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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Chp 160. The greatest gift of all

aka “My Arsenal Santa”

Last night, Santa came by and gave me a belated X’mas gift: A Manchester United defeat followed by an Arsenal victory, ensuring that Arsenal is back on top of the Table for the year ending 2007.

That’s not all that my Arsenal Santa gave me; Last year, my Arsenal Santa gave me the following :

And this year, the same Santa arrived at Delhi two days ago directly from Heathrow Airport and got for me the following X’mas gifts:

Cool aye? This post is dedicated to my ex-roomie and one of my closest friends: Amos aka “Goldmember” aka “FadeNoMore”.

[ Great Mug. Perfect for holding the Christmas/New Year party beer, punch and coffee. Except that nobody can drink from it other than true Arsenal fans. ]

[ An alarm clock to alert me whenever there is an Arsenal match coming up. And an authentic Arsenal cap to wear on a cold Delhi night. This isn’t one of those cheap knock-offs you find where below the Arsenal Logo is the name “Kaka” or “Zidane”. ]

[ An Arsenal Piggy bank! So that I can start saving up my coins so that one day I can buy a ticket to watch my team play at Emirates Stadium. As of now, the money box is filled with chocolates. Authentic Arsenal chocolates. They taste just like Arsenal too. ]

[ More Arsenal stuff to hang on my already filled up wall. But the thing with Arsenal is that, there can never be “too many”. There is always space for anything that is slightly related to the Club. ]

Last night was amazing. It was my girl-friend’s brother’s birthday, so we had a lot of friends over for dinner. And it turned out that I was the only Gunners fan in the room. Three types of conversations took place.

The first was the strictly football debate. This took place among us guys. After Man Utd lost, I was making so much fun of them that everybody decided to gang up on me. Oh I had a terrible time during first half when Arsenal was down 0-1. But I stood my ground, and in the second half, Arsenal, the team with the best come-back record in the League, came back with a triumphant 4-1 win! He who laughs last, laughs the longest. Touché.

The second type of conversation took place among the wives and girlfriends.

Wife1: Oh this is soooo boring!
Wife2: I swear!
GF-1: Look at them. They are behaving just like kids.
Wife3: I know. Aren’t they cute!
GF-2: Awwwww… choo chweet.

The third type of conversation took place among the guys again. This time, it was between the football lovers and those guys with no interest in sports.

He-1: Dude, I don’t know how you guys can go completely crazy over football. I don’t see any excitement or pleasure from watching it.
Me : It’s a personal preference dude. By the way… urrmmm… nice nail polish and eyeliner you’re wearing. They match perfectly.
He-1: Thanx dude.
He-2: What I don’t understand is how you guys can be so into football, when those players have no idea you even exist. It’s like you’re all a big bunch of wannabes.
Me : Excuse me? THIS coming from a person who dresses up in the entire gangsta Hiphop attire all the time, braids his hair even though he doesn’t have the right facial and hair features for it, wears his bling-blings even to bed, cover his entire wall and ceiling with Hiphop posters, pierced his ears only because 50 Cents did it, and use words like “Yo”, “dawg” and “biatch” even while talking in Mizo????
He-2: See… Hiphop is different…

So I guess that’s what we are. We all have our own likes and peeves. And football is one of my biggest passions. Do those players that we watch on TV ever care about my terrible toothache or my pathetic little blog? No, and I really don’t care. As long as I get an occasional break from my hectic life and prevent me from going completely insane, I will always put football at the number one spot.

And nobody can take that away from me, not even the arrogant cynic with a megalomaniac ego who utters, “Instead of wasting your time discussing about your stupid football, why don’t you think of intellectual ways to improve the development of Mizoram or eradicating poverty and corruption from our State or preserving our culture and identity?” Heh??? Screw you. Two hours a week is all I spend on football.

Don’t let anyone ever try to take away anything that you cherish dearly. Always stand firmly by what you believe in, be it Arsenal, ManUtd, cricket, music or God. And with that I wish you all a very happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Chp 159. Christmas - Mizo style

Belated Merry Christmas!

Today is definitely the worst 26th December I’ve ever spent in my entire life!

