Sep 6, 2016

On Not Knowing and Knowing Too Much

Whoever said 'ignorance is bliss' wasn't kidding.

There was a time when I didn't know much and I was happy.

My time on earth can be divided into life before internet and life with internet. The 1980s were a simple time in India. Two channels on TV; video games were monochrome, with two buttons and expensive for ordinary folks. I spent most of my time playing outside/inside or reading random non-curriculum shit.

The 1990s weren't too bad. Cable TV was exciting. But as always, TV content consumption was passive and non-customized. I loved the cheesy Bollywood movies in single-screen theaters. My only window to the world at large was the programme The World This Week, which came once a week on Fridays, around 7 pm. I waited with baited breath for clips from news channels from around the world. I drooled at the slightly titillating previews of Hollywood movies.

But that's it. I still didn't know a lot.

My first internet connection was in 1997. The VSNL connection was expensive, but I made the most of it. Suddenly, a portal to the rest of the world opened up for me. The slow dial-up connection took 30 minutes to connect. But once connected, I went berserk. I am convinced that I developed a lot of patience and stupidity as a result. But I was still contented.

By 1999 I was chatting with random strangers from across the world on Yahoo! Chat. Some of them might have had fake profiles. Orkut was my first introduction to social networking. It was fun to read about the thoughts, scraps, and testimonials of others. It was beginning to get pretty exciting.

The early years of Facebook were fairly innocent. People put mild status updates. But then, suddenly, the platform unleashed hidden demons/angels from inside as the next generations got on board. People became more and more uninhibited about their thoughts and activities. Soon we were bombarded by angry, indignant rants; fawning, fan-boy raves; hilarious fish pouts; unfunny selfies; impossible holiday pics; unhindered PDA pics; and so on and so forth.

Eventually, corporations, news media, NGOs took to the new fish pond with a vengeance. Being addicted to news, I liked many of the pages. Now I know 100 ways in which I'm dying, 10 ways in which the world is coming to an end, 25 ways in which to worsen my body image, what sucks around the world and in my neighborhood, how criminally cute some creatures are, which vacation spots I cannot go to, what intellectual discourse I cannot fathom—basically everything out there that's out of my reach or screwing me over. It's a tsunami of information that I cannot stop, comprehend, or even enjoy.

Today, I know much much more and I'm disgruntled.

Whoever said knowledge is power didn't clarify 'over what'.

May 18, 2016

A Scoop of Ice Cream

People don't want to die for their religion. They will die for a scoop of ice cream! But since they can't afford it, they choose religion. What does life promise the youth of the world? There are no jobs, there are too many vested interests screwing up economies, weather is getting worse by the day. And there's no ice cream, and alcohol is banned by a-holes. So what will they do in life, with life? At least religion promises a great afterlife---full of pride and luxury and the opportunity for all kinds of debauchery. And maybe even a scoop of ice cream.

Dec 11, 2015

What Will You Do?








Oct 2, 2015

The Indian Lynching League

Today is an apt day for this idea:

How about we start an Indian Lynching League?

There's massive talent in this country for this glorious, age-old, national sport of lynching. People have been lynching in India as amateurs and part-timers for hundreds of years now! It's time to professionalize and commercialize it.

We have the players --- millions of educated, unemployed, biased youth of this country, who, with an appropriate amount of brain-washing, would love to die, literally, for their teams.

We have the audience --- millions of educated, well-off, middle-class Indians, who find hatred a powerful antidote to their own feelings of impotence. Nothing will turn them on more than watching a mob, comprising players from the team they support, rush into the house of an old man and lynch him to death at the drop of a rumor. What team spirit!

We have the sponsors --- politicians from all industries, who want a piece of the action, the pie, and whatever else a lynch mob throws up in its wake. They have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Nothing spruces up a vote bank in India like a sectarian clash. A few million bucks sponsoring this sport is not going to go waste. Believe me, politicians will get their ROI (return on investment), they will get their pound of meat---mutton, or beef, or pork, or human, or whatever.

And then, we have the businessmen who will run the show ---- God's own deputies, the enterprising people of 'faith' who tell us what to do and how to do it; what to eat and how to eat it; who to screw and who to screw with. These coaches of stature, these herders of men, these spouters of vitriol --- they will train our players in the fine game-play of bludgeoning and inspire them into a murderous frenzy. They will ensure that shareholders and sponsors of this 'holy' alliance are ridonculously rewarded for their investment in fragmentation. After all, Orange is the new Black!

This country was always divided into teams. They wore their language, caste, religion, region, and diet as colorful jerseys. And of late, the stock of divisiveness has really gone up! There is no way this sport is not going to make money for the team owners!

We have the blood-lust and the insanity. We have the gladiators, the sacrificees, and the emperors who will gleefully thumb down the life of an injured person (and keep quiet). All we need is a coliseum.

Let no apostle of peace spoil the fun for us. This is no country for old, peaceful men.

Let the games begin!

Dec 10, 2014

A Pretty Good Me

I'm no cape-unfurling Superman.
Forget being an Übermensch.

A Lincoln's a far cry.
A Mahatma? Not in ten millennia.

I'm a poor facsimile of dad.
My bro's got a better mug.

But one thing I’m sure of:
I’m a pretty good me.

And the day I become
A poor imitation of I,

Sincerity will take a hike
And I’ll stop flattering myself.

Aug 14, 2014

Bullshit is Content

These are the days of content.

Text, audio, video, graphics, photos, animations, motion pictures, 2D, 3D, music, white noise, pink noise, SMS, tweets, newsfeeds, games, apps, blogs, HDTV, FM radio, pulp fiction, literary fiction, non-fiction, memos, minutes, emails, reports, excel sheets, PowerPoint presentations, and so on and so forth—things that are making the world go round.

There is another form of content that has made a firm place on the menu dished out to us—BULLSHIT.

It is creative, it is pervasive, it is valuable (to some).

How exactly is bullshit content?

It is so because you can see it, read it, hear it, and, on some occasions, smell it on a person.

Bullshit is dramatic fiction—sometimes feel-good, sometimes narcissistic, and sometimes deeply offensive. Consequently, bullshit caters to all kinds of audience tastes—popular to perverse. Therefore, bullshit is dependable and salable content.

Not everyone can imagine up fictional worlds. Likewise, not everyone can produce bullshit. It’s an art form—some are born with it, some learn it from the environment.

There are no classes or tutorials for it; you just pick it up if you have an inclination to profit without putting in the effort.

Like the most influential ideologues, the best bullshitters are those who firmly believe in their own make-believe (‘make’ themselves ‘believe’ in their own bullcrap?). If they fail to do that, it would expose the chink in their imaginary armor and might result in their lynching…

… you know…human beings do that.

These are good days for bullshitters.

Social media has increased their reach and their audience’s gullibility. They’ve never had it so easy. Liberalization and corporatization have created new markets—boardrooms, annual reports, staff meetings, interviews, Supreme Court.

Politics has always been a hot, bubbling cauldron of bullshit.

Politicians have now found force-multipliers in technology, thereby dramatically increasing their ability to fool all the people all the time (apologies, President Lincoln).

God-men and god-women are the most accomplished bullshitters (refer para above on best bullshitters).

It helps that their subject is tasteless, odorless, colorless, invisible, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. Given that only they have a direct contact with the subject, it is just too easy to make up stuff.

Nowadays they serve the ‘prasad’ of their holy bullshit to their fawning, desperate, and scared audience through a multitude of media. For a small ‘donation’, they will even WhatsApp you absolution.

To a large extent, supply depends on demand, and we can’t deny that there IS a huge demand for depthless entertainment, sketchy inducement, and fraudulent succor.

There are eyes and ears everywhere, looking here and there with gaping mouths, ready to gulp down every bit of topical drug being broadcast over their TVs, newspapers, radios or smartphones.

In a world where content is king and bullshit is content, what should you do?

You should competently leverage existing exceptional manufactured products to interactively implement multifunctional web-readiness and credibly foster installed base content. 

May 15, 2014

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Some grow,
Some diminish.
Some work out, some don't.
Some hang on, some move on.
Some you hold on to, some fade.
Some keep standing, some wither.
Some you adopt, some you abduct.
Some you keep, some you let go of.
Some you're born with, some you acquire.
Some you achieve, some fall by the wayside.
Some change, some become more of the same.
Some fall into your lap, some you have to snatch.
win some, you lose some.

Apr 16, 2014

The Indian Incontinent

Almost in all major metros of the hot Indian subcontinent, a cloud cover is a welcome development with distinct foreboding overtones. Especially if it is a weekday, you know it's going to be cool outside, but you dread the traffic if it so much as drizzles. It's a good thing, but it's a bummer; you want to be happy, but you're being held back -- a schizophrenic feeling, adding to the already bipolar nature of an Indian metro, where the uber-rich live alongside the uber-poor,  where a Bentley is stuck in the same jam as a Luna. Why do they have to wait for a flood to declare a public holiday? Do it when you see the clouds in the horizon; we will telecommute. I promise I'll work! The geography of India is not weird, it's our cities -- they're just tumorous now. I can't help but crack a crude joke: "Is this the Indian subcontinent or the Indian incontinent?"

Dec 22, 2013


So, I was driving home the other night, and the weather in Delhi was especially lovely. Not too cold, not too hot, just right. I rolled down my car windows to enjoy the cool breeze outside. (Thankfully, the pollution wasn't too bad either.) What really spoiled it for me was the constant honking of cars and bikes. It was so bad that it could leave a normal person rattled and traumatized if exposed to it for above-average duration. Not to mention, the loss of hearing.

Why do some people honk so much when honking is either unnecessary or useless?

I have seen some people so overcautious about their driving space that they want to pre-empt every kind of intrusion/accident by constantly honking. "Get the @#$% away from me! Can't you see I'm [still] learning to drive?!" In Indian traffic, it only serves to rattle the nerves of both the honker and the honkee.

And then some honk like nuts because they have returned from a future where ultrasonic waves emanating from the car horn can sweep the road off all kinds of rabble. You just press the magic knob and the cars, bikes, humans and cows in front of you are just swept to both the sides, like an Audi-borne Moses separating the Red Sea of Indian traffic with his steering staff. But only that it doesn't happen in the present. I think they can't see it though. Dude, delude much?!

Similar to that, there are honknuts who think that everyone but they can fly. So, they honk-honk hoping that the other vehicles will just do the right thing and fly off, take the aerial route and clear out terra firma for them to drive on. Like gleeful little kids running screaming into a flock of pigeons, they want cars to flutter all around them and go settle on trees and parapets. These innocent people don't even take the hint when other drivers make gestures at them that mean "Why the @#$# don't you fly over me, you moron?" All they think is, "Yes, yes, fly away, tweety bird, fly away!"

Is it, like, an itch that needs to be scratched? I suspect so, in some cases. But more than that, I think it’s a twitch. Some Indian men honk the car horn just they way they scratch their crotch in public -- nonchalantly, matter-of-factly, instinctively -- without caring for what impact that act is having on men, women and dogs around them. They don’t know they’re scratching, pulling, shoving; they don’t know they’re repeatedly pressing something. They can’t hear the sound of the horn; they don’t know and don’t care whether others can.

Car manufacturers should really be selective about who they give horns to. They should give it to those who actually deserve it rather than giving it to every Ombir, Diggy and Harinder. They should probably have a prelims and a mains exam followed by a viva voce to select people who can wield such immense power -- power over an instrument of mass annoyance.

Sep 13, 2012

Gulliver's Travails

It was destiny that washed up Gulliver to the shores of that island nation, that kingdom ruled by tiny intellectuals. Gulliver's ship was wrecked and he was desperately seeking land while floating on a plank of rotting wood. So, it was only for the good that the tropical storm that thrashed him one night, also landed him on the shores of Lilliput.

When you've been marooned for days, any company is great company. So, Gulliver took to the Lilliputians like a cat to dry land. Despite differences in size and perceptions, Gulliver was only glad to have found his feet.

After spending around five years in Lilliput, Gulliver had had a good time, learned a lot, made friends, But now a sense ennui was slowly creeping up on him -- he had reached a plateau, and he felt a strong need for a change. Desperately seeking counsel, he called his wise friend, Newton.


"Hey, Isaac, it's Lemuel!"
"Heeeeyyyy...Lemuel! 'Sup dawg?"
"I'm cool. What you doin'?"
"Ah, nuthin, just chilling under mama's apple tree. It's kinda loaded this time of the year, but I'm too smashed to pluck one myself, so I'm just waiting for 'em to fall. Wish you were here too! We could've done this together!"
"Naice! K, lissen, Issac, I need you to sort this thing for me, man. You know, in Lilliput, I'm the tallest guy around. So, naturally, I can see the farthest. After five long years, I've seen as much as I could from this island nation. I want to see further. It's weird to say this here, but I want to grow taller! What do I do, man? It is either here or Blefuscu. And the only difference is in egg cracking."
"Lemuel, bro, know this: if I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."
"Say whaaaaat?"
"Bro, I think you should move to Brobdingnag."