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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Chp 130. Three moments to cherish

As yours truly landed in Delhi on Thursday, three comical incidents happened to me that I guarantee will make you laugh or at least smile too

The first incident took place at the baggage conveyor-belt.

So there we were, passengers of flight G8/352, leaning in front of the sliding conveyor-belt with our respective trolleys, waiting for our baggage (also known as a “luggage”, incase my sis in UK doesn’t know what the hell is a baggage ).

All of us tired and weary from the nearly two hours long flight from Mumbai, and all of us strangers to each other, Intimacy was indeed closely guarded in such a situation. It’s fascinating how we can just sit for 2 hours occasionally rubbing our elbows with a person just inches away from us, and yet never talk to him/her the entire time. In spite of the numerous times I’ve flown, the number of times in which I’ve actually ended up socializing with my neighbor could be counted with my mere fingers.

And then there’s the ice-breaker. Something funny happens which makes everybody laugh. And when such people, strangers to each other, laugh, you will notice that they will always make eye contact with the other strangers around them. And when they see them laughing too, they automatically feel closer to each other. Yes, the power of observation is indeed powerful, if harnessed properly.

Such an ice-breaker occurred that day. During the last round of baggage arrival on the conveyor belt, when we were all silently and anxiously waiting for our baggage to appear, something funny appeared on the conveyor-belt. It was a suitcase handle, a broken suitcase handle without the suitcase! As the small piece passed us, we slowly looked at each other and eventually ended up laughing. The more the eye-contacts, the more the laughter. A CAT question could even be based on this incident: There were 20 people in the Airport, and they made eye contact with everyone, once. How many eye contacts were made totally? Same question, except now, there’s a mirror present? Ahhh…. CAT…

Well, so back to my story. That afternoon we all had a hearty laugh. And then the broken suitcase appeared on the conveyor-belt. I stopped laughing immediately: It was MY suitcase!!!! Aaaargh I should have seen that coming, considering the fact that I was 20kgs excess beyond the permissible 15kgs limit! It was indeed a very heavy suitcase. Dumb me! Aaaaaarghhhhhh!!!!

As my suitcase passed the others in front of me, I could see them all looking at it and smiling again. Some grinned, some laughed, and some even pointed to it, telling their friends that that was the suitcase. Guess what I did? As my suitcase came to me, I just grinned at it like the rest and let it pass me as if it wasn’t mine! Hell no I wasn’t going to be the laughing stock of the group, especially since I was one of those who laughed the most at the handle . I’m sure any Mizo reading this is immediately thinking “i van han ţhing em emm” (Dude, you suck)

I picked up my poor broken suitcase only in the end when the others around me had left. He who laughs first laughs the shortest. How true. Mr. Jeh Wadia, you owe me a suitcase handle .

The second incident took place on my way home from the airport.

As usual, I took a prepaid cab because of the notorious auto and taxi drivers who thrive mainly on fleecing customers. It cost 160 bucks from the Airport to Safdarjung Enclave. Everything was going smooth for the first few minutes. And then the taxi stalled (or so claimed the taxi driver). I made the mistake of giving the prepaid slip to him in the beginning. So the taxi driver said he will put me in an auto with his own money. Sounds fair to you? Fair because I was going to reach home anyway without paying anything extra right? Absolutely not!!! I paid 160 bucks. 160 was for the taxi journey, and not just a ticket to haul me home by any means.

The taxi driver got me an auto for 60 bucks. He paid the auto driver that much and transferred my baggage into the auto. That was when I couldn’t remain a silent spectator anymore. I told the taxi driver to give me at least 70 bucks more, because the distance he travelled from the airport won’t even reach 30 bucks. He refused, saying it’s all on the prepaid slip and I was going to reach home anyway. I could have taken him to the cops, but considering the situation (It was extremely hot and humid, I was dying to reach home, I was dying to see my girl again etc etc) and all the hassles of police station, court case etc over just 70 bucks just didn’t feel like it was worth it.

But I was not going to be duped again, just because of my “foreign-looking” facial feature and my broken Hindi. My mind started churning out something really evil to make sure he won’t dupe a person like me ever again. I couldn’t ask him back for the pre-paid slip because that means I will have to shell out extra cash for the auto.

I looked at the auto driver. He was way bigger than the cheating taxi driver. I gestured to him nonchalantly and told him to take me to my house for 130 bucks, and not 60! *Boy I’m Evil!* He was speechless for a moment. He looked at the surprised taxi driver, hesitating a bit. Then I added fuel to the fire by informing the auto driver that if he was not willing to go by 130, I will find another auto that will. Which auto driver can resist that, to bargain with a customer over the price being too low????

My trusty auto driver was on top of the taxi driver within seconds. A push here, a shove there. The other people driving on the road were watching the strange spectacle. I didn’t care. Finally the roughed-up taxi driver reached in his wallet for 70 more bucks and gave it to the auto driver. We left.

