Babble Without a Pause

April 29, 2016

A love letter

Filed under: Love and Happiness,Random musings,Uncategorized — rajivmathew @ 4:50 am
Tags: , , ,
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

 

A little under 2 years ago,  here I sat, hunched over my laptop the night before your first day in Business School, trying to put words to paper. That day, back in May 2014, you were at a crossroad, and you were about to embark on a journey you had seen and touched in your dreams, but never experienced. As I sat in the living room and heard you sound asleep, many thoughts crossed my mind. Worry, elation, stress. But the overriding emotion that night was pride.

2 years on, and that feeling hasn’t changed. You will graduate today. It is a dream I feel I have dreamed almost as often as you have. And I am proud to have been taken along for the ride. As I sat back these 2 years, the silent observer in the corner witnessing you take on everything the world could throw at you, that feeling of pride has only grown, and grown, and grown. Today, its almost the end of April 2016. Pride in you continues to override all else.

What you have done my dear, I have seen no one else do. And that isn’t just husband-speak for “Congrats”. It is my sincerest yet failed attempt at capturing the enormity of what I have witnessed you do. Full-time job 40 hours/week. Bi-weekly flights cross-country and back. Late nights scrambling to complete assignments. Leaving the relative stability of an amazing job, risking it boldly to go searching for your big break. Through it all, your pursuit of perfection never ceased to amaze.

Lately, (and by lately I mean for the past 2 years) I tell my colleagues and our friends every chance I get: “I have no clue how she does it”. And they agree.

Years, decades from now, we’ll both be sitting down to tell our children the importance of chasing their dreams. I’ll point to them, then to that degree certificate you’ll be receiving today, sitting up on the wall all those years down the line, and say “Your ma knows”.

For a guy who  is pretty seldom found short of words, today you’ve done just that to me. I love you. I am immensely proud of you, more than I can explain right now. And because something deep inside tells me this is the start of something amazing for you, I want to tell you babe, that I can’t wait for the rest of this ride.

❤ ❤

 

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

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

 

 

 

January 11, 2012

Where everything’s made up and the point don’t matter

This morning I awoke, like I always do on a sunny Monday morning, with a smile on my face. Several minutes of scratching and belching, a couple of looks in the bathroom mirror, more scratching, and a glass of juice later, I happened to sit down to read Cricinfo, as I always do, and happened to chance upon the following tribute written in the wake of India’s crushing loss to Australia, replete with gyaan from past and present intellectuals, cricket pundits, and miscellaneous afficionados, including such greats as Maninder Singh (a former cokehead whose worldwide prominence can be gauged from the absence of even a photo on his obligatory Wikipedia page), but mercifully devoid of  scholastic analysis from that extraordinarily articulate cricketing mind of our time, Cricinfo’s very own Sambit Bal.

 

Having made it through aforementioned piece, I was filled with this sickening feeling in my stomach. No, not gas. It was the familiar feeling of having just wasted 10 minutes of your time reading an article so replete with horse manure, that you start experiencing the all too familiar existential angst of why you are where you are today, what is the meaning of life, and how the 10 minutes you just spent has forever been lost, to the infinite universe around you.

 

For those of you too lazy to click the hyperlink above, let me put it to you in a nutshell. India sail to Australia to play cricket. Ok, US citizens and NRIs and general non-cricket-watcher-types, here is where you get off the train.

 

Where was I? Oh yes:

  1. India sail fly to Australia for 4 test matches.
  2. India lose first 2 test matches.
  3. Experts start calling for heads to roll.

 

Cricinfo, let me start with you. When you began, as a small, lowly startup, much the same as CricBuzz is today, you were good at what you did. You were the shooting star in the online cricket world, trying to bridge the divide left behind when cricket, like most sports (kabaddi being the exception) began crossing over from the print medium of brilliant magazines like SportStar to the online medium. Over the years, you began crossing over into the Reality TV channel of cricket, where every move, every quote, every statistic, and every match no matter how contrived, banal, irrelevant or pointless began to be analysed, overanalyzed, and hyperanalyzed to the point that Elton John began feeling left out. Rather than stay a pure medium of reporting on cricket for India and its cricket-hungry passionate crowd, you sellouts then, well, sold yourself out to ESPN, becoming in the process, ESPNCricinfo, a web portal that, for all intents and purposes, has a live scorecard that auto-refreshes at a pace slower than the plot of ‘How I met your mother’ moves. You have become the Bollywood Masala, the ZOOM of cricket websites, keen on filling up your pages with backtrack links, ‘expert’ opinions, reports, galleries, plays, bulletins, opinions on reports, comments on galleries, and that god-damned Facebook ‘Like’ button. It is sad to see you fall this far.

