Monday, 26 November 2012

Demand for Cooks in Bangalore

Eating homely food is really a big challenge in Bangalore, specially for bangalorean from other states. For those who can’t cook, there’s no other option but to eat outside. Now one can’t bite pizza or briyani every day, everyone prefer homely food. There are hell lot of options  out here in Bangalore, right from North Indian meal to South Indian meal and never forget Andhra meal which one can get just at any corner within Bangalore. But nothing can compare to a home-made meal.For those who can cook well, sometimes they get little frustrated spending time in kitchen after returning from work. Bangaloreans usually have to spend hell lot of time in the road as Bangalore is quite well know for it's smooth traffic. To be honest we don't get irritated when we get stuck in traffic jam, as it's part and parcel of our daily life. There's a simple solution, just hire a cook to enjoy a tension free and happy life. Most of these cooks are from Orissa, they have a huge gang out here and believe me they are in huge demand. They usually prefer to cook in houses where there are 4-5 members and they demand around Rs 1000 -1500 per head. In one day they cook at minimum 6-8 houses. They are not professional cook but some smart guys from village and I really feel happy for them as they earn pretty decent to support their families back home. 

Earlier I thought that demand for those cook was limited to bachelors but I was wrong. For many working couples preparing food is a big challenge, specially in the weekdays and sometime the relationship just go for a toss for this very basic issue. Few years back we also felt the need for a cook and started to search for a good one. I had a hard time and I collected some 20-30 contact numbers and called each and everyone of them. Some of them said that our house a bit far from their place, few other said they would work only in houses where there are 4-5 members or else we have to pay the equivalent amount, some said they would come but only at 4 PM as they didn't have any other free time slot. After 2-3 weeks of hard work we  literally got fed up and was about to drop the idea but somehow we managed one cook who was ready to come at 7 AM. Initially 2-3 days he came on time and he cooked quite well.

But one morning he called me and said “brother, I was just on my way but unfortunately my bicycle tire punctured. As there is no cycle repair shop nearby so I am sorry, I will not be able to come today”

Again after one or two days he called me and said “Brother, today morning my cousin is coming to Bangalore, so I will have to go to the railway station to pick him up”

Again after one or two days he called me and said “brother, I am not feeling well, I have very high fever and I am on medicine (he coughed quite badly over the phone). This excuse is actually like a trump card for them as they usually play it once or twice a month. If they call and say they have fever then it's almost certain that they would not be coming for at least next 2-3 days.

After 2-3 weeks he became quite comfortable with us and instead of calling he started to send SMS on the  particular day he wouldn't come.  We were so much irritated with that guy that we decided not to continue him.

After Jia's  born, my mom was with us for a couple of months and once she left it was very difficult for us to manage. Again we decided to hire a cook and we had a hard time to search for one. Ultimately we managed one at a little higher price but the new guy was awesome.  After a few days some similar kind of drama started  but  with some different flavor. He used to send me SMS which i could read as  “I can’t well. I cannot today” and immediately he would switch off his mobile. After few more days I started to receive his SMS with exactly the same texts very frequently and ultimately we had to discontinue him. That time we decided not to hire any cook in future.About a month back Anjali joined office after a long break and we started to keep Jia in a nearby creche.  We again felt the need for a cook. One of my friend recommended someone and said that he cooks really nice and he is a decent man and very punctual. He is quite elder to us and we fixed him at a little higher price than the previous one. His name is Ravi and we call him “Ravi Ji”. 

Ravi Ji is the best we have experienced so far and he can cook a variety of dishes and he was also quite punctual for the first two weeks.  

But one day he called me and gave me the cycle tire puncture excuse. I just wondered “Oh! Not again”

One day he called me and said “Brother, it’s raining. How will I come?”
I said “if it rains, I wouldn't go to office or what?” 

