Thursday, February 26, 2009

The namesakes

For long I took secret pleasure in the fact that my name was uniquely long and rare. Anyone who'd possess the capability to memorize it would definitely remember it for the rest of their lives. In a world tired of Amits, Abhisheks and Rajeshes, a Anuranjan stood alone and unique. The only other Anuranjan I had ever seen was a Anuranjan KT, a member of the JCT Mills hockey team back in 1994-1995. Not exactly my ultimate ideal but at least he was on TV. So there were two Anuranjans, one on TV and one growing up to be on TV. Or at least so I thought.

The first tremor came when I got an invitation to join the "My name Anuranjan"(sic) community in Orkut. I promptly turned it down. I mean what's the point of joining a community with 2-3 people anyway? I go on it to find there are 11 guys by the name that I hold so dear on Orkut alone. Most of them seem to be from Bihar too, barring the Rajasthani who started the community. Never mind then the millions of non-tech savvy Anuranjans around the country. 

The uniqueness of my identity bruised, I turn to Google "ego search" to establish that at least I am the most important Anuranjan around. I type in just my first name, and I have to scroll through 12 pages to get to the first page that even mentions me. And shame of shames, it's not my blog, or my writing contest win that is featured even so deep down the unimportant links list. It's a YouTube video of me making somewhat of an ass of myself playing golf (A momentary lapse of reason from my trip to California). Boo hoo!

Shattered in spirit, I look at all the other Anuranjans who have stolen my limelight. There's a Dr. Anuranjan Bisht, who's a MD in Psychiatry in Nevada somewhere. He must be handling casino crazed clients from Vegas then. There's a Anuranjan Jha, who is/was a Ph.D student and now works in Silicon Laboratories in Austin, Texas. He's the lucky ***tard who got the '' ID. My venomous stares at him then. Then there's a female Anu Ranjan, some kind of socialite in Bombay who's all over the place having celebs 'party' at 'her place' and attending 'Anti Pakistan artist' meets. Yes, I don't know what that extraordinary class of artists means either!

But there's one Anuranjan who seems to be more like my long lost brother from the Mahakumbh. His name is Anuranjan Pegu, and he says that he is a graphic designer. His synopsis of himself is what confirms my blood relations to him. It goes "Anuranjan Pegu - The king of vague". Now that's an interesting one, that is!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ball economics

Opposite my house in Calcutta is a apartment building and the central passage leading to the stairs in these apartments is bang opposite my garage door. It so happens that the dimensions of this restricted passage are just ideal for playing plastic ball cricket and such a golden arena never lies unused. Kids play their hearts with fluorescent yellow plastic balls, whose garish colour is probably justified by their better visibility in the permanent shade of the passage. A full blooded shot straight down the ground leads to the balls slipping beneath the wire gate at the approach of my garage before clattering right into our garage sneaking below the solid iron gates guarding my brand new Pulsar and my uncle's car. 

This being Central Calcutta, the haunt of mythically super-capable thieves, one lock is never considered enough. There are at least 3 different barriers to unshackle or to key open, so the kids knew with a patient acceptance that the balls that went into our garage stayed there. The balls would be normally be gathered by my cousin and piled up inside a bucket within our garage unwanted and unappreciated. Then on a bright sunny winter morning I decided to play the benevolent Godfather.

I observed from my third floor room on the roof that the set of kids who were the most regular set of players were in action. I went to the garage, opened the garage gate with a grand flourish and walked out with a bucket full of fluorescent yellow balls. The kids abandoned whatever petty argument they were engaged in and congregrated around me, an awestruck glint in their eyes. I turned the bucket upside down and their playing field was a sea of plastic balls. Within seconds, I saw the biggest boys in the group had gathered nearly all the balls, some holding more than 4 while the little ones or the weaker ones gave a long, pained look with their hands empty. I told myself "There you see, that's why capitalism never works! There's always someone overfed and someone underfed." 

In a month's time, my garage bucket was full of plastic balls again. This time I decided on better control. I walked out with a stern expression on my face and told the kids "Listen guys! I don't want to see you fight over these balls again. Take them but ensure that they are split equally." And to my shock, the smallest in the group piped up something to the effect of "These are such old, poor quality balls. We'd rather buy some good new ones!" So came my next lesson in rudimentary economics, "Communism doesn't work either!"

