COUNTER ARGUMENT

“The year was good for me you know. Goals and achievement, what better way to assess a year that’s gone by?”

Accomplishment, he corrected her as he continued to type in the computer.

 

“I completed my first novel. Roughly hundred pages, but I finished it nonetheless.

You have no idea how liberating the feeling is.”

That’s a novella; he corrected her again while making the coffee.

 

“I have also kept my weight in check. I’ve lost 2 and half pounds. Maybe I will fit in that little black dress.”

Do I wear glasses for that, because I cannot see it, he scuffed out while stirring the coffee.

 

“John, why are you so grumpy all the time?”

“Will that be all ma’am?” he said with a fake upbeat voice she was accustomed to.

 

“I actually feel like having nuggets”

“Would you like fries with that?” he spat out.

 

“No. you’re very mean. How much is it?”

 

“That’ll be 4.5$.”

“Thanks and cheer up. And happy New Year”

 

“Hello, Welcome to McDonalds, how may I help you?”

P.S. I DON’T

This was her ninth day of boredom. The walls stood scratched. The nails sat chipped, playing chalk. She wanted colour. Any shade of colour could do. Walls, nails, life; all were a bland shade of white. Just like her face off-late. She continued to stare into the mirror. For hours. Looking for a semblance of the present or a glimpse of the future. All she got though were remnants of her past. The hair was new. The dress was not ill-fitting any more. No bra holding her together. Her appearance was a desperate attempt to be ready for the times to come. But the eyes were refusing to let go. 19 months later, Riya still hated the mirror.

The sun was late again. Every season it tried to trick her. Creating patterns and false alarms, just to rise before she did. She had been defeating it for 3 years now. That’s over a 1000 days. What she termed as moral victory, was in fact psychological. Extrovert for the world, introvert by nature, her challenge was rather peculiar. And her methods, odd. When the sun would reign supreme, she would be fast asleep. She picked her fights or so she thought. Living in constant control or in an imaginary world, reality was something she was afraid of. She couldn’t reveal herself. She was afraid. In her psychological triumph, lied her moral defeat. She always wondered though, what do scars feel like! Nia was about to find out.

This was her fourth round of cupcakes. This batch was as good as the third. Or the second. Or the first. She was happy with each. Yet, she did not want to stop baking. Her men weren’t fond of cupcakes. Good ol’ sex was just fine. She was allergic to non-smiling faces. So she tried hard to generate smiles. As much as she could. Cupcakes were her latest weapons of choice. Some needed sex. Others wanted cupcakes. She wanted to be loved by all. And she wanted to love them all. But within this generous web of love of hers, there was one exception. Herself. She had to be the one for someone. And she would make someone the one. She would hold onto any half-baked reason. Logic rested near her bed some days. Other days it was perception. Within this scattered state to belong and unbelong, she found her expression in a rather expressive form of singing. Susie had taken to the opera.

Self-loathing. Voyeurism. Experimental sexual orientation. Incessant laughter. Pretentious company. New friends. Ex-boyfriends. New friends. Dog. And then hours of loneliness. This is her regular day. Leaving the professional genius genes aside, she was often confronted by a hollow truth – loneliness. A self-designed, self-taught loner who rebelled in spells. These spells were often masculine in nature where she brought a naïve feminine side to the table. Interspersed with motherhood and wifehood, she lived a short story every once in a while before returning to the lonely quietude. Hurt though had slowly drugged itself into her life. And it was greeting her everywhere. At every corner. At every bar. In every drink. And in every man. Today her need for hurt was more than ever. “Men and Women. Do you have it in you to hurt me? If you think you do, you can drag your sadistic mind along at the address given below. Come alone or bring friends. If you can make me cry with your words, I’ll make you cry with my body.” – Natasha.

She was not twisted. Never one who gave in for poison. She was born and raised within four walls. And behaved like one who was born and raised within four walls. Taboo meant taboo. And sins were something that she would not commit by choice. Every ounce of desire that was outside her comfort zone was forbidden. She forbade it herself. The clock continued to tick and the sun continued to set. The beauty of the forbidden world had found a place in her head. And it was crying for more space. According to her, she fell for his eyes. But in reality, it was for what he really was. He was everything that the world did not want her to have. All the wrongs, all the sins, all the guilty pleasures packed in a masculine form. The four walls were brittle now. They were shaking. Just like her knees. Her dressing became more elaborate. Her clothes snipped themselves. The hair swirled in braids sometimes; it flew open whenever he wanted it to. Her hairclip and pants and bras had one thing in common – they came off whenever he ordered them to. The four walls would fall anytime now. Just before they could, he disappeared. Into someone else’s arms. Someone else’s pants. Someone else’s eyes. She wanted to hole up in her room. Return to her old self. But Sheetal’s world had come crashing down, just like the four walls.

