Thursday, March 27, 2008

God reads your SMS

Man often wondered while sitting on pot with a newspaper in one hand and resolve in the other: Does god carry a cellular phone? That thought was often diminished but never quite demolished. How does God communicate in the age of mobile phones? That big conundrums of recent times has been solved.

We have evidence that God has a mobile phone and uses it, thanks to Indian news channels. As a two-year-old girl fell in a borewell near Agra, a careless nation was praying for her safe rescue while glued to news TV. The little Vandana was crying for food, her mother and life. The nation and its TV channels had found another Prince.

It was a battle against time. Army was digging a parallel ditch just like they did in the case of Prince. Hope was fading. Then TV channels decided to invoke God and reach Him or Her. They asked Indians to send text or call on numbers flashing on the bottom of the TV screen. Pray for Vandana, call now! To save Vandana, send an SMS to this number or that. Thousands of Indians decided to save her by sending text messages and calling up. Vandana was saved. Do we need any other evidence? No, sir, we don’t. It’s finally, scientifically proved that the Lord Almighty carries a cellular phone. It doesn’t matter whether it is a Nokia or a Blackberry.

That brings us to the really important question: How does God treat the telemarketing calls? Does God blast them for spoiling his mood or threaten to sue their pants off?

“Yes Nadia, I need a loan because I just ordered three elephants for my own amusement.”
“No Nadia, I do not need a new mobile phone number, all I need is a handgun.”
“Yes Nadia. I would love to have you over for lunch. But I do not use a satellite radio.”
“Yes Nadia. Good Morning. Why didn’t you call yesterday? I would bank with you.”

There is still no evidence that God said these words. But we do have evidence of a Delhi man who didn’t repay the bank loan. He flirted with the telemarketing girl who called him every religiously morning of every work day demanding to know whether he had deposited the cheque, the cheque’s number, date and such totally unimportant things. He would talk about important things like how beautiful the morning was and what she was wearing. “I missed you this weekend. You have my number you can call me any time any day. Let us meet this Saturday.”

That Saturday changed everything. She continued calling every morning but did not talk about ridiculous things like loan, cheque, dates and number. Then she called in the afternoon too and evening and the good night calls went into am. They could have married but then she did not want to leave her husband.

There is no evidence god would do something like that. The more likely scenario is this:

Telecaller: “May I talk to Mr Satyanarayan?”
God: “Satyanarayan speaking.”
Telecaller: “Can you confirm your surname sir.”
God: “I have hundreds of names, but no surname Nadia.”
Telecaller: “Thank you for confirming your surname sir. Please tell me your date of birth.”
God: “I was never born. I am eternal.”
Telecaller: “Thank you. But we need your actual date of birth to process your name for a life-time free credit card offer.”
God: “I was never born. I am eternal.”
Telecaller: “Sorry sir. Where do you live sir?”
God: “I live in your heart.”
Telecaller: “Another Romeo!”

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Can the Youtube clip become MMS?

Yousuf Raza Gillani has become PM in MMS (Manmohan Singh) fashion. But can he do what Dr Singh is famous for?Dr Singh will, however, never do what Gillani is famous for.

Before he became prime minister of Pakistan, Yousuf Raza Gillani was more famous for his wandering hands, if not for a wandering eye, than his skills as politician or administrator. His sneaky left hand made famous by Youtube could snake through gaps even firebrand feminist and Benazir confidante Sherry Rehman failed to imagine.

In politics too, Gillani has sneaked through the gap between Asif Ali Zardari’s ambitions and political compulsions. In the tradition of sibling rivalry between Midnight’s Children, there are murmurs about the similarity between him and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Dr Singh had proved his worth long before he became the Prime Minister. Last time Singh was a minister, he saved the Indian economy from a debt disaster. Last time Gillani was a minister, he was convicted for corruption. He spent five years in the notorious Adiala prison. There is absolutely no similarity between the cool Sikh at the helm in New Delhi and the Saraiki-speaking Multani of the Gilani clan in Islamabad.

Gillani has miles to go. There are similarities, however, in their ascent to power.
Manmohan Singh was not picked because he was the strongest candidate for the post. The non-political politician and economist was the weakest. Today he is anything but that, but he became Prime Minister because he was the least trouble-causing in the rabble-rousing ranks of the Congress Party. Stronger candidates could engage in machinations that could undermine the ruling family. The ruling family itself could not take the prize. Rahul Gandhi was too young and Mrs Sonia Gandhi was faced with an Italian-origin roadblock. Dr Singh was supposed to be the man who would keep the seat warm for the family. Some of those fears have vanished now, thanks to Dr Singh’s clean and well-meaning image and the Family’s decision to let him be.

