Saturday, January 26, 2008


Life is wheezing past and before I realize, it would be beyond repair. At every juncture of my life prior to yesterday, I had pure confidence that I had all this life mystery sorted out. Before I moved to college, had acne and the physical realization of the fact that hairy apes were indeed my forefathers, I wasn't seriously aware that innocent fun would give way to lunatic responsibilities of life.

This gradual realization was painfully slow. School was just a necessary evil. Teachers were perhaps incompetent people thrown in from Jails, to allow our parents to have a jolly time while their liabilities were away. Dad and Mom were perhaps some people who had always been there, I didn't know why. I always wanted to be with them, a kind of dependency which I never questioned and was perhaps not concerned the least about. Only when my sister was born and I lost my coveted place in their bedroom to her that I had this "Buddha" enlightenment of the fact that there was something happening to my life which was, to say the least, disconcerting.

Closets suddenly became too small for me to hide. Even if I did manage to shove myself in, nobody would come looking for me and I had to come out myself and yell "Here I am!!!". Slowly and slowly many such symbolic closets grew too small for me and I find myself out of college, working a thankless 12 hours a day job for people who are as nice to me as the small claustrophobia-inducing wooden closets!

Why does life have to be this way? Why, at every stage of your life, you realize that the younger you were, the better off you were? When we know that younger is better, why can't life be the other way round? Growing Young instead of Old. Losing Age instead of gaining.

Imagine being a born a 80 year old with kids and grandkids to look after you (lets leave out the biology behind this to god).
You may rue your wrinkled skin and shriveled what not for now, but as you start losing age, the feeling can only turn for the better. In about 20 years time your retirement period would be over and at 60 you would probably land a top job. The first 20 years, however, would have some distressing moments as you see your grandkids grow young and vanish whence they came from. However, for you, things would only turn for the better. Teeth would grow "back", you would be able to walk on your own and surprisingly, as a 20 year "young" (lets call it that) you would earn more respect than a 20 year "old" would have - People would be listening to YOU instead of the other way round. In professional life, you would move down the hierarchy but you would have earned so much in the earlier part of your life to lose sleep over it. And for a fact, we know in this life that the higher you grow the more you realize how better off (except for the money) you were earlier. The vigour in your life would continue to grow. The slow drudging morning walk will give way to a jog. Grey hair will turn to black. Fat will turn into muscle. Belly will give way to abs. To the Young kids who teased you by calling you "oldie", you could retort back by saying "With one leg hanging in your womb, you should be nursing your last fews days, kiddo!".

You will start looking forward to your 30s when you will get rid of your wife and will finally get to flirt openly.

Time will come when jazzy kids who cared a naught for you, will finally come to be dependent on you. Then you would make them realize how respecting their parents would have given them a better childhood. In our life old people have to resign to whatever treatment they receive from their children (old age home, neglect etc). In this life, you will get payback time. Replace their Nikes, Jockeys and Playstations with Bata, Rupa and Ludo respectively. Bash them up, send them to boarding schools and when they return younger, sell off their toys to the local pawn shop.

Being 60 years young (20 year old otherwise) and looking back at your life, you would most likely not feel nostalgic about your life before. You would probably look ahead to the last 15 years of your life - a paradigm shift in the way people spend their last years - play hide and seek, get chased by mom, ride roller coasters, watch cartoon movies, get rocked in a crib and in the last few months, cry so hard and hoarse to keep your parents awake all night that they actually feel relieved when you are gone!!! Good riddance. No post-death guilt for your ghost too :-)

I can probably write a book on this stuff but by the time I complete it, I would probably be more old and miserable. Sitting here and hallucinating, I wish how nice it would have been, if atleast, Gandhi had grown younger, visited a trendy pub and after being knocked out, declared that 2nd October no longer be a dry day!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Travelling Alone

What is the greatest achievement of your life?
Here's mine : I travelled around Himachal Pradesh all by myself !! If you think its not much I have to remind you of the fact that I'm an eligible bachelor and Himachal Pradesh is full of dark, uninhabited jungles. Its not quite the same thing as the fields of Bihar, but its enough to drive a sissy up a mole hill.

An average student throughout my schooling, I was incredibly lucky to land a job that pays. Taking to the swamp like my cat takes to a pillow I settled smugly in a dark corner and have lived happily ever since. But every now and then a flea bite wakes me up from my serene existence and I begin to wonder if I've done enough with my time. Thats when I roll over on my back and ask myself: What is the coolest thing I've done?

Travelling alone is an adventure. More like a conquest actually. After carefully planning your course, you need to book tickets all by yourself. The first challenge is to get to the airport or train station in time, atleast on time. If negotiated safely you reach the battlefield where a host of critical decisions have to be made - which hotel, what's for lunch, what to see, is it worth the trouble...Finally you have to talk yourself into seeing those sights. All of this has to be done single handedly, without mum being around to give you those helpful tips. At the end of the week you begin to empathize with Alexander The Great. You understand his wish to return home.

That said there are numerous positives to travelling alone. You can be totally yourself. Consensus is easy to achieve. You call all the shots. Lunch is not shared with anybody. Staying away from human contact (metaphorically ofcourse) is a refreshing experience.

It is that time of the year when I have the urge to reassure myself that I'm still upto it. If you have a similar urge, you can join me on a lonely trip to the badlands of Mordor. What say you?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Straight from the *art

It has been a long long hiatus since the last blog. I often wonder what is that which inspires me to write. I spent some time thinking about it. When narcissism gave way to pragmatism and pragmatism waved me to soul searching, I realized what inspires me the most - hate. Sarcasm, scathing similes and wild ridicules seem to be the only things Wren and Martin ever taught me. And the feeling of somebody really appreciating this raw sense of humor is the incentive for me to think and churn out crap.
But then, I am no Charles Dickens or Wordsworth. Neither I have had an Oliver twisted life nor am I surrounded by daffodils to be engulfed with fertile imagination. Peace for me is weekend and Nature's beauty is a once in a year trip to a hill station. Every aspect of poetry has become a commodity in my life. I rhyme only to curse my job. I am in a trance only during meetings. Patriotism is my Indian passport which I want to trade for a green card. Love is a boring Yash Chopra hallucination. Spirituality is reminding God of the reward points I get for each prayer I say (Hey Hanumanji, I think its been 3 weeks since I committed my last paap. How about an MBA degree?). And then come the genres of poetry I have my life hinged on - Satires and Elegies. None of the people who I hate have died yet (Hanumanji, this is for you), still, I have elegies prepared for them, just in case. And while they live, I have in some corner of my brain, a tireless printing press churning out one sardonic satire followed by the next.
For all that stupid deification of love and all that is supposedly nice, hate is that which makes this world run. Without it, half of the world will come to a standstill. Imagine a Karunanidhi, a Thackeray, a Bin Laden without a hairy halo of hate - whoosh, they vanish! If Edison didn't hate darkness, he would not have invented a light bulb. If Alexander Graham Bell hadn't hated seeing the faces of the people he had to talk to, he wouldn't have invented a telephone! Likewise, every activity in the world today is to replace the things world hates with new things to hate later. To tell you the truth, I have already begun to hate the way I write.
Hence, I invite all you people who hated this blog to write hateful comments so that I can hate you all the more!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Now what?

It is such a pity that I have to earn a livelihood. Makes me wonder what I did in my previous life that merited a disqualification from inheriting an oil-well or an opium field in this life. I cant live with the fact that somebody out there has nothing better to do all day than draw on his hookah and ponder over which camel to bet his pile of gold on while I painstakingly crunch out line after line of bug infested code. It is such an unfair world.

Why do Mondays make us groan? More often than not people are inefficient at their jobs because they make uninformed choices. To a child, flashing lights and smart uniforms makes the fireman's job the perfect job. The sleek looks of an i-mac or the new Wii makes an eighteen year old wish he was a software engineer. The power of money draws young men into business. Wisdom makes old people retire. All but the last are examples of poor decisions.

For some reason there seems to be consensus that by the age of 18 one is fully capable of making important decisions. Electing the country's leader, taking a 100bhp vehicle onto the road, putting the bottle to your lips and choosing a career path all are part of a day's work once we hit that magic number. We step out confidently but before long we find ourselves in a situation much like that kid Prince found himself in - stuck in a hole deep down with no room to so much as sneeze. You goof up big enough and you'll be on national TV as well.

Coming back to my orginal problem, the milk has been spilt and now I'll look like an idiot if I cry. So how do I salvage the situation? How does a programmer at a typical Indian software company wriggle out of the hole he's stepped into? The obvious way out is to transmogrify into a manager and spend the rest of his working days looking important and making more uninformed decisions. Is there a more graceful way out?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Born with a silver bomb in my mouth

Now, Hyderabad: yet another bomb blast. Another set of people sent to heaven under the “Tatkal” scheme of the Holy Jehad. Terrorism was meant to be there for a symbolic purpose. To threaten and bring to knees a government, a religious group or an organization, by a spectacular and sudden display of gore and deathly intent. But the frequency with which these bombings are happening, it won’t be long before people stop caring for these bombings. Terror will become a misnomer in these attacks.
Terror will become so normal that deaths resulting from it would be deemed Natural. The Census organization will just add this to their mortality factor and the terrorists will be left scratching their heads. Imagine terrorists bombing the New Delhi railway station and Manmohan Singh yawning in his message to the nation and announcing a republic day parade appearance for those who miraculously escaped being killed, as compensation. It is indeed going to come to that. People will start having 8-9 children keeping a factor of 40% - 60% to be lost to bombings. Families not losing any of their members to bomb blasts for 10 years in a row, will be accused of sedition and siding with the terrorists, and sentenced to be killed by bombing.
Now, the infrastructure:
Instead of fire hydrants and electric poles, we will have land mines and dynamite sticks installed all over the towns and villages. Airtel and BSNL will install towers all throughout India with Nokia introducing a special button on all its Cell phones to facilitate remote detonations of bombs and mines. A roaming facility will also be introduced, wherein a certain Mr Hakla Memon on a business trip to Dodda in Kashmir would be able to detonate bombs at Malleswaram in Bangalore, paying only nominal extra charges. Incoming Calls: As incoming calls would inadvertently result in death due to explosion of the consumer, they will not be charged.
IIMs would introduce a two year PGDBM (Post Graduate Diploma in Dead Body Management) – Future DB managers will be taught how to best make money by selling, and reusing organs retrieved from the dead bodies. The rest of the remains would be used to make human coats for pet dogs and race horses.
Sotheby’s would auction famous severed heads, which would hang in the living rooms of the top terrorists. Imagine a roaring Bush face with two wooden horns in Osama’s living room!
Famous Supermodels like Naomi Campbell would walk down the ramp, having only one leg, with the other one (lost in a blast) replaced by an exotic false leg made of Paris Hilton’s hand!

The following jobs will remain for people depending on their availability of organs,

Two hands – Beggars/ Body scratchers (for itch-infected people without hands)
One hand missing – Software Engineers cum part-time body scratchers
Both hands missing and head intact – Surgeons
Both hands and head missing – Managers
Dead people/ Ghosts – Politicians

As of now, I am fit only for the Body scratcher job! Anybody with an itch???

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Of Paintings and Beatings

The latest thing to grab the country's attention is a row over the roughing up of an arts student by Modi's goons in Gujarat. Usually it doesnt take a justice of the Supreme Court to decide who is right and who is wrong in such matters. But this time it is a little different. Here the kid in question actually deserved a beating. By painting sleazy pictures of godesses and messiahs, he had done the equivalent of pinching an ass's bottom. It came as no surprise that he was kicked in the groin for his trouble. Justice served one might say. Not quite.

The self-proclaimed intellectuals claim that the self-proclaimed moral police have no right to take matters into their own hands. Being a free country, people are allowed to express themselves in any manner they see fit, they say. The ruffians involved in the acts of vandalism were not qualified to judge the pieces of art is another argument that has been put forth.

Modi's goons on the other hand allege that the pictures put on display grossly violated their sensibilities. Also they wonder where the intelligentsia was when there was a similar row over some cartoons that made light of the life of Mohammed the Prophet. Being men of action they desisted from further debate on the matter but assured the public of such interventions in future too if the need arises.

It is difficult to disagree with either partiy. One cannot agree with them either. Freedom of expression is no excuse to hurt another's feelings and you certainly dont need a degree in art to judge a painting. On the other hand violence cannot be justified and simply should not be condoned. Appropriate channels must be used when there is an infringement of one's rights or sensibilities.

So who is to blame? In an ideal situation, the courts or the police should have taken cogniscence of the paintings and dealt with it accordingly. But in a country that takes a decade to pronounce a person guilty of killing another in front of a hundred people, it would be foolhardy to expect any action in issues such as these. The consitution, rights and duties are today nothing but mere words that can be used to justify any action.

But before anything lofty can be achieved, people must be made to understand that laws are laws, not guidelines. Until such a time, it is either the Shariat or the Manusmriti from which the penal code derives from.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Crick Hate

So, the news is out. Mulayam Singh Yadav is to be the new coach of India for India’s Cricket Vision 2011. After toiling through the Caribbean world cup and losing to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, it is only fitting that India should return to a coach from the mainland. Cricket is war and it is indeed apt that we should follow the footsteps of our glorious history. It was in Maharabharata that we had last sought help from somebody from the Yadav clan. I’ll leave it to Kalyug to decide whether indeed Laloo is Balram and Mulayam is Krishna but the matter of fact is that great wars did not stop with Maharabharat. Gandhar is no longer with Mama Shakuni but in keeping with the high traditions, his successors, the Taliban, have been waging a war with the modern day Bakasur (America) which is intent on devouring any trace of oil or gas found in any land.
But we are speaking of Cricket here and think solemnly why a billion prayers were less effective than a million Bangladeshi prayers. The same people, half of whose population lives as refugees in India, are able to produce 11 players who more than match up to our demi-gods – Sachin, Saurav and Sehwag. So,….. where was the problem?
The problem is with allegiance. 11 Bangladeshis in a cricket team are 11 Bangladeshi cricketers. It is that simple. So, the Bangladeshis know who and what to pray for. But 11 Indians in a cricket team have 1100 identities. For a small analogy, let me take a small detour.
In the array of avatars that Indian Gods or demi-gods take, it really makes it difficult for the Indians to pray. Tell me, how of many of us pray for Vishnu? Ah yes Ram, Krishna, Parshuram, Balaji, Vyankateshwar, Vaman, King of Nepal… Perhaps, we as worshippers are so overwhelmed by quantity of worship (name chanting) that many of us forget the essence of Vishnu somewhere in the jungle of his many names.
Similarly, our demi-gods Sachin, Dhoni and Sehwag may be cricketers per se but I have seen our prayers translating more into increased sales for Pepsi, Sona Chandi chyavanprash and Angutha lagao TVS bikes rather than runs scored from their bats.
I think here lies the lack of focus not only for the cricketers but also for the fans who pray fervently for the success of their teams. Ironically, both the fans and the cricketers focus their attention on the same thing. While Fans form the macho-magnificent image of their heros from the commercials they see, the cricketers live in a make believe world of that image when on field. That is the reason why a Yuvraj Singh dives for a ball which was anyway going to stop before him while Sehwag runs like Carl lewis to beat the ball to the boundary (the poor ball follows to take the Silver medal!)! These are the kind of people who will finish last in a race even if they are the only ones running in that race!
Hence, it is time for Mulayam Singh Yadav to part with his experience to make the Indian Team as great as his Uttam Pradesh. As a former wrestler, he is also bringing together a strong fitness regime apart from the top notch hi-tech management team that will help him put his plans into action. To start with, all the players will have to play in a Dhoti. Dhoti will ensure that proper air circulation is maintained in the areas where our cricketers have their brains. Dhoti will also serve a cricketing purpose. Indian bats are unable to find contact with the ball. Hence, the ball would now get entangled in the Dhoti and the batsmen will be able to run till the other team’s players remember their class 12th probability lessons and mull their odds of getting the ball out of the Dhoti (or was it the Hat?).
Anyway, you will get to read about the rules in the newspapers. Lets talk about Mulayam’s team of consultants.

Raja Bhaiya – He will impart the training of ‘wicket capturing’ to the players. In the event of any opposition player staying for more than 2 overs at the wicket, the players will kick the bails off the wicket. The real art would be in convincing the Batsman to accept that he is out and walk to the pavilion. For that, adequate supply of “Kattas” – countrymade pistols, will be provided during the drinks break.

Mukhtar Ansari – He will supply the umpires for the match and pyres for the umpires who do not meet the match.

Amitabh Bachchan – He will feature in an inspiring ad-campaign “Indian team mein hai dum, kyunki inki Dhoti mein hai bomb”

Anil Ambani – He will market the famous Dhoti brand, MahinderSingh Dhoti!
and last but not the least,

Moninder Singh Pandher – All the team members not performing as expected would be sent to Nithari for a Personal Contact Programme.

This is Amar Singh, signing off for the day. Catch you tomorrow, same time for some exciting cricket updates and guess which great cricketing mind will be joining me tomorrow??........ Bedi! Awe not Bishen Singh..... Mandira Bedi!!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Talking Movies

Every now and then I reach a stage when I unequivocally feel that the censor board has outlived its purpose. Thats when somebody like Mel Gibson makes a movie like Apocalypto forcing me to give the matter a second thought. Its quite alright to say that people should be allowed to decide for themselves what they want to watch. The only downside to the argument is that it isnt particularly practical. One cant really decide if he wants to watch a film until he's already watched it. If, like me, you're one of those who can never leave a movie in the middle the problem becomes real. I'm still firmly of the opinion that the guys in the censor board should heel it. But atleast now I acknowledge the fact that the odd filmmaker would abuse their absence.

Apocalypto is a violent and graphic movie that aims to rationalize the colonization of the Americas by portraying the decay of the Mayan civilization. The plot is just another flavour of the oft repeated fugitive theme. Bunch of baddies ravage village, take hero captive. Hero does a Forrest Gump and runs back home. Baddies chase hero. Hero kills baddies. Throw in a some head chopping, heart eating and throat slitting and you have Apocalypto.

Gibson's motto is to leave nothing to the imagination. Consequently the average individual would want to watch Apocalypto on an empty stomach. What ain't inside can't come out. The movie begins with a bunch of guys dressed in loin cloths cutting up and biting into a tapir they've just hunted down. From there on it gets worse. A lot worse. If you aren't a surgeon or a serial killer you'll find all the blood and innards on show a little hard to handle.

The Academy has rewarded him with a few nominations for it. I'm sure it wasn't for story or screenplay as there isnt much of either. Costume design is ruled out because nobody really wears anything significant. For Mel's sake, I hope it wasn't for editing. I dont know what that leaves.

The best part of the movie is that its in Yucato Mayan with English sub-titles. That means there is a non-zero chance that you miss some of the scenes while you're trying to read what's being said.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Eye la!

Car headlights have always invaded my privacy. In a world where stares, grimaces and scorns speak for themselves (without even uttering a word), analogies are palpable even in inanimate things. I think it all began when I got a real bad stare as a scolding from one of my uncles. As a 4 year old, my high voltage vocal yearnings used to be a real persuasive weapon against my mom. Whenever things did not use to go my way, I used to invoke this Divyastra. Toys, sweets and chocolates not in my possession used to mock at me. From their exalted positions in the shop showcases they used to blaze in the arc lights making me feel like a street urchin with an urge that would have made me a pick-pocket had it not been for my upbringing. So it was – hanging like a monkey from my mom’s pony tail, I was shouting at the top of my tarzanesque voice demanding a Cadbury’s dairy milk chocolate, which I just saw in the hands of a not-so-deserving toddler ( How I used to hate all those ‘blessed’ dedh-phutiyas (although I myself was one) is another story. I used to wonder how the bloody hell they managed to find parents who could buy them what they wished). Anyway, while my mom was trying to fend me off as if I was the neighborhood Pomeranian (who always managed to scare my mom by his acrobatic skill of jumping and finding the pallu of her saree in his canine teeth), my Uncle suddenly gripped me underneath my armpits and brought me face to face with his eyes.
He had those bulging eyes which reminded me of the packets of milk which I used to burst by squeezing the other end and in the end getting splashed up and later bashed up(by my Dad). The next thing I knew was that I was scared. Suddenly my mouth had lost its connection from the brainwaves and I was feeling overpowered by the glare that I was getting. Without even speaking a word, my Uncle had silenced me. It was a relief to come out of his grip and glare but an incident a few days later made me realize that his eyes had stayed with me. I was crossing the road with my mom when I saw that green army truck (one of those old ones which had huge round headlights) go past. I felt as if it was gritting its teeth and glaring threateningly at vehicles and people ahead of it. I was immediately reminded of my Uncle. Since then, I have always been reminded of eyes when I look at car or truck headlights. All of them seem to emanate some kind of emotion. I remember the look of my maternal grandfather’s Ambassador. It had that look of a stern and stiff upper lipped IAS officer, just like my grandfather was. I had the feeling that it would not allow lowly Premier padminis, Jeeps and scooters even within 20 feet of its parking space. Although I think I saw it raise one of its eyebrows and smile at me once when it was to carry me to the Zoological garden with the whole army of my cousins. I have seen it bathe outside the garage in the backyard of my grandpa’s bungalow, when it used to spread its arms (doors apart) and relax while Devmuni, the driver used to apply soap and water to its body, armpits (door upholstery), legs (tyres) and nose (the ambassador logo). It was during those days that I really started to emote with cars. Even today I feel their headlights show their attitude.
Taking a look at these Chevrolet trucks today reminds me of burly carpenters, who have spent the whole days cutting huge oak trees with their saws. The doe-eyed Lexus reminds me of a middle-aged top executive who smiles artificially at everybody but avoids rubbing shoulders with the rabble that surrounds her. The Ferrari looks like an eagle which has been punished by Garuda, the lord of birds, to spend a 14 year Vanvaas on the roads. An old Maruti 800 looks like a bespectacled post graduate student whose grades are in the hands of an unforgiving professor. The Swift looks like a Delhi lass who remains in make-up even when she goes to sleep. The latest Camry looks as if it really wants to go where it is going and has a look of concern on its face. The Honda City always smiles and seems shy of its speed. And I have seen it give a sigh when it negotiated a pothole once. Definitely, there are those cars with only one headlight working, who look like pirates. And the others with blazing foglights who seem really angry at the cars ahead of them. And there are some with their headlights half painted, who seem to be meditating or half-asleep and least concerned about the road, the destination or even the person behind the wheel.
Driving is fun when you feel the vehicles on the other side of the road express their emotions in some way or the other. I once felt pity for a tattered Corolla who I felt had red eyes. Then there were the ones with general emotions - A number of cars which zipped by and winked at me. Some seemed to stop, take notice and acknowledge me.

