Category Archives: Humour

A Scam of the Future in India

Recently a friend shared a post on Facebook about how one can “buy” a solar panel installed in a remote desert, as part of an array of panels, and “earn” the revenue generated by the sale of electricity.

Solar panels in the desert

Picture credit: Rodrigo Arancibia Zamora

Very positive initiative indeed. Not only does the company which initially spends millions to set up the solar array recover a neat sum back, but also creates a market for a created asset. Who knows…if you buy it now at say $10, you maybe able to sell it to someone else for $100 a few years down the line. You like the idea?

At the same time, my brain flashed the words “teak farm”. In case you have not come across this, in the 90’s and in the early part of this millennia, it was popular to “invest” in companies that promised to grow certain number of teak trees for you in a remote part of the country. Preferably an estate in the hills. They promised to return crores through the sale of matured trees. People invested. In return, they all got papers indicating the exact place/location where their trees are growing. They invested even more! And … well you can imagine the rest…

I expect that someone with similar talents of scamming will soon offer the (nonexistent) solar panel in the Thar desert scheme to us gullible folks in India. In the age of the social media, there will be fake accounts created to extol the virtues of this company, and how we can expect to get rich quick. And that is always the key message – “Get rich quick”. The scamsters love to tap into the most basic of human emotions – GREED.

Well…you have been warned. Check before you leap. What the heck…Double check. Keep your remonitised money safe in 2017!

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Count the poles

The summer heat beat down upon the train. We were traveling by the Grand Trunk Express. Day 2 of the journey. An afternoon in May. We were somewhere in Madhya Pradesh. Maybe in Maharashtra. I was seated by the open window. The breeze was hot. The rexine seat was hot. My dad sat on the other window seat.  Dozing actually. Head propped up against the top of the window and bobbing up and down in tune with the rhythmic movement of the train. I reached out and shook him by his knee. He opened one eye. His eyebrow went up asking me the question that he did not mouth “What now?”. Well, I did have a question for him. “Why are we going so slow? Why can’t this train go faster?”  Dad looked out. Saw his watch. Looked out again. Silence. I knew that I had to wait. I would get an answer. Eventually. When he was ready to give it. He looked at his watch again. Murmured something to himself. Closed his eyes and said “He is not slow. We are going at approximately 70 kmph now.”

There was that moment again. I watched open mouthed…while thinking “How does he know the speed?” Of course, as any 5 year for whom his dad was his hero (He played Cricket. Regular leather ball cricket. He hit sixes. He took wickets. He took awesome catches. Yes, hero he was), it never occurred to me that he might be fibbing about the speed. It took me another 7 years, and perhaps 3-4 more such travels, before I got to understand the science behind those seemingly magic numbers.

So, here is what was happening. It was all about counting the poles. No, not the polish poles. Count the good old telephone poles. telephone pole

Put up right next to the railway tracks, connecting cities, making trunk calls possible. Yes, trunk calls. Remember them? If not watch “Chupke Chupke” here – skip to 20.49 to see what would happen when there was a trunk call.

But, we digress. Like links on the world wide web. So, lets get back to the poles. Telphone poles. Someone, I don’t know who, but sure would like to know who, used to number them. On these silver coloured poles would a patch of black paint. On it, would be painted in silver or white numbers like 511/1 or 841/9. The slash would be horizontal. The top number indicated the distance in kilometers from some city to the pole. The smaller number was an indicator of the pole number within the next kilometer. In different parts of the country, the Department of Telecom would have differing standards for the number of poles that would make a kilometer. Some had 15. Others 16.

So the trick, or the science was to look at the seconds needle on your wristwatch exactly as the train passed a pole with a fresh kilometer marked on it. And then you waited. Till you passed the pole, 10, 12 or 15 ones later, that marked the next kilometer. You counted the seconds in between the two events. You now had the time taken in seconds to traverse 1 km. You just had to divide 3600 (seconds in one hour…you knew that right?) by the number you had to get the speed in kilometers per hour or kmph.

Later, on my frequent trips between Delhi and Banglore in the mid 80’s, I used to do this to keep myself occupied. Or, at times, to impress the girls traveling in the same 2nd class cubicle. No. Not one of them was impressed. Ever. Not that I learnt. 🙂

Recently one my journey to Delhi and back, traveling in AC comfort, and with broad wide clean windows, I took the next step in impressing a 7 year old with this image as soon as he woke up on day 2 of our journey. I had made a deal with him the previous night that we both would stay awake and watch the journey unfold. His parents were suitably unimpressed with this deal. So, sleep he did. And me…well.. at 4.26 am, this is what I was doing 🙂

GPS showing speed of train

GPS showing speed of train

While he was suitably impressed, his dad, did not like this uncalled for  intrusion into the father-son relationship, and promptly showed his son the application on his smart phone that could do the same thing. The next night, both of them stayed up late into the night watching stations as we flew past them…after all, we were in the Rajdhani.

