December 15, 2012

Getting the best out of your Facebook (No. You don't need to *like* this.)

People are always telling you that you don't know what you have, until you lose it. This is usually utter bullshit used to cheer people up with irrelevant things, but there's 1 place where it's completely true: on Facebook. Quit complaining about people on your timeline. Really. What's to complain about? Please find below, 10 easy steps to make your Facebook viewing experience a more enriching, more entertaining experience. Not more alliterative though.

1. People playing Farmville 2? Block the app. Daily Capricorn horoscopes coming your way? Block the app. Most messy apps are blockable. All annoying people are blockable. Get rid of all those people who fail to contribute to your timeline with gossip, pictures, interesting posts of any kind, or being any of the 7 Facebook Types of People which we will go into shortly.

2. You very likely have people you have identified as stalk-worthy. This is good. But very often, you've identified them as stalk-worthy simply because you dislike them. Dislike, no matter how great, will eventually be crushed at the hands of boredom. Especially if these turn out to be people who play "What football player are you?" every single day.

3. Find new people to stalk. Not on the basis of any connection, but simply because they happen to be on your friend list and have decided, for some reason, that nothing should happen in their lives without it being on Facebook. Which means pictures from every dinner, updates about their aunt coming over, and descriptions of how much fun yesterday was. Sounds boring? There's usually a strong correlation between this kind of conversation and hotness of the girl. Yes. It's always a girl.

4. Locate the pseudos. These are the people for whom life is one large journey of discovery. Every day is a struggle to overcome inner demons, every person they meet touches their heart, every sight they see screams out to them "Look! This world is so bloody beautiful that you can now write a hundred words about it on Facebook!" Blessed are those who fall into this category. For you and me (assuming you aren't one of the blessed ones), tea is just tea, weather is good or bad, studying is just a pain, and the last time our hearts were touched was while watching a cheesy Bollywood movie that we later made fun of. So soak up all the positive energy (usually by a completely new name) that these guys are giving out to the world. Because that positive energy is fricking hilarious.

5. A category often overlapping with the Pseudos is the Pretentious Ones. These are the people who will register their attendance at every wine tasting in the city, go to every jazz concert because "there's just something about jazz, you know?", call Colaba Causeway "exquisitely folksy", and "fall in love with" as many unheard-of bands as possible because they want to be the ones who *discovered* that band. The Pretentious Ones are useful because they're usually a sort of cultural guide to your own city. They'll always say what event they're attending, so you know beforehand where not to go. And they take a bunch of half-decent pictures using SLR cameras that you can use as wallpapers.

6. Hunt down the sentis. These are the people whose posts consist of a) graphics with misspelled lines on how no one should love anybody, b) "She laft me alone", and c) supposedly obtuse references to real people which everyone can guess. Don't do anything here, because that gets perceived as insensitive, or so I am told. Just watch. It eventually becomes either a bubbling pot of group hugs, awwws and some combination of alcohol/shoes/football; or an out-and-out fight if the sentiyapa is happening without first deleting the object of affections. And while I'm not saying you should enjoy this... they did decide to do this on Facebook. So enjoy this.

7. Find the sports maniacs. These are the ones usually debating the relevance of an off-spin on mid-wicket in the second innings of a test series (which will eventually be a draw) (pardon my cricket) or saying "GGMU". Which, as I have learnt, is not the abbreviation of a Hindi gaali but a football slogan for Manchester United. (Lucky them.) Once you've found these people, you can choose to fight with them or block them. Do one of the two for sure though, otherwise they'll just be pointlessly taking up space that could've been used by duck-faced women in their late 20s.

8. Are you freaked out by the number of people getting married way too early (i.e. your age)? Turn the negative into a positive ray of bloody blinding sunshine, as the pseudos would say. Go through their profiles after the flood of wedding pictures has receded. You will most likely see: a) The couple tagging each other at the neighbourhood kirana store, b) Pictures with parents-in-law and extremely fake love being professed for them, c) Rapid weight gain, and d) The desperate search for married friends whom both the husband and the wife can stand, and vice versa.

(Those, by the way, are your Types. Personal Stalkees, Over-sharers, The Pseudos, The Sentis, The Pretentious Ones, Sports Maniacs and Married Too Early. Each is essential, believe me.)

9. Among other general tips, argue with strangers. No, really. Find a semi-contentious status message, locate any one of the usually ill-informed but passionate comments on it, and start to argue. Do it painstakingly, do it everyday, don't stop. Don't stop until others start commenting and telling you two to chill out. At which point, do a complete about-turn on your stance and walk away. As a personal request, I'm asking all of you to do more of this. It's immensely entertaining, kinda like Bigg Boss on Facebook with a little more brain thrown in.

10. Don't stop at liking a completely blonde update. Go the whole hog and share it with your timeline. The level of resulting confusion among the blondes is usually entertaining to watch, because often they have just the right mix of vanity, illogicality and self-doubt that renders them absolutely nonplussed by things like these.

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Coming up later: Types of Tweeple. Have a good weekend. :)

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Just in case anything in this post causes a billion dollar company to get litigious... it's all false. Totally. I'm not scared of large corporations. Much in the same way that Salman Khan remarks, "Main darta nahi hoon. Sirf ghabrata hoon. Thoda." (Andaz Apna Apna)

October 31, 2012

Student of the Year

Or Delhi Boys and A Bimbo
Student of the Year is full of surprises. I mean it. It's full of surprises because you won't laugh at the supposedly funny parts. Nothing is sad about the supposedly sad parts. Supposedly serious bits are funny. And matter-of-fact statements are the truly sad parts of the movie.

