Saturday, December 31, 2016

Connect the dots

Whoever thought of this deserves the Best To The Point Title For An Eatery award. The suspense in the three dots after eat makes it the clear winner in its category.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Over and not out

There are very few jokes that i can think of and chuckle to myself. Most of the time, i watch comedians for the way they deliver a joke and i find my dose of humour in the way it’s expressed. For instance, i love it when Bill Burr laughs at his joke because i find the part when he’s unable to control his grin really funny. Similarly, i admire how Kenny Sebastian makes the most of silence before dropping the punchline. I’m a sucker for nuances. At the same time, my joke delivery sucks. I end up laughing the most while telling a joke. Very rarely do i manage to complete the intended joke. I’m usually covering my face on the table or rolling on the floor holding my loin. However (read however the way Louis CK would pronounce it), there are some jokes that i’ve come to cherish because of their solitude value. The kind which no comedian told you but you remember anyhow. The kind that doesn’t even require an audience and you can smile to yourself thinking of the hilarious scenario.

Presenting to you, ladies and gentlemen and the majority, one such piece to marvel.

People gathered outside a TV shop watching a cricket match involving India (of course; Indians are Indian cricket fan, not cricket cricket fan) and one more man joined the crowd. As is the norm, one is expected to ask what the score is. But this guy asked, “Gavaskar out ho gaya kya?” (Gavaskar is still batting or out?) To which, the surprised crowd turned their attention to the newbie and one of them replied, “Gavaskar ko out hue 25 saal ho gaye. Tu kahaan tha?” (It’s been 25 years since Gavaskar got out; he's retired now. Where were you?) The newbie matter-of-factly said, “Jail mein.” (Prison.)

Don’t know why but this silly joke cracks me up. Every single time.

Core issues

I was recently discussing how corruption is all around us. The plague has reached a point where you wonder whether it’s as essential as oxygen or it’s something that we can do without. I tend to believe that both the options could be mere possibilities. And the reason i say so has something to do with our association of corruption with politicians. Logic gets harmed when we can only imagine politics as the source of corruption. You know why? Because it’s not. Corruption is in every sphere of human influence. Politicians are maligned because they make great news. Corrupt individuals give rise to corruption. We often hear how the system is corrupt when the opposite is true. Individuals in a system are corrupt and these individuals function in coherence with their greed. More interestingly, corruption has very little to do with money. It’s essentially an exhibition of power. I can get you this or that done but there is a price to pay. Since the price can be paid in money most of the time, a signature of authority gets an appropriate tag. However, many a times, corruption creeps into a system without the individual noticing it. For example, you are being corrupt if you are using office printer to get printouts for personal use. Better still, you can be held for corruption if you are using staple pins that was ideally meant only for office use. See? That’s how the practice gets into picture but we brush it off thinking it’s not a big deal. Maybe it’s not a big deal but it makes front page headline when that practice is raised to the power of 1000 or more.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

An apple a day

During my kindergarten days, there was a book in which a boy was shown sitting on a fence with an apple tree behind him. The apples were low-lying and i used to wonder how nice it would be to have apples within your arm's reach. I had to wait for more than two decades to fulfill my childhood dream. Just to give you a background check, apple isn't native to India. The Britishers brought it along with them and found the cool hills suitable for its horticulture. Coming back to my story, i visited Ladakh in 2013 and saw apples trees for the first time in my life. To make things sweeter, the fruits were hanging really low. They were reddish ripe and i didn't waste any time in plucking one and belting it. I guess it felt nice... but not for long. I was on my second apple when i started feeling nauseous. Within seconds, i was puking and to complete the cycle of life, i was throwing up at the very base of the apple tree that i fed myself on! Apple hasn't been the same to me since. I've been avoiding that fruit thanks to what my mountain sickness did to me that day. Which is indeed an interesting development for a child who fancied greeting an apple tree someday in the early 1990s.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Misnomer of a colourblind

