Friday, October 23, 2009

Oye, extra pen hai kya?

I was absent mindedly scanning my Facebook home page (in the hope that some chick digged my snaps and would ask me out) when I saw a group-“Oye, Extra pen hai kya?”
Now I am not one of those folks high on nostalgia. My kinda guys don’t think too much about the past; they learn from them and forget it. However, this innocent little line brought back fond memories. Many, many of them.
Ah, school days! No train travel (My school was 5 blocks away. Hmmm, I used the term “blocks”. Why?), no appraisal worries, and certainly no recession woes!
I was always messy. I would come home with the dirtiest of uniforms. I remember, just recently, my friend remarked that she had a stinking suspicion her daughter wiped the school floor with her uniform- it got that dirty! Well, I was those kinds. I had to get messy. Ink blots, food stains, dirt and blood, the whole nine yards. Mum wasn’t too nice when I turned up that way and rightly so. I was a runt, and I admit it.
This had led me to use gel pens early in my schooling. Heck, at least they weren’t as messy as your regular fountain pens. The problem with gel pens was their cost. I wasn’t the stealing kinds, but I sure as hell was the losing kinds. Hence, I was -mostly on exam days- without pens.
I was always asking around for pens. There were some who sniggered at my predicament. There were some who gave me a stone faced lecture on how to be more responsible, in their own supposedly mature way, the way only kids can. But they never leant me one. There were also some who would lie that they didn’t have an extra one on them. They were either preparing for a political career, or were selfish but polite enough to lie, so as not to hurt my feelings. I have no grouse against them all. I must have been worse to them that brought on such behavior.
But then, there were some who slapped their forehead, abused me, and told me”Saala, tera hamesha ka natak hai! Kab sudherega tu?” But they always carried an extra pair, and they always wished me all the best.
They knew I was the kinds; “saala kabhi nahin sudharega”. They always tried to correct me where I was wrong, but they never left my side even when I was. Not surprisingly, after 16 long years, they are still my friends. My best friends. My brothers from different mothers. And I still go to them for favours. And I have never once been sniggered at, shot back at, been lied to. And as for me, what can I do? “Saala main kabhi nahin sudharoonga!”

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Enterprising Gujaratis

The first thought that came into my mind when I reached Ahmedabad as a ten year old was, “Dang it’s hot!” Had it been the winters there, it would have been. “Brr, it’s cold!”

After being born and brought up in Mumbai for a good ten years, it was tough for me (and for my parents to convince me) to leave all my friends and shift to Gujarat-a place smaller than my Maharashtra on the map. It took me sometime to get used to the laid back attitude, and the snails pace at which the city moved (Mind you, all of this at Ten.) but I soon came around it. I had 5 playgrounds at my school, a personal bench, Asia’s largest club a stones throw away from our Bungalow (Another luxury one cannot afford at Bombay. Hey, it was Bombay then!), and a tutor for swimming, dances and skating. Those were the good ol’ days. Fond memories.

I am back into the Indian city that never sleeps, and have settled quite nicely into the madness. But I will never forget Amdavad. Not only for the great garbas, and the club facilities, but for the lessons I learnt from the jovial but enterprising Gujaratis. The kin of arguably the greatest businessman the world has ever seen, Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani.

They are sweet people, very accommodating, and very helpful. And they are the most enterprising people I have ever seen. I remember when I was young, I used to pester dad for ‘meetha paan’ every now and then. This particular guy used to make delicious ones, and it was our favorite paan joint. He had started off with a small shop, and now owns quite a few air conditioned shops selling paan all around Ahmedabad. The old blighter has kind of retired, and his sons manage his shops. One is an MBA.

I know of this most recent information as I had recently visited the place, and had fancied the good ol’ paan. Yes, now the yearning for meetha paan has been replaced by the more mature Sadha cousin of its. I was shocked to see the old place swarmed with people. Some in the fancy cars, some with families, and some swiping credit cards! Credit cards at a paan shop?

There are many rags to riches stories everywhere around the world, I’ll be the first one to admit to that, but this is where the enterprising bit comes into picture.

I remember their father doubling up the paan shop as a real estate shop too. He would always inquire about who wanted to buy or sell what. It became kind of like a chain. People who wanted to have a paan got information about the property rates, and people who wanted ‘real’ info of the latest rates had some of the delicious paan.

His children have taken it a step further and have opened a recruitment agency which caters to so many of the big companies. The MD’s and the CEO’s come there for paan, and tell the owners about possible vacancies, which is passed on to their other customers.

I was amazed at such enterprise. And although I couldn’t meet the old guy who started this, I salute him, because many people buy a paan, sell a paan and eat it. But I know a very few who have made it into a business, nay an enterprise which generates so much of money and good will.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Snoring: The sleep killer.

