Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Decision On Quota Is Final: Arjun Singh

CNN-IBN's famous one-on-one talk show The Devil's Advocate recently held an interview with Arjun Singh, the prick-in-chief who's bringing in the reservations for different castes in order to somehow, magically, 'unite' India.

I was referred to it from the latest post on YouthCurry. You should check it out if you're looking for excerpts of the interview. However, I personally think the entire interview is well worth a read. Its infuriating when you read the words of this top minister when he talks of trading our future for his votes, as well as very educative and informative when it comes to the entire ruckus being made about reservations. You can see what an almighty waste of good oxygen someone like Arjun Singh is. You can marvel at Karan Thapar's resilience, for sticking to his facts and penetrating questions, and also his extraordinary self-restraint, for not hitting Arjun Singh on the head with a bat [which is something I swear I would have done at the time!].

My favourite portions of the interview:

Karan Thapar: Do you personally also, as Minister of Human Resource Development, believe that reservations is the right and proper way to help the OBCs?
Arjun Singh: Certainly, that is one of the most important ways to do it.
Karan Thapar: The right way?
Arjun Singh: Also the right way

and also....

Karan Thapar: But there are people who feel that their lives and their futures are at stake and they are undertaking fasts until death.
Arjun Singh: It is being hyped up, I don't want to go into that.
Karan Thapar: Do you have no sympathy for them?
Arjun Singh: I have every sympathy.
Karan Thapar: But you say it is being hyped up.
Arjun Singh: Yes, it is hyped up.
Karan Thapar: So, then, what sympathy are you showing?
Arjun Singh: I am showing sympathy to them and not to those who are hyping it up.

Read the full interview I say, and please let me know what you think of it.

Monday, May 22, 2006

"Border" of Sanity

Now I've always been a huge fan of war movies. I greatly admire the Indian Army and am in awe of what our country's soldiers are capable of. Recently I saw what is supposed to be India's most successful and most watched war movie to date - Border. All of you have, I'm sure, seen it. Its part of Republic Day and Independence Day ceremonies just as much as flag hoisting, and march-past and all.

Whenever I saw it before, I found the heroism of the soldiers in the face of tremendous adversity moving and inspiring. I was moved and inspired. Cheeks burning with pride, eyes shining, I'd dream for two entire days about being a soldier. But this time, for the first time, I noticed the discrepancies and glaring editorial mistakes in the film. I'm going to share a few that I noticed straight away, and you can all give me your take on them.

First of all, Sunny Deol and the leader of the Pakistani army seem to be holding a shouting match over and above the noise of the artillery, every now and then throughout the movie. Like the shooting and all stops, and these people enhance each other's vocabulary for a while.

The displays of individual heroism, not only left me unmoved, but even caught me smirking unconsciously at the lack of reality in Bollywood films. There was Sunil Shetty, with his mind-numbing histrionic talents, trying to emote as he walked down the hill with 2 anti-tank mines even as the entire Pakistani force shot at him. [This is after he has been blown off his artillery station by a grenade. He is supposed to be dead but wakes up suddenly, murmuring "Maa and what not" and begins all this naatak.] He walked upto the tank of the main bad-guy-in-chief, who suddenly notices the mines in his hands. He yells at his tank-driver to back up the tank! But Shetty runs along with the tank, with a Jack Nicholson smile on his bloodied face! They go like that for a while -- tank with frightened-out-of-his-wits chap backing and Shetty chasing, tank with idiot-soldier-not-using-his-gun backing and Shetty grinning now, and chasing. Then suddenly with a burst of energy, mostly in the form of sound, Shetty breaks into a run and dives behind the tank with the mines. The tank blows up as Shetty's victorious scream echoes through the battlefield. A blend of "Yaaaaaaa!!!!" because of the pain and all, and "Maaaaa!!!" because he always does that. The result was like a "yaa-maaaha!", the first recorded instance of in-film brand advertising. The Indian unit seems to pause from shooting and all of time stops, everyone suddenly either reloading their guns or musing on the decibel levels shatter-able by Bollywood filmstars.

