Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Life of the Vetti

I went on a trip to Rameswaram with the family and it involved wearing a veshti, getting teary eyed due to homam smoke, visiting temples aplenty and having water from 22 different wells dumped on my camera and I (while still wearing the aforementioned veshti). I am not a religious person, and I do not care much for temples. Also, I did not possess enough of a curve in the stomach area to hold up the veshti that I was given. Needless to say, I won’t be hurrying back to Rameswaram on a temple visiting spree. The natural beauty of the place was quite wonderful, though, and Dhanush Kodi was a sight to behold. However, the water at Dhanush Kodi was flowing at a good speed and it uruvified my veshti, but I guess, all’s well that ends well.

PC282075

The highlight of the trip was the chance to really hang out with my family. Ever since I started college, I meet my parents and sister for only 3ish weeks each year and that’s hardly enough time. Half the time goes in my parents berating me for wearing jeans that perform the extra task of sweeping the floor. In my defense, I assumed I would grow into them. My genes let me down.

When one is vetti, one gets hungry. My biggest problem with college is the horrible food. After months of eating out, I had lost the desire to eat. The situation was so bad that I momentarily even considered cooking as an option. Luckily, the winter holidays happened and I’m making up for the past year by gorging on paruppu saadam and rasam saadam for lunch and dinner and dosas and idlis for breakfast. Batchanam satisfies the brunch and linner (yes, I plan to popularize the linner concept) requirements, especially when aided by filter coffee.

filter coffee 
So yes, the last two weeks have been beautiful – I doubt the future will be kind enough to give me this much time to do nothing of use. In celebration of being vetti, my plan for New Years eve is to oor suthify with friends, and hopefully score some tickets for either 3 idiots or Avatar. The latter is going to be close to impossible thanks to a lot of people also being vetti at this time. In times of impending disappointment such as this, I recall the wise words of Appu Soppu, my most illustrious third standard classmate - “What to do, The sky is blue”. 

His brilliance lay in his succinct observations of the complex ways of the world.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

23 Days of Winter

I’ve been in Chennai since the 18th of December thanks to my winter break and one of my aims has been to do nothing  that could be considered productive. I feel I deserve the opportunity to laze away after a semester of Physics 303L. In order to quickly unlearn all the physics I’ve learned, I watched Vijay’s Vettaikaaran the other day. The only highlight, really, of the experience was when my friend offered me some of his chocolate brownie.

Moving on to current issues, a couple of hours ago, my dad saw me sitting around updating my iTunes library and must have realized that I was being a waste of space. So he asked me to come up with a list of things I intended to accomplish while on break from college. It seems very counter-intuitive, this whole doing stuff while on holiday, but I shall give it a go since I clearly have nothing better to do than to fill out artist names for my music collection.

So this winter break, I intend to:

1. Practice playing the guitar – I used college as an excuse to explain why the repertoire of songs I could play on the guitar was terribly limited. Now that my only physical activity involves moving food from the plate to the mouth, I might as well learn how to play a few more songs on the guitar. From what I hear, the guitar, if played  well, can be used to woo the opposite sex.  So, really, nothing to lose.

2. Plan my Euro-trip – I want to go on a backpacking trip across Europe in the summer and that involves a certain amount of planning. I wrote down the list of cities I want to visit and clearly 28 cities in 31 days might be a stretch. It’s hard to decide which cities to cut, but one city I want to visit for sure is Barcelona. Sure Vicky Cristina  Barcelona was only a movie, but I’m certain that I’m destined to run into Penelope Cruz there. I wouldn’t want to disappoint her by visiting Madrid, instead.

3. Immerse myself in the Madras Music Season – It would be a shame to miss out on the tons of awesome concerts happening this time of the year. There are so many brilliant musicians playing that I can’t decide who I want to see. Last year when I went for a Mandolin Srinivas concert, all the tickets were sold out. To my surprise, you could sit on the stage next to the musician by paying an insanely small amount (I think Rs. 20) and so I got to listen to Mandolin Srinivas and his brother Rajesh from the best seat in the house. It is however essential to note that everyone in the crowd can also see you and so picking your nose is a big no-no.

4. Finish reading at least one book – My parents and my sister finish the books that they read, and they read quite a bit. This has led to quite a collection at home and I’ve started reading 4 different books. History, however, dictates I won’t finish any of them. I made a promising start and was halfway through Jhumpa Lahiri’s ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ only to be tempted by Craig Ferguson’s ‘American on Purpose’. Plus there is Dan Brown’s formulaic ‘The Lost Symbol’ that I started reading a couple of days ago over lunch and an anthology of PGW’s Psmith stories that kept me entertained while Lufthansa was trying their best to make sure I had as little leg room as possible.

I’ve got a few hours before Neo Cricket’s pointless game day analysis begins, and I think I’ll try to finish Lahiri’s book by then. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What?

I’m studying right now for my English final tomorrow morning and one of my readings is from Chuang Tzu written by Chuang Chou. In it, there is a quote that goes like this:

There is a beginning. There is not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is a not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is being. There is non being.”

And my room-mates are back, done with their finals and done for the semester.

