Friday, April 26, 2019

You Fatso – The story of my paunch

I have finally realized that my no longer tacit reserves of cholesterol and its self-disclosing revelations by degrees, articulating themselves to thrust all the time and often deftly, cannot be hidden anymore. After the pretty lady doctor in namma metro seated and facing right at my torso for an entire minute and gave me that “how can there be so much disparity between your rumen and reticulum.. You fatso” look, I have accepted that my paunch has overdone all my efforts to keep it under control. Today, I have lost hopes that somehow someday, my tummy will be back to normal shape. Its time I came to terms with it. My wife chiding me of late by asking “yesht tingalu” (how many months) is actually the purest intended sarcasm which I could not even figure it out. Goddammit! **sobs uncontrollably**

Early warning signs:

Your stomach - before it metamorphoses to belly and eventually a potbelly; will actually send early warning signals. You should actually be smart enough to take notice and act on it, which I totally failed at. For e.g. while bathing I accidentally ran my hand on the precipice underneath my navel and could not recall of its whereabouts just a year ago.  While it was totally serious, the element of surprise died as soon as I walked out of the bathroom and looked at the full length mirror in the room. I just did not even realize how whataybaby rested so easily even with my weak grip around his waist.  Why would I automatically become conscious of breathing while posing for a picture? Oh dude! It all falls in place now! How I wish I could go back and change it now! But my dear friend, time is something that you can’t own and revisit.

Ga-Ga over Yoga

Of all the attempts to get rid of my paunch, the first one was joining Yoga at workplace. The way I took off doing 108 Suryanamaskars at one go was the epitome of happiness. I thought, at this rate, my belly fat will just melt away. But later I learnt that it was just one time gimmick to celebrate international Yoga day and next sessions were full of asanas which I could barely do in right way because of my potbelly coming in between. Even after 4 weeks, I did not see any noticeable changes. Heartbroken on how Yoga did not help me shed even a few kilos around my waist; I blamed Baba Ramdev wholeheartedly, my mind started exaggerating my C5-C6 disk herniation to hyperbolic degrees. To aid my decision, god sent a thief to office who stole my Yoga Mat. Yoga ended with a perpetual loss of 300 bucks without burning an ounce of fat around my waist.  

Desperate attempts:

The next attempt was so infallible that it just couldn’t go wrong at all! No prizes for guessing! It was buying a fit-bit band. IT IS NOT FUNNY how I convinced myself that the better results you see with your eyes, the more you’ll be motivated to exercise. I also vaguely recalled one of my friends telling me about the bio feedback bullshit which compelled me to buy it. The first couple of weeks were so good that with completing 10,000 steps, I already started imagining that my jeans pants had loosened up a little. That night I dreamt of a six-pack abs just by wearing a fit-bit band and walking around. But even this fascination didn’t last long. Just a week after that, I realized that when I was asleep during my entire 14 hour journey from Dubai to Chicago, the step count had reached 8500. WTF man! With sheer disappointment, I waved my hands at air hostess only to realize that the step counter again jumped another 3 steps. The dejection I experienced at 35000 feet was just unfathomable. Fit-bit was pure shit-bit!

A friend in need is a friend in deed

By now, I had zeroed in on the root cause. The actual problem was that I did not have an exercising 
partner/friend. Exercising with friends can make it more fun and increase the probability of sticking to an exercising routine. So I and Shashi meticulously worked out a plan. We decided to compromise our sleep by an hour and go to Turahalli every morning for a run. The last resort of shedding my potbelly had perfectly taken off to a head start. This time, it worked like charm. We got used to a routine. 4 km of walk/run in the forest, bitching about stupid bosses at workplace, talking about Data, Mobile, analytics, cloud and debating the Indian political Diaspora; getting to witness the ostentatious displays of peacock’s beautiful feathers to attract the peahens; Oh the bliss!  Alas, just as we started shedding few kilos, Shashi had to travel to USA for three months. And the Turahalli chapter saw a dismal ending. But the question “Kya aap paunch vi pass se tezz hain” still remained.

