Second class

I generally like to travel by second class. To tell you the truth we travel first class only when Rekha is with me. I know, all this while I have maintained that I preferred the lively atmosphere of the 2nd class to the deafening silence in a 1st class compartment of a train. But that`s not true. Rekha doesn`t give me money for such small luxuries.

Last time I asked her she said: “Why do you spend money on unnecessary things like tickets?”

When I pointed out that the TTE didn`t consider it unnecessary, she stumped me. “Can you please tell me what you did with the ticket to Madurai you bought last time? Isn`t it useless now?”

Even as I begged, she quoted her father. It seems her father would say: “Tickets are like fire extinguishers – a waste of hard earned money….once bought never to be used…till they lose their expiry dates.” Her father`s job required that he travel a lot. She has also told me that for around three months, he had been to Saudi. Perhaps, the TTE had caught him….after all the punishment for ticket-less travel is three months.

As I was saying…and I promise I am saying it from the heart…I love traveling by second class. Today at 6.30 p.m. I will be leaving for Madurai to spend a day with my father….and I will be back with stories on the guy who lost his chappals under the berth, the guy who knocked himself down in the upper berth because he was too tall, the guy who could not sleep on the side-upper berth because he had a huge tummy, the guy who chained his suitcases to the berth… but lost his keys, the guy who bought packed chicken for dinner and spilled it on the berth, and the guy who dropped his mobile in the train loo (that`s me!).

Guys (and gals) brace up for a real second-class article!

Mallika Sherawat who?

In the last few days I have got 591 browsers coming to my blog looking for Mallika Sherawat MMS. Any idea why they came to my Blog?

Perhaps they thought ‘Mallika Sherawat MMS` meant ‘Mallika Sherawat Manages to Marry Somebody.` Who is this Mallika, anyways?


Ten reasons why you need a girl friend

To show-off
I know most of you men out there will agree that girl friends are a little difficult to walk with. I am not referring to their slow gait in tight trousers ..but figuratively. Not many of us actually like to walk on a busy road with a girl friend in tow? But we are forced to do that because of peer pressure. As a 24-year-old gentleman I spoke to last night put it: “Ritesh has one, Prakash has one and even that dud Sunil has one. Won`t I be considered a loser if I don`t have a girl friend?”

To increase bank balance
Rekha would agree to this. Had it not been for Rekha, I wouldn`t have had such a nice bank balance (Rs 107.56 paise) when I got married. I agree that once the marriage is fixed girls don`t contribute much …but before that they come quite handy. To pay credit cards when the bankers come chasing, to pay phone bills when the connections are cut, to pay the rent when the landlord threatens….we all need girl friends. But are these girls doing it for us? No way…instead for their own selfish needs. If the credit card is blocked…she won`t be taken to the restaurant, if the phone connection stays pulled…no late night romantic calls…and if there is no house to go back to…what about those private moments?

To feel wanted on birthdays
If I had no Rekha, I might as well have forgotten my birthdays. For the last five years she is the first person to wish me. But she is also the first person to ask for a treat…and to top it…she has even managed to make my birthday treats two-people affairs. When was the last time I had merry on my birthday evening? I don`t remember. We get birthday cards, gifts, mugs…et all. The thumb rule of birthdays spent with a girl friend is: “The total cost of the gifts will always be less than the cost of the evening dinner.” But having been used to women pampering us all our lives…we don`t mind the cost. What we mind is the settling down and having kids and naming him/her….Akaash/Arpita… so that he/she could be first in the attendance register…kind of talk. Especially on happy days like birthdays.

For emergency back-up
The thing about emergencies is…if they start happening too often they cease to be emergencies. Many a times we men need liquid cash for important things like a can of beer or a movie ticket. We need moral support because the girl we approach happened to be the daughter of the local dada. Or we need to be dropped at the railway station because we have given our bike/car for servicing. If you ask me, we men need to credit the ladies for unstinted support they provide us when we are in trouble. Elders say: Don`t trouble trouble until trouble troubles you. But in this case the trouble itself comes forward to help us.

