Saturday, 29 September 2012

Tu To Mera Bhai Hai

If you’ve ever been drunk or been around a drunk then I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “Tu to mera bhai hai!” This phrase is commonly used when a person is intoxicated and is in the company of humans, dogs, chairs or mice. Any living or non-living thing becomes the most beloved in front of a drunk who’s full of love. But then there are the depressed drunks too. And equally menacing, the frustrated drunk.

Why does the common Indian man drink? Is he a connoisseur? No, he probably cannot spell it or even pronounce it correctly. Does he like the taste? Probably not, since he makes that weird face after every big gulp of the 8 PM whisky that goes down his throat. Is it a cultural thing? Definitely not, in a religious country like India drinking is more or less considered to be sin. Although that does not deter even the most pious of followers who duly spill a cap full of Old Monk on the floor and dedicate it to Bhole Nath.

The extremely average Indian man drinks to get drunk. That is the one and the only reason why he heads to the ‘theka’ after a hard day’s work and buys his favourite Green Label (not Johnny Walker, but Gilbey’s) and heads home to a drunky night before he snores away to glory. And then there are the more sophisticated ones who go to their favourite ‘watering holes’ and bathe in Mojitos and LIITs till they’re drunk enough to be talking to random women at the bar. Or aggressive enough to be driving over the poor sleeping on pedestrians on Marine Drive or Ring Road.

“Bhai 17 pack peene ke baad bhi main seedha khada tha banjo!”
“Saale kabhi hamare saath baith ke piyo, hum sikhayenge kaise karte hain hold the drink.”
“Dude I know this guy who’s like this tanker man. I mean I shit you not but he drank 11 bottles of beers in front of me and he was still fine.”

We’re a proud lot. We might not be proud about a baby girl being born or the fact that we have one of the richest cultures in the world but we sure talk with pride when it comes to the amount of booze we can have before we pass out and sleep in our own puke. We’ll go on binges of the likes never even seen in Scotland or Holland. We’ll put to shame the biggest drunks of Ireland and smooth-talking-vodka-drinking Russian ‘Zaars’. From Mallus to Punjabis to Bengalis to Marathis; we’ve all got stories of those few good men who drink like there’s no tomorrow but still manage to wake up solid as ever. And if rumours are to be believed, Gujarat, a dry state, consumes the maximum about of liquor in this country. It won’t be too surprising if this statistic is true.

Sadly, for the common Indian drunk, this specific culture is not particularly embraced by the common public here. In lands outside of India they drink wine when they eat, they consider scotch to be a religion, cops drop the drunks to their home safely and women probably don’t get raped all the time by tipsy men. The situation in India is quite the opposite. Drunks here are a nuisance. Drunks here are ‘over-friendly’ to the extent that they molest women to show their love. Drunks here are looked down upon even if they are good drunks and become happy high after a few drinks. Drunks are not welcome here.

Our philosophy is simple. We drink to get high. We love to get drunk. We feel that it’s a waste if we drink and not feel out of our senses. That’s what our real thoughts are when it comes to drinking. And for some reason we’re quite cool with it and don’t see any reason to change.

We, the average Indian drunks, don’t want to grow up. Even 10 years from now we want to pee in our pants, drunk dial, get in car crashes, hump street dogs, and wake up with no memory of the previous night whatsoever. That’s who we are. And that’s who we will be. Always. Proud.

I’m getting a little high as I end this here so all I’d like to say is “Tu to mera bhai hai.”

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

For The Love Of The Game

There’s a reason why football is called the beautiful game. The raw emotions, the hair-raising excitement, the subdued anxiety, the tears, the drama, the elation; all add up to give any true fan of the game an experience like none other. It touches you deep inside at a level where only a few things and people can reach. One must play a sport, any sport, on a regular basis as my grandfather used to say “Beta pick up a sport and play it at least once a week for the rest of your life. It’ll keep you in shape.” I agree with what he used to say but what I would want to add to that is ‘One must follow a sport whole heartedly and not miss out on the feeling of being a fan either.’ Yes. I’m a fan of the beautiful game. And, Arsenal. I’m a Gooner.

