Thursday, September 19, 2013

Shakti Shakti Shaktimaan

Men are like wine they say; they keep getting better with age. But if you've been brought up on a diet of pizza, burger and every other type of double-roti made out of maida, there's only a limit to which your body allows you to be a superhero. This explains why the face of Superman, Spiderman, Batman and every other idiot who has to suffix the word “man” to his name to establish his superiority keeps changing face every few years. Before you think that the reason I made a subtle dig at the concept of male superiority is to hit off well with the lady readers of the blog, let me tell you that the attention will get diverted from my feminist points of view as soon as I pronounce the name of Shaktimaan.

There are a number of reasons to why Shaktimaan is by far the best superhero not just in the world, but the whole frikkin' universe, Krypton included. To start with, he got his superpowers not because of some stupid radioactive insect bite, but because he did yoga for centuries and could play with the seven chakras in his body. Now, this could mean that Sherlyn Chopra can get superpowers too if she continues selling her aerobics/yoga videos, and plays with the chakras on her body like she normally does. But as long as she's keeping herself away from covering her body from neck to toe in maroon fabric, we can be sure of not having her rise as competition to our beloved Indian superhero. Also, it's not just the yoga that helped Shakti boy maintain his position for so long, but also a daily dose of Chyawanprash, Zandu Pancharishth and Parle G, which our heroes from the west haven't even heard of.

One doesn't need to look at Shaktimaan jump off under-construction buildings owned by Robert Vadra to know about his superhuman abilities. Our lowly daily wagers do that every day and miraculously do not appear in the papers either. The mark of a true superhero lies in wearing just a maroon panty-hose without any shoes, and risking his little toe to hit bed-sides all day long. It also saves on money which would have otherwise been spent on seven trouser top underwears for each day of the week. Money saved superhero style in a plummeting economy. Shaktimaan > Raghuram Rajan. Shobhaa De can finally move on.

A modern, metrosexual man, Shaktimaan does not wear Spandex on his skin like his international competitors. He exudes class by donning the soft touch of velvet, custom fitted with gold embellishments made out of material used to manufacture the heavy duty KKR helmets. Extremely hygiene conscious, he also wears gloves to avoid the ordeal of shampooing his luscious knuckle hair more than twice a week.

While the west fears to pronounce the name of the dark lord Voldemort, Shaktimaan battles the likes of Tamraj Kilvish, who is not just evil like Volde-Baldy, but also breathes out evil powers through his pointy nose, a feat that the bad guy from the west cannot even perform. There's Dr. Jackal too; the guy with so much power that it literally overflows from his mouth every five seconds. Batman's Joker had to say three words to freak people out. Jackal just mispronounces Sharad Pawar's last name and people from Punjab lose their shit thinking that he has been causing all their power woes, consequently bringing Parkash Singh Badal for a second term. How frikkin’ politically scheming badass is that!

Superman was incapable of taking up the responsibility of protecting India. Only the Americans are dumb enough to not recognize the similarity in Clark Kent's and Superman's face. All Indians, barring Anushka Sharma (who cannot even tell her husband when he shaves off his mustache) are intelligent, and cannot be fooled by such a ridiculous attempt at disguise by putting on a pair of glasses and tidying the tuft of hair that puts Himesh Reshammiya's hairstylist to shame. India needed a hero who could disguise like a master illusionist. Shaktimaan took up the challenge and wore buck teeth to win the approval of the Board of Superheroes. What a brilliant idea to distract the Indian population, I must say! The little addition to his teeth makes all men above the age of thirty call him Tinu Anand; those below thirty, Darsheel Safary's future; and the women just get really happy and say things like “Awww, bunny wabbit”. And just in case his false teeth ever fall out, he can also say his name, “Pandit Gangadhar Vidyadhar Mayadhar Omkar Shastri” in James Bond's signature style of going last name to first name, rinse and repeat, for twenty minutes to distract the audience.