On some years, I used to spend 26th December opening up X-mas presents, or wishing family and close friends; sometimes I spend it at a Church, or with friends together at a party, or at a grand community Feast making merry with my dear and near ones. All in all, it always used to be a memorable occasion for me.

This year, today, I spent the 26th of December with a freaking toothache!!!

And it is not just any toothache. It is the most painful toothache ever to be invented by the evil lord of the underworld! The dentist told me that it was because of all the Christmas cakes, puddings and chocolates I gorged down yesterday which did not go well with my cavity.

I am right now pumped up with painkillers and antibiotics because the doctor cannot extract the tooth until the pain passes away. Hence I am a little bit woozy as I write this post . In fact, I am definitely getting a small kick from all the medications I just took! Lolz.

I hope you all had a great Christmas yesterday. Belated Merry Christmas to all my wonderful readers once again.

I spent the 24th evening alone. But it was fun because I was decorating my room (with Boney M blasting on my speakers) and chatting online with some of my friends who were also alone that night. And I decorated my room just like how my sisters and I used to decorate our house back in Mizoram: with paper ribbons! Check it out.

And then at midnight some of my friends and neighbors came over and we caroled and prayed. It was a happy night indeed. That is, I had no idea then that the chocolates were going to screw up my after-Christmas plans this much.

I spent Christmas with my Mizo community at “Mizoram House” here in Delhi. It felt great mingling with people from my community wishing strangers with the warmest smile and affection. Everybody was smiling. And I think all the sweaters and warm boots and mufflers added more Christmas effects to the whole environment

Below are some pictures taken yesterday.

The food was great too. Hats off to my good friend IAS officer Robert who is one of the many volunteers responsible for preparing such a grand feast. The meal was priced at 100 bucks per head. And here is where I love my community soooo much. You just go and pay one of the organizers the money. You are neither given a ticket or a coupon to take the food. And nobody checks whether you’ve actually paid that amount or not. Hence if you want to eat the food without paying, you can actually do that and nobody will ever find out. But the thing with our community is that, nobody does that. Everything is based on trust and an altruistic attitude of keeping the community before anything else.

And of course everybody wants to take a picture by the Christmas tree

That guy in the picture frame on the wall is the Governor of Mizoram, Mr. MM Lakhera. Very nice guy.

I gave my camera to my friend Sawmtea yesterday and I asked him to take as many photographs of different people as possible so that I can publish them on my blog. Unfortunately, he probably misheard what I said as something like “Please take as many photographs of different people as possible and make sure you are there in every snap too” So in almost every photograph that came back today, my friend Sawmtea is also standing there with his default pose. Hence I cannot display all those snaps because you might ask “Who is that guy with the same facial expression appearing in each and every Christmas snap? Kima, are you swinging both ways?”

So everyone, once again, I hope you all had a great time yesterday. Please lighten up in case your Christmas plans didn’t work out well, or you had to go to work yesterday or you’re not spending this special occasion with the one you love. Because always remember that I am spending today with the worst toothache concocted in the history of Mankind and I am still in a merry mood smiling all the time

Have fun and party safely. Love you all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chp 158. Sunday Market > Chor Bazaar

Wanna spend a freezing Delhi morning jostling with thousands of other people in a cramped and tiny place with lowlifes all around you attempting to steal your wallet or mobile phone while grabbing your ass or breast if you happen to be a woman?

Ok that did not come out right. Lemme try it again.

Wanna spend a cozy Delhi morning shopping at a large open area where you can buy some of the best goodies available in the market at a really discounted price which your friends will definitely envy you for?

Ah that sounds much better

That’s what we did this Sunday. We went to the infamous “Sunday Market”, also known by its street name as “Chor Bazaar” [Thieves’ market]. Trust me, people did not call that place “Chor Bazaar” for nothing; the place earned it. Not only will you find a lot of stolen goods at that place, you will even find your own stolen goods over there.

