Friday, May 23, 2008

The Katta Syndrome

A collection of guys around something, chatting about nothing specific, cracking jokes, "breaking balls"**, and regrouping at consistent intervals is called a Katta. Katta is more commonly used word in some regions of India, but i guess Adda is also popularly used to refer to a place/spot where guys collect.

I have come to think that Katta is probably one of the top five necessities of a guy. [Tongue in cheek - I am not going to spell out the top necessity]

A guy will invariably figure a way out to group with his dudes - if it's not for a smoke, it would be for a coffee break, if not that, may be a foos game in office.

Ever since i stopped smoking, i needed some avenue to get out of my desk once in a while and do something non-work related. I discovered foosball. One of the best stress busters i have experienced. The cafeteria area near Foosball table is probably the second most visited place in our office; next only to meetings :)

In some sense Foosball has provided us with that Katta feeling. Some fridays people have beer in their hands and gather around the table. Most jokes, most comments, wisecracks happen around table. But i am inclined to believe if we did not have a foosball table, dudes would figure out something else. But not let go that Katta necessity so easy.

Like one guy at work place is big on Guitar Hero. So he goes inside the meeting rooms, hookes up his game to the big wide LCD and collects a few guys and they have a ball. Last week, for the Champions League finals, for Man United - Chelsea game, a huge crowd collected around a dudes laptop to see last few minutes of that awesome match. Some other guy was smarter. He hooked his laptop to the 50' LCD screen in the conference room.
[In case someone's getting wrong ideas; yeah we do work!!!]

Point really is, most people like to chat, hang around a bit. Whether using a game or a live match as an excuse or not, there's a definite need for people to group. There are exceptions to the rule. There are some folks in my office, who would just sit at their desks all day and work. But i am not sure their productivity is higher than us.

Chicago downtown is full of such Kattas. My favorite is "All Stars". I am going to bet anyone, that the Hot Chicken Wings at All Stars is better than anywhere else.At times, our group has ordered like 40 wings amongst 7-8 dudes;all wings getting over in a jiffy. On a typical work day, you'd find a whole bunch of people hanging in those bars and catching on the latest MLB/NBA/NFL game. These sports bars are nothing but paid Kattas IMHO. They provide the necessary platform for that Katta-giri i mentioned.

So is Katta-giri universal?

YES is the resounding answer. It totally is. No doubt about it. Watch Sopranos (the term, "breaking balls", i picked from) It is a good example of that. How the Italinos believe in the Katta thing. How they break balls and crack jokes around a table is very relatable. Both the American and UK versions of "The Office" give a good peak into the Katta-giri of both the nations. We all know how Europeans in general have the Katta thing going on with the enormous pub culture clubbed with Soccer passion. I am sure this holds true in China,Japan,Australia and where have you. All places have theirs.

Countries in the world have their own Kattas in some form or the other. In India the "cutting" chai replaces Beer at a Katta. The cutting chai is the single most drunk beverage in India. It beats the second best (whatever it is) by a few hundred light years. At any street corner or a Katta, it is the sip of that chai that keeps the talk going. Chai is the quintessential Katta drink of India. The awfully sweet, sometimes muddy chai cup is the lubricant for a smooth conversation at Katta.

For any guy who could not relate to this article or have not been a part of this Katta culture - i can only say - TOO BAD. You surely have missed something priceless.


Blue Bike said...

The ManU Chelsea game was awesome, I was supporting ManU while most of my Israeli colleagues were rooting for Chelsea since the Chelsea coach was former Maccabi Haifa.
Even before the penalties, I'd declared that Ryan Giggs shall score the decider while John Terry shall miss ... and so it happened :) Now people are scared of playing poker with me :D

Kaunteya said...

@blue bike : i was rooting for Chelsea, the underdogs,.. like your Israeli folks :)

i thot the game was almost won when Ronaldo (of all the people) messed it up in shoot out.

Blue Bike said...

My colleagues almost started celebrations but as I said ... both my predictions fell in place :)

Btw I really feel sorry that England did not make to the Euro 2008 Finals... I did not even realize this till now, since I took it forgranted that brits would qualify

Rathchakra said...

Very well written about a sub-culture that truly is universal. I have seen this in all the cities, countries i have visited thus far. These kattas is where probably a lot of great ideas were born- many great movie/tv show scripts, book ideas and music can trace its origin to a "katta".