Chai Around The World

Chai Around The World

Howdy Folks!

I’m alive. Surprise!

So, here’s the deal. I rarely come here on MirrorCracked these days. I had forgotten my password – I got in on the 4th attempt. I don’t know what’s happening on the scene anymore. Are you guys all still here and blogging? I don’t know how many will even read this – I’m sure a lot of people would have given this blog up as dead. I hope not.

I blog at a new location now. I’ve been traveling. A lot. And not on my own. Wink 😉

Check out Chai Around The World. Let me know what you think of it. I plan to return here soon enough. I’m mustering up the courage to revisit the old haunts, read up on all your blogs and update my abandoned blogroll very soon. Within this week, I promise. Just because I don’t blog here often doesn’t mean I don’t love you all.

Go. Read my other blog. Tell me your thoughts.

Free beer for all.

Advertisements

The Man From Nowhere

“See the nowhere crowd cry the nowhere tears of honour 
Like twisted vines that grow 
Hide and swallow mansions whole…”

— James Hetfield, The Memory Remains

He came from nowhere and he didn’t know where he was headed. He seemed lost, confused, a paper boat caught in a hurricane, with turmoil eroding the last traces of sanity and reason in his head. He was escaping, hopefully to a better tomorrow, but he didn’t know for sure. He wanted a fresh start, desperately. He didn’t know how he was going to achieve it – his bad luck seemed to have followed him here as well. Everything he tried seemed to fail, and fail miserably. He caught himself searching for straws to clutch at.

He vowed to find a muse, an inspiration, a candle in the whirlwind of his bad luck. He wanted to find the elusive abundance of good luck that had deserted him for so long. He yearned for the peace and tranquility that had been hiding from him. It was not a search in vain.

He met her on a hot, sunny afternoon and they regarded each other cautiously, unsure of just how much attention the other person warranted. She seemed harmless enough, but he was expecting his seemingly unlimited quota of bad luck to step in again.

“Been a while,” he said. Cautiously. Two tigers, one paranoid and the other indifferent, circling each other.

“Yes. How have you been?” she asked.

“Good,” he replied and they went on to talk about other things mundane.

Time flew by and a pact was etched in stone between them, unwritten yet indelible. It took time, obviously. It did not happen overnight. He began to experience her presence more and more in his life until it almost became an addiction. Over time, he started craving for her company. She became the beacon of light in the darkness that had clouded him. She forced him to embrace good luck again, though he never knew how she managed to do that.

He still had no destination in mind, but he knew that his journey wouldn’t be lonely anymore; the journey that he had started from nowhere and had seemed to head nowhere; the journey that she had spectacularly derailed and made more bearable. He had a lot of things to be thankful for. And for a million things more.

He had found his muse. He had found his share of good fortune. The man from nowhere was finally home.

Two Zero Eight Four :)

I stood on the edge of land.

“I’m back, baby,” I whispered.

“I missed you,” she said.

“I missed you too.”

She responded by gently swirling around my ankles, gurgling as she withdrew and made way for another of her waves to wash over me. I had a smile the whole weekend in Gokarna. I’ve written about what it means to me, so I won’t do it again. I missed the sea, her warmth, her cold, her whispers and her screams, her love, her fury and her caress.

I made two wonderful friends this time in Gokarna. Here’s a shout out to Mahesh and Chris. Hope life takes you both where you want to go, and I hope Gokarna has been as therapeutic to you as it has been to me.

I was born on August 20, 1984. Or, in other forms, 20-08-84. A contraction of the same – 2084 – has always been a special number to me, at least for the past few years when I discovered it. It’s a perfect contraction, and aesthetically speaking, it feels beautiful and complete.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So, all my contemplation and thinking and chickening out ended on Saturday. I got my first tattoo, and I think it beats the shit out of any abstract designs!

Hampi: The Great Escape

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything on the blog. Part of the reason was my persistent writers’ block. The main reason was that I had nothing interesting to write about. Sad as that may seem, I was living in mortal fear of having nothing left to write about. Then, on a windy Friday night, it all changed.

A call was made on my behalf to a travel agent and bus tickets were booked in my name to Hampi. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I can’t postpone my trip any longer. A loaded gun was held to my head and I was made to pack my bag and marched all the way to the bus station. I was violently shoved into the bus and the door was pulled shut behind me. I was on my way to Hampi, the cultural capital of the country.

