Air travel agonies

'You're charging me for TWO seats; an extra fee for my trunk, and now you've stopped giving out peanuts!...and you call yourself a JUMBO jet.'

So work recently has been having me travel, in particular fly, a lot. The destination more often than not being about an hour and a bit flying time. Its that kind of time, which is a very gray area. Not enough time to take the effort of watching a movie, or get out a book and start getting engrossed in it. But it is the perfect time to do something that I love doing. Overhear conversations that the passenger next to you is engaging in and then judge the living daylights out of them. Because, you know, you can. And it feels gooood… Oh wait. You’re telling me there are some people who don’t judge? I call that absolute malarkey. Having an opinion is akin to having an asshole. Every single human being tends to have one. If someone tells you otherwise, feel free to tell them they are full of shit. Why? Because from whatever little biology I suffered through in grade school, I was taught, and then subsequently experienced, shit come out of my asshole. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

I digress. I must warn you. As mentioned in my previous blog posts, I do possess the attention span of a pigeon.

So let me take you on this journey, along with one of the passengers on a seat next to mine. We just started boarding our flight, and I was fortunately one of the first people to board. Wooo hoo Southwest Airlines. (Can I get my free ticket now please?) And the gentleman next to me, was a bearded bespectacled lad who, by my best estimate was in his mid-twenties. Full disclosure, I have been spectacularly wrong about predicting people’s ages accurately. More so with women than otherwise. But that’s for another post.

He was on the phone with his mom and was flying back home to Alabama. He was airing his grievances about how his previous flight, which was Wi-Fi enabled might I add, did not have the internet connection working for some reason. And he was going to write a very nasty, angry email to Southwest stating that their flights were pretty poorly maintained and that a working Wi-Fi connection should be available as advertised.

I forgot to mention that this gentleman, apart from being bearded and bespectacled, was also fat obese stout overweight
portly. About 400 pounds too portly. But again, I understand, lifestyle choices and what not. But hey, judgement rarely distinguishes. It treats everyone with equal disdain. Anyway, I hope that paints a pretty (not really) picture of the gentleman in the journey.

*Rant Begins*

This lardy blob of an individual with his love handles from his belly spilling into my seat. This Alabama resident, in his mother’s basement living, non-contributing zero, whiny, mouth breathing pile of….

*Rant Ends*

So as I was saying, this gentleman complains about his Wi-Fi not working. For which my first thought was the feeling of self-entitlement was strong in this one. Completely ignoring that he is sitting in a metal container that is flying in the air. Eating and drinking to his heart’s content. Sleeping in a chair in a metal container flying you across seas and oceans to your destination of choice that was previously only accomplished by traveling for months on a ship, with the probability of you surviving considerably remote. Seriously, ask the people who went on the Titanic. They were on vacation too. It just goes to show how we are taking technology for granted. It just shows that the most amazing time to be alive in is wasted on the dumbest bunch of idiots ever in existence. You are literally sitting in a metal container, on a comfortable chair, partaking in the miracle of human flight eating peanuts, pretzels and guzzling down your beverage complaining about how your in-flight Wi-Fi wasn’t working.

So while he was on the phone with his mom complaining about this travesty that was befalling him, he asks his mom to hold on, moves towards his backpack, removes his laptop, and attempts to connect to the internet. As I was trying to get to terms with the conversation that just happened, my mental judgements about the same and also trying to avoid coming in contact with his love handles that were invading my personal space, a thought struck me. Was I being too judgmental about this guy? Maybe he had a paper to submit before his deadline, maybe he had some work related stuff he needed to send out as an email that was time specific. So I paused my judgement, and glanced towards his laptop. He was able to connect to the internet. He bellowed the same to his mom on the phone too and proceeded to end the call with her as we were going to fly.

After we are airborne for about 20 minutes, the pilot’s voice crackles over the speakers. “Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for flying Southwest Airlines. We are at an altitude of 35,000 feet and it is now safe to use any wi-fi enabled devices such as laptops or tablet devices.”

Mr. person beside me excitingly reaches towards his bag under his seat, which he has immense difficulties bending to reach might I add, and grabs his laptop out. Remember he has connected to the internet. So my eyes glance over again towards his laptop to see what important stuff this guy is really doing. He opens an internet browser, types in with his stubby rotund digits, and proceeds to watch the funniest scenes of the Big Bang Theory.

An hour wonderfully spent.

An Indian abroad

It’s always the little things. The little things that you notice. The little things that seem to irk you. Sometimes you start to lose your identity. Who are you? Why are you? Where are you?

India, and in particular Indians are not supposed to seem foreign to me. I look Indian, I have an Indian passport and I was born and raised in the country for over 2 decades. I grew up amongst Indian friends. I have participated in a variety of Indian festivals. I have bathed in the culture of temples, mosques, churches, and even Synagogues. But when I return to India, surprisingly, all this seems to dissipate. Almost as if, these ways of being Indian never really happened. It never really resonated with my sense and sensibilities.

The hope being, inevitably, that time will soothe some of these surface irritations and quite weirdly culture shocks on both sides of the planet. What seems to be enduring is a wordless revulsion. Something that is very deep and inarticulable. The sight of what seems to be a wastage of some tremendous potential amongst the plethora of humans that call India their home. This was a great civilization of the world, once amongst the wealthiest and powerful of nations. And yet only after moving out and mingling with other people who have imbibed themselves with their own unique culture, was I beginning to grasp the sheer gravity of the situation. So many are trapped in their boxes. The school children with brains crammed  full of notes, fearful of voicing an opinion in front of their parents. The elders whose doctrines about marriage and other life activities that never seems to budge. The women, to whom few listen, no matter what wisdom were in their words. All this irrespective of how the world seemed to change around them. History is heavy, culture reigns supreme, the old go unquestioned.

