Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On Being A Mechanical Engineer

If you did Engineering, you have to admit that the most awesome people in your college were from the Mechanical Engineering department. They would have been the main coordinators of most colleges fests and events. They would have scored with the girls in your department. They would have also been the only group of guys who went around telling people how awesome they and mechanical engineers are in general. One such mechanical engineer went on to be a movie director and he went on to talk about the greatness of being a mechanical engineer in his movies. In most of his movies, the lead character would have studied mechanical engineering (if he had any form of education that is). There is this dialog by Madhavan in one of his movies, which translates as, "A Mechancial Engineer should have a fire inside him". Lame as it may sound, some people had it as their phone's message tone in college. It was intended to remind them and everybody around them about the fire, mechanical engineers carry inside. A Mechanical Engineering degree is more like a degree in Narcissism than a degree in Engineering. So it might not come as a shock when I tell you that I did Mechanical Engineering myself. 

However, I was the least narcissistic of the bunch. In fact I don't have that many qualities that you might usually attribute to a mechanical engineer. There are many misconceptions people have about mechanical engineers, one of which being that all mechanical engineers are car crazy. When guys talk about cars, I understand what they are talking about, (I got an A grade in automobile engineering), but what I don't get, is why they are talking about it with such great passion. I never found cars fascinating. As a matter of fact even today I am car blind. I look at a car and I see its color. But I won't know its make or brand, till I look at the logo. When I was learning how to drive, the driving school had two cars - a Santro and an Indica. They had different instructors and I was assigned to the one who taught people how to drive in the Indica. Both cars were red which was very confusing to me. My instructor thought I was mentally disabled because I went and sat in the Santro for the entire first week. He was always worried that I would crash the car. When I got my license in my first attempt, he used me to inspire and boast to his students, "I taught a mentally challenged kid, how to drive." Just before I left India, he called me and asked me to speak to one of his weaker students, so that he can get some inspiration from me. Some day I might own a car, and if I ever get arrested for trying to get into the wrong car, I can at least turn to my driving instructor to produce a convincing plea for my innocence.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Three Things That Suck About England

Diary Entry - 55

The best thing about living in England is the internet connection which lets you download gigabytes in less than half an hour. This would have taken a few months in India but even this is slow for the Dutch guy who lives in my flat. He is used to speeds faster than the time it takes to start his computers. Anyway this post was meant to be a post on what I liked about England and the internet speed sort of concluded everything I liked about this country. That’s quite a lot I know, so I thought I should write a short post on what I do not like about this country.

Size of The Burgers

When I went to McDonalds India with my dad he found the price (90Rs), outrageous for a single burger. Turns out that you can have a full course meal in a place like Saravana Bhavan for the same amount of money. But none the less a burger along with a coke and french fries was enough to leave me burping. Having a burger in McDonalds here in England is guaranteed to leave you more hungry. When I placed an order for a regular McChicken Burger meal they gave me a burger which was the size of a large Vada. I stared at the burger for quite sometime because I thought they were playing a april fools prank on me in March. They sadly weren’t and the £4.99 Pounds I paid for the meal give me a vague feeling that I was being ripped off. These kinds of things make me love India a lot more because that day I went home and liked McDonald India’s facebook page.

The Bathrooms
In most cold countries, you will find a cold valve and hot valve in your tap and you can turn it and set it to the right amounts to get the water at the right temperature. In the UK the two valves are on separate taps. One tap gives you boiling hot steaming water which will burn your fingers. The other tap is so cold, it freezes your hand. So if you want to wash your hands in England you have to burn and freeze your hands alternatively. The English have had this plumbing system for so long that it makes me think my history teacher was a cold liar for telling me that these smart people were once the most powerful nation in the world.  

The Weather
The weather is the other thing in the UK. You never see the sun. If you were a vampire you could walk in the day light without any fear of evaporating or glittering or whatever happens to vampires these days. It is always raining and trust me you will not be writing poems about how beautiful it is. Life becomes so painful when it drizzles. Breathing and walking becomes excruciating. I am not complaining though. The weather in Chennai is just the polar opposite. The sun is so hot there that I think god is trying to make us all into Sheesh Kebabs for his party. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Fist Fights With The Sleep Demons

Diary Entry – 54

Every morning I fight a battle which I often tend to lose. Failing to win this battle will mean a lack of attendance. The victors of this battle however will see no glory. They will only find themselves slain in class by the boring lecturer. Coffee doesn’t give you invincibility against these villains. Expecting such powers will only make you want to file a lawsuit against Nescafe for misleading you.  

