Category Archives: Arbit Gyan


‘Yeh PUBG-PUBG kya hai, yeh PUBG-PUBG?’

The recent ruckus about PUBG reached absurd heights when the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights deemed the game ‘harmful’.

A 11-year-old kid in Mumbai – Ahad Nizam – moved the Bombay High Court to ban the game as it promotes ‘violence’. The game was also in the news because Modi referred to it in one of his staged talks. Our expectations from politicians is so low that we are bowled over when a staged question is asked, and our Prime Minister is aware of a video game!

But this is hardly a new phenomenon – Indian parents have a tendency of brandishing anything beyond their comprehension as ‘harmful’ and ‘evil’.


Television and Upbringing

While growing up, we were told that watching TV was bad for us. That watching too much television promotes vices in children, even if the only shows available were Krishi Darshan and Swaabhimaan. The only real risk children faced in that time was going brain-dead from the quality of shows.

My parents hated my habit of reading novels and comics, and thrashed, abused and emotionally blackmailed me through childhood. Today, as an aspiring writer, I wonder how my life would have panned out if I was encouraged to read. Their decision literally changed my life – for the worse.

It was the same when early ‘video’ games came into the market. My parents got me a Tetris game – it is blasphemous to call it a ‘video’ game as there was no real ‘video’ – just a blob of pixels floating about. But they regulated the time I spent on it, constantly mouthing the dangers of playing ‘video’ games for hours.


Computers and the Internet

Indian parents adapt to technology in their rigidity. When computers arrived, Indian parents equipped themselves with new-age rebuttals. PCs came with pre-installed games that were as exciting as getting your ears cleaned by a quack. Games like Minesweeper and Solitaire were so boring that Bill Gates decided to donate all his wealth to the needy.

But till a decade ago, Indian parents regulated time spent on computers, the use of Internet, and what kids choose to do with it. Browsing through educational sites was accepted, anything beyond it was frowned upon. Watching science videos was okay, picking up a new hobby was not.

Honestly, the only forms of leisure that Indian parents children to pursue are those that they engaged in – ‘Why don’t you go out and play?’, or ‘Ride your bicycle’. For if a child dabbles in something they do not understand, Indian parents see it as the first sign of rebellion. “Today he is playing video games, tomorrow he will rob the neighbours, loot the railway station, escape to Syria and blow up buildings”.

It is of course, completely alright for them to watch news for hours at stretch, or forward riot-inducing crap on WhatsApp – there is no danger in that!

Last year, the Blue Whale Challenge whipped up a storm in Indian media, but the statistics and real numbers were miniscule. Indian media played it on loop like it was the biggest problem in the country.

The Blue Whale Challenge was a confirmation of all things evil that Indian parents personify about technology. It gives them yet another reason to stifle the desires of their children, to hammer and mold them into socially acceptable individuals. That is the reason why most Indian kids grow up thinking sex is bad. That ‘drugs’ are a sweeping category of substances that ruin lives. That sipping on beer makes us an alcoholic and buying clothes online is an avarice.



I have been meaning to write on this subject for a while now, but I needed to first get familiar with the game. I installed PUBG on my mobile and played the game over the last week, just to check out what the fuss was all about.

I found the game highly addictive, but also extremely fun. I met people from the ages of 12 to 45, happily playing with each other. There were young boys and college kids, women who finished their office, and middle-aged men who were making the transition from CounterStrike to mobile gaming.

I played the game for more than 50 hours in the last one week, and not once did I find any trace of bullying. If anything, I found people making new friends, teaming up with them, collaborating to come up with strategies.

One team I was a part of had two boys from Varanasi and one from Chennai. Usually, Hindi is the language that players communicate in. But seeing that the boy was struggling, they began speaking in English. It was a beautiful moment – three strangers getting to know each other, making efforts to understand each other – coming together with no agenda but to take their mind off their stressful days.

How the fuck is this harmful to society?


The real reason the PUBG issue is being brought up now is because of the upcoming Board Exams. For Indian parents, life begins and ends with the Board Exam, and since a mobile phone cannot be controlled and rationed (like PCs), they are losing their minds.

If my children do not adhere to the exact path that I charted out for them, how will I mold him/her into exactly what I think they should become?

I feel bad for the kid in Mumbai who moved the Bombay High Court to ban PUBG. It was clearly not his decision – kids have better stuff to do than move a High Court. He must have been severely pressurised by his parents.

I wonder what his schoolmates think of him. And if they secretly invite him to join their team on PUBG during a boring Hindi period!


Hardik Pandya

The Lynching of Hard-dick Pandya

I am amused by the kind of shit that angers us Indians.

Our issues are such a beautiful, fluffy assortment of the most random shit, it’s almost cute. The latest being Hardik Pandya getting ‘called out’ for his statements on Coffee with Karan.

Yup, that’s the zenith of our intellectual journey, folks. It’s all downhill from here. Journalists and intellectuals were dissecting the terribly important talk that Hardik Pandya delivered on the show. Which was then picked up by news sites, who lurk around cyberspace like out-of-work dementors, sniffing for outrage.

They then splashed their ugly, ad-whore sites with articles and editorials on what he should and shouldn’t have said. Let me repeat that – what Hardik Pandya shouldn’t have said on Koffee with Karan! Kan you believe that shit? 

As a journalist, it makes me feel ashamed.


Coffee with Karan (I hate spelling it out in its retarded original spelling) is a sleazy, silly show where the host gets his friends to reveal how many times they bang whom on which days of the week. Running through the show’s invitees will give you an idea into the depth of the show – Fardeen Khan, Zayed Khan, Rakhi Sawant and Himesh bhai. The tagline of the show is Stop Making Sense, not Aman Ki Asha. 

Are we really going to intellectualise that show? That bane on television shows in particular and intelligence in general? What next? A psychoanalytic conference on Sasuraal Simar Ka? The Freudian slant in Bhabiji Ghar Pe Hain? What the fuck is going on?

I am sick of the Political Correct nature of Indian media. They play this stern, moralistic hostel warden, running around and telling people what to think. He likes women and brags about his exploits – so what? If a woman did it, she would be hailed as a sexual revolutionary. And why do we expect every cricketer to behave like Bharat Ratna Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar?

