The Blah Blahs and the Yada Yadas

17 Mar, 2014

All Growed Up

Posted by: hammy In: faux pas|Gadgets

Growing old is inevitable. But growing up is a choice. Not my own – somebody wise said that. I simply endorse the view. It makes sense, you know. But it’s hardly new knowledge. Not a day goes by without someone or the other telling me to grow up. It’s quite clear that they know it’s a matter of choice. It’s not in debate. My only question is… why?

It can't just be because..

There has to be some plus side to growing up, of course. Every kid I know has this instinctive expectation that growing up is just going to be awesome. But the awesome part is not clearly defined – they think it basically means getting to stay up late at night, choosing to eat ice cream all day, and being able to get the better of that bully who steals their lunch money.

But as you grow older, you know that these things are less awesome than pictured. Sure, you get to stay up all night, but it’s going to hit you hard when you’re caught snoring during the team meeting you attend the next day. You can choose to eat ice cream all day, but the calories in it is going to build its own territory in your body until you start looking like Chris Christie. And no matter how grown up you are, you are not going to be immune to bullies; there will always be someone bigger, with more power, who can still metaphorically punch you in the gut. As a matter of fact, as you grow up, you may have a lot more bullies to face, some of whom may actually be Chris Christie.

are you gonna finish that

My point is… growing up is not all that it’s cracked out to be. I think it’s good to hold on to your childhood whenever possible. I have a small collection of toys that seem at odds with the fact that my household does not have kids yet. I have a tiny car on the showcase that I got with my rice crispies, a soft hand wavy thing that makes a cracking sound when struck, a cheap Chinese gun that shoots Styrofoam pellets, a battery operated bubble gun, an electric powered plasma globe, and a remote controlled car that I keep charged at all times. Is it something to be proud of? No. Is it something to be ashamed of? Well, according to some critics… maybe.

some DC villains started out that way

One of my recent acquisition is a neat toy called a ‘splat ball’… a small blob of sticky rubber filled with water inside, available in many shapes – angry birds, tomato, soccer balls, etc. If you threw one on the floor, it would spread itself for a second before re-forming its shape. My entire evening was spent throwing this on the floor and watching the cool shape shifting process. Not unlike T-1000, except the T stands for ‘Tomato’.

hasta la squishta, baby tomato

It may be enough to keep a toddler entertained for hours. But I’m a grown man playing with a squish toy; obviously, throwing it splat across the floor was not gonna cut it for long. I soon graduated to table tops and walls… and of course, inevitably, the ceiling. I would hurl this onto the ceiling, where it would go splat and stick on for a while, but due to the force of gravity acting on its own weight, it would eventually drop back down… where it would go splat on the floor again! So that’s twice the splat for your efforts. Hurrah.

less effort

As the evening progressed, I moved the splatsperiment to the bedroom ceiling… I knew, of course, that eventually, I would get tired of it, but for now, it was still pretty cool. As it turned out, gravity got bored of the game much faster than I did. It stopped playing the game and my splat ball just got stuck to the ceiling. It was quite late, so I just went to bed hoping it would drop on its own by morning.

It didn’t.

So I figured I had to do something to get it down. The mature, adult thing response would have been to take a long stick and just prod it loose. But in case you haven’t deduced from the collection of toys I have, I’m not well known for mature, adult responses. I got on the bed and reached for it with my small hand-shaped toy. It wasn’t long enough… so I leaned forward as far as gravity would let me (oh, yeah… Gravity only quit on the splat ball… It was working fine on other stuff)… Nope. Still not enough. I was already dressed for work by this time, and I should have given a higher priority to leaving for office than to scraping cheap, adamant Chinese toys off ceilings.

no, not that one..

I kept thinking… Maybe if I really crane myself… no, that’s no good. Maybe I could just hop a little bit… Drat!! That was close… So close…  No, no… One more time, with a little more oomph on the jump…  I’ll get it for sure. And… a HOP!

No, I didn’t reach it that time either, but that was the least of my concerns by then. My second hop had a bit more oomph than I had intended. If I were lean and athletic, I may have flown through the air with the greatest of ease… But as things stand, my landing was less than graceful. The bed… broke. If it weren’t for the mattress, I would have just gone on to the floor, possibly denting that too.

No, the bed didn’t disintegrate; it didn’t get smashed to smithereens… One of the layers supporting the top portion broke off… It happens. Accidents happen; nothing to be ashamed about. Except… at the end of the day, to people who know my inclination to cling on to kiddie toys, I jumped up and down the bed and broke it. And so far, nobody’s buying my ‘splat-ball-stuck-to-the-ceiling’ anecdote. They kinda assume that I’m just making it up to hide the fact that I jump on my bed every morning.

sure..

