Monthly Archives: December 2015

2015

Goodbye, 2015! You shitty, shitty year.

Sometimes, you can predict the fortunes of a year, by looking at the first few days of the year.

2015 began on a terrible note, as I blew away the most perfect relationship, chasing a frivolous fling. I should have known. 1999 had begun like this too. It was the year I gave up on Raveena Tandon and mistakenly assumed Rani Mukherjee could be the love of my life.

As you might have guessed, I was horribly wrong.

As the year comes to an end, and I look at everything the year brought with it, I can safely say that it was a shitty, shitty year. Pick a domain, and you’ll realise what a shitty year it has been.

SPORTS: There was hardly a memorable event in all of the year. Yes, Sania Mirza won a few events with Martina Hingis,  she can go to Pakistan. Screw you, Sania! , but it was hardly something that got me excited. Saina Nehwal won two tournaments in India and was the runner-up for three events, but Indians care about the sport as much as Bajirao cared about Kashibai, so no point discussing that.

Cricket in 2015 was equally depressing. Something told me we were never going to retain the World Cup, and apart from the bleak reminder that four years have passed, the 2015 World Cup held no special importance whatsoever. And honestly, expecting India to win a World Cup in Australia is like expecting Mithun Chakroborty to ace the AIEEE exam.

India played Sri Lanka yet again in a Test series. I sometimes feel the Indian cricket board is like an alcoholic, and the Sri Lankan team a bottle of Jack Daniels. Every time you think they’ll kick the habit, they organise yet another tour to Sri Lanka.

CINEMA: Honestly, I was looking forward to quite a few films this year, and none of them blew my mind away, except for Masaan. What a film! What writing!! Varun Grover, take a bow. And some arrows. And shoot Aditya Chopra.

Most other films were all padded-bra, no boob (I coined that term, yes). In comparison, I still feel 2007 was the best year for cinema-viewing for me. It was a year I could walk into theatres without a care in the world, and most of my gambles paid off (Also, Bhubaneswar and Bhang, so yeah).

NEWS AND MEDIA: Most of the year was consumed by the Islamic State. Those guys are such assholes, they put the ISIS in CRISIS.

If 2014 was a case of the Nation waving a gigantic middle finger at the media, 2015 didn’t make the relationship any better. Time and again, Times of India, the shining beacon of journalism, proved that we as a nation will consume anything thrown at us.

Indrani Mukherjee’s sixth husband’s seventh sperm found jogging in a park? Bring it on! Bollywood actress posts a pic of herself in a bikini, yup, that’s crucial information. Why do you think students are committing suicide in Kota?

On the ‘getting high’ front, 2015 wasn’t great either. I got drunk a few times, but ended up going back to my room and feeling like Hari Singh after he helped Thakur with his morning ablutions.

The pot wasn’t great in 2015, and Lakshmi-Shiva-Durga refused to meet me all of this year.

On a personal front, 2015 sucked donkey balls too. I did the least amount of writing this year, and even though my stand up career witnessed a minor fillip, there wasn’t too much to show. Three beautiful women walked out of my life this year, and sadly, I don’t think I have learnt any tangible lessons from the events.

2015 saw the least number of posts on my blog, barely nine short stories, and an unpublished manuscript.

In many ways, 2015 reminds me a lot of 1999. I was a sexually frustrated teenager grappling with reality and illusion back then. I’m a frustrated adult, grappling with reality and illusion now.

Overall, it wasn’t a year that I am going to miss. You can go fuck yourself, 2015.

1892_ayyappa-hd-wallpaper-04

The Dark Lord

Rajesh’s biggest fear in life was sex.

It is difficult to imagine, yes. Throughout history, sex has driven men to outrageous lengths. It has made men build monuments for women they weren’t sure they loved. Sex drove billions of men around the world to do unreasonable things.

But sex was J. Rajesh’s biggest fear in life.

It is difficult to figure out exactly why and how sex became his biggest fear, but when J. Rajesh sat down sometimes in solitude to think things over, he realised it must have been that day in the second year of graduation.

