Friday, September 30, 2011

Zomato - way to go....


So I'm a foodie and all things food excite me - yes, even they are simply smart phone apps!

One of the best apps around is Zomato - also available on, but then well, I have almost always used it only on my phone.

Top reasons to use Zomato:
  1. Location Detector: Zomato automatically assess your city and location (you can also feed in the data manually) and then suggests eating places near you. You can filter and sort by cuisine, budget or distance.
  2. Recommendation: Zomato also appeals to the wanderer in me. You can simply ask Zomato to recommend an eating place near you and it will! With an incredible database of places and user reviews, I have never been disappointed by a Zomato Recommendation
  3. MENUS: This is the ONLY app i have seen that has actual, scanned copies of menus!! I mean, dude, you reach the place and you are all set to order! That is by far the coolest feature of the app!
Some areas that Zomato could improve....
  1. Home Delivery via the net: So here's the deal. I, sometimes, want to sit on my lazy behind, and want the food to come to me, and I'm so lazy that i don't even want to speak to another human. On such days, there only so much pizza that I can eat. So, then. It would be awesome if one could order food from a favorite eatery (ONLINE!!) and have it delivered (assuming, of course, that the eatery already does home delivery, or that it will be willing to start and that your order is above the 'minimum order' requirement)
  2. BookMySeat: Yes, I am obviously taking a potshot at the famous movie booking site. But hey, it is so cool! On my way back from work, I call my better half and ask her out for a movie, she says yes, I don't have the tickets, I whip out my smart phone..... You get the idea. Why not be able to make reservations while you are in the middle of that long boring presentation by your CEO or when you are in the loo and talking about food is just not appropriate?
  3.  News and Updates: Who doesn't love a deal? It would be great to occasionally receive news of a food festival or discounts or cookng classes or free samplings! Hell, I wont even mind getting an SMS around lunch time informing me of an awesome deal on a thaalli in a restaurant that's five minutes from my office! Drrroooollllllll...........................!
the Folks at ZOMATO, are you listening? :D

Bon Appetite! :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

The day she baked a cake....

The overwhelming response to my last story has inspired me to write and post some more.

Unlike An Evening Visit, which was a complete figment of my imagination, this one is inspired from real events! Hope you enjoy reading this as much as i enjoyed writing it!


I was fast asleep in my room, when I was very rudely woken up by my dog who was trying to take refuge under my bed. Now he was a big guy, and my bed was low. So he decided that if he could not get under it, he might as well try to get on top of it. So what if I was sleeping there? According to him, I was wasting my life, and if he could, he would personally take the cot and throw it out of my house. He might actually have done that too, only he did not know that my father supported his ideas (thankfully for me!).

Anyway, I was so “overwhelmed” by his affection that I just had to get up and see what the matter was (he would give his life for me, and expected me to give mine for him). Now then. I dragged myself out of the cot, walked into the hall, looked disbelievingly at the scene for what seemed like an eternity, turned around, and marched right back into my room.

To describe to what I saw in those moments is an enormous task, but since you  so badly want to know it, I’ll try. First I saw what seemed like an apparition. It was part white, hair all over the place, a darkish dress smudged with some sort of gooey substance and a pair of spectacles on the face. I think it was a woman. Next I remember noticing the hall. The table was there, but it most certainly did not seem like the one I had eaten my dinner at! Then there was our maid, who was moving around the apparition so animatedly that I could hardly notice where one began and the other ended. Hands flapping, mouth opening and closing like a fish, legs darting out from under her to avoid obstacles and that weird look on her face, she was a sight.

It took me a while to understand what I had seen. 

I finally gathered that the apparition was my sister and that the whole scene was that of my sister attempting to bake a cake. I set out to test this hypothesis. By now my dog was also pretty excited thinking that his master was finally doing something for him. This time I was not so stunned as before as I was expecting to see what I saw. And yes. My hypothesis was correct!

What was happening was that my sister had her holidays on, and wanted to do something useful to prevent time from killing her. So she set out to do what seemed like a very easy task of baking a cake.

