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.)

Happy Teacher’s Day, Whether You Like It Or Not

It was Teacher’s Day this week, or as I like to call it, “Ashish, get out of the class.” Every year, around this time, I get nostalgic about all the fun I had in school, especially the part where I wasn’t forced to sit around and listen to Prime Minister Modi’s speech about how I was the future of the nation and how I should respect my elders and floss every night and stop doing the awesome thing that I had just discovered because it was against our culture.

Mind you, this has nothing to do with my political beliefs. It’s just that if you make a kid stick around in school for longer than absolutely necessary, he’s bound to hate you with an intensity otherwise reserved for tinday ki sabzi. If Modi wants the students of today to grow up and vote for him, he should save his speechwriters the trouble and just give the brats a free period. (Throw in a Shin Chan catchphrase and you’d have those kids begging their parents for a lotus tattoo.)

In the run-up to 5th September, there seemed to be a lot of confusion about whether or not it was mandatory for schools to telecast his address. The truth depended on how much coffee the fact-checkers had had, but for me, the most striking image was one that had been going around on social media. It was a photo of a classroom full of kids, say about eight to ten years old, watching Modi’s address, except one boy was standing in the foreground doing the little finger “May I go pee?” gesture, with a teacher pointing at him to sit down while also giving him a death stare, like he’d asked to pee on her foot or something.

I’m not sure if that photo will get shared a lot, but if it becomes big enough, these are the headlines you can expect to see:

NitiCentral: PM SPEECH STRENGTHENS YOUNG BLADDERS ACROSS THE NATION, THEREBY REDUCING THE RISK OF CANCER BY 832%

Sagarika Tweet: The boy’s pained expression proves that he is from the minority community. This is a dangerous precedent!!. Should we start communal fires that our pee can’t extinguish?!!!

Buzzfeed: 16 Hilarious Indian Gestures That Signify Susu

Instagram: <High-saturation Photo Of Lower-Middle Class Man Peeing On A Wall That Says Something Rustic Like ‘Gadhe Ke Poot, Yahaan Mat Moot’>

Firstpost: A 6000-Word Piece On Why Indian Girls Don’t Have The Confidence To Stand Up And Do The Finger Pee Gesture #Misogyny #Patriarchy #NobodyWillReadThis

And finally, Chetan Bhagat would announce his new book: a story about a boy from middle-class India, with a middle-class driver-type name like Sunil or Ramesh, whose English is not very goodly speaking because of full middle-classness only. After having middle-class water from a middle-class hotel (which is what middle-class people call restaurants) the boy would rush to empty his middle-class bladder in the toilet of his MBA college, which he joined to rise above his middle-classness, even though he really wanted to pursue his passion for MMS film-making.

But Sunil-slash-Ramesh would enter the girls loo by mistake, where he’d meet and fall in love with a rich girl, who pees wherever she wants to because she’s rich. The movie rights would be snapped up for a hundred crores, while “real” Indian authors – people who know that Whitbread is not a source of carbs – would sit around weeping tears of blood into their manuscripts featuring a poor brown man contemplating the nature of karma while trapped in a quagmire of Naxalism and also an actual quagmire, because that’s where all poor people live. (This man would be Bengali because, c’mon, when was the last time you saw somebody write stuff like this about Noida guys?)

Overall, the PM’s address appears to have been a success. The Prime Minister said all the right things, like blahblahblahblahblah thank you for listening, go home and chill now. Or at least that’s how the kids must’ve heard it. Jokes aside, I’m sure many of those kids will grow up to vote for the BJP. Years from now, you’ll see them at polling booths, fervently looking for the tinday ki sabzi symbol.

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

The Man In The Mirror Sucks At Pelvic Thrusts

This week was the 56th birth anniversary of Michael Jackson who, even in death, has the power to make fans and plastic surgeons weep with joy. Even if you haven’t heard his music in a while, all it takes is one Youtube search for the foot-tapping to begin. Twenty seconds into the first result, the humming starts and by the end of it, you’re pelvic-thrusting all over the room even though you have a column deadline but you’re humping the air like you just don’t care aaaaaaand now you have a hernia.

I was never much of a dancer, but if there’s one person that made me try, it was the man that my mother once described as “Who’s that girl in the baniyan?” It was his music that made it okay for ten-year-old me to look like an idiot on the dance floor floor – a responsibility that has since been taken over by Mr. Whisky. In fact, Thriller was the first cassette I ever bought and it was one of the most fun things I’d ever heard, even thought it featured a boring duet titled ‘The Girl Is Mine’ with some random guy called Paul McCartney.

(NOTE TO YOUNG READERS: In case you’re wondering, a cassette was kinda like a malnourished iPod.)

The fandom was amplified many times over the by the fact that I was there during Michael Jackson’s first and only India concert. When I say ‘there’, I mean ‘in the same city with no chance of attending the show’ because if I’d asked to go, my parents would’ve just laughed and then sold me off to pay for the tickets, which were priced at Rs. AUKAAT MEIN REH, YOU ARE A MIDDLE-CLASS PERSON IN THE ‘90s only.

But it felt like I was at Michael’s side every step of the way, because every news outlet went into overdrive. Seriously, this is what the headlines looked like:

MICHAEL JACKSON MOONWALKS INTO MUMBAI AIRPORT! SIX FANS DIE OF EXCITEMENT!

MICHAEL JACKSON CLEARS CUSTOMS! CUSTOMS OFFICER MAKES THAT HEART SIGN WITH HIS HANDS!

MICHAEL JACKSON STOPS TO PLAY WITH KIDS IN DHARAVI! EVERYONE ACTS COOL EVEN THOUGH THEY’RE ALL THINKING ABOUT THOSE ALLEGATIONS.

MICHAEL JACKSON USES THE TOILET AT THE THACKERAY RESIDENCE! NOT GONNA MAKE A JOKE ABOUT IT BECAUSE I LIKE MY LIFE.

The hysteria was understandable because a) he was literally the biggest superstar to have enjoyed Bombay’s potholes and b) this was a time when not too many international artistes came here, as opposed to today, where if you throw a rock, it’d probably hit some EDM star on the head, distracting him from hitting ‘Play’ on his laptop.

Michael Jackson left behind a very important legacy in India, i.e. he became the default western look for everybody on Boogie Woogie. All of those acts went down great with the judges, especially Ravi Behl who described everything as “Boo!” I don’t think his contract allowed him to say anything else. Basically, Ravi Behl was the Hodor of Boogie Woogie.

It’s also weird that for all our MJ lovin’, we were quite clueless about his lyrics. For example, this is how most Indian people sang his songs:

KhaegheoihMEsschaskjdjshdME

Suhaedhsjdbsdgsd sdhjshdkjksdh

Zdhsjdhsdiushsd dfushdh sdjsdj

ALL I WANT TO SAY IS THAT

THEY DONT REALLY CARE ABOUT US!

Thankfully, Anu Malik came to our rescue like a musical Robin Hood, and while keeping the beat intact, replaced those lyrics with the much more comprehensible NEELA DUPATTA PEELA SUIT. I’m sure that’s what really killed Michael Jackson.

He still lives on though, in people like Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars and also Chiranjeevi, whose Telugu rip-off of the Thriller video may have fueled the demand for a separate state. But most importantly, Michael Jackson lives on in every kid who is still discovering his moves, and in every adult who is currently grabbing his crotch while also typing this.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 31st Aug 2014.)

Youth 101: Let’s Try And Decode These Crazy Kids

The four of you who still read newspapers may have seen reports about the Hindustan Times-MaRS Youth Survey 2014, which is something that brands do from time to time to figure out what young people are thinking. (“Life will give me what I want, because I am unique, like a unicorn with an Asian-symbol tattoo”, would be my guess.)

Brands do this because they know that if there’s one thing that young people like, it is reading about stuff that young people like. Also, older people have a very limited definition of youth (“Those phone screens with the humans attached to them”), so these surveys give them a chance to better understand the generation that will be choosing their retirement homes.

I’m pretty sure I don’t classify as ‘the youth’ anymore, seeing as how I’m completely okay with not knowing what a Harry Styles is, and all I really want is to go to bed at 10 p.m. Now that that’s established, let’s take a look at some of the more interesting findings of the HT Youth Survey. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • 61% of the people surveyed said that pre-marital sex was no longer an issue for them. But 63% also said that they wanted their future spouse to be a virgin. Mathematically speaking, people are idiots. If you insist on marrying a virgin, the only thing getting pleasured will be your ego. Seriously, why would you insist on a non-expert? It’s like walking into a fine-dining restaurant and telling the waiter, “Get me a plate of whatever they’re serving in Tihar.”
  • 32% of male respondents said that there was nothing wrong in watching pornography. The rest were clinically dead. From exhaustion. After watching pornography.
  • People with a stable, full-time job had a better chance of finding partners. The message is simple: you have to at least appear like a grown-up, because not too many women are impressed when they see that the only furniture you own is a bean-bag made from old boxers.
  • Mumbai was number one on the spending list, with 70.6% of the respondents having made an unaffordable purchase in the last year. Of course, in Mumbai this could mean anything from paying obscene rents to enjoy bronchitis in a slightly nicer pincode, to just buying a cocktail at a bar (“Enjoy this 800 rupee watered-down swill, with all the potency of baby formula”).
  • On average, 35% of the youth said they strongly believed in astrology. The number was 28% for the 18-21 age group and rose to 48% for people aged 22-25. This is probably because once you get out of college, you realise that the world will treat you like its own personal toilet if you let it, so you latch on to whatever fairy tale works best as a coping mechanism. I’d shake my head at these people, but then we Ariens are sceptical like that.
  • 72% of the people agreed that many Indian traditions must be preserved. Hopefully, they meant fun traditions like gambling on Diwali, or the one where you set a price on your son and call it dowry. It’s also nice to see young, educated people I know decorate their babies’ faces with a giant black dot for protection. The colour black is great at warding off evil, as seen in the case of Africa, which is just a giant bowl of sunshine and happiness.
  • Speaking of happiness, Jaipur scored the highest on that front with 88% of respondents saying that they were very happy at this point of time. I’d be happy too, if I lived two hours away from Pushkar and its government-approved bhang shops. Youngsters in Patna were the least happy of the lot, probably because they realised they were in Patna.

I’m waiting for a survey about people like me, who aren’t uncle material yet, but have too many chins and IQ points to be mistaken for a college kid. I’d be happy to answer any questions, as long as you don’t call when I’m sleepy or tired. So yeah, never.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 17th Aug 2014.)

My Big Fat Indian Wedding Video

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, aka shaadi on steroids. It’s been twenty years since the film premiered at Mumbai’s Liberty cinema and for all I know, is still going on.

So much has changed since 1994: Madhuri Dixit skated off all the way to the States, Salman married a bottle of vodka, and Alok Nath turned into a meme and even made a Twitter account (after he figured out how to un-glue his hands from their permanent namaste position). But HAHK firmly occupies a place in our hearts, like cholesterol, so even now, it has the power to make us look back and wonder, “What the hell was everyone huffing back then?”

Sooraj Barjatya has gone on record to say that his goal with HAHK was to make the audience feel like they’d come to visit a large joint family that was preparing for a wedding. Of course, by ‘family’, he meant ‘people who act so sweet that they appear deranged’. Seriously, they were like the sanskari version of the Addams family. In keeping with the theme of annoyance, even the dog they got was a Pomeranian. That breed is like the KRK of the canine world. (Fun fact: They say that Tuffy was so soft and white that Bhai once tried to snort him.)

But jokes aside, I still watch a bit of the movie whenever it’s on TV. I especially like the song that goes ‘Yeh mausam ka jadoo hai mitwa’, because that’s the only time you’ll see people singing and dancing happily, not caring about the fact that Salman is driving a motor vehicle in their immediate vicinity. It’s so weird to watch the scene where he goes to pick up Madhuri in his Gypsy and says, “Aaj pehli baar ek ladki meri gaadi ki front seat pe baithi hai.” You can almost hear Madhuri thinking, “Take the hint, bro. Take the goddamn hint.”

Hum Aapke Hain Kaun is said to have revolutionised ‘90s Bollywood, mostly because it did not feature Shakti Kapoor drooling over things. This was a time when action films were the norm, so it was refreshing to see a film where the villain was a staircase. (The only other remotely negative character was played by Bindu, who you might remember as The Vamp That Is Not Aroona Irani.)

One of my favourite parts from the film is the bit where MF Husain watched it and became besotted with Madhuri Dixit. This was front page news back in the day, with the artist claiming that he’d watched the movie some 85 times, just for Madhuri. Or maybe that’s how many times you need to watch it for all the characters to register.

After this, he made Madhuri his muse and gifted her a bunch of her portraits, which just proves that it’s okay to be creepy as long as you’re a famous intellectual. It would never work otherwise. I mean I’d love to land up at Deepika Padukone’s door and go, “Hey, I’ve watched your film 384 times – here’s a stick figure drawing I made of you. Wanna frendz?” I’d get kicked out quicker than Sajid Khan at his next pitch meeting.

For all its legendary success, HAHK seems pretty irrelevant to today’s generation. Unlike Mohnish Behl and Renuka Shahane in the film, nobody just magically falls in love and agrees to marry someone their parents picked out like half an hour ago. Nope, not unless they’re lonely and past a certain age and all their friends have gotten married, so they convince themselves to settle because at least they’ll get a kickass FB album out of it.

But here’s the thing. If you’re in your late teens, HAHK is still relevant to you, because it apparently influenced the Indian wedding scene in a huge way. So it’s possible that you were created because the movie inspired your then single parents to hook up and do some dhiktana. It could’ve been worse. They could’ve named you Tuffy.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 10th Aug 2014.)

Society Tried To Keep Up With Pop Culture. What Happened Next Will Melt Your Brain.

(Note: This was part of the HT Brunch cover story for 3rd August 2014. You can read the shorter print version here.)

“I cried because my 3G was down, until I met a man who had no smartphone.” – Rumi

The internet is arguably the greatest invention of the 21st century, second only to the polio vaccine and the cyborg that assumed the form of Mick Jagger many years ago. Like the best drugs in the world, it offers escape in enslavement and we’re only too happy to roll up our sleeves for the friendly neighbourhood wi-fi dealer. The sensory overload it offers is eclectic, to say the least. On the one hand, it allows us to obsess over a cancer-stricken chemistry teacher who joins an ad agency in the ‘60s so that he can drink Scotch all day and bide his time, before marching through an expanse of undulating breasts to reclaim the Iron Throne, currently occupied by the mother of Ted Mosby’s children.

While we’re devouring our way out of this pop culture pile, we’re also taking in other vital information, like real-time FB updates on the bowel movements of a guy you once met at a party in 2008. And somewhere in the middle lies a carnival of countless gifs, memes, listicles, must-watch videos, Twitter controversies, wardrobe malfunctions, social media gossip, longform pieces and impotent outrage, all tugging at your sleeve, begging you to watch their latest trick, until you give in, putting aside that unfinished presentation, letting go of the steering wheel, leaving your patient half cut up on the operating table, over and over again, until you sense your brain leaking out of your ears, holding up a white flag.

The most recent brain-stomp happened a few weeks ago, courtesy Poonam Pandey, Queen of The Will-She-Won’t-She Clan (Spoiler Alert: She won’t.) This is a woman whose entire career is based on the fact that men like adipose tissue. I’m sure the first question she asks herself every morning is, “How do I find a topical connect to my jiggly bits today?”

Thankfully, the World Cup was on at the time, prompting a brainwave that was both hilarious and tragic. Around the quarter-final stage, Poonam Pandey announced that if Brazil won, she would give away her bra to one lucky fan. The only thing prospective serial killers winners had to do in order to win that bio-hazard was to tweet answers to the awfully-worded hashtag #WhyIWantBRAOfPoonamPandey.

Poonam ran this contest only because — and I wish I were making this up – the word ‘Brazil’ contains the word ‘bra’. That’s it. That was her entire reasoning. I don’t know what she would’ve offered if the Virgin Islands had qualified for the cup.

This Twitter contest wasn’t something that I, or anyone else, needed to know about. I couldn’t have avoided it either, because it was right there all day, being shared and retweeted, albeit ironically. But to be completely honest, a part of me wanted to know, because judging people is extremely therapeutic.

The inability to cut off from such noise is just one of the symptoms of a form of social anxiety called FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out. Of course, that’s just the informal name – the scientific term is ‘HAHA YOU’LL NEVER BE SANE AGAIN’.

This fear is compounded by the possibility, no, certainty, that everyone you know is doing better than you. You know this because you’ve seen all their status updates, which make it seem like they’re sitting in castles, wallowing in cake, while you’re out on the streets, fighting stray dogs for a slice of bread so you can start a food blog about it.

A great side-effect of this is an actual, physical sense of discomfort when you’re separated from your phone. I’m not saying that I’m obsessed, but if my building were on fire and I had to choose between saving my phone and a newborn baby, I would, without a doubt, pick up the baby to check if my phone was underneath it.

Now I’m not a “trained psychologist”, but I did watch an episode of House where he pretended to be one, so I feel qualified to say this: FOMO is just Insecurity 2.0. We all want to sit at the cool kids’ table, and be told that yes, we belong, except that the location of the table changes every time you look away.

But hey, don’t take my word for it. This was first put forth by a social scientist at Oxford called Dr. Andrew Przybylski, who apparently spends his free time hating vowels. According to Przybylski’s survey, the Fear Of Missing Out was strongest in people whose basic psychological needs, like love and respect, were unfulfilled. This was followed by another groundbreaking study on how hunger was strongest in people who were starving and that fire burnt the brightest in people who were aflame.

In the good ol’ days, FOMO was simply referred to as ‘being a whiny little word-I-can’t-use-in-print’, and was cured by letting leeches suck the insecurity out of you. They don’t do that anymore because you’d ask the leeches to do a Foursquare check-in at your skin.

Things are different now, presumably because there’s way more pop culture out there. After a long day of work, I love nothing more than to come home, assume a supine, pantless form and let the latest TV shows just wash all over me. Even so, I’m terrible at keeping track of everything, and my list of unwatched TV shows now runs longer than a Sri Lankan surname. There’s True Detective, Fargo, Veep, Penny Dreadful, Broadchurch, The Bridge, Halt and Catch Fire and Masters of Sex, to name just a few.

You’d think it’d be stupid for entertainment to turn into a some sort of a race – that’s what the rest of our lives are for. But the availability of content isn’t the problem. It’s the fact that we feel the need to share everything. You know things have gone too far when porn sites offer a default share button on every video. We committed to this social media nonsense so hard that marketers thought we’d actually click a button to tell the world we’re watching ‘Midget Rides Donkey Into A BBW’.

Of all the networks out there, Facebook has to be the biggest source of overload. It’s like a party that started off as fun, but now you just want to get hold of your friends and leave, because random strangers have started making small talk about their “opinions” and “feelings”, all of which are stupid. Seriously, this my default reaction while scrolling through my news feed:

“Don’t care.”

“Don’t care.”

“Don’t care.”

“Don’t care.”

“Holy crap, you got fat.”

“Don’t care.”

“Ooh, who’s that hottie? Oh wait, double-barrel surname. Never mind.”

“Don’t care.”

“Don’t care.”

“Die.”

Instagram’s better, because you get to jazz up your neediness with pretty filters. Meanwhile, Twitter is a completely different beast. Sure, it’s great for when you want to overthrow oppressive regimes so as to make way for more oppressive regimes. But it has also destroyed productivity the way Hitler destroyed the hopes of anyone wanting to sport a cool half-moustache.

I’m just glad social media wasn’t around during the Mughal era, because then the Taj Mahal would never have been built. Also, it would’ve made for an awkward deathbed conversation:

I don't know why Shahjahan looks like a young Prannoy Roy.

I don’t know why Shahjahan looks like a young Prannoy Roy.

 

I feel bad for kids in the future who’re not going to be able to live up to our expectations, thanks to all the baby videos we’ve already watched. My kid could be a brain surgeon at the age of six, but I’d still be thinking, “Meh, not as cool as Charlie Bit My Finger.”

Their history lessons would be different too, given how just about anyone today can get their fifteen seconds of meme. I can’t wait for books of the future, like Miley Cyrus’s Long Twerk To Freedom, typed out entirely through the process of twerking. And who can forget the definitive exploration of female friendships, 2 Girls 1 Cup? (Legal Disclaimer: DO NOT EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER GOOGLE THAT I SWEAR THIS IS NOT A JOKE IT WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO SET YOUR SOUL ON FIRE.)

I could run down our obsession with virality all I want, but the truth is that as a modern-day writer, my career relies on distracting you better and for longer than anyone else. In fact, I wanted to call this piece ‘Exclusive Katrina Kaif Bikini Shots Reveal Birthmark Shaped Like Ranbir’, just so it would stick in your goldfish brain. I cannot lie – I want you to tweet and Facebook and reddit and Snapchat this piece to everyone you’ve ever known. Do it before the next distraction comes along. Seriously, hurry. Poonam Pandey just started unbuttoning her top.