Category Archives: Why we need to be irreverent

Why India Needs Steve Jobs – Part I

As usual, I have ended up writing a monstrously long blog post. But this time I am going to play it sensible. In order to get more eyeballs, I have split the essay into two. Here is Part I. I will release Part II in a couple of days but only if more than 3 people read this one.

 

The world was humming along nicely until one day, sadly, Steve Jobs, died. May God rest his soul.

Now, there have been plenty of eulogies written and scores of paeans sung for him around the world, but the real Steve Jobs still continues to be quite an enigma to many in India. You see, Indians judge a foreigner’s importance through our simple unitary assessment parameter, which is – What does the person think about us. If their impression about India is positive, like with Clinton, Ahmedinejad and Brett Lee, we love the person back unreservedly by, say, naming food dishes after him, or buying their crude oil despite the world’s sniggers, or offering them Horlicks sponsorship deals etc. If not, as in the case of Naipaul and Rushdie, we fucking don’t care – in fact we don’t even consider such people worthy of being called foreigners. Bloody half-twit wannabes they are – who are they to judge us anyway? Don’t they know that our great civilization has existed for 500000 years, that’s almost 5 years longer than the distant second-placed Chinese? Have they not seen pictures of the Taj? And had India not invented the Zero, well, it would have been curtains for the Lunar Module trying to find its way back to Houston, and then there r-e-a-l-l-y would have been a problem. And don’t even get me started on Slumdog Millionaire. ‘Heartfelt Ode to India’ my ass. Lies, all of it! You produce in front of me one person in this country who pronounces the word ‘millionaire’ as ‘Mill-A-Nair’ and I promise you that I will name my next baby boy as Oscar.

Anyway, I think I might be digressing a trifle, so let me get back to my subject. Steve Jobs. Sadly, there has always been much trepidation here about where to peg Jobs’ greatness at since little is known about the time he spent in Manoj Kumar’s favourite country. The only stories one hears of Jobs’ visit are the half-truths about the trip he made to Benaras, where he spent all his days fighting chikungunia and malaria instead of doing what young American backpackers really come to the holy city to do. That being, to learn yoga, smoke hashish, research the correct way to tie the langoti, smoke hashish, learn to pronounce ‘Oum’, train on how to use a lota instead of toilet paper, and to smoke hashish.

The fact is, India to Steve Jobs was way more than a mere survival guide in the absence of Laal and Kaala Hit, or the presence of diarrhea. It is so sad that everyone’s totally missed Jobs’ sublime India connection. There was none of it mentioned even in his recent biopic featuring Ashton Kutcher in and as ‘Jobs’ – the actor prudently chosen to play the World Best Innovator based on his only previous acting stint as the dimwitted Kelso in ‘Friends’.

Truth be told, Jobs was a genius for he had found the formula to not only conquer the western worlds of America and Europe by unleashing iNnovative products there, he was also going to stamp his greatness on proudly-penniless countries like India. No, not by selling his electronics here through EMI and Exchange offers, you fool! No, that vile sales ploy was best left to the Koreans. Jobs was going to be relevant here by being a political consultant.

To know more about that, one must dive deeper into the truth about the founding of Apple. Did you know that the initial idea of that company came to him while watching Salma Sultana on Doordar-sham?

So, decades ago, Steve Jobs was sitting and munching Dilli Fruit Chat in his half-star hotel room in Pahar Ganj in Old Delhi. The chat had been liberally sprinkled with delicious MDH Chunky Chat Masala (yes, this is a sponsored product placement, but the emotional sentiments described about it are my own) and it distinctively brought out the subtle flavor of apple from the fruity mélange. (Lo, and behold, Jobs had a corporate brand name!) As he sat and watched the sullen-faced, single-rose bedecked newsreader half-mumble every single word she spoke amidst visuals of Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi cutting ribbons, lighting lamps and making speeches, he knew that our nation needed help. ‘One day, I will create something which I will call the iPad Mini…and by God, every upper-middle class teenager in this country shall own one!’ he prophesized. ‘But hell, not if they go on like this. This country’s in the shitter right now!

