December 31, 2012

Happy New...

May you have reasonable and realistic resolutions and still fail at them

November 10, 2012

The Posh Restaurant pre-meal Ritual

Why are you eating curd rice? I thought you went out for dinner.

I did, but I am still hungry

Did you go to one of those ‘you don’t pay for the food, you pay for the experience’ places?


And how was the experience?

As usual, the waiter walked in with a bottle of packaged mountain spring water in his hand and…

packaged mountain what?

Packaged mountain spring water from the Himalayas. The same water that our ancient rishis drank water 2000 years back!

Why would anyone buy that?

Sadly, there are enough people in the world who think that drinking normal water makes them sick. Did you know that Italian mountain water is exported to the US?

Wow, water?

It’s not just “water”… It is Italian mountain water. I have tasted it once. The naturally occurring spring water there is slightly alkaline, so the water actually tastes a little soapy and doesn’t quench your thirst at all. And they also charge like $8 for a 500ml bottle!

And still you humans claim to be the most intelligent life form on the planet?

Well, we have a thing for glossy, sexy looking, non-biodegradable plastic bottles. The main market for this is young men going out on dates. The waiters target guys on first dates and subtly ask questions like, “Sir would you like to try our new Italian mountain water?” The last thing the guy wants on a first date is to look cheap. So there is a huge probability that he would say yes.

That is pure evil.

I know. It’s a popular strategy to push bottled water. If you say no, then the waiter will follow it up with something judgmental like, “Tap water is fine for you sir? And you madam?” It is bound to create an awkward situation which is the last thing you want on a first date. So they have a very good conversion rate.

Okat, so they collect all that water from the Alps; transport it a Mediterranean port in tanker trucks, and put that water into a shipping container which is then transported across the Atlantic in a cargo ship to be unloaded, treated, bottled, branded, packaged, marketed and sold across the United States all because some guys don’t want to look cheap in front of a chick?

Yes, I call it High Carbon Footprint Dating

It sure is. What did you order?

I am not really sure. The menu was in Italian or Spanish. They had some English subtitles but I couldn't pronounce a single word and was too embarrassed to even attempt it in a crowd. So I pointed my finger on an item and said, “I want this”

Like a four year old? :P

Yeah, like a four year old. And as soon as I showed the waiter what I wanted, he just went on a roll with his questions, “Would you like with some bread sir? What kind of bread? Brown, white, parmesan? Would you like some maple syrup on the side? Would you like some chocolate sauce? Or would you prefer it varnished with Schkarsi sauce? Do you want coke? Do you want a cookie? Are you sure you don’t want a bottle of Himalaya Mountain Spring Water?”

These waiters sometimes sound like they are Brand Ambassadors of Diabetes

I know. I don't understand these people. How the hell am I supposed to know if pasta primavera tastes better with Asparagus or sundried tomatoes? Why am I even given that choice? I don’t even know how much sugar to put in a cup of coffee!

The restaurant management expects waiters to go through a checklist during the ordering process. They charge a lot for extra maple syrup, slices of bread, bottled water, chocolate chips etc. So it is in their interest to make you lick some honey.

The list was endless. Where I come from, if you order a Masala Dosa and filter coffee, you will get Masala Dosa and filter coffee. That’s it. No questions asked. End of transaction!

But this guy was going on and on with his questions. It brought back repressed memories of walking into lab viva exams without any preparation.

Did you say anything to the waiter?

No. I just nodded... giving the waiter full freedom to interpret the nods as he deemed fit and he was tapping the order into his iPhone.

The waiter had an iPhone?

Yeah, he places the order in his iPhone and the chef wirelessly receives it

That sounds efficient

Yes, it is. We got our order in 43 minutes instead of the usual 45. I bet some MBA fellow has taken credit for this "innovation" by writing "Analysed and identified bottlenecks in the ordering process and suggested strategies that improved efficiency by 8%" in his resume!

Haha... yes, I am sure. What did you guys do for forty minutes?

Oh the usual, people were discussing other people’s status updates.

Isn’t that weird? Humans used to talk about their real lives on social networks. Now they’re talking about social network updates in real life. When did that switch happen?

I don’t know. It was quite subtle. And when the food finally arrived, the buzz of the conversation died down and the posh restaurant pre-meal ritual began.

What is that?

Just after the food is served, everyone sits in quiet attention and inspects the food warmly from different angles. Once they have seen everyone's plate and the contents, they bring their arms together in position to… pray before every meal?

No… they bring their arms together in position to take pictures of the food with their smartphones and uploaded them with the caption, “Yum!”

Wait. How did they know that the food was yummy even before tasting it?

No, you don’t understand. It doesn't have to be good. It just has to be photogenic. You don’t have to have fun. You just have to look like you’re having fun. At a fundamental level, that is all that matters.

Come on, you’re being harsh.

