Thursday, September 15, 2011

Guilty as Charged

Its not every day I put my foot down.

Those who have the unfortunate luck of knowing me on a personal level are, I presume, aware of my laid back approach to insults and confrontations. It’s not easy to piss me off. But when I do get my arse off the couch and decide to fight, I never back down. I pretty much stay at it no matter what. Don't know why but must be the lack of excitement in my life.

Well, that's pretty much enough of my dick is bigger prelude to the tale that follows.

I have only one enemy. I hate it with passion. Apart from the man made concept of god, no other concept, in my opinion, has done more damage to the human fabric than it. It’s the faceless, bloodless, and unavoidable, in your face organization called the bank.

I try to keep my distance with banks. I don't like them but they seem to love me. At least they pretend like they do.

Long ago, in fact about 5 years ago, my wife and I decided to buy a SUV. We sold my wife's Volkswagen Golf for the down payment and financed the rest through a bank known then as Me Bank. Talk about a personality disorder. Of course I knew it was a bank when I walked into it and had to suppress the instinctive desire to brandish a cross.

Of course I got the loan. We were good for it. Of course for the next 5 years we religiously paid the EMI that was owed to it. We, in the meantime, named our steed Ben and then I promptly fell in love with it.

5 years passed.

I go to the bank to get a clearance letter. Lots had happened in those 5 years. Water was found in Mars, we found out that god men can have sex and so can really old Indian politicians, governments were ousted, some were reinstated, a nation held their collective breath while an old man fasted and ranted, ,Mebank was swallowed by Emirates NBD and I gained 10 kilos.

So there I am, feeling really cold, in front of one of those suits whose smile never reaches their eyes. I let him know that I have cleared my debt and now want a clearance letter. He keys in some commands on his computer, thereby perhaps nuking some unfortunate family's life and turns to me saying that my account is still open. He says it with a relish. I could almost feel him sniffing my blood.

I ask him to check again, considering that I had given a million cheques covering the number of months in 5 years ,all of which had been cashed by them. He strikes another bunch of keys. I can almost hear screams in the distance.

'There's a balance of AED 387.75 in your account. Pay that and we will provide you the clearance letter'

I am, as you know pretty stupid, so I enquired why I have to pay that amount. Upon which I am told that it is there on the statement, so I have to pay it.

Now that pisses me off. I hate being told that because it’s written, that's how it shall be. Fuck, I have been fighting that almost all my life.

So I requests him to tell me why that charge is there.

He can't. Why? Because he does not know. He says that it could be a charge due to the integration of the bank. So I asked him if I have to pay when Emirates NBD decides to carpet their office.

Now he does the finger pointing routine. This is where he will tell me to run pillar to post. I told him that I refuse to go anywhere. I want to know where this charge came from and that I am pretty sure that he can find it out for me without me having to go on a pilgrimage for it. Then he asked me to call up the contact centre. I told him I won’t since I am already in a bank.

I am pretty irritating, no?

So he calls up the collection center and asks someone there to check my account and revert back to me. I tell him that since I have met him, he will be the privileged one who will have to deal with me. He grudgingly tells me to call back in 2 days.

I do and am told that he hasn’t got a reply. So I call their contact center. There I am told the amount is AED 239. Amazing. The amount seems to have a life of its own. So I give the contact center chap for whom I have the greatest respect, the same spiel about how I am not planning on paying a single penny unless someone tells me what the charge is for.

Accrued interest I am told. On what? I ask. He can’t say. Funny since I always thought that you need something to charge interest on. He requests me to pay the amount. I say I can’t. I ask him to give me the number of the collection center. Which he gladly gives.

So I call the collection center. The phone is answered by a guy with an Arab accent. So I give him my details. He tells me I have to pay AED 139/- The dancing charge!

I ask him why. He tells me because the banks can charge as and when they feel like it. I ask him to repeat it. Which he does. So I ask him why can’t he just call it a bribe. Now the man is angry. So am I. So I tell him we can do this dance on the newspaper. He gives me his Assistant Manager's number.

I call the number and am answered by a very cheerful man who in the beginning does the friendly Arab intimidation act. This is where he is all smiles and laughs and treats you like an errant client. I am from sales. The trick is lost on me. He sings the same lines. Integration charge, accrued interest etc. I give him my reasons as to why I think the bank is trying to get me to bend over so that it can slide it in and have me thank them for the courtesy. He realizes that I can go on. I am polite but annoying. He promises to get it waived. Tells me he will get back.

He does. After 2 days. Every thing sorted out. All charges waived. I am to contact any branch and get the clearance letter. I do and I get my letter in 2 days.

I thanked every one concerned but one thing still puzzles me.

I am yet to be told why that amount was there in the first place. What was the charge for?

I am aware that many customers who have already shelled out thousands every month just want the whole thing behind them and therefore will pay what ever the bank tells them to; no questions asked. Not many are jobless like me to make a fuss over this.

From what the loan officer told me, no one ever questions this and when you do I guess it gets waived.

Well, that's all folks. Check your statements. If you find a shape shifting amount in your loan statement when you go for closing it, call me. I am your man. I have got all the numbers you will ever need.

And I wont charge you a penny.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Return of the King


A festival the ignorant think of as a harvest festival but in reality is a yearly reminder of a divine PR stunt that went wrong.

Let me tell you what really happened.

Long long time ago, during the times of constant heavenly interventions, there lived a king called Bali (not related to the other monkey Bali who too was screwed by the gods. They don't seem to like the name).

Our King Bali ruled Kerala. (Come to think of it, if the geographical evidence of Ramayana is to be believed, so did the other Bali. Damn, there could be a divine conspiracy here).

Maha Bali as he came to be known was a great king. He was loved by his people. This in itself is a great thing considering mallus don’t like being ruled. They may put up with it but that's just a tactic until each of them figure out how to become the ruler.

During King Bali's time, there were no locks. Why you ask? Because there were no thieves. Yes, contrary to how it might appear now, there was a time when mallus were honest. We didn't need to covet since we lacked nothing. There were no castes and people were treated equally. You just had to fall into the category of being humans. There was no deceit and men always told their wives that their arse looked fat in that dress.

The mallus were so happy with the abundance of food, toddy and great governance that they did away with the gods and worshipped their king instead. This was rumored to be the Tamil influence.

Being gods, this made them feel a tad bit insecure. If humans started becoming good, what purpose will gods serve? It was and still is a valid point. So all the gods went to the big honcho Vishnu for a solution. Vishnu who had a penchant for intervening in human affairs in disguise was delighted to be consulted. This gave him an opportunity to try out a great disguise he had been thinking about while whiling away couple of thousand god years on his 5 headed serpentine sofa cum bed.

So at the behest of his sidekicks, Vishnu dons yet another disguise which he insists on calling Avatars. This time he goes down as Vaman, a Brahman midget. I know that was politically incorrect, but remember this was the times when we were used to calling a spade a spade.

Maha Bali was at that time doing what all kings do when they had a little time in their hands, which was performing a Yagna. This is basically were we throw all sort of things into a fire and chant unpronounceable sentences. This brought out the inner child in us and of course these were the days before the west started making us feel guilty about the global warming they started.

Since Brahmins get their wishes granted (here the story is confusing because I thought all people were treated equally...hmmm), Vaman gets to present his heart’s desire, which turns out to be 3 step of land. Bali, being a mallu, knows a great deal when he hears it and agrees to grant him his desire. That’s when; true to divine nature, Vishnu aka Vaman reveals the card up his dhoti.

He starts growing. This is symbolic of every short person's wish but I am digressing,

Soon he grows out of the stratosphere, and with his head playing for space with the moon, spoke then, in a thunderous voice, "Bali! In my first step, I traversed all of Earth and the Nether worlds. In my second step, I covered the heavens and all the celestial bodies therein. Thus, I have now covered all realms of your dominion. You promised me three paces of land. Tell me where I should place my foot for the third time."

Upon which Bali realized that he been punked.

So he kneels down and offers his head.

And Vishnu squashes him down the netherworld which is not in any way to be misunderstood as Netherland.

Since Vishnu realized that this act could affect his divine image among the mallus, he decides to do a little damage control. So upon the great kings last wish made from the Netherworld, he gets to vacation in Kerala once every year to watch the deterioration of his kingdom on yearly frame by frame basis.

And mallus for centuries lay out the most amazing welcoming party every year for their king's return. Now of course he will have to distract them from the celebrations in Asianet,

Well, that’s Onam for you.

If it wasn't for the Sadya, mallus would have led a procession to the pearly gates. The toddy didn’t help either.

For the popular version of the story please go here

Friday, September 2, 2011

The short falls of metrosexuality.

The beauty of a short vacation is that you are in and out of the place before everyone gets tired of you.

I am not easy to live with. Hell I am so difficult to be around with that most of the time I am figuring out ways to kill myself.

Thing is I am a very sensitive person.

I take offence very fast. I am of the opinion that everyone out there is some way or the other trying to insult me.

Thing is I am a short, balding, overweight south Indian guy. There is probably something you will say to make me feel bad when you talk to me.

'It's a short walk from here'

'Overhead conditions are clear'

'That's heavy stuff pal'

'Don't sweat the small stuff'

See? It’s better to just keep quite when you are with me but then I might feel you are prejudiced towards me because I am a short, balding , over weight south Indian. That can offend me too.

There’s just no winning when you are dealing with sensitive people. I should know.

Don’t agree with me because I know you are just being patronizing because I am vertically challenged.


Someone somewhere said that you should do something that scares you at least once in your life. Apart from getting married, I recently went to a unisex saloon in the smog city of Bangalore to get a pedicure and manicure to put that saying to test.

Yeah. Call it my futile attempts in getting in touch with my feminine side. The only thing feminine about me are my man boobs. Sometimes I turn myself on if I happen to catch a sight of myself naked in the mirror after a bath.

I am digressing. Talks of boobs always do that.

Anyway, for moral support I dragged my father in law with me. He is one of the few men who has had whatever feminine side he might have had drained off him by having lived his whole life in a household consisting only of women. His wife and two daughters. He has held onto that masculinity like a drowning person clutches onto to a lifebuoy. Not the soap you moron.

So when attempting something which can scar you emotionally, I deduced that, having such a man by your side was like going to the butchers with Lady Gaga. It’s kind of a win win situation.

There’s something about having a woman marinating your pedis and manis in a bowl of warm water with antiseptic and soap, prior to clipping your talons. It’s embarrassing. It feels nice but it’s still embarrassing. Call me old fashioned but it’s strange having to pay someone to cut your nails. Especially when you have a good wife at home who can do this for you free. Only hurdle will be convincing her to do it. I have heard that compliments works well with women. Maybe I will go with:

That tent you are wearing compliment your figure. Could you cut my nails?

That should work.

Unknown fact: We were the first men in that unisex parlor to have ever done a manicure and a pedicure. So metro sexuality is still a myth in India. I knew it, you lying, cunning bastards.

Once we got our feet and hands to a presentable conditions, the visibly disgusted ladies where requested to give us a facial on a whimsical desire by the pop in law. I totally understood him. All our life we have been hearing about this beauty salon visits by the fairer gender, now was chance to find out what the fuss is all about.

Women, we found out likes choices.

They are the reasons why menus were invented. Think about it, when you walk into a restaurant, a man has only one thing on his mind. Hungry. Must find food. Give him any choices; you have on your hand a confused man. This is why men have affairs and always comes out looking like a bastard. They just don’t know what to do when there are too many choices. When life presents it like that, men like to have everything, including the one he really wants. Bastards. Precisely.

Women on the other hands, likes choices. Ever seen a woman with one handbag, a pair of shoes and 3 sets of clothes? Men can manage it, well, without the handbag but then who am I to judge fashion? For a normal, fully functional woman, she needs choices in her men too. She will need that ex boyfriend who was someone she cared for, she will need that blogger male friend who is the only one who understands her, she will need that college mate who is her best friend and the only one who really knows her and she will need her husband for whatever reasons. Women like having choices. They handle it better.

Men like it too but unlike women they just don’t understand things like right occasions and perspectives.

So when the ladies started listing out the various facials that are available, we were understandly confused.

There was, I swear, something which involved gold. In today’s economy!

We decided on something which involved just putting creams on our face and rubbing it in and then wiping it off. We had seen this on TV. It had looked silly but if Mel Gibson can carry it off, so could we.

We couldn’t.

For one thing, it’s boring. Then there’s this scrapping they do on your nose which is downright painful.

Before my masculine conspirator could suggest waxing for his academic research, we got out of there.


Will definitely do the manicure and pedicure again. It is indulgent and great. We felt like a million dollars for a whole day, while we kept waving our hands and keeping it on top of the table for a change.


Probably not. We looked at each other and figured it’s not really worth it. But then they didn’t have much to work to begin with. Pop in law thinks that they charged us a lot because we had more face for them to work on.