Thursday, January 24, 2008

Namesake - The Ali of Aluva

Q: Among a group of randomly chosen Mallus, how do you quickly find out which are the ones who have not been born and brought up in Kerala?

Ans: It is quite easy !! Just shout the word “PARTY “ !!!!


Confused? Ok, here is how it works.

If you are a Mallu but already visualizing a place with music, booze and women …gotcha ! you are a BABU-OK (ie: Born And Brought Up Outside Kerala) , the ubiquitous Non resident Keralite , a species which is soon going to out number the Resident Keralite species given the rates of migration.

But on the other hand; like me, if what you thought of; was a sea of Red Flags, a multitude of white mundu clad leaders moving as a block of people behind a red banner, shouting “Inquilab Zindabad” blocking all the traffic- then well, its elementary – my Dear Watson mone – you are a "Pakka Mallu Born And Brought Up In The Heart Of God’s Own Country!!!! (PM BABU IT HOGOC– Ok ,guess I'm not the best of acronym makers )

I’m picking up a long lost tag to write about my hometown.

But then, it’s not all that easy for me to write a chronicle of my town. Maybe it is because nothing too interesting probably ever happened there. I guess I could call it a sleepy town but then Mom would say I was the one who was sleepy most of the time. Much like that proverbial story of the 6 blind men feeling an elephant (or should I say Visually Challenged persons analyzing a Pachyderm to be politically correct); well, the point is that - it’s basically about perspective. You could grow up in the same town as another guy, even in the same neighborhood and around the same time, but you might have absolutely different memories of how the place used to be. And Mom thinks I never got out of the house enough to tell stories of anyone who lived in the neighborhood. So I’d tell a few stories where I was personally involved and not really try to record how the town used to be.

Here is the first one of the series…

My town was called Alwaye - “was” because somewhere down the line, the name is changed to “Aluva” in a wave of “Malayalamization of every town” but somehow that neither did amazing things to the place’s economy or particularly put the place in the world map. Guess it was all a conspiracy of the paint companies who made a fortune changing the sign boards everywhere. Guess, Aluva was too short to make money –I believe they made maximum when they changed from “Trivandrum” to “Thiru vanantha…(huff puff) puram”.

Growing up in a small town in Kerala has its disadvantages. First of all, you never realize that all the land around you is supposed to be beautiful or any such big deal. That happens only when you become an NRI and then desparately need something to be nostalgic about. That’s when you rue about all those erstwhile paddy fields – now converted to a block of flats; the river which flows by where you used to swim during your summer vacations- currently endorsed by Dermatologists due to the level of pollution & even your dad’s Bajaj scooter with a maximum capacity of 5 – all trigger off wave upon wave of nostalgia. But at that time we probably felt it was not so happening, as the city. And the city meant Cochin 20 km away and that’s where my happening cousins stayed.

Alwaye was rather cosmopolitan and multicultural – now don’t expect that it mean Albanians, Mexicans, Ugandans and Eskimos living side by side in adjacent houses. It just means that all the 3 representative religions co-existing just as they said in the “India- Unity in Diversity” chapter of the Social Studies textbook. That meant we got the Mutton Curry and Pathiri at Id from the neighbors though we'd soon ge have to reciprocate with Mum giving away a portion of my favorite Appam, Stew and Cutlets to the same neighbors at X’mas.

And it meant that like good Mallus, we all faithfully celebrated Onam in its spirit – sitting cross-legged in a yogic pose on the floor for the sumptuous pure Vegetarian Onam lunch on a Banana leaf.

Anyway, this story probably happened when I was 5 or 6, well, I happened to hear of this boxer named “Muhammad Ali”. . Well, I say “boxer” now because now I know him to be a three-time-World Heavy Weight Champion previously named Cassius Clay who used to “Float like a Butterfly and Sting like a Bee”. But back then I guess I just knew he was an “Idikkaran” –( “idi” – a blow with a closed fist, “kkaran”- a person who does the above).

