Thursday, August 30, 2007

fatally ill

I woke up early. A sure sign of impending death! I must be seriously sick I decided! I had a very bad nightmare just before I woke up, but couldn’t remember the details. The atheist prayed, “Oh! God, hope it is not fatal, don’t take me so young God….. pleeese! I will attend Sunday Mass every week from now on, promise!”

Normally, I evaded hospitals and assorted paraphernalia like the plague. But this was different, I had a life to save! Biting back on my revulsion, I brushed, bathed and dressed for hospital. The “New Registration” board was fairly easy to notice once I reached there. I stood in the queue about 3 deep. I waited my turn with patience. After all, what did it matter if your immortality cover was blown a few minutes later.

The line inched forward slowly and in time, it was my turn. “Where is the form?” asked the lady clerk at the counter. “Uh-uh what form?”, she looked at me exasperatedly and pointed to a far corner, “Fill the form given there and come again!” Normally this would have pissed me off, but not today!

So I loitered around to the corner and found the form, only to notice that I didn’t have a pen. An old lady was sitting behind the counter and she had a pen. “Can I borrow your pen for a sec?” I asked. “Give the form to me. I’ll fill it for you” she replied. All the better I thought, I hated filling forms anyway. In fact my last death wish would be never ever to fill another form/sign.

She filled the forms and asked me the nature of my illness. “I got up early… er….. I mean I have fever”, that’s quick thinking abe for you, always devising the best alternative lie at the drop of a hat. “Counter near the corner, pay 200” said the lady and shooed me off. I loitered back to the counter (the old one, all the loitering made me forget the crisp directions I got). I stood in queue for another quarter of an hour before I got the same piece of information from the counter wallah.

I switched queues and waited for another ten. But all the waiting set me thinking. “what if the fever doctor doesn’t know anything about my strange illness” I shouldn’t have lied! I had read somewhere that a lot of people think that their illness is unique and only they are afflicted by the disease in the whole wide world. I definitely thought so, I had never heard of anybody complaining coz the got up early. But that was because it was them, not me!! I was hopelessly fatally sick and the getting up early was its first symptom. I could feel it in my bones, I was already feeling weak. I shouldn’t have come alone! What if I lost consciousness? (Not that I have any, most of the time)

When I reached the counter, I decided that it was time for some straight talking. “What is your illness?” asked the girl at the counter. It was already written down in my form, I guess she was just cross checking.

I: I got up early.
She: What? I never heard that illness before, what was it again?
I: I got up early.
She: What!! So?
I: I think I am sick. I need to see a good doctor.
She (muttering beneath her breath): You sure need a doctor buddy… at the mental asylum!
I (Thinking): Ok, that fixes it! I am the proud owner of the newest human disease. Hope she is the next victim, would serve her right!
She: Go and wait before Room No: 5. The nurse there will call you.

After about two hours of waiting, finally my chance comes. I have broken out in cold sweat by that time.

Dr: Hello Abraham!
I (Sounding very croaky): Hello Doctor.
Dr: Hmm, so you have fever right?
I: well ah.. hmm.. you see…
Dr: Ok tell me the symptoms, do you have body pain?
I: No
Dr: Vomiting?
I: No
Dr: Loose Motion?
I: No
Dr: Cold?
I: No
Dr: Temperature?
I: No
Dr (Now he looks incredulous): Well if you don’t have any of the symptoms of a fever, then what is your problem?
I (Thinking): Aha! Now we get down to business.
I: Doctor, in my whole life, I have never woken up early on my own accord and today I got up early. Doctor, I think I am suffering from some serious disease, I don’t want to die so early doctor… waaaah……(Sound Effect: wet sobs)
Dr (Did he smirk????): There, there, my boy, nothing to get so worried about. I am sure that it is perfectly normal.
I: No Doctor, I am definite it is not at all normal. I already feel so weak.
Dr: Forget all that, just keep talking… tell me what do you do?
I: I work in an IT firm Doctor.
Dr: Good! So what do you do on a normal day?
I (Sheepishly): Er, ah, not much work these days you know…. On bench.
Dr: Then.
I: Hmm… I wake up late. I go to office, I check my mail, I drink tea, I repeat the process till 6 with a lunch thrown in between and I come back home.
Dr: Then
I: Hmm… well I watch t.v.
Dr: So, what did you watch yesterday?
I: Well, I watched a movie called “Jaani Dushman Ek Anoki Kahani”. Though I didn’t complete it.
Dr (With a repugnant look): Well, when I watched that, I got nightmares for a week!
I: Come to think of it, I got a nightmare today, but couldn’t remember the details
Dr: People think doctors can do anything! You drink five bottles of alcohol, you take cyanide or try suicide… I may be able to save you. But you see “Jaani Dushman…” and I am helpless
I: So what do I do?
Dr: Well thank God that you didn’t see the whole movie. There might still be hope of saving your fragile mind. Take these medications and meet me in a week.
I: Thank you doctor!

