Sunday, June 25, 2006

Paternal Instinct

I have inspired several friends and acquaintances over the past few years to try their hand at blogging. Some gave it up almost instantly while others have diligently stuck to it.

But my biggest achievement was getting somebody from my own family to take up this pastime. Yes, ladies and gentleman, please welcome my sixty-something just retired Dad to the blogosphere.

It's too early to say whether his blogging mania will last a day, a month or all eternity - which is why I am not allowed to publish his blog address here.

But be that as it may, I am proud of you, Dad. Which brings me to my next question - when are you getting Mom into the blogger fold?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Most embarrASSing moment

It's funny how school-leaving 'slam books' would invariably have a column on Most Embarrassing Moment.

Since we were on the verge of bidding farewell to people we might never see again, my classmates left it blank - some because they hadn't gone through an embarrassing moment and others (like me) because it would have been much more embarrassing to reveal it.

But were the same question asked of me today, I would answer it without hesitation. And since no one has bothered to quiz me yet, I decided to blog about my most embarrassing moment till date.

Which is -

Brushing my teeth with shaving cream

Now don't smile and shrug it off. This actually happened. And it wasn't even my tube of shaving cream.

The incident took place some years ago while I was doing my Masters in English from Hindu College. Some of us had gone down south for a leadership training camp in Kazipet (Andhra Pradesh) and clumsy nitwit that I was, I forgot to pack my toothpaste.

My roomie gave me permission to use his stuff and I proceeded to brush my teeth. Then almost puked.

T: What the hell is this stuff?
Roomie: You stupid ass! It's shaving cream
T: But...Bluh...Bluuuhhhhh
Roomie: It's written in big bold letters. How can anyone mistake shaving cream for toothpaste?
T: (grimace) The pack's the same colour as my toothpaste

Being the bosom friend he was, Roomie promptly went and informed everybody in camp. And for the remaining two days in Kazipet, I had to endure being called 'Shaving Cream' and listen to animated discussions on my unusual dietary habits.

I know what you are thinking - "This is nothing, there was a rip in my wedding dress" and of course Carol Gracias must be saying "I wish I had made that slippery buckle a bit more secure" but what can I do?

Nothing more embarrassing than the shaving cream incident has happened to me. And I will certainly tell you if anything happens in the future.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The dangers of being tech-challenged

Am in a very bad mood. Had been tinkering with my blog template two days ago when something happened - either the Blogger server went down or God knows what - but when it ended I found that half my template had disappeared.

Although I managed to salvage my posts and archives using what html stuff I could decipher from other blog templates, I lost all the links to my articles online that I had painstakingly collected over the past year to put up on the blog. That too after ranting about the lives of deskpersons in a media office.

I tried Google cache and web archives too but to no avail. I realised I have been relying on technology quite a great deal and how a small glitch can bring Toe Knee literally down to his knees.

Update: Things seem to be a bit okay now. I managed to painstakingly salvage a dozen individual links to my articles. Thank God for Google. As for the rest of the links, they are out there in the world wide web. Just you wait.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Canine Angel

Did I tell you about the army war exercises in Punjab that I covered last month? Anyway, after a hectic two-day interaction with tanks and troops and most importantly dirt and dust of every hue, our group of journalists reached Delhi at around 3 am.

In a scary no-taxi no-car scenario, I managed to get a lift from an NDTV reporter (Thank you - Randeep Singh Nandal) and he dropped me off at Khanpur crossing about 1.5 km from my pad. I started doing the best thing I could do to reach home - Walking.

It was at this point that a mangy dog with a limp appeared from nowhere and started trotting by my side. It wasn't as if this thin ragged-looking specimen, which looked nothing like the Hound of the Baskervilles, could pose any threat to my six-foot frame, but I started walking faster all the same. It was 4 am on a lonely stretch of road, so I guess you will understand.

(To deviate from the story, I had been bitten by a monkey at the age of ten and got a gazillion painful anti-rabies shots, including one in the bum, and have been morbidly scared of rabid canines and simians ever since)

But the dog managed to somehow keep up with me. I didn't have the heart to throw stones at it so I just crossed the road, divider and all, and resumed walking. To my surprise, pretty soon I heard it trotting beside me and a dreadful wheezing sound emanating from its mouth.

"Man, this dog is sick," I thought to myself and redoubled my efforts to outpace the dog. I tried crossing the road twice more but each time the dog successfully manouevred its way over the divider and crossed over to my side.