I have a tendency to exaggerate a bit at times, and though my departure to Hampi wasn’t as dramatic as I described, it was still a decision I had to take despite a lot of leftover work. Half my mind was on my impending vacation and the other half was working on publicity strategies for my clients. I tried hard and put that part of my brain to sleep and told myself that I’d take it as it comes. I convinced myself that I needed a break. I looked forward to three days of blissful peace.

It was 6 AM in the morning when I woke up, jolted by a particularly nasty pothole and was aware of a painfully full bladder. I looked out the window and was stunned by the landscape we were passing through. in the dawn’s early, hesitant light, I looked at a river flowing in all her might, past the greenest trees I’ve ever seen. The scene was killed mercilessly by a burst of black smoke that the bus belched as it wound its way up an incline. I walked over to the driver and asked him if he could stop for a bit so that I could relieve myself. I was told that we would reach the final stop in under 20 minutes and that I should hold it.

I stood there, squirming in discomfort for the next twenty-five minutes until at last, we stopped for the last time at a place called Hospet. I rushed out of the bus before anyone else, ran out on to the other side of the road and experienced the second most pleasurable thing a man can experience by himself. With a satisfied smile on my face, I took a deep lungful of the clean, crisp village air and hailed an auto-rickshaw to Hampi, twelve miles away. I didn’t know it then, but my journey had just begun.

Mowgli Resort & Guest House

Mowgli Resort
Mowgli Resort
View from my room
View from my room

Hampi is a strange place, geographically speaking. The Tungabhadra river cuts the village into two clean halves, which are linked either by small ferry boats across the water, or, when the water levels are dangerously high, by a thirty mile road trip all along the river and over the dam. I had the privilege of taking the road trip.

The thirty miles seemed to pass in a blink of an eye as the auto-rickshaw tuk-tuk’d its way through small towns, smaller villages and some absolutely fantastic scenery. I saw a few semi-hot village chicks and waved at them as we went by, and saw them give me strange stares in return. We arrived at the Mowgli Guest House & Resort at around 9.30 in the morning and I dismissed my auto. I was quite surprised to find that I was the only guest there. I was even more surprised to find that the kitchen at Mowgli had been closed for a week and they were only now opening it up for me. Tourist season, I was told by the proprietor, did not begin for another month. I was early. Lucky me.

The guest house is a quaint place set in the middle of green paddy fields all around it, with a great view of the river. A typical backpackers’ destination, this resort and other similar ones in the area , boasts of an international menu at entirely desi rates. Imagine having a mouth-watering margherita pizza for Rs. 100! But, as luck would have it, being the off-season, the pizza wasn’t available.

I spent most of the first day lounging around, reading a good book and listening to the soothing sounds all around me – the insects, the birds, the wind and the river.

Scooty Streaking

The Scooty Streak
The Scooty Streak

I hired a Scooty Streak on the second morning and rode all over the neighboring villages. I covered almost fifty miles in under four hours, absolutely mesmerized by the landscape and the ruins. One of the strangest things I discovered about Hampi is the atrocious angles at which boulders sit on top of each other. It almost defies physics. it was one of the best mornings I’ve had in a long time. The open roads, the pleasant weather and the vastly amusing looks I elicited by the villagers all added up to a brilliant morning.

A three hour nap later, I went to a small, rustic restaurant that was quite ostentatiously called ‘Laughing Buddha’. With Bob Marley posters adorning the walls and ugly reggae music playing in the background, I sat by the river bank and had a very satisfying chicken sandwich and a much-needed cup of hot, sweet tea.

By the time I returned to my room late at night, I was highly satisfied and at peace. I was beginning to question myself about going back to Bangalore, back to my stressful life.

Hampi & Her Ruins

My Favorite Ruin
My Favorite Ruin

The last day was by far the most fascinating. I took a chance with the over-flowing river and paid a boatman a bit extra to take me across to the main city. After much hesitation and much negotiation, he got his boat out and ferried me across an angry river. I sat, clutching my life in my hands, as the boat rocked and threatened to topple over any second. Safely across, I met my trusty auto-rickshaw driver, and for the next seven hours, he took me on a comprehensive tour of all the sights of Hampi. The once-mighty Vijayanagar empire that now lies in ruins in and around Hampi is quite a sight to see.  For a glimpse of what I saw, check out the album.

I am constantly in search of peace, and more often than not, I mistake peace for momentary pleasure. Hampi is a place that has taught me quite a bit about peace and how to achieve that state of mind.