That’s just not fair. I wouldn’t do that; I’m reserving my jumping strength for the day I buy a trampoline.

The world has been shrinking for quite a while. It has been, for a… No, not in terms of mass or size… Come on, don’t act like you haven’t heard that before. With the blazing pace of human advancement, continents, countries and people have been getting more and more interconnected, making the world seem smaller. You know it, if not from the media trails, then from Walt Disney, who has been trumpeting “It’s a Small World” into your eardrums since 1964.

Anyway, like I was saying, the world’s been shrinking. It has been for a while, and with the advent of social media, the shrinkage has been so drastic that humanity as a collective unit has lost the concept of personal space.

google plus

You can’t go out without somebody getting into your face, because even if you sidestep that guy, your sidestep will only get you in front of another guy who’s getting into your face. Case in point – this happened to m… to this guy. Imagine you’re this chap. You’re a slightly portly humorist who tends to walk absent mindedly, tapping on your mobile as you head back from work. You’re just strolling into the elevator when you realize you have company. You look up from your mobile to see an elderly Arab gentleman apprising you with a frown and a raised eyebrow. Naturally, you look around to see if the f. and r.e. were meant for somebody else.

No, there’s nobody else around. Now, you are pretty sure that you weren’t doing anything to deserve the f. and r.e,, but you don’t want to appear rude, so you flash a small smile. At this point, the frown giver casually reaches over across the elevator and – swoosh – rubs something on your wrist… after which he nonchalantly walks out of the elevator as the doors close.

Not unlike a Disney version

I wa… You are completely surprised by the whole thing. You just stare at your wrist, now permeating a faint, but pleasant smell of perfume at the smeared spot. The old Arab chap had just rolled on some perfume on m.. on your wrist. Without a word. I was just… I mean, you were just left fuming – no, you are not angry as much as puzzled; the fumes in question are those invisible, odorous fumes coming from your wrist. So what do I.. you do now? Do I… I mean you… by which I mean ‘you mean you’… No, scratch that. ‘I mean’ is right. Except for the first time… or was it the seco…  Ok, ok, fine. This didn’t happen to ‘this guy’. It happened to me.

you don't say

So there I was, freshly smeared by unsolicited, unexplained, perfume, by some guy who just walked out after this fragrant attack. So what do I make of this? It’s not something to complain about, I mean – it’s just perfume… or was it?? What if it’s NOT perfume? What if this was the start of a biological attack and the guy was just marking ground zero? Well, maybe I was just watching too many movies – I wasn’t feeling sick, I wasn’t even giddy, and the smell was quite pleasant.

So I decided I didn’t really object to WHAT was smeared… just the WHY. If it were not for the weaponized attack theory, then… then… what? Do I… stink? Do I stink to such an extent that random strangers would distort their faces and shoot perfume at me and then run out? Do I carry a veritably nauseous cloud of stench around me that I’m just too nose-blocked to feel? But no… that’s ridiculous. I have friends who like my company… even when they’re not suffering from blocked noses. Unless… they’re adjusting by stuffing cotton up their nose at those times. If that’s the case, I’ve never seen it, which means they stuff it really really deep – maybe even surgically.

less offending

But these were all speculations, admittedly… There was no way for me to get to the real reason. Maybe he was a perfume salesman with poor marketing skills; maybe he realized that he couldn’t communicate with me, a non-Arab, only after wasting a sample fare. Maybe he was the elevator version of a Robin Hood reboot, a daredevil thief who would rob perfumes from the rich and smear them on the poor. Maybe he was just excited about a brand new perfume he had bought, but was trying to test it out on someone else before he tried it on himself. Maybe, he was a fan of the ‘Pay It Forward’ philosophy, and expected me to smear perfume on three random strangers in turn to trigger a chain reaction geared to spawn an odoriferous populace. The truth, alas, may never be known.

cos even a Disney

Another day, I was once again walking near the elevator, when I saw the old chap once again. He stood with a hunched back, his hands locked behind him, gazing at the entrance of the building. At this precise moment, a sprightly businessman, all suited up, came heading to the elevator. He quickly threw a glance at the old man and smiled. The old man walked over to him casually and – swoosh – rubbed a dollop of perfume on his wrist before walking away. The businessman just took this in stride and continued his trip to the elevator; clearly, this wasn’t his first swoosh.

So… the old guy was just being nice and neighborly, his frown and raised eyebrows notwithstanding. He was just doing a simple good deed, and I couldn’t help but try and analyze the reasons behind this. I was just being paranoid. But I’m paranoid for a reason. In today’s world, if a random stranger shows you any form of interaction, you do NOT take that in stride. You HAVE to figure out an angle. No matter how good the intention, you are geared to smell something fishy. You automatically assume there’s a sneaky, mean spirited agenda behind it. It’s how the world has become.

Even now, I have this suspicion that the whole thing was a teaser campaign, and someday, he will pop up with a ‘Perfume of the Month’ subscription catalogue.

21 Feb, 2014

Brake Dance

Posted by: hammy In: Life in the UAE|Taxis, Ricks and Traffic

They say you never truly appreciate what you have until the day you lose it. It could be anything, from eyesight, to your big toe, to bladder control, to your car keys. This phrase has never rung as clearly as it did for me last weekend.

Some of you may know that last year, I joined the polluting horde of the driving force by buying a brand old Honda Civic, pretty much alarming pedestrians across the UAE. Contrary to popular predictions, my behind-the-wheel experiences did not cause an appreciable increase in road fatalities in the region. It has been largely an uneventful year, accident wise. I’m not the best driver you can find, but I’m still chalking up the number of car crashes to ‘zero’. It may not get me invited to the next Fast and Furious installment, but it’s still nothing to be scoffed at.

zero crashes, f&f

It’s hardly been a month since I got my car re-registered for the year. It’s a process that the Government insists be done annually, because money. Plus, they get to sleep safe and sound, happy in the knowledge that they have made traffic safe and sound, except not really. So yeah, it’s the money thing.

money, if not for it

I was told that the inspection would be thorough. They would check the tires, the engine, the oil, the whole shebang, and if any of these failed to pass the intense scrutiny, the car would not pass for registration. I imagine a comically oversized bearded chap stamping the words ‘REJECTED’ on my application form and shoving me out of the building, following which I’ll have to make corrections and get  back in line to repeat the process.

So when I got my car cleared and got it re-registered, I was rejoicing on two counts – For one thing, it’s a boring bureaucratic process that’s best finished off quickly. Nobody goes through this as a matter of hobby. On another count, it also gave me reassurance that my car was a-ok. I had the official seal of approval – the ‘good to go’ rating that offered to put one’s mind at ease.

all right officer

So it was with a renewed sense of easiness that I drove my car out on the highway this weekend. It was a pleasant afternoon.  Mild traffic, almost bare roads, cool winds… well, of course, when I say cool winds, that’s because of the AC turned all the way up, because hello, I live in Dubai, essentially a desert, and we were driving in the middle of the day… but still – pleasant drive. I kept a speed upwards of 80 miles an hour, no problem. It was all smooth sailing – except, of course, not sailing; driving. I wasn’t being literal.

on road sailing

Anyway, once I exited the highway and started traversing through the smaller roads in the interior part of Dubai, the dance began. It was at a random junction where a blue Mustang had stopped maybe a hundred yards in front of me, dutifully obeying the stop sign in front. Not to be outdone in dutifulness, I hit the brake on my car, gently bringing my car to a halt behind the Mustang. At least, that’s how it would have happened in an ideal world. Down here in real life, gently footing the brakes did pretty much nothing in slowing down my car. Therefore, naturally, I started pumping the brake pedals quickly, and with full force – which wasn’t helpful either. The distance between the Mustang and my  Honda Civic was rapidly shrinking, and in some part of my brain, I was already bracing for impact.

overthought the impact

As panic crept in, I tried pumping the brakes in a more dynamic, more urgent fashion.  The brain went on overdrive, trying out varying scenarios – Maybe if I tilt my leg sideways and then hit the brakes… maybe if I used my heels to deliver more power… Maybe if use my other leg instead… Maybe if I stare at the pedal in a disapproving way while I foot it? Maybe if I yell obscenities while hitting the pedal?

damned shoes

None of these options had any effect  – to the car, it was no different from repeatedly pumping on the pedal, and it had already decided that won’t work. The one thing that COULD have worked – was the handbrake. I was going slowly enough at that point that the handbrake could have stopped the car. But in that moment of panic, the handbrake didn’t even register in my mind. In fact, nothing did. All that existed was the brake pedal, and the only solution seemed to be fancy footwork. In the end, it was just dumb luck that avoided the unholy Civic-to-Mustang smooch. The Mustang left the scene maybe a second before my car inevitably filled the spot. The Mustang driver still remains oblivious to the brief moment when my Honda Civic tried to land a big smooch on his Mustang’s rear end.

lipstick

Once the Mustang collision was out of my mind, my brain went off from panic mode, and the emergency handbrake option popped into mind. It’s ridiculous how it didn’t figure in sooner. I mean – it was an emergency, and the thing is called an ‘emergency handbrake’… In any case, I was able to slowly, but steadily steer my car away from the scene and into a garage through a graceful dance with the steering wheel, accelerator and handbrakes as support props.

It was a learning experience. I learned how important handbrakes are, why panicking is a poor recourse for emergencies, and why screaming like a little girl has very little advantages in such situations.  It was also a blessing that these issues didn’t pop up when I was cruising on the highway. The handbrakes would not have helped then – it may actually have flipped the car over if I used the handbrake at that speed.

So what is one to do? Of course, there is only one answer here. Redundancy. I urge you to learn from my experience – pack an extra brake with you when you go for a drive.

29 Jan, 2014

Codes must be crazy

Posted by: hammy In: College Files|Designs

I was an Engineer by education at one point. Engineering college is slowly becoming a pleasant, but vague memory of the past. The time spent goofing around with friends, will, of course live in perpetuity – Who can forget that time when, after five beers on a dare, we shaved that cat and kicked it into that well two days before the final exam? Of course, there is always that possibility that it was just a dream, cos hey, I don’t really remember what happens after the fourth beer. But in between the beer bouts, the movies, the parties, [...] Continue Reading…

He’s back.

Long time readers of this site may remember that I had been willfully targeted by one of the earlier drafts of God, Zeus. For those who don’t know him, Zeus is the ancient Greek god of thunder, lightning, weather and other random sky related phenomena.

For reasons unknown, Zeus had gotten into a personal vendetta against yours truly. I wrote about our first epic battle a long time ago. And we have had other battles on and off. As is often the case when men go to battle against divine, all-powerful, supernatural entities, the battle tends to be a [...] Continue Reading…

06 Jan, 2014

Resolute Resolution

Posted by: hammy In: faux pas|Gadgets|Life in the UAE

I was fishing around for an idea for a blog article, when my friends suggested that I write about my New Year’s resolution. They said it’s usually written towards the last day of December, but hey, better late than never. They advised that the key is to keep things realistic and manageable.

Fine, I thought… I can do that. So my new year’s resolution is pretty simple. It’s 4K. I mean… It would have been 4K, but then again, if I have to be realistic about it, then I think 4K is just a bit too far ahead of the [...] Continue Reading…

23 Dec, 2013

Gap Analysis

Posted by: hammy In: Life in the UAE

Ok. Excuses. Excuses. Let me see… I can do this. I just need to concentrate, that’s all. I’m a creative guy. I can come up with an excuse for not updating my blog for the past…decade, was it? This is the second longest stretch of inactivity in my blog, and the first stretch (from when I was born till the very first post on my blog) doesn’t count because it predates the blog itself… and the very concept of a blog for that matter. So this is the longest real stretch of inactivity for my blog ever. And I [...] Continue Reading…

24 Jun, 2013

Slightly over seige, doncha think?

Posted by: hammy In: Of Movies and TV

It’s been a rough few months here – I’m suffering through an overload at work, stress, traffic woes, a nosebleed, nightmares of getting waxed off again, and Stallone’s ‘Bullet to the Head’, none of which were pleasant. But finally, a spot of sunshine emerged a few weeks ago that should set everybody’s mind at ease. Steven Seagal has vowed to fight terrorism.

When America took up the war on terror initiative, it was mildly amusing to see an actual global power taking up arms against an abstract concept. It was basically akin to going to war with your inner demon [...] Continue Reading…

18 Mar, 2013

Cutting Edge Developments

Posted by: hammy In: faux pas|Life in the UAE

The human population is so diverse that no single means of classification can do any group justice. Classifying people on their inclination to get haircuts is as good a rationale as any. You can observe that within the male audience, there are people who like to keep neatly trimmed, perfectly groomed hair on their noggins. On the other side, we have the stubbornly resistant haircut-defying rebels who would raise arms against the ritual massacre of their cranial follicles.

For the major part of my life, I had belonged to the latter, defiant segment, hiding away from marauding scissors for as [...] Continue Reading…

11 Dec, 2012

Carazy Quest

Posted by: hammy In: Life in the UAE|Taxis, Ricks and Traffic

Guess who owns a car?

About two billion irresponsible, reckless jerks with no concern for pedestrian safety or traffic protocols, that’s who.

It’s just how it is. There is nothing to do but shrug and accept it as something that just exists, like a personalized Gangnam style video. But that shouldn’t stop you from asking a follow up question next week – Guess who owns a car?

About two billion PLUS ONE irresponsible, reckless jerks with no concern for pedestrian safety or traffic protocols. And this prodigal surplus jerk will ride a white, 2008 Honda Civic right into the sunset, which – [...] Continue Reading…


  • hammy: @hormingon toledo: Hey, Welcome to the BBYY. Thank you for your comment and your good wishes. :) Hopefully, I'll get to that 'famous
  • hormigon toledo: I don't even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don't know who you are but definitely you're going to a famous blogger if
  • hammy: @lirin francis: Yes, sis... It was a close one. I always wanted to ride in a Mustang... But preferably, I should get into that Mustang via the

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