Thursday, March 16, 2006

KERALA - THE ENGLISH ABHORRERS !

Yesterday when I was coming back from town in a bus, along with two friends, we were discussing our favourite comedy movies. Since all three of us were most comfortable with English, we were using that as our medium of communication, as we always do.

When we were five minutes away from our destination, we heard someone grumble, "Have these kids landed from America?" in Malayalam. We chose to ignore him, as it was late night and he was probably drunk. He got off at the next stop and asked us if we knew Malayalam. We replied, in that language, that we did. He asked us why don't we talk in that language then. That needled us. We angrily told him that it was not him that we were talking to, and he should mind his own business. He gave us a huff and went off.

Then, after we were contemplating his level of inebriatedness, a gentleman who was sitting nearby said, ignore him... But you guys must realise there are certain 'protocol' to be observed while in a bus. I asked him what the eff he was talking about. He said, you know, all this talking in English and making a nuisance on the bus. If we didn't have to get down at the next stop, then all three of us would have ripped him apart. I blatantly told him to go soak his head when I got off the bus. No doubt the first guy was drunk, but when an ostensibly sober chap makes a comment like that, it is something I can't stand.

So that's the story, of three 'English-speaking' guys, ostracised by the rest of society in this part of the world for knowing and speaking a language which everyone else knows is important if we want to succeed in life. Atleast for now. And this is not the first time something like this has happened. I for one, was born and brought up in Bahrain, and have been with 'English-speaking' friends all my life. Circa September 2002, when I joined Engineering College, I was in a hostel where majority of the inmates were 'English-haters'. They looked down upon the language, and felt that anyone who spoke the language well, particularly NRIs, were all show-offs and what they call 'Yo' guys.

I in particular was subject to quite a bit of teasing and picking because of my (in all modesty) fluency in the language, by seniors who didn't speak it very well. I was not treated very kindly, and the fact that all NRIs are, in their view, spoilt brats, exacerbated the problem.

There was one chap in particular, who never failed to get on my nerves, and always teased us, whenever someone from my gang was around in my room and both of us spoke in Angrezi.

To all these people, I have two words. Due to cyber decorum, I am not publishing those two words here, but you get the idea, I'm sure.

This is why Kerala will NEVER ever develop in terms of opening their minds to other people. People are xenophobic. They can't accept the fact that some people know a vital language better than them. They know that it is absolutely essential for existence today, but they still will abhor it, and ostracize anyone who speaks it better than them. A fact that has irritated me no end : Keralites are among the most closed-minded people I have ever seen. And they wonder why people are scared to set up enterprises or BPOs in Kerala? Apart from the red tapism, this abhorring of English, looking down upon anyone who can speak it well - is the reason.

I once read an old story about politicians yelling 'Angrezi hatao' to earn political mileage, and quietly packing their kids off to private English-medium schools, as they know the language is absolutely vital to survive in this rat race.

Now, my personal message to everyone who looks down upon the Queen's language. I know I can freely express myself here, because the chances of one of you numbskulls coming onto the internet for anything else other than porn is as likely as Glenn McGrath breaking Brian Lara's record of 501*. The chances that any of you sh*theads know what Wikipedia or a blog is, are as remote as finding a rain forest in the Arctic circle. All of you idiots can insult us, tease us and call us names. But we will have the last laugh because we have the most important ammo in our arsenal to survive in today's world : communication skills. And yes, a large part of it is English, and how well you can speak it.

We (by we, i mean the English-speaking populace) are the first to grab jobs, to hold offices, and not shy away from work that involves communication. I particularly love the fact that I grabbed a job in my sixth semester, while those pathetic goons who called me names are still out there searching for something to click. And some of them probably have landed pathetic-paying jobs involving cleaning of vehicles, two years after their more vernacularly gifted classmates landed jobs from college itself.
I simply love that. It may be slightly sadistic of me, but I feel that they have got their just desserts.
Kerala's attitude is not very likely to change in the foreseeable future. People who abhor English, yes, the same people who make a beehive to English-speaking courses when they realise it is too late, still preponderate. This mindset is unlikely to change.

