Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Urinal Etiquette

[editor's note: Our tribute to Germany week continues with a helpful guide to urinal etiquette. Skeptical about what relation these two subjects have? Well Germans have been peeing for years, most noteably when they tried to pee all over Europe in WW2 and got the snot kicked out of them.]

Peeing in a men's bathroom is a lot like playing chess. The invention of urinals was done primarily for efficiency yet inadvertantly it also heralded the introduction of game-theory into peeing. This is my opinion and a fact, although 50% of the population has no clue what I'm talking about.

Incidently another side effect of urinals is a phenomena known only as "splash-back" which really needs no explanation. But I digress...

Usually when you pee your job is to try to avoid standing next to someone if possible. It's pretty clear why, because if there are 4 urinals and one is being used, it's sorta bizarro to use the one right next to another fellow pee-er. It's a little bit uncomfortable to say the least. Not to mention the fact that sometimes it's hard to pee when you are standing next to someone who is peeing a lot. It's sorta intimidating. Especially if it's really quiet in the bathroom.

So the point of picking a proper place to pee is to not only avoid standing next to others, but to also place yourself in a position where you avoid having the next person stand next to you. This is the game theory/strategy aspect of peeing. Occassionally people mess up this whole thing and as such I felt like it would be a good public service to go over proper urinal etiquette. For all the ladies in the hizzo, please let this be a chance to be in awe of how much stress males have to go through just to pee. Going to the bathroom isn't as simple as merely finding an open stall and entering...you gotta put some thought behind it.

So allow me to demonstate with several scenarios. In each case the first urinator is marked as the Green #1 dot, with the appropriate moves following as numbered...


Scenario #1: After the first urintator, the second guy may be tempted to go all the way to the right, but the fact of the matter is that most people just go two urinals over. The third guy's best choice is to stand between a wall and a pee-er as opposed to between two people.This is the Anti-Middle-Pee Postulate. Meanwhile the fourth guy has no choice, unless he can hold it.

Scenario #2: This one is pretty clear cut, after the first guy's bold move of standing in the middle, the second guy has no choice but to stand near the wall. According to the Anti-Middle-Pee Postulate the third guy should rationally choose to stand next to a wall. Again the fourth guy is screwed, figuratively speaking.

Scenario #3: Simply a mirror image of the second scenario

Scenario #4. This one is a bit bizarro because on the surface you're think it would play out like the first scenario, but I wanted to introduce an illogical move by our second urinator. By maximing the distance between himself and the first guy, he has inadvertantly messed up the Natural Order with the next two urinators. Basically for the third and fourth guy's it's a crap shoot over which urinals they choose. Although to be fair, if they had to shoot crap they'd probably just go into one of the stalls. Urinals are not meant to handle tatti.

Well there you have it. I hope this has been a good refresher course for you males and educational for the females. I think we can all agree that peeing is a serious issue indeed.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Goin' goin' back to back to Germany...

Round 2! Going back to Germany and this weekend's jaunt promises to be even more hectic than the last one two weeks ago:
  • 15 hours in a plane (roundtrip)
  • 400+ miles of driving
  • 2 games (Fri & Sat night)
  • only 48hrs in Germany
  • arrive Friday morn, back Sunday night..
  • watch Ukraine/Italy on Friday night (Hamburg)
  • watch England/Portugal on Saturday (Gelsinkirchen)
This isn't much of a fantastic post, but sometimes I get delusions that people wanna know what's going on in my life...

Monday, June 26, 2006

David Hasselhoff + Eskimo suits + Inexplicable flying motorcycles = Instant Classic

This may be the worst music video ever....yet it's so brilliant. It has an incredible ability of getting worse and worse, like a freight train falling off a cliff. It takes a beloved song "I Can't Stop This Feeling (which you may recall from the movie "Reservoir Dogs") and gives it a timeless makeover.

David Hasselhoff, we salute you.



On a sidenote, what an awesome idea for a Halloween costume, you can dress up with your friends as various incarnations of David Hasselhoff:
  • Knight Rider Hasselhoff
  • Baywatch Hasselhoff
  • Germany rockstar Hasselhoff

Sunday, June 25, 2006

DJ Shakes_2006-06-25 (Middle School)

http://hbshakes.blogspot.com
theme: Middle School mayhem

Okay, so after making it rain for the last 2 weeks because of my rainy day mix from before, this week I'll go with songs I used to love when I was in Middle School. These are the songs all the "urban" music stations played before they switched to basically all hip-hop in the early 90's (yes that means you Power 106 in LA and Hot 97 in NY). But what mix would be complete without a long, drawn out intro from yours truly. This week's edition comes in at a towering 3 minutes! What could be worth listening to for that long...god knows...and you will too after listening...

