Feeding Frenzy

BYO, or Bring Your Own, is a typically Australian invention where you carry your own tipple to certain restaurants or community events. Now, the Maharashtra government has literally raised the bar by allowing moviegoers to bring their own food inside the hall or multiplex. This adds a new meaning to the phrase multiplex which now can be renamed multiplate. While it is seen as a populist measure, the scenes inside the movie theatre will rival those on the big screen. Here’s a typical day at the movies in Mumbai. Ticket holder: I’ve been in this queue for an hour and the movie has already started, what is taking so long? Manager:  I’m sorry sir, you can see all these people bringing their plates, cutlery, masala packets, pickle bottles and tiffin carriers. In fact, I notice you are carrying a handi… Ticket Holder: Behrouz Biryani, best in India. Manager: Our security guards are going crazy and the metal detector hasn’t stopped beeping all day, so please bear with us while we bear with your Behrouz. Seat 14 G:  Arre Rahul ki ma, where are the papads to go with my curd rice and sambar? Seat 12G: Don’t ask me, I’m trying to wipe the sambar stains from the tiffin box you handed me, it must be with Ramu, he’s sitting in 10G.…
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Brave New Words

~By Dilip Bobb Lexicographers, those who compile dictionaries, have been working overtime in the recent past trying to cope with the flood of new words and phrases that are becoming part of contemporary vocabulary. Whether in India or elsewhere, the list of words that make up today’s lexicon is literally adding meaning to our lives. Here are some of the most popular: Webaqoof: Those who believe every word or rumour that appears on the internet or on social media, especially WhatsApp, to be absolutely true, and act accordingly, usually irrationally and with extreme hostility. Challenger Series: Originally referred to a series of professional tennis tournaments but is now connected to the challenge thrown by various celebrities and VIPs, starting with the fitness challenge which saw the PM in designer workout gear bending over backwards—something he will never do in the political arena—and has now been extended to a Loyalty Challenge which is a fit enough metaphor for the manner in which politicians are busy wooing members of opposing parties. Jumla: A word that has become popular in the post Modi era, generally used to attack an opponent for making empty promises (Rs 15 lakh in every bank account), and now used in a general way to describe anything that is questionable or not working as planned: eg: “jumlaeconomics”.…
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Yoga Hoga

~By Dilip Bobb We are being led to believe that yoga is India’s greatest contribution to global wellness and will usher in international peace and prosperity. Billions of people twisting and turning and breathing through one nostril in unison, will end terrorism, fraud, and incendiary Facebook posts. Shashi Tharoor tweeted that yoga is not simply about twisting into different positions like a pretzel, but the PM reminded us that we should not ignore the gems of our own heritage. There are 1,300 asanas but here are some favourite poses. Tax Eva-son: Currently, the most popular fad sweeping the country, which involves sweeping money taken from Indian banks into accounts abroad, with the UK and Panama being the Most Favoured Nations. Tax Eva-son allows the practitioners to turn black into white and live happily ever after in luxury villas or country houses, while those still in India fall back (another integrated asana) on deniability, or the ability to claim they have achieved moksha and are not subject to earthly laws or prosecution. Involves a lot of running, lying and hiding in plain sight. Son Salutation: Also called Surya Namaskara and meant to be a salutation to the sun, in India it translates into sycophancy over the son.…
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The Occupy Movement

Above: Illustration by Anthony Lawrence ~By Dilip Bobb The primary goal of the Occupy Movement, a global form of protest, was to advance new forms of democracy. In India, we are seeing a new manifestation of that as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his colleagues occupy a waiting room at Raj Nivas, the office-residence of the capital’s Lt Governor, Anil Baijal, to protest the lack of democratic functioning. Here’s how they spend their time: Kejriwal: I’ve spent a lot of time in waiting rooms when I was a bureaucrat, so this is familiar ground. It’s also a protest against bureaucrats so that is equally familiar ground. It’s the classic bureaucratic scam, to show they are working when they are not. We have to ensure that our protest is working, so let’s settle down for a long sit-in. Sisodia: Actually it’s been four days of occupying these sofas, so my daughter says that we are officially having a sleepover, something I never allowed her to do, as she reminded me. Satyendar Jain: Four days without a shower or shave, plus having joined my senior colleague Sisodia in a hunger strike, is the height of sacrifice, Anna Hazare be praised. Has anyone noticed, when we line up to use the only loo, we all say “Pehle Aap”?…
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Contact Sport

