Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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I went away to boarding school at the age of 13, already a relatively well-traveled youth of civil upbringing, and soon to be a regular onboard US Airways flight 702 from Montego Bay to Hartford, CT. Traveling these 1639 miles about eight times per year, I noticed a few things. For one, SkyMall is the greatest magazine known to man, a point I’m more than happy to debate on a separate occasion, although this site pretty much makes the argument for me: [http://skymall.tumblr.com]. Secondly, crying children are easily silenced by tranquilizer darts – society is just not progressive enough to accept this yet. Sigh, one day. Finally, and most importantly, there is a certain culture that exists aboard airplane cabins, an etiquette of sorts, a code that travelers live by in efforts to traverse harmoniously from wheels up to touch down. These are simple decrees of negligible inconvenience, principles that make being strapped in a chair and catapulted from one mass of land to another a relatively enjoyable experience; The tray table is a convenient surface, not a drum set…If you’re boozing, book an aisle seat…No farting when the seatbelt sign is on. The list continues, but you catch my drift…very simple criterion to avoid confrontation while glued to cheap cloth beneath an overzealous overhead fan.

There are slight exceptions – cultural variance, if you will. Not unlike the drinking age aboard a flight from Hartford to Jamaica, which changes from 21 to about 12 over the southern coast of Florida, these conventions have a tendency to change from country to country as well. For example, dancing in the aisle, while frowned upon in transatlantic settings, is highly encouraged onboard flights to, say, Trinidad (it may actually garner you some bonus frequent flyer miles). Oscar winning movies preside on flights from LAX to JFK, while any film that lacks J.Lo lacks an audience when destined for Miami. It’s safe to say, however, that amidst this mild variability there is a core of considerations that remains consistent, no matter where or with whom you travel. We, as decent beings, are expected to hold to these standards of behavior.

Alas, the world is not perfect. There are crying babies and restless handbag dogs afoot. Obesity bears heavy on the center seat while the continuous increase in height of the European population grows out into the ever-narrowing isles of their similarly slim-fit vessels. Air travel is becoming progressively polluted with ungraciousness; a plane is now a place where seamless coexistence goes to die, the sky a graveyard of comity and tact.

This is all becoming apparent to me at once. As I write this post I occupy seat 31H onboard Virgin Atlantic’s red-eye flight from Montego Bay to London Gatwick, living through an absolute assault on common airline decency. You see, Virgin had the brilliant idea of installing touch screen TV’s in the head-rests of economy seats, a revolutionary space-saving decision turned nightmare when some idiot decided to put Fruit Ninja in the Games section of Virgin’s in-flight entertainment. For those of you unfamiliar with this game, it involves belligerent swiping and tapping motions of the index finger, each of which cuts the fruit that appears on the screen. Literally, that is all you do – cut fruit. It is a game that reflects nothing more than complete, utter boredom with one’s surroundings (not to mention a fundamental misunderstanding of what a Ninja does)…and Jamaicans LOVE it.

Of the twenty or so people in my field of vision on this plane, approximately twelve of them are playing Fruit Ninja – an inordinate amount of people when you consider the following: all twelve of them have daily access to the exact same fruits in real life, six of them probably brought the fruits with them on the plane and one of them is actually eating fruit while playing Fruit Ninja (I can’t make this stuff up)! Needless to say, the 65-year-old gentleman behind me has too succumbed to the calling of the Fruit Dojo, and is now digging his fingers into the back of my headrest with the fury of a thousand Samurai.

Meanwhile, in 31J, a 300lb woman’s arm fat attempts to make love with my ribs. Sadly this is the least of my worries, as her equally obese, window-seated husband has an overactive bladder, turning every third song on my iPod into a possible score to the stampede scene in the Lion King. It is at this point that my in flight recreation has become 400mg of ibuprofen and a bottle of 2013 Chardonnay.

While this is the first time my flying frustrations have driven me to ink, a gradual change in experience started about 5 years ago, when the act of flying ceased to be a novel experience for most human beings. Nowadays 35,000 feet is less impressive to most people than Angry Birds or Doodle Jump, and in the absence of that euphoric feeling we once achieved with flight, human beings are free to return to the inconsiderate pieces of shit most of them are when their feet are on the ground. But at what point did the miracle of human flight cease to be enough? At what point did we peer out from the window seat onto rolling hills and placid oceans below us and say “man I wish I could chop some fruit right now”?

As I sit here, planning my next passive-aggressive attempt to regain control of the middle arm rest, contemplating the consequences of punching a crying baby in the face as I eat the crackers and cheese I purchased for $12, I cannot help but wonder what happened to the joyous event that was once air travel, and if I may see it yet again. Perhaps one day, and until then, I suppose there’s always Fruit Ninja to keep me occupied.

Next time pack a parachute,

Prav

I was raised by an extraordinarily delightful group of human beings. My mother recycles, even though we come from a country that hasn’t used a trash can since roads were invented; my father has helped more unemployed Jamaicans than the casting director for Cool Runnings, and the last person to leave my grandparents’ house without a full meal was a hurricane named Gilbert – but that’s only cause he took the roof instead.

My wonderfully glass-half-full family has taught me to find the best in even the worst of places. “God creates beauty in everything; it is up to you to choose to see it” my grandmother says – and even though this mentality led me to see Tower Heist in theaters, it’s still a part of me that I will cherish forever. The world is too enjoyable to get upset over life’s most insignificant non-sequiturs (unless they involve 90 minutes of Ben Stiller breaking every law of physics imaginable), and it would surely be a better place if everyone shared this point of view.

