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.

Aye to Zzzz

Mitron! Today is the first New Year’s Eve in the history of New Year’s Eve when we may start drinking at 8pm not to celebrate but to forget. Our beloved Modiji once again will adorn television sets of every household and ensure no one really wishes anyone a “Happy New Year” because there may most certainly not be anything happy about seemingly New Year. Pfft.

funny-new-year-resolutions-1In all its glory this definitely seems to be his moment. But if he wants it to last for another five years after he completes these, I wish to continue Bachi Kankariya’s style of listing A to Z (Read as Zee, because classy, you know) of resolutions, that I hope Modi follows, for the sake of you and me of course. Read on…

Acche Din: a reality now, pretty please!

Ban the ban wagons. We need freedom of speech and action in the true sense.

Corruption can be and should be removed without having people to stand in long queues!

Demonetization to Re-normal-day-isation. SOON.

E-ticket, e-adhaar, e-mail, e-India, e-jio, ey-little more internet speed please?

Freedom to eat, greet and tweet minus any “heat” to be made as intact as reinforced concrete. (Oh yes, #ArchitectSwag)

Governance over the government. And also over Gandhi’s Game of Thrones.

Homophobia to be massacred. X 377 times.

ISIS to become ISWas.

Jokes on snapchat, and news in parliament. And not the other way round.

Kyunki Ramdev Baba bhi kabhi Yogi the.

Liberals to be given a dictionary to know the meaning of “liberal”, so as to reduce the intolerance amongst liberals. Touché.

Modi better remain the Modi we voted for!

No odd-even for the Delhi CM – governing only on odd days, to even out the imbalance? Why?

One Rank One Pension. Period.

Poly-tricks to be curbed.

Queues or National Anthem are not a sign of patriotism.

Religion and region are no reasons for disproportionate governance.

Salman to stop killing black bucks, stop his ‘buck buck’, and stop using his buck to buy the law.

Terrorism needs to be terrorised!

Uddhav to work towards a new and improved Sane-a?

Valid education degree for politicians? Oops, sorry Modiji!

Warning: Making expensive statues of leaders, without really following their principals is hazardous to health. Yours, ours, and the nations.

X-Factor of the political campaign need not be X-treme amounts of money.

Yearly review of governing authority to be commissioned, as intensely as twiterratis dissect a statement by Kejriwal.

Zzzzz, wake me up when the bank opens. With money. In Rs.500 notes.

Well, maybe he will take my advice, or mostly not. But here’s wishing everyone a year 2017 times better than 2016.

2016

318a2855d6c708721181899244b82778Whoa, 2016 is ending in just two weeks, and it has given us 2016 reasons to be happy that it’s ending. In retrospect, it was a great year, except if you are black, Muslim, transgender, woman, middle class, lower class, animal or a person in the mannequin challenge. While for some the year ended in a jiffy, but for me, it was one long eventful year, with lots of happenings the world would have been better off without.

Obviously, I am talking about Brangelina break-up.

No, but seriously. BREXIT, followed by Donald Trump being elected as the president of the United States of America definitely top the charts, and will go down in history books sooner than we think. The following few years seem like a legit repenting to these two events.

And how will our very own Modiji lose this race, or any race! Demonitization or demon-ization or who-is-the-demon-realization has made the nation doubt the choice of their leader. Well, a step that looked far more promising as an idea has turned into a complete turmoil, and added to the experience that 2016 anyway was.

Terror attacks have been on an all-time rise. Libya, Turkey, Syria, Bangladesh, France, Pakistan, United States, Belgium, you name the country, and it has been in the news for terrorism. Pathankot to surgical strikes, the India-Pakistan relations back home also haven’t shown any progress. Well, the world that was said to end in 2012, 2016 seemed to have taken charge of it.

In the middle of all these “anti-national” news, our government took a very important step of instilling patriotism in the minds of the people – to play the national anthem before every movie screening. The only thing more patriotic than soldiers standing on the border, people standing in the movie theatre, and Aam Aadmi standing in a never-ending line outside the ATM, is that no-one is taking a stand on anything. *slow claps*

Talking about taking a stand, everyone at Bigg Boss is doing a great job. No, I don’t watch the show, but how is the 10th season going to be any different? 2016 marks 10 years of us allowing the show to run on TV – or the same number as the IQ of the Indian TV audience.

But who needs a Bigg Boss when our Lok Sabha TV is so much more entertaining. Fun fact: This winter session, the parliament was in session for only 19 hours of the allocated 21 days. #adjourned

It did prove a powerful year for the Indian women though. From PV Sindhu, Dipa Karmakar, Sakshi Malik in the Olympics to Shobha De for her opinion about the Olympics, from Sushma Swaraj being as the only one who is digitalized in India to Priyanka Chopra rocking at Hollywood, from all the bahus on TV to Simar having more power than everyone put together in Game of Thrones, we have arrived!

Too hot, too little water, too much rainfall, too many silly internet challenges, too much noise at 9, too less governance, this year was just too much to handle. But hope is the only proverbial light amid the darkness.

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.

putting-your-opinion-out-on-the-internet-is-frowned-upon-meme

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!

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?!

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.

FooDie

Once upon a time (oh, yeah that is how long back it seems), there used to be news, then there used to be breaking news, and then there used to be OMG-I-am-so-appalled kind of breaking news. But now in this day and age when just about anything is discussed at prime-time, and multi-tasking of an It-Baba by manufacturing not so swadeshi fashion garment in Swades makes it to the headline, it is not appalling that news no more is appalling. Amidst all the brouhaha created by media and/or social media about anything and everything happening around us, very rarely does some piece of news still manages to appall me!
Although I know statistics, in general, are as accurate as the Indian meteorological department is about the weather forecast, one of the statistic that caught my eye, and really pained me, was about how India wastes approximately 67 million tonnes of food every year – a number higher than the national food output of countries like Britain. This amount is enough to feed the entire population of Bihar for a full year. And trust me if we keep Bihar well-fed, we will probably be successful in reducing the collective aggression of this country by one-half!

2-cartoon-sumantabaruah-unep-wed-2013This statistic is gloomy- especially for a country that has more than half the population starving (even if we don’t count all the people on diet). Just to put things in perspective, the value of food lost amounts to Rs.92, 000 crore, nearly two-thirds of what the government spends under the National Food Security Programme to feed 600 million poor Indians with subsidised rations. That’s a lot of food!

There are lots of reasons for this situation.

A lot of this food is wasted even before it reaches the consumer. Because of no storage or cold storage facilities, redundant transportation mechanism, food sorting, etc. So basically half the produce doesn’t even reach the market, and the rest half is washed, coloured, dented and painted, before it reaches us!

This brings me to another major reason for food being wasted- how it looks! A lot of fruits and vegetables do not look “up-to the mark”, hence the vendors find it very difficult to sell them, and they eventually deteriorate and are thrown away! We are spoilt for colours in this time of fashion-supermarket, that we want our apples also to be that perfect shade of Red! Not, “Red” Red. But Red!

While our farmers do not have storage facilities, we do. And hence we stock up on all the food that we think we might for the next fortnight, if not less. But two days later, someone not so important remarks about how our weight has increased by OMG 500 grams!! While we don’t throw away the packaged food that we have – for stress eating of course- but end up throwing a lot of this stored food eventually.

And finally, something that all of us can practice every day three times a day is-Take what you eat. Eat what you take! Nothing is worse than affording, buying, cooking and then wasting food!