Sunday, November 4, 2018

Spark



For the uninitiated and yet to turn 28, unlike me here, the most commonly cited reason for not liking a person when the entire universe (read: Maternal Mafia and Paternal Prime) works towards making you find a companion for life is: "spark nahi aa raha". This spark-not-coming is difficult to define and spell out to the Maata-Pita.

"Yeh spark kya hota hai? Humne toh koi spark nahi dekha tha apni shaadi ke time pe." It's ironic because the Mother has lit the gas stove for years and it cannot get more literal than that.

To bring some context, on the insistence of a friend, who has so far met twenty-four women in the arranged marriage market and claims to have a lot of data to pass judgment on the type of women in the marriage circuit, I recently added Jeevansathi as an app along with Hinge and Bumble. For friends wondering what are the latter, you guys are definitely out of the dating game for donkey's years now.

So how this Jeevansathi works is that you send "interests" to profiles that you like and then the other side may accept or decline your interest, where an acceptance opens a chat window and the parents on either side can take it forward. Bumble and Hinge are just the same, except not managed by parents, and less embarrassing for your profile to be found on by ex-girlfriends, their friends, old college crushes, people in your circle you thought were in a long relationship, and all of their respective dogs, sunglasses, bio stating their love for coffee, and the occasional not-here-for-hookups.

I got on JS after I, proudly, secured seventy plus matches and a few dates on Hinge. Two, to be specific, left a deep impact. One, who ghosted me after the first date, and made me feel all, tu kya ghost karegi merko, main terko ghost karunga, bey! And the second, who turned out to be an international tax lawyer (or disguised herself as one), and then sold me tickets to a three day long, may I mention expensive, residential conference on tax laws in another city, flights not included. The only good things that came out of Hinge were dates that I would not feel interested in, or may feel interested in only as a friend, or make such close friends that I use her Netflix account; and a ghost who hurt my ego; and a salesperson who made a profit off of me. In the last case though, the conference was totally worth it and I'm also saying this because I have to claim it as a business expense.

Having exhausted the same bunch of people, which show up by rotation on the apps, it was about time for me to get real. More so because the WhatsApp forwards I got in the name of rishte from my parents looked like stale bread, the Mona Lisa painted using my left foot, and a death threat, respectively. Jeevansathi was the next logical step. As you can tell, I use 'logic' very liberally.

My initial search criteria on the matrimonial app were Chartered Accountants between the ages of 22 and 27, within Delhi NCR, and Punjabi. The search results offered over six hundred profiles out of which one belonged to the Hinge ghost, and I should've taken it as a bad omen right then. But nahi, bhoot jo chada hai pyaar wagerah ka.

So much so that I then only put two criteria - over ten lakhs of annual income, and age between 22 and 27. Then I picked one occupation to browse at a time, one after the other, including the entire spectrum from 'beauty professionals' to 'owner at owner'. I would say this should be put as a lab practical in every Delhi University college to bust stereotypes. Soon all men will realize that regardless of caste, occupation, age and educational background, all women in the world are fair, slim, beautiful, respectful to elders, love to travel and only wear Indian ethnic. Honestly though, designers are the best looking lot. If you don't believe me, please download the app and see for yourself. Also, JMC girls. (I'm just joking humanities students and LSR girls on the internet, sorry, please don't kill me; but yes, JMC girls are the hottest).

Also, I then realized that I was going to turn 28 in two days and there's an entire age group which I could've considered but had ignored all through. So the process started again with age range from 28 to 28.

After 49 hours and 33 minutes, I have gone through every profile on JS and made 53 shortlists. If I were to send an interest to all of them and expect a ten percent acceptance rate, out of which I meet half, I'll statistically be meeting 2.65 women over the next one year. Out of all the possible women who are available for marriage in India and looking out on the internet. Shaadi toh ek hi se karni hai, so looks promising.

As you can see, over the past two weeks, the search criteria has loosened, the pool of options widened, and the app is deflated to exactly what Bumble and Hinge do - reduce this whole process to a game. How many interests, how many accepts, how many matches, how many dates? 