So, Jobs knew what he needed to do. Apple, his new company construed over a bowl of Dilli Fruit Chat, needed to not just be a technology giant. It also needed to be a Political Consulting Company that would make a country like India strong enough to be able to buy those iPad Minis that he knew he was going to produce in China one day. Jobs was already aware of the profoundness of the entity he had just conceptualized, and the indomitable excitement of the moment simply caused him to eat way too much chat that evening. (And that led to diarrhea and all that other mess that happened in Benaras later – you already know about all that.)

And that, my friends, was the beginning of Steve Jobs association with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Steve Jobs at an Indian Fancy Dress party (Image shamelessly pilfered from the internet)

Steve Jobs at an Indian Fancy Dress party
(Image shamelessly pilfered from the internet)

The rest of the story will happen in Part II in a couple of days. 

 

Now that the second part has been written and uploaded on the blog, lazy folks will want to proceed to it by clicking here. I am calling them lazy because they don’t seem to want to leave a comment below for the first part. Sigh. So disappointing!

 

The Top 7 Fake News We Would Love To See Come True!

Want Red Beacon Light? Go Through Potency Test First

September 4, 2013 : New Delhi 

In an effort to control the ubiquitous menace of red beacon lights on vehicles, the Supreme Court today ruled that all public officials desiring one will now be required to take a Potency Test first. The court felt that the gross inconvenience involved in going through the test might serve as a deterrent for most aspirants.

This is a file photo. It was not taken during the Potency Test.

This is a file photo. It was not taken during the Potency Test.

It may be recalled that the Potency Test was recently in the news in the Asaram Bapu case.

According to one of the doctors directly involved in handling Asaram Bapu’s surprisingly sprightly genitals, the potency test requires “one to cause stimulation of private parts through manual movements.”

The court did not elaborate whether the official will need to pass the test in order to obtain the red beacon light. However, the results of all Potency Tests conducted for this purpose will be available to the public under RTI. The court is still mulling whether video filming the test as part of record-keeping should be made mandatory.

 

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Sachin Tendulkar To Make Bollywood Debut As Amitabh Bachchan’s Son

March 11, 2015 : Mumbai

The question about Sachin Tendulkar’s next career move since he retired from all forms of cricket has been answered. Agencies report that the ex-cricketer has signed his first Hindi film under the Yash Raj Films banner. The film will also star Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan in key roles.

According to sources, the script has been penned by Aditya Chopra. The original version had Amitabh Bachchan playing a father of twin sons – both sons to be played by Shah Rukh Khan. But with the new casting coup, extensive script changes may need to be made since it is unlikely that the audience will accept Shah Rukh and Sachin as brothers, let alone twins, and Amitabh Bachchan’s sons at that. Sources suggest that Sachin’s character may now be shown as an adopted son.

“Dubbing over Sachin’s original sweet voice by someone more manly is out of the question,” explained an insider close to the project on condition of anonymity.

Reportedly, the original idea of having Deepika Padukone as the leading lady of Sachin’s character has also been shelved.

 

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2014 Lok Sabha Elections To Be Decided Through Reality Show ‘Rakhi Ka Swayamvar’

July 14, 2014 : New Delhi

Given the stalemate produced by the latest Lok Sabha elections where neither the UPA nor the NDA are in a position to form the government, President Pranab Mukherji has decided that the two bachelor Prime Ministerial candidates, Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, will have to face-off in the new season of the popular reality TV show ‘Rakhi Ka Swayamvar’.

Pick me, Rakhiji, pick me!

Pick me, Rakhiji, pick me!

Thees bhill bhee like keelling two stones bheeth hwan bard,” the President declared in his address to the nation last night, carried live by Doordarshan and Zee Bangla.

Loyal viewers of the reality TV show explained that the show involves two bachelors slugging it out to win the affections of Rakhi Sawant as she lines up impossible amorous tasks for them, for example, writing poetry about her beauty, plucking stars from the sky etc. The program’s producers insist that they will stick to the winning formula despite the two high profile participants.

“Not only will the winning bachelor claim the hand of Rakhi Sawant, which already would be the biggest jackpot of their lives, he will also win the Prime Ministership,” explained Ronnie Screwvala, the head of UTV, the studio that produces the show.