From what I remember, it all happened as follows. Schoolboy conversations would usually revolve around who would be knock out who, if Tarzan fought Mammooty, Phantom fought Nazeer or if Bruce Lee fought Amitabh Bacchhan. (Yeah if you notice, one could easily transcend the fictional-non-fictional divide at that age)

But then this kid talked confidently of someone named Mohammed Ali who can knock down any of the above…even if all attacked him at the same time !!

We were all in awe though I was still sure the Phantom could knock this new guy down too! He’ll leave a Death head mark on his chin too like everyone else got. But I was curious. I didn’t have any clue how this Mohammed Ali looked like, but this kid’s uncle had apparently seen him in Dubai. He was as big as a building and wore gloves that contained granite stones in them, so that the unlucky bugger, who got hit, really stayed hit!

Hadn’t seen any picture of him but somewhere down the line, someone convinced me that he was the same guy in the boxing page of the Olympics themed calendar which some relative had got from abroad. Couldn’t judge how big he was but did look menacing enough; and yeah he had “gloves” on .

And then one day, I heard the big news – you wont believe it

“ Muhammed Ali was fighting someone named Subramanian Potti" !!!

That too, right there in Alwaye !!! That was curious. I'd never seen any movie of this guy Subramanian Potti and neither did he appear in any comics. The only Indian sounding guy in comics was an Orange Kurta clad Bahadur of Indrajal comics.

I was already imagining a boxing ring , Ali landing a 300 kilo punch right on a hapless Subrahmanian Potti's nose. Maybe we could buy tickets and go for this one ..hmm.

But then things got more confusing..

I got to know that they were going to fight in something called the ”election” !!! Now I didn’t know what exactly this election thingy was. I knew that Mom and Dad go for something called “voting” and returns with a “ink mark” on the index finger. Something, which we replicate with a fountain pen to impress the classmates the next day. (Well you mightve noticed that the coolness factor is also politically influenced if you live in such a politically aware state )

Also I knew there were something called “Congressukaar” and the “Communistukaar”. .For a long while I tried to ascertain who are the good guys and who are the baddies. Mom told me Congress was good and the Communist was bad, what with too many weapons right on their flag. And it was in Red – too violent! She knew it right from the church sermons that anyone who voted Communist are headed for eternal damnation. (hehe , guess she was right about that considering the state of affairs nowadays) However, my best friend in school was of the opposite opinion. This “Palm of a hand” (kaipatthi) was not too impressive, on the other “hand” if someone tried to attack you, you could use the Hammer or the Sickle till they saw stars.. Now that; was logical. When you are talking comic book graphics you usually make sense.

But all said and done, how exactly this entire thing connect to the fight between Mohammed Ali and Subramanian Potti?? Such an extremely confusing situation!

The campaign was in full force. Lit up jeeps crisscrossed across the town , and all walls were covered with either Mohammed Ali's or Mr. Potti's name.And then one day I heard it from the loud speakers attached to the jeep covered with election posters.

“Muhammed Ali” was actually coming right to the junction right next to my house. A dream come true! My mind was filled with questions. Will he be wearing that granite stone filled gloves? Will he knock down someone with a fluent “Disshhyooom”? Maybe if he is as big as a building maybe he will need to sit on top of the Car Workshop at the junction. It might just crumble under his weight and smash all the cars below! And what if the glass from all the cars pricks this Mohammed Ali in his behind? The entire situation had several exciting possibilities.

I begged someone to take me for the meeting . Finally Dad agreed. He was a bit rather confused about my undue enthusiasm for the Congress candidate.

The junction was full of people. I couldn’t see what was happening but something interesting was definitely going on. I pestered him to lift me up so I could see the stage. Finally, he lifted me on his shoulders… I couldn’t contain my excitement.I hadnt seen Phantom or Tarzan yet, but I was going to see Mohammed ali in flesh and blood!!

But however hard I looked; I could only see a sea of thick moustached guys in white shirts and mundus. There was some mistake. He wouldn’t be too difficult to spot if he was as tall as a building. But then, on that dais there was none who remotely looked like the guy in the calendar.

Then someone put a heavy garland on one random guy’s neck and everyone else applauded. The air was filled with “Mohammedaali keee jaaiii”. slogans.

“Well and good, but where is Mohammedali????!!” I asked my dad.

“Right there in the middle, look he’s the one waving! “ he replied...


I’d never been so disappointed in my life. My friend was a liar! Probably he'd lied even when he confided in me that he himself was the guy who played James Bond after having a medicine that made him grow.( He had clarified that there was a kissing scene but it was a camera trick and he never got close to any woman, coz he didnt want to be outcasted because of that )

Because, this guy Muhammedali was no big deal. He was not even wearing those granite gloves. Just as big as everyone else and wearing a white mundu and shirt with a thick moustache as everyone else.He could even sit in a normal chair ! So much for all those high hopes..Bah !

And I was sure of just one thing. Phantom could DEFINITELY whip him with ease !!!!


Epilogue: (like they do in the end of “Based on True story” Hollywood movies)

1. Alwaye has actually once significantly figured in history. When Tipu Sultan was camping near the Alwaye River during his Travancore invasion and had his horses and men washed away in the sudden floods effectively ending his campaign. If that hadn’t happened, probably the history of Kerala would’ve been much different.

2. Mohammedali the Congress candidate has won from Alwaye seat several times. Guess he is still in the political scene. Alwaye is generally a Congress bastion.

3. Muhammad Ali the boxer retired around 1981, maybe my story would have taken place a couple of yrs around that time.

4. The friend I mentioned is an aspiring actor now I hear. He starred in a Malayalam movie last year - we’re not in touch though

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Losto in Translationo- From Kathakali to Katakana

"We have to do a Gap Analysis on the previously done Requirement gathering and ....................."

The boss froze.. "Earthquake???"

"Is it, I didn’t feel anything!!" I asked and also stopped unconsciously tapping my foot against his chair.
“I’m sure I felt something !!” He insisted….

We both listened for a minute and he concluded it had stopped quaking.... Of course, I didnt move my foot again either :-)

Another day in Sushi land, and I have hardly felt those famed earthquakes yet, a couple of times I was sure there were tremors but others felt it was just a strong wind or too much alcohol in the bloodstream.

But well, this post is not about earthquakes, but it is about the greatest threat to life in Japan for any foreigner......... ie: the Japanese Language !! The squiggly figures of Japanese language and their implications are the greatest mysteries to anyone who lands here. Whereas you can survive here even without knowing a single word of Japanese, there are often moments of immense frustration where you desparately construct Japanese words adding "o" or "u" to the English, Hindi or even the Malayalam words i know. There are guys who used soap powder instead of salt in the curry , or aji-no-motto instead of sugar as the shopkeeper didnt exactly understand the requirement.

Me too used to be a part of the clan till recently , but then wait, its been 6 months here in Tokyo for me; and "Times,they're a-changing.....!!!" Here I'd like to say that the days of elaborate dumbcharades (Kathakali as Mallus would put it) to explain even something simple like "I didnt order this weird dish with strange things floating in it, and can I have a sandwich instead mebbe " – are slowly getting over.

The reason?? Japanese lessons.Yes, I'm beginning to be enlightened!! The cheapest way to learn Japanese in Tokyo is to join one of the classes offered by the City Ward offices. And of course that’s what I did. At just 7000 yen (Rs 2500 odd) you get 20 odd sessions @ 2hrs a class and 2 days a week.

