Saturday, July 28, 2012
I woke up wanting to strangle someone with my bare hands- err…don’t get too excited- the person I was looking for was my mobile phone. With her constant and untimely chirruping to wake me up from a deep and fantasy filled sleep it was turning into the biggest pest of my life- giving me a taste of what married life would look like. And if you wondered why I referred to my mobile phone as a person - its because it is so smart, that when I first bought it- the day I opened the box and took my first look at the little dear - I had to get it a birth certificate, an insurance policy and even named it (like all men do) after my first love…hence the present need to mute it silent and sleep a bit more. But duty calls or to be precise…my friend called and said “I am waiting at the station for you, where are you?” I didn’t hesitate a bit before saying “caught in a traffic jam..Be there in 5” before cutting his call and hurrying into the bathroom to brush.
By the time, I had reached the station my friend was giving me call after missed call, which I wisely avoided picking up till I was gone past the security at the entrance who tried to strip search me – but they couldn’t get past my unwashed socks- which were the first item I removed and laid on the counter-top..they took one sniff and deciding not to search my body cavities- for I don’t even have a remote resemblance to any known terrorist- they just satisfied themselves (those perverts) with asking me to pass through the x-ray machine and taking a good look at my hidden assets . Post the security check I hurried into the crowded central hall, glanced at the now arriving/departing board and listening to the taped (for ever the same) “yaathriyon krupiya dhyan dhejiye” being played endlessly on-loop and I finally answered my friends call- “where are you?”.
He let loose a string of obscenities which I will not repeat here (in respect to any family audiences) and ended by directing me to come up to platform no.3 where he was already aboard the reserved compartment. The women on the speaker was now screaming something like “thodi se der mein” and I couldn’t make out the rest but knew instinctively that it was time to turn on my superman act if I was going to make it aboard in time. I shook my hair, removed my aviators, folded them, tucked them into my shirt and with a burst of energy plunged recklessly into the milling crowds blocking my way. I moved so fast that the toes I stamped on and the midriffs I elbowed barely had time to turn and catch a glimpse before I was way past them. I pushed past the people crowding the doors just as the automatic doors hissed shut. There. I had made it. Now to find my friend.
As I moved on deeper inside, from the unreserved section near the tail, where I had boarded in my hurry, into the reserved seats at the front, I craned over the heads of all the seated people trying to figure out where my friend had parked himself. I had to carefully step past the people who were seated all over the floor, breaking boiled groundnut shells and throwing them all around after eating the nuts. Every time the vehicle lurched with turbulence I stamped on a few but went past quickly- dodging the groundnut husks which came flying at me. Finally I sighted my friend and went up to him “late as usual” he complained and I just grinned an apology at him silently.
He moved a bit and let me sit down beside him on the seats for three, which was somehow crammed with four people already beside me, people who even sat perched with half-a-butt resting on the side armrests. “How come?” I gestured to my friend, pointing to this crowd and he said “Un-reserved” with a small snort of disapproval. He was always a curt fellow and didn’t talk much. Meanwhile, a vendor was passing by shouting “tea, kaapi, lassi” and I bought two cups of chai. I also snagged a couple of hot samosas each from another vendor passing by. As we were having our on-board morning breakfast of oily samosas, a fortune teller, carrying a parrot was pestering a young couple seated just before us- trying to frighten them into hearing their fortune with dire predictions of the future. My friend shook his head at the audaciousness of the fellow and said “wait till the ticket checker comes”. He must have heard my friend for he suddenly turned towards him and predicted “Babu..You are going to face great challenges in your life in the near future”. I shook with laughter at this and said “yes he is, I have seen the girl he is betrothed to” and I passed on a ten rupee note to the parrot-astrologer for his spot-on prediction. My friend turned red and was mumbling something under his breath. And then there was a ripple through the entire compartment as the ticket examiner came through punching the tickets.
He caught sight of the fortune teller and hurrying up straight to him caught him by the front of his shirt and asked “where is your ticket?” The fortune teller merely smiled and scratched his head. The ticket puncher looked as if he would punch the fortune teller and asked “How dare you board then?” to which the fortune teller coolly replied “Why not? What will you do? Stop the flight in mid air? And throw me out of the plane?”
And that was the highlights of my first flying experience on a Low Cost Carrier Airline….
(P.s. this post was written as part of my entry for a competition conducted by Low cost carrier Air Asia)
Friday, July 27, 2012
Imagine for a minute that you have been diagnosed with a, let’s say for arguments sake, a minor disease which requires surgery. And you request your doctor to do it on such and such a day- an auspicious day or a sentimental day or something which is of great significance to you. On that day, with friends and family surrounding you to offer moral support, mentally prepared for the ordeal to come, you go all ready to the hospital, only to be informed that your doctor has suddenly been called away on an urgent summons and you can either postpone or get it done by another replacement doctor. What would you do? Which choice would you take? And what would you think of the doctor who suddenly went away?
I try and imagine all these questions, putting myself in the shoes of a patient, every time I get a sudden call to join a get-together or a party or a date on a Saturday. The last one being the most significant dilemma indeed - as it is the only one I cannot avoid without feeling the pangs of great regret. The profession of a doctor is indeed a throwback to older times, when men worked all the time and just came home to sleep. Most doctors I know, though there are always exceptions, work round the clock and don’t have any family life to speak of. The neglect their wives and kids and often have unhappy family life, even if they do become filthy rich. I have always been careful to learn my lessons from them and have tried to structure my life so as not to end up in a similar condition. But sometimes you just can’t change things all the way; you have to go with the flow.
Most of my friends work Monday to Friday. Their weekend starts from Saturday morning. Unfortunately, for us doctors, we work from Monday to Saturday and our weekend starts from Sunday mornings. There was a time in my younger and more foolish days when I used to even work on Sunday mornings- half a day till noon in a mistaken belief that I was a “go-getter”, but thankfully I have stopped doing that now after spraining my back and suffering constant low back pain and nowadays I take a full holiday on Sunday and sleep-in till 10AM. But for all doctors, Saturdays are one of our busiest days- because a lot of office-goers, who have a holiday on a Saturday, decide that is the only day they can go to see a doctor for any aliments they have suffered throughout the week. And we doctors have to necessarily adjust with our patients preferences because we are after all a service oriented industry and we have a duty not to turn away anyone who comes to us for help, Hippocratic oath you know? And if that means being woken up at 2 am in the morning by a random stranger who sees the board and decides to ring the bell, to ask for a pain killer tablet from your sample medicines for his alcohol induced headache, because all the medical shops are closed at that time, then you have to grin and bear it too- this a true incident, btw.
And this kind of commitment to the job creates a hell of a lot of problems in our social and romantic lives. I have forgotten the number of “hip and happening party” invites I have turned down because I had to work on a Saturday evening. I have even forgotten the number of movie invites I have turned down because I was working on a Saturday, movies off all my favorite actors too. But what I can’t forget are the number of possible-spouse girls I never had an opportunity to date because I was working on a Saturday and that is the only day they were free to date. Their lives run around the Saturday free? So let’s date, concept all the time. Me? My life runs on a appointment register, which we doctors take so much pride on boasting among ourselves “I have a full appointment list for the next two weeks”. That is my reality.
The problem worsens when the girls I date, incongruously expect some spontaneity from me, expecting me to turn up for outings suddenly, to surprise them with my presence or even when they call me on a whim and expect me to be there with them immediately when they need me to. But forget spontaneity, all I do is get to worry over how to call up a patient who had fixed up an appointment almost a fortnight ago and tell him/her that I suddenly can’t make it that day and they better get a new appointment after another two weeks, regardless of how much their disease will worsen in the meanwhile. Should I let that patient wait that long? Or should I ask one of my friends or colleagues to substitute for me and carry on that treatment on the given date. Which option is good for the patient? This is the kind of dilemma I, and most doctors, wrestle with on a daily basis.
My friends who don’t have such questions to ask of themselves, merrily fix up every party, every get together on a Saturday after Saturday and then when I don’t turn up, complain that I am neglecting them. They can even get to party on weekdays quite spontaneously, as their office superiors are somehow most considerate and when they ask for an hour long’s permission – they grant the rest of the day off and ask them to come finish their work later that night or whenever convenient. Unfortunately my job doesn’t work that way. I cannot work when I want to; I have to work when other people want me to. And this has led to a lot of misunderstandings and confusions with my friends who feel that I am creating a “always busy” scene and who fail to appreciate the real facts.
