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.

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*

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!

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.

Game Of Thrown

What a week!! – I still don’t know if I mean this shockingly, or surprisingly. But that, only time will tell, I guess.

For our local, and global politics, this week may have been a great economic and political roller-coaster ride, but for me it was quite a learning experience. Major three things that I learned this week are:

  • Academic credentials and knowledge have very less, or rather no place while selecting/electing people for important positions in our country. (Throw away your books, kids). This current party in power things that all that we need to know to run a country is there in our Vedas and Shastras. Which is true if you want the society to regress, as against the popular belief that we must progress.

Just for their pea-brain to comprehend what their actions will result to, all I want to say is- You have successfully managed to throw out Ram from Raghu clan. Go figure. (Ok, was that comment evident as being sarcastic, or should I judge you guys for judging me?)

  • Europe has its own issues. What? You mean it isn’t that perfect destination where Yash Chopra’s heroines survive snow in chiffon sarees? Please don’t take that away from us. Anyway, this Britain exiting may affect them, but for us nothing changes. Film-makers will still shoot at Ramoji film city and keep our idea of Europe intact! Perfect. Beautiful. Romantic. Expensive.

Brexit-EU-referendum-Cameron-cartoonYou know, patriotism seems to be the last resort to settle any kind of debate, and to win any kind of election. Whether it is our own Marathi Manus craze, the “Hindutva” political party rule in India, or Britain exiting European Union. A popular belief is- If it can happen and has happened, it will happen in November as well. With that America loses all its hope around Trexit, and the trend targets towards Trenter. God save America!

  • Shirish Kunder is getting a lot of appreciation for his short film on YouTube. For God’s sake, he is the mastermind behind epic films like Tees Maar Khan, and Joker. Well my faith in creative film-making, or my choice of films was restored when it was revealed that this short film was an out-and-out copy of a Nepalese movie. Classy, I say.

Meanwhile, India is just blown away that we could vote British out. A country that ruled over more than half the globe has tasted “independence” now! Irony just died a thousand deaths. What this holds for them, whether it is an opportunity of a lifetime, or are we going to be witness to systemic destruction of Europe- only time will tell. More pressing issue at hand is how awkward is it going to be at Euro Cup now?

I know a bunch of people who have no clue what this Brexit is about, all I want to say is – Don’t worry. This buzz is not for the spoilers of Game of Thrones- though this may seem like a game of throne. No-one’s dying. Or are they?

For the rest of us, let not Britain’s black Friday hamper our weekend plans- It’s the sale season!

A Very Stretched Piece On Yoga

Before we begin- take a deep breath in, and slowly breathe out!

This was just to get you in the zone.

This week the world is going to celebrate its second International Yoga Day. I am assuming you are reading this in Malasana (The Squat Pose) – on your yoga mat, and not on the pot. As we all know, yoga is an ancient practice that we love, from the moment we came to know that the west endorses it.

Yoga is a stretchable, bendable, flexible, malleable form of exercise, originated in India. Ask me. I am an expert on yoga. I survived the intensive training sessions for all of 4 days!!

Yoga teaches you to put your leg where your head is supposed to be, and vice versa. Unlike all other forms of exercises where leg is exactly where it’s supposed to be, and head is exactly where it is supposed to be – in a protein shake! It teaches us to learn to ask- Why does anything has to be the thing you expect it to be?

Let me explain. When a builder promises to deliver a residential building in 3 years – based on which you start paying EMI- why does it have to be three years? Why not seven? Why finish it at all?

Ahem, moving on!

Well, I sincerely feel that yoga isn’t that appealing because it is not endorsed well. Baba Ramdev, for instance, is cool only if you have been alive for more than 60 years now, or Shilpa Shetty is cool only for Raj Kundra. And from the looks of it- and I am saying this in the nicest possible way- that Yoga may seem a tad-bit boring! Just a little bit. Also the fact that if you are not into yoga, your exercise regime is probably jumping to the tunes of “DJ wale babu mera gaana chala do”.All of this put together doesn’t make yoga so palpable.

Until of course we stumble upon a video of a white girl performing “Sun Salutations” in her gym clothes. Oh, yoga just turned into the coolest thing ever!

But it comes naturally to us, here in India. And it definitely reflects on the rest of our day- in our business and otherwise. Bending the rules, stretching our limits, flexible timings- are our natural traits, just to name some.

A few of my favourite new-age asanas, which I religiously perform all day, are:Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 7.58.32 PM

Taptapasana (The Tapping Pose) – Where I use my fingers to melodiously play on the keyboard- for specific purposes like trolling, and attacking Bhai-haters. Because, #BhaiRoxx.

Shoutasana (The Shouting Pose) – Wherein, the bigger the mistake, the louder my voice – to put the blame on anyone who isn’t good at this particular pose. It’s a part of my couples Yoga class!

Shirksasana (The Ostrich Pose) – Wherein you lay in mud all day on one leg, with so much free time that you write useless articles like this.

Well, before you drift off into Shavasana (The Awesome-most Pose), take a deep breathe in and do yoga for non-political reasons, and not just because your government said so!