Best Eateries for Bookworms – III

It has been ages since I have picked up the Best Eateries for Bookworms series. You can read the last two instalments here –

Best Eateries for Bookworms – I

Best Eateries for Bookworms – II

In the last few years, I have read some brilliant books. I have branched out my interests into fantasy novels (you can blame the unputdownable A Games of Thrones for that) in addition to some modern-day classics of English literature. I am not adding The Wheel of Time and A Song of Ice and Fire here because they are not a complete series yet. So, without much ado, here is a list of some extremely rich, thought-provoking and heart-rending books that I had the privilege to read.

Everything is illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (2002)

This book is the most brilliant flash in the world of literature from the current set of writers. Turn a page and your heart will break into a million pieces and turn a page again and tears of laughter will roll down your eyes. Story of Jonathan who travels to Ukraine to find the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. He has a very bad local translator, an almost blind driver and a malicious bitch to take him to his destination. Exceptionally hilarious and deeply moving.

Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)

The story of a disoriented and unstuck-in-time Billy Pilgrim who can see past and future events of his life in no order whatsoever. Crammed with memorable characters, the novel explores the illogical nature of humans and the idea of free will. The book revolves around the Dresden bombings during World War II and was subjected to censorship and banning upon its release. Now it is ranked 18th in the greatest English language novels of the 20th century.

Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)

The Pulitzer winner of 1988, this novel tells a heart wrenching story of an African-American slave called Sethe who escapes from a plantation where she works. Years later, the ghost of her daughter whom she had killed with her own hands so that she is not enslaved like her mother, comes to haunt her. Written like a dream (and a very bad one) this book will leave you disturbed for a long time.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (2008)

The story of Nobody Owens who is adopted by ghosts in a graveyard after his parents are murdered one night. Nobody is a toddler and he walks into the graveyard that night as the killer search for him everywhere. The ghosts take him under their wing and take care of him as he grows up. Written with an inexplicable freshness, the book is filled with some amazing ghost characters and is quite a magical read.

Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre (2003)

A clever, cynical and the blackest laugh-out-loud book of recent times. You will love the humour which will jump out from every page. The book tells the story of 15 years old Vernon who runs away to Mexico because one of his friends (Jesus Navarro) commits suicide after killing sixteen schoolmates. Vernon lives in a small town in Texas and somehow the police are suspicious of him after the murders.

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee (1999)

This Booker Prize winning book is the story of David Lurie, a South African professor of English living in the post-Apartheid South Africa. As the balance of power shifts in the country, David’s daughter is raped and he is badly assaulted. He has to come to terms with his changing country at an age when he is too old for it. A classic Coetzee novel with undertones of violence and exploitation and exploring the conflicts within South Africa.

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson (2010)

Winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2010, the comic novel follows the story of Julian Treslove, a bland BBC radio producer, his Jewish philosopher friend Sam Finkler and their former Czech teacher Libor. Libor and Finkler are recently widowed. They dine together one night and Treslove is attacked while he walks back home which somehow opens him to a lot of introspection. An uproariously funny and equally complicated book. One of the best that has come out in recent years.

Life and times of Michael K by J.M Coetzee (1983)

This Booker winning novel tells the story of Michael K, who is a gardener during the apartheid era in South Africa in 1970s. Michael is a very simple man and lives in Cape Town when riots break out and he decides to leave for his mother’s native place. The novel depicts his journey through the civil war torn South Africa. The novel does not lean on racism and you will not be able to decipher the race to which Michael belongs. It leans more on the value of human life and the passage of time. A heart tugging story.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)

The novel won the Pulitzer in 2007. It is a terrifying story of a father and son walking through the breadth of America. A catastrophe has hit Earth and most of the human civilisation is dead. It is the story of their survival, their coming face to face with other survivors amidst inhuman revelations. It is the story of our possible future if we remain as reckless as we are right now. Terrifying at places, the novel depicts the last desperate bid for survival and the death of humanity.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

Probably one of the greatest American novels, The Great Gatsby is about the ‘roaring twenties’ before the Wall Street crash. Nick, a young Yale graduate, rents a house next door to the mansion of an eccentric millionaire (Jay Gatsby). Every Saturday, Gatsby throws a party at his mansion and the rich come to his doorsteps to indulge themselves. In his heart, Jay is lonely and trying to get back his love that he lost 5 years back. It is the story of a decade before the downfall.

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1952)

The Pulitzer winning novel and one of the most famous works of Hemingway tells the story of an old fisherman named Santiago who has gone without catching a fish for 84 days. He is losing his respect amongst fellow fishermen. One fine day he gets up and leaves for the sea to catch a fish and to earn his respect back. It is a story of courage, bravery and man’s fight with nature.

Have you read any of these books? Do you find any of these books interesting enough to pick up? If you want to read more about them, please click on the Titles.

