Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The hand that became a legend

YouTube grabs of that patriotic Kranti song featuring Bharat Kumar and Hema Malini. Manoj Kumar should sue YouTube because the song is tagged “hindi sexy song kranti”. This YouTube generation, we tell you! No respect, huh? It’s unpatriotic to show Bharat in bad light. The great actor’s contribution to the filmi duniya is
unforgettable. So is his hand. The hand that became a legend. All legally!

Seventies actor Manoj Kumar, who was lovingly called Bharat Kumar for his patriotic films, is furious because ruling superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s film Om Shanti Om pokes fun at him. Part of OSO is based in the Seventies’ Bollywood and takes pot shots at leading men and women of those times. The latter half of the film, based on contemporary Bollywood, pokes fun at present day stars and directors. That no one has taken offence is a healthy sign that we have a pretty good sense of humour. That Manoj Kumar has imploded with indignation shows some people still have skin so thin that a simple finger’s poke may hurt their bone. And you can be sure it won’t be the funny bone, and not having one is legal by the way.
Manoj Kumar is righteously agitated about two scenes: In a 70’s scene in OSO, his young double is beaten by police outside a theatre when he lands up for a premiere. Second, Shah Rukh Khan is shown giving a mock thank you speech in a drunken state and claims to be Manoj Kumar.
“The people of the country gave me the love and mandate to represent the country. I was Bharat and they have insulted Bharat by insulting me,” said Manoj Kumar. Ladies and Gentleman, we can now safely declare Dev Anand as the second runner up in the All-India Vanity Actors Megalomania contest. Manoj Kumar wins hands down. And dear policemen, don’t beat him when he comes to accept the award. It’s criminal to forget that hand — both sides. Not recognising his face, however, is perfectly understandable.
His last successful outing was in Kranti about 33 years ago. Most of us were not born then. Those who were could never be sure what he looked like. Half of his onscreen scenes didn’t show his face and the other half showed only half the face. His hands were handy. When not covered, his eyelids rested with calm as he sleepwalked through the film.
On November 16, 2007, Indians saw Manoj Kumar on TV, his eyes half opening for decent spans of time. He was genuinely hurt: “I am hurt. Shah Rukh Khan has injured my soul. It’s a conspiracy to humiliate and ridicule me. My devotion to filmdom for the last 50 years has been insulted.”
He is right about the devotion part. Harikishen Goswami loved films so much that he changed his name to Manoj Kumar, the character Dilip Kumar played in Shabnam. Later, he became probably the world’s only film actor who didn’t have to face the camera. He preferred to look away. The great actor could bring to life the big hamster who thought he could be an ostrich. “If I do not see the audience, the audience will not see how much the hamster hammed.” Besides the pieces of furniture could emote enough to ignite the fire of patriotism. Manoj Kumar was very entertaining. His films were so patriotic that they were idiotic when not jingoistic, but he was patriotic nevertheless. Then he started believing he was Bharat, who believed patronising is derived from the word patriotism. It was Bharat who taught us the value of Indian culture. His films ridiculed women who wore skirts or smoked or god forbid drank. The Bharatiya Nari must wear a sari and it is impossible to shame the skin-showing culture without shamelessly showing skin.
Those who have seen Kranti will not forget the sheer power of patriotism with the lead actors chained and being tortured on a ship on a very rainy day with the high seas as the background score for the chained melody of Zindagi ki na tute ladii, pyaar kar le ghadi do ghadi. Hema Malini lied on her stomach, hands tied to her back, torrid rain splashing her backless choli, her legs exposed, her bosom pressed on the soggy deck to invent a cleavage that would eclipse her struggle to lipsync Lata Mangeshkar. Bharat of course could be of no help. The script had literally tied Manoj Kumar’s hands, just like Hema’s. It didn’t look vulgar at all. Raj Kapoor wrapped his skin show in lovely layers of spirituality. It was Manoj Kumar who discovered the paper of patriotism, before he joined the BJP, who ditched Bharat for India, pardon, India Shining.
He was the Ambassador of Bharatiya Sanskriti. The new Indians have no respect for the Ambassadors parked in the backyard. Farah Khan prefers the gleaming new Merc SRK just gifted her. It’s time Bharat Kumar sued her for not poking fun at the goras, the West and their culture and blaming them for all that is evil. Bharat Kumar will not tolerate Indians laughing at Indians. Laughing at the great Indian hand is completely unacceptable.
By evening, both Farah and Shah Rukh had apologised to the legend. But apology is not enough. They will have to make a film to compensate us. How’s Mera Bharat Mahan for a title, Shah Rukh?

Monday, November 05, 2007

Da Vinci Koda

Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda has said that there was no threat to his coalition government because of the slip of the tongue during his speech on Indira Gandhi’s death anniversary.
“It was a slip of tongue. I know it was the birth anniversary of Indiraji. How can one imagine that the Prime Minister would forget such a basic thing about the President of India,” he asked.
He said the UPA led by Mr Narendra Modi at the Centre was firmly behind him and Home Minister Nitish Kumar has assured him that his Karnataka Kranti Dal will not pull out of his government in West Bengal.
He said Congress workers in Orissa were making a big deal about his slip of the tongue. “I hold Jawaharlal Nehru in high regard and I look forward to work with him for the uplift of the tribal people of Delhi.”
He said Nehru is carrying on Sonia’s philosophy of Garibi Hatao and he and his party will support the projects launched by Prime Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Speaking to reporters in Ranchi, he said his party was organising a big anti-poverty rally at the national capital Jamshedpur.
“I have invited the Maoists, the Naxalites and other peace-loving outfits to the rally, because we want to send a signal that non-violent parties must come together to take on the spreading problems of malaria and other such stomach ailments,” he said in the press conference. DMK supremo Bal Thackeray has also agreed to participate in the rally, he added.
Koda said he was inspired by India’s freedom movement, especially the way Rahul Gandhi led the Quit India movement in 1957. “Priyanka Gandhi’s fight against the British will always be the leading light for my government and the Gandhi family’s ultimate sacrifices, time and again, reminded us of the unfinished national agenda: toothbrush with criss-cross bristles for every kitchen.”