First she had got the proportions all messed up, and when she figured them out, she had not enough flour. So she sent our watchman to the end of the street to buy some more. In the meantime she decided to make some popcorn for her entertainment while she worked. The flour arrived sooner than expected (by now the whole household was involved I guess), and as she negotiated with it, the popcorn popped! She rushed to the popcorn, leaving the watchman holding the flour, who in turn had to rush to the gate as chota saab had returned from his round of squash. So the flour was in the wet hands of the maid, and when my sister noticed this she shrieked. That sound was followed instantaneously by a dull plop sound, indicating that the flour had landed safely on mom’s new sofa!

So that was how the room had looked so hazy the first time around. The popcorn, by this time, had popped all around the room, and the plug was pulled out of the socket in a vain attempt to turn off the machine. What actually happened was that the machine flew off the table and splattered even more popcorns all over the room. The eggs just could not manage to find their way into the mixing bowl, and having a mind of themselves, decided to go after the popcorn. The butter meanwhile had melted and was trickling into the open mouth of my dog who was relishing every bit of it.

This was when she decided to give up the whole exercise and spare the household of any more torture.
The best part of the whole episode was that in the end, we did eat some very good cake for dinner (it was parents wedding anniversary).

From there I moved on...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

oh! yes! I just could not resist this! So true! if there is ONE thing that the internet CANNOT ignore it is this! Copyright -

Sunday, January 03, 2010

an evening visit...

The room I sit in is messy. It is dark, and has a mysterious aura abut it. It feels exciting. Part romantic, part uncertain. Makes me melancholy. The room reminds me of my mother. Had she been here she would have said, “Why can’t you boys ever keep your rooms clean? I am warning you for the last time in my life. Next time if you can’t find anything, look in the garbage can!.” A smile escapes my lips. The man I have come to meet welcomes me informally and starts off with too much of a preamble.
To tell you the truth you have me confused. I really don’t understand why it is that I even agreed to your request. I haven’t met a soul from outside in years. I don’t know what it was that urged me to put in all the effort to make you comfortable, and then sit patiently and share with you my thoughts that have been bottled up for so long that I surprise myself by being able to recollect them. It feels like the flood gates of my memory have suddenly been opened.

My thoughts are wandering all over the place today. The evening is beautiful. It reminds me of all those times that I sat and shared a story or two with those kids in the park. Wonder if anyone remembers the old story teller they were so fond of. You know one day a little girl came to hear a story, and she brought her entire household with her. She had a raging fever, but refused to stay home and miss the story. I had a tough time convincing her to go home. It was only when I promised her that I would go to her house and tell her a story did she relent. Thats how much those kids loved me. They were pretty much the joy of my life too. But then time takes its toll on our memories... They must all be married and have kids by now.

People come and people go. But there are always those who leave an indelible mark on us. Long after they are gone, they still make you think. They live lives that are examples.”
He looks at a painting that lies in front of us and continues. “That painting there, (he sighs) was painted by me in those times. But now, it just lies there, a reminiscence of the time when the air was fresh and the spirit was free. I was young, energetic and had a lot to look forward to in life. Carefree, those were the days when youth seemed to last into eternity. But then time the traitor, always takes its toll.

I think of all my grand-children. I miss them a lot. (He lights his pipe). When we were young, we lived in huge families. But now the times have changed, I guess. People are too busy to even be able to take proper care of themselves, we are better off here. Atleast there are people to hear us call out to them. At home everyone leaves for work or something or the other, and we are all alone.

You know”, he continues, “It feels so nice to have you here for company. Not many people come here. Atleast not to spend time and listen to us. You are probably here only because you have to earn your living. But even then. It feels nice to be wanted. Your patience, it makes me feel so loved.
What do think of that painting?” I was taken aback by this abrupt invitation to join in the conversation. Before I could recover, he continued. “You know. That painting has a beautiful history behind it. It is the only spot of brightness in my otherwise dull existence. She was so beautiful. One had to see her to believe her beauty. Its a pity she made me promise to keep it a secret.” In my mind formed a picture of a wonderful romance that could never see the light of day. I thought of secret rendezvous and moonlight strolls in the parks. He seemed so content as he spoke about “her.” “Maybe some day I shall tell you about it.”