 

Sanjay Manjrekar, whose sole claim to fame is __________ (anybody who knows, please fill the blanks), is one of those diehard supporters of Thayndhulkar. I understand, Mumbaikar and all. Even so, to hear him say: “VVS averages 20 in last 12 overseas innings … Even if he gets a good score in next Test it will not serve India long…” was appalling  expected. Well, Mr. Manjrekar, by that erudite rationale, he should not have been selected in the first place. His spot should have been handed to Rohit Sharma from the get go. Would’ve saved Rohit the embarassment of being thrust into the furnace without adequate preparation. It would’ve spared Laxman the humiliation. And it sure as hell would have spared us from having to see your post-hangover-face, babbling babble into the Cricinfo webcam.

 

If you think I’m being overly harsh to Cricinfo and it’s ilk, let me eliminate all traces of perceived bias, and simply present the facts for you:

  • Dravid: 39 (by the time you read this).
  • Sachin: 39 (by the time Cricinfo begins re-runs of ‘Men in Blue are the awesomest‘ articles come April)
  • Laxman: 37 (Atleast till November).

 

I agree, the process of phasing out the seniors is of paramount importance, to ensure Team India is where it wants to be three, maybe four years from now. In the context of India’s ageing stars being replaced, the logical choice would be to bring the curtains down on Sachin Tendulkar. Or perhaps Rahul Dravid. I guess what’s confounding me is, in what context is Laxman the automatic first choice to be given the pink slip. He is the youngest of the three, has the best record against Australia of the three, and in all probability will be the last of the three middle-order stalwarts to retire. Yet he’s the one (surprise, surprise) in the crosshairs.

 

The point one erudite member of the Cricinfo bandwagon made was interesting. In his article, he says among other things, (and I paraphrase): ‘Laxman has averaged a shade over 40 in the past 12 months. That average is significantly bolstered by a 58* and 176* he made against a dispirited West Indies side at the Feroz Shah Kotla and Eden Gardens last year’. Ah yes, the doesn’t-matter-because-it-was-made-against-an-also-ran-side innings. Perhaps we should exclude innings of that kind from your career record, Sanzay Manjrekar. Or you, Ravi Shastri. It would be worth taking a gander at those stats then. It can be safely said that the same dime-a-dozen commentator would’ve been crawling out of the woodwork to criticize Laxman had he not performed against the same ‘lowly’ West Indies side. How does one win with you guys, I wonder.

 

The icing on the dung cake that is cricket punditry was this gem from Anshuman Gaekwad:

Sachin still has the class, Rahul is very hard-working but I am not sure how long Laxman will be able to continue.

I see. Rahul Dravid is hard-working, VVS is not. Sachin has the class, Laxman …. (I won’t dare repeat those words, for it is, in my opinion, blasphemy). For the record, it will be well nigh impossible to discover another batsman, in this generation, or the next or even TEN generations from now, that will have the class, the grace and the beauty of batsmanship that Vangipurupu Venkata Sai Laxman charmed the cricketing world with. The man made batting a thing of beauty, the wristy flick to leg an art form.

 

In case I haven’t already, let me make it clear. I’m not trying in the least to imply Laxman is a better batsman than either Dravid or Sachin. The three of them have, between them, more than 30,000 runs in tests. All three have their place in the pantheon of Indian greats assured, whether they retire today, or two years down the line. But to call out Laxman, a man who single-handedly won India matches in the 2nd innings chasing, for the past 2 years, is abominable, nay reprehensible. Where was Gautam Gambhir, for example. Or MS Dhoni. Where, even, was Virat Kohli. This isn’t to pin the blame on the proverbial donkey. All I’m saying (as I’m sure a lot of discerning Indian fans understand), is that it takes a team to win, just as it takes a team to lose. India did not lose the two test matches so far on account of one man’s failure. It has been an abject batting display for a while now, and, given Laxman’s golden run against Australia, it is a fool who would call for blooding Rohit Sharma at Perth, Australia’s famed paciest, bounciest wicket. Sure, Rohit deserves a chance, sure Laxman will retire one day. Given his contribution to the team’s growth and improvement of their overseas record over the last decade, the least we can do is give this Indian great his chance to walk out on his terms. It isn’t like young upstarts like young Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma or Suresh Raina or even Yuvraj Singh (I know, young?, what was I thinking) have exactly burst through the ranks, scoring centuries at will, or standing up when needed, so to play the age card is a disingenuous excuse for the selectors and the aforementioned pundits.

