All That I Can’t Leave Behind

u2-all-that-you-cant-leave-behind

Music albums are more than just a bunch of songs put together in one place. It serves as bookmarks to the various chapters in your life which you might want to revisit every now and then. There is an album that can define every phase of your life. An album that meant more than just the music it contained. You attached new meanings to lyrics which only you understood. If you heard a happy tune during the downtime of your life, that tune took melancholic twist in your head. A meaning very exclusive to you and nobody else. Not even the person who created it.

I grew up in the 90s and early 2000s. Planet M on the first floor (if you didn’t count the basement as ground floor) of the Sweet Chariot building on Brigade road. The diskman had just made its entry into the markets. The folks at Planet M had six little kiosks in their store which had three CDs each and a set of headphones where people could listen in and discover new music. I would find myself in this store very often. If I remember right I would pick booth 3, because it was close to the glass facade of the store which gave me a view of the bustling brigade road as I discovered new music or listened to some old favourites. I don’t know why, or maybe I’m not equipped to put into words why I loved looking at brigade road from the first floor while listening to music, but I just did. Maybe it just a gave soundtrack to one of my favourite streets in Bangalore. Or maybe a crowded street allowed you to lose focus on objects and people, and made you look at everything at once, creating a beautiful blur in your head.

I went down to Planet M so often that the sales chaps started noticing me; someone who walks in and listens to the music for free. The dot com bubble had just burst and people had to make sales. Freebies came at a cost. If I had to continue giving a soundtrack to Brigade road, I had to make a purchase. It would help me buy another two months of free music time at least, in the store. After days of speculating and calculating, I decided to buy U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind because it had one famous track – Elevation. And the music video featured Angelina Jolie. Come on, I was 14. The cassette costed 125 bucks, a big deal for somebody who depended on the mercy of his dad’s generosity. I don’t exactly remember my pitch to him, but I clearly remember walking into the store that day with a princely sum of 125 bucks in my wallet – which I otherwise filled with visiting cards of dad and mom just give it the thickness that every wallet deserved. I made my purchasing of the cassette a little event in the store asking all sorts of irrelevant questions just to ensure everyone who worked in the store knew I was making my purchase.

I went home and put the cassette my 2-in-1 set and waited for the songs to start playing. ‘Elevation’ was the third song. The rest of the songs I didn’t know, and soon enough to my absolute horror, I hated every other song in that album. I was broken, how could I spend 125 bucks on an album I didn’t like? And how can I admit to hating english rock music to people? I re-heard the album numerous times hoping to fall in love with it. But in vain. Disappointed, I put away the album and decided not to tell anyone about my failure.

A few months passed by and my 10th board exams were right around the bend. One evening as I was nervously preparing for my model exams, for no particular reason at all, I went over to my 2-in-1 and put in the u2 tape and pressed on the stainless steel play button. The first song played. “Beautiful Day”. And I don’t know what really happened, but it just opened a little unknown box in my head which stored that exact moment in my brain forever. It’s a moment I can recall even today at the snap of my fingers. It’s that feeling when your brain talks directly to your gut, and if you lean in close enough you can hear it say, “Yes, this is it.” I sat through the whole album at one go and remember falling in love with every beat and every line. These were songs about freedom, liberation, New York and world peace; things I knew nothing about. These songs took their own meaning in my head, none of which I’m sure even Bono would have thought of while putting pen to paper, or The Edge thought of while putting plectrum to chord.

I heard the album every single day for nearly a couple of months. When you unfolded the album cover it became a long horizontal sheet. On one side of the sheet, there were aesthetically shot black and white pictures of the band in the terminal of an airport. The band was dressed in black with a bunch of bags, taking off somewhere. On the other side of the cover, there were lyrics of every song in the album.

Underneath the lyrics of Walk On, it said, “Dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi”. It’s funny how a rock album can take a 14 year old all the way to a Burmese activist. The name of the album ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’ is derived from a line in the song Walk On. Roughly translated, it means love is the only thing you can take in your heart and walk on, forever. “It’s all that you can’t leave behind”. It’s too much for a 14 year old to understand but when Bono is teaching you this, you just get it.

