In Wasabi, I met my Kryptonite!

Ah, wasabi and I haven’t been friends, we started off on the wrong foot. Twice I my life have I tasted the vile thing, both of the times it has snuck up on me in a work situation where I did not have the luxury to extract myself from the room.

The first time was when we were working late, and I was hungry. I saw a box of peanutes with the words Wasabi written over it. I had never eaten or seen Wasabi before (I come from another country). The packaging looked nice, resembled a similar snack my mum makes back home. So I took a handful and stuffed them in my mouth. What happened after required Kung Fu ninja skills of being able to control the spit and look completely normal. I kept nodding at my colleague who kept chatting, wondering when the ordeal will end. I swore never to touch anything which had wasabi written over it.

Little did I know that Wasabi wasn’t done with me yet, an year later after the first incident, I was visiting a customer’s local office in Paris. The team went for a takeaway for Lunch, opting for Sushi.

As a vegetarian Sushi never appealed to me, I didn’t bother with it. Who would want to eat bits of avocado/cucumber wrapped in rice, what’s the point of that? Little did I know that the tiny container of greenish chutney in the sushi box was my old enemy, waiting to strike.

We were busy chatting, they were asking me about my exotic land and I was responding with the most engaging stories to be told, up until I took a bite of the wasabi infused Sushi, I went quiet. This time it was much worse, there was no water nearby to soothen the suffering and I couldn’t even open my mouth to ask them where the water cooler was. Tears welled up, I tried to look away, I suspect they thought I got emotional about talking of my land…

Thus, in Wasabi, I met my kryptonite!

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Waiting for Apocalypse!

Ah, today is the penultimate day of life as we know it? I hope so, else the post title will defeat its purpose. The year draws to its close, and I find it difficult to summarize it, to keep it a short post.

How do I remember this year? Tragic and in a state of flux.

Why Tragic?

You see, we started off fine, with fireworks down at the lakeside, filled with hope, and a fresh beginning. While I proceeded to blow my weight loss goal and lost more hair on my scalp instead, the world took multiple weird turns.

Not too far away from where I live, I hear they discovered the God Particle, strangely they never could take a picture of this particle. Most people, still, do not understand the science behind it yet, they know the God Particle. The name probably indicates that God is somehow linked with this physical entity.

Olympics happened, our nation got more medals, 6 medals in all. Better but still a long way to go, Mary Kom didn’t get the gold, would have loved her to win. And yes, the IOC suspended our Indian sports boday. Speaking of sports, the CWG Scandal has still not output, and as the public suffers from amnesia,  Mr Kalmadi and others are out of jail.

Speaking of Scandals, lets see Telecom scam and Coalgate were the top names, but there is actually a Wikipedia entry on the summarized list of scams, should you need to remember the names for your next exam. If you look at the numbers, you’ll see that the economy is booming. So the scams were pointless, people exchange allegations, MPs didn’t let the parliament function and made a lot of noise with no outcome (all fart and no shit, ha?).

Oh and yes, they managed to hang Kasab. Also, the nation is burning in anger against the rape in Delhi. Hope we skip our amnesia just this once.

Enough said. What about the world?

Obama got re-elected, again. On the other hand two Armstrongs were in news: While Lance was blamed for doping, Neil died after taking mankind to the moon.

Global warming again affected our planet, with no outcome in Doha. EU Union got the Nobel Peace prize, I hope they don’t go pieces next year. Egypt is still not stable, Syria still burning.

What about tomorrow?

Oh the Apocalypse, well thats just pish-posh. The Mayans Y2K if you get the drift.
Chill out, party hard, get drunk and hope that the change of date will change your life for good.

Ciao

Weddiction?

Hmm…so in just about 9 days from now, I shall be locked in the chains of matrimony.