T R A C K L I S T I N G
(approx time 63min)
[0:00] Intro - Shakes bakwas/ Music History 101
[3:20] Ready for the World - Oh Sheila
[7:10] Tevin Campbell - Round and Round
[9:30] Expose - Come Go With Me
[13:36] The Jets - Crush On You
[17:39] Bobby Brown -Every Little Step
[21:23] Club Noveau - Lean On Me
[25:10] LL Cool J - I Need Love
[27:40] Nice & Wild - Diamond Girl
[31:19] Trinere - They're Playing Our Song
[34:08] Will To Power - Dreamin
[37:50] Al B. Sure - Night and Day
[41:35] New Edition - A Little Bit Of Love (Is All It Takes)
[45:26] Expose - Let Me Be The One
[49:30] Connie - Funky Little Beat
[53:23] Noel - Silent Morning
[57:35] U2 - A Sort of Homecoming


...of course I couldn't resist putting in U2 at the end. As far as the beginning part, I just how much of a music chauvanist I am more than anything. But I just wanted to point how Nina Sky's "Move You Body" has a mini tribute to Lisa Lisa & The Cult Jam's gem from 1985, "Can You Feel The Beat." Likewise Afrika Bambaataa "Planet Rock" has it's main synthesizer line lifted from German electronica minimalists Kraftwerk.

DIRECTIONS: Right mouse click on the tracklisting above to save the entire mix (mp3) directly or Podcast Me! Simply drag the orange podcast icon on the top left of this page into your iTunes. Or:
  1. goto iTunes
  2. click on Advanced
  3. click on Subscribe to Podcast:
  4. paste this URL http://feeds.feedburner.com/EngineEngine9

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Things I Hate #126: Don't talk to me during my morning commute

There are few moments in my day which I consider sacred; moments that I don't want to be disturbed. Oddly enough all of these three moments occur in the morning, within about an hour of each other:

1) thinking/singing in the shower
2) the first 10 minutes in the morning that I sit at work
3) my commute to work

I ordered the three based on the ease of preserving serenity. The first two can almost be fully determined by my actions alone. The shower is easy since no one has ever been in there with me, and if there was someone I would imagine that I probably wouldn't mind. As far as #2, please let me sit in peace when I get into work. Let me check my email and get myself sorted out before diving into work. But that being said peace and quiet at work can be managed by simply showing up early to work. But #3 that's a hard one.

But if there's one thing I can't stand it's unwanted people seeing me on the train in the morning commute to work and talking incessantly during my beloved music listening time. Furthermore some people insist on talking about work, often times the same people who think that work elevators make excellent impromptu meeting spots ("Things I Hate #125: Elevator Chatter," 3/8/06).

For the love of god, if you see me on a train with my headphones on or trying to get an extra 10minutes of sleep while standing up and slouched against the train door, please let me be. I look like a mess for a reason. It's all a part of the master plan. Don't disturb a genius....All of which brings me to my neighbor. My Indian neighbor unfortunately leaves for work the same time I do and takes the same train. It has come to the point that I sprint out my front door and take the stairs, if i think he's leaving for work at th sametime the elevator, in the hopes of avoiding contact.

Extreme? Maybe. Necessary? Well, I'll let you be the judge For some reason, the sight of a sleep-deprived Indian, who is quite dashing may I add, is a sign to this foolio desi neighbor that I want to spend the next 30 minutes of my lifetalking about the state of finance markets and receiving an update on his baby girl's growth. This, by the way, is the same baby who was told by satan-mother to call me "uncle," which you'll recall I mentioned last week. This is an evil evil family. Bakri chods. Any proper human knows that every minute wasted in the morning is equivalent to 2 minutes at night time.... much the same way that the joy of an extra 10 minutes of sleep in the morning is only matched by sleeping an hour earlier at night time. All time is not equal. Therefore 30 minute discussion with bakri chod neighbor is akin to wasting over 7.5 normal hours.

That being said, little do they know but I already have started taking my revenge on them. Let's just say that I'm very much aware of the fact that they take a walk along the waterfront every night with their baby stroller. I'm not saying anything but a certain someone (hint hint, nudge nudge) has spotted them within the firing range of his/my Super Soaker and has, as we say in the biz, "made it rain."

Creedence Clearwater Revival once asked "I wannaaa know, have you ever seen the rain," and the answer in this case is a resounding yes, it happens nightly in front of the 5th floor of a certain apartment building.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Spot the Desi: #4 - International Edition!

Ladies & gentlemen we're back again for another exciting episode of America's fastest new gaming craze, Spot the Desi!..the International Edition... from Frankfurt Main International Airport to be exact. (I took them while waiting for my flight). I know it's been a long time since our last edition, but I'm sure you can get your desar's all fired up.

