Tuesday, 29 October 2013

A Breast and Chicken Debacle

It was not as bad as Homer got it

Every once in a while we end up doing or saying something stupid that will haunt you for life or at least the foreseeable future. This is the very short story of my 'slip of the tongue' moment that ended up putting me in some of the most embarrassing moments of this year.

It was on the day one of my team mates, quiet an elderly fellow at that decided to treat us for the valuable years he has burned away at our office. Needless to say that this sudden gesture of generosity had more to do with relentless nagging than a compulsive need for expensive celebrations. It was on this forsaken day that the blunder than that became my Homer Simpson moment occurred.

We were leisurely sitting in one of Chennai's finest Italian restaurants ( I intentionally am leaving out the name lest the management decides to throw me out the next time I step in) when in the process of giving our order my colleague ( not the same as the poor soul who had to pay the bill) asked me what I would like and I answered him casually

"Anything with chicken breasts is fine by me"

And with an unmissable spontaneity he started laughing and I realised I missed the words  "chicken"

The rest is history that I am trying hard to forget and harder to make others forget ( with remarkably low success )

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Aisle be Damned by Rishi Piparaiya

Rishi Piparaiya has truly outdone himself and has shown himself to be a master of satire. He has shown great care and acute observational skills in picking the most annoying and embarrassing of things that happen in one's day to day exchange with the airport and it's queer inhabitants and projected them in a hilarious and thoroughly entertaining way. He has given an whole new outlook to the things that happen in and out of an airplane. Seriously who would have thought that my missing jacket was actually stolen by the Italian mafia. 

Rishi uses a delicate and simple style of writing to convey his story and that too with an even flavor of humour and satire. There is a chance that his sense of humour, predominant his style of humour would come across as slapstick to some but it is undeniable that he got a suave way of making his readers laugh. Anyone who has ever been on a flight and anyone who has seen the way the various quirks of the aluminium tube that flies will find it interesting and can relate to it seamlessly. It is just an understatement to say that Rishi has outdone himself.

They book though randomly satirical, is not random at all in organization. The book is neatly edited and organized as in the order of which the events would occur in an actual flight, from take off to landing and this differentiate 'Aisle be damned' from a regular book of jokes and into a humorous page turner. I will though advice the ones who have not flown to keep away, you don't need to add to your aviatophobia do we and secondly most jokes would appear to be tasteless and blown up to a person who is unaccustomed with such an environment as an airport. 

But for everyone else this is hilarious and light hearted, and would make your stomach hurt from laughing. I personally found the beginning and end to be rather bland and tasteless in nature as compared to the rest of it. I give the book a 'good' status and recommend it exclusively for all fliers, frequent and otherwise. The swaying hips awaits... *chuckle*

In Association with Jaico Publishing House.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Understanding Chennai

Chennai is not a city of joy, nor is she haunted by the phantoms of melancholia. Chennai is neither plain nor placid, She has a sense of vigor and liveliness inside of her. I find it particularly hard to attribute any specific emotion to her, not because she is devoid of emotions but because she shows it all without prejudice. She has no sorrow flowing right across her heart, nor is she known for the grant patios of procrastination. What she is and what she has always been is that she is real.

Chennai is as real as it will ever get, unlike many of her friends she upholds no pretense, she wears no facade and she embodies no plasticity. Her denizens are like she is, simple and real. In every alley that dots her backyard, is an women who scrounges for her children, a man who struggles to make the ends meet. She is not the adobe of the ultra rich but the tree under whose shades sleeps the normal man. One can see in the dried up eyes on the sun scorched faces of Chennai the harsh realities of life.

While in her backyard you may not find the soft spoken, civilized beings of Vienna, nor will you find coat donned bosses of New York who looks at all life with no emotion but disgust. But here you wind find simpletons, workers and laborers, You will see the educated educators or the men of service, and mostly servants of one of its many civil bodies. I pose not to say that they are humble and well behaved, but I insist that they are real and depict on their faces real emotions both good and evil.

Scratched across her face is a very thick line, bloated and black that separates the cities tiny rich community from the vast poor ones. This is the story of any of India's mammoth cities but here you will not find imitators who try to scale the big divide with fanciful appearance, Here you wont find people pretending to be anything other than what they are, except may be a micro minority that is still yet to find its place in this discomforted city. The leisure of Chennai lies in understanding the reality of who you are and when that itself is in great doubt she can at times be alien and at others discomforting. The rich of Chennai lies in its own world and the other  is seldom seen in its vastness. They may be playing pretense and that they only exists here and the others simply don't bother, they show a kind of indifference that is graceful in a way. They just the let them be and let themselves be.

If you venture to reach out and touch the heart of Chennai, you wont hear the calm serene musicals of the beating heart but a rather hurried and uneven one of a struggling heart. She would bleed under your touch and you would feel the warmth of blood flowing through your hands. The harshness of Chennai is not exactly in the hot and humid climate of Chennai but in the hard and unforgiving realities of life that dot her face. Yet she is not a sad and devastating city, she is happy as life is. In her trains you will find fathers playing with their sons, seated on the steel floors. In her streets you will find mothers feeding their daughters while making a dainty living at her numerous street shops.

I think I have been in Chennai long enough to feel the pulse of Chennai. long enough to understand her amazing eccentricities. All one have to do to understand the realities of Chennai is to look beyond the scorching sun, the humid air and the coarse water. When you are ready to do that she herself prepares to give you a couple of hard lessons, lessons about the realities of life. It is a sin to be blind when you can see, to be deaf when you can hear and to be unkind when confronted with great human tragedy. I am fascinated by the nudity of Chennai, her realities are never hidden they are visible and plain, most importantly she is real. May be that's why I have been slowly falling in love with her.

