November 27, 2012

Unidentified Flying Rice

Apalaa Bhattacharya

In the December of 1994 my grandmother decided that we should eat together at a make-shift dining table made by placing a plank of wood – I think it was the remnants of a door  – on two wooden trunks. The house had an abundance of wooden trunks, since it was my grandmother’s preferred way of storing disintegrating, old sarees and banged up cooking vessels. Trunks could replace any conceivable furniture and perform its function with the greatest ease - in fact, we hardly had any chairs. 

I could just sit on one such wooden crate and fancy myself a pirate sitting atop his treasure chest, sailing the high seas looking for land to bury his loot.

It’s not that we didn’t have a dining table, but the dining table was always occupied by my eldest sister’s Economics and Mathematics books, and my sister, picking at her cuticles and desperately trying to make it to “phust place” [first rank] in school.

The make-shift dining table was laid out in front of a window overlooking our neighbour Neogi’s house. We had a shortish wall between the two houses; grandfather used to say they never paid us their half for it.  

One December afternoon, we were seated at this makeshift table for lunch. I was facing the window that opened up to the wall between Neogi and us. Ma had just returned from Sanskrit University, where she was a professor, and was scurrying to serve the food while it was still hot. She plunged the serving spoon into the enormous vat of rice (bhaat in Bengali), and proceeded to pile it onto my plate, thick and heavy.

“Ma, I don’t want any more”, I said.

More rice landed on my plate. Being thin was considered a sign of ill-health, and fatness a sign of prosperity. For young women, the latter was also an indication of their eventual stellar child-bearing capacities.

“Ma, no more rice.”

Still more rice. If it was on my plate I would have to finish it, I knew – “All the starving children” and what not. Panic set in.

“Ma, no more rice,” I yelled, hastily covering the plate with my hands.

Ma was constantly overwhelmed – raising three young children on her own certainly wasn’t easy, neither was the long commute everyday between South and North Calcutta in the notorious minibuses packed with pick-pockets and other delinquents. My rejection of a fourth helping of the mass-favourite Bengali staple was too much for her to bear.

“Thik achhe” [“Fine”], she grunted, grabbed a handful of rice from my plate and flung it out of the window. She must have had quite a throwing arm growing up, because the grains of rice catapulted over the wall between Neogi and us, and a second later, we heard a horrified scream from across this wall.

We all went quiet for a bit, and then Ma said, “Chup chap taratari khabar shesh karo” [Finish your food quickly and quietly].

A couple of minutes later, the doorbell rang. Padmajhi – our maid at the time – was sent off to answer it. In those days, grandmother could add the jhi suffix (meaning maid) without it being considered politically incorrect. Padmajhi was an enormous cock-eyed lady who giggled incessantly. She taught me about menses. We later learned that she used to be a prostitute at the local brothel, which is how our maharaj (cook) knew her.

A skinny young man in his early twenties was at the door. He was wearing a white kurta-pyjama; the kurta had some grains of rice stuck on it. This was Neogi’s unemployed son – ‘Neogir bekar chelle’ (Neogi’s Jobless Son) - as we all knew him. He was a Political Science graduate; in those days you needed to be a doctor, an engineer or a lawyer to be considered human.

"Accha"[Okay], he said slowly with a deadpan face, “I live on the ground floor next door. I was asleep, when suddenly I was hit by some rice. Look” – he gestured towards the very visible grains of rice stuck to his kurta. “Did anyone of you throw some rice from your window?”

Padmajhi started giggling uncontrollably. Ma rushed over and ordered Padmajhi back into the house. “What? No”, she said, “it must have come from some other house.”

We were watching the proceedings through the slightly ajar door of the dining hall. My eldest sister had temporarily abandoned her study table and was there as well – her economics books and cuticles needed a rest.

He was adamant. “No, I’m definite it came through your window.”

Ma was non-committal. “Then perhaps our maid threw it. Ok, I am sending our maid to wash your clothes.”

“No, that is not necessary”, he said, “We have a maid as well; I just came to inform you.”

“Ok, fine” said Ma, and that was that.

The next day the table had mysteriously moved to another location in the house – one without a window.

“Eta bhalo” [This is better] commented grandmother.

We continued to use food as projectile missiles on occasion, for emphasis. Fortunately we kept our targets within the confines of our house. Neogi’s son started working as a private tutor and went from being referred to as ‘Neogir bekar chelle’ to just ‘Neogir chelle’

Padmajhi eventually left our job and returned to her evening shifts. 

About the author
 Apalaa Bhattacharya spent her childhood and school-going years in Kolkota. Then she moved to Mumbai for college, where she met a guy and never went back to Kolkota. She then joined advertising as a  Copywriter.

June 9, 2012

Top 10 Social Media Irritants

Daniel P Carey

1. LOL. Why on bigfoot's dick do people put LOL at the end of sentences that not only aren't funny, but cannot even attempt to be? I have seen things like: "Just woke up, LOL" or "I just ate breakfast, LOL". If you laugh out loud every time you eat breakfast you should get off Facebook and seek medical help immediately.

2. Women Pouting.  Seriously.  What on earth compels some woman to pout constantly in pictures on Facebook?  Waving a camera at some girls these days seems to immediately result in them sticking their lips up in the air, pulling a face like they are having difficulty with their bowel movements, and then pouting with all their might until they look as though they are being dragged, lips first, into a black hole, whilst trying to suck the meat off a chicken leg.  I'm no oil painting, unless 'Scream' by Edvard Munch counts,  but if I wanted to see something looking like that on my wall I'd go down the local taxidermist and got myself an aardvark (a pig-like animal with a snout longer than a pig).

3. Public Arguments.  Why the hell have some people decided that a public argument on Facebook is a good idea?  If you put it all out there for the world to see, later, you can't deny saying it.  That shit'll be with you for life; you'll be saying to your other half "I don't remember saying that, you must of misheard me" to which the other half will reply, "Well you posted it on my wall and 18 of your friends bloody 'liked' it, so I know you said it and I know you have been talking about me with your mates".

