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.

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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.

Drop That Gum And Nobody Gets Hurt!

I spent the last ten days in Singapore, because apparently I am on a quest to find places sweatier than Mumbai. It’s always fun to perform in Singapore, especially the part where you compare it to Mumbai and then weep when you see a planned, organised city working like a well-oiled machine. It’s all clean straight lines and right angles and manicured hedges, as if the god who designed it had OCD. Mumbai, on the other hand, seems like a god stuffed buildings and slums and people up his nose and then sneezed really hard in the direction of west India.

As you may know, Singapore is the number one destination for NRIs who weren’t good enough to make it to America, UK or Australia. It’s like they looked at a map and thought, “I want to live in the first world, but I also like worrying about body odour 24/7.” Besides, everyone knows that the NRI hierarchy is US, Canada, Europe, Australia, Singapore and if you hate fun, the Middle East. (There’s also Sri Lanka, but they drink tea and look like us, so it doesn’t count.)

But for all its brisk efficiency, Singapore’s lacking a bit on the PR front. People outside the place have very little to offer in terms of opinion. For example, if a foreigner tells his friends he’s coming to Mumbai, he’ll get a bunch of reactions, all along the lines of “You’ll be fine as long as you don’t eat the food, drink the water or breathe the air. Have fun!” If he says he’s going to Delhi, he might hear things like, “What’s wrong with you – just go to Bombay.”

But when you tell people you’re going to Singapore, all you hear is “Dude, it’s damn stupid –  you can’t eat chewing gum there.” Over years, the legend of the Forbidden Chewing Gum has grown to the point where you hear passengers on inbound flights make small about it, saying things like “I heard if you chew gum na, they arrest you, fine you, wheel-clamp your jaw, chokeslam your baby and then make you give the CAT.”

(Just for perspective, you know who allows you to chew gum without consequence? ISIS. Not that I’m implying anything.)

Another fun fact about Singapore – which I discovered while researching material about the place – is that they sell the largest bottles of Yakult probiotic drinks in South East Asia. I’m not even kidding. Are you not totally amazed and freaking out about this totally awesome fact right now? This is how you know a city is straitlaced – when its trivia involves gas. It’s amazing – even the bacteria here know not to step out of line.

Singapore is a picture of what India could possibly be if Indians actually obeyed the law. This will happen when the law is implemented effectively, without bias, so I’m guessing the year LOL A.D.

It’s so weird to see Indian people abroad not turn every street into death by ammonia. Or to see them queue up without a fuss, especially because back home, they look at queues the same way suicide bombers look at insurance – pretty damn pointless. Then again, they follow the rules not because they think it’s the right thing to do, but because if they don’t, the law will smite them harder than Samuel L. Jackson smiting serpents on an aircraft.

I imagine that all this law-abiding nonsense must get frustrating for NRIs. I’m sure that when they come back to India, the first thing they do is not clear customs or hug their loved ones, but just get out of the plane and spend fifteen minutes hocking up a giant glob of phlegm, which they launch down the runway like a bowling ball, tears of joy running down their face, as ‘Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera’ starts playing out of nowhere. And then they smell the ammonia and pass out.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 24th May 2015.)

I Got The Summertime, Summertime Madness

I love the romantic image of summer that’s been perpetuated through the ages by white people who will never know what it’s like to be a human popsicle in India. You see it all the time in the form of stock photos of bikini babes and dudes on sailboats, sipping rainbow-coloured drinks and grinning because they’re obviously in the south of France, where visas are denied to sweaty people.

I’d love to see the more realistic image, where the sailboat dude is trying to get an auto on Linking Road while a torrent of back-sweat pretends to be Magellan and goes exploring in places that are otherwise explored on incognito mode. I’d like to see him shake hands with people all day, this harmless social greeting now transformed into a Woodstock for germs, which you counter with routine hygiene measures like cutting off your hand.

Don’t mind me. I’m just cranky because I stepped out for ten minutes and now I feel like something the cat dragged in out of a coal mine. Thankfully, I have science to back up and quantify my whining. Humidity levels reached 81% in South Mumbai this week, a phenomenon scientists refer to as ‘Just Stay Home And French-Kiss Your AC’.

This is how I know I’ll never be a great person. On the one hand, you had people like Nelson Mandela, who stayed unbroken after 27 years in prison. And then there’s me. I wouldn’t even need to be tortured or anything. If you want to get state secrets out of me, just put me in a room with a fan that the bai forgets to turn on after jhaadu. In three seconds, I’d confess to everything from killing Kennedy to being that guy who let the dogs out.

Another thing better people do is realise that they’re so much more privileged than most people out there. It seems a bit stupid to tweet updates like ‘UGHH SO SWEATY I COULD IRRIGATE HALF OF INDIA WITH MY ARMPITS’ and then look out of your AC cab to see a handcart puller lugging a load the size of a house without cribbing because he doesn’t have a Twitter account the luxury of doing so.

The only bright side of summer is the arrival of mangoes, a fruit known worldwide for its ability to drive Indians nuts. But I have to mess it up by being possibly the only Indian person who couldn’t care less about Katrina’s make-out partner. It makes things awkward in social situations. There’s always that moment where someone lovingly serves you a mango dish for dessert, and you tell them that you would rather eat your toes. As a result, I’m less welcome at dinners than the one friend who gets drunk and starts saying things like, “I’m not a bigot, but the problem with *those* people na…”

I guess the only good thing about summer is that you see way more women in summer dresses, which is really the hottest, most bad-poetry-inducing thing women can do. There’s just something about that look that makes you ignore the glossy finish that all Mumbaikars come in. As men, we have nothing even remotely classy going on. Our greatest fashion achievement is successfully resisting the urge to take off our pants in public.

There’s about six weeks of this nonsense left, so it would be best to remember the wise words of Plato who said, “Screw this, I’m going to the hills.” Unfortunately for Bombay people that means Lonavala, the hill station brought to you by Maganlal Chikki, starring Maganlal Chikki and introducing Baby Maganlal Chikki. What I’m saying is, just take a break and go to a nicer place, like a coal mine.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 10th May 2015.)