Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Bunch of Lies

"How can you be so irresponsible?" shrieked mum, "If you don't go, I will give you a nice beating!"

I continued to stare at her with glaring eyes. Seriously ma? I'm 24 and you plan to threaten me with a beating?

"Please, Sundar... Mummy is asking you only for your own betterment, yes?"

Now that's more like it! "Alright... I'll go... Today... Happy?"

An hour later, I reached the clinic of a Dr. Lenin at No. 8, Gundu Salai, Natesan Nagar, Puducherry. How on earth do people come up with a street-name like that: Fat Street? Fatso Street? Bomb Street? It was my mother's friend who'd recommended this physician, as her own daughter had apparently witnessed magical results from treatment at his hands. I was skeptical, and so was the man seated outside the empty clinic on a rickety three-and-a-half-legged stool.

"Is the doctor in?" I inquired, only to make him stare at me with more skepticism, get up, and walk inside the clinic never to return. Impatient, I removed my shoes and walked towards the door crowned by Dr. Lenin's name-plaque, wondering if the "doctor who blessed his patients with magical results" would look like a tuxed magician with a tall black hat and a long shiny wand, or a priest with immaculate long and white robes, mustache and beard, holding a brassy kooja, with aromatic healing waters in it, in one hand, and a dusty-old Rudraksha-mala in the another.

I walked in, only to realize that the doctor had already decided to look just like the man on the rickety stool outside the clinic. Darn it!

"What's your problem?" interrogated Dr. Lenin, no sooner than I sat on the "patient's seat" right next to his kingly chair.

I thought the doc's only magical; now I learn that he's also extremely courteous and kind. 

"Hair fall!" I explained, "My scalp gets very oily, sticky and itchy unless I shampoo my hair every single day. I'm not sure if it's the condition of my scalp, or the daily usage of shampoo that causes the hair fall."

He continued to stare at me skeptically. I'm not lying to you doc, for god's sake! Trust me!

"Look at the ground!" he commanded.


"LOOK AT THE GROUND!" he roared, even louder.

I obeyed, wondering if I had somehow desecrated his (holy) presence. What spell are you going to unleash on me, O magical doctor? Have mercy!

Click! He turned on his battery-powered torch and peered onto my head.

"Pediculosis capitis" he pronounced, after an intense round of examination long enough to stiffen my neck, as he began to pen his verdict on a prescription letter pad in wriggly letters. The rest of the prescription letter was written in perfectly illegible DoctorScript.

"Pedi-cu-losis ca-pi-tis" I struggled to read from the prescription letter, "What is it, doctor?"


"Dandruff? But I've never had any white flakes fall off my head!"

"Pediculosis means scales... Scales... Mixing with oil... Getting sticky..."

Now why didn't I think of that?

He got up, walked to a few shelves hidden behind thick curtains at a corner of the room, and brought back pills in small paper packets. After giving out confusing oral instructions as to how and when I should take these pills, he comfortably placed his arms on the rests of his chair and gave out an "Anything else?" look.

"Thank you! What's your fee, doctor?"

"Four hundred... For the consultation and the tablets..."

Four hundred? I can't bargain with him, can I? I handed out a 500 rupee note, which he examined with great care to ensure that it's not counterfeit, and handed back a 100 dollar note. Things I could do with four hundred rupees... If it hadn't been for mum, and that nosy friend of hers...

Exiting the clinic, I put on my shoes as I sat on the empty rickety stool outside, and headed home wondering how silly it had been of me to have not known that I had dandruff for so long!

However, I was still skeptical.

So, as soon as I reached home, I switched on my computer and googled about Pediculosis capitis.

The results of the search blew my fuse.


Because Pediculosis capitis is the medical term for the mundanely common head-lice infestation!


So the bottom line is, I ended up paying four hundred rupees to a crook who has diagnosed my hair fall problem to be caused due to lice...

...and having a bunch of hair in my hands that I pulled out of my head in complete exasperation!

