Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sometimes I get weird urges. For example when I see rental signs in London, which literally say "To Let," I get the urge to add an "i" in the middle and make all the available spaces a toilet.

Before.....















....and after

Sunday, July 29, 2007

greetings from eng-ur-land and lovely Heathrow Airport...

One of the nice things about traveling is learning that dealing with call centers can be just as painful as it is back home. The reason for this obvious... you're dealing with the same call centers in Bangalore. Well that would make for a boring post if everything was reduced to it rational causes. As we all know it's much funner to act ignorant and ironically poke fun at other people's stupidity. That is the nature of my humor. That pretty sums up who I am.

But I digress.

For whatever reason my AT&T/Cingular/Shitty service doesn't get international roaming, or rather it's not working. It's not the phone, since it works here, but it's the service. So being logical and rational I figure I should contact the customer service people through their chat window thingy online....this is my conversation

[Charles - A representative has joined the session.]

Charles: Thank you for visiting myWireless at ATT.com/wireless. My name is Charles.

Shekhar: hi "Charles"

Charles: How may I help you?

Shekhar: i'm currently in London and when i left i had everything on my account setup to make call internationally and to have my phone work here, and it doesn't...

Shekhar: my phone supports everything (i've used the same one with a t-mobile account before) and i was assured it would work...

Charles: I apologize but you will have to call Customer Service at 001 916 843 4685 (an international, free call from your wireless device) for assistance with that.

Shekhar: yeah but i don't have access to a phone

Shekhar: ...because i'm not able to use mine and there isn't one here....

Charles: I'm sorry but that is the department you would need to speak with.

Shekhar: wait, am I missing something, aren’t you supposed to be customer service?

Charles: yes

Shekhar: uhhh...so what do i do?

Charles: Call that number when you get to a phone.

Charles: Is there any way I can further assist you today?

Shekhar: well to be honest it’s sorta hard for you to further assist me when you haven’t really helped me yet

Charles: We are always working to improve the AT&T Click to Chat customer service experience. To help us with this effort, please take our short survey. We appreciate and review your feedback; however, we are unable to respond to questions submitted in this survey. If you have an issue that requires assistance, please call Customer Service at 1-800-331-0500.

Shekhar: let me ask you a question, do you really want me to fill out a survey of my service experience?

Charles: Thank you for visiting myWireless at ATT.com/wireless.

[Charles - user has closed this session]

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

straight stories: relationships with other guys

I'm a rather straight guy. I mean with the exception of a small affinity for pink belts and shirt, I think everyone who knows me would agree. I mean I like girls. I like trucks. I like steak. And you know, I can comfortable say that Rock Hudson was a pretty good looking dude back in his day, regardless of what his orientation was.

All of these facts are helpful in my books to setup the story of my Friday evening. While sitting alone at a hookah bar (Horus, on 10th and Ave A) I noticed a guy meeting two people who were already seated. The late arriving guy (Indian...clearly on I.S.T.) immediately started talking about sneakers and places to get a new pair of Adidas's that were hard to find.. In an instant my heart raced to hear about a person having a sneaker fetish like I do. I mean I guess I knew other people had it, I mean Turtle on "Entourage" does along with a ton of Japanese people, but I'm pretty sure they're not real people. The Indian guy was wearing like a cool track jacket and started talking about music and stuff.

In a span of 4-5 minutes all I could think about was: (1) I want to get to know this guy! and (2) How do I go about doing this? I had a man crush. I had stumbled upon the age-old question of how do guys make friends with other guys without appearing...well....gay? It sounds dumb but there really is no good way to make friends with strangers. Unless the guy is a friend of a friend, there is always going to be some underlying weirdness.

I ended up spending the next 20 minutes thinking of what random things I could say to join their conversation in a manner that would make it seem natural for a random person 20 feet away (me) to approach three strangers. Alas I couldn't. This whole thing struck me as odd.

