Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Dileep - Crazy Roomies III

"How many room mates have you had" ? 11 years of living with people (includes my bro).. Some day, I will count. as of now you do the math.

Room mates come in all types. "Dileep" is among the most extreme of those. How can I forget him...

It was a typical winter in jersey. I was depressed like hell. Some said it was the winter syndrome. Lack of oxygen, Too much t.v. and super sized fries. It was much more than that, the dingy absolutely negative place where I lived in. Not to forget, the feeling of "expecting to be laid off" and my two room mates "Trevor" and "Dileep".

My previous room mate "chetti" kicked me out of the house (the lease was in his name) because he was getting married (actually he got pissed, because I forgot to close the salt lid). I was looking for a place to stay when I stumbled across "Trevor". Trevor was an old school friend from chennai who I bumped in by accident over www.roommates.com. I decided to move in.

There was another guy called "Dileep" who was there. This part of my life was one of the darkest and as an exercise in exorcising all my ghosts (read issues) I am recollecting this painful experience, just to make you all laugh.

So make sure you laugh. In summary two months after moving in, I decided to move out. Here is what happend.

Dileep is a 30 + PhD in laser technologies from IIT and has had over 40 publications in international publications. In US he was consulting for TCS!!!. Dileep never eats out. He cooks all his 3 meals at home. He buys the cheapest potatoes, bread and ketchup (Usually the stock that would be just thrown out). He was on a super saving spree and he would go to any lengths to achieve his savings goals (between 70% - 90% of what he earned). He owned a 15 year old toyota coralla with no heating. So after dusk, he would piggy ride on other people's cars. He never rented any videos of blockbuster. He always rented videos from the local govt. library (free). The t.v. ??. Our first t.v. in India (Dynora) way beack in 1980 was more advanced. This t.v. had knobs for changing channels !!! He hasnt watched HBO ever. Basically He employed all tactics possible to achieve his savings goals and he would one day write a book, "how to save Dollars living in US, even as your life went down the drain". His idea of parties were the stupid desi potluck parties where they talk of green cards, cars, politics back home, kids, sale offers, and cook food for each other. I attended one of those parties. I came back home and puked.

We lived in PP, NJ where so many desi married couples lived. I was careless eough not to do the negihbourhood check. They all made me more than welcome in their clockwork lives. Work, parties, temple, laundramat, hindi movies. If life was tick-tock-tick-tock for these clockwork couples, I was a out of sync Tang-Ting-Talang no two notes repeating itself. The focus of the whole extended families were my wild ways and miserly living of Dileep. They would exclaim to Trevor "Both your roomates are crazy. Vasu parties all the time in hoboken and dileep never has eaten anywhere apart from burger king and McDonalds. You must be having a horrible time !! ?? ". Trevor would smile sheepishly offering no other comments. He never displayed any identity which Dileep and Me displayed. And I hated to be clubbed along with him. So this is how I lived those horrible 2 months of my life.

I always had the feeling that married desi couples used the surpless availability of techi bachelors to crack their stupid insipid bachelor jokes. They will make jokes about apparent desperation in us bachelors' lives and give out really stupid laughs. This dull tame jokes spiced up their useless lives. Some of the wives in that group had a lot of time and patience on their hands (H4 visa holders). I avoided them for mainly two reasons.

1.) I had a flirting problem back then. I mean I was in a flirting spree getting to expand my horizons. I was genuinely interested in women (RR says all women, any women) and was absolutely non-self concious about my ugly looks and south asian swagger. I was putting a lot of guys in discomfort. As I said, I was just expanding my horizons. I dint want to rock the fragile platforms on which these families were built on. I could have easily overdone it and offered a wild experience to any one of these wives. As it is most of them lived a highly repressed lives in recreating home away from home. These were genuinely decent guys and I dint want to hang around them making them feel inadequate because of my flirting problem.

2.) I felt that these wives of friends were acting like mothers. "Dont smoke". "Dont drink too much Vasu". "You are doing so good. Why dont you get married". The assault on my free independant spirit was incessant. I longed for the anonymity and freedom of lodi (zip code: 07644). Worse was when some of these wives would take turns to invite all 3 of us for dinners. Conversations would always end up being asked, so when are you going to get married ? I usually skip these things. Dileep never missed the chance. I always thought it was wierd that Dileep discussed the floral patterns on curtains and home furnishings over dinners.

Even when I wasnt there, I was subject of much discussion. The vagabound tam brahm boy needs to be saved from the evils of the west. Whenever I did happen to bump into them in the launderomat, all attention would flow to me. I just couldnt help it. Once Arun's wife and mother caught me reading "Venus in India" while waiting for the drier to finish. Arun's wife grabbed the book with authority despite me protests. She gave a shriek of blasphemy when she looked at the cover.

