The ‘Bong’ conspiracy

Somehow this blog is becoming very regionalistic …er…there is no word like that, so what I meant was I tend to write about the various regions that my batchmates belong to and their sweet quirkiness (this is to ensure I am not on any hit list). Well, anyways, the Mallus have made their peace with me. So here come the Bongs.

One of the important learning in all this research of festival-hopping, good-food-hogging and freebies-hoarding is that it has provided impetus to my new theory. It concerns the clan of the ‘psuedo-belongers’ . Now, the pseudo-belongers encompass those individuals who pretend to belong to a region or a state and claim fervently that they are the only people on this earth who can take the culture forward. Now, Pseudo-Mallu Shruti who claimed plenty of blogspace in my previous post is one of the forerunner for the Presidency of this clan. Alas, she now faces competition from a very strongly-built conternder. Ladies and Gentlemen, put your hands together for Priti – PseudoBong!

For my international readers from regions of the street behind Hinjewadi and the Paan-shop owner in a region as far as Pune Railway stations, I would like to elucidate what  a Bong is. Though my seven year old neighbour back home insists it is the sound of the doorbell (Bing Bong) and some South Indians tend to think it is the surname of the next revered Chinese Martial arts sensation, a Bong is of course, a Bengali. Bangaali, shout my Bengali friends. Well, all the same. My jaws are still aching from trying to pronounce ‘Raashogholla’ after a couple of them made their way to my stomach.

Psuedo-Bong Priti, firebong Polo, DemureBong Bidisha and SeriousBong Pramit were the leaders of the gang that made its way to the Pandaals. The Bong women looked beautiful in saris and with their poetic ‘O re baba’ and ‘Ki korchish’.

Anyways, after the Mallus in the college created enough hype and hoopla around ‘Onam’ by offering a sumptuous lunch, shouting Mallu slogans generally and creating a great Pookkalam, it awakened the great Bong spirit. And before we could say ‘Kolkatta Knight Riders’, coupons bearing the face of Goddess Durga had been thrust into our hands and a trip to one of the Durga Pooja Pandaals had been announced.

And so, on a sunny morning, after writing an exam on another Human Resource subject, 13 warriors (note the unlucky number) set out on a bus ride to pray and of course, eat some good Macher-Jhol. All was well until the group had to split to take autos to the Pandaal venue. God decided to have some fun and hence a Mallu, a Psuedo-Bong and a Punjaban ended up being in the same auto. Now, the address specified in clear crisp language to this myriad gang was ‘Congress Bhavan’. However, I tend to think it was the fault of the Mallu that the auto landed up in ‘Vishwa Bhawan’. It is not an unfair assault considering that one of the Mallus had sent a waiter to ICU after communicating or trying to communicate to him in Hindi a while ago.

Waiter : Sir, what would you like to have?

Mallu peers down at the elegant menu from left to right and then right to left. Then, he decides to finally use the weapon called ‘half-baked Hindi’ at the waiter.

Mallu (with a serious face) : Kebaab mein kaun hai?

Waiter is rushed to the hospital while the Mallu hunts for his Hindi dictionary to figure what exactly went wrong.

Anyways when this quarrelsome gang finally reached the venue, I must have heard constant chanting from the autodriver. Now that every one was on venue, we decided to proceed towards the main stage where the idol was placed. Or atleast, we tried to proceed. The only impediment was Arun Kumar, fellow tamilian and mad statistics freak.

Arun Kumar deserves special mention for two things. One for his love for statistics and another for his ability to single-handedly cause the extinction of all fowl, mutton and beef on this planet. We have often wondered whether the ragged jet black hair actually hides signs of being a carnivore. Hence, when Arun landed on this Pandaal and at once, his carnivore instincts were switched on and all the Bengali food stall owners began to stock up with trepidation. Finally, we left any hope of convincing Arun to pray and prostrate as he went from stall to stall, emptying ‘Chicken Laalipaps’, ‘Maacher Jhol’ and the likes.

After a bit of praying and trying to block images of tempting Rasgollas, we joined Arun on a sweet expedition. All of us took different sweets and tried to compare which one was better. Here is when Arun and Hazel, a firebrand from Punjab debate on the wars similar sounding words can create.

(Rasgollas are passed. See, if you have a problem with me not calling them Roshogollas, I really can’t do anything about it as this is the closest I can get to anglicized Bangaali. Anyways, the group is trying various types of rasgollas.)

Hazel : Hmm….

Arun : Hmm….

