And the meek shall Inherit

Friday, July 29, 2005

Terrible Two's

We thought terrible two’s was just an adage used by indolent parents, who can’t reign in their wayward offspring’s while they wrought misery and havoc on poor sods around them. Well, now we have become those parents. It’s like our son was somehow waiting for that magical date when he’d turn two, which happened on 17th July ,and after that, voila, it’s like now everything goes. From a clueless, toothless, cute and cuddly infant/toddler he has now assumed a Mephistophelian demeanor, with everything that gets in his way either has to be vanquished or vanished.

And we, the parents, have become the laconic quintessential screamers that get parodied on most sitcoms or redneck product pushers. Yes, these are just not rambling rants, but maybe a plea for help, if I may. If our stuff doesn’t get tossed into the garbage can, it is either gnawed on, maligned, salivated over, stomped on or just plain fragmented. Sob Sob. ‘Yes, yes yes’ was how we elated, about two years ago, knowing that the stork would cometh visiting us which now have cavalcaded into a steady streams of indignant “No” that reverberates through our house whenever our child thunders around. Seemz lost her ostentatiously priced state-of-the-art slim phone, which got tossed in the garbage, without our knowledge, because our boy didn’t quite fancy it. Or so we think. Ditto fate for my travel alarm clock. It’s missing now and we can only assume that it must now be lying in some waste landfill in Canada. Have to now depend on the rooster in my mind to wake up in the mornings, until I find the time buy a new alarm clock.

The other disparaging characteristic is the chucking. Everything that he lays his hands on gets chucked, with a ferocity that sometimes has us worried and candidly, a bit scared. TV remotes, toys, books, phones, wallets, batteries you name it and its been chucked. Sohaib Akhthar couldn’t have done better at chucking, I tell ya. Its not that we have been mute spectators to all these shenanigans. All the disciplining just doesn’t seem to work. We have tried timeouts, gentle raps on the palms, vociferous ‘Noooooooo’s, rolling of the eyes, raising our voices, looks of disgust, our share of groveling and pleading, with little or no effect. Friends tell us “Oh, it’s a phase”, which we are now beginning to quote ad nauseam, just to save face! His eating habits are now slowly falling by the wayside as well. Fries, ice-cream, candies and goldfish snack seem more appealing to him than the regular ‘daal-chawaal’. Well, frankly, they seem more appealing to me as well, but hey, I’m the head of the household. During Sidharth’s feed time I try and slink away, since both mother and son are pretty much on the edge. That and also the fact that I invariably get roped into the chaos to distract the child with my monkey dance or ‘Dance like an Egyptian’ moves, while his mother forces food down his throat, before he loses interest in my calisthenics. He’s also learnt head-butting from his daycare. $%&^#@*. My poor crotch has been at the receiving end of most of these head-butts, send me sprawling to the floor, much to the amusement of the 2-year old. Candidly, any further additions to our family, at this point in time, remains in question!!! Our son is taking care of that adequately.

Actually I jest, but just a little. Though all the hair raising actions are very much a part of Sidharths repertoire, they are greatly eclipsed by the other stuff he does. Like wishing us ‘Goodnight dada’ and ‘Goodnight Mama’ and ‘I love you’ on most nights. Or the impromptu kiss on the cheeks followed by another one on the forehead. When he describes all the animals that he saw in the zoo, in his own inimitable style. Whenever he breaks out into a jig, when he hears a song he likes, we fall laughing to the floor. At parks, when I take him in the evenings, the way his face lights up playing with other kids and the look of wonder at the pictures in the books that I read out to him at nights. Most of his sentences are beginning to get more coherent, well-framed sentences. There are many, many more of these moments which I can only feel and not express succinctly enough. For all those cherished and treasured moments, head-butts to the crotch are a small price to pay.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Chelsea Clinton Betrothed......…Well, Almost

Water, water everywhere. In Mumbai, India i.e. Well here are some funny stories for some respite from the deluge for the Mumbai readers and my "phamily" members. Um...wait a minute, my "phamily" members from Mumbai are my only readers. Anyway Enjoy.

