Tag Archives: Humor

Travel Story, Continued

I walk into the room… and on the table, is this vase full of gorgeous orange roses!


And a cake decorated with fresh strawberries and marbled chocolate pieces… inscribed with the message, ‘WITH BEST COMPLIMENTS’.


On closer look, I’m even more surprised… propped up against the cake is a card bearing my name! So it is not a mistake after all!


As if on cue, there is a knock on the door. The guy at the door introduces himself as the assistant manager of the hotel. He wants to know whether I liked the flowers and the cake. I assure him on that count. Yes, they are beautiful, but why? Why? He is honest with his answer… ‘Ma’am, the general manager saw your note and he was very angry with me. He has asked me to get your opinion reversed before you leave the hotel in a week. Ma’am, I’ll bring any colour flowers, any cake you want… you have to give me a good service comment before you leave’.

All this came pouring out in a stream. Finally when he stopped for breath, I told him nothing of that sort will be necessary… I’ll be happy to write a note appreciating the good service as long as the service is good. No flowers or cakes will be necessary for that. ‘No ma’am, I have to make sure you are happy. Otherwise, GM will be very annoyed with me. You have to write a note when you leave, ma’am’. It takes much reassurance to finally get rid of him.

And goodies keep appearing in my room on a daily basis. Flowers, fruits, chocolates…


Gerberas in a bamboo vase…


Big bunch of red roses…


Red roses, white asters and yellow sprays…


Another lovely gerbera…


A solitary red rose, chocolates, fruits…


Yellow roses and purple orchids, fruits, chocolates…

The march of the goodies continue through the week, increasing my discomfort with the whole situation. I can’t wait to get away from the place.

Soon, it is the weekend. A close friend of mine is visiting me, to do some sightseeing. She will go back Sunday and I’ll be leaving on Monday night. We spend the whole of Saturday checking out the historical and touristy places of the city and get back to the hotel by late evening. Too bushed to go out for dinner, we decide to go to the hotel dining room. The dinner is good, with live musical entertainment.

And it is Monday and checkout time. I can see the assistant manager hovering in the background, in case he needs to remind me of the good feedback. But he has nothing to fear; there has been no further fiascos on the service front. I’ll be writing that ‘note’ he so much wanted.

Though this is an official trip, I ask the front desk to separate the room and food expenses as I’ll be using my personal card to pay for the expenses for my friend. I get the accounts for food and it doesn’t look right. It’s way more than what I had expected. I do a mental calculation again, and yes, it is almost twice what it should be. I ask to see the individual checks. The man glances through them before handing them over to me and tells me, ‘ma’am, it is the check for the Saturday dinner’.

I zero in on that bill and see that it is a huge one… I mean really huge. A dozen or so beers, big platters of chicken and fish and plenty of desserts. Apparently the check for a large party. I look at the signature at the bottom and of course, it is not mine. I point out this little discrepancy to the front desk man.

He calls for the waiter in charge of the table, there are whispered conferences, of course joined by the assistant manager. The front desk man comes back to me with a sheepish face… ‘ma’am, there was some mistake; it was the check for another table which was accidentally placed under your account. I’ll right away prepare a new one’.

I look around for the assistant manager… he is nowhere around. Happily, I realise… I have seen the last of him! 🙂



05 Sep 2014

A Travel Story

It was an official trip. The salt mines I work at, wanted me to go and set up a team of writers in a remote city in a remote country, both of which shall remain unnamed. I had identified and recruited a talented team long distance and now was going to meet them. All in all I’ll be staying for a week.


I reached the city in the evening. The hotel was booked by our company travel department; and though it was one of those that charged exorbitant rates for corporate from the US, I had to stick with the official choice. The only good thing I could discern about the place was that it had fairly well-reviewed dining facilities so that I wouldn’t have to venture out for dinner after a day’s work.


