Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Taxi in Belfast

My best friends know I am no shutterbug. It is but rarely that I take the camera out to take photos of anything that does not bear a striking resemblance to myself. Most of my photos thus end up looking something like this:

Or the photos have to be just plain ridiculous; something like this:

But the other day, when I was walking down Belfast, I saw this taxicab. As most people who live in the UK know, most (actually, if I'm not mistaken, all) cabs in the UK are the same kind – called black cabs. While they're very comfortable and all that, they're not designed to get you to drool. In fact, they look only slightly better than the 'trusty' old Ambassador.

This taxi, however, was not one of those. Though built by the same company, it was an older model – a model that harked back to an earlier era where young men wore spats, debutantes presented themselves to the queen, Gandhi still wore clothes, and Nehru still had hair. Though I'm not sure if Nehru wasn't born bald.

I asked the taxi driver if I may snap a photo of his vehicle. This being Ireland, a simple yes wouldn't suffice, of course. The taxi driver looked up, smiled and said, 'Sure, but it would be even better to take a few pictures of the interior while you're taking a paid ride.'

'Er... I'm broke.'

'Oh, no worries then.'

He then went on to tell me how this model was more reliable than the 'new fangled contraptions' they've got down in Edinburgh or London, as it had been tested. He also told me, rather wistfully, that his chrome bumpers were missing. Then, he gave me yet another reminder of why I love Ireland and the Irish so much – he opened the door, and allowed me to sit in the driver's seat and take a gander at the wooden instrument panel.

One of those things that can happen only in the emerald isle, innit!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Some good craic in Eire.

I apologise for having been tardy with my updates for an extremely long time. I have no excuses. Well, I do have excuses; but none that will wash. However, I am happy (or sorry) to inform the minuscule few that still frequent my blog to check for updates (or to confirm its demise prior to holding a party to celebrate the end of the murder of the Queen's language) that I do have a fair bit to write about over the next few days.

I have just got back from a trip to Ireland, a country (or should I say countries?) that I have fallen in love with entirely and completely. There is so much to write about; so many colourful personalities to dissect - I don't know where to begin.

But at the present moment, teeming as I am with ideas, I find myself too tired to write any more. So I leave you with a short video of this Irish bloke singing a folk song at a pub in this little village in South Armagh, Northern Ireland. Those of you who can't seem to appreciate it are eejits, skeets, or both. Oh, and youse can bite the back of me bollix.

P.S.: Talk of verbosity! 200 words and I said I had nothing to say. :)

Friday, September 28, 2007

India 'Shining' - my bloomin' arse

Warning: Highly cynical post ahead.

The other day, a friend of mine called me over to this pub where a few new Indian students were meeting up. One of the people at this little gathering was this girl who was, I was informed, a political science graduate from rather a respected university. Though I am no more than a dilettante in affairs political as a Computer Scientist, we got into a discussion.

'India is shining, you know... it's the Indian century and all that. We have reason to be optimistic.', said she, almost shamelessly plagiarising from the Goldman Sachs report.

I decided to ask her why she felt that way. She went on, 'Oh, you know, there are so many malls. Now, even Marks and Spencers has come to India. Brand India has gone global. Tata is one of the world's biggest steelmakers, and an Indian like Mittal is so obscenely rich. I mean, who would have thought we could get a McDonalds burger or chicken wings from KFC in 1991! There's this new breed of Indians; hungry, brash and spending. You should see all the cars in ' .

As she waxed eloquent - perched inside her ivory tower - oblivious and blind to the poverty of the vast majority of our countrymen, I was reminded of another conversation I had with another girl of my acquaintaince a few months earlier, where she spoke with astonishing naivety on how India was almost a developed country because of IT, 'outsourcing', luxury condos, McDonalds, Walmart and malls. Oh, and I almost forgot about how she believed sweatshop owners in Tirupur who cynically exploit their workers in blatant contravention of labour laws and the Geneva convention (let's not talk of their tax evasion) are actually helping the poor.

No, my post is not about the almost criminal ignorance of the middle-class Indian in her glasshouse, but about how anybody can possibly think India is 'shining'.

Just to start with, let's take a look at everything the media (particularly the trashy tabloids) seem to be going on and on about:

1. The economic powerhouse that is India:

Yeah for IT - now us Indians can buy so many different kinds of cars! Oh yes, let's not concern ourselves too much with the fact that inequality levels are 14 percent worse today than they were in 1991.

The fourth and fifth richest men in the world are Indian (Mukesh Ambani and Lakshmi Nivas Mittal). Who cares then that 77% of our population - that's almost 800 million people - leave on less than Rs. 20 a day?

Why do we, as the educated middle class, continue to ignore the poverty that stares us in our face. I wrote a few months ago about a dispossessed vegetable seller called Pandian. Why do we ignore the Pandians of this country?

Before anybody starts talking of the trickle-down effect (the aforementioned girl at the pub did), could somebody please tell me why there's a rise in inequality?! Why is that, sixty years on, 77% of us do not have the means to live a decent life free of want?

2. 'The political climate is changing. Gandhigiri and the Right to Information (RTI) act are revolutionising the way the country is run!'

How desperate (or stupid) must one be to clutch to a straw as weak as Gandhigiri, an inane concept introduced in a Bollywood potboiler starring a man convicted to six years in prison. As for RTI, why hasn't RTI found Rajan's body yet? Why was Rajan killed in the first place?

And Rajan is not alone. Everyday, millions of us face abuse and pain at the hands of our protectors, the police force. For some of us, especially the more economically disadvantaged, it's worse.

3. 'Feel Good'

People who use the phrase 'feel good' should watch this video to see what 'feel good' is all about - a cynical spin put on events!

If things were so good for everybody, where have the Maoists found the groundswell of support for their movement; so much so that Maoists control 28% of India's districts.

Why is it that there are insurgencies in Kashmir and the North-east of the country? A foreign power cannot sustain an insurrection for very long without support from the local populace (as the collapse of the Khalistan movement illustrates).

4. Reservation and all that kind of thing:

Starting with Devraj Urs and the cynically evil Mrs. G (version 1), caste has risen to take its place as the new class, with VP Singh making it all the worse, and Arjun Singh adding the final touches. So much so that as a forward caste Hindu, a person like me is among the most underprivileged in society.

(Of course, if one looks back far enough, one can see where our brown Sahibs have perfected the technique from - Lord Curzon and the division of Bengal, anyone?)

If this wasn't enough division, and the Hindus and Muslims didn't hate each other enough already, the honourable Mr. Sachchar is working towards reservation for Muslims as well. This is such a cynical gambit I'm surprised Muslim leaders don't see through it themselves.