Oh yeah? How else do you explain Youtube videos of amazing live concerts with everyone in the audience holding up a dumb camera above their heads? I mean there are fireworks in the sky, awesome laser patterns in the air in sync with the wonderful music but these people are looking into their four inch Handycam screens instead!

What is this obsession to archive every moment of your lives as it happens? Why do you want all your memories to reside on a 2 TB hard disk full of shitty footage with bad sound recording?

Yeah, why can’t they just use their brains and have memories?

Last year, I saw a family recording their Diwali celebrations. Now most cameras are not particularly good at capturing fireworks at night, so all the family members were taking turns trying to figure out the right setting which they were not able to.

The kids who were bursting crackers till then were more now interested in capturing pictures of firecrackers instead. An hour into the celebrations, they were all frustrated with their mediocre photography skills. They complained that the camera was not a DSLR, gave up on the celebrations and went back inside to watch TV. That’s their Diwali! Can you believe that?

If you’re ruining the environment, at least have some real fun in the process you idiots!

It's one of most depressing sights – people desperately trying to have fun. You can see that in malls all the time. At some level, they see the they the plastic soullessness character of the environment. But on the other hand they are spending so much money, so they're all "Whee!" and "Yaay!" with half-baked enthusiasm.

Truly happy people don’t go around telling other people how happy they are. They just are! Why is it so hard for you humans to grasp such simple things? Learn a little something from cats. We remember all our awesome purring sessions but we don’t go around telling every remote acquaintance what was an awesome purr it was. We just lick the back our paws and purr a little more in satisfaction.

You're a pet cat. You have nothing else to do.

Anyway, this decadence of your civilization is not at all surprising. It is the price you pay for rejecting your true religion.

What true religion?

Oh, shut up

I find your lack of faith disturbing *purr*

November 7, 2012

The Red Stain

Everything you wanted to know about paan but never cared to find out

New post on The NRI. Click on the image to read:

October 22, 2012

R.I.P Facebook

I logged into Facebook after almost a year and it looks like an airport trashcan.

Airport trashcan?

I mean too much glossy crap. Just a year back Facebook had interesting articles, intelligent view-points and emoticon riddled discussions. We had good jokes, incisive articles, useful personal updates and lots of cat videos. It used to feel like a nice relaxing dinner party with intelligent conversations.

Now it is littered with people redeeming gift coupons, store sale reward points, massage parlour offers, phone recharge discounts, travel tickets, vacation packages, movie ticket stubs… What's with this sociopathic trend of celebrating consumption?

Why are you pissed?

I thought you at least had to be a Facebook tourist to be proud of your shopping based achievements but this guy just posted a picture of his wireless modem with the caption “My new wireless modem :D :D :D :D”!

Hey, I know that guy. He did a whole photo shoot titled “My first External Hard drive :)) :)) :P :P” sometime last month. It was self-shot and he also applied an Instagram filter to make it look like 1967!

And these social readers… God, I hate them. I clicked on a webpage to get a better look at Scarlett Johansson's cleavage in the thumbnail and er… it… it might’ve been publicly shared over your wall.

That was you? How many times have I TOLD you NOT to use my Facebo…

Oh, puh-leeze! You’re worried about privacy now?

I told people it wasn't me but they never believed me. Now they probably thinks of me as a non-biodegradable plastic bottle of sleaze!

Look, I am sorry. How was I supposed to know that the default privacy setting would be set to public? Besides, thousands of people fell for the “social reading” thing, so you're not alone.

What the hell is “social reading” anyway? Since when is “reading” a social activity? Reading is something you do when you sit in peace, introspect and expand your understanding of this vast and wonderful universe in the privacy of your toilet!

Exactly. 300 curious humans clicking on a link titled, “Is Aishwarya Rai’s daughter actually a son?” on Washington Post Reader within the same two hour window is not reading, it is just mouse-clicking!

Mouse clicking – now that’s an activity that doesn’t get much credit.

Then there are apps that let people share their “activity”. NSFW videos on Dailymotion, shitty music on Spotify, "free chewing gum" coupons from Groupon... since when are all these things important enough to be shared with 600 other people? Who gives a shit if you have checked into a second hand pani-puri store on Foursquare?

Facebook realized that people willingly share only one or two articles out of every ten they read. Natural filters like “personality” and “thought” were filtering all the bullshit. But “thought” and “personality” are not good for the advertising business. So they essentially said, “Look it’s not what you like. It is about what you do.”

And what you humans do is order pizza, watch item songs and read celebrity gossip.

Yes, 90% of the time. #sigh

A Facebook profile was like having an alter-ego where everyone did their own thing. People shared their interests and hobbies. Some folks were into sports, some got all worked up about politics. A few vehemently defended their favourite tech company while others worried about endangered reptiles, stock market scams, science news, suicidal cotton farmers, art movies, and pretentious personal blogs…

Yeah, I got to know a lot about mere acquaintances and distant relatives just based on what they enthusiastically shared and friendships formed quickly on that basis.