4. Defiant Status updates: "Yes I've been fat. Yes I've been skinny. Yes I've been a fool.  Yes I've been wise.  Yes I've loved.  Yes I've lost.  But no I won't change and no I don't care what you think" Repost this if you refuse to change and don't care what people think! Err rr r  no thanks, not only because I don't care if you won't change but also because you clearly do care what people think or you wouldn't have been posting this nonsense on your wall in the first place.

5. Spam.  “People are saying horrible things about you on their twitter feed. Click this link to find out who.”  To be honest even if that is true, ignorance is bliss so I'll give it a miss, and especially as clicking the link will undoubtedly get me a virus quicker than a pervert in Bangkok.

6. People who follow me on Twitter and have such bio's: 'When I get on my knees it's not to pray' or 'haterz, playerz, fuk dat shiz'.  Firstly, to the lady who isn't praying - I  assume she's gardening or talking to an infant - please don't follow me, I really couldn't give a shit that you're not religious; neither am I not.  As for those who put z's at the end of words for no reason, please also leave me alone; but if you want to follow someone, feel free to follow your teacher down to the library, pick up a dictionary and learn to fucking spell.

7. Poking people on Facebook. I can't see the frickin point of it. I say if you want to talk to someone then send him/her a bloody message, or if you want to be friends then send a bloody friend request, otherwise leave him/her the hell alone.

Secondly, is it those who poke you are never the people you want to poke you. It’s never the girl/boy you've secretly fancied for months that suddenly realises s/he has fallen in love with you, is it? Nope. It’s always the sinister oddball at work who spends far too much time hanging about the photocopier. I say get rid of the 'poke'. It’s really about as much use as a dissolvable condom.

8. The obligatory 'Like'.  Now this is more of a jealousy thing on my part if I'm totally honest, as I can spend a few hours writing a blog post, drop it on to my wall and five days later I've got about two Likes and no comments, whereas a girl writes "I just ate a potato" and five minutes later she's inundated with Likes and comments such as "I love potatoes too LOL" or "Ooh Justin Beiber eats potatoes apparently, ROFL."

9. Cryptic status updates.  The ones where someone writes an update such as "I don't know why I bother" or "Just when I thought things were going well, again" and then everyone jumps in and asks "What's up?", "Are you ok?", "Please tell me things are alright?"  To which, after luring everyone in like they were moments away from death, they respond with "Yeah I'm fine, just had a bad day at work".  A bad day at work?  If you're filling up everyone's news feed with such attention-seeking antics then you should at least have the courtesy of being held captive at the hands of Somali pirates, otherwise please keep your desperate pleas for interaction to yourself.

10. Boring Status Updates.  You know those people who update their status with things like "I'm about to eat some toast" or "I just saw a cat" or "It's raining".  Seriously if that is the highlight of your day then I advise you, “Quickly eat your toast, stick the cat on Ebay, put on a raincoat and go outside and live a little, as you sound like you are having a terrible life.”

About the Author: Daniel Paul Carey, 31, an advertising professional, lives in Beckenham, Kent, and works  in Central London.

Note:Any of you got a humour story you wish to share with readers of this blog, please send it to me forthwith, at

May 26, 2012

How to tell Indians from different states

One Bengali = poet.
Two Bengalis = a film society.
Three Bengalis = political party.
Four Bengalis = two political parties.
More than four Bengali's = Countrywide agitation to bring Ganguli into Team .

One Bihari = Laloo Prasad Yadav.
Two Biharis = booth-capturing squad.
Three Biharis = caste killing.
Four Biharis = entire literate population of Patna .

One Punjabi =100 kg hulk named Pinky.
Two Punjabis = Pinky with his bigger brother Twinky.
Three Punjabis = assault on the McAloo Tikkis at the local McDonalds.
Four Punjabis = combined IQ equal to one.

One Mallu = coconut stall.
Two Mallus = a boat race.
Three Mallus = Gulf job racket.
Four Mallus = oil slick.

One Gujju = share broker in a Bombay train.
Two Gujjus = rummy game in a Bombay train.
Three Gujjus = Bombay's noisiest restaurant.
Four Gujjus = stock market scam.

One Andhraite = chili farmer.
Two Andhraites = software company in New Jersey.
Three Andhraites = Naxalite outfit.
Four Andhraites = song-and-dance number in a Telugu movie.

One Kashmiri = carpet salesman.
Two Kashmiris = carpet factory.
Three Kashmiris = terrorist outfit.
Four Kashmiris = shoot-at-sight order.

Tamil Brahmin
One Tam-Brahm = priest at the Vardarajaperumal temple.
Two Tam-Brahms = Maths tuition class.
Three Tam-Brahms = Queue outside the U.S consulate at 4 a.m.
Four Tam-Brahms = Thyagaraja music festival in Santa Clara .

One Sindhi = currency racket.
Two Sindhis = papad factory.
Three Sindhis = duplicate goods shop in Ulhasnagar .
Four Sindhis = Hong Kong Retail Traders Association

One Mumbaikar = footpath vada-pav stall.
Two Mumbaikars = film studio.
Three Mumbaikars = slum.
Four Mumbaikars = The number of people standing on your foot in the train in a rush hour.

Blessy Chettiar, who said, “The Goan in me feels left out,” added this one:

One Goan: confessing in church
Two Goans: bar by the beach
Three Goans: rock band
Four Goans: Portuguese visa scam

Note: I have no idea who wrote this piece, but if anyone knows do mail me - I would love to credit the author for this rare humour. Also, do you write short humour stories, or would you like to try writing one? Send your story to me at

February 14, 2012

My Wedding Invitation

Hello Everyone,

Here's my wedding invitation. Please don't look for an attachment because there isn't any. My able advertising friends failed to meet the deadline, so I'm relying on my written words to persuade you to attend my wedding or my reception.

My wedding is this Friday, 17th February, 2012. Please don't ask me why it isn't on 14th February.

The wedding is in my girl's hometown Bhilai. For those of you who just know where Zurich or Capetown is, I would like to inform you, it's a humble steel city in Chattisgarh. For those of you who don't know where Chattisgarh is, seriously, fuck off.