[images from 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11]

Of Awards, giants, faces and clouds

Rashid gave me the Inspiring blog award. To have the ability to inspire someone is a daunting prospect and I have no idea how to go about it but I (hurridly and gluttonously) accept the honour. A big thanks to Rashid for mentioning me and for the white pigeon (a word I could have never spelled correctly if someone had not thought of putting a red zigzag line below it)

Now, I am supposed to tell you seven facts about me as it is the second stage of the ceremony of passing the award. This will not be a great revelation sort of a stage where I will confess that I want to be an actor (which I don’t) and win Oscars (which I don’t) OR I find the way Sushma Swaraj speaks to be very aphrodisiacal (which I don’t) but I will tell you something very subtle and boring about me. So, do not expect fireworks. Here goes:

  1. I like toilet rolls with small Braille like dots on them. You can find loads on them in Big Bazaar. When I sit in Auguste Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ pose every morning, I love to run my fingers on the dots on the toilet roll. I imagine someone has left a secret message on the roll and I try to decipher it by running my fingers over it. The-treasure-is-in-a-house-which-is-on-the-darkest-cloud-at-the-end-of-the-world. That kind of messages.
  2. I like houses with all the furniture and every essential commodity in them but devoid of any people. I roam around and visit every room, briskly touching things, rubbing memories off them. I imagine as if everyone in the world has died in a nuclear attack and I am the last survivor. This is a stranger’s house and I have entered it to see if I can find some food. Sometimes I try to see my own house through the eyes of a stranger. It is a funny feeling.
  3. I like looking at people when they are not aware that I am looking at them. I hide myself and enjoy their expressions – happiness, despair, plain sadness, time travel, introspection. Our faces are like poetry. They say a lot when they are alone or when they think they are alone.
  4. I watch movies when I read books. I wear my director’s cap and choose a star cast. It is a mix of Bollywood and Hollywood actors. I give them costumes, makeup, sets, outdoors, background score, expressions, voices and then I sit back and enjoy the movie. I am probably the only director who has reels of hundreds of movies stacked up in his brain – the movies only he could see.
  5. I love to see Geet sleeping next to me. I find comfort in her rhythmic breathing. I could tell when she is drowning farther in the ocean of sleep by the way her breathing becomes deeper. I could tell when she is dreaming when I see her eyeballs moving here and there beneath the canvas of her eyelids. I could tell that the dream is good when she smiles.
  6. I like to surround myself with mountains. Call it genetic because Mom was born on hills but I find a strange comfort in being dwarfed by peaks. They turn into giants surrounding me, protecting me in their valley. And I find vehicles moving on twisted roads on those mountains equally entertaining. They are like ants running on the cloaks of those giants. Imagine what would happen if they ruffle the cloak?
  7. I like dark clouds. I do not like rains that much but I like to stare at the shades of grey and whites rushing past in the sky. They are like layers and layers of water flying in the air. I feel like a fish standing under them. Is that how a fish feels when he looks at the layers of ocean above him?

Hopefully, I would not come across a loony after reading these 7 facts and you will not throw a stone at me when we meet?

I am supposed to pass the award to a few bloggers whose blog I love to read and who can now continue the cycle of pasing the award. Congratulations to everyone. This is a big honour, something similar to getting my autograph.

Here they are –

R’s Mom

GODYEARS

Some facts, Some Nonsense

The Shooting Star

This and That

The boy with orgasmic hair

nce upon a time, there lived a boy in India, whose hair were like that of a bear. Amateur barbers feared his presence because they could not comprehend the dense forest that grew on his head. They feared that they would have to use a magnet to find a scissor dropped accidentally in that lushness. Seasoned barbers approved his presence with a nod and a curt smile, just like a Gladiator would acknowledge a fearsome tiger. The boy’s viral hair growth was a challenge which they gracefully accepted. Some barbers would plead him to have a haircut more frequently because they could not afford to break so many combs and lose so many customers and spend half their day serving him.

The boy was not sure whether to pity the barbers or laugh at them. Their hands would go numb snip-sniping as the boy’s locks fell like trees falling down to make way for cities. Sweat would drip from their brows and stain their underarms. Sometimes, the boy would admire his hair as he stood in front of the mirror, moving his neck here and there and tossing them like noodles tossed in large bowls in street food stalls. He would run his fingers through them and feel that part of his body where sunlight never reached (his scalp that is). Sometimes his fingers would get stuck and he had to untangle them.

Then one fine day, in the midst of a collective barber-ist-sigh-of-relief, the boy left for Manchester. There was a celebration in his locality that day. The Barbers gave free haircuts to everyone.

The barbers in Manchester did not use scissors to cut his hair. They used trimmers and would just ask for the attachment comb number before mowing down his hairs as if they were grass gone wild in a lawn. What surprised the boy was that in a country where an alarming number of men were bald or were going to be bald soon, not a single barber praised his hair. They were so full of themselves, jabbering about their life all the time as they trimmed his hair to vapid styles.

