Sunday, June 29, 2008

Chick-flicks and Optimism

This Friday, I had the misfortune of watching the movie '27 weddings' or '27 dresses' or '27 wedding dresses' or something like that. Well, you get the idea. Shakespeare once said, crap by any other name would still stink which his PR person turned into the famous quote 'the rose by another name would still smell as sweet'. So it does not matter what the exact name of the movie is, it killed me.

The netflix DVD had turned up mysteriously at our home. I think it is time I changed the password on my Netflix account, so that such movies don't appear unexplicably in my movie queue. In all fairness to my wife, good soul that she is, she did warn me not to watch it before she left for work on Friday. I think she had said 'you will hate it'. Yes, those were her exact words.

But as a moth drawn to a flame, I watched it in the early part of the evening before my wife came home. Call me an optimist, but no matter how bad a movie is, I always watch it till the end in the belief that something will happen in the next few minutes, that will redeem the movie in my eyes. And so I ended up torturing myself. When my wife came back from work, she chuckled at me - it was a 'I told you so' chuckle.

Most children will feel tempted to do something that they are told not to. Some people never grow out of that phase even as adults. I have a horrible feeling that I maybe one of them. '27 dresses' was probably the worst 'chick-flick' that I have seen in a while. Once bitten, twice shy is what they say. So I have resolved to steer clear of such movies. But I have to stop this post soon now. My wife has just put on 'Dirty Dancing' on our DVD player and I need to watch it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Our famous relative

A couple of months ago, I found out that I have Sri Lankan relatives. No one in our family knows who they are or where they are. My brother came across this interesting family trivia when he was chatting with my mother. Apparently, one of my grand-uncles - my mother's father's brother, went to Sri Lanka (Ceylon back then) for work sometime in the first half of the 20th century and he settled down there. He married a Sri Lankan woman, had kids and he never came back to India; not even to visit. The only reason my mother knew that he had a Sri Lankan family was because he used to write regularly to his brother (my grandfather) and once he sent some photographs of his wife and kids. My mother says that the woman was very beautiful. Once my grandfather passed away, there were no more letters and so no one knows where his family is and how his kids/grandkids are doing.

My brother has therefore decided to put a spin on this story. He says he has adopted the Sri Lankan cricketer Kumar Sangakkara as our long-lost cousin (or 2nd cousin to be precise). His reasons are:
1. He is a very good cricketer.
2. He is quite intelligent and extremely articulate.
3. He comes off as a very likeable person.
4. Since the chances of finding our real relatives are next to none, we might as well pick and choose the best.
And so by slightly less logical and slightly more opportunistic deduction, Kumar Sangakkara is our relative. Elementary, my dear Watson !

Friday, June 6, 2008

A tale of 2 flights

Once upon a time, there lived a man who was a software consultant by profession. There was a time in his life, when he used to travel a lot for work. He did not like it much but he had no choice. Every Monday morning, he would wake up at an unearthly hour and go to the Sacramento airport and take the 6 am flight to Minneapolis. Once there, he would eagerly wait for Thursday evening to take the 6 pm flight back home. Thank God, there were direct flights at the times he wanted. He always shuddered to think how he would have coped with it if not for these direct flights. Most probably, he would have quit his job and found something else to do.

He saw a lot of familiar faces in both the flights. He pitied them as probably they pitied him. Some of them even gave him a hint of a smile of recognition which was usually reciprocated by him - unless it was on Monday mornings, which is when he would mostly be sleep-walking and hardly notice anything going around him.

Our man was also quite well-known at home for his procrastination, usually when it came to things which only affected him. Once he forgot to buy tickets in advance and he could not manage to get tickets on his usual flights. So he was forced to buy tickets through Frontier airlines which had a stopover in Denver. He cursed himself but tried to be optimistic about the whole thing, telling himself that this was precisely what he needed to jolt him out of his procrastination tendencies. He swore to himself that he would never wait to buy tickets at the last minute.

