Next stop, insanity

Sunday, January 07, 2007

What has no legs but moves?

It’s a blog.

I decided to move the blog to its own site. You may ask why. Because I will have more control over the presentation. If you ask my wife, she will tell you it’s because I can play with PHP and show off my programming skills. Don’t believe her.

Please visit my new place at:

If you have a link to me from your site, I would really appreciate it if you could change the link to point to the new site.

See you there.

Monday, December 04, 2006

It takes two to shop

Buying a pair of pants was not easy when I was young. We had to buy cloth and have it stitched by a tailor into something that resembles a pair of pants. To buy the fabric for the pants, we went to a fabric store, where a guy shows you a variety of cloths from which you pick one.

Circumstances have conspired in a way that I had to re-live the experience yesterday. I am the kind of a guy who prefers self-checkout whenever possible to avoid human interaction. You can imagine my discomfort having a salesperson involved in the selection process.

When I entered the cloth store, my expectation was simple. The sales guy would throw some raw material for pants on the table, I keep shaking my head until I find the right one, pay for it and walk out.

When I entered the store, the salesperson asked what kind of pants I was looking for. I told him I wanted something I could wear to work if I ever need to wear formals to work. Without warning, he spread a light-orange colored cloth on the table. Did I mention I don't work at the circus? I explained to him, "I'd like something dark and plain, just like the way I like my coffee."
He: You want coffee color pants, sir?
Me: No! I mean, something simple. Plain. Dark gray, preferably.
He (shaking his head disapprovingly): No.
Me: You mean you don't have dark gray?
He: We do sir, but it is not the latest fashion. You must buy latest fashion, sir.

As prima facie evidence of latest fashion, he pointed me to a poster of Mahesh Babu, a young Telugu hero, wearing some sort of orange pants. I suspect most people in the US do not know Mahesh Babu and hence are blissfully oblivious of the fashion trend he is setting. I am not too compelled by the option. I insisted that as the prospective wearer of the pants, my preference is given priority.

As I went through the stacks of raw material, the salesperson was visibly dismayed at how barbaric my taste was and how ignorant I was about the "latest fashions." He kept pushing more flamboyant (and more expensive) cloths, which in my opinion are more appropriate for curtains rather than pants. Everything I liked was met with stern disapproval from the salesperson. He kept reminding me "For a man of your good color, you must wear nice colors, sir. You are picking all dull colors." ("Color" here does not refer to my race. It refers to my skin complexion)

The crowning moment of the shopping experience was when the salesperson suggested, "May be you should bring madam (my wife) along sir?" sounding hopeful that she would talk some sense into me.

After an hour of archaeological digging into the heaps of clothes, I unearthed something we both liked. I liked the cloth and he liked the price.

You don't even want to know the ordeal at the tailor.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Please pray for this poor man

Take a man (or a woman). Tie him to a chair. Then, for 36 hours do the following:
  • Shout in his ear
  • Stand up on him and jump
  • Pull his hair
  • Cry sitting in his lap
  • Spill food on him
  • Keep calling his name relentlessly for hours at a stretch

Do you think he will survive this? I am embarking on an adventure to find out. I mean to say, we are traveling to India with our 21-month old son.

You might ask for what masochistic reason I am putting myself through it. Let me explain.

One of the unforeseen side-effects of marriage is that you will inherit a brother-in-law. These brothers-in-law don't just sit there and mind their business, they get married. And you will have to haul yourself, your wife, a hyper-active toddler and 400 pounds of baggage across the Pacific to attend the wedding.

That's not all. One fine morning my wife casually asked me, "You are going to wear a Sherwani for the wedding, right?" I had two options. I could say "No" and hear how geeky, old, crumpled, faded, distasteful, atrocious, did I mention geeky, my normal formal attire is. Or I could say "Yes" and look like the official clown at the wedding. I chose to tell her a toned down version of "You will have to hold me at gun point." She looked like she intended to do precisely that.

So please pray for me people. Wish me luck to preserve my sanity on the flight and dignity at the wedding.

I survived! Both wife and kid have been extraordinarily well-behaved. Thank you for the outporing sympathy, empathy and prayers.

Shwerwani Update:
The groom himself decided not to wear a Sherwani and I got nothing to do with it ;). So I am off the hook for the sherwani. yay.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Pyramid of friendship

For engineers like me who live in North California, Fry’s Electronics store is equivalent of a place of worship. We go there every week, pay our respects and part with some money. One weekend at Fry’s I was examining some ultra powerful headphones that are sure to make you deaf in minutes. I noticed a pretty Indian woman walking into the same aisle. I stared at her for appropriate amount of time and went right back to figuring out the fastest way to become deaf.