My dad recently told me, ever so sweetly and innocently, “Son, after mum’s death, you are my sleeping partner.” Tears welled up my eyes. We are like college roomies, or working professionals who share a room, a bed, and their life. A few months before mum went to meet her maker, she kept ill. My dad used to wake up multiple times at night to ensure that she was fine, comfortable, and breathing. He wakes up each night and lovingly ensures that I am comfortable and well. I love him for that.
However, he snores-very noisily at that. My, he could wake up a soldier on a ton of morphine, I kid you not. It is getting worse by each passing day. In this insanely competitive world, you can’t justify your lack of productivity owing to lack of sleep due to his roaring at night. I have even contemplated marriage for slinking out of sleeping with him- it is that loud. Why else would I be writing this at 2 am when I should be sound asleep?
I get dog tired, each day, and sleep by 11:00 pm. The tiredness comes from travelling in the maddeningly crowded Mumbai locals and my newfound vigor to lose weight; and hence exercising religiously each day. Yet, sleep has been evading me for almost a week now. Yes, I could sleep in some other room- I live in a very spacious apartment. But the room we share for the night is the only one with air-conditioning. Being used to that and the fear of offending him has stopped me from trying to sleep in the other bedroom. Two people living in a 5 room apartment should sleep together, no? One teds to get lonely if sleeping alone. I have decided to bunk with him till I get married, come what may.
Considering the facts stated above, I have also decided to consult anyone ready to give sound advice, be it doctors or tantriks to make sure dad gets rid of the snoring. I am going to dedicate this weekend to find a cure, or get ready to sleep in the other room. Any suggestions will be welcome.
Anyone out there, who has tips which can help me, please let me know. Do you know someone with this problem? Do you have this problem? How do you tackle it? Anything people, anything.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hospital blues

Being told by the Doctor that I’d have to rest for a week at least was not the good news I had been waiting to hear. I was waiting for him to say that I was fine and could participate in next week’s Football tournament. I was dreaming of playing in center mid-field when he told me I would also have to walk on crutches for a speedy recovery. As if that wasn’t enough, I had to visit the hospital’s physiotherapy room-they should rename it the Physical Torture room-each day. The only silver lining is their physio, a cute woman in her late thirties. It is only her presence, and perhaps the presence of my male ego that prevents me from wailing like a little boy when she goes about her job.
I was disheartened to know that I would be immobile for a few days. But it was either that, or surgery and a two month rest.
There comes a phase in ones life where a certain kind of phenomena is repetitive. It
ranges from doggone good luck (Mahendra Singh Dhoni, anyone? Yes, we have a great team but in Lanka, tosses win matches!), tremendous good fortune, string of injuries and sometimes, as in the case of yours truly, a spate of hospitalizations. I have lived what I believe is 1/3rd of my wonderful life on God’s great Earth. After being born to a beautiful mother 25 odd years ago, I never had the misfortune of being admitted to a hospital. However in the past few years, I have been so frequent to the hospital that I am on first name basis with the Doctor’s son who is studying Gynecology, have been invited to attend a pooja at his place and know each matron’s name and the schools their kids are in.

I was what people considered to be a healthy and fit specimen. A bit round the edges, but an able bodied one nevertheless. Why, I still play football and was more than a match for the young (Yes, I have been called “Uncle” or more than one occasion.) teenagers. At least I used to till a few months back when a blinding pain in my stomach was diagnosed as Appendicitis/ Hernia.

I would advise anyone who is to go in for surgery to opt for general anesthesia. At least if the doctor gives you the choice.There are three kinds that I know of.
• General- You are rendered completely unconscious
• Spinal- Your body numbs temporarily from the chest down.
• Local- Given directly at the spot of bother.

Local anesthesia is for stitches and the lot. For graver surgeries, the Doctor opts for either General or Spinal. Insist on General as in the Spinal version, the Doc has to inject you with a 6 inch long needle right up your spine! The mere sight of that had me in a dizzy. And yes, it is painful. After recovering from that discomforting infirmity, I developed infection at the incision and had to spend a few more days under the caring Nurses. Each one mulled that it was time for me to get married, so as to give my old man a rest.
Coming back to my ankle- when the doc told me to rest for a few days, I had to agree. I wouldn’t be able to work either, as it required train travelling. I had already faced some demanding times trying to explain to my fellow passengers that stepping on my foot wouldn’t bode well for me. Eh, it’s not their fault anyway. Why, I have, at times, stepped on my own foot without realizing that its mine. Weird, but true.
My latest pet name is Salim, after the character of Salim in ‘Salim langde par mat ro’! Walking with the help of crutches and taking wax baths and physiotherapy each day is not only expensive but excruciatingly painful. My new best friend, ‘Combi-flam’ is truly a friend in need. Someone suggested a pooja at home to ward off evil spirits who surely had an eye on us. We did that, which resulted in an eye infection due to all the smoke and a very, very bad throat!
I am hoping this is the last of it. Someone remarked as it is the foot this time, the phenomenon is at its fag end. I certainly hope so.