We all have that one day in our lives when we realise truths about ourselves. A fancy dress that reveals that our parents aren’t rich, an encounter with a girl when she smiles politely at you. For J. Rajesh, it was that fated Wednesday.

It was a regular day by all means. He had woken up to get ready for college, and as he finished his bath and looked at himself in the mirror to comb his hair, the truth hit him like a cannonball – he was ugly.

It was the first time he had really looked at himself in the mirror. Most times, we aren’t looking at ourselves, we are looking at the person we want to be. A facial expression here, a tilt of the head there, and we look at ourselves for two seconds and move on with life.

But as J. Rajesh looked at himself in the mirror, the reality struck him like a ton of bricks. He looked at his nose, long and thick, and how it stuck out on his pale face, and how his hair – thin and wispy – fell lazily into whatever direction he chose for the day.

It wasn’t a sudden epiphany. Just a slow, steady realisation that dawned upon him as he combed his hair, and stayed in his head for the rest of his life. Ten years down the line, the thought had grown into an ogre in his head, and it determined how he lived his life, how he made his decisions. It was the reason he avoided company, it was the reason he stayed at home when his friends called him over to drink. It was the reason he stopped watching films, for he knew the leaps of fascination that they encouraged were far out of his reach.

But as his family finalised his wedding to Sukanya, the fear in his heart struck him a final blow. He had to work around the problem.

*

All his life, J. Rajesh had had friends who went out with girls.

He hated being the silent, quiet, bespectacled friend. He wanted to be the cool friend – the guy who cracked the funniest jokes, the guy who brought friends together at parties. But since the day he had seen himself in the mirror, his outlook of life had changed.

He had stayed quiet through much of his life, looking at girls from a distance, smiling if they spoke to him, and vanishing from the scene quickly. He sometimes wondered what his life would have been if he hadn’t looked at himself in the mirror on that Wednesday afternoon, but he knew no other way of looking at life.

As life sprinted across him, college came to an end and the ‘friends’ he had laid so much importance on, moved on with their lives. They would talk to each other once in a while, but it didn’t take J. Rajesh long to realise that they were all running their own races.

His friends would often speak condescendingly about arranged marriages. They would often tease him saying ‘What do you have to worry about? Your father will get you a bride and a hefty dowry!’ But he didn’t get what his friends had against the institution of fixing matches for children. The way he looked at it, it was the same system that forbade him from approaching women, and the system owed him something in return – that something was a marriage.

Life had moved on since college and J. Rajesh had taken a position as a junior project manager in his office. After working for three years, his parents found him a girl. He had met her once, and learned that her name was Sukanya, but he couldn’t speak to her too much.

Partly because he was shy. But mostly because Sukanya was way prettier than he had expected.

When his parents had told him that they had found a pretty girl for him, Rajesh assumed they were merely being polite. In the manner that Indian families call fat girls as ‘healthy’, he assumed she must just be a regular girl.

But it was when he saw Sukanya for the first that the predicament struck him. She was dusky, with eyes that shone like there was molten coal in them. She was draped in a saree that showed off her features, and when she smiled flashing her teeth, Rajesh blushed and looked down at his toes.

He imagined what his friends would have said if he went out with her in college. In his college days, Sukanya would have been an 8 on 10, a definite catch among the guys. Their plan would entail befriending her friend and then attempting to get to know her.

Rajesh wasted no time in informing his parents that he was OK with the match. When he went back to his room, he looked at himself in the mirror once again, after all these years.

‘You’re an ugly bastard’, he told himself, ‘but you’re a lucky bastard’.

And it was at that very moment, like a bolt of lightning on a warm winter afternoon, his biggest fear came back to strike him.

Rajesh’s biggest fear in life was sex.

*

As he tore the chapathis in his tiffin box during lunch, Rajesh wondered how sex had become his biggest fear.

It was probably the stories his friends told him – of unreal conquests, of girls who wanted more every single time – the stories were all probably bullshit, but that wasn’t the point.

It was probably all the porn he had watched – black men with penises longer than his arm – and the way the women’s eyes lit up when they undressed. He remembered going back to his room to measure his own penis, and the results saddened him like Shah Jahan on his deathbed.

