Chaos Theory-The Common Wealth Games

The Commonwealth Games Organizing committee  has put up some travel tips for the foreign tourists traveling to India during the games. TOI ran an article.

I went to the website and browsed through the section. They have done a decent job of putting together a lot of detailed instructions, some seemingly trivial points to actually useful ones. Few of the tips are hilarious though, more so because they actually make sense and are perfectly applicable in the crazy milieu that is India.

Picked up a few gems from the list. And added my notes ;)

1) Be aware that public displays of affection (hugging, kissing) are generally not appreciated. However, it is common to see men showing affection and camaraderie on the roads and in villages throughout the country.

Crystal clear advice. Enjoy the joie-de-vivre around and our awesome camaraderie. Just don’t touch us. Or better, keep away from your boyfriend/girlfriend too.

2) If you are male introduced to a lady or a grown-up girl, don’t take the initiative of offering a handshake. If she extends her hand, you must reciprocate, but don’t be the first to extend your hand.

Taking initiative for a handshake is punishable by 1000 lashings in public under the Indian Penal Code section 203A. And if you do not reciprocate a woman’s handshake, the little finger on your left hand will be cut off and parceled to your home country.Cross your fingers correctly,or lose them.

3) If you find the lady is not extending a hand shake, go for the Namastey. Even with men, the Namastey can be an excellent little PR gimmick! Follow it up with a kaise hai (how are you?) and you have broken the first block of ice if one there was!

This is fun. Usually the response will be “Arey behnnc*od, yeh angrez hamari bhasa kab se bol ne lage.Oi vherry nice ji,vherry nice”. Don’t panic. Just smile and walk away quietly.

4) Many Indians are in the habit of shaking their head in the course of conversation or taking instructions. Don’t show amusement if you witness this.

Don’t show any amusement. Just tag along and nod your head vigorously too, the great Indian nod. Learn by watching this video :

5) Politics can be freely discussed in India and most people will have an opinion which they will not mind being contradicted, but avoid discussing religion.

So if you are in a mood for adventure, find a noisy bunch of Indians and start a topic on politics and just for the heck of it, contradict everything they say.
“Manmohan Singh is a bad PM”
“So are you saying Manmohan Singh is a good PM?”
“Do you even know who our PM is?”
Note: Indians eat spicy food and are considered to be temperamental people.Just a fore-warning.

6)In India, public toilet facilities are few and far between and outside of the hotels and restaurants can be of dubious cleanliness. We recommend taking every opportunity you can to use a clean toilet in hotels and restaurants and that you carry tissues/wet wipes with you.

THIS. This is the most useful advice to anyone visiting India or for that matter anyone living in India too. Don’t bring your dirty stuff outdoors . Leave it at home.

7) Never buy food from roadside stalls or mobile canteens. Not that they are necessarily bad, but one’s system may not be accustomed to such delicacies which may result in an upset stomach.

This is a polite way of saying – do not to get adventurous with Indian food. If you get cocky with Indian food, it will eat you, not the other way round. This and the previous advice are correlated, of course. Also,this is a clever way of making the tourists eat at expensive places and thus increase our tourism revenue .(Russell Peters Indian voice)India got brains,buddy.

8) Wash your hands before and after eating.

You need not carry any water bottles with you. We have a hand-wash facility every 10 meters in India. Just reach for your nearest pothole.

9) If you are buying from roadside stalls or hawkers be prepared to bargain. Start by offering half the price and settle for 60 per cent.

We are ages ahead of you dumb westerners. We’ve already instructed the shopkeepers to quote 8 times the price to start with.

10) Even in the most cosmopolitan of cities in India the chances are that your different appearance might mean that you will be stared at. Please do not be offended. No harm is meant, it is just curiosity.

Also,we Indian men believe ogling at a white female showers us with the blessings of the Hindu deities. No wild sexual fantasies are involved during the ogling.

11) Self- drive cars though available are not recommended as it is not advisable for you to drive on the Indian roads with all the traffic.

Never say “Over my dead body” when in India. You’ll never even know what hit you.

So while the other nations look on with amusement and the chaos and pandemonium going on,all we can do is pray that the games go on smoothly. I’m sure there is going to lot of unintended fun; lets hope that the safety of participants and tourists are ensured. Or we’ll simply blame it on the British.

As a song lyric in Peepli Live goes,

….Baat hai chhoti bada patangad
Arrey India sir yeh cheez durandhar
Jaib dalidar dil hai samandar
Jaib dalidar dil hai samandar……

If interested : CWG OC Travel Tips


BJP: The Jas-not-want-ed situation

Last week I heard a couple of friends lamenting the pathetic state BJP is in now. It is true. The “party with a difference” has morphed into a “party with lot of differences”. Lets analyze. Should we start with why Mr.Jaswant Singh, an ex- in the party, had a brainwave that he should write a book on Jinnah, or in the first place,write a book? Varied possibilities shoot out. Just to kill time, to whip up some juicy controversy to get himself publicity and popularity, or the more plausible wanting-to-project-himself-as-the-brand-new-liberal-and-secular-leader etc etc. Mr.Singh chuckles.Heh.Or gives an evil grin. Whatever his motive was, one can be almost sure it didn’t involve him getting expelled from the party and finding himself saying this: “From the Hanuman of the party I have become the Raavan“. Staying true to the party’s ideology by picking characters from the Ramayana. Nicely done. But that is just the beginning…of the end.

Now, Mr.Singh takes the Ramayana ideology a tad too seriously and dons the role of Vibishana, letting out a few skeletons out of the BJP closet, one everyday. Few of you might object to comparing Singh to Raavan’s noble sibling; point noted. Seizing the moment by its throat,another BJP biggie, Arun Shourie jumps to add non-iodized salt to BJP wounds. I was amused for one,that an elderly staunch Hindutva pro politician referencing Humpty Dumpty and Alice(in Blunderland). May be he is trying to strike a chord with Kindergarten & nursery going kids because Politics is a hot topic of discussion for the kids at that age when they are not crying their eyes out over a chocolate snatched by another bullying kid in class. Well, well, if we thought this was enough damage done for us to remember even till the next elections, few within the party did not want to take any chances. Spicy Avakkai pickle on the wounds. And the credit goes to RSS Chief Sudarshan (repeats what JS said earlier). Branching a bit, this Jinnah guy must have been some dude to be able to influence people so long after he’s gone. TOI ran an article on last Sunday referring him as He-who-must-not-be-named or The Dark Lord (from HP series). Touche :P

Thus, skeletons kept rolling out of the closet. Actually, this might have been a sort of theme this month at Delhi. India no match for China,says Navy chief , Pokhran 2 was a fizzle make me say this. Hopefully good sense will prevail soon and wont get to hear things like,hmmm, Lalu was offered DDLJ before ShahRukh,says Rabri or T-Rex never existed (I don’t know about others, but this would be a major trauma for me :D)

The big question is, with the biggest opposition party in the parliament left utterly toothless, how much will it hurt the nation. It will considerably. Sonia Gandhi and Mr.PM must be trying hard to stifle their giggles seeing the goings on with their opponents, BJP and the Left . BJP needs to come out of the ridiculous illusion that the party’s standpoint on Jinnah is going to affect its image or the votes. It needs to come in sync with the current generation and understand that its a worthless endeavor to dig into the past and this passion is better reserved for addressing the issues faced by India,for our future; for keeping the ruling party on its toes and seeing to it that the promises made are delivered. The sooner it happens, the better for the party and more importantly, for the country.

February the 14th :D

If you are single and its Valentine’s day, you gottu admit somewhere in a teeny weeny corner of your mind (or heart???) you feel – I wish I didn’t have to celebrate this day just wishing every idiot (of course gals :P) around. But not this time around; this year, all the singles in India have an ‘excuse’. Feb 14th seems to bear more ill omen than any Friday the 13th you knew earlier.The caped of Indian culture, the utterly-unmasked vigilante, the ‘Dark’ Knight if I must say (On second thoughts, ‘Joker’ is a better name, I daresay) is patrolling the streets of Bangalore City. The Dark Lord is gathering his forces; the ‘Eye’ is watching over you in every coffee shop, every restaurant,not to mention any pub you will dare to enter. So my request to the concerned guys and gals – Celebrate Valentine’s day safely.Do not be seen in the proximity of a coffee shop or a pub. It might be injurious to your bf/gf’s health . Or by the end of day, you might end up a married couple ;)

But the whole drama has now taken a very spicy twist . A larger,more formidable force is rising – The ‘Pink Chaddi’ brigade. Battle Royale is on the cards. One can sense a palpable tension in the air as the day approaches.Meanwhile, a popular news channel reporter caught one ‘monkey’ from the ‘Sene’. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Q: What’s your plan for the Valentine’s day, err..Sir?
A: Quite simple,catch women in tight jeans and teach them Indian culture,in a peaceful manner,with one or two slaps

Q: Do you think doing this will protect Indian culture?
A: Think? I am not programmed to think. Next question

Q: What is your methodology of finding these ‘Pub-going,loose and forward’ women?
A: See, we have these ‘noodle-strap,tight-jeans’ detecting devices fitted on our tongues.We just have to go about wagging our tongues throughout the city. Once these ‘futuristic’ devices detect something, they start beeping and that’s the time we go berserk

Q: And what plans do you have to counter the ‘pink chaddi’ campaign?
A: Don’t you know of a guy who wears ‘red chaddi’ and protects the world? Red nahi to pink hi sahi

Q: The original ‘SriRamaSene’ had only one agenda : to save their queen from the clutches of Ravana and bring her back. Isn’t it ironic that you are one of ‘Sene’ and have plans which are quite deviating from the original one?
A : There was no other ‘ShriRamasene’. We are the only authentic ‘monkeys’ of our kind (much cheering in the background) and our only aim is to protect the Indian Culture

(Suddenly the device starts beeping and he realizes the reporter is wearing a tight jeans. End of interview. It was reported later that the reporter was safe, much to the chagrin of the ‘Joker’ and his followers)

Happy Valentine’s Day :)

The ‘Slumdog’ Debate

I had to stop my Kudremukha Travelogue Part 2 midway to write this post. I finally watched Slumdog Millionaire today, on the big screen.Most people have already seen the movie. So this is not a full-fledged review. And thank god I didn’t heed those numerous advices from people (Download it and watch it. Not worth watching in theatre. Its normal masala movie). But therein lies the movie’s strength. This movie is entertaining cinematic experience at its best. Yes, it is a masala entertainer.

‘Tu Mere Saath Daance Karegi Na…’

My idea of judging how great a movie is simple – images from the movies still come to your mind , you are humming the songs from the movie & you think about the characters from the movie long after you left the movie hall. There are such sequences galore in this movie. All the actors do their job very well – nice chemistry between the lead pair, the kid Jamal, a wicked Anil Kapoor’s superlative performance etc.And Rahman’s background score pitches in with perfect timing, everytime. All the little song sequences in the movie are highly entertaining.(Particularly O Saaya in the opening minutes, which sets the tone for the rest of the movie) And the movie as a whole is,to quote a cliche, a visual treat. Overall, loved it. All I can say is either be an intelligent movie goer and know what to expect from the movie and enjoy it or keep cribbing how you’ve know idea how this ‘average masala’ movie is garnering awards in bucketfuls all round the world.

‘Shut up! The Man With The Colt 45 says shut up!’

Now to the big debate. The ‘award worthiness’ of the movie and protests from obscure organizations about Indians being called slumdogs in the movie.By this time, it should be amply evident what kind of Indian movies win recognition in the West – the other side of the world where the Oscars are distributed. A peek into the past to look for the Indian movies that won oscar nominations will make the picture clear- Lagaan,Salaam Bombay,Mother India. My thinking is they see it as artistic cinema – this depiction of the underbelly of rural & slum-ridden India in all its pathos. For instance,even the first glimpse of Taj Mahal in the movie is shown with some filthy water body in the foreground (Or is it the Yamuna???). And when the movie has entertainment value with colorful Bollywood song-and-dance thrown in, its icing on the cake.And to extend this observation to another medium, consider another recent award-winning piece – The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. Every sentence in the Man-Booker prize winning literary work drips with not-so-subtle hints about the malodorousness prevalent in the Indian society,veering towards plain yuckiness regularly in its 300-page story. Many people have the same opinion as Slumdog about this book too. The message should be clear by now.

Slumdog Millionaire is now a frontrunnner for the Oscars. So lets root for it. I sure hope Rahman wins an Oscar (yeah yeah, I know he’s given much better movies in the past.Now stop whining :P)

‘It is written’