Monday, November 30, 2015

When you need help with help

I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And... I was really... I was alive.”

- Walter White, Breaking Bad (Season 5)

I have a severe case of OCD. The utensils have to be placed in the drawers, one after the other. We have a maid who cleans them but i've got to put them in. I'm perfectly OK with her slacking on the cleanliness scale but i need to design the placement. The books have to be stacked neatly, even during an earthquake. The shoes have to be lined up nicely on the rack like civilization expects us to. The clothes have to be folded properly even if ironing ain't my thing. Basically, everything has to be in order. There shouldn't be strains of hair on the white floor nor an assembly of dust on the fan blades. Nobody notices a tidy room as much as they notice an untidy one. No surprises then that i get down to brass tacks every morning followed by a lengthier swings during weekend. I don't know about charity but orderliness begins at home. Thanks to my condition, my area of compulsion isn't limited to my apartment. I keep picking up litter be it on street or in office washroom. Although i try hard but i've failed to become the indifferent person that my personality otherwise exudes. My office drawer at mid-day was a sight to behold. My colleagues used to comment that even girls don't keep stuff so tidily! (I know it's a myth that girls are supposed to herald spick-and-span.) Now, at Zomato, we don't have desk culture. We only have a table at our disposal and you can see how immaculate my desk is. So much so it used to annoy Akshar when we sat next to each other. Coming back to our apartment, i can't help but clean up the mess my flat-mates leave behind on the main table or in the kitchen. They don't do it with the hindsight that i'll clean but me being me, i end up moving stuff around. The bean bags go back to their place. The cups and plates move to the sink. Washed clothes are demarcated. Windows closed on time. I don't even care about intrusion laws as i enter my flat-mates' room to switch off buttons to save electricity. And this can get tiring. It's a thankless task, no doubt, but it gets taxing after a while. I don't know anyone who's 29 and worried about such little things in life. I believe all of them are busy either living it up (and leaving mess behind for others to clean?) or conquering the world. But then, i've also realized that whatever you do, even if it's for others, you basically do it for yourself. Even if it gets exhausting at times. I spam some chosen ones on WhatsApp with quirky/funny images every morning. Although it takes seconds to send pictures across but it takes much longer to procure and curate them. But then, again, i don't do it for others. I do it for myself. I feel good when i learn something new or laugh at something newer so i decide to share it with others. Anyway, my style of spamming is faaaaaar better than the good-morning-good-night spammers'. Like i said, most of the activities we get ourselves into have a direct connection with what makes us happy. I don't know much about cooking but a clean kitchen allows me a sense of calm, if not achievement. They say cooking is therapeutic. I think my OCD does the same for us. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Once upon a baraat

I seldom get to laugh hysterically. Most of my going-to-die-laughing moments happen unannounced. My favourite laughfest moments are random in nature. As a kid, i remember laughing like a moron after watching this cartoon about a baby who eats everything that comes his way. He's perpetually hungry. Fed up (ironically) of him, the government puts him in a rocket and bids him away to moon. However, their relief is short-lived as they notice later at night that the full moon is changing to new moon. I still laugh thinking of him. Similarly, i also laugh thinking of the way Charlie Chaplin behaved in most of his films. The one where he's boxing and the one where he's stuck in a cage with a lion destroy my belly. The kind of stuff that crack people up—online or offline—leave me asking for more. Humour is too meme-based nowdays. I'm not trying to assert my comical superiority here. Just sharing a story that cracked me up although it left my friend bewildered why i found it so damn funny. He told me about a wedding procession back in his hometown which happens to be a tier 3 city in Uttar Pradesh. As is the thing with northerners in our country, they like making noise. Since firecrackers weren't enough for this purpose, they had rifles to help them up the decibel. But something untoward was about to happen that night. As the baraat was proceeding through the street, curious onlookers started gathering on the sidelines and womenfolk were poking their heads out of their balconies and windows to grab a better view. The bridegroom seated uncomfortably on the horse was goaded by elderly men from his family to shoot a bullet towards the sky. Needless to add, the young man was hesitant to go ahead with the proposal. To make him feel better, one avuncular figure took the rifle and shot three times. — perpendicular—before handing the weapon back to him. The poor chap was left with no option but to pull the trigger. In his clumsiness, he ended up shooting a woman who was standing with her relatives on a nearby balcony. She died on the spot.

