Mostly Thoughtless

Tam Brahm, thank you ma'am

Thursday, May 26, 2005

No Part Points!!

The Quiz Foundation of India (Chennai Chapter) is proud to announce the first edition of 'The QFI Open Quiz 2005'.

Apart from being original, well researched and immensely entertaining, this quiz also aims at making quizzing a fun experience for everyone involved. It will try and bring to a wider audience the same mix of light-hearted fun and serious high-standard quizzing that is seen at QFI's fortnightly meetings.

It is an open quiz with no conditions whatsoever for participation. All are welcome to participate. Teams of three or less. There will be no registration fee or any kind of registration process. Just come and participate. Total prizes worth Rs.25000 from India's leading bookstore - Landmark on offer!

The details are as follows:

Date: 5th of June 2005 (Sunday)

Schedule: Prelims - 3:00 p.m. and Finals - 5:00 p.m.

Team size: Maximum of 3 members

Venue: Central Lecture Theatre (CLT),
Humanities and Sciences Block (HSB)
(opposite the Open Air Theatre(OAT))
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras

I will be conducting the quiz along with my two regular team mates Vikram and Krishnamurti. Please do come and have fun. Plenty of audience prizes also on offer. Also, if it's not too much to ask for, please put this up on your bulletin board or something and help spread the word. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

You auto be careful, brether...

Every city has something unique to it, something that lends it its own character, making it different from any other city on the planet. Chennai is no exception, and the one thing that sets this city apart is: its autorickshaws, or rather, their drivers. Undoubtedly Chennai’s favourite sons, these auto-drivers are world renowned for their honesty and polite disposition.

Yes, I was obviously kidding. And you would have known that immediately if you’ve ever had the pleasure of riding a Chennai auto. But despite their seemingly obvious unpopularity, I honestly feel that the auto-drivers in Chennai are more tourist-friendly than anywhere else in India. They’re definitely better than, say, Bangalore, where the driver can’t ever decide which language he wants to speak in.

Your average Chennai auto-driver, on the other hand, is fluent in a number of languages, including English, which he will demonstrate by addressing you, “Brether…” from time to time. And if you make the mistake of saying more than “Ah” in reply, then you immediately become his best friend and he starts feeling like he can talk to you about everything that’s troubling his mind. Which is actually not that bad a thing, because considering the rate at which Chennai traffic moves these days, the driver might fall asleep if he had no one to talk to. Now the drivers understand that not all passengers are dying to talk to them, but that doesn’t stop them from jabbering on anyway. It’s in their nature to be talkative. And as a passenger, you have no choice but to clench and bear with it. There’s no escape.

There are many such problems involved with Chennai auto travel, and it’s very important that you know about them. That’s why I’ve decided to help you out in the form of these…

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Whenever I get into an auto, I immediately notice this mysterious looking black thing inside. What is it?

A. That’s the driver.

Q. No, not him, you idiot. It’s this funky looking black object with a number display and all. It looks sophisticated but doesn’t seem to serve any specific purpose. What exactly is that? And what does it do?

A. Oops! Sorry, my mistake! Yes, I know the object you’re talking about. That would be the fare meter. It’s there strictly for decorative purposes only.

Q. So how is the fare calculated then?

A. It’s a very complicated procedure because there are many factors that are involved in calculating the cost of an auto journey. These include distance, number of passengers, time of the day, rate of interest, relative humidity and the net run rate. Plus, an extra 5 bucks for everytime the driver calls you ‘brether’.

Q. How do I go about haggling over the cost?

A. Price negotiation can be quite tricky but it can be done. First, go upto a driver, name your destination and ask him to quote his price. Now take that figure and subtract Rs.100,000 from it. That’ll give you the amount the trip should actually cost. And that in turn means that you’ll soon have to decide if you’re going to have to sell your house or not. However, if you ask nicely enough, the driver might consider reducing his demands. For further discounts, call him ‘brether’.

Q. What is meant by the phrase "meterukku mela"?

A. It means that you will, in fact, have to sell your house.

Q. Are you hinting that there are no honest auto drivers in Chennai?

A. Of course not! I’d never do something that stupid. No, I am STATING that there are no honest auto drivers in this city. It’s a union rule.

Q. Hmmm… ok, you said auto drivers are talkative. What do they talk about?

A. Oh they generally don’t need a specific subject. All they need is a starting point. Recently, I was travelling to Satyam Cineplex in an auto which had so many Rajnikant stickers pasted on the windshield that I’m not too sure how much of the road the driver was actually able to see. As we started moving, my heart in my throat, the driver said, “Enna movie, brether?” And forgetting the “Ah” rule, I stupidly told him, “XXX 2”. And that was all that was required to keep him going for the rest of the journey… “Engleesh phileem a? Nalla acsion movie a brether?” “Jackie Chan padama, brether?” “Avaru vandhu super, brether, semma fight” “Chandramukhi paathuteengala brether” “Rajni politics varuvaara brether” and on and on and on…

Q. So, what are we supposed to do when he’s going on like this?

A. Oh you have no choice. The more you try to ignore him, the louder and more irritating his voice will become. And if he doesn’t hear you speak for some time, he’ll immediately want to make sure that you’re still alive. “Brether?” he’ll go, “BRETHER?” So, you’ll have to keep reassuring him with an “Oh” now and then.

Q. Is there absolutely no way to escape this?

A. There is something you can try. If you have a cell-phone, take it out and pretend you’re talking to someone else. The driver, the polite man that he is, will not disturb you. Of course, to carry on a long conversation with no one at the other end, you need a very active imagination, and powerful jaws. If you don’t have either, you can listen to him gabble and just pray that you meet with an accident and die, which is quite likely considering the number of stickers on the windshield.

Q. Ya, what’s with all the stickers?

A. Another union rule, I’m afraid. There’s nothing we can do about it. But the autos with the movie star stickers are actually quite ok. But if you get one which has a sticker with two garish, murderous looking eyes and ‘NO FEAR’ emblazoned below them in capital letter in a shockingly distasteful MS Word Art font, then you should immediately make sure you’ve taken out an accident insurance policy.

Q. Ok, I think I’m going to have to travel by Chennai autos in the near future. What’s the most important thing to remember?

A. The most important thing to remember is that I’m currently on the lookout for a new house. So, if you’re selling, you know whom to call.

Q. Ah thanks, anything else you want to tell me?

A. Ya. Good luck!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Flash News!!!

Ok, this is just a quick update.

The next Mensa Qualifying Test has been scheduled for this Sunday, the 15th of May, 2005. To register, click here.

Will come up with a post soon. Cheers!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Arbit National Park

Is it true that there are there man-eating tigers in India? If so, can someone please request them to kill Vivek Oberoi? These were the questions I wanted answers to when I went to watch ‘Kaal’ the day before yesterday. And now, after having seen it, I want those answers more than I ever did before.

I’d been looking forward to the movie for quite a while and I have to admit that I was quite disappointed by all the bad reviews the movie seemed to be getting. So, when I walked into the theatre, I wasn’t expecting much out of it at all. But, let me tell you, the movie had a powerful effect on me. It made me think. I am not kidding, people. Throughout the movie, I sat in my seat, staring at the screen, pondering the questions – When is this going to end? Will I still be alive at the end of it?

But getting back to the movie itself, the basic plot is this: A bunch tigers in Orbit National Park are in a really bad mood, possibly because they’ve just found out that their species is on the brink of extinction. So they decide to turn man-eaters, causing tourists to immediately flock to the park and get killed. This in turn results in Krish (John Abraham), introduced in a Baywatch-style chest-heaving running sequence, and his sexy wife Rhea (Esha Deol) being called there to investigate the matter. At around the same time, Dev (Vivek Oberoi), his hot girlfriend Ishika (Lara Dutta) and a couple of other equally obnoxious friends decide to drive through the jungle for fun.

I know I’ve said this before, in an earlier post, but I just can’t help saying it again. Why can’t we see normal human mentality in horror/thriller movies? Why do all the characters have to be insane? I mean, firstly, it’s a deep, dense jungle filled with a number of weird sound effects. And if that’s not enough, it’s a known fact that there are man-eating tigers inside it. Now, you and I may shy away in the face of such danger, but no, these guys are extremely tough. They are people who, with just a turn of their head, can generate enough sound effects to counter anything the jungle’s surround sound system can throw at them. People like that aren’t going to be worried about a bunch of angry tigers killing every human in sight. They’d probably just laugh and continue applying their make-up.

Anyway, as soon as they’ve settled into their comfy farmhouse in the middle of the jungle, their tour guide is mysteriously killed in the middle of the night - a sure-fire indication that these tigers have a definite plan, along with green-tinted, night vision goggles. Quite obviously in a hurry to wrap up the shoot, the tigers quickly eliminate one of Oberoi’s friends, believing, rather stupidly, that the deaths of two fellow adventurers would scare the group into leaving the jungle. I guess it’s pretty obvious that these tigers haven’t seen too many thriller movies before.

Meanwhile, to keep the audience occupied while he was hard at work, trying to figure out which character should logically be the next to die, director Soham Shah introduces Kali Pratap Singh (Ajay Devgan), a mysterious jungle-dweller who, through a series of clever one-liners, lets the audience know that not all the characters in this movie are completely brain-dead.

The group learns from Singh that the forest is also haunted by the ghost of an old tour guide, who was lynched to death by people for reasons that are not totally clear. This ghost story was apparently hushed up by the Park authorities, except for a privately circulated memo among the Thriller Movie Actors Guild, hoping to attract them to the park for their annual general body meeting. Anyway, unlike regular movie ghosts, this one is quite choosy in picking its victims. It apparently kills only the people who break the rules of the park, which are prominently displayed throughout the movie on little bits of paper.

The plot (???) thickens when John Abraham discovers, using his amazing deductive abilities, that he’s actually capable of more than one expression. This must’ve made the director so happy that he just had to use it immediately. So, Esha Deol, having already shown that she has a fetish for really dirty water by washing her face in what I can only describe as municipal sewage, goes out in the middle of the night to drink out of an abandoned, haunted well. Needless to say, she quickly dies, probably of water-poisoning. On seeing his lovely wife dead, Abraham, obviously heart-broken, decides to finally move his facial muscles.

Now, if I go on, I’d probably spoil the movie for you, if that’s even possible. But I’m not going to, because I’d really like nothing better than for you to watch and appreciate the movie on your own. For now, though, I’ll just say that when the movie finally ends, it’s pretty clear to everyone that the world need not worry too much about the man-eating tigers in Orbit National Park. Nor do they need to worry about the fact that tigers are close to extinction. The mere fact that Vivek Oberoi and John Abraham manage to escape from the jungle, thwarting death and thus, still remain at large in filmdom, THAT is what the world should really worry about.

P.S: Throughout the movie, Esha Deol and Lara Dutta wear only the tiniest of shorts, showing a lot of smooth, sexy leg. Tamil-speaking viewers will immediately recognize that this could have been the reason the movie is titled ‘Kaal’.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

So, errr... Do you wanna.. ummm... I really... (gulp)

Why do guys like girls so much? That’s the one question that’s been troubling human intelligence since time began. If there’s one thing that women all over the world agree on, apart from the fact that Tom Cruise is hot, it’s that men are stupid and useless. Yet, in spite of this open hostility, the average guy would like nothing better than to look at a girl, go out with her, share an intimate relationship, eventually marry her and then sleep with his secretary.

Now, all the girls reading this are probably going, “sleep with his secretary? SOO true, MEN SUCK!” but the guys, on the other hand, stopped reading after ‘…look at a girl, go out with her…’ That is because all of them know that I’ve left out a critical stage in the relationship process, something huge, a problem so unimaginably difficult that it’s the world’s leading cause of male baldness, the rickety rope bridge you have to cross between liking a girl and going out with her - asking her out. Seriously, if guys don’t spend so much time worrying about how they’re going to ask girls out, they’ll actually have enough time to learn their table manners.

Now not all guys are like that. There are some guys who have no problem whatsoever with this stage. They are the superheroes of the male gender. They have the superhuman ability to coolly walk up to the girl they like, look her straight in the eye, and say… wait a minute, I don’t know what they’d say, otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this post. Anyway, both of those guys are now dead, having been lynched to death by angry middle-aged bald men. So, unfortunately, we have no way of asking them for advice. However, as a 20 year old guy who has had plenty of good experience in the field of looking at beautiful girls and wanting to ask them out, I’ve decided that I’d speak on behalf of guys all over the world in this post, explain all our problems clearly, and then go back to looking.

The problems start with the language itself. It just doesn’t make any sense. Now you could go out with a girl to watch a movie, have dinner etc. and yet, you still may not be ‘going out’ with her. You could see her all the time – in class, at work etc. and yet you may not be ‘seeing her’. She may see you too, occasionally, when the teacher makes you stand outside the class, but yet both of may not be ‘seeing each other’. Some couples live miles apart, in different cities, in different countries even, yet they could be ‘going out’. Now, what kind of an idiot came up with all these terms? Was he/she drunk?

And if that’s not confusing enough, there’s the even bigger problem of timing. How long do you have to know a girl before you ‘ask her out’? A year? A month? An hour? No one knows. If you ask too soon, she’ll think you’re a creep and report you to the police but on the other hand, if you wait too long, you’ll become a friend and then, she’ll feel that getting romantically involved could affect the friendship. So, either way, there’s no hope. If, in the end, a guy manages to overcome these complicated thoughts that have taken over his brain, and makes up his mind to actually ask a girl out, there’s always the fear at the back of his head that she might actually hear him.

So, I think we all agree that asking girls out is a very complicated activity. And it messes with guys’ heads to such an extent that they just can’t think straight anymore. And this, in turn, affects their speech and action, and this is why, when they’re asking, they end up sounding like Krish Srikkanth on marijuana. Basically, what this means is that direct face-to-face speech is ruled out. So how else do you convey your feelings to the girl you like? This is when having friends finally starts to pay off. You open your heart out to a close friend of yours, who will pass on the message to a girl she knows, who in turn will pass it to another girl who knows the best friend of the girl you like. Now this method, while it protects you from direct rejection, portrays you as having about as much manly courage as Richard Simmons, which of course, fades into oblivion if the girl in question likes you back. But don’t get your hopes up.

So, all you girls reading this, the next time a guy comes up to you and ‘asks you out’, or for that matter, if your best friend happens to tell you that a friend of her friend’s friend likes you very much and would like to ‘go out’ with you, do bear in mind that it’s taken him a lot, and I mean a lot, of courage and will-power to go through with it, and that he’s willing to risk getting hurt just so he could be with you.

And as for you guys, just learn to relax. Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from ‘asking out’ the girl of your dreams. Remember that if you do get turned down, there’s always suicide to turn to. And if ever a time should come when you’re standing in front of your crush, having to make a choice between telling her you like her and bolting out of the door, remember the man who was good, and kind, and secure while wearing pink spandex. Remember Richard Simmons.