Me Thinks

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Learning American

When I went to buy groceries in the farmer's market a couple of days ago, I saw an Indian, Ms. NewToAmerica, buying some vegetables. The okras they had there were not fresh, so she asked one of the guys working there if there were fresh "ladies fingers" inside. From the way she used "ladies fingers" I discovered she had just landed in the US of A. The Syrian guy kept saying sorry twice and made her repeat. She picked up the vegetable and repeated that question. He went in and brought some fresh okras and also picked up the sign-board that had fallen down and the board said "Okra". I threw a "been there done that" smile at her.
The english thats spoken in the US is so different from the english we all grew up learning. It takes a little getting used to. A few months after reaching this country, I had a doctor's appointment at 8 AM. I had to rush to work after that. I got into the lift, I mean elevator, and frantically pressed the button that said "1". The doctor's office was on the 1st floor. The door wouldn't even close and a school kid next to me said "Miss, we are already on the 1st floor". Ouch! there is no ground floor in this country. Ground floor is called the first floor here. Never the one to accept mistakes especially in front of a teenager I managed to say "This is what an early morning appintment does to me. Am sleep-walking, you know". Like she believed me! Not after seeing me dressed so appropriately and meticulously for my new workplace.
We all have a few embarassing moments and then we get used to American, the language. I had many, trust me. What takes the cake is this one.
A few days after I came to this country, I had to attend a party hosted by one of our American friends. There was a huge cake in honour of one of the persons and as the party drew to a close he was made to cut the cake, which appeared to be a cheesecake to me (why do I salivate even as I type that word?!) As the guy was about to cut it, some guys screamed "Cut the cake dude, don't cut the cheese" and a big guffaw followed. I obviously didn't get the joke and thought to myself "Why are these people laughing? I agree its difficult to cut the cake without cutting the upper portion of it, which happens to be cheese but whats so funny? Man! I got to get used to this American sense of humour". I realized from Mr.Me the next day that cutting the cheese means farting. Well.....

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Men Vs Women

I maintain a 10 feet distance from the group where people argue whether men are better than women or the other way around. Men are good at doing certain jobs and women have their specialities as well. For example, when we say "machanic", we picture a man and when we say "receptionist", we picture a woman. But some men (fondly called MCPs) insist women can't do a lot of things that men do. And some women react to that by proving they can match men in every action. When you are at two extremes, its impossible to appreciate the good things that can be attributed to the other gender. Pause for a second and think of any "liberated" woman or a "progressive" woman that you know. In most cases there would be a man supporting her in the form of a father, brother, a husband or even a friend.

Its true that women were looked down at or discriminated against but if we are where we are right now, men do play a small part in that. For every 10 MCPs I've met, I've known at least 1 man who appreciates the qualtities in a woman. But its very difficult to give credit to men who trash women. They pick on something and say women just can't do that and conclude men are better. Some men don't get it. Their favourite argument is "If women are as smart as men, how come the number of girls in places like IIT is so less compared to guys?" Like science and Math are the only parameters to measure a person's smartness! Even if we agree that there are more smart men than women, the quality of smartness among women is better than that in men. To quote one of my friends, a smart woman is smarter than a smart man even though the number of smart men is more. By extrapolating it, the smartest person in this world is a woman. But its difficult to find too many takers for this.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Torino Fiasco

When half the world is talking about Winter Olympics, our country with a population of over a billion sends a 4 member team, which in itslef is a big deal, I agree, given the kind of infrastructure that such games require. Just as we feel proud about India actually sending a team, just when people start talking about how India has arrived because we have a team representing us in the Winter Olympics and just when journalists were getting ready to write articles on how cricket is a waste of time and money and how winter olympic related games don't get enough sponsorship because of cricket and the greedy cricketers, we have this bummer. Shiva Kesavan boycotts the opening ceremony, effectively calling the accompanying Indian officials as shameless chamchas/jaaldra. Lets stay tuned to the drama that unfolds on the coming days.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Man of Steel

As Rediff would want us to believe, the whole of India is celebrating Lakshmi Mittal's progress as a billionaire, him being the 3rd richest man in the world and all but according to the following report, his raise is met with a frown in the West, more specifically in Europe, which generally has a superiority complex for some unknown reason. Salil Tripathi writes thus in International Herald Tribune.

Mittal is an immigrant in Fortress Europe, and they resent the idea of a man
from the Orient gate-crashing a carefully laid-out garden party, in which a
precise pecking order used to determine who sat where.

Mittal does not follow those rules. The Mittal group is family-owned, and
Lakshmi Mittal is a peripatetic Indian who has moved around the world with
the ease that globalization promises.

Born into a family that owned a steel mill, Mittal first went to Indonesia
and then, in the 1980s and 1990s, in countries of limited interest to bigger
companies, slowly set about acquiring and making viable steel plants that
would have otherwise gone under.

By carefully pursuing his vision and remaining focused, he built the world's
biggest steel company, and became, according to Forbes magazine, the world's
third-richest person.

Criticism naturally followed, but it had less to do with his business plan
and more with his tastes. Tabloids across Europe gleefully reported his
purchase of a palatial 12-bedroom home in London's Kensington Palace Gardens
for $127 million, a record price for a private home; or the lavish,
$78-million wedding of his daughter over five days of festivities in a
17th-century French chateau; and the £125,000 he donated to Britain's Labour

If a pedigreed European count or British lord had done any of this, it would
have been taken for granted, perhaps even termed charmingly eccentric. But
when a man who grew up in rural India does it, questions are raised suddenly
about Mittal's "methods."

Monday, February 06, 2006

And he hits a ton...

Obviously I am excited to see that Sachin has scored his 39th One-day hundred. I hope he scores through out the series and not do what he did against Sri Lanka (scoring in the first two matches and failing miserably after that) Its sad that we lost even after scoring 328. Damn Duckworth and Louis! Now the intellectuals that say "India loses when Sachin bats well. He is unlucky for India" have something to chew. Sigh.....

Friday, February 03, 2006

Shame Shame

As much as I pretend not be perturbed by the result of the 3rd test match between India and Pakistan, I feel depressed about the state of affairs. Its bad enough that Sachin has been a total failure in the tests and on top of it we have this huge-margin loss. Even die-hard logic-not-for-us fans like me find it difficult to defend Sachin anymore. The web TOI, Rediff, has already started asking viewers if Sachin's end is beginning.
And just for the record how many great players have bowed out when they are at the peak? Bradman's last innings was a duck but he was not out of form totally when he retired. Steve Waugh was almost asked to retire and luckily he produed a good innings before he hung his boots. Pete Sampras retired after winning the US Open but he was not at his best in the preceding matches and he knew he wouldn't win any more titles thereafter. But to bow out after your best game is the hardest thing to do. We won't know what would become of Sachin but I hope Sachin-Pawar jodi doesn't become like Ganguly-Dalmia's.
And here is hoping Sachin produces a gem on the first ODI.