Come fly the froufrou skies

#chatswithpeople #chatswithstrangers #57
During a recent flight, my co-passenger or Man on Right (MOR) was a source of great joy.

He strides up to our row.
MOR to steward: is there a separate compartment for Louis Vuitton luggage?
Steward and I are speechless. I try to glance at man’s ticket to see if he’s from Delhi.

Captain announces refreshments.
Air hostess whose name tag says Sheena pulls up.
Sheena: veg or non-veg sir?
MOR: do you have a fruit platter please? I don’t mind if it’s from business class.
Sheena and I both raise an eyebrow.
Sheena: let me just check sir.
Sheena and I both know she’s not checking.

Coffee time.
Sheena: I’m sorry sir, we’re out of fruit platters. Can I offer you some tea or coffee please?
MOR: Can I have some French press coffee, please?
I raise the other eyebrow. Sheena is made of sterner stuff.
Sheena: I’m sorry sir, but we’re out of French press. Can I serve you regular coffee please?

MOR: what kind of coffee is it?
Sheena, with greater patience than I will ever have: Nescafe, sir.
MOR: oh. That won’t do. Can you check if you have Earl Grey please?
Sheena: of course, sir.
Sheena and I both know she’s not checking.

MOR stands up and removes two power banks. He plugs one power bank into his phone, and the other into his speakers. He presses the call button.
Sheena (sighs): yes, sir?
MOR: can I get some earphones please?
Sheena and I are momentarily stunned. The man is wearing them, and also bloody hell man, they charge us for picking seats now. You think they have earphones?
Sheena: let me just check sir.
Sheena and I both know she’s not checking.

MOR waits a bit more. And proceeds to unroll a wired set of earphones and plugs them in. To my great joy, he hasn’t plugged them in fully.
The first two rows are treated to loud remixes of Hindi songs, the like you play when everyone is really, really drunk.
We all patiently wait for him to realise his earphones are not broadcasting sound.
He does not.

Sheena: sir! Excuse me, sir! (She touches his shoulder lightly.)
MOR: yes?
Sheena: sir, I’m so sorry but I think there may be a problem with your headphones. We can all hear the sounds of what you’re watching.
MOR: no, that’s not possible, I had my earphones in.
Sheena: yes, sir, I think they were not fully plugged in.

MOR: really? Could you hear classical music?
Kid on other side of aisle snickers: we heard Aunty Police Bulalegi.
Sheena and I go stone-faced as MOR stares balefully at kid.
MOR turns to Sheena: could you please check if I could switch seats?
Sheena: let me just check sir.
Sheena and I both know she’s not checking.


Namma marriage

#chatswithpeople #overheardinnammametro #55 #chatswithaunties #chatsaboutmarriage

First Telugu Aunty: and does she know any other languages?
Second Telugu Aunty: yes yes she knows (H)indi, Marathi, English and all languages.
Third Aunty nods sagely.

First: so it will be easy for her to adjust in Poona.
Second: oh yes, yes she will adjust very easily.
Third Aunty nods sagely.

First: and does she know how to cook?
Second: all dishes she knows.
Third Aunty doesn’t nod. We now know the girl cannot cook; this is a bald-faced lie.

First: very lucky she is. The boy it seems will go to Hamerica it seems.
Second: yes yes next year.
Third Aunty nods gingerly. Next year is too far.

First: this Trump-u is worst-u. He has made so many rules and regulations. Now it is difficult for our people to go there.
Second: yes yes but this boy has the H1B visa already.
Third Aunty and I look puzzled. He already has a H1B visa? When he’s going only next year?

First returns to important matters: what about masalas? Will she be able to make masalas?
Second: yes she knows but we will write and give it also.
Third Aunty looks straight ahead. She and I know that a joyous life of Taco Bell beckons the young couple.

First asks Third: you must be very happy your daughter is getting married. How much gold will you be giving?
Second: we are going now only to see the size of the suitcases.
Third Aunty starts coughing.

First: is she planning to work there?
Second: she has done. B. Ed. But her father fought with the university head so they are not giving her certificates. I think she can work without that only in Hamerica.
Third Aunty drinks water.

My stop arrives. I try to stop myself from asking Second for hype/presentation lessons and leave, tail between my legs.

