The Great Indian Goof Fest

1b15226d19fa131ec93ecaa1f1315a7dSo past one week for me has been juggling between two weddings of really really close friends, and so the only thing on my mind right now is – no points for guessing – Rabdi! Who cares about the elections, or about the budget – all I can think about right now is the strategy to avoid the line and eat at these functions. (PS – Always start dessert first. Thank me later.)

So now with my PhD in Weddings, this is a guide to what I call the great Indian Goof fest (the biggest goof-up being that the shubh-est of the shubh mahurat coinciding with SulaFest.)

  • Bling: Every wedding has some aunties wearing so much gold, that we can actually save on the cost of flood-lights. (Jara aunty ko iss taraf maarna. Ouch.) Pro Tip: Wear sunshades even at a night function. You would rather look blind than go blind!
  • Rush: For some reason, we in India take ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’ way too seriously, and end up inviting the whole country. And then have the audacity of packing everyone in a hall meant for 100 people! ‘Yeh kahan ka insaaf hai, my lord?)
  • Queues: Queues and queues everywhere, that I almost start wondering if I am going to miss my flight. There is a queue right at the entrance, to meeting the groom and bride, and a longer one at food counters, and the longest one at the pani-puri wale bhaiya, because free ki pani puri ka maza hi kuch aur hai!
  • Tansen: Well, I do not mean people who sing well, but people who think they sing well and snatch the mike to grace the occasion at the drop of a hat! Yes, those, who out of nowhere, between fun rituals, start giving background music!
  • Kids: They are everywhere. They are the reason why the line at the rabdi stall is never ending. They are the reason why you always hear someone say – ‘mere pachees hazaar ki saadi pe sambar gira diya’. They are the reason why loud and noisy weddings get louder and noisier (and sometimes nosey-ier. Eww.)

And parents, please stop treating weddings as your own version of ‘India’s Got Talent’.

  • Food: We all know most people attend weddings so that Uncle can give Aunty her weekly off – so that aunty in return will not crib for next six days. But that does not mean, we put every frigging dish on the surface of the planet in our buffet menu! The craziness around the amount of food, the type pf food, the variety of food, the wastage of food, just to hear – Par Sharmaji ki shaadi toh bahut thaat se huikoi tod hi nahi!– is foolish, for a lack of a better (worse) word.

Well, probably all the points mentioned above are what make our weddings super crazy, super fun, and super chaotic. But, can we, by any means, make them a little shorter. Just tad-bit. ‘Kya? Kya? KYA?’ – Ok, no!

*Gets back to denting and painting. Pout.*

Pat(riot)ism

I work. I work and I earn. I earn enough and pay taxes. Lots of taxes. I employ people. I develop skills. I pay them. They progress. And pay taxes. Taxes that are for the development of my country. I pay for rent. I pay for equipment, I pay for services. I pay more taxes. I earn shitloads of money and make an equal load of positive changes. Yet, I am forced to stand up for the National Anthem, every time I watch a movie (also, taxed) to prove that I am a ‘patriot’.

If the National Anthem is not played during the movie, it will not make me less of a patriot, just as when it is being played, it doesn’t make more of it anyway! The point here is not about me having to delay taking my recliner seat up because I need to stand-up for the National Anthem (actually, that too), but it is more about me having to prove that I am a Patriot with these silly laws cropping up every now and then. The whole attitude around these laws undermines everything else that I may be doing for my country.

When did patriotism come down to obeying and/or agreeing with the government? If you adhere to their views, their vision and support their prophecy, you are a ‘true patriot’, otherwise a downright anti-national! Frankly, the most patriotic thing people are doing today is talking about their mothers and sisters, followed by a word which I’d rather not mention here, on twitter and feeling immensely ‘nationalist’ about it. Bravo!

It doesn’t matter if you are bringing laurels to your country, or fighting for your country, or working hard for your country – suddenly all that matters is whether are you standing in the ATM queues without cribbing or not! Soldiers should not complain about the food they are getting, students should not protest against the injustice they are facing, people should not complain about the hardships caused by new laws being passed – because you do all or any of these mentioned things: “Go to Pakistan!” comes the quick reply.

6a00d83477d44a69e20167666d0650970b-600wiJust as an after-thought, I would like to question the whole concept of patriotism here. While ‘patriotism’ is generally seen as a uniting emotion, I personally find it rather dividing! If patriotism is one side of a coin, xenophobia is the other. I don’t think we can talk about ‘World Peace’ at various conferences all over the world, while also promoting, encouraging and forcing ‘Patriotism’ at the same time

I think Leo Wiener, in his article titled ‘Patriotism or Peace?’ sums up my point better, and says: “Patriotism cannot be good. What produces war is the desire for an exclusive good for one’s own nation – that is called patriotism. And so to abolish war, it is necessary to abolish patriotism and to abolish patriotism, it is necessary first to become convinced that it is an evil”.

