Archive for category Humour

The Turbocharged Masala Chai

The hills are alive with the sound of gas escaping!

Vroom, vroom! The sight of men on a noisy motorbike, the pillion rider tightly holding on to the waist of the guy in front, was somehow disconcerting. Dad had once explained that they needed to do so for reasons of safety, lest the guy behind gets thrown off while the rider is negotiating those bumpy tracks. While that may be the ostensible reason, the lingering thought about the range of emotions experienced by both men when that hand slipped a little below, inadvertently perhaps, was always unexplainably exciting.

Oh hell! Reality always brought one down to earth during these mental interludes of fancy. How could one ignore for long that guy with the strange headgear, irritatedly scratching his crotch at times, in between bouts of picking his teeth, hollering all the while for cutting masala chai and fafda. Dad had made it clear to him, more than once, that customers must be served promptly and on the few occasions that he had failed to do so, immersed as he happened to be in one of his lingering daydreams, a couple of hard spanks, administered on his somewhat misshapen keister, had quickly brought him back to reality.

Years later, after he had put his misadventures behind him and had settled down to a life of regurgitating the text that they put in front of him from time to time and made him memorize, he decided to put the fleeting thoughts of his early years to the test. He was pillion riding on Lijet’s new Vespa scooter and when Lijet took a sharp turn, he sensed that this was his moment and let his hand slip down a little lower. Strangely, Lijet didn’t seem to mind at all. In fact, he appeared to be in a trance for sometime afterwards till he stopped in front of a public lavatory, muttered that he was going to be awhile coming back and virtually ran inside. When he finally emerged, after what appeared to be an interminably long time, he had a glazed look in his eyes and a little smile playing on his lips. Soon afterwards, he muttered something about being faithful and loyal always. While what exactly he had in mind wasn’t fully clear then, it became rather evident that day that letting the hand stray a little lower, while hugging from the back or front, helped trigger feelings of loyalty.

Lets fast forward a few years down the line to the time when that dynamic leader, Komod, took him under his wings. His many duties, Komod explained, included serving tea, coffee and what Komod referred to as ‘refreshments’, to Komod’s distinguished guests. Once, after Komod had managed to strike a deal he was very keen on, amidst sips of his turbocharged masala chai, he detected that strange look in Komod’s eyes. Later that evening, when he was alone with Komod, he suddenly got a tight hug from him, a pat on the cheeks, a suggestion that he should let his facial hair grow and felt Komod’s hands slowly, deliberately, straying south. They eventually came to rest between his legs and strangely, his mind conjured up visions of Karna ‘doing’ Duryodhana during the Mahabharat era. Afterwards, he went and swore undying loyalty to Komod since that seemed to be the done thing, though as has been the case since his childhood years, he never quite meant what he said and never ever intended to keep a promise. He also decided that day that come what may, he will do whatever it takes to get to the top job one day.

Some years later, after Komod had departed this earth under rather gruesome circumstances and his own career plans were humming along nicely, he tried all that Komod had done to him and more on Rasik, who had served him well for some years. Rasik said he was immensely uplifted by the experience and beseeched him to repeat the exercise as often as he wished to. As he had expected, Rasik promptly swore to be faithful and loyal to him for the rest of his life and he decided, that very day, that if he ever made it to the top job, Lijet & Rasik were going to be his A-team. He had no need to look any further afield.

Some years later, when he had succeeded in eliminating much of the opposition within and appeared to be within striking distance of his goal, he was referred to this high priced international consultant who, he was told, had turned one-time mendicants into princes, globally. While they charged him an arm and a leg, they did give him some valuable tips. Some of the key ones were:

a) Physical attributes were important and many international unisex bars forbade people, whose chest did not measure at least 120 cm., from even entering. He decided to play it safe and be at least 10 cm. above that defined threshold.

b) Clothes maketh the man and the more the clothes the bigger the man was perceived to be. Again, he decided to take no chances and proceeded to build up a wardrobe which, in terms of quantity, would have made many a viscount blanch with envy. Since this burgeoning wardrobe wasn’t meant to remain in the jumbo-sized closet that he had custom built, he took to changing his clothes at least thrice daily and displaying as many of them publicly as he could, regularly. He did hear whispers about some folks referring to him as a clotheshorse but since horses had always given him that warm feeling down below, he was happy to conclude that he was on the right track.

