Funny Side Up

Stand-up Comedy is a fairly new format of entertainment in India. Till now, I used to think everyone’s stint with stand-up comedy ended with their studies. The difference being that the comedy then is more tragic for the students, and now for the comedians.

All these comedians, who work day in and day out to make people laugh must learn something from a natural, my personal favourite – Arvind Kejriwal. No one is so consistent in making the distressed and troubled Aam Aadmi of this country laugh, by coming up with creative joke formats every other day!

For a man who received a great support from the people – educated middle class to be precise – and broke all political stereotypes to become the Chief Minister of the capital of the country, he could have shown a little more confidence, and self-assurance! But, he has been constantly wailing about how everyone, especially our “coward” and “psychopath” Prime Minister, is trying to get to him and his Aam Aadmi Party.

And this week’s video takes the cake.

It was just another attempt by Kejriwal to take potshots at the Modi government, in the typical Kejriwal style – by being both, the victim, and the hero! Victim because, just like Aam Aadmi, he is constantly on the receiving end of conspiracy created by the “centre”, and hero because probably he is the only one even capable, in whatever trivial ways, to take a stand against the tyrannical Modi government.caartoon02
In this video address, Kejriwal had accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being “so frustrated that he can get me killed”. Woah, now that escalated quickly! Sometimes I wonder- Is Kejriwal just another insecure politician, or is there some method to his madness in launching tirades against Modi almost on a weekly basis?

I happened to see Madaari, the movie that had all the ingredients by be amazing but was still average, this week. Though I could hardly sit through the long, drab righteous lecture that it was turning out to be, one dialogue struck me. In essence what it meant was, when a normal person a.k.a. Aam Aadmi loses his son, he blames his destiny, but when an important politician loses his son, Aam aadmi loses his sense of security. Well, by this logic, Mr. Kejriwal ain’t playing his cards right. When someone you depend on to realise your demands himself doesn’t seem to have any power…well!

Talking about stand-up comedy and Madaari, we live in a time when professions that weren’t primarily meant for entertainment have all become national jokes, and films that were for entertainment are in serious troubles for serious issues, so that we become serious about the issues. For instance the legal system. Acquittal of Salman Khan by the Rajasthan High Court is funnier than the funniest joke cracked by the very funny Kejriwal. But alas, the joke is on us, when lots of bucks in the pocket can devalue the death of one black buck.

PS – Will someone please save Mr. Kejriwal from the very dangerous ‘Arhar Modi! Arhar Modi!’

Monsoon (A)Musings

It always begins with the wait. The long, drab tedious summer months create the perfect setting for welcoming the change that rains get with it! With the signs being there and the time being right, the yearning almost proliferates, and lo! When the clouds bless us with wonderful monsoon showers, the entire creation dances with joy! In no time, there is a dash of sinfully yummy bhajiyas in the air, social media is flooded with chai pictures and lazy posts, and it’s almost like an undeclared holiday!

Everyone starts planning weekend getaways, hiking trips, and rain parties – and for some – even long baths (considering the water shortage heretofore). Meh. People wish to take time out for reading/writing, painting, meditating, playing the guitar, or basically anything they like but never find time to do (weird, right?). But in any case, the difference in the surrounding is uncanny, and all of it is an expression of respite, of joy and life becomes a celebration.

For one week.

2013-07-01-Dear-Korea-#091Just before one realizes that the road to the hike is a hike by itself – probably a more painful one. The streets, or rather gutters masquerading as them, are 80%potholes, 10% smaller potholes and 10% dug by the government probably before I was even born. Just about perfect for a great body massage every time you step out. It’s cute when children think potholes were nothing but dried lakes and start floating paper-boats on them.

To add to the aggravation, there is a new bunch of 13-year olds joining social media every-year, with their enthusiastic not-so-new posts. And alas, all of them are either my family, or friends, or friends of family, or family of friends, or friends of family friends- and likes- and make it to my list. One of the most popular (read: repeated) monsoon posts is-

“I love walking in the rain, coz no one knows I am crying.”

Aww. I almost cried – out of its out-datedness. A lot of people read this, get emotional, and use every dramatic bone in their body – and try and live it. 12-year olds do this for failing that test, 15-year olds do this for failing to get that girl (and 10 others), and 22-year olds do this for not finding enough pikachus’. Well, that’s life. But, I can talk for all girls. We never cry in the rain, and exactly for the same reason. If no one can see our tears, then what’s the point? *Dumbfound*

Another of the experiences I look forward to during monsoons is – no electricity! It instantly hits nostalgia. I mean isn’t it great to know and experience how our ancestors in the stone-age lived- you know, in the dark and all. But it’s great if it is for as much time as a simulator. A little more than that and the MSEB is taking it too far!

From romantic to frantic, from celebration to frustration, from a blessing to stress-ing, monsoon pushes every freaking button of us that there is to push, until a hidden Parsi aunty (yeah, there is one in all of us) from within us yells –

“WILL SOMEONE UP THERE PLEASE SHUT THE EFFING TAP? “

The Curious Case Of Bhutan

People who know me well know that I do not like to travel a lot. I am not the kind of person who would go on 4-monthly vacations, sprinkled with a few weekenders in between, of which most I call – Oh that was a hectic wedding getaway! No, that’s not me. But then last week I did find myself in a paradise – Bhutan!

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Oh boy! If there is any country on this planet with every inch of it being really gawk-worthy, it has to be Bhutan! Wherever you look, whatever you see is beautiful – untouched.

Can you imagine a world without any traffic lights? Can you imagine a world without any McDonalds? Can you imagine a world without honking on street – Oh may be you could, if you are either born in the west, or an engineer from India. But, Bhutan definitely has been successful in maintaining its culture and has kept its traditions and heritage intact, with minimum or no influence from the west.

Having said that I believe that it is a perfect amalgamation of the west and the east! No, seriously! They have put together chilly from the east, and cheese from the west and made it into their delicacy! Ema Datshi (literally Chilly Cheese) is basically chilly (yes, the green, hot, raw chilies) in cheese curry, and is had with rice! However absurd it sounds, it probably is one of the most interesting local cuisines I have had, after Apli Misal of course.

This country not only has a high Gross National Happiness index, but also has a high number of pigs that are high. That’s right! Though it’s illegal, they grow a lot of marijuana there. And from what I hear, they let the pigs have a lot of it. This comes from their belief – Happy Pigs Mean Happy Pork. Woah, which is taking you-are-what-you-eat a little too far. Though I am sure a few people are now thinking that they would rather be pigs in Bhutan, than in a corporate office.

I wouldn’t say that one of the reasons of me wanting to visit Bhutan was visa on arrival, while the rest of the world pays about 200-250 dollars per day to be there! No, I am not such a sadist.  But the wiser thing to do is to visit it before they give us similar treatment, because as an Indian – and a chindi Indian at that – I wouldn’t be able to afford it then! (I sense my dad raising an eyebrow at “I” and “afford” in the same sentence. I love you no but.)

Well, you must visit this country, the population of which is less than that of one Hiranandani Tower, if you are in love with nature at its purest. If you are a trekker, meditator, an explorer, a photographer, a reader, a thinker or basically anything- this country is an absolute must-do for you. If you are an introvert, this is a perfect getaway with not many disturbing creatures who don’t understand “your kind” around you. If you are lazy like me, it’s a stone’s throw away from India – provided hulk is throwing a comet in that direction. If you are none of the above, and stuck through this blog, book your tickets now!

PS- Bhutan ain’t paying me anything. This is heartfelt.

No Brain, No Brawn

Welcome. Welcome to the grave new world, the new graveyard world.
Beyond all territory, they belong! They come from nowhere, for their actions are from the land of the devil, stained with blood of the innocent.
Beyond all language, they communicate. They talk no language, but still shriek louder than any! The social fabric of the world is drowned in the sorrowful yell of loss, of mourning, of distress and suffering. And all of this deafens the- deafens them to the call of humanity, of kindness.
Beyond all mindset, they approach. It is blurred with visions of castles built of gold, on foundation of broken bones.
Beyond all roots, they instigate. For they get their power to survive not from heritages, and ancestries, but from heaps of cruelty and malice. Oh so vindictive that it’s difficult to trust that they exist!
Beyond all categories, they act. They dream of ruling the planet by assassinating every single source of life, based on their lame cowardice.
Beyond all caste, they seemly fit! They only belong to the caste of the devil- the one that believes that the vibrant life can be crumbled by their tiniest provocation.
Beyond all character, they appeal! Character is doing the right thing when nobody is looking. But their deed is a contrast to the even the weakest of the characters.
Beyond all government, they govern. In this political, dogmatic fabric, they seamlessly disappear, and thus dyeing the whole institution in the colour of their greed, their desires, they immorality!
Beyond all temples, mosques, monasteries and churches, they are found at the mortuary of the monster, serving an explicitly inconsequential purpose, with a blindfold over their minds, and thinking with the brain of a pea.
20150107-Charlie-hebdo-FINAL-for-web-1-e1420671132323The world is once again stunned and grieving over a brutal terrorist attack. This time it was in Turkey, where three suicide bombers killed at least 41 people and wounded more than 200 others at the international airport in Istanbul. The timing on Tuesday was especially cruel for a Muslim majority country, coming during the 10 holiest days of the holy month of Ramadan.
Terrorism and mass shootings are intimately connected to the global architecture of wealth extraction. Those who rig economic systems to hoard wealth and power create the conditions for desperation and the breakdown of society.
Hours after the attack, US presidential candidate Donald Trump responded by tweeting “We must do everything possible to keep this horrible terrorism outside the United States,” echoing his earlier calls to ban Muslims from the country. Trump is positively obsessed with the idea not only that America is weak, but also that they will be thought of as weak by others. And perhaps most importantly, that once others decide they are weak, they’ll laugh at us. Ha! Aren’t we already, Mr-nobody-hopes-you-become-the-president?
Those of us with the integrity of heart and soul who understand what is happening must now find the courage to voice that we have had enough. It is finished.
No more failing to connect the dots between exploitative economic policies and human suffering.
We can do better than this. We must do better.
Onward, fellow humans.