Monday, July 22, 2013

Mission: Impossible - Guest Protocol

It’s not the alarm function on your phone that wakes you up on a Sunday morning, but the incoming call function. An early morning confirmation of availability as gracious hosts is given by your dad to the relative who just called and expressed the desire to pay you a family visit; and your mum’s forehead gets wrinkled in less than two seconds. Before the anti-wrinkle cream can complain, the mother will express her heart’s discontent in words that translate to butchering of a beloved Sunday.

You won’t complain, though. There’s going to be good food and a change from the mundanity of the usual slow death of a weekend. But as soon as you come out of the bathroom, you see your mum talking to the maid over the phone, shouting about the number of sick leaves she takes, and then going ballistic on the whole family about how she gets not even a single day off, while the maid chooses to disappear every single time that some guests have to come over. This is enough sign for you to realize that you better pick up the dirty rag from your old t-shirt to dust all the furniture clean before you think of reading the boring interview on the last page of Brunch, which nonetheless, is the most exciting thing about that morning.

The father will try to appease the mother by saying that they can order for food, and you will immediately shout that you’ll take charge of getting it. The lady of the house will not agree to the idea, saying that you’re going to anyway order for Dal Makhni and a paneer dish, which she’ll make better than what the dirty restaurant chef makes, wearing dirty clothes, in a dirty kitchen, in dirty utensils. The shattering sound that you will then hear will be of your heart that knows no matter how good a cook your mother is, her dal will never taste the same as what the local Punjabi restaurant guy makes. Facepalm yourself with the mop and get back to cleaning!

Dusting is the hardest part of the cleaning job, because you’re so experienced at putting things at the right place that no one can beat you at a game of it even in AXN’s Minute to Win It. Just pick up all the stuff lying on your bed, your desk, on the dining table, et cetera, et cetera and shove it into anything that looks even remotely like a closet and has a door to conceal the treasure. Little things go into the drawers which haven’t been emptied in years. If you feel guilty, just tell yourself that trying to shut the door of the overflowing wardrobe and adjusting all the things in the drawer to make it close is a very daunting task.

With immense grief you change into your jeans, knowing that it never feels as comfortable to scratch your crotch in them as it does in your shorts. Also, before you forget, please make sure to get a good number of members of the samosa-dhokla family well before the guests arrive. Trying to leave for the sweet shop after they arrive will expose you to two risks: One, of them asking you not to go out to get anything for them. And second, of you embarrassingly trying to hide the packet of snacks all the way from your front door to the kitchen.

As soon as you see the guests getting out of their car, just mentally revise the ritual of touching their feet. Deciding if you should just stop at “Namaste” or go the whole nine yards towards their feet is a common dilemma faced by the youth of today. Trust me, always go for the feet. It’s shameful if you just stop at Namaste and then your father tells you to touch their feet. It just doesn’t end there. The guest will tell you not to, and say shit like, “Arrey, buddha banayega yaar mujhe”. If you think that exempts you from touching their feet, you’re badly mistaken. Now that your dad has already suggested that you touch his feet, you better go and touch not just his feet but of everyone who enters the house that day. The Hindu Undivided Family Act only exempts unmarried girls from touching their elders’ feet as seen in the case that involved some old Punjabi woman and my sister. The judgment reads, “Dheeyaan pair nina chhundiyan.

The game of No-One-Will-Be-a-Millionaire starts with the easiest, “Thanda, garam, chai, coffee?” One of the guests will say coffee right at the moment when the other three say chai. Then witness him saying that he’ll settle for tea, while your parents will persist in trying to convince him that it takes no additional effort in making both tea and coffee simultaneously. The kid will obviously ask for some shitty drink like Frooti and you can let your sister act cuddly with him, telling him that he should take orange juice because it’s healthier. No one will want to tell the little boy that you don’t give a shit about what is healthier; you just don’t stock Frooti at your house. Go to your kitchen with the brother/sister/whoever and prepare welcome drinks for all as your mother proudly tells the aunty that her kids can easily manage the kitchen.

If you thank your stars that your parents no longer go Russell Peters on you and ask you to perform dance, music and karate in front of the guests, don’t worry. The guests will slowly karate slice you in front of everyone by making small talk which is not small by any standards. First comes the: “Aur, ab iski shaadi kab karva rahe ho?” to which your parents will in unison say, “Abhi kahaan! Abhi toh settle hona hai.” If you think your parents were siding with you, you can’t be more wrong. I mean, who in frig’s name gets settled by twenty-two? Answering by just saying that there are a few years for that would be enough! The questions that follow will somehow always branch out to whether you plan to do an MBA or not. It’s about time that you realize that this is a trick question. If you answer in the negative, you’ll get a: “Beta, aaj kal MBA toh is a must!” Answering in the affirmative leads to: “MBA nahi hua mazaak ho gaya. Aaj kal har gali nukkad mein MBA college khula hua hai!” A little part of you would want to agree with him, but then you realize that 70% of your body is water, and the non-liquid part doesn't give a hoot. Just smile and cuss them all you want in your brain. They will never know. Why? Because they don’t think you have a brain.

As your mum steps into the kitchen, the aunty will come running after and say, “Bhabhi, aap kahan kitchen mein hi lag gaye?

Arrey kucch bhi toh nahi kara maine. Bas ek dal, ek paneer, ek palak-corn aur ek Thai vegetable banayi hai.” *fake lady-giggles*

Don’t bother thinking about why the uncle is having Thai curry with the chapattis. Hog on the paneer like a glutton. Trust your mom to make it taste more butter-masala than Nigella Lawson. (Side note for girls: Here, the “butter masala” is being compared to Nigella Lawson and not Nigella Lawson to the mother. The guys won’t need this explanation.)

Bollywood teaches us that every movie has an action climax scene towards the end. The same logic applies to a guest visit in real life. As the guests are about to leave, the aunty takes out a five-hundred rupee note, crumbles it tightly in her fist and tries to hand it over to you. It is disgusting being handed over money like that because the mother will immediately fight back and refuse in a stern voice. You can’t help but think why the ghar ka chirag is always made to feel like he is being pimped away. Also, don’t call it a cat fight when two ladies fight over if you should get money or not. It’s just disturbing! The note will eventually be forced down your shirt pocket; stand still.

The mumbles and grumbles of a ruined Sunday take voice from the time the guests’ car is being waved at and will follow with rising decibel levels into your parents’ bedroom. Just go to the drawing room and eat all the left over snacks. All’s well that ends well.

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I found this really cool video on desi parents and guests by Jus Reign. Watch this shizz; it's hilarious!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Hindustan Times Feat. My Life is a Jalebi

I opened the papers this morning to see facebook being turtle-slapped Mutant Ninja style. Why and how, you ask? Every time that I open my facebook page to promote a post from my blog, Zuckerberg’s greedy blue HTML codes suggest that I pay them Rs. 609 to keep my post on the home feed of a few hundred people for one day. And today, the Hindustan Times featured a little piece on My Life is a Jalebi under the “Delhi Blog of the Week” section, thus putting the word out about this cheeky little online trashbag on not just the “home feeds” but in a few thousand actual “homes”, for *free*!

As I was making a day-dreaming-pulao, thinking about all the traffic this could get on my blog, I noticed how the paper also showed a one page advertisement of the new burger at Dunkin’ Donuts, and a very scandalous picture of Beyonce. Both these things shifted my attention away from the blog of the week and I figured that the only way in which my blog will get any attention from this coverage is if chana jor garam sellers across the city decided to make paper cones out of it. This pseudo-stardom may live a day longer in case the housewives of Old Delhi make up their minds to dry some red chillies and dhaniya in their verandahs, carefully spreading it over a newspaper whose fate is the kabadiwala’s furnace. Also, I hope the Delhi Jal Board quickly replenishes its resources as the Delhi water woes will otherwise lead to newspapers being used in place of the early morning bottle of water in all the JJ colonies of the city.

On reading the little article, I realized that the writer, Usama Sulaiman, must have read through every post on this blog to have covered it so beautifully and in such flattering light. It’ll be unfair if his patience, dedication and lies about the blog’s magnificence go unacknowledged. So, I would like to thank Usama, who is nothing less than a very good looking dashing man, and who I now wish to meet and treat to some really good food. I’m also thankful to my friend Ashna, who used her Pandora’s Box of a phone directory to dig out my number and pass it on to the cool peeps at HT City.

And now, it’s time for a glimpse of the actual coverage in the papers. The text of the same follows after the picture.

Before a smart aleck points out the date written on the article and says, “Aaj Saturday the 13th hai, na ki Friday the 13th. Newspaper walon ko date bhi nahi pata. Haha”, I would like to come to HT’s defense and tell you that a horrendous blog like MLIJ was being saved for a horrible date like Friday, the 13th. But then they couldn’t keep such awesome news from the readers for very long. It was for your benefit, so STFU!

Open letters to street staples such as a flavoured soda bottle and moong ki daal, the connect between bowel movements and spicy street food in the city, people’s fascination with calling everyone bhaisaab or uncle — these and many such topics make the blog this week, My Life Is Jalebi, unique and interesting at the same time. The blogger, 23-year-old Sarthak Ahuja, has “an assortment of different types of jalebis”, as he calls his posts, to tickle your humour taste buds. From government officials to relationships to barber shops to Indian weddings in this part of the country, the witty commentary on the multitude of subjects is filled with funny observations and occasional sarcasm that doesn’t let you stop at just one post. Among the more interesting entries, like ‘Halwais of Rajinder Nagar’, ‘Love Maths or Dhoka’, ‘The Roohafza Social Revolution’ and ‘Date a Girl who burps’, is one definitely worth a read, called ‘Water Balloon Warfare Tips’ which has some 39 tips on art of throwing balloons on Holi, and reminds you of your own balloon warrior days. Another one is ‘Open letter to Banta (kanche wali botal)’, as mentioned at the outset of this piece, where the blogger talks about how his love for the soda bottle began and blossomed. The blog, which began as a means to express himself better for the blogger, has now transformed into a full-fledged humour station. “I realised that the idiosyncrasies and eccentricities in everyday life were not limited to just me and my family, but belonged to the whole city. (And) as humour is all about pointing out “the unthought-known”, I thought I could continue writing about the way Delhiites carry out their lives and make them chuckle a bit at their own lifestyle,” says Ahuja, a professional cost accountant and company secretary.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Jhaag Jhaag DK Bose

If you thought only women are choosy about which soap to use on their supple skin, you’re probably still waiting to catch your train from Lahore to Amritsar in 1947 A.D. You should know that it’s not just a metro-sexual man who takes his time to decide between a Park Avenue or a Brut bar of lather maker but also every other hetero-sexual, homo-sexual, bi-sexual or asexual in the nation. When we say that we care about what lathers our body, we’re not mistaking “what” for “who” and watching Emraan Hashmi being washed dirty clean by skin-babies right out of a season of Bigg Boss. Our definition of a “daily soap” may be different from that of the ladies, but it is taken more seriously and literally than just passing it off as an over-dramatic TV show of a joint family snorting sindoor out of bindis, bahus and blouses.

Even at the age of two when we would put everything that we could lay our hands on into our mouths, we knew that Johnson’s Baby Soap did not taste anything like “mamta ka ehsaas”. Connoisseurs of lather bubbles, we are here to present the ladies some unsolicited gyaan on soaps.


The Madhuri Dixit of soaps, this pink little voluptuous bar of fake rose petals has been in every household of this country for as long as Anil Kapoor has known hair. Lux is what defines “soap smell” for our countrymen. Our fathers and grandfathers have used it unabashedly for decades. We’ve never thought of it as a ladies’ soap. Some of us men just stopped admitting to its use since the time Shahrukh Khan appeared in the advert. It was a good decision on our part, I must say. Endorsing Shahrukh’s choices in movies has been extremely embarrassing in the last five years, yeh toh saala skin pe lagaane wala saabun hai.


This soap is owned by our mothers and sisters, but we’re so convinced by the pretty looking women in the advertisement that we can’t help but try it. You cannot use Dove and not say how it is “actually” so creamy! Feel it butter your body and then leave it back in the bathroom with seven strands of chest hair embedded in this condensed milk of a bar. Be prepared to get strict instructions from your sister not to ever use her soap again. Wonder how she got to know that and then just say how it’s not stereotyping when a man says that women are so suspecting all the time.


Never admit to using this brick of soap because it looks disgusting, smells like medicated pomegranate fart and can be found at all the tubewells in the country, not just bathing men dressed in striped kachhas but also their faithful buffalos. Someone in your family will anyway get it and you’ll be damned to froth your body in pink for eternity because it just doesn’t seem to get over. This soap just doesn’t die! It gets reduced to an almost pink colored scrape of wood which will develop cracks, fail at lathering, and then sit right on top of the drain on your wash basin. You won’t feel like picking it up. Spit toothpaste right on top of it and laugh a Mojo Jojo laugh.


Be “hundred percent sure” of smelling like a doctor’s fingers after you take a bath with this one. You brought it to your house for using it after the potty business, but the company got smart and introduced a liquid handwash soon enough. You can’t help it. Your dad will like it because it’s antiseptic and all that jazz while your mum picks it up during grocery shopping because they give three bars for the price of two. You can’t make your parents understand that it’s not a promotional offer if it is on all year long. Be sure of it lasting a month. Find solace in believing that the doctor whose hands totally felt you up was a woman. Or, could be a nurse. Dammit!


The true antonym of the UPA Government in India, Pears is all about transparency. The smell of this soap is so ineffable that you begin to wonder how many citrus fruits got together in a divine orgy to produce this piece of marvel. The lather from this soap is transparent too, making it extremely difficult to use in a bathtub scene for a movie. It looks huge and worth the price when you buy it, but don’t be surprised when it gets all used up in three days. After all, we let it melt in the water for as long as we stand in the shower, rolling it between our hands, trying to look at the mirror through it, dropping it twenty six times, picking it up from right next to the neck of the commode and then complaining about how it’s so slippery yet so adorable.


The male equivalent of Liril, Cinthol brought a whole new meaning to “taazgi” in the bathroom. My personal favorite soap in the ‘90s, it ensured that Odonil would not make sales to middle-class Indian homes as Cinthol clearly managed to do its job of a bathroom freshner just as well. It died a somewhat silent death for most bathrooms a few years back. I heard Hrithik Roshan tried to glamorize the product recently, but people decided not to trust someone with a cameltoe for a chin and three thumbs to scratch it. I would still swear by the awesomeness of this lathery green bar. If life gives you lemons, make Cinthol.


You can be sure of this soap being south-Indian because it says “100% vegetarian” on the cover. I mean, yes, the southies make it to the IITs and all but there are many other ways of determining a person’s intelligence. It’s not always the habit of reading The Hindu, solving crossword puzzles and listening to Carnatic music that defines intelligence and great taste. Great taste can also be proved by showing that you know that your soap is not tasty. However, there are a few benefits of rubbing this brick of green vegetables on your body. First, be sure of developing macho biceps when you lift it high enough to wash your shoulders. Second, give it to your kids if they don’t eat green vegetables. The nutrients may photosynthesize through their skin, if that makes any sense. Finally, it helps if you’re a follower of Baba Ramdev. Be celibate for life.


Bazinga! You really thought true men give two hoots about a choice of soap! Be thankful we take a bath, which is, um, whenever we do. :P

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

If Only You Could Slide To Unlock

As the thumb slides over the gleaming phone screen, a few hundred names scroll across the glass, passing by like humans as seen from the comfort of a window seat in the train. The train moves at a pace where these people, though familiar, appear as strangers. Not just strangers, but trees that all look the same. A few thousand leaves on every tree; a few alphabets jumbled together in every name. They’re all the same till you stop and hold your glance on one for a while. The shape of the leaves appear different; the shade of the green does too. Stationed a little longer, one may proceed to dissect: the number of circles in the trunk; the number of memories built with this person. But there isn’t much time to stay as the train moves on at a pace not within your control.

With a press of a button, the lights on the phone turn off, leaving nothing to look at on the glass held so dear all day long. Another press of the button and the lights are on again, amusing for as long as they scream color into your eyes. But there’s more to be amused at when the lights go off. The gadget loses its identity to a mirror that reflects your face staring into the blankness of a poker face. Holding the gaze reveals the circles around your eyes, new yet appearing so old. Hold on longer for you to see the straight lips which might remind you of how they once formed a crescent curve with two eyes for stars on top. But there isn’t much time to gaze as the screen flashes an incoming call not within your control.

On plugging a metal end into the socket, the glass animates a battery filling up with neon green. Rebooting your device makes you wait for a while, when you think of your ex-dumbphone whose battery lasted you a day. You can blame the work pressure for the feeling of emptiness inside you, or just blame the continuous data transfer that eats away all the energy from your phone. The power that makes you scroll through a mostly unchanged facebook feed seems more powerful than the power, the lack of which makes you put away the thought of catching up with an old friend. Hold on a little longer till you realize how much you miss your old phone or an old friend. But there isn’t much time that you can hold as the device reboots at a moment not within your control.

A pair of wires attached to your phone has the strength to transport you to another world as they pour music into your ears. You realize that your brain is now immune to the powers of this sound, which no longer deserves to be called music. Skipping one track after another, involuntarily now, you hit pause right before you begin to skip them all in a loop again. The sound of the world is dimmed away by the silent earphones plugged deep into your skull. As you begin to think of the one whose voice was music to you once, the phone vibrates; this vibration being the only music that jostles you to attention at once. Setting a nice ringtone to your phone and disturbing the people around is no longer within your control.

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