Sunday, March 26, 2006

Uncle Sam I am Here

After months of speculation and answering the - "abe tu abhi tak gaya nahi" queries from a lot of my friends, I finally announce my arrival here in NY. Its actually a strange experience of looking outside your apartment's window to see America all around, if you get what I mean. There are a lot of Desis as well and who the hell said that every fourth person you see around is a Chinese, its India all the way. Just yesterday I went to the Indian Street and there I was amidst those Paan ki dukaans and the sabzi bazaar.

The flight experience to begin with was again as expected. A 14 hr direct flight brought me here and as luck would have it, I shared my space with a Bong who had been around in the US for the past 5 yrs and a retired Ahmedabad Electricity Board Officer who was visiting the US for the first time to be with his kids. There were no hot chicks in my vicinity and I did not really care. Its almost become a certainty in my life that girls never book a seat within 3 rows of where I sit.

The flight was not without its share of experiences though. I overheard the Bong being lambasted by his wife for not not calling her before leaving Delhi and for waking her up early in the morning just to inform her that his connecting flight would reach Albany by 12 in the afternoon. I helped the retired uncle in filling a couple of forms for immigration purposes. He had a strange habit of filling the 'Official use only' column in every form that he got and I went to the airport authorities claiming that one of my baggages was picked by someone else while my bag waited to be picked at a wrong conveyor belt.

Life in US also means that you get ample chances to show your culinary skills. I tried hard and with minor hiccups got the matar paneer bang on. It tasted okay and people seemed to relish it too. My friend's room-mate brought his girl friend to the house just to let her taste it..I think I'll make a good cook with some practise I guess :)

The first weekend of my 'business trip' to US is over and I still don't know which project I am going to work on. Though I must tell you that the Manhattan skyline looks simply out of this world. I don't think I am going to appreciate it as much from tomorrow I guess when I see it from my office's window. It was such a nice feeling to stand at the same location where SRK stood and sang Kal Ho na Ho and croak until the statue of liberty started to protest against my singing, calling it a scathing attack on the liberty of people who wanted to live in peace. I still felt like King Khan though, the only difference being that instead of Preity Zinta, I had Abhinav Sinha to sing to.

The jet lag is now going but I still feel a bit sleepy during the evenings and wide awake at 3 in the night. I'll be clicking a few pics and uploading them here next weekend. Before I sign off, this too needs a mention. Four of us had a pretty normal Indian Buffet today for lunch and it cost us $12.5 each. I have now decided to go without dinner for the next 2 days to make up for it and in the long term thinking on trying my entrepreneurial skills here by setting up a chat thela or something on those lines. Somebody willing to join me here?

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Chosen One!

I like to believe that I am one of God's chosen ones. He keeps coming up with strange ways to keep reminding me about it. So whenever I forgot to wear my school belt to school, there had to be a surprise uniform check and now just two days before I have to go on my maiden business trip, I am down with a badly bruised, swollen nose and fighting to be fit.

But this time its not going to be about me. I am getting bored of exposing my own follies and giving a chance to others to take a dig at me in their blogs. Lets talk about some general - "Why me?" instances that we keep facing sometime or the other.

Instance 1:

You book a railway ticket in the holiday season. You hope against hope that you would be getting a berth next to a very beautiful chick. You would impress her and then maybe..You might even consider wearing your favorite perfume that day and the first thing that you do on reaching the station is to grab the railway reservation chart. But as luck would have it, all your dreams come tumbling down like a pack of cards. You get to share the cabin with an elderly couple. They begin their conversation with you with something like - "Beta can you go to the top berth, as you can see, my wife has trouble climbing up?" You sure cannot say no and earn the wrath of other fellow passengers.

The misery doesn't end there. Just when you decide to take a look at the other occupants of the bogie on the pretext of going to the restroom, you are sure to find a group of girls just a few seats away from yours. You console yourself with - "Maybe luck has something better in store for me" and return back to your seat. The nightmare shows no sign of ending even then. When the lights go off, you have to deal with the incessant snoring. What to do, you twist and turn in your berth, curse youself..look upto the heaven and cannot help asking - "Why me?"

Instance 2:

You board a flight. Here there is more hope because girls feel safer traveling alone in a plane than they do while travelling in a train so the chances of finding them are more ripe here.

You look around at all the people who stand in queue to board the same flight as you do in anticipation. The beautiful air hostesses greet you but you want a better return on the money that you have spent. How about a beautiful girl occupying a seat next to you? At this moment destiny takes over. A 30 something woman with two small kids gets the seat next to you. The kids seem to have just one point on their agenda, outsmarting each other in a crying competition. They also develop a liking to your fancy watch and won't let up until you give it to them to earn some peace. This time you don't look upto the heaven, you just glance outside the window and want to cry aloud - "Why me?"

Instance 3:

You are watching a movie in a theatre and you get a seat next to a girl who looks beautiful in the darkness of the theatre. You mistakingly keep your Pepsi in her arm rest and she spills it on her dress. You get a chance to strike a conversation with a - I am really sorry refrain to which she simply replies in some mumbling sound. Not a very encouraging sign but a breaking the ice kinda conversation nonetheless.

During the intermssion, you keep your popcorn packet safely in your arm rest and go out. When you return, you find all you popcorn strewn on her seat. You really don't have the time to think. You go and throw the packet in the dustbin to erase any visible sign of your involvement in the crime which you never committed anyways. She comes back..she mumbles again cleaning her seat and you try to plead your innocence with silence and turning the other side.

But does this happen to everybody? - Not really! I guess I just can't help writing about myself even after promising not to do so. This, I guess is just for one upmanship. To tell all and sundry that I really am the chosen one - wot say you?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Rang Barse

Basanti: Veeru, Gabbar ji kuch pooch rahe hain.

Gabbar: Holi, Kab hai Holi?

Basanti: Director ne naachne kaha hai dolle-sholle dikhane ko nahi

Veeru: Main jat, yamla, pagla, deewana. Mujhse ye sab nahi hoga.

Mangal Pande: Mangal Mangal Mangal Mangal Ho..Mangal Mangal..

Rani: Umm ab bas bhi karo na Pande-G, kab se Mangal Mangal
laga rakha hai

Amit: Pappu paas ho gaya..Pappu paas ho gaya

Chandni: Ab bas bhi karo Pappu ke Papa. Ek hi film to hit hui hai uski.

Anu Malik: Do me a favor lets play Holi

Audience: Do us a favor, stop singing Anu Malik

Happy Holi Everyone!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Confessions of a Budget-illiterate mind

Every time during this time of the year a feeling of despondency creeps within me. I feel ashamed of myself, quite shallow to say the least. I curse myself, feel stifled, insignificant, a waste. Why? Because I don't understand the head or tail of the Annual Budget.

I am an engineering graduate and now a working professional and I also pay my taxes but I still fail to fathom how to categorise the budget as anti-'me' or pro-'me'. Budget analysis in ET/Business Line to me is just like my doodhwallah being asked to read and describe Mozart's symphony. Yes, i did take a couple of economics course electives during my B.Tech days but passing them never gave me the confidence to take the Budget Bull by the horn.

To pass those courses was anyway easy, you just had to know that your Prof was a socialist and had protested against fertile land being acquired by the Institute management to expand the campus which supposedly left a lot of farmers in the lurch.

Prof: How would you rate this year's budget?
Verdict: Job well done!
Lesson: Play it safe. Always!

Prof: But do you think a co-operative society is feasible in Bihar?
Me: Sir, with due regards, a successful economist should never sound pessimistic.
Verdict: Watch out for your grades son!
Lesson: Never make fun of your teacher in front of the class.

Coming back to this budget thing, though most of the times we discuss girls, a few of my intellectual friends sometime rake up discussions on Economy and stuff like that. They talk all about the need to open up the retail sector, Disinvestment - its pros and cons and about the shares that are performing well in the market while I look around in an empty gaze and sometimes nod in between so that I am not left out of the intellectual discussion.

Friend: The GDP is 'X' % and the economy is booming.
Me: Cut the crap man! Can you tell how much raise will I get?

These days I have stopped surfing news channels because their Budget analysis keeps reminding me of my ineptness, my failure. As if that's not enough, I get these threatening calls from my office accountant and CA who threaten to deprive me of my salary amount if I don't furnish a thousand and one relevant proof and forms by the first day of the month.

Accnt: Agar apni poori salary salamat chahte ho to kal raat 12 baje Mandir ke peeche wali pahadi par Form 12(b), Rent receipt aur investment proof ke saath aa jaana.
Me: Itni jaldi main itne forms ka intezaam kahan se kar paaunga.
Accnt: To fir bheekh maangne ko taiyaar rehna. Ha ha ha ha..(disconnects the phone)

Till today after 20 months of being in service, the TDS(tax deducted at source) for me is like a 'guess the number' game. I still take the tax cuts on my salary as God's way of punishing me for all my sins in that month. With a few bucks missing, I still feel emancipated.

Its the third day of the month now and the media coverage has shifted focus from budget to Dubyaman's entourage and the sniffer dogs they have brought with them. Moreover, I think that I have confessed more than what Abu Salem would have confessed after the Third degree grilling by the Mumbai Police. So, till the demon in the form of the FM returns with a suitcase in his hand in the Parliament next year, let me just try and start life afresh.

"Chubhte kaante yaadon ke..daaman se chunta hai meri kahani"

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