Cellular slaves


I browsed through the images at Unsplash.com – a super awesome site for natural unprocessed images of life… Of people, rolling hills, pretty clouds, winding rivers, yada yada.
And then I hit the jackpot with this image.

See the calmly building clouds? The perfect lighting provided by the sun so perfectly obscured by those clouds? The water body at the head of the image depicting the power play between the clouds and the sun? Probably not – because your focus was inexplicably shifted to the phone.

Can you believe this person (whoever it was) actually preferred to enjoy nature through the screen of his phone and not… Naturally?! What’s worse… I completely lost track of the serene sight in the image and was left fuming at the person’s stupidity in the face of such beauty.

Took me back to a few weeks ago when someone shared this image with me.

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So true how we’ve become addicted to our phones for everything… From phone numbers to birthdays and fitness routines to emails. I remember a time when (not very long ago) I was given a phone for a few hours each day and that too because it seemed to be the most efficient way to get a hold of me as I made my way through college life. Today I hear of people leaving home without their wallet… But never without their phones.

The smart phones we invented to free up our time have made us lose more time than we can account for. Beyonce asked (and then declared) that girls run the world… sorry babe, I think its these palm-sized bots.

Damn. Skynet isn’t far away.

-posted using WordPress for mobile-

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My Preciousssss


I own a little silver ring that I picked up at a thrift store when I was a teenager (which is so far back that I’m surprised the ring is that old!!). It’s silver and I bought it in India, which is to say there’s (almost) a fixed rate for it. My mom and I did some killer bargaining and brought the guy down a few bucks (I’m not even sure we made up for the cab fare to get to the store, but, as all Indians will agree, a bargain is a bargain no matter how much you save). I also bought a small silver necklace from him (but we didn’t get as good a bargain on it). Mind you, these events occurred many many years ago – but I’m still upset that we didn’t get a good deal on the necklace (not that I minded… I was 14 or 15; at that age my parents paid for every darn thing I wanted to own and I had no balance sheet of my own to bother with!!).

The teenage-me debated getting some elvish inscription on the inside of the ring (after all, it was the year Lord of the Rings had come out and inscriptions on rings sounded oh-so-cool). But then I realised that, as proficient as the fellow may have been, there was no way he was Elven-educated. So I let the engraving me, picked up the ring & necklace and traipsed out the store.

I remember wearing that ring to school (and college and university thereafter) like my life depended on it. Like somehow my life force was tied to the existence of that ring and that it’s sole purpose was to hang around my neck and protect me. Many of my more fashionable friends picked up necklaces with more stylish motifs (yin/yang, dog tags and even one leaf that I remember), but I stayed loyal to my ring. I added an odd assortment of pendants through my teenage years (a key, an anchor, even a crucifix!), but that silver blob of twisted metal remained on me through many of my years. I thought it gave my rebellious soul some character… and I steadfastly refused to part with it.

Today I work in an organisation where even the ‘bling’ is conservative. Muted gold ornaments and polished matte platinum accessories share office space with pastel shades and soft bobs. I let go of (most of) my wild uncouth wavy hair and now sport a (sort of) conservative pixie cut (my hair are still wavy, but that’s a topic for another post in itself). My stylish black t-shirts and faded jeans have made way for cuffed shirts and smartly-pressed trousers. My custom converse sneakers have been phased out and sleek black office shoes adorn my feet.

But my precious. Joins me at work every day.

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My precioussss

3 things my city police does so well that I sometimes faint


… from laughing out loud.

As I walk/ride around this gem of a city called Mumbai, I am often treated to sights that… frankly have me on the floor rolling in laughter. Not surprisingly, many of them are courtesy of our super vigilant police force. Don’t get me wrong – I completely respect the effort the force puts in to keep our city safe every now and again… But I think sometimes they take a break and leave us in peels of laughter.
These are 3 things I’ve seen around the city that baffle me to the point of stomach cramps

1. Incorrectly placed signage

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(If you can’t read/understand Marathi, here’s the translation:
Mumbai Police
Matunga Police Station (pertains to the locality where I nabbed this image)
Stop.)