 

Gentlemen of the on-field caliber and off-field class and upstanding spirit of Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar have rarely been the type to sit around playing into their twilight years, for records, endorsements or money, that much is guaranteed. Neither are they likely to hop into the commentary box at the drop of a hundred dollar bill (I’m looking at you Shastri and Gavaskar). When they leave, it shall be on their terms, for they will know when they hear Father Time blow the whistle to call a stop to their careers. So, this one time, I address you, Harsha Bhogle, Ian Chappell, Sanjay Manjrekar, Ravi Shastri, Maninder Singh and you countless other corporate country clowns. I also address you ‘fans’ who were drooling all over Sachin when the man scored 200* a couple years ago and went on to win the World Cup last year, and have turned on him in a heartbeat with such status messages as: “Sachin kabhi to khelo jab India is in trouble……..”. I have but one thing to say to you:

Dayavittu nimma pie-hole annu shut maadiri.

Krupaya apna pie-hole band kar de.

Dei Rascala. Pie-hole shut panna da.

Krupa karun tuza pie-hole band thev.

SHUT. YOUR. PIE-HOLE.

January 2, 2012

A Rock n’ Roll kinda New Year

Filed under: Random musings,Uncategorized — rajivmathew @ 3:38 am
Tags: , , , ,

Its been a crazy year, with everything thats come and gone. Standing on the threshold of a new year, here’s some famous words to live by.

Take it Easy in the New Year. Live Life in The Fast Lane, remembering always, that All you need is Love. Know that The Show Must Go On, and it will With or Without You, so don’t take yourself too seriously. I wish you Peace in the Funky New Year. About the year thats gone, Get Over It. If you ever end up a Victim Of Love, its gonna be hard, but Try and Love Again. Although, try not to be a Desperado.

If you’re still in the education phase of your life, I don’t need to tell you this, but you’re gonna be up All Night Long most days.  One of these Nights thoughit’ll all be over, the hard struggles of school/college. Your Stairway to Heaven may not be immediately visible to you, but Wait. Sleep each night with a Peaceful Easy Feeling, knowing full well that Your Time is gonna Come.To those of you who are working: If you like what you do, it’s time to Spread Your Wings and fly away, to soar and reach new heights this year. If you don’t, or find yourself screaming in your sleep that you Can’t Get No Satisfaction, or that you Want to Break Free, perhaps it’s time to Break on Through (To the other side), to something bigger and better.

Above all, try and walk  the Walk of Life on your own terms, One Day At A Time, with a smile on your face, and tell yourself when you’re down that you can get back up With a little help from my friends and Walk On cause tomorrow will always be a Beautiful Day.

As for 2012 and the Mayan doomsday prophecy: Well, those halfwits definitely got it wrong. So Carpe Diem Baby! Bring on the next apocalypse.

March 17, 2011

App-lied Religion

Early last week, the Catholic church announced with breathless excitement, the news everyone had been waiting to hear for decades now. No, the priests who sodomized children for decades weren’t finally found guilty and sentenced to life behind bars. The pope – who earlier the same week had urged his hordes of faithful minions priests worldwide, to “help people see the face of Christ on the Web, through blogs, Web sites and videos” –  announced the worldwide release of “Confession: A Roman Catholic App”, the 1st iPhone app officially sanctioned by the Catholic church (and now available through iTunes for only $1.99, YAY!), at a packed papal enclave at dawn.

For those not in the know, let me break it down for you. Catholic confession is an entirely futile exercise wherein non-ten-commandment-abiding sinners christians voluntarily enter a church-stationed wooden cubicle roughly twice a week, reveal saucy details of the wickedness and transgressions of their morally corrupt lives to a bishop, priest or cardinal on the other side of aforementioned box (separated by a veil), in hopes of absolution from the same clergyman who has lesser morals than an Aesop’s fable.

Retweeting the papal ordnance, a grumpy looking archbishop of Canterbury (better known by his twitter handle, @daddyneverlovedme) was heard incoherently grumbling something about how his church-sponsored iPhone was meant for snapping suggestive pictures of young altar boys, not for confession, of all things.