Gillani too has not been picked for his strengths, but that of the other candidate, Makhdum Amin Fahim. He has been picked because Pakistan People’s Party, the single largest party in Pakistani parliament, could not just hand over the Bhutto legacy to Fahim, Benazir’s closest aide. Fahim is respected by party cadres, who have still not been able to accept Zardari as their own. Besides, Zardari did not contest the elections and one has to be a Member of Parliament to be eligible for the prime minister’s post. Bilawal, Benazir’s son, is too young to take over. Fahim had the following and experience to grab the lion’s share of power, thus making the Family seem less powerful.

Congress in India allowed a powerful and experienced politician, P.V. Narasimha Rao, to become Prime Minister and the Telugu Brahmin outwitted not only the Opposition but also his own party’s power centres as he went on to rule for full five years. The Family drew power from the party but Rao ran the government as he wished. It was Rao who made Manmohan Singh a politician. Power made P.V. Narasimha Rao a power centre.
Zardari could not afford to make the same mistake.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The right way to drink Scotch

A friend, who has just returned from Australia, came over to my pad last night and we presumed the evening (for journalists 11 pm is about dusk) would start the usual way: a debate over which of the three is better for whiskey: soda or water or half-soda-half-water? One part whiskey, two parts water; two parts whiskey, one part soda, one part water; well the dilutions are endless. But we believe in getting down to work without any delay whatsoever. So we did start with that debate, only that my friend revealed a fourth way: on the rocks, which, for the benefit of ignorant souls, is taking a bottle, two plastic glasses and some salted potato chips to a hillock on the JNU campus. No sir, ignorance indeed is bliss, because on the rocks, on the other hand, is what people on Parthasarathy Rock indulge in after the soda bottle has rolled down owing to gravity and the lack of it among the handlers. This involves one part whiskey and one part whiskey. The users may or may not decide to blame the capitalist government for the bottle’s heinous act.

So anyway, we were there discussing drinking neat which is sort of a neat thing to discuss. He started with his great adventures Down Under. By the way Australia is called so because it’s not up above the rest of us, though Ricky Ponting believes this on and off the cricket field. Ricky Ponting is relevant here because this friend was Down Under to cover the India-Australia Series, where he had a great time drinking Australian wine, which is very different from the wine sold on the roadside on the road to and back from Himachal Pradesh.

Australians make wine out of grape and like the rest of the world prefer to call it red wine, because of its dark burgundy colour, which is Australian for red. Then they bleach half of that and call it white wine, because it’s off-white, yellowish water, another White word for white. Anyway, they also make pink and green wines but since these taste hideously horrible they make their wives drink it. When renowned Indian actor witnessed this phenomenon, he said, and I quote: “Eggjakly.”

Well, so my friend being a wine enthusiast, just two glasses short of a wine connoisseur, visited a Wine Clearance Sale in Hobart and picked up the best he could for as little as a dollar and that too Australian. He wondered why anyone in his right minds would hold a clearance sale of wine! Isn’t wine supposed to get better with age? Then he realised that Australians are not really famous for using their minds or the seller may have downed a glass too many down in the cellar. There were wine bottles that cost as much as 50 Australian but since my friend is just short of a connoisseur he knows the basic law of wine-tasting: the sweeter the better.

Anyway, this conversation was supposed to be about whiskey and we shall stick to scotch brewed in Behror and matured in the godowns of East Delhi. He revealed another major bit about drinking neat. One should not drink it like we drink.
“You should sip and then roll the liquid on your tongue and let all corners of your mouth savour the taste of the malt (single, like yours truly), let your nostrils be swayed by its complex notes, let your tastebuds relish the woody top note and pit-smokey mid note and the coal-sour aftertaste.”

My god! He had complicated a very simple swig into a giant corporation’s accounting department.

“How can you relish the taste of whiskey? It all tastes really bad to the Indian tastebud. Just watch the average Indian man downing that. We flinch, close our eyes and take that thing like medicinal fluid, only that medicinal fluid tastes better. It goes in one gulp, onomatopoeically called gatagat gatagat. And just to make sure there is no trace of an aftertaste we immediately thrust enormous amounts of snacks called chakhna (near onomatopoeically called so) down our palate.

"In fact, the majority of us keep a handful of nuts, gram, chicken tikka or mutton chop in one hand while we assemble the courage to down another glass. Some times the chakhna hits our tastebuds even before the alcohol rolls down to aesophagus. Heck, alcohol never touches our tongues, then what for god’s sake can we roll on them?”

He said just try. Take a swig. So I did. I poured one part Scotch in the glass. Picked it up. With a fistful of roasted cashewnut in one hand, I counted three and yes! Hurray! The Scotch went straight to where it always goes. It did however tingle my tastebuds on the way. And it tasted like medicinal fluid alright. Thank God for the freshly roasted cashew from Kerala.

“That’s not how you drink Scotch!”

“I am from Delhi.”

Research in motion, not necessarily loose

There is no snobbery attached to drinking wine in the hinterland, because in the hinterland, wine means alcohol of any other kind than wine. So, if you walk in to the world-famous Ramesh Wine Stores in Ramesh Nagar, you may not find the produce of even Nasik vines. Sometimes all you will get is warm beer named Upwards 5,000. This is branding based on the degree of potency. That’s better than something called ‘inflation’ because when inflation one goes up, the potency of your rupee goes down. But the potency of beer may go up to a million, which is lovingly called Country for its power to invoke nationalistic slogans like, ‘I love my Country because my Country uh… because my Country hic… hic… allows me to cheat on my wife’.

So, 75 per cent of drinking Indians drink wine without knowing it’s not wine. The other 25 per cent know what wine is, but seldom drink it because they think rum is superior to any other form of alcohol. There are obviously some whisky drinkers among us who mistake a light-coloured rum bottled as whisky. They don’t mind this as much they mind this axiom from an old monk who still owns a Ferrari: “Rum is the essence of soul of humanity, everything else is just alcohol.”

The few people who drink wine knowing it’s wine were shattered by this piece of news in yesterday’s papers: Researchers at the University of Gottingen in Germany have found that drinking wine damages the brain more than beer or spirits (spooky). So while the discerning minority like you and yours truly may think they are discerning enough to choose wine over other forms of stinking ale, they may end up as less discerning folks than beer drinkers, who are often referred to as lager louts just because they lack in gray matter between the ears. But wine actually shrinks the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory. According to the new study, the average size of the hippocampus — one of the first brain areas to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease — in non-alcoholics is 3.85ml while in beer drinkers it is 3.4ml, but for wine drinkers it is only 2.8ml.

That brings us to the last study done by academics at University College London. They found that those who even drink only one glass of wine a week have significantly sharper thought processes than teetotallers. the good, the bad, the ugly The Whitehall Study was published in August last year. So, in less than a year, wine has gone from good to bad for your brain, which is anyway better than having bad cholesterol. The only thing worse than bad cholesterol is…

Research tells us that our nails are not really dead cells and long hair is bad for your sex life, not mine. Research that does not confirm that common cold is a form of nasal dysentery. By the way, no researcher can say anything about common cold with finality. It’s so common that no body has any time to research such minor ailments like cancer.

The scientific community is busy finding out that chocolate is bad for your health soon after saying it’s the best thing ever happened to your sex life, if you are into melting chocolate onto private parts. Going out in the sun will inflict you with skin cancer so you must apply a lot of sunscreen lotion, some of which may cause skin cancer, which is not a form of nasal dysentery. Skin cancer has no relation with dysentery of any kind. However, research may soon find one. end of the affair Drinking milk has close links with dysentery, but doctors say it is good for your bones, a finding quite contrary to the one which said your bones will be brittle if you drink milk or use toothpaste regularly. Some toothpaste brands contain fluoride which is bad for your teeth.

There is no research linking reading to needing angioplasty yet, so you can safely turn the page and continue reading, while I go pour my fourth glass of wine and wet the hippocampus, the area of the brain where a hippopotamus swims in beer.

That takes us back to the study by the University of Gottingen (Germany) researchers. In their study, they also found that beer drinkers had the lowest levels of a compound in the blood called homocysteine which is often linked to heart diseases and strokes. It is relevant to mention here that homocysteine is found in all homos (homo sapiens or humans) and not only homos, the euphemism for homosexuals.