With that being said…

New York is slowly turning me into a bitter old man. Not the remarkably wise, occasionally compassionate type like Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World. No, I’m talking Clint Eastwood in the first 30 minutes of Gran Torino bitter. Mr. Burns from The Simpsons bitter. Simon Cowell listening to Kidz Bop bitter. Why, you ask? Because living in New York is kind of like doing cocaine and trying to play “Operation” – there’s quite simply too much to do and not enough time, so all you end up with is frustration, a high blood pressure and malice towards the morbidly obese (seriously though, how slow can one walk before they are considered inanimate). It is truly a deconstruction of everything that 90′s television taught me about this beautiful metropolis.

Don’t get me wrong; New York is amazing, and if you ever have the benefit of living here you’ll see why – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t beating my inner Jamaican to death with a red, white and blue baseball bat of pessimism. After 21 months of living here, I’ve compiled quite a list of things that annoy me. Literally, it is a list on my phone. Granted it can be found right in between my lists for “Favorite late night food joints” and “Best places to watch British sports amongst rowdy fans” (both heavily populated), but nonetheless it was created. The city giveth and the city taketh away, I suppose.

It really didn’t occur to me how sour I was becoming until I took a good, hard look at some of the things that were on this queue of displeasures. While they started out as the typical pet peeves of any average New Yorker, the list soon devolved into a collection of items and acts that, if held to, would probably prevent me from ever smiling again. But before I get to the cheesy, warm-hearted moral of this story, I’d first like to share with you the darker side of my daily humor: my list of things that annoy me, affectionately titled “Brooklyn and Beyond”:

1. People who walk too slow

2. Doormen that assume I’m a delivery guy: I really can’t defend this. I wear sneakers a lot.

3. Street-side Activists with an attitude: Look, I get that you want to save the pandas or Chinese child laborers or women’s rights, I really do, but don’t get sassy with me cause I’ve got a meeting in 5 minutes and don’t have time to ‘dialogue’ with you about it. Also I don’t ‘dialogue’.

4. Drivers that have a green light but let you cross anyways

5. Sporksclearly biting off more than they can chew

6. Poorly crafted puns

7. People that walk too fast

8. Cabs that won’t take me cause I’m Indian: we’re not cheap, we’re economical.

9. Cabs that only take me cause I’m Indian: just cause the UN is in session and I’m wearing pants doesn’t mean I’m one of the rich ones

10. Poorly advertised parades that get in the way: “Hey by the way we’re having a parade in the morning don’t expect to use Avenues 1, 3, Lex, Park, 5th, 8th or 10th. Also the highways will be jammed kthanksbye.”

11. Duane Reade: “Let’s sell everything in Rite Aide for $5 more”

12. Confused weekenders from Connecticut: “Excuse me, how do I get to the ‘West Side’?”

13. Fruit/Felafel carts that take advantage of drunk people

14. Homeless “veterans” with “Irak” spelled incorrectly on their cardboard signs

15. People that complain about homeless people

16. People that contradict themselves

17. Hipsters Brooklyn: Yes, yes we get it; you have good beer, dollar oysters and your apartment is twice as big as mine for half the price, but we’ll see who’s laughing when another goth kid jumps in front of the L train this weekend. Have fun being stuck in your monstrous apartments.

18. The MTA: “Oh, you wanted to get there on time? Our bad.”

19. Under-spiced ethnic foods

20. Parking enforcers that double park

21. People that read the menu at Shake Shack like it’s the last Harry Potter book

22. People with Blackberries People that don’t have iPhones: No I won’t look up a good bar nearby, why don’t you bbm all your buddies and ask them for directions.

23. East Village bouncers that count the girls in your group

24. People that have their birthdays at hotels in the Meatpacking District: “Can’t wait to celebrate my birthday with all my closest friends! Just don’t forget to bring cash cause there’s a $30 cover. Also guys should try to show up with at least 6 girls each and just to let you know the bouncer hates all men wearing fewer items of Feregamo than him. So excited it’s warming up! 27 degrees! Woooo!”

25. Everyone in a car in New York

26. People that expect me to know what the Z train is

27. Drug dealers that assume I do drugs because I have a beard and wear aviators

28. Hoboken The PATH New Jersey: Pay our taxes, then call yourself a New Yorker.

For those of you who have yet to have the pleasure of meeting me, I’m actually a really nice guy – probably because I channel my frustrations into lists like this (and my ‘Reasons to Push Snooki Down the Stairs’ list, which recently got a little longer). The reason for this post, however, is that I have come to a realization. New Yorkers are bitter because we are the spoiled brats of America; we get everything we want, whenever we want it.

If you want a pastrami sandwich stacked with rare artisan cheese and hand pressed by a remarkably short Korean guy in a “Kiss the cook” apron at 4am, you can get that. If you want to stay out all night salsa dancing on a rooftop with a live band who then cooks you brunch after the sun rises, you can probably get that too. We are spoiled rotten with privilege by this beautiful city, and we do nothing but run rampant with requests in return. As New Yorkers we feel entitled to a certain style and pace of life wherever it is that we go, an expectation that will never be met by even the second best city in the US (Miami, obviously).

