Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Beauty of a Morning Joint

Isn’t it amazing?

We choose to pursue one activity all our lives, to put food in our belly, a shelter over our heads, and clothes on our body.

And that one activity determines how we spend all of our days. When we wake up, how we have our food, when we rush off to ‘work’. When we choose that one activity, we pretty much choose how we lead our lives.

And that is how our mornings go – rushing, pushing, jostling, bustling. We spend the nights in the way we choose to – spending time and money to blur consciousness, making love to a book, or wandering about the dark underbelly of the World Wide Web.

And yet, no matter how much of a rebel you are – you cannot evade the military discipline of your mornings. We have made mornings the most frustrating time of the day – people are either in a hurry, or irritable, or both.

 

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I have always been a morning person.

No matter when I sleep, when the sun is out, my dreams go into Sleep mode, my eyes open, and I am up in a matter of minutes. It used to seem unfair to me – that I should wake up and go about my tasks, while my friend who had the same number of drinks, was still lying blissfully in a Natraja pose.

I considered using my mornings for constructive work – going for a run, hitting the gym, or doing some yoga. But some of us aren’t equipped like that. If all the lazy men of the world were made to stand in a line, I would be the drunk hippo meandering in the meadows nearby.

Listening to music always seemed like an interesting option – but having to pick one song after the other on Youtube squeezes the joy out of the experience. And so I would wander about like a zombie in the mornings, full of energy, and nothing to do about it.

Till I chanced upon the most beautiful creation by man – the Morning Joint.

welovetheherb

*

 

A Morning Joint helps you pull back time; to stretch it out at your ease.

A Morning Joint helps you gently jump over clocks and alarms, schedules and tasks – even if for a brief, magical while.

A Morning Joint sets your day up for you in a way that the most accomplished secretary couldn’t. You can zoom in, edit the details, or zoom out, and look at the larger picture.

A Morning Joint takes you back to the very reason we created music. As I type this, my neighbour is playing Bombay Se Gayi Patna, and I can notice the intricate chord changes in the song.

It is an unshackling of your chains – a trip to revisit that song from childhood. Or to watch that video you tripped on, when you didn’t know what it meant.

A Morning Joint is a date with Bob Dylan, a coffee with Robert Plant, it is a conversation with Carl Sagan, a smile with Carlin.

Your brain – that crazed kid on steroids that is running about all day, decides to slip off its slippers and lie down on the grass. A Morning Joint gives you a head-start in the day. A gentle nudge, like a friend tipping you into a swimming pool after a couple of beers.

It’s not the same as lighting up a cigarette. A cigarette is a commodity, a factory-made product that’s sold in packs, and taxed by the government. When you smoke a cigarette, you are merely contributing to the economy.

A joint is hand-crafted. Mixed, measured, blended, rolled to perfection. When you roll a joint, you are using your hands and your mind – you are creating a piece of art.

Have your Morning Joint alone. There is no pressure to talk, to explain, to describe. To agree, or conform. It is Your Time.

The Morning Joint is that little indulgence your life allows you. A chance to take a piece of the 24-hour pie we are all served, and bite into it, and feel the taste flowing into you.

A Morning Joint is a thing of beauty.

As I light it up, and the sun streams in through my window, I have nothing else to say.

Have a wonderful day!

Why Is Aamir Khan Such a Pretentious Prick

Once upon a time in India, Lagaan released.

The film was a smash hit, was sent as our choice for the Oscars (but couldn’t win, as the jury grew old and died during the interval) and Aamir Khan suddenly became the thinking man’s conscience. The guy who would never attend film awards because he didn’t believe in them, suddenly seemed to be jumping up and down the red carpet, promoting his film. But of course, he was doing it for the nation.

When Lagaan lost out to No Man’s Land, Aamir Khan told the press that the other film deserved to win. When I saw it, said Khan, I knew that it was better than ours. From that moment on, Aamir Khan has somehow projected and marketed himself as the voice of the nation/youth/continent/solar system.

And it’s fucking annoying.

*

Alright, so he chooses to do one movie at a time, reads his scripts, and does extensive preparation for it. But all that is fucking expected from an actor in the first place. Just because ours is a hare-brained industry, doesn’t make someone a goddamn Socrates.

A few months before the release of Rang De Basanti, Aamir Khan sat with the Narmada Bachao Andolan protesters to speak up for their rights. Since then, there has been no word of his involvement with the issue whatsoever.