Exhibit A is this beautifully constructed and exquisitely painted sign asking a vehicle to stop. Problem is… it is placed right behind an electricity junction box so that the only person who sees it is an unsuspecting pedestrian who maintains a ridiculous blog.
I took the cops seriously and stopped.
😀

2. Incorrectly positioned checkpoints
There is a faux checkpoint (because it is temporary construction and not cemented/bolted down) not far from where I work that I am forced to navigate every day. What makes this the most incorrectly placed checkpoint in the history of checkpoints (other than Checkpoint Charlie) is
a. It seems to serve no purpose since the cops don’t really frisk/ scan anything or anyone.
b. It is so strategically placed that it blocks 1 lane of a 2 lane approach road to a business district.
c. Sometimes it isn’t even manned!

So basically… It’s a blockade in the wrong place and (during peak office traffic) at the wrong time. While on foot once, I asked a cop what the checkpoint was for. He answered, “Sahab bole laga ke gaadi ka checking karo, hum laga diye”. (Translation: My boss asked me to put it up and check vehicles, so we put it up). It still didn’t answer my question, but his answer was so sincere that I left him to his fate. And the traffic to its own.

P. S. Most days I pass by the checkpoint with a mix of laughter and anger, so I’ve never been able to steady a shot of the place. But I promise to make an honest attempt of sharing this most spectacular checkpoint for y’alls amusement.

3. Confusing parking/tow zones
I’ll start by accepting that I’m not quite sure who’s responsible for updating the signs informing people about parking zones… But since you have to get to the cops to get it ‘untowed’ I’d say the buck stops with them. I know the signs are put up by the traffic police… But I’m sort of unclear on whether it’s their job to update it or that of the municipality folks.
I am proud to state that my city is home to the most complicated parking zone signs ever seen (by me or you or any extra terrestrial creature). Exhibits B and C below explain how a particular side of the road is a no-parking zone on even (or odd) days. Even. Days. What’s next… quizzing me about parking on prime days??! Or Fibonacci days?! Or god forbid Perfect days?!

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And I wonder how would you really enforce it…? Would you drive around as 12:01 am on the morning of the 3rd to tow away cars? And do you really expect me to set an alarm for 12:01 am every other day to re-park my car??! I don’t even see dog owners being as punctual!! At this rate I would need to invest in a smart car just to tell me which side of the road to park on (and smartly park itself on the other side at midnight).

P. S. I own a two-wheel one-gear bicycle. It has never been towed on odd or even days.

With a promise to bring you more earth-shattering news from the financial capital of India… This is me signing off.

Encouraging Thunder


It was super cool of Colette to nominate me (yes me!!) for the ‘Encouraging Thunder’ award. You can read her post here.

The rules are very simple:

  • The nominee posts the Award on their blog and adds the logo. (check)
  • Pass it on by nominating others.
  • Thank the person that nominated you; also add their URL to your post for ping back. (check and check. And thank you again Colette!!)
  • Mention your purpose for blogging.

I write because I can. I can’t doodle or dance or jiggy (or twerk). But I can write. So I do.

Simply put, it’s one of the many things in my life I’m proud of and I’m a mighty show off. So I write. If you don’t think I write too well, you’re probably right; but you know what, I’ll shake it off (cuz haters gonna hate hate hate right…?). I will still write about stuff I’m passionate about or crazy stuff I encounter everyday. (Some) Fairly sane(ish) people follow my blog, so I’m quite convinced I’m not all bonkers (maybe a little, but not all). So I will write. Till I learn to doodle or dance or jiggy (I ain’t never learning to twerk y’all!!).

As for my nominations, I didn’t see any rules about the “profile” of the blogs we are allowed to nominate (i.e. we can nominate blogs with any number of followers) – so I’ve nominated a few folks that I think will have fun with this particular post.