“I think it is a win-win for everyone,” said Smriti Irani, the most articulate BJP leader of all time, when asked for her comment. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the UPA, declined to comment.

 

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The RBI Forays Into Toilet Paper Business

September 4, 2013 : New Delhi

With its vast supply of printed Rupees not likely to find any takers for the forseeable future, the Government of India today decided to convert all its currency notes into toilet paper rolls. The decision was taken unanimously by the members of the Planning Commission and the Reserve Bank of India. The project will be executed by the RBI.

Speaking to reporters after the marathon meeting, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Planning Commission Chairman said, “We use the best quality paper for our notes. It seemed criminal to waste them.”

Mr Ahluwalia seemed mortified at questions related to the availability of the Rupee Toilet Rolls to the Indian consumer. “This is for export only. We will earn precious foreign exchange in return for our worthless paper,” he said.

“Besides, 65% of the country doesn’t even have any toilet access. So what is the point in focusing on the Indian market?” he asked.

 

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The Times Of India Becomes The World’s First Ads-Only Newspaper

October 2, 2013 : New Delhi

In a step that was long overdue, Bennet, Coleman & Co. Ltd announced that their flagship brand ‘The Times Of India’ would henceforth be an ads-only newspaper. All 96-pages of India’s leading daily will carry only advertisements, no news.

“Our readers won’t even notice any difference. As you know, we already stopped printing news years ago,” stated Mr Jug Suraiya, Associate Editor of the newspaper.

Understandably, the staff at The Times is very proud to be the world’s first newspaper to have declared itself news-free.

 

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Tech Buzz : Facebook To Start Paying Its More Loyal Users?

September 4, 2013 : Palo Alto

The technology world is abuzz with rumours of an impending statement by Mark Zuckerberg, the Chief Executive of Facebook, where he will announce the roll out of a bonus payment plan aimed at the most loyal users of Facebook. According to insider sources, Facebook Inc. is so flush with funds that it will pay out US$ 1.00 to every loyal user for each ‘like’ the person clicks. That amount is expected to go up to US$ 5.00 for every comment typed.

Birthday greeting messages, however, will not be encashable.

A ‘Loyal User’ has been described as anyone who sends out at least 10 Facebook Friend requests daily. Alternatively, if you spend all your waking hours refreshing the notification button, you may also qualify as a ‘Loyal User’.

It is already well known that Facebook pays US$ 1.00 for every ‘like’ or ‘share’ of photos of sick or deformed children that most Facebook users observe on their Timelines all the time. It is estimated that close to 6 billion such lucky children have already been cured, thanks to the philanthropic activities of Facebook.

However, critics of the new rumoured policy have already started complaining. “Who does he think he is? Bill Gates? I hope he goes to Africa and dies of Malaria,” said one of the Winklevoss twins when contacted. It was virtually impossible to tell which one of the twins that was.

 

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Alok Nath To Limit His TV Appearances

September 4, 2013 : Mumbai

There was widespread panic in the Indian Television world today when veteran actor Alok Nath, simply known as Baba in all the serials he has ever acted in, announced that he was going to limit his TV appearances to only 50 serials at a time. Baba currently stars in all 148 serials aired across all TV channels in India, including many in regional languages.

Mujhe maaf kar do, Beta

Mujhe maaf kar do, Beta

“He can’t do this! I have 24 serials that will get affected by his arbitrary policy,” complained Ekta Kapoor, owner of Balaji Telefilms.

“But, Beta, where is the time to do so many serials?” Baba asked this reporter in his characteristic voice, furrowed forehead and I-am-just-about-to-cry expression. “Besides, I have also been offered Suraj Barjatiya’s next film in which I play the head of a joint family. I play Prem, I mean, Salman Khan’s father, and Reema Lagoo’s husband in the new film,” he added happily.

At the time of going to print, the TV industry and Baba were still discussing an amicable solution to this deadlock.

 

 

 

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. The theme is SEVEN. This post features seven made-up news stories. Fake, sure, but millions of people pray and fast each day hoping that they will come true. 

