Friday, 31 December 2021

Adios Annus Horribilis Deux, Willkommen Annus Horribilis Tria

Another year down the drain, while a new one is slithering up omi(cro)nously. “Twaaaaaang” goes scary music in the background.

As for the year that went by, it was one involving lots of driving for me, in particular, ferrying kids to school and other activities so as to avoid public transportation. When I’m in my car, sometimes I have four women in my life. It’s not that I converted to the religion that allows you to have up to four wives. Conversion, as we all recently found out, is not good. I’m even scared of converting rupees to dollar nowadays. Or to try and convert distance when talking to Amreekan friends.

Me: “I drove about 70kms today going to Chiba.”

Friend: “70kms? How much is that in miles?”

Me: “Hmm…err… Po mi###.”

And the conversation ends just like that.

Talking of conversion, I sometimes think of converting to the ancient religion of my mom, given the pressure to conform to society. However, with conversion getting banned here and there, I am having second thoughts. If at all I go down that path, (and this is something I have said before) I want to join the upper-est caste available. The crème de la crème of castes, whichever that is. I am not interested in joining some run-of-the-mill upper caste. I want to know who is at the apex of the pile and I want to join them. (Reminder to self: Google that.)

Getting back to the four women I sometimes find myself with in my car:

One is my legally wedded wife of 22 years (who has, in fact, been with me for a quarter of a century now, living in sin for three of those years). She is the quietest one in the car. Never says a word regarding my driving skills, or lack thereof.

The second one is the lady inside the car’s in-built navigation system, who spews inanities such as the date and what special day is that day when I start the car for the first time, as in “Today is December 31, 2021 – World No Conversion Day,” or something like that. She also tells me when I cross prefectural borders. “You have entered Kanagawa Prefecture.” I nod, knowing she’s harmless.

The third woman in my car is the Google Navigation lady. I use the Google app because the in-built navigation is not updated real time and you have to shell out quite a bit every few months to keep it up-to-date. So, I use Google maps, which has its drawbacks. There are times I suspect the Google map lady has homicidal tendencies and I fear that one day she is going to drive me into some lake, something my cousin recently experienced with his navi lady in Malaysia. (I did end up in a ditch once, due partly to the Google map lady.)

The fourth is the youngest and the one that is quite annoying. She is the lady in my drive recorder. Like the in-built navi lady, she also does small talk when I start up the car, but is quite condescending. “You’ve been driving quite skilfully of late. Let’s aim to become even better.” I keep quiet. Then she starts giving me driving tips – “Mind your driving lane,” or “Maintain distance with the car in front.” A few days ago, she said, “You’re speeding above 80”. I might have barely touched 120 km/hr. I thought I would fool her and did a mental conversion to miles and almost blurted out “it’s only about 75, milady” but then I remembered the anti-conversion rule in the nick of time and checked myself. Whew! Narrow escape.

Anyway, things are going smooth, or as smooth as they can be under the circumstances. The mallus in my neighbourhood had an Xmas/New Year party yesterday (Dec 30) after missing 2021. As usual, the menu included, among other items, the national dish of porotta/beef and sufficient fluids (also known as jeeva jalam) to wash the food down. Talk of beef may be crime for some, but we mallus, as a species, revere beef. So, this was prepared religiously by a group of volunteers overnight spending three to four hours. The volunteers were also provided with ample fluid support, which made the task easier. Would we be able to hold a similar get-together in the new year? That is the big question in front of us. The halls are open and available for parties as of now here in Japan, but the BGM is getting scarier with omicron slowly sneaking in. Let’s hope the music turns upbeat soon. 

Wishing y’all a happy 2022.


Thursday, 9 September 2021

The P--p Chronicles

My toilet 

Everybody has something or the other that they associate with a childhood experience or event. It could be a happy or a traumatic experience, and I’m no different. A few days ago, I was driving home with my elder kid, when he changed the music in the car to an old Malayalam song collection. It’s been a while since I had listened to Malayalam songs in the car, as the music system has been in the control of my kids. There are days I go around listening to gangsta rap (collection of my younger one), and to be honest, I kinda like it. You can’t really argue with profound lyrics like “She just bought a new ass but got the same boobs (same boobs!). Other words that repeat often in many of those songs include the common verb for the act of fornication and its variations, the term for female dogs, etc. - terms which are not generally approved by Arsha Bharatha or other cultures.