Its been more than 6 months since the day was decided upon with due consultation from the holy men, November being the wedding season in India, my D-day is on the 20.11.2011

For the past few weeks, with an increasing frequency (and thanks to Mr Zuckerberg’s facebook) I have been a party to these questions, the thing is, for most of them nobody believes my answers or they just drown my answers in their own way (of course with all good and sweet intentions). So here’s a primer,

  • Now that its just xyz days left. How do you feel? Honestly, I haven’t been feeling any different, am so far away from home that I don’t feel anything different than I normally do! But then, most people either feel something is wrong with me or am just not speaking the truth!
  • Aren’t you excited or nervous (or maybe scared)? To this the standard response is neutral, but people feel you are just denying the excitement…umm…but why would I do that?
    The fun part of this question is, most of my European colleagues refer to a phenomena called the cold-feet and they believe that we have a choice left till the last day to say I do. But I have explained them the dynamics of a few gazillion guests visiting you in an Indian wedding, and thus making your escape impossible. Hey, I don’t even know if you can successfully get a loo break in the process without being a victim of some humor. But honestly, am NOT over the top, neither am i scared to death. I have been trying hard to scare my fiance a bit, but she doesn’t seem to fall for my pranks yet!
  • Then there’s the classic, the statement that wedding resembles an sweet which those who don’t eat they regret, and those who do eat regret eating it! Hmm…surely they are referring to an obese person on a diet…who could not resist a donut…and then regrets eating it later. Anyways…am bored of this one, I was never regretting my not eating the sweet, was trying to defend it (click here), and I still don’t and I hope not to regret the next phase either. Afterall, I remained single by choice (or by other peoples’ choice?) and now I’ll be married by my choice. 
  • You don’t know what you are getting into! Hmm…well that holds true for anything we do in our own personal and professional lives. We step in with an assumption, give it our best and wish it turns out well.
But these are all questions from people who wish me well, and I respect that. Am thankful to them for being concerned, am not trying to mock them but cynical as I am, i cannot help commenting on it. Besides, when everyone else is going to be having some fun at my expense (literally) I do deserve to throw in a few jibes.
Below is the next set of top things which I’d expect to face on the wedding evening from various guests and well wishers(and the answers which I shall never speak).
  • Beta, how are you feeling? Umm…make a guess…there are a couple of hundred folks all at my wedding eating away all the food while I look at them…i have been smiling constantly for hours, haven’t slept in 3 days…there is no part of my body which isn’t in a state of rebellion. And yes, am dressed like a magician who is just going to pull up a bunny from his hat!
  • When did you arrive from Zurich? You are so lucky to be there, Switzerland is a very beautiful place. Yes indeed its a wonderful country, sadly I work there unlike most people who go there for fun…everyday i struggle to meet deadlines, attend meetings, cook food, communicate like an ape-like sign language to the kind Swiss folk who speak German, and yes…watch no TV as nothing is in English. And yes, I DO NOT see snow covered Alps out of my window (thanks a lot Yashraj Chopra)
  • Where are you going for honeymoon, oh wait…isn’t Switzerland a honeymoon destination? Umm…yes…but do you realize what month this is? Its November…do you know how cold it is in November? Sigh….
  • And the event called Jaimal(or the garland exchange)so here you are tired as hell…and the girl arrives and now you are supposed to exchange the garlands. But…and this is a big massive BUT…everyone now wants you to stand up and wait for the other person to do it first…and then there are a few overzealous cousins who want to lift you up so that the girl cannot reach out…Guys, do you realize, it hurts my bottom and the magician outfit doesn’t help either! Moreover, if you get tired of the joke and try to get over with this exchange of garlands, you are also labeled as a joru-ka-gulam (umm…means something like a slavish husband?). Honestly, guys I don’t care…you want to do the garland exchange after a few hours, fine by me, just allow me to sit down and chill!
  • Photographers and the likes, Oh don’t get me started on these creeps, they blow up a super warm light on your face to blind you, so that you don’t even realize whats happening behind their back! They charge you by the number of pictures they take, and then they fill it up with pictures of people gobbling up all the food you paid for and of young teenage female guests, who you probably don’t even know.
  • Cousins and the aunties and the uncles and the people who-you-are-meeting-the-first-time-yet-they-expect you to remember their name, Well…they are there to support you, or is it? They are there to make sure that no opportunity of pulling up a prank, joke or a snide remark is missed. Hmm…engineering college ragging was better? Maybe, but this has its own special charm (thats what I have been told)…ah well…once I get married, i can pull them up for the rest of my life… 🙂
  • Vidaai (the time when you take the bride with you after the wedding), this is an emotional moment, suddenly the bride starts weeping, all that extra layers of make up starts to wash away. But what about the groom? He stands there alone, feeling utterly guilty of taking the bride away. Its as if he is taking her away forcibly without her consent, and he is the villian of this story. Well..sweetie if you are feeling so bad, maybe you can stay for another day…I can take you home the next morning…just don’t cry okay!
I know many of my guests who may read this blog may not approve of it, don’t worry am thrilled to be married and I am glad that you all will be there to pull my leg and make sure that I don’t run away 🙂

My 2010 list of Social Networking Behaviour in India

As the year draws to an end with plenty of you looking forward to another year of bungled resolutions, I decided to sit back and create a list of my top 10 observations of Social networking behavior.

