04 May 2010

Social Freak!

I’m an average guy! My friends don’t think of me EVERYDAY! My cousins email me only when they have vacations. My family wouldn’t care to buzz me considering they’ll have to endure the video chat coming up every Saturday anyway! My advisor mails me once a month and my collaborator doesn’t even seem to have an ID of his own! I’m an average guy. Counting spam, looking-for-a-job-mails, the ‘n’ number of Science news updates I subscribed to when I was feeling productive and was planning to make it real BIG in my field and all the regular trash, I might get an average of 10-12 emails per day. That’s about one email every 2 hours!

And yet…

Yet, I HAVE to check my mail once every 36 seconds. I have to see my mouse pointer change to a sand-clock and then back to its original-self proclaiming that I have NO new emails … and I have to do this every 36 seconds. Why 36? No real reason… its an estimation.

This is how its with Gmail. I walk to the rest room. I run back - “Shucks! How many important messages have clogged my inbox?” I take the bus home – I’d think my laptop is screaming and teeming with new mails. I sleep for 8 hours. I wake up and run to my laptop even before I wipe my drool. I check my email … turn back to say Hi to the cute lab-tech … and immediately check my email … lest I dare miss that very important piece of information I have been waiting all my life for!

So is it with Facebook. I religiously click all the links deeply assuming that its my only source of knowledge and ignoring them meant being ignorant about the world. Everyone’s status updates scream out at me asking me to comment. I may not give a DAMN to why there’s a “:(“ depressing smiley next to your status update, more so because I hardly know you but added you only to add to my ever-growing friends list, but I have to add my comment and show my loyalty. I know your status message is a rip off straight out of Bernard Shaw’s home page just for attracting compliments, but I HAVE to click on the ‘like’ button although I don’t even remotely like you for that matter!

So is it with Google. You can Google anything. Including yourself; I trust Google to tell me more about myself than I really know of. I Google for temperature, time and location. I Google for formulae, protocols and recipes. I Google for shaving pimples and tooth aches and body posture. As you talk about a movie I have unheard of, I can Google about it and CONVINCE you that I’m cool and I know everything there is to be known about that movie, about the other movies of the same director, and the sequels and prequels of the movie that exist or yet to be released. I can do this as you talk to me with the click of a few buttons.

Sadly, I’m another of those Internet Syndrome victims! I’ve checked my mail thrice already from the time I have started writing this piece. And it has hardly been more than 5 mins. I also sadly discovered that there are no more status updates I can ‘like’ on Facebook as I have liked all of them already ;( And the darned Google home page never crashes … for some weird reason!

I know I need rehab. The healing process has begun. I have done blasphemous things like shutting down my laptop during the nights. I have closed Outlook Express each time I was done using the system. I have restricted my logging onto Facebook – thrice is all I get during my work-hours. I have borrowed huge library books and downloaded lots of papers … Google can enslave me NO MORE!

Darn! Why haven’t I got any E-MAIL from the past 8 minutes???


Scene: Bheem enters the forests near Ekachakra with a cart of food in search of Bakasur, the demon! Bheem calls out to Bakasur in a resonating voice - “heY Bakaa! I’m not getting signal here; AT&T really sucks! Can you hear me? Come out and eat your food!

Bakasur: heY you! What took you so long? Don’t you realize I’m starving? I’m surviving the whole of morning with just one glass of orange juice!

Bheem: Sorry dude! Traffic da! Ekachakra turnpike is jammed at this hour. I had to take SO many detours. Don’t even talk about it. Why can’t you get an apartment somewhere close to the suburbs?

Bakasur: Too expensive man! And hey! How DARE you call me by my first name? The villagers of Ekachakra are such ‘darpoks’ that they even fear coming close to the forest.

Bheem: Ok! What’s your surname then?

Bakasur: I don’t have one! Do you think that’ll become a problem during visa? I got an admit from Pitt dental school ;)

Bheem: I guess so. Awright! Eat quickly; I have to get back. I’m watching this new movie - “How to train your Dragon” 3D today evening

Bakasur: Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha ! You ain’t goin’ nowhere. Hey Bheem, why do villains always have an African-American accent? Why can’t they speak plain American or Brit?

