Friday, July 20, 2012

Manipal Blues

Charlie Chaplin, that maverick Genius, once famously proclaimed, “ I love walking in the rains so that no one can see me crying.” Though I am an unabashed fan of this versatile comedian, I do not agree on his this philosophy. Grief is an intrinsic part of a human life. It is that curse which one has to carry; an albatross for having being born human. If we can share happiness and joy, why our grief should be hidden. What is so macho about not crying? I like to wear my emotions on my sleeves. Perhaps it is this openness that encouraged many youngsters to come and share their problems with me. The range of pathos was incredible. I heard some of the most absurd to the most heart wrenching tales. I do not know if I succeeded in providing any solace to the troubled souls. If I failed, it was definitely not for want of trying. Manipal has its share of tragedies every year. Many students die of accidents or suicides. Accidents are sometimes unavoidable but suicides are definitely not the solution for any problem. I remember two students who were underperforming in their academics and betrayed suicidal tendencies. That they chose to change their mind was more credit to their inherent courage than my persuasion. If they happen to be reading this, I once again tip my hat to them. A human being is capable of absorbing any tragedy however serious. Time is the balm which eases the severity of pain. I saw two profiles in courage which make me proud but still makes my throat go wet whenever I think of them. One morning we had barely opened the store when a couple walked in with a ten year old son. The dine-in staff is never happy to see anyone that early. It upsets their rhythm. One of them was about to tell the family that there was still one hour for us to open when I noticed the child. He was in crutches and was helped by his father on a wheel chair. I called my staff and told him to continue with his cleaning and I would handle the guests. They told me that they had come from Bangalore for their son’s operation. I asked them to have a seat and handed them the menu. The mother was apologetic and said they could come back later. I offered them soup and sandwiches as they don't need oven. As their order was being prepared I chatted with the kid. I was surprised that they had come all the way from Bangalore. But the father told me that the Manipal Hospital is one of the best. The kid was handling the pain with admirable dignity. As they were finishing their food, I offered the kid a complimentary truffle cake. His smile brightened the store. “Uncle tomorrow is my operation. will you come to meet me.” Like Sheldon in ‘The big bang theory’, I have an aversion to Hospitals. I am quite healthy and whenever I am sick, I try to manage self medication through Google, not a very healthy practice I must say, but quite effective for me. But I heard myself saying, “Meet you? I am going to be there all the time while they operate you inside.” He gave his signature smile once again. Sadly, his operation was a failure. His parents were dejected. But he was all sunshine. “We shall come next year again. I shall then be able to walk without crutches.” I waved them through teary eyes. Today when I close my eyes, I imagine him playing football, the game he dearly loves. An optimist like him will definitely win the odds. Another time, a young girl studying commerce in a local college in Udupi, came with her old grandmother. The old lady was diabetic. She had multiple allergies and was a high blood pressure patient. But she was insisting on eating all kinds of foods. “ I am not going to live long. Let me eat what I want to.” She kept on saying. We carefully planned her menu within her choices. She wanted to try mint mojito, our most popular drink. The young lady was worried about the impact. I am not an expert but I knew that all carbonated drinks were not good for her. I had a brain wave. I asked her if she would have lemon tea with me. The old lady said that she couldn’t find it in the menu. I winked and said we keep it for special people. I went to my apartment and brought the tea bags. As the young girl excused herself to go to the wash room, the grandma conspiratorially winked and said she wanted her tea with sugar. Again she repeated that her family doesn’t understand. She won’t live long. I joked that she could have sugar if she promised she won’t die here in the store. I don’t want cops to arrest me for murder. She laughed naughtily and told me she had a half pastry in the afternoon. We had a great time and regaled each other with funny stories. While paying she wanted to pay for the tea as well. I told her it was on me. After a week the young lady came and informed that the old lady had expired in her sleep. Her last real meal was the one she had in Pizza Corner. While dying she remembered me and asked her granddaughter to thank me for the tea. It was a poignant moment. I looked out at the bright sky and pointed to the star that was twinkling the most and said, “That must be your grand ma.” She smiled and squeezed my hand. Her eyes moist, she said, " Thank You."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

