Friday, December 18, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
“Yet you cannot deny Hyderabad to Telangana because Telangana will be nothing without Hyderabad. It will be like offering mutton biryani to a hungry man and telling him that you can eat the rice but not the mutton," an analyst pointed out.”
P.S: Oh, and by the way kids, after Telanagana, here's one more state name for you to memorise for that Geography test: Gorkhaland
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Yup, a historic judgement indeed--right up there with the Calcutta High Court’s ingenuous order declaring that “Water is Not Dry”.
Actually, if you read the piece, it does explain things in a fairly coherent manner. The wife claims that her ex-husband had “forceful intercourse” with her, which the court did not believe and hence did not uphold her accusation of rape.
However, somewhere in the need for a Headline, common sense did get raped.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Which is why it’s ironic to see incidents such as the Jaswant Singh-Jinnah controversy shaking up the country every now and then—History’s revenge on India, if you will.
This time though, an American film studio suffered for our confusion of History. The Indian Government alarmed that evil, foreign people were out to show that Nehru loved a women (a foreign, evil women, no less) other than his dead wife put so many curbs on the filming of Indian Summer (no use of the word, “love” and no smooches either) that those poor chaps had to give up the idea of the film altogether.
What was really fun though, was the self-righteous, almost naive outrage over the Government’s decision. People going on about how our leaders were human too, criticism of the Nehru-Gandhi family and, of course, quite a few Indian men clueless as to why Nehru bagging a white chick was being censored in the first place.
Nehru was of course human. But India’s first Prime Minister wasn’t human—he wouldn’t be allowed to be anything of that sort, really. The thing is, every nation needs its heroes and villains to exist. It needs a narrative. And so does India.
Of course, narratives aren’t easy to come by when you’re dealing with something as grand as a nation, so nation-builders do the next best thing—they make them up. Countries a lot more homogenous than India have had their narratives, er... tweaked to get things together and so has India. And what’s the best way to make a national narrative? Mess with the History, of course--as Mani Shankar Aiyer put it on a TV show: “if you can’t have Politics in History then where are you going to have it--Biology?”.
Pick up a regular high school text book and what you’ll get is a highly standardised version of the events leading up to 1947. Of course, it’s an impossible task to write a historical account that everyone thinks is right—after all, we want see ourselves in History, and therefore, make our own histories so than we can fulfil this wish. But this text-book History would be written keeping in mind what the powers-that-be think would be “correct”; not that an ultra-left version of or an RSS version is any less valid, per se.
To oppose this is to oppose the sun rising in the East. All you can hope the change this would be to, well, make yourself the powers-that-be. Simple.
What, on the other hand, is remarkable is that, considering how important a coherent narrative of nationhood is to India given her mind-numbing diversity, how little reconstruction of the historical narrative has been done. In other words, the official narrative hardly occupies the space that it does in, say, a China or a Russia.
Conflicting narratives are often aired in India, and while they might not always enter the public sphere lacking the political muscle power needed for that, they are still ubiquitous. That, of course, does not mean that conflicting narratives are always tolerated, no. Jaswant’s Singh’s expulsion is proof enough of that, however, what must also be kept in mind is the general frowning upon that the BJP received for this act from the chattering classes.
This attitude might be a outcome of democracy or put more correctly, democracy might be an outcome of this attitude, however, as a rule of thumb, historical narratives in the Subcontinent aren’t as rigid as, say, our equally populous neighbours across the Himalayas. Pakistan itself has a varying rainbow of opinions about its origins, although, the official narrative, mixed up as it is with a combustible blend of religion is a bit more difficult to challenge. Thus, even the more liberal versions of History would prefer to leave, say, Jinnah’s religious convictions out of the picture rather than saying that, “look here, everything aside, Jinnah was just about as much of an observing Muslim as Michael Jackson was Black”.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Watching these children being taught is to be amazed, and horrified. In an English recitation class in lower primary, for example, you will hear 40 children chanting in unison, with accompanying actions, “The fox jumped and jumped and jumped. The grapes were too high. The fox said, ‘The grapes are sour’.” The intonation must be just right—but understanding what you are saying is not a requirement.
Indeed, the grapes are too high—India, a country which has consistently failed in providing even the basics to its people, would never be able to get enough of its people to speak the English language well enough—a fact that is at odds with the status that we accord to English. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we have to lie about the grapes being sour; nope. We just have to realise that the fruits that we have are good enough and we don’t need no grapes.
An earlier write-up on this topic: Talk English, Walk English
Whether we like it or not, God is here to stay, and it’s time we found a way to live with him in a balanced, compassionate manner.
It’s almost as if a harried mother is trying to make peace between two squabbling, preadolescent siblings.
Also, why God is just, and maybe sometimes too just: Devout criminal exposed by CCTV cameras.
Monday, October 19, 2009
For example, restaurants in Calcutta which serve Butter Chicken and Tandoori Chicken, take to calling themselves Indian restaurants, which is all right but I’d like to see one, just one, restaurant selling, say, Malabari Fish curry, call themselves likewise. Much could also be said about the proliferation of eateries named “Sher-e-Punjab” (that the owner would be a pot-bellied, balding Bong is an incongruence that most people have learned to paper over).
Thus, is it with great pleasure that I noted the name of this august establishment whilst on holiday in Mussoorie:
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Georgie Porgy Tandoori Chicken. While Georgie might be a likely candidate for sexual harassment lawsuits in the workplace when he grows up, but he did show the Punjabis, all right!
