Thursday, August 28, 2003

Dave Ki Kasam, Auto Dave works

Recently a friend of mine read this blog and quickly mailed me a great compliment. "You are a cheat. You are trying to ape Dave Barry."

I haven't seen Dave but I would do anything to meet him. How can I ape him? Now if you my friend meant that I try writing like him, I would try a bit harder. For Dave is great. Even Dave would agree to that. Dave is here. Ask him.

But I am not the only one who thinks so. There's a site where you can write your own Dave Barry column. All you need to do is fill a form. I tried Auto Dave. And look what I got!

Recently in New Delhi (motto: "Your bum is chumming""), residents reported an outbreak of 420s. Perhaps you think there are no 420s in New Delhi. Perhaps you are an idiot.

As the French say, au contraire (literally: "nincompoop!"). I have here in my hands a copy of an Associated Press article sent in by alert reader Markiv , whose name can be rearranged to spell "M AVRIK", although that is not my main point. "Markiv ", by the way, only has the letters "Maki" in in common with "Monica Lewinsky", so there is no other reason to mention Monica Lewinsky in this column.

According to a quote which I am not making up, from New Delhi Mayor Madan Lal Khurana (formally "Mayor Madan Lal Khurana" and informally "Muddu"), 420s ranks as a major crisis just behind Dahi, papad and Ghee (insert your "achar" joke here), as evidenced by the following conversation between New Delhi government employees:


SECOND NEW DELHI EMPLOYEE: "Go ahead! Go really ahead!"

FIRST NEW DELHI EMPLOYEE: "You came this far!"

Fortunately I have a suggestion for Mayor Muddu, and that is: kick George Steinbrenner's ass.

No, seriously, my suggestion does not involve George Steinbrenner's ass, although it might involve making a murga of Tobacco Institute scientists. My suggestion is more along the lines of a coup de grace, from the French coup, meaning "watching", and de grace, meaning "TV". The procedure (you may want to write this down):

1. Unleash the cows
2. hosepipe them

But instead the New Delhi city council (motto: "We'll misrule when you pry the hand out of our cold, dead fingers") thinks that they (the 420s) will 420 soon, sending this message to the public, and to the world: "I went, I came & I how!".
Speaking of which, "The New Delhi 20s Outbreak" would be a great name for a rock band.

Science proposes, Astrology disposes

Astrology proposes, science disposes : Astrologers say the celestial event of Mars coming closer to Earth would trigger a series of significant events. Scientists said this is all bunkum.

"There is no correlation between Mars coming close to the Earth and the political developments in the country. It is just a coincidence," Nehru Planetarium Director Dr N Rathnasree said. "All these claims are illogical. Nobody has found any relation between the distance of the Earth and Mars."

I would like to believe Ms Rathnasiree, but the events on earth suggest otherwise. Ask me, as a journalist on the desk we've been struggling for news. "Nothing's happening" had been one of the most heard statements made in the newsroom. That was till last week. Now so much is happening that we don't know what to do.

OUT OF THE BLUE: Opposition moved a No Confidence Motion against the NDA government at the Centre

OUTBREAK OF EYE FLU: Though eye flu is a gift the Monsoon gets us every year, but this year it's been severe. Except me everyone else seems to have had a red eye.

MUMBAI HAS TWIN BLASTS: The worst since 1993. RDX packed in bags were left in taxis. The deathtoll crossed 50.

IN UP, AS LONG AS IT LASTS: Mayawati drops a bombshell. BJP withdraws, Mulayam draws. Totally unexpected turn of events in the state.

NASIK STAMPEDE KILLS 50: Thank God. Because hundreds survived. With crowds of hundreds of thousands of people at one place, anything could have happened.

AND KAKISI THROAT IS BAD TO THE T: I tried looking at the Mars. It looked as small as ever. And as far. I tried using my small telescope which doesn't have a stand. And my hands aren't steady. I have a bad cold. Cough! Oh... My throooooooat!

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Ides of Mars

Mumbai is mauled. Police blame terrorists from Pak-based Jaish-e-Mohammad for the twin blasts that killed over 50 people on Monday afternoon. Astrologers blame Mars.

They had said Mars' coming closer to earth might trigger chaos in parts of the world. Astronomers are ready with their telescopic apparatus to watch the celestial miracle of Mars coming closest to our planet in 66,000 years. The galaxy is so big that planets take so long even to see each other once in a while.

I love Mars, not the red plant but the one closer home. Mars chocolate bars. I must mention here that I do not mind Galaxy either.

But what I love most is Bounty. It's modelled on the coconut, which is not a nut but a fruit. It's hard on the outside and soft inside. Brown outside but white inside.

Like us Indians.

We claim to be proud of our brown colour but always long to live in those parts of the world where whites live.

We talk tough to all the countries but even our neighbour knows we will end up soft-pedalling. The neighbour keeps sending in terrorists. Because fighting us on border is a hard task, we have defeated them every time.

Inside the country, it is easy. There are soft targets. We are coconuts.

Within our country, Kerala is known for its coconuts. Folks in Kerala are called Malayalees who speak Malayalam. By the way, Malayalam is read malayalaM even if you read from right to left. Malayalees however still have a lot of love left for the Left.

With West Bengal, Kerala forms the backbone of what's left of the Left in India. Leftists haven't yet accepted globalisation and liberalisation as India's economic policy.

Leftist economists hate multinational brands eating into our own desi brands. Like Mars taking a bite out of Amul. The pro-liberalisation economists favour open markets and competition.

But has Mars beaten Amul? No. Amul as a brand is growing strong and its quality competes to multinational brands. It still remains a brand owned by a milk cooperative in Gujarat.

