Babble Without a Pause

December 8, 2015

Perspectives On Being Fleeced (and other stories)

paul-noth-then-we-carefully-disguise-the-bribes-as-legal-fees-by-changing-the-word-new-yorker-cartoon

INDIA (2005)

  1. Passport office. 10am. Stand in line 4-5 hours to get your passport renewed. Wait for hours. Get told to come back the next day.
  2. You decide it’s not worth your time.
  3. You pay some Rupeeses to expedite your application processing.
  4. Case AUTO-MAGICALLY gets processed the next day and you have your passport.

    BRIBE, they call it.

    “Third world country. What did you expect?” I overhear.

    200_s

 

U.S.A (2015)

  1. Submit application to have your work visa renewed. Wait 4 months for  a process that typically takes a month or two (AT MOST). Get informed by friendly neighborhood attorneys that it could take up to 6 months more, BUT nice guy that you are, you could technically continue working while waiting for approval, but you are virtually under house arrest and literally cannot leave the country for vacation, emergency, or even if Jesus returns (because History lesson, Jesus was from the Middle East, not Amurica).
  2. You decide to not have to be stuck for another 4 months due to government inefficiencies and red tape.
  3. You pay some Dollarses in fees to expedite your visa processing.
  4. Case AUTO-MAGICALLY gets approved in two weeks and you have your visa.

    PREMIUM PROCESSING, they call it.

    “First world country. Things get done quick.” I overhear.

    200_s

#JustSaying

November 27, 2015

Of Intolerant Views On Intolerance

FULL DISCLOSURE – I am not a fan of celebrity culture, but make an exception for this man. In my opinion, he is an actor who treads off-the-beaten-path. Like his film roles, he is an unconventional celebrity, and embodies for the most part, a forward thinking mindset, one that I find myself aligned with. There are exceptions, most recently when he criticized the comedians operating a satirical Youtube channel titled AIB for their vulgar language, despite having himself acted in a handful of roles that involved crude language. Sometime between 2 and 3 years ago, Mr. Khan was the face of Satyameva Jayate, a national show that broke from traditional Indian talk shows with its hard-hitting analysis of issues plaguing our country. The toast of the nation back then, everyone crowed about how he was a rare celebrity with a conscience, seeking to do public good, by bringing to light the many issues plaguing the country.

____________________________________________

intolerance
“FUCK Aamir Khan, man” I overhear this afternoon, as I sit down to lunch at a restaurant some 12,000 km from Delhi.

If you haven’t heard the name Aamir Khan in conversations over the past two days, I have one question for you. That rock you’ve been living under, is it sedimentary, igneous, or metamorphic? On a more serious note, in case you aren’t aware, the name belongs to an Indian citizen and prominent actor vilified by countless twitterati, blogophiles, and social media enthusiasts over the past two days for comments he made in an interview. Lest I be accused of not quoting accurately or misrepresenting context, here is that question, and his answer:

Anant: Aamir, are you agreeing with the protest (award wapsi, or the recent trend of Indian authors, artists and prominent figures returning awards previously handed out by the Indian govt) or do you think it’s uncalled for… do you think it is premature?

Aamir: Well, I think, if I am not mistaken there are so many people in this room who are much more knowledgeable than me so I am feeling intimidated to speak in front of all of you. But my understanding is that a lot of people from the creative fraternity are protesting because of the growing discomfort they felt or the growing atmosphere of intolerance that they felt around them… growing sense of insecurity and disappointment with that, and as a result that was their way of showing that they are not happy with the situation.

As an individual myself, as a part of the country, as a citizen, we read in newspapers what’s happening and certainly I have also been alarmed. I can’t deny that I am alarmed.. by a number of incidences. For any society it is very important to have a sense of security. I mean there will be acts of violence in world for different reasons. But for us as Indians, as a part of society to have a sense of security… two-three things are very important, I feel. One is sense of justice. If there is a wrong step that anyone takes, then a correct justice is what is required. Common man should feel that justice will be done. That’s what gives a sense of security. The second and very important sense of security is the people who are our elected representatives – people who we select to look after us for five years if at state level or Centre. When people take law in to their hands and when there is a sense of insecurity, we look upon these people to take a strong stance, make strong statements and speed up the legal process to prosecute cases. When we see it happening there is a sense of security but when we don’t see that happening there is a sense of insecurity. So it does not matter who the ruling party is. It’s happened across ages. On television debates, we see where one political party, in this case, the BJP which is ruling right now, is accused of various things. They said, ‘But what happened in 1984?’. But that doesn’t make right what’s happening now. What happened in ‘84 was disastrous and horrendous. At other times also, through ages, whenever there is a violent act, when an innocent person is killed, be it one or a large number, that’s very unfortunate. And these unfortunate moments are the ones when we look towards our leaders to take a strong step. Make statements that are reassuring to the citizens.
[….]
To complete my answer that there is a sense of fear more than there was earlier. I do feel there is a sense of insecurity. When I sit at home and talk to Kiran. (Wife) Kiran and I have lived all our lives in India. For the first time, she said, should we move out of India? That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make to me. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers everyday. That does indicate that there is a sense of growing disquiet… growing sense of despondency. You feel depressed, you feel low.. why is it happening? This feeling exists in me too.”

The tendency of people anywhere, to unite against outsiders, perceived or otherwise, is nothing uncommon. Its called xenophobia, and is as old as time. As recently as 2013, Aamir Khan was praised across large swathes of the Indian community, for lending his voice to a TV show that highlighted pressing social issues, in contrast with his peers who largely made commercial films that raked in crores of rupees, but stayed silent on most national issues of any significance. But all of those encomiums were heaped on the man and his body of work at a point in time, when India was under successive coalition governments. When he spoke out against issues the country faced, nobody so much as raised an objection to his comments, as they were perceived as being intended to improve our nation’s policies and practices to better the lives of its citizens. Medieval practices like female infanticide, or the caste system were considered fair game, and nobody batted an eyelid, everyone applauded along, and hit Like/Share/Comment. Now however, it’s a different story. Any time someone so much as mentions the government, or the prime minister in a negative light, you have these rabid fanboys (and girls) climbing over each other to heap scorn on you. Don’t believe me? Check out the comments board on any social media post criticizing the Modi/BJP government, and you will see what I mean. Aamir has learned that the hard way.