And what gives these journalists the right to judge these people? Are they all perfect in thought, word, and action? Or assuming they become massively-followed millionaire celebrities tomorrow, will they all become perfect role models?

Role model.

That’s always the word thrown around, isn’t it? Cricketers are role models.

In fact, every fucking body is a role model in our country. Actors must be role models. Parents, teachers, elders, writers, their neighbours, the milkman – every goddamn person in this country needs to be a role model. I don’t get it.

Role model for kids, apparently.

Who are these kids learning life-lessons from Coffee with Karan, pray?

If that’s where you’re looking, I’m sorry but you’re a dumb fucking kid whose life is screwed, anyway. You might as well befriend your neighbourhood chemist and start taking Valium.  How long are we going to throw this dumb, carcass of a logic that people are affected by TV, films, and books?

It is this retarded logic that has led to our films coming with cuts and disclaimers. It’s the reason why television shows in India cater to the intelligence levels of orangutans.

People can be influenced by anything. Dayanand Saraswati saw a rat eat a laddoo and decided to eradicate the caste system from the country. Sanjay Gandhi traveled to Europe and got inspired to dump half a million people on the other side of the Yamuna overnight. How the fuck does it matter who gets influenced by what??

This politically correct nature of Indian media is (like most things) a rip-off the sickening PC culture in the West. Appallingly, we in India have way more important issue, that flipping out over what an actor said.

And why the fuck should Pandya apologise for his statements?

What is this culture of bullying someone for what they said? This is not very different from what right-wing online trolls do to people like Naseeruddin Shah. It was something he said, to a pointed question, on a talk show that is meant to be sleazy. He was not in the Lok Sabha, for fuck’s sake!

Till a decade ago, our popular culture had normalised stalking and following women. A lot of us English speaking urban people have moved beyond and called that out because we had access to education, exposure and there’s no other way to say it – privilege.

That’s the thing about PC culture. It consists of enlightened people who realised something about the world, and WHAM! They want everybody to fall in line, irrespective of their upbringing and roots.

Hardik Pandya studied till Class 9. In Surat.

He then moved to Baroda as a kid, playing cricket for schools and leagues till he and his brother earned money and fame for their family through their skill. He did this till he ranked among the 11 best cricketers in the country by the age of 22.

And now you expect him to become an exemplary citizen, a role model? Why the fuck, pray? Thanks to the outrage, BCCI has sent a showcause notice to him, and might ban cricketers from non-cricketing talk shows. Does that make you enlightened people happy? Does it give you dil chandan sa thandak? 

Hardik Pandya is 25 years old. He is paid to play cricket, that is what is expected from him. If we all were good enough to be in Top 11 in India in what we did, we wouldn’t have the time to outrage over such dumb shit.

Hardik Pandya isn’t paid enough to live up to your high moral standards. Nor is he morally obligated to be a role model for kids.


Go ahead, Hardik Pandya. Win matches, party, date women, have fun. If only just to piss off these dumb, perennially angry people on Twitter!!



Zomato Delivery Boy and Elite, Urban Sympathy

It’s been three days since the Zomato video surfaced, and now the video has run its course on social media.

We live in an age when an actress’ wedding and an US election enjoy the same duration of relevance on our phones. So the Zomato video has run its course of online relevance. Most news items follow what I call the 3-day Relevance Cycle.

Three Day Social Media Relevance Cycle

Now that the Zomato video has passed the initial outrage and jokes phase, and memes have been paid, it will organically move on to the Editorial articles. This is when articles telling us how to be better human beings will be shared across opinion sites.

Like this Tweet-collector article on The Indian Express which undertook the brave journalistic endeavour of collecting a few tweets on the subject. In it, you find people making statements like ‘If an employee is so hungry that he has to steal food, we must ask ourselves what sort of a society we live in’. (I can’t diss Indian Express too much because I write a humour column with them).

Another article by Arre (another fantastic website that churns out witty, insightful, unique articles) harps on the same subject. That we need to ask questions about the working conditions at the company, and how the guy deserves our empathy. Something about the tone of the article put me off (but I can’t diss Arre too much because I contribute columns for them too – you should check them out!).

The article begins with an allusion to a time in the French Revolution when there were thousands of hungry people on the streets who didn’t have bread, but the queen famously said ‘let them eat cake’. I was baffled at the extrapolation – this was not a case of a destitute man scrounging off the streets. This was daylight theft, a breach of trust, and a cunning cover-up that would have affected honest, innocent customers if it wasn’t caught on tape.

The article goes on to break down the trade on economic grounds. There’s a link to the fountain of all credible knowledge – Quora. Even if one were to go by the Quora post, it mentions that a delivery guy makes Rs. 2010 a day on an average of 21 deliveries. I am sorry but that is not as bad as it seems. In fact, freshly passed-out engineers and MBAs from most colleges in India will find a gross salary of 60,300 lucrative in any city in the country.

The post also mentions that the employees have to pay for the fuel themselves. Assuming that every order is 10 kms away on average, and the employees use your typical 100 CC bike that gives you 50 km/hr – that is a total of 10,800 Rs. on petrol every month. Deducting that amount, it still comes to 49,500.

The working hours are mentioned as anywhere between 8-12 hours a day – nearly every job across every sector falls in the same category. All things factored, a Zomato employee makes a neat 50K a month. How on earth does that demand sympathy and empathy? That’s more than what your average artists, musicians, and journalists earn. And the job doesn’t need high educational background or work-ex – a driving license, a bike, and time during the day.

That’s a bloody good deal.

So it clearly isn’t the economics – but rather an elitist condescension that somehow food delivery is a ‘lesser’ trade. There are nurses saving lives on less than half that salary, there are government employees slogging off for years for less than amount. If anything, the job is one of the modern off-shoots of a growing economy.

For any other job that pays you 50K a month, mishandling company’s property and assets would be met with similar seriousness. If an IT engineer takes company data home on a pen drive, he/she will get their ass booted the next day. If a comedian steals one joke, it is the end of one’s career.

It was an act of theft, a breach of trust, of putting unsuspecting customers at a health risk. And it wasn’t even a one-off act of desperation. It was done in a cunning, carefully planned manner. The employee was not starving or malnourished – he was what Pammi Aunty would call ‘very healthy’. This is not fat-shaming, it is fact-checking.