A review on the movie. This should convince the reader on the benefits of watching this movie.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Responsible Journalism

For years we only had DoorDarshan, the news in which was at best a lame duck affair. As a rule, on every day the governments view, the oppositions view and sometimes the peoples view were aired. Not too good, not too bad. But for all its drawbacks, it had one important facet, namely “Responsibility”. For e.g. we in India are not new to riots, but in the days of Doordarshan, care was taken not to put in pictures or use language that could spark off trouble in other areas of the country.

Of course the flip side of this was that some legitimate concerns were never aired, which exacerbated the wound. Kashmir comes to mind once too often, if only the media had shown some common sense and reported how discontent the people of the valley were and highlighted government apathy, Kashmir might not have burned. Instead the media chose in “national interest” to snub out stories from that part of town and naturally nobody even knew about how bad the situ was before the terrorism began.

But today with the advent of cable T.V, things have changed dramatically. Each bomb explosion is covered minutely, video footage is rerun about a zillion times and words used in describing are at best “inciting” and at worst…. Well they just lead to the next riot, maybe not today, but definitely tomorrow. Is this type of reporting good? Yes, it is. Is it bad? Yes it is.

A bomb explosion rocked Hyderabad two days back, as usual killing innocent people with no regard to age, sex, religion or just about anything else. As usual the channels were working overtime giving the people a dosage of the gruesome scenes (they don’t even put up a warning these days saying “adult content”). But today morning’s news paper gave me back some faith in the media.

Malayala Manorama had a front page picture of one of the relatives of a bomb victim. It showed a wailing Muslim father whose son had been killed in the explosion and I thought to myself “how correct”. The boy had come to Hyderabad from Bombay with his friends (all the rest Hindus). Each of those boys had relatives I am sure, pictures of any of them could have been published too, but the paper chose to present this one. Some would call it “pampering the minorities” but I would call it responsible journalism.

At a time like this, when the nation is shocked, it is so easy to blame the Muslim. After all it was a Muslim(s) who had done this dastardly act. The paper could have shown a bloodied picture with body parts lying all around. It could have shown the picture of some suspected terrorist, but it has wisely chosen to show that most important picture.

Just seeing that picture, one would easily understand that a bomb does not look or ask for the religion of a person before blasting him to smithereens. Just seeing that picture, one understands that “everybody” is at the receiving end. It gives out all the right messages, to the next fanatic Muslim who wishes to explode a bomb, it tells that “Your own people are gonna get killed buddy” to the next fanatic Hindu it tells that “see it is not just the Hindus who get killed, but everyone”.

Since I was travelling, I came to know about the explosion rather late. A Muslim friend of mine was with me at that time and his first words on hearing about the explosion was “I hope it doesn’t start a riot”. The same words, millions of other Muslims around the country would be mouthing now.

For the sake of a little sanity in our embattled country, I hope that the visual media would stop airing such disturbing pictures and give a bit more respect to the style of reporting done by “boring” Doordarshan.To all worried Indian’s all I can say is that our mother India is a very strong woman. She will bear this with her legendary stoic courage and I am sure that we will come out stronger than ever before! Bharat Mata Ki Jai!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Great Indian Railways

Me and trains, we are linked by something deeper than the season tickets. For instance, the day before I was born, Amma decided that it was better to “download” me at her ancestral place in Kanjirapally rather than at Kollam, so she boarded a train which was newly inaugurated on that very same day. Appa still considers that as one of the dumbest things she ever did, on the other hand, I am angry at her for not downloading me on the train. That would have meant free travel for a lifetime.

Traveling in Indian trains is always a mind broadening affair. The number of people you meet, the friendships you strike up, the food you share, the songs you sing, the vendors who cajole and push you into buying the food stuff, the filth, the smell and the Good Byes. In short, the amount of “life” in each journey is extremely high.

