Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quitting 88mm a 100 times

"Its easy to quit smoking. I've done it a 100 times"

Not only Mark Twain, a million other smokers would say the same thing Im sure. I was a quite a smoker in my college days and I decided that one day when I'm able to quit the habit completely, I will boldly blog about it. Well here I am.(With some help from famous smokers who managed to give amazing quotes)

"It would be a service to mankind if the pills were available in slot machines and the cigarettes were placed on prescription"

I'd have vouched for this anytime during my smoking days. A dozen on any normal day with an extra 5 on exam days. Or another dozen extra if the day involved alcohol.

"Alcohol and cigarettes are like the two hands that clap. You need both to give the effect"

Wondering if this quote sucks?! Well yeah I wrote it thats why.

In fact during exam days, there used to be so much demand for fags(=cigs and not gays).
It used to be the indispenable entity for us to stay awake and study the whole night. When fags got over, the alternate solution were beedis. You get 10 beedis for the price of 1 cigarette.

And when everything got over, the one guy who had cigarettes would get worshipped like God. Suddenly out of the blue, he would become everybody's best friend in hostel. Of course we had rules.

1) Once a smoker has helped you, you're forever indebted to him. Gratitude can be shown but is allowed only in the form of fags. He has the right to come knocking on your doors anyday at any hour.

2)We all comply to 4 D and S. It means you take 4 drags and spin the fag to the next guy in the circle. When any of the greedy morons takes an extra drag(puff), he is penalized in the next round.

3)Lenin rule:It states that a smart smoker is one who smokes 15 cigarettes in a day having bought only 4.

(Origin: We had this smartass called Lenin(50p) who bought 4 cigarettes a day. He uses the first one early in the morning and the remaining 3, late night. All the remaining fags, he smoked by acquired friendships, giving company to the owner of the fag. So when the hostel is devoid of fags, Lenin used the buffer 3 in the most clandestine fashion.)

4)Nobody gets to "go dutch" with cigarettes. One guy buys and all smoke. Anybody who buys one fag and asks the remaining to buy their own gets disowned by the community :)

5)Quitting is prohibited. Talk about peer pressure. Emotional blackmail would make you do the rebound. Common pathetic dialogs include

5)a)Machaan, we all started smoking together and how can you do this to me?

5)b)No use quitting in college life.Finish college and we'll all quit. Lol this is what they said during my training days too. And then I joined work where fags are considered the best stress busters)

5)c)Ok fine I know you quit, you dont have to smoke. Just come with us and give company. (No smoker will ever prefer passive smoking! And it starts all over again)

Next ones are the best. All engineering students will suddenly get MBBS gyaan.

5)d)We all have already started smoking na? Even when we quit now, it makes no sense because all our nerve endings are gone already.

5)e) Cancer is always hereditary machaaan so dont worry we all will never get cancer. This would be the hope giving statement for any engineer ;)

And smoking is not all you do with a ciggy. Other stunts you could do:

1)Lighting up diwali crackers with the fag in your mouth.

2)Smoke rings. I reached up to 10 rings. There were blokes who did 200.

3)Empty the nicotine inside and fill it up with better stuff. For this you need only fag and you're done for the next 2 days.

4)Use the ash to mix it with the birthday bath to completely ruin the supposedly "happy" guy who has had his birthday.

A smoker would go to any extent to get his cigarette when he needs it. Some situations where I (now) feel embarrassed about:

1)I waited till 9 pm to get my TCS results. Losing patience I went out to smoke and they announced my name on the first 5 at 9:05 pm. Whole audience was clapping for the loser smoking outside campus.

2)In Singapore, fags were bloody costly. So I smoked one for sometime, extinguished it halfway and used the next half for a "rainy day".

3)Me and my friend missed a train by a whisker because we went to buy fags for the journey.

4)Journeys always involved 3 or 4 of us smoking inside the loos. A fifth guy(non-smoker) always kept guard and warned us if the TTE came!