A couple of hours have passed since I got here and it is now time for me to bid my host farewell. As I rise to leave, he says, “It is a secret, but someday you shall know.” I leave.

More than a week was past, and one day, just as I sat wondering about what to do with the transcript of that evening, the phone rang. It was my host’s son. And instinctively I knew it. He was no more, but in the past week he had willed his painting to me, and had also left with it an envelope addressed to me.

I reached the appointed place and after offering my condolences, received the painting and envelope. I took these and departed. I actually felt awkward to be there in the midst of his family. For some reason I felt like a traitor. I know it sounds weird, but I have no other words to describe what I felt. I opened the envelope.
I knew at the time of our meeting that my end was near. I sit and write this letter soon after you have left. I have not much time to live. This painting is what helped me live this long. Gave me memories and the strength to pull on. But after you left I realised that there was actually very little for me to look forward to. I have enclosed in this envelope another envelope that contains the key to mystery of the painting. But remember. It was a secret.

Within I found another envelope just like he said I would. It was old and tattered and the paper was yellowing with age. On was the inscription, “the secret of the painting.” I look at the painting. It seemed to radiate a warmth of a sort. It had the aura of mystery around it. It seemed above all tranquil. The last words of the letter kept ringing in my ears. “It was a secret.
Next morning in the fire place was found a burnt envelope with the words, “cret of th” on it. The rest had been burnt.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Substance or show?

It has now been exactly two weeks and a day since the coveted sms was received and the last two weeks have been a revelation in some ways and a surprise in others…

One of the most striking things that I have noticed in the last two weeks is the reaction of people.

I went to sleep one night, and it’s almost as if I’ve woken up a different person. Every since news of my receiving the offer of admission from the ISB, it’s as if the world has started seeing me as a different person.

Earlier people would say “Jaideep, review this document for me” and all of a sudden it is like “Jaideep, er.. if u don’t mind and if you have the time, please see this document and share your inputs. No rush, just take your time”

And other people, who I had to chase earlier for inputs and deliverables, now actually queue up (and while the queue is virtual, I am NOT exaggerating on this one) and wait patiently for their turn. Also, suddenly, every word that I have to say is hung on to as if it were a pearl of wisdom! All this before I’d even decided if I wanted to accept the invitation to be part of the programme, or, even stepped through the portals of this hallowed institution (formally).

Are we Indians hung up the “brand” and the tag more than the “substance” itself? Or is this a global phenomenon? The substance hasn’t changed for obvious reasons, but it does appear as though some of the halo has already started rubbing off on me…

Anyways, I’ve decided to accept the offer and have decided to plunge right back into academics…

And speaking of plunge, watch out for my next post! ;)

Till next time….

Sunday, November 22, 2009

what i was doing when i got the sms!

The 20th of November 2009 started out like every other day... Normal, unexciting, usual, except for two things - it was rumoured that the ISB results for R1 applicants to the Class of 2011 were to be out today and that my favourite uncle informed us in the morning that he was coming to Hyderabad.

so here how the rest of the day unfolded. I went to office, actually managed to get some work done, hell even wrote an article for a leading financial daily, and then met my uncle for lunch.

He then went off w/ my dad and around 5:30 in the evening i was picked up from my office as were to go drop off my uncle at, hold your breath, ISB. why? Coz he's here for a four day executive programme.
So off we went. Trudging through the hyderabad traffic (it was particularly bad this friday evening). Honking, swearing, fist pumping, cursing, and all in all, having a ball of a time.

On the way we stopped at Hitech City and finally reached the hallowed portals of ISB. Drove straight through to the executive housing reception. As i as crossing the mail building (the academic block that is the heart of ISB), i was tempted to stop, run to the admissions and financial aid office and ask them to put me out of my suspense and misery. But better sense prevailed and I continued to drive down. Sigh!