Sweet sixteen + nineteen

No country for young women

Big agencies always have Big Daddies coming over. Why, no one knows. Presumably they must do something to fill their time. And skipping from office to office commenting on loo hygiene and the peeling paint on the walls satisfies their life’s purpose.
Note: This entire post is based in reality fictional. 

10 am, Monday in a fictional ad agency in a made-up galaxy far, far away

Servicing hottie: tra la la! Another day of tormenting creative people! Wheeee!
Art Director, smoking, watching her go: if that bitch comes near me before lunch, I’ll cut her.
Copywriter: fuck, really? Wait, I’ll call her now only.
Racuous laughter. The day has begun.

2 pm, Monday, during Creative Director’s siesta, two female copywriters are discussing their love lives brand strategy
Copywriter: servicing cow has sent another mail…FUCK.
Other female copywriter (OFC): what now? The client wants my fucking uterus in the script?

1st Copywriter reading mail out loud: Ladies, Heard through the Glassvine that Big Daddy will be in town tomorrow. Please take appropriate action.
OFC: has she marked everyone necessary?
1st Copywriter: YES. Bless her, she always does. Okay, we need to leave early and shop.

Male Art Director: haan! Finally! Stop wearing these old things. Go sexy! We need something to look at!
The combined gaze of the women reduces him to ashes which are wafted towards his computer. His mouse now moves like in an Ouija board.

10 am, Tuesday
Bright and sunny morning. The Branch Head steps out.
“Good morning!” is chirped out at everyone. Cleaners are gently reminded that if any dust is seen, their heads will be parted from their bodies. Secretaries are told to please polish the fucking china and get coffee from a decent restaurant this time.

The office is on time. The punctuality KRA of the quarter has been met with this one day alone.
Branch Head stops short in his journey towards the Creative Dept. Where are the women?
He bounds back in. And stops. ALL the women are in Indian clothes. With dupattas almost swaddling them.
He clutches his hair and almost wails. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE FUCKING PEOPLE? Why do they roam around almost naked on most days and look like they’re attending a funeral TODAY of all days?
A secretary walks past with some possibly chipped cups and his attention is diverted.

11:30 am, Tuesday
Big Daddy enters.
A welcoming committee comprising the Branch Head, Sycophant 1, Sycophant 2 and the new hire, an Account Director in her 30s – is stationed at the door.

Big Daddy walks in: hello, hello, hello all. How are you all?
Handshakes happen, flattery happens and then, Big Daddy smiles: Oh helllooo. You’re new. What’s your lovely name?
He asks New Hire’s boobs, both of whom seem shocked speechless at this level of unprecedented attention.
New Hire’s mouth kicks into action: f-f-f-fine, thank you. Er.
Her boobs are confused. Weren’t they being talked to? Why was Mouth answering?

Glances and bets are exchanged amongst the rest of the (male) party as to how long New Hire will last post this trauma.

12:30 pm, Tuesday
After an hour closeted with the Branch Head, Big Daddy is ready to explore virgin territories. Literally.
Servicing Saviour dials 1st Copywriter on extension: ALERT! ALERT! The Vulture has landed! ALERRRRRT!
Dupattas are stapled into shoulders, hair is scraped back – every woman now looks like she works in an NGO.

Big Daddy enters with welcoming committee, minus the New Hire who’s been sent home for rest and recuperation.
Big Daddy: hello, hello, hello, so nice to be here again!
He speaks from his heart, to the region around he women’s.

Assorted raggedy bunch: hiiiummhgfgh.
Branch Head, maniacally nodding: SUCH a pleasure to have you with us!
Big Daddy surveys the range of dupatta-swaddling: very….PLEASURABLE to be here.
Mentally, every woman throws up.
Lips are stretched, rictus-like.
Beads of sweat start to appear.
Big Daddy is engrossed in a distance evaluation of thick South Indian cotton. What lies beneath indeed.

Branch Head, cracking under the pressure, brightly: Lunch?
Big Daddy: Ah, yes. Great idea.
He points at the youngest sacrificial virgin servicing girl’s boobs: why don’t you come along? I can find out what your seniors are up to.
Strained laughter is heard. German prisons have more joie de vivre.
The Youngest smiles uncertainly. First her boss told her to dress conservatively and then piled an extra dupatta on her. Now she had to go for lunch?

The other women tearfully watched her go.
Servicing girl: poor thing. We should have put a third duppatta.
1st Copywriter: or locked her in the bathroom.
They nod and sigh.
Life goes on.
The duppattas were put into storage till the next quarter.

