Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mumbai Locals!!!

Yeah, there it is.

It’s coming very fast.

It’s come, attack now.

Dhum!! Dhadaak!! Punch, slap, kick!!

Aaaahhhhh!!!! (Sigh of deep relief)

No, I am not talking about war scene of a bollywood movie or how some goons were waiting for their target and bashed them up as soon as the target arrived.

I am talking about how my day starts. I am talking about the famous yet the notorious, the pride of Mumbai yet the plight of Mumbaikar, the Mumbai Locals.

There are two kinds of people on this planet – ones who know about Mumbai Locals and ones who don’t. The second type lives in the jungles of Africa hence will not read this post. For the benefit of first type, this is the route (in red) I follow everyday to reach my office. Obviously, the reverse of it used to reach home from office.

There are two kinds of people among the first kind – those who live in Mumbai and those who don’t. For the second kind, they live in villages (For a Mumbaikar, everything but for Mumbai is a village). The first kind forms the one and only urban society in this country.

There are two kinds of people who live in Mumbai – those who travel by Mumbai locals and those who don’t. Those who don’t, they actually never travel because during rains, everyone is strongly are advised to stay inside due to flooding on streets and when it’s not raining, you are admonished by the traffic which is definitely faster than the rate at which flyovers are built in the city.

And the last of two kinds are– those who rest their bottoms on seats and those who just cannot.

The biggest worry for a Mumbaikar is not the soaring inflation or the bomb threats or the killer rains or anything more lethal but its just one – shall I get a place in the local or not. And he will do anything to get his bottoms rested, anything.

For example, a train running from Churchgate to Borivali follows the following route (i.e. after passing major part of the route) Andheri-Jogeshwari-Goregaon-Malad-Kandivali-Borivali. Then it returns to Churchgate. For someone like me who boards the starting train from Borivali, life should be a cake walk because I take it from the originating station. Instead, for the first few weeks, I always wondered why I could hardly manage to walk my way through inside the train. I was always standing on one foot fighting for breath. Hence once I asked an old man who was comfortably sitting

“Uncle, how come do you get a seat?”

“I board the train at Malad” a winning smile was all over his face blinded by moustache.

“Oh, so if I board the train from Malad, I can get a seat”

“Not necessarily, but if you board the train from Goregaon, you will surely get a place to sit” damn, what if people start boarding from Churchgate?

“Uncle, but Malad to Borivali is minimum 10 minutes. Train stops at Borivali for another 10 minutes before starting again. Don’t you think you are wasting at least 20 minutes?” I have always been an analyst.

Instead of replying he simply dozed off whereas I kept standing on one foot for next 45 minutes. Speech is silver, silence is gold is what someone said.

But even with wasting 20 minutes or rather investing, returns could be enormous. Imagine your boss is also travelling in the same compartment and fighting for breath as he boards from Malad while train is going to Churchgate where as you are snoring in your seat at 140 decibels. And when both of you meet at the station, you can surely crib “Sir, Mumbai locals are such a pain” In train, the one with the chair is the boss. For one hour or more, he lives life king-size where as others just live to survive or vice-versa. It is such a fantastic example of capitalist society in a democracy.

If there are such lazy butts thirsty for rest, there are some daring Tarzans also who always prefer to hang at the door even if the entire compartment is filled with nothing but, well air.

Trains are great social levellers also. Person to your right might earning five times as you do and the person to your left might be earning one fifth what you earn but, you all share the same pain, the same air and by the time you reach your destination, same body odour also. Either you get to learn about different deodorants from really close quarters or you realize why deodorant must be made mandatory for all citizens by GOI.

Trains also reflect social status. In Mumbai, people might sometimes judge your take home salary from the station you board the train. Be careful while asking about the station from which someone boards the train. If he does so from Bandra and you ask “Do you take the staring train from Borivali?” It’s riskier than asking a female sitting next to you in office “Are they completely real?” You know what I mean.

Trains change your attitude towards certain things in life. Even while boarding an outstation train where I have a reserved seat, I instinctively feel like jumping into it as soon as it arrives. Learning – you need not jump every time an opportunity arrives; sometimes you should wait for it to come to you also. When sitting in a car, I always try to hold onto something although no one is going to push me. Learning – if life becomes easy sometimes, take it easy. But the biggest learning is of nirvana. Every time you finish the journey and get down, just one thought momentarily surrounds your mind – no matter how much trouble one had during the journey, at the end of it everyone reaches his destination station. New travellers board the train and new journey starts. But the thought leaves you mind very next moment when you realize if you don’t walk fast enough, you might get stuck in the crowd at the platform. If you get stuck there, you may not get the auto rickshaw or miss your bus. You must reach home in time, eat and sleep just to get up early next morning to catch the train. Life becomes more of a conveyer belt and you the Pepsi can – who gets different shapes at different moulding stations, gets used, becomes garbage, is recycled and comes back to same conveyer belt.

