Seven Old Monk Facts That May Or May Not Be Made Up

(Note: This is my Hindustan Times column dated 19th July 2015.)

Like an aunty who just saw the neighbour’s daughter with a boy, I have plenty to talk about this week. We were witness to the incredible Pluto flyby, a testament to the power of science and curiosity that reminded us yet again of our place in the universe.

This was overshadowed by another great scientific achievement when Professor Emeritus Of Center Parting And Net Banyan Studies Salman Khan announced his theory of ‘Selfie le le le le le le le le le le le le le’. His fans scrambled to follow his instructions, leading to a number of injuries because it’s difficult to take selfies when there are three of you on a bike.

But the news that struck deepest was the imminent collapse of Old Monk, aka Molasses That Went To College. It was reported that the dark rum was on its way out, until the makers clarified that yes, there had been a dip in sales, which they were dealing with by downing Patialas and listening to Jagjit Singh, and no, Old Monk was not going to be taken off shelves.

So in celebration, here’s a list of Seven Old Monk Facts That May Or May Not Be Made Up:

  1. As the name suggests, Old Monk was first brewed in the hills by an actual monk, because living in a monastery is so boring that watching sugarcane ferment seems like legit entertainment. Old Monk is made using the moustache hair of a military officer ranked no lower than a Colonel, and the tears of a first-year engineering student who just got dumped and in response, will spend the next four years wearing the classic T-shirt that says ‘99% of gurlz are beautiful….. the rest are in my college’.
  1. Old Monk is manufactured in Ghaziabad, a city that shares a border with Delhi and is known for its wide variety of kidnappings. It likes to say that it’s part of the Delhi-NCR region in the same way that Kambli likes to tell people that he’s Sachin’s best friend.
  1. Old Monk was the largest selling dark rum in the world for years and is India’s most loved export since Anil Kapoor’s English at the Oscars. Oddly enough, the world’s finest hash also comes from India. See, that’s the kind of patriotism I can get behind. Once I’m done with these six packets of chips, that is.
  1. The large Old Monk bottle is genius design because it shows you the exact shape you’ll turn into if you don’t stop drinking. You can also smack people over the head with it when they start intellectualising the drink instead of shutting up and just drinking it. 
  1. Old Monk fans swear that it is great at curing colds and coughs, which proves that your friends will say anything to get you to drink. In every group, there’s always that one guy who will offer scientific logic like ‘See diseases are caused by germs and alcohol kills germs hence proved SO DRINK NA SAALA LADKI HAI KYA MARD BAN WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU’RE IN A COMA JUST DRINK NA BASTARD’.
  1. For some reason, Monk fans also swear that it does not give them a hangover. These people are either lying or they’re Australian. It’s amazing how, as a die-hard fan, you could be curled on a bedsheet adorned with the previous night’s partially digested nachos while your head feels like Ganesh Acharya is tap-dancing on it, and you’d still go, “Dammit, it must be something I ate.”
  1. Because Monk is primarily a guy drink, men get turned on by a woman who can chug the good stuff. So yeah, date a girl who drinks Old Monk. Date her because her sweat smells of rum and that’s hot. Date her because she can fart the opening riff to Smoke On The Water. Date her because that girl is so much like you. No wait, she is you. You are alone, and you deserve to be if you’re taking dating advice from stupid listicles.

On that note, it is time for me to step out and get my weekend drink. If you see me performing an ode to my drink, please smack me over the head.

Did They Just Say What I Think They Said?

(Note: This is my Hindustan Times column dated 12th July 2015.)

I don’t mean to exaggerate but this was one of the greatest weeks in the history of India, second only to the time we invented gulab jamuns. Let it be known that in the seventh month half-way through the second decade of the second millenium, the Chief Justice of India said that a blanket ban on porn sites would be a violation of a citizen’s fundamental right to liberty. This was in response to a plea that wants the government to block all porn websites in India, probably by turning off the big switch marked ‘Internet’.

The petitioner’s contention is that watching porn leads to an increase in sex crimes so it should be banned, which would make sense if the theory were – how do we say this – true. I could be wrong though. I mean porn is banned in Pakistan and as a result, things are so much better for women there.

This wasn’t a ruling, but nevertheless, the statement was seen as a happy glitch in the matrix. It’s because we live in a world where our priorities tend to be all over the place. For example, this is how our politicians react to consensual adult pornography:

“MORAL FABRIC OF SOCIETY IS BEING DESTROYED PORN CAUSES CRIME BAN EVERYTHING INCLUDING THINKING ABOUT OPPOSITE SEX.”

And this is how they react to actual incidents of sexual violence:

“Blame chowmein because short skirts and jeans and mobile phones and boys are like this only what to do her star was in the wrong quadrant VOTE FOR ME.”

To be clear, the pronouncement was not a celebration of the pizza delivery guy/plumber/agent documentaries that people hold so dear, but of the freedom to privately consume the most offensive, vapid content out there, be it smut or Comedy Nights With Lowest Common Denominator. It’s heartening to know that as of now, you can legally enjoy this freedom every day, or several times a day if your exams are going on.

If there are any minors reading this, I’d like you to know that this column in no way endorses the consumption of content not meant for your age group. Remember, the cops will come banging down your door and worse, your parents will know. They always know. Even if you’re in your room googling ‘Fermat’s Theorem’ for fun, they’re just going to assume something’s up. So please continue watching Shin Chan or Superwoman or whatever it is that you guys watch until you’re of age, by which time the government may just have banned porn, thereby keeping you safe from the dreaded phenomenon called ‘buffering’.

It’s strange to see Indians be hypocritical about matters like these, especially when the data suggests otherwise. A 2014 survey released by the Pornhub, the world’s largest adult site, reveals that India ranks fifth in terms of total visitors to the site. Sunny Leone is the most searched for star, thereby reaffirming our total lack of imagination.

The site’s Android traffic from India ranks third, only behind the US and the UK. I’m sure there are a ton of iOS users who intend to log on but they’re done after like ten seconds of looking at their iPhone. The report says that 25% of Indian visitors are women, which is obviously a lie supplied by the ISI to discredit our angels. Everyone knows that an Indian woman does not seek pleasure – she receives it telepathically whenever her husband is happy.

There were other results about the kind of content people watched, but the most popular fantasy for Indians is to live in a society that doesn’t believe in bans. Until that happens though, we’re just going to have to make do with the next best thing: buffering.

Life Hack: Get Douchey Or Die Tryin’

(Note: This is my Hindustan Times column dated 5th July 2015.)

First up, I’d like to inform my editor that even though this column arrived sixteen days late, it is not my fault and has nothing to do with the fact that I was neck-deep in a pizza-and-Daredevil marathon. No, what happened was that I’d sent the email across at the same time as a bunch of MPs and the data packets got held up by the ministers’ data packets. The whole network was jammed as my electrons waited patiently for the ministers’ data convoy to pass through. You could tell it was VIP data because it was moving through the cables in a white car with a license plate that read ‘TU KYA UKHAAD LEGA’.

Man, I wish I could really use excuses like that in real life. Given how the VVIP culture works in this country, I’m sure I’ll get the chance someday. There was a flamboyant display of the overlord mentality this week, when reports alleged that an Air India Leh-Delhi flight was delayed and three passengers were deboarded to accommodate Union MoS for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and the deputy CM of J&K, Nirmal Kumar Singh. On the bright side, it’s always nice to hear that an Air India flight got delayed for reasons other than the fact that they’re Air India.

However, the Ministry of Civil Aviation gave a clean chit to the ministers in question, so that’s that. I imagine that in cases where the government has to look into its own, there’s a standard template for the investigation that goes like this:

Investigator:
Did you do the thing that they say you did?

Minister:
Nope.

Investigator:
Cool. So what do we tell everyone?

Minister:
Choose from the following:

1. This is a conspiracy to malign my good name.

2. “Woh mera judwa bhai thha – Laxman Prasad Dashrath Prasad Sharma.”

3. Aila, chest pain.

4. THOSE WHO DISAGREE CAN GO TO PAKISTAN ‘COS PAKISTAN SUCKS AMIRITE GUYS GIMME A CHEER IF YOU THINK PAKISTAN IS COLON OF ASIA

So if the ministers were in the clear, it logically follows that the statement issued by the airline station manager, as well as all the news reports claiming otherwise, were incorrect. This makes perfect sense because as we all know, the airline-media nexus is infamous for spreading rumours about powerful people misusing their power. They need to make up stories because it’s not like real incidents ever happen.

For example, I’m sure last month’s story about an airhostess on a Patna-Delhi Jet flight being manhandled by Bihar MP Pappu Yadav was totes fabricated. Pappu Yadav – a name that belongs in a film where Manoj Bajpayee goes around killing people in some place that looks like it’s yet to discover deodorant – is known for being a sweet chap with only one murder conviction to his name.

So naturally, the airline-media nexus had to ruin his reputation by claiming that he pushed the attendant forcefully and at one point, also took off his chappal and threatened to hit the crew with it. What I love about this story is that there is nothing more Indian than smacking someone with a chappal. This shows what a true patriot Mr. Yadav is and so we must take his word that the airline staff is lying, QED.

These are just two cases. If you google ‘VIP delay flight train India’, Arnab Goswami will jump out of your computer, scream at you for six days as the bottom of your screen bursts into flames. But that’s not the best part about VIP culture. The best part is that if given VIP power, most of us would do pretty much the same thing.

The guy who jumps queues at the ticket counter would also make flights wait for him, if he could. The parents who defend their eve-teaser son with a “Boys will be boys” statement would also get witnesses bumped off if he ever killed someone, if they had the lal batti needed to do so. Basically, everyone is a douchebag – it’s just that some work harder than others. And if that’s not a life goal worth having, then I don’t know what to tell you except GO TO PAKISTAN TAKE THE FIRST FLIGHT OUT UNLESS IT IS DELAYED DUE TO NETA.

India Destroyed After Legalisation Of Same-Sex Marriage

28th June, 2020:

As India descends into the vortex of horror that is social equality, it would serve us well to look back at the manicured hands that pushed us to our doom.

It all began five years ago, on 26th June, 2015, when the US Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage to be a fundamental right across the United States. This verdict dealt a crushing blow to those who insisted that Americans stick to less deadly fundamental rights, like the one that lets them buy assault rifles at Walmart.

But it didn’t end there. Indian radicals, under the influence of Western common sense, started pushing for similar legislation in India, beginning with the scrapping of Section 377. With no respect for the hatred and superstition that binds us all together, they started voicing their demands on social media, overshadowing more important debates such as #23YearsOfSRKSpreadingHisArms and #WhoWillLalitModiScrewOverToday.

This online outrage led the Indian government to take another look at the deeply complex issue of whether or not anyone should give a sh*t about anyone else’s choice of partner. Then the unthinkable happened. Threatened by the prospect of alienating a liberal minority with no real vote share whatsoever, the state buckled and granted legal status to same-sex marriages. And that’s how they invited the wrath of the heavens in a country that was otherwise doing great, all the illiteracy, overpopulation, sectarian violence, corruption and terrorism notwithstanding.

Little did these peacemongers know that they’d started a chain reaction. The Butterfly Effect would hit us hard, and as science tells us, butterflies are just gay locusts.

After the verdict, Indian parents slowly came around, heartened by the fact that gay marriages would get them gay dowry. Scores of same-sex couples across the country tied the knot, including men and women so old, their first date happened before humans had invented the gods that would judge them.

These despots continued with their propaganda about true love and soulmates, knowing full well it would psychologically cripple their younger opponents who were still trying to get that one right-swipe on Tinder. Parents, now faced with the task of explaining equality to their kids, chose the easier option and just shot themselves. This led to a spike in the number of orphans, who were then adopted by gay couples – all part of a master plan orchestrated by the Gay Illuminati.

If you’re alive and reading this today, there’s no way you’ll ever forget what happened after.

The skies turned gay and rained gay fire upon the country. This was followed by a wave of gay tornados, and you know they were gay because the twisters did the YMCA before they attacked. Gay tsunamis, or gaynamis, engulfed our coasts, drowning millions and leaving survivors with advice on not to pair black pants with tan shoes. This was followed by a gay mushroom cloud erupting over the Indian landmass, forever cutting off our sunlight with a blanket of unicorn dust.

In the darkness of gay nuclear winter, every unnatural act you could think of became reality. People were consumed by an urge to marry their pets because that’s just how gay marriage works. Straight people suddenly found their wrist bones missing, causing their hand to flop about like a gay plastic bag in the gay wind. You have no idea how difficult it is for me to sit here and type this, with my hand flopping all over the keyuygrjsbdfuywgr97wy%$$08whfnuefwboard.

But I will not give up. My wife is now a beautiful German Shepherd called Moti, but I will fight. The world around me cowers under the thumb of the gay Pakistani general who took over when we were busy watching Modern Family, but I will not give up. I will not lay down and die.

I will survive.

Dammit, that’s a gay song, isn’t it?

(Note: This is my HT column dated 28th June 2015.)

Keep Calm And Do Yoga For Non-Political Reasons

(Note: This is my HT column dated 21st June 2015.)

Today is International Yoga Day, so I assume you’re reading this while standing on your head and inhaling deeply through your toes. As you know, yoga is an ancient discipline that we’ve loved and respected ever since we learnt that Madonna was doing it. It seems to work great for her too – she doesn’t look a day over dead.

But yoga just got bigger thanks to Narendra Modi, whose 2014 address at the UN general assembly led to June 21 being declared as International Soft Power Day. The main event involves 37500 people performing yoga at Rajpath, which, on Republic Day, is used to showcase our deadliest weapons like nukes and BMWs piloted by Delhi boys. In addition to this, Indian missions are conducting yoga sessions in 192 countries, in a bid to create a world record on Most Number Of People Cramping Because Of Too Much Pizza In Life Day.

At this point, I’d like to add that I’m a yoga expert, having gone through an intensive training period of four sessions. No, seriously. I just took up yoga, and while I’d love to credit Mr. Modi for this, the truth is that much like Pepsi or Chandrachur Singh, it was never a first choice. A little injury I suffered last year prohibits me from taking up the fitness regime that I really like, which is to run and lift and look in the mirror every six seconds to see if my biceps have grown.

I needed something that didn’t look like it would kill me, and yoga was it. The fact that the instructor comes home, thus requiring minimal effort on my part, has nothing to do with my choice. (And now, if the government’s reading this, here’s a timely reminder that I’m really enjoying Ayush Spam Day.)

I have to admit that before I started yoga, I was wary of the pseudo-spiritual hook that’s sometimes used to peddle it. If someone tells me to breathe and stretch a certain way in order to build strength, it makes sense. But if someone tells me that they can see a glowing aura around my head, then I’ve probably been in a radioactive accident and will be turning into a superhero real soon. (This would be a good time to mention that I’m really enjoying the amazing rhetoric around Religious People Missing The Point Day.)

I was also hesitant because from the outside, yoga looks – and how do I say this politely – deathly boring. I mean where is the glamour in sitting in one place and pretending to be a human rubber band? I’m used to moving and grunting to the beat of ‘Aunty Pullss Bula Legi’ in a room that smells of socks and farts. That was real exercise, or so I thought, until I found myself on my back, trying to hold a leg raise and realised that I have the core strength of a grape. And this is just the easy bit – I can’t wait to turn into a hardcore yoga evangelist, at which point people will stop inviting me to parties.

The problem is that yoga doesn’t really have cool brand ambassadors that young people can look up to. There’s Baba Ramdev, who is cool if you are my grandmother, and Shilpa Shetty, who’s cool if you are Shamita Shetty. But other fitness regimes are always drawing new recruits. For example, you can’t walk ten steps without running into some CrossFit guy. You know he does CrossFit because this is how the conversation goes:

Me: Hello.

Guy: I’m great. Life is great when you CrossFit!

Me: Okay…

Guy: You wanna see a burpee? *does 200 burpees in two seconds*

Me: Dude, we’re at your grandfather’s funeral.

Guy: YAARGGHHH I CAN BENCH PRESS DADAJI!!

I’ve already started seeing the benefits of yoga. For example, I now have rock-hard abs and have been cured of my tendency to exaggerate. The asana I most enjoy is the shavasana, which is where you lie down, shut your eyes and zone out, pretty much like the BMC. And on that note, I’d like to say that I’m absolutely thrilled to have witnessed yet another The Government Tells You What To Do Day.

This Column Has Been Sent For Extensive Testing

(Note: This is my HT column dated 7th May 2015.)

Here’s a newsflash: it turns out that everything you like is bad for you. From your favourite cigarette to your favourite heroin dealer, it turns out that everything and everyone is actively trying to kill you, while also charging you money for it.

Of course, we’ve known this fact all along, but it gets ignored harder than a PETA activist handing out flyers. It only really sunk in when it was learnt that several batches of Maggi tested positive for massive amounts of nostalgia, which makes you completely ignore the fact that those noodles may as well be branded ‘Maa Ke Haath Ki Lead Poisoning’.

So much has happened since the first set of allegations cropped up last week. Here are some of the highlights, in no particular order. I guarantee that you’ll be able to read through all of them in two minutes. And your time starts now:

  1. In March 2014, thanks to the efforts of an official from the UP Food Safety and Drug Administration, a Feb 2014 batch of Maggi was tested and found to be pumped with enough lead to classify as an extra in a Michael Bay film. This came as a shock to everyone, especially the part where a U.P government official was found to be doing his job.
  1. In July 2014, Nestle challenged the test results, presumably on the grounds of “Aye it doesn’t count – first ball is always trial ball.” The second test results came in April 2015, and basically said that yep, it was Maggi that drove the Romans insane.
  1. So naturally, the next logical step was to file FIRs against Madhuri Dixit and Amitabh Bachchan for endorsing Maggi. Because everyone knows that brand ambassadors are in charge of manufacturing and quality testing. In fact, their contracts stipulated that Bachchan would stir a large vat of noodles while Madhuri Dixit personally ground up lead pipes and dropped them into the mix, along with the souls of little children.
  1. Another devastating fallout of the testing was that Priety Zinta became relevant again, after she was also named in the FIR for having endorsed Maggi – wait for it – twelve years ago. If you’d forgotten about this, then it’s okay, it’s probably just the lead in your brain. Meanwhile, Madhuri Dixit was probably sitting there thinking, “See, this is why I left India.” This is reportedly the most ridiculous thing to happen to Madhuri’s career, and that’s saying a lot, given that she was once wingmanned by a sanskari pomeranian. Meanwhile, Amitabh Bachchan said that he’d cooperate with the authorities, because he’s too polite to say, “BRO ARE YOU F******* KIDDING ME?”
  1. Then things got worse, with everyone scrambling to make terrible puns involving the word ‘lead’. This is obviously a symptom of lead poisoning so if you see your loved ones doing this, please call a doctor and have them put down.
  1. Faced with a bunch of state bans, Nestle finally pulled Maggi from shelves across India. This is when everyone’s nostalgia kicked in, because Maggi is pretty much a part of our bloodstream, along with things like TB and corruption. Everyone has a favourite recipe for Maggi – even those who are otherwise capable of burning down the kitchen while boiling water. Some people like it soupy. Other people like it dry, and to those people I say, what the hell is wrong with you, you monsters?

It’s not just Maggi. If you told me that half the stuff I consumed as a kid was toxic, I would have no reason to doubt you. For example, there’s no way Goldspot could legally taste that good. But nobody cared because that orange Goldspot tongue was our version of the post-coital cigarette. Simply put, our lack of standards is a reminder of simpler times, before stoopid facts came in and ruined our toxic eating habits.

And with that, we come to the end of two minutes. If it took you longer to read it, then it’s probably all the lead slowing you down. Go take it up with Madhuri.

Welcome To The Greatest City On Earth. Conditions Apply.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 31st May 2015.)

Earlier this week, a Muslim woman named Misbah Quadri alleged that she was forced to vacate her rented apartment in Wadala, Mumbai, because of her faith. This story came as a shock to exactly zero people, because if you’ve spent more than ten minutes in India, you know that bigotry and hypocrisy are our finest talents, second only to telling people that they’ve put on weight yaar.

But then came the twist: it was reported that the building she was evicted from houses other Muslim residents who’ve never faced such problems, and that she was evicted after a spat with her broker that had nothing to do with religion. If that’s true, then congratulations to Misbah for arming people with one more reason to turn down minority tenants.

This contradiction gave a bunch of people the chance to crow ‘SEE SHE’S LYING SHE’S A PAID COMMUNAL AGENT THERE IS NO BIAS BOOYEAH!’. That’s like saying that ‘I know a woman who filed a false dowry claim so
‘Honda City ke saath ek biwi free’ doesn’t happen.’

It’s not just religious grounds – the housing market is a basically a buffet of bias. You can pick the ideal tenant qualities like you’re designing an avatar in a video game. When you unlock the highest level, you get an upper-caste married MNC-employed couple with kids who cracked the JEE while still in the womb.

Of course, bias isn’t the exclusive domain of the majority. Like young women four drinks down at a party, it goes both ways. And you can see why. It’s because equality is terrifying.

I mean what if some heathen starts cooking meat in the privacy of his home, with complete disregard for the noses of people who live two floors up? What if someone starts drinking alcohol in his own house, not caring about some medieval definition of sin as imposed by the followers of Magic Sky People? What if kids see young men and women freely visiting each other and conclude that this is normal and does not mean that a brothel is being run on the premises? Does it not shake you to the core when you realise that people outside the radius of your tiny brain give zero shits about your prejudice?

What is amazing is that these are the same people who, when they’re abroad, will whine about how white people call them Apu-loving towel-heads. This is how Indians sound like when they’re abroad:

Guy 1: That guy just called me a darkie. White people are so racist!

Guy 2: Bhai, Indians are best. We treat visitors like god only!

And this is what they sound like when they see a black guy in India:

Guy 1: Aye Negro, how much for cocaine.

Black Guy: Dude, I’m Chris Gayle.

Guy 2: I loved you as Nick Fury!

If I ever own property – which will happen once I figure out how to monetize oversleeping – I too will have a set of rules and questions for prospective tenants. It’ll look something like this:

Do you watch Game of Thrones? Do you read Game of Thrones? Can you STFU about spoilers? Okay, we’re cool.

Are you gay? Are you straight? Are you turned on by Shrek soft toys? When is Ranbir marrying Katrina? None of this is my business, so carry right on.

Do you drink? Do you get drunk and quote cheesy Bollywood lines? Can you sing Hai Huku Hai Huku Hai Hai, and wake up the next day with not an ounce of shame? If so, welcome to the party.

Are you a pain at the dinner table? Will you put on a hazmat suit if the guy next to you orders meat? Or conversely, will you make stupid ghaas-phoos jokes if there’s a vegetarian at the table? Either way, I hope you catch a disease that requires you to only eat karela for the rest of your life.

Tina Fey or Amy Poehler? (There is no wrong answer here. Unless you say Comedy Circus, in which case you can go live in Archana Puran Singh’s mouth. It’s bigger than most Mumbai apartments anyway.)

There you have it. That was pretty simple. Now if only somebody could just gift me some property, that would be great. It’s an open offer to anyone reading this. Bigots needn’t apply.