Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mah Homies and Mah Chuds

While I’ve written about all things from potty-susu to relationships on this online space, more often than not about matters inconsequential than personal, I think it’s about time I also write about things and people who matter. The family has often received a bit of a mention every now and then, but mah homies haven’t received as big a mention as a few of them rightly deserve. Here are a few special ones, who matter more to me than a plate of Dal Makhni with sirke wale pyaaz. And, who have been hoping I would do a post on them on their respective birthdays, but I never have. Bleddy, all of them want some popularity while none of them have the slightest idea about how over-estimated this site’s stats are.

As a disclaimer, this list is not exhaustive, so please do not kill me if I haven’t mentioned you here. If I’ve ever been romantically involved with you, you’ll probably be featured in another such anthology after all the romantic interests have married, have also attended my wedding, and have accepted themselves as Bua’s to my lovely children, whenever that may be.

Here goes, in no particular order.


Rahat Chhabra

If Bollywood clich├ęs were true, every love story begins with the protagonists hating each other. Ours began with a wild proclamation, “Aaj se Sarthak Ahuja hi mera sabse bada dushman hai”. Except, picture that being said by a six-foot tall Pillsbury Doughboy, who later fell in love with S-Man because the latter is so cool. A friendship that developed over geographical proximity and mutual love/hatred for women-kind in Rajendra Nagar has transcended all limits and led to fist fights over a game of Monopoly on New Year’s Eve, and has stood the test of evil girlfriends trying hard to break this bond of louu.

To add context, Rahat and I went to the same school, where we hardly spoke despite being in the same class for years. Our friendship developed over finding Math tuition teachers as well as women we could play our faux charm on in Rajendra Nagar. A Math teacher came, but the women didn’t (that’s what she said). However, the friendship developed deeper and stronger (that’s what she said) during our outings to various inter-school Ad-Mad competitions, where Mr. Chhabra would agree to play the role of a 250-pound Silk Smitha under Ahuja’s able direction.

He’s my bro from ano’ mo’, and the biggest threat to the women in my life. This is not just because everyone else in my life competes with the kind of attention this big boy gets, but also because all the heartbreaks I’ve ever had have been followed by a dream this gentleman has had about my break up. Why he can’t dream of his own shenanigans with the ladies, but only of my break ups whenever things in my life seem to be going well, is beyond me.

His professional competence lies in impressing uncles and aunties over the age of fifty and lending them an ear while I stand aghast by his side wondering how fun-filled our daily evening walks turn out to be. He’s the Sautan to mah Saheli’s and the guy I plan on buying a weekend house with to escape the moroseness of our married lives. Hoping that someday our children will be old and likeable enough to have this dosti turn into rishtedaari, and I can narrate to them the story of the time Mr. Chhabra looked at a Jaguar XF and exclaimed, “Yaar, Puma ki cars bhi aane lag gayi hain!


Anirudh Bajaj

Bajaj and I bonded over making filthy podcasts in the 9th grade. Except, he would be the techie and take care of all the recording and mixing while I used to be the voice for all the filth. Such was his smartness that if we were to ever get in trouble with school for all that was said in those podcasts, this guy would walk scot-free and I would not have lived long enough to document this.

The man is as smart as he is socially awkward. Having shunned away the best of the fairer sex from Springdales and Carmel Convent at the school bus-stop, this guy went on to join one of the few premier engineering colleges of the country. And we all know how much Engineers like to shun women. Mr. Bajaj has since then dated women who have uncanny resemblances to me, except for the receding hairline and bushy eyebrows - which goes on to show how much the man loves me. The ladies in his life and yours truly, a set not necessarily mutually exclusive, has contributed immensely towards making Mr. Bajaj a more socially pleasing person to be around. It is evidenced from the fact that he now greets both Rahat’s as well as my parents whenever he meets them, and does not just barge into our rooms during his once in a blue moon visits to our respective houses.

Also, he owes his love life to me because he's gotten action in life only after the S-Man has sent love messages from his phone to a few lovelies. He will tell you that I'm adding masala to everything I say here, but who is he trying to fool; I have a reputation for being honest.

Today, Mr. Bajaj is a smart as frig man, showering in the money-money and constantly striving towards changing the world for the better. He's the next Elon Musk, if you ask me. He has made all those who know him proud on several occasions, and we’re sure the trend will only get better.


Sargam Sardana

Y'know, how there are women you're both sad and happy about being bhai-zoned by? Except, Sargam Sardana has didi-zoned me, where she not only strips me off my macho persona with her case-taking sprees but also keeps giving me a reality check about keeping my awesome in place.

We bonded over consoling each other over failed relationships that had begun at the same time. And then this wonderful lady accepted me into the college dance society despite my two left feet, making me wonder how a friend could do so much just so that I was surrounded by some of the prettiest women in college, all of whom were dancers. Reality struck when I figured I was invited only to do a drag act at every college fest and dance to Choli ke Peechhe Kya Hai, dressed in sequined harem pants and a dupatta with so much glitter, it hasn't completely gotten off my bed even after 5 years.

Sardana is a Sardarji sans joodi. Her PJ's are as lame as high is her spiritual-consciousness. She has been the bouncer to the shady dance club that has been my love life, where no lady walks in without her approval.

Possibly the only woman I’m as protective about as my own sister, I hope she reads this and realizes how long it's been since she last met me. For all marriage proposals for Sardana, kindly direct your Bio-Data directly to me, and we’ll see how that goes.


Navkaran Chadha

While I grew up on the idea that Sardar ji’s had a tough time convincing ladies to marry them, my time in college put me around such good looking macho Sardar’s that I could not help but wish that I were one myself. The biggest reason was how a turban is a more fashionable alternative to a hair transplant. But, a close second was the company of Mr. Navkaran Chadha, who is such a stud-muffin that I’ve been crushing over him since the first day I met him.

Navkaran is a junior from college, but much senior when it comes to entrepreneurial experience and being Punjabi – to the extent that he is fashionably late to his own parties, which he throws around multiple times a year in Rajouri Garden. He is the guy I’m really proud to be associated with as a friend, Chartered Accountant, financial consultant and general pair of ears for his innumerable start-up ideas.