(Beware: Post contains spoilers. If you intend to watch SOTY for its storyline *snigger* please leave now.)

Coming to SOTY. It's a high school story. Which Karan Johar first did when he was 26, and is now repeating at 40 with far more retarded characters. (On some level one can empathise, because the older one gets, the more idiotic 17-year-olds begin to look.)

So there's a blonde girl with expensive bags (basically the movie Aisha compressed into 1 character), and 2 guys who first hate each other, then are friends, then hate each other again, then become friends again, then... *yawn*

The first half of the movie is spent in introducing everyone with their own personalised song. We're told that Siddharth Malhotra is a poor kid (not really borne out by all his designer clothing, but hey, Manish Malhotra is his uncle so how can he wear regular clothes?) whose family hates him, Varun Dhawan is a rich kid whose dad hates him. Alia Bhatt is also a rich kid with a mother who's too focused on the stepdad. These one-liner family stories are the reason why all three behave with such complete idiocy (or so the film tries to tell you).

All 3 children (2 of whom have large biceps and six pack abs, like every 17-year-old) go to a school for the super-rich, which looks like the set of Mohabbatein met the set of a bad Hollywood sci-fi movie and had a baby. The school is a premier institution with no teachers, no dress code and no fixed schedule. Rishi Kapoor is the Dean of this place (completely over the top), and why Karan Johar of all people would choose to be so offensive to gay people is something we'll never know.

In true Johar style, the movie has 1 wedding song, 1 nightclub song, 1 party song and a few love songs in the snow. In true Johar style, most of these are in Punjabi and sound more or less like the others. Good so far. Now you have a competition (basically a Triwizard Tournament ripoff) where kids have to prove themselves to be the best student in the school.

So, they first take an IQ test. This IQ test is preceded by students studying really hard (background song goes, Ratta maar). To study for an IQ test is... well, unfortunately it's a rather accurate reflection of the Indian education system. Go, KJo. Even if this was unintended.

Alia Bhatt, easily the dumbest person in history (not just this school) is in the top 16 of that IQ test.

In real life this would happen only if all the other people taking that test were chimps who had been hit hard on the head 3 times each.

The next round is a dance competition.

Because that, apparently, is how a lunatic house like the premier school judges people. No boring things like social work, debates, extracurrics or responsibilities. Nope. It's gotta be a dance competition. So that Alia gets to dance and both guys can wear tuxes that have been taped to their abs.

Finally, you have a triathlon. Where you pit men, women, short people, tall people, heavyweights and lightweights all together in swimming, cycling and running.

Decision makers at the premier institution clearly haven't seen any sporting events either. Or, for that matter, used their brains.

There are obligatory sardar jokes, fat jokes and gay jokes. In a blow to intelligence everywhere, this competition plays out. In a blow to common sense, Rishi Kapoor practically goes into depression because two 17-year-old boys stop talking to each other.

In a blow to women at large, all women in the movie are bimbos, their participation in the competition is token, and the one girl who does manage to do something with it is, at the end of the movie, appropriately pretty-fied and a "happy housewife". Joy to the world.

But those aren't the most shocking bits. The most shocking bit of the movie is the football coach (Ronit Roy), being Gujarati. Come on. When has any Gujju you know, shown a single sign of being able to play even TT well? :P

October 28, 2012

...

There are many reasons one could love The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the foremost being reading it. I haven't yet met a person who hasn't absolutely loved it, which is saying quite something because there are people who dislike Wodehouse. :-/ Clearly humour is a subjective thing... but as I said, everyone agrees on HGG.

The books are mostly logic-defying humour with a bit of sci-fi (people from all across the galaxy are travelling all over the place to do something that no one is sure of. Basically.) They cover a bunch of philosophical questions, life crises and whatnot, but one of my favourites is pasted below.

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A large dairy animal approached Zaphod Beeblebrox’s table, a large fat meaty quadruped of the bovine type with large watery eyes, small horns and what might almost have been an ingratiating smile on its lips.

‘Good evening’, it lowed and sat back heavily on its haunches, ‘I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in the parts of my body?’

It harrumphed and gurgled a bit, wriggled its hind quarters in to a more comfortable position and gazed peacefully at them. Its gaze was met by looks of startled bewilderment from Arthur and Trillian, a resigned shrug from Ford Prefect and naked hunger from Zaphod Beeblebrox.

‘Something off the shoulder perhaps?’ suggested the animal, ‘Braised in a white wine sauce?’

‘Er, your shoulder?’ said Arthur in a horrified whisper.
‘But naturally my shoulder, sir,’ mooed the animal contentedly, ‘nobody else’s is mine to offer.’
Zaphod leapt to his feet and started prodding and feeling the animal’s shoulder appreciatively.
‘Or the rump is very good,’ murmured the animal. ‘I’ve been exercising it and eating plenty of grain, so there’s a lot of good meat there.’
It gave a mellow grunt, gurgled again and started to chew the cud. It swallowed the cud again.

