The Second Swig of Honesty

I was at a Buffalo Wild Wings on a warm spring evening attending to my dietary needs, polishing off some chicken wings with a pint of a cold one. What with the NFL Draft and a Bulls game, the place was quite full of loud boisterous people.  They had a raffle going on and some games being played, but nothing exciting enough until that point of time to pull me away from the “Jammin’ Jalapeno” in my hand.

But then, over the din, I suddenly heard the manager of the establishment speaking into a microphone requesting five fine young men to come over to the Juke Box for a challenge. Although I fit the description very well, not being very knowledgeable about the American musical scene, I continued working on the “Jammin’ Jalapeno”.  I had just finished it and was reaching out for the “Buffalo Medium”, when all of a sudden I heard him mention that the challenge involved a shot and doing the ten fastest pushups. Now this was right down my alley; I can knock out ten pushups in less than ten seconds even if you wake me up from a deep slumber at 3 in the afternoon, and I almost (a different story for a different time) never say no to free alcohol.

So I walked over to the Juke Box feeling quite confident and the waitresses brought out our shots. That was when I realized that owing to the aforementioned noise, I had not heard the manager utter the words that mattered the most. They are times like these when one realizes the importance of not only looking, but also listening carefully before making the metaphorical leap. My enthusiasm at the thought of a free shot of alcohol turned into trepidation as I noticed that the shot glass in front of me was filled with the notorious “Blazing Hot” sauce. I staggered back a couple of steps as the blast of vapors emanating from the shot glass hit my nose. Now for those of you who are not familiar with Buffalo Wild Wings, let me give some background information. This is the place you go to when all your friends want to partake of some chicken wings but cannot agree on a flavor. The wings here are served dipped in 15 different sauces, each one with a varying degree of hotness. And the “Blazing Hot” is the king of the said lineup of hot sauces.

So now that you have an idea of the challenge that I was up against, you will forgive the slight quiver in my otherwise steady hands as I reached for the shot glass.  At the count of three, I lifted the glass up to my lips and took a big swig of the foul liquid.  Those among my readers, who have had the good fortune of drinking a shot of alcohol will know that that is all the effort it takes to accomplish the task.  But that is not how it works with a red viscous sauce made of chillies that makes your insides feel as if they have been set on fire; viscous being the buzzword here.  As I looked down in my glass, I realized that I had managed to gulp only half of the offensive substance.  Being the honest person that I am, I tightened my gastric muscles, and took another swig to finish the task at hand.  To those who are still paying attention to what I have to say, let me tell you, it is not easy being an honest person in a world filled with crooks.  While I was doing the right thing and finishing the shot of the “Blazing Hot”, everyone else, not bothering themselves with the pursuit of the second swig, had thrown themselves to the ground and started crunching out pushups.  I knew I was fighting a losing battle but not being one to give up easily, I knocked out the ten fastest pushups ever managed by humankind.  But by then, the second swig of honesty, had claimed its victim; I had finished a close second.

The six free chicken wings that I got for accomplishing this feat were no compensation for the torture that my body had to go through later that night; the details of which, I will spare my readers.  At this juncture some of you may be inclined to ask if I regret undertaking this challenge; to which, my dear reader, I will reply that the only thing I regret is not coming out on top.

P.S. : The above story is true.  Happened to the author on April 26, 2012 at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Willowbrook, Illinois.

The desire to be the best!

People sometimes find me incredibly stupid.  But what they don’t know is this – I am a very, very competitive person.  And when I am with them, I cannot help but beat them at being stupid!

On the psyche of the married male

There are two kinds of homo sapiens, male and female.  Male homo sapiens are further divided into two categories, unmarried and married.  It is the latter species, the married male homo sapiens, and their characteristics, that we shall discuss today.  All male homo-sapiens start life as the same species with no visible differences in their physical or mental attributes, but a distinct change is observed in their behavioral pattern when they come in contact with a female and decide to get married.  Although no evidence has yet been found to satisfactorily explain this phenomenon, it is speculated that the rituals that the male has to go through at the time of marriage, transform it into a completely different animal.  This metamorphosis can be identified by the following characteristics:

  • Eating and drinking habits of the male undergo a drastic change.  More wholesome food becomes a part of it’s staple diet, which in turn results in an increase in it’s abdominal area.  Wine replaces beer as the drink of choice.
  • The garment cleaning process, previously undertaken on an as needed basis becomes a weekly ritual, and an effort is made to improve it by the introduction of additional external agents like fabric softeners.
  • A distinct change is observed in the social interactions of the male.  Loud Saturday night social gatherings at the local watering hole (read pub) are replaced by quiet dinners at home, with a few guests.
  • The one kitchen knife that previously cut all is retired from service and replaced by a fleet of 17 knives, each designated for a different food item.  Articles in the kitchen are augmented by the inclusion of new items like food processors, coasters and colanders.
  • There is a sudden increase in the knowledge database of the male, which now includes information about furniture outlet store locations, thread counts on bedsheets, female cosmetic products, and other similar previously unknown facts.

Apart from these, several other subtle changes are noticeable in the males, which vary according to the individual.  A large majority of males have been observed to follow this evolutionary path.  However, opinion among social anthropologists is still divided over it’s long term advantages and disadvantages in the race for survival.  Whether the loss of a simplistic lifestyle and individual freedom is a price, worthwhile to pay, in return for a certain degree of respect and acceptability in society, is a question open to discussion.

The Night Rider

He turned the car sharply to the left and surveyed the scene in front of him.  It was dark, and the rain was pouring down.  He had to stay focused and alert if he was to succeed at this; he knew he was not the only one out there.  At this time of the night, the odds were stacked against him.  He slammed on the brakes; he saw a light 100 yards to his right.  He had a window of 15 seconds to do this.  Heart thumping in his chest, he pushed down on the gas pedal.  The car slipped on the wet ground, but he managed to regain control.  He kept narrowing the gap, never slowing down; until he knew he was not to be defeated.  He let out a cry of triumph as he pulled into the only vacant parking space!

P.S.  True story.  Happened to to the author on April 2, 2009.

So, when are you getting married?

Almost every person I meet these days wants to know when I am getting married, now that I am 29.  I don’t understand the obsession that Indians have with marriage.  Why should age be the sole criterion for getting married.  Why do events in life have to follow a predetermined sequence – you go to school, get a college degree, find a stable job, turn 25, and get married.

Is it that difficult for people to understand that some people are just not ready for the added responsibility and the long term commitment.  Or that someone is considering a radical career change which would be unthinkable if they were married.  Or that they just haven’t found someone they can spend the rest of their lives with.  I love the freedom that comes from being single; I love that I don’t have to consult with anyone before I make plans.

The fault does not lie entirely with the older generation.  I expect them to be concerned about my marital future because that was the kind of environment they were brought up in.  But what amazes me is people my age who come up to me with completely unsolicited advice about how they think it’s time for me to get married.  My question is, how do they know that it’s time for me to get married?  I have seen a lot of people get married because their families, or society thought that it was time for them to tie the knot.  Why can’t they learn to think for themselves and stand up for what they believe in.  Why can’t people for once, understand that age has nothing to do with marriage; that the right age to get married is when you are ready.

Not a day goes by, when I am not asked about my nuptial plans; and I have resigned myself to these enquiries.   But I have not stopped hoping for the day when people would stop worrying about my marriage.  I wouldn’t hold my breath though.  I am an Indian, and I know my people.

I don’t go looking for trouble, it finds me!

I believe everyone should live life in such a manner that by the time they are sixty, they have a huge collection of interesting stories, that they can tell their grandchildren.  When I look back at my life, I have not done badly at the almost half-way mark.    Here are a few memories from my childhood, that make me smile every time I think of them.  And they were not without consequences either, some of them got me into serious trouble; which makes them all the more memorable.

  • Falling 15 feet from a tree, two days before my 11th birthday.  Breaking seven toes on my feet.
  • Sneaking a dead rat into class, in the hope that it would start stinking in a day or two.  Realizing, to my disappointment, that not all dead rats stink.
  • Spreading a rumour that one of my classmates had been mistakenly shot by the police.  Pulling together enough courage to confess to the principal, as she was about to leave for the hospital.
  • Playing cricket for hours after school and trying to fool my parents by changing the time on my watch.  Realizing that you are not as smart as you think, when you are 11.  Or 21, for that matter; or 28.
  • Fighting with my brother every time the new issue of ‘Champak’ arrived.  Hiding the book when I was not reading it.
  • Climbing a tree, only to find out I had disturbed a large colony of fire ants.  Riding my bike home, two kilometers away, like a madman.
  • Throwing pebbles at passers by, with my best friend, from the balcony.  Hating the shopkeeper across the street for refusing to turn a blind eye.
  • Competing with my cousin, to find out who could stand longer on a cement wall; bare foot, on a hot summer afternoon.  Feeling a sense of pride when I won.
  • Breaking the asbestos roof on my neighbour’s shed while trying to steal a kite, and bruising myself badly in the process.  Making up a story to keep my parents from finding out the real reason for my injury.
  • Riding a bike with my best friend, turning into streets we had never explored.  For once, not knowing the way out.
  • Bowling a vicious bouncer that whistled past the batsman’s head and struck the glass window behind him.  Not being able to suppress my joy, even when the owner of the house walked out.

I hope you don’t get the wrong picture from these stories, believe me, I have always tried to stay out of trouble.  But it is my failure to do the same, that has made life enjoyable.

The Perfect Girl Paradox

My idea of a perfect girl:

  • Does not like flowers, jewellery, or make-up.
  • Drinks beer, speaks Hindi,  and understands my jokes.
  • Likes camping/hiking/adventure, and does not mind getting dirty.
  • Reads a book, rides a bike.
  • An atheist, iconoclast; thinks wedding ceremonies are a waste of money.
  • Has a job.

And people wonder why I’m still single!


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