Here is one guy who is passionate about everything he does, from leading clubs in college to discussing MBA college essays. However, his biggest passion is not keeping a secret. The world champion for being the Grandest Janaani ever, Mr. Chadha has a stomach that immediately digests Chaar Botal Vodka and Teen Plate Chicken Tikka, but cannot even wait for gossip to slide down his food-pipe before it’s all on the dance floor.

This gentleman is the real deal if you’re a young beauty pageant winner looking to get married. It’s a different thing that he wants some relationshipy experiences before he ties the knot at a Sunday wedding, where he will again be fashionably late. But seriously, line mein lago. It’s having friends like these which made me believe that my Ahuja Aunty ke Rishtey hi Rishtey idea would work wonders.


Nanditha Jagadish

There are four characters in every Tamil movie: the hero, the heroine, the comedian and the villain. Nanditha Jagadish is the perfect mix of all four, but in a Punjabi setting. She smiles with her big eyes like the gajra-wearing lady, jumps around clumsily like a Dravidian clown and then beats the shit out of all Tam-Brahm stereotypes like she's Shivaji The Boss.

Nandu and I became friends during a train journey to Ahmedabad, when we were a team against an elderly couple in a game of Antakshari. The following week at the IIM's college fest in 2011 witnessed Nandu-Boy sitting through hours of foot-stink and then finally going all: Oh God, your feet stink so much, it hurts! That was the point when it all moved from friendship to BFFFFship. So much so that just two days later, I found myself waking up in the girls' hostel with Nandice greeting me with a good morning. I was later told that I had such high fever that I had passed out and even missed out on some cat-fight that happened in that hall full of fifteen women that night. So much for spending a night at the IIM Ahmedabad Girls' Hostel.

Most people who know us readily agree that we're Jumping Jacks of the same category and I can pass off as Nandi with a wig of curly hair, nicely done upper-lip, snipped off eyebrows, a dusky shade and lots of plastic surgery.

Nandice-Jay and I are perpetually giving each other hope that love overlooks vanishing hairlines and expanding waistlines, and that things will eventually fall into place. She has been a constant since final year of undergrad and I would hope she remains so for years to come. She will travel the world, live independently, love like there's no other and then whine about life mein no excitement. How could there be, when all the excitement lies in herself!


Vikram Khanna

On the very same trip to Ahmedabad as spoken about above, Khanna and I happened to confess our feelings for the same woman to each other. And then were willing to give up on our respective love for the benefit of the other. Even more eagerly so when just hours from this 4 am confession, both of us realised how much of a bimbo-in-a-limbo the lady was. And thus started our praa'ness. Talk about Bros before Hoes.

They say lawyers are prone to behavioral side-effects of their profession, but no one talks about how crazy consultants can get. Any question asked to this McK-IIM-BCG consultant is broken down into causes and effects and pros and cons before he'll give you a convoluted answer that sounds easy, but isn't because the answer always leads to you-have-the-free-will-to-choose-what-you-want-and-define-your-life-experiences.

The man is so sorted in life that he gives the best relationship advice without having been in one. The one he was once in doesn't count. This gentleman is so sorted in life that he's the one who carries shagun ke lifaafe for everyone going for a wedding. With a glitter pen to put your autograph on the lifaafa with!

He anonymously comments on my blog posts, constantly urging me to write about deeper issues than the ones addressed here. Hoping he will find this post personal enough for him to see I'm trying to break away from my mould, when I clearly am not.


Vinit Aggarwal

Here’s an Aggarwal who rightly spells his surname with a double-G and not in a fancy ass way as “Agarwal” or “Agrawal”. This not just shows his affinity towards mithai, as is evident from his paunch, but also that he is a man of no bullshit.

Vinit and I have been friends since 2012, and almost everyone who has seen us together has exclaimed that we look like brothers, and over forty years of age. He takes this comment to be a compliment, disregarding the addendum to the part about being my doppelganger. We met at a random seminar, where we bonded over not having anyone else to speak with. It led to a chance meeting a couple of months later, and we decided to work on a little project called Career in Commerce.

Several unexecuted business ideas older, we’re now recreation partners. He’s the person I take rounds of Lodhi Garden with every Sunday morning while simultaneously narrating stories of “Ex”-Mas Past in a made up girl voice – often earning stares from the other morning walkers. Our discussion topics include: how to differentiate between desi ghee and butter; the kind of bahu he would want for his parents; why the VC funded, loss making start-up fad will someday burst; and desi-nuskhe to arrest hair fall.

A Financial Research Analyst and a connoisseur of all things laden with desi ghee, he’s the perfect catch in the high-yielding baniya marriage market, and I would hope he will love his wife as much as he loves his Honda City.

*Slowly hating the fact that all my friends fit the bill of the perfect marriage bakra’s, and it’s sad how everyone is marriageable age already*


Ankur Ahuja

I still remember the day I signed up for a post CA course on International Taxation. Little did I know that I would walk into a room full of a hundred and twenty Chartered Accountants with an average age of fifty. As the youngest in the group, my eyes scanned the refreshment area for a person of the same generation, and I noticed an impeccably dressed man in a grey-beige suit munching on a leafy-salad while the remaining CA’s gobbled down plate bhar samose with imli ki chutney. One of those ignorable samosa lovers was this fella’ Ankur Ahuja.

What started as an association with a selfish intention of Ankur wanting to be friends with me only so that he could have access to my study notes, went on to Karma slapping this boy on the face because neither did I ever get down to making any notes, but I also broke my personal best score at Candy Crush Saga while he tried to concentrate in class by my side. Talk about a deceptive string of multiple educational qualifications. Muhuhahaha. *cough* Cocky! *cough*

The friendship grew deeper over enjoying the weekly splendid buffet lunch at the Country Inn and trying to find female company that we could set this boy up with. Out of all those who wanted to marry him, Sarthak Ahuja topped the list. And then there were none.

As some beautiful women have come and gone in this naughty boy’s life, none have gotten the kind of attention I do from this macho man. He’s my darling with six pack abs and possibly the closest CA friend I hold. We’ve lunched together at fancy places and then hogged on Lajpat Nagar Chinese on his rickety, half-broken bed. He’s the go to guy if you want muft-philosophy in life, and a friend you’d never want to lose.



 ...to be continued...