Indian Muslims are poor and under-educated, and they're discriminated against (watch the Channel 4 documentary on India where a security guard in Mumbai proudly proclaims that Muslims are 'not allowed' in a housing development if you want to see what I mean). The solution would be to deal with the roots of the prejudice, and to try heal the scars of an unnecessary partition of the country.

Instead, what Sachchar does is to highlight their grievances, tell them they're ill-treated in this country, and make them feel worse than they already do (with some justification). And then, hand them reservation; so that the Hindus perceive the Muslims as different, even more than they did before. The upshot: an 'us-and-them' mentality, ripe for exploitation in the name of vote-bank politics.

So, is this the kind of society I would like my child to grow up in? Where he is told of his religion and caste every single step of the way? Where he finds, like I did when I was 17, that some doors are closed for Hindus who were unfortunate enough to be born into a forward caste? I would hope not...

To leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth, do read Rajeev Srinivasan's excellent piece!

Does India still shine, or have you managed to get your rose-tinted glasses off?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The hardest two years of my life...

It has come to the end.

It was more than two years ago I decided to leave a land which I decided I could never live in - nanny states and regimentation were something that I could never stomach (one of the many reasons why I can't join the army - though some of my friends, them of little faith, have fervently expressed the desire to see me take the physical).

It was about that time that I decided to throw that job at an Indian IT company away (Words cannot express how glad I am to have done that).

It was also about that time that I decided not to think of going to the United States of America - the more I see stuff like this, the gladder I am that I decided to opt out. I can but express my sympathy for the poor American people held in thrall by Cheney and his gang of crypto-fascists.

And it was also about this time that I decided to pack my bags and move home and hearth to Europe. Two years have since passed - during which I've lived in two countries, travelled to six countries (including one where I ended up by accident, spending twenty minutes as an illegal alien), in eight houses, worked on a thesis that went on interminably, wrote pitifully less, struggled with my political and religious conscience, met some people (one in particular) I am glad to have bumped into, and some others (one in particular, again) whom I wish I had never set eyes upon.

I have spent whole days, nights - and even weeks - locked up in basement laboratories struggling with little electronic monsters I detest at times - but to whom, yet, I have linked my lot for the next three years or so. I have spent whole nights partying, redefining the meaning of the word bacchanalian.

I have travelled as much as I could possibly afford. During my sojourns, most people I met were unexceptionably nice - some a little too nice, even! I have also met ignorant and racist cunts - though thankfully, very few of the latter.

I have lived in some great places with people from all over the world, and some places I'd rather forget about (and would, if it were not for those 400 euros those arsewipes still owe me!).

I have learnt to speak a new language, can speak an Indian language better than I ever could when I lived in India (Hindi, if you must know), and can hardly speak an Indian language I once spoke almost as fluently as a native speaker did (Tamil, sadly enough). Surprisingly, I found myself speaking less English in the home of English than I did in India - an irony that surpasses all else!

I have seen stereotypes of people, races, places, and genders I'd built up over the years smashed into teeny weeny bits. For instance,

1. You do not necessarily get along best with people from your own nation. This is particularly true when your country is a mosaic of nations like mine is.

2. This almost contradicts my previous observation, but I've realised that our neighbours to the west are not the evil, bearded, India-hating fanatics that we imagine them to be. They are just like us, to use a cliche, speak the same language (well, kind of - when one's from the South of India), eat the same food, and are just as warm. Oh, and round these here parts, we're all Pakis, innit.

3. Every European does not go about having sex with every person from the opposite (or the same) sex he/she meets.

4. It's okay to be gay. They're no different from the rest of us - I stayed with a gay bloke for a month before discovering that he was (gay, not that he was a bloke).

4. Every Brit is not the cold, evil bloke you see in Indian movies kicking the crap out of a poor Indian. Evil people are evil; irrespective of age, sex, and race. Nick Griffin, meet Pravin Togadia and the Shahi Imam Bukhari.

5. To espy the Union Jack does not mean that your eyes have to necessarily drift down to see the aforementioned Indian having the crap kicked out of him.

6. Being able to speak five languages doesn't make learning the sixth any easier. Especially if the sixth language is German. Ja, nach ein Jahr, kann ich nicht gut und richtiges Deutsch sprechen. :(

And now, I've finished this journey. Too soon, perhaps.

But in either case, you're speaking to Siddhu Warrier, MSc, MSc. YAY!

The author requests uncles and aunties interested in finding a phoren-educated English speaking husband for their daughters with nice bodies and empty heads (they have to be retarded to want to be with the author) to contact mum. The author's mum is requested not to reveal details of her son's financial situation to aforementioned uncles and aunties.

The request for other pretty women (age, sex, caste, religion, and race no bar) to contact the uthor still stands. The author spends half his waking hours waiting for your calls/texts. No, it doesn't look like he'll give up either.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Tale of Nothing

So today a few of us were on what one would term a lad’s night out. Or if one were to be more precise, what one would term a lad’s night out if one were of the ilk that enjoyed being liberal with the truth. If the truth be told, it was one of those (many) nights where the women shied away from the pleasure of our company. This is, of course, nothing to surprise the discerning reader – who is well aware of the disdain, scorn, and general annoyance that I seem to provoke within the average woman (irrespective of race, creed and caste).

However, this is, indeed, a moot point. The last paragraph was – as experts in the field of literature (and miscellanous other twats) will testify – an attempt to set the mood. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the short tale that I shall now proceed to narrate.

So, as the four of us sat staring at women in shorts (and short skirts, for the sake of completeness) out of the window of a rather nice little pub in Aachen while contemplating the meaning of life (and the inevitability of spending a lifetime of nights out with the lads), one of the chaps decided to regale us with a little story he remembered from a TV show that is little known outside the British Isles; Little Britain.

Wishing to, like me, create an atmosphere, he began rather regally, ‘So there’s this bloke, yeah? He’s about thirty-five, fat, unemployed, and generally a slob…’

‘And he’s here’, interrupted another of our little coterie.

Each of us – whose eyes were fixed on a pair of pretty legs that was walking past our table – swiveled slowly over to the window, where we espied this fat, middle-aged slob (who was quite possibly unemployed) shuffle slowly past the window.

My friend, who obviously had a funny story to tell, was forgotten as we descended into hoots of laughter. After we’d settled down (and I’d got rid of my stomach cramps), my friend – a tenacious sort that could have been an empire builder somewhere in India three generations earlier – decided to go on.

‘So this bloke likes pissing on the walls, yeah?’