In my impressionistic and very opinionated view, India seems to be a land of replicated lives. Where most people grow up to be exactly like their parents. Cracking the same jokes, bearing the same prejudices, and pursuing vocations not too far afield. India seems to function on seemingly low expectations and almost otherworldly powers of acceptance and adjustments. Most television channels seems to beam the same over-acted sitcoms, that anybody else with broader choices would probably never watch. But yet, people seem to accept it. The poverty, the children with malnutrition induced puffed-out bellies and matted hair on the streets, begging for anything that would come their way. These kids possess a similar skin color and facial features as me, and yet the sheer disdain that they are treated with is bloodcurdling. Yet, society, be it the rich folk or the poor themselves seem to accept this existence. Women seem to accept the normalcy of being told their skin is too dark, that their weight should be increased or decreased, that they should marry this man or that. People with vegetarian parents, seemed to accept that they too must be vegetarian.

History was heavy. Culture reigned supreme. Religion seemed to be the clock that made it all tick. The country that gathered in my mind over the years was contradictory and complex and yet so simple. It seems kind and decent, generous and sacrificial, repressed and narrow, wretched and hopeless, a land short on dynamism and initiative, long on caution, niggling judgement, subservience, and fear. This was a land where people rarely come into their own as they do here in the United States.

But this is a country I love and adore. It is a country that has given me everything. The people might be questionable, the superstitions rearing its ugly head in the disguise of culture and religion is borderline disgraceful. But it is due to the love that I have for my country, that I feel this urge to tell what I have to. The country, slowly yet steadily, is rising in the global marketplace. The world’s cheapest car is now a symbol of what India has to offer. It is trying to tell a story as to how the country is undergoing significant changes within. The old constraints are still not lifted. The bureaucracy, the corruption, the tax codes, the labor laws, the poverty, the potholed roads. All of these are burdens that the average Indian citizen has to endure. But in earlier times, this would have considered as an excuse to make shoddy products.

The Tata Nano is a symbol of how India is adapting to these constraints, these unique hardships, and created something that is now considered a technological marvel. Given the condition of Indian roads, which resembles the surface of the moon more than it does the earth, the suspensions had to be made better. Given the average income levels, the manufacturing costs had to be constrained. Given all these adversities, the Nano, which now symbolizes the new India, is really a lesson in bravado. It’s not that India’s core concept has changed. This is a new style of hopeful defiance.

The deepest change I wish to observe in India, and I am beginning to see clear signs of these, is not what the factories are building or what the software programmers are coding. It should be in the mind of the people. How they conceived their possibilities. They should not have to leave the country to pursue their personal revolutions. Children of a lower caste are hoisting themselves up, one degree at a time. More women are becoming breadwinners. The younger generation would find their sense of privacy restored with the advent of cell phones. It would also give a sense of individual identity. Couples should start ending marriages, no what matter what society thinks. The reverse is also true. People should marry who they love, no matter what society labels you as. Servants, whose predecessors were also servants, must take the first step in providing education to their children, so that they do not end up in servitude. Vegetarians could and should embrace meat, and meat eaters could and should embrace vegetarianism. Not due to the caste and faith, but due to taste and trend. What should decline is the tendency to serenely accept life as it is.

Newspapers and books are writing in reams about how India is changing and the pace of growth. It is fast becoming a planet changing model of democracy, pluralism and growth. But the truth is a little more subtle and sober. Our economy is growing, but not as fast as it can. Poverty is being abolished slowly and steadily, yet not fast enough to make a sizeable dent amongst the general populace. The flexing of military muscle overseas, seems sporadic and aimless. But one thing the people don’t lack is the ability to dream.

The dream to own their own house, a refrigerator, a microwave, a washing machine. The dream to break caste barriers. The dream to marry for love, all the complicated family considerations be damned. The dream to become rich. The dream to finally live life comfortably. The Indian revolution has to come from within. As was once said in a famous Indian movie, no country is great. It is up to the citizens to make it great. Let the fabric of Indianness not diminish, but let it unravel in the force of these dreams. India is a great country, it can be made greater.


In vanity we rust

This is not a diss at people posting photographs of their graduation. This is just a diss at society in general. Here’s a quick test to see if you fall under this category of people.

Question # 1: Are you human?

If the answer to that question was Yes, then unfortunately you are vain. People keep saying man is a social animal and you can’t really function like a normal human being without having friends and family around you. I could not agree more. This constant need for being feeling wanted, need for affirmation that people love you, need to propagate your daily activities and actions to your virtual friends via social media or otherwise, is what is primarily modern day vanity.

“You know why love stories have happy endings? Because they end too early. They always end right at the kiss. You never have to see all the bullshit that comes later. You know, Life.” – Californication

There is a constant barrage of well wishers informing you that you look fat or you are growing as bald as a hardboiled egg. They also inform you that are way too hairy in all the wrong places. So much so that society judges you. Or that your skin is too dark or is too fair or is “wheatish”. Either which way you look at it. People, who quite possibly don’t even know you, are constantly scrutinizing you on every aspect of your life. Every aspect of your looks. Every aspect of your character. Whether it is good or bad, the judgement is still happening.

And I would have my nose grow like Pinocchio on viagra, if I said that I am all high and mighty and I have never judged anybody. That’s an absolute lie and don’t let me convince you otherwise. I have, am and will constantly be judging you on every step of your life. Whether I have complete information about it or not. Do I like judging you? Not a chance. But am I still going to? Heck yeah. That’s what makes me human remember?

