Sunday, July 20, 2008

One Night in San Francisco

Statutory Warning: This article contains alcohol, vulgarity and undetermined sexes. You have been warned! Now read dammit!

Thanks to a friend, we had reservations at Absinthe, a nice and posh Southern French and Italian restaurant in downtown San Francisco. The prices did make us catch our breath though. However, the French onion soup was delectable and Porus in a fit of dashing adventurism ordered the Bok Choy as it sounded exotic (Okay, no idea why!).

Mojitos seemed to be the preferred drink of the ladies and though a teetotaler, I threw caution to the wind and ordered one too. My alcoholic pursuits were not to bear fruit as Shaila neatly polished off both her drink and mine and not content with this already significant achievement, we did a fast pull and empty of Pallavi's drink too.

Realizing that the food menu was a little beyond an average person's income, we meandered out of this august French establishment. Well, when you order a miniscule bowl of chick peas and you get charged per chick pea, you know you are over your head.

Our entire evening seemed to be running to a script. We were next asked to go to Sugar, a small bar, a stone's throw from Absinthe. For some reason, I had Shaila's handbag on my shoulder and proceeded to wear her blatantly feminine sunglasses. Word has it that I was a dead ringer for Elton John. But, hey! This is San Francisco! Need I say more?

Sugar turned out be a cozy bar and somehow we garnered the only room in this environment. It did look a bit seedy but most of the ladies were a tad beyond noticing the mundane. Once more, living it up, I decided on a Long Island Iced Tea (LIIT). Mama mia! That sucker hits you like a rock between your eyes!

Random dancing, smoking, drinking ensued and we made merry listening to the atheist (80s?) music. I don't know about most men but I find it incredibly enjoyable to be around sloshed women. And the LIIT was slowly but surely working its magic. Okay, who am I kidding. I was buzzed. As I waited patiently for the bar to stop its lazy spinning, we thought we'll get something to eat. Not sure why, but Sugar is a place which is totally mobile. Everything inside keeps moving in circles. I wonder how the bartenders ever manage to pour their drinks!

Porus, now the man in charge ordered us to go to a Falafel place across the street. As we marched daintily in roughly the direction he had pointed, we realized after about 9 minutes of staring at the restaurant, that it was closed. It's a wonder how people figure this out in a jiffy when sober. Damn the sober people!

Full of the right spirit, we continued to saunter on and entered Marlena's. Bohemian in appearance and with lively music, something seemed odd. More investigation in the inebriated state provided us some succor. The ladies dancing on the little stage were not of the opposite sex. Hammering it home - they were drag queens. Quite nicely dressed I must say. At this point in time, Shaila, already a few notches above the legal limit for being behind a steering wheel, had the brilliant spark. She wanted me to wear the handbag and her glasses.

A man can be piss drunk but when it comes to protecting his manhood, the fuzziness in the surroundings disappear and you suddenly begin to think very sane and rightful thoughts. Essentially, I had no intention of being someone's bitch that night and firmly put my foot down on this proposal. A bit miffed but not beaten by any mean, Shaila marched out and started to call her mother in India. This, while running up and down the streets of San Francisco well past midnight. The remaining members of our ragged party didn't seem to be making any pedal moves so I staggered behind her to ensure she doesn't get into any trouble or worse, get me into trouble.

Some sound practical advice from the mother seemed to activate Shaila further and more rowdiness resulted. Luckily, we found a restaurant still open and bundled everyone inside.

Sudden realization dawned on Porus sometime during the last few events (I was high so can't pinpoint the time) that the last BART train is at 12:15 a.m. How nice!

Anyways, we decided to go to Porus and Yamini's place by a cab. Riding on our good luck, we found a cab with three rows of seats. Unfortunately, the cab driver was a Gujju (I think, but definitely Indian). Unfortunate because of the washerwoman-like lingo emanating from the last row. By now, I don't need to say who. You know who! A choice example was when the walkie talkie spurted out some disembodied voice. The last row had this to offer as a gentle rejoinder "Bhagvaan ke gaand se awaaz aa raha hai".