And we turn around to the window; wondering if the Good Lord (or His son, in this case) had decided to send another fat slob who liked pissing on walls.

Now, this was highly unlikely; considering this is Germany where people are forbidden to piss on the streets, while they can do something as morally reprehensible as kiss on the same streets where impressionable young Indian minds possibly walk. (Somebody ought to tell the Shiv Sena about this, they would put a stop to it. And then, us Indians who don’t get any either way wouldn’t feel as inclined to do it ourselves, or feel as depressed when our attempts at kissing popsies on the streets turn out to be completely bootless. Jai Hind; Jai Maharashtra!)

But, lo and behold, the same fat slob was facing the wall, apparently staring at the shop window, with both arms in front of him and his legs splayed wide.

Silence reigned for a second, and my friend contemplated heinous ways to either (a) do the fat man who had interrupted him twice in, or (b) do us listeners in. It was as he wondered if Homer had the same problems when he tried to get the natives to listen to whatever it was he’d written (Homer, I mean, not our 21st century raconteur) that the fourth bloke – silent thus far in this narrative – found voice.

‘Bloody ‘ell! He’s standing right in front of my cycle!!’

The guffaws erupted once more. Even the barmaid who had been extremely nice to us since about an hour ago when one of my friends let her take a dekko at his copy of Playboy glared at us.

The bicycle has since been wisely abandoned…

P.S: My friend still seems to find the Welsh hosepipe on the telly far more entertaining than the one that doused the fourth bloke’s bicycle liberally in the here and now.

P.P.S.: I find this story about as interesting as goat’s urine.

P.P.P.S.: Goat’s urine is reputed to get rid of kidney stones.

P.P.P.P.S.: This tale makes no promises of that nature.

Conclusion: This is probably the dullest blog post in the history of mankind; unless of course Al Gore has a blog of his own.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thoughts of a monk, in a land far, far away...

I haven't forgotten the existence of this blog. It has always remained in a corner of my not-too-well-organised mind. But, the last two months have been unbelievably hectic, as I approach the end of two years in Europe (and hope to, God willing, finish at the end of this month, and graduate at the end of the next).

I have been, since the morning, listening to Tibetan/North east Indian hymns with a strong Buddhist/Hindu influence. This brought long-forgotten memories of a trip, years ago, to Sikkim, a little (former) kingdom hidden below the Kanchenjunga in the far north-east corner of India. My parents took me to this little monastery somewhere near the capital, Gangtok, where we watched mesmerised as shorn monks spun huge, beautiful prayer wheels around.

We got talking to a young, possibly 17 or 18 year old monk. My 7 year old self hung around awestruck in the background. The monk took a look at me, and began to hug me. With tears in his eyes, he told us,

'I have a little brother at home, just like him - the same age. I haven't seen him in years.'

If memory - a fickle mistress prone to altering perceptions of reality at the best of times - serves me right, my parents snapped a photo of him with me.

I didn't think much of it then, and hadn't thought of it afterwards, either. But today, as I listened to Oliver Shanti's eerie, mystic hymns, this memory came flooding back from the depths of my subconscious.

The monk should be about thirty five today. He has probably not seen his younger brother since. Maybe the years of self-imposed exile and isolation have erased the memory of the family he once had, in a small settlement on the border on the Sino-Indian border. Or maybe, just maybe, he still thinks of the little child he left behind when he was wrenched away from his childhood home to pursue a greater call; to attain Moksha. The little child is probably as old as me; he probably still tends to the sheep (or whatever else they tend to in these little villages in an oft-forgotten part of the country).

More importantly to me - and more selfishly, perhaps - I wonder if the young (or not-so-young, now) monk remembers the little seven year old from another corner of that vast landmass we insist on calling a single nation state - the little kid who so reminded him of his own brother. I wonder, if by some eerie, preternatural coincidence, he has thought of me as I sit in front of a computer in the lap of materialism; in a country miles away from his - both literally and metaphorically; listening to songs from his native land, and calling up memories of a young monk I met years ago.

A moot point, however, is if I ever lived in the same country as he. Which, of course, brings me to contemplate the cliche of India being not one, but many countries - of several, nay, infinite realities interposed one over the other! But that is not the point of this little tale; in fact, this little tale, come to think of it, has no point whatsoever.

Thanks for the music, Galiya, it's set me thinking. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Sati, Savitri, and the cloak of virginity

The message board is the place to visit if one wants to see how moralistic, judgmental, racist, opinionated, boorish and uncivilised many of us Indians are. Most arguments are constructed with scant regard to grammar, spelling, or the decencies of debate. Though the first two are not of paramount importance, one could well do without having to see messages like:

'mulla,,, tumhe toh alla nahi bachapaya ab SRI RAM hi bachayega... '

'I am waiting for abi-ash suhgraat Exclusive Pictures please rediff'

'I saw abhi f*cked aishwarya in the ass. It was vairy nice'

and many more such gems.

Every single discussion board turns into either a North/South or a Hindu/Muslim squabble. But, I guess arguing and hating each other (ref: Russell Peters) is as much in our blood as some good curry! :) But, what really really pisses me off - and what drives me to write this post is what I've been reading inthe message boards while following rediff's (totally over-the-top and tabloidy) coverage of the Abhiwarya (sic) wedding.

Apart from the aforementioned perverts who derive their sexual pleasures from being voyeurs, the message board abounded with plenty of Indian culture vultures who persisted in asking the question of whether Aishwarya was a vergin? Which, I assume, of course, means virgin.

Apart from the biological illogicality of staying celibate till one's 33 (or however old Ms. Rai is), the question is - what business is it of these idiots?

And if this wasn't bad enough, there are plenty of these people who prowl our streets, asking the same question of the average Indian girl. Oh, and if she's not a virgin, the heavens have fallen, Indian culture is not what it used to be, and the woman is such a slut! And of course, all of us have heard of the stereotypical 'easy white woman'.

This kind of behaviour, in my opinion, has nothing to do with a staunch belief in Indian culture or whatever passes for it, and everything to do with voyeurism coupled with deep-seated desperation.

The same kind of voyeurism which requires every bloke to ask other blokes what they've been doing with their girlfriends. Er... alright, I am not entirely free of guilt on this count, but I never said I was perfect. To quote Immortal Technique at this juncture, 'I'm just a man, nigger. Don't follow me, nigger'.

What these people, and the morons who've taken Shilpa Shetty to court, need to take note of, is this. Last I heard, the preamble of the Indian constitution declares India a 'sovereign, secular, democratic republic'. The operative words here are - secular and democratic.

