Sunday, January 16, 2011

Back to reality

Almost feel like a child going to school for the first time. Got some rare time off between jobs (over a month actually) and now there’re withdrawal symptoms as I begin my new job tomorrow. Wondering if it’s really worth it to have a regular 9-6 job. I mean, the money is good and all that but the heart just doesn’t seem to be in this forced regularity and expected monotony. People ask me if I got bored not working but frankly it was fine. Lots of time spent with the kids, running, cycling, jogging, reading – the days went by just fine. The wife made sure I kept busy with tons of errands which were all duly completed and did some more just to over-achieve Smile !

At this age, you are supposed to have it all figured out and know exactly what you want from professional life, but I don’t. I know what I don’t want to do but have no clue what I really want to do. Kinda scary huh? Yeah, especially for the better half who is acutely aware of every mood swing and emotion I go through.

I know I want to write something substantial and do so with more passion and discipline but that big idea just isn’t coming to me. It will, one day. Until then, it’s back to the rat race giving it my all. Just wish I had something figured out during the break that I could for the rest of my life! Oh well

Note: Wrote this deliberately in a grey font as that’s the color I feel I’m in right now. Cool huh?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The enigma of Nagaraj Rao–A humble tribute

On a warm summer’s evenin’ on a train bound for Mysore, I met up with the bookseller…

Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s a rip off from the Kenny Rogers song ‘The Gambler’. An account of the magical words/translations of the master needs to start where it all began. The suspense needs to build, the irrelevance unclear and the punch line obscure.

My nephew, being boredom disposed hailed a passing travelling salesman in a train and acquired the now historic manuscript known as ‘Great Jokes’. Little did he or anyone else in our family fathom the powerful and everlasting influence this deceptive book would have on us.

‘The Book’ and the contents are now part of lore and fantasy and while I will not delve in the actual writing, I will make an honest attempt to describe ‘Great Jokes’ to the best of my ability. I have delayed so long on the writing of this piece solely due to the inability to grasp the full depth of the master’s words. Like the proverbial onion, the layers never end. A doctoral thesis is probably the only way to analyze the Sistine Chapel of Humor.

There about 280+ jokes in all. The opening number sets the tone for the remaining masterpieces with a grand finale that ends with ‘Do it before my husband comes’. In terms of comprehensiveness, no genre or discipline is left untouched. Topics cover sports, psychology, horror, sleaze, politics, international, religion, drama, theatre, arts, music education and pretty much anything else you can think of.

The author takes creative and utmost liberties with punctuations. Commas, periods, parentheses, upper and lower case alphabets, quotation marks pretty much appear in the most unexpected of places with the parentheses affecting your sanity the most. Words in braces could appear on either side of the word requiring more clarification but in most cases, either the word in braces is the same or has no bearing on the original word. On a few occasions, both the words inside and outside the braces are not in English so a pure Anglophile  is left confounded as is everyone else. Some gems include a joke with this title  - “Gunda”  (““Gunda””) and one with the title – Gunda (“Able Gundas”).

Most jokes contain names and details which are completely irrelevant to the actual ‘joke’. A few examples here provide some insight – Chinkurli Sheenappa, Kempegowda, Hanumi are just some of the stars that speckle this fine book. The professions of the characters also leave you dumbfounded. Srinvas Rao is a gazetted officer and multiple readings still do not reveal the relevance of his profession.

Of course, there are those jokes where details would have been good but are marked by their complete absence. The abrupt endings and punch lines of the jokes are undoubtedly designed to whet the readers’ appetites as well as providing complete freedom to draw your own conclusion on the humor.

One of the biggest challenges you will encounter when attacking the mother lode of humor is connecting the title of the joke to the actual joke. I can vouch for the fact that many including yours truly have attempted and failed.

The rather abrupt one word sentences are also imposing barriers in comprehension. The sometimes rather sleazy phrases are now part of our family’s everyday vocabulary. While the impact of these phrases cannot be felt outside the jokes, here are a few – On seeing a good looking woman, a man’s reaction is described thus – ‘Mouth watered'. Or this classic – ‘She looked at him with one and a half eye’. Or still better – ‘He made a castor oil face’ and the creative ‘she made an asafoetida face’. Irresistible and spine tingling.