So I check in. It is the standard room, with heavy dark furnishings and hardly any view to speak of. I am glad to see there is a coffee machine, but I see just this one measly packet of coffee, nowhere near enough to jog me out of my jet lag, when morning comes. So I call the front office, as per the information found in the room, and ask for more coffee. “Yes ma’am, it will be there in a minute”, the response was prompt.


I watch some TV, and aiming for an early night, decide to go for dinner. Realising that the coffee has not yet arrived, I call the front office again. The poor things are shocked that the coffee has not been brought yet. They are ready to have it delivered right away, but as I am on my way out, they promise that it will be in my room when I get back from dinner. Good enough already!


I saunter back to my room after a fairly okay dinner. And… you guessed it, no coffee! By this time, I’m getting a bit on the pissed side, and call the front office immediately. As can be expected, they can’t believe their ears! “No coffee? Really no coffee delivered to the room?” Another promise to take care of it at once.


Settling down with my book, I wait for the angel of coffee. Half an hour, no angel. By this time that coffee packet has moved from a ‘want’ to a ‘desperate need’. Finally I get out of the room and head for the front office to take delivery of the coffee personally. Around the corner, who do I meet? The coffee angel himself! Not one, but two coffee packets in hand! I know there is no point in asking him what took him so long; the definite answer would be that he rushed with the coffee the moment he was told about it.


So the next morning I drop a two-line note into the suggestions box, suggesting that they should at least take care of the basic needs of their guests and not make them call the front office three times for something as simple as a coffee packet.


By the time my work day is over, I am in a semi-zombie state, being pretty badly jet-lagged. I step into the room, ready to drop onto the bed, and am stopped dead in my tracks… immediately, I know it is a mistake, there is no other explanation!

To be continued…



02 Sep 2014

More About Fun Beliefs

So what were we talking about? Yeah, superstitions! It is amazing how widespread these beliefs are and how many situations and topics they touch upon.
There is no question that these beliefs originate in the fertile imagination of people who are quite conversant with the social norms and conventions of the time. As a result, many of these beliefs are aimed at guiding people’s behavior in the socially desirable directions.
My fifth grade class had undertaken a project, under the guidance of our science teacher, to investigate the origins of superstitions. Her inference was that what we call superstitions today had logical reasons behind them, at sometime in the past.
One of the ideas that we looked at was the common local belief that if you look in the mirror with oil on your face or hair, you will get black spots on your face! And it all seemed so simple after we had a serious guided discussion about it…
In olden times, mirrors were a luxury item found only in rich homes. And where would they be located? Of course, in the ladies’ chambers along with rich draperies and silk beds. And what would happen if someone goes there with oil on their face? They are bound to get oil on these fabrics. But are many people likely to listen to that logical argument? No way, they want to see how their oily faces look in the mirror! But would anybody risk getting black spots on their faces for that fleeting look? Of course not! A perfect example of skilful mind control, I would say. Though no longer relevant today, the belief lives on!
Many of these beliefs are harmless and definitely chuckle-worthy. Take for instance, these amusing ones…
In Philippines, after visiting a dead person in a funeral home, you are advised not to go directly back to your home. You guessed it; the spirit of the dead might follow you home! So wander around a bit, go get a coffee, or just go for a very boring movie. I think the aim would be to convince the spirit that following you is not all that fun, after all!
A common belief in Korea is that the spirits of dead people do not go straight to their destination, but linger around for 6 weeks. So unless you want vengeance from a ghost, do not speak ill of them; they can hear you! (Nothing is said about misguiding them as to where you live, though!) 🙂
This might interest the dog lovers among my readers… you know I’m talking about you! In Germany, when a pet dog dies, its body is buried under the front door step, in the belief that the dog’s spirit will continue to protect the home from thieves. Talk about eternal burdens… the poor dog has to be at work even after death!
It is considered lucky in Venezuela for women to wear yellow underwear on New Year’s eve. Maybe because the color of gold is yellow? Okay okay, let’s not take that thought any further. 😉
And Philippinos believe that wearing polka dot designs on New Year’s day brings you money. This was told to me by my boss who is from Philippines. Yep, I have taken a selfie in all polka dots on last New Year’s day and plan to send that to the boss close to bonus time!
Do you like soft boiled eggs? Make sure that you poke the spoon through the bottom of the shell after you finish eating the eggs. At least, that is what the Brits are supposed to do, to release the bad spirits.
If you are part of a Russian family eating dinner, it is better to be careful about your cutlery – do not drop any of them to the floor. For, if you drop a fork or spoon, visit from a female guest is imminent. If you drop a knife on the other hand, a male guest is bound to visit you. And I refuse to ponder the implications or possible origins of that belief…
This one caught me by surprise… I have attended weddings in Denmark and this never happened. Still, it is fun to imagine… 😉
Apparently, it is a tradition in Denmark for the bride and groom at a wedding to cross dress, to confuse the evil spirits and keep them at bay.
I have no idea what the Hawaiians have against bananas, a perfectly harmless fruit. It is believed that if you bring bananas on a boat will bring bad luck to the fishermen and others on the boat. I would really love to know the origin of this belief, but can’t even make a guess.
The list goes on… it is fascinating when you take a serious look at these beliefs or superstitions. That is, as long as you don’t take them seriously. But it is real hard for many people to let go of beliefs that they have grown up with. Most often, education has nothing to do with it… the believers themselves will agree that it is not logical. Still, some lingering shadow in their mind will make them turn around thrice when a black cat crosses their path or throw some salt over their shoulder if they ever spill salt. To each, her/his own…




