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.

I Went To Iraq And All I Got Was Arrested

You’d think that there’s nothing funny about ISIS and you’d be right. ISIS is a cancer feeding off a militant belief in a fairytale and is as joke-friendly as cancer can be. But even so, there’s something to be said about a group that the Al-Qaeda formally dissociated with almost a year ago on the grounds that they were too batshit insane. And let’s be honest – cancer is kinda funny when it happens to a**holes.

Take, for example, the 24-year-old Mehdi Masroor Biswas, the Bangalore-based engineer who was arrested this week for running @ShamiWitness, described as one of the most influential ISIS propaganda accounts in the world. His tweets, seen over two million times, exhorted jihadists from all over to give up their lives and move to Iraq to fight for ISIS. All this while he sat around in a comfy MNC, sipping on Starbucks and fantasising about that one useless but hot chick in HR who exists in every office.

I cannot think of something more Indian than that level of laziness. It must take a spectacular sense of entitlement to have the following Twitter conversation:


Go to Iraq and fight, young soldier! Screw logic! Logic is Satan’s roofie!




Go get ‘em!




Uhh, actually I’m just going to hang here.




Sorry yaa, I signed up for Bangalore marathon. And new Modern Family episode after that. And then office dinner at TGI Friday, so can’t ditch for obvious reasons.




But you have a fun death! 😀 😀 #kthxbai

Mehdi apparently said that he would’ve gone to Iraq, if not for his family who were financially dependent on him. It’s sweet that he protected them by staying put and serving as a Khera for terrorists. I’m sure there was a point at which he even packed his bags for Iraq, but gave up after he realised that Banglore airport was six light years away from Bangalore city.

If ISIS wants a good online presence, it shouldn’t be looking at India. Most Indian brand managers look at social media the same way toddlers looks at laptops – it’s new and shiny and they really want to use it, but you know they’re probably just going to poop all over it. I can picture this guy saying things like, “If this tweet gets 10000 RTs, God will ban alcohol and schools.” And don’t even get me started on #Qurfies.

On the bright side, as a journalist friend pointed out, techies getting arrested for terror is a boon for parents’ views on liberal arts. It makes sense. If you want to study arts but your parents insist on engineering, tell them that you’d be recruit-proof as a philosophy major. (Also, salary-proof, but that’s a different story. ) Seriously, why would ISIS need you? What can you do – bludgeon the enemy with your 1500-page thesis on The Nihilism In Nietzsche’s Nipples?

Another bit of hilarity came from Areeb Majeed, the 23-year-old from Kalyan – one of four friends – who’d sneaked off to Iraq to cut people’s heads off, thus proving that Indians will go anywhere for foreign placement. Just how rubbish is Kalyan that Iraq seems like a better option?

Majeed returned this month, complaining about the fact that he was made to clean toilets there. I, for one, am shocked to know that a bunch of Arabs would make an Indian carry out menial tasks for no pay. But I get his indignance. I totally do. Beheadings, bombings and general psychotic behaviour is okay, but you can’t just ask an Indian guy to do some chores. He’s not used to it. No matter how poor they are, Indian men are used to always having a servant around. She’s called Mom.

Another one of Majeed’s friends is on his way back, maybe because he didn’t get to sleep with the goat that he fancied. Just like Majeed, he’ll be arrested as soon as he lands. So without meaning to, these guys actually did end up cleaning some shit off our streets.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 14th Dec 2014.)

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.)

Boys Will Be Boys Will Be Bachelors

By the time you read this, I will be in Amsterdam, drowning in thirty seven types of beer and looking for the meaning of life in coffee shops that serve famous local flora like, um, tulips. But I’ll have you know that this is no frivolous trip. No, it is a noble excursion that young men embark upon when one of their own decides to leave the fold to join the ranks of the wedded. It is then that we, as righteous defenders of the faith, must take our brother on one last quest involving vomit and memory loss.

The concept of bachelor parties came about when men decided that they needed a socially acceptable reason to act stupid. (This was also the reasoning behind the first parliament.) The first bachelor party took place sometime during the Stone Age, when a bunch of neanderthals realised that their friend had begun to throw around phrases like ‘flower arrangement’ and ‘saree shopping’ in conversation, so they clubbed him over the head because strip clubs hadn’t been invented yet.

Thankfully men have changed since then, in the sense that we don’t have body lice anymore. Now we also have a ridiculously high party standard to beat, thanks to movies like The Hangover. This means that the party, at the very least, must feature one guy doing an Ajay Devgn-style split atop two tigers, while another guy performs a double-bypass on himself using a fork, just because everyone else dared him to.

Of course, all of this is a cakewalk compared to the visa process that will actually make things happen. If you’re a young single Indian male travelling to Europe for the first time, you might need to dance around a fair bit for your Schengen (German word for “You’re probably a terrorist but give us your money anyway”). The documents you’ll need to submit include, but are not limited to, tax records from the time you got your first piggy bank, a letter from your employer confirming that you are a legitimate employee and not just some homeless guy who hangs around the office because he likes PPTs, a character certificate personally signed by the Pope and a vial containing exactly three Higgs bosons.

This particular trip is special because it means that one of my oldest friends will soon enter into the sacred institution of marriage for the longest time, Amsterdam has been the final destination on the average Indian boy’s Three Point Debauchery plan. It begins with Goa which, when you’re in college, seems like Hedonism Central, and it truly is, if your idea of hedonism involves being stabbed in the eyes by the sight of banians and Lux kachchas. Once you’re out of college and have made a bit of money, you hit Thailand, and it is at once bizarre, serene and a heap of fun. Where else can you see a post-op tranny shoot darts out of her eyes because we cannot mention the actual body part in a family newspaper?

And that brings us back to Amsterdam, a place that I know very little about, except that it has canals and cakes and a red-light district that is run more efficiently and does more for society than, say, the G8. Because of this, a mere mention of the city’s name causes Indian men to go a little nuts. Just say the word and everyone from your friends to acquaintances to your doctor, your rickshaw guy and the local godman will start sniggering and making rhythmic hand gestures that make it look like they’re unclogging an invisible toilet with a plunger. Of course, what they mean to say is, badonka donka – don’t forget to bargain – donk. Except that this isn’t really my thing, because I have principles.

I’ll wait till you’re done laughing.

Done? Okay. So like I was saying, it’s a matter of principle, because any idiot can throw down some cash and buy the company of a woman. All this says is that you’re rich and you will not let an infection get in your way. But the real skill lies in wooing a woman with charm and wit, to the point where she cannot help but say, “Look, you’re a really nice guy but I’m looking to focus on my career right now, so can we just be friends?”

Anyway, it’s time to head to the airport now. It’s a pity that I’m gone only for a week, although they say that you can make that week feel like a month, provided you get your hands on the right tulips.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 16th March 2014.)

May I Have The Pleasure Of Stepping On Your Foot?

So I went to a party on the weekend, and it was awesome, because there was music and dancing. But it also sucked, because there was music and dancing. What I’m saying is that I cannot dance. And this is no ordinary lack of talent. No siree. I am unable to dance in the same way that Vasant Dhoble is unable to distinguish between regular women and prostitutes.

But before we get into that, let’s just accept a few facts. Firstly, all the smooth, sensual dance forms that yuppies go nuts about today – be it the tango, the mambo, the salsa, whatever – are just extended foreplay. Also, for most men, dance is just an excuse to put on some music and rub up against a woman in the hope of seducing her. This is supposed to be hot, but when I put on my iPod and do the same thing on the bus, it’s suddenly frowned upon. OK relax, I’m kidding. I don’t use an iPod.

It’s no wonder that women love the idea of dance as foreplay. Because women love doing simple things in the most complicated way possible: “OK, before I hook up with this guy, I want him to spin me around 500 times, dip me, hold me, thrill me, fling me, lift me, bench-press me, hoist me up like a bazooka and pretend to fire RPGs out of my bum.”

This is a problem for me, because the only dance I know (and badly at that) is Bollywood dance, which is a certified woman repellent. The only way it could be more repulsive is if I wore a necklace made out of all the female toes I’ve stepped on.

And it’s not just me – most Indian men are rubbish at dance. We have a fixed set of steps that get increasingly stupid with each drink, and we just don’t care. Our approach to dance – be it at an office party, wedding, birthday or funeral – consists of various gems.

First up is The Nagin. You know a step is a winner when you see it being performed by sweaty guys at every engineering festival. This wonderful tribute to Sridevi involves raising your hands up above your head in the shape of a cobra’s hood, and swaying about with the grace of Hrithik Roshan. From Guzarish.

And then we have the Indian Man’s Overbite. No pelvic thrust is complete without it. It involves scrunching up your nose, and biting your lip seductively in the hope that the woman you’re trying to impress has a Tinnu Anand fetish.

Soon it’s time for the step that you’ve seen every uncle do at every party ever: the shuffle-about-while-balancing-alcohol-filled-glass-on-head step. The only time it is okay to balance drinks on your head is if you’re a poor village woman who has to trek 100 kilometres to the nearest bar to stock up on booze.

As the night progresses further, we unleash The Chammak Challo. Arms outstretched, and hands rotating as if to say, “Who knew turning imaginary taps could be so much fun!” While doing this, in my head, I’m convinced I’m Shahrukh Khan, whereas I actually look like a hawker offering you a breast exam.

I blame our lack of style on India. Our culture has no room for sensual dances. We have bhangra which, while fun, is about as sensual as a gunshot wound. At some point, they stop bothering with lyrics and switch to ‘bhhrrrrrwaaah’. Every time you make that sound, somewhere in Punjab, a buffalo gets turned on.

In Maharashtra, we have the Lezim, which is performed using what I can only describe as musical nunchucks. You should learn it if your lifetime ambition is to be featured in the background of a DD Sahyadri documentary.

And what in the name of holy Mohanlal moustache is kathakali? It’s a dude with green face paint who looks really angry. Then again, I’d be angry too if my face looked like something the Hulk might dig out of his nose.

I’ve actually decided to stop being a boor and to “get with it”. I’m going to learn as many cool dances as I can. And ladies, if you’re paired up with me in dance class, remember: wear survival boots.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 17th June 2012.)