Life can be cruel.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Mafia

“I heard his shirt moving. He’s the mafia, he was pointing at the person he wanted to kill”.

“Why would I move? I didn’t move”.

“Man, I could sense your shirt moving, man. Mafia.”

“Dude, how can you sense someone’s shirt moving? I’m not the mafia.”

“Any other nominations for Mafia… no, okay, so who votes to remove Niyantha? Alright, majority. Niyantha is out, and he was the mafia”.

“Ok fine, I did move. But it was only because I didn’t want to kill SD and he wanted to. So I moved my hands around to tell him to kill someone else.”

“Wait, tell who?”

“Him.”
----

The laughter that ensued was over the top, IMO.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Thanksgiving has never been the most joyous of occasions for me. Last year I sat at home, in Austin, reading up on network protocols and differential equations in order to tackle the multitude of exams that were to take place the following week. This year I’m sitting at home, in Austin, reading up on optics and probability to tackle the multitude of exams that will be taking place in the following week. A sad pattern, indeed. However, in a departure from last year’s celebration, this time a cheese pizza from 7/11 served as the main course. A pleasant change compared to the frozen tortillas and cheese that my friend and I made use of to appease our hunger this time last year.

The break hasn’t been all that bad though. I was invited over by a friend for dinner that easily made up for the 7/11 cuisine I had indulged in for lunch, I watched Alaipayuthey again only to wonder (again) if this would work in real life, and Texas beat A&M in its march towards the inevitable national championship. The roads are empty which definitely makes driving a lot more fun and the absence of college students means that I can walk through West Campus without the fear of being hit by beer bottles thrown from the roof-tops.

But clearly, the best thing about this break is the fact that the crazy dog that keeps barking at me has left town with its owner for Thanksgiving. Being able to walk out of the apartment without having to fear for my limbs, now that’s something to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

National Treasure

Originally published on Nazar.

I envy Sachin Tendulkar's team-mates; even more so, his fellow batsmen. If there is one thing I desire more than anything else, it is to be on the opposite end of the pitch when Sachin is batting. To see the front foot drives from up close, the measured flicks, the drilled sweeps, and the upper cuts over the slip cordon that would be considered audacious if played by anyone else. To listen to his take on the sport, for he cannot be wrong. To understand how he makes it look all so simple. Oh, the simplicity, isn't that the beauty of his game?

I remember the first cricket match I ever saw. It was the 1996 Cricket World Cup, and as fate would have it, the first cricketer I ever saw was Sachin Tendulkar. India was playing Kenya and this diminutive man, all of 22 years, scored 127 effortless runs. I fell in love with the game that day. Another vivid memory is watching him live at the stadium in Chennai as India took on Pakistan in 1997. Saeed Anwar, Pakistan's prolific opener, tried his best to quieten the crowd by scoring 194, but all that mattered to me and the numerous other Sachin fans that day was that our man took his wicket. We asked a lot from him, and he rarely let us down. And in the cases when he did, we were in unanimous agreement that it was the umpire's fault. How could the blind fool think that Sachin would knick a ball? Blasphemy.

I don't think it's possible to write an apt tribute to Sachin Tendulkar, for words surely can't be enough. He's been the darling of the Indian masses for years now, and that's saying a lot considering how fickle we cricket fans are. I used to learn in school, while growing up in Chennai, about unity in diversity - the need to bring the people of a diverse nation like India together. The solution was simple, really. Sachin Tendulkar only had to hit a straight drive for four and you would give a bear hug to the person next to you - screw his religion, caste, whatever. The cherubic genius let his bat do all the talking and in that, he taught us the most important lesson - shut up and let your actions speak for you.

He may be 36 now (yes, I refuse to accept that fact too) but he's still going strong. I hardly heard a word of what my English professor was saying about Pushkin a week ago, as I furiously refreshed Cricinfo every two seconds to see if Tendulkar could pull off another miracle. His 175 was in a losing effort, but the game was made richer just by his presence.

For twenty years now, he's worn the Indian colors with the greatest pride. For twenty years now, he's taken it up on himself to lead from the front. And even after twenty years of bearing the burden of his nation's hopes, he plays with the same childlike enthusiasm he displayed as a 16 year old prodigy.

That, to me, is his greatest achievement.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Knock For The Ages


A nudge here,a nudge there
Would have gotten us nowhere
351 we needed to chase
And only 300 to face

He walked out with the marauder from Najafgarh
And played second fiddle
Singles and doubles would do just fine
While Sehwag was clearing the line

The crowd chanted his name
They wanted 17k, screw the game
A flick off the hips for run #7
God had taken a break from heaven

The wickets soon started to fall
A big target left to overhaul
He picked up the pace
To put the scowl back on Ponting's face

Nathan Hauritz came in and tossed a few
And that was his cue
To dance down the track
And give the ball a royal thwack

Up went the bat and the helmet
Ton #45, against him who would bet?
The master was turning back the clock
Not yet over was this knock

He swept the ball fine
No fielder could shout 'Mine!'
Victory was in sight
The game was ours, right?