An open letter to Rahul Gandhi

Dear Rahulji,
I am a great fan of yours. Whenever I look at you ( sadly which is rare! God, why can’t we have more elections), my heart flutters and a thousand cuckoos sing. I don’t honestly know whether the damn bird sings. But I started loving them after some silly reporter compared you with a cuckoo. Never mind she was sarcastic. Thank God your Italian is better than your English and it went over your pretty head. You smartly retorted , “ Do I look like a cuckoo !” we Congressmen, all cuckoos, applauded.
I wonder what took me so long to write to you. I have a great respect for entertainers and trust me you are right there at the top. You were like a uncut diamond. Then you found the perfect Guru. You know most of the comedians shine in pairs. History is replete with such examples. Abbot and Castello, Laurel and Hardy, Tom and Jerry. Now you two. Digjvijaya Singh cracks us whenever he opens his mouth. I think after Sholay’s Dialogues, no other dialogue has won so many admirers as his ‘ Blame it on RSS’ comments. Why ,RSS should seriously make him their brand ambassador!
But this is about you and not him. Thanks for providing us so many happy moments. Because of you , I now look forward to all the elections because that is the only time we get to see you. I can’t miss the entertainment you provide for anything in the world. Imagine you naughty boy. Tired of mommy’s bland pastas. Eating at the road sides, sneaking unannounced into some poor tribals hut and stealing their food. It must be fun isn’t it. But remember boy. Momma sent you on serious business.
You are a real chip of the old block aren’t you. Your father provided us with the same hilarious moments. Remember his famous, “ Hum jeetenge ya loosenge” or his mixing up the name of the cities where he was canvassing. He was a good man like you. Your father. May his soul rest in peace.
These days it is fashionable amongst us Congressmen to request you to become a PM. Don’t listen to those numbnuts. They are not really your admirers. After all what more will you get after becoming a PM. At least now you are like a Lotus ( Ouch. That must be some RSS conspiracy.) No blame sticks on you and no credit ever escapes you. (We congressmen are smart and know which side of the bread to be buttered. Sorry Rahulji. I am a dyed in wool congressman. You know our English. I am sitting with a book of Idiots which my Idiom son gave me. He is slapping his head. Dad You mixed the idiots and the idiom. Innocent boy. He doesnt know us politicians he he. We can babble for hours without making sense. What are a fewed mixed words! But my Italian is better ,trust me. )
‘ All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. So go play Jack. I mean Rahulji. Perish that thought of becoming PM. You can be away half the time of the year cooling your heels or whatever in UK or wherever , come once or twice a year, read some silly statements written by some lackey in Parliament ( They are terrible I may say; but your charisma carries them through ) and then again go on a vacation till the next election. Thanks to all that rest, You are always sparkling. We haven’t forgotten all those gimmicks. That ride in a local, hehe, booking the whole bogie ,fooling no one except that silly press. Remember the english media going gaga. Stupid English press. Honestly half the idiots join the english press. ( The remaining join the TV.) Don’t worry about them. They literally eat out of your hands.
You just don’t worry about the common man also. He is dumb too. That is how your family ruled so long. But you must be wary of only one person. She may destroy your Utopia. I worry for the day Lil Sis joins politics. Don’t get me wrong. She isnt smarter than you! Nah my prince. No way. But we live in a sexist world and sadly more than half of this world is made of testostrone driven youngsters. Just think what competition will your cute dimples give her.
So beware. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Finally Good Luck for UP my Prince. We are praying that you do better there than Bihar.
Inshallah you will ( Election time Prince. We want the Muslim votes don’t we. Wouldn’t hurt a little Urdu here.)
Khuda Hafiz.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ipod,Me and Spirituality.

