Where have I been?

Well… my world is around my small wonder, my bundle of joy!! 


Healing Madam!

The work place sucks, the country sucks, the world sucks! There isn’t a thing around me which is less than being wretched! Sadly I realize that our planet is ruled by a bunch of useless morons. There is no escape from those boring routine faces; bumping into them only makes life all the more depressing. How can a poor feeble little creature like me repair the sad state of such affairs, I keep wondering!

“Ting Tong… Ting Tong!” My mobile phone beeped, indicating that I have received a message.
“Depressed in life? Finding it difficult to laugh out loud? Then, come to us… we have the right remedy for you. We will heal all your mental and physical tensions and help you rejuvenate! For related help, call us on 8800 0011 1100. Regards, Lakshmi Chengappa, 
A-HOPE”, read the message.

“Oh wow!! A customized message from God? He has finally decided to help me!”, I felt. Not giving it a second thought, I dialed the number.     

“Hello… This is Shalini Surendran here; I just received a sms which said you can cure my mental tensions. I just wanted to discuss the same with you and take this forward”, I said hopefully.

“Welcome Mam… to Aavarapan Healing Opulence Private Enterprise, A-HOPE. Let me please connect you to our healer, Agent Lavanya. Mean while, please enter your personal details following our customer assistant.”

“Agent Lavanya? Have I reached a detective agency?” I had my doubts!

“Welcome Ms. Shalini to A-HOPE. This is agent Lavanya. So, shall I begin the first session with you?”, said the sweet voice on the other end.

“Oh sure… please go ahead. I am all ears!”, I said enthusiastically.

“To begin with, let me give you an overview of A-HOPE. We are the only organization in the world that identifies one's inner potentials and strengths. Our founder, Poojya Shri Lakshmi Chengappa-ji was born with the ability to see lives of people, see their energy patterns and can find out which part of the body is diseased. She can also ascertain whether or not one is connected spiritually with oneself.”

I thought, “What the hell is getting connected to oneself? Is that something like tying oneself to a pole and dancing in bliss?!!”

I couldn’t make any sense of what she went on and on about Madam Poojya Lakshmi-ji. Hence I interrupted, “So, when can I submit my problems to Lakshmi mam? Please share her email id.”

Agent got pissed off. She said, “There is no need to do that. Lakshmi mam’s extra sensory perception skills will by itself find out your problems and automatically heal you.”

“Magic?” I thought of the movies Mr. India, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, while the agent continued blah-blah-ing. It was more like attending an absolutely boring physics lecture after years. After 20 minutes of one sided non sense, the only few words I could recollect were aura, mind-body-soul, spiritual destination, healing, inner & outer selves ...which were of course meaningless to me!

Finally she concluded, “There is no past, present and future. All collapse into a single experience!”

Before I could ask “What the bloody hell is that supposed to be?”, agent said, “We shall share the details of the next session with you via email. Thank you. Have a great day!”

I received the email in the next 30 seconds. 

Dear Ms. Shalini,
We hope that Session-1 has enlightened your spirits. Now, we enter Session-2. All you have to do is let us know a convenient time, during which you are supposed to go to sleep. We will connect with you while you are asleep, your problems will be then captured impeccably. You will be surprised to wake up into a new world, a fun filled and joyful world.

Thank You,
Lakshmi Chengappa.

I went to sleep at the scheduled time, woke up to see their second email which said,

Dear Ms. Shalini,
Welcome to the new world of possibilities. All your problems are erased off your mind; you are a new human being from today.
Please find attached the invoice. Account details are also given.

Thank You,
Lakshmi Chengappa.

Totally clueless, I tried to recollect the flow of events during my sleep. But in vain… all I could remember was my dream of eating prawns biriyani at our house in Trivandrum and playing cricket with my small and big cousins!

I opened the attachment. For the first Latin/Greek gyan over phone and the magical sleep therapy, they have sent a bill of just Rs 8500!!!

Lesson learnt – When I felt low, all I had to do was watch Mohanlal & Jagathy in Yodha or Inspector Clouseau in Pink Panther …rather than letting some cunning Chengappa indulge in day light robbery!

(As narrated by Big-B… from the dairy of his adventures!!)

Empathising with ourselves!

Forget us, poor Bangaloreans... not even Super Man can speed on this road!

Picture clicked on Outer Ring Road in Bangalore, which houses lakhs of IT professionals.


Trend Setters

Two of my non-malayalee friends in Guruvayur – not knowing it is strictly a “no-trousers” zone!

But you never know… in this ultra-fashion age, there could be folks following their style – dothi, backpack and sneakers!


Email Trail

An email conversation I had with one of my colleagues in our neighborhood.

Subject: Awkward Question

Hi Shalini,

I know this is very embarrassing. But I cannot help L For the past one hour I have been composing this email; I’m still hunting for words. I really don’t know how you will take this. However, for professional reasons, I am forced to ask you this. Please try to understand my situation... Hope you will not take this as a work place harassment!

So, here is my question: Which type are you - boy or girl? I am so unfamiliar with Indian names, that I cannot even make a wild guess.

Thanks & Regards,
Yuan Chow

Seeing the subject line, I was both curious and nervous to open the email. But reading it which ends with the sender's name, I was first reminded of menu card in a Chinese restaurant!! I, who think too high of my name, couldn’t believe that in spite of exchanging so many emails with her for more than a year, she couldn't yet make out my 'type'! :P Anyways, I decided to reveal my gender indirectly. Here is what I wrote back.

Subject: RE: Awkward Question

Hello Yuan Chow,
I belong to the category of Aishwarya Rai J


After clicking the send button, I felt she would have thought I am boasting of my looks, comparing myself to Ashu! I seriously regretted trying to be funny!

Subject: RE: Awkward Question

Sorry to ask again Shalini, I didn’t get you when you said A.Rai category! You mean... errr!!! Please make it clear!

That definitely is insulting the women in India… not knowing ‘what’ Aishwarya Rai is! Also, letting thoughts go wild! What would she have meant when she said "errr..."? So this time, I decided to keep it simple and "straight"! 

Subject: RE: Awkward Question

Yuan Chow,
I am a girl and so is Aishwarya Rai. If you are wondering who she is, she is just another girl like me; by mistake I mentioned her in my previous mail.
Have a wonderful day. Bye…


I have written many sarcastic blog posts, making fun of my friends and others having witty names! Never had I thought, I will get it back from somebody across the border, who doesn’t even know me! :P :P



I spoke to two of my childhood friends last month, after really a long time; felt very good! We didn’t discuss appraisals or the project we are into or the latest stocks we bought; but we pulled each others’ legs reminding of the most stupid things we did in school and laughed so much at our madness. We talked about our sexy computer mam who one fine day stopped coming to school and the chemistry teacher who never smiles. And we laughed again!

Last evening I was at a shopping mall, where I met this lady who looked drop-dead gorgeous. She caught everybody’s attention in her lovely red saree draped tightly around her slender waist; her hair was loosely tied and the careless strands falling on her eyes only made her look sexier; colored glass bangles chimed on her arms and her almost backless blouse naughtily revealed the Chinese Dragon tattoo on her shoulder through the noodle strap. I snapped at my colleague when I caught him ogling her. He said, “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever! God is so unfair; loveliness and splendor are generously given only to chosen few” he said tossing down the drooping saliva into his mouth.

Looking at ourselves, we couldn’t help cribbing about how un-glamorous and wretched we were! To get over the dejection, we decided to get caffeinated. As we were gazing at the crowd sipping our coffee, the lady in red walked to us and said, “Hari Om*!”

My colleague not knowing how to react, said “Sorry, you mean Jai Hind?!” and he looked at me.
I said, “Well…Hari Om! Chinmayan**?”

Lady, “Very much! I taught your class for few months; but not sure if you remember me!” 

Oh My God! Our Computer mam, about whom we spoke just a month ago! I couldn’t believe my eyes, really! I remembered how the boys in our class used to associate their dreams with her and her velvet blouses.

So sweet of her to recognize me after these many years and even come to me and say a hello. I am really really touched. But, I failed miserably to repay the compassion!

In spite of having many of questions with me to make the reunion treasured, this is what I asked, “But, you never had the tattoo there before!”

Embarrassed teacher, “Oh… I got that done later! Hmm…okay then, nice meeting you; bye!”

This post is dedicated to my male friends at school. Sorry guys! I couldn’t gather any information about your once-up-on-a-time heart throb!

**Chinmaya Vidyalaya is the school where I studied; affectionately we address anybody associated with the institution as ‘Chinmayan’!
*’Chinmaya way’ of greeting!


"Are you a Malayalam?"

I was rushing to the cafeteria this afternoon, while this guy stopped me, probably to update his personal data base.

About this guy: He is the one whom I have been noticing since almost 2 years. He sits next to the ladies’ rest room on my floor and I am not sure if he takes count of the number of times girls pass his aisle! :P Going by his gray strands, I assume he is a fairly senior employee; maybe even a manager. I cannot be wrong cos I see him giving gyan (free advice) to others and often I see e-newspapers open on his monitor. What else do managers have to do?! :P :P I don’t know his name; so let me call him ‘thatha’ (grand-pa).

Thatha: Are you a Malayalam?
Me: Huh?! No…
Thatha: Then, Tamil?
Me: No…
Thatha: Confused.
Me: I am a Malayalee who speaks Malayalam.
Thatha: Isn’t that what I asked?
Me: Nope!  
Thatha: Hahahaa…!!! Burping at my face the daal-chaval what he had for lunch, South Indians are so funny!


After all, what is in a (Mallu) name?

Mallu names can get super-hilarious! …like the name I just found on the name plate outside one of the cubicles in office – Jiljin Kuzhiyil! For all you non-mallus out there, lemme explain: “Kuzhi” means ‘a pit’ and “kuzhiyil” means ‘in the pit’! So, when put together, it reads “Jiljin in the pit”! Sorry folks… when it comes to some mallu names, my ability to understand the gender of the person is very poor. In this case, I assume this is a guy, so lemme address Jiljin as “he”. Poor thing; he is carrying his name as a funny tag all through his life – for people like me to write blog posts and for others to have a really good laugh! 

Jiljin is just one of the 1000s of victims – of the creativity of people from God’s Own Country! One of my colleagues Saju Mathilmel is yet another example. ‘Mathil’ is fence and ‘Mathilmel’ is ‘on the fence’. And I wonder; will it not lead to logically incorrect situations, like… even if Saju is in the loo, he remains on the fence (going by his name)!!!

Like I mentioned in my first post on my mallu friends having funny names, one of the most common trends observed among Malayali parents is that they take a few alphabets from their names and create an out-of-the-box name for the child. Think of the kid whose mother’s and father’s names were Pinky and Geo. If anybody shouts, “You Pig…!!”, the poor kid, throughout his life, will have to turn and ask: “Yes… did you call me?! To make it sound more fancy, the ultra-inventive parents might add a ‘mon’ or ‘kutty’ as a suffix. So that makes him, Pig Kutty!!

After all, what is in a name, right? Especially in a mallu name!!!

Prospective Groom Meeting!

It was fabulously a beautiful Saturday morning. My roommates and I decided to spend the day shopping, followed by lunch from the best Chinese restaurant in town. As we were getting ready, my mom called me. The shakun was not good, I sensed something fishy. 

When I felt she fumbled for words, I said, “Don’t beat around the bush, what is it that you want?”

Amma, “This guy who works in California wants to meet you. He…”
I interrupted, “Arnold Schwarzenegger?! Why ...meet me?”
Amma, “No no… a Nair boy; an IIT graduate too! Kamini aunty came up with this proposal and I want you to meet this guy who is in Bangalore this weekend.”

I snapped back, “Okay! I shall meet him; but don't insist that I should like him too.”
Amma, “Deal.”

I was given the prospective groom’s phone number. I decided to meet him in the next half an hour for breakfast as I didn’t want to ruin our shopping plans! And… why would I say no to sponsored breakfast??! :P

The scheduled meeting time was 9:00 a.m. As I stepped inside Adayar Ananda Bhavan, I saw this totally out-of-place looking guy seated uncomfortably on a table, scrutinizing the whole place. I was sure… he is the Californian dude! A few more moments of inspecting him, I noticed the text on his t-shirt – “I am America”! I wondered, “Is he wearing a placard? May be that's fashion in the west. I didn't know that; interesting!”

Murmuring, “Oh Mr. America… here I come!”, I walked to his table, shook hands and introduced myself.

American dude, “You could have chosen a better place for breakfast. This seriously is retarded! I have heard about some place called Leela or something. Could have gone there!”

Me, “Trust me… food is good here!”
Dude, “Alright… so, I am Kim. I’m from the Silicon valley”.
Alarmingly, I said, “God… Am I with the right person? Excuse me…”
Dude, “Chill girl… I was Kalyan Manoharan in India, however known as Kim in my Californian circle. 
In my mind, “What a loser! And, what the hell am I doing here?”

The waiter interrupted our conversation,
“Eenu bekku? Masala dosa, rava dosa, onion uthappam, puri, idli, vada, uppiddu…” The list was really really long!

Dude, “Can I have pan cakes and hash browns?” I couldn’t believe he actually asked for that!
Waiter, “Enu madam?” 

Me, “He wants boiled potato…”
Waiter, “Lunch time 12 o clocke start aaguthe!”
Dude making faces, “Holy Cow! Hmmm... well; I think I will settle for plain dosa. And please clean the pan with paper towel before you pour the batter!”
I thought, “What a pain in the a**. Trying hard to impress or is he is actually insane? 
Dude turning to me, “You see, In India, you cannot trust anything!”
Not knowing how to react, I said, “Seriously, you think so?”

The food came and as I was about to attack my onion-rava-masala-dosa, he panicked like a maniac and screamed at me, “Did you wash your hands with sanitizer?”

Terrified me said, “I washed my hands there”, pointing the wash area.
Affectionately offering me a sachet of hand sanitizer, he said, “Especially in India, it is very important to have one in your bag always!”

Lending my ears to his Bay Area and Silicon Valley stories was the greatest torture I could ever ask for on a Saturday morning! The faster I ate, the faster I could escape! I hurriedly ate my dosa and felt relieved when I finished it. When the waiter placed the finger bowls on our table, the dude called him back and asked, “Please take this back and bring mineral water instead!” My eyes actually popped out.

He was given the bill and he reacted, “I just don’t trust the financial system in India. Do you know how screwed up it is? It lacks efficiency and so, I don't want to swipe my card here! And people in Silicon Valley usually don’t carry cash." 

He continued, “May be you could settle the account here." 

I thought,
Pichakkaran (beggar) from the Silicon Valley! Not a penny in his pocket… but wants to go to The Leela Palace for breakfast! Shameless!”
Dude, “Okay… nice meeting you! We should do this often; you see I don't have many friends in Bangalore. 
In my mind, “I have better things to do in life!”
and aloud with a plastic smile at him, "Bye!". 

Do you also have any interesting bride/groom seeing experiences to share? Come on then… I am all ears!


Sincerely, Your Valentine!

Yet another day of love! Oh… the much awaited Valentine’s Day is here!!

In school, teachers searched our desks to check for love letters and gifts draped in red fancy wrappers. The smartest of the lot got away without being caught! What a victory it was considered to be! In college, the lovers spent the entire day on stone benches, sharing their dreams for a bright and a romantic tomorrow! Girls looked all the more pretty in red salwar kameez and guys – cute in red shirts! Principal chased them away when seen intimately! How harshly the sisters in convent hostel stood against love! Hence a few girls in hostel celebrated the day eating strawberries to their hearts content!

That was a quick recap of my Valentine’s Day memories!

And this time, I ate a heart shaped donut …giving hi-five to all those romantic hearts out there!
Here is wishing all of you a fabulous, peaceful, lovely and an absolutely romantic life ahead!

A note to Sena folks from St. Valentine:


I know; you have been sincerely trying hard to tackle the romantic problems of the nation. Since I am one of your well wishers, I would like to bring a few things to your notice!

