Month: September 2007

Reality, Bites

Yesterday was my first day in the office (since I had cleared my CPT/Chartered Accountancy entrance test, with distinction may I add, I was eligible to start my internship).
Coming into the whole “professional” scene right after school was quite a big change for me.

This is what I have learned after 2 days in the office.

a]Reality
Incident 1)
When I went in to the Senior Partner’s room, for my one-on-one interview, the peon guy bought some tea and placed it in front of him. Apparently he was not in the mood for tea so he asked the peon to give me the tea.
Now I was super doubtful on whether to have it or not.
My doubt must have shown on my face because the Senior Partner looked at me, smiled and said “Have it, you wont get this chance again when you’re working here”

Incident 2)
Going to office in a kurta & a pair of jeans only to learn that the workplace has a rather strict dress code of “Salwar-Kameez only”.

b] Beverage Break
Every morning around 11 and every evening around 4 all the articles get coffee/tea shots.
Not the fancy espresso shots (now, thats romba over) but piping hot, milky, super sweet coffee/tea in tiny tiny plastic cups.
Its a special formula devised by the firm to keep us interns going. And its quite successful at what it aims at, provided you chug it. And not taste it.

c] ITRs
I filed some income tax returns, all by myself (*pride*) and finally realized why CAs everywhere are cursing P.Chidambaram.
Its a long, painful process and hence dumped on the interns.
But I didn’t mind doing it, after all, how else will you learn that if a firm spends money on promoting family planning among its employees, that expense is exempted from taxation?

Just 2 days and already so much wiser. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
Watch this space.

The Indian Suitcase

*This is a short story I wrote for some competition in school when I was in my 11th standard. I found the file when I was checking through some very old emails and I thought I’d spread the joy.
Do tell me if you liked it/didn’t like it/think it could be better though. And by the way, I did not win.*

*All characters in this story have originated from my head and resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely co-incidental.*

“Haven’t you heard?” My brother came running to me, breathless.
“Billoo anna” he wheezed, “is going to America! He’s got a job there!”
This was a reason for excitement. No one had EVER gone abroad in
the entire colony, even for a holiday. Even people who went to cities
in nearby states were sent off with much ado.
Coming to Billoo. Many people don’t even know his real name – Kumar.
It’s an Indian tradition to confer a nickname, which is nowhere near
the real name. My friend Shreyas got stuck with an embarrassing ‘Jikki’ and his sister Sapna (not far behind) is joyously called ‘Duggu’. Whether it is an unfortunate sense of humour or a warped way of parents showering their love and affection, nobody knows.
My brother tugged my skirt and pulled me back to reality. “So you going?” he enquired.
“Where?”

“To help Billoo pack for the trip! He’s leaving tonight!”
“Is amma there?”
“Obviously” he said, rolling his eyes. “So you’re going?” he enquired again.
“I don’t really know…” I began. It was not everyday you got to watch
TV in my house without interruptions every two seconds. It was quite an event by itself.
“If you’re not, amma told me to tell you that the keys are with Sushi aunty!” he announced, with his eyes shining, quite a contrast to my own blank face.
“Yeah, Ok”
My brother flashed yet another of his famous toothless smiles and ran across the colony ‘playground’: A piece of land which was constantly in a legal tussle between two brothers who refused to own up as the proprietor because of the colossal amount wealth tax associated with that property.
As usual, the Indian system of “If its not private, then its mine” had taken over and the area had been converted into a thriving business area (‘china market’) where you can get everything, from the DVD of the latest ‘Tam Cruize’ film to ‘Sonya’ CD players to ‘Raybon’
sunglasses.
The area not occupied by these superior entrepreneurs was transformed into a playground.

WHO WAS I KIDDING? I wouldn’t miss Billoo’s send off for the world! It was the one ‘event’ where he would have to face every kind of uncomfortable question possible, not to mention his mother’s unbelievable samosas and jalebis which would do the rounds. Packing ‘ceremonies’ (that’s what I’ve decided to call them) are dreadfully hilarious and if you can survive them, you can survive anything.
I ran to Billoo’s apartment, only to tumble upon the entire colony squashed into the 1500 odd square feet, which was his apartment. Aunties swapping recipes, Uncles giving advice to Billoo, and of course, the ‘things you can’t get in America’ (Mango pickles and Garam Masala and what not) getting packed in four-inch thick bubble wrap (“So that those vicious customs officials don’t try to steal it.”) and Billoo’s grandmother doing puja for his passport.
After about fifteen minutes of small talk, the real fun began.

