Peace Out, Bro.

Do you remember the time when as kids we would shut our ears, stick our tongue out and make weird sounds to signal that we have stopped listening to the other side, when in an argument? Well, blocking people on social media is exactly just that.

I remember the era when internet would take ages to connect with that peculiar voosh-voosh sound, and if and when it did, by the time it would even manage to open my email – which obviously had nothing urgent or important or mail – my time was up. Then with Orkut, it just sort of replaced our slam books and scrap books. With the overwhelming information that Google had to offer, it soon was sought out as more of an educational tool than a recreational one.

Internet had expanded our chance of having discussions, making informed opinions/decisions, but it also has given us the liberty of shutting the screen, switching off/or between tabs, and blocking anything or everything that challenges our views.

Internet was also a potential prospect of meeting with like-minded people. No, I am not talking about Tinder, d’uh! But, we become aware of other people who also are blocking the same things/views/people as us, and suddenly that gives a great power to our thought, ingrains it into us more than ever, and we block other views with renewed zest and enthusiasm. This is sort of leading to a “cult” culture over every opinion that we have.

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So today it is very difficult to just say anything you feel like about any issue. Because the moment you open your mouth, you are either a bhakt, or an AAPtard, or just downright stupid. Either you are a feminist or a chauvinist. You become a libtard, right-winger, anti-national, intolerant or Pakistani even before you completely keep your point.  If you are against Trump, you are pro-Hillary. If you are against Hillary, you are pro-Trump. You are racist, body-shammer, islamophobic, or ….and if you aren’t one of these my-way-or-the-highway kind of peeps, then you are just ay!

This is now not only the story of the internet, but also in the outside-social-media life. The recent elections in America or Brexit has proved that we all are living a (judgmental) bubble of our own. But we forget that a bubble doesn’t even need something as sharp as a needle to burst, you know! And well, it has.

This change has been quite drastic, and rather too rapid for my liking. Of course, “change” has various connotations today, and I am not talking about the new prevalent – Do you have a change for 1000? – Kind of change. But, change must be such that it does not eliminate people or their ideas. Because this majoritarian attitude will only reduce our way of life to an idiot mechanism. As Shiv Visvanathan puts it – The change we need is a change in the idea of change itself.

Well, I am going to begin with not thinking that Indians who celebrated Thanksgiving have less IQ than the stuffed turkey on the table. Peace.

Call It A Day

There are people who wish to call it a day even before the day breaks. And then there a few people who strive to call anything and everything about our existence a day. We are aware of the number of bizarre International Days that we all celebrate. Most commonly celebrated are the days for different relations. If India had it its way, we would have had to celebrate some relation every day and all of 365 days of the year would still fall short of accommodating all the duur-ke-hai-par-apne-bahut-kareeb-hai rishteys. I was just going through the UN’s list of such days, and I have realized that we have a day for everything that we would rather not celebrate in life. Like Cancer Awareness Day, World Tuberculosis Day, Refugee Day (yes, we have a day for people who do not have a country), Sparrow Day, etc. We probably need to figure out how and why Fathers’, Mothers’, Daughters’, Sons’ Day made it to the list. But erm..

So today is World Toilet Day, or as I like to call it To-Let (out) Day.

On this auspicious day, I would like to put end to one discussion once and for all – Wash It, Not Wipe It! Let’s face it guys, beneath every excited scream – “Yaay, I am going for a Euro Trip!” there is a – “Oh hell, toilet paper again!” Why west, why?

Let’s try and imagine what must have happened. There was an early human, fascinated and astonished at something stinky coming out from his body, while looking at a beautiful sunset view across the lake! And then thinking – Shit, this feels dirty! He looks at all the water and wonders, “I used it for cleaning the house, having a bath, washing, rinsing. Oh my God, that’s too much for something so fluid. How can I use it to wash my poop?” Amidst all this worrisome thinking, he sees a tree, and goes like – Idea! And he cuts the tree, slices it, makes paper, and rolls them, and pats his back while patting dry his…IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE!

Well, anyway. I am getting so carried away, as if I am going to Europe tomorrow! Meh. Let me come to the reason why we need this day. To put things in perspective, there is about one-third of the world’s population that doesn’t have to choose between water and paper, because they do not have a toilet!

Fun Fact: There are more number of mobile phones in the world than there are toilets.

Untitled.pngActually, people are building toilets these days. In my two years of experience in this field, let me take you through the easiest and quickest way to construct a toilet:

Step 1: Find an images of slums and villages, and play them on slides with sad music.