There are many others, like my friend managing to smuggle a ciggy in Thirumala where smoking is banned, but I prefer not to degrade myself or my friends anymore.

All said and done, smoking cigarettes is the most dangerous thing for anyone. I have quit smoking after a few incidents that touched me deeply. I realized it aint fun anymore. I'm definitely gonna blog about it here. (The word "here" would get converted into a link soon.Keep checking).

Monday, June 16, 2008

Rocking the cradle - then pinching the baby!

Bye-bye (name tweaked: a software company I worked for before, I joined Google) has a brilliant world class training facility in Trivandrum, Kerala. When a bunch of 500 students got recruited in VIT into Bye-bye, they had no idea the training was going to be so much fun. I was part of that 500 and August 1st 2007 was my first day at training.

Bye-bye freaked us all out on the first day of training. Here are some of the Bye-bye rules:

1) 9 am sharp and everyone needs to be in class on time. Else your rebuked upon badly. Yeah you have school, then bindaas college life and again back to school with Bye-bye.

2) You need to look extremely professional. That includes:

a) Wearing formals top to bottom.
b)Wearing your top most button was compulsory
c)Tie which must cover that button mentioned above.
d)You need to wear socks that match on both legs.

Im not kidding but they have periodic checks and guys are asked to lift their pants up so they can confirm you are wearing the right pair of socks.

So we are divided into batches and if one guy fails the "professionalism" check, negative points are awarded for that batch.

Once, such a check was done and the whole audience consisting of students from many batches were in splits!! Suddenly a guy from my batch walked in late and the "quality checkers" asked him which batch he was from and we were all signalling him to tell the wrong batch. This costs us a few points too LOL.

The final results are announced end of the week and the paper is posted on the notice boards!! People throng the notice board and have a laugh taking the case of people who committed crimes on different categories like

"Dint wear tie properly"

"Sleeves folded"

"Wrong socks"

"Using ipod in class"

and many more!!

3)Attendance on all days is compulsory. Unless your friggin sick they dont entertain leaves. All the 50 days are to be attended.

4)ID cards!! Having one is just not enough. You have to swipe it every time you enter or leave the building. Even if you find the door open you have to swipe it too. Else you become a tailgater.


Inspite of all this, the training was so much fun. It was our second college with weekend trips to places around God's own country and it was the first time we had a Co-Ed dormitory ;)
I guess Bye-bye doesnt recruit a lot of babes so it aint a great celebration really.

Somehow, girls and guys always had something to study in the hostel since that was the only excuse they can use to "talk" to each other till 12 am or more than that. Im sure that in the other guys- only hostels, people slept off by 10 pm ;)

Rumour has it that many people find their life partners @ training. Well I sure know one couple for sure who would chuckle reading this post!!


Few things I remember from the training days:

B6 (6 in malayalam is pronounced "aaru" so B plus "aaru" gives us baaru which means BAR)

B6 is a blessed place for corporates as we had a discount for Bye-bye employees. After a tough day at work, we all used to gather there, drink and then head to the Executive Hostel.

Coffee Beans

This restaurant is on top of the same hill which houses our training centre. The view is simply awesome. Coffee and sutta during lunch breaks was the best timepass.

Fire!!!

All training batches have a 30 minute session on how to react in case a fire opens up in any of the Bye-Bye facilities. They talked about how our business must continue and we must pick up critical hardware before vacating.

So one day, a Mr.Colonel, the chief security gave a talk and he said 2 minutes is the time before which all humans and equipment should be out of the building.

Some days later when our classes were going on the alarm went on buzzing. The building we were in was a 3 storyed one. We all came out and started wondering if fire really broke out.

Suddenly 3 people from the ground floor, carrying a huuuuuuuge water pipe started spraying water on all the 3 floors. Amused by this incident, a few of them got wet in that water and others assumed that it was a real fire and ran out of the building, dodging the spray. As for me, I wasnt sure whether it was a real fire or another fire drill. SO it took around 2 1/2 minutes to vacate.

