Last evening I went to redo a root canal I did over 5 years ago. I was experiencing excruciating pain that was shooting up my skull- pain I hadnt experienced since I stopped watching a particular TV news anchor over 3 years ago, and so I took the bold step I was putting off.
An xray revealed that the earlier work didn’t exactly go right up to the end of the root, so I agreed to do a rerun.
Dental visits in these COVID times are like a visit to NASA. The dentist came in a full space suit-type garb, she gave me a local anaesthetic and said “Lift your left hand when the pain is too much”. (Naughty. Naughty) 😂
Anyways she got to work and more surprises were in store as she was pulling out small pieces of cotton from my problem tooth like sorcar the magician. ( Cotton left inside by mistake 5 years ago.) Long story short – Im just letting all the bad stuff drain out this diwali weekend and hopefully have a “happy ending” next week. 😂
It got me thinking though about how many of us carry remnants of mistakes and scars from the past which we patched up. Trust me not addressing them was a bad mistake. Redo that root canal and save that sweet tooth.
I watched a recording of the US Presidential debate on youtube- and let me tell you, if you thought the pandemic was the worst 2020 could bring, think again. Come november and the seat for the most powerful human being in the world would go to one of these two.
Yes, you should be worried.
Today was a public holiday and so kavitha and I ordered a full, non-vegetarian meal for lunch and took a postprandial, siesta that extended well into the evening. We got up and panicked- “Oh gawd. that meal was so good , and we over did it, now we won’t be able to sleep tonight. lets go for a long walk” she said. “hmmm. why not just order another big south indian thali (meal) for dinner and address the sleep issue” i quipped in humour.
The stress the world faces today is (1) a lack of choices when it comes to stuff that matter, and (2) our ability to make critical decisions seem to have been compromised by the influence of social media. ( I recommend watching “the social dilemma” on Netflix)
We have a ton of choices when it comes to the super market, but not so at the polling booth. Its like we’re sitting, mouth wide open and mildly sedated on a dentists chair and hearing the dentist go- “Root canal …. or extraction?”, and you shrug your shoulders trying to communicate a “wtf?”, but he takes it as “its fine, either way” and the last thing you remember is him flashing you a “thumbs up”.
So there you have it, we may as yet find a cure to the pandemic in the next few weeks and finally be able to remove our masks- but trust me its not going to be a pretty picture watching a billion people forcing a smile with two front teeth missing- jobs, close family members and probably more.
Till then. paint a smiley face on your mask and pretend its not happening.
You know you’re getting older when you can’t stop thinking about “back in the day” stuff.
We’ve all aged prematurely during the pandemic, and constantly ponder over, how things were before shit hit the fan six months ago.
Lets talk “Underwear”, for instance. It seems like a whole generation has woken up from a long sleep, rummaged through their lockers, got confused by a strange, small piece of clothing with a “victorias secret” label and come to a conclusion that it was something we put around our nose and mouth. Yes, everyone and his pet dog seems to have caught on with the style statement, and we’ve come to define the “new normal” as the practice of wearing underwear on our face.
Talking of Underwear – have you noticed that they have somehow become “optional” these days, and the “new normal”, morning rush around the living room, seems to be around watching obese “back in the day” corporate types, chomping down on a “pav-bhaaji” breakfast meal just delivered by a shy, orange clad, overworked “swiggy” delivery boy- “Oh gawd, how many more morons do i need to see walking around in formal shirts, boxer shorts and barefeet?”
“arre shweety, i cant find my silky, red boxers you got me last week?… you know the one with the hulk picture in front? Also where is my wallet yaar, I need to pay this swiggy guy”
You walk into a mall and the “Jockey” stores seem strangely to be closing down or running short of XXL briefs. Everyone seems to be focussed on dressing from the waist up only for Video Conference calls, and consequently queues at the makeup counters are getting longer and more impatient.
“maybelline Blush hai? 10 deh doh madam. jhaldee”
Job losses are a sad reality of the pandemic, and one unlikely hit is the “iron-wallah”- poor chap, he used to strut along into the apartment building like he owned the penthouse- bribing the watchman and sometimes even didnt pick up your call down the weekend, and you almost hugged him when he agreed to do a set of formals for monday morning as a “special case”. Now? The guy is walking aimlessly outside the apartment gate watching teary-eyed at the “maamies” who seem to have deleted him from their “speed-dial” list and now just wriggle their noses at him and go “huh?” while continuing to dry endless lines of boxers, banian, “kerchief” and an occasional “no wrinkle” shirt.