The ‘horror’ section is ably addressed by a lengthy narrative where the ‘doors of the windows kept opening and shutting’.  Liberties have also been taken with spellings ‘She did shought out loudly’ is one such diamond that readily comes to mind.

In a few jokes, the writer invites reader interaction and often provides his own commentary on the events unfolding. In one where he talks about the value of education, he enquires and rhetorically states ‘In olden days, no value for education. But how about now?’. This kind of interactive dialog between the author and reader has so far remained untapped.

At other times, he ensures that he has our undivided attention by simply asking a ‘how’ or a ‘what’ in the middle of a joke and consistently at a totally unexpected juncture. A few classics have jokes where the title is longer than the actual joke. I mean, really! Who else can do that???

I will stop here as I don’t want to spoil it for you and also to give you the opportunity to invest in and get engrossed with the surreal world of Nagaraj Rao. However, I’ll leave you with some titles that you absolutely must not miss. ‘Raised Arrow Cannot be Downed’, ‘When Observed a Handsome Girl’, ‘In Thotadappa Choultry’, the ‘Beechi Told’ series and the ‘Gunda’ series.

Now for some closing words…

(Special writer commentary): Unfortunately, I know of only five copies in circulation and by a twist of fate, all these five copies reside with members of my family. I still hold the Gold Copy which has now been sent for binding since it’s coming apart due to constant use and extensive research. In fact, my nephew had suggested sending the book for binding with a police escort and an armored truck to prevent fraudulent copying, plagiarism or even theft. However, I have been assured that the copy is safe and the book is due back in mint condition tomorrow. I have a good mind to send a copy to the Library of Congress where I know future generations can imbibe the nectar and partake the intense cistern of knowledge that I’m sure is there somewhere in the book. An expedition is in the works to trace the author through the publisher in Balepet which will be prove to be the nadir of our achievements to unravel the powerful works of Nagaraj Rao. (End special writer commentary)

Blog writer’s note: Nagaraj Rao ‘Great Jokes’ is not for the faint of heart or for the faint of humor. Dollops of patience and perseverance are required and of course lots of time. Best handled as a group (of like minded individuals) activity with all members suitably inebriated for the full and lasting effect. And do remember, a raised arrow cannot be downed…


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Passage of time

Another year rolls by as I plod on into my 40s. Wondering what I should be doing the remaining years till the big Five O. Still don’t feel it. Maybe it will hit sometime soon? Until then….enjoying life as it comes and living it to the fullest. Nothing to complain about, everything is how it should be. Wonderful kids, amazing partner, can’t ask for more. Time to do something useful? Smile

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Tales of Beedu the Bard

A gross injustice would be done if premium blog space is not dedicated to the last 6 months I have been under the tutelage of the master sports trainer.  For that, I will need to take you back now to early July ‘10 when I first encountered the enigmatic and energetic person that is Beedu.

My cousin discovered that a person at Kanteerava stadium in Bangalore provides physical training for athletes, sports people and also the supremely unfit. No points for guessing where I fall.

The schedule was for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. The first day was brutally torturous. First we were made to run 10 laps around the running track. We followed it up with intense stretching, jumping, sand-pit jumping and medicine ball throwing. Not very far from the training G.I. Jane had to go through. I could barely walk after that day.

In time I did get used to the physical activity, even getting there as early as 5 a.m. to do some extra running but to talk about the various physical activities is not the intent of this piece.

Beedu is a short individual with a healthy pot belly, probably in his late 50s or early 60s, hard to tell. No amount of accomplishment is good enough for him. We constantly get compared to teenage athletes, tennis players and cricketers who are able to twist and turn their bodies at unbelievable angles. When we do hurdles, he explains the correct way to leap over the hurdles in this fashion – ‘Don’t go over like a donkey, do it like a dog peeing’. Who can resist this kind of encouragement! When we don’t show up on the regularly scheduled days, he asks us if we did some running instead. When the response is not affirmative, his refrain is ‘Just like you brush your teeth every day, you need to exercise regularly too’. Often, he stops all activities to launch into one of his lecture sessions (theory portion apparently). His English is quite atrocious which he readily accepts but it does make for hilarious narrations. At times, when we are unable to bend our unwilling bodies in certain contortions (incidentally he can do every single exercise that he makes us do!), he eggs us on with these encouraging words – ‘When you don’t get shit, don’t you keep trying till you get it? Well, keep trying the same way now’. There’s really not much you can do or say after that, is there?