This drives a lot of people out of their comfort zones to feel accepted as a part of society. I have to work out because my friends think I am fat. If my friends think I am fat, that makes me less of a person. People just stop being satisfied with who they are. They achieve to become the person they think others will like.

Enter the wonderful world of capitalism. Companies and livelihoods are made and sustained on these teeming insecurities. You are fat. Society loves and adores skinny/fit people. Notice the plethora of gyms around you. Go to any medicine aisle in your local supermarket and you’ll see various products that are now fat free or promise you will lose <insert absurd amount of weight loss> in <insert even more unrealistic amount of time>. You have less hair on your head. Rogaine will grow your hair for you. Balding people are looked down upon in society. You have too much hair on your body. Let’s wax that junk off you. Didn’t you hear metrosexiness is what is accepted. Guys’ bodies need to be as smooth as Amrish Puri‘s gleaming head. I am pretty positive that women face this exact same problem, if not worse.

That diatribe was surely much needed, if not for others’ amusement self reflection, for my personal peace of mind. But I am going to end this by saying,

“Don’t tell me what to feel. All my fucking life, people have been telling me I do things wrong. I’m always the fucking asshole. I look around and I see everybody else is infinitely more fucked up than I am.” – God Hates Us All.

Yet, you will always be judged. That being said though, I hope a few million people read what I have said here and then flower praise, which would satisfy and quite possibly bloat my massive ego..

What do women want?

Any typos in this article are all entirely my fault. Any grammatical errors spotted in this article were put there because I could. The opinions posted are also completely mine and are about 99.4% accurate. The opinions expressed by me, are (usually) not the opinions of anyone else on the planet. Heed advice at your own risk. Phew. Now that I have this disclaimer out of the way, I still harbor a reasonable chance of delving into the complexities that come with trying to understand what women actually want. There is a fair chance that after this blog, I might need to go back in time and have a threesome with Oedipus and Sigmund Freud.

Bear in mind, this post is primarily trying to cater to understanding straight women. My opinions about what women look for in other women for a relationship, would be as useful as Hrithik Roshan’s sixth finger. On his right hand. All I needed to do was to google, and the responses were there. Everybody seemed to know what women were really looking for in their ideal man. Huffington Post, Men’s Health, E Harmony and even Fox News had an opinion. If you listen to Fox News’ opinion on what women want in a man, all roads would point to Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly. Both of whom are assholes, but that’s my opinion. Even Times of India had something to say in this regard. According to them, women want a guy who is intelligent, has a deep baritone, drives a cool car, is romantic and not necessarily rich, has a head full of hair, and can dance like John Travolta. Let me go over each of these traits and hope that this topic finally has some much needed resolution.


Intelligence is an oft used but even more often misinterpreted term. Growing up in a country which places more importance on educational degrees than it does on personal sanity, intelligence was directly correlated with the kind of degree you have and the institution you obtained it from. So if you have an engineering degree from IIT, you are probably hung like a horse on viagra. Or you probably make so much money, the current government wants to scam you out of it. So I would assume girls would flock around them. But getting into and graduating from an IIT probably ruined most of their adolescence and the chance of having a first crush, first love, first kiss, etc. So, I would actually wish that girls flock around them. But when I think intelligence, my first thought goes towards knowledge of things around you, world politics and general wittiness. Granted common sense amongst the general populace is like deodorants. Those who need it the most, don’t use it. Intelligence is also learning not to ever ask Mayawati to speak again, because chances are your ears are still ringing from the first time you asked.

Deep Baritone:

Speaking of Mayawati, apparently another trait that women look for in a man is a deep voice. Let this not be misinterpreted that I called Mayawati a man. Mayawati is as much woman as Riteish Deshmukh is sexy. In the words of Times of India, “Women are approximately seven times more attracted towards a man who has a deeper voice and a superior position and a dominating work style. High-pitch voices hint towards a pro-social behaviour, so women find such men more reliable. A research suggested that women prefer men with deep voices because it signals strength, dominance and good genes.” I think it was Bill Cosby who once said, ” Women want to hear what they think – in a deeper voice.” That would explain the need for a deep voice. And if that’s the case, Mimoh Chakraborty will probably never be in a relationship. Ever. Only because he is a shitty actor might I add.

Cool Car:

“Cool” is another one of those words that is so often misused. Cool is also something that is time sensitive. Like, for example, when I was 4, I thought growing up to be an adult was cool. Now I regret every minute of it. Except for the money that I make and spend. That’s cool. Wearing your hat backwards, wearing your bag on one shoulder and saying “Waaazzaaaaaaaaa” are some of the things I used to consider cool back in the day. But speaking of cool cars, I wonder if a reliable Japanese vehicle, which gives great gas mileage and probably lasts longer than you, is considered cool. Or is cool the new word, for an expensive, two seater convertible sports mobile that travels 0-60 mph faster than Manmohan Singh can say Soniaji. Or is playing loud, obnoxious music from your car when you pass a couple of good looking girls and nod your head up and down once to try to emulate Joey Tribbiani and say, “How you doing?”. Whichever way you look it, if you offer a girl a bullock cart as a viable eco-friendly replacement for her Toyota Prius, chances are she might not find that cool.

Romantic and not necessarily rich:

This one I actually have a lot to say about. Well actually probably not, because I am as romantic as, well, a paper bag. When I use lines such as I love you as much as pig loves mud, I get the look that practically says, “Get outta here before you’re 6 feet under said mud.” But apparently, women want a man who can sweep them off their feet every single day and make them feel like a queen. She wants material goods, but she also wants somebody who would appreciate them with her. Said material goods can be obtained only with money. I tried haggling with a shop-owner and told him I would pay him in love and hugs. The tilt of my nose is now 15% to the right. So, may be you need to have enough money to buy said material goods, but also you need to have enough romance left in you to woo your better half. So if you think you are like Emraan Hashmi, then score. You just got paid a few crores to smooch your partner. Wait you didn’t? Ha ha sucker. Oh wait, neither did I. The joke’s on me.

Head full of hair:

That’s got to boil down to your luck. Or your genes. Or both. Or your razor. But apparently, a balding guy is a major turnoff for girls. If hair was anything of a reference to how popular you were with women, Anil Kapoor would be the most laid man in the history of the world. Or, for that matter, even me. So, apparently, the metro sexy look is not what girls want. According to the world-renowned doctors at Times of India, “In the past, men were never into makeovers and beauty treatments and they were simply crude. And women have grown up seeing their dads and brothers in a typical macho man look, so this orientation of preferring men with more hair has been there with them since childhood.” God damn it. And here we are, as men, trying to manscape everything that grew naturally. So that women might actually find us attractive. Clearly we were misled. Fuck you, Anil Kapoor.

Dance like John Travolta:

This is something I can not give you any advice on. I have 2 1/2 left feet and none of them can dance. Not even form a semblance of rhythmic repetitive steps. So when girls expect that their guy can do the moonwalk like Michael Jackson, and the guy actually practises and pulls it off, he is a keeper. So I am going to have to use my other magnificent talents such as drinking an entire 6-pack of beer and a bag of chips in one sitting, to market myself as a viable mate. That’s not an accomplishment? Then, I am sadly out of talents to market.

Mulling over all these requirements, not only do I feel grossly insignificant, I also see myself uber single for the foreseeable future. So for all you women out there looking for this ideal man, good luck in your search. I would happy to hear your feedback if you think that I am full of shit and I have no clue about real women want. It is a very real possibility and the fact that I check none of the above boxes in terms of requirements, makes me want to learn about this even more.

Did I mention I was single?

Rain, Rain come again..

Growing up in Bombay all my life, two seasons have come to play a significant role in my upbringing. One being sweat, the other being wet. Wet by rain of course. The sweating lasts about 7-8 months a year. And the monsoons, when they show up, are magnificent and much needed at first. But when floods happen, the enthusiasm for rains lasts as long as the “good acting” bits in any Sunny Leone movie. About 5 minutes.

 That being said, I would rather wade through the flooded gutter waters of Bombay all day long but that’s probably the chronic homesickness talking. But I honestly much rather prefer getting wet in the rain rather than sweating a river. Granted, I am a hirsute individual. So I sweat as much as Emraan Hashmi kisses. I had the privilege, don’t ask my mom that, of being born smack bang in the middle of summer. With temperatures hovering around 38 degrees, the heat was comparable to the heat generated in an average individual’s lungi when he is watching a C-grade movie in the dark confines of a seedy movie theater. So given the general self-loathing I suffer from, the phenomenon of being born on such a hot day invariably ruined summer for me.

 When I was growing up, school always was never around during those hot summer months. We were forced to spend our time at home, either watching TV shows that made Ektaa Kapoor (I lose track of the number of A’s and P’s in her name now) so famous, or having siestas in the middle of the day, that were otherwise cardinal sins. But come evenings, when the temperature got slightly more bearable, friends would gather and we would play cricket downstairs. But the unbridled joy that one got by just getting wet in those first rains cannot be worded. It’s that feeling of much needed relief from the unrelenting heat.

 The rains always had this sense of romance in my mind. Maybe it was due to watching way too many Bollywood or Tamil movies, and ogle at the lovely ladies get drenched and nearly rendered transparent. But every time it rained, there was a certain list of songs that would be on replay most of the time. And those had a sense of romance about them. My first instinct, when it rains, is to run and jump around in it. It brings out the kid in me. But that’s probably because I have the mental capacity of Uday Chopra. Ever since I was in school, the advent of rain brought with it new raincoats, gum boots and puddles, whose depths were as unknown as Rakhi Sawant’s IQ levels.

 As age started descending upon me and raising its ugly head, rather my ugly head, rains meant something a lot deeper. Pubescent hormones brought along with it the need to hold somebody’s hand and walk with her along the mean alleys of Matunga. I, once again, attribute those thoughts to movies. When it starts raining, you see the rush among people to get to a dry area where their heads would be pseudo-covered by a file or a book or a briefcase. Watching 4 people squeeze under a little umbrella, just brought a smile to my face. It just brought to fore what Bombay is all about. Come hell or high water, more often than not it was high water, we will survive. And while we are surviving, we will try to help as many people survive with us. That just embodies the essence of Bombay.

 And walk the mean alleys of Matunga I did. And in my hand was the hand of the most beautiful person I have ever known. My grandmother. We used to walk to the market every evening, first to visit the temple and then to buy the day’s supply of vegetables and groceries. She shared the same immature wish of walking in the rain when it was at its most majestic. Since, school generally just started around that time, classes weren’t as hectic and homework was minimal. So trips to the market lasted longer during the monsoons.

 Ambling around the streets, with puddles, stray rivulets of mucky water flowing along the footpaths, we always used to carry a used notebook from the school year left behind. Armed with pages that were itching to be torn, we squatted beside these rivulets and created a paper boat. Simple in design and creation, this provided an immense source of entertainment. Watching it sail away till it reached an open manhole and agonizingly seeing it being sucked inside the manhole, brought sadistic pleasure. It also brought about hopes of creating another boat, even though it was evident that the consequences would be identical. Another one capsizing in to a manhole.