If Aamir Khan says he fears for his wife and son due to what he believes is rising intolerance in the country, pro-Hindu masses assume it MUST CERTAINLY be driven by anti-Hindu motives, because he’s Muslim. A friend said Aamir’s comments outraged him because (and I paraphrase) the common man would see/hear a big celebrity speak of growing intolerance which could stoke fears in the minority community, leading to communal violence. So the expectedly juvenile solution proposed by this fringe crowd borders on “this muslim guy doesn’t appreciate that we ‘tolerate’ him and his kind here. Maybe he thinks he will be better off in any one of ‘HIS’ countries, so let’s give him what he wants and send this S.O.B. across the border, to any of a dozen Islamic countries”. Or so goes the reasoning in BJP and vocally pro-Hindu segments, who have found popular mouthpieces lately in the forms of prominent figures like Subramanian Swamy, a member of the BJP. You see, unlike Aamir Khan, who voiced his opinion in response to a question asked in a public interview, instigators like Mr. Swamy stoke communal fears without even being asked. Ask yourself, of the two, whose words are more likely to fan flames of violence.

Yes, politicians pitting citizens against each other is a real thing. Has been, will be. The pattern certainly didn’t begin and end with the BJP coming to power. It is called vote bank politics in India, it’s called pandering in the US, and is known by various terms in various nations. The very notion of us-against-them is a time tested way to cut up a country into little parts, divide and conquer, until it is neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother, friend against friend. I say this to clarify this is NOT a new phenomenon under the BJP, but has existed in previous Indian governments as well. Having said that, the sheer volume in such incendiary comments and commentary has ratcheted up, with the tacit approval of this government. And it hasn’t happened silently, secretly, or under the table, but fairly brazenly, by leaning on the RSS and other communal-based organizations for inputs on governance. Sample this: a year into its rule, the BJP government held behind-closed-doors meetings with its parent organization, the RSS. The official tagline for this 3-day meet was an ‘exchange of notes’. The prime minister himself attended and spoke at the event. How is any member of the religious majority, or anyone from the minority for that case, supposed to expect any measure of objectivity and even-handedness from a government that rather openly associates itself with a hardline right-wing group committed to an openly communal ideology. Why then is a citizen not entitled to a viewpoint that says that intolerance is on the rise. You see, communal incidents aren’t just restricted to a number, a statistic that goes up or down with each successive government. The same statistic that says communal incidents aren’t on the rise, could say the opposite a few months before. A government leaning on its parent organization for inputs on governance and policy, is no longer the government of all, but government of a few, as reflected in cabinet appointments of trusted RSS sevaks to key positions in education and other ministries.

But we are tolerant, you say. We are, yes, compared to several other countries out there, most of them theocracies who outlaw other faiths. But that is the DIFFERENCE. India is not a theocracy, has never been one, and hopefully never will be. So we can and should do better than those other nations. Abhorrence for the Congress model of pandering to minorities should not be used as a pretext to indulge in outrage against any vocal member of the minority demographic that the Congress sought to appease. Look at the comments board on almost any online media site, and you will see large portions of the majority Hindu population across the country expressing sentiments akin to saying out loud that their time has now come, and that it is time to set right the skewed prioritization of minorities which happened under the Congress watch while overlooking the majority . I’m certainly not talking hatred of non-Hindu populations bordering on violent intent, but more of a smug one-upsmanship level of glee that the government in power represents Hindu interests, and not “sickular” interests, a supposedly derogatory term for fake secularism as practiced by the previous ruling party at the center.

Rabindranath Tagore is the author of one of my favorite poems, “Chitto Jetha Bhayshunyo” (loosely translated as ‘Where the mind is without fear’), a call to action in pre-independence India, that sounds like it was born from desperation. Had Tagore written this poem today, it is safe to say he would’ve been harassed on social media, his fans would have lined up outside his home to shout slogans about him being a “sickular” celebrity bent on weakening the multi-cultural fabric of the country. Except, there would have been no chants for him to be deported to the nearest Islamic nation. Consider the number of artists, meritorious citizens, scientists and others who chose to return awards and honors previously bestowed on them as a symbolic gesture (titled in the media as ‘Award wapsi‘) protesting growing intolerance and government silence in these cases. There were certainly Hindus in this group of silent activists. Yet, besides the expected disappointment expressed by some diehard fans of this government, there were certainly no ethnic slurs, abuses, or faux threats in their direction. Certainly, none of the Hindu participants were harassed to leave the country. If they were, I certainly didn’t hear it. Why is it then that Aamir is told to be grateful for the tolerance this country has shown him, and to be respectful for what “the country has made him”. Would such expectations be leveled against an Anupam Kher or any one of the multiple national award winners who returned awards bestowed on them by the government, who also happen to be Hindu, had they echoed similar sentiments under a Congress-led regime? What makes a Muslim any less of a citizen, or supposedly less entitled to an opinion than a Hindu citizen. There lies your answer.

humanity
You see, Khan being Muslim, or Kher being Hindu, is merely incidental to the fears and emotions they express. As a country, it is our duty to ensure that no citizen feels that way. It’s a lofty ideal, and one that we won’t ever solve in the near or even distant future. No country or civilization has, and we certainly aren’t going to be among the first. But it is an ideal that we must at least aspire to. Yet, because he belongs to a national minority, our basest instincts make his ethnicity the easiest to target, with comments such as these that have been doing the rounds on social media everywhere:

“My country is tolerant. Let’s see you find this level of tolerance anywhere in a theocracy like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia”.
“My country is tolerant, how dare you say it isn’t. Get on a train and get out, go back to Pakistan”.
“My country is tolerant, so what if ONE stray citizen was lynched a month ago for the contents of his plate”.
“My country is tolerant, so what if it really isn’t, the previous government was no better”.

In response to Aamir’s comments, taken out of context of course, have been two prominent viral posts doing the rounds. One is by a Sikh gentleman who speaks at length about how tolerant all of India has been to watch his movies, even the ones portraying Hindu gods in a negative light, and how if he had experienced intolerance all these years, even back in 1984, he never spoke up about it. The other, by a Muslim lady from Bangalore, a doctor who claims to never have faced discrimination or intolerance for as long as she can remember. To both these fine folks, I say I’m glad to hear that. But for every one citizen who hasn’t had to face intolerance, there are many more who have. So if expressing concern over the intolerance in the country is too sweeping a generalization to pardon, then so should attempts to brush every single instance of actual intolerance under the carpet by citing one person’s individual experiences.

Incidentally, today is the 26th of November 2015. On this night, 7 years ago, terrorists launched what was the largest coordinated attacks on Indian soil in a long while. In times of war as on that night, we band together, united under the flag of country. In times of peace, almost counter-intuitively, we challenge each other’s pride in country, patriotism, or religion. It’s almost like when there is no war, we seek out and set up reasons to wage ideological wars. Where terrorism is involved, it is clear that these incidents have nothing to do with religion. If they were, then terrorists would handpick and save their own, and kill only others. No, that isn’t the case. Muslims also died in the Mumbai terror attacks of  2008, because “religious” terror really has no religion. Communal violence and unrest, on the other hand, are instigated and perpetrated, strictly in the name of religion, or ethnic identity. And it is these communal incitement that needs to be carefully monitored, because as long as politicians are allowed to bait citizens, whether in India or elsewhere across the world, a nation’s people will fight outsiders in times of war, and fight each other in times of peace.

November 15, 2015

A prayer to the Heavens

Filed under: politics,Ponderings on Life — rajivmathew @ 2:03 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

You created life on earth a billion years ago
You chose to wipe out the dinosaurs not long after.

You occupy the heavens and look down on us mortals.
You can be seen in the beautiful night sky

You can spare people’s lives if you so choose.
You can utterly annihilate the human race if you desire.

Some await you arrival signaling the end of the world.
Others dread your next coming.

So, if you’re up there, and if you’re listening ….

…. dear God METEORITE

come wipe us out now.

July 30, 2012

If you can’t beat them …..

……. who are we kidding. Of course we can. Apart from molesting them, slapping them, degrading them, infantilizing them, groping them, sexually assaulting them, and possibly raping them. All in broad daylight. If there were a sport called find-women-having-a-reasonably-good-time-and-beat-the-living-shit-out-of-them, us Indians (or atleast the self-appointed-goons among us) would win the gold, silver and bronze hands down, every four years. Hell, we’d get a walkover at all future Olympics. Two incidents in the last two months have helped India wake up to this epiphany. Which is why, even as we speak, Suresh ‘pocketed-most-of-the-CWG-funds-toward-much-needed-ethics-transplant-surgery’ Kalmadi is vociferously lobbying the halls of Parliament, trying desperately to get our elected netas to, in turn, lobby the IOC to recognize FWHARGTABTLSOOT as an official sport of the 2016 Olympics.

 

 

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Olympic(k on women) games have been going on for a while in India now. Of note, the latest variant, in which journalists desperately trying to up the ante (no, not Nita Ambani; e………asy Bhajji, down boy) on their TRPs, actually incite mobs to gather around women, assault them, drag them by their hair along the street and do as they please, and proceed to capture aforementioned beizzati on film, for subsequent ultra slow-mo replay and (literal) blow-by-blow analysis on struggling television channel.

 

The latest incident in Mangalore brings to memory a similar fiasco in the same city a little over three years ago. Lest we forget, the  attacks on a group of party-hopping youngsters at a pub back on Jan 24th 2009 were perpetrated by a rabid bunch of Hindu moralists. You know, the kind that beat their wife to a pulp back home, but are against Sherlyn Chopra posing for Playboy because (and I paraphrase): “It is an affront to our motherland’s glorious cultural and moral heritage”. This time around, a group of youngsters allegedly celebrating their friend’s birthday were accused of hosting a ‘rave’ party. Enter the Smug Saffron Scoundrels, ready to dole out a well-deserved dose of beating, slapping and thrashing.

 

Most of you will cry foul at this next bit. I get that as we speak, well-meaning organizations like India Against Corruption are fighting a lone war to clean the scam (and urine-stained) halls of government. I get that  they have a clear objective vis-a-vis elimination of corruption in beloved Hindustan. I also get, and respect the personal sacrifice most of the activists make, risking family and self to stand out in the sun, forgoing food and/or water, while lazier software-employed, air-conditioned-office-sitting armchair activists (yours truly included)  ‘share’ or ‘like’ a picture of a corruption fighting octagenarian on their favourite social network.

 

That said, how about we put aside corruption for, oh I don’t know, the better part of next century, and focus instead on elimination of rape on our streets. Because I sure as hell would prefer to live with paying the paan-chewing pear-shaped government babu Rs. 5000 to get the electricity meter installed in my home, than see someone’s daughter/sister/wife/girlfriend dragged along the streets because she had a drink (or two). This charade of moral/religious policing has to stop. To be clear, it isn’t just the beard-sporting, gun-wielding Pakistani who qualifies to be a terrorist. We have far too many homegrown terrorism within our borders to be pointing to Pakistan (or other Islamic countries) as sources of terrorism. Anytime another of these reprehensible bastards step out of their house to protect their religion, the life of another woman is at stake. Today it might just be a statistic. [X] girls assaulted in bar in Mangalore. Tomorrow, it could be your daughter.

 

The last time this happened, the leader of Shri Rama Sena was sent pink chaddis by the handful. Apparently feeling overlooked, the Hindu Janagarana Vedike stepped up this time, and is possibly anticipating a huge booty (honestly, no pun intended) of colorful lingerie. As a friend so eloquently put it though, “…. the time for sending pink chaddis is over”. It is time for us to collectively take responsibility for this shambolic state of affairs in this country. Everytime a principal is found guilty of calling in his own young wards into his office to satisfy some depraved urge. Everytime a news reporter is found inciting all-too-ready roadside goons to carry out their thuggery on women and men doing nothing more than having a good time. Everytime a Hindu/Muslim/Christian/Other vigilante rushes into a pub/bar/restaurant claiming to be upholding Indian morals, whilst simultaneously slapping a girl across the face. Everytime one or more such incidents happen in plain sight, rather than whip out our iPhones to capture the video for later upload to prominent social network for shares/likes/comment gathering, keep that god awful phone in your pocket. Step up, and hold these pond scum accountable.

