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Posts Tagged ‘anecdote’

I am a die-hard Alfred Hitchcock fan. But even so, I always thought of Birds as kind of lame-assed. A town being terrorized by killer birds! And they were not even the eagle type predatory birds. I mean it was as bad as being terrorized by a renegade car! However, I’ve changed my mind. I now fully endorse Mr Hitchcock’s views that normally gentle aerial creatures can be killers too.

It happened yesterday when I went running. I went to the park and after performing a few perfunctory stretches, took to the dirt track at a leisurely pace. Suddenly, I felt a swoosh down the back of my neck, like a bird flying past awfully close. I turned around to see it was a crow. Now crows are kind of intrepid, but even for a crow that was a bit too aggressive. Strange as it was, I shrugged it off as a freak occurrence. But then it happened again. And again. I look around to check whether others at the park were similarly troubled. Nope. It was just me. And then the lone terrorist was joined by two compatriots, then another two. Soon there were a gazillion of them circling overhead.

Great. So now the crows have got a vendetta against me. Why, for God’s sake? I’m nice to birds. Actually, I’m nice to all animals, but I’m especially nice to birds. I feed them bread crumbs and morsels of roti and regularly put out water in the summer months. I sometimes even put out a feast for them comprising leftover pizza or biryani. A hospitality that mostly crows avail of, I might add. So why then the ingratitude? Unless…it had something to do with the leftover dosa I’d laid out for them one day recently. I remember feeling very…well, philanthropic, thinking I was doing a good deed, treating them to a new flavour. But perhaps it had caused them food poisoning? I had, after all, forgotten to put it in the fridge last night before. Omigod, what if someone had died? Their chief perhaps? Perhaps they were exacting revenge, patiently biding their time, looking for a chance to attack me? Were crows vengeful? I thought not. But then I also thought one didn’t need injections in the stomach anymore following a dog bite. A notion that I’ve had to revise painfully in the recent times.

While one part of me was, to put it eloquently, crapping in my pants with fear, another part of me couldn’t quite get over how cool it all would be if this bizarre behaviour was because of some unexplained phenomena. The most obvious one that occurred to me was that the crows were devil’s minions. The universe was being taken over by Satan and I was the only threat to an otherwise assured takeover bid by the horned one. The less obvious, and more X-filesy, was that the crows were a part of a primitive, alien civilisation.

While I was loath to abort my run, continuing down the path was fraught with peril. Just as images from The Omen and Birds assailed my mind, one of them swooped down, pecked viciously at the top of my head and flew off. And then he did it again. He was followed by another and another. I swear the last flew off with a chunk of my hair. That was it! The crows flying away with bits of my flesh and bone I can live with. But hair, no sir, I wasn’t ready to lose my hair just yet.

Thoroughly spooked, I flailed my reams above my head and ran to the track keeper screaming, “Help!” I belatedly remembered the advice that if you’re ever in any danger, screaming “fire” is likely to elicit more facilitatory action than screaming “help” is going to. But with trees felled to clear the field for the track, and the fledgling grass green from the pre-monsoon showers, there was no way the threat of fire was going to rouse anyone, least of all, a snoozing track keeper into action.

Then the weirdest thing happened. The track keeper jumped up and charged down the track. Only, instead of scaring the birds away, he shooed me! “Get off the track from there.” And, as though that wasn’t enough to convince me that the world had gone mad, he shouted, “Are you blind?”

What the fuck? I felt hysteria bubble inside me. “Not yet, but soon if the birds continue like this.”

He pointed to a black thing in the middle of the track. “Can’t you see that thing?”

“Yeah, it’s a little rock. So?”

“It’s a wounded hatchling.”

I peered closer at the furry ball “That’s a live thing?!”

For God’s sake, not only did it not look alive, it didn’t even look like a crow. It looked like a…a mynah. And what was with the whole crow kingdom protecting it? What was it, little orphan Annie? Or some kind of a messiah?

He looked at me with me like he would at a suspected paedophile – with a mixture of disgust and suspicion. “Yeah. The crows are just trying to protect it from predators.”

“But I’m not…I”

“Look just keep off the track on this side and you should be fine.” Although it made sense, I wasn’t about to risk my well-being on the track keeper’s less then precise *you should be fine* assurances. Not even for a scintillating blog post. So I left. And that was the major excitement in my life last week. And here you didn’t believe writers led dull lives.

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I’ve received such interesting commenst and views on what women want that it reminded me of a popular fable I’d heard some time ago. It goes like this:

King Arthur was one captured by a neighbouring king who agreed to spare the former’s life if he could answer one question, What do women want?

Since King Arthur didn’t know the answer, he sent his messengers all over his kingdom looking for anyone who did. In the course of their travels, the messengers came across an ugly, wizened witch who claimed she knew the answer. She would, however, only reveal it if Lancelot agreed to marry her. Knowing the gravity of the situation Lancelot acquiesced, whence the witch answered, “What a woman really wants is to be able to be in charge of her own life.”

As soon as they heard it, everyone, including the neighbouring king, knew that truer words had never been spoken. And so the wedding between Lancelot and the witch was solemnised. On their wedding night, the witch announced that she had the ability to be beautiful half the time. She asked Lancelot to choose: either she could be beautiful during the day or at night.

Unable to make up his mind, Lancelot said that he would let her choose. Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time, because he had respected her and had let her be in charge of her own life.

The moral of this story? It doesn’t matter if your woman is pretty or ugly, smart or dumb. Underneath it all, she’s still a witch. And if you try to control her life, if you don’t let her have her way, things will get ugly!

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As many of you may know, recently I had desperate need for a notary as I had to get an affidavit (and no, it wasn’t a name change) verified.

So I sent a flunky (basically the security guard at my building looking to earn an extra buck at the expense of his current job) to Andheri Station east to get a stamp paper of Rs 10 denomination from one of those little stalls that specialise in preparing legal documents. He gives me call from there and says it’s not available. “What do you mean it’s not available?” “The government has become so vigilant since the Telgi scam that blank stamp papers can only be bought from the court of something like that,” he says.

How ridiculous is that? What does the government think? I’m going to open a fake stamp paper racket from the cosy confines of my home? Besides, the scam involved creating fake stamp papers, an activity that typically takes place before buying one. What can I possibly do after I purchase one except type on it?

Of course, it’s perfectly legal to purchase one from the little stalls but then they lose out on the typing and printing charges, don’t they? So they’ve collectively figured out that the way to go is you can purchase a stamp paper, but only if you get the matter typed by us. Extortion? Ah no. If you must call it something, call it an acceptable form of enterprise, an oligarchy if you will.

But I didn’t know that. Then.

Anyone, I was left with no choice but to take a trip down to Bandra, to the small matters (or is it affairs?) court. As soon I arrived, a black-jacketed lawyer swooped down on me. “Want to get married?” “No,” I said. “I didn’t think so,” he said knowingly. And I’m like what’s that supposed to mean? Agreed I’m no spring chicken but I’m in my dotage either. Agreed I’m no Miss Universe but I’m reasonably pleasing to eye. And I don’t think I give out militant feminist vibes. So why couldn’t I get married?

Then another black jacket swoops down on me. And another. “Dowry case?” “420?” I could go on about that, but I digress.

I finally fought my way through the black sea, landed up at the window and asked the guy for a Rs. 10 stamp paper. “Discontinued,” he says. “Okay, 20 then.” “Discontinued.” “Fifty?” He takes a while, chews a bit on his paan, spits out the juice, wipes his mouth and says, “See, myadam, the cost of porducing a 10 rupee paper is 3 rupees. That means only 7 rupees profit. Gorment has no interest in making only 7 rupees profit. In 20 rupees, only 17 rupees profit, in 50 rupees…” “Yeah, yeah, yeah I get the picture. So what’s the minimum I can get?” “100.” “Okay, 100 then.” “Not available.” Yeesh.

Armed with the 200 buck stamp paper I came home and printed out the matter. Then I called the notary. “What are your charges?” I asked. “200.” I looked at him aghast. “But…but it costs only 45 bucks in Delhi!” I sputter. He shook his head sorrowfully. “This is a state subject and they can charge any amount. As for me, I have to put 25 bucks notarial stamps on the affidavit. So what does that leave for me?” “A healthy 175 bucks profit?” I said sarcastically. He wasn’t amused. “Who do you think pays the rent for this place?” I bought his argument. After all, I’m overpaying for my cubbyhole flat, aren’t I?

On the way back I got a rickshaw which had a faulty meter. I tried to argue with him but he wouldn’t admit to fraud. “Fine,” I said, “let’s go the havaldar and we’ll see who he believes.” So we went to the havaldar and I said, “This guy’s meter’s running fast.” The havaldar looked shocked. “Aisa kya?” and he boxed the rick driver behind the ears. Hard, like only they know how.

And just as I was starting to smirk, the rickshaw driver started snivelling. “I am so sorry, sahib, but the rates haven’t been changed in five years. And with everything getting so expensive how am I to survive?” This appeal obviously struck a chord with the havaldar and he turned to me. “Myadam, let it go, no. You know how expensiu everything is. Tur dal’s 90 bucks a kilo, potatoes 20 bucks… how is he to feed his children? How is he to survive?”

I don’t know, vasectomy maybe? Let’s see, I’m paying for the little stalls’ survival, I’m paying for the state government’s fiscal deficit (over and above the already vulturine taxes), I’m paying to feed the rick driver’s children, since when did everyone’s dearness allowance become my concern? And who’s paying mine?

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One small step towards the 31, one large leap towards mortality.  I’m in the grip of an acute case of loseritis. For those unfamiliar with Smitaspeak, it means fear of not having done anything noteworthy.

My friends have suggested various methods to beat the affliction. One idea was throwing a lavish party at Polly Esther. Let’s see, my close friends aggregate 80 in number. *shrug* I’m popular, what can I say? At 1500 a head, that should comfortably set me back by 120,000. *Sarcastic* So, not having done anything noteworthy and broke. Wow, that’s gonna get me out of my funk!

And Anu, skydiving? *look askance* Seriously?

Then, yesterday, my best friend hit upon the winning idea. The only thing to do when you have an attack of the blues. A great haircut.

So we go to this hairdresser everyone’s raving about. He greets us nicely, feels my hair, calls it dry and stringy, suggests some wildly expensive Wella hair care products and settles me in the high chair. So far so good. Then, as he’s cutting my hair, his hand brushes past my…well, let’s just say a part of my upper anatomy. At first I think it’s an accident, but then it happens again…and again…*eyes widen in shock* And I’m like, whao! what’s happening? Is he…groping me?

It seems like it but I can’t be sure, you understand? For one, aren’t all male hairdressers gay? And two, it could be an accident. An accident like the one with Uncle Naidu when I was twelve. And with Uncle Siwach when I was sixteen, but what the heck.

So I’m sitting there in the high chair and I figure I have two choices. I can walk out now with my dignity intact. Or, I can walk out after fifteen minutes with a great haircut. While I’m mulling this over, he pulls the bangs down my face and against my, well, upper anatomy to test the evenness.

As he’s doing so, he presses his hands down very purposefully against, you know. And I go, well, that does it. I can’t walk out now. I can feel my bangs are uneven. I mean, sexual harassment is serious. It can scar you for life. But the scars are internal. A bad haircut is there for everyone to see.

On the bright side, I look great with my new haircut and I got hit upon by my hairdresser. I still got it.

*beatific smile*

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