Yeah, this is me. World Cup 2010.

Quite typically speaking, I started watching football when I was about 14 years old, back in ‘99. And as any other typical Indian kid, I started with Man U as they were, and probably still are, the most popular football club in the world. They’d just won the 1999 Champions League in dramatic fashion against Bayern Munich, I’d heard. Since I hadn’t started watching the sport ‘full-on’, I never knew about those big CL matches which started at 0020 hours at night. The following year, I saw a few EPL matches, not understanding too much of what was going on but I did get to witness the magical kick by Zidane in the CL final in 2000 after a long ball by Roberto Carlos was converted into a goal thanks to a brilliant volley by the ‘headbutt-er’ himself.

But what changed that season was that my loyalties towards Man U gradually started shifting towards Arsenal. I started watching this unique football club in action in which the majority of the players were, well, umm, black. Somehow that intrigued me into watching the Gunners play. And their short quick passes made it only better. Wo din hai aur aaj ka din hai, I’ve been a Gooner, and always will be.

I am not trying to defend the sport here or trying to justify why I like watching football or Arsenal particularly. I don’t need to. I am not against any specific sport; I don’t think a particular sport is superior to any other. All I’m trying to do here is express my love for football. And emphasise on the awesome feeling of being a fan. It could be any sport of your choice. Be it cricket, F1, tennis, badminton, golf or even kabaddi, if you don’t follow a sport or at the very least follow a particular team, you’re really missing out on something. In football, there’s a lot of drama for the crazy ones, a lot of games on for the bored ones, a lot of skill to see for the critical ones, a lot of stats for the obsessed ones, and some hot looking guys for all the women out there.

I even love playing football. I might not be all that good at it, but I manage. I don’t get to play it any longer, but I wouldn’t miss a chance if I got one. Trying to pull a step over, or a curling free kick, or just a shoulder push on a person you don’t like really brings out the best (or the worst) in you. Playing it on the computer is even easier, and a convenient way for most common public to get to know more about the players, clubs, stats, etc. And eventually to show off that knowledge in front of other college kids during a night out for some beer at a pub. People do that.

But the gist of what I have been trying to say is that you really need to become a true fan of a team and/or a club and/or a player. Live a dynamic life. Live a second life. Experience emotions the kind you never feel anywhere else. Cheer when your team wins, cry when it loses. Don’t give up. Just because India loses a match does not mean we stop supporting it right. So what if Arsenal hasn’t won a single trophy in the past 7 years or so? Does. No. Change. A. Thing.

Once a Gooner. Always a Gooner. 

Monday, 10 September 2012

Blame It All On The Woman

Women are supposed to be women.

Firstly, if you find out through a scan that you’re having a girl, get it aborted. In case a girl is born, just drop her in a drum of milk and let her die in peace. If you can’t kill her then, let her grow up and ask her to wear a nice black dress and go to Gurgaon after 8. She’ll get raped AND killed. If she doesn’t die, get her married to a Jain. Or a Marwari. Or any orthodox Indian man actually. Don’t give a dowry. They’ll burn her in the kitchen and say it was an accident. In case that doesn’t happen, in the hope that she would produce more sons for the family, ensure that she delivers a girl child. Either they’ll bribe the doctor to get her killed during childbirth or else keep blaming her for the rest of her life till she commits suicide. A woman is not supposed to live in this country. Even if she is allowed to live, she can’t stay happy. Those are the rules. Either accept them or you better end this miserable life of yours.

Who ever gave women the right to be born in the first place? This country does not need any women. All it needs is strong and power hungry men who will fight each other for the smallest of things and feel good about themselves. Women have no right to be educated. All they need to learn is to how to cook food, keep the house clean, pleasure their men and breastfeed their kids among various other random activities. Women shouldn’t work. Women shouldn’t wear modern clothes or go out drinking. Heck they shouldn’t even be allowed to drink unless their drunk husbands force some desi liquor down their throats just to satisfy their own wild fantasies. Women can’t go eat good food outside, or eat from a fresh clean plate. All they need is some leftover crap which they eat from the used plates of their men. Forget about a sweet dish or a cold drink. That’s what men consume. Women only cook and serve. That’s what God made them for. That’s all they need to know.