This time I'm also going to include not 1 but 2 pictures. Also unlike previous episodes, we're going to up the ante a little because it's harder than our previous ones. Okay on with the show!

PICTURE #1















This one is the easier of the two pics and some of the hints that this is a POHIP (Place Of High Indian Probability) are not noticeable from the picture alone, but hey all gameshows are not fair.

Let's point out the obvious signs:
1) there is a crying baby
2) unbeknownst to you, they have a laptop playing an Indian movie at full blast at the waiting area by the gate
3) the mother (pictured on the left) is constantly yelling at the husband for no apparent reason


PICTURE #2














This one is ridiculous. I know people everywhere, especially Germany, have World Cup fever, but dressing up like a 3rd division servant player is nonsense. Here's how we know this is a desi:

1) shorts that go well above the knees (mid-thigh actually) are being worn
2) socks are hiked up as high as they can go, much like former Laker great A.C. Green.
3) What you don't get to see in this picture, but could've observed from afar was that the Indian guy was actually posing for some reason....lemme show you below. Okay I know it's blurry but the picture tot he right is hysterical.
You can see him sticking his leg out in front and slightly bending it, akin to how a starving wannabe model waitress at the Coffee Shop in Union Square would.

An even more hysterical sight would be a picture of some random Indian kid spending 5 minutes to try and take the perfect picture of a weird Indian uncle-type person at a German airport.... oh wait, that would be me taking the picture. Nevermind....

OK! How did you score? If you got one of them wrong do not worry, these were a bit tricky. Just brush up on your skills by hanging out at your local New Jersey, practice a lil, and try again. I know you can do it. If Yan can do it, so can you.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Back from Germany...

[editor's note: the following post is neither very humorous nor poignant, please feel free to skip]

As you can tell I'm back from my World Cup weekend (part 1, anyways) and the overall theme was one of pure emotional and physical exhaustion. By halftime I felt like I had aged several years.

The game was held in Kaiserslautern, about 130km from Frankfurt, and is home to a large US military base. What's kinda weird was listening to Armed Forces Radio or "the Eagle," where their motto is "Music to fight for!" I guess the even weirder part was the fact that apparently Avril Lavigne's music is fight worthy.

While I was there for only about 50 hours, there were still parts which stood for me, in no particular order:
  • Driving on the Autobahn is fantastic, especially the joy of going 100mph and legally passing up a cop (or rather polizei)
  • Germans can be fantastically unhelpful especially when it comes to watching two Americans struggle to figure out how to buy subways tickets (which oddly enough no one ever checks)
  • In case you ever find yourself in a European country and don't know the local language and they don't know English, the next best language to know is Hindi. There ALWAYS seems to be some random Indian dudes around. This was true in Paris, and it was true in Frankfurt
  • Everyone should get the experience of singing their national anthem (whatever it may be on foreign soil with other countrymen). Listening to the American anthem before the start of the game and singing it with the other U.S. fans got me teary-eyed and nearly crying
  • There is something weirdly nice about seeing Americans whenever you travel abroad...the problem is that more often than not, it's the lame Americans that you end up seeing
  • Babies should not be allowed on planes, especially international flights (or as they would say in German, flugs)
  • Watching Spongebob Squarepants dubbed in German is both disturbing and scary
  • German words are unnecessarily long and ridiculous
  • German TV is like watching Cinemax, 24/7
  • Some Germans still seem oddly touchy about "losing that whole WWII thing"


I'm rich biatch! (my ticket, which I could've easily sold for over 1000 Euros, outside the stadium)







In Frankfurt they had giant screens set up in the river where you could watch the games on both sides of the river banks







Our hero (me), wearing a Holland soccer shirt outside of Konstablerwache station in downtown Frankfurt. Please note that I'm proudly representing my roots by rocking my L.A. Dodgers hat






Dad & I, sharing a beer outside the stadium in Kaiserslautern








It's 2am, you're in Germany, and you've only had about 5 hours of sleep in the last 2 days, and you haven't eaten in 8 hours, where do you go? That's right, McDonalds...

It's a celebration, enjoy yourselves.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

my Mastercard commercial


Kaiserslautern, Germany. Saturday night (6/17/06)

Airline ticket to Germany: $800
Hotel, car rental, & game tickets: $1400
Going to the World Cup with my dad to watch the U.S bravely tie Italy: Priceless

Friday, June 16, 2006

On my way to the World Cup (onboard flight LH#483)

Hooray for Lufthansa's in-flight wireless access! While my horrible passenger-mates are sleeping away I can type, how sweet. As a quick preview before I make my usual nonsense commentary, this is the gameplan:
  • Friday: land at like 11am in Frankfurt, meet dad who's landed an hour earlier from his flight from LA
  • Saturday: drive to Kaiserslautern (~2hrs) to watch the US/Italy game which the Americans have to win to keep their hopes alive
  • Sunday: fly back to NY
Okay, you're all caught up. Pictures and whatnot will surely follow. I must say, aside from my usual rant about how children should be banned from all civil aviation, passengers can be quiiiite strange indeed. The more I travel the more I feel that I think the people who seem normal are actually the most dangerous people to sit next to... not from a security perspective, but rather from a personal sanity point of view. When you get people who are outwardly weird at least you know what to expect and can begin to defend yourself. When you get seemingly normal people, who knows?

