November 28, 2011

Why Spaceman Spiff di?

Umm.. So there seems to be a slight confusion regarding my gender in blogsville. Kinda like the Miss.Chanandler Bong-syndrome. Quite a few people are mistaking me to be a guy, because of my username.

I swear, I’m a girl. Promise! Even though some of my guy-friends refuse to count me as one, because I don’t have too many female characteristics (like shame, for example) in me, I’m very much a girl. You can read this post if you’re not convinced.

So why Spaceman Spiff, seems to be the question most bloggers have asked. Spaceman Spiff is the name of one of the alter egos of Calvin, from Calvin & Hobbes. Now, if you ask me “What is Calvin & Hobbes?”, I will hit you with my green-colour handle-wala broomstick. I swear. So spare yourself that and go Google it if you don’t know.
For those of you who do know, you know how fabulous C&H is, don’t you? Bill Watterson is like, The Best. I first started reading the strips when it used to appear daily in Hindu Metro Plus. Then I just got hooked.

I generally am a comic-lover. I then started collecting the books. I have the e-version too. Now I’m waiting for some benevolent soul to gift me with the Box Set (in case any of you were wondering what to get me for Christmas. Or New Year. Or sankranthi. Or Pongal. Take your pick).

C&H is like a totally different league, altogether. The wisdom that Bill Watterson tries to convey through that little brat is just wonderful. He creates sheer genius in three tiny little panels. And some of them don’t even have any dialogues!

Check out this little gem:-

Calvin and Hobbes are playing out in the yard.
Hobbes: How come we always play war and not peace?
Calvin: Too few role models.

See what I mean?

So why Spaceman Spiff, and why not Calvin, or Tracer Bullet, or Stupendous Man (which are his other alter egos), you ask? Hmm.. maybe because I’m a spaced-out person, and I could identify with the name. I tend to live in a parallel universe. I lose track of a conversation if it doesn’t interest me. I’ll sometimes be on the phone, saying “Hmm..”, “Ha..”, and in my head, I’ll be singing 'Ischool ke tem pe'. I have serious concentration issues. My ex-boss once told me, “You don’t really need anyone else to entertain you, right? You can never get bored. You’re perfectly capable of entertaining yourself.”

Or maybe because I like alliterative phrases. And hello, I couldn’t have made it Spacewoman Spiff, no? That would be blasphemy. But not to worry, my Bluetooth is named Tracer Bullet. :)

So what have we learnt on this fine Monday?

a) I’m a girl (Even though many people have raised that doubt in the past, I never thought the day would come when I would actually have to justify/explain it. :/ Sigh…)


b) I LOVE Calvin & Hobbes.

And since everybody and their uncle are talking about “Why this Kolaveri di”, I’ll also mention it. *insert appropriate mention about the sooper song*

Happy? Run along now. Let me get back to work.

November 24, 2011

The rape of the whore and language

Language is a very very strange thing. Especially Indian languages. Some of the words of a language will be similar to a word that means something else in another language.

I hadn’t really understood the full extent of this until I came to Hyderabad. I got to hear so many words here that would mean something very different, and sometimes scandalous, in another language. Like:-

Reppu- It means ‘tomorrow’ in Telugu. The word of often gets shortened to a very simple and plain ‘rape’. You can imagine my shock when I first reached here and heard everyone says ‘Rape rape’, right? :/

Randi- Hold your dirty mind. Let me first translate. ‘Ra’ in Telugu means ‘Come’. ‘Andi’ is used as a term of respect. So ‘Randi’ loosely translates to ‘Please come’.

Now put (1) and (2) together. Say it out loud.

You get what I’m saying about ‘scandalous’? The first time my friend Arun heard this, “Reppu randi”, he was so shocked, he couldn’t speak for a while, which is a record in itself. Then he thought, “What a disgusting place! They discuss so openly about raping! I have GOT to get to know these people better!” Ok, maybe that last bit is not true.