He then made a film on Mangal Pandey, and has been on a Bhagat Singh trip since, telling the nation what’s right, and what’s offensive. In Taare Zameen Par, he showed us how we are all a cruel, insensitive nation that doesn’t know how to deal with special children. In 3 Idiots, he showed us what is wrong with our education system. In PK, he showed us the problems with religion and godmen.

And tactful and insightful that our media is, we made him the voice of the nation. Aamir Khan tells the nation not to litter. Aamir Khan tells the nation to be nice to foreigners.

Aamir Khan is a thinking man. How? Because all his films have long shots of him staring into the distance, thinking about the welfare of the cosmos. Aamir Khan is a perfectionist. Why? Because he undergoes a physical transformation for every role (which, as any theatre actor will tell you, is the fucking basic thing to do. Also, he gets paid crores for every film). Aamir Khan is a socially aware star. How? Because he blogs about issues.

However, as we all know, even Vishwamitra’s penance was disturbed. So Aamir Khan, the ever-aware thinking man’s Gautam Buddha slipped out of character and blogged about Shah Rukh Khan licking his toes while he sat on his table.

And of course, there is Satyameva Jayate. Now, I personally have no problems with the show. A star like Aamir Khan talking about issues that we Indians never bother to speak about, is commendable. Kudos.

I also have no problem with him projecting himself as this new-age Carl Shehnanigan who tells the nation how to live – much of an actor’s image comes from this. It is no different from Salman Khan being the large-hearted bhai, Ranveer Singh being a horny guy, and Honey Singh the nation’s Mahalingam. I have no problems with that.

satyameva jayate

Look at my tears…so pure, so pristine. Just like my soul. Which is pure white. Just like the clouds there. I am the sun. Sun and clouds. Deep.

My only problem is with Aamir Khan’s opinions on other artists. You see, Mr. Perfectionist doesn’t give a fuck about other artists. His work is sublime and pure and unadulterated and heavenly. The rest can go fuck themselves.

amir-stya1

Can you see the concern in my eyes? No? Well, that’s none of my concern. I am sensitive. I hope you can sense my sensitivity.

Take for example the controversy regarding 3 Idiots.

Now, even though Chetan Bhagat is the Rakhi Sawant of Indian literature, he wrote the book and sold millions, and no one can take that away from him. If you’ve read 5 Point Someone, and watched 3 Idiots, and you possess the IQ of a garden lizard, you’ll know that the film is more or less an adaptation of the book. However, since it is Bollywood (and fuck writers!), Bhagat wasn’t given opening credits. He raked up the issue and Vidhu Vinod Chopra asked a journalist to ‘Shut Up’. Which is at least an honest response.

Mr. Khan, however, using his special 8th Sense, somehow had it all figured out. He told Bhagat off in public, calling him a cheapskate who will do anything for publicity. Which is fine, till someone asked him if he’s read the book. To which his response was – ‘Ahem, no.’

How the fuck do you know that it isn’t an adaptation, if you haven’t even read the goddamn book? But Aamir Khan, yo. Intellectual actor.

When he released Delhi Belly, he appeared on Aap Ki Adalat (that classy, artful show with a completely non-creepy looking host), and justified the language in the film. His logic was, the youth of the nation today talk in that manner. If you can not stand such language, please don’t watch the film. All good.

Now, the AIB controversy. Since our media has no fucking work, they went and asked Aamir Khan, the brahmaguru of wisdom, what he thought. Aamir Khan first looked at the sky, blinked seven times, sipped some water, and then gave out his thoughts. That the show was offensive, hurt people’s sentiments, blah blah blah.

But then, here’s the key – HE HASN’T WATCHED THE FUCKING SHOW.

If you haven’t watched the show, and someone randomly told you there were jokes on body shape, sexuality, and religion without providing any context, it’s the partial truth. You’re like the blind man of Hindustan who held the elephant’s ass and thought that’s what an elephant looks like.

But no. Aamir Khan ko kaun samjhaye? He is the voice of the cosmos.

The universe works in perfect motion because he approves of it. Every time Aamir Khan sheds a tear, a kid in Africa gets cured of AIDS.

It’s bloody annoying.

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Dear Aamir Khan, This isn’t the 60s. Where you could do a few patriotic movies and become a national hero. The audience you deal with is thirty years younger to you, a completely different generation.

They understand subtleties, read between the lines, and can tell an actor from a chutiya. Just because you did regressive shit for 20 years, and suddenly conscience struck you like lightning, doesn’t mean the rest of the nation is a bunch of chimpanzees.

Also, like Russel Peters said, you are an actor. You appear on the set, mouth lines written by others, get numerous takes to perfect your craft, and get paid a bomb for it. Which is all fine.

But just like you’re an artist, there are others too. Who are attempting to make an honest living by pursuing what they think is art. If you really are an artist, at least have the fucking decency to look up their work before commenting.

Like I said, you’re not fooling anybody. This is a generation that sees through bullshit. And right now, for all your decades of carefully constructed PR, you come across as an aging douchebag.

I hope you aren’t offended by this blog. But if you are, I hope you at least read it before getting offended.

 

The 2015 ICC Cricket Old Cup

The World Cup that begins today feels like a birthday that comes close on the heels of a wedding.

I do not feel the surge of excitement that I did for the earlier World Cups.

It’s strange how World Cups have acted as pegs to hang my memories on. Any particular year I think of, its association is deeply embedded with the nearest world cup. World Cups have acted as bookmarks in my mind, sorting things out, giving me a quick recap of what was what.

I began following cricket from the 1996 World Cup.

Before the Wills World Cup, memories of cricket are hazy. Cricketers dressed in white, playing cricket on a hot afternoon – Shastri and Kapil and Srikkanth. A few television ads for Dinesh Suitings and Palmolive Shaving Cream.

The Wills World Cup got me hooked to the game.

I was in Primary School, and didn’t watch a single match in the entire tournament. Yet I got my information from two sources – letters from home with updates about India’s matches. And a teacher named Shruti Raja.

She taught us Maths, and was one of those rare Maths teachers who didn’t try to pull out your appendix if you didn’t know 7 Table. She regaled us with stories of her trips to Paris, and bubble-baths that she enjoyed, and other colourful tales that caused mayhem in my mind.

During the World Cup, she would give us updates about the matches. It was the first time I heard the names Azhar, Tendulkar, Jadeja – my first heroes. The passing of information was very basic. She would walk into the class and announce – “Boys, India won the match”.

Yay!! An eruption of cheers followed, even if the only thing we knew about the situation was that we belonged to India.

She would then add some frugal details, like “Srinath took four wickets”, or “Jadeja scored a fifty”, which was followed by more cheers.

But I had no idea about the format, the counties that played in the tournament, or what the World Cup actually was. It was when I went home that year and found an Outlook 96 World Cup special that my interest in cricket was born.

It was a beautiful edition – pictures and articles and team profiles and opinion pieces. I remember going through each and every team profile, and I could tell you all the players from all the teams. It was like a magical Hogwarts book, a world I could dive into when I wanted.

I brought the magazine back with me to school. I began playing cricket, following it through The Hindu, and generally fantasising about sharing the dressing room with Sachin Tendulkar one day.

That time when Bengalis behaved like Khap Panchayats.

That time when Bengalis behaved like Khap Panchayats.

1999 World Cup : Teenage was arriving at the horizon. Along with pimples, sly thoughts of the sexual kind, and a generally more holistic knowledge of cricket, the 1999 world cup gave me a glimpse of what cricket meant to Indians.

It was the time of Indipop music. Of Come On India, Dikhado…duniya ko hilado. It was also the time when Britannia ran its extensive Britannia Khao World Cup Jao (Passport kya tera baap dega) Offer.

The company from Hungerford Street had decided to tempt gullible young cricket fanatics like me into gulping down packets after packets of biscuits and cakes with the hope of going to England to watch the world cup.

Like an idiot, I fell for it. Any money I saved was spent on Tiger biscuits. I’d eat those shitty biscuits, telling myself it would all be worth it when I meet Deba in London and discuss the nuances of cricket with him.

The 99 World Cup was also the first time I learnt that sports was not just about following a team playing a sport. It was about pain and anguish and hurt and disappointment. Shortly after the world cup, the match fixing scandal broke out. Azhar, my hero, was shamed in front of the entire world. I remember shedding a few tears in a particularly delicate moment. I remember feeling aghast, wondering what sort of a person would do something like that.

The 99 World Cup also taught me that we take cricket very seriously. But teenage was knocking on the door, and I pushed cricket out of my mind, and rushed to open the door.

A picture of the Australian team with the World Cup.

A picture of the Australian team with the World Cup.

2003 World Cup: This was my Angry Young Kid phase. I think the phase is called Intermediate because at that age, all of us are intermediaries between donkeys and real, thinking adolescents.

I had issues with people, ran away from home, and took up work and residence at a small PCO booth cum travel agency in the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. The PCO booth was located in front of a leprosy colony, and a shady basti called Prem Nagar where eloped love birds built their nests.

