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.

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!

Dear Ganpati Bappa,

It is always great to have you! We were all prepared to welcome you with immense love in our heart, and even more traffic on our streets. I think you must have had a bumpy ride till the pandals/home – with an undercurrent of very melodic honking sound, I am assuming you would understand our yearlong plight. What? You don’t find honking melodious. You just don’t have an ear for it, I say!

We welcome you by reciting many shlokas and a couple of aartis’ which essentially mean that Ganesha is the lord who provides joy, takes away sadness, and removes all obstacles in life. I understand that some of us may not be trained singers, and thus, the offbeat singing can be a tad-bit problematic, but that’s our way of testing the relevance of “obstacle remover” God! Ha, take that!

Well well Bappa, I am not sure if I am looking at removing larger-than-life issues like solving the Kashmir problem, letting women decide what they should or should not wear, or increasing the collective IQ of the Indian bureaucracy. I mean these problems seem too big to be solved, even for the greatest Vignaharta of all times. But if you could help us fix the smaller day to day obstacles, like taking the clutter on the streets and the people who clutter with you, there will definitely be less clutter in our life then!

ganpathi-and-fuel-1Since a few of your idols have already been immersed, you would know that out water bodies are not really umm, safe, and can suck the life out of the dead as well. I mean for people who hop, skip and jump over with life as if it were potholes, we deserve a better death. But alas, as you can see, there is no sign of the promised Moksha for us!

We anymore do not invoke you for auspicious beginnings, but for completion of what has been started years ago. Nor for deliverance from the cycle of birth and rebirth; only from the unending cycle of laying and re-laying of pipes and pavements. I understand that amidst the Niagara of noise and preposterous display of devotion, it may be a little difficult for you to hear my prayers, but I promise you, next year I will make use of the recently launched very “innovative” air pods, to help you multitask while listening to my never-ending rant.

Anyway, how has your stay for the past one week been? Now that we are half way through the festivities, I am already getting withdrawal symptoms!  There won’t be any more ‘Selfie with Bappa’ contests on twitter, or sale on extra-large products to mark the festival of a God with extra-large heart on any of these merchandise websites. And obviously I being an extra-large girl with an extra-large heart but extra-small budget, am sad, for one!

But today when I look at you looking at me, we both creators of each other, I sense there is one thing we both can definitely be grateful for – Modak!

Happy Holidays, Bappa!

Fest, Feast and all the Fuss

meme12I, for one, love the second half of the year. It is so full of festivals, celebration, and of course holidays!

A few days back we celebrated Rakhshabandan- such a beautiful festival with such a terrifying name, I used to think as a little girl. All this week, I have been busy in looking for feminists, wondering how they missed the chauvinism in this one! What do they mean my brothers taking care of their sisters? Do they think, we can’t take care of ourselves?! What the….oh, but gift! I think I will pass my feminism card this one time! After all, everyone needs some pampering some time or the other, you know! Touché.

No, but seriously, festivals are so much fun! There is such good food, get-togethers, dance, music, sweets, delicacies, celebration, holidays, parties, and the whole pomp. Oh, did I mention food? (I know now why my weight never shifts in the direction I wish it did!)

And before long, I realize, they are oh so noisy!

Last week we celebrated the birth of Lord Krishna. One minute silence to all the teenagers who thought that celebrating birthday at midnight is so today’s thing! Uh huh, you have no idea about the #swag that Krishna is all about- and that hashtag was important!

Cowboy, lover, fighter, philosopher, politician, practical humorist and great friend – which other God can match Krishna? Some bits of Krishna’s life are so relatable, but then again, he is the one responsible for Bhagvad Geeta – and how does one believe in a book that is a by-product of a story, in which there isn’t even one natural birth, to begin with!

Anyway, I love the other by-product of the same – Dahi Handi! Oh my God, so much fun! I mean who said people standing on people, amidst a large crowd, with loud music, and splashing water, just to break an earthern pot with not even enough “makhan” for all in it, is not fun! Of course it is, if you rule out traffic, noise, and safety and Supreme Court orders.