I was happy. My auto driver was very happy. The taxi driver – not so happy

Now here’s the thing. The taxi’s engine could have genuinely stalled. But when one is a victim of so many treacherous fleecing, one can’t help but have a feeling that any incident like that is just another cheap tactic used by such people to daylight rob you. If it was a genuine break-down, then I really feel sorry for the bugger and that’s why I was as fair as possible, as he still ended up with 30 bucks for a few meters drive.

The third incident, a very short and minor one, was when I rushed into Mumbai airport on my way to Delhi. I got into the wrong terminal (there was a construction going on), and the helpful cops asked me for my airlines. I said “Indigo”. They told me to go to the next terminal. But when I reached there, the security guards didn’t let me go in because GoAir takes off from yet another terminal! I pointed at the sign that says “Indigo” and I said it takes off from here. They said Indigo takes off from here, not GoAir. I was confused. I asked them, “Aren’t Indigo and GoAir the same?” They all laughed, including the passengers waiting in queue behind me. I always thought “GoAir” was the name of the flight managed by the Airlines “Indigo”. Stupid me (again). But then I blame my mom. I inherited her genes. When I was in Mumbai, my worried mother called me up and asked me how I’m going to reach Delhi now that all the flights in India are cancelled due to strike. I told her my flight’s as scheduled. She said no, and even tried to prove her point by reading from the News channel that said “All Indian flights are cancelled”. I corrected her, saying “Indian” was the new name of “Indian Airlines”.

Come to think of it, we aren’t stupid. I blame the Airlines for confusing us with such names as “Go” and “Indian”

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Chp 129. Serve-us-not, we’re Mizos.

There is one peculiar characteristic I’ve noticed in my girlfriend; whenever we go out to dine at a restaurant or hotel, she never lets the waiter serve us the dishes. She is dead set against other people serving us food; she considers it degrading and demeaning for a fellow human being to do something for us that we can easily do by ourselves, even if their job profile requires them to perform such a task. An admirable quality, if you ask me.

“They’ve already bought the food to the table, how difficult is it for us to lift our hands to serve the dish by ourselves?” she would often remark. Of course if we are having something really fancy that requires extraordinary talent from the waiter’s part to serve the special dish, then she lets the waiter do the needful. But when it comes to “ordinary” items like rice, noodles, gravy etc, she always insists on serving the dishes herself.

Before jumping into our own respective conclusions, I think it is very important to take a deeper look at our Mizo culture. Just because most of us (at least a majority of the youth of Aizawl) wear the latest designer labels and listen to the latest hiphop chartbusters doesn’t mean that we are at par with the much more modernized Western World or Indian Metropolis. In such places, the society has progressed up to such a level that the service industry is one of the healthiest Industries in the economy.

In a developed Country or Metropolis, people pay for the services rendered onto them. Right from valet parking to door-man tipping, many employees thrive on such business. In Mizoram, such services are almost unheard of. Most of the restaurants in Mizoram are places where you have to place your order and wait for the designated chef to finish cooking your order so that you can take it back to your table. That’s how life is over there: Simple and uncomplicated.

That does not mean we are displaying some weird tribal streak or anything like that. It saddens me whenever I come across such Mizos (expatriates) who have been away from Mizoram for hardly a few years and all of a sudden have this detestable attitude towards Mizoram for its “backwardness”, “naiveté” and even “tribalism”. Being individually backward is different from being economically backward. Mizoram is a very young and petite State with an extremely scarce job opportunity, and it would be exceedingly unfair to even attempt to compare it with the social life of other progressive States of India.

Another important factor we cannot afford to over-look: the cultural peculiarities of the Mizos.

Nearly 20 years I’ve been studying outside Mizoram now. Whenever I tell my non-Mizo friends about the “Servant-Master” relationship in Mizoram, nobody believes me. They exclaim, “Kima, that’s a load of bull.” But it’s very much true.

What they find so hard to believe, is the fact that in Mizoram (those households having domestic help), the servant/maid/butler not only live in the same house with his/her own private room, but also dines with the family on the same table at the very same time!

Yes I can picture you finding that hard to swallow too. But it’s true. Any Mizo will vouch for it. In Mizoram, class distinction is not very prominent. Social stratification is usually based purely on one’s income and job designation. And social mobility between two different classes is easier compared to most other Indian societies. Hence, servants are also treated with deep respect and almost “equals”.