Maybe by the time he grows up, google glasses like devices will be common enough, for him to coolly say to no one in particular (but the girl  in the cubicle that is)…”You know, we are going at 180 kmph right now”, for him to be suitably rewarded with a smile. Then he can continue “I counted the poles, you know? Learnt it from this great guy who I traveled with when I was a 7 year old”

So, the next time you travel by Indian Railways…go slow.. and count the poles. Who knows…you may impress someone too? 😀

(Inspired to write this after viewing this… post … shared by my friend Chandana)

Dumb and Dumber…yes, that’s me!

I have just reached nirvana earlier today! Nirvana of embarrassment. Of the self-inflicting kind. Read on…

So, went to a function today with mom to wish a senior citizen (her friend’s husband) for completing a 1000 new moons in his life, and to take the couple’s blessing. We know them and their children from our days in Delhi, and so you get the picture…

After lunch, picked up the tamboola (return gift), and a packet of sweet and one of namkeen and was looking to say bye to all of them and leave. Here is what happened next:
Please imagine this with me holding the tamboola in one hand and two other small packets of sweet/namkeen in the other:

Daughter-in-law to me: Ravi, please come & take the gift
Me: Why me? Mom is coming-please give her
Lady: No no, this one for Roopa (my wife did not make it to the function…and I suppose it was good in a way too that she did’nt, had she made it, then you dear reader, would not have had the pleasure of reading this!!!)
Me: Oh, Ok
Lady takes the tray & places a small gift pouch on it, expecting me to pick it up. I on the other hand thought that the tray itself was on offer!

To add to my confusion, someone tried to help me saying “you can put the gift into the bag” referring to the tamboola bag. Boy, was I confused now! How am I supposed to fit the large, colourful, plastic tray into this tiny bag?

In my confusion I kept that bag and the other snack pouches on the tray too! So, now, the lady is holding the tray on one side, and me on the other, with all the bags on the tray.

Luckily, another lady standing nearby, who possibly had prior experience of such dumbness on display said “No. Don’t take the tray. Take that gift pouch and put it into the tamboola”

Aaaaaaaaahhh! Dimaag ki batti jal gayi. Late jalli toh kya hua? Jalli toh sahi!

I picked all the bags from the tray, gave a “Please forgive the idiot” smile n exited from the place as quickly as my feet would take me!!

The point, dear reader, is to learn from above, and to never offer me a gift again on a tray.  You want to give it?  Just hand it over in my hands I say! Don’t confuse this small brain of mine… 🙂

SMS me the money

I got this message on my mobile 2 days back:

Look at the month of July. You have never seen this. This year, July has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays. This apparently happens once every 823 years. This is called money bags. So send this on to 6 friends and money will arrive in 5 days. Based on Chinese mythology the one who does not pass this one will have money troubles for the rest of the year. It wont cost you much for that 6 text messages.

Hmmm … Given that I did not heed the advise and forward it to 6 friends, I can surely look forward to money troubles for the rest of the year. Given that it is a Chinese mythology, it will not end on Dec 31 2011, but extend into 2012 too – possibly till the Chinese New Year date in Feb 2012?

Let us assume that the person who sent me the message must have sent it to at least 6 people. Many of the 6, sent it to another 6 who too possibly sent it on to another 6. You get the drift right? The way I see it, the only ones laughing their way to the bank are the mobile service operators. One message at a time.

This got me thinking. Why is it I chose not to forward it, while others did? Is it that they really believed that bags full of money would land at their doorstep, or perhaps into their bank accounts after 5 days? Why is it that some are believers, and others are not? The human brain – the way we are wired genetically – is the answer says my friend Akash.

One possible reason is that we humans see patterns where none exist.  I kept my promise of cycling in the morning, hence I got to see the movie free in the evening.  I prayed for my child, and thus she got good marks in the test. And so on … This is most likely not a conscious thinking process. So, I send a similar message last time, and got Rs. 1000/- back from my friend that I had given up on.  Maybe this time I will get Rs. 100000/-!

Second possible reason is how our brains have been wired over 10’s of thousands of years.  Imagine two of your ancestors going into the jungle with nothing more than just a wooden stick in hand.  They hear a noise coming from the bushes ahead.  One of them does not bother about it.  The other is more cautious and takes a step back.  Unfortunately, out comes a rather large and hungry lioness, and ancestor #1 becomes a meal quite soon.  Ancestor #2’s brain gets one more reinforcement of the message – “When you see a bush shake/or hear the sound of it, BE AWARE!  This in turn got passed down the generation, till such time as our more recent ancestors did not have to think twice about the flight response!

Let us now consider the opposite effect.  It was the wind shaking the bushes.  No lioness.  No ancestor as a meal.  Good.  One more reinforcement.  And passed down the ages too.  No need to flee.

How are these related to Money bags?  The pattern association makes us see pattern between sending the message and us getting money, even if none exist.  With the cost of sending the message being so neglible and with no negative effect visible – the brain says “What is the worst case here?  I do not get any money, but the best case is I get lots of it, why take a chance to miss out on it, when the cost of the SMS is so small” – that the forwarding option comes naturally to most of us.

What is interesting in the SMS is that it refers to Chinese mythology to support the forwarding.  Wonder how the ancient Chinese do the forwarding?  On stone tablets?  So easy, na?  🙂  Once they invented paper, they must have been copying the message onto bits of paper (costly as it must have been!) and distributing it to friends.  Or maybe they invented SMS centuries back, just that the rest of the world did not know about it!

Here’s wishing all believers bags full of money pretty soon, even if I am the one to bear all the hardship for the rest of the year!  🙂

The beauty and the beast – II

Wifey asks “Did you buy the cycle to exercise with it, or to accessorise it?”  Valid question.  I have hardly added any accessories to my car, have been busy adding accessories to the beauty that  is in the picture below.


When I purchased her, I added a bell with a compass – practically never used (Rs.100/-), and a cycle-computer – really needed(Rs. 250/-), apart from a side stand (Rs. 150/-).  Yes, the cycle comes bare, everything is an accessory.

Four months later, there is a helmet on my head – for safety – will now when I fall (Rs. 1250/-), a bhopu horn – a head turner (Rs 180/-), a set of mudguards – much needed (Rs. 450/-) and a LED rear light – not needed mostly (Rs. 250/-).

With just over 400 km traversed in the last months, it has been moderate exercise, and the same T seems to show more wrinkles than before – it may very well be a mirage!  🙂

What is more interesting is how much interest the cycle generates among people on the road.  Fellow cyclists, particularly  youngsters are the most interested.  Even as they look at the cycle end-to-end, they are most keen to put in more effort and drive past me – it gives them some satisfaction I suppose – they in their normal cycle can overtake this beauty with a beast on it.  I let them do that.  Mostly.  At times I give in to the   “Let us show them what she can do” urge, get on to 3 X 7 (front X rear gear) mode, and just surge away. Ah … ego!

The next most interested people are the ones who get to see the cycle parked or being pushed.  Now with the bhopu horn on it, most people cannot resist try it out.  Every time I go to get air filled at the local puncture shop, people  surround the cycle, ask the price, or about how is the ride, and whether I use it to go to office.  It is a conversation starter for sure.   A guard at an ATM asked me the other day whether I use only a cycle for all my travels.  After he got to know the cost, he wanted to know why I did not buy a motorcycle instead.  I just pointed to myself.  He understood.  Another day, as I was pushing my punctured cycle, a fellow cyclist stopped to enquire as to what was the problem.  He assumed that I was some kind of a cycle expert who could advise him on an upgrade, since he was cycling 15 km to work every day.  He was from Kolkatta, but was working in Bangalore for the last 3 years, and enjoyed his daily commute.

I am enjoying the ride too!

What will the B-I-L do when he gets married?

My brother was narrating an incident from the late 80’s. Two of our relatives were visiting us in Delhi. Unlike us, they really ate slow. Sloooooow. As a result, dad, mom and brother would be finished with their meals, and they would just be starting off. Rice would never be consumed in large amounts. The vegetables, the kollumbu (sambhar), and/or rasam, would all be finished off at the table. This was new for him. We were always used to finishing off any left-over lunch items in the evening, and the evening items, next morning.  Invariably, the dal stays at the bottom of the vessel.  So, when it was decided to prepare fresh food, protein-rich tur dal at the bottom of the rasam/sambhar vessel would be consumed by the maid.  For the few days that they stayed with us, our 1965 fridge was less stressed; and the maid had less proteins from our house.

Cut to today. Tur dal is Rs. 90/kg. Staple dal for us southies. Depending on your style of cooking, anything upwards of 100g will be used to cook rasam, more for the sambhar. How often does the vessel become empty? Rarely. But, yesterday was one such day. I finished off the last of my sister-in-law’s yummy onion sambhar. And hence this flashback from my brother. “How I wish you both would learn to eat like that!”, said my bother to my nieces. “No wastage, and fresh food every meal”. Raised eyebrows all around, highest level of my S-I-L, indicated “Yeah, you wish!”.

So, I asked wifey tonight, “What happens to our left-over rasam or sambhar?”. “R’amma, takes it”. Or maid. “Does she eat or throw it?”, I continued. “It gets consumed. All of it. Apparently R’amma’s young B-I-L polishes it off. So she says.” replied wifey.

R’amma’s B-I-L is getting his daily proteins. Good. For him. I am not complaining. For now.

But I am left scratching my scalp. No, not because of dandruff. That I have, but that is not what is causing this itch. Not today.

What will the B-I-L do when he grows up and gets married? How will he adjust to the non-Mandayam Iyengar rasam or sambhar that his wife is going to make when he gets married? Poor guy, he is getting addicted, and he does not even know it! I can’t have this on my conscience. No, no! Solution, please! I need it like yesterday, but tomorrow will do just fine.

Anger Management

Disclaimer: I am not the author of the article below, and you follow his advise at your own risk! 🙂
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When you occasionally have a really bad day, and you just need to take it out on someone, don’t take it out on someone you know, take it out on someone you don’t know.

I was sitting at my desk when I remembered a phone call I’d forgotten to make. I found the number and dialed it.

A man answered, saying “Hello.” I politely said, “This is Chris. Could I please speak with Robyn Carter?”

Suddenly a manic voice yelled out in my ear “Get the right f**in number!” and the phone was slammed down on me. I couldn’t believe that anyone could be so rude.

When I tracked down Robyn’s correct number to call her, I found that I had accidentally transposed the last two digits.

After hanging up with her, I decided to call the ‘wrong’ number again.

When the same guy answered the phone, I yelled ” You’re an arsehole!” and hung up. I wrote his number down with the word ‘arsehole’ next to it, and put it in my desk drawer.

Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills or had a really bad day, I’d call him up and yell, ” You’re an arsehole!” It always cheered me up.

When Caller ID was introduced, I thought my therapeutic ‘arsehole’ calling would have to stop.

So, I called his number and said, “Hi, this is John Smith from the Telstra. I’m calling to see if you’re familiar with our Caller ID Program?”

He yelled “NO!” and slammed down the phone.

I quickly called him back and said, “That’s because you’re an arsehole!”

One day I was at the store, getting ready to pull into a parking spot. Some guy in a black BMW cut me off and pulled into the spot I had patiently waited for. I hit the horn and yelled that I’d been waiting for that spot, but the idiot ignored me. I noticed a “For Sale” sign in his back window, so I wrote down his number.

A couple of days later, right after calling the first arsehole ( I had his number on speed dial,) I thought that I’d better call the BMW arsehole, too. I said, “Is this the man with the black BMW for sale?”

“Yes, it is”, he said. “Can you tell me where I can see it?” I asked.

“Yes, I live at 34 Mowbray Blvd, in Vaucluse. It’s a yellow house, and the car’s parked right out in front.”

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“My name is Don Hansen,” he said.

“When’s a good time to catch you, Don?”

“I’m home every evening after five.”

“Listen, Don, can I tell you something?”

“Yes?”

“Don, you’re an arsehole!” Then I hung up, and added his number to my speed dial, too.

Now, when I had a problem, I had two arseholes to call. Then I came up with an idea. I called Arsehole #1.

“Hello.”

“You’re an arsehole!” (But I didn’t hang up.)

“Are you still there?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Stop calling me,” he screamed.

“Make me,” I said.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“My name is Don Hansen.”

“Yeah? Where do you live?”

“Arsehole, I live at 34 Mowbray Blvd, Vaucluse, a yellow house, with my black Beamer parked in front.”

He said, “I’m coming over right now, Don. And you had better start saying your prayers.”

I said, “Yeah, like I’m really scared, arsehole,” and hung up.

Then I called Arsehole #2. “Hello?” he said.

“Hello, arsehole,” I said.

He yelled, “If I ever find out who you are…”

“You’ll what?” I said.

“I’ll kick your arse,” he exclaimed.

I answered, “Well, arsehole, here’s your chance. I’m coming over right now.”

Then I hung up and immediately called the police, saying that I lived at 34 Mowbray Blvd, Vaucluse, and that I was on my way over there to kill my gay lover. Then I called Channel 9 News about the gang war going down in Mowbray Blvd, Vaucluse. I quickly got into my car and headed over to Mowbray. I got there just in time to watch two arseholes beating the crap out of each other in front of six cop cars, an overhead police helicopter and a news crew.

NOW I feel much better. Anger management really works.