After a minute, she walked right up to me with a box of “Noise canceling Headphones” and asked me, “Do you know what these headphones do?”

I was surprised. It was clearly written on the box what they do, complete with the picture of a goofy looking guy on an airplane sporting the said headphones, in a desperate attempt to hint at where that gadget can be used. But no, she had to come and ask me. Is she flirting with me? Ooh, la la.

I pretty much read off of the box what the purpose of the headphones was. As she was thanking me, an Indian guy joined us and was introduced as her husband. After she passed on the knowledge I imparted to her, he asked me a couple of more questions and drowned me in praise, “Wow! You know so much about headphones! Are you into professional audio?” Is he trying to flirt with me? I am all confused now.

They introduced themselves enthusiastically, told me they were new in the area and asked everything about me. She even asked, “Where is your wife?” Hmm. What is going on here? Do they belong to the rumored Indian wife swapping club?

But we must give people the benefit of doubt. They could just be extremely nice people looking for friends in a new area. In a way I was happy that there are still outgoing and friendly people out there. That happiness lasted only until I asked him what he did for a living. Like a bucket of cold water, he told me, “I work for so and so company. And I also have my own e-commerce business.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a clear sign of an Amway guy. At least one mystery solved. Nobody was trying to flirt.

In case you don’t know what Amway is, it is a pyramid scheme, followers of which believe that it will make them rich and help them attain nirvana. They live the rest of their lives like leeches pestering people to sign up for their cult. (I don’t mean to say leeches pester people to sign up for cults. Leeches have a little more dignity than that.)

Rest of the story was simple and pretty much a routine for me. I gave him my phone number. He called me in two days. I gave him an hour long lecture.

Because of the way they operate, I now look askance at every unknown Indian who talks to me. There is always this nagging suspicion that this guy could turn out to be Amway.

On a side note, a fellow blogger recently moved into this area. We never met but he and I chatted on G-Talk. One day we decided to meet for coffee. Before we closed the chat, he cautiously asked me, “You are not Amway or anything, are you?”

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My friend and his opinion of a wife

A few things are learned the hard way. I have circumstantial evidence that one of my friends did just that. I was tempted to say “I told you so” to him, but being a gentleman, I didn’t. I will just write a blog post about it.

Couple of years ago, this friend of mine (henceforth known as X), embarked on a voyage countless Indian-Americans embarked on before. A month long expedition in India to find a bride and marital bliss. Before he set sail, he called me one day. Anybody who grew up in India, or watched B-grade Bollywood movies, knows about the much hyped “First Night.” (If you don’t know what it is, it is the night a married couple, even they know each other only for a few days, consummate their day old marriage) Like many a young man, he too was nervous about it.

X: What do I do on that day?

Me: Dude, you hold the record for watching every porn movie ever made. Things should be clear to you by now?

X: No, my question is do people go all the way on the first night itself?

Me: I could check the census records but I don’t think they collect that data. But what does it matter to you what people do. Do what you feel is right.

X: Do you think she would be comfortable with it?

Me: That is an excellent question to ask her.

X: What if she is too shy to say?

Me: If she is too shy to talk about it, you should probably stop at the question.

X: But what if she doesn’t want me to ask questions and look like I don’t know what I am doing? I think women like their men to be manly. Take charge. Decide things for them.

Should I let him live in this happy bubble for some more time or burst it now?

Me: I believe most women like to be treated with respect. They would like their opinion to matter. They may want you to take charge and lead the way in matters such as taking the car out for servicing, but in just about everything else, they want to be a part of the decision making process.

X: You are Americanized. Indian women are not like that. They respect the husband. They want the man to be in control. They don’t like sissies who can’t make up their minds. Take my word for it, I am going all the way that night.

He is convinced that husband should rule with an iron fist. In his mind the picture is probably somewhat like:

Wife: Why should we always go to your favorite restaurant, can’t we eat Italian today?

Husband: We are going to Hooters, bitch. Now get in the car.

It’s difficult to argue if both of us are going by their opinions, not facts or statistics. I didn’t let the argument continue. X went to India. Got married. Got back with his lovely wife on the scheduled date, like clock work. I didn’t ask him what happened on the first night.

Recently, another friend of mine, Y, was getting married. X and I called Y together to congratulate him. I gave my usual marriage advice to Y, such as “Don’t get married.” etc. X was silent until Y asked him if X had any advice for him. X said flatly, “Don’t expect much action on the first night.”