Icing on the cake though, was when Colonel was watching people hurry out of the building and a few dumasses were showing their ID cards on the system before vacating.

Colonel had a session after this and took the case of these people asking if their attendance was more important than their lives. LOL.

Training finally turned out to be great fun and we later realized that was Bye-bye's way of welcoming people just before they get screwed at work place.

Apparently the company asks for options as to where you wanna work and assigns places just where you dont wanna work. Bongs ended up in Chennai and Tams ended up in Mumbai. Thats good in a way but why ask for options at all?

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So fun stopped literally the day training got over. Then, it was anything but fun.

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1)3 days are given for people to settle in their new locations.

2)Most of us realize we're on bench! Which means you can sit at home and salary will come knocking at our doorsteps. They call it resource pooling though.

3)My friend in Delhi was in Bye-bye s payroll even after he left the company and joined a BPO in Chennai! Thats how well they know their employees

4)Projects are forced upon people. People who did mechanical engineering get to design websites and computer science blokes work on excel sheets adding two rows and three columns. Argh! Ask me about it!!

5)In the end, you feel like going back to training :)

Read more here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mujjjae indhee nayee maloom

Yeah I'm one of those hopeless tam guys who cant speak hindi for nuts. Many of my colleagues still wonder how people in India wouldnt know Hindi. Well I only request them to travel down south. I'm sure there are many in Tamil Nadu who think Tamil is their national language :p.

Honesty first. Yes, Hindi was not encouraged and made compulsory in schools across Tamil Nadu and many failed to make it a point to learn when they could. I guess I've passed that age now and I find myself lingo challenged in the city of Hyderabad.

So every time someone talks to me in Hindi, I shoot the one statement I can speak fluently and deliver it neat:

"Mujhe hindi nahin maalum angraezee mein baat karo"

The real problem is when I talk to auto guys, barbers, shopkeepers. So in these situations, a passerby would think that either me or the shopkeeper is deaf and dumb. I try to interact with all sorts of hand signals.

1) Thumbs up and rocking up and down signifies "how much for the auto ride?"

2)Using two fingers in the shape of scissors and then keeping the thumb and two fingers parallel to it signifies "short haircut" to the barber. No wonder my hairstyle sucks ever since I left Chennai :(

People who go to hindi movies along with me have a tough time concentrating on the movie cuz I keep bugging them for the translation. In Chennai I used to watch thamizh and english movies only. Always felt that a North Indian girlfriend would ve been good to help my cause but i realized she would've dumped me the first time I took her to the movies.

Thamizh movies have always portrayed tams as hindi challenged blokes. The most famous one was an old Bhagyaraj movie where the hero tries to learn Hindi from an old man just to gain entry into his house and hit on his beautiful grand-daughter.

The old man says "Ek gaon main ek kisaan raha tha thaaa"

Hero says"Ek Gaon main ek kisaan ragu thatha"

Old man stresses "Raha tha thaaaaaaaa"

Hero: " Raggu thathaaaaaaa"

Another famous scene is a comedian fooling a girl saying he knows hindi and takes her into the fields, hoping for some romance. The girl asks him "how to say 'come here' in Hindi?"

Comedian: "idhar aaoooooooooo"

The impressed girl then asks him "how do you say 'go there' in Hindi"?
(pointing her finger to a tree )

Comedian thinks for a while, walks a few metres away from the girl, reaches the tree, turns back and says "idhar aaoooooooo"!!!

Personally, I regret not knowing Hindi and Im making a genuine effort to learn the language. Im the blacksheep of my family. Everybody speaks hindi well though my sister proved to us all that after she hit the USA she lost touch on hindi.