- To be continued

Monday, July 28, 2008

The blame game!!!

The best part about google news is – it accumulates all kinds of news without any geography bias, area of interest bias or intellectual bias. The news might not be as timely or relevant as on some other news specific sites but the accumulation does manage to cover the plethora of news. Sometimes you bump into some news article which you would not have read otherwise like this one - Are you overweight? Blame your friends

To avoid your trouble of going through the entire page, this entire article says is – in case you think you have some extra KGs of flesh at wrong places, look for your friends having same plight and blame them for your overburden. After all, it’s the company one keeps which shapes him.

All my life I have always wondered the existence of this problem, being overweight. I have always been on the other side but entirely alone. All my friends have always been on the other side ridiculing me, I have always laughed at them knowing they envy superhuman metabolics of my body.

Coming back to the study, it says

People are influenced by the weight of those around them without being aware of it, leading to a "spiral of obesity".

Hence the only way to get out of this vicious cycle is, leave your fat friends and come in the slim company of someone like, yours truly. Someone must have done this study ages ago and shared it with the un-fairer sex, men. Now I realized why the fairer sex was never interested in my company. Not that the females thought they were clearly out of this vicious cycle – every female thinks she has some extra flesh at wrong places. It is because that very someone deprived the fairer sex of this vital information. Damn, it’s not only gender bias but someone has always been conspiring against me.

It further says

Using data on 27,000 Europeans from 29 countries, the researchers find that nearly half of European women feel overweight.

Does it mean more than half of European women feel they are either right-weight or underweight? Existence of the first type is as unlikely as a lack of news on IndiaTV. Existence of second type is as unlikely as sensible news on IndiaTV. All it means that more than half European women are overweight which completes the pie in one color. And we Indians, complaining of disfigured Indian beauties, go to Goa in search of 34-26-34 white skinny beauties clad in a two piece bikini just to wait for the change over time.

Overall, the researchers believe that a person’s "utility" (an economic term roughly meaning satisfaction levels) depends on their own weight relative to the weight of those around them. They suggest that it is easier to be fat in a society that is fat.

Now I realize why England keeps relying in so many “utility” cricketers like Mark Ilham or Robert Croft. Mike Gatting would have wanted them to give some obese comfort from the company surrounding him. For those who may not remember, he was the very same English player to complain of terrible treatment given to visiting teams in India when he was food poisoned due to “poor quality of prawns which were picked from Chennai gutters” in England’s tour to India in 1993. Hotel staff, when questioned about the quality of food, told that Gatting looked like a hungry kid who was eating as if they don’t feed him at all in his home.

However, the authors also found a significant gender split. Females were much more prone, for any given BMI value, to feel overweight.

Precisely, but why do you need a survey based research to prove that how many people think that Himesh Bhai has artificial hair (on his head i.e., rest could well be real but I am not interested), Ajit Agarkar has always been India’s best potential all rounder (Just that potential has always been, well potential), Noida Police is the most imaginatively intelligent Police in the world (In fact they should be signed by Abbas-Mastan for some original thriller stories) or Mayavati is the best possible prime ministerial candidate available ( I have never ever so desperately wished for my country – “definitely not the best wishes). These are gospel truths.One does not need a research to prove them. Anyhow, when was the last time a female asking you about her figure said – “Hey, don’t you think I have become really slim? May be I should eat a bit more.”

Professor Andrew Oswald at the University of Warwick, one of the researchers, says

Consumption of calories has gone up but that does not tell us why people are eating more. Some have argued that obesity has been produced by cheaper food, but if fatness is a response to greater purchasing power, why do we routinely observe that rich people are thinner than poor people?

Assuming Professor Oswald would love to find a global fit for the patterns he has researched; let’s try fitting it in India. Perhaps he hasn’t seen the affluent Gujju uncles taking to royal rides in Mumbai locals (in Mumbai, being affluent doesn’t mean you can avoid the royal rides, you need to be super-opulent) who carry tyres around their waists which are as heavy as my entire body. Or he would need to be shown rickshaw-pullers or the laborers on a construction sites who have perfectly fit bodies.

