My first novel, My Friend Sancho, is now on the stands across India. It is a contemporary love story set in Mumbai, and was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2008. To learn more about the book, click here.
The WTF sentence of the day comes from Inder Sidhu of Tehelka, who writes about the band Indian Ocean:
That one of the most original bands in the country has been working within the same musical framework for 30 years is, frankly, shocking.
How bizarre a sentiment is that? I’m guessing Sidhu doesn’t like the Rolling Stones or Metallica or U2 or REM either, all of whom are “working within the same musical framework” that they started out with. And in literature, for the same reason, he probably finds Updike and Roth and Kundera and Munro “shocking” as well. Poor guy. What does he listen to or read?
Sidhu does have one good sentence in his piece, though: “The fact is that original rock in India is still wandering around with its umbilical cord, trying to find some place to plug it in.” There’s a valid point behind this comment—but it’s not the whole story. (And it could have done without the first four words—leaving those in is sloppy editing—but that’s just me being anal.)
I love local city news. Mumbai Mirror has a couple of stories today with absolutely killer quotes. The first is about a dude named Nitin Bhende, who nabbed a man who used to steal shoes from his building. His chief motivation: to get back a beloved pair of Bata shoes that he had bought “for Rs 999 at a discounted rate - the original price was Rs 1300.“Here’s what the delightfully named police inspector, Maruti Rathod, has to say on the matter:
We have arrested Hussain and have recovered Bhende’s no 10 Bata shoes. Bhende was asking us to hand over the shoes to him directly, but we have asked him to approach a court and seek permission for doing so.
So Bhende’s got to wait for his shoes while government machinery creaks into action.
The other story is about a dude named Apoorva Chakravorty who claims that a pujari he fought with “has been manipulating my brain and spoiling my deals by visiting my house in the form of a pigeon or a crow.” He has even given pictures of these crows and pigeons in his house to the police, who “are utterly baffled about how to deal with this case.” In the face of police inaction, he has evoked the RTI. The following quote is from the state information commissioner, Suresh Joshi:
There is no logic to his assumption that someone is taking the form of a crow or pigeon and harassing him. It does not amount to a cognizable offence.
Maybe the cops should just go arrest the damn crow—and then see if they can get the pujari in the same room. Eh?
Posted by Amit Varma on 06 April, 2010 in
Shoaib’s brother-in-law Imran Zafar, who was shopping in Lahore for the wedding slated for April 15 in Hyderabad, said the family was unfazed by Ayesha’s claims. “Shoaib was duped and shown pictures of another girl as Ayesha. We have pictures of the girl who posed as Ayesha and which were sent from Ayesha’s email ID,’’ he said.
Imran said Shoaib had fallen madly in love with the girl whose pictures were sent to him. “But that girl was not Ayesha. Shoaib was trapped. Ayesha would tutor him online and have him parrot the line that they were married at select interviews,’’ the brother-in-law said.
Go figure. This dude claims that he fell in live with a girl, and wanted to marry her, on the basis of a photograph. And then the actual girl turned out to be someone else. The thing is, if you fall for a freakin’ photograph, the actual girl is always going to be someone else. Incredible WTFness.
As for the girl, she either married or wanted to get married to a guy she clearly didn’t know at all, and had perhaps never even met. Regardless of whose story is true, she doesn’t get my sympathy. She’s as much of an idiot as Shoaib is.
Indeed, their story illustrates why Nigerian scamsters are so successful. I wonder what Sania Mirza dreams about.
The headline makes it seem that the victim was killed for being gay. But on reading the piece, you’ll find that his sexual orientation had nothing to do with his death. He saw someone getting mugged, tried to help him, and got fatally wounded in the process. That’s all.
So why mention his being gay in the headline?
Imagine the following headline: ‘Left-handed teen stabbed in Lokhandwala.’ WTF, no?
ToI has a report on a Maharashtra minister beating up an “alleged party worker” in public. The minister in question is a gent named Abdul Sattar, who “engaged in verbal duel” with a chap named Mohammad Nisar. Then:
Food & civil supplies MoS Abdul Sattar kicked the alleged Congress worker Nisar in full public view. The minister’s bodyguards first assaulted Nisar and then the minister allegedly kicked him in the stomach. Mohammad Nisar has been admitted to hospital after allegedly being hit the abdomen by minister Abdul Sattar.