Tightly locked within this album is a 14 year-old me. Who was shit scared of talking to girls, who hated his hair, who was seeking approval, who was seeking attention, who wanted to be heard, who wanted to be left alone, who wanted to be smarter, who hated everything mainstream for it was cool to hate it, who was under confident, who was tongue-tied outside his comfort zone, who was unsure what he wanted to do and who absolutely hated writing. So when I heard a song from the album on the radio this evening, it just brought me face to face with that boy in Bangalore, once again.

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Arabian Sea Housing Program

shivaji

Let’s get this straight. Shivaji Maharaj is the founding father of Maharata empire. He bravely fought wars, defeated mightier armies and was instrumental in the creation of what is today known as Maharashtra. But I’m not too shocked that a man of his calibre is given a place in the middle of an ocean and not within the city. With 20 million people in the city and millions coming in annually, there is a massive paucity of space in Mumbai.

Things are so bad that had Shivaji wanted to reside in Bombay today, instead of the Arabian sea, he would have had a torrid time finding a place in this city. Ask me. I’ve moved three houses in as many years, and know how difficult it is dealing with landlords and brokers to find a place in this city.

First and foremost, your chances of finding a place decrease drastically if there’s a pet involved. Most societies have problem with four-legged friends no matter how well trained they are. Cats are relatively easier when you’re finding a home, but your chances take a beating if you have a dog. But with horses, it’s almost impossible to find a home in Mumbai.

Even if a broker managed to show a few places to Shivaji that accepted a horse, the society would still deny him permission to live there. Because he’s staying alone and not with family. You might be married with kids, but if you are staying alone you’re considered a bachelor launda by the housing societies in Mumbai. Housing societies look at bachelors the way we look at our adolescent days – trouble. And what’s worse than a bachelor for a housing society is a bachelor with a horse. Also your perception building kind of takes a beating if you are always wielding a sword in one hand. It’s like you’re looking for trouble, and asking for trouble at the same time.

But by far the most ridiculous of all problems, would have to do with Shivaji Maharaj’s eating habits. As a proud Maratha warrior, I’m sure Shivaji Maharaj has fine taste in non-vegetarian food. But little would he know that this would be his one of his biggest undoings in a progressive city for which he laid the foundations. Non-vegetarians are considered impure people with loose morals by some societies. Even if you promise to not cook meat at home, your Swiggy and Zomato orders are thoroughly checked at the security gate before being allowed inside. And there’s no way a Maratha warrior can or should survive without non vegetarian food.

However, I just don’t understand why the internet is up in arms against the government for sanctioning Rs 3900 Cr for the project. Are you guys out of your mind? Do the math and you will understand that it is pittance. Rs 3900 Cr for 42 acres of land. That is roughly Rs 93 crores per acre. The going rate at Worli currently stands at Rs 230 Cr per acre. That’s almost twice Shivaji Maharaj’s budget. I mean, look, once I’ve had to push my budget by 20% for a house in Mumbai and had a terrible time keeping myself from drowning in debt. But stretching your budget by 100% is just not viable. You know what makes life tougher, brokerage. Unlike in other cities, brokerage in Mumbai is not a one time thing. You have to pay them every eleven months, else they’ll render you homeless. And there’s no way you on earth you can escape this extortion racket. Not even if you have a sword and horse by your side. They will hunt you down and get the money out of you.

So everyone cribbing about this project, it’s time to rethink what you’re doing. Rs 3900 Crore is actually not a lot of money in Bombay if one needs to space. The middle class have absolutely nowhere to go in this city. It’s no wonder they are being driven out of their homes and into the sea.

The Big 9 pm Void In Our Lives

When was the last time a prime time news show became the prime time news story?After throwing out Shamsher Khan from The Newshour last week, Arnab decided to take it to a whole new level, this week. Arnab decided to throw Arnab out of the Newshour. They say, success is when your resume reaches places before you do. But Arnab just proved that success is actually when your resignation letter reaches places before you do.

