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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.)

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Gadzooks! Egad! They Killed Carrot Top!

Archie Andrews, aka the Ron Weasley of Riverdale High, was killed off in this week’s issue of ‘Life with Archie’, causing a whole generation to go, “Who the hell is still reading Archie?” His death gave us 20-somethings yet another reason to whine about how old we are and how we’re *this* close to popping it and being discovered weeks later, our six pet cats feeding on our corpses (which, obviously, would be hunched over a laptop reading a listicle about how old we are.)

I gave up on that self-defeating form of nostalgia once I realised that I would never again be younger than the world’s most popular athletes, musicians and MMS stars. But even so, it was a little weird to hear about Archie and the way he died – shot dead by a gun nut. I guess they wanted to stick to their core idea of Americana. The only way it could’ve been more American is if Archie’s heart had exploded under the weight of bacon grease. But I guess they’re saving that one for Jughead.

If that storyline sounds very different from what you grew up reading, it’s because it is. Life with Archie is a recent spin-off that focusses on the Riverdale gang dealing with modern-day life as adults. The tone is darker, with an emphasis on realistic adult themes, like divorce, illness and the urge to smack anyone who wears baggy pants.

I haven’t read Life with Archie, because if I wanted to experience modern adult life, I could just, y’know, wake up. I wonder what would happen if other formerly-carefree characters from our childhood got their own realistic spin-offs. GI: Joe would just be called PTSD, Johnny Bravo would be getting herpes on Jersey Shore and Captain Planet would meet with a “tragic accident” on a deserted highway because some builder wanted to make a mall out of dolphin carcasses.

Of course, since Life with Archie is a spin-off, the makers have assured us that Archie will still live on as a high-schooler in the regular comic books. Even those have been updated for modern times, which is why they have an Indian character called – you’ll never guess his name – Raj Patel. It’s like every white character in Bollywood being called Bob Smith. (It’s only a matter of time before Indians start sharing feel-good messages about how the UNESCO named Raj Patel as the Best Comic Book Character In The World, and that Jughead is derived from the Sanskrit word, ‘jugaad’.)

One reason why Archie comics were a huge hit in India is because they were our introduction to the wondrous world of America, as imagined by Americans stuck in a time-warp. Archie first made an appearance in 1941, and if you try to read old issues on the website today, you’ll see a disclaimer that states, and I quote, “The issue is a product of its time and may contain material that is offensive to some of its readers.”

That just leads me to imagine the worst storylines possible, like Archie dressing up in blackface for a school play called ‘Why Broads Belong In The Kitchen’, while the commie-hating Mr. Lodge wins an arms contract to kill “those gosh-darned Jap slants”. Or something even more ridiculous, like Jughead being forced to deny his real sexuality.

Oh, wait.

It’s funny to think that the world of Archie was so aspirational in the ‘90s, given that Riverdale was just another boring suburb. It had a burger place and a mall. That’s it. Even Kurla would spit on it today, and that place has rats the size of scooters. I can’t imagine the kids of today reading Archie, but that’s because they can’t read anymore. Wow, that last line makes me sound really old. You guys go ahead and think about Archie – I’m gonna go adopt some cats.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 20th July 2014.)

How Do You Spell GOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLL?

Woohoo, it’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here! And by it, I mean malaria. Also, the world cup kicked off this week, bringing cheer to millions of die-hard football fans across India parts of Goa, Kerala, Bengal, the North East and Novy Kapadia. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the pre-game show on Sony Six, called Café Rio, featured renowned football expert John Abraham, whose presence caused much outrage among people who like football and also common sense.

I’m told John played a lot of football as a kid, because when you’re a Bandra kid called John, what choice do you have? But I can’t really picture him playing football. He’d dive everytime his face was exposed to sunlight, and just lie there, howling in pain until a medic brought him a tube of Fair and Handsome, after which he’d start moaning about his sweaty pits.

Now I’m no expert on programming, but if people are staying up after midnight to watch the game, they really don’t care about your token roped-in-to-attract-preteen-girls-from-Faridabad Bollywood celeb. Do the fans a favour and get a real expert, like Shibani Dandekar.

But enough cribbing about the pre-game telecast, because now it’s time for more important stuff, like cribbing about the opening ceremony. It featured a performance of the official World Cup song, ‘We Are One’, by Pitbull aka Latino Honey Singh, and Jennifer Lopez, who was a super choice by people who’re stuck in 2002. But the opening ceremony was great overall, assuming the theme they were going for was Annual Day Function At An Average Indian School. I’m pretty sure there were people standing in line for cold samosas, warm Pepsi and if they were lucky, a slice of Monginis cake, which was basically sweetened sandpaper.

Now I can’t wait to watch the 2022 World Cup opening ceremony in Qatar. It’ll probably feature gladiator-style battles between bonded labourers fighting each other for a glass of water, while sheikhs sit back and use their passports as roach material.

(Fun fact: The official world cup footballs are called Brasuca and have been manufactured in Pakistan. Yep, the football is Pakistani, which means it’ll be great at sneaking through defences.)

This is a great opportunity for Indians to learn about Brazil, because as of now, we’re not very familiar with the country. Here’s a list of things Indians know about Brazil:

– There’s a famous statue there that’s doing the Shahrukh arms-wide-open pose.
– Dhoom 2 was shot there.
– Breasts.

It is a foregone conclusion that if you ask Indian guys about Brazil, they will mention the Rio carnival girls. Sure, they may also talk about favelas and the impact that ‘City of God’ had on them, but that’s only because they don’t want you to know that they’re picturing gyrating, bedecked lady bits as they speak to you.

While I’m all for a clothing-optional party, it’s still a little weird to see women dressed in nothing but giant, multi-coloured plumage. It’s really strange to get turned on by something that looks like a peacock got implants. (Of course I say this now, but as kids, we all sneakily watched carnival girls on Fashion TV. Also because they were the only women on that channel who looked like they ate regular food, as opposed to the standard model meal of diet cocaine.)

The world cup is also a great time for people like me – basically a puddle of carbs glued to a couch – to yell out things like “ RUN FASTER, YOU LAZY PIECE OF SH*T!” at athletes with a body fat percentage of minus six. Glory be damned, that is the real beauty of the game, and that is why I’ll be watching until the cup is kissed by the one who deserves it the most: John Abraham.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 15th June 2014.)

Pimp it up!

You know those nagging feelings when you can’t remember whether or not you’ve done something that needs to be done, like say turn off the geyser, or lock the door, or look like an ass-clown in front of a couple of hundred people?

Well, I realised I’d never done the last bit, which is why I signed up to perform at the the Weirdass Hamateur Night at Blue Frog a couple of months ago. 15 amateur comics, 2 minutes each. This is what happened:

CAUTION: Liberal sprinkling of cuss words. NSFW.

Thankfully, no one asked for a refund.

Also, as mentioned in the previous post, some people thought it would be a good idea to give me a regular column in the Hindustan Times. The following links will tell you what I’ve been doing with it:

RE-PIMPAGE: Here is the link to my first HT article, about how I was humiliated by a townie, and why Andheri sucks.

This next one’s about baby-sitting a white female tourist in Bombay. Or as a friend put it, ‘Walking your foreigner.

In the third one, I take on the Mumbaikar vs. North Indian issue. However, my take is nowhere as erudite or classy as Deshdrohi.

Next, I pay a heartfelt tribute to Mumbai’s shady bars, where the kids of today are turning into the alcoholics of tomorrow.

Finally, in this last piece I talk about being nose-raped by a virus.

Alright, that’s enough attention-whoring for now.

Over and out.

Raju Ban Gaya Columnist

Alright so this post should have come up a few days earlier, but procrastination seems to be the general trend around here. I just popped in to say that I’ve recently started writing a fortnightly humour column for the Hindustan Times. The first piece was published this Sunday, and you can read it here.

I don’t really have much more to say now, except that this is important to me. So, loyal readers (yes I mean the two of you, plus the porn bots) please do the online equivalent of flinging your underwear on stage in appreciation, that is, check out the column and spread the word.

P.S. Also, for more frequent updates about general rubbish, follow me on http://twitter.com/stupidusmaximus