 

A prominent public transport anti-terrorism awareness program in New York carries the slogan ‘If you see something, say something’. How about we adopt that to our current situation. ‘If you see something, DO something’. Like catch these greasy monkeys. Shoot the bastards where the sun don’t shine. Then hang them from the 10th floor of the nearest multiplex. Let’s teach these sonsofbitches a lesson. Perhaps it’s time for some good ol’ Saudi Arabian justice. You know, ‘an eye for an eye’. ‘A tooth for a tooth’. ‘A penilectomy for a sexual assault’.

 


POST-SCRIPT

As reported by Mangalore Today, the HJV has reacted strongly to the accusations flying thick and fast. I leave to you, the reader, the task of draw conclusions pertaining to the level of intellect posessed by these buffoons. Presenting to you, exhibit A. And B.

Milord, I rest my case.

 

 

 

April 27, 2012

Rapists aren’t Vampires

I know. Weird title. But allow me to explain: A prominent Indian news channel reported the other day “The Gurgaon administration on Wednesday has washed its hands clean off the twin rape cases in the city, telling women instead to stay at home and not work beyond 8 pm in commercial establishments. The administration has reportedly directed all malls and commercial establishments to take permission from the Labour Department to have their women employees working beyond 8 pm. A second rape was reported from Gurgaon on Tuesday night, which came within 48 hours of the gangrape of a 24-year-old, who was dragged out from her car near the Sahara Mall, taken to a flat and sexually assaulted by 7 men.” Wow Gurgaon government. You’ve really outdone yourselves this time. I won’t EVEN begin to contest your premise that women are being raped in your city because they’re staying out too late. A two-year old can spot more holes in that argument than in a block of swiss cheese. No. I’ll spend my remaining keystrokes trying to confirm to myself that I did indeed read that right.

A woman. Gets dragged from her car. And gets raped. By 7 men, no less.

And the one thing you find issue with. IS TIMING.

I see what happened. You got confused there. You thought we were talking about vampires. They both suck. They’re both slimy despicable life forms that have lived through wars, genocide, nuclear holocaust (quite like cockroaches, actually) for generations, and possibly will, for generations to come. I can see how anyone could make that mistake. But even so, what did you MENSA rejects think those men were doing all that day. Sitting around in their dungeon, looking up weather.com to establish the exact time of sunset so they could go outside? You must have them confused with the metrosexual vampire or the steroid-laced werewolf from that Twilight series. What did you think, they were afraid to come out because the sunlight would instantly vaporize them? Do you really think a typical conversation between rapists goes like this:

RAPIST #1 – Dude, it’s that time of the day.

RAPIST #2 – Naa dude, not yet. It’s only 7:00 PM. It was Daylight Saving day yesterday, remember?  Let’s watch some MTV.

RAPIST #1 – Screw you, I’m calling #3, #4 and #5.  You sit around lazing in that sofa all day. I hate you.

RAPIST #3 – Yea, screw you, MAN. It’s like I don’t even know you anymore.

RAPIST #4 & #5 – *Nodding in agreement*

Speaking of solutions: How about a legislation requiring you incompetent buffoons ministers to NEVER step outside your home after 8 AM. Because  once the lynch mob (waiting as we speak, outside your 10 feet high compound wall, to smack the silly out of your brains) is done with you and your intelligence-challenged lot, you all will be left wishing that it was those rapists coming after you instead.

While we’re at it, perhaps it’s time for the Health Ministry officials, Gurgaon ministers and other politicos of the state and across the country to consider passing legislation allowing women to have their LIC policy terms updated, to include coverage for an annual refill on one clove of garlic, a rosary, a vial of holy water, and a pocket-size crucifix. That, plus a monthly cable subscription that covers ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ reruns, showing women of all ages the proper technique to drive a stake through an assailant’s chest. If that doesn’t teach those vampires rapists to stay the hell away, nothing will. Then, we as a country can go back to watching Biggggest Boss or IPL5 with a clear conscience, knowing we’ve done our part to make women safe in this country. Of course — teaching men, young and old to respect women, or increasing police cover and improving law enforcement patrol vehicles in the seedy underbelly of the country, or passing stricter anti-rape legislation, or even, God forbid,  our evolution as society beyond the rape-happens-meh-live-with-it mentality — basically any approach other than covering our women from head to foot and ordering them to stay locked indoors after dark, would be foolish now, wouldn’t it?

[image courtesy]

January 21, 2012

Facebook and the Age of Virtual Activism

Time was when activism meant picketing on the streets, getting your voice heard. Or sitting in a cramped prison cell in silent protest, against a despicable racial segregation movement eating your country. Time was when protests were something you DID, for something you believed in wholeheartedly. Time was also when if you thought something was f*cked up, you’d do whatever it took to fight back. Like parking yourself in front of a military tank about to crush you down like a flea, and take a stand.

 

 

_____________________________________________

 

NOW, is obviously NOT that time

 

 

 

February 4, 2011

Abbreviated

Life’s too short, we are told. With a world gone digital, and everyone online, it appears our vocabulary has shrunk to a handful of ridiculous acronyms to meet the need of the times. It seems like, almost overnight, we’ve been transported into an alternate universe when kids rattle off the exact specifications on a Wii or PS3 before they’ve even learned the ABC. Elementary school kids, barely out of diapers, are busy circulating the latest forwarded SMS, while their more illustrious seniors are busy doing the naughty on MMS (LOL!) A 6-year old who’s just graduated from potty training could put you to shame with his ability to rattle off the names of every character in every video game, from CoD to WoWAoE to GTA, GP4 to GT4. Every teen, tween, and pre-pubescent is going OMG at the latest Justin Bieber video. We’re obsessed with celebrities and their lives, who they did LSD with, or how many partners they’ve had SEX with (TMI!). In an always online world, everyone’s status line is habitually set to DND, and even if they do find the time to talk, they’ll always BRB because they’ve GTG. We all have varying degrees of ADD, switching between Facebook, Hulu, Youtube and ESPN while attempting to finish work due the next day, from within the confines of the same four mind-numbing walls of the same office cubicle. Every yuppie BSC and MBA aspirant is awake late at night, trying to ace one or all of the CETSATACTGRE, CAT, just so he can secure his ticket into the IIT or IIM of choice, ensuring his place as the newest FOB to fly BLR -> LHR -> JFK to take over as the CEO or CFO of a massive corporate empire like UPS or UBS, in a swank office overlooking NYC.