If Bhilai seems difficult for you to reach, here's another option.

Come for my reception. It's in Dehradun on Tuesday, 21st February, 2012.

Monday is a holiday, at least in north India. Depending on how much you love me, you can apply for a leave on Tuesday and Wednesday.So you'll have a full five-day weekend, where you can plan a trip to Auli (a skiing resort quite far from the Alps), or Rishikesh, or anywhere in the Himalayas. On your way back you can attend my reception.

So that's the deal. A friend's reception and nice holiday in the Himalayas.

Please don't feel bad if you can't make it because I won't feel that way either. We all have our job pressures and deadlines. Even I've missed quite a lot of close weddings for exactly the same reasons.

Even if you do come, don't expect it to be the grandest of affairs. My dad says splurging on weddings is for those who have black money. And in advertising there's little opportunity to earn it.

Let me add there won't be any booze either. Just get drunk on your way.

And if you do get drunk, let me assure you there won't be a cheap-ass 'Sharma DJ', but an authentic pahadi dhol to dance to.

Alright then, please consider attending my reception, and if you decide to come, wear your best clothes and make me feel proud.

That's all folks.

Abhishek Deshwal

pahadi dhol – folk music of the Himalayan region.

About the Author: Abhishek Deshwal, or Deshu, a Copywriter, is from Dehra Dun. He worked in Bombay until recently, now is in Delhi. Note:Do you write short humour stories, or would you like to try writing one? Send your story to me at

February 13, 2012

It’s Scary Being An Idiot

Daniel Carey.

I am a movie buff I am going to focus this story on horror films.

Having written the above, let me just go and check the locks…be back in a moment.

Okay, fear is something we all have, other than Chuck Norris - the palms-sweating, bum-hole twitching fear that comes from being truly scared.

But what you can guarantee with all horror films, whether they are good ones ( Jaws/Paranormal Activity/The Blair Witch Project) or bad ones ( any 'Saw' film after number 2, Hostel, The Last House on the Left), all are packed to the rafters with people doing stupid things. You know, where, rather than all stay together to fight the killer, everyone decides to split up and do it on their own. If you started as group, stay as group. Once you've gone out on your own your shortcomings soon become apparent. And if that shortcoming is exposed to a knife-wielding maniac wearing a hockey mask, you are bang in trouble.

So I have put together a list of stupid or illogical things that happen in horror movies and how to overcome them:

1) People run upstairs rather than out the front door. If you are on the ground floor of a house and someone is chasing you with a chainsaw, or the head of your dead housemate, don't run past the front door and then up the stairs; try going out of the front door, legging it up the road, flagging down a cab, getting to Starbucks to have a coffee, until you calm down.

2) People offer lifts to those they shouldn't. If a bloke is standing on the side of the road asking for a lift, and he looks like his sister is also his girlfriend, do not pick him. I'm sure he won't mind waiting another five minutes for some other idiot to pull over.

3) People do things they know will lead to trouble. If someone tells you that saying something into the mirror a specified number of times will lead to your imminent demise, heed this advice, don't just jump up and yell Candyman five times whilst you’re doing your hair as he will undoubtedly turn up within about five minutes and beat your arse to death. My advice would be to get rid of your mirror, or anything that provides a reflection, just in case.

4) People tempt fate. If you have heard that there is a giant crocodile/piranha/alligator roaming around a specific lake, why on earth would you ever decide to go swimming in it? Get back in your car, drive to the nearest swimming baths. If you're lucky they may even have a wave machine.

5) People fall over for no reason. When a serial killer is casually strolling after you whilst you sprint for your life, watch your step as there is a 99% chance you will fall over something that in everyday life wouldn't send you tumbling. So that blade of grass that just the morning before you stepped over with no problem at all is now likely to trip you, so avoid it at all costs. And remember, at no point will the killer break into even a light jog, as for some reason, all horror movie murderers are lazy bastards, so you have time to watch your step.

6) People do things that are illogical. It's three in the morning, a man with an axe is chasing you, slowly of course, and you're banging on the door of a shop that says 'Closed' in the window. Quickly realise that you're being an idiot, banging on the window of a haberdashery at 3 am, how the hell would it be open? Just in case an idiot turns up looking to escape a mass murderer? If it was 17:31 and you can see the staff cleaning up, then yeah bang away, otherwise it's probably sensible to try and hide elsewhere.

7) People don't take others’ good advice. If there's a shark the size of a house circling you and someone says 'We're gonna need a bigger boat", take their advice, go back to shore, pick up something like a cruise liner or an aircraft carrier and return. Chances are, if you don't, one or all of your arses is going to end up as chum.

8) No one ever takes the advice of experts. You think your house is haunted and a ghost hunter/priest/weird man you met on the internet says “Whatever you do don't try to summon the demons yourself.” Don't do what they do in the movies and immediately run off, set up a Ouija Board, dim the lights and then start asking your mates 'Are you moving that glass?' It's 100% certain that they aren't, that it will spell out something scary, and then all of you will end up getting the crap kicked out of you by something you can't see, probably because you haven't turned on the lights.

9) The living dead like to bite people, especially the exposed flesh. So if you are under attack, don't walk around in a bikini. Get yourself some jeans, a roll-neck sweater, Doc Martin boots and ideally put on a motorcycle helmet.

And finally number 10) People don't questions about what they've been told even if it doesn't make sense. Take Gremlins for example, so you buy an animal that's certainly not your run-of-the-mill pet and the wise old Chinese man who sells it to you advises that whatever you do, “do not feed him after midnight.”

So rather than go home and break out the chicken wings, first ask when the hell 'after midnight' ends? Surely all time is after midnight. If not, then where is the tipping point? I'd want to be made fully aware that if I’m serving up a plate of chicken nuggets at half one in the afternoon that this was sufficiently past midnight and that, later, I am not going to be confronted by a monster intent on shooting me in the face with a crossbow.

It's just self preservation, people.