This sometimes even goes into the extreme when I am dating. There was this girl Ms.P, who I was dating a couple of years ago – who was very big on spontaneity. She used to call me on Saturday mornings- “I am at such and such a theater with two tickets for a movie. You have to be here in 30 mins to join me for the movie or else I will call someone else, some other guy friend and go to the movie with him” and she will put down the phone expecting me to follow her command. And you know what, in the next ten minutes I would plead, cajole and convince someone to cover for me at work and would be there by the end of the appointed 30 mins, sometimes traveling halfway across the city too. I would be so tired and hassled after somehow making it to the movie that I never used to enjoy the first half at all, till my pulse rate slowed down and my breathing got back to normal. She never used to listen when I pleaded my inability to join her suddenly, she was all for breaking the routine and spontaneity. It was “come or I will go with someone else” always with her. Till one day, in irritation and exasperation I told her “Go, with whoever goes with you” and cut off her call, expecting her not to follow through on, what I thought was an empty threat. Imagine my surprise when a couple of hours later when she called me up during the interval of the movie, and putting me on speaker phone, spoke to another guy, a colleague from her office who had turned up in the 10mins time left for the movie (seriously how do these guys make it?) and then told me that if I couldn’t appreciate her, she would find someone else who would. I was weary of antics her by then and I wished her all the best with her new (poor) guy who didn’t know what he was getting into.
And that’s been the story pretty much always. I have been accused of being not spontaneous. Me..the guy who used to catch a glimpse of a wall poster of a new movie and turn up at the theater for first day/first show. The guy who use to watch a noon show at 12 pm and then straight back to the counter to get a ticket for the next immediate show and go back again to watch another film. And I am supposed to turn down a movie ticket because I am “not spontaneous”. Can anyone imagine how hard it is to do? To deny myself the pleasure of following my own heart? To put duty before pleasure? And to be misunderstood to boot- its adding salt to the wound/insult to injury. And that’s the reason I have pretty much reduced all my social commitments to just on-line interactions and that’s why I avoid all get-togethers nowadays with a polite “oh, I will probable turn up later, so don’t wait for me” instead of saying a flat no or even trying to explain my predicament as I used to do in my younger days. I have learnt the lesson, the hard way, that people don’t appreciate being told that someone is working when they are in the mood to have fun; it kinda spoils the pleasure for them too. So it’s better to give a bland response then go into specifics. And hence my life nowadays is filled with work and more work all the time, without any social gatherings, get-togethers, romance or dating. But at least it’s peaceful to say the least.
One of the lessons I have learnt from all these dating mishaps and misunderstandings is - the reason why my friends married within the profession (something which I have always castigated them for- for being narrow minded). And also the reason for why generally doctors marry other doctors only. Because these things I wrote about in this post, they dont have to be explained to another doctor, they are already known and understood. And accepted too. But I hate to think that I should be forced into taking such a decision solely for this practical reason- leaving out all the romance and fun of dating someone unknown who just catches my fancy someday. Hence I feel I should look for someone who is even more busy then me, even more hard working than me and someone who when I call and say “hi, you wanna go to a movie today?” says in a energetic, don’t-disturb-now voice “oops, sorry, got a busy day ahead, maybe some other day”...now that’s the kind of girl I want to be with.
P.S. the reason for this long rant, I won’t qualify this as a post and dignify it btw, is that as I am typing this on a Friday night, I have before me a glossy invite from one of the most “Hip and Happening Up-coming Fashion Designers” a childhood friend of mine, who is launching his own line with a ramp show and then a rocking after-party at a swanky beach house and here I am already thinking of ways to excuse myself without even thinking over the decision. That’s my life.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
(Disclaimer: this post is intended mainly for those with a Y-chromosome, and those two little thingies hanging down there)
I was coming back this afternoon from Parrys Corner on a 7-F bus. Those who have travelled on this bus know that it travels through Vepery, Purasawalkam and then Kilpauk before finally arriving at Annanagar. The bus was a bit crowded right from the start and I was standing near the middle of the bus. As the bus passed through Kellys, it was school leaving time and a group of school girls from the Bains school had got in. As they were also pushed inside by the crowd they were standing near about where I was in the middle of the bus. And then, I happened to notice that two guys- with the typical vijay fan look…you know, the brightly colored t-shirt with a crumpled outer shirt and unkempt dirty hair types? They were standing behind those girls and one of them was pulling down a school girl’s skirt with little jerks, smirking at his friend all the time and the poor kid did not even notice what was going on.. (p.s. on a different note- nowadays the creeps are either attacking younger and younger kids or maybe I am growing older/mature- so these girls all look like kids to me now).
Anyhow I was kind of disturbed about how everyone else around pretended not to notice those two ruffians doing the abhorrent act quite brazenly, and still the girl was busily engrossed in conversation with not the smallest tinkling that her skirt was slipping down from her waist and people around watching eagerly…in times of tension my brain works pretty fast and as luck would also have it (and as I knew well) the bus took a sharp left turn suddenly and my hand which was holding onto the rod above slipped (with perfect timing) and my elbow made a perfect hit on the top of the head of one of them, me being around 5”10” and he at least a half foot shorter.