For use as a digital diary
We men don`t have a good memory. Perhaps that is why we invest so much on our mobile phones. And perhaps, that is why we have no hassles investing in a live digital diary -a girl friend. I am sure there have been many occasions when she has alerted you at the right time. Like when you have to go to wake up and get ready for the interview. Or maybe a medical check-up…or maybe catching a train on Friday evening. A woman`s memory is a yet-to-be-tapped resource. Try it and I am sure you won`t be disappointed. Mind you…memory is a good thing only till marriage….after which good memory for the lady means Saturn-hovering-over-the-head for the gent.

Eyecandy: To add glamour to life
Who doesn`t love to have a lady nearby? I do. The formula one guys do. Sania Mirza`s supporters do. This wouldn`t have been a problem if the ladies didn`t know the secret. Now that it is out in the open we can`t do much about it. Knowing our weakness for glamour…the ladies have started presenting themselves as show pieces. So much so… last survey showed that the number of feminists in India was coming down. Ladies have realized they can get the men to do a whole lot more if they are Eyecandy.

To book tickets
Rekha has done this for me. And I am sure your girl friend has also done this for you. Be it movie, train, bus, theatre, or restaurants….they have booked at all places. Perhaps because the people picking up the phones are more accommodative to a lady`s voice. The good thing about getting your girl friend to book tickets for you is…she finds it cheap to ask for the money…hence uses her own. 😉

Everybody needs a gossip machine
Agreed we men are not gossip machines. But it doesn`t hurt to get a dose of this and that once in a while. Especially, if it is about the escapades of our girl`s pretty friend. It gives us an idea of what chance we stand. The one problem with this requirement is…the phones always run with high bills and are without charge.

As the first-level shock absorber
According to the ladies, men don`t have an eye for colours. I guess…we should start wearing more of beige and pink and peach. But then, without these ladies we would have gone out to the World looking stupid. Without them who will tell us that our zip is not up, our face has an extra dash of Cuticura talcum powder, our shirt goes well with the trouser but has a stain on the wrong hand….

The Tenth Reason
I leave this to you. After all Rekha and Rajan are not the only lady and gent in this World. But knowing the men…. I know what this tenth reason would be!


Traditions for dummies

In my 30-year-old stay in India, I have hosted many foreigners. And on all occasions, I have been tempted to tell stories …ones not true but …ones that make interesting listening. Stories like those narrated to the foreigners by the pan-chewing guides at the gates of Taj Mahal. Or closer still…Mahabalipuram.

As with most things spoken about in this Blog…the tourists are also of two types. There are the tourists from US of A and tourists from the other countries. For a not-so-trained eye all would be the same. But for somebody like me…who has spent his life observing people and their backs (in this case back-packs)…there is a major difference between the two.

For the non-US guy…everything Indian is great and is to be appreciated…but for the US tourist everything Indian is to be seen and laughed at from a distance. We might have exceptions on both sides. My apologies if you don`t agree with me.

Here is a bunch of stories I told a very curious and stiff upper lip American tourist I met in Mahabalipuram. I promise I did not start the conversation…

“Hi There! I am Jack Nicklaus.”

“Hi, I am Jamshed Velayuda Rajan.”

“Nice place this Maamalapuram. Back in our country we have stone carvings…but that is on a huge mountain. We call it Mount Rushmore.”

“I have heard of it. But I don`t think Mount Rushmore is a traditional site. It doesn`t have the magnetism attachéd to Mahabalipuram.”

“What do you mean?” asked the US tourist.

“I mean, each of these stone carvings in Mahabalipuram depicts a story. But Mount Rushmore is just a mountain, where the busts of four Presidents have been carved out.”

“Are you serious? I don`t believe it.” The adamant US tourist burst out.

“Yes sire. We in India have a story behind everything we do. Unlike your country where everything is driven by logic…and hence is a boring.”

“If that is so true pray tell me why the ladies sprinkle water in front of the house everyday? I bet there is no story good enough to justify the hard work, so early in the morning.”

I had to think hard. I needed a story that would sound exciting and yet…believable by US standards.