Men are animals. And it’s a good thing. It’s just the natural order of things. Women are the prey and we are the hunters. If a woman is walking on the road at night, any man has full right to rape her then and there in full public view. He does not do it too often during the daytime, not because he is scared, but because there’s no ‘feel’ of having sex with the lights turned on. So they prefer to abduct them inside a car if they find a good one during daytime. It’s comparatively darker inside a car and there’s natural stimulation thanks to the potholes. Women are NOT supposed to travel or anything. They just need to step out of the house only when necessary. For example, when the groceries need to be bought, or milk or bread. And the shops should not be more than a km away. They should avoid talking to other random men as much as possible and come back home directly without even looking at anyone else.

If men see a pair of boobs it is their birthright to go and press them for amusement. That is what boobs are for primarily. Only when women have babies do boobs have any other purpose. Although, men again have full authority to drink human milk in those days and let the kid cry of hunger. Man does what pleases him. That’s the law that is followed in this country. Be warned.

This is not it. There’s more but I don’t want to gross anyone out even further. Or get into much crueller details and scenarios. I have proven my point.

Now tell me, why in God’s name would I want to have a girl child in this kind of an environment? When we live in a world like this, why would you want to spoil another human’s life? Why would you endanger your daughter’s life (and izzat) by bringing her into this hellhole of a world? I wouldn’t. Fix the mess, then talk. Till then, let me fight the system till I can. Let me fight for women’s rights. My sexist jokes will one day bring justice to all you women out there. And that’s a man’s promise. Yeah, because man always fulfils his promise.

Bitch, please. If you don’t get it. Get a life.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Discrimination Against Bikers

I went to The Oberoi Hotel in Delhi for an event today. For obvious reasons I shall not name the event but it was pretty big. There were a few biggies attending it and then there was the usual janta as well. It was covered by the press too, but not too widely though. What was happening there trended on Twitter worldwide and is probably trending as I write this blog. An invite-only event, but apparently, an event where you either come in a car or even walking, but don’t you dare come on your motorcycle.

As I rode from my work place in South Delhi to The Oberoi Hotel near Lodhi Road, I was feeling a little uncomfortable because I was wearing a brand new shirt which I had just unpacked 10 minutes prior. I was completely unaware of the event till late afternoon only to realise that I was dressed like a jhalla. The boss felt pity and bought me a new shirt. Just so you know, only when I got home did I notice that the cardboard thingy which keeps the collar stiff was intact throughout the gig.

But this is not about my shirt or my dressing sense. None of them are great but I’m still quite happy with them all. This is about the fact how The Oberoi Hotel discriminated against me, my motorcycle and my helmet.

I’ve been going to hotels on my bike on a regular basis, usually for work purposes. I prefer travelling on my bike because it’s cheaper than travelling in a car, it takes much lesser time, and I also have the love for biking. I don’t really care for other people’s opinion or where I am going to. Having lived in Pune for 2.5 years, biking is sort of in my blood. So as I approached the not-so-main gate of The Oberoi Hotel, I asked the guard where the motorcycle parking was for I knew that 5-star hotels do not entertain bikers through the main gate and neither do the valet drivers take too kindly to bikers.

The guard then asked me what my business was at The Oberoi Hotel, which of course would never happen to somebody sitting in a car. I got a little miffed but I managed to keep my cool and calmly told him about the event. He directed me towards a shady corner of the compound near the taxi stand where all the bikes were parked. It was safe to assume that it was the employee parking area and all sorts of shady activities could be witnessed there, from a firang smoking a joint to a parking slip just made by writing something on a random piece of paper.

I didn’t have much of a choice so I just parked it there and went towards the main entrance to the hotel. Since this wasn’t the main gate or the main parking, the walk to the main entrance was around 5 minutes long. I was happily walking with my backpack, which was slightly heavy thanks to the laptop, and I had my fake Wayfarers on, which probably look better than the originals. I was just thinking about my tasks for the event when I was suddenly stopped by a random looking guard who was manning a seemingly empty road with a small stool in front of him and an attendance register kept on it.

“Haanji, kahan ja rahe hain aap?” “Where are you going?”
“Hotel mein, aur kahan?” “Hotel, where else?”
“Achha, entry kar dijiye.” “Okay. Please make the entry.”
“Kaisi entry? Kaunsi entry?” “What?”
“Hotel mein jaane ki.” “To enter the hotel.”
“Yeh kab se hone lagi bhai?” “Since when did this start?”
“Ji yeh to sabko karni padti hai.” “Everybody needs to do this.”
“Achha to gaadi mein bhi jo log aate hain aap unse bhi entry karwate ho?” “So even the people in the car need to fill this up?”
“Haanji.” “Yeah.”
“Achha. Agar main abhi pata karke aau ke aisa hota hai ne nahi... Kamal ji... Aur agar pata chala ke aisa nahi hota gaadi walo ke saath to?” “So you’re saying if I go to the main gate and ask if this is done to the people in cars... Mister Kamal... And I find out that it doesn’t...”
“Uh... Ji... Sir wo unki entry CCTV ke through ho jaati hai.” “Uh... Sir, their entry happens automatically through the CCTV.”
“Achha....” “Oh...”

I didn’t feel like haggling over the entry too much as I was kind of running late so I duly started filling the register.

“Sir wo job hi paidal aata hai na unki entry karni hoti hai.” “Sir whoever comes walking needs to fill the register.”
“Magar main to bike se aya hu bhai.” “But I came on my bike.”
“Sir lekin idhar se to paidal hi aa rahe hain na.” “But sir you’re crossing this area by walking.”

I filled it up and started walking again.

“Sir theheriye. Helmet nahi leke ja sakte. Use motorcycle ke saath hi chhod dijiye.” “Wait a second sir. You can’t take the helmet.”
“Teri ma ka... Main udhar nahi chhod raha karna hai jo karo.” “Motherfu... I’m not leaving it there.”
“Sir wo gate pe bhi mana kar denge.” “Sir they won’t allow you.”
“Haan theek hai main dekh loonga.” “Yeah I’ll manage.”

Now I was properly angry and ready to pick up a fight with the manager. I briskly walked towards the gate and asked the guy to take my bag through the scanner. He instantly told me that I couldn’t take the helmet with me. That was the cue. I started yelling and asked him to call his senior or manager or whoever was around. This another random looking dude, but not in a guard’s uniform at least, came towards me and asked me in English what the matter was. I yelled at him and told him how absurd could they be to not allow me to take my helmet inside the premises. I gave arguments like “what if I was paying 10k for a room, would you still ask me to keep my helmet outside?” But they just wouldn’t budge, neither did I. I clearly told them I am not leaving the helmet out in the open on my bike.

“Tell me what if it rains? What if somebody steals it?”
“Sir it’s the management’s rule. Nobody is allowed to take a helmet in.”
“Will you give me a room in the hotel if I lose my helmet? Because I sure don’t wanna ride my bike if my helmet is wet or if it gets stolen. Will you buy me a new helmet? Will you guarantee that I would be safe on my bike without the helmet?”
“Uhh sir no but which room are you staying in?”
“I am not staying at this hotel currently and I don’t think I would want to ever if you treat your customers like this. I am here for the XYZ event.”
“Oh okay sir. Please leave the helmet here with the guards, that’s the best I can do.”

I could see my boss waiting in the lobby inside so I decided to give in and asked them to keep the helmet safe. I walked inside and then had to forget about the incident. The event started soon and I kind of forgot about the whole bike fiasco. Until I got out after the event and went to my beautiful bike.

The whole episode came striking back and I wondered how these snobbish hotel guys could be so discriminative against bikers. What do they have against motorcycles, I just don’t understand. Not just The Oberoi, in fact, at Hyatt and Intercontinental too I have had similar experiences. Not as bad as this though. I have gotten used to a spate entry gate and a separate parking space, but not being allowed to take my helmet inside was a new low altogether.

Why can’t they treat us as equals? Just because somebody is on a bike does not mean he/she is poor. It could simply be that the person prefers riding instead of driving. What if it was John Abraham on his Ninja? Obviously he wouldn’t have been stopped. Then how different is this from “Indians and dogs not allowed” boards from the British Era?

This crap needs to stop. They need to treat us as equals. I am an educated person, an Indian citizen and I demand for equal rights for us bikers. This incident will not stop me from taking my bike the next time I go to a hotel but I expect to be treated better. No more preferential treatment towards people travelling in cars. I am also paying the same for the butter chicken I order in there as the person in the car. Enough is enough. These 5-star hotels need to learn or else there will be anarchy.

There is a reason why people don’t take pangas with a motorcycle gang...

P.S. I have a 2008 Bajaj Avenger 200. I love it. I am a passionate biker. And I will continue to ride till the end of my days.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Social Media for N00bs

My parents often wonder why I’m still struggling to make ends meet while Mark Zuckerberg is sitting atop a billion dollars or so. This comparison arose only because I work for a social media agency and Mark Zuckerberg bhi to Facebook mein kaam karta hai na? Tum bhi koi naya Facebook kyu nahi bana lete? So that’s what my mother says to me whenever we have a chat about life and what the future holds for me. Such is life when social media is not understood by the generation that preceded you. All they understand is e-mail and chatting. They don’t know the difference between a Poke and a Tweet. Or a DM and a late night Skype call in the nude.

Though they might understand the basics of Facebook and Twitter, and some might even have an unwanted presence on those sites, but what they don’t know is that even the local ‘chaines van’ is now on Facebook and that Kamaal R Khan is one of the most popular Indian figures on Twitter. They don’t know that it’s good for nothing people like us who run the biggest Facebook brand pages and handle Twitter accounts for the same. What was once the Call Centre Industry and then the Animation Industry is now the Social Media Industry. Just about anyone wants to be there and the fact is that everybody already is there.

New social networking sites are popping up like McDonald’s franchisees in Indore or Meerut. And the rate at which people are joining those very websites is higher than the rate at which people are being born in India. For the first time ever the birth rate has been defeated in the land of more than a billion. As a very lame statistic claims ‘Facebook is the third largest country in the world’, we’d soon be left far behind by this powerful and evil force called social networking. There’d be more unique users on it than the actual population of the world. Wonder how? It’s quite simple actually. Already there are plenty of ‘bots’ running accounts. With time they’d only get more and more intelligent. And considering the rate at which humans are becoming dumber, we’d soon be overtaken by these bots with superior AI. Interacting with a firang from the US would not be a random guy in Andheri (east) but in fact a bot at the Facebook office in downtown Vietnam. It just won’t be the same.

I need to get my fix
I need to smoke my day’s cook
Oh wait it’s not crack cocaine
It’s just some time on Facebook 

  • Hey! Take a picture I’ll put it up as my profile pic on fb.
  • Dude I heard mayamemesaab is dating blast_famous.
  • Bhai kal kya ladai hui, major fadda. Banjo uski wall pe gand macha diya.
  • Bete tumhare follower kitne hain Twitter ke? Hamari Suman ke to saadhe chaar hazaar hain.

This is just a glimpse of what the present has and what the future holds for us. Social networking is taking over and there’s no stopping it. Until and unless we don’t invent something as radical as the internet, there’s no escaping. It’s just going to get worse so you might as well get used to it. Get that 1000+ following, be as funny as khamba, run an ad campaign on Facebook, create a page for your bathroom, check in at the nearest tree, walk through the Glassdoor, and go brush your Tweet.

Social networking is a monster we created ourselves. It might be what brings this world to an end this December. Maybe the Mayans were right after all. So kya Facebook layega is duniya ka ant? Jaan ne ke liye dekhte rahiye, YouTube par videos.

RIP being social. Actually.