Monthly Archives: July 2011

(Google + Bullshit)

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, right? Why is it then, that we have to remember so many things? Phone number, ATM Pin, Pan Card Number, Email ids, their passwords, Internet banking passwords, DEMAT account numbers??Ironically, to remember all of this, I fall back upon the ancient method of noting it down on a piece of paper. So much for technology making my life easy!

A few months back, there was mass hysteria on Facebook about another Google product – Google +. I was a little wary of it, considering that their last product Google Buzz, was as effective as the TVC Nazar Suraksha Kavach. I wasn’t too impressed with iGoogle, or Google Wave either. Tomorrow, if Google Farts is released, people will still flock to get it. There is a frenzy, which begins with someone putting up a post saying:

“Limited Google + invitations available. Who wants?”

It’s like prasad is being distributed, and the clamouring begins. Well, morons, the point of a social networking site is that it is open to everybody. Isn’t that the whole point??

I have realised that whenever a new service is launched, there is a compulsive need to jump on the bandwagon. Ok, I have a yahoomail id (God bless its ghost), a gmail account, an Orkut Profile, a Facebook profile, and in a few years, will have a LinkedIn profile as well. So where does this end?

But anyway, Google being Google, it integrates everything to your mail even if you don’t give a flying fuck about it. So I hopped onto Google + to see what the hype is about. The first feeling I got is that it is a clone of Facebook, only it seemed much colder.

When you log in to Facebook, you are flooded with notifications, friends tagging you in photos, colleagues asking you for pigs for their farms, and buddies requesting for a Dirty Bra in Mafia Wars. No such thing here, it is as if Facebook got jaundice and turned pale.

The profile page is the same, the ‘photos’ page is the same, and finally we come to the one revolutionary bit that Google plans to beat Facebook with – the Circles. The concept behind this circle is that on Facebook, what you say is visible to the entire world. Here, you can restrict the information by making ‘circles’, for work, family, friends, etc.

But wasn’t that the very reason why we gushed over Facebook? That information could be shared with everyone just by clicking a single button??

Anyway, coming to these circles. Say, I have a circle for my office colleagues. I want to tell one of them that my boss is a dick. But if my boss is in my ‘Work’ circle, how do I do it? Do I then cut off an ‘arc’ from the circle, and send it to them?

And another part of circles is that you never know which circle you are in. Suppose I put a friend in ‘Closest friends’ circle. Now imagine how I’d feel if I found he put me in ‘Acquintances’ circle, which Google+ clearly says, is “a good place to stick people you’ve met, but aren’t particularly close to” !!!

We are human beings. Even amidst our circles, we have our favourites. It’s only a company with the arrogance of Google that can come up with a product like this. Time and again, Google has been hauled up for a number of its actions, and the biggest testimony to its ‘innovations’ is that dear old Kasab used Google Maps to find his prey. I mean, I understand that I need to send mails. But I don’t want a stupid, submarine kinda object going about the streets, mapping every house. Who gives Google the right to do that?

What’s next? Google Knot for marriages, and Google WhamBam for online sex??

We Indians orgasm for everything. I saw this update from a friend about Google +. It went:

“Google + offers video chatting with ten friends simultaneously. Goodbye, Facebook!!”

Now seriously, how many of us in India video chat with ten friends? Most of the internet connections in India are in the kbps range, and most of the usage is dedicated to downloading that latest scandal from Kanpur or Nagpur. Who video chats with ten friends??

So, this time I have decided not to fall prey to the hysteria. I don’t need different circles to communicate with everyone. We human beings behave differently with different people.

A little common sense will help me deal with this, I don’t need Google+ to do it for me.

My GF

The Australian government recently banned brand packaging on cigarette packs. All the packs would now be devoid of logos, colours, and will come in a standard colour, with larger spaces for warnings against the effects of smoking. The move is targetted at reducing surrogate advertising, and dissuading youngsters from picking up smoking. Quite a sensible move, if you ask me.

In India, most youngsters pick up smoking in order to ‘belong’. Most gyaan-givers attribute it to ‘peer pressure’, but the actual reason is that it is an act of rebellion. Our parents warn us against it, and we know it is harmful, and it becomes a rebellious act. The peer pressure bit comes later on.

While growing up, cigarettes had an impact on me in a different way. There was the Benson and Hedges 92 World Cup, and the Wills World Cup 96. The names were associated with cricket, and hence, a part of my early memories as well. There was no restriction on cigarette ads, so every English magazine had an ad of a happy, relaxed couple, with the tagline ‘Made for Each Other’. There was also this Four Square ad, which showed Sanjay Manjarekar, Venkatesh Prasad and Nayan Mongia winning a boat race, using bats instead of oars (the only time they did anything useful with the bat).

The first cigarette I smoked was Wills Flake, encouraged by a driver to try it. I hated it, and had an evil taste in my mouth for an hour. Later, he gave me a Gold Flake, and it felt heavenly compared to what I had earlier. Since then, it has stuck.

My only case of brand loyalty in this age of multi-product invasion, is Gold Flake, chhota. It was moderately priced – neither expensive like the big ones, nor cheap enough for someone to politely deny it when you offer them. And the taste! Neither the rough ‘fuck my lungs’ taste of Navy Cut, nor soft flavours like clove, eucalyptus, mint, menthol, strawberry, banana and amla. Just the right blend!

I first flirted with Gold Flake working in the Call Centre. There would be ten of us, and one Gold Flake, chhota. In the break, it would go around, one puff per person, and we were ready to go back and kick some American ass. Since then, it has remained with me.

Another great part of Gold Flake, chhota, is that it is ubiquitous. From Jammu to Kanyakumari (Arundhati Roy fanboy, me!), and from Lakshwadeep to Andaman Nicobar, any part of India you go to, you will find it. I know some people who smoke Classic Regular, and have to travel five kilometres because every shop doesn’t stock them. Not with my Gold Flake.

I get exasperated with the way non-smokers persuade others to quit smoking. It’s almost as if smokers are a dumb, hedonistic lot, who are thick in the head. We do know of the harmful effects, but then, there is something you guys don’t know. A cigarette is more than a roll of tobacco. You just don’t smoke your cigarette, you live with it. And walk to your death with it.

A cigarette stays with you through thick and thin. When you are celebrating something special, or just going through the motions (both loose and tight). It is with you when you come up with ideas, when you are inspired, and when you are dejected. It is a part of you, your personality, and it’s also the one who stays with you in your most private moments – in the loo.

Gold Flake has been my true GF, it has been faithful to me, and I have rarely cheated on her. I can’t explain the feeling on seeing the gold and maroon pack after a tiring day.

Won’t be the same if it came in a white, drab box, would it??

Is Sachin the greatest ever??

We are at the threshold of yet another tournament, and the one constant feature in every article is Sachin’s 100th century. For the last two years, pretty much everything the guy has done has been some record or the other. I wonder how the media doesn’t get tired of the same stuff, over and over again.

Another annoying part of every tour, is the habit of journos asking others if they think Sachin is the best batsman in the world. Over the years, we have asked former Test players, opposition captains, talking parrots, Ganesha, veteran stars, new Mumbai Indians recruits, and Atul Wassan, if they think Sachin is the best batsman in the world.

We ask the same question, and expect the same answer. We are outraged if one of them doesn’t consider Sachin as the greatest player. It is almost as if we need a certification from everyone in the world that he is indeed, the best.

Along with our craze for fake accents and the Oscars, this is another bit of colonial crap we are yet to wipe off our asses – this constant desire to get the world to acknowledge his greatness.

Fact is, how will an Australian truly understand what Sachin means to us?

The Australian doesn’t know what it feels like to see Sachin go out to bat. The hopes that lie on his shoulders, and the agony of listening to ‘Saala, records aur paison ke liye khelta hai’, the minute he gets out cheaply. How many times would his heart have crashed, when Sachin got out, and the innings crumbled with less than 15 runs to get?

How will the Australian understand that for about a decade, Indian cricket began and ended with Sachin Tendulkar? How can you explain that after Sachin got out, the others to follow would be Sanjay Manjarekar, Vijay Dahiya, Venkatapathy Raju and Dodda Ganesh? How will you explain the agony of winning a test, dedicating it to the 26/11 victims, and then being questioned by the intelligence of Bal Thackeray, if he truly understands what Mumbai is about.

The Australian would never understand the pressure of playing Pakistan in a World Cup. He wasn’t there when Sachin stood rock-solid and unblemished, when the country’s greatest heroes brought shame and dishonour the country. He has not grown up watching ads of Sachin, he has not seen him grow up – from a teen to a father – under scrutiny by everyone in the country, all through his life, and never so much as putting a wrong step.

A foreigner will not understand what Sachin truly means to us. A country with shitty roads, and pathetic public amenities, and daily depressing reports of killings, blasts, corruption and scandals. He will not appreciate that Sachin is the only bright spot in our otherwise morose state of affairs.

There is no need to ratify his greatness. An approval from Courtney Walsh or Shane Warne is not going to make him a notch greater. And a disapproval is not going to make him a lesser player.

It’s just a stupid question, being put forward by a lazy journalist. Pay no mind to it. These are his last few years in cricket, just sit back and enjoy seeing him bat. There is no need of a sanction from others to make him the greatest ever.

************************************************************************************

Oh btw, if you ask me, he IS the greatest player of all time!!

Swayamwar

This week saw yet another reality show coming to an end.

There are reality shows created to attract family audiences. There are some that aim to pull at your heartstrings to send SMS. There are some that are mere clones of international shows.

And then there are those that are created so that you can laugh and have a good time. A show with so many morons, you are spoilt for choice. Swayamwar is that one show.

I try to catch it whenever I have the time, it’s that good. So, here’s the concept. There is one celebrity, and he/she/it is wooed by suitors, who get eliminated week after week, till the celebrity chooses her life partner. It began with Rakhi Sawant.

Are you kidding me? Rakhi Sawant and marriage are parallel lines. However, I was surprised that the channel found enough such guys, to make a reality show of. I didn’t expect much from the contestants. If you are on a show wooing to marry Rakhi, I wouldn’t expect you to be a Noble laurete. They did their bit, sang and danced for her, and ran errands and did cute things, and finally she chose this bald guy called Eelesh. This Eelesh guy had a business in Canada, and probably loads of cash. After marriage, there were reports that the dude had defrauded loans in Canada. To the shock of the entire nation, the two of them split.

Then came Rahul Mahajan. Whose claim to fame was being caught with cocaine, beating up his ex-wife, and featuring on Big Boss. I was not very surprised that there were women wanting to marry him – rich, dumb guys are a lucrative lot. Rahul Mahajan clearly loved every minute of it, his smile betraying the sheer joy he received in seeing ten girls woo him. He finally married some chick called Dimpy. A few months later, there were these totally shocking reports of Rahul beating her up and kicking her out of his house.

This time, there was Ratan. I don’t know who she is, apparently some famous TV actress. She is not hot, not even close. Dressed awkwardly and blessed with histrionic abilities of a peepal tree, she looks like the last person one would want to marry. But then, there are the suitors.

All of them from UP and Bihar, each of them looking like pedophiles or closet serial killers. They went about the motions, singing for her, and dancing for her, and digging new depths of tackiness with every episode. There is so much dumbness flying around, it is impossible to miss. Finally, she chose one of the guys, and they smiled as flowers fell from above.

I wonder who they will take next season (Oh yes, there will be another season). Barely being able to conceal my anticipation, I have made a list of eligible bachelors for the next season, and duly mentioned why their candidature deems your kind consideration.

Baba Ramdev: Firstly, there is the R factor (Rakhi, Rahul, Ratan, Ramdev) that works in his favour. There is no doubt left in anyone’s mind that Baba Ramdev is in for the big things in Indian politics. A teetotaler devoid of any bad habits, Baba Ramdev is an ideal candidate, a person deeply rooted in our rich culture. The girl marrying him is ensured of a long, fertile life, thanks to the cures Baba has for cancer, AIDS, homosexuality etc. There’s no need to cook regularly as well, as Baba has shown he prefers ‘fast’ food. The recently purchased island in Scotland is yet another clincher.