(In case you haven’t got it yet, ‘Randi’ in Hindi means ‘whore’)

But it didn’t stop there. There were some other gems too.

Palli’ (with the ‘ll’ pronounced like the sound in ‘love’. Malayalam has two different sounds for l, if not more) in Malayalam means ‘lizard’. So I was sitting at the Necklace road station one night, waiting for the MMTS back home. This old man comes with a basket, calling out ‘Palli palli’. For a minute, I thought I had heard him wrong. But no, he was saying ‘Palli’. I was wondering why he was selling lizards. Was it like a popular snack here? When he came closer, I peeped into the basket and saw that it contained groundnuts, because, well, ‘Palli’ in Telugu means ‘groundnuts’. :/

We had all gone for a field trip to Medak from HCU once. We were at this organic restaurant to have dinner. Some of the boys had finished their first round and were calling for the second round. That’s when my friend S, a Jammu ki kudi, heard one of the boys call out “Pappu pappu!” And she was like, “Arre waah, yeh tho waiter ka naam bhi jaanta hai!” (Oh wow, he knows the waiter’s name also!). Oh it was so much fun to explain to her later that ‘Pappu’ in Telugu means ‘Dal’! :D

I still remember the first time I heard my Punjabi neighbour Aunty’s mom ask “Beta kundi lagaya?” and I cringed. You guys know what ‘kundi’ in Malayalam means, right? It means one’s private parts, or as Russell Peters would say it- Punaani. :P I still laugh whenever anyone uses that word in its Hindi context!

I was also very confused the first time I heard people here use the word ‘Gaali’ for no apparent reason in their conversation. It also turned up in songs. And I genuinely couldn’t understand why ‘Abuse’ would be a part of romantic songs! I later learnt that ‘Galli’ means ‘Air’ or ‘Wind’. :/

There’s this song in Telugu that starts with ‘Kuthire Kuthire’ (‘th’ like the sound in ’the’). And I thought, "Oh nice! A song dedicated to horses." Because that’s what it means in Malayalam. I hadn’t seen the video of the song, so I asked a friend whether the video has horses in it as a backdrop or something. With a pained expression, he explained that ‘Kuthire’ in Telugu means ‘Set ho gaya’, or ‘It’s all set’.

Equally confusing was when I heard “Kallu baagundhi” for the first time in Telugu, which translates into “Eyes are nice”. Kallu in malayalam, with the heavy ‘l’ sound and not the one in ‘love’, means toddy. :/

There are so many more such language mishaps that I can’t recollect right now. But let me tell you, each one of them has left me flummoxed and wondering at those people who were just too lazy to create words for each language, so they threw words from one language to another, and expected us to be ok with it.

Have you had any such experiences with languages?

P.S:- I guest-posted for Keirthana. Please do drop in and have a look. :)

November 22, 2011

The one where I like my own status updates

(This post can also be called- *cough*Lame Show-off*cough*)

Sometimes I really miss FB you know. Especially when I can think of one-liners that would be perfect for status updates but too short for a post. At one time, I used to put a lot of thought into coming up with good status updates (good in my opinion, that is). And by good, I don't mean the “Good morning- 50 people like it” kind of good.

Here are some of my favourite status updates, in no particular order. Ok, maybe just the first two.

1) You know it’s time to take a break from the internet when, instead of telling the auto-wala “Bhaiyya, u-turn”, you say “Bhaiyya, youtube.”

2) So is the government absolutely sure that it’s a temple vault? Or was it just another Mallu wedding?

3) Dear Mango,
Summer has arrived. When will you?

Ardent Fan.

4) Dear ATM,
Please start dispensing 10 rupee notes. Don’t you think it’s unreasonable to expect me to withdraw a minimum of Rs.100 when I have only Rs.90 left in my account? Please think about it.

Broke Customer

5) Sometimes, success is something as simple as the fact that your saree stayed on the entire evening.

6) I hte ppl hu typ lyk ths.