So as I publish this post I move to delete the pessimist’s list of pesky peeves, because I am too fortunate to be bitter any longer. From here on I’ll spare the city my anger, and learn to let the good simply overrun the bad. Perhaps I’ll start a new list to absorb my frustrations. I’m thinking “Words I’d Like to Hear Kim Kardashian Spell”.

1. Zucchini,

Prav

Senior Swag

Posted: January 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

Tomorrow is a special day. Special in the sense that it only comes around once, but even more so because it has caused me to do a great deal of reflecting in anticipation of it. It’s the kind of day you look foreword to celebrating – you make big plans, budget for an expensive dinner, send a cheesy Evite to all your friends with obnoxious digital confetti and a polyphonic soundtrack – but then again, it’s also the kind of day you fear in some ways. Tomorrow is my Dad’s birthday. Not just any birthday, mind you, but his 50th. The half-century. The birthday of funny golf t-shirts and questionably offensive wisecracks about hair-loss and erectile dysfunction. Yes, I agree, it’s terrifying.

I do realize that my parents are much younger than those of my American peers (we’re Indian, you saw this coming), and that many of you have already ventured through this reflective juncture in life, some more than once, but allow me to introduce a variable that gives this experience the refreshing twist it needs to be worthy of public concern: my Dad is undeniably cooler than me.

See here’s the thing: I’m pretty damn cool, [insert egotistical commentary on pectoral strength and conversational affluence here], but for years I have failed to fill the swagged out Feregamos of social excellence that my Dad has handed down to me no matter how hard I’ve tried (believe me, effort was put forth). In all fairness, the guy did take a sizable head start – while he was jumping bikes off my grandmother’s roof and sneaking rum at the beach with his friends, the most daring thing I ever did at 10 years old was trade Pikachu to Max Jardim for Charmeleon and the last sip of a Smirnhoff Ice (pretty controversial move, made a lot of noise on the playground). But even when the ‘mommas boy’ suspenders were long donated to charitable causes other than my social life, I was still miles behind the mischievous meanderings of the infamous Denny Chandiram; and while I did give the old man a run for his money in college, I still came home each break to watch him run a business, manage a family and perfect a golf swing – all with a rum punch in his left hand and a domino beat down in his right.

The inevitable truth that I have come to realize is this: in my eyes, I’ll never be quite as cool as my Dad; I can’t speak for the women of the world, but that’s not to say many of them wouldn’t agree. When I look at the things that make me who I am, from the decisions I make and the work I produce, to the scotch I drink and the way I shine my shoes, it’s tough to say it wasn’t him in some way (not the rhyming though, that was 2Pac). As he turns 50 and continues to delay the onset of creepy old-guy-jokes and poor unibrow management, I take comfort in knowing that the best parts about future-me haven’t even been passed down yet. Among the many things he has taught me, and will teach me, the greatest lesson I take from my Dad is that youth is not an age, a cholesterol level or a time of life; it is a state of mind. Youth isn’t wrinkle-free skin with a six pack and a full head of hair – and if it was, it would probably wear tight t-shirts, too much cologne and get bottle service in night clubs, so we would hate it. Juvenility can be a money belly and a 401K, you just have to want it to be.

So how cool will I be when I’m 50? There’s really no way to tell for sure. As the generational gap widens with each consecutive batch of the Bieber-crazed maniacs, who’s to say I won’t be the old guy that ‘still listens to mp3s’ and brags about his ‘FIFA skills’ on some archaic ‘Playstation’? Maybe I’ll retain my sense of swag long enough to pass it to my own son. Who knows? Only one thing’s for sure: if I’m anything like my old man, I’m only getting cooler from here.

Never mix a good single-malt with soda water,

Prav

In Praise of Sloth

Posted: January 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

Over the past decade, it has become evident that I am not, what many people would call, a ‘morning person’. Frankly, the mere concept of the phrase escapes me; someone who wants to wake up early, who enjoys life before the light of dawn. Even the words themselves are counter intuitive: morning and person. First of all, humans weren’t meant to be awake before 6am; if they were, The Guy Upstairs would have left a light on. It’s dark at 5am for a reason people (seemed obvious enough to me). Secondly, just because obnoxiously high pitched insects and a couple of babies wake up at absurd hours every day, doesn’t mean it’s your responsibility to do so as well (unless you have a baby, in which case feel free to act accordingly). We as humans have the benefit of a complex frontal lobe, and all the decision making capabilities that come with it, so if you need a cowbell and a slap across the face to wake up in the morning, it probably means you don’t want to get out of bed yet. Again, I’m just stating the obvious here, but I digress…

Those who live with me know I sleep through just about anything; this includes, but is not limited to: hurricanes, earthquakes, fire alarms, pancake alarms (best idea ever), early-starting day parties, late-ending night parties and the occasional medium/large bird vs. window collision. Those who work with me have little knowledge of the matter, as I tend to doze tactfully at my desk until around 10:30 each day (I recently perfected my ‘might be taking notes’ stance, thanks for asking). Even my Mother has all but reached her wit’s end, after many years of prying me from my glue trap of Egyptian cotton (600 thread count, it’s like sleeping between two panda bears). Though it is indisputable, those who have roomed with me have had it the worst, as only they know the auricular torture that is my snoozing. Yes, if admitting your problem is the first step to a cure, consider this my public declamation. My name is Prav Chatani, and I work the snooze button like a coked up lab rat, swatting aimlessly through the dayspring air in search of my sweet, red lever of escape.