Unfortunately, the article proceeds to launch into a Guru Dutt film climax-speech about the injustice in society and how we must be ashamed of ourselves for letting this happen. That we must instead be complaining about the working conditions of the delivery boys. That’s just intellectual drivel.

And who really has the time to speak up about every issue in the world? Who possessed the time, dedication and energy to keep harping about injustices in society? For all you know, Indian Express and Arre themselves would have never broached the topic if the video hadn’t surfaced.


Out of curiosity, I checked Twitter, Facebook and Instagram if people were baying for the delivery man’s blood – they weren’t. And mind you, we live in a country where a person got killed for having mutton in their fridge.

It was a dick move – an act of theft and cheating, committed with an air of carefully planned crookedness. The guy deserved to get his ass fired.

Amidst this idealistic drivel – nobody speaks about the customers – honest, hardworking, and hungry. What if the food was meant for a child or someone susceptible to dust, allergies and infections? Why should anybody not be alarmed when the health, hygiene and well-being of their family is jeopardised by a cheating asshole?

I’m sorry, but to expect sympathy instead of alarm is juvenile. It’s the kind of stuff university students mouth after wearing a kurta and smoking two joints. The guy broke a rule, put people’s health at risk, tampered with company property, and got caught.

He got caught, and got fired from his job. It is sad, but that’s how life works.

Grow the fuck up!



ZoMaToo? How to protect your order in the age of botched deliveries


You must have seen the video.

A food-delivery executive mooching off food meant for a customer, then cleanly resealing it, and setting off to work with the focus of an award-winning star employee.

When I searched for the video on YouTube, it was preceded by an ad by Zomato itself – asking me to order food that would get delivered in minutes. It’s the kind of video that makes you think back to all the orders that reached your doorstep decimated. Remember the time the salad looked like it had been ravaged by vultures? Or the laddoo that resembled a 5th day ball of a Baroda Test match? All of those memories come flashing back.

The case is even more interesting because the company in question usually has a funny retort on social media. Unfortunately on this occasion – and pardon the phrase – they have had to order humble pie.

We Indians have taken to food delivery apps quite well. Perhaps because the first instance of order-deliveries was of Hanuman delivering the Sanjeevani plant. We have an intrinsic faith in the food delivery system.

The video was also forwarded to me on WhatsApp groups, and it triggered active conversations. There were those who wanted that delivery personnel be provided better pay, food coupons, and lower targets. Conspiracy theorists, never too far away on a WhatsApp group, argued that it could be a ploy by Swiggy to get rid of their biggest competitor (since FoodPanda has begun to go extinct).

But the conspiracy theory sounds implausible when you see the actual video. It is done with the precision of an experienced hand, of a seasoned (for the lack of a better word) customer. In a way, I sympathised with the delivery executive. He looked stockily built, someone with a natural proclivity for food.

The video was shot in Madurai – a temple town with a rich variety of local foods. An average food-delivery person delivers about 20 orders a day. Imagine zipping through the city, the aroma of different cuisines wafting with you. When the food is so near, yet so far. Luckily for the employee, the video isn’t very clear.

It is also not the first time such a video shattered the faith of people. A few years ago, a video surfaced from Mumbai where a pani puri vendor decided to offer a new twist on the old favourite – Urea Puri.

Be warned: The video is not safe for work, home, jungle or the hills.



The video proves that in spite of apologies and warnings, any system that involves human beings is subject to tampering. In spite of best practices and quality ‘testing’, one can never really be sure.

It is only prudent therefore, to make a list of low-risk and high-risk food to order online.

At the low end of the low-risk spectrum stand South Indian food. It is impossible to take a bite out of an idli, vada, or dosa – without altering the shape. However, kindly do not enter the marshy territory of upma, pongal and sambar rice.

The look and feel of the food item is also crucial – a lasagne will be hard to break into. Pizzas are safe too, and in case of doubt, go for one with less toppings. Wraps are difficult to tamper with, and if someone scoops out the filling of a wrap carefully – they probably deserve the wrap more than you do.

If you are a biryani lover, you fall in the high-risk category. When they say ‘family pack’ biryani, they don’t specify how many members of a family. It isn’t hard for a bachelor to want to belong to your family.

Noodles and fried rice are high-risk too. Geo-politically, India and China might not be on Baloo-Bagheera terms, but Chinese food is considered quite accessible. Milk-shakes are a strict no-no. If it’s an ice cream thickshake, you wouldn’t even know that the quantity has reduced! Soups are out of question.

If you’re the suspicious kind, you could even do a test case on your deliveries to check if they have been tampered with.

For example, order Rasmalai and check if the delivery agent has a satisfied, benign smile on his face. Or order Chicken Teekha Mirch Kabab (select Extra Spicy option), and wait for the order.

If you notice the delivery agent puffing and panting, sweaty or fidgety, it might make sense to check your order.

It’s the least one can do in times like this. Of course, one could learn to cook for oneself. But why even go there?


Meeting my Father after 15 years

I belong to a dysfunctional family.

There are four members in my family – my father, mother, sister and me. The four of us live by ourselves, without the need/necessity to be with any of the others. We have found our own paths, and drifted as far away from Pangea as Iceland and Australia.

I lived in a boarding school for 10 years, and by myself for the next 15. As you might have guessed, family values have never been an essential part of my existence. Over the years, I have tried to analyse my life and see if it was better or worse without my family.

The pros far outweigh the cons.

For one, living independently shaped who I am today.

I was kicked out of the house by both of my separated parents. The teenage me was angry and resentful about it. But when I look back, I learned to scrape through, to hustle, to do odd jobs, and become an independent person. Everything I have achieved today are due to my own efforts – not my parents, friends, relatives, or God. And all this wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t been inadvertently kicked out of the house by my parents.

Without the nagging, half-knowledge pressure that Indian parents masquerade as ‘affection’, I was free to choose the life I wanted for myself. I was answerable to nobody in the world, and my only consideration was my own interest. It’s been great!

The only con I can think of is the lack of empathy and compassion in my life. I believe that living with a family teaches you kindness and compassion. It teaches you how to talk, how to behave, how to empathise – skills that are nonexistent in me. I am as emotive as Arjun Rampal in Asambhav.

But be that as it may, I couldn’t have chosen any other way to have led my life. Somewhere down the line, my parents became side characters in my story. I knew they existed somewhere, and had general updates on their lives, but I wasn’t concerned too much about making peace with them.

Last year, wisdom-in-hindsight presented itself and waved to me.

I figured my parents were about 22-23 when they got married, clueless about love, life, marriage and kids. When I was that age, I used to masturbate five times a day. That was my level of emotional maturity, so why was I judging my parents with alien barometers?

I decided to get in touch with my parents. I began with my mother, and sailed through without too many worries. She has retired from her government job and found solace (I think!) at the ashram I grew up in.

But it was getting back with my father that had me on my toes.

I do not have too many memories of my father. I lived with him till I was about five years old, and then for a year in 2003. I remember him being efficient and emotional – those two words probably best describe the personality that I remember.

He was a boy from a village who came to the city with the proverbial 10 rupee note in his pocket. He got a job, got his brothers educated, got his nephews jobs, and spent his life being the village adarsh baalak.

I was away when most of the above happened, so my connection to him was through the letters he would write to me at school. They were all inspirational in nature, harping about how he knew I would make the nation proud one day (gotta start working on those weed legalisation measures!!). The letters were well-written, and the teacher usually read them out to the entire class. He was also the person who sparked an interest in reading, writing, and stories.

But there was also the fact that he possessed an extremely short temper, was abusive to people around him. That he ran away from our home when things got sticky, and married a girl decades younger than him, to start a family again.

On a personal level, he kicked me out of his house when I was 16. At an age when fathers are supposed to have matured discussions with their kids, my father mouthed unthinkable words and tossed me out on my own. Moreover, in the 16 years that followed, he never bothered to get in touch with me, or even ask for my number or address.

There were long-buried issues between us, and I was skeptical about facing them.



I have started a scholarship for my village school, and on that pretext, I called up my father.

He didn’t answer at first, and then called back a little while later. We got talking, and the only thing I felt from his voice was a sense of relief. Like he could tick off a long-pending item from his life’s to-do list.

I traveled with him to my paternal village to supervise the nitty-gritties of the scholarship. I was hoping to make a connection with him after all these years. Tell him what I’ve been doing with my life, describe my life as a writer, standup comedian, and journalist. Ask him what he’s been upto all these years.

Inspired by an Osho video that I’d watched, I was hoping my father would be less of a father, and more of a friend. That he would acknowledge that I have grown up, and that he doesn’t need to be the same person he was decades ago.

Unfortunately, I found that my father cannot stop playing the father.

He pretended like nothing had ever happened between the two of us, that it was all normal. I have always found the habit of Indian parents constantly monitoring their children’s lives suffocating. I don’t know why they do it. Perhaps it’s the only kind of parenting they are aware of. Perhaps they fear the neighbours would be offended if they let down their walls.

I found my father’s constant advising, guiding, cajoling and correcting to be excruciatingly frustrating. He gave out weird reasons for the last 15 years – ‘You were born on Ramnaavami. These 14 years were your vanvaas!’ Really? No they weren’t. The last 14 years were me busting my ass around, trying to stay afloat while you were frolicking about with a younger woman and experiencing the joys of being a father at the age of 45!!

I wanted to tell him that it was alright. That he could stop performing, that he could get off the stage now. The play had run its course, the cast had retired, even the theatre was crumbling. But I knew it would be of no use. I could see him flinch a little every time I expressed an opinion, as if he was scared I would burst out again, and vanish from his life.



I wanted to put up this post immediately upon my return.

But that Sunday coincided with Fathers Day – that fuckall Archies Greeting Cards day that we have all foolishly imbibed in our lives. All the posts on Fathers Day are so dumb, so demeaning, so insulting to fathers worldwide! It robs fathers of their agency, their right to have an opinion.

No! Your daddy is not the strongest in the world. No, he is not a superhero without a cape. Shut the fuck up, and let him be who he is. Such posts only add to the problem, by burdening fathers with the pressure of being Amitabh Bachhan in Baghban – of being the upright, selfless father.

Fathers are not extraordinary human beings who attained wisdom when children are born. If all it took was becoming a father, Osama bin Laden should have been the wisest person on earth. The dude fathered 25 children!

Fathers can be criticised, reasoned with, and spoken to as an equal. You didn’t choose to be born to someone – it just happened. Being proud of your parents is illogical and childish – like being proud of your country, language, or sun-sign.


I tried talking to my father. Explaining that I am 32 years old now, that I do not need to be told to brush my teeth. That nagging constantly is not love, it is annoying. It is encroaching upon my carefully-gardened personal space.

But I am pretty sure my father won’t get it.

And that is the sad part. I am not obliged to be nice to my parents, I don’t owe them anything. I grew up completely independent of their support, their backward ideas, their egos and their narrow-mindedness.

What I was hoping for, was to have a discussion. To catch up on life. But the pressure of being an Indian father does not permit him to stoop down from his high pedestal and meet me half-way.

There is no break from being a father. Which is probably why I do not see myself being a husband or father – it is method acting for decades at stretch!!

I still speak to my father over the phone these days. Generic shit like ‘go to bed early’, ‘work hard’, and other outdated lines that his father had told him. Being passed on to me like antique wisdom without any context. That is when I realised something that I was trying to wrap my head around for the longest time.

The greatest burden that fathers shoulder, is of being a father in the first place.




The luxury of taking a hot shower

In the much-hyped world that we live in, we often miss everyday, commonplace joys. Our hashtags are reserved for the life-changing, the earth-shattering, the path-breaking.

But taking a hot shower is no less of a modern miracle.

This everyday chore often gets side-stepped on the path to larger things in life. But not too long ago, it would have been inconceivable for you to be taking a hot shower at the time of your choice.


There is just enough time.

Just enough time to smoke a joint, and switch on the geyser. And as you launch into your thought pool of the day, the water is getting heated up. Just as you near the last few puffs of the joint, you cough the TB cough, and step into the shower.

Into a luxury that you are probably the first generation to enjoy in your youth, in our long history of 2000/3000/5000 years (subject to your education, political inclination and patriotism).