It was probably because he had waited for love to strike him unexpectedly, to sweep him off his feet. It was probably the slow realisation that it was never going to happen, as every girl he mustered the courage to smile at seemed to look right through him.

And as he scooped up the remains of the aloo curry with the last piece of chapathi, a thought struck him. A plan that would help his case.

Lord Ayappa, at that moment, became his favourite God.

*

When Rajesh’s cousins came visiting during holidays, their grandfather would narrate stories of gods. Each of them had a favourite god, and Rajesh’s favourite god was Hanuman. He liked the adventurous streak in Hanuman, and all the stories ended with a huge climactic fight.

With a quick apology to Lord Hanuman, Rajesh began working out the plan that involved Lord Ayappa.

Among South Indians, Ayappa Deeksha is a 41 day long ritual that involves celibacy of the highest level. Rajesh had seen the followers a number of times – walking barefoot, dressed completely in black, addressing everybody around them ‘Swami’.

He had heard about the rules from a friend, and as the beautiful plan found shape in his head, he smiled and thanked Lord Ayappa.

His parents had begun finalising the date for his wedding. The initial plan was for September, but he cited office-related reasons, and it was pushed further ahead. Finally, the family pundit found a date mid October, and when Rajesh learnt about it, he smiled and thanked Lord Ayappa in his head once again.

As the date grew nearer, the house began to transform into a mental asylum. Relatives dropped in, children began running from here to there. Clothes, jewellery, food, and utensils were being purchased on a daily basis, the entire house seemed to buzz with activity right from the morning, till late into the night.

With a week to go for his wedding, Rajesh’s resolve was stronger than ever. When he realised his wedding was on a Wednesday, he smiled. It was God sending him a signal. Days zoomed past, and his wedding went by in a blur of yellow and saffron.

It was on the night of the wedding, after all the rituals had been observed, his relatives had stuffed themselves with food, the pictures had been taken, and the ceremonial fire had been put out, Rajesh called his parents to the room, and announced it in front of Sukanya.

‘I’m going to wear the Ayappa mala this year. It starts from day after tomorrrow’.

His mother held her hand to her forehead, she looked like she might faint. His father’s eyes were large and round, completely bewildered by the decision. Rajesh couldn’t muster the courage to look at Sukanya yet, and walked out of the room.

He could hear his mother wail, as he closed the door behind him.

*

The Ayappa Deeksha is a torturous ritual for the faint-hearted.

For six weeks, the devotee is expected to refrain from worldly pleasures. He is expected to wake up and bathe before sunrise, eat only satvik food, and dress in black. Vibhuti is to be applied on the forehead at all times, and there is to be absolutely no contact with anybody.

No touching your friends, so touching your wife was out of question. ‘Swamis’, as they are called, have to live by themselves, they are to wear no footwear for the 41 days, and sleep on the floor, no mattress (not even that soft Kurl-On that Father had bought for their wedding night!).

You are to refer to every man as ‘Swami’, and every woman as ‘Amma’. You are to harbour no feelings of hatred, anger, or lust. The 41 days culminate in a trip to Sabarimala to seek the blessing of Lord Ayyappa in person.

Of course his parents knew all of this. Which was why they stood shell-shocked long after he left his room.

As the madness of the wedding settled, and his relatives began to leave one after the other, Rajesh began to realise the gravity of the situation. It is a sin to take deeksha and then not fulfil it. Legend had it that those who strayed from the path ended up being maimed and handicapped, such was the wrath of Lord Ayyappa, the warrior God.

And there was no going back now. He had told his family about it, and going by the sorry looks his relatives threw him, the word had spread. Rajesh wondered if he had over-reacted. When his thoughts creeped up to Sukanya, he quickly drove them out of his mind.

*

The next few days were a hazy blur.

He woke up before sunrise, dressed up in black, and left for office before 9 AM. Sukanya had woken up and stood by the door, but he didn’t so much as look at her. When he reached office, he was called to the HR cabin about his outfit.

He spent the rest of the day going about his work, furtively working, refraining from anger and jealousy, especially when he saw how his colleagues spoke to women in the cafeteria. A few of them stretched their hands out to congratulate him on the wedding, but he folded his hands and replied, ‘Thank you, Swami’.

