Sunday, May 17, 2020

Quarantine- when you discover everyone has hidden talents and you have none

The last 50 plus days of quarantine have been extremely distressing for me. I had to experience the ignominy of discovering that every single one of my friends and acquaintances, including the ones I had long dismissed as useless, have hidden talents. While everyone I knew and did not care to know was busy channeling their inner Jamini Roy, Lady Gaga. Behen halwai, Nigella minus the decolletage, handstand diva, I discovered I had none.

Maybe their huge reserves of talent was a shy thing, bit of an introvert, waiting for an epidemic to be coaxed out of the closet? Perhaps the anxiety pangs of dying from a mere virus had made everyone desperate to seek refuge in creative pursuits and discover to their horror they were damn good! I would stay up all night desperately seeking answers to these questions. I even tried passing off insomnia as a talent but realised it was too commonplace.

Initially it wasn’ t this bad. I was too busy feeling euphoric and was determined to make the most of this unexpected break from the outside world. One could actually open windows without being assaulted by cacophonous sounds of screechy traffic. The air had become so clean, I could actually see my neighbour weeping on her balcony. Rivers were detoxing with relief. I would often stand near our windows for hours hoping to spot a leopard.

Nature was healing, you know!

As an act of self preservation I pretended not to care at all. I had even mastered the dead fish look while I faked astonishment and awe with panache. But pretty soon it became impossible to be the ostrich and ignore the sudden influx of talent parades. Inside me was a raging dust-storm. My heart was breaking into tiny pieces. I tried assuring myself my heart would emulate the Japanese art of Kintsugi. The broken pieces would magically rejoin themselves with lacquer dusted gold and become so beautiful that I’d be tempted to take it out and flaunt it for envious glances.

Even as I was busy dismissing these divas as wenches suffering from performance anxiety, constantly seeking validation from strangers who they will never meet, a part of me was dying to wear the crown. I wanted to do back flips and splits in my living room, without crashing into the furniture and breaking a limb or two! I wanted my breads to rise and shine and sing an aria too while they were at it! I was finding it impossible to accept I was a lazy oaf who lacked the willpower to pick up a new skill, or master a language I may never use.

My impatience and addiction for a drug called Netflix was the biggest impediment between me and imminent greatness. Obviously I have many hidden talents. I just don’t have the time to rake them out!

Eventually I did find my refuge, not in french bread braids, overripe bananas or my vocal chords, but in my rows and rows of potted plants. If I could clean pigeon potty all day and feel like their long lost Mom without wings, surely I could adopt my plants and smother them with tender care! Plus they needed protection from these winged assholes who were treating my helpless plants like their ‘all you can eat buffet!’

These days when I’m not having intense conversations with my plants, giving them pep talks on growth charts and targets, I’m involved in their grooming. A nip here, a tuck there, and they look party ready. Since they are total failures at self defence, you can often see me running like Hima Das and raging like Mamata Banerjee , trying to protect them from incessant pecking by my resident winged rodents. I even tried assisting in the birth of a few potted herbs. I mean who doesn’t love fresh from the patio mint, cherry tomatoes, sweet basil, and fiery chillies! Unfortunately most of them chose an early death over my anxiety ridden caregiving.

I may have finally found my true vocation as a serial plant killer. That’s a talent, right? Damn, let me do some home workout to celebrate! That’s another thing I’m really good at. Duck walks, crab walks, dead bug, burpees challenge, plank hold till paralysis sets in are my favourite way to die first thing in the morning. Also, when the world reopens, I want to fit into all my dresses and stun everyone with my reduced waistline.

I’m still not able to make up my mind, which talent to choose to make me everyone’s heartburn. Should I make a YouTube tutorial on how to make gunpowder out of pigeon potty and earn the adulation of millions of grateful men and women! Or upload a post on how to have curd rice in 15 different ways!

I could always add mop analyst to my growing feathers on my cap. I have done an inordinate amount of research and money in finding that swashbuckling mop that can reach every nook and corner of the house at my bidding. In my new avatar as ponchha guru, I can educate men and women how to not let BJP (Bartan jhadoo ponchha) fuck with their lives during quarantine.