Remember that guy who both loved celeb gossip and quantum loop-gravity and how one affected the other?

Do not judge others when you know nothing about quantum loop-gravity.

It wasn’t perfect last or anything with all the photographers and HIMs but it still was an eclectic collection of information, entertainment, knowledge, silliness, and emotion until the marketing cockroaches came along and started taking over.

The root of the problem is that Facebook became “Facebook Inc. – the publicly traded hundred billion dollar company.” Going public means that their loyalty now lies only with the stock holders, not the users. The stock market doesn’t care about the quality. The only thing it cares about is more profits every quarter.

When there is a virtual monopoly in a saturated market, the only way you can show increasing profits quarter after quarter is either by reducing costs like Walmart does, thanks to easily available slave labour all around the world, or by monetizing your users like product placements in sports, increasingly intrusive ads on Youtube, “Trending articles” on Facebook etc.

But let us not entirely blame a corporation’s quest for quarterly profits for the mess. You humans suck big time. You are the ones sharing fake inspirational stories, Satya Sai Baba blessings, photos of kidnapped children, pity posts for impoverished African kids, prayers for people with weird genetic diseases, and the worst of them all, “share if you love your immediate-family-member” statuses.

Can’t argue against that. I once saw a status that said “Share this post within 3 seconds if you really love your Mom.” Three seconds? There is a time limit for this shit now?

At least the marketing people are making some money off the shit they produce. What do they get out of sharing these things?

Twenty three likes?

Yeah. We cats may do a lot of disgusting things when you’re not looking but we never annoy fellow felines for fake attention. Only humans do it. You’re the ones who don’t think twice about annoying 80 other species if it gives you 8% off on AA batteries. You people are more than happy to trade your online identities for some extra mayonnaise on your garlic bread.

That is quite condescending coming from a species that can be tricked into chasing its own tail.

Maybe you’re just a cheap species and Facebook just made easier be “yourself”. Think about it. The creators of Facebook knew your weakness all along. You think they were giving you an account and all that space for freedom of expression for free? Bullshit, no one does that.
If you’re not paying, you’re the product being sold.

Probably. It’s same case with newspapers too. It takes about 8 rupees to publish, print and deliver a copy of Times of India. We pay only a fraction and bulk of it is paid for by advertising. Not just the Times of India, any newspaper for that matter.

The sales pitch of the newspapers is, “Look, we have a large number of uninformed readers who have an affinity for cleavage. Do you want to sell them some Axe deodorant?” The newspaper is not selling you ads. It is selling you to the advertisers!

They’re not newspapers anymore. They are advertising companies. They are all advertising companies. Facebook, Google, all the news channels, music channels, movies, sports… they’re all in the business of showing us ads. That is their primary duty. That is what drives them. Everything else they do is a by-product.

Comic books icon William Gaines and Editor Harvey Kurtzman created the MAD comic magazine which went on to become a highly-acclaimed masterpiece in American culture. Those guys had just one rule: NO GODDAMN ADS.

For decades, that policy helped them become pioneers in satirizing everything about the shallow materialist culture free from any conflict of interests with their funding sources.

I think it is time for Facebook to retire as yet another impressive subculture that got sold out because of our soul-selling, opportunistic behaviour.

Of course, after 5 decades of taking no shit from nobody, the old owners along with their values retired. MAD magazine started allowing the ads.
The ad guys always win.

Everyone else is sold out. Only crowd-sourced or subscription based outlets like EPW, NewsClick etc. have managed to inculcate and maintain standards. Maybe that is the way to go.

The way to go? You don’t even have an independent sub-culture that shows the finger to the ‘Advertising, Bollywood and Corporate power’ establishment dictating the mainstream narrative of your country and you’re dreaming of a future where Indians pay for high quality things?

I am just saying that the media and the arts need to be decentralized and democratized if there has to be any reasonable change.

I am honestly surprised you still have hope on humanity. Remember, you are the same species that inherited this beautiful planet and now you’re burning down the homes of polar-bears for insurance money! Forget about it. Now, scratch me on my head like a good boy… and below the neck too.

Make it quick, I have to step out.

Share this within 3 seconds if you really love your brother-in-law's second cousin.

Written by Flawsophy. Edited by me. CSS styling by @apnerve

Note: This site is best viewed in a computer and in a real browser (not IE)

September 6, 2012

I call this piece "Advertising"

Do you remember Television advertisements from the 1990s? All they sold back then was Lifebuoy soap, Annapurna Atta, Tata salt, Bajaj Chetak, Meera shampoo (featuring a homely looking housewife who had trouble managing her daughter’s long mane), Parachute Coconut Oil, and Chandana Brothers sarees, “suitings and shirtings for mens!” (Yes, suitings and shirtings, that is exactly what they used to say)

I am personally embarrassed that these were the coolest things we Indians consumed back then.