“Back in the day” we queued up at the petrol pumps, to fill up our vehicles. Now? With everyone working from home, most folks seem to be going there to buy bubble gum and weasel in some free air, and if we decide to actually fill up gas, the attendants treat you like a mini celebrity and almost want to give you a shoulder massage as you both wait endlessly to hear the last drop of your 500 rupee worth of petrol, hit the bottom of your tank”
On the flip side, the pandemic is an opportunity for “fathers of the bride”. No more having extra long walks down the weekend to avoid your “little girl” broach the subject of marriage, and the prospect of watching your lifetime savings go bust, feeding 500 “near-strangers”, warm rasogollas and 12 varieties of “chaat”.
Now we have the “doting father no.1” sitting slyly on the sofa with newspaper in hand every morning, jumping up when his almost “ready-to-be-wed” girl walks in…. “betti. the astrologer says its a good time for weddings … and this good phase would only last for the next 90 days” he adds with a wicked smile. hmmm. yes its a “good time” especially when theres a restriction on the number of people that can gather together, and the “agile thinking parents” are falling over each other to get their daughters married off during the pandemic and saving lakhs on wedding expenses.
if you’re a dad, blessed with a fat, ugly daughter of marriageable age on the other hand- fret not, this is a double whammy, and you could save money, while also peddling off your ugly daughters while insisting she wears a mask and pointing fingers at the pandemic as a cause for her obesity.
Successful people are those who see opportunity in the face of adversity- your time is now.
It’s going to be 25 years since kavitha and I got married, and it’s like someone dropped off a pile of wood at our front door along with 2 small allenkeys and a 1 page instructions manual from ikea to get on a study table and chair project.
We spent the first few years of our marriage sitting on the floor, just flipping the instruction sheet, staring a hundred times at the picture on the box and rummaging through the carton wondering if ikea forgot to include a few important parts and contemplating a trip back for a refund. Family members and friends would walk past shaking their heads and whispering at each other.
The next few years we seem to have gotten into a rhythm, and things moved at a brisk pace, and people walking past stopped by, complimented us on the progress, my handyman skills and for some strange reason, kavithas brains. 🤨 not mine?
I was sure i mixed up a few of the little nuts and bolts, but everything looked good, and I even shored up courage to sit on the chair, staring confused at 3 nuts and a washer still not fimdimg a place in the project, while shifting my weight uncomfortably from this end to that… hmmm. a little squeak here- nothing a can of WD40 would not fix.
Kavitha and I have been sitting on these chairs for what seems like a whole afternoon now, dreaming of swedish meatballs and raspberry sauce. aah! The chairs are very functional though, needs an extra cushion sometimes, no fuss” and literally zero maintenance. The only thing you need to do is make sure you keep that custom allen key set and those 2 extra nuts and washer in a safe spot.
We’ve had bigger and more expensive furniture over the years, and that ikea set seems to have move further into the background, but we smile and shake our head every time we walk past this simple, unpretentious, comfortable and warm ikea set thats seen it all and continues to hold its own.
Life is shorter than you think it is- smile and get some comfortable and warm furniture that makes living better.
I grew up during a time when we didn’t have internet, and we actually had to wait for 7- 10 years to get a phone connection at home.
The “landline”/ phone and thick directory were usually delivered months in advance of the connection actually being activated, and we continued to clean that dead phone every day with pride, anticipation and a feeling that we’ve finally made it in life.
I still remember my mom sitting at the dining table, spending hours, flipping through the phone directory looking for “contacts”, which she would mark with a ball-point pen- a reminder of calls that needed to be made once the phone was actually activated. My dad too spent many a weekend afternoon, looking at the yellow pages for automobile parts shops, etc. We kids didn’t have too much browsing to do because our friends circle lived within 100 meters of our home.
Closer to the activation date, the “line man” came with a tester peeping out of his pocket, parked his cycle in front of our house, pulled out a connection confirmation list and sadistically just fixed the junction box and left, without actually activating anything.
We spent the next few days randomly picking up the receiver over 10 times a day, in hopes that we would hear the freaking, “ring tone”, and arguing between us over the placement of the phone in the living room.
It had to be at a prominent place in the living room that required a lot of furniture shifting and brought into play my dads interior decoration skills, ensuring all the visitors could admire it, and we could run without tripping over the wire, to make sure we picked it up “before the 3rd ring”.
