company, no less. He sent a message back (you have to give it to these guys for being great sports) saying “I am not Sweetums. And if you’re so hungry fix yourself some dinner.”

One last example and you’ll be as convinced as I am that she suffers from A-grade ‘Wrong Window Syndrome’. Her gang has a tradition of getting a surprise cake for each member’s birthday. (Of course the whole question of how much of a surprise it is when it’s a tradition has been discussed but never seriously considered.) On one such occasion, she and a friend went to pick up a cake from the customary place but found it locked up tight. So they had to make do with an unsatisfactory cake from a rather downmarket bakery nearby.

Anamika came back and pinged another friend of hers about the cake: “Yes, the birthday boy WILL be surprised…by how godawful the cake is!”

Yep, you guessed it. She sent it straight to the birthday boy…


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Happy Wedding Anniversary to me!

Today's my wedding anniversary. A friend was asking what it was like to be married 3 years and together for 8 and I said "Comfortable". We might not have that breathless feeling when we're around each other anymore (unless one of us sits on the other by mistake) but it's nice to know there's someone waiting back home who understands you through and through and doesn't hate you for it.

It's a nice, solid feeling-- having a rock to support you through the nasty times, having private jokes nobody else gets but can provide you with endless amusement to the perplexity of people around you. Being able to show your supremely ugly side without worrying TOO much about it. (If you think I'm moody now you should see me on a weekday morning).

And it's also good knowing that here's one person who would probably tell you what's bothering him before anyone else.

It's comfortable, and dare I say it? Nice. I like Nice.

Happy Anniversary to me! (I mean us.)



Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sunday afternoon

I went for a walk today.

Don’t ask me why, I hadn’t done it in the entire year of living in this neighborhood. But today being a Sunday, and me being spectacularly unfit, and there being nothing on TV, and nothing amusing on the net, and the protagonist in the novel I’m reading having just finished her third suicide attempt (all of them unnecessarily complicated and painful…she should’ve just thrown herself off the roof and left the municipal authorities to clean things up, what did she care?) I was getting a little bit stir crazy. To stop myself from getting into a fistfight with those people who consider bell ringing a fascinating hobby (ooooh! What does THIS pretty button do…?), I decided to take my sneakers out of retirement and hit the road.

Blue, blue Bangalore sky; cooling breeze; new secret paths to discover on a Sunday afternoon. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? In this new spirit of adventure, I struck off on a kuccha road I’d never been through before. Two minutes into my walk a couple of two-feet high children attached themselves to me and proceeded to imitate my walk behind my back. They tired of that soon enough and ran ahead of me screaming ‘akka, akka’. (Note to myself: Does ‘akka’ mean ‘Beautiful stranger’ or ‘Grandma’: look it up.) They were very sweet and I would’ve squeezed their cheeks but for all the snot.

But soon the way they dogged my steps in the empty streets seemed most sinister and I wondered if these miniature thugs concealed any weapons on their pint-sized persons. I accelerated--just a brisk trot, I don’t run away from three year olds-- and decided to stick to the more familiar roads.

Past a pack of belligerent looking dogs lying in the dust of a side alley and I was on the big highway I knew. Much better. I strode purposefully on for a few minutes straight into a thicket of men standing around, scratching their crotches.

“Poor woman” I could hear them think, “she obviously has nothing better to do and no man to be with, look at her wandering around on a Sunday afternoon. Ah well, nothing a quick squeeze to the tushy can’t fix! Let’s see if this Kannada song doesn’t cheer her right up!”

I headed on towards my goal (the bus stop) after doing some nifty footwork to avoid my newfound admirers. Once there, I turned around and headed back for home. “Aah there she is! I KNEW she liked this song!”

By the time I got home the toes on my right foot had curled into a tight ball to stop the chafing against my shoes. (Note to myself: Can one’s right foot grow after its 28th birthday: google it.)

But I was feeling great. My mind was clear, the cabin fever was gone, my blood was circulating, and it was GRRRREAT to be home.