Aside from my barely-disguised animosity toward a catholic church besieged by scandal, and onto the star of this show, the app itself.  The login page of the app reads (and I am NOT kidding) : “Please touch a user below to continue”. Pardon my naivety, is this an app for confession or a how-to for repressed priests? Because, those guys have demonstrated quite conclusively that they don’t really need an invitation. It also purports to be the “Age, vocation and gender specific examination of conscience”. By that criterion, it baffles the mind how “Are you a middle aged, repressed lonely priest” is not the first question on this app. Maybe I’m jumping the gun a bit. I hear that’s scheduled for release in Confession 2.0.

The home page on iTunes goes on to promote the serious utility of such a handy app, citing it as “the iPhone app for making confession easier”. Gee, I wonder why Jesus didn’t think of that. Instead of travelling light years from his home in the sky, to offer himself for your sins, all he had to do was look up the great cosmic iTunes store, download the salvation app, answer a few trivial (for him) questions; and VOILA  redemption guaranteed for generations of unborn sinners. Or Moses. Silly ol’ Moses. Rather than sitting on Mt. Sinai for 40 days painstakingly carving 10 comandments in stone, he simply needed to connect to HeavenWireless, and download the pdf onto his tablet. Perhaps the prophet Mohammed should have asked the angel Gabriel to download the iKoran app to his phone, turn on bluetooth and sync it to his notebook atop Mount Hira. I mean, Gautama Buddha sounds like he was genuinely off his rocker, taking all his clothes off and sitting under a tree, when enlightenment was just a download away. Were he alive today, he’d only have to plug in his 13.1″ laptop to his BSNL 56k dial-up modem, and lookup Kurt Cobain on Google, to find nirvana.

The three god-fearing, born-again, young Catholic men from South Bend, Indiana, crafters of this supreme innovation seem to be not-too-quietly patting themselves on the back at their newly earned all access pass to the pearly gates. “We tried to make it as secure as possible,” says Patrick Leinen, a 31-year-old Internet programmer who built the app with his brother, Chip, a hospital systems administrator, and Ryan Kreager, a Notre Dame doctoral candidate. Yes, you got that right. “As secure as possible”. An app, developed by 3 out of work computer nerdlings, ostensibly overseen and inspired by clergymen. Definitely nothing that could go wrong there. Surely no backdoor (pun MOST CERTAINLY intended) to relay the contents of your daily electronic confession to the waiting eyes, ears (and hands?) of a thousand bishops in underground Vatican sweatshops, poring over details of your everyday life. If the app takes off in popularity like it’s developers expect it to, you honestly shouldn’t be surprised if father TouchMeLot approaches you after sunday service to let you know that he knows who you poked this week (on Facebook or otherwise), and whether or not you were using protection at the time of said poking (Note to non-technical readers: no matter how much the pope Benedict tries to convince you that using protection is sinful, it is good to protect yourself from nasty viruses transmitted by poking strangers wirelessly in public. Don’t believe me? Look here). Cardinal Angelo Sexophile now has up-to-the-minute stats on  all your transgressions which in turn allows him, at the proverbial click of a button, to shame you for the stunningly accurate count of times you yelled ‘Bloody Mary’ at that loud annoying girl Mary from work, slouched in the corner of the pub, while swigging your 10th bloody mary on a sad, lonely Friday night.

Confession has long been promoted by the church as a way to get closer to God, the path to redemption for the sinful (read, all non-Christian gentiles) to ease the burdens of their pagan lifestyle, and touted as the way to a lighter conscience. And now, it appears, a lighter wallet as well. A small request to future developers of the iSalvation, iPray, iBhajan, iNamaaz, iZen and other copycat apps; please don’t make me have to touch this Patrick guy, whoever he is, just to login to my e-confession. Please. I’d rather not.

 

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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.

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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

October 3, 2010

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Filed under: Love and Happiness,Random musings — rajivmathew @ 8:14 am
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March 13, 2010

Indian Pimping League

Ah, the IPL ! That great pimp of us all. Makes whores of that illustrious breed of fine human beings called commentators and desperate customers of us, the breed of ever-willing rabid cricket lovers. Add to that some fantastic TV producers who cut away from the on-field action every 30 seconds so we can look at strategically placed ground-level cameras focussing on upskirt angles of cheerleaders gyrating with an almost obscene vulgarity that seems more like a borderline advertisement for Victoria’s Secret. Voyeurs around the world seem to be having a field day with this, and might  eventually become cricket fans, almost as an afterthought.  Throw into the mix the players, paid obscene amounts of money for 3 weeks of work, and VOILA !what you have is the closest thing society has come, or will ever come to approving a public brothel or legalized prostitution.

