Move Over, Heer-Ranjha

To get a glimpse of the future of Indian television, consider these two news items:

1. Rakhi Sawant has announced a new reality show on NDTV Imagine in which she will begin “a nationwide search for her perfect husband along with the support of the audiences.” Fifteen dudes will be shortlisted, and at the end of the season, she will marry one of them. (If the marriage doesn’t last and the show is a success, she could do it again next year.)

2. A study has revealed that Varun Gandhi has “emerged as the new favourite of prime time TV news in the past two weeks.” After his controversial comments against Muslims, he “managed to achieve 22.57 hours of prime time coverage across six prominent channels,” about 9 hours more than the IPL, which was the second-most talked about topic.

You know where all this is going, don’t you? Yes, I hereby propose that Varun Gandhi be enticed to take part in the NDTV Imagine show, Rakhi Ka Swayamvar. He is eligible and from a noted family, she is voluptuous and hunting for a groom, and they both generate TRPs like cows generate milk. (Don’t ask why that image came to mind.) Also, it will keep the man out of politics, and the country needs that.

And will he win? Well, duh! I mean, imagine the Q&A round:

Rakhi: If someone attacks me, what will you do?

Varun: If someone raises his hand against you, I will cut his hand off.

Rakhi: If someone forcibly kisses me, what will you do?

Varun: If someone kisses you, I will cut his head off.

Now, in this context, she is totally going to find his comments romantic, not repulsive. And even if Varun doesn’t cut off Mika’s head, he could certainly take a leaf out of his father’s book and get forcible nasbandi done on Mika. Imagine the TRPs if that happens live.

Also imagine if, while walking to the mandap, Rakhi and Varun fall into a well and are trapped inside. Oh, the news, the viewers, the ratings, the media planners swirling in ecstasy! I have seen the future, and it is this, it is this, it is this…

(Rakhi link via email from Kind Friend. More Rakhi on IU: 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.)

Throwing The Shoe

We all know what it means to throw the book at someone, and now it seems that dictionaries will soon have to make space for a new phrase—‘throwing the shoe.’ The origin would be the journalist who threw a shoe at George W Bush a few months ago, and it seems to be becoming a trend now that a journalist in a press conference has hurled a shoe at P Chidambaram. (In a PC, at PC, as it happens.)

The Home Minister was referring to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots when the journalist, Jarnail Singh, asked him a question regarding the CBI clean-chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler.

When Chidambaram averted the question, Jarnail Singh – who works with Hindi daily Dainik Jagaran – threw a shoe at him.

In case you were curious, the shoe missed, which might well lead to informal courses in shoe throwing being conducted in the canteens of journalism schools. Now, what would the phrase ‘throwing the shoe’ actually mean? One possibility: ‘An over-the-top act of protest born out of the frustration of the futility of other forms of protest.’ It could, thus encompass acts that don’t involve shoes at all—though if it involves throwing other things, it could lead to confusion. Like, imagine if a protester throws a TV at a politician, and a journalist reporting it files a report beginning, “In Hazratganj this morning, an irate protester threw the shoe at politician Jagdish Tytler.” And his editor hauls him up.

Editor: Your report begins by saying that some dude threw a shoe. But it turns out that he threw a TV.

Reporter: Yes, sir, that’s a figure of speech.

Editor: Figure of speech, my ass. Which idiot says it is a figure of speech?

Reporter: Sir, I read it on my favourite blog: India Uncut.

Editor: Well, now you will have more time to read your favourite blog. Much more time.

Reporter: [Worried that he’ll be sacked] Sir, please don’t throw the shoe at me!

(Link via email from Gautam.)

Update: I didn’t realize that throwing shoes at politicians has already become a trend, and Wen Jiabao and an Israeli ambassador have had shoes thrown at them recently. I hope this practice doesn’t spread to book launches.

Weather Guarantee

Sadly, the following line is from Cricinfo, not The Onion:

According to the ICC, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) were unable to provide a guarantee during a teleconference on Wednesday that there would be no rains in Colombo during the tournament which runs from September 24-October 5.

I can understand the ICC’s concerns about the weather, but why on earth go through the charade of asking for a guarantee that would be no rains during that time? It is a characteristic of our species to assume certainty about matters that are inherently uncertain, but surely no one could possibly think that the weather is one of those things.

You know what the SLC dude should have said when the ICC fellow asked him for a guarantee?

“Sure, I can give you a guarantee,” he should have said, “but first you have to give me a guarantee.”


“You have to give me a guarantee that no one from the ICC will fart between now and then.”

“Excuse me? Why?”

“Because if you fart, the massive amount of methane produced might upset the balance in the atmosphere, thus causing rain in South Asia. You get what I’m saying? Go easy on the rajma.”

(HT: Manan.)