Till then, NRIs, NRKs and English-medium school passouts will remain a minority in Kerala, will continue to be ostracized and teased, and will continue to be successful. Somehow the last part of that statement makes up for the rest.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

HOW CHUCK SAVED THE UNIVERSE

It is a lesser known fact that I have, indeed, saved the universe. While lesser mortals have been occupying themselves with engineering text books and crappy Hindi movies, I have embarked on a more noble mission.

I was coming back from the neighbourhood supermarket, on my cycle. Attempting to balance a week's worth of grocery over two handlebars, one of which houses a dysfunctional braking setup, while maneuvering through an assorted collection of potholes is not an easy task. Lance Armstrong should try this. Anyway, I was riding around an old valley, when I saw a shiny bright light, emanating from the sky. At first, I assumed it just to be another new constellation, but it grew bigger and drew closer. It is at this crucial juncture that our protagonist (moi!) stops to think..."Constellations, no matter how recently formed, do not generally expand in size or feel the urge to pay planet earth a visit... atleast in the infancy mode". So i did the only logical thing one could do under such circumstances. I panicked. I began to run, abandoning my cycle. In retrospect, that was a stupid move. Then, a sort of light, of the type that dropped Mr. Bean onto the earth, shone and i was sucked into a spaceship.

So here i was. I felt like Arthur Dent. Inside a goddamn spaceship of all things. And that too at a night when "whose line is it anyway?" was showing. And that bar of Snickers was melting away, in that alley. I was pretty annoyed.A door opened. A man came in. I use the term 'man' loosely. It was more of an alien. Hmmm... Three eyes, green skin, four arms, and his first words were "oughujiakougloulou lougloug". Yes. Surely Alien, or someone who went for a fancy dress party and got stuck in his own costume.

"Greetings, my good man!", I counter to the aforementioned babble. "Take me to your leader".
"That's our line, sh*thead!" replies the alien. His skin clearly reminded me of the curry that was served at my previous hostel, but I'll skip that.
"Hmm... So you've managed to procure one of those nifty alien-gibberish-to-English gizmos that all aliens who invade earth when no other pastime prevail, have.", i observed.
"Quiet, moron!", said the alien, visibly taking umbrage. I couldn't matter less. I wanted my Snickers.
"Listen, dude, couldn't you possibly take someone else for hostage?", i requested.
"Quiet, imbecile! You shall come with me, and meet our leader, the overlord of all destruction, Beorge Tlair the fourth."The name was too close for comfort.

I realised that all my pleading about finding an able substitute was in vain, and i had to acquiesce to this Extraterrestrial's diktats. I was led into a room, where, ostensibly, sat Beorge Tlair. Indeed, there was a big, huge, monstrouos chap, the sort that you find in Engineering College Mens' Hostels.
"Furkulotropoouhyguif", observed the intellectual that is Tlair."Listen, mate... i know you have a few universes to destroy, but could you please leave me alone?""QUIET, IDIOT!", the overlord demanded, switching on his gizmo.

"We come from the planet Ameringland to destroy your puny world."I stood there for a minute, contemplating this overlord. Big and strong, yes, but definitely stupid looking.
He looked at me and guffawed, "Look at this". At this point he took out a gun the size of an obese cannon from his pocket. "This is a Rumsfeld 989. The deadliest weapon in the galaxy. One pull of this trigger and i can eliminate your city. Imagine what an army of 70,000 can do to your planet. This is what we have. Aur aapke paas kya hai?"

I stood there, looking at this beast. How juvenile can people get? Or i guess we could give Tlair a bit of leeway as he is not technically "human".
"Our greatest weapon", I said, "is the Poor Joke. The PJ.""Huh? I have not heard of this weapon in all my 56 xilitrons as chief destructor of Ameringland".

"That's because, dude, you Ameringlands have glands for brains. Allow me to demonstrate my weapon.""Hah. We have analysed Earth, and see that your greatest weapon, the Nuclear bomb is mediocre compared to our Rummy."
"Allow me to demonstrate", i reiterated.
"Go on."
"What do you call two waists that are separated by a small distance?"
"Huh...?!!!!"
"A spaces-hip."