The fact is, kids don’t discriminate in terms of what they listen, and that, I have to say, has helped me to broaden the horizons of my musical interests too. My boy listens to all kinds of genres including old Malayalam and Hindi songs. By old I mean really old, for him. I can’t understand how a 16-year-old can feel nostalgic about the 1960s, but he does. He introduced me to Dean Martin’s “That's Amore” and “Buona Sera,” as well as many Japanese enka songs of yore. He also listens to opera and was obsessively listening to the Three Tenors for a while. It is a cyclical thing for him, and when he switched the music from Andrea Bocelli crooning “Con te partiro” to Janaki pining “Anjana kannezhuthi” for the lover who fails to turn up, I was not surprised.

So, there I was driving and listening to some melodious mallu songs from the 1960s and 70s, when the song “Ashada masam athmavil moham” came on. Now, this is a collection I had copied from a friend a few years ago on a visit to Trivandrum, but hadn’t yet listened to fully. I didn’t know this song was in there. This was a song that brought back a traumatic childhood memory. When it came on, I was instantly transported back to the mid-1970s, to a flower show at the Women’s College in Trivandrum. I was with my mom and her friends, who all came there with their kids in tow to see flowers! From what I remember, I was not interested in the flowers, and was too young to be interested in women, though it was a women’s college and all.

Anyway, I went walkabout and while goofing around got separated from the group and got lost in the milling crowd. Discombobulated, I walked up a grassy mound and was anxiously looking around when I felt some tribulations in my tummy. “You have to poop… here and now,” said my brain. I started bawling, trying not to let that thing out, but there’s only so much you can do and eventually it happened. So, there I was, on top of a grassy knoll, “Ashada masam, athmavil moham” blaring from the speakers at the venue, tears streaming down my cheeks, saliva drooling from my mouth, snot from my nose billowing in the wind, and a warm cylinder of poop slithering down the back of my thigh. And, anal sphincters walking by laughing at me!

I’m sure that this was the highlight of the flower show for them. Let’s admit it. Nobody likes or remembers flower shows. It’s something that happens in non-happening places, which was what most places in India were at that time. Nobody goes around saying, “hey, do you remember that red rose we saw at that flower show?” But I’m sure a whole bunch of dumbos who saw me that day still remembers that flower show and reminisce once in a while when they get together saying, “Do you remember that flower show in the 70s where that miserable kid was pooping on a hill. Was hilarious, wasn’t it?”

Anyway, my mom showed up in the nick of time before I went batshit crazy and took me to a toilet, cleaned me, washed my soiled shorts and put them back on, ditched the rest of the flowers, and took a taxi home immediately.

Looking back, I think my mom, in spite of having a master’s degree in economics, lost a golden opportunity to “monetize” her son. I was practically a vision on a hill. With a little effort, she could’ve promoted me as some kind of incarnation or saint. People do fall for that kind of $hit, y’know. If she had done that, I might have been an Our Patron Saint of the Holy Poop or a Swamy DoodooAnanda Thiruvadikal now, raking in the moolah by dishing out $hit advices to anal sphincters around the world. Didn’t happen. But, as they say in the ancient scriptures, “no point in crying over spilt gaumutr”. Which is even better in the original in Sanskrit – “गतस्य गोमूत्र पे शोचना नास्ति”!

Incidentally, near the place where I exit the expressway, there is a company called Unco Inc. (U is pronounced as in the Indian name Uma). Unco means poop in Japanese. Japan is famously non-anal-retentive about poop. It gave the poop emoji to the world. There are even text books that use unco to teach kanji characters to kids. So, it’s not surprising that such a company exists in Japan. The company apparently sells stuff like t-shirts, shoes, etc. with the poop character on it. And, they do have a lofty goal. World Peace! with poop! Go figure.

In these troubling times, when the whole world seems to be going up shit creek without a paddle, let’s hope they succeed in bringing peace to at least some parts of the world. Their car does bring a smile to my face whenever I see it.