Now you're happy, mum?


I called up the doctor from the phone number printed on the prescription letter, and spoke to him 'naively':

"Hello! Dr. Lenin?"


"I'm the patient you consulted minutes ago..."


"I looked up Pediculosis capitis on the Internet and learned that it's the medical term for head-lice infestation. But I don't remember you speak of any head-lice. So I called to resolve the confusion. Do I have head-lice, doctor?"

"Internet explanations are always confusing. Don't worry! Take the tablets!"

"But, doctor, every article very clearly explains Pediculosis capitis as head-lice infestation. Also, no article speaks about dandruff or hair fall. What do you comment on this?"

"Eh... Lice causes dandruff... Dandruff causes lice... No confusion... Take tablets!"

"Okay, thanks!"

He's a crook alright!

Dear readers:

Here is a case of daylight robbery. If an educated man can be fooled and robbed so easily, how about the ignorant, illiterate, poor and needy people who seek his help?

I do have his hand-written prescription well preserved.

Is there a way to teach him a lesson?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Thinking Inside the Box

"You think you forgot something?" asked Sagar, wondering why I was staring at the car trunk for so long.

"No, none that I can forget. Let's head home!" I said, quizzically as always, as I joined him on the front of his Santro. It was time to bid good-bye to my abode in Chennai.

It turned out to be a beautiful drive along the East Coast Road to Pondicherry;  fresh rays of a rising sun fell on our shoulders, as the two of us, everyday-soldiers as we were, discussed our everyday-battles that we forge for a living.

"Dude, your stuff are going to be just fine," he said plainly, annoyed by my frequent turns to the rear of the car. "Trust me!" Are they gonna fall off the car or what? Silly old friend of mine!

I let out a weak smile, strong enough to conceal the thought that I couldn't help but not let go of ever since I had boarded the car: How my entire life, and all my assets and possessions, had fit snugly into the mere boot of a car!

And then I began to 'appraise' myself...

First, there's me (i.e., my body, if I'm allowed to call it an asset!), wearing my eye-glasses, a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a watch and a pair of all-terrain shoes; my wallet carrying some cash, my ATM cards linked to my salary and savings accounts, my driver's licence, PAN card and all  my other ID cards, and a few seemingly worthless articles that bring back priceless memories only I know of; my Xperia which holds my calendar and to-do lists, along with all my beloved family and friends in its address book.

Second, my backpack carrying a folder that holds all of my certificates and documents - right from school through to college and work - my Acer laptop, a Made-in-India umbrella, a pouch of stationery and another of toiletries, and my personal and professional diaries.

Third, a suitcase that comfortably accommodates all of my modest wardrobe.

Fourth, a king-size bag carrying all of my books, which has grown rapidly from empty to dangerously over-loaded in the last couple years, thanks to a few of my close (and slimy) book-worm friends.

Fifth, a foldaway mat that I sleep on.

And finally, my music production synthesizer keyboard, a pair of Sony monitor-headphones and other music accessories.

Although, in this journey so far, I may not have amassed enough possessions to impress 'chics' or to pass on to progeny, I cannot find a more belittling truth than that I, my asset and life's possessions can all be thrown inside a mere box...

... even when I'm alive and breathing!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

For reign or Foreign..?

Republic Day Special - 
Originally penned by me on April 28, 2007

A very sunny afternoon. Walked to the bus stop opposite to college grunting at the scorching weather. I soon realized that I was not the only one grunting... A blond in her mid 20s was dragging her worn out feet across me, 'beneath' an outsized backpack. 

She was plump, wearing trendy convertible cargos; her bright coloured spaghetti top complemented her catchy saffron-tinted sunglasses. She was completely exhausted. 

She accosted me and enquired if the bus to the Pondicherry Beach was due. I affirmed with a grin and gave her specific details of where to alight.

I signaled her the approach of the bus.

We embarked the bus that literally 'brimmed over' with civilians.