About the Author: Daniel Paul Carey, 31, an advertising professional, lives in Beckenham, Kent, and works in Central London. Note: Do you write short humour stories, or would you like to try writing one? Send your story to me at

January 18, 2012

"What I got for a Mcdonald's"

Daniel Paul Carey.

When I was growing up I had slightly protruding front upper teeth; nothing to horrific, but bad enough for kids to occasionally chuck out a 'buck tooth' chant when they'd run out of abusive things to say about the rest of my appearance.

My lower teeth also had some issues, as they seemed to be fighting to get on top of each other like a pair of wrestlers going for a pin, but rather than giving up on the Count Of 3 they stayed in the same place for 14 years. So when I got to about fourteen it was decided by my dentist and my parents that I was to get a brace.

Before I got my brace I was told I needed to have four teeth removed as the reason my teeth were protruding and sitting on top of each other was because they didn't have room in my gums to sit comfortably, so they were jostling for position like a bunch of grannies in a bus queue.

Off I went to the dentist with my Mum and Dad in hand as they promised me a McDonald’s for being "Mummy’s brave little boy". Thinking back, it amazes me how just the mention of McDonald's made me content to have a 6-inch needle in my mouth, 4 teeth removed and a metal rod placed where my smile used to be, but it appeared to work. It makes me wonder what I would have been willing to go through for a Burger King.

"Daniel" the dentist shouted. Up I jumped and gave him a wave that contained far too much enthusiasm for a boy who was about to have parts of his body removed.

"Lean back and open your mouth please" the dentist advised.

So back I went, laying down in the chair and opening my mouth as wide as I possibly could in the hope that this would mean the dentist or his assistant wouldn't have to delve too far into my gob. I was wrong. In they went, both of them seemingly in competition with each other about who could get the farthest into my mouth, and as they tried to shove every tool they had inside it I got the sense that my gob was quickly becoming a garden shed.

After a few minutes of this rummaging around, like he was trying to find his car keys down the back of the sofa, and after his assistant had stuck a small hoover in my mouth to suck up my saliva and anything else I may have been storing between my teeth after lunch, he leaned back and grabbed the needle. Well, I say needle, but this thing to me looked more like he was preparing to go jousting, and any minute he was going to whack on the medieval armour, jump up on to horse and charge towards my gums.

The dentist’s words, "Little injection, little injection, little injection" kept running through my mind in the hope that, although the needle was like a Marlin's nose, only the tip of it would go in, and then, everything would be fine. But it carried on, farther and farther and farther, until I was at a point where I assumed it had come out the other side of my head, and I was now a kebab.

Now to be honest the pain wasn't horrific. I mean it was bad, but I've had worse since, watching any Nicholas Cage film in the last five years, for example, but more the fact that this wasn't the only injection I was having, and over the course of the next hour I ended up with six. One on each side of my upper and lower gums, then one under my tongue and one in the roof of my mouth. By the end of it, not only was I looking like one of those guys in 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' after they get lobotomized, but I was also, effectively, turning into a kitchen strainer.

All the while the dentist constantly asked me if I was "Okay" whilst he continued to stab me with needles, like he had finally got the opportunity to work on a real life voodoo doll and he wasn't going to waste it.

Once all the injections were done and I was now just a lump of mash potato wearing a school uniform, the dentist went in with his pliers and grabbed hold of the first tooth he wanted to remove. "Are you okay?" he asked. With the injections taking effect my speech slurred, so I just did a Thumbs Up. Off he went wrestling with my tooth like Steve Irwin taking on a crocodile.

After half an hour the first tooth was out, proudly displayed in the forceps by the dentist like I'd just gone through labour and he was presenting my new born baby to me. He then moved on to Number 2 and repeated the process.

Once this second one was out, he declared I'd have to come back in a week’s time for the other two. I knew it would mean another two bouts of the Steve Irwin impression, and potentially another bout of me having more needles in my face than Hellraiser.

Anyway, back I went a week later and repeated it all again.

Even the promised McDonald's didn't materialise, as just like after the first time, the thought of having anything near my mouth was enough to make me want to cry into my cavities.

About the Author: Daniel Paul Carey, 31, an advertising professional, lives in Beckenham, Kent, and works in Central London.

April 9, 2011

Lemons Hanging From My Bumper

Kim S Macedo.

Ever since i was a child i've heard all sorts of superstitions. Probably because i was born and brought up in India where people believe anything they hear.

I grew up in Bangalore killing donnekatas (chameleons) because it peed on one of the God's feet and so was considered a dirty animal.

Another slimy-looking lizard had to be killed because, apparently, that lizard would grow up to become a snake. It was called the rani saap chipkali (queen snake lizard). This became a major timepass for all of us - being eight years old and an Indian i believed anything i heard.

Next, my friends told me that a creepy looking old lady will come on Amavasya (no-moon night) and tap on everyone's door. If she spotted any children outside she would kidnap them. So i was shitting bricks ever night.

Another story, where, on a full moon night a lady in a white sari would walk the streets asking people for a lift. And the only way you could tell whether this lady was a bhoot (spirit) was by her feet. If they were facing backwards, you better hook it from there before she turns your feet around and you both start doing the moonwalk on a full moon night, backwards, in the opposite direction.

If you wanted to take a pee people would say "Don't pee under a peepal or a mango tree, or you'll get possessed." But if you do end up peeing under either of those trees and the ghosts are trying to take the piss outta you, they said "Better pee in a circle, all the way around you, so the spirits don't enter the boundary of your little toxic stream." So every time I peed under either of those trees I used to do it in circles, which later made me feel like I was playing holi with the ghosts, and the grown ups and ghosts wondered if I was a friggin retard.

Superstitions were associated with everything you did in life. If you broke a mirror, you'd have seven years of bad luck. Now the number of mirrors I've broken in my house; every time I played cricket and football I broke somebody's window pane; now i am counting my shit luck in seven-year terms.

I'd make the sign of the cross or an Om Namah Shivay each time i passed a church or a temple, otherwise i won’t be blessed with jack.

Don't have anything to do with the number 13 i was told. Imagine the guy who is born on the 13th, and it turns out to be a Friday, and his folks name him Jason...I for sure wouldn't want to have anything to do with him.

