Sunday, February 10, 2008

Office Shenanigans

On Friday I was told, “good luck,” at least a dozen times after my willingness to participate in an office-wide Indian roast. I was to sit on stage and field questions from hundreds of coworkers, and tested critically on my wit and ability to respond to inquiries like “who killed the dead sea,” and “why is a manhole cover called a manhole cover?” Bollywood sound cues told me if my Shakespearean wit had failed or won the crowd.

When the tables turned and I was able to ask questions to my counterparts, I asked the office director, “Who’s a luckier man, Saif Ali Khan or Abishek Bacchan?” For those not versed in Bollywood gossip, Saif and Abishek are movie stars married (ostensibly in Saif’s case, based on recent reports and the large arm tatoo of Kareena’s name) to gorgeous Indian women, each with his own set of virtues and vices. For example, Saif has royal blood, and is a decendent of a former cricket captain and Nobel Prize laureate, while Abishek is married to Miss World Aishwarya Rai but lives in the shadow of his father, a man known across the sub-continent on every billboard and whiskey ad as the “Big B.” My question alluded to one obvious consideration, though the director parried my blow with a deft non-sequiter and a smile offering to keep it “family safe.”

Again, I asked, “in cricket, why are the ‘slips’ the guys with the surest hands?” After good laughs, laconic wit, and a general attempt to embrace the awkwardness that comes while sitting in front of 200 co-workers with an umbrella drink, being judged with Bollywood jingles, and walking the line between humor and homelessness, I survived.

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