So there I was, a straight male flustered over not being able to meet guys. I just wanted someone I could talk about shoes and clothes with. But I guess that's too much to ask for.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

DJ Shakes_2007-07-22 (eclectic)

http://hbshakes.blogspot.com
theme: eclectic

Sorry for the long delay, this mix has a little bit of everything. My personal new fave is "Zorastrian Star" by Fusing Naked Beats (at 11:15 of the mix). In my humble opinion it's probably one of the best Asian underground tracks in a long while. For those of you keeping score at home Zorastrians are followers of the Iranian prophet Zorasthurstra. Who would've thunk?

Anyhoo enjoy the mix!

T R A C K L I S T I N G (approx 61min)

[0:00] Me - Awww yeah
[0:00]
David Holmes - Soul Town (from "Oceans 13")
[1:53] Young MC - Know How

[3:57] Common - The Game

[7:07] Blue Boy - Remember Me
[11:15] Fusing Naked Beats - Zorastrian Star (feat. Unnati)
[14:39] Bollywood: "Chahoonga Mai Tujhe Sanjh Savere" from Dosti (1964)
[17:10] Karsh Kale - Free Fall (Jayant's Remix)
[23:22] Underworld - Rez
[26:59] Cut Chemist - Spoon
[30:34] Beastie Boys - Pass The Mic
[32:16] Brother Ali - Take Me Home
[36:56] Cornelius Brothers - Too Late To Turn Back Now
[39:51] Tori Amos - Cornflake Girl
[42:01] Amy Winehouse - Love Is A Losing Game
[44:26] Junior M.A.F.I.A. - Get Money
[48:39] Jef Stott - Funky Nawari (Drumspyder's Midnight Snack Wrap Up Mix)
[53:35] Chemical Brothers - A Modern Midnight Conversation
[56:06] Interpol - The Lighthouse


I chose songs that have a weird thread of connection between them. For example the Karsh track had a similar noise that rings through to Underworld's "Rez." Also when I first heard Cut Chemist's "Spoon" I felt like I had heard it before...hopefully you see the connection with the middle verse and beat in the old Beastie Boys classic "Pass the Mic."

The whole mix end on the uber dark Interpol track which seemed oddly fitting. I dunno if the Chemical Brothers track before it works super well, but I like it and that's good enough for me.

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

If the link doesn't work, just message me and I'll upload the file again.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

If I ever got books on tape I would get a coloring book.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

the shitty Showcase Showdown prize package on "The Price Is Right"

When I was a kid my favorite TV show was The Price Is Right. TPIR rocked on so many levels. I loved the games, I loved girls, and most of all I loved Bob Barker. He's sorta like the Hugh Hefner of game shows. Let's just say that Wink Martindale (remember Tic Tac Dough?) was never quite as suave. Well maybe suave isn't the right word...that probably belongs to Alex Trebek. If Bob Barker is Hugh Hefner, than Trebek is like Clooney.

My friend Ernie once made it to the The Price Is Right and was the first person to get called up to the contestants row. He then proceeded to lose for the next hour...got into an argument with Bob, had one of his guesses misheard, and had someone outbid his level by $1....this my friends is the ultimate dick move in game show nation. (However in my observations of the types of things they do in Japanese game shows I imagine that the phrase "dick move" is probably a much more literal meaning)

Anyhoo their are a couple of events on The Price Is Right which I always couldn't wait for. One was the game Plinko. Why I enjoyed a game that simple involved putting a token-thingy down some vertical maze is beyond me. Secondly was some game which involved a Swiss hiker and some funny Ricola-esque theme music. Every time a contestant guessed a price wrong the little hiker dude would climb higher and higher while the music played in the background "La-dee-doo-dee-daaa, la-dee-doo-dee-daaa...."

However each of these game could not be relied upon alone because there was no guarantee that they would be played on any particular episode. BUT what would happen on every episode was the Showcase Showdown at the very end. What was remarkable wasn't the fact that it happened, but what occurred during each one.

For whatever reason someone decided that between the potential prize packages, one showcase would be awesome and the other would suck ass. The awesome one usually involved traveling around the world, a new car, an awesome lawn mower of some sorts, and hookers. The other one would usually be some dumb painting, a new bedroom set (usually oak), and lamps. It's almost too funny. The best part is that one of the contestants gets to decide whether to keep his/her showcase or pass it to the other dude. There is nothing funnier than seeing the shitty showcase passed to another contestant.