“You won`t believe this, but hundreds of years back Indians were very peace loving people. They won`t take up arms even against their worst enemies. Because of this non-violence, there emerged another way to express displeasure. Whenever Mr X was upset or angry with Mr Y, Mr X would get up late in the night (around 1-2 a.m.) and walk up to Mr Y`s house…and piss in the front courtyard.”

“You mean piss as in urinating?” The US tourist butted in.

“Yes. The idea was to let Mr Y know that there was some displeasure over his actions. And over a period of time…everybody was pissing on everybody`s courtyard.”

“Must have been quite messy?”

“Yes. But it does feel bad to see your courtyard full piss-marks early in the morning. It is an indicator of the number of people who hate you. Eventually, the ladies in the house decided to sprinkle the whole courtyard with water first thing in the morning…more to cover-up the traces that for anything else. Thus saving some respect for the family.”

“Do you guys still go around pissing in each other`s courtyard?”

“Nope we don`t. All that was stopped the moment we took up arms. But the ladies still sprinkle water in front of their houses…early in the morning.”


I wanted to say, “That`s Indian tradition for you,” but could not, even as I walked away into the sunset.

Marriage & Olympics…

Yesterday London won the right to host the 2012 Olympics. It proves the age-old story that David can slay the Goliath anytime. BTW, did you know that David Beckham led the London bid?

You are probably wondering why I speak of the Olympics on a platform where I lay bare the tortures of a wife called Rekha. You are justified.

In a way Marriage is like Olympics. You first invest everything you got in winning the bid, you then prepare for the actual ceremony, and after the ‘Games` are over you realize that it was not worth the effort.

Let us start from the bidding. While I have always maintained that Rekha begged me to marry her, it was actually I who chased her for close to three years. There were many other contenders (in the case of Olympics…cities) who cried for attention. But because I invested all my earnings and presented my case nicely, I won the bid. Rekha agreed to marry me. Just like how London has now won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

After she agreed, I could not focus on any other girls…for she was always lurking around. Naturally, initial excitement was lost. Just like how the people of London will soon get cured of the Olympics fever.

Meanwhile, I had to start investing in infrastructure. A house, a television, a fridge…basically everything that cost a bomb was necessary to set up a home. Just like how London will now start investing in stadiums, swimming pools, Olympic villages etc.

During this period of heavy investment I got disillusioned. At some point I even wondered if it was all worth the effort. Just like how the people of London will wonder when money from far more important ventures will be moved to the Olympic Fund…to build Olympic infrastructure.

Even before I had set up a home, the marriage date closed in. Just like how the Olympics Authorities will find it difficult to put all infrastructure and processes in place before the Olympics begin.

But then, the date for my marriage was fixed….and as you all can testify…my marriage did happen. It was quite a grand affair…invitations, decorations, ceremonies, spectators…everything that one could think of. Just like how the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics 2012 will be.

And then the Games began. Rajan trying to pip Rekha to the post. Rekha trying to out-do Rajan. Rekha pulling down Rajan from the parents-popularity chart. Rekha setting a World record in non-stop talking. Rajan setting a world-record in being silent and grumpy. There were sprints, throws, jumps, ….all sorts of games. Just like the Games London will host in 2012.

The only difference is in the duration of the Games. In a marriage they last a lifetime. In Olympics they last a fortnight.

But once I am 60 years of age, and if Rekha leaves me alone for a minute (I think by then she would have mastered the art of speaking 120 words/minute) I am bound to wonder if it was all worth the effort….after all, we would be alone…and our house would be empty. Just like how the Organizing committee of the London Olympics will wonder if all that effort was worth it because like all the other Olympic Games, they would have also incurred losses. Not to mention that entire bouquet of stadiums, swimming pools, Olympic villages lying useless.

On second thoughts…I wouldn`t really care for the emptiness, for my kids would have taken wings and will be living a life elsewhere….still thinking of the days they spent with their parents. Just like all those athletes at the London Olympics, who would have taken wings and gone places…but would still be cherishing their Olympic moments at London.