Thanks to two decades of neo-liberalization during which India first shone and later grew, the nature of advertising significantly changed. Look at the prime time ads. Only things like Volkswagen cars, Luxury holiday resorts, L’Oreal products, smart phones, Reid n’ Taylor suits, credit cards, mutual funds, frozen idlis (unfortunately, they exist) and luxury paints are sold.

Cars, insurance plans, lifestyle products, housing loans and electronic gadgets. Who do you think they are selling this desi version of the American dream to? The middle class can’t afford Volkswagens and 3D TVs. The rich people probably already have them. It’s us – the upper middle class. The real product being sold is a culture of passive consumption where everything is on sale and everyone is sold out. And wow, how proudly we’re buying ourselves into it!

A Tale of two templates

It is not just the portfolio of products. The ads themselves look quite “international” if you notice. "International" in this context means that every model from that little girl in the Rasna ad to the dusky A-list Bollywood celebrity look almost Caucasian and act hyper-sexual over things like coffee, mango juice, second hand cars, bathroom tiles, cement, switch boards, new cable connection etc. If aliens are watching us through a telescope, they would think that our women have thing for plumbing and electrical outlets!

So what kind of a mind does it take to come up with ads like these? Again a lot of guesswork is involved here but I think every copywriter on his/her first day at office is taken into a dark room and is given a crash course on what I call The Copywriter's Model of the Human Brain. According to this model, the human brain has four major areas of activity:

This model dictates that the best way to sell anything is to equate it with sex. That way the guys will not complain and it is easier for the copywriters too. The feminists may rant about it on the internet but who cares about them?

In the unlikely event that they don’t want to use sex to sell, there is another strategy. I call it The Abstract Jingle. This is how a typical ad looks like:
A bunch of rural looking school boys rush towards a sandy open place in the evening. They throw their slippers in the air and run barefooted and divide themselves into teams. One boy tosses a coin to decide who bats first. A soulful jingle in Hindi plays in the background...  
The kids are completely immersed in their game invoking a nostalgic bliss of simple joys from  simpler times. A kid hits the ball and another kid takes a great catch diving to his left in slow motion. The soulful jingle continues… 
And while all this is happening, the viewer has no idea what the ad is trying to sell. This can be an ad for anything. That is the beauty of the Abstract Jingle. There is no way for the viewer to know until the last frame, what the product is. It is this suspense that keeps him hooked!

In the last frame of the ad, if one of the boys grow up to be Dhoni, it is an ad for Reebok. If the kids wear a Team India shirt, they’re promoting Nike. If they are refreshed by a sip of pure water from a nearby lake – it is either Kinley or Hero Honda or if Tendulkar appears holding a bottle of Coke... See, the Abstract Jingle is simple yet versatile and it is completely recyclable.

The Internationals and the Abstract Jingle, these are the only templates for ads there are today. I didn't complain all these days because I don’t watch TV but the same ads started streaming on Youtube and I can’t even skip them. So now, it’s personal!

Image courtesy: which has an amazing collection of editorial cartoons

P.S: Why is it that an ad always streams faster than the actual video?

August 27, 2012

A Dummy's guide to Indian Hobbies

This was published in The NRI this week. Posting here just for the record. Click on the image to read the article.

August 26, 2012

So I was wishing @flawsophy for his birthday...

Flawsophy: By the way, I have 100 published posts in flawsophy. Of course, Evil Twin has crossed 100 a long time back.

Gtoosphere: Cool. Even my blog crossed 100 sometime back. I think it should count as sort of an achievement… for holding on to a hobby that long.

Flawsophy: yeah it is.

Gtoosphere: It's a bigger achievement than birthdays :)

Flawsophy: Anything other than dying is a bigger achievement than birthdays...

Gtoosphere: That is a good standard to have. So what is the rule to wish NRIs for their birthdays? It is midnight here but it is still yesterday for you and hence not your birthday yet.

Flawsophy: :)

Gtoosphere: No... I am asking because some people are very particular about being the first to wish or wishing someone exactly at midnight. I am just wondering, what their policy for NRI birthdays would be. Do they wish them at midnight IST or midnight for the other person, whatever the time zone is?

Flawsophy: A girl would make sure there are at least three occasions... one India, one US... and one formal dinner in the evening. I was once about to wish someone dot on midnight (India time) but a Korean friend of mine came and asked for something. So I was like, six minutes late and in the meantime, another friend called and she was so mad at me for not being the first!

Gtoosphere: hehe :p

Flawsophy: ok, there may be a difference between 00:00 hours and 00:06 but for me it is 14:30 and 14:36!