Within a few months, buddy maga Bali shifted to my apartment. But the damage was already done. In this two month gap, my paunch had thrived on the Bajji-Bondas, Death by Chocolate and all the possible junk which had Buy one Get One offer in D-mart. To add to it was my eternal craving for rice. With the little bit of motivation left, we decided to run 5K, only on the weekends. Our wives made fun of it so candidly. We took it as a challenge. We just took it. We couldn't do a thing about it. because of inexplicably mysterious problems. It was very evident that the entire universe was acting in unison to stop my belly fat from shedding. It was sort of anti incumbency experienced by my stomach. The more I tried to exercise, the larger it grew in size.


I was pounding down the bajji-bonda little hesitantly. Abhi read my mind and gave me a piece of advice: “Macha, don’t think too much. Don't stop eating a food just because it contains fat, and never think a food is healthy only because it does not contain fat. That was the moment my mind was waiting for. Even before he could complete, my mind raced ahead of time and convinced myself with a variety of reasons. A doctoral student from IISc saying this has to make perfect sense.

A great man once said that belly is actually a sign of happiness; And yeah! Beyond your good health nothing matters. Happiness starts in the stomach. Above all, fat reserves are important for the body.

I am driving back home and Fat Boy Slim’s “Eat sleep rave repeat” is playing aloud in my car.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Of auto correction, Cyber-slang and technology chauvinism

My recent whatsapp conversation with a college friend of mine did not go very well. I was totally baffled and was fumbling to even understand what she was talking. The jargon and the chat acronyms she used were so much that for every reply of her I had to Google to find out what it actually meant. To save myself from embarrassment, here is an edited version of the conversation:

She: Tejjjjjj! Lngtym. Hw ya doin?
Me: Heyyy Rosh! I am good! How are you? Real long time. Last time we met was in 2008 I guess
She: IKR!
Me: ** Long pause** What are you up to?
She: M gd. Settled in US for now. But its AFU life here. Hey, DYK wr Sandy s?
Me: **Long pause** He is in Singapore
She: DAFUQ? I was der for like 8Y man! DUR our coll days?
Me: **Long pause** Yeah. Good old days J
She: Hey Y u tkn so lng to rply?
Me: Frankly, I am trying to catch up with your net lingo. Google’s not helping either: P
She: Roflmao! K. GTG. Buhbyeee. XOXOZZZ

Throughout the conversation, I had this weird feeling that she is bi-lingual, speaking English and in another language called Cyber slang, unknown to me for which I was replying only in English. It felt weird and awkward. At the end of it, I was not sure if I was really happy we spoke after a long time. I kept thinking about it for a very long time. It was then I realized that I too am a victim of this text lingo to a certain extent. Oblivious to my own conscience, I found that I end up writing ‘thru’ for ‘through’; ‘n’ for ‘and’, ‘tomo’ for ‘tomorrow’ and so on.

Ideally, with all the digital communication platforms and the world of internet at our fingertips, our vocabularies should have been expanding, isn’t it? But it looks like it is not the case. Considering the exposure which my dad and grandpa had to literature and books, I definitely have an edge over them. But I can assertively say that my grandpa and my dad have better vocabularies than that of mine. I just paid a little more attention to what they did differently than us. I had my answers within days.

At workplace, very often, I am required to review the requirement specification documents as part of my job. For the records, requirement specification is a document which lists the detailed description of how a software feature is expected to work. My most preferred way of checking for grammar and spelling correctness is MS word spell checker. Is it that I cannot do it without it? Most certainly not. But this gives me a quick overview of what needs correction and lists it out for me, boom! my job is done within a short time. On the contrary, my dad, even to this day, proof reads an entire article using his brains and eyes only. No, he does not depend on spell check. His brain is processing it for him since 50 years; which is to say that his vocabulary is getting stronger and sharper every day. It does not surprise me that my dad is called ‘walking dictionary’ in his office.Whereas for me; since the computer is doing it, the computer is getting smarter. Oh, the machine learning. In other words, the machine is getting smarter everyday by making us dumb, you dumber.