This battle is impossible to win, when there is a class at 9 Am. I find myself with the sleeper’s dilemma as I try to decide whether or not to go to class 10 minutes before the actual class.

“To go, or not to go? That is the question.”

I have tried various alarm tones to wake myself up from my slumber. I have used everything from barking dogs to Indian mantras. Nothing worked till one morning afternoon after missing a class, I did a Google Search, “I Can’t Wake Up.” When you have a problem, you should first tell it to Google. That is how I found this app for my phone called “I Cant Wake Up!” When your alarm goes off, the app asks you to perform a math test among other things before you can switch off your alarm or even press the snooze button. The math test requires you to multiply two pairs of two digit numbers together and add them up together. I can now perform speed mental math in my sleep. How I miss Chennai. The 8 Am power cut along with the scorching heat made sure that nobody over slept in the city. That is why you should vote for Jayalalitha.

Unlike India, you can’t get people to give you a proxy attendance in the UK. In the University I am in, there is a lady whose sole purpose in life is to stand in front of the class room, for the first 15 minutes, to get signatures from students for their attendance. If you miss your attendance, she just won’t mark you absent but will send you an email saying, “We don’t have your signature in the attendance sheet. What was the reason?”. Since I don’t like lying about being in class when I was not, I send her a neutral reply saying, “I failed to sign in the attendance because I woke up late.” She will reply saying, “Okay I will mark you as late but present. Please know that punctuality is as important as attendance.” My mother had it right when she said, I could never get into trouble if I am honest.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Feminist Irony

Diary Entry – 52

My friend, who was preparing for the GRE, once came and told me he was left aghast when he saw his sister’s face. She had come home from Bangalore and he intended to tell me that he was surprised to see her. But when he told me he was left aghast when he saw her face, I assumed she got a plastic surgery or met with some kind of major accident which left her face severely disfigured.

Misusing English words is not a problem common to only GRE aspirants. This world is full of people who use the word irony to appear intelligent. It is not really a bad thing, if they didn’t massacre it. I remember the time when this Chinese girl from my class happened to meet me three times in three different places on the same day. The third time she met me she said, “Isn’t this ironic. We are meeting for the third time on the same day.” It almost felt like she was accusing me of stalking her. Some of you reading this will have no clue why using the word “irony” is wrong in this context. Let me explain. Let’s say you had a sweet tasting vanilla ice cream which had a cherry and a few peanut flakes on top of it. You eat it with great joy until you start falling terribly sick, which is when you realize that you are allergic to peanuts. In order to get better, you go to get medicines for your allergy. But on the way you get hit by a giant truck and you die on the spot. This is not irony. Even if this truck was carrying peanuts (the thing that you are allergic to), it is not irony. It would just be a coincidence. If however the truck was carrying medicines for your peanut allergy, then that my friend is some bitter irony. Most people however would call it irony even if you got hit by a garbage truck. Now that you know how the word irony is used, you can haunt all those people who find your death ironic.

The other word which happens to be severely misused is the word “feminist”. A feminist is an activist who strives to establish equal opportunities for women socially. They usually strive for protecting women against discrimination in education and in employment. It still happens in our country and there are some women out there who think feminism is bad. If you are a woman who think feminism is bad, you might as well move to a country like Saudi Arabia right now. Most people just assume that a feminist is a lady who likes to dominate men and who think women should rule over the world. People who think that, often get confused when they see a male feminist. Women who enjoy dominating men are called Dominatrix and if I try to explain what a Dominatrix does, my blog will start getting kinky. The point I am trying to make is that don’t try to offend someone by calling them a feminist. Feminism is a good thing, unless you are threatened by woman empowerment. I know Mayawathi and Jayalalitha might concern a lot of men and women, but I assure you that feminism is not about empowering these kinds of women.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Why I Don't Hook People Up

Diary Entry - 51

Every now and then a guy comes and says, "intro kudu machi." (Introduce me to her dude.)  When I refuse to help them out, they think I am afraid of them stealing my thunder. Little do they realize that I am doing them all a big favor and have their best interests at heart.

