02 August 2009

To Nash !

“One thing I like less than most things is sitting in a dentist chair with my mouth wide open.
And that I will never have to do it again is a hope that I am against hope hopen.”

These are the opening lines of “This Is Going To Hurt Just A Little Bit”, by Frederic Ogden Nash.
Please note: I am no fan of poetry, and definitely not one who can quote some spectacled guy’s verse. This particular work was in the Class IX/X CBSE English Textbook during my schooldays (before they jazzed it the books up with colour and an “interactive” outlook), hence the obvious recall.

Well, as it turns out, I have a pretty old relationship with the dentist. I know more about dental care than my MBBS sister. Irrigation, tooth crown, GIC, root canal therapy, bone graft, LA (Local anaesthesia- My personal favourite, as supposedly I give an extremely effective reaction to it) are some keywords I would like to mention as evidence of my knowledge. I had my first cavity when I was eight years old. My mom thought my ass is still safe as it was a milk tooth, hence I would learn a lesson and mend my ways. Two more cavities followed in the milk teeth era. But I crossed 14, and God stopped giving second chances!! I have two crown caps for two cavity infested teeth. One of them is partially fractured and held together by a synthetic plaster. This was my situation for the past two years. Due to improved oral hygiene, there was nothing new after that.

The sins of the past come back to haunt.

During a routine dental check up(31.07.09), it was found that since the fracture in the tooth had occurred below the gum line, there are air pockets between the gum and the tooth, which are prone to infection. Hence, it was suggested that a bone graft be inserted in those empty portions. Rs 2500 only! (Dimensions of graft: Length=4 mm, Dia=0.5 mm). LA would be administered of course. Yippee!


After waiting for half an hour looking at awareness posters, a very cheerful man walks in.

“Hi............Nikhil right ?”, he said. Without waiting for a response, “ I am Dr. Anand. I am a Periodontist. “(my keyword list expands). I went inside and sat on my beloved chair. “So, what are you doing nowadays?”. I told him about my latest plans. He started smiling. “Guess what man, your bone graft is also made in France, hihihihi! Look look!”. I smiled back half-heartedly. Is this his way of cheering up his patients. It seemed like this coincidence had awakened a child in him, innocently playing with the plastic pack wondering how small this world is. He gave me LA and half of my mouth was numb within three minutes. Metallic instruments started going in one by one. I was quite cool, until I saw a perfectly clean probe (see picture) covered in blood when it came out. The fact that there was no pain made it look even weirder. Just the feeling that a lot of push pull is going on inside. My head was literally moving with the force. His glove covered fingers slowly started getting specks of red. At this critical juncture, when in spite of my veteran status in dental visits, I was shit scared, Dr. Anand said the unthinkable.

“Oh no!! I forgot my camera!”


“This is a beautiful defect Nikhil. I mean beautiful! I would love to show it to my students.”


“Arre, Dr. Sharma ka camera padha hai unke drawer mein? Check karna zara.”, he told the assistant holding the suction tube.

The assistant goes and brings back a black case.

“Sony ka hai na? Dikhao zara. Ohh yesss! Digital Macromode bhi hai.” He was elated to have that technological marvel with him. The thought that he can take 7.2 megapixel bloody pictures of my mouth made him high with joy. “Arre yaar! No battery. Chotu zara charge pe laga do.” Then we waited for full five minutes so that the studio session can begin. In between I thought I clarify some things.

“There will be a lot of post surgery pain?”, I asked. I obviously had the red tipped probe in mind.

“No no....I don’t think so. Waise bhi Nikhil, everybody has a different threshold of pain. We may say ouch by touching a thorn. But a soldier keeps on fighting even after a bullet hits him.” Now, I was expecting a simple yes or no but Dr. Anand was full of deep stuff which can put even a kgpian to shame.

“Charge ho gaya? Chalo aaaa karo Nikhil.”

I “aaaaed” so that the camera’s zoom lens can be thrust in. Click-Click. I could feel a mellow warmth of the flash bulb. After he checked the snaps on the display screen to satisfaction, he inserted the graft finally.