For the longest time I tried my best to fight the cravings of silence in the morning, suppressing my appetite for slumber with fleeting will power; a bucket of cold water to the face of laziness. I endured a decade of criticism from roommates and girlfriends alike, hopelessly attempting to curb my ‘time wasting’ habit in every way possible. I bought alarm clocks that run away from you, sounding until you catch them. When I stopped chasing those, my roommates threw blunt objects to wake me up irreversibly. I had a tendency to throw my clocks in retaliation – but that only led to further expenses. When the bruises healed and the credit cards were paid, I woke up one morning, a junior in college. Still lost in the futility of dropping my old habit, frustrated after years of fruitless struggle, I surrendered my battle with the snooze button, not via defeat, mind you, but through acceptance.

On this day, after eight blissful snoozes, I lay in bed staring at the empty, whitewashed ceiling of my dorm room, and as the alarm let loose again, I made the conscious decision to sink deeper into the sheets of comfort. As I let the justifications for wakening dissolve in my relaxation, I couldn’t help but notice that something about this time was different. Quietly, I searched my conscience for that deep seated shit that I once gave to wake up early and start each day in a full sprint towards productivity. Nothing. At first I seemed oddly shaken by my placidity, though soon I came to accept this unaccustomed sense of ‘fuck it’ that I had recently developed. Why bother, I thought to myself. In fact, I was so sure of my indifference that, at times, I didn’t even get up to press the snooze button; instead I let it howl, like a wounded dog seeking sympathy in its owners.

The things that perplexed me most were the activities that consumed these eight minute intervals – the empty time between snoozes that I cherished so much. Instead of drifting swiftly into a fresh bout of dormancy, I found myself closing my eyes for purposes other than sleep. To put it simply, I did absolutely nothing. Sometimes I broke these moments of depletedness to ask myself questions I never had the time to answer. What is my favorite color? Do I really care that much about global warming? Why doesn’t a duck’s quack echo? With every depression of that magical button, my mind drifted aimlessly, welcoming into my thoughts anything that appeared on the white, crackled paint of ceiling above. This occurred another three or four times, until soon, the eight minute interludes of peaceful contemplation began to pile up. Soon enough, I grew accustomed to singing the song of sloth and sluggishness daily, relinquishing my twenty minute shower and fifty pushups for a much needed half hour of, well, nothing.

Upon befriending the faithful snooze button, one notices a series of changes that take place in your life. For one, you come to realize that your roommates, neighbors and sleeping partners have a more extensive lexicon of swear words than you may have imagined. While I may appreciate the equally spaced saunters to and from the nightstand, the relentless scream of my alarm clock surely became the soundtrack to my roommate’s every nightmare. Secondly, when you take the time to empty your thoughts and adopt the role of an over-glorified rock, you realize how little time people provide themselves to just be, and do, nothing.

Simple math will tell us that by snoozing a conservative six times daily, I spend a precious four hours per week lost in a land between slumber and startlement. Almost three percent of each year spent drowning in a sea of sheets, my productivity smothered beneath the down comforter. However, one must not confuse my sloth with mere procrastination. While procrastination is simply the time we spend evading responsibility, scratching our genitals, and studying every cobwebbed corner of Facebook, sloth takes the time to peek between the seconds of our daily lives. It was not until I embraced these eight minutes of serenity, that I realized this truth. The snooze button is not a foe, but a friend. It grants us these precious moments of sloth that we lack, those wanton minutes of mental vacancy where we take the time to untangle the knots of our cranial confusion.

Humans are one of the only animals that spend almost every waking minute of consciousness engaged in some movement. Perhaps this is due to the fact that we live in an industrialized world, or because lions have yet to discover Fantasy Football or Angry Birds (stupid lions). Either way, when you spend your life skipping from one activity to the next, you often forget to take the time to admire the cracks in the ceiling, the echoes of ducks, and the time of sloth which we seldom allot for: the time to embrace pensiveness, devote yourself to distraction, and do absolutely nothing.

Happy Friday,

Prav

6.5 pounds.

That’s how much more I weighed on Monday morning. It. Was. Glorious. Another Thanksgiving come and gone, another feast devoured throughout an afternoon packed with family, spiked with good beer and seasoned with Tony Romo interceptions. It was for me, as it is for many of us, the best day of the year – 24 untainted, uncommercialized hours of tryptophan infused bliss.

But now here we stand, hungry and lost on the darker side of the Thanksgiving fence. The musk of old Christmas decorations settling into the living room air as we couch surf and pick cold turkey from a one gallon Ziploc bag. Here begins the torturous road to Christmas day: four weeks of cheesy Sears commercials, nauseating Tim Allen movies and  last-minute online shopping, bridged only by the knocks of wildly off-key carolers at the door. Welcome to my nightmare, dear readers, please remove your shoes so you don’t track joy through my introduction.

By this point you must have realized that I, not quite the jubilant young Indian boy I used to be, abhor the illustrious charade that is the Christmas season. Don’t get me wrong – I love Christmas. I love being at home with my family, exchanging gifts and washing down Mom’s christmas cookies with Dad’s ice cold Red Stripe (a tradition older than you would think). I love every family tradition we have, old and new, all set to the soundtrack of Michael Bolton’s jazzy yuletide hits pulled from the dustiest corner of our once put-together CD-rack. Really, nothing beats it. The 25th day of December is among my favorites of the year; but it is not the day itself that grinds my grinchy gears, but the 30 tormenting ones that precede it.

