Venky

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan is a pioneering scientist. Am sure his body of work will someday affect my granddaughter’s protein consumption.

So what is interesting about Venky?
He has a name that is made up of four god’s names (with one receiving unfair advantage of a repetition). A pretty defiant name, me thinks – considering he comes from a city where traditionally all of these 3 gods were despised. In short – a possible vaishnavite from the saivite capital.
Dont dig that trivia? cool. So what else is interesting about Venky?
He left India in 1971. Roughly 6 years before I was born. ‘So what about that?’, I hear you ask. ‘An entire generation of educated, upwardly mobile Indians left the shores in those days’. True.
So what else is interesting about Venky?
He came back to India about 7-8 times (to teach in IISc, charity, etc). Thats coincidental! Thats about the same number of times I have gone to Vegas – for charity, again. Dont trust me? Ask the number of casino workers who got a raise that year, thanks to the money I lost on the poker table.
So what else is interesting about Venky?
‘Dude, he got the nobel’. Remember the award instituted by the guy who invented dynamite? (Yeah yeah, the same guy who refused to institute an award for Mathematics, because his wife ran away with a math teacher). I often wonder how the guy who invented the dynamite can give away an award for peace, but I digress. Lets get back to Venky.
So what about Venky’s nobel?
Nothing. Just that it is weird that the Indian media is celebrating. ‘Why not yaar? he was born in chidambaram, he studied in vadodara and what the heck? he is brown!!!’. OK. ok. ok.
what? what was that? did i hear you call me a jealous bastard? well, may be I am. But I still think it is weird that we are celebrating. Some asshole even had the headline “Venky is India’s pride”.
Fuck you.
The man left India almost 40 years back. He left because there was nothing this country could offer for his development. And he did not come back because he could not do what he wanted to do, here. In other words, he abandoned this place for something better. Dont get me wrong, I think he is a very nice guy and a wise one at that. And ‘smart’, obviously – he got the dynamite prize, remember?
So call him that. Smart, wise and nice. Dont call him India’s pride. Coz this award doesnt tell you what we did. It tells you what we couldnt. And cannot, still.

Give me back my shoe

Once, I was stuck in uptown Vegas without a cab and had to hitch my way back to the city. Unfortunately for me, the chap who offered me a ride was a pimp. For the 20 odd minutes that I spent in his ‘bling’ car, I dont think he finished a single sentence without mentioning his ‘bunch’ and how I should give him a call sometime.

I am often reminded of him this month, thanks to this hilarious news channel called CNN IBN. It is about time someone recognized IBN’s efforts in the genres of comic humour and a weird kind of media prostitution. Lemme explain:

In IBN speak, when terrorists attack Mumbai, you have to call it “India’s 9/11” (dd/mm mismatch notwithstanding!)
When the Mumbai police arrests a father for raping his daughter, he has to be referred to as “India’s Josef Fritz”
And when Janrail singh throws a shoe at Chidambaram……you guessed it – “Shoe-gate!!!!!!”
Am not sure if Nixon is gonna turn in his grave for that, but I definitely think this is unfair. Come on….after spending an insane amount on a flat screen TV and a Tata Sky package with ‘news’, the least I deserve is my own personal, national shoe incident! No?

The spectacle spectacle!

‘Hey Ram’ is one of the finest films ever made in India. More than the beautifully layered script or the fantastic shots, what really hits you is the honesty of that script. The movie ends with the protagonist picking up Gandhi’s glasses and sandals after he is shot, which his grandson gives to Tushar Gandhi in the last scene. A beautifully fictitious ending that is almost poetic. It was also not very far from reality.

In the 1930s, Gandhi gifted his glasses to an Indian army colonel. His 1910 Zenith watch went to his grand niece and his sandals were gifted to a British army officer in 1931, before the London talks. In the last 79 odd years, no Tom Dick Harry or Anne Susan Mary gave a rat’s ass about the location of these memorabilia. 
Like all memorabilia do, they reached the hands of a collector who wanted to auction it (Except in this case, the guy – James Otis is a dickhead). News breaks out about the auction and all of a sudden, blood is boiling, people are disturbed, patriotism reaches feverish proportion and everybody wants the auction stopped. In what fuckin joy ? If not for the piece of news in BBC, would any of these self proclaimed patriotic psychos even know about the existence of these things? I dont think so. And pray tell what is so wrong with any of this being auctioned anyway? Its an auction – a place where people ‘value’ stuff. Far cry from the godforsaken museums back home.
And did I mention James Otis is a dickhead? The joker actually has the balls to go on record asking the Indian Government to serve its ‘poor’ people in return for his stupendous kindness in giving the stuff back for free. And the neurotic Indian news channels dont get it. They keep interviewing the jackass for his demented sound bytes.
Enter Mallya. The dude walks in, bids the bid, closes the lid on the damn thing and gets the PR that he righfully deserves.  What do the rest of them have to say now? The government is stumped – its completely ineffective and unimaginative effort has been exposed. Ambika soni is looking for a calm place to bury her head. And the know-it-all Mr. Ramachandra Guha is busy telling television stations that it is a shame that a liqor baron had to save the teetotalling ‘Mahatma’s’ belongings. Fuck you.
All I have to say in the matter is this: Every buck that I have spent in this lifetime on countless kingfisher pints, is money well spent! Somebody pat me!! 
….and cheers to that 😉

The travels of my shaving cream…

Even as I write this, Burkha Dutt is writhing in orgasmic fervor on the TV screen in front of me. Revelling in the drama of the situation and getting into her zone, with her voice breaking almost at will and her vocabulary scaling new heights in dramatization. This is her thing!

As I watch this newscast from my couch all weekend, I think to myself….’isnt this a dream newscast for a terrorist’? Isnt this how they would have exactly wanted to script it?…..20-30 of the best journalistic minds in the country fighting between themselves to prove who can ‘magnify the fear’ better and who has the best ‘drama’ on offer?…..for heaven’s sake, they even have a ‘highlights’ sorta music video every hour or so….just in case you had forgotten any of those images.

I rewind back to the early morning hours of Thursday, when I got out of my hotel room in Mumbai after being huddled in front of the TV all night. Though I was ridiculously far away from all the ‘action’ of the previous night, I ask the bell boy something I have never asked in my life before “Is it safe to go out now?”.

30 minutes later, I reach the domestic terminal and it was a shocking sight. Not because something changed, but because Nothing did. It was exactly the way I left it two days back. Well, actually no. There was a lone cop standing with a semi-automatic.

Ten minutes later, I pass through security and for the 22nd time in the last 2 months, my super-large shaving cream canister, my 500 ml Davidoff and packs of matches – all in the front zipper of my laptop bag, make safe travel through the X-ray tunnel, without tickling the attention of the guard. My mind is shouting out to him “common!! see it! See it atleast today…..this is the morning after a terrorist attack and there is enough room in that canister to blow up the plane I am taking”. But No. He gets out the rubber stamp, and mid-way over sharing a joke with his colleague, brings it down on my tag.

(Even as I write this, Arnab Goswami has just repeated the words “These are visuals that are coming to you exclusively on Times Now and no other news channel” for the 104th time in the last 48 hours.)

As I board the plane, I am convinced about one thing. You dont need an international conspiracy to blow this country up. You dont need a meticulous plan. You dont need a terrorist ourfit. You can do it at will. All you need is just a desire to die and a few hours of your time. So, lets not pretend that something has been breached. There was nothing to be breached. No fucking thing.

The Director of HR of Infosys just popped on screen, demanding the right to bear arms. Fair enough (are you listening Mr. Terrorist? Is this panning out like you planned?). And Milind Deora pops on screen talking about Mumbai like as though it is a neighbouring country. Dude, you are the MP from South Mumbai, for cryin out loud!! But the most appropriate sound byte in all these 4 days came from RR Patil. Surprisingly, everybody is calling it a gaffe. Absolutely not! I think it is the most honest, objective and pragmatic assessment of the situation. A masterstroke.

“Aise bade bade sheharon mein aise choti choti baatein hoti hai”.

Bravo, my man! He is right. A much much larger thing could have happened. And no, the cop in the police station in my vicinity, weilding a lathi and a modified version of the 1880 “.303 Musket” is not gonna stop it. The fact that the “.303” was a big hit in both the World Wars, notwithstanding.

Gaffe Gal!

http://features.ibnlive.com/videos/embed/74867/C1520A46F5A03B820B85FADC2E7111C8385B6EFE0E8D09D692202B007C9F6465250AF9776187481B42E0EC7A9A0B83F19C6669118A745B72F748D25CA7C37F761636886C753B06F15C62C8451B54A0E07FAB0682EFEC736D0E9C6C555FF01E9709D6972330/10_2007/dikshit_corporal313.jpg

Just when you were about to hand the crown of the “Empress of Absurdity” to Mamata Bannerjee, Ms. Dixit snatches it away by making the comment of the last two centuries. This is what the Chief Minister of the capital of India has to say about a woman journalist who was shot on her way back from work…”All by herself at 3 am at night in a city where people believe…you know…you should not be so adventurous.” God help us all.

Us and Them

So, the latest World bank estimates are out. If $1.25 is taken as the new poverty line (ie. The amount of money required for a person to take care of his ‘absolutely essential’ needs for one day), then 455 Million people in India are below that.

In other words, 42% of the Indian population is among the Poorest in the World (Africanesque and all). So, the next time someone tells you that India is shining or twinkling or doing somersaults, you can politely ask them to go fuck themselves.

Shut the fuck up!….and while you are at it, get a life!


Really?

So an entire court in Bhopal – the judge and all its employees, are going to be paid a day’s salary (at least) for hearing this case…coz this is obviously more important for the nation’s judiciary than the 15000 cases in the backlog on murder, rape and robbery.

The girl is 21…..and the first woman in generations of billions to be ranked significantly in world tennis….and this is the best you could do as a sports photographer? having her sort out judicial volleys in addition to Venus’s and Maria’s?

This is so ridiculous that it makes a Lindsay Lohan drunken driving case an epic court battle of global implications, in comparison.

In my opinion, if anybody has to be sued for insulting the flag in this picture, it is the darned photographer for choosing this angle for the object in the foreground…..

Reductio ad absurdum!

Elsewhere…


A bunch of die-hard patriots burnt the effigies of Mark Benson and Bucknor, last week….The two men responsible for all the injustice that life has thrown their and their families’ way. The two men standing between mankind and world peace.


My theory: Lack of good sex is inducing a chemical imbalance in these perfectly normal looking men, which is making them indulge in this stupidity. I cant come up with a better explanation for why a man will spend a fine monday afternoon, burning straw!! Patriotism, my foot.

The only thing crazier than this is CNN IBN coming up with a novel initiative to show their support for the sons of the soil, by launching an online petition for revoking the ban on Harbhajan…seriously? Do they even realize what a ‘hearing’ means? Isnt it ridiculous to demand a specific outcome from a judicial exercise? Should they not be asking just for a ‘fair hearing’??? well….I guess thats about as much as you can expect from news channels that have a ‘background score’ for news….

But the biggest joke of them all is yet to come….

“Indians drink buffalo milk but worship the white cow. They do not worship the buffalo because its black.”

Quote attributed to: Mahoshay ‘Kancha Iliah’
His claim to fame: A book titled ‘Buffalo Nationalism’ (which I dont look forward to reading)
Event in question: ‘Are we racist?’ – a supposed introspection into the nation’s psyche from CNN IBN, post the monkey fiasco down under.

Really, I respect CNN IBN more than any of the other news channels (DD not included)…..but this one beats even the Navjot Sidhu comedy going on for the last 2 weeks….This is actually so funny, I am not even angry!

Clarity…

http://youtube.com/v/hjp9yuwGab4

Call me simplistic, but I believe that great eloquency is a result of absolute clarity in thought. There are only 3 people I know in sub-continent politics, who can walk into an impromptu press con and talk about complex issues for hours, without as much as a single stammer – Jaswant Singh, Jayalalitha and Bhutto. I might not subscribe to all of their political views, but I believe they are an endangered species.

Chak who?

“Dhoni is the best thing to have ever happened to Jharkand” – Rajdeep Sardesai

“I hope Rahul (Gandhi) like Dhoni, will win the next big match (election)” – Sonia Maino (a.k.a Sonia Gandhi)

“*&*&@ ((&(& @&@&^@ ()(*!^&!%” – Rameez Raja

The world was going crazy.

What a week!!….To wake up to a cricket match is always fun (especially when you ahve been advised bed-rest!). The morning filter coffee mixes with the game almost as well as an evening pint at a pub with TV….epsecially when India is winning! and what wins!!….for me, the best part was the fact that none of the indians featured in the most runs / most wickets or even most sixes tables until the finals. Probably the biggest indicator that we are working well as a unit and it is not a few good horses pushing the cart, like the ’03 world cup.

I thought RPS and Gambhir were the real heroes….the yuvraj mania was obviously amazing….but for me, it was these two work horses who turned in class acts over and over again. And ofcourse sreesanth…..i heard one of the panelists comment in IBN Live that ‘the team should collect a sreesanth tax, where every other team member can compensate for his losses of match fee’….i dont think we ever had a character like him on our ranks…

Having said all this, the end was a bit bitter-sweet for me. When Ravi announced at the presentation ceremony that “$2 Million” is being gifted by the BCCI to the team, I honestly choked. This is unheard of…in cricket….The UEFA prize money for the winner is 7 Million Euros, but that is the prize money…Not the bonus…..The money rain did not end there….Rs. 1 Crore for Yuvraj and something like that for Dhoni….and the list got extended by the day…I take it back…It IS being extended by the day…..

Now, I agree that ‘what a sports person makes’ is not a ‘fan’ question anywhere else in the world….but I think it is a relevant question in India…simply because no other country that I know of, has sportsmen and fans complain of step-motherly treatment dealt out to a sport…

India won the Nehru Cup for the first time…ever! and if you are wondering what the sport is, it is soccer….we won the Asia cup for hockey this year….I would love to see how much those players made, vis-a-vis Dhoni’s boys…it would actually be a rude joke.

You can count the number of astro-turfs in india, probably on one hand. I am almost positive that most of us can count ‘Indian footballer names that we remember’ in one hand too. I understand that the fundamental problem is the lack of popularity among fans for hockey & soccer and not the BCCI….but I believe this is a solvable problem….It has been done before in many countries….Cricket in Kenya, soccer in the U.S., soccer in West Indies….I think that something like this should be very possible for the Sports Authority of India, with enough funding and a clear long term ‘grass-rooted’ plan….we should at least be able to scratch the surface….I dont think we have even done that yet.

I got up this morning to read the article about the hockey players on a hunger strike in karnataka….coz they felt like “dust” when they saw state governments fighting with each other to announce awards for cricketers….I think this has got to be an absolute first….since big bang….that a sportsperson went on a hunger strike for more recognition….chak that India!

Chick Flick

Are you kidding me?

“….the nuclear deal has been approved here (in Washington, DC) by the President, and there (in New Delhi) it’s been approved by the Indian cabinet. So why do you have all this running around like headless chicken, looking for a comment here or comment there, and these little storms in a tea-cup?….” is all that the man said. The quote is all over the media, if anyone cares to re-read it.

Now, how many elite minds does it take to understand that the ‘chicken’ in question is supposed to describe the media and not the ‘honourable’ members of parliament?

And 574 people, who are being paid atleast Rs. 2.5 Lacs per month in salary & expenses by the tax payer, are not able to work for 2 full days because of this linguistical confusion?

Wow!