Akshay Khanna was also in the movie. He has considerable romantic reel in the film, which is the only excuse I can offer for that stupid grin that he wears all the time. In the initial frames, his interest is more towards his co-actress than valiantly dying for his country, but towards the end he shapes up alright. His moment of glory is when he's rolling down the Indians' embankment carrying two Paki soldiers with him. Once he gets up and kills them with a slash of his knife, he finds himself caught in some sort of spotlight coming from the Pakistani tanks. For exactly one whole minute, he stands there just like that, in a sort of crouch, and then finally slowly gets up. He walks casually, grin in place, across the barb wires and reaches the other end. At that point, I suppose, it suddenly occurs to the Pakistani general that this sort of stuff ain't gonna be tolerated, so he orders his men to shoot. Shoot they do, but Akshay's too fast. Its an often-proven rule of Hindi movies that, and I quote - If hero is shot at by 20 gunmen [scum such as Kaalia, Raakaa, Samba, Raabert or miscellaneous Paki soldiers] then they will not be able to shoot him down without losing atleast half of their number. If they even manage to get him that is. Unquote. One day, I will tell you about the experiences I have had with Mithunda movies, and you will see what I mean. For now, check out this post by GreatBong.

Akshay falls ultimately, in the tragic-hero-who-has-given-up-life-for-nation-thus-sacrificing-family-happiness style, on the barbed wires and sways on it gently. He falls, but he does not die. Indian soldiers do not really die until they are dragged by Sunny Deol back to their encampment. Once he rescues the poor soldiers, he gives them a dose of Sunny-treatment, that is to say he screams at them from all of 2 feet away to "Move!! Move !! Mooovvvve!!!!". They then reminisce about their family and loved ones with the aid of Anu Malik music and slowly the light fades from their eyes. Akshay Khanna dies.

Akshay Khanna dead, Sunil Shetty dead, the chef who cracks the jokes dead. Sunny Deol cannot be killed. This is another universal law proved in more films than I can count upto. Whatever you do, you cannot kill the man. End of story. So its no surprise when, seeing all the dead bodies, Sunny paaji grimfaced packs grenades on his body, picks up a rocket launcher [which was stashed away till the end of the movie in order to shock and awe the Pakistanis] and marches out shouting "Jo bole so blah blah!!!". He launches rockets and stuff from it. Then takes out his knife to personally rip apart the entire army. He even personally blows up 3-4 tanks by dropping grenades inside them from the chimney opening at the top. Sunny Deol = Santa Claus in battle-gear!

There is, I distinctly remember, a scene where he takes a bullet in the leg after he has rescued Akshay Khanna from the barbed wire and is strutting back to the Indian dressing-room. Another scene when he is shot in the chest [cleverly enough, its the right side so you know its not the heart and he cant possibly die because of it]. But by the end of the movie, he is back to clean and neat uniform, albeit with some dust on the pagdi but thats excusable, and strutting around the battlefield with his living comrades. I repeat, you cannot harm a baal on Sunny's head. And that is not a pun for the pagdi he's wearing.

Border inspired lots of people, and has been hailed as India's greatest war movie, but I found it hopelessly unreal and overtly macho on far too many occasions. After having seen The Thin Red Line, on which this movie was based, and masterpieces such as Saving Private Ryan, you begin to understand the sheer vastness of a battlefield and the incredible atmosphere that surrounds a normal soldier. Border's football field sized battle ground, endless harping on ethereal Bollywood concepts of "Maa! Mein jaa raha hoon!" and Dhartimaa ka karz philosophy leaves me unmoved now. Unmoved except for the laughter that shakes me involuntarily, when I see Sunny's angry boy expression. Or Sunil Shetty when he was playing peekaboo with Pakistani tankmen.

I know I'm being a little too satirical about this blockbuster of the 90s. I cant explain the reason for the sudden cynicism that I have developed about Bollywood. Maybe Akshay Khanna's dying scene wasnt quite as ludicrous as I make it out to be. It could be because I was listening to music on my iPod at the moment that I couldn't absorb the scene's gravity. My burst of laughter at his death, I know, was thoroughly justified and I defend it. Just as he fell on the barbed wire, riddled with bullets, Daniel Powter began on my iPod - "Aw So you had a bad day, You're takin one down, You sing a sad song, Just to turn it around...You had a bad daaaayyyy, you had a bad day!" Am I to be blamed? The agony of his mother's wails, his flashbacks of fun and frolics with Pooja Bhatt in the village fields, were completely lost to me.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Success In Exams...You Can Win!

ISC results have just come out, spelling doom and what-the-f*** for many and causing an eruption of celebration in the lives of several others. Board results brought out a mixed bag of feelings in my case. I did horrendously in my science subjects [which I AM going to send for rechecking no matter how useless that might prove] but did overwhelmingly well in the other subjects, to ensure a pretty good sounding aggregate next to my name. I dont get the reason behind my Hindi scores either. Nor everyone else's.

Anyway, I was talking about mixed bags of feelings. I went through them. And like in the crassy overdone filmy style, complete with shining light of a bulb on me and my face turned towards its source [as if it were God playing lightman], I asked rhetorically - What does it take, to do really really awesomely well in examinations? Besides studying of course.

Like the murmurs of spirits in the darkness, forgotten words echoed and with a sudden upwelling of reverence, I fell to my knees. For a moment I thought I heard nothing, then I cleared my ears again. I heard it. It was the wisdom of the ages....whispering up from the chasms of the earth. Surprised me for a moment, because I thought God would speak from the sky and the heavens and all. But anyway, two things I realized as the truth dawned on me: one, I'm a bloody Dan Brown passage-internaliser.

The second thing comes here. I distinctly remember the atmosphere around me as I sat for my ISC exams. My seat was positioned such that I had the successful students as well as dum-dums around me. The key to successful examination-giving, I now know, lies in the temperament and attitude of an examinee while in the hall. Allow me to elaborate in a more organized form the different mannerisms I noticed in my fellow examinees.

1. The Foot Tappers: These are the souls who found their solace and a sense of calm in hitting the wooden floor of the auditorium with their feet, producing a cacophony of different beats and an eclectic mix of genres as each person gave the beat to his own song. Foot-tappers are found among the high as well as the low, that is to say the toppers as well as the middlers and utter jackasses. As they say, successful people dont do different things, they just tap feet differently. The different foot-tapping styles I discovered give clues to the inate ability, not to mention foot-tapping skill, of a candidate to succeed in his exams. But foot tapping is not always a just reflection of a student's potential. More importantly and accurately, it is a meter to gauge the emotions of a particular student at a particular time in his examination. This brings into this branch several subsections, demanding a further breakup.

a. HardRock Tapping - HardRock is the tapping style that incorporates usage of the heels as well as the tips of the shoes. One beat is with the heel, and the next with the tip. The cycle continues. This form of tapping I have personally noticed either when the topper is having a great time, or the jackass is terribly short of time and has noticed the stack of unanswered questions he has to face. It is a shortlived maneouvre, since the candidate's ankles start hurting pretty soon and he must rest for a while.

b. Norah Jones - This form is basically the slow and gentle, apologetic sort. You can barely hear it, and you certainly have no idea what sense it makes. Like the gentle dripping of water from a loosely secured tap, or the pitter-patter of a drizzle after a heavy shower. It signifies the end of the paper for a successful student as he leans back, stares fixedly at his eraser and sharpener on the desk and appears to ponder the infinity of the universe. For a poor student, it signifies surrender to the devious mind of the examiner. He does not know anything, and he has accepted his fate. He ponders on what he will say when he walks out with his friends.

[Sometimes accompanied by even gentler out-of-tune humming.]

c. Bollywood tambourine - As the name might suggest, this is a hopeless rip-off of whichever filmi song is riding the radiowaves currently. The foot taps incessantly and with boundless energy. The beats are erratic and enter and exit both the above genres in a seamless blend. This is a sure indicator of fun and relaxation in the mind of the examinee.

2. The Piano In My Head: The pianists are the examinees who take the liberty of using the desk as their piano and the hall as their concert. Since this usually involves the usage of both hands placed at the ends of the desk, it requires that the examinee be done with his paper. Otherwise this is seen before the distribution of papers prior to the start of the ordeal.

Before the examination, it is a symbol of nervousness or cockiness depending on the maestro's facial expression. After the end of the paper, it usually always indicates a feeling of contentment and satisfaction.

Also, one can conclude that the examinee prefers Classical to HardRock. Not to mention Daniel Powter and Yanni to Bon Jovi and Aerosmith.

