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When it rains…err…it rains… August 17, 2009

Posted by prasadhms in Pickles.
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Its mid-August and the monsoons are still dodging Chennai. Not that I follow seasons and complain when they dont go by the calendar…but I sure am one of those people who, when in school, was taught to request the rains to go away bcoz some unknown “little johny” wanted to play…who cares if Johny played or not…why cant I just say “I want to play…” and let to choose if I wanted the rains to be around or go away while I play?!

A rainy drive on East Coast Road

A rainy drive on East Coast Road

Rains simply meant…waking up to the smell of wet white shoe polish and damp socks on a Monday morning…after a night of sleeping with the canvas shoes next to the pillow in a vain attempt to let it dry under the fan…then when you finally get ready and in the first step out of home you put your leg into that puddle of water that you so wanted to dodge…and end up with a wet brown patch like the one that Gorbachev had on his head…and then the 20 mins cycling to school with a unisex-flowery-designed raincoat. And yes not to forget that fiat car that caught you at the corner outside school and blessed you with a holy shower of mud and water straight from the road and you land in school expecting empathy from “PT Master”. How I wish teachers, including that PT guy, were made to wear whites with canvas shoes on Mondays…just to know how humanly impossible it was to land in school without being sprayed upon! And who would understand the anxiety and ulcers that came along with the excitement of Diwali…yes anxiety caused by dark clouds and cyclone announcements from that news aunty who occupied two-thirds of that poor 12inch TV screen that flickered everytime mom switched on the mixer grinder…remember the announcements that came from the kitchen…“Mixie poda poren!”…and you are expected to be prepared to lose the next 20 seconds of TV time! Like pilots announcing turbulence when you are about sip that free cognac that the hostess gave! Back to Diwali…painful indeed to be all dressed up and geared to blast the blow out of the neighborhood with that hard-fought “1000-wala”…and to see the rains come down smack in time! I can now imagine how happy moms and dads would have been to see that the brats finally had to take a break and let them watch those special Doordarshan shows which looked like live telecasts from a marriage hall with the amount of flowers they managed to squeeze into the screen! I prayed…just like you did…for the rains to go away…for little me to celebrate! Wonder if kids today go through those emotions that my generation did…maybe if it rains on Diwali this year they will get onto Twitter and Facebook and take that mindless quiz on “Which Diwali sweet were you born to be?”…or join that world-changing group titled ” The Relentless Movement to rename ‘Diwali’ as ‘IdliWa'”…or to leave a message in the status bar reading “Rains #$%@ed my Diwali…yours?”!…and yes mom doesn’t have to announce her “Mixie-poduraen” act anymore! We’ve come a long way…now lets pray for the rains to continue!

Will pickle again!

My cabbie does it again… August 8, 2009

Posted by prasadhms in Bottles.
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Just got back from a morning-evening business trip to Singapore. Had to take an early morning flight out of Singapore and hence spent the night trying not to sleep by doing a marathon session of Discovery Channel…it was bliss after being deprived of it at home where the only channels that hit the screen are the ones that my daughter approves and she obviously is years away from approving Discovery Channel as a ‘watchable’ channel. I was so thrilled like a child on a swing that the television was on full-blast until the person from the next room knocked on my door to ‘sshhh’ me down and he/she had reason to do so coz it was well past mid-night to be listening to Mythbusters from the other side of the wall! Fast forward to 4.45 a.m this morning and I was outside the hotel waving to a blue cab with a Chinese driver.

SingaporeTaxiAs I prepared myself for a good drive, my cabbie was annoyed by a truck loaded with construction workers that cut him and crossed the road and my cabbie said “must be Indian…!” and it indeed was an Indian! Then almost like an after thought he asked me “So…sir! Where do you come from?”…and partly embarrassed my co-countrymen’s act I sheepishly said…”Chennai” and then he was quick to continue the conversation with other questions that were meant to size me up before he chose the tone for the conversation. Finding that I was on business, he…in Matrix style…quickly loaded the ‘data chip’ in and started talking and I was once again happily encouraging him to give me a data filled talk. He spoke about the brain drain issue in Singapore causing the Government to stop releasing the annual figures of migrants, then about reasons why Singapore is not a great place to retire if you are working there and then some macro economics of how a 4.5 million population challenges new entrants in business as there is already a saturation of service providers in most of the industries and services. You gotta be bigger than the guys already in business or you will have to be shockingly different, coz the sample size to try and compete in an established space is just within that 4.5 million heads in the country! Good point indeed! Then we worked on some base figures of survival for a small business owner who sells roti-prata for a living. The space rental to setup shop in a residential area comes anywhere between 8000-14000 singapore dollars which when worked backwards meant the vendor had to sell 45 roti-pratas every working hour, assuming he ran the shop for 12 hours on all 30 days…and that would still earn him just enough to pay the rental and the overheads! Phew I once again thanked my liking to chat with the cabbies and this one especially when he bid me goodbye with a last bit of information that he has to pay a “Television Licence” of 110 dollars a month to entertain himself after a tiring day’s work. Hmm…I will never get tired of my cabbie chats!

Will pickle again!