You might have seen pictures and memes making jokes about women’s idiosyncrasies. My friend Jessie served as an inspiration for all those pictures. Of course her name is not Jessie. For the sake of anonymity, I picked the name Jessie which happened to be the name of the female lead of Jessie’s favorite Tamil movie Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa. For those of you who have not heard of this movie, it shares a key similarity with Twilight by having an unusual number of delusional teenage girls in its fan base. Fortunately though, unlike twilight they decided to end things with one movie instead of making a whole series.

Some people wrongly think Jessie is my girlfriend. What she really is, is a pain in the a**. She is a part time model and has a reasonable amount of intelligence that fetch her good grades in college. She is someone you would call beauty makeup with brains. Most men including my own male buddies are actively pursuing her on Facebook for reasons unknown to me. Jessie however doesn’t add men she doesn't know. The other day, a friend of mine came to me and said, “Dude I got rejected.” At first I thought his masters’ application got turned down. But he went on to ask me to give him a recommendation. I politely told him he needed to ask his department’s dean for that, as recommendations from me won’t be valid. For that he replied, “That old man doesn't know Jessie.” He was talking about Jessie rejecting his Facebook friend request and he wanted me to give him a recommendation to get accepted. What has the world come to?

I don’t usually hook men up with my female friends but I didn’t want anybody to think Jessie was my girlfriend, so I made no fuss. So that is how Jessie added this guy on Facebook and she did it from my very own laptop. She sent him a hi and he was on fire. He was typing so much and he was doing it so fast that if he wrote a book with that speed, he might have finished it in an hour. Jessie however is very adept in conversing with monosyllables and how long her replies were depended on how many mS she chose to put in her hmmmm.

Jessie didn’t waste her time engaging in idle chat with men. She had more important things to do like stalk people’s profiles. She stalked both men and women without discrimination. She will like every picture in a girls profile but when it came to guys, she had this "I don't give likes to guys photo" policy. Apparently liking pictures where there are men in it will create some sort of controversy in her life. Only when she was about to log out did she notice the chat window of the poor guy I gave recommendation to. She said  “hmmm. K da. wil talk 2 u later” and she logged out. That was the longest reply she had given him. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

From Chef To Cook

Diary Entry – 50

When I was left to fend for myself in the past, I usually went to the nearest restaurant which offered the cheapest food. Hygiene did not concern me because I had a gut of steel. You could say I never starved in India like how I starved in the country I am in now.

In September 2012, I found myself in this country where the food is outrageously expensive. I decided to have a Domino’s pizza which used to cost me a few hundred rupees back home in India. The bill I got here however reminded me of the time I had food in a Taj hotel.

Since a pizza itself had become so expensive, I started eating cereal and sandwiches three times a day. Needless to say, I missed my mother greatly who was now five thousand miles away. She had kept me fed for most of my life. It was during this desperate time, that I strongly considered the option of marriage. When my friends asked me why I wanted to get married, I said, “To Stay Alive.” My married classmate told me I needed a maid with benefits and not wife. Turns out his wife can’t cook and if he didn’t know how to cook, they would have had to starve together.

See, cooking is not easy for me. When I was a kid, there was only one place in the world that I was afraid of and that was the kitchen. There were so many sharp things that can cut you among other things that could create a possible gas explosion. I still think the stove is going to explode when I enter the kitchen.
Since I had to learn to cook somehow, I decided to hang out with the so called cooking experts from India. These expert cooks impressed me by claiming to be able to make Lemon Rice. But I wasn’t truly impressed till I saw them in action. They made lemon rice in just two steps:

1. Make Rice Using The Microwave.
2. Take “Lemon Rice Mix” and mix it with rice. Lemon Rice ready!

They gave Maggi noodles a run for its money. So much for learning from the experts. I however gained considerable courage in using the stove and I was able to make fried eggs. If you go to a restaurant there is big distinction between a chef and a cook. Someone who can cook is a cook. Someone who can create a new menu however, is called a chef. It is like the difference between a worker who lays bricks and an architect. Usually people go from being a cook to being a chef. I however did things the other way round. It might have been because of my aspiration to be the best that I thought following recipes were just a waste of time. I started making dishes that I don’t wish to name here. When my own personal safety became a cause for concern, I started using recipes.