It's all just a Netflix subscription at the end of the day - you sift through thumbnails, reading descriptions, mentally shortlisting people, but never end up investing as much time in going all through because such busy lives; I have no time to text back, man; so exhausted by the time I get back home. And of course, no spark.

No spark. 

I asked my dad and learnt that my mum was the first girl he met as a marriage prospect. Same with the parents of the friend who is twenty-four women down.

"How did you know she was the one?"

"What is there to know? You just take a leap of faith."

Leap of faith. Is the lack thereof what we call, 'no spark'? What has happened with this generation and its mindset towards marriage? I guess it all just looks like a Jalebi. Very well made though - crisp, sweet, thin, respectful to elders - but all without a spark.

***

Image Source: raindogcomic.com

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Ikk Panjab

"Ek Dal Makhni, Ek Paneer Butter Masala aur Do Butter Naan"

If I had a thousand rupee note for every time my family dinners constituted various renditions of the abovementioned, I would be a crorepati, albeit of illegal, unwanted tender.

Having grown up in a vegetarian Punjabi household of teetotalers, Tandoori and Buttered platings of our brethren, the chicken and mutton, have stayed off the usual dinner orders during family outings. So, the Dal and Paneer reign. Now, with changing Punjabi trends, such as replacement of the words "kudiye" with "swag Gucci saree wali brown patola", it was about time that our vegetarian Punjabi dinners be given an equivalent upliftment.

Enters another Punjabi restaurant in the middle of Dilli da Brampton aka Rajouri Garden Market - Ikk Panjab.

Focused on "rediscovering lost recipes", the restaurant is an attempt to bring authentic flavors from pre-partition India. While it says so as its official tagline, the claim resonates equally in the decor - blown-up monochrome prints of the Sikh Regiment from 1940 amidst models of the rifles used in the Mutiny.

Nothing short of a museum, the restaurant tries its best to add to the minutest details, wherever possible - such as food being plated on a sil-batta; handcrafted copper bottles complete with perfectly aligned dents of a coppersmith's hammer; and types of achaar paanch - signifying the "punj" on a custom-designed wooden platter with the restaurant's branding.

The menu, however, plays with flavors authentic, yet differentiates itself in what it does with the offering. "Oh Teri" is the gimmick you begin with - a butter chicken samosa, followed by the choicest picks from The California Boulevard menu that fit the theme - the Palak Patte ki Chaat and Ambarsari Fish n Chips.

I'd recommend you try the Adraki Matran di Tikki, even if the "adrak" in the name may sound intimidating, and the Rahra Soya Missi Roti Taco - which is a filling of soya nuggets in a taco shell of missi roti.

For non-vegetarians, I'd trust the good fellow who accompanied me for dinner and swore by the quality of the Raan, which I've been told is done so well only at the Bukhara's or in Pakistan. (Disclaimer: The said friend has never visited Pakistan. When I questioned his claim, he reminded me how I liked this facebook post in hope of benefiting this gentleman half a rupee for his cardiac cancer. I then shut myself about trust and belief. Born debater, I tell you. Give him the benefit of the doubt). 

In my search for the substitute of a Dal and Paneer combo, I'd ordered the Achari Baingan and Punjabi Kadhi, both worth every dime you throw here - almost like the bhaint of an anna in a wishing well from Sikh history.

And how could I forget the drinks! To a Punjabi true to his roots, the Gud Wali Lassi may sound inviting, but I'd recommend you trust the signature items - the Tikhi Punjaban, a drink of tamarind juice, laal mirch and churan in a base of pomegranate; or the Dudh Soda, your favorite Roohafza Milk from a sunny Gurpurab afternoon spiked with some bubbly of the virgin variety.

The place is quite a drive from Gurgaon, but if you've lived in one of the refugee colonies of Delhi for a part of your life, and have some relatives still inhabiting one such in Western Delhi, there's a high chance this falls en route their address.

If my experiences of Punjabi women count, I'd recommend you save yourself some bickering on the way back home from your relatives', by skipping lunch/ dinner that your chachi/ maami/ bua would have prepared and bringing your mother here. I promise neither the servers nor the chef would mind if they hear her say, "Main koi isse kamm achha khaana banaati hoon?" The way she would devour it despite her diabetes will be enough signal for the staff to smile.

And I dare your pyo to suggest skipping dessert for an ice-cream from the thela outside. The Pathani Kesar Badam Kulfi and the Taran Taaran Jalebi are hard to miss. 

If you own a Punjabi restaurant in Rajouri Garden or Timbuktoo, I urge you to visit this spectacle and order just their Jalebi. That my friend is what you call a Jalebi. Trust me, I run a blog with that name.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Kaddu Planting




Doodles from this morning meeting. Kunzum Tako Kaddu Planter is my soul sister for the day. Suggests exactly what I've managed to achieve at my office desk since morning.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Neil Armstrong and the Case of Social Media Cliches

"You know, I cannot even post a gym selfie on Instagram anymore because these idiots will have another reason to troll."

"Calm down, Neil. It doesn't suit you at this age."

"Why doesn't it bloody suit me! When your grandchild does it, she's showered with a thousand likes and the title of an influencer. And when bloody I want to show the world how hard I've worked on my biceps, I'm told I'm just an old hag trying too hard to live up to my family name."

"Huh?"

"Armstrong"

"That's quite clever though", chuckled Janet, handing Neil his early morning cuppa.

"Why does this look so pale today? Is it not the filter coffee Naren sent from Mylapore?"

"Hashtag No Filter, old man."

***

Neil was a man of old tastes. He reminisced of the days he brought glory to the United States and took a giant leap for mankind. But unlike all celebrities other than Freeman and Thalaiva who drive themselves to insanity for the lack of attention post seventy - Neil was one who believed in changing himself with the times.

Except, he hated social media cliches.

***

"I'm sorry to say this, but all your attempt to be changing with the times is in vain. I mean, just look at yourself, Neil. You're such a curmudgeon, cursing at these kids' Facebook posts day in, day out."

"Please, Janet. I have no problem with anyone. I just have a problem with the lack of originality in this generation."

"Last night, I posted an old picture of myself with Buzz and Michael, writing about how on that historic Thursday of 17th July, 1969, we almost shit our pants when we separated the spacecraft from Saturn V, our rocket, on our first trip to the moon."

"As the rocket detached with a jostle, I remember Buzz mumbling what he thought would be his last words. The Apollo propelled and we could see the Saturn drifting away into space. That, my lady, was the real Throwback Thursday. And now if I use that term on my post, I look like a bikini-clad fashionista in a paid partnership with Elon Musk. Except, Space X cannot even afford to pay me anymore."

"I'm sorry I started you off on this early morning, Neil. It's my mistake."

"No, don't be sarcastic with me now. As my wife, I want you to be supportive of me. You were when I told you I wanted to quit the navy for the NASA program - and I want you to be now when I want to create an original identity for myself on social media."

"How am I being sarcastic? I'm with you, always, Neil. You just need to age gracefully, and not be craving attention on the internet all day."

"I hope you remember what they said about a space mission with three men. It's worse than prison, Janet. Put three men in a cramped space and a risk of not coming back from it alive, and see what your hormones can do to you."

"You used to tell me during training days how you thought Buzz was cute. Did you even think of what that could do with my head? I avoided looking at him all through that voyage. I would take out your picture from my pocket to see your pretty face after every intense conversation with him, almost like your photo would remind me of my love for you and give me the strength to hold back."

"I crossed my heart and swore to die if I ever brought shame to you. You were, are and will always be my giant leap, Janet."

"Aww, Neil."

"I fucking literally loved you to the moon and back, and now I cannot fucking say it on the internet because some trashy teen-queen keeps using it for the rest of the world."

***

Image Source: nbcnews.com

Monday, December 4, 2017

Unapproved Audit Observations - Part 1

My life revolves around visiting client sites ever so often with my visiting cards in the inside breast pocket of my blazer – almost like a CID pocket shield that I flash on the accountant’s terrified face and post one slap across his skull, having him spurt why he booked a capital expense as revenue.

The adventure mostly ends with micro-management of the articled assistant, correcting his draft of the report for want of 1.15 pt line spacing and justified text alignment. To add to my misery is the stuff that gets edited out from the report by Senior Partner of Sandeep Ahuja & Co.

Here’s taking a leaf out of my book – quite literally – and putting it where at least someone would read and appreciate. Here’s observation #1. True life story.

***


Client Name: Confidential
Branch under review: Unnamed District, Jharkhand
Period covered under audit: Quarter 2, Financial Year 2017-18
Scope: Review of Internal Control Systems
Audit Lead: CA Sarthak Ahuja

Observation: During the course of physical verification of fixed assets installed at the office premises, the Audit Lead observed that the plastic seat on the commode was rickety. Efficiency in the working of the asset was tested through a sampling exercise of sitting on the porcelain rim by putting up the plastic seat in a vertical position against the cistern at the back.

Overlooking the aspect of the rim being too cold, severe doubts on the functioning of the asset arose when on turning on the knob for the water jet, a cold stream of water flowed onto the head of the Audit Lead, almost trickling down his back from the collar above.

Cause: On in-depth examination, it was found that the design of the water jet is flawed, whereby the flexible hose through which the water travels into the jet was attached to the bottom of the backside of the plastic rim, as illustrated in Figure 1 and 2.

Effect: An adverse observation has been recorded due to the following reasons:

- The asset not just has a worn out plastic rim that does not stay firm when put down, but the water jet installation is design inefficient;

- The asset led to the auditor’s clothes having drenched in water, especially down the spine of the shirt, making it almost impossible to rationally explain the cause on his way out to the auditee staff. The lack of a shower system in the premises further limited the possible causes that could be used to explain the wetness.

- A trickle or two during accidental excretion of bodily fluids onto the official attire can be explained by an uncontrolled flow of the water tap in the wash basin, especially if the subject purposely splatters water onto his shirt, all the way down to his waist, in an attempt to explain such an incident. However, a trickle down one’s spine is an inexplicable situation adding to the subject’s embarrassment and lack of willingness to live.

Impact: High. The incident explains how if any of the auditee staff members were to accidentally experience the result of such a shortcoming in the installed fixed asset, it would lead to not only loss in morale of the employees, adversely impacting the working efficiency of the human resource, but may also lead to high employee attrition and turnover.

Management Response: The issue was not discussed with the Management at the time of debriefing due to the sensitive nature of the observation – open communication of which may have led to severe consequences such as a reduction in the authority commanded by the audit exercise. Thus, management response is sought through the medium of this report and may be obtained in the form of an Action Taken Report, the format of which is appended herewith.

Recommendation: It is recommended that the fixed asset be replaced at the earliest, with a more design efficient system be installed, such as a health faucet, which is in line with modern day practices of maintaining hygiene at the workplace.

It was also observed that the fixed asset was neither recorded in the Fixed Assets Register, nor bore any sticker signifying the fixed asset number. This would need immediate redressal as negligence in non-recording of an asset in the said register may lead to theft of the asset, which would also skip the notice of the team conducting physical verification of fixed assets.

Thereafter, the cost of the asset newly installed should be added to the gross block and depreciation be charged at applicable rates as prescribed under the relevant schedule of the Companies Act, 2013 as well as under the Income Tax Act, 1961, for respective purposes.  

Thanking you.
Yours sincerely,

CA Sarthak Ahuja
Partner

Monday, October 2, 2017

Your Pace or Mine?


If I write any further, my mother will think that my sole mission with this post is to reduce her street cred in the lanes of Mothers-with-Marriageable-Betas. But truth be told, Alpha her kid is not, and admittedly, as an appreciator of alliteration and puns, a Beta beta has a nice ring to it.

I’m gifted, both genetically and emotionally, to be asked to field in a game of cricket in seventh grade PE period, and make the spectators go aah-ooh when I run after the ball beyond the boundary, and throw it to cover a distance of 5 cubits between myself and the stumps at an angle of twenty-five degrees instead of ninety. Being promoted to the Man-of-the-Match-esque title, “Beech ka Bichhu”, I think I was actually glad that I’d get two shots at batting, and the perks of a Bhatta Ball – with an occasional try-ball at the beginning of each inning.

Football was closer to my heart though. I would run after the ball for five minutes like it was the final episode of Survivor: St. Columba’s School, and soon realize that the point of the game was to increase the heat in your chest to a Fahrenheit that would qualify for a hit reference in a Bipasha Basu starrer Omkara song. I would fall to the ground (for dramatics, because attention-seeking bitch), holding my chest with a heart that would thump like Skrillex deciding never to drop the bass. Open my shirt buttons and you would see redness like I tore my chest apart like Hanuman, apart from witnessing too much chest hair for a twelve year old… the sport was closer to my heart, I told you.

Over the years, and especially while I was taking my CA final exams, I realized that my body was actually doing a Benjamin Button, with returning baby fat and all. In an attempt to not reach a condition where a third person would do my washy-washy, I decided to reverse the reverse-ageing and, contrary to popular belief of every single joint in my knee, to take up a sport.

So I took up one which would allow me to not give an unfair disadvantage to others and be magnanimous like Arnold Schwarzenneger.

I started running.

What they call jogging.

Or what they actually call panting for breath while Lady Gaga’s Applause plays in your ears to build tempo, but the only tempo you can relate to is Ashok Leyland.

In the dark.

When no one would be in the park.

To mistake me for someone in need of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Not that I was getting any while not panting for one.

So, I would run in the moonlight of October 2013 – the silver of the full moon sifting through the carbon-dioxide emitting leaves and making the crescent on my forehead shine in its full glory.

I started small. Five rounds of the park every day for a week. Seven thereafter. Ten. Twelve. Fifteen. And finally, twenty – each round reminding me of the age when we were taught the numbers.

Every single year, at the annual school picnic at Lodhi Garden – there were a few things that would never change –

A guy from the class walking into one of the tombs and coming back to tell the rest that he either saw a ghost of the Mumtaz of the Lodhi who is still haunting the tomb, or better still, that he is possessed by the Mumtaz of the Lodhi, who will pounce at your Blue Lay’s because her death was caused by starvation from lack of Magic Masala.

Second, ten-year olds pelting stones at a man resting his head in the lap of a species from the feminine gender, who wore a dupatta-cum-burqah and exercised her abdominal muscles like biting off the crotch of her salwar – while the boys shouted “Romeo-Juliet” in unison with each pelted stone.

Third, the protagonist of this story coming back home with a fever that wouldn’t go for days four hundred ninety-six.

The same routine sans the spirit and the stones repeated itself when the hero would take annual trips to the Delhi World Book Fair and walk all day on two sticks that never worked more than doing a nocturnal spinaroonie on the bed while sleeping with Dadi Ma and kicking the gut out of her liquid-diet digesting stomach.

My body would catch a fever every time that it was exerted beyond normal. It never did during the annual running season because it would always be on slow counts of five, seven, ten, twelve, fifteen and twenty – spread over two months.

Circa 2017.

The over-enthusiastic, self-delusional bitch now decided to take up running again in the new park behind his new residence in Gurugram three days ago on account of a three-day-holiday, long-weekend, no-GST-calls, thank-god, whatever you may call it.

And ran twenty frickin’ rounds for two days straight, thinking haha, I’m a runner, bitch. I listen to Tamma Tamma on loop and kick the shit out of Gurugram’s morning runners, owning their patooties like no one’s ever pwned them before.

The last two days have gone rolling on my bed, trying to convince my family that I’m dying; taking medical advice from a second-year student of medicine who said exertion can never cause fever because it’s common sense that it doesn’t, and then looking up an article on Livestrong<dot>com to prove him wrong, while coming to terms with the fact that telling family about eminent death was actually not a joke, but is a reality.

Two back-handed slaps to that sadist bitch of a fever, who is keeping the temperature -running-, almost reminding me of what I cannot do for the next three days, or the remaining of my life, whatever comes earlier, ceteris paribus.

They say your whole life -runs- before your eyes before you die. Sadistic little piece of shit.

Anyway, at least the fever got this blog -running- again.

Goddammit!

***

Image Source: nottheworstcomic.com