17. We were like carrot and peas stick ...
Oct 24th 2008, Boston, MA

(Ed: It is always nice to meet someone who gets 'wit' and intellectual play. This one is a stylized and shortened version of a conversation with someone I just met at a conference, and after 15 mins of gab and funny talk ...

She: (playing) Ah, but Sundar, you seem so tense before me.
Me: (playing back the joke) Hmm, you think it's because you are intelligent, beautiful and have a great personality?
(As we were talking, we were simultaneously eating a salad, and I dropped a small piece of carrot.)
She: (not revealing a blush, but continuing the banter..) So you are tense! See you just dropped a carrot.
Me: Yes! But I can give some good stick (For a reference to the joke see here)

16. Random Banter ...
Aug 12th 2008, Mountain View, CA,

(Ed: I incidentally happened to attend Sadia Shepard's book reading on, "The Girl from Foreign" at Books Inc. in Mountain View. I am at the checkout counter paying for the book. After some random conversation with the girl at the counter ...)

Me: Look, she signed it. When she's famous, this will be worth more than the book.
Girl: (lightening up) Good for you, but for now you have to pay. Can you sign the credit card bill?
Me: (playfully, grinning and asking for it) Nothing like an intelligent man's signature to keep for posterity?
Girl: (with an immediate put down!) Oh, I haven't seen any today.
Me: (with a quick recovery) Me too. You dont have any mirrors in the store, do you?

15. The Art of Trash (Track) Talking ...
July 1st 2008, Stanford, CA,

(Ed: I am running on the Stanford track, with ex-track coach goddess Dina Evans. The world knows that Dina can run, ... and she can run fast. But Dina can talk and play even better. She decides to take on two Olympic Qualifier studs, Garrett Heath (OQ1) and Russell Brown (OQ2), and I happen to be a convenient guinea pig.).

Dina: (teasingly, and taking them on) Watch out guys. He just did a 93 (sec) on a 400 (metres)! (Ed: Pitiable by many standards but hey, if Dina knows, then Dina knows ...)
Garrett: (playfully) Well, but can he do a mile under 4 (minutes)?
Dina: (with an equally prompt repartee) Not really, but do you have a Ph.D in Computer Science?

14. Four Wives too many ...
Sep 19th 2007, Hong Kong,

(Ed: G1 is yours sincerly, J1 is a Hong Kong boy, with whom I got chatting with. After more than an hour of random conversation, the discussion turns to women and marriage).

J1: So you are allowed to have 4 wives?
G1: Why do you say that?
J1: I thought Muslims are allowed to have 4 wives.
G1: (Playing along as a Muslim ...) Oh. But, most Muslims only have one wife.
J1: Oh. Really? I didnt know that.
G1: Well unfortunately, there's not that many women to go around with :-(
G1: (Throwing in the shock value!) - Especially with all that female infanticide in my country. Damn! They are killing the wrong gender you know..
J1: (Not quite getting in on the joke) Oh. I see.
G1: By the way, just curious, what makes you think (me being the only brown boy in the pub) I am a Muslim?
J1: Well you are from India. Right?
G1: Hmm. But most Indians aren't Muslim.
J1: Oh. But I thought Indians ...
G1: You thought wrong. Try Indonesia? Same continent, different country -- See, they have more water, we have more land. :-)
J1: (Refuses to catch the joke.) Well then you are ..?
G1: I guess I was born Hindu.
J1: What does that mean?
G1: That means, I am a bloody atheist! (Dawkins, be pleased! Standard Disclaimer: No offense meant to anyone or any religion; its organized and pushy evangelism that I detest.)

13. Cleanliness is next to ...
Mar 18th 2007, Kyoto, Japan

(Ed: G1 is yours sincerly, J1 is Kana, a random Japanese lady, with whom I got chatting at Kyoto in Japan).

G1: (Attempting to start a random conversation) You are 26, aren't you?
J1: Hai! (Said in a high pitch voice, that's Japanese for Yes!)
G1: (Throwing in the shock value) You look single?
J1: Hai! (Another lucky guess..)
G1: You speak good English?
J1: Yes!
G1: You are from Kyoto!
J1: Yes! (That's an easy one, we were in Kyoto Station)
(After some random conversation..)
J1: So what do you like the most about Japan?
G1: Its so spotlessly clean. I simply couldnt find any litter anywhere. Its way cleaner than the US, and of course India.
J1: Well it was not so many years back. But the government and education helped change that.
G1: You know what we call clean land in India?
J1: What?
G1: A foreign country! (ed: Kinda obvious --- I am plenty proud of India, but not jingoistic that I cant joke about her.)

