Let me start this off by saying that I, Arunjeet Singh, of sound body and mind admit that I am slowly falling for the city of Hyderabad (among other things). Having said that, the Hyderabadis do continue to annoy me with their one true undying ambition. That ambition, and inane facts like this sometimes bear repeating, is to be roadkill. You heard me right. This city, with it's brilliant weather (a very mild 19C as I write this), it's great food (you simply must try the biryani) and it's wealth of opportunities (what else do you think dragged a Delhi boy to this city?) is chock full of pedestrian fidayeen most of whom don't even have the decency to look ferocious when they attack you.
No, quite the opposite. They smile at you and wave their hand. Hoping that, by waving the said appendage at you they will suddenly manage to convince you to go down from 70 to 0 in a span of exactly 0.36 seconds. Of course, physics, cruel fact-based mistress that she is, rarely obliges. So people who drive down the streets of Hyderabad constantly weave through traffic trying to avoid the pedestrian fidayeen which leads to other drivers driving crazy. The situation, and I don't think I can put this any more eloquently, resembles a bumper car arena full of infants. See the one way sign in that picture? No? That's alright, most Hyderabadis don't either.
I spent about 4 hours on the saddle of a motorcycle today (never let it be said that FortyOne shirked the steel stallion!) and travelled about 40kms in the city. By the end of that, I wasn't signalling turns any longer and was cursing at myself like a madman as I drove. Now blaming Hyderabad exclusively for my ills isn't entirely unfair. My bike riding capability has been referred to as "wonky" and "scary" by different people at different times. However, having to avoid the aforementioned hand waving street crossers hasn't done it much good. Sometimes, I wonder whether its some sort of state instituted population control measure. You know, maybe some government babu came up with the idea "Lets just tell them that the pavements are for the traffic and the road belongs to them. That'll fix our food distribution crisis!". Or maybe its just that right is left and left is right and all is not right with the local lingo. Who knows, but I do wish Hyderabad would find a way to fix the problem.
My suggestion is that we overfeed the traffic police until they demonstrate a prominent paunch. The paunch is the secret squishy weapon that has, for ages, been employed by Delhi's traffic police to stop oncoming vehicles violating traffic rules (for reference on how it works, see Jell-O).
Note the distinctly pear-shaped umm...shape. Expertly designed to slow down large metallic objects such as runty 100cc motorbikes. Another suggestion involves an exchange program for cab drivers run in connivance (oops! in collaboration) with the government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. I think a bit of road rage is exactly what this city needs. I keep telling s3rioussam that but he, god bless his poor heart, searches for peaceful means.
Right, so it's 1.23am and tomorrow is most definitely a Monday (either that or my computer's finally caught my virus). Go to sleep and get ready for another day of wage slavery. Hurray!
Funny isn't it how real life never quite measures up to what you had expected from it. The first time I travelled outside of the country I had expected it (western europe to be precise) to be a different world. Well that didn't quite pan out. It was different in the sense that it was cleaner and better ordered. Maybe not as crowded. But that was about it. The skies didn't part and the earth did not, in fact, shake. Be that as it may I learnt my lesson. Life will underwhelm you when you expect to be overwhelmed and it will overwhelm you when you didn't expect anything.
All this comes out because two very dear friends of mine are "in the process" of getting married. It's a Punjabi wedding, so process is exactly the right term. Once again, the skies failed to part, and the earth, she just stood stoically still. People still keep telling me that marriage is about as normal as anything else in life. Somehow though, I can't come to terms with waking up and going to sleep next to the same person for the rest of one's life. Especially because this is a person whom you haven't really known throughout your life (in most cases anyway). But then I suppose that's the whole point. Trust is what most external relationships are built upon and I guess one could learn to see marriage as a more enduring sort of friendship. Indeed I hope that is how my two friends see the whole thing.
So you guys, this is the tribute I couldn't give you guys last night because there were far too many people around. I hope that the two of you together form more than the sum of two persons. I hope that this union between the two of you will enrich your life and the lives of those around you. I hope that your marriage, your family will in time become the sort of anchor that floatsam like me can anchor itself to. I hope, very fervently, that the two of you make this work so brilliantly that it makes me proud to be your friend.
