Monthly Archives: December 2009

The Colony

Spoiler Alert – If you haven’t watched that multi-million-billion-trilion dollar 3D movie with a lot of blue-coloured people, you might not want to read this completely unrelated story about the Colony.

The four of us (Big Boy, Bearded Boy, Long-Haired Girl and me) decided to attack the Colony when we were drunk and confused. Therefore, I shall attempt to describe all that happened, without the why and the wherefore.

Well, maybe the ‘why’ can be touched upon. We knew that ants secreted a liquor so powerful that its effect made Absinthe seem like Limca. It was stored in a well deep within the ant-hole, protected by the largest of their clan. This well was known in the legends as the Well of Infinite High. And we wanted to drink from it.

I was chosen to lead the attack since my fingers were long and thin. They could enter most nooks and crannies.

Therefore, I knelt by the Colony and stuck a forefinger in. And immediately felt a sharp bite on the said finger.

Yelping in pain, I retreated – so did my mates, determined to start off afresh with a fresh tactic after a few drinks more. Blender’s Pride incidentally.

I wandered by the Colony a few minutes later and this time knelt next to it, staring as far as I could see into the dark. It was all quiet for a few seconds and then someone whispered –

“I see you”

Shocked, I straightened up, shook my head and cursed the alcohol. Did I really hear someone speak from within the ant hole? I dived back in again.

“I see you”

The same voice. I wasn’t hallucinating. I attempted a reply.

“Uhm.. I don’t”

“Oh”

And that was that. No further communication from the hole.

My flatmates looked excited and were debating rather noisily across the dining table when I slouched back into the room. The crazy professor next door, Dr. Gomambo, had apparently invented a shape-shifting serum that could make you an ant. Crazy days, these.

Getting the serum from the professor was a simple task. We knew he was growing an illegal weed plantation inside his house. Blackmail.

Once again, I was the chosen one. This time because I looked like an ant. I was not cribbing though, since I wanted to trace that voice. Who saw me?

Gomambo had passed on to us a map of the ant-hole as well. One of those ancient parchments which cluttered his wee attic.

A map of the Colony


The transition was rapid once I drank the serum – I shrank down to the size of a reasonably big red ant. I could now see the dark varicose veins in the marble floor in perfect detail. Actually, they looked like National Highways to me.

Did any of us think of an anti-serum? No. We were drunk, you see..

I crawled into the hole, self assured (since I looked rather majestic for an ant). She was sitting right next to the entrance, elegant and poised. Coloured a deep red, she was rather big – bigger than a normal-sized male ant. I’m not sure whether it was the alcohol, but I swear she winked at me.

“I see you”

It was her! The same voice!

“Yes! I see you too. Now.”

“Then come with me. I shall take you to our ancient atrium, where all ants have congregated to worship our ancestors.”

I followed her silently. For she was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen.

We danced the dance of the ancestral ants under the dazzling dome of the ancient atrium and soon, fell in love.

Right as we were falling in love, my mates were putting their plan B to action. This involved widening the ant-hole using instruments such as an iron rod and then assassinating all the ants. In the atrium of the ants, we could hear the sharp noises of the blunt object striking the wall.

She (who happened to be the daughter of the ant-queen by the way) and I crawled to the hole entrance and peeked outside. The Big Boy was just about to strike a blow with his rod when I crept out and bit him. As he danced a tribal dance holding a leg up in pain, my princess bit his other leg. We had thus foiled their attempt. But now they knew that I was no longer one of them, but one with my princess. A traitor.

Inside the ant-hole, my princess taught me the ant language and the science of riding the ant-steeds. This happened to be small spiders whom they had tamed and kept in captivity within the hole. I tamed one for myself.

My princess and I were crawling back on our spiders from the spider enclosure to the atrium when disaster struck. A red blaze engulfed the long corridor from the ant-hole entrance to the spider enclosure and we knew that we were being set fire to. I scampered over in my steed and joined the workers in setting the fire off. While doing so, I caught a glimpse of my former flatmate through the hole. The Long-Haired Girl had succeeded where the Big Boy had failed.

A tiring fight later, we succeeded in dousing the fire. But disaster could not be averted. The Queen was dead, consumed by the flames, and my Princess wailed inconsolably. I swore revenge.

And I made a plan.

But for the plan to succeed, I needed the assistance of Quentin, the Tarantula which lived in the bathroom.