PS: A few days ago, a post on a futuristic public toilet in Tokyo popped up on my timeline. I have been in love with the toilets in Japan for a long time now (a post from 2014). The one I have now lights up with a soothing blue glow inside the toilet bowl when I open the door, and does a cleanup of the washlet nozzle and bowl. I like it here. I think a civilization should be judged by how it poops, because that is the only function a human being enjoys from birth to death. In that regard, I think Japan is at the pinnacle. I know some of my friends in India like to say how everything was there in our land thousands of years ago, but this is one thing where I'm willing to put my neck on the line. There were no such toilets in Arsha Bharata or Arsha Greece or Arsha Mesopotamia or elsewhere. You could say our gurus used to sit in the Himalayan rivulets where the gushing water automatically cleansed their bums, and it could technically pass off as a natural washlet. But then, there was no blue light. When you think of it, I wouldn’t mind trying that out on a Himalayan stream. Whitewater pooping instead of whitewater rafting. I’m sure many would pay top dollar for that.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

The Image Problem

The Government of India recently held a workshop for top officials aimed at helping them “create a positive image of the government,” manage “perception through effectively highlighting positive stories and achievements,” and making the government “be seen to be sensitive, bold, quick, responsive, hard-working etc.” This is a highly laudable, and much-needed move, and is of utmost priority, given the negative press the country has been getting around the world for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In pursuing that story, we chanced upon a secret draft that calls upon patriots around the world also to help in the endeavour to change the narrative. The draft describes the following scenarios that proud patriots could encounter overseas.

You’re in a foreign country whose media is trying to tarnish our supreme leader’s image. A foreigner friend comes to you and says something negative.

Foreigner: “It’s a shame what’s happening in India. Horrible scenes from hospitals and crematoria”.

In such cases, your job is to delicately direct that person to the positive things happening around the country right now. But, before that, try to play down the issue with the usual fake news narrative.

You: “It’s not that bad. The government has said there’re enough hospital beds and oxygen. There's no reason to disbelieve the government. Some anti-nationals are making up such negative news of people dying without oxygen and funeral pyres burning non-stop. Also, why are these foreign fake media snooping around and asking questions? Our leader doesn’t like chitchatting with the press. He’s a doer. Our local media people know that and don’t bother asking questions. If you foreigners keep on doing this, we’ll make a rule that all questions should be in Sanskrit language.”

Now, show the person news clips of Yogi-ji’s assurances of enough oxygen, beds and medicines, and also cow help desks, which ought to surely impress him. Next, gently guide the person to the positive news.

You: “By the way, did you hear about the grand central vista we are building in New Delhi? It’s going to be the grandest central vista ever. It’s going to be iconic and better than Washington D.C.!! It’s like a triangle with a hole in the middle….”

Don’t go overboard with the explanation. Triangle with a hole in the middle could conjure up some unwanted imageries. Anyway, if the foreigner is still unimpressed, talk about the Prime Minister’s new residence.

You: “We’re also building a new residence for our PM. It’ll be more phamous than the White House. The house will have nano-chips embedded in it.”

Foreigner: “Why are there nanochips in it?”

You: “That is because even if the PM is 120 metres deep below the earth, we can track him down. Wait, sorry, that was from another story.”

Again, don’t mix up unnecessary things. Also, it’s not phamous, it’s famous.

Foreigner: “But, our government is sending oxygen concentrators and other aid to India. Why is that?”

Now, this anal sphincter of a foreigner is persisting with the negative storyline. Don’t go ballistic and say “abey chu#$ya, that is because our supreme leader called and ordered your dumb leader to send stuff”. Be tactical. So…

You: “That is part of our supreme leader’s diplomatic ingenuity. You see, in helping us, your country will also have a sense of happiness and satisfaction. That is our custom. Make others feel happy. Haven’t you heard “Samastha vasudeva bhavanthu loka kudumbo or something like that?”

Foreigner: “No.”

You: “Well, now you heard it!”

Foreigner: “Hmm, still, the government seems to have mismanaged the whole issue and is not taking responsibility of the mess. Didn’t you hold a big festival by the Ganges and some elections recently?”

Don’t lose your temper. Stay calm.

You: “Our supreme leader was chosen as the world’s best PM by the UN, and he still is. He is so wise he even advises our scientists on how to launch rockets. He has hands-on experience as he’s been a ba…..wait. Forget it. As for people dipping in the Ganges, they get immunity because it is one of the top five polluted rivers in the world. So, once you’re used to that, nothing can harm you. This was proven by NASA….wait.”

Sorry, we’ve to rewrite that. All that crap we had input over the years is creating confusion in the system. Well, we have to calm the #$”& down. We have to check if this foreigner is not the same fictitious foreigner Jay who had crisscrossed India and praised our supreme leader in our 2015 WhatsApp posts. Maybe he has double-crossed us now!