Even though Shaktimaan is a lover boy extraordinaire, he has never crossed his limits with his love interest Geeta Biswas on screen. In fact, he is a man with high moral character which also shows in the “Chhoti Chhoti Magar Moti Baatein”. Teaching Indian kids to apologize for their mistakes by saying “Sorry, Shaktimaan”, he has changed pretty much the entire population of the country for better, barring a few people like Mika Singh. I literally became a Shaktimaan fanboy when in an episode, I watched a thirteen year old boy trying to clean his ceiling fan with a jhaadu. The dirt from the fan fell into his eyes and he started rubbing them. Immediately Shaktimaan came to his rescue with a “Thehro” and lectured him about the bad habit that is “aankhon ka masalna”. Can you even imagine Spiderman being so worried about the children in his neighborhood? He himself needs a slap on the face for leaving all the jaala around. It'll take just one rap to elicit a “Sorry, Shaktimaan” and set him straight.

While you read this, Shaktimaan is slowclapping at “Spiderman Spiderman, tune churaya mere dil ka chain”, giving a week's supply of Vicks ki goli to Batman, delivering a lecture on the drawbacks of a skewed sex ratio to the Fantastic Four, advising the Silver Surfer to invest in gold during times of recession, rubbing Iron's Man's face on his neck to cure a bee sting because someone said, “loha mal le, theek ho jaayega”, and dancing to Chalo Ishq Ladaayen Sanam with Geeta Biswas, all at the same frikkin’ moment! Please rise and put your hands together for the grand daddy of all superheroes, the aaloo de paraunthe loving Punjabi pattha, the elder brother of Gurdas and Harbhajan Mann, our beloved Shakti Mann.

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You should also check out this really cool piece by Khamba: Why Mukesh Khanna is the Greatest Human Alive 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Delhi Metro Bevkoof

Get frisked and feel like someone just wiped his dirty hands all over your fresh shirt. Flash your card at the entry gate… no response. Rub it on the receptor… Flip it around and rub it… Take it out of the wallet and rub it... No response... Try at the adjoining entry gate. Get notified that the card is out of balance.

Check wallet and see that there isn’t enough money for a recharge. Run to get a token instead. Buy token. Be asked to get yourself frisked again. Think to yourself, “Now, c’mon! I did not just get an AK 47 from the token counter. Wardi pehni hai toh chaudh mein aa gaya. Bloody unreasonable, time-wasting, khaki colored bevkoof!”

Try to peep into the computer screen of the man who x-ray scans your bag. See green, pink and blue outlines of your stuff lying inside. Feel happy for no reason.

Hear the sound of a train entering the station. "Train with destination towards Rajiv Chowk is going to enter platform number 1. Please stay behind the yellow line." Run up to your platform. Notice the train on the opposite side. Bloody uncoordinated, computer recorded Metro announcer, bevkoof!

Check time for the next train to come. Stand at the spot where you know the train will be slightly empty. Cross the yellow line. Hear the guard's shrill whistle. Look in his direction to see him gesturing you to move back. Bloody seeti bajane wala bevkoof!

Try to get in. Get pushed out by those de-boarding the train. Have your earphones stuck to the bag of someone rushing out. Freak out for a micro-second and then pull the earphones back in time. What a frikkin' bevkoof, man! Push against the person standing right at the centre of the door and squeeze yourself in. Have your backpack’s strap stuck between the two doors. Pull hard from inside. Breathe. Well, try to.

Hold your breath and pull in your stomach. Try to reach the pole in front of you before the next station arrives. Instead, have your nose rubbed against an armpit that barricades you to where you are. Bloody unbathed talcum powder using bevkoof!

Get pushed out at the next station... “Utarne ki jagah toh de diya karo! Saale, darwaze ke aage khade hain!” Climb back in again. Bloody insensitive Hindi cusser bevkoof!

Hear commotion behind you. “Haath jagah pe rakh le.”.. “Dimaag na kharab kar.”.. "Tere se bol raha hun kuchh?".. Wonder why some idiots have to fight; the train isn’t crowded only for the two of them! Bloody short tempered bevkoofs! Think about how Indians are always so interested in watching others fight. It makes for a good joke on stereotypes. Haha. Bloody over-inquisitive frikkin’ bevkoof, sab ke sab!

Feel a tap on your shoulder. “Bhaisaab, Rajiv Chowk utarenge?” Nod in agreement. Get pushed out by fifty people. “Pehle utarne toh de, phir ghusiyo.” Save self from tripping after stepping out at the platform. Take half a sigh of relief. Bloody uncouth frikkin’ stampeding bevkoofs!

Walk towards the platform for the yellow line. Get stopped and asked about which train to take for Uttam Nagar. Give directions. Rush to your platform. Late karwa di, bevkoof!

Notice the long queues at the platform. Squeeze through the end of each queue to the spot for the second last coach. Wait. Get pushed by those passing by. Bloody overpopulating, unaware of deodorants, bevkoofs!

Look at the guard. Look at the arriving train. Notice the queues converge into a cluster of sweating bodies as the doors open. Look at the guard getting pushed away by the crowd. Haha, badi chaudh mein khada tha! Bloody dedh-pasli, whistle-blowing bevkoof!

Look at forty year olds rush to grab seats. Wonder why the adults in our country act like children. Notice a person trying to squeeze in between two. “Bhaisaab, thodi jagah bana do.” Know that everyone hates an uninvited huge butt squeezing in and half sitting on the co-passengers’ thighs. Bloody overweight, samosa eating bevkoof!

Notice a lady standing in front of a seat not "reserved" for ladies. Observe how not even one man gets up. Tell yourself that you’d have definitely stood up. Pray for more people to get a convent education. Bloody uneducated bevkoofs!

Count the number of stations to your destination. Multiply the number by two. Feel proud of knowing the time it takes to travel between stations.

Walk towards the vestibule and lean against the side. Feel the synthetic rubber walls gyrate behind your back. Fight the urge to slowly slide down to the floor. Feel the floor shake beneath you. Wonder what would happen if the two coaches broke away at the line of contact.

Look at a guy wearing a checked shirt, skin tight jeans and canvas shoes that read Relaxo. Notice his highlighted hair, locket and a Samsung Galaxy bigger than your phone. Listen to him tell his friend, “Bhai, merse kehti number dede. Maine ka bhaad mein ja. Hyahya, saali.” Smirk at being able to tell through the lie. Bloody sadak-chhaap bevkoof!

Close your eyes and try to concentrate on the song playing through your earphones. Open your eyes thirty seconds later to see the checked shirt wearing a pair of glares and his friend clicking a picture. Roll eyes. Model banne chala hai bevkoof!

Notice a pretty girl wearing orange pants. Look at her white BlackBerry with a pink silicon cover. South Delhi; addicted to BBM; next purchase will be the iPhone. Think how she seems to be the only person in the train that you could make a conversation with. Notice a few men staring at her. Ladki dekhi nahi, taadne chale. Bloody desperate bevkoofs!

See someone reading a book. Tilt head diagonally downwards to see the cover. Revolution 20-20. Bloody pseudo-intellectual; pedestrian taste in literature, saala bevkoof!

Walk towards the door two minutes before the arrival of your destination. Mentally recite “Agla station Vishwavidyalaya... hai!” Smirk at the pause before “hai”. Tubelight kahin ka, bevkoof!

Peep from the corner of your eye into the phone of the fat girl standing in front of you. Notice her scrolling through her WhatsApp screen. Look at her type, “i luv u 2 baba” followed by a heart. Almost barf at the state of the world. Question self about why every ghee-smeared retarded bevkoof in the country has a relationship and a Samsung Galaxy.

