Thursday, October 27, 2005

The fourth ' W '

Posted by Picasa rain, rain, go away...

It was from one of my friends that I had come to know that Bangalore was called the land of 3 ‘W’s – namely Weather, Wine and Women. However, he seems to have forgotten the months October and November while he made the statement and with it, the fourth and a very prominent ‘W’ – Water.

Cometh the months of October and November (my first in Bangalore), the fourth ‘W’ pours upon you with all the vigor and mercilessness of Mother Nature. The elements have this way of giving us human beings a wake-up call as if telling us – ‘You guys are so helpless.’ The humbling effect – that is what I would call it.

Rains in Bangalore, I have noticed, have this weird habit common among the vampires and similar creatures. They strike you close to sunset. They strike you just hwne you are planning on having a heavy dinner after having skipped you lunch; just as you are planning to down two gulps of whisky and sleeping tight. They strike you with equal ferocity as the above mentioned nocturnal creatures and leave their marks behind; much bigger than those two little puncture marks ‘the Count’ leaves behind.

I left Delhi supposing Bangalore to be the place where good weather resides alongside the crowded IT industry. The realization that Utopia exists only in books glared at me on the day I went to give my third interview in 40 days. I had hardly left home with a printed set of my press ads (as advised by a wise man from Euro RSCG) when the first signs of doom showed up. Airport road for all its beauty and the long stretch doesn’t have a single shelter for almost half length of the stretch. When it rains, the mouth that was full of praises for the road turns to one full of words that have been avoided from the English Dictionary. As a result, I stood under a tree, which was not opaque enough for my comfort, covering my head with a bag (borrowed from a friend, who was sleeping peacefully unaware of the torment I was putting his bag through…) and in the process, drenching every bit of drenchable material that was in it. Finally the sun smiled, a rather wry one. I raced to my bike, not bothering to wipe the seat dry with my bottom, which couldn’t have helped it any way. I sped. In less than 3 minutes, I was stranded at a traffic signal, with nowhere to run or hide.

I reached the infamous Brigade road and was a moving spectacle to the by-standers, all of whom were dry and well-sheltered. I drove into what was a private parking space. Seeing my pathetic state, the human being that was the guard did not make an effort to stop me. Nice him. I rewarded his humaneness with a cigarette which was promptly lighted and shamelessly shared. When you are shivering, etiquettes are not the first things on your mind. I called up my interviewer, cribbed about the trouble I was having with the rain, and delayed the interview by half an hour by promising to be at the office as soon as I won the battle with nature.

Another thing I need to mention about Bangalore is the number of one-ways. Surprisingly, they are not visible to the maverick riding a bike on a sunny day heading to a pub that is home away from home. When it is raining heavily and when you aren’t sure of your destination, the one-ways are more prominent than ever. I parked my bike, knowing well that it would be easier to swim than add a 150-odd pounds’ vehicle to my misery. I walked through knee deep water for half an hour and with the assistance from some helpful Bangaloreans, managed to get back to where I started. I have been in Bangalore for 2 months and I realized that I was where I had begun only when I saw a familiar Bajaj Discover.

In an hour, I reached Opus CDM, a turbid sponge and half an hour late upon half an hour delayed. The interview went well despite my ‘merman’ looks and shattered pieces of my press ads(which for one moment resembled shattered dreams). The rain was at its peak by the time(in accordance with the vampire characteristic I mentioned earlier) I left the Opus office.

Bangalore is full of surprises. You never get back to the place you have started from, by taking the same road back. Numerous one-way menaces await you on your trip back. I had to take a road I had never taken to get back to my place. There were water bodies everywhere. Two wheelers either side of me were breaking down or making wild noises as I passed them on my bike. I was rowing my bike more than I was driving it by that time. I was closely following one of those PYTs and to my distress, her bike was sidelined by the waves caused by a huge inconsiderate SUV that passed by. ‘Bloody Snob’, I murmured, as the only thing that drove me on the flooded roads was taken away from me.

The mechanics had their shops closed and had gathered on either side of the troubled waters. Newspapers glorified them by calling them ‘Samaritans’ who were acting saviors to the ones in distress. It might sound cynical, but to me they were no more than vultures waiting for their prey. You can see the glint in their eyes the moment your bike showed symptoms of breaking down. I survived the vultures and the flood, thanks to Bajaj Auto Limited.