My cousin married a Gujju and during the wedding at Surat, a Gujarathi lady was searching for the bride and my cousin. Apparently that woman knew only Gujarathi and little hindi. She mentioned to my sister "kahan something dulha aur dulhan...woh dhono thoda something baat karne chahiye"

My sister came running and asked if these Gujjus had awesome customs during weddings. She thought that "dulha" has to take bath with "dulhan" then, and they were missing. LOL.
We were in splits then and I had some consolation that I wasnt the only one in the family ;)

Someday in my life, Im sure I will learn hindi. I havent given up as yet. But till then I'll have to manage with this hand signs "talent" and survive in Hyderabad. When I hit Chennai I dont have to worry. In fact even if it is Hindi I know way too much compared to the common junta. And after all, "अन्धों में काना राजा " ;)

(Translation for all you hindi challenged blokes(LOL): Among a set of blind people, the one-eyed guy is the king)

Monday, June 2, 2008

G for Goa.G for Gunny.G for Ghost

Disclaimer: Im really bad at explaining horror stuff and getting people scared but I'm blogging anyway simply because of 1 reason: This happened for real. And it is easy to explain what happened in reality.

[Weak hearts-you can stop reading NOW].

I had been to Goa on December 2006, just a week before I had to leave for Singapore to do my project. Goa in two words: beach and alcohol. Nothing else mattered to me.

An occasional boozer converts into a drunkard when he hits Goa. So what I converted into probably cannot be categorized.

My friends and I used to wake up, reach out for a bottle of Royal Challenge or Blue Riband. Once the bottle is downed we got up from the bed and brushed our teeth!!!

So one day, we finished all our adventures by 12 30 am. By then we had been TOTALLY sloshed. A few Kingfishers on the beach throughout the morning, fish and Imperial Blue in the afternoon. Then hit the beach again with some Lime Juice in hand. Evening, we took our vehicles(I hate cars so I rented out a bike and the remaining blokes rented a car) and roamed one half of Goa.

There we played all watersports, had another round of alcohol(whats the difference you may ask? Well this time I had it with hookah ;)

Finally had a great dinner and we were all sloshed(except the guy who can drive the car). We started at 12 30 am and had to travel a looooong distance to reach our hotel(Calangute). The car chaps obviously sped ahead and it was only me and Kumar on the bike travelling at 90 to 100 Kmph on the highway.

This was how the roads looked like when we were riding:







I realized Kumar was dozing off and just to keep him occupied, I showed him how the highway would look like if i switched off my headlights.

This was how it looked like:


You can try lime, you can try puking or any other way to reduce the effect of alcohol, but trust me this one works like a charm. All the booze we had suddenly seemed to have disappeared. This one scared the daylights(damn where were they?) out of us. We just wanted to reach our guest house as soon as possible(and then probably try to start all over and get high again ;).

Hoping that my headlights wouldnt goof up, I sped again with high-beam on ! Kumar had nearly dozed off and he woke up with a thud thanks to my CBZ which started wobbling now. I immediately stopped and decelerated while the bike swerved automatically towards the edge of the road and I killed the engine immediately.

Please see the picture above again! Do you see 2 people there?!! Exactly, that exactly how it was when the headlights went off again! I could not really find Kumar. After a few seconds I vaguely saw that I have another person on that dreadful road beside me. Apparently, the back tyre had got punctured.

Kumar and I freaked out completely and were wondering what to do. We were talking to each other and I heard a voice.It did not sound like Kumar.

[Right now when Im just blogging about it Im seeing one zillion goosebumps on my hands and Im not kidding]

Kumar heard it too and he knew it wasnt me. He caught the bike and clung on to it. Before I tried to do the same thing, I heard the voice calling me.

"aaeeeeee inge vaaaa"

Translates to : aeeee come here.

Common sense told me I could be dreaming cuz I was in Goa and there was no way someone was talking to me in Tamizh. (Well yeah common sense aint so common. aaaaaah forget that now)

I was fucking scared and felt a chill go down my spine. By now, Kumar was shouting(he still was a bit high, poor thing). He yelled in thamizh "Who is it, where are you, who is it, where are you".