Listen to an uncle talk on the phone. “Hain? Samajh nahi aa raha… Metro ki basement mein hun.” Notice that he has a black BlackBerry Curve. Run eyes over to his balding head, grey hair and plastic bag in hand. Hmm. Refrain from judging him. Feel proud of having respect for elders. Nahi toh aaj kal ki youth ko dekho, bloody uncivilized, disrespectful bevkoofs!

Look at a guy with his middle finger inserted into the hole above the doors. Chhed dikha nahi, ungli ghusa do bas. Such a bevkoof!

Wait for station to arrive in less than a minute. Cross both arms and wait while trying to balance self as the train makes a jolt. Get out and stand on the escalator. Walk towards the exit gate.

Flash card… no response… Flip it around… Rub harder. Realize you’d bought a token. Fish for token in your pockets. Irritate everyone behind you.

Bhai, pehle token nikaal liya karo.”… “Kaun hai saala bevkoof line rok ke khada hai!

Feel your cheeks flush. Insert token. Exit. Avoid all eye contact.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013


Dhaniya” and “dulhaniya” seem to be the only two words that rhyme with “Baniya”, and call it a coincidence if you may, but there cannot be better words to describe the life priorities of the Baniya clan. There’s no other caste in India which can so brilliantly put money’s worth to everything, from a sprig of dhaniya to the celebration of the bitiya turning into a dulhaniya. It’s unfair how when quizzed about the different types of people living in North India, “Punjabi”, “Jaat”, “Bihari” and “Rajput” are answers that so easily overshadow the identity of this massive clan. To give them a position of recognition that they so rightly deserve, I present to you some simple ways in which you can spot a Baniya.

It’s quite easy to tell a well-bred Baniya from his appearance. While the Jaat boys keep a short crop on their heads and the Punjabis experiment with beards that look like electro-cardio graphs lining their jaw-line, the Baniya boys always keep it simple with their hair neatly parted from the side. A true mumma’s boy, the Baniya bears all accusations of having smeared his hair with “chameli ka tel” in silence, but never admits to using Dabur Amla or the “sarson ka tel” which his mother gently massages on his scalp every night. Also, what the world calls an olive skin tone is what most Baniyas inherit from their parents. Being desi to the core, if given a chance, they’d describe their color to be more of “Mathura ka pedha” than olive. And surprisingly, color is not the only characteristic that the pedha lends to them. A perfectly round belly that is smooth with very little or no hair is also a pedha like quality, which makes them perfect for playing the role of a pundit ji in a school play.

While the Mittals, Goyals and Gargs form around twenty percent of their total community size, the Guptas and Aggarwals reign with almost three-quarters of their total population. Keeping the family businesses aside, the career options available to them seem to be even fewer than the number of surnames to choose from. While half of them decide to pursue Chartered Accountancy, the other half open sweet shops at every corner of every market in the city. The fact that these people are not made for creative pursuits is clear from how the glow sign boards of all the Aggarwal Sweet Corners look exactly the same and yet boast of their uniqueness with the words: Humari koi branch nahi hai.

Highly educated, they could have made a name for themselves in the field of literature, but deciding on whether to spell their name as “Aggarwal”, “Agarwal” or “Agrawal” and “Goyal” or “Goel” takes up most of their childhood and then it gets too late to discover the rest of the English language. They could’ve also tried to venture into the world of Bollywood, but considering the amount they spend on weddings, it definitely does not make much financial sense to risk their children marrying a couple of times during their lifetime. Also, the surname Goyal will never bring images of washboard abs in your head.

It sounds ridiculous when Baniyas are stereotyped as misers. Born investors, they learn that the biggest commitment that one has to make in life is to one’s life partner. Thus, one of their life’s goals is to save enough to build a decent initial capital to invest in their marriages. Known for their fair dealing, they trust only people from their own community. Marriage outside the caste is not a sin that a hundred religious trips to Vrindavan can wash away. And therefore, the University of Delhi stands as proof of the fact that every relationship of a Punjabi boy and a Baniya girl always ends with the situational soundtrack, “Achha sila diya tune mere pyaar ka.

The Baniya might keep a five hundred rupee note in his wallet, and still make you pay for his bottle of coke in the canteen as the purchase requires a tenner. He might call you only if you happen to have a connection with the same telephone carrier; or he might call at a time when he knows you won’t answer, so that he gets called back. He might turn up for your birthday party with just a hand-made card and hint that it’s the thought that counts. But you should know that it’s no miracle that one of the first Indians to make it to the Forbes Top Ten Billionaires was a Mittal Baniya. After all, not everyone can pull off spending sixty million dollars on one's daughter's wedding and then cut down on employees' health and retirement benefits with the excuse that his company does not make that much money.

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Being Your Plastic Bag

The little guy never thought his fate would bring him to the garbage dump. He was tied inside a kitchen dustbin for a day and given away to the garbage collector the following morning. His expectations from life were never of abundance. He felt luxurious staying in the refrigerator for at least a week with all the milk, chocolates and juices, who were thankless and always wished to visit the Kelvinators showed on TV that housed a wedge of a watermelon and an uncut cake kept outside the box. He was excited about the idea of travel, irrespective of whether he was used to pack shoes in the suitcase, or just carried around to hold used underwear for four days. However, he thought that he deserved to go with a little more respect. He'd have enjoyed being thrown away at the hands of a school boy embarrassed that his parantha wrapped in aluminium foil was put inside a poly-bag instead of a Tupperware lunch-box. His idea of the best way to leave was being given away to an underprivileged kid shouting, “uncle, panni de do” outside the Hanuman temple on a Tuesday. That would’ve secured a place for him in heaven.

The poor one was unaware that little boys have a variety of lunch boxes to choose from and uncles don’t give away the “panni”. He could’ve been flown like a kite by the dusty semi-naked kids. He could’ve enjoyed trips to the Ashtmi Pujas, collecting kanjak food and bills of ten. He could've enjoyed his first monsoon riding on the head of a rickshaw puller. He learnt the hard way that life in a rich man’s house might look luxurious, but for a lowly sabzi wala polythene like him, there was no respect. There were countless like him at the local mandi, praying to visit a big house someday.

The richer looking and bigger plastic bags believed that they enjoyed a higher status. Belonging to nation-wide supermarket chains, they were used for important things like stocking old toys in the top most shelves that required a bit of furniture climbing to reach. Some of them started assuming importance as they were taken for shopping trips to the kind of supermarkets they came from. Unaware of the fact that the person who carried them tried hard to straighten their wrinkles out and not feel embarrassed in front of the cashier, they lived their mid-ranged delusional middle class lives, trying hard to believe that they were just as respected as reusable cloth bags. There’s only so much that their health and perseverance could allow though. The end was almost always in a corner of the kitchen, collecting disposable party glasses on a celebratory night, only to be thrown out the next morning.

The superior plastics, the branded bags who cared for things like style and boasted of their knowledge that little children were to be kept away from them, lived not in the lower, easily reachable shelves. They were properly kept in the wardrobe, folded to perfection, to be used at times that commanded importance; times when glittery gift wrapping paper would fail to show the importance of the gift. They knew that they would never be used for all the work that the cheap plastic bags were made to do. They knew that the cloth bags weren’t necessarily above them. They waited patiently and at ease for the opportune moment of their use.

There came a time when one of the branded bags was preened and handed over to someone who deserved that importance. Pressed beneath the gifts lying open, it lay wrinkled to an extent that no amount of pressure could straighten. The only life options available to him, thenceforth, were either of the middle class plastic bag or that led by the lowly polythene; and sadly, the option was not for him to choose. The end, as always, had to be the garbage dump.

Reflecting on their lives at the dump, waiting for death to come slowly, a few hundred years a step, they all had enough time to question the creator about the wasteful lives that they led. The purpose of their existence was never clear and they felt just like humans questioning the almighty for answers to life. But there was one difference between their creator and the almighty that they were aware of. At least their creator, man, could end their misery by saying no to the plastic bag.

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