PS: it’s the ‘Republic Day’ week, and my patriotism-level may look as low as the number on the thermometer, but: East or West, India is the Best. There, I said it. I am not an anti-national.

Note Vote Hai Rabba

Amidst the smog-bound Delhi, and poll-bound America, Modi played a trump card that for sure has given a smog-like experience to all, even if not in Delhi – and don’t even ask me about the visibility status in Delhi. Forget visibility status, it has even fogged out the “status” in Delhi from Tu-jaanta-nahi-mera-baap-kaun-hai to Bhaisaab-ek-khoke-ka-chutta-milega. You can judge that from the very beloved and honest CM of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal’s tweet – “BJP will lynch everyone who speaks against their wrong doings.” – As a response to the fate of Rs.500 and Rs.1000 notes. The smog, for one, has definitely blurred Arvind Kejriwal’s vision. When the centre has taken a strong step in the direction of the only thing on their party’s mandate, Arvind Kejriwal is as if running to his mom and saying with welled up eyes – “But he cheaaaaated! That was my thing!!” I am not saying Arvind Kejriwal is dishonest, but every time he fights corruption, Mamata Banerjee’s nose grows an inch.

untitledWith a plethora of memes and messages on social media, the past couple of days have felt like a self-declared holiday! To me, it felt like a mass India’s Got Talent with the number of “hidden” jewels I didn’t even know existed around me. I mean kudos to all the people supporting the India-Against-Corruption movement against themselves! The great thing out of this whole fiasco, I mean of course other than the obvious ones, is that when padoswali Gupta Aunty tells you – “I know how much you had last night”, you can reply with a “So do I!” *wink*

On this note let’s observe one minute silence for all the aunties with huge kitty piggy banks in a constant state of poverty for their husbands. While we are at it, let’s also give a big shout-out to all teenagers, who are hooting for Modi. What do these innocent jackasses, living in their snapchat bubble, know about their fathers sweating over a bag full of money-turned-paper in the next room?  I won’t blame these children actually. I mean if an entire country could live in so much of a social media bubble that their president elect bewilders and shocks them all at the same time, then these tiny pouting creatures still haven’t grown brain-cells.

To my brain, the American election still feels like some kind of a social experiment – and it is just not gotten over! I mean I am still waiting for Cyrus Broacha to pop out from somewhere and say – Bakra!

Because this election has proved that no matter who is on top, the pervert parade is still larger in numbers, if not in IQ points. But I don’t blame the Americans. It’s like you are on a mission to lose weight – and you have to choose between not having fried food and not having sweets. I mean both are harmful, and have different ways of messing your goal up. The bottom line on choosing any one is – you are still heavy and now even a moron!

Well, anyway. I know that post the announcement by our PM, life is a struggle for quite a lot of us, but it is a short-term discomfort for a greater good in a long run. Just like not having that sweet AND that deep-fried potato!

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!’

Jai Mata Di

In India, we are very lucky because we have multiple Maa’s – Dharti maa, Bharat Maa, Ganga Maa, Our own Maa, Dai Maa, and for some even Radhe Maa.

And when I write Jai Mata Di, I am definitely not talking about the funny woman, over-decked as a Christmas Tree (or our very own version of Santa Clause?), who carries a Trishul in the flight! I mean I laughed so hard when I read this news; it made the colour of my blood as red as Radhe Maa could get! Alright, alright. I know it’s a forced metaphor, but come on, I had to use it! You know me.

On the other hand, the entire nation is disturbed by one regional leader’s reservation against saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’! And it couldn’t have been timed better (or worse) when the entire country is struggling to define nationalism, or rather anti-nationalism. Everyone is acting like a self-appointed inspector to scrutinize, review and sentence anyone and everyone as an anti-nationalist!

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Cartoon courtesy – @MANJULtoons

And our very own Shiv Sena is like that audio cassette that has stopped working and plays only one thing on loop – Go to Pakistan. “You eat beef?” – Go to Pakistan. “Muslims want special treatment?” – Go to Pakistan. “Amir Khan even opens his mouth” – Go to Pakistan. Well well guys, enjoy the free vacation! Shiv Sena is like those teachers from school, who are so inefficient that only thing they can tell the students who won’t listen to them is – Go to Principal’s office. Sigh. We know how lame this bunch is!

