October 31, 2013

The Sleeper Class Protocol

The Sleeper Class Protocol
I was in a sleeper class compartment from Bangalore to Rajahmundry last week. I got an upper berth. A family of four occupied the two lowers and a middle – 4F (a little girl), 28F (her amma), and 55F (her ammamma) and 31M (her father). There was a 27M in the other middle berth and a 37M in the opposite upper.

The family of four, like any other family in a train, made themselves at home by occupying the entire place under the lower berths (3 large suitcases, 2 large bags, 3 small bags, 2 jute bags with bamboo handles, and a polythene bag), on the lower berths (hand bags, magazines, food, toys, stationery), and between the lower berths (footwear, 5L water can, stretched out legs, more food).

They didn’t just occupy physical place. They have created an emotional space around their two lower berths forcing the lone male passengers to the fringes. The 37M settled in his upper berth even though it was three in the afternoon and he was in no mood for a nap. The 27M with the middle berth occupied my upper berth and I sat on the side-lower with my legs stretched out.

29F, the side upper lady, got in at Whitefield. Her husband had a side upper in S5. We sat in our respective sides of the berth with our legs respectfully folded. I spent most of the afternoon and the evening staring out of the window looking at the rugged Rayalaseema landscape. The excellent monsoon this year has brought life to an otherwise barren Deccan landscape. It was nothing like the neatly manicured green of coastal Andhra or the wild greens further up north in Orissa but rather an inhibited green of wild grasses and semi-arid vegetation heroically growing out of the loose cracks in solid Deccan rock punctuated by large puddles of water in what used to be an excellent network of storage tanks. It was beautiful nonetheless.

The TTE came to check the tickets around dusk and that was when the side-upper lady realized that the side-lower berth was not mine. She immediately called her husband in S5 and told him that the side-lower is free even though I was sitting barely 2 feet away from her. I knew right away that she was planning to usurp me.

I went to the toilet, stood at the door for a little while and came back to see the side-upper lady encroach about six inches of my half of the berth, a subtle but noticeable assertion of territorial ambitions. I was cautious for the next one hour.

There was another joint family consisting of two brothers, their wives, kids, and a bachelor babai (chacha) having a nice family time in the next cabin playing Housie (Tambola) and munching on snacks. Their first few games were played just for fun but when they started playing for money, I felt like intruding. Now I couldn’t just go and ask them if I could join. It was a family thing. So I had to work my way into the game, first by teaching their little girl how to doodle Mickey Mouse, making an occasional eye contact with the players, smiling at their jokes once in a while until they got the point and invited me. Each ticket was 10 rupees.

For the next one and a half hours, I ate their food, played with their kids, made fun of the babai, and sucked at their game. I never thought it was possible to suck at Housie but now I know. I lost thirty rupees.

I returned to my seat to find the side-upper lady occupying almost three-fourths of the berth. I gestured the news of my arrival by clearing my throat and she responded to my gesture by reluctantly withdrawing into her half of the berth. The animosity was out in the open now. It’s funny how we knew nothing about each other except that the hatred is mutual.

Twenty minutes later, she called her husband and asked him to come for dinner. Her husband was not in the mood for dinner. He probably ate a few samosas at Kuppam. She asked him to "first come and then we can decide when we want to eat” in an impatient tone. Being an excellent eavesdropper, I knew right away what was happening and predictably her husband came and she requested me to sit somewhere else while they eat dinner. I could see the husband. I could smell the biryani. There was nothing I could do. I had to move.

I now sat on the side upper berth reading a book and they did not open the dinner for the next one hour. I knew it was unfair but what can I do. I can’t protest against a couple talking to each other. I read my book without being too worked up about it. Sometime later, the husband left and I thought I’ll go back to my side-lower. She was sitting with her legs stretched out comfortably and refused to move.

Me: Excuse me?
29F: What?
Me: I want to sit here
29F: Is this your berth?
Me: I was sitting here before you requested me to sit somewhere else while you had dinner. I notice that you have had dinner.
29F: Why don’t you sit in your place?
Me: The middle berth guy is sleeping in my berth. I’ve been sitting here since the beginning.
29F: This is not your berth.
Me: This is not your berth either.
29F: Mine is side-upper
The argument went back and forth for a few times. She claimed the right to the side-lower berth because she, as the side-upper berth passenger, already owns half the berth and it is logical that the other half belongs to her if it is free. I argued that someone was supposed to come to side-lower berth but did not. So the berth belongs to those who occupied it first, which in this case happens to be me. The side upper person only owns half the berth till 10PM after which the side-lower passenger has the right to ask the side-upper passenger to retire to her berth.

We agreed to disagree and sat on our respective halves of the berth intensely hating each other and plotting the next move. Half an hour later, she announced that she wants to sleep and that I should go to my berth. I told her I didn’t think so and took 45 minutes to eat 3 puris for the next 45 minutes while tweeting on my phone leisurely.

A gentleman from the next cabin who has been silently tracking the conflict since the beginning interfered. I reasoned with him my position that the Sleeper Class protocol states that an empty berth belongs to the first occupant. That is the rule in the general compartment. That is the rule with Waiting List tickets. Why would it be any different in this case? He agreed with me. A couple of guys from the Housie game also agreed with me. I was building the public opinion for me and was reasonably confident till she said, “Rules antha saray andi kaani ladies request chesthe koncam adjust avvaali kadha?” (Rules and all are fine but when “ladies” request, he should adjust a little don’t you think?)

The word “Ladies” has special status in Andhra culture. It’s a euphemism for respectable women and the plural is used even if it is just one woman. The rules of public behavior are very straight forward. “Ladies” should not be inconvenienced in anyway. 

I protested that she is a woman equal to me in all respects. She has no children traveling with her, she is not a senior citizen who has trouble getting to the upper berth, and she doesn’t have much luggage either but no one bought my feminism. There is no recovering from the L-bomb. My public support literally vanished and soon the public too.

I went to the wash basin to wash my hands and by the time I was back, the Evil side-upper lady has marked her territory by covering the side lower berth, my side lower berth, with a floral pattern bed sheet.

Less than ten minutes later the train stopped at Katpadi junction and the rightful owner of the side-lower, a lanky college student from Kakinada, showed his ticket and told the Evil side-upper lady that it is his berth. My lips automatically curled into a smirk which she noticed. The Katpadi junction college student from Kakinada had no chance. Some noble wars have inevitable collateral damage. He slept on side upper and I stole his side lower the moment she got down at Vijayawada.


Bonus (if you have come this far):

October 20, 2013

Don't be that guy 3

Don’t be that guy: The Awkward Wallpaper guy

Have you noticed that there are a lot of people who have "hot" pictures of models and actresses as desktop wallpapers? What's the deal with them? I understand if they are teenage students first time away from home and got a new computer in a Boys' Hostel but a mid-twenties guy with wallpapers like that on his work PC? What is the school of thought behind that?

Some guys even put a slideshow so that they don’t have to stare at the same picture all the time. It doesn't matter if it is early in the morning, late afternoon, just after dinner or past midnight, they just want to see cleavage all the time. Now they even have them on their phones. I find that fascinating.

At one level, I am impressed with their commitment and their perseverance but I always wonder, what exactly are they trying to tell the world with those wallpapers? That they are horny all the time? Or is it a subtle message to their parents that it is time for them to search for a suitable "traditional girl with modern outlook"?

Don’t be that guy: Consumer Loyalty Activist

Let me ask you a question. Do you really think Pantene shampoo has a unique pro-V formula that nourishes and protects your hair from deep within the roots? No? Then why do you think business people mean it when they say, “Customer is King”?

