Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chennai vs Bangalore

This post is dedicated to good friend Muski’s memory. Recently he had to undergo an inhuman job transfer from Bangalore back to Chennai. He has been incommunicado since and none of his well-wishers are aware of how or whether he has coped up with the drastic change.

I am getting tired of shooting people in the face whenever they ask me which city is better for people like us with lives- Chennai or Bangalore. Getting rid of bodies is no longer as easy as it used to be. So I have listed a few irrefutable reasons below. The whole thing may look more like a diatribe against Chennai than anything for Bangalore. But let’s dispense with the standard forms of debate and comparison in this one instance.

The weather: Bangalore has one. Chennai doesn’t.

The autowallahs: Anybody who has lived in Chennai long enough often fantasize about raiding the auto wallah’s village on horseback in the middle of the night and razing it to the ground. Let me declare unequivocally that the auto-drivers of Bangalore are no saints but at least they won’t start whining ‘twenty rupees more saar’ as soon as we are two miles within our destination.

Language issues: I am all for a parochial approach to the enforcement of the local language as long as it postponed to a future date on a regular basis (like in Bangalore). If you want to call yourself a metro, you need to speak English & Hindi as properly as Tamil. It’s not a question of pride but of pragmatism.

Buses: Either have buses which move fast like in Delhi or have more Volvos like in Bangalore so that while you are stuck in a jam, its seems a wee bit more comfortable. Being in rickety tin boxes packed like sardines while in a traffic jam. Not good.

Alcohol Policy & Pubs: While I have been told that the draconian and Tughlakish alcohol policy of Chennai which stifled most brands out of the market, has been repealed after dire legal threats from WTO and people no longer have to be exposed to the radioactive MGM (orange flavoured, mind you), it isn’t enough. Pubbing in Chennai is like sea-food restaurants in Darjeeling. Non-existent. Either I have to go to one of those Residency series of hotels where I need to take out a personal loan from SBI so as to afford a mojito or I have go to places like Black Pearl where one is advised to carry a bucket so that you have something to puke in because of the stench and filth around.

Multiplexes: The puritans will scoff at me for including this point but my elitist days are long gone. Now I am a man of the masses and will not hesitate to assert that no self-respecting city with over ten million people should have fewer multiplexes less than my home town, which incidentally can be seen only with maximum magnification in Google Earth. It’s unheard off and people should just migrate in protest.

Cinema hall commercials: Don’t we love the trailers before the movie? Usually they are better than the movie that follows. Just like the course description in Meta electives usually read better than what the course ultimately delivered. So when I realize that the lavishly mounted video was not the teaser for the next blockbuster but a surreptitiously directed effort at making me buy hyper-expensive saris or worse, diamond jewellery, I have very good reasons to get pissed.

Culture: Whatever your taste in culture may be, you can indulge in it as long as it is Carnatic music.

Shopping: Why does the dosa shop, towel shop, jewellery shop and everything else in the world shop have to be a variant of the hydra headed Sarvanna store?

Newspaper: What’s with the gravitas in the daily editorials of the Hindu? We are Indians. We don’t care much for balanced editorials, foreign news reports, incisive columns which are not about Kim Kardashian or Rakhi Sawant. ToI rocks baby. And it’s cheaper.

Weather: At the risk of sounding repetitive, I must strongly re-emphasize that Bangalore has one. Chennai doesn’t.

But there is one aspect where Chennai scores in a big way over Bangalore. Did you know that the greatest most awsomest brilliantest place on earth, IIT Madras is actually in Chennai? Surprising but true. (Don’t you love blatant pandering to your biggest readership constituency?)

If IIT had been in Bangalore, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would still be trying to graduate.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Friday Terror!

Last Thursday Google Buzz had just got released and in my childish enthusiasm, I foolishly chided a good friend in the public domain for having reneging on a promise to meet up.In true spirit of Achmed the dead terrorist, I went so far as to call him an infidel. The good man, lets call him Keynesian Versus Moniterist or KVM, ruffled by the frontal attack replied with a gem of a mail explaining his frustrations with frequent business travel and the associated red tape.

Taking a page out of Google who violated my privacy by making me automatically follow people on Buzz whom I usually avoid by preferring to get diarrhoea, I am blatantly violating email confidentiality and pasting his mail below.

"O Master, the most merciful and the most beneficent! I was recently greatly alarmed to see, of all places on Google Buzz, that have you summarily declared me an Infidel! My numerous, exuberant, overflowing apologies! I am painfully aware of the unfulfilledness of my promises, my liege, and I only beg to humbly state, nay, whisper, that the current owners of my soul, Messrs. S******, are quite adept at making good use of their purchases.

Since the sale occurred, I have travelled the length and breadth of the country, and unlike Mr. Macaulay, I have not a single observation that will be pillaged and plagiarized by posterity on rediff forums. All I have are arcane procedures to file Domestic Travel Requisitions and Post Travel Regularizations gambolling in my head when I sleep on bus journeys, and in a slight variation to the Kekule theme, I see myself eaten up by the bureaucracy I spawn.

Under such terrifying circumstances, O paragon of virtue, would you blame me for wasting away on Google Buzz? Arise into a thunderous tempest, O ocean of kindness, and send forth a gale of forgiveness my way, lest I continue with the atrocious vocatives and metaphors"

Reading this the first thing on Friday morning put me under tremendous pressure to send a reply at least half as good. But how could I match up to such brilliance? It had references to obscure Indian History, organic chemistry trivia, cult forums and read like the Koran at the same time! I asked my imaginary secretary to cancel all my appointments for the day and walked about the apartment sweating profusely and biting my nails to bits, thinking. Lunch was missed, gym skipped, facebooking shelved. But to no avail. Expectedly I gave in by late evening. Trembling in apprehension and drowning in self-loathing I sent this reply.

"Not even the recently Predatored Hakimullah Mehsud, while having a bad bout of indigestion would have been so ill-tempered so as not to be swayed by such a benevolent and munificent plea for exoneration. The beauty and the wonder of the entreaty lies in the fact that it delicately and yet convincingly makes the wronged feel guilty of his unduly harsh and substantially hasty step of having Buzzed his sentiments publicly.

Fear not the needless requisition forms! For in me you will find an equally maltreated victim of a system which revels in draping themselves in red tape. Disguised innocently in terms as Journey Management Plans and Travel Requisition Forms, the effort involved in traversing the world is half wasted while in the office premises itself. The heart yearns and the mind craves and the body aches for a world where red tape is just a technique to keep the masses away from murder scenes.

So go forth on your tedious missions, cross the borders which separate the barbarians from the rest of us, dazzle them with your mental faculties and the return with the aura of victory and triumph as city belles fawn over you and vie for your attention. It will be then when we sit and spin our yarn over tumblers of ale."

The overriding fear was this shoddy job of trying to catch up will prevent the good man from investing his talents in my inbox in the future. Till the time of writing of this post, my fears have proved to be well-founded.

PS: I miss IITM and her exceptional inmates.