Right since I boarded the bus, a pertinent question made me pensive.

... infact so pensive that I failed to alight at my bus stop. 

Having realized that it was too late, I had to alight at the next stop.

I alighted.

... and so did the woman who was the prime reason for that persistent question in my darn head...

I was surprised to see her walking briskly in a direction opposite to that of the beach.

I caught up from behind her and cried, "Pardon me my good lady, I'm afraid you are venturing in the wrong direction..!"

An earnest smile lit up her face. "I thought I needed some repose... This's my inn..." she said, pointing out towards an inn.

"Repose... repose... ??? Ah yes... 'relaxation'...", I thought to myself, smiling, with the satisfaction of comprehending a White woman's words...

"I presume the Ashram Guest House is replete by now..?", I inquired, aware of the fact that tourists like her make seamless plans ahead of their journey.

"By Lord... You're right... I should've booked a dorm in advance...", she sighed...

I then noticed her exquisite Rajasthani necklace. A master-piece indeed. This rose the pertinent question in my head once again...


"I bet you're breaking your head on something..?" she asked, both to my surprise and gratification...

"Quite right... I was just thinking... ... ..."

"Yeah, please go on..."

"... what you foreigners find at all in this country... I mean... Is there anything in this place that is worth seeing, notwithstanding the grotesqueries of your travel... I have been curious since I was a lad... Now that I've found the right person to ask..."

Her response took me by sheer surprise...

She began to belly laugh... And said,

"I'm sorry... I'm afraid I'm the wrong person to be asked this question... I'M VERY INDIAN..!"

I was dumbfounded...

She added, with her arms stretched, "My home... No place like it..."

I still didn't recover from it...

"Well, I am very Indian... Don't you recognize this piece of Indian jewelery..?", she added, with a grin...

All I could do was to chuckle... "So where is your 'real' home..?", I asked, still curious...

"Delhi, our country's capital..." was her quick reply... "After bidding goodbye to Manchester, England, once and for all!"

I could see her eyes twinkling with patriotism... Something that never happened in mine...

I glanced at her one last time... Her benign smile... Her refined countenance...

"Happy travelling my fellow 'Indian'..!", I greeted cheerfully...

I walked my way to the bus stand... Only this time pensive with another pertinent question...

"How can an adopted daughter have more love on her mother than the love for the same mother had by her very own son..?"

Epilogue 1:

Exactly four years since I pen this, down to the very day (April 28, 2011), yet another blond uploads her musical cover of one of my most favourite Hindi songs with a spectacular video featuring her wearing not just Indian jewellery, but also Indian attires, and even Indian henna! Blond coincidence?

Epilogue 2:

Another Friday, and I'm set out to catch a bus home from work, curious to meet my niece before she'd go to bed mad at me. A PRTC bus arrived, fully loaded as usual, and I manage to get my bum into the bus.

Inching my way in from the engine-side of the bus, I come to stand next to what was an unusual sight, for me and to some folks nearby.

Seated on the floor of the crowded bus is a blond, well into her 30s. Interestingly, every belonging of hers, right from to her (inexpensive) pink Churidhar, to her luggage bag (adorned by the logo of Pondy Sri Lakshmi Jewellery) on which she's seated and the purse it carried, were all quintessentially Indian. Clearly, she's not a tourist, but a resident, like me.

I want to start a conversation, but, as always, didn't want to sound corny.

 "Hi, do you speak any French?"


 I notice how completely exhausted she is, gasping for air -- possibly for some strength too.

 "Too bad I can't speak a word of French! Do you know the meaning of the word spelt aah-bey-bey-eh-akson-thegyoo?"

"Monk. You know monk?"

"Yeah, I do, but not many, except the author of this book I'm reading. This Christian Missionary had left France and lived in and traveled throughout southern India for almost 40 years, earning the trust of the natives and documenting their lives along his way."

"Jean Antoine?"