There was loud rrnnng..the reverberations could be felt in my arm and I am pretty sure that the guy would have seen not merely the stars but the entire milky way for the next couple of minutes. After about two minutes he recovered, and looked around while I maintained my best “I didn’t do it miss” patented look. He must have his eye on me for he leaned over to his friend and together whispered for a couple more minutes and then he asked in a plaintive voice “sir, why did you hit me?” (enn saar, edichinga?). I could have denied it of course, but the use of the sir told me that these guys had given up on any thought of confrontation...so I merely looked at him grimly and said “bus shaking/I falling/you moving front” and to my satisfaction the conductor joined me at the precise movement to shout “move front, move front”. So using that excuse I pushed them both with my body right up to the front of the bus, even up to the steps. I don’t know what they thought then but they both got down at the next bus stop itself and I heaved a sigh of relief.
The point I am making is there were so many other people around, both men and women, who were all watching what happened but not one of them raised his voice or tried to do something – to at least warn those girls and prevent something bad from happening. I understand that not everyone would want to get involved or get into a fight or anything- but at least giving a shout could have chased those cowards away. I am not especially brave or anything and if there had been more than two of them, I wouldn’t have tried the direct technique but maybe something else more subtle. But anyway in that entire crowd there was not one voice either to castigate them or warn the girls or even to support me (not that I needed any). Which makes me wonder where went all the real men with two steel thingies hanging there? And these are pretty much the same crowd would will, the next day over their morning cups of coffee- read about such incidents of harassment in the papers and go all righteous with anger and ask for strict punishments from the authorities. But on the spot? Uhmm!!!
Anyway this reminded me of another incident a couple of years ago, when I was driving down with my chief around nine in the night just past the Egmore railway station. We happened to notice an auto driver hitting his horn repeatedly and chasing behind after two foreign women- typical backpacker tourists with guide books in their hand- harassing them incessantly while driving slowly alongside them. My chief and I – we decided to give that auto driver a taste of his own medicine – and we took up position behind his horn and honking incessantly- we waved at him to get a move on. He stopped his auto- evidently angry at being disturbed at his entertainment- and came straight at out car. My chief and I both got down of the car to give him a piece of our mind. My chief, although nearly sixty years, but with a big body frame (bigger than even me) and a bigger moustache- looking more like a politician/policeman (than a doctor)- two people even auto drivers prefer not to tangle with, looked at him menacingly and authoritatively and the auto driver turned tail then and there and ran away. After a loud laugh we got into our car and went our way.
And I am still not sure whether things would have gone the same way if my chief was not there and I might have not have ended up trying to harass back the auto driver on my own. The point I am again and again trying to make is I am not extra brave or anything but am a normal man. What I feel is, when there is something bad going on which can be prevented by raising our voice it’s the least we can do- then and there, instead of browbeating about it next day online and expressing condemnations in letters to the editor. And I am not suggesting that you go out get a cape and a mask and then go about the streets protecting all the girls who are getting harassed. That’s not the point of this post. What is is.
Shout. Raise your voice. Shame someone. Save the male gender from being lumped all together with those creeps and pervs. And do it today and every day.
Friday, July 20, 2012
My blogger friend Karpagam has tagged me in her post here: (http://grafitti-on-my-wall.blogspot.in/2012/07/you-are-tagged-11-questions-tag-game.html) and dared me to answer these following questions….So here goes…
1. What/who got you into blogging? A note of thank for him/her/it?
Hmm…that’s a difficult one to answer…..i would have to thank a whole bevy of my ex-girlfriends for giving me the impetus to blog...And I if I absent-mindedly leave out one or two names..i am sure they would track me down and hurt me..So why take the risk? So I would dedicate my blog to all the “Lovely Ladies” out there who taught me about life…
2. You are gifted with a great voice, what song will you sing to your love?
The one and only song to sing to my love is Bryan Adams “Everything I do, I do it for you”…the literal truth….
3. If you are given the time and money to learn something new today, what will you choose to learn?
Aikido…I have always wanted to learn it, but I can’t go to Japan to learn it (cant afford unless I win a lottery) and they don’t have any qualified Aikido trainers in India (yet).
4. What do you like and dislike about marriage? (Bachelor(ettes) can let their assumptions run here!)
Like about marriage- The certainty of waking up in the morning and looking at the face you love most sleeping beside you…
Dislike about marriage- when the love is reduced to bare financials…hate that money talk… (When someone uses the word CTC- I go “Mercenary”)
5. What according to you is an act of kindness?
When you give of your time when you can least afford it or got more important things of your own to do...but still stop to help strangers in trouble….(hey..I did that this morning…so…)
6. A date with a celebrity - whom will you choose and why?
Bill Clinton….you can’t really call it a date- maybe more a Mentor-Apprentice meet…I would just like to ask him “how do you pull off so much stuff and get away with it?”….
7. What adventure sport do you SO love to do right away? With anyone in specific?
A Boar- Hunt in the Czechoslovakian forests….with my hunter friend Mehul Kamdar
8. Do you like photography? What do you think of the developing culture of SLR craze?
I do dabble in Photography…but my best pics are from my mobile camera..un-posed/raw/candid shots..So though I would love to get a DSLR as a birthday gift (anyone listening?)…I wouldn’t mind doing camera-photography only
9. Whats your secret recipe that you'll cook to impress or woo someone? (okay if its maggi!)
My fusion-mix Omelets’ are something to die for - say my friends who have tasted them...at least when they are drunk….
10. What do you like about your best friend?
Bearing with me and my preachy holier-than-thou attitude….can’t be easy….keeps telling me- “you should have worn a cassock and gone into a pulpit- you missed your vocation of sermonizing” and its true too...
11. Whats the MOST favorite post A)written by you B) written by others? Share the link!
Written by me – This one about my origins (of blogging) http://audialtempartem.blogspot.in/2007/05/why-audi-altem-partem.html
Written by others –some many, but I liked this one recently about a Brave girl who fought back against harassment: http://chennai.ihollaback.org/2012/07/13/soundaryas-story-i-just-hit-him/
(P.S. Any comments/questions would be answered less-than-truthfully, so don’t say I didn’t warn you- and if persist in wanting to learn the truth- you will be served my signature dish- tomato soup…not many have tasted it once, on a visit to my house and still dared to return for another visit)
Regular readers of my blog know that I almost never comment on current affairs because online breast beating and ranting and raving is is not going to be of any purpose and once we have expressed our outrage we are going to just go back to our privileged everyday lives while whatever just agitated us is still going to be there tomorrow. But this once I felt I had to get it off my chest.
And I am talking here about the news report from Bangalore where children who were admitted in “posh” schools under the Free seat (25%) mandated scheme of the Right to Education Act were cropped their hair short to differentiate them in class from the other kids who paid full tuition fee.
Well, what can I say about the school administrators who thought up this scheme? Or the teachers who went along with them? And permitted this kind of atrocious treatment to be perpetrated on the kids in their classroom? I have great respect for teachers, but if a teacher allowed this kind of thing to take place in her class room, then I would have to question the teachers standards and the values they are going to pass on to the next generation.
Think about the kids who had their hair cut forcibly at school. What would they think of themselves? Wont they feel a bit unworthy all their lives after this kind of assault during their childhood? Think of the enormous psychological damage and the sense of inferiority this would have caused in those young minds who for no other reason, no other fault of their own, except for their poverty, have been punished by this cruel way?
And what would the other kids- the normal fee payers- have made of this incident? When they see some of their classmates separated and ill treated for being different and being poor? Wont they get it branded in their mind that if you are poor, you get your hair cut short and are made to sit in a corner like a criminal. They would have learnt the lesson, quite young, that some are really lesser beings than others and being callous and indifferent is the way to go about life. They are the ones who will be more damaged for life than even the kids with the short hair- for they will be learning false lessons of life.
So whose fault is this state? The fault of the parents who even if they cannot afford the tuition fee of those “posh” schools still feel greedy enough to admit their kids there? Why? Because they want their kids to have chance they never had- a better education at a good school? Or because they never thought of demanding from the government they pay taxes to, to make sure that all schools have as good standards as those exclusive private schools?
Is it the fault of the government which was in such a hurry to enact the RTE (just before some elections-vote bank politics as usual?) and despite the best advice from experts chose to ignore it all and tried to bring in a more egalitarian society by executive fiat? Is this what those legislators had in mind when they mandated that 25%?. That a few such scare stories will make the entire RTE a paper tiger not worth the page it is printed on? Not entirely surprising if this turns out to be true- for most private schools are the benami property of well connected socialites and politicians. If people start giving up then the bad guys win.
I just hope that like the black Americans overcame the early hassles in integrated education by gighting for their rights from inside the school system, our people too fight to educate their children and demand accountability from these people. This could turn out to be a Rosa Parks Moment for Education, but will it?