Friday, December 4, 2015

Kaanji Behenji (Guest Post)

It’s good to establish things in the beginning and I would do just that. I’m a research scholar, a defunct filmmaker and a closeted blogger/writer. I don’t shy away from writing, which is why I allowed myself to get bullied into accepting the honour of this space from Sarthak aka Jalebi (ignoring the fact that his life is Jalebi, not him) himself. Mr Jalebi had a request with reference to my post. At 2:41 am, which is way past the acceptable bedtime for Jalebi Boi (please use your sing-song manner to set this name to rhyme with this devastatingly beautiful song titled Jalebi Bai), he sent an email asking (read stating), could I write a guest post on Kaanji?

Now, first things first. If you’re from the down South, or any other part of the world/country besides North India, and do not have any affiliation with any Punjabi friend who has their roots in Pakistan/Punjab and the likes, I don’t blame you. Even if you do, and yet have not heard or have no clue about who or what Kaanji is, I can’t hold this against you. A simple Google search would yield that Kanji (which is, how it should be written) is one out of three Japanese scripts. I am aware of this because, at some point in my life, I attempted to learn Japanese, which I dropped out from when I knew I had CBSE Math board to pass. You can hear all about it if you ever get down to locating, and consequently stalking my blog. Besides, say what you may, I have to shake the ground of this blog and ask him, why isn’t your life murukku or butter chakli? Why is it Jalebi and not Imarti? An Imarti is just as sweet and juicy as a Jalebi, only less crispy. I need answers.

I digress, but coming back, Kaanji is not just a Japanese script or the misheard lyrics in “Kaanchi Re Kaanchi Re, Preet Meri Kaanji”, but it’s a fascinating Indian drink. I use the word fascinating because Jalebi Man’s done a bit of introspective searching on his Facebook friend list and found his friends, acquaintances etc being aware of this, vaguely if not completely. The top answer yielded in his search included, ‘Punjabi Sangria,’.  Given how I’m a research scholar (which is a fancy term for stalking the living daylight out of internet, if I get down to doing it), I used my superpowers to locate the connotations surrounding Kaanji (which reads) as, ‘a yummy spring Holi drink’, ‘desi probiotic drink’, ‘pungent drink with pickle’. All these definitions place Kaanji in the same league as exotic and delightfully interesting food names and types like Foie Gras, Caviar, Cucumber and Wasabi Sushi amongst others. So, how does something so unique finds itself neglected in the food habits of the new and shiny, Web 2.0 consumer? Why is it that the North Indian adults have chosen to forget this drink and moved to accepting chai as our national drink?

Let’s start with the basics. Kaanji is a drink to bid rib-crackling winters goodbye. It’s supposedly garam in nature, which means if you were to consume it in the Summer months, you’ll be dealing with a bad case of loose motions. Not only that, there’s a very specific weather which supports the fermentation of the laal gaajar, or black carrots used in the process to make this drink. Kaanji, then, is a digestive drink which is to be consumed in small quantity, not over one glass a day, only after cooling it in the refrigerator. It’s also to be consumed in the span of 6-8 days of it being ‘ready’. Keep it longer and you might find getting sick after consuming it, and keep it under 6 days and consume, you’ll possibly pass out with the pungent flavour which will hit you stronger than Skrillex dropping the bass. Kaanji is a dangerous drink, far trickier than Whiskey on the rocks or Chaar Botal Vodka. Because let’s face it,

a)    A double peg of Single Malt minus any soda/water will be ‘bitter’, but won’t be pungent to your nose. Kaanji would hit you like Britney singing One More Time! only ten times stronger.
b)   Vodka will lead you into a terrible hangover. Okay, not one shot, but chaar botal would definitely give you Blue Eyes and you’d hypnotize yourself into passing out. Kaanji won’t give you a hangover or a reason to get in touch with your ex. However, one glass of over fermented drink can give you one-week long break from office/college/school/life. I may or may not have had first-hand experience. I cannot confirm or deny this.

So, why is it that inspite of such grave flaws, both him and I are still talking about the damn drink?

First things first, Kaanji is an acquired taste. Hipster kya jaane Kaanji ka swaad, is a stunning replacement here, to the age old, ‘bandar’ trying ‘adrak’ and showing his displeasure at it. Kaanji is what every Punjabi kid, who’s grown up in the company of grandparents, has tried, and attempted to understand with a serious look on their face what it is. As a child, I remember relatives coming over and making a big fuss about my Dadi’s version. I have vivid memories of drinking a small glass of Kaanji every winter in these tiny Air India glasses that a family friend had gotten us, as a souvenir from having spent a large chunk of his career in association with the Airlines. Of course years later, the family friend, those AI glasses and my Dadi- they’re all gone. All I have in my mind are waves of memories, that I wade through each year during Winter chill.

Last year, I’d pulled an end of the semester submission all-nighter for a final paper. A dear Punjabi friend was spotted online at an ungodly hour at 4:3o am that same morning. She and I got talking and went from messages to audio call, because boredom begets boredom. Very hesitantly, I let my words slip into a general catching up conversation,

“Have you ever heard of this drink called Kaanji? My Dadi used to make it for the family every Winter when I was a kid. I’m having the most absurd craving at this hour. Out of nowhere, in the middle of cock freezing winter while I write this paper, I feel like I need a glass of Kaanji.”

My friend shrieked in total shock on the phone.

“YOU KNOW KAANJI? OH MY GOD. HOW PUNJABI ARE WE? I USED TO HAVE IT ALL THE TIME AT THE FARM.”

(Friend’s got a farm in Nainital, she can drive a tractor like a boss, can’t park or drive a car in Delhi tho.)

We continued until my mother woke up and heard me excitedly talk in continuation about Kaanji. Now, picture your parent having been rudely woken up at 5 am, because you’re laughing on top of your lungs after having re-discovered Kaanji, which is really a comfort drink only for old Punjabi ladies. She (mother) was only ever too kind to promise that she’d make Kaanji for both of us. Which, she ultimately ended up doing that week as laal gaajar were in the market and she didn’t have to substitute it with a different variety of carrots. I had to share half a bottle of Kaanji with the same friend once it was done. My father was pleasantly surprised to see Kaanji in the house and everyone at home enjoyed three different rounds over 5 days to finish the supply. That particular year, I even took a sizeable quantity of Kaanji as a part of birthday presents I did for my Kaanji loving friend (I do extensive birthday gifts, complete with elaborate homemade cakes and the works, which was amusing because never have I ever taken Kaanji for anyone on their birthday).