Gujarat in fact was known for its progressive outlook, innovative entrepreneurs and money-making machines of men till the last year's riots smeared its reputation as a peaceful states.

Aftershocks continue. Muslim extremists have formed groups to avenge the killings. Some believe that the Mumbai blasts, majority of those killed were Gujaratis, are a handiwork of these terror modules. Mumbai is mauled. Some blame it on Mars.

Today it'll be closest to us. Are we safe?

Maya Mili Na....

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP let Lok Janshakti leader Ram Vilas Paswan go out of National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to stick to Mayawati. Now she has ditched BJP. Paswan, a dalit leader, didn’t want another dalit party in NDA fold. Maya and Paswan have the same voters, they would cannibalise each other. He insisted that Maya be kept out if the NDA wants him in. But NDA leader party BJP, with on Uttar Pradesh, decided to back Maya. Paswan quit and poured a lot of vitriol against the BJP. Now even Maya is out. BJP is back to being a Manuwadi in UP. This is called Maya mili na Ram.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Sonia-Atal: Exclusive tape transcripts

After the two-day no-confidence motion debate in the Lok Sabha, there is a widespread feeling that India’s Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee treats Opposition leader Sonia Gandhi with disdain and tries to run her down all the time instead of answering her questions.

Being an investigative journalist, I can tell you he doesn’t. Forget about Lok Sabha, even outside the political arena, the two share a camaraderie and concern earlier unheard of.

I can say that because investigative journalists like me have the privilege of access to secret government documents. I can also tell you that there’s nothing like a secret government document in Lutyen’s Delhi. By the way, I am not supposed to reveal this fact that New Delhi was actually designed by some guy called Lutyen.

Now that you know this, I will not hide from you the latest taped conversation between the Prime Minister Vajpayee and Opposition leader Gandhi over dinner at a restaurant. You can ask the restaurant manager, Mr Joshi, who is always there when the two top leaders arrive.

My dear reader, this transcript comes exclusively for you to prove that the two in fact have a conversation. Anager Since this is a secret tape, I request you to not reveal this to more than 37 people.

VAJPAYEE: Hi, hello. How are you?

GANDHI: I am fine, Misterrr Prrrime Ministerrr.

VAJPAYEE: I am fine! What does that mean? I first came to this restaurant in 1957. I haven’t seen anyone speak like that.

GANDHI: Forrrget it. Let’s orrrderrr something first.

VAJPAYEE: What kind of language is that? Manager Mahoday, we can order something second, third, fourth, fifth. Why order first? Why is this hurry? Will the food disappear from the kitchen? This is absolutely unacceptable behaviour.

GANDHI: Why do you take everrrything so perrrsonally?

VAJPAYEE: Matlab kya hai iska? What do you want to say? I am a person of my own. I am because you are not. I am not because of you. You mean India’s Prime Minister is taking things personally. India does not take things personally. India has its culture, it’s civilisation is old, please respect that. Nobody has the right to criticise India like that. India’s not cheap. You must not forget that.

GANDHI: Please Misterrr. I do not think you are hungry. Can we just finish dinner and talk?

VAJPAYEE: Why me, Manager Mahoday. In 1977, when I became foreign minister for the first time, I was hungry. What’s my crime if I am hungry today? Indira Gandhi was hungry, Rajeev Gandhi tried to be hungry. Hunger has been a policy for a long time. And in Parliament, we have been united on at least one thing: Foreign Policy. Now this is setting a wrong tradition. We’ll have differences over pasta and naashta, but let’s not have debate over our foreign policy. It’s India’s foreign policy. Not mine, not hers. Thank you.

My recorder was right but I couldn’t record a thing. In fact, Restaurant Manager Joshi said that whatever was happening will not go on record. Sorry for that. But I still got you some right.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Cleanliness Confidence

Indian railway stations have huge billboards declaring in large letters: CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS. The walls are also painted with the message but you can’t see them. They are covered with layers of paan peek over the years.

There are tracks close to the platform; you can’t see them because they are covered in human excrement.

The Indian life revolves around the belief in god (or Gods) and that makes them so obsessed with cleanliness, that they are cleaning their bowels whenever and wherever they want. The station happens to be there. They clean their houses and throw the garbage on the road. Keep yourself clean, surroundings can clean themselves.

They also sneer at anyone who keeps dirty. “People in the West don’t shower. They use deodorant. Their streets are clean but not their houses,” is what my Gurukul friend Sanjay keeps telling me.

But this news, reported by Reuters, proves people there can go as far as getting arrested for their need to shower.

German police detained a 36-year-old man for trying to shower naked in a car wash in the southern town of Fuerth. “He stripped off and said he wanted to take a shower, but couldn't start the machine,” a police spokesman said. “It wasn’t a great idea. He could have been coated in car wax, scalded by hot water or rubbed raw by brushes.”

Poor guy. His crime wasn’t indecency, but the attempt to bathe in a car wash. You go to a car wash to wash your car and not yourself.

Tell that to our politicians. Last night after nearly 48 hours of washing dirty linens on Doordarshan, they ended up stinking more than ever.

Somebody tell them election campaigns aren’t organised at Parliament, which is meant for better things like walkouts and adjournments.

The Opposition led by Congress’ Sonia Gandhi moved a no-confidence motion against the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the debate ended up in loose emotions and stupid tu-tu-main-main.

The Opposition and the ruling coalition stripped each other naked and tried to shower in a place meant to wash cars. The ruling party retains the confidence.

The Congress later said it didn’t want to bring down the government. It just wanted to raise people’s issues.

Waah! It’s like Tom pulls the trigger on Dick and the bullet misses the latter by 126 inches. Then Tom tells Harry he didn’t want to kill Dick, he just wanted to point out Dick’s wife doesn’t mow the lawn as often as she should.

If you want to raise people’s issue, Parliament is made for it. Moving a no-confidence motion to raise public issues is like using grenades in Diwali when all you need is crackers.

By the way, Diwali is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama from Vanvas (being ostracised). The last two days have been Diwali for Mr George Fernandes. In the words of Vajpayee: “George ka vanvaas khatm ho gaya.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Sense of Rumour

I, Kakisi, hereby solemnly deny in public interest that erstwhile beauty queen and worthwhile Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai visited me at my East Delhi flat yesterday evening.

What was the hurry to offer this denial, you may ask. My dear reader, this statement has become imperative after the spate of rumours going around about people spotting Aishwarya Rai at places like Roswell and Islamabad.

By the way Islamabad is in Pakistan, a nation just recovering from Laloo’s sense of humour, and currently gripped by a strong sense of rumour.

My dear reader, my hurry is because of Hari, Rai’s secretary who shares my surname. I wanted to deny any meeting with Aishwarya Rai before Hari Singh confirms it. That’s if he finds time from denying.

He has just denied that Rai ever visited Pakistan. “She never visited Pakistan nor does she plan to do so in the near future,” Singh told reporters in Mumbai today. He is saying Pakistani newspapers are making a pahaad (mountain) out of a rai (mustard seed).

Pakistani newspaper The News reported yesterday that Ms Rai was on a quiet vacation in Islamabad recently. And I quote The News: “The intellectual student of yesterday who has blossomed into a fine actress today was in the city for three days on a hush-hush trip… Her politician host is said to have taken care of his guest generously.”

It’s no secret that being secretary to a star is more difficult a job than that of a secret agent. You have to keep denying everything that’s reported. Like Hari Singh confirmed Aishwarya as the next James Bond love interest in the next 007 film. The studio, which makes Bond films, denied they ever thought of Aishwarya Rai.

Aishwarya Rai always denied the reports that Salman beat her up, gave her a black eye. When Salman denied all this, Aishwarya confirmed. If a newspaper reports that Hari Singh indeed is Ms Rai’s secretary, Hari will deny it.

He’s paid to do that. Rai is queen of hearts, he’s jack of the trade, which mostly comprises denying. The trade is based in Mumbai, a city once known for its textile mills. Today it’s famous for its rumour mills.

Lahore in Pakistan has similar mills. According to them if Pakistani janata were asked to choose between Kashmir and Aishwarya, all but one would vote for Aishwarya. Because only one person wants Kashmir and that’s whoever is ruling the country.

The people want Bollywood to meet Lollywood. They want Madhuri, Shah Rukh, Kajol and Amitabh Bachchan to visit them. They want to watch Bollywood films and not feel guilty of violating the law that bans them. They want Aishwarya Rai and they will have her. Even if it’s just in their dreams. Or rumours.

Loose motions

The debate on no-confidence motion moved by the Opposition has crossed all limits like that of decency, parliamentary behaviour and time. I am waiting for the Prime Minister to reply to the motion as promised. The evening is slipping into night and the debate is still on.

Sonia, Laloo and Pak democracy

Sonia Gandhi’s Italian roots and Hindi hoots have been attracting a lot of ridicule. But now our members of Parliament are taking it to a new ridiculous level.

Yesterday, she was reading from a paper. Samata Party’s Prabhunath Singh objected to it, citing from some rule in the book that a member could not read to the House. Others invariably insist that she speaks in Hindi.

Yours truly disapproves of such behaviour and objects to such objections. My question is: How does it matter? Whether she speaks in Hindi or English, it would sound like Italian.

Though reading it from a sheet written by someone else she has proven one fact: she is not illiterate. She can read. How does it matter if she reads out somebody else’s views.

It’s better than Prabhunath Singh speaking out his own mind. He doesn’t prove anything but one doubt whether he has any mind. When it comes to making sense, he scores nothing.

When it comes to making a nuisance, he makes nearly as much as Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav does. The latter went to Pakistan and proved one fact: he’s actually made of flesh and blood and walks on two legs.

The realisation that the Laloo in those Laloo jokes was actually a human being made them laugh a second time. So much so that even President Musharraf was seen smiling.

Just that Musharraf had other reasons to be smug about. Of late he was worried about the rising demand for democracy in Pakistan. The dictator’s legitimacy was being questioned. The problem rose to the extent that the religious Opposition group Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal led by Fazlur Rahman organised rallies demanding he quit one of the two posts Musharraf holds: the Army Chief and the President.

Laloo’s visit eased that a lot. Now people in Pakistan wouldn’t be after his life for call elections and bring back democracy.

When Musharraf was smiling to PTV camera you could read his lips saying: “Dear sisters and brothers of Pakistan. Look what democracy can get you. Bihar has democracy.”

Soon after, Rahman agreed to let the President wear Army uniform. Pakistan can wait. Democracy has got them Fazlur Rahman. Enough for the moment.

Ritual to Undo the Done

The other day, my alert friend Bray was telling me about a really weird tribe in America. I did not use the word weird because they are vegetarians — a word not usually associated with tribes. I used the word weird because these strictly vegetarian tribesmen eat meat if they happen to kill an animal. But not before an elaborate puja, an abracadabra ceremony to converts the meat into sort of vegetables. According to the exclusive details provided to only your truly, at least 17 tribal men and women dance while they go around the dead animal kept on a high platform. The wonder is that they also chant a secret mantra I am proud to translate for you: “If it doesn’t move it’s not animal. Vegetables don’t move so they’re vegetables. Dead animals are vegetables.”
N today’s modern times, this ancient practice is practised only in two places in the world: Bray didn’t tell me about the place those tribals live in. I live in the other place this is practised. It’s in the heart of New Delhi, which in turn is the heart of Delhi, which in turn is the heart of India. Anyway, heart failure and other such ailments are strictly banned from discussion in this column so I would restrict to the tribal practises, to be precise vegetarians sanctifying meat into a vegetable to make it eatable. Doing strange things to make bedfellows in politics. The popular rituals of the political tribes of India.
NDA’s George Fernandes was something the Opposition couldn’t touch for nearly two years. He was killed by tehelka. On Monday and Tuesday, a two-day ritual (popularly known as no-confidence motion) was conducted to turn him into something acceptable to the tribe. Where Sonia tried to fry him in the cauldron of corruption charges and scalded her hand.
Sonia Gandhi was totally unacceptable to the rest of the Opposition. Samajwadi Mulayam Singh was never soft on her. Nobody seemed to have a problem with her party, the Congress, leading the pack against the BJP, provided she, the Italian, wasn’t the leader. Now the two-day Purify George ritual had a side-effect like all rituals. But this side-effect was effective in Sonia’s advantage. Most have begun accepting she will lead them.
BJP is heating the communal cauldron in Ayodhya and chanting “Mandir Wahin Banayenge” which is ancient Sanskrit for “Religion is the best politics”. Sonia is creating a concoction of strange roots and leaves from Indian political jungle. Laloo booti is a sure cure against some bacteria called Bacillus Togadiatus. Mulayam masala may work for all caught in the evil Tandon’s Mayajaal. BJP has one big mantra to defeat all: L'India deve temere Sonia, lei è italiana. That’s mdoern Italian for Italian is still an issue.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Looks like, we got a problem!

When a 18-year-old girl looks into the mirror, she is sure she looks like Madhuri Dixit or Julia Roberts. Which one depends on where she is from. If she is from a village Kailashgarh near Kolhapur, she thinks she is Madhuri.

If she is from Greater Kailash in Delhi, she's Julia Roberts. Her weight doesn't matter much, because she's comparing the face. She is sure she can get in shape in three months after she looked at the ad in the right hand bottom corner of the newspaper describing how Ms Bhari Wadhwa of Rajouri Garden came down from 103 kg to 97.3kg in three months.

When I look at the mirror I am sure I look like my lookalike. We both are looking for each other for looking alike is a problem being discussed from Lal Kuan to Lok Sabha.

I am not sure about Lal Kuan discussing it but the Lok Sabha certainly is.

Balbir Singh, a Shatrughan Sinha lookalike, sauntered around the Parliament House for a couple of hours. Security guards shook hands with him and even asked for autographs. Nobody asked for his ID for you don't ask a minister for an ID in India.

Shatrughan Sinha, the minister, wasn't around and nobody else seems to know what the real Shatrughan Sinha looks like. Anyway, the question now being raised is: What if it were an ataankwadi from a shatru desh? Even Balbir says: What if I had a bomb?

Balbir means that if he had a bomb he would have felt like blowing up Parliament. And since he would have felt like it, he would have done it. Thank you, Balbir, for not having a bomb.

But that doesn't answer the question: What if a Shatrughan-lookalike terrorist enters the Parliament complex? Parliament has a committee on security and that committee is discussing this issue threadbare.

I think Parliament is going to ban look-alikes. And Govinda will welcome the news. His look-alikes are busier than him. "Waah! Kya inverter hai." Ditto for Dharmendra, Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan and others.

Though I am sure Lal Kuan is not in Jodhpur, the issue of lookalikes has become a burning issue in the Rajasthan town. Ashok Sindhi's wife and relatives were in shok after cremating him about 24 days ago. They had in fact come to terms with his death. On August 4, he walked back in.

Police investigations revealed that the body belonged to another person called Suman Sharma, who looked like Sindhi. Sharma's body was lying in a ditch on July 10, the day Sindhi went missing. Sindhi's family thought he's dead. After the postmortem, which blamed the death to an accident, he was cremated.

Now Sindhi say he had gone to visit his grandmother in Jaipur. The question everyone's should now be asking is: When is Suman Sharma coming back? Because it's only after he returns that the police investigations would reveal that the body did not belong to even Suman Sharma but his lookalike Bhuvan Verma. Anybody looking like Bhuvan Verma, beware. You're next.

Money, Buy Me a Judge

“There are some thing money can’t buy, for everything else, there’s Mastercard goes one of the most memorable ad lines in the history of hawking stuff through publicity.

The series of Mastercard ads have been a big hit. Most of them are quite funny too, but it’s a necessity for all good advertisers. Ads that are funny work. People remember the funny part and remember the product and spend money on buying the stuff. Money you know is a funny thing.

Nobody picks up a crumpled, dirty, torn shirt lying on the roadside even if it was worth a thousand bucks when new. People would run to grab a crumpled, dirty, greasy 100-buck note flying in the air.

With money, you can do really funny things like buy paper and pen and write a long letter to your girlfriend already in love with your money. Or you can write “PLEASE TAKE ME OUT THIS JAIL” in capital letters, which in reverse reads “PLEASE LET ME STAY IN THE JAIL PLEASE.” Don’t try reading in reverse. You will reach the beginning of this story. So here begins the story.

P. Lall of Delhi has a government accommodation: a cell at the Tihar Jail. The problem is he got nothing to do inside jail. Most of the guys in jail are down to their last penny and it’s not an ideal place for a cheat to operate. She he wants to operate outside the jail.

The police shifted him to Tihar after his career in forgery and cheating was burning so bright that the constable napping on the beat could see it. Beat brings us to Beatles, who sang the famous: Money can’t buy you love.

Who needs love? Ditto for Lall, so he decided to buy freedom. And he didn’t want any one to come between him and the law. So he decided to bribe Lau, the judge, in writing and in person.

