Archive for August 2007

Deathly Hollows

August 31, 2007

Mr. G died two days back. I didn’t get good sleep that night. It was too soon. Even he had kidney problems. He was in an unconscious state for several months. He had recently opened his eyes, but did not respond to any commands. He was there. He was just there. It was way too similar.

I went to the mortuary yesterday, for the first time in America, and second time in my life. We were asked to assemble at around 2:15PM and the viewing was supposed to be between 2:30PM and 3:00PM. I entered the mortuary well before 2:15. It looked like an upscale corporate office or a bank. The employees were all in black suits. We were told that the room in which the body is kept is too small and thus only ten people at a time would be allowed to view the body.

Mrs. L and the two kids walked in at around 2:20. She was crying. Though much younger, she reminded me of my mother. Maybe her white cotton saree. Around 50 people had gathered.

The employees at the mortuary suddenly started playing a different tune. They said that since the family did not want the body embalmed, they cannot allow anyone other than immediate family members to see the body. Apparently it is against the United States law. The elders and the leaders in the group started talking to the employees. But, they were not ready to relent.

At 2:30, Mrs.L, her kids, brother-in-law and a priest were allowed to go inside to see the body. 50-odd people were getting restless, even though we were all in the air-conditioned room. Obvious questions erupted. If it was really against the law not to allow people to see the body which was not embalmed, then why did they tell us that they would allow groups of 10 people at a time, to begin with? Something was not right, but nobody wanted to start an argument at that time. But, several people went and requested the authorities to be allowed to see the body. Finally, it was announced that there was a major miscommunication between the employees and the few people who had arranged the viewing. We were told that there is a big difference between Hindu and Christian customs and that is the root of the miscommunication.

Me thinks otherwise, since I know that the people who arranged the whole thing have horrible communication skills, to say the least. The differences between Hindu and Christian faiths have nothing to do with this.

After much persuasion, the employees at the mortuary agreed to take as around the building to the place where the body would be actually cremated. We would all get a glimpse of it before they press the electric switch. So, all of us walked out and stood in the hot sun for several minutes. I have to say that it was one of the worst summer days and most of us were hot by instant headache.

Finally, the body was brought into a small room in front of us. An instant queue was formed to view the body. The first three guys went in and saw the face. I was the fourth one in the line. By the time I could go in, the employees at the mortuary closed the casket and pushed the body into the electric machine. Mrs.L’s son was asked to press the button.

Essentially, most people did not get to see the body. We were told that once a human being dies, the body becomes state property. I am really not sure how true that is. I haven’t bothered to research that.

What amazed me was the total lack of human element. Maybe it is the cultural thing. The whole procedure was like a bank transaction. The fake smiles and the wrinkle free dresses were nauseating. It was pure business, just like any other.


Girl Talk

August 29, 2007

…..and someone said that you have to become really really really really thin before getting pregnant. Else, you will add at least 20 lbs and you will never lose that fat.

Now, my wife goes for a two hour walk every morning!!!


August 28, 2007


“My second preference has always been English. I will not talk in Hindi. I am still upset that I was forced to study Hindi over Sanskrit in school.”

It is silly to dislike a language just because you were forced to study it – if you do so, you join the bazillions Tamilians who put forth exactly that argument. If you refuse to converse in Hindi, you lose the opportunity to communicate with so many millions of our brethren!


– Somebody



OK, I am still laughing reading your mail 🙂

A few clarifications before I start:

1. I think Hindi is a beautiful language. It is
extremely melodious to ears.
2. I love listening to Hindi film songs and ghazals
and certainly appreciate the lyrics in there.
3. I have watched tons of Hindi movies and will
continue to do so.
4. I can read, write and understand Hindi extremely
well. I cannot speak well because I haven’t tried.
5. I watched Hindi serials regularly on DD and never
once watched a Kannada serial (if it helps this

So, which question of yours didn’t I answer? I thought
I did answer everything. If I missed something, that
would be purely accidental.

The only statement I disagree with in your mail is:
“If you refuse to converse in Hindi, you lose the
opportunity to communicate with so many millions of
our brethren!”.

That argument is very generic. If a person cannot
speak Kannada, even he/she will not be able to
communicate with millions of their brethren!!! So,
that argument is flawed. It assumes
magically that somehow Hindi is above the other
languages, and that’s exactly where I disagree.

My mother studied in Kannada and English mediums. But,
she can read, write and understand Hindi extremenly
well. Why? Because she loves learning new languages.
She understands several Indian languages and easily
picked up Hindi when she went to visit her brothers
who were in North India. That is different.

