The League of Extraordinary Colleagues

What makes a workplace workable? Colleagues.You may work in the glitziest of buldings,you may have the most important job profile ever granted to a human being,you may have the poshest cabin in the entire office,but without colleagues around,all that comes to naught.

Colleagues come in a wide variety of sizes,attitudes and preferences.Though most of them safely fall under the dome of the normal distribution curve,some swing to extremes.I’ve had the distinct pleasure of being acquainted with some such people.

During a team dinner some months ago,as we gathered around the long mahogany table,its surface reflecting the brilliance of the chandelier above,a portly guy walked in with a bowed head,unshaven face and measured step.Much like a poet brooding over the meter of his latest poem,he quietly took his place.He stared at his shoelaces for a while and then looked at the floor pattern.As everyone broke the  ice with the usual jovial banter,this guy just sat with the same bowed head and looked reverentially at the dinner menu.Only a few words of introduction could be squeezed out of him.Months later,when we regrouped in a new place to start a project,hoots of laughter could be heard from somewhere.Every two minutes of this laughter would be interspersed with a two second silence.We wondered who the perpetrator was.Out comes the poet,clean shaven,bursting with energy from an unknown source and practically hopping from one place to another.Turns out,he was a fish out of water in the team dinner.This guy cannot go farther than three words without letting loose a barrel of highly infectious laughter.He also happens to know a lot of statistics and facts about government jobs.One of the team members had just secured a government posting and when a fellow  colleague innocently miscalculated the remuneration,he jumped up and down,waved indignantly and rattled off all the latest policies with regards to the pay scale.While the two battled it out in the boardroom,the appointee looked hopelessly lost.(What was the remuneration anyway?)

Moving along the spectrum,we also have the fitness enthusiasts.These are people who will give you a smug smile as they virtuously sip on their carrot juice and watch you guzzle coffee every hour,spreading the wonderful nutrition all through your body.They are the ones who creep up behind you in the cafeteria,as you’re balancing your plate and palate with some greasy looking fries and a gallon of ice cream,and munch cucumber and watermelon slices with aplomb,while you valiantly try to digest the saturated fats rushing through your arteries.They are the ones who,when you make the bad decision to climb stairs for the first time in your office life,demonstrate their marathoner skills without a second thought and throw pearls of wisdom along the way.You,on the other hand,huff and puff your way around the stupid staircase,which never seems to end,while cursing everything within a fifty feet vicinity.

One such guy I know lives in the badminton court.The swimming pool is his summer home.He occasionally goes home,says hi to his folks and rushes back to  his beloved court.He plays every sport known to mankind with the same dogged determination and tries to inflict the same to other hapless souls.A crusader of walking,he first baits you with the promise of an enriching journey.Your tired mind tries to stave off the threat,but you’re much too genial to say no.There,you start walking together.Nice trees pass you by,as do friendly earthworms and an occasional rabbit.You take a deep breath and start appreciating Mother Nature and feel sorry for not doing so before.You turn to your right and realize your companion is nowhere to be found.You panic and look hither and thither.Oh there he is.About fifty yards ahead of you,jauntily striding along the path.He looks at you with his piercing eyes and shakes his head in pity.You mumble apologies for being slow and try to keep pace with him.When the destination appears,he smiles in all his glory,cheeks infused with blood and healthy muscles in all their crowning glory.You wheeze and pant and smile weakly,hoping never to cross paths with the crusader again.

I have to hide now.The fitness people are passing by.

Advertisements

Life As I Knew It- Part One

So,here I am,in Mohali,far far away from Hyderabad.We’re a part of a huge team working relentlessly to build a new Indian School of Business in Punjab.

Living in a city completely alien to you does different things to different people.Some take to the change like a fish takes to water,some hit a few road bumps and dawdle around and some,like me,arrive with enthusiasm bursting at the seams and as reality hits,sag into a sorry lump of humanity,hoping and praying for their senses to return from their extended vacation and help them enjoy the experience.

The first week of my stay at Chandigarh was spent staring at the hotel room ceiling.Occasionally,the window too.A fever had somehow found my address and had quite overstayed its welcome.The hotel we were put up at was one of the very best.Superb hospitality,fantastic cuisines and soft,warm beds,extremely inviting and cozily made up.The hotel stay taught me irony in a cruel fashion.All those succulent dishes to eat,but a massive stomach upset ensured I could only gulp hot soup with pepper and watch my colleagues devour one tasty dish after another.

The house hunt,which began in the middle of the week,soon sapped us of the last vestiges of energy left.The houses were either too small or too dark or way beyond our means.We almost decided to build one ourselves and use some exercise,but God intervened and saved us the trouble.We got a house.The interrogation we went through and the number of identification papers we had to produce was at par with international standards.Movie wise,I mean.

A huge,empty house welcomed us with wide open windows and doors,letting in all the sunlight,dust and friendly bacteria and viruses.Just to say hello to the new tenants.To buy a bed was the next thing on our checklist and off we went to a second hand furniture store.We haggled and pleaded with the dealer into selling two rickety beds and a couple of lumpy mattresses.Getting them all the way up to the second floor was a noteworthy achievement,given that the staircase was built to topple human beings.

I am scared of my bed.I’m afraid if I put just the tiniest bit of pressure more than what is currently being applied,it will give way.I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to ensure that my bed is on four legs.The mattress will flatten before I do,and will soon merge with the wood of the bed before the end of the month,I’m sure of that.

New mathematics.A mug equals a bucket.How, you ask.Lacking a bucket,we each bought a huge mug and now stand in front of the tap,waiting for the mug to fill and then bathe.It’s a very stimulating exercise,one that gives a perspective on what’s important in life.

Food.We recall our hotel days with a fond nostalgia,with a lot of wistfulness thrown in.Sandwiches are a staple food item in our diet,as are Lays chips ( baked,not fried) and biscuits.Several hours of mind numbness later,we hit upon the idea of hiring a tiffin service for our dinners.Sometimes it’s rajma as a vegetable,sometimes it’s rajma as a dal.But it’s always there,glaring at you,challenging you to finish it till the last drop.

This is Week One of our settling in.More updates as the weeks go by.

Hope my bed lives to see the dawn of another day.

Networking Sights

Until a few years ago,the only networking I knew was when someone would ask me,”Net working?” and I’d reply in the affirmative or negative.It was only after entering the third and final year of college that a senior introduced me to Orkut and made me sign up.She was horrified to discover my utter lack of knowledge about the networking site and immediately began a series of tutorials,hoping to get me onto the networking bandwagon.Facebook followed soon after,along with Twitter,MySpace and LinkedIn.I felt immensely proud of myself every time I opened an account with a networking site.I was now a part of the networking junta,and could converse easily with the other “sited” people and assume an air of mild condescence when talking to a non-site person.”I got poked” “Fifty people just liked my comment” “My comment got RTed twenty times”.The poor blokes would stare at me with their mouths slightly open,and listen attentively to this new language emerging from my mouth.

Social networking sites boomed out of nowhere and became ingrained in our tech DNA.Not having a profile on a site automatically renders you to an alien category.”You don’t have a Facebook profile?Omg,are you like,even from this planet?” Two of my colleagues were engaged in an intense chatting session in office.It would’ve been a normal situation but for the fact that they were sitting right next to each other.

You do anything,you put in on your profile.Woke up at 6 am today and had noodles for breakfast?Got a new phone? Cried after watching Casablanca? Read Dostoevsky? Put it all on your profile.Watch the sea of comments emerge.Counter comment.Block offensive comments.Poke people back.Send them virtual gifts.Oh,also become a farmer online.Have your own crops,till the land,plant exotic vegetables and fruits.Or you can also open a cafe and see it flourish.If not feeling particularly up to it,let your neighbor’s crops wither and die.But be prepared for a mega poke from him.

Virtual friends outnumber the flesh and blood ones.570 friends.700 friends.I even saw a profile with 10,000 friends.Chatting with ten people simultaneously is easy compared to having a heart-to-heart with a trusted buddy.Watching photos on a computer screen can never rival flipping through an album with friends all around you,laughing and sharing memories.I particuarly cringe when someone mentions e-readers.How can the glossy glass surface of an e-reader possibly match up to a real book,with real pages,smelling of old wood and print?

True,these sites have definitely connected billions of people.I’ve found and am in touch with almost all of my classmates since kindergarten.That’s an amazing feat of technology.To find people and information from any corner of the globe.True,I like it when someone “Likes” my comment or posts a compliment on my photos.True,I like it when I am able to chat with my old schoolmates and keep in touch with their lives.But also true is the fact that no networking site,no simulation program can ever replace real human emotions and real human touch.You might go online and dive into all the sites possible,but at the end of the day,you just want to turn the darn thing off and race home to a good meal,a warm hug,a meaningful conversation and a good night’s sleep.

***********************************************************************************************************

Heard the other day.

Two of my colleagues talking.One of them,not so tech savvy.

C1(into the phone):Are you online?

C2:(puzzled):Yes.

C1:But I can’t see your status here.

C2(more puzzled):What status?

C1(irritated):Uff..your status.Status online.

C2(angry now):Listen.I’m on the line.What are you talking about?What status?

C1:Wait a sec.Did you say on the line?

C2(really angry):Of course,you genius.How can I talk to you otherwise?I’m on this line.

C1(understanding):Oh.You’re offline,but on the line.I get it.

C2(putting the phone down and walking away,shaking her head)

Minding Your P’s and Queues

To a rank and uninformed outsider,India would seem to be a land of snakes,their charmers,rogue elephants,cattle herds running amok between traffic,BPOs,Bollywood,stench,paan spittle,uneven roads,sometimes no roads at all….The list goes on.But there’s something which every Indian is familiar with.And studiously ignores as well.

A queue.

Defined as “a line or sequence of people or vehicles awaiting their turn to be attended to or to proceed” by the Oxford English Dictionary,it simply means a waste of time for us.Why should we stand in a queue?A queue is for people who are too meek to get their way.Survival of the fittest,said Darwin.We took it literally.Pushing and shoving one another to get to the front of a line,if any,requires an amazingly fit body and an even fitter mind.In order to survive the surge of humanity bearing down upon you,you need all your mental faculties in place.

We recently went on a trip to Shirdi.To say that we survived the trip unscathed is a testimony of God’s presence.I became a believer.

A queue,did you say? Uff yaar,time waste.We’re extremely time conscious.For a 7 pm wedding reception,we’ll always be two hours late.Not more,mind you.Only two hours.Queues also mean having to wait till your turn arrives.Wait a minute.Wasn’t patience a virtue with all Indians?Then why this cribbing?Because though we have ample training in patience,we have also acquired a PhD in Me-First.How can another person get served before me?No way.And off you go,jumping queues like kangaroos in a hurry.

Queue cutters are looked upon with awe.They are masters of the jumping movement.You can easily spot them in a queue.They’re the ones with a gleam in their eyes,a twitch in their arms and constantly crane their necks to find that tiny gap in the queue.It only takes a second for these jumpers to make their move.The person in front of them will never know what hit him.He’ll stand gaping like a goldfish while the jumper merrily saunters ahead,wearing a smug expression on his face.No amount of protest will work with them.The high decibels emanating from their throats and the Hulk-like demeanor will subdue the poor protestor within minutes.

Many interesting characters are found in queues.The watch-checker,who sighs and shifts feet with every passing minute to indicate his importance;the gossip who delightfully recounts the events of the day before to anyone who shows a slight sliver of interest;the harried mother with an increasingly irritable toddler;the surly office worker who has sacrificed her lunch break to get the work done;anxious college going souls who have just managed to make the deadline for their exam form receipts.

A queue is something which has always been around and will never go away.Wouldn’t it be infinitely better if we started minding our pleases and thank-“queues”?

A Wedding Scene

Weddings are the only instances when I wish I were a guy.Getting up late and doing no work?Check.Getting away with wearing a jeans and a shirt?Check.Sneaking off in the middle of the ceremony to stuff yourself with food?Check.Ducking away every time relatives approach you for any matrimony related gyaan?Check.Don’t get me wrong.Women are lovely,nice people when not preparing for a wedding.When they do,it’s like  they undergo a transformation.They shriek,yell,holler and run hither and thither.You keep women and weddings separate,there’s harmony.When the two collide,it’s utter chaos.Here’s a scene from a real life wedding which I witnessed at close quarters.

(Dozens of bejeweled women sitting on the floor,surrounded by boxes of wedding-y stuff.A couple of men scattered around the room,quietly trying to watch TV)

Woman#1: These sarees go in this box.The ones which we have to give to the boy’s family go in this suitcase.Hey! no jumping on the bed.The invitations are still lying there.Why doesn’t anyone do anything around here?Am I the only one who has to keep track of all these things? I really—-”

Woman#3:I just came back from the parlor.I went at around 11:30 and they took forever to do my facial.I tell you,these parlors nowadays have become so high and mighty.And look at my hair,the color’s still not right.I didn’t pay them the full amount. And you know—-”

Woman#2: Why do we have to give this nice sari to (so and so relative)? I mean,has she ever invited us to any of the functions in her family?I’m not going to give her this one.(Rummages for another less expensive saree).There.This is much better.What does she think of herself—-”

(One of the men gingerly shifts his position to view the TV better and drops the remote in the process)

Woman#5:Oof.So clumsy.Cannot even take care of the remote.You can help us,instead of watching this stupid match.Why do you even watch the match?What fun is there in watching a dozen men run after a small ball?Oh God,kids,watch those invitations,do not step on them.Will you listen—-”

Man#1:(inaudible)

Woman#10:What?I can’t hear what you’re saying.

Man#1:How can I help?

Woman#7:You can start by sorting these into three categories.One,for the boy’s side,two for the ones we’ll be giving to the bride and three…(to Woman#4) which is the last category?

Woman#4:I’m not sure.Let me recall what grandmother told us to do.(Starts the recall).Oh yes.The third category is extra.

Man#2:(blankly):Extra?

Woman#5:Ya,you know,if more people turn up than what was expected,we need to have extra gifts in hand to give them.We cannot fall short of anything.

Man#1:If we have distributed a certain number of invitations,why will there be extra people?

Woman#1(exasperated):Arree,what if some friends of the people decide to join them?We cannot say no to more people.After all,it’s a wedding.The more,the merrier.

Woman#8:How will we leave for the venue tomorrow?There are three cars and twenty-five of us,plus a house full of gifts.I was thinking,we should hire a truck to transport the gifts and other stuff earlier in the day and then we can all go there.

(A discussion about the transport logistics begins.Three women support one idea,four are on the other side and the others are busy packing the wedding stuff inside boxes.The bride-to-be arrives)

B2B:Where’s all my jewelry?I want to see each piece again and color coordinate it with my dresses.I want to match all my accessories now.I won’t have time afterwards.

Woman#9:But we’re just packing it all up.

B2B:No no no no no no pleeease.Open it up again.

(Color coordination begins and never ends.Both men have left the room by now and are in the adjoining room,watching the match.

Man#1:Busy day tomorrow,eh?

Man#2:Yeah.

Tried,Tested and Examined

Ever wonder how many exams each one of us,on an average,goes through? Right from the innocent first grade to the cutthroat jungle of later years,all of us have gone through the rigmarole,some more than the others.Begin with childhood.A three year old kid is whisked off to a chic playschool by his eager parents.Even before the mite can understand,he or she is carefully taught nursery rhymes,the alphabet and numeric exercises,all this to please and impress the school authorities.Getting one’s kid admitted into a posh preschool is a matter of extreme importance in this era.There.The kid is packed off to class along with other carefully screened three year olds,all of them dutifully spouting lines of verse in a language building class and putting together playing blocks in an intellectual activity class. Innocence be damned,we want our kids to grow up into polished and suave adults.

Next come the primary school years.Starting from grade one to grade five or six,these years are marked by a continual and consistent series of exams which arrive with unfailing regularity.Given the fine examination structure of our country,where the mind is always put to the test with questions warranting insight,like “define so-and-so” and “describe the structure of this” and “draw a neatly labelled diagram of this insect”,it’s no wonder that our kids develop fine questioning,analytical and reasoning skills by the time they reach middle and high school,where another set of unique exams await them.We have the mid-term,first term,second term exams,with the ubiquitous unit tests popping up in between,before the finals present themselves.The final exams,most importantly,those for the tenth and twelfth grade kids,are your basic Litmus tests.Most of the times,kids turn blue after losing all oxygen to the rigorous exam prep whereupon their parents see red.Even purple.The outcome of these exams seal the kid’s future forever.The percentage scored on the exams is a status symbol for the parents.That’s my 98.5568% daughter there.Accepted into IIT Delhi.Next step?Of course IIM-A.What does she want?Um…never asked.Oh you’re a 90% percent parent?That’s the line for you,over there.Go on.

AIEEE,IIT,EAMCET,PMT,AIPMT.Acronyms that instill nameless dread amongst the student population.Studying for the tests instantly transforms one into a wandering,bleary eyed ghost.For what purpose,you ask?Nobody knows.Just as nobody has any clue as to why India produces so many engineers and doctors on a yearly basis.

Words I understand perfectly:Engineering,medicine,accountancy,commerce,management.

Dictionary,please:Sociology,psychology,library science.

Alien dictionary,please:Museology,fresco painting,monument repairing,manuscript restoring.

The graduate who emerges from the country’s college has another set of exams awaiting him.CAT,MAT,GMAT,GRE,NET,SLET,JRF.Now,these exams are not the wondrous pieces of intellectual exercises as were practised in school.They are direct,brutal and fundamental to the core.So,our highly engineered and suave graduate has to go back to his roots to have a go at them.Academics do not have it easy either.You’ve got a pre PhD,a JRF,an SRF,a candidacy paper,the PhD and also the Post Doctoral Fellow degree.

We are examined at every step of our lives.We are like guinea pigs in God’s experiments,constantly running from one exam to the other,fulfilling criteria,posting forms,collecting hall tickets,dreading the results.Is God more Pavlovian or Skinnerian?You pick.

Learning never ceases.Apparently,neither do exams.

My Top Five-Animated Motion Pictures

I’ve fallen in love with animated motion pictures.There is something extremely endearing about watching the animated characters go about their business,you guessed it,animatedly. Graphics and animation are extremely complicated and I doff my hat to anyone who can make a figure on a piece of paper and then breathe life into it. Here is a list of five of my all time favorite animated movies.

5.Bee Movie:

    This was my first experience of watching a full feature length animated movie on television. Bee Movie follows the life of a newly graduated bee,Barry B. Benson (voiced by Jerry Seinfeld) who is dismayed and discouraged by the thought of making honey his entire life.Being the ebullient bee that he is,he yearns for adventure and wants to explore new career avenues.A chance trip to a supermarket has him discover,to his horror,that humans have been exploiting bees for centuries,by taking away their honey from them.He resolves to sue the human race.He is aided in his endeavor by a florist Vanessa Bloom ( Ren`ee Zellweger) who saves his life twice, and Adam Flayman (Matthew Broderick) who is Barry’s best friend and acts as his attorney on the case.Barry also makes friends with Mooseblood the Mosquito and myriad other insects he encounters along the way.He wins the lawsuit against the human race but at terrible price. Barry then sets about repairing the damage he has caused and the movie ends with Mooseblood the Mosquito (Chris Rock), now an attorney himself,patiently listening to the woes of a cow,telling him about how her milk is exploited by humans. I specially loved the part where we’re shown how a hive functions and how honey is made. Perhaps not exactly and technically correct, I give it full marks for imagination and a plausible storyline.Of course,having Jerry Seinfeld on board doesn’t hurt,either.

4.Horton Hears a Who!

This movie came out in 2008. It tells the story of a jolly and peace loving elephant, Horton (Jim Carrey) who lives in the jungle of Nool with his friends and spends all day splashing about in the water.His entire world changes when,one fine day, he hears tiny yelps coming from a speck of dust and discovers a complete world within the speck,known as Whoville.The city’s mayor,Ned McDodd (Steve Carell) and Horton begin exchanging notes through a huge horn and Horton learns that Whoville will be destroyed unless moved to a more stable home.Horton takes it upon himself to find his new friends a suitable home and the rest of the movie trails Horton and his (mis)adventures while trying to accomplish his objective. What I loved about this movie was the multidimensional portrayal of the creatures.Like, the mayor of Whoville has a huge family,comprising of a wife,96 daughters and 1 son,who is reluctant to become the next mayor and instead wants to become an astronomer. The worries,concerns and fears of the Whoville residents are as real as any of ours. Though not a big league movie,I liked it because of its simplicity.

3. Finding Nemo:

A 2003 film,Finding Nemo is the story of a clownfish Marlin (Albert Brooks), who is overly protective of his only son Nemo (Alexander Gould) after losing his entire family to a barracuda. When Nemo disobeys his father on the first day of school and wanders away,he gets captured by a scuba diver and taken to Sydney, where his captor, a dentist, puts him in an aquarium,where he meets the Tank Gang,led by Gill.

 Meanwhile, Marlin, who is desperately searching for his son, is joined by Dory (Ellen DeGeneres),a Regal tang with a short term memory loss. She vows to reunite him with Nemo and they begin the arduous journey, battling sea plankton,jellyfish and hitching a ride with sea turtles all the way to Sydney Harbor where a friendly pelican lets Nemo know that his father is searching for him. Aided by Gill and his enthusiastic exhortions,Nemo escapes the aquarium and reaches the ocean.

Marlin and Dory,after having survived being swallowed by a whale, are disheartened to see no sign of Nemo anywhere and prepare to return when Marlin hears Nemo’s voice and they are joyfully reunited.Nemo displays his newly acquired leadership skills to save a school of fish from being captured and Marlin finally concedes that he was wrong about Nemo all along.

The film works on many levels ,but what stays behind with you for a long time is the captivating underwater life and the banter between Marlin and Dory. Dory is one of the most ebullient,naive and comic characters ever to come on screen.I loved her.A thoroughly enjoyable watch any day.

2.Ratatouille:

  A rat’s dream to become a chef. A wonderful little story with an amazing plot line and characters.Remy (Patton Oswalt) is a rat who longs to put his cooking skills to good use.He wants to become a chef and his idol is Auguste Gusteau. Alfredo Linguini (Lou Romano) is a bumbling fellow,hired as the kitchen cleaner.He is Gusteau’s son and the heir to the restaurant.Colette  Tatou (a chef in the kitchen) is hired to supervise Linguini.Nobody knows that the actual cooking is being done by Remy. Skinner (the present owner of the restaurant) has other designs on the restaurant which are laid bare by Remy.Skinner is dismissed and Linguini takes charge. The restaurant flourishes and noted critic Anton Ego comes to inspect the food. He is known for his acid and caustic remarks.Meanwhile,Skinner has discovered the secret behind the success of the restaurant and arrives to blow their cover.Remy’s plight causes his family to come to his rescue and they lock Skinner up in the pantry.Remy and Linguini serve Anton with Rataouille,which puts him in a nostalgic mode.He praises the restaurant in glowing terms for a newspaper review.

But due to rat infestation, Gusteau’s is closed down and Anton loses his job and credibility as a food critic.He,however,turns into an enthusiastic investor and markets the new restaurant of Linguini’s,called “La Ratatouille”,and the beginning of a collaboration between humans and rats.

Rats have always been associated with everything unpleasant and dirty.Ratatouille manages to create sympathy and empathy for them.We see them,not as rats,but as creatures worthy of our attention.A delicious little tale.

1. Wall-E:

   I am not going to harp about the story.I trust you know it already. What I absolutely loved about the movie was the manner in which the robots were portrayed.Wall-E is never a robot.He is almost human. You can identify with his humdrum life.Your eyes light up like his when he sees Eve.Your heart is crushed like his when she doesn’t recognize him anymore.When he goes all the way into outer space to save Eve,you wish with all your heart that they end up together,even though you know they’re only robots,incapable of human emotions. That’s how powerful the characterization is.

Much has been written about the special effects,the plotline,the costs involved et al.Wall-E and Eve can give half of Bollywood a sound run for their money.Their expressions,body language and voice modulations are pitch perfect.

My favorite line? It’s when Wall-e introduces himself to Eve. “Waaall-e”

Note:All the images are courtsey Google Images.

Bollywood’s Take on Five Professions

Hello readers!

This post will focus on five commonplace professions most abused and warped by Bollywood.Though there is a slight smattering of truth and tiny chunks of reality hidden in them somewhere,like those chocolate chip cookies,on the whole,what you see on screen is nowhere close to reality.

(Warning: Long post)

1.Doctor/General Practitioner: Perhaps the most unfortunate souls in a movie,doctors are pathetically reduced to strict stereotypes.

  • The setting:Often,a plush clinic/gleaming hospital.
  • Attire: Hindi movie doctors refuse to be seen without their mandatory white coats and faithful stethoscopes.It’s blasphemous to appear without the two.
  • Standard dialogues: Docs in a movie regularly spout them though I’ve never heard these words from a real life doctor.

Ab ise dawa ki nahi,dua ki zaroorat hai.

Aap foran do lakh rupaye jama kara dijiye,nahi toh patient ka operation nahi ho paayega.

Ab bhagwan hi maalik hai.

Humne poori koshish ki,magar afsos,hum patient ko nahi bacha paye.

Sthithi gambheer hai.Hum ma aur bacche mein se kisi ek ko hi bacha paayenge.

 

All accident/attempted suicide cases are treated just like normal ones.Unless of course the patient is the progatonist’s mother/father/sister and the perpetrator in question is a big shot.Then,you’ll have the following dialogue.

Aap pehle yeh form fill kijiye.Police ki poochtaach ke baad hi hum operation kar sakte hain.

At which,the protagonist visibly reacts by saying:

Kya?Yahan ek patient ki jaan jaa rahi hai aur aapko form ki padi hai?Doctor saab,log aapko bhagwan ka darja dete hain aur aap…..meherbaani karke operation shuru kijiye.Baaki formalities main dekh loonga/loongi.

So,of course,against all rules,the doctor performs the operation and all is hunky dory till the cops barge in and demand an explanation.All this in the recovery room,with the patient barely conscious.So much for rest and relaxation.

Manipulative techniques: Doctors are as hard as talc.One tear here,one whimpering look there,and they’re putty in your hands.And being Hindi film doctors,they are at par with the hero/heroine at displaying liberal amounts of goodliness and godliness.One can simply put a gun to the doc’s head and demand that he perform the operation for free/for his only dying son and the good doctor will oblige.What’s more,your entire clan can camp in the hospital for days,sing bhajans and even do an impromptu jig.

Essentials: Doctors will often be found poring over X-ray charts and microscopes.A serious expression sometimes crosses their face when informing someone about their diagnosis,like,”lymphosarcoma of the intestine” or “aapko cancer hai.Aur woh bhi final stage mein.”

Diagnosis for Dummies: A good Hindi movie doctor is omnipotent.He/She will simply check the pulse of the patient for diagnosis.How profoundly simple.Just pulse checking.After four brutal years of undergrad med school,followed by two years of specialization,followed by a grueling license exam, when all you have to do is to check the pulse.Wizard.

Hera Pheri: Hindi movie docs are also very sympathetic to the plight of hapless and helpless people.They will switch babies and hand over the wrong birth certificates because they don’t want any trouble for the protagonist afterwards.

Kill Pill: Doctors gone astray,doctors wanting revenge on society/mankind/God/rich father in-law make use of their awesome ability to mix poisons,crush colorful pills and play around with the IV line to kill their enemies.No one suspects a doctor,because,in the end;

Ek doctor ka darja bhagwan se bhi ooncha hota hai.

 

2.Psychiatrist/Psychologist:

Being a student of psychology,I’ve never seen a profession so totally mutilated and disfigured as a psychologist in Hindi movies.

  • Setting: A private clinic (almost always) or a chic hospital.
  • How to recruit psychiatrists:

Position applied for-Psychiatrist in a Hindi feature film.

Qualifications-Males,above fifty five,bearded,thinning hair,five inch thick spectacles.Must always wear grey,grey and brown.Having a social life is a no-no.(If you’re a female,you must be fifty,dress like thirty and act like a twenty year old.Only unhappily married/about to get divorced females need apply.We assume all the single females who want to apply are not right in the head.We’re all for the equality of the genders,yo)

Desirable:A huge sized poster of Sigmund Freud,complicated looking charts which nobody will understand,least of all,you,an American/British accent.

Extremely desirable:A two tone expression,one for puzzling over the problem,the other for acting smug when your diagnosis is proven right.Mouthing words like “multiple personality disorder”  “amnesia”   “retrograde/anterograde”  will automatically establish you in the big league.

Most Used Tool: Hypnosis. For any and every problem,out pops this handy little tool.Dangle a round object suspended from a thread in front of the subject,oscillate it ten to twenty times while shouting on the top of your lungs and voila,the subject is under your control. Conveniently forget the fact that hypnosis is still not considered a valid and legal medical practice,that it has to be done by an expert,that you cannot hypnotize an unwilling subject.All that be darned.

The Diagnosis: Beat around the bush for a while,then dramatically announce to the befuddled people that the patient is suffering from “multiple mental disorder”. Don’t ask what it means.Just nod your heads like you comprehend everything.

The Cure:All disorders of the mind can be cured by a)hypnosis b)a tantrik baba,spouting verses c) a combination of the above.

Rule of the thumb: All females portraying a psychiatrist to look glum,grim and deliver the verdict with an ominous look.Chirpiness of any sort,any semblence of a social life/partner to be squashed out of character with immediate effect.

Absolute No Entry For: common sense,video conferencing with experts,a plausible explanation for the diagnosis,a viable treatment program. (Note: Psychologists/therapists routinely dole out advice to their patients.Even if it means going against the basic tenet of therapy).

3.Corporate Executive:

Q: What is a corporate executive as defined by Bollywood? Describe their appearance,lifestyle and habits.

A.A corporate executive is someone who makes money for a living.He/She is a one dimensional character without any depth.There is usually a mono expression on their faces,but if the movie is being directed by a National Award winner,then there are dual expressions.Following are their characteristics:

 These creatures dwell in an oblong boardroom.Their life consists of making multibillion deals,living in houses that would shame Buckingham Palace into oblivion,wear Armanis to bed and treading the fine line between good and bad.There is always someone in the company who turns out to be a mole/informer/vengeful employee.The execs have a fleet of cars,always at their disposal.Some have personal helicopters and chartered planes.Yet,during emergencies,the execs prefer taking the bus/train/taxi/auto and relish the unending traffic jams.

Q2: True or false- A female corporate exec is always fiercely ambitious and career oriented.

True.

Q3: The overly ambitious aforesaid female has a fulfilling life outside of work,is happily married and also has kids.

Say what?

4. Journalist/Reporter:

Female 1: I’m a super bitch.I have slick looking hair.I have a flawless complexion.I speak with an accent.I wear heels on every assignment.If I’m wearing a designer dress,I’m not a serious journalist.If I have cropped my hair and am wearing a pantsuit,I’m as serious as they come.I talk in a monotone.If I don’t pepper my news with important sounding words,my boss’ll fire me.I manage to look gorgeous in any situation,be it a war front or a hostage situation.Gimme a mike,a cute cameraman and a van and I will get you your news.I’m that fabulous.

Female 2:Um,what about your qualifications? Your experience? Your interviewing and reporting skills? The endless preparation for a live news coverage?The fact that your job is potentially dangerous? The fact that you represent a major channel/newspaper? Your social responsibility?

Female 1: Hindi movies rock!!

5.Cop: Usually,you have the good cop-bad cop routine in interrogations.In Hindi movieland,you have the following:

Good Cop: Painfully honest.Willing to give his life for the police station/nation/profession.Either a havaldar or the DIG/DGP/ACP.When young,sings a few duets with a lady (who either turns into his wife or is killed after the duet,following which the good cop starts on his revenge saga).When older,is called upon as the chief guest to a school function,where he will either make a rousing speech or be killed,following which his nalayak son will turn layak and hunt his father’s killers.The most favorite dialogue of the good cop goes something like “Kanoon ke haath bade lambe hote hain,tu bach nahi paayega

Bad Cop: They have the most fun.They get to chew on betel leaves,nuts,candy bars and spew the most amazing dialogues like ” Ab tujhe mujhse koi nahi bacha paayega” and “Bahut ho gaya tera naatak.Ab dekh mera keher” and the like.They like terrorizing the general public,most specifically the protagonist’s family members,until the protagonist sees red and charges after the bad cops.

Baap of the Bad Cops: Pure evil in looks and mannerisms,these creatures are the stuff nightmares are made of.Very seldom employed in a movie.

I know I’ve missed out on some more professions,like politicians,lawyers,medical examiners.I’m hoping somebody takes the cue and writes about them.(Jhims,ho jaaye!!)

Coming next:A post on women in the Bollywood workplace,the most common diseases the protagonists are afflicted with.

Oldish Gold

Inspired by my fellow blogger and close friend Neelanjana, whose superb blog can be read here,I’ve decided to follow her lead and write a post on the good ol’ serials of yore,when a certain Miss Kapoor’s brain was free of the K mineral.Without further ado,here goes:

1.Byomkesh Bakshi:

This wonderment of a serial,originally a series of short stories and novels by the Bengali novelist Saradindu Bandopadhyay,was turned into a 25 episode serial by Basu Chatterjee,way back in 1993.It was aired on Doordarshan and starred the uniquely and supremely talented Rajit Kapoor as the main lead,Byomkesh Bakshi and the ever versatile KK Raina as Ajit. Of course,I was oblivious to the talent of the actors and the screenplay and plot made no sense,me being six years old at that time.But something about the serial just stood out.I vividly remember a scene where Byomkesh pins down a murder suspect effortlessly and manages to keep him from escaping till the cops arrive.Also,the title tune was catchy.Not completely eerie,but not soothing either.This was a winner all the way.

2. Shriman Shrimati:

Shriman Shrimati was a hilarious take on marriage and infidelity. It first aired on DD in 1989 but had reruns in the later years.It had an ensemble cast comprising Jatin Kanakia as the meek Keshav Kulkarni,the smart and wise housewife Kokila,played by the superb Reema Lagoo,the effervescent and bubbly Prema Shalini,played by Archana Puran Singh (who was actually a delight to watch on screen) and finally,the immensely likeable and gifted actor Rakesh Bedi,who played Prema’s bumbling and philandering husband Dilruba.You can read more about the serial here. The spats between Keshav and Dilruba brought the house down.You could not help but smile widely at the painstaking efforts the two male leads took to impress the females and then fall flat on their face.All the four actors made their characters utterly believable and that is what made this serial such a big hit amongst the masses.

3. Star Bestsellers:

Now I loved this show from the depths of my heart. It aired on Star Plus and in my opinion,the best show ever to come out of the channel.I could not wait for Saturday nights,when I would turn down all the lights and sit huddled up under blanket and watch the show.There used to be a new story,a new episode each week and barring a few,the shows were an utter delight to watch.Crisp storytelling and towering performances at their best.This show introduced me to the powerhouse called Irrfan Khan,and several now-prominent Bollywood directors like Anurag Kashyap,Tigmanshu Dhulia,Imtiaz Ali and Sriram Raghavan.I remember many of the episodes very clearly even now,after almost eleven years of its last run.There was one about a psychopath killer on the loose (this was my first ever experience of watching horror on TV), a lovey dovey story on the internet, one about a housing society called Gulmohar (I used to live in a similar society so I could connect with it instantly) ,one about a woman who hitchhikes a ride and finds herself in the worst nightmare of her life.But the one which I loved the most was the Irrfan Khan-Tisca Chopra-Himani Shivpuri starrer.It begins as a simple story,with a newly married couple (Irrfan and Tisca) staying as paying guests with an elderly couple.Irrfan played a shopkeeper and Himani essayed the role of the elderly housewife.This story had a major twist in the end that still amazes me.Another story which stayed with me starred Aditya Shrivastava (Inspector Abhijeet of CID) and Nikki Aneja Walia (Dr.Simran of Astitva:Ek Prem Katha) as a bestselling novelist involved in a serious car crash,incapacitating him and a deranged woman who lives alone in a deserted part of the country respectively.The premise was borrowed from a Stephen King novel,Misery,but it had its own flavor.I couldn’t digest Nikki as the affable Dr.Simran for a long time, after I had seen her essay this character.They were both excellent. Serials of this kind prove time and again that a solid script and talented actors can produce wonders on screen,with mininum funding.I’d love to catch the reruns someday.

4.Family No. 1

This was a complete family entertainer in every sense of the word. Kanwaljeet Singh starred as a single dad with three kids Rahul ( a certified Mogambo devotee),Rashmi (addicted to makeup) and Guddu (a smarty pants) and Tanvi Azmi starred as a single mom with three kids Dev (loves karate,but is a simpleton),Bharti (a mother hen) and Toofan (a hulk with a pea sized brain).The two families occupy the two halves of a house and are constantly at loggerheads with each other.The hapless parents are often cast aside,while the vastly contrasting personalities of the six youngsters provided all the necessary humor.A wholesome show,full of wisecracks,cool parents,madcap children and a happily-ever-after feeling.

5.Rishtey:

No,I am so not referring to a hideous movie by the same name.This Rishtey appeared on Zee Tv and I was hooked the minute I stumbled onto it.Quite similar to Star Bestsellers,this showcased a story a week.Human interest stories formed the bulk of the episodes and each one was a gem.All of them engaging,all plots plausible,the characters flesh-and-blood.The one where Renuka Shahane played a single mom to a cute lil kid who is in a dilemma whether or not to marry her good friend is etched in my memory,for the sheer simplicity of the story.Another one,where a little girl wants her dad to get married to her teacher also tugs at your heart strings.The show touched on life issues,be it a young girl’s determination to succeed without offering bribes or influence or the arrogant son’s realization that life isn’t all about money or the rift between two sisters because of personality clashes,Rishtey brought forward a fresh breath of air in television.

6. Tehkikaat:

Tehkikaat,aired on DD,was the first crime based show I watched.Being very young at that point of time,I believed in everything which was shown.Like,when a character was stabbed to death,I used to think he/she is dead forever.There is one particular scene which remains in my memory till date.A man,faking his own death,lying in a bathtub full of water,only to open his eyes and terrify the detective who comes to investigate.It starred Vijay Anand as the detective,Sam and Saurabh Shukla as his sidekick,Gopi.Not very slick when compared to today’s crime shows,but it was the first of its kind and did a pretty good job.

(I could not get a suitable image for the following shows)

7.Swabhimaan: This first aired on DD National in 1997. I still remember the title song.It went like this.

 Ek pal,hai zindagi;ek pal kuch bhi nahi.Kahe ka gham,kaisi khushi;ghadiyaan hai na,ek sadi.

Or something to that effect.It starred Kitu Gidwani,Naseer Abdullah,Anju Mahendroo,Ronit Roy,Kunika,Manoj Bajpai,Achint Kaur,Ashutosh Rana,Sandhya Mridul,Harsh Chhaya,Simone Singh (all very famous and noted names in the telly and film world as of now) et al in pivotal roles.The story was basically about business tycoons,inter family rivalry,legal disputes,property disputes etc.But it was handled in a very mature and non dramatic way,which is why it ran for a long time.

8.Shanti: Before Mandira Bedi became synonymous with a certain food type,she was a powerful performer in the all dark drama,Shanti,aired on good ol’ DD. She essayed the title character of a woman whose parentage is unknown with aplomb.The other principal characters on the show,Kamesh Mahadevan,played by Yatin Karyekar and Raj Singh,played by Amar Talwar,were equally stolid.The entire show was like hanging on a cliffhanger.Secrets would be revealed at every turn and the twists were really twisted.The story had a fresh appeal to it and it wrapped up neatly.I still think of Mandira as Shanti,whenever I look at her.

9.Hum Sab Ek Hai: This aired on Sony TV.A perfect blend of patriotism,humor and people of all nationalities living under the same roof.Jatin Kanakia played Brig.Kachroo,a strict but loving husband to his wife Bharti,and three sons Mohan (Rakesh Bedi;hilarious),Sohan (Dilip Joshi;fantastic) and Rohan (Deven Bhojani;side splitting).The three sons have wives from different parts of India.Mohan is married to Manjeet (Dolly Bindra was born for this role.She was truly amazing) a golden hearted loudmouth from Punjab.The music maestro Sohan is married to Protima,a Bengali,who is meek and in awe of her husband’s apparent genius and Rohan is married to Preeti,a Gujarati,whose aim in life is to serve dhokla to everyone she meets.The ensemble of characters created a perfect harmony on the screen.I loved this show.Unfortunately,there were no reruns.

That’s it then.Readers may kindly point out any mistakes and/or any shows I might’ve missed.

The Workplace Laws

Officeland is like no other place on earth.Some enter the premises to escape their home lives,some saunter in to make merry,some stroll through the entire perimeter exercising their right to free will and balloony stomachs.Oh,and some occasionally work.There are certain laws which govern the office as they do the outside world.Here goes:

1.The Law of Office Supplies:The more urgent your need,the less visible they become.

Office supplies have a mind of their own.One minute,they are all sitting pretty on your desk,all neatly arranged and raring to go.The minute you have to process an invoice,or make changes in the accession register or answer the boss’s urgent call for a whiteboard marker,the supplies magically vanish.Pens,particularly,are notorious for disappearing at the most opportune moment.After you’ve coped with all the supply-less madness,you suddenly find your supplies again,sitting pretty on your desk,mocking you with their bright colors and varied assortments.

2.The Boss Law-No,this is not the “Boss is always right” law.This is an everyday occurance at the workplace.It works like this.

You’ll always be doing something unimportant when the boss approaches your desk.

All is hunky dory when the big guy is sitting in his plush office.You’ll be buried in work,forget to eat,drink and look like a terminally ill ghost.Your diet is made up of chunks of data,pieces of pie charts and blocks of numbers.All this while,your boss is inside his room.What makes bosses emerge from their lair and go check on the unfortunate employee is still unknown.What is known,though,is when the big guy is standing behind your shoulder,your browser is tuned to everything except work.And right on cue,songs start blaring from the bally computer while you shudder and shrink to a pea sized creature,while your boss walks away,mentally reminding himself not to give you a good appraisal.

3.The IT law: All defective computers function fine enough when the IT guy stands next to you.

Erratic PCs are a boon or a bane,depends on how you look at it.A non-functioning system means more time to mess and laze around,check your mail on your colleague’s system,complain about the slow IT service and blame the computer industry in general.If you’re anything like me,you’ll wholeheartedly plunge into the points I just offered and work up a good deal of false indignated-lather.Calling the IT services to come and rectify your system is another post altogether.When the guy from IT finally arrives,days after you’ve lodged your complaint,the system detects his presence and springs to life.The system knoweth that thou hath not a single IT gene in thou body.The IT guy smirks inwardly,scribbles some techno drivel in his service sheet and thrusts it into your hand.The minute he shimmers away,the system decides to play you and stops functioning again.So long till the next IT visit.

4.The Filing Law- The most used files are never to be found,the least used ones occupy the best place on the shelf.

You want the latest general bills file.Where do you search for it?Assuming it’s taken out daily and updated properly,it’s got to be on the top,right?Wrong.One can never find an important and a daily used file in the same place.That file keeps on shifting places till it somehow reached the bottom of the file pile.To get to it,you either need superhuman strength or four able bodied coworkers to help you dig through the mass of unused files.Why this happens?Nobody wants to find out.

5.The Law of the Cafeteria:

Anything ordered from the cafeteria will not reach you before an hour.

This is more of a general observation,than a law.Food will arrive from the depths of the cafeteria when you’re at the end of your patience.And people will materialize just when you’ve begun eating.So,you either end up looking like a wolf chomping down its prey,with bits and pieces dangling by the side,or you make a mad dash into the staff room and gulp it down,getting choked in the process.Office cafeterias are also known for messing up orders.On a rushed day,you might find yourself staring at the cafe guy,who is  holding a glass of cinnamon tea and a droopy sandwich,while all the time wondering where your order is.The cafe people will also turn temporarily deaf,as when you are presented with a sad looking soggy non-toasted-non-grilled-not-fit-for-human-consumption sandwich,when you had ordered for and had imagined a gloriously grilled and browned-sun kissed-oozing health and goodness-and-calorie-increasing sandwich.Oh,heck,did the cafe guys just save your heart?

6.The Chain Mail Law:

Chain mails will grow in length and incomprehensibility till they exceed the natural intelligence of the person who originated it.

I love office mails.Specially chain mails.Often,you are bombarded with mails which only say,”FYI” or “PFA the so-and-so” or “FYR”.In order to decode the mail,one has to scroll all the way down to the first mail which began as an innocent communication between two people,carbon copied to a third.This third party,of course,is paid only to forward emails,so they do the needful and send it back to the intended recipients and carbon copy another two unfortunate souls.When those bewildered souls comprehend the mail and oblige the original sender,they too decide to vindicate themselves and carbon copy two more souls.So on and so forth,your name also has the honor of being included in the carbon copy list.Whoo hoo.When you reply to the mail and send it to the two million people in the CC,the originator of the mail scratches his head disbelievingly.Who the heck are all these people? He or she decides to print out the chain mail,twist it into a chain and hang himself/herself at the earliest.

7.The Law of the Meeting: This is actually a series of laws.

  • All meetings will start late.
  • They will do so because no one will know where to show up. (Corollary:No one reads office mails seriously.)
  • If at all a meeting starts on time,there will be no projector or laptop.
  • When the projector arrives,the IT guy will tinker around with it till he announces that the hardware is not compatible.
  • When everything is settled and in place,the power will go off.If it doesn’t,the boss will receive an important phone call.
  • No one will remember why the meeting was called in the first place.They will have to check the minutes of the last meeting.
  • On an average,two out of five people will fall asleep in the meeting room.
  • The meeting will always comprise of heavy management buzzwords and other like minded jargon which nobody understands.
  • The meeting will stretch an hour after the scheduled time.And nobody will remember what it was about in the next meeting as well.
  • Some smart aleck will send everyone the minutes of the meeting in a fancy Word format.

 

There are many more laws and axioms to be written about.This was a beginning.More in the next series of The Workplace Laws.