This my friends is funny. And this also describes much of my TV viewing habits until the age of 13. The house of cards crumbled when my aunt pointed out to me that the whole hour was basically one long commercial for various products and that after each game there was like 3 minutes of commercials. Bob Barker had sold out, and with that nothing was considered sacred any more.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Konichiwa Kuttiyan/ how to apply my Hindi language learnings to my street life

Today we shall learn a new word Hindi phrase.

In Hindi, dog is "Kuttaa" (prounced 'Koothaaa')
A female dog is "Kuttiya"

So from my hindi classes that I took a few years back at the Indian Consulate I know that to make a noun plural we can add "-yan". Thus multiple female dogs are "Kuttiyan"

Thus to say Konichiwa Bitches with a Hindi flair, you can say "Konichiwa Kuttiyan"

Friday, July 13, 2007

Eureka!

When I was younger I used to like Physics. Then as I got older I realized that while Physics is nice and all, it doesn't really work in the real world. For example Newton's First Law says than an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Well anyone who's ever worked before knows that if you ever leave a project for like 2 days everything grinds to standstill. Also, what happens when shit hits the fan?....That's not really a physics question but still.

In any case during these Physics loving times I also liked cartoons a lot. To be fair, I still like cartoons a lot now. The point is that any combination of cartoons and Physics was a slam dunk form of pure entertainment in my books. I guess this is what they call edu-tainment, when you can actually learn useful things and be pleased about it at the same time. However most rational people would agree that the more you learn from TV the less fun it is. TV is best when it is mindless but includes cool pictures in HD.

But I digress.

There used to be a series on PBS called "Eureka!" that my high school Physics teacher had us watch which was one of the best forms of learning. Ever. Objectively speaking. I hadn't seen it in about 10 years until I stumbled upon it a few hours ago on the lovely youtube…

Please note the catchy theme song, the goofy humor, and most importantly the preaching of the principles of Physics!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

the bowl of toilet

Do you ever go to the bathroom after eating a big greasy meal, walk into the stall, and just say to yourself "Toilet bowl, I am going to fuck you up" ?

...And the bowl is just like sitting there in all its porcelain glory all like "Hey I didn't do nothing to you." And you're all like "don't get up in my grill, you...you...you bowl you." And the toilet bowl is just all sitting there and shit. Literally.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

weird hotel requests

Over the past 2-3 months I've sorta thought about stopping this whole blog nonsense... on one hand it's kinda cool to get anywhere from 50-100 hits day (shameless bragging) but on the other it's a little bit hard to think of something interesting to to talk/vent/mock on a nearly daily basis. After all, you can only make so much for of Indian people....ok ok, I jest, there are always new and exciting things to poke fun at in my community.

But the real underlining point is that writer's block sucks. As such interesting things always pop up when you least expect it.

I was booking a hotel today for a trip in a few weeks when the reservation (which I have snazzily abbreviated as "rezzie" while in discussions with friends and family) guy and he asked "Do you have any special request?" This is a pretty standard questions I guess and follows their predetermined list of questions, so I told him that besides a no-smoking room, I was good to go.
This is where my stroke of genius occurred...

You see the rezzie guy seemed pretty nice and actually was pleasant during my typical Indian-style jokes. "So if you want to give me the second night for free, I don't mind" or "Hey, you can give me free parking if you want." Both remarks had been met with a chuckle...and both were shot down...

Anyhoo, after giving my response for any special requests, I asked "what kind of weird requests have you gotten?" ...and this is what followed:

1) A guest once asked for a room that was no less than $10,000 and had pink flowers everywhere but NO roses or carnations... furthermore in all the bouquets of flower no two similar flowers could be next to each other. Apparently some guy was doing this for his wife...he must've messed up big time...

2) In Dubai a guest once looked at the number of tiles in the bathroom and saw that there were 13.5 tiles (half a tile was cut off). The man complained that he must only be in a room with an even of tiles. This is weird enough...I mean it's sorta like Howard Hughes type of thing. The real kicker was that the hotel was in the form of a cylinder...so there weren't any straight lines in the entire hotel....hence any bathroom tile situation will always have some corner cut off. The guest had to change hotels...