It is definitely a place I will keep coming back to.

How To Spot An Indian

I’ve been hearing a lot of incidents of racial profiling, where Indians are ‘randomly’ pulled out of lines at the airport for a thorough check. It has picked up tremendously after 9/11 and I’m not surprised. As Indians, we unfortunately share the skin color and hair styles of the usual terrorist suspects. I would be racially profiling myself, if I said that all terrorists are middle-eastern, so I won’t say it.

A lot of people in Western countries shit their pants when they see a brown guy sporting a full beard. This fear is doubled if the brown guy is wearing a white kurta. And they practically run for their lives if this guy sports a Taqiyah – the traditional Muslim prayer cap. And there have been a few instances where a white guy literally had a heart attack when a brown guy he was talking to, used the word “Allah” in his sentence.

Terrorist SpottingThis is so ridiculous. There is a limit to paranoia, and taking it out on brown-skinned men and women, just because some brown assholes killed a bunch of white people in the past, is calling for trouble. Don’t get me wrong, I am shocked and disgusted each time there is a terrorist attack anywhere in the world. As a pacifist myself, I find the unnecessary loss of human lives intolerable. It is okay to be afraid, but it is not okay to assume that every guy with brown skin is a terrorist with a bomb strapped to his balls.

So, I have decided to write a small but useful guide to help people identify Indians in a line-up. Look, Indians are a harmless, gutless bunch of people who gave the world Kama Sutra, and wanted everyone in the world to live happily together, having awesome sex with each other. We are not the kind of people who would want to harm others. Hell, we go ballistic when our kids eat non-vegetarian foods and call them murderers – we believe in instilling guilt very early in our kids.

The first thing you should notice about an Indian guy in a line-up (I’ll get to Indian women later) is that he won’t smile. His passport photo will look as if he is attending his mother’s funeral. But this alone will not help you weed out Indians from terrorists, because terrorists don’t smile in their passports as well, as Russel Peters very eloquently put it, a few years ago. So, the next thing to do is check out a suspect’s facebook profile or, if he’s in the airport check-in / check-out line, grab his phone and check the pictures on his phone. Here’s what you will expect to see:

  1. If the Indian in question is a student at an American / UK / Australian university, he will have definitely stored pictures of himself posing in front of every tree, post-box, car and white guy he comes across. And in all these pictures, he will be wearing a pair of shades that are too big for his face, the thickest fur-lined jacket (if its winter) or a hat that can only be described as a fedora (if its summer). He will also have the smuggest expression on his face that seems to say, “Look at me, I’m so bloody cool!” Yeah, he’s an Indian, let him go. He will probably wet himself if he is questioned about bombs and guns. If you don’t believe me, then take a look at what I did when I was a student in New York. This is a link to my album on Orkut – I am so ashamed of myself that I hardly use Orkut these days.
  2. If the Indian is older and his passport lists him as being married, then his phone / facebook profile will have hundreds of photographs with his wife, taken on their wedding day – the wife will be posing solo in many of these, in a gaudy silk saree and a head-full of flowers, in front of various background images of waterfalls and mountains, arms raised in different gracious angles… He’s an Indian, let him go.
  3. If the Indian is older but unmarried, he will probably be trying to smuggle booze and cell phones into the country to distribute to his cousins and friends and parents. Hold him, but be warned that he will have a fantastic defense planned – something about being forced into this by a girlfriend or a dying kid from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

I hope that I have made it abundantly clear on how to spot Indian men and I hope that this guide will aid law enforcement officials to avoid profiling of Indians because of their skin color. Always remember, we are the assholes posing stupidly in photographs. We are not killers.

PS: It’s quite easy to spot an Indian woman – she’s very hot and she screams in terror when any guy gets too close.

PPS: This post is not meant to be offensive to anyone. If, in the process of putting down my opinions, I have inadvertently insulted any religion, caste, creed or camel, I apologize.

Why I Deserve The Nobel Prize

With a little less than three hours to go for the Nobel Prize 2010 Announcement Ceremony in Sweden, I have decided to enter the race in all the available categories. This post is meant to be read by the arbiters of the Swedish Royal Academy and I do hope that they don’t make the mistake of overlooking me and my remarkable achievements in this regard. I deserve the Nobel Prize for the following compelling reasons. I am an honest man and none of what I write below is falsified.