I’m aware that you aren’t quite concerned with what happened to me in 2014 (and you shouldn’t be, I didn’t win an award for Blogging. Jalebi boi did). Which is why, I’d wrap this post with a recipe for you to experiment. Let Kaanji into your life this year, and next and maybe forever. It’s an oral tradition which I believe is dying a merciless death in the hands of a generation believing Rooh Afza is bae. I don’t mind my Rooh Afza shake but I do need my Kaanji and Gaajar ka achaar with Chole Bhature during the 90 days of Winter. Make sure you keep bananas handy and remember to not overdose on this drink when you do get down to making it If something goes wrong in the process, make sure you foot all medical bills to Jalebi Boi. I’ve heard he makes money out of numbers.

Kaanji

Ingredients:

  • 250 gms Laal Gaajar/ Black Carrot (which is not black in colour, contrary to what our boi believes. They’re deep red and you’ll be able to identify as they’re usually in the market by January end. Else, go to the mandi and speak to vendors about Kaanji wali gaajar. They’ll help you out).
  • 2-3 Tablespoon Brown Mustard Seeds/ Rai (Not Aishwarya. Sorry).
  • Punch of Red Chili Powder (I go for a tablespoon)
  • Two Tablespoons Tata/Catch Salt (Do hit me up if you use any other variant, yet to meet an Indian family who uses a different brand).
  • One Tablespoon Rock Salt/ Kala Namak
  • Lots of RO processed drinking water
  • Two Plates Chole Bhature

Bonus Secret Ingredient:
(If you’re from UP/or have affiliation to food from UP you must add this.)

  • Asafoetida/ Hing - Just a tiny pinch. Don’t be a rebel here. You’ll regret it.

Preparation
  1. Wash your hands with soap. Wipe them dry and head to the kitchen. Wash the carrots rigorously. Think of life, the universe and how you’re just a speck of dust in the larger frame of things while you do that. Waste some more time doing this. Not water. Water is precious. Okay?
  2. Chop the carrots in juliennes, preferably not too thin but not too thick. If you’ve a Punjabi Dadi/friend’s Dadi who can help you out, ask them about the gajaar ka achaar shape. That’s what we want.
  3. Once you’re done figuring out how terrible you’re at chopping vegetables, move to the next step. Put together all the ingredients (except Chole Bhature, don’t order them just yet.) and dunk it together in 2.5/3 litres of drinking water in a martbaan. Don’t forget to give it a good stir and when you think you’ve done a good job, don’t just keep standing there. Take a spoon and taste it. It’ll probably not taste good but sample the salt and chilli scene. Adjust accordingly.
  4.  Shut the lid tightly and leave this jar in a dry, sun-lit space. Forget about this for the next 4.5-5.5 days. Put out a Google notification for the 6 day that you’ve to move this jar.
  5. On the 6 day of this strangeness, remove the jar from the sun-light and bring it back to the kitchen. This is judgement time. Open the lid, give it a couple of stirs and taste a little. Pungent? Sour? Hits your nose like nothing you’ve ever had before? If you answer yes to all three, your Kaanji is ready.
  6. Transfer the Kaanji to empty pet water bottles. Make sure you transfer carrots too, but in the process of transferring, separate a bowl full of these fermented carrots and keep aside. Put the liquid in the refrigerator after storing this in the bottle.
  7.  Move on to your favourite food delivery app. Alternatively, you could even do a take-away but you’d rather not. It’s winter and you’re lazy.  Locate your favourite halwai and order two plates of Chole Bhature. Second for the Dadi who helped you out with this.
  8. Once Bhature are on your plate, replace the salad with fermented carrots and Chole. Share this with the grandmother. She’ll be super touched and massively impressed. Even if your Kaanji ki Gaajar tastes like crap, she’ll love it. 
  9. After you’re done eating this, take out your Kaanji from the refrigerator. Pour two small glasses and fill it to the top. Share it with your grandmom, someone else’s grandmom and the rest of your family. Make sure one member of the house hasn’t had it and that person knows how to ride a bike/drive a car. 
  10. When you’re dying after OD-ing on Kaanji and adding Chole Bhature to it, contact that one other family member and ask them to bring you Vizylac and bananas. Send the bill to Jalebi Boi. 


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This post has been written by mi louuu, Anisha Saigal aka Saigalster aka Snobster aka Dadi Amma with a pout. You must follow her on all the links given here, even though she hasn't asked me to do this. I'm just asking you to do this because gratitude. Also, this does not mean that you follow her in real life. Line mein lago. Abhi bohot bande khade hain.

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Image Source: ribbonstopastas.blogspot.com

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Vocabulary Builder - Part 1


While love-shove, tikke-shikke, paraunthe-sharaunthe are words, the latter half of which I understand add alliteration value, I do not even know what the second half of "gaali-galoch" means. I don't quite get how it adds to the aural aesthetics without rhyming and I wish I were genius enough to come up with semantics as experimental as this. This makes me think how there may be a lot of such colloquial words that may be difficult to define. As Khan Academy would not allow me to put up a course on such literature and build on my community engagement profile for an MBA application, I thought why not test a pilot right here and in the process, build a revolutionary vocabulary building curriculum for Teach For India (I've heard two years at TFI really help you get in the Ivy League). So here’s the first part of MLIJ’s Vocabulary Builder.

Jhand (noun): a state of embarrassment or epic-fail especially on committing a faux pas.
Synonyms: katta  

E.g.:
1. Abey, yeh itna bada gadha hai. Waiter ne finger bowl diya, aur yeh Manager ko complaint kar aaya ke nimbu paani garam hai. Jhand hai saale ki.
2. Ramesh Red Wine taste karke bola, "Kaanji mein khataas thodi kamm hai". Bilkul jhand kara di party mein.
3. Jhandu aadmi! It's called corn flakes. Chiwda-chiwda kya laga rakha hai?