Secularism means that whether you wear saffron robes and spear young couples with your trishuls, or don skull caps and issue fatwas against immorality, you have no right to do so! Your religious views are yours, and yours alone. The government of this country subscribes to no religion, and therefore, the people of this country are free to choose to follow any set (or subset) of religious beliefs without having to face sanction from a bunch of interfering, self-righteous twats who take the name of God in vain.

The word democratic goes even further. It means that every Indian citizen is free to do as he pleases, unless he causes harm or hurt to another. If you are hurt by a couple making love in their apartment, stop looking through the bleedin' window. If your sentiments are shocked by a couple sharing an intimate moment in public, look away. They're not killing each other; they're merely expressing their affection for each other. If you were honest to yourself, you would admit that the only reason why you find it so damn objectionable is because you know no girl in her right mind would give you the time of day.

Consensual sex is the most private of acts, in that it involves nothing that is not one's own (unless one's been pilfering condoms at the chemists', but that's a different story). It doesn't hurt anyone. At worst, it can hurt oneself. Well, it is every adult's choice to subject his body to whatever he or she wishes to. It is not the business of the RSS, VHP, Shiv Sena, or Shahi Imam Syed Bukhari to interfere.

And if this democratic republic of ours does not grant us this most basic of freedoms, we need to urgently reword our constitution.

Until then, I suggest either: a) migrating to a country where you are allowed to impose your beliefs on others, or b) shutting the f*ck up!

Till then, no sex please, we're Indian. We have 1.13 billion people - each one an immaculate conception.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stereotype Central

Short Post. A musing, more like!

Everybody has probably heard the stereotype of the Germans being efficient, almost to the point of being automatons. Being a politically correct soul, I tried to assure myself that the stereotype was just that, a stereotype.

But I did have second thoughts about that just a few minutes ago, as I stood outside the Informatics building, getting some fresh air after remaining cooped up in a basement lab for far too long. A chap tried to get in through this other door, which was locked.

He then walked in through the door where I was standing, and then tried to get into the section of the building that was accessible through the first door by trying his luck with another door inside the building. This door was locked as well. As he walked out, he gave me the rueful smile that transcends international borders.

All fine till now, yeah?

Then, this bonnie lass in a tracksuit tried to access the first door (aside: Why do women in tracksuits look so edible? Metaphorically, of course, before you start likening me to one of those cannibal chappies in Papua New Guinea). Which, of course, did not work. Then, she moved along and tried the second door, just like the chap before him. As she wrestled unsuccessfully with the second door, a third woman tried the first door, saw the second woman wrestle with the second, and decided, nonetheless, to try her luck herself.

This process continued, with bucketloads of people following their predecessors (whom they could espy) along the same path. I decided to tell the fifteenth person who walked past the door where I stood that the door inside was locked as well. She said, 'Oh, too bad!', and went on to do exactly the same thing!

Now, if this were a bunch of Brits, they would probably have formed an orderly queue outside either of the doors, and waited politely for someone to open the door for them (or they died of exposure to the elements waiting politely).

And if this were a bunch of Indians, we would have first tried break the lock, failing which we would have clambered in through the windows - stopping for a minute to carve our initials (and other profound messages like 'Samir loves Anita') on the window sill.

At this note, I stop my racial stereotyping for the day. I've been an equal opportunities racist, I hope! ;)

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Last King of Kerala

Statutory warning: Unless you’ve watched The Last King of Scotland, you’re not going to make head or tail of this post. I suggest you watch it. Nae, I order you to watch it. I had a dream that says so.

I had just graduated from one of the million substandard engineering colleges that dot the Indian landscape.

We had a celebratory dinner at home.

My father tried to appear to be happy. As we sat down at the table to eat, he spoke solemnly.

‘My son, you have decided to follow a very noble profession chosen by very few… er… make that a few million. Nonetheless, I would like to congratulate you by raising this glass of orange juice to our collective lips. A toast to your pitiful degree in engineering.’

Oh, did I mention it? Mum’s into anti-temperance and all that kind of thing.

He continued, after I had downed the orange juice into my stomach where it soon met the half-litre of vodka that sloshed around in the vicinity (relics of a livelier graduation party with a few mates).

‘You shall soon be joining the thousands of mindless drones who slave away at the software company I work at. I can think of no better profession for you, considering you seem to have no other interests save porn, women and alcohol.’

I balked inside. The software company seemed horrendously unappealing.

I went into my room, settled on my bed, and stared at the Sachin Tendulkar poster on the ceiling. The thought that a chap who had failed his O-levels could make a lot more money than me caused me to seethe within.

I turned the television on, and was greeted by Jade Goody. That did it!! I screamed out loud. I had to make something of my life, just like Arundhati Roy, Shilpa Shetty, Mandira Bedi, and legions of other talentless goofs had.

I had to get away from it all. I had to find myself – even if I knew full well that the search was unlikely to yield any more than a search for free, genuine nude pictures of Aishwarya Rai on google.

I took the globe in hand and spun it around, muttering away, ‘First place my finger stops at, I go there.’, rather like the talentless shmuck I was.

When the globe stopped spinning, my finger rested on the United States of America.

George W. Bush. Condoleeza Rice. Tyrannical visa regulations. The patriot’s act. Tom Cruise. F.R.I.E.N.D.S.

Goddammit, spin the globe around again.

Uganda, this time around.

Africa. Topless tribal women. Erotic fertility rituals.

It took me just two minutes to decide that I would much rather prefer to sleep with topless tribal women than with Condi Rice.

A few days later, I was on a rickety old bus, travelling down one of the few roads in the world that made the Indian highways look like British motorways. I was going to teach little kids in some village in Uganda how to hate Bill Gates and use Ubuntu Linux. After all, didn’t Ubuntu rhyme with Uganda?

I soon met the chap who ran it all – an old Indian uncle, aunty in tow. I went up to yonder uncle, who was running around getting all the snotty-nosed African kids to take their shoes off before they entered the compute room. As every Indian who’s ever taken a computer class knows, wearing footwear into a computer room will cause the computer to choke to death.

‘Hello, uncle. Where are the PCs? I would like to check my email. And how many PCs do we have?’

‘What’s email? Well, we’ve got the BBC Microcomputer (circa 1982). And I notice you’ve brought a motherboard along with you. That makes it two computers… well, kind of.’

The old coot had been up to the age-old baniya practice of hawking all the computers that stupid Europeans sent along after seeing ‘Kinder hilfe’ ads in Koeln Hauptbahnhof at the local black market.

I soon met aunty as well.