There’s the story about the guy whose watch was stolen the moment he stepped inside “Chor Bazaar”. As he walked a few more steps ahead, he found his watch already displayed at the showcase of one of the shops, completely polished and shining like new . And then there’s the legend about the guy whose mobile handset was stolen while he was ON the phone… he didn’t realize the theft for the next few minutes. Hah, exaggerating, am I? Yes, but at least you get bits and parts of the picture right?

If you look around carefully, there will be four main types of merchandise available at the Sunday market :
  1. Imported Second-hand (flea market)
  2. Smuggled originals
  3. Cheap knock-offs
  4. Stolen goods
Below are two photographs taken by my girl. You can also find them at “Chengkawlbial : Sunday Market [Chor Bazar]” post.

Amazing isn’t it? The above two photographs were taken at the “stolen goods” section. Have you guys ever played those “Mystery Games” type of games on your computer, where you have to find hidden objects in a room filled with different objects? See if you can find the following 10 objects:
  • Cherry Blossom show polish
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Jim Reeves cassette
  • Candle stand
  • Artificial Christmas tree
  • Casio calculator
  • Garnier Ultra-doux shampoo
  • Hero cycle
  • Logitech keyboard
  • Tennis ball
Hint: 3
Time remaining: 5 minutes


That’s what I am reminded of after going through that section. Eventually we never bought anything from the “stolen goods” section, not because of any such moral values but rather because we didn’t find anything we like.

From the other sections, I bought this amazing multi-purpose tool box for just 100 bucks!

My girl was immediately like, “what’s with you guys and the NEED to have tool boxes?” And I looked at her nonchalantly and said, “Baby, you can make fun of me but never make fun of my tool”… ok that didn’t come out right again, what’s wrong with me today! I told her bluntly, “Baby, it’s a guy thing, you wouldn’t understand.” And I added that toolbox to my large collection of other hardwares like hammers, chisel, saw (mini), nails, wrenches and screwdrivers. I love my tools and yes, I cannot live without them. Period.

And then I bought this amazing converse shoes for … guess how much?

1000? 800? 500? Well, you can get the same set of shoes from Reebok or Nike for around 2000 bucks. I bought the above shoe for just 300 bucks! Hehehe! And no, it’s not a cheap knock-off. I am quite an expert with shoes and can easily distinguish the cheap fakes from the originals. It’s definitely not one of those Chinese knock-offs like Adadas “Supperstor” instead of an Adidas “superstar”

I bought a couple of other stuff that day which were all at a good bargain. After that session, we all decided to go to the famous “Chandni Chowk” for lunch. And then we got lost on the way (we ask people where is Chandni chowk, and they say THIS is chandni chowk, and we’re like, where’s the foodstalls?), so we finally ended up eating at… McDonalds! Lolz. I know, we are so pathetic!

After lunch, we moved on to the other part of “Chor Bazaar” – The book section. You get tons and tons of books, any books, at a really really discounted price.

I saw one very sick sight. As we pushed and shoved our way down the narrow lane selling all those books, I saw one dude grabbing the ass of a muslim woman clad in a burkha. The poor woman reacted sharply from her eye expression, but the guy just moved on along with the crowd, grinning like the true asshole that he was. Fucker. And there was nothing that I could do, trapped in that huge sea of body masses rubbing against each other. Some people are so fucking sick, I just go mad thinking about it. Bastard.

I bought a couple of WW-II documentary books (“Dunkirk: The Patriotic Myth”, “Poland’s Agony” and “Hitler: The making of a Dictator”), for 20 bucks a piece! All hardbound and in excellent condition! Hehehe. It’s going to be a good week ahead.

Hoping to hit this market in the near future again, but the next time we go, we’re definitely going to make sure we eat at the Chandni chowk foodstalls.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Chp 157. Bridging the distance through internet

Arsenal 1 New 1

Remember those days a long long time ago before Rupert Murdoch’s Star network entered the Indian market? When the only television networks we used to get in Mizoram were Doordarshan, Bangladesh Channel and a couple of “Khawchhak” (South East Asian) channels? All we had to do was twist our TV antennae a bit and voilà, technology astonished us. And our elder brothers who had the knack of “twisting out” such channels were highly treasured as the community’s pride and neighbor’s envy. It was even an appropriate “bullet point” to mention in a Résumé that you were a talented antennae twister back then