However, my joy at this coup was short-lived, because the very next day I saw this:
Friday, October 16, 2009
New Delhi: In an expansive gesture to Indians worldwide as much as to showcase his – and India’s -- multi-cultural affections, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday lit a ceremonial Diwali lamp to ''symbolise victory of light over darkness.''
''This coming Saturday, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists, here in India and around the world, will celebrate this holiday by lighting Diyas, or lamps, which symbolize the victory of light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance,'' Singh said on the occasion, adding, ''And while this is a time of rejoicing, it's also a time for reflection, when we remember those who are less fortunate and renew our commitment to reach out to those in need.''
The Government kept it light and simple. A box of Indian mithai (sweets) was placed on some 150 chairs but there was no food fest or song and dance.
Singh, having lit the diya (a word he handled with aplomb) and wished everyone a ''Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak,'' listened intently as the priest ended with ''Om Shanti Shanti.'' He returned the priest’s Namaste and then shook his hands before striding out.
Also, in an inconsequential development, Obama, the US President celebrated Diwali in the White house. However, this event was largely ignored by the Indian press, who are generally not starry-eyed about the West and find Diwali celebrations in their own country far more news worthy.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
The news was greeted with unbridled joy and a sense of vindication by many who believe that Obama is just one in a long line of prophets sent by Him to deliver peace, prosperity and good oratory to the world. However, there were quite a few doubting Thomases too who were a bit surprised that Obama could have risen so quickly and whether he deserved a Nobel at all.
The Nobel committee’s explanation for the award, though, was simple: “As the first non-Bush US President after George Bush, Obama was an obvious choice. Here’s a President who, in nine months, hasn’t started a war, hasn’t wrecked the global economy and hasn’t raped the English Language. What more could you want?”
George Bush reacted to the statement by reemphasising that “Human beings and fish can coexist peacefully”.
The Nobel, though, had an immediate effect as the US Government, in a move to celebrate the Prize, has ordered the cessation of drone attacks in Waziristan for a whole day.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Against severe odds, India has built a 202-km transmission line to bring electricity to Afghanistan’s power-starved capital, Kabul.
Now if only someone would bring electricity to India’s power-starved capital.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The decision came in response to a PIL against UP chief minister Mayawati’s alleged description of Gandhiji as a ‘natakbaaz’ (a hypocrite or gimmicky).
The petitioners — advocate Ravi Kant and Sukumar — had cited Gandhiji’s contributions to argue that he deserved respect from every citizen. A Bench comprising Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and Justice B S Chauhan patiently heard the petitioners, but declined to lay down a code enjoining upon citizens to show respect to Gandhiji.
“We totally agree with you on what you said on Gandhiji. But, we are not here to frame or issue guidelines to citizens for showing respect to Mahatma Gandhi. We cannot entertain such PILs,” the Bench said.
Firstly, criticism of the Mahatma based on his stand on caste is not new. Much has been said about how Gandhi did not attack the institution of caste directly, although, ironically Gandhi did face a fair amount of flak from orthodox sections of society even for the limited stand he did take.
Secondly, this sort off goes someway in proving the Apu Theory which states that, basically, we don’t know the difference between respect and servitude. Sure, we should be so grateful that the Mahatma got us freedom that we should have a law (Big Brother anyone) to enforce respect for him. And, we better not let ordinary Indians handle the national flag in any way they like. In fact, let’s penalise them with three years in jail if they do. Also, it really doesn’t matter whether you have farmers committing suicide in Vidharbha; spending Rs 200 Crore to revere Shivaji tho chaltha hai.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
"In this land of Gandhi, it appears that nobody follows Gandhi... Follow the Gandhian principle of ‘see no evil’. Why do you not simply switch off the TV?”"
If only this sort of common sense was a bit more common.
P.S: The Delhi High Court, it seems, has hit some sort of a purple patch.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
I mean, is there no sense of decency and good conduct left in those white chaps? How could they frisk a VVIP/VIP exempted from pre-embarkation security checks as recorded in the BCAS Circular No. 6/2008. What kind of a world do we live in where airline staff doesn’t read BCAS Circulars issued by the Sarkar. And it wasn’t an ordinary frisking, mind you. Oh no, not all. They went all out, they did--they even, and I hang my head in shame as I write this, asked him to open his shoes. Open his shoes! The nerve of those chaps.
The airlines “defence” for this vile deed made the decadence of Western culture quite clear. They nonchalantly stated that this sort of VVIP list is incompatible with US norms—even former US heads of state, for example, would be frisked. That is why we must protect ourselves from the depravity that the West brings. Imagine if this sort of culture took root among Indians. What would happen if we did not respect Very Very Important People and did not read government circulars? Who would our cars stop for on the road for hours on end? Who would our bridges, roads and public toilets be named after? On whose security would we spend millions while we get by with little or no law and order?
But we seem to be holding on to our culture quite well, as this incident shows, thank god. Kalam getting his footwear opened was discussed in Parliament, the Sarkar threatened to file an FIR against the airline and even issued a statement where it referred to our former president and VVIP-for-life as “Shri Abdul Kalam Azad”, respectfully fusing the missile-man’s name with the name of independent India's first education minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
In the end, though, the bastards did have to apologise for their impropriety. But they did make a song and dance of it—the apology came three months after the sinful deed of getting a VVIP to open his shoes was done. Till Thursday, Kalam had said that he had received no apology. “I've not yet received it,” were his golden words, words which will be framed at airports throughout the country as a warning to those who would dare to mistake a VVIP for a normal human being. Of course, that the airline would buckle was a fait accompli—they were never a match for the VVIPs of India, no one is. They’ve apologised to the former president for any "misunderstanding and/or inconvenience related to the security screening on April 21”.