I and Appa used to frequently go to Trivandrum by train. During these journeys when Amma was not around, Appa would play a game with me. After the train whistle is blown, Appa would ask me to start pushing on the windows “to start the train”. Poor me, I used to believe that I was the guy who actually started the train with my superman strength. But I guess it was good for my self esteem. Anyways, I have decided I will play the same prank on my kids too!

Damn the crowd
When I think of trains, the first thing that comes to mind is their peculiar “iron” smell, the next is the crowd. I don’t know how many billion people the Indian Railways carry each year, but it is definitely no small number! Like most other compatriots, I have traveled in every “position” possible. From sitting comfortably on a seat, to crouching on the floor, to standing on one foot in the loo, to hanging out from the door doing some “wind surfing”. Depending on the crowd, I have felt like I would suffocate to death, get slowly cooked in the heat, die of cancer from the illegal smoker who has to smoke even when you cant get a single breath and a lot more!

Discovery of India
“The real India lies in its villages” or something similar was once said by the Mahatma. In the same vein, any “discovery of India” will be incomplete without extensive train journeys. The villages, the scenery, the dilapidated bridges, the poverty, the wealth, the beauty, the mountains, the sea….. the railways show you everything. The best and the worst, with nothing hidden!

Desibaba on a train
Except for trips to Madras, my train journeys were fairly short 3-4 hour episodes. But that changed when Amma along with Appa’s sisters decided to ditch their husbands and go for a trip to North India. But they wanted one male to carry their bags and basically act as a non-obtrusive escort for their escapade. Since I was hanging around jobless after my engineering, it was no wonder that I was an obvious choice.

The journey itself was fantastic. We got nearly two nights and two days on the train, but the real “fun” started somewhere near Indore. It was sometime in the afternoon and I was lying down half asleep in my window side berth, when this reasonably good looking Auntie comes and sits near my foot. Before she sits down though, she pushed my legs a little to the side to get some room.

I half opened my eyes and then closed them, but a few minutes later, she was doing something with my feet which woke me up again. She was trying to arrange them, as if they were some inanimate objects. In the end, she put one of my feet on top of the other, then put her arm around the top one and rested her breast on the bottom one! I put on a “what the f***” look on my face, and an “ooo man this is my lucky day” look in my mind.

Out of the corner of my eye, I took a peek at my mother and saw to my dismay that she was giving an appraising “CBI” look at this saintly lady. I had hoped that she wouldn’t notice, but that was not to be….:( This is the problem with mothers. They can’t take a lil bit of innocent fun in the right sense! Now, I had to show my “displeasure” regarding my foot hijack. So I wiggled my toes, which naturally had the reverse affect. She held tighter now! Unfortunately she also gave me a conspiring look in full view of my mother. I am no groper and didn’t plan on becoming one right in front of my mother, so no-heartedly I was forced to pull out my legs from their utopian embrace. I still remember that occasion as the best part of my North Indian trip….:)

Those were the best trains of my life
But the best train journeys I had were the ones to Chengannur. Every weekend there would be at least 20 people from my college in the train, enough to cause a general riot. We used to sing, play games and have a whale of a time in the train. When my stop came, I would feel so bad about getting down, that I always seriously considered going on till the next station.

Normally, I never travel without a ticket though a lot of my class mates did that. I was always in love with the Indian Railways. To travel ticket less, was like cheating somebody in the family. But on rare occasions when I did travel without a ticket, I was never caught, except once. The fun fact being that actually I had a ticket till Ernakulam, but I decided to get down at Aluva and that is where I got caught. The ticket checker took one look at my angelic face and for some reason decided that I was up to no good (is there something written on my face?) and asked me for my ticket.

I begged and pleaded for quite some time. It was late in the night and I guess he was sleepy too, so in the end, he let me off with stern warnings. One more reason for me to love the great Indian Railways!

P.S: I remembered all this when I saw the mal film “No. 20 Madras Mail” and decided to post it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

India's Loss

The car showroom was somewhere in Trivandrum. When we reached there, Appa was in a magnanimous mood. This was the first time in his life that he was going to buy a car. But very gracefully (regally?), he allowed me and my brother to do the selection. “You can select whichever one you want!” he told us, his head held high. Our decision was unanimous (which was very rare). We ran forward and selected a red Gypsy.

“No! Not that! A car!” exclaimed our poor father. Amma looked at us with a condescending smile and repeated Appa’s words. “A Car! what you have selected is a Gypsy”…. as if we didn’t know!