I think the true question here is- can the politicians approach us without any hocus pocus? Sometimes I feel that we get trapped in the words so much so that we forget what the real issue at hand is, and start fighting for something that is completely bizarre, and at times unnecessary. And it is even worse when our politicians capitalize on this trait of ours! I mean can’t you all educated, wise, and astute people of this nation see the mockery of it all?

Just because someone says ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ doesn’t mean he will always work in the interest of the nation. And vice versa. I can very well be a gangster and say jai Hind at every opportunity I can! There are ample nationalist and anti-nationalist who are a part of riots, moral policing, scams and et al. Slogans cannot be an ultimate sign of patriotism! Hence, not saying one, or teaching them in schools, both, according to me, hold no meaning – unless one can induce patriotic feelings in children.

And something that it definitely is not is religious. How is saying “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” Anti-Muslim, or Pro-Hindu? There was one post doing the rounds on social media, which beautifully displays how ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ is only about the country, and has nothing do with your religion- Bharat Ammi Ki Jai. Amin.

PS- Can Mulayam Singh Yadav please gift “Samajwadi Sugandh” to all anti-nationals, to spread their essence of “samajwad”.

 

Love, Life and all that Jugaad

It is a little less than a week for Republic day, and I am already feeling so patriotic – first of the three times in a year, third being any cricket match – even if Mumbai Indians is playing. Apart from the Railways and ‘English’, the British will be remembered for giving the gift of Democracy to India. This year India boasts of its 67th Republic Day. We can proudly say that after all these years everyone in the country is happy, except Dalits, Muslims, minority, transgender, Farhan Akhtar and sportsmen playing any other sport apart from Cricket. Good job, government!

Something that is to India as Circuit is to Munna Bhai is Jugaad.

I remember reading somewhere that many years ago, innovative Punjabis mounted a diesel irrigation pump on a steel frame with wheels, and created a vehicle they called jugaad. It was ultra-cheap but did not conform to vehicular regulations. Over time, jugaad came to mean grassroots innovation to overcome any constraint, with the given limited resources!

In the West, innovation is done by scientists jugaad-newusing expensive equipment. In India, it’s done by every housewife, farmer, transporter, trader and industrialist. It does not require high-spending R&D: it simply needs creativity and knowledge of basic science. A lot of people confuse Jugaad with bribery, or illegal, unethical things to get work done faster, but that definitely is not jugaad I speak about here!

The country’s chaotic democracy, according to journalist and author Elliott, creates an environment “where jugaad fixes are easy, and where the failures of the system in terms of poor governance and weakened institutions make the fatalism of chalta hai a welcome safe haven”. It also “blocks changes and acts as an excuse for what is not being achieved”.

Even though at many levels I think this statement is faulty, but having said that, I do believe that to run a country as large as India, with second largest population in the world, diverse cultures and geographic conditions under not-so-stable leadership and poor governance is, in a way, Jugaad. We have all done jugaad at our own level, and are moving ahead somehow. And that is the success rate that jugaad can accomplish! I would even like to add India’s successful Mars mission to this list!

In this day and age, where everyday a new start-up is booming, jugaad can come as a handy tool!

Final criticism could be that what India needs is systems as well. It needs structure, it needs regulation. If there isn’t a system in place, or if there’s a system that blocks any change then one needs jugaad to find a way around it- not in negative sense, but to actually overcome constraints! If we can innovate with our ingrained Jugaad-o nature, and in second step, learn to strategize well – I think there is no stopping us! ‘Make in India’ can easily be changed to ‘Innovate in India’.

PS- No, no! This article on jugaad was not my jugaad, as I got too close to the deadline without a topic in mind. I am quite systematic that way!

Prem Ratan Dhan Se Payo

Why didn’t anyone tell me that Canvas Laugh Factory bought the Bombay High Court? Sigh.

Once again, there was mockery of justice by Indian judiciary! Unfortunately, that is not surprising at all!

This 13-year long legal odyssey, with its share of twists and turns, has not been any less than a masala Bollywood movie. In the first frame, a crime is committed. And then the protagonist (national heart-throb) finds himself in the courtroom, with his honour at stake! Evidently, he was accused of a heinous crime that he didn’t do! The viewers sit through this entire nail-biting  episode, watching the actor suffer, but giving a tough fight to this nasty judicial system – even served a sentence for the added drama. After all the struggle, the hero fights against all odds, and leads this movie towards a happy ending! Only, in this case, there is no love story. Awww.