OK, so why did i find this incident funny? Apparently, after that night, people in this neighbourhood stopped checking out a baraat proceeding on the street. On the contrary, whenever they hear a band baaja approach, they run back into their houses asap and shut their windows tight. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Why faith shouldn't determine your mindset

It's that time of our lives when we'll come across stinging words on the Internet. Mostly political but driven largely by religion. And that's a deadly combination. I've witnessed how people change once they are exposed to online radiation. Some of them happen to be my childhood friends who were so freaking liberal as kids but grew up to grow ugly beard or turn into Hindutvawadi. It's not their fault. No matter how much we try, we end up becoming the product of our environment. This morning, i confronted (something i seldom do) my school friend. He has this botched viewpoint when it comes to Indian history. Again, i don't blame him because we do and feel what makes us better. I usually don't humour such conversations but today, i decided to him rant before shooting him a lengthy missive. 

I'll tell you something because i care for you. Not because i've read a lot more than you have. Try to rise above this rubbish that the right-wing has been spreading online under the disguise of Hindutva. They don't care about you. They don't represent your interests either. For your benefit, read more and rise above religion. To negate your point, let me assure you that Gandhiji was the last person to wish a divided nation. But the ones who killed him (Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS) did. However, their agents make sure you believe otherwise by peddling their doctored version of history. You know why they do that? Because they weren't freedom fighters. None of these people gave a damn about the nation. They were too busy creating a place for themselves. So, my advice to you would be, either read more to understand the political realitybecause you appear stuck on religion, which is very dangerousor just don't read whatever you're reading. Because it will only make you shallow(er). Also, stop playing the victim. Hindus are 1.1 billion strong today. And no external force can defeat them. History has tried again and again but failed every single time. If at all Hindus get defeated, it's going to be because of the shallow-minded ones who prefer to see things from only one angle. If you don't understand what i'm trying to tell you, it'd be alright. But if you continue thinking on the same line that you do today, your future is going to get affected. You'll have kids tomorrow and you'll (unknowingly) pass the poison of hatred to them. Do you want that?

The only response i ended up getting from him after a long pause was "I'll read more." which is not bad. As i mentioned in my last post, i'm planning to read a lot more too. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Read and left?

Going by the awesome stuff i get to read on a daily basis thanks to the wide shoulders of the Internet, i'm now dead sure that i'll never be able to write like them. Their words and the culminating thought process are like dreams that you never want to wake up from. They are simply gorgeous. I can't even imagine or try to fathom the depth of their minds. I'd be lost anyway. So, taking this newfound reality into consideration, i've made a small change to the purpose of my life. Call me cynical but i've noticed patterns you missed. So, instead of aiming to be an also-ran who won't be counted at the end, i'm going to invest my time into making sure that i continue reading the finest piece of literature ever attempted—be it from any language as long as it's translated well into English—by humans. I wish those words continue to greet me with the same delight that i pursue them. I vowed something similar about a decade ago with cinema although i had no intention of filmmaking but the plan worked in my favour as ii managed to watch gems after gems.

Thought you should know because you are part of this fruitless ridiculous journey and also because, as you are well aware by now, i love y'all from the bottom of my fingertips.

PS. You won't be part of my will though. 