Bheem: If you keep going to Wendy’s all the time. you’ll obviously get influenced right? Anyway, I present the menu to you sir:

  • Chicken breasts from overfed chicken
  • A can of rBST milk
  • Beef from cattle feeding ONLY on corn
  • Diet Coke with corn syrup
  • Peanut butter sandwich with traces of Salmonella
  • A can of Fiji mineral water whose potability is inferior to the normal tap water
  • Pork from hormone-treated pig
  • Apples injected with grape flavor
  • Bagels and I-can’t-believe-its-not-butter

Bakasur: WTF ?

Bheem: Why? What’s wrong? Haven’t you watched Food Inc.? Smithfield, Perdue, Monsanto, Tyson – these are the dominant food giants. That’s where all this came from

Bakasur: Don’t you have anything organic?

Bheem: LMAO! Organic? Who are you? Some queer from the 1920s? Who grows organic these days? The corn syrup you find in batteries is the same corn syrup you find in Pepsi!

Bakasur: Don’t you have any home-grown food then?

Bheem: Did I not tell you? That soya bean you grow in your backyard – be careful … its a sure invitation to a legal battle. Monsanto has investigators!

Bakasur: Did I not tell you? The world shudders at the mere mention of my name. Lightning and thunder rumbles the earth at every step I take. The faint-hearted wither away at the sight of me. I am terror. I am vicious. I am … BAKASUR!

(waves dash against the rocks; lightning strikes a tree; mild tremors occur; Eyjafjallajokull erupts again!)

Bheem: ROTFL! Narakasur said the same things. He grew soya bean in his backyard. Then he was booked for patent infringement. Unable to bear the legal costs, he had an out-of-court settlement with the giant for 25,000 USD!

Bakasur: Whaaaaat? Oh no!

Bheem: So you eatin’ or what?

Bakasur: Of course… Bakasur NEVER goes hungry. I shall eat you Bheem. You are organic. You are my lunch today!

Bheem: Lololol! You really crack me up dude. Don’t you watch the daily news?

Bakasur: No basic cable ;(

Bheem: Verizon?

Bakasur: Yeah. Its not really bad; family guy buffers most of the times. But its ok-ok

Bheem: Oh yeah… coming to the point. I am HIV positive. Thanks to Draupadi and her multiple sex partners !

Bakasur: Darn it! I thought you were gay

Bheem: I’m as gay as Krishna… if you know what I mean!

Bakasur: Isn’t Nakul and Sahadev…

Bheem: Totally gay. Gayishly gay!

Bakasur: Hmmph! So am I gonna starve for the rest of my life?

Bheem: No! Listen to me carefully…

  • Eat Organic Food
  • Chuck Giant Eagle & Wal-mart! Go to Whole Foods
  • Visit farmer’s markets. There’s one in strip district. Vegetables are dead-cheap
  • Buy non-rBST milk
  • Try to cook at home. Don’t be a lazy ass
  • Stay away from junk. Don’t even venture anywhere close to those vending machines in school
  • Eat healthy
  • Change the world with every bite!

Bakasur: Thanks da! I really owe you one. We should hang out sometime…

Bheem: You can come to the movie tonight. But you must promise to behave!

Bakasur: You won’t regret this! Let us do the GO!

25 March 2010

There was this popular you-tube video: this big tall guy walks around the city, around traffic signals, around apartments and commercial complexes with a humongous number of people on top of him and the background score goes on to say "I've got the whole world ... in my hands". For someone the likes of me who's hands go sore the moment I lift up my little nephew for more than a minute, bearing the weight of the whole world was a little next to being whimsical.

Anyway, that's not the point. I'm more intrigued by the "its a small world after all" anecdote. Its quite amazing when you realize it. Just like how your maid-servant effectively shrinks all your favorite dresses thanks to her fetish for strong detergents, the world apparently is shrinking in size, getting smaller as they rightfully say!

Information travels so fast these days ... its no more like how it was in the days of my grandfather ... someone dies and a telegram is sent out to everyone announcing 'someone's' death ... a telegram mostly brought bad news (we have a habit of writing the word 'safe' on the top-left corner of our postcard/inland letter meaning things are fine ... don't find the word and be ready for some death material). But quintessentially, the telegram would reach the recipient much much after the dead man has departed from earthly abode and traveled to the nether world to watch the item songs of Lord Indra's item girls (of course, if he's a sinner, he'll go to hell where apparently there are item songs but homosexuals dancing for them).