It is said in the fables of the ants that Tarantulas can be controlled if you fall on them from a great distance and saddle them with a harness.

I did exactly that. Quentin was my steed now.

It was pitch dark and as I scurried past the living room perched atop the mighty Quentin, I could see the big, burly shapes of my former roommates stretched on the living room couches with empty bottles strewn about.

The attack had to begin soon.

My princess and I rallied the ants with a rousing speech on the pride of our species and the value of freedom. And a bit on the tyranny of the humans towards the end.

The roused ants were indeed a sight to behold. Mounting their spiders, they gave mighty war-cries which resonated through the Colony with deep, sombre notes. We all had a swig from the Well of Infinite High and then we set out to conquer the tyrants to end this oppression once and for all.

In the dark, I led the charge atop Quentin and approached Long-Haired Girl who was sprawled in a supine position on the couch. Quentin executed a graceful jump and landed on her lap, and from there I crawled out and bit her nose.

Her cry woke up the rest.

And the Colony attacked. So did the spiders.

300 valiant ants on their magnificent arachnids against 3 drunk humans. It was no battle really.

Several fearsome minutes later, we had driven the Long-Haired Girl, the Big Boy and the Bearded Boy out of the house. Victory was ours! The ants were free again!

We made our way back inside the hole, me proudly riding the tarantula, my princess by my side. We knew that no human would dare to breach our boundaries again. The ant-hole was ours forever, and so too was the Well of Infinite High.

Revelries followed as we celebrated in the Ancient Atrium, dancing and drinking with much gusto. The princess and I found a moment to our own as we crept away by the shadows. We stood by the walls of the atrium, as passions flew unabated around us in the heady mirth of victory. She turned towards my expectant face. And ever so lightly, bit me.

My 3D glasses slipped down as I woke up with a yelp. No one seemed to have noticed. On-screen, Neytiri was professing her love to Jack Sully by the Hometree.

I settled back into my seat, and failed to notice the ant which slipped away unobtrusively from my legs.

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On the classification of species (Darwin, 1859)

Disclaimer: The following entry may be perceived as insulting, rude or an outright slap in the face (borrowing FreeWilly’s favourite expression, who incidentally has revamped his blog) of half the people in this world, so let me reiterate rather strongly the triviality and the frivolity of it all.

A friend had recently handed me an extremely challenging consulting project – Yes, I do moonlight as a work-from-home consultant, one of my earlier successes had involved correcting the spelling mistake in Goldman Sachs’ economic grouping BRIC. It should actually be BRICK (Brazil – Russia – India – China – Kerala, the 5 global champions of the 21st century) and that gives it a nice symmetry.

This friend in need belonged to the SING socio-economic category (Single Income No Girlfriend) and was rather keen on up(?)grading to the more recognized DINK (Double Income No Kids). Being the product of a b-school, he wanted to go about the task in a very focused and concerted manner and therefore asked me to deliver a comprehensive report, complete with segmentation and all that sort of rubbish. Which led to this letter –


Dear Mr.Sing,

In response to your letter titled December 13, 2009, I have done some groundwork isolating certain characteristics and subsequently building certain prototypes of women you might be interested in. These prototypes are mentioned below and cover a substantial chunk of the population under discussion. The rest of the population is better left alone.

Prototype 1 – The Tweety Bird – The defining characteristic of this category of women is that they keep on chirping. They just can’t seem to stop talking and often its about mundane things like a TV show, a gift to be purchased, what happened in the office etc.. Since tweety birds in general aren’t exceptionally intelligent, most of this chatter makes you wince. You must be prepared for that.

Now, their redeeming quality (for even tweety birds have them) is that they are very kind and large-hearted. They are ready to go out of their way to do you a favour, and if you are the mate of a T.Bird, need I say more about the affection they would bestow upon you!

Most T.Birds turn out to be reasonably hawt as well. ‘Hawt’ incidentally is a term which girls use to describe other girls.

Hawt (Adjective, origin: the internet, early 21st century) – The state of being of a girl when other girls think she’s hot and attractive to men. This does not imply that the girl in question is actually considered ‘hot’ by men.

