Thursday, March 18, 2010

'King'size shopping the Big B Way

The spring cleaning bug made a mighty bite into the family sans the sister earlier this week. The Great Indian Exchange Mela is on at that temple of new age middle class consumerism- Big Bazaar (henceforth BB). Their clarion call to convert even garbage into money drives most bargain hunting (minus the haggling) households into a frenzy of hunting down everything worth dumping except maybe that family heirloom which the mother-in-law passed onto her son in the hope that it bypasses the daughter-in-law and will without much other familial cartography be bestowed on his only girl at her marriage in the near future, unless there is a crafty mistress who has attacks of attention deficit disorder prompting the son to appease her with that very dusty heirloom. Ah well, possible Star One, ZEE TV, (insert your preferred marathon family saga television series network here) scripts apart a lot of families do indeed spend quality (excuse the dust and rising tempers on what is dump-worthy or not moments) time together cleaning out attics, investigating suitcases filled with what looked like gifts from the parents wedding, tearing apart cardboard boxes hoarding dinner ware from a different era, shedding a tear over a prematurely retired Snow Job (I had a fascinating collection of GI Joe play figures, most of which was later given away to a younger relative, with much grief despite having achieved a mature facade with a french beard and a job in the financial services sector) after his leg got disengaged in combat between a door caught in the wind. The official story for the minor lachrymal precipitation is however the dust and grime which had a strange knack of attacking the eyes whenever I was in the vicinity of the boxes/suitcases.

Such sterilising activities also can lead to a catharsis of sorts. Two full boxes on being dumped out were found to contain trophies collected over the academic years: 2000-2006 for all kinds of non-academic pursuits ranging from music, drama, quizzes, mock business scenario events to shockingly dance! Metal, plastic, wood were all summarily boxed back and eventually found themselves on the scales at BB, gone in a trice at 25 bucks a kilo! Now while I sit typing this out- a certain sense of nostalgia creeps in. Memories start bouncing like dashing cars inside my brain of the final buzzer that gave us those essential five point lead to trump the favourites at a quiz in Vijaya College, the waltzing steps which led to me being awarded the Most Outstanding Dancer of the Evening (me?! of the minimal ass wiggle under extreme duress after a few knocks of the tipple), a first prize trophy which was mistakenly awarded for a second place sneaked back home unknown to the oganisers. All gone. In all probability, they should land at some trophy maker's factory, melted and remoulded into awarding someone more deserving than me for having abandoned them. But I have never felt a deep attachment for such things apart from rejigging my memory for anecdotes over drinks/dinner with friends or for the blog. Maybe 20 years from now this spring cleaning might evince a greater feeling to kick myself in the behind, but the memories will remain, suffice I am not downed by those whatchacallthems- I forget...
If you too have forgotten they are what they call age related diseases including Alzheimer's and dementia.

Having arrived at BB post dealing with all the above, the actual process of the exchange starts. A common occurrence at all these events is the snaking queue. Add the sneaky, hoity-toity, God! This is gonna take a while glances, the others behind you give you after they notice the semi-truck load of stuff you plan to exchange for some slips of paper and you begin to wonder if it was worth the trouble to drive all the way from Cambridge Layout to the BB on Old Madras Road. To tell you the truth it wasn't but I had to humour the family! Besides the kitchen was bereft of baked/fried/powdered/salted snacks, cheese and such life saviours. Aperitifs sadly didn't make the list.

Then the weighing began. While the process was on I took a quick scan of the surrounding hills of stacked newspapers, bottles, rusted cans, chairs minus the backrest, bald tyres, a broken commode! A slight satisfactory smile creased my lips- our slightly more than Bantamweight waste did not include broken WCs! Now at this point I would like to explain to all readers who are not aware of the conditions that apply to the BB exchange- after having allocated coupons depending on the value per kilo and total kilos handed over at the exchange counter, shoppers-to derive maximum benefit of the coupons must purchase four times the value of the aforementioned coupons worth of goods at BB over a specific period of time. This effectively translates to a flat 25% off on your total purchases, but on the bright side you can purchase more items which you will not need in a year's time which can be converted into coupons again that can get you more stuff. Kishore Biyani and team have a neat racket running round here.

Coupons handed over, the next leg of the adventure was about to begin. Being some what veterans at this game we braced ourselves for the amount that had to be purchased for the maximum benefits- suffice to say Bantamweight translates to 51kg - 54kg! After a hurried recco of items I might require I retire to the ground floor where my aforementioned necessities are stacked. I quietly fill the trolleys with the requirements and inform the famliy that I shall be waiting near billing counter number 14. Three hours of laborious struggle over four floors, groceries piled into three trolleys, clothes and shoes/sandals for the rest, 10,000 odd points gathered on mobile Jumble game while waiting for the family to return after their peregrinations, a cheese croissant and soya stuffed puff thrown in to revitalise the dying cells, dirty glances from a couple with 2 cans of diet coke and a couple of cups of flavoured curd behind us in the queue, purchases billed later we take five to take stock of how much more shopping to be done the next time. Again, suffice to say there is more, much much more in the pipeline in aiding increased stock valuations of the Future Group.

PS: While trawling old photo folders I came across this, something which will be more than just an image or a memory. The only trophy on display in the drawing room, gold plated, the value which was announced that night when we won it escapes me now, but something in the range slightly more than a quarter G. Ah, for nights like those again.
Below: V and me circa Feb 2006.

PPS: The second trip to BB ended with an electronic upgrade in the drawing room. Out went the 21" Philips and in came this:

Its an LG 26" LCD. Visually speaking Life's indeed Good.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Absence makes the mind wander
A heart or two drawn asunder
Messages and mails make me wonder
Could there be days fonder?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fashion is bad for you

Because I and most likely most boys of my age in their formative years were denied a healthy, unhypocritic sex education, our resort at better understanding of the fairer sex was taken up by Michel Adam and his team at Ftv. Hmmm...thats just an excuse for my voyeuristic tendencies. Though I had a late awakening (cable took a while in entering my household) many nights were spent in the drawing room on the pretext of burning the midnight oil for approaching exams. Under the fat BS Raman text books were neatly camouflaged Grishams and Higgins, which would eventually be put away sharp at 00:00 hours for some visual feasting sponsored by Midnight Hot. I wouldn't say it was my first sight of minimalism, but it did develop a short lived lively interest in haute couture. My philosophy in fashion sustains though, since those early easily influenced days- summers are for minimalism and all seasons for all things pretty and beautiful.

Now, Ambika Soni and the team at the I&B Ministry decide that a whole generation of teenagers raging hormones and all will have to be bereft of the coming of age ritual of tuning into Ftv for their daily fix of titillation for the next 10 days! Obviously there is the internet which has various sources to bypass the I&B order. But it just doesn't match up to watching it on TV in mute, ears perked to approaching feet, index finger twitching on the next channel button on the remote, in anticipation of someone entering the room.

Apart from nipping bright Bals/Valayas/et al in the bud it is also a strong indictment that watching fashionable things trotting down a ramp is a crime! In that case wouldn't it be even grievous a crime to broadcast shows like MTV Roadies, Big Boss and such? Oh, that's reality focused programing delving into human emotions under duress, a social experiment. Excellent! Repeated news flashes of Nityananda's friskiness did not cause a shut down of news channels? That would be termed social awareness I guess.

So why cant we choose what we want to watch? Because the I& B guys think "The visuals were found to be obscene, denigrating women and were not suitable for children and unrestricted public exhibition." There is absolutely no denigration of the woman or child as is the case in pornography, in fact it is more like a method of advertising your ware to potential clientele. And its perfect viewing for children in their talkative teenage prime. Have you noticed how they turn quiet when a modestly dressed woman appears on TV? Hell, most adults also do!

This suppressed hypocritical moral policing will continue in the name of saving the child from culture which is clearly anti Indian, more so anti Bharatiya Nari- until maybe the I&B guys do a workshop with Mr. Howard Stern or more locally maybe Nityananda himself.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Morning Beat

Key turned right. Choke pulled up. Petrol tap down. A gentle kick and a deep throated thump emanates, shattering the early morning quietude. A gentle nudge from the right toe and I glide out of the neighbourhood, sadistically pleased that the aerobics instructor lady (attemptee) will now be wide awake. She must have got back home a couple of hours back. HA! WAKEY WAKEY!

The throttle is slowly released as I settle into the saddle, palms caressing the handles, as I reassure my black and silver stallion. The chrome tank, shiny (I spent most of last evening wiping it, hawing steam from the mouth for the final glint) winks occasionally under the street lamps. I move up to second and quickly into third as the road widens, it welcomes me like a long lost friend. Sandwich boards whizz past like a toned down version of the Wachowski Speedracer. The needle advances beating a steady time. The black tarmac shines like a coiled cobra.

Islands of sodium luminescence vandalise the sooty morning. Barreling ahead on fourth the wind bites into my eyes. What started as a low moan is now a frenetic wail. Tears stream down, cool on the face. Every cell is active, alert, lucid, waiting...

Through this thunderous gallop, however, a strange calmness envelopes me. The seething rage extinguished, insecurities thrown to the wind, cynicism emptied, unmindful of ironies, peace reigns. I ride into the wild, unknown, on and on into the horizon until I am a small speck and then....POOF! I am gone.

Or so I think. Escapist!