26 Aug 2014

Parodies: Better than Originals?!!

Early in life, I began watching, reading, and listening to parodies, spoofs or imitations that attempt to mock the original. It was also the same time I realized that I sort of enjoyed parodies more.

I don’t know if it is because of the inherent cynical humor and sarcasm or that I just liked humorous stuff better. I remember my uncle being a strong influence in this area. He is a huge fan of parody songs. While driving long distance in the car, he would play the parody songs in a loop and the whole family loved humming to the songs’ tunes. I wonder if this gave any newfound meaning to my child’s mind matching parodies to the actual creative products of the mind.
My interest in parodies sparked again when I recently watched The Hungover Games, a cross between The Hunger Games and The Hangover. The story is about how the main characters go about celebrating the bachelor party of their friend as in The Hangover. They do this by winning a fight as shown in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

The film has spoof elements from other movies too. A real parody in its true sense! It is so hilarious that I was Rolling On the Floor Laughing the whole time. That’s when my mind floated back to the first spoof movie I ever watched: Scary Movie, a horror comedy film, in 2000. Since then, there have been five sequels parodying the successful horror movies of the year. I read that the latest sequel, Scary Movie 5, released in 2013, based on Mama, did not really make it big at the box office.
Spoofing music videos is another common activity these days. And it all starts with the popular ones. There are many takes on the Happy video from Pharrell Williams, shot in cities and countries around the world. Though some of these are not necessarily spoofs, there have also been many of those spoof videos. Also, how can I not mention the most popular spoof video of 2013, the one on Miley Cyrus’ Wrecking Ball, featuring Nicolas Cage?!!
It was interesting to follow the news stream on the First Kiss youtube video that went viral and its parodies that came by soon after. The video shows 20 strangers kissing for the first time in front of the camera. Noted for its unconventional outlook on human relationships, the video was supposed to take on a greater meaning when it was found that it is actually launched as an ad campaign for a clothing store. Alas, this was disillusioning for the general public.

The parodies, as expected, were fun. The most popular parody of that video was a video from LA-based sketch comedy troupe, Pimm’s Girl. In television, the Colbert Report can be considered as the best parody talk show, where he assumes the persona of an ultra-conservative character and does it with a forever-straight face. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is another remarkable parody news program and many from the younger generation have declared that they get their news update from that program!


22 Apr 2014