Sattar later denied knowing Nisar. He said:
I do not know the man either. He is not a Congress activist and I am going to lodge a police complaint against him.
That’s right—the kicker is going to lodge a complaint against the kickee. And it makes perfect sense, because the police is likely to act on behalf of whoever is more powerful, and that’s clearly Sattar. So what does it matter who did the kicking?
Posted by Amit Varma on 23 March, 2010 in
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!
My friend Rahul Bhatia has a fine story in Open about Dibakar Banerjee’s experience with the censor board during the evaluation of Love, Sex aur Dhokha. Not that there’s anything new about censorship in India, but Dibakar wanted an ‘A’ certificate for his film, and still had to make cuts and compromises. Why do adults need to be protected from sex and bad language? How effing condescending is that? Disgraceful.
Thank goodness I’ve chosen to be a novelist. Imagine if a committee had told me to cut the orgasm from MFS.
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?
According to the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) one married man commits suicide every nine minutes in India.
That sentence makes it sound as if marriage is the cause of these suicides, which is surely unjust to the 57,639 wives whose husbands offed themselves. Causation is often complex and not easy to pin down when it comes to suicide, and the following sentence would make quite as much sense: “According to Cricinfo, 13 married men have made scores of 250+ in Test cricket in the last 10 years.” Huh, no?
Given that life is a fatal disease, it’s not unnatural for some of us to want to get it over with quickly. Marriage, like most of what we seek in life, is a palliative. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it can’t cure nothin’, and it ain’t the cause.
Heard about the recent furore over the garland of thousand-rupee notes that was presented to her Royal Majesty, Mayawati, by her party workers? One of her cronies has now come out and said that the media reports got it all wrong, and the value of the garland was “only Rs.21 lakh,” and not the Rs 5 crore that some people reported. (The rally at which it was presented reportedly cost Rs 200 crore, though the crony denied that figure as well.) Since then, the IT department has ordered a probe into Mayawati’s funds, while Her Highness has gotten herself another garland of notes. (Only Rs 18 lakh this time.)
Now, really, as long as it isn’t our taxes being spent, this should not bother me. But this kind of behaviour demonstrates, yet again, how our politicians believe that they are our rulers, and not our servants. This seems to be an attitude shared by most voters as well. Sure, many of them don’t like Mayawati, and would rather have a tribal leader of their choice on the throne, but you get what I’m saying.
Also, I have to say that a garland of currency notes is more honest and apt for the times we live in than one of dead flowers. Such it goes.
The government has banned Fashion TV for nine days after finding a program it aired offended good taste and decency by showing women partially nude.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry statement said FTV channel would go off the air later Thursday until March 21. The statement cited an unnamed FTV program aired in September that showed women with nude upper bodies.
It’s immensely WTF that someone should think that topless women offend “good taste and decency.” Women have breasts. Straight men are attracted to them. These are just ho-hum facts of biology. Only massively repressed and resentful men and women would find partial nudity offensive—and one factor in their repression, certainly, would be this attitude against anything sexual. It’s a self-reinforcing feedback loop—the more you repress, the more repressed they get, the more you find reason to repress them further. In the 21st century, its all a bit bizarre.
What is even weirder is that the continuing spread of the internet threatens to make all this moot. Far wilder things than mere toplessness are a Google search away, and its practically impossible to filter all of that out. And why would you want to do that anyway? Sex is healthy, so let’s be open about it, and not whisper while talking about it or blush when the subject comes up. Or censor boobs.
This sentence says so much about the level of parliamentary debate in India today:
Finally, marshals were called in to remove the unruly MPs.
Who elected these dudes and put them in parliament? We did. I would hang my head in shame if that didn’t mean I’d be staring at my paunch.
I have mixed feelings on the larger issue of women’s reservation. If I was a woman, I’d find it offensive. Implying that women can’t rise in politics on their own is terribly condescending, especially when so many counter-examples exist—strong women like Uma Bharti, Sushma Swaraj, Renuka Chowdhury and, um, Pratibha Patil. (And Sonia Gandhi, who may be at the top because of her last name, but then, so are so many male politicians.)
Also, it implies that there are fewer women MPs because women are discriminated against by political parties. I’m sure there is some discrimination, but it is not the sole factor. My hunch is that people enter politics because of their lust for power, and that men are biologically programmed to seek power actively, while women aren’t—at least not to the same extent. Thus, there are fewer women who seek validation in how much control they have over other people, and fewer women who are attracted to politics. (In saying this, by the way, I am dissing men and complimenting women, though Renuka Chowdhury, on an episode of We The People where I stated this opinion, attacked me because she thought I was disrespecting women. Quite the opposite.)
Having said that, I think the bill may have some positive unintended consequences. At the very least, parliamentary decorum is likely to improve, and MPs are likely to behave with somewhat more dignity. There might even be fewer instances of marshalls being called in to control unruly MPs. Who can complain about that?
Semen is not only nutritious, but it also has a wonderful texture and amazing cooking properties. Like fine wine and cheeses, the taste of semen is complex and dynamic. Semen is inexpensive to produce and is commonly available in many, if not most, homes and restaurants. Despite all of these positive qualities, semen remains neglected as a food.
Deepthi thought I might find this WTF, but having never tasted semen, that is clearly a matter I can’t comment on. It might be an acquired taste for many straight women and gay men, and I certainly wouldn’t want to pass judgement on that. Also, if this turns out to be a semenal moment in culinary history and semen becomes a popular ingredient, it might prove to be a valuable diversion for young men’s energies, and crime rates might dip. The positive externalities of wanking, and all that. The possibilities are endless.
Before you sully your mind by thinking of jokes related to semen cuisine, let me get this out of the way. Man sits at home by his phone, tapping his fingers, getting really angry. Finally he picks up the phone and pressed ‘redial’. The phone rings, and someone picks it up.
‘Hello, this is Urban Tadka, how may I help you?’
‘Dude, I ordered a semen biriyani from your restaurant one hour ago. It’s still not here. How long will it take?’
‘Not very long, sir,’ the guy at the other end says. ‘I’m just coming.’
Note the exclamation mark. But no, it’s not the enthusiastic reporting of Sherlyn’s increased hotness that makes this headline WTF, but the metric used to measure it. She is hotter, it seems, because her “new management agency is pitching her as the face of the cover for the most read and most popular lifestyle, fashion and health magazines.” In other words, she is hotter because she has better PR.
I suppose given the state of our media, that makes some kind of perverse sense. Such it goes.
The WTF Q&A of the day comes from a WSJ interview of Sonia Dara, the first model of South Asian descent to make it to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue:
WSJ: During your shoot in Rajasthan, you posed with some local women who cover their heads, as is local tradition. Did you feel it made them uncomfortable to pose with you in a bikini?
Dara: To be completely honest, I was the one who felt the most uneasy because I thought I was putting the women in a potentially uncomfortable situation. At first glance, the concept of a Hindu girl in Sports Illustrated might seem contradictory. With that in mind, I posed as elegantly as possible, in order to never undermine my Hindu upbringing. I really hope this is made clear in my photos.
Yes, it’s clear. Her pout is Vedic, and her slim figure is surely the result of righteous fasting. Happy now, foreigners?
And really, who finds such slimness attractive? At best I’d imagine it’s a niche taste. If I was ever to spend quality time with someone so slim, I’d want to feed her, not do naughty-naughty. This is one fad that totally befuddles me.
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.’
A Human Rights Watch study found there is a “cover-up of the true extent” of deaths from heat exhaustion, overwork and suicide, but the Indian consulate registered 971 deaths of their nationals in 2005 alone. After this figure was leaked, the consulates were told to stop counting.
Ruchir’s questions: What has the Indian government done about this? What has the media done about this? These figures, after all, are greater than those coming out of Australia.
The woman confessed that she had sexual intercourse with her fiancé and that she had alcohol. We cannot just ignore such an offence.
The woman is question is a British tourist who complained on New Year’s Day that she had been raped by a waiter the previous evening. The cops “arrested her after she revealed during questioning that she had drunk alcohol and had sex with her fiancé, with whom she was on holiday.”
As for the waiter, he’s presumably still on the loose, still waiting.
Reader Mani Shankar writes in to point me to a post by Vir Sanghvi in which he hits out at people “who blog and tweet”. I have three things to say about it:
1] Sanghvi criticises bloggers and blogging… in a blog post. Is there not a little bit of dissonance there? If he is blogging, he is a blogger. And yet, his criticism doesn’t seem directed at himself.
2] He attacks a straw man and generalises madly. He’s upset because some bloggers “complain that the media are only interested in circulation and viewership (or TRPs)”. (He doesn’t link to any of them.) He finds this criticism invalid, so he generalises about how bloggers “regard themselves as an elite.” Which bloggers? All bloggers? Me also? Him also?
This is as silly as my attacking the writing skills of Indian journalists because some journalists mix metaphors. It would be fallacious of me to generalise in that manner, and far more productive for me to link to a specific journalist whose writing falls in that category—as I did a few days ago with poor Bobilli. Should I have generalised about Indian journalism on the basis of Bobilli’s writing?
3] Finally, when people (bloggers or otherwise) criticise the media for chasing TRPs, they are effectively criticising them for catering to the lowest common denominator. Sanghvi attacks them for feeling this way, and calls them an elite. But hey, wait a second, what about when journalists criticize politicians for the exact same thing? As when Sanghvi himself writes:
If we are led by the lowest common denominator then that is where we will remain in the community of nations: at the lowest level, without any hope of catching up with the rest of the world.
The “elite bloggers” Sanghvi mocks presumably hold the same sentiment about our media. Can Sanghvi not take his own medicine?
There’s another response on Sanghvi’s post over at Retributions. I think this is by one of those “pseudonymous bloggers” Sanghvi is so upset about. Heh.Correction: The post is by Rohit Pradhan, who’s not been pseudonymous for a while now, I’m told.
Just when you think the ultimate has happened, the absolute worst, something even more dire, comes along.
And yet. No matter how overwhelming the tragedy, how bleak the outlook, no matter what malevolent forces the fates see fit to hurl at this tiny, beleaguered, mountainous, sun-splashed portion of the planet, there is no quit in the Haitian people.
They rose up against the French and defeated the forces of Napoleon to become the only nation to grow out of a slave revolt. They rose up against the despotic Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier and sent him packing. Despite ruthless exploitation by more powerful nations, including the United States, and many long years of crippling civil strife, corruption, terror and chronic poverty, the Haitian people have endured.
They will not be defeated by this earthquake.
The overwrought prose and dubious insight here is more suited to a schoolboy’s essay than an NYT column. No quit in the Haitian people? That sounds just like the patronising remarks about Mumbai’s ‘resilience’ after each terrorist attack that we go through. Mumbaikars went to work on 27/11 not because they were resilient or especially brave but because they had no choice. They continued commuting in trains after the train blasts of 2006 because of the same reason. From outside it might look brave, but here, we see it as just getting on with our lives. Is there an option?
The people of Haiti, I’d imagine, are like people everywhere else—they make do with what there is, and respond to circumstances as they arise. That is a human quality, not a Haitian one. There is no quit across the world.
When he was 22, he [Brown] won an “America’s Sexiest Man” contest, the prize for which was $1,000 and a chance to pose naked in a Cosmopolitan magazine centerfold. One of his daughters — this is perhaps the best-known factoid in the campaign — came in somewhere between 13th and 16th on “American Idol.”
“For our family, especially me being on ‘Idol’ but my dad being in politics, there are always so many people who have something negative to say,” Ayla Brown told The Boston Herald this week. Her talent was singing, not sentence construction.
Now, how crass is that last sentence? When she’s writing about politics in these polarised times, one can expect her to get snarky and personal about the candidate from the party she opposes. But his daughter? I can imagine a tabloid going there, but an NYT columnist should surely consider it out of bounds.
I wonder, if Herbert and Collins left the awesome platform of the NYT and started independent blogs, how many readers would they have? That would be the real test, and I’m sure they’d be resilient if it went wrong.
The WTF statement of the day is the warning given by Chandra Shekhar, a politician in Bhopal, to local shopkeepers:
Your mannequins should wear sarees, not underwear. From now on, keep all undergarments inside. Show it to the customer when he or she asks for it. Five days from now if undergarments are still hanging outside, we will light a bonfire of the lingerie.
Yes, the culture police is protesting against the public display of lingerie now. In a country in which there are so many serious issues to tackle, this is getting surreal. But why, it must be asked, are they doing this? Is there actually a constituency that approves of this kind of behaviour?
My answer: Yes, there is. We are a country that contains around half-a-billion sexually repressed men. Many of these dudes, who don’t get the kind of action they desire, resent anything that reminds them of this. Like lingerie on mannequins. Like advertisements for coffee-flavoured condoms (another target of these thugs). Like the ubiquitous bogeyman of ‘Western Culture.’
And where there is widespread resentment, there will be a political party tapping into it. Such it goes.
In a significant ruling, a three-judge bench of the Bombay high court has held that in India criticism of any religion is permissible under the fundamental right of freedom of speech, be it Islam, Hinduism, Christianity or any other religion, and a book cannot be banned for that reason alone. But the criticism must be bona fide or academic, said the court as it upheld a ban issued in 2007 by the Maharashtra government on a book titled Islam—A Concept of Political World Invasion by Muslims.
Aah, that first line sounds so nice, gives so much hope. And then the second one makes it meaningless. Why should only “bona fide or academic” criticism be allowed? Who decides if a particular critique is “bona fide or academic”? The judges there paid lip service to free speech—and in the very next sentence, added caveats that took the ‘free’ out of it.
It could be argued, of course, that the bench merely followed a precedent already set by the framers of our constitution. They too, in Article 19 (1) (a), paid lip service to free speech. And in article 19 (2), allowed restraints on it on grounds such as “public order” and “decency and morality” that are open to interpretation, and make it easy for those in power to stifle free expression. Such it goes.
He should totally follow this up with “Twitter Anthem”. And Tom Vadakan should should do a rap in the middle of that which goes, “Tweet is a lonely man, yo, Tweet is a lonely man. But I won’t feel bitter, cuz I’m not a quitter, I’ll put on my glitter, and get my ass on Twitter, yo, cuz Tweet is a lonely man, yo, Tweet is a lonely man.”
My friends waved at me from the buffet counter not knowing what the human sperms did to me during those fifteen minutes.
This is Sherlyn Chopra writing about… well, I really can’t summarize on a family blog such as this what she is writing about. Read it for yourself.
Her post also contains the magnificent line, ‘A tall white hunk dressed in a black suit walked up to me.’ But just when you think this is like some nice, romantic Yashraj film, there’s a touch of Bunuel. Masterful.
That said, I have more respect for Sherlyn Chopra’s writing skills than Bobilli Vijay Kumar’s. This is the man who once wrote, as my friend Prem Panicker pointed out, that Raj Singh Dungarpur is the ‘uncrowned grandfather of Indian cricket’. Week after week, he writes columns that mangle metaphors, torture idioms, and in general try too hard to show his mastery of the language. But just when you thought you’d seen it all, he comes up with this gem:
Tiger Woods is finally realising that life is not always a bed of roses. He has slept in so many, anyway, that he would have known that a prickly one was just a birdie away.
However, even in his wildest dreams (and as we know now he does have wild dreams, even if you don’t count kinky sex or foursomes), he wouldn’t have expected that he would end paying such a heavy price. Will he really need to put away his club to save the marriage?
Tiger is, of course, not the first person to fish in muddied waters; nor will he be the last high-profile athlete to play the field so well. The only reason he has become the butt of all jokes is because, ironically, he is Tiger Woods.
Mind you, this is the sports editor of the Times of India writing. When his reporters write like this, he probably pats them on the back proudly instead of making them stand in a murga pose outside the ToI office for six hours, which is the only apt punishment.
I don’t get it. For the rule of law to mean anything, surely the law must take its course. Even you, as the home minister, cannot be above the constitution. How then can you justify this move?
I’m not even getting into the bad precedent set by your succumbing to blackmail and gundagardi. Already the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha has announced “an indefinite hunger strike.” Who knows where this will end?
That’s right: it’s been discovered that 22,800 of the 127,094 employees on the rolls of the municipal corporation of Delhi do not exist. These non-existent employees get a salary of Rs 17 crore per month. Guess who pays their salary.
There’s an ecosystem of ghosts out there that you and I are funding. At night, while the city sleeps, they get to work. They deliver mail that was never sent, sweep streets that were never paved, file applications that will never be read. When morning comes they’re gone, giving way to a government that is not much better.
(For more on how our government loots us, click here.)
Via @saba_imtiaz, here’s a speech that’s surely going to become a YouTube classic: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari giving a speech to (presumably) his party workers in accented Urdu:
At the end of his speech, he’s like Rohit Verma and Vindu Dara Singh from Bigg Boss combined: Rohit’s hysteria, Vindu’s raw aggro. My advice to young Bilawal: try decaf. He sounds like he had 17 risterttos before breakfast, no?
Posted by Amit Varma on 19 November, 2009 in
It is a subject that would make most governments blush, but officials in the Spanish region of Extremadura have launched a major programme to encourage what could be described as a more hands-on approach to sexuality.
The region’s socialist government has launched a €14,000 (£12,600) campaign aimed at teaching young people how best to set about “sexual self-exploration and the discovery of self-pleasure” – or to put it less delicately: masturbation.
“Pleasure is in your own hands” is the slogan of a campaign that has sparked political controversy and challenges traditional Roman Catholic views on people having sex, even on their own, for non-reproductive reasons.
The logical next step, of course, is to give licenses for masturbation to those who trained by the government in it, and arrest anyone found masturbating without that license. Indeed, there could be masturbation inspectors authorised to peek into bathrooms and suchlike to catch offenders, with the aid of government-installed cameras. For those of a certain orientation, the act of watching potential offenders could itself lead to the offence being committed.
But leave aside the satire. We can all express outrage at taxpayers’ money being spent like this, and go WTF at the thought of the government getting involved in such a private act—but consider for a moment the principle behind our going WTF: that the government has no business bothering about what we do with ourselves. Our own government might not attempt to teach us how to masturbate—but it interferes in our private lives in hazaar different ways that we accept and take for granted. It punishes various victimless crimes, and even treats attempted suicide as a crime, which is silly if you accept the right to self-ownership. It treats us as subjects, not as citizens—and in countless different ways, is no less outrageous than the regional government in Spain that teaches wanking.
So why is that WTF and not this?
Okay, so if the Indian government was actually to start a Ministry of Masturbation, who would be the first masturbation minister?
I am not a fan of Ayn Rand’s work: Her prose is mediocre and her novels are cheesy. Even though I agree with many of her beliefs, that is neither here nor there, as they weren’t original to her, and the brand of classical liberalism (or minarchist libertarianism) I believe in took off at least a century earlier than her. So I am never quick to defend Rand when she is being criticized. I’ll make an exception, though, for a recent piece on her in The New York Times by Adam Kirsch.
In his piece, a review of a biography by Anne C Heller, Kirsch relates how Bennett Cerf, the head of Random House, wanted to edit out Galt’s speech from Atlas Shrugged. Rand refused. Then:
Cerf offered Rand an alternative: if she gave up 7 cents per copy in royalties, she could have the extra paper needed to print Galt’s oration. That she agreed is a sign of the great contradiction that haunts her writing and especially her life. Politically, Rand was committed to the idea that capitalism is the best form of social organization invented or conceivable. [...]
Yet while Rand took to wearing a dollar-sign pin to advertise her love of capitalism, Heller makes clear that the author had no real affection for dollars themselves. Giving up her royalties to preserve her vision is something that no genuine capitalist, and few popular novelists, would have done. It is the act of an intellectual, of someone who believes that ideas matter more than lucre.
This is a strange comment, and I have two points to make:
One: Rand might well have agreed to the chop on commercial considerations alone. She might have calculated that the book would sell more copies if it included the speech, and that the extra royalties from those extra sales might offset the 7 cents per copy that she gave up.
Two: “Genuine capitalists” would look to serving their self interest as much as possible. But they need not view this in purely monetary terms. Rand might have placed a higher value on spreading her ideas in the world than on merely making money. It would then be entirely rational for her to accept a notional monetary loss for the sake of keeping a speech that many of her supporters today regard very highly. This is entirely consistent with being a capitalist.
The deal between Rand and Cerf was one between two private parties that involved no coercion. Both of them got what they wanted. It might even have ended in a double ‘thank you’ moment. How on earth could it non-capitalistic?
On a personal note, I regard myself as a capitalist as well. And pretty much all the important decisions I’ve made in the last few years have reduced my income vastly. First, I opted to give up a senior job in journalism to become a freelancer; and then, I opted to give up freelancing to focus on writing novels. In the short run, this has decimated my bank balance. And yet, I have no regrets over these decisions—and they are not noble in any way. They arise out of sheer self-interest. I’m a greedy capitalist pig.
But Heller and Kirsch would probably think otherwise.
It seems that Elesh Parujanwala, the ‘winner’ of Rakhi Ka Swayamwar, is “deeply hurt and angered” by the things his supposed fiance, Rakhi Sawant, has been saying about him. Among other things, he feels her comments about him not being rich enough were “stupid and unnecessary”. Quite.
In other news, we are told that nine female inmates of the Bhopal Central Jail have applied to take part in Rahul Dulhania Le Jaayega. Amazingly, 16746 other women are also keen to marry Rahul Mahajan. WTF indeed.
To all these ladies, I’d like to offer the advice Elesh should have gotten before he embarked on his adventure: Don’t. Crib. Later.
Three men holding key positions in one of India’s biggest private sector companies were on their way to a party at their boss’s swanky Cuffe Parade home, when driver Goverdhan Vaidya, who is in his mid fifties, suffered a cardiac arrest.
The men asked him to stop the car, which was at Cooperage, helped him out and sat him down on the pavement.
Then, they got back in the car and drove off to the party, leaving a breathless Vaidya holding his chest in excruciating pain.
Luckily, a passerby took Vaidya to hospital and he was saved. But here’s my question: nowhere in Mid Day’s article are the names of the three men in the car mentioned, or of the company they work for. Why?
And while we’re at it, why not extend the participation of the dead and have a Bigg Boss season just for dead people? Instead of an eviction every week, you could have an exorcism. And ya, as a wild card, we could still have Kamal R Khan in there. If the spirits are as snobbish as some of the current BB participants, they’ll probably just look straight through him.
Posted by Amit Varma on 14 October, 2009 in
Remember my recent post about how cops in Delhi argued over jurisdiction while a woman was being gang-raped? How do you satirize something like that? Here’s one way: You have a man walk into a police station and confess to murdering his wife—only to be turned away by the police, and directed to go to another police station, because the scene of the crime does not come under their jurisdiction.
Reuters has a story on how a zoo in Gaza painted black stripes on a couple of white donkeys and passed them off as zebras. The kids who came to the zoo were reportedly delighted. The other donkeys no doubt went WTF.
And the thought that struck me as I read this news: What a delightful metaphor for media hype.
HT reports that the I&B ministry has just given the go-ahead to the producers of a film called The Indian Summer to shoot in India. However, after going through the script, it wants four scenes deleted from the film—these show “a kiss between Nehru and Edwina; a dancing scene; one where Nehru says ‘I Love You’; and a scene showing them in bed.”
Normally, when two people have an affair, there is kissing, there are confessions of love (or lust), and there is carnal action. I don’t see the point of pussyfooting around all this—an affair without these would not be an affair, so why should a film about an affair have to avoid these?
The government also insists that the film carry a disclaimer that it is a work of fiction. Why not keep those scenes then?
The ministry says it is doing this because it doesn’t want anyone to “show Nehru in a poor light.” That is bizarre: I don’t think his alleged affair with Edwina shows him in a poor light—the guy was human, after all. (Most Indian men would probably think more highly of him because he scored with a white chick, but leave that aside.)
And even if it did show Nehru in a poor light, so what?
Anyway, as revenge on the Indian government for this preemptive censorship, I suggest that the producers get Salman Khan to play Nehru, and have him sing a Himesh song as Edwina runs around a tree. That will show them.
A philanderer of 22, appellant Phul Singh, overpowered by sex stress in excess, hoisted himself into his cousin’s house next door, and in broad day-light, overpowered the temptingly lonely prosecutrix of twenty four, Pushpa, raped her in hurried heat and made an urgent exit having fulfilled his erotic sortie.
A hyper-sexed homo sapiens cannot be habilitated by humiliating or harsh treatment, but that is precisely the perversion of unreformed Jail Justice which some criminologists have described as the crime of punishment.
It may be marginally extenuatory to mention that modern Indian conditions are drifting into societal permissiveness on the carnal front promoting proneness to pornos in life, what with libidinous ‘brahmacharis’, womanising public men, lascivious dating and mating by unwed students, sex explosion in celluloid and book stalls and corrupt morals reaching a new ‘high’ in high places. The unconvicted deviants in society are demoralisingly large and the State has, as yet, no convincing national policy on female flesh and sex sanity. We hope, at this belated hour, the Central Government will defend Indian Womanhood by stamping out voluptuous meat markets by merciless criminal action.
The gentleman who wrote this is Justice Krishna Iyer. One can only assume that he proposed to his wife in some other language. Or maybe he spoke like this, and she went, Enough, enough, I’ll marry you, but please don’t go on and on in English. You libidinous brahmachari, you!
The larger issue here is why Justice Iyer waxed so purplacious. I blame colonialism. Even after the Brits left, English remained a marker of class in India. The better your English, the more highly you were regarded (even by yourself). This led to a tendency of showing off how fluent you were in the language, and from there, to this kind of overkill. For Justice Iyer, the language he used was as much a signal as a tool: It signalled his sophistication and his class. Or so the poor fellow thought.
I believe this is also partly responsible for why style overwhelms content in so much Indian writing in English. As kids, we’re too used to parents and teachers and peers telling us, Wow, this is so well-written, your English is so good. (As opposed to Wow, your narrative was compelling, I lost myself in the story, I couldn’t put it down.) So they end up giving more importance to the language they use rather than the narrative they’re building, while the former should really be slave to the latter. Pity.
And we also see this a lot in our local trains. Two random people will be arguing over something, and then one of them will break into bad English, as if to say, I"m superior to you, I know English. You lout! And then the other guy will say something to the effect of Hey, I know English too. Only you can speak or what? Bastard! And so on.
I’d like to see Justice Iyer get into one those local train fights, actually…
I’ve often made the point that parenthood is a massive responsibility, and way too many people become parents before they’re ready for it. Well, here are a few things that validate that belief:
Exhibit one: A Shiv Sainik named Kailash Patil had named his kids Uddhav and Raj after the now-warring Thackerays. Well, Patil is now pissed at the party because they denied a ticket to the candidate he supported. So is is renaming his son Uddhav to Anand. Who knows, if he later ends up in the Congress, he might change Anand’s name to Rahul. Imagine what all this does to the poor kid.
Exhibit two: An Australian baby of Indian origin gets eczema. Her dad, Thomas Sam, happens to be “a college lecturer in homoeopathy.” No doubt driven by hubris and dogma, he insists on treating her with homeopathy alone. Her condition becomes worse, and turns into a “severe skin disorder.” Her father refuses to change course. The girl dies. The parents are arrested—and I recommend that instead of getting a lawyer for themselves, they take Phos1M or Arsenic Iod. Anyway, what’s the point of my sarcasm now? The kid is dead.
Exhibit three: I’ve blogged about this before, but today was the first episode of Pati, Patni aur Woh, so I was reminded of it. What kind of parents would rent their babies out to a television channel? How can they live with themselves after doing that? What will their kids feel about it when they grow older? I’m baffled. Normally I’m a sucker for reality shows—but this one’s just a bit too bizarre.