A year later, he got married and his wife moved in with him. It was that year when he discovered a small barber shop tucked in a corner of a road near his home. It was run by three she-barbers and he had the privilege of getting serviced by all three of them.

 on’s Encyclopedia

The first she-barber who sheared his hair was a slim, handsome woman. She had black hair and black eyes. As she cut his hair, she told him about her son Mike who was nine years old. She talked so much about him that by the time she was done with the boy, he knew that little Mike had a mole on his left butt and his second molar was making its bucket list. He knew that Mike loved to play basketball and hated onions. He knew that Mike was learning Judo and loved Shrek. The boy was now having a feeling that he had known Mike ever since his mother pushed him out of her body. The she-barber also asked him about India and how she hated Manchester’s rainy weather. The boy invited her to come and live in 45 degrees in Indian summers. 

 rimming fingers

The next time the boy went to the shop, he found a smiling, chubby blonde waiting to slice his hair. By this time, he have had enough of trimmers and those ughhh haircuts that he asked her to use a scissor. She blinked and stared at him as if her had asked her to use some alien technology. She obliged and soon the familiar snipping sound of the scissor filled the ears of the boy. He closed his eyes to treat his eardrums. The sound of “Oh Shit!!!!!!” brought him back to reality. He opened his eyes and found that the she-barber number 2 had snipped her own finger and was dripping blood all over the floor. The boy had an impulse to laugh out loud and roll on the floor holding his stomach but he controlled it and asked her to put her finger in running water. He asked her not to use the scissor anymore after she bandaged her finger but she insisted. He held his breath till she finished because he was expecting his blood smeared ear to fall in his lap anytime.

 y Orgasmic Hair

She-barber number 3 was a beautiful young woman beaming at him as he entered the shop. Her eyes twinkled as she laid them on him. As the boy settled on the seat, she ran her fingers in his thick hair. She did it again and again and again till the boy started to worry that she will keep doing this for the rest of her life. He cleared his throat and she said – “Your hairs are soooohhhh thick!”. He smiled. It was after such a long time that someone had noticed his hair. She kept running her fingers in his hair as she snipped them slowly and kept repeating this at regular intervals.

“Your hairs are soooooooohhhh thick!!!”

“Your hairs are sooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhhh thick!!!”

He was sure she was having multiple orgasms by just running her fingers in his hair and he was alarmed by it. Then she started talking to him and asked him about his hobbies.

“I watch a lot of movies and read books,” he said.

“Wow! Me too! I go for movies on weekends. Your hairs are sooooooooohhhh thick!”

“Great! I usually roam around in the City Center, watch a play at times.”

“Do you party on weekends? Go out or something like that? God! Your hair are sooooooohhhhhhh thick!!!”

“Sometimes.”

The boy knew where this was going. He was now supposed to ask her out but he kept his trap shut and the moment passed.

 ater when the boy reached home and told his wife about his adventures, she stared at him for a few seconds.

“Why didn’t you tell her that you are married?” She asked.

“What?!? When a girl is running her fingers in your hair, biting her lips and moaning that your hairs are soooooohhhhhh thick, you do not tell her that you are married. That is very rude.”

“She was not biting her lips,” his wife said.

“You were not there.”

“You would not have missed that detail in your first narration. Who else was there in the shop?”

“Ahem. Just the two of us.”

Silence.

“I love you baby,” the boy said.

“I hope so!”

It took a few days for the boy to bring things back to normal in his house but he never went back to that particular shop again. His wife always gave him a peculiar look when they passed it but always found him concentrating at the ducks and rowboats in river Mersey which ran under the bridge next to the shop.

A picture of the frozen river Mersey which the boy took as he and his wife passed the shop and when she gave him ‘that’ frozen look.

[Images from 1, 2, 3, 4]

The vestige of Independence

Image from Google

It is again that time of the year when my Facebook wall will be filled with done-to-death wallpaper wishes for Independence Day.

There will be photos of our flag fluttering like Asha Parekh’s eyelashes with “Jai Hind” smeared all over it (over the flag not the eyelashes).

There will be photos of India’s map covered with Saffron, white and green as if while playing with his ball (Earth), an alien giant playfully smeared India with those colours and finally provided us another way to distinguish between Northies (orange skinned) and Southies (Green skinned).

There will be pictures of Mother India leaning over a map of the nation, with her head resting over Kashmir, her foot in the south and her left hand holding a trident plucked in the ass of the Eastern populace (symbolic of how the rest of India treats them) and her right hand raised as if trying to slap us for freeing her and chaining her again (We mistake it as a hand raised in blessing because we love making mistakes. Look at Manmohan Singh)

There will be pictures of young, semi naked army men displaying their oily, expressway-ish chests and their 3X2 matrix abs with ‘Proud to be an Indian’ photoshopped over their collective crotch.

There will be some Congress bashing facts (nothing is complete nowadays without it as it is the garam masala of our dish of frustration) and there will be poems on national integration intended to bring tears to our eyes and failing (the fact remains that the only thing which brings tears to our eyes after 65 years of independence is Onions. Because of their price).

And as if that was not enough, there will be people liking the pictures and putting comments like – ‘I m soooooooooooooooo proud 2 b an Indian 2day’ and ‘Jay Hind’ and ‘I ❤ ❤ my India!!!!!!!!!!!!!’, especially on the picture of the semi naked army men.

And if that was not enoughily enough, there will be people writing collective messages to their friend list saying – ‘Happy Independence day’ and will get amazingly creative replies like – ‘Happy Independence to u 2 Dude!’ instead of bland ones like – ‘What fuc*ing Independence?’.