How many rickshaw-pullers or labors or washer men or fishers have you seen who would fall in overweight category, leave aside obese? Primarily, weight is a function of how much you intake and how much you offload. Yeah there could be other health reasons but they form a smaller part of the reasons. Such researches are a mean to earn one’s intake and generally generate a lot of offload. All most none of my friends are completely happy with their jobs. May be next research will reveal that education leads to job dissatisfaction.

P.S.: To all my overweight friends (actually all of them are) – read this article. I am your true friend to inspire towards a healthier life. Please pay my fee.

P.S. again: The article may mean differently also but I tried to make fun of this research without thoroughly reading it. After all, it’s my blog and I will do what I want.

Last P.S.: Okay, enough of P.S. No more now.



Saturday, July 26, 2008

Beliefs!!!

Some events can shatter your existing beliefs. Some can restore them. But these events make you believe that even impossible is possible.

I came across such an incident last night that some of new beliefs have been established.

  • I now truly believe that Mr. Amar Singh is a gift to mankind from the God of morality and he would never make any derogatory statement against Sonia Gandhi even in his wildest of imaginations.
  • Amar Singh should be made the finance minister because among this chaos of economic slowdown, only he knows how to bring down the inflation to single figures.
  • Mayavati is the best suited candidate for the post of Prime Minister. Even one of India’s better CMs endorses this fact.
  • BJP actually proved its honesty in parliament by flashing the bundle of notes. BJP has never ever indulged in MP trading.
  • When Amir Sohail says that Pakistan is leading a war against terrorism, he is not drunk.
  • Sourav Ganguly is the fittest Indian cricketer.
  • All the claims of India TV that aliens regularly peep into your neighbour’s daughter’s bedroom where you so desperately want to peep are, correct. Even the photographs shown are real.
  • Mika-Rakhi Sawant kissing was completely natural and not staged by any means.

There are many more. But all this happened as soon as I came across this. In case you are too lazy to click on this link, this link takes you to a page called Tusshar's Fan Club. Yes, it does exist. You would tend to think that the page is an attempt at sarcasm and is a prank but the page which leads to the fan club page looks a bit too hard worked to be a prank.

Hence my conclusion is - this does exist in reality. After all who can forget his terrific acting in “Gayab” especially in the second half when he becomes invisible?


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Can someone explain it to me???

Tomorrow is the D-Day which will decide if Dr. Manmohan Singh will join the elite list of – Charan Singh, V.P.Singh, Atal Vihari Bajpai or not. Tomorrow will be the battle of most abused word in our democracy – “vote” i.e. a vote of confidence being carried out by true representatives of Indian public. Tomorrow will be the battle of parliamentary speeches, achievements singings, non-achievements bashings, a nail-biting finish and could well be a bloodbath. Amidst all this, with my very little knowledge of Indian constitution, I have a few innocent doubts

· In February 2008, a special CBI court convicted Pappu Yadav in the Ajit Sarkar murder case to life imprisonment which he is currently serving. Obviously, Indian judiciary system doesn’t think him fit enough to be roaming around in the free society where we live. But Delhi high court has allowed him to take part him trust vote in Parliament tomorrow. Which means that the judiciary system of the same country thinks him to be fit enough to cast a vote deciding the government to be ruling the same free society which he is not fit enough to be a part of?

o Court ruling came in 2008, years after he earned the right to cast the deciding vote. May be we believe in not denying anyone his/her voting rights - be it a proven-by-court criminal.

· Even before the first doubt, why should the candidature of an MP not be cancelled/ suspended as soon as he is convicted by a court for a criminal offence as severe as murder?

o Democracy is run by majority in picture and not by logic. Majority in picture is the parliament which can bring constitutional amendments. With significant part of its members belonging to the strata in discussion, only either a retired politician would talk about such ethnic purification or you and I.

· I vote for a candidate X because he belongs to the party A which is the strongest bet against the party I really hate – party B. Party B wins and is required to prove its majority. X forms his own mini party just before the confidence/ no confidence vote and starts supporting Party B. Reason – economical sugar coated by political ethics. Is it not breach of trust of its voters? In our democratic system, you supposed to vote for parties not for a candidate. Later may well happen but it’s the parties which form a government. Such party switch defies the basic assumption of constitution.

o Voting for your candidate means putting all your trust in his abilities to function inside the parliament. Hence just shut up and let him work the way he wants. After all, its economics which keeps the world ticking.

· As per Article 105(2) of the Constitution, no MP shall be liable to any court proceedings in respect of "anything said or any vote given by him in Parliament." Which means I can take a bribe, cast my vote and go enjoy my Jacuzzi in my jail because one cannot sue me saying INR 50 crore were illegally transferred in my Bank of Balia account? Even if you sue me, I would happily say that I sold my vote for this amount and it’s not a criminal offence. Soon after that I will file a defamation suit against you and earn some more money. Yeah in case I do not cast my vote, it becomes an offence.

o No one is above the law. Just those who make the law are above it. Anyhow, this law makes them answerable to something at least – for casting their vote.

