Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Are you in a "live-in" relationship?

Are you in a "live-in" relationship? Recently, my young friend was asked this question. It was asked by none other than his dad. My young friend reacted promptly to this question. He fell off the chair!

While my young friend is still analyzing how his father arrived at this ridiculous conclusion, I know the reason. He has only himself to blame. Check his Facebook account. Why does he have more girls than guys as friends? Why does he comment whenever a girl post something even if it is silly? I will pardon him for the above two sins. After all, he is a guy. The third sin is unforgivable. He should never have done it in the first place. He has known his father's intentions for a long time. Then, why did he accept his dad's friend request on Facebook?

After a tiring Skype session with his dad on girls and relationship, my young friend did the right thing. He removed his dad from his friend list on Facebook.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

She will call me!

"Why do you worry? She knows my number. If she is lost, she will give me a call". Sounds logical! The purpose of the rapidly mutating invention of Alexander Graham Bell is to bridge distances. My friend making this statement, while sitting in a restaurant with one leg over other and sipping whisky casually, was a flesh and blood evidence of the idiom "cool as cucumber". Except the "she" was his 8 year old daughter!

When my friend came to Bengaluru with his family, we(his family and my family) decided to go to a "garden restaurant" near Agara lake. His 8 year old was lost in the crowd with 4 grown-ups, my 3-year-old and his few-months-old. As a  result, she was cruising the restaurant, stopping at each table, listening to the topic of conversation briefly and quickly moving on. I was uncomfortable whenever she was out of sight. So, I kept shifting in my chair to get her latest coordinates. Now, you know the context and you also know how my friend asked me to relax.

My immediate reaction to his statement may sound silly to you but was of great importance to me. How can a 8-year-old remember a mobile number? How does she learn the sequence of numbers? For an adult, it is easier to break up the number making it easy to recall. As the first few digits tell you about the network operator and the location, this is very easy for an adult. But for a kid? The funniest moment came later the next day when my friend explained this philosophy to another friend's wife. Not only did he repeatedly hammer in about this being a normal thing to do but also he advised on writing the phone number on a piece of paper and keeping it in the kid's pocket. My friend was didn't notice the shock and bewilderment on her face!

I forgot about all these for a long time. After my daughter turned 4, her grandfather taught her my cellphone number. I still do not know how he managed to do it. But after she learnt my cellphone number, I would receive calls at the most inopportune moments. I learnt a different lesson during these calls. You might let your spouse's call go to the voice-mail but not your daughter's! I pick up these calls even if it is to say "I'm busy and I will call you back in a few minutes!". Now, I have been in Paris for an year now. She still remembers my old cellphone number. During first two months after my move to Paris, she kept calling my old cellphone number. After getting the subscriber-switched-off message several times, she complained about it to me!

The kids can learn phone numbers. In my case, my daughter is an example. But will I let her out of my sight because of this? No way!

Monday, November 28, 2011

KCA Malayalee Sangamam 2011 in Paris

For an evening that began with a cautious welcome note, it turned out to be spectacular. When the speaker welcomed the guest, he reminded everyone the informal setting of the event. So, he advised everyone to be at home and also to forgive if the events do not match up to professional standards. In his words, it is our kids who are organizing shows. Two hours into the program, I was happy to be there, listening to people speaking in my language and a night of music & dance. Is there any Indian program without music & dance?

The event was honoring the coming holidays - Xmas, New Year etc. When you are an expatriate, you celebrate holidays on different dates. If you analyze, it makes perfect sense. Everyone has plans for the holidays and it is not feasible to have a social gathering on the real holiday. I had to leave early. So, I missed the wine and food. In case you are an expatriate like me, you can check out the KCA website. Usually, they organize an event every few months. It is a good opportunity if you miss Kerala while in Paris.

Friday, November 25, 2011

When in Paris, carry an umbrella with you

Overconfidence is not good! Has anyone advised you so? I have been advised so many time. I don't know why! I look so far away from confident (on the negative side) to advise me about overconfidence. It doesn't matter. Like all advices I have ignored this one too. But advices are like past. It has a way of sneaking upon you when you least expect it to. And that is what happened to me in Paris a couple of weeks back! The strangest advice, after finalization of all paper works for my travel to Paris, was to carry an umbrella. I suppressed my smirks and asked why. It rains very often in Paris.