7) Is it really just a coincidence that ‘MALE’ is an anagram of ‘LAME’?

8) You can do all the reading you want, learn a lot of good words and even use them in your daily conversations. But when you play Scrabble, all you'll get is cat mat rat aim air sob dog no in an out on. So much for improving your vocabulary. :|

9) (Divya Nambiar) is in a relationship.
With Blogger. And Facebook. And her phone. And her laptop.
Somebody please intervene before she permanently settles down with them.

10) For all the times that I have licked clean the cream from a cream-biscuit and given the biscuit to my mom, she takes revenge on me by eating the egg-white and giving the yolk to me. :/ Sigh...

11) Somehow the charm of a water-proof kajal wears off once you've spent half an hour trying to scrub it off but still end up looking like a raccoon.

12) Criticism that comes with a smile is also known as sarcasm.

13) "I don't want to fall hopelessly in love. I want to be hopeful in love- hopeful of a future with the person I'm in love with, hopeful of a life together, hope of having someone to share my ups and downs,of finding the one who I want to wake up next to every single morning,of being with a person who will love me even through my bad hair days...Why would I want to feel hopeless in love?"

14) One of the sterling examples of the fact that humans, by nature, refuse to accept certain realities:- Pulling on a door that has 'PUSH' written on the handle in bold-all caps-75 point font.

15) To err is human.
To umm and uh is intellectual.

What are some of your favourite status updates? Your own, that is.


I watched Tintin. Sooper fun I had. :) Go watch it!

P.S: Keirthana, I haven't forgotten about your guest post. I just didn't want yet another guest post to be about FB. Sorry. :/ I promise I'll send yours soon.

November 17, 2011

How I got noticed, got followers and got a meaning to life

Exactly seven months ago to this day, on a dull uneventful afternoon at work, I opened a word doc and started writing about an incident that had happened the previous night. I wanted to vent. And clarify certain things.

And that led to “The Essential Mallu food-guide for non-Mallus”.

When I had finished typing out the post, I mailed it to Arun. He read it and said “It’s great!”. And I remember asking “What? You liked it? I thought you wouldn’t like it!” because he’s not the kind who’ll say “It’s great” to everything. And he replied “Arre! How can you decide what I like??” I said that I didn’t feel it was a great piece of writing. Then he made a few suggestions, I made some changes here and there, and finally published it. I also published it as a note on FB.
What followed next left me completely overwhelmed and at a loss for words.

Over the next few days, the note got shared on FB multiple times. I had only learnt the theory of nuclear fission. I saw how it could be applied in real life with this note. My friends shared it, their friends shared it, friends of their friends shared it. Juniors, seniors, classmates, acquaintances, strangers- everyone shared it, and actually made the effort to drop me a message on FB to let me know that it was a kickass piece of writing and that they were looking forward to reading more from me. And like a broken record, I replied “Thank you! :)” to everyone. I didn’t know what else to say! It was just too overwhelming. I was getting friendship requests from all over the place, simply because they loved my writing. That day, I realized that it’s not just the hot girls with model-type profile pics who get fraandship requests from strangers. :p I even came across a family friend who I had heard a lot about but never met! Suddenly, I was that girl who everybody wanted to know and call their friend. It got me believing in the power of the internet.

And then someone asked me whether I have a blog link for the note to share, since not everyone was able to share it on FB because of privacy settings. And so I gave the link to that guy.

My number of followers went up from 11 to 39. In one day. And it kept increasing. Each time I opened blogger, I was thrilled to find that I had got two more followers. And more comments too. I was living in a completely different world. I could not believe that little old me was actually this blogger who everybody liked to read. Ya, it was not like winning the Booker Prize or something, but for me, it was a HUGE deal. Till then, I didn't even know that I could be 'funny', that being funny and sarcastic was my thing.