If Godwin Kipkemoi Chepkurgor from Kenya had his way, he’d be snogging Chelsea Clinton right about now. However his offer was not reciprocated adequately, despite offering to pay a handsome dowry offering to his prospective father-in-law, former president Bill Clinton. Check out the story from CNN here. I’m sure that Chelsea will be hugely disappointed for missing out on such a fine catch.

Better get the name of the person you hope to marry correct. Else you end up getting married to either the brother, or father or maybe somebody totally different. Check out the story about the bride from Uttar Pradesh who married the wrong guy accidentally here. Whoever said, what’s in a name?

You don’t have to be driving while under the influence to be booked by the cops. Apparently two gals were given DUI because of their inebriated state by the cops, and they were not even in the car. Check out the entire story from Daves Daily here.

If all those stories don’t crack you up, watch these geezers go at it. Geriatric vintage Ali-Lewis kinda footage, sure to crack you up. Some good stuff here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Dead Poets Society

Mid-day reports, a group of poets from UP got invited to Bombay for poetry reading gathering and got treated like dirt by the organizers. At the end of their stay they were ready to kill the organizers, literally. Whoever said poets were soft, genteel souls !!! Check out the entire story here.

Where checking out the recently launched ‘Mumbai Mirror’ online articles, I nearly feel out of the chair laughing reading the questions posted in ‘Ask the Sexpert’ section. If you think some of the questions were outrageous, check out the answers to those questions. Even better. Check them out here.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Make a Life....Please

Angelina Jolie, Sushmita Sen, Sen John McCain and Supreme Court nominee Justice John Roberts Jr are my personal heroes. Not because of their politics and views or they are beautiful, talented and famous. All of them have adopted children, some of them in partnerships with their spouses and some as single parents. Adoption, the single most selfless act that one can ever be a part of. Acts which many more of us should indulge in, but sadly don’t in the world today.

After our son Sidharth was born, I have known the effort, time, care and unconditional love that goes into raising a child. We have floods, tsunamis, famine, terrorism and poverty rampant all across the globe, thereby millions of children all around the world must be deprived of all the privileges accorded to a normal happy child. Despite all the clichés, children truly deserve better. An eight year old is not meant to work in factories or cater to pedophiles or serve as a punching bags for parents to vent their frustration. Depictions of the sad lives of children in excellent documentaries like ‘Born into Brothels’ and ‘Salaam Bombay’ help educate us, but the fact remains that each one us have innate ability to better the lives of, if not impoverished adults, the lives of the little ones of this world. Easier said than done, since it may not be easy to rise above inherent feral feelings towards ones own progeny, and at the same time be judicious while dealing with an adopted kid. Will one really be impartial when dealing with someone who’s not a part of your own gene pool? These are some of the doubts that most parent go thru before considering adoption. Some other predilections like the financial ramifications (adoption is not cheap), legal quagmire, the child’s mental and physical health all play a part of the overall decision. One needs to think about all these aspects before adopting.

Most or in fact all of our actions, if you like to admit it or not, are targeted to make us feel better about ourselves. Well, adoption is no different either, since people who adopt kids are in some subliminal was, basically are catering to themselves, and their ego. But if we can do good to fledgling lives, even if it may be just one, that would be truly something magnanimous to leave behind. If truth be told, many of us will never ever have the power to affect multitudes of lives a la Gandhi or Mother Theresa, Bill Gates, Rockfeller or George Soros. Just starting with one small life does not seem such a tall order. I am absolutely convinced about the merits of adoption. It’s just the missus who now needs convincing. Only if could be that easy!!!

