Sab Theek Ho Jayega !

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Kochi / Ernakulam, Kerala, India
A Doctor who loves to Live, Love and Laugh with the World! Absolutely crazy about Cricket ! Other Qualifications: A Tired Bathroom Singer, Retired Gully Cricketer and Satire Writer !

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Look-ing Back: Pandi-monium, CBI Diary and other stories !

During one of my interactions on a Facebook group, someone asked me about the lack of law and order with my hair and if it had anything to do with my being too busy to comb. I escaped saying my hair was too straight and sparse and hence wavered along the wind making it tough to keep under control.

My hairstyle being the root cause of public nuisance and intense ridicule isn't a new phenomenon. It has always been so ! But even my appearance has come under the scanner very often. So let me recount some of the instances that have made me feel like an alien.

Seth Dosa

In early days in Kochi as a bachelor, I used to visit a famed Dosa joint practically every day for my midnight snacks while I prepared for the All India PG Medical Entrance Exam. This joint was run by a Konkani family. They didn't know me and I used to converse in my uncomfortable Malayalam with them.

After one and a half year in Kochi, I moved to a small hospital in Ponkunnam. While back in Kochi on a weekend, I again decided to visit this joint. Once there, the owner recognized me and told his brother in Konkani, "This Setu [used for North Indians] boy had probably gone north for some time. Now he is back".

I savored my favorite onion dosa without uttering a word. While leaving, I told them in Konkani, "Your dosas are really nice and the red chutney you serve is unique. It is typically Konkani in taste". I didn't wait for their reaction. The next time I was there, they had done their homework and knew my complete antecedents.

Long Sharp Mustache and the CBI Diary

I worked in Ponkunnam for almost 2 years. While there, I used to travel by bus to Kottayam frequently to watch latest Malayalam and Hindi movies. On one such journey, I was trying to catch some sleep. But the middle aged person next to me was in no mood to let the sleeping Doc sleep.

He poked me on my shoulder and asked, "Where are you going ?". I was annoyed, yet replied politely, "Kottayam" and closed my eyes again. He poked me again and asked, "Where in Kottayam ?". I was in no mood to divulge and hence sai, "Just like that". Then came the next question, "Where do you live ?". I said, "Ponkunnam". He wasn't happy with that and went ahead with, "No, which your native place ?". I too was determined now and replied, "Kochi".

There was a creepy smile on his face and he said, "You are not a Malayalee. You can't be from Kochi. Are you North Indian ?". I was having great difficulty keeping my eyes open and here was a pest not allowing me the pleasure of a short nap on a speeding bus. I said, "No, South Indian".

He must have been a leach in previous life; just not ready to quit sucking. His next question was, "What do you do ?". I said, "Nothing special". "But you should do something for a living. So what is your job ?" was his riposte. Then he asked, "Are you a businessman ?" I replied, "Mmmm, something like that". Pat came the next query, "What business ?".

Now I was at a loss. If I say something and he starts probing the answer, I'd be in further trouble. So I just smiled and said, "Just some small business here and there". He almost concluded, "That means you have a blade company, right ?". Too sick of this nuisance, I just nodded and tried to turn to the other side to catch some sleep.

After what seemed like a short break, the poke was back. He shook me up and said even as I was trying to catch my breath, "You were bluffing all the while. Now I have completely deciphered you. You are very shrewd. Now I know what you do. You are from CBI or Crime Branch and you are here to investigate a case in the high range".

I was still in a daze and asked him, "How did you make out ?". He triumphantly declared, "You may be CBI but we Malayalees are highly educated and intelligent you see. Your secretive behavior, your language, your looks, your color and above all that sharp mustache is very typical of CBI or Crime branch. You have that Police look". Must have been watching too many Police and CBI movies !

I have never been happier when a journey ended. First thing I did after going back home was to trim my extra long mustache !

North Indian Connections

Almost 17 years in Kochi and I still am not accepted as a local even though I have developed a decent client base in my profession. I also have a sizable Punjabi clientele thanks to my love for Hindi. I was at my daughter's school recently attending the district level arts festival. I am fairly well known there thanks to the popularity enjoyed by my daughter.

After her first performance and during lunch break, a gentleman came and told me, "Your daughter's performance was really nice. She should have won. But the CD spoiled everything and unfortunately she might lose because of that". I just nodded and smiled. He was right, she came second in the Folk Dance event due mainly to the substandard CD.

While I was still busy eating, I had a call from one of my Punjabi clients. As I was conversing in pretty decent Hindi, this gentleman kept staring at me. Once I finished, he came to me and said, "So I guessed right. You are North Indian. So are there Shenoys in North India too ? Your daughter and wife speak pretty decent Malayalam. How is that ?". I said "I am from the North is right, but just north of Kerala. My wife is from Kerala and daughter was born here too. That is why they speak decent Malayalam". This was a nice man. He took my reply and left me alone to mind my own business of eating.

Hot blooded Young Man and Pandi-monium 

It was on a night duty during my early days in Sudheendra Medical Mission. A young lady was brought to casualty with fever and vomiting. It was already past midnight. Her husband and father were accompanying her. I talked to her in whatever Malayalam I could muster and examined her.

As I sat down to write down the prescription, her husband asked me, "Doctor Pandiyaano ?" meaning, "Doctor are you a Pandi ?". By this time, I had come to understand that 'Pandi' was an insult the Malayalees used to refer to the daily wages workers from rural Tamilnadu. 24 is a very very tough age to control your temper even for a Doctor. I retorted, "Ningalkku Vattundo ?" meaning "Are you mad ?".

Stunned, that man asked, "Why do you talk like that ? What is this ? You are insulting me". By now, I had realized I might have crossed the line. Yet, I had to defend myself. I said, "See my Malayalam might not be good enough. But I have enough knowledge about this state to understand 'Pandi' is an insult. I am here at this goddamned hour examining your wife and trying to help you people and you are out to insult me. That put the doubt in my mind".

His father in law intervened and said, "Come on Doctor, he is a young man with hot blood. You should be generous". I politely reacted to the older man, "Sir, I am at least 4 - 5 years younger to your young man and hence my blood must be hotter. Why should I suffer an insult like that ?".

The 'young man' had cooled down now and said, "I did not mean to insult you Doctor. I just asked if you were a Tamilian". I too replied with utmost cool now, "Oh, now that is much better. If you had used the same word earlier, everything would have been fine. Anyway, let us move on. And no, I am NOT a Tamilian".

There have been many a Pandemonium of different magnitudes before and since. Perhaps I can keep them for another day and another post !

Dr. Punned-it

Monday, November 7, 2011

All are equal, yet some people are less equal !

Just take a look at the news item and some of the badly Photoshopped photos here and then we will proceed with the post.

They hate him, but why ?
So too Sreesanth ?
Launch Pad !
One of my colleagues told me, "I will not watch 'Indian Rupee' because Prithviraj is there". I asked, "But why ? It is a Ranjith movie and Prithvi has done a good job.". She told, "But he is too arrogant". I persisted with, "How do you know ? Has he ever been so with you ? Did he ever offend you ? What was it that he did or said that came across as arrogant ?". She replied, "Haven't you seen the videos of Prithviraj and his wife talking about English ?"

Well, I must say I have an issue. I am posting here what I thought about 'La affaire Prithviraj'.

In 2003, the handsome bearded younger son of Late Sukumaran and Mallika made his debut in Malayalam Cinema. Soon he was lapped up by people and was touted by the media as the next Superstar to replace the 'arrogant' Mammootty and Mohan Lal.

Today, we see a whole load of slander on the www and in the print media about the same prospective Superstar. He was fine even till a year ago. Many people used to say he has a little bit of head weight. But there was no witch hunt ! How did the things change so drastically ? Did he turn arrogant overnight ? Has success gone into his head ?

Let me digress a little bit here. I drive on Kochi roads every day. Every single day, I am witness to enormous amount of aggression and plain bullying by drivers on the road. The Auto rickshaw drivers overtake from the wrong side, brush your side and break your rear-view mirror and then shout you down with choicest of abuses in Malayalam. What do you call this ?

The big brother is even worse. The bus drivers will subjugate you with sheer overwhelming terrorism. By chance if you question their rashness, you will have to face a barrage of abuses and be prepared to get banged. Even if you maintain equanimity, you still might have to suffer 'Theri Vili' or calling names.

Go to a Cinema hall. You see a guy smoking inside the air-conditioned hall and politely request him not to smoke. What next ? "This Theater is not your father's property. Shut up and sit there. If you can't tolerate, get out !".

Visit any office where they have some powers to make you wait. The Clerk will make you wait even if you are there for a simple one minute job. If you request for quick results, be ready to hear things like, "This is not any charitable institution. You have to wait. If you can't wait, come tomorrow". Just to submit a fully updated application, you will have to "Come tomorrow" if the person in power is in a foul mood. And tomorrow will always have another tomorrow !

Just browse through Facebook and Orkut pages of young people. For every modest youth, you will see two bragging about their own prowess, looks, caliber, magnanimity and intelligence. Guys who can't differentiate an out swing from an off break will judge Sreesanth and girls who refuse to recognize their childhood friend due to difference in social status will complain about 'arrogance' of Prithviraj.

Prithviraj and Sreesanth have slogged on their way to achieve what they have today. It is perfectly possible that they would have been better off with a milder attitude. It is also possible Sreesanth would have played more tests if he were to behave like an obedient boy.

But as a race, we Indians in general and Malayalees in particular have an attitude problem. If players like Andre Nel and Steven Finn show aggression, we envy that and even admire that secretly. But when an Indian shows aggression on field, we castigate him, subjugate him and then would do our best to consign him to recycle bin.

It is so immensely funny that these people, the Auto Rickshaw driver, his big brother, the smoker bully, the clerk and the unknown Facebooker are the ones who will sit on judgement on how Prithviraj and Sreesanth should conduct themselves ! It is true that there are so many good mannered people out there who too are complaining about Prithviraj and Sreesanth. But these are the same people who suffer the bullies in everyday life without even a whimper.

Ours is a democracy where all are supposed to be equal. We all know some are more equal. But there are some who are less equal ! I don't know the reason, but there definitely seems to be pattern to this witch hunt against those who show a mind of their own. Prithviraj especially has been targeted by the press after he married secretly keeping the nosy media out of his wedding function.

When it comes to judging celebrities, the middle-class follows a new path. "All are equal, yet some are less equal" !


Coming to the final part of my post, there is another 'pet hate' of the middle class Malayalee; Ranjini Haridas. This bubbly girl who has worked her way into celebrity status has been ridiculed for her dresses, her accent, her Malayalam [Manglish] and for just being Ranjini Haridas. Men don't have pangs about staring at her and young women burn with envy looking at this 30 year old.
Idea Stare Singer !
And who are complaining ? It is those people who are ashamed to say, "Ende Bharthaavu" and would always say, "Ende Husband" or even worse, "Ende Hus" that suspiciously sounds like "Ende Husk". The middle-class Malayalees just don't bother when words like 'Mol' and 'Marumagan' get displaced by 'Daughter' and 'Son in law'. For quite long now, I have not heard any man or woman telling, "Ende Ammayi-achchan", it is always "Ende Father in law".

Buses plying through Kadavanthara don't go "Kadavanthara vazhi" but "Via Kadavanthara" or "Kadavanthara touch cheythu pokum". Haven't seen a 'Paatta' in a long time. There are only cockroaches or roaches in Kerala. Nobody gets "Thala vedana"now. "Oru bhayankara headache" is common. This list is endless.

And Ranjini Haridas is bad because she mutilates Malayalam. Right?

Post Script: This post isn't about defending Sreesanth, Prithviraj and Ranjini. They are quite successful and can fend and defend for themselves. This is my view on the double standards practiced by the opinion makers and religiously followed by the middle class.

Dr. Punned-it