Today... with things like Google Wave, your recipients read as you type. Imagine how perilous this could be for us avid bloggers ... my readers would read things as I type and would immediately put up a spam filter against my email id.

And the funny side of it all is, it doesn't take a super cool gadget or a raging technology to shrink the world. In fact, all these gadgets and computers end up doing is shrink the world but expand the paunches of people (if I spent the same amount of time working out instead of blogging, Sylvester Stallone would bum out looking at me)

Listen to this:

A friend of mine finds a cat and gives it shelter - only to find out that it was her friend's cat and the cops are out there trying to locate the cat burglar!

8000 miles away from home, on an uninhabitable place, where graduate students fight out snow blizzards to go to lab meetings, in Pittsburgh, I find a school friend on an airport train!

My good ol' Mauritian friend happens to be a good ol' senior to my room mate in college too!

I meet this new engineering student in this god-forsaken country - he not only happens to be from Bangalore, but also from a college where my friends studied, and also is the third member in the trio where the remaining two are my own friends!

I meet the great Shivaram Karanth's nephew in a bus stop!

Most of all my friends here were in Bangalore traveling in and around my locality; I could never invite them home back then coz i didn't know them. I wouldn't be surprised if I have seen them before. Some faces seem SO familiar. The brain rings a bell but doesn't come out with anything to recall or remember!

A friend and me here belong to the same native place; there is an extremely strong possibility (i'd say 999 times out of 1000) that we are related to each other through someone!

My brother and sister-in-law were strangers until they met each other; their horoscopes were written by the same person - they were meant to match!

It was a shock to see people colonizing Pittsburgh in the first place; I then went on to discover that not only do my relatives stay here, one of them also works in our university as an assistant professor right above my previous lab and therefore is into cancer research - and also follows me to the biomedical science towers the moment I move into them!

And the grand finale...

I had a problem of dialing '988' instead of '998' when I key in a cell phone number on a land-line phone. Each time, it would reach an annoyed guy who had to SCREAM into my ears that I have dialed the wrong number again. Two years later, I was busy attending seminars after seminars on 'education in the US' and met a guy over food and generally discussed with him. 6 months later, from the US, I dial a number (supposed to be my uncle's) and I bungled again. This guy picks up, recognizes my voice and says "Ain't you the guy always trying to dial 998?" Later on, I learn that he was the same guy I had lunch with during the US seminars.

Its a small world after all...

24 March 2010

So the thing is this: I have always felt that my brain is this BIG bucket; you know - not the kinda bucket you have in a potty house, that's a small one. Mine is a BIG one - the one that you'll see in your mom's native place. And my bucket, as in the brain bucket, is filled! Up to the brim, i.e. when I was born - fresh piece - virgin male - untouched by corruption or lead oxide pollution or university education (i see a homology here).

It is filled with all kinda stuff -a homogeneous mixture of creativity, athleticism, intellect, big vacuoles filled with nothing, lots of shit and everything else that's a part of living. As years pass by, I begin emptying them. My athleticism wanes, my intelligence and awareness enervates, my creativity empties. This, I was always worried of. Creativity is my defense mechanism. Sarcasm is my weapon of mass destruction. If i use too much of it - I'm deigned to empty them off one day (they ain't like sperm count which multiply each time you flush 'em out). Then i'll be left with only vulnerability and mortality. Oh my God - I disgust myself when it comes to writing! Vulnerability and mortality??? What the heck is that??? What am I trying to be - the Family Guy? Mindless comedy huh?


So once upon a time, I met this guy whom we'll call 'Upadhyay' for obvious reasons because that was his real name. I met him on a train on a boring solitary 5-hr journey to Bangalore. He descended straight down from Aristotle's lineage - Upadhyay's great grand-father's cousin and Aristotle's daughter made love to each other when her father was busy with taxonomy. Whatever! Basically, I'm trying to say that Upadhyay was into deep-rooted philosophy.

We were talking about life. Rather, he was talking about life and I was smacking my lips because I love philosophy - I set really bad examples in that. I explained to him about my brain-bathroom-bucket concept and he took it rather personally. I'll use the letters "U, D. Phil" for Upadhyay and "S, D. Crap" for good ol' me!