"You should release me immediately and also decide the case in my favour. Once I am released, I shall furnish your fee for this favour by cheque," Lall scribbled at the bottom of the bail application he handed over to Metropolitan Magistrate Kamini Lau, when his case came up for hearing in court. Lall seems to have read a lot of non-fiction legal thrillers where villains bribe their way out of hell.

Lau was so angry that she asked Lall to read out the last two lines of his bail application in court. Last heard Lall was humming to Pink Floyd: Money, get away.

Friday, August 08, 2003

Witchdoctors and cops

A witch doctor in Nigeria has been arrested for possessing a human skull. According to news agency Reuters, police recovered other items like cowries and horns from the man's shrine in the city of Benin, about 180 miles northeast of the commercial hub of Lagos. The 80-year-old witch doctor was suspected of using human parts for rituals.

Gross, you will say. Funny cops is my opinion. Charge the guy with witchdoctoring, but what's that got with skulls. This is like charging a carpenter for carrying hammer and nails, for they can be. The other day my friend nailed his finger to the wall. He saved his finger but lost his middle finger nail, when the hammer missed the nail and hit his fingernail.

The Nigerian cops also need to know that they cannot charge a woman for possessing breasts and other such parts, if the pornography law says one can't show them in public. Book them for public exposure not for what's essential parts of the body.

Witchdoctors need to carry skulls to fulfill the desire of his customers, who wouldn't believe him if he didn't have those skulls and horns. It's part of his business.

I am a journalist. My job is to write. But to call people names is none of my business. If I were in Nigeria and write against the President of Nigeria, can the cops arrest for me for possessing a keyboard?

The cops would tell the jdge: "Melord, he has a keyboard." And the judge with charge me with sitting on the court bench.
That's if the judge was German. Because a German court did just that. It fined a man 75 euros for sitting on a park bench.

His crime: The bench was next to a playground in the Botanical Garden. The police had sent him a 150-euro challan, but the man went to court. The judge reduced it to 75 euros, after the police told the court that there were no children in the playground at that time.

The story behind this is that police have cracked down on people hanging around playgrounds if they are not accompanied by a child.

Mass distraction

The Brits have begun going easy on their stiff upper lips stuff. In fact they’ve learnt to accept things like breasts as part of female anatomy and not female atanomy.

If you don’t know what atanomy is here’s help: It’s an anagram. An anagram as you all know is a word or phrase made by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase. Like Mother in law is an anagram of Woman Hitler. Now since you have received that email about anagrams like ‘Decimal Point’ rearranged as ‘I'm a dot in place’ and ‘President Clinton of USA’ rearranged as ‘To copulate he finds Interns’ I will not bore you with this stupid anagrams.

Instead I will use the increasing British understanding of humour in ads. An advertisement for budget airline EasyJet featuring a picture of a woman's breasts in a bikini top with a headline "Discover Weapons of Mass Distraction" was not offensive, Britain's advertising watchdog has declared.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had received only 186 complaints about the advert from some who said the ad was demeaning to women.

These 186 people are from that not-so-critical mass which criticises the use of female form in advertisements. They say beauty is only skin deep, it’s the inner beauty that matters most.

They must be kidding? I haven’t seen anybody’s innards, but once I saw somebody’s intestines on a medical programme, I found them pretty slithery.

And let me assure you the heart-shaped hearts you see on I-Love-You cards and hoardings is either a myth or manipulated by lovers. The heart’s diagram in the biology book is pretty yuck, especially in colour.

Ad guys have to use the outer beauty. You must have heard about the First Law of Advertising: Sex sells. So it’s perfectly legal for them to use sex in ads. But the problem comes when prude dudes point out the use of women in ads where they needn’t be.

The first example they invariably offer is that of sexy models in an ad for truck tyres. Well, the dudes miss the point: Many women have tyres around their waist. And if you use those women, it’ll be such a waste of space and paper. So they trim the women, and save trees.

People even used object to the use of female models in promos for shaving kits. But women who shave saved the advertising industry.

Now there’s this objection to images of certain parts of women’s body. Those who are abreast with trends in advertising would notice the standards haven’t gone down yet. All these ads on the boob tube have been focussing on the upper half, so there’s no question of going down or something.

In the cigarette ads I hardly see women smoking. In 90 per cent of ’em, it’s the guy who’s smoking. The girl is just in love with the guy smoking that cigarette. Is it true? Do women love guys who smoke? I’ll go ask my women friends.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

They are thinking so loud

Were it not for the stereo in my car, I would be a singer. I get so much spare time when I am doing nothing. I could do riyaaz in that time. The wise say time is money. I have plenty of time and I need money.

If I had money I would buy a new car stereo, but who would give me a stereo in exchange for the time I spend in my car. Where are you, the wise one?

I leave home at 9.30 am like about a million others in my area. All cars are out on the road at the time I am on the road. The cars fall short of road. And then everybody starts thinking. They think so loud and so together that I can hear it from about two and a half kilometres: “Oh No. Not another jam.”

I can’t sing because the car stereo has no ear for music. Since I have a couple of ears, I let it sing. But damn these people who think all around me. And they think so loud and so together: “My God! I’ll be late again.”

The view of the road ahead as far as I can widen my pupils is a white with little spots of whatever colour you’re thinking. Most cars in India are white. We like our cars white. We have a fascination for whites. The Whites ruled us for a long time. They built most of the roads we used drive on. Now we crawl, whenever I’m going to the office.

And it’s around that time people in the other 13,578 cars on a half-a-kilometre stretch of road shift to neutral, switch the engine off and begin thinking so loud and so together: “Tomorrow, I’m going to take the other route.” A slight sense of movement somewhere far ahead brings all left hands to action, gearshifts to drive and right hand goes for the horn.

Honk! Honk! Honk! The start is a little jerky but by some miracle the cars cross their maximum speed of 6.5 km an hour in six minutes. The stereo sounds nice till all eyes all fall on one Premier Padmini broken down in the middle of the road. Then there is this noise because people start thinking so loud and so together: “This is the one. One (expletives deleted) car conks, and we are late by an hour.”

Everyone slows down to look at the poor breakdown car. And then speed away in second gear. By this time nearly all the cars have clocked as much as three kilometres. It’s not even 11.30 am and I can hear orgasmic sounds from nearly 1,000 cars ahead of me and another 1,500 hundred behind me because they are thinking so loud and so together: “Aah!” I am thinking I would buy another car stereo. I have so much time. I just need money.

Yeh Dil Maange Pesticides

I live in Delhi. People know it. People like my neighbourhood grocery shop owner. When I am looking for soap in the soap & detergent area. “Which soap, paaisaab?” he would ask, but only twice. He’s not stupid to ask for the third time. By now he understands that I would pick up the one with a red triangle on corner with yellow letters saying Soap Case worth 75 paise FREE. And when I do, he has that reassured look on his face that says: Paaisaab not an alien, but from sadda Delhi.

The wonder is that even people in places as far as Mumbai know I am from Delhi. This other time I bought a pack of sugar free gum there, the saleswoman knew I am from Delhi. She smiled and treated me as a guest when I wanted the free sugar. I am not going to tell you the cholesterol-free cooking oil incident.

The other day I bought mineral water from a supermarket. He did not give me the bacteria, though the bottle says it 100%. Anyway, back here in the capital we love the FREE in capital letters. If we buy a car, we get stereo FREE, buy one shoe get the other FREE, buy water, get diseases FREE.

That brings us to the latest news fresh out of a scientific laboratory. Delhi-based Centre for Science & Environment (CSE) has tested 12 major soft drink brands — from soft drinks majors PepsiCo and Coca Cola— and all tested positive for pesticides. According to the CSE, all samples contained a deadly cocktail of four extremely toxic pesticides and insecticides: Lindane, DDT, Malathion and Chloropyrifos.

That was so reassuring for cola-lovers like me. I always felt cheated because if you buy a Coke or Pepsi, you get a Coke or Pepsi. Nothing else. Nothing FREE. Even the bottle is audacious enough to not have that red-triangle-yellow-letters sticker. Now I feel much better. You buy colas and you get pesticides FREE. Not one but a cocktail of four. Cheers.

Here’s more. Farmers across the country are angry at the rising cost of pesticides. While cola prices are going down: 10-8-6-Paanch. Now I understand why one of the cola ads shows a Punjab farmer with cola bottles in his irrigation well. He’s just being smart. I keep it in the fridge and I’m going for one right now! Enjoy!

Foreplay? We spend hours

An alert reader Hikumi (that’s Himanshu Kumar Mishra) called up to correct the Ghost Column’s take on irritating Friendship Day SMS messages. Hikumi pointed out that the Foreplay Day and Orgasm Day were not celebrated worldwide. July 30 was celebrated as National Foreplay Day, a day before the National Orgasm Day, only in Britain.

Well Hikumi, you are right. But you see the point, right? A selective Westernisation by the West? I mean they give us Friendship Day, Teacher’s Day and Neighbour’s Day but keep Neighbour’s Wife’s Day for themselves. Same with Orgasm Day and the day before it.

Some say we are still far too conservative a society to have such explicit days. The implicit message here is that we are stupid. “One fourth of the population is illiterate and you talk about foreplay?” Downright insulting, right?

But don’t lose heart, here’s some good news: The Brits aren’t any better. We, at least, know foreplay is a popular game played before cricket, the only game worth playing. It involves repositioning the sofa, dusting the TV screen and debating Tendulkar’s batting average and Ganguly’s average batting. We are proud to say we spend days on it, and months on the afterplay if we win the match.

Brits don’t even know what foreplay is. A new research, the biggest till date on foreplay, has found that “80 per cent of British men didn’t even know what foreplay is, mistaking it for a sport, a computer game or an item of clothing.” The other 20 per cent, believe it or not, thought it had something to do with sex. How stupid! That’s about 20 per cent illiterate. Same as India.

But even if we believe the experts’ version that it does have something to do with sex, the Brits fail the test.
The research gives some startling facts with potential to be universal truths.

Accountants spent the most time on foreplay, nearly 40 minutes. Not difficult to understand that. Shop assistants as little as two. Not difficult to understand that either. If this is true, a PWD Engineer would take nearly 7-10 years and a doctor less than 10 minutes before saying: Come on Monday. Next?

Jordan, the big-busted model chosen to be the Face of the Foreplay Day, was shocked: “Even I was surprised.” She told “Sex without foreplay is like toast without butter.”

I am sure Jordan would fall in love with the MCD and DDA clerks. They’re into butter and stuff you know. Truth is, they would do without toast, if butter supply were consistent. We Dilliwalas know how much makkhan it takes to make our babus move. Jordan would raise a toast to that.

Hppy Frndshp De

In the village I was born, we woke up to sounds made by birds. I loved birds, especially the rooster which worked as an alarm clock for about some six months in 1983. Then one night, we roasted the alarm clock to a nice dark chocolate brown, bordering on burgundy. It was yum!

Then we used the neighbour's alarm clock, till I woke up to the neighbour's loud belch one morning. It sounded yuck and meant his dinner was yum. Anyway, the alarm clock shifted to the hamlet half a kilometre away. Our dog kept those chicks and roosters limited to their area, lest they should become his lunch.

