Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lijjat Papad and My Childhood

"Knowing something is good. Knowing something better is even better." -- A Great Man.

I used to see the Hare eating a Papad in the television and imagine, how great! To eat a fried papad was a treat to me and seeing this part of the ad was the most refreshing (as compared to the other agriculture related programs on that channel) part. My memories of that era are all black and white- not my fault, for they did not have Red, Green, Blue Electron guns in the Tube of TV then. I kept my attempts to derive my enjoyment from that bunny rabbit for a few years till i reached class seventh.

In Class seventh, i once saw that Diwakar (one of my rivals and friends) was engrossed in some big sized, but thin book in the bus. It had an emblem of a rabbit wearing a bow tie and blazer as the watermark, with some anatomical description of human body. It seemed to interest Diwakar (anything related to the opposite gender interested him). I, in my innocence, asked him, what is this that you are reading, friend? Still glued to this book, he said, Tere kaam ka nahin hai, relax kar! I wondered what it was, which had an emblem of a Handsome bunny on it! I poked him again, he said it's some magazine which I'm reading, so do not disturb me, buzz off! For reference, we will call it Diva's Mags.

With this sentence, the curiosity in me was raised. I decided to find this out by myself, whatever it takes. Because i did not want to be second to him in any field, so i went to my dad and asked him Which book is it which has a rabbit as it's emblem? He looked into some vacuum and replied back, It was one of the magazines which I used to read in my childhood, it is a very old magazine, even your Nani ji too might have read it! I was shocked to hear that because I did not know that my dad was so frank about this issue!
Wide eyed, I played my move- I asked him, Papa, can you bring this magazine today, while coming back from office? He said Yes, sure!

In the evening, he came back, and handed me the Chandamama...!

My dad is a simple person, and yes, from that time onwards, I have been reading chandamama and eating Lijjat Papad.

The rabbits have been playing an important role in my life. When my landlord went on hunt and brought some rabbits and when I ate the meat, I could not stop myself from uttering the eulogies for the creature which was going in my stomach bit by bit. I now can understand perhaps that was why the Shri Mahila Gram Udyog put that animal as the logo. A delicious thing eating another palatable item is a simile: This papad is as delicious as rabbit meat. So did that Diwakar's Magazine promised by putting up a side picture of a hare, A magazine with Meaty and Fleshy pictures, which surely will make your mouth water!

What i could not understand is the motivation of Publishers of Chandamama putting up that animal in their magazine. What i can speculate is that they wanted to tell that the bunny signifies that the magazine is perhaps equally moving (albeit in some other direction) like its foreign counterpart Diva's Mags, and the carrot it is eating signifies that it is completely vegetarian unlike it's American cousin. And how does the Papad relate to itself here in this barbecue of magazines? This is what i am still trying to figure out!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Tribute to Mr. Kumar

Recently one of my friends showed me this video and i fell laughing on the floor. It reminded me of someone from my tragic past.

Long ago, there lived a Ramapithicus, who after toiling competed a nerdy exam called as Insane Institute of Tech-no-logy Jocund Exit Exam (which chose many nerds are chosen countrywide and remoulded into walking comedy machines who can test the patience level of an average human soul) came to an institute which earlier served as a concentration camp of britons (here the naughtiest brains of pre-Independence India were brought and they were entertained to their fullest, throughout their stay). There, in the first day, standing in the registration row, he met the first human being, which told him the it too hailed from the same state. Talking in common language hindi, our hero Ramu (short for ramapithicus) got a signal that this guy was amiable. He did not know that this guy, called Rakesh Kumar aka Vicky_4147 (his yahoo! id), was going to be his best friend for next 5 years.

Raka is the most beautiful guy of our batch, quipped a guitarist of our batch, which could simulate the drum beats with its annoying hissing sound (it thought it to be cool). And definitely, in tandem with his testimonial, girls fell for Rakesh like cut trees. It was some aura of his persona that attracted girls like flies near a trash. Ramu doesn't mean wrong, but the flies and cockroaches make an inevitable simile. One such damsel fell for Rakesh and quite naturally, Rakesh too fell for it, as he was without any other option, in the forest, alone with a girl much powerful than its frail body. Ramu still remembers the date, it was the 27th of month of September when the poor lass fell for it. The days were passing by, and the sems crossed, and gradually Raka preferred to pass more and more time with the young lady than his friends. A very genuine doubt kept echoing and resonating in the undeveloped mind of Ramu What do these two talk? Once he asked Raka Tu baatein kya karta hai itni der? If it is not very personal, then enlighten me! As far as i know you, you do not have any artistic mutations in your genes.
It replied, after a lot of blushing Current Affairs. So much for its affair. It was in the same year that it gave a presentation on ergonomics of thermometers. When i entered the class, i noticed that the class was in a bout of laughter. I really did not understand what had happened until the prof sang in its feminine tone Raakeysh, thees ees the Thermometer that yooo beelt? with thees beeg baalb? (Translated approximately in english, he meant Rakesh, is this the thermometer you built? With bulb this big?)

I being his closest friend had to cover his artistic sense with sentences like "Poor fellow, don't you know he is acutely color blind, that he can not see light colors. That's why he uses color combinations like Blue and magenta, or Red with Green and Turmetic Yellow". Humans kept on believing until Czacci (pronounced as Chaa'-chee) confirmed it from Raka, and Raka in all his pride went on explaining him that how i was lying about him, and how he liked that color combination. Next time i met Czacci, i had to explain it, grinning, that Raka will never accept that he is a color blind. It hurts. From now on, never ask him this, right? Czacci looked a bit thoughtful and confused and said a brief Ok. I knew this was a lame excuse, but at least, i was laughing, again in my heart that it was a great rumour that i could start, and most of the times, people fell for it, and talked in a bit soft tone with Raka. I could see the sympathy in their eyes, Raka saw the love for itself- just the shift of viewpoint!

The guy was clear at heart, but heart also has an art in it, and it was naturally clear in it. It was in the second year itself that we came to know about Rakesh's caliber in sketching matches. In the graphics and visual communications class, its prof opened the sketchbook of his to find a sketch of balloon brand matches. He exclaimed Everyone come here! Pointing to Rakesh it asked what is this Rakesh? The matchbox can not be so thin, and look at the matches, they can not be cut by their shadows, Re do it!
The next class was Pandora's box, we did not know what surprise was there for us. The prof started laughing this time, for Mr. Kumar (as one of the students Nimesh once named him during one of its presentations, to ask a doubt just for revenge's sake) had drawn a Horsehead brand Matchbox, with some alien dimensions which made the box matchless, and like last time, the matches did not exist after the shadowed part of matchbox. It was stupendous to see fat prof laugh, as his tummy giggled and after scratching its beard, it said Re do!
Third time, again a matchbox appeared, this time the prof boiled to his core and said Rakesh, how did you pass the Aptitude test for architecture? Forget being an Architect, you can not even become an engineer. Although i laughed in my heart at the misery of this poor thing, but i tried showing him my empathy and criticized the prof for his discouraging attitude towards the artistic youth of India.

It was in its final year that Rakesh finally secured a job at Yasu Enterprises at Hyderabad, a software company. Flying in the corridor, it got face to face with the prof. After a mutual exchange of Hellos and Good mornings, the Prof, now the HOD of Architecture Department, exclaimed Rakesh, I heard that you joined the Software industry, after all, architecture is not all about sketches...

Did not know the HOD that Rakesh, while designing a Windows window at Yasu, would choose a color combination of Blue and Brown, with big bold letters, making its boss squeak with horror as he would see its computer screen.

Raka felt great, not that it had avenged its humiliation in the second year, but because it was going to a field which was its favourite...