Ipod, spirituality? Steve Jobs must be laughing up there. But stranger things have happened. When you are going through a creative menopause you feel like your pen is wearing a condom. The creative juices just refuse to flow. You get your metaphors mixed, the grammar doesnt seem right and the ideas get wobbly. You pray for that one act of providence. God make me write something sensible.
Here I was in the holy town of Triveni, right in the middle of the confluence of the three holy rivers totally fascinated with the siberian birds. These birds needed no visa and yet no one dreams of deporting them. I was trying hard to get them on the boat. But they just wouldnt come. Bribing them with food could only bring them close but not inside. I was trying hard but still that one picture was elusive. I was being distracted by the jerks in the boat and the jarring voice was of God’s messenger, the extremely loud and irritating priest. The Priest was trying to convince me to take a dip. It would rid me of my sins. Not able to convince, he was now explaining the full cycle of human life. “ what goeth around cometh around.” But still I wasn’t convinced. Nothing ever came back to me.
Not that I do not like water. I am a true blue blooded Piscean and take to water like a fish. But this was different. The smell of death was all pervasive. We were here to immerse the ashes of a close friend’s mother. Wherever you looked , you could see only boats and tonsured heads. I felt like it would be an insult to the dead. Didnt matter if i came back a human again in the next life but i am not dippin in.
Suddenly there was a call. It was my sister. The whole family was visiting me for christmas. She gave the whole plan and then while signing off casually told that she is bringing my ipod. In that fragile mind of mine , I felt jolted.
Onal had completed her MBA and it was her convocation. I was in USA then and was visiting her. When I asked what she would like to have as her gift, she didn’t think for a moment, IPOD. It was new then. Today when we think back it sounds like day light robbery. It wasn’t even 1 GB if i remember well and the price was $250.
Time flew and soon Onal got married. Her younger brother went to hostel to studying engineering. The doting sister gifted her prized possession to him. The price was irrelevant. She had collected some priceless music in it. But time still refused to stop. Soon Yugesh completed his studies. It was time for him to leave. He doesnt believe in much baggage. So it was redundant to have an ipod when you could download the music on your mobile. He asked if he could give it back to me and hence the phone call.
I looked incredulously at the priest. “ What goeth around cometh around”. Without a word I undressed and slipped into the holy water. Washed of my sins, I was brand new again.
The birds also seemed happier. They gave me one breathtaking picture. Take a look. It could win a contest anywhere.
Now only if i get the flow of my writing back, I would be a practising Hindu.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How Bhajji won the Champions League Trophy.

Lasith Malinga looked around and spotted Bhajji by the pool side eating vada paav and washing it with some fruity looking drink. “ Panha.” He explained. “ Made from raw mango. Very popular with the Maharashtrians.” Malinga was impressed. This is a really great country. Unlike Srilanka, they assimilate the other cultures so beautifully. But still he decided to probe deeper.
“ But I thought its time for a patiala peg.”
Bhajji lowered his voice. “ We are in Mumbai. Can you see all those pesky photographers. Let them click and go. Then we can go inside and eat chicken tikkas with some scotch.” Malinga was nonplussed. “ Why do you eat this if you don’t like?”
“ MNS. Raj Thakeray.” Malinga stared at him dumbly. “ Look. I am out of the national team and this is my only source of income. Can’t risk rubbing this guy the wrong way.”
Malinga looked at him suspiciously. ‘ et tu Brutus?” “ No. No. just a figure of speech.”
Malinga thought for a moment. So many questions and no Guru. He had another doubt. “ Why do they call it Mumbai team? There are no Mumbaikars. All are foreigners.” Bhajji shrugged his shoulder. “ We really don’t care. It’s a national culture. Don’t you follow politics? Our government looks Indian but look who actually controls.” Malinga was impressed. “ Wow. You are brilliant. You should join politics.” “ Well I tried. I met Madam Sonia Gandhi and Advani ji. Normally they contradict each other. But this one time they both spoke the same language. Both were tired of that one Sardar in their party and didn’t have the energy to handle another one. Advaniji went one step further and explained that the only reason he didn’t give permission to Navjot Sidhu to go to Bigg Boss was because they promised him that Sidhu would come out after one month. He thought he would be in forever.” Malinga wasn’t interested. He really came to chalk out strategy for the final against RCB. Bhajji’s eyes were focused. “ We will win the cup for sure. I have to teach someone a lesson.” Malinga surely understood. Now they were on the same page. “ Yes Yes . The selectors must be taught a lesson. How dare they drop you.” “ No not them. Who is interested in representing the National team. Haven’t you seen Gauti and Sehwag. It’s Mukesh Ambani.” Now Malinga was totally lost. What had Mukesh to do with it?
Bhajji Explained. “ You know why we lost the finals last time. Mukesh Ambani bribed our team to lose.” Malinga couldn’t believe his ears. Why would he do that. Now Bhajji was irritated. “ Don’t you watch the TV. Remember after the semi finals I had lifted Nita Ambani. Mukesh was plain jealous. He didn’t want a repetition. But this time I am determined. He is busy with many law suits. He watches more of Court proceedings than cricket. ” Malinga had another doubt. “ Don’t you think we will become unpopular with some Indians if we defeat their team.” Bhajji assured him that Indians were like oranges. We look one but remove the skin and we fall apart. We never agree on anything.
“ Besides if we lose, we will become unpopular here in Mumbai. This is our bread and butter now. Can’t risk doing that.” The veteran paused. Clearly he was thinking. “ You know the country supported me as one only once.”
Malinga had a wide grin. Wider than his wide balls, “ I can answer that. They are our enemy too. When you whooped the Australians.” Harbajan looked at him with pity. This dumbo can only throw slingers. But he was his team mate and had to be mentored. So he patiently explained, “ No silly. When I slapped Sreesanth.”
Malinga was overwhelmed. Here was a leader. We had to win for him. He was chanting while going to his room, “ Yes we can. Yes we can.” But Malinga being Malinga couldn’t remember which pop singer sang that song.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Steve Jobs is an RSS agent

Dear Steve Jobs,

I am very depressed today. Honestly I am a very big fan of yours. In fact I cried only twice in life. Once when Michael Jackson died and second when you died. You were my hero.
But I came to know through very informed source that you are an RSS agent. My heart broke then. The name of that informed source is Honorable Digvijay Singh Ji. I am mentioning his name very respectfully because he is patrolling the internet these days and lodges an FIR against who ever he feels is using abusive language against him. It gives him enormous stress. Never mind his own language. He can call a swamy a thug. If things go out of hand he doesn’t hesitate to use his knuckles and knees. He can be a motor mouth really. But then he is Honorable Digvijay Singh.
Now you may wonder who is he and how did he find out about you. Well let me take back to your own country. After that dreadful 9/11, you remember the sniffer dogs you employed to find bombs. They are pretty smart dogs. My legs were shaking once when they came and sniffed my bag. Well this man is smarter. Here we use him instead to find out who is an RSS agent. And he is pretty good at it. His party is ridden with corruption. But he tries to pin all the blame on RSS. A good dog this one. I mean a good man. He does it very sincerely. In fact we are waiting for another startling disclosure from him. His honorable president recently went to USA for a surgery. Turns out that was the handiwork of some RSS goons. We are waiting for him to enlighten us.
He has other qualities too. He is the mentor of our crown prince. It couldn’t be for nothing. You see the prince holds a very important position in his party. Although he does nothing, they find ways to credit him for everything that goes right and find ways to cover up all his foolishness by apportioning the blame on someone else. And this honorable man is adept at it.
Another quality he has is he is a very secular man. He loves his muslim brothers. It doesn’t matter to him if they were terrorists. Well whoever said love is blind. So he calls the dreaded terrorist Osamaji . I do not know his views on another dreaded terrorist Kasabji. I guess we will have to wait for some elections to come. The fountain of love then simply overflows.
But coming back to you, why am I calling you an RSS agent. Well first of all my iphone crashed and I lost all my valuable data the day you died. I thought it was my tribute to you. Just like Nehru’s famous speech when Mahatma Gandhi died – The light has gone out. I thought all the iphones have gone. But no. it couldn’t have been anyone but an RSS agent. This was a conspiracy by your RSS.
Another point. Anna Hazare, that loathsome man, has given you the credit for his lokpal bill. He says that he saw the proceedings of the parliament on his ipad. Now my hero, the Honorable Digvijay Singhji has always claimed that there is a foreign hand actively trying to topple their clean government. People thought it is one of his usual rants. This horrible man Anna Hazare even suggested that he should be sent to a mental Hospital. But now he stands vindicated. Never mind the humongous corruption, never mind the inefficiency of his government, there is a foreign hand and that too, it is colluding with the most despicable RSS.
How could you my hero! Oh, how could you! Long live Digvijay Singh Ji.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sex and the City

The Dussehra came and went without a fuss. There was nothing much to celebrate. The Ravanas are still alive and kicking. We shall keep pretending that all is well. Anna Hazare will keep on threatening that he would go on a hunger strike for one reason or the other till people get bored of him. In the meantime the Ravanas in power will continue making money, those in Delhi will continue raping their women and those in Mumbai will continue throwing north Indians out of locals. Life will go on as usual.

My posts are fewer now. Almost like once a month. Been busy with completing my novel. Now wait eagerly for the literary agents to start rejecting! Rowlings was rejected some thing like forty times. So I still have a long way to go. Also there wasn’t much to write any way. Besides no one seems to be missing me. Ah Chetan Bhagat! I hate you. Your books are cheaper than my pizzas. I am losing not just my readers, but my customers too!

Being in Hyderabad has allowed me to catch up with whatever is happening on the TV. They Hyderabadis love their movies like they love their food- hot and spicy. Sadly, it is easier fighting in Kargil than going out and watching a movie. The Telangana war has brought out all the violence out of the movies and into the street. So TV is the safer option.

The Bigg Boss is back. It feels like the producer hired a porn writer, offered him some weed and a CD of ‘Snow white and the thirteen dwarfs’ ( OK. It was seven. Grant me the poetic license will you!) and ordered him to rehash. What we now have is a veritable soft porn of the basest kind. We have a eunuch, a snake charmer, the wife of a serial killer, a washed out Pooja Bedi who would surely dip the sales of Kamasutra Condoms which she had so steamily launched and a list of jaded out of work models and actresses. Shakti Kapur , the snow white does what he always did best. He can jarr your nerves. But still the peeping tom in me was kept glued. I wasn’t disappointed. God! Am I not cheap enough already?

Another show that caught my fancy is the one and only Rakhi Sawant’s show. It is quite refreshing. Contrast it with the plastic Simi Garewal. I have no hesitation in admitting that I am a big fan of her. She is plain guts! Nothing, not even a lack of talent, can come in her way. Her English can be as delightful as her personality. It took me a while to understand ‘small mammary’. For you ignoramus, She meant short memory!

But then, why single out her alone? The Hindustan times screamed a heading on Sep.28, 2011 ‘ Are we a nation of flashers!!” what is happening? Have we suddenly realized that we belong to the land of Khajuraho and Kamasutra? Or have we stopped using the dictionary because our staple read is Chetan Bhagat .

There was one show that was a definitely thumbs up. ‘The Masterchef Australia’. The participants are judged on their culinary skills by a team of very knowledgeable and polite judges. They have charm oozing out of every word they speak. The format is very tough and engrossing and there exists a very healthy rivalry among the participants. They are competitive but not mean. Interestingly, there is an Indian too. Kumar is surely kicking some ass. A must watch.

Finally, here’s the prologue of my Novel, ‘The Bare truth’. All kind of comments are welcome. Even the decent ones. To the abusive ones, I can dismiss them like the diva from that favorite news channel of mine. “ Trolls. They are plain jealous.”

Dear Ajinkya,
I hate two things in life. Prologues and tragedies. My bad luck, I am scripting both. Ouch! Even we have to swear by our luck!
Perish the thought that your Lady Luck is some sixteen year old sexy nubile. I am seventy five, arthritic and to make it worse have Carpal tunnel syndrome. So I take the help of my sixteen year old grandson to type your fortune. He is bipolar, ugly and an inveterate homosexual. I am old fashioned and cannot fathom how homosexuals can be gay? So I still call them homosexuals. Coming to my grandson, he is going through a severe depression. So he is vengeful. But I had seen the glint in his eyes when he saw your turn. After all you were the only male today. I was furious and cursed, “ Go kiss his ass.” Sadly for you, even a guy like him finds you ugly. That made him crankier. And so he replaced the ‘ss’ in kiss to ‘ck’. That is how you find yourself in the Hospital with a bruised ass. Wish I could say ‘Good Luck’! But I am helpless. I can, however, offer you some advise. Go find the right doctor. See a brain surgeon!

Yours truly,
Lady Luck “

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ms. Batlivala goes on a Fast.

It is not easy being a socialite. Mrs. Batlivala could be a case study for all the IIMs on how to multitask effortlessly.
But the last thing on her mind was IIM. To be fair to her she didn’t even know or cared what was IIM. She had a more important issue on hand. So as she carefully nursed her glass of Chablis between her thumb and forefinger, Her More menthol dangling sexily in the recess of her middle and forefinger, she absent mindedly picked up a canap√© and deposited it her mouth. Then she picked up a tissue and brushed off her designer white kurta. She had avoided the cap as it would have been too obvious.That old man had made the fashion statement of the year. She wore below a ballooned white lower which resembled a dhoti quite oblivious of the fact the Mrs. Sachdeva was sniggering in the ears of Miss sexy legs, “ Looks like there was a fire in Mrs. Batlivala’s house and she wore everything she could lay a hand on.” Miss sexy leg smiled politely careful not to spoil her lipstick. She was meeting her boss in The Taj for an afternoon rendezvous.
Mrs. Batlivala wanted to pull of a quick one. She wanted to fast. It was fashionable. But she wasn’t too enamored of that old man. She wrinkled her nose disgustedly. Typical middle class. And the woman who as with him. God! What awful fashion sense. But Kejriwal. Oh he is an absolute doll. She felt her legs go weak thinking of him.
Now the reason she was getting these anxiety attacks was that she had to something fast. She searched in her bag and felt the comforting presence of Restil. Thank God for these anti anxiety pills. She had to act fast before someone else does it. Should she have an ‘Anna’ theme party or should she go on a fast.
Thirteen days. She rolled her eyes in horror. Who on earth in his right mind would do that. She liked Narendra Modi’s Idea. Nice air conditioned comfort; three day fast. short and sweet.It was like the old man was playing a five day cricket match and Modi a one day.
She was a big fan of Modi. Loved his sartorial tastes. Look at those lovely kurtas. And the white beard. One could play football on his wide chest. She felt giddy. Oh lord! Why are the handsome men either single , taken or gay? The press is comparing him with Rahul Gandhi. She dismissed it instantly. Boys will be boys and men will be men.
She reached for the wafer thin cucumber sandwich as she signaled the waiter to refill her glass. Her mind was made up. she would go for a fast. She could always decide on the cause for doing so later. But three days would be too much. She could go for a T20. Something between Lunch and Dinner so she could be in time for the evening ball . being the cynosure of all eyes.
There would be no orange juice to break the fast. It is so passé. Maybe a melon juice. Nice and sexy . or perhaps strawberry. Let me check with the bar tender if he could dish out something delightful that would go well with my white dress.
She stood up determined. There was still time to think for the cause of this fast. But a lot had to be done. Inviting the TV crew, ordering snacks for the meet the press party announcing the fast, planning on the glassware; should it be a champagne flute, tall and sexy or Paris goblet round and wholesome or a simple juice glass , deciding what to wear for the party errr fast then go for shopping. She had to buy accessories and shades. Lot of work and no one to help dear me.
“Oh lord. Is anyone as socially committed as me?”That was the last thought as she left the club.