Let’s not get distracted. You could next give subtle hints about our airstrike capabilities. (Skip this if the person is French.)

You: “You know, we have the great Rafale jets now and can hit wherever we want, especially on cloudy days. In fact, we paid $9.4 billion for 36 jets, or almost double the $4.5 billion that Egypt paid for 30 jets, just because we could afford to do so. The jets have side mirrors and all, and Swiss Army knives hidden under the ailerons.”

And the final nail on the head of this nosey foreigner.

You: “Also, we have let the vaccine guys do surge pricing depending on the demand, which will trigger a healthy competition and ensure that only the healthiest people with money will survive. Survival of the fittest, as our ancient sages used to say. No, capitalist, communist, or socialist country has done so. Nor has any monarchy. Shows our trust in the free-market capitalist system. As our supreme leader says, ‘The world should learn from us’.”

Follow this template to deal with all the usual suspects engaging in negative news. i.e. news.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

A Cock and Bull Story


Holy cow! It seems the Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog cancelled the Gau Vigyan exam! To say that I’m disappointed would be an understatement. I was looking forward to check out the questions and see how I would’ve fared in such a new and difficult, but noble Nobel-worthy field.

Well, as usual, some morons from that “Gau”-lish (Gau, Gaul, ghoul, whicheva suits you) outpost in the south, have apparently played the spoilsport (Cow exam postponed). They like being bulls in a china shop, especially in this age when China is bullying us.

Don’t they know that an UGC exam is a sacred cow? Did I get it wrong? A god is a sacred cow. A sacred cow is a god. It’s all confusing. In this age, when governments and people can have a cow if someone even thinks of thinking to make a god or politician joke, it’s better to leave sacred gods and political leaders alone, at least, the ones still in circulation. You are allowed to take digs, at the most, on extinct gods like e.g., Goddess Phaethusa, and Nehru. There are, of course, some countries where comedians call their president as Putin’s c#*k su*ker (No apology from Colbert) or orangutan (Trump withdraws lawsuit against Maher) and get away with it. But, don’t try calling your president or PM any of that.

Leave those sacred cows alone. Remember Mr. Tharoor who famously miscowculated mallu literacy and said “cattle class,” which turned out to be an udder failure, and he ended up listening to pontificating mallus till the cows came home.

It’s all a load of bull. The government shouldn’t be cowed down by this mallu “moo”vement, but should take the bull by the horns and conduct that exam. It'd behoove them to remember that the sacred cow has been their perpetual cash cow for decades now. A cow-ordinated response is the need of the hour, or else, we’ll forever be behind Western bull-poop science, like a cow’s tail.

Gau, gobarment, gau.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

God is a Virus

Friends, I have important news for you. God has revealed itself to me, and surprise, surprise, it is a virus.

Keep those knives sheathed, folks. I’m not talking about your gods. I’m talking about my quest for a personal god. Like most people, I also started off with the regular, run-of-the-mill gods that a family or a school usually tries to forcefully implant in your brain. Fortunately or unfortunately, I was dumb, and my brain kept rejecting those implants. It was all very confusing for me. 

 Still, my spiritual pursuit continued through my childhood, which most of the time didn’t go down well with my mom and many other people. Then, I reached the age of reason around 12. This is the time when most guys reach the age of reason and start spending more time in the toilet, sometimes with magazines with colourful photographs and stuff. There, they let their imaginations run wild. A toilet is like a cave where you can sit and ponder. Many of mankind’s greatest ideas were born either in a cave or in a toilet. A cave/toilet allows a person to focus. All our ancient gurus used to go into caves (which also probably served as toilets in those days) for ideas, except of course, Mr. Buddha. In his case, it was because he wanted to do number “two” with everything, or was it that he wanted to be one with everything? I don’t know. As I mentioned earlier, it’s all quite confusing.

In the course of my spiritual journey, I also went through a whole gamut of god men, trying to make sense of this confusion; but that too turned out to be a dead end, as I crashed into words like corporeal manifestation and cosmic consciousness. From the afro hair dude to the sad kuru, whatever they said went over my head. Their teachings fell under the field of studies generally known in educational circles as Bovem Stercore-ology, which was beyond my brain's reach.

I remember a guru who said that the sound from a damru (drum) was the first corporeal manifestation. That is, the first physical thingy ever in this universe was the sound from a drum made of wood and animal skin, which, of course, are not physical thingies. Wait, isn’t wood a physical thingy? Where did the animal skin come from? I was stumped. I realized that I’m probably not the sharpest tool in the shed. I needed clear, simple explanations, and that’s when Nityananda kuru appeared on the scene with his unvarnished bovem stercore in a language that the common folks understood, unlike those sad kurus and sri-to-the-power-of-n kurus and their pretentious stuff. I almost made up my mind to fully accept this new kuru as my spiritual guide, and thought of doing some deep thinking in a cave prior to taking the plunge.

Well, not everyone has access to photogenic caves like Modiji. He has the wherewithal to marshal the entire political science government machinery to arrange for caves in Kedarnath. I don’t have that kind of connections, so I make do with the toilet. Modiji has cameramen and strategically placed mood lighting to showcase his berobed, bearded profile, while his x-ray eyes peer straight at the camera through closed eyelids. I, on the other hand, sit on the throne sans robes, my lungi on the floor, my newspaper, book, or smartphone in hand. I thought of asking my wife to take a picture of me in profound thought, but then good sense prevailed, as I knew her threshold for toilet humour was pretty low. I also thought of taking in a bird, a small one, not a peacock. Maybe, a bird of paradise. But Japanese toilets, though famous for being high-tech, are notoriously small. If my toilet were any smaller, I would be making squishing sounds going in and out. So, out went the bird of paradise photo shoot idea.

Anyway, I was sitting there in my make-believe cave, deep in thought, one day recently, when God spake to me, “I’m the virus”. I was sceptical at first, thinking I misheard a fart, but then it asked me again, clearly, to think of the primary criterion for being a god. The primary criterion for a god, we all know, is to “Kill indiscriminately”. A few women menstruated somewhere - send a flood; couple of guys kissed elsewhere - time for an earthquake; boys spending too much time in toilet – smite a town somewhere with a tornado. Evidently, this god is also killing indiscriminately, and that too on a global scale. Ukrainian holiness blames gay people for the coronavirus. The Viral God punishes the holiness. So, that makes you wonder what the holiness has up his robe. Anyhoo, I was getting pretty convinced about this god. It also said that it created the coronavirus in its image. Makes sense. Most humans, conceited as they are, imagine god resembles them in appearance. Well people, now is the time for you to accept the new fact, repent, and follow the true god, the Virus.

Further, it has told me that I’m the chosen prophet and I have to spread the word. I asked for some instructions, y’know, rules. Any religion worth its salt needs rules. As I said earlier, I like them simple. Too many commandments might put people off. George Carlin once simplified and summarized the ten commandments into two. So, I was hoping for something on that line, and I was not disappointed. There are essentially only three commandments in my religion now (which I regularly break).

1. Thou shalt not go into Closed spaces

2. Thou shalt not go into Crowded places

3. Thou shalt not be in Close-contact settings

Spread the good word. Make this viral.

All this may sound a bit too facetious for a religion, and I conveyed as much to the Lord. The Lord Virus has reassured me that the rest of the rules regarding sacrificing virgins (both boys and girls,) beheading apostates and infidels, lynching, etc., which are essential for a religion to gain acceptance in this modern world, will be delivered to me in due course and it has asked me to be prepared, preferably in a cave/toilet. So, till I get those remaining rules, follow the above three.

P.S. The greatest thing about this god is that you can actually see it. Unlike certain religions that prevent you from taking and showing pictures of gods (imagine the trillions lost in merchandising,) this god can be seen and photographed with gadgets in certain temples called labs. Certainly adds to the credibility.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Jhumlasana, Hanko and Hypotenuse

“Accha, look,” my 11-year old son shouted from the tatami room. I turned back to see him lying supine on a pile of pillows with his head, arms, and legs stretched and dangling down. “Modiji’s yoga pose,” he said. He was doing Jhumlasana, a signature move that was conceived and popularized by Indian PM Modi. Modiji, we all know, performs his stunts on rough, inhospitable terrains such as on rocks and stuff, which is possible only through years and years of practice posing in front of cameras. So, ideally kids shouldn’t be trying those at home, but it has been a tough couple of months for my son. Ever since the coronavirus-related restrictions came into place and the consequent lack of entertainment, he has been restless around the house and frankly quite a handful – riding his RipStik blade inside, playing hoops with a small ball and toy hoop in the bedroom, making a metre-long straw to drink his juice, burning old birthday candles, remodelling his RC cars, and creating his own hip-hop bling jewellery with gem clips, one of which I had to wear on my neck for a few hours while working.