For a long period before that phone entered our living room, the only option we had to communicate in an emergency situation, required us to take a 20 minute bus ride to the general post office, 10 kilometres away, wait in line at midnight, when the charges were the lowest and send a telegram.
You paid by the word, so you had to communicate like you were “tweeting” bad news. “Thatha passed away” (hmmm. Cant we just use “died” and save some money?). “Funeral tomorrow.”.
Receiving telegrams was a totally different ball game too. Not sure why but most telegrams were delivered at night (probably because someone else was also saving cash).
You were most probably in deep sleep, when you hear your dog growl, and then the sound of someone clicking the stand of a cycle in your garden.. then you heard someone stub his toe on the flower pot near the entrance, and curse in Tamil, before dragging a snapped “chappal” onto the front door steps and start groping the wall in the dark, trying to find your doorbell. Finally a voice in the darkness goes- “Saar. telegram”.
That’s it- the dog jumps into “beast” mode, all the lights in the house would turn on at the same time, my dad would spring out of bed, like an athlete on steroids, and catch the postman with a brown checked shawl around his head, making an entry in the register with a torchlight.
The rest of the night was all about dunking endless cups of strong chai and talking about the departed.
The “STD booths”, (no. It’s not what you’re thinking) came in a bit later, and around the same time we saw, “xerox/ fax” shops popping up in the neighbourhood. It was usually manned by a person with special needs, who had bribed his way into a government job. The booth was a place you went to, when we had to deliver well-curated, intercity or overseas calls at the top of our voices and at a high speed. Given the high cost of ISD calls, these were reserved for extraordinary circumstances only- like wanting to reconfirm the flight details of a relative landing a month from now.
If it was bad news that had to be passed on to family members within the city limits, we had designated family members who were given the task- usually the most sad-faced, non-controversial, religious and boring relative, who owned a bike, was assigned the task.
As soon as you saw this “angel of death”… this “harbinger of bad news” as it were, outside your house, you went “ohOH”, and the faces of all the old people in your family tree started flashing in your mind, like a slot machine- “oh gawd. who’s it going to be THIS time?”
Anyway this guy usually came across as too shy to even ring the bell, or he was too drunk. Either ways he was invariable in a confused state of mind, and standing outside our next door neighbours door, trying to explain the physical descriptions of all the members in our family – providing them with all our “pet names” (dippy? Anil? Sunil?) we were assigned within the family. Once we “uncle” him in, he walks slowly into the house, asks for “dad or mom” and a glass of water. He was usually upgraded to a mandatory cup of lukewarm, over-sweet tea and glucose biscuits, which he nibbles at, while patting our head with sadness.
The “elders” (usually my dad in front , with my mom nervously hiding behind him) walk in, and before my dad could make a humorous, inappropriate remark, to start off proceedings, my mom would jump out, with outstretched arms, “yaaru? Yaaru?”
And then all hell usually broke loose, with a lot of crying. Coffee gets neglected along with the half-eaten Glucose biscuit, which our dogs would start showing interest in. If there were any of our friends playing caroms in our room- they started hugging the walls like a swat team on an episode of “Cops”, and start slowly slipping out of the house in stealth-mode. Funeral details are shared and all our evening plans went for a toss.
These days the “drama” in communication seems to have been lost for ever. I miss the emotional “slow burn”, when emoticons and smiley faces were actual people. Not for me the real-time, updates by over enthusiastic “maamis” in the family whatsapp group, that elbow “Thathas” spirit trying to get past the rooftop on the ether highway.
There’s a pillow somewhere that has your name on it. The right height. Softness, and a “memory” that’s non judgemental and guaranteed to wake you up energized. Everytime.
You’ll know it when you find her. Sometimes staring seductively from the edge of the king size bed as you enter your hotel room. You drop your head and immediately everything you were doing stops, and the world seems to move in slow motion, and you dig in deeper, turn to the left, the right and it feels perfect, and you enjoy parts of her that could sue Disneyland for claiming to be the happiest place on earth. Aah!
Some hotels have a whole bunch for you to choose from too, and even ask you about your preference at booking or checkin, and you blurt out your preference embarrassingly, only to realize how important that call was, because I’ve sometimes felt like checking out of a hotel staring lovingly at the pillow from last night in arm and wondering if I broke any biblical laws.
Come to think of it, a pillow is not a complex contraption at all – no fancy electronics, simple utility value, no false promises and that’s what makes her endearing. You can dress her up in fancy colours and throw her on the couch, fold, tuck, works well in groups of 2 or 3, especially helpful when you want to lighten up a party (pillow fights).
