If You’re Indian And You Know It, Watch TV!

Friends, Indians, countrymen and six million illegal Bangladeshi immigrants living under my sink, I want to wish you all a very happy Independence Day. Independent India is soon going to be sixty five years old, or to put it in politician years, foetus. It’s weird to think that some of the people ruling us today were around during the British Raj, dreaming of the day when India would no longer be under the thumb of a white lady. They’re still dreaming.

Anyway, it’s a great time to be Indian, as long as you’re not Kashmiri, North-Eastern, poor, Dalit, a minority, a farmer, female or worse, from Kolkata. On the bright side, we did put up our best show ever at the Olympics, especially with Mary Kom teaching India about grit, grace and more importantly, Manipur. She has inspired a whole generation of women, such as small-time model Gehna Vashisht who went nude to celebrate the spirit of India and Photoshop. Having googled Gehna Vashisht, I can honestly say that I’m reminded of Helen of Troy, because Gehna’s is the face that launched a thousand STDs.

This year, as always, we will indulge in our usual display of patriotism and military might, also known as Ek Tha Tiger. Fun fact: Pakistan had reportedly banned the promos of the film, which means that every man, woman, child and goat in Pakistan has seen them. Let’s face it – the only Pakistani ban that worked was the one they put on democracy. Anyway, the promos were banned because Pakistan felt that they showed the ISI in a bad light. Hey, you know what really shows the ISI in a bad light? Kargil.

Meanwhile, our idea of celebrating freedom is nursing a hangover while watching patriotic films on TV. And by patriotic, I mean any film that shows us pulverizing our neighbour, be it in ’71, ’99 or even ’47, when Sunny Deol killed all of Pakistan with a hand-pump and got Amisha Patel in return. If you’ve ever seen Pakistani women, you know that is a rubbish trade off.

Then at some point, you take a break from the movies and start surfing news channels, and this is what it sounds like:

*CLICK*

Rajdeep: Hello and welcome to CNN-IBN. The hard-hitting question we’re asking today is ‘Is Independent India A Sexy Sexagenarian?’ And to answer that, we’ve dusted off and brought out our famous historian, Ramachandra Guha.

Guha: Before we answer this question, we must recollect the events of August 1947, 1912 GMT, 33 degrees East, 72 degrees North, when Pt. Nehru took a deep breath, and uttered the now-historic words, “Boss, Dadar kis side aayega?”

 *CLICK*

Hello and welcome to yet another edition of Newshour aka ARNAB IS AMAZEBALLS. Today The People demand to know: Are we really free? Are Suhel Seth and Mahesh Bhatt the same person? How come we never see them together? Are you Pakistani? Am I Pakistani? Is India Pakistani? And why the hell is baby nappy mein bhi happy?

 *CLICK*

KYA QUEEN ELIJABETH IS A MAANGLIK? KYA MIDGETS HAIN BHAGWAAN KE PAPERWEIGHT? DEKHTE RAHIYE INDIA TV!

 *CLICK*

The biggest spectacle is still the Independence Day parade, wherein the Prime Minister gets on top of the Red Fort and does the Macarena. OK, I don’t know what happens because I haven’t actually watched the parade in years. I mean if I wanted to watch Manmohan Singh speak, I would just stare at his picture really hard. As usual, he will make a speech listing out all of his government’s achievements in the past year, so try not to blink or sneeze.

Then a bunch of different floats will go by, each representing a different Indian state. Let’s be honest: if it weren’t for these floats, you wouldn’t even know about the new states that keep cropping up, like Uttarakhand, or Orissa (Odisa? Orisha? Oreos?) Also, I can’t wait to see the U.P float just sitting there, refusing to move until someone promises them “half-return”. And I bet the Haryana float is just one giant ultrasound machine.

So everything said and done, spending Independence Day in front of the TV is not a bad thing at all. It involves sitting around and living off the hard work of our forefathers. And what could be more Indian than that? Jai Hind. Or as Manmohan Singh puts it, (THIS SPACE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK)

(Note: This is my HT column dated 12th Aug, 2012. Cross-posted from here.)

P.S. ANOTHER, MORE IMPORTANT NOTE: Regular readers may have noticed that the frequency of the column has been changed from weekly to fortnightly. I’ve been assured by HT that this is temporary, but nonetheless, massive withdrawal symptoms are setting in. I want to be able to do this every week. So here’s a small request: if you’ve ever liked any of my work, please drop in a comment here saying, “Hey HT, make it weekly!”, or send in a mail to ashish.shakya85@gmail.com saying the same thing. This will make sure I don’t die alone, sobbing and curled up in a foetal position next to my laptop. And it may help get the column back into weekly mode. Help me out and may Ryan Gosling and/or Anne Hathway do unspeakably satisfying things to you. C’mon. Send that mail. Write that comment. Do it for Sachin. Thank you.

Citius, Altius, Fortius: That’s What She Said

So the Olympic Games begin in London next week, and in the build-up to the event, sports fans from all over the world can think of only one thing: Why does the Olympic logo look like Picasso sneezed on a canvas? It doesn’t matter though, because the Olympics is the most watched sporting event ever, if you ignore the FIFA World Cup, the Cricket World Cup, the English Premier League, the Champions League, Euro Cup, F1, IPL, Ranji Trophy, Deodhar Trophy, Shivaji Park Dusty Pitch to Left of Stray Dog Licking Itself Cup, and search results for “Sushil Kumar hot pixxx”.

As you know, the Olympics originated and flourished in ancient Greece, until the Romans took over and replaced it with more exciting events, such as feeding people to lions. And now, the Olympics is a great opportunity for the best athletes from around the world to gather under one roof and boink each other. At least those are the claims of an ex-Olympian and anonymous author of ‘The Secret Olympics’ (which has received a fair bit of press despite the fact that it isn’t titled ’50 Shades of Grey’)

See, this shows that all is right with the world. It would be weird if a bunch of young, attractive people primed to physical perfection lived together and did NOT have sex. That would fly in the face of everything we’ve learnt about biology, or reality TV. However, this does raise some questions. For example, do they give out medals for a good performance? Has Leander found a partner for this? Is it Pinki Pramanik?

Not all Londoners are kicked about the event though, and understandably so. The arrival of the athletes in the city caused a 51-kilometre long traffic jam in London last week, leaving thousands of motorists stranded and seething for hours. Hey English people, calm down. Do you know what Indians call a massive jam full of angry people? Partition.

The Olympic Opening Ceremony is being directed by Danny Boyle, and has a segment dedicated to Anil Kapoor saying the word ‘millionaire’ (pronounced “MILLIONAAARRRRRGHGGHHHgarglegarglespit”) Also, this is a good time to bring up a burning issue: why is lawn bowls an Olympic sport?

No, seriously. The Olympics, for all its glory and tradition, also seems to be the result of severe cerebral trauma. Case in point: lawn bowls. This is a sport wherein players roll a ball towards a bunch of other balls, and then… um, that’s it. Think marbles, but directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. If sports were people, lawn bowls would be Atal Behari Vajpayee. On sleep medication.

Another actual Olympic sport is racewalking, which involves walking really fast and then cars explode in the background. Ok no, just walking really fast. It is derived from the ancient Greek sport of ‘Running To Catch A Train At Dadar While Also Getting A Hernia’.

It’s not all weird though. There are some non-frivolous games that I will be following for journalistic reasons, like women’s beach volleyball. I’ll do this despite the very real risk that I may be exposed to legs that run longer than freight trains. (Olympic Trivia: India did not send beach volleyball teams abroad because we find it difficult to play on sand that does not contain broken bottles or dead Russians.)

We do have some great talents though. There’s Abhinav Bindra, current world and Olympic world champion, and possibly the only Punju man who did not learn to shoot inside a discotheque. Then there’s Jwala Gutta, who is hoping to create history by becoming the first Olympic medallist named after a Mithun villain. I’d write something about Saina Nehwal too, once I get my jaw off the floor. And despite all the petulance, I do hope Leander wins a medal, so that Sania Mirza can sock him on the head with it.

Our archers have said that if they win, they will take off their shirts ala Saurav Ganguly at Lord’s. To which the Indian government replied, “We bought them shirts?” Five-time successive World Boxing Champion Mary Kom is raring to go as well. What’s interesting is that two of her titles came after motherhood. This just goes to show that having kids makes you want to punch things really hard.

There are many more that I haven’t named, but the fact that they all made it this far – despite the government’s best efforts to ensure otherwise – is no small feat. I wish them all the best. Or as they say in India, MILLIONAAARRRRRGHGGHHHgarglegarglechoke.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 22nd July 2012)