Check out recent trends on adoption here. Please, at least make one life worth living, and worth living well.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Dark Clouds are Gathering

Yesterday while driving back from the dentist’s office, I was feeling rather glum, since my wisdom tooth extraction is imminent and the doctor will be doing the extractions of the three molars on 4th Aug, under full anesthesia. This is the first time I will be under general anesthesia, and the thought of getting knocked out has always petrified me. Hey, things can really go wrong and what if I never ever wake up. It’s all chemical reactions after all. So to cheer myself up I switched on the radio and flipped to one of the popular local radio talk shows. This station had mostly frivolous, light hearted bantering, with the general public calling in about warts, domestic squabbles, puberty and other stuff mundane stuff. This show is marginally funny at times. Yesterday the host of this radio show was quite riled up about the bombings in London.

The talk show host ranted on about the Moslem community not doing enough about the bombings and that no Moslem leader of any merit had come out and denounced these dastardly acts. This rant went on for a while, and all this time the crescendo kept building after every commercial break. From the Moslem leaders not denouncing the terrorists he began to pontificate about how he opposes all religious fundamentalists, be it Moslems or Catholics. After this he went out on an all-out attack against all Moslems and Islam to the point of calling Islam the most hateful and barbaric religion that was ever preached. He attacked way of life of Moslems, their mannerisms, the Koran, terrorists in Iraq, their food and whatever else he could possibly think of. This rhetoric was aided by the callers, who undoubtedly in large majority were local blue collared rednecks who aired any grievances that they might have had against any Moslem they might have known. And it got uglier and uglier. After a while some Moslem listeners called in and some of them made on-air threats about killing the loud mouthed host. These callers quickly got cut out and greater play time was given to all the loonies agreeing with the rhetoric. There were some callers who called in asking the host to stop inflaming the already state of tension that prevails in the country. Detroit has the largest concentration of Arab Moslems in the country and most of them reside in Dearborn, a suburb of Chicago. The host and his cronies just plain insulted all the callers who pleaded for restraint and reasoning. He was venting and kept repeating over and over that he badly wanted to do something, punch someone, and bomb a mosque or something dramatic of that nature. The vitriol that was being spewed was sickening and normal folks calling in were getting caught up in the rhetoric. The entire segment left me shaken and deeply contemplative about a foreboding of things to come.

What is medias role in society besides information dissemination? Introspection yes, contemplation yes, force us to look at the ills of society to make it a better place to live definitely yes. Media’s role is not to provoke, to make beasts and murderers out of men, to turn man against man in the name of something petty like religion. Listening to some of the callers who called into the show, it seemed like they were ready to riot and pillage. With rioting and pillaging, there are no guarantees who the veil of intolerance and insecurity is going to claim in its wake.

I’m sure that 99.9% of the Moslem populace in this world wants to come back home after a hard days work, play with their kids, be with their families, enjoy the sun, beaches, go on picnics and vacations and just cruise through life just like the rest of us. On account of a small minority who’d like to impose their lifestyle on the rest of the world, the rest of them cannot be branded as fundamentalists and terrorists. There needs to be a middle ground where there could be a confluence of reasoning and fairness. Albeit, not with the extremists but with our perceptions in judging the rest. As for the rhetoric from the radio station host, it’s a troubling sign. The Crusades were fought not too in the distant past in the name of religious indignities. All this rattling of the chains seems like harking back to those medieval ages. There are dark clouds gathering in the distant horizon. I just hope it doesn’t rain anytime soon or in the near future.

Friday, July 22, 2005

What If's

What if

  • There was no concept of money ? Would you still have “free” stuff?

  • Any man who forced himself involuntarily on a woman dies immediately after the act ? Would the number of widows increase overnight ?

  • The entire world was ruled by just one monarch, with divine powers andsuperhuman qualities ? Would his/her word still be the law ?

  • Pedophiles got elephant feet ? Will Michael Jackson still be able to Moonwalk ?

  • People get merited by their value to society and the good they do for others ? Willwe still have politicians ?

  • All thoughts would be displayed on the minds like teleprompters for all to see? Would we design turbans to cover them up ? (Why do you think someone invented pants !)

  • If we were to age backwards? What might be a common accessory at our birth and death – the diaper ?