This freaked me out all the more. Imagine drowning with someone who doesnt know how to swim. Aint that totally hopeless? Thats exactly how I felt when I realized Kumar was more scared than me.

"Inge vaa..seekram vaaa onnum panna maattaen"

Translation: " Come here fast, I wont do anything"

The voice was more commanding and coarse and I wished I never came to Goa or atleast not taken a bike ride.

I lost hope on Kumar, left him where he was most comfortable-the bike and I turned back towards the direction from where the voice came.

I gathered some courage and inched towards the road. I saw nothing but I heard the voice again.
Right then, I was sure as dead it wasnt anthing physical but a bloody ghost because I saw nothing but heard voices.

"Naa setthu 10 varsham aachu , onnum panna mattaen inge vaaaaa"

Translation:" Im dead for the last 10 years, I wouldnt harm you"

WTF??? you expect someone to believe your harmless when you claim your dead already?

I wanted to turn back and run to the bike but was scared to do that also for reasons I still dont know.

I was slowly walking backwards and eyeing the highway like an eagle. I noticed there was nothing but a ...er..there was a gunny sack. Just a plain brown gunny sack.

Few seconds later the voice started again

"Oaadadhe inge vaa onnum panna mattaen"

Translation: " Dont run come here, I wont do anything"

I stopped right there and focussed. The voice came from the gunny bag lying on the road. Yes a fucking gunny bag! I did some imaginary geometry with my hands and all i could figure out was that only a dog could fit inside that gunny bag. I dont know how to explain that feeling, but you know, you are goddamned curious even when you know you could die of fear.

Going further towards the bag, the voice was louder and louder. It went like "come here fast", " I wont kill you cuz im dead already" "fast fast" and whats worse, it said "help me help me" when i reached the sack.

All those horror movie scenes I watched from childhood went reeling in front of my head. Curiousity however got the better of me and I bent down to look at the gunny bag.(Kumar was now curious too.Well why wouldnt he be? After all it was me who was nearer to the ghost)

I did not speak anything. Was waiting for something to happen. A sudden movement inside the gunny sack made me jerk and of course scream. I was about to run backwards as I saw a human figure coming out of the bag. I got even more scared and wished it was rather a ghost.

Having run a couple of metres backwards, I noticed the man was completely out of the gunny sack and I scanned him. He had no legs at all and his body stopped right at his tummy.

Phew! Me and Kumar were assured that we were gonna live! First question I shot was:

Me(in thamizh):Who are you?
Sackwaala: My name is srinivas
Me: Why the hell did you say you were dead? it freaked us out.
Srinivas: Because I have no legs and I had an accident before 10 years. After that I was always dead.

Really felt bad for that man. We pulled him towards the edge of the road and asked him not to sleep on the highway. Wondered if my friends who went by car ever noticed the gunny bag.

We parked the bike in a nearby place and Srinivas said he would take care of it. Friends came rushing in the car and 7 of us adjusted in the zen and got back to the hotel.

Next day morning, we all got back to the place and saw Srinivas inside the same sack. Gave the bike for repair and got Srinivas a tea.

He explained that he was a thamizh guy who came to Goa 2 decades back and worked as a tourist guide.10 years earlier a lorry had run over him and he had no money left to go back home or get himself operated. He knew Goa in and out and he loved travelling. He had been to many tourist places across India and that was why he considered himself completely dead as he couldnt move. He required help even for moving a few metres ahead.

His entire life was inside that gunny sack. Eating, sleeping, talking, loo and everything within that tiny house.

Now as Im ending the story, the goosebumps are all gone. Just a tiny droplet of tear peeping from my eye. I never thought I would actually feel sorry for any man who scared the shit out of me like that.

Next time any of you guys are hitting Goa, make sure you watch out for a gunny bag on the highway. And dont get scared! Just say "Hai Srinivas we know you"....