So there you have it. Wipe that grin off your face and go get yourself one. 🤦♂️
It’s not funny – every time I’ve picked a movie on Netflix during the lockdown, my wife says she’s watched it, and I keep scratching my head trying to think of a time when she could have watched all these movies when I wasn’t around. 🤨
I think the women in our lives, keep doing a lot of stuff when we’re not looking- just storing up info and knowledge on so many things to use for or against us at that opportune moment. Have you ever wondered what we would do without these amazing, organically-growing bodies of knowledge helping us along this complex life of ours since the time they got us kicked out of the garden of Eden, by providing us with Specific, scientifically-proven facts on everyday stuff?
I still remember washing thoroughly a non stick cooking pan sometime ago, and the automatic alert mode switches on in the ether around our home and I hear a voice from the next room – “… that’s Teflon coated, you’re not supposed to scrub it like that …”, I look up to the sky and thank god, for I didn’t know that nugget of invaluable information. Where is she getting all this knowledge from? I quietly drop the scrubber and caress the Teflon coating…. aah!
The other day we had the New washing machine installed, and I stood beside the service engineer while he explained the usage, I called my wife to check if she wanted to watch the demo and she said “it’s okay.“, which I have come to realize is actually a “hell NO”. Fast forward to yesterday, and I was setting up the machine for a spin and without even so much as a glance she goes- “ dont keep the water pressure at high… or the hose will leak“. Gawd, 30 minutes of zen like focus as the service engineer installed it while providing me with tips- All of it in vain? I think I’ve married “Wonder Woman” in disguise, seriously.
I could have just got back from shopping and would be bending half way trying to reach the vegetable tray in the refrigerator and she gives me exact details on how to store each vegetable type… dry. Pouched. Stalk out. Cut. Hmmm. Before I got married, I just went to the store and got “milk”, now after 20 years, I got to remember terms like pasteurized, skimmed, toned, fat %, check expiry date, packaging. Not sure how I even survived all those decades drinking just “milk”.
Labels. Labels.labels. Before I got married I just looked at the labels on items to check if I could afford it financially. Now? I just have gotten used to putting on my bifocals and reading the fine print like a student unprepared for his math test …. GST? ST? It’s going to expire in 2 week? Carbohydrates? Do I check “Manufacturing date” or “expiry date”? What the hell is “halal cut?”
I’ve been benefitted by other life saving info too over the years-like, what is the right tip to leave a waiter or the food delivery guy… Or I could be lying down with my head propped up with 3 pillows, and boom, there’s a medically proven fact on blood flow and strokes throw in my general direction … so I just remove 1 pillow and save my chances of survival by 33%. Alternatively I could bring a bowl of fruit salad with some nice flavoured yogurt toppings at 5pm and she goes- “what? You will wake up with a sore throat tomorrow morning.”.
On the flip side all the facts and tips I read seem to be just crap, and doesn’t seem to be helping me win any arguments whatsoever, however much I try and steer discussions into topics that make up my treasure trove of knowledge. I read somewhere that we need to close all the doors and windows at sunset so the mosquitoes don’t fly in and try and find a comfortable place to stay the night, and since that day I’ve been going around the house closing doors and windows at sunset, while looking at my wife trying to see if she’s going to ask me what I’m doing, so I have a fact to throw at her now – it’s been 6 years now and she’s never enquired on it.
Like a student from the back benches, trying to cram up for an exam at the last moment, I too try and read up online on stuff I could flaunt, however I don’t seem to be getting an opportunity to unleash all this amazing stuff I’ve now got crammed up in my head for a counter argument all these years- The reason why black holes exist…. “new dance form found within an isolated tribal society deep in the amazon jungles”… “sleep cycles of the rich and famous?”. “How to build a panic room in the event of a zombie apocalypse”, etc.
I just realized what the problem is. It’s that google is now run by a fellow chennai-ite. Sundar pitchai. Yes, with google now AI- ML enabled, it’s become as suggestive as a saree sales guy posing at your wife with a saree on each shoulder at a “Rasi” outlet in West Mambalam. Seriously. You could be browsing work-related stuff, but google thinks it knows what you’re looking for, so takes you on a totally different tangent. I could be typing some work-related stuff like “ competency fra….” and before I could finish the sentence, I’m Bombarded with suggestions on some vague plant based diet plans, etc… and THATS the problem. We guys have this crazy factory-fitted curiosity app for crappy stuff built in, and we get sidetracked, and before you know it, we would have spent 2 hours reading up on terms like “legumes”, taken 2 surveys to check “which plant-based diet is best for you?”, and ordered a 5 kg pack of “pea protein isolate” on amazon…🤦♂️
I’ve got a plan though. I think I’ll hack my wife’s google account and start afresh, who knows, maybe I’ll win an argument in 20 years time -if I’m lucky and alive.