Date Fright – Part 4

Some stories have an unexpected epilogue.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Interior: party at friend’s house.

Friend: hello, hello, hello! Come in, come in, come in!
Me: oho. In triplicate eh?
Friend: so don’t be mad, but…Stoner is here.

Me: (lunge for door, unfortunately friend is standing in the way)
Me: $%#$%@!!!!
Friend: the only advantage to being pregnant. People don’t knock you down.
Me: please, please, please let me go. Please.

Friend: no, no, there’s someone else I want you to meet. So come on. Just avoid Stoner.
From behind us both.
Stoner: hello!
Friend and Me: $%#$%@!!!!

Stoner: hi.
Me:…hi. How are you?
Stoner: good, good, I’m Stoner.
Me: um….yes. Hi.

Stoner:…so what’s your name?
Me:…we’ve…met. (gestures to idiot Friend) She set us up?

Stoner: who? You and me? Impossible. I’d never forget such a pretty face.
Me (stoically): well, mine IS purple right now so…
Friend (elbowing me): Stoner, you guys went out last month. You know?

Stoner leans debonairly on the wall: really? And what time in the morning did you leave?
Me: (bitch face. EXTREME bitch face)
Friend: oh, I…is someone calling me?
Me: move and you’re dead.

Stoner: can I get you a drink?
Me: no. are you stoned right now?
Me: well?
Stoner: as a matter of fact no. I gave it up recently.
Friend and Me: ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Stoner: I’m a stand-up guy I swear. Let me tell you this funny story about how I fell off a bridge.
Me: dear God.
Stoner: yeah it’s a good one. You know, it’s so weird, but a lot of women have fallen in love with me after hearing this story. Hyuk hey can I tell you my favourite pick up line?

Friend and Me: no.
Stoner: “How do you stop your date droning on and on? Use your mouth baby hurr hurr!”
Friend and Me:…………………………..

Friend: I’m so sorry but she’s gotta go. She has this thing.
Me: I love you.
Stoner: already? But I haven’t told you the story yet.
Friend: shut it, Jekyll.
Me: so much love.

Show me the money

#chatsaboutmoney #chatswithstrangers #overheardinmumbai #chatswithpeople #39
#demonetisation #sickofitall #longread

At First ATM
Guard who leers at me everyday, now looks defeated.
Me: bhaiya, cash hai kya?
Guard: nahiji, sab khatam.
Guard’s friend: madam, try XYZ bank. I heard they have cash.

At Second ATM
Queue of people.
Me: excuse me, do you know if the ATM is disbursing hundreds?
Man: yes, it is disbursing thousands.
Me: oh.
Man: I heard ABC bank is disbursing hundreds.
Me: I see. But you’re here…?
Man: I want two thousand rupees. Lot of people to pay.
Me: really? And they have cash in change?
Man:……………………let us go to ABC bank.

At Third ATM
I join the long queue.

Chatty woman and her friend Catty in front of me.
Chatty:…and then she went and cried and the bank manager felt sorry and gave her an extra hundred.
Catty: huh. If that woman’s face was anywhere near mine, I’d give her hundred to go away too.

Chatty: ha ha. But now anyway even the banks have dried up. I heard they are hoarding cash for when there is none.
Me (thinking): isn’t that now?
Catty: they’re all thieves.

Chatty: but anyway now you can go and get Rs 4000 on exchange and if you have a self-bearer cheque you can withdraw Rs 10,000 and if you have a wedding in the family and you take the bride and groom fully dressed up with the horse they’ll give you a lakh and if you have a death in the family and bring the body to the bank they’ll give you two lakhs.

Catty: I don’t know why people are getting married or dying at this time. Don’t they know it’s not good for the country?
Chatty: I know. The army isn’t getting married now, why should we?

Catty: but you know, I heard that all the guys who have black money were warned in advance.
Chatty: I heard that this is all done to get cash into banks so we can write off loans.
Catty: but who’s thinking about the poor ya? so cruel.
Chatty: I know right? I told my maid I’d help her open a paytm account. Did you see their ad?

Catty: ya ya…..oof. God this queue is so long ya.
Chatty: did you hear that story about the man who died in the queue?
Catty (not to be outdone): oof it’s the press ya. No one talks about the woman who gave birth in the queue? The child is learning numbers by counting illegal five hundred notes.
Chatty: wow. What an education. We should give our PM a ‘UNESCO Best PM’ award.
Catty: hashtag acchedin

Suddenly, yelling from the front of the line.

Shouts later, a man is thrust out of the cubicle, slightly banged up. It’s alarming how quickly the mob has sprung into action.

Chatty: god ya. These people. Indians are the worst. Never think of others.
Catty: I know ya. Anyway, I guess we both should withdraw only from one card now. No point risking anything.
Chatty: god ya. How do I tip people now? Haven’t gone out in a week.

Me to man behind me: sir, will you exchange places with me?

Film opens on…

#chatswithpeople #chatswithkaranjohar #longread #spoilers #chatsaboutmovies

My imaginary chat with Karan Johar about #AeDilHaiMushkil.
(Imaginary Karan Johar – iKJo)

*Warning: spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the movie!*

Me: hello! Hi, Karan Johar! I’m sorry, I chloroformed your guards to slip into your home.
iKJo: it’s fine. You’re not even the first one today. Do you want your 375 rupees for Ae Dil Hai Mushkil back? Here’s 500 bucks, keep the change.

Me: err… thanks. But that’s not what I’m here for.
iKJo: then give me back the money.
Me: no.
iKJo:…………………………………God. Middle class people. What do you want?

Me: career advice. And life advice.
iKJo: why ME?
Me: yep. 100 crores in 4 days? Another hit even though your scriptwriter basically looped the first 10 pages for a three-hour movie?
iKJo: I wrote this script.
Me: see? Genius. You got this, bro.

iKJo: fine. FINE. What do you want?
Me: what’s the secret to a long career?
iKJo: reinvention! I re-invented the campus, the parent-loving-trap, infidelity, and now, I’ve reinvented the love triangle as a love conga line!
Me: love conga line?
iKJo: everyone is in love with the person in front and no one is happy—
Me: especially the audience.
iKJo: quiet. Next!

Me: how should I handle rejection in love? Do you sneakily report every action of your ex-love’s to FB and cause mini-traumas every day?
iKJo: bloody amateur. No. You make a huge movie, go to London, Paris, Vienna and Lucknow-
Me: those places always come together smirk
iKJo: even in your imagination, do not interrupt me, okay?
Me: er…sorry.
iKJo: AS I was saying, you make a huge movie, go to London, Paris, Vienna and Lucknow, you help stylists and set decorators MAKE their portfolios, repurpose a bunch of old songs, show endless rejection and aggression, and then you REVENGE being friendzoned in glorious, Casa Vogue-worthy colour.

iKJo: don’t look at me like that, you’re imagining this conversation based on a movie you saw.

Me: true. But don’t you worry about unrealistic portrayals and depictions by showing poetesses, I’m sorry, FAILED poetesses living in Vienna mansions and the like?
iKJo: no.

Me:………………………………..okay then. Next question. How should I ask my boss for a raise?
iKJo: what’s a raise?
Me: you know, when I want more money at my job?
iKJo: what’s a job?
Me: ah. Um. You know, as in ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have?’
iKJo: dress I understand.

Me:………….right. anyway, okay, how do I know when to move on when a romantic relationship has failed?
iKJo: you don’t move on. No doesn’t mean NO. It just means yes, please ask again, and again, and again, and scream at and choke and shove the person till they tell you what’s wrong with you and do it all over again and again till they die.
Me:………gosh, where DID I put that chloroform?

iKJo: anyway, listen I must go now. A private jet is waiting. If you’re depressed in life, just push off to Paris and start singing old Hindi songs and dancing.
Me: amongst the FRENCH? Les Miserables?
iKJo: listen, ALL foreigners start doing Bollywood steps when Hindi music starts playing. They especially love dancing backup.

Me: hmmmm. Okay. Listen speaking of international things, how can we get back Fawad Khan? Seriously? Please? Seeing him regularly will make my, I mean, the lives of many Indian women much better.
iKJo: it’s my next script. Or what you think is my next script. A spy thriller against a backdrop of a wedding in London-Paris-Milan, where the spy, clearly Fawad, poses as the groom and lands in India via honeymoon in Switzerland and then falls in love and never goes back.
Me: wow! I know this is all imaginary but can I get paid for this script idea?
iKJo: sure. Here, take a mansion in Vienna!