Ohm ashanti ohm

I really don't understand this intolerance people are blabbering about. I fully get what that word means but the context is so dragged out that its usage has become a sham now. Especially thanks to the nature of those who are hijacking it for personal gains at the expense of making the nation look horrible (as if India isn't dented enough!) than she already is. It goes without saying that the whole exercise is a political assumption, not a social one although it is presented in a manner that'd make you wonder whether the entire nation has changed its behaviour all of a sudden. Guess what? It hasn't. We are what we were last decade and most probably, the decade before that. Which is why we should question whether intolerance is rising from the government's end or the people's. So far, those accusing the nation—and by extension, her people—are being cautiously vague. It goes without highlighting that they never liked the government in the first place. To put the accusers' attitude in context, it looks like they are absolutely blind to the attempts made by the reigning government to make up for the lost decade by the previous government. When perception is missing, logic is designed to suffer. As the result, a scapegoat is being sought for all the things wrong with our country—political as social (note that nobody talks about the 'economical' side anymore)—to feel better about themselves. A government, if you acknowledge how vast our country is, can only influence social precincts to some extent. Even if it was taking steps to raise intolerance, it'd take years given the rate at which things get done in India. And this government completes 1.5 years tomorrow. On the contrary, i think intolerance was at its peak during UPA 1 and UPA II if you too don't have a short term memory. The biggest Hindu-Muslim riot since Godhra happened in Assam (followed by Muzaffarpur), 100+ Kashmiris were killed one summer (some of them being teenagers), Indian women's safety points dropped thanks to incessant rape cases in cities as well as far-flung places like Manipur and a lot similar mishaps took place. And who can forget the greatest cases of corruption ever recorded in the history of politics? I wonder when will people who are so sick of NDA so soon although it has barely done anything drastic (though i'm sure they've got moves waiting to unleash) realize they are doing the nation a huge disservice by stalling whatever little goodwill we can garnering. The nature of geo-politics has changed. It's not about weapons anymore. It's all about Big B now. Something businessmen understand and that's why they don't make irresponsible statements no matter what their political standing is. (Unless you are NR Murthy who couldn't digest the fact that his son was replaced in an education advisory board.) Nice image matters. Soft power matters. Shit happens and is always going to happen irrespective of what the conditions subscribe to. One should be fair, yes, but not by letting the so-called conscience turn you blind. That thing in our head is for stopping the bad from happening, not for seeking scapegoats. I'm not fond of the Hindutva leaning but at the same time, i might be guilty of mocking NaMo and his never-ending foreign tours which is reminiscent of Nehru's reign. However it's a necessary medicine. And when you read about Bollywood personalities who reside in ivy towers and cry chants of intolerance, it's damaging no one else but us. These folks never cared about anything other than their box-office returns. Of course, they have the right to express their opinion but at the same time, they shouldn't be surprised by the reaction. The opposing parties have the right to express their opinion too, as long as nobody resorts to violence or disorder.

On second thought, maybe there is a rising intolerance for stupid remarks.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Talk to her

A pigeon appeared out of nowhere in our office this morning. The exit door must have been open because the windows are always closed. In its panic to get out, the poor thing (it's shitload of a bird otherwise) kept crashing its face into the glass window again and again. After half a dozen failed attempts at crashing through the window, it settled on the hanging tubelight. Most of my colleagues were amused as well as concerned so we opened the gallery door as well as the main glass door for it to fly away. But then, years of co-habitation has taught pigeons that humans are the last creature to trust on this planet. Why do you think they shit on us and our cars?

To cut short story shorter, the trapped pigeon took its own sweet time to get out through the gallery door. But i couldn't resist imagining the possibility of walking up to the frightened bird perched on the swinging tubelight and extending my hand for it land on my palm. If that wasn't magical enough, it'd have been awesomer to escort it out to freedom like a messiah. Imagine the expressions of my colleagues if i were able to do so! This is exactly why Mowgli is my all-time favourite superhero because he could have pulled off that stunt. The ability to communicate with all beings other than humans has its advantages too.  

Monday, November 23, 2015

When is this world going to the dogs?