P.S.:Ooh, and I hope that you always invite me to your house every Sunday for lunch and video games :D
badgered the evil minions of Tata Indicomm, that muchly reviled internet provisioning conglomerate to come fix my internet connexion. Had to cough up 1500 bucks in back bills before I could get that one done. Success.
badgered Hutch into giving me a GPRS connection. Work (and personal) email on my phone. Hurrah! pun23thinks he'd rather die than do work email on his phone. Meh. Better dead than married I say :D Success.
finished reading Rushdie's latest (Shalimar the Clown) and started a Naom Chomsky (Failed States).
started going to the Gym again. Sort of. I've been to it twice this week. Partial Success?
tried hooking up with old friends I've been out of touch with. If you know me you know how big a deal this is. Success.
started pre-mourning and occassionaly freaked out at the loss of bachelorhood that two of my friends are about to experience.
watched a crap load of russel peters videos on youtube. Go look him up!
done the one thing nobody thought I was capable of doing. Too embarassing to let out. Those who know, know. Giggle away you feckers!
signed up to facebook and twitter. You can now find out what I'm not doing instantly! Here: http://twitter.com/arunjeetsingh. Apparently it can also do mobile and shiz. Neat!
made this post
Now if you'll excuse me, I must think about going to the gym (it's a complex thought process that may/may not result in a visit to the pain room/gym).
So I figure that the only three things I must absolutely do in life are:
Have good beer
Everything else other than that is expendable. I figure I can probably outsource the rest of it to someone. Yeah, so I'm a bit drunk right now. But that doesn't necessarily mean this is a bad idea does it?
Don't order "large" at any fastfood joints. I mistook the "container" they handed me for coca cola to be a jug. You could do the same.
If you wear a large sized tee shirt (outside America), buy a medium or a small.
Gawk at the massive skyscrapers. Aren't they great?
Don't gawk at the massive people. Unless you want to get beaten up.
Smile at people. They smile back.
Don't plug in your electrical appliances unless they run on 110V. If you smell burning plastic, run!
Try and take food into flights. They don't serve meal on flights most of the time. No, I'm NOT talking about the budget carriers.
If they tell you your flight is a direct flight, don't believe them. It will probably stop on the way somewhere.
Don't cross the street unless the walk sign is on. They could arrest you for that! See Jaywalking.
Figure out their damn money. All the notes are the same size and same color. Only the pictures on them are different. A dime is 10 cents and a quarter is 25 cents. The numerical value of these coins isn't mentioned on the coins.
Meanwhile, I'm just loving the BIGness of all things America. The portions are huge, the people are huge (no offence) and the buildings are all skyscrapers. People tells me that's because I'm living right in the middle of downtown. Well be that as it may, I just lurve the tall buildings. Dunno what it is about them but I'll spend hours just standing at the hotel window looking at them (mental note: take a picture of the view). Ooh, and Seattle's a coastal town so there's the Pacific to look at. New ocean. Yay!
This is beginning to feel a bit like monthly update. But I assure you, it is no such thing. Routine is anathema outside of the workplace and things are as they should be. Also, because I am too lazy to write anything original I leave you with a song that's been stuck in my head for days:
You're a falling star, You're the get away car. You're the line in the sand when I go too far. You're the swimming pool, on an August day. And you're the perfect thing to say.
1. Movies where people play the piano. 2. Well made pepperoni pizza with good (really good!) beer. 3. Beautiful bouncy chunky light-hearted British women. 4. Spending a warm weekend day watching old movies on TV. 5. Double chocolate chip cookies.
So I finally got all my stuff relocated. There's a very nice rocking chair that I bought my father and that he never uses at home.
Ever since I first saw that chair at an exhibition I've been dreaming about sitting in it some day and reading a nice book. Morning light streaming in from the balcony and "Dil dhoondta hai phir wohi..." playing in the background. If you've heard this song you know that it is THE perfect song to read a book to. There is no contest. Oh, by the way, the leg in there is my flatmate's who we'll meet shortly.
