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Friday, December 30, 2005

Delighted! 


I went out for a wonderful Japanese dinner tonight with my darling advisors. Many interesting discussions were had. Topics ranged from magic to maths to movies and even Indian names. I was informed that my Erdos number is 3. BUT but but the icing of the evening was the delightful gift that Jeanne and Larry got me. The photos are given above and below and I must say that it is one of the sweetest gifts that I've received in recent times. For those who can't make out what it is - it's a T shirt with 225 years of my PhD lineage imprinted on it and in case you can't read it - it includes the likes of Euler, Poisson, several Bernoullis, Lagrange, Leibniz to name a few. The child in me is doing major somersaults and the man in me is saying "beta sweater pehen lo" :)



P.S. If you are among the kind readers who are coming back for my usual stock of inane stuff, they'll be back pretty soon. As of now I am enjoying the end of the year and I hope you are doing the same too!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Back Again 

So I'm back from Vegas. Vegas was fun. Lots of fun. Lots of lessons were learnt as well. For starters, for the first time in many years I saw the desi in me in full action when, enamored by the unimaginable opulence, I took photographs of everything around me. Chaaah! Now I can't poke fun at Sid for this habit of his. I also fell prey to the popular adage that "the House ALWAYS wins". Moi thought that I had the better of the House and that was indeed the case till the last 30 mins of my stay, when I lost all that I had won and more. The final realization dawned upon me on the strenuous journey back when I realized that for someone recovering from acute acidity, a sixteen hour stretch without food, followed by a cheesy (and I literally mean it) meal at McDs, is NOT recommended. All in all, still a wonderful trip where much food was devoured, David Copperfield was seen in action (the show, I felt, was great but overpriced), Madame Tussuad's museum was visited and a lot of gambling and casino hopping was done.

Yanyway! Subs made this astute observation in Vegas that deserves mention. "Whenever a common word is misspelled it means one of two things," he said. "The resultant product is either sham and all cheap or bloody expensive." Profound and bloody true. I remember the innumerable take offs on the already misspelled Kwality ice creams on the streets of Kolkata - Kwaliti, Kwwality or good old Quality, we'd seen it all. While the original fake was the most expensive ice cream in "those days", all the remaining spellings were bloody cheap. In my undergrad days I had a friend who was the king of fakes. His wardrobe boasted of classic fakes but the one that swept me off my feet was a T Shirt by "Kevin and Clein". We saw several other examples in the streets of Vegas. Every time a shop said Parfum instead of perfume (yeah, yeah, I know that this spelling is valid too) we knew that you would have to spend a fortune for that extra s(cent). Ditto for the shop that said Restoranto instead of Restaurant - for the few extra letters they charge you many extra dollars. Moral of the story - spellcheck your brands and save money or trouble. Peace!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Holidays 

The blogger is off to Las Vegas soon
Will be back only on Monday late noon
So all you readers do please make merry
And enjoy your holidays very very very
Please do pardon the very childish rhyme
Blogger has to pack now - so not much time

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Musings 

Here are some stray musings that moi had. Hate it or hate it.

* Sometimes during romantic feuds I wish that love was deaf and dumb and not blind.

* Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder but alcohol helps the beholder lie.

* In most of my relationship fights I had the last word ... and it was normally "Sorry!"

* If you hate me for who I am, you are just being unimaginative.

* I once knew a girl who treated my heart and wallet the same way - she stole them both.

* Between a woman with looks and a woman with brains, I'll settle for the one who'll buy me dinner.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Games People Play 

My sister has been fighting with her boyfriend. "Why?" I ask her. "Oh, no reason. It's no fault of his. But you should just scream at the man every now and then. It keeps them on their toes, you get some added respect and the apologies are always fun. What???? This is my lil sis talking ladies and gentleman and aghast is the word that comes to my mind.

I've always been a mere witness to the games between the two sexes and have been terrible at playing them myself. At best you can call me a good observer. Sometimes I've been an unwilling referee when two dating friends came up with "Ok! You tell us whose fault it is?" But when it comes to playing these games myself, I've always been at a loss of moves. And I don't think it's just me - I think that men in general are at a slight disadvantage when it comes to relationship games. I've seen some of my male friends play the marriage card successfully where the man emotionally blackmails the "by-then aged girlfriend" with the line "Give me few more years and I'll surely marry you." But that's all that I've seen the mustached sex do.

So I decided to list some of the classic moves women use (or at least I've seen them use) that completely unnerves men; makes them jittery; makes them rush for the closest bar or bathroom; makes them realize that the battle of the sexes is hardly a battle but more like an action movie climax - where you know who'll win but still watch it, just in search of possible novelty.

1. You have changed. Yes! A classic line that completely shocks men and women use it with such dexterity. Men have no idea what this means. Every now and then you see your lady love all serious and grumpy and on questioning her all you get is "You have changed." But that's it. There's never an accompanying explanation to how you've changed. So you are left with the dual task of figuring out how you've changed and how to redeem yourself and till you do that, the woman rules.

2. I'm having girl problems. Now please don't think that I'm an unsympathetic wretch. I know women and men are different (thank you high school for explaining things to me). All I'm saying is that men get very jittery when women use this line. Coz men have no idea what women go through at these times and they also have no idea how they'll react. So we get completely freaked out. One of my exes used this line more often than I thought she should and EVERY time it gave me the shivers. Coz I knew she could get away with murder then (and trust me she did try it a few times). All I'm saying is that maybe even men should be given a day or two every year (JUST a day or two) when we can do stuff, and if questioned, bluntly reply "Man problems bonami, man problems!"

3. Nobody has ever treated me this way (said best when you add a "not my mother, not my brother, not my ex ..." at the end). Another classic. Every man who has been in a relationship long enough hears these words at some point. And to be very honest it means nothing. For all you know it might be a good thing. Something like "You treat me so well, nobody has ever treated me this way." But NO. It never is. It always means something scary and men know that and the moment they hear it they know that it's apology time.

4. You don't love me any more. They should just ban this line. Or have something similar that men can use. For three years you could be cleaning her doormat. Forget doing it for one day and she'll tell you "You don't love me any more". If it's your bad day she'll even add No. 1 i.e. "You have changed." Aaaaaah!

5. You should learn something from XYZ (and XYZ is normally a close friend whom you dislike). That's it. This one freaks men out completely. Coz not only do you feel inadequate, you also feel threatened by XYZ. And women just love that.

Quite a few more techniques come to mind but this post is already too long and the women readers stopped reading quite a while back. I agree, I have changed a lot :)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Arghhh Lee! 

We all have some talents ingrained in us. Agree or not, but we all have a film critic in us. Earlier that critic was limited to terming movies as just "good" or "bad" BUT these days we are far more equipped. In the recent past I've heard analytical remarks like "Parineeta was very well shot. The script was beautifully written ...", "Neal n' Nikki is catering to urban sensibilities" etc. The movie critics in us have surely gained more experience. Ditto for the cricket coach in us. Every Indian male (and the occasional female) now has an opinion about how the Indian cricket team should function. Similarly we all have a view on World Peace and how it can be achieved.

However, this post is not abt any of the natural talents mentioned above but an altogether different one that I've been reminiscing abt since yesterday - that of "creating ugly celebrities". What? How could I say that? Hear me out. I'm not saying that we are "ugliterians" but the example I'll cite next will explain my stance.

Have you ever seen random magazines lying around? Just put a pen next to it and you'll get a proof of my conjecture. Barber shops, house of friends, libraries - any place that has magazines lying around carelessly will scream witness to my claim. All of us at some point in our life have done it. Aishwarya Rai, Ajay Devgan, Rani Mukherjee or even the mighty Big B - they have all fallen prey to our pens and imagination. And in all these photos you'll see our love for making celebrities ugly take center stage. You'll see the beauteous Ash smiling, but you'll ALSO see an unevenly placed moustache above those Kajra Lips. Occasionally you'll spot a matching goatee. And don't even get me started on our fascination for the "missing tooth". I once saw a depiction of a toothless Rani Mukherjee and that was the last time the Bengali damsel knocked in my dream sequences. And the men aren't let out easy either. I've seen innumerable scary artwork performed on a popular shirtless hero. From giving him an added layer of chest hair, to giving him organs best suited on women - I've seen the mighty Man in many unthinkable forms. I have seen Anil Kapoor in a skirt and choli with humongous earrings and I have seen Jeetendra's white attire scribbled black. The list goes on. And it's not just celebrities. I've had girl friends and sisters who've tried testing my feminine charm by putting Microsoft Paint to commendable use. I've seen myself with lipstick and long hair and it took me a disturbed three years and Tulip Joshi to recover from that trauma :) Similarly, I've tried checking out women I fancy with various forms of facial hair too. And even though a few of them later adopted those styles and looked better *ducks*, a majority of them looked better otherwise.

But have you ever seen any truly praiseworthy artwork in any of these magazines? Have you ever seen a good hairdo applied to anyone? A good moustache on Sanjay Dutt? A nice pair of Sunglasses? Nope! Never! And I refuse to believe that nobody with artistic ability is never near these magazines. Then why? As I mentioned, I think somewhere deep down in each one of us there is a lover of ugliness and this post is my salute to that side in us!

P.S. While on the issue of ugliness, a quote I made a few years back comes to mind and this might be a good place to place it. A female friend of mine was raving abt this guy who I didn't imagine to be good looking from any perspective. "He is unconventionally good looking," she shouted. "Sure," I agreed. "But he is also conventionally ugly."

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Random Thoughts Again 

* How do you greet people caught doing boink boink in a barn?
- Hay Hay!

* Do you think Pamela Anderson ever turns on her biggest fan?

* Why did the lonely girl go on a robbery spree?
- Coz she dreamt of being Wanted.

* Does anybody notice the irony in the amount of Buzz the Big Bee and Small Bee generates these days?

* Neal n Nikki has fared dismally in the American Box Office. The collections can be described as ranging between Nil n Nickel.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Sleep Over 

It was two days back that I decided to write this post. Then I discussed it with two members of the opposite sex. One of them assured me that no woman will ever marry me after reading this and the second one refuted my case. So the initial intended tone of the post will be changed. What was initially supposed to be a more confident tone will be replaced by a doubtful and conjecture-posing style. What say?

So, I feel that *and looks around and hushes the voice* most men IF GIVEN A CHANCE would like to sleep in their own separate beds *Wooof, I said it*. Now lemme make a few clarifications here. Moi is not saying that men don't like women in their beds. Moi is not saying that men want to sleep alone in a room. I'm just saying that IF we had two situations - (A) where a guy and a girl sleep in the same bed and (B) a guy and a girl have two separate beds in the same room with a little (say 2 feet) distance between them - then most men will go for option (B); that given an option most men would like to stay awake in the same bed with a woman but sleep in a separate one by themselves. Now the explanation.

Have you seen those movies where they show a romantic couple in bed together. What's the scene that comes to your mind? Yep! The girl is hugging the guy, who is on his back facing the ceiling. The girl is all happy and snuggly. She has a smile on her face and the camera captures that wonderful moment of love and tenderness. Do you have any idea why the camera never shoots the guy's face? What do you think the guy is thinking at that point? So many question plague the male mind then - (i) Will it be very rude if I ask her to move her hair off my face? (ii) Can I tell her that it is only so long that a man enjoys playing the role of a side-pillow (iii) Can I tell her that her head is not that light (iv) Can I tell her that it is unfair to pull a man's chest hair and there is nothing romantic about that either??? Also have you see something very weird that happens in all these movies? They show the couple going to bed all naked after a night of passion but when the girl wakes up in the morning she makes an on-the-fly night gown with the blanket, leaving the poor man all cold.

And hence ladies and gentleman I propose that there be two beds in every room. Two beds next to each other but separated by a lil distance. So that the man can have his blanket. So that the man can have his comfort. So that lovebirds can do their thing and sleep away in true happiness. So that we don't wake each other up when we toss and turn. So that ... the list goes on ...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Booked 

I was in the library when I walked past a shelf that was in one of the not-so-accessible areas. One of the books caught my eye. It was jutting out. For a second it appeared like the book was waiting to be signed out. As if it's been a while since its pages got flipped; a while since it lay wide open on someone's coffee table; a while since some damage was done to its pages, and for a second I thought it was urging me to take it home. And that's when it struck me that we are quite similar to these books ourselves. Most of us have a major "pick me" complex. It doesn't matter what it is - we like to be chosen. Remember the times the teacher in high school said that five students would be chosen? It didn't matter what the chosen group would do. It could be as exciting as a field trip or as mundane as posing as props for a story. However, for a fraction of a second it always ran in our minds "will it be me?" and we would all sit up upright and make ourselves a tad bit more visible. And it's not just high school. Be it women, teachers, friends or career - we are often like the book, eagerly waiting to be picked. Every prospective "picker" is looked at with anticipation and excitement and when they pass by and we realize that we weren't the chosen one, we sigh. Sometimes we console ourselves and soon we jut out again for the next round.

And it's not just this desire to be picked that makes us like books. Like books, we all fall in categories. Some of us are the funny ones. Some are pro adventure. We too have reviews based on which people choose us. "You are dating that girl? I have HEARD that she can be very dominating." "Well, he is a good starter but then you will lose interest in him in a few weeks." Haven't we heard these "reviews"?

And the similarities go on. Some of us are good for momentary entertainment. A few parties, three dates, two movies and then you grow out of them. Some leave a lasting impact. Some take their time to grow on you, while others are "just not your type". Some of us have good social presence. "Never judge a book by it's cover," they say but at times the nice air, expensive jacket or blue eyes is all we see. Hmmmm! No wonder we feel that some of us, much like those bestsellers, are over rated.

As I was thinking all this I realized that the library will close. So it was time to leave.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Guest Appearance 

It was 7 in the evening. I was watching TV and Subs was browsing for laptop deals. There was a knock on the front door. Brought a stranger trying to sell magazines to our house. Brought delightful memories of childhood to my mind.

These are stories from a loooong looong time back. Many of you reading this blog might not even identify with the premise of this post. So the young ones like UI - lemme warn you in advance :D I must have been in the third or fourth standard then. Not too many people had telephones and the internet - duh! Yanyway! Those days everytime the door bell rang it would be a new found excitement for me and my sister. Especially in the evenings. Coz then we knew it wasn't the maid, or the milkman, or any those innumerable ladies trying to get old clothes in exchange for shiny cutlery. A knock or bell in the evening meant surprise guests ... and that spelt FUN. There was phenomenal anticipation associated with it. Was it any of the close uncles and aunts? A door knock instead of a door bell meant even more fun coz then it was probably a cousin who couldn't reach the bell. He would have ran up before his parents. Pummy and I would rush to the door and there was always excitement while opening it. Everybody had their own way of ringing the bell. Some pressed it for too long. Others played their own tunes. Mom and dad would often play a little guessing game as Pummy and I ran to find out who the winner was.

I remember the time when we put one of those safety chains to the door. It was literally like a surprise gift. As Mom opened the door partially, the face of the guest would get revealed. Our expressions would change accordingly. A relative or family friend with kids meant that we wouldn't have to study any more that evening. That brought a glee to our faces. Occasionally it would be a false call. Given the rectangular layout of our building, we often had lost folks trying to reach the other side. Oh, we hated them. But whatever it was, a knock on the door or a ring of the door bell was always fun.

Times have changed so much. Nobody is excited by these petty joys anymore. Everybody is super busy. Everybody has a cell phone. Surprise visits don't surprise no more. They scare us. Nobody wants to put in that much effort. It's so much safer to make the customary cell phone call before dropping in. At least then the food will be good. Sometimes I see my sister carefully screening her calls. "Don't pick the cell phone if it's XYZ. She wants to come over and go out for a movie. So don't pick the phone," she instructs.

Even in US things are different. I can't remember getting a surprise visit in ages. Why would anybody do it? People plan meetings three weeks in advance. "Hey, man. We haven't met in like ages. What say we go out for dinner next weekend?" "Sorry, dude! I have a Final the following week. What say the weekend after that?"

Times have changed. We have changed. Memories remain.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Chivalry? 

So sometime back I had ranted abt the tradition of the candlelight dinners and how it's probably a "man concept". Recently a similar thing hit my mind - it's those petty acts like opening a door, pulling the chair and helping with the coat, that men do and women term as being classy and chivalrous. Yeah sure!

Now think rationally - what's so bloody classy or chivalrous in holding a door for a lady. Before you jump to conclusions lemme state here that I always hold the door for ladies and quite a few of them have been kind to compliment me for that - but seriously - what's the deal? Are we trying to say that the women can't even open a door or pull a chair? Or are we saying that these are such mammoth tasks that a man deserves kudos for doing them? Seriously! Taking a bullet for your lady is chivalry. Fighting the most feared knight in the land for your lady with bare hands is chivalry. Sitting through two hours of How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days for your lady and laughing when she does, IS chivalry. BUT opening a freakin door with one hand and holding it for ten seconds? Naaaah! I don't see anything remotely chivalrous with that. And guess what? A lot of men are getting away with not doing the above mentioned daunting tasks (specially the chick flick bit) by just pulling chairs and holding lame doors. And that's not a good thing.

Now lemme hypothesize what must have happened. Some guy and girl must have got into one of those "What have you done for me?" fights. The guy would have ran out of things to say and quickly thought of something inconsequential like "I always hold the door for you". Given how insignificant the whole thing is the girl would have been like "What? You do that for me?" and the guy would have nodded a diligent nod. Thereafter the guy always had to do this petty act and the girl raved to her friends abt it. "My boy friend doesn't even let me open the door," she must have gloated. And that's how it all started - where friends of the girl and their friends and their friends and their friends made their boy friends act as make shift door men. Nice!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Indian Man's Sob Story 

Face it - the Indian guy has it tough in the dating market. I was talking with a girl abt the perils of the Indian man in the dating game and she agreed. I told her that the English have their accent and the French have their knowledge of art, food and wine. The African American community is believed to be well endowed, while the Aussies get drunk famously. The Americans have money and the Chinese are better gadgeted than anybody else. The girl pointed out that Latin men are supposed to be great lovers. "Ah, sure! That too," I sighed. What do we Indian man have? Zilch! What's our strength? Zilch. What is it that makes us desirable to women all over the World? Zilch again.

Yup! Face it. We Indian men are at a disadvantage when it comes to wooing women. Our accents are - well - ahem - well - ahem. We aren't the tall, mane flowing breed either. Now there was a time when it was rumored that we men knew the Kamasutra inside out but it dint take them long to figure out that all that most Indian men knew abt sex is actually just - Inside and out. So what do we do? If you still don't believe me - let's be objective abt this. Let's take the three biggest strengths Indians have in the eyes of outsiders and judge ourselves - (i) we provide cheap outsourced labor (ii) we are good with spellings (yes, we Bharatiyas put the B in Spelling B) and (iii) we are good with math. Now, just imagine the following three pick up lines and judge for yourself.

Indian Dude One - Excoose me beautifool. I couldn't help but notice the wonderful dress that you are wearing. From the fine craftsmanship and peeping label, I would say it's a Gucci. My guess is that you have spent a good $400 on it. What say you date me and I contact my cousin Raj in New Delhi, who works for an Indian design house that actually deals with outsourced fashion products and I can get you a similar dress for just $50. What say baby? Sounds like a deal?

Indian Doodh Two - Hi Huneee Bunny. What's your name?
Hot girl - The name's Linda. Linda McMillan.
Indian Doodh - Aahaa! Is that McMillan with an MC or an MAC. It is rumored that names beginning with Mc are actually Irish while the Scots like to spell it with Mac. Which one are you? Actually don't tell me. Give me your name in a sentence and I will tell you where you are from.

Indian Dude Three - Hi baby. Why don't I take you to the side and show you a trick that I can do with my fingers.
Hot girl senses a night of passion and goes to the side.
Indian Guy - Now give me any number between One and Five Hundred and I can find its square root using just the lines on the fingers of my right hand. Tell you what - make it between One and Four hundred and I won't even use my thumb. What say?

What will the Indian man do?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Update 

Stress, prolonged bad food and more stress has made the blogger unfit and he as decided to take a 2-3 day break from blogging. Hopefully moi will be back on Monday with lots of new rants. Till then take care and I'll try to do the same.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ex-pectation 

For all you people who like tricky situations - deal with this. What do you do when your ex asks you for your opinion on his/her present? Hmmmm! I've faced several variants of this problem and made people face it as well and I think it's second in my list of awkward moments, following the "fart smell when you are out with a girl and you know it's not you" very closely. Yanyway! Back to the original topic of discussion.

So what do you do when your ex shows you his/her latest love and asks you for an opinion. What if the guy/girl doesn't impress you one bit? You can't just say that. Then it'll be an absolute case of sour grapes - grapes so sour that they can be squeezed to make lemonade. And what if you are really impressed by the person? You can't say that either, coz then you are accepting that "yessss, you were right in leaving me." So you always end up saying the either the standard "Nice. You guys look ... awkward pause ... nice together. Wish you guys all the best." or "Well, it's your opinion that matters. As long as you are happy it's fine."

Does anybody else have a better answer???

Monday, December 05, 2005

A PhD Defense in Pictures 


An hour and thirty minutes before it all begins (and yes, I look tense).




Ten minutes before it all begins - in the place where it all begins.



Fifteen minutes since it started.



Fifteen minutes before it ends.



Fifteen minutes after it ended (and yes, I look drained).

Thursday, December 01, 2005

On groups and more ... 

Two disjoint incidents form the inspiration for this post. The first one was witnessed when moi was walking to the food court for lunch. Three hot women were walking in front of me (some detractors might claim that I was walking behind them). As an aside, the women were dressed in the most amazing motley of colors. Yanyway. One of the girls said, "You know what I feel like doing?" The other two echoed the customary "what" and the girl said, "sing OUR song." As soon as she said that, the three women broke into a little jig. Some pathetic song was sung in unison, along with a very complex high five exchange protocol. Very entertaining.

The second incident was narrated by a friend the other night. She told me, "Oh the four of us went out and we were just like the Sex and the City Gang. We form such an amazing group. X is like Samantha, Y is like *whoever the lawyer is* and I'm like ..."

If you are wondering how I plan to tie these two separate incidents together, the answer is simple - "Women are a lot more into group formation." Once again, I'm not judging men and women here. All I'm saying is that it's one more aspect in which the two sexes differ. Women spend a lot of time and energy forming and maintaining friend groups. Their groups have names, they have their own set of movies ... they even have similar dress codes. I remember popular "female groups of Pilani" where three or four women would even hold hands together and walk. Have you ever seen four men do that? How many of you've heard of incidents when a whole bunch of women landed up in someone's house to get ready for a party together. There - you have a group already. I've seen this take place countless times with my sister and her friends. "Oh no! All of you are wearing red. I just have a black skirt. Pummy can you please lend me a red skirt?" These are all familiar lines to me. But have you EVER heard of two men getting dressed together in one of their houses? Have you ever seen two men claim, "Oh! We are like Batman and Robin. He's more acrobatic. So he is Robin and I am ..." - Nope! NEVER.

Personally, I think group formation takes a lot of time and energy. For starters you need a Unique Selling Point for your group. A girl I dated ages ago had once remarked, "We are the Cool Gang of our college. The other women either hate us or they wanna be like us." See. That's a unique property. Men find it very difficult to locate these qualifiers. Just ask a guy, "Hey, why do you and X hang out together?" and he'll probably say "Coz we are both free in the evenings". That's it - that's all the commonality we need to hang out with another guy.

As a final proof I'd like to present the striking differences between a "guy's night out" and "girl's night out". A girl's night out is normally a lot more personal - like a potluck, or watching dvds at home together, or a sleepover where only "the group" is present. Whereas all forms of activities termed as a guy's night out - be it going to a bar and guzzling beer, or watching strippers perform gymnastics on a pole, take place in locations that have plenty of other such "groups" present. Coincidence??

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