Reached the Executive housing reception, parked the car, was invited to join my uncle for a drink and despite the storm in my heart agreed. I had mango juice! :P

As we walk towards the bar counter to pick up our drinks who do I see, but Dean Rangnekar himself! My heart nearly stopped beating and my brain went into overdrive saying that this could not be mere "coincidence". Once again, i regined in my feet and my heart, maintained a stright face and picked up the drinks, walked outside and sat down at the table. What we spoke about, I have no clue. All i wanted to do was to get out and get home and somehow make time pass faster.

Anyways, R1 of the drinks were almost done, i was sending sms' to my friends to keep my mind occupied and was getting replies in double time... the phone beeped once more, i picked it up with the same disinterest and opened the message. That is when the world stopped!

That was the message that i'd been waiting for. the coveted message informing me that i'd been offered admission to the ISB Class of 2011 and to check my mail for further details. I read it three times to make sure that i was not in a dream and that i wasn't misreading it. The first words were "OH MY GOD!, I've made it!". I wanted to let out the loudest whoop of my life, but considering where i was, I controlled myself. It was, i think, the greatest act of self control for me, so far! grin!

I excitedly showed the sms to my dad and shared the news w/ my uncle - both of whom were excited beyond expression! I jumped off my chair (as soon as my legs had stopped wobbling w/ the excitement) and ran to call my wife and share the news w/ her. I've no recollection of what i said or did, but she says that i was screaming my head off and was all hyper and was making no sense! (like I cared! :P)

So then other calls followed - mom, sister, etc etc etc.... and after a few mins my heart started beating normally and the adrenalin levels had approached some semblance of normalcy. And the gentlemen were ready for R2 of their drinks. Back we went to the bar counter and this time i just could not control myself.

Despite the fact that Dean Rangnekar was now surrounded by an even larger crowd, i walked right over to him, excused myself and said, "Good Evening, I just wanted to say hi". He was sitting, i was standing to his right and behind him and he was looking at like I'd just landed from mars. Being high on adrenalin I continuted unabashed, "I've just been offered admission to the Class of 2011..." At this point he stood up, and shook my hand and congratulated me profusely. "I was on the campus and seeing you here I decided to come over and say 'hi'". "Congratulations!! What is your name?". "Jaideep Chowdhary". "What are you doing on campus?" "i'd come to drop off my uncle who's here for an executive programme." "What programme?" "the Ericcson one." "Ah! (and then suddenly realising the date), But, are the results out? they must've just been out. I know that till yesterday they were working on it" "I've just received the SMS sir, and I happened to be on campus. And i decided to walk over to meet you" "Well congratulations once again and hope to see more of you soon"

I was elated.

I think that i must be the only person (apart from spouses of studetns) who got an offer of admission while they were already on Campus! And i'm pretty certain that no other admit has shook hands with the dean within such a short gap of having received the admission offer"

So there. that is the long, boring ( ;) ) story of what i was doing when i got the sms!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A new begining...

The last four years have been crazy....

the more I think about it, the more I realize, just how crazy the years have been. There was some that was amazing, there was some that was average and then there was the absolutely terrible. I fell in love, was "rejected", got depressed, fell in love again. I also was in one city, then another, then back to city one. I traveled more in each of the last four years than most people travel in their whole lives. I mean more times and to more places.

I also got married and traveled abroad for the first time. Also, for the first time in my life, I wrote an exam with the intent of scoring marks. In the past, for me an exam was just something I had to do before I moved ahead; a diversion before my destination.

To cut a long story short and to fast forward here is what happened up untill last night.

I started believing that i could do more than what I was doing, and took up the task of the GMAT. I wrote the GMAT and score a decent 710. I said, "why waste this score and applied to ISB". ISB, I guess liked what I said in my essays coz they called me for an interview. Interview happened and then came the days of twiddling thumbs and biting nails. Exactly a week after that the results were announced and I was in.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have been offered admission to the ISB, class of 2011.

How the news broke, is all together a different story. Update in 24 hours or less.

until then, adios amigos!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Coffee, Tea, or Should We Feel Your Pregnant Wife’s Breasts Before Throwing You in a Cell at the Airport and Then Lying About Why We Put You There?