When he was done with his work for the day, he opened Facebook to check out Sukanya’s profile. Her DP was a teddy bear with a heart shaped ‘Love’ written on it, but when he clicked on ‘Photos’, three more opened up.

The first was a picture of Genelia D’Souza smiling coyly, uploaded in 2010. The next was a picture from a college picnic, where she had on a white cap and blue salwar-kameez. There was another girl, and three guys. Rajesh looked at the guys…and just as evil thoughts began to spring up in his head, he logged off and shut down his laptop.

If his colleagues thought he was weird, they never walked up to him and said it, so it wasn’t very difficult for Rajesh to go about his life. He was a shadow, and shadows have neither friends nor enemies.

But it was when he went back home that the actual turmoil began.

Sukanya hadn’t questioned him about his decision, but she didn’t seem displeased either. She woke up before he left for office, bathed and dressed, and gave him coffee. Rajesh barely spoke to her, but everytime he looked at her, he shot a silent apology to Lord Ayyappa.

This was going to be tougher than he had imagined!

*

In his grandfather’s stories, there used to be rishis who embarked on years of penance to please the gods.

More often than not, the gods would send apsaras to test the rishis’ resolve. While the rishis would meditate in the forest, anthills growing on them, the beautiful apsaras would sing and dance to distract them. Those who were tempted failed the test, and those who remained steadfast were rewarded with a boon from God.

Rajesh thought of himself as the rishi, and Sukanya as the apsara. As his mind conjured up the image of Sukanya, dressed like an apsara, dancing in front of him, Rajesh quickly banished the thought from his head and shot another prayer of apology to Lord Ayyappa.

The mornings were the toughest.

He wasn’t allowed to touch her, but touch is only one of the senses. He saw her everyday, and thought about her when he was at work. He could smell her perfume when she served him rice, and he had to pull his eyes away from her.

Rajesh couldn’t fight his body’s urges, and the sound of Sukanya walking about the house, her anklets clinking and jingling, drove him crazy. It was during these days of celibacy that Rajesh noticed little things about her.

Like how she would hum Illayaraja songs while bathing. Or that when she let her hair open, it reached well below her waist. Or how when she changed into new clothes after her bath, he could see…forgive me, Lord Ayyappa!

*

Three torturous weeks passed by, and Rajesh had acquainted himself to the routine.

His parents gave him no more grief, as they knew questioning his decision could invoke the wrath of the Lord. Since he wasn’t allowed to touch his wife, they hadn’t gone out anywhere, not even to a zoo or a park.

The only time they spent together was during dinner, when Sukanya would serve everybody in the house, and then have food herself. When she asked him if he wanted more rice, her eyes would dance like a sprightly child. When she hummed Illayaraja songs while taking bath, Rajesh would sometimes sit up and listen to her voice.

She had caught him staring at her as she left the bathroom once, and stood and smiled at him. His thoughts went back to the time when the girls in the videos would …forgive me, Lord Ayyappa!

*

It was on Day 37 that Rajesh’s world truly fell apart.

It had now been five weeks, and he was to leave for Sabarimala the next day. He had returned from office early, and was watching the news on television when he heard a faint whisper – ‘Swami…’

He turned to find Sukanya dressed in a green saree, her large black eyes moist. He stood up from his chair and walked towards her, as Sukanya quickly walked into their room and asked him to bolt the door.

She sat on the bed, looked down for a few seconds, and then back up at him again.

‘Swami, I am going to my parents’ house. I have spoken to Amma about it, and she has agreed’.

Her words came out slow and measured. Rajesh sensed the time and effort that had gone into mouthing those words. He couldn’t bear to look at her any longer, and quickly looked away. But he could feel her eyes boring through his soul.

Rajesh looked for the right words, frantically scrounging the insides of his head, but finding nothing.

He looked up at her, and saw tears streaming down her cheeks. He stretched his hand out, and quickly pulled it back again. Sukanya noticed this, and stood up to leave the room.

In a flash, Rajesh stretched his hand out to hold her. Sukanya turned around, and the two of them fell on the bed. The next few seconds flew by like a blur.