This is my eleventh month in Gurgaon and i often come across questions asking me how i find Delhi. I end up explaining to them that Gurgaon is different from Delhi as they are two separate places. However, there is something very common to both these cities: assholes. So what? All cities have them, right? True (and you can trust me on this given my journalistic background in mid-day where i heard some of the goriest city stories) but these assholes are different. They are quite proud of being assholes. Their stories aren't featured in newspapers because they are considered normal by their kind. They'll cut queues in supermarkets while chewing gum. They'll take your parking spot with a smug face. They'll request you to take your bag off from the chair in a restaurant only to later keep their bag on the same chair. They are loud in cinema halls and create a mess out of their popcorn buckets. They'll keep honking in traffic despite knowing that the signal is red. They'll resort to violence because they don't know what logic means. They'll shoo away labourers' kids from the park just because they look poor. They'll treat their maids like shit not only in private but also in public since they don't care. I know of a building where they don't let the nanny drink water lest she has to use loo, something they can't let happen lest she ruins their fancy toilet. They have a problem with street dogs in the colony because they bark. They don't have a problem with others having a problem with their loud annoying music (read: Yo Yo Honey Singh) playing late into the night. Forget dogs, they even have a problem with puppies. So much so a lady from my neighbourhood intentionally ran over a puppy killing it on the spot. Her son is the only kid i know who STILL uses his Diwali toy gun to scare away the dogs. During Holi, he bombarded a mongrel with water balloons and when the startled creature gnarled back at him, he ran to his mommy dearest claiming that the mad dog was trying to bite him. And if that's not unfair enough for you, last winter, an elderly Jat guy (who stays three buildings away) set a street dog on fire to prove a point to another guy who used to feed it. [The police and animal helpline were called but nothing helpful happened because it's stupidity to expect animal laws to be effective in a country where human laws are effete.] I mean, how fucked up are you, man? I get it that you are wealthy and i'm not even going to question how you made your money because we both know that won't be a comfortable spot. But still, how difficult is it to hide the fact that you are a Grade A asshole? I get it that you can buy designer apparels but it's impossible to buy class. I know that must hurt you. I empathize with you. It must be very tough to prove to everyone around you that you've been traditionally rich with your swanky villa and flashy cars. In the back of your head, you know it's a charade that won't last long. I hope you see light someday but i'm worried about your kids and grandkids. They are probably going to emulate you thinking you are normal when you aren't. And someday, they'll crash into the bigger truth. When THAT happens, they'll hate you. They'll be sorry for they come from you. Until then, enjoy your smug face.

The greatest irony is these assholes own (purebred) dogs too, not because they love them but because it's a symptom of status. No wonder they hire a walker for their overfed but underloved pets.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The scale of luxury

I finally got to watch Cristiano Ronaldo's documentary (it's not great, almost good, which is a surprise when you've got someone like Asif Kapadia—of Senna and Amy fame—on board) and the first scene after introductory credits makes you aware of the privileged life Cristiano Ronaldo leads. Which shouldn't surprise anybody given he makes £300,000 a week for his footballing exploits. He doesn't even know how many cars he owns! Moreover, there's no doubt that he's a legend in the making. By the time he retires, we'd be sorry for the lack of footballers of his calibre. The amount of discipline and industry he pours into his profession is so apparent that he doesn't even have to rip off his jersey or celebrate by running half the stadium. But then, people are always going to compare him to Messi because of a simple reason: Cristiano appears obsessed with Messi, not the other way round. Cristiano is more obsessed with Cristiano by any yardstick. Going by the press reports, Messi barely mentions CR7. The lil' genius is way too busy talking about Barcelona and his teammates. Also, there is a whole lot of me-me-me going on (as evident by the documentary too) in Cristiano's life, which might very well be the propellant for his incredible success.  Everyday, he's trying to prove to the world that he's the best. And when you have a rival like Messi on the leaderboard, that's going to be really tough. 

I digressed.

This blog post was supposed to be about privilege, not footballers who are professional enough to know which badge to kiss. So, while watching the aforementioned documentary, i couldn't help but wonder how awesome it must feel to be Cristiano. No worries about bills to pay. Everything is sorted. There are people to take care of your needs. All he has to do is perform (which he does anyway). Such a blessed lifestyle! And that's when it occurred to me that there are people on this planet who might be praying to have the luxury you and me are having. An existence where you are at least aware of what's going on. I'm sure there must be people who are way too occupied by their battle against hunger and ignorance that they are dying to have a bird view. The way we do thanks to technological accesses that we take for granted. If Cristiano is making millions per year, there are people who are making less than thousands per year. And for them, a footballer in La Liga doesn't matter. They are far more closer to realities. A reality populated by people like you and me.  

PS. I hope DF10 (Diego Forlan's upcoming documentary) turns out to be a better film because Ronaldo's relied heavily on vanity and excuses. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Amma is typing...