I had imagined an Indian version of Stifler’s mom. Beautiful, undersexed, and completely sick of uncle’s persistent flaccidity (Oh did I mention? What with all the AIDS going around in Africa, the last thing they want around there is Viagra!). What I got was a rotund Kantaben with a large bindi plastered over her forehead. Ah well, I’d at least get good khichdi.

Before I could speak, aunty asked me, ‘So, beta, are you married?’


‘Ah, all you youngsters. In my time, we would not let 23 year olds run around the world unmarried. What you need is a good wife to cook for you and look after you.’

Why is it that none of these aunties want to talk of the good stuff about marriage – I mean, the action! It’s not like we Indians don’t do it at all. If you’re not sure, ask the chaps who conduct the decennial census. But before I could object, aunty went on to speak of how her son was working in a good software company in America and was married to a good girl from his own caste – no nonsense with all these goris and kallis.

It was a few days later that Idi Amin came to our village, and my life changed forever.

I was wearing my Kerala: God’s Own Country t-shirt (which contained no information whatsoever of the communists, the labour unions, and the sex crimes in God’s Own Country) when I went to attend Amin’s rally.

The first thing I espied was that the bloke was huge. And that he loved to shout ‘Are you awrite????’ out to the crowd every five minutes. And every five minutes, the crowd answered with a resounding, ‘Shoooooure’.

A few minutes on, I found myself actively screaming ‘Shoooure’ with the crowd. Blending in with the crowd, as it were. Amin then broke out into a kind of tribal jig, which reminded me of the dances in Telugu movies – you know, the kind of thing where the bloke goes into a kind of trance and begins to jiggle his pelvis around like nobody’s business; most people call it exorcism, but Rajkumar and Chiranjeevi call it disco dance.

It was then that I decided to leave. I had seen enough Kannada and Telugu movies to positively detest that kind of thing. As I drove away in my battered landcruiser (everybody who’s anybody in Africa has a 4X4), a military autorickshaw chased me down, and a couple of the local yokels dressed in army fatigues hopped out.

‘Da president, he has a problem with his computer. We need a Computer Scientist. Very urgently.’, said they.

‘I’m a Computer Scientist.’, said I, rather pompously.

‘You come with us.’, they commanded.

Never being one to argue with the business end of an AK-47, I followed them meekly to where the President was, with his laptop on his lap, clapping his ears in pain.

Windows had hung, and Windows Media Player was looping an African song, which sounded suspiciously like the kind of song Rajnikant would love to woo his heroine by.

Idi Amin stared at me and said, ‘You tell me what to do, and I do.’

‘Oh, one of those numbskulls who wouldn’t let tech support do it for them, but wanted to do it for themselves even if they couldn’t power a computer on by themselves.’, I thought to myself.

‘Er..well, Mr. President. Please hold the Ctrl, Alt, and Del keys down.’.

His excellency proceeded to get his fingers in a twist trying to press the ‘C’, ‘O’, ‘N’, ‘T’, ‘R’, ‘O’, and ‘L’ keys on the keyboard down, all at the same time.

I spent five minutes trying to counsel him on how to do it right, at the end of which I lost my patience, grabbed the laptop from Idi Amin, pressed Ctrl+Alt+Del, and killed the Windows Media Player process, screaming, ‘I’ve got to put this thing out of its misery’.

All the flunkies around Amin cocked their carbines. Amin looked menacingly at me, and raised himself to his full height.

‘You touched MY keyboard. You are Indian, aren’t you?’, he said, glowering.

‘Uh…yes, but no, I’m from South India, aye. Kerala.’, and pointed to my Kerala t-shirt.

Amin laughed.

‘Ah, Kerala! Why didn’t you say so? I love Kerala. If I weren’t born a Ugandan, I would have been a Malayalee. There is no other part of the world where people are as horny, and have as funny names as us Ugandans do.’

I smiled; the chap was quite a charmer. I find my name amusing myself, and am unquestionably horny and sex starved.

He went on, ‘I want that t-shirt. I have a son named Baby Lijo Aju Samuel Aby Verghese. He would love it.’

I stared flummoxed. I had doubts about his sanity when he said he wished he was Indian (Anybody who has tried to pick a woman up at a club with a strong Indian accent would agree with me*). The request for the t-shirt convinced me entirely.

He took my confusion to indicate hesitation, and immediately ripped his bemedalled shirt off, and offered it in exchange. Rudyard Kipling wasn’t kidding when he said the barter system still existed in deepest Africa.

He then went on to say, ‘You, you become my personal Computer Scientist. You come here to serve Uganda. You can serve Uganda by protecting the computer of its head of state from viruses unleashed by my political opponents.’

I gaped, open-mouthed. Could I consent to go along with this madman? I looked back to the village. Visions of the aunty marrying me off to some lass who would not meet her husband’s eyes, and would be even worse in bed than me, flashed across my eyes.

I said, ‘Yes…’

I was going to Kampala!

To be continued….

*Yes, I know Russell Peters said that. I give him full credit, but it is a truism, for christ’s sake!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Lament for my motherland

Everyday, I see in the Indian newspapers stories of India’s incredible surge. Not a single day passes without my reading about how we are fighting for a permanent seat in the UNSC. I hear my friends back home talk of salaries with enough zeroes in them to be beyond the comprehension of an impecunious graduate student like self. I hear of Tata acquiring Corus, and of the rising Indian middle class.

In the midst of all this hype, we hardly have any time for the Pandians of the world anymore. Pandian is the antithesis of what we want to think of India and Indians at the present moment – he is hardly educated, he speaks broken English, and is part of the urban poor. No thanks, we’d rather read of Ratan Tata flying an F-16 or of Lakshmi Nivas Mittal being richer than the Queen. Or rather, no poverty, please, we’re the educated, anglicised Indian middle class.

Pandian was a vegetable vendor, the owner of a corner shop in our middle-class locality. Wheelchair-bound, he did a pretty good job of it – he even handled the haggling maamis* with finesse. He was not a rich man, but earned enough to send not just his own children, but even his nephew, to school.

It was in 2001 that disaster struck, as far as Pandian was concerned at least.

Because it was in 2001 that a supermarket opened up about half a mile from where Pandian had set up shop. The supermarket had fresher vegetables that were shrink-wrapped, courteous sales staff, air conditioning, and managed to sell it cheaper than Pandian could ever hope to.

Pandian had probably never heard of words like ‘Brand Loyalty’, but I have no doubts whatsoever that he probably hoped that his customers would continue to support him, after his service to the community for years. But then, we’ve all watched You’ve Got Mail, and know exactly what happened next.

