November 27, 2012

Unidentified Flying Rice


Apalaa Bhattacharya

In the December of 1994 my grandmother decided that we should eat together at a make-shift dining table made by placing a plank of wood – I think it was the remnants of a door  – on two wooden trunks. The house had an abundance of wooden trunks, since it was my grandmother’s preferred way of storing disintegrating, old sarees and banged up cooking vessels. Trunks could replace any conceivable furniture and perform its function with the greatest ease - in fact, we hardly had any chairs. 

I could just sit on one such wooden crate and fancy myself a pirate sitting atop his treasure chest, sailing the high seas looking for land to bury his loot.

It’s not that we didn’t have a dining table, but the dining table was always occupied by my eldest sister’s Economics and Mathematics books, and my sister, picking at her cuticles and desperately trying to make it to “phust place” [first rank] in school.

The make-shift dining table was laid out in front of a window overlooking our neighbour Neogi’s house. We had a shortish wall between the two houses; grandfather used to say they never paid us their half for it.  

One December afternoon, we were seated at this makeshift table for lunch. I was facing the window that opened up to the wall between Neogi and us. Ma had just returned from Sanskrit University, where she was a professor, and was scurrying to serve the food while it was still hot. She plunged the serving spoon into the enormous vat of rice (bhaat in Bengali), and proceeded to pile it onto my plate, thick and heavy.

“Ma, I don’t want any more”, I said.

More rice landed on my plate. Being thin was considered a sign of ill-health, and fatness a sign of prosperity. For young women, the latter was also an indication of their eventual stellar child-bearing capacities.

“Ma, no more rice.”

Still more rice. If it was on my plate I would have to finish it, I knew – “All the starving children” and what not. Panic set in.

“Ma, no more rice,” I yelled, hastily covering the plate with my hands.

Ma was constantly overwhelmed – raising three young children on her own certainly wasn’t easy, neither was the long commute everyday between South and North Calcutta in the notorious minibuses packed with pick-pockets and other delinquents. My rejection of a fourth helping of the mass-favourite Bengali staple was too much for her to bear.

“Thik achhe” [“Fine”], she grunted, grabbed a handful of rice from my plate and flung it out of the window. She must have had quite a throwing arm growing up, because the grains of rice catapulted over the wall between Neogi and us, and a second later, we heard a horrified scream from across this wall.

We all went quiet for a bit, and then Ma said, “Chup chap taratari khabar shesh karo” [Finish your food quickly and quietly].

A couple of minutes later, the doorbell rang. Padmajhi – our maid at the time – was sent off to answer it. In those days, grandmother could add the jhi suffix (meaning maid) without it being considered politically incorrect. Padmajhi was an enormous cock-eyed lady who giggled incessantly. She taught me about menses. We later learned that she used to be a prostitute at the local brothel, which is how our maharaj (cook) knew her.

A skinny young man in his early twenties was at the door. He was wearing a white kurta-pyjama; the kurta had some grains of rice stuck on it. This was Neogi’s unemployed son – ‘Neogir bekar chelle’ (Neogi’s Jobless Son) - as we all knew him. He was a Political Science graduate; in those days you needed to be a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer to be considered human.

"Accha"[Okay], he said slowly with a deadpan face, “I live on the ground floor next door. I was asleep, when suddenly I was hit by some rice. Look” – he gestured towards the very visible grains of rice stuck to his kurta. “Did anyone of you throw some rice from your window?”

Padmajhi started giggling uncontrollably. Ma rushed over and ordered Padmajhi back into the house. “What? No”, she said, “it must have come from some other house.”

We were watching the proceedings through the slightly ajar door of the dining hall. My eldest sister had temporarily abandoned her study table and was there as well – her economics books and cuticles needed a rest.

He was adamant. “No, I’m definite it came through your window.”

Ma was non-committal. “Then perhaps our maid threw it. Ok, I am sending our maid to wash your clothes.”

“No, that is not necessary”, he said, “We have a maid as well; I just came to inform you.”

“Ok, fine” said Ma, and that was that.

The next day the table had mysteriously moved to another location in the house – one without a window.

“Eta bhalo” [This is better] commented grandmother.

We continued to use food as projectile missiles on occasion, for emphasis. Fortunately we kept our targets within the confines of our house. Neogi’s son started working as a private tutor and went from being referred to as ‘Neogir bekar chelle’ to just ‘Neogir chelle’

Padmajhi eventually left our job and returned to her evening shifts. 