“But we want a Gypsy” we cried. This was cheating! But then parents always got away with that. So, rather half heartedly, we selected a rather unobtrusively placed red Maruti 800.

The year was 1985.

Appa being a rather liberal type of guy allowed Amma to drive his new car. If my memory serves me right, she had actually learnt driving earlier but had never got the opportunity to drive a car after that. A woman driving a car was not exactly unheard of. In the whole district of kollam, there were about 3 more women who did it already….:)

Mothers are never too well known for their logic. But when Amma insisted that I too sit with her when she drove the car, so that “if something happens” I would be able to “handle” the situation. I didn’t give a darn about the logic. I just gave my full support.

The year as I said earlier, was 1985.

Yours truly was in Kindergarten. Yours truly was a very brave child!

Our daily routine during those days, still gives me the goose bumps. Amma would start the car and after much effort get it out of our front gate. Then she would ride past my primary school to a nearby church. At that time of the day, there would be nobody in the whole church, except for us. There we would kneel down and pray for 5 minutes in heavenly silence. Then she would drop me at my school and go to her bank. The prayers we said earlier were supposed to guard her during the rest of her journey when I was not there to “protect” her.

One morning, we had just sat in the car when Amma suddenly realized that she had forgotten her handbag(?). Knowing my penchant to play with objects like levers and pedals, she gave me stern warnings with dire consequences if I were to touch anything inside the car other than the seat I was sitting on. The message was clear, “play statue till I return”.

Nobody ever called me an obedient child. So the moment her pallu(Sari tip) disappeared from view, I jumped into the driver's seat and started playing Schumacher. I was just flying over one villain’s car, when to my left I suddenly noticed another villain coming in at full throttle. The situation called for some mind chilling maneuvers, so I threw the hand break, stepped the accelerator full and rotated the steering… all in one split second and that is when I saw the third villain coming in for the kill!!!

He was on the right side, so I stepped on the breaks kicked the clutch and rotated the steering in reverse direction….. Only to find that the steering no longer moved!!! I had done it! I had just managed to spoil our car!!

Oh God! What was I supposed to do now? Amma would be coming back any moment and I couldn’t even start to imagine her face when she would find out. I cursed the moment I felt like sitting in the driver’s seat. This is my entire fault I decided. If only I had done what Amma asked me to do, I wouldn’t be in all this trouble. Curse damn temptation!!! But what was I supposed to do now.

My mind was working overtime, what were my options? I couldn’t obviously put the blame on Antony, he was nowhere in sight and anyways Amma would call the bluff. Maybe I should run away. Maybe I could act as if nothing had happened. When Amma comes, I would act saintly, as if I never even seen the steering before. But knowing Amma, she would find out. Somehow, she always knew (she still does!).

That is when I noticed a colorful blur in the rear view mirror. A second look confirmed my worst fears, she was coming back. To say that my heart was in my mouth would be an understatement, I felt like I had already puked it out! My whole life (which was rather short, considering that I was about 3 - 4 years old) flew before my eyes.

Like an automaton, I opened the door and stepped out of the car. Then I ran towards her… there was two feet between her and the wall and about 5 feet between her and the house. So If I ran beside the house, I should be able to dodge her. And then I could run into the streets where I would live like Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn/Oliver Twist.

But as I ran, my legs started to disobey. It was like somebody pulled them toward my mother. She was coming toward me with a sweet wide smile on her face (for the record, wide smiles on your mothers face is the worst thing that can happen when you have done some mischief. Mothers, as a rule should refrain from wide smiles altogether!!).

Finally after a bollywood filmi like run, I reached my mother. Now, it was the turn of my mouth to disobey. “I think I spoilt the steering Amma” I said tearfully. “Now it is not rotating”. She just smiled wider and said “You are a good boy Aby. See, you have told me the truth and now everything is going to be all right”.

It didn’t quite register. I mean, I was expecting to be burnt over the fires of hell, for my heinous misdeed and here was mother telling me everything was all right. “Really?” I asked, very relieved and bewildered.

Later, she explained to me about the steering lock and how when you put the key and turn the steering it unlocks. “But you were not obedient! You shouldn’t have touched it” she chided in the end. I had just escaped from eternal damnation! I was so relieved that I promised myself that I would never touch that devilish device for the rest of my life! And that is the story of how India lost its Schumacher.

P.S: The car was with us for 18 years before it was sold of as scrap.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The male customer

Rajan was never too well known for his tact in matters related to the opposite sex. But this past week on a white water rafting expedition, he proved his mettle as one of the corniest guys around yet again.

The engineers from Chengannur had gathered for a get together, which for some reason included white water rafting in the itinerary. Normally one wouldn’t expect so much “depth” in their weekend frolic, the maximum they usually do is booze and get a lap dance.

God help those poor San Franciscans, is all I can say. Excerpts from the mail report about the incident from Sreejith a.k.a Ceiji and Jaimon a.ka Monje is given below.

Attaching the photo of rafting guide for Rajan's group.. take special notice of her... below were the questions Rajan had for her while rafting.

Rajan strikes...
Rajan: "What will happen if the paddle falls into water?"
She: Smiles and replies politely "it will flow downstream"

Rajan strikes again...
Rajan: "Will this river flow upstream?"
She : Her smile vanishes, she looks at others and says a polite "No"

Rajan never stops...
Rajan: "Why is this helmet for?"
She: Acts deaf

Rajan thought if he fell down in water, she (rafting guide) will catch him and help to enter into the boat… so he tried to fall down.. but Biju was near to him, and Biju also thought in the same way, so Biju caught him… then Rajan threw out his paddle into the river....

And the ultimate...
Rajan: opens his mouth to ask the next question...
She: jumps off the raft..

In the end, the looser was Biju.. he had built a good 'stuff' with her by asking weder she had bf, weder she was alone, weder she liked to dance etc... due to the intervension of rajan, biju lost...

If there is a Nobel Prize for “suffering” your customers then this lady would sure be in the list of top ten contenders.

P.S: Seeing her picture, I can understand why Rajan behaved the way he behaved...:)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

E-Mail from


Subject: vegetarianism, the abomination.

Hello hypocrites,
When I made the world, I put in some laws of nature. One very important rule was, “Everything eats everything else directly or indirectly”. If you don’t want to eat a particular class of food (read non-veg) then, that is your decision and being a very democratic kind of God, I accept it. Albeit, not whole heartedly. But will you kindly stop bugging my true followers who eat everything that moves?

Now, I have called you hypocrites for good reason(s)
1. While you resist eating living things that move, you have no qualms about eat living things that don’t move. Do you think that the trees and the herbs have no feelings just because they don’t move and don’t make a sound? Ever seen tree sap ooze out of an injured bark? Looks like somebody is bleeeeeeeding!

2. While you resist eating/killing living things that you can see, you have no qualms about killing living things that you can’t see. Remember the mosquito you swatted? The genocide you unleashed on the poor bacteria and viruses each time you sneezed/moved? Ever thought of those poor orphan kids of those unlucky bacteria?

Just like you kill the virus, I have allowed the virus to kill you, the maggots to eat you, the trees to use you as manure and the vultures to pull out your innards. In the same spirit (not to be confused with the holy Ghost or the bottled one), I allow you to eat all or any of them.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t mind you not eating the good stuff. But when you start guilt edging people into vegetarianism…. that is taking things too far! Some of you don’t eat veg-food from a non-veg joint. I know so many guys (including one son of mine named after an Israeli “father of the nations”) who lost out on the delicious Chicken Mugalai and Bengali fried fish just because you girly grass eaters refused to go to a non-vegetarian restaurant (and that too on company expense!!)

Another abominable tactic of yours is to stare at my dutiful children with that “ooo-you-are-a-killer” look and/or pass snide remarks that are too uncouth to be written down. Yet another tactic involves “converting” your spouses to vegetarianism against their wishes by use of emotional blackmail.

Thank your stars that I have mellowed down a bit in the past 2-3 thousand years. Back then, my normal modus operandi against people who did unnatural acts was to give them the sulfur fire treatment (remember Sodom??). Other creative ideas included the water treatment (Noah fame) and feeding prophets to the sharks. Forget people, just look at what I did to those dinosaurs. Those guys were getting too big. Along comes a comet and bang goes the dinosaur. You think that was chance?? Think again!

Stuff like this keeps happening all through my curriculum vitae. Of course, you don’t need to worry so much. I am, after all, a loving God who is just in the habit of making offers that you can’t refuse. So here goes the 11th commandment. Next time the menu for your cafeteria gets decided, thou shall not interfere and make it a vegetarian menu with utter disregard of all the non-vegetarians around thee.