It's funny what happens when you sit down on planes in different parts of the world. I feel that when you're on international flights to Europe people will tend to introduce themselves briefly and explain to you the purpose for their travel. It's sorta like a mission statement. "Hello, I am [fill in the blank] and I'm going to [destination], why are you going?" Usually it's quite cordial. Domestic flight in the US are a lil different, usually there's no talking unless you're traveling on a budget airlines (e.g. Southwest... simply a different breed of traveler) or traveling to the West Coast.

With Indian flights it can go two ways: If you're sitting next to an auntie she'll just smile at you to the point of it being uncomforatble; if it's an uncle he'll stare at you. To be fair, more often than not that's what uncles-types do whether you're in a plane or not: they stare. The best part about the uncle stare is that they don't try to act coy or hide it. They just stare in a very obvious way. For the sake of completeness there is the chance that you could sit next to an Indian grandparent, in which case they will be totally oblivious to the world around them and devoid of common courtesy, such as cutting you off while you try to get off the plane or stopping in the middle of the aisle and randomly yelling to someone across the planes. For all Indian elders, the the amount of proper plane etiquette displayed is inversely proportional to the geographic proximity to India. Once you get to India, all manners are thrown out the window (have you seen everyone actually wait for the fasten seatbelt light to go off before they jump up to take their bags out of the overhead bin?) Of course I could go on and on about how Indians stare, but then again I already have... ("The Desi Stare of Death, 4/22/06)

In my case I'm currently sitting next to this sweet lady who initially greeted my be saying that she is allegedly visiting her daughter in Germany. Ok, this sounds plausible enough. If you're thinking what I'm thinking it's "Well she sounds sane, hopefully it means we won't have to talk for the next 7hours and perhaps I can get full usage of the armrest that we share between us.

No such luck my friends. So far she has told me how her daughter is only in Germany because her "significant other" is German and that she is only there to learn the language. Meanwhile this lady's husband sorta thinks the German boyfriend is okay which "if you know my husband that means the boy must really be an angel, we like the boy and we get along with him." Somehow my attempts of reading Lufthansa's dutyfree catalog are being thwarted by The Constant Babbler. I wanted to tell her "no I don't know your husband" and then proceed to beat the slap out of her, but I refrained. I'm good like that. Oh by the way, in case you're interested, The Babbler is continuing onwards to Sweden after a week in Deutschland ("this time for work, not pleasure!").

Any so those are my thoughts for now. Read this, digest it, take notes, and then re-read. But above all remember, if all the world is a stage, I'm a good actor.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I got Unk'd

In the World of Desis, every elder person is regarded as being an uncle or an auntie. The term of course is used loosely because contary to popular belief, all Indians are not related. That being said, I would be willing to concede that there are probably only two degrees of separation between all brown people. Care to disagree? Well how many times have your parents introduced you to some random person and was like "this is Kiran Uncle, his brother and I were in 7th standard together and his cousin Pooja Auntie lived across the street from us."

But I digress... The fact of the matter is that being called an "uncle" by non-relatives basically conjures up the image of random old people. Uncles and aunts, by definition are people you're supposed to make fun of. (for the record, I know it's bad grammar to end a sentence with a preposition, but the point of my blog is to write in a nice easy-speak manner, something that connects with middle American...or middle India, which geographically speaking would technically be Madhya Pradesh). It is the duty of all kids to label the random uncles that they meet with some incredibly judgmental and partially untrue character generalizations. For instance, how familiar does this hypothetical conversation sound:
Parental Unit: Come on get ready, we're going to Pradeep Uncle's home.
Innocent Desi Kid: Pradeep Uncle? Their place is so boring, plus he always burps whenever he eats chicken.
Parental Unit: (pretending to ignore those comments) ...don't wear your short-pants, try to look decent, and don't wear those big jeans of yours, you look very shabby with them.
Innocent Desi Kid: I think Pradeep Uncle is a racist too. He once said he doesn't like Mexicans
Aunties usually don't have broad generalizations attached to them because most interactions with them is limited. Usually when you go over to another Indian person's house the mom's gather in the kitchen or the family room to watch old movies. Every kid knows not to enter these two zones alone. If they do, they will get flooded with questions about school and their personal well-being.

The Uncles on the other hand gather in the living room and discuss a wide range topics. Although the categories are diverse, they are indeed the same ones discussed at every Desi Gathering. It's like watching re-runs of Jeopardy. Every week the contestants are the same and so are the categories. More or less they boil down to this:
  1. Problems regarding Indian bureaucracy
  2. Indian Cricketing triumphs! : 1955-1970
  3. American Presidents: 1988-Present
  4. Childhood stories revolving around kite festivals
  5. Hindu/Muslim relations: A retrospective
All of these conversations take place over a card game of Bridge. The rules of engagement are simple: there must be organized disagreement for at least 5 hours, where no one person is allowed to state their entire point of view without being interrupted. This, in the Uncle World, is considered a fun Saturday night.

While the aunts actually care about a child's emotional health, the uncles' main motivation for interaction with kids is profit. "Sooo, I hear you a now playing THE basketball, would you need an agent if you go professional in the N.B. of A?."

Well this is the nature of things in the Indian world with regards to uncles and aunts, and sometimes you feel like things will never change. I too was foolish about this matter until this past weekend. I was locking my front door, minding my own business when I had a rare encounter with my next door neighbor and her adoreable baby girl. I of course said "helloooo" (with multiple "o's") and the mom-person said "Hi, how are you?"

Just when I was about to answer the mom looked at the baby and said the U-word. It's as if my world was closing in around me. The walls were crumbling, the sky ripped open, and the devil could be seen riding on the fiery wings of Mercury... she looked at her baby and said "Say hello to uncle! Say hello to uncle!"

I was labeled an Uncle. For the first time in my life I had been Uncle-fied. It was awful. Suddenly the sunny day seemed sunny no more. I felt the sudden need to only wear brown pants and reject any love for going to the mall for fun. Soon I would stop wearing short-pants altogether. It was like watching Teen-Wolf, when Michael J Fox suddenly starts transforming in front of our eyes for the first time. Only this was worse, far worse. I was Unk'd.

I wonder what my stereotyped idiosyncracies will be according to kids. I wonder what my views on Indian bureaucracy will be. I wonder if I will still like Mexicans. Will I start dismissing all music with a beat as simply being "noise"? I simply don't know, but what I do know is this: there's no going back. As Maya Angelou said, "I know why the caged bird sings, I know why the caged birds sings."

Monday, June 12, 2006

"I can see clearly now the rain has gone..."



...I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It's going to be a bright, bright sunshiny day

I think I can make it now the pain has gone
And all of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I've been praying for
It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day

Look all around there's nothing but blue skies
Look straight ahead nothing but blue skies

I think I can make it now the pain has gone
And all of the bad feelings have disappeared
I can see clearly now the rain has gone
It's gonna be a bright, bright Sunshiny day

* Johnny Nash, "I Can See Clearly Now" (1972)

Interestingly enough, this is actually a reggae song...years of hearing it on the oldies radio station probably has clouded this observation on your part. In addition, for the love of god, Nash does NOT say "I can see clearly know Lorraine is gone...." When the rains from this past weekend finally stopped here in the city, this song was the first one on my mind.... plus it's the closing credit music to the movie "The Break-Up."

Sunday, June 11, 2006

the most ridiculous Simpsons episode ever...

I won't go into great length describing the episode (Homer goes to Bangalore to work with outsourced nuclear plant workers) but I'll just say it ends with Homer of doing the unthinkable: giving Indians workers standard Western job benefits and everything culminates with an old Bollywood dancer number. I have no witty comeback or remarks, I'll just say it was ingenious.

It actually first aired in April. For the record, the song is an old Kishore Kumar number, "Pal Bhar Liye" from the epic classic, Johnny Mera Naam (1970).

tatti, the poor man's Louvre, & eating in the city

In my continued quest to provide people information on places to find easy to access bathroom in the city, the new Apple store passes with flying colors. Located at 58th & 5th the stunning glass cube looks like a poor man's Louvre.

But not only is it easy to access and clean, but it's open 24 hours a day! Brilliant! Let's say it's Wednesday night, around 2am and
you're looking to get an iPod....blammo, now your dreams can be fulfilled!.... or more importantly you can at least find a bathroom without having to go to Central Park and finding a vacant bush or hobo to pee on.

Speaking of random places to goto the bathroom, one of the most annoying things to figure out when you go out is finding a good restaurant near train stations when you're meeting up with people. Alas fret no more, my friend Whit has found a brilliant link to solve these probs. At a link called Taste of Subway you just select your train line and the train stop and it will give you nearby restaurant picks.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Gooooooooooool

As everyone and their mom knows, the World Cup has started and highly increased (but focused, mind you) TV viewing has begun for the next month. While it's fantastic that all the games are available in High Def, one of the most annoying things is the sound. I'm not talking about the sound quality, I'm talking about our American announcers. They're absolute crap.

If you've ever watched any international game before with English announcers it's waaaaay better than listening to some of the random dudes they put on ABC or ESPN. It's awful. Truth be told there are some decent ones I think, but the powers-that-be seem to favor the most tatti announcers on the important games (or at least the US ones). I am going to vomit if I have to listen to former US defender Marcelo Balboa any more. He has mastered the art of saying the same 3 sentences over and over again for 90minutes.

During the England/Paraguay game the play-by-play man re-christened the beloved David Beckham as "Dave Becket" for a period of time and said that his main claim to fame was having a movie named after his kicks. Meanwhile Balboa criticized Becksfor failing to live up to his potential and that he's not being one of the best players in the world... only to say 30 minutes later after a Becks cross "that's what you expect from the best player in the world." You gotta be kidding me. That's just nonsense.

While I guess I could just put the TV on mute the fact is that you still want to hear the crowd and the background noise. The only solution is one my cousin has done, which is to just put on the Spanish channel (Telemundo! home to the longest running TV show without a repeat, "Sabado Gigante!" or literally translated, Big Saturday). At least the Spanish announcers get excited. So basically my cousin prefers to hear announcers she doesn't understand for their unintelligible screams versus an English speaking group of bozos.

Oh well, in 6 days I won't need to watch the game on TV to see it, and do not worry you shall get to read all about it...

As quick sidenote, in my humble opinion, JP Dellacamera & former US star John Harkes are the best commentating duo for American TV.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Sidewalk Whores

Rain sucks, and you don't need me to say it in order to believe it unquestionably. But what sucks even more are people who don't practice proper umbrella etiquette. This just pisses me off. My primary source of hatred are people who use their large golf umbrellas for normal day-to-day use. Newsflash, I know the narrow streets feel refreshing to walk down but I think it's a bit difficult to mistake it for a large green meadow.

Big umbrellas are the primary cause of the next problem: bakri chods who use their umbrella like a weapon and smack other umbrellas or faces without any regard. It's like they think they're in a deleted scene from Gladiator. Moreover I feel like the one guy who got his face smashed in by a club the second he stepped onto the arena floor.

Hmm, at this point I don't have a real cute summary line or anything because if I did then I wouldn't be complaining about it. So you just be quiet.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Beyonce & Indian identity issues

Was it not the great poet Beyonce who once made the timeless request "Say my name, say my name" ? While it seems like an easy enough request to answer, I guess the philosopher/rapper DMX would swiftly reply "What's my name ?" (with dog barking in the background).

When it comes to Indian kids the fact is that we usually end up with 4 different names by the time we're 18. In order they are:

1. our actual name (e.g. Sanjay, pronounced "Sun-jay")
2. an easy to say nickname that follows a "normal American" name (e.g. Jay!)
3. the Indian nickname (e.g. Sanj)
4. an Anglo-sized full name prounciation of #1 (e.g. San-Jaaay)


The actual name (#1) is of course what our parents properly called us as we were growing up. However somewhere around high school people stop getting teased over funny names and an easier labeling is used. In this case it's just "Jay." (#2) Of course no one in Sanjay's family really uses this nickname. It only exists outside of the household.

Relatives and other Indians resorts to the desi-er nickname of "Sanj."(#3) Finally when you get to college your forward thinking, liberal-minded, progressive, and ethnically-conscious friends try to use your full name. Only they don't actually prounce your name as your parents do. Instead it gets a slight tweaking, e.g. San-Jaaay. (#4) I can almost hear it in my head of the typical screams that you hear in a college dorm hallway, where some girl is yelling "Does anyone know where San-Jaaaaay is?" Also in college friends start using the childhood ethnic nickname with great success. (e.g. Sanj).

Now it would be easy for me to end my note here and let you ponder the merits of this observation. But at this point in time a curious development occurs which almost every Indian kid is confronted with and I would argue accepts. As we get older and we meet new people and they ask our names, we immediately respond with the Anglo-sized version of our names. This is incredible for a one simple reason: When you are younger it may be a necessity because you don't wanna be overly teased, but when you are older you're arguably in the presence of more mature people. Why do you accept the Anglo version? What's going on?

The answer of course is rather simple, it's easier for people to understand and pronounce. But what's odder is the underlying truth, frankly at some point you get to an age where it's actually a little bit weird to hear your name pronounced "properly" by Others....and if I may indulge for a second and go the extra semi-racist step, by "Others" I mean people not Indian.