Ravinder Jadeja: In the dowry market, a cricketer is a BMW. The bride is ensured of lot of time spent together, as the groom will be busy for only a month a year (and max two months, if the team qualifies for the Champions’ League). He has shown he has a keen head over his shoulders, as the bargaining for higher pay episode showed. Firmly committed and grounded, Jadeja is not the kind to run away from responsibilities. He never runs. Not even when there are three fucking runs needed when India is chasing Australia.

Rahul Gandhi: A few weeks back, just while Manmohan Singh convinced the nation through a press interview that he was not a lameduck PM, Digvijay Singh announced that Rahul is ready to become the PM. If being a cricketer is a BMW in the marriage market, being a Gandhi family son is Ravana’s Pushpa Vimana itself. Impeccably dressed in white, Rahul is no stranger to the camera. He is on the TV everyday, entering homes of the poor, wiping their tears and hugging them – a reality show producer’s wet dream. It could also be the perfect platform for the 2014 Prime Ministerial candidature, and the Congress party could sponsor the show, changing their election symbol – to make it a hand, with mehendi applied to it.


Santhakumaran Psychopanth:
Our own Sreesanth needs a homely girl from God’s own country. He needs someone to tell him to relax, someone to tell him that sledging at the batsman, even if he is from Bangladesh, could result in 24 runs an over. He needs a calming influence so that he doesn’t blow away matches with his weird antics. As a person, he is first rate, albeit a little over-enthusiastic. But that can be controlled, as there have been instances when players got irritated with him, slapped him, and then called him their brother the next week. Nothing serious.


Mukesh Khanna
: Way back in 1989, a 27 year old Mukesh Khanna stormed into the lives of Indians as the 137 year old Bheeshm Pitamah. While in the serial Bheeshm swore to the heavens never to marry, Mukesh Khanna, known to be an actor who took his roles seriously, did not marry in real life. It would be the ultimate scoop if the channel could get Bheeshm himself to a Swayamwar. They could get him to dress up in his Bheeshm attire as well, for that added effect. Here, one must not forget that Khanna is more than just Bheeshm – he is Shaktimaan. India’s first superhero, and the world’s first Superhero with a paunch. As Shaktimaan, Khanna protected the nation from missiles, evil emperors, and natural disasters every Saturday at 11 AM. Surely the man needs to settle down with a homely wife, it’s about time.

Lalit Modi: Lalit Modi is a total dude. He floated the IPL singlehandedly, earned billions, and when caught, flew to another country, and sent a 10,000 page reply that was carried in four huge cartons. From there, he formed the Sri Lankan Premier League, forcing the BCCI to piss in its pants, and ban the tournament from taking place. Modi guarantees a life of extravagance, and his love for fast cars and exotic ties makes him a valuable candidate. But more than everything, if he is signed for the show, he could do the organizing himself. Get each suitor sponsored by a corporate houses, and introduce Karbonn Kamaal Catch and DLF Maximums in the show.


Kamaal R. Khan:
(Link to video) Having nothing else to say, I rest my case.

Bye, cycle. My cycle..

I was in the third standard, and selections for the Annual Sports and Cultural Meet were going on. There were rumours that there were going to be brand new cycles for a cycle drill. The bikes were BSA Mongoose, sleek and quick. Practice meant riding the cycle for hours a day. It was great fun. Not for me, of course.

I was in a stupid drill called ‘Horse and Stars’, because I didn’t know how to cycle. This innovative drill involved running around in formations with a stick-horse in between my legs, and huge, golden stars pasted on each of my palms. It was humiliating to say the least.

I finally learnt to ride a bicycle pretty late – around my 5th standard. It was a maroon BSA Ladybird that belonged to my sister. Though the cycle must have weighed a total of 15 kilos, it was everything for me. I first learnt to ride it ‘half-pedal’, and then ‘full-pedal’, and then while sitting on the seat. I still remember the feeling when I was convinced I could ride it. The ecstatic feeling of balancing on your own wheels.

Soon, it became a mad obsession. I would do the rounds of the colony, on my BSA Ladybird, in an imaginary world of my own. Sometimes I was Agniputra Abhay with the magical bike, other times I was a hero being chased by goons, and on some romantic evenings, I’d imagine I was carrying a senior from school on the carriage behind – I would ride slowly then. My first accident with a cycle happened soon after.

It was in the afternoon, and I was on the road near a chaurasta. I was imagining that it was the last ball of a cricket match, and Ajay Jadeja and Robin Singh are in the crease, and they have to steal a quick single. So lost was I in the imaginary match, that I failed to see the vehicles in front of me. Not one, but two of them. So I ended up bending the rims of both the wheels, one by a scooter, and another by a bike.

Now, Ladybirds are no Royal Enfields. They are just Domestic Dandies. Both the rims having bent in the nail-biting finish to the match, I had to part-drag, part-carry the cycle back home. I was welcomed with the choicest abuses, and Ladybird was caged in the house. That was probably the last time I rode that cycle.I had never had a bicycle since.

Now the thing is that the University of Hyderabad’s campus is one fucking huge campus. When I first joined it, I made decisions to jog to the college in the mornings, and jog back after classes. All good, except that the distance is seven bloody kilometers. Aptly titled J&K hostels, they are in the other end of the campus. If you do not have a bike, you have to have a bicycle. Or make sad faces and wait for lifts, hoping someone will drop you somewhere on the way.

Keeping these factors in mind, I decided to buy a bicycle. I went to this shop, suspiciously named ‘Peddlars’ Point’, and asked him for bicycles. He showed me a few. From the Postman wala Atlas to the modern snazzy ones. I finally boiled down on one. It was a cool silver Hercules Ultima DX 6 gear bicycle. I remember riding back to the room, with the same feeling of ecstacy that came with the ladybird. On the way back, I remember re-committing myself towards a fitter life, and that this was a beginning for new things to come.

They say, you can take the horse to the river, but you can’t make it drink water. Similarly, you can buy yourself a bicycle, but you cannot stop being a lazy bastard. So I would wake up, realise there were 15 minutes left for class, and rush to Vamshi’s room below, and go on his scooter.

I did use the cycle once in a while, like the time when KSS came over one evening. There was a film screening at the auditorium and we planned to go there. We had also planned to have some rum, and passed out with flying colours. Also, the film was ‘Poison’, and so there were, the two of us. Drunk and horny, and riding on a bicycle to the auditorium.

You would have seen gruesome bike accidents on AXN or youtube, ours was the lamest accident ever. Just two drunk guys, riding, and toppling over. While we got up, and dusted and laughed about it, my cycle was hardly amused. The handlebar turned upside down, the bell stopped ringing, and random loose screws resulted in me making a chhang-chhang sound wherever I went.

There is something about us human beings, imperfections make our hearts grow fonder. I repaired my cycle, and started spending more time with it. I took it to college, to the Sports Complex, and for other chores. One day, I left it near the small gate, properly locked, about thirty feet from the security post. The next morning, my cycle was missing.

I was sad that I had not used it enough. That I had not been a good owner to the cycle, and that I had expected even an iota of alertness and brains in the security guards. I looked for it for days, in secret couple hangouts, dumpyards, and obscure parking spots, but I never found it.

As a final desperate gesture, I put up the following poster at different spots around the university.

I got some appreciation, some criticism, and an SMS telling me that the University was not my father’s, to use the f word. But I didn’t get my cycle.

So, dear cycle. If you haven’t been dismantled and sold in parts at the Chor Bazaar in Dhoolpet already, I hope you are good.

I hope your new owner is treating you well. And I hope you are spicing up his life too, with the little surprises you used to spring on me.

Like making a quick turn in front of a hot chick, and suddenly realising the brake is not working. Or pedalling vigorously uphill, only to have the chain snap.

Hope you’re giving him the real pleasure of riding a cycle.