Yeah I mean, when the orders are not in our stride, who the hell is Supreme Court to stop us from celebrating the way we always do! It’s not like law is applicable to all – it is as per our convenience. With the way things are these days, one doesn’t know if it’s the lord’s devotion at play, or commotion create by politicians!

There is actual celebration, and then there is virtual celebration. And lo, with my phone beeping all day, it felt like it was my birthday, and suddenly I am dreading the many festivals aka “good” wishes slated ahead in the year! There were more photos of Lord Krishna on my WhatsApp than Mathura-Vrindavan put together!

Anyway, I think Janmastami is well-placed – a perfect warm-up for the upcoming Ganeshotsav, or as we like to call it – a systematic display of who gets a better DJ – singing songs with lyrics rebelling religions – till they irritate the hell out of us!

Phew! Brace Yourself!

Jeeto Rio

“Padhoge Likhoge Toh Banoge Nawaab,

Kheloge Kudoge Toh Banoge Kharaab”

It’s cute when a country, which teaches and preaches this and instills it into the young impressionable minds of their children, criticizes without batting an eyelid when we are not at par with other nations playing at the Olympics happening at Rio right now. And I have a problem with this attitude.

So the Olympic Games have been happening for the past two weeks, and everyone here in India are wondering why kho kho is not a part of it – after all tagging someone else to do the work is our forte! But how does it matter? I mean one could say its a widely seen event, after Euro Cup, Cricket World Cup, IPL, Sultan, Girls’ Hockey team in Chak De, and NPL. What? You have no idea what NPL is? It is world famous Nashik Premier League. And I am not even making this up!

Some of our players have put up a great show this year! The Olympics for us started with very talented Abhinav Bindra, Dipa Karmakar, Sania Mirza, Rohan Bopanna missing the medals by a whisker, but made our country extremely proud nevertheless. Amid all the hoo-ha, a certain Ms. Ashubh De, who I render wouldn’t even pick up a toothpick by herself, had a problem with players “wasting” all the money to go to Olympics only to click selfies. Ma’am, don’t worry, however much they try, they won’t take you on in your own game! *pout*

Sakshi Malik and PV Sindhu have made India so proud! It was a women’s year for India altogether! On a side note, contrary to what Virendra Sehwag tweeted (Sakshi Malik is an example of what can happen if you don’t kill a girl child) – Haryana, you do not “need a reason” to save a girl child. I can talk about Sakshi Malik only when I find my jaw I dropped. Fun Fact – PV Sindhu was born after Hum Aapke Hai Kaun was released! I feel so old. And useless. Well, nonetheless.

Even as the Union sports minister, Vijay Goel, and his unruly cohort bring disgrace upon the nation by bullying their way into prohibited spaces at Rio, our sports persons have brought us glory. There are many more that I haven’t named, but the fact that they all made it this far – despite the our beloved government’s best efforts to ensure otherwise – is no small feat. If only hypocrisy was one of the sports at the Olympics, we would have been effortless gold-diggers.

The reasons for this apathy are plenty, and everyone knows them. We need to improve our infrastructural facilities, we need better coaches, we need to stop making sports an extra-curricular activity – only to get “grace” marks, we need Rakhi Sawant to promote sports so that more people take interest, and blah. Alas, after they have had their share of fun without doing their share of work, all I hear one minister, say to the next is – Kho!

dipa-karmakar-achievements-indian-gymnast

Writing Changes Life; Life Changes Writing

Now, that is a powerful heading!

Exactly one year back, on this day, something changed! Something I had never foreseen happened in my life. It was an accident, and what a journey it has been post that! It was last year on this day I started writing this column.

phucket-listWell, someone who knows me from before knows that the bond between me and writing was as strong as that of Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut. I had never written anything post college – and “writing” in an Architecture College was as negligible as it could get! And then, before I knew it, I was sucked in the “bucket-list” phase, and somehow “starting a blog” made it to that list. Unlike most other things on it, I did manage to do this – either I was in I-need-to-get-out-of-my-comfort-zone phase or this was the easiest of the lot.