By Dilip Bobb BJP President Amit Shah has embarked on his “Sampark for Samarthan” roadshow.  It translates roughly into “contact for support” though in some local dialects it is pronounced as “contact sport”, which it seems to have become in Mumbai where he has lined up a host of Bollywood stars to have a dialogue with. Bollywood stars, as we know from Koffee with Karan episodes, are not exactly au courant with political developments and so some meetings do not go according to script.  Examples: Bollywood Leading Lady: Welcome to my vanity van, I was told you had a script to show me? Amit Shah: I like this van, much better than the one I use in my election campaigns, seating area, bedroom, rest room, and what is that area? BLL: That is the make-up area, where I do my make-up. Shah: Very useful feature, my entire job involves making up with people, especially leading up to 2019. BLL: Is that when your movie is releasing? Shah: Movie? No I am not making a movie, I hire other people for that sort of thing. BLL: So you are a producer, the financer… Shah: No, I am Amit Shah, President of the BJP, you must have seen my pictures?…
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Fantasy Football: India at World Cup

Above: Illustration by Anthony Lawrence ~By Dilip Bobb India may think it is deserving of a seat at the UN Security Council and considers itself a major player in world affairs, but one area where it is definitely not a player is at the FIFA World Cup. The 2018 edition kicks off next week in Russia and India has never made it to the World Cup except as spectators or media representatives. Despite that, some football enthusiasts from Kolkata and Kerala have compiled a list of players they think should be representing India. Here’s their selection for Team India: Captain and Striker: Narendra Modi. He has unmatched international experience and the ability to pop up in the most unexpected places. There is also his legendary ability to switch from offence to defence, while his undoubted ability to confound his opponents with outlandish claims and his bewildering change of attire can outfox the most favoured teams. Displays loads of stamina while yoga keeps him fit and a big plus is that Sochi is familiar ground having just been there in the company of Vladimir Putin. Like Gareth Bale and Ronaldo, his secret weapon is the scissor kick, which can score a goal even when his back is to the wall.…
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The Floor Test Challenge

Above: Illustration by Anthony Lawrence ~By Dilip Bobb It was I & B Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore who kicked things off with his fitness challenge, posting photos doing push-ups on his office floor and giving a new twist to the floor test. He challenged others to match his moves. No one can beat the Prime Minister when it comes to beating his own 56 inch chest, so he has joined in along with Virat Kohli and a host of celebrities eager to flaunt their six packs. Adding fuel to the fire was Rahul Gandhi who instead of pumping iron, asked about rising prices at petrol pumps. While we await the flood of videos and photos of people working out—sadly many of our countrymen are not working at all—here’s the ultimate fitness challenge: the Floor Test Challenge. Here’s how it works.  Candidate Selection: Much like choosing players to represent the country in the Football World Cup, players are selected on the basis of their skills in dribbling past opponents, tripping up opposing players and gaining maximum crowd support, whether paid for or voluntary. Based on the fitness mantra that wealth is health, those with deep pockets are given first preference. Those with a proven track record of (a) having won previous contests, or (b) having gone to jail on corruption charges (a la Yeddyurappa) or (c) having the right caste credentials are given preference shares.…
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Election Issues

~By Dilip Bobb Fractured verdicts are bad for democracy, as we are seeing in Karnataka which is becoming more natak than kar. Ideologically committed governors, power hungry politicians and the obsession with a Congress mukt Bharat makes for a witches brew, in which the Constitution and morality melt in the morass. The problem with Indian democracy, as seen in Karnataka, lies in the issues that voters base their decisions on.  So what were the issues in this election? Here are some clues that explain why the voting went haywire. Mudhol Dogs: A type of hound that comes from Bagalkot in the state. It was the first canine breed to be inducted into the Indian army. Based on that little known fact, in a dog eat dog electoral battle, Narendra Modi made a point of using his election rallies to say that the Congress needed to learn lessons in patriotism from Mudhol dogs. It was a dog whistle strategy, in which the population gets a message without understanding the meaning or context. Field Marshall Cariappa: Also to do with the army and patriotism, Modi went to town—and village, and street corner—, declaring how a hero of Karnataka, Field Marshall Cariappa, the Indian army’s first commander in chief, had been humiliated by Jawaharlal Nehru.…
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Coasting to Gold