As for me, I had taken Kannada as my first language in
school. I wanted to take Sanskrit as my third
language. Hell no. I HAD to take Hindi as either the
first or third language. Basically, it was forced down
my throat. Seriously, this reminds me of the Nazi era.
Since when did such cultural dominance become

My argument is simple. I will not accept Hindi as some
superior language than other Indian languages.

It just amazes me to see how people take me for
granted. There would be 10 South Indians at a party,
and a couple from Hindi heartland come in and
automatically start conversing in Hindi. Really?!?!?!
Give me a break.

Your viewpoints maybe certainly different. You seem to
be more comfortable in reading and writing Hindi than
Kannada. So, perhaps your idea of national integration
is for every Indian to talk in Hindi. I don’t know, I
am just guessing. You are certainly entitled to your
opinions, obviosuly.

But, I will not accept it under any terms. Forcing
anything on anyone is rape and there is nothing pure
about it.

As you can imagine, I am quite passionate when such
topics come up 🙂 I rest my case now. Let me go do
some work.

Maybe, I should have made this a blog post 🙂

Fun Always!

Boy Talk

August 27, 2007

Over the weekend, my wife and I went to a friend’s house for dinner. My friend and I started talking about home and work while my wife was busy helping his wife in the kitchen. After some time, two more couples joined us. Magically, all the guys huddled in the backyard while the wives were busy in the kitchen.

We started talking about home loans, backyard, green card, home theatre systems, polk audio, television, you name it. Time flies and slowly my wife walked towards us and joined the conversation. Infact, she started off a new conversation around iPhone unlocking. We then moved onto several other interesting topics including cricket, state budget and interest rates.

We finished our dinner and left early. On our way back, my wife told me that she was really bored talking with the girls and that they were busy discussing the jewellery, hair style, cooking, dresses and more jewellery. She said she knew that we would be discussing something more interesting and thus joined us. I teased her saying that she was a show off and she knows that she is the most beautiful among all her friends and thus didn’t want to mix with them a lot. She vehemently denied that, and went on a philosophical note on how beauty is God given. But, she did acknowledge that it is nice to be beautiful. As to why she joined the boys, we will never know the truth 🙂

Die Another Day

August 22, 2007

It happened exactly an year back. August 22nd 2006, 1:07PM to be precise.

I had picked up my car from the service station just around noon. Like any other guy, I adored my car. The car was shining and it looked so beautiful. It really looked brand new even after so many years. I drove back to my office and picked up my wife. At that time, we were both working at the same office. We went home for lunch, as usual.

My wife knew how much I loved my car. Infact, I felt she was jealous of my car sometimes. As the car climbed up the hill to reach our home, I talked on and on about how good the German engineering and machinery is. This was nothing new for my wife.

We reached home and had lunch. Cleaned up the table, watched television for a few minutes and started back to work. I took the left turn and then the right turn and we started going down the steep hill. By that time I had overtaken another car. There was not much traffic other than that. My wife and I chatted about all the important things in the World.

As we came down the hill, I saw a broken sprinkler on the right side of the road. There was a thin film of water flowing on the road. The car went on the thin film of water….and instantly hydroplaned. Screeeeeeech…..I put the brakes as hard as I could. There were three lanes in my direction. I think I was in the middle lane. The car bumped to the kerb on the left side. And then, it rolled over mercilessly. The median in the road was very wide. And, there were budding trees all through the median. After the first tilt, we had crushed one of the trees. We rolled over again the second time.

At that instant, I knew we were not only falling down the hill, but also going towards the other side of the road, where the vehicles will be coming in the opposite direction, up the hill. I had no idea what to do. But, I knew exactly what was happening. Thud… the car rolled over once more and it was going down the hill quite fast. It suddenly struck me that the other side of the hill is basically a trench which is more than 200 feet. I was convinced that we were going to fall there. I was just waiting for that to happen. Thud…the car rolled over again. But this time it came back up and stood on it’s wheels.

It took me a few minutes to realize that the car had now stopped in the opposite lane and was actually facing the hill. I looked at my wife and she was perfectly fine. Of course, both of us were wearing seat belts. I instinctively started apologizing to my wife over and over again. When the car was tumbling down, the only person who flashed through my mind was my wife. Maybe I love her too much or maybe I was feeling guilty or both, I really don’t know the reasons.

It took both of us a few seconds to realize that my shirt was red and I was bleeding. She immediately looked around for our cell phone, found it, and got down and called 911. I got out of the car to see that the traffic light just before the hill had just turned from red to green. We were lucky!!! There was no other vehicle coming in the opposite direction when our car was tumbling down.