I spent a major part of my life in Kerala where you get so wet in monsoons that you don't need to take a shower! During childhood, the rule of thumb was not to wear a rain coat while riding the bicycle to school. When I became an adult, the edicts changed. Don't wear a rain coat while riding a motorcycle to work! Later when I moved to California, I neither took an umbrella when I moved nor did I buy one after reaching there! I have been to Pier 39 when it drizzled! The raindrops on your face while watching the famous bridges on both sides of you is a magical experience. Moreover, how often/far do you have to walk in US of A? Every place is accessible by car and you can also buy a car easily. As you can see, the umbrella does not come into the picture at all.

By the time I moved to Paris, I was overconfident about my abilities to survive in the rain. You don't need a car inside the city. The Metro stations are usually a few feet away. There is always a taxi station nearby all the major centers. If all this does not work out, it can't be as bad as the monsoons in Kerala. All your best laid plans can go awry. I was stuck in Paris when it was raining. The Metro had closed down as it was past 2 am. There were no taxi stations nearby. To make matters worse, none of the taxis passing by would stop. You can't blame them. How will they stop when they already have a passenger? I was prepared to get wet in the rain. There was one thing I did not take into consideration. The rain here is cold. It is so cold that it penetrates through your clothes into your skin like a spear. With each droplets, you relive this sensation again.

Remember this. If you are coming to Paris, please carry an umbrella. If you are too lazy to carry an umbrella and encounter a similar situation, send an SMS to "TAXI"(8294) with your postal code and time of pickup. Of course, you need to talk in French when they call you back!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Crêperie de Josselin: Butter everywhere

There is usually a long queue outside this restaurant in Paris, on Rue du Montparnasse very close Metro Edgar Quinet. It was a fast moving queue in my case. Within 10 minutes, I was seated inside. On entering the restaurant, the first thing you notice is the smell of frying butter. This smell also orients you on what to expect from this restaurant. The next thing you notice is the size of the restaurant. It is small. It also looks frozen in time if you ignore the attire worn by the patrons.

The pictures hanging on the wall and the china displayed on the racks resting on the wall gives you the theme of the restaurant. The theme Bretagne is omnipresent in this restaurant. The menu offers you a variety of crêpes and galettes. If you are wondering what these are, think dosa, though made of different constituent. To differentiate between crêpes and galettes in a simple way, think of the former as sweet and the latter as salted.

The restaurant menu displays items in 3 different languages - French, English and Japanese. Why Japanese? It may be because of abundance of Japanese visitors in this area! The crêpes and galettes are made thicker than what is available elsewhere. Do you still remember the smell of fried butter I was talking about earlier? One look at your dish, you know where it all ended up in. Liquid butter shines from your dish.

I was not in the mood eat excessively. So, I ordered pancake with bananas flambeed in rum. This serves me well. The dish is almost like a dessert and there is alcohol in it too. I eat lightly and keep a safe distance from  binge drinking. The pancake was over as soon as it arrived. Then, I took a a bite of galette with smoked salmon from my friend. I ordered for one more item, this time a galette with a difficult-to-pronounce sausage. I might have weak-willed regarding the food that night but was strong-willed regarding the no-alcohol policy.

If you are in the area, I recommend you to try this out. The queue might be long. So, carry your umbrella or a thick jacket depending on the climatic conditions.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pappettan whistles

If you are wondering who Pappettan is, click on this link and find out.

I was standing outside a restaurant on Rue Didot with Pappettan talking about things we love to talk about; namely nothing. It was a cold dark night. During our conversation, we observed two women walking towards us. When they were about to cross us, Pappettan whistled. It was a loud whistle; a whistle that goes from lower note to higher note gradually while alternating between lower & upper notes playfully as it climbs high.

I was shocked and offended at the same time. I did not expect him to whistle and hence the shock. I was offended because he had pulled the hood of the jacket over his head to cover his face while my face was exposed. Strangely, I was also impressed because I do not know how to whistle. I tried to learn this art in the past. All attempts ended up the same way, in failure. Even art of learning is also a skill, which I lacked.