  • Anand will likely narrate a story involving his mom and/or mom-in-law and/or wife to make his point. I look forward to it more than I’m letting on 😉
  • Fellow nutella lover will probably draw up a thought-provoking list to let us know why she writes. You will definitely connect with at least one of them.
  • The unsuspecting word inventor will probably define another word that isn’t so we understand their purpose for writing
  • Charlotte will secretly (or not) curse me for dragging her into this mess and post it under “E”. Or “T”. Or not. I hope she gets a good doodle in though…

That’s it on my end. I can’t wait to see how these unsuspecting folks tackle (?) the award and I hope you’ll all spare a minute to check out their blogs.

Coming soon… A post on a few things to avoid whilst traipsing around Mumbai (or most cities in India)

On that song: Poker Face


This post I will take on a mammoth challenge to blog entirely about a single song and its various “covers”. I haven’t done it before (probably because no one other than blogging101 and this blogger asked me to) and I’m super excited to take a shot at it.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for a decade, you know who Lady Gaga is and what Poker Face is; if you were under a rock for a decade, I reckon you won’t really bother yourself with her and would rather reacquaint yourself with Subway (or McDonalds or Starbucks).

When Gaga’s song first came out in late 2008, it was a craze – the weird (at first) lyrics, the overwhelming video and her outrageous outfits! Then she performed the song live on her tour (she performed only once in India and I was unfortunate to miss out on it, but that was years later) and when we saw them many months later, we were blown away. I remember watching the stripped-down piano version of the song on loop for days and battling with myself about which version was better (the original one. duh.), because both versions were so different from one another and still so Gaga. My friends will also remember that the hook was in my head for days and they were constantly subjected to my (in tune!) hummed rendition of the hook for hours on end; my neighbours, however, may only remember my (rather pitiful) attempts to recreate the sounds on my Casio.

And then I discovered Daughtry’s take on the number to realise that the song can be re-interpreted yet again. To be fair, it’s very similar (musically) to the piano version, in that it’s purely acoustic, but the song fits so well into his wheelhouse that you think its another track altogether; I’m super surprised he didn’t tidy it up a bit and release a version, but then I think “he’s a musician and he must know his business quite well so let’s not get into matters we don’t understand”. I was a lot more successful with the guitar on this version (partially I think because it was simple chords and just a strumming pattern to muster, but hey! I got it right!!), but it was still a rather noisy learning curve, so me thinks my neighbours would remember this one as well.

And the last version of the song I heard, which was to be fair a cover of the piano version, was on Glee. I’ve written about how I completely loved Glee in the past (I mean before it got completely out of control and became just a show with singing kids; when it was ending it unbearable enough that I only looked up the weekly songs), so you know that I completely enjoy their interpretation of songs. When Idina Menzela and Lea Michele did a cover of this song, it reminded me of the reason why I signed up to watch Glee in the first place – because it had access to people who could actually sing the crap out of songs. Their version was a soft, demure interpretation of the track – one that I think Gaga’s piano version got damn near close to; but I think her overwhelming personality never allowed the song to be perceived as “soft”. (On a side note, Gaga has since paired up with Tony Bennett for a delightful jazz album, where she sounded as soft and wonderful as any other jazz singer – to a point where you would wonder if she’s the same person who sang Poker Face and Bad Romance.)

Years later as I look (listen?) over all the versions of the song (there was a fairly hilarious Southpark version as well!!), I want to commend Lady Gaga (not that she needs it from a ‘lowling’ like me) on creating a tune that has been (almost equally) loved by people with varied musical tastes and survived the onslaught of many many party tracks to make it to Spotify’s Epic Party Playlist (THAT is not my only benchmark of an achievement for any track – but it’s still pretty awesome right?!). I can still hear the hook each time and be pulled back in time to when it first played on my computer and how my head bobbed in perfect rhythm. Any song that can have that impact on you deserves a mention on your blog.