I realized that the best way to irritate your doctor is to start a conversation with – “Doc, I was reading on the internet that …” or “Doc what do you think of … “ and just randomly start telling him about how you self diagnose and discuss “over-the-counter” solutions with your local pharmacist. 🤨🤷♂️🤦♂️😂
Growing up we had a “medicine shelf” at home since my mom was a nurse for over 30 years and the shelf was always stocked- junction violet?, spirit, burnol, betadine, zinc cream, cotton rolls, etc and a tablet box. So “self medication “ when we got scrapes or bruises playing soccer, etc was a daily affair.
My dad on the other hand would walk up to “salamath pharmacy”, and the owner who was a thin chap, who looked like a “apu” on the Simpson’s serial would walk up to him…. my dad would start by giving him a few symptoms, and before he went 2 sentences, “apu” would already be walking up to a shelf, scratch his head, reach out for a cardboard box with all kinds of alphabet markings on it. He would walk back, hand my dad a small brown paper packet, with the dosage and cost written on it with a ball point pen that he always had stuck behind his ear. My dad would be giving him the looks we reserve for the pastor at church, make the payment and walk out.
As for me, there was a time when I loved to shop for electronics when travelling abroad- now, I just love to walk into a large pharmacy outlet like “shoppers drug mart” or “guardian” and get all excited looking at the lineup of flavoured antacids, cough medications, ear drops, small hand lotions, etc and usually come out with the biggest spend for the trip.
I still remember the time I was travelling to Seattle from singapore and transiting through Tokyo airport. This was probably 2001 or so. Anyways as usual I got excited seeing a small battery operated head massager on display, which I thought was god answering my prayers for a solution to my migraine problems. The packaging was all in japanese- but I considered myself a “techie” who was comfortable with mechanical devises, so that didn’t make a difference. I took my seat next to a white lady on the long haul flight, gave the customary introduction and no sooner had the flight taken off that I inserted fresh batteries into the head massager with a smile and started moving it across my temples and forehead. The feeling was so good… gawd these japanese guys were sheer geniuses I thought. The lady next to me was first curious because the devise was making a small buzzing noise in the darkness of the aircraft, but then she started avoiding making any eye contact with me and I thought “gawd, these racist folks” are really very standoffish.
I was narrating the story to my other colleagues down that weekend in Seattle and only when someone wanted to see the devise I was referring to did I realize that it was actually a women’s Sex toy called a “magic bullet”. 🤦♂️
So I have this theory that the devil was present when god was making man. I can imagine them both sitting down under the apple tree and having a general TGIF moment on a Friday evening and as usual god is rattling away at how good his little “universe project” is coming around. The devil is chugging on a glass of wine with his legs resting on a garden chair.
And god goes, “hey luci (yes that’s what I would call a guy named lucifer too.) , want a sneak peak at the new product I’m releasing tomorrow?” And the devil strokes the head of the serpent on his lap lovingly and yawns – “whatever!! Make it fast though- got some work to do on my “universe project” too… “.
So god mumbles something, puts on his specs, hobbles into his workshop adjoining the garden and comes back in a few minutes, “Ta. da. Behold my best ever creation yet” and out walks man. And the devil nearly chokes the little snake on his lap in astonishment, drops his wine glass and goes “OMG. He looks a lot like your evil twin”. god blushes a light shade of pink, “ha!ha! I know, that’s because I made him In my own image.” The devil blows a raspberry, “phurp”. “Damn. Don’t you think that would come across as extreme ego pandering?”.
God looks a bit irritated by now, realizing that his masterpiece is not actually drawing a positive reaction “ You know what – the rest of creation can take a hike, ’cause I care a damn what they think. infact I’m calling him just that – “A damn”…. and you know what ….. (pause for effect) … I’m going to create another one just like this one just to keep him occupied”.
By now lucifer is very amused and the wine seems to be also kicking in nicely, he gets up, the serpent now curls up nicely around Lucy’s neck, flicks a forked tongue and knows there’s something important about to happen. Lucy walks up to Adam, looks him In the eye and goes “boo!!”. Adam jumps up in utter fear and darts out into the garden naked. God tries to control his laughter and admonishes the devil “Luci. Don’t scare the poor boy!”.