Ho hum, what a conundrum!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My apologies, Las Vegas

I haven't even left for Vegas and here I am eating up my own words from my first post about Vegas. A single website has already told me that Vegas is much bigger than just gambling and strip clubs. I just jotted down 3 awesome car museums cum showrooms to go to. There are super insane roller-coasters or wild rides to get on, so that's another thing that floats my boat. Not to mention the spectacular exhibits/shows over which I am having a tough time making a choice. Plus in the hectic 2 day schedule, I am cramming in a trip to the majestic Grand Canyon too. Boy oh boy, what a weekend is to follow! And my apologies in advance for any misconceptions that I had about the city. It's best to own up right now that I was wrong in my assumptions, yet again!

Procrastination works

31st December 2008: It was afternoon when I left office and a severe snow-storm was lashing Massachusetts. My bus to Boston laboured its way through the storm on RT-24 in the wake of a snow truck and I reached Boston at about 3:30 in the afternoon, an hour and a half longer than I would on a normal day. My non-refundable, non-transferable bus ticket was for a bus at 3:00, so it was as good for nothing. The South Station bus terminal looked like a Indian railway platform for a change as huge queues snaked from the various bus service counters. Hundreds of dreams of spending New Year's at New York hung in balance and the tension was showing. Folks were irritable and the persons at the bus ticket counters maintained a deadpan expression when asked about the next bus out.

I found that the longest line was at the Fung-Wah bus service counter, because it was the cheapest way to get to NYC by far. As for being a cheapskate, I found that I had lots of company. The line stood perfectly still with no indication of any kind of movement. The two Chinese woman at the window were steadfast in their denial of any knowledge whatsoever about the next bus out. They laughed and joked with the persons at the front of the line, but it seemed to be a rather poor attempt at comedy. Their customers apparently weren't getting the drift of the jokes. All around me, I could see and hear calls go out to girlfriends, boyfriends, cousins etc about how irritating this infinite wait was. Angry voices and sharp comments about the nature of the Chinese bus service began  to permeate the air. The two women at the counter were hardly getting any time to laugh as the unrest in front of their window grew. Me, I stood as calm as a Buddha amidst all the hubbub. Neither did I call anybody nor did I even give a thought to questioning someone of relevance. I was too lazy to even participate in the bitching that was gathering momentum around me.

As the minutes turned into hours, the line in front of me dissipated as people grew tired of waiting. Condemned to spend New Year's at Boston they left ruing their gloomy fate and colourfully cursing the snowstorm. When there were about 50 people in front of me a couple of hours ago, now there were only two. Irritated as I was, I wasn't enthused enough to even think of an alternate plan. 

All of a sudden, there was activity in the chambers of power. A few hurried exchanges of words in Chinese later, the guy in front of us actually got something which looked like a boarding pass. My turn at the window came and as I reached for my wallet to shell out for a new ticket. But it seemed that my non-refundable, non-transferable bus ticket for the 3:00 clock bus was now going to get me onto a 6:00 bus out to New York. Shame on you, people who said that the Chinese were stingy souls. I got to be in NYC before midnight.

So was re-inforced my belief that doing nothing is exactly the thing to do. Don't crib, don't question, don't make an attempt of changing what's around: Just stand there like a rock until moss threatens to grow on you. Watch the world fall apart all around you, and in a little while you'll have your way!

A sliver of India

After a monstrously long post, let's try a really short one. I was on the bus from Boston to Taunton calling up my friends to kill time and yapping away in Hindi. Buses are not the most popular means of transport here anyway and as usual the number of my co-passengers numbered in single digits. I wonder how the bus operators make a profit out of running a 56 passenger capacity bus but never getting more than 7-8 odd passengers. Nonetheless not my concern as long as they have the cash to waste.

Sitting right behind me was a typical white Latino dressed in what else but huge baggy pants, oversize jacket, pierced ears, soul patch beard, inverted cap et al. He along with his black pal were right out of a hip-hop video and talked between themselves in the manner you'd expect such a pair too. When I got off at Taunton with the rest of the passengers, this guy casually wished me "Jai Sri Krishna!"

I nearly jumped out of my skin at such an unexpected turn of events. Not only because "Jai Sri Krishna" is an Indian greeting but that it is also a very very typical Gujarati greeting. I had heard it out of our local panwallah's mouth in my childhood and responded in kind. To hear it in the southern part of Massachusetts and that too from a Latino was really off the hook. It turned out that the guy's girlfriend was an Indian and I am guessing a Gujju too! Next time, if I hear the bus driver play Garba music, I shouldn't be too surprised.