Now if you're a non-desi reading this, hear me out. Do not get offended because this curious identity factoid of "the Other" is a lot more benign than it sounds at first. When I'm around Indian people or in India, I expect my name to be enthno-sized (or is it really spelled "ethno-cized"?) and have the proper pronounciation. But the fact is that I've heard the Anglo version of my name for so frequently that I actually identify myself with it.

The proper pronounciation of my name Shekhar stresses the second syllable "khar" a tad bit more than the first syllable. But the reality is that I've just said my name as "Shaker" long enough to identify with it. I actually think it's a bit odd to hear the ethnic-pronounciation from unexpected sources. Case and point, I'm not sure if anyone has said my brother's full name in the last 20 years.

Confused yet? Okay well this all takes one more twist.

While I identify with the "Shaker" pronounciation of my name and prefer hearing it in general, deep down I do like it when I hear my name said like the way my mom says it. So if you read this far I'm sure I've done one of two things, either (A) thoroughly confused everyone or (B) hopefully been able to put into words something which I've observed in my own life that others have experienced. I've never really put this thought into words, but the seeds of it began the first time I went to an Indian club meeting in college and everyone introduced themselves by their Anglo-sized pronounciations as opposed to their "proper" prounounciations... even though they were in a group of their ethnic peers.

Now the reality is that I could just be imposing my own feelings and observations upon all Indian kids in general, but I think I'm onto something. The important exception to all this includes the random kids who rediscover all their ethnic roots in college and go off the deep end a little in reconstructing their own identity. For the lack of a better word, I tend to consider them as desi-nazi's.

So in summary, if you're going to call me by my full name, call me "Shaker" because that's what I prefer... except when it's "Shekhar"....

Ain't the question of identity a real biaatch?

Monday, June 5, 2006

Dumb Parents, Satan, & Shoes

There are a lot of stupid parents out there. While walking through the Short Hills mall, the elitist mall in Summit, NJ, I was walking by this lady who started yelling at one of her kids, "stop playing against your brother and start playing with each other." WTF. This is the dumbest thing I've ever heard, and I've heard a lot of dumb things. Many of which I've said. What's the point of playing if you're not playing against someone? There must be winners and losers. That is how fun is created.

Later on in my travels (on the second floor) some lady was yelling at her kid "Arial stop crying!" First of all, no child should be named after an animated mermaid. No one. That's just a poor judgment call. People should be shot for that kind of unprofessional adolescent nomenclature. Furthermore, how is yelling at your baby going to make "it" stop crying? If anything it becomes a more traumatic experience. Now striking a child, that's a different issue...

That being said, if there's one thing I've learned over my 28+ years of life, it's that all children are filled with a small portion of Satan inside of them. Sure this sounds a bit harsh, but it's true. I know what you're thinking, "Shakes your commentary is usually so brilliant and your style of writing is like Picasso on a canvas, but how can you say something so mean about kids? They're precious." Oh yeah? Well have you ever seen kids at a shoe store? It's like trying to tame a horde of vulchers who have just spotted a dead dear carcass on the Serengeti. They're animals I tell you. Animals. In every shoes department the same ritual is taking place right now: some snot-nosed kid doesn't wanna try on shoes their moms like, moms yell, the kids yell back, and the dads just walk away. I should know, I used to be a kid several weeks, if not years, ago. Whenever I went shoe shopping and I got to the pair I liked, I always made some highly unscientific marketing claim to my mom, such as "mooooom I can run faster in these shoes."

I only got one pair of shoes every year or so, and being from an Indian family I quickly learned that while every new school year meant new clothes for the other kids, it didn't really mean that for me. I sorta wore shoes until they got worn out or outgrown. Of course for the most part the shoes weren't name brand, but rather from the designer section of Payless. This would be pretty much the case until middle school. The culmination of my coolness was freshmen year in high school when I got my first pair of high tops.... white LA Gear's. I looked just like Zach Morris from the ankles down.

The funny thing is that in some ways I think I'm gonna do the same thing with my kids. I ain't gonna buy them $100 shoes when they're like in 7th grade...otherwise kids take it for granted. Don't forget my supposition at the beginning of this whole tirade, kids are mildly satanic. As they get older their devil-like composition amortizes away revealing them to be their true selves: either nice people or bastards.

Anyone who knows me now knows that I absolutely love getting new sneakers and it mainly stems from being denied the shoes I wanted as a kid. For once I don't have to hear "but you already haaaave shoes Shekhar." No one can stop me now nardopants. No one.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

DJ Shakes_2006-06-04 (rainy day)

http://hbshakes.blogspot.com
theme: Rainy Day

We're back for another week! Okay I was going to play something a bit more upbeat but the fact that it's been raining all weekend made me do this rainy day mix. I dedicate this mix to all the poor Indian kids who are going to be forced by their parents to compete in next year's spelling bee and spend like 10+ hours a day learning irrelevant words.