The flight to Minneapolis through Denver was quite uneventful. As it was a Monday morning, he graduated from sleep-walking in the airport to a full-fledged slumber on the flight to Denver and then again from Denver to Minneapolis. It was on the trip back home on Friday evening from Minneapolis that he noticed that Frontier Airlines had newer aeroplanes with better facilities inside the plane. Every Frontier flight had some kind of an animal painted on its rudder. That was a neat thing to do, he observed. Inside the plane, there were 2 rows of seats in sets of 3, on either side of the aisle.

Soon he was seated on the right hand side of the aisle in the center seat. As soon as he sat down he noticed that every seat had its own little TV screen and a set of headphones. He plugged his headphones into the socket, adjusted them on his ears and set the channel he wanted to see using the controls on his right armrest and relaxed back in his seat. He changed the channels many times, changed the volume settings many times almost greedily, as if he wanted to make the most of this TV screen. When they landed, he was surprised at how fast they had reached Denver. He disembarked and walked at a brisk pace to his gate for the flight to Sacramento. Seeing him walk then, you would never believe that this was the same person who wafted sleepily through the airport like a petulant schoolboy on Monday mornings.

Very soon, he was on the flight to Sacramento. This time he was seated on the left hand side of the aisle, again in the center seat. He was thrilled to see that this plane too had the TV screens for each seat. He concluded right then that all the Frontier aeroplanes must be like this one and that he liked Frontier. It was a pity that they they did not have direct flights to Minneapolis. The plane took off soon and he decided to watch some TV. He put on his headphones and changed the channel using the controls on his right armrest, but the controls seemed to be broken. He pressed the channel buttons hard - he pressed the up button and the down button but the screen did not change. However he felt a light tap on his right shoulder. He turned to see the passenger on his right (henceforth referred to as "Passenger On Right" or POR for short) telling him that he was changing POR's channel and not his own. Our man was embarassed and he apologised. He used the controls on his left armrest and they worked like a charm. He smiled at POR and POR smiled back as if saying it was ok and that he understood.

After a while, our man decided to change channels and he committed the same mistake again. He changed POR's channel once again, but this time he realised his error in a split second and changed it back rightaway hoping that he was fast enough for POR not to notice. Unfortunately, POR's persistence of vision was that of a normal human being and our man's actions definitely took eons more than that time. So POR noticed it and this time again there were apologies rendered by our man and explanations given as to how on the right hand side of the aisle, the center seat had controls on the right and how he had just sat there on a long flight and how his brain had got accustomed to that and so on. POR was nice enought to laugh it off. There were smiles all around. Smiles of amusement, mature smiles acknowledging the apologies and sheepish smiles tendering the apologies. It was all good.

Soon the Sun set and it was dark inside the plane. People including our man and POR started dozing off. After an hour or so, our man woke up and the first thing he realised was that he could not hear anything on his headphones. He proceeded to increase the volume and he increased it to such an extent that POR sprang up with a start from his sleep and took his headphones off. He glared at our man with eyes that could kill. Gone were the mature and amused smiles. For the first time, our man felt thankful for all the metal detector checks that passengers had to undergo at the airport. He apologised profusely once again and this time he took off his headphones, wrapped the wires and put it away in the seat-back pocket in front. He promised POR that he was never going to watch TV again. Not on this flight and probably never on any flight. POR just kept watching him, his eyes were tiny slits trying to stem the anger which was trying to burst its way out.

Our man closed his eyes trying to shut out the shame that his actions had drawn towards him. Very soon, he realised that try as he might, the incident kept playing endlessly over and over again in his mind's eye and slowly it became difficult to control his laughter. He sensed though that laughter would not go down too well with POR. So he put his head down on the seat-back table in front and hid his face. He pretended to sleep while the urge to laugh went away, just supressing the full blown laughter into a long smile. Soon the plane landed and he avoided all eye-contact with POR. Light traveller as he was, he burst through the airport and caught a cab to go home.

He could not wait to tell his wife about his adventures on the plane. In the cab, he even thought of a few theories of how frequent travel, frequent time changes and frequent disruptions to his body cycle were affecting his brain. Another theory he mulled around for a while was that most right-handed people would always go for their controls on the right. Surely he was not the first person to do this. Maybe he was the first person to do it 3 times in the space of an hour. He also thought of a few solutions that could counter this problem. Very soon he was home.