He was busy chronicling his affairs. Jogging his memory back to hey days of the gypsy. And the wild adventures he had embarked upon with her. Those memories were special. His chaos always sought order. Regrettably, he couldn’t find it in her. So he left her nails behind with her and moved on to find order, on newer shores. A glimpse of the wild side. That was enough to get him hooked. He persevered. He found order, and then he missed the chaos. The guilt of the gypsy was still fresh, shaken he chose not to stir this one’s senses anymore. As he left from her backdoor, he bumped into the oracle with cookies. It was scarred. It was unconditional. It was utopian. It had the precise amount of unreality to it. Before he could take a step forward, she made it conditional. She was trapped by the illusion of the one. Order was out of the bag. It took a sabbatical. Encountered with chaos again, he decided to play. He wanted to go for the Full Monty. Unfortunately this new one wanted the same thing. It was tempting, but he decided to let go. He was running low on hate those days. Order met him on his second drink. How he had missed order. Order, then held his hand and walked him home. When he woke up, he was elated to find her sleeping next to him. Excited, he fucked her, though in his head, he had made love to her. With order by his side again, Rehaan returned to his original quest to find order in chaos, never realizing order’s world had come crashing down.

Comic Relief: Based on the life of Venkat Ananth

Great philosophers tried to warn us. Woodstock tricked us into a culture of free love. As the wheel was turning, the horror that was going to be slapped on our ears was slowly growing. Convergence, one world, joint ventures, oh, the world tried to make up for its mistake, but they failed. Political parties waved its flag of regionalism, but the globalized society would not hear a word. From fail, this effort was epic fail.

The dreaded day arrived. The world met the coloured, globalized, secular, whatever fuck you wanna call it, inglorious accent of Venkat Ananth. It happened to me day before yesterday. Mr. Annoying met Mr. Accent and both dove into the depths of this man and dished out a concoction that was heady, but not in a good way.

He was alright before. Bearable without an accent. Hiding under the alias of Gajesh or Gajju, this harmless creature came across as an innocent lost boy. When we should have acted, we followed the great Ramiz Raja’s words and ‘commiserated’. And how we regret that. We’d seen glimpses of what we would face in the future, but never did we imagine that it would sock us in the face, the way it did.

Let me tell you a bit about the epitome of identity crisis, our beloved Venkat Ananth. He is a Tamilian raised in a Mahrashtrian dominated Thane. A die-hard cricket fan who favours Sri lanka over India. And this has nothing to do with his colour. (See, not racial). We still don’t know the reason behind his fascination. To commoners, it comes across as he’s the guy who loves being different. Loves the underdog. Or rather always supports the second favourite. Which should translate to him being a fan of Liverpool or Arsenal when it comes to football. It’s just a logical way to look at it. But he supports Manchester United with a nationalistic pride you won’t find in an Indian cricket fanatic. When I said epitome of identity crisis, I was backing it with facts. I won’t get into the London chapter of his life as I was privileged not to know it. But with great sadness and amusement I bring to you an ongoing chapter of his life or as I call it a fun evening.

I had heard tales about his latest quest to find himself. Some found it annoying. Others found it amusing. And as the man walked in wearing his glasses over his head and greeted us, I burst out laughing. It was like you’ve been bombarded by books of ‘man walks into the bar’ jokes. A Tamilian from Thane had picked up a Haryanvi accent. As he kept on vomiting horrible hindi on our plates, where every sentence was rounded and lingered, he was becoming Yo Yo Honey Singh. “Kya kehriyaih? Gurgaonavan mein? Kabhi milyon hume. Oh yaar, samjha kar.  Oh Saket-uh”. Behen had become Bainnuh. All this with a put on accent and traces of a nasal South Indian accent. Within this projectile vomit, the tamilian with a Haryanvi accent added a Marathi touch with “Vaapra nahi hai”. Somewhere deep down, we knew he was special.

All jokes aside, the frustrating part is when this man speaks in English, he is just fine. And when he is not ranting over something stupid, the man has a brain too. We spoke for an hour. From Agassi to Nadal to Barca to stadiums of hate.  From Bhogle and his writing styles to the dreaded IPL. We spoke of journalism and commercialization and how both will juice the sport for its benefit. We spoke of passions and professionalism and the undercurrent we need to live by for the monies. The man is a voracious reader, a very good writer, but most importantly a good man!

Don’t know if he chooses to humour people or gets humoured in the bargain. While his incessant banter about inane things may fuck your brains over, his accent will always provide a comic relief.

Happy birthday brother. Drop the fucking accent.

MEN IN BLACK IV

Agent K was testing the legs of a squirmy little alien to look for signs of electricity. As he was busy writing the findings from this research, Agent J walked in dressing a Yoda lookalike in the latest Billabong shorts. As awkward silence was filling up the room, a burp sound came from the sandwich toaster. It was a message from the headquarters.

“Agent H is missing. He was last seen in a black alien infested area known as Bandra in Mumbai, India. Indian post was slow with its results as our technology was stolen to create electricity in their country. It’s been 37 years. Find him”.

Agent K dropped the squirm. Yoda let out a wheezed sound after being squeezed. Both agents took their Stark toys and turned the key three times. The toy spoke: “I’ve privatized world peace. I’ve privatized world peace. I’ve privatized world peace”. And then it broke into a smoke. 3 seconds later, the agents were dressed as the title of the movie asked them to – In Black. Using technology and the Invisibility Cloak, they landed outside Bandra station. And within no time they were surrounded by khakhi dressed men speaking an alien language. Agent J took out his space gun but was stopped by K. “They’re human. Don’t shoot”. As they walked out that moth infested, poop smelling area, they saw beautiful women hailing cabs. They asked the ‘Operator’ to program them to understand this language. Hindi software was getting installed as their eyelids were batting. As the area did not have Wi-fi and network service providers were cheating the locals under the garb of 3G, it took some time for the language to load. As the language was loaded, they witnessed the horror.

“Baiyya, baiyya, Kaar chaloge?”

“Baut badiya aye”

“Sweety, kitne dino baad baar nikle aye”

“Mera pet bar gaya”

“Yaan Waan, Kaan batak raye te?”

Agent H was missing. It must be hiding in their lands somewhere. It’s not there in their language as well. They had to try to find him.

They went to a tobacco shop and tried experimenting. Maybe these guys were under a spell. “We just need to add the H and maybe the spell can be broken.”

MAHALO went Agent K.

“What men?” replied the shopkeeper.

MAHALO followed Agent J.

“Maal nai mangta aye. Aur aisa maal lo maal lo nai bolneka. Samja tum? Kaayde ke kilaaf aye”.

This was a more serious threat than Boris – The animal. That was one man. Here, one entire suburb was infected. And these were humans. Where could they find him? Rumour had it they might have hidden H in Vikhroli. So Agent J approached a young woman in her mid-20s and asked her if she could guide them to Vikhroli.

“Vikroli. Wat is dat?”

Agent J was taken aback. The ladies here are oblivious to everything outside Bandra. Either they deny the existence or they simply don’t have the knowledge. They must be unaware. Or maybe, they seriously are under a spell.

As they were crossing the stretch near St. Andrews College, they spotted a few Nigerians and what seemed like Agent J’s lost brothers from Boston. As a wide grin was plastered around Agent J’s face, he went and shoulder hugged them with happiness. After around 4 rounds of Waddups, J discovered that these boys trying to be men are not from where he thought they were. They were locals again. One of them though was a foreigner; he claimed to have come from what he called ‘Maaim’.

Baffled with this behavior, the Agents found themselves trapped under a serious spell. One they found was more threatening than any alien invasion. This one seemed entrenched. A virus that was seeded years ago, and has been growing ever since. They had lost connection with the base. Also with the operator. Their wallets had been stolen. And they found their own ties being sold on the streets. They were in a land far superior to theirs. There was a time, when they actually believed they were cool. This suburb with all its flair and disguise was a goldmine of geniuses. Some, they understood. While others they claimed were far ahead of their time. How they wished Griffin could come. The fact that he couldn’t spoke highly of the power, this small suburb possessed.

They put on their invisibility cloaks on and took a train to Marine Lines to meet the Navy officer to help them sail away to America. As they stepped out, they couldn’t believe what they saw. It was Agent H polishing shoes. He was wearing earrings and had a tan. He looked very close to the Bandra folk. When Agent H greeted them with Whaddup, he told them his story.

“That small suburb is a very powerful place. It has a quicksand quality. It sucks you in its world. Takes away all your possessions. Changes the way you talk. Makes you look down at people from other parts of the world. It has a life of its own. Only when I got out, I realized what had happened to me.”

“There has to be a way out. You must have figured something out.” Agent J pleaded.

“There is. But we have to enter Bandra again for that. I’ve tried 272 times, but failed. Getting back in is difficult. And once you get in, getting out is more difficult. Those people have a shrine; it’s called “Carter Road”. I’ve been caught every time I’ve tried to go there. Their Gods come there. And their goddesses, well, you get sucked in those flying kisses and that accent, and within no time, you’re trapped. And caught. Naked. Exposed. Anyways, on that road, there is a stone. Under which I’ve kept the portkey that will transport us back to our world”, concluded Agent H.

The agents had invisibility cloaks. Using that, they not only entered Bandra again, but successfully reached the stone.

Agent H looked in their eyes and said– “We have to say this together and say it right. Three times, only then we can go back. Ready boys? 1, 2, 3”.

“Aye bugger, wat men. Baiyya baiyya”

“Aye bugger, wat men. Baiyya baiyya”

“Aye bugger, wat men. Baiyya baiyya”

They were back in the living room where Yoda was steeling wheezing and the squirmy alien was creating electricity. And that’s when Agent H kissed the Yoda and the Squirmy Alien. There were tears in his eyes. At that point, Agent j said, “Welcome home man. Welcome home”.

GREY MATTER

The following piece is a collaboration between  Nachiketa Anand and I – Links to her blog (http://easeleyes.wordpress.com/) (http://behindthatsweetface.wordpress.com/)

Birmingham station was crowded. Office-goers in greys and blacks stood in stark contrast to the bohemian collegians. Couples kissed each other goodbye with a promise to return. A young lad of six clung on tightly to his mother’s hand. Scattered around in parts were tourists, some looking lost and some in the innocent hope of finding themselves.

Dressed in a grey trench coat and a black hat, he looked like a remnant from the 1970’s. His handlebar moustache accentuated his Hitchcockian persona. Standing at his usual spot, right next to the Doughnut Mart, he took in the sleepy Monday morning. There was something amiss about the day. It didn’t seem blue enough. And that bothered him. Aware of his OCD of sorts, even a minor change in events disturbed his equilibrium. With a Dunhill tucked perfectly between his lips, he took a last and generous drag of the nicotine nirvana before viciously stubbing it under his black soles. His train was due in five minutes and he had to grab his seat, the third one from the left. He hated missing his seat. With that, he marched towards the platform leaving behind a sharp woody fragrance. Keith Wilson’s week had begun.

The train was two minutes late and Keith hated delay. It made him uncomfortable. As he stood there tapping his right foot rather impatiently, Keith noticed him standing two feet away. He had been noticing this stranger since Doughnut Mart. An athletic man in his late 30s, he looked a tad too suave in his black suit. He had a kind face which was repulsive and icy-grey eyes that lacked compassion. Keith disliked him instantly and had no idea why. Before he could draw a conclusion, the train pulled to a screeching halt. Keith jumped in and rushed to grab his seat. But he was late. The seat had been taken by the stranger in black.

Captivated by change and inspired by evolution, Mark Henderson believed he was special. And believed to have a rather unique mutation. Unable to put it to words, this enigma about himself baffled him and excited him at the same time. A lover of after thoughts, the perception and possibilities of people taking him to be someone trivial was fascinating to say the least. Always sharp and hiding under a cloak, black was his confidante, wife and mistress. But the truth was pregnant and could go in labour any minute.

Caught in a Monday breeze, he was all set to change the blues to greys. He had tilted the newsstand next to the Doughnut Mart. He had tilted the ‘Open’ sign on its door too. He had doled out half smiles to all the people present at the square. He only wished someone could sense the difference. Someone who knew he was behind this. Appreciation was all he longed for. His mutation otherwise would go unnoticed. With a plagued heart, he sauntered towards the station. The train too dragged itself and stopped right in front of him.  Dejected at the lack of response and gratitude, he relinquished his window seat and sat on the third one from the left.

Keith was trying hard to control his temper. He had half a mind of grabbing Mark by the collar, punching him in the face and dragging him out of his seat. But sanity prevailed and he thought otherwise. Keith sat opposite him, staring hard, tapping his right foot once again, hoping that Mark would get off at the next station. Hoping he’d get to sit on his seat. Hoping that Monday would soon turn the right shade of blue. Keith looked at Mark. There was a disturbing quality to him. His neck was tilted to one side as was the newspaper he was reading. Keith found it very strange, yet amusingly funny.

‘Odd Bob, he muttered under his breath.

Just as his thoughts escaped his mouth, Mark looked up from his newspaper. ‘Excuse me?’, he said in a baritone voice that seemed to echo through the hollow corridors of the unusually empty train.

‘Nothing’, Keith said embarrassed at being caught, struggling to find the right words. ‘I noticed how you were reading the paper. The tilt…very unique, indeed’, said Keith mirroring Mark’s style.

‘Hope that didn’t make you uncomfortable, it was intentional. I’ll tell you a secret. The tower of Pisa? You know what happened to it right? Don’t tell anyone.’ Mark said with a response evoking grin.

‘I’m Mark Henderson’, he introduced himself. Keith looked at him uncertainly. He disliked over-friendly people. And Mark had a way of stamping his presence, one that made onlookers uncomfortable. Mark was looking at him expectantly.

‘I’m Keith’, he replied. ‘Wilson’, he added.

‘I’m a tourist here. I got here a week ago. I’m a little unsettled with the drone sort of life people lead here. I’m here to change that, just like I did with Pisa’, Mark said, trying hard to sell his mutation. Keith nodded again. He was getting increasingly uncomfortable.

‘Actually… would you mind suggesting a few places I could go to? Just to explore, maybe?’, Mark added handing Keith a pocket-sized leather diary and a pen. Keith did not want anything to change, let alone his favourite places. Thoughtfully, he penned down a few places.

‘Thank you, kind Sir’, Mark said, tipping his hat as a sign of appreciation. And as he started to read his diary, his eyes gleamed. Written in a neat, sharp font, Keith’s handwriting was a heart-wrenching beautifully straight. Mark could not stop staring at it. He had found his shot to fame. It was going to be Keith.

Keith walked out of the train with a mission. He could not let a stranger change his world. He had made peace with order and preferred it that way. He had to keep the order. For himself if not the world. He picked up the phone. “Hello Susie, I need to see you at half past 11 outside the subway.” Susie Jones was a detective. The finest of her time. Her providence lied in disguise. One that she had mastered without masks. Back in the department they called her the “Camouflage Antidote”. During pressing situations, she was the woman of the hour. She was Keith’s confidante too. The only woman who could keep a secret. Keith had met her at a conference in Poole few years ago. She was the only one who could bring back order.

At half past 11, there she was. A beige skirt, a white shirt, a scarf that was electric blue, matching her shoes. Burgundy hair that was kissing her shoulders and grey shades that were fighting the sun. Keith always found her beautiful, but always maintained a distance. He feared being tricked at some point. As Keith approached her, he gave her a list of all the places he had suggested Mark to visit. Trafalgar Square, Stonehenge, Tower Bridge and the London Eye. Keith had carefully listed down these places. He knew Mark would sense an opportunity in these marvels, and this was the best place to catch him red-handed. Susie on the other hand was fascinated by Mark’s motivations. And did not find his intentions wrong, but Keith was a dear friend. She could not betray him. Fascinated to meet Mark, she set up a team at each of these places. This was going to be her biggest challenge. To turn in a man, she would rather take home.

The first call came from Trafalgar Square. It was flooded by pigeons. After the law was passed to ban feeding food to pigeons, there was a dearth in pigeons in the area. Suddenly there was a flock flying around. And people had started flooding in. Peace was disrupted. There were children playing around the square. Couples photographing themselves with the pigeons. Old loyalists had returned to feed the pigeons. Trafalgar Square had come to life. It was like the old times. The place was infected with smiles, and there was nothing authority could do now. Witnesses reported seeing a man bringing these pigeons overnight. They called him the “Grey Crusader”. Susie was late. Mark had disappeared.

Second call came from Stonehenge. The Stonehenge was carved to form sharp cylindrical cubes and written in a heart-wrenching beautifully straight handwriting was, “Let’s change”. Keith was present this time around. So was Susie. Susie’s eyes spoke of love, Keith’s spoke of anger. Mark had taken Keith’s form and was doing what he had set out to do. Keith could not digest the fact that he had led Mark to these wonders of the world. He stubbed the cigarette under his right foot in contempt. The Grey Crusader was leaving his Mark.

London Eye was painted grey. And the two towers at Tower Bridge were now tilted. Mark had been mocking Keith all this time and Keith had no answer. Susie and Keith were sipping tea at the nearest café. Keith was bound by his composure. Susie in the middle of twirling her hair, dropped the pencil on the table. Her look said she had figured it out.

“Keith, take the morning train. You’ll find him there. I’m sure you will. I would have been on the train, if I was him.”

Keith liked the idea. He also sensed emotion in Susie’s voice. It was heartbreaking. He could not let Mark do this to him. Not anymore.

Keith dressed himself in black. It was his turn to mock Mark. This Monday was different from the previous Mondays. The air was fresher. The blues were brighter. The greys were fading away. Keith was confident. Order would return to his life. Sensing victory, he stepped inside the morning train.

Mark had taken the third seat from the left. Keith had expected this; Mark had walked into a trap. Letting out a generous half-smile, Keith sat opposite to Mark. “Hello Mark Henderson or should I call you the Grey Crusader now?”, Keith smirked at him. “Hello. Sir, have I thanked you for directing me to those places? Let me thank you again. It was a delightful journey”, Mark replied with ease. “Oh, stop the pretense already, you’ve lost. And now you’ve been caught as well”, yelled Keith. “Susie, here’s your man. Arrest this scoundrel”. Susie was dressed for the occasion. Dressed in a stone grey dress, hair swept back, kohl laden eyes, Susie was dressed for a date. Taken aback with her appearance, Keith’s eyes reeked of dejection.

“Mr. Henderson, you are under arrest for disrupting peace and order in the city and its heritage.”

Mark looked deep in her eyes and smiled. “Thank you my kind lady. It’s been an honour.” Susie at that moment had fallen in love. As Keith walked out of the train, media was there to congratulate him. Kids wanted his autograph. And in that moment, it all came together for Keith. He noticed the change in his routine. He had liked the newness to the day. This change. He was wearing black. And as he was about to give an autograph, he realized he could not leave his signature. He had to tilt his writing. At that moment, he looked at Mark walking away. Mark left the station looking at Keith, tipping his hat as a sign of appreciation.

Curfew or Bandh

Friday, 12th March, 1993. Bombay was under attack. 13 explosions that shook the city. Within this communal rage, as religion was tearing the city apart, humanity was bringing many of them together. In such a state of terror, people were stepping out of their houses to lend a helping hand, to give shelter, to provide food. And give blood instead of taking it.

Wednesday, 26th November, 2008. The crown of the city was burning. Taj had been encroached into and imploded with bombs. Mumbai, now, was not hiding under its blanket, but rather doing what it does best under adversity, come together. Help was offered, lives were lost, but the popularly termed “indomitable spirit” kept the city running.

Take the train blasts, the floods and any other real calamity and you’d see this city come out of its comforts, fight, help and survive. Without a drop of fear rolling down its forehead.

And now let’s see at the idiotic side of the city. Funny too. Purely because of how they react. Bruised, battered and torn, the spirited Mumbaikars shine through. But when the Wolf cries, they start shitting bricks.

While the collateral damage of the bomb blasts can be scaled in numbers, the collateral damage that these National Bandhs create in terms of fear is immeasurable. These bandhs have a legacy. Be it national or state specific. Strangely, I hardly remember the reasons behind these bandhs. The one-off I remember is that of a rumour of Bal Thackerey being arrested. Ego battles are often fought under the pretense of ‘sensitive issues’. For Kolkata, if there’s not a bandh at regular intervals, it starts feeling abnormal. It’s a culturally entrenched habit now. Coming back to these bandhs in question.

For some reason, they always pelt stones at the state transport buses. Irrespective what the reason for the bandh is these buses have to face the music. I pity the bus driver. The government shows balls by keeping the transport running, but the driver’s balls are always in his mouth when it comes to such things. His ‘What the hell have I done’ query always gets stoned. Trains are largely unaffected. Autos and cabs can also continue to ply. Even people can travel.

Take today, 31st May 2012, for instance. Today’s reason behind the bandh is to protest against the hike in fuel prices. Yes, the prices are rising, and something must be done about it. But shooting in the dark is not going to hit bull’s eye. Cabs and auto run on CNG now. So do these buses. The trains have no connection with the hike. Most of the people who travel with these modes of transport don’t own a vehicle. Most of them. Yet everyone involved in this Maslow’s world lives in fear. What for? And in fear of what? Before I left home the news channels were talking about the partial impact of the Bandh. And buses as usual had become breaking news, in every sense of the word. While some channels called it violence and showed glimpses of the buses, other channels were making a documentary on these buses. None of the passengers or drivers were injured. Yet, a dramatic turn of events. Fear was in stage 1 right now. Twitter on the other hand was advertising the joy of driving and riding in the empty streets of the city. That was irony making a guest appearance.

As I stepped out, I saw the Bombay of 80s. Unpopulated. Deserted. Calm. Yes, these were glimpses of romance the city one had. Two crows were catching up in the middle of the road. I guess they were tired of flying, because they chose to walk. In many ways, that too, was a rare sight. Then taking the situation at hand, a Western Classic starting running in front of my eyes. Soon, curfew scenes made their way in as well. Cops stationed at every corner. Eerie silence singing dark melody with the winds.

And then the panic calls began.  There is unrest near office. Next call – No cabs. Next call – They’ve started shutting offices. Next call – Beta, turn around, it’s scary out there. Next call – They’ve shut one of our offices, might shut the main office as well. Next call – I’ve asked a colleague to go back, you should go back too.

After all that chaos, I took a deep breath. I said; hold on a minute, what’s the reason again, PROTEST AGAINST RISING FUEL PRICES. At that point sanity came and slapped me in the face, it asked me to stop being stupid. I obliged and looked at this as one the shortest adventures, the only pseudo curfew experience I’ll ever have in this city. Because the city has proven time and again, when it’s under attack, it unites as a brutal force, but when it comes to fake alarms, it panics. So, I hailed an auto and went to the nearest cab stand. A cool cab greeted me with looks of uncertainty. Not cool at all. The 12 minute drive towards office began with nervous looks and a watchful eye. He spoke of fears and poverty and the government. Nothing new there, I said. And as we hit the highway, the skeptic stepped out and the driver stepped back in. He spoke of the pleasures of driving. Said 15 years back he could drive like this. As we cut into a by lane, the skeptic was back in the driver’s seat. Dropping me much before my destination, he took a U-turn and returned to living in fear.

As I reached office, I saw my junior walk in all smiling. She comes from a different city by the way. “I took the bus today. 1st time in Mumbai. It was so comfortable. Only 5 bucks.” It was heartening to see a bandh infested city welcoming a new tenant with open arms. This time irony had walked into office.

While India is holed up under the excuse of Bandh, Americans will be stepping out to witness the Manhattanhenge. Eternal sunshine and the spotless mind.

When Cool Guy got ‘EDGE’

coolguy@gmail.com was a fraandship troll machine. An Orkut loyalist, he flooded pretty girl’s pages with his (s)craps. Lost within the interweb, obsessed with ‘asl’, our cool guy was heading in one direction – Nowhere.

On a Monday afternoon, when Cool Guy was going through albums of many girls and clicking pictures of them with his super cool 1.3 megapixel camera, a voiceover guy – the one we hear in commercials and radios, approached him and in his deep, convincing voice said, “(Chuckle) Cool guy, I am here to change your life. Sway with my convincing voice and buy a smartphone”.

As Cool Guy heard this, he could see Main Samay Hoon guy nod in approval. It was time for him to change. He went ahead and bought Being Human t-shirts, G-shock watch, branded flip-flops and sporting sunglasses he walked into the Mobile Store. “I iz smart. Give mez smartphone”. Reincarnation happened. There was background music in the store and then cool guy walked out, a changed man. What followed are awesome stories of cool guy being awesome.

“I’m at a cool bar (Mumbai, Maharashtra) 4sq.com”

“I just unlocked the “I’m ze coolest” badge on @foursquare 4sq.com”

“I just ousted THAT GUY as the mayor of cool shopping mall on @foursquare 4sq.com”

When the world was busy checking out places in magazines, Cool Guy was checking in at all the cool places. And checking in with him were other cool people. The Orkut tag was out. And geotagging was in. A man on the move now had many moves beyond asl and fraandship requests. He had a new-found weapon – the BB Pin. With a new avatar and a new DP, he was slowly turning into a lady-killer. Often looking at his paunch, cool guy was adorably called the Blackberry Boy. His awkward dance number was a rage amongst the crowd. Before you knew it, he was touted as the best belly dancer in the country. Youtube was buzzing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With this new-found fame and a higher social status, Cool Guy started updating his Facebook status. “Some Mark Zuckerburg fellow called me and told me about this cool site”, he said before he took over this social networking giant. His statutes were funny, witty, emotional and some were inspiring quotes that he picked up from a funny site called Google. And all this on the move. In cabs, offices, meetings, parties, when he slept, when he woke up, his statuses were making the world a better place. “Multi-tasking is so cool”, his t-shirt read. A superhero of the online world was now getting friendship requests, and he was loving every bit of it. When Mark Zuckerberg invited him for a product development meeting, he was contacted from an agent who had a blue bird on his shirt. His father’s last words rang in his head, “Chance pe dance beta, chance pe dance”. And chance he did upon this opportunity. Twitter had become his latest platform. “TheOfficialCoolGuy”, his official handle.

 

With millions of followers, he had become a celebrity. His dating record was off the charts. And that too without exchanging numbers. DMs or Direct Messages as known on twitter had become his playground. Twitter had made an exception for Cool Guy. He need not follow all to have a DM conversation. Extreme coolness does that to you. It comes with privileges.

How could Bollywood be far? It was just about time. At an award function, many of the Bollywood stars were wanting his autograph. Being the cool guy he is, Cool Guy also added a personal note at the end of each. Then he bumped into one of the biggest superstars – Salman Khan. “Hey bro, what is your cool WAP site bro?” On hearing this, Cool guy started laughing. Then he said, “What’s with the accent brother, and which age do you live in. Ze WAP site is gonez. Use OPERA browser and check out the website”. After a few drinks and Salman giving 40 missed calls to his girlfriend, they started a multi-player game. And of course, Cool Guy won. But Salman was not ready to accept defeat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cool Guy left Salman and his shirt alone and walked away, only to be interrupted by Shahid Kapur. Shahid came in with a request. “Man, can you just clear my name from the MMS scandal. I was using a PDA phone. I thought it was fair to upload my PDA through my PDA phone.” Cool Guy patted his back and asked him to leave a Facebook message about the same.

As he was about to leave the function, Abhishek Bachchan caught up with him. “Hey Cool Guy, you have a minute. I wanted to congratulate you on the invention of Instagram. I mean what an Idea sirjee. 3G?” Cool Guy slapped him and asked him to stop this nonsense. Abhishek Bachchan was just trolled by the troll face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The coolness of Cool Guy was infectious. The news had spread all the way to the parliament. “Members of the parliament, Cool Guy is the face of the nation now. We must hold him in high regard. We cannot give him the Bharat Ratna yet. And we cannot make him a member because he will pwn us with all the Coolness. Mr. Suresh Kalmadi, we want you to write an apology letter to Cool Guy and request him to continue with the coolness.”

Cool Guy had moved up the social ladder and how. With the power of internet, he had taken over the country by storm and also the world. Nike, Coke, Ray Ban and the likes are waiting to sign a deal with him. Exclusive merchandise will soon be out. Last heard Cool Guy was hanging out with Steve Jobs shazaming it in a local bar at New York. I would like to end this piece on Cool Guy’s mantra – “Don’t be foolesh. Be Coolesh”.

This is an entry for Internet is Fun on Vodafone! (http://www.vodafone.in/fun) on IndiBlogger (www.indiblogger.in)

Three years later

They were sleeping on the bed. Minds connected. Bodies living in resistance. His fingers were aching to feel her hair. Her fingers were itching to hold his. It was a strange feeling. A strange bond. One that LSD had prescribed. There was an unusual calm. Eerie to the world, scaring the souls. The idea of being together was daunting them. She poured a drink for herself and kept it at the side table. His glass was already there. Half devoured. It spoke of the unquenchable thirst. She knew that. Yet, she poured a glass for herself, or so she wanted to believe.

The Kerouac in him had taken a sabbatical. The Plath in her was inching closer to her destination. They were an odd couple. There was a time where they had hesitantly relished each other.

A half-hearted effort that yearned for justice. It crawled upon them at every interaction. Spoken. And unspoken. He was changing by the week. He called it growing up. She called it drifting away. Her growing hair was testimony for her longing. One inch below the waist, just the way he wanted. Minutes turned into hours into days into weeks, encapsulating time into moments. Fleeting was their nature. Erratic and sporadic, moments were soon turning into memories. Stamped with past, future was dwindling in the horizon.

She took a gulp. The glass was half empty now. He wanted to give this another shot. He was waiting for her. She was with him at this moment. She turned to the other side of the bed. “Are you awake?”

“Yes.”

Here’s to the unsung heroes

When you were born, you were asked to become a doctor or an engineer. But the world was thinking different. Doing different. You did not want to stay behind now, did you? So, you jumped onto the band wagon. To do something different. While the journey was right, the destination was still clueless. You took pleasure in the ‘journey is important’ philosophy and walked along. You saw many stumble upon their passions along the way and saw them achieve greatness. Lost souls found a purpose and they drifted towards their dream. You, on the other hand, had reached the end of the journey and you were still as clueless. Writers painted words. Painters wrote stories. Artists brought the good life on their canvas. Inspired and burning with envy you gave these wings a shot. Unfortunately, you did not fly. Rather you fell flat on your face. You took comfort in the fact that no one was watching. You dusted off the creative dirt and marched along the familiar path. You were accompanied by many such incompetent fools. Parental pressure, peer pressure and lack of self-confidence pushed you to knock on the doors of MBA. Some of you went to lesser known universities in The United Kingdom, while most of you filled up benches in the never before heard colleges of the city. The IIMS and IITS were out of your reach, or as you put it, not your cup of tea. So, your cutting chai generation barely passed through with flying colours.

Your childhood flashed in front of your eyes. The need to unbelong starting poking you in the rear. “Be different. Do different. Something. Anything”. These words starting haunting you. A wise man would have learnt from his mistakes. But you’d heard stories about being foolish and being stupid. So blindfolded you bent over into the world of advertising. You dreamt of changing markets. Leveraging brands. Digging deep into consumer insights. And using such jargons. But then, you met the other side of your world. One that you wanted to be a part of. One where your lack of talent betrayed you. You met the creative team.

You were welcomed with abuses. Sarcasm was darted at you under the garb of conversation. Respect was a word no longer found in your dictionary. As you walked of, you could hear mocking laughter behind you. Yet, you persevered. You bent over. You tried to bring intelligence to the table with your inputs, only to realize it was better to keep your mouth shut. Insults were hailed at you. Incompetence became your middle name. You got tea for the creative. Sometimes beer. You always got food, yet they treated you worse than a maid. Your clients thought you were good for nothing. They called you a pushover. They walked over you. Trampled your ego. And you started questioning your existence. You started questioning the MBA. You thought the world was going to end. And just then, you saw a glimmer of hope. A silver lining. Your belief in God was reinstated. After all these years, you had a dream. One that you could work towards. One that you could be proud of. Your children would hear these stories. And they would tell their children the same. Tales of honour. Of Valour. Of bravery. Of how you had lived a dream. When the odds were stacked against you, you beat them. Handsomely. In style. You started dreaming of that day. The day when you will win an EFFIE. Ha ha ha ha. Chut.

The real writer behind Apple ads discovered

They say it’s the best product ever made. It has revolutionized life as we know it. While every lady is going ga ga over Steve Jobs and his achievement, the communication mastermind was lost in the design. You know apple products are the finest gadgets you’d find around. Some even call it a life form, without which, life would be so drab. But who told you about these masterpieces. You read about it. You’ve seen the commercials. But the punchlines, well they really packed a punch didn’t they? Very soon you’d know why.

He has been found. The copywriter who gave you these marvels. The real life Avengers assemble if you may call it. Thank him every time you call yourself a mactard. Or look down on someone when they have a non-apple device.

Chiat/Day had to really dig deep to find this gem. They met this superhero at a Rapid English Speaking Course. He was in the middle of accent training, playing with his long streaks of hair, twirling and straightening them alternatively. While this peculiar man grabbed their attention, they were unsure about his capabilities, but they offered him a job nonetheless. And that’s when he took to the stage and announced himself to the entire world. As his shirt unbuttoned itself, and his pelvic thrust knocked the daylights of the other students, he literally made time stop and delivered a punch line, “Mujhpe ek hi aisaan karna, ki mujhpe koi aisaan nahi karna”. The students were stunned. The Rapid English teachers were speechless. Chiat/Day couldn’t believe the impact he had. They also couldn’t believe their luck. There was a thunderous applause and a song too. After this great man catwalked or what he called dance, the CCO offered him a two-year contract. Mr. Mass Appeal, yes, hindi pun intended, accepted the offer but refused to sign. Puzzled, disturbed, scared and partly amused, the room turned silent. And then once again, this time with a reverb effect, he said, “Maine ek baar commitment kardi toh main apne aap ki bhi nahi sunta.” The impact those words had still echo in the hearts of the people present there. Mothers cried of pride. Young boys shat in their pants. Men had found their modern-day messiah. And Chiat/Day, a voice for this generation. They could already sense their victory. Their supremacy over the world.

Steve Jobs was standing confused in front of his closet. There were 23 black turtle neck t-shirts hanging for daylight, looking at each other. Each one was as confused as the next one. After 47 minutes of contemplation, Jobs chose the 11th one. The reason behind that is still unknown and research is underway. The publisher has promised to add this as well to this biography whenever they find an answer. Mr. Mass Appeal walked in wearing a satin shirt. Jobs was standing in front of the mirror with a comb. After a 48 hour discussion on hair weaving, Jobs, that guy from Chiat/Day and Mr. Mass Appeal began talk on the commercial to be aired at Superbowl in 1984. 38 seconds. That’s all it took for Mr. Accent to narrate the punchline. (He never wrote. He just said it. And it was written in the pages of history later). “You’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984”. That line is considered to be a classic. Or in modern terms, epic. As the accent got thicker, the design got slimmer, but the line, still packed a punch. A few years later, Mr. Mass Appeal was trying to call his girlfriend and failing miserably. After being accused of 40 missed calls, this technological challenged tag was showing up on his hairline. Receding by the day, he approached Steve with this problem who was trying to shred his bills through a gate. He had also broken a window by now. These two frustrated souls then walked into a bar. *pause*. After drinking for 4 days and talking to a black buck, Steve Jobs decided to have a white revolution. At first. “I’ll introduce a black version later”, he promised. Mr. Mass Appeal pleaded for something simple, something that even a layman could understand. The IPhone was discovered. This time around, Mr. Mass Appeal held the phone and cried for 3 minutes 40 seconds. And then he took off his shirt and said, “If you don’t have an Iphone, you don’t have an Iphone”. The world had changed by now. LOLs had taken over. Jobs at the peak of his career had one final straw to pull off. He called it an upgrade. Mr. Mass Appeal this time (successfully) called from the Iphone and over a con call he said, “This changes everything. Again”.

Steve Jobs passed away. So did these epic lines. But both these legends have left behind a legacy that will never stop to amaze. Or amuse.