[Violation of the above rule is prohibited under section 666 of the heavenly penal code. Transgressors will be cooked in the eternal flames of hell and fed to non vegetarians. ]

Now, it is time for a confession. People believe that I am perfect and I am, but that doesn’t mean that whatever I make is perfect. Like, if you make a million electronic chips, no one chip will be the same as the other completely. In the same way, no two people I make, are the same. There are variations (ok, ok there are defects too!) like people with Down syndrome, people with a tendency to eat vegetarian stuff etc.

The defect with vegetarians is that they suffer from the “what I am doing is correct” and “everyone who doesn’t follow this path is wrong” anomalies. This anomaly is the result of the sum total of the anomalies in the equation forming the matrix trying to balance blah blah blah….. Point is, I couldn’t fix it! But take heart! Have I not blessed you with enough and more intelligence? In time, you will find a medicine for vegetarianism too. In the mean time please stop converting others to your misguided path (Or else…)

So, my message to you is..... "The world doesn’t need more vegetarians, it just needs far lesser human beings!"*


*One practical solution being to eat each other! And only non vegetarians can do that.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Signature Blues

It was one of those perfect mornings when you don’t feel like getting out of bed. So I faked a stomach ache to play truant. I am sure that Amma must have known it was a fake the moment I tried it. Fortunately for me, she was feeling rather sympathetic for her “baby”. She must have thought to herself “Anyway I can’t sleep like this with all the cooking and chores written in my fate, at least let my son enjoy it a bit when he can”.

Problem was that Amma forgot to sign my leave letter for the next day at school. I was in 6th standard and not too worried about it. After all, my education and circumstances had made me a very capable fraud by that time. It was a simple matter of faking her signature. But that is when I found out a sad truth. For some reason whichever way I tried it, I couldn’t get to sign the way my mother signed. The Guy up there had forgotten to install the “copy” software when he sent me packing downstairs….:( Talk about low quality at high places!

Fortunately for me, he had installed some up-market best in the league fraud software, so I found another way around this nagging issue. Every problem, you see, is an opportunity!….. for somebody else….:). I bribed Reny (I think) with my meager resources to get it signed and the day was thus saved.

It was in 10th standard when I was up against the wall again. This time the problem was my own signature… I couldn’t even “fake” my own signature a second time! In the end I decided to make it a very simple “Am” (my initials written as they are normally written) No fancy stuff. Having solved the problem once and for all, I was living life happily ever after when Amma got jealous of my happy life and decided to muddle it up a bit.

I don’t remember how she saw my signature, but the moment she saw it she blurted out “what is this “kaaka thoori” (crow shit) thing u have written here”
Me: My signature!!
Amma: Don’t think I am flattering you, but if somebody sees this signature, they will think you are illiterate!
Me: Shut up! If they think I am illiterate, let them!

Problem was that her tactless words had hurt my ego. I decided that a change in the signature policy was of prime importance. After much painstaking research, I decided that scrawling my first name plus some fancy stuff should be enough.

In the years that followed, I had to sign on many occasions, but nobody noticed that I never signed the same signature twice. Mainly because I made sure that they hadn’t seen any other signature of mine. Like, when I went to the bank, I would distract the clerk with some innocent jabbering to take his mind off my signature discrepancy. Life was tough, but bearable

That is when I and my fellow roommates decided to go for a trip to Thailand. The trip itself was fantastic and it would take many pages to describe our adventures. But the real adventure was waiting for me back home at the Bangalore airport. I had to fill in an immigration form. Naturally, like all governmental forms, this one also had that despicable column for “Signature”.

I filled it, signed it and gave the form and my passport to the official. He took one look at my signature and said “Wrong signature, sign once more!” I had no idea how I signed in my passport. Suspecting the worst, I signed once more and he said “wrong again”. But, he was a helpful chap, so he told me “ok, as a favor I will show you how you have signed in the passport” and showed me my signature (Big favor indeed!).

It definitely looked like crow shit to me. Now how the hell was I supposed to replicate it? Cursing my own karma, I tried to copy it…. With disastrous results….:( He took one look at the signature, a worried look at my face then a look at my passport. Nothing seemed to fit!

Official(with narrowed eyes) : Sign once more!
Me (Do-I-look-like-a-terrorist? Look + wide smile): Ok, I will sign once more.
Official(looking at my 4th sign): Now you have signed in four different ways! And none of it like your passport signature!
Me (Helpless look + smile): Er… can you show me my passport sign once more?

The official must have been an aspiring saint or something, he actually showed me the signature in my passport once more. Not surprisingly, one more permutation of my signature was added to my infinite kitty. He shook his head in negative. I was left wondering whether he would deport me to Pakistan or Afghanistan. Feeling pretty sick about my bleak future, I turned this way and that, when I suddenly noticed an ad hanging on the wall behind the official.

It was my company’s ad!!!! I took out my company id and showed it to the official and then gestured at the wall behind him. Finally satisfied, he let me off the hook. I said a silent prayer of thanks to the Supreme Being for not sending me to the world as a Muslim. That could have really complicated things!

Overseas trips don’t come cheap, so it was no wonder that yours truly was filing for a personal loan application the very next month. I had to put about 30 signatures on various papers containing God knows what. The agent in charge took a look at all those signatures and promptly said “You will have to come to the bank to get this sorted out”.

It was two days later that I went to “sort things out” at the bank. The official at the bank took out a copy of my pan card and asked me to “sign like you have signed in the pan card”. He said it so easily! I felt like I should wrench his neck. Why can’t these guys do something like a retinal scan or some high funda stuff in this so-called age of technology when everything is digital? Murmuring a few choice words below my breath, I started to “copy” my own signature.

Naturally, he was not satisfied with my “copies”. The jerk actually made me sign twice for each sign that I had made on the papers. Now instead of 30 different signatures he had about 100 different signatures on his hand. I was at my wits end when the manager walked in. He looked at my signatures, looked at me and said “how can you do this”
I: How can I do what?
Manager: How can you sign in such totally different ways???
I: Oh, that…. I don’t know, I just do that
Manager: This won’t work!
I (with a forlorn look on my face): Take my fingerprint or whatever but please don’t torture me with all this signing
Manager (laughing): Ok ok, I will take care of this. Don’t worry.

I am not sure for how long I will have to suffer all this injustice! I look forward to a future when pen and paper is banned, trees saved and people dont have to sign for nothing, no more!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Parable

When I was a kid, my mother bought me a children’s Bible. It had beautiful pictures with big-print words and a nice cover. I really loved the book and its contents. My favorite part of the book was the New Testament parables.

The parables I liked most were about Jesus and the prostitutes (not that I actually understood who they were). My understanding was that, if you needed a straight ticket to heaven, then you better be a prostitute!

Somewhere along the way, I have lost all that innocence, but a small story I heard yesterday, suddenly made me remember those days again. I was left wondering once more, whether you actually need to be a prostitute to get that ticket (not that I believe in heaven anymore).

Tony a.k.a Pullachen had had a few pegs before the story came out. For sake of conciseness, I will not explain the context in which he told it.

During his time in engineering college, Pullachen used to find himself in financial deep shit by the third week of every month. By the fourth week, not only would he be broke, but even the “world banks” would be broke.

The high-profile 10, 20 and 100 rupee notes would have already bid adieu to his pocket by that time. Only the coins, those ill-respected friends of a needy student would remain faithful. On such occasions, Pullachen would sometimes go to a nearby shanty shop (murukan kada) to buy a banana or some small snack.

This particular shop was (and still is) run by a woman in her late 60’s. She was a very kind soul, who would give two or even three snacks/bananas for a paltry rupee on seeing his plight. Naturally, she was very popular during the fourth week of the month. But during her formative years, she was even more popular (?) for a totally different reason. She was supposedly (according to Pullachen) the no.1 prostitute in Chengannur.

The years passed and finally engineering was over (Praise the Lord!). But when we passed out, the job market was really down. It was tough to get even a single interview and it took Pullachen nearly a year of job hunting to get a decent job. Naturally, he was right on cloud nine when he got it finally.

It was time to say thank you, to a lot of people. Thus, he went to see his old acquaintances in Chengannur. All of them were extremely pleased that he had got a job and unsurprisingly most of them immediately asked for a grand treat. Pullachen was more than happy to oblige these requests.

Finally, he went to see this old woman and told her the good news. She was so very happy to hear it that instead of the normal modus operandi to ask for a treat, the poor woman actually pressed him to have a few more snacks from her humble shop. He tried to pay for it, but she just wouldn’t accept anything from him. Pullachen was left open mouthed at her display of such innocent joy. Happy to know, that he had such a genuine well wisher.

What she gave him would be worth only a few rupees. But 4 years down the line, it is heartening to see that he still values her genuine heartfelt gesture as “priceless”.