Last week he played his trump card  as he called me and said in the old fashioned way "“Brother, I am not feeling well, I have high fever and I am on medicine (he coughed quite badly over the phone). there was a very high possibility that he actually had fever but I accepted it as an excuse :)

I said to him “would you come tomorrow?”
He said “I have taken medicine, I think by tomorrow I would be OK”

Next day I called him several times but his mobile was switched off and I was a little pissed off.

Again next morning I called him but he didn't take my call. I was quite angry with him as I never expected him to be like the other cooks we experienced earlier. But that day he actually came to work and I said to him "Ravi Ji, if you don’t come to work, you should inform us and at least send an SMS. He told me that the previous day he was not well and slept the whole day.

I asked him “why you didn't take my call today morning?”
He said “You never called me today morning”
I replied "Aree Ravi Ji, at this age it doesn't look good if you lie like this"
Ravi Ji smiled and tried to justify that he never received my call.

After some time my good friend “Ravi Pratap Singh” called me and said “you called me today morning, sorry I couldn't take your call that time” I was a little surprised and wondered “when did I call him?” After talking to him I had a look at  my mobile and realized that I actually called “Ravi Pratap Singh” a few hours back.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Story of Our First TV

We have a very wonderful and quite hilarious memory of our first television set. I was born and brought up in Bongaigaon, a town in Assam. I don’t remember exactly how old I was that time, maybe I was in 3rd or 4th grade. My father decided to buy a color TV. That time 21 inch color TV was more costlier than today's  price J. During those days we had only one TV in our entire locality and it was a portable Black & White television. The news spread far and wide that my father would buy a new color television and people in the neighborhood was very much excited. People started to give suggestions and one uncle suggested my father not to buy a TV with a remote control, as those were not of good quality. He said that if the remote is damaged or lost then the entire TV would be useless. That was the time when remote control color TV was launched for the first time, at least in our hometown and there were only one or two TV dealers. My father decided not to buy a remote control one, may be because it would be little over budget for him.

My father knew one of the TV dealers quite well and decided to buy from there. Coincidentally on that day one engineer from the Beltek company visited that dealer's shop. The guy somehow convinced my father to buy a “Beltek Color TV” with a remote control. We, including many of our neighbors simply waited for my father to return home. Now installing a TV was not any child’s play that time as it required to fix the big antenna's with the booster. The antenna had to be fixed in a particular direction, else it would not be able to capture the desired signal.  Everyone believed that the picture quality was directly proportional to the height of the antenna. People usually used metallic pipe to fix their antenna's and to support the tall pipe it required digging up the ground and hell lot of strong wires to support it from at least 3 different directions, each 120 degree apart.

The next day was almost like a festival and some 8 to 10 people worked really  hard to fix the antenna. It was a very difficult job as the pipe was too tall and quite heavy, also there were electric wires nearby and made the task more difficult. It took almost 3 to 4 hours to fix the antenna. Everyone was desperate to watch some moving pictures on the TV screen.  Many people, including my father tried a lot but nothing was visible on the tv screen. My mom was quite busy preparing and serving tea/snacks to all of us. Someone suggested that the direction of the antenna was not proper and few guys tried to rotate the pipe. All of a sudden someone screamed “it’s came, it’s came!” Out of excitement everyone rushed to the TV room. But nothing was visible on the screen and the guy tried to justify and said “just now I saw some moving pictures”. The drama continued the whole day and finally everyone left with a heavy heart.

Next day my father went to the dealer and explained everything to them. One mechanic came along with my father to help us installing the TV. The guy analyzed everything and said that the position of the antenna was wrong, as just at a distance of half a KM there was a tall and big tower of the Indian Oil Corporation. He explained to us that the tower interfered with our share of the TV signal. So, people started to work again and fixed the antenna at a different position.  Many people worked hard for the whole day and at the end nothing was visible on the screen. The mechanic was adamant on his point that the IOC tower interfered with the TV signal.On that evening some people came to watch Chitrahaar and they were highly disappointed to go back empty handed. Next day people took our TV to an entirely different location, to the house which already had a TV in our locality. People tried many things, from rotating the antenna to adjusting the booster, but still nothing was visible on the screen. The drama continued for almost a week and not only us but the entire locality was literally irritated as well as very much frustrated. One uncle  said my father “see, I already told you not to buy a remote control TV”.

My father decided to replace the TV with a non remote control one. One evening my father and one neighbor uncle went to the dealer to replace the TV. After so much of drama somehow the excitement was gone and I already went to sleep as my father returned home very late that night. As soon as I woke up in the morning I heard some kind of sound. I saw a TV in the drawing room and cricket match between India vs New Zealand was going on. The picture was very clear and the cricket field looked so green. It was like a dream to me and I just screamed “wow, the new TV is so nice” My father smiled  and said that it’s the same TV we bought few days back. My father actually went to replace the TV but fortunately the same engineer from the Beltek Company visited the dealer's shop that evening. He did some simple setting in the remote control and almost like a magic my father could see clear picture on the TV screen.

It was really a very nice TV and my father had an emotional attachment with it. It had 12 channels and initially we watched only DD1 but few years later we could also watch DD2. Later when we grew up and took cable connection, we argued a lot with our father to buy a new TV as there were lot of better option in the market but my father never exchanged it. I think more than the money part, he was quite attached with that TV. When I was in my engineering college, our TV was at a very pathetic condition and finally my father had to buy a new one. 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The TB6 Era

We've grown up without any internet, computers or video games. On the Sunday’s we used to play cricket match and we literally played at each and every corner of our hometown and with  every possible kid in town, right from rubber ball to leather deuce ball. Everything was perfectly fine, but that time late teenagers were deprived of some basic entertainment. Most of them had no other options, except for those Sunday morning shows and after experiencing few shows, everyone felt little cheap and didn't like to continue further. The pathetic situation was not only limited to the young adults, but also to the elders as well. I think the middle aged people got some sort of consolation in the form of Friday late night movies on Doordarshan.  The censor board must had been little generous that time, as I can recollect few glimpses of the Friday night movies. But those stuffs will definitely be considered as peanuts by today's generation. 

After the introduction of cable television, guys tried their luck on some programs like Santa Barbara, MTV Grind, etc, but soon it got boring. Few people had the luxury to keep VCR at home and they rented video cassettes whenever they wanted. Sometimes grown up kids used to rent VCR on special occasions like “Saraswati Pooja”, as the Pooja is specially for students, so parents usually didn't argue much if their kids stayed out of home, even during the night for the Pooja preparation and celebration. Guys usually used to rent VCR along with 5 or 6 cassettes for 24 hours. The list usually included one Bruce Lee kind of movie, one Hollywood action movie, 2 Bollywood blockbusters and 2 entertaining movies for the night. But thanks to the electricity department, few of the movies always remained unseen. 

Now in  those dry days, there came an Avatar in the form of “TB6” channel to enliven not only the late teenagers, but also the middle-aged, as well as the older people. The channel was of Russian origin and was broadcast-ed by cable operator in many areas across India, for almost over half a decade. The channel had given immense entertainment and spread love and happiness among the common man and beyond any doubt must have contributed a lot to India’s population boost.

TB6’s main attraction was Playboy branded movies on Saturday nights. In our locality the cable operators broadcast-ed it very late and people there could enjoy the magnificent channel just for couple of years, before the government decided to ban it. Although the channel was live only after midnight, but it had enormous viewership. TB6 had an intoxicating effect on many of us, as it was the only source for the kind of entertainment we looked for those days. I knew about TB6 much before I had actually watched it. The channel was telecast-ed in BRPL Township much earlier. I was able to “Darshan” it very late, only when it started to broadcast in our locality.

During those days, we usually used to play cricket match with one team or the other on Sundays. Earlier we used to start our match by 9 AM, but later, as few of our seniors became so much addicted to Saturday late night TB6, we could have started our match only after 10 AM. Most of us knew about TB6 and about the Saturday night playboy, but it was extremely difficult for us to have had watched it late night. Few of our friends were extremely lucky, as they used to sleep in the TV room itself. Michael was one such lucky fella and he never used to miss the Saturday late night erotica. Quite often he used to narrate us the exotic stories he used to watch. Padu was so excited, that on few occasions, he secretly used to go to Michael’s house in the middle of the night, to experience the Saturday night sensual magic.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

A Memorable Diwali

It was Diwali time and we wanted to celebrate it in a little different way. We were in 11th grade (class 11) that time and were enjoying our school days in KV BRPL. We thought of celebrating Diwali in BRPL township with our friends. It was little difficult for some of us who stayed quite far from township but finally I and Ratul decided to go for it. My house was in the mid way between town ship and Ratul’s house and from my place to township it was 15-20 minutes bicycle ride. Our plan was to enjoy the evening and return home by 9 PM.We wanted to enjoy that evening in a more adventurous way by throwing crackers inside people’s house and we also had a few targets in our mind, some teachers and few of our female class mates. I, Ratul, Ajay and Padu were the main culprits, although there were few more guys.  Padu was riding the bicycle and I sat at the front, Ratul and Ajay were on another bicycle. First we went near our Mishra sir’s house and threw few crackers inside his house and then we immediately disappeared from there. Wow! It was so much fun and we all just loved the thrill. But there was a little problem as it was quite windy and we struggled to light the crackers.

Considering the amount of fun we were having and also the risk involved we thought of some another alternative to light the crackers. Immediately Padu came up with an idea and it really worked. We bought some agarbatti’s, lighted few of them and fixed them at the front of our bicycle. It was very effective and we were able to light the crackers very comfortably even thought it was very windy.We threw crackers in few more houses and felt very happy and satisfied. Now Padu badly wanted to throw crackers in one of our female class mate’s house.  As soon as we reached near her house we saw her father standing in front of the gate in his Lungi, lighting Diya’s near the gate. We waited for a while but her father stood at the same place for a long time, as if he was testing our patience  There was a Maruti van parked just in front of the gate. All of a sudden Padu started his Bicycle and tried to hide beside the van. I was little tensed that time as her father was just standing on the other side of the van. Without wasting much time Padu lighted a cracker and threw it. The uncle was simply jolted with that act and he tried to go inside the house, he had no idea what just happened? Immediately we lighted 2 more crackers and threw at him but that time he saw us and shouted “who’s there? you bloody fool… who’s there?” Padu started his bicycle and tried to disappear from there. To our surprise the uncle started to chase us and screamed from behind. It was quite funny as described by some of our friends later who were hiding nearby at that moment. The uncle in his Lungi chased us for quite a distance but ultimately he gave up.

It was so much fun and we were having a wonderful time. We gained some confidence and started to throw crackers at random houses. I threw a cracker inside one house without consulting anyone and immediately 2-3 guys started to chase us. All my friends shouted “run, run just disappear from here”.  Unknowingly I threw a cracker inside SP’s (Superintendent of Police) house.  Those guys, not in their uniform though, were not like the earlier uncle and they literally chased us for a long time and finally caught us near the infamous township pond. We had an argument with them and as soon as we got some opportunity everyone just disappeared in the dark. I and Padu were together and hid somewhere near the pond. But Ratul was left alone and poor guy was very much tensed and he tried to hide in someone’s garden. Suddenly one of the security guard asked him “What’s up? Who are you?” Ratul was very tensed but his major advantage was that he looked quite decent and he decently replied to the security guard, but obviously  a different name. The guard asked “what is your father’s name?” Ratul was very confused and one name came to his mind that moment “Mr R.M. Hazarika “, coincidentally he was the CEO of BRPL that time. The guard was very impressed and asked him “oh! when did you come?” Ratul replied “just few days back”. Again the guard asked “so, you will be staying for few more days” Ratul replied that he would be staying few more days and tried to avoid that guy and left from there.

After around half an hour we all met at some place and it was time for us to go home as it was already 9 PM. But Padu and Ajay suggested us not to go home that time as the security people at the main gate might catch us. It was quite a good advice, so I and Ratul stayed the night at Padu’s place.

Wish You all a Very Happy Diwali

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

One Funny Miscommunication

People in general are very much attracted to babies and many of us don’t hesitate to approach the parents to have a close look at their cutie pies.  New mothers usually have hell lot of confusions and whenever they see a woman holding a baby they would never hesitate to approach her and discuss about their confusions.  One day my wife took Jia to a nearby park. I think Jia was into her 4th month that time. The park is usually crowded with Parents/Grandparent and their little angels during the early evening. One elderly lady was holding a cute baby and as soon as she encountered Anjali, she approached her to have a look at Jia.

Now there was a little problem as the elderly lady spoke in Kannada. Although Anjali doesn't understand Kannada, except for a few words but sometimes she pretend that she know Kannada very well.  Specially while dealing with any auto driver she would behave like that. For example if she needs to ask any auto driver whether he would go to JP Nagar?, she would ask  something like this “Eddu… JP Nagara?“ Few times I have noticed some kind of secret smile on the driver’s face.  

Now the elderly lady asked Anjali something and Anjali didn't have any idea what she asked? She simply replied “Eddu… 4 months aaa” The lady was not satisfied with her reply and again she started to ask something in Kannada. Now Anjali was not in any mood to say “Sorry. I don’t know Kannada; can you please speak in Hindi or English?” She tried her best to convince the old lady and the drama continued for a while. Finally the poor lady realized that it would not work out like that and all of a sudden she pulled down the pajama of the baby she was holding and let Anjali had a close look at him to let her know that  it’s a baby boy. Immediately Anjali realized what the lady actually asked her?  and she replied “Oh! My little one is a baby girl and we named her Jia”

Friday, 2 November 2012

Ragging Days, Part-1

Within a few days I realized that our ragging was not an act of aggression or any kind of "Vulgar Display of Power” but it was actually some ways to open us up perfectly to the seniors. Our ragging period is one of the most memorable phases of my life. Every hostel/college has their own set of ragging rules and in our hostel also we had certain simple rules. 

1) Entire 1st semester batch  need to wear complete formal all the time.

2) The entire fresher’s required to wake up early morning by 5 AM and had to go for jogging.

3) We  had to introduce ourselves to each and every senior and that too in their own room and not anywhere else.

4) We had to memorize “full name, semester, block number, room number, branch, which place he belongs” for each and every hostel boarder, including the fresher’s.

5) Cigarettes and alcohol were strictly prohibited for the fresher’s during the ragging period.

Those were the basic rules and anyone who violated any of the rules had to face some kind of music.

It was quite painful to wake up early morning but once I woke up and got ready, I really enjoyed it. We all used to gather near the hostel gate and for the initial few days some seniors took the responsibility to escort us and also took our attendance. During jogging time all the 1st semester guys would be together.For the first time I experienced how does it feel to be a part of  such a big gang. We had the opportunity to know each other much better and during the initial days quite often we used to see some new faces. The landscape nearby our hostel is just awesome. The "Deepor Bill", one of the largest lakes in the Brahmaputra valley of Western Assam is very near to our hostel. Also the road from hostel to Saatmile pass between two hills and early morning it's too green and quite refreshing. Some of us used to hide cigarettes in our pocket and that was the perfect time to have them.

Now the level and type of ragging varied from senior to senior as well as the fresher to fresher. From my experience I think  it more depended on the fresher.  By talking to a fresher any senior would know very well about his personality and attitude. Some of us had some kind of attitude as well as ego problem. Seniors usually have hell lot of techniques to deal with such fresher's which effectively  lowered  their attitude and ego. I can remember one simple but very effective technique, the seniors used to send such guys to the nearby shops very frequently to bring their stuffs. Some of my friends were able to dance nicely and during entire ragging period they danced in one room or the other. Some  used to sing quite well and they had to sing many times. Not only that, the seniors even encouraged them to dance and sing during the college week on stage in front of the whole college and  the guys managed to gain some kind of crowd appreciation.

Some of my friends were too shy, decent and reserved kind of.  For those guys they had different kind of treatment. It usually started with the basic question “Do you use your hand?” Sometimes some seniors even asked to demonstrate, not the actual demonstration but only the expression part and they would not satisfy if the expressions were not candid enough. Now my good friend Prasu was quite shy initially. One day one of our senior asked him the same question and Prasu replied “I don’t do such things”. The senior was decent enough and only asked him to try it out that night. That day Prasu discussed with us regarding that and Nair immediately suggested him not to give such replies. Nair already had some prior hostel experience but of course not up to engineering standard. Nair and Prasu were from the same school but Prasu never had any hostel experience. Nair said to him “Look Prasu, even if you don’t do such things but whenever any senior ask you, you should always say yes. By the way, you really don’t do it?” Prasu replied “of course I do it man, who the hell doesn't do? We had a little laugh and felt good that Prasu was opening up gradually.

One afternoon I was in my room and all of a sudden Nair came inside with a new guy. Looking at him I understood that he’s our batch mate and might have joined hostel that day itself.  As I was in my shorts, he assumed me to be a senior and he had an artificial expression on his face, the kind of expression some fresher’s usually had in front of seniors. Nair said to him “No need be afraid of man, he is also one of us” The guy asked me “you are also a fresher?” After my confirmation he said in a very weird way “Bhaaaak sala” with an amusing expression on his face.  That was my introduction with Bhushan and I can never forget it. I was totally amused that time and thought the guy would definitely give us some entertainment in hostel and I wasn't wrong. 

Bhushan was one of the most entertaining guys in our hostel during our entire stay for 4 years. One evening one of our senior asked him the same question “do you use your hand?” Bhushan said that he doesn't and he even had some sort of argument with him and said he would never do such thing in life. The senior was very upset with him and he gave him a tiny bottle and asked him to fill the bottle latest by next morning or else the consequences would be very severe. That night Bhushan literally approached each and every fresher in the hostel and asked for contribution. He looked very tense and  said “Please contribute a small amount yaar, otherwise tomorrow they will beat me like a cow” We all were shocked and Bhushan got the same kind of reply from every one “stupid, are you mad or what? How can you ask such a thing to any one?” Next day we asked Bhushan “Dude, were you able to manage last night?” He replied “None of us helped me, I managed it  by myself” We asked “but you said you don’t do such things” He replied “what option I had? I don’t know what more things they will ask me to do?”

The jogging helped me a lot. Since my childhood my mother used to have a hard time to feed me breakfast. I just couldn't take anything early morning before going to school, sometimes I even puked. My mother used to give me heavy tiff-in and usually I and my friends used to finish it by 2nd or 3rd period. But during my ragging days, after jogging we used to have breakfast and I enjoyed it graciously and could easily digest 10-15 puris. During my first vacation one morning my Mom was so happy when she saw me having breakfast without any problem.

It took us a long time to memorize “full name, semester, block number, room number, branch, place he belongs” for each and every hostel boarder. Once we memorized that, to be honest we used to remember them all throughout the four years of engineering. Many of us still remember part of it even today after so many years. Whenever any guest used to visit our hostel looking for someone they would ask any guy they encounter. Say for example a visitor came to hostel and ask anyone of us “Can you please call “Nibaran Wari” The guy would usually escort him to Wari’s room.  On the way he might ask "Are you Wari’s father?" If the visitor would reply as yes then the guy would ask "so, you are coming from Barpeta?" We felt the kind of satisfaction and comfort on the visitor’s face.
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