“Thank you for being a loyal customer” is typically the kind of bullshit they tell you when they are trick you into spending money you don’t have on things you don’t need. You shouldn’t have believed it in the first place. Common sense.

Besides why are you investing your loyalty on a corporation? Corporations don’t have ethics. They have mission statements and their objective is to make as much money as possible in whatever way possible without ever compromising on the bottom line (look it up). By definition they don’t give a shit about your loyalty, your rights, your safety, your health, your happiness or your general wellbeing. The only reason they say they do is because they are legally required to say that they do. Common sense again.

And did you just say consumer rights? What the hell are you talking about dude? You live in a country where Human Rights activists are whacked off by the police, where RTI activists routinely die in road “accidents”, where artists singing songs about songs about child malnutrition are arrested for “allegedly aiding and abetting Naxal activities”, where speaking out against superstitions can get you shot in the head by unidentified gun men and you want justice for a dispute over an online order consisting of a ballpoint pen with an LED flashlight cap? Which parallel universe are you from? Just walk across the street, stand in the queue and pay with cash like everyone else.

Don’t be the guy who uses ‘common’ when he means ‘come on’

Come on people, you shouldn't be making such common mistakes.

Don’t be that woman: The disruptive shopper

Don’t be that woman who goes shopping, makes the salesperson unfold 74 pieces of clothing before deciding that she didn't like any of them and moving on to the next section. I am probably entering dangerous territory here but why do you have to look at so many clothes, especially when you weren't even planning to buy anything in the first place?

I know window shopping is fun but what about the poor guy who has to fold all those things back?

Yes, it's his job but that doesn't mean you go to his workplace during office hours and give him more work. How would you feel if a stranger walks into your office and makes you sit through two hours of extra meetings for no reason?

Don’t be that guy who thinks he is saving the environment by taking notes on an iPad

An iPad requires about 15 kg of various raw minerals and 300 liters of water as raw material. An iPad weighs about 650g and the rest of the material goes to a landfill as toxic waste. Most of our gadgets require trace amounts of rare metals like Tantalum, Tin and Tungsten which is fueling a deadly war and genocide in Congo. The manufacturing process overall releases 15,000 liters of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Shipping is not free, so include the amount of fossil fuels burned to move the iPad from China to US and then to India through a cousin who is coming for the holidays.

Finally when Apple releases the next version, you "upgrade" yourselves by dumping it somewhere and it eventually makes its way to a slum near Delhi where the electronic trash is dismantled by hand by slum dwellers, often children, who are exposed to a range of toxic substances and we have no idea about the long term effects on their health for cleaning up the mess for us. And we'll never know because we don’t fund hospitals and researchers to study those kinds of things that happen to those kinds of people (unless they die in sufficiently large numbers for the media to milk a story on a slow news day).

But hey, the product comes neatly packed in a cardboard box that is made entirely of recyclable (but never recycled) materials. It even has a green colored picture of a tree on it. So we're cool!
Comic by Andy Singer
*All numbers from: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/04/04/opinion/04opchart.html?_r=0

[This is a public service announcement]

Don’t be that relative: The Wedding Small Talker

Don’t be that relative whose first (and only) question to any twenty-something year old woman is, “When are you getting married?”

I understand that you ask about her marriage with only the best intentions in mind. I know you want her to get married, settle down in the US, give birth to US, give them Anglicized Sanskrit names, invite the baby’s grandparents for babysitting, and live happily ever after but not all women believe in that American dream.

People these days tend to have different career trajectories, personal ambitions, education loans, childhood dreams, office shit, relationship stuff and a lot of other things to deal with before they can “settle down”. You really have no idea what is actually happening in her life, so you have no right to put peer pressure on her parents to marry her off before some imaginary Sravana Maasam based deadline. Such questions serve no purpose except causing extra stress for everyone.

You are basically the reason unmarried people don't like attending their cousins' weddings. The next time you run into a twenty-something-yet-to-be-married girl at a wedding, just compliment on her saree, inquire about her grandparents’ health and move on to the next person. If you want to extend the small talk further, you can discuss the weather, other relatives, your childhood stories, Telangana and something else.

[End of public service announcement]

September 30, 2013

Whose Mother-in-Law is it anyway?

I always get fascinated how the real owners of society have managed to raise armies to fight their causes for free.

The war in Syria?

No. No, looking at the "SAVE Attharintiki Daaredhi" campaign. I am really impressed at the majestic display of power that our leaders have in controlling the minds, thoughts and actions of the people. It's truly remarkable.

Save what campaign?

Attharintiki Daaredhi (translates to “Which way to my mother-in-law’s house?”) It’s a Telugu movie starring actor Pawan Kalyan. Scores and scores of young Pawan Kalyan fans around the world took to the streets and social media to “save” the movie.

Save the movie from what?

From internet piracy

How do you do that?

By raising awareness about the evils of internet piracy. On how by the act of selfishly watching a pirated version of the movie in the comfort of our bedrooms, we are no different from pickpockets, robbers and dacoits raiding and stealing from the movie producer’s coffers.

They are posing the most important moral question of our age: What kind of assholes deliberately do things that affect the lives of so many hard working actors, directors, producers and crew and their families?

That sounds like bullshit a Hollywood lawyer would throw at Pirate Bay. How did it all start?

Some guy with a wicked sense of humour, allegedly an editing assistant who worked on the movie, leaked high quality footage of the first 90 minutes of the movie onto the internet even before its release.

The fans (mostly males in their early teens to late twenties) were horrified at this news. They shook their head in sacrilege disbelief and wanted to fight this injustice. They took to streets, got on twitter, and formed an army. They fist-pumped, chest-bumped and high-fived each other, made resolutions to fight this war and defeat those cyber pirates.

They were not going to rest till the last pirated copy of the movie was removed off the net. They are going to make everyone go to the theatres and watch the movie there. They are going to ensure the profits for the producers. They will to use this opportunity to showcase their collective strength and establish their superiority over fans of other heroes. They will make their hero be proud of them.

Thus the campaign "Kill Piracy – Save Attarintiki Daredi – Save Telugu Films" was born.

You guys are nuts!

That is only the beginning. Telugu movie fans all around the world spontaneously burst into action. Some fans have taken resolutions to watch the movie two or three times in the theatre just to pay for the sins of their fellow dishonest Gult citizens and green card holders. They organized themselves on the social media to report links to the anti-piracy cell so that those links can be taken down and legal notices sent if required. Pawan Kalyan’s fans have formed an alliance with Mahesh Babu’s fans to raid CD shops selling pirated mp3s and shut them down.

They have shared, put up and walked around with Save Attharintiki Daredi, Save Telugu Film Industry posters and banners. Some NRIs even released videos of them wearing PAWANISM T-shirts and trying to articulate the power and greatness of their hero on their way to watch the movie. And finally when news reports emerged that the movie broke box-office collection records, they celebrated by bursting crackers on a weekday afternoon.

What is this PAWANISM?

PAWANISM is a way of life that involves watching celebrating every Pawan Kalyan movie that releases, following and worshipping the stunts, dialogues, dance and charisma of their leader Pawan Kalyan who is rumoured to be an intellectual because he was once seen wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt inside a shopping mall. The intellectual part thankfully is just a rumour.

Is he that good?

No, nothing like that. They just idolize the fictionalized persona of a mediocre actor who happens to be the younger brother of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi. It’s not just Pawan Kalyan. Every movie star has a religious following like that.