Phew, I can finally sleep without tossing and turning, now that I know I am not letting quarantine pass without disappointing my eagerly waiting fans. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

India – URine Trouble

10 December 2022 – Nitin Gadkari is the first Indian to be awarded the Nobel prize for Piss and India can’t stop bursting their bladders with joy. This is the first time any Indian minister has been awarded for doing something productive. Another first is the category that was especially created to honour Mr Gadkari for leaking his novel idea in making India the number one country in pee sufficiency.

What started off as a simple idea of harnessing every Indian’s inner piss to make urea has now boomeranged into a Yellow revolution that has not only made us the global hub for fertilizer, but also bio-fuel sufficient and manufacturer of world’s brand-new favourite miracle drug that can cure diarrhoea, viral, bacterial infections, cancer and its aunt with just one swig. Patanjali’s Pissleri is now being exported to 195 countries and has replaced Green tea as the undisputed king of unverified claims that everyone loves to believe. With the emergence of Tea, Coffee or Pee as the millennial’s favourite café to hangout, Starbucks has closed shop and is planning to try their hand in bhajiya business.

Since no one uses petrol anymore, Saudi Arabia is now a mecca for dates and is the favourite hunting ground for Shiv Saina and Hindu Mahasabha.

To the bitter disappointment of sickulars, pseudo-leftist-jhola-loving-JNU-going doomsayers, India is finally seeing acche din and proud Indians can’t stop patting their full bladders for its invaluable contribution to the economy. Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas is no a longer mann ki baat but reality.

India’s journey from Pee negative to a Pee positive country was far from easy. Like any brilliant mind, when Gadkari first floated his out of pot proposal of harnessing urine to make our own urea, everyone including the writer of this piece missed the moot pint and chose to ridicule him instead. Like any visionary he chose not to get pissed off by mockery and remained steadfast in his vision of sucking out the last drop of urine from us to make our future golden.

Thanks to his unshakable belief that all his ideas are fantastic, airports all over the country now have giant stills that store every flyer’s urine. Unlike the rest of the country it makes no distinction between Savarna, Avarna or minority pee and is the modern day Prayag where all hues of urine mingle freely. Though sources claim the ‘always outraged Hindu’ pee fetches the highest price for its bright orange colour.

Nitin Gadkari’s garden at his official bungalow in Delhi has long reaped the benefits of his golden bounty and his rows and rows of pissed-off plants have shown better growth than India’s GDPee. Thanks to Gadkari’s revelation, women who were previously condemned as vindictive for pissing in their guests’ and MIL’s tea are now being hailed as ‘peelanthropists’. They are now being urged to mix pee in their family’s tea as well.

Pissing on the wall is now considered a corporate social responsibility. Since both men and women are motivated to pee on walls, it has been hailed as a big step towards gender equality. City dwellers are also actively encouraged to go to a nearby farm and pee to their heart’s content to help farmers and are often treated to a breakfast of farm fresh veggies that have a unique salty after-taste. Farmers are no longer agitating but vegetating in their newly found wealth all thanks to Pradhan Mantri Mootra Yojana.

The Nobel Prize for Piss comes soon after Nitin Gadkari was conferred the Muttuswamy award – India’s highest honour. According to WhatsApp forwards, the mayor of Brussels has proposed putting up Gadkari’s statue next to the famous Manneken Pis at the city square. Since it will take up a lot of space they might have to demolish a historical building or two.

Gadkari jee these days is often heard bragging about the magic manure that his plants have fallen love with. Once he reveals the source of his manure, India can stake its claim as the word’s number 1 and number 2 country.