Tantey (verb) (singular: tanta): acts that tantamount to annoying and dramatic behavior, often recognized in the form of unreasonable demands.
Synonyms: dramey, naatak, pantiyaan

E.g.:
1. Mere pati ke ajeeb tantey hain, yaar. Main suhaag raat pe doodh leke gayi, kehta Bournvita daal ke laao nahi toh main nahi piyunga.
2. Bhai, meri girlfriend ka roz naya tanta hai. Aaj kehti ke uski mom ko main mummy bulaaun. Abey yaar, abhi 8th class toh pass hone de. Yeh mummy-shammi bulaana toh shaadi ke baad ki baatein hain.
3. Maine Tommy ko do din Pedigree kya khila diya, yeh toh nawab ho gaya hai. Ab roti khaane se mana kar deta hai. Bhai, yeh sayi tantey hain. Ab kutte ka khaana mere khaane se zyada mehnga aayega!

Bhaav (noun): the importance you give someone in an attempt to impress.
Synonyms: ghaas daalna

E.g.:
1. Mera kutta mujhe bhow toh deta hai magar bhaav nahi deta.
2. Yaar, main uski saari facebook photos like karta hoon, aur woh hai ke mujhe bhaav hi nahi deti.
3. Abey, isko ma'am ne class monitor kya bana diya, bhaav toh aise kha rahi hai jaise Miss India jeet gayi.

Chant (adjective): very shrewd.
Synonyms: chaalu

E.g.:
1. Kejriwal bada chant hai. Swachh Dilli app khol ke apni biwi ko de diya selfie lene ke liye. MCD wale uski biwi ko malba samajh ke uttha le gaye.
2. Humaari class teacher badi chant hai. Kehti kal surprise test legi 1st chapter ka. Jab saare padh ke aa gaye toh test nahi liya. Faltu mein padhai karwa di.
3. Yaar, mera maalik bada chant hai. Do din Pedigree khila ke khush kar diya. Ab saala mujhe roti deta hai aur khud mere Pedigree kha jaata hai. Phir jaake kehta hai ke main tantey karta hoon!

Kalesh (noun): a state of unrest and continuous problems.
Synonyms: kaand, panga

E.g.:
1. Yaar, main tujhe keh raha hoon ke sooji wale gol-gappe de, tu bhains ki aankh, atte wale de ke kalesh macha raha hai.
2. Meri bahu ne aisa kalesh macha rakha hai ghar mein ke kal rajma ke saath roti bana di. Ab chawal iska pyo banaayega?
3. Smart phone kya le liya, ab har jagah charger ghumaane ka naya kalesh ho gaya hai.


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Must thank Saigalster for her super idea of the Vocabulary Builder. Yeh bandi ke tantey bohot hain, message karne se pehle soch lena.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

An Interview with The Zine

Hello, Sat Sri Akalzz and Hi Huku Hi Huku Hi Hi!

So, the peeps at The 'Zine thought I was worthy of an interview (Ha!) and put forth a couple of questions for me to answer not a very long time ago. You'll have to visit their website here to read the whole dialogue, but here's an extract to get you interested. Such bait, much wow!

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Why ‘My Life Is A Jalebi’?

The elders in my family, much like me, live in a delusional world where they believe themselves to be the funniest people to have ever walked this planet. Now, I have no idea about the kind of jokes they used to crack as teenagers, but going by what I have experienced so far, their best jokes are on the lines of “Arrey, aaj khaane mein Rajma banne hain! Raj ki maa: Rajma. Haha!”

Having grown up in a household with such brilliant talent in humor, the only description they’ve had for me while introducing me to never-before-seen and unheard of chachi/mami at family weddings is: “Bilkul jalebi ki tarah seedha hai yeh ladka.” I think that kind of stuck, and on the night when I was creating my blog, I thought I should call it “My Life is a Jalebi”, hoping that whenever a pretty lady would ask me about the significance of the title, I would tell her about how life is full of twists and turns, and more often than not, you may feel like you’re being fried in a big pan of oil (figuratively), but in the end, all this hardship will make you crisp and sweet to dig into. Imagine that being said in Hindi with a Shahrukh Khan head tilt.

Sadly though, no one asked me about the title in all these years and in the meanwhile, I grew up to realize that “sweet to dig into” is a crazy way to describe yourself without coming off as a creep.

What would your three sentences in the game ‘Two truths and a lie’ be?

1. I’ve danced to “Choli ke Peechhe Kya Hai” at the inter-college dance competition in every Delhi University college in 2010-11 - dressed in harem pants and a sequined dupatta.

2. I woke up one morning at IIM-Ahmedabad’s Girls’ Hostel with ten women sleeping on either side, and I had no idea about how that happened.

3. I once went to a National Conference on Banking Frauds as a Speaker, assuming that I had to address a gathering of law students, but was shocked to find that my audience comprised Professors of Finance, Auditors of a few Nationalized Banks, officers from the Reserve Bank and the Chief of Police for the Cyber Crime Department. I was so scared that I ran away from the venue, but returned while there was still time and conducted the session like a boss.

(The first one is false because “every” DU college did not organize a Dance Competition that year. I was there at most of the ones that did.)

To read the rest of the interview, please click here.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Math in Real Life Story

“When am I ever going to use this in life?” was a question that Professor Kashyap would long to hear from someone in the new batch of students every year. He almost always caught it being mumbled within the first week of his session. In his experience, it was the most asked question with respect to Mathematics, right after the one that asked you to calculate the value of x.

His class today did not disappoint, and he was glad to have found the opportunity to address this whispered wisecrack while attempting a question of Time, Speed and Distance – Two cars, A and B, are going around on a circular racing track. If cars A and B are moving at constant speeds of 70 km/hour and 45 km/hour respectively, and the track is 1.2 km long, how many times did car A overtake car B in 20 minutes?

“Did I ever tell you the story of how I married my wife”, he asked as he turned around from the board and placed the piece of chalk on his table.

It was the onset of summer in 1967. For months, Gulshan had been fantasizing about applying gulal on Savitri’s face and then slowly gliding his hand over to fill color in the parting of her hair. He thought it would be quite dramatic to marry her like that – like a “hero”. The thought of swirling phuljhadi’s in the air with his lady love by his side had been given up months ago when he could not gather the courage to seek her hand in marriage in the October that went by. He was not going to let this opportunity go.