Lucifer waits a few moments, for effect and to make sure Adam has well and truly left and walks up to god, and whispers “ you know what? This bald guy is great, but I have a quick fix to keep this dumb chap occupied when the woman you’re planning, isn’t around…”. god dismisses him with a wave of the hand and goes- “don’t worry I’ve taken care of that your pervert? Anyways go ahead it’s Friday evening and I can do with some party talk.”
The devil scratches his bald head and smiles -“ you got to just put some thin grass like stuff on his head that would grow, blow in the wind, get easily disturbed, change colour and fall off. Believe me that’s enough to keep this nitwik occupied”. God shakes his head, slaps the devil on his back and goes “ like hair? finally, that’s sheer genius. Why didn’t I think of that myself. something I could definitely do”. He snaps his fingers and sure enough Adam who’s by now grinning at his own reflection in the stream that runs through the garden of eden, jumps up with joy on suddenly seeing hair pop up on his head and starts running his fingers through it.
God looks at lucifer, shakes his head, smiles and goes – “you little devil! See you tomorrow. Careful it’s getting dark outside….”
And THAT my friend is where it all started…
Fast forward 2000 years …
Growing up we all develop a love-hate relationship with our hair. I didn’t have such privileges though. i grew up with both parents from the forces and was also part of a cult-like religious group- without the pointy hats though. So while the 70s and 80s were marked by long hair and bell bottoms- for us 3 brothers we used to sport what is called a “summer cut”, so lets just agree that much of my relationship with my hair has been – hate.
For the uninitiated, a “summer cut” is essentially where a “barber” would mimic a farmer ploughing his field using a “machine”. Yes when we were growing up – everything was simple and we just called things as it is without fear of being called out as “inappropriate”.
We stayed in a middle class neighbourhood of town, and the “neighbourhood” essentially meant we had an oil shop (to buy kerosene) for cooking …. next was a “Nayyar baker”,… “barber shop”…… “paper shop”… “Brahmin hotel”…. “Potti Kadai….. “Bhai hotel” …. “watch shop”…. next Muslim doc…. then “next street” which essentially was that – the next street, where many of our friends and pandian, our PT master and Alwar our science master from School lives. It was a time before GPS, internet, handphone and 6 lane roads, and so our world essentially extended around a 10 kilometres radius. Go east to marina beach….. west to Nungambakkam …. north to mount road or parry’s corner at best and south to Mylapore ….. or adyar.
So then , sorry I digressed there, the barber used to do “house calls” when we were real small and then, when we could cross the road, we did the “walk of shame” to and back from the hair dresser like a “before”- “after” tictok video. The next week post the dreaded haircut was all about being teased in school, wearing a cap and generally having a good look in the mirror every morning hoping for some growth. We finally landed at church on Sunday morning and everyone gave me an appreciative nod and smile and I literally saw a white dove take off from the back of my head while a voice from heaven went “nitwik”.
Anyways my relationship with my hair has taken a lot of avatars since – “summer-cut” … “step-cut” … “just trimming” … “number 2 blade full-ah podu pah” … “long”, to where I’m now “headed” (sorry for the pun) – “bald!”
… and you’re afraid a virus named after a beer is going to take me down?
I’m all for encouraging small business owners and I believe anyone charging me more than 100 bucks for my hair-“style” is ripping me off. So I go to the local “barber”, so my son, Nischinth can spend 1000 bucks at Freaking “Toni & Guy”. 😦 I give only one instruction- “Number 2 podu Paa”…I mean the number on the electric trimmer. Not what you think. 🙂 . Check out the “Gellette” Foam and the “Jordan” Color-ah. The funny thing is I went in at 8:55.a.m and the guy tries out his electric trimmer on one “girdha” (sideburns) and then goes “Saar 9:00.a.m current cut-uh”. Hello? and then rushes through like an MTC bus on my head. Its a small hole-in the wall shop and I don;t need to walk to the sink (check it out behind the fan) ; if I ever get the courage to have a “shampoo wash”. Anyways the last time my wife Kavitha visited the Tirupathi temple in southern india, I accompanied here as usual ( I’ve been in a couple of times – but can’t manage the claustrophobic queues… ) and as usual I sauntered around the back lanes trying to pass time… had 2 cups of tea… walk,walk.. still an hour to go- so I enter where-else- a “barber shop”. “Number 2 podu pah”. still 45 minutes to go… “Oru Head massage”… still 15 minutes… “Oru facial podu paa”… I’m not kidding he started with a foundation of talcum powder ( pervert!) , then some white wax type of thing… then some pink lotion with golden sparkles. Gawd. Kavitha could’nt stop laughing when she came back and saw me all bleach-faced and sparkling. LOL! “GO. Encourage your local business owner.”