First, it was pickle politics. Both Billoo’s mum’s sister and his dad’s sister had sent in their ‘love’ by giving the same kind of lemon pickle to take to America – the kind which burns your tongue and ruins your appetite because of its grisly taste.
“Billoo!” his mother bellowed. Billoo turned, unfortunately interrupting his uncle’s discourse on avoiding stomach disorders. “You have two jars of lemon pickle. Which one do you want? The one which dear Sunni aunty sent or that Sashi’s?” The word ‘Sashi’ was enunciated with a look of pure revulsion. Billoo’s father put the newspaper down on the table with a thud that generated more noise than it normally would. The hall turned deathly silent. Billoo was in a REAL pickle now. He had to choose between two warring tribes (read families) who would do anything to deny the other family their pride.
“Umm…” began Billoo. Nearly fifty pairs of eyes looked at him eagerly. “I’m sure both the pickles equally delicious,” he said, carefully choosing his words.
“And? Whose are you taking?” asked his mother impatiently.
“I think five jars of pickle are enough, thanks.” He concluded breathlessly.
The entire room exhaled and the clockwork of the room buzzed back into life. Almost at the same time the entire room broke out into effervescent chatter.
By the time the five jars of pickle (Mango, lemon, coriander, chilly, garlic and onion ‘pickled to perfection’) were bubble wrapped (‘customs officer free’), by the time all the masalas were
‘zip-locked’ and by the time I polished 3 plates of jalebis and samosas, Billoo was ready.
Ready to pack in his clothes, that is.
“Ma! There are only five hours left for me to get to the airport!” howled Billoo.
“Billoo my son, don’t worry,” comforted one uncle with a mustache, which bore a striking resemblance to a certain Indian brigand.
“When I was posted to Kashmir…”began he, resulting in a tumultuous groan from the rest of us. This uncle had only one story, but managed to add more and more characters and stunts to it each time he delivered it.
What he had done was nothing out of the ordinary. He left his suitcase in the taxi and had twenty minutes for his train. All he had to do was run back and get it. Somehow, in the passing months, mysteriously, the story had details about him battling fifteen policemen who thought he
was smuggling cocaine single-handedly and a damsel in distress whom he saved from her jealous lover AND a baby whom he saved from the railway track by doing a triple somersault. All of them, absolutely out of the blue.
You can see now, why we groaned.
“This is an emergency! People! EMERGENCY” hollered Billoo again.
“Don’sh shoush dear, plenshy of shime lefsh,” said Billoo’s Grandmother, mouth full of Jalebi.
“Leave ish shoo us. We’ll have you in the airporsh in no shime. Everyone! Pleash fick an ishem of closhing of Billoo’s and help with the packing! Pleash!”
Would you believe it, we actually managed to pack, no, stuff his clothes inside the gaps left by the pickle jars and masala packets.
HONK! Was the sound we heard after the final zip had been zipped.
Everyone was breathless, even me.
I mean, WATCHING all this packing was so exhausting.
I walked to the door only after I received looks from these aunties who had been packing when I was munching chips on the sofa. I’m not really good in reading faces, but I figured out that this one spelled something close to infuriation.
The taxi had come to pick Billoo up and take him to the airport.
The taxi was a rickety old Ambassador. The Ambassador was the perfect example of Indian industrialism: Big, fuel guzzling, out-of-date, slow and yet powerful.
It was like a scene right from a magic show. Fifteen aunties fitted inside the car with no difficulty, one after another, along with Billoo’s parents and suitcases. I managed to grab a space between Billoo and the driver and a bulky set of gears.
The entire trip to the airport was silent, which totally surprised me.
Only on climbing out, did I realize that the aunties didn’t chat because of the deficiency of air in the backseat. Many of the aunties were, in fact, blue.
Well, this was it. Billoo seemed to have realized it too. “Well, this is it.” he shrugged with an aura of macho-ism, and suddenly, out of the blue, he started bawling. “I’ll miss you so much appa!” he
hollered. “I don’t what I’m going to do without you, amma!”
Billoo’s parents and the aunties accompanying them also burst into tears.
I didn’t know whether I had to giggle or join them in their sob-a-thon.
I just tried really, really hard to keep a straight face (which was not simple considering the amount of attention we were getting).
I awkwardly broke the sobs. “Its time for Billoo’s flight, aunty. I think he has to go now.”
“Oh yes” she sniffed.
“Billoo, you be a good boy ok? In the blue suitcase I have packed a mug in case you don’t know how to use that…what’s that called again?” she asked
“Toilet paper, aunty” I offered.
“Yes, whatever that is and call as soon as you reach there ok?”
Billoo nodded his head vigorously, unaware of the people who were listening and having furious fits of giggling.
After all the sappy bits were over, Billoo pushed his trolley towards the terminal.
Beyond, the “Visitors Not Allowed” sign.
He turned. He gave a big wave. All the aunties opened their tear faucets again and flapped their arms in reply with such strength that it was amazing that they didn’t just pop off the ground and fly.
We returned home in the taxi, and this time, everyone was able to breathe normally.
Billoo may have gone to the USA, but he was the talk of the colony ever since he left.
Billoo had become the “standard” by which everyone compared kids with, sometimes, even their own.
He had become the epitome of perfection and the very mention of his name brought tears
to all the aunties’ eyes as they wove dramatic stories of how they were the first ones to recognize greatness in him.
This was how it was, or at least until he came home with that annoying accent and his white wife.
But that, is another story.