Auto correction
Whatsapp has become the de-facto standard for all sorts of communication. Text, Images, audio, documents and whatsoever format that it supports, the texting which is widely used, comes with a serious issue tagged with it called Auto correction. When I have interacted with acquaintances, there were disastrous moments of me trying to say something but ended up saying something else. I strongly have a feeling that they think I am some third grade dropout who cannot even form basic sentences. Few disasters due to auto correction were beyond repair; like the ones below:
  • ·         Did you see Urine? Don’t miss.. Sorry Urine.. I mean URI.. Goddammit!
  • ·         Hi Practice… What??? Sorry. I meant Prachi.. Ugh!
  • ·         May be Dick by Hermaphrodite Melvin (While discussing about Moby-dick by Herman Melville)
  • ·         Heyy.. Finally I found my GSPOT.. errrr.. GPS (She had fainted by then I guess)
  • ·         I am yet to finish writing. I am a prostitute (I wanted to say Procrastinator.. Argghhhhh)
  • ·         I once told my wife “I really want to meet you. But you are so damn fat” (She called me even before I said FAR not fat)
ducking autocorrection
The most famous auto correction problem on iPhone

My grandpa never had all these problems because from Bhadravati to Bangalore, he used to send telegrams, wrote wonderful letters and he himself typed his messages on postcards using a typewriter. He even sent us handmade greeting cards on various occasions. On the other hand, The Roget’s Thesaurus 1941 edition and the Rev. F. Kittel’s 1894 edition of Kannada-English dictionary copies at home are almost in worn-out state with torn illustrations and title page re-joined with an adhesive tape. I can even see a few printing mistakes corrected with a pen. They are perhaps telling a lexicon tale that we are not willing to believe. 
Kannada to English dictionary
A very old Kittel's Kannada to English dictionary
With Auto correction, auto-complete and other such tools, the flexibility in the language usage is lost by a huge magnitude. It is true that words don’t get their meanings from dictionaries. They get their meanings from how they are contextually used by writers and speakers. The more speakers and writers conform to suggestions by machines, the less creative the language becomes. Do you remember elders in your family asking you to read “The Hindu” and “classic literature” to enhance your English vocab? Now you know why.

The postcard typed by my grandfather when my father was born - Year 1946

Genetics and Language
Have you ever noticed this about yourself or someone around you? If you did your schooling in Kannada Medium, there is high possibility that, even to this day, you’ll do all the basic math (addition, subtraction and multiplication) in Kannada, way faster than English. Now there are demonstrated research works that claim our linguistic capabilities are directly linked to our genetic predisposition. So inclination towards technology for everything is more serious condition than it actually is.

Over dependence on technology has already done enough damage to our daily lives. Call me old school, but I really don’t like technology invading our private lives so much that it obliterates our ability to learn and master a language. There is a dire need to limit our dependency and put a stop to chauvinism that we are showing towards Auto correction, auto complete and cyber slang. Let our linguistic capability remain intact and do not obtuse us.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Pretentious traffic rules of namma Bengaluru

What defines a city? For some it is a center of a wide area in terms of its length and breadth; and for few others, it is the economy. There are cities defined by their geographies, archaeology, the kind of trade they do and even for its cosmopolitan culture. Do you know there is a city in New Zealand which is demarcated by the Speed of the wind?  There are cities that are defined by the amount of innovation that it has advocated to the world and even by their high-speed expressways. And then, there is our City, which is defined by the magnitude of traffic jams and purest form of assholes giving us nail biting experiences on a day to day basis while we commute. Oh yeah! We are Bangaloreans