Ha! We showed them.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
The Delhi High Court had passed the judgement on Thursday, appropriately invoking Nehru’s words while declaring that section 377 would not be applicable “in so far as it criminalises consensual sexual acts of adults in private”.
Says the VHP’s Giriraj Kishore: “I am thrilled to see our fellow heterosexual Muslim and Christian clergy brothers stand up for what I think is right. Western influences like homosexuality, Islam and Christianity have no place in our country.”
His views were echoed by the Jamaat-e-Islami-Hind who came out strongly against the judgement terming homosexuality as a haram act that only haramis would indulge in. “We strongly condemn the awarding of equal rights to homosexuals, women and other freaks of nature”, opined the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
Religious leaders are thinking of launching a mass protest programme as well as educate the public about the dangers that homosexuality poses to the country. “We will try and do our best to force Indians to put their privates where we want them”, said a religious leader who did not wish to be named.
Lay Indians, on the other hand, remained largely apathetic to the judgement. In fact, doubts still remain as to the full implications of the judgement and whether it will be applicable even outside Delhi. “Will lesbo porn now be legal?”, asked Ravi Kumar, 20.
In related news, seven people have died of irony after hearing that the Catholic Church in India is opposed to legalising homosexuality as it would “increase paedophilia”.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Kunwar', `Raja', `Rani', `Begum', `Srimant' will soon stand deleted from the AICC's listings and records some 40 years after Indira Gandhi did away with privy purses in what was then meant to signal the arrival of a post-colonial egalitarian age.
Surprisingly, no mention was made of one feudal title in the article: Gandhi.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Getting the Women's Reservation Bill passed in Parliament will kill two birds with one stone:
1) More women will enter the highest legislative body in the land.
I say, go for it.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
But before that I must introduce you to the concept of the Rooster Coop—an excellent paradigm from Arvind Adiga’s otherwise unremarkable book, The White Tiger.
“Go to Old Delhi ...and look at the way they keep chickens there in the market. Hundreds of pale hens and brightly coloured roosters, stuffed tightly into wire-mesh cages...They see the organs of their brothers lying around them. They know they're next. Yet they do not rebel. They do not try to get out of the coop. The very same thing is done with human beings in this country.”
And the English Language is, unfortunately, one of the components of that coop.
In India, English is, without a doubt, the pre-eminent language. As a rule of thumb, anybody who is somebody will try and express himself in English as opposed to his native language. Which is not remarkable considering most avenues to success in our country require knowledge of English. Which in India, a country that has a minuscule minority who speak the language, is odd to say the least. After all there’s only one thing worse than discrimination against a minority and that’s discrimination against the majority.
This fascination of ours with the language leads to some odd consequences, sometimes. You could for example, write your higher secondary examination in, say, Bengali. Not only that, you might be a bright young lad with an affinity towards the sciences and, by extension, engineering. But unless you know a certain language, you would never be ‘good enough’ to study in, say, the IITs.
Now there are a few arguments invariably put forward towards maintaining this status quo.
The first is the English-is-a-global-language one. Classical Rooster Coop, of course. How many Indians, as a percentage, would ever be in a position to interact with the world? So in any case this line of reasoning would, at best help a small minority. Secondly, I’d say there are quite a few countries that, without adopting English as a Holy Grail, have done remarkable well for themselves, globally. We could, maybe, present the Japanese as an example? Language is only a means of communication—the world respects ideas not the medium, and I can think of no better way for ideas to be nurtured than to educate a person in his mother tongue.
The second is the Hobson’s choice one—which single language in a diverse, multilingual country like India would work other than English? So in other words, a person must give up his claim to being educated in mother tongue and learn a foreign one (prohibitively expensive for most Indians) to keep the country going. Shouldn’t the Union of India actually help its citizens rather than burdening them with so high a cost of having to abandon their native languages if they would want to advance in life?
So what’s the alternative? Should Hindi be imposed instead of English? Hardly. In my opinion, no one single language should be imposed. India, for better or for worse, just isn’t a single language country. Maybe we could learn something from the EU. Some people would want the EU to become a federation in the near future. Then would one language be imposed through Europe? Would students of History in Germany be forced to study the history of WW2 in English? I hardly think so. So why impose that burden on India, whose people are many times poorer than those in the EU and, therefore, much less suited to take on the burden of learning a foreign tongue?
English’s charmed status, on the other hand, does incalculable harm by strengthening the Coop and making social mobility doubly difficult. In any “middle-class” job, knowledge of the language is de rigeur . So, now not only will a person from an economically disadvantaged background have to struggle to acquire the skills needed for the job, he will also have to spend considerable time and money to acquire a functioning knowledge of the English language. Most Indians, of course, can hardly do the former, much less attempt to accomplish the latter. And so we have an automatic contraction of the list of eligible candidates for the job, irrespective of the actual skills needed for the job. Only people whose parents were rich enough to get them tutored in English need apply.
And so the Coop remains intact and the chickens remain confined in their cages to faithfully await the butcher’s next sale.
