Mystery of the Missing Heel in the Universe

Recently, the brain has been quite busy wrapping itself around the book ‘Life, The Universe and Everything’ by Douglas Adams. When I say wrapping itself around, that is a loose word, since the bulk of my reading is conducted in sporadic bursts in the noisiest of places with thousands of people milling around, gently prodding me in the ribs to move on, while somebody looks apologetically as they squeeze their shoes on my feet.

“Sorrreeee!” they smile as they park the foot on mine.

“It’s okaaayyyy!” I respond with a smile struggling through the grimace of pain, and hang on with great resolve in the crowded public transit.

Douglas Adam’s SEP doctrine is interesting. SEP is Somebody Else’s Problem, and we being the self centered goons that we are, anything that is somebody else’s problem we safely ignore, so long as it does not provide one with fodder for thought or comment. We simply go on believing it does not exist.’s_Problem

However, today I can proclaim : Thine eyes have seen the glory of SEP. I was determined to see for myself, and when the mind is made up, it sees the SEP.

I was treated to a 180-pounder tender a shrill “Sorreee” as she pinned her pin-point apology on me in this morning. I was tottering along, after the onslaught, musing on masochistic footwear and how otherwise sunny people willingly jam their feet like sausages into the narrow confines of their footwear, when I was rewarded with a sight I would otherwise have missed.

There was a girl in front of me. She was walking as though no problem existed. Only a problem existed. Yes it did. I saw it. I spotted it. You see one of her shoes had heels like this

The other had heels like this.

Chipped. Broken. Gone. Yet, she artificially pumped her broken heel leg up so she could give the illusion of not having a broken heel. I know how hard it must be walking like that, given that I have solid years of practice to back me up in my claims. Credit: Those vast hours of our youth that we spent on noble pursuits (including walking like air-hostesses, which meant walking around on imaginary heels). I don’t know why in our girlish minds, air hostesses were credited with high heels always, but those were the days of the far away dreams of flight – the unattainable for the average middle class Indian. High heels being equally unattainable, the combination must have been the ultimate fodder for our imagination.

I had an inclination to tap the girl on her shoulder and helpfully tell her that her heel was broken. It would have been priceless to see the look on her face, like she did not know.  Start the ‘Mystery of the Missing Heel in the Universe’ series what?

The world’s craziest drives

The article lists the most thrilling drives in the World.

I don’t believe this list is complete. For one, it does not consider roads such as the Mettupalayam-Ooty highway. I don’t even want to comment on the Himalayan trails, having seen some of them at heart-stopping angles from automobiles defying at least some laws of Physics as they navigate the steep hairpin bends. Not to mention how scenic these drives are.

You know how it is when you plod your child to recite the alphabet in front of reserved strangers merely to break the ice? I used to find the analogy quite apt for the Ashok Leyland buses staggering up particularly trying roads while chatting up unresponsive cliffs. The buses go (Gulp) “See rock face? I can climb” The blighters would outperform themselves as they navigated the steep roads, where visibility boasted near 0, while the Ashok Leyland engineers watched on in admiration as their little babies shone.

These roads sometimes had parapet walls warning them about the road boundaries, but they weren’t much to write home about. They were barely a foot high and helpfully broken in several places. Lane discipline – well, have you driven in India?

How do I know you ask? Let’s say that I have navigated these roads from the view point closest to these Ashok Leyland bus drivers. The buses would be crowded by Indian Standards, not Western ones, and I would nestle up close to that huge blob of an engine by the Driver’s seat. The buses would start from Coimbatore – the plains , as we hill folk liked to call it. The sweltering heat at Coimbatore made folks shy away from that spot because of the warm benign waves the engine generated. Moi, being the brave soul and all that, would stand there dumbly – simply soaking in the heat. As the buses started the steep 14 hair-pin bend ascent into the hills, suddenly, the heat became a good thing. The mists would come rushing in, tingling your senses and taunting them with a cold brush against one’s skin – exposed or otherwise.

I must tell you, the peril seems multifold if you are not the one holding the steering wheel. Nope, you just stand there wishing Friendly Driver Dude  turns the steering wheel at the right moment.

There have been times when I’ve gone in for the scalded bottom phenomenon and sat on the engines. The viewpoint from there was equally fascinating. Thrilling I tell you, simply thrilling – some drivers have driven me to scalded bottom ectasy simply because I could not bear the tension of their last minute maneuvers.

Yet, this road does not make the list – sigh!


Shocking I tell you – Shocking.

This time, it is real.

Mankind is pursuing a macabre race, and is shamelessly analysing TV shows where people are instructed to zap contestants with voltage – shocks for every wrong answer. So, what answers cause death?

Here is an excerpt:

Would you shock someone with potentially lethal amounts of electricity simply because you were told to do it? That’s exactly what the subjects in Stanley Milgrim’s experiments did in the early 1960s. His objective was to test obedience to authority, and the world was surprised to see the results. A majority of ordinary citizens in the test chose to shock an innocent person when they were ordered to by the scientist leading the experiment. The individuals on the receiving end of the powerful shocks were actually actors pretending to suffer, but the subjects believed they were causing the actors real pain throughout the study.

French Television went a step further and aired the show on TV. Of course, they made sure they announced afterward that the contestants were actors and were just acting as though voltage coursed through them. I did not actually see the show, but I’d like to imagine how wrong this show could go

Quiz Master: What is 12345679 * 8?

Contestant: 98765432

ZAP! A shocking voltage shock rips through the contestant’s body, who stabilizes himself after the shock wears off and swears.

“Mad Math Phobiacal Moth eating Mobs! Curse you all into worm-eating oblivion. That is the right answer! Why don’t these guffoons have a calculator before making the decision to hose my life?!”

So it goes…

Croaky gets Raspberry

Something has been bothering me. Rather some things have been bothering me lately. Mr Throat decided to act up. (I really should not say Mr Throat when I am a Mrs/Ms should I?) I could, on the other hand, argue that I can use Mr.Throat as I sound like a ballistic male frog.

I hear my deep, raspy voice go – “*Croak* May I have some water please? *ribbit ribbit*”

Honestly, all that’s left is for a mole to come out with a sprig of parsley, and I can hop my way into Fantasy Land.

I always knew chemicals were used as preservatives in Milk and sprayed on vegetables etc. I remember my mother picking a bone with Gauri-ma or Kulukamma, or whatever her name was, (I don’t feel like wracking the brain for this) that the milk she had given us the day (t) before must have been drawn from Moo on the eve of (t-1) because the milk curdled. Imagine the sacrifice we had to make? We had to settle for Panneer.

I made peace with the fact that milk was being refrigerated and usable for a couple of weeks, but I notice cans of milks with use by dates over a month and half away, and that makes me squeazy squeazier than ever. On Mar 1st, if I see a can of milk telling me to be used by April 25th … (Best sentence completion wins an “Awesome sentence” award from the NourishNCherish blog)

Suddenly, the croaky throat gets a raspberry because I don’t feel like drinking the milk from that can. I’ll just wait for it to age and pick it up closer to Apr 25th and feel good about fresh milk.

Happy 134th Birthday

Google has certainly taught me about the relevance of a number of days I would not have registered in my otherwise dull life. I wonder why they did not tell me yesterday that March 10 1876 was the day Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone.

I brought it up, since I am sure everyone has had the illuminating experience of corresponding with these automated telephones. I had an interesting encounter with one of these yesterday, and I might have considered not cursing the phone on it’s birthday. I don’t think I might have gone so far as to get a phone shaped cake with 134 candles on it, but I certainly would have been kinder in my criticism.

I pick up the phone to talk to a normal person, and I was, as expected, received with an abnormally crisp tone. Listening to the tone with which the message started, one would have thought, the machine senses how important this phone call is, and is certainly going to put me straight through to an Indian in a call center rightaway. Life can be cruel that way.

It launches into its melodrama without further ado.
You get the gist. Now, I am twiddling my thumbs waiting for the operator to pick up. The machine senses that I am getting complacent, and pounds me into action. My senses pick up like an accelerating porsche on an empty road, while I listen to the choices offered.

Readers might be confused that the second and third choices viz. choosing badam cake and chocolate implore you to press 1. I state that merely to drive home the point that it does not matter what you press, the choices are only to sharpen your outlook. Merely testing to see if you are alert. Sometimes people fumble into a drooble riddled sleep induced by inactivity, and that causes delay to the others callers in the queue, because the unfortunate operator, now not only has to wake himself up, but also wake the customer up.

The system, meanwhile continues relentlessly.

Damn it
I am randomly jabbing things on my keypad to see if anything works as a shortcut. #)0

The phone sees what I am trying to do, and laughs mirthlessly. I can hear it boasting to its co-automatic phones that today another customer joined the long lines in the telephonic Hall of Punishment by trying to jump the system
All right – Julius Ceaser Cleopatra Masilamani
I AM SORRY. DID YOU SAY <all right july cider clear mass ill>?
NO! Julius Ceaser Cleopatra Masilamani. * inwardly cursing that at this rate cider or no cider, I will be ill by July.*

I would have bought a towel and thrown it into the arena in a dramatic gesture symbolizing that giving up is better than this, had it not been for the thought that I would have to undergo the previous 20 minutes again, no matter when I start. I summon all the inner strength that is the hallmark of the homosapiens and hold on.

The system then tries horrendous music, cheesy dialogues, mildly affectionate – “YOU ARE AN IMPORTANT PERSON. JUST NOT IMPORTANT ENOUGH FOR US TO CONSIDER. PLEASE DO NOT THINK YOU ARE BEING IGNORED BY ALL, JUST BY US.” etc at me. I hang on. If anything, we alphabet soup names can hang on. No way are we repeating our kindergarden syllabi over the phone again (A is for apple, B is for Bat)

Finally, a tired sounding human voice breaks in. I could cry with relief and joy. The rationale is, if you are willing to put up with this much, you must really be interested in talking. So, they put me on hold while they transfer me to the relevant department.

Happy 134th Birthday Dear Phone.

Happy Women’s Day

Happy Women’s Day to all you wonderful women out there.

I have been getting lots of mails telling me people are proud of me because I cry when I am sad and laugh when something is funny. Also, my hugs are supposed to be fused with the magical healing touch. Bruises heal themselves. I wonder how I broke the cup the other day with all these abilities I possess. Maybe, I did not hug the shards of the broken cup hard enough.

Apparently, all this makes me a wonderful woman. I also eat when I am hungry – I suppose that makes me more human.

The mails I am receiving also tell me as a woman I don’t quite know my power or capacity – I agree. Once when I was around a decade old, my friend and I had a dosa eating competition to which my sister unwittingly offered to be the dosa maker. I did surprise myself, and lost by a small margin, but my dosa competitor was a year older than I was.  I don’t think the sister has learned to view the dosa tava with the same benevolence since. If I remember right, I groaned all evening clutching my stomach in a wonderful show of feminine bravery.

Which all brings me to the question, do Men have a day dedicated for them?

There is an International Men’s Day. It is celebrated on November 19th, and was started as recently as 1999 – almost a century after their Women counterparts started celebrating themselves.

Frivolous as the content of this post is, I do hope my female brethen are uplifted from the horrors of misogyny inflicted upon them by men and members of their own creed. I’d like to end this post on this note (Seneca)

Dum inter homines sumus, colamus humanitatem

As long as we are human, let us be humane

“I am going to read a book”

A lot of non-retired folks I know dream of retirement. The quiet mornings, the relaxed lunches and the walks.

The retirees I know are in one of two phases.
1) Yearning to get back to work where they miss the hustle and bustle of a daily routine, and just can’t get used to the fact that nobody is expecting them at an office when the clock strikes. I call these withdrawal symptoms and hope they would get to the contentment stage without causing themselves too much harm.
2) Relaxed, like they’ve surfed the turf before. The looks on their faces tell you they’ve seen the turbulence and rode out the calm. It is now their time to sit on the beach and watch the waves idly lapping the shores. Contentment poring out of them in short.

I dream of retirement too. Yes, so what if I am young? The promising youth looks forward to his future does he not? Many a time, when the early morning doesn’t look enticing to me, I fantasize that I would absolutely loll in bed when I retire. I would get up and stick my tongue out at the alarm clock and tuck myself back in with glee. The rooster can retire when I retire for all I care. I might even dropthe alarm clock in a pot of oil, and cover the pot with a mattress after switching the thing off, that is. Purely from a closure point of view.

Just when my fantasies really take root, I find a disturbing article telling me that older people need less sleep. Why?! I thought old age was the second childhood and all that, and I remember being told to sleep for a solid 18 hours or a number near there.

To top this, I come back from a the retiree’s paradise – Garden Island of Hawaii, Kauai. The whole island is full of migratory retirees, who spend the harsh Winter months in the warmenvirons of Hawaii. One couple stayed next door, and they gave me a dose of my paati and thaatha in shorts on the beach.

After the usual courtesies have been done with, I ask the thaatha, “So what are your plans for today?”

I should probably tell you at this point that our plans included, among other things a 5 hour round trip drive to a Canyon, with 3 trails to see, 5 different waterfalls, a trip to the beach, some serene walks in the forest followed by a Hawaiian dance performance Luau or something. In other words, packed is the word. If we’d had another half an hour, we’d have thrown in a coral reef exploration program alongwith Scuba diving or snorkeling. But we were firm, we were going there to relax, and relax we shall. No Coral reef explorations. Just relax!

Bear me while I give you a feeling of a no interruption narrative, I’ll ask the Thaatha again,
“So what are your plans for today?”
“Oh, I am going to read a book.”

I have that look on my face where I am waiting for the sentence to finish. I am leaning my neck forward and waiting for the remaining, and then realise that good ol’ thaatha has finished his plans. There is nothing more to the day. He does not plan to save the planet today or crack his back overcoming some imaginary roadblock. He just plans to read a book.  Lovely!

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