When I was studying in Kolkata, I had a Marwari Local Guardian. He used to take me out of the hostel once every month to stay at his joint-family home for the weekend. I was surprised at what I used to notice over there. During any meal, all the womenfolk of the house sat on the floor or in the kitchen making fresh chapattis for the men who were seated on the dining table. The family was a very large one, but none of the wives ever got to sit with their husbands during any meal. After we all finished eating, the wives washed the plates and then only eat the remaining food. Just imagine how a servant would be treated in such a household if this was the treatment meted out by the family members themselves: Having a servant sitting with the family during a meal in such a household would be sacrilegious!

Even if that is just the oddity of that particular family, I’ve been all over India enough to know that servants are treated almost like outcasts. Most of them sleep on the hard kitchen floor at night. Currently the trend is a “visiting maid”, where the household employs such a maid to come over to their house at a particular time on a daily basis. That way it works out best for both parties: The family don’t have to support her with food and shelter, and the maid can have multiple employers.

But in Mizoram, such “visiting maids” are unheard of. The servant stays with the family on a permanent basis. And youngsters address them with a “U” prefix to their names. “U” (pronounced “oooh”) means to call somebody an elder brother or sister, a sign of showing the deepest respect to somebody older than you: U-Kima, U-Sangi, U-Jimmy, U-Mary etc etc…

Another difference: In a metropolitan culture, if you are (formally) invited to a friend’s place for dinner, the least courtesy is to take along a bottle of wine or something like that. And if you wash your dirty dishes, it would be considered an extremely grave insult to the host’s hospitality. In our Mizo culture, that is not how things are. Usually the guests aren’t expected to bring anything to the host’s table, but it is common courtesy for the older members of the “guest group” to help the host with the cooking, and later on, the washing.

As mentioned before, in most societies, a guest washing the dishes is considered as an insult to the hospitality shown by the host. But in Mizoram, common etiquette is for the guest to “attempt to wash the dishes”. Of course the host usually intervenes and stops the guest before he/she can actually wash them, but it is considered quite a bad manner if you are just dumping the dishes without even attempting to wash your own plate. Do remember this point if you are ever invited over to a Mizo’s house for dinner. As you are done eating, attempt to wash your plate. Try making a loud indication that you’ve finished eating, if you are afraid the host might not realize you’ve finished eating . Exclaim, “oooh what a lovely meal”. Subtle hints only. Do not go around proclaiming, “Ah, I’ve finished eating. Now I am going over to the kitchen sink to wash my plate with my own hands!”

Later on, the elder youth of both sides of the family (guest and host) get together to wash all the dirty dishes, while the parents and children relax in the living room eating paan and smoking cigarettes or watching the idiot box.

That is why culture is very important: Culture of the particular society and their perception on various issues. A servant dining with the family is normal in our Mizo society, but it is not so in most other Indian societies. Similarly, manual labor is usually confined to the lower classes in other societies whereas in Mizoram, people of different statuses rub shoulders with each other during such manual labors [Digging graveyards, cleaning ditches, farming etc]. The same issue can have different perceptions in every society. Most Mizo youth consider Call center jobs and Civil service to be extremely prestigious job designations. The Metropolitans usually consider such occupations as “last resort jobs” or “something that you do when you fail in everything else”.

Coming back to my earlier topic, I think my girlfriend has a very good point. Some of you may say “It’s our money and we can spend it anyway we like. And we like to be treated as Royalty at such restaurants.” Sure, I am not here to dictate the way you manage your financials. Your money - your wish. Just consider this as a friendly advice. The modern capitalist class is less cohesive than the medieval aristocracy which was based on noble descent. Birla, JRD, Mittal, Ambani, Rockafeller, Carnegie, Ford etc are just some of the greatest success stories in recent times. They all started from the lowest rung of the ladder working their way up the industrial society with nothing but hard-work, initiative and enterprise. They truly deserved to be served. Whereas when most of us are barely earning enough to make ends meet or are still depending on our parents for “pocketmoney”, can you honestly say you have a clear conscience to let somebody else serve you food at a restaurant?

Food for thought. Peace out!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chp 128. Shrek of the Caribbean’s 13

A review of the latest release of Shrek, Pirates and Ocean’s 13.

Caution: May contain spoilers. [That is, in case you haven’t watched them yet (duh), which is quite unlikely as I am only able to publish this post 4 days after I wrote it due to scarcity of internet access here in Mumbai near my apartment]

One of the greatest perks of vacationing with your elder sister is that you get to watch a lot of movies, all free of cost .

And what moment can be more auspicious than these past two weekends which just saw the release of three much awaited Hollywood blockbuster sequels: Shrek the Third, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s end, and Ocean’s 13.

Frankly speaking, I was quite disappointed with “Shrek the Third”. Maybe because of all the hype surrounding it or that the previous two parts were just too damn good. Or maybe it’s a fact that the film Industry cannot pull a “Godfather” again, that is, make all the sequels as great as the prequel.