"Sorry?" Zaanantwaan? Why do the French sound like they've swallowed a Japanese kid when they begin to pronounce a French name?!?

"The monk... Jean Antoine?"

"Well, the cover of the book reads Abbe Dubois"

"Yes, Jean Anroine Dubois it is!", she says after letting out a tired chuckle.

"Here, look... A portrait of the monk... Looks like a native... Dressed like a native..."

"Just like me, eh?" she winked, as she pounced to grab a nearby seat of a passenger preparing to alight the bus. She's definitely lived here long enough to master the Indian art of seat-hunting!

As the bus resumed its journey, I watch let her heavy eyes succumb to their weight, and begin to wonder where my own journey is taking me to.

Where will I go?
Who will I meet?
What will I find?
What will I lose?

Can't wait to recall it all as I lay in my own death-bed, far from today, after having lived my life to its fullest...

Monday, September 26, 2011

இரவின் பரிதவிப்பு - Song of the week

இரவின் பரிதவிப்பு (Angst of the night) - my newest music track is now out on Soundcloud. The song has been composed and arranged in my Yamaha MO6 in the likes of contemporary Tamil filmy music. Check it out and tell me if you like it!

Elements I adore in my song myself: the upbeat piano intro that races to the top, stops, turns around and gracefully descends down to the start, the rich tapestry of bass which sits at the backdrop and melts life into the song, the minimalistic percussion that fits into the mood of the song, the ‘josh’ of the steel guitar strumming away, and finally, the orchestral twist in the end.

The Lyrics

When my friend Krithi, listened to me jamming the leads on the piano, she felt that the song was itching to narrate a story to the world. Soon, the scene was set – a couple stealthily spending the night together under the moonlight – and we began to pen the lyrics as sung by the girl. She supplied the words and the transitions, and I refined, metered and fit them into the song. For more stories, check out Krithi's blog.

இரவின் பரிதவிப்பு 

என்னவென்று சொல்வதடா இந்த பரிதவிப்பை,
உன் கரம் என்னை அணைக்க...
பொங்கி வரும் காதல் வெள்ளம் பெண்ணின் நாணம் மறைக்க
உன்னில் நான் என்னை இழக்க...

என்னவென்று சொல்வதடா இந்த பரிதவிப்பை,
உன் கரம் என்னை அணைக்க...
பொங்கி வரும் காதல் வெள்ளம் பெண்ணின் நாணம் மறைக்க
உன்னில் நான் என்னை இழக்க...

தீண்டும் உந்தன் விரல் நுனி,
தீயில் விழும் மலர்க்கொடி,
விரும்பினேன்... விலகினேன்...

விலகிய மறு கணம்,
வருந்தியதென் மனம்,
சீண்டினேன்... உனை தீண்டினேன்...


... and a couple more stanzas for the section 0:54 to 1:05 in the song. 

I'd love if you guys too contribute to the song and the lyrics!
And stay tuned for the female vocal version of the song coming out soon!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Just You Wait

Today, while chilling out at the coffee machine in my office (enjoying my 'screen-saver moments" as Russell Peters elegantly puts it), a mellow voice floated in the air and brushed my ears. As I searched the corridor to find the young woman whose singing had caught my attention, I was disappointed. There was nobody on either sides of the corridor, except a janitor mopping the floor.

Before I'd dismissed it as a figment of my imagination (perhaps one of those "audio-enabled-screensavers"?), a closer inspection revealed the true owner of the voice.

The janitor herself.

There she was -- making deft strokes on the floor -- each stroke meticulously dampening every square inch of the floor -- each stroke meticulously following the rhythm of the song.

I couldn't help but witness the office floor be transformed into a Leicester Square stage (complete with strobe lights and live musicians), showcasing the musical of a discreet broom-wielding star.

I soon landed back on the office floor and decided to get close to hear her better. Keeping in mind of her discreetness, I walked towards the lift on the corridor, pressed the button to summon the lift and waited, unaware. Moments before the lift had arrived, I turned to her and said:

"You sing well, akka!"

"Sir?" she cried, with alarm reeking from her eyes.

"I said, you sing very well!"

"Me? What was I... Was I singing?"

"I was having my cup of coffee and I heard you sing. You sing well, seriously."

She blushed. Profusely. And I began to wonder, if there is any jewel in this world which can embellish a woman more than her unfaked blush.

"I head our company's music troupe. Would you like to sing on stage?"

"If I sing, the audience will run away!", she quipped, blushing all the more.

"I think the audience would love to hear you. May I ask your name?"

"Malath..." she stopped, bit her tongue and said, "Usha".

I smiled and took the stairs, knowing for certain that hiding her name can't possibly hide her talent.

I doubt if Henry Higgins has set foot on this world in my shoes, but I sure do look forward to have her singing on stage; only this time, wielding a microphone for a change.

UPDATE (March 03, '11, 17:40 hrs):

Spoke to Usha today. Learned that she has become the laughing stock amongst all of her fellow workers, after one of my colleagues (?!?) inquired my company's facilities team of her whereabouts and if she sings well. All of Usha's coworkers, she laments, now believe that the idea of her singing on stage is a joke!

I spoke to the clearly upset Usha (who now confesses that she can't sing more than two lines of a song), assured her that her coworkers deserve a mighty revenge, and that she must practice hard, get on stage, grab a mic and steal the show!

Hail Higgins!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Discourse on SaaS

I take this opportunity to explain a model that has clearly begun to revolutionize the world we live in.

SaaS stands for Spouse as a Service (not to be confused with Sex as a Service).

What is SaaS?

When a spouse (and all the benefits which come with the spouse):

1. are always available in the desired ways and means
2. come with no up-front costs, i.e., you only get to pay for what you use
3. provide you with the ability to easily ramp-up and ramp-down the amount of services that you can receive at any specified time (based on your moods and temperamental levels)

then the spouse is said to be offered as a service.

Why SaaS?

The disadvantages of an on-premise spouse, as offered by conventional matrimony, include:

High CapEx -- CapEx or Capital Expenditure (net expenditure necessary up-front in order to begin enjoying the services of the spouse, e.g., restaurant bills during initial dates, wedding expenses) is high.

High OpEx -- OpEx or Operational Expenditure (recurring costs necessary to maintain the spouse within your premise, e.g., clothes and jewellery) is staggering.

Vendor lock-in -- Owing to [1] you have complete ownership of the spouse (and all the flaws that come with it) and [2] you have already invested considerable time, money and effort in getting used to the spouse, a lock-in is created, removing all possibilities of you trying out another spouse.

Lack of scalability -- You may NOT need all of the services offered by your spouse (and) at all times.

Untapped SMB market --  Most SMBs or Small to Medium-waged Bachelors can never afford to acquire and maintain a full-blown on-premise spouse.

SaaS addresses and eliminates all of the above disadvantages of an on-premise spouse.

Features of interest to a consumer of SaaS

Security -- All of your confidential data (such as bank balances, investments, property) shall be kept secure and highly confidential.

Enhancement -- If you are dissatisfied with a particular service offered by your spouse, this model offers a convenient way of tending to them (faults or change-requests).

Customization -- You would have the ability to customize / tailor your spouse to fit your needs.

Availability -- Your spouse shall now be always available -- especially in those times of hightened emotional / physical need.

Termination -- If you are completely unhappy with the spouse, you have the liberty to terminate the services and find a more fitting spouse.

Integration -- It will now be possible to seamlessly integrate your spouse with your internal systems, such as family and friends.

(Note: All the above come with strict SLAs or Service Level Agreements)

SaaS-y isn't it?!?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Song of the week - Purple Dreams

As I continue to venture in the unknown everyday...
As I come closer to realizing my dreams...
Purple Dreams....

Purple Dreams by shivsu