We have reached a stage where patriotism can be measured by your Facebook posts. The percentage by which a nation is patriotic could be calculated by the vain messages shared by its self-centered and me-first population over Facebook. So hypothetically, according to Facebook, Indians are 99.99% patriotic. Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh would have given a high-five to each other if they would not have known better. They are probably having a *face-palm* session in heaven and gaping at the mess they have created.

But let’s not talk about 1947. The moral of the story of our independence was that after getting their land back, people divide it and kill each other. So you better be on the right side of the line. Anyways, coming back to modern India and leaving aside mundane topics like corruption, acid throwing competitions, people dying of hunger, erosion of the thin line between rivers and sewers, malnutrition, random men squeezing butts of random women in dark alleys to teach them about culture, let’s talk about exciting stuff.

I was wondering if Poonam Pandey will pose nude on our Independence Day with the tricolor painted on her body to cheer us all up after Manmohan Singh finishes his speech which will be basically him staring at the bulletproof glass in front of him for one hour. Oh! The uproar after that is so maliciously exciting, isn’t it? And it will be so cute to see Sonia Gandhi running to cover up Manmohan’s eyes as Poonam walks up the dais.

I was also wondering which done to death patriotic movie will be done to death again this year. We have so many classics to choose from:

  • Gandhi (the only Hollywood movie in which Indian actors did not play snake charmers, beggars and kings)
  • Shahid Bhagat Singh (All 4.5 versions of it)
  • Gadar (don’t we all love the way Sunny Deol screams his way in and out of Pakistan with a handpump in his hand and saves a constantly pouting Amisha?)
  • Swadesh (The only movie in which SRK didn’t bleat)
  • Mother India (in which Nargis and Sunil Dutt fell in love while playing mother and son)
  • Purab Paschim (The only attempt in the history of Bollywood to pass an actress (Saira Banu) as blonde))
  • Kranti (the only movie in Bollywood with an erotic baby delivery scene because of the way Hema Malini moans while popping him out)
  • Karma (where Dilip Kumar displayed Olympics winning capabilities as he etched a map of India on a wall with bullets and the villian pissing his pants somewhere in Madhya Pradesh)
  • Border (I cannot forget the scene where Pooja Bhatt sucks a mango as her left eye shrinks to nothingness and then Akshay Kumar sucks a mango too, touching his inner left cheek with his inner right one.)
  • Lagaan (A British lady falling for a stinking, filthy villager. Lucky bastard)

And it goes on and on and on. As we watch these movies year after year, we grow misty eyed and in the flow of sentiments, we log into our Facebook account and reaffirm our love for our nation –  ‘I ❤ U India! I really Do!’. We feel light after using Facebook as a commode to flush patriotism out of our body. How else can our conscience allow us to throw the wrapper of our burger (smeared with leftover mayonnaise) on the head of a sleeping beggar on the pavement? How else can we drive a car at 120km/hour and kill a man eating his last ice-cream on a footpath? How else can we pass a 1000 Rs note for a speedy driving license? How else can we justify our desperation, the mutual love we share with our corrupt machinery? How else can we enjoy a women getting molested on a road and then on YouTube?

If independence would have been a woman, she would have died by absolute exhaustion because of the number of times we have abused, molested and gang-raped her. Thankfully, independence is not a woman. It is just a notion, a feeling which surfaces on a single day every year and is buried the next day, a feeling which is confined like a bird in a cage called Facebook. It is just the picture of Mahatma Gandhi on that 1000 Rs note which we pass under the table.

Thank God for small mercies.

And why the fuc* do I end up writing serious stuff at the end of funny posts!?!!

Anyways, Happy Independence Day. Catch Ya on Facebook!

Luv U India! Loads!

Open letter to Karnataka state Women’s Commission chief Manjula

Photos of Molesters/Moral Policemen arrested after Mangalore’s molestation case 2012. The arrested are subhash padil (the mastermind, top left), ganesh kannur, taranath kannur, sharath padavingangadi, sandeep shetty, venugopal, tharanath alva, rajesh shaktinagar, chetan naguri, shailesh jelligudde, harish alava, sunil thokkottu, varun poojari, puneeth kudupu, and kiran poojari. Almost all of these attackers are from lower backgrounds, with either blinded minds or misled political ambitions.

Dear Manjula,

Let me congratulate you on your report which you submitted recently on the Mangalore molestation case.

Your report was a landmark report in many ways. Let me tell you how.

Your report reconfirmed the absolute lack of faith of a common citizen in our system. It reconfirmed the fact that till there are people like you in position of power, our country will rapidly adopt the ideologies of the Taliban and celebrate it too. It reconfirmed the fact that you are a mere puppet dancing to appease your political masters.

The fact that you report did an unbelievable magic trick by making the molesters from HJV vanish from the scene of crime and put the blame squarely on the boys in the party does not come as a surprise. We were expecting nothing more than a moral preaching and cultural preservation bullshit but you took the episode to a shockingly low level. The best solution you could come up with consisted of two steps :

  • Consider the whole population of India to be dumb.
  • Turn the boys in the party into drug addicts and someone who run prostitute rackets.

Job done!

Well, but there is a small problem sweetheart.

We saw the video.

Tell us Manjula,

Why didn’t your report probe the fact that a group of 50 shitheads forced their way into a house without the permission of people inside it?

Why didn’t it probe the fact that those 50 shitheads beat up adult men and women for enjoying a birthday party? Last time we checked, our constitution allows people to cut cakes on birthdays.

Why didn’t it probe the fact that those shitheads were hired deranged goons who stole things amounting to 2 lakh rupees from the location?

Instead, your report does not even mention those shitheads from Hindu Janajagarana Vedike (HJV). This Reminds me of that Vanishing Cabinet in Harry Potter. You are that Vanishing Cabinet.

Manjula,

Let us for a second believe your twisted logic that everyone was having sex with everyone in that party. Let us assume to please you that they were having an orgy. So what is wrong if young adults have sex? Why can’t your Neanderthal cultural sensibilities snap out of it? Why do you, the goons whom you are trying to save and their masters have to label it as prostitution? A lot of adults have sex with multiple partners before marriage. Our constitution does not give a right to anybody to go and punch them for having consensual sex.

Now coming back to not believing your twisted logic. If it was just a birthday party, then how can you turn into that vanishing cabinet? You have already given the hired goons a clean chit.

Instead, according to you, the boys attending the party were under the influence of drugs which the police was somehow not able to find. Did you dream about this possibility?

Instead, you have even blamed the mother of one of the boys for running a prostitution racket and suggested transfer of a police official who is the father of a girl who was there at the party.

Do you even realize what you have done?

Manjula,

Our regressive culture has done more harm to our nation than helping it. And people like you, who are in the position of power, who have the ability to change what is wrong, have been a huge disappointment.

You and your ilk has spread regressiveness in the name of saving our culture. Since when have our culture included beating up adults who don’t think like us?

You have given courage to every rapist and molester out there, especially those who are disguised as moral policemen. You have given courage to the throw-acid-on-her-because-she-wears-jeans brigade.

You have hammered another nail in our society’s mindset that there is no concept of justice in our nation. A middle class girl in a pub can be branded a prostitute just because she went there to have some fun. Her life is spoiled and the goon who slapped her is free to slap more young men and women who fall under his definition of cultural subjugation.

You have glorified the concept of controlling women. It is an irony because you are a woman yourself.

Just to tell you Manjula, the boys who were beaten up in that party and whom you have blamed for prostitution, have come forward. And, you know what, we are all proud of them because they are going to each and every college and telling students what happened to them. They are calling press conferences and telling the media about the truth. They are much more supportive to the girls who were molested than you.

Manjula,

We believe that it is not the moral police or molesters or rapists whom we have to fear. The people whom we should fear are people like you who nurture such monsters. You are the ones who let them loose on citizens of this nation.

And till there are people like you in positions of power these goons will spread like termites.

We know that you know that these goons have no idea about our culture, otherwise they would not have done what they did. They are just a bunch of losers with meaningless lives. The only culture they understand is that of Money and Power. And that is exactly what you are feeding them.

Stop suppressing the young generation of this country. You are forcing us to leave this country because of the disgusting way people like you are running the show. There are a lot of people who have given up the idea of coming back after incidents like these. Please do not expect us to bring in the cash to run the country and bowing to such tyranny as well. We are not slaves. We are sorry if your generation had a subjugated upbringing but please do not make us pay for it in the name of saving our culture just because you are jealous of the freedom we experience.

Yours truly,

An young Indian Citizen.

How to enjoy Monsoon in Gurgaon

Monsoon is such a cheerful season in India. We might say that it is especially auspicious for farmers who spend half of their lives looking at the sky like wolves during a full moon and develop serious neck ailments in the process but monsoon holds a special place in the hearts of city folks too who are oblivious of farmer suicides, droughts and food grain wastage and keep wondering why the middle class is in a perpetual state of inflation.

The slick dwellers of NCR have a special place for monsoon in their hearts. If you compare Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon, then Gurgaon wins hands-on just for the sheer brilliance of the way monsoon water is utilized for the entertainment of the people living and working here. Ever since I have witnessed the first downpour here, I am all praise for the Gurgaon administration for developing such unique ways to keep the mentally and emotionally bruised citizens happy.

Waterfalls and Free Car wash

Now if you have been to Gurgaon, you will know that NH 8 to Jaipur passes through it and most of it is elevated. So a lot of IT and non-IT slaves and masters pass under the highway to reach their camps. Any short-sighted administration would have put holes on either side of the highway and put pipes to the ground and into the drains so that any rainwater collecting on the highway can be drained out but Gurgaon administration are smart thinkers. We do have holes here but no pipelines. So when it rains, we see serene, multiple, equidistant waterfalls pouring gallons of water on the worker bees trying to pass below it. It is such a beautiful sight that you would be tempted to run under the waterfalls with a Liril soap in your hand. And it acts as a car wash as well. If you align your car in the correct position, you could pass it under a number of waterfalls and get it cleaned free of cost.

River Rafting

You can very easily come to the conclusion that there are no drains in Gurgaon by the near flood like situation after a five minute downpour. You will see wild rivers running on the roads trying to find a hole to get into and failing miserably. The situation is so overwhelming that it can give Rishikesh a run for its money for water sports. You can raft your way to your office, you could swim and be healthy or you could splash water on each other and sing Tip-tip-barsa-paani. Now what better start of the day?

Lovely Beaches

You can buy beach recliners and relax on any of the footpaths (if they are not already taken up by auto-rickshaws, cars or trucks) in a soothing man made beach simulator. As water is clogged in heaps on both sides of the roads, any vehicle which passes by will create artificial ripples similar to waves lapping the shore. You can chai-chapa-chai-chapak-chai with your loved one as the waves touch your feet and give you a romantic ambience. Please ignore the vehicular smoke and occasional mud splashes on your face and do not expect a starfish or sea-shells to wash ashore. There is a limit to which the Gurgaon administration can be imaginative.

Canoe and picnics

Now if you are one of the very few lucky ones who have purchased a ground floor flat in Gurgaon, you can enjoy a lake side family picnic right in your drawing room after it is flooded with rain water. You can buy a canoe for your kid that he can row around as you play cards with your wife on the floating sofa and eat sandwiches. You can skip pebbles on the lake, catch earthworms and play collect-cans-and wrappers (the person who collects the maximum amount of garbage floating in your house with the rainwater wins). After this, you can go and stand under the highway and take a bath under the waterfall.

Lessons in Patience

If you stand next to a road in Gurgaon and scream ‘rain’ four times, there will be a traffic jam in seconds. The Gurgaon administration has tactfully created very narrow roads all over the city so that they could conduct their own free of cost ‘art of living’ programme. A few years back, I got stuck in such a jam for seven hours – waterless and appleless. It was such a profound lesson in patience that I thank the administration of Gurgaon till date with humble tears in my eyes. You realise how important this lesson is when you reach your office and are surrounded by morons.

It has been such an enriching and entertaining experience working in Gurgaon. There are very few cities in the world where rain water evaporates instead of getting drained. There are very few cities who look after their citizens so passionately and with such care. I haven’t talked about the electricity situation here which is another programme under ‘art of living’ OR the fact that a lot of people go to malls to brush their teeth and take a bath because there is no water in their house. I am specially covering monsoon here.

And lo! As I finish this post, the heavy downpour has started again. Time to go and enjoy a few of the attractions!

Wall of Disgrace

I have started a new initiative on Facebook called – Wall of Disgrace.

This Facebook page will contain photographs of Molesters, Rapists, Moral Policemen, people indulging in victim blaming and people who shove any incident of crime against women under the carpet.

This page is created for the sole purpose of publically shaming such people and to let them know that they are the termite who is eating up this nation. This page is to let them know that we strongly disagree with their thoughts and will oppose them with all our might. This page is to let them know that no one has the right to take away the dignity and self-respect of an adult.

The page will also feature links to relevant posts and news articles on women rights, posters and banners.

I have already rolled the ball and the pictures of the Guwahati Molesters and a few people in position of power who indulge in victim blaming are on the page. Coming up next are the photographs of the Mangalore molesters from Hindu Jagarana Vedike (HJV) who garbed as Moral Police and molested girls enjoying a birthday party.

Please go ahead and like and share this page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wall-of-Disgrace/423174067724613

A link to the page is also available on the sidebar of this blog.

I would also require some volunteers who would like to share the responsibility of maintaining and updating the page. Please mail me at mashedmusingsblog@gmail.com if you would like to contribute or provide suggestions.

The Liquefied Indian

Sometimes when the doors of the Delhi Metro swoosh open and you get out, you get this beautiful sight of people standing on either side of the door, waiting patiently for you to get down. You feel like Moses, who has just parted the Red sea. Unfortunately, it’s not the long lost virtue of patience making a comeback but a guard with a whistle on each of the door, who is responsible for the shockingly sensible behavior. You have to be the first one to descend the coach to live in this utopia. If you have the misfortune of being the last one, then the red sea will rush towards you like a broken dam and you will wish for a wooden staff to hit each of the droplets on their head. It looks like osmosis and reverse osmosis happening simultaneously. Liquid rushes in and liquid rushes out. We don’t walk. We flow.

Living in India sometimes feels like being a liquid in a cistern. When someone upturns the vessel, we all rush in to take the shape of whatever we are upturned into.

When we form long queues outside counters, the lines start multiplying. It is as if the empty spaces between the lines are too much to bear and suddenly the main branch of the river sprout out distributaries which then continue their journey towards the ocean counters. There is a ladies distributary, sometimes a senior citizens distributary while the main male river watches impatiently.

When we drive on roads, nothing can come close to the miracle of creating 8 lanes on a 4 lane road other than the creation of the universe. The cars squeezed so close that if there is an Autobot war in the middle of the road, no one would stand a chance of opening their doors and running. Everyone will die sitting in their cars watching as a huge Autobot feet crush them or complicated weapons turn them into a sandwich (But wait! That happens only in America, right?). And did I mention motorbikes? They are like those ocean currents flowing inside large oceans. They twist and turn and have a life of their own, spilling on footpaths and broken terrains.

When a lift opens in your office, you see the desperation in the eyes of the people trying to get in. There is no guard with a whistle because they thought software engineers were sensible. The dam is broken and floods the door. You look at the tsunami and feel like parting it with a scream but you stand and stare at it. It parts under your gaze. The feet of a few defiant waves are crushed under the sole of your shoe. Ooh! Aah! Ouch! Am I supposed to fly over you?

Go to the canteen in your office and the tea counter is brimming with humans, buzzing randomly without any queue. As the tea is poured in cups, you witness acts of bravery where people scoop away cups with the dexterity of jewel thieves, sometimes burning their hands by the falling tea. You witness acts of treachery where software engineers plot like mother-in-laws to break through the crowd and position themselves at the correct angles to reach the cup at the right time. It is in our blood, you remind yourself and laugh. Education has nothing to do with it.

Go to a popular temple and you will be pushed and pulled alongside the crowd. You do not have to walk. Just go with the flow and soon you will feel like water flowing through an intricate labyrinth of canals. You will not even realize that the deity that you have come to see with such devotion has whirled past you as you churn in the whirlpool.

And where else would you find people hanging out of trains, buses and shared auto-rikshaws? People try to take the shape of any available vacant space. They are allowed to sit on top of the trains and buses. I too have traveled in a bus numerous times looking like the alphabet S. Those times are over but for how long?

We have lost our patience. There are so many of us cramped in so little that it is suffocating at times. We want to rush out of it, like ants rushing out of their nest if you flood it with water. Our numbers have turned us aqueous. We have stopped balancing moralities. When I hear honks blaring, I hear despondency, I hear death of composure, I hear a silent human cry like that of a bat. We all want to get home quickly because there is so less time to share with our family. There is so less time that we start defying logic. Cars don’t fly. You have to let the people come out of a lift before you get in. Multiple lines will not make it faster. Devotion needs perseverance.

How did we come to this? Why did we multiply like spiders with such lassitude towards the future? Why did we create this monster for our children to bear? It is a terrible feeling to imagine the time when we will overtake China in population. When we think about the future, we imagine order, calmness. But we all know that will not be our future and it is an uneasy, terribly terrifying thought.

The dam is broken and we are rushing forward with all the power of destruction we could muster.

Open letter to the Indian film industry

Dear Indian Film Industry (IFI),

I am writing this letter with a heavy heart. There was a time when I loved you like crazy. Now all I feel is apathy. There are times when you still overwhelm me, but such times are like those solar eclipses. Rare.

IFI,

Consider this scenario – The city is taken over by zombies. They are killing humans and terrifying them. The humans are on the run, stuffing themselves in whatever holes they could find. Over time, the humans create barricades making it more and more difficult for the zombies to find a prey. Then one fine day as the zombies are sitting and twiddling their fingers, a human zombie supporter (who thinks zombies are the messengers of God and sent to make humans pay for their sins) opens up a cinema hall for them. The tickets are sold in minutes. The zombies fill the theatre and guess which movie is playing there?

A Zombie movie!

The zombies watch the movie with enthusiasm and go back out with greater vigour to hunt as many humans as possible. The zombie supporter is happy.

Now replace the zombie with an average perverted Indian male who has a brain development of a two year old Neanderthal and who goes into a theatre to watch an Indian movie where women are either objectified to glory or where Indian culture begins at one end of a sari and ends at the other. The already deranged pervert is deranged further. His misplaced cultural values are further misplaced; his firm belief that women need to be tamed like an animal is further strengthened.

IFI,

What do you think about these scenarios and the impact they leave?

  • Rahul and Anjali are college chums. Anjali is tomboyish and so Rahul never loves her but finds another seductive girl. Years later when God plunks the seductive girl off the planet, Rahul and Anjali meet again. Anjali has transformed into a Bhartiya Nari (true blue pastel colours sari woman who loves children). In the end, it takes the flurry of a sari by the pagli pawan (crazy winds) and the accidental display of Anjali’s blouse concealing that part of her anatomy of which Rahul was always unaware of, which makes Rahul discover the Indian woman in her, the woman whom he could love and dance with in rain.
  • There have always been Item numbers ever since Helen was discovered with extra long feathers on her head and back but nowadays if you leave all the leading ladies of Bollywood in a room and tell them that one of them will get to perform an item number in Salman Khan’s next movie, you will find loads of organs to be donated in 30 minutes and a majority of them will be eyes. Item numbers are the best way to parade women as objects. The filmmaker makes money and perverts get the kick to go out and fondle a woman after seeing an ‘item’ hanging from a rope amongst a horde of men trying to catch her skirt on the screen.
  • Veronica is a bitch. She goes to pubs, have sex with random men but she is lonely and has no good friends. Our Hero flirts with her, beds her and they are cool with their fun relationship. Enters Meera, the perfect Indian woman, and our hero falls in love with her. Girls like Veronica are just there to have fun. When Hero’s Mom arrives, he had to display Meera like a trophy because that is what every Indian mother wants – a daughter-in-law dipped in our creamy culture, ready to be devoured. The Hero wants this too because our rich culture is rooted somewhere deep in his ankle.
  • Adding more to Veronica – she goes to pubs and leads her life on her terms. And she is shown in a negative light. The director throws her at the audience like we throw a bone towards a dog and we lap her up. She gives us the psychological nutrition to believe that our culture still shuns girls who ape the west. Remember, we live in a country where we justify molestation of a girl who goes to a pub. In 2012. Veronica had to wear a salwaar-kameez finally in the hope that Maa would accept her. And Oh! it’s all right for our hero to ape the west. He can womanize and drink as much as he wants.
  • The actress have to flutter her eyes, bite her lower lip, sway her body, bite her index finger between her teeth and pinch the index finger on her left hand with the thumb and index finger on her right hand when our Hero is around. I understand blushing but this induces nothing but the strongest urge to *face palm*.