Adjust, Please.

Updated 2015: 
It’s been 8 years since this was written so I thought I’d give it an update. I am a Chartered Accountant, have been one for 3 and a half years now, and presently a contributor with The Hindu. Apart from that, I’m still spoiled, impulsive, and occasionally toss coins to make life choices. Reading this blog won’t change your life, but writing in it has changed mine.  

—–

Coconut Chutney, whose real name you can figure out quite easily was born on the 8th Day of March in the year 1989.
She toes the fine line between extreme intelligence and extreme insanity. She is now pursuing a career Chartered Accountancy and her motto in life is “Screw it, Lets do it!”.
Extremely impulsive, she strongly believes that thinking about anything or its consequences is a waste of time, which is why she uses powerful, foolproof decision making tools like the 8 Ball and 1 Re Coins.
She was born with a very very fat silver spoon stuck down her throat and has been spoiled from a very young age, which is evident from the fact that her first public-bus ride was when she was 18.
Her sense of humour is mildly warped and ably complimented by her mostly demented mindset.
Reading her blog won’t change your life, but it might make you laugh.
So read it.

Tag

I’m it.
Yay for mayth, who has given me this opportunity to exhibit my inner whack.

1. Pick out a scar you have, and explain how you got it.
Interesting question. I have a rather nasty scar on my right toe, its pretty medium sized for a scar and makes a lot of people’s faces twist into a variety of amusing shapes whenever they see it.
*Flashback*
The day was like any other Saturday and I was like any other 8 year old, happy for no apparent reason. The local ranga-ratnam (mini ferris wheel) guy was patrolling my street and me being the ever-enthusiastic thrill seeker just had to ride it. The ranga ratnam guy was in a particularly good mood as well that day, he let me have 4 rides for 5 bucks (I was a very loyal patron, hence the perks).
After those 4 rides, I was pretty dizzy. But I was one who was always in pursuit of adventure. So when my driver, Sada “I-should-be-driving-F1-cars-but-I’m-driving-Maruti-Esteems-but-let-me-
drive-at-300kmph-anyways” Sivam offered to take me on a joyride in the neighborhood rickshaw [the rickshaw man, Kichchaami (actual name was Krishnaswamy, but it was too big for me to pronounce when I was 3, so kichaami it became) had gone to lunch), I jumped at the offer.
I sat on the side chair of the rickshaw and pretty soon Sada was really speeding up. I was already dizzy from the ranga-ratnam marathon, so I wanted to shift to the main seat in the rickshaw. I got up, but lost my balance, fell out of the rickshaw while it was still in motion but managed to grab on to the railings but my toe got stuck under the wheel and got run over for a full 5 seconds. And yes, I was screaming my lungs out at the same time. The wheel had pretty much scraped off all the flesh in my toe and missed the bone by a whisker. Which was a good thing apparently. I was rushed to the hospital, Suriya Hospital to be precise, where they cleaned the wound (capital torture) and everybody was crying and I vividly remember asking my mother if I would die.
The doctors did a plastic surgery on my toe, where they patched it up with some flesh from my thigh.
I couldn’t walk for two months, but I got royal treatment at home. I do believe thats when my spoilt-bratness began.
But that, is a story I will save for some other time.