You could see him walking slowly down the market square with a slight hobble and chin held up high, wearing bell-bottom jeans and leather jacket and sideburns on his cheeks which were actually just an extension of the same hair from his head… And the village damsels would stop whatever they were doing and sigh and flutter their eyelids at him. All the men admired him, all the maidens drooled over him, and all the mothers wanted him to marry their daughter. Such was the reputation of the antennae twister. Ah, those good ’ol days

And long before “Star Plus” had shows such as MASH and Sledgehammer, and before VJ Nonie was sweeping us off our feet at MTV, we had to rely on Doordarshan (I think) for the Football World Cup telecast! Every locality had a certain house which had a TV, where everybody would gather to cheer for Argentina, Cameroon or Brazil waving their respective flags. It didn’t matter what color the flag you’re carrying was, as long as the design was similar, because everything was still in black & white then

And then Cable TV entered Mizoram, Michael Jackson became white and “Star Plus” became a Hindi channel. A lot of things have changed since then. You can now catch the LIVE coverage of almost every sporting event here on the face of earth, including “sports” that involves rolling a flat disc while another team member runs along with that disc and “polishes” the ground surface on the path of the disc, until it hits another disc. I didn’t understand the game, and I didn’t give a damn what the name of the game was. But still I watched. Because it was a LIVE coverage.

This morning, 1:15 am IST, my team Arsenal had a match against Newcastle United. And horrors of horrors, neither ESPN nor StarSports were telecasting the match!!! Can you believe that? Gunners versus Magpies and no TV coverage! My ex-roomie all the way from Bangalore told me it had something to do with last minute match rescheduling. Bummer.

Here is where technology takes a step forward: Even with no TV, we really enjoyed the game!

At first, I did what my Arsenal pals from suggested: Downloaded the sopcast application so that I could watch the match LIVE on my computer. It was only after setting it up that I realized, we don’t get an internet speed greater than 2 MBps (256 kbps) here in India (TRAI regulations), which sopcast clearly required.

Hehe, so it was back to the ’ol drawing board for me. But things weren’t that bad.

I went to the usual and to “watch” the action. Livescore shows the minute by minute score update of all the matches that are playing simultaneously, while sportinglife displays the minute-by-minute written commentary of a particular game, highlighting the most important event of that particular minute (a goal, a free-kick, a corner, a stumble etc) in detail.

In addition to those two windows, I was chatting with my ex-roomie in Bangalore all the way from here, Delhi, with webcam and the entire Arsenal uniform, cheering or cursing together as we read the latest written commentary

Apart from all that, we were also online at various Arsenal forums, taking part in the ongoing discussions along with thousands of Arsenal fans worldwide. A very nice dude from UK immediately posted this clip just after Adebayor scored the first goal in the 4th minute. Thanx dude, whoever you are. The clip immediately sparked off a discussion between me and my ex-roomie.
Commentator (immediately after the goal): Adebayor! That’s outstanding. That’s typical Arsenal, typical Adebayor.

illusionaire: wat the heck did he mean “typical Adebayor”??????
illusionaire: how many times hav he shot like dat??? lolz.
amosair: hahaha!!!
amosair: crazy guy
illusionaire: think he’s just sayin something for the sake of sayin somethin
illusionaire: :-D
amosair: or he’s prolly watching the game via the internet just like us
amosair: =))
illusionaire: lolz
illusionaire: say how much do you think the guy writing down the match minute-by-minute is getting paid?
amosair: no idea, prolly more than 500 pounds
amosair: fook, I’ll do it for free!
illusionaire: hahaha. me too
See, it’s quite like watching the game right besides my ex-roomie. We can see each other through the webcam, hear each other through voice conference, and chat with each other through messenger. Technology sure has leaped ahead.

And oh, there was also the BBC radio broadcast (sports channel) running continuously in the background of our system, occasionally updating us with the ongoing match along with other worldwide sports news.

I can visualize, 5 years from now, some of the younger generation who are watching the match LIVE on the internet at +50 MBps cribbing about how they used to browse the internet this way too. Sigh. I guess every generation has its own set of people who reminisce through their respective “stone ages”.

