Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Even the Ethiopians think so

They heard that Mayawati, Sharad Pawar, Mulayam Singh, Deve Gowda, Lalooji, and Momtadidi all want to be PM.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Great Indian Circus. Follow it on www.indiavoting.com

The Great Indian Circus is just getting off the ground.

Otherwise known as the general elections to the Lok Sabha, this splendid event occurs roughly every five years and showcases some spectacularly bad taste and many spectacularly evil people.

I am doing my little bit for the decibel level by contributing some jokes, limericks and general funny stuff to www.indiavoting.com, a website which brings news, analysis, data and some entertainment to the discerning net surfer on whom the charms of Pamela Anderson have ceased to work.

The website is manned by some really talented journalists who, as far as I can see, are doing this pro bono. It will also be backed by interviews on the street with ordinary voters in the deep hinterland, again for little pecuniary benefit.

The idea is to raise the level of awareness on the net and to make available a lot of data such as who is contesting from where, who is the incumbent, where exactly the constituency is, and so on. And also talk about some relevant issues like why about 50% of the current lot of ministers is from the Rajya Sabha.

Though I have tried to retain my focus on the lighter stuff, the things I read daily are really depressing.

For instance, the way alliances have broken up before the election. What this means, of course, is that something akin to the Pushkar Camel Bazaar is going to be held after the results are out, and the ones with the most moolah will walk away with the prize, viz. the PM's chair.

Since Sharad Pawar is reputed to have the most slush funds, he will probably be the next PM. Mayawati is too much of a fathead to have a chance and Amar Singh/Mulayam Singh are too creepy even for hardened politicians.

Ofcourse, the real problem is the Indian Public which is such a fathead that it does not realize it is being gradually strangulated. It is a miracle we haven't collapsed yet. The possible reasons for this inexplicable phenomenon are

1. There is not one ounce of brains in the entire bunch of contestants.

2. They are so crooked that no one trusts the other, eschewing meaningful cooperation

3. God really exists and has a corny sense of humor

4. All of the above.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Culture Police at work

We recently had a situation. A certain song, refering to "mother" was being sung in a VERY NONTRADITIONAL way, and being danced to in a VERY NONTRADITIONAL way as well.

Were we going to take this lying down? Were we going to let the depraved youth of the country have their way with our hoary old traditions? Were we bored out of our skull and looking for someway to pass time?

The answers, dear reader, are "no", "no", and "yes" respectively.

This masterfully shot short film is a pithy comment on the cultural situation in our land and the heartening way in which our youth is setting about reforming it. It is rumored to be the indian entry to the Cannes festival. A quick reaction from familiar movie personalities

"I was moved to tears!" - Mani Rathnam

"The Cinematography had me breathless!" - Santhosh Sivan

" " - Ashutosh Gowarikar (speechless)

"I'm rolling! I'm rolling!" - Satyajit Ray

Thanking you in anticipation for your kind comments. Owing to the current economic situation, we are compelled to be selling autographs at Rs. 10/- plus VAT each.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ah Life!

I've been hitting a rough creative patch lately, thanks to the economic and political situation and the fact that my pants are getting tighter.

They are not supposed to do that. They are supposed to see their owner diligently sweat it out in the gym and get looser. But do you think pants would have the decency to do something like that? Not on your life.

They get tighter, prompting our wife to laugh derisively and beg us to wear a belt lest our buttons burst out and injure someone. Yes, our wife can be a biting wit sometimes. Not that she doesn't let her hair down. She tends to do that on Sundays.

You see, our Sundays tend to be pretty laid back. Extremely laid back, to be precise. People frequently come to our house on Sunday mornings and hastily step out, thinking that they had accidentally entered a municipal corporation office. Ha ha. That was a joke. Right. This is the level of humor I touch when I am well fed.

For I ate what must be the most calorie filled sandwich in the world. This was at a place called "Dhiraj", a roadside stall outside Mithibai College in Juhu, an institution known for its high hemlines and low IQs. My partners in crime were, apart from my wife Sheela, cousin M.

Sheela is normally the kind of person who will say 'no' to an extra lettuce leaf, even on Sundays, and add "I think Naren's had enough, too".

I was thus pleasantly surprised to find her going hammer and tongs at the said sandwich. Which is because it is AWESOMELY delicious. It is also very large. It is made from three enormous triangular bread slices, the likes of which I've never seen before. The size of J-lo's panties, would be my guess.

The chief ingredients are boiled potatoes, cucumber and tomato (to impart the necessary vitamins, I think), grated cheese and butter, the last named ingredients liberally utilized. The entire assembly is toasted and served with a generous helping of super spicy green chutney.

Well, we ordered three of these. They were cut by the executive chef into seven pieces each. Sheela and cousin M could eat no more than 4 pieces each, leaving me with an extra 6 in addition to my 7. I am happy to report that I polished off everything.

For some people, heaven is a place with 72 virgins per inhabitant. For me heaven is a parking spot outside Dhiraj, an empty stomach and low triglycerides.

What was I saying? Ah yes, the economic and political situation. You know, I am worried. Our neighbour Pakistan is getting seriously unstable. Our politicians are making a complete pig's breakfast out of the pre-election horse trading. S&P is downgrading India to below investment level. Only our tabloid newspapers are any good. With all this stuff happening, the question that occurs to them foremost is "Is Angelina Jolie Pregnant?". Sheela of course see's nothing wrong with asking that. "Is she?" she asked me, to which I shamefacedly had to admit I did not know the answer.

Ah life!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Crime Wave in Mumbai

You know, when I first read this bit of news (needless to say, first broken by my favorite newspaper, the Mumbai Mirror) I thought these master criminals had kidnapped the Municipal Corporation employee in charge of dumping the garbage (hence "garbage dumper").

It turns out that their villainy is of a far greater degree. They actually kidnapped an entire dumper truck.

A source who cannot be named for fear of his life told me the real story. It seems that the operation was carried out in the wee hours of the morning.

Lured by promises of high quality garbage, our innocent dumper truck was led by these hardened criminals to a desolate spot and before it knew what had happened, they turned off the ignition, paralyzing the poor thing.

An hour later, with the Municipal Corporation panicking over the unexplained disappearance of the truck, the first call came

"Give us half a million in used-oncers in an unmarked brown bag or you will get back your beloved truck in instalments! Ha, ha, ha!". Click. The phone was switched off before the police force, by now attendant in full force, could put a location on the call.

Luckily the corporation had "caller id" on their phones and the police eventually nabbed the criminal shown above. Confronted with the evidence, he is said to have broken down and confessed to the crime.

Well, the happy ending of course is that the dumper was rescued and is said to have turned emotional on seeing the rest of the fleet. "I will never stray out without asking my mommy" it promised.

So now you know the story. It is still classified. And if you value your life, keep it to your self.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Idle thoughts of a Holi afternoon

I loved the copy on this jolly old website. The original, I am told, was something like

"Other Games

For the lovers of indoor games we have Table Tennis, Chess, Carrom, Billiard/Snooker, Card table, Carrom, chess, Brain wizard Scrabble, Table tennis, Table Tennis, Chess, Carrom, Billiard/Snooker, Card table, Carrom, chess, Brain wizard Scrabble, Table tennis, Table Tennis, Chess, Carrom, Billiard/Snooker, Card table, Carrom, chess, Brain wizard Scrabble, Table tennis,Table Tennis, Chess, Carrom, Billiard/Snooker, Card table, Carrom, chess, Brain wizard Scrabble, Table tennis etc."

but some diligent editing did the trick. Brevity, they say, is the soul of wit.

And here's my holi limerick
(The rhyme scheme works best with a mallu accent - joe-lee for jolly and foe-lee for folly)

I like the good old festival of holi

It can be very colorful and jolly

As I watch it from afar

From the seclusion of my bar

Because participating, in my opinion, is folly

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mommy will they make me Poet Laureate? - 1

On the Great Indian Democratic Process

We'll be having elections this spring
There'll be rigging and booth capturing
And loonies and crackpots
And Nepots and despots
And the big daddy of them all, Amar Singh

On Election Strategy according to the Congress Party Think Tank

The Congress won't be doing anything fancy
We're sticking to our Core Competency
Not Ethics, of course
Or Governance (much worse)
We'll be going with good ol' Sycophancy

Monday, March 2, 2009

The International Road Digging Institute

The door to our little coffee parlor opened and a dusty, weatherbeaten man straggled in, with the haggard look we Mumbai citizens know and dread. The poor unfortunate had spent an hour in The Traffic.

We received him in silence. He was one of our own, usually a Cafe Frappe with Vanilla flavoring, but today he asked for a Double Shot Espresso No Sugar.

Our sensitive and talented barista, Mr. Shenoy, was more than equal to the task, of course. Using his house combination of Robusta and Arabica beans ("enough caffeine to wake up the dead"), he not only revived our haggard friend but got him delivering a tirade.