Pooja 1 to Neha 1: “Wow Neha, you look totally hawt with your new hairstyle!”
Neha 1 to Pooja 1: “Thanks! You are as hawt as always, dear.”
Pooja 2 to Neha 1 and Pooja 1 – “Awwww, you two are so hawwwt!”
Neha 2 to Pooja 1, Pooja 2 and Neha 1 – “Yay, let me give you a hug, hawties!”

Oh yes, T.Birds are generally named Pooja or Neha, I must reference the fabulous movie “99” for pointing out this fact to me.

Bottomline – You’ll feel good due to the love and affection they shower on you, but you are probably prone to extramarital affairs when you meet a super-intelligent colleague at work. T.Birds can rarely keep a man interested for more than a year or two.

A particularly attractive T.Bird

Prototype 2 – The Spectacled Band – This category is called thus since they almost always wear spectacles (though largely being replaced by contact lens nowadays) and have a fascination for hairbands as well. A spectacled band girl likes to read a lot and can often be found at bookstores and similar places. She considers herself superior to a Tweety Bird, even though one is bound to be surprised on occasions by the similarity of a Spectacled Band to a T.Bird. But she does looks more intelligent. Probably the glasses.

One can have good conversations with her on most issues and she might even consider herself obliged to feign interest in the irrelevant, geeky stuff which geeks like us love to talk about. Of course, there are S.Bands who are in reality geeks with genuine interest in geeky stuff, but they are surely in the minority.

Negatives are there, which should not be ignored. A Spectacled Band is always in a heightened state of mental activity and this often results in a permanent frown upon her countenance. Since she is always worried about how intelligent she comes across, that carries a fragile ego with her. You might be forced to very carefully choose your words while talking to her. This can be mentally taxing at times.

Bottomline – Certainly an option, and certainly getting more and more common in Indian cities. One can definitely locate Spectacled Bands in bookshops.

Prototype 3 – Mama’s Delight This prototype is named so since they are guaranteed to delight thy mama (not thy uncle, but thy mother). She is tall, thin, conventionally pretty and looks great in a Saree. She cooks, she knows the right way to talk to your maid, she maintains a list of your monthly household expenditure and she wakes you up with a cup of coffee (or tea. or juice. whatever.) every morning.

“She’s perfect!”, did I hear you say? Right, old chap, there’s no such thing as a perfect woman. When you turn to a Mama’s Delight girl with a smile and start talking about the 1969 Woodstock concert or the Rings around Saturn, she would give you a charming smile and gently steer the conversation back to more mundane, but to her more important things such as the groceries you require for the following week. She is not dumb, but disinterested and a bit too domestic.

Bottomline – Most arranged marriages unearth Mama’s Delights (obviously, because Mama picks them). But there is a sporting chance of you being able to mould a Mama’s Delight to have some of the qualities (interest, pique) of a Spectacled Band if you are lucky enough to find one yourself a year or two before marriage.

Prototype 4 – Northern Lites This genre is found exclusively in the northern parts of the country, and occasionally in Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai. Believed to have originated in the wheatlands of Punjab (the irony is about to come), Northern Lites are characterized by their extraordinarily slim figure which defies all known laws of Newton (the irony cameth – Punjab – wheatlands – big, strong sardars – getit?). Scientists have spent countless hours studying Northern Lites to figure out how they succeed in walking and indeed staying up without falling down. The answer continues to elude them.

When posed this conundrum, a well-known Northern Lite, Kareena had attributed the feat to a copious diet of Dal-Chawal, but the author has his doubts on this (tried it. didn’t work out. and dal-chawal is yucky).

A complete cultural mismatch could be a sad consequence of a union between a person from another part of the country and a Northern Lite, and this is something we cannot ignore. How long can a gentleman born and bred on, say, wholesome Masala Dosa or Aviyal survive with the yellowish goop that is Dal-Chawal and the even more terrifying Rajma Chawal?! Cultural mismatches continue when a Northern Lite (who wept for joy when Rakhi chose Elesh in ‘Rakhi ka Swayamvar’) mentions a heartfelt desire to watch ‘Veer – an Anil Sharma movie’, while you would rather spend your money on the poignant and thought-provoking romantic epic ‘Avatar’ (Yes, sarcasm).

Strangely, most Northern Lites have been documented to lose their gravity-defying skinniness and become er….healthy, wholesome ladies who wear brightly patterned floral suits (Salwar, not Saville Row) when they turn 30. This has to be borne in mind when your focus is long-term.