The alien reeled. I knew it was working.

"Where do aliens have a party? At the GALA-xy."
"Nooo!!!! Stop!"

I sensed my chance to finish him off."Do you realise that if you steal the Earth, you will have to steal Phase and Neutral as well, otherwise your electricity won't flow?"

That did it. They opened the door of the spacecraft and kicked me in the small of the pants, and i was thrown out. I traversed a projectilesque path, and landed, arse first, on the ground. The aforementioned protrusion, being of well-padding, rendered me bereft of pain. The door of the craft shut itself, but only before the Overlord's last words were heard : "Make sure we go back and tell General Bony Gush to stay away from this accursed planet. Grtoutyhgyofw!"
And with that last burble, the ship shot off. I couldn't care less. I opened my Snickers, had a bite and rode off.

Thusly, ChUcK saved the universe. A lesser-known fact.

A BAD, BAD CASE OF WRITER'S BLOCK :|

Now what do I write about today? I have as much political insight as a dead chihuahua, and my views on life are as boring as college lecture hours. But hey, I registered here, so might as well get some crap in...
I'll just pick up some random topic and go along..

MUSINGS OVER A DEAD TARANTULA (now THAT's random...!)
=============================
I was walking down the river,
And i saw something that gave me a quiver.
It was a tarantula, all squished and dead,
It looked like hostel food it had been fed.

The poor scary thing, lying there flat,
On this vision, i too, on a rock, sat.
I thought, it could have been worse.
Atleast the ending was very terse.

It looked like it had a car run over it,
I imagined the scene and said, oh sh*t.
I drank my bottle of apple cider,
and i was glad i wasn't a spider.

Okay, I know that sucked. It probably sucked more than a Black&Decker Vacuum cleaner. But the point is, seeing a dead tarantula can leave a deadly implant on your mind, scarring you for life. Oh, you think not?
Well, my friend, try the following exercise...

1. Go and get yourself a tarantula. This can be easily arranged for by anyone who frequents the continent of Africa every fortnight. Otherwise try eBay.
2. Squish it. This can be done by placing it in the path of incoming automobiles.
3. Observe it.
4. Think of the above poem.

You see your doubts and yourself melting away, as MKG put it?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

MY ALL-TIME DREAM CRICKET TEST TEAM ... !

1. SUNIL MANOHAR GAVASKAR : The man with over 10k, who could take the shine off any new ball? Gavaskar... The quintessential opener. Would flourish in today's game as well... But to put things in perspective, i hate his commentary.

2. MATTHEW LAWRENCE HAYDEN : With Gavaskar at the other end, you need someone to score runs as well. Matthew Hayden is the perfect manifestation of the modern-day opener : Brash, quick and successful. Drool... Sunny and Matty as an opening pair...!!!!!

3. DONALD GEORGE BRADMAN : 99.94, Period.

4. RAHUL SHARATH DRAVID : Yes, i think he is a better batsman than Sachin Tendulkar. Especially under crises. What, you want proof? Remember the 148 at Headingley? The 270 at Rawalpindi? The 180 at Kolkata? The 233 at Adelaide? He has played more match-winning innings than any other Indian. Tendulkar is a legend, yes... But does he have a portfolio of innings like THAT?!

5. ISSAC VIVIAN ALEXANDER RICHARDS : This is the attack in the middle order. Viv could take the dent out of any attack... And imagine Dravid and Gavaskar grounding the opposition bowlers to dust... Then, leaving Viv to smash the guts out of the hapless bowlers...

6. GARFIELD SOBERS : THE GREATEST CRICKETER THAT EVER EXISTED. Garry was a revelation... And could do anything on the cricket pitch. One feels that had he been asked to carry drinks, he would have made an art of that as well...