Image Courtesy : Well-Bred Kannan

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

The Real You by Radhanath Swami

A crispy square book, with crispy pages and intriguing cartoons in it, a fabulous cover with a heart shaped tree and a lot of orange tint in it is what meets the eye when you behold this little book for the first time. The book emanates an aura, an aura of knowledge and wisdom and that is exactly what it contains. The truth is that the simple yet reverberating cover of this book is what attracted me to the book in the first place but once the pages started getting turned the impression was only reinforced. 

The takes flight into an altogether alien world of knowledge and wisdom right from the very first page  and with these beautiful lines about love. "The nature of love is to give.". The book is not one long story about the search for truth or anything magnanimous. Like so many of its successors that strive to preach the same values and wisdom, this book is a collection of nuggets of knowledge all presented in simple and suggestive tone yet having in it a take it or leave it manner.

The book is discontinuous and not knitted together from page to page and chapter to chapter. They are separate and utterly isolated, at times they are even worlds apart. That being said this book is not one raucous and discordant debacle, but on the contrary the book is well organized in a way. All theses little nuggets of wisdom are classified broadly into several chapters and each nuggets is kept trim and concise. The whole book is one succinct attempt to teach life's lessons, concise and straight to the point. This is a book that appears in the way it should appear, truth needn't have to give explanations, they serve only to diminish the purpose of truth and pollute its sanctity.

A striking feature of this book is the numerous cartoons that appear in the book, They sometimes support and at other times intrigues sometimes even serving both these purposes. They give a sense of innocence and simplicity to the hard and tough nuts of wisdom that appears along side these beautiful sketches. Mr Suresh Sawant does a brilliant job in giving a sense of approach-ability to this book, that may only be surpassed by the cover and its design simplicity. Radhanath Owes much of the books success to Mr Suresh in this sense.

"This book is a collection of pearls of wisdom, in the necklace of life, for the beauty of soul" This is how that book is described as in the introduction and I find this statement perfectly true and apt for the book. This is not a story or a myth but a collection of wise words and wisdom. This books aims not to teach you life but to show some of life's vital points and The book does not preach how to learn but gives you points to start planing how to live on your own. This is book is not a one stop place for spiritual awakening but a fun, tiny guide book to life.

Saturday, 12 October 2013


Stranded in the crowded Island, Often I find myself alone.
Staring at the starry water that knows not malice.
True its heart it shows me my wet eyes and the damp face,
It knows not my heart and cruel in disposition it stands.
Yet it tells me a tale of lost hearts and valor.
It tells of battles frivolously fought and lost for no reason.
I stare and stare back at me does the truth.
That I stand alone in a crowded island, Stranded I stand.
Sitting under the palm tree, On its lofty sand beaches,
I realize I wrong the boat and the voyage.
Yet marooned I should not be for my crimes.
In passion of utmost carelessness they were done.
I live not that life of moderation and revel in flaming passion do I,
The sin of such life is the peril of loneliness.
Over the expanse and adrift in its care is a boat.
A boat that I have missed for all that that was not to be.
Burned in the high flames of vanities passion was the plank.
And lost was the ride that was only mine to ride.
In this paradisaical expanse I stand, falsely wronged.
I stand stranded on a crowded Island, forever alone.
Destined am I to the case of invisible bars, 
Of lost dreams and careless passion.
Destined am I to this lonely abyss,
Of very slow decay of perpetual loneliness.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Story of Amazon.com by Sara Gilbert

“The Story of Amazon.com in a nutshell”, that is what this book could easily and accurately be described as. To begin with the book is short and matter of fact; it covers almost all of the things that have happened in its 19 year existence. It covers the rise of Amazon.com and the perils it faced in the process. All the major milestones that the company achieved have also been covered. In short it tells a short story about amazon.com and how it came to be.

Sara Gilbert has done a commendable job in confining the whole story of amazon.com to a mere 65 pages and that is counting the illustrations as well. The story is kept really trim and most of the details irrelevant and not is kept out. In fact the “Story of Amazon.com” is a de-facto account of the evolution of amazon.com and leaves out any personal touch to it. There is no explorations to into the lives of Mr. Bezos nor of any one otherwise connected to the Amazon Story.

Sara does draw our attention to the various problems that the company faced and the long years it spent without ever turning any profit and the dark times it endured during the dot com burst. The hardships are again stated matter of factly and how the company managed to survive these treats not presented inspirationally either. But she does get her points and facts correct and she doesn’t leave anything either except what really helped Amazon.com become an industry leader in its domain. I would personally feel better had the book been a little longer and contained more about the rise of Amazon.com from the American dream perspective. But then again this book is not the ardent analyst, but for the young reader who could learn a lot about entrepreneurship and innovation form the story of Mr. Bezos.

The one thing I especially liked and is quite fascinating about the book is the amount of pictures that they have put in, they can on their own merit tell you the story of amazon.com and they complement the book rather well. One can just browse through these pictures and read the side notes left here and there in the book and understand the whole story that Sara is trying to say. Sara Gilbert has created a rather light hearted book that could be read with nothing more than just the willingness to open the first page, the rest is a fast and well aided journey through the 19 years of amazon.com, more like a tour of the whole thing.

Sara Gilbert clearly has her audience cut out, and she has made it clear that this is not for the serious corporate researcher in you but for the casual reader who would enjoy a little information and may be do with a little inspiration from it too. In fact this is exactly the kind of book I would gift my adolescent son just to get him to read a book.