After the match, it really felt good enjoying such a game. It felt almost similar to watching the game LIVE on TV with friends cheering, hugging and patting each other, except that there was no TV and no friends around. Thank you Internet! You sure do bring out the “PAT” in pathetic

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Chp 156. Points to ponder from Queues

Queues – The only place where the beginning is the end and the end, the beginning.

I’ve been standing in a lot of queues lately, either booking tickets for my friends/sisters/cousins at various transport agencies, or buying college application forms for friends/sisters/cousins at various banks.

Hence these past few days, I think I got my “Bachelors in Queue (standing dept)”, graduating with flying colors from the esteemed college of Indian Queue Queue (IQQ), here in the Land of Queues.

I think we Indians spend more time than anybody else standing in queues. Be it railway stations or banks, it’s always one queue after the other. And I’m only talking about the ones where we ACTUALLY stand in queues, and not the ones where we’re supposed to stand in queues but don’t (as Shashi Tharoor once said, an actual queue at a bus-stop waiting for the bus to arrive was last seen in India in 1961).

Where there is no such queue involved, everything becomes chaotic. It’s every man for himself, screw the fragile gray haired bespectacled grandpa with the walking stick or the sweet young thing who got her first sweet tooth removed, elbow them all away! It’s a freaking jungle in there, a mad frenzy rush for degradation, and yet you know that the only way you are going to get those tickets is to dive right in too. You take a deep breath, focus on the ongoing pitch battle ahead, say a little prayer, and then charge right in with a battle cry: “Banzaiiiiii!!!!”… leaving behind every last bit of sanity, dignity and humanity you ever had.

You fight with all your might, inch by inch, like a drowning man swimming in a sea of Tar trying to reach the surface. You take a brief second to gasp for air, and then the Armageddon continues; Somebody’s armpits’ all over your face, quickly replaced by another person’s feet. You are covered in sweat, slimy stinking sweat, forty types of sweat, all from different people you’ve never even met or never had dinner with. Yet you brave all that gallantly. It’s like being in the middle of a napalm bombing at the ‘Nam war, except for the smell which is a gazillion times worse in this case.

All you can hear is a noise, a very strange kinda noise: It’s like a mixture of five different death-metal bands playing simultaneously plus a hundred dogs mating inside a tiny steel container plus wounded WW-II soldiers screaming out “Medicccc” in the middle of an ongoing war-torn battlefield plus an extremely beautiful translucent figure in white with long overflowing blond hair calling out your name with the most melodious voice you’ve ever heard, beckoning you to give up the struggle and come towards the light…

See what can happen when there is no such queue? Of course once you come out of the above mentioned situation, the sense of achievement is extremely overwhelming, but is it really necessary? Why do we behave in such a way?

Queues are considered to be a gentleman’s way of behavior. One might even consider queues to be a form of communism while “non-queues” (as mentioned above) is a form of democracy; Democracy because everything becomes a free-for-all chaotic individualism (by the people, for the people, of the people), while I consider queues to be communist in nature as they perform like a state-owned machinery, mechanical and inorganic sans any emotions, yet being totally effective (this, and also the fact that Kolkata is the only place I’ve seen in India where people actually stand in a queue at a wine-shop. Do the comrades in Kerala behave the same way too?)

Queues are also a very good place for bloggers to think about what to blog next. Standing in so many queues these past few days, I have noticed one very distinctive feature about queues – the similarity between it and societal norms.

Whether you like it or not, you have to abide by the rules because you are a part of it. And speaking of rules, there are no such distinct rules written down per se, and are only a creation of the majority. Yet, the non-conformist will immediately face a confrontation with the conformists. There is no ground for breaking any of the rules here. You can rebel all you like, but prepare to face the wrath of the society.

Which brings us to another very interesting point about what “exactly is fair”?

Simple scenario. You see a queue. You join the queue. You move with the queue. You reach the end of the queue. You do your stuff. You go home happily.

Complications arise when people join the queue at places other than the beginning of the queue. Ask yourself the following questions and see if you think it is fair or not.

You are standing in a queue and then somebody suddenly comes and stands right in front of you. Is it fair?

None of you would say “yes” (duh!). But suppose the guy in front of you has to go and pee urgently, and he asks you to reserve his place. After a few minutes, he returns to assume his position in front of you and you don’t question him. But what about the guy standing right behind you who joined the queue after that guy left for the loo? Would he consider it to be fair? And horrors be horrors if the guy whose place I was reserving happens to be “Chinese looking” just like me! Can you imagine the racial bitching that must be going on at the back of the queue?

I know, reservations have always been a tricky subject, leading to much debates, disagreements, demonstrations and agitations. Be it a reservation on housing, admission, occupation or a simple incident like a queue, the ones whose places are not reserved will always voice their anger at the inequality.

In the light of all these, is it truly fair to reserve a spot for the person standing in front of you in a queue? Even if he had to pee sooooo badly?

What if the guy who had to pee, actually lied to you, and went instead to drink a cold bottle of pepsi and relax in the shade while you stood in the hot sun like an idiot reserving the place for him? So that he could come and assume his place when his reserved position is close to its goal? Are we all that genuinely selfless and altruistic to gladly do such a favor for a stranger?

And then comes the question of health. Ok most of us wouldn’t mind performing the above mentioned task for the elderly. But what if it was a youth? He could be as healthy as a horse on a race track, or as sick as a liver in a Rehab. Do we question his health first after he asks us to reserve his spot?

What if he asked you to reserve his spot so that he could meet somebody? It could be somebody he hasn’t seen in 25 years who suddenly turned up near the queue, or simply a dear friend that he just wants to chat with because he finds the queue boring. Or maybe to pass on an important message to somebody, say a doctor, which could make a life or death decision for somebody else, or to pass on sensitive internal security information to someone from a different “sleeper cell” on which Government car should they bomb next…

We have no idea why he asked us to reserve his place, yet we comply with his request.

What about queues where people are armed with applications other than theirs? More applications mean slower queues, hence it is definitely not fair for the people behind to have so many applications. What if he was applying for a friend who was sick? Who couldn’t come to the counter because he is attending his father’s funeral? Or vacationing at Hawaii on Company’s expenditure? Still fair? How can we distinguish the fair ones from the unfair ones when we don’t know the nature?

At some queues, we have to fill up the forms first. Some people fill up those forms while standing in the queue itself, while others fill up the forms first and then join the queue. Now suppose one guy brings his friend along, and while he fills up the forms, his friend stands in the queue. After he is done, his friend simply gives his position to him and leaves the queue. Is that fair? Toughie, aye?

To the people behind him, it doesn’t make a difference because one guy is replaced by another guy. But at the same time, a feeling of “unfairness” do creeps in. Is that a legit reservation? What IS a “legit” reservation?

Since there is so much confusion, should we ban reservation at queues altogether? Just imagine, hypothetically, for a minute that reservation is banned in queues, that anybody leaving their place in the queue will have to join the queue from the beginning again.

The guy in front of you is thirsty as Hell. Should he dehydrate slowly risking a stroke, or drink water and join the queue from the beginning again? I would definitely give him back his spot, but what about the person behind me who brought along his heavy water bottle just for such a situation so that he wouldn’t have to leave the queue if he gets thirsty… would he find it to be fair?

Supposed somebody near the queue dropped a pen and the person in front of you left the queue so that he could pick the pen up and give it back to the person who dropped it. Should you let him join the queue at the same spot again or ask him to “go back”? How is this different from the guy who went to relax at the canteen? How is this fair while the incident about the canteen guy is not fair? How do we define what is fair or not? Is it the distance we travel away from the queue, or the reason why we had to leave the queue briefly, or our intentions while we leave the queue placed under a morality scanner?

See, I can go on and on with more “what ifs” and “buts”. That is why I find such a close similarity between standing in queues and societal norms, where there is no clear cut definition between what is right and wrong. Plus, a jobless blogger mind like mine standing in a long queue almost every day is sure to churn out such a value-less thought! Cheers.