And so he got up from his bed, and ran towards the spot where people from his village had set up the Holi bonfire a few hours ago. Savitri had been waiting while the rest of the villagers had left, and thankfully so. The fire had still not completely died out. Raman, the local priest’s son and Gulshan’s best friend, was nowhere to be seen. What use were his lessons in wedding mantras if he couldn’t make it in time for his debut performance?

Not wanting to waste any time, Gulshan held Savitri’s hand and started running around the unexpectedly large circumference of the bonfire while reciting the Gayatri Mantra. It was not a verse meant for the occasion, but running in silence did not seem ceremonial enough.

Soon, they saw a silhouette running towards them from a distance. Scared that someone from Savitri’s family had found out about the plan and was approaching to stop them, Gulshan ran with all his might, letting go of his lady’s hand in the sudden spurt of adrenaline – as if running around the fire seven times all by himself would consummate the marriage.

As both ran around the fire as if following each other, while keeping their gaze fixed on the approaching figure, it was soon evident that the guest was Raman.

“Why are the both of you running”, asked Raman.

“We thought you must’ve slept off. So we’re completing our wedding phera’s.”

“I’m late because I was checking Savitri’s birth chart, and I must tell you that...”

“Later, Ghonchu. Just start with the verses already!”

Vakra-tunda Mahakay…” And, the couple ran till the verses ran out.

“So what were you saying about her birth chart last night”, Gulshan asked Raman the following day.

“Nevermind that.”

“No, tell me.”

“She’s Manglik.”

“So?”

“And you’re not. So, you are going to die soon.”

“Are you fucking stupid?” Apparently, there was something synonymous to the f-word even in the India of 1967.

“I only state what the Vedas say.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. The Vedas don’t say any such thing.”

“They do. You’re free to not believe me if you don’t want to. It was my duty to tell you.”

“Why the hell did you have to bring this up and mess with my head then! Is there no way to avoid this?”

“Apparently, the lady has to marry another person before she marries the love of her life. This way, the first husband, who for all practical purposes is either a tree or a dog, takes the curse of death for having married a Manglik, and the second husband is saved from the curse.”

“Okay, um, wait… Are you sure we got married last night? I mean, I would like to believe that we did. But you know how we were both running around the fire separately, and would that tantamount to not being married?”

“I recited the verses perfectly, and in all honesty, the verses and the phera’s are all that matter to consummate the marriage. Everything else is just symbolic of things that I’m supposed to study in the next few months. You know how I’m not a full pundit yet, right?”

“So you’re saying that the phera’s were legitimate enough to consider us married? I don’t even know the number of times we went around in circles!”

“How can you not know that? Can’t you fucking count to seven? I thought you were studying Mathematics. Evidently, you’ve bunked classes to meet her every day. ”

“It was your job as a pundit, you idiot! And you came late. I just knew that I had to circumambulate around the fire.”

“For every seven phera’s, there is a marriage. So, if the both of you took fewer than seven rounds, you’re still not married. And if you took more, I haven’t yet studied what the repercussions are.”

“Wait. We can calculate the number of times we went around the fire. It’ll probably take some realistic assumptions, but it’s not impossible to calculate.”

And soon, Gulshan ran to the spot of the fire to calculate the circumference that they ran over last night. He knew that he was at a speed of not over nine kilometers an hour. He made Savitri run around the circumference again to calculate her speed. Raman said it takes him five minutes to recite those verses, and Gulshan knew that they had not been running for over a minute before he the pundit arrived at the scene.

All the necessary facts were soon compiled and Gulshan had the answer.

“I ran a total of thirty-six times, while Savitri ran twenty-three. With a margin of error of about ten per cent, I can confidently say that we both ran a minimum of twenty-one times.”

“So, you were married thrice last night”, said Raman, delighted.

“Thanks, I could so not calculate that. And what are you grinning about, you moron? This means our marriage was successful, and I’m soon going to die.”

“But you married her thrice. So by that logic, only one-third of you must die.”

“What?”

“I mean, you could get paralyzed in a third of your body. Let’s just hope it’s the middle third.”

“Huh?”

“Yeah. If the top third gets paralyzed, your brain will die, and the one-third paralysis wouldn’t be any different from dying completely. And if the bottom third gets paralyzed, I’m assuming you’ll go inactive in your crotch, which will just make the whole point of getting married futile.”

“Why do I even call you my friend?”

“Relax. I think you needn’t worry as much now. Maybe, the first time, she married the dog in you, like all Manglik’s are supposed to. And then she married you, as a person, twice. So, I hope the dog inside of you will die, and you will come out a better person… Wah! The dog in you will die. I must use this line somewhere when I’m old enough to give sermons after the Sunderkand Paath at the temple.”

Professor Kashyap, a man of age sixty-eight was still alive – hale and hearty. All thirds of his body were intact, and he was known to be a thorough gentleman.

“So, that, my children, is how Time, Speed and Distance helped me find out if I was married to my wife or not. And, if I was going to die early from a curse, or live long enough to narrate this story today.”

“We can also use the track history function on the GPS enabled FitBit fitness band to track the number of rounds we would have taken during our phera’s. It’s much easier”, remarked Karan.

“Good luck wearing a fitness band to your wedding.”

*****
Image Source: thegentlemansarmchair.com

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tater Jack

While he held the stem of his champagne flute with the pinch of his right hand, a pinch of the left clutched a beedi. There weren't many who would attempt to taste the smooth tingle of bubbly with the hit of cheap, unfiltered tobacco. But the lines of socio-economic stratification remained invisible to him, and not just blurry.

Throughout his career that spanned decades, he had played a variety of roles. His depiction of secret agent "Brown; Hash Brown" was as loved as his performance in Ratatouille. He could play each character with panache - completely personifying the culture he attempted to fit in.

But tonight, Mr. Potato sat on his couch, paying no heed to the negative connotation his association with the piece of furniture had earned, and pondered over his import in the global culinary industry. Was his contribution ever acknowledged as much as it truly deserved?

A fan of Bollywood, he knew that life was not always just, and there was a lot other than talent that determined an actor's popularity. Fair skin and dimples took actors a long way – it was something that also led to the Paneer's success. He knew that even though the world liked its food fried deep, the people themselves were just shallow.

Paneer was the Shah Rukh of the vegetarian food industry – enjoying fruits of a wonderful stroke of luck over talent. And Soya, the Salman – winning thousands of vegetarians with nothing, but a muscular personality.

Paneer was smooth, no doubt, but there were many like him throughout the world. Gouda, Cheddar, Mozarella... You name it, and every country had its own version of that typical romantic hero. Hell, even Tofu fell in the same category. Where was the Paneer's individuality? But it was loved – dipped in a gravy of tomatoes, it became Shahi; marinated in spinach, it became the Palak Paneer. Vegetarians ordered for the Paneer wherever they went, but not one thought of the Aaloo.

To hold it in contrast, the Aaloo had displayed a lot more variation. He was the protagonist in The Burger Patty, and also played the role of a thickening agent in the Tomato Ketchup – something very few were aware of. He beat Aamir Khan at being socially active as the Bhaaji with the Poori at langars across the country. On the other hand, he was mischievous enough to let people believe that his character in Fries was French, when it was actually American - this sly thing!

Here was a man who had romanced with every possible partner one could imagine to work with. From French Beans to Okra, from Ketchup to Mint Chutney, and from Chaat to the Parantha – this gentleman had perfected all. Was he the Anupam Kher to the industry; extremely talented, omni-present, revered, and yet not the Best Actor winner at Filmfare?

He looked into the mirror and rubbed a hand on his bald pate. He had come a long way with these looks that still spoke of his past when he grew in the mud and rose from the ground. He wasn't going to let such thoughts bog him down! He had his own identity that he was proud of. At least he wasn’t pretentious like the Paneer, calling itself “Cottage Cheese” while travelling across borders. Bloody Cottage Chu!

He took a puff from the beedi and blew a smoke circle towards the mirror. "Anupam Kher nahi, Irrfan Khan hain, bh****od!"


Image Source: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bq07-YBIEAIYsCU.jpg

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Man and His Ghaghra - MSG 2 Review (Guest Post)

Let's begin this movie review by the climax, and breaking the unbreakable rule of telling you what happens in a movie, I will. 

MSG 2's villain, a (what else!) corrupt politician approaches the hero (Pitaji) flanked by an army (a real army) battalion, a clutch of SUVs, and a phalanx of REAL ARMY TANKS. At this time, it seems sure that he will kill the man, once and for all. He also has an 'international drug mafia' man with him. 

This is what he proceeds to do- he has a mega phone in his hand, with which he literally speaks out everything that's happened in the past two hours, plus a couple of other things that happened in a parallel universe, where Pitaji managed to break his 'sex racket', his 'drug racket' and a few other things. Nice recap you'd think, because you went numb after the first 20 minutes. But no. He then proceeds to attack with the army, and the entire batallion is decimated, and basically disappears from the scene. Then he asks the tanks to nestonabood Ram Rahim Singh Insaan. On hearing his name, all the soldiers driving the tanks (are they called tank drivers in the army?) come out of their shells tortoise like. 

Soldier 1: I can't kill Ram Rahim Singh Insaan, meri thalassemia peedit maan ko inki wajah se khoon mila.
Soldier 2: I can't kill Ram Rahim Singh Insaan, meri pita ko inki wajah se aankhen mili.
​Soldier 3: I can't kill Ram Rahim Singh Insaan, mujhe border par injury ke time khoon mila.
​Soldier 3: I can't kill Ram Rahim Singh Insaan, Inhone meri behen ki shaadi karayi.
Soldier 4: I can't kill Ram Rahim Singh Insaan, inhone Saturn ko moon ke saamne lakar meri dasha theek ki. 

Okay, the last one was made up, but you get the gist now, don't you. 

If you've read part 1's review, you know MSG is a special kind of film franchise. The Hero, Director, Singer, Writer and many other things is Baba Ram Rahim Singh ji Insaan, the hairiest baby on the planet. And as with most sequels, this one takes it up a notch. 

The main trouble is with some adivasis, who are jaanwars, rendered through black body paint, shell jewellery (for a tribe in landlocked north India, how this happened is very interesting to me from an anthropology pov) and speaking random accents of Hindi, need to be reformed. Our baba is up to the mark. He does it through various shenanigans which make sense only if you have ingested crystal meth through shooting it up your arse. That much must already be pretty clear to you. 

Here's random snippets which should excite you:
- An adivasi man and woman fall in lust. To 'select' him, she says, 'Ho Jaye'?, to which he replies, 'Kya ho jaye?', to which she says 'Daaru peene ka mukabla'. Both of them get drunk on toddy, and then of course there is a love song, where they transform themselves into city bred folk in their fantasy, and sing this song.

This is perfect, because it shows all adivasis hold a secret wish to transform themselves into city folk, and because it is the best use of Green screens since Godzilla (the original version released in 1931).

- The man himself has a final showdown with Ajgar, the bete noire, which he attends in a pink ghagra, while Ajgar keeps imagining him in a golden bra and keeps calling him Maharana Pratap. By the end of the fight, you don't know who's won, who's lost and who's fighting. You don't care.

-In one absolutely inconsequential scene, Pitaji is walking around, talking to random government servant. The scene must have called for showing some of his lackeys cleaning and taking care of the place (A govt. district headquarters) they're all staying in. So they called in a few of them in their Babaji ki army dress to clean. And then some more, and then a few more. As a result, a frame which shows about a 100 sq.yards of space behind Babaji has three hundred people cleaning earnestly, mostly turning left and right around their feet, earnestly. 

Seriously, Kanan and Biswa have the title ready for this one- most extras ever.

I realise this review is more of a show and tell, and I haven't been able to put down on paper my exact feelings as I went through this. There's a reason for that- MSG is now getting to the place where it is exercising the very options it was to be banned for the first part- Ram Rahim is getting comfortable playing a god figure, doing miracles to make 13-year old girls give birth to babies, getting adivasis to become human beings, and mixing it up with the usual Bollywood buffoonery to show he's one harmless man. By extension, he calls himself Adiguru, Maharana Pratap, mixes his idioms with Muhammad, Isa Masih and all other prophets to show himself as one. As megaphone wielding villains, cowering tank drivers spell out his message to the illiterate man on the street, I can just shudder to think of the money, time and energy he will draw out of these crowds in the real world. And that there are many more like him, out and about. 
That said, MSG 3, in Baahubali style, has been announced within MSG2. So I'll see you soon. Tab tak Babaji ka Aashirwaad.