Arnab spent his formative years as a Television journalist at NDTV working under Rajdeep Sardesai. Then one day, television puberty struck and his voice broke when he decided to join Times Now in 2006. So it was only natural that people were caught off guard after Arnab dropped his letter bomb last night. Gen Bakshi shed a tear because now he has no other place to shed tears for TRPs. Sambit Patra tried calling Arnab hoping to change the latter’s decision on his resignation, but as usual he couldn’t get beyond, “But Ornaaaab….. But Ornaaaaab….”

In the middle of all this, I felt an Arnab-sized void in my ear drum. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the guy. I hate the right wing propaganda that he tried to pass off as responsible journalism. I hate his idea of debate. I hate his idea of patriotism. I hate his tie. I hate the way, sometimes, a tuft of hair sits on his forehead. I hate the way his spectacles drop on his nose every time a heated volley of words are exchanged. I hate the way his upper lip curls when his panelists actually made sense (much to his dismay). I hate him so much, that I find myself tuning into the Newshour quite often. Hang on, so is it love then? Shit. That whopped version of ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hain’ love that Anjali felt for Rahul? I don’t know.

But I’ll admit this: I don’t know what to tune into at 9 pm anymore . Seriously, we’re all so doomed. What are our options?

Let’s say we tune into NDTV, accidentally. Because come on, nobody tunes into NDTV voluntarily. You are aware of its existence only when you surf channels looking for Times Now. Here you will find some great has-beens (Sonia Singh, Nidhi Razdan, Vikram Chandra, Sreenivasan Jain) reporting the news with the disdain of not having taken up other lucrative offers from rival channels during their heydays. And good luck if you find Pranoy Roy anchoring the prime time News when you decide to tune in. He’s gotten so slow over the years that by the time he finishes reading out a sentence from the news, it has already been marked as archives.

So we might decide to tune into NDTV INDIA to watch Ravish Kumar. But, you won’t find the damn channel because every time there’s some major breaking news he decides to turn off the lights in his studio for some weird kinky reason.

Arnab’s ex-boss and India Today TV editor, Rajdeep Sardesai is a strict no-no. He makes the news all about the news. He presents it with facts, educated perspectives, nuance and constructive debates sans any drama that it can really make you feel depressed.

News18 will bore you by getting Bhupender Chaubey to read out news and views directly from Mukesh Ambani’s phone instead of the TelePrompTer. Though his news anchoring is used in some hospitals as an anaesthetic, one can never really get ticked off with poor Bhupender. He looks like Harsha Bhogle who can’t afford the hair transplant procedure.

Big Boss is almost built on the same lines as Newshour but it still pales in comparison. They get people take a piss as a challenge; but Arnab topped that almost every night by getting his panelists to shit on each other and our common sense.

So as much as I love to hate you, Mr Goswami, I’m gonna miss you big time at prime time. You were my hate-watch. My guilty pleasure. My night in shouting armour. Thank you for the entertainment, tamasha and hashtags. In the words of a great drama queen and rightie journalist, “There will never, ever, ever, ever, never, never, ever, ever, ever be anyone like you.”

Come back soon, Ornab. Because we all have somebody to love but we need that special somebody to hate.

Indians Claim “Surgical Strike”. Lol.

paki-soldier

Pakistan News Agency, Karachi.

According to highly placed sources in the army, a battalion of Indian soldiers crossed the LOC and entered the highly volatile Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. This is reported to have happened in the wee hours of the 30th morning. The Indian armed forces in Delhi issued a statement saying this was a ‘surgical strike’ on Pakistan and urged their citizens to use the hash tags, ‘#SurgicalStrike’ and #Modi52Inches while tweeting.

However, our highly placed sources privy to goings on in the border region claimed otherwise. Our source claimed it was a routine exchange – one that happens regularly at the LOC . According to Brigadier Mallick, who commands LeT (Line-e-Tactical control) in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, “We had set up a lure model close to the border. Several rare Pokemons had shown up. The Indian army crossed over to get hold of Pikachu as they are hardly found on the other side of the border.” When asked about the loud explosion that rocked the valley, he clarified that it was a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 which was being used by a Pakistani soldier to play Pokemon Go.