Reincarnation And Bureaucracy

It’s Friday morning and I’m feeling lethargic, but it would be a travesty not to blog this magnificent WTF headline:

China says it must approve Dalai Lama reincarnation

This is quite in line with the news I’d blogged about a couple of years ago, about China blocking Buddhist monks from reincarnating without permission. I’m amazed that we don’t yet have a Ministry for Reincarnation in India. I can totally imagine dead souls queuing up at a babu’s desk, applying in triplicate to born again as a rich person.

“You want to be reborn in the Ambani family?” asks the babu. “Hmmm. I get that a lot. Now, what chai paani can you offer me to, ahem, process your application?”

“Chai paani? But I’m just a spirit. We’re not allowed to carry any material possessions with us from Earth.”

“Oh ho,” says the babu. “Of course you are. You can carry spirits. You just needed to slip the dude at Crematorium Customs some remuneration for his services. Foolish man. Slumdog for you.”

(Link via email from Santosh.)

A Terrorist Offence

Two terrorists gather outside VT station. In their bags, they carry AK-47s. They look at their watches. It is almost time.

“Come, my friend,” says one. “Let us go in and shoot a few people brutally in cold blood in the name of God. Bang bang!”

“Wait,” says the other. “You’re forgetting something.”


“We need to buy a platform ticket first.”


On that note, allow me to present to you the headline of the day:

Kasab booked for entering CST without ticket

This is not just throwing the book, but throwing the bookmark. I bet Lashkar never accounted for this.

(HT: Anand.)


PS: Blogging’s been a bit slow because of some work that came up. I’ll resume full-swing in a day or two. Your patience is appreciated—and your pestilence is solicited.

Four Minutes And 55 Seconds

AP reports:

The High Court in New Delhi is so behind in its work that it could take up to 466 years to clear the enormous backlog, the court’s chief justice said in a damning report that illustrates the decrepitude of India’s judicial system.

The Delhi High Court races through each case in an average of four minutes and 55 seconds but still has tens of thousands of cases pending, including upward of 600 that are more than 20 years old, according to the report.

More than the 466 years, it’s the four minutes and 55 seconds that blows my mind. Imagine—your neighbour steals your ox, and you file a case against him, and it goes to the high court. And then you wait and wait and wait. As science advances, you undergo fancy therapies that slow the aging process. The ox dies. The children of the ox die. Generations of oxen pass on to the great farm in the sky. Your neighbour dies, but you keep his brain preserved in a vat. All your organs give way, but you battle on, kept alive by technology, yet afraid to exhale too hard for fear of causing the final malfunction. And then, finally, after 466 years, in 2475 AD, your case is finally heard.

After four minutes and 55 seconds of deliberations the judge, a GoogRoSoft supercomputer, decides that you have lost. All the witnesses are dead, as is the ox.

“I waited so long for this,” you wheeze. “So long, so long. This is not fair.”

“Well,” says the GoogRoSoft supercomputer, “you can always appeal to the Supreme Court.”

Meanwhile, in the vat, the brain throbs with laughter.

(HT: Reader Dev, who also points me to the Supreme Court’s definition of ‘idiot’. Wonder how long they took to come up with that.)

Hello, Beloved

Mint reports:

The next time an Indian parliamentarian says in the House that a “communist” member of Parliament (MP) is up to his usual “tricks” in making a “boring” speech, the book could get thrown at him.

At least if Parliament decides to go by the book: in this case, the latest edition of Unparliamentary Expressions, a 900-page tome published by the Lok Sabha secretariat that governs speech in Parliament and also state legislatures.

“I did not know words such as ‘stern school master’, ‘unfortunate’, ‘shy’ and ‘stunt’ were unparliamentary until I read this book,” said a slightly confused Tathagata Satpathy, a Lok Sabha MP from Orissa. For good measure, the good book says even the word “confused” is somewhat unparliamentary.


For Rs850, the book tells you that one cannot be “ashamed” in Parliament and cannot address a lady presiding officer as “beloved”. Neither can one simply say “hello” to catch the chair or Speaker’s attention.

I’m dying to know which MP addressed which lady presiding officer as beloved. What context could there possibly be for that? And I can imagine an MP rising to his feet and shouting “Hello” at the speaker. The speaker turns to him.

“You scoundrel fellow,” he says, “you dusht shaitan. Do you not know it is unparliamentary to say ‘hello’ to me?”

“Sir, I wasn’t saying ‘hello’ to you,” replies the MP. “I was merely answering my mobile phone. I’m on hands-free. And now if you’ll excuse me… Beloved, can you call later, please? I’m in parliament.”

A ToI report has more examples of this silliness, informing us that calling the president a “poor fellow” is not allowed. Considering that Pratibha Patil is our president, I don’t see why anyone would bother, but I guess every precaution must be taken. “Weed” is also an unparliamentary term, so I guess it’s a good thing that Matthew Hayden is not an Indian legislator.

(Links via separate emails from Gaurav and SK.)

Taking A Stand

Joby Warrick of The Washington Post reports:

The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.

Four blue pills. Viagra.

“Take one of these. You’ll love it,” the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.

The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes—followed by a request for more pills.

For U.S. intelligence officials, this is how some crucial battles in Afghanistan are fought and won.

I can imagine what will happen if our intelligence networks hear of this. First, they will place a large order (with taxpayers’ money, of course) for many, many tons of Viagra. Then, just as field operatives are about to be handed strategic supplies, the chief of the bureau will raise a finger. “Wait,” he will say, “if these pills don’t work, or have side effects, they could turn out to be counterproductive for us. There is only way to make sure that they work as advertised.” He will pop a pill into his waiting mouth.

Ten minutes later, he will call his wife on her mobile phone, his hands vibrating with excitement as he holds his instrument.

“Darling,” he will say, “I am coming home in ten minutes. Be ready for me. Wear something nice.”

“Ok, I will wear my Patola sari. But why, what happened?”

“Duty calls!”

(Link via email from Arun Hiregange.)

Politics And The Rorschach Test

A few days ago, I blogged about how Deepak Chopra, on the Larry King Show, said that the Mumbai attacks might have been caused by Barack Obama’s friendly overtures towards Muslims. Well, the irrepressible Sitaram Yechuri has come up with an equally crackpot causation:

What brought the terrorist outfits to our shores? With the Indo-US nuclear deal you are seen as an ally of the US, a strategic partner. There seems to be a total lack of appreciation of this thought from the government’s side.

I guess one should be happy that Yechuri hasn’t blamed India’s liberalization for the attacks. The world is like a Rorschach Inkblot Test for our politicians: they interpret it according to their worldviews, which may often not correspond to reality. The Indian Left parties’ pet hates are capitalism and the USA—the influence of both is virtually ubiquitous, and so anything that goes wrong anywhere can be blamed on one or both of the two.

I can imagine the following scene:

Yechuri arrives at his breakfast table in the morning, in his trademark red pajamas, and browses through the newspaper. His wife comes from the kitchen to place a hard boiled egg in front of him.

Mrs Yechuri: Anything interesting in the papers, darling?

Sitaram: Mmm, not yet, still looking. (Sees something and jumps up.) Yes! Yes! Found something!

Mrs Yechuri: What?

Sitaram: This is happening because of American imperialism! This is happening because of rampant consumerism! In fact, the BJP is also to blame for this!

Mrs Yechuri: What is it? What are you talking about?

Sitaram: This news in Hindustan Times: Techie grooms go out of favour.

(ToI link via email from Anu.)

Guilty By Association?

Just yesterday the Indian media was jumping up and down in celebration because they had discovered an Indian name among Barack Obama’s advisors—that of Sonal Shah of Well, now they’re all jumping up and down in righteous indignation because she was once allegedly linked to the VHP. My friend Reuben Abraham knows Shah well, and delivers an impassioned defense:

As a friend of mine said at the time, these people are doing to Sonal exactly what the right-wing loonies tried to do to Barack Obama with the Bill Ayers story, i.e., guilt by association. If you have made the mistake of being somewhere near Bill Ayers, by definition, you’re “palling with the terrorists.” This is vile. This is wrong. This is destructive. This is disgusting. And this is precisely the sort of vile politics that the United States needs a break from; the sort of politics the average person is tired of, if Obama’s mandate is anything to go by.

More than Reuben’s personal testimony, Shah’s record speaks for itself:

While she was at Clinton’s treasury department, she worked actively in Kosovo and Bosnia in setting up the central banking system and refloating the currency, both measures vital to the stability of the new states, and especially in preventing hyper-inflation. She also worked in Indonesia during the Asian financial crisis with Robert Rubin’s team. Lest the irony be lost, all three countries are predominantly muslim, not exactly the natural home of the anti-muslim fundamentalist some of these news reports imply Sonal is.

Fawzia Naqvi, a Pakistani Muslim, also pitches in for Shah in Reuben’s post.

If the elections were still on, poor Obama would no doubt be accused of “palling around with Hindu fundamentalists”.


Imagine this: You die, get to Heaven, and God greets you at the door. “Let me in,” you say. “I’ve been good all my life, I’ve helped old ladies cross the road, administered first aid to a fly, procreated for the grace of God, I mean You. Now let me into Heaven.”

“Aha,” says God. “You didn’t read the small print. The large print in the contract says that you don’t get into heaven if you have sinned. The small print says that you don’t get into heaven if anyone you know has sinned.”

“Anyone I know?” you protest. “But that’s absurd.”

“That’s the way it is,” says God. “And if no one you know has sinned, I might just invoke the six-degrees clause. You thought Earth had global warming. You ain’t seen Hell yet.”