Each class of Learning Japanese is like an episode of "Mind your Language" what with students from varied nationalities. There is a shavenheaded Turkish artist who looks like Bollywood villain Bob Cristo, a trio of un-smiling Myanmarian family with rhyming double first names like Myint Myint, Rin Tin etc , a Norwegian photojournalist who has traveled 55 countries, an English pantomime artist who might strike a pose mid-class, a Serbian Babysitter, a dreadlocked Brit DJ who is a fan of Amritanandamayi, a few Filipino beauties, An English teacher from NY, an Iraqi Telecommunication engineer who never learnt any Japanese despite being here for 15 years , and the usual Indian software guys slogging here for their Japanese bosses.

And together we do to the Japanese language what the Japanese do to English :-)

Absolute Mayhem !

For example last day someone exclaimed "Kono air-con wa warai desu" (that airconditioner is laughing!!!) (ok cant blame him ,"Warui"- would have meant That a/c is bad"). And " Watashi wa kyo terebi sutte to omoimasu" I think I will smoke a TV today....

Everyday I'm learning new words. Just last day I learned that Jiten-sha was not just a Gujju name, it means " bicycle" hereabouts. Also "Sumimasen" though it sounds like Srinivasan's brother ,is the essential "Excuse me". And kuruma does not need a prefix "veg" and instead could use Toyota, as it means car!!!

You might have noticed already; these guys are pretty convinced on having hardcore Japanese names for just about anything. But then; you ain’t seen anything yet. Can you guess what a plasma TV is called in Japanese? A “ Kabekake-ekisho-terebi”!! Even when you have got enough money to buy a Plasma TV, you have to actually say it to buy one. And a dishwasher is a shoki-jido-senjoki. Would you rather wash dishes by hand or learn that up?

Writing the language is another story. It is a mix of 3 sets of alphabets which makes the task real complicated. At the current speed, a page of a Japanese newspaper could provide me enough reading material for a month!!! I mean the 30% of that which I can read.

Well, the funny thing is Japanese could have been entirely written with the series of alphabets called Hiragana - but then they weren’t content with that. They devised another set of words called Katakana to write all the words derived from English and other foreign languages. Now that makes a total of 110 odd alphabets which is still conquerable with a bit of effort. Well ahem, It took me just 2-3 weeks to master the same. Though I struggle with writing a bit, I guess I manage reading pretty fast. Alas, the story is not over....

Displaying an incredible propensity for masochism they use an elaborate Chinese derived series of pictorial symbols called Kanji numbering around 5000!! Although they say only 1000 odd are in common use, learning even these is a really tough task. It works this way- when kids start learning they write everything in Hiragana and as they learn more kanji, they substitute the Hiragana with Kanji and become sophisticated. It is supposed to make things easier, by pictorially representing some alphabets but then again sometimes I see there is a entire long word which is substituted by a couple of Kanjis, but then there are other times when a wee little word is written via 2 or 3 of these complicated heiroglyphics making you wonder what is the point of the entire exercise. To add to the conundrum each of these Kanjis has two or three sounds associated with it as well as 2 or 3 meanings. And so, if you ask me, for all the atrocities Japan has done in China; this seems to be root cause !!!

Apart from the communication part, the biggest concern of an Indian techie coming to Japan is the prevailing notion of incredibly long working hours. The image of an average Japanese salary man is one who is in office by 8 am and leaves only by 11 pm!! The Indian techies working for their Japanese bosses also often have to follow the same timings. Once I met a very Japanese looking guy in a lift who suddenly smiled and asked "Hi, Kahan se ho?" !! Turned out he was a techie from Delhi but as he hadn’t left office for 2 days ☺ his eyes looked quite Japanese,. This part usually depends and as far as I’ve seen, the conditions in MNCs are usually better….

Talking of busy people I have seen only group of people who are absolutely relaxed in Japan. That would be the local police. I guess if they ever made a police series in Japan in the lines of NYPD blues or COPS it is going to be the most insomnia-curing series ever telecast. There seems to be hardly any crime around and probably a NY Cop sees as much action in one hour as a Tokyo cop would do in his entire career. I’ve hardly seen a police car here and an average Japanese cop is a slight bespectacled guy on a bicycle who may not hurt any one even in a video game. Even the people in Wanted posters look so gentle like well , everyone else.....

And this brings me to that eternal question which I’m fed up of being asked by friends back in India; and I suspect, is asked to whoever going to China, Japan, Korea and so on. And that of course is “ How do you tell the people there apart? Everyone looks exactly the same!!” And so the last time I answered “Precisely!!! Here’s how they solved it in Japan being so technologically advanced. Everyone has a barcode assigned to himself/ herself and has it tattooed on their arms. Everyone carries a bar code reader too. So in case you don’t recognize someone, you hold the barcode reader against the other person’s arm and beep all his details appear on your reader”

Honestly, people!!!!!! ;-))

Leaving you now with a clip from the movie “Lost in Translation” (after which my travelogue posts are named) which shows the “What the hell was it…??” sort of feeling experienced by an American actor (Bill Murray) who has come to Japan for shooting a Whisky ad. This clipping is one of the most hilarious moments from the movie....

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Losto in Translationo - Part 4 - Must have accessory spotted

Paris Hilton wannabes take note! Here is the ultimate fashion accessory to enhance your reputation of being in tune with the edgiest of fashion. I spotted this at an exotic accessories shop in a High fashion mall in Yokohama.

Curious....last time i saw something like this was in the hands of a Tam Pappadam seller in my hometown..

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Losto in Translationo - Part 3 - Spotted in Sushi land

Been quite some time since I posted anything here.

Well, have been travelling around in the weekends a lot. And, roaming around in Japan armed with a cam (sometimes mobile cam) allows you to get some hilarious samples of Japanese English..or as the locals say "Engirisu". These are everywhere- on the tshirts, on menus and just everywhere. There is actually a website dedicated to these outrageous samples of English in Japan ( Here are my contributions which could qualify for the same. More later...

(Thought I'll put up some snaps and keep the blog alive till i find something to write about :-))

Sign on the bathroom door of an inn in Nikko. Guess there is an option to sing :-)) a la Hera Pheri/ RamjiRao Speaking :-))

Well, the chef is a rather arrogant guy if you ask me .

Thats would be about 4'o clock Beijing time I guess

Friday, March 09, 2007

My ad-Venture

Not about any adventures in sushi-land this time but this is a plug for my other blog adMad- a site for International Ads and Brand Trivia.

Had once thought I'll be doing some groundbreaking work in advertising but doesnt look like its ever gonna happen ever. :-( So thought at least will feature and discuss some groundbreaking work already in the the adworld.

My pal Jithu has been running this site for some time now and so we've already got a great archive of excellent Print Ads sorted brandwise. I've joined this now and we have turned this into an ads-cum-brand trivia site. And another attraction is that will be carrying video ads too. We also post a Brand Trivia question daily on the brand whose ad we're gonna put up the next day. Might be useful for your Brand Equity Quiz preparation too , so do try answer it at the comments section and we will be putting up your name (and ur blog link if u have one) on the site if you get it right. You can expect the best of international ad campaigns here .So do take a look and hope you do add it your favorites..

The URL is as follows

This is also linked on the top left of this blog. Lemme know what you think of it at Suggestions are definitely welcome too :-)))

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Losto in translationo Part 2 - A day in the life of ....

It couldn’t be my alarm clock already !!!!

I'd hardly shut my eyes.. The persistent weird tune woke me from my dreamfilled stupor !!
Reluctantly, I pressed the pause button on the dream i was seeing and semi-opened my eyes. The clock was showing 3am.. After a few seconds of absolute incomprehension i figured it must be the phone. Now who could be calling me at this time? I hunt for the phone from the 6-7 similar shaped devices on the table lying on the table …TV remote, AC remote, bar of soap, Beer Can….and then I remember phone had a cradle. I pick it up.

" Hello??"

The caller " something in Rapid Japanese"

I said "Sorry wrong number" and kept the phone.