  • You could check people for compatibility via some inherent chip? And if Microsoft was to write software for those chips, you’d have to pay them to gain friends.

  • All living creatures on earth are someone’s lab experiment, existing in a cosmic Petri dish?

  • Nature mandated that we could only eat stuff we grow or raise ourselves ? Would it then be equality for all ?

  • Evolution was to mitigate all hateful, petty and envious emotions from human beings ? Would we still have soaps on TV ?

  • Every couple is forced to adopt one orphaned child in the world. Will infant mortality rates in the world increase ?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Picnic at Stoney Creek

After weeks of deliberations and careful planning and re-planning, we hosted the birthday party for Sidharth at Stony Creek Metro Park, a beautiful park not too far from our house. On his birthday Sidharth woke up to the sight of his over zealous parents recite a horrendous off-key rendition of ‘Happy Birthday to you’, and his mood was all downhill thereafter. We had invited about 15 of our close friends with their families for the picnic. If one were to judge by the vagaries of the weather on Saturday, it seemed like Sunday was destined to be a damp squib like the preceding day. But luckily the weather gods smiled down upon us and off we went to Stony Creek.

Since we had sent the invitations out for 10:00 AM, propriety mandated that we showed up at the appropriate time. Like everything else that gets stretched in our culture, the invitees started trickling in at 11:30 AM. But this allowed us plenty of time to set things up, get the grill going and the kebabs heated before the guests showed up. Oh, I forgot all about the delectable menu for this outing. We had turkey kebabs, idli Manchurian, corn on the cob, chips and fruits with the obligatory chips, nachos and salsa for starters and noodles, undhiya/puris, tomato rice and cucumber salad for lunch. Seemz was helped in ample measures by our friends, Nita, Radhika, Prathibha and Arthi in the cooking and organizing department. Dessert was supposed to be mixed fruits with ice cream and cake.

So after gorging ourselves on the starters we headed to the lake with the kids, inflatable tubes and a full stomachs in tow. The kids took to the water whole heartedly followed by the dads, but the moms needed some coxing to get wet. Seemz was busy taking care of the food etc. and thus I was left with a none-too-happy child to babysit on my hands. Sidharth was OK for the most part, but she he did not eat well in the morning he was still quite grumpy. Prabhakar and me gave Anshul the heave-ho sending him headlong into water while Jayant and Vinod splashed around with their kids. Nita, Mamta, Arthi, and Audrey jumped into the water as well, taking in the near perfect temperature of the lake and the sparse crowds at the lake that day. Lot of splashing and plenty of machinations to drag the uninitiated ensued, but were met with limited success. Radhika would sprint at the sight of anybody coming out of the water, fearing that she might get dragged in and subsequently drenched. Bobby and Sidharth showed up at the beach, only to disappear soon afterwards to play volleyball with the boys. Though I wanted to join the guys for volleyball, I got vetoed by the missus in favor of keeping the kid from swimming by himself in the lake. Priorities!!!

Well lunch ensued soon thereafter, followed by a game of touch football, which was threatening to take took a menacing turn when some of us got overtly physical. But thanks to Bobby’s buttery fingers and John’s presence of mind we manage to rout our opponents and clinch the game. The birthday cake was cut by Sidharth and Seemz, in conformance with age old “smash it” traditions, deposited a sizeable portion of the cake and its icing on my face. Papa Joe’s an organic grocer next to our house was where we got this excellent raspberry cake and I taste morsels of this heavenly confectionary delight every day, thanks to the leftovers from the birthday. Rahul showed up soon thereafter, after completing his 175 mile bicycle race for MS from Detroit to Lansing and back. After some good natured ribbing and felicitations for Rahul we decided to call it a day at about 5:00 PM in the evening. A long day indeed and by the time we hit the sack it was directly to snooze land. We think that most of us had a good time and we shall try and make this an annual feature for Sidharths birthday. All those weeks of planning were well worth it because most kids, including Sidharth had a blast, and it would not have been possible with help from our friends here. Most adults, too, had a good time. We will cherish memories of this wonderful day for a long time to come.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Our baby turns two

Happy Birthday Precious. Its hard to believe that two years ago we got you as this tiny little bundle, so quiet and so serene. And now you drive your mother crazy!!! Thank you, for all the wonderful moments that has bought your mother and me unmitigated joy and happiness. We look forward to these moments for the rest of our lives.