I am not entirely blaming our film industry for the way women are treated in our society and for our medieval mindset. That will be like blaming Pranab Mukherjee for replacing Pratibha Patil as the brand ambassador of SOTC. But he did play a part, no matter how minuscule. Our society is heavily influenced by movies and the biggest movie industry in the world should try to find ways to change the mindset of the society, not to make profits out of it. Showing women as ‘items’ and portraying any deviation from an ideal Indian woman as black are subtle dangerous projections which helps in strengthening the way women are treated in India.

It will not be correct to say that the Indian film industry hasn’t changed over the years. There has been a radical change in how we portray women in our movies by giving them positively bold roles instead of asking them to scream as the hero beats the villain to a pulp, all thanks to the new breed of responsible directors. But there is a darker end of the spectrum as well. In a bid to make money, the mainstream cinema has severely started objectifying women with an equal ferocity. The number of item numbers served every year is now more than the number of train accidents that happen in India.

IFI,

In a nation which is as tasteless without its sexually oppressing Patriarchal society as Maggi noodles is without its special masala, is it so hard to understand the repercussions of an actress picking up her sari, doing pelvic thrusts and heaving her breasts simultaneously in front of perverts who then go out and look at every woman in the same light? Who then take every girl who goes to a pub as ‘available’ and someone who will enjoy the touch of any Changu Mangu? Who then go out and search for an ideal virgin Indian woman acceptable to his family, no matter that he lost his own virginity years ago? Is it so difficult to understand that an alarmingly huge population of India is not mentally capable of enjoying such a form of cinematic entertainment without obvious consequences?

No, it is not difficult. You just have to look beyond money.

Crestfallenly yours,

Once a fan.

The Dark Knight Rises – Movie Review

It is rare that there is a pin-drop silence in the theater while a movie is playing. Usually there are people who are talking, giggling, making fun of one thing or another, people getting restless and banging your seat from the back and mobile phones ringing and being answered. It is rare that a movie commands your apt attention and that is what I witnessed in the theater as this mesmerizing last installment of the Dark Night Series unfolded. No one moved for 165 minutes.

The biggest challenge for Christopher Nolan was to at least match the benchmark of The Dark Knight. The absolute terror which Joker created in that movie will remain unparalleled in the world of cinema. This movie needed its own moments to make people forget Joker. I knew that if I would have missed Joker, this movie would not have worked for me. And I didn’t.

Set eight years after Batman disappears after taking the blame of Harvey Dent‘s murder, Gotham is peaceful and free of organised crime. Enters Bane and things go for a toss. I would not reveal the whole plot here as the movie connects to the Batman Begins at a lot of places, there are pieces of the jigsaw which fall into place, so it would be a good idea to watch it before going for this one.

There are a lot of sequences in the movie which gives you goosebumps, like the opening sequence in which an airplane is pulled up by a bigger aircraft, the first appearance of the Bat hovercraft when Batman is cornered into a dark alley, the moment when Bane hits the button and the whole American football ground caves in and cat burglar Selina Kyle driving the Bat Pod. Amidst all this mayhem, there are moments which gives depth to the characters, like the one between Bruce and his butler Alfred where Alfred tells him that he does not want to bury him and the one between Selina and Bruce where she tells him to save himself as he has given enough to the city.

Nolan uses three of his Inception cast members here – Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a Blake who is a smart police officer who inferred Bruce’s actual identity and one of the very few officers left on the ground (you will know what I mean when you see the movie), Marion Cotillard as Miranda who is one of the board members of the Wayne Enterprise and plays a key role and of course Tom Hardy as BaneAnne Hathaway as Selina is an interesting grey character but finally joins the fight against Bane and God! does she look sexy riding that Bat Pod. There was quite a lot of whistling in the theater when she knocks down the enemy vehicles with it. Christian Bale is the perfect Batman. He has that sadness on his face.

The movie is fast paced and constantly keeps you engaged. There are times when the scenes rush and you feel that the movie is trying to squeeze in a lot of things but you can ignore such times. A lot of credit goes to the background score too. It pumps up the events, creating an aura of terror. All the recent Nolan movies like Inception and the Dark Knight had exceptional background scores too. These movies can act as a case study as to how a good background score can elevate a movie to a new level.

*spoiler alert*

I found the graphics a bit patchy in a few places like a few shots where the missiles are following the Bat Hovercraft. We have seen better. Also, Miranda’s death scene was comical. She died like a Bollywood hero – closing her eyes and jerking her head.

*spoiler ends*

As the movie ended, people clapped and whistled and let out the breath they were holding. Take a bow Mr. Nolan for giving us this epic finale of the masterpiece trilogy.

Rating – 4.5/5

[images from Google]