Thirty, unendurable days of American pageantry. Thirty days of ear-bleeding, celebrity song and dance that do nothing but test my threshold for Justin Bieber’s prepubescent screech. Thirty days of chubby Mexican men in cheap, red Santa suits stitched with deceit and defamation. Go ahead, call me Scrooge if you will; I assure you, you shan’t be the first. But for all that I hate about early December, there are, in fact, a few facets of the build-up which I do enjoy. Buried beneath the industrialist hog-wash that stuffs our holiday stockings, barely noticable over the screams of unappreciative children who didn’t get the exact color Transformer they asked for this year, there are a few guilty pleasure that even I take some morsel of joy from. Below you will find just a few of my favorite pre-game activities for Jesus’ birthday bash. Sit back, pour yourself a glass of egg-nog, look at it intently before throwing it away, grab a beer and enjoy!

1. Office Christmas Parties: I don’t talk to anyone at work. I am not anti-social, scared of getting close to people or in any way closed to the idea of an office friend; it just so happens that medical research is not the most conducive occupation to social interaction. On the rare occasion that I don’t have my headphones in, and I happen to be within earshot of another living being (mice not included), holding a conversation over the noise level of freezers, cryostats, shakers, fume hoods, glass breaking, blots running and post-docs yelling at each other in Chinese is almost impossible (seriously though, does anyone with a PhD speak English?).

God forbid that earbud-less person is an attractive female, there are very few things that sound sexy when followed by the words “could you pass me that mouse brain over there?” Even if we happen to share a Grey’s-Anatomy-like moment of passion, in which we tear each others clothes off and go at it on the desktop centrifuge, ignoring the fact that we are covered in hazardous biological agents, radioactive waste and what looks to be the remains of a rodent liver, we would still have to wipe the bench down with 70% ethanol when we’re done, so as to not sabotage the results of our actual lab endeavors…how romantic.

It is for this reason that I look foreword to our yearly Christmas party- the one time when I can interact with my ‘co-labitants’ without needing to resterilize myself first. Throw a little scotch in the mix and you’ve got yourself a pretty decent social experiment.

2. Secret Santa: Wait. So I have to give someone a gift…and they’ll never know it’s from me? And I’m not allowed to spend more than $20? What part of this am I not supposed to love…?

3. Public Shattering of Childhood Delusions: Each and every Christmas season, if you happen to be in the right store at juuuust the right time, you get to witness something amazing – the very moment a child learns that Santa Claus isn’t real. Yes, I know, I’m a terrible person (this isn’t news to me), but the reason I enjoy this so much is because I see this grim, tear-jerking moment as the birth of that child’s ability to think rationally. How glass-half-full of me, right? Think about it for a second; every moment of that child’s life leading up to this harsh reality, has been clouded by some lunatic prophecy about a fat man, who probably has the kitchen sink of cardiovascular problems, squeezing quietly down a 2′x2′ chimney with a giant bag of presents, eating his 4,000th batch of cookies for the night, and then shimmying back up from whence he came and soaring away on a sleigh pulled by magical deer. To that child, anything is possible; because if Santa can break in and out of 3 billion homes in one night without taking a single bullet – there probably isn’t much in this world that can’t be done.

His entire life, this child had not challenged any of this. In fact, he hadn’t questioned ANYTHING at all! Where do babies come from? What is a tooth fairy? Why does the sponge live in a pineapple under the sea and how did he come to own pants?! Oh, but not anymore. Now Santa is gone, and the flood gates have opened. Questions begin to build in his head, a lifetime of non-sequiturs piling on top of one another….how does he travel the globe in one night when it takes me 4 hours to get to Miami? How do all those presents fit in his sleigh if our groceries barely fit in Mom’s SUV? If there’s only one Santa then why’d I see four in the food court at the mall, and why were they all speaking spanish? Soon enough, even he, the most creative kid in the 5th grade (that was a lie too), can’t contain his confusion any longer. And so I watch as deductive reasoning fills the void left by his fleeting childhood naivety, and all I can wonder is why no one ever told George Bush that Santa doesn’t exist; Lord knows how much better off we’d be if they had. So this Christmas, if you don’t have the stomach to tell the kid yourself, at least have the solidarity to laugh when it happens. It’s for the best, after all.

4. Kwanzaa: I’m still not exactly sure what it is, or when it is, but I’m pretty sure I saw it on a ‘reasons to drink today’ calendar once. I’m always down.

5. You: Yes! You, World. For reasons I have yet to discern, you do a lot of stupid things during the Christmas season. Whether they be simple family traditions, like shoveling your snowy roof so “Santa can land” (we all know how that ends), or a collective trend that sweeps entire nations, like sticking a half-dead tree in your living room and covering it with an electrical prayer for fire, I will never understand most of what makes you tick in these festive times, nor will I attempt to replicate any of it. I do, however, know one thing: it’s a shit load funnier than anything on TV right now. God I hate Tim Allen.

Happy December,

Prav

The world is getting taller.