U, D. Phil: That's so not true. In fact, I think every person is born with an empty bucket. It gets filled as time passes by. It reaches its peak when you are old and wise. That's when intellect reaches its pinnacle. In fact, I'd say everyone's born with a bottomless bucket. You can fill it all, but it never gets full. The brain's capacity is inestimable.

S, D. Crap: Imagine, if the bathroom bucket was bottomless. What would you do? I mean, you would literally need to sit under the tap. And technically, its impossible unless you prostrate on the ground - and that would be sick (giggles)

U, D. Phil: (unimpressed) Well, if you really want to know - you would use the water before it goes to waste. Everyday in life, man gets to learn so much, information is everywhere, love is everywhere - only when he learns to hold them in his hands and ingest them will he be able to get the benefit of it.

S, D. Crap: So, hey wait a min.! So you say use the water before it falls into the bucket. Because, it then goes to waste. Then, logically speaking, you suggest to use the information and knowledge and love before it reaches the brain - coz then it goes to waste.

U, D. Phil: Where did i say that?

S, D. Crap: Remember, the brain bucket comparison?

U, D. Phil: Oh! See - do you recall reading about the full cup?

S, D. Crap: Yeah I know, half empty is pessimism and half full is optimism. You know what I'd say if someone showed me half a cup of coffee and asked me what it is? I'd say, "Hey, who drank my coffee again?" This time, I laughed hard! Mr. Aristotle smiled at my pitiable earthly behavior.

U, D. Phil: No! So the teacher asks a student to fill a cup with anything he wants. The student fills it up with rocks. Its still not full. Another fills the remaining gaps with pebbles. Its still not full. Yet another fills it up with sand. It still ain't full. Yet another fills it with water. But its still not full. Imagine how much of air can fit in a tiny little gap. The brain is like that. But the order is important - fill a cup with sand first, and there's not much you can fill later on. Prioritize on what you fill your brain with - and its capacity is infinite.

S, D. Crap: I think I'd start with the pebbles first. If you tilt your head at the right angle and throw them into your nostrils with good force above the escape velocity, they'll hit the bottom of your brain bucket. Oh, did I fail to mention - our brain's bucket is reverse, the bottom is on top of our head, so its easier for the stuff in it to flow out. I think our mouths are like taps - open them and you can release your bucket's content. The eyes/ears/nose are inlet pipes which empty directly into the brain bucket.

U, D. Phil: I like your imagination. Now how do you explain this? Imagination doesn't come from the environment. Its inborn. They don't come through any inlet pipes. Its already inside your 'so-called bucket'. Who put 'em there? God? Why do everyone have varying amounts of imagination? Or do they? Is it an untapped potential in some?

S, D. Crap: Yes. So they are like these frozen vials of cells. They become viable only when you take them out of liquid nitrogen and thaw them. Or else, they stay untapped in the frozen state. They don't ever die out - they are just cryo-protected. Then probably the cerebrospinal fluid is like DMSO - a cryoprotectant. When you thaw them in the blood bath (or our standard water bath), they are utilizable.

U, D. Phil: Too technical for a banker like me; however, I think you agree with my statement that there are some untapped potentials within us which are not gained from the environment but which could be enhanced owing to external circumstances. Right?

S, D. Crap: Too philosophical for a college student like me; however I think you agree with my idea about the brain-bathroom-bucket? There are thousands of analogies I can give you, its fairly irrefutable a concept you know!

U, D. Phil: I said your imagination is good ... not that I agreed. There's been so much known about the brain - the least you could do is compare it to a bathroom bucket. Imaginative, but not intellectual.

S, D. Crap: Isn't philosophy imaginative? Why do you use so many analogies then? Haven't we learned from imagination? We imagined we could fly and we flew. We imagined we could reach the stars and we did. We imagined and we achieved.

U. D. Phil: The Wright brothers imagined alright. But they built a plane. From scratch. They didn't imagine how a plane would look like. They learnt about it from the environment - from the birds and the insects. If you think mere imagination would take you places, the world wouldn't be this bad - everyone would imagine it to be a paradise.

S, D. Crap: We could. Untapped potential my friend ... imagination isn't an art everyone have perfectioned.

U, D. Phil: I think you created a hole in my brain bucket. I feel all my intellect has just been hosed off and replaced with your gibberish concepts.

S, D. Crap: What did you say? Your brain bucket? So you believe me now... ?