3. The Michael Jackson: This is the most intriguing and eyebrow-raising antic, which I had noticed in the guy sitting to my right. He's got himself a 95% so I suppose it works in some weird, creepy way. However, it could also just be a personal motivation thing for him. I mention this purely to suggest that some people have their own 'things' which help them succeed. This isnt something for everyone.

I wonder if you've seen the Friends episode in which Joey teaches Chandler about his kickstarts to turn women on as he kisses them. Well, our guy does something similar. Every once in a while, he would sit straight from over his answer sheet, stretch his arms wide [its called doing the crucifix], and then look around. He'd proceed to gently but firmly rub his left hand up and down his thighs. Just like Joey did it to the women! As he did so, he kept his eyes firmly fixed on his question paper and even occasionally wrote something on his answer sheet. At the time, I couldn't help wondering about the effects of exam tension on India's young minds. But this obviously helped him in some strange, utterly inexplicable way because he certainly has enough marks now.

4. Whistling: This has been a constant activity for me personally. I whistle when I'm nervous, so several fellow examinees played audience to the impromptu performances I gave on so many occasions. Whistling helps to calm the nerves and reaffirm one's sangfroid. Sometimes, atleast I hope so, it conveys an impression of cool in the eye of a storm. Here we are worried to death, and he whistles! What a brave, superior soul his is!

My whistling was not always cordially received. When I did it before the exam started, some in the audience would turn to me and glare. They didnt of course come to stiff words, for my austere dignity and the steeliness of my eyes restrained them. But they glared. I also sometimes did it in the middle of the examination. Elaborate and ingenious ways were contrived, for we were the smart science students pursuing engineering, to discourage my public show of emotion without attracting the wrath of the examiners and invigilators. The guy in front of me would twitch his right ear at the person on his side. He would in turn tap the desk of the person behind him. This one would crackle his knuckles at the fellow behind him, who would knock three times on the floor. Having received this signal, the person behind me would land a sharp kick to the back of my chair. I humoured them, and shut up.

5. The Pen Twirl: The twirling of one's pen in one's fingers is a legacy inherited from the days of Ringo Starr, who did the same with drum sticks. It is a non chalant expression of I'm-the-man attitude and usually supported by gentle head-bobbing and facial paralysis. The facial paralysis is the occupation hazard actually since the pen twirl requires acute concentration to a non-drummer. This combines with his attempt to keep the flamboyance on his face causing paralysis with the tongue sticking out and the eyebrows tensed.

It is a skill possessed by both the strong and the weak. But since the weak are as it is too busy trying to pass, the strong are the only perpetrators of this rather rare examination-related mannerism.

These are the top five mannerisms I can think of. Having personally observed these around me as I sat for my ISC, I know of their useability and effectiveness. For success in any examination, not just the ISC, it is imperative that you deploy a healthy dose of them. You may want to study, and thats also okay. But true success belongs to he [or she] who can cleverly blend tricks of the trade in their studying act to create his [or her (damn feminism! This is tiring)] own success story. This is not just what I say. It is the word of God. He gave me a slab to write it on too, but I knew I could remember it alright.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Slayer and Friends

I've been attending several weddings recently. Suddenly there seems to be an outbreak of wedding fever such that nearly everyone of even slightly marriageable age in my neighbourhood is jumping off the dock. If an arranged marriage can be called "jumping off the dock" of course. There are a couple of girls who are only midway through college. They are going to drop out now, in order to serve their new families with the utmost devotion and half-literacy they have to offer. Another one, hold your breath, has only just finished school!

Anyway, whatever their families decide for them is their matter, not mine. If they want to chuck away the education that thousands of homeless young girls yearn for and have Arundhati Roy campaign for, its upto them. Some girls want to be Kalpana Chawla, others watch Ekta Kapoor serials. Fine.

The point is, a wedding is an interesting place to be these days. Lots of stuff happening all the time and I've only just begun to notice it for some reason. The one I want to talk about right now is the kids that attend weddings. They've changed. I'm going to dedicate this post to just the amazing little tykes I've seen of recent at weddings.

I cant really remember what kind of kid I was back when I used to run around in carefree abandon at weddings of people I didnt know, but I was fascinated by a group of kids I happened to see at work at a recent marriage. They were I think 7 in all, all guys. Not more than seven or eight years old. I was just standing in a corner with a drink (soft) in my hands since I didnt know anyone at this place, and these cute little infernal brats were making merry near me.

