Zero to Six in Five and a Bit Minutes.


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Note teeth…. ( count two )

You already know that I was born.

“Well, duh!”, you say, “how else would you be writing this rubbish?”

Yes, your head is screwed on right and all those wires and things are mostly connected right. However, the mere fact that you’re still continuing to read this means that all is not well. I mean, come on, would any right thinking person actually read this? They would? You insist you’re completely sane and normal? Well, you’d say that, wouldn’t you? Only the sanest people are insane and only the insane call themselves totally sane. To be normal is to be insane. Personally, I worry about those who call themselves normal.  They really don’t know what you and I know. It’s so much more fun being abnormal, like me ….

Now, you’re wondering what that title means. Zero to Six in Five and a Bit Minutes means just that. I will give you a summary of my years from from Age of Zero to the Age of Six in Ten Minutes of Writing. ( Not Zorro, Zero! )  It may take you longer to read, but hell, that’s not my problem. You should have paid attention in English class, read more books, improved your comprehension and generally been a model student. Alas, I should talk, for I did none of the above and remained an average-to-slightly-below-average student. I have the marks to prove it, so there.

Anyway, I was born. This happened at 11:11:11 AM in an hospital on Ajmal Khan Road, in Karol Bagh, New Delhi, India, on my mother’s 39th birthday, and I well remember the party got a little out of hand. Mother Earth came knocking the next day and as the walls shook and the ground moved, my mother, so she said, made sure I wasn’t switched with another baby, an event that is distressingly common in India, if Bollywood movies are to be believed. ( I know, I know it’s a run on and on and on sentence…. )

I then ran around the neighbourhood, snotty, sometimes barefoot, in itchy wool pants in winter. Fought other little boys in ditches, had my head split open, managed to spill cement & lime dust from the construction site next door into my eyes, burned my little hand on a hot iron and generally made a nuisance of myself.

The family already had 7 kids. Yes, I counted and there were indeed 7 kids already in the house when I arrived. When I first started going to school in Kindergarten at the Frank Anthony Public School, my parents proudly boasted representation in every other class all the way up the school. We walked to school together. Older ones leading younger ones and so on down the line, until all of us were across the Ring Road and safely into school.

All this happened in Delhi. When I was six we moved to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India on the western bulge of India. This was a completely different kettle of gathia and will be covered in another post, possibly titled “Six to Nine in Seven and a Half Minutes”.

Until then, or until my autobiography, titled “One Bluish Egg – A Faded Memory” comes out, ( RSN… ) I shall have to leave you with this short read. Disclaimer:This post is a plug. It is an advertisement, a commercial, if American.

It is short, isn’t it?

By the standards of this blog, it certainly is.

We may be turning over a new leaf. It is a new year after all.

Well, you never know.

Stay tuned.

Oh, and Happy New Year!

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Immigrant Tales – Departure


International Driving Permit photo. ( A waste of time getting that.. )
International Driving Permit photo. ( A waste of time getting that.. )

Actually, the notes are not early. They’re late. Late by about 19 years now, will be exactly 19 years late on the 2nd of June 2016. Yes, you are very correct in your maths. I arrived in the great country of Canada on the 2nd of June, 1997. ( Sorry. I wrote this when the post was titled “Early Notes”. I forgot to edit this. I saw it later and felt obliged to offer some explanation and not leave you mystified.. How nice of me, no?) 

Before I left Calcutta, I inquired about taking some foreign exchange with me. The Reserve Bank of India was stingy about people taking foreign exchange with them. I was directed to the American Express office, where the clerk looked at my requisition and asked “How much do you need?”

“How much can I get?”

“Show me your passport and visa.”

I did. He opened up the folded Immigration Visa. Folded it back.

“500 bucks in USD. That’s all you are entitled to take with you.”

“You kidding me? It’s my money! Why can’t I take my own money with me?”

“RBI rules. Sorry bud.”

“Oh! OK, give me what you can.”

Appropriate forms were filled out. Rubber stamps went on my passport and 30 minutes later I had USD 500 in my pocket. All the money I was allowed to take with me to start my new life in a strange, cold land. A rather cold start to my immigration story.

At the airport, I found out I was eligible for a further USD 50, so I changed my INR for USD 50, bringing the total amount of cash I was carrying to a whopping USD550. I was booked on an Air India flight to Toronto; a barnstorming flight, as we shall see. An Airbus A310 left Calcutta on the 1st of June, at 8:30 in the evening with me on board. It landed in Mumbai about 2.5 hours later. I was off loaded into a transit lounge in prep for the plane that would take me to London, UK and onwards to Toronto, ON. I took the time to visit the washroom, receive my boarding pass for the onward flight and headed down to the exit to the gates. This is where the uniformed, gun carrying dudes at the gate stopped me and asked me to show my boarding pass. I did so. They stiffened up and became alert.

“How did you get here?”, they asked.

“On a plane from Calcutta. I’m on my way…”, he cut me off.

“Answer my question! How did you reach this gate?”, he was inistent.

“I told you. I came on the flight from Calcutta and they offloaded me into this lounge.”

“Ok. So you came from Calcutta?”

“Yes.”

“But how did you get into this lounge?”

“I told you.”

“Who let you into this lounge?”

“The airline folks did. There was no other way to go except into this lounge.”

“Wait here. Do NOT wander off. I need to talk to my supervisor.”

He nodded at his companion, who took up a position of alertness. An intense conversation ensued over his walkie talkie and 2 minutes later, the supervisor showed up. My friend showed him my boarding pass. Supe looked at, flipped it over looked at the other side. Flipped it over. Held it up to the light. Peered at it again. Then he looked me in the eye and asked his first question.

“How did you get here?”

I took a deep breath; repeated my story.. flight from Calcutta.. on to London, Toronto..

He was unimpressed.

“You cannot have this boarding pass and claim that you came from Calcutta and are enroute to London and Toronto. It is impossible. So how did you get in here?”

I felt like a gold fish in a bowl. “Hey look! A security guard!”

He saw my bemused expression.

“Look,”, he said, “your boarding pass is not a normal boarding pass. If you were a genuine transit passenger it would have a big bold T printed here.”

I looked at it. He was right. The T was missing.

“Where did you get this boarding pass?”

“At the Air India counter. Over there. I pointed behind me.”

“Come with me.”

I walked over with him to the Air India counter, where the lovely lady in the Air India sari was reaching for the phone. She replaced it as we came up to her.

The supe showed her my boarding pass.

“Oh, good,” she said, “I was just going to page you, Mr Sharma! We gave you the wrong boarding pass.”

She took my pass, tore it up, reached under her desk and gave me a new one. This one had a nice bold T printed on it.

Just past midnight, I was on the plane, foreign bound.

Sort of. For the plane headed off to New Delhi, where we were not allowed to get off. Some more passengers entered. Finally, around 5:30am we took off for London on an Air India 747-400. Around 8am, about 12 hours after I had left Calcutta, I left Indian airspace for the first time as an immigrant.

Immigrant Tales will continue. Same batty blog, same batty writer. Come back and read as I recount every hour of the journey to London, the off and on trek through the lounge there and the landing in Toronto.

India in SriLanka 2015


2-1 to India and an overseas series win after a long time. Does it partially take away the horror of the 4-0 England trip and the equally horrible Australian trip?

The England trip I was lenient about. There were loads of injuries to key players and it’s England where India hasn’t done particularly well. ( Summer of 42, anyone?) Of course, Rahul Dravid made it look easy and I like him, so it was painful, but not a disaster. Australia was. Even Dravid struggled and retired. Tendulkar should have Continue reading “India in SriLanka 2015”

Roti Shapes and the Brain


Deutsch: Chapati / Roti / Indisches Fladenbrot
Deutsch: Chapati / Roti / Indisches Fladenbrot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So the question asked is this “Do round rotis taste better than non-round ones?”.

And that is an interesting, very interesting, question. It brings to the fore many concepts that we possibly take for granted, but perhaps should review more often. So let’s take a look at the question and break it down.

First, we consider the definition of “roti”. Does this include Continue reading “Roti Shapes and the Brain”

Insights


English: Graphic illustrating the percentages ...
English: Graphic illustrating the percentages of public opinions on the likelihood of some scientists falsifying global warming research. Based on Rasmussen polling of 1,000 American adults conducted July 29-30, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WordPress tells me that Wednesday is the best day for readers of #SloWord. 28% of the readers come to #SloWord and read what is there to be read on #SloWord on Wednesdays. It also tells me that 9% of the readers read #SloWord at 11:00pm. It would be reasonable to say then #SloWord helps some Continue reading “Insights”

Salman Khan


The SloMan fought off the PeevedPunjabi’s strident requests to write about this stupid actor and his trial for killing someone while driving drunk. Instead, it was given to Unclejee to write about this.

Read that post here: https://unclejee.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/salman-khan/

Do let Unclejee know what you think, especially if you’re a Salman Khan fan.

#CWC15 – Ind v SA


Any dry throats and thumping hearbeats at the start of the game became dryer and thumpier as Rohit left early. With that, the game was afoot, as Holmes used to say, or so we are told by Conan Doyle. This was the other marquee matchup in Pool B, ranking in importance second only to the Ind v Pak affair. ( for Indians and Pakistanis anyway..)

Indian Batting: Continue reading “#CWC15 – Ind v SA”

about the news from India


The citizens have taken to the streets again – this time the country is India. Slightly at odds with the ‘go-get-them’ approach that has permeated the middle class in recent years, the people have raised the issue of corruption within the government and the movement has gained momentum with the usual theatrics that Indians have perfected over the years – hunger strikes, civil disobedience, rhetoric, songs, statements and counter-statements.

A bill to counter corruption within government ranks was first tabled in 1968, as India attained the age of majority. Since then it has been brought out, dusted off and discussed at irregular intervals. The latest bout has garnered more support than previous attempts and it would be interesting, sociologically speaking, to analyze the reasons why.The social networks have allowed people to say things they would not otherwise say to the general public, and the overall sense of being a part of a movement, coupled with a bout of nationalism mixed with a soupcon of naivete have contributed to previous apathetic, apolitical people heading out to be a part of various demonstrations.

At the centre of the controversy are the contents of the bill. It seeks to create a Super-Body that will watch over the government and it’s officials and be accountable to the highest ranking bureaucrat in the land. The government is seeking to exempt the Prime Minister and the ministers and the judiciary from the provisions of the law. The popular movement has banded under the chief activist.The Slo-Man, however, is not convinced that such a body would be successful. It will also be a government body, notwithstanding the attempt to make it accountable not to the Prime Minister but to the Cabinet Secretary, the highest ranking civil officer. The thinking is that this reporting structure will allow the Super-Body to function without let or hindrance in its efforts to police the government – comprising the civil service, the judiciary and elected members of parliament. The Slo-Man cannot comprehend how such a body will help. A seven-member body has been proposed and of course there will be further debate about who gets to be on it. But the seven member body will have to respond to complaints.

Anyone who has seen a defect database will appreciate the point the Slo-Man is making. A database of the scale that would be needed boggles the mind. In a country that adopted redtapeism and gave it maturity on a scale unprecedented, the Slo-Man will wait to see what methods are proposed for raising complaints.

Assuming that a citizen is able to log his complaint, the complaint will have to taken up by someone, possibly categorized (there are provisions for penalties for “frivolous complaints”) and then investigation can commence. The Slo-Man assumes that the seven-member body will not actually perform the executive function of complaint analyses, categorization, investigation and ultimate disposal. The Slo-Man can see the impending creation of a “complaints department” and gainful employment for a host of civil servants.

And when that happens, who guarantees that these officers are incorruptible? In a land where baksheesh is normal, a tipoff to the complained-against and a possible categorization of “frivolous” is obtained.

Indeed who polices the Super-Body? The Slo-Man can see a time when the sons and daughters of the members of the Super-Body become super-children, able to move without impunity into bullying, influence peddling and in extreme cases criminal activities.

Animal Farm?

Or maybe the Slo-Man who lives thousands of miles away on the other side of the world is wrong. He hopes, fervently, that he is indeed mistaken, uninformed and somehow this movement will finally reduce corruption, for removal is impossible.

The Slo-Man waits and wonders – maybe readers can enlighten him.