<xmp> <body> </xmp>

Go green!

'I volunteered for some greening initiatives in my office. Please go easy on the praises this time, while my halo goes for servicing. So while we were in the conference room, throwing in some dull ideas on how to celebrate Earth Day, I spotted it. There was a money-plant (people here call it ivy) sitting high on one of the closets totally neglected. In other words, it was dying a painful and lonely death. Completely withered, but showing some vital green signs of life. What a fighter, I thought. Must have been un-watered for months, from the time we had our office reconfiguration. While the meeting was still in progress, I animatedly staged the whole affair and ran off with the plant to the kitchen to revive it. The only thing missing from this scene was a stretcher and mourning plant-relatives. I hope I sufficiently managed to make my green-team greener with envy and guilt by proving to be the one who can stand up for the cause. Well, I did hear a slamming of the conference door. Uh! Such dramatic people!

'In the kitchen, I laid the plant near the kitchen sink, removed all the dried up leaves and twigs, cleaned up the pot and watered it. The soil was still hard, so I got a plastic fork from the cabinet and started jabbing through the dirt to loosen it a bit. If that plant could talk, it would have heaved a sigh of relief and said- Alpha, you have a big nose!

'A colleague walks in. Seeing me poised with a fork and potted plant on top of the kitchen counter, he goes, 'Even for a vegetarian, I think THAT is extreme lunch!'

What was that again?

New Indian guy to join my office.

Boss comes up to me and asks, 'How do you pronounce his name correctly? I want to make sure we useless Americans get it right.'

'Why should it bother you Jack? You have been mispronouncing my name for four years.'

The poor guy was so rattled that I felt bad and quickly tried to calm him down, 'Not that I really care. As long as it doesn't get distorted to Bitch.'

'So it is not Sumaaaan?'

'No, it is Summmun. Mun as in 'fun'.

'Oh ok. Simple enough. I will remember that.'

'Seeuuuummmun, he hollered the next day when I walked into his office.

'No no', I said shaking my head with dismay and regretting the freakier version that was emerging. 'Su…as in Subbramanikanteshwar. Forget it, it's fine actually.'

'Suman, did you manage to get that transmittal out? he asked when I was busy at the copying center.

Not recognizing my own name when it was pronounced right, I didn't even bother to look up this time.

Who is Alpha

'Our cousin, Sridhar, called us frantically from Singapore. He had the shock of his life early in the morning (must have chocked on his coffee) when he saw my name splattered on the Supplement of The Straits Times called ‘Digital Life'. To make matters worse there was a Jayalalitha sized photo of me on the right hand corner that appeared bigger than the article itself (all those donuts paying off). No, I was not caught with illegal possession of narcotics or spitting chewed up gum on the immaculate streets of Singapore. And before you jump into any random conclusions, I was simply selected as the “Blog of the Week”, in Singapore of all places.

'The story goes thus- I was contacted by this extremely nice person, Jennani Durai who claimed to work as a journalist for The Straits Times and wanted to feature my blog. I was of course thrilled, amused and skeptical- in that order. Hmmm…wonder why my blog? April fools day is not far off either. Sweet of her to assuage my fears and still persist, in spite of the thick-skinned moron I was proving to be. I was apprehensive about losing my identity or rather gaining my real identity here. Apprehension lasted for a single second more when fame loomed in front of me and vanity kicked in.'

'Sure! Here's my name. *blurt*'

'Are you sure? It will be published in the national newspaper? Can you handle it Ms. Hydroxy?'

'Sure sure… *trying desperately to wipe the drool and sound composed*'

'You want my photo? Oh jeez, that's the tough one. I have a digital camera. I have million photos, but not ONE worth sending. I absolutely look like a pathetic witch in every one of them. Panic mode! I almost took a day off and spent quality time with the automatic feature in my camera covering every corner of the house till I gave up, panting and puffing. Took a power nap on the couch for 5 minutes and got to business again. Even for a non-perfectionist like me, it was an ordeal. Darn! Can I just send one of Aishwarya's pics? Is she popular in Singapore? To make matters believable, I could settle for Sonali Bendre.'

'I did manage to send one which hubby took after much coaxing. I don't look like a pathetic witch at all; I look like a plain witch. Small truth in this matter being- photos don't lie. '

'Here's the article. Don't say I didn't warn you about the photo, hoping you have survived the heart attack. Actually say I look just fine and that I am over-reacting (to be courteous).

'When I first started blogging, I made a decision to go completely anonymous for various reasons.''

'-Unhindered writing. '

'-Make fun of people just to elicit a few laughs (what won't I do for that!) without offending them.''