So, The girls ignored us and passed by. When they were out of earshot, the following is what happened.

Me: *raises eyebrows*

Pappettan: *shrugs*

Me: *still with raised eyebrows, waiting for an explanation*

Pappettan: I did the right thing.

Me: *eyebrows hurting but still raises it higher*

Pappettan: Look at those girls. Imagine how much time they would have spent before the mirror. We should appreciate their efforts... the least we can do. Exactly what I did right now.

There is no argument against this line of reasoning. I do agree. Beauty has to be appreciated. We all know it by now. Also, any efforts undertaken to enhance beauty also has to be appreciated!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sky and the blue hour

When you approach Salt Lake City, Utah from the west towards east on I-80, the view is magnificent. What you see is a gigantic mountain range surrounded by flat land. I have lived in Salt Lake City for 2 months and visited there countless times. I always stayed on the west side of the city thereby enjoying this view every time I visited. On my first visit, it snowed lightly during dinner time. As a result, the mountains were capped with snow giving me a glimpse of a snow-capped mountain for the first time outside a photo album. 

During those days (2003-2004), while I gaped at the landscape, my friend gushed about the sky. "It is so different from California. It looks like somebody has splashed it with red and yellow". I dismissed his remarks as soon as I heard it. I was never interested in sky. This has no bearing on my upbringing for I clearly remember my aunt showing me the setting sun from the beach, tirelessly day after day during my school vacations, trying in vain to instill some kind of love & appreciation for the finer aspects of life. I still remember the poetry in her words along the lines of how my friend spoke in Salt Lake City. She might have been on a mission. It simply did not work! So, little did I expect to change when I joined my friend to capture the blue hour.

What is the blue hour? My friends explained in fewer words as possible. "Around 5 pm". The rest was guesswork from my side. Considering the time of the year and the place we are in, the sun sets around 5 pm. So he wanted to take pictures of this hour. On Sunday, we reached near Notre Dame after 5 pm. The day was magical because there weren't many people in front of Notre Dame. But my friend had forgotten the tripod to place his camera. A little bit of creativity, he used his cap and the camera bags as a makeshift tripod. Then, he clicked two pictures to show us the importance of blue hour. See below for the pictures.

Notre Dame during the blue hour
Notre Dame after the blue hour
The pictures were clicked within a span of 10 minutes. You can see a blue sky and a dark sky depending on the time the picture was taken. Is camera picking up something which naked eye don't see? No. I checked the sky yesterday around this time. You can clearly see the same with your naked eye. In my case, I have never bothered until Sunday evening. I also came to know from my friend that clicking such a picture does not require skill. But it does require technique.

Now, my friend is on a mission to show me the golden hour! And you are right. I wish I was back in Salt Lake City. Whatever you say about the city - mormons, LDS, business closing early in the evening, I still love the mountain range surrounded by the flat lands. This time, I will also look at the sky in a different light.

Faux amis

Faux amis translates to false friends. How did I come across this? Two weeks back, a friend asked me "So, what is the formation for?". I went "huh?". There was no drill or parade that day. Then, why is he asking me about formation?

Well, my friend had heard about me attending a training. In French, formation translates to training. As there are many common words (with different pronunciation) in English and French, my friend assumed formation also means training in English.

There are many cases where you think similar sounding word has the same meaning in a different language. But it may not true. This is called faux amis.

If you are interested in knowing more about "faux amis", click on this link.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Is he dead?

Yesterday, I was the recipient for a wonderful act of caring. You might have friends who care and worry about you. That is what are friends are for. I have friends who have complained about lack of communication from my side. "What is happening with you?". The "I would like to know" is deliberately omitted. Unspoken but difficult to miss the point. Yesterday was taking the care and the worry to a new level.

What was happening yesterday? Three of us were to go to a friend's house for dinner. After many rounds of talks, my apartment was chosen as the meeting point. This works out best for the person with a vehicle. He doesn't have to drive all over the city to pick up all the participants. Everyone reaches my place. We load ourselves into his vehicle and drive to the destination.

So, my young friend sends me a SMS indicating the probable arrival time. I promptly reply back. Then, something happened. Fatigue set in. I dozed off. When he arrived, I didn't pick up the phone. I put my phone on silent mode because my Indian self is slowly fading out. Gone are the days of fancy caller tunes and loud ring tones. I have to keep the phone on silent mode so as not to disturb the tranquility of the working environment. The western world aka the developed countries are sentimental about this aspect! My young friend panicked. He called me several times and he was worried. Luckily, nature took it's course. I woke up soon from the much needed nap and saw the missed calls. I opened the door and let him in. 

What was he thinking when I didn't pick up the call? He went melodramatic and assumed I was on the verge of dying. He was checking for the French equivalent of "911". This is the point where I am confused. Should I be happy for having a friend who cares? Should I  be worry about my white hairs? I agree it was a wonderful act of caring but still I can't help wondering...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Movie Review: Rockstar

Rockstar traces the transformation of Janardhan Jakar(Ranbir Kapoor) from a simpleminded musician to a very popular musician. In the journey spanning years, he changes from Janardhan Jakar to JJ to Jordan for the outside world. Inwardly, he changes from someone who plays music for other's pleasure to someone who plays music to forget his private hell. At the onset, he learns how great music is created. It is created from pain. In his quest to achieve stardom, Janardhan foolishly tries to get his heart broken in order to experience pain by proposing to the college hottie Heer Kaul(Nargis Fakhri) which ends up disastrously at the same time not as disastrous as to have his heart broken. But he experiences pain soon at unexpected time from unexpected quarters.

Imtiaz Ali directs this drama which has all the ingredients of an entertaining movie but still fails to tell a  story coherently. Imtiaz chooses wisely on the lead actor and mostly on the supporting cast too. Like in his previous movies, the locations chosen are mostly outdoors enhancing the underlying emotion of the scene.  He also has the best technicians behind the scenes. Despite having the best, Imtiaz fails on two accounts - screenplay and the selection of lead actress. The screenplay is either left for interpretation or too fast to comprehend. This is primarily because of the non-linear narration employed within the first two acts and very lengthy third act. Because of the bad screenplay, impact of the two characters are lost - Ustad Jameel Khan played by Shammi Kapoor and Sheena by Aditi Rao Hydari. Ustad Jameel Khan is the first one to identify the talent in Jordan and Sheena is the reporter who takes trouble to find out everything about Jordan the rising star. As for the lead actress, the role is not a complex one. But Nargis fails to bring the basic expressions to her face which in turn highlights the flawed lip-synch.

Is Imtiaz Ali a good director? There is no doubt to it. He has a story to tell and the vision to match. The love story develops sans the cliches associated with every other romantic movie. Jordan is a complex character with Janardhan hidden somewhere in there and popping out when we least expect him to. Most of characters look and sound real. Check out the scene where he establishes the mental anguish of Jordan. Jordan walks across a busy street absentmindedly while he is confronted by Khatana(Kumud Mishra) his manager cum friend. The girls recognize him, a crowd is formed soon and the security personnel form a circle around him. These happen in the background while the foreground is the conversation between Jordan and Khatana. Also check out the scene where Jordan arrives for the anniversary celebration of his college friend and quickly loses control when he finds out everyone sees him in a different light now. All the earlier movies of Imtiaz were told in a linear format. Over here, he tries to use non-linear format just like how he used in Love, Aaj Kal. Non-linear story telling is not his forte.

Ranbir Kapoor the actor comes off age as Janardhan/JJ/Jordan. There are three phases for this character - carefree, struggling and fame. Janardhan/JJ/Jordan is innocent and does not wish harm to anyone. It is the pain accumulated over the years which drives him mad. During the second and third phase, Ranbir at critical junctures display the characteristics of the first phase. For an actor, this is equivalent to being a chameleon. This is where Ranbir succeeds. As the character ages through the years, the look changes - clean-shaven, stubble, beard. The various looks enhance the performance. When he sings, we forget it is Mohit Chauhan or A R Rahman being mixed in a re-recording studio. Ranbir puts passion into playing Jordan that even music of A R Rahman is overshadowed.

Recommended for Ranbir Kapoor's performance. This is a landmark in his career.

Language: Hindi

Genre: Drama

Rating: ***

Friday, November 18, 2011

Life without the paper

If you want to live in France, you need the "paper". Of course, there are many who live here without the paper. How do they manage this? Life is easy and at the same time difficult without the paper. When you have the paper, you have to queue up in front of the Prefecture every year to get it renewed; unless you are lucky to have something that is valid for more than one year. A visit to a government office can be summarized by a quote made by my Canadian friend after she returned from one. "Of late, I felt I have not been abused much. So I decided to pay a visit to the government office". Yes, I have friends with excellent sense of humor.

So life can be easy without the paper. You don't have to visit the Prefecture very often. At the same time, life can be difficult too. How do you get a job to make both ends meet? The only way is to work in shady markets. Today, a Gujarati woman approached me at the Metro station. She first checked to see if I was from India. Then, she told me about her husband. Her husband quit his job at a supermarket. Now, he is looking for another job. They are ready to take up any job like cleaning the apartment or even cooking. As they have no papers, there are limited choices available.

I was curious to know how they ended up with no papers. The whole family consisting of husband, wife & two kids came here on a visit and decided against going back to India. What happens if the authorities catch them? Her answer was an eye-opener. "We are not here to do any harm. We want to make money and go back to India. If they catch us, they will deport us".

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Training and Effectiveness

Why does corporate training end with an assessment? A corporate training has to be effective. This means whoever attended the training is able to perform his/her job in a better way than before. But how do you measure the effectiveness? Believe me, I have been asked to measure the effectiveness of the training after my team members attended one. That was a nightmare. Measuring effectiveness is possible only if you have sufficient data prior to the training. Then again, who records these data? Most of the training are announced giving no time to build these data by monitoring the soon-to-be-trained at close quarters.

Anyways, I attended a corporate training last week. Predictably, it ended with an assessment. When the results came out, my team member has a higher score than me. He has been worried since. The source of worry is not reporting to a less intelligent person. Now with the high score, he is worried of being assigned the full responsibility wherever the newly trained skill set is required! After all, he is more capable than me.

Please don't cry

A few weeks back my friend, who was relocating to India, called me as soon as he boarded the airplane. I had seen him a few hours before, when he got into a cab with his girlfriend. They were both going to the airport. My friend talked non-stop about his girlfriend. When he got into the cab, little did he expect her to cry. But that is what happened. She cried. Tears were rolling down her cheek and he did not know what to do. So he thought like every other man who finds himself in such a situation. "How far is the frikking airport?".

I know what you are thinking! Men are insensitive. Don't generalize. I advise you to think twice. There are always exceptions. Take the case of my young friend. His friend was relocating to another country as part of her new assignment. On a direct flight, it takes less than two and a half hours that country. As you can see, it is not far away. Yet, he took all precautions to prevent her from crying. As a result, there was no crying. She reached the destination safely and settled well in her temporary residence for the next few weeks.

Naturally, I was curious like you to know what is the secret formula. So, I asked him. The answer was so obvious. But still, I wouldn't have figured it out. 

The good-byes, check-in and take-off happened over SMS!

Footnote: If you want to try this recipe, I wish you a long, healthy and happy relationship.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pappettan impresses the French with his conversational skills

If you are wondering who Pappettan is, click on this link and find out.

Pappettan: Last week, I had a very long and interesting conversation with my colleagues.

Me: *uninterested*

Pappettan: We talked in French all the time.

Me: *smirks* In French?

Pappettan: Yeah. It is so easy.

Me: *still unconvinced*

Pappettan: They were very happy when they left.

Me: *narrowing eyes in disbelief*

Pappettan: We agreed on everything. Everyone was happy at the end of the conversation.

Me: *sits straight and suddenly interested to know more*

Pappettan: It is very easy. You just have to say d'accord when they pause.

Foot note: Pappettan advises to be creative while ending the magic word d'accord. Put some emotion in it. Keep it short at times, stretch it out to last longer at times etc.

In case you do not know "d'accord", please use Google Translate to find out more.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Why am I learning French?

My greatest achievement on Thursday was asking the waitress for water in French. Both the waitress and my French colleague were beaming ear to ear during the act. Of course, I got it all wrong as I ended up saying "of water", conveniently missing out the "cup" or the "jar" from the spoken words. Well, it was a small step for the outside world and a giant leap for me!

Why am I learning French? I have been asked this question a lot. The obvious answer of meeting new people does not qualify as my objective. Ironically, when you learn a language, the baby steps are targeted to speak comfortably in order to make friends. There are three events contributing to the sudden urge for learning French.

My colleagues and friends who are French take extra care to translate the conversation into English. They struggle in doing the translation. I do feel bad about not making an effort to learn French.

Pappettan stood right besides me looking, over my shoulders, to ensure that I had all the essentials for learning French. There was no escape route available!

I came across an article stating men are not as bad as it seems at learning a new language. That is true because of many of my friends have demonstrated the ability to learn a new language in the shortest possible time.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cat and Mouse game

It is a cat and mouse game. This is how my friend described the courtship or the romantic phase of a relationship. By the time the conversation steered into the game, we were high on "spirit"s. But the usage amused me. The words cat and mouse brings back the memories of episodes of Tom & Jerry on TV - near captures, narrow escapes, constant mishaps.

Anyways, the issue is simple. Yesterday, my friend bumped into someone, whom he previously met in a bar, near his workplace during the lunch hour. They exchanged numbers. He sent her a SMS later in the evening. Now, he is constantly checking his phone for a reply from her. Quoting my friend, if there was a "F5" button to refresh on the mobile, it would have been rendered useless by now with the frequent usage. I warned you. He was high on spirits! According to my friend, courtship is all about alternate cycles of varying lengths of interest and "feigned" disinterest. You never show all your cards at once. You reveal it one by one. So, he should not have send the SMS so quickly thereby indicating his interest.

For me, it was a lot of games and references to games. Accuse me of oversimplifying complex matters. My friend sends a SMS at 7:30 pm and expects a reply by 8:00 pm. On top of that, it is start of a long weekend here in France. There is no cat and mouse game here! She has made plans for the long weekend. Any sane person would do the same! Now, move on.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Popular choice and an alternative to learn French

Get a girlfriend who is French and you will learn French. Popular advice for the fresh-off-the-boat crowd in France! Although this sounds like a simple plan, the hardest part of this approach is the getting-a-girlfriend part. I believe in the power of a good teacher who can inspire and motivate you to learn. But can a girlfriend be a good teacher? All the relationship stories I have heard so far is about the boyfriend prevailing at the end!

Leaving aside my skepticism, this is also a tricky situation. Consider the reality. To get a girlfriend who is French, you need to learn French. Now, consider the advice. To learn French, get a girlfriend who speaks French. Never the twain shall meet? Yet, there are people who make this happen. Now, my idea is not to inspire you to get a girlfriend, instead to provide a workaround for this tricky situation. If you are struggling between getting-a-girlfriend and learning French, there is an even simpler way. Michel Thomas.

I have to thank Pappettan for introducing me to this option. I have been living in this country for an year. (Yes! Another 20 days and it is our - Paris and me - anniversary). Thanks to the inbuilt laziness, I have never gone beyond the "how are you?", "see you soon", "thank you" etc. Here comes the superhero and I am writing extremely simple sentences without using Google Translate.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pappettan insists on "yes" when in doubt

If you are wondering who Pappettan is, click on this link and find out.

Last Saturday, Pappettan and me were showing off our rapidly increasing proficiency in French in front of Pappettan's beautiful friend.

Me: je voudrais parlez Francaise avec vous.

Pappettan: pas possible maintenant.

Pappettan's Beautiful Friend: *amused by the proceedings and smiles at us*

Me: voulez-vous aller manger avec moi ce soir?

Pappettan: possible

Pappettan's Beautiful Friend: *turns to me, gives a lopsided yet beautiful smile* voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?

Me: *frozen as I have no idea what "coucher" means. confused on what to say*

Pappettan: *unaffected*

Pappettan's Beautiful Friend: *smile widening*

Me: *looks helplessly at Pappettan*

Pappettan: *confidently* Say "Oui".

Pappettan's Beautiful Friend: *still smiling at our interaction*

Me: *to Pappettan* What is the meaning of "coucher"?

Pappettan: *shrugs* Who knows? You say "Oui". Figure it out as it comes.

Me: *turns to Pappettan's beautiful friend*. I will go for a "may be".

Pappettan's Beautiful Friend: *chuckling*

Then, she tells us the meaning of "coucher". I don't get a second chance at this game!

By now, you would have either figured out the meaning using Google Translate or already knew about the famous song. Here is my advice to you from this disastrous event. If you are learning a new language and a beautiful girl asks you a question in an extremely friendly circumstance, follow Pappettan's advice. Say "yes" and figure out the rest later.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The new generation phones kill discussion

The first thing I liked after using the new generation phones was the "qwerty" keyboard. Now, I no longer have to press the keys multiple for an alphabet. A welcome relief although the next challenge was how to type on a small keyboard. When I have to type in an address or a name in an old generation phone now, it is a tedious exercise especially while sharing restaurants & locations with friends.

Most of my friends have moved to the latest models of the new generation phones. However, There are still tiny pockets of resistance. I know two of them. The first one is French. He refuses to buy a new generation model because everyone is buying it and feels no need to do this. The second is my newly acquired friend from Portugal. The work requires her to have a newer generation phone. Yet, she doesn't have one primarily because of laziness to get out there to choose one. But she brings up another valid point about conversation regarding the matter of new generation phone.

According to her, the newer generation phones have killed discussion. Earlier when you don't know something, you ask someone or even discuss & argue with someone. Now, all you do is go to google to find out. Internet has done it's part to damage conversation. The newer generation phones with easy accessibility to Internet is causing further damage.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pappettan meets a French girl

If you are wondering who Pappettan is, click on this link and find out.

Pappettan: What is your name?

French Girl: Pourquoi...

Pappettan: *to self* A weird name. But then, our names are weird for them too.

French Girl: *looking blank*

Pappettan: *to self* Everyone says French are weird. Being weird doesn't mean you can't smile!

French Girl: *still looking blank*

Pappettan: *decides to take a step further* So, where are you from?

French Girl: Pourquoi....

Pappettan: *to self* Weirder!!! She is named after a city?

In case you do not know "Pourquoi", please use Google Translate to find out more.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pappettan on driving under influence

If you are wondering who Pappettan is, click on this link and find out.

Me: Did you reach home safely last night?

Pappettan: There was no traffic at night. Everything went smooth.

Me: You had three glasses of wine yesterday. So, I was not sure...

Pappettan: I was alright.

Me: *with a sly smile* Oh yeah!

Pappettan: If you don't believe me, ask the cops.

Me: *disoriented* WHAT?!!!

Pappettan: They were trying to chase me last night on my way back home. 3 cop cars. But they couldn't catch me. I told you I was sober. How the hell could I drive fast if I was drunk?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What brings Pappettan to Paris?

If you are wondering who Pappettan is, click on this link and find out.

So, I was at an inconspicuous bar near Opera with Pappettan. We might have been there for an hour and more. By this time, Pappettan had metamorphed into James Bond; exuding charm, surrounded by beautiful women, minus the guns, minus the tuxedo... Oh well, minus a lot of things. But who cares? He was best thing closest to James Bond in the whole bar.

That is when somebody asks him the question.

Somebody: What brings you to Paris?

Pappettan: *Raising shoulder and extending arms in an European shrug as if the answer is obvious*

Somebody: *waits anxiously for the answer during the theatrics*

Pappettan: *completes the shrug* "FASHION"

Somebody: *Smiling but eyes narrowing in disbelief*

Rest of the crowd except me: *Impressed because Paris is the capital of fashion*

Me: *ready to fall on Pappettan's feet*

Somebody: *still smiling and disbelieving*

Pappettan: "When in Rome, do as the Romanians do." *Yet another quote from Pappettan*

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Staring at women

Men love to stare at women. But this is often disconcerting when you are with a dear one. How do you react when this happens? The best reaction I have heard is of my young friend which happened a few years back. He was walking with his girlfriend along Brigade Road in Bengaluru. She was walking before him, gleefully checking out all the stuff on display. He was walking behind her when he noticed another person coming from the opposite direction staring at her wide-eyed and open-jawed. When the person was nearer to him, my friend smiled and exclaimed "My girl", thereby giving out a strong message clearly forbidding him to trespass even with his eyes.

Recently, a friend of mine visited Tunisia. He sounded disappointed with the whole Tunisian experience when he returned.One of his disappointment was the way in which people stared at his girlfriend. His girlfriend has traces of different nationalities in her heritage and the subsequent looks from the merging of all these cultures make her look indigenous to these parts of the world. But, what interested me was his comment. "It may be because of me people were staring at her. Even the Tunisian girls were wearing the same kind of clothes my girlfriend was wearing. But, none of the guys were staring at her. It is probably because she was holding hands with a white man that made all these guys stare at her... If they know her as someone's sister or wife, then they probably might not even stare".

Thinking back, I feel sorry for him. At the same time, his statements are true on two accounts. The first is the curiosity about an inter-racial couple. Last week when my friend turned up with his date who happens to be a non-Indian, the rest of us were constantly watching their every move. In our case, we were not staring at them thereby unnerving the girl and making the guy uncomfortable. Of course, we wanted to make the guy uncomfortable in a playful way with a tiny pinch of malice. As years of experience has given us "double vision", we can look straight but still observe carefully through the corner of the eye. The second factor can be attributed to fear, respect or combination of both. When we know the background of the girl like a boyfriend, a brother or the father, we maintain a respectful distance.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pappettan loves wine

If you are wondering who Pappettan is, click on this link and find out.

Pappettan has excellent taste in life. You will come to know in the first few minutes you spend with him. So when he talked about his frequent appearances in the local wine tasting events, I was not surprised. In fact, I was impressed. This was another tidbit I learnt about him. A curious me quizzed him further.

Me: Wine Tasting.. Wow!

Pappettan: *smiles*

Me: *thinking of the complex science of wine tasting* There are so many details to check. How do identify, differentiate...

Pappettan: *smiles*

Me: *anxiously waiting for an answer* How?

Pappettan: I don't know how to. I just drink the wine.

Me: *shocked*

Pappettan: My wife doesn't want me to drink alcohol. Now I drink alcohol in the name of the wine tasting. I'm not an alcoholic. I have a hobby.

Who is "Pappettan"?

Who is "Pappettan"? The answer is "A superhero". Yes, Pappettan is a super hero. Unlike the popular vigilantes in the comics, Pappettan does not wear a mask or a suit. But like the popular vigilantes, he wishes to remain anonymous. So, Pappettan is a pseudonym.When I shook hands for the first time a few weeks back, little did I know my life in Paris was going to be more fun than it already was.

Pappettan can accomplish many wonders. He can make the shopkeeper sell a Halloween mask on the display window to him without even speaking a word of French. He can make a random beautiful girl pout her lips seductively and say "I luvvvv Chicken Masala" in no time. He can say the most politically incorrect statement and still make people blush or laugh. Last but not the least, he also knows when to draw a line. He understands what is fun and what is not; which a lot of us have trouble separating. For me, Pappettan is a symbol; someone who values life and enjoys it to the fullest. He may get hurt but quickly  bounces back dismissing it as a minor inconvenience. He retains the innocence of childhood even after growing up. Anger is not an emotion found in him. 

A few days back while speaking of his passion for photography, he said "I'm documenting my life.When I retire, I can look at these photographs and remember what I accomplished in life. I can also relive those days at a later period in my life". Then he adds, "In a way, you are doing the same with your blog". It is so true. So, here I'm starting a new series named "Papettan says". I am not going to document Pappettan's life. Instead I'm going to share tidbits from conversations which can be shared. The happy moments and jokes comes so fast that I have trouble remembering these later. This "Pappettan" is here in Paris only for a few weeks. But in life, you meet a lot of "Pappettan"s. So I guess, this series will last. In case it doesn't, I can always back and relive these days...

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