About the author
 Apalaa Bhattacharya spent her childhood and school-going years in Kolkota. Then she moved to Mumbai for college, where she met a guy and never went back to Kolkota. She then joined advertising as a  Copywriter.
 

June 9, 2012

Top 10 Social Media Irritants

Daniel P Carey

1. LOL. Why on bigfoot's dick do people put LOL at the end of sentences that not only aren't funny, but cannot even attempt to be? I have seen things like: "Just woke up, LOL" or "I just ate breakfast, LOL". If you laugh out loud every time you eat breakfast you should get off Facebook and seek medical help immediately.

2. Women Pouting.  Seriously.  What on earth compels some woman to pout constantly in pictures on Facebook?  Waving a camera at some girls these days seems to immediately result in them sticking their lips up in the air, pulling a face like they are having difficulty with their bowel movements, and then pouting with all their might until they look as though they are being dragged, lips first, into a black hole, whilst trying to suck the meat off a chicken leg.  I'm no oil painting, unless 'Scream' by Edvard Munch counts,  but if I wanted to see something looking like that on my wall I'd go down the local taxidermist and got myself an aardvark (a pig-like animal with a snout longer than a pig).

3. Public Arguments.  Why the hell have some people decided that a public argument on Facebook is a good idea?  If you put it all out there for the world to see, later, you can't deny saying it.  That shit'll be with you for life; you'll be saying to your other half "I don't remember saying that, you must of misheard me" to which the other half will reply, "Well you posted it on my wall and 18 of your friends bloody 'liked' it, so I know you said it and I know you have been talking about me with your mates".

4. Defiant Status updates: "Yes I've been fat. Yes I've been skinny. Yes I've been a fool.  Yes I've been wise.  Yes I've loved.  Yes I've lost.  But no I won't change and no I don't care what you think" Repost this if you refuse to change and don't care what people think! Err rr r  no thanks, not only because I don't care if you won't change but also because you clearly do care what people think or you wouldn't have been posting this nonsense on your wall in the first place.

5. Spam.  “People are saying horrible things about you on their twitter feed. Click this link to find out who.”  To be honest even if that is true, ignorance is bliss so I'll give it a miss, and especially as clicking the link will undoubtedly get me a virus quicker than a pervert in Bangkok.

6. People who follow me on Twitter and have such bio's: 'When I get on my knees it's not to pray' or 'haterz, playerz, fuk dat shiz'.  Firstly, to the lady who isn't praying - I  assume she's gardening or talking to an infant - please don't follow me, I really couldn't give a shit that you're not religious; neither am I not.  As for those who put z's at the end of words for no reason, please also leave me alone; but if you want to follow someone, feel free to follow your teacher down to the library, pick up a dictionary and learn to fucking spell.

7. Poking people on Facebook. I can't see the frickin point of it. I say if you want to talk to someone then send him/her a bloody message, or if you want to be friends then send a bloody friend request, otherwise leave him/her the hell alone.

Secondly, is it those who poke you are never the people you want to poke you. It’s never the girl/boy you've secretly fancied for months that suddenly realises s/he has fallen in love with you, is it? Nope. It’s always the sinister oddball at work who spends far too much time hanging about the photocopier. I say get rid of the 'poke'. It’s really about as much use as a dissolvable condom.

8. The obligatory 'Like'.  Now this is more of a jealousy thing on my part if I'm totally honest, as I can spend a few hours writing a blog post, drop it on to my wall and five days later I've got about two Likes and no comments, whereas a girl writes "I just ate a potato" and five minutes later she's inundated with Likes and comments such as "I love potatoes too LOL" or "Ooh Justin Beiber eats potatoes apparently, ROFL."

9. Cryptic status updates.  The ones where someone writes an update such as "I don't know why I bother" or "Just when I thought things were going well, again" and then everyone jumps in and asks "What's up?", "Are you ok?", "Please tell me things are alright?"  To which, after luring everyone in like they were moments away from death, they respond with "Yeah I'm fine, just had a bad day at work".  A bad day at work?  If you're filling up everyone's news feed with such attention-seeking antics then you should at least have the courtesy of being held captive at the hands of Somali pirates, otherwise please keep your desperate pleas for interaction to yourself.

10. Boring Status Updates.  You know those people who update their status with things like "I'm about to eat some toast" or "I just saw a cat" or "It's raining".  Seriously if that is the highlight of your day then I advise you, “Quickly eat your toast, stick the cat on Ebay, put on a raincoat and go outside and live a little, as you sound like you are having a terrible life.”

About the Author: Daniel Paul Carey, 31, an advertising professional, lives in Beckenham, Kent, and works  in Central London.