After that, every post I wrote, I was aware that I had a certain standard to meet. A standard that was set by me. And I had to meet the expectations of all those kind folks who had faith in the writer in me. It was hard. After the initial excitement wore off, I started getting worried. What if I’m not able to write something equally interesting? What if I’m just a one-post wonder? What if they lose interest and don’t read my posts anymore? Will I be able to handle criticism after all the adulation? But I continued writing, because it was the only thing I knew to do. I continued writing, promising myself that I will try to meet not just my readers’, but my own expectations as well. The number of followers increased, I made a conscious effort to write regularly. I formed a circle of friends who I now call ‘My bloggers’ (Yes, mine. I’m a bit selfish that way). And even though no other post of mine has come even close to the popularity level of that post, I know what I’m capable of. I may not be on FB any longer, but some of my posts still get shared there.

As I was sitting in office today, wondering what is wrong with me, why I’m not able to write, why I’m not able to come up with anything worth reading, why the block refuses to go away, where my muse has taken off to, I opened the very same post to read. And saw the date. And it was exactly seven months ago that I had written that.

Reading that again, it restored my faith. That I will be able to write again. That even though there is a lull now, I will eventually get back to my old self. That the person who wrote the ‘Essential Mallu Food guide for non-mallus’ has not gone anywhere. She’s still alive, maybe not kicking because of various factors, but alive nonetheless.

Yup, I’ll be back. Meanwhile, please don’t write me off.

November 15, 2011

I'm not twenty-four- A review

“There are two types of stories. One, where you sit up and say “This is so me.” Second, when a story takes you to a world you would hardly believe exists.”

Saumya Kapoor’s story is of the latter kind, says Sachin Garg, author of I’m not Twenty Four...I've been nineteen for five years. It chronicles the experiences of city-girl Saumya, who, ‘cursed’ with a unisex name, lands up in the god-forsaken village of Toranagallu because she was mistaken to be a boy by the HR team of Lala Steel, her employer (and her first ever job).

So go to Toranagllu she does, after a lot of whining, denial, and finally acceptance. Once she reaches there, she realizes that having a unisex name is the least of her problems. Toranagallu is a village with no coffee shops, multiplexes or good-looking eye candy. She also realizes that all the crazy shopping she did during her last two days in Delhi were a complete waste, because she has to wear a uniform, like the rest of the employees at the company! Worst of all, she has to work in the Safety Department of the company. So she has to come to terms with seeing severe acid-burns, severed limbs, and all sorts of hazards. She almost runs away, but then decides to stick it out, because she doesn’t want to be known as the city-girl who quit. Also add to this a romantic angle with the intriguing and mysterious, gypsy-like Shubhrodeep Shyamchaudhary, and that’s I’m not twenty four for you.

Ok, now for the review. The story is good. By now, we have had thousands of MBA graduates churning out books by the dozen with pretty much the same story- hero/heroine, life in B-school, corporate life, good/bad boss, stroke of inspiration, girlfriend/boyfriend etc. I was starting to wonder whether simply joining for an MBA would ensure that I would eventually write a book somehow or the other. (Is ‘writing’ one of the courses they teach in the MBA course? Genuine doubt). Sachin Garg manages to take a slightly different route, thankfully. Yes, essentially, it is still about an MBA graduate and her job, but the job and the atmosphere here are very different. He takes us out of the plush AC offices and into a steel plant in a tiny little village. He describes a world that is very difficult for many of us to fathom (just as he’s promised in the synopsis).

He hasn’t cluttered up the narrative with too many characters and sub-plots. He has kept it simple. Also, the USP of the book is that it is written from a girl’s point of view, i.e., Soumya’s. I’m not sure if he has done complete justice to it, but yes, a decent job.