T R A C K L I S T I N G
(approx time 67:44)
[0:00] Intro - Shakes
[1:17] Intropol - Untitled
[5:06] U2 - Acrobat
[9:08] Keren Ann - Greatest You Can Find
[13:13] Nick Drake - Pink Moon
[15:04] DJ Shadow - Midnight In A Perfect World
[19:40] Moby - In My Heart
[23:38] Talvin Singh - It's Not Over
[28:40] Bloc Party - So Here We Are
[32:19] Vast - Don't Take Your Love Away
[37:08] The Shins - Weird Divide
[38:58] Wilco - I Am Trying To Break Your Heart
[42:55] Amon Tobin - Deo
[48:11] (Indian) Pakeezah - Chalte
[52:07] (Indian) 1942 A Love Story - Ek Ladki Ko Dekha
[56:15] Radiohead - Street Spirit (Fade Out)
[60:25] Talvin Singh - Soni
[64:05] Outro - Me & the spelling bee.
[64:45] (happy happy joy joy song) Gnarls Barkley - Crazy


Hopefully this wasn't too depressing. On a sidenote I think the award for the most random lyrics in this mix goes to Wilco, who open up their song with the line "I am an American aquarium drinker."

DIRECTIONS: Right mouse click on the tracklisting above to save the entire mix (mp3) directly or Podcast Me! Simply drag the orange podcast icon on the top left of this page into your iTunes. Or:
  1. goto iTunes
  2. click on Advanced
  3. click on Subscribe to Podcast:
  4. paste this URL http://feeds.feedburner.com/EngineEngine9

Saturday, June 3, 2006

New York smells like wet dog...

... the past two days because of the rain. And as such there is no better way to spend a rainy day than to watch a movie and go record shopping.


@Fat Beats, NYC (8th Street & 6th Ave)

cellphone etiquette

Here's something which pisses me off. I absolutely abhor the cellphone behavior that most people exhibit. I think there is nothing ruder and more annoying than having someone consistently text message while you're with them. It's like you're basically saying I'd rather be with someone else who is not here than with the person who is actually with me. Although now that I think about this, maybe it's just me...

That being said, there are of course important exceptions. Everyone gets the random phone call or text message and as such it's okay to respond, but people forget that they're not obligated to respond instantaneously to everyone. It's okay to let your voicemail take your calls sometimes. That's why it's there for. Likewise if you're in a large group, by definition it's a less intimate affair and hence increased virtual interaction is acceptable.

There I said it. I said it not because you wanted to hear it but rather because it needed to be said. I too am guilty of this, but I think I'm at least cognizant of it. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, all etiquette gets thrown out the window if the other people in the room are your parents or elders. I mean come on we're hanging out with them, what more do they want, a totally captive audience? Wasn't t that the reason our forefathers fought against colonialism?

Oh yeah, by the way here's another idea sports fans, if you're looking to feel miserable and watch a movie where parts of it hit too close to home, watch The Breakup.

Friday, June 2, 2006

Bombay, 2006.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Blackberry envy

One thing is very clear to me from having been in NY for a few years now, there always seems to be somebody within arms length distance. And as such everyone can see what everyone else is doing. The best example of course is riding on the train. While you may think that you're the only one reading your magazine, everyone else around you is discreetly reading along as well. Haven't you ever held back from turning the page of your newspaper too quickly because you know others are still reading it? That being said the close proximity enables you to show off things to other people, like your iPod, your phone, etc...

But the one thing which is a attention getter for all business people is BlackBerry envy. The issue is not whether you have one or not, but rather what model. Do you have a color screen...sheesh that's sooo yesterday. Are you just getting your blue BlackBlackberry (or affectionately called a BlueBerry)? Geez, get with the program. I mean really, if you only have a BlueBerry than I'd be shocked if you had indoor plumbing.

I swear to you, this is the mentality that people have going on in the back of their heads. You almost feel like you can judge the importance of people based on their BBerry models. Go figure. This is mostly a male trait and as such it is rather easy for me to rationalize. Males have far fewer ways to express themselves with personal ornamentations. I mean in most normal settings we don't wear earrings, we don't have necklaces, and we don't have purses. What is left? Well watches and cufflinks are a starter, but after that it's a huge void.

So we're prety much left with cellphones small gizmos. Enter the BBerry. Functional yet highly sexy. There's a reason that we always whip out our BBerry's in crowded rooms on weeknights. It's not because we're expecting some urgent email, but rather it just feels cool. Blammo. It's like you're telling people "hey there sweet thang, at any given point in time someone may need me and they can do so via my sexy electro friend."