c) His international consultants advised him that it was important to latch onto some buzzwords and make them his very own. These buzzwords were then to be strung up and displayed widely and were to appear in virtually every nook and corner of his territory till the person-in-the-street thought of him whenever they glimpsed these buzzwords and vice versa. Apparently, in marketing parlance, this was known as top-of-the-mind recall. After sleeping on various sets of buzzwords and consulting his mentor, who was known popularly as ‘The Walrus’, he settled on the words ‘focus’ and ‘hocus’ initially. ‘Hocus’ had to be replaced soon though because ‘The Walrus’ severely disapproved of it and even chided him for his choice. After much deliberation and consultation the word ‘shaft’ was chosen instead.  Lejit was enthusiastic about this and assured him, given the several nuances of the word, that his choice was a brilliant one.

Thus began his exciting journey to the top. More about that, some other time though.

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Ten Reasons Why I Went to The Ramlila Grounds To Attend The Anna Show Currently On

Anna Hazare - Delhi

Anna Hazare

X.  I don’t like Manish Tiwari of Congress. I thought that Anna, being an ex-army driver, can drive Manish Tiwari into the ground.

IX.  I heard that this year there were going to be two Dussehras and in the first of these, which would be a live event, the new Rama, Anna that is, would be taking care of the new Ravana, Kasab that is.

VIII.  I was told that from now onwards there would be this new supreme being for the country known as Lokpal whose word would be law. I went to have a look at this new supreme Lokpal, Kisan Baburao, whom people lovingly call Anna.

VII.  I was told that there is this new belly-dancer in town, Anna Kejriwal, who will be giving free shows at the Ramlila grounds for two weeks, four times daily. Since I have never seen a belly dancer perform, I was curious.

A Belly Dancer in Marrakech (Morocco)

Belly Dancer

VI.  I heard that someone named Anna was conducting walk-in interviews at the Ramlila grounds for two weeks, starting on the 19th of August,  for a variety of positions like truck drivers, cooks, driver’s assistant and flogger (a newly created position). I wanted to be considered for ‘flogger’, I think I’ll be good at it.

V.  I seem to have read a poster somewhere which said ‘feast’. Now, you don’t want to pass up a ‘feast’ specially if it is one on the house. Only after I landed up I realized that the interim ‘e’ was a figment of my imagination and what was on here was actually a tele-evangelized ‘fast’.

IV. I saw some posters & banners proclaiming, ‘India is Anna, Anna is India’. I went to see how India actually looks like.

III.  Some of my friends were going there to spend the better part of the day and it would have seemed quite boorish if I refused to go along, so I went.

II. My company’s HR was only granting ‘fasting leave’ to those who promised to furnish subsequently a certificate obtained from the Ramlila grounds, stating that they had attended & fasted also to force Mannu Sardarji to adopt the Jan Lokpal bill, no questions asked.

A Ramlila actor wears the traditional attire o...


I. We heard from our associates that they had great ‘pickings’ working the crowds outside Tihar jail while Anna was inside. Given that Ramlila grounds is a much bigger venue and Anna is now outside, we thought we would have a real bonanza working the crowds and ‘picking pockets’ there.

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Weird Encounters of the Virtual Social Networking Kind


Recently, while complimenting someone who had put up a picture of a bird on Facebook, I ran into a stranger who is apparently a friend of the person who did the original posting. What follows is an interesting primer about how

the anonymity of the virtual world isn’t an effective cloak at all for getting away with bs and about how preening and attempting to establish one’s virtuosity can backfire rather badly when one doesn’t quite know the subject. The exchanges reproduced below, embellished with explanatory notes from me occasionally, would be the best narrative form for this episode. So here goes:

The thread started with brief comments about terms used in photography and then got on to photography hardware, specifically digicams. After a few rather pedantic comments, the proceedings livened up when I mentioned, in response to some comments about analog and digital cameras that there is nothing quite analog about a conventional film camera. No analog circuits quite
exist. (The verbatim response excerpts from the lady who was primarily engaged in the interchanges are preceded by the acronym SL, whereas those by me are preceded by RM).The italicized bits in between, in black, are my observations and remarks.

SL: SLR is the right term for the traditional 35mm cam.

(i said analog cause it is rather a familiar term than the SLR. When I
used to mention the word SLR to my customers, it used to  freak them out
[sold cameras–was an authorized dealer for canon)

After I commented briefly on the various categories of cameras, their primary points of difference, conventional and digital cameras and the optical principles involved in SLR cameras, the action picked up from SL. Here are some vignettes verbatim.

SL: "Light does not shine on CCD/CMOS. To ease the language SLR is used to mean the film camera and DSLR is
used to mean  digital format"

SL: "Nikon 5 or 6 will still be called a traditional camera even though
programming was installed.

A DSLR is basically a computer emmulating a camera"

SL: "ccd/cmos is a sensor that has color design. if ppl were more
knowledgeable, they would ask how the RGBs are arranged  on the chip. it
picks up color information. to this day, to my knowledge no DSLR has come out in the market that can
totally capture film information–not even hassie"

SL: "some film hassies do have a digital back—these digital backs are
equally as expensive as the camera itself. had one"

Seeing the repeated attempts, increasingly desperate, to bandy about terms without at times any fundamental

understanding of the principles and technology involved (the internet makes it possible to access whole volumes of information about any subject, cherry pick what you like and reproduce them without either understanding the fundamentals or even worse realizing that some of the info one comes across is wrong and inaccurate) coupled with the frenetic attempts to pass herself off as a guru on the subject, leading to an increasing number of faux pas, I had to respond.)

RM: "I suggest you look up the detailed tech. involved in Digital Cams for
further details on such aspects instead of shooting from the hip. The
basic technology & principles don’t change from one major
manufacturer to another.

To correct some misconceptions briefly:
SLR stands for the Single
Lens Reflex principle, which is the whole optical system I alluded to
briefly earlier. Any conventional camera using this arrangement of
mirrors & prisms is referred to as a SLR camera. Prior to the SLRs,
cameras with viewfinders used the TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) principle
essentially incorporating two optical light paths. I remember gingerly
using a top-of-the-line model which my father had, as a kid. They were
good cameras but considerably bulkier and owing to parallax caused image
framing errors in certain situations.

Digital cameras which use the SLR optical system are known as DSLR
cameras. The use of digital circuits, dedicated firmware and custom
embedded software does not qualify a DSLR or any digital cam as a
‘computer’ much like similar embedded circuitry & systems in the
current generation of automobiles or even home appliances like
refrigerators and microwave ovens don’t make them ‘computers’ either.

The primary purpose of CCD or CMOS sensors is to convert light
signals viz., a very tiny part of the image into electronic signals. A
whole array of CMOS or CCD sensors thus captures the image area in its
entirety after which a whole host of built in hardware, firmware and
embedded software processes the electronic signals so received into a
composite digitized image (the entire lot commonly referred to as the
Image Processing Engine) making a whole host of adjustments &
corrections in the process. If no light is allowed to get through to the
CMOS or CCD sensors, you wouldn’t have any image in the first place in
any digicam whether it be a compact, prosumer or a DSLR.

Each CMOS sensor in the array has a no. of pixels and the
transistors for each pixel are located right next to the photodiodes.
Among a multitude of other functions the pixels with their transistors
incorporate RGB filtration & agglomeration naturally since CMOS /
CCD sensors essentially operate on the WYSIWYG principle and we don’t
live in a B&W world.

Given the completely different scientific principles, not to mention
technologies, between conventional film cameras & digicams,
hybridization is not possible. One can’t for example generate electronic
signals from an exposed conventional film frame or roll.

This isn’t meant to be a tutorial on digital image processing
fundamentals. However I couldn’t help getting into a certain degree of
details to explain absolute basics and correct a no. of misconceptions
that I happened to notice."