Rajesh held her in his hands, and kissed her lips. In a flash, their clothes were off. His fingers grazed her neck and his hands slid further down. Tears were still rolling down her eyes, as her hands ran across his chest.

He smelt her skin, and tasted her tears. They lay on the bed, frantic hands and furtive fingers, exploring each other. Sukanya slowly reached out and felt him, and Rajesh could think no more. In the next few moments, his fears and his desires fused into one single monster, as her tears and moans merged into one.

After what seemed like an eternity, Rajesh lay upon his wife, exhausted, as Lord Ayyappa flashed in his mind.

The Lord wasn’t unhappy.

The Lord was smiling.

 

*****

BBSR

Bhubaneswar, through Bhang tinted glasses

Sometimes, the view of an outsider makes you look at your own home through different eyes.

I was in Bhubaneswar last week for a friend’s wedding and was accompanied by two friends (both stand-up comedians).

The plan was to attend the Reception, and also conduct an Open Mic (which went very well, thank you for asking!), and come back. Now, both these guys had already begun ‘writing their sets’ about Orissa. Much of their impression of Orissa came from media images, and jokes like the ones I often crack (‘I am from Orissa. I only crack poor jokes’).

These two guys were probably expecting tribal warlords at the Railway Station, holding spears and dropping off bears into the Ladies Compartment. In a way, they were shocked to find normalcy.

Bhavneet and Mukesh were completely bowled over, remarking on the wide roads, the pleasant winter weather, and the lack of noise and chaos. Travelling, it is said, changes who you are, and how you look at the world.

Either that, or the copious amounts of pot we had consumed through the journey.

 

*

 

But it was when I saw my hometown through their eyes that I began to realise the overwhelmingly calm blanket that Bhubaneswar seems to wrap you with. I don’t mean this in a ‘Wah! Yahaan toh sheher ka shor-sharaaba nahi hai sort of way. Bhubaneswar generally is a peaceful, calm place.

The biggest home-grown stores close for two hours in the afternoon so that everybody is allowed two hours of sleep. A tradition that these asshole nationwide malls are trying to destroy, those fuckers!

The roads are wide, planned out, and perfect for both humans and bovines. I noticed that in any part of the city, you’re more likely to hear birds chirping than vehicles vrooming. It was only on this trip that I realised the value of a planned city.

Bhubaneswar was designed by Otto Koenigsberger, a German architect and city planner. In 1948, it was decided that Cuttack had too many issues (like spectators throwing bottles into cricket grounds), and couldn’t sustain itself as the state capital. Bhubaneswar was named the new capital.

Since it is a planned city, much of Bhubaneswar is visibly divided into two parts. Government-owned land, and private property. In fact, through much of the newer parts of the city, a road divides the two, with government land on the left, and private property on the right.

I spent a good part of my years in Bhubaneswar in government flats, and often found the entire setting stifling. The roads that turned at 90 degrees, the endless lines of houses that looked identical, stood still in the afternoon heat and bustled about in the evenings – a flurry of Chintu, Montu, and Pintu playing on the road in front of the identical houses. I remember feeling stagnant, tied down.

Visiting those parts after a decade, I can see the difference between the two faces of the city. Private property is like a gigantic mushroom, growing larger, brighter, more grotesque as the years pass by. Buildings were torn down, and replaced by taller ones. Shops and hotels having migrated to greener pastures.

But the government owned parts of the city are still the same. I rode through the streets and soaked in the sights and the smells, exactly as they were. I found the same houses, the roads that turned at 83 degrees (age having taken a slight toll). At some places, I could have sworn I saw the same cows from my childhood. Everything as they were, like a painting from Gryffindor Tower at Hogwarts.

I can’t recognise the part of myself that found this suffocating. I had left as Samuel Coleridge – heady, impulsive, and swooning with the force of the storm in my head. I had returned as William Wordsworth, noticing the mundane joys of the world, getting inspired to pen a poem titled The Solitary Creeper.

*

I spent a good week in Bhubaneswar. Lazy days, and charged up nights.

My evenings in Bhubaneswar have had a fixed pattern for a few years now. As the sun sets, I walk out into the market and help myself to a nice, round gola of Bhang. I then walk about to my favourite part of the city – the Sarkari Bhang Dukaan – and smoke some good weed.

As darkness envelopes the city, I walk around, visiting friends who are drinking, the nights a blur of red, black and gold. (Gold, because golden colour Activa).

This time though, I paid closer attention to Bhubaneswar. I took in the sights and the sounds and the smells.

And on one such night, I made a resolution to myself. A weak, tottering resolution, but a resolution nonetheless.

When I reach the age of 35, I will retire from the hustle bustle of life. I will find a house in a government colony in Bhubaneswar, and retire.

 

***

(Feature Image Courtesy: Odisha360.com

Tamasha Review

Tamasha: A Very Late Review

Imtiaz Ali is one of those filmmakers I have been following of my own accord from the time I saw his first film. A friend and me walked to the CD shop, and got two films (Socha Na Tha and Alexander), and two blue films (You Seriously Don’t Think I’ll Remember The Name, Part 3).

I remember being impressed by the film, looking up the director, and making it a point to watch his next film.

Sadly however, Imtiaz Ali’s films have become tropes in themselves. It’s the same palette with different colours – a bubbly heroine, a brooding hero, a long, life-altering journey that culminates in love. So I didn’t expect too much.

Tamasha’s beginning had me hooked, though. Using minimal frames, Ali manages to convey the theme of childhood and the association with stories, something Vishal Bharadwaj accomplished to some extent in Ek Thi Daayan. The effect that a story has on a child, and the ensuing ‘trip’, is hard to describe in words, even more so on celluloid. I know this because I grew up in an environment where films, girls, songs, stories were discouraged.

Which meant I had only two windows to the world – books, and friends whose parents were cool enough to let them watch movies. Books had to be read on the sly – an indulgence that stayed with me for the entire duration. I would hide the book under my desk, or sneak in a few pages in the bathroom when no one was watching. The stories, their settings, and the characters often walked with me for the rest of the day. I had lunch thinking of Hogwarts and the Great Dining Hall. And I spent quality time in the bathroom thinking of Sidney Sheldon’s central characters.

Imtiaz Ali conveys this beautifully. Using montages, psychedelic visuals, and an amazing child actor who looks like Ranbir Kapoor’s illegal love child – the resemblance is so striking!

 

It is when Ali moves the story forward, that I lost the connection. (There’s also the fact that a lovely lady by my side was a distraction, but let’s ignore that for now).

You know, when you’re playing cricket with your friends, and the ball goes up in the air right above that friend of yours who’s a lousy fielder? And you watch him get under the ball, spreading his hands out like a frog…but you know he’s going to drop it?

I felt that way with Tamasha. I was hoping and praying it wouldn’t go down that slope, but this is just another film where rich Bombay filmmakers dish out their fuck-all knowledge of the world through stereotypical characters in indulgent projects.

Tamasha, you see, is another of Bollywood’s ‘Find your own inner calling in life’ projects.

 

In the last decade, there have been tons of films on the same lines – the hero is ‘lost’ in his own world, meaning he has a job. Suddenly, a beautiful woman walks into his life, and he realizes his actual passion in life is ‘something else’.

This ‘something else’ is a ‘creative’ job like architecture, designing, photography, or something cute, like starting a school for poor children in a village. It drives me nuts.

It happened with Wake up Sid, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and countless other films. Well, first of all, if you leave a job you’ve worked on for years, (and in case of Indian middle class families – decades), for a girl, you’re a fucking idiot.

Secondly, to keep dishing out the same bullshit of leaving your job to pursue your passion is almost offensive (not in an Aamir Khan way, but in a more subtle, Irrfan Khan way). There are millions of people who work in day jobs, provide for their families, and lead perfectly happy lives. To use it as a setting for your story is a combination of a lack of imagination, and extremely lazy writing. If I were a corporate employee, I’d be offended. But I’m not, so let’s move on. 😀

 

There are things that Imtiaz Ali gets spot on, though.

The film looks like a peach. Every frame looks like a dessert from a Michelin 3 star French restaurant. Cinematographer Ravi Varman and Art Director Manini Mishra combine to create superbly striking visuals, forcing you to pay more attention that you would have otherwise.

While Rahman’s music has been called mediocre, I think that’s because of the lack of any ‘epic Rahman songs’. However, the background score is effectively used by Imtiaz Ali. And finally, it is his cast that carry the film on their shoulders. Ranbir Kapoor is expected to do well in his movies, but it is really Deepika Padukone who stands out.

*

But even a dessert from a Michelin 3 star French restaurant can seem too much if you’ve had enough. I was the diabetic among the foodies that couldn’t digest Tamasha. If I had to list out my favourite Imtiaz Ali films by order of preference, they’d be:

Socha Na Tha

Jab We Met

Love Aaj Kal

Rockstar

Cocktail

Highway

Tamasha

Sadly, that’s Imtiaz Ali’s filmography as well.

Chennai Floods

Spirit of Chennai and other such bullshit

The Chennai floods managed to weave their way into mainstream news for about a week, and then got washed away by Bhai and his judgment.

In a way, I feel bad for Chennai Floods. I mean, look at what they were competing against – Donald Trump (a Subramaniam Swamy of US levels), ISIS (who upload blockbuster beheading videos every Wednesday, a bloody Chitrahaar of sorts), and Bhai himself.

Honestly, with the screwed up priorities of our news organizations, did you honestly think the Chennai Floods stood a chance?

 

The gruesome facts related to the Chennai Floods are truly soul-boggling.

Over 400 dead, some 300 missing, 1.8 million displaced from their homes and livelihood, loss to property and business worth 10,000 crores – and barely four days on the headlines. While the coverage of the news was depressing enough, the ruling AIADMK party did its bit by adding ‘Amma’ posters to relief material, firmly proving that there is no bigger nik-Amma than our political parties, when it comes to handling a natural calamity.

Experts have pointed out over and over again that much of the damage could have been averted. That a failure in urban planning is what made the damage snowball into a complete catastrophe. And yet, we spent much of our times retweeting actors donating paltry amounts like 10 lakhs towards the cause.

I have a problem with rich men dumping money towards causes, because honestly, a person announcing to donate ten lakhs is no guarantee of anything. I mean, if it’s a cheque, it is going to take two days to encash (and if it’s SBI, it’ll come through next Christmas). Also, sending ‘money’ means nothing, if you have no idea where the money is going, and how it is being implemented.

We celebrated these initiatives, and efforts by humanitarian groups. Which is all good.

But not once did we question the role of urban planners and the administration about their preparedness for a calamity of this scale. Instead, we chose to hail voluntary efforts, giving it the name ‘Spirit of Chennai’.

 

It is something we have done over and over again.

When there are floods in Mumbai, we pay no attention to the crumbling public systems, choosing instead to hail human effort and initiative with vague shit like ‘The Spirit of Mumbai/Kolkata/Delhi’.

What the fuck is this ‘spirit’ we keep harping on about?

Most major calamities in recent years were serious lapses in security, planning and preparedness. 26/11 was sheer incompetence. The Mumbai local trains blasts were another example. Our response to floods, cyclones, and earthquakes is more political posturing, and less actual relief.

 

I am sorry, but there is no fucking ‘Spirit of Chennai’.

It is human nature to struggle, adapt, and survive. Human beings will adapt to their surroundings, and help each other out (except the ISIS – those guys are bastards!). It is high time we start questioning India’s poor urban planning, our lack of preparedness to deal with calamities, and our fuck-all ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude in times of distress.

It is easy to pat each other’s back and say vague shit like ‘Spirit of Chennai and Mumbai’. But if people are going to attempt to solve problems on this scale, why the fuck do we have elected representatives?

If we are going to be using Ola boats from one flooded colony to another, delivering ‘Amma’ packets to homeless people, why do we have Mother Hen chilling at Ooty for the rest of the year?

And if we are going to be putting up shit like ‘Spirit of Chennai’ on our walls, what would idiotic sites like ScoopWhoop and BuzzFeed come up with?

***

(Featured Image Source)

Fuck you, Wordpress

Hello, Reader, and Goodbye, WordPress!

 

If you’ve visited my blog in the last few days, you’d have noticed there are some changes. For example, the blog is not a blog anymore, it is a website. *nods and flashes thumbs up to Captain Obvious*

I have moved out of my wordpress blog and gone solo. It is something I have been considering for the longest time. But to truly appreciate the background involved, let us go back in the past to how it all began.

 

Optical illusion

Bhubaneswar, 2007.

For two years, I had silently pursued a girl. She was in my class, but I had spoken a total of six words to her in two years – ARE. YOU. COMING. TO. THE. PICNIC?

She said ‘No’.

The two years came to an end, and I remember humming the sad version of the Kal Ho Na Ho title song when I last saw her.

I moved on to a college where the sex ratio was worse than Haryana’s, and had just about forgotten her, when Orkut happened. Suddenly, paying 20 rupees an hour had more meaning to it. Soon, said girl would appear once in a while on the web, send me two scraps on Orkut, and vanish for two weeks. Somewhere along the line, I realised she was reading the stuff I was posting on Orkut, on communities like ‘I luv ma Bachelor Lyf’.

Which was when I decided to start the blog.

This was because I knew she was reading my stuff.

I know. It’s like the Mark Zuckerberg story in The Social Network. Only difference being Zucky washes his ass with mineral water, while I have to save up to buy Baba Ramdev’s Kesh Kanti.

 

Be that as may, I decided to frequent an internet café to pursue my goal of having a blog. Finding an internet café to my liking was a task in itself. The café-porn industry had begun to decline. It was like the Mughal kingdom after Aurangzeb – VCDs and DVDs were hard to compete with.

So many of the internet cafes were mere reminiscent of the older golden days. Crammy cabins, the smell of body fluids, and general feeling of depression blanketing the place.

I finally found an internet café four kilometres away, and would walk to the place if I wanted to post something, paying 20 rupees an hour. Which was how the first version of my blog began – the one on blogger.com

 

While Google is an online giant today, it has produced a string of products that are well and truly shitty. Google Wave, Google Buzz, Google Plus, etc.

Sitting on top of the list, is their older blogging platform – blogger.com

The entire site was laggy, and looked like the bedroom of a drunk lunatic. Pale yellow text on a black background, fonts that made you question your existence on earth. A writing platform is supposed to inspire you to write. Blogger, I assume, is responsible for half the content on indiansexstories.com

I struggled with Blogger for about four years, when WordPress began to pop up as a platform.

 

WordPress was everything Blogger wasn’t.

It was white, clean, possessing the aesthetics that my writing could relate to.

This was the time of the Anna Hazare revolution. Blogging suddenly rose from writing poems about sunsets, to matters that people actually gave a fuck about.

It was also the time when I began to get decent hits, and the blog became a cooler, alter ego of my own self. Things were going well.

Well, almost.

 

For you see, WordPress has its issues as well.

For the millions of hits I earned them for four years, I got nothing in return. Unless of course, you count the drunken messages – Bro, you rock! I connect you, bro. Peace!

And I had no control over what WordPress would do with the site.

For example, I would write a blog on Feminism, only to have an ad pop up at the end – ‘Seduce everybody at your workplace – BoobyMaya.com – the best undergarment online store.

 

I have been trying to leave WordPress for a bit, and here’s a thing.

WordPress is like Hotel California. It’s beautiful when you get in, but try to leave, and you realise you can’t.

As soon as you start checking out the process to leave, you realise you are Abhimanyu in the Chakravyuh. WordPress asks you to shell out for exporting your content, for updating your subscribers list, for transferring your followers, even for quietly sitting in the corner and picking your nose.

 

After about a year of flirting with the idea, and with the generous assistance of a friend, and bountiful blessings of Lord Shiva, I have finally moved on to a site of my own.

I envisage it as a one stop platform for my writing, stand up work, and freelance writing assignments.

I know how terribly boring that sounds on paper, but I’ll try to keep it interesting.

So, that’s all I wanted to say. Please have a look at this site. Look at it like a pissed off Chemistry teacher who is correcting Unit Tests for Class 10 students. And let me know what you think.

Good bye, Reader.
And fuck you, WordPress.