It must be noted here that it is ‘showers’ that I will be harping on about, and not a

  • ‘bath’ in a tub (for you certainly aren’t the first generation hot-bath consumer)
  • a tap-bucket-mug (you have a certain climbing up in life to do, my friend).

The tap-bucket-mug method is too tedious and demands a lot of coordination to execute. Profound thoughts do not come visiting when you’re busy trying not to slip on soap. And I haven’t ever enjoyed a bath. When I am put up at luxurious hotels when I travel for shows, I don’t really know what to do in the tub. My only references are Bollywood villains, or vamps who seduce heroes. Since none of those options are available to me, I sit like an awkward Vishnu on an uncomfortable Sheshnaag.

This article is mostly about taking a shower. The kind with a working geyser (hence the term ‘hot shower’ in the title). The fact that a shower can be had is in itself a modern luxury. If we travel back in time as early as two generations ago, to the time of our grandfathers-

They needed to wake up and bathe in the mornings. There was no hot water, no shower; and in my village in Balasore, he would have to go to the village pond. I have seen it, and let’s just say there is no san-sanananana happening there. My grandfather could not skip it and stay in bed, as he did not want any adulting that day. #Adulting #DontWant

You go to the pond or river and perform your morning ablutions, well aware that you could slip and vanish forever. Then there are crocodiles and snakes to be watchful of. And if you evade all of that, there are still human beings that you need to take a bath with. Neighbours, uncles and relatives, since bathing was more social ritual than hygiene chore.

And why only take the male perspective? What about women? What if you were your ancestor – a noble, law-abiding lady about 500 years ago?

You needed to get to a waterfall or water body before the sun rose. If you lived in a rural area, it must be a headache. For you needed to carry water back with you too! Imagine taking a shower and coming back with two buckets of water, that you needed to carry to your office and manage the entire day with!

And if you lived in an urban area, it did not make your life any easier. You had to find your way to a public bath, or go with the women in your friends circle/family. Which meant you problems were not only with animals, but humans too! I don’t believe in the glorification that our past was all vedas and sunshine and nobility. There must have been creeps to deal with. You might live in the greatest civilisation of all time, but had no control over the time and place of your bath.

Or what if we went deeper into our past, say a 1000 years ago?

1018 was the year when the first Islamic invader – Mahmud Ghazni – entered India. We were still a civilisation that ranked low in the Maslow’s hierarchy of need theory.

If you managed to survive the ongoing wars, you still needed to rush to a water body. And it wasn’t exclusive to you, you had to share it with animals of the jungle too. Deers and tigers and wild boars and crocodiles. And goddamn bears! Bears who roamed the jungle and discovered that you had stolen their honey.

Honey they had discovered and nurtured, only to find that you and your soldier friends burnt a hole in its dreams, partied overnight, and left. And just as you were having a bath by yourself, the bear would ambush you and insert its paw deep in your posterior.

It was a dangerous time. A risky time.


Taking  shower is a luxury that we have taken for granted.

This magic cubicle that you enter, and come out a calmer, better looking version of yourself. A space that nobody else can intrude upon; not your family, friends, not Mark Zuckerberg.

A place where tiny plastic bottles contain specially formulated oils and liquids to make your hair shine, your skin glow. A place where you turn a knob, and thoughts come flowing down.

And why not? When you needn’t worry about tigers and bears, and Golu the neighborhood sex-offender – that’s when nobler thoughts come to us. I daresay that is when we evolve as a species.

It’s when you take a shower that you are truly with yourself. When you can think higher thoughts, when you can whip up a blog, and thousands of strangers could read your thoughts and nod in agreement.


On our path towards evolution and revolution, our efforts to be better humans, to save the planet and bring about peace and prosperity, we humans have forgotten what a luxury it is to take a hot shower.



Flipkart and the Myth of the Indian Startup Revolution

Walmart’s decision to purchase a chunk of Flipkart last week was hailed as ‘revolutionary’ by sections of the Indian press. Economic Times, the business arm of The Sensational Times of India, went so far as to call Sachin Bansal the ‘poster boy of Indian e-commerce who redefined 21st century startups’.

In some ways, it was relief for the company that had witnessed its valuation dip by a few billion dollars last year. Amidst news of Amazon and Walmart vying for a piece of the Flipkart pie, the $16 Billion deal with Walmart must have been a sigh of relief.

As expected, the acquisition caused social to go berserk, and over-zealous patriots began pompomming the deal as a matter of pride for India; a shot in the arm for our ‘startup revolution’. At the risk of sounding like an anti-national presstitute, here is my not-so-rosy opinion on Flipkart and the Walmart deal.


Flipkart gave me my first real experience with e-commerce. I had read about the magic of e-commerce on The Economic Times – that intimidating newspaper that I chucked the moment I started studying journalism.

To their credit, Flipkart were the first ones to fully trust Indians with a Cash on Delivery option. Earlier, sites like Rediff Shopping and Indiatimes offered COD, but you needed a Credit Card, a shopping history, and four pet tigers. And even then, the items available were limited to ‘safe’ products like baseball caps and talcum powder.

My first online order was placed in the year 2011. Ironically, as the world was moving towards smartphones, I was ordering a feature phone – Nokia X2 – the poor man’s Blackberry. This phone set new standards in over-promising and under-delivering.


I placed my order and the phone got delivered in three days. I even got a mail saying the delivery guys tried getting in touch with me. So low were my expectations, that I was moved to tears.

Flipkart impressed

Ain’t no appreciation like genuine appreciation!


This genuinely good impression aside, I did not become a huge fan of Flipkart in the coming years.

At its very essence, Flipkart is a rip-off of Amazon – the world’s largest e-commerce site. I find it amusing that the founders took the same path that Amazon did – books. However, Amazon did it in 1995, and Flipkart in 2007!  What’s even more shocking is that the founders are ex-employees of Amazon. Imagine you’re employed by a company, and quit to start your own clone of the same company. I’m not too familiar with business lingo, but that’s kind of a dick move.

If you look carefully, Flipkart’s business strategy is lifted from the world’s largest e-commerce site. And even it’s logo seems to be lifted from the logo of the world’s largest social media site.

In the years that followed, Flipkart and Amazon went head to head, often with similar strategies, similar logistical decisions. After Amazon did it, Flipkart launched their own music player Flyte, which took flight after a few years. Flipkart also launched their own e-book reader that had more than a few similarities to Amazon’s Kindle. The service was later transported to Kobo, and eventually shut down.

Flipkart’s few bold moves backfired badly. The decision to go app-only with Myntra was quickly aborted. Flipkart’s in-app chat service Ping was also dumped in less than a year. Nearby, the grocery-delivery add-on sank without a trace.

Flipkart’s only real innovation must have been those annoying sales. Big Billion Sale, Gazillion Sale and Poonam Dhillon Sale.

As Amazon announced its arrival to Indian shores, Flipkart did everything to prepare itself, including buying the rest of the market – eBay and Jabong, and a long, gruelling negotiation with Snapdeal.


But then, India has never been the torchbearer of innovation. Our much-lauded IT revolution has been around for more than 20 years now. And yet, we haven’t shaken up the world with a single product, service or organisation. For the most part, we are cheaper alternative for high-end labour. An advantage that is expected to slip away from us as our brethren in Philippines and other countries wake up to the wonders of Rapidex English Speaking Course.

May be that is why we are so hung up on our past. Everybody from your friendly neighbourhood social media troll to ministers at the highest echelons of power – they love to hark back to that magical era. We love to stake claim to every modern technological thought, claiming we had done everything in the Vedic age (except sex, of course. Indians don’t have sex. They do tapasya and babies are born).

And this lack of innovation is not limited to Flipkart alone. If you search for the largest Indian startup companies, you’ll find they are all clones of global companies. Often times, the products and services are nearly identical. Ola is Uber without the professionalism. PayTM began with phone recharges and jumped on the smartphone revolution to follow the path of WeChat and other payment carriers. Swiggy does what global companies like JustEat and Takeaway do. OyoRooms is a shameless rip-off of AirBnB.

It’s perhaps telling that most of the founders of these clone companies are from IIT-IIMs – those haloed meccas of education in our country. And our media keeps worshipping these guys as visionaries and trailblazers. Whereas in reality, it is a case of first-mover in a booming economy. The strategy has been charted by others. It just needs some money and good replication skills.

I am yet to come across a single Indian startup company that is working towards a unique Indian solution to a uniquely Indian problem. (If you do, please let me know in the comments – I would love to read up on them!).

I am sure there must be organisations that are honestly trying to blaze trails. But they will never enjoy the funding or popularity that the copycats will enjoy in our culture. A culture where we go down on our knees to suck off anybody who got ‘foreign ka paisa’.


The Flipkart deal with Walmart might be celebrated among India Inc, but please do not call them ‘change-makers’.

It makes me cringe when the founders of these companies are hailed as ‘change-makers’. They are bringing as much change to the world as Venkatapathy Raju brought to the world of fashion designing.


empty stage

How it feels to bomb on stage

At its most basic form, Standup Comedy is an absurd art form.

To go up on stage (and people like Jerry Seinfeld have said this in more eloquent terms), and try to get laughs from strangers, by spilling out the insides of your mind is absolutely weird. Jokes themselves are so subjective – they can either change your world-view, or get you shot in the head by fanatics.

The closest art form is probably singing – you go up on stage, you have a mic, an audience. You have words, and use tunes and tones to communicate. But that is where the similarity ends. A singer can replicate another singer’s song, and is appreciated for how close the singer comes to the original.

In any other art form (cinema, theatre, sports), you have a team working with you. Your success is dependent on how they collaborate with you. Your failures too, can be divided equally. That’s not the case with stand-up.

It is you, standing alone in a dark room of strangers in front of you. They are your thoughts, your words, your performance. Forget sounding like someone else, if you ever tell a joke that belongs to any other comic in the world, it’s the death-knell of your career. Forget copying a joke, even a similar strain of thought could mean THE END, beautiful friend.


It is this auteristic nature of Standup comedy that makes it unique. There is no team to fall back on, no companions who will see you through. There are friends, of course, but they cannot get on stage with you, or for you.

In other forms, you can always come back. You could muff through the first half of a match, and make a heroic return in the next. You could screw up the first two paras of a song, and come back with a terrific solo in the end. In standup, the audience’s laughter is the only validation. You need validation every few seconds. If the audience does not connect to you in the first few minutes, fat healthy chance of them doing so in a while.

Also, the context to the art form. You could be the greatest standup comedian in the world, but a newbie from Warangal could steal your thunder on his day and sell it in the black market for 250 bucks.


There are two terms used in Standup – ‘kill’ and ‘bomb’. (Trust comics to use two such terms to describe how they fare!). To ‘kill’ is to do well – to have a good show and get laughs. Of course, kill has other superlatives – murder, destroy, aatank, etc.

On the other end of the spectrum is – ‘to bomb’. To have a shit-show, to muff and fumble and mumble and grumble.

Of course, a lot has been said, written and filmed about ‘killing’ – the success and the glitz of standup. There are books written, shows made, films shot – there is modern folklore associated with successful standup stories.

But nobody talks about bombing. About standing on stage alone and watching your words fizzle out into a silent audience. About standing alone on a stage with your mic, with hundreds of people looking at you, and then slowly looking into their phones.

At one level, bombing is beautiful.

It is like yellow fever – you cannot predict when it’s going to come. It happens to the best, and it happens (more frequently) to the worst. It comes unannounced on some days, and on other, it RSVPs its attendance days in advance. There are days when you expect to bring the roof down, but end up swimming in a sea of silence.



I obviously can not claim to speak for standup comedians in general, and this is where the blog becomes personal.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve seen me perform, but my jokes are not really family friendly. I don’t know why or how that has come about. Perhaps it is the shock, or the audacity of such jokes that make them such an integral part of my shallow quiver. Or perhaps it was the silly joy in cracking a ‘non-veg’ joke that has somehow shaped who I am as a person.

Which is why I don’t have a great strike rate when it comes to events that ask for ‘clean humour’. ‘Clean comedy’ is an albatross that hangs around every comedian’s neck (I am unsure if that’s the right metaphor – but it looks dramatic enough!). There is money on offer – lots of money – if you’re willing to toe the line.