“Don’t eat anything hot today. Don’t brush your teeth tonight. Ok? Use mouthwash only haan. Eat with the right side for 4-5 days. And take the medicine 3 times daily for 5 days.”

My head was literally jammed and I couldn’t process more information. As I was about to go out-

“And most important.......come next Saturday, stitches need to be removed. We’ll take an X-ray to see everything is fine hihi!” He said with a twinkle.

The waiting room was full of people when I came out.

“And this, O Fate, is I think the most vicious circle that thou ever sentest,
That Man has to go continually to the dentist to keep his teeth in good condition
when the chief reason he wants his teeth in good condition
is so that he won’t have to go to the dentist.”

29 July 2009

Vous comprenez ?

Firstly, some updates :
1. I am going to Paris (yay !)
2. For higher studies (?)
3. And general merriment shall follow of course!

Now, the French are supposedly a bit cranky and obsessive about their language. They all know English. To tell you the truth, you can get away with English anywhere in Europe. It is just that the French often use French as a subtle mode of defiance against their century old rival.

It has only been the 20th century when the pretentious show of friendship started, probably because the Brits hated the Germans even more and took sides with France when Hitler’s troops came for a walk in Paris (1940). Before this era, these two nations fought so many wars that it seemed that all they did was fight. Plus, the French always believed that they are culturally, linguistically, architecturally superior to Britain(which in my opinion is true), even though Britain ended up having the bigger empire and English being spoken by more people. So, yeah! It is understandable that they dislike each other. No one can say that in the open; especially with the emergence of the European Union and European identity as cool things to talk about.

The trouble is that I have to know some French as a result :)

Now, on the face of it, there is no need to worry. I did study it during school (4 years..........................impressive huh!!). But that ended almost 7 years ago. I have already forgotten half of my Hindi and expecting a similar treatment for French is just fair. Anyways, I arranged for some books to brush up. For people in a similar situation, I would suggest the “Collins French Traveller’s Dictionary & Phrase Book”, which even has a romantic footnote on the cover just to cheer things up-“the first comprehensive language companion for travellers”.(The image shown is the cover of the copy I have, scanned. I assume it may serve as a proof of the degree of idle time I have.) My uncle, who stayed in Paris for almost 2 years gave it to me and said that it is much more valuable than any grammar I learn later. This book has chapters according to the situations which a traveller generally encounters- Airport and flight inquiries, Buses and subways, Food and drink, Chemist, Bank .etc and has phrases in French with their pronunciation and English translation, which one would have to say for conversing in those situations. Some of my personal favourites are:

Je ne parle pas très bien français. (I don’t speak French very well.)

Parlez plus lentement, s'il vous plaît. (Please speak more slowly.)

Vous comprenez? (Do you follow?)

Est-ce que je dois? (Do I have to?)

J’ai écrasé un chien. (I have run over a dog.)

Un paquet de Marlboro, s’il vous plait. (No translation needed)

Je pars. (I am leaving.)

08 June 2009

I just rediscovered the pleasures of television. The wait for a movie to start, commercial breaks when one can get something to bite are a welcome relief from the “on-demand” nature of LAN. I remember how many times in kgp when I planned to watch a movie, but ended up getting short term satisfaction from an episode of Prison Break or Seinfeld. The sheer lethargy that crept in by the thought of sitting for 2 hours used to be very overwhelming. Now I just switch on and bump in the middle of something going on and keep watching. Have seen so many pending movies on “HBO” !! Shameful after bringing 1.2 Tb of DC’s best :)

04 January 2009


I once read somewhere that nostalgia can be a tricky affair. It is like an edited recollection of past events where you only remember the pleasant moments, where you felt loved and missed by those around you, and where there were no overpowering unpleasant moments to get distracted. Even though this outlook always captures one’s imagination with the vocal “Oh yeah !! So true !”, I beg to differ. I generally recall the total package, with dominance of the bad days. The good ones are taken for granted. One of the biggest factors that affect “my” nostalgia consists of the people around me. I mean who am I kidding? We all know that man is a social animal and I am no exception. Presently I feel the moment to be appropriate nostalgia-wise to pen some thoughts about this aspect of my life.

There have been three main phases of friendships I’ve had up till now. All of them are classified according to geography. My father has a transferable job and hence my past 22 years have consisted me moving from one place to another. I have never had a clear answer to the question of “Where is your hometown?” It obviously led to many embarrassing moments during the senior-junior “interactions” in college, especially with excessive sweat and no pants and the desire to be honest. This is my personal identity crisis. I am a Punjabi by birth, Hindi by tongue guy who has spent the majority of his time in Rajasthan. This has evidently created problems in terms of group-ism, as there was never a clear cut group among my peers which I could join.

Phase I of F.R.I.E.N.D.S was in Jaipur starting from year 1994. I was in class II and a lot more innocent and gullible as compared to the current situation. I was expecting to meet many people as innocent and gullible. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and after studying in Jaipur for 6 years, I was always the most innocent and gullible kid in spite of getting my ass kicked left, right and centre. My mother still misses my former self as that was when I never argued with her and did what she desired and of course because of the baby pink hue of my cheeks. My memory of phase I in general consists of my lonely recess sessions having food, the acute nervousness in terms of conversation with my outspoken peers and the sorry, pathetic staring at the two girls (crushes) at the next desk within a span of three years. It was during class VII when I suddenly started opening up, but it was too late as my family was shifting to Delhi by the end of the year. Nostalgia again started playing tricks on my mind as I could only remember the recent burst of extrovert-ness. I conveniently forgot my moments of misery because the incoming change was freaking me out. I mean Delhi meant meaner kids and tougher times. My mother actually went to an astrologer with a query regarding any possibility of change in my present punching bag status. I don’t know what the old man said, but there were definitely going to be a difference.

Phase II begins in the year 2000 with admission in my cousin sister’s school. I starkly remember my conversation with SP (for protecting his identity).

SP: So you’re new!!?

Me: Yeah.

SP: Okai, Hi dog !!! My name is S.

Me: You’re a dog !!
(Please note my immediate defence mechanism and the lamest counter statement ever made. This was mainly due to the bunch of hypocrites I spent time with for the past 6 years who bitched about everyone behind their backs but considered swearing equivalent to crossing the line.)

SP: Okai…….I am a dog then. That guy is a dog ! The entire world is full of fucking dogs !! Happy ?

Me: Huh !

SP: Listen dude….how would you feel if we met 10 years later and I address you by your first name? I mean friends don’t do that ! Swearing is symbolic of the deep bond we share that we don’t mind calling each other dogs.

This conversation simply explains the kind of people I met in Delhi. They were frank, in the face, and said what came to their minds. If they disliked someone, they would say so, instead of pretending anything. Secondly, there were no groups or clubs. I met many people who were facing a similar identity crisis as me. It took me hardly one week to get adjusted and then started the most significant part of my social life. I started to talk and lost my outer damaged shell. Even though I didn’t succeed much in telling some girls my true feelings about them, it was still a big step up at that moment. There were of course off days when I came to know of the materialistic pretense of many of my friends. I could see how conscious they were of their shoes, their fluency in English, or the overall demeanor which makes one differentiate between the “popular” and the not so popular geeks. I could find similarities in my school mates with characters from so many teen movies, getting both interested and repulsed at the same time. Our school trip to Pondicherry really kicked off my first moments of actual friendship and camaraderie, which are still part of my happy place. My two years of JEE preparation of course reduced my interaction with the popular guys due to key difference of priorities. I often had the sadistic outlook of pity towards the rich kids who sucked at studies and played basketball throughout the day thinking with pleasure how I have found focus in my life and they have not. It turned out to be fruitless labor as these kids were too rich to struggle in life. They are still partying in American and British Universities as we lesser mortals look at their pics on Facebook with envy. This was how I realized the giant gap between the upper and middle class. It can be seen that this phase of F.R.I.E.N.D.S is filled with elation and joy of finally being accepted somewhere and also the confusion and fogginess of adolescence.

My most important phase started in 2004 with admission at IIT. I have mentioned before many times that this place is a great leveler and I will now state why. I was suddenly shifted from a place of pretense and showiness to a merit based institution in the vast rural-ness of Bengal. In spite of being barren and devoid of the pleasures of a metropolis, I cherish something very invaluable about this place. For the first time, I witnessed people not being judged by looks, clothes, money, proficiency of English, but for who they really are. Guys/Girls who on the face look like cannon fodder for places mentioned in phase I/II are appreciated and respected for their abilities and talents. As hostel life enables one to be 24x7 with other people, character becomes very important. I myself judged so many people in the beginning, only being bogged down by their genuineness. Even though there were many social mishaps, but five years is a long time and I never claimed to be perfect. This has been the phase which I hope won’t fade in it’s impact for a long time. This is perhaps the last phase of it’s kind in my life.

25 December 2008

Vellapan ke side effects

"Those were really tough times."

This was something I always dreamt of saying.

Aren't we all subconsciously impressed by a person born in say 1921 and still living. I mean this guy must have witnessed and been affected by so many historical events…………………………………British Rule, WW II, the Indo-Pak wars, emergency, Amitabh Bachan's almost fatal injury on the sets of Coolie. There is always that calm wisdom embedded in his conversation, lines of hardship on the forehead, reassuring firmness in the handshake.

THE financial crisis (TFC) has been a stepping stone for me in that journey. It can be a similar thing for countless students all over the country seeking employment, if they are ready to take it in my spirit.

I will not lie like every company's HR person during a PPT.....we were not immune at all :) It affected our health, wealth, and happiness by bringing changes in time tested trends. All the corridor discussions, analysis, conjectures regarding placements were turning out to be pointless. They just became a sadly prosaic way of killing time which was available in plenty. I owe so many good things to TFC though. I renewed some of my interests like cricket, TT, hurling stones at tree trunks, gossip, watching movies having too many sequels/prequels (Rocky, StarWars, Rambo), spying on orkut scrapbooks, thinking of ways to beat people I dislike.etc.

After three weeks of being involved in the above mentioned activities, some arab guys came and selected me and five of my batch mates as Architects. I came home two days after this miracle. I had some plans for home this time. I wanted to read a bit, spend less time online and on TV. But my indulgence and pre-selection interests are lingering on. I strain myself to wake up every morning, creating temporary wrinkles on my forehead. HUHHH !!!

25 October 2008

Starvation by chance

7:32pm- Saturday night

I have that weird feeling in my stomach.....the one that indicates a void.....the sense of craving for something.............anything.....................before I lose the energy to get it myself...........I wan't food !!!

The Hall Nescafe guy is unwell......allergic cold i think. My selfishness makes me immune to his troubles. Can I get something from the tuck shop downstairs ?? Naa........I am too sick of the Hide and Seek, the Bingos, Merri?cake. I need something that fills me up. Some real carbs, roughage.
Got dressed up..........my wallet is heavy for a change- money shouldnt be an issue today.

8:01pm- Sahara Restaurant (take note of the irony :))
The order number is 72. I try to find a pattern in the food being brought out. 12, 43, 23, 21, 57....beats me ! I guess I could have asked for something simple and functional instead of the elaborate affair. How could I forget the first rule......lesser is faster....shucks !

9:50pm- the unnamed savior came with my lot. I couldn't identify half the things. Everything was luke warm and I didn't have the energy to complain.

I was just another victim of monopoly; but in this entire mess, there was something chillingly pleasant.
You can be the golf links, aviators sporting dude........or the person who prefers buying a new refil instead of a new ball point, you would have to wait for 2 hours to be served junk that saturday night :)

This place is a great leveller

15 August 2007


Things are never clear........but i am expected to focus. Its like a soup out there.............................people also call it "life". hahh!! Of course it is full of stuff. Lets not talk about love; too complex and tedious.
Four years with pencils and lines wasn't that bad. It was scary in the beginning........afterall i wasnt supposed to do it, i didn't slog for it. It was a compromise with which i learnt to live, and eventually liked to a certain extent. The hard work and time invested has given it some value. It is now something I don't want to leave point-blank. But still cannot see myself doing it for the rest of my time. Is this a student mid-life crisis :) ?