2.What does your phone look like?
My phone is pink. Very pink. Very, very pink. So pink, its the envy of every girl who sets her eyes on it. Very few admit it though. But I love my Moto-Razr. Although its dying a very slow, tortured death right now and will be replaced very soon, I love my gorgeous, pink phone. It’s been with me through the thick and thin of everything and I doubt my coming-soon phone will ever see the excitement my razr did.

3.What is on the walls of your bedroom?
Glow-in-the-dark stars, hearts, a lone moon, few posters – Anime, Winnie-the-Pooh, Kim Possible and My Little Pony (I share my room with my ten year old sister, hope that clears things a bit), one small picture of Lord Hayagriva who is supposed to help me in my academics and oh yes, a picture of me when I were a wee child of four.
There are a couple of bookshelves fixed on my walls as well, they’re a perennial mess.

4. What is your current desktop picture?
A black and white background, something I Photoshop-ed. It’s a peacock, its very Indian, very eclectic and very much proof that I have sort-of mastered the pen tool.

5. Do you believe in gay marriage?
Well, I used to not believe in same sex marriages, used to think that they were against nature and used to be convinced that they were downright unnatural. Used to. Until some hotshot philosophy-taking undergrad changed my mind. Now I’m ok with it, what the hell, you only live once.

6. What do you want more than anything right now?
A baby penguin would be nice.
Oh yes, and throw in a helicopter, that I’d like too.

7 . What time were you born?
Hm, I’m not too sure, but I think it’s late evening. But the world must have recognized the birth of a great soul, it soon came to be known as International Women’s Day. No shit.

8. Are your parents still together?
Who the hell comes up with these questions?
And yes, they are together.

9. Last person who made you cry?
You know who you are. Yes, you do. Don’t think I’ll let you off the hook that easy.
Oh and I cry whenever my dad screams at me. He hardly screams at me, but when he does he makes me cry big time. Plus he’ll get full guilt over making me cry and buys me something cool. I got a new computer last time, so its cool.

10. What is your favorite perfume / cologne?
Tommy girl by Tommy Hilfiger and Burberry Brit.

11. What kind of hair/eye color do you like in the opposite sex?
Natural colours. NATURAL. Please, none of those highlights or green hair dye. And I like short, poke out-y hair. I really like Stuart Broads hairstyle right now, its downright awesome. Forget the hair, he’s downright awesome.
Eyes, well, its either a deep mahogany brown or hazel green.

12. What are you listening to?
“If I lay here If I just lay here Would you lie with me and just forget the world? “

Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. Download it, please. You’ll thank me later.

Oh and the song I was listening to before this track came on was “Idhu enna Maayam” from the movie Oram Po, music by GV Prakash. I think its sweetest song to have come my way in the longest time. Highly recommended.

13. Do you get scared of the dark?
At times, yes, when its raining really hard and theres thunder and lightning. Thunder creeps the hell out of me.

14. Do you like pain killers?
I’m not against them, Combiflam has been very useful in curing all my tooth-related owwies. but I don’t like them, I mean its not something you have on a regular basis. If you do have them on a frequent basis, see your doctor now, there is something very, very wrong with you.

15. Are you too shy to ask someone out?
Vena. Valikudhu. Azhudhuduven.

16. If you could eat anything right now, what would it be?
I’m having this sudden craving for Poondu Rasam. Not with rice, just the rasam, clear (without the tomato bits) and in a big tumbler. Ah, bliss.

17. Who was the last person you made you mad?
The moron who leaked the CPT paper and foiled all my after-CPT plans, plus gave me added pain of studying extra 2 weeks.

18. Who was the last person who made you smile?
My dad, sister and mother crack me up all the time. My dad’s lame jokes are something that should be experienced first hand, as do my sisters ramblings and my mother’s commentaries on the deteriorating cultural values in society. Priceless.

There we are. This took me a lot of time to type out and I hope you had read the whole thing and not just scrolled till here.
If you scrolled, well, I don’t blame you, at least you tried. If you read the entire thing, yay!

I hereby tag Niyantha , Ravi and Lemonade. Ensoy.

And before I forget, happy happy birthday to my dearesht umaachi, Krishna. I love you, lots. Thanks for everything and have an awesome day.

—-> Be Happy. Ghee Happy.