I had a severe pain in my neck. A guy in a military uniform got some blankets from his pickup truck and asked me to lie down. There were several cars which stopped by asking if we needed any help. But, my wife had called 911 anyway and we were waiting for the ambulance and police. The guy in the military uniform started talking with his wife on his cell phone. He was answering all her questions and I distinctly remember one particular answer – “No, the man is not going to die” he shouted.

There were two Mexican guys who had stopped by to ask if we were fine. They were in the car which I had overtaken. An Indian guy who works in my office saw me on the road and took a reverse and came back to make sure things were fine. A white lady was more than willing to help us.

Ambulance and police came within a few minutes. It felt like hours and my left hand was full of blood by that time. They started asking me all kinds of questions – “What city are you in?”, “What is today’s date?”, “What is your name?” – and I passed their test. They were now convinced that I didn’t have a bad head injury. Several paramedics flocked around me and put me on a stretcher. Nicholas was the guy who attended on me. To make sure that I didn’t have any other bodily injury they had to rip my clothes. With a big pair of scissors, Nicholas cut my shirt and threw it. He then went on to cut my shorts. And then his “Don’t worry, I won’t rip your underwear” comment evoked a laughter from me. He was happy.

They put me in the ambulance and zipped to the nearest trauma center in downtown. It was a good half hour drive. My wife sat in a different car with a few other paramedics.

The emergency room in the hospital was a mess, just like any other emergency room in America. It was overflowing with people. I got all kinds of tests and injections. My left hand had cuts and that was the source of blood. They cleaned it up and stitched it. After several hours, they finally let me go, after giving me a prescription of Valium!!!

My wife had called a friend to come and pick us up. He got a shirt and a pant for me. Remember, I was still almost naked. I got dressed and we went back home.

I sat in the bath tub and went through the events over and over and over again.

I was devastated that the car was junked. It really did do it’s job and saved us. All the advertisements on it’s incredible ratings for crash tests are true.

It has been exactly an year now. My driving habits have changed. And, it just amazes me how lucky my wife and I were, to survive such a big crash. One thing which stood out during the incident was the courage and finesse of my wife. People were surprised to see how calm she was and she had taken control of the situation very well.

Such incidents make you value life so much more. It really shows you the light. I hope nobody ever goes through such ordeal, but only when you go through something like this will you realize how important life is. I don’t hate anyone and I forgive everyone. That is something which I hope I will keep doing for the rest of my life.

Exactly an year ago, for a few moments, I was convinced I was going to die. I am still alive and kicking and blogging!!!

What’s In a Place?

August 20, 2007

As promised, I was at her door at 11AM sharp. The place was clean. She asked me if I like my hair short or long. I answered. She gave her own expert opinions. After all, she was cutting hair for the past 13 years. She started working on my head….well, hair. By that time I had realized that she cannot stop talking at all. She told me wide variety stories from her childhood in Shanghai to her mother’s visit to America last year.

All of a sudden she stopped cutting my hair and asked me where I was originally from.

“India” shouted thy, without a blink.

“Ooooh, you don’t look like you are from India” was her immediate response.

At that point, I was convinced that she must have thought that I was one hot latin stud.

I asked the obvious next question. “So, where did you think I was from?”.

She instantly said “Pakistan”.

I was confused, shocked and clueless, to say the least. “Why?” I asked.

She smiled at me and said “Indians have their eyes flatter than yours. You have slightly rounded eyes”.

I did not have any answer for that. By that time she had resumed cutting my hair anyway. So, I closed my eyes to hide my emotions.

She then continued, “Are you sure your grand parents or great grand parents are not from Pakistan?”.

I was speechless!!!

Indian Stereotypes

August 16, 2007

With so much diversity in India, branding and stereotyping is expected. Here is my take. I have included people who speak the following languages: Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Malayalam, Oriya, Punjabi, Tami, Telugu. I am sure you are all smart enough to figure out who is who. 

  • Can you speak my mother tongue? No? Alright, I will settle for English, only if you speak in my accent.
  • Of course I can speak your mother tongue. I can speak any language other than my own mother tongue. I have to admit that I do have a soft corner for English.
  • Can you understand every word of your National anthem? So, what’s wrong with me and my ego?
  • You are laughing at my English grammar? Wait until you hear my accent. And, I am quite loud.
  • Sure, I am mediocre. But why do you care? Anyway I move around only with people from my state. And honestly, my only concern in life is my best friend’s salary.
  • Yes really, that is my mother tongue. I am from India….God promise.
  • I am the king. Lick my feet.
  • I hate anyone who is not my religion. I hate anyone who is not from my state. I hate anyone who doesn’t speak my language. And really, I prefer you associate me with North more than South.
  • Yeah I am fat. So what? Go ahead and crack one more joke on me.
  • No really, I am speaking English. it just sounds like my mother tongue that’s all.