U, D. Phil: Whatever! (pissed)

S, D. Crap: Someone draw the curtains please (bows)


Note: This is a hypothetical conversation!

09 February 2010

After my gibberish talk about my encounters with the perilous McDonald's burger, lots of my friends/relatives probed into my sanity (or the lack of it) as to why an endangered pure vegetarian would want to trek through the chasm of pepperonis and bacons which form the crux of a McDonald burger !

"Go to Subway you idiot" they said. "That's where all the veggies go when they are struck with malnutrition".


You think that's an easy solution?

Know what... I've been there.

I walked into Subway after I found nothing in McDonald's sometime around the August of 2008. I felt pretty cool and sophisticated. I made a mental note to myself that I have to call some uncle/aunty of mine from Subway so that I can enlighten to my overcrowded family in India of my whereabouts.

Me: HeY Uncle! HeY Aunty!
Uncle/Aunt: Can you call us back after 15 minutes?

Me: Huh? (darn! no respect for ISD calls!)
Uncle/Aunt: Ok ok, so where R you calling from?

Me: I'm here in the US; in Pittsburgh, its right below New York.
Uncle/Aunt: New York ? Wow !!!

Me: Right now, I'm at Subway
Uncle/Aunt: What's that? Those underground tunnels where mugging is not that uncommon

Me: (gasps!) No, the Subway. The cool restaurant
Uncle/Aunt: Oh Subway? Wow !!!

Me: Ok! Bye! Need to go back to my cancer lab
Uncle/Aunt: Cancer lab? Wow!!!

Of course, after this, uncle/aunty lynch their own kid for not growing up to the stature of me.

Anyway, coming back to THE issue - Subway ... I walked into Subway. This time, I see this tall guy in the counter and he looks at me (not menacingly but) with a sweet smile. He looked safe. And gay. And the conversation started. The darned conversation - yeah - started again!

Me: Can I have a sandwich ?
He: What size?

Me: Medium?

I sense that he might spit on me at any moment.

Me: Ok what sizes do you have?
He: (not accustomed to such questions) 6" and foot-long

Me: (I smile because I find the foot-long word amusing. I wanted to ask him if their sandwiches taste like feet. But sensing the hostile environment...) 6" sounds good
He: (waits... and then...) And which one?

Me: (looks up at the plethora of boards above) A veggie sandwich
He: We have the veggie delight Sir, if you'd like that

Me: (ahhhhh! sounds delightful). Sure ;)
He: Which bread would you like Sir?

Me: Huh? (what in the name of lord !) What are my options?
He: Italian/Honey/Flat-bread ... they are all right here

Me: Italian (huh! That ought to teach him a lesson ... Italian bread sounds neat. I'm sure by now he thinks I'm the inheriting son of a multi-billionaire business tycoon)
He: What cheese?

This time I was stumped! Now I never consumed cheese in India, but thanks to my inquisitiveness about the outside world, I knew what cheese was. It is produced by the coagulation of milk protein Casein. But to me, cheese is cheese. Now how can a cow product give rise to varieties of cheese? A sudden fear struck me that they may have something meat-ish. I looked at their choices - they were of all colors and shapes. No! I am not gonna eat meat just a week after landing here. I am gonna be cautious and smart, at the same time.

Me: Ok (raising my voice) Vegetarian cheese!
He: Sir?

Me: Vegetarian. Nothing non-veg please...

This time, he pauses, looks at me (with an expression of 'what's wrong with this guy' and gives me a foundation course in diary technology)

He: Sir! Cheese is vegetarian. Its a milk product.

Me: Oh! I dunno; here you add meat to everything (salvaging my pride which was never there in the first place). I'll have cheese
He: As in... cheddar, provolone...

Me: Cheddar! (the first one is always the most recommended one)
He: Ok... do you want me to change my gloves?

Me: Change your... what again?
He: You want me to change gloves?

Go change your undies... who cares? Since when did I become his honorable master that he takes my permission to change his clothing accessories? I recapitulate and remembered that he passed on bread filled with some pig-stuff to the next person before he started handling my sandwich. Makes sense. I want to give myself a pat on the back for my almost-quick thinking but then I can't reach my back thanks to my little hands.

Me: I would really appreciate it!

One of my first lessons in American lingo... when someone's nice to you, appreciate it. Or even if you don't, say that you do. They'll be so happy that they might pledge their blonde daughter to you if you want them to.

He: What veggies would you prefer?

This one would be easy. I could identify the most basic vegetables. I knew what I wanted. There were labels. This would be one answer I'd give him with such triumph that he would apologize for causing any embarrassment to me through this entire ordeal.

Me: Tomatoes, Lettuce, Cucumbers, Red Onions, Bell Peppers (I was still saving up my dollars and wanted to get the full return on my investments)
He: Anything else?

Me: (there were more?) Oh yeah... jalapenos
He: What's that?

Me: Jalapenos
He: You mean...

I point out. Unfortunately, my finger hit the glass and they couldn't be zoomed in any further. But i think he got my point

He: alapenos?
Me: (English... darn it!) Yep!

I consciously use 'Yep' when I have enervated the guy behind the counter and I need to uphold the integrity and respect of our motherland and firmly establish that even we are equally flamboyant when it comes to slang-talk.

He: Any dressing ?

Now I ONLY love ketchup in my sandwiches/burgers. But I see no ketchup bottles there. Hoping I could find it elsewhere and praying that I don't radiate more idiocy, I said...

Me: Nah!

I half expected that my lack of interest towards dressings would illustrate that I know what dressings are, what are the types and what are its nutritional constituents. Reality check: I had no frikkin clue what it meant - i kind of convinced myself that its like whipped cream which is used to decorate the top part of any food item (and now you know I failed to understand the purposes of whipped cream too)

I bill my stuff. I made sure I took the receipt (when I was new to America I took the receipt everywhere and for everything. I was always afraid that they would take away my money, hide my sandwich under their shelves and then protest that I have already taken my sandwich away). I walked off to the nearest table to dissect my new born baby which I obtained after much pain.

Now there are one of 2 things that are likely:

a) These stories are too far-fetched and adding to this the variable of exaggeration which is the underpinning of my writing, all of this is a sham

b) I'm slightly dyslexic and take WAY too much time to understand certain things. Funny things keep happening in my life and insanity rules my celestial objects.

I assure you that its the second option; those who know me well would nod their heads at this point. Exhausted though I am, it is indeed memorable to walk into an American restaurant without the slightest clue of what to order. Its like the village idiot in a corporate environment ... nobody suspects ... everyone knows he's gonna screw up! I went to Panera recently, think its my first time ... life was easier there coz they had a veggie sandwich option and they didn't look at me as though I'm from the Mbundu tribes of Central Africa.

So for all you folks who think my best bets are in Subway, remember one thing - its me they are dealing with. And in the path that I tread, insanity reigns!

04 February 2010

If you have watched the movie 'The Pink Panther' ... I can really crack you up when I say "I would like to have a hamburger". Little did I reckon that few days from watching the movie probably a 4th time, I would have to put myself in the same situation. Well, not exactly...

1) I don't eat ham

2) I'm not French and/or stupid

3) I wasn't planning on smuggling the damn burgers out of USA

So it was a usual Thursday noon when the mind was fidgeting between how unfruitful the week was and how welcoming the weekend is. I was starving; my meeting with my mentor wasn't happening; so what's the difference between a dementor and a mentor? As far as I know, both suck the soul out of you ;)

Anyway, darn it! I get so distracted when I type. What was the main point? Oh! I was starving; my meeting with my mentor wasn't happening. I took off for lunch. But where do I go?

a) Indian truck food: Eww! Too many times this week

b) Scaife cafeteria: I'd rather pick and eat worms

c) Somewhere in Forbes: Cool idea!

I walked down Forbes Avenue and stood right in between Subway and McDonald's. Time for a quick mental analysis... logical algorithms at play:

Subway has one veggie sandwich
McDonald's has none that i know of

Subway - I can choose whatever I need... customize!
McDonald's - I might be able to but it ain't easy

Subway - I won't make a fool of myself. I know what I want
McDonald's - High possibility of embarrassment

And so I walked inside... the big red M towered above me!

I guessed it right. No veggie burgers in sight. I cursed McDonald's and walked towards an old lady in the counter who looked menacingly at me. If I don't appear sophisticated, she'll put me into one of the subs and eat me off with mustard sauce. I stylishly flaunted my abilities to switch over to an American accent and the conversation began. The darned conversation began!

Me: I would like to have a veggie burger!
She: You would like to have a ... what?