Gtoosphere: yeah. What is six minutes after a heavy lunch? Pf…  

Flawsophy: adhe gaa… even different hours have different meanings… don’t they?

Gtoosphere: If you insist on being specific to the hour, then you should be wished in IST because you were born in IST.

Flawsophy: Exactly... this takes us back to reviving a dying horoscope system. That’s the only time horoscopes make sense to me

Gtoosphere: You mean a dying horoscope system adjusted for daylight saving? ;)

Flawsophy: chee chee

Gtoosphere: I am not kidding… these horoscope apps account for daylight saving as well!

Flawsophy: Horoscope has the assumption of a consistent time-zone which implies "travel across time-zone at your own risk"

Gtoosphere: ISRO launched the moon mission only after making sure it is launched at the right “muhurtham”. I mean, seriously? We're sending a vessel to the effing moon and you’re consulting a horoscope that considers the moon to be a planet?

Flawsophy: hehe... sometimes, we forget birthdays altogether. The anger over missing a birthday is something people take very seriously.
Watch this space for more adventures of Awkward Man
and his forever alone side kick, Captain Friend-zone.

Gtoosphere: I probably hold the record for forgetting the maximum number of birthdays in a year. If you forget someone’s birthday, you can’t call them anytime soon. You have to give some cool off time, maybe 3 or 4 weeks, so that the forgotten birthday doesn’t come into the next conversation.

Flawsophy: Yes, the Birthday Cool Off time.

Gtoosphere: I think an appropriate Birthday Cool Off time is 2 to 3 weeks.

Flawsophy: Two to three weeks is too much. Who remembers their birthday after a week? One week is enough.

Gtoosphere: I don’t know, I wouldn’t risk only one week of Birthday Cool Off time. I once forgot to wish someone for her birthday and she got very angry

Flawsophy: The anger over missing a birthday is something people take very personally

Gtoosphere: yeah, and when I called her a week later to apologize.. I ended up giving a very Seinfeld-esque speech on "What is the big deal with birthdays? All you did was “not die” and you want to celebrate that? Doesn't all the medical science and technological progress mean anything anymore? That we human beings as a species are collectively celebrating the miracle of ‘not dying’?" Of course, I had to apologize for the apology (which was also quite Seinfeld-esque). 

Flawsophy: hehe...

Gtoosphere: Another time, a friend invited me for lunch, so I went to her place. Her mom made awesome lunch, fried rice, payasam, etc. I had a pleasant with her chat for a couple of hours after lunch left in the evening. Two days later, I realized that it was her birthday that day, I went to her house, ate a lot of food and didn't wish her

Flawsophy: chee chee.. that is horrible! 

Gtoosphere: I know, but in my defense, I didn't know it was her birthday. It was the proto-Facebook era.

Flawsophy: No, there are times you can get away with that excuse. But not this time. 

Gtoosphere: So you think it is a non-bailable Birthday Offence. 

Flawsophy: yes, that is what it is -- a non-bailable Birthday Offence! You are sentenced to an invitation ban for 6 months and a fine of an expensive gift plus an apology. 

Gtoosphere: Abbo... "non-bailable birthday offence"... People these days are celebrating half-birthdays… like birthdays aren't bad enough!
Flawsophy: the whole concept sounds voodoo

Gtoosphere: Oh… you're turning 24 and a half today! Who gives a shit???
Flawsophy: hehe… I once wrote a post on birthdays and some girl commented saying that her boyfriend declared the month as a birthday month which implies a C in the high school English I exam for coming up with a ridiculous self-contradictory term.

Gtoosphere: Even worse are the couples who celebrate month-anniversaries

Flawsophy: What the hell is a month-anniversary? These people have no respect for time!

Gtoosphere: The word anniversary itself is closely related to “annual” which means once a year! The word exists because ancient Greek have arrived at a consensus that a relationship should last at least for a year before the couple can start annoying other people and here we are in the 21st century celebrating month-anniversaries. People have no standards anymore.

Flawsophy: Yeah, people are inventing new holidays whenever they feel like smooching!

Gtoosphere: If you want an excuse to celebrate, look to traditional lifestyle. Our ancestors have invented enough reasons.

Flawsophy: yeah celebrate Maasa Siva Raatri. It is always around the corner :p

Boorelu and Pulihyaara
Gtoosphere: Bamma celebrates ‘Maargasira Lakshmivaram’ or something. How cool is that? Just like that, for four days a month, she makes Boorelu and Pulihyaara and no one complains. They didn’t even bother to give it a legitimate name. They just call it “The Thursday of so-and-so month”… Holidays can’t get more arbitrary than that!

Flawsophy: We have a whole system of made-up excuses and arbitrary holiday system thanks to India’s beautiful appetite and a fundamental hatred for work. And they don’t have oxymoronic names like half-birthdays and month-anniversaries.