There are so many of them on the road. When I am driving alone, I seem to communicate with these strangers on the move. And what is more, I have felt even my own car give me an inverted-U smile, blink and cuddle up to me when I park it in the snow and leave for my office desk.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The touch of a non-male

These days I shudder to take the motorbike to the office. Its not the infamous Bangalore traffic that worries me. Nor is it the ever increasing heat here that has got to me. Its the traffic lights on the ring road that give me the shivers. There used to be a time when a stop at a traffic light was like visiting a supermarket. Peddlers brought to you towels from turkey, sunglasses from Dubai, swiss watches and various other goodies. The hundred and eighty seconds one had to usually stop at a light was pleasantly spent in sifting through the various items on offer. Add to it the sight of a gentleman in a helmet haggling over a box of ear buds and the scene was complete. It was just short of being a tourist attraction.

Cut to the present day. Stuck amidst a slew of trucks waiting for the lights to go green I hear a loud clap from somewhere in front of me. It sounds again. And again. All my body goes stiff as memories of that sound come flooding back. But that was a different time and place I tell myself. Surely something else caused these sounds. A city like Bangalore would not put up with such vulgarity I decide. But still all my attention is riveted on the truck in front of me. To my shock and utter dismay a eunuch casually walks around the truck and stops by the driver's cabin, one hand on hip and the other outstretched for money. Dressed in a bright yellow saree, sporting a pony tail and a two day stubble it is a sight that proves that some looks can indeed kill the onlooker.

Its not their bisexuality (if that is what it is) that I despise. Neither is it the begging that angers me. Its the combination of the two which has been now perfected to an art that brings me trauma. I have had many a brush with these 'hijras' on the trains to North India. The first sign of impending trouble is when you hear those clapping sounds. Its got a unique ring to it that is only slightly less annoying than the sound of their approaching voices. But that is nothing compared to their infuriating habit of touching people as they speak. I still remember those dirty, rough palms brushing my cheeks while an uncontrollable shiver ran along the length of my body. A round of coy insults that go - 'Aye! Shah Rukh, dena' usually follows. How they expect people to shell out money once they've been called Shah Rukh, I'll never know.

So there I am patting myself on the back for having put on my helmet and jacket. No sweaty palms on me today. But just his gait, tone, accent and attire are so repulsive that I watch him with a sense of foreboding. Thankfully this time round he passes by me ignoring my very existence. Never has it felt better being ignored. I have lived to fight another day!!

Ever since that day I've been observing them from within the security of the company bus. Their numbers seem to have increased in the last few weeks. Business has never been better it seems. As I see it, its the best incentive there ever was for bikers to consider car-pooling or taking public transport seriously. Unless they prefer the touch of a non-male.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Whose history is it anyway...

History is a rape of facts. To begin a passage with such a strong statement would obviously raise eyebrows but neither am I a historian nor do I deserve a page in History, to fear a backlash. So, it does not harm me in being frank about it. Much of history consists of such events which are clinically glorified or doomed to serve the purpose of a powerful and manipulative few. Still, I know that I cannot badmouth history. For one thing, my dad is a historian and second, it is beyond me to contest history anyway. As I read you through a particular page of history, I'll just try to tear that page a bit, use a whitener at some places and in the end, resign to the fact that I am not able to convince you after all. I am going to talk about Israel.
To begin with, there was no such country as Israel before 1948. Amongst all that gore that Hitler left behind, the one that stood out was the Holocaust. There are people who deny that holocaust ever happened but even for those who vehemently accept it as a fact, there is scant substance for them to produce in favor of the formation of Israel. True, the Jews were being misplaced. They were killed in large numbers during the second world war. They had to be secured in a homeland where they could live a life of 'safety' and 'spirituality'. The Allied forces had just won the war. America, with its surplus land and opportunities could have been (and has been) the ideal homeland (symbolic or otherwise) for the Jews. Instead, politics played truant not only with the Arabs but also with the Jews. Off the biblical archives slipped Israel and planted itself as a trojan horse in the rabid Arab lands - places which had all the oil to keep all the SUVs running for decades to come. Those enterprising Jews, who could have fared spectacularly in being part of the great American dream, ended up being targets of Arafatic ire. Palestinians suddenly found themselves aliens in their land. The Muslim-land body had suddenly developed a Jewish tumor. No Ahmedinejad or Arafat worth his DNA would ever accept an ethical justification for Israel. Nor do I.

Yet, Israel was the biggest masterpiece of the Allied forces' sense of politics. Middle east was never going to be a piece of cake for the West. For one thing, USSR agonizingly shared borders with most of the states there and the West had no worthy ally in the vicinity. The best that they could have done was to rule through protege monarchs (as they have managed with relative success in Saudi Arabia and to an extent, with Saddam). But the west had realized that it was never going to be easy with USSR breathing down the necks of their proteges. They could never match the physical presence of USSR in the Middle east. A crude Bushic idea would have been to colonize Middle east but that would have fuelled a war with the mighty USSR. Thus was born the brilliant idea of Israel. Roosevelt-Churchill-Truman's thinktank gave birth to an idea which has no parallel in the annals of history. The idea had a biblical basis - "Israel" was the name given to Jacob after all and 'Israel'ites were the inhabitants of the nation he had fathered near Jerusalem, as written in the Bible. But head and shoulders above was the pity that was generated for Jews after the holocaust. The Bible, the justified empathy for Jews and the brilliant ideation combined with the euphoria of the victory in the World War ensured that there would be no stopping the creation of Israel. Even if Jews would have been circumspect about being made scapegoats for the Allies' political vision, they would realize in no less time that they were important to the Allies. Allies would do anything to keep Israel alive, to keep their oil resources within reach, to keep their economies running.

From one point of view, it would seem to be a gory scandal of the west on the Middle east but from the other, a brilliant idea to keep the balance of power intact. That a million Arabs have lost their lives in trying to protect their pride is indeed pitiful and unjustified. That Israel can never be considered a nation in spirit and principle, is also true. It is only to baffle the historians that this biblical debate of Israel will be played up. There was no ethical justification for the creation of Israel, even if Holocaust is true!

But what should be appreciated that Israel is not a creation of demons with gory intentions. Israel is that masterpiece which has kept the balance of power intact for America and Western Europe in the fight for oil. USSR does not exist anymore but there are other forces lurking in that region which require America to be on its toes. Without Israel, America would not be able to play even half its power politics in the region. The present leadership may think it has given itself pages in the history for the football it played with Iraq but it would stand only as minnows against the heros of the World War, Roosevelt and Truman. Not only did they win the biggest war in the history of time, they iced it with an idea that even the entire colonization of middle east by America would not be able to beat. America cannot openly express this but I am sure they are proud of Israel - the concept!

How the historians will write about Israel in the time to come is anybody's guess as history is written by the powerful. History has never sided with ethics nor has it anything to do with more than 10% truth. I only hope that somebody amongst the powerful will secretly express the appreciation for Israel, in its true form - Not as a nation but as a permanent barrack.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Looney times

The biggest news to hit prime time this week was Saddam's noose. Experts, journalists and TV presenters all had a field day analyzing every minute of the event. As a large section of people rejoiced, many others protested citing various reasons. Those of us who couldn't care less just sat back and watched the story unfold. All in all we saw an execution being reduced to a mass entertainment event. The amount of song, dance, tears and rhetoric surrounding the hanging likened it to a Karan Johar movie.

As I saw this story develop, many things struck me as bizarre. For example rumours were rife about execution videos being posted on the internet. Apparently somebody witnessing the execution captured the entire thing on video with his cell phone camera. How insane is that?! I haven't seen the video myself but I'm sure when the noose was placed around Saddam's neck, he was asked to look into the camera and say 'cheese' while his executioners stood on either side flashing the victory sign. There were also reports of people taunting the condemned man as he was led to the gallows. Whatever happened to the mesopotamian civilization? There seems to no trace of civil society left anywhere in the region.

Following the execution reactions began to pour in. The USA and its government in Iraq saw it as justice being served. Europe and most of Asia was shocked and disappointed. Over the last few years a clear pattern can be observed. The USA does something and the rest of the world expresses its shock and disappointment. This has become so common that I think its time they took the word 'shock' out of their press releases. In Iraq the Shias danced on the streets in joy while the Sunnis took pride in how their man had bravely faced death. Reminds me of a cricket match where one side wins and the other side takes positives out of its loss. The rest of the Islamic world complained that they felt insulted because the execution took place before a holy festival. I'm still trying to make sense of that.

Just when I thought the dust was beginning to settle on the issue, I read a report in the newspaper of a kid in Pakistan who tragically lost his life while trying to re-enact the Saddam execution to those who missed the live broadcast there. Kids seem to learn so much more from TV than they do in school. Shaktiman inspired them to jump off buildings twirling like tornadoes and now this. Since it occured in Pakistan nothing much might come of it. Had it happened in the US, parents might have sued CNN for not flashing the message "The following actions were carried out on convicted professionals. Do not try it out at home".

The long running Saddam show has finally come to an end. I wonder if we'll get to see a re-run or a remake anytime soon.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Gulf! Gulf! Wolf!

Saddam has been hanged. A person who had lost his share of tid-bits on prime time is back with a bang! Imagine, a person who could barely cross the borders of his own country is now a more (in)famous imperialist than Hitler himself. The baffled Historians of the 20th century must now be digging around the WTC rubble to bury the Roosevelt-Churchill saga. And Hitler must be turning like a turbine in his grave ruing the absence of George Bush (and CNN) during WWII.

A man condemned by all, not even a popular leader, considered an oil-rich military imperialist at the most is suddenly a mascot of Muslim (ok Sunni!) pride throughout the world. However hard the US media may mock at Islam and its followers, the reality is that they exist, in huge numbers and have sufficient power to influence the world politics, even if we ignore the phenomenon of terrorism. And if the Iraq war was a disaster, Saddam's death would anyday be termed as a catastrophe in United States' attempts to make amends for all its tomfoolery in the Gulf. If the present US thinktank thinks that it can wipe out terrorism from the world, I'd say there is no 'tank' amongst the US foreign policy drivers who can 'think'! Had Saddam or Bin Laden been the leaders of terrorism, terror would have been dead by now. I liken these two to the Loch Ness monster and the Dragon respectively - They are ghoulish and powerful but they exist only as fairytale creatures.

Terrorism is an anti-social expression of a clash between huge many things. Two of these are surely the Oil capitalists and imperial suppression of the Islamic free thinking. The former is an external threat while the latter is an internal malaise of the Islamic world. Hence, if the American media paints it as a clash between the West and the Islam, it is fooling nobody except its popcorn chewing audience for whom Saddam's imperialism evokes only as much fear as a power outage during Everybody Loves Raymond.

Yes sir. Before 9/11 terrorism was just pop corn stuff for audiences in US - No more than a bunch of gun toting maniacs who could be subdued by their very own "Die Hard" Bruce Willis. As long as they had Bruce Willis there was no fear. Instead came George Bush, the senior, as the President. Saddam Hussein, for long funded by CIA and the US oil cartel in his adventures against Iran and the other oil/gas rich anti-american dispositions, suddenly discovered that he himself was the golden goose. So, rather than allowing Americans to take the golden eggs one by one, he decided tear open his own belly to take all the golden eggs - He invaded Kuwait. For West, Saddam was a perfect Trojan horse which had kept countries like Iran at bay. Suddenly, the Trojan horse had turned into a Godzilla. Hence, began the world's maximum ad-revenue generating war, the Gulf war. Godzilla was subdued.

Remember, all this while Mr. Saddam was committing all those crimes culpability for which was used to hang him today! Nobody cared to even slap him. Had justice been meted out to him then and there, he would not have died a martyr for anybody.

Anyway, for the next 8 years Mr. Clinton decided to act more sensibly and played sanction-sanction and oil-for-food with Saddam. While the world had got over Iraq and was thinking more about Y2K and the dotcom bubble, it had forgotten that the Texas ranches had more than one bush. In came the new Bush with Gulf 2000. Iraq was back on the menu. Saddam, then, was no more powerful than H.D. Deve Gowda was in Delhi, still, with US attention he got his prime time back. In the meanwhile 9/11 happened and there was something that US needed to do. For one thing, Bin Laden seemed too insignificant an enemy for CNN to keep chanting about all through the day. Bin Laden, for all his wealth and rhetoric would have seemed a stupid enemy to the US audience. US, with all its Pentagon and NASA would seem fighting a man, riding a donkey in Kabul. In Aesops' fables okay, but for Prime time CNN that would have meant hurting US pride. So, Saddam was taken out of the cupboard, dusted, bathed, brushed and made ready for his role as the most popular doll after Barbie. He was shown unsheathing swords, firing guns in the air and moving around in his military gear once again. And then started the mission impossible to locate the Biological weapons that Mr. Barbie was supposed to have stacked in his loins. Let alone biological weapons they could not even locate his loincloth - He was wearing none. So, what came off it?

Out of all this chasing a tortoise in a Ferrari, came nothing.
Note the twist in the tale: The second Gulf war started on the premise of finding and destroying biological weapons. Nothing was found. So, the correct thing would have been to tender an apology and move out. Instead, they play the drama of democratisation of Iraq and the prosecution of Saddam. One thing, no sane democracy can run in a rabid country like Iraq. They need a dictator! Second, this war was only about the "bio" weapons. Why this sudden urge to prosecute Saddam, when all this while during the past two decades, he was committing all these atrocities right under the american noses? If democracy is the real motive why not try China or Pakistan, which have more power at their disposal to harm this world?
During World War II, Roosevelt had written the script to catapult a reclusive America to the position of the world's leader, Bush has undone it all to lose for America the near-legitimacy it had to work as the unambiguous leader of all the nations. Now, even China will have the gumption to call America, a rogue country. Imagine, this is what has been done to undo the American supremacy!

This incident would go down in the history as the stupidest thing America ever did. They gained nothing and instead made a warrior out of a stupid gun-toting warlord!

Hello, my dear Americans? Where have those Harvard, Yale products gone? Is this the best your imagination can produce? Isnt it a shame that the country which has shaped one full century of the present world's fortunes, has not shown even as good an imagination in shaping its foreign policy as a Horse does in looking for grass?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Where's the fire?

Whats the scariest thing that you've ever had to go through? Unless you were in the basement of the twin towers during you-know-what and got out alive it can't get close to what I experienced a few days back. Alarms are nasty little things in the best of times. They are absolutely deplorable when they go off in the middle of the night. And fire alarms, I've come to realize, are the worst kind.

It had been a rough work week and my only plan for the weekend was to sleep right through it. So there I was snugly settled inside my blanket in deep slumber dreaming of a place where sleep did not obey the clock when something suddenly made me wake up wide eyed and gasping for breath. Somebody had just kicked me violently in the stomach, thrown a pail of ice-cold water, smacked me on the face and then let off this horrible scream that makes every hair on your body stand at end. Atleast thats what my hibernating body told me. Ofcourse none of that had actually happened but I woke up in a fit half expecting to find a werewolf bending over me. Instead there was just an incredibly loud, shrill and repeating noise that was drilling holes in my ear.

My first instinct was to settle it once and for all with my alarm clock. It was one thing waking me up daily at seven and another to go off in the middle of the night on a weekend. I decided I had let this go long enough and turned my wrath on that little monster on the table. A few tonks, jerks and taps against the wall and I was no closer to silence. My ears seemed to suggest that the offending noise came from elsewhere. I put down the clock making a note to take up the issue at a later date. After much plodding around it dawned on me that it was the fire alarm that was the real culprit. I've been through a few fire drills in my time but the real thing is a little different. For one, the noise is a few bels louder. Secondly, real fires flare up when you least expect them to. And then you dont have floor managers in funny hats telling you what to do.

As you might expect, I wasn't in peak form when I reacted to this stimulus. A few seconds were spent in studying the contours of the device and the joy I would get in blowing it to smithereens. Then I wondered about the chances of this being a false alarm. When satisfied that the threat was real I made a mental checklist of stuff that I didn't want going up in flames . Thats when this wave of self-doubt hit me. Had I accidentally set this off? Maybe there was still some popcorn left in the oven. What if the bulb I leave on in the bathroom had burnt down? Or maybe my hairgel just exploded. That is possible. The security guy at the airport told me so. Needless to say I wanted to investigate this angle without waking up the entire hotel. Back to the fire alarm I went. To my dismay, the device didnt have so much as a snooze button on it.The noise was now deafening and I had to get out. So I gingerly stepped out of my room prepared to face the music.

To my surprise and eventual pride I was among the first few to get safely outdoors. I was greeted outside by an oriental gentleman with his fingers half-way in his ears. I took up my position behind a lamp-post where I could observe without being observed. I looked back at the hotel building expecting to find an inferno. It was a sore disappointment. When you are made to stand out on the sidewalk in your boxers on a winter night you want to see some fireworks. It keeps you warm. But everything seemed to be nice and peaceful. Soon more sleepy, tired and disgruntled people stepped out. It dawned on me that it'd taken them that long for they too had checked their ovens and ash-trays before they ventured out. This gave me some confidence and I stepped out from behind the post and joined in the conversation, the contents of which cannot be published here for obvious reasons. Then the fancy pants arrived with flashing lights. The cop was quickly followed by the firemen. Somebody switched on some hip-hop music and soon we had a disco going, lights and all. After about an hour's deliberation they gave us the 'all clear'. It had been a false alarm. Thats what they call a fire drill in the night I suppose.

I am better prepared for such eventualities now. I've not only hung all spare blankets around the alarm, I also keep a sledge hammer by my bedside. Next time it makes a noise I'll let it know who's the boss. But it seems to have had a curiious side effect - my alarm clock's gone all silent for some reason!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Royal Pain

Yesterday I saw the movie of the year, CantSeeNomore Royale. MGM brought home Bollywood for me in Connecticut. For once, Hollywood has a hero who prances around like a shirtless Salman Khan and looks like the handsome Tushar Kapoor, all at the same time! I have never been a big fan of these Ian Fleming flicks but during childhood two things used to draw me to these 007 features; first, its title music, dhan dhan tadaaan and second, its whacky gadgets. Two things, again, are pretty much obvious - I am no more a child and that Mr. Bond had a guilty feeling about being a child’s fantasy. Hence, in an era of evolution, global warming and disasters, a chocolate faced Brosnan has given way to a constipated-cockroach lookalike, Daniel Craig. Oh yes, Mr Craig has a nice body but coming near the long weekend his sinews reminded me more of the thanksgiving turkey, skinned and roasted (in the Bahamas sun, if it pleases you).

This is my first blog on a movie and I want it to be scathing. Not for nothing would I want to spend $19.50 and come out of theatre having sensed a déjà vu of having undergone the Torn-chair-naked-sitting-sling-hitting torture that Mr. Bond had to go through at the hands of an eye-bleeding-banker cum gambler cum idiot! Leave that out and you'll hear me talk about what I saw.

This Bond has no gadgets, although he does perform a self invasive cardiac surgery in the loo break that he gets while playing cards and returns to say: “That thing nearly killed me”. Sorry MGM, I plagiarized that dialogue in front of my wife when I came out of the theatre. Sue me!

This Bond too romances girls; only that the so called “Breathtaking beauties” in this flick could as well have been picked up from the Ms. Nalasopara contestants at Chinchpokli, Mumbai. Moreover, in the scene where Eva Green walks in that “breathtaking” gown into the Poker room, I had a hallucination of having seen the director pay $100 bills to the sidekicks in the room for every stare that they were forced to give at her, in erotic “admiration”. The “Oomph” lady slithers around like a 60 year old python (I don’t know if pythons live that long) and plants a million dollar kiss on Mr. Bond while Mr. Villain cries blood tears and I have a strong urge to puke on the empty seat before me.

Now, the plot: In an era of a security conscious world, terrorist leaders zip from Uganda to Miami to Montenegro to Timbuktu to Teliarganj carrying 7 feet long swords, with seamless ease. Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair, you should know why 9/11 occurred. CIA and MI6 agents were busy playing poker while all terrorists banged planes into buildings or trucks into planes. Never again laugh at Indian intelligence agencies. At least, we have stopped calling them “Intelligence” services since we introduced reservations to decide who should play what poker with the country’s security – We call them RAW, pun unintended, for your information. Let’s go back to the movie. This movie seems to be part of some epic. It’s like watching B.R. Chopra’s Mahabharat, where the director assumes you already know who Ghatotkatch is. The villains in this movie seem to be part of some story which was going beyond and before this movie. They keep giving you knowing looks and make you feel ashamed of not knowing what they are doing in this plot. I had this gut feeling that at the end of the movie instead of the credits, the director will flash a message, “Tell me what this movie was all about and win a 2 day 2 night trip to Bahamas with a special bonanza: The all naked Chair Torture”! How disappointing! Mr. Bond's Nokia 3310 was able to locate Mr. White. The names Baaand, James Baand!

And all this while I thought that only Karan Johar made pathetic movies!

I think the last time I had an urge to write a movie review was when I watched an 8 month pregnant Preity Zinta do a Nadia Comaneci in Salaam Namaste. That her baby, or whatever animal or football that she was carrying inside, did not fall out was a wonder that gave me nightmares for weeks. Atleast, I'll forget most about Casino Royale after this blog. As regards Salaam Namaste, please find me the director. I still want to commit murder - my first non-blog full-fledged movie review.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

PANCH% Tantra

Once upon a bad time there was an infamous Rakshasa, Brahmanasur. He and his ilk were a torment to the foremost tribes of those times, the DULLits. The famous dark lord Brahma, you know who, had bequeathed on him the deadliest of all weapons, Brain. Brahmanasur used to unleash numerous Brainstorms to entice the DULLits to commit the lowliest of all sins, Think. Thinking and working hard were acts of sacrilege among the DULLits, as it used to unDULL their characters.

So, the DULLits got together and prayed fervently to their god, DUMBedkar. DUMBedkar appeared before his devotees in his divine form - The lower part of his body had 69% reservation, hence, his bodily appearance was highly awe invoking and spiritual. He carried no Brain as the Rakshasa did. He was 21% hands, 1% face and 9% bald. All in all, he added up to 100% god - the personification of Social Justice in its purest form. Apart from that he was much like the gods of yore - he had a weapon, PERCENTAGE and he rode a tiger (Singh). The name of the Singh was Arjun. Only blip was that this tiger was a bit old, walked with a stick and wore glasses.

Anyway, on hearing the plight of his devotees, DUMBedkar decided to take his second Avtaar. To start with, he drew inspiration from Lord Voldemort and spread himself across the country in the form of Horcruxes (Horcruxes are divine portions of one's soul distributed in different forms). These horcruxes appeared in the form of DUMBedkar statues on almost all road crossings, parliament buildings, slum dwellings, sulabh shauchalayas and other such locations of strategic importance. It was a ploy to keep an eye on what the Rakshasa and his ilk did.

Arjun transformed himself into a minister in the government of the day and unleashed PERCENTAGE on the Rakshasas. 23%, 27%, 50%, 69%, 80% started to rain upon the cruel Rakshasas. Rakshasas invoked their potent satan lady, Merit. But Arjun pounced upon Merit and tore her to pieces. Hah! Merit never knew that even an old emaciated tiger could be more than a match to her.

Rakshasas ran helter skelter and tried to hide. DUMBedkar then blew his conch and chanted the following potent shlokas one after the other-

"You can run but you cannot hide!"
"I'll be back!"
"Somebody somewhere is made for you"
"Its all about loving your parents"
"Daag- The Fire"
"Indian- The love story of a spy"

One after the other the Rakshasas began to fall. All their fortIITs were captured and destroyed. Yet, a few cruel Rakshasas managed to escape to the land of devilry, PATAALamerica. The land of the DULLits was finally cleansed of all Brahmanasurs and other such Rakshasas. DULLits were pleased and overjoyed.

DUMBedkar felt content and relaxed. Infact, one of his horcruxes (statues) in Kanpur heaved such a sigh of relief that its head fell off.

The DULLits then celebrated the purification of their land by coming out on the streets. They made a huge bonfire of public transport buses, shops and public property. And then, they threw stones (they considered plucking and throwing flowers as environmental crime) to pay obeisance to their Lord of the lords - DUMBedkar. And last, but not the least, Arjun Singh straightened his tail, smiled broadly and roared - MEOW!

A Plan

The recent violence in Mumbai and other areas in protest of the desecration of an Ambedkar statue got me thinking on the issue. It seems odd that Babasaheb is the target of all vandals in the country. Ofcourse there are the odd freaks who go after non-entities like Thackeray's dead wife but more often than not it is the scholarly bloke with a book stuffed under his armpit who is pigeoned upon. So much so that newspapers can save on newsprint by just saying "Statue desecrated" and we'd know the rest. Looking at recent trends maybe we can even have a cricket-like scoring sheet for such events. It could go "Statue desecrated 25-200-30-50" to be read as 'Statue desecrated. Twenty five dead, two hundred injured, thirty vehicles stoned and fifty torched". It must be really boring being a reporter and having to write the same stuff over and over again.

Coming back to the issue, I began my analysis of the problem by delving into the roots. Firstly, I wanted to know why Ambedkar was so unpopular among the masses. Strangely, being the father of the infamous reservation system only makes him honourable in our country. He does pop up very frequently in school text books and board exams but that only infuriates the educated. Since awareness is not one of our countrymen's strengths I concluded that his image is not his problem. There must be something in the statues themselves that triggers trouble. Sure, those hollow spectacles are extremely tempting but if that was the problem why don't we see the Mahatma or Bose being vandalized? Actually that points us to the answer.

There aren't too many Gandhi and Bose statues around. You'd probably need a guide to find them. Ambedkar memorabilia on the other hand are everywhere. Every slum, junction, park has one. There are simply too many of them standing around waiting to be meddled with. If an orinary citizen had a sudden urge to pee on a statue, chances are high that he'd be wetting Ambedkar's shoes. It's simply a matter of availability and hence probability. Sounds improbable, but it has to be true. As Holmes says, once we remove the impossible what remains, however improbable, has to be the truth.

Now that we have our root cause identified, we only have to find a solution for it. Before I get to the long term solution, there are a couple of things we need to fix quickly. Firstly, we need to make our buses fire-proof and stone-proof. Atleast five local buses burn everytime a group of ten or more disturbed individuals get together. While that may be a reassuring statistic for manufacturers, to us tax payers it is absolutely apalling. Maybe buses could be bulit out of materials that stink like a skunk as they burn or some similar variant could be employed. Secondly, stones should not be left lying on roads. All those reports on stone pelting left me wondering where all the stones came from. We're talking about riots in cities and not on the lunar surface. Its time corporations got their act together and rid the streets of these potential projectiles.

As for a long term strategy, we have many options. We could have more Gandhi statues installed in every city. But then we'd run the risk of increased satyagrahas and dharnas. Another option would be to build a protective mesh around Ambedkar statues but that would make him look like a jailbird. He might deserve it for what he has started off but something tells me that it won't be terribly popular. So my proposal is this - let us collect all his statues from around the country and dump them in the Indian ocean. That will definitely put an end to the descration saga. With any luck, we'll see the pied piper effect with many of his devotees taking to the water after him. The downside to it is that the level of the ocean might rise by a few inches (we are talking about all Ambedkar statues here) but necessary adjustments can be made. The resulting space in public areas could be taken up by busts of lesser known people like freedom fighters, martyrs and men of wisdom. Sounds like a plan, doesnt it?