Musharraf was a failure, says Musharraf

Pakistani Army chief General Pervez Musharraf has objected to the criticism of his second coup saying the political opposition had no locus standi to oppose his move. “When I executed my first coup in 1999, there was outrage but there was also a justification for that outrage. I had ejected the elected government of Mr Nawaz Sharif. And it was understandable that his party would be hurt. But this time the Army General has snatched power from President Pervez Musharraf and if anybody has the right to go to the streets screaming in protest, it’s Pervez Musharraf, not Benazir Bhutto or Nawaz Sharif.,” General Musharraf said in a candid interview that never happened.
He said President Musharraf’s government had failed on multiple counts in the last five years and had no right to stay in power. “The government had failed on all fronts. Musharraf was unfit to rule. Terrorists put up a show like Lal Masjid right in the heart of Islamabad and international media started calling Pakistan the most dangerous country in the world. President Musharraf sirf baatein banana jaanta tha and the Islamic republic was becoming a banana republic. My inner voice, which sounds exactly like Abraham Lincoln, said I had to take control of the country,” General Musharraf said.
“Lincoln said ‘clothes maketh a man’. You become what you wear. President Musharraf had become a soft civilian like his soft achkan. Pakistan deserves a strong leader, so I, General Musharraf, had to step in. I believe in democracy but it has to like me and be like me. President Musharraf had his fingers crossed as he hoped for the Supreme Court’s approval of his election. While General Musharraf ordered his own Supreme Court and then ordered it to approve everything overnight, you understand,” he told us.
When told that Abraham Lincoln had nothing to do with the quote “clothes maketh a man”, the general said it doesn’t matter what coat Lincoln wore. “What’s important is what Pakistan’s ruler wears. He must feel he is in fatigues, even when in a Jinnah jacket.”
“Lincoln and my inner voice said: ‘By general law life and limb must be protected; yet often a limb must be amputated to save a life.’ I amputated the president to save the general. By 15th of November, the general was supposed to shed his uniform. Inaction at this moment was suicide for the general and I could allow him to commit suicide. So I let the President go to hell.”
When we asked whether we could speak to President Pervez Musharraf and not General Musharraf for his reaction, the Army chief said: “All politicians are under house arrest. And no politician, and that includes Pervez Musharraf, is allowed to speak to the media.”

Monday, September 17, 2007

That time of the less-than-five-year term

It’s a certainty now. India will have mid-term elections, at a time convenient to either the Congress or the Left parties or both. The rhetorical warfare over Indo-US nuclear deal is downscaled for the moment because the partners can’t decide when to end the marriage. Newspaper columnists and TV analysts have started speculating about the possible dates and started attributing every event to the impending election. So here’s our two-bit contribution to the attribution game.

1. Rahul Dravid Quits

Why didn’t he quit after the pathetic show in the Caribbean as India couldn’t make it to the semis of World Cup cricket? Why did he quit after an honourable campaign in England. Because the central government is unstable and elections are around the corner. Sharad Pawar, the Boss for Control of Cricket in India, stands to gain if Sachin Tendulkar becomes the captain. The Union minister for agriculture hasn’t done much for agriculture in his home state where farmer suicides are as regular as death on Delhi roads. He can however claim success, in his capacity as the BCCI president. Giving the state the captaincy of the Indian team. If the poor ain’t got bread, let them have cake.

2. PM’s Prostate Operation

By the time you read this, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would have come out of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences after a weekend trip. He got his prostate operated upon. He’s doing fine. He was doing fine even before the operation. Election campaigns can take a toll on even the healthiest of individuals. A bad prostate can only worsen that. AIIMS doctors have ensured he has a healthy prostrate and opinion polls say the party’s prospects are healthier than ever in a decade. Besides, you never know how much care the resident doctors give you, if you are just a former Prime Minister. The Prime Minister obviously gets the A-category care.

Ma’am lets us play Bridge
Congress leaders, even the most senior ones, are so eager to please their leader that they often forget to ask her whether what they are doing would please her. Hans Raj Bhardwaj presumes not pursuing Q may please ma’am and ends up embarrassing her. Mrs Gandhi, however, has tried to show that sycophancy may not take the lickers far. Loyalty is rewarded and encouraged, which is not such a bad thing, so H.R. Bhardwaj and the like survive. Now, the ministries of Bhardwaj and Soni put the government in an embarrassing situation by going where no Indian politician had gone before: rubbishing Ram as myth. Mrs G was quick in damage control. She is especially vulnerable in matters of religion because she was born a Christian and the Prime Minister is Sikh. The affidavit issue, if she had let it linger, had the potential to revive the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Mandir issue is dead, because there’s a mandir now, even if is a makeshift one. The BJP has no unique economic agenda, as economic liberalisation continues on its path.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Isn't it iron-ic?

Ram Gopal Varma's Aag is threatening to burn the silverscreen. There's no final word on whether Ramu has retained the dialogue Loha lohe ko kaatata hai (It takes iron to cut iron). Thakur Baldev Singh says that line as he sets a couple of thieves to catch Gabbar Singh son of Hari Singh son of Dashrath Singh. Singh vs Singh. In general political discourse, this wisdom is not just uttered but also used to perfection. It's called level-playing field.

We often hear it in the reservation debate. We see it when a bahubali (muscleman) is pitted against another in elections. When in doubt, level it out.

What else explains this coincidence that all three candidates for the post of Vice-president are Muslims? We have just installed our first woman President. Apart from the bitterness and mud-slinging, the contest between Pratibha Patil and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat would also be remembered for another fact: both were Shekhawat Rajputs. The UPA chose a Shekhawat to beat a Shekhawat. They offered various reasons, and there indeed were various reasons. The least spoken was that BJP's Bhairon Singh Shekhawat could demand caste loyalty from Rajput MPs and MLAs from all parties. Caste cuts across political lines. Pratibha Patil Shekhawat neutralised that possibility.

That bitter battle is over. We have a new vice-president to choose. The third front or UNPA put up Rashid Masood, a man of clean credentials, as its candidate. Both the ruling front (UPA) and the main Opposition (NDA) put up similarly accomplished candidates — Hamid Ansari and Najma Heptullah. No matter who wins the race, we will have a competent vice-president. Thank God for these mercies. It's also a heartening certainty that our next vice-president will be from India's biggest minority community. So far, so good.

What should trouble us is the crooked political judgment being delivered in hushed tones, "if we put up a candidate from another community, choosing one over the other would become a problem and it will lead to controversies." Some have to stay decidedly pro-Muslim and some others cannot afford to be. When the fight is among Muslims, the political class doesn't have to deal with a self-inflicted dilemma.

As I write this, BJP's Sushma Swaraj is calling for efforts from party men to dispel the "myth" that hers was an anti-minority party. The BJP, after all, has put up a minority candidate. In the same breath, she adds, Heptullah's candidature had nothing to do with her religion. It better not be so. Making her religion her USP is an insult to a person who, as its vice-chairperson has run Rajya Sabha for 17 years, and is now contesting for the chair.

There are few takers for either of Ms Swaraj's statements: that the BJP is not anti-minority and that Heptullah's nomination has nothing to do with her religion. So far, so bad.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Rubber vibrating with anger at Vijayavargiya

India’s most controversial condom, Crezendo the Vibrator is furious after being labelled a sex toy by the Madhya Pradesh government. It said that the government is confusing business with pleasure and that it is anti-climax.

“Our politicians say sex is only for procreation and not for recreation. At the rate Indians copulate, imagine the country’s population. Every Indian will want to beat Lalu Yadav, though only Lalu Yadav would be the railway minister,” the scorned vibrating rubber told a press conference.Crezendo also chastised newspapers for publishing Madhya Pradesh minister Kailash Vijayavargia’s statement in which he had lambasted the vibrating condom for diverting the society from the pious path.