I’m not just saying this as a 5’9” Indian guy living in a city of American giants (although seriously, the subway handles can’t get any higher – I stretch enough as it is). I’m saying this because it’s a well established anthropological fact; today’s average human is roughly 10 centimeters (~4 inches) taller than the industrial male circa 1865. At this pace, by 2160 the average American male in his 20′s will be 6’2”, although with the increase in sexual activity seen over the past 100 years, I’m guessing the slope of that graph is continually increasing. ‘Giggity’ is the warranted expression, I believe.

But why is this important? This is a good thing, right? Obviously the evolutionary justification of this is that tall people are more apt at certain tasks (reaching the cereal box on the top shelf, for example). In the event of a nuclear holocaust where all food items are inexplicably transported to higher ground, the taller portion of the population would more readily survive barring any trace of sharing or kindness, which probably won’t exist by then anyways given that Barney the Dinosaur was only about 5’8”, give or take. We’re getting taller because it’s undoubtedly prudent to our survivial, right?

Wrong! Recent studies have shown that families in lower socioeconomic classes are more likely to have shorter children than their wealthy genetic counterparts, AND they have an average of one more child per family. Run these numbers passed old Charles Darwin and he’ll tell you that technically we should be getting shorter! Genetically speaking, the alleles for shortness are outcompeting those for tallness in our growing population – so why is it that we keeping getting taller?! The answer my friends, is women.

It is the only logical explanation to this evolutionary phenomenon. Allow me, dear reader, to give you a very brief lesson in Darwinism: evolutionary change in a species is prompted by one thing, increased fitness. ‘Fitness’ is the ability of an organism to survive and reproduce; therefore, if a particular trait increases our chances of reproduction, it will slowly become more and more prevalent in our gene pool over time, as those without it are progressively weeded out on the path to extinction. But what sexually associated trait has gotten more and more abundant over, say, the past 150 years? That’s right…do you follow me now?

Women like tall men, and thus, men are continually adapting in a way that will make it easier for us to get into their pan…I mean, reproduce (I know, I’m so romantic). The male species is quite literally changing to suit the sexual preferences of women, but what does this mean for the 5-foot-something contingent? Obviously the rate-limiting step to our extinction is that not ALL women have the same taste in men, but because there is a majority vote, we as short males hold the ticking time bomb of vertical challenge.

However, could it be that we are looking at this the wrong way? Could it be that instead of facing extinction, we may be in for our greatest century yet? While evolution has shown mate selection to revolve around survival, it excludes the aspect of a woman’s desire, something that Darwin’s finches forgot to mention while they were flipping through the Fall Collection from Saks. You see, women often want what they cannot have, and as we currently stand in short supply (no pun intended), us humbly heighted fellows are branded by modern day economic theory as the more desirable population of the two.

To make matters even better, as men get taller every day, evolutionary drive becomes further overshadowed by human fancy. If every decision we made were based on primitive survival instinct, we would still be wearing loin cloths and holding spears (range of motion is key when dueling with wild animals). But as you can tell by looking around your office – most of us are not. At some point in history, a woman looked at a pair of stilettos and said “I’d get eaten by a lion for these”, and proceeded to put them on. In these days of our ‘limited edition’ lifestyle, we only want what is least accessible to us, and for women, that could soon be me, the 5’9” diamond at the end of the bar.

In fact, in my professional opinion, that time could come as soon as tonight. The human race is growing faster than you can even imagine, and soon there will be no traces of people like me to enjoy. Gone will be the days of eye contact during sex; vanquished, the concept of hand holding or even basic conversation. Logistically speaking, it just won’t happen; men will be too tall. So I urge you, women of the world, to take a dive in the shorter end of the gene pool before it’s too late. Find your sub-6-foot Romeo before he is lost in the clouds forever; time is short, so make the best of it with a short guy today.

Happy Friday,

Prav

Bros in the Workplace

Posted: November 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

Michael Scott, CEbro

Every year a million and a one new articles are written about women in the workplace. Mind you, this is not a bad thing. Women endured centuries of unjust treatment, only to claw their way out from the depths of subservience by the well manicured fingernails of a brave few. They, as a gender, have earned the respect of the everyday male executive who, quite frankly, didn’t do a damn thing to earn his say in corporate America. That being said…

This post is about Bros.

What is a bro, you ask? A Bro is a matter-of-fact man, a simple swain. He likes his scotch neat, his desk messy and his women somewhere in between the two. He works with efficiency, pace, and the understanding that the hours he keeps are only as numerous as the zeroes on his paycheck. Businesses want him, women desire him, men envy him. He has goals and he reaches them; failure is not, and never was, an option.

On the surface, the success of the Bro appears to be a solo job. This, however, could not be further from the truth. While the Don Drapers of America often stand alone at the pinnacle of prosperity, the true secret behind the triumph of the Bro is the underlying teamwork that contributes to their respective successes; their bro-llaboration, if you will. While members of other demographics might climb over one another on their way up the corporate ladder, the Bro recognizes unequaled value in the synergy of diverse talents. We see this at every level of business; from mail room to penthouse, the power of brah-thority is derived from the Bros’ ability to rely on one another.

Take for example my current position as a research tech. To do my job effectively, I have to overcome the morbidly slow administrative offices that plague every corner of campus (i.e. courier services, animal husbandry coordinators etc.). Now while many might become frustrated with these rate-limiting steps, I have found ways to circumvent these productivity blunders using simple camaraderie. For example, when I need a package rushed up from receiving, I call Roy, my package delivery bro. You see, by simply Cc’ing Roy’s supervisor on my thank you emails to him, I get my temperature sensitive enzymes in the freezer where they belong, and Roy gets to enjoy hassle-free hourly cigarettes on the loading dock, where they don’t.