Tell me about what song(s) you would highlight on your blog. Maybe I like ’em too… 

P. S. Thanks to Sameen for reminding me that the links were missing. I was lazy. But now the hyperlinks are functional so you can all enjoy the song(s) I blogged so much about!!

Growing (up) pains


I am now a good week behind my assignments for the Blogging101 course, but no matter – I’m going to try catch up as much as I can and as often as I can. The assignment I am attempting today is to publish a post based on a blogging prompt. While I already DID a post on a prompt, I’m feeling a little generous (!) and have decided to grace y’all with another post.

The prompt today (The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “West End Girls.”) asks us to demographically describe where we live. Unfortunately, I (now) live in a city (and a part of a city) where the only discernibly distinguishing aspect of the population is that they live in the trains. Like literally. People in Mumbai leave their homes early in the day, have their morning cuppa and breakfast in the “Mumbai Local” (if they’re exceptionally lucky they are also treated to the in-train shower service, courtesy of the sliding doors that refuse to close or to stay shut), do a lot of their household chores in the train (I kid you not – I have seen people peeling and slicing vegetables, sewing buttons and knitting winterwear in the trains) and sometimes even their office or school work in the trains (hey teachers, if you blame students for illegible handwriting, now you know why; your forever dedicated students work on any surface they can find in the train to finish their homework. Respect, yo!).

I know loads of people who do not travel everyday by train (I think they’re downright stupid spending their time in traffic-packed roads in their tiny tiny cars instead of lounging luxuriously in the oversized train compartments, but, hey, that’s my opinion). Even they are not spared of the impact that the trains have on how this city lives – because if trains are delayed, your colleagues probably will be late and you just cannot get ready for that presentation in time; because a train strike means your classmate tasked with a section of the classwork will either be late or not arrive at all and that means you, the puny car traveller, will have more work to do.

So whenever I’m asked to describe what it is like where I live (and grew up), I can only really think of how the trains gave me some skills I could never have acquired anywhere else (like the ability to ask perfect strangers where they were getting off, just so I could get to rest my legs after a while; or how to haggle (or not) with the vendor to get the best price for those knockoff earrings that go perfectly with a dress you bought last weekend; or how to recognise the best oranges (or peaches, or guavas or sweet corn) in a bunch). I realise it doesn’t quite matter whether my locality was filled with affluent aristocrats, with middle-class meddlers or with the pauper population – its very likely their lives are just as intricately linked to the trains. How a mode of transport has such an impact on society is as much a testimony to the city as it is to the people of the city, but I’ll say this – whoever you are, if you’re in the city you’ve got to live with the trains.

As they say in Italy:

Quando finisce la partita, i pedoni, le torri, i cavalli, i vescovi, i due re e le due regine tutti vanno nello stesso scatolo
(When the chess game is over, the pawns, rooks, knights, bishops, kings, and queens all go back into the same box)

Signing off with a rush to make my 12:43 train…

6 word story


This is what all the blogging101ers are upto. So obviously I have to keep up 😉

Check out the challenge here: https://bencnicholson.wordpress.com/2015/08/16/six-word-stories-fancy-a-challenge/

While many bloggers are crafting deep, thoughtful stories, what’s my 6 word story about loss you ask:

Then I chased down the airline

Chasing down the airline to hunt down lost baggage (and generally finding it after 2 days of hair-wrenching annoyance from the authorities), roaming around in a new city (sometimes even a new country) looking for clothes and utter essentials (including vegetarian food – not because that’s what was in the baggage; I always look for vegetarian food) and dealing with the confused looks of a concierge who says “Is that all you’re carrying Mam?”;

Loss has a very profound (and wallet-lightening) effect on me.

Why most people REALLY hate exercising


I’ve recently been trying to devote more time to the blog. And also to myself – staying fit, eating smarter, yada yada all those things the hippie kids do nowadays. So I’m blessed (more often that not) to overhear some ridiculous conversations at fitness areas – gyms, swimming pools, jogging tracks.

*overheard at the gym*
Guy 1: I have to leave early today, re. Independence Day par beti ka parade karaayenge aur tale hue samose khilaayenge. Aaj exercise ka kya faayda? (translation: They will will parade my daughter around (quite literally) on Independence Day (which ruined a statutory holiday by inconveniently presenting itself on a Saturday) and serve us fried samosas (that’s like potato dumplings. Or something. Google it.) So what’s the point in exercising today?)
Guy 2: Haan yaar. Waise yeh Monday aata toh kitna accha hota na…? (translation: Totally! Wouldn’t it be like even more awesome if this happened to Monday?)

I managed another 20 minutes before realising I was a. pi**ed at Guy 1’s non-patriotic approach and b. pi**ed at how right Guy 2 was and how darn depressed I was because of it. Shame. On. Them.

*overheard at the swimming pool*
Lady 1 (on the sidelines, lounging): Did you hear about Gupta Ji’s daughter Anita? She nearly drowned at this pool last weekend. Hum toh apni beti ko yahaan nahi laayenge… (translation: I will not bring my daughter here. (Actually her intonation and hand-waving was so authentically Punjabi I cannot use words to describe them. I’ll let you use your imagination))
Lady 2 (also on the sidelines, lounging): Kaise hua? Yahan coaches nahin hote kya? (translation: How did that happen? Don’t they have coaches here? (having someone confuses lifeguards with swimming trainers is totally believable. Innit?))
Lady 1 (now slightly agitated and pointing at the pool): Arre woh safety wire mein atak gaye na uska pair…  kahan tairti bechaari… (translation: Her feet got caught in the safety wire; where was she supposed to swim after that (it wasn’t a wire; the guys running the pool aren’t that dumb. It was the safety rope)

I obviously guffawed immediately and coughed up a lungful of chlorinated water.

*overheard at the jogging track*
Guy 1: So I read on the internet that it’s recommended to change your running shoes every 6 months or so (FYI it could be much shorter if you’re a heavy runner and a little longer if you just dabble in running like I do)
Guy 2: Really? That would make running really expensive. These Nikes don’t come cheap you know (in India it is not uncommon to regularly reference brand names in meaningless conversations. Some people think its stylish. FYI Guy 2’s shoes read “Nikke” and Guy 1’s read Action. Mine were Reebok (see how I snuck that in…?). Not one of them a Nike. I’m just saying.)
Guy 3: Toh isme kya hai. Buy 2 shoes. 6 mahine ek joota use karo and phir use 6 mahine andar rakhwaado – doosra joota hai na. (translation: So what’s there in this (I can’t find an exactly English transliteration of this phrase. Google – you need to step up yo…). Buy 2 shoes – use one for 6 months and then keep it inside – you have the other shoe right. 

Thank god I wasn’t on a treadmill when this conversation took place. Because I emergency stopped myself at that comment. Because he was (technically) correct. And I wondered why that genius idea did not strike me.

And so I summarise reason why people hate exercising:

  1. Because it’s a holiday. Or a national holiday. Or a state holiday. And because all holidays mean unhealthy fried food. Fried food equals annihilation of exercise plan.
  2. Because safety devices are darn unsafe. Helmets can cause excessive sweating, which could cause blurred vision while riding a bike; a concussion may not be as vision un-enhancing. Elbow and knee pads will require that your hands and legs stick out at unhealthy angles when cycling causing you to look an oaf; having a vehicle ram into you may be a lot more stylish. Removing headphones while running on the road will cause to “miss the pimping beat” and potentially damage your Nikkes; having a car ram into you will probably save your shoes. (I can go on – but I think you get the point yes?)
  3. Because exercising is expensive. Running (or walking) on roads worth a few hundred crores built by governments that require you to invest a few thousand bucks on new shoes every couple of months is very expensive; the few thousand bucks you spent on noise-cancelling headphones is not. Signing up for a neighbourhood pool apparently costs more than the stylish sunglasses and waterproof watch you own. Smart takes the elevator up 3 floors – stupid burns precious energy and time on the stairs.

I didn’t intend to make this post sound so preachy, but it’s turned out that way and I’m going to live with it. So this Independence Day, I can only hope that we all devote a few minutes everyday to keep ourselves in better shape. Because spending (whatever little you may need to) to keep yourself in shape makes more sense that 1000 buck sunglasses that were on sale on Flipkart – because you aren’t spending, you are investing in your future.

Happy Independence Day!

P.S. I was so focussed on staying fit this Independence weekend that I drafted this post and forgot all about it till Monday. So happy belated Independence Day!!

Knock, knock. Who’s there?


Writing a blog (this one, at least) feels a lot like opening the door at a house party – you never quite know who will come knocking and how they’re going to mix in with the rest of our guests.

So when I think about who the readers of THIS blog are, I can only hope that they’re as random as the people I had over last weekend, but are joined by a common thread of sorts. I’m very passionate about a lot of things (but mostly music, books, movies and humour) and I think that’s where most of my readers’ interests will also lie (or at least I hope that’s what they’re interested in – if not, they’re in for a rude shock).

So my ideal audience is every music-loving movie-going funny bibliophile.

There. Nailed it. Take that, blogging 101.

Saying Hello


In case you haven’t realised (with the new blog name and the updated “About me” page), I’ve decided to dedicate time to my blog thanks to the Blogging101 course.

The course is not designed to make me a kick-ass blogger overnight. Or even over a month. It needs us fellow students to commit to the basic principles of maintaining a blog (or for that matter even your facebook profile) – the idea that the blog is essential a way for you to express your ideas and connect with people. Repeat – connect with people.

As part of our assignment to reach out to fellow bloggers and follow topics of interest, I actually realised (or re-realised) topics that I’ve always been passionate about – humour, books and music. I realised that almost every blog that I liked or followed had one among these 3 themes very strongly (or at least that their authors appeared to be passionate about one of these 3 themes).

So here I present a blogroll of the recent blogs I’ve just started following:

  • Anand’s Caricatures and Parodies: A fellow blogger101er, Anand has a quirky sense of humour and (I think) a stready hand.
  • Words that aren’t: The Grammar Nazi in me is always lurking around, editing incorrectly worded emails and papers. A blog like this kind of puts me in my place.
  • The Blurred Line: I stumbled upon this one reading up a sugar-free challenge (quiche vs cup cake – I actually would choose the quiche) and realised that this advertiser wrote in a style of humour that I liked. furrynuff said.
  • Girl on the Contrary: I LOVED the style on her site (the theme, the colours, everything!) and was delighted to see that her content was even better. “Here is a Thought on a Friday” – pure genius.
  • Scottish Bookwork in Quebec: Following a book series led me to this blog (actually more than one series led me to this blog; so we have common reading tastes for sure). I’ll look to more reading ideas from this Scot for sure.

These bloggers (and many more on The Commons) give me more inspiration to put pen to paper and write more. And preferably about topics I’m passionate about – so other people will be able to connect with my blog as much I do with these blogs.

Random ramblings of a merry Mumbaikar

Gratis

Waking Imagination

Gallimaufry

A collection of various things: hodgepodge, mishmash, variety

amarllyis

"After all, tomorrow is another day."

listology101

random lists, bucket lists, funny lists, song lists, book lists, lists of lists

The Introvert's Dictionary

Because we speak a language all our own.

Megan Elizabeth

Creative Imaginations

Dragons Rule OK.

There are dragons and magic in the world if only you look for them... V.M. Sang

Scottish Bookworm in Quebec

Book and e-reader reviews

The Evening Ramble

Writing. Learning. Doing that whole grown-up thing.

nihilisticle

I guess I'll go ahead and count the ways.

darkofficehumour

Workplace behaviour – an ironic look at what some people sometimes do in office and why

The Blurred Line

It's the thin line between reality and fantasy. It's the thin line between sanity and madness. It's the crazy things that make us think, laugh and scream in the dark.

Pun Jabs

Putting the pun in pun-ch lines