The funny thing is each stray dog has its territory marked out and this specimen by my side seemed like a newcomer in the area. Which explains why every 200 metres or so, a group of stray dogs would start barking and howling away at my canine companion, which would cringe and give off a few pitiful barks of its own before following in my footsteps.

I was just about to reach home and wondering how to get rid of the menace when stray dog group no 16 launched a fresh onslaught on my unwanted friend. Mangy Dog cowered under a nearby car before escaping on the other side.

At this point, I managed to give it the slip and rush inside my apartment gates. I watched as the dog, which had lost its bearings by then, tried to locate me and then trotted off in the wrong direction. I never saw it again.

Good riddance to unwanted companion, I thought. But when I reflect on the incident, I am kind of grateful to the dumb dog. Walking 1.5 km when you are dead tired and sleepy and carrying a heavy handbag is no fun. But I had been so engrossed in trying to escape Mangy Dog that I had covered the distance without even realising it.

Was the dog an angel in disguise? To make sure I reached my house safely. Maybe. What do you think?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Conversation between Watt and William Knott

Someone emailed me the following conversation. I think it starts off fine but gets too contrived in the end. Wotsay?

The telephone rings. William Knott picks it up

"Who's calling?"

"Watt"

"What is your name, please?"

"Watt's my name"

"That's what I asked you. What's your name?"

"That's what I told you. Watt's my name"

A long pause - and then Watt tries again

"Is this James Brown?"

"No, this is Knott"

"Please tell me your name."

"Will Knott"

"Why not?"

"Huh? What do you mean why not?"

"Yeah! Why won't you tell me your name?"

"But I told you my name!"

"Didn't you say you will not?"

"Not not, knott, Will Knott!"

"That's what I mean"

"So you know my name"

"Of course not!"

"Good. So now, what is yours?"

"Watt. Yours?"

"Your name!"

"Watt's my name"

"How the hell do I know? I am asking you!"

"Look I have been very patient and I have told you my name and you have not even told me yours yet"

"You have been patient, what about me?"

"I have told you my name so many times and it is you who have not told me yours yet"

"Of course not!"

"See, you even know my name!"

"Of course not!"

"Then why do you keep saying of course Knott?"

"Because I don't"

Pause

"What is your name?"

"See, you know my name!"

"Of course not!"

"Then why do you keep saying Watt is your name"

"To find out your name!"

"But you already know it!"

"What?"

"See, but you know mine!"

"Of course not!"

"Exactly!"

"Listen, listen, wait - if I asked you what your name is, what will be
your answer?"

"Watt's my name"

"No, no, give me only one word"

"Watt"

"Your name!"

"Right!"

Pause before it hits William Knott

"Oh, Wright!"

"Yeah!"

"So why didn't you say it before?"

"I told you so many times!"

"You never said Wright before"

"Of course I did"

"Ok I won't argue any more. Do you know my name?"

"I do not"

"Well, there you go, now we know each other's name"

"I do not!"

"Good!"

Pause before it hits Mr Watt

"Oh, Guud!"

"Good"

"No wonder, it took me so long, is that Dutch?"

"No, it's Knott!"

"Oh, okay. At least the names are clear now Guud"

"Yes, Wright"

Any scope for continuing the conversation?

Monday, June 05, 2006

About girls who push their dads

My brother stunned me today with this absolutely disgusting specimen of a riddle (at least that's what he called it).

The Question: What do you call a girl who pushes her dad off a cliff?
.
..
...
The Answer: Pushpa

Ya, I know you guys want to murder me. Will let you know when I'm available.

Suicide Blues

Please, please don't take me seriously. Or at least too seriously. My post on being a disgruntled deskperson led to a lot of frantic calls. Guys, I am okay. Am not about to give up journalism or do something equally drastic.

I remember how one of my first blog posts also led to phone calls from worried friends and relatives. The topic - 'Ways to commit suicide'.

The post got me a phenomenal response from total strangers. Half of them tried to tell me how life is a beautiful gift and I should think happy thoughts while the other half - weirder still - wanted my advice on how to die and whether I could actually provide them some cyanide tablets. Excusez-moi but I do not wish to die. It was just a stupid blog post. See for yourself -

How do you want to die? Please, no morbid fascination with eschatology here, just insatiable curiosity. Which do you prefer - hanging, drowning, burning, cyanide... or the thousands of options of snuffing out God's gift of life?

Personally think burning to death is the worst possible way to die. All that skin flaking off and virtually boiling to death. Ugh! Being crushed to death in a torture chamber does come a close second. Watching the ceiling coming slowly but inexorably down to crush your cranium and bones to bits would take a lot of courage.