And lest I forget, the sponsors. Agreed, they pay filthy sums of money to have their name shouted from the rooftops at every conceivable moment, but have we REALLY come to this ? A six is now a DLF’er (or a DLF Maximum). A wicket is now called a Citi moment of success, obviously in reference to that oh-so-obvious paragon of SUCCESS, Citibank ! The hyperbole and the forced excitement in the voices of these overpaid, undereducated, pompous, vocabulary-deprived unsuccessful ex-players would be laughable, if it wasn’t so jarring and loud. Ravi Shastri, for example seems to forget that he has a microphone fitted into and held in place by the nose hair in his bellowing nostrils, (a microphone, Mr. Shastri, is a device that can, amplify your voice so you don’t have to blare it out like a foghorn). Mr. Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, that symbol of talent and longevity (who, by the way played all of 9 tests and 14 ODIs), rambles on and on, incoherently about Sachin’s batting stance, and technique, while pointing to the way JP Duminy’s front foot is coming “back and across”. Sunil Gavaskar can’t get enough of the Dilscoop, even though that last shot was an on-drive straight down the ground.

Which reminds me, its Time for the Hindustan Lever Super Stat – Batting Averages

  • L Sivarama-watshisface – 2.50
  • JP Duminy – 34.94
  • Sachin Tendulkar – 45.12

Lalit Modi has gone on record, saying

I see the IPL becoming bigger than the NFL, the NBA, the English Premier League. 

Sure. Why Not. I think so too. Can’t you just see Kobe Bryant making the game winning Burger King buzzer beater. Or Tim Duncan stepping up to the Free Throw line, with a none-too-subtle AD at the bottom of the TV screen showing a  Huggies AD, with a punchline rolling across screen, “HUGGIES – Freedom for babies Free Throw“. Or Joe Flacco making the game winning touchdown for the Baltimore Ravens against the Minnesota Vikings, with a hyperactive commentator on ESPN yelling, “…… and he scores, he scores !!! 7 points,….. with the TYLENOL touchdown !!!”. Close your eyes now. Can’t you just see it now ? Wayne Rooney makes a brilliant run down the left flank, all the way to the penalty box. He tackles, one, two defenders, makes a brilliant side-step and makes a brilliant, curling shot into the top right far post  “…….. for the GATORADE goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooallllll “. Yup. I see it now.

Here’s the beef I have with commentators and others of their ilk. These are the same guys, Harsha wheres-my-hairpiece Bhogle Sunil I-wish-my-son-was-a-half-decent-batsman Gavaskar Ravi flaring-nostrils-RayBan-at-night Shastri, Laxman oiled-and-slicked-Tamil-movie-star-wannabe Sivaramakrishnan, who write endless syndicated columns by day and during the week, romanticizing Test Cricket, and all its qualities, who go on unendurably from Monday to Friday about how  Twenty 20 cricket is a sham, a mere show, a carnival of humungous proportions, which can never mimic the appeal and the endurance of Test cricket. These same guys go into their commentary booths come Saturday and Sunday, and jump off their seats everytime a DLF Maximum is hit, or the bowler delivers a JAFFER of a delivery, or celebrate with the Deccan Chargers when theyve had a CITI moment of Success.

Commentators apart, the players are no less erudite in their assessment of the game. Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, for example, when asked after the game, says he “tried to bowl in the right areas”. I guess thats why you went for 125 runs in your 10 overs, while making faces in a sad attempt to intimidate the batsmen, nincompoop. You have bowlers saying they tried to “hit the deck hard” … (whatever that means), or fielders who “fly through the air to take a stunning catch inches from the ground” (Poor Superman has got a complex). Then you have captains  – at the toss, saying ridiculous things like we’re-looking-to-win (No kidding?) , or “The toss doesn’t matter” (Oh yeah, wise guy ? Why did you go out there … to see how many sides a coin has ??),  or after the game, going “the boys did well“. Even though they lost.

Let put all that aside for the present. Cause the GIANT circus has just rolled into town. For now, lets sit back and  partake of the legalized flesh-trade show that is the IPL 2010, and be glad we don’t have to deal with the nonsensical cowardly imbecile called Fake IPL Player this time around. Let all the hackneyed references to tracer-bullet, super-shots, fine tickle, gone like a rocket, going-going-gone,  that one’s out of here and bowling good line and length BEGIN.

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