Masala Bread and other stories

After being all hung up for a month about not posting rants on this blog, I give up. Consider yourself warned. There, now I am a master of cliches as well. Sigh.

My friend is a big fan of Dr Dang. That’s the only relevance of Karma in his life, praise be to Bollywood. I must admit though that even for someone as superstitious as me, the concept of Karma has been rather slippery. I have the emotional tensile strength of a wet piece of rolling paper, and I often feel like my whole life can be reduced to a couple of refrains: “why me?!” and “not again!”. Terribly unoriginal, I know, which is precisely the point. Isn’t ‘my‘ Karma supposed to be custom-made for ‘me‘? How is it then that I still end up in the same shithole as the rest of the world and feel exactly how everyone else feels about their lives? And what about all the good and honest things I have done in my life, like quitting smoking and washing my hands before every meal? I am not even counting  moving from Orkut to Facebook and not eating non-veg every other Saturday.

Actually, going by day-to-day evidence, I have always believed that  good Karma is a bit like provident fund. It is deducted from your life and you get to cash in on it after you are dead. The only difference is that you cannot appoint a nominee to enjoy the fruits of your good Karma, which is yet another flaw in the system. The Karmic universe is supposed to be driven by all the connections we forge with various peoples and things in our life, but when it comes to experiencing the sum of it, every man must only be for himself, and every woman for her man, which is the only relief.

Another screw-up with the Karma system is that noble thoughts alone are no good, there must be action. Just thinking that you will erect a home for the destitute or gift new underwear to your girlfriend is no good, you must actively pursue the erection and the bra. In other words, no credit for goodwill. On the other hand, the moment you so much as think of sleeping with a married colleague, you qualify yourself for a Karmic enema. Even if you didn’t know she is married. Ruthless.

Also, Karma ain’t too kind on people with a conscience, which is a big piss-off. Case in point – even if I briefly fret about my impending unmarriageable age in my sleep (which sort of happens every night), I wake up next morning with nasty mouth ulcers. The doctors call it aphthous or something, but I just know it’s Dr Dang’s doing.

Despite all my cynicism about Karma though, I have recently witnessed a spate of incidents that have shaken me enough to concede that life can surprise me after all. I am not necessarily feeling all ebullient about living just yet, but yes, there is a bit more unpredictability associated with the process now. Here’s three things that have made me believe I have a guardian angel hovering around somewhere. The thought does make me very conscious, lest she is a lady angel, but I am NOT going to shave my chest, whatever it costs my Karma.

1. “There are two things you better not watch in the making”, said Edward Leamer, “sausages and analyst estimates”. Being an editor and a trainer, I don’t have the option to avoid the latter. Thankfully, there’s a reason why ‘analyst(s)’ starts with anal. While they walk away with all the money and chicks, I laugh at them because I know that behind their partners’ backs, they jerk off staring at financial models. They believe god does not exist because he is not listed on the stock exchange. They act like brides who have been called fat on their wedding day when I point out the meaninglessness of their reports. And as I sit and contrive more such witty sarcastic one-liners about them, they interpret my arousal at the sight of a good figure of speech as a sign that I will surely die single.

The ground in a place like this, I have always believed, crawls with prejudice and hate. They hate me, I have always believed, “not that I am longing for love from losers who cannot spell to save their lives”. They hate me because I force them to attend full-day training on writing and communication. They hate me because I rub it in that they cannot even spell ‘accommodate’. They hate me because I talk too much and talk too correctly. They would love to see me disappear. And then I get this email from one them – someone who has always quietly fed my nastiest and most elitist jokes about ‘linguistic retards’ – after my final communications skill lecture here.

“Though I am not sure if I heard it before that you are leaving, but as you reminded us today, it was a bit painful. Though people come and go (you already know that I am not a very talkative guy generally so I keep myself on my seat working so you can say that I am poor in talking/moving around) and I have never had a very frequent communication with you, I really feel that a person is leaving who could add lots of value to all of us on the floor. Honestly speaking, I attended two training sessions where you took the sessions, I can honestly share this that both the two added value. This is a separate case though that how much I could keep it with me for long. Though everybody know this already, you ended the session with a great learning. Many thanks for that.

Wish you all the best for your career ahead.”

I am an adult, you know, AND I am part of a business that teaches one to make assumptions about things without knowing jackshit. I want to marry a person who knows all about articles and punctuation. And now I know all that is really bad Karma, but someone out there is giving me another chance.

2. Masala Bread, the snacks division of Nilgiris, set up a promotional counter at the office canteen today. I was hungry for something that did not belong to the Rice Batter family, and Masala Bread obliged. Cold cuts, reshmi kebabs and patties, besides something that my boss identified as “soyabean sandwich”, which later turned out to be a mixed-veg cutlet. The food was free, and the kids at the counter were nice and spoke to me in Hindi. And no one attempted to give me enough saambar to last till  dessert. “Do give us your feedback sir, what you liked or disliked and what else you think we should serve”, one of them said, shoving a footlong form in my hand. “Your portions are too small for me to form an opinion,”  I threatened to leave without filling the form. They would have none of it and forced me to overeat. I signed the form and asked them to write whatever they felt like.

They are opening a counter right next to my office building, which I will never have the time to visit, and what could have been the odds they’d visit my office five days before my last day here AND on the precise day when two years of idli poisoning were finally taking their toll on me?

3. One of the surest indexes of measuring your Karma is how much you spend on your weekends. From a net dole of 1000 for the month, I now spend that much in just two days, multiplied by four every month, though it does not feel half as good. Well my Karma is giving me a chance to relive those happy days once again, because, remember, I am soon going to be without a job?

Weekends just before you relocate to probably India’s costliest city can be perilous. You want to socialise and get drunk all the more because you are leaving, but you also realise that such sentimentality is a poor investment because most of the people you get drunk with won’t even remember you in a few days’ time. As such, free booze on Friday evening, a massive Saturday lunch at the boss’s including shrimps, chicken, sausages, pulav and tomato juice and then a Sunday dinner invite promising to cover the other half of the non-vegetarian universe is pretty damned amazing. I did a quick round of mental math, and I have tears in my eyes. I already feel like a better human being.

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  1. Tanmoy,

    All your Karma talk is fine and nice…but the juiciest lines are ….

    ‘you must actively pursue the erection and the bra.’


    ‘They act like brides who have been called fat on their wedding day’

    You do have a lovely sense of humour when it comes to writing….it is enjoyable to go through the same….

    And yes, happy belonging to the big bad rich city of Bombay…



    1. Actually, the bride line is lifted off Dev 🙂 🙂 He used it as a rebuttal in one of our characteristic conflicts! At least the ol’ devil is becoming of some use now!!!

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