Never look at your bride’s wedding gown until the day of the wedding or it's major bad luck. As it is whether you look at it or not she's bound to nag you all your life, so don't look at it and add to your misery.

Then there is Karma - what goes around, comes around. You may as well believe in that because, if you act like a stud and go around banging women while your married, someday you'll see 10 comments posted on your wife's wall saying 'I loved the lingerie you wore the other night' with others saying 'me too', 'me too', 'me too', and then you'll have your undies in a knot.

If you buy a car be sure to bless it, especially if you live in Delhi or Dubai. With the number of road accidents happening, I've become so superstitious I feel like employing a priest to drive me around. And I'm glad I live and work in Dubai, else there’d be lemons, chillies and coconuts hanging from my fucking bumper.

Now comes “the don't cut your nails at night” superstition. It's not like your nails are going to grow two inches by 3 am and you become a werewolf. But your nails are long and ugly and you need to be groomed for work the next day, so you cut your nails anyway. The next morning for some reason you’re late to work, your boss is hopping on your arse, the shit luck starts and the superstition comes true.

One very common superstition is "Touch Wood" Anything you do or see or hear, you say 'touch wood.' If one of the guys says, “My car has never given me trouble touch wood,” he'll look around for wood, but in Dubai there's no wood except glass, metal and cement, so his friend, Mr WiseAss, says, “Here, touch paper, it's made of wood.” So instead of breaking the spell and proving this belief all wrong, he's just gone and screwed it worse for all of us.

And so dear people, I know that all of you are from India, so better be sure to forward this story to at least ten people.

Else, your arse is grass.

January 11, 2011

Everybody wants you to fall in love.

Fritz Gonsalves

The most used, abused, quoted, misquoted and twisted four-letter word in the history of four letter words. The only other four-letter word that’s less ambiguous, yet equally interesting is Fuck.

Love is ambidextrous. It can work as a suffix and a prefix. You can add love to hate and vice-versa and it will work fine.

Love to my understanding is an all-weather, all-terrain bike.

Everybody loves love. A friend of mine had an interesting point of view. She said, “I love the idea of falling in love.” Also very insightful – the stuff people believe in to make sense of their usually mundane life.

But enough of my technical mumbo jumbo; let’s get to the bottom of this four-letter word. Let’s figure out why Bryan Adams still sells, how Karan Johar made money and why Galib still, and will always, make sense.

Everyone wants you to fall in love: your friends, their friends, colleagues, boss, insurance agents, journalists, Shiv Sena, Eric Segal, Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, late MJ, etc. There is no escaping their cajoling.

The reason is simple: Love is good for the economy.

Money, greed, ambition, takeovers, mergers, Gordon Gekho, jargon-stuffed MBAs, Discount Coupons, Buy One Take The Whole Freakin’ Shop Free offers don’t really push GDP chart northwards – it is love. Love is the mojo that keeps the capitalist engine humping.

It’s simple. A guy in love is more likely to marry, settle down and have kids. Which means that he is more likely to buy a diamond ring, swipe his credit card for over-priced, yet tasteless, buffets, fly to Dubai for shopping, book a house, buy a flat screen TV, opt for front loading washing machine, have a club membership, sedan, hatchback, insurance policies, pay EMIs.

Love is the bait marketers use to swell their market share. Deodorant, burgers and fairness cream makers, they all want you to fall in love.

Usually love, from being just another four-letter word to a stomachache-inducing malaise, happens in middle or late school. Or first year in college for sure. I mean, if you don’t fall in love by college you need therapy.

Let’s start with the illusion of first love - Copyright of Eric Segal & Company. It’s awfully simple - boy meets girl, girl meets boy and they fall in love. Boy starts bunking classes. Girl starts collecting valentine day cards. Boy starts guitar lessons. Girl by-hearts Glenn Medeiros only-claim-to-fame song. In three months they realize they are meant to be. After six months they are sure that they will get married no matter what. By the end of first year courtship they are caught holding hands inside a movie hall (More often than not this accidental spy will either be the girl’s elder brother or father. In India it’s compulsory to have a bad temper if you have a daughter or a younger sister).

Moving on, probably one of them might try suicide by drinking phenyl, and survive, while the other will feel bad that he/she didn’t try the suicide first. They will live in agony for six months, then get bored, watch the next Karan Johar movie and move on.

College romances somehow fizzle out by the time you submit your final year papers on “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”, which happens if you opt for Organizational Behavior as your main subject.

Moving on, after college the love bug stops at corporate crossroads. Office premises are a massive pool of would-be lovers. You might not find Obama in the white house for a second term, but you will find love sitting crossed-legged right next to your cubicle. It’s a guarantee. All it takes to fall in love with an office colleague is an existing boring boyfriend or a colleague whose is worth staring at waist upwards.

Love is the new corporate focus. Though wasteful in the short-term, in the long-term scheme of things it keeps the balance sheet healthy. Married or individuals in a relationship are less likely to switch jobs, which keeps the cost of hiring low; they work extra hard so that their children can go to expensive boarding schools and are more likely to swallow shit in case they have a boss who likes to scratch his balls every time anyone gives him a worthy suggestion.

Even religion thrives on love, especially if s/he is a Roman Catholic, goes to church every Sunday, belongs to the same parish, sings Christmas Carols, goes for Confession, Novenas on Thursdays and has a cross tattoo on the thumb.

Summing up, love is tough. It makes you go mad. It makes you press the rewind button so many times, the damn finger starts complaining. It makes Boyzone, Backstreet and Westlife sound so cool.

It makes philosophers out of bankers. It’s worth swiping your credit card. It’s scary. It’s the highest degree of freedom. But it’s worse than bonded labour and I read somewhere, “If you are vulnerable, you’ll fall in love”.

I will just add: If you are vulnerable, you’ll either fall in love or end up a Jihaadi.

Choose wisely.
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December 4, 2010

If you can’t dream it, then daydream it.

Fritz Gonsalvez

“Pay attention! Come back from the moon,” barked the mathematics tutor while hammering Pythagoras’ theorem into my fiendish little brain.

I came back at the speed of light, but not from moon. Instead, from Centre Court, Wimbledon. I was playing in the 1992 Men’s Singles Championship and the only person standing in between the trophy and me was Andre Agassi. While Princess Diana, Elton John, Naomi Campbell and John Major were seen cheering for the tennis rookie from India.

Daydreaming is the ancient great grandfather of stargazing. It always existed. Then one day an obscure drunkard joined the dots in the sky, drew a creature that was one-quarter man and three quarters horse, gave it bow and arrow, just so it looked cool, and bingo, we have legitimate employment for nursery-failed academicians.

The Centre Court siesta happened when I was in sixth grade. And a lot of daydreaming has happened in between then and now. I played a sold out performance at Woodstock, raised important questions pertaining to national security in parliament, won a noble prize in economics, took part in the Indian independence movement, appeared on the David Letterman Show, commanded the Punjab battalion, coached the women’s hockey team and danced in the rain with a Bollywood bombshell.

And as it normally happens with kids who daydream themselves through school, it happened to me. When I graduated, I didn’t have a bagful of career options or at least not the lucrative ones. So the first job I got was that of a salesman for a cordless phone company. And boy you can daydream about anything but sales figures. My boss single-handedly destroyed my daydreaming socket. From, “Be a man” jargon to, “You can sell this phone to homing pigeon”, he brainwashed me and he succeeded admirably. I started hitting numbers and started believing in reality.

I was wrong. You can take a man out of daydreaming, but it doesn’t work the other way around. So once, while I was getting plain brain fried during a boring sales meeting, I unconsciously slipped into a daydreaming siesta. I imagined myself giving a speech after receiving the “Salesman of the Year” award and thanking the CEO for giving me his daughter’s hand in marriage. My boss caught me red-handed and started blasting me. It felt like he was reading my mind. He screamed, “Hey you? Pay attention.” But it sounded like, “How can you marry the CEO’s daughter, when I am still a bachelor.” Now I might be a daydreamer, but I am also the Honorary Secretary of “The Angry Young Man’s Club.” So, I decided to quit then and there. No one was shocked.

Fast-forward to early 2000. The dotcom bubble had burst but the pipe dream run was still going strong. Nothing exciting was happening, until I saw an advertisement in the newspaper that mentioned about a computer science degree from a reputed university in America, which guaranteed a starting salary of 23 lakhs per annum. This might not sound attractive now, but trust me, it was a lot more convincing back then. I mean it even mentioned the name of the guy who had managed to get such an obnoxious salary. For my daydreaming cells, this news was equivalent to snorting Grade A Cocaine; they started working overtime: First you’ll crack the entrance, then two years for the degree and then a 20,000 square foot mansion with a swimming pool, next to a golf course, right in the middle of Silicon Valley and an American supermodel for your wife - the great American Dream, now in India.

Now, the ”believe in your dreams” rhetoric can best be termed as a “psychobabble cliché,” but believing your daydreams is plain suicide. Especially when the course fee is equivalent to your dad’s pension fund. I took the article to my dad – he asked me whether I was his son. I showed it to my three close friends. They didn’t want to be left behind so they decided to pursue it. But the real reason why they agreed is even worse. Friend number one agreed because he wanted to get married ASAP, friend number two, because his girlfriend was doing better than he was, and friend number three, because all of us were doing it and he had nothing else to do. Now four sets of parents’ pension funds were at stake and the freight train hadn’t even arrived yet. We got through the entrance exam and joined the course. On the first day, the first lecture was on Computer Architecture and the topic was Combinatorial Algorithms. By evening all of us decided to quit. By next week we were home and my dad was minus a few lakhs.

The great American dream disaster shrunk my soul and wallet to miniscule sizes. A man who has nothing will always have a few friends who also have nothing. And all they can do is nothing. Or may be they can have a few drinks. And it was during one of those bingeing sessions that somebody mentioned something about thinking, writing and advertising.

“Hey, you can write?”
“Sure I can and so can a million people.”
“Yes, but they are not funny, you can write humorous stuff, you are a funny man.”
“Sure I’m funny! Everyone’s laughing at me.”

Then he explained to me how his dad’s brother’s youngest son’s friend had once worked as a writer in an ad agency.
“What’s the minimum qualification?"
“How much do you make?”
The money is really bad, but there is a lot of job satisfaction.”
“Oh. That’s reassuring.”

That night I couldn’t sleep. The spurious liquor kept me wide awake. I decided to give it a shot. My daydreaming cells weren’t at all warmed up to the idea. But my brain was playing the Rocky III soundtrack. So despite all the rotten luck I had I landed a job in an advertising agency. They offered me a salary that was slightly better than what immigrant labourers make in Ethiopia. The perks included irregular office hours, vernacular profanities, cheap hangovers, perpetual cock talk, no spine, no social life, no family life, no life whatsoever. I still took the job. It’s the only job in which you are paid to think. Heck you don’t even need to think. You can just pretend. And you’ll still get paid.

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August 30, 2010

Goodbye People

Abhishek Deshwal – his farewell letter to his colleagues

It might not really matter if I stay or leave but I thought a few words of advice might help (It might also prove that I haven’t entirely wasted my experience here).

Ok, the first thing which I repeatedly tell everyone ‘It’s only advertising and if anything goes wrong, no ones gonna die’. So stop screaming and making a deadline delay sound like the end of the world.

Make sure you’re earning enough. I’m a self-proclaimed history buff and I can show you documents from the Industrial Revolution that concluded if pays are less, people work harder. Since then, the theory has never ceased to be unpopular with corporations. Keep this in mind when slogging your ass in one place for sentimental reasons and compromising on money.

Cut down on smoking. You don’t want a heart attack at 35 right? If you think it’s cool don’t bother.

Try joining a late evening hobby. It’s better than getting frustrated at work and heading to the bar. It also solves two problems:

You stop heading to the bar.
You have a highly motivating reason to finish work early.