He added that it was a normal occurrence for both sides to crossover in order to catch Pokemons. It must be noted that several times In the past Pakistani soldiers from Jaish-e-Muhammad have crossed over to catch Charmanders and other Pokemons in cities as far as Delhi and Mumbai. Lt Gen (retd) Khan said “Poke-walks are common in the subcontinent. In fact, not just India, when I was commanding the Abbottabad battalion in 2010, even the Americans came down here when we set up a Lure model. They caught the world’s rarest Pokemon in our country.”

The so called #SurgicalStrikes that India claims to have carried out, comes close on the heels of the Uri attacks that happened a week ago, where several Indian soldiers mysteriously killed themselves in the middle of the night. It is said that India has been trying to pin the blame on Pakistan for the Uri Attacks. Our government top brass claims that the Indian army has come severely under pressure from their Chief Patriotic Officer and future MP of BJP, Arnab Goswami, to avenge the self-inflicted Uri attacks. Goswami is reported to have even shouted in his news studio, “Kashmir and Swaraj is my birthright. And Sushma will make sure I have them both.”

Further, officials here claim the Indian Prime Minister Modi came under severe pressure from Twitter users from across the country to attack Pakistan in the week following the mysterious death of their soldiers in Uri. Hence, the false news of this ‘hash tag Surgical Attack’ when all that ever happened was a harmless Poke walk. It is being widely reported that India also plans to ban Pakistani performers in Bollywood. A very senior official in Nawaz Sharif’s office spoke to Indus News on the condition of anonymity, “India is staging these attacks so that Modi can win the elections in UP. And they are using this as excuse to ban Fawad Khan from Bollywood because very soon, he will have more followers than Ranveer Singh on Instagram. That is simply unfathomable for them.”

Pakistan’s External Affairs ministry has been facing the heat for the last couple of days denying to the international community and media that any sort of ‘surgical attack’ took place on its soil. The ministry released an official statement this morning: “No sort of ‘hashtag surgical attack’ took place on our Pakistani soil. India is imagining things. Our terrorists and terror camps on the border are completely safe and continue to operate successfully.”

Post these developments, it will be interesting to see if Pakistan will continue to go on Poke-walks to India. And if it does, will it enter from the Kashmir side or take the longer route and enter from China to catch those Zubats.

 

Dude, where’s my food?

Before Apps came in:

Me: Boss, one roll please.
Restaurant: Theek hain. Bhej deta hoon.

After Apps changed our lives:

Go to app and click on what you want.

Message 1: Your order has been sent to the restaurant.

Message 2: Your order has been confirmed.

Message 3: Money from your PayTm has been deducted.

Message 4: Sushant from Jabalpur (whom we haven’t paid in a while because recession) has picked your order from the restaurant on his motorbike which gives an impressive mileage of 70 kmpl.

Message 5: Sushant is almost there.

Call 1: Hello, sir. We are calling from Zomato. We called to tell you that your order will be delayed by 15 mins. Thank you so much for ordering with us.

Message 6: Sorry to tell you that your food has been delayed by 15 minutes. Thank you so much for ordering with us.

Call 2:(10 minutes later) Hello, sir, calling from Zomato. We called to tell you that your order will be there in 5 minutes. Thank you so much for order with us.

Message 7: Your order will be there in 5 minutes. Thank you so much for ordering with us.

Call 3: Sir, Sushant from Zomato. Gate ke bahar hoon.

Call 4: Sir, hope you got your food. Sorry for the delay.

Message 8: Your food has arrived.

Message 9: Please rate your experience ordering from XYZ restaurant.

Email 1: Your invoice from XYZ restaurant is here.

Yes, Apps have made our lives easier. My food.

Let’s Forget

Last year, we (myself included) came out all guns blazing in support of DK Ravi, an honest IAS officer who was found dead under mysterious circumstances in his apartment. He took on the sand mafia and raided home minister KJ George’s shady real estate deals in the weeks leading up to his murder…ooops, I mean suicide (genuine mistake). And just like all great movements that begin online, our thoughts, prayers and status updates on DK Ravi conveniently moved on.

So here’s another story that we can all choose to forget in the days to come. