Category Archives: Dialogue
Suresh Kalmadi, lodged in Tihar jail for over two months in connection with the multi-crore Commonweath Games scam, is suffering from dementia, a disease related to memory loss, impaired reasoning and personality changes and this may have a bearing on his ongoing trial.
The 66-year-old MP from Pune was recently taken to Lok Narayan Jai Prakash Hospital where an MRI scan was conducted on him. The tests show that he was suffering from dementia which gradually affects cognitive functions of the person affected by it, Deputy Inspector General of Tihar RN Sharma said.
Noted lawyer KTS Tulsi said the first thing is that it needs to be established as to how long the undertrial has been suffering from dementia.
“Now if it(dementia) had settled at the time of offence, it may have a bearing on his culpability. As per the law, a demented person suffers from a global memory loss. If there is a memory loss at the time of the commissioning of the offence, it is not possible to have a fraudulent intention,” Tulsi contended.
If Kalmadi’s lawyers do end up taking this line, imagine how crushing the evidence against him must be. Hell, given how old our politicians tend to be, they could all claim dementia or senility or even death if they’re implicated in such criminal cases. (‘Your honour, I was dead at the time of my alleged encounter with Ukranian prostitutes. Even in the MMS produced as evidence, you cannot see me moving. Look carefully.’)
Kalmadi should wake up one morning in Tihar, ask to go to the loo, and be refused. ‘Let me out. I need to pee, he says. ‘I can’t remember the last time I needed to pee this bad.’
‘We can’t let you out. Use your water bottle,’ says the guard. ‘The warden’s got dementia, and he can’t remember where he put the key to your cell. He he he.’
Posted by Amit Varma on 25 July, 2011 in
The WTF claim of the day is that “baby boys who have a nanny ‘turn into womanisers’”:
In the book The Unsolicited Gift, Dr Dennis Friedman said delegating child-rearing responsibilities too soon risks equipping your son with life-long double standards when it comes to women.
This means that even though he could go on to be married he will always have the feeling that another women could cater for all his basic needs.
“It introduces him to the concept of The Other Woman,” said Dr Friedman who is 85.
I’d be impressed if this was intended as a parody of how people so often mistake correlation for causation. But such WTFness cannot be manufactured, and Friedman seems to be serious. Ah well.
On another note, I wonder if there were nannies in prehistory. I can imagine the following scene:
Interior of cave. Occupants: Daddy Savage, a bearded man in loin cloth with large wooden club; Mommy Savage, a topless woman with leaves covering her pubic region; Baby Savage, a baby with a baby beard just like Daddy Savage’s; and Nanny Savage, also a topless woman with leaves covering her pubic region, bought from a discount store.
Daddy Savage: Grunt. Right, people, I gotta go and hunt a mastodon for dinner. And kill them cheetahs that’s been eating our stored carcasses. Be back by evening.
Mommy Savage: See ya. I’m also off to look after my vegetable patch in the valley. Mastodon meat needs garnishing. Nanny Savage, you look after Baby Savage.
Daddy Savage: Heh. Baby Savage has a nanny. He’ll grow up to be a womanizer then. Just like his daddy. I’m so proud! (Squeezes Nanny Savage’s left breast affectionately.)
Baby Savage: Daddy, leave that alone. It’s lunchtime!
Posted by Amit Varma on 22 March, 2010 in
Speaking about his new film Shaapit, Vikram Bhatt says:
I did some research and a very important fact emerged. It was how a curse actually functions. The person who has cursed and the person who has been cursed may no longer be there but the curse remains on their family for generations. [...]
Before starting this film, I did a course of psychic meditation. By psychic meditation we can speak to spirits. With constant meditation you can avoid that too. I have seen spirits.
I hope the dude is just saying this to promote the movie, and doesn’t actually believe in this nonsense. And really, how does one research curses anyway? I can imagine the following scene:
Vikram Bhatt knocks on a door. The door opens. An old man stands there, unkempt and grouchy.
Old Man: Yes?
Vikram Bhatt: Sir, my name is Vikram Bhatt. I am researching curses. I hear that you have been cursed. May I come in so we can talk more about it?
Old Man: Ok. Whatever. Come in.
The old man and Vikram Bhatt walk to a table on which lie six bottles of vodka, two of them empty.
OM: I had just begun my drinking session for the night. Wanna join in?
VB: Sure. (Takes a glass from the old man.) So tell me, what’s your curse?
OM: I have been cursed to talk to spirits every day.
VB: Wow. You can talk to spirits? That’s so cool. I’d love to do that.
OM: It’s very easy. Watch. (Starts talking to a bottle of vodka.) Hello, sweety. How are you today sweety? Can I drink you, sweety? Without any mixer, just you and me.
VB: Neat. I like that. Hey, talking to spirits is easy.
What do you mean, that’s not plausible? Have you seen the dude’s films?
(Link via email from Kundan.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 18 March, 2010 in
Arts and entertainment |
The Times of India reports:
Most young people may have got all romantic this Valentine’s Day, but for this technical institute it was all about brotherly and sisterly love. In what can probably be described as a celebration of V-Day in the spirit of Bhai Dooj, the Ishan Institute of Management and Technology asked its girl students to prepare food for the boys to mark the day.
The underlying motto, as institute chairman DK Garg told the media, was to promote “a culture of knowledge where brothers and sisters could stay together’‘. Students said the institute, which believes in strict discipline, had warned them not to get ``carried away’’ on Valentine’s Day.
Well, full marks for being WTF in multiple ways. This is an institute of “management and technology” implying that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. Welcome to the 21st century, and all that.
On another note, given the wisdom of the old adage that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, this plan of promoting “brotherly and sisterly love” might well have backfired. I can imagine one of the boys, Romeo, eating the best mutter-paneer of his life and asking the girl who served him, Juliet, if she made it. ‘Yes,’ she admits, and blushes. He asks her out; they get married; and on the first night after they’re back from the honeymoon, he asks for mutter-paneer. She makes mutter-paneer. He tastes it, and his expression changes. ‘But this is crap,’ he says. ‘You had made it so well on that Valentine’s Day in college.’ And she says, ‘Mutter-paneer? Me? There must be a misunderstanding, I made the palak-paneer. It was Maya who made the mutter-paneer. The pretty girl with the big boobs.’