Nobel Prize in Physics:

I was the first man in the world to explore the physical properties and inconsistencies of photographic film, paving the way for stronger and more secure forms of image storage. This happened when I was ten years old and I took a brick and promptly broke open a 32-exposure Kodak film, the one that rolls into itself. You know what I’m talking about. I took the spoils over to the National Security Agency in the US of A and explained why they needed to invent digital cameras. They took my advice and the history (future?) of photography changed forever. I hereby nominate myself for the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery, invention and exploitation of digital cameras.

Nobel Prize in Medicine:

I was the first, and perhaps the only man in history to record a ten-second footage of what happens to the facial muscles when excessively stimulated by rock music. The video is available here. This discovery paved the way for the recent improvements in plastic surgery and permanent disfigurement clauses in the constitutions of the almost every country in the world. The very fact that you can walk up to a plastic surgeon and tell him/her that you want to look as handsome and stimulated as I do is a testament to my great discovery. I hereby nominate myself for the 2010 Nobel Prize in Medicine for great advances in plastic surgery.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry:

I was the first man in the world to ascertain the true nature of the drug whose comemrcial name is Aspirin. Acetly Salycylic Acid (ASA), as it’s chemically known, was a CIA invention aimed at monitoring the world’s population. Each and every molecule of ASA contains roughly 13 carbon atoms. What the CIA did was replace one of these Carbon atoms with a molecular camera. Anyone who swallowed a pill of Aspirin literally swallowed a tiny camera and gave the CIA complete access to their body’s interior. I discovered this great conspiracy when I accidentally hacked into the CIA’s database when I was five years old by solving a puzzle in a kids’ magazine. (This true life story of mine was then adapted into a movie called Mercury Rising and I made a lot of money out of it.) I brought the whole ASA conspiracy to the attention of the Interpol and they decided to stop the manufacture of Aspirin completely, thus safegaurding the privacy of the world’s population. I hereby, humbly, nominate myself for the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for revolutionizing the pharmaceutical industry with my own non-traditional ‘drug discovery’.

Nobel Prize in Literature:

MirrorCracked. I won’t say any more. I’m sure you agree.

Nobel Peace Prize:

Well, though I don’t exactly qualify for this award, I would like to bring to the attention of the Royal Swedish Academy that if I’m not given this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, I will sell the other four Nobel Prizes and buy cigarettes and distribute it to freshly-graduated smokers. Read as: 18 year olds. In order to avoid this, I think you should just call it a clean sweep and give me this prize anyway.

I will be available for comments and interviews.

Update: October 8, 2010, 00:01 AM: This article made the wordpress homepage.

Chennai Chronicles…

Corn And Cheese :)
Corn And Cheese 🙂

This will be a short one. I just got back this morning from Chennai, after spending 3 days  of the long weekend there. These are some of the highlights:

  1. My belt broke on my way to the bus stand, Thursday night. My pant was a bit too loose and I spent the journey in mortal fear of being arrested for indecent exposure.
  2. The bus, when I finally boarded it, was a bit too stuffy, because of a lack of an air-conditioner. I sweated my way to a fitful sleep.
  3. On reaching Chennai, I had 10 cigarettes and no matches to light them with.
  4. I had 11 meetings throughout the long weekend and still did not get my jobs done.
  5. I realized that ‘Darjeeling Tea’ in five-star hotels is actually hot, tea-flavored water. And it costs way too much!
  6. Drank white wine in water glasses and drank water in wine glasses.
  7. I’m not suited for a humid weather. I can’t survive in coastal cities, because I can single-handedly solve the nation’s water problems by sweating.
  8. ‘Egg Masala’ in Chennai is actually a boiled egg with salt and red pepper sprinkled on it.
  9. I can’t speak Tamil to save my life. And, a weird, throaty combination of Hindi and Kannada makes a bad substitute.
  10. One of the three changes of underwear I had brought along belonged to my terrorist brother. So, I was stuck in Chennai for three days with only two changes of underwear. You don’t want to know what I did.
  11. Met Archie, Arvind, Vishesh, Apar and Aparna in a small bloggers’ meet. Yeah, I met Vishesh. I’m not kidding. He’s for real.
  12. On the way back, I got stuck in the very last seat of a ridiculous excuse of a bus, in between two people who gave me a run for my money in the sweating department.
  13. Every time the bus hit a bump, I was flying high, literally.
  14. I arrived this morning in Bangalore, sleep deprived, but in one piece.

Phew, not quite a short one, eh?