Bottomline – Go for the Northern Lites if you want to form a truly modernized Indian family, mixing the South and the North. Or if you are one of the aforementioned scientists perplexed at how Northern Lites defy gravity. For further reading, consult ‘2 States’ by Chetan Bhagat.

We shall explore ways to form a successful JV with any of these prototypes once I get your feedback on whether we are going in the right direction.

Yours in love and war
The Undersigned

Thus ended my first letter. There were further correspondences on merger strategies, roadmaps, and several aspects of a tactical nature. But that’s for another rainy day.

Federer’s Fate & Other Ramblings

If any of you hairy readers still use the very 20th century device of a razor to shave, then you must have heard of the company Gillette. Of course, I completely understand that you might not use it, since the very advanced and modern electric shaver, brought to you in India by a Dutch company for which some of us work, (cough cough) serves the purpose much more efficiently.

So what’s happening to Gillette? One of the hottest topics of conversation in the internet currently is the “Gillette Curse”. The company has three global brand ambassadors – Messrs. Woods, Federer and Henry. They are all very famous men in their particular fields. This Woods fellow is famous for owning a collection of secluded islands all over the Pacific Ocean with large mansions containing young female housekeepers, Henry is a star of the World Cup & Olympic gold winning French Handball team, and Federer is known for his enviable collection of cool jackets.

Tiger Woods’ property deals have created quite a sensational controversy recently, as we all know. His wife, a former blonde Swedish model (still Swedish and still blonde, no longer a model) turned livid and looked less like a former model as she came to know about her husband’s island acquisitions with their charming housekeepers and was later found hovering over an unconscious Tiger with one of his golf clubs. Allegedly. One wonders whether she is one of those women who does not like having housekeepers.

As more and more housekeepers started coming out of the ‘wood’work, the author’s respect for Tiger’s commendable stamina grew substantially – until it was found that he (Tiger, not the author) endorses the energy drink Gatorade. Later, in an exemplary act of social responsibility, Gatorade cancelled their deal and left Tiger much less energetic and substantially harmless. The author applauds.

Imagine – Endorsing a dozen brands, cavorting with a dozen housekeepers, flying all over the world, spending time with wife and two children! Oh, and he also plays decent Golf. This fellow is the Superman, no doubt.

There is yet another luminary who had had his marital breakup a year ago. This gentleman, Thierry Henry (pronunciation akin to ‘Laundry’), was once upon a time a football player. A famous one actually, and he used to play for a club called FC Gooners where he was the superstar!, numero uno player!, dribbling maestro!….OK, I should probably curb my enthusiasm for the game since this is not a football blog.

Anyway, this fellow used to love his club so much that he never bothered much about those silly little international matches which happened in between. One morning, when his wife reminded him of his country playing Senegal later that day in the opening match of World Cup ’02, Henry decided to turn up and run around the ground a few times for 90 minutes. Needless to say, France lost the match. Senegal went on to have a marvelous tournament although this World Cup was marred by fixed matches to favour the Kore…[Enthusiasm curbed just in time]

Later in his career, when he wanted a new challenge (actually, when he became shit), Henry moved to a club called Take it from the Bar, dude (In Hindi, Bar Se Lona!) in Spain. This club was full of superstars including a buck-toothed horse and a little Argentinian with a thick neck (lately they have signed a Camel as well), that they really didn’t care whether Henry was shit or not.

That’s when Henry switched to Handball and led his country to the World Cup and Olympic Gold. Due to his mildly backward intelligence though (he used to head footballs, remember?), Henry got his two sports somewhat mixed up and played a bit of handball in a recent football world cup qualifier, which led to much unwanted criticism around the football world (“Its a fukkin’ disgrace!”, said a Chelsea player), but much enthusiasm and shouts of “That’s our boy!” in the handball fraternity.

Now is the time to introduce this Gillette Curse which we had briefly touched upon in the beginning. After paying them a truckload of money to act in a series of ads titled ‘Gillette Champions’ (Woods later used his share to buy an island off the coast of France, for housekeeper # 24), the company released a picture of the three Champions standing side by side, holding onto their Instruments of Championness – Federer’s Racquet, Tiger’s wood Golf club and Henry’s Football.

When Henry unexpectedly confused his sport though, the company’s marketing executives did a rapid firefighting exercise. They took his instrument away from Henry – see for yourself in this ‘before and after’ picture.