Monday, May 25, 2009
I mean, yes, the city sucks, no doubt. It must be the dirtiest, most polluted city ever. Everybody who goes to Calcutta should see the marvel of Free School Street (just ahead of Kathleen) where Pigs and Humans co-exist peacefully on a wonderful garbage dump which would, one day, be used as a model for sustainable housing.
And, of course, the water logging. Other Indians hate the Brits, but the Calcuttans love them for building the first and last sewage system the city’s seen. The white man actually cared for us! But then again, I’m being a bit melodramatic as usual. The water logging’s not all bad. Most taxiwalas pray to Indra for it. Because, when it rains, the Ambassador is king and the cabbie will casually say, after you flag him down standing beside your firangi car which has conked of due to water in the engine: “Sir, today no meter, sir. But you give me 200 rupees for Theatre Road, sir. Arre yes, I know it costs 50 by meter, sir, but today paani jaam, no Sir?”.
Even when it’s not raining, though, the buses don’t give you too much joy either. They do, it must be admitted, look ugly and a more than a bit unsafe. And I swear I’ve been on quite a few buses whose floor boards have cracks big enough to see the street passing by below. But then you do appreciate them, at some level. I mean it’s not every day that you would have 300 people packed into a mini-bus meant for 50. It brings us Calcuttans closer—a tightly knit family some would say.
Of course, all this is small fry compared to Calcutta’s real problem—Bengalis. The city’s filled with them.
But even then, did Calcutta deserve this? I mean, the city’s not all bad, is it?
Where else would you get a Biryani with that lovely aloo included along with meat? The legend goes that when Wajid Ali Shah was exiled to the city by the Sewage-System Builders, the poor man had a tough time keeping up his old lifestyle. It’s not easy when you’re busy using Muta to marry girls for a few days and casting them off, is it? It’s hard on an exiled nawab’s finances. So the poor man cut back on his food by replacing some of the meat in his Biryanis with aloo. It’s true—some people would do anything for love.
And since were're on the subject of food, the kati kawab rolls which Nizam’s claimed it invented must be brought up. Succulent and tender pieces of roasted meat wrapped in a crispy, flaky yet not very oily paratha served to you by some chap who obviously has some sort of groin infection. I ask you, does a city that invented the kati roll, deserve this sort of treatment? Does it?
And what about Park Street? And Peter Cat, the chicken sizzlers and the prawn cocktails (Mrs. G., it was said, ordered her prawn cocktails from Sky Room. They used to go out on the evening Calcutta-Delhi flight. Sky Room’s shut down now, though. Why? Labour problems, of course. This is a write-up on Calcutta you fool!). And New Market during the Christmas holidays with marzipan from Nahoum’s. And those horrible tacky Santa Claus dolls, who, went the tale, cried because the city did not deserve what had been done to it.
Of course, all this is small fry compared to Calcutta’s real asset—Bengalis. The city’s filled with them.
So, I ask you, ladies, gentleman and Karan Johar, did Calcutta deserve this?
Kolkata Knight Riders:
Played: 14; lost: 10, won: 3, tie/NR: 1
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Yes, it’s time to jive to Jai Ho. The big story of the day, apart from what I had for lunch, is that the Congress has swept the country, Singh is King and Sonia is our soniya.
As usual, the press messed it up, predicting a hung house which never happened. The BJP, while it did not exactly get drubbed, ended up “strongly and decisively” on the losing side. The party, of course, remained quiet for much of the day other than Jaitly’s press conference, where he accepted the “people’s verdict”. It would be interesting to see where this party goes from here—back to virulent identity politics or making a new start as a respectable right-wing party. I suspect it would be the former in spite of Chandan Mitra’s opinion that projecting Modi during the campaign as a future PM was a mistake.
Of course, we all know who did get the drubbing of their lives—the Left, who, it’s obvious, did not get it right this time. A. B. Bardhan cut a sorry figure during his press-conference, even more so when he snapped at a journo who was asking him about the Nuclear Deal. Ironically, it is being said that one of the main reasons for the Congresses performance was, to some extent, the NREGA—a scheme that the Left could claim some credit for.
However, the real story lay not with the three main parties, it lay with three states—Bengal, Bihar and UP.
Bengal, after more than 30 years, did not vote for the Left. Which, to some extent, is just about as shocking as someone telling me that the KKR will win the IPL. While the verdict is no doubt something Bengal was badly in need of, two things need to be considered.
The first is Mamata herself—let’s make this clear, she’s not a person I would want in charge of a traffic intersection much less my home-state. She has already expressed a willingness for the Left Front government in the state to be dismissed by the Centre. Sigh!
Second, is the fact is that while the Left may have been defeated has its ideology been? Mamata, it must be remembered, only won after she took a stand that most would interpret as anti-industrialisation. Having said that, this reading of the verdict might not be entirely correct—the CPI (M), in usual fashion I might add, behaved rather autocratically when gathering the land for industry. It’s all very fine to go on about being pro-industry sitting in Calcutta but it’s quite another to actually suffer for it by having your land taken away from you forcefully. Maybe all the people did was to voice their anger at being taken for granted.
The result in Bihar, on the other hand, was unequivocally positive. Why anyone, other than the Yadav family, would not support Nitish sweeping in Bihar is beyond me. The Bihar verdict, it might be said, represents a vote for politics based on development rather than ossified identities of caste and religion.