But, just as how at the heart of every Bollywood movie is a love-story, at heart, I’m still a Grammar Nazi. And the Grammar Nazi in me was very very VERY disappointed with the typos and grammar mistakes. Were the editors watching Bigg Boss while editing this?? At one place, he’s written ‘shows’ for ‘shoes’- TWICE! And ‘struck’ for ‘stuck’. These were just a couple of the mistakes. I was somehow not very impressed with the language. The words just did not jump out of the pages and grab my eyeballs, if you know what I mean. You don’t? Ah well… I’m not saying you have to write in flowery language to be labeled a good writer, but they did not have an impact.

So yes, while I liked the basic story and the narrative, the ordinary (for lack of a stronger word) language and poor editing kinda put me off. Over all, I would give it 2.5/5. Go for it if you aren’t a Grammar Nazi like me.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

November 10, 2011

The hippo breaks her silence

You know what’s the problem with having been thin all your life?

When you put on even a bit of weight, everyone gets shocked. They can’t digest it. They think something’s wrong with you.

Yup, that’s exactly what I’m going through now. Or rather, that’s what I’m being subjected to now.

When I went home in September, everyone, starting from the maid in my house to my neighbours, my friends to my dad’s friends, had only one question- “You’ve put on weight! What happened?!”

What do you mean, what happened? Biryani happened! Kebabs happened. Haleem happened! Cheesy pastas happened! My own cooking experiments involving generous amounts of ghee and cheese happened! Growing up happened! And also a bit of lack of exercise and some laziness. But those are just minor details.

Amma and Acha were happy to see a bit of flesh on me, especially Amma. She was delighted. And she tried to stuff me with more rice and fish. But I had heard so much of “You’ve put on weight” that I was scared to eat anymore. No one was actually calling me fat. They said that it was good weight, but they ended their sentences like this- “ You’re looking good, but don’t put on more weight.” :/ By the end of the trip, I was feeling like a hippo. It doesn’t at all help that I’m short and hence tend to look like a extra chubby if I put on weight. One friend even said I look beefy. :(

And yesterday I happened to go to my old office, Red FM. After they managed to close their open mouths after five full minutes, I got to hear some more of “What’s happened to you?!” But in their defense, the last time they saw me, even though I was only a bit thinner, my hair was longer and I was wearing specs. So I looked like a completely different person.

So from a girl who was so skinny, people thought her parents starved her, I’ve become the girl with sumo-wrestler arms and tomato-cheeks.

From a girl who laughed out loud at the mere mention of a diet, I’ve become the girl who thinks twice about eating Biryani.

From the girl who couldn’t imagine a meal that did not include rice, I have become the girl who doesn’t mind not eating rice for days together.

From a girl who used to obsess (and secretly rejoice) that her weight never hit 50, I’ve become the girl who whines when she sees the scales tipping towards 52.5.

From the girl who used to confidently buy any type of clothes because nothing used to look vulgar on her, I’ve become the girl who only picks out clothes that hide her figure.

From the girl who used to complain that even XS size is big for her sometimes, I’ve become the girl who has resigned herself to buying Medium sized clothing.

I know exercising is an option, but I’m yet to convince myself to do that. Right now I’m dealing with the wallowing-in-self-pity part of it.

And you know what’s the worst part? When I get depressed, I eat. :/ So it's like a vicious cycle. Eat-put on weight-people notice and comment-get depressed- and that'll bring us back to eat eat eat eat!

Nobody says “Hi,how’re you?” to me these days. It’s “Hi, you’ve put on weight!”

Yes, I KNOW that, dammit!!!


Do you like sambar? Then you should definitely check out this post!

November 6, 2011

The things money can't buy

A quarter bottle of Old Monk rum- 122 bucks

A small bottle of Pepsi to have with the rum- 25 bucks

Water to go with it- 12 bucks.

Expressions on the faces of the over-the-hill uncles and just-hit puberty boys at the liquor store (a palatial one at that) watching two girls animatedly walking around the store and discussing what to buy, picking up bottles, considering them, finally deciding on one and confidently paying the bill, meeting the cashier uncle in the eye- PRICELESS.