Our wish for Sidharth, this excellent song by Lee Ann Womack, I hope you dance

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake
But it's worth making
Don't let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
I hope you dance
(Where those years have gone)

(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Juvenile Sex and Salman Khan

According to an article titled “Naughty aunty’s lover” in Mid-Day

“It was a mistake. Why do you want to reopen that chapter?” said 21-year-old Abrar Khatri. On Tuesday, a sessions court sentenced Persis William (40) to five years in jail for kidnapping Khatri and having sex with him in November 2000, when he was a minor.

But Khatri told Mid Day yesterday that he was unaware of the court’s judgement. The boy is now in college and is also involved in his dad’s export business.

Huda Khatri, his mother, admitted that her son had made a mistake, but attributed it to his impressionable age. After he was rescued, following William’s arrest in 2000, he was kept under virtual house arrest for eight months, she said.

Check out the entire article here. This kid Abrar Khatri hooked up with an aunty over the web for a jolly good time and poor aunty is now cooling her heels in jail. Meanwhile the kid, all of 21 now is back on the internet now, chatting up strangers, with his mother’s blessings.

Check out aunty’s side of the story here. Apparently she confides in her 16-year old servant after having sex with minors at her friends house. Her friends let her use their house, supposedly on “humanitarian grounds”. And you thought that Jackson case was now closes ! Loonies.

Speaking of loonies check out the transcripts of conversation between Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai here. Is this guy, Salman, a piece of work or what !!! Why do we call such imbeciles our heroes ? Now, Abrar Khatri is my hero. Yeah, you go boy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Statutory Warning: Too Much Info on blogs

According to this article on CNN, apparently bloggers are putting too much personal data on their blogs which may come back to bite them in the rear in the long run. Well obviously titillation and frivolous beats serious, impersonal rhetoric ranting any day. Else how does one explain the immense popularity of blogs like The Wonkette and The Compulsive Confessor when compared to contemplative and hard-hitting blogs like Dilip D’souzas ‘Death Ends Fun’ or Ashish Hanwaldikar's excellent blog with its eclectic and profound articles. Most of us want the light headed stuff, else yellow journalism may not have been a multi million dollar industry. Now if only I led a quasi-decent debonair lifestyle, maybe I would have juiced up my blog as well. For now, well just contend with stories about potty training !!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

And Prosperity for All

Lagaan of the modern day India – Imagine this, the local village hero Bhuvan SMS’s the popular village belle Rukmini, to meet him at the local watering hole, which Rukmini retrieves on her Blackberry handheld while listening to the Podcast of Ajmeri Baba’s daily mystic musings, at the local health spa and cycling on the Nordi-Trac furiously while the creepy Romeo in the cycling row behind her is salivating at the sight of her thongs sticking out of the spandex ‘Abercrombie & Fitch’ cycling shorts. Whew. Much later Bhuvan and Rukmini drive off into the sunset in his spanking new Boxster, while the Bang & Olufson speakers blare 50 Cents courtesy local satellite radio XM Akashvani, while the thong staring creep is left biting the dust, with a tube of Preparation H, for his hemorrhoids, from all that excessive cycling. And the lusty fornicating that follows in the nearby woods on the backseat of the Boxter will be recorded on Bhuvan’s Nokia 6800 to be MMS’s all across cyber world, much to the chagrin of local Nari Mukti Sangathans. Our very own desi ‘Forrest Hump’ the movie, life is like a box of dhoklas, you never know which one makes you fart.