7. ADAM CRAIG GILCHRIST : Mind, i was in two minds whether to put Andrew Flower in this spot. But then I realised that none of the top 6 could be made to bat any lower down the order... But if I was asked to select the best batsman-keeper of all time, i would definitely opt for Flower. But in the context of this exercise, my vote goes for Gilly... a terrific striker of the ball... and in the unlikely situation that a team of this stature can find itself in the ditch at 50/6 or something, Gilly is the man who can get them out of it... And add to that, he is such an acrobatic keeper... From the day he got boo-ed when Ian Healy was kicked out of the team to make way for him... He's come a long way...

8. WASIM AKRAM : The greatest left-arm fast bowler ever. His guile and variation will complement the sheer pace of Marshall. Plus, when you have number 8's who can score 257 not outs...

9. SHANE KIETH WARNE : The man who brought the art of leg-spinning out of the deep dark canyons that it was dug into, and out into the open... And taking 600+ wickets in the process. If this man does not make it into the all-time XI, I don't know who will. Consider, he had to take wickets when his bowling mates were McGrath and Gillespie. I rest my case.

10. MUTTHIAH MURALITHARAN : What, you say? TWO SPINNERS? And why not? We should consider ourselves fortunate to have the two best spinners ever playing in the same era... But what if they played in the same team? The man who can ostensibly make the ball "spin on glass"... His variations ... Some sort of Akramian incarnation in a spinner's body... A true genius... And to just picture him bowling alongside Warnie... Wow !!!

11. MALCOLM MARSHALL : Undoubtedly... My favourite out of the West Indian pace battery... His career should have been much longer...

12th Man. JONATHAN NEIL RHODES : When you want a sub fielder, why not go for the very best? The only man to win a Man-Of-The-Match award for his fielding, Jonty was the way to go!

So there we are... 5 batsmen, one bowling allrounder, one wicketkeeper-batsman. Two pacers, two spinners. You have one more quality seamer in Sobers. Just ferpect, isn't it..!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

THE MBC EXPERIENCE : PART TWO

So... We get up early morning, reluctantly, in order to practice... Perfunctory attempts at ablutions follow... The same stinky tees we wore the day before embraced our torsos.. And off we practice. Keep in mind that till now, we hadn't practiced with a full drum kit... We were doing only two songs :
  • Before the dawn : Judas Priest
  • Like A Stone : Audioslave
And the former didn't require drums. The latter, however, did.. And Babyface resorted to drumming on the back of our acoustic guitar for practice!
So off we go with our axes for the show... The two teams before us blew us away... And then we got on... Totally messed up the first song, where our acoustic was as audible as Shivnarine Chanderpaul during an interview. Second song went off like a dream, though! Came out really well. But we knew that we blew it. Oh well. Decided to watch the other teams as well... They were a mix of good and fair. After officially confirming that we didn't make the judges' top 3, we went off... Along with another team, back to Thrissur. Of course, we had to get down at Kochi to return the effects unit. And this is when the fun starts.
For those of you who don't know, there are two stops at Kochi : south and north. Coming from Trivandrum, South comes first. The train was not supposed to stop at south, where Draco's house was. So when the train made one of those unplanned stops at some point before South, Draco wanted to get off. Here goes the conversation :
DRACO : I'm getting off here, guys...
US : See ya, mate...
*Draco gets off*
BABYFACE : So, what's our plan?
CHUCK : Get off at North, take an auto to Vaduthala, and return the unit...
BABYFACE : And the money...?
CHUCK : Oh, some 20 bucks by Auto...
*It was at this pivotal point that realisation dawns on us. There are certain times in your life that realisation dawns. Like when your fave team does not win the FA Premier League. Or when you realise you have no more underwear left. This was one of those moments. No, we had our underwear, but what we didn't have was money. Draco was our sole World Bank this trip, and he said he'd give us the money before getting off. Looks like all of us forgot.*
SNOOPY : (frantically calls up Draco) Get off, everyone!
*So we hurriedly jump off the train, in the middle of nowhere, and walk to the point where Draco was standing. We walk with him in unseen-by-civilization places, and reach an Auto. The unit was returned, and we get a late night train back to Thrissur.*
And i lost a temporary filling while eating a Cheetos. Do not ask me how that happened.
Back at the hostel... Took a bath that felt like heaven, considering we were bereft of Sodium salts of carbonyl... Oops... Soap for two days. Getting rid of that tee itself gave an effect that a wave of Rexona engulfed the world.
So... We didn't win anything, we lost all the money we had, but we had loads of fun. You get the same experience while visiting Vegas, for a pittance of the cost. Good fun, ya! Maybe our next sojourn into the streets will bring a Disneyland-like experience!