Just the thought of it gave me stomach cramps.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

2018, a LOU story

Heartless Nimmo ran away with all of Pran Nath Banke’s money leaving him with egg on his face. The neighbourhood is abuzz with it. 
Technically it was not his money but we’ll come to that later.
Many of his men friends turned up at his place with ‘we told you so’ condolences. He was yet another casualty of the nefarious schemes hatched by women out to squeeze helpless men dry of their juice.  
Too bad this was not Love Jihad otherwise they could’ve hacked Nimmo into boti sized pieces.
Theirs was an unlikely LOU story. Nimmo and Banke were as different as wine and lassi. She, pish -posh, born with a diamond ring in her mouth, soft spoken and petite, who wore nothing but couture. He, a hard-working simpleton, unpretentious to the point of shabby. A quintessential nice guy he was every aspiring mother-in-law’s dream come true. Since he only spoke Punjabi and she really bad Gujarati in a firang accent, they communicated by poking each other. Nimmo had even given him a cute nick-name - Pokemon. 
Nobody expected Nimmo to be the runaway bride. Leaving on a jet plane, with not even a note when she’ll be back again.  Didn’t even wake him up to say goodbye. 
She was after all from a rich khandan and from the looks of it definitely not in need of his money. Ok, not his money but given by others for safeguarding it. 
Idiot. Couldn’t even do one job right! 
It’s not as if Pran Nath Banke was short of suitors. But they were mostly middle-class and needy. For the uninitiated this is the breed that has to earn their own money instead of inheriting it from their family and then pays most of it as taxes to a government that doesn’t do its job well. Our dear Banke loved to make them sweat like they were in a Mumbai local. One of the commandments of the holy grail of dating is act like a government servant. Keep mum, make them run, and always look disinterested, just like a dead fish. It is rumoured he even made one them dance on broken shards of glass like Basanti in Sholay. 
The poorer they were the nastier he was with them. 
Nimmo was subjected to none of this. All she had to do was shimmy in a skimpy tight dress that could have gotten her raped but didn’t and pout seductively. Then she faked some interest. And before she could croon ‘are you loansome tonight’, he was hopelessly in LOU with her.
Unfortunately, his inner voice that was screaming Banke, you fool, you are giving her too much credit, was put on mute.
Maybe he was not so nice after all. Maybe he was asking for it. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Snacking Is India’s Favourite Pastime Right After Outrage

Courtesy - Google Images

Hunger is one of our most primal needs, because it’s food that sustains and comforts us, and gives us joy. Sometimes we get into such an intense relationship with food that it borders on obsession. This kind of relationship usually ends up in heartbreak. I mean what can be more sorrowful than seeing the needle on your weighing scale cross unchartered territories! Which is why the most dangerous type of hunger is the one that has more to do with your state of mind and very little to do with the rumblings inside your stomach. It starts as a little voice inside your head, soft at first, coaxing you to reach for that pack of crisps that you’ve hidden inside a 60-feet pit you dug a few hours back. The one that you were not supposed to buy but still bought it. The one whose existence you were supposed to forget like the promises politicians make just before elections. But damn, it’s stuck inside your head like a fly in a pot of jam! The more you try to ignore that bloody voice, the louder it becomes. It has now installed monster sized amplifiers inside your head. Your hands are now feeling clammy and you can hardly breathe. And that voice is now sounding like a chorus of crazy cricket fans chanting – just eat it, dammit!

You start clawing at the mud with your fingers, sweating with desperation, eager to reach to the bottom of the pit to that green and orange pack that you bought from Kalu ki dukan. You tear open the pack and gobble its contents in 10 seconds flat. Your face is now smeared with the orange spice that’s making your nose gush like sewage during monsoons.

Crispy roundels of heaven, packed with absolutely no nutrients, hollow claims, lots of guilt and 100% guaranteed satisfaction. These devious things cast a hypnotic spell on you. You know it’s bad for your waistline, yet you keep digging in for more and more like a greedy politician.

Eyes half closed in ecstasy, your breathing is now slow and languorous and then you take a deep sigh of regret.

It’s not as if Karni Sena will come running after me to behead me if I choose to snack on carrot sticks and a handful of chia seeds instead. But having a healthy snack is against Indian culture, no? Especially when you are born in a country that takes its munchies as seriously as not a doing a thing about toxic air that the capital is forced to breathe.

A mind-boggling variety of farsans, chop, jhal-muri, bhelpuri, phuchka, dahi bhalla, momos to choose from. Uff! It’s like you are Vishwamitra and these apsaras are out to wreak havoc on your carefully laid out diet plans.

Sweet, savoury, crunchy, chewy, there’s something to suit everyone’s palate.

We love our snacks so much that we even invent occasions to give us an excuse to indulge ourselves.

When we were kids, winters would mean picnics and picnics would mean taking breaks between munching on peanuts, puri-aloo, gajaar halwa, pakora and chai to play the mandatory game of badminton and losing yet another Frisbee. If you are a Bengali you’d have the added bonanza of having cold boiled egg sandwich with banana. If you crinkled your nose in refusal, you’d be rewarded with the sight of Bhutoo kakima rolling her eyes like a windshield wiper on a rainy day. And rainy days mean that veggies have no option but to dip themselves in a batter of gram-flour and jump in a karhai of hot oil. God made winters so that we could get fat and content consuming kilos of gajjaks, revdis and chikkis.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Women not crackers make Diwali special

Take out the woman of the house from festivities and it becomes a cold, empty house waiting to be filled with happy laughter. 

A major cluster of our cherished childhood memories hover lovingly around festivals. And it was our parents, their extra efforts that made these celebrations so special for us. Add to it the innocence that didn’t count calories, fret about the logistics and then complain about the stress, these occasions were the most looked-forward-to. 

Festivals for most of us were not just limited to the day of celebration. Like any well scripted story it built up over time, kept us on tenterhooks, made us impatient with excitement before reaching its crescendo.

It would start with anticipation of goodies which would give an extra spring to the steps we took. Unlike the hedonism of the present that eats out twice a week and shops till it drops, our past had few excesses. Our parents belonged to the era that believed in rationing material pleasures. So eating-out, a new dress and shoes were would wait for special occasions. If we had just watched a movie, stopping for ice-cream on our way back was a sure shot way of corrupting our souls beyond repair.

It was during festive occasions that our parents loosened up a bit. We were allowed second and third helpings of sweet treats and a few more when Mom was not looking. Almost all of them were homemade and invariably made by her. She’d spend long hours in the kitchen while we danced around her like excited puppies.

Is there anything in this world that tastes better than fresh off the griddle malpua dunked in a degchi of sticky sugar syrup?

When she was not busy in the kitchen, she was engrossed in making alpona on the floor with ground rice paste while I’d squat beside her and watch her in mesmerised silence. Each festival we celebrated had her distinctive stamp –from the 14 diyas she lit on chhoti Diwali, to the bhog she made during Lakshmi Puja, to the paste of turmeric and mustard oil she’d keep for us in the bathroom to slather ourselves with in honour of the beauteous and talented Saraswati. Durga Puja meant weeks of preparation for the many competitions that were held at the pandal during the Pujas.

When you are ten, all you want to do is make your Maa happy. So you recite poetry with emotions you don’t comprehend, participate in dance-dramas with your face caked with ghastly make-up, play musical chairs even though you hate it, all in an attempt dazzle her friends and relatives with your unimaginable talent.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Have We Let Our Children Down?

Photo courtesy - Google images

You don't realise how deeply you are capable of loving till you have your own child. As an adult who’s seen the world that can be kind and cruel, soft and harsh, cheerful and sinister, you want to shelter them from the worst and experience the best humanity has to offer. You want their childhood to be a cherished memory and not a nightmare.

So, when you read about a boy, all of 7, killed brutally for resisting sexual advances of a crazed man inside the safe confines of his school, your heart bleeds. You are filled with rage at the school for taking safety of your most precious so casually. You grieve for the parents who will be left with a gaping hole in their heart for the rest of their lives.