With IPL season 4 due to begin soon, it can only mean one thing; more ADD at the office, and even more OCD at home, characterized by family feuds for control of the TV remote, between equally passionate fans of the rival EPL and NBA leagues. When cricket isn’t on the tube, RAW is WAR. When neither of these is on, CSI rules primetime TV, I don’t know WTF for (SMH). If all else fails, it’s time to switch between CNNIBNABCBBCNBC and the slew of trusty 24-hour news channels that recycle and repackage the same combination of non-news ad naueseumIDK about you, but IMO the standard of television programming has plummeted depths heretofore unknown to the human civilization.

As a PPL, we have disturbingly low patience levels today. Every website has an FAQ page; every bank has an ATM, because everyone wants to get things done ASAP. We don’t have enough time to procreate the natural way, so we go in for IVF. We demand instant gratification, without any of the hassle or effort. Unable to cook at home, and unwilling to even try tossing a relatively healthy BLT on the BBQ, we buy dangerously toxic sludge ‘food’ (AKA ‘Happy’ meals, McNuggets, and Whoppers) from KFC and McD, and watch in surprise as we pack on the LBS. Too tired from the weight gain and premature onset of obesity, we barely have enough energy to WFH. Mechanics and garages are no longer open, because every Tom, Dick and Sally has a DIY kit from the ACE hardware store; but if you are unable to get past step 1 on the installation manual, good luck since the only thing you’ll reach if you call customer support is an IVR machine, or if you’re really lucky, an employee in a call center in BLR, who, even if he does an adequate job of helping with what you need, will get no more than a cursory grunt of acknowledgement. Lets face it, we’re in such a hurry, who has time to say things like THX, leave alone PLZ, SRY and ILU?

For a gadget to catch our attention, it has got to be flashy, sleek, fast, or all of the above. Your neighbour down the road just purchased the latest and greatest IBM, with the hottest RAM and superfast CPU, which means it’s definitely time for you to upgrade from your 20 year old computer running DOS so you can download pirated music from the best P2P service online. Your USP might be ESP, but today, nobody will even notice, since they’re busy on their PSP. Technology has empowered the common man beyond what anyone ever imagined. It’s fairly simple today to purchase a full-fledged SLR and all the snazzy equipment that comes with it, and begin snapping away as many JPGs as your gigantic memory card can hold, and JLT you’re a star photographer.In a digital world obsessed with computers, FUD is the order of the day. Y2K came and went at the turn of the millennium, yet none of us died. The CIAFBI and NSA would have you believe everyone who reads a koran is a terrorist, and do a fine job of trying to make you fear for your life everytime you walk down the street. Online, everyday is a never-ending saga of OWN or PWN, with some hacker breaking into and accessing unauthorized data. Any and every achievement, big or small, is trumped online as being FTW. Yes, seriously. WTF is FTW? Technology moves along at breakneck pace, best exemplified by antiques like STDISDFAX and PCO which have died a slow and painful death, leaving clueless phone booth operators in their wake, as every second techno-savvy teen whips out their shiny new HTC which claims to do everything short of actually substituting for toilet paper.

The economy today has been in a steady downward spiral for longer than we can remember. PSUs sink each day, and companies announce very public and very profitable IPOs to make hay while the sun shines. NGOs have mushroomed all over the place, almost like a rodent infestation. Each day the USD, the INR and the GBP wage a largely pointless battle for currency superiority. No matter what you purchase, big or small, whether it be a top-of-the-line DVD or VCD player, or a spanking new ZENKIAGMC, or a DIO, you have to think long and hard ABT your how much you’re willing to shell out on your EMI at the end of the month.

FYI, contrary to what you think, politics is no different in India than it is in the USA. There you have the INC fighting the BJP. Here you have the DEMs fighting the GOP. The same scumbag politicians are in it to win it; benefactors of kickbacks offered by powerful corporate lobby houses, from the NRA to AIG, LIC to ING. In 2001 Saddam was suspected to be hiding WMDs, the US government has long been suspected to be hiding UFOs,  and Chinese restaurants have long been blatantly loading MSG in their food. Sure, it tastes GR8, but apparently it’s bad for you (FML!).  At the EOD, maybe its time to sit down and face the harsh reality. Let’s say a quiet RIP for a world possessed of some sanity, which we lost ages ago. Maybe it’s time to send an SOS to our last hope for a solution, Santa Claus. NVM actually. Maybe some things aren’t meant to be fixed.

Hold on JAM. I gotta take this call.

“Hello …”

“Yes, speaking. Who’s this.”

“Jimmy who? Sorry? Jimmy Wales? ”

“Sincere thanks from the folks at Wikipedia for all the link-backs to your home page? Why, you’re most welcome. What’s that you say, 1000 unique hits in an hour? ”

GTG for now. BRB.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

This post is an obviously amateur, slightly comical take on the pervasiveness of acronyms and shorthand in the lexicon of present-day English usage all over the world. It is a humble tribute to the late legend, George Carlin, (inspired largely by THIS performance entitled ‘Modern Man’). Watching it, you can’t help but simultaneously be left in awe at the genius of this man, as well as be let down by the intellectually inferior fare you just read.

January 22, 2011

Dear Dumbanis,

Hope you’re both doing well. Here’s wishing you and the family a happy and prosperous New …… who am I kidding. You stupid, self-promoting twits. As I write this, buzz around town is that one (and more recently, both) of you numskulls has just completed construction on a fine phallic edifice monument to your financial prowess, and have since moved into the self-aggrandizing masterpiece you call home, or Antillia, as it is known to the rest of India. Me, I prefer to call it the world’s tallest residence for the world’s smallest man. Given the complete and utter lack of upper body strength that compelled the missus to jump into the waiting arms of the Indian cricket team’s self-styled pahalwan not too long ago, I could be forgiven for thinking you’d have set aside an entire floor for a state-of-the-art gym. Apparently not.

Cue instant outrage, effigy-burning, protests, bundhs and anti-wordpress slogans from the lips of every gob-smacked Ambani-loving, socialist-hating, anti-slum, pro-development Tom, Dick and Hari who owns a Indian Rupee ₹ 1000 Reliance phone.

You know that old folk saying; “A fool and his brother are seldom parted” (or was that money. It doesn’t sound quite right, but boy it fits the purpose). Anil, is that you I see down the street, trying to outdo the bhai. You’re more than a trifle lighter than your elder brother around the waistline, but for sheer volume (or lack thereof) of grey matter, the two of you seem to be having a keen tussle  for 1st place. I am willing to bet my life savings that the two of you were adopted; your father (and 15 previous generations put together) sure as hell weren’t as vain and self-indulgent as either of you two imbeciles.

Lets be honest here; aren’t you both a tad bit too old to be playing “mine’s bigger” at the shareholders’ expense? I’d have thought that phase of your life would’ve passed atleast 20, maybe 30 years ago. Yet, here you fine gentlemen megalomaniacs are, at 53 and 51 respectively,  one having just completed work on a  27-storey house, with  600 full-time staff to maintain a “home” widely considered the most expensive residence in the world with a price tag of over USD 1 billion (Indian Rupee ₹ 4500 crore).  At 48,780 sq ft, you might argue that your house is a paltry 0.25% of Dharavi slum on the other side of Mumbai, and not worth spending this much time and space obsessing over. I’m not sure the good folks from Dharavi would share your point of view though. You see, out there in Dharavi, people are forced to live in tiny shanties, barely able to make enough for the entire family to eat, so some days, the parents might go hungry so their kids can have a morsel of food to pacify their restless young stomachs. Out there  (source: Wikipedia)

Dharavi has severe problems with public health, due to the scarcity of toilet facilities, due in turn to the fact that most housing and 90% of the commercial units in Dharavi are illegal. As of November 2006 there was only one toilet per 1,440 residents in Dharavi. Mahim Creek, a local river, is widely used by local residents for urination and defecation, leading to the spread of contagious disease. The area also suffers from problems with inadequate drinking water supply.

Yes. 1 toilet per 1440 residents. Which means if an extra poor resident of  Tent #18, Slum Road, Dharavi were to have an extra spicy plate of white rice and nothing else last night, he’d stand an even smaller chance of making it to the front of the line to take a dump in time, than you would of winning next season’s The Biggest Loser.

All of this leads up to the inevitable question. I’m sorry, but I have to ask. Are you idiots? Or are you IDIOTS. On the one hand, we have you “corporate” Ambanis, making such erudite statements like  “I think that our fundamental belief is that for us growth is a way of life and we have to grow at all times.” Based on the sheer height of your residence, and the lack of any effort to help the aam aadmi in recent memory, I’m guessing you did NOT meant economic growth. Or maybe you are confusing India for Greece, where opulence was the norm, rather than the exception. In that case, however, you should be sitting in all your naked glory (those reading this, I offer my profuse and sincere apologies for that disturbing mental image),  watching other royals bathe in the communal pools next door, while some Greek goddess(es) feed you grapes, and your servants try their hardest to wave the royal fans in your direction to get some airflow into those folds under your flabby arms. Seriously man, The Biggest Loser. Give them a call.

Azim Premji (not typically a man known for philanthropy, or public displays of magnanimity (not to his employees atleast) recently made waves with his decision to pledge Rs. 8800 crores to development of schools, and education in India, particularly in the state of Karnataka. Employees of Wipro Technologies might now be wishing they were back in primary school, if only to be party to some of Mr. Premji’s riches. I quote the story of Mr. Premji to demonstrate that not every rich jackass is, well, a pompous jackass. Surely, Ambanis, your father meant Kar lo duniya mutthi mein, NOT ungli do balcony se (for the uninitiated, that roughly translates to — Surely your father meant ‘capture the world in the palm of your hand’, NOT ‘give your city the finger from your balcony’). Precisely why you would want to build a $1 Billion house is beyond me. Was it to measure how far your spittle would bounce off the asphalt as you spit on the face of Mumbai. Were you hoping to be cast by Danny Boyle in the next installment of his Indian rags-to-riches saga, “Scumdog Billionaire” ?

Now I know what you (along with your cousin, in-laws, siblings, ex- step father, uncle & aunty) are probably saying; “what is this obnoxious blowhard so upset about. Shouldn’t it be every individual’s prerogative to determine the extent to which he/she wishes to get involved in charity/philanthropy ?”. Short answer: Ordinarily, yes. Let me elaborate. To put in perspective how much Indian Rupee ₹ 4400 crores is, have a look at this video.

 

Sure, giving is not everyone’s cup of tea. And I completely respect that. IF its an everyday upper/lower middle-class citizen in this country that we’re talking about. Here, on the other hand, are two men who, between them have enough corporate lobbying power to ensure they (have got and continue to) get a thousand different subsidies from the government. Whether it be:

  • Throwaway power tariffs so moguls like these can power on the millions of kW worth of “energy saving” CFLs and chandeliers in their corporate ballrooms and billion dollar homes for dirt cheap, while in nearby villages like Vidarbha, residents are faced with 8-hour power cuts on a daily basis.
  • Purchasing vast stretches of fertile (prospective agricultural) land for their sprawling 1000-acre corporate offices
  • Conveniently landing themselves into lower tax brackets (thanks to multiple obscure Swiss and Middle East bank accounts)
  • Soliciting and obtaining municipal approval for multiple criss-crossing flyovers and elevated expressways leading right into their offices; OR
  • Obtaining subsidies for selling ‘organic’ agricultural produce for steep prices in their upscale Reliance Fresh supermarkets (at the expense of the average farmer who barely makes a living selling tomatoes for Indian Rupee ₹ 2 a kg)

these guys have the government in their back pocket. Here are two sons-of-guns who have  mooched crores off government revenues, working the system to construct a behemoth of an Indian empire thus far. Now that I think about it, maybe I’m over-reacting. Maybe it’s wrong to ask a businessman of such affluence to contribute, in some minuscule way to the development of the city he calls home. Call me socialist, but in MY India, the wealthy don’t just get to construct slumfront edificies to rub it in the face of more than 50% of the country that lives below the poverty line. But hey, that’s just me.

Disgust and rage aside, from the millions and millions of aam aadmi in this dear country, I offer you a heartfelt thank you. For showing us that money cannot buy taste, just a crappy ugly-as-batshit skyrise. Hope you have a happy housewarming. Wait. Scratch that. Hope your 8 (thats right, EIGHT) elevators inexplicably malfunction simultaneously, giving you the opportunity (while you walk up and down 27 flights of stairs), to figure out a way to spend your money that doesn’t scream out Screw you, I’m rich. As for the missus, well, maybe she could use a few extra floors to house her precious collection of vintage MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, Saurabh Tiwary and (insert name of muscular sportsman here) posters. A humble suggestion from this humble observer; before your next corporate splurge, please add ‘find a new architect’ to the To-do list on your Blackberry. Oh, and the next time you spend $1 billion on a home, try to make it not look like what a 3 year old would make using his Lego collection.

Sincerely,

A concerned citizen

September 23, 2010

The Scum-n-Wealth Games

© http://www.timescontent.com

 

Welcome to India. The land of open sewers, stray dogs, dengue fever, and lower standards of hygiene. Or atleast that’s what the clowns (read: politicians) running this circus (read: country) would have you believe. A land of plenty (excuses, that is) and poverty (the entire sporting infrastructure, recently broken overhead bridge included, was built using silly putty and superglue, because, you see, we simply cannot afford cement to build actual bridges in the midst of this recession).  Lalit Bhanot, secretary general of the Commonwealth Games organising committee, was heard saying at a news conference recently that the athletes’ accommodation needed a “deep cleaning”, but everything would be ready on time. “According to us the room may be clean, but the foreign officials may require a certain standard of cleanliness and hygiene which may differ from our standards,” he said. Welcome to India, indeed. Swalpa adjust maadi.

STUPID phoren people with their hygiene and precious sanitation. The nerve of those spoilt brats! Yes sir, our Indian athletes would much rather sleep on a surface that was earlier defecated on by a stray animal, than on a clean, plush mattress made from a thousand goose feathers.  They most certainly prefer to perform their morning ablutions in toilets that won’t flush, and bathtubs that won’t drain. I assure you, our beloved Indian sportsmen wouldn’t mind taking communal showers, and sleeping on bamboo floor mats. Speaking of standards, we DEFINITELY have extremely low ones, and those are best typified in the hordes of uneducated illiterate buffoons we elect to take charge of the highest offices in the country.

My sympathies go out to our esteemed IOA chairman, and head of the Commonwealth Games committee Mr. Suresh Kalmadi; how, in his infinite wisdom could he have predicted in 2003 upon leading a successful Indian bid for the 2010 games, that 7 years of notice would not suffice to build a stadium and sporting facilities atleast upto national standards, leave alone international standards. How dare the CWG committee thrust such impractical, unreasonable expectations on his fragile shoulders ? Reached for comment, Suresh Kalmadi had this to say. Wait, whats that ? He’s nowhere to be found ? Manmohan Singh has relieved him of his duties ? Oh.

Speaking of imbeciles, somewhere on a yacht in the middle of the Indian Ocean, with a proximity-sensing CBI-issued ankle bracelet strapped to his weary legs, a certain Mr. Lalit Modi is quietly exulting in the fact that he isn’t the biggest scamster in Indian sport. That honour now goes to the Indian government, the CWG committee and the thousands of greasy yes-men involved in this fiasco, who now stand head and shoulders above the rest, in terms of sheer incompetence. Given how this is going, the sadist in me is definitely looking forward to the 1st ever Indian Formula-1 race scheduled to be held in Delhi next year. Chances are, we could have potholes instead of hairpin bends, stray dogs patrolling the track instead of race stewards, makeshift tarpaulins to make up for the lack of a roof, and plastic chairs in lieu of grandstands lined with Tifosi.

Of course, none of this fiasco would be possible without the wilful support and encouragement of all species that constitute the government food chain, from the bottom (the office babu with paan stains on his white shirt white pant and white shoes), through the mid-level contractor(s) building the stadiums, all the way to the top (sports minister who doesn’t know what a Commonwealth IS), and ending with the (dis)honourable chief minister Ms. Sheila Dixit. Upon being questioned about the quality (or lack thereof) of the games facilities, Ms. Dixit appeared peeved, before nonchalantly replying “The games are not collapsing”. Umm, I’m sorry to interrupt you madam, but the makeshift roof at the weightlifting arena just did.

The “We are like this wonly” attitude is what has carried our beloved country thus far, and God forbid we let it go now. Which probably explains our elation upon getting a silver Olympic medal after 50 years, instead of dejection on missing out on the gold. We are a nation of average (hygiene and standards, apparently). Or our ability to summon the gall needed to tell the world this is our idea of an international sporting event. It’s why we decide to spend millions of Rupees to stage a bid for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, then decide to do a half-ass job of it. We are like that wonly.

At the time of going to press, word around town is that the nearly 200-strong England national athletic contingent have been asked to share a 8-bed 1-bath apartment in the Sri. Sri. Rajiv Gandhi Memorial Residential block (you seem surprised by that name) of the aforementioned athletes village. Also crammed into the 8 bedrooms – a herd of cows that wandered in from nearby pastures, who now refuse to leave. The Brits seem to have hammered out a sleeping arrangement with the cows, the terms of which dictate that the athletes themselves will abdicate their beds to the cows, so long as the bovines don’t leave cow dung lying around on the floor. The poor Poms have also been requested to share toothpaste, soap and towels for the duration of the games with the Australian team sleeping on the balcony, a request that was met with an emphatic “Sod off, MATE ! by the Aussie team.

Let the shames, I mean Games, begin.

April 30, 2010

Of Blimps, Pimps and Corporate Chimps

The IPL circus has come to a close. Time to shut off the lights on that BLEDDY blimp, and go home. Except for Lalit Modi. The poster boy of IPL’s fall from grace will be twiddling his thumbs behind bars for a long time to come, thats for sure.

In surmising the events of the last 50 days, nothing quite typifies the pomposity, the vulgar show of banality and mind-numbing annoyance like the MRF blimp. That’s right, A BLIMP !! A fascinating manifestation of just how far science and technology have brought the human civilization. An oversized helium baloon, suspended miles in the sky, for no apparent purpose, save for flashing red neon lights that might have reminded MS Dhoni of certain parts of the city where people would come up to him and speak in Tamil. Thats right, a BLIMP. Not just ANY blimp, NOT one of those sophisticated blimps employed in stadia and sports arenas across the world, to provide the couch potato at home  a unique vantage point to look at the action down there. This blimp, has no such appendages, no apparent reason. Just the MRF logo, emblazoned on it. A comatose blimp, in a vegetative state. Someone pull the plug, please.

Which brings me to the MRF blimp’s BIGGEST  fans. Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, and Danny Morrison. Someone, have mercy and tie these two by the ankles to the MRF blimp, and untie the harness, letting it soar away. Good riddance to, as Geoff Boycott would say, Roobish. These insufferable fools would have you wishing someone instead put a steel drum over your head, and slammed against it with heavy metal rods until your aural senses went numb. Dumb and Dumber here are proud owners of a combined IQ less than a baby chipmunk, have a fine-tuned penchant to combine the words Karbon Kamaal Katch, DLF Maximum, AND Citi Moment of Success in increasingly bizarre and inane sentences, and have that elusive ability to induce mass projectile vomiting. Factor in the ability to make even the most devoted cricket fan want to throw a brick through his new 3D HDTV screen, and voila, you’ve got two chimps who make Shastri and Gavaskar appear less intolerable. Next season’s sponsor ? Karbon Kamaal Kowdung. “I use it to maintain the fine balance of  OIL and DANDRUFF in my hair, says Laxman whatshisface, and Danny chimes in with, “Oh you LITTLE beauty …..”, “Gotta love those Double D’s”, “This one’s outta here” and other derived tripe.

Lest we forget, the BCCI, that everlasting beacon of transparency, honesty and all thats good and pure, was involved in the match-fixing brouhaha all along. Those of you baying for Lalit Modi’s blood, here’s the deal. Guys like Modi have been in business as long as there are sweaty government palms ready and waiting to be greased. These imbeciles have hung on to the goose laying the golden egg, and today they expect us to believe that Pimpmaster Pimpy was acting alone. To those that are standing up for Shashi Tharoor, STOP. NOW. He isn’t innocent. Not by a long stretch. He may not be in as deep as Modi, but the sh*t has well and truly hit the fan. To those of you still creating Facebook petitions, fan pages and groups for Tharoor, as also the twits that are tweeting protests requesting Manmohan Singh to take him back, a word of advice: Delete that precious Facebook petition, and go get a life ! As someone said in the wake of the scandal recently (ironically enough, on Facebook) :

Daal me kala zaroor hai, aur kitne Tharoor hain


That this steaming pile of putrid compost (and NO, I’m not referring to Lalit Modi or Shilpa Shetty) emerged because of the recklessness of one overconfident IPL commissioner on Twitter reveals how easy it could have been to expose this fiasco all along. All the information was out there, although, we the gullible customers were sold, hook line and sinker, with the hoopla, the dancing and bright lights. Quite expectedly, the major players (read, Priety Zinta, Vijay Mallya et al) have come out in support of their beleaguered puppet-master, saying aspersions should not be cast on Mr. Modi, and that the law should take its due course.  Surprise surprise!  Of course you would want him to be exonerated, wouldn’t you. Cause that would legitimize the seedy underbelly (again, NOT talking about Shilpa Shetty’s love handles, or Mr. Modi’s generous curves) of the IPL. Thankfully, this week has brought the welcome news that Lalit Modi has been suspended by the BCCI. I welcome this decision, although with mixed emotions. Without a scapegoat to write about anymore, is there any point in watching or writing about the Pimpin’ League anymore ?

Controversy and jokes aside, could someone please reveal to me the identity of the IPL’s misguided chief marketing strategist. Because, whoever this guru is, he definitely should be stripped of the correspondence MBA he was awarded for the tons of half-baked management gyaan he learnt taking evening classes at the MRF Blimp Business School down the road. How, and I mean HOW, could someone convince leading brands like LG, MRF, DLF, Videocon, Samsung (ok, so they’re not EXACTLY leading brands), to destroy the infinitesimal brand value they carried, by labelling every inch of the player uniforms, player underwear (possibly), the outfield, and stadium urinals with their logos, together with strategically placed corporate chimps (read commentators) simultaneously assaulting all sensory organs, by yelling out irrelevant brand names ad nauseum at not-too-infrequent-intervals. How exactly is a brand like DLF supposed to be attracting enough positive attention to its gargantuan construction ventures if  the selfsame consumer’s sensory organs have been so relentlessly and horrifically abused over a 60-day period to the point that he now wants to pick up a knife and throw it at the next guy who yells DLF Maximum ! Or, the makers of Karbon Kamaal cellphones. What sort of reassurance are we, as potential customers of the Karbon Kamaal phones, supposed to be filled with, when we see these brilliant geniuses spell Katch with a K.

Between equal doses of corruption and scandal, the IPL also witnessed its first dose of  live unscripted entertainment. And entertainment it sure was. Cue, Harbhajan Singh hoisting a clearly piss-drunk Neeta Ambani into his broad arms.  Or Shah Rukh Khan’s coming out party. It’s evident Mr. Chesty McForesty (read Karan Johar) is in some corner, burning with rage at the sight, but thats a topic for another day. Hey, atleast its no longer a secret. Also witnessed, was Harbhajan-grope-any-girl-like-there’s-no-tomorrow Singh and Shanthakumaran-I’m-begging-to-be-slapped-again Sreesanth, discovering a Maa tatoo on their forearms, and discovering they were brothers separated at birth, upon which realization, they proceeded to give bromance a bad name with the usual rehearsed hug and tears routine.

The Pimping League will return next year, right on schedule, more pimped out, laden with more hyperbole, and overstuffed with an equally cringe-inducing lineup of greasy stars and corporate buffoons. Here’s a picture. Its the IPL. 2011. Bangalore squeak through to a narrow 255-run win over the Cochin Coconuts in the grand finale. Vijay Mallya runs out of the dugout, at breakneck speed, headed towards Virat Kohli,. The camera pans in on both of them. The lights dim. The video plays in slow-mo. They approach each other. Mallya jumps in to Virat’s outstretched arms. Both do a twirl, hold the pose for the flashing lightbulbs. Kohli is subsequently ruled out of playing for the next 5 years, due to, among other things, a herniated 20th vertebra. Not so pretty when it isn’t a dainty middle-aged woman jumping into a young turbanator’s arms is it ?

Well, for now, I’m just glad the lights have been turned off on this miserable charade. I can go home and rest in …… Wait, whats that red light up in the sky? It looks like, M ….. R ….. What the F ?!?!?!?


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