I don’t know why but part of being a fan includes praising the actor’s masculinity. All the characters in these movies make unsubtle references to the hero’s manliness, ferocity, tiger-like agility, his lion-like courage, the mass appeal of his family, his forefathers’ virility and the awesomeness of his fans and followers in general.

The fans are really into what metaphors are used to praise the power, stamina, influence and the greatness of their hero. It is one of the aspects of the movie they look forward to and compete with fans of other rival heroes on this idea of masculinity. This even forms the basis of college politics in a lot of colleges in Andhra. These manhood issues are a very recent phenomenon.

You people are nuts! I understand hero worship. Europeans break each other’s jaws over football rivalry all the time. I am all for people punching strangers in the face but fighting internet piracy like this is a little hypocritical, don't you think? I mean when was the last time you Googled "XYZ movie songs free download" and felt guilty about it?

Exactly! The hypocrisy is Himalayan. I want to take yoga classes to expand my consciousness so that I can fully appreciate the supreme irony of all this.

I know you humans and I know you are not a very honourable species to begin with. You guys aren't acing any moral-science exams just as yet. You routinely lie about what you are and what you do to your parents, bosses, girl-friends, the income tax department, traffic police and pretty much everyone. You cheat like it is your birth right if you can get away with it but two days before the release of the movie, you people are out on the streets lecturing everyone about rights and wrongs… screaming about protecting intellectual property of Telugu film makers?

That's the thing. What is so "intellectual" about these movies that warrant "protection"? The Telugu Film Industry is not oozing with original ideas and creativity by any standard. Scripts, story lines, jokes, action sequences, and music scores are routinely ripped off with impunity from Hollywood, Hong Kong, Korean and other world cinema and suddenly, this special group of anointed fans get a sudden attack of conscience, grant themselves moral worthiness, act like cyber vigilantes, shutting down shops, reporting links…

So they are trying to protect the intellectual property rights of people who have no problem stealing from others?

Pretty much. Let me make one point absolutely clear. I have nothing against this movie. I have not seen the movie. I haven’t even seen the trailer. Bits of it are probably funny. I heard that the second heroine is hot. In fact, I respect the talents of writer-director Trivikram Srinivas. The quality of the movie is NOT my concern here at all.

What is amusing to me is the total lack of perspective in these self-organized armies of fans that have formed to defend the financial interests of the movie's investors. If you look at their hard disks, I bet you’ll find a lot of Allari Naresh movies, contraband Hollywood movies and illegal porn. They didn’t buy those original DVDs. They downloaded them from the internet, just like everyone else. Let them first pay for all the HD movies, the HBO series and for all the times they jerked-off for free, maybe then I'll listen to their lectures on “The honourable way of watching a movie”

Every movie industry in the world has been reeling with the problem of piracy for a couple of decades now and Tollywood has solved it. Their efforts of building the mythology of macho star power seemed to have paid off. The most interesting thing is that these people spend their own money in droves and then take pride in the profits it generated for someone else. Even Apple cannot dream of such obedient consumers!

Here's what I find really pitiful about the fans. If anyone of the ethical self-righteous movie-going fans, after all that they have done to save the profits of the movie, walk up to the producer for a chat or something, he would most probably treat them with the same contempt as a shepherd treats a goat in his herd. The industry doesn't care about the fans. They don't give a damn. All they care is how to take their money as easily as possible. And they are already doing it quite efficiently.

Think about it. If the actors and the directors really had even the tiniest bit of respect for their loyal fans, they would at least have the decency to put an honest effort into making movies instead of selling the same recycled misogynist machismo drivel shot in a foreign location.

Instead we have fans trying really hard to say nice things about the movie with a sense of duty. And mind you, all this action is happening when the state itself is going through the worst political crisis in decades.

I totally forgot about it. Wasn't your state supposed to be split into two or three?

Yeah, ever since the central government declared in August that it is proactively considering bifurcation of the state of Andhra Pradesh, a huge political turmoil ensued in all parts of the state.

Schools and colleges were shut down, protests and strikes were enforced, banks refused to open for business, industries became inoperable, government employees are on strike, public transport is paralysed, and politicians are making trips to Delhi contemplating in their business class seats if they should threaten to resign and yes, the release of Attharintiki Daaredi itself got postponed for the same reason.

This Samaikhya Andhra paralysis is happening at a time when the economy is already at its worst with the collapse of the manufacturing sector due to the power shortage, the on-going agrarian crisis, and massive unemployment. The postal department made an announcement for two hundred odd clerk posts and more than ten thousand people – many of them unemployed engineers with education loans on their head – applied for those clerk posts! That is the future.

A lot of these fans themselves are staring into the same uncertain future but reality doesn't seem to bother them at all. The box office fortunes of their hero's films continue to be their biggest concern in life.

Am I supposed to empathize with them?

Do you want to?

I am not answering that question.

Most of this is written by Flawsophy

August 30, 2013

Ahead of the curve

"My favorite hero made more money than your favorite hero" seems to be the latest trend in Bollywood. This validates my theory that Gult people are ahead of everyone and are leading the nation in things that matter the most.

For instance, we sang “Aa ante Amalapuram” way back in 2004. Bollywood copied it when, 2012? We inappropriately ogled at Genelia D'Souza in 2003. They only started doing it only a couple of years before her marriage. We are way ahead!

Between 2001 and 2008, our movies blew up more SUVs into the air than America did in Iraq and Afghanistan during the same period. Bollywood discovered the magic of flying Tata Sumos only after Rohit Shetty happened to it.

By 2009, district-wise collection numbers of recently released mainstream movies was Breaking News on TV9. NDTV reached that state only recently. Based on these trends, I am predicting frenzy caste based violence between Akshay Kumar’s fans and Salman Khan’s fans in London by 2016.

It’s not just in patronizing useless movies (where we clearly kick ass) that we lead the nation. Among separate state movements for instance, movements for Bodoland, Vidarbha, Kodagu, and Gorkhaland etc. are just waking up now, after we crossed the finish line and Telangana is waiting for the presentation ceremony.

Our students have consistently dominated (dowry fuelled) migration to the US for at least two decades now. We are also the first ones to detect America’s decline and started migrating to Germany and Scandinavian countries because a foreign degree is cheaper in those semi-socialist countries. Again, ahead of the curve!

Narendra Modi’s paintings of a glorious “developed” Bharat may look new to you but Gults are not really impressed to be honest. You know why? Because our ex-CEO Babu Chandrababu already showed us the same neo-liberal dream in 2001 through his vision document called Vision 2020 which had visions of Hyderabad looking like a cheap 3D animated knock-off of Dubai. It was probably the first PowerPoint presentation to be shown in all movie theatres.

Multinational Corporations dictating laws in the country may be catching up now at a national level but we hired McKinsey & Co. back in 1999 to give us a road map of how to implement neo-liberal policies dictated by the World Bank and IMF. So all this talk of development and growth… its déjà vu. We’ve been there, done that. It ended in a lot of farmer suicides and 10 years of Congress rule (from which we may never recover).

The only regret about our Swarnandhra Pradesh phase, if any, is losing to Maharashtra in farmer suicides. We finished at a close second position just behind Maharashtra which continues to be the undisputed champion of Agrarian Crisis. All credit for this must go to Sharad Pawar. I give credit where it is due. 

All this talk of politics is useless banter. We don’t really care because we know God is on our side. Which other state can boast of a temple that patents its prasadam and commercially sells it in select outlets across three states? Some of our Churches gift eight cement bags to anyone who attends the Sunday prayer for six months without fail and our mosques make news only during real estate disputes and communal disharmony. Tax-free enterprises all of them!