In came McKay and bowled a slower one
Hauritz caught it, the genius was outdone
One by one, everyone fell
The clock had been turned back, you could tell

We fell 3 runs short
And the Aussies we couldn't thwart
It turned out to be the matter of one wicket
Of the guy who's the reason we love our Cricket.

Image Courtesy: Cricinfo

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In and Out

Originally published on Nazar.

Rahul Dravid was dropped from India’s One Day International (ODI) cricket team in 2007. He must have always felt that he was good enough to don the Indian blues again, and that’s how champion players think, but even he would not have realistically thought that the selectors would recall him. India won the World T20 Championship in 2008 and the initial successes of Indian cricket’s newer players, such as Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan and Rohit Sharma, suggested that the door was effectively shut on the old-timers like Dravid. Or so we, and probably Dravid too, thought.

Indian cricket’s perennial fallibility against short pitched bowling came to the fore in the 2009 edition of the World T20 Championship, and in the tour to the West Indies following that. Rohit Sharma flopped, Raina looked awkward against a rising ball and the Indian middle order seemed to depend too much on their captain, MS Dhoni, to bail them out. The selectors, headed by Kris Srikkhant, had to address this and quite surprisingly, the person they turned to was Dravid. It was surprising because it went completely against the selectors’ policy of building an Indian team for the future. There was no doubting Dravid’s form - he had stamped his class, amidst the power-hitting players, in the IPL this year. But were the selectors looking at a bigger picture, or was this just a stop gap measure to strengthen a team short on confidence and bereft of an injured Virender Sehwag?

It’s clear now that it was the latter. Rahul Dravid has been dropped from the squad facing Australia later this month, in spite of performing well on his return to the team. He proved to be a calming influence in the batting line-up and did what was expected of him. Now, he finds himself left behind, for no fault of his. Virat Kohli has taken his place. So does this mean that the young brigade of Indian cricketers are now ready to take on world cricket’s best bowlers? What’s changed in the past month? The fact that the selectors aren’t even allowed to explain their reasoning to the public hardly helps. Their thought process comes across as muddled.

Three months ago, Rahul Dravid knew his place in the Indian cricket set-up. His days in the ODI cricket team were behind him and he was focusing on his Test career. Deservedly called back to strengthen the 50 over outfit, he’s now been tossed aside in order to give Kohli a chance. Yes, it is necessary to make tough decisions in sport and building a team for the future involves letting go of the greats who once held the team together. But the selectors have to understand that they are dealing with people here, not just names on a piece of paper. Sportsmen are passionate people and the very best do not give an inch to the opposition. They practice extremely hard to better their game and Dravid is a model of discipline. To toy with a man like that by reviving a dead ODI career and killing it almost immediately for reasons that have little to do with merit is plain wrong - and hurtful.

Rahul Dravid’s not a man of many words. He inspires with his calm and poise, and prefers to let his bat do the talking. He’s not controversial like a Ganguly or worshiped like a Tendulkar. And, unfortunately, that’s why this indignity meted out to Dravid will be forgotten soon.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

India, This Past Fortnight (VI)

Originally published on Nazar on July 5th, 2009.

Mayawati, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, recently unveiled 15 statues in the capital city of Lucknow. The kicker, though, is that two of the statues were of Mayawati. Mayawati provided much-needed rationale for this move, though. She claimed that statues of eminent personalities provide inspiration to societies1.

On behalf of all other narcissists in the world, we have a winner!

As expected, opposition parties had issues with Mayawati using the state’s money to immortalize herself in stone. According to The Hindu, Akhilesh Yadav, a member of the Samajwadi party, said that he would mourn for the statues of Mayawati since according to Hindu tradition, only statues of dead persons are installed2.

Playing the Hindu tradition card is like playing the Joker card in Rummy - it’s whatever you want it to be.

Senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh wrote a letter to his party that found its way into the media’s hands. BJP’s general secretary, Vinay Katiyar, questioned Singh about the leakage of his letter to the media. The offended Singh responded that he was not answerable to anybody3.

I agree. Accountability goes against an Indian politician’s moral code.

In 1996, Raj Thackeray, who was then part of the Shiv Sena, had organized a Michael Jackson concert in India. This move received plenty of criticism from political opponents. However, Thackeray did not feel that organizing the concert would be “a political liability”. He explains, “Hitler, for all his faults, did resurrect Germany. Similarly, I look at him (Michael Jackson) as a great dancer, singer and composer who had a social message in his songs“4.. Thackeray then played down the Holocaust, saying that it helped shape world history.

You believed that last line, didn’t you?

A producer in Bollywood aims to use the alleged rape incident involving actor Shiney Ahuja to publicize his forthcoming movie. The movie is about actors struggling to handle their success in the film industry, and is titled ‘Chamak - The Shyning’5.

No, that is not a typo.

In a landmark ruling, the Delhi High Court has legalized gay sex. There are a few Indians, however, who are not overjoyed to hear about this new ruling. Dr. P.V Cherian, from Chennai, said, “I think homosexuality is a sickness affecting men and women“6.

Brilliant diagnosis there, Doctor.

