Thursday, October 25, 2012

This sunset is different from yesterday's...

I’m sad. No, scratch that… I’m nostalgic.

Jaspal Bhatti passed away today. By now I hope he’s making fun of the contractor responsible for the gates of Heaven and/or taking offence at the idea that no one takes offence at divine hypocrisy.
The man was, by himself, an idealistic eccentric who simply couldn’t take things the way they were. But at least as far as I’m concerned, he was also someone emblematic of a better time; a simpler time. A time that had Flop Show, Keshav Kalsi and that tune from the DD evening news that's kinda burnt itself into our collective subconscious as a people. A time where all that really mattered was you getting the window seat on the school bus and being deceptively mean to the person you liked.

So maybe it’s just me, but it seems another chapter in a very good story has ended. 
Now this isn’t your average story. It doesn’t have any of the usual melodrama, the usual action sequences and sadly enough, the usual bedroom sequences. In fact, the only distinctive thing about it is that it’s “our” story.

Like any obscure writer, I look around a lot (It’s what we do, we obscure writers).
And I see a lot I was always intent on missing before…

There are no new wrinkles on my grandparents’ cheeks. And yet I know they’re getting older.
These people have given me my parents. And the most horrible baths a kid can ever hope not to have. They’ve given me 10 bucks a day for everyday I’ve spent at their place, so that I could bake under the sun while waiting to play video games.
Not to mention the most effective dressing down ever for throwing about 24 eggs on the nearest wall after a singularly inspiring Tom and Jerry tape.
I guess right now I’m left wishing that life were somehow less complicated. And that I could again play cricket with everyone in the backyard. You know, God bless his heart, my Grandfather always used to let me have 7 balls in every over I played. : )
There are just so many people who never get to know what they’re loved the way they are. What is worse is that there are just so many people who can’t tell they love the way they do.

My academic life had me in the same place for five and a half years. And suffice to say, I hated every brick of it. Every vocal professor, every nonfunctional water heater… everything.
And today, even after graduating, each visit to the damn place reminds me that these things that have taken a new hue. One I wasn’t particularly convinced existed.
Imagine yourself glad to see people you couldn’t stand to see before just because you saw them every day. Or basking in the sweet aroma of the autoclave room just so that you don’t forget it. Eating food Hell itself declared unsafe just so that you can bitch about it… All of it, someday, years later... over a fireplace that has gone out, and people who’ve only just come in.

Life is a series of random occurrences. But then… so are me and you.
And there is no friggin’ reset button. 

P.s. My grandfather only took 5 balls in every over he played. : )
P.p.s I've been using Jaspal Bhatti's "Hit and Trial Hospital" joke as mine for 10 years now. 9/10 would do it again.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's really the only way...

Unrequited love. That’s when you love without reciprocation.
Everyone has at least once in their lifetime loved unrequitedly. It may have been that time your eyes repeatedly met hers from across that crowded room. Just before she ran to her Scottish boyfriend, Douchebag McVaddaPhone.
Or it may have been when that dude who was being so nice to you asked for advice on how to talk to your best friend and they had to spend all day extracting your pirated copy of Twilight: Breaking Dawn from his colon. By the way, you have weird taste.

If you're still in doubt, there are some other crude tests. These include the “How did I end on this Facebook page AGAIN?” number; the “Whoops, that message wasn’t for you” index and roughly the number of times you’ve come close to doing borderline inappropriate things to your stuffed toy collection.

It’s also possible you feel like asking rhetorical questions. For example:

  • Conventional good looks is all it took? Are you blind to inner beauty or something?
  • I’ve sacrificed a head of cabbage. HOW MUCH MORE, God?
  • No seriously, do you know how much cabbage goes for?
  • Maybe she would’ve understood after the 28th missed call?

But then, I stand by the idea that all great love is unfulfilled. More so considering fulfilled love lends itself to circumstances like deciding who’s going to watch the kids and “What? Paneer? Again?”
So celebrate the very real possibility that you’ll die alone. 
Or that you'll adopt cats and later find yourself hiding in foliage with binoculars; madly hoping that allergy to pepper spray doesn't come into play.

In either case, know this: You may love without tangible cause and hope of fulfillment. But in doing so, you become a martyr. You rise to the idea that you’re inherently better than those who told themselves “it didn’t matter”. You allow yourself hope where others have plummeted to despair.

Make no mistake, you're fighting for a cause. One that is greater than the safety of satisfaction with the present. One that allows you belief in something that will make the world better. And how many people who don’t have bombs strapped to their chests/are Batman get to claim that?

So don’t give up.
And if you do, there’s always Twitter. I will personally retweet all your emo stuff.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


“Iraq has WMDs. AMURRRICA!” – George W. Bush
“They took our jobs” – Literally Hitler
“No Twitter for you, enemy of state!” – Government of India

Yes, these quotes are roughly paraphrased. But they all play upon one thing: Fear.
Fear that unless someone is allowed to have his way with certain free world guarantees, unless someone drops a taxpayer funded smart bomb on a soft target; terrible things will happen to the unsuspecting average person. Children will suffer, food will have too little salt and downloads will be throttled.
Of course, proof and humanity's vestiges of humanity are necessary casualties.

There’s a good chance you’ve not been blocked on Twitter or Facebook. And that the Indian government is still letting people see your adorable kiddy videos on YouTube from when you were six and didn’t realize that people would start to notice if you wore superhero underwear atop your clothes regularly.
However, certain people think that an important part of preventing violence against minorities is blocking Facebook hate pages, Twitter profiles – also ones that mock the PMO (and hopefully that Rick Astley video I’ve seen way too many times).

The world is a lot more connected than it used to be. The actions of any form of government are scrutinized and televised. So I guess the ancient powers that be have to be seen doing something. And the first thing to do when tackling with a problem is to lay blame somewhere – in this case, on the spread of ostensible anti-India sentiment via social networking platforms.

Now the question you want to ask is probably: Isn’t the government doing the right thing by stopping the spread of hate speech and possibly region based violence?
Well, derp, you’re wrong. The question is this: When you suppress freedom of expression and things still don’t come under control, where do you go next?
ecause, you see, things won’t come under control. Not as long as depraved assholes who don’t accept the sanctity of life are actually held accountable. The only thing left to do then will be a further curtailment of whatever behavior that comes up as unfavourable.

There's also the fact that censorship is an inherently flawed concept. The notion of a great big nanny state which decides what’s you can or cannot see starts to have less appeal when you think about the following:
  • The Streisand effect
    Any attempt to hide something has the effect of publicizing that very information and getting it to a much larger audience. 
  • Gaps in the fence
    There’s very little that can be done to suppress that flow of information on the internet. There are ways to circumvent blocks. And ways to circumvent blocks of those blocks. In fact, the only thing you can’t get around anymore is Yo’ mama.
  • Assuming herd mentality
    Mouth-breathers who can get influenced by a non-confirmed piece of information sourced from the Internet can just as easily be influenced by a newspaper or people shouting loudly enough. And by the way, please stop watching those Salman Khan movies. It makes this argument look weak.
  • Controversial efficacy
    Case in point, our respective mothers have been deciding what's good for us for the longest time in an effort to make us better people. Yeah, that *totally* worked.
So finally, it comes down to the relatively benign “Sanjeevani Booti, AMIRITE GUYS?” or the whole “STOP RESISTING, CITIZEN! THIS KICK TO YOUR GROIN WILL SERVE THE GLORY OF CHINA!” way of doing things. I would argue that the former can easily lead to the latter once you start calling the destruction of constitutionally protected statuettes by other names like “National security”.

"Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one."
- Thomas Jefferson, celebrated bad tempered person.

P.s. Yes, there’s a Godwin in the second sentence of this post. I’ll take that congratulatory plaque now.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


As a mother, you’ve given me life. You’ve taught me to walk; read and eat with my own hands. You’ve halted your life so I may have mine. You’ve loved me without question. And you’ve hurt as I have, when I have. So much more when I seemed to flunk Sanskrit for no good reason.

As a sister, you’ve laughed with me; and you’ve laughed at me. You’ve conspired with me against enemies whose existence you took at my word. You’ve tried your level best to understand why Barbies were monstrous villains for them GI Joes. And you’ve listened patiently to me go on about nothing at all when I was hurt. (“Bhaiyya, you’re crazy”). Or when I was stupid (“Bhaiyya, you’re crazy”).

As a lover, you’ve taught me to need. To dream. You’ve taught me patience and the near infinite comfort of having someone caress your hair. You’ve laughed at all my jokes. You've smiled extra hard when I somehow fixed your computer. And you’ve given me reason to feel; to lose myself to that feeling.

Today, people will talk about how far women have come in terms of economics, suffrage and leadership. And that is great, even if only for how inevitable it was. Today, in some measure, the equality of the sexes will be discussed. But see, men and women aren’t created equal. Women are necessarily greater.
As women, all of you have come long measurable distances. As people who’ve defined my life, as the essays in strength, compassion and sacrifice that you are, that pales in comparison.

So yeah, I’ll make you that sandwich. And you can nag me about how I forgot to put enough mayonnaise in it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Not there… The other hole...

When they’re not busy fighting the trials and travails of having an enlarged prostate and/or stealing from us, the people who run this nation like to spend some time reminding us of the relevance they have in our lives.

Usually it’s something benign. “I was streaming that porn and so I didn’t actually have it on my phone and INDIA NEEDS FASTER INTERNETZ LOL” or “Oh this money? Well, my ancestors were all oppressed and I’m taking it to increase their pride in our caste/religion/pony breeding club”. Of course, sometimes they’ll take it a step further and tell us who to hate.

Now don’t get me wrong… I’m all for a little unmitigated hate without reason or justification. All you have to do is say “Salman Khan superstar” and I’ll get an enraged stick-figure mob to eat the entirety of all the Pizza in your locality, come over to your place and offer to treat you to lunch - JUST to watch you dissolve into a puddle of tears. However, I do tend to have a problem with the fact that the reason for why we should hate a lot of things is usually no different from “This is wrong because we don’t do this. We don’t do this because this is wrong”.

A prime example of this is homosexuality. Let me not mince words here. This is an entire group of people who are “going to destroy society as we know it” because... um… well… they're using the wrong holes?

One, this is an issue of individual liberty. If the Government allows itself to decide what consenting adults do without affecting anyone else, where does it stop?

And Two, this has been made an issue of morality. What has been left out is whose fucking morality it is that we're talking about. Is it:
a) the morality of some religion that we must respect because of “religious freedom”? That being the case I’d like to petition that everyone in India wear sequins on Saturdays because otherwise, our true lord the Flying Spaghetti Monster can’t see us properly owing to his divine Myopia.
But I guess this it only matters if the religion is mainstream. One that ensures people who don’t conform to certain rules are hated and ostracized. More so, made to hate their own selves. Yeah. That morality. Got'cha. 
b) the morality of the public at large? This would make more sense because laws are defined by what people feel is right. For example, it is no longer legal to ensure a woman’s undying love in return for 10 cows and one wooden cart. I’ve checked.
But even in this case, those in power are woefully out of touch with the realities that surround us today. People are not dying, starving, or unhappy because certain men know more than one use for glitter. It's because someone is too friggin’ incompetent to do their job.

History is witness to the fact that whenever someone has had to justify something vile and despicable, he or she has done it in the name of morality. That this clause is invoked whenever some old dude who hasn't gotten laid in sometime suddenly decides he doesn't like how other people are trying to be happy.

The question that needs to be asked then, is simply this… is someone threatening national security, violating the sacred nature of the constitution and completely without a sense of right and wrong because they like want a life with someone with the same genitals?

Of course, since all rants worth their vitriol are incomplete without atleast one Godwin: “We want to burn out all the recent immoral developments in literature, in the theater, and in the press - in short, we want to burn out the poison of immorality which has entered into our whole life and culture as a result of liberal excess during the past ... (few) years.” – Adolf Hitler.

When those who watch over us talk about protecting society, they should first think about not letting us die of corrupt practices and apathy; instead of declaring profound jealousy for the happiness of certain people who have awesome taste in clothing. 

Finally, people who hide behind words like “culture” and “morality” to justify their bigotry and ignorance should be slapped across the face with a large rubber dildo.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ask Not for Whom the Bell Tolls...

It's that time of the year again. The time when people who have way too much Gucci in their wardrobe meet in a little place called Jaipur. They discuss the wretchedness of the human condition using words containing too many syllables in books containing characters with too many daddy issues.
Made conspicuous by his absence from this left wing paradise is Salman Rushdie. If you're unaware, this is one person who's had considerably more luck with members of the opposite sex than you or I (This is to be expected because I haven't been to the gym lately and you... well, you're reading this). He's also written an angry book or two.
What is especially important about the absence said person of alopecic fame is the reason behind it. Were we so lucky that he would be spotted buying a special scalp shine formula and refuse to blind people by stepping out in public again.
Unfortunately, the reason is far more serious; and speaks much more vehemently of the world we live in. A world that speaks only of intolerance and mindless hate. Where criticism is heresy and heresy is death. And the difference between liberators and oppressors is only one of time.
Basically it's the 1500s all over again, but with more bandwidth and much better treatment for head lice.
However, addressing the etiopathogenesis of all of humanity's miscellaneous vices is beyond the scope of this post.
What I do want to talk about is just how fucked we all are; specifically by way of putting faith in the institutions that govern us.


Maybe you know the word; or maybe you didn't have a massive crush on your English teacher and never saw the need to. I digress. The concept is relatively straightforward... Disenfranchisement is the devaluation of a vote; for any reason.
It may be specific, as is the case with certain countries not allowing people convicted of serious crimes to be part of the electoral process, or more general, as is usually the case when your favourite flavour of liberator/dictator takes over and suspends elections as well as the soap opera you were currently crying over.

A much more applicable corollary of this is disenfranchisement by numbers. When India gained independence, her population stood at ~350 million, give or take a few miscalculated periods. Currently, there are about 1.2 billion of us. And while this sounds great for any circumstance involving hand-to-hand combat with the enemy; take a look at what it does to our Democratic structure:
There were 530 something representatives in the Lok Sabha at the time of independence. There are 545 representatives in the Lok Sabha right now. What this means that one of them is now responsible for representing 2.2 million of us up from 660 thousand.
Now I assuming you're a relatively “normal” kind of person. The operative definition of “normal” being that you like a certain kind of food, have porn stored in places with imaginative names like 'New Folder' and that you have an average of 13 differences of opinion with your fellow man per day.
Therefore, all other factors remaining constant, this means that your opinion, however profound and relevant, retains about a third of the importance of what it did when the structure of Parliament was envisioned.
And here's the kicker... all other factors didn't remain constant. While you were adding more and more stuff to New Folder, people on the other end of the socio-economic spectrum were punching out babies while the Rocky soundtrack was playing in the background.
Let's take your example. You, lean mean sex machine that you were in the 1950s, had 2 kids. They had 2 kids each in turn. Assuming everyone survived the 1970s and those horrible hairstyles, this gives you a total of 6 people of direct descent.
Now how about someone who had just one more kid per generation? This gives a total of 12 people of direct descent. Yes, exactly double. With just one more child.
You, my friend, with you excellent genes and awesome taste in vintage rock, have been outbred. Rather badly too. Have you been taking all those vitamins your doctor recommended? Maybe you need more well aerated underwear.

Of course, this doesn't even begin to describe other real world scenarios. Like the fact that you can't be bothered to participate in the process of government because:
  1. You don't have the time
  2. New Folder is increasing in size every day.
  3. “The system is corrupt, I must stay away.”
  4. New Folder!
This is why you can't get the government to care less about your opinion about an issue. You don't own a major corporation. You can't get people squatting on train tracks for purposes other than intestinal emancipation. Or perhaps, even allege that your “religious sentiments” got hurt.
The truth is, you just don't matter mathematically.

Democracy? Lolwut?
I think it's adorable how all those idealistic people sit down with Arnab Goswami and try to advertise the inherent superiority of Democracy, tell the world that it's the other guy's fault 400 million people in the country are hungry and depending upon the extent of their delusions, try to complete a sentence every now and then.

But are we really, truly choosing a representative Government? Hell, is there even any real choice?
Think about it. The general elections are about a year or so away. Who do you want to vote for? You choices are a. The Gandhi fiefdom, b. The Saffron genocide party or c. The Mayawati theocracy.
This is an a especially tough one considering you may have some remnant memory of the times we've tried the first two; and that you're scared shitless like me anytime someone mentions the phrase “Mayawati's foreign policy”.

Maybe you'd like to vote for Anna et al. Possibly the Left. Or maybe you want to come off the pixie dust and try to understand the fact that these suggestions are here just to make sure I wasn't 'Arnab-ed' (yes, this is a real verb).
Yours could be the only vote in the country, and you'd still fuck it up royally for the rest of us. Congratulations.
So, as things stand, none of these factions will listen to you unless you represent a significant vote bank. And you really can't go to another guy, because, well, there really isn't another guy.
Of course, you could get into the system and change it from the inside. Since it worked metaphorically in Die Hard 2, it can work in real life. But then, this won't happen. Scroll up and you'll see why.
We're screwed. Every single one of us. The educated electorate because nobody will listen to it, and the unkempt masses because a vote is just a piece of paper to someone who hasn't had a meal in 24 hours.
What will we do about it? I haven't the slightest idea. This when I'm usually very good at letting Twitter hashtags form my opinion for me. As you realize, this doesn't bode well.