Drowning is bad too but only just - think of the discomfort as water wends its weary way down your lungs. Hanging - whenever our venerable Bollywood directors want to show somebody committing suicide, they invariably take recourse to the lethal noose. Is it easy? Or are you trying to emulate our martyrs?

Would you hire someone to batter you with an axe? You would have to, you know. It's never the same thing when you stab yourself with a knife or attempt to scrape your head off with an axe. Most likely you'll be left with a horrendous scar and the pain of living with it.

Or do you want to jump from one of the Nehru Place skyscrapers? You will know what it feels like to be free as a bird in the sky. For a few thrilling seconds, before you land with a thud on the concrete, splattering your entrails all along the sidewalk and bloodying the immaculate trousers of an innocent bystander.

On the flipside, taking potassium cyanide must surely be the easiest way to die. At least, you will be doing a service to mankind if you can just convey what it tastes like. Even qualify for a posthumous Nobel Prize.

Hey, I am no harassed docent explaining the concept of danse macabre. Just wanted to know how you would wanna die 'If' you had to?

They say, curiosity killed the cat. But in my case, I just don't care. What do you say?
The same thing happened with another of my blog posts two years ago. Why, why do people take me seriously? Can someone contemplating suicide actually write the following post -

I wonder how a proper suicide note should be written. Is it something people rehearse for hours on end or something they whip up on the spur of the moment?

Is it written like an Oscar award acceptance speech (I thank my wife, children and so forth) or like a post-it note on a refrigerator (I am tired of life. I quit).

How about a Booker Prize for suicide notes? Obviously, the recipients would all get it posthumously. Or we'll make sure attempted-and-unsuccessful-suicides are excluded from qualifying.

Should it be typed, handwritten or embossed in ink with a calligrapher's panache?

Should it be indited on paper, ancient parchment or the back of a used napkin?

Should it be a word (Death) or a ream or a 375-page novel?

What about style - dramatic, staid, artistic, modern, Shakespearian (To be or not to be - I have decided on the latter) or SMS.

Choices - why are there so many choices. And until I can figure out how to write my perfect little suicide note - I refuse to take my life.

The height of stupidity???

Illusionist David Copperfield is planning to go one better than rival David Blaine by impregnating a woman live onstage.

The magician will carry out the stunt in Germany, without - he insists - even touching the volunteer. Read more here

Saturday, June 03, 2006

A deskperson speaks

Being a deskperson sucks. We are the ones who toil away at the uncut stone of 'bad writing' and nurture it into the diamond of good newpaper reportage. We are the ones who deserve the byline, not Mr I-got-the-news who just gave us a couple of flashes from his news sources. After all, we are the ones who fashioned his crap into a full-fledged story.

I know you think this is the grouse of a deskperson who's just had a bad day at work. Maybe you are right. But don't you agree we should at least get some credit. And not remain some faceless entities in the background while Mr and Ms I-got-the-news soak up the adulation and adrenalin rush involved in hands-on news gathering.

I have a compromise formula. How about a double byline for news stories? Maybe Mr I-got-the-news and Mr I-made-it-into-a-story could share the limelight together. Isn't that a reasonable demand? But then who listens to a deskperson.

I am not complaining. I have had my share of reporting (the once-in-two-months-go-on-a-junket kinds) and the results are what you see on the right-hand side of this blog.

People often accuse me of looking for publicity by putting up stuff I have written on my blog. That may be true. But then, these 30-something stories are all that I have achieved in three years of journalism. Reporters notch up 300 bylines in the same timeframe apart from all the 'unbylined' stories they dish out.

Don't you agree? Anybody buying that 'double-byline' theory of mine?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Why it's okay to rape Indira Ishwarlal Thakur?

Fellow blogger Vulturo has quite a different take on the reservation issue -

Let me tell you a little story. It is a bit gruesome, but quite interesting nevertheless. And there is a moral too, in the end. If reading about the illtreatment of women and violence against them makes you feel funny in your intestines, then this post is definitely not for you.

There was this unbelievably beautiful girl, Indira Ishwardas Thakur (You could call her Ms IIT for the sake of convenience), who used to live in this pretty interesting locality called Indrakumar-Natwarlal-Durgadas International Avenue (you could call it INDIA, for the sake of convenience). INDIA was interesting because it was full of diversity. Read more here

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The ghost who likes music

Finally! One good reason why you shouldn't listen to Himesh Reshammiya songs. Read more here.

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