3) A man once asked for a room with no windows. Enough said..

4) A man booking an expensive room asked if he could "get a private consultation with the Pope." Ron was like "um, we have a lot of strings we can pull here, but the Pope isn't one of them."

5) ...and what hotel story would be complete without people asking for certain "nighttime entertainment folks..."

So basically the 30 minute discussion with "Ron,"who I learned had been in the army many years ago and had been shot at before, was for the benefit of you the reading audience. Enjoy it bitches.

Monday, July 2, 2007

cupcakes, t-shirts, & Cookie Monster

I like to consider myself as a pretty simple person. It takes very little to make me happy. For example, let's create a hypothetical scenario: What if I was hungry and I had no food? Would I need a nice lasagna or ravioli to make me feel full and satisfied? No. I say naaaay. Nay. All someone has to do is give me a cupcake. I could eat chocolate cupcakes and I be very happy. Now what if I told you this: I have eaten cupcakes and Coke for dinner many-a-time. Blammo. I know, I know. It's shocking.

Speaking of cupcakes and my dietary issues, I like T-shirts. At times I get weird urges and then I feel the urge to act on them. For example White Castle. Enough said. But I digress: Last week I felt the need to buy a Chemical Brothers shirt (a replacement for an old one) and a Cookie Monster shirt.

The aforementioned Cookie Monster shirt had the catchy and yet highly pop-culture centric line "Got Cookie?" In some ways it's a simple question from a blue puppet, in other ways it's a cry for help from a monstrous dough addict. It's really quite a biting shirt. It hits on lots of big life themes, many of which are too numerous and highly self-evident to elaborate on here.

Well on Saturday the package from AllPosters.com (oddly enough "All Posters" doesn't just sell only poster, they dabble in shirts) arrived in the mail and yours truly was more than pleased to unleash the new threads. The first grab into the manila envelope yielded my gray Chemical Brothers shirt. It's exotic heather gray colorings with black lettering basically screamed to anyone looking that the artistic gem was quite a steal at only $18.99 + tax. Round 1: Success.

Round 2....

So reaching into the envelope again I knew that I was about to behold the fabled Monster du Cookie. Only there was no Cookie Monster to be found. Oh no. There was no shirt with his likeness or any other dough junkie to be found. Oh no. Instead I pulled out of the envelope an Alice in Chains t-shirt. What the fuck. How can any quality control person at AllPosters.com sleep at night with such a massive failure on their minds? Yes I know my children, it's unclear to me as well.

Round 3: Failure.

My life is filled with highs and lows. Sometimes they are public, sometimes they are private. But at least at the end of the day I can look at myself in the mirror and say "Hey, you don't partake in genocide, and that makes you a better person than your neighbors in apartment #503."

Sunday, July 1, 2007

strangers in the night....

The PATH train from NY to Jersey rocks. As the leads singer in the band Interpol disparagingly said in the last edition of New York Magazine, it's amateur hours for drunks on Friday nights. Well my friends, where there's smoke there's fire, and where there's drunk people there's entertainment.

My job, of course, is to play the role of the interested observer. So while traveling home the other day, I noticed these two strangers sitting next to each other, I know they're strangers because they got on at different stops when all of a sudden, unbeknownst to our white friend, the Indian guy suddenly put his hand behind him.

It's almost like they were sharing an intimate moment on the train...except for the fact that there were several dozen onlookers and that only the Indian guy really wanted to have this moment....and that the white guy had no clue what was going on behind him.

People often say to me "hey Shakes, you're a handsome guy, why do you live in Jersey?" Believe you me, I understand where they're coming from. But it's these random desi spottings that keep me here.

For anyone who has ever been to India, one of the funnier things to observe is how carefree guys are to hold one anther's hands...and when I say this I don't mean guys in a relationship, I mean straight guys. I mean technically speaking I don't know if they're straight since I don't really stop and ask them, but for a land of a billion people I'm pretty sure that there are more than a few of them who are straight in order to make all these babies. It seems as though our Indian friend on the train is trying to bring this time-honored tradition of male camaraderie to the states.

We applaud your efforts oh strange one.

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