‘Or a casserole of me perhaps?’ it added.
‘You mean this animal actually wants us to eat it?’ whispered Trillian to Ford.
‘Me?’ said Ford, with a glazed look in his eyes, ‘I don’t mean anything.’
‘That’s absolutely horrible,’ exclaimed Arthur, ‘the most revolting thing I’ve ever heard.’
‘What’s the problem Earthman?’ said Zaphod, now transferring his attention to the animal’s enormous rump.
‘I just don’t want to eat an animal that’s standing there inviting me to,’ said Arthur, ‘It’s heartless.’
‘Better than eating an animal that doesn’t want to be eaten,’ said Zaphod.

‘That’s not the point,’ Arthur protested. Then he thought about it for a moment. ‘Alright,’ he said, ‘maybe it is the point. I don’t care, I’m not going to think about it now. I’ll just … er … I think I’ll just have a green salad,’ he muttered.
‘May I urge you to consider my liver?’ asked the animal, ‘it must be very rich and tender by now, I’ve been force-feeding myself for months.’
‘A green salad,’ said Arthur emphatically.
‘A green salad?’ said the animal, rolling his eyes disapprovingly at Arthur.
‘Are you going to tell me,’ said Arthur, ‘that I shouldn’t have green salad?’
‘Well,’ said the animal, ‘I know many vegetables that are very clear on that point. Which is why it was eventually decided to cut through the whole tangled problem and breed an animal that actually wanted to be eaten and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly. And here I am.’

It managed a very slight bow.
‘Glass of water please,’ said Arthur.
‘Look,’ said Zaphod, ‘we want to eat, we don’t want to make a meal of the issues. Four rare stakes please, and hurry. We haven’t eaten in five hundred and seventy-six thousand million years.’
The animal staggered to its feet. It gave a mellow gurgle. ‘A very wise choice, sir, if I may say so. Very good,’ it said, ‘I’ll just nip off and shoot myself.’

He turned and gave a friendly wink to Arthur.
‘Don’t worry, sir,’ he said, ‘I’ll be very humane.’

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September 27, 2012

The Mid Twenties

...are an existential time.

Everyone around you is constantly whining about their job, their love life and not having enough money.

A year ago, they were whining about their degree, their love life and not having enough money.

And while it's a universally accepted fact that anyone with any sense at all would hugely prefer working to studying, the grass usually is greener on the other side. When we were studying for the course (and curse) known as CA Final, all we wanted was a job. Now that we have jobs, we reminisce about the awesomeness of being able to stay home in pajamas and read a large book about Corporate Law in study leave. The fact that this is worthy of reminiscence, reflects on how completely lame our lives have been.

What's most interesting though is the number of times you get to hear "Why am I here?" and "I wasn't meant to do this." It's a fascinating insight into what people seem to think of themselves. Saying "I don't want to do this" is completely understandable, but you weren't meant to do this? Your incredible talents in early life misled you into thinking that coding was beneath you? Or all babies come predestined with a career which ideally should have been tattoed on their arms? (Hell of a lot more useful than "Mera baap chor hai", by the way.)


Another somewhat parallel one is "There's got to be more to my life than this rubbish." Of course there is. It's called an evening, a weekend, a movie, sleeping, eating, and making merry with an income. Not some pursuit of a higher goal. At least, not if you willingly chose to vouch sales invoices instead of joining a social entrepreneur. Hordes of fresh-faced students have looked for higher purposes in mainstream careers. Which is just another way of saying "I want to make money but I also want a moral highground." Because the world is a perfect place, isn't it? And let's not kid ourselves. Six months into a high-paying, social-serving, fulfilling job, there will be something to complain about. And the closest thing to a mainstream and social-serving job (medicine) gets its ass whooped by Aamir Khan on national TV. The world really isn't what it used to be.

Apologies to those who think we're all sent here with a purpose, but really, I don't think anyone cares. The idea is to arrive, spend 70 years in some sort of routine, avoid heart disease as long as you can and pop off at some point. The universe really has other things to bother about. If you can manage to have a reasonably good time in those 70 years and not piss people off to the point where you get murdered, you're doing well enough.

One also hopes you don't spend those 70 years working too hard, or watching too much Sex and the City, or letting your kids ring doorbells and run, or obsessively making the same movie 5 times (a la Madhur Bhandarkar), but those are just optional extras.

September 17, 2012

It's not a Car, It's a Caaaaar

Yep. Nissan Sunny. It's not a car. It's a caaaaar.

If you have a radio on your phone, or in your car, you've heard this one. And hundreds of others. Radio ads are fascinating and repulsive, simultaneously, mostly because they make you wonder who writes them and for whom. But just like songs from Jism 2 (or Murder 2? Raaz 2? Raaz 3? They're all interchangeable.), you can't get away from them because at least once an hour, all radio channels have joined hands to play the same thing at the same time. And except on AR Rahman's birthday, this hand-joining is usually for a disastrous song or 5 disastrous adverts.

Like the one that tells you that on Wednesdays, you can call all Uninor customers for close to free. So hurry, make those calls. Yeah, those two calls.

Or the one that pushes you to find out why Vaishnav parivaar wants to get their bahu married.

Or the really shady gold bank that wants you to give them all your gold to get a loan. And they're this close to saying "Come to me... Myyy preciousssssss."

Or the ad that just says "Trust your doctor. Amra remedies, bringing sunshine to every hope." Excuse me? What's your product?