They started off with playing the well-known game of Musical Chairs. The chairs were whisked from nearby and music is sort of always playing at weddings. There were 7 of them, and they'd brought 10 chairs. Hmmm...Somehow the game went on alright, despite the extra number of chairs. But these days, kids arent really disciplined. One of them in an orange shirt, whom I'm sure is going after Mike Tyson, wasnt going to be stopped by any silly rules of the game. He kept jumping into the game even after having lost. And when he was forcibly pushed out by the dude (aged 7 and a 1/2) organizing the whole activity for the 3rd time, he showed his Tysonisque colours. No he didnt bite him, but he punched like nobody's business. The poor guy went off crying for mommy. His exact words were - "(sob) (sob) Muuuhhhuuuummmyyyyyyyyyy", I believe. Orange-shirt took his place again in the game.

Another chap (aged what looked to be 4), who will be a politician of some repute, would not yield the chair once he had sat on it. The object of the game is to run around in circles and snap at the chair again when the song and dance is over, right? Just like elections? But he wouldnt budge. The others tried to make him see reason but he wouldnt understand. So they toppled him off the chair. Once again I say, like elections, right? This started off a turf war sort of thing. Orange-shirt came to the rescue and started flinging fists left and right. I like to think of him as Slayer. Slayer went through the entire group in rapid succession, his fists striking everywhere equally without discrimination. What began as a poorly set up party-game, degenerated into a melee of fists and shoves. Parents had to intervene and untangle everyone from each other.

I also ran into several other species of kid. I'm going to go into rewind mode to compare again now. Back in my days of carefree joy and youthful exuberance, I dont recall being dressed up in atrocious costumes for weddings. I have always been quietly dressed, since I can remember. The strong, silent type making a powerful impact nonetheless. You know. But I see around me little boys who cant even count upto 57, running around with beaded necklaces hanging from their necks. Not hanging actually, because they seem to be more choking than that. There are little girls wearing outright ghagharas and stuff, with sets of bangles and jewelry and armed to the teeth with makeup. These girls are also supposed to dance in the sangeet parties that precede the wedding. Sweet, innocent girls with childlike innocent joy in their faces dance to the rhythm of sweet and innocent tracks as Ishq Kameena and other such soulful item numbers.

I came across the earlier group I was hanging with at dinner time. Of course, after all the games and tantrums and boxing matches these sweet, angelic, annoying, irritating little pokemons would get hungry. They descended on the food with inspirational enthusiasm and vigour. I think they upset approximately 7.6 platters off waiters' hands. I use the .6 because one of the waiters did this incredible gymnastic manoeuvre to just catch the dish before it graced the head of Slayer. Completely baffled Slayer for a moment he did. Slayer pushed him hard in annoyance of course. Not many went by that day whose lives (and/or ribs) hadnt been touched by the little monster.

I had an interesting time, like I said, playing observer to these kids. They brought back memories of the times when I used to frolic without thought of punishments and recrimination. When we were children, we spake like children, bandied nonsense like children and kicked waiters like children. But when we grew up, we gave up childish things.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

One Night Stands & Copycatwoman - India Glorious

Now this is the limit. How far can we Indians go in our attempts to ape Western traditions? Things that Americans and the English used to do till some time back, are now being copied by Indians living in America and England too. It seems Indians have acquired a penchant for coming into global news for all the wrong reasons.

First Kaavya Viswanathan got drunk, got wild, and copy-catted every book she could find. (That almost...almost...rhymed, I think. Read it again and see.) Now that uski chori pakdi gayi she's blushing around and apologising to a new plagiarised author everyday (Salman Rushdie the latest victim). Her money is gone, her future books will not be published, and her life is kaput. The kind of blatant chori-chapaati she's done, she should be thrown out of Harvard and slapped with a lawsuit. Or atleast slapped, I say.

First she didnt even bother to respond to the allegations of copycatism. She, sometime later, denied them by sms. Then, when the cloud of hatred grew larger, she issued the crappiest and most senseless apology in human plagiarism history. She had read those plagiarised books in question, and having liked them so much, had unintentionally "internalised" the words. In 40 entire passages.