Talking to this reporter, Vijayavargiya had said the sale of vibrating condoms in the state violated certain principles.” Vijayavargiya said, “Vibrating condom is no condom. The company which has launched the product is promoting it as a sex toy. And no government should allow sale of sex toys.”

Crezendo ridiculed his “Vibrating condom is no condom” statement saying it’s like saying Kailash Vijayavargiya is no Vijayvargiya.Taking Vijayavargiya head on, Crezendo said people like him are still living in the Stone Age, when wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am-and-now-I-go-off-to-my- own-cave was the norm.

“If people don’t need a vibrating condom, Hindustan Latex will take me off the shelves. It’s not the men who seek me. They would rather do without any condom, they are so stupid. It’s the ladies who seek me. I am just meeting their needs. I am not here to be a toy and I object to such classification by the honourable minister. Dildo is a toy and it has been here for long and illegally so. I can’t replace it.”

He pointed out that the minister was ignorant of the state’s rich heritage. “This is the land of Khajuraho. The images in Khajuraho are kinkier than the tiny vibrations in my ring. A little vibration is better than no vibration any day.” He however did not comment on whether any minister has ever used one. “I would rather not get into controversial things,” Crezendo said.

Sautela will be the next President of India

New Delhi, June 20, 2062: A humble farmer from Pratappur Gangadhar Sautela is on his way to become the President of the republic. Last night, he received a telephone call from Ms Ramnik Gandhi, president of the party leading the ruling coalition at the Centre.In Indian democratic tradition over the last fifty years, the highest officer of the country is elected on the basis of a phone call. For the last three days, many politicians, governors, former governors were not taking any calls other than the high command, which never came to them.

“Two senior politicians — Saratkumar Ganda and Lalaram Sauda — suffered cardiac arrest when they received a call from a Delhi number. Just the STD code 011 gave them the hope that it was the call to become President,” a government spokesperson said. However, the real call went to Sautela. He denied reports that one politician did not go to the bathroom for three days and died because of gastro complications.

“These days even the rickshaw-puller has a mobile phone, which can be taken anywhere. These stories are baseless,” he said.Sautela’s name came up after the coalition could not find a person all the partners agreed upon.

The 23-party coalition has varied parties from both Leftist and Rightist ideologies. Every name that was suggested was rejected by one party or the other. Since India has had Muslim, women, Sikh and other token Presidents, Kisan Dal President suggested that it was time a farmer became President. But most politicians claimed they were of farmer origins since Amitabh Bachchan declared himself a farmer. The political crisis however ended when Prime Minister Sadhan Singh suggested Gangadhar Sautela’s name. The Prime Minister however did not disclose how he came up with the name. Later in the evening, Congress Party President Ramanik Gandhi called up Sautela, who was relieving himself in the fields not far from his home in Pratappur. Sautela’s son rushed to him with the phone. “I immediately accepted the high command’s command. I am a loyal soldier of the party,” Sautela told us over the phone from Pratappur.

“I will fight for the right of farmers and also the left of the farmers, because I believe in taking everybody along.”Sautela used to be an active member of the party till 2048, when he decided to concentrate on his two-bigha plot in Pratappur. He is said to be dejected by the way the party had treated him, forcing early retirement on him. But now his struggle has paid off, when he’d given up hope.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Shivraj Patil is the best choice for President

The Race for Rashtrapati Bhavan is nearing finish. We will soon have a winner. And we already have the biggest loser: the selection process. It has nothing to do with the present government; it’s been a gradual decline since Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed left office in 1977.

“May the Best Player Win” is alien to our political system, where caste, creed, region, religion and loyalties count more than how good a player you are.

In spite of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s qualifications, grace and popularity as president, the political class is near-unanimous that he will not get a second term. After Kalam who? A lot of names were given as the possible answer to the question and then suddenly something happened. That something may turn out to be a blessing disguised in a well-tailored bandhgala. Ladies and gentleman, the frontrunner for the president’s post, is Shivraj Patil, the most well-dressed, suave and gentlemanly politician of our times.

And here’s why he is a blessing in disguise. If he becomes India’s President, the Union will finally have a home minister. Patil was never quite at home handling home affairs. His term started with a conflict that engulfed large parts of Manipur. The man sat in North Block for months as Manipur burned. He followed that up with the luckless lifting of the ban on People’s War in Andhra Pradesh. He had no followup strategy. The Maoists rearmed and regrouped as central and state governments waited for peace to drop from the sky. That ceasefire was soon in tatters. We are yet to see the government-Maoist talks. Today, Mao’s ideological progeny run a Red corridor from Nepal to Tamil Nadu.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had begun with two boulders tied to his feet. With Shivraj Patil’s exit, he can think of sprinting. Well, almost. The other, Kunwar Natwar Singh, ejected himself not so long ago. Singh was foreign minister material for the 1960s and even the 70s. But, alas, it was Century No. 21 and he refused to come out of the time warp. So he began with a madcap scheme to revive the Non-Aligned Movement, followed it up with a series of foot-in-mouth mishaps, and ended up as food for the oil-for-food scandal. Last heard, he was unsuccessfully campaigning for Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Mr Patil, however, is free from the diseases afflicting Natwar. He rarely opened his mouth and when he did he made sure the pedicure wasn’t spoilt. He found three starched suits in a day more hospitable than the metaphorical time warp. He understood the virtues of loyalty to the leader. After all, these qualities had won him the home minister’s chair, even after losing his Lok Sabha seat. The same qualities make him the President probable. With the threat of a hung House post-2009 general election, the ruling coalition would need a pliable President.

The only obstacle in Mr Patil’s way to Rashtrapati Bhavan is that he’s not the unanimous choice yet. Pranab Mukherjee is the unanimous choice, but Congress President Sonia Gandhi has rightly told him to withdraw from the race. Both the party and the government could use him and his political and administrative skills. The President’s post is largely ceremonial. There’s no man better suited for ceremonial duties than Mr Shivraj Patil.

North India cut off; Cows threaten to launch their own moovement

Protesters from a bovine group demanding special privileges blocked roads and damaged railway tracks across north India, stranding thousands on the fifth day of protest that has killed 23 cattle.

Violence erupted across the cow belt after buffaloes began demanding they be declared cows, which entitles them to temple jobs, respect in the society and a shield against slaughter. Many states in India have laws against cow-slaughter, while buffaloes are slaughtered for their meat, popularly called buff or bada.

The demand has been opposed by cows, who fear they will lose their own identity and of course the privileges, leading to violent clashes between the two bovine communities. Road traffic on National Highway 2 to Kolkata remained disrupted for the fifth day on Thursday.

On Wednesday, a buffalo mob stood on the railway tracks between Unnao and Kanpur, throwing train services out of gear. “Services of about 25 trains have been affected,” B.P. Pandey, a railway official, said in New Delhi. “Our engineers have reached the spot, but the buffaloes are not allowing them to restore the tracks.”

Foreign tourists, coming to Delhi from Varanasi, are stuck in a village, with little to eat. They fear the big, horned buffaloes but are also amused. “Whenever we read about India or watched a film based on India, we saw cows obstructing traffic on the road. I always wanted to see how you guys manage. But this is more than I ever imagined. Buffaloes on railway track, thousands of them blocking it for three days! This is amazing,” Steve, an American tourist, told our reporter before he asked him to share his (reporter’s) sandwich.

Some people tried to trek to the nearest road, but that too has been jammed for almost a week. The state has come to a standstill.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed for calm in UP and neighbouring Bihar states yesterday, urging all animals to desist from violence. He said the animal parliament would discuss the issue once the state’s animal government sends a proposal to it.

“Just leave us humans out of it. Do not make them suffer,” he appealed.

Earlier in the day, the prime minister met leaders of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, who support cows in this battle against buffaloes. Senior BJP leaders also held a meeting at the residence of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to discuss the crisis in the cow belt. They asked UP Animal Husbandry Minister Murli Manohar Sharma to participate in the talks with the buffaloes.

A senior BJP leader said: “Sharma seems to be caught in a Catch-22 situation as appeasing the buffaloes will upset the cows who are stoutly opposed to their demand to be included in an affirmative action plan which will give them access to the benefits of being a cow.”
Buffalo Bachao Andolan chief B.D. Bhains Lala had earlier rejected any talks with the BJP government saying he did not expect justice from this government. “They made a false promise to us. We voted for them. But now they are showing their true colours. Their leaders are named after cow-supporters. Lal Krishna, Atal Behari, Murli Manohar... even Manmohan, for that matter... All are different names of the same person, the Mathura leader Krishna, who is responsible for giving cows special status.”

Cows have also given an ultimatum to the human government that if the government failed to remove the roadblock and control violence by buffaloes they will hit the street to take on buffaloes. Social and political organisations of the cows have expressed their strong resentment over the buffaloes’ forceful entry into their pens and targeting cows during the ongoing agitation.
Meanwhile, experts said buffaloes must realise that they cannot force their entry into the special status category. “If you are born a buffalo, you are born a buffalo. One cannot change one’s caste. Tomorrow, if a dog demands special status, should the government listen to its barking,” asked Ghoda Lala Rukh, a progressive thinker horse.

“That horse is talking udder nonsense. Dog is canine. Buffaloes and cows are both bovine. Man drinks milk from the udders of both. Buffaloes are just dark in complexion. Should we discriminate on the basis of colour? Are we living in colonised Africa? We have better habits. Cows will eat anything. We are discerning eaters; you will never spot a buffalo scrounging for food in a waste-bin. We bathe almost daily. And our milk is supposed to be better. In spite of all this, cows get all the attention. This will not be tolerated any longer,” B.D. Bhains Lala retorted.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Stop this warming nonsense: Mother Nature

Tired of recent spate of cover stories in newsmagazines and TV debates whether the she was heating up, Nature decided to clear the air over the latest scare to hit the world. She spoke to us in this Interview That Never Happened.

Mother Nature, welcome to Delhi and Welcome to The Interview That Never Happened.
Stop calling me Mother! You make me sound like Mother Teresa. She was a good woman. I am both good and wicked. I may be thousands of years old by earth standards, but in our universe I am pretty young. Just call me Nature, or Miss Nature, if you please.

We hear you are warming up. And we are worried, very worried.
You think I am Rakhi Sawant or what? You know up here when we hear about global warming and the things you are doing to cool it down, we have a laugh. A big one! You guys are such a racket. You know we haven’t had such a hilarious time since 1970s, when you guys were talking of global cooling. You guys are a scam.

So you were cooling off then, huh?
Arre nahin… I am what I am and I do what I do. It’s you guys who sometimes claim the arctic ice is melting and, at other times, the earth is freezing. We remember the big scare of the Seventies: Another Ice Age is coming… We, upstairs in our celestial Cabinets, were like hey? That’s news to us! Some of you still believe that. Just a couple of years ago, you had a big hit called Day After Tomorrow, where you showed Snow-covered Connaught Place… you jokers like even your nightmares in 70mm…

Now we have an Al Gore movie called An Inconvenient Truth
Yes. He used to be the next President of the United States. He’s gone nuts and you all are going nuts with him. Look, Al Gore also thought he would be the next President. What happened to that? He thinks he can save the world… he can’t save his campaign for God’s sake.

Are you warming up or not because climate experts down here say you are…?
Oh shut up. Who are these climate experts? You can’t predict whether it’ll rain tomorrow and you talking about experts. You Delhi chaps have no idea about me, except some western disturbances, that you flog all the time. Let me tell you the real inconvenient truth. I am a living being and I warm up and cool down, just like you do. And there’s not much you can do about my warming up or cooling down. So stop pretending you are some big shit. Because you are not! And by the way, it’s not some scientist, it’s your supercomputers that arrive at a number and you guys go ohmygosh over it. Truth is I am nature and computer is all artificial. You get me, right?

So you frequently warm up and cool down?
Not so frequently. But I did warm up pretty nice between 800 to 1200 AD, compared to that this is nothing. Before that when I reached climatic optimum between 5000-3000 BC, you guys came into being. If I hadn’t warmed up, it would have been just ice all over. If you have seen the movie Ice Age, you know what I am saying. I warmed up so that you guys can live and prosper. Now my warming up has become a threat to you, huh?

So we can still drive our cars and not worry about greenhouse emissions?
Exactly! Your emissions are minuscule if you look at it from the universal headquarters where I stay. Earth is like a little planet and to spot you guys from there we use telescope the size of earth, honestly. By the way do your climatologists tell you that you are alive because of the greenhouse gases, something you so readily vilify today. You know the water vapour in the atmosphere is the king of greenhouse effect. And without it, you will have no rain.

What about Mumbai, will it go under the sea?
When it does, can you stop it? Just joking. No, it won’t. Even if I warm up really badly, the sea levels won’t rise so much that it’ll drown Mumbai. Of course, Al Gore and newsmagazines, NGOs funded by Leftist Greens and research funded by atomic and wind power companies will tell you that the sea level will rise some 20 ft by 2050. If my memory serves me right you guys have been talking about it for 50 years, nothing has changed.

No, things have changed, ma’am. Our atmosphere is so polluted now…
That’s your problem. I am not saying go out and pollute. But if you reduce pollution, do it for yourself. Don’t start talking about saving the earth, you little bacteria. Don’t mind me calling you bacteria, but like you have crores of bacteria on your palm, there are crores of you on my body here and there. So don’t pretend saving me when you are trying to save your own sorry ass. Stop being hysterical and moronic.

So when are we having a cyclone next?
That’s what I am all about, boy. I am Nature. I am mysterious. And a lady must have some mysteries, secrets in her looks, cyclones whirling in her heart. That’s what makes life interesting. But let me assure you that you guys are safe. I have protected you for thousands of years and I am not going to wipe you out in the next 50. I am pretty fond of the little things you created. We like you because you are creative. But I will always have some secrets. Some surprises, and some times slaps, but I am not gonna kill my cuties, not in the next thousand years.

So when is the next slap coming?
When the next earthquake hits you… you live in a sensitive seismic zone. On second thoughts I do wanna slap some one literally. One Tight Slap to that fattie, Al Gore, for scaring the world.

So you are warming or not, I come back to the question.
Yes I am. And it’s my personal thing. Chill, I will cool down again.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Thakur will stay his caste course

NEW DELHI: Union Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh, like his idols US President George Bush, minister colleague Pyaar Dasmunshi and partybee Lindsay Lohan, is determined to stay the course. And he doesn’t need a poodle to back him in his war on error-ism. He will not rest until the errors of the past are corrected. A lot of people had enjoyed the fruits of wealth and health at the cost of those people who belonged to the lower castes in the Indian caste system. Mr Singh has always believed it was time those caste errors were corrected. Correcting religious errors will still be the responsibility of the BJP and its allies and various Muslim leagues.
He has repeatedly said that his ministry would find ways to circumvent the Supreme Court stay on reservations in IITs, IIMs other institutions of higher learning. While the country has moved forward quite a lot since 1931, he has decided to not budge from his position. In 1931, most of India was backward and he was royalty.
The Thakur was just a year old when the last caste census was done, which determined 52 per cent of Indians were backward castes but not as backward as dalits. They were called the other backward castes. The Supreme Court wants a new census. But Mr Singh believes it is 1931.
"He needs to be remembered for his contribution to the Indian society. Everything else is temporary. You can build an institution in this country, but in some years, the institution goes down the drain. On the other hand, reservation is permanent. It never fades away," said political analyst Ganganath Ganguly, pointing out that reservation for Scheduled Castes and Tribes was also meant to be reviewed every 10 years. "This way he seeks to eternalise his legacy, just like the caste system. Centuries of progress but the system stays."
Many in the Youth for Equality campaign, who opposed his war on error-ism when it began a couple of years ago have grown increasingly impatient with its progress, fearing that our country is stuck between a rock and a soft place.
"What’s there to choose between reservation and superior caste status," asked one survey correspondent. "We ought to admit that going without these jobs is actually making the world less competitive. We should be cutting our competition, not our caste lines."
But does his popularity among the Youth for Equality bother him? According to the latest CDAC/D-FORE/CDSS poll, Youth for Equality’s support for Singh’s war on error-ism is at an all-time high, five per cent.
"Thakur Arjun Singh is his own person," said his cook, Anmolbabu Chandrahaas. "Arjun Singh ji is not going to abandon his principles just because they might be popular at the moment."
Chandrahaas may not be so far from the truth. Arjun Singh is his own person, since he declared independence. It was on the day he joined the Cabinet of his junior political colleague, Manmohan Singh. His mind and then the body followed him by declaring their independence. According to experts, his body doesn’t follow him, so he works out of home. His mind likes the out-of-body experience. When asked about the war on error-ism, his mind says: To err is human, to forgive divine but it takes Arjun Singh or Bajrang Dal to attempt correcting errors made by humans, thousands or hundreds of years ago as the case may be.
— Postcards from the Pug Pus, with due apologies to Postcards from the Pug Bus

Sachin’s bat announces retirement

Port-of-Spain: Sachin Tendulkar’s bat has announced its retirement from active cricket, following similar announcement by bats of M.S. Dhoni, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag. Cricket world was aflutter with speculation that Sourav’s bat might do the same, for a second time. Since most cricketers tell reporters that "my bat will do the talking", their bats finally did some talking on Tuesday, hours before the Indian team left the Caribbean.

Sachin’s bat said it was ashamed to have let down a billion people and blasted the master blaster for not putting him to good use. "A bat is just a piece of willow, if you ain’t got balls. And I am sorry to say, he had none in the last game that we handed over to Sri Lanka. I mean the first sign of a ball hits my inside edge. How pathetic is that!" he told a crowded press conference, outside Queen’s Park Oval in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.

The bat has decided to stay back in Trinidad. "I will be here enjoying the sun and the sands. I got no restaurants to run and no commercials to make. I am sure the stickers that I am pasted with will come off after this shameful defeat."

Dhoni’s bat said its career was ending prematurely, but denied any role in the premature capitulation by Dhoni. "It was his and only his fault. It doesn’t matter how big a rope you got unless you know how to dangle it. This guy can’t delay gratification. It’s such a teenage thing, you know. You are all macho, with long hair and stuff. And how long do you last in the crease? One minute? Enough is enough."

Dravid’s bat denied any rift with the player and said the separation was mutual. "He can continue pretending it’s all okay, but I am retiring. I mean he’s good, make that the best, when it comes to staying on. And I am like hello, don’t just lie still there. You gotta score some... and then once you challenge his ego, he’ll start those crazy shots. And you know he’s gonna out himself any moment. You saw it with Sri Lanka. He was fine and in fact I loved him for all those slow moves, but then he decides to pretend he’s Dhoni, which he is not. And look what happens to him? Whatever happened to Dhoni, that is," Dravid’s bat said.

Indian cricket found dead

Port-of-Spain: Indian Cricket was murdered, Trinidad police confirmed last night. Postmortem results showed the 74-year-old former World Cup winner’s body had injuries caused by a blunt object.Trinidad Police Commissioner Lushious Thomas said: “The official report from the pathologist states that Indian Cricket’s death was due to ante-mortem injuries. In these circumstances, the matter of his death is now being treated as murder.”

Indian Cricket was found dead in Queen’s Pak Oval in this Trinidad town in a pool of vomit with froth and blood around its mouth.

Deputy Police Commissioner Dark Fields said there could have been more than one killer. Mr Fields said: “It would take some significant force to subdue Indian Cricket, because it was a formidable force. But at this stage we do not know how many people were actually involved in the crime. It could be one or more people involved in this murder.”

“Everyone is a suspect,” Fields said, “including Captain Rahul Dravid and his team.” The entire Indian team and guests at the hotel were being fingerprinted. Murder detectives are scouring hours of TV footage.

Video footage shows India’s star batsman Sachin Tendulkar hitting Indian Cricket with the inside edge of his bat, which can be fatal. Even Dravid and coach Chappel, who had seen its condition deteriorate, and didn’t do enough to save him, are under suspicion.”

Indian cricket officials say it may have died because of heart-related complications. The game had suffered a heart attack after some Bangladeshi teenagers had thrashed it a week before its death. This was followed by another assault by a gang of Sri Lankans.

The postmortem showed that Indian cricket had a fracture in its heart and a deep gnash on its ego. A senior police source said: “It could also have been caused by a sharp blow, like one from the inside edge of a bat. It is still unclear how the ego was so hurt.” He, however, did not name Tendulkar.

Police at first believed the 1983 former World Cup winner may have committed suicide following the team’s shock defeat. The Indian cricket team has been allowed to leave for India, provided they cooperate with the investigation.Police at first believed the 1983 former World Cup winner may have committed suicide following its team’s shock defeat.

Monday, March 19, 2007

And Man Created God... then God Frustrated Man

“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.” —Steven Weinberg

Die Religion ... ist das Opium des Volkes. Marx called it opium, which helps people forget the suffering. Marx was not right (pun intended), and religion may not be all that bad. I am a religious person, though I do not consider myself belonging to a particular religion. I take part in rituals but I cannot claim to have any great faith in them. It’s just part of the greater game called life. I go to temples as and when I feel like it. I visit gurdwaras, dargahs and churches with the same devotion. I am religious about the upkeep of my home cinema, receivers and speakers. I am religious about many things at work. I wish I wasn’t. Being religious can bring a lot of joy in life.

And pain.
What happened last night in Port-of-Spain caused a lot of pain here in our homes and hearts. Most people I know had their TV sets on, eyes fixed on the screen and a prayer on their lips. Dravid and his 10 dwarfs were so consistent in their performance, nobody had a heart attack. Thank God for small mercies.

We call cricket a religion and religion does make you blind. We demolish mosques, shed blood, burn people alive in the name of religion. Since the cricketers were out of our reach, some of us burnt their posters, spat on their mugs and garlanded Chappell with chappals. Just the other day, they were tigers roaring to go. MetroNow frontpaged a story headlined There Is Only One God, next to Sachin Tendulkar’s photograph. It’s true. He is God to the followers of the religion called cricket. We worship him and his friends. The problem is Gods aren’t supposed to fail. So when Sachin failed, self-declared statisticians tossed figures from the past showing how the master blaster has never won us a match, how Sehwag is a disaster, how Dravid is a failed captain, how Sourav could have saved the day, why Dhoni should play at no. 3 and why the paanwaala should be the president of the BCCI.“How can we lose to Bangladesh?”

This question started criss-crossing phone lines and airwaves since 2.30 on Sunday morning. No one bothered to say even hello before going off like a bomb: “Shameful.” Eleven people losing the country’s izzat on a foreign field! In a few hours, a billion best wishes had turned into a billion abuses.

A country desperate for heroes had put all its ego... err... eggs in one basket and sent them to hatch in the Caribbean climes. Out came chickens. Now we are crying over what comes naturally to chickens. We all know the chicken verb, don’t we? And the chicken joke. No, it didn’t cross the road. It fell off a cliff, pushed over by some teenagers termed minnows. A chicken has wings but it can fly to just about a couple of yards. Chicken don’t soar.

The real joke was on the moneybags sponsoring these cricketers. Ladega to Jeetega, World Cup Ko La, None of These Can Get You to Play for India. These commercials were a comic relief during breaks between scenes of Dravid devouring his nails in a not-so-nail-biting match. Our boys had given up the match much before Bangladeshi boys took it away from us. So, dear heart, stop howling and hurling abuses at 11 losers on the rolls of a private concern called BCCI and advertisers. They aren’t the national team, BCCI has said it on record, neither is cricket our national game. But logic was never religion’s cohort.

Experts have already asked Team India to do some introspection. But why only the team? Why not the fans including the fanatics. Where is our sense of outrage when our national investigative team or the CBI loses to Quattrocchi in the hide-and-seek game? Where does our idea of national shame go when police kill innocents, brand them terrorists and bury them denying them dignity even in death? Where is our sense of pride when Naxalites kill 55 policemen and civilians at one go, at will? Our heads don’t hang in shame when a girl is raped in a train while people look the other way. Perhaps honesty, propriety or moral uprightness is yet to become a religion in this country.

Postscript: If India beat Bermuda, the marigold garlands will be back. If India beat Sri Lanka, we will reclaim our Gods. If India enter the Semifinals, we will forget Bangladesh. If India enter the final... okay, let’s not talk about heart attacks now.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


The All-India Street Dog Association has decided to hold a mass movement against Palaniappan Chidambaram’s Budget 2007-2008, proposed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. “Bow Wow, Down with PC,” their president Moti barked aloud to over a 1,000 dogs assembled at Jantar Mantar in the afternoon.

Earlier, in the Lok Sabha, Finance Minister Chidambaram had proposed that the duty on pet food be reduced to 20 per cent from 30 per cent. Pet dogs across the country were glued to the TV in their owners’ living room areas and were going wow-wow. Some went ahead and licked Mr Chidambaram on the cheek. Sushil Manchanda’s latest plasma doesn’t exactly feel like chubby Chidambaram’s cheeks, Tojo went ahead risking his master’s ire.

“What on earth are you wagging your tail about? Did I ever get you any less imported food? I have spared nothing so that you have a good life. This 10 per cent is not going to make much difference. We spend at least five thousand bucks on your salon treatment every month,” Mr Manchanda told Tojo. Tojo apologetically snuggled up to the boss and said: “I know you care. But it’s nice to know that even the finance minister cares.” And tears of joy, salty with emotion, flowed down his cheeks.

Outside on the street, Bholu was shedding copious tears of sorrow. Licking his latest wound inflicted by the thousand-times cursed silver Santro, he looked up and said: “God, why did you save me from that Santro? To see this day?” And then he addressed the other resident dogs of that street. “The government discriminates against the poor, what happened to the promise of aam aadmi?”

Bholu, the president of the Gulmohar Park Road No. 3 Canine Resident Welfare Association, lives next to a tent made of plastic sheets. A woman named Sundari and her children live in that. Sundari does utensils in over six houses on the street, including the Manchandas. Her earnings have not increased in the last two years, but her pulse has been rising with the price of pulses. She has been cutting down on pulses in her own makeshift kitchen. With that cut, Bholu’s dinner has become irregular. Sundari’s two kids now clean off the plate. Bholu has to scour the bin for bones twice chewed, once by the Manchandas then by the Tojos.

Bholu and other Gulmohar Park Road No. 3 dogs have joined Moti’s morcha against the Budget. “We want prices of rice, pulses and milk to come down. People can’t afford to waste any food, how can they afford to throw some in our direction? Humans have started licking their plates clean like us. Instead of bringing down prices of essential commodities, this Budget is rubbing salt on our wounded guts. No more staying silent. We must have our day. We have always boycotted the Tojos of the world. We shall be more aggressive now. They aren’t dogs anyway. Their collars cost more than the per capita income of humans in this country. We will bark in front of parliament, we’ll howl in the central hall.”

“We will bark in front of MCD,” whimpered Puppy the pup.

“No MCD. They’ll trap and cut off your thingy. We don’t go near MCD, beta,” Puppy’s mother Lucy silenced him with a firm nudge. Then she looked towards the gathering and said: “Sorry. He’s young, you know. But I propose that we protest in front of Palaniappan’s house.”

The government however seemed unmoved. A party spokesperson said, “We have to take care of all dogs. Besides, pet dogs are genuine voters. A man is as much a dog’s pet as the dog is his. On the other hand, the street dogs are mostly illegal immigrants. They are barking up the wrong tree.”

“Barking up the wrong tree, eh? We will show them what we do to a tree,” Moti thundered lifting his hind right leg. Human anger often spills on to the streets. This time, the canine anger is spilling out of the streets and into the budget debate.

The Unbearable lightness of Budget 2007-08

Indians wait for February 28, when the finance minister presents a bulky document, popularly known as the annual budget, before the Lok Sabha. Yesterday too began with hearts beating faster and the stock markets beating themselves down. Who’s coming? Who’s coming? P. Chidambaram’s long foreplay ended in a sigh, so empty one could hear his starched dhoti’s creases crumple under his weight. When the wait was over India had another lifeless budget betraying a total lack of imagination. It was yesterday once more.

Wallet wise, these are extraordinary times. Indians had never had it so good with the economy in the fast lane. The poor Indians had never had it so bad either, at least in recent times, with their monthly expenses racing past their monthly budget. Those earning in daily wages don’t watch budget-shajjat, they have to earn their bread. It’s the Great Indian Middle Class that suffers the live telecast and its effects. Old habits die hard.

In the days before India surrendered to the market forces, the annual budget did decide how we lived and died. But, then, the government also decided what car you drove, what rice you ate and what poison you drank. No longer, apart from controlling what TV channels you see, the government has outted itself. But the middle class fascination in the annual budget has not died yet. The budget, alas, is dead meat:

I Want Your Tax
If you are among the salaried class, this budget brings you no relief. You will continue to pay through your teeth. But don’t worry, the government is not killing the golden goose yet. Predictable. That’s what boring budgets are. Your tax exemption limit is raised by Rs 10,000 to Rs 110,000. The increased education cess will take care of that half-hearted smile on your face. Rob Ramalingam to Pay Palaniappan. Simple, da! If you get ESOPs, it will get hit by the lunatic fringe benefit tax.

Cheap Thrills
Some things catch the government’s imagination during Budget time. And TV channels and newspapers immediately announce they’ll become cheaper. Nothing of that sort will happen to diamonds, I bet. The service tax on polishing diamonds has been cut. It will however save the diamond cutting-polishing industry in Gujarat. Cheap Chinese labour was threatening to take that business out. Slashing excise on watch dials doesn’t make watches any cheaper. Bio-diesel will be exempt from excise. Huge favour! Try finding bio-diesel in the city. The normal diesel and petrol prices will not be reduced despite an excise duty cut on auto fuels. That’s to protect the government-owned petroleum companies. And by the way your dog’s food got cheaper.

Expensive taste
Mr Chidambaram wants you to have healthy lungs, so the excise on cigarettes goes up. How original! Do not expect cigarette sales to go down due to the duty. Import duty on private aircraft goes up. If you are among those who import their own flying machines, we are sure a lakh here and there won’t pinch.

Happy politicians/bureaucrats
Rajiv Gandhi had famously said that 85 per cent of the money meant for rural development disappeared before it reached the villages. He didn’t name the politician-bureaucrat-contractor nexus. Because he knew that we knew. This year government’s expenditure would rise by a whopping 21 per cent. It warms our hearts to know that the government will expend Rs 680,521 crore to meet social sector commitments and enhanced defence needs. It will make warmer the hearts of the nexus that Rajiv Gandhi, a decent man, didn’t name. A budget, cut for them!

Healthy, happy life
The good-for-your-heart sunflower oil may become cheaper after the excise duty cut. Good news. The Health and Family Welfare Department has got a good raise, nearly 22 percent. The government will spend Rs 15,291 crore on this sector. May the corrupt get herpes if they try to take their cut from money meant for controlling HIV. The government will also spend more on art and culture. So will you. Buying and selling art will attract capital gains tax.

Same middle ko finger
This annual financial finger doesn’t poke the rich. The rich don’t worry about marginal cuts and taxes. The poor is too poor to be taxed. And too fisted to even bother. The middle class gets the poke and worse, it knows it’s getting it.


Lalu may rename wife to puncture Nitish’s Patna-to-Patliputra move!
Shakespeare not available for comment

Patna or Patliputra, Feb. 22: Railway Minister Lalu Prasad has decided to rename his wife and Bihar Opposition leader Rabri Devi. However, no decision has been taken on which of the three proposed names will be chosen: Rebecca Devin, Rubiina Begum or Rabrinder Kaur.

According to political analysts, Mr Prasad would take the wind out of Nitish Kumar’s move to rename Bihar capital Patna as Patliputra, the original name of the city. Though during Mr Prasad’s regime the city’s infrastructure did go back to the ancient times, historians are livid at the comparision.

“The roads in the ancient Patliputra were much better than what they are today. The only thing common is the cow on the road,” eminent historian Ramcharitra Rehman said.Lalu Prasad wants the Nitish government to change Patna’s name to Azeemabad, not Patliputra. This is seen as a move to cement his Muslim vote bank. The city was known as Azeemabad for a brief period during the Mughal rule.

“This is why we want Rabriji to become Rubiina Begum. This will show he can take radical decisions. He is rail minister and he changes a train’s name from Patna-Surat Express to Azeemabad-Surat Express. Bihar is in Nitish hands, so he can’t do anything. But Rabriji, he can convince, nahin? It will be the final proof that if he could he would rename things to make benefit the Muslim community,” said Anil Akela of the RJD, who is in favour of what he calls “furthering strengthening” the minority image of the party.

But Mukesh Madhur, Akela’s rival for the general-secretary post in Kankarbagh Koloni, prefers Rebecca. “See, we already enjoy Muslim support. We need a Christian name for Rabriji so that the other minority community does not feel alienated. Then we can think of Jewish, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist names for their children. His brother-in-law is Sadhu, and sadhus are Hindu anyway,” he told reporters at his office on Circular Road, renamed Janpath by Laluji’s brother-in-law Sadhu Yadav.

“By the way, how is Ming Wa Chung for a name? I am thinking I should also do it, there are six votes in a Chinese dentist family in our koloni,” he said.

But in the end, Patna Sahib (originally known as Patna City) may turn it all in favour of Rabrinder Kaur. “Patna City is Guru Gobind Singh’s birthplace and an important pilgrimage for Sikhs. And since Laluji is looking at Prime Ministership, he will get a good foothold in the north if he goes for a Sikh name. He already has Muslims in one pocket and khaini in the other. He just needs the Sikhs,” Sardar Jatinder Singh, the only first generation Sikh secretary in the party said. Earlier known as Jeetendra, he changed his name to Jatinder while working in the fields of Punjab.

But there is a catch: Rabriji’s is apparently not happy being treated like a train. To convince her, Laluji told her: “What is in a name, Sekspeerwa said once and I am telling you twice.” She rebuffed the move saying “Ghar mein bachche hain, aap thoda dheere bola karo yeh sab.” “Arre hum wo waala nahin, poet waala sekspeerwa bol rahe hain,” Laluji explained. He’s yet to get her nod, but Patna will soon become Patliputra because the ruling coalitions do what they please. Remember cities called Madras, Calcutta, Bangalore, Pondicherry, Bombay?

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What if the terrorists made a mistake?

The investigation into the Samjhauta Express inferno may not conclude any time soon. And till it's done, which takes a long time in our country, you will see reports about thousands of 'leads'. Investigators will drop names of all terrorist outfits and their cousins. At the time of writing this, suspects include Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Inter-Services Intelligence agency of Pakistan, some Kashmiri outfits and their offshoots. Detentions, arrests and declaration of proclaimed offenders follow. There's a pattern in our investigations that is as disturbing as the pattern in acts of terror. Keep the mind boggled with names till it's occupied by other bothers or a bigger terror strike. We still do not know who were behind the 2005 Diwali bombings in Delhi. No definite clue about the Varanasi blasts. The Mumbai train blasts.

Is Mein Kasuri Ka Kya Kasoor
So what's wrong? "You know we live in South Asia, we know what our police and security agencies (are), you know the moment the leaders start saying something, you are supposed to produce results in consonance with what the leaders are saying," Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri told Times Now's Arnab Goswami in an interview. Pretty much admitting that investigations get coloured in his country. It's true for some of our own investigations. Take Godhra. The conclusions of the state police, under a BJP government, were entirely different from the conclusions of Justice U.C. Banerjee, appointed by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad. The truth lies charred somewhere in between.

Conspiracy Theories: I too have one
When truth is charred, we hang on to theories. Today's most popular theory is that the Samjhauta terrorists wanted to destroy the peace process between India and Pakistan. Since human life is cheap in the subcontinent, we need to attach some 'larger than life' purpose to even mindless terrorist acts, as if killing innocents was not heinous enough. What if Samjhauta wasn't the target? What if the terrorists wanted to incinerate Gujarati businessmen travelling by Ahmedabad Mail? The suspects argued with railway police and said they wanted to go to Ahmedabad. The railway police and a TTE (presumed dead) were telling the suspects they had boarded the wrong train. They told the two suspects to get off when the train slowed down. "The eyewitness ... saw the suspects having a heated argument with RPF personnel. They were arguing about the destination of the train. The men were carrying suspicious luggage," Rohtak Range IG Sharad Kumar is on record saying this. "The argument went on for 20-25 minutes. Finally the RPF told them they could get off the train when it slowed. The two suspects got off around 11.30 pm, 15 minutes before the blasts. On the basis of this eyewitness account we have made sketches of the suspects." What if they wanted to repeat Godhra and trigger another Gujarat? After all in the 7/7 blasts of Mumbai, Gujarati businessmen were the primary targets, according to one theory. Ahmedabad Mail leaves Old Delhi railway station at the same time (10:50) as Samjhauta Express. The two trains wait at the platform next to each other. If one misses the entry gate opposite Novelty cinema (the gate specially meant for Platform no. 18), he or she will end up on Platform no. 15/16, where Ahmedabad Mail waits. It's easy to make mistakes, when you have suitcases full of explosive material. Besides, the carriers were not seasoned terrorists. Else all five timers would have gone off. The explosives were not really meant to blow up the train. They were meant to just ignite the petrol, which would then explode and spread the fire. And finally, why would ISI or other so-called Pakistan-backed Islamic Terror Modules target Pakistani Muslims, even if they wanted to derail the peace process? Another Gujarat would be more effective to derail the peace process. The blasts united the two countries, at least in grief. It made them make statements of strengthening the dialogue, just not what the terror masters ordered. Just a caveat: this is just a theory, like the theories that police and government have dished out since after the train fire. It could be wrong. What if...?

Riding the Tiger
Great expectations breed great disappointments. Disappointments fuel anger. Tragedies like the Samjhauta fire also create a facade of India-Pakistan bonhomie. But behind the scenes, the bickering gets bitter. India expects Pakistan to take on the terror network. Can Islamabad do it? No, not in its lifetime. Terror is the tiger the generals have been riding for decades now. If you can imagine someone riding a tiger, you know the rein is an illusion. Islamabad can do nothing, if it gets off the tiger, the tiger will maul it or even finish it off. Can any leadership, military or otherwise, risk getting off that tiger? It's easy to go say things like people on both sides love each other; if given a chance, they would hold each other in an endless embrace. But people don't dictate the embraces or even the handshakes. Governments do. One of them is the government of Pakistan.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I and My Women

Mr Treehorn treats objects like women, man.
The Dude, The Big Lebowsky

Men love women. Men love speakers. Women have PMS. Speakers have RMS. Popular size for the first is 40-24-38. The recommended size for the second is a minimum 500 watts route mean square (RMS). Measuring them in PMPO is considered blasphemy among people suffering from Human Gadgetophilia Syndrome, popularly known as Gadgetitis. I am a chronic case and it gets acute at least once a month, immediately after the salary reflects in the bank account.

Friends blame my lad status on that disease. But then they also can't see the huge difference between my last receiver and the latest upgrade. I do not ask them to visit the ENT and get their ears checked, because their wax isn't top on my priority list.

The next DVD player is. The remote controller with my latest Denon receiver came with buttons for a DVD player that works only with a DVD player of the same make. Now to fully utilise the remote, a Denon 1930 has been ordered. But that leads the existing DVD players (one for upscaling DVD and one that could handle DVD-A) to go down the same road as the last receiver. But my DVD players know they will be treated with respect. They will go back to the box they came in, wrapped with care, love and respect. They know they will not be handed over to a greedy kabadi (junk dealer). That's why my objects like me. And the feeling is mutual.

The moment I enter my house, I switch on the mains to give them enough warm-up time while I mix my drinks. My objects of affection enjoy my undivided attention, and I shiver at the thought of somebody actually landing between us, speaking in monoaural: "talk to me." Here's the most feared piece of conversation:

W: Talk to me, no?
M: What?
W: Anything.
M: Well, ask me something!
W: Anything. These days, you don't speak only.

During this conversation, M is fingering the Setup button cluster on his Universal Remote… wondering if he could change W's voice a little; bring down the highs by about 10 dB and mids by about 4. Tweak the bass a little. W thinks they have fidelity issues. M thinks he has hi-fidelity issues. Because the existing CD player can't match the soundstage Meridian 808 CD player, he has been fantasising about since the last AV expo.
(First published in Maxim, January 2007)