Rakhi Sawant, the ‘actress’ famous for being loud and annoying, is part of a new reality show where she will find herself a husband from a pool of 16 candidates. When asked about what she expects from a potential husband, she said, “He shouldn’t look at using me as a ladder for his career“7.

Right, I’m sure it’s your personality that’s attracted these men to the show.

She is, however, confident that she will be able to find the man for her through this show. “Yes. I am sure I will get the right man. I am a self-made individual. I have taken all my decisions myself till now. I have been successful because of my choices in life. Rest, I have left to God”8.

When questioned, God said “Hey, leave me out of this”.

To read more ‘India, This Past Fortnight’, click here.

Footnotes:

1 -http://www.hindu.com/2009/06/27/stories/2009062760151600.htm

2 - http://www.hindu.com/2009/06/26/stories/2009062660931200.htm

3 - http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/002200906200330.htm

4 - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Bollywood/I-was-Jackos-fan-Raj-Thackeray/articleshow/4709158.cms

5 - http://www.samaylive.com/news/soon-a-film-on-ahuja-episode/636867.html

6 - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8130737.stm

7 - http://www.screenindia.com/news/the-bride-is-ready/483226/

8 - http://www.samaylive.com/news/i-am-sure-i-will-find-the-right-man/635497.html

Photo Courtesy

Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP MJ

I was 3 years old when I saw the 'Black or White' music video. It was my first favourite song.

I was 4 years old when I saw his amazing SuperBowl performance. I remember sitting in front of the TV, watching wide eyed as he catapulted on to the stage amidst fireworks.

I was 5 years old when I made my mom buy me an uncomfortable pair of black shoes so that I could imitate his moves.

I was 6 years old when I begged my mom to take me to watch Free Willy. 'Will you be there' was a big reason.

I'm 20 years old, and I'm still a fan.

RIP, Michael Jackson.

Monday, June 15, 2009

In my sixth semester, I

1) Went for a Jerry Seinfeld stand-up that took place at my college. I bought my ticket late which meant that I had to sit five rows behind my friends in the top most gallery of the auditorium. But it was Seinfeld on stage, and even though I could only see his bald spot from where I was sitting, it was Seinfeld on stage!


2) Drove down the Pacific Coast Highway. Best drive, yet.


3) Scored my first ever 6 in any kind of professional Cricket game. The ball was short, I swiveled and pulled the ball over deep square leg. It's true - you know it's a 6 when you hit it.


4) Went on my first photo walk. One of those rare Friday afternoons when the weather was just perfect and there was no programming to do.


5) Walked 22 blocks at 2 in the morning. That night also involved watching a friend do 'The Stanky Leg' in front of The Texas Capitol. Good fun.


6) Started writing a fortnightly humour column for Nazar called 'India, This Past Fortnight'. Pramod Muthalik and men of his ilk made my job very easy.


7) Sang a song in Spanish in front of my Spanish class. It was set to the tune of 'You Found Me' by The Fray and it was dedicated to my profe, Carlos.


8) Played Carrom after ages and realized soon enough that smack talk works only if you've still got enough game to pocket a few. Blaming the poor quality of the Johnson's Baby Powder, however, is still a good plan B.


9) Finally threw out the futon that I had been using as my bed for the past two years. I found an un-used cell phone, plenty of Crocin and leaves underneath my bed. A good day, overall.


10) Got my very own helium balloon for the first time. I had seen other kids play with helium balloons when I was young, but I finally got my own at the age of 20. It made up for the loss on the Cricket field that day.


11) Spent too much money at Starbucks. Their latte works wonders and the coffee cake is just brilliant. I wonder if my favourite 'Tall Mocha Frappucino - double blended' will one day have the same ring to it as a 'Martini - shaken, not stirred'.


12) Made a Turing award winner wait in line behind me as I washed my hands. There's a sudden thrill when you look up at the mirror and see a Turing award winner standing behind you.


13) Finally had to get glasses. I realized my eye sight was no longer God-like when I was the only person in class who thought that the professor wrote funny.


14) Wrote a song about The Hoa Hoa lady. Hoa Hoa is a restaurant on campus and the pretty lady behind the counter usually never smiles at me or my friend when we order. Yes, we were just as baffled as you are right now. But on one beautiful, wonderful day - a day when birds were chirping and babies were laughing - she smiled at me as I ordered my Green Bean Tofu. And, thus was born 'Oh She Smiled' *


15) Thought it would be a good idea to gift my friend a pair of pink underwear with Muthalik's name on it for her birthday. Standing in line to pay for a pair of pink underwear in the women's section, however, can be a tad awkward. Just a tad.


Other awesome reads:
In my fifth semester, I
In my fourth semester, I
Things I did in my third semester
Things I did in my second semester
Things I did in my first semester



*Might need to be my facebook friend to see the video.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Not too short, please?

"Hmmm, so I kinda want my hair to look just like it's looking now. But neater, like a trim?"

"So I use number 3?"

"No, use scissors. But you know, keep it long but not as long as it is now. Shorter on the sides but not so much on the top."

"...Eh"

"You know, let it be the same way it is now. Just shorter. But not too much, please."