Group : Hmmm…

(Everyone enjoys the sweet moment. Then the war begins.)

Hazel : This is gud. (Note ‘gud’ is not a spelling mistake.)

Arun : No..no…mine is good.

Hazel : No, yours is sugar. Mine is gud.

Arun : Arre, everything is sugar in this sweet. But mine is definitely good!

There is a war between the tamilian and punjaban and when there is an impending war, one of us intervenes to tell them that the ‘gud’ Hazel is referring to is  ‘jaggery’ in Hindi while Arun with his miniscule vocabulary of Hindi interprets it as ‘good’ as in ‘good and bad’.

Anyways, there is a lot of chortling and giggling, and peace prevails.

After the customary ‘anjali’ that was offered to the goddess, we returned to the college. One the bus ride way back home, we discussed the various traits of various sun signs and sang meaningful songs like ‘Chandni Chowk to China’ and ‘Yeh Kya ho raha hai’ from ‘Hum Kisise Kum Nahin’. The bus driver honked deliberately to drown our voices out but when you have ‘thunderbird’ Michelle on the team, it does give a sonorous effect.

P.S. Why is the post called ‘The Bong Conspiracy’. Because while we were returning to college, the Bongs had conspired and made their way to the next pandaal. Last, we heard, there were screams of ‘Get the B-School Bongs back to campus’ coming our way. Believe us, we are trying!

Special mention goes to Meera for entertaining the overtures of a hot-blooded Bengali Male who kept looking her way and finally hugged her. Alas, the five-year old was called back  by his doting father.

Neeraj was very happy to receive a notice from ‘The Bangaali Marriage Bureau’ that was distributed free. I heard he had collected quite a few of them and he even posed for a picture with them. Our best wishes are with him. But alas, Bipasha is away in Mumbai.

The story of the song that vanished…(or was cursed to vanish)

Ours is a residential B-School. Actually the ‘finest residential B-School, if I were to refer to the prospectus. Anyways, concentrate on the word ‘residential’. It means you reside on the campus. In a single room. With two other people.

Anyways, the point of the post is to condone the sad demise of one on my favourite songs. Sigh! To tell a long story short, here goes…

Not long ago, a tamilian (Me), a Bong (Roomie 1) and a Rajasthani (Roomie 2) lived in peaceful coexistence and the only source of debate centered around whether Wentworth Miller should grow some hair. But alas, a day came when the Tamilian’s playlist on her laptop chose to play a tamil track. It was ‘Munbe Vaa’  from the movie ‘Sillunu Oru Kadhal’. Anyways, for the non-tamil folks, this is a melodious track by A R Rahman. So Roomie 1 and Roomie 2 freeze and are mersmerized by the song. If luck would have had its way, the tamilian should have ensured that the track never played again and continued to reside in her playlist forever. But that was not to be.

Roomie 1 and 2 started humming the track in regular intervals. There is a particular line in the song which goes ‘Sundara Maligai’ meaning ‘beautiful jasmine’. But Roomie 1, true to her Bong roots, starts screaming ‘Sunderbani, Sunderbani’ instead. When the tamilian tries to convince her that it is not ‘Sunderbani’ or any other region in West Bengal, she screams back that it does sound exactly like that.

Meanwhile, Roomie 2 who is known for her eccentric music taste ‘read love-songs of any type’, has decided to follow Roomie 1 and has gone ‘Sunderbani, Sunderbani’ too. The tamilian gives up in vain.

And that is how the song started to lose its charm to the tamilian. For at unearthly times, from the eeriest of places, both her roomies would chant ‘Sunderbani, Sunderbani’ at the top of their voices while humming the song so out of tune that Rahman would consider moving out of India.

In a last attempt to salvage the pride of the song, the tamilian scours the internet for the english lyrics of the song and mails them to the roomies. UNESCO’s help is also sought to maintain and retail lyrical culture. But of course, they have better things to do.

The anxious tamilian looks at her roomies in anticipation as they read the mail.

Roomie 1: No….

Roomie 2 : I don’t think so….

Tamilian : What?

Roomie 1: These are not the actual lyrics. They don’t sound like that to me.

(Roomie 1 tries singing her distorted version again. Of course they don’t match with the actual lyrics. Why? Because Roomie 1’s version is NOT tamil, it is gobbledygook.)

Roomie 2 : Yeah, I like what I sing…It matches to what I understand of it.

Tamilian : Of course it doesn’t! You don’t know Tamil!