This then is my bedroom.
The photo in there is a very old family portrait. Funny thing is that the picture came free with a pack of Tide detergant. Every time I have moved away from home I have carried that picture with me. I look terrible in it by the way, but there's just something about that picture. Don't know what.
Onwards. The view from the balcony is fantastic.
I know I know. My camera's terrible at night shots, or maybe its just me :D Even so the landscape is littered with construction sites and a whole bunch of stadiums. If you get your eyes out of focus for a moment and look at the middle of the picture thats the bowl of the biggest one called Gachibowli stadium. Strangely, the view of the construction site was a big factor for me moving in. I don't know what it is about construction sites but they just inspire me no end.
That's me trying to take a picture of myself with the background on the first floor.
probably does more justice to the view outside the first floor window (yes, I do realise I look like an idiot in this one. Fake smiles don't work for me). But I like the dreamy quality of the first one. The first floor has this nice mezzanine that connects all the apartment blocks. It's got landscaped gardens and nice garden lighting. Very fetching. Here's a shot of that.
The lighting kind of got away from me on that one. One of the reasons probably is the fact that there's never ever any clouds in the sky in this city. What's up with that?
Just so we can have a bit more perspective, here's a shot of the apartment complex from the office window.
It's those phallic buildings in the background (Heh. Try using THAT word in another sentence). I've got a bunch of pictures of the office too. Might do something similar with them if I feel like it. But then I might not. Okay, you can go away now.
So I have an MSDN blog now. Woo hoo! Its up at http://blogs.msdn.com/knowledgecast/ with a single post that I stole from my original tech blog. Head over there and read if you're interested in this sort of thing.
So the complete blithering mind-fucked stupid idiot that I am, I forget to bring my camera to HydraBAD. This is especially devastating because the Microsoft building looks absolutely gorgeous at night and my newly rented apartment is iminently photographable. My optical woes were trebled, nay multipebbled (I don't know what that means either) when I lost my sunglasses. Gawd does it get bright in that city. And there's no clouds! Not one in the whole sky! Weird.
Anywho, as penance for my forgetfulness I put myself through a gruelling Google search (almost 3 minutes!) looking for suitable pictures of work:
and soon-to-be home:
I am hoping that the fact that I get to have the Child Bed Room (CBR in the rental agreement just in case you're interested. And I know you're not) in the apartment will excuse my childish behaviour. If it doesn't, well thats a problem for my flat mates to resolve isn't it (Abhinav, Amit if you're reading this, you shouldn't be!).
So Hydrabad right. Or as the ignorant would have it, Hyderabad. On the coolness index of cities that I invented expressly for the purpose of this post Delhi scores a 10 (does that surprise you? Well then you obviously don't know me), and Agra's on the other end with a -10 (if you live in Agra I am genuinely sorry for you), Hyderabad scores a healthy, rather robust 8. Oh my gawd! Why did no one tell me about this city till now. The weather's perfect! 25 in the day 15 in the night (I think). The roads are great, the peeps be laid back (don't honk their horns for entertainment) and they make biryani so good you could be forgiven for thinking your fingers are part of the dish. In fact I think they do think that. They eat biryani with their hands. A fact that ought to repulse me, it probably would repulse me, if I could get my damn eyes off the biryani! Once again, oh my gawd!
Anyway, I get into the city on the Indian Airlines flight. The gods of vista did not choose to grant me tickets to the airline of the short red skirt. Instead, I get the flying government ka daftar. Not a total loss though. Like its foreign-going cousin I was sure Indian Airlines would have decent food. I wasn't disappointed. Even though I was given a non-vegetarian meal when I asked for a vegetarian one. No matter, citizens must not expect government employees to listen to them. I think its somewhere in the constitution. And I was in too good a mood.