(after 5 seconds of silence)"Where are your parents?"

"In India..."

"Ohhh... So you're on your own here? "

"Yea."

"How old are you?"

"20"

"Noooo.... You are 20?"

"Yes, I am 20. So, when you cut my hair please make sure it's not short?"

"Noooo, you're not 20.You look like you're 14, haha"

Once again, haircut FAIL.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

India, This Past Fortnight (V)

Originally published on Nazar on April 20, 2009. And here's a link to another article called 'The Great Indian Soap Opera Generator' that I wrote with a friend for Nazar.

I believe that it has now become necessary for Universities around the world to have a ‘Shoe Throwing 101′ class for Journalism majors. Recently, a reporter called Jarnail Singh threw his shoe at Indian Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, only to miss his intended target. While reading an article about this incident on the BBC website1, I came across this gem: “Correspondents say that the minister is the latest in a prominent line of world leaders who have been subjected to a shoe attack - considered an insult in India.”

Yes, as opposed to England, where throwing a shoe at someone is equivalent to saying “Jolly good!”

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Prime Ministerial Candidate, Mr. L.K. Advani, has challenged the current Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, to a debate ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Dr. Singh had this to say in response, “I am the candidate from the Congress party. Why should I confer the status of an alternative Prime Minister on Advani?”2

So that we can figure out which candidate is bad and which one is worse.

Head of the AIADMK3, Ms. Jayalalitha, when asked about which parties she would align with, said “A good politician never rules out anything”4.

And I thought ‘good politician’ was an oxymoron.

Speaking of morons, a self acclaimed ’social worker’ called Anil Nair filed a police complaint against actor Akshay Kumar and his wife Twinkle Khanna following Kumar’s stint at the Lakme Fashion Week. As a part of the act on the ramp, Twinkle Khanna had unbuttoned Kumar’s jeans and Nair felt that this act was obscene and vulgar.5

Why are there so many Indian social workers with an inner ‘Muthalik’ in them?

Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi party, while explaining the reason his party had included ‘non-compulsion of English’ in its manifesto, said, “Decades ago, children used to call their mother ‘Amma’, which later changed to just ‘Maa’. However with influence of English increasing in our daily life, today kids prefer calling their mothers as ‘Mum’ or ‘Mom’. What kind of culture we are getting into? It is because of this cultural degeneration that we emphasised not to make English compulsory.”6

Thanks for the clarification, Mulayam. Henceforth, I’ll just call you an idiot, in a regional language.

Arjun Singh, a veteran Congress politician, was upset when he found out that his children were denied tickets by the Congress party to contest in the Lok Sabha elections. When he was asked if he was slighted by this move by his party, his response was, “I am not slighted. Slighted is a word that somehow does not appeal to me”7.

Slighted doesn’t sound nearly as appealing as nepotism.

Recently, the shooting of a Malayalam movie called ‘Daddy Cool’ was disrupted.8

I was disappointed to find out that the movie’s title had nothing to do with it.

To read more ‘India, This Past Fortnight’, click here.

Footnotes:
1 - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/7987201.stm
2 - http://www.hindu.com/2009/04/14/stories/2009041458040100.htm
3 - AIADMK is a political party in Tamil Nadu
4 - http://www.hindu.com/2009/04/15/stories/2009041556021300.htm
5 - http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/entertainment/view/420384/1/.html
6 - http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/no-ban-on-english-nothing-compulsory-either-mulayam/446713/
7 - http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/PoliticsNation/Congress-advises-Arjun-Singh-to-read-Gita/articleshow/4427786.cms
8 - http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/009200904202021.htm

Photo Courtesy: Al Jazeera EnglishWikipedia

Monday, April 06, 2009

Mi Familia

What do you do when you forget to take with you a picture of your family for a Spanish class assignment?


Show off your kindergarten drawing skills.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

India, This Past Fortnight (IV)

Originally published on Nazar (http://NazarOnline.net) on April 5th. Click here to see it on Nazar (it comes with pictures (which I'm too lazy to put here)).

The star of ground-breaking movies such as Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai, Khushi and Chup Chup Ke, Kareena Kapoor, recently said “I’d go on a holiday than do a bad film”1.

Donations for the ‘Kareena-Please-Go-On-A-Holiday Fund’ are now being collected.

The soon-to-be released economy car, the Tata Nano, has captured the imagination of Indians of all ages. A 96 year old Indian woman, Homi Vyayarwalla, was quoted as saying, “Given my age and weakness, I need a simple vehicle. The car looks easy to drive and comfortable to travel in, which is what people want in my age”2.

Well, compared to her first car (pictured below), the Nano must be quite a tempting buy.

The Indian Premier League (IPL), touted to be second in importance only to world peace, has been shifted to South Africa. Indian Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, couldn’t guarantee sufficient security arrangements due to the IPL coinciding with India’s general elections. Arun Jaitley, of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has called this development “shameful”3. He also hit out on the Home Minister, saying “Chidambaram has one and half months left in his hand, so he should concentrate more on his job”.

Mr. Jaitley, looking out for the nation’s security is his job.