The endeavour that would make Gulliver’s efforts trifle, came to an end after two of the longest hours of my life (the ride under normal conditions would have taken hardly 20 minutes). I opened the door to my house and literally fell in. My roomie turned back, looked at me from head to toe, smiled sarcastically and asked politely, ‘Were you caught in a Tsunami?’ Little did he know that he was ‘this’ close to the truth.

a phony tale

Posted by Picasa the devil in a grey dress

‘Pick up the phone. Pick up the f****** phone!’ I heard the shout at least three times before I realized the origin of the oracle. It was my phone, it was my voice, it was in my pocket and it was ringing!

My phone is a Nokia 7650. I bought it a month after coming to Bangalore and I did not buy it at an antique shop. Didn’t I just read your mind? I had a Nokia 2300 phone when I was in Delhi. Unfortunately, a fellow passenger took a fancy for it and before I knew, he took more than just a fancy. I was left stranded and phone-less.

National Market near majestic is a shopper’s paradise - that is if you are a master at bargain. Other wise it is as good as going aboard a pirate’s ship with a crate of gold. Naveen, my shopping companion and senior from school, was boasting about his vast experience in the ‘art of bargaining’ gathered during his seven year reign in Bangalore as he dragged me through a congested alley. There were shops on either side selling things that ranged from a thumb-ring to a home-theater system. The shopkeepers looked as if they wanted a piece of me as they extended their hands towards us - supposedly waving, but slightly more physical in nature.

There it is, or rather, there they are – an unending line of shops selling mobile phones. Let me be frank, I did not take Naveen along for his bargaining skills (for I am a great bargainer myself); I took him along because my knowledge about mobile phones was limited to – ‘a portable species of phones which reduces in size every 2nd month.’ My eyes were scanning the whole place, and honestly, they did not convey much information to my brain. Naveen took hold of the opportunity and started off a highly jargonized conversation with the shopkeeper. He was talking about the camera configuration, the internal memory, Bluetooth (hey, I thought Bluetooth was used in computers), Infra-red(WTF?) and loads of other things which took turns in sounding Greek and Latin to my ears.

‘Dude, how about this one?’ My eyes leaped out of their sockets at the sight of the ‘thing’ that he held in his hand. Love at first sight literally. As I checked out the camera on the phone, my eyes leaped a step further out. I did not even bother to bargain. I bought it.
For the next half an hour, the owner of the phone(me) was completely ignored by the prospective user of the phone(Naveen, as it seemed to me) Excuse me reader. At this point I would like to bring to your attention the fact that this is a second-hand phone. This model is not available in the market anymore, and it is one hell of a job to change its outer casing. All of these facts, expect the first one, were not imparted to me by my enthusiastic friend, who had by now discovered every possible nuance in my phone. He further persuaded me to take a ‘Hutch Connection’ simply because he had one and he could make calls from one hutch phone to another at a lower rate. How interesting would that be. Chatting away to glory with a guy who was my roomie, whom I saw for 12 hours everyday. The higher STD rates and poor connectivity were incentives which I would later be aware of.

‘You paid 5k for this Iron Box!’ are not exactly the words you like to hear when you proudly present the phone before your room-mate. I tried to repeat everything the shopkeeper had told me about this amazing gadget. ‘So what’s the big deal? You have got an Iron Box with Bluetooth connectivity and a 1.1 mega pixel camera,’ was the prompt reply. I walked to the balcony, with an ‘I don’t give a damn’ look,’ and made plans for my inaugural call.

‘I can’t hear you!’ replaced ‘hello mom’ as the first words spoken into my phone. I rushed to the kitchen (the quietest place in my house) and replaced the ‘I can’t hear you’ with ‘How are you mom?’ I asked her to call me back as I have been a miser all my life.
The call never came. After half an hour when I picked up the phone, the message on the screen read – ‘3 missed calls.’ I had just discovered the first of the shortcomings.

The camera however was a stunner. Wow! That is cool, I thought. A week later, the camera started losing its eagle eye and showing its true colour. I was knee deep in thick shit. Wait a second! I have Bluetooth and all that jazz. Let the camera and the speakers go to hell. I still have got my Bluetooth working perfectly. Bluetooth came into the act two weeks later. It accepted comwarrior.sys (which I initially thought was a game from a good friends and which I later identified as a virus from a complete stranger) which in turn impregnated my outbox with innumerable picture messages.

2 months have gone by since I was transformed from a prince to a pauper. Quoting my friend – ‘I am left with an Iron Box that is deaf, dumb, blind and with a viral infection.