Anyway, I hope you had a good time yesterday.
(Link via email from Aparna.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 15 February, 2010 in
If you go to Vile Parle station, you will come across the following sign stuck between two ticket windows:
There is much to admire here, but I am particularly intrigued by “mobile bill queries.” Imagine the following scenario: A wife notices a suspicious number on her husband’s mobile bill. She hands it over to Prakash and Sunil to investigate who the number belongs to. Prakash delegates the job to Sunil, who calls up the number and says, ‘Madam, you have won a free Videocon Washing Machine! Please give me your name and address and I shall send it to you.’ The name and address is duly handed over to the client, who discovers that hubby dearest has been surreptitiously calling his mother.
One week later, the mother calls up Sunil and says, ‘Ok, where the fug is my washing machine? I fired the maid because you told me I’d get a free washing machine.’
The maid, meanwhile, is sitting with Prakash in a seedy cafe. She asks him, ‘Do you mean everything you say, my love? Can I really trust you?’ Prakash smiles. ‘Of course I do, dear. Why don’t you hire a private detective to find out all about me. He he he.’
(Picture via Mudra Mehta, who graciously blanked out Prakash and Sunil’s numbers so that they aren’t swamped with queries. You lot are a sordid bunch, I know.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 10 December, 2009 in
The news para of the day comes from a Times of India report on the International Film Festival of India:
Korean director Ounie Lecomte walked away with the Silver Peacock for ‘A Brand New Life’, which translated her own experiences as a child into a collective film. She also received a cash prize of Rs 15.
There’s a part of me that wants that to be a typo, so that the prize is Rs 15 lakh. (That’s actually quite likely.) But there’s another part of me that wants the director to actually have received Rs 15, in three tattered five-rupee notes, the kind your auto driver tries to pass on to you when you’re in an absent-minded haze. I can imagine the baffled director hold up one of them and ask a festival volunteer, “How much is this in my currency?”
“I’m not sure, ma’am, I don’t know anything about your currency.”
“Ok then: How far can it go in India? I mean, what can you spend it on?”
“You can buy a wada pav.”
“It’s a building in Worli.”
(Link via email from Luv.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 04 December, 2009 in
Arts and entertainment |
One more priceless case in the annals of taking offence. BBC reports that Nigeria’s government “is asking cinemas to stop showing a science fiction film, District Nine, that it says denigrates the country’s image.” Apparently the Nigerian ganglord in the film has the same surname as a former Nigerian president—Obasanjo—among other sins. Their information minister, Dora Akunyili, has been quoted as saying:
We feel very bad about this because the film clearly denigrated Nigeria’s image by portraying us as if we are cannibals, we are criminals.
The name [of] our former president was clearly spelt out as the head of the criminal gang and our ladies shown like prostitutes sleeping with extra-terrestrial beings.
Imagine the misunderstandings that this could lead to. For example, a Nigerian lady could be walking home from the supermarket when an alien steps in front of her. ‘Excuse me,’ says the Nigerian lady, ‘please let me pass.’
‘No,’ says the alien. ‘I am horny. First we will copulate.’
The Nigerian lady gasps. ‘Oh, how dare you? I am not that kind of woman.’
‘Gimme a break,’ says the alien. ‘I’ve watched District Nine. I know the truth. All Nigerian women sleep with aliens.’
Yes, yes, I know that’s a bit far-fetched. But I didn’t start it!
(Link via @nilanjanaroy.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 20 September, 2009 in
Arts and entertainment |
Oh man, this is delicious. AFP reports:
Sri Lankan police say they have arrested an astrologer after he predicted serious political and economic problems for the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse.
“The CID (Criminal Investigations Department) is questioning the astrologer,” [police spokesman Ranjith] Gunasekara said Friday, adding that they wanted to find out the “basis” for the prediction.
I can just imagine how the dialogue goes.
Astrologer: [Pointing to chart] See, here’s the basis for my prediction. Note where Rahu-Ketu are.
CID officer: We have outlawed Rahu-Ketu.
Astrologer: Eh? When did this happen?
CID officer: Five minutes before this interrogation began. Hehehe. Bet you didn’t see that happening.
No, but seriously, the government is crazy, clamping down on free speech like this, even if it is the free speech of a charlatan. Even charlatans have rights.
(Link via email from Neel. And previously, in Rahu-Ketu news...)
Posted by Amit Varma on 27 June, 2009 in
Old memes |
Astrology etc |
The WTF headline of the day comes from PTI:
George Clooney hires psychic to connect with dead pig
The report says that Clooney has “hired a psychic to help him contact his favourite pet, a black pig named Max who died three years ago.”
I can just imagine how it all plays out. Clooney and his psychic are sitting at an ouija board in a dark room.
Psychic: George, I will tap on the board three times to say hello, and then you will hear three more taps on the board. After that, my body will be possessed by Max’s spirit, and you can talk to Max through me. Ok?
Clooney: Okay. But you know what, don’t mind and all, but I’m a skeptic about these things. So first I’ll ask you, I mean Max, a couple of questions to make sure it’s him.
Psychic: Sure. [He taps three times on the board. Three more taps are heard after that, and then the psychic throws his head back as his eyes start rolling in their sockets.]
Clooney: [Very excited] Max, Max, is that you?
Clooney: Max, Max, I need to ask you a question. Are you listening?
Clooney: Max, Max, when you saw me for the first time, what were your first words to me?
Psychic: Oink oink!
Clooney: Max! Max! It’s really you! [He hugs the psychic, who dirties his pants, thereby increasing Clooney’s ferocious nostalgia.]
Ok, fine, that’s a bit cruel. George, if you’re reading this and are offended, I apologize. But really, dude, a psychic to contact your dead pig—what were you thinking?
(Link via email from Mahendra.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 23 June, 2009 in
Arts and entertainment |
No, it seems that all the appalling things he said recently can be blamed on Rahu-Ketu.
I can imagine Mayawati’s cops landing up in heaven to arrest Rahu-Ketu under the NSA. Inspector Mishra, leading the police team, finds a boy in pajamas lying on a khatiya. ‘That’s him,’ shouts Mishra, and his men surround the boy.
‘We know who you are,’ says Inspector Mishra, ‘but just for the record, identify yourself.’
‘I’m Rahu,’ says the boy. ‘I had ordered a butter chicken a couple of centuries ago, is it ready yet? Man, service in heaven is so slow, the waiters take everything for granted.’
‘Rahu,’ barks Inspector Mishra, ‘I hereby place you under arrest for instigating Varun Gandhi’s poisonous words. You have a right to remain silent. Until beaten.’
‘Hey, wait a sec,’ says Rahu, ‘that wasn’t me. That was my brother Ketu.’
(Link via email from Girish.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 24 April, 2009 in
Old memes |
Astrology etc |
Early one morning, as the clock strikes five, Salman Khan steps out of his house. He’s wearing a tracksuit and sports shoes, and attached to his arm is a nifty iPod. He starts playing his Himesh Reshammiya playlist, and begins to jog.
Salman jogs. Himesh starts singing “Aashiq Banaya Aapne”. Tere bin sooni sooni hain baahein/ Teri bin pyaasi pyaasi nigaahein/ Tere bin bin asar meri aahein/ Tere bin.
Salman begins to run. Tere bin lamha lamha sataye/ Tere bin bekarari jalaaye/ Tere bin chain mujhko naa aaye/ Tere Bin.
Salman begins to sprint, sweat pouring down his bare chest inside his tracksuit. Aashiq banaya-aa-aa/ aashiq banaya-aa-aa/ aashiq banaya aapne!
And then, when he’s really engrossed in the song, Salman feels something beneath his feet. Damn, he thinks, Mumbai’s roads suck.
Just then, someone starts shouting at him. He switches off the iPod and turns around. It’s a pavement-dweller, a woman, standing there and screaming at him. Then Salman looks down at her feet and realises what he ran over: two other pavement dwellers. This woman’s family. No wonder she’s screaming.
“Hey, lady, I’m sorry,” he says, in that weird accent that passes for foreign in some of his films. “I didn’t mean to run over them. But you should chill, you know. I’m saving the planet. What’s a pavement dweller or two in that cause?”
“Saving the planet?” asks a blogger who happens to be there, leaning against a lamp post. “What do you mean, saving the planet?”
“I’m running to lose weight, man, I’m running to be more slim. So I’m saving the planet.”
“What do you mean?”
“Oh, I forgot the link man, here you go: I’m saving the planet.”
That night, Salman has a nightmare. He dreams that he is in a forest, and there is a chinkara in front of him. It holds a gun.
Posted by Amit Varma on 20 April, 2009 in
Arts and entertainment |
To get a glimpse of the future of Indian television, consider these two news items:
1. Rakhi Sawant has announced a new reality show on NDTV Imagine in which she will begin “a nationwide search for her perfect husband along with the support of the audiences.” Fifteen dudes will be shortlisted, and at the end of the season, she will marry one of them. (If the marriage doesn’t last and the show is a success, she could do it again next year.)
2. A study has revealed that Varun Gandhi has “emerged as the new favourite of prime time TV news in the past two weeks.” After his controversial comments against Muslims, he “managed to achieve 22.57 hours of prime time coverage across six prominent channels,” about 9 hours more than the IPL, which was the second-most talked about topic.
You know where all this is going, don’t you? Yes, I hereby propose that Varun Gandhi be enticed to take part in the NDTV Imagine show, Rakhi Ka Swayamvar. He is eligible and from a noted family, she is voluptuous and hunting for a groom, and they both generate TRPs like cows generate milk. (Don’t ask why that image came to mind.) Also, it will keep the man out of politics, and the country needs that.
And will he win? Well, duh! I mean, imagine the Q&A round:
Rakhi: If someone attacks me, what will you do?
Varun: If someone raises his hand against you, I will cut his hand off.
Rakhi: If someone forcibly kisses me, what will you do?
Varun: If someone kisses you, I will cut his head off.
Now, in this context, she is totally going to find his comments romantic, not repulsive. And even if Varun doesn’t cut off Mika’s head, he could certainly take a leaf out of his father’s book and get forcible nasbandi done on Mika. Imagine the TRPs if that happens live.
Also imagine if, while walking to the mandap, Rakhi and Varun fall into a well and are trapped inside. Oh, the news, the viewers, the ratings, the media planners swirling in ecstasy! I have seen the future, and it is this, it is this, it is this…
(Rakhi link via email from Kind Friend. More Rakhi on IU: 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 08 April, 2009 in
Arts and entertainment |
Small thoughts |
We all know what it means to throw the book at someone, and now it seems that dictionaries will soon have to make space for a new phrase—‘throwing the shoe.’ The origin would be the journalist who threw a shoe at George W Bush a few months ago, and it seems to be becoming a trend now that a journalist in a press conference has hurled a shoe at P Chidambaram. (In a PC, at PC, as it happens.)
The Home Minister was referring to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots when the journalist, Jarnail Singh, asked him a question regarding the CBI clean-chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler.
When Chidambaram averted the question, Jarnail Singh - who works with Hindi daily Dainik Jagaran - threw a shoe at him.
In case you were curious, the shoe missed, which might well lead to informal courses in shoe throwing being conducted in the canteens of journalism schools. Now, what would the phrase ‘throwing the shoe’ actually mean? One possibility: ‘An over-the-top act of protest born out of the frustration of the futility of other forms of protest.’ It could, thus encompass acts that don’t involve shoes at all—though if it involves throwing other things, it could lead to confusion. Like, imagine if a protester throws a TV at a politician, and a journalist reporting it files a report beginning, “In Hazratganj this morning, an irate protester threw the shoe at politician Jagdish Tytler.” And his editor hauls him up.
Editor: Your report begins by saying that some dude threw a shoe. But it turns out that he threw a TV.
Reporter: Yes, sir, that’s a figure of speech.
Editor: Figure of speech, my ass. Which idiot says it is a figure of speech?
Reporter: Sir, I read it on my favourite blog: India Uncut.
Editor: Well, now you will have more time to read your favourite blog. Much more time.
Reporter: [Worried that he’ll be sacked] Sir, please don’t throw the shoe at me!
(Link via email from Gautam.)
Update: I didn’t realize that throwing shoes at politicians has already become a trend, and Wen Jiabao and an Israeli ambassador have had shoes thrown at them recently. I hope this practice doesn’t spread to book launches.
Posted by Amit Varma on 07 April, 2009 in
Sadly, the following line is from Cricinfo, not The Onion:
According to the ICC, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) were unable to provide a guarantee during a teleconference on Wednesday that there would be no rains in Colombo during the tournament which runs from September 24-October 5.
I can understand the ICC’s concerns about the weather, but why on earth go through the charade of asking for a guarantee that would be no rains during that time? It is a characteristic of our species to assume certainty about matters that are inherently uncertain, but surely no one could possibly think that the weather is one of those things.
You know what the SLC dude should have said when the ICC fellow asked him for a guarantee?
“Sure, I can give you a guarantee,” he should have said, “but first you have to give me a guarantee.”
“You have to give me a guarantee that no one from the ICC will fart between now and then.”
“Excuse me? Why?”
“Because if you fart, the massive amount of methane produced might upset the balance in the atmosphere, thus causing rain in South Asia. You get what I’m saying? Go easy on the rajma.”
Posted by Amit Varma on 13 March, 2009 in
It’s Friday morning and I’m feeling lethargic, but it would be a travesty not to blog this magnificent WTF headline:
China says it must approve Dalai Lama reincarnation
This is quite in line with the news I’d blogged about a couple of years ago, about China blocking Buddhist monks from reincarnating without permission. I’m amazed that we don’t yet have a Ministry for Reincarnation in India. I can totally imagine dead souls queuing up at a babu’s desk, applying in triplicate to born again as a rich person.
“You want to be reborn in the Ambani family?” asks the babu. “Hmmm. I get that a lot. Now, what chai paani can you offer me to, ahem, process your application?”
“Chai paani? But I’m just a spirit. We’re not allowed to carry any material possessions with us from Earth.”
“Oh ho,” says the babu. “Of course you are. You can carry spirits. You just needed to slip the dude at Crematorium Customs some remuneration for his services. Foolish man. Slumdog for you.”
(Link via email from Santosh.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 13 March, 2009 in
Two terrorists gather outside VT station. In their bags, they carry AK-47s. They look at their watches. It is almost time.
“Come, my friend,” says one. “Let us go in and shoot a few people brutally in cold blood in the name of God. Bang bang!”
“Wait,” says the other. “You’re forgetting something.”
“We need to buy a platform ticket first.”
On that note, allow me to present to you the headline of the day:
Kasab booked for entering CST without ticket
This is not just throwing the book, but throwing the bookmark. I bet Lashkar never accounted for this.
PS: Blogging’s been a bit slow because of some work that came up. I’ll resume full-swing in a day or two. Your patience is appreciated—and your pestilence is solicited.
Posted by Amit Varma on 25 February, 2009 in
The High Court in New Delhi is so behind in its work that it could take up to 466 years to clear the enormous backlog, the court’s chief justice said in a damning report that illustrates the decrepitude of India’s judicial system.
The Delhi High Court races through each case in an average of four minutes and 55 seconds but still has tens of thousands of cases pending, including upward of 600 that are more than 20 years old, according to the report.
More than the 466 years, it’s the four minutes and 55 seconds that blows my mind. Imagine—your neighbour steals your ox, and you file a case against him, and it goes to the high court. And then you wait and wait and wait. As science advances, you undergo fancy therapies that slow the aging process. The ox dies. The children of the ox die. Generations of oxen pass on to the great farm in the sky. Your neighbour dies, but you keep his brain preserved in a vat. All your organs give way, but you battle on, kept alive by technology, yet afraid to exhale too hard for fear of causing the final malfunction. And then, finally, after 466 years, in 2475 AD, your case is finally heard.
After four minutes and 55 seconds of deliberations the judge, a GoogRoSoft supercomputer, decides that you have lost. All the witnesses are dead, as is the ox.
“I waited so long for this,” you wheeze. “So long, so long. This is not fair.”
“Well,” says the GoogRoSoft supercomputer, “you can always appeal to the Supreme Court.”
Meanwhile, in the vat, the brain throbs with laughter.
(HT: Reader Dev, who also points me to the Supreme Court’s definition of ‘idiot’. Wonder how long they took to come up with that.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 13 February, 2009 in
The next time an Indian parliamentarian says in the House that a “communist” member of Parliament (MP) is up to his usual “tricks” in making a “boring” speech, the book could get thrown at him.
At least if Parliament decides to go by the book: in this case, the latest edition of Unparliamentary Expressions, a 900-page tome published by the Lok Sabha secretariat that governs speech in Parliament and also state legislatures.
“I did not know words such as ‘stern school master’, ‘unfortunate’, ‘shy’ and ‘stunt’ were unparliamentary until I read this book,” said a slightly confused Tathagata Satpathy, a Lok Sabha MP from Orissa. For good measure, the good book says even the word “confused” is somewhat unparliamentary.
For Rs850, the book tells you that one cannot be “ashamed” in Parliament and cannot address a lady presiding officer as “beloved”. Neither can one simply say “hello” to catch the chair or Speaker’s attention.
I’m dying to know which MP addressed which lady presiding officer as beloved. What context could there possibly be for that? And I can imagine an MP rising to his feet and shouting “Hello” at the speaker. The speaker turns to him.
“You scoundrel fellow,” he says, “you dusht shaitan. Do you not know it is unparliamentary to say ‘hello’ to me?”
“Sir, I wasn’t saying ‘hello’ to you,” replies the MP. “I was merely answering my mobile phone. I’m on hands-free. And now if you’ll excuse me… Beloved, can you call later, please? I’m in parliament.”
A ToI report has more examples of this silliness, informing us that calling the president a “poor fellow” is not allowed. Considering that Pratibha Patil is our president, I don’t see why anyone would bother, but I guess every precaution must be taken. “Weed” is also an unparliamentary term, so I guess it’s a good thing that Matthew Hayden is not an Indian legislator.
(Links via separate emails from Gaurav and SK.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 03 January, 2009 in
Joby Warrick of The Washington Post reports:
The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.
Four blue pills. Viagra.
“Take one of these. You’ll love it,” the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.
The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes—followed by a request for more pills.
For U.S. intelligence officials, this is how some crucial battles in Afghanistan are fought and won.
I can imagine what will happen if our intelligence networks hear of this. First, they will place a large order (with taxpayers’ money, of course) for many, many tons of Viagra. Then, just as field operatives are about to be handed strategic supplies, the chief of the bureau will raise a finger. “Wait,” he will say, “if these pills don’t work, or have side effects, they could turn out to be counterproductive for us. There is only way to make sure that they work as advertised.” He will pop a pill into his waiting mouth.
Ten minutes later, he will call his wife on her mobile phone, his hands vibrating with excitement as he holds his instrument.
“Darling,” he will say, “I am coming home in ten minutes. Be ready for me. Wear something nice.”
“Ok, I will wear my Patola sari. But why, what happened?”
(Link via email from Arun Hiregange.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 29 December, 2008 in
A few days ago, I blogged about how Deepak Chopra, on the Larry King Show, said that the Mumbai attacks might have been caused by Barack Obama’s friendly overtures towards Muslims. Well, the irrepressible Sitaram Yechuri has come up with an equally crackpot causation:
What brought the terrorist outfits to our shores? With the Indo-US nuclear deal you are seen as an ally of the US, a strategic partner. There seems to be a total lack of appreciation of this thought from the government’s side.
I guess one should be happy that Yechuri hasn’t blamed India’s liberalization for the attacks. The world is like a Rorschach Inkblot Test for our politicians: they interpret it according to their worldviews, which may often not correspond to reality. The Indian Left parties’ pet hates are capitalism and the USA—the influence of both is virtually ubiquitous, and so anything that goes wrong anywhere can be blamed on one or both of the two.
I can imagine the following scene:
Yechuri arrives at his breakfast table in the morning, in his trademark red pajamas, and browses through the newspaper. His wife comes from the kitchen to place a hard boiled egg in front of him.
Mrs Yechuri: Anything interesting in the papers, darling?
Sitaram: Mmm, not yet, still looking. (Sees something and jumps up.) Yes! Yes! Found something!
Mrs Yechuri: What?
Sitaram: This is happening because of American imperialism! This is happening because of rampant consumerism! In fact, the BJP is also to blame for this!
Mrs Yechuri: What is it? What are you talking about?
Sitaram: This news in Hindustan Times: Techie grooms go out of favour.
(ToI link via email from Anu.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 12 December, 2008 in
Just yesterday the Indian media was jumping up and down in celebration because they had discovered an Indian name among Barack Obama’s advisors—that of Sonal Shah of Google.org. Well, now they’re all jumping up and down in righteous indignation because she was once allegedly linked to the VHP. My friend Reuben Abraham knows Shah well, and delivers an impassioned defense:
As a friend of mine said at the time, these people are doing to Sonal exactly what the right-wing loonies tried to do to Barack Obama with the Bill Ayers story, i.e., guilt by association. If you have made the mistake of being somewhere near Bill Ayers, by definition, you’re “palling with the terrorists.” This is vile. This is wrong. This is destructive. This is disgusting. And this is precisely the sort of vile politics that the United States needs a break from; the sort of politics the average person is tired of, if Obama’s mandate is anything to go by.
More than Reuben’s personal testimony, Shah’s record speaks for itself:
While she was at Clinton’s treasury department, she worked actively in Kosovo and Bosnia in setting up the central banking system and refloating the currency, both measures vital to the stability of the new states, and especially in preventing hyper-inflation. She also worked in Indonesia during the Asian financial crisis with Robert Rubin’s team. Lest the irony be lost, all three countries are predominantly muslim, not exactly the natural home of the anti-muslim fundamentalist some of these news reports imply Sonal is.
Fawzia Naqvi, a Pakistani Muslim, also pitches in for Shah in Reuben’s post.
If the elections were still on, poor Obama would no doubt be accused of “palling around with Hindu fundamentalists”.
Imagine this: You die, get to Heaven, and God greets you at the door. “Let me in,” you say. “I’ve been good all my life, I’ve helped old ladies cross the road, administered first aid to a fly, procreated for the grace of God, I mean You. Now let me into Heaven.”
“Aha,” says God. “You didn’t read the small print. The large print in the contract says that you don’t get into heaven if you have sinned. The small print says that you don’t get into heaven if anyone you know has sinned.”
“Anyone I know?” you protest. “But that’s absurd.”
“That’s the way it is,” says God. “And if no one you know has sinned, I might just invoke the six-degrees clause. You thought Earth had global warming. You ain’t seen Hell yet.”
Posted by Amit Varma on 10 November, 2008 in
Sarah Palin comes to India and wants to visit a dhaba. Sonia Gandhi takes her to a dhaba on the road to UP. They order. The food comes. Palin takes a bite.
Palin: Eeks. Waiter, waiter, come here.
Sonia: Wait, he won’t come if you call. Let me call him. Manmohanji!
Waiter Manmohan: Yes madam. Is the food okay?
Palin: No, it isn’t. I ordered Moose Masala. This doesn’t taste like moose to me.
Waiter Manmohan: That’s right madam, moose not available here. Local food inspector Kamal Nathji won’t allow. This is a replacement. Very exotic dish, you will like.
Palin: But I wanted moose! Anyway, what meat is this then?
Waiter Manmohan: Madam, this is lightly braised human foetus, freshly sourced from a tribe threatened by extinction.
Palin: My god! How dare you?