The following post is NOT original and has been taken from The only reason I have done this, for the first time ever, is that the story is compelling, engrossing and touching. It is something that all of us can relate to. Freedom? Ironic!


This morning I’ll be escorting my wife to the hospital, where the doctors will perform a caesarean section to remove our first child. She didn’t want to do it this way – neither of us did – but sometimes the Fates decide otherwise. The Fates or, in our case, government employees.

On the morning of October 26th Mary and I entered Portland International Airport, en route to the Las Vegas wedding of one of my best friends. Although we live in Los Angeles, we’d been in Oregon working on a film, and up to that point had had nothing but praise to shower on the city of Portland, a refreshing change of pace from our own suffocating metropolis.

At the security checkpoint I was led aside for the "inspection" that’s all the rage at airports these days. My shoes were removed. I was told to take off my sweater, then to fold over the waistband of my pants. My baseball hat, hastily jammed on my head at 5 AM, was removed and assiduously examined ("Anything could be in here, sir," I was told, after I asked what I could hide in a baseball hat. Yeah. Anything.) Soon I was standing on one foot, my arms stretched out, the other leg sticking out in front of me ├ála a DUI test. I began to get pissed off, as most normal people would. My anger increased when I realized that the newly knighted federal employees weren’t just examining me, but my 7½ months pregnant wife as well. I’d originally thought that I’d simply been randomly selected for the more excessive than normal search. You know, Number 50 or whatever. Apparently not though – it was both of us. These are your new threats, America: pregnant accountants and their sleepy husbands flying to weddings.

After some more grumbling on my part they eventually finished with me and I went to retrieve our luggage from the x-ray machine. Upon returning I found my wife sitting in a chair, crying. Mary rarely cries, and certainly not in public. When I asked her what was the matter, she tried to quell her tears and sobbed, "I’m’s...they touched my breasts...and..." That’s all I heard. I marched up to the woman who’d been examining her and shouted, "What did you do to her?" Later I found out that in addition to touching her swollen breasts – to protect the American citizenry – the employee had asked that she lift up her shirt. Not behind a screen, not off to the side – no, right there, directly in front of the hundred or so passengers standing in line. And for you women who’ve been pregnant and worn maternity pants, you know how ridiculous those things look. "I felt like a clown," my wife told me later. "On display for all these people, with the cotton panel on my pants and my stomach sticking out. When I sat down I just lost my composure and began to cry. That’s when you walked up."

Of course when I say she "told me later," it’s because she wasn’t able to tell me at the time, because as soon as I demanded to know what the federal employee had done to make her cry, I was swarmed by Portland police officers. Instantly. Three of them, cinching my arms, locking me in handcuffs, and telling me I was under arrest. Now my wife really began to cry. As they led me away and she ran alongside, I implored her to calm down, to think of the baby, promising her that everything would turn out all right. She faded into the distance and I was shoved into an elevator, a cop holding each arm. After making me face the corner, the head honcho told that I was under arrest and that I wouldn’t be flying that day – that I was in fact a "menace."

It took me a while to regain my composure. I felt like I was one of those guys in The Gulag Archipelago who, because the proceedings all seem so unreal, doesn’t fully realize that he is in fact being arrested in a public place in front of crowds of people for...for what? I didn’t know what the crime was. Didn’t matter. Once upstairs, the officers made me remove my shoes and my hat and tossed me into a cell. Yes, your airports have prison cells, just like your amusement parks, train stations, universities, and national forests. Let freedom reign.

After a short time I received a visit from the arresting officer. "Mr. Monahan," he started, "Are you on drugs?"

Was this even real? "No, I’m not on drugs."

"Should you be?"

"What do you mean?"

"Should you be on any type of medication?"


"Then why’d you react that way back there?"