Movies I II III
The Godfather
Pirates of the Caribbean
Ocean’s 11-13

Rating the three new releases, this is my order of preference:

Ocean's 13

Pirates of the Caribbean
At World's End

Shrek the Third

3rd Place: Shrek the Third.

No pun intended on “Shrek the Third” indeed coming third . At the end of the show, one can’t help having that eerie feeling that somewhere out there, the directors, producers, writers and casts are laughing their asses out at us for falling for their sick prank.

The humor in the movie was extremely bland and childish on many occasions. It was nothing compared to the previous two parts, and the introduction of Arthur (voice of Justin Timberlake) didn’t make any difference at all. In fact, frankly speaking, to me it felt as if the twisted plot lines were the result of a strong gust of wind suddenly blowing inside the studio and mixing up all the plot lines of different projects… I mean, mixing up fairy tales with folklores and myths and urban legends? In the previous part, we saw the Fairy Godmother as the main villain. Part one introduced us to the three little pigs, pinnochio, gingerbread man etc. I sincerely felt the writers shouldn’t have brought in the characters of King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, the headless horse man, cyclops etc this time.

I think what made it worse was the grand build-up to the movie. With all the hype surrounding it, one automatically goes to see the movie expecting it to be better than or at least as great as the previous two parts. My sense of humor just got slam dunked and all you see at the end of the show were just frowning faces everywhere. The kids loved it though; you could hear them laughing during the entire movie at any damn thing, after all, they are just kids. Even tele-tubbies make them laugh. But for grown-ups, this movie is a complete no-no.

2nd Place: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.

We loved it. But then, after a not so great second part (Dead man’s chest), we do deserve to be entertained . Loved the humor, especially the Pirate jokes. And the best part was, Captain Barbossa’s back! Love him. He’s an epitome of all things Pirate .

Keira Knightley’s as dashing as ever, charming her way with her boyish yet feminine appeal right into our hearts. The action scenes were definitely better choreographed than the previous part. And hey, the movie’s almost 3 hours long, but I feel it’s definitely worth your money.

Chow Yun-Fatt was another ingredient to this great blockbuster. Acting wise, I give him a full 10 out of 10. But I was disappointed a bit because the writers did not utilize his full potential as a martial-arts artist. No such fancy trademark moves of his during the rumble. And speaking of Chinese, there was that Singapore bath-tub scene where two hot Chinese babes were “fanning” Chow Yun-Fatt, and when the British soldiers came, one of the girls got shot in the head. The other girl looked up with burning vengeance in her eyes. At this point, I expected her to do some really fancy kung-fu move or something like that. But nah, the next scene, she too was shot. What an anti-climax.

Apart from that, the movie was fantastic. Swashbuckling action and sarcastic humor wise, this movie takes the cake. Plot wise though… hmmm there are a few too many loop holes. Like for example, when the British soldiers were holding Davy Jones’ heart at ransom, threatening to shoot it to pieces if the crew of the Black Pearl disobeyed them, well, knowing the almost-supernatural powers of the human-fish mutant crew, I’m sure they would have secured the heart safely had they rushed the nervous and scared British troops. And then I didn’t get the part about the Calypso at all. So she grew bigger and bigger. Then she turned into hundreds of crabs. Then she created a whirlpool. And then what? That wasn’t what I expected after all the hype created by the pirates about the dangers of releasing her.

And the meeting of the Heads of “their respective Seas” didn’t exactly make me go all “wow”. A meeting of the head of different families of a mafia would make me sit up more on my seat than this (even that music video “…them thangs” by G-Unit (50Cents) with a similar assembly of different head honchos is more exciting to watch).

Anyway, with all the fantastic action scenes and slick Jack Sparrow humor, this movie is worth every penny.

1st Place: Ocean’s 13.

After a rather dull and boring second part, the magic of Clooney and Brad Pitt finally struck again. We all loved the first part, didn’t we? You’ll love this one too.

Al Pacino played out his role perfectly. There was no Julia Roberts this time, but I think its better that she wasn’t. I mean, how corny is it for a movie star playing a certain character to play a part of the actual movie star’s character (in “Ocean’s 12”) even if it means a few minutes guest appearance of Bruce Willis. No wonder the second part was such a flop. This time, the writers have done their homework well, learning from their mistakes. And the result? A fantastic third part.

Just a small suggestion though. They should have written Yen’s Chinese dialogues during the movie with English subtitles. So what if the crew understands Chinese? The audiences don’t. Eventually we get what the little China man is saying because the rest of the cast talk in such a way (subtle repetition of what he said in English under the sly pretext of exclamation) that we can figure out what he said in Chinese. But when the rest of the crew do that too often, the fact that they are trying to translate what Yen said in Chinese to the audiences is pretty obvious and hence becomes quite lame.

Over all, this is the best movie to watch this summer so far. I didn’t like Spiderman 3 at all. And then there is the upcoming sequel of Fantastic Four (Silver Surfer) to hit the silver screen next week. I will be in Delhi with my baby by then, so I guess even if the movie sucks, let’s just say I won’t be disappointed inside the theatre *evil GRIN*

Friday, June 08, 2007

Chp 127. NBA 2007 Finals [Game 1]

Three new posts in a span of 24 hours. Must be the Mumbai heat getting into my head

Woke up this morning at 6 am although the game was supposed to start only at 0630 hours IST, because I was hoping to catch some of the highlights of “The road to the Finals” of both the Eastern and Western Conference. But nah. Nothing. No such build-up. Just the usual “Sportscenter” program running on ESPN. Then at 6:30am the game started.

Before that, let’s take a brief look at how these two best teams from the Eastern and Western Conference got here:

Spurs: 1 Cavs: 0
Spurs: 4 Jazz: 1
Spurs: 4 Suns: 2
Spurs: 4 Nuggets: 1

Cavs: 0 Spurs: 1
Cavs: 4 Pistons: 2
Cavs: 4 Nets: 2
Cavs: 4 Wizards: 0

Made my usual (extra strong) coffee as I parked my sleepy ass on top of the burly cushy bean bag. Here is my own personal recap of this morning’s game, noted down on the comp after each Quarter. What time is it? Game Time!!!!

1st Quarter:

Slow start. Yawnnn. The Cavaliers ended the first quarter by missing 9 of their last 10 shots. Lebron James scored just two points while Duncan converted 8 points with great assists from Parker. Parker was on fire, challenging the tall Cavalier defence with awesome drive-ins and teasing them around. He massed up 6 points. And regarding my earlier question in my previous post, the answer is, yes, Parker is still very much seeing Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives), and in fact they are planning to tie the knot next month. She was right there at courtside cheering for her fiancé. Lucky Parker!

Spurs: 20 Cavs: 15


2nd Quarter:

Spurs lost the lead by going the first 6 minutes without scoring a point. Ginobili played badly, fumbling in the offence court, missing shots and creating unnecessary turnovers. That kinda executed a domino effect on the rest of the team, and Cavs took a 25-22 lead half way through the second quarter. Time-out called by the Spurs.

And then something happened during that time-out; Either it was old man Gregg Popovich giving a good pep talk to his players or Eva Longoria secretly giving a flying kiss to Parker, but after that time-out, the Spurs were on fire. Amazing assists (Steve Nash style) from Parker. The Spurs took a 9-0 run in less than one minute! Score- Spurs 31 Cavs 26. Another Time-out.

Lebron James is now on Parker, man to man. Immediately Popovich brought in Ginobili to help Parker in the offence. It worked. The Spurs were still unstoppable. Eric Snow (of the Sixers fame), the only “veteran” player from Cavs to have played the NBA Finals before, entered the game with around 14 seconds to go. The second quarter ended with Lebron James on just 1 assist and 4 points (all Free Throws) with a 0-7 Field Goal! Parker ended the first half with 12 points and 5 assists. Duncan had 14 points and 6 rebounds.

Spurs: 40 Cavs: 35


Half Time report on ESPN: “The special relationship between Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan”. Yawnnnnnnn. How clichéd can things get? We’ve seen these things a zillion times whenever there’s an outstanding coach and an outstanding player making it to the Finals: Phil Jackson & Michael Jordan, Jerry Sloan & John Stockton, Don Nelson & Steve Nash, Larry Brown & Iverson, Pat Riley & Alonzo Mourning, etc etc. What we miss out the most during half-time when watching such a match on cable are the cheer leaders .

3rd Quarter:

Grant Hill and the other commentators at Half Time report were right; the game was becoming a Tony Parker show. Parker put in 6 more points in the third quarter. Lebron James scored his first Field Goal after 6 minutes. At this point, I think the best performer from Cavs would be Gooden with 12 points and 2 assists in this quarter, although that flagrant foul on Ginobili with 2:21 to go was unecessary.

Ginobili contributed well too, with 9 points and a 2-3 three point FG. Towards the end of the third quarter the Spurs seemed to have completed decimated the Cavs. Lebron James was still struggling with just 8 points and a 2-12 shooting FG! Tim Duncan reached his double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds before being substituted by Elson with 0:47 seconds remaining on the clock.

Spurs: 64 Cavs: 49


3rd Quarter break: I seriously felt the game kinda sucked. What makes a great game? At this point, both teams should have scored more than 60 points at least, with at least two key players from both teams in foul trouble. In this game, nobody’s in the danger zone when it comes to fouls. Hence, no thrill. I love it when the players had to change their pace and game-play because of foul troubles. Other incidents that make a game a great game: Over-Times, fist fights and heated arguments! Today’s game felt as if all of them were on sedatives or something like that. I’ve never seen such a pacified & tranquilized Finals as today’s.

4th Quarter:

Spurs continued to dominate. Although a part of me was happy, there was also a part of me disappointed because Cavs were not putting up a good fight at all. It definitely did not feel like the Playoffs, leave alone the Finals. Spurs surprisingly took more offensive rebounds than was expected. I think that was the main key to them taking such a good lead. Halfway through the fourth quarter Spurs were on an 18 point lead. Spurs had a good percentage from beyond the arch too, with most of them burying 3’s above 50% FG. James scored his first three points with 6:50 to go. Parker replied immediately with a coast-to-coast drive-in. Lebron then answered with a 3 point “back-to-back three” reply to Parker’s reply. Are things starting to heat up? Too little too late. Spurs were on a 14 point lead with 5:56 to go. Time-out.

Cavs came back and put up a worthy fight nevertheless. With 2:27 to go, the lead was reduced to single digit (78-69). Another Time-out.

Lebron James blocked Parker at one end (it looked like Goal Tending to me) and Gibson fired a three at the other, reducing the game to an 8 point lead with 1:45 to go. Duncan increased it to a 10 point game with 45 seconds remaining. Gibson fired another 2 point, 6-8 from the field, pulling back the lead to 8. Parker with a three point play put it back to 11 points lead. Again Gibson answered with a two (7-9 FG) with 8 seconds to go. Too late. Spurs clinched the first game with a 9 point lead. Yay.

Spurs: 85 Cavs: 76


Spur’s path to victory:

1. Spur’s excellent defence completely disabled Lebron James. There were always others around to help out whoever was taking James.
2. Offensive rebounds. Cavs took 7 offensive rebounds out of their today 32, while Spurs massed up a whooping 43 rebounds out of which 13 were offensive rebounds!
3. Apart from 24 points and 13 rebounds, Duncan also contributed to 5 blocks (I still love his shy smile after every time he blocks someone). Lebron James on the other hand had just 14 points, 7 rebounds and 1 block.

Players who scored doubled-digits in Game 1.

Players (team) Points FG Assists Rebounds
Parker (S) 27 12-23 7 4
Duncan (S) 24 10-17 1 13
Gibson (C) 16 7-9 4 1
Ginobili (S) 16 5-12 0 8
L.James (C) 14 4-16 4 7
Gooden (C) 14 6-9 0 4
Pavlovic (C) 13 6-12 0 5
Varejao (C) 10 3-6 0 4

Over all, Spurs had a 45.3 FG percentage while Cavs shot 42.9%

Hoping to see a higher percentage from both teams on the next game. Go Spursss!!!

Next Game: Monday morning 0630 hours IST @ ESPN.
Match venue: San Antonio.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Chp 126. Mumbai diary

* NBA Finals 2007.
* Life in Mumbai.
* PC parts price-list in Mumbai.
* Autos in Mumbai.
* …and other useless topics I can cough out.

I guess this is probably the first time I am updating my blog with two new posts in one day. I really hope you go through my previous post too (shamelessly taking for granted that you are going to go through this one )

Well, so right now, as mentioned before, I am vacationing in Mumbai at my sister’s place. She just got her increment at work recently, so we are always smiling at home.

Mumbai is just like how I remembered it. After all, things don’t change much within a span of 6 months, duh. Except for that gap right in front of our apartment connecting to the highway which is now blocked. Hence we have to take a U-turn all the way ahead if we are coming from the other side. That means at least 5 rupees extra on the meter. Still, compared to Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai, the autowallahs in Mumbai rock: They all obediently ply by the meter unlike the other places mentioned above.

Everybody in our Apartment like Sify Café uncle, phone booth uncle, milk shop uncle, cigarette shop uncle, other phone booth uncle, and the vegetable vendor all still remembered me!! They asked me where I’ve been all these time. I replied “Delhi”. They exclaimed, “Wow your Hindi has improved!” Must be the way I pronounced Delhi. Lolz. Just kidding. But I assure you, my Hindi has really improved after staying in Delhi.

Met the IIMB gang at Infinity Mall, Andheri (E). Hanged out at Monu’s posh apartment. When they asked me about Delhi, I replied, “Delhi is soooo amazing. Everybody speaks Hindi over there. Even the small kids running semi naked on the streets know Hindi!!!” Except for Amra and Monu, nobody else got the joke. You gotta be a non-Hindi speaker struggling at Hindi language classes to understand the joke. (“America is so sophisticated. Everybody can speak in English over there!” Got it? )

We ordered Shawarmas, our gang’s favorite junk food (right after KFC zinger burgers), from Monu’s place. Another subtle reminder that in Mumbai, one can order anything over the phone. And I mean anything. With a population density of over 27000 per sq km, the service industry is thriving extremely well. The population density of Delhi is around 9400/sq km – It may be the most densely populated State/UT in India, but city-wise, Mumbai is way ahead. (Just for comparison: Bengaluru is approximately 3000/sqkm, Kolkata & Chennai are both around 25000/sqkm and Aizawl is around 95/sqkm).

And oh, Mumbai is humidddddd!!!! Sticky sticky sticky everywhere. Thank God my sister has an AC in her bedroom. And I don’t know if it is the AC or the responsibility talking, but I seem to be able to concentrate on my studies much more. And by studying, I mean reading through my “Manorama Yearbook 2007” (Now you know where all the density data above came from ). I plan to be familiar with the entire book by the end of August. I sincerely hope I can meet that deadline.

Apart from my IIMB friends, I’ve also met Aldrin (online nick
ThugAngel) and a few others. Unfortunately I still can’t find the time to meet the others like Muang (online nick mnowluck) and some of my old friends from School and College. There is so much to pack and send to Delhi, I just feel like outsourcing this “simple” task of mine. Any takers? I will pay in bhel puris and alu chaats.

I’ve also fixed my comp finally, will pack it up along with my “things to send to Delhi” pile. Whoever said Computer accessories are the cheapest in Delhi? I asked around in Delhi for the cost of an SMPS box. Everywhere it was around 600 to 900 bucks. In Mumbai, I’ve just bought an SMPS box (with one year warranty) for 400 bucks! I might buy some other accessories too. 160 GB hard disk for around 2000 bucks, GeForce 256MB AGP card for around Rs.2000 etc. They even have a 750 GB hard disk!!!! Let me know if any of you (I mean those of you I can meet in Delhi) want anything from here.

For some people, the idea of a vacation might be “to sleep till noon”. Not for me though. Because this is the only time my sister can sleep till 8 as I get up around 7:00-7:30 in the morning to let the house maid in. And tomorrow morning, I am getting up at 6:00 am because of the NBA Finals which will be telecasted LIVE by ESPN at 0630 IST. Woohoo, I can’t wait to watch it. It’s between the
Spurs and the Cavs. Of course I will be rooting for the Spurs, with veteran Tim Duncan leading the squad (I nearly changed my name to Kim Duncan during my early College years because of him!)

Kima’s head to head match up:

Point Guards: L.Hughes (Cavs) vs Parker (Spurs).
I’m sure Tony Parker has an edge, especially since Hughes has an injured foot. Although I’m not so sure if he is still seeing that Desperate Housewives girlfriend of his, Eva Longoria.
Cavs: 0 Spurs: 1

Shooting Guards: Pavlovic (Cavs) vs M.Finley (Spurs).
Finley can get the job done from down-town. He has been one of my favorite players since his Maverick days.
Cavs: 0 Spurs: 2

Forwards: Lebron James (Cavs) vs Bowen (Spurs).
Alright, advantage to the Cavs in this particular position. Nobody can stop James once he is on fire. Bowen may be one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, but it’s James he’s up against.
Cavs: 1 Spurs: 2

Power Forwards: Gooden (Cavs) vs Duncan (Spurs).
Duncan wins hands down. Go Duncan Go!! Show them who’s the 3 time league MVP and 3 time Finals MVP. Duncannnnnnnnnn!!!!
Cavs: 1 Spurs: 3

Centres: IIgauskas (Cavs) vs Oberto (Spurs).
Another position the Cavs have an advantage over the Spurs. Oberto needs to work on those post ups, especially since IIgauskas is shooting 52.5% in the playoffs.
Cavs: 2 Spurs: 3

Sixth man: Gibson (Cavs) vs Ginobili (Spurs).
I used to love Ginobili for his brave drive-ins. I still do. Plus this Argentinian got a mean shooting skill. But then, Gibson is also hot from beyond the arch.
Cavs: 2 Spurs: 4

Spurs definitely have an advantage over all, but then, team work and team dynamics are more important than individual talent and ratings. Let’s see how both the teams fare against each other. Indian TV timing (ESPN LIVE) of the Finals is listed below:

Game 1: June 07. 0630 hours. @ San Antonio.
Game 2: June 11. 0630 hours. @ San Antonio.
Game 3: June 13. 0630 hours. @ Cleveland.
Game 4: June 15. 0630 hours. @ Cleveland.
Game 5: June 18. 0630 hours. @ San Antonio. [# If necessary]
Game 6: June 20. 0630 hours. @ Cleveland. [# If necessary]
Game 7: June 22. 0630 hours. @ San Antonio. [# If necessary]

I love this Game!

Until then, this is me signing off from Mumbai, with a ticket back to Delhi on Monday. God bless you all.

Chp 125. Disemvowel

Among hundreds of new words and phrases recently added to the updated version of Collins English Dictionary, is the word “disemvowel”. It is something like a dark humor spoof, considering it’s origin from the word “disembowel” meaning “to remove the internal organs (intestine, stomach etc)”.