Arun's mother never again spoke to me.

Trevor reasoned with me that it was because I missed all those get-togathers that I was being remembered so much. He reasoned, "Vasu just make an appearance once in a while and enjoy the fun and all will be fine and besides, Arun's sister would be there too". I dint know what was the reason, but it worked and I Decided to attend the next event.

The whole married couple's jund (crowd) decided to go for an outing to a temple and a restraunt. It was a huge plan. Took 5 days to confirm and re-confirm and as usual the toyota corolla sat in the parking lot. Arun's sister, Arun and me travelled by my car. Luckily Dileep had to discuss the intricacies of kasur methi (an indian spice) with Arun's wife. Ours was the only car with three people. Arun's mom joined us at the last moment just to keep a watch on her daughter. She was a nice kid, a student somewhere and we really had to watch out for all the protective hawks around that day. I did manage to exchange numbers despite the intense glare from her Mom.

I somehow endured the bridgewater temple. As we went back to our cars, Dileep is told of the plan to go to a restraunt. He was aghast. I cant afford "Olive garden". He wanted out. He asked me to drop him home before going to the restraunt. I politely told him "Fuck off, take a taxi home". Dileep dint have a choice. Olive garden was a slightly more expensive place than other restraunts. But it was a good place to go once a week. The food was great. Some white wine, Arun's sister was keeping me esoteric company across our table. Both of us were sick of the games married people play. I was enjoying the after temple dinner and for once dint feel guilty of flirting. What a relief.

Dileep was silent. His mathematical brain was calculating all that he ate. His average savings rate calculation left a bad taste in my mouth. He finally ordered a basic salad and was aghast that he paid USD 3 for taxes. I felt good that he had no choice but roll the economy forward. He kept grumbling about the USD 15 he paid for the salad that day.

By the time we came back home, he was almost in tears. "How can these people do this to me". He was aghast. "Why dint they tell me that they had plans of going to "Olive Garden". They purposely planned it". He felt most betrayed by Arun's wife because she was in this plan too. It was a plan to both tame me and to shock him. Tame me by making me bow and go around the temples of bridgewater. I am sure Arun's mother was behind this idea. Like a good boy he should go to the temple once a week".

Dileep dint eat for 3 days. He said he was offering fast to "Lord Brahma". "Let me know if Brahma comes", I said. "I need to ask him when did he create you ? Monday morning before the crap ??". Its a huge rigour living with Dileep.

One evening I opened the refridgirator and it was empty of all beer bottles!!!. Never is my refredgirator empty of beer. He (you know who) had removed all the beer bottles and replaced with humongous pots of paneer makhanwala, biriyani and dal. I was in my pits that day having been laid off, a bad snow fall... and a life that was increasingly going downhill. Dileep's only responsw was, "You dint come to Arun's dinner today.They have given you all the leftover food. There is food for 3 days man!!! hurray !!! we dont need to cook. I had to make space so I removed your beer bottles".

I slammed the refridgirator and mumbled to myself "this is the last straw". That evening I packed all my stuff into the jetta, called "RR" who lived in Lodi and moved back with my old friends. I called up Trevor and told him that I am quitting. Thats it. Trevor understood. He later on advised me about the necessity for me to be patient. He also advised me not to get married anytime soon. I dint know why he said that though ?

Apparently my sudden decision to quit forced Dileep to recalculate his savings formulae. I had rocked his equation. So to reduce the burn and save more he quit the house and moved in with a colleague in Patterson, NJ. Now Patterson is a dangerous hood town. Guns, rap and graffiti all over the town. The rents are 30% lesser than elsewhere.

One day as Dileep and his new friend return from work. They find their house broken open and swept clean of all possesions. Music system, computers, camcoders, t.v. all clothes, even undergarments had been lifted out. Basically all that they was remaining was whatever they wore and luckily they carried their passports along with them all the time. Nothing else survived.

And yes, Dileep had piggy rided along with his new friend to work and his 15 year old toyota coralla was also gone.

For some wierd reason I dont know why, I felt good. I am generally a nice guy who doesent wish evil to others. But that day, I couldnt help it. One cant say admit this to others though. It is not politically correct. But the funny thing was, I found Trevor suppressing an evil laughter as he was narrating the complete disbelieving look on Dileep's face.

Last I heard, Dileep bought a t.v. with remote !!! and has bought a 2000 model toyota corolla. not bad huh..

A week after I moved out. RR asks me. "So Vasu, how was your experience in PP ?". "Totally fucked up two months da"... "Its all in the game", adds the wise RR... Amen..

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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Shrink Attack !!!