There are corporate shows – shows for corporate India – mostly bored corporate employees who have been tricked by their HR into an illusion of a good time at an expensive hotel. I can see a bad show coming. Whether it comes announced or unannounced, when you get up on stage – you just know!

For a show to work, there are a number of factors that need to work – I don’t mean the sound and lights and other such paraphernalia. The audience has to be in the right frame of mind, they need to be on the same bandwidth – since a joke is always going to poke fun at somebody or something. They must also belong to your socio-eco-cultural surroundings because standup is subjective and contextual. And to top it all, the audience needs to find what you’re saying funny (or at the very least – stimulating/entertaining enough).


So, how does it feel?

It feels crushing. Absolutely heart-wrenching. You have nobody to blame – it is you, thoughts that emanated from your head, told in your voice. And the silence that ensues – is all yours! The humiliation is deeply personal. It is embarrassing, shameful even.

Like a number of tourists who walk towards a man selling clinkets on a bicycle, stare and ask about every product, and casually walk past without buying a thing. There is no redemption, no salvation. There are no second takes, or peppier second-halves. It’s just you, and the mic, and the silence through which you can hear your soul being ripped apart.

So, what do you do?

You feel the sweat trickle down the back of your neck, and patches of sweat in your underarms. You continue to look at the audience, and find a few people looking at you with sympathy – hoping you do well, but curious to see how cringey it can get. You can see in their eyes a rich blend of curiosity and sympathy.

You stand and you take it. You wade through the soul-crushing sorrow and do your time on stage. You soak it all in, say goodbye, and rush out. You smoke a ton of cigarettes and wonder what went wrong.

You wonder why anybody would subject themselves to this? Why would someone put themselves on stage in front of strangers and think they’re funny? Why??

But later, you meet your comedian friends and tell them of the ordeal. And the first thing your friends will do – no matter which city or what age – is laugh. They will laugh long and hard – more than all the laughter that you could have got, if the show had gone well.

And then, you realise it’s alright. They’ve gone through it too, or probably will. That if you cannot see the funny side of your failure, why would you even want to be a comic in the first place?

And then you smile and go back home. Wondering what a strange fucking profession this is.

Strange. But nice.



Why I don’t post blogs these days

The last few months have been really slow on the blog.

If you have been a loyal reader, I am utterly sorry to disappoint. All the posts have been about cricket and films, and not even good posts at that. Just lazy, haphazard shit that I scribbled out in the last minute. I know, I know.

I received a snorter of a mail in my mailbox about the lack of posts, and I gave it some thought. I introspected for a little while and found the answer waft its way to me in brilliant bullet points. Ancient sages and thinkers were firm believers in the belief that the better the herbs utilised in the thinking process, the clearer the Bullet Points come to you when you seek answers.

So, without much ado, allow me to list out the reasons below for your kind perusal.

  1. Laziness: 

The primeval reason. The reason why millions of humans are not writers. The laziness of sitting down and thinking of something, to articulate, give examples, extend the thought, provide counter-points and rebuttals, and then reply to erudite comments like ‘Fuck yourself!’ – it is energy sapping after a point. I have been reporting to a day job, and then sparing time for open mics and shows in the night – leaving me with no motivation to update the blog.


2. The Lure of Money 

Again, not the most original of explanations. In the last one year, I have begun writing for a few websites. I write a weekly humour column for the Bangalore edition of The New Indian Express (Bangaloreans, check it out – every Saturday with TNIE), and articles on sites like Arre, DailyO and 101India.

The pay is decent, and the presence of a deadline makes it urgent and binding. Also, there are people to go through the article, suggest changes, make sure it is served well. And at the end of the day, I get paid for it too.

When I write for my blog, there are no such amenities. I have to drag my ass off to the chair and think about writing it. Just before I begin writing, I notice there are 345 comments out of which 325 are spam comments about Viagra and gardening tools from Russia. Deleting them takes a while, and the idea that was fresh as salad in your head now looks like mango chikki.

I then have to type out the blog, and then share it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Which is a pain in the ass. And if an article does well, Facebook sneaks up the suggestion to spend some money and boost it so more people can read it!


3. A little clued out of the scene 

Before I started blogging professionally, writing an article was rather easy. I just had to scroll through Facebook and ideas would spring out of the screen and wave to me. I had to smoke a joint, gather my thoughts, and fire away at the keyboard to much appreciation and fanfare.

However, like a fantastic drug that overstays its welcome in your system, that began to backfire. Due to my background and the work I do, I have three distinct kinds of people on my Facebook list –

a. University students who believe in bringing about revolution

b. Engineers/IT employees

c. Standup Comedians.

Each of these categories have their own stance and opinions on everything, and scrolling through my feed became a nightmare. I would read an Arundhati Roy article about Afzal Guru, and then a SwarajMag piece on how she’s full of shit. It was chaotic.

I quit Facebook for a few months, but that resulted in nothing except mosquitoes turning up for my shows. So I returned to Facebook, but this time armed with a boon from Sage Vishwamitra (the world’s friend – the original Zuckerberg). I unfollowed each and every person on my Facebook list.

Everybody. I know not everybody is evil, and it is probably extreme – but how does it matter? It took me about an hour, but was completely worth it. Now my wall is a blank slate with a few desperate ads suggested by Facebook. The only two pages I get content from are Writers Write – a page for aspiring writers, and The Dodo – a page that posts about dogs, cats, and animal rescues.

This has resulted in me retaining my sanity. And my Facebook wall becoming a warm, fuzzy place rather than the digital Kurukshetra that it was earlier. However, with this unfollowing business, I am also a little clueless about what is happening. I’m not necessarily complaining, but it’s part of the reasons that came to me in clear Bullet Points, so I had to mention it here.


4. The times we live in

When I look at my earlier posts, I notice one common thread running through all my posts – a certain anger. A frustration about the state of affairs, governance, jurisdiction. I have had people come up to me and ask if I have anger issues (which I most certain do, of course – but I don’t tell them. Why should I? Fuck those guys!).

However, over the years, I have refrained from expressing my opinion on my blog due to the cacophony of opinions. I mean, have a look at Twitter and Facebook – opinions and rage being hurled about from every side. After a point, it doesn’t matter if you are on the right side, just participating in a discussion brings about ugliness and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

And that is what stops me from expressing my opinion here. I may be right, or I may be wrong – it’s an opinion, after all. But anything I say will be used to buffer one side of an argument, and none of it will be clean or civil. I felt like my blogs were dung cakes that are being taken off my wall and used to fuel larger bonfires on social media.

And when was the last time you saw someone admit in facebook comments – “Hey you know, you’re right. Let me read up on that, it might help change my opinion”? I’ll give you a hint – the number of Test centuries that Venkatesh Prasad has scored in his life – SHUNYA.

So what’s the point?


5. What do I want the blog to be? 

The blog was pretty much the first creative platform where I wrote and expressed myself. But after 11 years, and with me becoming a professional writer and humorist – I am unsure of where to take the blog.

I mean, it has to be different from the other platforms that I write on, or what’s the point? It already seems like a white, WordPress-like elephant in the room. I am unsure of the direction the blog needs to take. But here is what I have in mind –

a. A blog cut off from the ugliness of the world. Watching a number of Dodo videos for months at stretch, I began to wonder why the blog cannot be a happy place. A place where politics, or films/sports are not discussed. There’s lot of shit-sites for such shit-posting. The blog could be a place where other stuff can be discussed.

b. A journal of sorts. I know, I know. The idea makes me flinch a little, but I do not mean a ‘Dear Diary, it is snowing in Sambalpur today’ sort of a journal. I mean an unorganised stream of thoughts.

c. An angry space. This was the final option. I thought, instead of running from my weakness – anger – I will bring it all out here. No sharing on social media, no replying to comments. Just a space to vent out all my anger and frustration.


I am still confused about the direction the blog needs to take. It’s been 11 years after all.

But those are the reasons I haven’t been posting on my blog frequently. I just thought you should know…

Sudan Rhino Tinder

The Art of Guilting People into your Ideology

Last week, Sudan the last Northern White Rhino died in Kenya, signaling the end of a species.

His death raked up a social media storm, and animal lovers shared his pictures countless times across platforms. While the incident itself was tragic, it ruffled a few imaginary feathers in me.

Firstly, who is an ‘animal lover’? I like dogs and cats, and will stop my commute if an animal is in danger – does that qualify me as an animal lover? And even assuming I’m counted as an animal lover, what REALLY is my contribution to the cause – except for a personal gratification of feeding a needy stray puppy?

But more than the death of the animal, it was the tone of the social media posts that irked me. They all had this condescending tone to them – ‘Hey, while you were surfing through your feed, the last Northern White Rhino just died. Thanks a lot!’.

I find this preachy tone extremely toxic. And that is the reason why I do not jump on to social media campaigns. Most such campaigns exploit people’s anger against an imagined enemy – a nameless, immoral person who is responsible for all the problems in the world. The knack of burning the imagined enemy has been in vogue in the last decade.

Take for example the Anna Hazare anti-corruption campaign in 2011. I was never for the movement because I found it vague and dangerous. However, the campaign worked because the imagined enemy was a corrupt politician – a vague image of Danny Denzongpa in a Sunny Deol movie of the 90s.

Or take the run up to the 2014 elections. Media organisations started throwing out terms for Narendra Modi. Dangerous terms like ‘mass murderer’ and ‘Killer of Muslims’ were used by columnists and our nation’s intellectuals. Every single follower of Modi was called a ‘Bhakt’ – a highly insulting and generalising term that chastises someone for having basic expectations from politics. And how that backfired!

Modi swept to power, and his fans went on to give their own names to mainstream media – Presstitutes. Today, nobody on either side of the political spectrum trusts the other, and even a Facebook discussion on politics takes a few minutes to descend into anarchy.

The framing of an ‘imagined enemy’ is both dangerous and lazy. It is lazy because it gives journalists and social media influencers a low-hanging target. In the same way that Arundhati Roy paints the ‘establishment’ with broad, blood-red brush-strokes to draw attention to the problems of tribals, it is such lazy journalism that gives rise to hatred and mistrust. It is dangerous because there will always be a backlash. By pinning a villain to every problem, you are turning people away  from an otherwise noble cause.


During my University days, I used to closely follow a political organisation that claimed to run on the lines of Ambedkar’s ideology. I attended a few meetings, and wanted to get to know the organisation better. I had just read Mr. Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste, and my head was ringing with the ideas the great man had propagated.

And yet, I was highly uncomfortable in the meetings. The rhetoric was filled with hatred and abuse, the enemy was this imagined Brahmin who was vehemently torturing lower castes physically, mentally and emotionally. And when I came out of the University, I found that most urban, general caste people have the same hackneyed opinion about reservations and the caste problem.

Or take my favourite pet peeve – vegetarians. Vegetarians walk about with an invisible halo, like they’re blessed children of god who have unlocked the truth. And everybody else is a moron who is yet to see the ultimate truth. As a pure vegetarian who saw through the hollowness of vegetarian argument and now eats all animals and birds – I fucking can’t stand it. The funny thing is, most Indian vegetarians will peddle PETA videos shot in the US to prove their point. The even funnier bit is that most of these guys are vegetarians not because they truly understood the issue – but because their family is vegetarian. That’s like trying to create a mathematical equation to explain the superiority of your family name – to win a fucking argument on Facebook!



Social messages cannot be divisive. If you wish to bring about change, you need to be inclusive. By antagonising and chastising random people, nothing really is achieved. You have the same number of people who disagree with you, with a few more who hate you for being an insufferable prick

Targeting an ‘imaginary enemy’ alienates people, and gives rise to the classic Indian question – What did YOU do for the cause? It is lazy activism and makes your come across as a weirdo with a 11 inch rigid unicorn-hair wand stuck up your ass.


I am sorry Sudan died, but I don’t know how else to say this – YOU DIDN’T DO SHIT!!

Your contribution to the cause was a grand total of NOTHING. You live in the same time as the other people you chastise, burn the same fuels, and consume as much toxic plastic and waste that your imaginary enemy does.

It’s sad that Sudan died, but making me feel guilty for it isn’t going to bring him back to life. So shut the fuck up!