I guess you don’t realize that except for idiots like you, nobody appreciates your activities. Majority of the country honestly feel that you guys are a bunch of losers!! By the way, this is something I always wanted to ask you - don’t you have better things in life to do, other than attack girls who harmlessly spend time with their loved ones? Let them drink, let them dance, let them have fun… why the hell are you guys bothered?

After all, the nation suffers from umpteen more serious problems which demands immediate attention. So, this is a humble request from me, a priest who is not resting in peace… please divert your energy, time and interests towards revitalizing your country’s bloody politicians, a.k.a The Shameless Looters!

Wishing you good luck,
St. Valentine 


‘Bar’ Association!

(As narrated by one of my colleagues)

After enormous brain washing sessions, over-heated debates, emotional blackmailing, face-to-face discussions and once-in-a-while banging the phone, my mother finally succeeded in making me and my brother agree to participate in the seven days long family ritual at Thirunnelveli in Tamil Nadu.

It was then a cheeky and a highly diplomatic task to inject the idea into our better-halves’ brains. Once again, we poor brothers became prey to blackmailing! Threatened my wife, “Book flight tickets to Mumbai for both of us to attend my friend’s wedding. After that, I shall consider coming to Thirunnelveli, your divine village!” A flock of things suddenly flashed across my eyes – designer saree, sandals, matching jewellery, gifts, commute by taxi on crowded Mumbai roads …and my almost empty wallet! Desperately I cried, “God… why in the world, have you given all the manipulating skills to women? Very unfair!!”

Finally, the day has arrived. We packed our bags and forcefully infused enthusiasm about the trip into all our minds! We also prepared a long to-do list of things apart from attending the ceremonies at the temple.

It was also an occasion to meet our near, dear and not-so-dear relatives. We city-bred folks are like fancy beings to most of them. They, the most inquisitive bunch I have ever met, believe that we are smart only at making money and are super-idiots otherwise. Asked this fat grandmother to my wife ‘n’ number of times, “One year after wedding; why are you still not thinking of elaborating your family? Any medical problems? Do you know… when I was of your age, my Paramanand was 10 years old!!!” Trying really hard to hide her annoyance, my wife gave her a terrible smile and walked away! Grrr… how dare they poke their nose into somebody else’s sex life?!! These people also wanted to know how we spend the money we earn, if our friends drink and smoke, if any girls whom we know wear short skirts, climate in Bangalore, about Obama, and, and, and the list is endless!

The last day of our stay in Thirunnelveli.

Two Iyer ladies in nine-yard sarees, tinkling gold anklets and sindoor splattered on their foreheads - accompanied by husbands in silk dothis! Looks could be exceedingly deceiving at times. Though dressed like Goddess Sita and Lord Rama, our plan for the evening was not so godly! Utterly impatient and oblivious of our location, we were dying to sip some beer and vodka after these many days of being good boys-&-girls! 

Finally, we arrived at ‘Padmavibhushan Bar and Restaurant’. Oh… what a relief! A sputter of happiness was very obvious on all our faces!     

I asked my folks to wait inside the car and I got out alone to check out the ambience of the place. When I felt it was decent enough to spend half an hour, I gave a missed call to my brother, signaling them to follow me.

As the three walked to the door, the old watchman seated there got terrified and instantly stopped their way. He said, “Madam… the restaurant is not upstairs!”
My sister-in-law, “Yes we know!”
Watchman, “Then, you perhaps have come to the wrong place.”
My wife, “Do they serve vodka inside?” 
Watchman almost fainted… ":X"

They pushed open the door to enter the bar and walked one after the other towards the table I reserved. That is when all of us realized… the partial and complete drunkards were up from their seats to give a standing ovation to the esteemed and unexpected guests at “Padmavibhushan”! The dim lights, the chaos andSheila ki Jawani…” played from a screeching player only added flavor to the mood.

My sister in law, “Oh… never in life I felt so important! :P :P”

No doubt… it was absolutely an eventful week! We felt we will miss the village and even the villagers, whose innocence compel them to be very blunt! It's now time to get back to Bangalore – back to fast food, computers, blackberry and showing off on facebook!
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