The Seventh Wonder Of The World

When I first learned about the Seven Wonders of the World in school, I went, “Hein, Ma’am are you sure?” After all, except for the Pyramids of Giza, none of the items on the hottest-places-to-see-in-the-world itinerary even existed anymore. Clearly, the Travel & Lifestyle folks of yore had been quite sluggish in updating their Best-Of lists. Anyway, I discovered quite recently that a new Top-7 list has been produced, and this one does have places that one can actually go to and click a suitable Facebook profile picture at.

Mayawatiji with halo

Mayawatiji with halo

I was also joyously happy to see my favourite politician Mayawatiji’s property making the cut. No small feat for a person who started her journey to greatness as a humble school teacher. By the way, Happy Teachers Day, Mayawatiji! Except for the Yadavs, everyone loves you!

Which brings me to the property itself. Mahamaya Taj Mahal, or simply Taj Mahal as it is known among the plebs, is a glorious monument built by Shah Jahan centuries ago (use Google if you really want to know exactly when – must I spoon-feed you?) when his beloved wife died bearing him his fourteenth child at the ripe old age of 29. It was a fitting tribute to erect such a huge building in her honour considering it was most likely the man’s perpetual erection that did her in.

Anyway, back to the Taj. I am certain that it wasn’t quite smooth-sailing to construct a building of that complexity. I suspect some of the conversations during its design and construction might have gone like this –

 

A’la Azad Abul Muzaffar Shahab ud-Din Mohammad Khurram, or simply Shah Jahan for short : (with thundering anger and blazing eyes) What the hell is wrong with you, you bloody nincompoop? Didn’t I say that I wanted taller minarets? What is wrong with you architects these days? Don’t you ever listen?

Taufeeq Contractor, Chief Architect : (trembling with fear) But, Sir, that was what I was trying to explain to you the other day. Any taller than this and we will not be able to get the blueprints approved by the Housing Board!

Shah Jahan : Who cares what the Housing Board says! I will just stuff their mouths with 1-Rupiya coins! Have those minions even seen what a 1-Rupiya coin looks like in their entire life?

Taufeeq Contractor : (sheepishly) I am sorry, Sir, but…

Shah Jahan : But what?

Taufeeq Contractor : They have declined to accept any bribes in the shape of Paisas or Rupiyas.

Shah Jahan : (spitting angrily) What?

Taufeeq Contractor : They say that they will only accept Dollars.

Shah Jahan : Dollar? What in Allah’s name is that?

Taufeeq Contractor : It’s what our cousins on the other side of the world, the NRIs, are using these days.

Shah Jahan : (ferociously) These blasted Native Red Indians! I hope someone from Europe goes to the New World and fixes those bloody rats once and for all!

Taufeeq Contractor : (almost whispers) : And there is one more thing, Sir.

Shah Jahan : What’s that?

Taufeeq Contractor : They can’t approve 8 minarets. They say that so many minarets are an earthquake hazard.

Shah Jahan : (angrily shakes fist) La haul vila kuvat! I hope they rot in hell!

Taufeeq Contractor : I am negotiating with them for six. Hopefully they will agree, otherwise we may have to settle for four. Or two. But it will cost extra.

Shah Jahan : And to think we already had to grease quite a few palms to get the riverside plot assigned to us.

 

So, as you can see, even in 16-hundred whatever AD, obtaining the right site, and getting a floor plan passed by the Municipal Corporation was like pulling teeth. And this man was the bloody King, for Christ’s sakes! Then, a few days later…

 

Shah Jahan : (annoyed as usual) Just make sure all the paperwork is pakka. I don’t want anyone in the future trying to take over this whole Taj Corridor and passing it off as their property!

Hukum Nawaz, Wazeer-e-Daftar (Chief Secretary) : As you command, Jahan-Panaah.

Shah Jahan : Any news on the Underground Parking?

Hukum Nawaz : Sorry Sir, but that plan has been rejected.

Shah Jahan : (with nostrils starting to flare dangerously) What the hell! Why?

Hukum Nawaz : We are too close to the river. It will cause seepage problems.

