Saturday, November 06, 2004

Headbanging and hind kicking

I want to kick myself tonight for two reasons. Reason one was yesterday and reason two today. First, I lent my rechargeable cells to some visitors on the hill who asked it just for one snap and I 'generously' (stupid!) told them they could have it for some more time. After that, I could not trace the guy to whom I gave it. Repeated requests did not get them back to me. What if they had left already? (Dear Lord!!) Next, tonight I went to this 'rock show'. It was one of those fusion bands with hippies in it; where they 'fuse' Indian and Western music forms; though, what they did was use those western instruments to play Indian music. The music was typically Indian, lot of boom-boom-boom, dum-dum-dum and lots of vocals, with very less of other instruments/sounds. They mostly did music inspired from Indian whatever, and some on radical thoughts. Those radical sounds was like listening to GWBush rapping. They did not sound like a rock-band, in a rock show, but it takes real talent on part of the audience to convert everything into headbanging stuff. That's not the point anyway. The second reason comes here, I spent both my remaining sets of cells clicking unwanted pictures, of the band. Yeah, photos of hippies in the noughts. Later, when there were interesting stuff, like a bonfire and a dance party, I had no power left in my camera. (Images of flowing skirts, stuffs bouncing all over the place, lost forever) There is another reasons for the cells running out, however. It was the overenthusiastic but idiotic gang of around 15 that insist on seeing every photo; if it takes x units to take one photo, it takes 2x units for them to look at what I had taken. That means, if I can take 200 photos using one set, I can now take only around 70.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


This is that time of the month again, when the hillbillies go wild and do the boogie-woogie. One could observe Newton's (all the three) laws in practice. The drill never seems to change. Muzac starts just before midnight, alcohol starts flowing sometime after that, the floor is empty for a while, some slightly drunk boys jump into the floor, people shaking their hips in the side with a glass of alcohol or plain coke, some more jump in, a few girls start and then return to their bases, more boys, most of the girls are dancing now, one or two people dance comparatively great, 2 hours into midnight and the crowd thins as the drinks run out and the hill people lose steam. Some dance on till the wee hours while the rest return to their rooms. The same routine everytime, like a clockwork. Even the playlist sounds the same party after party. Last year was bad, after listening to the same songs in the same order, one could exactly predict what song would come next. Today, the playlist was mostly different and new faces in the crowd - visitors on the hill.

Now starts the real fun; the sound effects that reach my room. At around 2am, I can hear some guys retching in the toilets. First only one, then one more, then one more; they all vomit in unison, like a choir, or the frogs near a pond. I could hear one while I am typing this. Well then, all's well that ends well. Except for some: Life's a bitch, then you die.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Madras, Nalla Madras

Woke up this morning leisurely, knowing that there are four days of hypo-activity lined up in front of me. The cool morning looked very pretty today. Also, a few of my friends are coming to this normally sleepy place which will be buzzing with activity and a rockshow till sunday evening. I dragged myself to the mess, ugh, wannabe burgers and yellow coloured omlettes! To be different, I had bun and tea, Madras style.

I was thinking for a week, whether to go home for this (last) vacation, or not; I could spend 10 days with very high speed internet with half the population away or spend less than a week (4 days for travel, 2 days each way) with family and my cousin's baby boy and about a 1000 bucks to go there. Well, I could get internet at home, if not at high speed, but the baby won't be a baby for a long time. So, I decided to go home.

Another thing this morning was the amount of email from friends in the USA complaining about the election of Bush for a second time. They feel it is because of the lazy voters. My favourite was the one which started "It's official, the people in this country are going to hell in a hand basket." They all feel because Bush is re-elected, the end of time as we know is near. One said, "I don't know which group is more foolish......the assholes that voted for that clown again, or the assholes that sat on their worthless asses and didn't vote. I don't give a fuck what happens to people anymore. If something catastophic does happen, it will be well deserved." I am not including other emails because of the high amount of vitriolic words (in both senses) in it.

I don't know why these guys are so angry about Bush; whether Bush comes back (he is), or Kerry was coming (he isn't), I think the world IS a doomed place, so long as the unilateral policies of USA works. How can they think Kerry would be a better president for the world? He too, like Bush, would act only in the interest of the American people (maybe not all, but atleast their party people). Raman aandaalum, Ravanan aandaalum...

L'Hôpital and expiry dates

This is one of those 'giving back to the society' things. We were supposed to do one consultancy-like work free of cost to anyone in and around the hill asks us for help. This is all done by one of the passive-aggressive profs. We, a group of 3/4ths of a dozen were assigned to help a health-care and covalesence centre which I will refer to as 'En Aaspathiri'. We were supposed to visit the place and suggest improvements.

When we visited the place for the first time, it looked so similar to a major railway station in India - chaos reigned the place, benches were covered with human doodoo; wherever there was a corner, the public had marked their territory through tobacco spit and/or human weewee. The patients were the affected lot. They were generally those people who cannot afford to go to other health-care centres which were costlier but much cleaner and efficient than this place. Patients were lying around everywhere, in the corridor, outside the centre, generally anywhere shade was available.

The patients' relatives were made to run all over the place by the 'courteous' people you would call 'wardboys' (whose wives I would call aunty). According to insider sources, this place reeks of apathy, corruption and insubordination, but runs quite well. Even today I saw a poor woman, wearing a well worn saree, tiny sticks for ear-rings and nose-ring, crying to a social work coordinator about how she was conned off of 100 bucks by a tout, which will be two days' salary for her husband. Me and another guy personally spent 25 minutes trying to pay a bill of around Rs. 100 while the guys behind the counter (including one woman) started fighting verbally with a patient's relative who was standing to pay the bill. The battle was in only one counter but the other three cashiers too jumped in to support their colleague; the power of unions. There were union posters/bills stuck over all the 'information' boards in the centre. If management guys could be disoriented by the layout and the lack of information boards, imagine the plight of the mostly illiterate poor patrons.

Outside, a few pigs were running all over the place. When I pointed this out to some guy, he just said as a matter of fact that they were the 'cleaners' of the place, and they do wonderful work keeping the place clean, even though they might appear dirty. If they keep the place clean, then it is ok to spread enchepalitis and other diseases!

When were assigned to this (using an industry term) 'project'. understood at first that we have to improve this almost-charity centre and make it compete it with the non-public centres. However, there was a small confusion in this. I do not know what exactly happened, but again, according to insider sources, we were told by EA chief that we were supposed to improve the quality and its image only and not to become a competition to the non-public centres. We tried to do according to the now required objectives. The prof thought we were trying to do some gol-mal and HIS till-now-passive aggressiveness reared its head and we were summoned for a meeting through email.

Some of us were in a 3 hour class when the email came and only a couple went to see HIM. When HE was explained about our absence and the class, HE is reported to have quipped that 'even this was very important.'

We were very enthusiastic about this 'project' before we started. The morale was high as we were assigned on a mission to clean up this dinosaur. Once we saw the place, we understood that this could not be done in 6 days spread over half as many fortnights. One guy in my 'team' remarked that 'even a company like McKinsey would take atleast 6 months to do this project.' Well, I think he was off the mark by another 6 months.

During the project today, I smelled the stench of death for the first time. Have you ever had a rat caught in your cupboard and had died there? Imagine ten such rats packed in a biscuit jar. It was either the smell of death or the guy was really really sick. He (what is the past-tense of he?) was laid on a stretcher in the middle of a very narrow corridor.

I had only seen a handful of deaths in my entire life; starting with the college guy upstairs who fell down two storeys and did not survive, the lady opposite our house who 'bathed in fire' after a fight with her husband who tried to save her; he too did not survive to see the second day; my neighbour's father (my friend's grandpa), my own grandpa, my brother's best friend's father. I had seen quite a few accidents too, and many 'terminations' on television. Today's incident bought back all these memories.

What were different about today were the smell and the fact that even though he was surrounded by his family and friends, they were simply chatting and one laughed too. Did I miss something there?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Birthday Boy

This is how birthdays are normally celebrated, as your parents taught: Print invitations for all your friends and send them out, arrange for cake, food and drinks. Friends trickle in with presents, and you happily cut the cake while friends and family sing happy birthday.

This is the case here, in WKIPHB: When the clock strikes 12 (00 00hrs), the kid is dragged out of his room, ink, eggs, coffee, tea, cool drinks, soapy water, etc are poured on him. four people carry him by his limbs while others take turns in kicking his bum. This is called birthday-bums. Cake is cut, food and cooldrinks on the kid, everybody disperse happily. See? that is not so bad.

In addition, this kid's birthday was celebrated thus by these people who are supposed to be his friends: in addition to the above procedure, neem oil was procured specially for him. If you didn't know, neem oil is the stinkiest vegetable/plant oil extract out there. Women in rural South of Tamil Nadu use neem oil everyday. When you are unfortunate enough to be in a bus there, your olfactory senses will be overwhelmed by this smell, over and above the smell of karuvaadu, kozhi or suruttu/beedi (sun-dried fish, chicken or cigar/bidi.)

After fierce resistance, the neem oil was wasted on the ground. But a few drops still were upon him. when he playfully smeared the cake leftover, some oil accidently went into the mouths of the senior guys. A few of them became furious and wanted to take revenge upon whoever bought that bloody oil.

One instance: dirty chappal was immersed in water and poured on the chief instigator.
Other instances: detergent, shaving cream, liquid soap, etc were mixed in water and poured on the other guys.

In a Well Known Engineering College in India close to a race-track, this happens, among some circles: There are water tanks in bathrooms for filling up with water to be used in the toilets. An hour or so before midnight, the tank is filled to the brim with water, mixed with a generous amount of fountain pen ink, eggs and whatever liquid they could lay their hands on, and (hold your breath), that yellow coloured liquid that you do naturally (when someone does it when sleeping, it is called bedwetting). The kid is then dunked inside the tank, and his bum plastered.

Some of my college friends might disagree with this, but they were all decent guys and might not have seen this part. I have seen, my seniors, my super seniors have talked about it. even my uncle, who lived in the same cell err, hostel block as I did and his friends have said the same stories. Even my juniors 2 years younger told the same story. It is like a tradition. My birthdays were never celebrated in the hostels.

Can you corrolate with this?

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Booth Capturing: India vs USA

Booth Capturing, Indian style:

Modus Operandi: Goons belonging to one party rush into the voting booth, kick out the legitimate voters; sometimes in collusion with the election officials, sometimes kicking them out too; punch in votes for their party candidate, stuff the ballot box, go away.
Result: death of voters ranges from 0 to a few dozens, wide news coverage, that party's candidate gains overwhelmingly from that booth, sometimes re-polling ordered

Booth Capturing, American style:

Modus Operandi: Get a company sympathetic to your party (always Republican party?) to make the software and/or hardware for the election and rig the voting machines such that whomever the voters vote for, only Bush/Cheny gets the vote.

Result: no deaths, minimal news coverage, that party's candidate wins, re-counting ordered, Supreme Court of USA declares GWBush won.

This has been reported even in As always, the people at have avoided boycott by Republican internet users, by downplaying and advising the voters to be cautious.

With inputs from friends in the USA, and the internet.