His motivation technique is out of the world. I once heard him tell a gentleman in his 40s – ‘Start running with that old man. You can’t run with the other young man anyway’. During the sprint, when a hapless kid ran with his palms outstretched and facing downwards – ‘Close your fists and run I say. You are not Usain Bolt to cut the air and run’.

Since I am one of the first ones to the stadium, I often get bonus lectures for free. Topics range from food & nutrition, health, medicine, social & personal relations and of course some special anecdotes from his education in Germany which is he is justifiably very proud of.

The regimen continues this year and if there are new gems that Beedu comes up with, I will make sure to provide updates. Highly recommended for the unfit and fit alike. It’s the well rounded training and education which makes all the difference. After all, we try and try when the shit doesn’t come out, don’t we?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Off Writing and Blogging

A little disappointed with myself in 2010. Wrote very little, didn’t run enough and gained some weight Sad smile. Hoping to do a lot more writing, blogging and running and gonna do my darnest to lose some weight.

A few things to look forward to this year. New job starting in a few weeks, Auroville half-marathon, hopefully moving into our own home, hopefully getting a bike and the 25th year high-school reunion in May!

There will be a lot more restaurant reviews this year which kind of slowed down again last year mainly due to laziness though the eating didn’t really slow down. Really looking to write something noteworthy this year and get cracking on music and yoga.

No new year resolutions though; just a process of commitment to various things I want to do from now on and for as long as possible. Let’s see how things go and do a review at year end. Smile

And it’s a wrap

2010 ended well with a road trip to Waynad. Some last minute intense planning and swinging into action saw us in Fringe Ford in the hills.  What’s really cool about this place is that it’s in the middle of the jungle and there are only 4 rooms for guests. Also, other than the establishment, no human civilization is available as far as the eye can see.  The last 10 km climb in the hills is a steep and narrow ascent with one side of the road falling off into the valley below. Quite breath taking actually!

Food was a bonanza as it was completely home cooked (unlike resort/hotel cooking) and the two ladies did a remarkable job with the simple, yet delicious fare catering to the taste buds of the grass eaters and meat eaters alike.

Our jungle guide Shaji was one helluva of a guy. Despite being well off and with decent education, he prefers to stay at Fringe Ford and has even given up eating meat due to his love for the flora and fauna. He regaled us with tales of the wild and supernatural though insisting that he doesn’t believe in ghosts at the end of each terrifying narration. We learnt of specific way to scare off tigers, bears, wild dogs, snakes, elephants though I can’t recollect what needs to be done for which animal. I do vaguely remember that we are supposed to shout and advance a few steps if we are destined to come face to face with a tiger. Hmm…quite an interesting proposition that. Anyway, he did have the uncanny knack of figuring out when animals showed up near our rooms, even waking us up at 5 a.m. one morning to see elephants which were grazing right next to us.

The first morning was a 4 km hike in the jungle to a waterfall.  The three little girls in our group ensured that no animal over 100 gms ever came within viewing or hearing distance from us. However, we did see the fast disappearing hind side of a couple of elephants.  Being early morning,  Shaji showed us various outputs of elephants and leopards, which disconcertingly looked fairly fresh and healthy.

The waterfall itself was quite amazing. At least 60 feet in height, the water was crystal clear and tasted wonderful. The highlight of our journey was the leech fest that occurred at our feet. Luckily, Shajy had provided us leech-resistant socks but the speed at which these suckers latched on to us was quite amazing. The maid who was with us actually killed a majority of them with her screeching and screaming and the rest were handled by a generous dose of salt on our socks and shoes.

The second day was a shorter hike of about a kilometer to a stream and a smaller waterfall where yours truly actually succumbed to the temptation of bathing in the wild.

A great and relaxed trip overall with a bonfire every night and a warm glass of milk for the two male adults (the kids refused to drink any) before bed time. Would love to go back very soon.

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...