The 46-Rupee Meal

Ten years ago, when the world was a nicer place to live in, I was just getting out of high school, full of misdirected ambitions of making a difference in the world. Of the many things that were ideal back then, I liked the fact that I could have a hearty meal for less than ten rupees. That’s about 5 cents. Maybe not a ‘hearty’ meal, but certainly a couple of idlis and a vada for eight rupees. For the uninitiated, an idli is a white colored, steamed rice cake, about the size and shape of a BlackBerry Curve and a vada is a brown colored doughnut-shaped (and sized), deep-fried eatable that goes perfectly well with an idli. Ten years ago, a pair of idlis and a vada together used to cost eight rupees.

Today, ten years later, I realized that there has been a 475% increase in the cost of the same meal. A pair of idlis and a vada, today, costs 46 rupees.

Idli Vada
Two Idlis and a Vada - The 46-Rupee Meal

That’s still less than a dollar, but for someone who’s spent the better part of his life here in India, that’s daylight robbery. The strangest part of the entire experience today over lunch was not that I was fretting about the astronomical increase in the rate, but the equally enormous decrease in the quantity and taste.

The sizes of the idlis and vadas have reduced so much that its hard to spot them when you put them on a plate. You have to have a pair of really good binoculars to identify where they are and make sure that your spoon hits the mark. No, I’m exaggerating, of course, but you get the idea. And the taste, well, I have eaten pieces of cardboard (for free) that have been tastier.

I hate to call this inflation, because the term ‘inflation’ has a definition, a universally-accepted identity. I would call this phenomenon a gross negligence on the part of the Indian public, who have allowed this kind of injustice to penetrate every aspect of their lives. Our lives. Commonplace examples – a tennis ball that used to cost ten rupees now costs thirty. A piece of chewing gum that was half a rupee is now three rupees. A toothbrush that used to cost around four to five rupees is now thirty-five.

How I wish I were living in the stone ages, where all I had to worry about was the next critter I caught for dinner and the next female I slept with. If wishes were horses, I’d be a very rich, sexually-gratified stable boy.

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Twenty-Four Hours

If  you knew that you had only twenty-fours hours more to live, what are the things you would do?

I know it’s a morbid question, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since I heard about the guy who died three days back. Well, he was a guy in the prime of his life, much like I am, and he was on his way to work thinking, I’m sure, of all the little nuances we think about when we drive to work – the meetings we have planned, the way things are headed, last night’s dinner, the last person we had sex with, whether or not to buy the new phone, whether or not you can trust these online dating sites, whether or not its time to get the car serviced, etc. Out of the blue, he hit a particularly nasty pothole, lost control of his motorcycle, got thrown in front of a speeding bus on the opposite lane. I shudder when I imagine that it could happen to anyone.

So, to occupy my free time these past two days (and I seem to have a lot of free time), I’ve been making a list of all things I would do if someone told me that I had only 24 hours to live. It’s sort of a bucket list, but not exactly. It’s more of a death-row wishlist.

I would probably start off my last day alive with a hearty breakfast without any stops, without any of the usual healthy crap. I would stuff myself to my heart’s content and head out to get some action. I would probably sleep around all day with different women, and in the evening, drive up to a beach and drink some cold beer, watching the sun set. I would end it all by walking out to the sea and start swimming towards the horizon.

But that’s just me.

I’m sure you can think of a lot of better things to do than having a lot of unprotected sex on your last day alive. Anything interesting that you care to share? Free beer for the best one, if you’re a guy. Free date with me, if you’re a chick.

Does It Suck?

Being single. Does it suck?

Its been 8 months now since I officially broke up with my last girlfriend – let’s call her Kay, to protect her privacy – and the past 8 months have been quite weird. It’s not that things have been really bad, no. On the personal front, things are quite well, to be honest. I find more and more time for myself, to do things that I’ve never dared to do when in a relationship, to meet and flirt with other women – women I’d have just fantasized about talking to, for fear of being called unfaithful, and finally, the freedom to spend my entire paycheck on myself, without any guilt. It does not suck, on first appearance.

Being Single

Lately, I’ve been re-thinking my position on this issue. A quick introspection has revealed that being single, for all the goodness it promises, does indeed, suck. There are times when I miss the intimacy, and these pangs are becoming quite frequent in the past few months. To know that there is a woman in your life who loves you as much as you love her, who (almost) doesn’t judge you for what you are and do, who cares about your well-being and is a good enough friend to endure your drunken mistakes and laugh at your inane jokes, someone who knows when to fight and when to patch up, who understands your mood swings enough to change their lifestyles according to them, and finally, someone who doesn’t mind eating whatever you cook because they’re kind enough not to tell you the truth about the excess of salt or the burnt bottoms.

Well, Kay was all this and more, and not a day goes by when I question my actions that led to us breaking up. We all have the potential to be jerks, and I was one of the biggest back then. And at the time, I thought I was justified in being a jerk. Thankfully, I’ve matured enough to understand that I wasn’t. She’s matured too, making it on her own. A great job, a good house, a bike and good friends, and more importantly, she’s done it and doing it on her own, with little or no support from any family ties, in an alien city.

We’ve kept in touch, Kay and I, over the months, and have reached a stage where we can talk politely to each other, go out for coffee and occasionally, do the odd chore or favor for each other, without physically injuring each other. There was a time when we couldn’t be in the same room together for fear of ripping each other apart with our bare claws hands, and we kid about those times today.

I guess its cathartic, what we do. It’s given us a fresh outlook to the whole process of dating and relationships, to an extent that we try to set each other up with other people. Maybe its the residual feelings talking, or maybe just a sadistic longing to share my loneliness, but I’ve managed to dig up a few creeps for her to date. More importantly, she has managed to find some bigger creeps for herself, without any help from me. On the other hand, she has vehemently refused to find me a date, as she feels that my social life has a lot more people than hers, and that I should have no trouble in finding someone on my own. I don’t deny it. But the fact that I truly wish, from the bottom of my heart, that she does not find someone better than me, is cause for concern. It’s not jealousy or sadism. It’s just selfishness from a man who still loves her and is foolishly optimistic about his chances of getting back together. Very foolishly.

Oh, we did flirt with, and give up the idea of getting back together. Its like yesterday’s chocolate pudding – very tempting and a very bad idea. She’s still out there, looking for a decent guy to date, and I’m still here, resisting the urge to reach out and keep her selfishly to myself. Shouldn’t we learn from our mistakes?

PS:  She’s quite the character – fun, hyperactive like Pigwidgeon on dope, very hot and very very sexy. She hopes that this post of mine will be a very decent and non-desperate alternative to a dating site, and urges decent men who read this to get in touch for a date.

PPS: Same goes for me. Hot chicks, get in line for a good time.

Image Courtesy: Profilebrand.com

Gokarna & Why I Go There

This one goes out to all those unfortunate, uninitiated and uninspired individuals. Get off your high horse and read this.

There may be a hundred reasons why a person goes to Gokarna. People looking to get laid, people looking to score and get high, people looking for a nice, secluded beach and people wanting to offer their prayers in India’s most sacred temple. I don’t know if there are any other reasons, and frankly, I don’t really care why people go there.

I go there for a totally different reason, and its none of the above.

I lead a difficult life. I need to balance my passion to work, my unceasing urge to travel and roam aimlessly across the country, my singularly fierce attraction to beaches and my bank account. Juggling these four volatile substances while playing air hockey with the family, the bosses, the peers, the juniors, the friends, the foes, the creditors, the goons, the loons, the whackadoodles, the geniuses, the crap, the stench and the slippery slopes of bankruptcy, unemployment and loneliness around every corner is taking its toll on my nerves.

There are very few things I’m passionate about, and those that I am passionate about, I am so with a vehemence unseen in anyone else, for anything else. I do not go to Gokarna to ‘do drugs’. I do not go to Gokarna to ‘sleep with women’. I do not go to Gokarna to ‘drink drinks’. I do not go to Gokarna to visit the temple and offer my prayers. I do not go to Gokarna for the sea food. I do no go to Gokarna for the rustic beauty of the village. I do not go to Gokarna to ogle at half-naked women lounging in the sun. I do not go to Gokarna because I love beaches and water. I do not go to Gokarna to swim in the ocean. I do not go to Gokarna to live. I do not go to Gokarna to die.

I go to Gokarna once every three months because I need to get away from the Greek tragedy that my life is fast unraveling to be; to clear my head of all thoughts – good and bad; to reboot myself. I go to Gokarna because its the only place on Earth that welcomes me without judging who I am or what I have done. I go to Gokarna because that is the only place on Earth where I am at peace. Completely.

I have a sea rock, which I call my own, ten feet out into the ocean, at Om Beach. Its a bit of a hike to get to the top of the rock, and once I get there, I sit, looking at the waves crashing into me on all sides, rising twenty feet high and spraying me with a mist of cold, salty water. I listen to the rush, the gurgle, the power and the wordless songs of the waves and as I stare out into the horizon, imagining a place beyond comprehension, where the sky kisses the ocean, I realize that I am peaceful, within and without.

Gokarna - kudle beachNothing of what is happening in life matters here. Time stands still for me, for the 48 hours I’m there. I put my feet up at a cafe, sipping sweet tea and reading a good book, or people watching on the burning, golden sands. I take a nice pleasant trek up to Kudle through thick brambles and open moors and I wade in the white sands until the sun starts to set. I walk back amidst the gathering darkness to Om Beach, walk all the way up to Half Moon and back again. As night descends around me, so does the peace, deeper inside me.

I need this. I can’t do without it. For the unfortunate, uninitiated and uninspired individuals, I recommend it. The only thing I get high on, when in Gokarna, is Gokarna itself.

Scuba Diving: My First Time

Yeah, I did it. After three years of deliberation, I finally got a chance to dive! I took PADI’s Discover Scuba Diving session in Bangalore through Planet Scuba India. This will be just 4 pictures and not much text, but remember not to laugh. I couldn’t find a wetsuit that fit me, so I had to dive in my vest. I looked like a pink baby whale.

I'm in the background, with my instructor in the foreground

 

That's me and Anamda, giving the "OK" sign. See, I look like a whale / walrus!

 

I'm in the background, racing with Atul for the finish line! I'm winning. Really, I am.
And there's Atul, giving me the finger.

It was the best 40 minutes of my life!

Of Cucumbers & Facial Creams

Look closely at your life, and at your circle of friends. There will always be a cucumber in there somewhere and there is bound to be a jar of facial cream too. I mean this figuratively, of course.

Some people are bright, witty and fun to hang out with. Others are cucumbers. They lack spice, they look boring and more often than not, women (and certain men) use them as sex toys. Again, the sex toy reference is a figurative one, with all puns intended. They are the most bland people you could meet on the face of this earth. They lack character, they kill any joy and are an absolute nightmare to hang out with. I know a lot of such people – both men and women – and however hard I try, I cannot get rid of them.

These cukes are usually devoid of any facial features – they have a strangely blank face with a stupid expression at all times. You can never tell what they are thinking, because they aren’t. It will usually take them a lot of time to process the simplest of information and their general knowledge and intelligence quotient is woefully inadequate for survival. Fortunately for the rest of us, cucumbers are a comic relief in this Greek tragedy that is life.

Then come the jars of facial creams. I’m sure you know a lot of people who fall into this category. These are people who are full of useless shit.

Image Courtesy: IntricateArt.com