Note:Any of you got a humour story you wish to share with readers of this blog, please send it to me forthwith, at dezymacedo@gmail.com

May 26, 2012

How to tell Indians from different states

Bengali
One Bengali = poet.
Two Bengalis = a film society.
Three Bengalis = political party.
Four Bengalis = two political parties.
More than four Bengali's = Countrywide agitation to bring Ganguli into Team .

Bihari
One Bihari = Laloo Prasad Yadav.
Two Biharis = booth-capturing squad.
Three Biharis = caste killing.
Four Biharis = entire literate population of Patna .

Punjabi
One Punjabi =100 kg hulk named Pinky.
Two Punjabis = Pinky with his bigger brother Twinky.
Three Punjabis = assault on the McAloo Tikkis at the local McDonalds.
Four Punjabis = combined IQ equal to one.

Mallu
One Mallu = coconut stall.
Two Mallus = a boat race.
Three Mallus = Gulf job racket.
Four Mallus = oil slick.

Gujju
One Gujju = share broker in a Bombay train.
Two Gujjus = rummy game in a Bombay train.
Three Gujjus = Bombay's noisiest restaurant.
Four Gujjus = stock market scam.

Andhraite
One Andhraite = chili farmer.
Two Andhraites = software company in New Jersey.
Three Andhraites = Naxalite outfit.
Four Andhraites = song-and-dance number in a Telugu movie.

Kashmiri
One Kashmiri = carpet salesman.
Two Kashmiris = carpet factory.
Three Kashmiris = terrorist outfit.
Four Kashmiris = shoot-at-sight order.

Tamil Brahmin
One Tam-Brahm = priest at the Vardarajaperumal temple.
Two Tam-Brahms = Maths tuition class.
Three Tam-Brahms = Queue outside the U.S consulate at 4 a.m.
Four Tam-Brahms = Thyagaraja music festival in Santa Clara .

Sindhi
One Sindhi = currency racket.
Two Sindhis = papad factory.
Three Sindhis = duplicate goods shop in Ulhasnagar .
Four Sindhis = Hong Kong Retail Traders Association

Mumbaikar
One Mumbaikar = footpath vada-pav stall.
Two Mumbaikars = film studio.
Three Mumbaikars = slum.
Four Mumbaikars = The number of people standing on your foot in the train in a rush hour.

Blessy Chettiar, who said, “The Goan in me feels left out,” added this one:

One Goan: confessing in church
Two Goans: bar by the beach
Three Goans: rock band
Four Goans: Portuguese visa scam

Note: I have no idea who wrote this piece, but if anyone knows do mail me - I would love to credit the author for this rare humour. Also, do you write short humour stories, or would you like to try writing one? Send your story to me at desmond.macedo@gmail.com

February 14, 2012

My Wedding Invitation

Hello Everyone,

Here's my wedding invitation. Please don't look for an attachment because there isn't any. My able advertising friends failed to meet the deadline, so I'm relying on my written words to persuade you to attend my wedding or my reception.

My wedding is this Friday, 17th February, 2012. Please don't ask me why it isn't on 14th February.

The wedding is in my girl's hometown Bhilai. For those of you who just know where Zurich or Capetown is, I would like to inform you, it's a humble steel city in Chattisgarh. For those of you who don't know where Chattisgarh is, seriously, fuck off.

If Bhilai seems difficult for you to reach, here's another option.

Come for my reception. It's in Dehradun on Tuesday, 21st February, 2012.

Monday is a holiday, at least in north India. Depending on how much you love me, you can apply for a leave on Tuesday and Wednesday.So you'll have a full five-day weekend, where you can plan a trip to Auli (a skiing resort quite far from the Alps), or Rishikesh, or anywhere in the Himalayas. On your way back you can attend my reception.

So that's the deal. A friend's reception and nice holiday in the Himalayas.

Please don't feel bad if you can't make it because I won't feel that way either. We all have our job pressures and deadlines. Even I've missed quite a lot of close weddings for exactly the same reasons.

Even if you do come, don't expect it to be the grandest of affairs. My dad says splurging on weddings is for those who have black money. And in advertising there's little opportunity to earn it.

Let me add there won't be any booze either. Just get drunk on your way.

And if you do get drunk, let me assure you there won't be a cheap-ass 'Sharma DJ', but an authentic pahadi dhol to dance to.

Alright then, please consider attending my reception, and if you decide to come, wear your best clothes and make me feel proud.

That's all folks.