Ok, many people had told me that I am funny. Some have paid me this complement without taking a break from their laughing. But no one, not one of them said its dangerous except Neetha (names changed).. In her cocky, snobby, know all opinion I have "unresolved issues" from my past. Before I could protest with all my ferocity, she shut me up with a PhD degree in behavioural psychology. Now how would you tackle that..

My usual entertain-friend-over-beer-and-maggie turned out to be a major "couch experience" on two seperate single couches ofcourse. Neetha is a pain in the the the (ya thats where) despite her stunning looks, tone body. After all those years still, things have never changed. I could never get to make a pass at her. Somehow I felt wierd being associated with her.

I am in no mood to do a blow by blow account of what happend but here it is in summation. She thinks "My funny facade is to hide a deeper sense of a need to be recogonised, to have attention heaped on me and hide my inadequacies. Further it can also stem from possible anxiety (of what she never elaborated)".

I decided to explore a bit and see if I atall hide my inadequacies. now these are the few times, I thought about all my "inadequacies".

1) I am horribly organised.
2) I sometimes talk. Ok.. I talk all the time.
3) I make people laugh and make them forget about how sick, dead, useless, fucked up their lives are. ok thats a little overkill. But take heart whose life is it anyway ;) .
4) I give complements very freely and easily (She thinks, I do this to overcome my inadequacies too. Feeling cocky, arrogant and proud).
5) I genuinely like some people who laugh uniquely (like the girl I recently met who chuckled at all my jokes and who laughed incessantly. She thinks thats because I like my audience) and I tell them that. Now sometimes it makes people uncomfortable.
6) I am always behind schedulde at all my personal chore (She thinks, I need a core purpose in life and this being behind in scheduldes (paying bills mainly) is a reaction to a purposeless life).
7) My speling suck and I am too lazy or indiffierent to correct it. not that I notice it. Responses have been pouring in in 100s of how funny and witty my posts are if only you do the spell check. I say all these people have problems. They cant deal with a little imbalance and disorder and chaos in this world. They crave for perfection and precision. This maniacal obsession is a disease, I dont suffer from. And yes, I purposely mispelt the word spelling to open people's eyes to reality. See how many people suffer from this disease ?

There are a ton of other nasty habbits that I have, but I am not going to take me down in public glare. I am not that stupid.

I think Neetha is psycho, cos she has done so much of psycho reading to do her PhD and she has to use the full power of her knowledge on an unsuspecting subject. Ya, I know its a little lame. I also think that everyone has to have some issue or the other ? even the guy who thinks he has no issues. Thats very abnormal isnt it ? Someone with no issues ? maybe that is the issue. "you dont have any issues, how wierd, you are hiding something". I think she has issues. to her mind everyone is hinding something and she is that cop. I think when she was a kid she never played the cop.

The problem with her was, the last time we met I was 19. She still relates to me when I was 19. Awkward, never been on stage, last in the race, curd rice gulping, brain dead no opinions, absolutely no sense of comptition or aggression, not protective about the things I liked. That was 11 years back (ya, I am thirty). And she suddenly is told by a friend of a friend of a friend how socially networked and active I am. She couldnt believe it and is trying to find the switch in my "id". Know what an id is ?? She just cant believe that I am charming, funny and basically at peace with my f*ed up life. Ya once in a while I do one of those big binges "30 hrs of t.v." (cant you watch 30 hrs of female wrestling ? whats wrong with you ? ) or "3 books in a row", but by and large my phone book is full and I get phone calls from most people. No, I dont know sonali bendre not yet(for my international readers, here is where I fail. I cant make all my annectodes and examples international friendly You guys have to learn your sonali bendre as much as your pam anderson).

Ok. one thing she asked me was, "why do you write long posts ? is there a problem with your inner mind about not having been heard enough". Alright thats it. I couldnt take it anymore and promised her that I would keep it short. Anyway she went back to US after getting married and I really really hope I dont bump into her for another 13 years. Poor guy (whoever married her) is going to get psychoanalysed and this way forget problems related to performance anxiety, He is going to have problems related to performance !! phew..

Now where was I, ya the girl who laughed incessantly... isnt it a great thing to laugh so easily ?? I just make people laugh. But Neethu literally made me sob. Now I cant do that, not even when I am psychologically stripped and analysed in a cold blodded fashion. But it really hurt to find out how sick and warped human beings are. They are always looking for an opportunity to demoralise you and put you down.

But you know what ? "Mard ko Dard nahi hotha".... "ghar jake hotha hai"..

Why am I writing about all this (apart from making a few people laugh..including me) ? Its the flavour of the month. These days people are out there putting nasty derogatory blog posts and there are people out there defending their honour and integrity with full ferocity (Read "The season of defamation and defence. An exciting episode of how rival law firms are at work to sully white "Van-huesen" shirts with brown mud... only on Practice...tada tan tadatan").