'-Use other people's stories as mine.'

''-Come up with cooler names than my actual one.''

'Somehow I started without really knowing how to proceed and very soon I was churning out posts whenever I had the time to pen those thoughts that threatened to fly away. Strangers came, left invaluable comments, inspired me to write better and before I knew it those very strangers started becoming friends offline. The real and blogging worlds were getting mixed. Anonymity was not that big an issue anymore. I hope I have sufficiently drilled my confusing thoughts regarding this and beaten it to death. '

'Thanks to all those who have been reading the pieces of my puzzle- I mean it. Thanks Jennani, for selecting this blog that I have enjoyed writing. I am indeed humbled. ''

Very soon you shall see my talents emerging as a budding star in the next horror sequel, Ring-III. The director is bound to get in touch with me soon.

Hall of Shame

I won’t deny the fact that I was an evil prankster, much more sinister than I am now. Cheap thrills make me do it. Apart from the ones I have mentioned in this blog before, here are some more-


When I was in high school (during the time when talking to guys was a big deal), me and a friend called a dozen of my classmates (guys) as Roshni from Adarsh Vidyalaya (a school known for hipper babes) on the pretext of doing an assignment on ‘school boys’! Yeah, the geeks fell for something as preposterous as that and answered all my outrageous questions patiently. Some guys who wouldn't lift their eyes off the books admitted that they would like to have a girlfriend. Scandalous! My other girlfriends would be thrilled with this info. Next day, every guy was talking about this Roshni and pitying the other guys who hadn’t got her call. ‘Sorry buddies’, I thought sagely, ‘Only if I knew your numbers.’ They were flying high having spoken to some babe who sounded much cooler than their nerdy classmates. Oh well, I just decided not to break the news that it was me lest they tie me upside-down from the basketball loop for playing with their minds and prying into their deep dark secrets. It’s OK that I didn’t receive any credit for that prank; wise decisions come rarely to me.

It became serious business when girls started out-sourcing crank-calls to me as I could pull it off without a wayward giggle. Me, my mom and my brother denied having anything to do with the staggering phone bills, so my dad’s suspicion lay on our cat. Before my dad had further heart attacks, some one smart came up with email. Email opened a whole new realm of opportunities. I could kill five birds with one fake id. If you happen to be a friend with a decent sense of humor, you could have received a mail from Shyla Krishnan, Sapna Bhargava or Sweety Baroness. If you haven’t, please work on your sense of humor. Or just be glad.


Recently, one soul thought that Sapna was an artist who wanted to paint his portrait, in Mughal clothes holding a rose, for an upcoming Indian restaurant in the locality. We even fixed the time for head measurements for the turban. The guy was in a state of shock when he ultimately came to know who Sapna really was, especially when he had just finished giving the mirror the 67th look for the hour. A lot of egoistic guys out there, I say.


One day, I logged on to msn. I saw my then roommate. I logged off. I created another id, which resembled her boyfriend’s id. Just inter-changed a couple of letters and logged back on. As predicted she began, “Hi Kittu Puttu” *heart* *heart* *heart* 


I played along till I was almost gagging with the endearments and decided to stop this before it got too personal (yes, I do have a conscience sometimes).


So I typed, “You know, I think your roomie Alpha is very beautiful.”


“What??!!” *angry smiley*


hmm..she thinks I am not. Wait till I get home; no cooking tonight!


Before I could move on to Alpha’s clothes, she found out and gushed out, “Oh Gosh, Alpha! Its YOU!!!! Jeezzz! My God! I feel so dumb! Hehehe!” *embarrassed smiley*


With all the enemies I have made, you can imagine why I stay alert and paranoid all the time to a point where I have started doubting perfectly genuine emails.


One Mr. Jay Something emailed me to my office address.

Sorry I couldn’t meet you the other day at the Future City Volunteering Competition. I hope we can fix another time.


Convinced that this was indeed a prank, as I had not promised to meet anyone by the name of Jay Something, I replied with a curt – WHY?


He replied with a one liner- To discuss sedimentation remediation process, of course.


Ha! Is this the latest pickup line, dude? The only sediment I am aware of is in my kitchen sink.


Yes, I am sometimes delusional apart from being dumb.


Mr Jay something was not very amused, “In my 20 years of service. I have never received such a harsh reply! I am disappointed.”


A rude jolt and a frantic search in google reveals that this guy is a grandpa who has been in the business for many years (20, to be precise), won a few awards and could ruin my career if he so pleased. This dude Jay Something had the worst sense of humor I have come across, not to mention an attitude problem. He didn’t even apologize for the identity mix-up, while I had to do all the apologizing while referring him to someone who had better knowledge on sediments in my company. Phew!