If reports are to be believed, all this happening in Igatpuri, Machalipattinam or Jhumritaliya, thanks to the trickle effects of the BPO boom happening in India. Woohooo…Dhoom macha le,Dhoom macha le …Dhoom. Check out the entire article here

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan

Its not unusual for us to have our umbilical cords severed from our place of birth, and despite the best of standards of living anywhere in the world, the heart really calls just one place home, the place where you grow up. This may or may not be true for a lot of you, but definitely true for me, a hard core Bombayite. Having spent a good part of my childhood, schooling, and college years in Bombay, this is the only place in the world where I really feel at home. Despite my nomadic existence up to now which has taken me to Chennai Australia and all across the US, Bombay still enthralls me like no other place. People tend to have highly polarized views about this great metropolis, either loving it dearly or despising it heartily cus there is no middle ground when it comes to Bombay.

I have been reflecting on my perceptions of the city, and the reasons why the city still captures my imagination and these are the images that flash across the edifices of my mind when I close my eyes to the thoughts of my city

· Trying to make into the 8:57, 2nd class compartment of Churchgate fast, and gain a foothold on the doorway and let the scents and the scenes of the city wash over you during the ride to Churchgate

· Soccer with the boys at Juhu beach during the monsoons followed by Irish coffee at Prithvi. Wading in knee deep waters during the monsoon without an umbrella with the rain pelting your soaked body into submission

·Watch the waves crash into the rocks at Nariman Point while munching on peanuts

·Vada Pav at Sri Krishna Dadar , Pav Bhaji at Canon, Dabeli, Double Roti and Bhel puri at Charni Road, Pan from Muchhad, cold LP 5000 at Café Regal followed by Baida Roti and kebabs at Bade Miya.

·Sip on Gola Sherbat while watching the boys practice cricket at Azad Maidan

·Sleepy Parsi colonys on hot summer afternoons and not a soul is stirring

·Sipping juice at the Haji Ali Juice Center while watching the sun set behind Haji Ali

·Watch children play and lovers neck in those impossible cramped patches of shrubbery they call gardens

·Chappan Bhog Bengali sweets

·Ogle at the belles cavorting at Bandstand

·Gape at the magnificent view of the city from the viewing spot at Hanging Gardens

·Stand about 100 feet away and watch the majestic Victoria Terminus station and the bevy of activity emanating from this behemoth

·Watch sunrise with the joggers, walkers and the ‘Laughers Club’ at Juhu beach

·Chilled beer at The Taj while looking over the Gateway of India

·Watch the taporis dance with abject abandon on the streets during a wedding procession or Ganesh Chaturthi

·The crassness but still creatively ingenious idols during Ganesh Chaturthi. The masses at Juhu beach during the immersion of the Ganesh idols

·Slums around the airport when the plane touches down or takes off

·Savouring Udupi delicacies at Status restaurant, Nariman Point

·Watch Sachin Tendulkar live at the Wankhede, demolish the Aussies or the Pakistanis

·Absolute sincerity and conviction on the faces of the devotees at Siddhi Vinayak, Mahalaxmi temple, Mahim Church or Haji Ali

·Novena at the Mount Mary’s church, Bandra and attend a catholic wedding

·Watch the ‘Govinda Pyramids’ build human pyramids 20-30 feet tall during Janmasthami

·Revel in the color on the streets of Bombay during Holi

·Bheja Fry, Maska pau, pudding and chai at any Irani restaurant

·Stand and listen to a group listening to a cricket commentary when India is playing

·Feed the pigeons at Kabutarkhana or Gateway of India

·Watch the multitudes shopping at Linking Road, Chor Bazar or Zaveri Bazaar

·Listen to the crackers go all night during Diwali standing on your terrace

·Visit a temple early mornings on Diwali. People come decked in their very best

These are some of my reflections of my city, a city where though I was not born, but by all means I call home, a city to which several epics and ballads have been composed by the well known and not so well known, a city where I go back to the days of my youth and childhood, to warm happy memories, where I hope someday in the distant future, I bid adieu to life during a sunny warm Indian summer.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Comfortably Numb

I cannot even count the number of times this Pink Floyd song from ‘The Wall’ would have played on my Walkman during my probation days in TCS, Madras. I just loved to hear Roger Waters wail and Dave Gilmour get the guitar to cry, hours on end. ‘The child is grown, the dream is gone. I have become comfortably numb’. Those were the days when the rookies like me were thrown in to do the 16 hours shifts, parsing through thousands of lines of code, debugging and fixing arcane legacy mainframe code, eyes red and the mind too tired. I was comfortably numb and it really felt like we were nothing more than ‘Brick in the wall’.

Straight out of college, transferred to Madras in 1990, for the very first job of my life, was anything but exciting. The culture shock of relocation from Bombay to Chennai was immense, compounded by the fact that I was staying away from home for the very first time. Everything around me was foreign and bizarre, the language, the people, the customs, the food and the city. It was like being trapped in a cesspool of joyless existence with no way out, except for the weekend inebriation shared with fellow non-local TCS’ites.

We lived in an area, supposedly a hub of LTTE activities, behind a restaurant called Raja Bhavan on Nungambakkam High Road. Raja Bhavan served excellent idlis and filter coffee, and many a times it was my breakfast pit-stop after a weary 12 hours night shift. Our abode was a 2 bedroom apartment, shared by three of my TCS buddies. The building was surrounded by little tin and mud houses on all sides and we had to cavort through the dingy bylanes of these houses to get to our apartment buildings. The residents of the surrounding houses would be sprawled about or loiter around in their ‘lungis’ or ‘half-saris’ (parachutes as we referred to them) worn by the womenfolk, and would glare at us whenever we would pass by. Needless to say, we would walk briskly to the assumed safety of our apartment.

Chennai, obviously looks a lot different now, that it would in the late 80’s and early 90’s. With the bevy of overpasses and plethora of vehicular traffic, it’s metamorphosed almost overnight from a sleepy little village to a burgeoning metropolis. Going to the Marina beach over the weekend was pure joy. The beach is clean, unlike Juhu Beach in Bombay, and has a long stretch of walking space in the sand. Though you miss the Bhel-puri and ragda pattice stands that pander to eclectic palates in Bombay, Chennai had its share of “sundals” and other delicacies for the quintessential glutton.

Chennai does not seem to be in the same kind of hurry that Bombay does. Rickshawallas lazily queue up along the roadside and refuse to ply their vehicles if you refuse the price they quote for the ride. Shopkeepers do not seem as keen to sell their wares and domestic helps, well just like any other place in the world, seem indolent and indifferent. Despite having hated Chennai with a passion when I first visited it, it seems to have grown on me. Driving to the city from the airport it is one of the very few metros in India which had reminiscence of the old-world and trappings of the new-age economy. Houses next to plush five star hotels are still adorned with pictures of thousands of gods and goddesses and of course, cine-star Rajnikanth. Benzes, BMW’s, Toyota and Hondas fight for road space with housewives in “pattu” saris on their mopeds, half naked priests on their motorbikes, bullock carts, autorickshaws, bicycles and pedestrians. Permit rooms and bars are dotted all across this once conservative city and so are numerous Mexican, Thai, Italian, Mughlai and pure-veg, and most of them named Woodlands, restaurants. Sarvana Bhavan, a non-assuming super-efficient, lunch dinner place, supposedly has multiple branches now. Malls have raised their ugly heads in the suburbs, where once a coconut stand once stood with acre of unused land.

Needless to say, I have become “Comfortably Numb” to Chennai.

Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd

Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone home?
Come on, now.
I hear you're feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain,
Get you on your feet again.
I need some information first.
Just the basic facts,
Can you show me where it hurts?
There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're sayin'.
When I was a child I had a fever.
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I got that feeling once again.
I can't explain, you would not understand.
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.
Just a little pinprick.
There'll be no more ...Aaaaaahhhhh!
But you may feel a little sick.
Can you stand up?
I do believe it's working. Good.
That'll keep you going for the show.
Come on it's time to go.
There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're sayin'.
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb