A lot can happen over coffee : A twist


















Scene 1:

Location: Nirmal Lifestyles mall, Cafe coffee Day
Timeline : Last year of college (2007)
Characters: Two cool college kids, Two weird office goers


Why are we alone?

We are not alone. We cant be alone if we are together.
Okay ass, I meant why dont we have girlfriends?

Oh, thats because the good ones chose the dorks

Yeah.. neckless, fat, geeky dorks

Hey! We can be neckless fat and geeky, if it gets us girls that is..

Well, we are already geeky..
I am not..

Yes you are..

Yeah I am.. I know..

So all we have to become is neckless and fat..

I dont think it is fair..

Even I dont think it is fair.. but what?

They show girls swooning over Hrithik Roshan on TV, but then they go and settle for dorks like these in real life. I mean, what happened to survival of the handsomest..

Yeah I know.. My mom says I look like Hrithik.

Dont take your mom too seriously..
Oh comeon.. I do!

No, you dont.. actually you do, only hes taller and more.. whats the word.. yeah.. awesome!

You sound like a girl right now..

I know, but you can definitely pass off as Uday Chopra..

Damn you..

Pointing to two office goers sitting at a table across the cafe.
Now look at those two guys there.. We look better than they do, dont we?
We sure do.. I mean we can beat them in the looks dept any day.

Yeah, look at them. Peter England office shirts, Arrow flat trousers and office handbag.
Looks more like a purse that handbag of theirs if you ask me..
They look as if they came with a tag - since 1929
Hehe.. good one.. And look at us, cool wrist band, Levi's jeans, Reebok shirts and i-pump shoes..

Hey when did you buy them shoes?

Monday.

And you didnt tell me?

Tell you? what are we? girls?

Oh yeah.. sorry. Are those guys waiting for someone?

Yeah.. I bet they have girlfriends too.

These guys? since 1929 guys? No ways!

I bet 100..

deal..

Just then 2 pretty girls entered the cafe and walked up to them. They could hear them.
"Shall we leave boys?", said the first one.
"We ll be late for the movie", said the other one.
The guys paid the bill and started moving out, with their respective girls.
See? See? Hail me as your king! Pay up you dumbass.
Damn you ass****
He removed Rs. 100 from his wallet and thrusted it onto his friend's palm.

He said the word "Damn" loud enough for one of the guys, who was now opening the door for his girl, to hear him. He looked back at the college kids and smiled. He pulled her close to him and whispered something in her ear. She looked back at the college kids and giggled. Then the four of them left.



Scene 2:
Location: Nirmal Lifestyles mall, Cafe coffee Day
Timeline : First year of the job (2008)
Characters: Two weird college kids, Two cool office goers

Hows work?
Cool. Hows yours?
Cool.
Hows everyone at home?
What? You never used to ask that!
Really? Hmm.
Got a promotion btw.
Hmm.. that means you pay for today's movie.
Damn you.
I paid the first installment of the car, did I tell you?
Hmm.. Your dad, didnt ask you to pay, did he?
No, but I thought I could pay half for him. That way it would be easier for him.
Hmm.. we are planning to buy a house too..
In mulund?
No re, its out of reach now. Maybe in Thane. Now that I make money too, my parents can afford it..
Man! We are paying installements, buying flats.. We are growing up!!!

Pointing to two college kids sitting at a table across the cafe.

Remember when we were like them?
Whats with those shoes and whats with the hairstyle these kids have nowadays?
Yeah.. and look at their jeans. One more of his size can fit into those!! And they think they look "cool"!
Hehehe.. weirdos..
Its 6:45.. Why do they always have to be this late..
Its evolutionary.. Its in the bible..
What the? The bible doesnt allow women to come late..
Arre it does! Even the first woman "Eve" came only after Adam got really bored.
Hehehe.. Your sense of humour has gone down the drain.
shut up dumbass..

Just then two pretty girls entered the cafe.
"Hello boys", one said.
"Are we late?", the other asked.
No babe.
"Lets leave, dont wanna miss the starting"


The guys paid the bill and started walking out when one of them overheard one of the college kid swearing at the other.
He looked back at the kids, the kid wearing a green nike shirt thrusted a 100 rupee note in the hands of the other kid. He smiled at them.

He held her hand and pulled her close to him. He whispered in her ear -
"You see those two guys sitting there. I think, they had a bet whether we had girlfriends or not. The guy in the green shirt lost."
"How can you be sure about the bet thing", she asked.
"Coz I have been there "

She looked at him amused. She looked back at the college kids and giggled. The four of them left.


________________________________________________

I tried to experiment with some stuff here. If you notice, there are around 6 characters in Scene 1 and 6 characters in Scene 2, two of them are common. So in all, there are like 10 characters. I have tried to make sense without naming even a single character.
Kindly let me know if this story makes sense of should I make it more understandable. A lot can happen over coffee : A twistSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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"Outsourced" soup for the "slumdoged" soul!

















Last week I watched Outsourced on Star Movies. I just happened to arrive on the channel when the movie was just starting.