This win-win scenario is a staple of the Bro’s fruition, no matter how big or small the victories. The use of a bro-2-bro support system is well established in the career paths of many historical figures: Watson had Crick, Johnson had Johnson, Goldman has Sachs; even Super Mario had bros (they were very successful plumbers and yes, plural, don’t forget about Broshi). The past has done nothing but prove to us that to succeed in the workplace, one simply cannot take all matters upon oneself; responsibility is best vanquished when tackled in tandem, and the best part is this – gender has nothing to do with it.

Yes, even women can have, and be, workplace bros – because being a bro isn’t about suits and skirts; the most important component of both bro-dom and business is trust. Trust is a prerequisite to every promotion, and without it we are doomed to simply remain. It is only once we have proven our reliability, that we become the employees that our bosses want us to be; and from this very necessity, the workplace bro is born.

Come Monday, make an effort to be the bro in a co-workers life, because whether they’re signing the bonus check or cashing it themselves, no CEO ever made it without the occasional leg-up from a friend. Don’t make your job more difficult than it needs to be! What bros around comes around, so pack a few beers in the office mini-fridge and get chummy with your secretary. Those faxes aren’t going to send themselves…or are they, bro?

#occupyHalloween

Posted: October 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

The day is upon us, faithful followers. Halloween Friday has arrived. Here commences the greatest weekend to be a New Yorker; a two day rejuvenation of our childhood spirit, the rekindling of puerile pleasantries covered in chocolate, dunked in scotch and set free to roam the uninhibited streets of the Lower East Side. This weekend, between the hours of 6pm and 6am, we are immune to it all, vaccinated against embarrasment and shame, shielded from the viral droll of responsibility and political correctness. Forget about the grey hair you just found on your pillow, disregard the bills that drape your kitchen counter, for today the dayspring air cuts not your cigarette laden lungs, old timer. Today we celebrate the pot-scraping remains of our youth, the wild side we left on the graduation stage, the party animal we tamed year(s) ago. Throw away your Tide To-Go Pen New York; let’s put some pizza stains on those costumes.

No matter what last minute do-up you landed on (Occupy Wall Street protestor, most likely), Halloween is the acknowledgment of our vitality, proof to ourselves that we’ve still got it in us, that second wind that keeps the party ship sailing. While each successive birthday puts more hair on your chest (ladies exempt), Halloweens shave years off our character, if only for one or two nights at a time. It is, by all definitions of the word, a holiday, and one that allows us to celebrate the most sacred thing of all: our youth.

No matter how old or boring we get, we will always have that one weekend in October, when the back door of restraint is left slightly ajar, allowing the sweet, pumpkin scented liberation to waft in. Even when the days of walking are behind us, the stumbles of our Halloween nights remain enshrined in our memories forever (some more polished than others). It is our yearly reminder that, no matter how smart/tailored/responsible/mature we get (all good things, mind you), we will always have these two days to be whomever we wish to be. For some, that may be Poppa Bear, following around his cubs on a night of trick or treating. For others, an actual Beer with lots of it in him. Whether you’re with your family making memories, or at the bar destroying them, Halloween is the time to leave your troubles in the pockets of your street clothes, and enjoy acting (and dressing like) a mental patient for the night.

So this weekend, whether you’re a Zombie, Sarah Palin’s Presidency, the Fifteenth Season of Greys Anatomy or some other terrifying mythical existence, don’t forget to let loose a little. Say yes to the after party. Sneak Reeses Pieces with your kids after bedtime. Watch the sun rise as the costumes walk home (my personal favorite Halloween activity). Come Monday it’s back to being you, and as much fun as that can be, it’s the costume you get to wear every weekend until next year.

Happy Halloween,

Barry Badrinath from Beerfest or The Human Hashtag (I still have 3 hours to decide)

Robot Apocalypse

Posted: October 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

My iPhone legitimately scares me. The new product from Apple is, in my humble opinion, the ominous crack in the ice preceding what could only be the fall of mankind as we know it. We will soon be incapable of doing anything by ourselves, outsourcing every simple task to a pile of circuits kept at arms length at all times. In 30 years, if a human so much as wants to take a walk, he or she will do so vicariously through a piece of metal that hovers above the sidewalk and does it for them. This day marks the beginning of the end of human activity; stand up and stretch your legs, it may be the last time you ever do.

The fear first precipitated last week during my morning commute. As I walked down 1st Avenue, Siri, my robot butler, read to me the scheduled proceedings of my day in her usual electronic inflection (the voice suggests a white female, however, a Japanese accent would certainly be more reflective of the device’s inner circuitry). The more I walked, the more foolish I felt, blabbing commands out into the open air as each face that walked passed me showed more and more confusion. As the phone has only been on the market for about a week now, it seems the public has yet to become accustomed to seeing people converse with their mobile devices over a cup of coffee and their morning bagel.

My guess is it won’t take much longer to set in; with a growing number of voice-operated devices on the technological horizon, it seems that the morning briefing a-la-robot will soon become a staple of the American commute. We will no longer have walking buddies or subway pals, as from 8:30 to 9 every day millions will float to work between two headphones, impervious to the happenings around them. It’s not like we hadn’t already been chained to our portable devices. With each passing year, our generation has slipped deeper and deeper into dependency on its electronic sidekicks. Before smartphones came tablets and computers, before which were palm pilots, younger only to the digital voice-note recorder circa 1995. Today we send emails in seconds without so much as lifting a finger. Tomorrow we’ll do everything from bed with our minds running the latest cat-assigned operating system from Apple (iOS Snow Ocelot, by that point I’m sure).

Let me tell you what scares me about this. When I was growing up, I was exposed to a number of movies with plots that were set in ‘the future’. Cinematically speaking, the nature of this ‘future’ has always been portrayed such that it seems unattainable in any reasonable amount of time (i.e. sometime long from now, in a galaxy far, far away etc. etc.) One such example is a little film by the name of Star Trek, you may have heard of it. However, readers of an 80′s birthdate or older will now realize that aspects of these ‘futuristic’ movies are beginning to pop up in our everyday lives (see: talking phone robot). Even more so, the new iPhone robo-squeeze is no ordinary cyborg (in fact, she possesses just enough personality to be likened to your run-of-the-mill goth chick). She understands pop culture references, sarcastic dialogue and even knows a few knock knock jokes herself. In short, she is your newest, and nosiest friend.

She knows everything about you: where you live, what food you like, who your mother is, where she lives, what food she likes and the best subway route to use to deliver it to her personally (or the most scenic bicycle path, if you are so inclined). Yesterday’s playful robotic pets have taken on a more humanistic dimension, and with it, the sub ordinance of the machine dissolves into the solvent of our blind bewliderment. As technology becomes more and more advanced, it weaves itself tighter into the fibers of our daily activities, and soon enough, we won’t know what to do without it. We are living out the first five minutes of  ‘iRobot’, and if Will Smith taught us anything with that wretched film, it is this: nothing good begins with robot servants.

My point, dear reader, is this. The robot apocalypse, while probably not for at least another 4 or 5 years, is inevitable, and we have little time to appreciate the simpler aspects of our primitive technology: the sound of a special girl’s voice on the other end of a phone call, the promiscuity in a winking emoticon, the drawn out exchange of a 12 digit Blackberry pin, scrawled across a damp bar napkin for lack of a better medium. Now is the time to find beauty in a frozen blue screen, admire the colors in the pinwheel, count the grains of sand in the hourglass. Replace an email with a letter, make a phone call instead of a text. As we enter into a new era of automation, the archaic feeling of a button being pressed has been replaced by the cold sensation of touch-screen glass. The days of Nintendo cartridges and MIDI players are behind us, my friends. As Face to face becomes Facetime to Facetime, do not forfeit the experience of unadulterated human interaction. We are evolving into a world of binary, but life is so much more than just a 1 or a 0.

So before you make the leap to the next smartphone, take a moment to appreciate the flaws in your old one, because soon enough there won’t be any. One sunny day, you will wake up, and the flaw will be you. You will be the last imperfection in a technologically immaculate world, a world you will get to admire…all the way to the recycling bin.

Happy Monday,

Prav

This post was created from my iPhone; please excuse any spelling errors, grammatical lapses or subliminal marketing for Apple.

I am at work right now.

Why is this relevant, you ask? Because today is Columbus Day, and today, I should not be at work. Today I should be laying in the grass at Central Park, counting the very clouds under which Cristobal himself laid waste to thousands of [who really cares], just before planting his Spanish flag in the very soil on which they slept.

“But Prav, Columbus didn’t really DISCOVER the new world, he just blah blah blah blah sexually repressed douchebag with no friends!”

I. Don’t. Care. Let me tell you something about public holidays (come a little closer cause this one’s a big secret): nobody gives a shit. Public holidays have never been about celebrating our history because, quite honestly, American history is a pretty dark subject. Columbus ripped a few loin cloths and island hopped like Jimmy Buffet until he died, the British drank tea, owned slaves and did almost nothing for 300 years until someone with an uglier wig kicked them out, at which point America was born and somewhere amidst four wars and a depression it sucked to be black and/or a woman…and then we made George Bush president. Public holidays are not about the bloody footsteps America has tracked through the halls of time, they are about the wonderful freedoms that became of them…

Public holidays are about rewarding YOU, the dedicated citizens that make this world turn, with a day of rest and relaxation in honor of your diligence. President’s Day, Independence Day, The-Day-After-Thanksgiving…these are simply excuses (great excuses, mind you) to compensate the hard working masses under the facade of stale pride in something that happened umteen years before us. Columbus day isn’t about the man himself, just as Thanksgiving isn’t about Pilgrims and New Years isn’t about astrology. No one cares that he brought citrus fruits to the western world, or that he landed in the Bahamas on October 12th; we care that he did it on a Monday between Labor Day and Turkey Night. What we celebrate is not the history behind the date, but our ability to celebrate it; because we worked hard for the sleep-ins, we worked hard for the beer, and we worked damn hard for the hour long specials of Dancing With The Stars. We take the day off because we can, thanks to men like Christopher Columbus who took what they wanted, when they wanted it.

Yet here I sit. Colonized by the burden of labwork. Conquered by a mountain of emails. Adrift in a sea of melancholy as I stare out my window and watch guidos fist pump through the streets. Oh Christopher, you tyrannical dog, it must be truly be your day indeed. At least I have my orange juice.

Today is Monday,

Prav