Ever heard an Indian (preferably northerner) calling a fellowperson (preferably northerner) racist for making a joke on another Indian (preferably southerner)? The joke could have been about anything ranging from unsavoury colour to weird accent to body hair. Even if you change the geographic belonging of the three characters, still the common factor would be the use of the R-word. Is it really racist of a northerner (or a southerner) to make fun of a southerner (or a northerner) with an insensitive remark? How can we determine the difference in race on the basis of the states one comes from? Especially when it’s obvious that the racial distinction in this case is based on appearance? For some inexplicable reason, darker skin tone is associated with the southern states while lighter tone is granted to the northern ones. Moreover, is it fair to say that the dark-looking Punjabis are racially distinct from their pinker neighbours? Similarly, aren’t there are fair people in south India? (No, it’s not just about the Aishwarya Rais and the Hema Malinis of the world.) Isn’t race a much deeper anthropological subject? There are too many questions here and a lot many more equations to handle. Our misguided sense of distinction, if i’m not mistaken, comes from the Britishers who ruled us. They saw us as blacks and we tamely accepted the term, overlooking the fact that many of us were wheat-ish. There was no scope for brown or grey in the colonial era; only black and white please. After our colonisers left, we turned on each other for amusement. Arts played a key role in bringing us together as countrypeople, true. It also gave birth to unchecked misrepresentation. For instance, post-independence, Bollywood kept on stereotyping the so-called Madrasis in their movies. (Calling the whole of south India Madrasis was similar to calling the whole of north India Kashmiris.) This gross caricature went on for decades to such an extent that nobody bothered to correct the powers-to-be in the Hindi film industry. There’s a very popular interview of Mehmood by Shekhar Suman where the former calls south Indian women black. Nothing wrong with that if it’s factual. Colour doesn’t determine the character of a person but the problem is in his tone: the degradation in his voice to crack wannabe jokes on the “blackness” of south Indians makes you want to call him racist. But then, there’s another problem here: his disdain for a particular skin tone doesn’t really make him a racist in India. He’s a colourist who happens to be an ignorant fool.

Urban poor joke

Q: What’s common to Katherine Hepburn, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and my grandma?

A: All took/take cold bath at night.

The only difference being my grandma did so because she couldn’t afford hot water all the time. Scarcity of fuel perhaps. Also, she wasn’t keen on fighting against ageing like the rest of the three were/are.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Begane naamkaran mein Abdullah deewana

What's in a name? A controversy by any other name would smell as tweet.” - Shakespeare

Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan had a baby boy yesterday and decided to name him Taimur. And Twitter India lost its digital shit. In an ideal world, it’s nobody’s business what the parents name their kids. But then, we don’t live in an ideal world and Saifeena comprise a universe that fall under the label celebs. Whatever they do is going to be microscoped; something they fully understand. That’s the price of fame everybody from Hollywood to Bollywood pays. When Kimye named their child North West, there were tweets/jokes floating all around. The same happened when Beyonce and Jay Z named their ward Blue Ivy. Apparently, normal names are for normal people and celebs aren’t perceived as normal. They are considered a notch above not only in their lifestyle but also in their outlook. Which is why it’s understandable how Taimur managed to create a buzz on social media—in tandem with mass media, of course; partners in crime—to such an extent that his name trended for over 24 hours. That’s no small feat. The boy is not even a day old and he sticks to the list like magnet. Even Virat Kohli’s excellence doesn’t let him trend for a day. People’s attention keeps diverting and so do the trending topics. As far as Taimur is concerned, the initial response was a mix of aha and horror, which eventually graduated to hmm and shock and ultimately to ahem and wow. So what really triggered this extreme reaction? For one, Taimur, a variation of Timur, is a historic personality best remembered for his conquest as well as brutality. His Islamic agenda is well-documented and he figures in the top-10 list of mass murderers in recorded history. Taimur is of Turkic origin and signifies strength. It is indeed a rare name at least in Indian context. In a simplistic manner of speaking, he stood for bloodshed but then which great conqueror of the past didn’t? Mao alone was responsible for the death of over 50 million people and he wasn’t even a conqueror! Names like Darius and Xerxes are popular in Iran although both are pre-Islamic and were marked by terror. Omar is a popular name in the Muslim world and means exactly what Amar does: immortal. Similarly, a lot of Arab kids are named Saladin even though the great warrior was of Kurdish origin. Ashoka was an exception in the sense that he gave up violence after butchering villages after villages, thus ensuring his legacy is less tainted. Speaking of whom, we need to understand how significant one-word names are different from the ones with a surname attached. Famous names from history like Buddha, Paigambar, Akbar, Che, etc are words either embraced by or entrusted upon the individuals in question. You hear Mahatma, you think of Gandhiji. (You should ideally think of Phule but that’s a different debate altogether.) This might explain why you’ll still find kids named Adolf in Germany or Augusto in Chile; a different surname becomes the safety net. One-word names like Taimur or Aurangazeb are independent to the point that you automatically think of those two historic figures when you hear such names. Saifeena, in their defense albeit they don’t need to defend anything, can say that they don’t care about Timur or what he did. But that’d be a lame—no pun intended—explanation, especially for a couple that hails from an industry that binges on established names. After all, the nicest part of this pseudo-controversy is people are suddenly interested in "the most boring subject" called history.