Henry loses his Instrument of Championness

Later of course, after his housekeepers around the world revealed that the entire world was quite clueless about Tiger’s real talent (Can you say this fast without stopping? – “How many chicks does a woodchuck chuck?”), the second blow fell on Gillette, this time a bit stronger. “Now what!”, rang the cry in the Marketing department of Gillette Global. A bearded temp suggested a further modification to the ad, but this was immediately vetoed by a cleanshaven colleague. This chap advocated a ‘wait and watch’ strategy, as he had started believing in the curse and expected a further change to be necessitated in the near future.

Which brings us to Federer. Look at the above picture closely, dear readers. You see Henry holding a ball – and a ball was the cause of his worries. You see Tiger with a golf club – a clubwielding wife started his problems. Move slightly to your left, pause for cinematic effect, slowly build up the Star Wars music in your head to a crescendo, and look at Federer. Yes, he is carrying something. In his right hand. A tennis racquet. Clasped to his chest. If Henry’s ball and Tiger’s golf club could turn against him in such rapid succession, what lies in store for Fedex and his Racquet? One needs to speculate.

It might happen that in one of those close matches which this fellow keeps having with that Spanish boy in long bermudas, Federer might lose his temper after a bad call by the umpire or something akin. Anger can lead men to do silly things, and our Swiss Champion might stick his racqet, grip first into someone’s nether region. Always a risk.

This man has often been referred to as a ‘Wizard’, a ‘Magician’, a “Sorcerer’ and what not. His elegance and grace have reduced millions of viewers into stunned silence as he dismantled the aforementioned Spanish boy, Serbian witches and all sorts of such assorted creatures. This leads me to conclude that he really is (by the tenets of Holmesification, as mentioned in an earlier post) a wizard, and his racquet really a broom. On the spur of the moment, if he chooses to board his racquet and fly all over the place, Avada Kedavraing random people, Gillette might really suffer a death blow.

Or God forbid, Fed might one fine day get terribly depressed of being the best player in the world for so long and hang himself by his racquet strings.

As can be seen, there is every reason for Gillette to be worried about Federer’s fate. Last I heard, they had isolated him in a remote island in the Pacific Ocean (leased to them by Tiger’s housekeeper # 31), and taken all his racquets away from him. To pacify Roger who looked ready to throw a tantrum, they gave him a nifty sword and he has been pretending to be King Arthur ever since.

Swish! - A Happy Swiss

A Feverish Armrest Communist

I was flying back to Delhi earlier this week when I seriously began to consider the possibility of there being something wrong with me. Oh yes, the topic has been breached earlier in several gatherings, but I hadn’t paid much heed to it before. I had assumed that these righteous gatherings were merely being silly.

The issue anyway was that I was seated at 7C, a nice aisle seat which I had asked for. Oh, I always ask for aisle seats – simply because you get ‘hand-room’ for at least one of your two hands. These days, legroom refers to a spacious triangle drawn between your leg, the vertical from your knee dropped to the ground and the horizontal from your toe to where that vertical fell a moment ago, with the angle between the leg and the horizontal not less than 70 degrees. On a related note, you can take the boy out of the Maths, but never the Maths out of the boy.

Anyway, considering the aforementioned conditions, a one-hand-room is something to die for. But I wasn’t looking well enough at the girl in the counter to notice the nefarious grin she had as she assigned me to 7C. One should always be ready with a second look when faced with nefarious grins.

A couple of minutes after I settled down in the ill-fated 7C, a bespectacled fellow dressed like a politician (Khadi shirt and pants of the same off-white colour – match-match, just like those Monday-wear uniforms in my school) rolled in and occupied the seat on my left, 7B. I took one look at him and switched back to my book, since he did not have a nefarious grin. It was an Air India flight and apart from a consistent squeak coming from the right wing (probably required some oiling) and a small but suspicious scream from the general direction of the cockpit (probably forgot to buckle in that extra passenger in the cockpit), the takeoff was uneventful.

About ten minutes afterwards though, I encountered a slight pressure on my left arm. A quick peek showed the poltu-type sneaking in his arm over the armrest, slightly encroaching into my half of the said armrest.

At this point, it must be mentioned that I’m an Armrest Communist (not to be confused with an Armchair Communist. That is Jawaharlal Nehru, I believe) – Armrests, whether in movie halls, planes or buses must be equally divided between the occupants of the accompanying seats. Governments in my utopian world would take control of all the armrests of the world and distribute them evenly among the occupants. This encroachment into my space, and that too by a shady Khadi-wearer was something I would not normally have endured in silence. You would be right in imagining me immediately going on an indefinite hunger strike to demand a separate armrest of my own. But strangely, I did not.

A smug armchair communist, right after wresting control of both armrests

My suspicions about my well-being increased when I found that I preferred shaking my head in a mechanical fashion with the cranium buried in my book, as a pretty air hostess chirped about some coffee or tea. This is certainly unwarranted behaviour in Indian planes. When pretty air hostesses chirp about coffee, tea or even about the general need of putting your seat in an upright position (Why? Would that 20 degree extra slant in a few seats result in a botched landing?…. erm, it probably does), you are supposed to blurt out a “Yeah, sure!” and do the deed. No sane man ignores a pretty stewardess and I believe she ran to the lavatory and broke down in tears after my unintentional snub.

We landed in Delhi without any further incidents, and it was a matter of time before the fever started. It was the worst I’ve had for quite some time and I bundled myself inside 3-4 sweaters and curled into a foetal position in the bed, only surfacing to take the occasional breath.

Later, as I dragged myself to the dining room for some dinner, my flatmate shared the morale-boosting news of over 200 new reported cases of Swine Flu in Delhi. Apparently, the virus had mutated and was majorly badass now.

Mutated Swine Flu virus stalking the Delhi streets


Morale-boosted and appetite lost, I crawled back into the bed and pondered my next move.

As a true netaholic (Addicted to the internet I mean, not to politicians), I researched the symptoms and other related Swine Flu facts. Upon discovering that I had almost all the symptoms, I proceeded to give up and contemplated writing a self-epitaph. This line of thought was rather productive and occupied me for a while, but soon the chills and the shivering had me bed-ridden again.

Come next morning, I was reasonably certain of being in the esteemed company of Micah Richards, Cherie Blair and lately, Appam Sreesanth and knew that it was time to drag oneself to a hospital. The thing is that I’m truly uncomfortable with hospitals. It’s not that I’m scared, no. But I find myself confused and flabbergasted when I wander into a hospital. I stand there at the foyer and have an extremely trying conversation with my brain somewhat like this –

So where do I start?!

At the reception.

Which one is that? That thing straight ahead where the nurses are congregated?

No, that’s the Nurses Station.

Oh, nice name. Nurses are parked there, eh?

Shut up. The reception usually has some people attending telephone calls. Go there.

OK, found it. But everyone is attending telephone calls.

Wait patiently.

OK, there’s no change. Now what?

Check around and see if there’s someone you can approach.

Right, there’s a big board saying “OP helpdesk”. What in the world is an OP?

Outpatient.

What’s that?

Probably where you sign out as you leave the hospital. Maybe you should just barge into one of the doctors.

Maybe, but which doctor? It says Paediatrician there, but I’m not a kid. It says ENT there, but those organs of mine are fine. Yonder lies Neurology, but my nerves aren’t damaged. Where do I go for a simple fever!?

Hang around the casualty maybe? Seems to be the place for casual diseases.

Er, that’s for the emergencies. And I was asking you for advice!

See why I should not be allowed in hospitals? Anyway, with several dire premonitions in mind, I entered the premises of a nearby hospital soon afterwards. Wait, I seem to have procured the wrong address. This was obviously a hotel. No, said the guard outside and ushered me back in. Well, well! Spick and span with dim lighting, big boards screaming “Reception“, “Cafeteria“, “Bone Injuries“, “Operation Theatre“, “Neurology“, “Random Fever which could be Swine Flu” and what not. This was almost out of ‘A Dummy’s Handbook of Hospital Navigation’.

The hospital had me head over heels in love at first glance, and I made my way forward, eyes blurry at the opulence. That was when I saw the full awesomeness of the cafeteria – it was as well-stocked as an up-market cake shop and there were some smiling youngsters dressed in aprons behind the counter, ready to take my order. Stammering incoherently, I packed some stuff and was almost on my way back home when I remembered my purpose in visiting this establishment. Oh yes, hospital, swine flu.