My brother and i got amma on WhatsApp. We thought since i don't stay with them anymore, it'd be nicer to have a group of our own where we can message each other and share pictures from our daily lives. For some reasons, she didn't pick up how to upload a picture although she's fluent in emojis now. It's cute to see her use that emoticon where one eye is closed and another too big with tongue out. Turns out she uses them because she is quite slow with QWERTY. The time she takes to reply sometimes is longer than the essay that she could have written offline. But here's the catch: she was recently invited to another group where relatives (mostly women) are very active. They converse in Tulu which has made my ma type faster and stay more entertained. :(  

Much against yourself

One of the most grueling onscreen interviews has to be from The Departed (2006). It's set in FBI's office where Leonardo DiCaprio's character can't wait to shed his family's ill reputation by becoming a cop. The proverbial good guys. But it can't possibly be THAT easy for him so, the interviewer is tough on him. Tough is actually an understatement. Mark Wahlberg was brutal. At the end of the interview, it becomes obvious why what just happened happened. Leo's integrity wasn't under the scanner. It was his perception about himself and where he comes from. He wasn't supposed to be deluded. You see, it's easy to let go off one's family roots but once you do that, you are on your own. That interview was an assertion of this ground reality.  

When you stop running

Don't butterflies feel the burden of their wings? Wings they themselves can't admire. You often see children chasing these beautiful insects (if mosquitoes wasn't so keen on eliminating us, it'd have been beautiful too) with no success. They keep doing it repeatedly, hoping they'll somehow outrun their prey. They never do but they don't give up either. And then one day, all of a sudden, these kids grow up and switch on the mosquito repellants in their room. Mosquitoes aren't worth running after.

Moral: Chasing is just for the time being regardless of what age you are.  

Karma could be a dog

We live in an era where the most one can do for the street dogs is let them be. Unbelievable as it may sound, the urban reality is very harsh on the canines, especially the uncollared ones. My grandma used to say that whatever little goodness we attempt, we shouldn't do it with an intention to receive something in return. Otherwise, there is no merit in trying whatever you hope to for others. I agree completely with her but whenever i'm feeding the street dogs in my colony, i can't help but wonder whether my act is going to help me in my next birth (it doesn't matter if i don't believe in such things because it exists, it's going to happen anyway) in any way. I mean, what if i take birth as a mongrel in my next birth? Wouldn't i be depending on the kindness of absolute strangers? I don't know how i'll survive but i'm sure how i'm going to die if those strangers don't show up on time: perish like street dogs do nowadays. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Be a better son

I met my amma last week after quite a long while. This had been the longest i stayed away from her. It's difficult to sum up what i felt during my interactions with her for about a week. Time is ruthless to those who love and care too much. They say that it's difficult for a mother to part with her child because for her, it's about letting a part of her go away. And nothing could be truer. It even beats the acceptance of the truth that nobody in your lifetime is going to love you as your mother does. In this narrative, the emotions a son has for his ma is generally overlooked. He may never get to express himself wholeheartedly.

PS: This blog post basically wrote itself because my original plan was to share in detail how my mother's face looks septuagenarian now and her left leg is crooked thanks to a surgery she had recently. None of that happened. I'm sure she is a tough person but i'm also sure that it's tough to be her. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

From M-word to M-ward

In an ideal setting, you won't have to get married to anyone. But we don't live in an ideal world so the least we can do is be as practical as possible about stuff that are sentimental in nature. If you love someone, ask yourself some tough questions. Is it really love? Are you capable of distinguishing between attraction and love? [Attraction is what bee feels for flowers while love is what sun feels for flowers. Attraction may or may not nourish while love nourishes as well as destroys.] Why do you want to marry her? A bill of permanence maybe? What is it that would change if wedding takes place tomorrow? Anything at all? Will you start taking her for granted once you stroll around agni seven times? What are you scared of? A worthless paper? Isn't wedding something of a formality to appease the society and to stop the bureaucracy from breathing down your necks? Do you want kids? One is enough? Can't you have one out of wedlock? No? OK. Just asking. 

There are many more questions which i'm not aware of. 
Try to find them and answer them before you take the plunge (hopefully not into agni).