While in your world you honk only to call attention to an accident that may happen, in Bangalore, honking is a way of life. We honk to say Hi, to say Bye. We honk to shift lanes, to jump signals, to notify them that you’re about to break rule, to bully riders, to play tunes of your favorite songs and sometimes even to get attention of the driver who has fallen asleep at the traffic jam. And most importantly, we honk to remind people that the signal has turned green and because our roads are full of high intellectuals who neither understand why the signal turned green nor have patience to wait for a couple of seconds, we honk. Expectations are very high here. As soon as the signal turns green, we expect everyone to take off like supersonic jets within Nano seconds. We are very forward that way.
So we, the sovereign socialist democratic republicans of Bangalore have accepted the pretentious directive that honking for anything is totally conventional and we live with it. God save us!
Bangalore roads - there is neither lane nor discipline
Strategy vs Skills
If you think you know how to drive, that is a myth dude! You’re totally off beam. Just forget all your driving skills. It will anyway be rendered useless. Because what you need is a strategy; a foresight showing a prudent awareness of future possibilities. If a driver/rider is approaching you, you should be able to judge all the odds within no time (except the right one which he never does) and strategize your next move. Remember the CEAT’s “India ke sadkon pe aapko alag alag mahapurush milenge” ad? Every  pedestrian on Bangalore road is a potential “mahapurush” with mobile in hand. Unless you’re a humanoid robot with zettabytes of processing speed, your brain just cannot handle this amount of complexity. That way, Bangalore roads are future ready for robots!
So, we forget all our driving skills and just master the art of prognostication…. To save our lives! 
Pedestrians of Bangalore
That old “we don’t drive on the left of the road. We drive on what is left on the road” joke is feeble now. Gone are those days where roads were used to dry red chilies, breeding cows and throwing avarekai peel-off on road for a tasty hidkid bele Saaru. Now, six lanes, widened roads, underpass, Metro trains, fly-overs and more importantly BDA’s incredible invention of the century, Magic Box underpass in almost every corner of Bengaluru is a significant example of India’s manifold improvements in the infrastructure front. The only thing which is still awaiting improvement is our motorists’ brain. May be, a holocaust on Bangalore roads is what we are waiting for. I mean it. Excluding a few occasions where we consider abrupt right turns are our birth right and turning left is the only option left, we are following lane discipline. And few surprises by entering the opposite lane is only to educate and prepare you for the unexpected. And overtaking from the left is always cool. No hard feelings there brotha!

On a serious note, haven’t we pretentiously accepted that it is OKAY for someone entering from the wrong lane or one way? What on earth is wrong with us! We make way for wrongdoers and then proceed. Nowhere in the world is driving in the wrong lane, an acceptable behavior. This happens only in Bangalore. Argggghhhhhhh!!!!! 
Magic Box or Tragic Box - By 10th standard engineers of BDA
Potholes and punishment
Bangalore is probably the only city on this planet which does surveys on number of potholes. NUMBER OF POTHOLES! Yes, you read that right. If you meet with an accident due to potholes, Bangalore city traffic police will book a case against you for negligent driving. I am not kidding! (Read it here). Irony committed suicide. But according to our cops, if you cannot manage driving/riding on city’s roads, with potholes as big as manholes, you are an offender. We have raised the bar to astonishing standards yo! A minister even blocks ambulances on road for his convoy movement. And what happened to the patient inside? He got down from the ambulance and walked to the hospital. (Read it here). Whoa! Bravo. The patient’s pragmatism level=GOD. Imagine a minister in western countries blocking ambulance for his convoy movement. He would be sacked the very next day. On the other side, as usual, namma minister got away with it easily, only because WE have readily accepted that THIS IS OUR FATE! 

Two Ambulances stuck on both lanes in Bangalore

The darkness of not following rules, traffic exorcism by cops, the daily bloodshed that BMTC has inherited to its culture is just growing by the day and we continue to accept the mass traffic violations as a NORM! It makes me sad that instead of learning from mistakes, we just get disparaged and learn to live with it. I have lost hopes that government even cares what is happening to its citizens. If you are waiting for the Government or cops to create magic, it is practically impossible. From my own experience, often, there is always that one asshole who did not follow rule, behind a traffic pile-up. In other cases, hundreds of people are waiting for that one guy to break the rules so that they can follow without taking the ownership of guilt. The least we can do is stop being that asshole. And stop your fellow motorists from being that asshole. Rest all will fall in place. 

You change your thoughts and you change your destiny, if not you continue to get stuck in the same traffic pile up. Until we hesitate to act, until we start to follow rules, until we do not stand up against the mass traffic violations, the journey on namma Bengaluru roads is a saga of pain and frustration; nothing more. And it is here to stay…... Because we are pretentiously "tra-fucked".