So I did a road trip on my bike with a few colleagues this weekend. The weather was not very comfortable, but the destination was absolutely beautiful and I learnt 7 life lessons during the ride I thought I should share…
(1) The first lesson I learned after we hardly rode 30 kilometres , was that there is difference between a “rider” and a “biker”- and I am definitely a “rider”, who does short trips to the supermarket, round the block, etc- a biker on the other hand is someone who lives for the long haul. I was the odd one out in the pack- slightly older, slightly obese, slightly crazy. While everyone was in full riding gear- I just had a wind breaker and a jeans, tee shirt and I was already half soaked as it started drizzling as I left home at 6am. Life is a long haul – it’s important we keep in shape, and invest in a good pair of riding gear if we hope to enjoy the ride.
(2) At 50 kilometres into the ride, I learnt the difference between “discomfort” and “pain”. Learning to differentiate between discomfort and pain is key, and once you understand your own thresholds, it’s important to learn to “get comfortable with your discomfort”. In riding as in life, you constantly move from one discomfort to another- uncomfortable situations, people that are difficult, etc. Discomfort is temporary and with some slight “adjustments”- you could just wait it out and ride on. Don’t quit!
(3) The only people that should really matter are the ones you are riding with at that moment … (and yes, the people on the road -make sure you don’t kill anyone on the road. 😳 ) Always ride with partners that have the backs of each other at all times. Learn to know your thresholds and the people you’re riding with, and make sure you respect their spaces too, and remember everyone is riding different bikes, and have different riding capabilities… factor that at all times.
(4) Like a good scotch – Biking is best enjoyed “solo”, and it’s important to get comfortable in your own skin and with spending long hours with yourself and the changing environment. On a bike there are no barriers like when you’re driving in the controlled atmosphere of a car. Smell the air. Breathe like sathguru. (Speaking of sathguru- me thinks this guy got enlightenment while riding solo on his bike…) and ride safe.
(5) Okay now, that “spaced out” look with a constant grin that you see on a bikers face even when they’re at the workplace ? – believe me it’s simple- they’re hatching a plan for their next road trip. Bikers spend a LOT of time planning their trip and for everything that can go wrong. Broken chains, flat tyres, changing weather and gear, snapped cables, etc. So the next time you pass a bikers cubicle at work and you see them on their Handphone smiling and whispering about “lubes”- believe me it’s not a girlfriend they’re on a call with – it’s fellow member of their tribe. Smile. Move on. (recruiting tip- if you’re a manager and looking to hire- all things being equal- hire a biker! )
(6) Weight, control, balance: You don’t feel the weight of the bike as much if it is distributed right and you’re in motion. As in life make “making progress “ your prime focus… “always keep moving”. A little discomfort…. keep moving. Changing weather? Take a value judgement between safety and reaching your next planned halt- if you cannot decide, it’s safer to just ride on. We all carry different payloads as we journey through life- some more than others, no wonder the pundits keep harping on “work-life” balance. But skill and control especially as you negotiate “tricky turns” is all about “knowing your bike intimately” and how it reacts to specific situations. There’s no alternative to “Mastery of your craft.”
(7) Shift gears to suit the path: In my last ride yesterday, one rider in the pack came up to me, and as a “newbie”, advised me to “go to 1 at the hairpin bends”- my first though was “hell yes, my bladder is full”, but then I realized he was advising me on gear change. 🤦♂️. Your ride is always going to be longer than you expected… harder too sometimes, and the quality of the ride path is going to be constantly changing- smooth asphalt, moon surface, dirt roads, etc- so unless you’re a superhero with balls of steel- change gears, slow down, and let loose when it’s all clear.
