Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Getting the boot

There really doesnt seem to be any doubt as to what is in this summer both in India as well as across the world. Like all 'in things', it started off with one person taking the lead and daring to be different. To boldly do what nobody has done before.
And now just about everybody is doing it. P Chidambaram was at the receiving end of one from a Sikh journalist protesting against the clean chit handed out by the central government's pet puppy - the CBI. Well actually Jagadish Tyler was at the receiving end of that. It is unfortunate that it took a shoe to shake the Congress of its shamelessness but at least it finally took away hispromised Lok Sabha candidate position. The BJP's top brass hasnt been spared either - L K Advani was the target of the former district president of the BJP in Katni.

With so many companies & NGOs spreading the awareness of elections & accountability to the Indian public, its only a matter of time before more people start taking out their frustrations on our non-performing assets who masquerade as concerned politicians. unfortunately the shoe will eventually no longer be 'cool'. What then ? The smelly socks strategy isnt something that has been experimented with. The pink chaddies (chaddie = underwear) campaign in India did get off to a good start. I shudder to think if someone were to latch onto the idea & use that instead. Actually, now that I think of it I would actually enjoy someone throwing a pink chaddi at any one (or more) of our honestly corrupt politicians instead of just mailing one to them. Would make for good viewing & our news channels would air it continuously for a few days. That plus the IPL = nonsensical bliss.

2 things ...

It seems that are only 2 things to be found at the tips of the tongues of just about everybody right now

The general elections &


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Part 1

Dear Reader,
In these times of penny pinching corporates & papers screaming about the recession hit economy & the daily fear of getting laid off, it always makes sense to have a plan B. And a Plan C. A Plan D wouldnt hurt either. After a lot of thinking and a bit of soul searching I think Ive stumbled upon a Plan B which is absolutely golden. In fact it is so good that Im thinking I could shift it to my Plan A in some time. What exactly is my plan - To start my very own church.
Part of a much bigger plan which will be revealed eventually.

Now those who know me are probably laughing their heads off. Im not one they would associate with the church going kind, much less priestly material. To be honest I am a the regular Sunday mass going kind, nothing more nothing less. I like the values the Church talks about but I am not a fan of their practices and the petty politics they indulge in. Unfortunately its turned into a money making business & the Church is doing all it can to rake in the moolah. Add to that a number of their policies are pretty crappy which is what turns away a number of people even if they do come to Church every Sunday. No point in having jam packed churches if the faithful arent all that faithful.

In my, as yet unnamed, Church orthodoxy will be given the heave ho. No more struggling to wake up your kids on a Sunday morning for catechism classes. Sunday was the day the Lord rested and so should all of us. A more leisurely 10:30 AM Sunday school session is more like it (The priests need to sleep too you see ....) Of course, parents cannot force their kids to attend fearing that if they dont send them to Sunday school, they will not get the requisite certificates from the local parish priest when the time comes (which actually does happen in Kerala) If the kids want to attend then they should ask their parents to take them. Parents cannot in such circumstances claim laziness (since the classes are only at 10:30; how lazy are they ??).

Masses will be long enough not to be called short and short enough not to be called long. Nobody will be turned away from the Churches - Christians from other sects, non Christians, atheists are all welcome. Music will be an integral part of the service. However no rip-offs of other songs will be permitted (in my church, we unfortunately have a hymn which is set to the tune of Go West by the Pet Shop Boys (edit: not the Beach Boys as wrongly attributed earlier, thanks to Reuben for pointing it out). Also freedom of singing is permitted, no member attending service is permitted to give dirty looks to people who are less vocally gifted than the rest.

Readings will be open to all the attendees. No having the same people coming and reading in the same manner every single Sunday. No continuous sitting and then continuous standing and then continuous sitting and then standing .... Based on 25 years of (self) historical records, I have found that too much sitting makes the mind wander in boredom & too much standing leads to shuffling of the feet and wondering when the priest will get over so that you can sit and rest your aching legs. So the masses will be designed accordingly.

Of course, the priests will no longer have to follow traditional ways as well. No more white flowing cassocks and holier than thou clean shaven looks. Well if polka dotted shirts & bell bottoms are the rage this fashion season theres no reason why the priest should be prevented from joining his fashionista congregation. He will of course be permitted to try hair styles of his choice (spiked, coloured, traditional, bald etc) and is free to have facial hair (none, trimmed, shaped or left wild). Oh did I mention women priests will be allowed too. We all want a progressive society & I can find not one reason as to why a woman priest shouldnt be allowed to preach. In fact women can preach (in the non churchly way) much better than men.

Most importantly no preaching values which cannot be followed in this day and age. We openly talk about how difficult it is in India to manage with all our archaic laws & how something needs to be done to deal with these out of times laws which were written either in the British times or soon after they left. With all due respect to the Church, we are dealing with values are being preached from a book which is 2000 years old. We hear about how we should turn the left cheek when hit on the right one. How many people would actually do that today ? None. Nowadays its a case of 'if you slap me on the right cheek, I will slap you on the right cheek, the left cheek, bash your head with my fist & kicking the living daylights out of you....'. So old school values get the boot & more modern workable values will be preached.

All this is fine & good, so how is it going to be financially viable I hear you ask? The bills arent going to get paid by magic. Well to be honest, the days of putting in 20 bucks for sunday collection will be out the window. If you can afford to come for mass in a hatchback car like the Santro surely you can afford a 50. A Honda City owner can easily put in a 100 instead of the tenner he usually drops. Own a palatial house with a Merc parked in your driveway - is a couple of 100s too much to ask especially considering youre asking the Man above for enough money to add a BMW to your garage. Ok so I hear some of you saying what if we dont want to flaunt the wealth we have by putting a 500 rupee note ? Two words - online transactions. Thats right, transparent transactions of the online kind with monthly bank statements open to the public with the donators name hidden if he/she desires. Gone are the days of praying to God for
all you want and not giving anything in return.

Before I forget, enough of having to come to church to get married under age old customs without giving them any freedom of choice. In fact its becoming ridiculously difficult to get a church that is not booked on a weekend to conduct your wedding. Instead my church will openly suggest to its faithful to think outside the box when it comes to marriage. Dreaming of that perfect wedding on a sunset beach? So be it, we will send our priest, you tell us the location. Want to have a complete beach theme ? No problem, we will send the priest in a Hawaiian shirt & red shorts. Underwater marriage catches your fancy ? We will send you a priest who knows to swim to say the mass. In his swim wear of course. The sky is the limit. Speaking of which if you do want to get married while being airdropped off a plane, we do think that exchanging the rings in mid air might be a bit of an issue .....

Signed,Neil D

Head, ________ Church (blank will be filled in when a suitable name is found, suggestions welcome)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Stop ! Dont change that channel !!

To me the most apt way of reading society is in the advertisments that we see on TV. Hold on, hold on, I know that youre probably laughing away to glory wondering now how in the world is he going to justify this statement ? Trust me I do have an explanation for this. Take your favourite TV show and for once dont switch channels when its time for a break. 90+ % of the time you will find that the products they advertise during that break will be directly targetting you. Now you may not buy that product / service but you know that if you didnt already have it and were probably looking to buy it , then you would be interested in that ad for sure. And not without reason, companies spend a fortune on getting data on the demographics of the people watching shows on TV & create and position their ads accordingly. For example you might find a lot of ads targetting kids (such as bubble gum ads) during Ten Sports' wrestling programs. Bike manufacturers will advertise heavily during major cricket tournaments. Who can forget the storm that Bajaj raised with its hoodibaba series of ads (which were a set of exciting incremental ads that really built a brand name for the bike) that were unvieled during the World Cup if I am not mistaken.

Which is why I was initially surprised while watching the ads during a break of MTV's Splitsvilla and noticed two different companies advertising their morning pill poducts. And they are regular avertisers on the program. Now MTV Splitsvilla is something that I never used to watch until a couple of weeks back and it involves a bunch of guys and girls competing to become the temporary King and Queen which grants them immunity while somebody else gets kicked off. What they actually are attempting to win I have no idea. Take one bunch of oversmart 19 - 20 year old kids who have narcissistic tendencies that border the abnormal and super inflated egoes that could actually have them float away into the stratosphere if they were not careful and add to it one generous helping of MTV's deliberate attempts to cause friction and you have one masala fest. Cat fights, non stop bitching and shameless politics that would put the BJP & Congress to shame is the name of the game. Basically its a crap show thats designed to grab eyeballs by providing cheap thrills to entertain our Indian audiences which are fortunately otherwise bereft of similar 'entertainment'.
Which is all fine except for the fact that I still cant digest the morning pill ads being placed there. It doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out that this means these companies have identified that among the large number of viewers of the program (I would roughly guesstimate that a substantial portion would be in the 15 - 26 age group) there is a substantial set that are having sex & require this pill assuming they have been daft enough not to use a condom, bloody Indians ! How many in this age group does one really think are married? Sigh, whatever happened to traditional Indian values ? Sometimes I think its better to stick to watching the shows itself and switch channels the moment an ad arrives.

Giftically Challenged

There is that phase in life when youre old enough that youre working and have finished all possible avenues of education & qualified enough to be Eligible for Marriage (EfM), which ideally means youre around 25 - 26 and earning comfortably & you have a nice rosy career charted out for yourself. No worries in life either you might think. True, except for cases when a friend is getting married and you and your guy friends have to go for the wedding with a gift. For the record, I think it would be safe to say that on behalf of all Indian men - 'We dont really enjoy (but we pretend to) or understand (but we again pretend to) shopping, we dont know that it is that makes women walk all around a store & eventually pick up the 1st item they saw'. Throw in wedding shopping and EfM guys and its a case of the blind leading the blind. I even coined a term for it - Giftically Challenged.

On the face of it, it shouldnt be that bad. Buy something that they will use in the house, my parents told me. Fair enough. First option - bed sheets and pillow cases. But we had no idea if they would have already got those for themselves and if our gift would become redundant. What if we bought ones that didnt match the colour of the walls or the overall colour theme of the house. Besides what do 25 year old guys know about buying bed sheets anyway. And so bed sheets get the boot.

Next up - cutlery. Some of my relatives still use dinner sets that they got for their wedding decades ago, for home use today. Which is nice except for the fact that we were worried about what would happen if our potential gift was the n-th cutlery set that was gifted to them. I mean, how many forks and knives will 2 people use ? Incidentally, today my dad was telling me how for his wedding, they got 8 meat choppers (which was the in-thing in those days) as gifts ! Point proved.

Rapidly running out of options, we hit upon the idea of a wall clock. We found a few good looking ones but again the whole will it match the walls problem came up. Fortunately we managed to find an exquisite clock which had a misty glass base which could therefore go well on any background anywhere and picked it up. So one would think that things are back to normal which is right only to an extent cause come to think of it, all of us who picked up the gift are all EfM. And now that a clock has been bought, thats off the possibility list. I guess when my turn eventually comes, maybe I'll have to get used to eating with one set of forks & spoons for breakfast, a different set for lunch and a different one for dinner. And rotate between different sets of 3 everyday. Or maybe I'll have to change the colour of the walls of the different rooms in my home according to the bedsheets, cushions, lamp shades, curtains and what not that I might get. I think a P.S - 'No gifts please !' on the invite would make more sense.