Some smart form-filling and wallet-emptying by the receptionist followed, and soon I was on my way to consult with Dr. Something Shah. This good man started by poking my chest just over a dozen times with the poky apparatus that doctors have and subsequently took my temperature with a futuristic contraption. Oh, I had to keep breathing in and out throughout this process. Examinations done, Dr.Shah gave a grunt to himself which was a mixture of a satisfied grunt and a scientifically curious grunt.

Tricky time this, for my hyperactive fever-addled imagination. If that grunt predominantly signified scientific curiosity, I was probably toast. Dr.Shah might have just discovered an as yet unknown variant of the famed virus residing in me or worse, he might have discovered a completely new virus and I was the first carrier! Yes, this fellow certainly had a nefarious smile on.

Couple of frowns and a cleared throat later though, he pronounced me quite unimportant in the medical scheme of things and apparently carrying a simple throat infection. After prescribing some antibiotics, he let me off the room with what he thought was a comforting grin. Oh well, I seem to have not hit the major league of diseases then – let me tell you, it did feel a bit disappointing.

“Jackfruit fell, Rabbit died”, and other such proverbs – Part 2

No, I haven’t conveniently forgotten about this one. But before one wanders off into insignificant incidents from one’s childhood, let us jump into the topic at hand.

Jackfruit fell, Rabbit died

Meaning – Definition of the word ‘fluke’. Equates the unlikelihood of a happened event happening again to the rarity of a jackfruit falling on a rabbit, and it dying in the process. This one is fundamentally a life lesson.

Usage (as taught by the grandfather) – When you score a spectacular goal in school, dribbling the ball past 4 defenders before chipping it over the goalkeeper with the left foot, well, its likely to be a classic case of a jackfruit murdering a rabbit by falling on it. Never to happen again.

Origins – We have to examine, re-examine and counter-examine the proverb to realize its true significance. So a jackfruit fell on a rabbit and it died (instantaneously, one presumes). What’s the big deal about that, I hear the gentlemen in the back row asking. Patience, gentlemen in the back row! I pose 3 questions back at you.

1. Why a jackfruit? Why not a coconut?
A coconut is infinitely more accessible to the Mallu man. When the author of this proverb, let us call him Ramakrishnan, sat down after a hearty lunch in the easy chair outside his house and considered coining a random proverb to perplex the coming generations, odds are that he was looking directly at a coconut and not at a jackfruit. So why make the plump, comfy fruit the protagonist?

2. Why a rabbit? Why not a hen?
On a similar note, from his vantage location in the easy chair, Ramakrishnan was likely to have seen several clucking hens running about in the afternoon sunlight. And it was extremely unlikely that a rabbit was in the vicinity at all. So why kill the harmless herbivore with his proverbial jackfruit, instead of squashing one of those irritating cluckers?

3. Why death? Why not a concussion?
The most crucial question of them all. Proverbs are meant to tickle and to provoke thought. It often involves silly accidents and minor injuries, but death? Quite uncharacteristic and interesting.

Much thought has been put to these questions by generations of linguists, bored officeworkers and veteran artificial inseminators (Why them you ask? Quite elementary. These gentlemen would much rather think of anything other than artificial insemination, while they perform that arduous task. Which means veteran artificial inseminators have thought of everything under the sun. Which means they have thought of this as well. And no, I’m not a veteran artificial inseminator).

A friendly Veteran Artificial Inseminator


Even after all this thought, a solution which provides satisfactory replies to all 3 questions have not been discovered. Which is why we have to turn to the master himself, to Sherlock Holmes.

I posed these questions to the aforementioned Holmes and he replied with those famous words, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Profound! And thus I thought about the improbable and yes, that had to be the solution. Ramakrishnan, from his easy chair, must have actually seen a jackfruit fall on a rabbit and the subsequent death of the poor fellow.

Holmes’ words give us a very strong platform from which to analyze proverbs – The verbatim is often the truth. The same treatment when meted out to a few other juicy words of wisdom, gives us quite satisfactory results. Let us proceed.

Flower Garland in a monkey’s hand

Meaning – A monkey is as likely to inspect a garland of flowers and return it in the original, virginal condition as Andrew Symonds is to get on the wagon and drink only milk for the rest of his life.

Usage (as taught by the girlfriend) – When you go with a clumsy oaf to a fancy store to buy gifts for a common friend, do not allow the said oaf to handle expensive (but highly fragile) items from the display cases with his clumsy oafy hands. A shattering noise and an empty purse would be the certain result of this monkey-hand-flower-garland business.