  • Top(and most Hated) Trending topic of the year: #justinbeiber
  • Yep, this 16 year old singer refused to leave the trending topics for over 6-8 weeks back from April to May. Much to the irritation of people like me who had never heard his music (and still refuse to do so). Thankfully twitter changed their trending topic algorithm, and we got respite from beiber fever!

  • Biggest Activism achievements of Indian Tweeple: Ensuring that the world doesn’t forget My Name is Khan, Commonwealth games and Media Mafia
  • 2010 was the year when tweets became an important source of news and gossip for the newspapers and news channels. However, tweeple took things in their own hands by relentlessly pushing for visibility of stories like the Media Mafia (or Nira Radia), CWG and MNIK.

    We the tweeple, somehow, represent the intelligentsia!

  • Biggest Loser of the year: Orkut
  • While Facebook went on to become home to 500 million users around the globe, Orkut has been already admitted to the ICU, dying a slow painful death. Our frequent gaffes at #orchutiyas who loved to send the gals a fraandship requests has just reduced the life span of Google social network.

  • Most Popular tweep of the year: @shashitharoor
  • While I’d love to claim the title for myself, but this gentleman was the paycheck Indian newspeople for a good 3-4 months. He was closely contested by one Mr Lalit Modi, well it did cost both of them serious troubles in their jobs. As for me, I was just happy that @shashitharoor once retweeted my tweet 🙂

  • Silliest Social Networking behaviour of the year: Its a tie between self like and hubby like (will explain below)
  • Self-Like, the event when the said user posts a message on his/her wall and then goes on to click the Like button herself. Behaviour bordering narcissistic I say!

    Hubby-Like, the event when a married/committed/uncommitted/committed-but-publicly-friends users mutually like each other’s wall posts on Facebook. Furthermore, they even chat on the said wall, even if they might be living in the same room or would have been a part of the posted photograph!

  • Most complex trending topic of the  year: #eyjafjallajokull
  • Ah well! The Icy nation shocked the world, and this time it-could-not-be-named threw the airline industry into a spin! Well, i still cannot pronounce it, had to google the spelling as well 😦

  • Most common view on my facebook feed in 2010: Relationship updates and the likes!
  • While the facebook feed resembles a wedding album for a good year now, its this view which is most common on facebook these days. XYZ is married – 5 likes, ABC is in a relationship – 6 likes, GHI is single – 4 likes. No matter what these people did, someone did like the change, and no it doesn’t mean that 4 people who liked the updated single guy status are chicks! No matter what you do, there are people to Like it (specially when Dislike is absent from the social network)

  • Biggest Indian twitter achievement of the year: #icionicIndianAds as a trending topic
  • It happened on the 2nd of February, #icionicIndianAds made it to the top of the trending topics on Twitter. I don’t know how many of you were a part of this frenzy, but i remember blowing upto 3 hours of office time on this trivial pursuit. Needless to say, it was an eventful day which I throughly enjoyed, thanks @dharmeshG! (this was before indian trending topics were introduced)

  • Top words on twitter profiles in 2010: photographer, journalist, actor and social media evangelist
  • The combination of these words my friend, is the holy grail of being popular on twitter. Chances are, that 9 of 10 people on your twitter timeline have one or more of these keywords in their profile. You ain’t a twitterati, if you ain’t got it!

    With this I shall end my 2010 list of social networks in India.

    If you’d like to follow me on twitter, click on @ankurmehrotra. Hope you have a great new year ahead!

Old Man and the Key

My appetite for mishaps and weird incidents reached a new level when I locked up myself in my apartment in Geneva. A story which led to me being the laughing stock of my office folks in Switzerland.

One evening, after an awfully long day at work I returned to my apartment, with my roommate still at work. This incident revolves around the two keys which were used to gain access to the building and then to the apartment.

After reaching early, I started attempting to cook dinner for the both of us. The roommate arrived below the building and called me up to come down and open the building door from inside. Tired and lazy I suggested to drop the key from our 5th floor apartment to him from the balcony. What happened next is an incident to remember!