In the meanwhile, Abbas-Mustan are busy taking notes, this time determined not copy from another movie, but directly from Bhai’s life. May be they get a better star cast, considering Bhai would want to volunteer for it! 500-crore recovery plan! Wohoo!

But, life isn’t a Bollywood movie where “hero” wins towards the end. Sometimes villains take the cake too. On a day like December 10 when some believe justice has been delivered (for now) to one man, a superstar disdained by legal woes. Others believe justice has been denied because he has not gone to jail. All said and done, it remains about Salman Khan, and Noorullah is forgotten somewhere in this whole star-studded affair!

Watching the brouhaha on television channels and scanning tweets was both an entertainment and a depressing exercise. What was lost in this cacophony of screaming and counter-screaming, with TV anchors clearly playing to the gallery while thundering about the “injustice” done to the aam aadmi, were the legal points. SinceIMG-20151212-WA0000, the little birds tweeting aren’t heard or valued, shouldn’t a well-meaning legal eagle take this route to ensure some form of justice is delivered to the victims?

Over the years, the Salman Khan chronicle has shifted from Being Bad Boy to Being Human. His success and fan following has
multiplied by truckloads. There’s no logic to his success. Just like there is no logic to what his fans say-

“If courts sends people to jail to make them a better persons there is no better or best than Salman. If he did one bad thing then he did 100 other good things too that cannot be ignored. Everybody makes mistakes then why only he is getting haunted by his mistakes even after 13 years. I am feeling so much pain my heart.” Like really? That shit you are smoking is damn good, bro!

However taking inspiration from this successful attempt, Salman has plans of starting “Being Animal”, to get away from the Black Buck case. Oh wait, didn’t the forest authorities of Rajasthan already find a suicide note? My bad.

Well, in short, to quote a friend of mine -“To err is human, to forgive is Indian Judiciary!”

PS – Salman Khan is a very accomplished driver, he took our whole judicial system for a ride. I had to “re-tweet” this one here! #BHAIROXXX

And then they say we are intolerant!

a

Mughals ruled us. British ruled us.  Then, Congress ruled us. And then they say, we are intolerant.

We are a country that despises the killing of holy Cow over a meal of Chicken Tandoori. We are a country that idolizes Gurus who rape women and pardon an actor who kills the homeless. That pours a glass of milk on a rock at a Shiva Temple, and makes our wife sleep hungry. We are a country that encourages to celebrate water-less Holi and cracker-less Diwali, while spending a weekend having a tub-bath after a long non-polluting drive. And then they say, we are intolerant.

cWe are a country who writes about women empowerment, below the headline of a little girl raped. That votes for tall politicians who say boys will be boys. Where Chief Minister of the capital goes on a dharana, and capital from chief transactions go to Swiss. We are country that voted Lalu Prasad Yadav back to power, and then they say, we are intolerant!

India is country that has imported McDonalds’ and Subway from the west, while still litters and defecates in the open to attract pests.  We are a country who would rather learn Yoga from an American instructor. India is a country where people want customer to consume what they make in India, while they wear clothes that aren’t even sold in India. India is a country where a criminal runs an NGO called “Being Human”. And then they say, we are intolerant!

India is a country where tragic Drama on our television are so stupid and hilarious, and where the level of our comedy shows makes us want to cry. India is a country where heroes in the movie are hero-worshiped, while heroes on the battlefield are hardly noticed. India is a country where Bigg Boss comes back with a loser-packed season every year. And then they say, we are intolerant!

India is a country where supply of grass in Kumbh Mela is much more than rave parties. India is a country where a young boy with a glass of beer is immediately labelled a rapist, and where marital rape is not even considered a crime! India is a country where Mallika Sherawat talks about woman being suppressed, in an interview at a place she can’t even pronounce. India is a country that has made Honey Singh popular, and then they say, we are intolerant!

b

India is a country where Sheikh Lights a diya on Diwali, Nancy loves Sheer Kurma, and little Pooja hangs a sock in hope of getting gifts from Santa Clause. India is a country where people actually end up marrying someone they have never seen, only because they trust their parents. India is a country where women think tying a thread around a tree ensures a long-life for their husbands. And then they say, we are intolerant!

The problem is that sometimes India is too tolerant.

Culture of Politics or Politics of Culture?

Now that Gandhi Jayanti is over, we can all get back to bribing that traffic hawaldar, lying at the drop of a hat, and spitting on that newly painted wall! Not that yesterday we did not indulge (cheers to all those who managed to have a drink), but at least there was a national sentiment as such!

For all those who were high- of course because of Friday holiday- I will remind you that yesterday marked the 146th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, 111th birth anniversary of Lal bahadur Shastri, and the 1st anniversary of Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. It was basically a day of trending Gandhiji on twitter, leaving for Goa for the long weekend, and using Gandhian messages for political good!

I feel this is one topic on which a lot is written, a lot is filmed, a lot is said and quoted, and a little is acted upon! Actually, in retrospect, I will take my words back. I feel we are doing our best to act on all Gandhian principals! No, seriously! For example, Gandhi’s philosophy was based on principal of Swadeshi, and we firmly believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One World Family). All it takes is to know how and when to put two and two together!

Gandhian thinking is essentially about a sustainable way of life, an economic system based on trusteeship and a society in which everyone gains rather than the few become rich at the expense of the many. It is a complex, inter-related system of thought. We are so on the right path –which is made by our government. Hence, the delay!

These days Gandhiji is in our books, on our roads, on our walls, in our pocket and in the political campaign speeches! But not in our heart or behavior. We as a country suffer from selective learning. We have so much knowledge about every subject at our mercy, but we tend to twist and manipulate it in our stride – and use the knowledge only to save our face! Some people happened to read, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” and thought, bingo! That is exactly we want to do. They are all leading our country at the moment, and just for the record, we are blind!

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I firmly believe that Gandhian philosophy is relevant today, more than ever! This century has seen a tremendous rise in globalization, privatization, violence, inequity, poverty, et al. We direly need a Gandhi to save our face in this highly consumptive world! His ideals hold a moral and social mirror to our society! But sadly, while one of Gandhiji’s most famous quote is “Be the change you want to see”, we tend to boo the change we are seeing.

Although Gandhiji has been made an icon of “Clean India”- I think we are taking it too literally. Of course, cleanliness is very important, but all his teachings give more importance to an India cleaned of corruption, violence, hatred, inequality, injustice and the like.

I dream of a Gandhian Swachch Bharat!

The Problem of Plenty

Dog-opoly is a dog-specie version of the famous board game Monopoly, but it really is the monopoly of dogs on the Indian streets!

Our country has a large population of stray dogs- I mean obnoxiously large! Sometimes, one may not find people on streets, but dogs – always! While it may not be appropriate to generalize, but stray dogs have proved to be calamitous for humans, in many incidents and places. Apart from being a tad-bit noisy and unhygienic, they are quite dangerous. It is quite terrifying to walk on streets at night, with howling sounds in the background. They contribute to a number of road accidents, of which a few prove almost fatal to a person walking, in order to save the-dog-sprung-from-God-knows-where. Not eliminating the fact that it could prove fatal for them as well, and that this is a difficult life for them. (Please don’t call PETA).

Quite a few people, by now, probably detest me for my perspective on this particular issue, but in all reasonableness, it makes sense. I mean I understand that they also are a breathing, eating, pooping, moving, barking-but-unable-to-talk-and-express-their-plight (and so are chickens we eat?) kind of creatures, but in my view we need to re-think the extent to which we take things emotionally, accept that it is a grave issue, and take steps to find a permanent solution.

Any discussion on welfare of strays always gets the same reply, “We don’t have resources to cater to majority of people, and how can we cater to dogs?” I don’t completely agree with this notion. In an urban setting, one cannot diversify problems like that. Everything is correlated. If measures are taken to fix any one issue, it automatically affects the other.

One of the main and obvious reason is our hygiene habits. It is the unattended litter on the roads, which actually is a feast for these stray-dogs, and cater to their survival and existence. We as a culture are quite messy- always blaming the incapable and inactive government for improper infrastructure, and on the other hand, don’t even maintain sanitation regime on personal level! We really do not need to wait for a TV show, a bill-board sign or our Prime Minister to start movement to know the importance of cleanliness. It is only clearing of litter that will solve the problem – quicker than anything!

Apart from that, there are a lot of organisations that vaccinate the stray dogs – all thanks to a few good Samaritans. Let us at least help them help us in any way we can – volunteer, provide resources, financial aid, inform about unattended or bruised stray dogs, adopt and encourage others to adopt, etc. Actually even if one cannot adopt these stray dogs, getting them vaccinated will not only save their lives, but also prevent spreading of diseases. These solutions may not be quick in reducing the number of strays, but probably are first few steps in the planned scheme of reducing their numbers. And Jaipur has proved that it is possible.

Every dog has its day, but with our collective efforts these dogs will have a life.