I lay down again on my bed and pressed, "Play" on the dream sequence. Too good to last. The phone rings again. Muttering under my breath I cut the call, remove it off the cradle and go back to bed. Almost immediately it rang again.

Lesson Learned - No point removing a cordless phone off its cradle!!!!

"Hello??" i ask politely while gritting my teeth. The caller " Something in even more Rapid Japanese" but i catch something like Sandeepo san, plocesso and something called OC-aah.

It slowly dawns on me- the guy is looking for someone in Tech Support for some OCR process. Having been in Investment Banking Ops earlier I understood the predicament of someone looking for Tech Support guy in the face of a huge crisis. This could be important. This might cause a major crisis in the Stock Markets tomorrow. A company might go bankrupt. People might lose jobs. All because some payment did not go thru and this couldn’t be prevented because the Tech Support guy couldn’t be reached at the given number. I could not live with such guilt for the rest of my life!! But what can a Business Consultant do for Tech Support? The person he was looking for would have been staying in my apt earlier and they had the number in the emergency contact list.

Ok, I figured out so much, but how do I convey this? I remembered the Japanese word for Phone number was Bango. So i tried the best Japanese I could manage "Wrongo bango. Sandeepo san doesnt stay here any moro."

The caller " something in bewildered Rapid Japanese ???"

Me "This is a Hoter-o ( I hope that would mean a hotel) . I stay hereo . My roomo. Sandeepo sano no stayo. Manassilayodo?- that last part in my mothertongue ;-)

I slammed the phone this time. Didnt care about any company going bankrupt. My sleepo is more importanto .

But I dont get sleep for another hour now. The phone rings a couple of times more but I dont pick the phone. My sleep is really screwed up. But at 7am, the merciless alarmclock wakes me up. I'm as groggy as a punchdrunk boxer after 9 rounds of fighting, but somehow drag myself to get out of bed and go to office.


It's a five minutes walk to the Osaki station. Then catch the Rinkai line. The rush hour is at 8-8:30 am range - and though its not exactly Virar fast (Mumbaiites can relate to this) the rush is pretty bad. I go at 8:45 to strategically avoid the rush. People do queue up at times to board a train and allow people to get out first (Mumbaiites cannot relate to this ;-) ). Tennozu Isle (Tennnnn -Oh- zoooo Airu -as per the announcements) wher my office is at, is on area reclaimed from the sea. I'm sleepy thru out the day...
I was determined to find a solution to the “Tech Support Issue”. I met my "Japanese language expert" friend at the cafeteria. Asked him how to “politely” say "You have a wrong number" in Japanese. "Thats simple" He responded. You say "..................................................................................."He completed a sentence that took around two and a half minutes to complete. I gave up. I'd rather learn Tech Support than learn that by heart. "Ok, how do i say that without being particularly polite??" - politeness be damned!

“Hmm, you can say Chi-gao denwa bango” he said.

Good, short and sweet! That I can remember!
Getting out of the office happens only around 8pm. My walk to Shinagawa station passes thru 2 bridges across the canal providing a picturesque view of the skyscrapers around. Shinagawa station is really huge, something like Grand Central NY according to my NY returned friend. Aa huge structure with several platforms, shops and restaurants. There’s even a Nepali run Indian restaurant at the station called Sitar. Of course, with my amazing cooking skills I don’t need to rely on any Nepali for an evening meal. So I walk on.

My journey back from office takes exactly 35 minutes. I reach home. Dear readers; this abode of mine, is a sterling example of space optimization. I’ll tell you how this works. Take an average sized PVC pipe. Divide its interior into a “Barbie doll accessories set-size” Kitchen, Bedroom, Shower and Loo.. Install a TV, DVD player, Microwave, fax machine, Washing Machine and dryer in the remaining space – and voila! You have my apartment. Space becomes a issue if you are trying to cook. Storage space is premium and flat surfaces tend to attract stuff. So, what if the pickles jar is on the Fax machine and the Rice cooker on the Washing machine? What if the cornflakes packets line the outside of the Shower room wall? This is a pretty comfortable home for me now.