We are also pioneers in preferring English education to our mother tongue. Parents take immense pride of the fact that their kids cannot read or write anything but English. In fact, we started this trend way back in the 1890s. It is beautifully captured in the literature of those times but we abandoned much of the progressive literature, theatre, and music of the last century, so we wouldn't know much about it.

What we do know is that our news media is the best. Did you know that there are over sixteen Telugu 24x7 news channels that look the same, feel the same, and make the same hysterical cacophony about the same non-issues at any given point of time? No other regional language or state has that many news channels. We are spoiled with choice.

The cross ownership of national media is something that is being debated in recent times but in Andhra, conflict of interest has been the norm for over 30 years now. Tamil news media however continues to define the term Conflict of Interest.

Our news channels have been leading the nation with their radically disruptive journalistic practices too. For instance they routinely barge into pubs, restaurants, hotels, bedrooms, bathrooms, and hospitals to shoot videos of people minding their own business and edit them to look inappropriate so that they can blackmail them. This ‘Either black money or TRPs’ business model is what seasoned entrepreneurs call a win-win situation.

Same trend in the paid news department too. What Telugu media was doing during the 2004 elections was quite ahead of its time. It took five more years for the national media to internalize this election rigging business model and stoop our level.

Forget politics, religion, the media and other things. India's greatest asset is its human capital and when it comes to raising the next generation, we are the all-time undisputed heavy weight champions in school education and parenting best practices.

As trailblazers in the education sector, our corporate schools and colleges have done some ground breaking research on how children spent their time and how each activity affected their performance in standardized tests. Studies have shown that children with healthy childhoods scored slightly less marks than children with no childhood. And “slightly less” is not acceptable for a competitive Andhra parent and thus the Apartment Complex High School was born.

The Apartment Complex High School is a really simple idea. I wonder why no one has ever thought of it before. It is basically a high school packed into a four storeyed apartment building. The first two floors consist of 2BHK apartments converted to class rooms. The third and fourth floors are hostels. The parking lot is converted to a kitchen and the balconies are fitted with iron grills to prevent depressed students from jumping to certain death.

The school ground is a token half basketball court with a rusted hoop and no net used for parking white SUVs belonging to the administration. But that’s okay because the kids are not allowed to play. Yeah, we abolished the games period in school sometime between 2004 and 2005. Playing games doesn't help kids score better in math, so what’s the point?

Literature, languages, social sciences, arts, games, craft and library periods also had to go to make way for “study hours” where students mug up printed notes and All-in-One guides because that is what is required for success in exams and success in exams is the ultimate goal of education in this country. Let’s not pretend any other way.

This paradigm shifting bottom-line education with focus on math, physics and chemistry marks alone has reaped us rich dividends as we can see from the number of Gults flooding the IITs each year who ultimately serve the country by doing an MBA and/or get married, hopefully with a huge dowry.

Vijayawada got its first apartment complex school more than 10 years back. Bangalore is getting them now, and we are the ones building them! Parents in other states are slowly appreciating the convenience of locking up kids in an apartment complex school from 7:30 AM to 8:30 PM. Besides, it mentally prepares them for the dead end corporate jobs they will have to do when they reach adulthood. Now that is preparing the next generation for the economy of the future.

If you are wondering what India will look like in the future, look no further than the soon-to-be erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh. Gultisthan Zindabad!

August 8, 2013

Oh my Dog!

Over the last couple of months, I have been doing some independent research on dogs (you know collecting statistics, normalizing the raw data, drawing probability density curves, adjusting for bias in fill conditional distributions and shit like that) and I think I have reached a level where I can look at a dog and its surroundings and predict with a fair degree of accuracy whether it will chase me or not. I am here to share some wisdom. Read the full post here http://www.the-nri.com/lifestyle/item/3691-my-dog-days

July 23, 2013

Genie's cat

My Worst Nightmare

May 17, 2013

Don't be that guy either

Continued from: http://gtoosphere.blogspot.com/2013/05/dont-be-that-guy.html

Don’t be that guy: Deodorant Commercial Guy

Men (most of them) like women. All men like looking at beautiful women. Women also like looking at beautiful women. Beautiful women are nice to look at. There is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong, however, is the way men look at women.

Do we really have to give that aggressive, lecherous, leering stare that involves a 180 degree sweep, full body scan, mental undressing and lusty ogling every time a women passes by? I am not talking about the eve teasers and other assorted jerks near the bus stop. Everyone from class VIII kids to 50 year old happily married uncles in this country stare like they are starring in a deodorant advertisement.

I am not asking you to stop looking at women completely. It is okay to subtly steal a glance once in a while but don’t make them feel uncomfortable. And don’t think even for a second that women like that sort of attention. They do not. I have the inside information. Women do NOT enjoy being stared at like that under any circumstance. Not even a little bit… even if you are Ryan Gosling or whoever that Hollywood Mahesh Babu is.

Don’t be that guy: Dr. U. Salaha

Some people are so very knowledgeable about health, beauty, healthy living and life in general that they feel that it is their duty to educate other people about it, even if they are complete strangers. It doesn’t matter if you have just met and are doing some polite small talk. They have to slip in a piece of totally unsolicited medical, beauty or diet related best practices based advice.

These Dr. Salahas (Salaha = advice) don’t just randomly throw advice. They do a preliminary diagnosis by scanning you from top to bottom, identify some obvious flaws (that you are already conscious about), point them out in public and then offer free solutions.

If you are a little patient, the conversation will eventually steer towards natural, herbal remedies chiefly propagated by Eenadu paper’s Vasundhara supplement.

The more you entertain their advice, the more incredulous it gets.

If you’re not fully convinced about the magical properties of everyday ingredients, they present relevant peer reviewed empirical evidence

And if you endure long enough, they get carried away and might even refer you to their favorite doctor. (This happened to me)

How do we deal with these uncles? 

Don't be that guy: The unofficial Brand Manager

Don’t be that guy who corrects people when they pronounce Volkswagen with a V instead of ‘Fau’. I know it is pronounced Folks-wagon. I just don’t give a shit about the correct pronunciation.

Don't be that guy: The Tip Nazi

Notice how some people are extremely fussy about restaurant service, especially when they are dining at posh restaurants?

They complain about everything. The list goes on and on. They have to complain about everything. People who normally don’t bother washing their hands after peepee demand hand sanitizers after touching a shiny brass door knob. These are some of the profound consequences of our “paisa vasool” mentality.

Then there are Tip Nazis. Tip Nazis are not just fussy about the service. They take it one step further and take it out on the waiters.

When you tell them to relax and calm down, they have a self-righteous tone about it, “It’s their job. I am not asking them anything out of the world. I am just asking them to do their job properly”

Sometimes the “issue” with the waiter “escalates” and the manager has to step in. The manager being experienced in these matters offers a fake smile, an empty apology and a complementary milkshake and Tip Nazi feels like Che Guevara who stood up and showed it to the system. Don't be that guy.

I understand that you’re paying for the ambience, the service and the experience blah blah blah but you’re paying the restaurant, not the waiter! The waiter gets 8000 a month for taking shit from people like you. If you really have the balls, refuse to pay the 14% service tax to the restaurant and tell them you’ll pay when they hire well trained and better paid waiters.