Then there's the bizarre one about a firang (or ABCD?) trying to make sense of Ganeshotsav, but then he has a Nikon Coolpix. End of ad. Go get one. All the hapless hippies have one.


In the midst of the stupid cacophony of shrieky women and overconfident men (and we're not even talking about RJs yet, those guys are insane), is the average frazzled commuter actually expected to buy something? When you catch him in the worst hours of his day, and lie blatantly to him, what results are you getting?

August 12, 2012

I hate to break it to you

But this familiar hoax about how "Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs" is getting a little annoying. For those who still haven't seen this, here it is:

This graphic is one that comes with the attribution to Cambridge, but I'm sure you've seen one with Oxford or Harvard University.

The idea is down there with what you can find in the Rediff comments sections, because...

1. No one ever did that study.

2. It is full of obvious nonsense such as "This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole." Yes. That was the whole point of learning the language - that we read the words. Not letters.

3. And you always thought spelling was important? I see your point, on the Internet, you can be a complete mroon and nbdooy wlil crae... except cranky people with blogs, too much time and a grudge against the world at large.

4. Take it out of context. I dare you. String together 10 words of 8 letters each, with no relation to each other, scramble them, and tell me how the *phenomenal power of the human mind* fares.

5. I'd really respect the makers and sharers of this a lot more if they just put up a graphic that said:



Because, really, not being interested in spelling is not a thing that makes you a social pariah any more. Quite the opposite, in fact. For example, this post will result in me getting hate mail. Sharing that graphic, though, will get you 28 likes and 16 "ossum bro!"s. And isn't that what everyone wants?

August 05, 2012

Things Get Worse Here At The Blog

With all due respect to all of you out there,

Bear in mind that I love Amit Trivedi as much as any of you. I am also a fan of this song and how it fits into the movie, and the playback, yada yada. Also largely because I love all cheap Bollywood songs that do something even a little different. (I draw the line at Pritam Pyaare though. Everyone's gotta have some standards).

Now, keep an open mind. I would like to present to you the sureshot song of the next Navratri season (yes, that time of year when us Gujjus get decked up, stand in queues and spend actual money to dance in a circle -or just watch- in a large, smelly, crowded open space which could be anything from a stadium to a banquet hall for twenty people). This song is a sureshot song of Navratri because it requires no modifications or remixing - especially if you keep an open mind till the chorus. The signs of inherent-garba-worthiness start around 00:20 and continue to the end of the song.

Then again, Amit Trivedi is Gujju. In the end it all makes sense.



(I don't know why the uploader labelled this "Official New Item Song". Mind boggles to think that there's a Quality Commission for Item Songs, which certifies them as inappropriate enough and decides which one is worthy enough to be the "Official New" one.)

June 18, 2012

The Great Indian CA Post (Finally)

Children, gather around. When I was doing CA (many many years ago, you weren't even born then), I always imagined that someday, I would sit down and tell the world all about it. But not until I was done. Because like every paranoid Indian, I thought the ICAI might just turn out to be following the blogs, timelines and Twitter feeds of all students, waiting for a reason to increase attempts and break hearts.

To those of you not in the know, CA is Chartered Accountancy, one of those finance-y things. It's a professional course, there's no college, there's a central Institute (ICAI for short),you're expected to pass 3 exams over a period of 4 years, each exam's purpose is to keep you out.

Some finer points:

One, if you are a CA, you can be an auditor (red pens, calculators and terror all around), or an accountant (which you really don't want to be), or go into banking/finance (which you will likely want to, but nobody there wants you), or do something finance-y at a company (eventually aiming to be CFO, but the CFO will likely still need an MBA).

Two, unlike other courses such as engineering or medicine or law (I won't count faux degrees such as humanities (JK, Lulz)), where your task ends at getting into the college, in CA, the challenge, really, is to leave. Fresh-faced youngsters have been known to come in, expecting that they'll be done in the minimum 4 years, and then staying for the next 10.

Three, the reason you hear CAs are well-paid is not because they're better or smarter than anyone in the world. It's just because someone finally applied the law of demand and supply to education. The world needs x number of auditors every year. Good good. We'll provide them with x/10.Needless to say, every time the equation is disturbed even a little, the payscales swing wildly on either side.

Why do people sign up? Various reasons:
1. Minimal investment, promise of high returns.
2. In commerce, there really isn't much to do. Really.
3. Parents are always in favour. Who can blame them? If you're a parent who sees a way to make something out of a good-for-nothing 18-year-old who's in commerce, by simultaneously chaining them to office and study tables for 4 years (thereby eliminating the worst teenage years), wouldn't you jump at it?
4. Everyone's always raving about how tough it is. This gets a fair number of egos riled up and roaring "Challenge accepted", in what will probably be the worst decision of their lives.

Why do people drop out? Simpler reasons:
1. Found something better.
2. Reality check.

So how does the course work?


Take a bunch of kids who're just done with their 12th standard exams. By this time, they've been asked "Beta what next?" enough times to not be thinking straight, out of pure desperation.

(Who is your target group? Good question. Anyone in commerce, and anyone who's done 2 years of science only to realise that they absolutely cannot stand the thought of playing with Java, circuits, or bones for the rest of their lives.)


The ICAI does not advertise. This is because word-of-mouth publicity is enough. The attractions of good pay, work experience (such as it is), an actual career and the ability to understand WTF happens to the Sensex everyday, are too difficult to resist.