I switch on the TV and surf the channels. The govt channels are some 11 in number, predictably only Japanese. In fact, even with Cable TV there are only a few in English. However, there are 4 channels, which show English movies, sometimes Japanese dubbed but not always. However, trailers are always in Japanase. In the last month, I’ve seen several Horrywuddu movies such as Dai Hardo, Joorasic Parko and Waaaird Waaaird Westo. Also there’s CNN and BBC to quote the latest tally from Iraq. MTV seems to have 99% Japanese content with some hiphop thrown in at some time. As the soulful Love songs in Japanese pregnant with feelings and emotions are lost on me, I go check out the Sports channels. Baseball, Basketball, Golf and American Football. Got to work out something by the time World Cup starts in March. Here is a country totally Americanized sports wise.

Well, but then you have the Internet for entertainment. A lightning fast connection is something you appreciate if you have waited hours for a download via a BSNL line. The advantage? Streaming content – without much buffering. Youtube has most of the KBC 3 episodes uploaded so managed to catch up on those. Also most Indian Hindi channels are streamed online so that no Software engineer’s wife would miss her daily dose of the Saas bahu capers.. Also, the news channels such as CNN-IBN, NDTV, and Times Now have streamed content so that you can track what is the latest on Abhishek and Aishwarya.

I fix up my dinner- Japanese salmon fried in specially imported Kerala Fish Masala . Awesome!! I salute my own cooking skills, then call wife to report on the success of the same (I ‘ve to keep this on for another month before she joins me here). I check my blog; comment on a few others and go to bed.

2:30 am…..Dejavu! The phone rings. It is the one for Sandeepo san. I almost forget my lines. “Chiii-……….errrr???? “gooo” What was it??"

I manage to remember in the nick of time

“CHI - GAVO DENWA BANGO!!!” I shout it into the phone triumphantly.

”Oh, I hav the wlong number??” he replies…. in English.

I slam the phone….

PS: Sandeepo san, whoever you are - if you are reading this- please update your contact number at your company

PPS: If any of you know any Sandeep or anyone who might call himself Sandeepo when in Tokyo, (u never know) ask him to do the above urgently.

PPPS: This was just a weekday. Await more travelogues on my weekend trips

Friday, February 09, 2007

West Side Story- Misadventures of a Desi Software Casanova in Yankeeland

(While the next report from Tokyo is shaping up, enjoy this anecdote from a friend..of course the masala and special effects are by flaashgordon)

This did not happen to me. Neither did it happen to someone I know. And I heard it from someone I had no business of hearing it from................

Ok enough of crap, just know that this is just an anecdote out of the anecdotal Pandora’s box which opens when there are a couple of old friends meeting up, are a couple of drinks down and are swapping stories…

Anyway…here’s the story.......

“There was this Software guy who went onsite to the US“ … Can hear your collective groans “Aww, not another one”. Are Software guy jokes are more common than the Sardar jokes in Bangalore nowadays? Ok, anyway I can’t help it if he went onsite. .

Anyway, this man was different. He was not the usual who vows to live onsite on just one dollar a day, have only Puliogre or Thairsadam everyday and save the rest. This one, for starters was a stud mallu Casanova who used to make the hearts of every babe in office go flutter (Disclaimer 1: This was probably his own opinion ...Disclaimer 2: The definition of a babe in a Software company is “ anyone who fills “F” in the gender column of the Application form”)…. ….

Well, our man had watched enough movies to get a fairly accurate picture of America as a place where women generally dress in Baywatch gear and guys could pick’em up at any bar/pub just by saying……… “Bond, James Bond”.

And so, he had his task cut out…. He wasn’t going to miss any “opportunity” when it presented itself, and was on the lookout right from the time he boarded the plane. Unfortunately for the man though, most of the intricacies of the Queen’s language were still a mystery to him

The AI flight out of Bangalore was eventless, the Airhostess too old and his neighbor was another software guy. Our man hence concentrated on the next best thing about International flights ie: Free Booze… By the time he reached NY, he had done reasonable justice to Kerala’s "highest per-capita consumption of Alcohol" statistic...But well man doesn't live by whisky alone...