You see the thinking? You see what passes for reasoning among your domestic shock troops these days? Only "whackos" get angry over seeing the woman they’ve been with for ten years in tears because someone has touched her breasts. That kind of reaction – love, protection – it’s mind-boggling! "Mr. Monahan, are you on drugs?" His snide words rang inside my head. This is my wife, finally pregnant with our first child after months of failed attempts, after the depressing shock of the miscarriage last year, my wife who’d been walking on a cloud over having the opportunity to be a mother...and my anger is simply unfathomable to the guy standing in front of me, the guy who earns a living thanks to my taxes, the guy whose family I feed through my labor. What I did wasn’t normal. No, I reacted like a drug addict would’ve. I was so disgusted I felt like vomiting. But that was just the beginning.

An hour later, after I’d been gallantly assured by the officer that I wouldn’t be attending my friend’s wedding that day, I heard Mary’s voice outside my cell. The officer was speaking loudly, letting her know that he was planning on doing me a favor... which everyone knows is never a real favor. He wasn’t going to come over and help me work on my car or move some furniture. No, his "favor" was this: He’d decided not to charge me with a felony.

Think about that for a second. Rapes, car-jackings, murders, arsons – those are felonies. So is yelling in an airport now, apparently. I hadn’t realized, though I should have. Luckily, I was getting a favor, though. I was merely going to be slapped with a misdemeanor.

"Here’s your court date," he said as I was released from my cell. In addition, I was banned from Portland International for 90 days, and just in case I was thinking of coming over and hanging out around its perimeter, the officer gave me a map with the boundaries highlighted, sternly warning me against trespassing. Then he and a second officer escorted us off the grounds. Mary and I hurriedly drove two and a half hours in the rain to Seattle, where we eventually caught a flight to Vegas. But the officer was true to his word – we missed my friend’s wedding. The fact that he’d been in my own wedding party, the fact that a once in a lifetime event was stolen from us – well, who cares, right?

Upon our return to Portland (I’d had to fly into Seattle and drive back down), we immediately began contacting attorneys. We aren’t litigious people – we wanted no money. I’m not even sure what we fully wanted. An apology? A reprimand? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter though, because we couldn’t afford a lawyer, it turned out. $4,000 was the average figure bandied about as a retaining fee. Sorry, but I’ve got a new baby on the way. So we called the ACLU, figuring they existed for just such incidents as these. And they do apparently...but only if we were minorities. That’s what they told us.

In the meantime, I’d appealed my suspension from PDX. A week or so later I got a response from the Director of Aviation. After telling me how, in the aftermath of 9/11, most passengers not only accept additional airport screening but welcome it, he cut to the chase:

"After a review of the police report and my discussions with police staff, as well as a review of the TSA’s report on this incident, I concur with the officer’s decision to take you into custody and to issue a citation to you for disorderly conduct. That being said, because I also understand that you were upset and acted on your emotions, I am willing to lift the Airport Exclusion Order...."

Attached to this letter was the report the officer had filled out. I’d like to say I couldn’t believe it, but in a way, I could. It’s seemingly becoming the norm in America – lies and deliberate distortions on the part of those in power, no matter how much or how little power they actually wield.

The gist of his report was this: From the get go I wasn’t following the screener’s directions. I was "squinting my eyes" and talking to my wife in a "low, forced voice" while "excitedly swinging my arms." Twice I began to walk away from the screener, inhaling and exhaling forcefully. When I’d completed the physical exam, I walked to the luggage screening area, where a second screener took a pair of scissors from my suitcase. At this point I yelled, "What the %*&$% is going on? This is &*#&$%!" The officer, who’d already been called over by one of the screeners, became afraid for the TSA staff and the many travelers. He required the assistance of a second officer as he "struggled" to get me into handcuffs, then for "cover" called over a third as well. It was only at this point that my wife began to cry hysterically.

There was nothing poetic in my reaction to the arrest report. I didn’t crumple it in my fist and swear that justice would be served, promising to sacrifice my resources and time to see that it would. I simply stared. Clearly the officer didn’t have the guts to write down what had really happened. It might not look too good to see that stuff about the pregnant woman in tears because she’d been humiliated. Instead this was the official scenario being presented for the permanent record. It doesn’t even matter that it’s the most implausible sounding situation you can think of. "Hey, what the...godammit, they’re taking our scissors, honey!" Why didn’t he write in anything about a monkey wearing a fez?