Bihar’s neighbouring state of UP, to some extent, mirrors the former’s verdict. Incredibly, the Congress is the second largest party in the state. The verdict also does cut Mayawati down to size a bit, although till further details emerge about the voting patterns, it would be premature to comment on what this represents. Of course, the UP verdict does hugely boost Rahul’s image within the party and vindicates his stand of going it alone. And while Mr. Singh graciously said that he wanted Rahul to be a part of his cabinet, it’s not like Rahul would need his permission.
All in all, it’s been quite day and quite a verdict.
And while from Monday onwards we’ll all get back to cribbing about our state—how the roads just aren’t there; the hungry and the destitute littering our great cities and the monsters who are killing their own daughters—at least for today, I think, we can all feel just a bit proud of something that quite a few countries would give an arm and a leg to achieve—our democracy.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Sanjana, Surbhi aur unke kayi naye dost aayein hai chat room pe. Bus dial karein 55313@Rs9/min aur kare unse dher saary baatein.
I’m a Vodafone subscriber and every spam SMS they send me, like the one above, is prefixed with VD, for, I assume, Vodafone. So, for example, an SMS containing offers would be called ‘VD Offers’.
Anyways, I would certainly have called “Sanjana, Surbhi aur unke kayi naye dost” if it wasn’t for the message title: VD Dost.
P.S: For those not conversant with Hindi, the SMS literally translates to:
Sanjana, Surbhi and their new friends have come to the chat room. All you have to do is to dial 55313@Rs9/min and talk to them all you want.'Dost', of course, translates to 'friend'.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
But in cyber space nothing identifies a person as more of a chomu than commenting on random YouTube videos. Nothing. That was what I thought till today. However, with this comment on an audio clip of the song Masakali, cyber chomuness has undoubtedly reached a new apogee:
The man (Faraaz should be a man) noted down the exact seconds for which he did and did not like the song. He then calmy, went on to call the lyrics 'boring'.It is precisely at moments like these, that the theory of Intelligent Design does seem a bit improbable.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
So 'Sa' thinks that nani is Hindi for maternal grandmother but she also opines that papa and mummy are the Hindi translation for father and mother, respectively!
Weird, isn't it? Well actually, it's not. You might think that Sa's a bit soft in the head (and she might be for all you know) but this answer is, in an Indian urban context at least, spot on.
There is a particularly Indian mindset that we have, or maybe we're just misinformed, that language is something that's ossified in time and place. Which is absurd. The vocabulary of any language is an entity which, like the culture of a people, is in a constant state of flux. It changes; and one of the principle ways it does that is by borrowing from other languages.
For example, today the word 'jungle' is a pukka English one. Of course, the word has its roots firmly in India where it's still used. But that doesn't make 'jungle' any less of an English word. At some point in time, enough people calling themselves English speakers, started using the word 'jungle' as a synonym for 'forest' and voila! you have a new word. Why follow different standards for the reverse?
Anyone studying Hindi in school would, I'm sure, have noticed the rather vast difference between what's written and what we speak. It's like the recomended writers (Premchand is the only exception I can recall) are writing in this make believe language—one of the things that made me hate studying Hindi in school. Back in primary school (which we used to call junior school) a Hindi teacher of ours had expressly forbidden us from using the word paani for water. Paani, she said, was an Urdu word and we were studying Hindi (ironically, there's a fairly popular band by the name 'Jal' in a country that does claim Urdu as its National Langauge).
Now, without getting into the Hindi/Urdu thing, this is plain stupid. Most Hindi speakers would, almost exclusively, use the word paani for water. Just picture yourself saying, 'Ek glass jal dena'. Uh huh! Not happening. If just on the basis of origins (paani is of course, a Persian word) words were to to be kicked out of languages then English, for example, would lose more than 60% of its vocabulary (OED stats here).
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
"Who is Lallan Singh? He is Nitish Kumar's saala. Everyone knows this. I say this openly. This is why Nitish Kumar holds Lallan Singh's hand all the time whether they are in a meeting or a rally"
Which brings us to Hindi's most popular gaali—saala. Although I've always known what saala literally means (wife's brother and not, as it's often translated, brother-in-law) I never really did explicitly connect it to the expletive. That was until I read (the brilliant) Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh where he translates the word as 'I would like to fuck your sister'. It was then that the beauty of my mother tongue(s) dawned on me in their full glory. I mean, which other language would convert the name of a family relationship into a vile verbal abuse used casually in normal conversation (the book also mentions sasur as a gaali but I've never actually heard anyone use it as such).
Of course, most people hardly give a though to what saala actually means, using it as a sort of catch-all gaali. Incredibly, most would consider saala to be less offensive than, say, chutiya, which is absurd. I mean, god damn it we're all chutiyas—almost. How it is a term of ridicule is beyond me. What next? Two legged guy?
However, this precise meaning of saala makes some uses of the word rather absurd. For example, when women use it. What does it mean when a girl uses saala? Or the much used saali, for that matter? They're completely meaningless.
Of course, it is a bit unfair for the ladies. Most expletives, Indian or firangi, are extremely gender biased. Dissing female members of the family is the way to go. I mean, guys would call another guy a 'son of a bitch'—that's four syllables—but not call him a dog. Go figure.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Ad in the Delhi edition of the Times of India, 2nd April, 2009.
Without touching upon the utter hypocrisy, absurdity and futileness of having the concept of a ‘dry day’, can’t the Government even proof-read its Dry Day announcements?