No, Pandian did not have shut shop like Meg Ryan. A few people continued to buy their vegetables from him, even if it meant having to bear the ignominy of carrying vegetables that weren’t shrink-wrapped in a bag that didn’t carry the supermarket’s oh-so-upmarket label. He survived; and still managed to send the kids to school. However, they also had to deliver vegetables to customer’s homes after school.

So, I still remember collecting vegetables from Azhagarsaami, a strapping young lad in his early teens almost every other night. I also remember that Azhagarsaami tried his best to practice his English. I never got particularly friendly with him, partly because I studied at this snobbish college full of rich kids who looked down on the proletariat and people who couldn’t speak English well.

But this story is not a tear-jerker about how my views on the dignity of the labour were changed by speaking to some poor kid**. This story is about Pandian.

The years rolled by, and I left the shores of my motherland. I actually perceived poverty for the first time in my life; it’s hard to miss when everything else around looks so prosperous. And then, a short while back, I was speaking to my mother.

‘Do you remember Pandian?’, she asked me.

I grunted in assent, for I could not understand why his name had cropped up in the middle of an infernally expensive international call.

‘Well, he’s lost his shop!’

I was shocked. ‘What? Why??’, I asked.

The corporation was running a city beautification drive, and as many residents of the snooty colony I call home would probably agree in private, Pandian’s corner store was an eyesore.

Your IT consultant wouldn’t like to have Pandian outside his condo. Neither would the manager.

For the Pandians are a wretched reminder of the other India. Memories that have to be cleansed. Roads that have to be beautified.

Pandian had been served a legal notice, of course. We are a democracy – and a socialist democracy at that – and his shop was on the property of the Government of India.

We wouldn’t do something as wretched as dispossessing a poor man of his only means of livelihood. We would do something as wretched as that only after serving a legal notice. Vox Populi, vox dei, and all that kind of thing.

My mother found him during her evening walk – forlorn and weeping, perched on his wheelchair next to the ruins of what used to be his shop. My mother did not say a word – there was nothing to say…

I know not of what has happened of Pandian today. But he is not alone. There are many Gafurs, Kamals and Thomases who have fallen by the wayside in India’s mad rush to becoming a superpower in the 21st century.

They are the unseen poor whom we, the English speaking middle class, detest. We tell our kids, ‘These people never studied well enough when in school. That’s why they and their children are begging for money on the street’. We look at them and sneer at their lack of culture.

But I wonder how many of us can look at a poor, crippled man crying on the footpath, and blame him for it…

This post is dedicated to Vanaja’s husband – whose small scale business was wiped out in 1996; to Kamal – who, at 22, has spent the last 14 years of his life collecting clothes to press; to Ramakrishnan –who dropped out of my school at the age of 10 to help his father whitewash walls; to Pappamma – who lost her all to the government in the name of the progress; and to all the rest for whom liberalisation, S&P credit ratings, and permanent seats in the UN Security Council mean nothing.

*maami: literal translation: aunt, actually (in this case): just an old harridan with outdated views on the caste system and the dignity of labour, who would rather die than pay a penny more for that tomato)

** I am, after all, a typically insensitive chap from the Indian middle classes – I don’t see India’s poor even when they wave their begrimed hands right in front of my face.

Friday, February 09, 2007

And a Casanova I ain't

Those who have long memories may remember a promise I had made in my previous post – to talk of the harrowing experience that had taught me that I was not to be a Don Juan. I am not usually the kind of chap who keeps promises of this kind (or of any kind, if we must nitpick). But, since I am currently waiting for a huge download to complete, and can find nothing better to do with my time than to write about a thousand words of tripe, here goes…

The story goes back several years. So many years that, I must, in fact, force my way through the mists of time to get there. The year was 2001, and I was an impressionable young lad of 17.

Those familiar with my first crush will also be quite aware of the finesse with which I hit on women I had a soft spot for. I very strongly doubt if Casanova would have attempted to woo the chickadee of his dreams by talking of his Unit Test marks. The Capulet family wouldn’t have had to bother with the vexing conundrum of where to dispose Romeo’s body if his courtship had followed the lines of mine.

Siddhu circa 2001 was not much different. All I knew of romance I had gleaned from trashy Tamil and Bollywood movies, and the occasional Mills and Boon. Any further romantic interests I may have had in the intervening years never happened because I was held up by that bane of every Indian teenager’s life – the Board exams (the equivalents of the O- and A- levels, to the uninitiated). Having partaken of no form of physical exercise for more than three years, I resembled a bowling pin more than anything else. If an egg were to point me out to a bean, the bean would probably have said, “Goddamn! That’s a bleedin’ geek!’

But it was in 2001 that I finally finished school and entered the hallowed portals of college. The college I entered, or the coridoors therein, weren’t particularly hallow, but there you are. I felt liberated – after twelve years spent mucking about wearing an ugly school uniform, I could now wear what I wanted, and do what I wanted.

Liberated in this fashion, I noticed her. She was a moderately pretty girl, but I would not have considered her particularly special. If it weren’t for a certain other blogger (you know who you are, you bastard – assuming you’re reading this, of course! ;) ) deciding to kid my pants off about her, I would have given her nary a second glance.

But that was not to be. “The Warrior” was supposed to have a crush on Maya (name changed), and that was that as far as the aforementioned blogger was concerned. I had, of course, watched too many Bollywood movies for my own good. That, and the fact that my hormones had been suppressed in favour of Physics, Chemistry and Maths between the ages of 14 and 17, resulted in me having a huge crush on her.

I began to behave in ways that were completely alien to me (and most right-thinking men). I started wearing XXL tee shirts so that my paunch wouldn’t show (as much), actually started combing my hair so that traces of my simian ancestry were less pronounced, and began to *ugh* listen to Backstreet Boys.

Using the devious wiles that are the hallmark of the Warrier clan, I managed to worm her phone number out of her, and placed a call.

‘Hello.’, said she.

‘Hi…’, said I, rather effusively.

A silence that one would call pregnant ensued.

‘Who is this?’, she asked, finally, and rather suspiciously.

‘It’s me, Siddhu. That guy in your class, y’know.’

‘Oh, you – that guy who’s always in the first row! Hi…’

Today, I would probably known – unless I were hitting on a geek with thick glasses – that this did not bode well. But at that point in time, I believed strongly in the magnetic aura around the first-row geek.

‘Yeah, that’s me, alright! You’ve got that one right!!’

She grunted in assent, and followed it up with one of those pregnant silences that are the bane of the clumsy lover.

