Friday, May 27, 2005

The Heist

Are you ready for a gripping tale containing all the essential ingredients of a great drama... a tale of suspense and intrigue, of trust and betrayal, of magnanimity and treachery, of romance and riches beyond imagination... with a couple of good chase sequences and lots of stuff blowing up? Then be prepared to be bitterly disappointed. (man, do I love disappointing my audience or what??) :-) The title of the post is just a marketing ploy to con unsuspecting blokes that stumble upon my blog into reading this tripe that I'm trying to pass off as a legitimate post. This is, in fact, a tale of two little kids and their piggy bank.... you know, the kind that kids put coins in and expect to find a fortune when they open it....

The two kids in question are my brother, who's a couple of years younger than me, and yours truly. And the incident in question took place when I was around eight or so. Now this was a long time ago and there are some gaps in my recollection of the incident, which I have conveniently filled with fiction for your benefit. Now as kids, my bro and I were hardly the "Ram-Lakshman"-esque pair you hear about so often in stories like this one. In fact, the relationship between the two of us was always more than a little testy. I regarded him as a loud and stinky cry baby(which he was) and he regarded me as a big bully for reasons unknown. Not a day passed without the two of us attempting to resolve our differences through the time tested conflict resolution mechanism commonly called fist fight. Our parents had to tear us away from each other's throats more often than they would have liked. They tried pretty much everything in the good-parenting manual and then some to get us to behave more like kids and less like a couple of pit bulls. And as you may have guessed, all their considerable efforts bore little fruit.. thanks entirely to my brother who absolutely refused to be reasonable... unlike me. Then one day my dad came up with a brilliant idea.. (I know what you guys are thinking.. "Dad came up with an idea. There's no way this can end well.." .. and you are absolutely right!!)

The idea was simple and sounded pretty good too. He reasoned that if my brother and I had a joint stake in a venture, we would have to co-operate to ensure that the venture was a success and that would keep us from trying to push each other off the first floor balcony. That night as my brother and I fought for the control of the toy plane, dad called us aside and instead of trying to talk some sense into us, he produced a shiny new plastic piggy bank and asked us,"How would you like to earn your own money and put it into this piggy bank?" Now, among other things, my brother was a real mercenary too. Dad's words immediately caught his attention and he promptly stopped the high-pitched wailing he had immersed himself into after I had wrested control of the toy plane. My dad, encouraged by this, proceeded to explain how we could make our fortune. We would get money for errands we ran around the house and even for just staying out of trouble. In addition, any change that was left over when we got stuff from the neighborhood grocery store would be ours to keep. We could deposit all the money we got into the piggy and when the piggy got full, it would be opened and we could collect our respective contributions. It would be more money then we could imagine, dad promised us.

The venture started off well. My bro and I put all the money we got into the piggy and we didn't fight as much. Everyone was happy and I noted with satisfaction that the piggy was getting heavier every day. Then one day I noticed my bro surreptitiously throwing a candy wrapper into the trash can after his visit to the grocer's. That day he did not deposit anything with the piggy. I noted with growing concern as his deposits became more and more infrequent, while I diligently continued to deposit all my money into the piggy. I wondered how we could get our "respective" contributions back once the piggy was opened. The little runt would undoubtedly try to dig into my share and I'd have to hold firm... but I decided I could worry about that at a later time.

The days flew by and one day I couldn't push my coin into the piggy. The promised day had arrived!!! I was rich!!!! I resisted the temptation of opening the piggy up immediately and counting the booty... my crafty bro would accuse me of fiduciary malfeasance if I opened up the piggy in his absence. So, I fetched him and he commented happily that the piggy was indeed very heavy. After a small struggle involving two spoons and a fork, we managed to open the piggy up. We counted the collection and it was all of 109 rupees and 35 paise. It was at this point that all the trouble started. My bro said something like,"Now that we've counted the money I'll take my Seventy five rupees and leave." Now, I knew I'd have to put up a fight to get my fair share, but this I'd not expected. I'd assumed that he'd ask for half the booty and the negotiations would start there. His words struck me like a blow to the solar plexus and for a moment I just stared at him, stunned. Then I launched into action and all hell broke loose. I knew now there was no way I could get my share through peaceful negotiations.. my bro was simply impervious to reason. A more direct approach would be required. The direct approach I decided on was to make for the pile of coins with both hands.

It took my bro a while to react too.. clearly, he had not expected this... then he lunged towards me and very soon we were at each others throats.. again... attempting to settle the issue the old-fashioned way. After a bit, he realized he was not making much headway and unleashed his weapon of choice... the high-pitched wail. Dad rushed into the room and looked on in disbelief at the two of us duking it out in a pool of small change. Dad, realizing his master-plan had spectacularly back-fired, seperated us, took me aside and said to me,"You're the elder brother. You should now behave like one. He wants the money.... give it to him. You can make up that money again in little time."... with an "or else" implicit in the suggestion. It was with a very heavy heart that I agreed to dad's suggestion. At that time, the small pile of coins indeed represented riches beyond imagination and I felt like a man whose fortune had been taken away from him.

That incident taught me a very valuable lesson.. a lesson no amount of money could have taught me.... never share your piggy bank with a crafty younger brother... :) until later... cheers...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

It's a Beautiful day...

It was a beautiful day. The Sun was shining bright and the sky was spotless blue far as the eye could see. The flowers swayed in the gentle breeze and the sparrows chirped happily as they flitted between the trees. In short, it was a perfect day. But this is not the story of that day. This is the story of a day that makes you wonder why you ever got out of bed in the first place. In fact, my sentiments were quite along those lines when I woke up in the morning. It was a monday morning and that meant I could look forward to the excitement of a week of work!!! Yahoo!!! (for those who haven't caught the sarcasm yet, you don't know me very well, do you?) I had this sudden impulse to call my project manager lady and tell her that I'd fallen down the stairs in my eagerness to get to work and broken my neck... and wouldn't be in for the day... no, week... or better still, rest of my life!!! It was with some difficulty that I managed to restrain myself and abandon the comfort of my bed, feeling bluer than ever. To add to my misery, I realized that my right hand was hurting pretty bad, probably on account of my having fallen asleep on it sometime during the night as I dreamt happy dreams that didn't involve mondays or work or project manager lady.

I wasn't feeling much better when I got to work and then things went downhill pretty rapidly. My day at work got off to a most inauspicious start and I realized as much when the first person I bumped into at the office happened to be none other than project manager lady. Forcing a smile onto my lips that belied my tortured interior, I cheerfully enquired about her weekend and then carefully steered the conversation to the topic of my application for leave on thursday and friday. Now let me give a background on this leave application. I had applied for leave a month in advance to attend the wedding of a close friend of mine, at which time project manager lady had conditionally approved the leave... the condition being, "provided there's no critical work assigned to you...". Now, back to the present.... When I brought up the topic of my leave, project manager lady uttered a cry that can best be described as a sound somewhere between the croaking of a frog and the crowing of a crow. That was followed by a few more sounds that I find impossible to describe with my limited vocabulary and she concluded her extraordinary response with a "Let's talk about that." For a man on the edge, I showed remarkable composure as I controlled the homicidal urges that were steadily building up inside me. The prospect of leave was what had kept me going on this morning of despair and the lady was threatening to extinguish the faint ray of hope that the leave represented. What kind of sick and crooked world was I living in?... aargh!!!! I tore myself away from my melodramatic thoughts and retired to my desk before my will gave way rendering the lady, Late project manager lady. The pain in my hand had now spread to my shoulder and my head was beginning to spin from the response I had just received.

As the day dragged on, I began to feel more and more like a man who had seen the rise and fall of civilizations... wise and solemn. Ok, not quite that but I was beginning to feel like a man whose body hurt with old age and whose tired bones had seen better days. Thus feeling, I visited the restroom and upon satisfactory conclusion of business prepared to return to the confines of my cube. It was then that I realized that the zipper of my trousers had given way and if immediate corrective action was not taken, the question "Boxers or briefs?" would be rendered rhetorical in a bit. I tried to force the zipper into position and quickly realized that restoring the zipper to its full functionality would not be among the solutions to my predicament. My poor head was already spinning pretty fast and this latest calamity was the proverbial last straw on the camel's back.... my head, in this particular case. The only solution I could come up with in my current state was to pull out the portion of my shirt that was tucked into the trousers and hope that it adequately shielded the accident. I proceeded to do the needful and realized to my horror that the shirt, at full stretch, ended just short of the bottom of the zipper. I realized that I was no match for this disaster of epic proportions that was staring me in the face and that these desperate circumstances called for decisive action. Making sure the hallway was clear, I rushed to my desk, picked up my back-pack and bolted towards the exit leaving behind a couple of very startled colleagues in my wake. I must have made quite a sight as I cantered back home, furiously tugging at my shirt with both my hands, wondering why the hell I got out of bed in the morning... 8-) ... until later... cheers...