Step 2: Also attach photographs of toilets in disuse, toilets filled up with garbage, field sized areas of sewage and stagnant water, which accompany explanations of why we need to reinvent the toilet.

Step 3: Then add images of women in India walking into fields to relieve themselves with captions about their vulnerability and statistics of their likelihood of being assaulted.

Step 4: FIND pictures of happy people standing in front of their shiny, newly constructed toilets.

Step 5: Add a quote by Bill Gates or Gandhi for the effect.

Easy-peasy, bro!

PS: The world has a shit of a problem. Butt, don’t call it a day yet.

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!

Trump(et) Vs. (Clin)tons Of Email

branco-trump-and-hillaryI have no idea why the never-ending America’s election is so big even here in India. Or is it because I am watching too many late night shows from America. Hey hey hey! Hold your horses’ guys. The late night shows there are more about making jokes, and not a joke itself! So anyway everyone is talking about the big day this week when America elects the first female president, or the first person, as Deepak Chopra puts it, whose consciousness is stuck in his first Chakra. (I suggest- go find out where it is located).

The possibility of a Donald Trump presidency is now listed as one of the ten top global “risks” by The Economist, somewhere between a Chinese economic meltdown and an oil price shock, and right next to the rising threat of terrorism. How can you not judge an entire nation when you read something like this? Firstly, how does one manage to be a global “risk” when your name is Donald. I mean don’t ruin my childhood for me, you!

The problem with most Americans is that they don’t love any of the two choices. How do you choose between someone who is under Federal Investigation for using a private email server and someone who has proposed about banning a religion, said women should be punished for having abortions, called immigrants rapists, lost a billion dollars in one year, had a fake foundation, was accused of committing sexual assault, caused violence in his rallies, bragged about not paying income tax, and not to mention about the “locker room” talks. I mean how should one choose when evidently none seems worse? I agree with you America, it is rather difficult!

The guy who seemed to have been the only one blowing his own trumpet about a year and half back seems like a legit winner today! Who would have thought? Imagine Donald Trump as the president though! I can totally see him do all diplomatic communication via his Twitter account- @CEOUSA. And just like his companies, he may invest big. If it works, its big returns as well. But if it doesn’t, then it’s going to be a completely different story.

The more I think about both the campaigns – Trump in the US of A and Modi here in India, I can draw a lot of parallels between them. If Trump comes in power, for one thing, they’d have a lot in common — both would be conservative, both suspicious of Muslims, both elected to power promising to work a miracle cure on unemployment and the economy, both banking on their leader’s charisma and fondness for showmanship and rhetoric to sell the seductive idea of “making America great again” or ushering in “achche din”. He even went ahead and used those golden words – Abki Baar Trump Sarkaar. Whoa, did we just elect a Trump back home, and are laughing at them? DID I VOTE FOR THE INDIAN DONALD TRUMP?! *faints*

What Puts Happy In Diwali?

Diwali is here. I know this because “save the environment” talks are on an all-time high. Though not to mention everyone who says this owns at least three diesel fuming cars, and fourth is probably a Dhanteras gift. Touché.

Every time I breathe during Diwali, I know why Paranayam in this festive season is not the best idea! Smog also is the not the best idea if you want Laxmi to navigate till your house, you know! While I am at it, having an idea network definitely is the epitome of not-the-best-idea. In the meanwhile, people in Mumbai and likes consider this as fog, and enjoy it with pictures on Instagram – winters. <3. Touché.

happy-diwali-may-you-take-this-opportunity-to-unnecessarily-overuse-the-words-auspicious-prosperous-and-joyous-3b73cI think it’s just me, because everyone otherwise seems so happy! By everyone, I mean people starring in 27590 advertisements on every possible media platform, selling everything from a Beetle to a beetle. Though when Diwali falls on a month-end, it still is about one week away for it to become happy. Touché.

It’s not all bad though. Diwali is that once-a-year chance to catch up with neighbours and relatives, so that you can remind yourself why you only meet these people once a year. But I love some of these traditions, especially the fun ones wherein everyone gets together on festival to gamble! I mean why not? One of the drawbacks of meeting people is that they may ask you to tell which movie you’re watching, Shivaay or Aye Dil Hai Mushkil. While “Aye Dil Hai Mushkil” was really how KJo has been feeling for the past couple of weeks, I am not commenting on Shivaay, because – Haw!!! It’s a God’s name. If you are unable to decide your pick, then I suggest you flip a coin and gamble it away before it lands.