After about ten seconds, I managed to stutter,

‘Uh well, have you done the Engineering Math assignment? I had a doubt in question 2.’

About two months later, I strongly believed that being a first bencher had its advantages. After all, did she not call me almost every day? I studiously ignored the fact that:

  1. Most of the calls were to ask me something about some course or the other, or were merely because I had called her earlier.

  2. If we were not talking about some math problem or the other, I was doing all the talking – I had told her about how I had prepared for my board examinations, how I had delivered a hard hitting speech as a member of the opposition in the National youth parliament, and how I had found calculus fascinating when in school. (The last one was a particularly huge blunder; because it was also a lie!!)

  3. She was friendlier to at least a dozen other chaps than she was to me, and often shrunk away from carrying a conversation out with me when those blighters were around.

I also considered it significant that she:

  1. Thought I was a nice guy. Her exact words were more along the lines of ‘I like you. You’re a nice kid.’, but nevermind.

  2. Thought my bright yellow tee shirt (my all-time favourite) made me look like a fireman. Her exact words were, ‘The glare from that shirt’s so terrible you look like an emergency worker. You should burn it!’, but nevermind.

  3. Found my plans to buy a motorbike when I turned 18 highly amusing. Her exact words were, ‘You’ll look so hilarious on a motorbike. You’re so not a motorbike person!’ – but ah well, I had read on one of those self-help websites that getting a girl to laugh was important.

  4. She actually said ‘Hi’ whenever she saw me. This was particularly comforting for one who had been studiously ignored by the opposite sex for all of seventeen years.

It was as I sat in my room with the Backstreet Boys crooning away on my computer that the idea began to grow on me. It was a mere nebulous thought when ‘Larger than Life’ was playing. It began to take shape when the Backstreet Boys had told me that they wanted it that way. By the time Nick Carter asked me to show him the meaning of being lonely, I had made the decision.

I would ask her out.

But now, the question arose as to how I would go about doing it. I had just dismissed the idea of getting down on my knees with a rose on my teeth as a tad theatrical and was contemplating as to which Bollywood movie would give me the best ideas when the phone rang.

‘Hello,’, I said, some inane Backstreet Boys song still playing away in the background.


It was her. To say that my heart leapt would sound a shade like Erich Segal, but that was how it was (call me a douche if you will).

‘Hi, Maya. What’s up?’

‘Well… I got this problem with understanding how Flemish joints work…’

We spent the next fifteen minutes discussing Flemish joints and other similarly weird creatures that crop up if one is ever unfortunate enough to study Civil Engineering.

After that, she seemed to be in a hurry to leave and was about to hang up, when I spoke,

‘Hey, Maya, got to tell you something…’

‘What? I really got to go and meet this guy in about twenty minutes.’

‘Uh…well… I really don’t know how I’m supposed to say this…I really like you.’

This was supposed to be the moment when a bouquet of flowers enveloped the screen, and we cut to a song in the Swiss alps, with Maya running down a slope towards me. But it was not to be…


‘I mean, I really like you. I’d like to, you know, like, er…you know, ask you out…’,. This was not going as planned, and the last few words were spoken in a hushed whisper.

‘YOU?? You want to ask me out? So what do we do if I do say yes…?’

Now that was a toughie. I racked my brains. Having never really been the kind of chap who steps out of home if he can help it, I had no idea as to what couples did, once they became couples. After deciding that saying ‘We’d make out’ would be a trifle premature, I said,

‘Er… we could go to the cinema, y’know…?’

For the next two minutes, all I could hear was a hyenaesque laughter from the other end.

After she had presumably finished wiping tears of mirth off her face, she spoke.

‘Siddhu, you’re a really sweet chap’ – heart leap time – ‘ but I really…uh well…let me think about it; I’ll tell you tomorrow.’

It should have been clearly apparent to me that these were famous last words, but I persisted.

‘Er…okay, I’ll wait for your call.’

The days passed me by. My phone remained silent.
And then it rang.

‘Hello …?’, said I, eagerly.

‘Hello yourself’, said the voice at the other end.

It was not Maya. It was another friend of mine. And before I could say anything, she spoke.

‘Okay, now who the fuck is this Maya?’


‘I hear you’ve been making a complete pest of yourself with her.’

‘What do you mean??’

‘Well, I heard from Aakaanksha that you’ve been this total ‘hyper case’ with Maya, and been coming on terribly strong. Don’t you have any common sense? Is that how you ask a girl out?’

‘B..but how do you know? And who on earth is Aakaanksha’

‘Oh Aakaanksha is Tripti’s friend. And Tripti knows Sandhya. Sandhya, Divya and Shyamala had met up with Maya, who told them about how you keep pestering her with phone calls, and behaved completely hyper with me and begged her to go out with you.’


‘Shut up! I don’t care if you’ve made a fool of yourself. You’ve made a fool of me too! They asked me if I knew you, and I was stupid enough to admit you were my friend. And then they laughed and asked me if you were a rotund little fuck who insisted on making a fool of himself by pestering a girl to the point of irritation.’

A pregnant silence followed, this time of my own making.

Now that I look back upon this sordid episode, it was not entirely a loss. It inspired me to work on getting rid of that paunch, at the very least. And it has also cured me permanently from asking women out.

The author realizes that this story of his ineptitude in matters of the heart (or to be more honest and explicit, something a little further down) may ensure that he shall never get laid again. At least not until he decides to ask his mother to find him the suitable girl from somewhere in the middle of Kerala. Therefore, he takes this opportunity to beg pretty women to prevent the aforementioned horror from ever happening. As always, age no bar/caste no bar/race no bar/religion no bar/height no bar (as long as you don’t mind midgets)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

When the Hunter became the Hunted

Over the years, I’d become used to the idea of being the one engaged in a perpetually bootless pursuit of tail. That I was not to be one of the Don Juans of the world was driven into me when I was about seventeen, and the first girl I’d ever tried to ask out gave me the raspberry (a story that merits a post of its own, surely). She spoke in no uncertain terms of what she thought of me, and went on to elaborate on the defects in my demeanour, outer crust and general appearance to all and sundry.

Therefore, if an egg (or for that matter, a bean or a crumpet) had walked up to me a couple of years ago and asked me if anybody had ever bothered to try and pick me up from a pub, I would have laughed at him. I would have asked if he were trying to mock me, and warned him with the cautionary tale of what happened to the little children who mocked the Prophet Eliza (they were eaten by bears, in case the reader was wondering).

But then, nobody ever told me there are girls, and there are girls. It’s the latter that I shall talk of today – the women who turned the hunter into the hunted.