12. Spread the Left Leg......
Mar 17th 2007, Mt. Fuji, Japan

(Ed: J1 is a Japanese person, the following is a bit crude and ribald - but related verbatim, - dont blame the messenger)

J1: "First spread the left leg and insert it. And then spread the right leg, so that it is now between the two legs. But wait ... We don't open the legs. We rub the legs together gently, and then let it go up slowly. When it reaches the top, you will have your own personal eruption ..."

(Ed: That BTW is our guide describing how to do the Origami (Japanese paper craft) for creating a paper replica of a mountain with a volcano, during our trip to Mt. Fuji in Japan. The legs refer to the legs of the paper mountain, and the eruption refers to the piece of paper which slides up the Origami. Obviously, the innocent man was completely oblivious, and didnt quite understand why he had the whole tour bus laughing out loud ...

11. What not to say in Hiroshima ....
Mar 15th 2007, Hiroshima, Japan

(Ed: We have just landed at Hiroshima airport from Tokyo. G1 is yours sincerly, G2 is an Australian colleague, A1 is an American passenger) -

G1: (Attempts to start a random conversation). You are not from the US, are you?
A1: Yes, I am.
G1: You've been to Hiroshima before?
A1: No. My first time actually.
(Ridiculous idea for an insensitive joke, flashes in G1's mind. Right brain pleads in agony to shut up; but how can you let this moment pass?. Obvious to say,... no dis-respect meant to the people of Hiroshima.)
G1: Ah, but your people have been here?
A1: (Stares for a second, pauses and gets the reference). Gosh. Yes. My people!
G2: (with an absolutely brilliant repartee). And I hear they made quite an impact..

10. How to get a British Visa in 3 easy steps!
Feb 18th 2007, Los Angeles, CA

(Ed: An excerpt of our conversation that took place when we went to get a British visa at the Los Angeles consulate. Lady at counter is (LY), Two Indian guys from Cisco Systems are (G1) and (G2) (aka yours truly). Note: Dangerous stunt follows; could backfine; not to be attempted without some discretion!..) (Ed: Note this is not exactly accidental comedy, but its too funny to not be replicated..)

LY: Hey. So you are the Cisco guys from San Francisco?
G1: Yes. We are.
LY: Why are you going to the UK?
G2: We are attending a friend's wedding.
(Random conversation, and after looking at the application).
LY: You are single?
G2: (Attempts to play verbally) Yes. A man can afford to be single till he's 60, you know :-)
LY: Do you intend to marry, settle down or buy property in the UK?
G1: (smartly sensing her mood) Its a wedding. We'll be looking!
G2: (Points to G1) - He's gonna hit on them British chicks, you know.
(Grins broadly)
LY: You are from India?
G1: Yes.
G2: (Intended to say, but G1 answers first) Yes. You know from that exotic land from the other side of the planet.
LY: You guys believe in arranged marriage?
G2: Well. Not really. But we are from the younger generation. We believe in True Love!(Ed: True Tender Love has a more wicked ring to it)!
LY: I hear that they are still pretty common in India.
G2: Well. Yes. Come to India! We will set you up!
(Breaks out into laughter; more random conversation).
LY: Okay. So come at 2 'o' clock to pick up your visas.
G2: (Trying for sympathy). You think we could get the visas earlier? That way we could catch an earlier flight back and get back to work.
G1: (Forgetting to play along). No. We are not gonna work today.
G2: (thinking: Dude, please please play along with da sympathy card!)
LY: (Being generous and providing empathy) Oh you dont want to get back to work today, its a very nice day!
G2: Yes. We will probably go shopping in Los Angeles.
LY: Okay. In which case come back in an hour. I will give you your visas.
G2: (Trying to continue the conversation..) Okay. One hour?
G1: (Playing for time).. May be we will hang out and catch breakfast.
G2: (Appearing a touch sad). Yeah. Maybe we'll just kill an hour..
LY: Guys, if you wait a couple minutes, I will print your visas right away!
G2: (With sincere and honest appreciation) You know, we gotta tell you this; we never had a better service at any consulate uptil now.
LY: Oh thank you! and Welcome to the United Kingdom.

9. Myopic and Blind - Double Whammy!
Sep 2006, Foster City, CA

With Jenny my dance partner.
Jenny: (to a random person on the dance hall) So he is gonna dance blind...
Person: Really?
Me: Yes. I bought this blindfold to cover my eyes. Should be fun
Person: So you are gonna take off your glasses? (to put the blindfolds on when dancing)
Me: Yes. I guess I am gonna be myopic too ...

8. Cheque Mate
Aug 2006, Palo Alto, CA

At home in Palo Alto with my good friend Kamakshi (Ed - Perhaps the best example of accidental situational comedy)
Me: Careful with the soup.
Kamakshi: Why?
Me: Dont spill it. There's stuff on the table.
Kamakshi: Hah. Big Deal. Its not like there is a million dollar cheque there.
Me: Actually, in this case that is exactly what's there. Here, let me move it away.

7. What Part of Yes do you...?
July 2006, Stanford, CA

On Stanford University campus, with Suchi
Me: Yes. I will do it.
Suchi: Are you sure?
Me: Yes. I will take care of it.
Suchi: Really Sandy boy?
Me: Yes. Its fine.
Suchi: That's so nice. Really?
Me: Soooch dear, what part of yes do you not understand?

6. Cactii are rarely parched, but then some are never...
2005, Palo Alto, CA

At home with Katie looking at my 3 tiny bonsai plants.
Katie: So you are keeping cactii?
Me: Yup. The cactii need very little water, just once a week or so; so I am hoping I wont kill them. Killing a plant is not good luck right?
Katie: (A few minutes later after a very close scrutiny) This one looks artifical.
Me: Really? I bought them all from the same section at the Target garden and plant outlet.
Katie: No see. Poke below the root, its stryofoam... Look - The other two are natural.
Katie: (after a little while and with a big grin) You have been watering it all this time, haven't you?

5. Another F**king Hindu?
Apr 2003, Los Angeles, CA

Towards the end of a particularly interesting and unsuccessful proselytizing session with a frustrated Mormon evangelist, when filling up at a gas station in Los Angeles.
Mormon Guy: So then you don't believe in family?
Me: Yes I do, but not in the "Church of Latter Day Saints".
Mormon Guy: What about your wife? (pointing to lady in car)
Me: Oh. That's not my wife (Ed - just my good and smart friend Sanhita)
Mormon Guy: You seem to be from India?
Me: Yes, I am.
Mormon Guy: (Now getting very flustered). You are just a f**king Hindu are'nt you?
Me: No. Actually, I am just a f**king atheist! (Standard Disclaimer: No offense to anyone or any religion; its organized religion and pushy evangelism that I detest)

4. Dont Overlook an Overlook.
Aug 2002, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Driving on vacation with Mom in a very scenic and hilly part of the Appalachians as we pass another sign for an 'Overlook Point'.
Me: Should we halt here?
Mom: Maybe a bit further.
Me: Okay. But you said that last time too. This looks like a pretty scenic spot to stop at.
Mom: Well okay. But I dont get it. Why does the government have all these signs, to overlook it? (Perhaps there's better spots to look at ahead?)

3. Never ask a (Good) Girl for a Quickie
Mar 2002, Stanford, CA

My learning experiences with American slang, aka. the difference between quick and quickie. Excerpt from an email sent to a girl -
Me: "... and I was wondering whether you would like to catch up for coffee at the Coho? We could make it a quickie?"
(Ed: The CoHo is the abbreviation of coffee house on Stanford campus. Oh, In case you were wondering... She didn't reply!)

2. It wasnt my fault, it was San Andreas fault
Jan 1999, Stanford, CA

Rohit sitting next to the computer at our dorm on Stanford Campus, engaged in a random conversation...
Rohit: San Francisco is in a very earthquake prone area. It is quite near the San Andreas fault.
Me: Cool. I hear that there is a place from where you can see the fault line. Lets find out where it is ...
Rohit: (Ever so well prepared and cautious about everything. Begins to look up directions online). I would hate to be anywhere close to it.
Rohit: (Reading from the web site) "The San Andreas Fault is situated .. San Francisco... Bay Area.. .... blah blah"
Me: Hmm. Its kinda close by ...
Rohit: "From San Francisco, take US Highway 101 South towards San Jose."
Me: Ah this is nearby ...
Rohit: "Drive 30 miles south towards Palo Alto."
Me: Hmm.. Getting kinda close...
Rohit: (still reading) "take the Page Mill Road exit towards Stanford University.... " (ROTFL moment!)

1. Read my Lips, not my Palm Dear ...
Sep 3rd 1998, Menlo Park, CA

After parking my bike, and helping a lady palm reader on El Camino put up her store sign.
Palmist: Thank you. That was very kind of you.
Me: Oh. No problem.
Palmist: Where are you from son?
Me: India.
Palmist: Oh! How long have you been here?
Me: (with a smug look) 26 hours
Palmist: Ah! Welcome to the land of opportunity! Son, come in. It's 10 dollars off for you, and I will read your future.
Me: Land of opportunity right? Sorry Ma'am - I make my own future.

Last modified: Thu Dec 28th 09:15:23 PDT 2006