Well, if you are seriously thinking about avoiding watching ADHM because of Fawaad Khan, think twice! One, because he is so hot (blushes), and two, because you might as well support the “Say no to Chinese lanterns” campaign. While you are at it, don’t forget to not keep it only till the lanterns, and you will be surprised at the number of items that we use daily are actually from China. The real “agnipariksha” is always post Diwali festivities. Touché.

#Sandesh2soldiers is the flavour of the season. And it should be too. Never have so many, owed so much, to so few. But are we only paying lip service to them through #Sandesh2soldiers? Why is it that apart from battling Pakistani shelling and terrorists at the Line of Control, the army is also being forced to battle the bureaucracy in South Block in the “war for status”?

Well anyway, with all the “responsible” actions this Diwali, don’t forget to smile, enjoy and celebrate this festival! Its’ a festival of lights, crackers, dressing up and posting the false “this is INDIA from space” photo everywhere. Try not to spam other people’s WhatsApp with 1 km long messages. And girls, eat that chakli! After all, that’s what makes it a happy Diwali!

 

E For Explore

Vietnam is probably on every travel-addict’s Dream Destination wish list, and I’m no exception. Well, you could replace Vietnam with almost any place in the world, and the statement would still hold true for me, but I was in Vietnam this month, and so Vietnam it is!

It was that kind of a trip where the destination doesn’t matter, because of the people you travel with! Well, actually it does. It needs to be inexpensive, because even after four years of practicing architecture, we are all still broke. And Vietnam was a wonderful place, “international” enough and did not burn a hole in our pocket! (Umm?)

So, after immense planning, adjusting, discussing, pushing, scheduling and re-scheduling, we finally landed in Ho Chi Mihn City to realize that we could have very well gone to Pune. Oh my! The number of bikes this city has is obnoxious, even by Indian standards!

If you know even a little about the Vietnam War history, I recommend you take a tour of the Củ Chi tunnels on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City and experience the underground guerrilla network for yourself. Crawling through the hot and narrow tunnels will give you a momentary sense of what conditions must have been like during conflict. What an experience!

We left the city setting to explore central Vietnam. From beaches, to lakes and rivers, from the very romantic Hoi An to the Imperial City of Hue, from a day full of water-sports at Nha Trang to a quick excursion through Hindu temples at Myson, the Vietnam vibe is contagious, and everywhere you look, it feels festive, almost like a celebration is on its way. What’s not to love?

Generally, when people travel to a place with an unknown language, they tend to learn how to say “Thank You” (at least) locally. But when you are a vegetarian travelling anywhere outside India, you learn to say ‘No meat, No egg, No fish’ as well. In a country famous for its street food, local beer, coffee and “Pho”, Vietnam did not disappoint us vegetarians also. Though their local delicacy – Hot Pot – pretty much gave us an idea as to why Vietnamese people are so tiny!  It was even more evident when we went to their well-stocked night market, just to realize their largest size will fit only an Indian ant.

At first, when you enter this country, it pretty much feels like India. But only when you live and experience the place, you realize it is rather more developed, much more cleanly and with a better general civic sense. Post war, actual economic liberalization in Vietnam came in the mid-1990s and really got moving in the early 2000s. And India with its almost 70 years of independence still has a long way to go. I understand it is reasonably unfair to compare India to Vietnam- given the size, population and scale of everything, but we definitely have a benchmark to accomplish even before we look at the developed nations!

Well, when you are on a vacation with long-time friends, few of whom are planning to get married in the coming “wedding season”, there is a lot that happens, which cannot, should not and would not be told, and definitely not announced in the newspaper! Until next time Vietnam, cảm ơn!

War On Women

We live in a country where female feticide exists- and in a much larger way than we can even imagine. We live in a country where one half of the population lives in fear. We live in a country where “boys will be boys” is a justified excuse for rape. And then they say feminism is bullshit.

Feminism: (n) A radical belief that women are people.

In a jiffy, feminism is exactly just that. But now this word has various connotations, various reactions, various perspectives, and largely a very mocked about implication. If you believe women are as human as human beings can get, you are a feminist! If you say you aren’t a feminist, then the only explanation to that is that you don’t believe women are people – which includes Kim Kardashian. And there is something majorly wrong with that – not Kardashian, but the belief!

But clearly, feminism has a clear PR problem. There is a whole lot of confusion in the way this movement has been executed, and understood – and that according to me is responsible for its downfall. There are two kinds of feminists:

  • Anti-man: You don’t have to be anti-man to be a pro-woman!
  • Anti-woman: You don’t have to be an anti-traditional-woman to be a pro-feminist (only modern haan.)

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As women you are not supposed to do everything that men do – that just validates the fact that what they do is what people must do (men people) – and then the movement is against the people who are a part of that movement. Do you see how much confusion that creates – like, even in that sentence? So, stop! Stop doing everything that they do – just to prove a point. Do it if you like it. I mean why not, go ahead and make the whole world double meaning in your head. But because you want to, and not because they do and so I would too!

I think only women can make this entire world women-friendly, while they are also the most important section that is not letting this happen. I mean I know women who would say – “I am a feminist. I earn my own money. I am not a housewife”. You have got it all wrong, woman! Feminism is about respecting individual woman’s choices – that ranges from occupation to clothing. It’s not dictating it. That’s what the movement is against, remember?

It is we women as mothers and/or grandmothers who have enforced time restrictions on our daughters and not on our sons. It is we women as mothers-in-law who do not wish to seek happiness in the choices that our daughters-in-law makes, just because we didn’t have the liberty in our time (college raging mentality). It is we women as a friend, a confidante, an acquaintance or a stranger judging other women’s choice of fashion, choice of lifestyle, and choice of occupation.

People do not realize you can be a feminist and pro-life. You can be a feminist and a stay-at-home mom. You can be a feminist and choose to adorn a burkini. You can be a feminist and be calm and peace-loving.

A Guide To The Colours Of Navratri

Navratri was essentially known for amazingly elaborate Durga Puja in Bengal, the official avenue for guys to pick up girls by showing their best “moves” in Gujarat, and of course the country’s official ‘Eid ka Chaand’ – Falguni Pathak. But recently it has become more of a festival of hue.

(Oh, hue reminds me that I am writing this article from Hue in Vietnam, and it is so effing beautiful here! How is whacking dandiya sticks to remove the days’ frustration on your end coming along, y’all?) Muhaha.

Even from here I can imagine the country being so colour co-ordinated that it would make everyone doubt their eyesight! But have you ever wondered what the nine colours really signify? Let me help you there.

Day 1  – Grey

To mark the beginning of Navratri, Shailputri, an incarnation of Goddess Parvati is worshipped. Grey stands for purity. And considering all the pollution, we all know the colour of purity in India is Grey. Enough said.

Day 2 – Orange

The colour orange stands for Nature. I think this is from where ‘Orange is the new black’ came into being.

Day 3 – White

Dwitiya, the second day of Navratri, celebrates Brahmacharini – the virgin phase of Parvati and signifies her “purity”. If we go by all the sanitary napkin ads on television, then white definitely seems legit here.

Day 4 – Red

This day celebrates married incarnation of Parvati. This form generally rides a tigress, and represents bravery and courage. Of course! Marrying definitely fits the representation. And going by the reasoning for white, what other colour to signify impurity but red, eh?

Day 5 – Blue

On this day the goddess is worshipped as all the energy in the universe. With the percentage of people feeling blue being so considerable, the colour proves apt here.

Day 6 – Yellow

Look at the stars, look how they shine for you. Everything you do. They were all yellow! Cold play just suns it for us beautifully!

Day 7 – Green

On this day the warrior form of the goddess is worshipped. And according to me no other colour signifies ‘make peace, not war’ better than green. White is the universal colour of peace, but the idea of a war-free world is full of lush green on every inch of this planet! Oh so beautiful!

Day 8 – Peacock Green

Now I am sure some woman somewhere has designed this list. Only a woman cannot be satisfied with a blue and a green, and still demand for a particular shade of those colours! And what other colour to represent Kalaratri- the forecast form of the goddess. I mean we definitely can be fierce with our perfect shade, you know. *Plops her tangerine bag on olive green couch*

Day 9 – Purple

All I am thinking right now is how will it look if an entire city wears this colour. It really is not one of my favourites, and I am dreading tomorrow. Oh wait!

Well, personally I don’t care about these colours or what they signify, but if I have to see then every year, can we please change them to a few shades in fashion, and specify CMYK for more uniformity and effectiveness?!

What if…?

From all kinds of questions that can be asked, ‘what if’ questions are the most interesting. It does not need a practical base, a backbone of reality as-we-know-it, and is generally free from the social, political, administration-al, religious, national, anti-national, survival, and all different kinds of norms or bans that have become an integral part of our lingo, thinking, or rather, being – all thanks to touch-me-not attitude that we have all developed. Cough. Cough. Intolerance. Cough.

One such interesting question is – What if Gandhiji were alive today? (Yes, nerd level – GandhiTopian).

My first instinct is that he would take a pillow, shield himself with a comforter, and pray that this is just a bad dream! I am sure Gandhiji’s worst nightmare is our reality – harsh or not – today!

And then of course, he would be thrilled to know that we have put him to such good use! I mean with his picture on our currency notes, which are daily used for wonderful acts of “kind”ness, and violating one of his most important principles – Honesty. Corruption and politics have grown to become the two sides of the same coin- more inseparable than ‘Saamna’ and controversies.

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This reminds me of something that Kumaraswamy had said during the Anna Hazare’s India against corruption movement –

“Today, politics and corruption are synonymous. If someone in politics says he is not corrupt, he must be lying. If Mahatma Gandhi was alive today, he would have had only two options: either stay in politics by becoming corrupt or to get out of politics and remain clean. It would take a greater movement than the country’s Independence movement to stamp out corruption…”

I was baffled when I read this. It had wiped out all the left-over faith that a girl in young 20’s had with the system or this country! (Not that I am any older today, but yeah, the faith – umm – completely wiped out).

It’s just ironical that India plans the surgical attacks in the birthday week of the one person who preached non-violence till his death-bed! I am not saying whether it’s wrong, or right, but it definitely is incongruous. I mean we certainly have come a long way from Swachch Bharat to Swachch Pakistan!

Having said that, I believe we wouldn’t have been so religiously intolerant in the first place, had he been alive today, and all through these years! Considering his intent to dissolve the congress (oh, how I love the sound of this!), or his opposition to bifurcate the states based on languages, may be the scenario today would have been a tad-bit different!

But alas, we can only think, and day-dream – because who dreams of a corruption-free India at night. Come on!

To sum it up, had Gandhiji been alive today, this is the meme that would do the rounds –

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Can’t you all see? Oops!” – Mahatma Gandhi, 2016.

When Google Googles

Traditions can be really important. They bridge the gap between the past and new. But then again, it is also considered an explanation for acting without thinking. And traditionally speaking, nothing dies easier than traditions. Or rather, we have a tradition of dying traditions! Without realizing we do end up forming new traditions. We just like to call it we-won’t-listen-to-you-oldies. But guess what, this tradition of rebelling traditions is the longest tradition that has ever existed, and will remain until you go on the other side of the table! Take that!

Anyway, all this tradition crap was just to enable myself to start a tradition of my own! Oh yeah, I can do it, because, umm… it’s my space, you know! So every year google is going to come up with questions for doodle for google contest, and like last year, I am going to answer them here. But I have to give it to google. For someone who gets bombarded with silliest, whackiest, mindless questions like ‘can you raise your IQ by eating gifted children’, google does seem to have the most sensible questions. And you know what a more sensible thing to do is? – is to make children their search engine.

By the way, I did not make that question up. It is true! Another reason to ask children.

Anyway, so this year’s question for the contest is – If I could teach anyone anything, what would it be?123

  • Plan. Plan. Plan. Act.

If anyone could teach anything to India, this should be it. We have spent way too long on talking, planning, discussing, throwing things in the parliament to get anything done! If only people who “ruled” this land went to school, they would know – Actions speak louder than words/slogans/election speeches.

  • Relax.

Talking about India – Oh hello, Pakistan! Generally, we believe that Tu-Jaanta-Nahi-Mera-Baap-Kaun-Hai is a very Delhi thing. But from where I see it, the India-Pakistan tiff is pretty much the same thing. Nobody wants to act, but both want to leave the “kurukshetra” with a bloated ego.

Only Pakistan doesn’t know to not pose the question to your own father! D’uh!

  • Talaq. Talaq. Talaq.

This is not what a husband following Islam should tell his wife, but an entire community should to this system! Divorce the triple talaq, and stop gloating in your male ego, men! It’s definitely not about “religious sentiments” in this case. And trust me, Allah will definitely approve of your progressive attitude.

  • Breathe.

In the humdrum of life, very few remember to breathe. Be in this moment, enjoy it to the fullest. Take a deep breathe in, and you will know how pungent and foul the air around you is! Only then, may be, for the sake of your own lungs, you will take measures to purify it. It will cleanse your mind, body and soul. Promise.

  • Parallel Park.

As for me, I would love to teach the good people of India the difference between a parking space and a jigsaw puzzle. The rule remains intact even though you just need to grab a bite- or chai to be precise. Theek hai rickshaw-wale bhaiya?

PS- Read the tradition bit again.