I peeped out of the window and attempted my well practiced ‘key throw‘ towards my roommate. Little had I realized that Murphy’s Godforsaken law would pop up in the avatar of the vulgar façade protruding from the 1st floor of the building and stop its journey to the ground! The keys never reached the ground and decided to stay back on the first floor!

I realized what happened and like Robin muttered, ‘No problemo Batman I’ll come down and open the building door and then fetch the key by the help of the 1st floor apartment dude’.  With a hare like swiftness I sprung into action and ran towards my apartment door, only to realize that it wouldn’t open as I had locked myself in and had thrown the key downstairs! Yep, I could be featuring in the next episode of jailed abroad on Nat Geo! ( I did mutter a lot of F this and F that at this point!)

So now the roommate couldn’t get in the building and I couldn’t get out of the apartment. It was pretty late, we decided that he’d goto a friend’s place to stay for the night and morning will return with reinforcements.

Morning came and the roommate was on his way with a friend(the reinforcement?). I peeped outside the window to check if the key was there but the key was missing from the spot! Bollocks I say!

I had no way to figure out where had the key gone, the reinforcement suggested that the key was taken by a bird! Preposterous explanations for us! Anyways, they gained entry to the building and went to the 1st floor apartment only to find it locked. Next, they called the concierge but nobody picked.

Meanwhile I ended up calling the apartment lease broker for a spare key, they refused to help! I reminded them that the apartment is cleaned by cleaning staff which must be having a key. I then called up the cleaning people who couldn’t understand English! After a weird anglo-french conversation and they called back and promised to send someone over to open up the door!

After about 30 minutes a pretty lady opened the door, can’t express how glad I was to get out and see another human! I then ran to get a duplicate key made at the cost of around 800 INR!! But when I returned, I met this old man who had dropped a few keys and helped him by picking the keys and guiding him to the elevator. Somewhere in my heart I thought maybe those are my keys(I still didn’t have a building key!). Anyways, we entered the lift to test the duplicate key on the apartment, only to find this old man standing in front of our apartment fiddling with the original keys! He had braved all the way up to return our keys, I ran and thanked him in all languages I knew!

Background Story: The 1st floor apartment dude had picked the keys and kept them on our mailbox with a note. The old man picked the keys and left the same note behind. My roomate found the note but without the key, and had no idea who flicked it this time! Had lost all hopes and were annoyed as well…but then the old man turned up with the key!

Yes, my laziness cost us all a lot of distress 😦

Table for two please..or four?

“Get a big TV, don’t buy a small one. Get a 3 burner cooking range, two burners is too small”, with these instructions my daily phone call to Ma comes to an end. Its been less than 3 weeks since I moved to the new city and found myself a pad. Of course the place is empty and its been upto me to spruce it up the way I want it.

Equipped with a shoe string budget and purely functional needs in mind, I scoot off every now and then to the nearby home stores to add bits to my shack. At the end of each such visit I report back to Ma about my purchases and how it fits in well! Unfortunately Ma always has a different view, while I look at smaller furniture, small TV, small refrigerators…her demands are for the big stuff. Its unspoken but well understood that she wants me to buy everything according to how the needs shall be when I am married. It annoys me to no end but I always stop just short of explaining it to her, for I guess she may not comprehend it too well.

When I buy smaller stuff it gives me a comfort that I am still single, not getting sucked up into the family life just yet. Anything family size makes me aware that this freedom might end soon, its almost like marking my territory by buying things which are meant a single person to use…ay! even a dual burner seems to be an overkill in my kitchen! Constant trips to attend weddings of my friends who are now a part of this epidemic(as Barney said in HIMYM) doesn’t do me any good either, for she now thinks that I am ready to be domesticated.

For now I am winning the battle by citing financial constraints(which are partially true as well) but I know one day she’d have it her way, it would the day when Ma would visit me for a few weeks and change the landscape of the house buying comforts for her imaginary daughter-in-law whose name, arrival date, and whereabouts are still unknown.

*** Disclaimer ****

The house in the image isn’t mine(flicked off the net) and I am not getting married! So please don’t congratulate me and scare the bones out of me! 🙂

Hair strands falling off my head….

Yep! Like the French army fled against the British in the Battle of Agincourt, my hair strands have decided the give up and flee from my scalp. Needless to say it just takes away a bit more of the already low levels of self confidence I had about my looks.

If looking at the stranger in the mirror wasn’t enough, there are always infrequent observers(aka cousins and relatives) and the visits to barber which serve as a cruel reminder that I may be going bald.

A few months ago, on a visit to my home for a family event, a cousin observed, “Arre you have lost so much hair!”. Not only did i want to retort back by saying,”Oh yeah! When did this happen, they were all there like last night when i checked! Strange, I didn’t know!” I also wanted to top it off by boxing him in the face.

A few months later, a visit to the hair salon(the frequency of these trips have already dropped now!), the barber giggled and said,”Arre Sir! What happened, you have so little hair left on the scalp!” I just muttered,”You that means less revenue for you and more savings for me!”

Last month my sister send me a big bottle of shampoo from the US(yeah imported shampoo!), and it struck me…it could very well be the last bottle of shampoo I’d ever need!

Even dad now looks weirdly at me, I know he’s looking at the scalp and its last few battalions. I know that he is thinking, how could this egg-to-be ended up in my family of good haired people. Frankly, I haven’t gotten a clue, maybe its genetics or maybe its water…all I know is that with each passing day my head is getting smoother.

I know everyone would reach there in another decade, its just that I am reaching there first! I always liked to get attention, but being the only egg in the house doesn’t do me much good. Of course I’d expect the ladies to look beyond the obvious in me(while I may not be reciprocating that!)…and yes research says that balding is also a sign of virility!(Okay my only selling point!)

Neither is it controllable, nor did I bring it upon me! But my hairs have decided to flee.

PS-Did you ever notice, that the MD of Marico(of all hair products like Parachute etc…) is bald! 😉

iPad or a bigger iPod touch

Since half of the world and almost all of twitter was in a iPad/iSlate frenzy yesterday; I have decided to bank on the internet trend and get my blog a few hits today 😉

To the uninitiated (really? You haven’t heard of the Apple iPad yet? Wake up!), an Apple iPad is a 9.7″x7″ touch device which is barely half-an-inch thick and allows you to play audio, watch TV, video, run applications off App Store and surf the internet on 3G, cellular networks and of course Wi Fi. It comes in capacities of 16GB, 32GB and 64GB and runs a 1 GB processor.

It also boasts of a finger print resistant coating (oh yeah, now i could kill someone with an iPad and not worry about those nasty prints for CSI) on the screen.

Well the price is pretty high $499 to $899

Honestly, I feel that my 16GB iPod touch is just a smaller iPad!! Features aren’t too different, maybe applications later would make all the difference! Carrying the device maybe a pain, afterall it isn’t a netbook and it can’t fit in your pocket.

On the marketing front, Apple got plenty of free Internet Buzz…lucky them! But naming could have been different iPad sounds like a sanitary pad!

Even though it doesn’t have a camera, is over priced, cannot multitask, is just a bigger iPod touch…i’d still want it ‘coz its cool and its from Apple (sigh! I can already head Admiral Ackabar screaming: It’s a  ‘Marketing’ trap!)

The things-to-do-before-I-am-30 List

Making lists and organizing days is not really my cup of coffee (yea, i prefer replacing tea with coffee). Cutting to the chase I have been making a list…like a lot of people do. A list of things to do before I am 30..yes I know its a long way to go. But well, you gotta start some day why not start as early as 5 years before the deadline?

Here it goes:

  1. Visit 5 countries outside the Indian sub continent.
  2. Learn to play a musical instrument (no specifics which one). I am tired of playing this compter keyboard!
  3. Learn to paint using water colors (I mean learning formally and not just dabbling around).
  4. Try Skydiving – Well, am a wimp when taken to heights. I presume this is the toughest of the lot for me to even attempt. I guess its also about conquering one of your worst fears!
  5. Play in snow – Can you believe this? I have never ever touched snow!

To be continued…

Walking Stick blues…

Just think of this, what is the probability of losing the ferrule(the rubber knob at the base) of my walking stick into a manhole with small circular holes just big enough to fit in the ferrule and the walking stick?

So here I was returning from breakfast, limping my way back to the hostel when I somehow managed to slip in a part of my walking stick into one of the 6-7 circular holes of this cement manhole cover! Before I could realize the implications, I pulled the stick out..and Lo behond it came out sans the ferrule!

Mortified, Petrified and stupified I went back to my room…attempting to find a temporary fix to the problem. For this I also raised a question on Yahoo! Answers.

Current update is that I do have a temporary fix in place. Still looking for a better one.

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