Thursday, December 8, 2016

Does Amma deserve sanctity?

My mobile flashed. “She is dead and this time it is irrevocable”; said dad’s pun intended text message. After all the media tantrums about Amma being dead and coming back to life several times, dad finally confirmed that she is really dead. The only little perks of dad being in the press are that I get breaking news a little earlier. Since yesterday evening, the way media is fostering her accomplishments and her life, her path to righteousness and so on, I’m pretty sure she’ll attain sanctity after death. But does she really deserve it?

Even Superman is Amma fan!
I don’t know much about her past and since I grew up in the early and late 90s, I’ve been hearing/following her only from the past decade. If she has done very noble deeds in the pre 90s, by virtue of which she is getting this sainthood, then probably I am off beam. But I don’t believe that is any true. She was never a great admirer of democracy. I have always seen her narcissistic conduct in front of media, in party meetings and many other public forums. Not just common man, she made even the ministers in her own cabinet fall on her feet “literally” and receive blessings. Although my TN friends tried to convince me that they did it out of pure respect for her, I fairly disagree to it. Oh! Come on. In a democracy like India, there are lots of other ways to show benevolence to your superiors. Amma in locket, Amma in wedding ring, Amma’s picture in wedding card instead of bride, I mean that is ridiculous! Above all, Irony committed suicide when O Panneerselvam kept her picture in the Chief Minister’s armchair during her prolonged illness and he sat next to it giving public statements that Amma is still the Chief Minister and that I am just following her orders. Her dictatorship made Tamil Nadu a totalitarian state which in other words is a great blow to democracy.
O Panneerselvam taking blessings from Amma
Coming to her arrogance, the whole world knows about it. It was like she always flaunted arrogance and displayed it, carried it with her in forums where it was totally uncalled for. That stance of her only showed her self-importance. I do not know why people called her voice of aam aadmi and sensationalized the whole interview when she ruthlessly ill-behaved in a TV interview with Karan Thapar. I’m not a Karan Thapar admirer. But according to me that was a premeditated way of winning confidence of certain section of the society; an opening that gave her secured access to votes of particular class of people and nothing more. She was accused of changing ministers in her cabinet who was against her strategies and ideals. I’ve also heard from many that Nepotism was at peak in entire TN State during her tenure as chief minister.
Amma is in supporter's heart!

She openly accused Marans and DMK of corruption but herself had few cases against her. Among them, funds misappropriation and disproportionate asset cases gained national importance. When she was acquitted, she came back with more power and egotism and she used it to further her authority in the state and national politics. My memories of how public life was thrown out of gear whenever she visited Bangalore for case hearings with Z grade security is still afresh in my mind. When Chennai had severe floods and relief material was sent, her supporters stamping every relief bag with stickers of Amma spoke volumes on how much power hungry and autocratic she was. Her conceited image was actually celebrated by many subordinates and followers across her state.

I believe even for the native Tamilians and their economy, she has done more harm than good by giving freebies to secure more votes. Every Amma supporter in the state of Tamil Nadu state today has a color TV, mixer grinder, Laptop and many more things to lead a comfortable life and they even get a sumptuous meal for just 10 bucks, thanks to Amma canteen. But on the other side, in the name of freebies, TN’s debt has increased to more than 2 lakh crore. Currently TN’s fiscal deficit is at 40,000 crore.
Ksheerabhishekam (milk bath) for Amma by her supporters
But why media is sensationalizing her death by calling her “Iron Lady”, “Lady who broke Gender barriers”, Revolutionary leader” and so on? If death can obliterate all the terrible deeds of 60 years of one’s life, what is the difference between a true saint’s life and hers?  Does she really deserve it? It is for us to decide. This whole thing reminds me of a saying which I read somewhere:

Death changes everything… Time changes nothing!