I do live on the edge. In spite of all this, I haven’t been victimized (or conned) in a big way at all. ‘Oh look, there is a red mark on your forehead’ doesn’t count. I can find two explanations to this-

-People are in general are much nicer than me.

-They have much better things to do with their lives.

April Fool?

“Go get the homework books from the staff-room. I have finished correcting them”, instructed the gruff teacher to the class monitor of fifth grade, many years ago on this fateful day.


Forever obedient and vying to please, I made a dash to the staff-room. I came back panting to the classroom empty handed, having searched high and low for the darned books.


“APRIL FOOL!!” yelled the entire class in glee to the immense pleasure of our smug teacher.


Now if you have heard of a more sadistic and ill-humored prank, please let me know. How can one not obey their teacher? Did he think he got away with this? I'm still trying to locate his whereabouts!

It's almost as sinister as asking your mom to wake you up the next morning as you have an important exam. But you wake up late and when you confront her, she says 'April Fool, I was just kidding when I said I would last night!'

The quest for perfection.

You can never be satisfied with what you’ve got if you haven’t started off poor. What’s happiness to you if you haven’t cried?

Some of my prettiest and near perfect friends are the ones seen fretting and fuming about their skin or their weight. I feel adults who complain about their looks never saw bad days early on. You haven’t lived your childhood if you haven’t been teased. Can you reflect to those days when kids would poke fun at the gap in your teeth, your obesity, or the humungous mole on your long chin?...when you grow into an awkward teenager and worry excessively about that bump in your nose. ...when all of a sudden (after 50 years) you discover that inner beauty and cease to care about these things anymore. We ought to strive for that peace sooner or gorge everyone else's eyes out.

Aim towards perfection has almost become an obsession in the west. Kids start early these days with braces, accutane, nip-tucks, nose-jobs, boob-jobs, blow-jobs (sorry, got carried away). Where are the imperfect people like me? Whom do kids tease these days?

Memorable were those days when people called me a coconut grater because my two front teeth could have given Bugs Bunny a heart attack. My accomplishments at that time included brushing my teeth without even opening my mouth. My teeth walked in before me and God forbid if we ever played hide-and-seek…I was surely to be found as I had no place to hide my pair of pearls. Apart from that minor problematic detail, I could have replaced the statues of Venus de Milo. I was starting to get worried about my social/love life when I was thirteen. I pleaded with my parents to save me from this misery, just this once. It was a necessity and not vanity. Never will I ask for anything else (it wasn't the last time they heard that phrase). My parents finally decided to shell some cash for this endeavor and got me the coveted braces. They hoped that they could show my ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures to the future groom and get some concession on my dowry.

Flashing metal with different colored rubber bands became the fashion statement in my uppity school. Forget the fact that there was no bar between the deserving and the non-deserving candidates. Everyone I knew wanted their teeth behind bars. But I could care less…my face transformed during the two painful years. My dentist almost fell in love with me and I couldn't stop grinning ever since. The teeth surely went in, but in the process, my nose slowly came out! Darn!

Surely, ‘Ms. Proboscis’ is not flattering anymore (Respected proboscis, the nose looks perfect on you). Patrix, want to try a group discount for a nose job?

Toilets- no more toil.


The office toilets (or 'restrooms' (??) as these people call it) got revamped. Just as you do your job, and the automatic flush does its job. *Swoooosh! Gurgle!* The first time that happened, I jumped up with fright. Actually thought someone was employed to do this by standing behind unsuspecting toilet goers. Relieved to find no one staring at my butt that was open to the elements, I breathed. *swoooosh gurgle* again! I lifted my hands and waved. The pot got flushed. I winked- the same thing happened. By the time I finished up with my little activity, I might have emptied the river Kauvery. Goo-ness me! The amount of water these Americans are willing to recycle ( or do they?) for the sake non-contamination from a few non-existent bacteria just bothered me. My early training in Chennai saw me through with a coke-can of water. *swoosh Gurgle* Holy crap! Shocked, I turned around again. It must have heard my heart beat.


I decided the whole hype about cleanliness was going too far as I washed my hands from a motion-sensor tap, received a few drops of pink liquid from the automatic soap dispenser and placed my soapy hands under the tap again for water to come out like every magician’s ‘Water of India’ trick. Wait a minute, an automatic soap dispenser?!!! Wow! This is why I don’t get a raise anymore. Then the hand-dryer dried my hands as I wondered about good old handkerchiefs neatly folded into the pockets. Did people swoon to their death after every bathroom visit in the olden days? Human intervention puts microbes in the endangered species list just after pandas-  the headlines will read soon, if this goes on.

Disconcerted about not touching any surface (except toilet paper) and finishing my work, I walked out of the automatic door in a dizzy when my colleague pointed out that I had toilet paper sticking out of my pants. Eeeeew! Gross! Is there an automatic toilet paper remover? I’m NOT touching that thing!

I also need to use that ‘memory eraser gun’ (the one they had in MIB) on my colleague.

The married truth

It was our wedding anniversary couple of days ago. Somehow we managed to live with each other for four whole years!! ‘How time flies’, I crooned.

‘Only I know how it crawled,’ sighed he.

We decided that we have been married long enough to get excited about resorts and heart shaped Jacuzzis. So we went to the next romantic place we know, the gym, where we met some friends (Pi's juniors) who were scandalized with our behavior. They felt so sorry for me that I started feeling sorry for myself pretty soon, though going to the gym had been a joint decision.  

‘Comon Alpha, we’ll take you out for dinner’ they suggested. I declined saying that we were fine and that they shouldn’t really worry about us. Dates never had significance in our lives. We did a celebration of sorts on the weekend anyway, I explained in a wee attempt to console myself. And I got a gift, what more do I need. But those bachelors were inconsolable. One guy was really worried if this was the fate of all married couples.

In order to spice up the evening a little more than the rest of the world was led to believe, Pi did a take out from our favorite restaurant, bought champagne, lit candles etc... he even had the TV & phones switched off. It was really romantic, as much as we could take it. We just about got to sipping champagne and taking a bite that we heard a loud unexpected knock. We jumped up in alarm, put on our normal clothes, blew out the candles, covered the food and sheepishly opened the door looking bewildered to say the least. A group of guys including the ones we met at the gym were at our door looking rather pleased.

‘Sorry we had to barge in like this. We thought we’d spice up your boring life a little. We brought you guys a cake to celebrate your anniversary!’

So we ended up cutting a cake with a dozen friends cheering on, feeding it to each other, taking pictures while the champagne and candles got shelved for another year.

Friends! Our marriage wouldn’t have lasted a single year without them. Thank you all, especially you, Gratisgab. You know what, this year I have decided to stick with Pi again. *clink*


Encounter in the Train

This mind numbing morning when I wanted nothing but empty thoughts, I was accosted by an old Chinese guy at the CTA station wearing the ubiquitous yellow Burberry hat. He walked up to me to strike a conversation.

‘You Indian?’ he asked knowledgably.

Friggin hell, how the heck did he figure out? Surely not my brown skin or thick black hair or the distinct Indian features could have given it away. No way! How come no one asks me if I am Norwegian?

'Mmm’, I nodded not wanting to encourage a tea stall conversation. Any other day, I would have shown some courtesy and found out why Chinese loved the Burberry pattern, whether it was in their tie, socks, handbag or tongue cleaner. But today was not the day.

Not at all discouraged by the cold easterly winds emanating from my direction, Sherlock Holmes proceeded to explain that he knew 3 languages, which included Japanese (He turned out to be Japanese and not Chinese- so much for my detective skills). “I don’t know Indian, too bad. But I know Geography very well. All the capitals of all countries. You ask, I will answer.’

Is he kidding me? What is this, a quiz program that I was unwillingly getting steered into? I hope he isn’t mistaking me for another Indian, Siddharth Basu. Please God, let the train come.

Train came. Halleluiah!

I rushed inside and sat right next to another hopefully sober person even though I prefer sitting on empty seats. A small sacrifice for mental peace, I decided.

But my comrade didn’t falter even for a second. He apparently got some friendly vibes from me, trotted up to my seat and declared, ‘I don’t mind standing. I will stand near you and answer your questions. I can start. You want to know capital of Armenia? It is tough one. Starts with Y.’

I couldn’t care less if it was Gumidipindi. I just wanted to cry. He was like a 7-year old, a really over enthusiastic annoying 7-year old whom you couldn’t even slap.

‘I don’t know.’ I conceded half hoping he would lose interest in the dim-witted soul that spelt M-E and move on to that bright looking blonde with green highlights in pink shoes touching up her make-up.

‘No, it’s Ok. You couldn’t have known anyway, it is tough. It’s Yerevan!! Ask some more. This is fun.’ He shouted in glee almost clapping his hands and hugging me.

We played this for 7 stations, during which, he asked and answered capitals to countries I hadn’t even heard of while I grunted and nodded and shifted uneasily. If body language was anything to go by, I might have been mistaken for someone who needed to use the toilet badly.

Anyway, there was a silver lining to this extremely dark nimbus cloud. It was the fact that he stopped showing off his capitals and moved on. ‘There are many religions. I am Buddhist. There is Christians and Hindus and Jews and… I forget one more..’

‘Moslems?’ I smiled, finally warming up to him.

‘No..no..no…mmm…wait...wait..Islam..yes, Islam!’ he jumped up in sheer happiness.

I congratulated him.

‘You know Islam religion is very violent. All these terrorists are Islams.’ He added not in very hushed tones.

I froze with shock. What the heck is this guy up to? Trying to get me killed? Jeez man!! I tried my best to salvage the situation looking around apologetically at fellow passengers, ‘No, Islam is not like that.’

Luckily for me, he decided the matter wasn’t worth pursuing. He clearly wasn’t into discussions (only monologues involving general knowledge). Phew!

‘You know there is a famous Indian man I know in History. I’ll tell ok. You don’t tell. Wait’

After a long pause and immense deliberation,

‘Wait wait…don’t tell…don’t tell’, he protested even as I sat calmly not really wanting to participate.

After more time and agony, he agreed to let me divulge the name.

‘Gandhi?’ I prompted.

No no…I’m not getting it. Starts with the letter M, I’m very sure.’

'Mahatma Gandhi?’

‘Right Right! Mahatma Gandhi. What a great man he was.’

Great man indeed! If not for him, some violence would have taken place for sure (of me hurling myself out of a moving train).

Footnote: Rhyncus has written this story from the old man's perspective. Hilarious.

SOS! Stop overdoing surprises


Surprise Birthday Parties. Everyone in my huge group of friends has had one and continues to have one every year, which means that I’m attending a SBP almost every month (make that every week). Somehow the novelty has not waned and has almost become a part of our lives- an obsession. The spouse will go to lengths to make it surprising enough by altering some modus operandi that had been previously employed by another so much so that not getting a SBP has become the recent surprising factor. Usually parties in the weekend that were much preferred by us working class have been brutally shifted to weekdays so that the birthday person can get sufficiently surprised by the fact that some suckers would take precious rest time off and drive miles away to say “SURPRISE!”. Weekday evenings not being surprising anymore, weekday midnights are being preferred. The bar, the food, the ambience can all go out of the window as long as a group of friends congregate secretly and manage to shock the living daylights of the birthday person. The higher the shock levels the better. I have seen it all- Theme parks, ski resorts, strip clubs, basket ball games, old age homes…


A week before the event, the dreadful email generally goes like this:


People, it’s Victim’s birthday on A date. Please try and be at this B place at sharp C pm and not a second later. As usual follow the protocol for SBP.


Harassed Spouse of Victim (if only previous SBP hadn’t set the bar so high... Up yours! Suffer next spouse!)


The protocol for invitees-

-Do not utter a word to the victim about his impending disaster and casually allude to other places you are likely to be at the date in question

-Mentally prepare yourself to spend on something you really don't care for just to prove your friendship and for that sweet element of revenge.

-Leave everything you are doing or would have loved to do at that time and rush to the venue as nonchalantly as possible.

-If you are the designated cake bearer, rush to the nearest bakery and pick up any random cake…after all it’s not your birthday and you are dieting.

-Coordinate with the other forty people by cell phone till your ears melt.

-Even as professional adults, hide behind bar stools and stay as stationary as possible trying to filter out other people’s stares. 

Protocol for birthday person-

-Do not allude to the fact that impending disaster is very well known and innocently add that birthday celebrations may include a nice dinner at home (hopes you have kiddo)

-Do not plan anything personal for the week and get whisked away as nonchalantly as possible. Make minimal drama to create aura that you were not really prepared to get whisked away.

-Ask spouse what to wear. Depending on where the surprise is going to take place, you better make sure you don’t end up in a skating rink with a bathing suit. It has happened.

-Try to pop some Valium before embarking on this journey. You may not like the place or the people and you may be required to smile.

-Act sufficiently surprised when everyone pops out of his or her hiding places and hug everyone in sheer ecstasy. It is a practiced art.

-Keep at the hugging till people are convinced that their efforts were well worth it.

-Look fondly at spouse- keep curses at low decibels.

-Pop more pills and stay cool. You have it coming next year too.

It's Pi's birthday next and I am in panic mode!!! HELP! I want to start a petition and stop this cruel practice so that the future generations will be spared. They might even build a pedestal for me and shower my feet with rose petals. But the thought of being considered a non-loving wife is clashing with my principles. I think that a party in Las Vegas will be great. Everyone can appear from the skies in hot air balloons and yell "SURPRISE!"


About what?
Yahoo id: ahydroxy


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