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Time, please

If you think 2015 is passing by way too fast, it says more about your relationship with time than your lack of perspective. We all receive 24 hours a day on this planet. It's up to us how we spend them. We can very well squander them on stuff that would leave us weak. On the other hand, we can also invest them in endeavours that would enrich our existence. It's clearly a choice. However, sometimes, things happen that aren't within our control. They shape us into what we are going to be tomorrow. You gain some and you lose some in the bargain called life. The least one can do is acknowledge the realities of time. Respect it a bit, perhaps? Because if it chooses to be harsh on you, nobody can save you. The feeling that you think 2015 is passing by way too fast confirms the fact that you didn't lose anybody/anything significant enough. Or else, you'd be mourning because when something like that takes place, time drags.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The unbearable lightness of Diwali

It's that season when firecrackers are back in fashion. In a nation like India, you don't really need a festival to make some noise. Noise happens to be the most followed religion in the country anyway. Regardless, it's that time of the year when we begin to hear some people advocating noiseless Diwali. I wrote a piece four Diwalis ago on the same subject and it seems like not much has changed. Everything depends on how one looks at things and for that to materialize, one requires light. Ironic as it is, this is a festival of lights despite the ignorance surrounding it! It has never been about sound. Even if one follows the recorded history, Ramayana was written around 5 BC and firecrackers weren't invented by Chinese until the 12th century AD. So, the logic behind firecrackers is pretty much global. We crack them for the same reason that the Olympics does on its inauguration day. There's nothing religious about it. The association of firecrackers with Diwali took place thanks to Hindi cinema, which for dramatic reasons, used shots of firecrackers to signify revelry in movies. Something the entire nation (not just other vernacular cinema) picked up over time. But you can't make that argument with sensitive Hindus—well, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists celebrate this glorious festival too but aren't known for their noisiness—who prefer overlooking facts. So much so they feel their freedom of practice is being hampered by those who expect them to avoid firecrackers during Diwali celebrations. In their defense, they'll make lame arguments that Muslims broadcast their prayers (azaan) five times a day and nobody seems to have a problem with that. First thing first, Muslim festivals are noiseless by default if you don't consider the bleating call of death that's pretty bloody and distasteful. Going back to azaan, it's a technological shame that they use loudspeakers to relay prayer when it's clearly stated in Qu'ran that muezzin's voice should be enough to make a believer take notice. But still, isn't the infamous loudspeaker a thing of exclusivity in Muslim-dominated neighbourhood? And can the same be said about the noise that keeps emanating from a temple throughout the year—as you know, we Hindus love celebrating life—for one festival or the other irrespective of the neighbourhood? Let me answer that for you: No. Besides, it's ridiculous to compare human voice with firecrackers, especially in the times of Yo Yo Honey Singh. 
But then, again, firecrackers aren't about religion. It's about environment. People are bound to pounce on this by saying that pollution is a common thing in the country and a week (yes, the neighbourhood kids make sure that the Great Noise lasts at least seven days) of chemical cloud won't change the status. Guess what? It does. Due to blatant ignorance on the part of urban India, Diwali has become a festival of chemicals celebrated with lanterns made in China. In an ideal world, we would be decorating the entrance with rangolis and placing diyas on every windowsill of the building. But no, that's not what happens. It looks like we are celebrating Christmas with fashionable neon lights that twinkles on and off! Technology breeds laziness but it shouldn't make us forget who we are and where we come from. My parents aren't vastly educated but they had the gumption to teach me at a very young age that it's all about lights (and sweets, of course!). Also, it's only when you have pets at home that you realize how difficult (read: traumatic) it can get for them when firecrackers burst in the vicinity. Shock is too weak a word to describe how they behave. The situation gets worse for the street dogs who have no place to escape to. Now that i've mentioned the so-called animals, i'm tempted to mention heart patients, pregnant ladies, oldies and people who are vulnerable to startling sounds here but you get the picture. The only funny part here is that the innocent being called kids are responsible for a majority of this chaos.  
But then, again, Diwali is not about the props. It's about spreading the light and happiness. In a simple word, sharing. Gifting those who don't have an excuse to celebrate the festival. But no, that's far from what's really going on in our society. The market dictates that it stays within the house. We share gifts with those who share gifts with us. It's a lot like asking "how are you?" to those we know are fine. We'd rather burn the world than see the light spread. We'd rather waste money on chemicals that's eventually going to choke us someday. We'd rather stay ignorant and feel better about ourselves. Worse still, we'd rather assume that making some noise leaves us powerful. We'd rather not question the need to gift toy-guns to our kids only to be surprised in the future how India copied America's culture of gun violence in college. OK. Let's not go there. 
Four Diwalis later, if i'm alive and typing, i'd write another piece on this subject. Till then, remember that noise affects only those who don't make them. 