Apart from social causes and philosophical views how really serious can a blog post get anyay. This one really pushes the envelope. The buzz is everywhere and I said to my self, why not. Lets get nasty.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mathrubhoomi - A nation without women.

A girl child is born and the rejoicing father(s) are stunned. A large pot of milk is prepared and the baby girl is just immersed and held till the bubbles die.

Mathrubhoomi - A nation without women. The title comes alive. This is Manish Jha's movie on female infanticide. The irony was evident in the title. Matrhubhoomi (motherland) - A nation without women.

What happens if there are no women in a population of say 5,000 adolescent and unmarried menfolk ?

What happens if there had been no weddings in the village for Fifteen years ?

What happens if the male-female sex ratio falls drastically say 200 women for 1000 men ?

The movie explores these questions in a realistic way.

a young effemenate man play the parts of a dancergirl in a small village skit with all the other vllagers hooting and jeering the dancegirl. They know that it is a man. But they have no choice.

The local cinema theatre doubles as a mass pronographic den were men jack off relieving their frustrations.

One of the protaganists' friend gets engaged leaving the protaganist fuming with jeleousy. The groom gleefully says "Choudha saal ki apsara hai" (An Fourteen year old Angel). The wedding ceremony is on and the father pauses to pay the bride's dad A lakh of rupees and a few cows. As the wedding draws to a close, it is discovered that the bride is a young boy. The boys father escapes with the money.

A powerful family of fuedators are searching high and low for a bride for the eldest son. The pandit (priest) helps them locate a girl (Kalki) . Unable to decide which of the son to be married to. The father marries all his sons to Kalki. The price of Kalki is Rs. 5 Lakhs.

After the wedding, the sons discuss and work out a schedulde for sleeping with their new bride. Exasperatedly, the father father in law crys "What about Me ? " !!!

Then starts the ordeal for Kalki. The father in law starts consumates the wedding on the first night and a sexual ordeal of macabre proportions follows day in and day out. Kalki is bedded every day of the week for months in continuity. In all these dark surroundings there is a small ray of light and hope for Kalki. Suraj the youngest of the sons is a little more considerate and compassionate towards Kalki. Kalki falls in love with him and really laughs with joy when he is around. He is her only hope in this dark life. The brothers and father in a fit of jelousy murder suraj and thus extinguishes the only light in Kalki's life. Kalki tries to run away with the help of the "house help". The "house help" a young bot of 11 is brutally killed by the brothers and Kalki re-taken prisoner. The "house helps" uncle seeks revenge.

Kalki's ordeal continueous now as a bonded sex slave for the brothers. She is housed in the cowshed, with legs and arms bonded. The brothers and the father-in-law continue to rape and ravage her. The avenging uncle of the "house help" enters the cowshed one night and finds kalki tied and bruised. Unable to control he rapes her tied and bonded.

Kalki becomes pregnant and is now accorded the status of the mother. Things change and she is accepted back at the household. It is strange the eagerness of these men to procreate and further their genes. Kalki gets all the attention for one brief moment.

Who is the father ? "Me" cry all the brothers. The avenger who rapes her for his slain nephwe is elated too. He comes to claim his bride and the baby starting off a bloody caste war. Kalki goes into labour when the whole village fights, killing and burning each other.

Kalki delivers and its a girl...

The whole movie is so intense it disturbed me completely. Shorn of all Jhatak Mhataks (bollywood hip gyrations) and lousy candyfloss songs set in switzerland, Mathrubhoomi demands your full undevided attention. It would shock you, stun you and numb you with its in-your-face story telling and gory violence.

Kalki represents India in some of its villages, raped and abused by fuedal lords who fight to take posession of.

Sadly, many parts of northern India (haryana) are as portrayed in this movie. Sex ratios have fallen to as low as 650 women for 1000 men. bride buying from bangladesh is also common. Frustrated males have taken to crime and have unleashed a terror unimagined in independant india.

A similar problem cropped up in southern India (Tamil Nadu) but thanks to Jayalalitha (one of the shrewedest Chief ministers) it was nipped in the bud. Small Self help groups are promoted funded by the state to aleviate poverty and provide opportunites at the lowest end of the society. These self help group have spread education and counsel young mothers and families. Coupled with this tough (in terms of female infanticide) poliece action and swift prosecution has curbed this menace in the mid 90s. More importantly female infanticide is considered a social stigma and this has given the girl child a little larger window of survival.

I would advise people with a faint heart not to watch the movie. But I believe this is one of the best scripted movie to come out of bollywood in a long time.

Kudos to Jah for a brilliant piece of cinema.

According to the Union health and family welfare minstry and UN organisations over 35 million girl children had been killed systematically over the last hundred years.

Female infanticide must stop and the full force of law should be behind it, else we would really become "a nation without women"

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