The general Lok Sabha elections are fast approaching in India, and as a result, this is the season for WTF lines from men and women masquerading as half-baked politicians. Mulayam Singh Yadav, of the Samajwadi Party, was recently incensed when a District Magistrate canceled the gun licenses of many of his party workers. He said in a rally, “I am not saying anything to you Madam DM, because you are a woman. I respect you because you are a woman. Better behave yourself.”4

Before you jump to any conclusions, he’s insulting her solely out of the respect he has for her womanhood.

The Election Commission in India, responsible for ensuring fairness in the election process, has disallowed the BJP government in Karnataka from distributing free bicycles to school students. Their reason - “students are not voters”5.

Yes, political parties are only allowed to buy the support of those over the age of 18.

It is the time for politicians to bring down their political opponents and BJP senior leader, Venkaiah Naidu, intends to do that in rhyme. He was quoted as saying, “PM presides, madam (Congress President Sonia Gandhi) decides”6, and “Congress assurance has no insurance”7.

It looks like Navjot Singh Sidhu8 has had a lasting impact on the BJP.

There has been a lot of political and public uproar ever since a CD containing a hate speech allegedly made by Varun Gandhi, the BJP candidate from Pilibhit, came to light. Renowned public nuisance and head of the Sri Ram Sena, Pramod Muthalik, has thrown his weight behind Varun Gandhi saying, “He has the guts to speak the truth. Sri Rama Sena would support him. I think every true Hindu would support him”9.

Muthalik, shut up.

To read more ‘India, This Past Fortnight’, click here.

Footnotes:
1 - http://movies.indiatimes.com/Features–Events/Features/Quotable-Quotes-of-the-Week/articleshow/msid-4293719,curpg-9.cms
2 - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Vadodara/Nano-enamours-Indias-first-woman-photojournalist/articleshow/4311135.cms
3 - http://cricket.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Shifting-of-IPL-from-India-is-shameful/articleshow/4306638.cms
4 - http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20090088612&ch=324200972000PM
5 - http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/001200903242231.htm
6 - http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20090088670
7 - http://www.hindu.com/2009/03/25/stories/2009032561011400.htm
8 - Navjot Singh Sidhu is a former Indian Cricketer and television commentator who ran on a BJP ticket in 2004. He was well known for his word-play, commonly known as ‘Sidhuisms’.
9 - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Varun-had-the-guts-to-speak-the-truth-Muthalik/articleshow/4310204.cms

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Test My Research Project

So, I've got a big research project to present in a couple of days and I want to test it out before I make my presentation. Please click here to and follow the instructions. I would greatly appreciate it!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Observations of a Third Year College Student

1. The time to do laundry is determined by the number of pairs of underwear you own.

2. Never ask a college student when they last did their laundry (there is no way they have that many pairs of underwear).

3. You know it's time to ask your room-mate to do the dishes when the stench reaches the bed room.

4. It's never your turn to do the dishes.

5. A shower lasting longer than 5 minutes is a momentous occasion.

6. A shower is an occasion.

7. Never call a person when you can see them on Google Talk (having to hear the other person's voice is over-rated).

8. Never ever text a person unless it's an emergency (email is cheaper).

9. If you see a third year student who does not look tired or even mildly pissed with life, you may assume either
    a) he is smoking something you've heard makes life seem wonderful
    b) he is a Business major

10. If you hear a third year student cribbing, you are allowed to zone out as long as you nod your head in regular intervals.

11. If you see a freshman cribbing, you may knock that kid on the head. Caveat: the kid has to be smaller than you.

12. You are required to act surprised at your 'surprise' birthday party. Even though you knew there was going to be a surprise party. Something's gotta be up when your friends suddenly seem to enjoy your company.

13. You are allowed to be offended if there was no surprise party. Even though you said you didn't want one, multiple times.

14. You can put a :( as your Facebook status message if you did not get any kind of party. Seriously, everyone deserves cake.

15. If you see a FB status message saying 'Person's_name is gay', then that person's got bored friends. And an unattended laptop. Change his computer clock to be one hour slower.

16. A handshake and a smile is the best way to avoid talking to someone.

17. Never stop to talk to someone if all you've got is 'What's up?'.

18. If you hear a Backstreet Boys' song playing from someone's laptop, you can loudly mock them (even though you are singing along in your head).

19. If a Backstreet Boys' song suddenly starts playing from your laptop, you can say 'How did that get in there?' and look around with a bemused smile. It's cool, we all know how it got in there.

20. Saying 'My Bad' absolves you of the bad you did. Really.

India, This Past Fortnight (III)

Due to lack of anything interesting to write about, and due to the lack of time to do anything interesting (so that I can later write about it), I post yet another edition of India, This Past Fortnight (originally published on Mar 5th). If you like pictures, click here to read the article.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) recently barred1 two Indian Cricketers, Sachin Tendulkar and Dinesh Karthik, from playing in an exhibition game in New Zealand. The reason given was that they could not play alongside Hamish Marshall, who is part of the un-sanctioned Indian Cricket League (ICL). My sources in New Zealand tell me that the BCCI also forwarded a 4 point document to the Indian Cricket team that they have to strictly follow:

1. Must not eat at the same restaurants as other ICL players.
2. Must not acknowledge the presence of another ICL player.
3. Must not apologize to an ICL player if you accidentally bump into one.
4. Must not accept that Kapil Dev, Chairman of the Executive Board of the ICL, ever played Cricket for India.