Now that I’ve said it, I’m sure it won’t work. You’ll give it up after a month or two. But let me tell you that when I joined evening swimming classes, every evening used to be heavenly. Enjoy it till it lasts. Even if it’s just for a month.

No matter how irritating people in the management are, force yourself to crack jokes with them every time you see them (Don’t bother about the quality; keep the best ones for your buddies). Our industry is small and people do a lot of reference checks. You won’t know how your best interview got fucked.

Do not concentrate on just earning money. I say this for two reasons:

If you get a three bed-room flat in Mumbai, what’s the use if you’re never able to spend time in it?

If you’re logic is you’ll give your kids a better future, chances are that generation will blow all your money on drugs. Keep them poor - they’ll be more serious.

Ok, an extra third one: Weekends in Goa don’t cost much. The train fare is 300 bucks and stay 500 per night.

Remember if you don’t believe in reincarnation, your only life shouldn’t be spent inside air-conditioned, suffocating glass boxes. Work in an agency with balconies.

A few quick ones to score better with the management:

* Carrying a good looking bottle makes you look really important (Don’t ask me how, just look around all those seniors carrying one).
* Also, carry a laptop from one end of office to another and back. It shows you’re really busy with meetings.
* Talk about your work a lot. Even if you feel it’s like bragging that you’re so good at.
* Talk about advertising a lot (Talking about movies is a lot more interesting but people high up are so busy devising new plans to fuck your weekends that they won’t relate).
* Try working late nights rather than early mornings (No one’s there early morning to notice that you’re working hard)

Lastly, all I ask is try not to kill yourself at work, now that I’m not there to show you the path.


About the Author: Abhishek Deshwal, or Deshu, a Copywriter, is from Dehra Dun. When he speaks, it's like listening to the hills.

July 19, 2010

Why I Left Facebook

Molly Schoemann, New York.

Because every damn time I signed on to Facebook my feed went like this:

[Girl you found distasteful in high school]: Has posted pictures from her wedding!

Click here to view her photos, while wondering if perhaps you misjudged her back in the day. Find photos distasteful, even for wedding photos. Feel slightly depressed, if also vindicated.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Is home from work!

[Guy you had several ill-advised hookups with three years ago]: Has compared you to his other friends!

Click here if you find this somehow enraging. Click around some more trying to figure out whom you have been compared with, but give up after a few minutes. Feel somehow violated.

[Girl you know through an ex-boyfriend]: Is a fan of “Bill Withers”.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Is cooking dinner!

[Girl you were good friends with in 7th grade and haven't talked to since then]: Has sent you a friend request!

Click here to accept her request with enthusiasm. Click here to send a message to this girl, summarizing what you have been up to for the last fifteen years, and asking what she is up to in return. Wait weeks, but never receive a response. Wonder why you even bothered. Feel slightly irritated every time you notice that she is constantly on Facebook.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Hates morning commutes!

[Ex Boyfriend you are no longer in touch with]: Has left a comment on the photo of [some girl you don't know].

Click here, despite your better judgment, to read the comment and look at the photo of the girl, so you can see if she is prettier than you. Decide that she looks kind of dull and is probably not as funny as you either. Wonder why you even care? Feel animosity towards ex-boyfriend for no definable reason.

[Girl you like but haven't talked to in years]: Has thrown an apple at you!

Click here to pointlessly ‘throw’ a random object back at her in lieu of meaningful communication.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Is listening to a great album!

[Hipster you are vaguely acquainted with and were always a little scornful of]: Has posted pictures from the album “Amazing Wild New Year’s Blowout Party that was Full of Sexy Hipsters Who Are Cooler than You”.

Click here to view the album. Judge all of the people in it because they are mugging at the camera and attempting to look sexy. Also, everyone is drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon and wearing trucker hats. Tell yourself you would rather have spent New Year’s Eve at home on your couch, which is good because that’s what happened. Feel slightly bad about yourself for unexplainable reasons.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Is a fan of “Pastrami”.

Click here if you are also a fan of “Pastrami”, because the zany, eclectic things we express fondness for help define us to others.

[Random dude you worked with two jobs ago]: Has given you a Martini!

Click here to ‘give’ a ‘drink’ to [Random Dude you worked with two jobs ago], because that constitutes rewarding social interaction or something.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Loves Grey’s Anatomy!

[Girl whom you vaguely recall got married right out of college]:
Is now listed as ‘Single’.

Feel overwhelmingly curious and slightly appalled that this information was posted on Facebook and now as a result you are pointlessly aware of it.

[Girl who you shared some classes with in college]: Has tagged herself in a photo!

Click here to view the photo and note that while it is flattering, it also looks very little like how you remember the girl actually looking.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Is hungry!

[Person you don't know]: Has left a comment on the status of [Girl whom you vaguely recall got married right out of college and is now apparently single]: “Hey! What happened?”

Feel even more appalled that someone would publicly post a brief, impersonal question like that; do they really expect an answer? Well, maybe. After all, what does [Girl who used to be married] expect, after announcing her singleness on Facebook? Begin feeling ill about the whole scenario.

[Guy you are vaguely acquainted with]: is listed as “In a Relationship” with [Girl you have met twice].

Feel faintly surprised at the match, but mostly indifferent. Wonder how [Guy] and [Girl] decided that their relationship had reached the critical “Change Your Facebook Status” level. Speculate as to whether they discussed whether or not to change their Facebook statuses at the same time, and, if not, wonder which of them did it first, and if the one who did it first worried that the other one would feel that it had been done prematurely. Feel slightly depressed by this train of thought.

[Guy you were close to in college but haven't seen in five years]: Has sent you an invitation!

Click here for details on this invitation to “An Awesome Show I’m in that is Happening in a City You Haven’t Lived in Since 1999.” Feel flattered by the invitation, but also confused. You’re probably not going to hop on a plane to see the show of a friend you haven’t spoken with since college. But you still feel too guilty to respond to the invitation with a “No”, so you absurdly put “Maybe”.

[Person you barely talk to who lives in a different city]: Is beginning to depress you with her constant updates.

Click here to scan through your Facebook friends and realize that very few of them represent actual, current friendships or even associations that you remotely value. In fact your list of contacts feels like an eerie social graveyard of expired friendships, badly ended relationships, and vague, past acquaintances you care very little about. Begin to feel depressed by the fact that so many people have passed in and out of your life without leaving much of an impression on you. Wonder how a website that is so meaningless, vacuous and shallow has become so overwhelmingly popular (particularly with younger generations), and what that means about how we view social interaction today and the direction in which it is going.

Pour yourself a real, actual drink. Note that you have a closer relationship with Jim Beam than with most of your so-called Facebook friends.

Leave Facebook.

About the Author: Molly Schoemann grew up in New York City and began writing humor and satire during her freshman year of college. She is the Humor Editor of The Perpetual Post( and is still not sure how she feels about social networking sites. Molly currently lives in Garner, North Carolina.

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July 9, 2010

Just The Kind Of Face You Make

Fritz Gonsalves, New Delhi

“Your dad suffered a heart attack, but he is fine now”. That was my friend calling me at 10 a.m in the morning sometime in April and that was the first time I made this awful fart kind of face.

I allowed the news to sink in and then called up my bother and broke the news to him. There was a 30-second silence and in all probability he was busy making the same face. The next I broke the news to my boss and teammates and in no time they all had the same look on their faces. At once everyone logged on to Cleartrip, Make My Trip and Travelguru to check for cheap airline tickets to Bhopal, my hometown.

By 5-o-clock I was 72, 000 feet in the air and practicing the calm-face look. But I failed miserably. The fart look has taken over my face. By the time I landed it was already 8.00. Dad was in hospital, so I drove straight there. Greeting me at the hospital were our family friends. I was meeting them after a couple of years and because I am terrible at making polite conversation, I had absolutely nothing to say. They took me to the ICU. I saw my old man. He was wearing an oxygen mask and was busy flirting with a Mallu nurse. He looked cheerful, as if he has just found a reason to live. I exchanged some pleasantries, enquired about mom and then got moving. Our family friends took me to the junior doctor and introduced me. Suddenly the same look came over his face. He explained to me the medical condition: “Your dad suffers from myocardial infarction”. I was shocked. So now, apart from a heart attack he also suffers from myocardial infrastructure or whatever. No dumbo, both are the same thing. He didn’t say it. I just figured it by the fart face look.

Now the serious stuff, the plan of action day, the ‘take control and get it right’ stuff. Tomorrow was that day.

The doctors were going to perform angiography and then if need be angioplasty and then if nothing worked, bypass. Now if one is really lucky, and trust me, a lot of heart patients are, angiography is good enough. The doctor injects a dye into the blood vessel and they’ll get to know the exact location of the block. The dye just washes the block away. But if you are not so lucky, which means the block is this mean kid who refuses to go to school, then they inflate the vein and blast it with an air bubble. The block disappears. That’s angioplasty. But if the block belongs to this hard-arse Jat family, notorious for illegally occupying your ancestral property, then it’s time to roll the drums. Bypass, Bypass, Bypass. I somehow had the intuition it was going to be Bypass. My intuition was right.

The next day I met the senior surgeon. And the first word that hit me was ‘saint’. The guy was as white as white cement. I mean apart from his jet-black thinning hair, everything else was white. It’s kind of reassuring when the Surgeon General looks like a saint. But his looks surely got my imagination working. We were given a bypass date, which was still fifteen days away. So I decided to come back to Mumbai for a week and wait, but my dad suffered another myocardial infarction and I ran back home again.

The surgeon decided to advance the surgery. But we still had one week. Now dad still had to kill time and as I’m still single and the private ward was full of caring, homely, unmarried Mullu nurses, he went right into business. No time to waste. “Before the surgeon opens my heart, I’ll make sure my son gives his heart to one of these nurses. Perfect union.” So whenever I was around he would deliberately call the nurse on duty and indulge in polite Mallu conversation. Soon enough, I was acquainted with Jincy, Lincy and Vincy. None excited me. But there was one nurse who had my hormones running and one night when Dad was fast asleep…well forget it, we had work to do … a bypass surgery.

So after another three days in hospital Dad was wheeled inside for the Father of All Surgeries – BYPASS.

Now, bypass is one thing but deciding on a bypass is no kindergarden stuff. So while Dad is busy getting his chest opened, I’ll talk about the things that go into it before the operation. First you have to decide the doctor and the hospital. Everyone I knew had a suggestion regarding the doctor and a hospital. Everyone suggested a doctor who was better than the one mentioned by someone else. Then you have to decide whether to choose beating-heart surgery or silent-heart surgery (I think they are self-explanatory). And finally the legal papers that you are supposed to sign. This basically states that you can’t hold the hospital or doctor responsible for the patient’s death. I signed it.

One of the funniest conversations I have ever heard in my life happened in the waiting room between two middle-aged ladies. One, whose husband was being operated along with my Dad and another whose husband got operated a week back. The woman whose husband was being operated was sobbing silently. Taking pity Mrs. Consolation comes and sits next to her and starts a polite conversation. This was tolerable, but in less than a minute she dropped in a bomb that turned Mrs. Sobbing into a graveyard. It sounded something like this: “Look sister, everything is going to be fine, but God forbid anything goes wrong, then you should think of it like this - that God liked him more that you did and so He decided to take him back. It’s such a blessing.” In flat 5 seconds the sobbing became wailing. Mrs. Consolation realized that she had committed something that closely resembled Honor Killing. So to cover it up she tried another line of consolation: “But you can always meet in the next life; you do believe in rebirth, don’t you? And sometimes the love is so strong that the spirit of the deceased doesn’t even leave. It stays with you”. Honor killing metamorphosed into gruesome first-degree murder and Mrs. Consolation was at it with a vengeance.

Finally after eight agonizing hours Dad was wheeled out. Apparently, the operation only takes two hours; the other six are for the relatives to enjoy first class agony. The bypass was successful. The saint was smiling. Even the husband whose wife bravely survived the honour killing was fine. And my face was back to being a face again.

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