Friday, December 01, 2006

The Beginning of beginning!

21286875616473 years ago, Blopduplop (‘Earth’ as we know it today) was like a ball of water. Humans had not named it thus. First, there was no such thing as Land then. Second, there was only water. And third, you know how difficult it is for humans to speak under water. It was actually done by a group of renegade Grrrbowow planet inhabitants who happened to stop by the solar system during one of their drunken drives through the intergalactical highway, G-63. It would not require einsteinish intuition to guess that the highways then were no better than they do exist in Arizona today – right, it was difficult to find a rest area for millions of light years and more so, it was not at all safe to pee by the roadside (or the empty space, in this case). Oh no, not because of fear of any highway police but because of a phenomenon of nuclear fission in empty space which converted uric acid to highly fissile Plutonium-235, ensuring that the one who did it never did it again (!) – The most ancient scientific phenomenon known to the Universe’s creatures which ensures that even today our astronauts do not take liquid food when they are out there!
So there it was; the Grrrbowowscions stopped by a huge big asteroid and eased up on its surface. While they eased themselves, they whiled their time by throwing pebbles (meteorites) on a nearby planetary water body – the first pebble touched the surface of water and drowned with the sound - Blop…. Dup…. lop! And hence, they called the water body as even our forefathers never knew - Blopduplop! That was the first time any alien creature had put eyes upon Earth – A historic event that had since gone unrecorded!
Actually, one of the reasons this name wasn’t recorded in the annals of history was because it didn’t last long enough. While the GBWscions were at it, the asteroid lost its balance and plunged through the atmosphere of the Blopduplop with a shattering sound and splashed into the ocean – ERRRRRR……THHHHHHHHHHHHH! The creatures of Blopduplop had never heard a sound like that in the placid waters that surrounded them. For them, this accident was an audible as well as a historical revelation. They identified that asteroid with the sound it made – ERRRTHHH, which was later abridged and edited to EARTH to include the “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAA” which the GBWscions had shreaked while falling through the atmosphere and losing their memory, in that devastating accident. Yes, the GBWscions had lost their memory. They had forgotten almost everything about themselves and even the name that they had given to this planet minutes ago – Blopduplop. When the Blopduplop(not relevant any more)ians came up and asked the GBWscions who they were, they tucked their tails behind and said – Grrrr…. Bow… Wow!!! Hence, began the story of the GBWscions on the planet earth. The water inhabitants came to inhabit the Asteroid (‘Land’, as we call it now) and treated the GBWscions with great love and patronage. But unfortunately, they could not bring their memory back.

The GBWscions are still amongst us. They still run around roads and streets and highways (not intergalactical anymore) and look for fire hydrants and electric poles to do what their forefathers had done before landing upon Earth – as a token of respect to them. And even now when you go near them, they duck down and proudly tell you about the planet of their origin – Grrrr…. Bow… Wow! Present day humans know them by their various names on this planet – Dogs, canines, Scooby Doo etc.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Dream

Inertia rules me. This is especially true on cold winter mornings. Lucky are they who are able to extract themselves with ease from the warm loving embrace of their blankets. For me every morning is an ordeal. It is at times such as these that I wish I was a Columbian drug lord. It is not the sheer opulence and decadence of their lifestyle that makes me envious of them but the assumption that powerful outlaws wake of their own will. For that single pleasure I'm willing to overlook the fact that one day a bullet might end it all. These days everybody runs that risk I suppose.

Instead each morning I have to face a grim reality. The reality that I have to show up at work for another eight thousand odd days before I can retire. On each of those days I'll be compelled to obey the alarm clock. I have to bear the pain of separation from my pillows and sheets to head off to a place where I spend all day wondering if it was really necessary. You would think that all these years of following the routine might have imbibed it into my system. But my mind is incredibly obstinate when it comes to these matters. This dog doesn't want to learn anymore routines.

I like my work. But there are many who'll agree with me when I say that asking us to catch the bus at half past eight is pushing it. My fellow brothers and I have one question to ask of the corporate world. What makes nine to five the ideal schedule for all business in this world? We would like to see some facts and figures that prove this beyond any doubt. And who was the moron who came up with the adage that talks of the prudence of the early-to-bed-and-early-to-rise paradigm? This senseless practice has only created generations of caffeine addicts. I sense a scam here and can already guess who's behind it? Its the Columbian drug lord and his Brazilian cousins. Who else would stand to benefit from an army of addicts? Now you know why I see a future for myself there.

Conspiracy theories aside, I cannot see the wisdom in being at my desk when I'd rather be in my bed. Some wise biologist commented that we are the only species on earth that go to bed when not sleepy and wake up when we are. And to think we pride ourselves on being intelligent. Ofcourse the naysayers often argue that we are also the only species that drive around in cars and so we're different. As if that proves anything. It is in fact the drive that forces us to get up earlier than we should. Beating rush hour happens to give my sleep a beating as well. Talk about automobiles facilitating rapid transportation.

The whole idea of civilization, I thought, was to increase the comfort in one's life. The vision was surely to take the 'rest in peace' out of the epithet and into our lives. In that it has been an utter failure so far. I dream of a time when every man is free to rise at any time of his choice, where the mind is led by Him into ever-deepening slumber and inaction, a time of tranquility and peace. To this heaven, my Father, let me awake.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Years ago when there used to be only one channel on air watching television was a pleasureable pastime. There were about four teleserials and one movie every week. Each one was an occasion for the entire family to sit down and enjoy. Nirma and Surf were the only soaps on tv and news was broadcast once each day just after dinner time. The nation was updated with the progress made on the day on various fronts and audiences went to bed assured of a better future. Those were the good old days of state run media. Then the Soviet union collapsed and cable television took over.

This is the age of 24x7 television. Specialization is the keyword of our generation and TV channels are no different. There are channels exclusively for soaps, music, news, religion, sports ... Choose your poison. The number of creative individuals unfortunately has not kept up and naturally our breads are buttered thin these days.

The biggest change to hit Indian TV has to be the soaps. Each soap is a complex web of deceit, adultery, jealousy, revenge and all those other hateful emotions that soften and numb the brain. It's been quite a revelation, the various complications a marriage can develop. Given the same conditions in the west there'd be a divorce before the third episode. Whats more, any soap worth its weight in sodium carbonate runs for atleast a couple of hundred episodes. Mid-way through that they all begin to converge and there on one can catch any of the shows without knowing the difference. Some argue thats why they are popular. I say thats why re-runs work.

Its not only entertainment that has suffered this sea change. The worst affected seem to be the news channels. To fill every minute of every day with meaningful news is a near impossibility. Failure to comprehend as much has resulted in every fool willing to hold a microphone in front of a camera turning reporter. Specialists and experts provide insightful analyses on any topic under or over the sun. Its probably for a reason why 'news items' are now called 'stories'. In their bid to get hold of newer and more shocking news, channels regularly manipulate public sentiments. The power they wield makes them the most potent weapon of mass destruction today. Maybe they should be given million-tonnes-of-TNT ratings instead of TRP ratings.

But its not all gloomy. There are sports channels for the disillusioned. Live coverage, night games and extra-ordinary camera work has taken viewing to a new level. As one of them put it, they know our game. Until someone who doesn't pops up sporting noodle straps that is.