Which meant a strange motley crew of people who came in to watch the match on the tiny black and white television. Drunkards, children with fingers missing, teenage mothers holding children with permanently running noses, drunkards, alms-seekers, drivers, and drunkards.

I’d finish school, go back by the school bus, take off my uniform and sneak into my secret dual life. I watched each and every match of that tournament (except Scotland vs UAE sort of matches, for which the guy would never lend his TV).

During the final, I watched with horror as Ganguly chose to bowl after winning the toss. I looked away as tears welled up in my eyes when Sachin lofted a mishit shot off McGrath. I played fervently as rain poured in briefly in the middle overs. I went to bed that night, Sachin’s words ringing in my ears like gigantic cymbals – “I’m happy to receive this award, but I’d have been happier had we won the tournament.”

Another picture of the Australian team with the World Cup.

Another picture of the Australian team with the World Cup.

2007 World Cup: By this time, cynicism had creeped into my system like a virus that originates in Africa and spreads its tentacles to Switzerland. Hurt as I was from India’s disheartening show in the previous outing, I was too scared to invest any emotions into this edition.

Somehow, my feelings seemed to resonate with the Indian cricket team as well. Most of the stars seemed drugged, we lost matches to smaller teams, and didn’t even qualify for the India-Pakistan match in the second round.

Between shitty jobs and scabby relationships, I spent a few hours every day watching the matches, but my heart was looking forward to the sun sinking. And then, when the clock struck 6, I’d rush out to have Bhang. And as the hostel swam in a slow, steady motion, I sat on the cot and looked at the world and smiled.

The 2007 World Cup had nothing going for it. The matches seemed like they were being played in a local park. The commentary was drab, the matches seemed like friendly encounters, a coach was killed mysteriously in the middle of the tournament. It was almost as if the World Cup itself was embarrassed by what was going on.

I couldn’t care less.

2007

2011 World Cup: There has been enough said about the 2011 World Cup. Of how the stage was set to perfection. India matches on weekends, an India-Pakistan semi-final where 5 catches were dropped off a single batsman by the name of Sachin Tendulkar. A final at Mumbai, a six to finish the match.

Much of the World Cup passed by in a drunken, smoky stupor. Old Monk from the local store (you could still find it in Hyderabad at the time), and top notch pot from Dhoolpet, friends with flats where you could drink like Ravana and pass out like Kumbhakarna.

This time, I fell for the blitz. I hummed the tournament’s catchy tune, created my Fantasy team and rooted for them. On the day of the semi-final, I had to drop off my ex-girlfriend at the airport. I was getting messages from friends about Sehwag taking on the Pakistani bowlers, and the trip to the airport and back would take a good two hours.

As she looked at me with her lovely doe eyes, I told her I couldn’t do it. I asked her to go to the airport by herself. I have often questioned myself if I did the right thing. If I was a selfish bastard. If things would have turned out otherwise…

But when I reached the room and saw Sehwag belt five fours off an Umar Gul over, I forgot about everything and settled in front of the television.

When Dhoni hit the final six, I felt a sense of calm. I felt vindicated for all the years I had invested in the sport. All the hours defending Sachin Tendulkar against morons who considered Ganguly to be the greatest Indian cricketer. The hours spent hunting for the score, the awkward hanging around paan shops to watch the match after buying a packet of Tiger biscuits for three rupees.

I had invested so much in the sport, and it all came together beautifully when Sachin was hoisted on top of his teammates’ shoulders. I ran downstairs to the streets and found people dancing. I joined them and danced, in spite of my two left Jeetendra feet.

I watched as a crazy fan waving an India flag jumped on to the back of an APSRTC bus. But time, tide, and APSRTC buses wait for none, and the man had to come walking back an hour later, the spring in his step lost somewhere near Jubilee Hills.

I drank myself to sleep and crashed some time in the night. Cricket had given me back everything I had given it.

2011 WC

Sreesanth be like ‘Eeeeee, now let me fix matches in the IPL heeheehee’. Gandu saala!

2015 World Cup: This time around, I am too old to do it.

I can’t take the glossy advertising campaigns, the stupid jingoism associated with every cricket world cup. I can’t take the Pakistan-bashing, the lame jokes, the waking up early and sleeping late to catch each and every match. I can’t take two nine-hour matches everyday, and the gigantic dhobi-bundle of statistics that every World Cup dumps on my head.

I am too old for that shit.

This year, I’ll be watching cricket for the sake of the game. I will pick and choose games that I like, irrespective of whether India is playing in them or not.

I love tournaments played in Australia. The commentary is better, the stadiums are beautiful, the ball bounces up to a good level. There are spectators lazing about, drinking beer, running to catch the ball, laughing heartily when it slips right through their hands.

I am going to watch the tournament like that pot-bellied Australian you see on the screen – sipping his beer, waving his hand, drunk out of his wits.

I am going to support South Africa and New Zealand. If India wins, good. If it doesn’t, too bad.

I remember this one particular man who would walk in to watch the matches in Munna Travels (where I watched the 2003 World Cup). He would sit at the back, stoic and composed, indulging in a smile every once in a while when he saw us go berserk. I would wonder how he could watch the match so passively.

I am that guy now. I will sit back and smile.

You are free to go crazy.

I have retired as a cricket fan. Let the youngsters have their fun.

***

Roast Roast Na Raha…

Even while watching the AIB show, I was taking guesses as to which jokes would piss off what kind of people of.

There’ll be the saffron idiots who would take offence to jokes on sex and penis and vagina (because they were born by rubbing two logs of wood, adding ghee and setting fire to the yagna). Then there would be those who would whine about respecting parents and family and not exceeding lines.

And when Tanmay Bhat cracked the joke on Modi, a few million Modi fans pausing the video, signing out, and moving on to Niticentral to obtain some quality knowledge on India and the world.

Whether the show was funny, if abuse was necessary, or if the gender and colour jokes were required – can be debated endlessly. But one cannot deny that the show was much needed in a nation like ours, where we have kamandalus stuck up our asses when it comes to swearwords.

The entire debate on swearwords in India is skewed in Ashtavakra ways. Elders ask youngsters not to abuse, and yet we have all seen our fathers with their friends – a few stray ones spill out before they realise you’re in the room. We are fine with racist jokes – chinki, madrasi, sardar – and yet, a motherchod is blasphemous.

Among friends, abuse and swearwords are accepted, but only among them that belong to what we like to call ‘close friends’. Swearing is seen as cheap and classless in native languages, while tossing around the F word (if you are fluent in English) is neo-cool.

And don’t even get me started on humour.

As a nation, we might have achieved many things. A sense of humour is not among them.

We have a fucked up notion of what’s funny, and anybody who doesn’t toe the line can go fuck himself fly a kite. Look at our films, for example.

The joke is always on fat, gay, goofish people. Go through the list of Indian cinema’s greatest comic actors, and they are all oddball characters who are either fat, or short, or dark – the kind who clowns around, gets bashed up by the hero, gets drunk and sings a song – that’s our idea of funny. Even in mythology, there are very few instances of people making fun of the other, and they end with gruesome consequences – Draupadi mocks Duryodhana and sparks a war; Shishupala mocks Krishna and is shown the finger – from which a shiny Sudarshan chakra appears.

A joke is supposed to be cracked on someone stupid, or evil. But good people should never be mocked. It is alright to laugh at Rahul Gandhi, but not at Narendra Modi. Somewhere deep within our psyches, we have come to relate a joke not as a harmless taunt, but as a grave, personal insult.

A GUIDE TO WHAT YOU CAN JOKE ABOUT IN INDIA

                   CAN JOKE ABOUT                CAN’T JOKE ABOUT
Rahul Gandhi Narendra Modi
Sreesanth Sachin Tendulkar
Congress/AAP supporters BJP supporters
Ravana Rama
Sardars Marathis
Arvind Kejriwal Narendra Modi
Pakistan India
Jesus Allah You Know Who

As the show came to an end, I knew these guys were in trouble.

And I wasn’t wrong. If there is one thing we have developed as a nation – it is our predictability.

MNS, that rogue party that beats up people from other states, threatened to boycott Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh’s films. An ex-Censor Board chairman published a comment that deserves a Pulitzer Award for the greatest Tweet written by a penis. There was general hue and cry about aping Western culture.

And then people went back to watching Comedy Nights with Kapil, that artful show which has the most sensitive, tasteful jokes this side of Syria.

But what can I expect when we are ruled by a party that believes in controlling culture and morals along with CRR ratios and currency rates?

Which is when I realised the masterstroke!

We, the unfunny, smug nation that we are, deserve this.

We will whine and complain and crib, while All India Bakchod will rake in the money.

Their show will be downloaded on Torrentz, performances will sell out to packed audiences. Every time a politician cries foul about declining morals, a teenager will light up a joint and laugh her lungs out.

The joke, truly, is on us.