November 4, 2011

The phallic (il)logic

There's a school very close to my house. It's a popular school franchise, with branches all over India. This particular branch has a pretty small compound and the building has a Shivalingam on the roof- a HUGE one.

Me and my roomie Hosku(No, that's not her real name) were returning home tonight. When we passed the school, having studied in a school, college and university with HUMONGOUS campuses, I remarked:-

Me: How can you have a school with such a small campus??!

Hosku: How can you have a school with a penis on its roof?


November 3, 2011

Eskoos me

Urban dictionary describes Blah as a word used in an after-sentence, when no one is talking, or when a person has nothing else to say.

Use in a sentence:-
I'm in a very blah mood these days. I don't feel like writing. Or reading. I open other blogs, read halfway, and close the page. I don't leave kilometre-long comments. I haven't updated my blog in almost a week.I can't think of anything even remotely interesting to post. I have about three-four half-done posts in my drafts, victims of my laziness and lack of concentration. In spite of having a holiday yesterday.

So ya, BLAH.

But then, just like a donkey sometimes needs a kick to start working, so do I (No connection whatsoever, I swear). I got some from PeeVee and Kalpak. Thanks, you both. The fact that there are people waiting to read what I write was the kick I needed.

But even then, I'm not in the mood to write anything new. I racked my brains, then raided my drafts.

I had written this post a few months back, but never published it. Now that I'm not on FB anymore (Yes!! More than a month and I'm still off it!), it really doesn't apply to me anymore, but at one time, it did. And I'm sure it still does to a lot of people. Some are from personal experience, some from observation.

So here it is. Add on if you have more.

You know you’ve got to take a break from the internet and your mobile when...:-

1) …instead of telling the auto-driver “Bhaiyya, u-turn”, you say, “Bhaiyya, youtube”. (I swear, I said this to the autowala. I'm not exaggerating.)

2) …your dreams become very specific. Instead of random visions, you see little thumbs-up’s, numbers followed by ‘friends like your status’, etc. (Kalpak, this is not exaggeration. Mereko sacchi mein aise sapne aate the, especially the day I had put up a new status update. And then I would wake up in the middle of the night and log onto FB. Teri kasam. :P)

3) …you have a brand new expensive watch on your wrist, but still take out your phone to check the time.

4) …there is a literal itch in your fingers to log onto the net every two minutes.

5) …you don’t have money to buy rice and vegetables, because you thought it’s more important to get your SMS and internet recharge done.

6) …you don’t throw a hissy fit when your mom tells you that your favourite white top is now yellow-blue-purple in colour because the maid washed it along with another dress that runs colour. But you sulk for hours if you’ve got only ten likes on your status or photo.

7) …you think the internet can give you a better recipe for cake than your mom can.

8) …even when you’re out having a coffee or at a movie with friends, you need to log on and check how many of your Facebook friends liked and commented on your status update.

9) …you would rather say LOL and ROFL than actually laugh out loud and roll on the floor and laugh.

10) …you keep alarm to wake up in the middle of the night and check whether your torrents have finished downloading, and then queue up a new one.

11) …you are constantly on the lookout for things that you can write about in your blog or put up as a status update.

12) …you’re on the net the whole day in office. On your way back home, you log on to the net from your phone, you know, just as a time pass while the bus is stuck in traffic. You come back home and you switch on your laptop and net even before you have a sip of water. Just before you go to sleep, you log on for one last time from your phone. What if something new has happened in the last one five minutes?!

13) …there is a voice at the back of your head that’s been telling you to give it a break, but you ignore it, justifying that the internet is a treasure trove of information, when all you do the whole day is Facebook and read blogs and play online games.

14) …you almost fell into a ditch and escaped walking headlong into a tree because you were busy chatting on your phone.

15) …you didn’t even hear the abuses hurled at you by drivers who spilt coffee on their shirts while putting a sudden brake to avoid ramming into the girl who was replying to a message while crossing the road.

So as I was saying, blah blah blah, blah, blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah, blah.