Isko to jhooth bolna bhi nahi aata! Even I could have done better than that! Umm, come to think of it I couldn't have. But then again, I wouldnt have copied so poorly also. I, like most proud Indians, have plenty of experience of copying from the guy in the adjacent seat in examinations over the years and I copy quite well. I embrace the other person's words and twist them around to create my own. Idiot girl, she's probably only ever studied abroad and answered multiple choice tickmark questions. Cant even copy properly. American education is useless. Anyway, not the point. She's screwed herself pretty badly now. She's said that, for her future books, she will have them specially checked for a repeat of this episode. Her future books, I can guarantee, will not be copies of other books. This for the simple reason that she will probably not have any future books. Her 2-book deal with the publishers has been officially cancelled and all copies of "How Opal Mehta..." have been pulled out of bookstores.

She is still, however, peanuts besides this next new sensational story. Atleast Kaavya wrote parts of her book herself. Despite all the help she had from book packagers and her library card, she still had to put it all together and write up a preface and things. This latest Indian in global news and ridicule, however, is just amazing. Its a tale of perseverance, obsession, love, passion, and an extreme case of lack in life. In case you want to read the prim and proper version of it, check out The Telegraph's report on it. Otherwise you can also read on.

The thing began in London in July 2001. Anita Debnath, the Indian in the spotlight, got lucky and had a one-night stand with this guy Chay Ankers. Poor guy, he did not know the hidden weapons she had in her armory. I dont mean any kind of kinky sex ritual. I mean that he promptly forgot her after that, and went on with life. But she, to his ignorance, was a Computer Science graduate and had two two Masters degrees! Boy, does she use them now. Ankers did not respond positively to her calls or invitations to shady motel rooms. So she sent him an email next Valentine's Day claiming to have acquired chlamydia (a sexually transmitted disease) from him. The guy got a med-checkup and found himself clean. He told her so, asking her to f*** off, like every self-respecting Britisher, faced with a mutinous Indian, has been doing for hundreds of years.

This is where the Fatal Attraction part of it kicks in. She started stalking him. She uses the help of some web-forum which specialises in milking money out of losers like her, and drew out a campaign to capture him. Ankers had moved out of town, to start a fresh new life with a fresh new girlfriend. So, she moved to that place too. She started going to the same pub as him, sent jhooth-mooth ka letters to the girlfriend and hacked into his email account. Hmmm, you want to know why she hacked into his email account? All she did was subscribe him for gay porn. So that she could scare off the girlfriend. She found out about all his vacation plans from the email id too. She even bloody set up a website,, to achieve God knows what.

Now this is ridiculous. After just a one night stand, she stalked him for 5 years! She stalked him at work, at home, on vacations - everywhere. Like a leopard with its prey in sight, or like Michael Jackson with a kid in his Neverland ranch, she wouldnt give up once she had him in her sight.

But just like Kaavya, nothing all that serious is happening to her either. She's not going to jail or anything. The judges in that place bother to think of redemption-istic punishments, instead of plain and simple kaid-e-baamushakkad/jailtime (from all the Hindi movies I've seen). She's going to get treatment for her "acute mental state". Slap her too, please.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I was just roaming around the net just now, minding my own business, and I ran into this awesome tool.

Check it out. Its called flickr and it converts simple text such as "NISHANT" into this!

Is that cool or what?? Check out the links!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Shopping: To Have To Stoop So Low

Shopping is the most nonsensical, tiring, frustrating, and irritating activity ever! I absolutely, positively, completely, totally hate, detest, scorn, neglect, abhor, loathe, despise picking clothes, shoes, chaddis, banyans, caps and whatever else that has to do with going to a mall, shopping-plaza, market, dukaan, retail outlet, or road-side wala guy.

Aaaahh! That felt nice. I cant speak for all guys, because now there are far too many hybrids, but in general most guys will whole-heartedly agree with my ranting above. Dont get me wrong. I like fresh new clothes. I like being dressed really well with the right shirt, the right trousers and the matching-matching joota-moja combo. What I dislike is having to go and buy them.

Im just fresh back from the heat of the battle at 22, Camac Street. And I am completely clueless as to what girls like about shopping. Nothing to do, so they go shopping. Give me anything else to do instead of shopping and I'll sit down to it religiously. Obviously, when you're hanging from a cliff, you will grasp even a blade of grass if it saves you.

There are so many things that I hate about shopping that getting started is a bit of an issue. Several different thoughts and ideas are clammering for individual attention in my head, demanding to be put down first. Let me try and do them all justice.

WHAT I HATE ABOUT SHOPPING (in no real order of importance since everything is equally important)

1. You have to, atleast I have to, be dressed properly even before I go to a mall. If you're going to pick out snazzy jeans and cool t-shirts, you have to dressed in something that shows you have taste in the first place. So I cant do my usual practise of closing my eyes and pulling the first thing my hands clamp down on.

2. There are so bloody many shirts and pants and things. Its not "so much to choose from", its like "so much to confuse you with". From pink three-quarters (for girls I'm half-sure) and bright yellow "cool" shirts to fashionably-conservative blue jeans and beige cargos, everything is there. And the biggest problem is, you cant really point at something and say its ridiculous.

You cant say that those pink things are just for girls or that only guys can wear that strange little thing with arms over there. They play mind-games these designers. You can never guess what the next trend is going to be. You might point and laugh at the 5/8th pants (I swear they do exist, its not just a legend), but as soon as these people put up a picture of Yuvraj Singh dressed in them (looking positively hideous but that doesnt matter), you're going to find yourself buying them.

3. Hell hath no place for the fool who goes shopping in company. Im half afraid of picking up something I like, for fear of seeing disgusted and shell-shocked faces around me. I tend to go - "What do you think of this thing?" as I casually extricate it from the complex hoopla that clothes are normally arranged in. Even before the person can reply, you tend to be all guarded and defensive for associating yourself with the particular ragpiece - "Or you know, whatever...Its ok..Not too bad...You like it? I love it too!"

4. Everything you pick, everything you like, you have to try on first. Thats something I've had drilled into me by my parents and so its become a habit now. Whatever I like and plan to buy for the insane amount its kept at, I have to try. That means going all the way to the trial room, finding one empty, locking yourself in all its claustrophobic glory and facing three of yourself. Mirrors all around, and I've never quite been able to resist maroing a couple of poses or just nodding at my reflection.

This is probably the single-most tiring part of shopping for guys. Kholo, pehno, pose maro, bahar dikhao, phir kholo and get back into the stuff you came in.

5. Even before you can take stuff into the trial rooms, comes the mental strain of selecting something good. The selection process ka criteria for "something good" and worth the fortune you're spending is that it musnt of course be exactly like something you already have back home. Also, and here is the most excruciating bit, it should fit in with whatever you own already. When you pick up the hideous pinkish-green shirt that the mannequin is looking cool in, you have to hold it and mentally browse through your closet for which pair of jeans or shorts you're going to disgrace with this.

6. Shopping is perhaps the most awkward and embarrassing time to meet another male friend. Both of you know exactly what the other's doing here, but then its the easiest question so one of them goes -

"Hey man! What YOU doing here?"

"I was just playing football with my buddies there near the counter. Why? Do you SHOP here?"

Ok, that doesnt happen. Whenever a guy is asked what he's doing at the shopping mall, he has the grace to look embarrassed and properly ashamed at being caught in this compromising position.

This isnt the end of the shopping list of woes, but I think I've covered the top five contenders for top-spot in guys' minds. Other honourable mentions would be tasks such as:

i> Shaking off the shop assistant tailing you like you're going to run off suddenly with something.

ii> Doing your best to not always pick/like the stuff you can't afford.

iii> Trying to look casual and confident about your choice in front of the cash counter people.

iv> Trying to make yourself believe that the cashiers actually smile that way to all the customers and it doesnt have anything to do with that pink-vomit-on-green-grass shirt you've bought.

v> Walking down the road with your shopping bag and trying to look cool and unruffled, while being acutely conscious of looking stupid with it. Guys do NOT carry shopping bags!

This should pretty much cover the essentials. All guys are requested to share their own woes and miseries from their shopping-experiences. And may all the girls please try and explain what they enjoy in shopping.

A great poet (which would be me) once said:

Where the clothes are properly priced,
And a man isnt embarrassed to purchase,
Where the shirt looks like a shirt,
And the pants are still just things to wear,
Into that heaven of freedom, O Father,
Let My Country Awake.

I know, I know. You dont have to point it out. I'm a genius!