True, the TSA staff had expropriated a pair of scissors from our toiletries kit – the story wasn’t entirely made up. Except that I’d been locked in airport jail at the time. I didn’t know anything about any scissors until Mary told me on our drive up to Seattle. They’d questioned her about them while I was in the bowels of the airport sitting in my cell.

So I wrote back, indignation and disgust flooding my brain.

"[W]hile I’m not sure, I’d guess that the entire incident is captured on video. Memory is imperfect on everyone’s part, but the footage won’t lie. I realize it might be procedurally difficult for you to view this, but if you could, I’d appreciate it. There’s no willful disregard of screening directions. No explosion over the discovery of a pair of scissors in a suitcase. No struggle to put handcuffs on. There’s a tired man, early in the morning, unhappily going through a rigorous procedure and then reacting to the tears of his pregnant wife."

Eventually we heard back from a different person, the guy in charge of the TSA airport screeners. One of his employees had made the damning statement about me exploding over her scissor discovery, and the officer had deftly incorporated that statement into his report. We asked the guy if he could find out why she’d said this – couldn’t she possibly be mistaken? "Oh, can’t do that, my hands are tied. It’s kind of like leading a witness – I could get in trouble, heh heh." Then what about the videotape? Why not watch that? That would exonerate me. "Oh, we destroy all video after three days."

Sure you do.

A few days later we heard from him again. He just wanted to inform us that he’d received corroboration of the officer’s report from the officer’s superior, a name we didn’t recognize. "But...he wasn’t even there," my wife said.

"Yeah, well, uh, he’s corroborated it though."

That’s how it works.

"Oh, and we did look at the videotape. Inconclusive."

But I thought it was destroyed?

On and on it went. Due to the tenacity of my wife in making phone calls and speaking with relevant persons, the "crime" was eventually lowered to a mere citation. Only she could have done that. I would’ve simply accepted what was being thrown at me, trumped up charges and all, simply because I’m wholly inadequate at performing the kowtow. There’s no way I could have contacted all the people Mary did and somehow pretend to be contrite. Besides, I speak in a low, forced voice, which doesn’t elicit sympathy. Just police suspicion.

Weeks later at the courthouse I listened to a young DA awkwardly read the charges against me – "Mr. Monahan...umm...shouted obscenities at the airport staff...umm... umm...oh, they took some scissors from his suitcase and he became...umm...abusive at this point." If I was reading about it in Kafka I might have found something vaguely amusing in all of it. But I wasn’t. I was there. Living it.

I entered a plea of nolo contendere, explaining to the judge that if I’d been a resident of Oregon, I would have definitely pled "Not Guilty." However, when that happens, your case automatically goes to a jury trial, and since I lived a thousand miles away, and was slated to return home in seven days, with a newborn due in a matter of get the picture. "No Contest" it was. Judgment: $250 fine.

Did I feel happy? Only $250, right? No, I wasn’t happy. I don’t care if it’s twelve cents, that’s money pulled right out of my baby’s mouth and fed to a disgusting legal system that will use it to propagate more incidents like this. But at the very least it was over, right? Wrong.

When we returned to Los Angeles there was an envelope waiting for me from the court. Inside wasn’t a receipt for the money we’d paid. No, it was a letter telling me that what I actually owed was $309 – state assessed court costs, you know. Wouldn’t you think your taxes pay for that – the state putting you on trial? No, taxes are used to hire more cops like the officer, because with our rising criminal population – people like me – hey, your average citizen demands more and more "security."

Finally I reach the piece de resistance. The week before we’d gone to the airport my wife had had her regular pre-natal checkup. The child had settled into the proper head down position for birth, continuing the remarkable pregnancy she’d been having. We returned to Portland on Sunday. On Mary’s Monday appointment she was suddenly told, "Looks like your baby’s gone breech." When she later spoke with her midwives in Los Angeles, they wanted to know if she’d experienced any type of trauma recently, as this often makes a child flip. "As a matter of fact..." she began, recounting the story, explaining how the child inside of her was going absolutely crazy when she was crying as the police were leading me away through the crowd.

