Clothes Maketh A Man, Shopping Destroyeth Him

I like making to-do lists, because it gives me yet another excuse to not do the things on my to-do list. Here’s what my average list of tasks looks like:

  • Finish that work thing.
  • Pay that bill.
  • And that other bill.
  • Your baap will pay the third bill or what?
  • WTF. Burn credit card.
  • Clean an old person’s toenails.
  • Read War and Peace. Or benchpress it. Whatever’s possible.
  • Record clips of babies crying. Play on loop for six hours.
  • Try and reason with a Modi fan.
  • Go shopping for clothes.

So clearly, even though it’s important, shopping for clothes is a complete waste of time, just like shaving, or Rahul Gandhi voting for himself. I’m not saying this because I’m some stereotypical male who’s happy to walk around in a T-shirt that’s just a bunch of holes held together by deodorant. No, I like being to sport a look that’s not sourced from the Engineering Hostelite Who Had To Choose Between Soap and Cigarettes and Guess What Won collection.

It’s just that to get to this point, you need to put the rest of your life on hold for about three days. This applies more so when you’re a regular guy who does not want to look like Douchebag McHairGel. Take, for example, jeans. There was a time when you could just walk in to a store and walk out with what you needed, having exchanged a grand total of six words with the salesman (“Dark blue jeans, waist size: beer”).

But now it entails a full-blown conversation wherein you have to explain to the salesman that no, you don’t want the pair with the shiny stuff on the back-pocket even thought it is “laytusst style” among guys who want their butts to be used as navigational aids by seafarers, and no, you don’t want the pre-ripped, pre-faded nonsense because that look needs to be earned after years of Nirvana and mediocre pot, and c’mon man, why would you show me something designed to fit a six-year-old boy made of twigs?

Shopping for t-shirts is better because you have more options at idiocy. I don’t know how or when it happened, but at some point, somebody decided that men’s t-shirts lacked the Eurotrash factor, so they called a guy, who slapped a tiger logo onto things and called it Ed Hardy, like some sort of French Shiv Sainik. This inspired an entire range of chest-vomit that when worn, causes you to invite Bhojpuri starlets to your home for coffee and compromise.

Then there are sport tees plastered with vague inspirational quotes like ‘Fly high’, ‘Slay Sun’ and ‘Gonad Fire’ – all designed to give off the impression that you’re an athlete when in reality, you often sprain your back while picking up nachos off the floor. This leaves only one option: superhero and other pop-culture tees. It’s a look I sport often, because failure to do so will lead to excommunication from the Man-Child Club of Bandra And Nearby Suburbs But Not the Eastern Part, Duh.

(Pro Tip: Team those tees up with shorts and flip-flops, and it turns into an outfit for every occasion. Drinks with friends? Yup. Formal client meeting? Sure. Funeral? If it’s a white tee, then yes. Romantic date? Doesn’t matter. Laptops don’t judge.)

This is still better than the Tantra phase in college, when we all thought we were so cool with t-shirt slogans like ‘Taj Mahal ViaAgra – Man’s Greatest Erection For A Woman’ or ‘1 7 2 2 14’ (read that in Hindi to appreciate the classy comedy). Thankfully, I managed to not hit the next level, which included gems like ‘Virginity is myths… life f**** everyone!!’ (Plato, I believe) and the engineering favourite, ‘99% of girls are beautiful……. rest are in my college’ (which was not only sexist and demeaning, but also true).

People who once wore that have realised the folly of their ways and have moved on to classier designs, like Being Human, the sartorial version of rabies. Meanwhile, people like me will continue to fund entities like Marvel, DC, the Simpsons, House, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Arrested Development and if they’re tosser hipster enough, then Captain Vyom and Bal Narendra too. Say hello if you see us around. We’ll be the guys looking for pants.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 13th Apr 2014.)

Cheaters Never Prosper, Unless They’re Really Good

I’ve always held doctors in high regard, simply because of the sheer effort it takes to spend about eighty years in college so that one day, they may contribute to society by easily scoring whatever mind-altering pills their degrees have driven them to.

In keeping with this glorious We-Shall-Overcome tradition, two medical students from Bangalore made the news this week, after they were caught using an electronic cheating vest worth 25,000. This was a huge embarrassment for the concerned institution, i.e. The Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, because it is blasphemous to use that name and the word ‘cheating’ in the same sentence.

Here’s how it went: First, they put on a cheating vest, or as a vendor website puts it, a Bluetooth Banyan. Seriously, that’s what it’s called, thereby leading to awkward statements like, “My nipples will now interface with your dongle.” Over these, they wore shirts with concealed phone pockets. There’s a microphone built into the banyan, and it also comes with a skin-coloured, difficult-to-spot Bluetooth earpiece. The procedure is simple: Relay questions to your friend by muttering into your banyan, get the answers through the earpiece, and voila! A former vegetable walks out of his wheelchair and moons Boman Irani, while Gracy Singh ditches you to do quality cinema like Deshdrohi.

See, we never did this as students. We had to cheat the old-fashioned way, by smuggling in chits full of information written in a font size of ‘May Cause You To Resemble Chinese Person Focusing On Ant’. (No, not because it’s dinner. What’s wrong with you?)

But at my engineering college, people worked hard on cheating, especially in the Department of Leaking Exam Papers. If you had the good sense to take up arts or mass media or other such hippie/socialite courses, then please understand that there was a very good reason for cheating: It’s because no one in engineering college wants to study. Everything’s boring, and while all your non-engineer friends are busy exploring the back of some girl’s throat, you’re stuck there typing ‘80085’ into a calculator, and as exam day draws nearer, you realise that you’re not going to make it because you haven’t even bought the textbooks, so you succumb to temptation and switch on late-night Sun TV.

No, wait. I meant that you go find the college fixer. Every college has at least one such student who claims he can get stuff done, because “apna setting hai re”, with everyone from the peon to Zeus. This guy would offer to sort out your attendance issues by buying professors their favourite booze (not fussy – most will drink phenyl if it’s free) or commit a serious criminal offence simply because he liked your wallet.

I didn’t use their services, because I couldn’t afford it and was too much of a wuss never needed to, but I did tag along with friends for the meetings. The fixer assured you that he had a guy on the inside, which meant that he knew a guy who grew up in the same village as the dog that once peed on a clerk who knew Leo DiCaprio and could hire him to infiltrate the dreams of the paper-setter. Term after term, people paid in advance for leaked copies that never came, after which they called the fixer a cheat and irony took a chainsaw to the face. These engineers have real jobs today, most probably at the BMC.

It’s worse to hear of medical students cheating. I mean at least have the decency to earn your degree before defrauding people. I can imagine these doctors in the OT, wearing a Bluetooth Banyan, consulting a friend about the patient lying in front of them:

Doctor: (whispering into banyan) OK, so I see the tumour. Or maybe it’s a kidney. I’m not sure.

Friend: Describe it.

Doctor: Uh, it’s small and round-ish and – OMG IT MOVED!!

Friend: Dude. That’s a baby.

It’s bad enough that people in life-and-death professions, such as doctors and pilots, are now younger than me. Every time I see a young pilot greet me from behind his Aviators, I automatically assume he’s hungover from a night of chugging liquefied cocaine. So at the very least, I’d like to believe that they got there on merit. If any doctors or pilots are reading this, please don’t cheat. It may cause high scores, which will lead to terrible things like an MBA. If you’re studying engineering, then get in touch because apna setting hai re.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 7th July 2013.)