But the first thought that engulfs any parent is – what if it were my own child! I was living in Brisbane, and my daughter in Delhi when the Nirbhaya incident sent chills down our spine. It also brought out my worst fears. As much as I hated myself for doing it, I would ask her to be home by evening, carry a Swiss Knife with her at all times and my insides would turn into a gnawing jelly of anxiety, every time she wouldn’t pick up the phone.

Every time a child gets sexually assaulted or worse killed, we are overcome with helpless rage. It was appalling to find out that Ryan International has toilet facilities shared by students and the non-teaching staff including drivers and conductors. Children are easy targets for deviants. Also it's a known fact that paedophiles seek employment/engagement in organisations where they are in close proximity with children. It’s baffling that the school didn’t bother with background checks before hiring the non-teaching staff.

It is a colossal tragedy of our times that sexual abuse of children is not given the importance it deserves. It is either shrouded in complicit silence or the perpetrator is let off with a reprimand. The bus conductor who murdered Pradyuman allegedly had a history of sexual misdemeanours. Yet the school that dismissed him just a few months back didn’t think it was important to file a police complaint.

As a nation whose track record of safety for its citizens is far from exemplary, we still do not have a national database of sexual offenders. It’s not as if demands for one have not been raised before but our outrage that follows reports of sexual abuse in schools has the attention span of an amoeba.

The Delhi Police has chalked out a plan of action to look into the issue of security of children in schools following the Ryan incident. I am sure the Haryana government will also come up with their own list of rules and regulations for schools to follow. But simply drafting hurriedly made rules for children’s safety is not enough. If new laws and rules could keep us safe, no woman would be afraid to step out in the dark, no man would think twice before stopping to a take a bleeding accident victim to the hospital, no rapist will have the audacity to rape again and again.

Police background checks become just a useless piece paper when you know that the police chowki will simply sign the form without any physical verification for a mere 500 Rs. Regulations are of no use if the school lacks the sincerity to implement them.

One single lapse is all a predator needs to slip through the safety net.

So how do we keep our children safe?

Monday, August 28, 2017

How To Be An Asshole and still be Mistaken as God

Hello, my lovely disciples

Let me start by congratulating you for being a lucky bastard. Now now, don’t start fancying yourself as John Snow. Your case is different. You are blessed to be born in India and a time where despite free flowing spirits, spirits are at an all-time low and outrage at an all-time high. With the breakup of Suraj Barjatiya type of familial connections where even the dog is happy, families have become nuclear, happiness an elusive entity, satisfaction comes with no guarantee and everything you cherished is being relegated to history. You are often consumed with the fear of being part of the rootless and faceless herd, leading a life of perpetual consequence. And boy, you are so right!

Now that I have acquainted you with reality, don’t try to kill yourself or others by sharing your soppy poetry about your shitty life. If you follow my guidelines carefully, you can become the most powerful and wealthy asshole, with a following of millions ready to lap-up any bullshit you spew including achhe din. You don’t need degrees from elite institutions or be particularly gifted. All you need is a gift of the gab and a proclivity of making promises you have no intention of fulfilling. You have to master the art of making a fool of millions. Once you’ve achieved that, anything you do or don’t will be hailed as the best thing to have happened to mankind since chhole bhature.

Across the world religion is becoming the fastest growing business venture. Since there’s never a shortage of the gullible masses waiting to believe that their very existence is under threat from evil forces, all you need to do is prey on their fears and make them believe you are their saviour. If they don’t have it, create it. Mine on their ignorance and you will yield a rich harvest of unfounded fears and hostility towards one and all. Make them feel wronged, alienated. Then you can slowly take control of their lives by becoming their spiritual guide, psychologist, family confidante, semen donor and money launderer.

Remember, this is the age of instant noodles, news, outrage, opinion, love, breakups, fame and satisfaction. So why should salvation be left behind! If all it takes is two minutes to commit a grievous sin and make Maggi, it is unreasonable to wait a lifetime for moksha. And since God is like homeopathy, more faith than reality, it makes sense to look for the real deal in flesh and blood.

So here lies your opportunity for becoming their God. The one that can be seen, touched, heard, and is a one stop shop of redressal for all their grievances.