Waiter Manmohan: But I thought you will like, Madam. Haven’t you read Nilanjana Roy’s latest column?
Posted by Amit Varma on 27 September, 2008 in
IANS reports from Durban:
Three men were shot dead and two left injured after an argument between a group of Indian and white visitors to a bar here, allegedly over the size of genitals.
A worker at the bar, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, said a customer of Indian origin had remarked to a white customer while they were both at the urinal in the bar that his penis was bigger than that of the white customer.
“After both men returned to their friends, the two groups began swearing at each other before the group of five Indian men left the scene and all returned with firearms. They opened fire and three guys died on the spot.”
Now, this is one of those rare fights that is explicitly about penis size. But my contention is that all fights between men, in some way or the other, are about who has a bigger dick. No?
(Link via email from Gautam, who found it at Boing Boing.)
PS: Actually, this could be the hidden dynamic even when women are involved. This is how the debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden should really unfold:
Biden: Big enough for you!
Biden: You don’t even have one! Boo!
Palin: Smaller than even Obama’s, isn’t it? Confess now, didn’t you peek when you were standing besides him at the campaign urinal? Eh? Tell, tell, the nation is watching. Say ‘boo’ again!
Biden: Boo hoo. Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo.
Posted by Amit Varma on 13 September, 2008 in
Small thoughts |
Ranbir [Kapoor] and Deepika [Padukone] are not showing any interest in doing films together after seeing what happened to Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapur in all their films until their break-up. The two were seen together in films like Fida and 36 China Town before their break-up, but both the films bombed.
However their Jab We Met, which came after the two separated, was a huge success. Recently Kareena featured with her current boyfriend Saif Ali Khan in Tashan and that bombed too.
If the report is true—and with film journalism one must include that caveat—then this is one of the silliest instances of mistaking correlation for causation that I have come across. And I can just imagine what will happen if their films start flopping and they’re desperate for a hit.
Ranbir: Deepika, I think we need to break up.
Ranbir: Deepika, it’s because I’m a guy, and I’m bored now, and I want new chicas.
Deepika: What the fug??
Ranbir: Calm down, I’m joking. I love you and want to be with you, but I shall sacrifice my happiness for the sake of your career. You need a hit, and I know how to deliver one to you. Let’s break up, and then act in a film together. Remember Jab We Met?
Deepika: Good idea. Oh, you’re sho shweet, always caring for me!
Ranbir: That I am.
Posted by Amit Varma on 08 September, 2008 in
Arts and entertainment |
This is quite the headline of the day:
Russia’s PM saves TV crew from Siberian tiger.
This is where an image of Manmohan Singh wrestling with a peacock comes into my head. He’s trying to save a young schoolgirl from our national bird, and is on the ground trying to pin it down.
Schoolgirl: Manmohan uncle, Manmohan uncle, that peacock wasn’t harming me. Why are you fighting it?
Manmohan: Because I’m a man, that’s what I am. What did Soniaji mean by sending me a link to that ridiculous news piece about Putin? I can also fight. I am also macho. Hey, come back. Peacock! Come back!
(Link via email from Dhananjay.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 01 September, 2008 in
The quote of the day comes from a Welsh monk who has shifted to broadband from a dial-up connection:
Patience is one of the characteristics of monastic life, but even the patience of the Brothers was tested by our slow internet.
I suspect their patience would also be tested if ICICI Bank called them 600 times a day offering them a loan to buy a toaster, or suchlike. ‘I’m a monk,’ I can imagine one of them telling the call center guy, ‘I don’t need a toaster.’
‘Are you sure, sir?’ the reply comes. ‘It’s a zero-interest loan.’
‘Okay, what about a free credit card then? We’ll give free add-on cards to your family as well.’
(Link via email from Sanjeev.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 20 August, 2008 in
I’d like to humbly suggest a brief storyline to the fine creators of Savita Bhabhi:
It is a hot summer day. Savita Bhabhi is relaxing at home in a skimpy choli and petticoat, and no underwear. The doorbell rings. She opens the door and finds three stern-looking policemen.
“Yes, gentlemen,” she says. “How can I help you?”
“Er, we are from the moral police,” the chief inspector says. “We have come to warn you about your behaviour.”
“What behaviour?” says Savita Bhabhi.
“Your lewd and lascivious conduct,” says one policeman.
“You are corrupting the youth of our country,” says another.
“Sex is not in our culture,” says their chief. “We grow babies on lotus flowers.”
“Oh really,” says Savita Bhabhi. “Then I promise to behave. But why don’t you gentlemen come in and have some nimbu sharbat? It is a hot day, and all of you are sweating.”
Well, you know what happens next—it ends in, ahem, free expression. And here, via email from MadMan, is what inspired me to think of this storyline.
Also, Sanjeev points me to the line of the day, from the Savita Bhabhi website:
All the positions in the Savita Bhabhi team are voluntary and honarary.
Posted by Amit Varma on 08 June, 2008 in
Arts and entertainment |
The anecdote of the day comes from Lou Cannon:
In 1976, [Gerald] Ford had never run for office beyond his Grand Rapids congressional district; while an estimable human being and an underrated president, he was a plodding campaigner and often a dreadful public speaker. His speechwriters once tried to improve his delivery by writing the words “WITH EMPHASIS” in the margin of his text. Ford, denouncing something or other as “nonsense,” incorporated the notes into his speech and told a startled audience: “I say to you this is nonsense with emphasis!”
Meanwhile, it seems that Hillary Clinton has said that she is ready to be the VP candidate of a man she has constantly decried as being too inexperienced for the top job and not “ready on day one.” Heh. I can imagine the following scenario:
The bedside clock shows 3 am. Hillary Clinton’s phone rings. She picks it up.
Hillary: Hello. Who is this?
Obama’s voice: Hillary, hi, this is Barack. I hope I didn’t wake you up.
Hillary: No, of course not, Barack. Tell me, what is it?
Obama’s voice: Hillary, I have a question to ask you.
Hillary: I know what it is! Yes I will join you on your ticket! Together we will win! All the women will vote for me, I’m a woman! All white people will vote for me, I’m white! All Americans will vote for me, I’m entitled, I’m a Clinton! I even promise to keep Bill out of your wing in the White House, provided I have the budget to hire interns!
Obama’s voice: Er, actually, what I was going to ask was…
Obama’s voice: ... can you lend me your recipe book? I’m told you’re a really good cook.
Hillary shrieks, and then finds that Bill is shaking her as she lies on the floor, clutching the phone.
Bill: What happened, honey, did you have a bad dream? You must come to bed now, you’ve been lying besides the phone for hours, and you fell asleep like this.
Hillary: I know. Yes, I guess I had a bad dream. But I’ll stay awake now. I’m not leaving the phone.
Hillary: Because I’m not a quitter.
Posted by Amit Varma on 04 June, 2008 in
The Bollywood revelation of the day comes from Feroz Khan:
When the censor board lady objected to the two-minute kiss in Dayavan I asked her, ‘Haven’t you experienced this or else your husband is not a romantic man, ignoring a beautiful lady like you?’
Charming. (I wish he’d tried that line for a full-on sex scene.) I can imagine the censor board lady, presumably a 55-year-old housewife, going home and confronting her husband.
Censor board lady: You haven’t kissed me in 20 years now!
Husband: Eh? Where did that come from? It’s time for my tea.
Lady: You are not a romantic man!
Husband: Eh? Where did that come from? Can you repair the tear in my banyan please?
Lady: I am a beautiful lady and you are ignoring me!
Husband: Eh? Where did that come from? Didn’t I buy you a saree just three years ago?
Lady: That was three years ago.
Husband: Okay, I’ll buy you another saree then. And if you really want a kiss… [gets up to kiss]
Lady: Ugh. Coming to think of it, saree will do. Let’s go to Kala Niketan.
Posted by Amit Varma on 08 May, 2008 in
Arts and entertainment |
All you who sleep tonight
Far from the ones you love,
No hand to left or right
A coffin lid above -
Know that you aren’t alone
Many others share your fate,
You’re lucky you’ve already gone,
Or you’d have to wait.
My apologies to Vikram Seth, but I couldn’t resist being inspired after reading the WTF news of the day:
The mayor of a village in southwest France has threatened residents with severe punishment if they die, because there is no room left in the overcrowded cemetery to bury them.
In an ordinance posted in the council offices, Mayor Gerard Lalanne told the 260 residents of the village of Sarpourenx that “all persons not having a plot in the cemetery and wishing to be buried in Sarpourenx are forbidden from dying in the parish.”
It added: “Offenders will be severely punished.”
I’d love to be the cop responsible for punishing offenders.
Constable Varma, I haven’t seen you for a week, where have you been?
Sir, remember the old lady who popped it last Sunday? I went to the afterlife looking for her.
I see. And you bought an “I love Cannes” T-shirt over there?
(Link via email from Phani Vajapeyazula.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 07 March, 2008 in
Remember the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice? Well, Aadisht has an informative post on them, which informs us, to begin with, that the correct term for them is the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. Aadisht then shares glimpses of their history with us.
It turns out that they once banned pets in Saudi Arabia because they were considered a Western influence.
“One bad habit spreading among our youths is the acquisition of dogs and showing them off in the streets and malls,” wrote Aleetha al-Jihani in a letter to Al-Madina newspaper. “There’s no doubt that such a matter makes one shudder.”
“Then what’s the point of dragging a dog behind you?” he added. “This is blind emulation of the infidels.”
This is harmless, but not what they did in 2002, when they “stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress.” Fifteen girls died.
I can just imagine the following scene:
Eight members of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice are walking along the road. From the opposite side, a young man approaches. The young man is walking a dog. The dog is clad in a burqa.
The Committee goon stops him. “Hey boy,” he says. “How dare you walk a dog? Do you not know that is vice?”
The young man says: “I am not walking a dog, I am walking my sister. She is short. Being a good Saudi girl, she is all covered up. That is virtue.”
The Committee goons look at each other.
The young man continues: “Do you want me to prove it is my sister? I’ll have to remove her burqa for that?”
The Committee goon says, “Eh, no, no, no, continue. It’s okay. Have a good day.”
The young man moves on. The Committee goon’s sidekick looks at the Committee goon and says: “Did you hear his sister bark?”
Posted by Amit Varma on 17 February, 2008 in
A husband and wife are sitting in their living room, watching TV. Suddenly the husband gets up and starts looking for something.
Wife: What is it, love? What are you looking for?
Husband: My condoms, I need to find my condoms.
Wife: Uh, dear, actually I have a headache…
Husband: No baba, not for you. I need condoms for something else. I’m going out.
Wife: Going out where?
Husband: I’m going to a prostitute. I have a 8pm appointment for two hours of sex.
Wife: What? Prostitute? Sex? Dude, what the fug??
Husband: Relax sweety. You should be the last person to get angry. After all, you keep telling me that I should do something for charity. Well, this is it!
(Link via email from Devangshu Datta.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 29 November, 2007 in
The Russian government has access to some seriously good dope. CNN-IBN reports:
The governor of a central Russian province urged couples to skip work on Wednesday and make love instead.
And if a woman gives birth in exactly nine months time - on Russia’s national day on June 12 - she will qualify for a prize.
Or the couple could do it on the weekend and try for a premature delivery. Really, I wonder how enjoyable the sex is if it’s taking place because of an incentive offered by the state. I can imagine this conversation:
Woman: What is it darling, I’ll all naked, and your wee-wee is wee-wee?
Man: Sweetheart, it’s a problem today, I just can’t, um, get it up. Can we play scrabble instead?
Woman: I don’t believe this! This is disgraceful!
Man: Chess? Gilli-danda?
Woman: But why? (plaintively) Is it me?
Man: No sweetheart, you see, I’m a libertarian, and if the state tells me to do something…
(Link via email from Andy.)
Posted by Amit Varma on 12 September, 2007 in
Tabloid report of the day (click and scroll down):
A little birdie tells us that Smita Thackeray is a regular at the J W Marriott pool along with Rajveer Dutt, the hero of her film Kaisey Kahein. Apparently, she arrives with a battery of security men who stand around the pool as the duo splash about, making it incredibly uncomfortable for the other patrons.
And if that isn’t enough to grab everyone’s attention, Thackeray’s swimsuit certainly does. We hear it’s nothing short of a scuba diva suit and goes all the way to her ankles! Yikes!
I love the language these tabloid reporters use. But what if the Thackerays don’t get it? I can just imagine Balasaheb telling his goons to go and find the little birdie involved, and the goons looking up and scanning the sky in bewilderment.
Indeed, if all this happened in the delightful Sony serial, CID, Shivaji Satam would no doubt turn to his boys and say, “Fredericks, shahar mein jitne bhi birdie hai, un sab ko yahaan le aao.” And then Fredericks would go off, catch some nubile nymphet on the street, and say, “Kya aapne yaahan kisi birdie ko dekha hai?” And she would look nervous and say, “Nahin tho.” And then a “cheep-cheep” noise would come from her purse and that other tall CID fellow would bark at the nymphet, “Yeh aapke purse mein kya hai?”
Cut to the CID office, where Shivaji Satam, one eyebrow raised—indeed, attached to the ceiling by a transparent thread—is asking her: “Ms Nymphet, aapka birdie Smita Thackeray ka peechha kyun karta hai? Zaroor isme kuchh raaz chhipa hua hai.”
Yes, yes, I know—if the tabloids don’t drive you insane, television will.
Update: Shortly after putting up this post I was watching TV, and CID was on. This classic line came:
Yeh laash naqli hai.
Words escape me. I will follow.
Posted by Amit Varma on 10 August, 2007 in
Arts and entertainment |
Anthem is napping. The phone rings. (You know the ringtone.) He picks it up. It’s Flag.
Flag: Anthem, Anthem, wake up, guess what happened.
Anthem: Er, give up. What happened?
Flag: I was on her body. Her body, Anthem. Her body!
Anthem: Wait, hang on here, whose body? Someone has a body?
Flag: I was on Mandira Bedi’s body! She wore me on her saree during Extraaa Innings! On her saree!
Anthem: Happiness explodes! Which part of her saree? Were you on the palloo, draped around her, um, ah? And why do you sound so upset?
Flag: Upset? I’ve been insulted! Here, here’s what Cricinfo’s ball-by-ball commentary says:
11.40am We are told that there is a row brewing in India where people are angry because Mandira Bedi is sporting a saree that has different flags stitched on it ... and the Indian flag was near her feet and that is supposed to be an insult.
Anthem: That is monstrous. Sadness implodes! Uproar downloads!
Flag: Wait, ah, ooh, there is an update:
12.10pm Meanwhile, Mandira Bedi has changed her saree ...
Anthem: Ah, that’s okay then, for a moment I was worried about India. This would have damaged our country. Our nation might not have recovered from the blow.
Flag: I know. Back to the cricket now. Sigh.
Earlier: The Anthem and the Flag.
Posted by Amit Varma on 28 April, 2007 in
This is the 11th installment of my weekly column for Mint, Thinking it Through. It has its genesis in this post.
It was a hot April afternoon in Delhi. The Rashtrapati Bhavan Barista was empty. A waiter lounged by the counter, patriotically indulging in the national pastime (see 94th amendment) of doing nothing much. Then two customers walked in: National Anthem and National Flag.
“Sit,” said Flag to Anthem. “It looks like it’s been a tough month for you.”
Posted by Amit Varma on 26 April, 2007 in
Essays and Op-Eds |
Thinking it Through
Infosys Chief Mentor and Non-Executive Chairman NR Narayana Murthy landed in a mess on Tuesday after it was revealed that he may have unwittingly insulted the national anthem during a function at the company’s Mysore campus on April 8, where President APJ Abdul Kalam also took part.
It seems the anthem got up and walked off in a huff, and later called its friend, the flag, to whine about being insulted. “I hate being insulted like this,” it said. “You and I should emigrate and then, without us, the nation will have nothing to be proud of. Whaddya say?”
“Quite right,” said the flag. “I’m tired of this pole, in fact. You have no idea what nonsense it gets up to.”
Anyway, here’s a heated Ryze discussion on the subject. I think someone should just implant a chip in the brains of all these uber-patriots that plays the anthem 24/7. They’ll have to sleep standing up then.
(CNN-IBN link via email from reader Siddharth Chhikara. Ryze link via email from MadMan.)
Update: It seems that Sachin Tendulkar has committed “a crime under section 2 of the prevention of insult to national honour act of 1971.” He allegedly “cut a cake in the colours of the national flag during the Indian team’s stay in the West Indies last month.”
Do you think our “national honour”, whatever that is, can be endangered by the cutting of a cake? Pah!
Posted by Amit Varma on 11 April, 2007 in
Greg Chappell walks into his hotel room after a hard day’s play. To his immense surprise, there is a Bong bombshell on his bed, in an elegant tanter sari. She smiles at him, raises one eyebrow seductively, and lets her palloo drop.
Chappell: My goodness, what is this? Who are you?
Bombshell: Greg-da, I’m a huge fan of yours, and I’ve come to express my admiration for your sexy, ahem, coaching!
Chappell: Take off your sari immediately!
Bombshell: What, so fast? I thought you were into ‘process’ and all.
Posted by Amit Varma on 07 March, 2007 in
Imagine this: man enters crowded place. Man blows himself up. There is a flash of light. Man find he is still alive. Or wait! He is dead! But he is in the afterlife, and there are the gates of heaven!
Man goes to gate. Gate opens. God is standing there to greet him.
“Welcome, young martyr,” says God. “For fighting them infidels, you get to come to heaven. And you know what you’re here to do, don’t you?”
“Yes,” says Martyr. “I know. I was a loser on earth, but here I finally get some action. Bring me the 4000 virgins.”
“4000 virgins?” says God. “Ha ha ha. You got to be kidding me.”
Posted by Amit Varma on 03 March, 2007 in
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