· As per this link, you can contest an election from a jail and become member of Parliament/ Assemblies but cannot cast your own vote. I could never ever understand the logic.

o Every criminal has some leadership qualities because he leads others into a new domain of life – from his group members to the victims to the court to the media to the.... We welcome leaders. A criminal cannot be trusted for making right choices as he himself makes wrong choice of indulging into a crime. We surely cannot trust him to choose the government.

There are a few more I can think of. There would be many more I cannot think of. Anyhow, lets pray for the safety of those inside the building which has will be sold tonight numerous times as it is printed on green papers.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!!!

It is a secret about me that only giants of the business world know i.e. ICICI, Airtel, LIC, IBM, Shoppers Stop etc. It’s my official birthday today and I am still far away from that lethal number 30.

There used to be a trend in my family – to register the official birthday of the child at least a year after his actual birthday. This helps in giving more number of attempts for government jobs as you touch the age limit later than you should – at least this was the belief. What I could never understand was what about starting late? My grand father kept my father younger by two years on papers. Once my father nearly got a government job, this I was told, but his papers told his age couple of years lesser than the eligible age. He never got a second chance after that.

Anyhow, this did not stop my parents from keeping me younger by almost a year on paper. Birth registration phenomena was not as strong as these days. It was all about registering the DOB at school which happened to continue in future. So, do not blame me and file a 420 suit against me. I wish they were more visionary and changed my caste instead. Anyhow, little did they know I would be working in the modern corporate world where the career path would be downhill? I was a consultant in my first job (post MBA), than a Senior Analyst and now an analyst. The reason I am not looking for a change even after 10 months is that I don’t want to be a junior analyst in my next jump.

Two things to have given me the biggest trouble are associated with my birth – my date of birth and my name.

You have to tell your date of birth for all official matters and I keep getting confused about which one I told who. You have to tell you name in all official as well as non official matters and things don’t help much if you have an uncommon name. Trouble is more in case of call centers as you require both of them at the same time.

“Sir, for identification checking, can I have your DOB?” asked a female from a call center.

“Its 9-9-XX” I replied.

“Sorry sir, it doesn’t match”.

“Okay than it must be the other one”.

“Sir, does it mean you have two DOBs” it came before I could finish.

“Yeah, actually” I tried to break into the conversation.

“That means you were born twice” was she throwing the ball in my court to….

“Well, I am a common man. I die every day, I…” thoughtfulness impresses women, I was told by someone.

“Sir, may I have your DOB please?” my lines were again cut short.

“Its 7-7-XX.”

“I am sorry sir, this does not match either. Please get back to us with correct DOB. Thank you for calling XXXXX”

I was worryingly surprised as both of these dates did not match with the data they had. Later I came to know that some intelligent soul had taken my pains seriously and put the average of these two dates as my DOB in the papers i.e. 8th august, average of 7th July and 9th September.

Name has been another fiasco. It’s so uncommon that till now I have met only two more people with this name – one was in 6th year of his 4 year b tech course in IIT K and other was running a cab in Kolkata. It’s difficult to pronounce – I cannot do it myself. After years of confusion, I have stopped telling new people (esp. call center) my name, I tell them its spelling.

It has been mostly like

“Sir, can I have your name?” asked a female at a call center.

“Vibhash”

“Yeah Mr. Vikash”

“It’s Vibhash!!!”

“Prabhash?”

“VIBHASH!!!”

“Haridash?”

“VIBHASH!!! V for vindictive, I for insane, B for bitter, H for horny, A for avenger, S for sadist, H for horny. Got it? It’s double H, double horny” I said in one single breath.

Obviously, it happened only in the devil’s workshop of my empty mind. I didn’t even know so many words till I went to google. It generally happens like “Sir, can you spell it?

“Yeah V, V for…hmmmm” my vocabulary has always been poor.

“Victory”, she says. And it continues.

Then the name goes down in the database depending upon the call rep’s origin – if it’s a bong, she puts it as Bibhash as bongs have always preferred B over V/W. They always bhander (Wander) in the bheranda (Veranda). If it’s a south Indian, H gets misplaced and its ends up like Vi’Bash’.

Anyhow, folks, it’s my official birthday. Call me, sms me, send me cards, send me gifts but not like ICICI. They always offer me fresh loans at 15%.