PS: May the light in you shine brighter than ever before. Happy Diwali!

Rising tolerance for nonsense

There's a debate in place that India is currently more intolerant than ever before. Going by the dominant voices who believe so, it's pretty obvious that their assertion is more political than social. The epicenter of this argument can be located at the recent Dadri lynching case. After the shameful mob justice that happened in UP, echoes of 'intolerance' started ringing. Interestingly enough, this perception was specific to English media. Hindi media, which has its nose closer to the ground, didn't jump on the bandwagon. It'd be safe to assume that never before in the history of the English language has the term intolerance been abused the way it is now. If one wayward incident can smear the entire nation (imagine the backlash Brand India would be facing in the international community/market due to this campaign), then the Bodo-Muslim riots of 2012 and Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 did far greater damage to the fabric of our country when hundreds of people were massacred. Weren't these two deeply religious in nature? Weren't we intolerant back then too? To make matters worse, the media was indifferent. Also, the most important point to note is both these events took place during the UPA regime. Which is why i find the whole India-is-intolerant debate misguided. It's been a massive facade (so far). When India is being labelled intolerant, the target is not Indians but the government that is in place. Because unlike Scandinavians, we don't take labels seriously. Call us uncouth, noisy, barbaric, cheap, unpunctual, vain, foolish... it doesn't affect us at all! We've grown immune to labels. That's one of our greatest achievements of the 20th century. We managed to stay the way we were no matter how ugly that made us look. And a propaganda initiated by select mediapersons—which has been propelled by artists who otherwise don't stand for anything—come to think of it, still don't because returning awards don't mean they are returning the cash prize too—isn't going to change that. It's just a theme running its course. Despite being political in nature, it doesn't affect election results either. People in Bihar cast vote for their castes, not what the likes of Sardesai or Ghose spew on TV. If at all anybody is intolerant as such, it had to be the people who claim to be democratic but can't stand the fact that NaMo won the game of thrones. I'm not a NaMo fan nor am i a BJP supporter. In fact, like several others, i'll never forgive what happened in 2002. But at the same time, the political arguments debasing NDA government has reached such intellectual lows that one can't help but hope that the country rises out of this circus. If one understands economics, there's no substitute for time—no, not even money—and India is forced to waste time thanks to the rising level of tolerance for nonsense. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

A business of bias

Other than helping us waste time in fashion, Twitter's greatest achievement has to be its exposure of hypocrisy practised by political journos in our country. People who otherwise hide behind lengthy articles in newspapers end up showing their agenda-based journalism in their 140-character tweets. The least one can expect from politico-journos (given how much they help shape the conscience of the country, unlike say a sports journalist) is fairness.  Maybe that's too much to ask for. Nowadays, different journalists have different leanings and their reportage are laden with personal opinion instead of recorded facts. Of course, they have every right to voice their beliefs but shouldn't they be sensitive before making blatant statements that reeks of prejudice? Their political standings reflect heavily on their outlook, which is quite dangerous when they are meant to be the messengers of reality, not harbinger of imagination. Secondly, they have to ensure that they know what they are talking about, especially online. One week, you defend burqa saying it's a woman's choice to wear what she wants and the next, you mock Karwa Chauth citing its patriarchal leaning. One week, you find everything right with China and the next, you are wondering why India's democracy is hollow. Seriously? 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Karma isn't your bitch

They say Karma is a bitch. I don't know whether that's true or not because i feed my favourite biscuits (Parle-G) to some bitches in the neighbourhood every morning and they don't look like they can get get shit done. Karma, on the other hand, appears like she knows what she is up to. I'm saying this because i've often heard people reckon Karma when things are working against them. Always notice this trend. They'll never mention her otherwise. For instance, when you are hurt, you are bound to say that Karma will take care of this by hurting the one who hurt you. While doing so, you conveniently forget the basic question: what if Karma was doing her job when you were hurt? Or what if you hurt somebody in the first place but your self-fulfilling memory isn't helping you locate that incident? 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Forever alone and how!

After watching the latest John Lewis ad, i remembered how i used to wave at the moon as a kid. I'm sure you also did that. There was something attractive about the moon. The way it followed you on your way home on the bus. The way it stayed up all night even after the stars stopped twinkling. The way it was cold and calm while the sun appeared hot and angry. The way you drew it with a smile on your face as well as its. There was an in-built fascination with moon and the chanda mama stories only augured our curiosity about this white little plate in the sky that changes shape night after night. So much so some of us even dreamt of becoming an astronaut someday so that we could travel in a rocket and land up on our childhood friend to say hello. Of course, that part never materialized. For what it's worth, we are dreaming of colonizing Mars when our only natural satellite seems like a safer option to me. Maybe moon is destined to be forever alone. 

Friday, November 6, 2015


I'm going home. Tomorrow. Been almost ten months now in Gurgaon. The longest i've stayed away from family. Not really a fan of Diwali but am happy to be heading south. Would be nice to see how Bombay is doing. Can't possibly be worse from India's G-spot. 

That's all. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Catalysts for catalyst of change

My expertise in design is as limited as Steve Jobs' pancreas was to his longevity. I'm a copywriter. I wordplay for a living but every once in a while, i encounter situations where i get to peek into the epicness that is design. Well, design is nothing without words to describe it, isn't it? But that's for another blog post. As for now, let's concentrate on the non-verbal part. Think about it. Every little thing that you see or use or experience has something or the other to do with design. Basically, everybody is a blind slave to someone's design. You don't decide how your water-bottle is going to be shaped like. It could very well resemble Monica Bellucci's curves or flatter Kate Moss' waferness. Somebody else designed that bottle for you. The same principle applies to so many other things that we put to use in our day-to-day life. From the plates we eat from to the cars we drive in to the desk we spend our entire day on to the social networking sites we swear by—all of them owe their existence to designers. People we never get to know. They work quietly behind the scene with minimum fuss. But they shape our world. Just like an architect dreams of capturing a piece of sky with his buildings, these designers hope to influence the way we look at things (or better still, change the way we look at things!). What sets a designer apart from the rest is they can binge on originality without having to worry about repeating themselves. Let's call it the designer's touch. He'll go back to his designing board again and again and again, hoping to churn out something that reminds you of something else but not exactly. There's no such a thing as original idea and nobody knows that more succinctly than designers. They can't afford to live on the false premise of absolute creation. You can only push the wheel forward because the wheel is already invented. You can't claim to reinvent wheel either. I know this because of my association with some wonderful/promising designers like Akshar, Vivek, Nitish, Vishal, Jas, Bilal and Arpit. These guys are young and full of ideas. Out in the market, there are many more like them who appear careless but are fiddling with the very make-up on the face of our world. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

What's all the fuzz about?

People often ask me whether i regret quitting engineering. A very straightforward answer to that would be no but life isn't that linear. There are always some zigzags thrown into the pattern and every now and then, you are forced to reconsider your answer. If somebody asks me right now whether i'm happy with the way my life is moving, i'd say yes. But then again, it's not an absolute answer. I have my good days and i have my bad days too. There are times when i'm listening to some song at work and i begin to weep because it transports me to a better place. Similarly, there are times when i'm getting into the office elevator with some of the smartest people i know and feeling great about it. So, the question of regret is dependent on the moment when it's posed. There are no definite answers for the pure fact that it's based on the present—and by extension, the future—and not the past. If it was centered on the past, then i'll happily admit that my greatest regret is being unfair to my younger brother during our childhood days. As of now, i'm wondering whether getting rid of my facial fuzz is a matter of regret or vindication. I did it on impulse yesterday morning. However, i believe that my face has been hidden behind my beard for so long that i don't remember how i'm supposed to look like. I feel lighter and almost naked. I seemed to have not only lost weight but also age! People put on masks for Halloween. I got mine off. The only problem is it's going to grow back on again. Zigzags, as usual.