But no amount of despair or agitation works. And the song breathes its last sigh in the playlist of the tamilian as she decides to give it a miss after listening to the distorted version by her roomies.

And that is how, the song has gone missing from my playlist. Meanwhile my roomies are planning to acquaint me with some of their favourite songs like ‘Tuuuu’ by Sonu Nigam and ‘Ay hay Ay hay hay’ from ‘God tussi great ho!’. Hmm…where are those earplugs now?

Marketing blogs : Elusive search for a honest view from a reader

I don’t know why but of late I have had a lot of random conversations that seem to be inane and of no use to anyone on this planet. Well, why am I blogging about it? Well, the onam post generated quite a bit of hype because the people mentioned in the post think it is their rakhi-sawant-moment-of publicity in the online world. I herewith declare that my blogging rises above useless, sensational and exaggerated blogging. My good friend, Priti ,who I think is not so good anymore after this post, thinks this blog is plainly useless. Yet, all this has strangely motivated me to write more.

Me : Priti, do you think I should promote this blog incessantly? Look at this blogger, his blog is all over the place.

Priti doesn’t reply for she is frowning at why she hasn’t yet received her file via bluetooth. After a while of pretending like Bill Gates working on the first Windows problem, she realizes that the bluetooth device has not been switched on. I, meanwhile, wait patiently for an answer.

Me: Er…Priti, what do you think?

Priti: Haan? What?

Me : (My ears are burning out of anger. But I am praying that all the ‘shavaasana’ that I did during the first semester has given me higher powers of endurance.) About the promotion of blogs? Or marketing them well?

Priti is considered to be marketing-wise in the batch owing to her high-energy yapping skills and her ability to talk 3% of sense in every monologue that she delivers. By MBA standards, that is an achievement.

Priti : Er….

Me : Hey! You can be frank and tell me if it is desperate.

Priti giggles. This is a signal of more guffaws to come as the next fifteen minutes are going to be interspersed with spasms of maniac laughter which is Priti’s way of indicating that the humour she is spewing is earth-shattering funny.

Priti : He he…..you know!!!  Ha Ha Ha…..I really don’t care. How do I care how you market your blog? I can’t read my study material properly. Do you think  I will read your blog? Ho Ho Ho…..Arre, if you write well, then congratulations to you, why do you have to force them on the poor public ? Ho..Ho..Ho…(This is the point where I develop a dislike for Santa Claus)….Ho…Ho…Ho…Like it is going to make me more intelligent? Gawk!….

This is the point where maniacal laughter fills the room. I sit in deep thought for sometime and look at the chortling apparition in front of me. I decide to go somewhere else where talking about blogs doesn’t incite laughing bouts or atleast not scary laughing bouts.

Why is it so difficult to find good honest views from blog readers?

Parallel Universes in Chaos…

It is 2:00pm and a drowsy batch of 40 marketing students are fighting to stay awake in yet another lecture of SAP. Those who are awake are trying to figure the sense of pricing and customer orders. The SAP Professor is meanwhile, lecturing on ways to supply the right material to the vendors.

SAP Prof: We are now going to talk about an important topic.

Unidentified voice on microphone :We shall talk about gtalk.

Class wakes up instantly. Cause they know that an unidentified voice has just permeated the lab. The SAP Prof looks equally confused. He continues nevertheless.

SAP Prof: Now we are going to create an order.

Unidentified Voice : aaaah!

As everyone starts giggling, it dawns on us that there is a cross-connection between the sound receivers of the SAP lab and the adjacent computer lab. The speakers here are relaying the voice of the very-entertaining marketing professor who is teaching the executive batch about marketing research in the computer lab not very far away.

SAP Prof (Confused) : I think that there is a cross-connection.

UV: Is that okay?

SAP Prof (continues, oblivious to the roaring class) : We pay 100 euros to the customer through this process.

UV : Acha chalo, 50 rupees for toothpaste. Are we alright?

SAP Prof : Can we do something about this?

UV : We shall not move out of the lab. Hope you have come prepared with the material?

SAP Prof : Anways, let us revise what we have done…

UV: What is the central tendency of the toothpaste used by students in this class? Nominal or Ordinal?

One student finally gets up and goes to the computer lab to inform the other Professor that his voice has permeated walls.

We suddenly hear an astonished exclaim on speakers as realization dawns on the marketing professor.

UV:Is it? How does it happen like that? I hope it doesnt get in way of your placement preparation!

The class roars with laughter. Things are done to fix the problem but they dont work. So throughout Purchase orders, cutomer numbers and goods issues, we keep hearing the story of how Colgate, Babool and Meswak can be slotted into quadrants.

An afternoon well spent, I must say!

Onaashamsakal-Part 2

I thought that certain earth-shattering events that happened yesterday needed a worthy mention for the benefit of the global society. Hence this post.

Jagadish, Vandana and Michelle are the ‘original’ SCMHRD organizers for the Onam celebrations this year. Well, Michelle can’t stop talking, the only time she didnt speak was probably when the admissions team drugged her to maintain a one-minute silence for some cause. Or so I think. When Vandana speaks, it is a culmination of Mallu land meets American Idol, its musical. Well, Jagadish thinks speaking is below his dignity. It is a nod for yes, two nods for no and a grunt for a long answer. Herewith, I am going to be officially banned from the Gulf countries for anti-mallu sarcasm.

Anyways, the Pookkalam or the floral decorations were a hit. Almost anybody and everybody was in the atrium either chopping flowers and leaves or simply learning malayalam to give us moral support. Even the canteen guys were asking who Manmooty was.

Getting non-mallus to say ‘Pookalam’ is a great game. Catch hold of one of them and ask them to say it right. If they say it in three chances, then they get one more banana for lunch. We try.

Non-mallu 1: Poolokam?

We reject.

Non-Mallu 2 : Pooka lamb?

We think she might be related to Minisha Lamba. Yet we reject.

Non-Mallu 3 : Poo….uff just let me go.

We give him a clap for being honest.

But there is a problem with the fact that India has more than twenty states. People in states below Mumbai call all the states down south  ‘South India’ and vice verca all South Indians think Bengalis, Gujaratis and North-eastern people are ‘North Indians’. So, you hear comments like ‘Is this floral decoration a hit in Hyderabad?’ or ‘How come people dont wear these white and golden border saris in Bangalore?’. Despite four states warring down south over Cauvery, Namitha and Rajinikanth, all the South Indians decided to get together and hold a class on the topic ‘South India is made of four different states’.

The best part of Onam, appart from the beautiful black-eyed women (according to one of my male friends) is the food. So there was the Sadhya, the traditional Onam lunch that was served from 12:30pm in the mess.

Here, a special mention goes to Shruti, a pseudo-mallu. Now, psuedo-mallus are a clan that are as mallu as french fries are french. They are bred in states other than Kerala and appam is probably the ony word in their dictionary. Somehow this clan just has Shruti as its top member at the moment though I am identifying potential candidates. We shall come to Shruti later.

As the zillion dishes were laid on the banana leaves, all the non-mallus started questioning on what everything was. Invariably, most questions were directed at Shruti who happened to be serving.

Question to Shruti : Can I get more of this brown sweet liquid?

Of course, Shruti doesnt know the name of the sweet brown liquid, hence she runs about frantically for the person serving the same. By the time, the name of the delicacy is identified, we have resigned ourselves to plain water. But Shruti is successful and comes running with it. Then, we ask her for the ‘dish which tastes like pineapple jelly’. And blink! she’s gone again.

Meanwhile, the mallus are at their roaring best, shouting ‘Payasam! Rasam! Sambar!’ as other veshti and mundu-donned mallus scurry serving them to a hungry batch. Incidentally, rice is called ‘choru’ in malayalam. Why is this important? Read on.

We are in the midst of the meal when a burly mallu next to us starts screaming ‘choru, choru’. Of course, lucky south indians we are, we realize he is asking for rice to be served.

The non-mallus however have started sweating. One of my non-mallu asks me if stealing of food is a part of tradition and starts to eat hurriedly just in case his food disappears. He thinks ‘choru’ is the mallu version of ‘chori’.

I don’t bother to answer. For he has lost himself in the payasam and I dont have the energy after such a sedating meal.

Jagadish, Vandana and Michelle are the warriors in the forefront and are talking, serving and glaring at you to finish your food at the same time.

All in all, it was a wonderful celebration and we had loads of fun. Long live malluland and all the SCMHRD mallus!!

P.S. Next morning, post-onam celebrations, I meet Shruti.

Shruti : Why did’nt you come for the Malayalam movie screening?

Me: I had class. Who starred in it?

Shruti : Manmohan…

Me: I know Manmooty. Who is Manmohan?

Shruti : Arre, the other famous actor. How come you dont know Manmohan? He has starred in tamil movies also. Sad…

Me: Er…sorry (I rack my brains furiously in the meantime for Manmohan. I can only remember the blue-turban prime minister.)