To cut a long story short, this blog led to this column and before long, I started producing 500 words/week. Today, in retrospect, I realise it has affected me in many ways – Not saying this because it sounds fancy, or it is like the thing-to-say – but it has.  I don’t know how much has it “changed” my life, but it sure does have an influence over it – just like my life has an influence on my writing. From being a complete socialist-activist in some weeks, to a naïve 20 year old experiencing quarter-life crisis, from being a dreamer of achieving unattainable goals to a wannabe humour columnist, my writing has seen it all – and so has my life.

There are a few things that I could really learn from the writing experiences, and apply them to my life, and voila! May be I get better at living as well.

  • Create a lot of garbage.

And I am not talking about the galore that we have on our streets. But the only way of writing better is writing more. Sometimes most of it is crap. But somewhere in the 1000 words of bunkum, you find gold, which goes on to become one of your finest pieces. Similarly, somewhere along trying and failing, falling and getting up, you learn to do life right. Or do you ever?

  • Re-create history

One event, and so many versions of it! Writing enables you to have the flexibility of changing your interpretation of any topic, situation, and occurrence. And such a beautiful thing to actually live by! I feel Human Beings have a special power of re-creating their past- just by changing their perspective. Such an easy way to make peace with our most daunting memories!

  • Simplify:

The more you simplify the way you write, the more everyone connects to it. Complexity breeds confusion – in you, your article, and the reader. And also in life. We love complicating it, but the simpler thing to do is to simplify. Principle for life – Keep it simple, silly!

Before this starts to seem like my self-proclaimed best-debutant award at one of those paid award shows, I should stop here.

PS- This column is an expression of my philosophical mood. #OhYeah

Random Marketing Opportunity

Roses are Red,

Violets are Blue,

I will never find a friend,

As amazing as you!

Woah! Those were the days. Oh, how I thought only Facebook’s memories feature could remind me of how lame, silly, and astonishingly ludicrous I was at 17– just like 17-year olds are supposed to be! Ouch. But, I was wrong. Friendships’ day does a better job of that!

Every Friendship day I am reminded of celebrating Friendship day as a teenager. Do you even know how humiliating it could be to share the same body with a person who at some point celebrated Friendship day, and sent all those cheesy messages (one night before, because Marwaari). To make it worse, I even meant them then! *cries like the rejected cocoa from Ghana*

And tomorrow, some of us are going to ensure that they feel like me when they grow up and find more mature things to do like finding Pikachu. By us, I mean people who watch Splitsvilla on TV but are friend-zoned in reality. The first Sunday of August – Friendzone Divas.

The concept of Friendship Day was first promoted in 1930 by Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark Cards. This was followed by International Fitness Day by makers of Diet Coke. The concept lived on thanks largely to the efforts of an organisation in Paraguay called – and this is true – the World Friendship Crusade, who introduced the concept of World Friendship Day in 1958. Their idea was to make this world into a Pharell William’s Happy video – for every living second. I am not making this up! It’s absolutely, one hyndred percent true.

And crusade? Really? I mean the word crusade stands for friendship in the same way Salman Khan stands for Being Human. So basically how UN works is that anyone can form a “crusade” and demand to celebrate anything on any day, and they agree. No wonder it is such a well-respected organisation in the world! Going by their history of catering to unreasonable and naïve demands, I guess Arvind Kejriwal should start a “dharna” there. May be something will come out of it, and someone will go out of our country.

And then I guess, they didn’t have to do anything, because Bollywood took over. It taught me to celebrate Friendship Day by losing at basketball, and then marrying her when she gets hot. Which was closely followed by social media taking over and a gazillion “Will you do Fraandship with me?” messages. The poem escalated quickly to a brand new mantra-

Roses are red

Facebook is blue

No mutual friends

Who the hell are you?

768b919fa22206ad0360afc9e99e9a8eFriendships work differently now. The older you get, the harder it becomes to make friends, mostly because everyone thinks everyone else is weird. The loneliness eventually leads people to take extreme steps, like arranged marriage. Consider yourself lucky if you have more than a handful of these around. Keep in touch and if you’re feeling extra nice – Happy Random Marketing Opportunity Day to you!

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!’

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.