Yup, you guessed it. “Disemvowel” means to remove the vowels from a word, especially in sms, emails and internet chat sessions, in order to abbreviate the particular word.

Accorded to my limited perceptive observation, “disemvowelment” (which can become an addictive habit if unchecked) occurs mainly due to 6 reasons:

1. Cost cutting
2. Time saving
3. Phone model
4. Redefining “coolness”
5. Mister and Miss Busy
6. Sheer laziness

Cost cutting.

The cell phone boom of year 2K in the Indian market took place during my 2nd year Engineering College (Coimbatore). Everybody suddenly had one. 3 rupees/min incoming call rate in 1st year of College providentially reduced to almost 0 rupee/min outgoing call rate, thanks to fierce competition. Included in such schemes were “free sms” options1 [see footnotes]. And coming from such a “free sms” culture, we never had the need to use short cuts in our sms, because after all, it didn’t matter if our sms crossed the one sms limit or not.

Time saving.

Disemvowelers justify their action by bringing up the time factor. Guys like me and
Paul Johny (of the “more than 500 sms/day” fame) would disagree. We even conducted our own little experiment back in College. Give us a good phone with T9 option and we can assure you we will type entire sentences with coherent words quicker than disemvowlers.

Phone model.

It’s true, when it comes to technology, we must know where to draw the line. Outdated technology (old handset models with keys as hard as pebbles) and some of the latest technology (many of my friends sport PDAs now) will only hamper the desire to type proper words. Writing entire sentences in such phones feels extremely tiresome and the user has no other option but to resort to disemvoweling.

Redefining “coolness”.

“Lts B Frnds”, “Whr u frm”, “Hv V mt b4” are just some of the chat lingo one can find at various chat sessions. And sometimes, people consider it “cool” to speak like that to such an extent that a person with proper formality asking “where are you from, can we be friends?” is actually laughed and mocked at. In this process, words are replaced and soon become the actual word itself. For example, the Mizo word for monkey “zawnga” unofficially became “zonga”, which later transformed into “xonga”. Who knows what the next transformation would be? “Amos-a”?

Mister and Miss “always busy”.

When one is in the middle of an important work, or even a movie, the person usually resorts to typing the shortest sms reply possible. That’s understandable. But don’t you just hate it when somebody, who has all the time in the World, sends you a reply with just a “K” to your every sms? Hence come my last category of disemvowlers. I call it the “lazy texters”. I also call it the “Thomas Joy Syndrome”.

The Thomas Joy Syndrome.

Also known as the “K” Syndrome, people suffering from this disease tend to reply to every sms they receive with just a “K”. Aptly named after Thomas Joy, one of my closest friends (classmate and roommate right from 7th std School till College graduation) he is an epitome of sheer laziness when it comes to sms. In fact rumor has it that the “K” he writes is actually saved as a template on his handset so that he doesn’t have to waste tremendous energy typing that single letter.

So, there you go. The disemvowelers of our era.

Why do some of us disapprove of such a habit? Because we cannot hide from the fact that we Indians are pathetic when it comes to English. Forget vocabulary, many of us still make clumsy grammatical mistakes when we speak or write English. I can assure you there will be at least 20 such mistakes in all my posts, and if it was not for “auto word correction” the number of “casualties” would definitely increase. And in the midst of us struggling with the universal lingua franca, to develop the practice of disemvoweling is to sign the death warrant of English.

Two other reasons why I don’t approve of disemvoweling especially when it comes to sms:
1. It feels like a sign of disrespect or that you’re not considered important enough in the other person’s life.
2. You may understand what you are typing, because after all, it is you who is typing. But the person who receives your sms is having a hard time trying to put two and two together. Keep that in mind.

Any English teacher will tell you the kids of today are actually using words such as “thru”, “wanna”, “bcoz”, “brb” and “lol” in their English essays. Couple that with a bunch of erroneous sentences marred by grammatical and spelling mistakes and you have the perfect ingredient for disaster. Added to all that is the influence of hip-hop with its own jargon that really makes today’s kid clueless when it comes to naming the animal that barks: Is it a dog or a dawg or a dogg?

I sggst v shld gt bk 2 r Wrn & Mrtn!


1 Free sms: I consider myself to be a part of the “old skool” of “free sms” generation. Even though some service providers still offer free sms schemes today, one can easily observe the difference between the “old skool” genX and the newbies. A newbie with “free sms” may still disemvowel while typing his/her sms because at a certain point of time, he/she didn’t use such a scheme, but us old-timers started directly with free sms, hence had no reason to cut short our length. Coimbatore (BPL and Aircel) directly kick started with free sms to gain a pie of the market share of the large College student population back in 2000-01, while most of the other places in India didn’t have such a scheme.