Off to online shops

A couple of days ago, there was an offline chat from my mum. She had said she was going on a short tour over the weekend and the note ended with “my cell is not working by the way. tata”. Now, that was a bummer for me. Whether I called her or not everyday, I sort of like to know that she is reachable.

Getting through to her on my dad’s mobile today, I heard that she’d be back home tomorrow but her mobile had doubtlessly conked. “I need a new phone”, she said. I suggested she restart her existing one. “I did that n number of times.” I suggested that she remove the battery and SIM, wipe them and place them back. “I tried that too. Didn’t work.” Perhaps the problem is with your SIM, I said. “I tried my SIM on someone else’s phone and it worked. It really is a problem with the phone. I need a new phone”, she repeated with the patience that could be the characteristic only of someone who has been the major force behind her rather slow-witted daughter getting through primary education successfully.

It was after this that realization dawned on me that my mum had done more that I would have under similar circumstances – which, for the curious, would have been to shake the phone vigorously whining “Why won’t you work?” – and she was serious about this new phone business. Without heeding to my contemplative silence, she carried on, “Nothing fancy, like internet or whatever. I just want to make and receive calls. New phone, courtesy you. Hello? Can you hear me?”

I am totally with her on the aversion to these new phones which mix everything up. To us, a phone is for making and receiving calls. The maximum feature that this mum-daughter duo can handle before getting totally lost is text messaging. For browsing the net, chatting and mailing, we use a computer. Well, we do talk on the computer, but hey, that’s different. Pictures -> camera. Music -> iPod, mp3 player, two-in-one, CD player… Appointments – good old filofax. Laundry -> washer-dryer. So, why pay a bomb for a phone with all these features when you already have paid bombs for these other appliances which do all the extras?

I digress. Back to the present. “Of course, amma”, I agreed after that pause, the contemplative one. Then shamelessly lied, “I’m just wondering whether to buy you one from here or …” Alarmed, she cut right in, “Then I won’t have a phone until you come in January. All my numbers are stored in the mobile. I really need one immediately.”

Finally, the cogs of my brain started turning slowly and I ad-libbed, “I was just going to say that I’d order one online for you.” Joy prevailed. On her side of the world. “Yes! That will be great. Order it online.”, she enthused, while simultaneously clarifying to a possibly techno-phobic fellow pilgrim maami, who I realized had be eavesdropping on our conversation, “No, no. It won’t be too expensive. She will only order it from an Indian website. The phone will just be delivered to me at home. It is easy. Don’t worry. It’s reliable, of course.”

So, now, the ball is in my court. I need to find a simple mobile on a reliable website which delivers quickly. Then, I need to get my choice approved by my brother that the phone is cool enough for his mum. Then, order it and pray that the rains don’t delay the delivery. All this before the morning is up! I better get started…

What would you have done?

There I was, sitting by myself in a corner with my laptop, playing those games I am addicted to. In a misguided attempt to ease myself out of the addictions, I set all my attention-seeking Tamagotchi-style games on quests which keep them off my hands for hours and hours.

With no farms to tend to and no stoves to clear, I was listless. Therefore, I decided to play Scrabble. Online of course. Surely you didn’t think I was going to play on an old fashioned board with a real human being sitting in front of me! Think of it… One would have to pick up tiles with bare hands and move them on to the board, bearing in mind that one errant finger could upset the entire board. All that stress…

Anyhow, since my regular scrabble mate (a very, very competent one at that) was asleep in another continent, I decided to play with strangers. How bad could it be, I thought. I systematically researched the available players and picked one with stats comparable to mine. As my luck dictated, just the very second that I clicked the play button, the players reshuffled and I was caught in a casual game with a beginner instead. Not just any beginner. A complete beginner – as stats showed she had played exactly one game before and lost.

I decided to proceed with this one nevertheless, and tried to pick another player I could play a decent game with. Guess what? The exact same thing happened with players changing just as I clicked, prompting yet another game with yet another beginner. This one slightly better, with a total online experience on that site of three games, out of which only two she’d lost.

Hoping fervently that these two persons had either just reset their stats, or at least had enough experience playing Scrabble in real life, I continued. That wasn’t to be. The poor kids (/ girls/ women/ males-masquerading-as-females, whatever) were so, soo, sooo naive in playing the game. Placing tiny baby words, not taking advantage of the special squares, leaving me with a wide choice of  triple-word-score spots to pick from.

In addition to that, my tiles on both boards were absolutely fantabulous. Great mix of vowels and consonants – high scoring at that; a bingo here, a bingo there. And after the first three moves on each board, I knew I was at a huge advantage. Which prompted the angel (yes, angel. I insist) in me to surface and play down to their levels – deliberately passing up the opportunity to  place high scoring words, offering the use of high score squares to them, etc.

In other words, I was patronising them through out the game. Now I can’t help but wonder if I did the right thing. As in, giving them such concessions isn’t in keeping with the spirit of a game; is it? Not to mention it was rather unfair on me, considering I was trying so hard after so long to wrangle a bit of intellectual stimulation, and ended up spelling rat, cat, mat as opposed to myotic, gizmo and evzone.

What would you have done?

(a) Been “kind” to the stranger, but petulantly whinged about it later to your unsuspecting readers

(b) Been kind to the stranger, derived your kicks out of how wonderful a person you are; stopping to admire your halo in the mirror at every possible opportunity

(c) Gone full monty with your game, availing yourself of every possible double/ triple letter/ word scores on the board, while humming a slightly off key version of Another One Bites The Dust

(d) Never gotten into a situation like this, ever. You would work on a sudoku or a cryptic crossword if you were looking for intellectual stimulation

Tell me. I want to know.

Psst psst…

I have a secret. A rather dirty little secret. Actually, make that a dirty little open secret.

I’m addicted to Facebook. Big time. Don’t get me wrong here. The addiction is not related to keeping tab on the latest super-cool things my “friends” have been up to and are bragging about. In fact, my friends seem to wish I respond or at least react to their personal updates. I’m not into that at all. It’s too open for much friendly interactions. I rarely get the urge to surface and say hello to buddies. Although, I must admit that I am often tempted to write “HOT NEWS. You’ll never guess! Abso amazing. Mailing in detail.” on somebody’s wall, just to see how curious mutual friends will get. But that’s besides the point.

The things which have caught my fancy (and are stubbornly refusing to let go of it) are games. At present, there are two games I’m into full time and one I sort of drift into and out of. All of them bloody mind-numbing, but I seem to find some sort of ridiculous pleasure in repeatedly clicking hyperlinks dressed as buttons.

Remember that list of things I said I did as a Lady of Leisure? I don’t do any of those things anymore. These days, it is a wonder if I were functional enough to make a cup of coffee without absentmindedly dropping a teabag in it. I miss good coffee. Hence, I need therapy. Sigh!

Moving

After that rant, a rather decent place to live was found. This is the moving weekend. We are at that point in the moving process where stuff is strewn around both the old and new flats. Lots and lots of stuff. I’m amazed how all the stuff fit in neatly – alright, alright! Scratch neatly out – in the old flat at all. To think we entered this country with a mere 23 + 7 kgs each…

Some very eminent bloggers have written about how they re-discovered all the things they never remembered they even possessed. I was amused by their eloquent exaggeration. Now, I realise, they weren’t exaggerating!

There are so many things I don’t know the origin of, I tell you. For instance, while clearing a draw, I found a tiny zip-lock cover with bluish-green sequins. I can only guess they were given as a spare along with an apparel with similar sequins. However, try as I might, I’m unable to remember having bought such a garment (or shoes or bag).

Lets take another example. Hair serums and sprays and bands and clips. Man! I had actually been wanting to buy some of those things that I found in my draw. Quite a nice thrill to find them. I even found a tiny nut and a bolt that had been missing from one of my pairs of sun-glasses.

On a tangentially related note, it would be nice if someone can remind me exactly why I buy all those (pretty) bracelets when all the jewellery I wear are earrings, and perhaps an occasional necklace.

Moving on to the kitchen, how many types of sweetening agents do you think one family of two would need? I had five types of sugars alone – white, caster, icing, molasses, low cal substitute. That doesn’t include honey, golden syrup, dark brown jaggery and light brown jaggery.

Then there is this cartload of wires I discovered in draws and shelves all over the house. In this era of electronics, one really doesn’t dare throw away any wire with a USB lead on one end, I guess.

Phone chargers. Sum-total of 3 phones, but about 5 chargers. Do they breed in those dingy draws or what?

I haven’t dared to go near the broom closet yet. There are about 14 shoe boxes. Then, other small cartons that some other gadgets came in. I wonder what each of those boxes will yield.

I also wonder whether there would be enough space in the new flat. I know, I know! I ought to throw things I haven’t used for a while (or even ever) away. But what if I find that skirt with blue-green sequins in some corner?

Passport Patrol

Have you caught these reality shows on telly where they give a fly-on-the-wall view of what goes on in immigration and customs of different countries? For most part I find the shows quite entertaining.

Cracking down on smugglers, illegal immigrants, people abusing their visa conditions… The baddies’ ingenuity in bending, or breaking the rules outright, is fascinating. And the border force’s diligence, in identifying and catching out such people and groups, is equally stirring.

Australia and New Zealand apparently have the strictest immigration laws. The rule I found a bit weird is this – if you bring food, you have to declare it. Pickles, Maggi noodles or tuvar dal doesn’t matter. I don’t know the exact duty conditions, but if you dare to bring food, then you face repercussions. I find that super strange. Yet, their country. Their rules. So, that really wasn’t on my mind enough to invoke an opinion.

Now this afternoon, that changed. The opinion part, I mean. In today’s show, I saw a set of people arrive in New Zealand after a long haul flight. (Qantas, if I remember right) Most of those people brought with them apples that they were given on the flight shortly before they landed. They didn’t pack it in their bags; hence these apples were undeclared.

And guess what? They were not allowed to simply bin the uneaten apple once they disembarked. All these passengers were fined 200 New Zealand Dollars each for having brought the offending apples from the aircraft to their precious piece of land! Some of the poor passengers protested loudly at the absurdity; some even started crying in their frustration. The officials just said “Rules are rules”, and insisted on fines. Isn’t that way too over the top? I think this is a classic case of Zero Tolerance Gone Mad.

If you want to know what happened to those shiny red apples, the camera panned into a waste bin with scores of apples. And the voice over said that this is a regular occurrence in NZ immigration – passengers bring in uneaten food from the flights; the perfectly good food is thrown away; the passengers are fined since “Rules are rules”.

I can understand that hazards are posed by food with bugs; the harm it can cause to crops and all that. Sure, be vigilant. But how is 200 NZ Dollars fine for an apple fair? Also, how do these people stand such blatant waste of food? It is plain wrong. I still am very, very annoyed. Shouldn’t somebody, somewhere do something about this?

Wired Wrong

I realize that there is something strange about me. My South-Indian community just might disown me when they find out. I’m taking that risk in order to be truthful here.

Here goes. I like cold food. Not just any cold food. Cold South-Indian food! My folks just MUST have piping hot rasam everyday. And I, just don’t care for it. Vatha-kozhambu which is about room temperature appeals to me much more than when its hot. Chilled, spicy potato roast with chilled pumpkin thogayal is a combination to die for. I love to eat cup after cup of chilled tadka dal. Or dal makhni for that matter.

Alright. The last two weren’t exactly South-Indian. Yet, isn’t this weird? Something is very wrong indeed.

Sarvam

This is not exactly a movie review. I happened to watch this movie over the weekend. And I quite did like it. In fact, so totally loved it in parts, that I am unable to resist the urge to talk about it here.

Of course, as seems to be the pre-requisite for any Tamil movie, it has its own share of flaws in the logic department, and gaps in the storyline. If you are willing to suspend your disbelief, you could enjoy the show. That is not so difficult either, trust me – nothing as ridiculous as  jumping off buildings onto moving trains half a kilometer away.

And in the first half, this movie is sweet, but not at all in a way that would invoke one’s gag-reflex. Predictable here and there, yet that only put a smile on my lips in anticipation. Who knew Arya could look nearly as romantic as Surya in Gajini? This is truly the first movie in which I thought Trisha looked fresh, pretty and did a good job of playing part.

The screenplay and dialogues were for most part light-hearted. One huge plus point is, there are no traditional comedians in the movie, spewing out their crass, oh-so-last-decade double-entendres. The leads handled the comedy with such perfect timing that there were several laugh-out-loud moments.

Beyond everything else, what I absolutely loved about this one was the camera work, and the colours it captured. It was visually enthralling. The songs were rather nicely done, with innovation thrown in for good measure. In the non-song parts, everything was neat and clean and rich-looking. Sanitised is the word.

Some might say that it is a bit removed from reality, but so what? I like my movies to be funny, upbeat and visually appealing. Call me escapist, but the truth is I do not care to spend money or time to watch people slumming it on screen.

I sort of hate it if there is a pointless death like in Dead Poet’s Society. I’m a weird sort who refused to watch Titanic until my brother forced me to watch it on Star Movies a few years after it was released. Even then, once the ship hit the iceberg I went to sleep! Good guys (or gals) in movies should not die; recently I have revised that to add the following clause – unless the story depends heavily on it.

Guess I’ll never ever make it into the Oscar committee. Sigh! I’ll have to live with that.

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