I Went To Iraq And All I Got Was Arrested

You’d think that there’s nothing funny about ISIS and you’d be right. ISIS is a cancer feeding off a militant belief in a fairytale and is as joke-friendly as cancer can be. But even so, there’s something to be said about a group that the Al-Qaeda formally dissociated with almost a year ago on the grounds that they were too batshit insane. And let’s be honest – cancer is kinda funny when it happens to a**holes.

Take, for example, the 24-year-old Mehdi Masroor Biswas, the Bangalore-based engineer who was arrested this week for running @ShamiWitness, described as one of the most influential ISIS propaganda accounts in the world. His tweets, seen over two million times, exhorted jihadists from all over to give up their lives and move to Iraq to fight for ISIS. All this while he sat around in a comfy MNC, sipping on Starbucks and fantasising about that one useless but hot chick in HR who exists in every office.

I cannot think of something more Indian than that level of laziness. It must take a spectacular sense of entitlement to have the following Twitter conversation:

@ShamiWitness: 

Go to Iraq and fight, young soldier! Screw logic! Logic is Satan’s roofie!

@IdiotJihadist:

YEAHHH! DEATH TO KUFFARS! \m/

@ShamiWitness:

Go get ‘em!

@IdiotJihadist:

I’LL SEE YOU ON THE BATTLEFIELD BROTHER!!!

@ShamiWitness:

Uhh, actually I’m just going to hang here.

@IdiotJihadist:

Wut.

@ShamiWitness:

Sorry yaa, I signed up for Bangalore marathon. And new Modern Family episode after that. And then office dinner at TGI Friday, so can’t ditch for obvious reasons.

@IdiotJihadist:

????

@ShamiWitness:

But you have a fun death! :D :D #kthxbai

Mehdi apparently said that he would’ve gone to Iraq, if not for his family who were financially dependent on him. It’s sweet that he protected them by staying put and serving as a Naukri.com-meets-Shiv Khera for terrorists. I’m sure there was a point at which he even packed his bags for Iraq, but gave up after he realised that Banglore airport was six light years away from Bangalore city.

If ISIS wants a good online presence, it shouldn’t be looking at India. Most Indian brand managers look at social media the same way toddlers looks at laptops – it’s new and shiny and they really want to use it, but you know they’re probably just going to poop all over it. I can picture this guy saying things like, “If this tweet gets 10000 RTs, God will ban alcohol and schools.” And don’t even get me started on #Qurfies.

On the bright side, as a journalist friend pointed out, techies getting arrested for terror is a boon for parents’ views on liberal arts. It makes sense. If you want to study arts but your parents insist on engineering, tell them that you’d be recruit-proof as a philosophy major. (Also, salary-proof, but that’s a different story. ) Seriously, why would ISIS need you? What can you do – bludgeon the enemy with your 1500-page thesis on The Nihilism In Nietzsche’s Nipples?

Another bit of hilarity came from Areeb Majeed, the 23-year-old from Kalyan – one of four friends – who’d sneaked off to Iraq to cut people’s heads off, thus proving that Indians will go anywhere for foreign placement. Just how rubbish is Kalyan that Iraq seems like a better option?

Majeed returned this month, complaining about the fact that he was made to clean toilets there. I, for one, am shocked to know that a bunch of Arabs would make an Indian carry out menial tasks for no pay. But I get his indignance. I totally do. Beheadings, bombings and general psychotic behaviour is okay, but you can’t just ask an Indian guy to do some chores. He’s not used to it. No matter how poor they are, Indian men are used to always having a servant around. She’s called Mom.

Another one of Majeed’s friends is on his way back, maybe because he didn’t get to sleep with the goat that he fancied. Just like Majeed, he’ll be arrested as soon as he lands. So without meaning to, these guys actually did end up cleaning some shit off our streets.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 14th Dec 2014.)

I Predict That You Will Read This Title

I hereby announce that I am incredibly proud to be an Indian. Like a Bombay gutter in the monsoon, my pores are overflowing with desi ghee as I type this with my long, straight fingers that coincidentally look like an ‘I’, which stands for ‘India: The Birthplace of the Universe And All Good Things In It, Except Biryani Which Is Invader Food’. I’m just seconds away from spraying on my signature scent – Eau De Chicken Tikka Masala – and being chased down the street by nubile Indian belles who want to tie me a rakhi because culture is best bro.

I wasn’t always like this, but I’ve seen the light thanks to right-wing visionaries whom I didn’t even vote for. I guess that’s the beauty of democracy. Even if I voted against them, I can reap the benefits of being ruled by people like former Uttarakhand CM and BJP MP, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, who claimed in the Lok Sabha this week that an Indian sage had conducted nuclear tests in the 2nd century BC. He also said that astrology was the topmost science, and that regular science – y’know, with all its stupid experiments and proofs and logic – was a pygmy compared to astrology.

See, that’s the kind of glory that causes my chakras to swell up with joy. Gone are the days when India was only known for giving white people hernias with the Kama Sutra. The world will now worship us as the people who made the first nukes – even before the atom had been discovered – and they will bow before our might. Or they would, if we could locate those old nuke designs. I don’t know what happened to them. Maybe they were stolen by ancient terrorists who, as we all know, were invented by Pakistan.

Nishank was also of the opinion that there must be a proper discussion on astrology in the Lok Sabha, which makes sense because most of our politicians were alive when the planets were formed. Now a lot of you might dismiss astrology as a frivolous, non-science, but it is much more than that. It’s also hugely profitable. It provides employment to hundreds of thousands of wastrels across the country, way more than any silly IIT.

Astrology saves people from the rigours of having to go out and earn an honest living. People may refer to astrologers as hacks, often comparing them to other charlatans like aura-readers or investment bankers. But astrology takes serious skill. You have to train really hard to keep a straight face and not say “LOL dumbass” while accepting a client’s money.

In case you’re still sceptical, let me show you how my predictions this week changed my life. My zodiac sign is Aries, as is Robert Downey Jr.’s, so yeah, I’m basically Iron Man. Here are actual predictions India’s top astrologers made about me today:

“You will desire absolute freedom in whatever you do today.

Holy pigballs! How did they know?! Yes, this is true. I desire absolute freedom in what I do today, but only today. On every other day, I want to be bound, gagged and slapped around like Rajpal Yadav in a Priyadarshan movie. Also, the genius of this prediction is that it applied to most Indians before 1947, and also to every teenager ever. And speaking of teenagers…

“A lot of entertainment is on the cards for teenagers, like window shopping or going for a movie.”

If by “window shopping or going for a movie” you meant “taking pictures of their junk”, then yes, this prediction works too.

“You shall be eager to complete all your assignments well in time.”

(NOTE FROM ASHISH’S EDITOR: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Seriously, screw this guy. He’s like the Air India of freelance writers.)

“Those in strained relationships shall be able to find a solution, but for that to work you shall have to keep a cool head.”

Now I’m glad I got this information. It’s something I would never have figured out otherwise. But I wish I’d read it sooner, because now there’s a rapidly-spreading blood stain on my carpet and I don’t know what to do. Dammit. This wouldn’t have been a problem if I were a godman.

Once again, I’d like to thank all those who, with their informed decisions, made this current state of affairs possible. And if you’re still sitting on the fence then get down because that sounds painful, and join me in drinking the Kool-Aid. Or as it was called in India, som ras.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 7th Dec 2014.)

Welcome To Science, As Presented By Michael Bay

Mankind often inflicts atrocities on itself, like war or the time it invented selfies. But every now and then, it does something that makes you drown in a puddle of goosebumps. I’m referring, of course, to the fact that we managed to accurately land a probe on a comet a few hundred million miles away. I’m going to say ‘we’ like I had something to do with it, even though I cannot accurately land a shawarma into my mouth without getting some on my shirt.

In case you’re dead inside and do not appreciate the enormity of what we’ve achieved, please read on.

The planning for this journey began twenty five years ago. Picture a group of scientists sitting around in 1989, trying to find answers to the origin of the universe, when one them suddenly says, “I know! Let’s land a probe on a comet hurtling through space at 40,000 miles per hour!” It takes a certain kind of crazy to think of something like that at a time when the average computer had the processing power of vada pao.

Once that was decided, they needed to find a comet to land on. This was easy because they weren’t distracted by Twitter every six seconds. The comet is four kilometres across, and at half the size of Kim Kardashian’s bottom, that sounds big enough. But it’s still a tiny dot. The Rosetta craft, which carried the Philae lander, was launched ten years ago when this dot was in some remote corner of the solar system. (Maybe Chhatisgarh. I don’t know.)

Imagine firing a bullet into the sky and hoping it will hit a moving target ten years later, except that to get to the target, the bullet will have to travel 6.4 billion kilometres. The journey involved gravity assists from Earth and Mars, in what I imagine as a giant game of cosmic football. This was then followed by more precison manouevres that allowed Rosetta to follow the comet like the world’s most hi-tech stalker. If you sit and think about the complexities long enough, you might feel a sudden surge of happiness, which means that Science is flicking her warm tongue all over your brain, and you should let her.

This achievement also made Indian people look at the ESA team and think, “Wow, these guys will get solid dahej now, no?” It’s the kind of feat that makes you appreciate just how dumb you are. I don’t get how these rocket scientists manage to not walk around, waggling their superiority in the world’s face. If I were in their place, I’d be the most condescending prick ever. My reply to “Honey, can you pick up some milk from the store?” would be, “I can pick up some milk from a goddamn comet, so shut yo mouth, foo’!” I’d die alone, but it’d be worth it.

This is why the post-landing press conference looked surprisingly civilised to me. The ESA people talked about how happy they were and how this was a first and that was it. That makes no sense. You pulled off a real-world approximation of Armageddon, so really, it’s okay for you to show off for a bit. It would have been understandable if the press con had gone like this:

Journalist: Your team just made history. How do you feel?

ESA Guy: Mine is bigger than yours. And yours and yours and yours. (looks at a picture of god) And yours.

Journalist: Right. Can you tell us about the pre-landing moments?

ESA Guy: Like, if I pulled it out right now, I could smack the comet with it.

Journalist: Ohkay. We heard that there was a problem with the thruster –

ESA Guy: Ain’t no problem with this thruster baybeh.

Journalist: I give up.

ESA Guy: (jumping up and down on the table) COMET KA KING KAUN? BHIKU MHATRE!

This landing is also another reminder of the pointlessness of religion. When science needs to unlock the mysteries of the universe, it sends a robot to dig into a piece of space rock 317 million miles away. Meanwhile, religion tells you that comets are god’s way of showing his anger at the fact that you had a beer or used a condom or touched someone you weren’t supposed to.

My parents’ generation got to see the moon landing, and I got to see this. But then they also got to see bell-bottoms, so I win. I’m pretty sure I’ll be telling my kids about this, probably two minutes after they’re born. And then I’ll pack them off to Rocket Science school.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 16th Nov 2014.)

‘Love Ees Sweat Poisson’ and Other Indian Truths

I don’t mean to brag, but I’m somewhat of an expert on romance and relationships, especially the part where I stay single for years at a stretch. It’s like how camels can go without water for ages, because the water just wants to be friends with the camel but the truth is that it is secretly being lapped up by another camel. If I had to quantify it, then on a scale of one to ten, my dry spells are Vidarbha.

With credentials like these, it’s no surprise that I was invited by a popular Mumbai-based literature festival to be part of a panel discussion on — I kid you not — The Changing Face of Romance in India and The Diaspora. My co-panelists included a British-Indian author and journalist who’s written a book about his travails with arranged marriage. I haven’t read it, but I’m assuming it’s just photos of brown parents looking disappointed.

The other panelist was a writer and self-confessed romantic, who’s written India’s second Mills and Boon novel, and nope, I had no idea that those books were still around. I remember coming across them as a kid, and all the covers looked the same. There was always a flushed-looking woman in some stage of undress, lying in a meadow, looking up at a bare-chested man whose piercing gaze seemed to say, “Baby, let’s go indoors, so I won’t have ants crawling up my butt.”

So yes, at the start, I felt a little out of place, like a bartender at an ISIS party. The topic also seemed redundant, because you’d think that despite everything, love and romance don’t really change. Deep down, most people want a constant, someone they can come home to every night, someone whose presence brings them joy and satisfaction. My constant is the Mini Punjab delivery guy. It’s a relationship based on late-night kebabs, aka the 3 a.m. boti call.

But things have changed in the world of hearts and genitals. We’re dating, hooking up and breaking up way more than our parents’ generation used to, because they were nicer, kinder and more emotionally stable we have the options that they didn’t. Thanks to technology, it’s so much easier to catch an STD now.

For example, take Tinder. It is literally a menu of potential partners, founded on the classy Indian proverb, ‘Degi Toh Lega?’. For older uncle-types reading this, Tinder is an app that lets your kids hook up with random strangers based on their face and geographical proximity. If that sounds shallow, remember, you come from a time when it was okay for parents to push their kids into bed with someone just because they had the same surname and also other great qualities, like not being manglik.

It’s not just Tinder; with so many forms of social media, we’re just a few DMs, likes and favourites away from entering someone’s inbox, so as to speak. It’s a great time to be young and single, because everyone has the attention span of a fat kid in a candy store. That’s why you see so many people try out Friends With Benefits aka One Of You Is Gonna Get Screwed Over So Bad LOL.

The flipside is that tech will also jerk you around because it can. WhatsApp is great at this, first with the ‘Last Seen At’ and now the Blue Tick of Death. It’s the kind of thing that makes people go, “If you really want to ruin my relationship, why don’t you just get your app to sleep with my girlfriend?”

Tech also negates the point of break-ups, which is that exes should go away, preferably to another planet. But now they’re always around, their faces flashing across your newsfeed as if to say, “Look how well I’m doing without you! Here’s a photo of me with an attractive person of the opposite sex! I’m not doing this so you feel bad about losing me – I’m totally over you! No, seriously- SHIT SHIT SHIT I accidentally liked a photo of us from 2009 STUPID TOUCHSCREEN SHIT SHIT I DON’T CARE I’M FINE *dies of vodka poisoning*”

Everything said and done, you can whine about how complex everything is, or suck it up and keep looking for That Great Modern Love, which is basically two people checking their phones in comfortable silence. And if that proves elusive, let me know. I’ll put you in touch with this great guy from Mini Punjab.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 9th Nov 2014.)

In Loving Memory Of Common Sense

This is a very difficult column to write because I keep having to extricate my palm from my face as I type. It’s not like this is a rare occurrence — our wonderful countrymen are known for their unyielding devotion to the Kingdom of Daft – but this week has been particularly fruitful on that front. If common sense were a person, this is the week in which he would’ve been spat upon, fired and dumped for a dude who has ebola.

It started in Kerala, aka God’s own nurse factory. Last week, a bunch of gentlemen from the BJP youth wing reportedly vandalised a cafe in Kozhikhode (pronounced ‘Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil Usha’). They did this despite the fact that it wasn’t a CCD outlet.

They claimed that the place was home to “immoral activities”, which is code for ‘Achche Din Aane Waale Hain’. I’m not sure what these activities were, but it probably involved some extremely obscene behaviour by boys and girls, like existing in the same physical space.

(Interestingly, the “immoral activties” were “exposed” by a Congress-owned channel a few days before the attack. It’s nice to see the two parties put their differences aside for real issues like these.)

In protest, a bunch of people in Kochi came up with a Kiss Of Love campaign, because for maximum efficiency, a campaign must be named after a Bobby Deol song from Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. They declared 2nd November as Kiss Day, inviting everyone who is not a cretin to gather at one place and kiss and celebrate love and possibly get lathi-charged. I quite like the idea of the protest. I stand by the people behind it, mostly because I don’t have to go out there and do it. What can I say? I’m just not a big fan of getting water-cannoned, because that would ruin my phone.

At the time of going to print, the police had denied permission to the organisers, probably because this wasn’t a political rally or a festival procession full of drunken oversexed gorillas holding up traffic.

Things reached a point where two people petitioned the Kerala High Court to stop the Kiss Mafia. The court shot down the petitions on grounds of free speech, because it is not proper for judges to say “Aage badho, chhutta nahin hai.”

On a brighter note, the BJP state vice-president said that his party would not interfere with Kiss Day, and that moral policing and violent protests were “not BJP’s cup of tea”. Overcome with emotion at such honesty, Kim Jong-Un broke down and said that insanity and crap haircuts were also not his cup of tea. Then he shot the guy standing closest to him.

It’s weird to see that India still hasn’t come to terms with PDA, still choosing to refer to it by its technical name, Chumma Chaati.  I, for one, am in awe of these brave, hormonally charged souls because it takes great talent to be perched on a bike on a busy seaface next to a hundred other bikes, watching out for cops and goons while your fingers wrestle with a bra clasp, racing to vanquish it before you collapse from monoxide poisoning.

But I get why innocent civilians get thrashed for kissing. Think about this way: you’re a ticket to a political hoodlum’s promotion. For them, assaulting civilians is a great way to get noticed and show their superiors that they possess the excrement gene needed to be a neta. I wish things were as easy for the rest of us, but it doesn’t work that way in the our world. I wish we could use excuses like that in office:

Boss: You’re lazy, irresponsible and you’ve missed your sales target by 273%. You’re fired.

You: Wait, I just punched a girl for wearing shorts.

Boss: Ohkay…

You: She was ten.

Boss: What colour do you want your private jet to be?

I can’t wait for the moral police to take this anti-kissing drive to the next level and bring in a communal angle to it. Before you know it, they’ll have you believe that Tongue Jihad is a real thing, and that our culture is being threatened by Lashkar-e-Lips. Thankfully, there are people standing up to this nonsense. I hope the Kochi protest goes off peacefully and that much love and saliva is exchanged, because otherwise I would’ve endured that Bobby Deol earworm for nothing.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 2nd Nov 2014.)

I Like Fit Backs And I Cannot Lie

Some of you may have noticed that this column was missing for the last few weeks. And by some, I mean three people not including my editors, who, like all newspaper editors, were busy figuring out how to compete with listicles online. (“Let’s make clickable paper” is what I heard last, before they returned to their monocles and quills.)

The reason for the absence is that I’ve been resting and recuperating from a lower back injury, which happened because I went skydiving and crash-landed on a remote island, where I was nursed to health by beautiful local maidens whose culture had no place for upper body garments.

Or, y’know, years of bad posture finally caught up with me, resulting in a slipped disc.

As you know, a slipped disc is a painful condition wherein everyone who has ever possessed a spinal cord will feel the need to give you advice. I’m sure they mean well, but this is what all your conversations sound like: Sit down, don’t sit down, lie down, don’t lie down, use ice-packs, use heat, gently simmer back on low flame and add namak swad anusaar and so on.

Most people have trouble believing me because this usually affects people in the age group of Farida Jalal to Alok Nath. But the way I see it, maturity is maturity, whether it exists in the mind, or in your spinal structure. Also, I’m used to falling sick in ways that make no sense. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with tennis elbow, despite the fact that I’ve only picked up racquets to kill mosquitos while pretending to be a Jedi. At this rate, I’m sure I’ll be diagnosed with something weird soon enough, like pregnancy.

I’ve also realized that men and women react to news of illness in very different ways. In this case, my women friends said something along the lines of, “Oh so sorry, that sounds horrible, please take care” whereas the guys’ exact words were – and this is true — “LOL tere ko spinal AIDS ho gaya.”

(This was inevitably followed by the question, “So… does it hurt when you do that thing that you do to yourself on cold, lonely nights and on other nights as well?” to which the correct answer is, “Some goals are so noble, it is glorious even to fail and call for an ambulance.”)

Having a slipped disc feels like being in a game of Mortal Kombat, especially the part where Sub Zero pulls his Fatality move that involves ripping out his opponent’s spinal column, skull attached and all. There are days when you can almost feel a fist clench around your vertebrae as if to say, “Screw you for sitting awkwardly on non-ergonomic furniture for years.” If that sounds too dramatic, then it’s probably the painkillers talking. Seriously, those things are amazing. They can make Stephen Hawking sound like Rahul Gandhi. This is what I sound like on a normal day:

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. Come, let us discuss scholarly matters and say things like, “The bourgeoisie nature of the Fermi paradox suggests a Kafkaesque influence to the neo-classical interpretations of Hegelian thermodynamics.”

And this is what I sound like on painkillers:

WHY IS FLOOR SPINNING HOW IS BABBY FORMED WHEEEE! *throws up*

Painkillers also help me appreciate the little things in life, like the fact that my physiotherapist’s surname is Girey. It was nice of him to name himself after the incident that leads people to his clinic. It’s like going to a lung cancer specialist called Dr. Classic Milds.

Part of the physiotherapy involves electrical stimulation of the affected areas, which, in my case, includes the gluteus maximus aka the tashreef region. So yes, I get to enjoy the kind of vibratory massage that some of you weirdos would pay top dollar for in a dungeon in Amsterdam. It’s not too bad though. I just refer to it as Fifty Shades of Girey.

(Yes, I’m going to blame that joke on the painkillers too.)

(Note: This is my HT column dated 26th Oct 2014.)

Could This Headline BE More Obvious?

Twenty years ago, the world watched its first episode of Friends, and given the rerun cycle in India, I’m sure my grandkids will end up watching it on their deathbeds, getting nostalgic about a world without nuclear winter. Friends is said to be responsible for the rise of everything from a certain haircut to coffee sales to awkward guys using sarcasm as a defence mechanism because clearly, that’s all we do all the time for no reason.

Friends hit Indian shores when I was about fifteen and I could tell it was something big because it was the only thing that made us stop our cricket game and rush home to huddle in front of the TV. (NOTE TO YOUNGER READERS: A TV is sort of like a physical Youtube, except someone else is in charge of the playlist and you don’t get to leave nasty comments about people’s mothers.)

Back then, we had no real idea about the stuff they were talking about – being on a break means nothing when the only girlfriend you’ve ever had is a Kate Winslet poster – but we lapped it up because it was our first proper pop-culture look at adults in America. It was like Archie featuring yuppies, it was three-big-laughs-a-minute and honestly, if someone from my generation tells me they didn’t like it, my brain automatically classifies them as horrible people, like serial killers or MBAs.

In fact, I’m sure that even the most despicable, blood-thirsty bastards on the planet are fans of the Central Perk gang. This must’ve happened at ISIS camps at some point:

Terrorist 1: … And then, Rashid here was like, “Boss, I forget to carry detonator.”

Terrorist 2: Hahaha, you pulled a Monica!

Terrorist 3: (spots a girl in black) How youuu doin’?

*awkward looks all around*

Terrorist 1: Dude, that’s a curtain.

Friends helped an entire generation of people discover themselves, which is just another way of saying that everyone thought they were Chandler Bing. I was convinced I was Chandler because of my tendency to make bad jokes while gradually putting on weight, which, if you think about it, is a pretty generic brief. Nobody ever thought that they were Ross, because that’s the kind of realisation that would drive a man to three divorces. As for Joey, I didn’t even think such people existed, but then I started working in the entertainment industry and long story short, you can shoot a Joey spinoff in any gym between Bandra and Andheri.

But the biggest validation for Bright, Kaufmann and Crane has to be the fact that we ripped off their show to create something called – the subtlety will blow your mind – Hello Friends. It featured Nikhil Chinappa, Maria Goretti, Cyrus Broacha and Mandira Bedi, because I guess VJ Shehnaz was busy digging her way out of the cardboard and glitter avalanche that was MTV Most Wanted.

Hello Friends was pretty much like the original, if you removed all the funny bits. One difference was that desi Ross did not have a lesbian wife – he was just a regular divorcee. This was because lesbians did not exist in India in 1999. We only imported them later when we realised that we had way too many plaid shirts and not enough people to wear them.

Friends faced the same criticism a lot of sitcoms face – “It’s so unreal”, “How can they afford that apartment?”, “Can I get the number of Phoebe’s dealer?” – but nobody really cared because the other stuff made up for it. Sure, the theme song sounds less saccharine and more realistic now – I’ll Be There For Youuuu (Until I Get Married Or Move Cities And We Lose Touch Because That Kinda Thing Happens Watchu Gonna Do About It).

But the rest of it feels real enough, especially once you’ve started living on your own: Having people whose fridges you can raid, no questions asked, hearing them out after their sixteenth break-up with the same person and then getting drunk because that’s as good a reason as any, having people come over with soup when you’re sick and being as exclusionist about your group as those six were, and believing that a Chandler-Monica romance is possible because she’s not obese anymore.

I recently came across a photo of the grey and saggy Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc hugging at an award function, and all I could think was, “Goddamn dust allergy, making me sniffle.” So I know that if a Friends reunion ever happens, I’d be the first to drop everything and watch, all the while thinking, “Could I BE more senti?”

(Note: This is my HT column dated 21st Sep, 2014.)