August 9, 2019

Nuff o' These Beatles

Desmond Macedo

Fans recreate the Abbey Road zebra crossing photo to celebrate the album's 50th year.
Nuff o' these Beatles, oh say me
If they wanted to last so long
They should’ve done
More album n song.

Tired,
Listening to same ol' tunes
Tired, playing ‘em on guitar
Wife tired, listening to 'em
Shut me up, o play something else

Son gone so freaked
He left home n ran away
To far-off Dubai
To work, live and play

Now a days,
When I pick up ma guitar
And belt a song I'd like to
I hear the sound of window panes
Clanging against their frames

Gosh, it sounds so funny
When I do em slow-beat song
Their windows go a closing
To the beat of my songing

One morning, got up
Did Hey Jude out of tune
They locked their doors and bolted
Didn’t return till noon

They couldn’t return till noon
Coz Hey Jude’s a long song
If you don't get it right
You’ll do morn till noon

Twonce they shut their doors n windows
Twy to get some sleeps
Coz foolish me was twying to play
While my guitar gently weeps

Now,
John’s gone, so has George
Bury their music, oh say me
No, they’ll do 50 Years of Abbey Road
Till I grow feet, below my knee

50 Years Of Abby Road: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oru7dYjEem0&fbclid=IwAR0QFa-eIp1hHnPrjlT67uShjwBn-7UJ7RI0iJ5BbI0oQLpr4q20v4ZYtTs

July 15, 2019

Thinking On A Sewing Machine

They are known as Kitchen Towels, but the women who buy them never wipe their hands with them – they’re too pretty for that. So instead, they use them as oven tops, or covers for peg tables, or collect them to be given as gifts. Some never give them as gifts – they’re too pretty for that either.

I was stitching ½” borders on such kitchen towels, had been at it since 10 in the morning, and ‘hope to be at it till 5 in the evening, some guitar work after that, then buy a packet of milk, supper, some Velvet Underground on youtube, then a tumbler of milk, and instant sleep by 10 pm - no rolling in bed, no grumbling about the pillows, the ambient light, the howling and scowling tomcat desperate to mate, etc, etc, anything to grumble about when you can’t sleep,’ I was listing in my mind alongside the border that I ran on the machine.

‘The Kitchen Towels must have a mitred corner,’ Chief Seamstress had ordered. She showed me how to stitch one. ‘A mitred corner is when two sides of the fabric come together at a 45-degree angle to form the border,’ I remember doing a google on it later, ‘You can use this technique to create a polished look on many things like tablecloth, napkins, curtains and bed spreads and kitchen towels.’

Then I went over what must have been the real reason for someone to come up with this idea for cotton fabric corners: If you stitch the common helm at the borders of a rectangular piece of fabric, one corner will have three layers of the fabric in its fold, the next fold will have six, which makes them nine. Now nine layers of cotton fabric can be thick; depending on weave, thicker. Not many a tailor-model sewing machine can run over that thickness without the needle snapping. The fabric, too, tends to gather up untidily, and tear, giving the corner a shabby, torn look.’
  
I had asked Chief Seamstress the spelling of that word and she said she had only heard it at the Export Cottons’ office she had worked for, ‘Never saw it written anywhere.’ Nor would she know if it was double t or single, er or re, but I continued to try. ‘Immaterial point,’ I thought, as I neared the end of a corner on the border, and the dddrrrrrrhhhrhrhrh of needle halted, because Google could tell me that anytime, but when you’re stitching straight borders on rectangular fabric – a set job, once you’ve folded the fabric and aligned it – you tend to drift pleasantly and dwell on anything passing you by. If I were stitching borders on 6-seater table cloth, I’d have a 60-inch-length to drift along. But I would think of that question only when I was stitching borders. Once it was 5 pm, and through with the days’ work, I would forget the question. It was so immaterial.

And what I did later in the evening may never be exactly as I thought while stitching, but it was enjoyable, may I say ‘a soothing distraction’? to think along the needle going drrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhrhrhh into the fabric. If the fabric had a thick texture, I’d get a nice, muffled sound, like walking on snow, though I’ve never walked on snow, only seen it in drone videos that entered my email inbox, as muffled as walking on snow. I was folding the kitchen towels, another time, and another nice, short activity to drift, when I caught this one going past me, and returned to write it here, after I began writing this story - as muffled as walking on snow.

Thus I was stitching one day when I drifted, and remembered, I had a story about a 10-day week, titled Why Don’t We Have A 10-Day Week?

I didn’t like it. It was reckless writing, so I had written it under the character Dan Mullagathanny – any story that had the ability to stir up suspicion among readers about my sense of logic, I wrote under this character. I like reckless writing, and never mind readers, but this one I thought was abrupt, and it went it went like this:

It was a usual Monday morning in office and one colleague asked another: How did your weekend go?

On a Monday morning in most offices this is an FAQ. Why offices didn’t print a copy of the most Frequently Answered Answers and put it up prominently in their offices Dan didn’t bother with, but the colleague replied “God don’t ask. The weekend flew so fast I am left behind in Sunday. In the first place, Saturday flew so fast I was caught on Sunday morning at home holding a beer.

If I go backwards, I left office very late Friday night so the whole weekend got pushed forward.

And now I’m caught on Monday morning looking for a lazy breakfast of steaming hot idlis like I usually have on Sunday mornings. God, don’t tell me I’m going to be one day behind this whole week. I’ll be the only jackass in the office to deliver a job yesterday when asked’, the colleague ended her whine and grumble.”

The colleague who had asked her this question had long since left her company to join another colleague and ask him the same question.

But Dan Mullagathanny was thinking. It was a common experience these days in several companies - business was growing, competition was fierce, and 5 days were no longer enough for work. Consequently, working days spilled over into weekends and weekends spilled over into the next weeks’ working days.

Facebook statuses were a good indication how people felt about Monday:

‘If there were a delete button on the calendar, I’d delete Mondays.’
‘Why does Monday take the longest to end?’
Someone commented here: It’s also the quickest to start.
Another said, ‘If it wasn’t for snooze, Mondays would’ve been impossible.’