If today is the 2nd (which it is), do tell me how the 3rd, the 7th and the 10th constitute the ‘Next 3 Days’?
P.S: By the way, this is how Urban Dictionary defines 'Dry Day'.
Monday, March 23, 2009
The Congress President was triumphant as she announced that, “India does not need European imports, thank you.”
IPL authorities, decried for being agents of imperialism, faced up to the defeat as best they could. Vijay Mallya, wearing Gandhi’s spectacles, criticised the Indian government for being short-sighted. “We had no choice but to Quit India,” he said.
Another IPL team owner, Shahrukh Khan, was shot while he was trying to broker peace. The country erupted in joy at the news that the asshole was no more and promptly went and watched Anurag Kashyap’s latest release, ‘Gulaal’. However, his last two words will forever live on in our memory as he was killed trying to make the world a better place for himself: “Karan Johar”.
Indians living abroad, however, have reacted positively to the news. Said London-based Ravi Kumar: “The IPL was born in India but migrated abroad as soon as it got the chance. This proves that the IPL is as Indian as they come.”
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Although I doubt it, Douglas Adams could very well have been writing of the terrorists who have been quite a nuisance for the world of late. Unable to accept a world that doesn't fit in with their view of what it should be like, they've calmly decided to annihilate. And of course, in what completes my analogy, these terrorists types are the prime suspects in the attack on the Lankan cricketers that took place in Lahore.
Incidentally and interestingly, most Indians reacted to this attack with a mixture of outrage and, also, a rather overwhelming feeling of schadenfreude. Newspapers pontificated about Pakistan's imminent demise, the Congress compared the country to Somalia and users on Rediff (always a reliable barometer of public mood) praised the BCCI for pulling India out of the tour.
It could always be argued, however, that all this is very much par for the course. In a Blue Star-esque twist, Pakistan's heartland is now under attack from the same forces which it supported to try and push its agenda in India as well as Afghanistan. A little bit of glee with Pakistan in such hot water is but natural. Boys, after all, will be boys.
However, most Indians don't realise that bad as Pakistan is to have as a neighbour, the take-over of the country by these Jihadi jokers spells even more bad news as far as India is concerned. At the end of the day, there can be only thing worse than having Pakistan as a neighbour—and that's having no state as a neighbour on our west.
Of course, in a heartwarming show of solidarity with the Indians, quite a few Pakistanis have also behaved quite daftly. Everyone from RAW to Mossad as well as the odd actual terrorist was blamed. As late as Friday, Pakistan's Interior Minter went on record saying that the "foreign hand" cannot be ruled.
Taken at face value, that's perfectly all right. I mean, let's face it, neither you nor I will ever know the whole truth behind this attack or any of the other stuff that keeps on happening which involve the powers that be. So let me take this opportunity to offer a bit of unsolicited advice to the Pakistanis. In this situation, they should do what every God-fearing, honest man would do when he doesn't know the truth—invent his own.
As it is a couple of months back everybody in Pakistan was going on about how terrorism is a problem that affects Pakistan more than any other country in the world. Terrorism might be just a problem for everyone else, went the argument, but its an existential threat for Pakistan. However, quite a few Pakistanis, it seems, weren't convinced. The happenings in the county's north where girl's schools were destroyed, indestructible radio stations set up and people killed for not hiking up their shalwars still left some people with a reasonable amount of doubt as to just what these bearded chaps were up to.
So as I see it, this this very unfortunate attack gives Pakistan an opportunity to once and for all paint these terrorists as the Calibans of out times—savage monsters who will stop at nothing to people the planet with little Calibans. And what better way to convince the people of Pakistan of their true intentions that by showing them how these brutes would even attack a team of friendly and harmless cricketers thereby bringing international cricket in Pakistan to a standstill.
You never know, this attack might just be what the doctor ordered for Pakistan. All Pakistan has to do now is to blame the right people.
Monday, February 23, 2009
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has sent a letter to 13 prominent Muslim organisations in India with a curious request — that they declare, in a fatwa, India to be a "friend" of Islam, or a Dar-ul-Aman, therefore making jihad against India and Indians invalid.
"We are expecting the said organisations to respond to this appeal in a positive manner. We firmly believe that till the time Islamic leaders do not condemn religion inspired violence, terrorism in this country will not come to an end," Singhal said. "If Islam is a religion of peace, as they propagate, then we expect them to issue a fatwa clearing these views," he added.
And I want to be declared Elisha Cuthbert’s boyfriend. Who do I write to for that?
In an obvious dig at Rahul Gandhi, the 38-year-old Congress general secretary who is being projected as a youth icon by the party, Modi said: "We are not small fish floating around in the comfort of aquariums, but we weather huge storms to win."
The Congress reacted sharply to Modi's "fish" remarks, with spokesperson Manish Tewari saying in New Delhi: "If Rahul is a fish in the aquarium, then Modi is a piranha who devours human beings."
Politics, in India, is fishy business.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Now, as you chaps would know, this is somewhat of a recurring phenomenon. Every few days Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs or barbers pop up out of nowhere claiming that their religious sensibilities have been hurt. And, more often than not, our government either capitulates or goons beat up everyone up in sight so that there’s a de facto ban on whatever these chaps were protesting against.
Now, there are a number of reasons why this should not happen.
Firstly, we have the London bus argument: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”. However, in all honesty, this is a futile argument not only in India but in almost all parts of the world including most of the western countries. Also, I am a bit sick of the Dawkin fanboys and their I’m-more-rational-than-99%-of-the-world expostulations.
