Sigh Fie, Chen High, episode 3: A day in the life

Written in


Aadi 28, 3672

The Studio

7.30 am. tHTV (The Hindu TV), Mount Road.

ENROM kept itself busy, as work was rather light. It spent its spare CPU cycles detecting and documenting all the in-jokes in movies like MMKR and Kaadhala Kaadhala, to see if there was any credence to Mohan’s Law, which stated that any repeated viewing of a Crazy Mohan scripted movie will reveal N new jokes where N is an integer > 0.

Back in 3674 AD, when Wolfram Omicron finally passed the GQHMT test, every one wanted one. The Hindu TV channel named its new computing beast, ENROM. Once it arrived, it became obvious that managers and senior editors were obsolete. All one had to do was ask ENROM to make editorial or broadcasting decisions, and more often than not, it did a pretty good job (and when it did not, at least it didn’t try to cover its rear cooling vents and blame others)

“So ENROM, Situation 1 – we have 8 people dead from a very cool sounding, new virus called H1B1. It is a neural degenerative disease that causes people to stand in long lines under the hot sun outside the US consulate, just to be humiliated by a consular officer who tosses a coin underneath his table to decide whether or not to allow a human being access to a part of the world bounded by artificial lines called national boundaries.

“8 dead, and 5000 potentially infected as we speak.

“And situation 2 – 1000s are dying daily from drug resistant TB. By the 37th century, TB is not just drug resistant, but diagnosis-resistant.

“And situation 3 – Oh well, the usual stuff. Farmers committing suicide because Air Monsoon Inc, the rainwater irrigation company declined to deliver water to farmers who were not creditworthy.

“Tell us which story to run with.”

“Hmm. Go with 1. You see, news has to be fresh, it’s after all the plural of “new”. Dying farmers and TB is not news. It’s old hat, practically bowler, in fact.

“Thanks ENROM, good choice”

“And oh, one last thing – title your story “Death by Queue”, and feature dark ominous music in the background. Gustav Holst’s Mars: Bringer of War might be appropriate..”

The Club

11:00 am. T-Nagar quadrant

It was the day of the week when the Triskaideclub met at a ramshackle building that formerly housed the Hindi Prachaar Sabha in T-Nagar quadrant.
The Club of 13 was a group of Tamil people who could count in Hindi only till the number 13 because that’s as far as Madhuri Dixit gets to in the opening lines of her legendary hit, Ek Do Teen. Technically, she does get to 25 by the second stanza, but nobody remembers those lines anyway. Founded by a disgruntled linguist whose theory of language elegance was poo-poohed by the establishment, the Triskaideclub was seeing a upswing in interest in the recent past. Perhaps the re-re-release of the Ek Do Teen Re-Remix album had something to do with it

Manik Basha, the linguist in question, had, in his prime, introduced a new and controversial language elegance scale based on the number of unique words one had to learn in order to count from 0 to 100. An excerpt from his cult whitepaper –

“In Mandarin, one has to learn 12 words to count from 0 to 100 – Just the words for 0 through 10 and 100. All numbers in between use an elegant X * Y + Z formula, where for e.g, 45 would be represented as 4 (times) 10 (plus) 5 – Tsu Shu Wu

In Hindi, on the other hand, one has to learn almost 70 unique words to count till 100. For instance, 35 is Painthees, and 55 is Pachpan.

While Mandarin and Japanese were at the top of his leaderboard, Hindi was at the bottom because of its ridiculous system for numbers, and that was a problem with the university that employed him – the Advanced Metaphysical Institute for Trumpeting Hindi (AMITH), who fired him as soon as his white paper hit the front page of reddit (“Hindi sucks. Here’s proof (SFW)”)

He went on to found the Club of 13 as a 37th century equivalent of the Anti-Hindi movements of the mid-20th century, with one crucial difference. Unlike the  overly passionate and often illogical Dravidian ideologues who vehemently opposed the language back in the 1960s, members of the Club of 13 proudly displayed their utter disinterest in Hindi by refusing to learn Hindi numbers beyond 13. Thanks to Madhuri.

The Force

2.30 pm. Saidapet Hyperpolis

Back at the HQ of the Amit_123 Response and Interception Vanguard Unit (ARIVU), the alarms were beeping, and the boys were ready. What was it this time? A quality-of-chappathi complaint? A snide comment on the adipose excess in Tamil heroes? The squad typically beamed over to the scene of the crime and politely, but firmly explained to the guilty parties that ARIVU will not tolerate that sort of nonsense anymore.

But this time, something was different. The complaint read that the perp had claimed in public earshot that the Thirukkural was actually written by Rabindranath Tagore, but he chose to create a fictional character called Thiruvalluvar (with similar looks though) because of a concern for local cultural sensitivities.

This was different. This was an Omit_123 problem.

The Joke

6.45 pm. South Mada Hyperavenue Comedy Club

The stand-up comic sipped on his pansolaric coffeeblaster. If there was any nervousness, it was no where to be seen. This was a tough audience, they said. All of them social media empaths, with brains directly wired to the web, rss feeds of detailed show reviews emanating directly from the amygdala, opinions posted instantly on twitter with #(comicname)sux or #(comicname)rox tags. You crack this audience, you go viral, they told him.

It was almost time. He walked out on to the stage, to complete silence, just a smattering of tweets and facebook statuses emanating from the real hardcore blink reviewers, the ones who formed opinions at first sight. He took a deep breath and asked – “Did you guys know that geeky girls like mounting hard disks?”

There was a deep booming sound, as a large aquatic mammal held afloat by small birds wafted ( much as large aquatic mammals into the room. The Fail Whale looked him straight in the eye..well..about as much as whales can look a human straight in the eye. You see, they have eyes on the sides, but it did not really matter. When a whale wants you to think that it is looking you straight in the eye, you think it. End of matter. One does not mess with whales, especially not the Fail Whale.

“Mr Sankaranarayanan, is this your first gig?”

“Um. Yes. Is this about my opening joke?”

“Hmm. Yes. Joke, you say. Ok. Let’s christen that a joke, just for the moment, but I have to ask you this. Do you know what happens when elephants sneeze?”

“Um. Other elephants say ‘Bless you’?”

“No. when Elephants sneeze, little birds get alliteratively F-ed. First they get flustered, then they flutter, then fret, and finally fumble”

“Ah. ok, and your point being..”

“When you crack great jokes…”

“Ah Dhang you”

“Or cosmically atrocious ones like the one you just did..”


“These social media empaths go wild, and generate the equivalent of a consignment of elephant snot, to be expelled from the end of a trunk. They tweet (or is it really trumpet?) like crazy, and bring Twitter (and me) down”


“You see. Twitter is a little bird, not a reptile. It does not scale very well”

The Rap

10.00 pm. Thalappakattu Club, Santhome

The distinctly low-fi female voice was staccato, interspersed with pulse tones, but the smooth overlay of trance-inducing ambient synthesizers and syncopated trip-hop beats formed a unique counterpoint to the vocals. 10 DJs stood in a line, with mobile phone in one hand and operating DJ gear with the other. Some were dialing 121, others ICICI Bank’s customer care, and others BSNL, and so on. Their fingers were blurred as they pressed numbers of their keypad with practised ease and speed.

IVR Rap was the hottest new genre of music in town. The idea was to dial different Customer care/IVR systems and navigate rapidly to specific menus and parallelly slicing the options spoken into meaningful, often dark and ironic verse. And all of this had to be done live. Typically, it took at least 10 DJs, each one dialing different numbers, eliciting different menu options, and then editing the voice responses live, pausing, cutting, and overlaying that with synth and beats.

Press 1, Please press 1, Press 2, Please press 2
We value, value, we value, value, we value, your time
For new products, and outstanding amounts
Menu options have changed, welcome to the bill

The chorus went –

Any time, your estimated wait time is 5
press 9 to speak to a rep, good bye, good bye


27 responses to “Sigh Fie, Chen High, episode 3: A day in the life”

  1. Subbu Avatar

    Uber cool….just loved the RT TV look alike bit LOL…BTW your music genes did pop up a bit!

    Aadi 28 3672 ha…ha…ha

  2. naren Avatar

    Lol @ Club of 13! And Omit_123! And IVR rap (which has infinite possibilities). And Twitter is a bird!

    Too much!

  3. Harish R Avatar
    Harish R

    GDFTSFDWALTTWUMORHAWTMWAMSHTFPTMHLHAOLOL (Rolling on the floor after falling from my bed landing on an open water bottle, spilling water all over, while still having my headphones connected to the laptop, dragging my laptop along with me that resulted in the adapter getting disconnected from the socket, falling down with a loud thud that woke up my other roommate, he asking what the matter was, and me showing him this funny post that made him laugh his ass off, laughing out loud)

  4. Krish Raghav Avatar

    *Groan* at the Omit 123 punnage.

    Also, don’t forget the ludicrousness of Hindi phone numbers: Pachpan laakh paintees hazaar teen so nabbe, for example.

    1. philramble Avatar

      Pachpan – you mean phipty phaiv?

  5. RukmaniRam Avatar

    you know, sometimes you are very funny.

    1. krishashok Avatar

      Aw thank you 🙂

  6. Mani S Avatar

    IVR Rap.. LOL 🙂 Good one Krish 🙂

  7. ~uh~™ Avatar

    IVR Rap rocked.

  8. Anupama Avatar

    Awesome Post! Thoroughly enjoyed reading it!

  9. Dhananjay Avatar

    Douglas Adam would have been proud.

  10. mentalie Avatar

    IVR Rap is the soundtrack of my life and i never even realized what a fine art it was. i feel like such a bumpkin. and what must all the call centre executives i’ve been blowing off think of me? i must be right on top of the list of people not to invite to the ‘call centre cacophony for a cashless world concert’. crap.

  11. sriks7 Avatar

    You need to give us a tune to read the RAP by, or is IVP RAP coming out as a fully produced mp3 in a future post?

    Loved the Twit joke.

    Is it just me or do people feel that the lady in ICICI IVR, is secretly laughing at the caller?

    1. krishashok Avatar


      Of course she is laughing. In fact, I would say she is smirking diabolically beneath that facade of friendliness.

  12. Karthik Avatar

    ROFL@the rap and nice@news as plural of new.

  13. Ramesh Srivats Avatar

    Super. Madhuri’s count up to 13 was great. And IVR rap is just a mind-blowing concept.

  14. mithun Avatar

    Most Interesting .. new concepts indeed

  15. Arvind Avatar

    This article it seems to me has been influenced (infected?) by humour from Hitchikers guide … Great read though! Sitting at a coffee shop in Pittsburgh and this is the perfect companion to some smoking java 🙂

    1. Goutham Avatar

      What a coincidence. Was doing the very same thing in Pittsburgh myself. Time for Pittsburgh Krish Ashok Rasigar Mandram ?

  16. ganesh Avatar

    love the IVR….kewl blog

  17. Ranga Avatar

    wow! with every post one gets to read new concepts. your creativity is great – the IVR rap funda, like many who have pointed out is truly out of the world. in kaminey ftyle: it waf very good! fuperb ftuff!

  18. neethu Avatar

    thalaiva.. as usual kalakkite… eppadi unnaala mattum? cha…
    great going!

  19. Tastemaster Avatar

    The take on N.Ram was great. 🙂

  20. Kartik Avatar

    Awesome daaaaa!

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