Shah Jahan : Damn it! Now where are we going to park all the horse- and bullock-carts? We needed at least two floors of underground parking!

Hukum Nawaz : Sir, we will have to use the area in front.

Shah Jahan : And have those four-legged monsters eat all my imported grass and dunk their heads into my expensive fountains? Use your brains, Hukum Nawaz!

Hukum Nawaz : Sorry Sir!

Shah Jahan : What sorry-shorry! You just have to come up with an alternative plan for the traffic.

Meanwhile, the Emperor has to still manage his personal life, and the fourteen sons his loving departed wife left him with. The most obnoxious one is the eldest.

Abul Muzaffar Muhi-ud-Din Mohammad Aurangzeb, or simply Aurangzeb : Papa, come play Emperor-Slave with me! I want to pump you with arrows.

Shah Jahan : (irritated) Go away, boy, can’t you see that your father is busy?

Aurangzeb : (angrily) But, Pops, you always keep saying that! Why do you never listen to me? Come! These arrows won’t hurt much. Look, they are Made-in-China.

Shah Jahan : (equally angrily) I said go away. Don’t you make me angry, boy!

Aurangzeb : (even more angrily) You wait till I grow up, Papa. When I am the King, I will lock you up in prison and throw away the key!

Shah Jahan : (dismissively) Yeah, yeah, yeah, we will see about that, you Dumbass!

Shah Jahan yells to the maid who comes scurrying.

Shah Jahan : (authoritatively) Kaneez, take this juvenile delinquent away. And make sure he doesn’t manage to sneak into my chambers again, ok?

The maid bows. Then, Shah Jahan calls her close to him to pass on covert instructions.

Shah Jahan : (whispering) He likes to butcher people. Just provide him a few slaves so he can play with. Who are we to curtail his natural instincts? At some point in the future, people like him will be very famous. There may even be books and plays about serial killers!

 

The boy is taken away screaming and yelling egregious threats at his father. Meanwhile, the Emperor has another visitor who has been stopped at the door.

 

Hukum Nawaz : Sir, it’s Anarkali. She says she must see you. It’s urgent.

The concubine. Alas, there is no hope of getting any serious work done today. The Emperor caves in.

Shah Jahan : (mildly irritated) What is it, Anarkali? Just speak quickly, I don’t have any patience with your slow, husky, whispered tone today.

Anarkali : (in a huff at being scolded in front of everyone) Ok, I will make it quick. You promised me a new Sheesh Mahal where I could do my dance performances, and where the walls and ceilings would mirror a million reflections of my swirling Anarkali suit and dupatta. What the hell happened to that plan?

Shah Jahan : We will get to that by and by.

Anarkali : (still annoyed) Delaying tactics! Why are you focused on that dead woman’s mausoleum when you should be focused on me!

These damned women, the Emperor says to himself.

Anarkali : (starting to cry) Do you really not care that at some point someone will want to make a biopic on my life? What good it will be if there is no item song featuring me in my own grand Sheesh Mahal?

Aaaaaand she begins to cry.

Anarkali : (for extra effect) Have you no heart?

Shah Jahan : (sighing loudly) Ok, ok, my dear, let me see what we can do.

Anarkali : (immediately back in control of her tear ducts) Yes, and you had better do it quickly.

Suddenly his father’s original idea of entombing the whining woman doesn’t seem like that bad an idea to the Emperor.

Anarkali leaves happily. The Chief Secretary and the Emperor are back to discussing the monument.

 

Shah Jahan : Ok, what’s the plan about Labour? Do we have 20,000 labourers ready for the show?

Hukum Nawaz : (excitedly) Yes, Sir, we are working on that. We are getting some from Bihar and Jharkhand. Others are being summoned back from the Middle East.

Shah Jahan : What about their contracts? Remember it is imperative that they don’t stay on in the construction business after building my property. We can’t have them copying our style elsewhere! And we certainly don’t want them building Casinos in the New World that look like our monument!

Hukum Nawaz : Exactly, Sir. That is why we are making them sign a Confidentiality Agreement.

Shah Jahan : Sign?

Hukum Nawaz : Yes, Sir.

Shah Jahan : (blowing his top yet again) Naa muraad! Do you think they can read or write? Sign, he says! You bloody IAS-type idiots! Do you not know anything?

Hukum Nawaz : (extremely mortified) Sorry, Sir! We will come up with an alternate plan.

Shah Jahan : What alternate plan! Can’t you just cut off their arms after the job is done? Isn’t that simple?

Hukum Nawaz : Oh, absolutely, Sir. That can be managed.

Shah Jahan : Ok, good. What about all the raw material? I am warning you again – I want only the best quality marble!

Hukum Nawaz : Yes, Sir. Absolutely, Sir! We are sourcing it from Rajasthan via NOIDA. The only hitch is hauling it all the way to Agra.

Shah Jahan : So what are we going to do about that?

Hukum Nawaz : Sir, can I ask you to fast track an Expressway from there? From NOIDA to Agra? That way, our bullock carts can just zip through at double-digit speeds.

Shah Jahan : So fast! But is it safe? To drive so fast on the Expressway? What is this – some kind of Formula 1?

Hukum Nawaz : Oh, totally safe, Sir. In fact some of our spies in Europe claim that the highways there are so smooth that horses and oxen practically slide on them. And there is no speed limit on those roads either!

Shah Jahan : No way!

Hukum Nawaz : Yes way, Sir.

Shah Jahan : So how can we get this Expressway done quickly?

Hukum Nawaz : We should really go ahead and give the approvals for it. In fact, (coughs) some of the interested builders are willing to (cough), you know, write ‘ghazals’ for Jahanpanaah.

Shah Jahan : I see. How many ‘ghazals’ are they willing to give…errm, write?

Hukum Nawaz : Sir, the going rate is 200 ‘ghazals’. You know, pure gold ‘ghazals’.

Shah Jahan : What shit! Tell them nothing less than 500 ‘ghazals’ will do! 200 ‘ghazals’ my fat ass!

Hukum Nawaz : I shall let them know, Sir.

Shah Jahan : And warn them that if they don’t write me the right number of ‘ghazals’, I will sit on their file forever.

Hukum Nawaz : Absolutely, Sir. Yes, Sir.

 

Well, Taj Mahal supposedly took 20 years to build. It used the best marble from Rajasthan and the best stones from wherever else (just Google it, for Heaven’s sake). Quite a handful of a project for the great Shah Jahan who later died in captivity. (That bloody Aurangzeb locked him up, you see!)

But, in the end, we all got our Taj Mahal, the only Indian thing that features in Hollywood disaster films when they have to show worldwide destruction of the planet.  

Meanwhile, one assumes that the right amount of ‘ghazals’ never passed hands between the builders and the government for centuries. The Yamuna Expressway wasn’t inaugurated until 2012. It cuts down journey time between Delhi to Agra from over 6 hours to under 2, possibly the smoothest road in the country where zipping at 160 kmph is a-ok. But will it ever be featured in any Wonder Of The World list? Unlikely.    

 

 

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. The theme is SEVEN. This post features a person and a monument, both are among the Seven Wonders of the World as far as I am concerned. 

 

‘The Hand That Rocks The Cradle’ – A Stupid Short Story About Entirely Fictional Characters

Image stolen from Google

Image shamelessly stolen from Google

 

“I told you to stop doing that!” the mother admonished her boy a second time as he continued to blow bubbles in his bowl of cold milk with a straw. Getting him to finish his breakfast without drama was climbing fast in the list of rants she had with her life. Heavens knew she had other, bigger things to worry about.

“But, Mamma, I don’t want to go there,” the son wailed. “No, No, NO!” his voice began to rise with each utterance of resistance.

The mother sighed. It was the same argument over and over again. ‘My beautiful boy, but stubborn like an ass!’ she thought. She had already tried her damndest to make him shift to the other house just a few blocks away but everything had proved futile so far.

“But you won’t be there na, Mamma!” had been his first pushback when she had broached the subject with him several months ago.

“I will keep visiting, my little baby,” she had tried to counter-argue. “Plus, Ramu Kaka will be there. And Bhalloo, your favourite teddy. All your toys! You won’t even miss Mamma after a while!”