Cut to: Northern Ireland, March 2006.

Almost a year ago, a few friends and I decided to pop in and pay Gerry Adams and his drinking mates in the IRA a short visit. After three exhausting days spent photographing IRA graffiti in Derry, Ballycastle, Giant’s causeway and Belfast, we decide to partake of the blushed hippocrene at one of the numerous taverns that dot every British (and Irish) city.

The Irish, I must hasten to add, are among the friendliest people that a chap can hope to meet. It is nigh impossible to go anywhere in Ireland without being drawn into a conversation with the locals – whether one likes it or not. So, we were not surprised when the three middle-aged people at the other end of our table began to ask us what we were doing in Belfast.

It was as one of the chaps decided that the best way to regale my German friend would be to show him pictures he’d taken of the holocaust memorial in Berlin that the lady with them began to talk with me.

She was probably in her forties, and as unlike Stifler’s mom as was humanly possible. After disposing of the preliminaries, she began to tell me about how she worked for the Revenue Service, and how her life was often very lonely and boring. I assented mutely, thinking nothing of it whatsoever. When she began to talk of how rarely she managed to get out and meet nice people, I began to grow slightly uncomfortable. A few minutes from then, I felt a hand grab my arm ever so slightly.

If life were a Shakespearean play, I would probably written, ‘Exit Hurriedly, followed by bear’ and that would have been that. But it was not, and I began to signal to my friends that now may be a good time to check some other pub out. They apparently found my discomfort highly amusing. But, thankfully, my German friend’s patience was running thin in the face of the other chappie’s almost inexhaustible pictures from Berlin, and the exit I had been fervently wishing for was executed with great finesse.

Cut to: England, September 2006.

Ryanair, as I have had cause to mention earlier in these dispatches, has this distressing habit of flying out of airports in the middle of nowhere. It was while staying the night waiting for one of these flights in a nondescript little place called Bishop’s Strotford (Ryanair called it London) that I decided to grab an ounce or two of a restorer at this quiet, little pub.

I walked into the pub, a Harry Potter held close to my chest. After asking the bartender to dispense a pint of the needful, I settled down in a cosy nook and began to read of what would indeed happen to the horcruxes. It was as I was getting to the particularly exciting bit about Ron snogging Lavender (yes, I’m an adolescent, and found parts of Harry Potter 6 to be the very best erotica I’d ever read) that I heard a voice pipe down towards me from the next table.

I turned around to espy a plump Englishwoman in her early thirties.

‘Is that a nice book?’, said she.

‘Oh, I say, yeah, rather!’, said I, trying to hide the cover of the book. I was not able to find the adult cover to HP 6, y’see.

She smiled, and relapsed into silence.

And I went back to the book. I had just begun to contemplate how generally awesome it would have been if I’d studied at a school like Hogwarts where one could snog Emma Watson in the common room for all it was worth when the voice piped up again.

‘It’s considered anti-social in this country to read books at a pub’

‘Er… I’m sorry…it’s like, I was here alone, and so I thought I’d kinda catch up with my reading. There, I’ve closed it.’, I said, rather flustered at having apparently committed a faux pas in the land of the stiff upper lip.

She continued unabated, ‘So where are you from? My name's *^^(‘

After we’d exchanged names, and I’d told her I was from India, she told me that she’d always wanted to visit India, and that it was so very mystical.

I grinned non-committaly.

‘You know, the Kama Sutra and stuff, it’s really cool’, said she.

I hummed and hawed, for the Kama Sutra and I had never been formally introduced. My Kama Sutra education was limited to a few clips of Indira Verma watched surreptitiously on a mate's mobile phone.

It was then that she spoke again.

‘So do you want to see the sea? I could take you’

‘Er…I’ve lived in coastal cities all my life, so I’ve seen more of the sea than the average beach bum. Besides, British beaches are rather chilly at this time of night, I believe’, I said. The terrible memories of Belfast had begun to rear its ugly head again.

‘Ah ok…’, she said, ‘so, where are you staying at?’

‘Er… me? I’m at this B&B called the Phoenix Lodge, right down the street.’

‘Oh… you don’t have to stay there tonight, you know.’

I couldn’t help but notice the maniacal glint in her eyes, and I must admit it scared me some.

I gulped down my drink, looked at my watch and said, ‘Oh my god! Look at the time, its almost midnight. I’ve got a really early flight on the morrow. I better rush to bed now.’

Cut to: Germany, last week

I was at one of Germany’s prettiest cities last week, enjoying the hospitality of a friend who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the best night-spots in town. It was at one of these places – which, the connoisseur may wish to note, offers the cheapest alcohol outside of Goa – that we were having a tipple. We had just ended an extremely interesting conversation with an Irish chap who seemed to have taken it upon himself to tell us his life story. It was then that we noticed this middle-aged woman who bore more than a passing resemblance to Chyna walking towards us. I observed that she was sporting a bindi.

She walked up towards me, and folded her hands in a Namaste.

Being a well-bred, young Indian boy, I folded my hands and wished her a cheery namaste. Now that I think of it, Messrs. Guinness and Jaegermeister may have been responsible for the namaste being a tad more effusive than planned.

She immediately sat down next to me, and began stroking my cheek. To say I was terrified would be an understatement. Though I was aware that a man always holds the trump card in encounters of this nature, I was also aware of the muscles that rippled within her t-shirt. I could not bring myself to contemplate what would ensue if I pushed the woman away, and therefore contented myself with little shoves accompanied by ‘Please… what’s happening?’.

She then began to sidle closer to me, and was pretty much all over me – which felt rather like having a sackful of coals thrown right at your face.

At this point, my friend decided to intervene.

‘Listen, why don’t you just go away?’, said my friend.

‘You don’t know anything about his culture. Don’t shove your oar in here; fuck off!’, said the well-muscled one.

I made a mental note to murder whichever Indian gave her the idea that it was in our culture to appreciate the act of ugly, unknown women thrusting themselves upon us.

It took about two minutes, a lot of pleading, and something I did not follow, before the woman walked away looking particularly malevolent.

Note: Pretty women are urged to note that ugly is the operative word here. I do not mind, nay, I would welcome pretty women – unknown or otherwise – who decide to feel me up, or otherwise hit on me. For some reason unbeknownst to me, the only women who seem to be even remotely interested in a piece of the Warrier are either middle-aged, ugly, or both. Hint hint!!

The author has been single since he can remember. Pretty women (age no bar, caste no bar, race no bar, height no bar as long as you don’t mind midgets) are encouraged to consider the exciting possibilities that this unfortunate concatenation of circumstances present them with.