 Rains brought along with it delicacies that were meant to be had only during rains. It was available other times of the year too, but it felt like it was meant to be. Kind of like Abhishek Bacchan and Aiswarya Rai. Actually probably not. But what I mean is rains and a hot cup of tea, or rains and a hot corn on the cob fresh with salt and chilli powder on top, or better still rains and fried onion pakoras. Match made in heaven. And who better than my grandmother to indulge me in my gluttony. After getting ourselves soaked, we came back home, dried ourselves off with towels and turned on the radio which played Kishore Kumar’s songs. Add to that fresh tea made with ginger and elaichi, it just brings little tears to my eyes, when I think about it now.

 But with all its glorious traits, torrential rains coupled with a high tide on the Arabian Sea can cause the best of people to scurry in to the confines and comforts of their homes. One such instance was in the year of 2005. 26th of July. About a 1000mm of rain in 2 hours annihilated the city no end. It hit Bombay so fast and so furiously, people did not have time to react. I was one such soul. Stuck at college, listening to a lecture that was boring to begin with, concerned friends and family were constantly texting asking me to get out of there. Multiple requests to our professor, but to no avail. No means of transportation to get back home, I was forced to walk an arduous 6 hours before I could reach the nearest relative who provided much needed shelter and a cup of hot tea. Walking 6 hours is still acceptable, but walking 6 hours in neck-deep muck with the fear of being sucked in to an open manhole was a lot more challenging than meets the eye. But the fact that I am writing this essay ensures that I survived that traumatic experience.

 All said and done, rains will always have a special place in my heart. For some reason, Bombay is always associated with rains in my eyes. The sense of camaraderie that it brought in times of need. The huddling up of people under one umbrella. Utter disregard to caste, creed, religion or social status, everybody who walked in the rain, would get wet. It was how it was meant to be. People will come, people will go. Monsoon is as critical to Bombay as a beat is to a heart. And I will still jump and play and get drenched in the rain as when I was a child.

 As Langston Hughes once said, “Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.”

Food for thought

Being raised a vegetarian, life’s traumas are aplenty. Especially, if you’re trying live to in a country, where being vegetarian or vegan (both are different species by the way) is a niche. It’s like living in a Salman Khan movie where he doesn’t take his shirt off. Or Mallika Sherawat. It’s almost a rare occurrence to find a vegetarian only restaurant or even one that has more than one non-meat delicacy on its menu, unless you live in a neighborhood teeming with hipsters with their cliched attires and attitudes. Ordering low fat with 33% by volume skimmed 2% milk only coffee latte. The coffee beans have to be freshly roasted in the heat that is generated in your leather pants on a normal Phoenix, AZ summer afternoon. Apologies for that diatribe against hipsters but it’s hard not to like them.. Maybe it’s just me. YOLO. *carefully finds the nerve on self’s wrist for quick impact*

Hailing from a country where, apparently, two aspects rule the roost when it comes to being considered good looking. The first being skin color. With an immense amount of self control, I shall sidestep that minefield temporarily. The second being, of course, physical appearance. Granted when I was in graduate school in Missouri, between juggling 3 jobs, courses that would make one cry tears of acid, and projects that are best left undescribed , food ranked low on the priority along with sleep. Being a lethargic asshole, I would much rather have sleep than food. But being denied food, my stomach protested by making sounds that can only be described as a Himesh Reshammiya orgasm. Without the shitty hat obviously. When the stomach wants, the stomach wants. So I complied. In a state where steaks are served in a buffet, my gluttony ensued in the ravenous, dark confines of my lab. Gormandizing on my 1/2 lb Cheese burrito with beans instead of beef, smuggled under my shirt from Taco Bell. Yes, eating at Taco Bell was considered a step down from eating at a restaurant. Peers said the consequences would be dire. I failed to see their point. The burrito was delicious.

A few months on, the dire consequences started to show. Specifically, on the hips, stomach, ass. And of course bowel movements. The Fire sauce had worked it’s magic. Cue a trip back home to India, where the first question upon arrival was, “How was the flight?” And the second one being, “Did you eat the entire country’s supply of food?” It was a common trend that I encountered all throughout my annual plastic smile visits to “well-wishers” who keep taunting the fact that I genuinely represented the “Pizza and Burger eating” culture that the United States was renowned for. It was hard enough keeping track of the taunts, so I refrained from explaining how tacos and burritos were made. The concept of “putting on” is still alien to me. I understand people care about my deteriorating image, and the fact that I needed 2 cameras to take a photograph or the person had to be standing atop a hill so I could fit in the frame, but I do realize the fact that bending down is now actually a chore. Steps were being taken.

California had given a lot more options. “The Land of Hipsters and Hollywood”, as it’s affectionately called, had a lot more culinary options for me to gobble upon. The healthy lifestyle can wait. I got new money flowing in courtesy my job. Years of living like a student on Maggi (Ramen) and Burritos had run its course. Now it was time for real food. Extra cheese? Why the fuck not?! Picture this. An extremely obese guy is watching a porno. He is finished when the pizza guy delivers the pizza in the movie. Or like the first 5 minutes of any Sunny Leone or Uday Chopra movie. The enthusiasm to fatten myself lasted about that long. I was soon turning into THAT fat guy. Seeing all those beautiful people on the beaches inspired me no end. This fat and this disgusting lifestyle had to go.

This took me to the wonderful world of the internet where opinions were like assholes. Every single asshole had one. I started typing “how to” and google spontaneously detected my immense self loathing and possibly heard the creaking of the chair I was sitting on. It prompted, “How to lose weight, you fat loser”. Google always knows best. Diet plans were aplenty. Atkins, Dukan, South Beach, Stillman to name a very select famous few. None of these had what I wanted. I wanted the ability to eat whatever the heck I wanted and also lose weight. “Does eating count as exercise?”, was my next question to Google. It said, “If you want to die by 30, and have that written as an epitaph to you, then yes. Eating is an exercise.” Point well and truly made. I had to move my fat carcass off the couch that was reserved for video games and take it to the nearest gym.

Then came the move to Virginia. This is a state that can only be described best on a psychiatrist’s couch with dolls. At least the part that I was moving to. To celebrate a friend’s birthday, we asked him where he wanted to eat. He suggested a steak house. Not just any steak house, a steak house where you could choose the steak you wanted. Some of these steaks were as big and red as something that would feature in a M. Night Shyamalan movie or the latest Saw remake. When all my friends were busy choosing their steaks of choice, I was busy fiddling around with the free groundnuts that they had offered us. Then we sat down, and the server came by to ask us what we wanted as our sides. Cue my standard response, “Do you have anything that does not have meat in it?” I can see the rolling of her eyes and instant judgement on her part, while she was thinking, “Do these people not read English? Why would you come to a steak house and ask for vegetarian food?” But her mouth, thankfully tried to look for options. A salad maybe? No that has bacon bits. How about some fries? No, that’s fried in cow lard. Do you  consider fish to be meat? All I had was a beer and fried onions. Make that 3 beers.

I was fortunate to learn how to feed myself by cooking food that resembled something like a potato that tried to commit suicide in a shallow pan with a side of onions and garlic. Yet, the taste was divine. I had come to tell myself that I was an excellent cook. Delusion was my only escape from the nightmarish culinary experience so far in Virginia. So hear one, hear all. All I have to say is eat all you want, when you want. Yet, ensure that bending is not really a chore.

My motto is “People eat to live, I live to eat”. 165 lbs and counting. (Completely made up number)

Color me rainbow

With the whole arranged marriage building up a considerable head of steam, I received a profile of a guy working in San Jose. His father was very interested in my profile and thought his son and me should get talking. He also asked my Dad for my horoscope. Much to the chagrin of my Dad, he asked me if I knew something he did not. Not that I am against Gay Marriage in any way, shape or form, but I did not think that guy was cute. Secondly, I don’t think any guy is cute. No disrespect to any cute guys there, but I wasn’t wired that way. I did not choose to or decide to be straight. I was born that way.

Which brings me to the main issue. Homosexuality and gay marriages. Of course, during the course of growing up, I have called effeminate guys who I studied with as gay. I simply assumed stuff and judged. I had no clue about their sexual orientation. I don’t think any 10 year old kid knew about their sexual orientation. I heard somebody say it, immediately made the connection that effeminate equals gay, and went ahead and labeled the kid that. I was a smart cookie like that. But then I also grew up in India. Where people aren’t really open about discussing  sexuality and parents never seem to be too keen to discuss sex or protection.

My first foray into dealing with said sexuality was when Govinda was trying to get in the sack with an actress and he was crooning this beautiful masterpiece aptly called Sarkai Lo Khatiya. So when parents aren’t taking responsibility for teaching their kids, they seek guidance elsewhere. Enter Shakti Kapoor, of casting couch fame. And it’s not that Indians don’t know about sex. This is the country that came up with the book of all books. No, not the chronicles of Chetan Bhagat. The Kama Sutra. Although, Chetan Bhagat’s photo on the back of his books are far more disgusting to look at than the last page  in the Kamasutra that says The End. Why yes, I am straight and single. Why do you ask?

If the name Baba Ramdev means nothing to you, then it is safe to say you are not an Indian – or a yoga enthusiast or are in complete control of your senses. The guru’s international yoga camps – where he preaches a medicine free world – have been attended or watched on television by an estimated 85 million people worldwide, making him one of the most recognisable Indian faces on the planet. That guy is as flexible as having a beer on a Monday afternoon. You know if you are employed, generally Mondays are most harrowing of all days. You know it’s a shitty pun, if you have to delve into explaining it yourself. Anyway, given the political wars ongoing in India right now, pseudo godmen such as Baba Ramdev try to voice their opinion about how homosexuality is the bane of all Indian cultural existence. Existence of homosexuality is evident in Indian culture since prehistoric times, as seen in different forms of art like paintings and carvings in temples. Here is photographic evidence.

Yet his exact words were,

“These are unnatural acts not designed for human beings. The decision of the High Court,if allowed to sustain will have catastrophic effects on the moral fabric of society and will jeopardise the institution of marriage itself. This offends the structure of Indian value system, Indian culture and traditions, as derived from religious scriptures”

Yet, we have women being raped every minute. Each one more atrocious than the next. Each victim younger than first. Yet, instead of finding ways where the average horniness quotient of the average Indian male could be curtailed by means of his yogic talents, he tries to find a cure for homosexuality with yoga. Indians are known to procreate with ease. Just read through our annual census reports. 1.3 billion people can’t be wrong. I think acceptance of homosexuality in Indian society could potentially solve our growing nightmarish population problems and also potentially bring focus to more crying needs such as rape victims or female infanticide. Or basic education. Ours is a country where the moral police have a problem with couples holding hands and kissing in public. Yet, men can quite freely intertwine their pinkies together and walk merrily along the streets. What’s another word for merry? That’s right! Gay.