To be honest, I expected a Slumdog from Outsourced. Fortunately, I was wrong. In the first 15 minutes of the movie, there is a scene in which the central character Todd(the superb Josh Hamilton) is trying to catch a train running along the platform with his heavy suitcase. Another guy starts running along with him, picks up his suitcase, and helps Todd get in the train. Knowing the gora's idea(Danny and Co's idea actually) of India and its people I expected him to run away with the suitcase then and there. When he respectfully places the suitcase in the compartment running along the platform, I couldnt help feel ashamed of myself, that I thought like that about a fellow Indian. I also felt bad that I had so conveniently thought that all firangs were narrow-minded idiots.

I am not much of a movie person. My idea of heaven is a huge plasma TV with all sitcom titles available on a hard drive. But 15 mins into Outsourced, and I knew I had a movie on my hands.

The movie is hilarious. It is essentially a situational comedy. This movie is about Todd (whom the Indians call Mr.Toad) who gets an assignment of training his counterpart in India. How he first resists India and at last falls in love with her forms the plot. But its not the story but the characters, the screenplay and the brilliant dialogues which make it enjoyable.

Like this one -
Indian : What is your good name sir?
Todd(bewildered): Good?
Most Indians will get the joke. We say - "aapka shubh(good) naam kya hai?".We very conveniently convert the hindi into english, word by word!

Then there is this scene about holi, when Todd's Indian colleague asks him not to come out of his house...
Todd: But why?
Colleague: Because today is holi, sir!
Todd: Holy what?
Colleague: Only holi!! The festival of colours.
What follows after that is fun.. teenagers throwing water balloons at Todd and him throwing back a few of his own.

Outsourced does a marvellous job of staying away from cliches, characters are excellently sketched, its difficult to find caricatures in this movie.

There is fantastic scene where Asha(Ayesha Dharker), who plays a bpo agent, has to sell a product to an American.
American customer: I lost my job because of you.
Asha: Well, I cant do anything about it sir, but if you want I can give you the website of a company which has its customer service agents in the US and offers the same product.
Am customer: Well, would the price be the same?
Asha: No sir, it will be $212 more.
Am customer : What the heck, send me your product.

Man, it does sound very kiddie at first, but when you think about it, its so damn cool!

The problem with Slumdog Millionaire was that it treated India as a Third World country. I have no problems with that. We are that, accepted. But we are not only that! Theres is a lot more to this country than slums, beggars, people who scoop childrens eyes out, slumlords, slumlords who become real estate barons, bpo agents who leave their seat to dial Kaun Banega Crorepati's number.. I am sure there are people like that. But there is a small number of people like that.

In a country like India, even exceptions run into millions.

Maybe slumdog was a story of those millions but the way it projected India made it sound like there were a billion slumdogs in this country. Everyone who is reading this post in their college or in the comfort of their homes or in an internet cafe know thats not true.

A friend once asked me what place I would like to visit atleast once in my life...I said I wanted to visit Sweden. Now I know no more about Sweden than Danny Boyle knows about Mulund, but I really wanna visit that country. The reason being that I read real nice things about the place in the book - "Catch me if you can" by Frank Abagnale Jr. There are about 15 lines about Sweden in there, and you fall in love with the place.

You know one place that I was scared of? - Rio De Janeiro. I saw the movie Cidade de Deus which is about the mafia in Rio. It took Dhoom 2 to change my perception about the place.

Doesnt Outsourced have its own share of slums and slumdogs? Yes it does.
There is a scene in the first 30 mins of the movie where a slum kid steals Todd's cellphone. My sister and my mom, who were watching the movie, clucked their tongues feeling bad at the way a kid was shown stealing. But the kid returns the cellphone in the end, not only that he decorates it with coloured designs.

Todd falls in love with India, like most Indians do.. Even the ones who keep saying - "is desh ka kuch nahi ho sakta", "sab chalta hai", guys who travel in local trains during rush hour, executives who lose precious time stuck in traffic, a beggar at a traffic signal, a couple who cant hold hands coz there are too many people around, a student who applies for MS in the US, an Indian who currently stays in the US but still longs to return - everyone.. everyone.. once in their life, falls in love with this beautiful country.

And so does Todd.. When he gets called over to have lunch in the slum, when his manager brings special American food for him coz his stomach is upset due to all the Indian food, when the slumkid returns his decorated cellphone, when he falls in love with Asha - everytime..., he falls in love with India.

I hoped Slumdog wouldnt win the Oscar. But then it won. I have no problems with it winning the oscar, except this -
20 years down the line, my 15 year old son is gonna come to me and rave about how cool the 1997 Oscar winner Titanic is!!
"Hey Pop! Saw Titanic last night.. 1997 Oscar winner aint it?"
"Yeah, its really cool.. Its a classic"
"I wanna see the 2008 Oscar winner now- Slumdog Millionaire"
I was wondering what would I say - Would I ask him not to watch it coz the movie is a skewed depiction of us or Would I allow him to watch it coz a man needs to form his own opinions.
And what if I do allow and he comes to me asking me - "Pop! You lived in Mumbai right? India was such a Shithole!!"
I would want to tell him that, thats the way a group of smart asses in the West perceived us back then, but not everyone did. If you want to see India through the eyes of unbiased westerner, and dont mind the fact that a bunch of bozos found his view too unscandalous to give it any award - go watch Outsourced

SM will do to people what Cidade did to me. Thankfully Outsourced is around to change their perception.



"Outsourced" soup for the "slumdoged" soul!SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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Of Holi and that confession thingy

When I was very young, probably in the fourth or the fifth grade, my dad would pack me downstairs with a small bucket full of water balloons to play holi with my friends. Now as far as I remember, I was a shy guy (arre sacchi!). I didnt have many friends. So while all the other kids would be busy colouring each other, a drawing class gone wrong, I would wonder how to enter the colour fest. I mean how do you go about throwing water balloons at people you dont know very well. I used to stand in the corner wondering how to get into the commotion. After half an hour of standing there, I would turn around to go back home, but just so that I dont look like a complete loser to my dad, I would throw a few balloons on cars, and a few on myself, to look the part. Then I would return home, soaked in the colour of three balloons I splashed myself with, take a bath and have puranpoli for lunch.

What I didnt know is that my dad used to watch me from our third floor apartment, while I went on throwing balloons on cars and drenching myself in colour. He didnt say a word.

***

My best holi were the ones I played with my cousins. The night before the holi day, we sat in the bathroom stocking ammunition. I filled balloons with water using my new nagraj brand pichkari, while Aroop expertly tied knots to the balloons. He had names for all types of knots. Floppy knot, army knot, super knot..
"Arre main aisa knot bandhega na, Michael Jackson bhi nahi khol paayega", Aroop used to say.
"Michael Jackson kaun hai?", I asked. I didnt have cable then. My favourite shows included Phulwari bachon ki on DD1.
"Abbe Michael Jackson nahi malum? kya dance karta hai bey woh.."
Its amazing how highly kids thought of him. And who can blame them, I mean of the 6.5 billion people in the world, how many have turned snow white from jet black?
Aroop(I know you are secretly reading this), you were such a showoff! :P But not his mistake entirely if you ask me, this is what cable Tv did to a lotta boys during the 90s.

***

Our colony, had two cricket groups the "bade log" and the "chotte log". My problem was that I fell in the age group which was common to both. But I chose to play in the chotte log, coz they played underarm cricket and I didnt know how to bowl overarm then and also it was easier to win there. What? Dont judge me! I like to win!

I shifted base to bade log at the start of the 7th std. I had taken a liking to overarm cricket inspite of the fact that I was terrible at batting and couldnt bowl 6 legitimate deliveries without giving away 20 extras. Anyhow, it was Bablu, who was usually the captain of my side, who had deep rooted confidence in me. How else do you explain a newbie bowler like me getting the first over in every match. As I excelled in the following years, it was as much as a triumph for him as it was for me. I have opened bowling several times now, even so for my team in college, but it still doesnt compare with the thrill that I used to experience when Bablu tossed me the ball.
Over the years I have taken Bablu's place and tried to do for kids like Debu and Nachiket what Bablu did for me. Its such a high to see them grow into such good players.

***

During my engineering, holi became just another holiday. Last year when I worked with Siemens, it ceased to be even that. I spent the that holi in the office. Ofcourse we did throw a little customary colour around. Too bad our German boss took a leave that day (clever fellow), we had decided to give him a taste of Indian festivities (if you know what I mean). So we spent the day working a little and forwarding mails a lot, which is good thing, coz the next day I had my friends (who worked in Indian companies which were more considerate to their needs of soaking themselves in colour on holi) send me queries like -
"Dude? yesterday wasnt a holiday??"
To which I replied - "Nahi re, was in the office. "
"hehe, dude!! no holiday on holi-day?? hehe he"(yeah, thats the level of jokes we crack)
"No re, had to work.. Have to finish this project before the German boss leaves for home. If I dont the assembly line in Berlin will have serious problems. Thousands of euros down the drain I tell you."
"Doood!!!"
He was in deep awe. He must have thought that I was the VP (Assembly lines) Siemens AG. Here, it should be noted that he was an IT guy and for him assembly lines was pretty much the lines we stood in before the morning prayer back in school.
But I did hear him telling my other friends - "Abbe! Arshat kaam karta hai bey!!"(his eyes and the eyes of the one hearing this statement as big as saucers)

***

Last confession - I will be celebrating this holi with my cousins, it gonna be fun. I know for a fact that Aroop's favourite isnt MJ any more. So I wont get any - "Abbe Michael Jackson nahi malum? kya dance karta hai bey woh..". He might ask me questions on Metallica though- showoff I tell you :P
My dad is abroad so he wont be joining us. But I would be cool even if he was there. Coz now whatever happens, I wont splash myself with balloons to look the part...

Happy Holi everyone.






















My 2007 holi post here

Of Holi and that confession thingySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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26 letters to the editor Links to this post