Don't be that guy: The Wedding Uploader

What is the deal with people who spend the first three days of their married life uploading wedding photos on Facebook? Why are they nostalgic about something that happened day before yesterday? And what is with that grand stage, the diamond ring, the kneeling down, and the cheesy proposal during the engagement in front of your parents? Do you have any idea how lame that is?

And people in the audience, why are you saying “aww” in a chorus even though deep down you know that it is an arranged marriage and they are acting out some weird Bollywood dream sequence? Don’t encourage such unoriginal behavior. It is not good for society.

Even more to come...

May 7, 2013

Don't be that guy

Going by Flawsophy’s Via Negativa principle, there are two ways to become a better person. There is the MAXIMIZE GOOD way i.e. you are inspired by people of great courage, integrity, perseverance, wit, charisma, compassion, empathy, humility, kindness, magnanimity and want to be like that. Or you can simply MINIMIZE BAD by trying to ‘not be an asshole’.

Our mythology, popular culture and even self-help books are full of MAXIMIZE GOOD stories of inspiration, determination and the triumph of human spirit but (unfortunately) there isn't much emphasis on the MINIMIZE BAD approach.

Most of the challenges we encounter in the course of our mundane lives are domestic in nature where the stakes are not big enough to force us to “Rise to the occasion” and be a “hero” in the traditional sense. These domestic encounters however leave a lot of scope for people to act like assholes and get away with it and they do it way too often.

I believe that the world will be a better place if everyone consciously avoids being ‘that guy’ who does ‘that thing’.

Don’t be that guy: The Lift Caller

I was in a Schindler’s Lift the other day with six strangers and this fully grown man walked in talking on the phone. It wasn't an apologetic hushed “Okay… okay… I’ll call you later. Byebye” phone call. He was talking on the phone like a boss giving a full-fledged Knowledge Transfer session on the tax saving investment plans he has purchased in his 8 year old son’s name.

Everyone says Indians have no respect for other people’s privacy but they’re all wrong. We are yet to respect our own privacy! Respecting other people's privacy comes much later. I mean look at this guy. He walks in, stands right in between six awkward strangers and has a personal conversation like he was strolling in a coconut grove in Amalapuram.

It didn't end there. Once he was inside the elevator the phone’s reception got worse. A normal person under this circumstance would think, “Oh, I am in a metal box that is dangling in midair in the corner of a tall, large building. I should probably hang up and call back later when I am not surrounded by these creepy elevator people” but not this guy! This guy believes in freedom of speech in its purest form – noise.

Don’t be that guy: Obsessive Compulsive (Missed Call) Disorder

Don’t be the guy who gives 80 missed calls in the 90 minute span when his girlfriend is away from her phone. If she’s not answering the phone, she is probably busy with something, or having dinner, or sleeping, or watching a movie, or reading something, or just doesn’t feel like being on the phone right now. Women have a life outside their relationships too, you know?

As a general rule, do not give more than two back to back missed calls unless large numbers of people are dying in a short span of time (like an earthquake or a Zombie apocalypse).

And girls, stop counting the number of missed calls as a measure for how much he misses you. That is pathetic. If a guy is spending an hour of his free time giving 40 missed calls, it clearly means that he has no hobbies, no interests, no imagination or thoughts of his own. Why do you even like him?

Don’t be that guy: The Street Parkers

When it comes to parenting, parents really suck

I do not wish to contend C2's statement. I would just like to add that society sucks too because there are some things which even parents cannot control.

This gentleman in our colony for instance has two cars but only one car parking spot, so he parks his second car on the street. (It is amusing how people buy cars without figuring out where to park them). Now that he has parked his car on the footpath, it becomes his marked territory. He also gets furious at anyone who doesn't treat that space with the reverence and respect he thinks it deserves.

Thanks to gentlemen like these, there is an endless line of parked cars on every footpath on every street in every colony of every city because of which kids cannot play cricket because “the ball might break something”, cannot burst crackers because “it is too dangerous”. Edu penkulaata (Pitthu/Satoliya), Guti Billa (Gilli-danda) and a hundred other street games are not even in the vocabulary of the next generation because "if something happens to any of the cars, whose father will pay?"

What used to be a nimble, lively, and defining aspect of childhoods in our culture is now a parking lot – a cheap parking lot.

And then these car parkers meet up in social gatherings and reminisce in nostalgia, “When I was a kid, I used to play on the street all the time. In fact during summer vacations, we used spend more time on the street than inside the house… this generation kids toh… they spend all the time in front of the computer and Xbox only baba.”

More to come: http://gtoosphere.blogspot.in/2013/05/dont-be-that-guy-either.html

April 6, 2013

Yet another Gult movie

What are you doing in the kitchen? Are you eating my roommate's Maggi again?
What else am I supposed to do? It’s been an hour and a half since I ate something. I even sneaked into your neighbor’s kitchen but I hate the cold, tasteless tetra pack milk you humans drink these days…
One of these days, one of my roommates is going to kick you out of the house. Don’t blame me if that happens
What’s with the grouchy mood?
I just came back from a Gult movie
How was it? Wait… Let me guess, it sucked and it was the worst three hours of your life.
Yes, the usual but this movie made me think. Why is it that Gult people HAVE to watch every movie that is cleared by the censor board without any bias, discretion or standards?
Are you talking about Telugu Cine fans?
Why single out the “fans”? Everyone is like that. Sometime in the last ten years, an entire generation of Telugu people has been convinced that every movie that hits the theaters ought to be watched in the theater. I don’t know how that happened but it did – Ritualistic movie going
It’s a part of your culture now
It is our culture. Thursday evenings: Eleven pradakshanams at Sai Baba temple. Friday evenings: New movie at Prasad’s multiplex – That’s the time table.

The thing that really baffles me is that people aren't tired of it. I mean it’s the same movie over and over again. Every hero in a mainstream production is essentially the same misogynistic, boorish, less talented knock off of yesteryear Chiranjeevi but with an unlimited SMS pack on his cellphone. He keeps fighting the same villain – a power hungry businessman-feudal lord with a daughter of marriageable age. The music is a pile of shit and the lyrics are the stink that emanate from it as it rots.

The romance is the same outdated, self-repeating, boring-as-a-block-of-wood Neanderthal mythology where the damsel in distress falls for the eve teasing asshole because he is probably a “nice guy” at heart.

People basically have been watching the same potboiler for the last 15 years. These are the same people who will shout if their mom cooks the same vegetable twice in a week!
Well, your people have always been a little fanatic about movies
Yes but it happens at a totally different scale now. It used to be that people went to the theater only if they were sure that it is worth three hours of their time and read some movie gossip once in a while from the Sitara magazine stocked in the barber’s shop but now it’s crazy.

Movies are the only thing on TV, on radio, on the internet, in the newspapers, on social media, at weddings, gatherings, schools, colleges, trains, buses, hospital waiting rooms…
Yes, that is really irritating
And people passionately follow everything too. They follow the movie right from its announcement, to the press release, the launch muhoortham, the first look, photo stills, audio preview, audio release function (live), controversies, gossip, platinum disk function, movie teaser, ‘official’ trailer, second trailer, item number, and after all this hype, the three hours of old shit on new toilet paper is met with obvious disappointment and then their fans go through the five stages of grief!

