Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fido and Augie's great escape

Last week I had one of the most heart-wrenching and emotionally-charged encounter.

It was a regular evening after work. Zubin and I were chit-chatting and catching up on the day's events. One SMS from our friend changed the course of that evening, and transformed it into an emotional roller coaster. Our friend, Kiran, came home after a long day at work to find a big hole in his garden wall and two missing dogs - Fido: a German Shepherd and Augie: a Labrador Retriever. It was 11.00 PM. Without second thought, Zubin and I were in the car, heading straight to Kiran's place.

It was like being in a Hardy Boys novel - the clue - a big gaping hole, the missing "people" - 2 fur balls who've never been out alone in the big, bad world, and the despairing family member - sad, confused, and worried about his "boys".

The search was on.

Zubin and Kiran drove off to scout the streets of Frazer Town, and I waited at the gate, in case the two flea-bags showed up at home. As I paced up and down, I hoped and prayed that the Fido and Augie were safe, had the sense to stay on the pavement, and didn't talk to strangers.

60-minutes later, no sign of them, and the 3 of us hysterical, near tears, and inching towards total panic. We split up again - this time me and Zubin in the car, and Kiran on a scooter. We went from street to street, alley to alley, running into large packs of street mutts, who came bounding to say hello, as we frantically asked, "Did you folks happen to bark at a big black German Shepherd and a white klutz of a Labrador?"

Another 2 hours later, we'd met all the street mutts within a 5-km radius, interrogated all the security guards in the area, and held back several floods of tears.

2.00 AM: Two men and a woman standing on the street consoling each other, "we'll start the search again in the morning. We'll print flyers and put them up."

Zubin and I got into the car feeling hopeless and weepy. We were ambling along and had just turned the corner, when Zubin heard a pack of street mutts barking loudly. "What are they barking at? Look! Look!", he hollered. As we peered around the corner, we saw something big and hairy go past. "That's Fido," yelled Zubin, and we were speeding down the road, shouting "Fido, here boy, here." It was him. It was Fido! Hallelujah!

The look of relief and happiness on Fido's face, and the joy in his big brown eyes that said, "You guys know me!" is something I will never forget. We ran across the street into a furry embrace. Gasping for breath, we made a happy phone-call to Kiran, who found the frightened and wounded warrior - Augie - on his way to pick up Fido. Talk about good luck!

It was a big reunion. Several hugs and "don't ever do this to me again" proclamations later, Fido and Augie were piled into the car, and the entourage trailed to Kiran's house. All five of us - Fido, Augie, Kiran, Zubin, and self - relieved and happy to be home.

As we drove home with big, dumb grins and a warm, gooey feeling inside, I realized once again that these four-legged "people" have such a huge impact on our lives. They become such a big part of our very being that the thought of losing them is unbearable. They love you unconditionally and stand by you when no one else does.

To Fido and Augie - friends, huggables, fuzz-therapy experts.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The demise of etiquette

Etiquette. It's a big word. It's also a word not many people in Corporate India understand. I meet these ill-mannered people every day. It starts early in the morning at work, when one is waiting for the elevator to arrive. The gentleman in his shiny black shoes has seen you waiting patiently before him. But when the elevator arrives, he shoves you with his "branded" laptop case and storms into the waiting elevator. So what on earth were the rest of us waiting in line before "Mr. Shove-my-way-to-the-elevator" doing? Posing for the surveillance camera?

Another sign of lacking etiquette is the "clan congregation." The mini-Bengali association loudly discussing weekend plans at the pantry, as the non-Bengalis at the next table try desperately to communicate over the din. The Telugu ladies club who monopolize the wash-basins at the rest room to discuss special, home-made potato face packs. And the Akhila-Kannada "samiti", which must meet at the cafeteria food counter to analyze the poor consistency of the "Bissi Bele Bhaat", while others waiting in line starve.

One might learn to live with Mr. Shove-my-way-to-the-elevator and the Bengali association. But when some one coughs over your fruit-bowl - it's time to revolt. I mean, c'mon, have you heard of a handkerchief or may be a just a hand over the germ-spewing mouth?

I wonder whether these people are socially stunted or just plain stupid. It's frustrating to see educated men and women, from premier B-schools, working in multi-national corporations behave like inconsiderate, uncouth morons.

I have tried everything. Humble requests, subtle retaliation, blatant retaliation, sarcasm. But these idiots prevail.

Perhaps B-schools should teach the value of good manners, and Corporate India should have social etiquette training during employee induction programs. Until this happens, I will continue to glare at the man shoving his way into the elevator, and drinking my coffee in silence.