The Indian Cricket Team was never known for having a vibrant or even remotely interesting looking team uniform. It used to be light blue, with the team sponsor’s name smacked right across the center of the t-shirt. Now it is dark blue, with the team sponsor’s name smacked right across the center of the t-shirt. It so happened that this change in uniform coincided with India losing both their Twenty20 games against New Zealand. As expected, out-of-work Indian astrologers began to attribute the color of the uniform to India’s falling fortunes. Other Indian fans felt similarly too, with one especially intelligent one saying “Let’s not bring any superstition into this. The dark blue has prevented Indians from thinking clearly.”2

Yes, it’s always nice to hear sound logic.

Recently, musical genius was acknowledged on a world stage when AR Rahman won two Oscars for his work in Slumdog Millionaire. It was, however, clear that Rahman had not spent too much time on his acceptance speech. He started off with a joke that fell flat (”Before coming, I was excited and nervous. The last time I felt like that was during my marriage”) and then quoted a lame dialogue: “Mere paas Maa hai”, from a lame Hindi movie. But then, I will never be able to delight billions of people with astounding music.

So I should probably shut up.

Staying with music and the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack, the Congress party in India has acquired the rights to use the song ‘Jai Ho’ in their campaign ahead of the general elections3.

At least their empty promises will sound better to the ear now.

It’s quite clear that the Congress wants to ride the Slumdog wave. They’ve even gone on to take credit for its tremendous Oscar success - “All this has been possible because of the conducive environment and good governance of the UPA.”4

Hmmm, have they seen the movie?

A US collector, James Otis, recently decided to auction some of Mahatma Gandhi’s possessions. This led to an uproar in India, and there were requests made to the Indian Government to bid in the auction and make sure that the possessions returned to India. Apparently, the Indian Government made an offer to buy the items off Otis. This was declined by Otis who, when queried about the magnitude of the offer, had this to say, “It was financially so small that I would not like to repeat it.”5

Good news is that Russell Peters now has new material for his stand up.

To read more ‘India, This Past Fortnight’, click here.

Footnotes:
1 http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/nzvind2009/content/story/392501.html

2 http://cricket.ndtv.com/cricket/ndtvcricket/storypage/ndtv/id/spoen20090085017/story.html

3 http://www.hindu.com/2009/03/04/stories/2009030460191000.htm

4 http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1233648

5 Economic Times

Friday, February 20, 2009

India, This Past Fortnight (II)

[This is a new humour column I'm writing for Nazar. This article can be seen there as well.]

The latest national pastime in India seems to be attacking film producers over the names that they choose for their movies. Following the protests against Slumdog Millionaire (the name was thought to insult slum dwellers), the Hairdresser’s Association of Mumbai came out against Billu Barber, a movie where Shah Rukh Khan makes a cameo appearance. In order to appease the huge volume of barbers who form Shah Rukh’s fan base, the title had to be changed in the last minute to ‘Billu’. My guess is that the alliance of barbers felt offended that the name Billu was associated with their profession.

Well, if you’re named Billu, I guess you are used to disappointments.

February 14th was Valentine’s Day. It was the usual routine for me – wake up, look at the date, cringe, lie in a fetal position for a while, and then look online to see what the stars of Bollywood are saying about their ‘non-existent’ love life. While Celina Jaitley sounded desperate for some loving (“I am in love with the idea of being in love more than falling in love”1), Asin, of Ghajini fame, commented that her father was the only man in her life. It pains me to see beauty struggle.

Asin, call me.

Recently, a senior Congress leader called Abhishek Manu Singhvi, said that George Bush should be given a Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor, for ending nuclear isolation with India2.

Someone should throw a shoe at Singhvi.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is planning to come out with a brand new drink called ‘Gau Jal’3. The primary ingredient of this drink is cow urine. The RSS believe that this drink will give good competition to Pepsi and Coco Cola (even though the latter drinks apparently have a secondary use as toilet disinfectants4). I hear that there are going to be efforts made by the RSS to slowly enter other markets as well. There are plans to make pee-nut butter and they are also coming up with a new chain of restaurants, temporarily titled ‘Piss-a Hut’.

Oops, I should not have ‘leaked’ that information to the press.

I was looking up the Indian Supreme Court’s definition of idiot the other day (no, it was not self-doubt that led to that search) and I came upon an article5 that enlightened me on that topic. The article said, “To be legally accepted as an ‘idiot’, one has to be so dumb as to be unable to count till 20, list the days of the week, or fail to remember the names of one’s parents”.

The next time you are accused of murder and the judge asks you to count till 20, remember to stop at 19.

Footnotes:

1 http://movies.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-4111939,flstry-1.cms

2 http://news.oneindia.in/2009/02/13/bush-deserves-a-bharat-ratna-singhvi.html

3 http://news.oneindia.in/2009/02/13/rss-to-launch-cow-urine-soft-drink-gau-jal.html

4 http://stoney.sulekha.com/blog/post/2008/09/a-homemaker-s-best-friends/comments.htm

5 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/3426579.cms

Previously: India, This Past Fortnight(I)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

India, This Past Fortnight

Recently, activists of the Sri Ram Sena attacked women who were at a pub in Mangalore, India. The chief of the Sri Ram Sena, Mr. Muthalik, had this to say, "We condemn the pub culture. In our culture, we respect and salute women and give them the status of mother".1 Muthalik's mother was unavailable for comment since in Muthalik's culture, women can only be seen and not heard.

Slumdog Millionaire is a huge success and so it was only natural that people started suing the producers of the film. The protests center around the title of the movie. 'Slumdog' apparently offends the sentiments of some slum dwellers and so they demand that it be changed. Rumors are abound that by a simple exchange of letters, a reasonable compromise can be achieved. Don't be surprised if you see 'Slumgod Millionaire' plastered about cinema halls in the coming weeks.

Following the success of Sinngh is Kinng and Chandni Chowk to China, Bollywood producers have agreed that they can save money and time by not hiring writers. Akshay Kumar had this to say about the success of his last two films, "When I saw the titles of these movies, I knew I had to act in them. In this industry, you've got to be quick to sign movies with good titles. Shahrukh is working with Karan Johar on 'My Name Is Khan'. If only I was a bit more alert, 'My Name Is Kumar' would be out in theaters now."

On January 26th, Indian President, Pratibha Patil made an appearance before the Indian public as she watched and occasionally saluted at the Republic Day celebrations at the Red Fort. It took a while for the troops marching to realize that the person saluting them was in fact the President of their country. "You see, I spend a lot of my time talking to the dead. So I cannot come out into the sun too often. But the Republic Day celebrations were nice. I was told to occasionally wave my hand in a horizontal manner by Sonia-ji and it was nice to see those young men do the exact same thing in my direction. To be completely honest, I felt bad for those men. To walk around in such poorly designed outfits must be gut-wrenching for them".

There have been a sudden spate of incidents involving young men slapping other young men. Ever since it was announced that Harbhajan Singh was being offered the Padmasri, India's fourth highest civilian honor, the youth of India are starting to follow in Harbhajan's footsteps. Sreesanth, Harbhajan's most famous slap victim, had this to say, "Sniff."

Indian Railway Minister and Parliamentary jester, Lalu Prasad Yadav, recently said, "When I can control buffalos, then managing Railways is not a big deal."2 It's good to know that he came to the job with prior expertise.

1-http://www.ptinews.com/pti%5Cptisite.nsf/0/935A78D81D253F976525754B0051A8F2?OpenDocument
2- http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/002200901271920.htm

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Friday, January 02, 2009

Last Rites

It was a complete contrast to the previous time I was there. There were hardly any people walking about, it was mostly quiet (devotional songs occasionally blasting from stereos) and there was a calm to the place. It had been a long and tiring journey (7 hours on road, following a three hour flight), but my cousin, my sister and I had only one thing on mind. We followed our driver, who was doubling up as our guide, and walked in brisk steps to combat the cold.

I had never seen death before; I was in a coffee shop in Chennai on the 26th of December when I got the phone call. “Thatha… final moments… hurry”. I was two minutes too late when I reached home. People were crying and I saw my grandfather, my hero, lifeless. I had had that car ride home to understand what was happening and I guess that’s probably why I didn’t cry much. Or maybe it was because I wanted to stay strong for my mother and grandmother. The latter just sounds silly to me now - staying strong for the two strongest women I’ve known.

The water was flowing with a strong current and the cold in the air was making my ears go numb. I was not in the best shape, a fever and a sore throat causing trouble, but I had to step into the water and do what the whole trip was about. I took it out of my bag and struggled to remove the rope holding the cloth on top. My cousin offered to help, but with both feet shivering in the cold water, I was not willing to give up now.

I’ve never seriously thought about whether there is a God, and it’s because I’m happy living my life without wondering if there is a phenomenon that is in fact pulling the strings from above (or wherever). I think people think about a higher being when they feel helpless. I felt helpless when my grandfather passed away, but I wasn’t thinking about God. I wanted to do something, something to show to my grandfather that I loved him (even though he would never get to know of the act).

Four years ago, I had been to Haridwar on a school trip and I got the opportunity to bathe in the Ganges and also witness a puja that had me transfixed. Once again, I am not the religious type and so I was surprised as to why I was so taken by a puja. I had fallen in love with the place – the beautiful Ganges, staying pure despite man’s greatest attempts to pollute it, flowing without burden through a city that was built around it.

The rope eventually came off and so did the cloth on top. I moved closer to the water and my cousin held on to my shoulder, as I felt the strength of the Ganges. I closed my eyes and thought of my grandfather. I turned the pot upside down and the ashes became one with the great river. We had done what we had come for, and for a second all I could hear was the water flowing. Closure had never felt so real.