I have seen considerable success as a cook. Every time I cook now, tears roll down my face and I ask myself “Did I just make this?” I spend more time taking pictures of what I made these days. I know a few women who used to gloat because they made fried rice or biryani. It was back in the old days when those kind of things used to impress me because I couldn’t do it myself. Now, I send them pictures of the stuff I make and I get a weird form of evil pleasure from it. I am no longer in a hurry to get married. If I did give out personal marriage ads, it would have changed from " seeking a girl adept in cooking" to " seeking a girl who doesn't mind cutting the vegetables and doing the dishes."

P.S - Someone insisted that I add that I still cannot make Dosas with the perfect shape. So that goes here in the P.S.

Everything in the pictures in this post was made and consumed by The Narcissist




Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Practical Guide To Being Polite

Diary Entry - 49

Back home in India my relatives laud my mother on raising a polite and well-mannered boy. The British however think otherwise.

It all started when I went to class here in the UK a little late and found myself without a pen. I was fortunate enough to find myself sitting next to a good female friend who I had acquainted myself with over the weeks. In India, if I forgot my pen and if the lecture was going on, I would take the pen out of my friend's pocket with only a few hand and eye movements being exchanged. I thought since I was in England and since the person sitting next to me was a girl, I should do things the old fashioned way and so I actually told the girl sitting next to me “Hey Christy, give me your pen” before I took it.

Never did I think I would offend someone so much by taking a pen. You think you know how to talk in English until you realize every word that comes out your mouth has the potential to offend someone. Later I learn that if I had to borrow a pen from Christy the proper way, I should begin by first exclaiming “Oh god I forgot my pen at home. What do I do now!” Most people don’t react to your problems and Christy might have been no exception. So then you look at her pen and say, “Oh that pen that you have there, looks really nice. Where did you get it?”. She will get the message and just so that she doesn't seem inconsiderate she will say, “Oh hey you can use my pen.” Now you don’t take the pen straight after she offered it to you, because that will make you seem like you are someone who exploits other people’s kindness. So what do you do? You say, “Oh thank you. But wouldn’t you mind if I used your pen to write down my notes?” for which she will say “Oh not at all.” Then as you take her pen from her hand, you repeat several times the words, “Are you sure?” before you actually take the pen and start writing with it. That’s not the end of it. While writing with her pen, you say, “Oh this pen writes so well. I have never seen a pen like this before in my life.” The idea is to compliment the pen that she gave you and you are supposed to do this even if it doesn't write properly. Then after you finished writing with her pen, you return it while remembering to say “Thank you so much”. It is important that you follow these instructions to the letter, otherwise you risk offending her. For example, if you forgot to say thank you Christy would have felt used. I had trouble saying thank you after borrowing a pen from someone I knew well because saying thank you after borrowing a pen is all it takes to freak out your friends in India.

It was very hard for me to talk in a way the British found polite but I have it all figured out now. All I do now is look at every normal conversation that I have, as a conversation with my high school vice principal Sita miss (Yeah we called teachers miss in our school, instead of madame because we didn't want them to feel old). Students of my school feared Sita miss because she was an angry woman who could talk on stage without the aid of a microphone. The entire auditorium would be able to hear her loud and clear. We always thought she could make a career in Italy as an opera singer, if she wasn’t so short tempered. So before every conversation I have in this country I think of Sita miss. Say there is this guy next to me having a pack of chips (or crisps as they call it Britian) and it is making my mouth water. Since I don’t want to be rude I think in my head, “How will I ask Sita miss to share her packet of chips with me?” It will not be long before I realize that getting my own bag of chips is the best course of action in the UK.

The skill of being polite is however a worthy skill to have and if you attain sufficient mastery of this skill, you can insult or be rude to someone in a very polite way. I will teach you a few things I have learnt on how to tell people the truth without offending them:

1.  Say something very rude and say it is cute - Hey you are wearing too much make up. It makes you look cute. 

2.  Insult someone and say you don’t know any better - I think what you are wearing is horrible. My sense of fashion must suck.

This is especially useful, with members of the family or friends, where you want to say what you think but don’t want to offend them. Like say you have a sister-in-law and she comes to your marriage wearing a gaudy dress and with an awful lot of makeup. The only way to tell her the truth and have a happily married life is by being polite. 

I know it is Monday. Just so that you know, I am still sticking to my new year resolution of posting every Sunday. My excuse for posting on Monday instead of Sunday is that the two days have only the first two letters different. 


Monday, January 14, 2013

Why I Don't Read Or Watch The News

Diary Entry – 48

I don’t read the newspaper. I don’t watch the news on the television or on the internet. If you ask me who the president of India is, I will say Abdul Kalam. Believe it or not, I just googled “President of India” and found out it was Pranab Mukherjee.  What a shock that was. I thought Pranab Mukherjee was still the finance minister.

These kind of shocks are every day for me now. Last Christmas when I was in India, I was flicking through the channels and every other news channel was talking about Sachin Tendulkar and his cricketing career. There were also these old players who used to play in the Indian cricket team talking about how they knew Sachin as a boy. I had no idea why they were talking about Sachin out of the blue because the Indian cricket team was losing ever single match they played. This made me think Sachin Tendulkar died.  I was later told that he was retiring from international cricket. In spite of all this I still struggle to understand why anybody will waste their time reading the newspaper if he/she didn’t want to ace the comprehension section in the GRE. I rather watch the discovery channel instead of the news on the television. 

I live in the UK now and when I came to India for Christmas my Indian friend had to tell me this:

Macha is used like bro or dude in a South Indian language called Tamil (I have readers from the UK you see). Macha actually means brother-in-law. Here macha is my buddy whose name I cannot reveal for my own personal safety)

Macha:  The British rule of India was the greatest tragedy in the history of our country.

See my macha knew how I would respond. He also knew I don’t read the newspaper leave alone the editorial columns and he purposely brought this up so he could show off.

Me: Apidi solladha macha (Don’t say like that dude). The British did give us a few good things like the railway system and roads.

Macha: Do you know why they built the railway system and roads? The British used the railways to move grains to the ports during a time when there was great famine. It caused the death of millions of Indians.

Me: Oh. I did not know that da.

Macha: That is why you should read the newspaper. Otherwise you will have a flawed world view like this.

Me: Dei idhukum adhukum enna sambandham? (What is the connection between reading the newspaper and my worldview.)

Macha: Pinne enna da, you are in a way saying that if the British had not colonized India, we would not have developed.

I usually nod my head and don’t bother telling people my world view. But when my world view itself was mocked, I just had to tell him.

Me: I am not saying that. I know that the British did a lot of bad things, but the way every Indian should see the British is the way you see Nisha. (Nisha is macha’s ex girl friend.)

Macha: Nisha va edhuku da summa illukere? (Why are you dragging Nisha into this?)

Me: Macha, when you were in a relationship with her, you hated her, you felt exploited and you even wasted your money buying her food in the name of going out on a date.

Macha: Dei kadupu ethadha! (Don’t irritate me!)

Me: Matter kaelu da. (Listen da.) When you finally did break up and move on with your life, you didn’t want to call your past relationship a tragedy. You instead wanted to look at the time you spent in the relationship with her and say - "some good things came out of something bad."

Macha: How the hell is Nisha like the British?

Me: Indha British pasangalam Nisha madhri dhan. (India’s story with the British is also like your relationship with Nisha). Your ex girl friend gave you maturity, the British gave Indians the railways. I am not saying it is the best thing that ever happened, all I am saying is we are looking into some of the good thing that came out of something bad.
Macha: Onne kitta poi sonnane parru, enna serupala adikanam. (For telling you this, I should remove whatever I am wearing on my feet and hit myself with it.)

Me: Onna yarru scene poda sonnadhu. (Who asked you to show off.)

In India, there are people who think reading the newspaper every day somehow increases their IQ. Macha was one of them. What these people fail to understand is that just because someone doesn’t know about something, doesn’t mean that they are not intelligent enough to talk about it.

I am sticking with my new year resolution by posting every Sunday. However, I post in GMT so that it might be Monday In India, when I post here in the UK.    

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