So I ticked a line on my “bucket list” and got myself a bike- not just any bike , a royal enfield interceptor 650…. with dreams of the wind running wild though my hair as I do one last solo ride through the crispy atmosphere of Ladakh….. ride one last time through the green winding roads of wayanad… do an “east coast ride” from Trivandrum to Goa and back. Its however been hardly a day since my bike landed and somehow I’m getting a strange feeling I need to water down my “Peter Fonda” sized expectations and lay off investing in that leather jacket as yet. I just realized that when you’re a family guy and there’s a new bike around- everybody magically seems to get altogether forgetful – “dippy can you just ride down to the super market and get me some “pudina”( coriander) and some curd for the Biriyani? I totally forgot that”… “dippy the ironing guy hasn’t picked up the clothes…. I think there’s a shop down the road who should be able to get it done- can you just drop it off please?”… “ can you just turn right- there’s a medical shop- I need to get some paracetamol”, and all my macho dreams seem to be bursting faster than you can say “easy rider”. C’mon all you ladies – as newbie “bikers”, we have some hopes and dreams you know. Sure we got to lose some gut before we qualify as “bikers”, but give us some challenges, some heavy duty stuff. We don’t spend all that money to carry your laundry or buy your grocery- want to frighten the landlord? Lean on our big bikes at the street corner, with a tooth pick precariously positioned on our lips like john travolta in “wild hogs” and glare menacingly at the tweeny boys laying google eyes on your teenage daughter? Bring it on. Till such time though, I think I’ll add a large saddlebag to do these short runs to Kunnil super market for some “idli” batter🤨 hmm, I wonder if they have a sturdy shopping trolley side car accessory at the enfield showroom? 🤔 #wildhog #HARDLYdavidson #interceptor650
Every residential community has one- no not the mandatory swimming pool- but the self-styled “environment warriors”, who seem to light up like a Christmas tree when an obese teenager doesn’t segregate his trash in the play ground and somehow dunks his burger carton and coke can in the same coloured bin. They take the opportunity to give the startled kid a “holier than thou” speech, almost forcing the poor, trembling fellow to pick up the trash and put it in the right bin, while standing there munching on a colourless, shrivelled, organic carrot they grew on their terrace garden.
C’mon the kid has been brought up to not care too much about his health- you think he’s going to be worried about “climate change”?
Anyways “saving the environment” and “climate change” seem to be on everyone’s mind these days. So much so that we even have opportunistic politicians desperate to get onto the bandwagon and into the “mind-space” of the electorate by any means, resorting to posting staged videos of themselves picking plastic waste on lonely beaches.
Firstly we need to understand that not everyone shares the same values or convictions that we do (… and that’s okay!)- however when you have “changing the world” as your FIGHT, it will leave you exhausted and most definitely worked up too. But if changing the world is simply your “WAY OF BEING” it will be effortless.
Remember, we could actually lose the opportunity to drive change by our attitude. As much as you would like to pick up a torch and run around shining your bright light in everyone’s faces thinking we’re so right about everything… just be like a lighthouse, shine your light, and those who are ready to come out of the dark will come to you.
Also “authenticity” as a leader is primary, and when your “audience” reads through the play-acting and the real objective of putting yourself ahead of the cause – you actually water-down the narrative and are doing a disservice to the scientists and real change agents toiling tirelessly to tackle the issue.
Gawd, I can’t remember if I segregated the “take out” dinner foil packaging from last night and put it in the right bin… lemme go run and get it done.
Paul Mc Cartneys “Yesterday” is probably the most done cover song of all time, and the version done by Marvin Gaye is considered by many as the most profound interpretation of the song. Sadly though at the verse where Paul MC Cartney went “ I said something wrong….”, Marvin goes “I *must’ve*_ said something wrong…”. Hmmm, sometimes it’s difficult for us to own up fully even when it’s someone else’s song. 🤷♂️ I have many a time got into sticky situations where I should not have said something, probably a wise crack I thought was funny at that time – but definitely inappropriate and hurt someone’s feeling. It’s only later that I keep tossing and turning the incident in my head, angry at myself for being such a jackass and wondering how to salvage the situation. I’ve realized a good place to start is to acknowledge the infraction and accept full responsibility. Next, It doesn’t need to be an elaborate, finely crafted discourse- even a few sentences, delivered with sincerity, can work miracles not only for the other party but in building our own character. Also if you’re thinking that an incident has warranted an apology, it’s only appropriate that delivering it via a call, or face to face shows you have the right intent to make amends. So however much a text/ whatsapp message may seem okay in this day and age – don’t! And finally timing, I’ve seen a lot of people losing the opportunity to make amends- you see folks just torn from the inside at funerals- sometimes close family, just regretting that they didn’t set things right earlier. Okay now I’ve got to go make a few calls. 😂 … a lot of them Infact. 🤨