Monday, October 29, 2007


Moustaches are excellent for hiding long nose hair. They are also great for getting food stuck in them until your upper lip resembles the starry night sky. That's assuming you have a thick one. If you don't, shave it off. Mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, non possessors of the growth will alternately mention how mature or young you look.

In my case, growing the bristle added a few years to my face. My grandmother was all praise. "Having a moustache at this age is very manly. You look just like your grandfather did when he was your age."
* Sudden rush of pride *

My sister was less enthusiastic. "Ewwwwwwwwwwww!"
Mom and Dad took one look at me, then returned to their paperwork.
* Sudden rush of short-lived pride *

Three weeks and two inches later, my symbol of manhood came off. Symbol of manhood. Read properly. I looked like some misplaced descendant of Genghis Khan, damn his spelling. It was longer on one side, shorter on the other. No, now shorter on that side, longer than the other. It's difficult being a well balanced person.

I missed the moustache today though. Them bristles are considered regal. You'll rarely see a bus driver, rickshaw puller or (my personal favourite) cabbies without their filament. It gives additional character to personalities. Note that I don't mention politicians, businessmen or movie people. That's because it's our drivers who take the country forward, contribute to wolf whistles in movie theatres and complain about pot holes. No self-respecting politician will complain about potholes. No businessman will take a national onus. No actor will whistle in a theater.

So back to moustaches. They are important when you want to cow someone. That's why I missed it, really. Thing is, we've got a Marwari infestation. They live in colonies in groups of four-five families scattered all over Lake Town. This particular infestation resides just behind my house.

It's a five storeyed apartment. The second storey is getting a boob job. You get the simile. They've got masons, electricians and marble cutters working in there 7 days a week. The masons and electricians are fine. The marble cutters are not. A marble cutting machine makes a high pitched whining sound, then cuts into the slab. Imagine a mixie trying to blend iron filings on Dolby Digital Sound and it gives you an approximate idea of what a treat to the ears it is. Our infestation is considerate. They work only on Sunday afternoons. That's when a peaceable retirement community like Lake Town sleeps. It sleeps at other times too, but that's not important now.

It takes two to operate the cutting machine - one to guide the instrument, another to hold the slab in place. At 2 pm, our dynamic duo got to their sound engineering. Cutter and squatter assumed their positions, drill in hand, marble between legs. Electricity flowed, sparks flew and the moans and groans started. All innuendo apart, I wasn't in any mood for afternoon shenanigans. Marched to my balcony (it overlooks their backyard), and hollered for them to stop. They looked up.

"Oi! Stop! How many more times will I ask you people to not work on Sunday afternoons?!"
"Just one slab more bhaiyya. 15 minutes."
"The last time you said 15 minutes it went on for 3 hours. Nothing doing. Stop!"

They looked at each other and continued. Me too.

"Look fellas, I know you have work to do. Do it over the week when it's time to work. You can't expect an entire locality of senior citizens to stay up just because your Marwaris want a different shade of marble."

More blank stares.

"All right people! I'll continue shouting at you. The older ladies and gentlemen will never raise their voices! But tell me, do you want to have their silent curses on your head? You who by doing your work destroyed their few snatched moments of well earned peace? You who have no consideration? Will you be prepared to live the rest of your life under those curses? I'll still be screaming, but you two will have an indelible blot on your existence! You'll go to hell for disturbing their peace!"

I've never seen anyone pack up and leave so fast.

And that's when I missed my moustache. It would've been so satisfying to give it a twirl. And no, twirling long nose hair isn't half as satisfying.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

26 in 24

The heading refers to the number or letters to the number of hours. It's beyond mathematics, common sense, spoiled cheese and any coherent flow.


Finished b/s with B and S. Exchanged music. G thought that I was down with L. Clarified any misconceptions. He shouldn't cry at random. V's gonna kill me on seeing the time.

Mom woke me up. Gotta accompany Dad to the clinic. I might have grunted. Ate a quick breakfast. Got into the car, drove off for south Cal. Driver was late. Grumble.

Doctor's appointment scheduled at 0800. Doctor scheduled to arrive at 0845. Waited in the rain with soggy newspapers. Clinic not open.

Clinic opened. Dustmen on watch cleaned the place. Watchmen on dust placed their cleans.

Waiting room again. One unattractive receptionist. Two hippo sized marwari ladies. Ladies? The TV looked more interesting.

TV very uninteresting. Journos with 15 seconds of fame and 15 mm of IQ were gushing about rain and it's effect on terracota plastic models. Go figure. Literally.

Doctor arrived. Dad trudged off to get whatever tests done.

Bone marrow samples, tissue samples, other unidentified samples bundled into a piece of plastic. Needed to get them to pathological labs to get further tests done. Smiled at unattractive receptionist hoping to get her to do her job. She smiled back. Yellow teeth. Dad went home.

Park Street. Lots of posters claiming justice against the red lettered litterers. Rushed to Lab 1. Lots of people. Confusion in tense already. Asked attractive receptionist about tissue sampling procedures and queues.

Got photocopies of prescriptions done. Pathologist smelt the formaldehyde sample of my dad's hip blood. He must have been Igor in some previous avatar. Little boy in waiting room screamed. Not at Igor. Waiting room again.

Park Street - Chowringhee crossing. Raining cats, dogs and socialites. Need to get second sample to Lab 2 before -
a) Lab closes
b) Blood sample loses freshness
c) I pass out of hunger

Panic call to family. Can't locate lab.

Located lab. Semi attractive receptionist. Requires full payment before samples can be sent for analysis. Annoying sub-receptionist. Very effeminate. Looked me over. Not sure if I should have been repulsed. Attractive receptionist smiled nicely. Misshapen teeth.

Hurried lunch at Park Street crossing. Note to reader: If you're still here, don't ever eat a hot chicken patty with cold mango juice. Fibres don't do wonders for your smile, stature or gas.

Last two hours spent travelling from Lab 1 to Lab 2. Some more pending work. Reached home in a smelly metro. Bald bugger waltzed into my seat. Gave him a ghastly grimace hoping to scare him out of my seat. He grimaced back. No teeth.

And the next day being the conclusion to my college life, it should have merited a post. But that was postponed thanks to lesser events. Like falling asleep in the middle of studying. The dreams were good though. Two attractive receptiontits. And such teeths too.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Waiting rooms smell pretty good - if you don't mind the body odours of fellow waiters. Or waitresses. Of course, it becomes a different smell when you're in a hospital waiting room. That's when you wrinkle your nose and look at the people around you.

Everyone looks tense. Arms folded, legs crossed, lips pursed. They're unobtrusively observing everyone else observing them unobtrusively. Some are talking amongst themselves. Some are gazing vacantly into the distance, faces expressionless. Some are there waiting just to peddle some new wonder drug to the doctor. These are the people who are juggling notes hoping to make that all important sales pitch as if their life depends on it. For the others who are in the waiting room - someone else's life depends...

So, what am I doing in the waiting room?

My Dad's been admitted to the hospital. Nothing much, just a few routine tests. The usual ECGs and X-Rays and CT Scans and blood tests. And this little thing called a "Lymphoma". What's a lymphoma? It's a cancer of the lymph nodes. What are lymph nodes? They are filters or traps for foreign particles and contain white blood cells. What are foreign bodies and white blood cells? Read up on 5th grade biology.

It's visiting hour. People are queuing up outside the lift. There are the usual shoves and pushes that are a part of lift travel. No one's aggressive here though. No annoyed mutterings, no angry glares. Everyone wants to get off at their respective floors and visit the whitewashed room that cages their loved one. The whitewashed room on the sixth floor where my father is.

He's doing fine. He was groggy from the general anaesthesia yesterday when the doctors performed the biopsy. And in his own words, he was talking too much. People do that when they're traumatized. Some go silent, most talk. Some mumble gratitude, most rave. It's the state of the innermost feelings of the mind when the drug exposes the mind's web to the doctor's gentle questions. It's a dissociative anaesthesia that makes the patient walk away from human existence for as long as it's required for the whitecoats to slice off whatever tissue they need for their tests.

The tests which show that Dad has Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

This is a statement of mixed relief. The cancer is non-lethal, but it's aggressive. Chemotherapy will start and change our lives. There will be upheavals - physical, emotional and many other als. He's taking it remarkably well. He knows exactly what's wrong with him and how bad it may be. I'm supposed to be prepared for every eventuality. This is one of those moments in which you become suddenly interested in the view outside the window. Dad's room overlooks a noiseless thoroughfare. This is Calcutta - there's no such thing as a noiseless thoroughfare. The 70foot elevation takes care of whatever stray sounds. The only noise is the rush of blood from thumping hearts in that room. And my father is extremely composed. He knows that he will be cured even at the stage he's in. He knows that there's no eventuality that needs to be prepared for other than the impending treatment. But he's thought everything ahead. Dad's name translates into "sober". It's that sobriety personified right now. There are no hushed voices. He's sick and he's telling us to take care of ourselves!!

Visiting hour is over. The ward boys knock. Dad's coming home tomorrow.

Dinner. Dad's having continental cuisine at the hospital. It's funny when you read the number of good words that begin with C: continental, cuisine, courage, character, calm, confidence, curable. And then comes the Big C. Throws things a bit out of gear. But things will be fine. It will be rocky, but obviously curable. I'm looking at Dad's seat at the dinner table.

It's not a place I'll fit into.