Me: (adjusts my throat) I would like to have a veggie burger
She: Sir, what's that? I don't know what you are talking about

Me: (huh?) I would like to have a vegetable burger! (Clearly understanding that her blank expressions haven't altered, I went on)... you know just the vegetables; no chicken; no meat.
She: ???

I made flowery movements using my arms to describe how the lettuce looks like and how the onions and tomatoes are shaped.

She: So you need just the vegetables. No meat. A small burger?
Me: Ok!

She: What's it called?
Me: A veggie burger

She: A what?
Me: (Oh no!) A vegetable burger

She: Sir, we don't have a veggie burger. But we can make anything you want us to make. So what is it that you want?
Me: (world peace... can ya give it to me? Start off by pointing directions to the nearest subway or a mental asylum, whichever is closer) A burger with ONLY vegetables like tomatoes, onions and lettuce; no chicken or meat

She: Ok. (She calls out to the manager and repeats what I said)
Manager: He gives us our meat back, so give him extra tomatoes

She: You don't want mayo on it?
Me: No

She: Cheese?
Me: Sure

She: You want mayo but no cheese. Dairy ok?
Me: Yeah

She: (stares at me with awaited expressions)
Me: (thinking i need to say something) Ketchup!

She: (she looks aghast as though I just stepped on her toes)
Me: Ketchup instead of mayo

She: Ketchup in your burger?
Me: (no, in your %$&*) Yes

She: Ok. Sir, what do I bill your burger as?
Me: (stares blankly)

She: (annoyed) She asks me if I need anything else
Me: Small fries

She: Rice?
Me: Potato fries; small (i point to the chart with my little hands)

She: Is that all sweet heart?
Me: (a moment's shocked expression) Uh...hmmm... yeah!

Why the heck do all these people address me with "sweet heart", "honey", "kiddo" and all that? I'm doing a frikking PhD here, am not a low-budget child celebrity!

She: Swipe your card in there son
Me: (son... I sure don't resemble you in any way) (swipes)

She: You want you receipt?

Now normally I don't take the receipt coz its useless anyway. Not like my mentor is gonna reimburse me for eating burgers during lab hours. But for some reason, for some weird reason, perhaps I was too tensed as too many heads had turned already and the whole thing was turning into one big scene, and the entire world had come to a standstill to watch the touring circus and the joker, I said:

Me: Yeah
She: You want the receipt???

This time her voice screeched as though I was asking for her breast size. But if I said 'no' now, I would look even more funny

Me: Yes (i so damn need it now! I need it more than my burger)
She: Ok sir (taken aback by my persistence and conviction)

I finally get the damn burger and out I ran with such great speed that even the fastest land animals would be humbled. I made a mental pact that I'll never ever step into McDonald's again even if there was a nuclear holocaust and the entire earth collapsed and McDonald's was the only place I could find food in

I sat down and took a little bite of the burger. Music filled the air, violins played behind my back, spring was back in Pittsburgh and my eyelids fluttered like the wings of a butterfly. Damn you lady! I'm coming back for you... and i'll keep coming until you have the damn veggie burger up in your menu list. But presently, I chew on the burger and...

I'm lovin' it!

03 February 2010

He didn't move an inch.

Sweat trickled down his forehead. He felt his heart beat could be heard for miles. No one would find him here; but he wasn't taking chances today. He had left the computer facility long time ago. He will not be treading that path ever again. But he had to hide. Hide where he can never ever be located.

He breathed only when he really needed to.

"Things are gonna be ok" he kept telling himself. Flashes of past memories kept flickering in his mind ... "its all over ... its not gonna happen again" ... he kept convincing himself. It felt like it was indeed over. 2 months back things had looked so bad, there was no respite. Off-late, nothing much was happening. Things were quiet. Was it the silence before the storm? Doesn't appear so. Probably things were indeed ok. Probably he had no one to fear. Probably he could come out of his hiding place. And just when he decided to move an inch...

It happened...

...his phone beeped !

There was a message.

It wasn't over. It was coming back. It will never be over.

All of mankind is doomed for eternity!

He looked at the message again... and with a sigh of exasperation, he walked towards the computer facility.

You want to know what the message was ?

It said...

"Please check http://down-in-the-pitt.blogspot.com for latest blog updates!"

I'm back!