The flight landed, ten minutes too late but I'm being ungrateful. People have had their flights cancelled because of fog. I was lucky just to be here. So I'm at the baggage carousel when I get an SMS telling me the number of the car thats supposed to pick me up. Impressive. Chap who picks me up speaks perfect Hindi. So perfect that I ask him whether he's from North India. He's not. Apparently everybody in HydraBAD can speak the language. Nizam's city and all I guess. Had to have a liberal smattering of Urdu speakers I guess. What we speak in Del's a combo of Urdu/Punjabi/Hindi so language's probably not going to be an issue. Good.
So I get dropped off at the "guest house", which is really just a duplex apartment with a caretaker. A colleague from the old company's already here. And so is Swami. Swami is my new best friend. Swami is the caretaker. I would marry Swami if he were a little more attractive and had sizable tits. Okay, so maybe I'm going a bit far but the guy gets me meals and can't stop thanking me! What more could I want?
We call for a cab in the evening to go have some authentic Hydrabadi biryani. The driver's this really really nice chap who gives us a tour of the city as we go. Just like that. He points out all the sites and gives us detailed history. People from Hydrabad shouldn't be allowed near Delhi. No. They might get bitten by the Delhi rude bug. We walk into the biryani joint (this place called cafe bahaar or some such) and I am instantly in love. We have to wait for a seat (its a Sunday so I guess the locals are hankering for the b-love too) and my stomach grumbles so loudly i'm afraid its going to leap out of my mouth and grab the nearest plate. Easy there boy. Biryani is had and as was wont to happen I end up overeating. I am so stuffed I think I might not fit the door on my way out. But I do and off we go to Husain Sagar Lake.
Now its a funny thing but despite having a place with a name like "Husain Sagar Lake" the Hydrabadis insist on referring to the area as Tank Bund or some such shit. Very HydraBAD of them. Tank Bund by the way is the dam that holds the lake in place. Salim (the nice chap who's showing us around) tells us they even tried changing the name of the lake once. Yeah right. Just like they changed the name of Connaught Place (oops, that's "Rajiv" Chowk!) and Victoria Terminus (whoopsie! that would be chatrapati shivaji or something like that). Whatever. Screw you right wingers.
And then I find myself sharing a romantic lakeside walk with Sachin (the colleague who's putting up in the same guest house). Or at least it would be romantic if it were the person I was thinking about at the time (if you're reading this, you know who you are). Well anyway, that done, off we go back to the guest house. Not before Sachin we've had a brush with Hydrabad's seedy underbelly though. Sachin's dying for a pack of ciggies and Salim tries getting him some off a fly-by-night operator (its night but the guy doesn't have wings). The police shows and the guy tries to cut and run. Sachin has to have his change back though :) A minor drama ensues as we drive away with Sachin still rueing the loss of 10 bucks. I would have laughed out loud if it hadn't been for the look on poor Sachin's face :D
...as he's waiting at home to usher in the new year? Well for starters, he sends out a soppy SMS greeting to people who will complain if they don't get one:
Happy new year! Don't make too many resolutions and don't worry too much about the hang over. They'll both go away in a few days :)
and then he opens the door to discover the city covered in smog. Finally! The good side of air pollution! And what do you think comes to his mind? What tune does he hum to himself when he sees the fog? Why its this of course! The haunting signature tune of Star Trek, including the asskillant (thats "excellent" to you non-believers) prologue:
Space...the final frontier These are the voyagers of the star ship Enterprise Its five year mission To explore strange new worlds To seek out new life and new civilizations To Boldly go where no man has gone before
And as this haunting tune plays on endless repeat in the background he makes the one new year resolution he knows will only last until the next encounter with the cranially challenged. He will try, try harder this time, to be nicer to stupid people. Yes, that will be his new year resolution. And with that, the geek signs off with this intriguing thought:
If the new year makes you happy then happiness is obviously a function of time
A bit of bitter sweet news that I got the other day. Apparently my joining Microsoft's been delayed by a week (that makes it the 8th of this month) because they haven't completed their background verification yet. Hmm... Perhaps they know how dangerous I can be to stupid people :D Anywho, that leaves me with a whole week of nothing (nada, zilch, zero, null) to do. So I have decided to live. That's right, Live. Watch this to make sense of what I'm talking about: