Sunday, October 30, 2011


I am a hardcore metal fan and needless to say, I love Metallica, a band whose name even sounds like metal! I waded through half my school and college life listening to them and going for moshpits and rock concerts. In less than 3 hours, Metallica is playing at Bengaluru and I am sitting on my pad sipping a beer and listening to them on my laptop, sad but true (one of my fav songs by the by). It’s the dream of any Metallica fan to see Kirk Hammett live, but damn! I am not going for the gig. I have other responsibilities to take care of and ever since I started living on my own, I have been slightly more careful about my money. So here I am venting my frustration of not going for it by writing a blog (I know, Loser!!!) Five songs of Metallica which I think are just the best! Any rocker worth his locks cannot but head bang to these ultimate metal solos.

(1)Creeping Death
In the movie The Ten Commandments, The Angel of Death is represented by a green cloud. Bassist, Cliff Burton thought it looked like ‘Creeping Death’. Thus was born one of the best solos Metallica has ever had. This song was originally written when Kirk Hammett was in Exodus and was named ‘Die by the Sword’. Hardly any live performance goes without the crazy fans humming to this song when the chorus sings ‘die die die’.

(2)Master of Puppets
Ranked by VH1 as the third greatest Heavy Metal Song ever, Master of puppets is a song on drugs. The reference is to master controlling your life throughout the song; the master being drugs and the drug user the puppet. Metallica also recorded this with the San Francisco Symphony in 1999 which features in their album, S&M.

There are songs and then there are songs that never leave your mind; this song from ‘And justice or all’ was the first single released by the band to feature bassist Jason Newsted. He continued playing with Metallica until 2001. It is a song about a soldier wounded by a mortar blast in his face asking the doctor to kill him. The lyrics are based on the novel ‘Johnny Got His Gun’ by Dalton Trumbo, which is about World War I.

(4)Enter Sandman
Initially this song was supposed to be about death, but they changed the theme to nightmares because the then manager Bob Rock though death doesn’t sell. This paved way for James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and Kirk Hammett to make ‘Enter Sandman’ which is by far the most Radio played song of Metallica. Due to its overwhelming popularity, Metallica usually signs off an encore with this song.

(5)Fade to Black
When you are robbed the last thing you would do is write a song about it, but that was what inspired James Hetfield to write ‘fade to black’. He wrote this song one fine morning when he found his amp stolen. Not only was the amp his favourite, but the first one he ever owned. This song is all about losing everything and wondering if it’s worth going on. This is also the last song Jason Newsted performed on tour with Metallica.

For those who know them already, cheers! For others, try listening to them, you won’t be disappointed :-)

Friday, October 14, 2011


I left home 4 years back. Even when I was at home, my dad has never agreed on giving me a two wheeler, he was damn scared about me driving it, the roads I am driving on and the vehicle I could be possibly driving. So when I started my city hopping, I never had the luxury of a bike or a two wheeler and a four wheeler was out of question, I always had to use public transport. Of the cities I have been to, I have stayed in Hyderabad the maximum and as much as I have grown on the city, the city has grown on me. If there is one thing I would like to change about this city, it is the auto rickshaw drivers’ attitude. Yes, I know it’s a pan Indian scenario, but as far as I am concerned, it is in Hyderabad I had to travel by rickshaws the maximum and I must say it had made me a wiser man! There are some lessons I learned from bargaining with them, there is a knack of travelling in the rickshaws and there is a knack for getting the best price (yes it is an auction to a large extent) This skill I picked up in Hyderabad has helped me travel by rickshaws anywhere in the country without the fear of actually paying as much as the ric itself!

So here is my guide to travelling by auto rickshaws in Hyderabad:

# You remember that Chinese guy Russell Peters mentions in his show who tries to sell him a purse for $ 35? Well…the rickshaw drivers in Hyderabad are pretty much the same! They will try to give you the best price. They will try to convince you that by taking you for 4 kms for 200 bucks they are actually doing you a favour!

# When you stop a rickshaw, your glance should first go to the bar separating the driver from the passenger seat to see if there is that small thing called a ‘meter’. If it is not there, don’t even think about arguing, unless if you have no other better business in the world and you want to get amused.

# It is sad but true, try stopping a rickshaw whose driver is an old man because they say, the older generation is better and it is true to a large extent.

# If you find the meter is flying faster than a MIG airplane, do not have any qualms in stopping him right there, tell him his meter is almost ready to take off and walk away.

# In case you are in emergency, never…I repeat never let the ric driver know that! If you do, that’s it. Get ready to pledge your chain, ring and all possible items to pay him. This I learned the hard way. I was flying to Trivandrum from Delhi (the old airport). It was an Air India flight (I know, no good looking air hostess! Again sad but true) and since it was a domestic flight I went to the domestic terminal. The flight was at 6 and I reached the airport by 5.15. To my dismay, they tell me since it’s an Air India flight and the departure is from the International terminal and I had no effing clue where that was. I asked a rickshaw guy where it was, he said it’s quite far and I am gonna miss the flight! He said he’ll try taking me there and quoted an amount of 250 bucks. In that panic, who cares if it is 250 or 450! To sum it up, I was auto borne and he was not exactly racing or anything. 5 mins after that I see the board ‘International terminal – left’. Yes, I paid 250 bucks for 750 metres. And to make matters worse, the flight was bloody late!!!

# In case there are no rickshaws available and these guys do not agree to take you where you want for a decent fare, you know what I do? I ask the police man at the junction to get a ric for me. I call him Sir, make my face as if I don’t get a rickshaw now I will die of fatigue, that’s it, job done, any rickshaw will take you where you want as per the meter price.


Get into the rickshaw for whatever fare he wants, go till the nearest police station and ask him how much he wants?

# Ever tried offering a cookie or a fag to the rickshaw driver while he is driving? It has worked for me. Try being nice to him, he might reciprocate; again I repeat… he might.

# Ever tried preaching to the driver after you get in? Some of the best dialogues are:
“I believe in dignity of labour, you are doing your work and I am doing my work, money doesn’t come free to anybody. We are not policemen or politicians to get a bribe”
“I understand your predicament, but why make money by unfair means? 10 rupees extra I will give because I respect you and your profession”
These might work, if they do not, he is fubared (fucked up beyond any redemption)

# In case you are not going by meter and upon reaching the destination he starts saying this is not where you had told him to drop you and you have to pay extra for covering that extra 2 metres, there are couple of options to deal with it: (1) Keep the exact change and walk off (2) If he doesn’t give you back the money, sit in the rickshaw and say you are not leaving (girls be careful of that though) and (3) Argue till he thinks you are a cheap bastard and gives you back the money (let it be if he thinks so, its my effing money you nincompoop!)

# And last but not the least, there are some wonderful drivers out there, some of the best people I have met in my life are rickshaw drivers and sometimes I have been mistaken for one also (the mean one though). If you find a truthful and efficient driver like that, do not hesitate to tip him slightly more than the meter as we all know circumstances make a man and his circumstance made him a rickshaw driver and you the passenger.

Thus goes my journey…its keeps on going. I haggle shamelessly, I fight without thinking, I try to save every penny and if needed give him more than what he could earn in a day. All said and done, I share a very special bond with the auto rickshaw...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A very special bottle of beer

I do not know how many among you had the opportunity to booze with your dad? Last night, for the first time in my life I had a beer with my dad. Now, I have seen my Dad drinking his usual peg many a time, I have talked to him about alcohol, grass and all possible intoxicants. My dad knows that I drink, he offered me a beer last Christmas when he poured himself a Black Label, but since I had an examination the next day I couldn’t accept it then. But yesterday it happened…I had a beer with my dad.

I was in Chennai doing a small South Indian city hopping trip and had come to Chennai to meet my dad who was down on official purpose. It was all good, met him, had some lunch, talked about Telangana and things back home and the usual son-father talk. By around 7 pm my uncle and his colleague, an Englishman joined us and my uncle pulled out some beer and some Indian brandy. My dad all of a sudden offered me a beer. For a minute I didn’t know what to do! A chilled beer on a hot Chennai evening is quite a tempting offer I must say. I stood like that for a minute, accepted the beer.
While sipping my beer there and enjoying the company of my family members and a stranger, I realised something, I had grown up and beyond that I understood my dad acknowledged I had grown up…

My dad is somebody who never even let me ride a bike or even let me pillion ride it till recently, but now when I approached him saying in a big city I need a bike, he gave me the go ahead after the initial no’s.

I have never owned or used a mobile till I reached HCU for my MA, it had been a strict no for me, but when I stepped into that campus, my dad gave him his own saying use it carefully.

He never gave me money in excess for me to squander, but when he went back to Trivandrum after dropping me in the University, he pulled out a sum, gave me, said the rest he’ll go home and deposit into my account and got into the car. When I counted how much it was after he left, it was 10k.

I have fought with my dad the maximum in my life for a multitude of things. For not letting me use a mobile, for not letting me go for a late night movie, for not letting me stay back for cheering the college basketball team, for not letting me ride or ride behind a bike and for a zillion other things…but now when I think, I am what I am because of what he didn’t let me do and for letting me what would help me in my life.

That gesture of offering a beer to me was very symbolic to me, it was as if he had accepted that I am on my own now, that I am capable of taking care of myself now. I go from Chennai a happy man, and when I say a ‘man’ this time, it holds a renewed feeling…that my dad, the man I admire the most in my life has acknowledged that I am a grown up guy now.

I had a beer, probably one of the best I have had till now...