Wow, your generation spends ALL its free time, energy, resources, ability, thought and surplus on the Telugu Film Industry complex. That’s a little weird given how bad they are these days
Let’s not even talk about quality. We are living through the dark ages for Telugu movies as an art form – the range of themes, the writing, the acting, the music, the lyrics, the portrayal of women, the portrayal of men – all of them are on an all-time low
Except the profits!
That’s the tragedy…. bad movies go unpunished. In fact they do good business because we will watch anything
But hey, the comedy is still pretty good… most people at least claim that.
Yeah, you can say that but comedy has always been consistently amazing in Telugu culture. We are a people with a great sense of humor. So we’re not doing anything exceptional in the comedy department either. We’re just managing thanks to the amazing comedians and individuals like Brahmi, Kota, Tanikella Bharani, Ali, M.S Narayana, Dharmavarapu Subramanyam etc.
Yeah Brahmanandam’s 20 minute track pretty much decides whether a movie is a hit or a flop
What worries me is that we don’t have a next generation of funny people and Jandhyala’s generation is not getting any younger. The humor itself is moving towards a loud, loaded with on-your-face insults, innuendos, and slapstick moments compared to the subtle idiosyncrasies and clever wordplay
Yes, and Brahmi is getting beaten up way too often. Every bonehead hero with a 50 paisa face wants to trash him and put it on his resume. And that Ali fellow should stop wearing that female costume. Ugh!
He’s the only woman character that stands out if you notice. There are no women in our movies anymore, just cleavage and a navel with Sunitha’s voice. And she is there for the hero to cook for him, dance with him, stalked by him and finally saved by him.
How come Gult girls don’t complain?
They do sometimes. Those who feel strongly about such things have stopped watching Telugu movies altogether. Some have accepted that it is not going to change anytime soon, so they cringe and watch anyway. It helps that none of the heroines look Telugu. But those who grew up watching only these movies are totally desensitized. They even aspire to be cute, helpless and borderline retarded.
"Haha… Hasini" There’s this thing called a Bechdel test which is used to identify gender bias in fiction. Did you know about that?

To pass the test, a movie should satisfy three simple criteria. It should have (1) at least two women (2) who talk to each other (3) about something other than a man
All those posh tests our gult movies wont pass babu. It is “out of syllabus”
Most of the Hollywood movies also fail that simple test. The movie industry is like that.
Don’t blame the Telugu Film Industry for any of this. The industry is doing very well for itself. It has bigger houses, better cars, and hotter chicks, plenty of money, media support, more political power, rave parties, and a generation of obedient fans willing to watch anything.

The industry is fine. The people are fucked.
Take any train/flight/bus from anywhere in the world to Andhra Pradesh, the most common sight is a Gulti sitting in the seat and looking into his laptop/smartphone/tablet screen.

We don’t know of any other hobbies. We have no personal interests. This is what we do with our free time. We plug in our ear phones, shut down our minds, and stare at a screen that is playing ‘Dookudu’ for the nineteenth time.
Without getting bored… that is the amazing part
I don’t know if sociologists are studying us, they totally should. It’s an amazing bubble we live in where young people’s identities are so closely tied to what kind of bad movies they prefer, which hero they worship. And everyone has to worship someone. They even have their own “isms”.
Like the unemployed members of the Morampudi Mega-Power Youth Association?
No, I am talking about the educated, brand conscious, cappuccino-sipping, Android-loving, dowry-demanding software engineers (and soon-to-be software engineers) with good educational background and on-site experience sitting in office and having passionate “our caste heroes are better your caste heroes” fights on the internet!
Haha… Yo hero so fat that his belt is the size of the Equator!
We even have strategies to sit through bad movies. When I say I didn’t like a particular movie people say, “No, you’re not watching it correctly” as if there is a right way to watch a movie and a wrong way
Don’t you know? To fully enjoy a movie, we have to turn off our common sense, intelligence, sensibilities, music sense, respect for women, teachers, law and order, society, the environment, and life on earth in general.
And people do it. They are happy to leave their brains outside the theater. Their commitment is amazing. We should release a postage stamp commemorative of the Gulti Movie-goer or something.
I am not very surprised by all this. It is all consistent with what is happening in the state
Yeah, we’re the first Post-reading Generation.

This is a generation that stopped reading. Not just “general” reading like literature, science, biographies, history etc. This is a generation that has never read its own school text books. We only have printed sheets of “important questions” with answers which are to be memorized and puked in the exam hall. That is how everyone earns their degrees!

So it is not surprising that we have this culture where millions of “educated” people in their 20s are proud to have not read a single book their whole lives; a culture that ridicules and alienates those who have; a culture where education is a transaction in which parents mortgage their ancestral property for an “MS from US”; a culture where success means immigrating into a mediocre job in a developed country; a culture that lacks self-respect and confidence in the face of globalization and consequently, a reactionary “we’re like that only” pride in our mediocrity.
Gultisthan Zindabad!
We don’t have to specially shut down our brains while watching movies. We have shut them down a long time back!
Co-authored by Flawsophy

March 11, 2013

Gulti as Charged

It has come to my attention that some Telugu people do not like being referred to as “gults”


I don’t know. I am just stating the popular feeling. They seem to be angry about it. Not exactly angry, maybe they find it distasteful.

Go on...

Some people also find it a little insulting. A few even go as far as raising an objection to the use of the word while others merely disapprove of it.

Thankfully no one found it to be “controversial” yet, none of the “sentiments were hurt” by the “insensitive” word and you are lucky that no one took "offense"

I still don't see what the big deal is. It’s just a silly word. Gult/Gulti (originally Golti) is a word invented by Tamilians to (sometimes condescendingly) refer to Telugu people. I learned the word in my first year of college and we have all been using it ever since.

Your foul-mouthed College is different from society. You are part of "Jana Jeevana Sravanti" now

Now, I understand why some people don’t like the G-word. I have personally seen it being used in a very insulting and disdainful way but what is the point of attacking the word? If you replace the word ‘gult’ with the word ‘splork’, it would still be equally offensive!

Yes, but still...

Words by themselves are harmless be it gult, rape, nigger or whatever. It is always the context that makes them offensive. If people have the time, they should be attacking the narrow-minded, chauvinistic, cow-belt supremacist asshole who uses the word with such contempt

Okay, if it is not a big deal then why are you so hell bent on using it?

I am not hell bent or anything. It’s just that I like the word. Gult is such a nice word. It’s a beautiful word. It has only two syllables, ends with a vowel sound, naturally fits into the English grammar, we can use it to universally refer to any Telugu speaking fellow from Srikakulam to San Fransisco and it rhymes with cult. What more do you want from a word?

Give me a worthy replacement and I’ll stop using the G-word

Why don’t you use the normal word for Telugu people?

What "normal" word for Telugu people? There are words like Mallu, Tamilian, Bengali, Gujarati, and Marathi etc for those linguistic groups. Even Kannada people have a nice word like Kannadiga going for them but there is no word for Telugu people as a whole.

How about Telugus?

It's not a very convenient word. It's like referring to North Indians as Hindis or Bihari Muslims as Urdus - doesn't make much sense. If we start calling ourselves Telugus, then Amits will start pronouncing it tel-goose (तेलगूस ) which sounds like something you'd order in an expensive Gourmet restaurant.

Example: I would like to have a Roasted Tel-goose with chickpeas and cider gravy please.

Haha... making fun of North Indian accents should be more mainstream. "People from Bhimavaram are Tel-goose from 'waste' Godavari district!"

Besides, the word is not at all compatible for use with the English language. Suppose I want to mention that a particular gult fellow speaks horrible Telugu, I have to say something like,

"This Telugu's Telugu is horrible" -- the first Telugu refers to the person and the Telugu following it refers to the language. See it is ambiguous and confusing as opposed to "This gult's Telugu is horrible" which is simple, clear and direct.

G-word: 1 – 0: Telugus

Okay, how about Andhraites? People from Chennai are called Chennaites. I don’t know if they like the word but given that Bal Thackeray has ruined the word Madrasi for everybody, we’re not left with many options.

Nah! The word Andhraite is geographically binding. What about Telugu people who do not belong to the state of Andhra Pradesh, those settled in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Orissa etc. for generations? Should we call them Andhraites too, even if they have nothing to do Andhra?

It's just a convention that people can adopt

Let's assume all the gults from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Orissa, New Delhi, New Jersey, Atlanta, Texas, California, West Indies, Fiji islands and Zambia adopt the word Andhraites, Telangana people are still going object to it. Why would they let you call them Andhraites when they are Telanganites?

These T party fellows...

If a separate Telangana happens, we'll have to use two words then -- Andhraites and Telanganites. This is going to cause mayhem among the Non-Resident Gult community that they will insist on calling Avakai-Americans on the lines of African-Americans just to avoid the confusion!

Your ability to see the worst in everything continues to amaze me.

Thank you. Even if Telanganites and Avakai-Americans wholeheartedly accept the word Andhraite, I’d still refuse to use it for the simple reason that Andhraite sounds like some cheap Aluminium ore, something Vedanta Inc. would want to dig! For example, "Southern Orissa has a lot of Andhraites while the northern districts are rich in Bauxite".

Some people in Bangalore sometimes use the word Telgite which I think is even worse!

Haemetite, Magnetite, Andhraite, Bauxite, Cryolite, Telgite, Araldite, Pidilite... *purr*

Okay, that's enough!

What about the Last Syllable Nomenclature your father uses?

Yes he has developed his own system of stereotyping people. He calls Gults as Gu-bacchas. North Indians as Di-bacchas, and Americans as Ish-bacchas etc. But that doesn't go well with English. It is meant for non-serious conversations in Telugu/Bengali only.

Another common way of naming linguistic groups is by suffixing the noun with –ese like Chinese, Japanese etc. That would make you Telugese.

Seriously? Are we still doing this?

Sigh... there is no universal word for the Telugu speaking diaspora!

No, there is a word -- The G-word. Whether you like it or not, Gulti is the best word we have to universally refer to the Telugu speaking diaspora.

To be honest, I am little disappointed that you people are still arguing about these silly words. I mean, how can we have Gultisthan without the Gulti?

March 2, 2013

Guide to Upper Middleclass Parenting part 2: The School Years

The second part of the post on Upper Middleclass Parenting. Read the complete post here: http://www.the-nri.com/index.php/2013/02/the-parent-trap-part-2/
Image courtesy: www.lol-heaven.com

February 25, 2013

Guide to Upper Middleclass Parenting -- part 1

And then there is a sixth: The Upper Middleclass Parenting. Read the post on The NRI -- http://www.the-nri.com/index.php/2013/02/the-parent-trap/

January 6, 2013

Outrage on Outrage

Wasn’t it depressing?


The whole Nirbhaya thing.

Is that her real name?


Then why is everyone calling her Nirbhaya?

The media gave her this name to protect her privacy. Some people are calling her Damini too.

It is interesting that the media can give anyone any fictionalized name they want. How come she is “fearless”? Who gets to assign these names? Is there like one person whose job is to assign random names to various victims and then write (name changed to protect identity) next to it?

I’d love to have a job like that.

Maybe they don’t leave such delicate matters to the whims and fancies of one person. I am guessing there is a Victim Renaming Committee in each media organization that assigns names to victims whose “privacy” they want to “protect”.

I can already imagine the meeting that came up with the name ‘Nirbhaya’. Some corporate looking manager fellow must have said, “Alright guys, Hindi news channels are already calling her Damini. Let us brainstorm a list of appropriate names and then we’ll pick the best out of it. Just throw your ideas around, be creative, and remember: No idea is a bad idea!’’

I am even willing to give you away to another cat just to get a hold of that list.

Woah! You are MY cat. I am NOT your human. Haven’t I made it very clear?

Let’s not get into that. How did Facebook people take the news?

1 Like = 100 slaps for all rapists” said one and got a hundred likes. “Death for the rapists” cried another to greater applause. Chemical castration, public lynching, cutting off the wiener with a pair of scissors and feeding it to rodents… everyone had their own idea of justice and most of them included invoking vivid imagery ranging from 13th century Sharia style stoning to Garuda Puranam style torture in the afterlife.

*cough* Wahhabi regime *cough*

The Political Correctness police have decreed that she’s a rape SURVIVOR now, not a rape VICTIM because, you know, being a rape victim is a stigma in our society.

I don’t think the word ‘victim’ is the problem here. There is no shame in being referred to as a riot victim or an accident victim. Technically, it is the word ‘rape’ that is taboo. Why not replace that? Let’s go Carlin all the way and refer to her as an unwilling sperm recipient!

Political Correctness only makes the violence seem subtle

It is interesting to see the different forms outrage takes

Yeah, some people take it personally like how the rapist is a sick, perverted psychopath who ought to be punished in colorful ways based on their favorite era of barbarism to show future potential rapists that we mean business!

Just a short tempered reaction…

Yes, and the anger goes away real quickly too. This guy is shouting KILL THEM, HANG THEM, RAPE THEM BACK and all sorts of things and two minutes later he is commenting on his friend’s engagement pictures with a lot of smileys. That’s weird.

Facebook Turing Machines, all of them ;)

The second category is the Outrage Machine. The mainstream media strokes it wonderfully well. They have truly capitalized on this high intensity drama.

They make sure they never pick a side. That is how you maximize profit… by pleasing all the parties involved: the victim’s family, the “market base” they are trying to entertain, and the government which protects and bails them out during tough times.

First, they spin the story into a sob fest giving her names like Nirbhaya, Damini, Amanat and then they come up with the usual neutral, non-threatening, non-inquisitive, ass-kissing narratives like, “HOW UNFORTUNATE… OH! HOW BRUTAL… SHE WANTS TO LIVE… PRAY FOR HER… THE BRAVE ONE… INDIA’S FAVORITE DAUGHTER… LET US SALUTE THIS MARTYR… LIGHT A CANDLE… OBSERVE TWO MINUTES OF SILENCE… and hey, while you are at it… CHRISTMAS SALE!

No wonder they were chasing ambulances carrying rape victims. I am sure it improved their Q3 profits

And as the protests intensified, there was consensus among all the news channels that the people’s anger is not against one rape incident but it is outrage against all rapes, the way women are treated in our society, the apathy of the police, lack of respect for due process, the snail paced courts, the paralysis of our parliament, the state of the world, the chaotic nature of the Universe and humanity’s collective failure to unify the General Theory of Relativity with Electromagnetism into a Unified Field Theory!

It's in their interest to prolong the issue and maintain the confusion as long as possible.

The other thing they passionately did to fuel the Outrage Machine was to fish for misogyny. They have searched the length and breadth of the country to find MLAs, MPs, ministers, policemen, senior bureaucrats, scientists, religious people, film stars and all kinds of people who made insensitive, asshole statements like “DENTED AND PAINTED… SHE WAS ASKING FOR IT… WHAT WAS THE GIRL DOING OUTSIDE HER HOUSE AFTER SUNSET? … SHE SHOULD HAVE RESISTED… SHE SHOULD HAVE SURRENDERED… WESTERN CULTURE… BAD PUNJABI RAP and published them with anguish about the times we live in.

The irony…

Okay, the guy’s “music” is disgusting but what is point of directing all the anger towards one person? He just happens to be on the fringes of an industry that makes its money by objectifying women. You can’t celebrate “Munni badnaam hui” and “Shiela ki Jawani” by giving them Filmfare Awards and then call Honey Singh an asshole!

One standard is enough for everybody, we don’t need a double.

The Outrage Machine consumed all the news and outraged at a scale we haven’t seen in recent times. “If this SON OF A PRESIDENT talks like this… what else do you expect?”; “Did you hear that? She is a SCIENTIST and she is a WOMAN… this is disgusting!” MLAs, MPs, POLICE, TEACHERS, GOD MEN … yes it is not very hard to find assholes in this country. We already know that.

Aren’t people tired of this shit?

People are, but the Outrage Machine never gets tired. The third kind of outraged people get emotional and take themselves too seriously.
The Internet Revolutionaries who are draped in their pajamas, lying on the bed tweeting as if they are part of this new-age secret society on the boundary-less internet and all smug about how they wish they were getting Lathi charged and tear gassed while they are going to light candles and shout slogans at Freedom Park or Jantar Mantar and be part of a “revolution”, you know like Rang De Basanti.

They are like the ones who “woke up this morning in Addis Abeba wishing I was at India Gate, wanting to be tear-gassed, wanting to be lathi-charged, wanting my holiday to end and to be standing with people like me…“

haha... కడుపు నిండిన బేరాలు as they say in Telugu ;)

Clearly, she has never been on the other side of a policeman’s lathi. Else, she would never wish it upon herself.

Louis CK captures this Internet Revolutionary Liberal mood beautifully

The next category has people who belong to The Battalion of The Completely Useless. These are the people who keep saying, “Men get horny all the time… The real problem is human nature… Unless men change their attitude towards women, things will remain like this… We should educate children to treat women well… Mothers should raise their sons to be sensitive towards women… We should look inwards and ask ourselves … is this the world we want our daughters to grow up in?… we should be better role models for our kids starting tomorrow… and for tonight, let us all hug a little extra tight as we sleep… and be thankful for what we have… to keep the spirit alive… hopefully one day, we’ll learn to love each other” or whatever the fuck all that means!

Haha… they add no value to the debate. They are not giving us any new facts, neither are they are not giving us any new insights. Except comedy or entertainment value, this point of view has no practical value at all. It is fun to have such colourful characters though.

To be fair, people were genuinely outraged. I mean we are the 123rd safest country to be a woman and that is bad. Even by our standards. And our government also handled it in the worst possible way.

Their first reaction to the protests was suppressing – Shutting down public transport, cordoning off areas, deploying additional security for the politicians, Lathi charges, water cannons, tear gas (optional) and Section 144.

The usual Police State Style

Then they flew her out of the country as a preemptive political move to prevent the on-going street protests from intensifying. And now that she died, they are giving her a state funeral, special aircraft, special postage stamp, flags at half-mast and other memorial shit as if she is some kind of a war hero.

How is she a martyr? That doesn’t even make sense. A martyr is someone who voluntarily chooses to suffer death rather than renounce their principles. War heroes are heroes because they volunteer to take the risk for a higher cause you are cool with. There is no higher cause here. She did not volunteer for anything. There is nothing ‘fearless’ about getting into a bus at 9 o’clock in the evening. She was just a normal girl who was going home after watching the movie. Let her be that “human” person.

Our political class is clearly afraid of its own citizens. That is why they send out poorly trained police force to crush any small sign of dissidence.

As far as the police are concerned, it is just another day at work. That is how they deal with every protest. Farmers, price rise, labor rights, women’s rights, nuclear plant, corruption, land grabbing, child malnutrition, water…. It doesn’t matter what you are protesting for, this is what you are going to get.

Have you noticed that the media rarely talks about the unnecessary use of force by the police when poor people protest?

They don’t cover most of the people’s movements to begin with. Those protests happen in “Bharat” you see, the third world country where people hold signs and placards in vernacular tongues saying they don’t want mines, nuclear plants, dams and factories built on top of their houses. They don’t want “development”.

But we live in this country called “India”, an emerging market and rising superpower where these protests are a “nuisance” because they create a “bad investment climate”.

The recent Delhi protests happened in “India” with urban middle and upper middleclass people holding sign boards in English and that is why the “Bharat” Sarkar’s methods of dealing with dissent are being questioned now.

It is good that they are being questioned at least now.

None of this outrage is gravitating towards finding an effective fix to the rape and sexual harassment problem. The criminals win more often than not because they know exactly what they want. A rapist knows what he wants. It is the same case with a company that exploits their workers; a politician who scams the public; corporations that rape mother earth; or a Bhopal gas tragedy.

Look at how well the criminals are organized. The big criminals I mean –- politicians, corporations, media and the bureaucracy. They are organized at the global level. They cover each others asses when they are facing the heat. The police provide security to the politicians. The politicians protect the police from scrutiny, the corporations write labor laws and mining companies are in charge of environment regulation.


The reaction to the crime on the other hand is always spread out all over the place. Some want all the rapists to be hanged. Some want us to look inwards and meditate. Some people are happy that Congress is going to pay for it in 2014. And right wing people pretend that rapes don’t exist at all!

You don’t even know what you’re protesting for. You don’t even good mechanisms to collect statistics that might help nail the criminals. All public debate only happens in the emotional space. We rarely see any arguments backed up by real data.

Yeah, emotional responses in short bursts cannot bring any meaningful change

You humans suck at democracy

We have failed to develop that scientific culture. Elections here are primarily won by vote bank politics, not through debate and reason.

But democracy is not about voting your favorite feudal lord and hoping that he’ll be benevolent. Democracy is about dialogue. Democracy is about humans organizing themselves and demanding what they want and getting it.

Historically, all the rights and freedoms you have today like your fundamental rights, freedom of speech, labor rights, judicial rights… all of them have been the result of hard won and often bloody struggles. They weren’t “given” to you by your rulers because “it was the right thing to do”. Bullshit, the rulers of the time did everything in their power to deny you those rights! And given a chance, they’ll take them back again and that is what they are doing.

Democracy is a continuous process of imposing the will of the people and making life difficult for those in power unless they do the right things. Elections are just one aspect of it. Democracy has been around for 2000 years and still you don’t get the essence of if!

Now, that is a lot of democracy coming from a cat!

Cats are Anarchist. We know better.

But there is only so much the government can do. The problem is just not a question of law enforcement. It is about the society that we live in, our patriarchal mindset itself. I mean, we are a culture of Goddess worshippers who burned millions of women along with their dead husbands. If you are a woman and made of stone, you're revered. If you're made of flesh and blood, you're on your own!

Bullshit doesn't get any finer. There is something fundamentally wrong with a society that gropes women who are protesting against sexual harassment!

Yeah, there are no easy solutions. There is no giant off button that says “Press to stop all rapes” that we can go and click. The brutality of this particular rape is almost unimaginable. Why are such psychopaths roaming free? How alienated from the system must one feel to even think of doing something like that to another human being? What are the conditions that create such maniacs?

Is it the rising income inequality? The conditions of horrible poverty, objectification of women, economic policies that accelerate these conditions, apathy of the majority, dowry, female infanticide…

The only way to go about is to take scientific approach of collecting data, crunching and empirically arrive at feasible solutions that make the roads safer for our women and make those specific demands. Any solution that doesn’t include these two processes will end up belonging to the four categories of outrage.

Which one do you belong to?

My allegiance is solely to The Battalion of the Completely Useless!

Co-written by Flawsophy