Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Hygiene?? What is that??


Hygiene and cleanliness are top words hostellers are most oblivious to. Most citizens of country are, too, but hostellers even more so. Our idea of ‘cleaning the room’ is abandon the room for good, pack a tent and move to the Himalayas. Our idea of bathing is body deodorants. Our idea of hygiene is, well we have none. Some boys do keep their room clean and tidy, they are called girls. Sorry for being incredibly sexist. Truth hurts. Tough luck.

When I lived with my parents, back during the school days, I HAD to clean my room. It was horrible. But I still did it as I considered it as an alternative to paying rent. I had to stack up my books and notebooks. The protocol was to put the larger books at the bottom and move upwards to smaller ones. But I went for a little detour every once in a while. I became obsessed with my study table once. Had different stacks for books categorized on the basis of importance. It was fun. For some time. And I have learnt just recently that I was supposed to make my bed too. Bummer.

For the complete article, please visit this link - Campusghanta.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

An Ode to the Indian Middle Class

downloadMiddle class is typically defined as a group of humans not poor enough to have no dreams and hopes at all and just not rich enough to afford big, seemingly unrealistic dreams. And just like with most products of globalization, we Indians have come to own this category with a touch of our own – don’t take risks, study hard to become an engineer or doctor, ‘if it’s not free you don’t need it’, ‘how the fuck did you dare to dream big’, and most underlying and obvious commandment of all – paise ped par nahi ugte. The rich bigots use the term ‘middle class’ as an offense. But in fact, it’s more of a complementary adjective for an average citizen, bank-balance wise. Jugaad, bargaining are some of the most familiar terms to characterize this class of humans, as we’ll visit them briefly.
There was a time, not so long ago, when we survived on the SMS packs provided by different mobile operators before the practice was brutally crucified after the advent of free messaging services like WhatsApp, Hike, Line etc. Forwarded messages to our loved ones were a sign of friendship and affection and an indication of our sense of humor. This practice seems to be dying, albeit not entirely eradicated just yet. STOP. IT. PLEASE.
To keep on the same track, these SMS packs of the good old days were null and void on special occasions, for instance national holidays and Diwali, Holi, Christmas etc. Then some human, filled to the core with overflowing Indian-ness, decided to send the affectionate messages prior to the said special occasions and voila! – advance wishes. Suck it Airtel. But this seemed to the logical thing to do, where is the Indian middle class virtue?? It’s in the fact that even after the arrival of free messaging services, the advance messaging mentality thrives. We like to play it safe. Just in case, they decide to fuck with us and start charging. I got some wishes for the New Year 10 days before the calendar said so. Because life is uncertain like that.
Moving on. How many of us bought a pen stand during the days when studies WERE interesting?? I mean I never did. I made one from my mother’s old bangles and Fevicol and it worked fine until just recently. Currently I am using a Fastrack watch packaging as a pen stand. This is the simplest of the wonderful thing that Jugaad is. And we Indians have mastered it. We essentially beat the shit out of the elite space nations by successfully sending Mangalyan to Mars through Jugaad. Google ‘jugaad’ and you’ll be amazed by the innovation coming from even the smallest of communities.
And how can the description of Indian middles class be complete without our finest trick – bargaining. We don’t budge without winning a concession, however small, meaningless it may be to our financial situation. Discounts and sales are collective orgasms for Indian consumers and it’s exploited by brands shamelessly. Even if we are affluent, discounts seal the deal. Be it buying vegetables, clothes or an unrecognizable product we won’t ever need, bargaining is essential. Shopkeepers start questioning your IQ if you don’t bargain. To survive as a consumer in this country, either learn the subtleties of bargaining of befriend someone who has mastered this art-form. As Russell Peters famously put it – “Indians and Chinese cannot business together. Chinese cannot give a bargain and Indians cannot live without one.”
Growing up in an Indian middle class family, of which a majority of us inadvertently a part of, teaches us a lot. We get to learn about resource management, which is just a very civilized alias for jugaad. No matter how limited the resources, if you can’t work something out, you will struggle in life. From the makeshift pen-stands to achieving the final result to be proved by any means necessary (even if it means committing numerous mathematical sins), Jugaad is an essential survival skill. We also learn to annoy the shit out of shopkeepers with our top-of-the-class bargaining skills and with the unwarranted longevity of a simple transaction all because neither the shopkeeper nor the buyer would budge from their respective stance.
The middle class is an integral part of an overwhelming majority of Indians based on per capita income. There are positives and there are negatives. But that doesn’t change anything. Even those who graduate from lower to higher middle class of cross over the barrier into the elite rich suckers find it difficult to shed the so called middle class customs – bargaining and jugaad among others. But it’s fun no matter what.
And instead of blabbering on and on, may I recommend Sarabhai vs Sarabhai to better understand the Indian middle class. Also 'Do Dooni Chaar'.
Also published on Campusghanta.com.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Here's Why Gunther is the Single Most Standout Character in F.R.I.E.N.D.S


F.R.I.E.N.D.S is probably a massive milestone among all that humanity and civilizations have achieved so far. Friends probably ignited the whole concept of ‘binge watching’ as soon as it was available. You don’t just watch one or two seasons of Friends and leave it for something else. Such humans capable of that crime don’t exist and they shouldn’t be allowed to roam this holy planet.

Of all the characters we have fallen in love with, of all the stars who made guest appearances, of all the anecdotes, of all the jokes Chandler made, of all the women Joey slept with, one character, one persona, one man stood out – Gunther. I might or might not be exaggerating here, but if I have to choose one character, just one, I would say Gunther. Here is my defense–

Each one of the six friends is equal in all aspects, Gunther stands out.
Considering all those who frequented Central Perk, Gunther was the most unique of all. All the six friends – Ross, Chandler, Joey, Rachel, Monica and Phoebe, are equal in lot of aspects. They are all equally fun, charismatic and it’s extremely difficult to single out a character that made a mark. Of course we have our favorites, but there’s no denying that no one character is better than others in all aspects. Such was the genius behind the show. Each character has five best friends. And this is where Gunther takes the crown. He’s awkwardly funny, miserable, but funny. He is not a member of the group but his presence is acknowledged as he’s invited to the parties the gang throws.

Everyone is as impatient as the next friend in the group, Gunther stands out.
If a website takes more than 3 seconds to load, users prefer not to visit that site again. We lack the patience to wait in lines to pay the bills and for tickets. Such is our level of impatience. Of course, in the 1990s when Friends ruled the television, the situation in terms of patience wasn’t much different. On Friends, it was Ross and his now immortalized sandwich. In times like that if a simple guy waits patiently for the girl of his dreams one breakup after another, for that perfect moment to swoop in, he wins the crown for me. Patience is a virtue rarely seen these days, even on television.

Follows the path of non-violence, so Gunther stands out.
I always had a feeling that in one of these episodes, Gunther would murder or hire a hit-man to kill one of Rachel’s boyfriend and the sitcom would go True Detective style. Honestly I admire Gunther’s endurance constantly tested by the boyfriends, some annoying as hell. He firmly believed Rachel will be his, sooner or later. Somewhere in parallel universe, it might have happened, hard to tell. But Gunther, I salute you man for not going all Saw on Ross and others.

Very relatable to the rest of our love stories that ended before starting, so Gunther stands out.
Most of us have that secret crush we all hope would materialize one day, but instead our love dies a painful death at the hands of some paleontologist Ross, Paolo, Tag or worse, Ross again. Rachel was maybe a bit too good for Gunther, a little high maintenance for someone as simple as him. Still he pursued her, selflessly meeting her demands at the café, more so because it was his job but you get the drift.

Hairstyle. BAM! Gunther stands out.
Assemble an army of a thousand blondes of all shades and styles and my man will stand out in the crowd - silky, silver white hair retrieved from the Antarctic. Enough said.

Defense rests.


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