London, way to go!


Chinese Restaurant

Yesterday was Rekha`s birthday. Phew! Am glad it is over – was on my toes the whole day.

As part of the winding up process, I was forced to have dinner at the Wang`s Kitchen (in Velachery). Chinese has never been my cup of tea, though I have heard they serve the best tea.

An Indian opened the door for me. He was dark and had a huge mustache. He did not look Chinese to me. Since when did the Chinese start wearing tika on their forehead?

“Rekha, are we at the right restaurant?”

“Yeah, I have checked. But why do you ask?”

“Just wanted to be sure before we entered. Coz this guy doesn`t seem like a Chinese to me,” I clarified.

She nodded. In my eight months of marriage I have realized that it means she is in the snob mode.

Once inside, we saw some red danglers hanging from the roof and some red, intricately designed dragon free-falls hanging from the walls. I knew this was Oriental, thanks to my taste for Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies. Besides that, there was nothing else.

“What is so Chinese about this place?” I ask Rekha.

“Didn`t you read the name outside? Didn`t it say ‘Wang`s Kitchen – Delightfully Chinese`.”

I did not say another word and we took our table. The problem with these restaurant guys is, the moment they see Rekha and I enter they think we will want to spend the next two hours coochi-cooing in a corner. And invariably, all the guys give us a two-seater in the corner. They don`t realize that when you come out with your wife…you just want to finish your dinner and get the hell out of there.

The menu arrived. I was a little scared. I did not know Chinese…and I knew Rekha did not either. How were we going to converse? Maybe..we could point at the item on the Menu. And take our thumb to our lips, whenever we wanted water. What about napkins? How would we indicate that we wanted new plates? Spoon? …it was a crucible out there.

“Sir, what will you have?”

I looked at Rekha, “That`s not Chinese!”

Rekha pointed at the front page of the Menu and said: “Check it out here…it says ‘Wang`s Kitchen – Delightfully Chinese`.”

I looked around, and realized all the waiters from either from Kerala or Tamil Nadu. As if somebody had warned the Restaurant Administration and a Kerala-Tamil Nadu couple would be coming in to dine. I knew I was being fooled.

I turned away upset and left Rekha to deal with the impersonator. Shortly, our food arrived. I am quite a foodie, but when the whole World gangs up and tries to fool you …there is little you can eat.

If you thought I turned away some good quality Chinese food…I tell you the food they gave us could have been from any of these countries – Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Mangolia, Taiwan, Laos, Philipines, Vietnam – but not from China.

BTW, Rekha had a gala time. And that is what mattered to her.

Stop! Police

We live in an age when pizza gets to your home before the police.
– Jeff Marder

After reading a report on a five year old Policeman in India, I thought we should write a tribute for the policemen (and policewomen). After all, their`s is an un-paid job. Why else do you think they stand on the road, stopping cars and bikes and collecting chanda.

With the policemen busy collecting chanda, today`s World has very little crime. Perhaps, it is also because all of us know that crime is against the law.

It was not always the same. Back then, i.e., before the Police were formed, there was complete chaos. Father-in-laws would rape their daughter-in-laws. Mother-in-laws would burn their daughter-in-laws. Baby girls would be killed. Note the trend of committing crimes on the weaker sex, but we would ignore it for now…as all have done.

Let us get back to the police in this land – the harbinger of peace. Had it not been for the pot-bellied, lazy, rude and filth-speaking policemen (shouldn`t we mention policewomen here also?) we would have been living in chaos. Thanks to these men clad in dirty khaki we live with our head held high, and our tails between our legs. Tails (and not tales) between our legs because we believe in the unwritten law that our parents taught us. And as kids we did not know where to go and erase it – after all it was unwritten law.

When it comes to law there are two kinds of people. Those that believe that there are two kinds of people and those don`t. I know, that sounds stupid…but aren`t most of our laws stupid. If you don`t believe me try following the Imrana rape case.

I met a friend of mine, who had just come out of jail. Here is a conversation I had with him.

“That`s not bad. You are already out in the open.”