Abhishek Deshwal

pahadi dhol – folk music of the Himalayan region.

About the Author: Abhishek Deshwal, or Deshu, a Copywriter, is from Dehra Dun. He worked in Bombay until recently, now is in Delhi. Note:Do you write short humour stories, or would you like to try writing one? Send your story to me at desmond.macedo@gmail.com

February 13, 2012

It’s Scary Being An Idiot

Daniel Carey.

I am a movie buff I am going to focus this story on horror films.

Having written the above, let me just go and check the locks…be back in a moment.

Okay, fear is something we all have, other than Chuck Norris - the palms-sweating, bum-hole twitching fear that comes from being truly scared.

But what you can guarantee with all horror films, whether they are good ones ( Jaws/Paranormal Activity/The Blair Witch Project) or bad ones ( any 'Saw' film after number 2, Hostel, The Last House on the Left), all are packed to the rafters with people doing stupid things. You know, where, rather than all stay together to fight the killer, everyone decides to split up and do it on their own. If you started as group, stay as group. Once you've gone out on your own your shortcomings soon become apparent. And if that shortcoming is exposed to a knife-wielding maniac wearing a hockey mask, you are bang in trouble.

So I have put together a list of stupid or illogical things that happen in horror movies and how to overcome them:

1) People run upstairs rather than out the front door. If you are on the ground floor of a house and someone is chasing you with a chainsaw, or the head of your dead housemate, don't run past the front door and then up the stairs; try going out of the front door, legging it up the road, flagging down a cab, getting to Starbucks to have a coffee, until you calm down.

2) People offer lifts to those they shouldn't. If a bloke is standing on the side of the road asking for a lift, and he looks like his sister is also his girlfriend, do not pick him. I'm sure he won't mind waiting another five minutes for some other idiot to pull over.

3) People do things they know will lead to trouble. If someone tells you that saying something into the mirror a specified number of times will lead to your imminent demise, heed this advice, don't just jump up and yell Candyman five times whilst you’re doing your hair as he will undoubtedly turn up within about five minutes and beat your arse to death. My advice would be to get rid of your mirror, or anything that provides a reflection, just in case.

4) People tempt fate. If you have heard that there is a giant crocodile/piranha/alligator roaming around a specific lake, why on earth would you ever decide to go swimming in it? Get back in your car, drive to the nearest swimming baths. If you're lucky they may even have a wave machine.

5) People fall over for no reason. When a serial killer is casually strolling after you whilst you sprint for your life, watch your step as there is a 99% chance you will fall over something that in everyday life wouldn't send you tumbling. So that blade of grass that just the morning before you stepped over with no problem at all is now likely to trip you, so avoid it at all costs. And remember, at no point will the killer break into even a light jog, as for some reason, all horror movie murderers are lazy bastards, so you have time to watch your step.

6) People do things that are illogical. It's three in the morning, a man with an axe is chasing you, slowly of course, and you're banging on the door of a shop that says 'Closed' in the window. Quickly realise that you're being an idiot, banging on the window of a haberdashery at 3 am, how the hell would it be open? Just in case an idiot turns up looking to escape a mass murderer? If it was 17:31 and you can see the staff cleaning up, then yeah bang away, otherwise it's probably sensible to try and hide elsewhere.

7) People don't take others’ good advice. If there's a shark the size of a house circling you and someone says 'We're gonna need a bigger boat", take their advice, go back to shore, pick up something like a cruise liner or an aircraft carrier and return. Chances are, if you don't, one or all of your arses is going to end up as chum.

8) No one ever takes the advice of experts. You think your house is haunted and a ghost hunter/priest/weird man you met on the internet says “Whatever you do don't try to summon the demons yourself.” Don't do what they do in the movies and immediately run off, set up a Ouija Board, dim the lights and then start asking your mates 'Are you moving that glass?' It's 100% certain that they aren't, that it will spell out something scary, and then all of you will end up getting the crap kicked out of you by something you can't see, probably because you haven't turned on the lights.

9) The living dead like to bite people, especially the exposed flesh. So if you are under attack, don't walk around in a bikini. Get yourself some jeans, a roll-neck sweater, Doc Martin boots and ideally put on a motorcycle helmet.

And finally number 10) People don't questions about what they've been told even if it doesn't make sense. Take Gremlins for example, so you buy an animal that's certainly not your run-of-the-mill pet and the wise old Chinese man who sells it to you advises that whatever you do, “do not feed him after midnight.”

So rather than go home and break out the chicken wings, first ask when the hell 'after midnight' ends? Surely all time is after midnight. If not, then where is the tipping point? I'd want to be made fully aware that if I’m serving up a plate of chicken nuggets at half one in the afternoon that this was sufficiently past midnight and that, later, I am not going to be confronted by a monster intent on shooting me in the face with a crossbow.

It's just self preservation, people.

About the Author: Daniel Paul Carey, 31, an advertising professional, lives in Beckenham, Kent, and works in Central London. Note: Do you write short humour stories, or would you like to try writing one? Send your story to me at desmond.macedo@gmail.com

January 18, 2012

"What I got for a Mcdonald's"

Daniel Paul Carey.

When I was growing up I had slightly protruding front upper teeth; nothing to horrific, but bad enough for kids to occasionally chuck out a 'buck tooth' chant when they'd run out of abusive things to say about the rest of my appearance.

My lower teeth also had some issues, as they seemed to be fighting to get on top of each other like a pair of wrestlers going for a pin, but rather than giving up on the Count Of 3 they stayed in the same place for 14 years. So when I got to about fourteen it was decided by my dentist and my parents that I was to get a brace.

Before I got my brace I was told I needed to have four teeth removed as the reason my teeth were protruding and sitting on top of each other was because they didn't have room in my gums to sit comfortably, so they were jostling for position like a bunch of grannies in a bus queue.

Off I went to the dentist with my Mum and Dad in hand as they promised me a McDonald’s for being "Mummy’s brave little boy". Thinking back, it amazes me how just the mention of McDonald's made me content to have a 6-inch needle in my mouth, 4 teeth removed and a metal rod placed where my smile used to be, but it appeared to work. It makes me wonder what I would have been willing to go through for a Burger King.

"Daniel" the dentist shouted. Up I jumped and gave him a wave that contained far too much enthusiasm for a boy who was about to have parts of his body removed.

"Lean back and open your mouth please" the dentist advised.

So back I went, laying down in the chair and opening my mouth as wide as I possibly could in the hope that this would mean the dentist or his assistant wouldn't have to delve too far into my gob. I was wrong. In they went, both of them seemingly in competition with each other about who could get the farthest into my mouth, and as they tried to shove every tool they had inside it I got the sense that my gob was quickly becoming a garden shed.

After a few minutes of this rummaging around, like he was trying to find his car keys down the back of the sofa, and after his assistant had stuck a small hoover in my mouth to suck up my saliva and anything else I may have been storing between my teeth after lunch, he leaned back and grabbed the needle. Well, I say needle, but this thing to me looked more like he was preparing to go jousting, and any minute he was going to whack on the medieval armour, jump up on to horse and charge towards my gums.

The dentist’s words, "Little injection, little injection, little injection" kept running through my mind in the hope that, although the needle was like a Marlin's nose, only the tip of it would go in, and then, everything would be fine. But it carried on, farther and farther and farther, until I was at a point where I assumed it had come out the other side of my head, and I was now a kebab.

Now to be honest the pain wasn't horrific. I mean it was bad, but I've had worse since, watching any Nicholas Cage film in the last five years, for example, but more the fact that this wasn't the only injection I was having, and over the course of the next hour I ended up with six. One on each side of my upper and lower gums, then one under my tongue and one in the roof of my mouth. By the end of it, not only was I looking like one of those guys in 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' after they get lobotomized, but I was also, effectively, turning into a kitchen strainer.

All the while the dentist constantly asked me if I was "Okay" whilst he continued to stab me with needles, like he had finally got the opportunity to work on a real life voodoo doll and he wasn't going to waste it.

Once all the injections were done and I was now just a lump of mash potato wearing a school uniform, the dentist went in with his pliers and grabbed hold of the first tooth he wanted to remove. "Are you okay?" he asked. With the injections taking effect my speech slurred, so I just did a Thumbs Up. Off he went wrestling with my tooth like Steve Irwin taking on a crocodile.

After half an hour the first tooth was out, proudly displayed in the forceps by the dentist like I'd just gone through labour and he was presenting my new born baby to me. He then moved on to Number 2 and repeated the process.

Once this second one was out, he declared I'd have to come back in a week’s time for the other two. I knew it would mean another two bouts of the Steve Irwin impression, and potentially another bout of me having more needles in my face than Hellraiser.

Anyway, back I went a week later and repeated it all again.

Even the promised McDonald's didn't materialise, as just like after the first time, the thought of having anything near my mouth was enough to make me want to cry into my cavities.

About the Author: Daniel Paul Carey, 31, an advertising professional, lives in Beckenham, Kent, and works in Central London.