Secondly, we have this: clock:time::religion:God.
A clock helps us to tell the time but a clock does not define time. So, if my clock is two hours slow or has stopped, it doesn’t mean that Time is two hours slow or has stopped. Time is impervious to the clock.
Similarly, at best religion can be way for us to understand God, but nothing that mortal men and women do on this Earth can ever affect God. A fair argument, if you ask me.
Therefore, it’s quite preposterous to think that an octogenarian (or is it nonagenarian?) painter can insult the very embodiment of Shakti or that a newspaper columnist can insult God’s chosen Prophet.
Incidentally, I’ve discussed this point on online forums (yes, I have too much time on my hands) and I’ve been met with one stock response: “Would you not feel hurt if somebody insulted your mother? It’s a similar case when our God is insulted.”
Now, the thing is that, while my mum is somewhat of a remarkable woman (she can teach History to a bunch of unruly girls and make the best chaanp ever) she is hardly a god—in fact she’s, unfortunately, quite mortal. She is neither omniscient nor omnipotent and, in what is cinching proof of her imperfectness, she likes to listen to ABBA.
Hence, it’s not a similar case at all and if you do dis her and I should and would feel a bit pissed.
Last and, well, least we have free speech. This has, unfortunately, taken such a beating in our country that I feel it futile to waste time writing about it.
Having enumerated (some of) the reasons as to why this stuff should not be done, it is instructive to try and understand why these things are done, nonetheless.
In one word, the reason is identity. Religion, in our part of the world, and, in fact, in most parts of the world, is an intrinsic part of our identity. It’s who you are. In effect, insulting symbols of your religion is taken, almost instinctively, as a personal insult.
So, when the chaps in Calcutta were ostensibly protesting against a columnist insulting the Prophet, what they were really protesting was a newspaper columnist insulting them.
In fact, a corollary of this would also explain the Rama Sena’s actions (as opposed to the more commonly held sexuality argument). The Ram Sena (and the other Senas, Sanghs and Parishads) primarily consists of people who would charitably be called lumpen. Here Hindu culture, or their definition of it, gives them a lovely little make-believe world to hide in. A world in which they are actually better than the pub-hoping sahebzaadas zipping around in their fancy cars. That these people are largely Hindus in the first place matters little, because by the new terms of engagement, the Ram Sena chaps are the “better” or “truer” Hindus which makes them leapfrog in social status over the harlots who frequent bars and what not.
So, what do we do to remedy the situation? Well, quite frankly, I don’t know. Yes, we could make people richer; the whole cut-at-the-root-of-the-discontentment rigmarole—admittedly our best bet. But, sometimes, even that doesn’t help—the eagerness of the residents of Punjab to murder their own daughters is proof enough.
However, if you do think of something, scribble it onto a pink chaddi and send it to Muthalik. In the meanwhile, I suggest we follow Mark Twain’s advice:
"When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained."
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
MEA computers hacked again
NEW DELHI: The ministry of external affairs on Sunday said that no classified information has been stolen, after over 600 of its computers were hacked.
According to Times Now, the machines were infected by spyware — a bug that gets into a computer taking control of the user's actions.
The infected computers include those in the ministry's sensitive Pakistan section.
Apparently, the hackers were foiled as the Pakistani data was kept on a Partitioned portion of the drive.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Witnesses say that the activists, in a fit of misogynistic rage, primarily vented their ire on the women, thrashing them mercilessly.
The leader of the group, Pramod Muthalik, confirmed that his men had indeed committed the deed. “We did it to protect Indian culture. Throughout our history we have celebrated homosexual love but look at India today. So we decided to give the heteros a taste of their own medicine and to remind India not to ape the west.”
India has several laws, enacted primarily by the British, making homosexuality a crime including the infamous Section 377. This act of violence against heterosexuals is seen by social scientists as a means of protests against the oppression faced by the LGBT community in India. It is even being spoken of in LGBT circles as India’s Stonewall.
Muthalik has vowed to wipe out this “curse of heterosexuality” from the country guaranteeing to remove contact between the two sexes which lead to such “unnatural and unIndian feelings”. He warned of severe consequence for any contact between the sexes, including mixed doubles Tennis matches. “A boy and a girl hitting balls in front of everybody is not good,” said Muthalik sternly.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Huge crowds gathered to watch the Messiah being baptised by John the Chief Justice. A Holy Book used by Abraham, who the Messiah is said to greatly revere, was used for the ceremonies.
People from around the world reacted with elation and joy to see the new messiah bring hope to a beaten land. The Messiah is expected to end all war and injustice in this world as well as teach Delhiwalas that honking at traffic lights is a sin in the eyes of God.
The Messiah, in his coronation speech, promised America that he “was the way”. He addressed the greatest crisis that the US now faces, the Recession, and criticised Wall Street for “leading us into temptation”. He promised to address the burgeoning trade deficit with China and urged the Chinese to “forgive us our debts” and also assured Pakistan that America would “forgive its debtors” if they reined in terror. In spite of the great anger against the earlier ruler of the Land, the ever merciful Messiah did utter nary a diatribe against him and, in fact, asked the American public to “forgive him for he knew not what he did”.
Verily, the miracle of the Messiah was confirmed in the Promised Land too, as people saw stars, made of White Phosphorous, in fact, rain down on them from the East.
Friday, January 16, 2009
So far so good.
But I ask of you, aren’t we missing out a vital part of our population that needs help from the State? Yes, dear reader, I’m talking about our children (by ‘our’, I mean children generally. I myself have no children...seriously). They need all the help they can get from the State, simply because they are, in one word, dumb.
Think about it. Do you know anyone dumber that, say, a five-year old? Other than a four-year old, that is. And I’ve seen it myself. My two-year old cousin can hardly recite four-line nursery rhymes and her parents have such low expectations from her that they go into raptures every time she crosses ‘P’ when reciting the alphabet.
And this isn’t just a problem with children related to me, mind you. It’s all pervading. At a neighbour’s kid’s birthday party, one child had a hard time grasping the concept of the game, 'Passing the Pillow'. The idiot would refuse to pass the pillow, while playing ‘Passing the Pillow’. Needless to say, Musical Chairs was completely beyond him.
People who oppose reservations for children do, of course, try and make up a million excuses in order to explain this remarkable lack of intelligence visible among non-adults
Some people blame the parents. However, more often than not the parents are helpless in the face of such massive obtuseness. One couple bought their one-year old bundle of joy to the theatre to watch ‘Body of Lies’. I’m sure they expected their kid to learn much from Ridley Scott’s indictment of American foreign policy in the Middle-East. But alas, it was not to be. The kid just cried throughout the whole movie, in spite of his parent’s grim determination to not take him out of the theatre.
Of course, people also say, “let things like growing-up work and the children will get smarter. Give it time, baba”.
To disprove this naïve assumption, all I have to do is to take Raj Thackeray as an example. He’s grown up, hasn’t he? But has he become any clever? Nope. In fact, I bet, Raj, as a kid, refused to pass the pillow at birthday parties. Or maybe he only passed it to the Marathi kids.
Now tell me, don’t these kids, disadvantaged as they are by nature, need our help? Shouldn’t we, as responsible citizens of this country fight for what’s right? Can we afford to deny our little ignoramuses reservations in our educational institutes and in our workplaces?
So do the right thing and support reservations for children in our institutions. Do it for a stronger India, if nothing else.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
In what must be a first for an Indian politician, or indeed anyone above the age of eighty, LK Advani has started a blog.
However, some old habits die hard—the BJP leaders’s blog still urges us to subscribe to an RSS feed.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Ground breaking research at the University of Auckland, New Zealand seems to suggest that humans might be cleverer than any other animal on the planet.
John Smith and his team (who have nothing better to do, apparently) presented humans with a series of tests. For means of a comparison, these same tasks were also carried out by langoors, till now thought to be the cleverest animal on the planet.
The first test consisted of the two species being asked to condole a nation in the aftermath of a great tragedy. The humans performed superbly at the task getting extra points for making references to another cleverer species, the dog. Researchers also noticed one human was seen to be extremely concerned with his appearance, taking great care to appear well-dressed to another human who kept on waving, as if to a crowd. What that means is still not very clear. Langoors, it seems, on the other hand did not even understand the scale of the tragedy because they said nothing and just hung their heads, as if in shame.
The other task, apparently a rather tricky one, involved the researchers presenting the subjects with a gun. The humans excelled here too, running off with the gun into a hotel and killing scores of people. The langoors, seemed disinterested with the guns. One of the primates even tried his best to make it into a sickle, inviting the scorn of the humans.
In a variant of the above test, humans performed remarkably when presented with a bomb, seeming to know exactly what to do with it and when to use it.
Further test were far more difficult testing advanced problem solving abilities of the two species. One test, involved trying to show that a company had cash reserves of crores of rupees when it had none. The humans again showed far greater ingenuity achieving the goal with consummate ease and even boasting about it using advanced technology like email. In fact, the same human also showed rare skill in word games using palindromes, reversing simple words like ‘truth’ in a matter of seconds. Predictably, the langoors failed miserably again, failing to even show a profit for the company.
“The concept of immorality is very highly developed in the human species allowing them to carry out tasks of far greater complexity than the langoors could manage,” said one of the scientists. Further research is expected to be carried to by the University along these lines.
Friday, January 9, 2009
The Satyam fiasco has pained millions of Indians…by forcing them to read horrible, horrible puns. Here are some of them:
Times of India:
The Economic Times:
Note: Satyam is a Sanskrit/Hindi word which means truth.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
In a fitting reply to Pakistan’s banning of the Jamat-ud-Dawah, Raj Thakeray has ordered a ban on all Pakistani books in Mumbai. Raj is the head of the bestest and most patriotic party in the whole world, the MNS.
The move is, in fact, seen as being a logical follow up to his earlier move to ban Indians from the Indian financial capital, Mumbai. Raj is learnt to have called for a ban as soon as he learnt that Pakistan has no Marathi people. Raj is also apparently miffed that Pakistani terrorists attacked Mumbai.“Only I can do that,” he is reported to have said
“This ban will prevent the spread of undemocratic ideas from the totalitarian state of Pakistan,” said an MNS spokesperson, explaining the reason for the ban. “Also, stopping the sale of the 30-odd Pakistani books per day in Mumbai is sure to cripple the sources of funds used by these evil terrorist.”Meanwhile, publishers of those books are contemplating a surreptitious name change for the books concerned to try and sneak past the ban. Mohammed Hanif’s (not to be confused with Hanif Mohammad) brilliant book, “A Case of Exploding Mangoes ” is to be now renamed “A Case of Exploding Oranges”.