Image courtesy: ThUnrealTimes and Indiatimes

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Please do not throw rotten tomatoes at the judiciary

This has been a year of judicial tragedy for Indian democracy. Or does it look like? Within a year, many celebrity criminals walked free escaping punishment. Court freed a Chief Minister from the clutches of a fund misappropriation case, a famous actor was acquitted of a heinous crime, a rape victim tried in a juvenile court and sent to asylum  and now the Cauvery verdict which is not at all fair for our state. From past few days, social media is abuzz with memes, statements and cartoons making fun of Indian Judicial system. Many of my friends on WhatsApp blamed our judiciary for the Cauvery verdict. Some went ahead and accused even the justice bench to be close aides of TN Chief Minister and hence the verdict is pro TN. I agree that the verdict is unfair for Karnataka, but the blasphemy on our judiciary is not just right. For me, there appeared to be a sense of lawlessness among people. My dear friends, our judiciary is doing its job impeccably and there is no way we can hold our judiciary culpable for someone else’s folly.

If you can recall what we all studied in primary school social science, the three pillars of Indian democracy are the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. It is executive and its representative’s responsibility to maintain law and order in public life. And who are these representatives? The President, The Prime Minister and other appointed officials of Government. It is their duty to make sure that law and order is not overlooked and they are legally made responsible for people’s social and collective well-being. Judges are appointed to interpret and enforce the law. They belong to a different pillar called judiciary. Now good governance lies in the co-operative functioning of these two pillars. I can compare this to a professor-student relationship. Just because two or three students in the class failed, you cannot put the blame on professor when the rest have managed to score well. Just because the student got sick, professor cannot fill in for him in exams, although the professor is aware of the student's capabilities. Just like the professor has a certain decorum of University which he has to follow, the judges are also abided by rules of the constitution. Teaching is his job which he is doing excellently. In other words, the “judiciary” pillar is functioning perfectly. On the other hand, the “student” pillar (executive) cannot blame the other pillar (judiciary) for its own mistake. In fact, the professor is trying to balance by taking that extra load when required.

Now, coming onto emotions of people; it is not that emotion does not play its part during a case hearing. After all judges are human beings, just like you and me. Without that, judges can be replaced by robots. So I strongly deem that emotions definitely have scope in any case hearing. But it is always tempered according to the arguments put forth by the lawyers and prosecutors. This is where the dexterity of the appointed lawyers come into picture. If a lawyer fails to take advantage of this, it is not judiciary’s problem. I believe this is what happened in the Cauvery Verdict. Any justice bench would have given a similar verdict with the way Karnataka's legal team presented the case.

Emotion can never be a strong driver in a legal analysis. In other words, during the entire case hearing, it should never be the bad cop. If this happens, it is a dangerous sign. A judge can never consider the emotions outside the purview of the case in the final judgment. In a practical scenario, deliberation is not as easy to handle as it is read from the verdicts and newspaper write-ups.The logical model of judicial decision-making is very different from that of how we perceive things from outside.    

As a common man, we are indeed emotional and it is okay to protest. But there are lot of other peaceful ways. The least we can do is not to give ears to the rumors that judge was unfaithful, justice bench was surreptitious, judiciary is a failure or other such nonsense. By doing this, we are vexing others and thus spreading hatred. Before coming to conclusion in such occasions, think wise and don’t let your rage blind spot the facts and figures. Instead of instinctively making the judicial system a bad cop, albeit the challenges, for now and for a long time to come, let us appreciate the fact that ours is one of the best judicial systems of the world. 

Image courtesy:, and othlananmaklu page on fb

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ragi Mudde and the desi food disinclination propaganda

A friend’s post on Facebook about Ragi Mudde being called as Tarta De Millet Balle in one of the uber restaurants of the city made me furious; even more so after learning that they are selling it for 800₹. Not the 800₹ part; Keep it aside. We all know that those deep pocketed fat-cats who don’t mind paying are in abundance. But I was very much agitated by the fact that restaurant owners are trying to capitalize on regional delicacies by changing their names and without giving due credits to the original recipe. The pro arguments that the taste is still the same; and that fact that authentic local cuisines are taken to widespread audience is all good. But the need to give it a funky name and make it sound trendy and jazzy is just not right. It is a pure marketing gimmick.

Authentic Ragi Mudde

Eating is not about taste alone. It is strongly and intensely a social need. From times immemorial, what people eat never showed class differences to a larger extent. But of late, the social phenomenon of eating has taken shape in such a way that people have started identifying themselves with others by eating what elites and the aristocrats consume. Marooned in the mediocrity of social climbing, the blue collar population has started consuming food they find despicable, but cannot avoid because of social generosity. Pizza is a good example. Gradually this also gave rise to a trend that knowledge of foreign cuisines like French and Italian (even if you can read and pronounce the names of the food items) meant the person is more cool and cosmopolitan. Thus the middle class got attracted to foreign gourmet. In doing all these, somewhere in between the social climbing and overlooking our vernacular food, highly nutritious cuisines like #RagiMudde, which has been the staple food of the south karnataka’s middle class, is branded with lower class association.

Sugar Frosted Flakes changed to Frosted flakes of Corn
Now the frequency of even the middle class eating desi gourmet like #RagiMudde has considerably reduced. Just think of your own example: How often do you eat #RagiMudde vs how often do you eat Gobi Manchurian? There are exceptions, but aren’t the numbers are largely inclined towards the latter? The result is that even the desi cuisines are much in demand and hence have attained the luxury status. Now understanding this change in people’s gourmet preferences have benefitted the restaurants in a big way. And the result is amazingly lucrative. But on the other side, just imagine if the restaurant still sells it with the name #RagiMudde; most of us would be largely offended to pay 800 bucks for an austere #RagiMudde. So the only way out is to bridge this gap. This is exactly what the uber restaurants in the city are trying to capitalize on. Changing names of desi food items and putting a hefty price tag and selling it. Ultimately we are the victims.

KFC advertisement in 1978 said "Kentucky Fried Chicken"

This result of thoughtful menu planning and marketing is pure MBA stuff [which even I have studied to an extent ;)]. They are done by expert gourmet marketing consultants who charge a fortune for the job to be done. Just changing the name of a very healthy desi cuisine which costs only 10 bucks to prepare is fetching them 800 bucks. Imagine the trend. Not only #RagiMudde, There are a number of other examples as well. Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC because the word “fried” freaked out the fitness aficionados. Sugar frosted Flakes became Frosted corn flakes since sugar was not considered welcome ingredient in breakfast, especially for children. People were not comfortable saying “Rapeseed oil” so it got renamed to “Canola oil” to boost sales.

The same KFC advertisement post 2000
Don’t fall for such mega marketing trends and pay a hefty price for just a name changed local gourmet which is disguised as an international cuisine. If the menu does not describe it enough to understand, call the managers and ask them what it is. I always prefer the local fast food joints who prepare good south Indian to restaurants who call themselves specialized in North Indian, South Indian, Chinese, Tandoor and Continental. Next time you go to a restaurant and see “fermented lentil and rice flour crepe with spiced potato filling”, don’t get carried away. It is nothing but Masala Dosa. If your colleague says I prepared “steamed rice breads with spicy vegetable broth stew”, slap her hard and ask her to call it idly.

And for god’s sake, never ever pay 800 bucks for Tarta De Millet Balle. It is an insult to Raagi mudde.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Sorry Rajni saar... I watched Kabali online

I am really sorry Rajni saar. This time with a saddened spirit, I am telling you that I could not be a part of the “Kabali” extravaganza. I tried hard to resist, but in the end I succumbed to the monetary inflation of movie tickets occurring at an alarmingly high rate in Namma Bengaluru. While my Chennai and Hyderabad friends were doing check-ins with “Kabali Da”statuses on facebook on the very first day of its release, I had no other go but to find solace on torrents. I myself am discouraged, but what to do saar? I am a middle class man who cannot afford to spend 1000 bucks for 2 hours of entertainment.
Kabali Da
Saar, I don’t have to tell you that the "The movie aficionado" inside a true native Bangalorean is not confined to just Kannada movies. If you recall your old days in Bangalore circa 1970s; right from then, we have watched Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, English and even good Malayalam movies in theaters. Post 90s, all your movies have run to packed houses with more than 100 shows a day in namma Bengaluru's theaters. Whoa! We are true cosmopolitan that way saar. Kabali was no different. In fact the Kabali craze was something that I have never seen or witnessed for any of your other movies.