THE MBC EXPERIENCE : PART ONE

Right. Now what better way to start of my first blog, than to recount a truly marvelous experience that me and my 'band' (I use the term loosely) had when we went to a Western Orchestra competition at Trivandrum... Here goes...


So it was some day that our lead singer, Snoopy, announces that Mar Baselios College Of Engineering (MBC) was holding a Western Orchestra competition. Great, I say. When? Snoopy : Next week. Me : Hoo-ha! How on earth are we going to get anything done by then?! But then, Indians have always been hardcore optimists who believe that relations with George Bush are going to help us, and peeing on the sidewalks is good nutrition for the plants that grow there. So hence we embarked on our journey of practice. Our band consisted of :
  • Snoopy (our diminutive lead singer)
  • Babyface (our guitarist-drummer)
  • Draco (our guitarist)
  • Chuck (yours truly, the most under-rated bassist in the world)
Oh, did I mention that we don't have a drum kit? The odds were all against us... We had two days for the show, and here we were, our first day of practice!

We managed to get a drum kit from a friend of Babyface's. Then after getting the damn kit all the way to the top floor of our college building, we start practicing. Only then does a gentleman knock, knock, knockin' on our door inform us that exams are in progress, and we'd have to clam up. Sheesh. I listen to Jovi and Metallica while studying...!!! For the good of our fellow engineer-wannabes, we decide to ditch it for a while and go unplugged.

Once the clock hit 04:30, though... The sound of a snare and a bass drum reverberated all over! Along with distortion guitar and of course, bass! Then the watchman told us he was closing up for the day. At 5 PM?!! Good heavens, these people have something against music or what?!!!
So then the fun started, transporting the drum kit back to the hostel... A few bike journeys, and scaling the bass drum over the college wall... I know now what those Egyptians felt like while building those pyramids.

Anyway... Next day, me and Babyface went to Kochi to rent an effects processor... Got a bit of practice done after that... Found out that one drumstick was missing... Then had to hurriedly get another one...! It was during this time that i scared the sh*t out of poor Babyface by displaying my scooter-riding prowess. Anyone who has mastered the dragon ride at Veegaland or the rollercoaster at EsselWorld, and are looking for scarier stuff, I would recommend taking a bike ride with me. It's a life-changing experience, I guarantee.

Then next morning, we wake up at the ungodly hour of 6, pack and leave. Just managed to catch the train to Trivandrum. Random practice with acoustic guitars in the train, while fellow passengers looked at us askance, with the air of someone who just discovered a disgusting caterpillar in their afternoon salad, took place and the train assisted us in our practice by being four hours late.

We ended up reaching the college (four people+3 guitars+amp+few bags in one auto - what's the record for density, again?) of our performance (I use the term loosely, again), MBC pretty late. We were told that a pro band, RAGE, would be performing. After practicing in our room for a few hours, we went to watch Rage, and what a performance it was...! Three Maiden tracks, including HBTN, and three by Metallica, including MoP. Truly amazing, the lead guitarist had fingers that moved like lightning.

After the awe-inspiring performance, we found out that the drum set that the college had rented out was pathetic. The cymbals were strategically placed so that if you hit it, it would fly off and render your face dismantled. The snare reminded me of some loosely-structured diaphragm i saw in the Fluid Mechanics lab back at college.
Anyway, it seemed that the event had to be postponed to the next morning, as they had to go get new drums. Damn! And we so looked forward to doing it in the OAT.

So then, we had to spend the night there. Stinkin' idiots that we were, we were bereft of spare clothing, save undergarments. So there we slept, shirts off, under a slow fan. Tired, dead, and definitely lookin' forward to a great next day. The remaining part in the next post.