Origins – Before we holmesify this proverb, one has to state the very probable fact that this one was coined by a girl. This is the case since a girl is infinitely more likely to be found in proximity to fragile, flimsy substances like garlands. But where does the monkey come in? One has to stretch the factual nature of this proverb a bit I suppose, since the ‘monkey’ in question might not be the animal at all, but a person whom the girl happened to call a monkey.

Imagine the hero of a Malayalam (any South Indian, for that matter) movie. He’ll be Big (political correctness lures me away from the 3 letter word starting with ‘F’), with a thick moustache and strong arms. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the image of the man every girl wanted to hook up with, in ancient South India. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case nowadays as 83% of Chennai women (a sample of South Indian women, if you will) have said they prefer kissing clean-shaven men!

Right ladies, let us continue on without our brothers who have gone off to shave. When our heroine who coined the proverb and her strong boyfriend went to the temple in the early hours of the morning (favourite hang-out spot in those days), and she gave him the garland to hold while she undid the complex clasp of her slipper, he most definitely and unintentionally squeezed those poor flowers to an early death, with his thick, muscular hands. The poor man’s moustache must have drooped significantly at the verbal barrage that followed which surely had our proverb nestled inside.

The rabbit I caught had 3 horns

Meaning – One is always inclined to give some extra points to one’s own arguments. So my rabbit is always going to be more important to me in the grander scheme of the Universe, than your rabbit. Even though they are essentially the same rabbits and the Universe would hardly bat an eyelid at either of them. Even if they had horns.

Usage (as taught by the b-school) – We all catch more or less similar rabbits. But if you present your rabbit as a rabbit with 3 horns to an eager professor and a sleepy TA (teaching assistant), your rabbit will be recognized as special. This is known as differentiation.

Origins – Totally bizarre, as rabbits have ears and not horns to begin with. Or do they? Those abnormally long contraptions could well be horns after all – it is rather daft having such long ears don’t you think? They don’t serve any purpose. In any case, this is almost certainly a proverb coined by a drunk moustachioed fellow after he caught hold of a rabbit skulking in a bush.

He must have shouted, “Look, this rabbit has 3 horns!”, and passersby must have wondered at the phenomenon, not moving any closer to inspect (the only person who moves closer to inspect a drunk moustachioed fellow in a lungi would be the drunk moustachioed fellow’s wife). Naturally, the rumour must have spread like wildfire that there was indeed a rabbit with 3 horns! While in reality, what our drunk friend must have found in the bush (why was he in the bush, incidentally? Never mind, it is not within our purview to justify the behaviour of drunk, moustachioed men) was probably a coconut with its husk on and three narrow horny appendages on top (WOW! Possible new religion idea? Like his noodly appendages?). Something like this maybe –

Some substantially horny coconuts

Which brings us to…

Coconut fell on the crying dog’s head

Meaning – If you ever feel that life has bowled you a wrong ‘un and that there’s no hope left, chances are that life will immediately proceed to bowl a doosra and catch you offguard.

Usage (as taught by the Airtel woman) – The day you realize that your credit card bill is 5 days overdue and well into the interest-ing zone is always the day when the Airtel woman calls up and tells you about the fascinating credit options on your unpaid mobile bill with guilt-edged interest payments. The dog and the coconut are quite obvious in the example.

Origins – Let us begin with your friendly neighbourhood coconut tree climber, Johnykutty. When Johnykutty climbs a tree at mid-day with the sun beating down on his head, he has no other thought but to finish the job as soon as possible and rush to the nearby toddy shop for a couple of glasses of the finest followed by an afternoon siesta by the roadside. Thus, it is perfectly justified that Johnykutty does not look down to check for passing dogs when he drops down those heavy coconut bunches. Clearly a dog, let us call him Isaac, had had a tiff with his canine companion that day (the day of the proverb) and was in a bad mood. Isaac, when bawling his heart out under the coconut tree had no way of knowing that Johnykutty was about to drop a coconut right on top of his head. Fate and gravity often works in mysterious ways.

Four proverbs holmesified is enough for a lifetime. Here’s wishing that these proverbs would guide our lives with their substantial wisdom and shall live forever, passed down from generation to generation!