Above: Illustration by Anthony Lawrence ~By Dilip Bobb The usual media hype has accompanied the Indian contingent to the Commonwealth Games being staged in Australia’s appropriately named Gold Coast. India’s gold tally is already being talked about without much objectivity in the analysis. A genuine gold rush would have been possible if the Indian selectors had chosen the following superstars who truly excel in their chosen sport. The alternative Indian team would include: Smriti Irani/Backstroke:  She has been swimming against the tide lately, straining to get ahead of the pack by pushing herself to the limit and trying to break records set by other stalwarts like Rajiv Gandhi and Vasundhara Raje. Like her, they too wound up doing the backstroke after their attempts at freestyle came to naught. The lessons here were obvious: trying to create a splash by intimidating inconvenient opponents can lead to disqualification, and, number two, always consult the coach before switching disciplines. Salman Khan/Shooting:  The aim was always dead on—to use superstardom to showcase being human. However, if the courtside judges have got him dead to rights, then his original aim was off and, even if he did hit the target, the buck now stops with him.…
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Terms of Endearment

~By Dilip Bobb Like politics and the global economy, cricket is also experiencing the Great Churn as the ball tampering issue scrapes the gloss off the sport. Ball tampering is only one side of the story. Today, everything we say and do and participate in is a state of flux, or a flux up state, including being up for sale to the highest bidder. All this has created a new terminology as the latest edition of the Cambridge Dictionary, renamed Cambridge Analytica, reveals. Here are the latest terms to get endeared to. Ball Tampering: An exercise in which old terms are rubbed out and replaced by new words that reflect the mood of the moment in a more appropriate fashion (statutory warning: will be understood by cricket lovers only). As example, ball tampering would now describe a community which is morally Bancroft. It also refers to something that is in Starc contrast to the spirit of the game. Could they not see it Cumming? The desperation to make it a one-sided affair has only caused universal Paine. Do they have no Shane? What motivated them to cross the Border? These questions will now be subjected to the DRS system which now stands for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.…
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A Sorry Sight

~By Dilip Bobb Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched the trend by a flurry of apologies to various people he had insulted, then we had Navjot Singh Sidhu saying sorry to former PM Manmohan Singh for some unkind cuts he had essayed in his earlier BJP avatar. Who else needs to say sorry? Actually, it’s quite a long list. Mark Zuckerberg to Ravi Shankar Prasad: The founder and CEO of the social media giant must be quaking in his sneakers after being threatened by Ravi Shankar Prasad, who reminded Zuckerberg, one of the world’s most influential and richest tycoons, that he was India’s IT Minister, and therefore needed a more abject apology than others, and not on Facebook but in person, since, mark his words, he could be summoned to India. If only Prasad could do the same for Mallya, Nirav, Choksi and the many other absconders living abroad on public money, we would all fold our hands in gratitude. Kejriwal to Whosoever is Concerned: At last count, there were 33 individuals (not counting Delhi’s Chief Secretary) who the CM has apologised to, or has sent IOUs to. He is doing so at the rate of around one a day so he should be through in a month, trying to save himself from defamation cases in various courts, not to mention legal costs and damages if found guilty.…
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The Ten Commandments

By Dilip Bobb The original Commandments were handed down on stone tablets and were ten rules for people to lead a satisfying and fulfilling life. Today, that translates into acche din and is inscribed on a tablet PC. Only by following them could one reach the promised land, or moksha. Here are the new Ten Commandments adjusted for inflation and the new rules of politics.   There is Only One God. Thou shall worship no other God than me, for fear of being ostracised, arm-twisted or declared an anti-national. There are other pretenders to the throne but I am the only one with “Wave” and “Magic” after my name. Be like the NRIs and the bhakts and chant my name multiple times whenever doubts creep into your mind or when other creeps declare themselves rivals to my rule. Doubting Thomases are to approach Amit Shah, Yogi Adityanath, Sambit Patra, Arnab Goswami or members of FICCI for therapeutic consultations. Thou Shalt Not Lose an Election. In the BJP Bible it is written, “When elections are lost, let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving”. Here are the golden rules to follow in the rare event of losing an election: Blame it on an “unnatural alliances”, warn voters in upcoming elections of the dangers of a “khidchi” alliances, and blame caste factor for losses, as loud as we trumpet “vikas” when we win.…
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