Kids sign up and take a test. This is Level 1. You pass this and you start working (at the age of 18). When we started, the ICAI was so desperate for worker ants that they'd pass nearly everyone in Level 1, and then do a mass KLPD in Level 2. This strategy is usually subject to market forces.


You work for the next 4 years. In the middle somewhere, you take Level 2. If you pass, you go on. If you fail, you take Level 2 again. And again. Till your patience wears out, or they pass you. There's also some nonsensical skill-building courses to be taken along the way.


At the end of the 4 years, you take Level 3. Same rules apply.

Like every *attractive offer*, this one also comes with its set of caveats, loopholes and carrots. It's complicated, but the important thing is, it's cleverly engineered to keep you hooked. The endless hope of "I'm almost there" is what turns people into junkies. 


As with other courses, CA has its fair share of detractors. The arguments are such:
1. Outdated material
2. B-o-r-i-n-g.
3. Sea of paper to be waded through and understood in a brief span of four months.
4. Compulsory internship.

To which I say, right on all counts. Because this course isn't meant to teach, or make you a good professional, or ensure you have a work-life balance. It's meant to prepare you for life.

(Whoa, deep, right?)

Because let's face it. MBAs can do everything we can. Give any person with a reasonable intelligence some training and access to the right resources, and they can do what we do. It's not open heart surgery. So what's the average CA's competitive edge (if he even has one)?

Just this - your articleship. Those 4 years of work experience where you likely cursed the world and yourself for having taken on this nonsense willingly, and your angst would've set fire to the rain. (Okay, getting carried away here.)

After having spent 4 years of your life having no social life, splitting a 16-hour day between work and studying and finally understanding what they meant when they said that thing about an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object (you vs ICAI, every exam ever); let's face it, it can only get better.

Because realise it or not, at the end of those 4 years (provided you spend them at a worthwhile firm), the *resource* entering the corporate world:
1. Is fully able to understand the world of cubicles, cabins and coffee machines.
2. Doesn't display any angst. All angst has already been replaced by jaded cynicism from having seen enough offices over the course of various audits and having observed that, at the end of the day, they're all going to draw up org charts to explain how someone else should've done it.
3. Doesn't wail about the loss of summer vacations, and is in fact happy because this is the least multi-tasking he has done in the last 4 years.
4. Treats corporate trainings and seminars with the right mix of amusement and deference, and has a plan on quiet self-entertainment ready - thanks to ITT and GMCS and whatever other soft-skill training he has done simply to get a piece of paper.
5. Can use MS Excel without using a mouse.

These, children, are the only things companies expect from you when you join them. Happy ending.

June 10, 2012

Of aunties and their lives

I can't count the number of times a lady somewhere has said something on the lines of, I have to go home because X can't eat / be served / cook / be woken up / work without me. What's more interesting is that there's always a sense of pride behind this. (We all know the exasperated-but-smug "Mere bina toh kuch hota hi nahi iss ghar mein". Look, I'm indispensable.)

Is this an Indian thing? To be proud of the fact that your grown male (usually a husband or a son) is incapable of achieving the simplest of tasks by himself? Somehow, I've never heard a woman be proud that her daughter can't microwave her own dinner. That kind of thing would be remedied quickly... So that, I suppose, the daughter can then be indispensable to her husband and son in the future. :P

May 26, 2012

For reasons unbeknownst to me...

Justin Bieber, v1.
This used to be one of my favourite songs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcleXpfD9Gc&feature=related

Summary: Sonu Nigam, who was still 15 when this video was made, smokes on screen (because no one gave a four-letter-word back then) and obsessively pursues a younger Bipasha Basu who wears a series of noodle-strap single-colour gowns.






And this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTr9T-JkBrg&feature=fvwrel

Summary: 5 fully waxed Indian males wear white clothes with cuts in strategic places and some serious (for then) er... BDSM takes place.

Then there's this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZg9XnljNNs&feature=share

Moustaches are cool. In the 90's.
Summary: 2 lines help Hariharan and Leslie Lewis, back in the day when you could have a moustache and still be cool, last through a 4-minute song with visuals that are frankly bizarre. Towards the end, Leslie Lewis is called "Lez". Innocent times, when something like that wouldn't spawn a week of puns on Twitter.





 And this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3I5NosQk3Y&feature=related

Summary: Before Alisha Chinai starting shedding a tear for every singer on Indian Idol, she made this video. It's basically a prequel to Rakhi ka Swayamwar, but it's also racist. The video is redeemed by the appearance of Milind Soman from what looks like a box from a customs warehouse. I don't know if this video launched Alisha Chinai or Milind Soman, but whoever it was, it did the launching bloody well.



Having grown up in a time when people could freely smoke, be racist, pass off Nepali dudes as Japanese, stalk women obsessively, not take 'no' for an answer, be metrosexual or deviant, I am no longer appalled at today's music videos.

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Among other things, do read An Open Letter to India's Graduating Classes. And, making equal amounts of sense, An Open Letter to Prospective Indian Employer.

May 13, 2012

I can't remember the last time I said something good about a public figure, but...

When the first episode of Satyamev Jayate aired, there were enough people on Twitter who fought -against all odds- to make a joke about how stupid it was. And there always will be, no matter what the odds are, and no matter what the event is. This is inevitable and at some level, at times like these it's important to remind ourselves that we are a free society, instead of giving in to the first instinct (mine was to find them and punch them).

The point is, everything about the show and its concept is a first. The marrying of an A-list star with content, minus drama, the promise of action, the joint broadcast with Doordarshan, everything is new. The show is here for a purpose. The purpose is not so much to change something, but to create awareness. And this is the kind of scale that NGOs, social activists, and even the Government, can only dream of having.

Aamir Khan may charge 3 crores per episode. Heck, let him charge more. People decrying the fact that he makes money from this, are being ridiculous. The ad revenues are going to the channel, not to NGOs. And the ad revenues are mammoth compared to 3 crores per episode. He may be doing this out of choice, but let's not forget that the man has cancelled/delayed more lucrative opportunities to be able to do this show and has spent a long time conceptualising it and being a part of it. Everyone on the team will be paid well, and saying that someone should not be paid just because they have money, is the worst form of socialism. If you don't question why an industrialist pays Shah Rukh Khan 5 crores to show up at a wedding for an hour, don't question why a channel that's comfortably in the profit is paying Aamir Khan 3 crores an episode while he reaches out to India. The only reason you watched the first episode - the only reason - is Aamir Khan. It speaks volumes about the brand that he brings to the show, and he and the channel are absolutely aware that a show like this would go nowhere without a man like him.


There's no shortage of cynicism in the world. Heck, there's no shortage of cynicism on this blog, and millions of others. But there are times when we need to realise that there are some things that can't be made fun of. This isn't Rakhi-Sawant-judgement, with excessive tears, dwelling on the worst and other shenanigans. And the only criticism there seems to be now is that there's no "scope for debate". Question, do you want to ruin your message by creating a debate? Do you want to bring in the 0.01% of this country's junta, educated in Psychology at DU, with a radically different view that it discusses in the cool drawing rooms of Delhi, to create a debate over an issue such as female infanticide?

Yes, the show is straightforward, to the point and not very nuanced. But look at the audience they are trying to reach. Nuanced talk shows and debates about social issues, so far, have been either melodramatic nonsense, or something with a top journalist yelling at people, or anything on Lok Sabha TV that just puts you to sleep. How often have you looked at your clock and said, "Oh, it's We The People time. Must drop everything and go watch."?

It takes a heart and a brain to do something like this. And that, boys and girls, is probably the rarest combination of all, in Bollywood.

May 01, 2012

This is a postlet

You know how grownups write on Twitter and Facebook? It's all impeccable English, except that there are no full stops or commas. For example, "Hello saw your photos very nice how is your mother?"

My theory is that somehow social networking has taken them back to the telegram age. "Have you reached question mark Do cable back stop Love to everyone stop."

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One of these days I will put up a picture on Facebook that's captioned "Herbs and green tea steeped in mildly sweetened water, some Darjeeling tea added, with a dash of milk and ginger." And junta will ooh and aah about it.

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Which reminds me, I kinda miss the days when all restaurant menus read "Idli Sada dosa Masala dosa Rava masala dosa Mysore masala dosa Plain uttapam Masala uttapam Onion uttapam", and you'd order one and the waiter would shout it out to the kitchen and it'd be sitting in front of you in ten minutes. Because, really, one of the most tiresome things in life has now become reading descriptions like these:

Romanotomano ravioli with white fungus and Chardonnay
Whatthe?!-price-here
A classic dish - our own special home-made ravioli stuffed with minced wild mushrooms, spinach, sundried tomato and black peppers, in a rich sauce of tomato confit and emmenthal with a dash of white wine.

Classic Italian Burger
Seriously?  
Home-cooked patty stuffed with the goodness of vegetables and Italian basil, sage, parsley and seasoned with jalapeno granules, served between freshly baked sesame baker's bun with Italian mayonnaise and mustard, with potato wedges and our special coleslaw salad on the side.

Cream Cheese Bagel
It's unclassy to complain
House Favorite! Philadelphia cream cheese bagel served with salad, tomato rosti and mustard. We stumbled onto this recipe when we went travelling to some place that nobody gives a damn about and our customers are dying of hunger because our service is slow and we write long descriptions and the idiots actually read the whole thing hoping to find something useful in here.

What's better is, the staff at restaurants (or "servers" as they're now called) will recommend or diss dishes to you with no better explanation than "I like it" and "I don't like it." This I find extremely uncomfortable because:
1. I can't tell them "Er, yeah, that's not enough of a reason."
2. Most of them do this with the air of I'm-going-to-take-this-personally-if-you-go-against-my-recommendation.
3. And most important - it makes no sense! It's like someone selling you a movie ticket for Desi Boyz because they like it, when you wanted to watch Pyaar Impossible. [Yeah, at most restaurants, this comparison exemplifies the contrast between the food you want to order and the food your server recommends. At the end of the day, there's no difference, and both are almost certainly duds, but you're left with the feeling that the other one could've been better.]

April 21, 2012

In the words of Liz Lemon, "I want to go to there."

I love food.

Photos of food make me want it. Movies make me want it. The smell of popcorn makes me want it.

My dreams are mostly in black and white but when there's food involved, they're in brilliant technicolour.

If I eat a bad sandwich, I want two good ones to make up for it - and fast.

If I'm stuffed at the end of my meal, but the dessert looks even half-decent, I eat that too.

I eat when I'm happy.

And when I'm unhappy.

When I'm relaxed.

And when I'm stressed.

There are few better things in life than the base of a samosa.

Fruit is not dessert. Fruit is the unhappy man's substitute for dessert.

...And he's unhappy because of his choices, not his circumstances.

Coffee is good. Coffee with chocolate in it is better.

I'd kiss breakfast if I could. As it turns out, you can't, so I content myself with eating it very fast or very slow (depending on my hunger) and taking seconds. And thirds.

And listen up, naysayers - if food was meant to nourish only the body, my soul would have died long ago.

*dramatic exit*

April 01, 2012

Nostalgia, And Its Undoing

The sad thing about life is that no one seems to make movies like Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa any more. Or, for that matter, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar.

(Because YRF can start a whole youth-films division and churn out desi versions of John Tucker Must Die, but if you want to see true teenage confusion and angst, pliss refer to the above movies.)

There's a slew of great sitcoms, but they're all stereotypical while trying to be politically correct. There's no Seinfeld any more.

The Harry Potter series is over. Enid Blyton is long gone.

People my age are getting engaged and married.

They're doing it willingly.

In these uncertain times, we look to characters from our childhood to bob up, and reassure us. Baba Sehgal wanted to do just that.

But he ended up making Praji Kunjam Kunjam Control.

Cannot describe. Must watch.

March 03, 2012

Rediscovering: Devang Patel


Today's post deals with the stripping of our sophisticated exteriors to reveal what every 90's child is, inside: A Devang Patel fan. Especially if said child is Gujju.

There's something about a man who takes every conceivable song in (your limited) universe and turns it into something about, let's say, eunuchs. Or bald men. (Yes, in the 90's, no one gave a flying four-letter word for political correctness.) Then he sings it - almost raps it - in Hindi that has an unabashed Gujju accent.

A man like that is made for greatness. And for fame.

And boy, did he find it. I thought I was one of the few kids who actually listened to him between the tender impressionable ages of 9 to 12. Over the years, though, I've realised that there's hardly anyone in my age bracket who hasn't. The distinction only is in whether you admit to it or not. Those who found him uncool - and I'll give you this, he is definitely extremely uncool - dissociated themselves from him; and those who couldn't believe at the awesomeness of this man - such as your truly - tried to spread the Holy Word with all the zeal of a... well, of a zealot.

I lost track of The Great Patel for a few years. But recently through someone's Facebook wall, I was re-introduced to this gem of a video: Govinda, singing Meri Marzi, a song with probably the most creative lyrics of the 90's. You could (no, you should!) watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HnW7CGcFDw. There's Govinda, a bunch of kids from what can only be early editions of that terrible show Boogie Woogie, an old man who inexplicably is a wolf and the Bangalore palace grounds.

The voice is familiar until you have a blinding flash of realisation. Oh God, you say, (or OMG!!!!!! if you're so inclined), this has GOT to be Devang Patel. And then of course, you watch the other gem from the same movie: Stop That. (Here, feed your inner demon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXLewoJPXOM)

Both songs are the epitome of perfection to a 90's child. You have Govinda, prancing around doing his thing in a suit here, a Roman emperor's costume there, a black-white-stripes suit now, a golden shirt then. And you have Devang Patel doing his thing extremely well. "His thing" being singing the most crazy-ass lyrics of all time in the most matter-of-fact Gujju tone, a tone that is familiar to all Gujju kids as being that of their uncles at weddings while making jokes that aren't funny but get an insane round of laughter anyway.

What's also amazing is the match. No song fits Govinda better than one where you say a lot of rubbish really fast, with an equally crazy dance accompanying it. And Devang Patel is exactly at the same level of finesse as Govinda (i.e. extremely low) to make it work.

Finally, once you're done watching those two, you could take a look at Patelscope I, which is funny almost throughout, but the best part is, and always will be, the eunuch song (Aye Raju) - here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4BwdKtJj6I&feature=related

That's all for today, folks. Have a good weekend. :D

February 14, 2012

Questions

Are all critically acclaimed Hollywood films about:
1. World War II
2. A psychological ailment
3. Any war the US was involved in?

Yes?

Yes?

Yes?

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Dear people who built the (extremely snooty) Palladium,

Are you really stupid enough to:
1. Put four cubicles per floor for the women's loos?
2. Fix the hook-to-hang-your-bag about seven feet off the ground? In the women's loo? Where average Indian women want to hang their bags?

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 Those of you who added your own relatives to your Facebook friend list without the elementary precaution of putting them on a limited list, do you really have the license to complain?

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Dear PVR,

Do you realise yours is possibly the most badly designed website in the history of the world? I mean, Prithvi Theatre's is better than yours and they probably found a struggling web designer (fresh out of school) to do it.

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 Valentine's Week? Really? Wasn't it enough to have an annoying day?

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January 31, 2012

Freedom of choice is just a word (or three)

Once upon a time, in a land not far from where you are (right where you are, in fact) was a different world. It didn't have the internet, or Rajdeep Sardesai, or this newfangled concept of your life being an *open book*.

I could be biased here, but I think it was interesting, for starters.

You couldn't go to a museum knowing what was inside. You couldn't travel to a foreign country with a street view in your palm.

No checking of menu before trying a new restaurant.

No videos of how it actually feels to be a bungee jumper.

Not even any articles on life in Delhi, when you considered moving.

No tweets by movie stars with bad grammar, about their breakfasts. No unwanted information on the two hours spent in makeup.

No second-guessing by friends and family. No zillionth point of reference for your life, reducing you and everyone else to the greatest common denominator.

No ready voice in the background, telling you why you're wrong. No body of proof, ready to be drawn from Google, twenty friends and eleven relatives.

No nth album of Goa pictures, or wedding pictures, out there to prove to you that no matter how shiny and perfect you thought yours was, someone's was better.

No location tagging. No tedious updates about who is where, especially when you're at home on a Saturday night.

No outrage wars, no empty protest marches, no instant activism for the generation with an attention deficit.


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Yes, this blog is becoming a little too philosophical. I promise the next post will cover all the usuals: Uday Chopra, Gujjus, blonde women, SRK, Rakhi Sawant... you get the drift.

January 22, 2012

Killing Them Slowly

Dear Readers,

Bear with me as for once - just this once - this blog gets a little bit girly. No, scratch that. Feminine. Because that always sounds better, right?

I read this article a couple of days ago about women's clothing. Click this.

Now call me slow, but this gave me one of those blinding flashes of the obvious. This is a global problem. I thought this was about me, or Indian stores, or my overall penniless-ness and consequent lack of access to fancy brands.

Obviously not. It's the bloody manufacturers.

Because women's clothing, frankly, is a pain. Bags are a pain. Shoes are a pain. Hell, even the conventional idea of how to do your hair is a pain.

Everything in every high end store caters to a tall thin woman with small hips and very little flab. Where is this mythical goddess? No one knows. Often, increasing sizes account fully for increasing heights but not at all for girth. This naturally makes you wonder who buys them. Answer: The lineup of supermodels that you see at Palladium on weekend mornings and afternoons. Just them. (Want to know more? Read Avantika's post here.)

Here we are. A nation of short, well-rounded (heh!) women. No long legs. No 22 inch waists. Definitely no 30 inch hips. And yet, someone wants to convince us that we can look good in skinny jeans. And Levi's wants to make an ad for *curvy* women showing 3 types of jeans for different "types" of curves, except that they all look exactly the same - skinny.

Let's talk about footwear. Buying anything at all is usually a tiring exercise. Footwear, more so, and chances are no matter what you buy, you'll regret it. Why? Because:
1. All formal shoes will give you shoe bites within 3 days of wearing them. (Not to mention all formal shoes have zero grip and maximum potential for slipping, tripping and falling.)
2. All comfortable shoes will make you look like Mayawati.
3. All pretty-and-comfortable shoes will make you wonder if you should have bought something with a heel.

Bags? Here we're all at fault. We want our bags to fit in a book, our phone charger, wallet, keys, makeup, sunglasses, glasses, lenses, lens solution, dabba, bottle of water, disposable soap, a newspaper and if possible, a laptop. Result? Gargantuan beasts that usually come with as many shiny straps and buckles as a dozen cowboys. Result a month later? Perpetual shooting pain through 1 shoulder and 1 leg.

Hair? Hairdressers are the scum of the earth. To justify their highway robbery, they will push to give you the most *unique* haircut in the city. Maybe something short enough to make you worry that you're a boy. Or asymmetrical. Or worse - bangs. Which normal woman can put up with bangs without a desire to staple bits of paper to her own forehead? And this is just the earnest ones who want to have earned their fee. The non-assiduous ones will be happy to spray a lot of water on you, trim all of it a little, and say, "You like?" with such fierceness that you feel obliged to say that you love it.

But no matter what kind of hairdresser you're up against, no matter whether you want them to cut your hair, or trim it, or lop it all off - one thing is common. They thrive on doomsday prophecies. The minute you're in the damn chair, they're tut-tutting at your hair and how *damaged* it is. How you need a hair spa (no points for guessing, this is usually very expensive.) How dry it is. How oily it is. How straight it is. How curly it is. How they found 3 split ends. How they found 1 white strand. How your hairfall (whether it's 1 or 100 a day) is abnormal. How you'll be bald in a year.

Then they ask you asinine questions like "Don't you use an egg?" Good God, obviously I don't. It stinks, I don't have the time, aney this is a pure vegetarian Gujarati household. (Even if I did have the time, it'd be a sad waste to spend in a bathroom, cracking an egg on my head and waiting for my hair to absorb all the muck.) Better still, "Do you use public transport?" Answer: If I keep coming here and spending my life's savings on you trying to make me feel bad about my normal hair, I won't even have money for public transport.

The next time you assume your co-worker is sniping at you because of PMS, consider this: She has very likely come to the office in uncomfortable pants, in a train filled with fisherwomen, then walked on a road in high heels looking for a cab, carrying about 7 kilos of weight on one shoulder - and all this is fresh on top of her hairdresser saying yesterday that he wouldn't give her hair 6 months. And this is just the beginning of the day. It is extremely probable that lunchtime means just a salad thanks to the Struggle Against Worse Pants.

Enough, I say. Why do men get away with a 50 rupee haircut, 2 pairs of shoes (total), 1 comfortable bag and 5 pairs of almost-identical, comfortable clothing? Because no one can convince a man that he's not a stud to begin with. Ladies, very important lesson there.

Don't believe me about this? Check out the Zara website. Now visualise a normal sized Indian female friend. Fit A onto B. Have a nice day. :)