It’s been more than six months since $#it hit the Chinese fan in Wuhan, and almost four months since I started wearing a mask when going out. Back in early February, I remember driving my niece to a concert in Shibuya. On our way, we saw the infamous COVID-19 infected cruise ship, the Diamond Princess, quarantined in Yokohama port while crossing the Rainbow Bridge. Once we reached Shibuya, and after ensuring that my niece was safely inside the concert hall, we whiled away the time by strolling around the district taking in the sights, had coffee and cake at a café crowded with fashionable youth, and later just sat outside the concert place waiting for my niece to come out. The area was bustling as usual with hordes of people, many of them tourists, and mostly young. But one thing stood out. Most of them had masks on. 

This was in early February, as I said earlier. The pandemic was yet to overrun Italy and other European nations. Modiji, the masterstroker was planning to fill up a stadium later in the month for his phrend Trump the Two Dick (an honorary title bestowed on cowshed/stable geniuses; from the Hindi word Dho Lund). In fact, he won’t take out his next masterstroke, the one for saving India’s middle class, for another month and a half. However, based on a titbit of information released strategically in June, we know that Modiji was aware of the COVID-19 pandemic much earlier than anyone else on the face of the earth. Not only that, he had prepared a secret plan to tackle this crisis as early as January. He then secretly buried that plan under a neem tree in his backyard and, as is his wont, shot off a poetic letter to his mom. Neem tree, as per our ancient texts, has magical powers and on full moon days, when Jupiter is near Uranus and you feel the urge, dogs will pee on the tree at the stroke of midnight, imparting special powers on whatever is hidden under it. Anyway, after almost three months of keeping it hidden, Modiji pulled that magically-charged plan out on March 24 at 7:45 pm. That time 7:45, you see, is important. According to numerology, 7 + 4 = 11, and 11 + 5 of course is 16. Now comes the interesting part. 1 + 6… Voila, it’s 7. What comes after 7? Eight, obviously. So, at 8:00 pm on March 24, Modiji came on TV, secret plan in hand, and said “Mitrroon”. The rest, as they say, is history, as the country went into lockdown and slew that virus in 21 days. But, then there is the old Swedish Gir jungle saying, "Modiji hai to Moomin hai (Modiji is Moomin)," or something like that.

Sorry I got carried away by the Indian story. I was planning to write about what has been happening here in Nippon. The Japanese PM, perhaps taking a cue from Modiji, ordered a lockdown here in Japan in April. Well, not exactly “ordered”. Given his boob size, which is nowhere near 56 inches, all PM Abe could do was make a request. “Please try and stay home and do not go out if it is non-essential…”. So, many people kept going to work on crowded trains and buses, because they have to do this very essential thing called pressing a hanko on papers. The hanko is your personal seal. Everything in Japan needs a hanko. You may be tattooing on your butt cheek or you may be buying a smartphone. All the relevant procedures will be completed digitally, but then they’ll print everything out and you have to press your hanko in at least 10 places to make it official. So, in modern, digitally-savvy Japan, workers trudge to offices in the midst of a lockdown to do this extremely “essential” act.

Anyway, we, as a family, decided to practice self-restraint and limited our trips outside to once a week to buy stuff. We switched from shopping at different neighbourhood shops to shopping at a big supermarket a few kilometres away. In the first week of lockdown, the place was crowded with people buying up things, and the checkout queue snaked around inside the store with waiting time of up to an hour. There I was, standing in a queue, thinking whether I should fart loudly if I have to cough for some reason, when a lady in the adjacent queue coughed. I immediately began making calculations – we are about two feet apart; she is four and a half feet tall; I am six feet; How do you find the frikkin’ hypotenuse of a triangle h = 1.5 feet, l = 2 feet? Fortunately, I’ve been teaching my boys and knew the formula for hypotenuse, ⇃(h² + l²)  i.e.  = 2.5 feet. Now, convert it…c'mon... my mind raced… 1 foot is about 30cm. Shit, the government said a minimum of one metre in social distancing and this is only about 75cm. Does the coronavirus float up like helium? Does it know about government guidelines and refrain from attacking sideways? I was not sure. Fortunately, going against Murphy’s law, my line moved and I heaved a sigh of relief. The next week was pretty much the same, but the shop restricted entry to one person from a family or group. And by the fourth week, nobody cared (except for masks and some social distancing). 

Right now, things seem to be under control. However, many new cases are being traced to hostess clubs, pointing to some guys losing control. Well, can’t help it, as they have been atmanirbhar (self-reliant) strokers for a while now. Meanwhile, nobody seems to know how this is all going to end. I too don’t know how to end this rant other than by chanting Go Corona, Go! 

Friday, 8 May 2020

Yeddy Current, etc.

Yeddy Current and Freedom (to die on railway tracks) at Midnight

As some dude said, based on a fake Gandhi quote, “The measure of any society is how it treats its most vulnerable members,” and we, I’m proud to say, have measured up to the highest level. In these times of corona, we knew who those most vulnerable were. The builders, of course! Quite clearly, they have been suffering for long and Yeddy knew that instinctively. And, to his credit, he acted immediately. He rightly and rightfully instructed those inconsiderate migrants to go round and round in circles in their tin bungalows. This, he knew, would generate a current known in scientific circles as "yeddy current" (no relation to the eddy current you learn in physics). Another thing is that this Yeddy current is also beneficial to the environment according to some NASA studies.

Even then, some of those migrant guys are defying government orders and selfishly walking and cycling home, insensitive to the fears of the vast middle class. Why can't they buy one of those exercise bikes or treadmills off Flipkart or Amazon and install it in their balcony? C’mon yaar. Anyway, it's heartening to note that people like Yeddy and Yogi and the police are rising to the challenge and imposing strict measures and scrapping these stupid human and labour rights.

Also, it’s about time these people learned where their respective places are in the society. When you think about it, we did have an excellent ancient system, with in-built social distancing rules and all, which was screwed up by all these new-fangled ideas.

In the olden days, people knew where they stood in the pecking order. Sivan knew that. Remember Sivan? I had written about Sivan some time ago. Though his name was Sivan, nobody called him that. Partially deaf and considered by many as being a few cards shy of a full deck, he was “pottan” to everyone. Pottan is a term used generally for a deaf person, and often also used to paint someone as stupid. My mother used to call Sivan that. Her household help and driver called him that. Everyone in the neighbourhood called him that. Those who came looking for his service called him that. Even I used to nod when someone asked the confirming question “Pottana?” when I say something about Sivan. The only person who seethed every time she heard that word was my wife, who always addressed him as Sivan-san. But then, being a foreigner, she doesn’t understand the nuances and intricacies of our ancient system of keeping people in their respective places.

Well, one day, Sivan was on one of his evening jaunts, unkempt and unshaven, bundle of belongings hanging from his shoulder, trudging along as usual, exchanging pleasantries with a utility pole here and a stray dog there, but generally being harmless, when, out of the blue, there was a stinging pain in his bottom. He turned around and saw a police jeep with a policeman swinging his thick cane at him. Sivan did the only thing that he knew he could do. He ran. He ran like hell. The police did the only thing they knew. They chased and kept swinging that stick at him. “F#$%ing a$$%*+#! The temerity to walk with bundle and s#$% on the road,” the policeman shouted. Sivan kept running and ran into my parent’s place. The police stopped at the gate. They didn’t open that gate and charge inside. That gate had certain rights that Sivan didn't have, which the police didn't dare infringe on. They noticed my parents’ household help standing there and asked about the bad guy who just ran in. She said she knew the person and saved Sivan’s ass for the day.

A few days later I heard about this incident and went to Sivan. I was all indignant. To be honest, I still don't know what had gotten into me at that time. Could've been a mild bout of anti-nationalism. “C’mon Sivan. Let’s go file a complaint,” I said, spouting highfalutin words like human rights, etc. Sivan, however, just plainly refused. Under normal circumstances, I would expect such a refusal to be accompanied by a sarcastic smirk, but Sivan was all sincere in his response. He was adamant that he didn’t have any complaint against such big-big officials, who have the right to punish people like him as and when they pleased. He was also scared of the revenge they’ll take out on him for his insolence once I went back to Japan, if he complains.

I thought over it. I will be leaving in a few weeks. And, I am no activist. Neither I’m a man of action, like certain leaders who can take dramatic overnight decisions. For example, someone like Bollywood villain Ajit says, “Aaj aadhi raat ko theek barah baje, Hindostan ke baarder pe apna helikaapter aayega (Tonight, at 12 o’clock sharp, my helicopter will come to Hindustan’s border). Michael, tum cycle leke jaa (Michael, take your cycle and go)”. Michael will dutifully take his bicycle and go to the border. If a supreme leader gives such an order, every Michael in the country will dutifully get on their bicycles and go to the border. That’s the power of supreme leaders. I wouldn’t go, because I’m not named Michael. But, I’ll be standing in my balcony, clanging my vessels in moral support when those Michaels pedal by. My train of thoughts was going crazy as if in search of migrants on tracks. Anyway, good sense prevailed, and I got out of my reverie and thanked Sivan for teaching me the right concept regarding rights.

Looking at the things happening now, I beseech the government to grasp this golden opportunity and eliminate or modify those foreign concepts, while lobbying internationally (Trumpji, I’m sure, will be amenable) to amend the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to reflect the real issues faced by vulnerable sections of the society such as builders, stockbrokers and jewellers. Clauses granting nations the right to split people into first-class, second-class, and so on should be included when revising the declaration. As mentioned earlier, we have the ancient blueprint for that. The possibilities are infinite if you can sub-divide those classes further. Everyone will know their responsibilities and will stop going walkabout on railway tracks and all. Let’s hope we don’t miss that train of progress this time at least.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

The Face of 2019

It’s the season of naming the person of the year, leader of the year, bigot of the year, etc. Upon ringing in that new year, I wanted to get something off my chest. It’s not my usual cynical crap. 

Jollu Rajappa. This is a name I saw for the first time about three weeks ago after the gangrape and murder in Hyderabad. The incident is now buried under the CAA ruckus, which has brought the country that much closer to becoming the spitting image of its neighbor, meddling generals and all.

The four accused in that rape/murder were killed in a shoot-out, which most reasonable people would agree was a staged encounter killing. They were not from the privileged class and their pictures and videos were there for one and all to see in the print and visual media. Even their dead bodies. Immediately after the extra-judicial killing there was an avalanche of celebrations all around, with people from all backgrounds, cutting across the political spectrum, across religions, and across professions praising the lord for serving justice, and saluting the police and their guns.

Four scrawny vermin from the gutters got what they deserved as per a vast majority of my friends. They were cocksure about that. There was no doubt in their mind that all four were equally culpable. Well, the police and media said so. There was not even a one in a million chance that one of those guys perhaps had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some even wanted to cut off the balls and burn the bastards. Some were worried that pesky human rights activists would turn up and screw up justice. These are my friends. Normal people, charitable people, people who show genuine concern for others. And, that was the case across the country. An yahoo poll had more than 80% approving the police action.

Yahoo poll on police action

At around the same time, there was a similar incident in another part of the country where a woman was burnt to death in broad daylight by a group of men. You’ll be hard-pressed to find the pictures of those guys, and there were no calls for their summary execution, because they were not from the vermin class. You don’t see the police taking any bishop, guru, or politician accused of a similar crime to the crime scene in the guise of collecting evidence and shooting them dead. We all know that it won’t happen. So, we rejoice when four men, who are not that well-dressed or well-off, from the underbelly of the society are executed.

Amidst all this laddu-distributing, fire-cracker-bursting din, there were two soundbites that my well-dressed, well-fed, well-off, some even well-read, friends would love not to hear, even as they join the chorus for the police playing the roles of judge, jury and executioner.

The first one is from the earlier mentioned Jollu Rajappa. He is the father of one of the accused in the Hyderabad case. When asked if he thinks the killing of his son by the police was right, he said, “So far, why hasn’t such action been taken against those accused of multiple rape cases. I agree that what they did here was right..” Mind you, he has just been delivered the news of his son's death by the person asking that question. He doesn’t say it was wrong. He probably doesn’t know that he can say it was wrong, but he does ask that important question as to why such action is not taken against others.

Jollu Rajappa's reaction at 1:23

The second one is by the father of the Unnao rape victim. He is also asking the same thing. Why such action is not taken against the guys who raped his daughter? "I do not want money or any other kind of help. I want to see that the accused are chased and shot dead like the Hyderabad encounter or hanged to death," he said.

Unnao victim's father's reaction

I don’t know how to end this piece and I don’t know how this societal fault lines will play out in the end, but Jollu Rajappa’s stoic face will remain etched in my mind. The face of 2019 for me.