Then I came to the city and bought a mechanical one. These were really funny alarm clocks. If you set them to 8 am, they would do their trin-trin at 8 pm as bonus. They didn't understand meridian. You could even call the telephone department to wake you up.

Then came the electronic Made-in-Japan versions of the alarm clock, which could wake you up with 138 all-new melodies, all equally irritating. They could also show you what time it is now in Timbuktu. Talking clocks would tell you the same.

Those were the days! These days, one doesn’t need an alarm clock. Since the mobile phones started sharing my pillow, some one or the other gives me a call, saying he/she couldn't get through when he/she tried last night. Hence this early morning call. In my half-asleep baritone, I sing, "I am sleeping." They say: "Sorry, will call ya later."

But sms has killed this exchange of unpleasantries. The person doesn't need to apologise for waking you up. These days I wake up to messages like "Hey whazzup?", "Santa Singh made love to Banta Singh's wife and then…", "Laloo has another child and has named it cellular", “What is Bruce Lee’s chappal size? Scroll Down” and the like. Invariably, around 6.39 am, my phone goes beep-beep with 1 message received.

This Sunday morning, I woke up to Friendship Day messages. Note the plural. All pains in the neck come in plural. Most of the people I didn't know existed forwarded me those stupid messages. I know they were forwarded because every single one said: "Happy Friendship Day To You."

How great! I got friends who remembered me because some stupid friends of theirs remembered them whom some stupid friends of theirs remembered and so on.

By the way, nobody remembers the Orgasm Day, which passed silently just a couple of days ago. A day before that was Foreplay Day, I read in the papers. No one sent a message. Thank God!

There are more days to celebrate than a year has. From Kidney Day to Failed Liver Day to Grey Day, White day, Red Day, Green Day, What-do-you-have Day. There are more emails to reply to. There are more SMS messages to read.
I got to stop now. My phone is beeping. 1 Message received. And it says "HAPPY FRIENDSHIP DAY".

Tired of the bullshit, try cow

The cow is of the bovine ilk; One end is moo, the other milk.
Ogden Nash

Call it a cowlumn if you please but cows are in. And I am going to talk about cows today. A man had died of fright watching Bhoot at Paras Cinema here. So this time, they are playing Darna Mana Hai, which stars about two-dozen Bollywood stars. (Where is the cow in it?—Ed.)

One of them is Vivek Oberoi, who broke his leg in an accident and landed in hospital. He has taken the title Darna Mana Hai seriously (Where is the cow, dammit?—Ed.). He isn't scared of nothing, including Salman Khan, the filmstar known for accidents of emotional, accidental and road types (Bring the cow, this column is digressing!—Ed.).

I don't talk about road accidents in front of my boss. He believes cows play a major role in raising the number of road accidents, especially in Delhi. (That's more like it. Carry on, Kakisi.—Ed.) But cows are important and like any other important animal, they play a major role in all affairs of life.

These are interesting times. Cows are more in news than Aishwarya Rai is. That's right. Rai, who is shooting in London for Gurinder Chaddha's Bride And Prejudice, took a day off to spend about eight hours with her guy Vivek Oberoi, who was nursing his leg in a Mumbai hospital.

On normal times, that would make big news. But when you got gaais, who cares about Rais and Oberois. Cow, the mammal with a mouth to moo and tail to shoo, is the mother of all animals, remember Gaai hamaari maata hai. Moo!

Our own municipal corporation is trying to remove cows from the roads, where cows have their general board meetings and more often midnight sittings. Cars have to make way for them, trucks have to stop. Now municipal corporations across the nation think that's a menace.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh doesn't think so. He saw BJP's Uma Bharti milking votes out of cows and declared the cow a state animal. That's the twist in the tail.

Singh guessed that the discomfort about milking the cow was his Congress party's Achiles Heels. The BJP had been wounding him time and again over his party's stand on cows. You know if-you-worship-cow-you-lose-Muslim-vote-stuff. Now he has got rid of the moral bull and is standing on her four feet. Wounds have gone.

Cow heals. Even cow dung heals.

Ask the students of a school in Jharkhand. Fifteen of them, who were struck by lightning, recovered after villagers covered their bodies with cow dung. Poor boys of government-run Hesalagarha Rajkiya Vidyalaya were in their classrooms when the lightning struck. Holy cow, the principal, Sadarnath Mahato, said and screamed for help when he found 15 of his pupils lying unconscious inside the school hall.

By the time doctors from a primary health centre four km away arrived, villagers had removed the students from the school hall and provided them with first-aid: cow dung. Thirteen of the 15 recovered within a couple of hours. Two recovered after going to the hospital. Moo!

But Digvijay Singh and others of his ilk need to read the basics of bovine behaviour: It's possible to lead a cow upstairs ... but not downstairs.

Bush led Osama to fight Russians and then asked him to come down. He hasn't. Our own Indira Gandhi pushed Bhindranwale up to gore the Akalis. Once up, he didn't come downstairs.

There are examples galore of such mistakes in understanding the cow, but our netas will go to any extent to milk it. And when they get no milk, they will find someone else to milk. This column began with Nash and ends with Samuel Johnson's apt: "Truth, Sir, is a cow, which will yield such people no more milk, and so they are gone to milk the bull." Moo!

Kakisi's Ultimate Fashion Forecast

A friend of mine called from somewhere asking whether Lakme is the most fashionable city in India. I told him it is a cosmetics brand. He thought like Milan Fashion Week, London Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, Lisbon Fashion Week and Rio Fashion Week, India's having it own at somewhere called Lakme.

Well I just made that up. But you get it, right? There's a problem. All other fashion weeks are branded on their host cities, ours on a brand. There's no city — here last year, Mumbai this year, there next year. There where? That's the question. Here is a list of six extra strong contenders, not in that order.

1. CHENNAI: Time fashion goes down, south I mean. And Chennai is so fashion conscious, people get arrested for keeping more sandals, jewellery and kanjeevarams than necessary. Ask Jayalalithaa and she would tell you how a man who wears dark glasses at night couldn't appreciate good taste and deserves to be arrested. But these are good times for fashion, she is in power. The forecast: The Cape will be in, the shape will be out. However round as a shape will not be so out. Sabyasachi will be the toast of the week again because Karunanidhi will not be allowed to showcase his designs. Amen... ahem.... Amma!

2. BANGALORE: This is IT. This is The Place. Krishna Mehta will be out, S.M. Krishna in. And no, SM doesn't mean we will see leather pantyhose and you know what. Instead, he'll showcase his Cauveri collection in watercolors inspired by water and the lack of it. "The've got no water, let them drink lager." Till The King(fisher)dom is ruled by King Mallya, no one shall go thirsty. Manoviraj Khosla will be the only designer at the week. Why? Because the King says so. Khosla will change his style and show off his ready-to-wear with beer slogans lifted from the Internet, because Bangalore means IT. They'll broadcast the show over the Internet, which will be watched by nearly 17 people around the world.

3. PATNA: Now we are talking about the real fashion capital of the world. Someone once said Bihar is the political barometer of India. What happens in Bihar today happens in India tomorrow. But come 2004, Patna will be the sartorial barometer of India. So around midnight on July 24, 2005, people in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore will have hair coming out of their ears. And hands disappearing in their kurta sleeves. Saada people in colourful clothes will change to colourful people in Saadhu clothes. Milk will be in, silk out. Rabri-style ulta pallu will be in, Sushma-style seedha out. You will be really sari if you Misa thing.

4. KOLKATA: The week shall inherit Kolkata. Well, if Rohit Bal can have it in his hometown, why not Sabyasachi. I mean he is young, talented and designs for his milkmaid. He is so interesting he alternates between a riot of colours and a white of colours. Next year, it's riot's turn. He's gonna paint the town red. Because in Bengal, you got no option. No bourgeoisie fashion fiesta this, it will be political, practical and prêt-a-porter. And the porters in Howrah Junction wear red, understand? Full Marx if you do. Y Tu Mamata Tambien (And your Mamata too).

6. LUCKNOW: You could have it in Agra, darn inside the Taj Mahal, but for the Supreme Court and that guy Jagmohan, the venue has to be Taj Residency, Lucknow. The only designer showcasing will be Muzaffar Ali with his chikan collection. Rest of 'em designers would chicken out because Mayawati suspects they are too close to Amar Singh. ("Designers party, Amar Singh parties, Samajwadi Party, arrest them under POTA.") The chief minister would inaugurate the fashion week, and by the time it ends, (it will be the shortest week in the history of fashion, about a couple of hours), she'll deny she ever attended the fashion week and sack the chief secretary.

The leg-breaking story

Actor Vivek Oberoi has fractured his leg while shooting for a Mani Ratnam film in Kolkata yesterday. Beau Ash had fractured her toe in Nashik early this year. Vivek was on his feet all night then as Ash was flown in to Mumbai for bandages.

Her ex Salman had threatened to break Vivek's leg. He had earlier deprived two men of their legs and another of life itself. The one night Salman and Vivek had a phone brawl about a possible a physical fight. Vivek found a leg to stand on here and next day he called a press conference at his home. After some sleepless nights, Salman is back on his legs, up and running around trees and Bhumika Chawla in Tere Naam.

The story apparently is based on Salman's own tragic love story. The promos on TV show no legs of Chawla but shows a medically mad Salman handcuffed, neck-cuffed and of course leg-cuffed. Now sympathy is slowly moving towards Salman from Aishwarya. Everyone's saying poor guy, restless soul, tch tch.

Legs are restless, legs make us walk, everyone walks on legs, including the four-legged ones. The human leg is that portion of the extremity between the foot and the thigh. In quadrupeds, both the hind and fore limbs are referred to as legs, while our forelimbs are called hands.

Then we love legs, especially of people in show business and they return the favour by showing us more of them (legs). Betty Grable didn’t mince words when said: “There are two reasons why I'm in show business, and I'm standing on both of them.”

The longer the legs, the better the business. And no business is like show business, as they say, and as they show. Some people know how to get mileage out of legs without running for miles. Marlene Dietrich was one of them: “Darling, the legs aren't so beautiful, I just know what to do with them,” she is on quote.

And man, she could do that even in the last leg of her career. Women generally have “nice legs” and they walk all over men all the time if they have really nice ones. Men call these beauties leggies… Leggy, Leggy, Dil Le Gayee, Le Gayee.
Nobody talks about men’s legs. Are they ugly? H.G. Wells thought the uglier the better, at least the man can putt it right till the last hole.

“The uglier a man's legs are, the better he plays golf—it's almost a law,” Wells wrote.

For sheep of Animal Farm the more legs, the nicer it is. “Four legs good, two legs bad” was their slogan. In fact, the first two of Snowball’ Seven Commandments were: 1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy. 2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.

A guruji promoting brahmcharya believes the trouble is not in the length, breadth, number or diameter of ones’s legs. It lies between our legs. The football coach agrees: "Often the most vulnerable area for goalies is between their legs..." But a forward guy always has new legs up his sleeve.

This is so confusing, my legs jerk everytime I think about them. They jerk when I lie down thinking about all those long-legged beauties on the ramp. I have this sensation in my legs, like some eight-legged freaks are crawling up. And with a stunning juerk, I'm awake. This is called Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). Eight percent of humanity has RLS, though few know it. It's a genetic, and can be medically controlled, if not cured.