Monday, March 22, 2004

St. Patrick's Day

An evening at Dunkin Donuts. The following text has been edited to be suitable for an universal audience. Exactly 123 expletives (in both Tamil and English) have been removed for this purpose. Any resemblance to real people and real events are purely coincidental.

The Phone Calls
Tuesday, March 9, 3:00pm - Thoppus wakes up.
4:00pm - Thoppus arrives in his lab.

[in his car] calls Thoppus [in his lab] at 4:15pm for coffee at Dunkin Donuts. Thoppus sends an email to Beauty Raja, since Beauty Raja's phone line has been disconnected for the n-th time by Verizon for not paying his bill. On the way to Dunkin Hari calls Naga. Naga as usual reaches Dunkin only after the episode is over. [Actually we don't know if he ever reached Dunkin, but we'll assume he did to be consistent with his character].

Ordering Procedure
Hari and Thoppus reach Dunkin. Our dear MexicanMaami is at the counter. She is like the Soup Nazi in Seinfeld. You will have to follow certain ordering procedures, otherwise you don't know what you are getting. The idea is to put yourself in a position of a person ordering coffee by sending a telegram. Keep the number of words spoken to the minimum and do not use long (greater than 5 words) sentences. Of course you don't need to end every sentence by a STOP. Actually you never know what you are getting, but after several controlled experiments it has been concluded that though the suggested ordering procedure doesn't guarantee good coffee, it saves considerable energy and time. This exercise of ordering coffee at Dunkin is also an intensely spiritual experience wherein you realise the futility of words and the power of silence. I guess this is what Ramana Maharishi professed.

Mexican Maami
Thoppus approaches the counter and shows 2 using his hand [like the AIADMK symbol, not the one you use to indicate nature's call] and the following conversation (if you can call it that) ensues.
Thops: 2 small; 1 cream, no sugar; 1 cream, sugar.
MM: 2 cream, 3 cream ??
Thops: [silence]
MM: 2 sugar, 3 sugar ??
Thops: [silence]
MM: [After mixing the coffee] More cream ?? Enough ?? More sugar ??
Thops: [silence]
After the coffees are ready...
Thops: Onion bagel, cream cheese.
MM: Onion ??
Thops: [Nods] Toasted.
MM: Toasted ??
MM: Cream cheese ??
Thops: Veggie

You must have noticed by now that the question usually follows the answer in conversations with the MexicanMaami

St. Patrick's Day
Beauty Raja and Sikkim join Hari and Thoppus. Thoppus explains the ordering procedure to Sikkim, and even after a couple of rehearsals he messes up, but still manages to get his coffee. The four sit down and for lack of other interesting topics the conversation shifts to St. Patrick's Day, since Dunkin Donuts is full of St. Patrick's Day stickers.
Thops: When is St. Patrick's Day?
Hari: I don't know.
Beauty Raja: I think it is on March 17.
Sikkim: What day is March 17?
Hari: March 17 is a Wednesday.
Sikkim: But St. Patrick's day is on a Tuesday?
Hari: Is it always on a Tuesday, like Good Friday, Ash Wednesday?
Sikkim: I don't know but this year it is on a Tuesday.

The Longest Day
Thops: These stickers have been around for a week, so I think it is actually St. Patrick's Week? May be it is St. Patrick's day in some other planet, which is equivalent to a week on Earth.
Hari: On which planet are days longer?
Beauty Raja: I think the planets farther away from the sun have longer days. So Pluto probably has longer days.
Hari: Why?
Sikkim: Because they are farther away.
Hari: No I think planets closer to the sun have longer days. Which is the planet closest to the Sun? Is it venus?
Thops: No it is Mercury.
Sikkim: Why do planets closer to the sun have longer days?
Hari: It is because planets closer to the sun get more sun light, because they are closer to the sun. So days are longer.
Hari then proceeds to draw a figure which illustrates the fact the planets closer to the sun get more light.
Sikkim: I don't think it is dependent on the distance from the sun. I think it has to do with the size of the planet. What is the largest planet?
Hari: Jupiter.
Beauty Raja: Saturn if you include the rings.
Hari: Why should you include the rings?
Beauty Raja: Saturn has more moons.
Hari: It doesn't matter I think Mercury has longer days. By induction, on the Sun days are the longest right? So people won't get old if they are on the sun.
Sikkim: But it is not possible to stay on the sun.
Hari: Let us assume that it is possible. Say a new born baby is wrapped in protective material to withstand 20000degC.
Sikkim: Actually I think Sun is hotter. More like 20000000degC.
Hari: But there are black spots which are cooler.
Sikkim: There are very few black spots dude.
Hari: But they are still there right?

Thops: Whats up with the 3 leaved clover [sticker]. I thought you have to have 4 leaves for it to be lucky.
Hari: Acutally is it a leaf [refering to the sticker]? It looks more like a tree.
After looking at another sticker which had a pot of gold and the leaf/tree, both of similar dimensions...
Hari: No It has to be a leaf. See that sticker. You cannot have a sombhu [a vessel] which is as big as a tree, so it has to be a leaf.
Sikkim: Man this coffee is really good. I am going to get one more.
Thops: You remember the ordering procedure right.
Sikkim: Yes. 1 medium, 3 cream, 4 sugar - right.
Thops: Yes but that still doesn't mean that the coffee is going to be as good as the one you just had. The quality of coffee is a random function. You cannot predict it to even the smallest degree of accuracy.

Trivial Pursuits
Sikkim: What day is it?
Hari: Wednesday.
Sikkim: Oh shit.
Hari: What happened?
Sikkim: Yesterday was Tuesday.
Hari: Obviously.
Sikkim: I should have go to that Irish pub yesterday. They have a trivia quiz. We should go sometime.
Hari: Do you have to drink to participate.
Sikkim: No you don't have to. But you'll have to go in a group of around 5.
Hari: Why?
Sikkim: There will be a lot of Fuqua students dude. They come in big teams and kill. So you'll have to have at least 5 people to have any chance.
Thops: If they ask questions about Ilayaraja or cricket I can answer. Actually I used to remember a lot of trivia about cricket. I am not sure now.
Beauty Raja: I can handle trivia about soccer.
Sikkim: Dude it is not that easy. What do you know about European leagues. Do you know who scored the maximum number of goals last year?
Thops: Forget European league. Who won the soccer world cup in 1976?
Beauty Raja: Brazil.
Thops: Dude there was no world cup in 1976. Ok. Who won in 1978?
Beauty Raja: Brazil.
Thops: Nope. Argentina. It was Argentina in 78, Italy in 82, Argentina in 86, Germany in 90, Brazil in 94, France in 98, and Brazil in 2002.
Thops: Where was the world cup held in 78?
Beauty Raja: Brazil.
Thops: I think it was one of the guay countries, Uruguay or Paraguay.
Hari: Yeah.
Hari: Ok forget soccer. How many times has England won the World Cup?
Beauty Raja: Twice.
Hari: England has never won the world cup dude.
Thops: Hows the coffee dude?
Sikkim: Not anywhere close to the previous one.
Thops: See I told you.
Hari: Why don't you ask Mexican Maami when St. Patrick's Day is? I'll buy you a coffee if you do that. Actually since you have already had coffee, I will buy you water.

Rotational Gravity
Hari is trying to make a helicopter with the paper napkin - unsuccesfully. Beauty Raja, who is sitting across from Hari, pitches in with his ideas. He blow from his side and Hari blow from the other side. This idea is to create a torque which will spin the helicopter. Hari and Beauty Raja try this, but Beauty Raja blows too hard, and the papercopter flies away, much to the disappointment of Hari. This leads us to the next conversation about the nature of gravity.
Beauty Raja: What if gravity is rotational?
Sikkim: Rotational gravity !!! What the hell do you mean dude?
Beauty Raja: Rotational gravity means, if something is dropped from a height it will spin while falling down.
Sikkim: What axis will it spin around?
Beauty Raja: Vertical. Like a top. Hari demonstrates this with a coffee cup.
Sikkim: So if gravity is rotational then everything will be constantly spinning.
Beauty Raja: Right. That will be really cool. So if people are not facing each other, how will they talk to each other.
Thops: Why does that matter? Sound is not directional. Sound diffracts.
Beauty Raja: Where do you put the headlights on the cars, if they are always spinning?
Hari: Even before that, how will translational motion occur.
Thops: I think it will be like a top. You usually observe a translational motion while a top is spinning right.
Beauty Raja: Right. Who is that director who makes movies in which the hero spins tops on the heroine's belly?
Thops: Actually Balachander started it, but a Telugu director...What's his name...aah Raghavendra Rao extracted the maximum out of his heroine's bellies. He used to have scenes where the hero throws fruits on the heroine's belly. It started with grapes, then oranges, apples, and kept increasing in size.
Thops: [tamil] En kaathali thoppula suthee bambarathe vuttu vuttu, kadaiseela ethu thoppul ethu bambarathu aani kaayumne theriyalle paa.[tamil]
Hari: [tamil] Bayangara karpulle peiyaa irukum pole irukku. [tamil]
Thops: What's a top's motion called?
Sikkim: It's been a long time man.
Hari: I think it is called precession. Yeah precession.
Sikkim: So cars will move like tops.
Beauty Raja: Right. But I guess cops don't need to have spinning lights now, since the car is already spinning.
Sikkim: If gravity has no linear component then how will things stay on earth and not fly away?
Beauty Raja: It is like a helicopter dude. The blades are spinning and actually that is what gives the helicopter the ability to hover in one place.
Thops: I think gravity IS rotational but as a consequence of it being a linear force, so not inherently rotational. If this coffee cup were really long and big, then the force acting on different parts of the cup will be different and this will create a torque. So if the cup is dropped from some place really high, it will rotate but not as Hari demonstrated.
Thops: Actually rotational, linear is all relative. It depends on the frame of reference.

You You You You
Hari is now engrossed in making another papercopter. But this time it is an assembled one. Each person contributes one blade. And as expected the end product fails to rotate, and the topic shifts to origami.
Hari: Sikkim can you make a "kathhi" kappal man.
Sikkim: What's that?
Hari: It is a paper boat with a sword underneath.
Sikkim: A sword underneath?
Hari then proceeds to make a paper boat and attaches a "kathhi" at the bottom (since he also does not know to make a kathhi kappal).
Hari: See like this.
Sikkim: Yeah I get the idea.
Thoppus: [tamil] Namba JB ille. Avar kitte oru vinodhamana pazhakam undu. Avar enge thanniye paathaalum kappal panni vuda arambichiduvaaru. Athuvum ethule? Rubaa notele. Ippo kooda naan JB kitte panam vanganumnaa, oru bucket nariya thanniye veppaen. Avarum rubaa notele kappal panni viduvaaru. Naan pirichu payile vechipaen.[tamil]
Beauty Raja: Whats that other thing that they make with paper - with the cups and stuff?
Thoppus: Four cups
Beauty Raja: Right, four cups.
Thoppus proceeds to make a 4-cups with a paper napkin and demonstrates the way it operates.
Thoppus: In our hostel treasure hunt we had a clue based on 4-cups. The clue was UUUU. U was the fail grade and we used to call it a cup. You had to fold the paper, make a 4-cups and then you will see the answer inside.
Beauty Raja: What's that thing they say when they do that [showing the 4-cups operation]?
Thoppus: You say Racing car number 9, drinking petrol all the time, what color do you choose and then choose a color. Then do it again and choose, say a number. And based on the combination of color and number you have to do something.
Hari: I think you can also use inky pinky ponky.
Sikkim: What about shaa-boo-three?
Thoppus: We are four people here dude. So it has to be shaa-boo-four.
Sikkim: Can you make a ball with paper?
Hari crumbles a paper napkin and says
Hari: Like this?
Sikkim: No dude. You can actually make an air filled ball. It is a little difficult with paper napkins, but I'll try.
Sikkim proceeds to make a ball, and tries to inflate it - unsuccessfully. His creation still looks like a crumped mass of paper, similar to what Hari did. A few paper planes were also made, followed by some discussion about the paper-plane flying competition at games in Cameron (during half time), sponsored by Delta airlines.
Hari: Sikkim why don't you aks Mexican Maami when St. Patrick's day is.
Sikkim gathers some courage and asks Mexican Maami.
Sikkim: Do you know when is St. Patrick's day?
MM: When?
Sikkim: Yeah when is St. Patrick's day?
MM: What?
Sikkim: St. Patrick's day [points to the stickers] when?
MM: I don't know. Came week back and put up.
Hari partially (actually redundant) hears what she says
Hari: So it was last week man.
Sikkim: No dude. They put up all the stickers last week, that's what she said.
Hari: I owe you a coffee dude.
Thops: All right that enough intellectual discussion for today. Lets go.
Beauty Raja: Nee enge pore.
Thops: Veetukku. Ennoda cooking turn.
Hari: Machee naan lateaa varuvaen. Group meeting irukku.

5:30pm - people disperse.

St. Patrick's Day was actually on March 17, 2004. Wednesday. All the St. Patrick's Day decoration from Dunkin came off the next day except one "Kiss Me I'm Irish" sticker, which Hari flicked. It is supposed to go on Beauty Raja's car, but ended up in Thoppus' car. On March 22, 2004 it was transfered to Beauty Raja's t-shirt, and will probably end up in his car soon.

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