Don’t let the likes of people such as Govinda, Shakti Kapoor and Baba Ramdev explain about sex to your kids. Take the mantle in your own hands and distinguish between those darn birds and bees. And also teach them to respect women and not treat them like sexual objects. And also, make them listen to Govinda and Udit Narayan songs from the 90’s. They were absolutely staggering and their lyrics were the stuff that The Beatles could only dream of.

Case in Point

Age is but a giant, disappointing number

So, this week, of all weeks, I have a birthday coming up. Funny thing about age. It keeps increasing every year, pushing one to the brink of extinction. I was always taught as a little kid, when people age, they age like wine. So, apparently they have a ton of complex reactions, sugar, acids and taste funny. Funny good of course. I choose to age like milk. That is well past its expiration date. With great age, comes great wisdom. All I got was 4 wisdom teeth, nestled perfectly inside my gums, waiting to pierce certain nerves. Then I grunt with pain, have a surgery and get them out. Nothing wise about that. Get it? Wise, Wisdom, teeth? Eh screw you.

One of the main qualms I have with most of the youth of this generation is the sheer lack of functional literacy in terms of writing a sentence to save their lives. Back in my times, we were rapped on the knuckles for not using punctuation, using improper spelling and all of these in complete legitimate sentences. Everything these young people write is unfiltered, unedited, unintelligible and filled with crazy slang and infuriating abbreviations. Gone are the days when BTW stood for Back To Work, but now abbreviations are the new norm. Seriously people, WTF?

However, the digression is partly due to the fact that my attention span isn’t what it used to be. Neither is my waistline for that matter. I blame that on the advent of my middle age, where my age starts showing around the middle. Also, my tolerance for putting up with bullshit has also reduced significantly along with what used to be a hairline. Now, it just resembles a forehead suffering from gigantism. I have slowly started to learn that the walkman that I use actually has a knob that turns left. Walkman? You know the device that plays audio cassettes? Audio cassettes, which have two sides to it all full of music? Damn kids, with their youtube and Harlem Shakes. During my time, Harlem was famous for a bunch of insanely talented basketball players who used to roll a ball on one finger and dunk the baskets using trampolines. Warned you about the digression, didn’t I, kiddo?

When older people used to ask me to reduce the goddamn volume, I used to retort by saying “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.” And now the negative volume button is pressed as quickly as the speed dial for emergency services such as Pizza or Chinese food. When the waist level on my jeans slowly start encroaching towards my chest, I will have then started the unholy process of aging. I know I have started growing old, because visits to the doctor now are more than an annual “Hello, how do you do?”. It’s started to lean towards:

Me: Doctor, I think I am having a heart attack.

Doctor: Why would you say that? What are the symptoms?

Me: Uhh.. Chest Pain, shooting pain down the left arm, sweating bullets, anxiety!!

Doctor: Ok. Chest pain is because of gas. Excessive potatoes aren’t good for people your age. Shooting pain down the left arm is because your bones are starting to get creaky and you can’t lift heavy grocery bags anymore. Sweating bullets is because you just ran up 5 flights of stairs to my office and you are grossly fat and unfit. Anxiety is because you are a hypochondriac and an idiot.

Doctor: Also, blood tests show super high cholesterol. So, stop shoveling down those potatoes and get some physical activity.

Me: But, watching sports, eating chips and guzzling beers already makes me so tired.

P.S. All the above conversations were completely made up. But it could have happened to somebody, right?

I have started to realize that the older I get, the more I start thinking about life’s responsibilities. Like choosing the right person to marry, how can I best save my money, how to buy a house in a good school district that is good for the kids, etc. And also, where my next dose of fiber is going to come from. You know, so I can comfortably crap out the gluttonous sins of the previous day, and hopefully, some toxins too. On the other hand, my cynical mind tells me, you are going to die anyway. Eat what you can, when you can. Before they start shoving it up your behind, hey i’m old enough to say ass, through a tube.

Yes, thoughts of buying a fast, two seater sports car have crossed my mind. But then reality kicks in and laughs in my chubby, bald face. That’s enough whiskey for today. It’s 9pm. Time to head in to bed. As somebody rightly pointed out, middle age is having a choice between two temptations and choosing the one that’ll get me home sooner.

Get me my armrest and cigar now. And happy 27th birthday to me.


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Technology, trauma and tights

The year is 2013. If Hollywood had anything to dictate the terms on which science developed, then we would be living in space suits and driving hover crafts. On the other side, our world could have ended many times over either by asteroid collisions, giant floods, zombie take-overs, or worse still, have aliens invade us and then probe our asses. However, to be fair, the security personnel at the various airports do a better job of ass probing. And this ass probing is primarily due to the fact that technology is slowly but surely taking over the world. So much so that they can be used as weapons of mass destruction. Exactly the same way in which the George Bush government found the Iraqis using them or the Shiv Sena found on the Facebook page of that one innocent girl and her friend who “liked” it. Technology is very harmful and can be misused in more ways than it can be useful. Seriously, just ask the internet.

The reminiscing about how easy our past used to be, especially for people who grew up in India in the eighties, nineties sometimes goes overboard. Unless of course you were Amitabh Bachchan or Peter Andre. Yes, there were no cellphones. Or even if they were, they needed 3 people to carry them. Calling somebody using the STD, ISD facilities involved taking a couple of days off, heading out to the bank, withdrawing a truckload of money to pay for the STD charges and then pray that the person on the other side could hear you clearly without you having to shout like Celine Dion or Rakhi Sawant.