After an interjection by the person who had originally posted the pic, stating that the lady was indeed knowledgeable about the subject and not likely to shoot from the hip, the exchanges livened up further.

SL: "exactly….light n color do not shine on the chip–it detects

chip design does vary from company to company. layering of the pixels is
a big deal–i can go into it more detail with the appropriate audience n

wots this deal shooting from the hip? i am afraid i am not aware of the
term. i understand u meant it as a sarcasm. being an academic person i
like to know lil bit more just to satiate my curiosity

I am based in Washington DC. Was trained in NYC (my teen years
and undergrad)–teach at a local college and privately—my video
certifications are all from DC (an awarded cameraperson hahaha—the
shoot was scary–tell you  later)

after my BA from NYC, was in kol for a while where i taught acting
photography aerobics french and english–all  for  fun

MBA/Info Sys from DC"

Since the person was virtually begging for a response from my end, one was indeed in order.

RM: " I am very sure of what I’ve mentioned before. As I said earlier, I am
not a photography buff but what I’ve mentioned earlier is the intrinsic
technology of digital cameras. Even discounting factors like my basic
background in technology and experience in related arenas for nearly 3
decades, there is considerable literature, including very detailed
technical literature on the subject and I would suggest that instead of
debating and coming up with bits & pieces which are laughable to
anyone who has a grounding in technology or an understanding of the
scientific basis & principles involved in this, one should invest
time in going through the underlying technology and the scientific
principles involved. But then again, if one doesn’t have the necessary
background or experience it may just end up as an exercise in grappling
with the incomprehensible."

RM: (specifically responding to SL) "Let me say this once again. It appears that even without a basic
knowledge of the technology or the principles involved you made a whole
series of comments which were way off the mark, used jargon &
technology terms quite inappropriately at times without any  basic
understanding of what they truly signify or of the underlying
technological principles involved which, in charitable terms, is
shooting from the hip or more appropriately shooting yourself in the foot
if you so prefer. You continue to do it with every new comment you make
(‘ light & color do not shine on a chip’….. being the latest gem
in the series; I shall restrain myself suitably from several quips about
‘chips’ which come to mind) brutally exposing yourself to utter
ridicule in the eyes of all who understand the technology and the
principles involved.

Look friend, I have no desire to further engage in this ludicrous
discussion with you. I got into a certain amount of details on a  lazy
Sunday about this while browsing personal e-mails & FB and thought
that I’ll try & explain as simply as possible, shorn of the complex
technicalities & jargon, the basics of a digicam to those who may be
interested in knowing.

Since you’ve chosen to bandy about your CV on FB discussion threads
(haven’t come across that before, must say), I gather that you have an
arts background among other things. May I suggest that you stick to
things that you apparently have some idea about like composing pictures,
camera settings, aerobics and the like. I just have the feeling that
the whole subject of optics, semiconductors, photovoltaic cells, CCD or
CMOS APS, image processing firmware and allied topics are totally
uncharted waters and a minefield where "DSLR computers riding hard on
‘chips’ brandishing ‘colour sensitive’ pixels amidst a forest of CCDs"
(phew!) might just blow up in your face at times. Let me assure you, all
this stuff can be pretty complex to the uninitiated. The choice is
entirely yours though, whether to pursue this field of knowledge
aggressively in the future. As they say, it is a free country.

On the lighter side, since the comments were made in a public forum
like FB, I might just share the best of the little gems that you chose
to strew around with some of my friends during one of my forthcoming
social interaction sessions. I can quite imagine how it will greatly
bump up the amusement quotient with those who work in related areas
including a senior executive with ABC, some of whose cameras you once
apparently sold or another similar guy who happens to oversee XYZ’s CS
across AP. Rest assured I shall do so maintaining privacy &
confidentiality so that no one who may be in splits as a result even
gets to ask "SL who?"

The exchanges essentially ended there. SL later reverted with some out-of-context comments about how she, despite being resident in Washington DC presently, isn’t like other NRIs (Non Resident Indians) who according to her are like apes without tails hanging from trees. She, on the other hand, is apparently steeped in the best traditions of Kolkata and India (whatever that might mean; can’t quite reproduce those comments, like the others above, verbatim, since they were in the vernacular).

Aside from the obvious humour of the exchanges, they do trigger a series of reflections for all of us to ponder about. Some of these are:

  1. Using the anonymity of the net, folks can grossly distort just about everything about themselves, starting from their identity, nationality, background and present location. Being the largest social networking site by far, Facebook must be having its fair share of such folks who are crawling about in virtual space, latching on to various other ‘net friends’ including some like themselves, worming their way into open groups, fan sites and the like. I wonder how many of them are there with the intent to hack into or steal ids and other information.
  2. Facebook has rather cute categorizations like ‘Friend of a friend’. Unless one is quite sure about one’s ‘friends’ (which, in other words, means guys you really happen to know rather than folks you happened to meet on the net and added on to your list), ‘friends of friends’ would seldom, if ever, translate into a friend.
  3. Under the relative cloak of anonymity, which the net and such social networking sites provide, people feel emboldened to say stuff which they wouldn’t quite do in real life or in face-to-face situations with known people. The mistake they often make is assuming that utterly casual, phony or trash talk is transient in nature and will get forgotten or wiped out during the next few hours as new postings & comments keep getting injected. They are also lulled possibly into a false sense of security by the fact that most such sites provide Edit / Delete facilities apparently allowing people to take off what they might once have said. Unfortunately, given the multiple modes of access and communications, not to speak of banks of servers and archives, a complete wipeout is rarely if ever possible. Hence the need to be careful, considered and circumspect in all that you say and do in the virtual world since indiscretions and reckless utterances can indeed come back to haunt one or boomerang on one when least expected.

Bertrand Russell once said, “A stupid person’s report of what a clever person says is never accurate
because he or she unconsciously translates what he or she hears into something he or she can
understand.” Substitute pretentious or bogus in place of stupid and the saying still remains pretty much relevant, though ‘unconsciously’ may need to be replaced by ‘consciously’ on occasions.

As far as I am concerned, it’s back to the woodwork for ‘SL’. As a by-product of this piece, I have embellished it with a few diagrams and images for all those who may be interested in some of the basic principles and technologies used in cameras, specially digicams, after they have soaked up the humour first.

Postscript: I saw a message subsequently, from the person whose original post had led to this highly fascinating interchange that he had deleted the entire thread. This was followed by a couple of messages from ‘SL’, addressed to this person, one of which stated, "I took the conversation as fun. while it was not really mentally sexy
par se, I loved the onli9 heat. i was LMAO."
The next one waxed lyrical, literally. It stated, "do not ever regret anything in life. herez my take on this: Edith
Piaff’s most famous song " Non Je ne regrette  rien” I regret nothing.
you will find its translation in English should you not know french. It
is my most fav song in the world, I am listening to it since i was 15."

My final response to the person whose original posting had led to this series of interchanges was somewhat different though. It stated:
"Surprised that you should be getting squeamish about this in the first
place. Since you weren’t part of it except for a brief interjection and
since on the net and on social networking sites, normal algebraic rules
don’t quite hold (i.e.x equals y equals z doesn’t quite translate into x
equals z) for you and all others privy to it, it was an exchange
between two strangers, somewhat topical, during the course of which
someone, handed out a long rope, inextricably hung herself. I don’t
recall any crudities or vulgarities being used at all during the

Far more irrelevant and possibly offensive were the remarks made
subsequently about ‘NRI’ apes, residing on the East Coast specifically
and possibly in N. America in general. Such trashy stuff doesn’t even
merit a response and anyway, as far as I am concerned, its back to the
woodwork for the person making it.

Since the initial post was by you, you are perfectly within your
rights to use the edit / delete options on the discussion thread as you
may choose to. Given the fact that most such interventions, for me and
some others, are often through blackberries, smartphones & emails,
all that the edit /delete achieves is to remove it from the site
directly but not from multiple other devices or servers. Be that as it
may, my neurological memory cells will retain the best vignettes for
awhile yet and I must say that the amusement quotient for me, specially
on a Sunday afternoon, was indeed of a high order. As I mentioned, I do
plan to share that amusement selectively."


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