Image Source: babyboxofficecollectionreports.com

Saturday, September 12, 2015

I'm Sorry that I'm Scared

Here’s something that I’ve wanted to write about for the past two years, but haven’t found the courage to. I have tried putting my thoughts to words on a number of occasions, but given up mid-way, fearing the backlash they may get; or the disbelief that any story of a man’s vulnerability may invite.

I think I am more scared of the women around me than they are of the men that surround them.

While I feel proud that the people of my country are now becoming brave enough to stand up for any kind of mistreatment or violence against women, I feel scared to know that a woman holds the power to falsely accuse me of a crime that I may have not committed. I am terrified of the idea that while on the one hand, my family could, some day, be making efforts to make a new member of the household feel welcomed and loved, the new lady of the house could be devising ways to cry wolf and threaten her in-laws with false accusations of domestic violence and dowry demands unless they give into her demands of share in moveable and immovable property.

The thought may seem silly to most, or to those more medically inclined, as a symptom of paranoia or mental imbalance. I mean, doesn’t this fear seem unjustified? It’s probably as silly as constantly living in the fear that you might get murdered some day.

However, would you say that it is silly when a woman confesses of her everyday fear of being raped, especially at a place like Delhi? You wouldn’t because you know that rape is a big problem in Delhi. We know that women fear going out alone at night. We know that rape happens, and it gets talked and written about. The crime has found a voice in the past few years when society has gradually progressed on the path away from victim shaming.

As we see India progress in support of the victim, strengthening laws for protection of women in the country, we probably don’t see the regression that is silently gnawing us under the covers. Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code provides protection to women from domestic violence. It pertains to a non-bailable and non-compoundable offence, whereby the accused and his family members are put behind bars even before they are proven guilty, only on the basis of a complaint. The law has been misused terribly in the past few years, taking more the form of a weapon than a shield.

The reason any such information does not carry with itself the potential to give goosebumps is because a vast majority is still unaware of this practice. Where any mistreatment of a man, when admitted to, is seen as emasculation in our society, how is this any different from victim shaming? Families that have faced these problems in the past few years sit silently, trying not to worsen the consequences of a false accusation that has already marred their reputation in society. They refuse to open up and talk about it because it would show how “less of a man” the son of the family was to have been taken for a ride by a “girl”. They further know that the media promotes stories of women fighting against injustice. And who would believe their innocence anyway? While stories of revolt against traditionally unspoken issues are glorified without checking for their authenticity, the rising concerns leading to another unspoken issue are pushed under the rug.

Out of the over 2.3 million people accused under Section 498A of the IPC since 1998, only about 0.26 million have been convicted. While those on one side may perceive it as an evidence of loss of faith in the functioning of the judiciary, which seems to have acquitted almost 85% of those accused; the other side may be yearning for a simpler look at the statistics, for sometimes, it is most objective to not over-analyze.

The Delhi Commission for Women has officially stated that 53% of all cases for domestic violence filed between April, 2013 and July, 2014 were false. The Delhi Commission for Women, mind you! There is no such official “Commission for Men” in the country because who thought men could be victims too.

In the case of Mr. Sushil Kumar Sharma v. Union of India, the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed, “Many instances have come to light where the complaints are not bona fide and have filed with oblique motive. In such cases acquittal of the accused does not in all cases wipe out the ignominy suffered during and prior to trial. Sometimes adverse media coverage adds to the misery. The question, therefore, is what remedial measures can be taken to prevent abuse of the well-intentioned provision. Merely because the provision is constitutional and intra vires, does not give a license to unscrupulous persons to wreck personal vendetta or unleash harassment. It may, therefore, become necessary for the legislature to find out ways how the makers of frivolous complaints or allegations can be appropriately dealt with. Till then the Courts have to take care of the situation within the existing framework. As noted, the object is to strike at the roots of dowry menace. But by misuse of the provision, a new legal terrorism can be unleashed. The provision is intended to be used a shield and not assassin’s weapon. If cry of ‘wolf’ is made too often as a prank, assistance and protection may not be available when the actual ‘wolf’ appears.

Being a Chartered Accountant in practice, I have clients coming to our firm to obtain certificates of income and net worth regularly. While these certificates were taken with the objective to contest in business bids till a few years ago, over 80% of such certificates issued now pertain to cases of domestic violence and dowry demands being contested in the courts of law. We have observed families, who my parents have personally known for over 30 years, break down before us. We have attended their weddings, been part of their celebrations and closely known their family dynamics as confidantes and well wishers for years. It pains us to see how such cases permeate beyond the boundaries of religion, social status and financial strength.

These cases and their first hand narration traumatize my parents, who are worried about having a son that they may have to get married in a few years. The same fear, I naturally inherit.

I fear being in a relationship, where the woman may hold the power to accuse me of rape in case the companionship may not progress as she may have planned. Or more simply, I fear giving a genuine compliment to a lady lest I may be accused of being a superficial prick, who has tried to “make a move” on her. I fear cracking a joke that may be labeled as “sexist”, and not an exaggeration of gender stereotypes that could be innocently intentioned to not be taken seriously. I also fear letting my fears known because they may “seem” to be against the interests of women.

I think of myself as a man respectful of women. But I may be wrong, for what is right or wrong still seems subjective in this age of online public shaming. A respectable and well intentioned lady like Charlotte Proudman may not agree with a respectable and well intentioned man like Alexander Carter-Silk. I probably have no right to comment on the matter. Neither do I have the right to comment on the Rohtak brave-hearts case or the recent Jasleen Kaur - Sarvjeet Singh episode. However, I think I may have the right to speak about a fear that I strongly feel.

I may not fully understand the terms “feminism” or “misogyny”. I may be uneducated in these areas and may be publicly shamed for being so. But I understand “fear”, a feeling that I do not need an education to feel, and an emotion that is not the prerogative of a specific gender.

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Another version of this article has also been published on Youth Ki Awaaz. You can read it here.