Which brings me to the advent of cellphones that can be held by one person in one hand. The other hand can now be used for itching, flipping somebody the bird or better still, driving. Cellphones have now achieved what a hot cup of coffee or bananas have been trying to do for generations. Enable a person to defecate in peace. People text when they drive, talk when they drive, run in to posts because their head is buried in a phone. Another person is standing in a corner with their phone recording this so that they can upload on to youtube and other people can watch, laugh and judge them with their phones. Phones are getting smaller, thinner and capable of doing useless tasks just like your average supermodel walking the ramps of Milan or Paris. People say phones getting smarter are making people get dumber. That’s like saying…. Uhhhh…. Damn I can’t think of anything clever to say. Maybe the naysayers were right.

Most people dislike Al Gore for 2 reasons. First, he makes documentaries. His documentaries are as useful as a high-end perfume and cologne store opening up on the mean streets of Dharavi. The second reason, more importantly so, is the invention of the internet. He is the reason why the average individual is like the population of India. Loud, sweaty and growing double in size every year. For those people using smartphones, let me make it clear. Internet makes people fatter. Gone are the days where the beautiful sound of a dial-up modem sounded like Mozart on an illegal drug. Hence most Indian men who grew up in the nineties get a titillating sensation when they hear this mellifluous tune. Internet has grown quite useful over the years. From pixelated, slow and blotchy images of Pamela Anderson in her famous red swimsuit, it has now enhanced to such an extent where people are capable of pirating movies with Sunny Leone acting in her very first Bollywood movie. Or even worse, Chetan Bhagat has his own podcast, where he gets to voice his opinion. But, to be honest, any place where porn, pizza, pastors and prayers can be ordered in the space of a few minutes must be a wonderful adventure. The internet is a wonderful place.

Attention span seems to have….. Oh look a tree that is shaped like Lord Ganesha. I must take a pic and create a chain email that would would force people to forward it to their friends lest they not get the blessings of Lord Ganesha. What was I saying again? Oh that’s right. Attention span seems to be diminishing by the….. ha ha ha look at that cat trying to smile. He thinks he is people. Let’s make a meme and call him smiley cat.

Technology can help you in wonderful ways. From making the world a smaller place where a conversation with another individual you hate across the world can be a few seconds away or you could actually watch Sunny Leone act *wink wink* in the middle of an aircraft restroom 30,000 feet in the air. It also helps you pass time when you are trying to pass something else out your body. I will leave the rest to your imagination. Can’t imagine anything? Blame technology.

Mind your f****** language

This post contains words or even sentences that would bring most refined and pure individuals to give a look that is reminiscent of a Chinese person being called a Japanese. If you belong to a genre of people who detest the F word or cringe at the S word, look away now. Clearly, on reading further, you don’t give a shit about what I warn you about, so you continue to read along anyway. Well, if you don’t give a Muroidea‘s Gluteus Maximus about your senses or my sensibilities, then read on. But don’t tell me I did not tell you so.

If you’ve traveled in a Bombay local train ever before, or even seen one on youtube, you realize that you are in kissing distance to sweating individuals who believe deodorants are like common sense. Those who need it the most never end up using it. So, good wishes and courtesy quite often take a back seat. A quick look around and the choicest obscenities are uttered like it were unwanted pregnancies after a prom night. It’s that common. In fact, the Railway Authorities, led by Lalu Prasad Yadav, conducted a survey in which they asked everyday train users what the most common abuse they heard. About 30% said madarchod (mother fucker) or bhenchod (sister fucker). And the remaining 70% had their faces pressed against another man’s sweaty armpits.

Hailing from a country that has 22 official languages and countless dialects, which also comprise of Bambaiyya Hindi (Hindi spoken by residents of Bombay), language played an important role in my upbringing. Almost every language I have learnt to speak, have started from an obscenity that roused my creative curiosities in learning said language. But growing up in a world where even words are segregated by class, namely good words and bad words, my leanings have always been towards the bad ones. Which is when a fight broke out in a local train we were traveling in and an individual happened to say, “Tereko main latesht gaali sunao kya” (can I interest you in an obscenity I just came up with?), my ears got a little pointier. Who are these wordsmiths who invent these wonderful phrases? Well, a common man such as myself you say. Very interesting.

India places way too much importance to protecting people’s sentiments. In fact, it is the second most important activity in an Indian household after creating babies. Hence, there are 31 children born every minute whose sentiments can now be hurt. So much so, free speech is curtailed by people such as Kapil Sibal and Mamta Banerjee, both of whom need a hug, preferably by a straitjacket. To be honest though, our collective sentiments seem to resemble an arthritic set of bones. Doesn’t take much to hurt them. Which is why when Salman Rushdie came a visiting, “minorities” had their sentiments affected. Yet they let Chetan Bhagat spew out utter nonsense in the disguise of literary awesomeness.

As Hank Moody once quoted, “People… they don’t write anymore – they blog. Instead of talking, they text, no punctuation, no grammar: LOL this and LMFAO that. You know, it just seems to me it’s just a bunch of stupid people pseudo-communicating with a bunch of other stupid people in a proto-language that resembles more what cavemen used to speak than the King’s English.” All of this coming to you via a blog nonetheless you say. Hence, the immense amount of self loathing. Personally I place a lot of emphasis on accurate usage of words as they were meant to be. Like, literally I wish you’re mama read this shit you write herr. Correct spelling gets me as excited as the announcer of the spelling bees. Only I don’t get to judge kids when they spell  flocci­nauci­nihili­pili­fication (whose meaning is worthless. No, seriously)but I do internally judge people who misspell common words. Pacify me please. There, Their, They’re.

As Shakespeare once said, “What’s in a f***** name anyway?”. Now get me that elusive publishing deal. I am ready to vomit chunky literary garbage. Ala Chetan Bhagat