Friday, January 22, 2010

Plagiarism rears its ugly head - Coconut Chutney latest victim

A little background - A chap named Charukesh made this video and posted it on youtube. My problem with it - and the problem of hundreds of Lavanya Mohan's fans out there - is that the script is lifted word for word from this post. What to do now? Charukesh seems to have got the script from one Vichar Hari. Who denies having lifted it, (though not outright). I thought I would put it up to these guys nicely, hoping they have the decency to do the right thing. I've put it on my blog so that you would know about it. I'm also planning to mail these guys on their fb addresses if they don't do it in a day or two

Dear Charukesh and Vichar Hari

Please accept my apologies for the joyless tone of this post, but I am not happy today. Being joyless is a strange feeling for me. And the reason of my joylessness is the two of you.

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Narendra Shenoy, a smalltime blogger writing allegedly humorous posts for a small audience. I have been writing for a while now, long enough to appreciate how difficult it is to write something really funny, especially on a regular basis.

Which is why I greatly admire Lavanya Mohan. Otherwise known as Coconut Chutney. A fine humorist. Witty. And original. I and many of her other followers show our appreciation by writing comments on her blog and generally applauding her wit. I strongly suspect that this is the only reason why she blogs. And provides us with so many delightful posts.

Now I come to the reason for my unhappiness. You guys made a short movie based entirely, word for word, on one of her posts which also happens to be one of my favourites. AND YOU DID NOT CREDIT HER. You just pretended it was original. I hope you understand that you have perpetrated a crime. A theft.

This is her intellectual property. Her original wit. The cause for so many of us laughing hard. And, if you glance at in the comments to that post, you will realize that they are the fuel for her creativity. Just read those comments, guys. You will understand what I am saying.

What I think you should do, Charukesh, and I address you here because you've made a pretty decent film of it, is be a gentleman, unconditionally and unambiguously apologize, and give due credit to Lavanya Mohan.

In another country, you would have been sued. Made to eat crow by due process of law. It might be possible here too, I am no lawyer. All that we, her fans, are asking you is to do the right thing. Apologize. Acknowledge.

Set the score straight, Charukesh. You will have our respect.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A newer, more improved me

Things have not been all hunky dory for yours truly since the missus' solo Bangalore and Mysore visit. She had a good look at how well others, namely her brother and her brother in law treat their wives, spend time with them, take them out to movies, do not drink much, and most of all do not spend HOURS AND HOURS ON THE COMPUTER!

I got all this on the way back from the airport. I knew better than to offer counter arguments. Our justice department functions like the famous "anadi" court in Bombay, sample proceedings of which are given below:

  • Judge (to small offender): The court fines you Rs. 200/-
  • Small offender : But  your honour....
  • Judge: 500!
  • Small offender : Your honour, please listen to my side of.....
  • Judge: 1000! And silence, or I'll have you thrown in jail. Next case.
In the 30 minute ride back, I was summarily ordered to spend no more than 30 minutes a day on the computer. Unlike the small offender above, I was the picture of contrition, an attitude that seemed to soothe the missus' fury. The ticking off continued, however.

"Do you even know what music I like?" asked the missus. I hung my head in shame. "My brother in law got my sister an Ipod Nano and filled it with all her favorite music". What could I say? I kept mutely agreeing to everything she said (most of which was true, of course) and by the time we got home, I had agreed to a sort of domestic Treaty of Versailles.

But unlike Germany, which started flouting the treaty the moment the Allies had turned their backs, I was - am - determined to reform completely. Mr. Systematic, that's what I shall be known as from now on, except when I'm focussed, at which time I shall be known as Mr. Focussed

And hence I shall be posting at the same time every Thursday. Not the same post of course. Ha ha. Gotcha there. No, it will be a different post, but at the same time each Thursday.  And it will be a socially relevant, informative and educational post, a post which will leave you a better human being, not someone who forgets to get their spouse an Ipod nano loaded with their (the spouse's) favorite music.

I have also been instructed not to write frivolous groaners. Actually I had a couple of juicy ones ready for publication.

"You know, my sweet, there's an interesting story about how Pondicherry got its name." I told her

"Pondicherry?" The missus was intrigued.

I took that as a sign to continue

"Around the time when the British were capturing places left and right," I said, "the British commander for the south of India suffered an excruciatingly painful suppuration in his posterior. So painful that he had actually contemplated suicide. His second-in-command dissuaded him from such drastic action and recommended the services of the local Vaidya, a man with absolutely incredible powers, he assured him.

The vaidya examined him and said that the only cure for this condition was a rare Himalayan cherry. An expedition was immediately sent, on the fastest horses and after an agonizing wait of 2 months, the posse returned, with just one cherry. "They are extremely rare, sir" explained the sergeant. This is the only one that we could find. The vaidya however assured the commander that one was more than enough, so powerful was its effect.

However, just as the vaidya was getting ready to grind it into a potion, an attack from one of the neighbouring rajahs reached the commander's mansion. They managed to beat it back, but in  the ensuing melee, the vaidya was shot by an arrow in his chest. The commander was aghast. "Quick, save this man, somebody" he shouted. But the vaidya knew his time had come. "I am afraid it is all over" he told the commander. "My life is ebbing away. I can see Lord Yama arriving to take me"

"Oh God! My arse! Tell me, how do I use this fruit to cure myself?

"Sit...." gasped the vaidya, with great effort.

"What? Say that again" the commander said, anxiously

"Sit..... " the vaidya hissed, his voice down to a whisper now, "Just sit upon the cherry". And breathed his last.

The commander wasted no time in implementing the vaidya's instructions. Placing the cherry on his chair and dropping his pajamas..."

"I get the idea" the missus said impatiently, "Carry on"

Well, it worked like magic." I continued. "The relief was stupendous. So, in honour of the vaidya's last words, the place has been known as Pondicherry ever since."

The missus gave me the look. "Naren", she told me, "do you remember the time we had gone to Kodaikanal and you wanted to peep over the cliff"


"And I held on to you, afraid that you might fall?"

"Of course I remember! That was so sweet! What about it?"

"I should have let go" she said. "And furthermore, Pondicherry belonged to the French"

Which is why I have decided against posting groaners. All my posts are going to be like this one, from now on. Enriching. Ennobling. Engineering. No, wait, I didn't mean engineering, haha. Slip of the tongue. I meant, Entertaining.

That's my promise to all six of my readers out there.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An entomological tale

Richard the ant sat by the campfire, cleaning his pipe. His grandchildren were clustered around him, begging him for a story.

Old Richard was famous for his yarns. Some were sad, some happy. Some plausible and some really tall. But each one was interesting. The children loved him.

"Very well, my deal children", said old Richard, as he filled his pipe with shag tobacco.Let me tell you about Cousin Sammy, the ant who had made it in the modeling world.

"Children", said he, "you must have seen my cousin Sammy in many magazines and papers, he being a movie star and all, but you probably don't know he was an ordinary Alaskan Carpenter ant from right here in Nome. A fine representative of the Alaskan Carpenter Ant clan and the eldest son of my late mother's sister Bess."

"As ginormous a queen ant as ever built a hill." he added with a twinkle in his eye.

"Sammy was as lazy as he was handsome, though he made up for it by being smart." continued Grandpa Richard

"I'll rule the world one day, just you see" he would brag as we toiled in the tundra, stocking up for the winter.

"Bessie is spoiling him rotten!" my mother would hiss, but neither Sammy nor his family ever seemed worried about the future. "Oh, my sammy will be a great ant one day" aunt Bessie would say smugly.

And sure enough, the agents came scouring the countryside one day, looking for the handsomest and the best built Alaskan Carpenter Ant in the country and zeroed in on a few candidates.

Sammy was the best among them. After a little huddle, the agents made their offer. A very nice sum of money, half in advance, for a year's modeling contract.

It turned out that the sponsor was "Tide" detergent and they had arranged for their future model, Sammy in this case, to be on the cover of Time magazine!

We were overjoyed! It was an honor! And everyone was excited when  the team of photographers from Time, the sales director of "Tide" and a bunch of important looking people landed up.

And Sammy? He was nowhere to be seen. We searched high and low but no Sammy. The Tide people were throwing tantrums. The Time photographer threatened to return to New Yorkl. We begged him to stay a day  more and I went off into the woods, with an idea in mind.

I knew that Sammy had the hots for a young fire ant named Hilda and I kind of figured they might have shacked up for the weekend. But where would they be?  I remembered that old rotten log we used to hide in and smoke weed. Sammy would be there if anywhere, I figured, and sure he was.

I barged in without knocking and caught them in a very compromising position. Sammy was furious but when he learned about my mission, his pallor changed from fiery red to ashen.

"Good Lord!" he cried. "I completely forgot! Dick, do something. We have to hurry."

I smiled at him. For suddenly, I had realized everything.

"Sammy, my brother",  I told him calmly, "don't worry. Go back in and finish whatever Hilda and you had started. I'll wait here. And don't even think about the suits going away. They ain't going no place."

Sammy looked gratefully at me and vanished inside. He was back in no time, I noted smugly, and we set back for home.

When we reached, the colony was wearing a look of gloom. Aunt Bessies eyes were red from crying. My mom was consoling her. No one seemed to be glad to see Sammy.

"He's back, Ma!" I said. "I've found Sammy!"

"What's the use, Dick", said aunt Bessie. "Surely they must have gone back. Their deadline passed more than 2 days ago"

"They have not, I can assure you!" I said, in my most confident voice. "They'll do what they came to do!"

"How can you be so sure, Richard," mother asked

"You know the old saying, don't you?"

"What old saying?", asked Aunt Bessie, puzzled

"Time and Tide wait for Nome ants", I beamed!

And sure they did. Sammy still remembers and nary a week goes by without him calling me and asking about my health. Now wasnt that a nioce story?

But the children had long fallen asleep

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

After  posting those atrocious puns I got properly ticked off by a few regular readers. So introspection time.

I've always had a weakness for groaners but I have to admit that they're usually not ha-ha funny. Funny is something like this Wiodehouse gem "Lord Emsworth could conceive of no way in which his son Frederick could be of any use to a dog biscuit firm, except possibly as a taster."

And yet I find groaners to be a great source of amusement. A kink in  my character, no doubt.

Probably stems from a troubled childhood. I was once punished for cutting my neighbour's hair in third grade craft class. And I did a great job too, byt the lad's mother took a dim view of the happenings - strange, because I distinctly remember doing it for free - and created no end of a ruckus, demanding that my parents be summoned and reprimanded.

 My parents of course refused to turn up but my mother very sportingly offered to pay for shaving the guy bald. This further angered auntyji, for some reason, but by this time everyone from the principal down were heartily sick of all that scremaing and shouting and I was sentenced to write "I will not cut anyone's hair" one hundred times, cruelly cutting short what was surely a promising career in the hair-stylist industry. Just the other day Yves St, Laurent was lamenting the lack of good hair professionals in the industry.

Anyway, all that is neither here nor there. The missus is temporarily absent, having decamped to Mysore and Bangalore for a week. We are all missing her terribly of course, and here's a video to prove it.

They're having exams too. The older son has his Class X exams - the boards -  coming up. Currently they're conducting "prelims" which is sort of net practice. He is ice cool and considers it beneath himself to show any sign of fear or panic, thank goodness.

The younger son also has some species of tests at school but he is even more cool. He has developed a fascination for a genre of music called death metal which involves, as far as I can see, screaming in different keys. The older son and I call it POWA music - acronym for Piles Operation Without Anaesthetic - which is what we are reminded of when we listen to those bright little compositions.

What else?.... Oh yes, on the weekend I went with some friends to this very trendy place called The Blue Frog. They had a DJ playing what is called electronica music. I was sipping a beer called Hoegaarden which looked a lot like sugarcane juice. It tasted very nice though. Very different. And after 5 or 6 of them, very communicative. I started spotting lyrics in the electronica music. Very strange lyrics I must say. For instance, one number went "I am a lingayat". I swear that's what the voice kept saying over and over again. I was ticked off by my friends for being sloshed, but I am sticking to my story. The next number was "idlis don't bite" but by this time, I was gently ushered into the car and driven home.

The missus is back tomorrow. She keeps calling - "to check-up on the kids", she says - but she wants the low down on all that I'm up to. She misses me, which makes me feel kind of nice.

And I miss her too.