He hoped for better luck in the transit flight from NY. Our man entered the aircraft and found his seat. The next seat was empty. A “gorgeous blonde” entered the plane. Our man held his breath. She paused near his seat. The man fervently prayed to all the gods he knew. She smiled, checked her ticket and sat down beside him. Our man’s heartbeats quickened. He pretended to stare out of the window while strategizing furiously. Scenarios, Alternate Scenarios, Counter Scenarios. The conversation Opener, follow-up, clincher. He didn’t even realize it when the flight took off…

“Sir........” he turned. The Airhostess was offering a glass of Orange Juice. His neighbor helped the Airhostess by taking the glass from her and offered it to him. Maybe it was the unexpectednerss of that, his nervousness, or the alcohol in the blood stream, the man tried to take the glass and awkwardly dropped it. The juice got all spilt in his lap. “ Sorry” She exclaimed ; took a tissue and proceeded wipe it off in his lap. Our man was in a dream. Something had to happen now. Various movie scenarios flashed thru his mind in fastforward . The situation begged to be taken advantage of ....

"No proublam maadamm, ” he said. She smiled. He was encouraged

He decided to start a conversation. “Wh-where you going ?” He asked

“I’m goin to Seattle” She answered

“ I goingg Seattle too. I am SOFTWARE engineer - Microsoft Project, you know Microsoft- Bill Gates???” He was sure that’d impress her.
“ Oh, that’s great”. She smiled again
Our man was eager to continue the conversation. He wasn’t going to let go of such a golden opportunity. He told her about the “Dotnet” project and how he was chosen out of many for the assignment.

She kept smiling and listening. Our man decided to take it to the next level…..
“ So why YOU going Seattle? ” He asked

And then came the answer, which broke his heart into a thousand pieces; made him stay off blondes in his lifetime….and prematurely ends this story.

She answered, “ I’m going to visit my grandchildren!!!!!!”

(Do you think this initial setback caused our man to abandon hope and focus on coding alone? No way, here’s part 2)

A few days passed; our man started on the Client Project. Lack of Linguistic abilities never tampered with his supreme coding skills and he was doing well in his job. However, this did prevent him getting anywhere close to a Yankee “All-American” woman and so the romantic life he dreamed off never took off.

Days passed and our man was getting desperate. No action, no satisfaction. ...But then one day fate smiled on him. He was working late one day when someone spoke behind him “Excusa Senor“ . He turned, and Lightning bolt struck him . He could hear Violins were playing in the background.. It was the Hispanic maid who was cleaning the office. Almost Salma Hayek, though probably 15 kg heavier and probably, around so many years older. The opportunity he was looking for had come to him with a Vacuum Cleaner.

Both shared a common advantage of not knowing too much English. And soon, our man was more than friends with her. Don’t ask how they communicated but he soon got himself invited to her house for dinner on Friday.

D-Day came. The dinner went great though the conversation was difficult. After the food, they went to the living room. Our man could sense the atmosphere was electric. The night held a lot of promise. He wanted to say something romantic to set the mood. He looked out of the window .... He opened the door and stepped out. He felt chilly so he put on his coat. The lady looked bemused, he hadnt spoken anything after the dinner and was now putting on his coat.

It was a beautiful night, slightly chilly but there was a clear sky where one could see the stars. The moonlight bathed the foliage around. It was breathtaking. The night was so beautiful . He took it all in but unfortunately, his severely limited vocabulary did not allow him to express all that..The only adjective he could think of, was "good". And so he said……………
“Good night!!!”

(It was a long walk back; he never realized why the Latina went inside and slammed the door.)

PS: Do leave a comment and do share a similar story in the comments section if u have one :-)))

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