I hope I trend on Twitter someday.” - Timur’s last words

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Nirvana Country

Clicked this photo last night in the market. The quality of the picture sucks mainly because nobody uses ASUS except me. Regardless, you can't help but feel for the dog staring longingly into the pet shop. Maybe it's something she does on a regular basis for her own amusement. Maybe not. Maybe the owner of the place has been kind to her. Maybe not. Regardless again, it is nice to know that well-fed dogs have their priorities set. At least in Gurgaon.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Doctor strange

I am a fan of Hugh Laurie on Twitter mainly because he is different from other Hollywood celebrities. Most of them don’t even make an effort to be real. He’s a rarity, squarely putting him in the league of funny fames like Conan O’Brien, Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick, James Blunt, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Colbert, Louis CK (he shouldn’t have quit Twitter), Chrissy Teigen, George Takei,etc. The trouble with being a star—big or small screen or tiny—is you treat stardom like a shoulder devil and forget to loosen up a bit. That’s also marks the distinction between the smart and not-so-smart celebs. Twitter, because of its spontaneous nature, allows one the space to be accepted or ridiculed for their hilarity. If not for social media platforms, we’d never really get a taste of how the popular peeps think and react to a situation. In any case, the dreg in us likes to believe that they aren’t smart because their onscreen lines are written for them! Which is true but it doesn’t mean that they are incapable of normal. We don’t care that Heath Ledger was a junior chess champion but if he was alive and kicking today, maybe he’d have been on Twitter expressing his love for those B&W squares. Going back to Hugh, after watching Dr. House (first season), i’m a fan of the character he plays in the eponymous show too. His professional aptitude, acerbic wit and his alienating personality work as a magnet. But behind all of the charming traits lies a limping person who can come across as sad. He is interested in others’ lives, particularly those who are working close to him. Not interested in gossip as much as he’s invested in ensuring all of his colleagues are doing their jobs well; he clearly doesn’t have a life of his own. Moreover, there is an episode where he confesses to his subordinate that he’d hate it if others pried on his space the way he does to others but then, he doesn’t have a personal life! Dr. House is strange and yet not so strange. His Sherlock-like attitude towards solving a given problem helps you look at yourself in a better light—be you a patient or a colleague. And while he’s at it, he emits a vibe that says that he can’t wait to get out of his clinic duty (read: hospital) as soon as he can. This despite the well-established fact that he doesn’t have anything waiting for him at home. It’s a paradox of being a prisoner. You can’t and don’t want to escape and yet you keep trying. After all, the patients will get better and leave the building sooner or later but the doctors are stuck inside for life. And Dr. House knows that.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Original Bane

Whenever you look at an influential person on screen, be it of a TV or a magazine, you ignore the ones who work behind the scenes. They enjoy the cloak of invisibility while they have a proper grasp on reality. One such character is Steve Bannon. Although he’s not really a quiet character, he has silenced quite a lot since he came to the forefront of American politics. He is the Chanakya to Donald Trump’s Ashoka; a terrible analogy by all means but the idea is to give intelligence due credit. Unlike Trump, Bannon isn't a fool who plays to the gallery. He masterminded the Trump campaign so effectively that there is no parallel to be found in the West today. And more you read about his controversial insights, the more you become convinced how wrong the mainstream media (MSM) was—throughout. It’s one thing to predict a football match score and quite another to orchestrate the entire match. Going by his record, Bannon was more correct than incorrect—much much more correct than MSM, no doubt—not just about the general public mood but the general public mood in different states. Of course, we aren’t reading articles full of accolades for Bannon thanks to his leaning. It's too early perhaps to celebrate hatred. Not that he seems to care because he’s busy charting out the future of his country, no matter how desperately bleak that may be.

Let’s back up a bit and check Bannon’s background.

Back in the 90s, his company produced Seinfeld, that groundbreaking show about nothing. It became so immensely popular that NBC bought it. This sweet deal made Bannon loads of money and Jerry Seinfeld the eventual richest entertainer in the world. Bannon went on to pursue different vocations, dabbling in media as well as showbiz. He seems to understand the string theory of power and influence. Going by the almost-white team that Trump has been selecting, Bannon certainly has a plan for the USA. In the coming months, more and more surprises and unsurprises shall unfold. Whatever happens, it’s worth wondering whether Trump would have been the POTUS-elect today if Seinfeld wasn’t the success it was and continues to be today.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Pee and space

School teaches us a lot about the society we live in. But it misses out on some key lessons of life. For instance, it doesn’t bother to explain how bad breath can single-highhandedly destroy your career. Or for that matter, why being silent is a symptom of strength in today’s ecosystem. Most worryingly, modern-day schools continue to pretend as if corruption is a word from fairy tales. The world is changing so fast while our education system (is it education system or literacy system because there’s a massive difference between the two?) continues to be stuck in a time zone. Maybe that’s why it’s becoming increasingly difficult to face the uncertain future that we’ve created for ourselves. But my greatest issue with the way things are today is the absolute disregard for etiquette in toilets. No, it doesn’t matter whether the toilet is stinking rich with urea like a desi toilet is supposed to. My concern is the way men behave with the lottery system in place.

None of the schools teach the kids to go for the first or the fifth urinal if all of them are available. That way, you don’t create an awkward situation for fellowmen. Let’s say you pick 2, the next guy will have to choose 4 to maintain the much-required space in a sanitary relationship. And then the following guy who shows up will have to choose between 1, 3 and 5. None of these options bode well for any of the three people, especially if they have a medical condition that automatically shuts their peeholes if a person is standing right next to them with his dick out.

In the nick of name!

We Indians have weird nicknames. Monikers that have nothing to do with our official name. My nickname is Sunil. My family and close friends still know me by that word. Apparently, it was my first name too as my dad was a huge Gavaskar fan. So i’ve got two names that are remarkably independent. Shakti and Sunil are as similar to each other as Putin and Trudeau in global politics. There’s another category of nicknames in our subcontinent (yes, this tradition-turned-trend isn’t restricted to India alone): nicknames that sound like nicknames but have nothing to do with the original name. Like a girl named Pooja is known as Munni in her family while a boy named Sameer is more popular as Guddu in his neighbourhood. This is still alright. The third category of nicknames is purely accidental and they usually occur because of me. I am bad with names but it gets worse at times. So, there’s a colleague named Neeraj in our office but i’ve been calling him Nikhil for about two years now. (Unlike a colleague from previous office named Gaurav who told me his name wasn't Gautam!) He never bothered to correct me even once until recently. In fact, whenever i called out Nikhil, he responded. It’s like he accepted either of the following conditions or maybe both:
  • According to me, Nikhil suits him better.
  • He agrees with my opinion since we are living in a very opinionated world.
The hilarious bit about this confusion would happen when somebody asks him whether he has a nickname and he goes “Oh yes, somebody calls me Nikhil too!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Yellow submarine

A school bus is meant to be yellow. Not just because the colour is attractive (OK, that’s the main reason actually) but because of scientific reasons. Unlike the kids inside it, a school bus is expected to behave. You’ll rarely see it meandering on the road or jump a signal or two. It follows all the rules and maintains decorum even in the most frustrating of traffic jams. In an ideal world, fellow vehicles would let a school bus go ahead but then Indian motorists seldom allow even an ambulance that sort of special favours. One more thing is similar to a school bus and an ambulance: phone number on its back. In fact, you are encouraged to call up the number in case you notice something off. What would be interesting though is to notice a school bus misbehave for a change. Like speeding, for instance. What’d be more interesting is to call up the number only to hear, “I’m driving right now, call me later."

Saturday, December 10, 2016

As fragile as democracy

Trump becoming the POTUS might be an unsavoury development for a lot of us but it's a necessary pill for democracy. Democracy might be the finest form of government but it’s definitely not infallible. History has taught, time and time again, that it's deeply rooted in human decency and it inextricably expects everyone to be wise enough to know what’s good for them. Now, the question is do people really know what’s good for them? Anyway, going back to Trump, the world looks up to the USA—not India, mind you—as the epitome of functional democracy. And when Americans can choose someone as divisive as Trump, it provides the world a much-required lesson in the fragilities of democracy. For example, last week, Austria (birthplace of Hilter) overwhelmingly rejected far-right party in a tense election. Can this choice, in some parts at least, be attributed to the outcome of US elections and more importantly, its aftermath? Can't say. People aren’t blind wherever they come from but going by the narrative of the mainstream voices, people are dumb creatures who require the arrogance of journalists/intellectuals/etc to dictate what they really desire from a political candidate. After all, a majority of those who voted for Trump overlooked his racist/misogynist/xenophobic/assholic comments and paid attention on the 'change' he promised. A change that mattered to them because it’s invested in their betterment; a change that apparently will bring jobs back to American shores and improve the conditions of working class America; a class that the rest of world tends to overlook because we are soaked in by the photoshopped glitter of Hollywood and the cultural coolness that US represents. There must be legion of studies on this topic but i’d like to assume that people always hold their economic need above EVERYTHING ELSE. Something that happened in 2014 too when Modi got a clear mandate. A majority of the commoners didn't vote for him because they wanted a temple in Ayodhya. They saw him as a harbinger of development; someone who will put the economy back on track and pull us ahead from the the countless scams that UPA1 and UPA2 shamelessly perpetuated. Going back to the burning question, people might be wrong in guessing what's good for them but more often than not, they are damn sure about the things they don’t want. Just that most of the time, we don't listen to them thanks to superiority complex despite knowing very well that democracy is all about the majority. Or in a simpler word, people.

Music to (other's) ears

Being sensitive to sounds can be a disadvantage. It messes with your mind. Peace of mind, to be precise. When you’re too sensitive, you basically lose your right to noise. How? Even the tiniest of audible infractions disturb you while the people around you don’t seem to care. You wince. They don’t. Their sense of accommodation belittles your tolerance. You become the party-pooper by default. As much as you are designed to appreciate music, the noise plays a key role in maintaining your sanity. To each their own music, to each their own noise. There must be a reason why our world is filled with music as much as with noise. The rhythm created by the chirping sparrows or the streams in a runaway forest complement the tumult orchestrated by a bursting volcano or a crazy tornado in rural America. That said, when you are too sensitive to sounds, you end up picking up tunes and tones others tend to miss. Not to brag but i noticed something in House which others—all those whom i know have watched the TV series—evidently overheard. Whenever a scene showcases a patient ward, you can hear the gentle doo-doo-doo beep in the background. The ominous sound of some medical equipment is always there without fail. And it fucking annoys me.

Friday, December 9, 2016

What does your art say?

Helplessness should be a genre in itself. I recently watched The Fundamentals of Caring (2016) and you should too. It’s basically about how each one of us on this planet is healing in different ways. You don’t need to be paraplegic to understand this analogy. Not so sure whether time heals or not but we certainly do. Sometimes with others’ input. Sometimes on our own. This is so because we are helpless beings, always in the pursuit of something that enhances our excuse to be alive. Speaking of which, helplessness has played a major role in the upliftment of arts. Be it painting or poems or a sculpture, the fact that nothing humane is for eternity plays heavily on our collective conscience. And that realization is also what makes our species beautiful. Beaten, broken, hopeful, hopeless but perpetually stuck in the process of healing.

Footnote: One of my favourite helpless scenes comes from Barfi (2012) when Ranbir Kapoor’s dad suffers from a cardiac arrest at night. He is in agony and trying to scream for help but Ranbir’s deaf-and-mute character is blissfully asleep.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Love and disorder

I have a (conspiracy?) theory that Jayalalithaa passed away in the afternoon of December 5 itself. According to me, they delayed the news so as to ensure that the state gets enough time to absorb what was going on. Had the breaking news been sudden and straightforward, hooliganism would have raised its ugly head. The media was full of trepidation and justifiably too given the stature JJ enjoyed in her state. I received a message, a few minutes after lunch, from a well-placed friend asking me whether i can translate a condolence message into Tamil for him. Given my admiration for Tamil, he assumed i must be well-versed in the language. I am not. It was obvious that she’d have passed away although media was playing cat-and-mouse with Apollo hospital. Maybe the people-behind-the-walls must have controlled the flow of info in this fashion: leak in the afternoon that Amma is very critical, followed by another leak suggesting she might have passed away only to deny it early evening, followed by a clarification by Apollo saying she was on life support system and finally make an official announcement at night that she has indeed departed. This yo-yo technique of uncertainty must have contributed to the orderliness that followed, leaving little space for chaos. Of course, the credit largely goes to the law enforcement agencies in Tamil Nadu, especially Chennai. But the maturity with which the communication was handled deserves a relook though there was an element of necessary deception. Maybe it’s a sign of the change in politics. The days of flaming emotions are numbered. Those types of nostalgic exhibits used to make it to the front page but the losses registered in damages to public/private properties ran into crores. And a ruling party can do well without such fanaticfare. 

Something similar happened but at a city-level when i was with mid-day. Rumours started spreading that Balasaheb had passed away on Friday. The official statement was made on Saturday. This delaying of news ensured minimum disorderliness in the city. The procession of departure was exemplary with minimum ruckus. 

This pattern also shows how the source of madness in Indian politics often emanate from the politicians themselves. No matter how much the laity loves a political figure, the majority don't engage in over-the-top expressions of grief. That job is executed by thugs employed by politicians. They are the ones who burn the buses and cars on roads in times of unrest. Common people, irrespective of whichever state they belong to, stand (and drop dead) in the queue. They seldom burn an ATM.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Sound of noise

When i quit mid-day, the in-house cartoonist Amit Bandre drew my caricature. It was a farewell gift. As cherished as it is, i got it printed on a glossy paper and pasted it on our wall. If you notice, it’s an exaggeration of my face as a cartoon is supposed to be. What’s more interesting is the manner my love for Maggi and tattoos are highlighted; not just random tattoos but by a tattoo gun in my hand. I often wondered why exactly am i holding the machine in my right hand pointed towards my right ear. It’s not like i’d be tattooing myself and that too my ear! After nearly two years—being the duffer that i am—it finally dawned on me that Amit was trying to show me as a tattoo-maker; somebody who’d be comfortable with a tattoo gun. And if you’ve noticed a tattoo artist, you’d see that as soon as they turn on the machine, they draw it closer to their ear to check the sound the swivelling coil makes. It’s a peculiar habit before they dip the needle into the ink. Being a cartoonist who pays incredibly close attention to his subjects, Amit could ingrain this element into his picture. Took me a loooonnnng time to get it despite having 33 tattoos on my skin.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Enough is never enough

Is there anything called enough when it comes to money? If so, how much is enough? We seldom come across characters like Sudha Murthy or Scott Neeson who are big on giving back and low on showing off. These gems comfort us when we read about the kind of moolah the so-called successful people make. And more importantly, the kind of money they stash away in tax havens and other slimy places. Apparently, it’s a necessity for them. You want to save as much as you can by hook or crook. The bigger question: how much does a person need to fulfill his greed under an umbrella called security? When the Panama Papers got leaked, it had mighty names on the list, from Amitabh Bachchan to Lionel Messi to Jackie Chan to Kofi Annan to several famous political figures. Like they say in Hindi, sab ke haath mailey hai. (Nobody’s clean as far as wealth is concerned.) When Messi’s name surfaced, i was a bit dejected given his super-clean image. Later, i realized that, even if he washes his hands off the tax fraud charges—which he did by naming his father who also acts as his agent and finance manager—there is no denial that money is synonymous with more. That’s the magic of lucre. You’ll never hear anyone—be it a peon who earns less than ₹10000 per month or a footballing legend who earns ₹41535000 per week—plead with folded hands, “Please, no more!

PS. With the recent Football Leaks, we might be able to understand why the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo (who is known for his philanthropic work) or Neymar or Coentrão or Sanchez are no different. After all, a footballer’s shelf life is relatively short. They get to earn a lot in a short period of time, yes, but if they miss the gravy boat, it’s their loss. Loopholes are meant to be filled.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Heartbroken? Maybe. Scared? Definitely.