Gtoosphere: hehe… that is the advantage of belonging to a 5000 year old civilization. The holidays tend to accumulate ;)

Flawsophy: Yeah, we are losing a lot of good things in a way because they are slightly inconvenient.

Gtoosphere: The beauty about our festivals is that they have more to do with our love for food and almost nothing to do with our beliefs. Did you ever pray on Sankranti? No, we just wear clothes and eat. Did you ever go to a temple on Diwali? No, we were busy drying our crackers on the terrace and test firing them. The kitchens are busier than the temples. Our festivals are broad enough to allow even atheists to enjoy them :)

Flawsophy: Yeah, shallow urban people have started wearing branded clothes for short term gains and are completely ruining a beautiful, devious, evil, and well-oiled system for excuse making and binge eating.

Gtoosphere: hehe… also, gone are the days when “Neighbours are doing Satyanarayana Vratam” is a legitimate excuse.

Flawsophy: Was that ever a legitimate excuse.

Gtoosphere: I bet someone would have used it at some time in history. It is 12:40 AM now, should I wish you now or later in the afternoon.

Flawsophy: Just wish and be done with it. Indaakati ninchi dobbuthunnav nee yankamma :p

August 19, 2012

Two Waggin' Tongues: On Movies, Women, Media and Supermarkets

This post was published in Flawsophy earlier this week. We're experimenting on a new format. Posting here just for the record. Click on the image to read the post.

August 15, 2012

The Popcorn Protocol

I never understood the logic behind movie theaters playing the National Anthem just before the movie starts. Apparently, that's the law in Maharashtra. While I don't expect anything better from Maharashtra's political class, this is particularly amusing.

Doesn't it feel a little weird? One moment you're watching a Vicco Turmeric ad, the next moment Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle are singing "Jana gana mana..." and it is followed by a three minute promo of an Akshay Kumar movie. It doesn't make any sense, especially if the movie you're trying to watch has out of work porn stars in it!

And it gets funnier because it always starts when you least expect it. You think that the anthem is at least a couple of ads away. You're still settling down with your popcorn, your glass of Pepsi, your girlfriend's handbag, maybe a three year old kid hanging from your shoulder and suddenly the "Please Stand up for National Anthem" sign is on the screen and everyone starts looking at you like you work for the ISI!

Now you have to stand in attention but you don't know where the popcorn goes. Does it go across the chest like a soldier holds his gun? What if you have popcorn in one hand and Pepsi in the other? Then you have to put in some extra effort to not get carried away by the patriotism of the moment because saluting the national flag is not a good idea if you have soda in your right hand!

These things bother me. Our PT teacher back in high school told us nothing about popcorn during our preparations for the Independence Day parade. I have asked a few people if there is a Popcorn Protocol for situations like this but everyone only says, "Whatever works man!" I wonder how they do it in the Army.

My only exposure to the National Anthem after high school has been at movie theaters in Mumbai and on almost all occasions, it was followed by munching unhealthy amounts of popcorn. So now, I am sort of conditioned to it. Like Pavlov’s dog, I now associate the National Anthem to the taste of popcorn and my mouth starts watering by the time I finish, “Jaya jaya jaya jaya hai!

Now where is my popcorn?

Image credits: 

July 12, 2012

The Jaffa Post

Shortly after the roaring success of gtoosphere’s research on the complete history and etymology of the word ‘Bavarse’, we (@satwikg and I) have embarked upon the ambitious project of identifying similar PG-13 Telugu words to research their history and etymology. We started making a list of curse words you can say on Television and get away with it. The first word that came to my mind was ‘Jaffa’.

Jaffa is a beautiful word that is poetic to the lips and mellifluous to the ear. And it is versatile too – you can use it as a greeting (నిన్నేరా జఫ్ఫా!), you can stretch it (Jaffaaaaa...), you can stress on it (Jafffffffa), you can bend it, you can twist it, you can conjoin with other words (పెద్ద లఫూట్-జఫ్ఫా గాడిలా ఉన్నాడు!) or you can just add gibberish to it and it would still make sense to you (జఫ్ఫా నా డఫ్ఫా!)

Whatever you do, however you change it, it carries its profound essence everywhere. That is magic of Jaffa. When you say “Jaffa na Daffa!”, it instantly appeals to the masses. If you’re in a five star hotel and you want to use it in a classy way, say it in a French accent, Je ffa. Now how many words can boast of such malleability?

I am sure anyone who is even remotely gult is aware of the the beauty, the simplicity and the many forms of Jaffa. I am sure all your Facebook walls are inundated with a lot of Jaffa based humor. However, I have noticed a few instances where the word Jaffa is misused or overused, often in the wrong context. This made me realize that my gult brethren seem to be confused about its real meaning and usage. So I have taken the responsibility of educating you all.

Chapter 1: జగమంతా జఫ్ఫామయం || Jagamantha Jaffamayam

Jaffa may sound like a Telugu word but the word is well known and used across four continents in more than a dozen countries around the world. Here are some of the occurrences of the word Jaffa in other languages and contexts. (Most of the images are cropped screen shots with original sources linked somewhere in the vicinity) 

1. Jaffa is a Rich Technology
The URL says it all:

Jaffa 2.1 already released anta... crazy technology yaar!
"వీడెవడో తెలీదు కానీ, పెద్ద జఫ్ఫా టు పాయింట్ వన్ డాట్ జార్ లా ఉన్నాడు" -- తిట్టు బాగుంది కదూ? ;)

2. Jaffa is a Historical City: 
Jaffa is an ancient port city believed to be one of the oldest in the world. Jaffa is famous for its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah. It is now part of Tel Aviv in modern day Israel. It was also mentioned in The Bible:

Biblical Jaffa anta... Wikipedia kooda manchi comedy chesthundi appudappudu :)

3. The Battle of Jaffa
The Battle of Jaffa took place during the Crusades in 1192, as one of a series of campaigns between Saladin's army and the forces of King Richard the Lionheart. It was the final battle of the Third Crusade, after which Saladin and King Richard were able to negotiate a truce and the Treaty of Jaffa was signed. Read more on Wikipedia...

4. Jaffa is an Orange
The Jaffa orange is a sweet, almost seedless orange variety. Originally developed by Arab farmers in the mid-19th century, it takes its name from the city of Jaffa where it was first produced for export.

5. Jaffa Cola:
From Wikipedia again:

6. Cricket Jaffa
Apparently Jaffa is also a cricket term. Found this entry in the Glossary of Cricket Terms:

7. Jaffa Cakes
These Jaffa oranges are apparently awesome. Jaffa Orange flavored cakes, biscuits and other forms of confectionery are hugely popular across the world. Jaffa cakes are the most popular of them all. The company that makes these cakes interestingly won a court case after proving in a court that Jaffa cakes are indeed biscuits!

8. Jaffa Cafe
There is a popular Jaffa Cafe in California taking the profound presence of Jaffa across the Atlantic as well.

9. Jaffa (film)
The Telugu movie wouldn't be the first movie titled 'Jaffa' Here is an ABSORBING and TOUCHING love story with an IMDB rating of 7.0

10. Jaffaavataraalu (జఫ్ఫావతారాలు)
Eeyanevaro Sir Max Jaffa anta

And finally, Professor Jaffa

11. Bonus Jaffa
Jaffa is a slang term (usually pejorative) for a resident of Auckland, New Zealand. It is the acronym for Just Another Fuckwit from Aucklander and is used as an insult to Aucklanders. Auckland is also sometimes referred to as Jaffisthan!

As we have seen, Jaffa as a word has been in use for thousands of years across all civilizations, cultures, countries and products. So what does it actually mean? How did this come up in Telugu? So what does it mean when one person calls another Jaffa? (ivanni chadavandi chinna break taravata :P)

Chapter 2: But what does it mean?

To find out the real truth, I moved beyond the safety of Wikipedia and ventured into the shadier corners of Urban Dictionary and even hostile foreign territories like the third page of Google search results. You can take it from me that the most accurate definition seems to be:
Jaffa: (noun) A person with "seedless" sperm i.e. a person who "fires blanks" or having "no lead in his pencil" i.e. “Pooja ki paniki raani puvvu”
Apparently it is a fairly popular street slang in the UK and Ireland, especially in the docks. It makes sense in a lot of ways. Now that I think of it, the word Jaffa even sounds a little impotent (not to be confused with the word 'important' which our English teacher in Sri Chaitanya used to pronounce as 'impotent'. Example: "impotent koschens raaskondamma")

The origin of the slang lays in Jaffa the Orange. The Jaffa orange has very small seeds, so small that it is considered to be the first seedless orange when it was developed by Arab farmers in the mid nineteenth century. This term in this context either gained prominence from or was invented for the British TV sitcom Only Fools and Horses in the 1990s.

And that is how, I am guessing, it made its way into the Telugu vocabulary.

Chapter 3: Future Work

Only five years back, the word Jaffa didn’t even exist in the minds of Telugu people. Clearly, it caught on only because of the movies. The great Brahmanandam deserves a lot of credit for the immense popularity of the word.

The earliest recorded use of this word from my memory was in the 2008 movie “Gamyam” in which Allari Naresh casually says something like, “Jaffa na jafada”. My knowledge of Telugu movies is nothing to boast of and I would like the readers to suggest any occurrences of this word at an earlier date.

Chapter 4: Epilogue

So here we have, a Telugu swear word that has its origins in Hebrew! How cool is that? Researching on the meaning and etymology of this word has been a really fun trip for me and the Hebrew roots really took me by surprise, just like the Persian roots of the word “Bavarse” did!

I hope you have all understood the history, the essence and the meaning of this beautiful word. I urge all fellow gults to use it wisely, in the right context and more importantly to not over-use it. Remember, words are only tools to create humor. A funny idea is the real meat.

Gultisthan Zindabad!

[Edit: @emailkran says that the word first used in the 2005 movie 'Party' starring Allari Naresh, Brahmanandam, Ravibabu etc.]

June 6, 2012

Upper Middleclass Existence

Forbes recently defined what upper middle class in India means. I don’t know what it means to be upper middleclass but according to their definition, I may belong to that category!

Read the article here:

April 26, 2012

Everything you want to know about cycles but were afraid to ask

I know, I know. I have been slacking off lately and there aren't many updates in this site. Expect a bunch of updates soon once I am done with the new template I am working on. In the mean time, read my new article on The NRI:

Click on image to open the link
Also, I have been writing a few Evil Twin posts here:

March 6, 2012

Scenes in a city bus

Hey, sorry for the silence again. Things are going to change soon... trust me!

In the mean time... My new post in The NRI:

February 7, 2012

Inventions S2E01: Alfred Wallace Moment


An Alfred Wallace Moment is when you come up with an interesting original idea and share it with the world when someone points out that a similar thing has already been said by someone who is more popular and suddenly you look like an asshole who stole someone’s idea (or worse a tweet) for no fault of yours!

A bit of History:

When I say Theory of Evolution, who is the first person who comes to your mind? Charles Darwin? See that is the problem. Alfred Wallace, a contemporary of Darwin, has independently come up with the same thing around the same time. Yet Darwin got all the credit (and all the heat) solely because Darwin had a Victorian age equivalent of having more Twitter followers compared to our poor Al (Alfred, I call him Al) Wallace. 

This is not a one-off incident. History is full of Alfred Wallace characters if you look carefully. Engels and Marx both came up with the whole communism thing together whereas it is now known as Marxism (In Marx’s defense, Engelsism doesn’t sound like something you want to try, does it?)

In Twitter-speak:

An Alfred Wallace Moment happens when you think of something very funny and make that wisecrack on a trending topic on Twitter only to realize that someone has already tweeted some variation of the same thing and then your fellow tweeple will suspect you of plagiarism and you drown in shame.

How to deal with it?

It can be quite a delicate situation. It happened to me a few times, most notably with this gultrage comic and it happened to Flawsophy too!

When you face these kinds of Alfred Wallace Situations, immediately go into damage control mode. Remember, the onus is on you to convince your followers that you’re not a loser who steals other people’s tweets!


January 21, 2012

Kashi Yatra

My new post published in The NRI... Check it out.

Kashi Yatra

January 12, 2012


In case you have trouble visualizing Newton's argument, this is what Newton meant by "hands acting as a natural suspension drastically reducing the contact area"

Aristotle and Plato sketch by delboysb91
Newton's caricature taken from
The Telugu comic by Bnim: 

January 3, 2012

Same to you

Thank you. Same to you

It is that time of the year when everyone wishes me a Happy New Year. And my most usual response for their good intentions is a nod of acknowledgement. If I am in a fairly good mood, which I usually am in, then I may even add an assertive “okay!” to go with the acknowledging nod.

You see, “Thank you, same to you!” doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to make an effort to remember to wish them back after having received the other person’s best wishes. And you know how I feel about work! 

Isn’t it interesting that there is no such thing as selfless Happy New Year wishes? People always expect you to wish them back soon after they wish you. If you don’t wish them back, they even go to the extent of prolonging the small talk till you utter something like “Wish you the same”.

It is almost as if the only reason they wish you is to get wished back which makes me think that at a deep level. As if all they are interested in is accumulating as many wishes for themselves as possible and in order to achieve that, they are willing to do anything – even smile at a stranger in the elevator! Now are you really comfortable being used like that?

The Timing

When it comes to wishing, I have been told that the timing is just as important as the wishes themselves. I partly agree with that because it makes no sense to wish someone Happy Birthday in July when her birthday actually falls in March! I am with you on that.

But a lot of people take it too far. They strive to achieve poetry through a phone call. You know like
As the clock strikes the midnight hour
I want to wish you a happy whatever
Where whatever can be a birthday, an anniversary or New Year! 
For birthdays, I can give you that. After all, it just lasts for… a day during whcih they’d probably be busy with the birthday party etc. if they are normal people (or busy practicing to sit with their bottoms at a 45 degree angle if they are engineering students) but midnight wishes for a new year? What is the hurry there? Don’t you have like A YEAR?

In an ideal world, the last date for submitting New Year Resolutions and making New Year wishes should  at least be March 15th!

But unfortunately we don't live in that world!

P.S: I have been quite grinchy this New Year's eve: