Sunday, 13 January 2013

Of Conversation with Mansion House in Peninsula

Nice Place. Quiet. No loud music. No Noise. Peninsula.What you having? Premium? Lets go with premium. What is available? Napolean, Exshaw, Mansion House. Mansion House with a bottle of Coke and Water! Can you also get some of those wheel chips please?

How was the trip? It was super da. Clockwork. Bali is a super place. Chilled out. Cultured. There is no manic anxiety that comes with the flesh trade of Bangkok. Fried duck, beef, pork. Pork is the cheapest. But the costs are inflated. There are temples, white water rafting, beaches, island resorts, dormant volcanoes, extinct volcanoes, Ramayana. You should go there. Were there any Indians? There were a few. None in the island we went to for the 2nd half of our trip. But at Bali there were a few Indians. The tour kinds. Wake up at 8.30 board a bus at 9.30 after eating the complimentary buffet and then let the bus take you wherever they think you should definitely go to. The unfortunate thing is that we end up standing out in a crowd. Not by the colour of our skin or by the accent but by not standing in queues and by being rude and impolite and littering. Ha ha ha. Hey Potato Bajji. On the house. Not bad. Nice Place. Can you also please bring those wheel crisps sir. Thanks. 

But the prices were inflated da. Even though the rupee is higher than the rupiah the prices are so high that you don't feel like eating half the things. I was also noticing that those 'firangs' really watch what they spend. There is no unnecessary spending. I am not sure they even eat 3 times a day. They tend to maximise on the perks and the experiences that come for free. The beach swims and the sun bathing and the reading under the shade of the trees et al. They also blend in with the whole culture. Is this like the hippy crowds in Goa/Gokarna? No no. No hippies. Just tourists. They only seem to spend money in experiences. They seem to avoid spending much on food and on travel etc. Even on drinks. I saw them buying one pint and spending 3 hours sipping on that.

Its funny you say that. I had gone to Gokarna during the Christmas weekend. Met this shack owner in Kudle Beach. Shack called Spanish Place. He claimed to be the earliest shack on Kudle along with Ganga Cafe and he mentioned how The Guardian had once written an article which mentioned that Kudle is one of the cheapest places to party. Hence his take is that the kind of foreigners who come here are cheap and don't spend on anything. One of my friends over heard some Israeli complaining about how fish fry costs Rs. 250/- over a video chat to her parents from an internet cafe.

I am not sure if it's because they are cheap or it is a case of saving up to make the most of their holiday. Most of the tourists I met in Bali were not doing a short 5-6 day trip. They were on holiday for a month or longer. I guess you are right. But did you notice how they all seem to be social and civil. There is always a greeting of a Hi or at the very least a smile. You have a point da. This colleague has recently joined our office from Chicago and he was mentioning how the train stations all have citizen clubs who are in charge of the cleanliness and maintenance of stations. His theory was that in India people like to pass the buck. To blame the government, the politicians, the police, the power cuts, the education system and what not. A regressive civic society.

Hmmm. Last month I had the chance to travel in a passenger train from Tirunelveli to Tenkasi. Had this romantic notion of going past multiple small town stations. Each with a single platform and a large banyan tree and a fat little station master in white uniform waving a large green flag. For some reason I imagined passing through the trains in daylight when in reality my train was a late evening train and I didn't see jack shit. What I did do was get into a conversation with my co-passengers. As soon as they realised I was from Chennai they were ticked off by the fact that we had only 2 hour power cuts while they suffered with 15-16 hours of energy sapping heat and darkness. After having blamed the Government for the power situation they moved on to blame the state government for not fighting for the release of water from Karnataka. As the farmers were facing a very tough time. None of them in the train were farmers. But the interesting part for me anyways was when one guy mentioned how Kerala would prefer water flowing into the sea than giving it to Tamil Nadu. They obviously didn't know I was a fraud Mallu. But Mallu or not, I just couldn't get the logic but I am so familiar with his line of thinking as that is how a lot of people we meet, work with etc, behave every day of their lives. I don't care if I don't succeed but you shouldn't either type mentality. And even worse. I am happy when you don't succeed. Schadenfreude. 

I think the majority of us find meaning in suffering and blaming others for it. Viktor Frankl couldn't understand why his fellow Jew inmates in the concentration camp didn't commit suicide. Viktor who? Oh this book da. He wrote this book. Man's search for meaning. He was this Jewish psychiatrist who wound up in a Nazi concentration camp and ended up surviving to tell the tale. The book is not the most literary but I really like this one line gist. A man does whatever he does to find meaning in life. There is this small watch repair shop in Thiruvanmiyur. The man who owns the shop travels 2 hours daily from Vellore to Chennai Central and another 1 hour to the shop everyday in the morning and then returns in the night. Its a really small shop which may not even make 200 bucks in a day. But this man does the same old routine everyday. It probably makes his life easier to lead. It provides him with a meaning to his life.

Can we have a repeat please? What? No. I don't want fish. Hmmm. Shall we have some egg dish? No sir. Not chicken. Egg! Egg pepper fry and a repeat of the Mansion House.That waiter always tries to upsell. When you ask for peanuts, he will push for the veg spring roll. When you ask for the veg spring roll he pushes for the egg. What meaning in life da? I don't there is any meaning anymore. I think the social state in our country is in a down slide to degradation. All this talk on TV about the Delhi Rape. Everywhere in the media, press, internet all sorts of misbehaviour towards women suddenly get prominence. Every other woman is getting groped. But the Delhi incident can not be clubbed with sexual harassment. It was a brutal act. They had beat her up. Brutalised her with a rod and what not. There is no way that can be an act of sex. It was just violence of a perverse kind. What meaning did they find in their life through that?

All forms of rape are perverse machan. Be it violent or non-violent. I can't understand how it is sex when the girl is screaming out in pain and anguish. That's why I can't understand why would people think castration is a just punishment cos these guys will then kill. Whether its a knife or a dick its still violence. Excuse me while I go to the restroom.

I have asked for another repeat da. So you think those rapists should just be served life imprisonment or death instead. I don't know. I am not sure to be honest. I definitely think whatever punishment they get should be something that lasts for their entire life. Just as long as the trauma and stigma of the victim  But then if they are put in jails for life then it will mean that the taxpayer's money goes in feeding them. I don't want my money to go to the upkeep of rapists. Death then? Not sure man. I dunno if one man has the moral authority or right to decide on another man's life. I am not able to reach a conclusion on this. But whatever the punishment it should be dealt swiftly. Not after 10 years.

Sir. Excuse me. What is Peninsula Special Chicken? Its a fried chicken dish. Ok. Shall we have one of that. Pls bring one Peninsula Chicken. The sad bit is in March the IPL will start and the media will move on to match fixing and the commercialisation of cricket and then till the next rape crime life will go on as usual. The politicians will go on to their next scam and the economy will go up and down and inflation will go up and down. 

Sorry. What? No Peninsula Special Chicken. Ok. What do you suggest? Fish Fingers. Ok. Please bring one plate of Fish Fingers. Thanks. I am telling you even the kind of scams our politicians get into are only over money. I thought such scams would have died in the 1st-2nd century. You don't see any noise about the money that was laundered by some US President do you? There is no 30 billion pound corruption scam around Margaret Thatcher. The only scam that I can remember is Bill Clinton trying to make work in the Oval Office interesting. Our guys are still doing their utmost to get more money into their coffers. They don't even do justice to their citizens by evolving in their scams.

What is this butter like thing they have given da? I think its leftover Tartar sauce from New Year's eve da. Some crazy shit. You know what, I am not sure what hope our farmers have when prime farm land in the Yamuna Basin get turned into a Formula One track. Land prices get inflated and every one makes a large buck. The farmers who have got some compensation, terribly meagre and inadequate though, for their land find themselves with a large amount of cash all of a sudden and feel rich. They don't know what to do any more. The kids spend money. Buy cars. Kill toll booth operators over a 21 Rupee toll fee. Rape girls. Does anyone even care?

No thanks. We are done. Can we have the bill please? How can anyone care when we can't even understand each other da. We don't know what the other guy speaks. Can you think of any other country where the neighbouring states write and speak different languages. And these languages differ so much. India the country with 18 different scripts and some 1000 different dialects. Forget the tribal languages. Small tribes in Africa also have their own tongue. But these tribes are like the Jarawas. They live in isolation and are secluded. But that can't be said about the states and the cities. The next guy I meet who gives me that India is a unity in diversity drivel will get this leftover tartar butter stuck up his unity I tell you. Ha ha ha. I met this German lady who had come to Gokarna with her English husband. She could speak Tamil as she had lived in Chennai for 5 years during the '90s. The irony is I would have been as lost as her, a person who lives halfway across the world, if some shop keeper had spoken to me in Kannada. You are right. Its quite crazy.

Sometimes I feel the biggest act of patriotism we do is to stay in this country. Apart from supporting our cricket team and hockey team while they play against Pakistan. Just staying in this country is an act of patriotism. How much tip do you want to leave? I want to get a cigarette. Then I will come and get a sweet beeda.