The song of Hairy Princess

Ok, one last shot at reclaiming my status as a bad-ass punster -  a rep that has been severly damaged - nay, decimated - by Raghuvanshr, Chutneycase, KrishAshok and Notytony , who have been making more atrocious puns than previously thought possible under the Universal Cosmological Theory of the Life Universe and Everything. If this doesn't work, you can find me in the Himalayas

O hear my song, a tale of old
Some cowardly men, some brave and bold
A tale of yore my father told
Okay okay I'll move on

It concerns Princess Rapunzel
A lass whose name surely rings a bell
Her life was verily a living hell
Hmm. Maybe not THAT bad

As you have heard, she had lots of hair
Not just on the head, but every where
She hadn't even an inch to spare
I'm sure you get the idea

In fact one groped to find the word
Fur-tive? No! That's sly, you nerd
Hair-assed? That's where it's most covered
No, wait, I think it's "hirsute"

Well Prince Charming through the clouds did float
Crossed the ramparts and jumped over the moat
He wove her hair into a gossamer coat
A gorgeous, flowing, Wedding Dress

"I love you,beautiful. Will you be mine
I have a hair fetish, so we'll get along fine
Plus I can weave it back should it untwine"
The princess prompt accepted

And that's how the prince won joy from sorrow
Because wisdom from the ancients he did borrow
He'd been always told "Hair today, gown tomorrow"
Yes, they lived happily ever after

Saturday, January 9, 2010

In the Straits of Malacca

I know I promised I wouldn't write any more groaners but I've become addicted. One last one then, before I join rehab. Please find forgiveness in your hearts and pour me a whisky when we meet, rather than plugging me in the eye as I richly deserve, for I am more to be pitied than censured. The missus is away in Mysore, by the way, which is why I'm all weak and whiny. Like the crow in the story that follows....

I probably won't live long enough to tell my tale in England. This cursed place will get me sooner or later, of that I am sure.

A sorry fate for Captain James Smith of Her Majesty's Royal Navy. And ironically, a fate that has befallen me in the guise of an honour.

It all started with those blasted buccaneers and their troubling of British ships. The Vice Admiral sent me with a schooner and two dozen fine chaps to deal with the pirates. We routed them in no time. The poor devils did not know what hit them. They had no canons, no gun powder, no pistols, and were weak with malaria. By the end of the month, they had acknowledged the supremacy of the Company and I set up government, as the Vice admiral had ordered me.

After that, there has been no official order from London. The trade ships come and go but there is never any word from the Admiralty. I am stuck here. The men are making merry. They have taken up with the local women and the ways of the natives, but I need hardly say that such behaviour would scant befit a Captain of Her Majesty's Navy.  Oh, for a week back home!

I have permitted myself the luxury of one vice here. The locals keep crows and have crow fights every week. A great deal of importance is given to winning, and I am afraid I am hooked on to the sport. I raided a crows nest and raised a healthy looking specimen on a diet of meat and offal. The bird grew to an impressive size and since entering into competition over the last month, wiped the floor with all contenders.

Today was the final battle. My bird was to join battle with the Sultan's raven, a legendary fighter, but distinctly smaller than mine. I confidently predicted a rout for the Sultan's bird and put a substantial sum on my crow to win hands down.

Purkiss, my second in command, had warned me that while my crow was larger and stronger, it had little experience of wild fights and relied merely on brute strength. I ticked him off for being a "pussy" which is how, I am told, George Washington and his brigands refer to cowards back in America.

As is customary in important matches, the fight was held in a closed barn. The battle started in earnest but once the Sultan's bird got its eye in, there was no stopping it. My bird continued for a couple of minutes but soon, the bites started proving too painful and to my complete mortification, started running away from the fight, actively pursued by his tormentor. I shut my eyes in disgrace and prayed for an early disembowelment. The delighted cackling of the Sultan and his troupe burned my ears!

Soon the party rushed out of the barn, babbling excitedly. Apparently my bird had escaped. Oh the disgrace!

Purkiss coughed gently. "I'm afraid sir, our candidate found some windows with holes in them and squeezed through".

I could contain my sorrow no longer. "Windows! Damn all windows! They all have gaping holes in them! Damn! My crow's soft!"

Back in my digs, Purkiss poured me a stiff whiskey and water, but I can feel the chills coming. The dreaded Malaria. I hope my relief comes soon.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The distiller's tale

I know this one is downright pathetic and you want to kill me but please don't since I have a wife and two kids, none of whom are dependant on me, and anyway, I solemnly swear that I won't write any more groaners. 

What do you do when you lose a priceless diamond? You get ticked off soundly for shoving it into a bottle of gin in the first place, further ticked off for not having the foresight to mark that bottle distinctively in any way, and finally threatened with disinheritance if you don't find it by the end of the week.

This is what happened to Jack. Heir to one of London's oldest gin distelleries, and it's most unremarkable one, Jack tried everything in his power to raise sales. He knew the product was excellent. His great-grandfather had concocted it with many exotic materials. Juniper berries. Aniseed. Orris root. Even, legend had it, virgin's tears, before London's supply of virgins dried up. But sales just wouldn't budge.

Jack got the bright idea of inserting a diamond into a bottle of his gin from the cereal companies.

He decided to slip in a diamond into one of the bottles and advertise the fact. Everyone would buy a bottle, Jack reasoned, and his distillery would be the talk of the town. Yes, Jack was not very intellectually gifted.

His father was most categorical about the disinheritance. "That bloody diamond cost more than our entire stock of gin. And finding it means breaking every single bottle. Jack, it's all my fault. I ought to have strangled you at birth"

Mother was more understanding. And, more importantly, she was practical.

"We must think, dear" she said to Jack, since Father had walked off in a huff. "And since neither of us have the requisite apparatus, we must engage someone to do it for us".

"A detective?" asked Jack, tentatively

"Oh, I think not!" said mother. "They're a mercenary lot. They'd pocket the diamond on the sly and we would end up with a whole lot of broken bottles of perfectly good gin. No, we need someone else. Someone with capacity for logical thought".

"A chess player?" Jack piped up hopefully.

"Ummm......I have a better idea". Mother's eyes were twinkling now. "Find the female Go champion. She will find our bottle"

"Go?" asked Jack

"It's a Japanese game requiring great logical and strategic skills"

"But why 'Go' of all things, and why the female champion?" asked Jack, still puzzled.

"Just do it, dear. Now! We have very little time!"

I'll spare you the details and tell you straight away that Jack, though a man of dim wit, was second to none when it came to action. He caught the next plane to Tokyo, located the female Go champion before the day was out, engaged her for a modest fee, flew her into London the next, and the morning after that, sat beaming across the breakfast table with mother.

"Mum, you are simply amazing!" Jack said. "And you saved my life! How in the world did you know it would happen this way? She just asked me for my production records, my time schedules, my storage sequence and deduced which bottle the diamond was in. First time right!"

"It's the basics, Jack. Always the basics. She was the female Go champion. A Go girl. And you do remember what they all say, don't you? A Go girl's the fastest in searching gin"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Old man and the Nets

The salt spray of the ocean was invigorating but the old man could feel nothing. His gaze was distant, as if in deep thought.

"What are you thinking about, granpa?" asked the boy.

"Oh nothing, son. Just where am I going to find a woman who wears suspenders?"

"Suspenders? Well, there's Miss Smith down town. She likes to dress up all man-like. They say she's a Lisboan or something. What's that mean, Granpa?"

"Lisboan? Maybe she's from Portugal. But that doesn't matter, son. I need you to do me a favor"

"Anything for you, granpa" said the boy, sincerely. For did he not owe his entire life to the old man? Was it not his duty to unquestioningly do his bidding?

"Alright, then. I need you to go to Miss Smith's house and steal her suspenders. Just one pair"

That sounded simple enough. The boy had grown up in a hard school where nimble fingers and enterprise were the often the only way out of a hungry night. He wasn't a thief really, but a man has got to live.

"But why do you need that, granpa?" he asked. For he knew that the old man never did anything without a reason.

"Oh, it's  kind of complicated, but I'll tell you", he said.

Lighting up his pipe, the old man sat down on the bench and started speaking in that soft voice of his.

"You know how smart the fish are around here. They smell our gear and run away."

"Yes, yes!" interrupted the boy, excitedly. "I've seen you washing everything with detergent"

"You're clever and observant, little one!" chuckled the old man, pleased. "And you would no doubt have noticed what brand of detergent I use"

"Surf! You always buy Surf!"

"Yes, my lad. Surf is the only one which gets the strong smell of dead fish out of them. The others don't realize all this, which is why they catch so little"

"But what's with the suspender bands? And why do I need to steal Miss Smith's" asked the boy.

"Persistent old rascal, aren't you?" said the old man, smiling indulgently. "Son, it's an outside chance but one that will, if it succeeds, deliver us from our poverty"

The boy was smart. He understood all of that at one go.

"And?" asked the boy

The old man spoke again.

"Well, I've heard it said that a broad's bands will help us Surf the nets much better".