Dan wondered now whether a 10-day week, with 7 working days and a 3-day weekend would be a better calendar. In the present system work does not get completed, nor does the holiday. With a 10-day week there will be enough time for both. And work and weekend will be kept where they belong. Apart.

I called the people who print calendars and made the suggestion to them. I went on to explain: ‘A month has 30 or 31 days, February excluded. Within practical limits, how we divide those days into weeks is left to us. No one is interfering with the time the earth takes to go around the sun, or the earth to go around its axis, so it’s alright. And to avoid any confusion, we’ll keep rotate and revolve separate, ok?’

“Just think, a 3-day weekend with a festival or government holiday prefixed or suffixed, as is often the case these days, people will do more holidaying than whine and grumble,” Dan tried to convince his audience.

They were silent.

“Well, you won’t have people coming to office on Monday morning looking for steaming hot idlis,” Dan tried harder.

The people who print calendars looked as blank as a Tuesday morning.

Stitching borders on kitchen towels, or rectangular pieces, became a good time to review my writing, and another reason I didn’t approve this piece was, as I closed one eye to thread the needle, the ending - though I loved it, and was never going to change it - how many people would agree, Tuesday morning feels more miserable than Monday morning, with people wearing bombed-out faces.

‘So what is about stitching kitchen towels?’ I asked myself. ‘It is work that allows you to get distracted without making a mistake.’ I did make mistakes, sometimes, in the beginning, but then I got clever at getting distracted, I suppose. ‘And not just allow, you tend to drift naturally.’

‘It’s also a pleasant experience; as I said earlier - soothing.’

At this home we built in Lohegaon, Pune, we had a maid to do the utensils, and sweep and swab the floor, and when we saw her little son through the windows bouncing across the open ground, we knew she wasn’t coming that morning.

Scrubbing utensils was better than stitching kitchen towels – there wasn’t much as a mistake to make. You might just scrub a utensil twice from reckless drifting, but this is where I realised it feels soothing. Get into the groove, and you can scrub until your legs ache from standing. That’s all. You won’t ache anywhere from scrubbing. Most Indian women do the utensils squatting, so I imagined how happily they drifted about during this chore, planning that quilt from old sarees and bedsheets, ‘Take all the old and damaged utensils to the bazaar and see what I get in exchange; Limes are cheap, I heard, let’s go to the Sunday Mandi and pick up some for pickle; I don’t understand anything Vaishali learns in school, what to do?’ because this usually is the first task they do in the morning. 

And I began to call it Thinking Over A Kitchen Sink whenever the boy came bouncing across the open ground.

Scrubbing one or two plastic things, and I felt, ‘These things should be in the attic’… ‘the place where old women love to accumulate old things’ … ‘odd how old things have a tendency to accumulate’… later, I am on Facebook for a while ...‘the place we accumulate friends’...‘like an office, one place we accumulate a lot a friends'...'facebook is so ideal to switch to "auto function" and let your mind dwell on something else ... just keep scrolling down'...

And then I’m back to stitching kitchen towels around 10 in the morning, ‘because there are plenty of them to stitch for plenty of people to buy them aplenty, aplenty,' I chime along, with no consideration for logic, which, I have realised, is one of the nicest things about drifting while doing a chore - I needn’t bother with logic.

‘Why do they call it chore? meaning, ‘a tedious task, a routine job, monotony, drudgery’ I ask a bit loudly for myself to hear the question, as the needle goes dddrrrrrrrrrrhrhrhrh. ‘Why do I want to hear the question?’ ‘So I can hear those phrases and words drop one by one into the sentence.’

You think funny things while drifting. You think funny pictures.
  
The next day I am Thinking On A Sewing Machine, and I realise the entire opening office sequence in Why Don’t We Have A 10-Day Week is simply office folk trying to get know each other.

And a chore may not be tedium, monotony, routine and drudgery after all. ‘Any activity that allows you to drift can’t be drudgery. Any work that allows you to get distracted without making a mistake could be very useful work.

Ever cleaned methi? You can drift all the way to the moon and back.

What is called drudgery and chores may not be be drudgery and chores.
And they say sitting on the john gets ideas. I am no longer sure of that because it does not involve a distraction; you can’t miss focus on what you are doing there because you don’t need to focus; you can’t make a mistake there. Some creative people like to think it is. So be it. When you’re drifting you don’t see a need to get confrontationist, though, you might like to try out needlessly long frontationists, just for fun.

… the evening may never be exactly as I thought while stitching, but it was enjoyable…

We had a maid to cook for us, but when we wanted some good ol’ Anglo-Indian mince or cutlets or ball curry, I usually wielded the kitchen knives. Slicing onions, chillies, garlic and ginger, and then frying them light brown, did require concentration, but there were plenty of moments in between for me to set forth, loose. My mom was a good cook, and I clearly recall her having conversations with no one around while cooking.

So if the first half of Why Don’t We Have A 10-Day Week was about human interactions – office folk trying to get know each other - and the old plastic things that I find in the house should be in an attic, and Facebook is a place to accumulate friends, all seem to come together in the mince pot, with me turning the onions round and round and round and round ... that's when I slipped into Thinking Over The Gas Stove:
                                                     Tumble Out Of An Attic

It was a Monday morning and one colleague asked another, ‘How did your weekend go?’

The colleague replied, ‘God, don’t ask. The weekend flew so fast I am left behind in Sunday. In the first place, Saturday flew so fast I was caught on Sunday morning at home, holding a beer. If I go backwards I left office very late, Friday night, so the whole weekend got pushed forward. And now I’m caught on Monday morning looking for a lazy breakfast of steaming hot idlis that I usually have, Sunday mornings.'

More than a steaming idli, the colleague needed a pause right now.

'Don’t tell me I’m going to be one day behind this whole coming week. I’ll be the only jackass in the office to deliver a job in time when pipsqueak management executive asks for it “yesterday,”' the colleague made quotes in the air with her fingers imitating how pipsqueaks explained timelines, and ended her whine and grumble.

The colleague who had asked her this question had midway in her answer stopped paying attention to her, and left her company to join another colleague to ask him the same question, who let loose a similar whine and grumble, after which, the colleague who had asked the question was making a similar reply to someone else who asked her the same question, and so on and so forth, and so forth and so on, plus or minus a whine or grumble, it’d be a similar answer after the same question.

On a Monday morning in most offices, this is an FAQ, and instead of getting down to work first thing, why do people ask FAQs? Why does each employee need to know how the other spent his/her weekend? Why do people ask questions the answers to which they are so familiar with they don’t need to listen to the answers? Why do people ask questions the answers they have no interest in? Why are people asked questions they are not expected to answer? Why bother answering?

Point is, a good deal happens in a workplace that has little to do with work. Like human interaction. People like to connect with each other – talk, meet, react, smile, relate, a kind of verbal hook-up. Especially today. When they ask you questions it don’t mean they are interested in you. It could simply mean acknowledging your presence. Or filling the vacant space between two people when they meet: what do you say to someone at the water cooler? Well, it is impolite if you’re standing at a coffee machine and you don’t smile at another colleague there, isn't it?

These harmless social decencies form relationships – acquaintances, office acquaintances, team mates, ex-colleagues, alumni networks, friendships - all of which will end up in the mind as memory.
Only, memory now is more like an attic.

Those places where old women store things they don’t need, but don’t want to get rid of because they fear they may need those things some day, up to a point when they don't know what is in the attics, don’t want to look into them, everything there being in a mess and jumble, but still won’t clean it out, will only add to the mess and jumble.

All the people you work with end up on your Facebook Friends’ List. When you join another company, you get another set of FB friends. Likewise, you have two or three sets of alumni friends – those from your school, those from your college, and those from your advanced, specialization course.

In a place like Mumbai, all the people you travel with daily on the local train would be on your list. And in times like these, you also have another variety of relationships – those you never meet in hard copy; you only know them in soft copy – internet friends.

There’s a term for these relationships, expressly to make them sound scientific and socially necessary – networking – but this is often a disguise for accumulating a lot of useless acquaintances. Like the old woman accumulating useless stuff in her attic.

Notice people haughtily say, ‘I have friends on Facebook I don’t even know.’ The more friends on FB you have that you don’t even know, the more friends you are going to have on FB that you won’t even know. Periodically, these people complain about their FB friends and the vapid praises they post - their fathers are their finest role models; their mothers are the finest cooks in the world; their brothers are the most responsible in the world; their sisters are their besties; a trip to Velankanni changed their lives; Modi is best PM India has ever had, etc, etc, etc, but they won’t clean out their lists in just the same way old women never clean out their attics, but periodically complain about the rubbish in them.

Currently, they are running posts to beat FB’s algorithm on ‘who reads whose timeline, and how often,’ with the purpose of getting more people to read and interact with their posts, and make more friends.

It had gotten cool a while ago to have lots of people on your FB friends’ list just like how old women love to see a lot of things in their attics.

Years later, when two people meet and one says to the other, ‘Hey, remember, we met at a conference, then we got together on Facebook? what that person asking remembrances wouldn’t know is that he just tumbled out and fell down from the other person’s attic with an uncomfortable thud, full of dust and cobwebs, gecko scrambling out of his shirt pocket,  too dirty to touch.

For all the networking, we aren’t any more than broken pieces of wood, metal and paper in the memories of many people.

And that’s how this story came about. Not completely.

At halfway, I got stuck and went for a ride on my bike. I’ve done this before, often, thinking on a bike, to drift while driving, and get ideas for a story, or how to continue a story, or how to start an idea, or end one, or just get the details. And that’s how I got ‘the mind is an attic/memory is an attic.' But while driving enables excellent ‘automatic function,’ it is unsafe, so now I concentrate on the bike.

But concentration can be tiring. Drifting is fun. And chores can’t be drudgery.








November 4, 2018

Tumble Out of An Attic


Desmond Macedo

'If you’re still making friends on Social Media, at parties, at conferences, in office, at marriages, in bars, on trains and planes, you might like to read this piece and think. Laugh, you might, but think you will:

It was a Monday morning and one colleague asked another, ‘How did your weekend go?’

The colleague replied, ‘God, don’t ask. The weekend flew so fast I am left behind in Sunday. In the first place, Saturday flew so fast I was caught on Sunday morning at home, holding a beer. If I go backwards I left office very late, Friday night, so the whole weekend got pushed forward. And now I’m caught on Monday morning looking for a lazy breakfast of steaming hot idlis that I usually have, Sunday mornings.'

More than a steaming idli, the colleague needed a pause right now.

'Don’t tell me I’m going to be one day behind this whole coming week. I’ll be the only jackass in the office to deliver a job in time when pipsqueak management executive asks for it “yesterday,”' the colleague made quotes in the air with her fingers imitating how pipsqueaks explained timelines, and ended her whine and grumble.

The colleague who had asked her this question had midway in her answer stopped paying attention to her, and left her company to join another colleague to ask him the same question, who let loose a similar whine and grumble, after which, the colleague who had asked the question was making a similar reply to someone else who asked her the same question, and so on and so forth, and so forth and so on, plus or minus a whine or grumble, it’d be a similar answer after the same question.

On a Monday morning in most offices, this is an FAQ, and instead of getting down to work first thing, why do people ask FAQs?

Why does each employee needs to know how the other spent his/her weekend? Why do people ask questions the answers to which they are so familiar with they don’t need to listen to the answers? Why do people ask questions the answers they have no interest in? Why are people asked questions they are not expected to answer? Why bother answering?

Point is, a good deal happens in a workplace that has little to do with work. Like human interaction. People like to connect with each other – talk, meet, react, smile, relate, a kind of verbal hook-up. Especially today. When they ask you questions it don’t mean they are interested in you. It could simply mean acknowledging your presence. Or filling the vacant space between two people when they meet: what do you say to someone at the water cooler? Well, it is impolite if you’re standing at a coffee machine and you don’t smile at another colleague there, isn't it?

These harmless social decencies form relationships – acquaintances, office acquaintances, team mates, ex-colleagues, alumni networks, friendships - all of which will end up in the mind as memory.

Only, memory now is more like an attic.

Those places where old women store things they don’t need, but don’t want to get rid of because they fear they may need those things some day, up to a point when they don't know what is in the attics, don’t want to look into them, everything there being in a mess and jumble, but still won’t clean it out, will only add to the mess and jumble.

All the people you work with end up on your Facebook Friends’ List. When you join another company, you get another set of FB friends. Likewise, you have two or three sets of alumni friends – those from your school, those from your college, and those from your advanced, specialization course. In a place like Mumbai, all the people you travel with daily on the local train would be on your list. And in times like these, you also have another variety of relationships – those you never meet in hard copy; you only know them in soft copy – internet friends.

There’s a term for these relationships, expressly to make them sound scientific and socially necessary – networking – but this is often a disguise for accumulating a lot of useless acquaintances.

Like the old woman accumulating useless stuff in her attic.

Notice people haughtily say, ‘I have friends on Facebook I don’t even know.’ The more friends on FB you have that you don’t even know, the more friends you are going to have on FB that you won’t even know. Periodically, these people complain about their FB friends and the vapid praises they post - their fathers are their finest role models; their mothers are the finest cooks in the world; their brothers are the most responsible in the world; their sisters are their besties; a trip to Velankanni changed their lives; Modi is best PM India has ever had, etc, etc, etc, but they won’t clean out their lists in just the same way old women never clean out their attics, but periodically complain about the rubbish in them.

Currently, they are running posts to beat FB’s algorithm on ‘who reads whose timeline, and how often,’ with the purpose of getting more people to read and interact with their posts, and make more friends.

It had gotten cool a while ago to have lots of people on your FB friends’ list just like how old women love to see a lot of things in their attics.

Years later, when two people meet and one says to the other, ‘Hey, remember, we met at a conference, then we got together on Facebook? what that person asking remembrances wouldn’t know is that he just tumbled out and fell down from the other person’s attic with an uncomfortable thud, full of dust and cobwebs, gecko scrambling out of his shirt pocket,  too dirty to touch.

For all the networking, we aren’t any more than broken pieces of wood, metal and paper in the memories of many people.

October 9, 2018

Did #MeToo begin in India before Hollywood?

From a chapter in
"A Guy Growing Old in a Country Growing Young,"
written in 2013/14, published end '14:

Bottom-up country: a reprise 

The 23-year-old photo-journalist, who was gang-raped in August 2013 at Shakti Mills in the Parel area of central Mumbai, said from her hospital bed, “Rape is not the end of life. I want to return to work as soon as possible.” 

A law graduate recently blogged about how a retired Supreme Court judge, old enough to be her grandfather' Dan especially noted, sexually assaulted her while she worked for him as an intern. The Chief Justice of India instituted a 3-member committee to probe the allegation, which prompted more law interns to expose sexual harassment by senior lawyers.

In Kolkata, the ‘Park Street rape victim’ revealed her identity, fighting against the age-old culture of shame that punishes victims of sexual violence.

Since the gang-rape protests, the usual silence around sexual violence against women has been shattered. In Delhi, the number of rapes reported more than doubled, from 590 in 2012 to 1,330 in 2013, meaning, more women are speaking out against the violence they face and the police are turning fewer of them away.

And in a mind-bending irony, the junior staff at the news magazine seem to have had more of the principles on which the magazine was founded than the 51-year-old founding member [a Tarun Tejpal reference, mentioned later], against whom there is a sexual molestation case. 5 of them, all journalists, have resigned, as they are disappointed over management’s handling of the case: Consulting Editor, Assistant Editor, Literary Editor and two more. The journalist in question had resigned first. And within eleven months of the Delhi gang-rape case the scope of the law has been widened so that this journalist is able to say, ‘What he did to me is legally rape.’ An administration, notorious for its slow approach to change, is now being fired up by the younger generation.

Grown men losing control over themselves in the presence of women is common. Losing control over women in India, not common at all. But slowly losing control over young urban women, in that, girls exposing the sexual crimes of men against them, was a new one, and Dan was sure many men are shocked and angered by girls’ audacity to fight back.

Who started the stigma around rape?
Men.

Who perpetrated it?
Men.

Why did they perpetrate it?
So they can have sex with women and girls at will, without any inconveniences.

If it is getting its due, who is affected?
Men.

Dan felt this was another situation that could be understood with the earlier thought about governance: ‘It is in the interest of government to keep the electorate ignorant.’ Keep girls ignorant and uneducated and they will continue to keep quiet about rapes, because they have no means of being independent when shunned by society due to the stigma.

Simply put, a lot of men are quiet happy with the stigma in place, like a government quite happy with an illiterate electorate. The senior journalist at the news magazine didn’t think the junior would go public with the incident. Nor did the retired Supreme Court judge think so. The latter got so wretchedly trapped in shame and indecision, he couldn’t resign as that would be a personal admission of guilt even before the trial, nor could he continue because of his shame in his office and the clamour around him to resign, so he took the next cowardly route: stay away from work. Classic damned if you do, damned if you don’t, and unthinkable for a young girl to cause that kind of misery to a man high up in government for his deviant behaviour just a few short months ago.

Nevertheless, to help him make up his mind, the Law Minister said the government would have step in and initiate the process to remove from his post.

The growing independence of young women in urban India, which will spill over to rural areas, is something many men will not like, but will have to get used to. 

These are the first signs, and leading this change are young girls.

August 4, 2018



By Desmond Macedo

When this globalisation began around 2000, a globalised world as they began calling it, something else was going global - arse kissing - and it appeared to be going around the world faster than globalisation. Here is what I noticed:

Take a bank loan company - everyone there is kissing the boss’ arse who, in turn, is kissing his boss’ arse who, through a marketing process that is known as Customer Relationship Management, or, as it is more ambitiously called, Customer Life Cycle Management, is eventually kissing a customer's arse,

who, the customer that is, is working in some other company, where, in the little free time he gets at work, he is industriously kissing his boss’ arse because he must get a salary, every month, uninterruptedly, to repay the car loan he has taken from a bank, 

the salesman of which was earlier kissing his arse by commenting that his salary makes him eminently creditworthy for a car loan, while the boss of the bank salesman is felicitating the salesman’s arse, non-stop, so that he will flatter more customers into thinking that their salaries make them eminently creditworthy for car loans, 

the sales of which, the bank salesman’s boss will use to get into favour with his local boss who, the local boss that is, will use the same sales’ figures to get into favour with his regional head who, arse with regional head at the top of it that is, will go forth and patronise the country head’s arse who, the head of the country's arse-kissing operations that is, will patronise a white arse, it being an multi-national bank with a white man in charge of the bank’s Asia-Pacific region who, the white, pacific-region arse that is, will then use the fantastic growth figures in the new-economy markets to patronise his boss back in the UK, 


 

who is chairman of this UK-headquartered bank, and has been knighted by the queen, and is reverently addressed as  Sir – Sir Walter Rigby –  and who, the reverent arse that is, frequently bumps into, and fawns over, a higher-up from the UK Finance Ministry who, in turn, is about to peck Brown's arse who, 

the brown arse that is, on his first visit to India, shortly after becoming prime minister of the UK in 2007, is artlessly kissing India’s arse by proposing that Sachin Tendulkar be knighted by the queen because he, the brown arse, not the cricketer, wants England to now occupy the position of Jewel In The Crown, that is who’s crown? India’s crown, a result of her galloping GDP, and a position that was exactly the reverse until only a few decades ago, so that, now, we can appropriately describe this tendency also in reverse as ‘arse kissing the lips.’

I was relieved to arrive at a full stop.

I had to space out my thoughts in short paragraphs, all the while inserting commas, some needlessly quite naturally, and inserting pronouns, especially to match arse with owner, quite usefully, so that I was able to follow a pattern in this maze.

In this particular supply chain of arse kissing, stretching across continents, from man on the street to queen, from imperial colony to emerging markets to first-world countries, only one person seemed to be doing any work – the customer in India, trying every which way to pay back his loans.

The rest made a killing, and interest payments, from this ready source of middle-class customers – India – believed to be around 500 million and growing everyday, simply by kissing arse, or, as it is was now patronisingly called, especially by millennium management executives, Engaging The Customer.



About the Illustrator: Jayesh Raut is an Art Director in advertising. He has worked for Contract, O&M  and Wieden & Kennedy. Married to an Art Director also, he is freelancing now, and illustrates in his spare time. Here is his store:

Note: This story was written in 2008-09, a few months after this blog was started. Edited a bit though the gist is the same.




April 19, 2018

Flash Fiction

Sunil Ganu: Fiction in fifty-five words:

From where he was, he really couldn’t tell if he was on the right track. His frayed jacket was at a distance, his goodbyes tucked in its pocket.

He shut his eyes. It would be quick, perhaps.

With a screech, the heavy locomotive slowed, stopped still, briefly, then moved carefully away, in the opposite direction.

                                                                           xxx 


What would happen, the boy asked himself, if he did step on the pavement cracks? For years - and he was only seven - he had carefully avoided them. Well, it was time to change.

He walked, eyes riveted to the cracks.

The coconut whistled as it fell. The 'thunk' was muffled by black hair that turned red.

                                                                         xxx

The nylon ropes cut into his spindly legs, chafing, lacerating. He struggled bravely, flapping about. But his strength ebbed. He turned sluggish. His eyes started to flutter shut as his vital signs slowed.

He opened his eyes, looking around piteously.

His eyes finally closed, and the poacher had netted another fat pheasant for dinner.

                                                                         xxx

“I shan’t,” declared Emily, turning away from the wrinkled face resolutely.

“But darling, look what Grammy brought you,” reasoned her mother, pointing to the packages wrapped in coloured paper.

Emily considered. Sagely, I thought.

Relenting, she turned her face and accepted the sloppy kiss. One more innocence had been destroyed at the altar of consumerism.

                                                                          xxx 

He looked at the huge jet through the glass window, its nose close enough to touch. People milled around - normal, pre-departure flurry. He could hear several languages and children shouting. He thought of all that he had wanted. A smile creased his lips.

“Let’s go.”

And the deportee was led down to the waiting aircraft.

                                                                           xxxxxx 
            
About the Author:

Sunil Ganu is a French teacher. He lived in France for several years, then returned to Pune, where he continues his profession. He is from Loyola High School, Pashan, Pune, where "education beyond text books" was usually encouraged, and he volunteered to set Timetables for all periods of all secondary classes. 

April 18, 2018

RIP

Desmond Macedo

2011 was an especially good year to learn the meaning of the term pearly gates - so many famous people passed through them. 

Steve Jobs had just entered through them, and no sooner he landed in heaven than he summoned a meeting to design an iPod for God Who wanted to listen to tribal and aborigine music. Steve had arrived there on a Monday morning so everyone was ready for work, the tweets reported.

Two days earlier, Dev Anand, Indian matinee idol, had demised, though, I would’ve said “died,” but I had noticed in these months that famous people don’t die, they 'demise,' and Dev was now headed through those gates. Celeb writers-cum-tweeters said the moment he arrives he was going to assemble a film unit and commence shooting. 

Socrates was still fresh from demise, right on the field, so it would be a while before he passed through the gates, but fans had already tweeted the players he would put together to form an ex-Brazil team up there. 

Meanwhile, tweeters got news that God was not at all pleased with the iPod reproduction of tribal and aborigine music notes, so Steve had sent for help from Earth, preferably someone from in and around the Bangalore area of Earth, or even the Mumbai area of Earth, where there is talent for digital music production for films, which meant someone with knowledge of such music, and importantly, its electronic reproduction on an iPod, would soon pass through those gates, and tweeple ready with their posts, such as: Not a good time to know tribal and aborigine music, adapted for the iPod. A little later it surfaced that quite a few of the wanted specialists from both these areas shifted to Pune. Temporarily. 

Twitter had issued a strict directive to its users not to tweet until demise occurs. You see, people had gotten so accustomed to celeb departures, they were picking random names from lists, also appearing online to help them, and tweeting farewells. 

Around the middle of that year, MF Hussain, celebrated Indian painter, has demised in London, but there was some confusion whether he should start his heavenly journey from India, his place of birth, or from London where he demised, or from the Middle East country he adopted, or was forced to adopt – verily, it took quite some time to first determine whether he voluntarily adopted, or was forced to adopt the Middle East country. By the time the confusion was cleared people quite forgot that he had demised so no one tweeted anything about him. Besides, by then, people were busy tweeting about Shammi Kapoor - or were they tweeting about Pataudi?  - another matinee idol and celebrated Indian cricketer, respectively, or were they matinee cricketer and Indian nawab respectively, tweeple weren’t sure. 

While some industrious people put together the entire list of famous people who departed, others cautioned, ‘Hang on, there are some 25 days left this year.’ Six days after their caution, on Sunday, December 11, 2011, Mario Miranda, celebrated Indian cartoonist, featured in their tweets.

Of the number of famous people who demised that year, several had plans to continue their work upstairs. At least that is what the tweets said. People felt it was inappropriate that they, with their enormous energies, should rest at all, although, like earlier, if you died, or passed away, or demised, depending on your station in life, you were advised to Rest In Peace, RIP for short, which found more common usage in 2011, considering the number of times tweeters had to use it.

A few months into 2012, ‘St Peter keeps the pearly gates open,’ a Twitter post said, presenting more opportunity for people to learn the meaning of that term. One of my writer-friend did a status at Robin Gibbs' demise, which came a month or so after Whitney Houston's, which read: ‘The heavens are planning a super group like Traveling Wilburys.’

The trend didn’t stop and continued in the following years. At David Bowie’s demise, I, too, tweeted, ‘I always thought The Man Who Sold The World was a Kurt Cobain song. Now all three of us can rest in peace.’ And I posted it in the song's YouTube video’s comments’ box, where, some YouTube users thought it was a suicide note. 

Trouble was, only after celebs demised did you get to know their achievements. Reminded me, they were demising with such awkward frequency, obituaries began to read like dreary bio-datum, even by the NYT, and that’s where I read about The Man Who Sold The World.  

You may have known sweet buggerall about the celeb and his or her achievements, but social media had made it hip to tweet or update with RIP, sending out a message that you were ‘clued in.’ Internet society demanded that you be clued in, especially on the demise of a celeb. Hence the significant numbers from the subcontinent on Google searching ‘What is RIP?’

RIP was also a moment, or was it a medium? to send out a message about your musical preferences. When Dave Brubeck passed away, people, who otherwise listened to Boney M, tweeted respects furiously.   

Music has long been suspected to associate itself with listeners’ tastes, particularly the highbrow, in the way that books and authors manifest writers’ tastes. 

All bunk. I love the beat and bass of Daddy Cool. And Behram Contractor is among my favourite authors, of which, I have very few. Of course, it can be argued, I am hardly a writer, nor do I know my music. 

Kiss my arse.


When Glen Frey arrived at the gates St Peter was playing the infuriatingly famous riffs of Hotel California on an air guitar. Glen, it came to be believed, grabbed the air guitar from St Peter and played the notes for him as he began to sing the opening verse. 

‘The Super Group is formed,’ tweeple tweeted.

Next came Prince, which startled St Peter: ‘I didn’t call for you. People downstairs don’t even know how you have demised. Neither do I. Besides, very few know, you wrote Nothing Compares To You and the Esquire story is a long time away. So you're a bit unfulfilled for a stay in Heavan. Hope you accept that, and don't gripe.’ 

Last year, there was a series of suicides in the popular music business, but social media of extra enthusiasm did open up some new stuff for me – I still enjoy Linkin Park's Numb, In The End, and these lyrics: When my time comes / Forget the wrong that I've done / Help me leave behind some / Reasons to be missed.

And, as recent as a few months ago, Shashi Kapoor demised and Shashi Tharoor received the condolences.

‘Rather premature,’ Tharoor tweeted. 


February 20, 2018

The Wink

Prologue:

I always knew I was growing old in India at the wrong time. Today, people were getting famous with a wink. It was actually fame, faster than 'in the wink of an eye,' disappointing those who could pull out a pun faster than a gunslinger. By the end of the shooting, the girl had gone from a minor role to a lead. Technology took the wink to so many eyeballs, she became a smartphone face. For me, a look at her was an arse-burning situation, 'envious' being too timid to describe what I go through. Then when she kissed the tips of her first two fingers, pulled the hatch with a 'shla-taack,' and fired across at the guy, I wished the dummy bullet hit me, and I could do a dummy 'collapse.'


So here, a short read, is a sample chapter or book extract of my Book: A Guy Growing Old in a Country Growing Young':


In April 2013, when Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar was accused of links with arms dealers, he rubbished the allegations as ‘baseless, scurrilous, unfounded and ludicrous, with the sole intention of besmirching my personal integrity, reputation and competence’.
Dan Mullagathanny wondered if anyone could have got away with such affluent and well-heeled vocabulary just twenty-five-odd years ago. India was a socialist democracy. Any use of such vocabulary would’ve been allowed purely on a quota basis. ‘Ludicrous’ would’ve been banned anyway for extravagance since there was already an equivalent permitted: ‘ridiculous’. As for ‘besmirching’ and ‘scurrilous’, they would’ve attracted heavy import duty.
Likewise, multitasking would’ve been banned in socialist India. No one would ever have been allowed to do several jobs at once because then some people would have the unfair advantage of shirking several jobs at the same time whilst the rest of India was allowed to shirk only one job at a time, socialism dictating that everyone should be equally lazy. No one was allowed to be lazier than the other.
Then came the ’90s, and India became a free economy. Overnight private enterprise boomed. Indians started buying more and more packaged goods so more and more stores came up, followed by malls, since shopping was getting leisurely and stylish, overall producing more garbage than the staff detailed by municipal offices could clear every morning because they were still busy framing the Rules & Guidelines of Laziness to be observed in their wards that gave rise to a new breed of Indian entrepreneurs: ragpickers.
And one of them, Sanjay Parmar, joined the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, listed amongst the top design schools in the world, in May 2013.
Dan considered himself fortunate never to have had competition from ragpickers in school. He had competition from the children of army officers, doctors, teachers, scientists and lecturers. Then there were the laboratory technician’s children, the engineer, fitter and machinist’s children, and the occasional trader and industrialist’s children.
To be beaten in studies by India’s middle class was socially acceptable. But to be beaten by a ragpicker would’ve been a new standard of embarrassment.
~~~
If he was fortunate never to have had competition from ragpickers, he was just as grateful to have never had the same from newspaper boys. One of them, N. Shiva Kumar, walked into the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, a topper among management institutions, in May 2013.
In any other country, Dan would be considered in his prime, ripe for the big promotion, ready for the big responsibility. If he were already married, he could start an affair. If he were into an affair, he could end it, go back to his wife and reflect on his foolishness. At forty-nine, there was plenty to do in any other part of the world.
Who distributed newspapers in the years prior to the ’90s? It was a vegetable vendor or factory worker, moonlighting, early in the morning—people who didn’t bother with low-level jobs; they bothered about survival. National aspiration levels and competition at jobs were a great deal lower then, hence it was convenient to classify jobs.
Today, it was the youngsters who wanted extra money to fund their college education. And it wasn’t about surviving; it was about a future.
Dan went from childhood to adulthood without knowing there was a future. He learned about it only when it arrived, by which time another bit of it would be arriving, stacking up, one on top of the other, so that, if he ever had to look into it, he’d have difficulty sorting out that stack chronologically. Still, one day he got up right early, and before anything could start, took a quick look into his future, didn’t see anything spectacular there and went right back to bed.
On another occasion, while on a busy road in Dadar, Mumbai, in the afternoon, he decided to look again into the future to see who was there: there were thirty-year- olds taking their wives on holidays; there were executives doing part-time courses to gain specialized professional skills while they scanned job sites, shared vacancy tips and discussed salaries; there were couples driving their new cars or filling in forms to apply for car loans; and there were couples moving into new homes, moving out of one-bedroom flats into two-bedroom ones, filling forms to apply for home loans and buying insurance to protect home loan repayments.
It seemed they had their lives set up and ready in the future and were making their way there steadily to occupy on arrival without any distraction on the way. Beyond reading the future in horoscopes, and with greater accuracy, they knew what was waiting for them there.
Back to the hot, sweaty afternoon of Mumbai. Dan scanned the crowds around and noticed an old man sitting on the steps of a shop closed for lunch. Another stepped out sloppily from a country liquor bar. One patted a stray dog under a pavement tree. And there was himself. These four seemed to be the only people with nothing to do in Dadar, a place in Mumbai where there is never ever nothing to do. In a simultaneous moment, all four of them glared at each other, then turned their faces away.
‘When you’re turning old, your best reminder of it is another old person,’ Dan felt.
~~~
The elderly loved to dish out advice and wisdom, and Dan avoided them. He felt it was possibly a trait that stemmed from a government job. A nine-to-five sinecure would give a person plenty of opportunity for advice and wisdom. Or it was simply an elderly pastime.
And if in those days people went to work to be able to afford a child’s education, marriage, the grocer’s bills, etc., today people went to work for a variety of reasons:
Some had to escape nagging parents; some needed money for gas, guzzle and talktime; some needed something to do between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., the time their friends were at work; some had to pick up work experience for B-school admissions; some needed to be eligible for loans; some went to work because, like BPOs, advertising, journalism and media, the office was a good place to find girlfriends and boyfriends; some needed to finance their college education; and some needed money to squander.
Some went to work because, suddenly, it was hip to work.
Some went to work just to observe what went on in an office, and Dan was sure this wasn’t an exaggeration because he remembered a colleague, who, upon seeing someone in the office run around like a blue-arse fly trying to meet a client deadline, remarked, ‘What stupid things people do for a living,’ and who, a short while later, quit to start his own venture—selling cupcakes—that made Dan wonder whether it was a more intelligent occupation than running around like a blue-arse fly trying to meet a deadline.
Some went to work to while away time until they got married, and though these were taking up vacancies that rightfully should have gone to the more needy of society, advanced management thinking, widely available in India from plentiful MBAs coming out of plentiful B-schools set up from the ’90s onwards, was of the opinion that a person who didn’t need a job made a better employee than one who did. Dan also took note since he could be needing a job any time.
Some had to while away time until they got pregnant.
Still others had to while away time until their husbands were able to get them pregnant.
~~~
There was yet another sector in India that was moving fast. Perilously fast. It was Dan’s age.
He was forty-nine. Now forty-nine was never considered old. It still isn’t in most parts of the world. In any other country, Dan would’ve aged at the natural rate, that is twelve months per year. But in India, with the youth everywhere, he felt he was ageing faster, in the same way a person of average wealth feels poorer in a rich neighbourhood.
In April 2013, when Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar was accused of links with arms dealers, he rubbished the allegations as ‘baseless, scurrilous, unfounded and ludicrous, with the sole intention of besmirching my personal integrity, reputation and competence’.
Dan Mullagathanny wondered if anyone could have got away with such affluent and well-heeled vocabulary just twenty-five-odd years ago. India was a socialist democracy. Any use of such vocabulary would’ve been allowed purely on a quota basis. ‘Ludicrous’ would’ve been banned anyway for extravagance since there was already an equivalent permitted: ‘ridiculous’. As for ‘besmirching’ and ‘scurrilous’, they would’ve attracted heavy import duty.
Likewise, multitasking would’ve been banned in socialist India. No one would ever have been allowed to do several jobs at once because then some people would have the unfair advantage of shirking several jobs at the same time whilst the rest of India was allowed to shirk only one job at a time, socialism dictating that everyone should be equally lazy. No one was allowed to be lazier than the other.
Then came the ’90s, and India became a free economy. Overnight private enterprise boomed. Indians started buying more and more packaged goods so more and more stores came up, followed by malls, since shopping was getting leisurely and stylish, overall producing more garbage than the staff detailed by municipal offices could clear every morning because they were still busy framing the Rules & Guidelines of Laziness to be observed in their wards that gave rise to a new breed of Indian entrepreneurs: ragpickers.
And one of them, Sanjay Parmar, joined the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, listed amongst the top design schools in the world, in May 2013.
Dan considered himself fortunate never to have had competition from ragpickers in school. He had competition from the children of army officers, doctors, teachers, scientists and lecturers. Then there were the laboratory technician’s children, the engineer, fitter and machinist’s children, and the occasional trader and industrialist’s children.
To be beaten in studies by India’s middle class was socially acceptable. But to be beaten by a ragpicker would’ve been a new standard of embarrassment.
~~~
If he was fortunate never to have had competition from ragpickers, he was just as grateful to have never had the same from newspaper boys. One of them, N. Shiva Kumar, walked into the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, a topper among management institutions, in May 2013.
In any other country, Dan would be considered in his prime, ripe for the big promotion, ready for the big responsibility. If he were already married, he could start an affair. If he were into an affair, he could end it, go back to his wife and reflect on his foolishness. At forty-nine, there was plenty to do in any other part of the world.
Who distributed newspapers in the years prior to the ’90s? It was a vegetable vendor or factory worker, moonlighting, early in the morning—people who didn’t bother with low-level jobs; they bothered about survival. National aspiration levels and competition at jobs were a great deal lower then, hence it was convenient to classify jobs.
Today, it was the youngsters who wanted extra money to fund their college education. And it wasn’t about surviving; it was about a future.
Dan went from childhood to adulthood without knowing there was a future. He learned about it only when it arrived, by which time another bit of it would be arriving, stacking up, one on top of the other, so that, if he ever had to look into it, he’d have difficulty sorting out that stack chronologically. Still, one day he got up right early, and before anything could start, took a quick look into his future, didn’t see anything spectacular there and went right back to bed.
On another occasion, while on a busy road in Dadar, Mumbai, in the afternoon, he decided to look again into the future to see who was there: there were thirty-year- olds taking their wives on holidays; there were executives doing part-time courses to gain specialized professional skills while they scanned job sites, shared vacancy tips and discussed salaries; there were couples driving their new cars or filling in forms to apply for car loans; and there were couples moving into new homes, moving out of one-bedroom flats into two-bedroom ones, filling forms to apply for home loans and buying insurance to protect home loan repayments.
It seemed they had their lives set up and ready in the future and were making their way there steadily to occupy on arrival without any distraction on the way. Beyond reading the future in horoscopes, and with greater accuracy, they knew what was waiting for them there.
Back to the hot, sweaty afternoon of Mumbai. Dan scanned the crowds around and noticed an old man sitting on the steps of a shop closed for lunch. Another stepped out sloppily from a country liquor bar. One patted a stray dog under a pavement tree. And there was himself. These four seemed to be the only people with nothing to do in Dadar, a place in Mumbai where there is never ever nothing to do. In a simultaneous moment, all four of them glared at each other, then turned their faces away.
‘When you’re turning old, your best reminder of it is another old person,’ Dan felt.
~~~
The elderly loved to dish out advice and wisdom, and Dan avoided them. He felt it was possibly a trait that stemmed from a government job. A nine-to-five sinecure would give a person plenty of opportunity for advice and wisdom. Or it was simply an elderly pastime.
And if in those days people went to work to be able to afford a child’s education, marriage, the grocer’s bills, etc., today people went to work for a variety of reasons:
Some had to escape nagging parents; some needed money for gas, guzzle and talktime; some needed something to do between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., the time their friends were at work; some had to pick up work experience for B-school admissions; some needed to be eligible for loans; some went to work because, like BPOs, advertising, journalism and media, the office was a good place to find girlfriends and boyfriends; some needed to finance their college education; and some needed money to squander.
Some went to work because, suddenly, it was hip to work.
Some went to work just to observe what went on in an office, and Dan was sure this wasn’t an exaggeration because he remembered a colleague, who, upon seeing someone in the office run around like a blue-arse fly trying to meet a client deadline, remarked, ‘What stupid things people do for a living,’ and who, a short while later, quit to start his own venture—selling cupcakes—that made Dan wonder whether it was a more intelligent occupation than running around like a blue-arse fly trying to meet a deadline.
Some went to work to while away time until they got married, and though these were taking up vacancies that rightfully should have gone to the more needy of society, advanced management thinking, widely available in India from plentiful MBAs coming out of plentiful B-schools set up from the ’90s onwards, was of the opinion that a person who didn’t need a job made a better employee than one who did. Dan also took note since he could be needing a job any time.
Some had to while away time until they got pregnant.
Still others had to while away time until their husbands were able to get them pregnant.
~~~
There was yet another sector in India that was moving fast. Perilously fast. It was Dan’s age.
He was forty-nine. Now forty-nine was never considered old. It still isn’t in most parts of the world. In any other country, Dan would’ve aged at the natural rate, that is twelve months per year. But in India, with the youth everywhere, he felt he was ageing faster, in the same way a person of average wealth feels poorer in a rich neighbourhood.
In any other country, Dan would be considered in his prime, ripe for the big promotion, ready for the big responsibility. If he were already married, he could start an affair. If he were into an affair, he could end it, go back to his wife and reflect on his foolishness. At forty-nine, there was plenty to do in any other part of the world.
Dan couldn’t understand why the Americans made a noise about losing their jobs to cheaper skills in India. He was facing the same situation in his own country. He was getting shafted in preference to younger employees — another reason that made him feel older. At least the Americans had the backing of their government that tried to intervene, amend laws and policies and find ways to discourage their companies from outsourcing work. Dan had no such backing in India. How could his government support a minority workforce to the disadvantage of the majority? He had to face the problem all by himself.
Those in the US also had the benefit of double standards – accuse India of not allowing a level playing field in global trade by not fully opening its markets to foreign investment and participation while simultaneously trying to thwart their companies’ outsourcing efforts.
Dan could see that Indians weren’t making a noise about their situation. Instead, just making do with whatever they had. The call centre job, answering 400 calls per shift, sometimes a lot more, came to be regarded by the workforce as most disgusting and sickening. Yet they did it, did it well, and turned it into a multi-billion-dollar monopoly.
From the ragpicker onwards, nobody in India asked for a level playing field.
Blurb on book: In a country where 50 per cent of the population is younger than twenty-five, what does it mean to be old? Ask Dan Mullagathanny. Not that Dan is old. He is only forty-nine. But in India, with youngsters all around, he is ageing faster. A funny-sad story about being a misfit in a rapidly changing world.
Desmond MacedoDesmond Macedo is a copywriter with several years of experience in agencies like Ulka, Lintas, Ogilvy & Mather, MAA and Contract. He lives in Pune with his wife, whom he helps in a home business and writes in between. Their son  works in Dubai. This is Macedo’s first book.