But saar, of late, our movie watching experience in theaters too has seen a radical change.  With the demolishing of old individual theaters and advent of malls and multiplexes, the ticket prices have sky rocketed. This is where the problem is. Multiplexes are sucking the pockets of Bangalore's middle class saar! The engrossing growth that namma Bengaluru has witnessed in the past decade has infused a sense of envy among the neighborhood. But it is never a delight when it comes to movie watching experience for us Bangaloreans. Exorbitant movie ticket prices are haunting us, the middle class movie lovers! Bangalore has become neighbors envy, but not owners pride saar!

Kabali ticket price in Bangalore 450Rs and 500 Rs
Even though the advent of malls and multiplexes is seen in Chennai and Hyderabad, the ticket price has remained almost the same. A movie in Prasad's iMax of Hyderabad is never more than 200 Rs. The same movie in a Bangalore's multiplex costs a whopping 800 Rs. I don’t know why this kolaveri saar. I myself have seen movies in Big cinemas of Chennai for as low as 10 bucks. Yes saar, you read it right. 10 jujubi bucks kanna! But Bangaloreans cannot watch the same movie for less than 500 Rs. This is a double standard no saar? Just log onto bookmyshow, PVR or Inox website. Choose Kabali and plainly compare the ticket prices for Bangalore and other cities. You'll be amazed to see that tickets in Bangalore theaters are exorbitantly high compared to other cities.
Kabali ticket price in Chennai - 120 Rs and 10 Rs

Not just power cuts and traffic snarls; political apathy in Karnataka has hit the entertainment too. Unlike AP, Telangana or TN, there is no government intervention in regulating the prices of movie tickets here. So the multiplexes like PVR and Inox are selling the movie tickets at exorbitant prices and naming it "Gold Class". But why the same PVR does not offer "gold class" in Hyderabad or Chennai? No answers from them saar. Why the movie tickets in the neighboring states are not above 250 for any show, any movie? The government is also to be blamed. Our government takes examples of neighboring states while increasing prices of milk and other consumer goods. Why not for movie tickets?
Kabali ticket price in Hyderabad (Prasad iMax) - 150 Rs

When a new movie is released, an average Bangalorean talks about downloading the pirated version than going to theater. Let us consider my own case, which is also the case of lakhs of other Bangaloreans. Being a movie fanatic and considering that I watch Bollywood, Hollywood, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada movies too, I end up watching a minimum of 3-4 movies a month. I spend an average of 2500-3000 Rs a month on movies. The figure is way too high if I include my family. It is of course a burden on my pocket. So I’ve set-up a Raspberry Pi streaming network on my PC so that I can download movies from pirated sites and watch it directly on my home theater TV.

The home entertainment has seen a radical make-over with advent of torrents and file sharing apps. Firstly, it is "almost" theater experience for me. Thanks to HD content availability as soon as a movie is released. Secondly and importantly, savings of 2000 bucks straight. Thirdly, having to pay a hefty surcharge by yenna rascala service providers like bookmyshow (they charge 45-50 Rs as surcharge for 2 tickets) has worn off the hypothetical family of four. They claim to have so many offers. But I have not found even one kanna who has been able to make use of it saar. Lastly, movies at home are advertisement free. So many ads in between a movie are so annoying. People who are little less tech savvy than me are buying the pirated DVDs in open markets. People with smart phones are watching and sharing movies on their mobile and tabs. Things like these are working wonders for middle class family in keeping them away from theaters.

I still remember watching some of your movies saar. I think it was Baba and Padayappa in Nataraj Theater. With your entry, people shouting “Thalaiva, Thalaiva” in unison and doing Abhishekam from Nandini milk packets, throwing coins from back…. Oh! The bliss. It was worth every penny! It is only sad that middle class people like me cannot afford it anymore.

Unless our government wakes up from sleep, nothing happens and also you can’t do much. So forget it saar. I just wanted to tell you that I also can’t do much other than being apologetic only. I wish you reach even greater heights of your stardom. I’m signing off secretly wishing that piracy flourishes until someone does something about it. Good night saar!

Image courtesy – and

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Men are from SLRs, Women are from selfies

I had read about disasters caused with the whims of selfies, but had ignored it as usual social exaggeration. But after looking at the number of people indulging in selfies in so odd ways, I started realizing that it is not an overstatement at all. I don’t think any other social problem has affected the mental health of tech savvy population as severely as Selfie Obsession. I’m not going to argue if men take more selfies or woman. It is much more than just numbers because both men and women do it habitually these days. Of late, I’ve seen lots of female photographers travelling around with their DSLRs clicking stunning pictures. But photography has remained andro-centric to a large extent. On the other side, selfies are becoming gyno-centric and the female population is over dramatizing it.  With selfies, I’ve seen more occasions of narcissism displayed by women than men. Yeah! I said Narcissism because I’ve seen girls craving for selfies. It has become a decree among the group of teenage girls who endorse it. It has become the symbol of vanity for young women.
Add caption
This incident happened in Jaipur’s Jantar Mantar. I was busy trying to capture the best of the monument and beside me was a group of people. The guide, out of pure passion, was explaining the astronomical design principles of Indians in 17th century and the affluence of ancient Hindu Sanskrit texts used in astronomy.  A lady in the group, out of blues, came to him and said “bhaiya ek minute ruko na please” (which translates to “please give us a minute”) and started searching something in her hand bag. I thought she was about to make notes. But to my surprise, she took out her phone, selfie stick and started taking selfies with other girls. I was shocked! I could not fathom how self obsessed and egocentric could she get. So much sham for just a pic of yours? I could not comprehend the fact that she has travelled thousands of miles to do nothing but take selfies. I just kept thinking; to what extent this selfie craze has rid humans of common sense.
Bipasha Basu with Pout selfie
In the same trip, the perturbation caused to me by my wife to take selfies was so much that my DSLR was just hanging in there for major part of the trip. From then on, I was just trying to keep a tab on things around me. Surprisingly, almost in every tourist attraction of Rajasthan, except the newlyweds and a “couple” of exception, the guys in the groups were trying to experiment with their cameras & mobile phones but the girls were busy taking selfies in whatsoever way. Back at home, when my other friends asked us how the trip was, my wife accused me of not taking enough selfies! By enough, she means posing and clicking until the perfect one is clicked. Her idea of a perfect Selfie is the one which is taken with everyone’s cranky and grumpy expression of utmost annoyance in order to make everyone look sexy and attractive. And if the place of interest is even faintly visible, that is great!
A popular meme on selfie narcissism by women
If you hate posing for selfies, you’d understand this. I don’t know what is more annoying than posing for selfies in public places. Taking a selfie is another thing altogether. At any given point of time, I can either make a face or concentrate. I am still trying to figure out how girls concentrate and smile at the same time easily. Most of the selfies posted on social media according to me is pretence. And the pretence comes with different filters to make it look even more pretence. Selfies by female celebrities with pout has reached all time heights. Damsels posting selfies with taglines like “hating me doesn’t make you pretty” and “phew.. I thought I wasn’t pretty anymore” are pretty common on my Instagram feed.
Posing for selfie isn't easy
I am trying my best not to be gender biased. But just look around and closely observe the female selfie enthusiasts. We all have that one girl in the group who changes whatsapp DP every day. A woman’s make-up time has increased because of selfies, says a survey. Do you know that selfies have sent sale of make-up kits soaring in the UK? Isn’t it is very apparent that selfie obsession can be correlated to all the possible narcissistic qualities in a woman; Vanity, cocky, self admiration and excessively conceited? Trying to be cocky in public places is totally annoying. I’ve seen that they scoff at the notion of Dos and Don’ts and continue taking selfies. The amount of vanity they exhibit… Ugh! Both on social media and real time, too much of vanity is utterly irksome. The internet is full of stories like “people who died tragically taking selfies”, “selfie accidents” and “selfie disasters”.  I truly believe that these are just the consequences of narcissism reaching dangerous levels.
Selfie while driving can be very dangerous!
It doesn’t come as a surprise to me that Russian internal ministry released a “selfie safety guide”. Tourism departments across the world are adding selfie sticks to the “Not allowed” category. I’m not saying that we should stop taking selfies. If you like it, please do it. Occasional selfies are good. Even deviating from the standard social custom and defining your own uber-cool is also acceptable. But please watch out. There are more modest things that you could have done at the moment instead of taking a selfie. Your social media feeds are not for yourself. It is watched by virtuous people too and you need to respect them. Mothers who take selfies everywhere are unknowingly teaching their kids nonsense. Imperfection at times is okay and that also is a way of life. You are not obligated to tell the world, from a restroom, that you look sexy. There are better places to do that. Please be wary and take heed. Because…..

Your self respect is always of a high decorum compared to your Selfie respect. 

Image credits: indiatimes, pinterest and time

Sunday, February 21, 2016

A million dollar question

I thought the whole of my mind’s capacity is immense and I always believed that emotionally, I’m a very strong man. But from past couple of weeks, my emotional weakness has intensified within me and I’ve started to know and feel things that I’ve never known or felt before. I’m trying to refuse to venture into the thought that I’ve conceded defeat, but I’m not able to fight it. I’ve never seen deaths in my family/friends circle, I’ve never seen anyone experience hardship and physical agony this hopelessly. My granny is on death bed from a few weeks and this is the source of my disturbance.

Good old days of my Grandma
For the records, she is 93 and is an Alzheimer’s disease patient from past couple of years. She was fit and fine, she used to read The Deccan Herald everyday and with her little insights to what is happening around, she used to tell me how messed up the world is, today. Things changed slowly; she lost control over her memory, she started hallucinating and could recall only things from past. But all that was still fine with us because we, at home, were quite used to her absentmindedness and were pretty much accustomed to her awkward behavior. In fact, at times, when every other person in the family retaliated to her violent behavior (she was really uncontrollable sometimes), I nonchalantly disregarded it. Things have changed so much in the past few months. She is lying there, in the corner of a room, just breathing. She is making an attempt to speak something but none of us are able to make any sense of it. She is not recognizing any of us. Her hands and legs have crumbled being in the same position; her motor functions are reduced by more than 90%. She has bed sores over her back. She’s going through an absolute realm of pain & suffering and she is not even able to express it. Imagine how relentless it is that if a housefly sits on her nose, she has to make peace with it instead of shooing it away!

With grandchildren, on her 90th birthday
In the midst of it, a good number of my grandmother’s kin are visiting my home out of purest form of reverence and compassion, for the sweet and adorable lady that my granny was through her life. Majority of them talk about how active she was during the prime of her life. One of my cousins had nick named her “The Mask” because she was so swift that she used to get coffee from the kitchen like a whirlwind.  Some are making desperate attempts to show that they also care by pretending to sham and offer help. And of course there those one hundred percent pure assholes too who are more interested in watching Kannada soaps than empathizing with us for what happened. I don’t know if she can hear at all; because if she really does, she would regret having met these people in her life for the rest of her life. Very few are compassionate and offering every bit of help they could, in monetary and sensitive terms, to extend her death and keep her alive.

We have hired a caretaker to look after her. A paramedic comes home every week to assess her health. We are all doing our best to keep her alive. But I think this is exactly what is making me very poignant. “Are we extending the duration of her suffering by trying to keep her alive?” I tried to discuss this with senior citizens of the family. Some quoted Gita and talked about “karma” or “soul” and others gave reference to some gradation called “taaratamya”. I don’t have much insight into these. I am trying to convince myself by thinking that what they say may be true. The fact that they have seen more deaths and they don’t seem to get unbalanced by this at all, really surprise me.
A few days before she was bedridden

I’ve always seen people offering prayers for someone to get well. We’ve always been taught to hope for other’s wellbeing. But here I am, standing, praying to god to do exactly the opposite. I don’t know if I am responding more emotionally than is justified or assessing too highly of the scenario; I’ve been pondering over this for some time. The more I think, the more I realize that death is the most complicated thing I’ve ever come across in my life so far.

Every time when I am home, when I sit by her side, feeding her food, when I look at her crumbled legs and hands, this question boggles my brain: Should we continue to take good care of her which will only prolong her suffering or should we stop being so conscientious and put an end to her suffering early and be culpable and guilty for the rest of our lives? This, trust me, is a million dollar question!

I’m badly trying to restore some sanity to my brain!