My wife had been planning a natural childbirth. She’d read dozens of books, meticulously researched everything, and had finally decided that this was the way for her. No drugs, no numbing of sensations – just that ultimate combination of brute pain and sheer joy that belongs exclusively to mothers. But my wife is also a first-time mother, so she has what is called an "untested" pelvis. Essentially this means that a breech birth is too dangerous to attempt, for both mother and child. Therefore, she’s now relegated to a c-section – hospital stay, epidural, catheter, fetal monitoring, stitches – everything she didn’t want. Her natural birth has become a surgery.

We’ve tried everything to turn that baby. Acupuncture, chiropractic techniques, underwater handstands, elephant walking, moxibustion, bending backwards over pillows, herbs, external manipulation – all to no avail. When I walked into the living room the other night and saw her plaintively cooing with a flashlight turned onto her stomach, yet another suggested technique, my heart almost broke. It’s breaking now as I write these words.

I can never prove that my child went breech because of what happened to us at the airport. But I’ll always believe it. Wrongly or rightly, I’ll forever think of how this man, the personification of this system, has affected the lives of my family and me. When my wife is sliced open, I’ll be thinking of him. When they remove her uterus from her abdomen and lay it on her stomach, I’ll be thinking of him. When I visit her and my child in the hospital instead of having them with me here in our home, I’ll be thinking of him. When I assist her to the bathroom while the incision heals internally, I’ll be thinking of him.

There are plenty of stories like this these days. I don’t know how many I’ve read where the writer describes some breach of civil liberties by employees of the state, then wraps it all up with a dire warning about what we as a nation are becoming, and how if we don’t put an end to it now, then we’re in for heaps of trouble. Well you know what? Nothing’s going to stop the inevitable. There’s no policy change that’s going to save us. There’s no election that’s going to put a halt to the onslaught of tyranny. It’s here already – this country has changed for the worse and will continue to change for the worse. There is now a division between the citizenry and the state. When that state is used as a tool against me, there is no longer any reason why I should owe any allegiance to that state.

And that’s the first thing that child of ours is going to learn.

December 21, 2002

Nick Monahan works in the film industry. He writes out of Los Angeles where he lives with his wife and as of December 18th, his beautiful new son.

Copyright © 2002

Saturday, September 02, 2006

programming is like sex because...

    - One mistake and you have to support it for the rest of your life. (Michael Sinz)
    Once you get started, you’ll only stop because you’re exhausted.
    - It takes another experienced person to really appreciate what you’re doing.
    - Conversely, there’s some odd people who pride themselves on their lack of experience.
    - You can do it for money or for fun.
    - If you spend more time doing it than watching TV, people think you’re some kind of freak.
    - It’s not really an appropriate topic for dinner conversation.
    There’s not enough taught about it in public school.
    - It doesn’t make any sense at all if you try to explain it in strictly clinical terms.
    - Some people are just naturally good.
    - But some people will never realize how bad they are, and you’re wasting your time trying to tell them.
    - There are a few weirdos with bizarre practices nobody really is comfortable with.
    - One little thing going wrong can ruin everything.
    - It’s a great way to spend a lunch break.
    - Everyone acts like they’re the first person to come up with a new technique.
    - Everyone who’s done it pokes fun at those who haven’t.
    - Beginners do a lot of clumsy fumbling about.
    - You’ll miss it if it’s been a while.
    - There’s always someone willing to write about the only right way to do things.
    - It doesn’t go so well when you’re drunk, but you’re more likely to do it.
    - Sometimes it’s fun to use expensive toys.
    - Other people just get in the way.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Books and me...

What have I read?
These are the 25 most popular overall books at What Should I Read Next?
I liked it!I didn't like it!I want to read it!
The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
1984 - George Orwell
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story - George Orwell
The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien
Angels and Demons - Dan Brown
Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
Take the 'What have I read?' test now!
Eight different categories to try!