“Yes, mate. Had it not been for my lawyer, I would have still been inside the jail,” he replied with a smile whipping across his face.

“Must have been a good lawyer then?”

“Ho yeah…he was quite a digger. With two people working…we could dig the tunnel faster.”

Even before I could react, he had just vanished…I did not know what to do and just walked back home. I guess, the policemen at the jail would have also felt like me.

Gone are the days when the Police would appear on the screen (yes we are talking of movies) after the hero had fought the villains and also tied them to a tree. Now, they don`t appear at all. Or in some case they do appear …but after the movie is over and the credits are scrolling.

Here is a conversation between a speeding driver and a traffic policeman.

Officer: Did you know you were speeding. Where is your license?
Driver: I can’t reach for my license unless you hold my beer.

Officer: Speeding and drunk? Did you know you were traveling 100 kms/hr?

Driver: Wow…you must have done a tremendous job to keep up. Do you sometimes catch yourself for speeding?

Officer: Nope, I am allowed to speed. And anyways, it is a police car…so more safe.

Driver: Anyways, I don`t expect you to be chasing me running. Shucks, before seeing you I thought one had to be in good physical condition to be a police officer.

Officer: I am fit. Just that it has been ages since I left school and sports.

Driver: I agree. I also wanted to be a policeman but then decided to study. Hope you are not going to check my trunk.

Officer: Your trunk? No…but can you help me to my car…all that high-speed chase has made me tired.

Driver: Sure officer. Wouldn`t you want my license?

Officer: No thanks. I already have my own.

The story behind Taj Mahal

I know a few of you will be angry with me for being so rude. But having been married, I guess it is time for me to understand that there is no such thing called love between husband and wife.

If somebody told me that Shah Jahan built Taj Mahal for his lover Mumtaz Mahal…I would readily agree. Now that historians say he built it for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, I don`t buy the story.

I have arrived at this after taking into account my own experiences. The last thing I built for Rekha was neither a railroad nor a ‘River over the Bridge Kwai`. Instead, it was a three-legged stool whose one leg was purposefully made shorter so that Rekha doesn`t get too comfortable sitting on it.

Here are a few things my men friends have come up with, for their wives –

1) Stories (but the ladies are not buying them)
2) Single cots (but the ladies still need the husband`s warmth)
3) Large sized-pillows (They say husbands can never be replaced by pillows)
4) Wooden purses with security combination (but the ladies did not cut down on shopping)
5) Fake credit cards (The ladies never got caught)

You could argue that Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal lived during a period when true love blossomed. But even then, I am sure…it would not have been possible for Shah Jahan to love his wife the same for over 20 years. Perhaps, it was good for Shah Jahan that his wife was not alive when he started building Taj. Otherwise he would have stopped it a hundred times.

Today, wives lose the royalty ten days after honeymoon (I heard some women say…that men lose theirs the day they tie the nuptial knot).

Remember that story about Shah Jahan cutting the thumbs of the craftsmen so that they never create another Taj Mahal? That is all crap. Here is the true story: The day the thumbs were cut, Shah Jahan remembered how one day Mumtaz had refused to serve him dinner. Mumtaz had been on the phone with her mother the whole day long, and hence could not serve dinner for Shah Jahan. This had pissed off the King of the World. Then, he could not do anything…but now that she was dead he could take independent decisions ……so he stopped stopped work at the Taj, and ordered the thumbs of all craftsmen to be cut.

It was not until the next morning that Shah Jahan ordered the work to resume. My guess is, Shah Jahan remembered how his wife served him otherwise (don`t forget that the couple had 14 kids).

Initially, Taj Mahal was supposed to be the tribute to Mumtaz only. But when she died, Shah Jahan decided to combine the five other tributes he was planning to build (for his earlier girl friends) with the Taj Mahal. That is why today, you see one tomb and four minarets. You probably wonder what happened to the fifth girlfriend. That is why the Taj Mahal is built on the banks of river Yamuna…his fifth girl friend`s name was Yamuna.

I know you don`t believe it…but neither do I.