"They should be shot! They should be shot! They should be shot! They should be shot!", said he, evidently hitting a fluent patch. And had Mrs. Shenoy not interjected, he would surely have continued, shedding more light on his innermost feelings.

"Sit down, dear chap, sit down", said Mrs. S, and her dulcet tones had the amazing effect of calming him. Christian saints must have used a similar technique when faced with the unpleasant prospect of providing the lions' calories in ancient Rome.

You have doubtless suffered in the traffic, (said Mrs. S), exacerbated by the road-digging at the junction.

A petite Columbian Latte wondered if "exacerbated" meant some kind of skin disease.

"No. The skin disease you're thinking about is 'extrema'. Exacerbated means , er , means exacerbated", a Moccachino explained.

"Extrema? Extrema? Extrema is no skin disease. Extrema is...."

Tempers seemed to be running high. It was threatening to become a free-for-all but Mrs. S's calming the lions stuff was potent.

"Ladies! Gentlemen!", she said, "do calm down. What I am about to tell you will make you proud. Let me speak"

And miraculously, all was silence again.

As I was saying, (resumed Mrs. S), the traffic is worse because of the road being dug up at the very junction, interrupting the flow of vehicles and causing the now well known (in Mumbai) immune disorder, Ibefirstitis, in which the unfortunate afflictees rush into any open gap in the traffic, regardless of how impossible it is, leading to wedge locks.

I had told you a few days earlier, as you would doubtless recall, that most roads were dug up to settle bets about what color the soil would be, twenty feet below road surface. While this is true, there is another very select and exclusive organization, one which we, as Indians can be proud of. It's called the International Road Digging Institute.

The IRDI, (continued Mrs. S), provides training in all aspects of road digging.

"Any idiot can dig a road", its Director told me the other day, when we met at the annual dinner of The Indian Society for Public Inconveniences where I consult from time to time, "it needs expertise and diligence to ensure that the inconvenience caused is significant".

"We receive the best talents from Municipal Corporations all over the world. Our alumni are digging up arterial roads in Sydney, Colombo, New York and Montreal, even as we speak. The highlight of our course is how to disrupt traffic without bringing it to a complete halt."

The intersection that so inconvenienced our friend is a lab project for a delegation from Paris, France. And you will be happy to know that the IRDI has a waiting list years long.

Our friend groaned. "Oh Lord! Years of this stuff!"

But the rest of us were more manful. The only emotion we felt was pride.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

You mean there's more to babies than the production process?

My cousin M dropped by the other day with her baby who is seven months old. Naturally the talk turned to the arduous task of raising children and how the burden is always on the poor mother. Leading the discussion was Mrs. Shenoy.

I was what you might call a passive participant owing to the fact that I have little domain knowledge. How little? Well, here's a questionnaire

1. It is three am. Your baby suddenly starts crying at the top of its voice. You

a. Check if the baby needs a diaper change
b. See if the baby needs to be burped
c. Take the baby to your pediatrician
d. Go sleep in the next room

2. Your baby has just turned seven months. You can expect it to

a. Sit up on its own
b. Continue sitting on its own if you helped it sit first
c. Crawl on all fours
d. Change its own diapers

3. Breast milk is good for the baby because

a. Breast milk has the optimum nutrients
b. Breast milk gives the baby immunity against many illnesses
c. Feeding the baby breast milk bonds the baby to the mother
d. The father is not involved its preparation and supply

My honest answers in all cases would be d,d and d.

Of course, I know better than to say that. Like heretics in the time of the Inquisition, one keeps one's opinions to oneself.

As I was saying, I was a passive participant owing to my vast wisdom when it comes to whether or not I should provide evidence of my ignorance. And the talk turned to how best to discipline children, and from what age.

Sheela: I strongly believe in the Least Reinforcing Scenario

Cousin: What's that?

Sheela: When the child does something it shouldn't, you just ignore it

Cousin: That works?

Sheela: Every single time.

Cousin: And how soon can I start doing this for my baby?

Sheela: No time like the present!

Cousin: But he's just seven months old

Sheela: All the better to mould him.


Sheela: Works great on husbands too. Infact, that's where I perfected the technique in the
first place. Ha ha!

Cousin: Ha ha!

Me: Hey! When I do something stupid, you yell at me!

I disappear, amidst laughter which, if I may say so, was in very bad taste!