Gujju bhai's face contorted so much I thought he'd have a seizure. Porus, next to him blissfully slept Guppy Fish like with deep rumbling tones from the under belly. The fun and frolicking continued from the rear woofers with those evergreen numbers from superhit movies like 'Chameli Ki Shaadi' , belted out in surprisingly coordinated megaphonics.

We finally got to our destination without additional excitement and got a good night's sleep.

I say we don't party enough! We need more of these evenings man! Bring it on!

Standard Disclaimer: Ingesting alcohol is amazingly good for your humor and makes the world such a simpler place to live in

Bandwidth Live!

July 11th, 2008

We started a new music group in our company. We go by the name BANDWIDTH and boy was it fun performing live! Not bad for the first time methinks!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Village Dynamics and the Art of Agricultural Management

Another Farm Story! Okay, don't groan. I won't be talking about land development and produce. Well, not this time at least.

Having dug the bore-well and with light pressure from the wife, the construction for the farm hand's quarters has started in earnest. What's missing of course, is the farm hand.

From recommendations, we acquired one resume and the candidate showed up at a neighboring farm which was apparently the interview venue. To aid is in this complicated maneuver, we enlisted the august presence of the local headman's son. An imposing and towering person, one does not want to take undue liberties with him.

The candidate was brought forth by the referrer. Out of respect or some such thing, they both stood behind us to make it challenging for us to talk to them without craning our neck and body at distorted angles. For a while, everyone stood around and no one spoke a word.

A few minutes later, another friend of ours voiced his thoughts in the form of probing out the candidate's name and requesting the wage figures desired. More hemming and hawing and the person (Madhayya) quoted the salary he was making in some god forsaken part of the state. The number seemed unreasonable as there were murmurs in the interview panel and general disagreement.

On some unseen cue, two backers for the farmers' cause appeared out of the blue. Both put across their points very clearly on why a higher salary was warranted. Their arguments, peppered with facts and figures of daily living expenses, the price of gas, rice, rocket fuel etc, while very fascinating, did not make much of an impression on the village leader. Even existing salary structures in the immediate vicinity were treated with quiet disdain.

An interesting dance ensued, with neither party actually expressing a number, but at the same time, I was struck by the headman's sensitivity and tact. At no point did he raise his voice or directly contradict anything the farmers had to say. However, the moment they were out of earshot, he would give us hard statistics on wages and salaries in the area. A very delicate balance indeed. Though a big shot in the area, he was at all times very polite and civil to the farmers, not once disrupting the harmony of the conversation or putting them down in any way.

The fencing continued for a while. This was quite complicated as we didn't want to artificially elevate the market with a salary that was too high. This would have disastrous consequences on all the hiring in that area. So, the parrying went on.

We finally gave in and told Madhayya how much we were willing to pay. A detailed explanation on the total compensation package inclusive of all benefits and bonuses was given. However, Madhayya had been heavily influenced by the two cronies who were the voice of Madhayya for all practical purposes.

The hunt for the farm hand goes on! I'm now learning to work within the boundaries and framework of communication styles and approaches to this hitherto straightforward task.

Nostalgia - That weird feeling of reliving the past in the present

I'm not sure what got into me but last week, I suddenly had the urge to trace my friends from the years gone by. Effective sleuth work on the web helped me discover my class-mate, best friend and confidante for 5 years in Nigeria. 24 years since we parted ways and I was thrilled to reconnect with him. And, it was like we had never lost touch. We just got back into the same groove and the easy relationship we had as kids. Quite amazing actually.

More hunting on social sites got me in touch with an entire contingent of my primary school and senior school buddies. It's a wonderful feeling to get back in touch, see how people have changed physically and otherwise.

All we have is memories now. Cherished ones always. Even the events that caused us much stress and discomfiture are now remembered fondly and for a while we get lost in the history of ourselves and the people that were part of what once was.

A healthy dose of nostalgia is always good to rejuvenate the mind and body. I highly recommend it!

A wedding in Chennai

It's been a while since we had a massive wedding on the wife's side of the family. This one was especially important as it was the...