There are pictures and then there are mysteriously amazing pictures. This one was clicked about an hour ago by my flat-mate, Pais. In case you're wondering who's that in a bright red winter-wear, it's Ranga. Zoom in to have a better look. It cuts a lonely figure. Like he's staring into the horizon having lost the purpose of life or something. We knew he spends a lot of time on the terrace—ours is a two-storey walkup and we stay on the second floor—but we didn't know he spends his time sitting on the ledge! That's the height of daredevilry; literally and figuratively. He can't get out of the building lest fellow street dogs attack him. As a result, he stays confined to his territory. It's been six months since he adopted us and almost everyday we learn something new about him. It's quite obvious that he hasn't achieved a lot of kindness from humans. Even when we pet him, there is an unhidable awkwardness from his end. Perhaps it's not easy to shed away years of abuse he must have endured like the way he is shedding away his fur this winter.

PS. We always wonder where he goes to relieve himself. Not sure but his absolute lack of vertigo must allow him to deface neighbouring terraces. Or sneak out at night. Shhhhhh...

Home sweet home

The boy and his mother were at a party. The night was getting heavier with every passing tray of drinks. An hour before midnight, she got up, kissed her friends goodbye and walked to her son's circle. "Let's go," was her commanding request. The chirpy group went silent and collectively stared at their hero to either leave or make a manly statement. Had he gone for the former option, they would have mocked him. So, the 16-year-old had to stand up, walk up to her, cup her face, look into her eyes dramatically and blurt, "Ma, you go. I'll reach home in a bit." She could sense the alcohol in his breath but then, social outings have a cost of their own. To avoid drama, she elegantly left the scene. After all, their house is less than a kilometer away. Two hours later, our hero is drunk as fuck. However, he somehow makes it home, rings the bell and can barely keep his chin up. The door opens and his mom is standing there looking at him worried. "MA, WHY ARE YOU WAITING FOR ME? GO HOME! I'LL REACH IN A BIT!" were his words before hugging the doormat.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Dumb charade

In the world of copywriting, you try to (you should if you aren't already) write something different. It doesn't have to be new. Different is more than enough. Which could be why you dig deeper into the consciousness of acceptance. Besides, you don't write for yourself. You do so for people you will never get to meet. Keeping that in mind, you are expected to "dumb it down" because your copy often comes out as too smart. People like smart but not always. Apparently. What this line of thinking does is it inadvertently encourages the gust of mediocrity. A standard standard of acceptance with little to no room for experiments. Acknowledging dumbness is one thing but catering to it repeatedly, quite another. Many a times, this approach leads to creating a world where we end up asking ourselves how the fuck did Trump become the most powerful man on the planet.

Hurt locked

When you hurt someone, you don't get to decide the extent of the pain caused. Plain and simple.

What you just read should have been the first thing that life taught us.

But sadly, it doesn't.

Turns out the first lesson that life teaches us is, "You are hungry, dear. Go feed yourself."

Thursday, December 1, 2016

That wall of validation

Kind words go a long way, right? Not really. They go only as long as you want them to. Seems to me we are raring for the sort of validation we’ll never receive, be it offline or online, from strangers. The assortment of words that was poetic as well as genuine continue to allude us. Now they’ve devolved into something else. Maybe that’s why words of appreciation from family and friends are either taken for granted or not given enough weightage. So we end up hunting in the darkest of corners: social media. A tiny piece of the Internet which unwittingly calls for more anti-social and much more media. It’s a skewed system already. But that’s also what makes the whole hunt worthwhile. If not, why would you be elated on scoring 500 RTs when you know that’s too low a figure to make ANY difference to anything? The real world is too big. Plain arithmetic notwithstanding, the desire to get appreciated for one’s talent—be it good haikus or bad jokes or excellent riffing—is fast becoming the hallmark of our generation. So much so it has turned into a rarity to come across folks who don’t get this online craze at all. You can either admire such creatures or exude utter disdain for their ignorance. The worst type are those who don’t even feel the urge to click a selfie. C’mon!

PS. Going back to validation, how much do you appreciate that Uber driver or Jugnoo autowallah who showed up on time and dropped you safe and sound(less)? Don’t you think he too would have a better day ahead if some words of appreciation fall on his eardrums? The funny bit being he is connected to you through an online creation too—an app, nonetheless—but he’s doing a great job at it.