Shruti : Oh! Sorry his name is Mohanlal. I get confused with these names.

Me: (I can’t say anything as I am thinking of the Pseudo-Mallu Nobel Prize. We have a contender here.)

Onaashamsakal!!

It is 6:30 in the morning. I and Neha are in the atrium in the academic block, eyes half open, cutting flower petals and leaves. It is Onam and we are making the pookalam. There are 3 mallus around us, in various stages of sprightliness. I think they are enough to invade another gulf country. We ask them to sing some Onam songs. A techno mallu plays them on iTunes instead.
Meanwhile Neha and I are deciding on ways to keep awake. Both of us have slept 8 hours between us, she had four and I had four.

There has been a lot of silence since we started the preparations. I try my hand at conversation.

Me: How was your business policy class presentation?

She : It went well…..(long pause as she makes effort to speak.) How was yours?

Me: Good.

We continue to do our job. It is a while before Neha speaks.

She : We were in the same group , right?

I realise that we were. The swine flu prevalent in Pune must have some memory-related side effects.

We continue to make the flower rangoli.  Aah….Happy Onam!!

Marathon mazza!

There is a marathon being organized in Bangalore and it is officially a ‘10km’ marathon. I happened to discuss this with the other summer interns during coffee and Abby went mad.

Abby : Officially, marathons are supposed to be for 42.195 km. (and he glares)
Me: Well, There is no long-stay make-up that lasts for such a distance!

Abby bends his head down and goes into his pensive moods. I think these are just pretensions to hide his snoring away to glory.

Meanwhile Sud has his own reasons for refusing to run.

“Don’t expect me to grace the occasion unless I see Piggy Chops gracing the occasion.” He says and starts looking morose.

I inform him that Deepika Padukone is going to be there but it ain’t enough for Mr-I-admire-piggy-chops.
Abby however seems to have woken up and has already proclaimed that Deepika is a kannadiga. Hey, I want Rajnikanth, too!

Rekha has her own reasons but I refrain from asking her. For I know that if she runs, the number of ambulances called to the spot must be multiplied. Extra security personnel will have to be called in and the Indian army might have to descend in a million choppers. For history has winced every time Rekha has moved, spilling coffee(others’, not hers, mind you) tumbled over children and increased the heart attack rates among the elderly. I think they must put a clause under the hoarding of the banners reading ‘Rekha not allowed’. (The filmy Rekha, can however be allowed. I think she might just make it to the awards ceremony after she has applied her lipstick)

Cutting to the gyaan, Marathon is actually named after legend of the Greek messenger Pheidippides, who burst into the assembly of Athens to announce that the ‘Battle of Marathon’ had been won against the Persians. Lucian of Samosata (2nd century AD) also gives the story but names the runner Philippides (not Pheidippides). (Samosata?? I knew Indian snacks had a long and great history.)

The distance of the marathon was never fixed. So if you were a organizer before the 1996 Olympics, any distance covered by foot was considered a marathon. I humbly declare that I was a winner of a million such marathons when I beat my neighbor’s toddler, Montu in ‘marathons’ from his door to the elevator. But sadly, Montu soon grew up to waddle faster than me and the official distance of a marathon was fixed at 42.195 kms in 1996.

Ah well, I think it is not long before we have a short and glamorous version of the Marathon called IPM or the Indians pramanit Marathon. It shall cover the distance from a coffee pub to a spa as runners need pampering after the ordeal from the flash bulbs of the paparazzi. I vote for Lalit Modi to organize the sport. Anyone is welcome to bid for the runners who shall specifically be hot young Miss-India hopefuls and Manisha Koirala. Manisha Koirala just for her belief that ‘Aaj mein aage, duniya hai peeche’. ‘Khamoshi’ chayi rahe! The Miss-India hopefuls because they can get more participation in the form of the young lads, producers and the general crowd chasing them.

Young hot Indian men with any resemblance to John Abraham or Abhishek Bachan are also welcome. Bidding for these runners will can only be done by anyone who has a chopper to spare, has acted in 2 hit and 6 flop bollywood movies or has bawled and won an international reality show.

As I propose this idea as my latest business plan, my friends think I should look at another majors than marketing except one guy. But he is willing to support me only if I support his idea of ‘India pramanit fishing league’ where players shall catch the only remaining two fishes in Chowpatty beach. I am thinking of a revamp of my idea and some more campaigning for the same.