“NO!” The intransigent monster had stuck to his toy guns.

Then, a few days later, she had tried to change her tactics. “Ok, so how about I go live with you in your new home for a few days? Will that make you happy?” she had asked.

“Yes! But what will you do after a few days?”

“I will return back here,” she had said quietly. “Mamma can’t stay there forever, my child.”

“NO!”

Failure.

It wasn’t just her efforts that had proved futile. Several other Uncles and Aunties had urged him, too, but none of it had mattered.

Today, she had decided that she needed to get to the root cause of his obstinacy.

“Are you scared to go there?” she had asked him a few minutes ago as they started breakfast.

“No…” The voice sounded timid.

So, he is scared!’ the intuitive mother realized immediately. No wonder he had been resisting so vehemently! No amount of toys, gifts, threats or mollycoddling was going to help if she didn’t address his primal fears. She needed to know what it was. Ghosts? Girls? Old men with scary beards?

“What is the matter, my poor baby?” asked the concerned mother in her best kindly voice. Then, suddenly sensing that the boy probably didn’t want to go to the new house because he was scared of the man who already lived there, she asked, “Has that man said something to you?” Her voice was back to being mildly angry.

“No…” the quivering voice repeated.

“Tell me, boy!” the mother demanded sternly this time.

“No, he hasn’t said anything!” he said, almost in tears.

“No? Then why are you scared of him?”

“Because he doesn’t say anything! He just stares at me quietly. I think he wants to eat me!”

The mother laughed loudly. Her stupid little boy.

“He is not going to eat you! It’s not that he doesn’t talk to you alone. He talks to no one!”

“So, is he dumb?”

“No!” the mother said angrily. “Don’t use foul language against Singh Uncle! And remember, he will leave once you arrive there. So there is nothing to fear anyway!”

The mother was interrupted by the sound of footsteps behind her. It was the maid. She was panting as she walked briskly.

“Madam?” the maid said as she faced the mistress. “Priyanka Baby is on the phone. She says it is urgent.”

Bloody hell,’ shrieked the mother in her mind. ‘What has Robby done now?’ she wondered. As she pushed back her dining chair and rose, she gave a stern look at the boy again.

“Listen here, no more fussing! You are shifting to No. 7 next year. It is DONE. No more arguments!”

The sullen boy’s face fell. The lower lip trembled and the eyes welled up promptly.

“And you had better finish those cornflakes before I come back after dealing with your sister!”

 

 

I hope the reader has realized that this is not a short story, merely pretending to be one! After all, I don’t want the CBI coming to arrest me in the middle of the night and hauling me away to jail in my underwear. With my pretty looks, nasty things could happen to me there!  

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013. The theme of this festival is SEVEN, so do pay attention to where that number has been used.

 

 

Do They Do It With Mirrors? (A Mystery Of Agatha-Christie-esque Proportions)

There are a mere handful of people who have seen me naked since I gained adulthood. Yeah, I know that’s pathetic considering I have lived the life of a debauched single guy for many years. And, it is especially so when I confess that I have included in that handful, all the barbers that I have had rendezvous with during this time. Yes, barbers, because that is one breed of ravagers who have seen me at my most vulnerable. Them, with their shifty eyes, fidgety hands and obtrusive tools, chipping away at my soul one thrust at a time, and me, perched atop their chair, tender and defenseless under a flimsy satin sheet. With naked fear in my eyes. Ripe for pillage. And the subsequent shame, ridicule and ostracism that always ensues.

Barbers. The Modern Day Barbarians.

The good old days when I would just run the lawn mower on my head myself every 5 days.

The good old days when I would just run the lawn mower on my head myself every 5 days.

The other day, the sadomasochist in me reared his ugly head again after lying dormant for months. My hair had gotten too long and anarchic and needed to be clipped, nipped and whipped into submission. Within minutes, I found myself bound and gagged (ok, so maybe not literally) to a beauty chair at a salon called Finesse (oh, the irony). The perpetrator, who introduced himself as Brijesh, may not have been in leather but was wearing earrings, which was quietly reassuring. The man looked at me and asked me how I liked it. “Well, why don’t you surprise me?” I said. He was flummoxed for this was not what he was accustomed to hearing. He was a simple man with 3 simple settings – Short, Medium and Long. Anyway, he proceeded to give me an explanation that made no sense. As my blood pressure elevated and my pulse rate shot up under my deceptive composure, Brijesh Scissorhands went about doing bad things to me neck up. After half an hour of elaborate fussing, I must say, I did look like a human being with a real address. Well, for ten minutes, anyway.

Ten minutes later, I was found weeping into my pillow at home. It was the same old story. Was I ever going to learn?

Barbers (and I am including everyone of their ilk in this generic category – from the pretentious hair stylists and experts to the unassuming neighbourhood ‘saloon’/’parlour’ boys and girls) have got to be the worst clairvoyants in the world. How else to describe someone who has absolutely no idea as to what his own creation is going to look like the very next day (or in the next ten minutes, as my most recent episode)? And that brings me to a side-bar question – Given the proclivity of ‘Haircuts’ to fail within hours, why aren’t verbs like disintegrate, dissipate, evaporate etc. used more often in their context? For example, this is how one could use them in a sentence (or three) – “Jack screamed ‘I’m the King of the World’ as he left the hair salon, but even before Rose had a chance to check out his sick style, his haircut had evaporated. Jack felt robbed, after all, he had paid 5 whole shillings for it. Eventually, none of that mattered much because within the hour, his boat sank and he was dead.”

Now, while your salon-style haircut may have the lifespan of an insect, do remember that all barbers are not equally bad. Some are worse. For example, I am wary of those who are extremely chatty. They want to know everything about you – who you are, where you live, whether you like parrots etc. I am not quite sure what their modus operandi is. I suspect all of this kind to be serial killers. You know, the ones who would keep a lock of your hair as a memento? Those. Next time I run into one of this kind, I am going to make sure I take away with me every single strand of my chopped hair. Beat that, bitch!

And then I got tired of the lawn mower....and let the hair grow.

And then I got tired of the lawn mower….and let the hair grow.

Then there is the category of barbers who have complicated conversations with you about your hair. They would make you sit on that chair and stare at you for several minutes, inspecting you like an unsculpted rock from all possible angles. Prepare for impending disaster if they start discussing your “options”, much like a brain surgeon discussing a trickily located tumor. For example, a simple question from you like – “What do you recommend?” – could yield the following answer, with some swishy moves of their stylish hands – “I am thinking we should approach this from the top – give it a longish look from the right and a slightly conventional look in the front, because, frankly, there isn’t much to go on there. Then, some heavy trimming at the back to control the bounce otherwise it will be difficult to manage all that body. And the back should be roundish, not like it is now. But if you absolutely prefer squarish, we could do that, too, but we should really, really try to avoid that. Ok?”

Say what? You lost me at – ‘there isn’t much to go on there’. For the next 30 minutes, you can think of nothing else but that giant bald spot that is to be your fate by, what, next week? And then for several nights, tossing and turning wondering what to do about it. Olive oil? Multani Mitti? Curd? Milk? Hamdard ka Badam Rogan Shirin? Aishwarya’s 5-solutions-in-1 shampoo?  And, pray, who is “WE” for goodness sake? How many alter egos do I need to tip here?

Occasionally, you will be accosted by a barber whose first reaction after fondling you for several minutes will be – “I love it –so soft! How about I style it like Johnny Depp (or worse, Harry Styles)?” When faced with such a scenario, I urge you to run, not walk out of the salon. Don’t even bother picking up your iPhone and car keys – those trifles of your life can be replaced once you are safely away.

And more still

And more still

In closing, alas, I have no golden thoughts. If you have no hair, or if Hobo is your look, rest assured that God has been kind to you. The rest deal with this eternal question every waking moment of their lives – How is it possible for plain-jane-ordinary you to look like John Abraham when you are given the 360 mirror treatment at the salon, but promptly decompose to a Mayawati the moment you step out? HOW is that possible?

Next time, I am going to take a closer look at those mirrors.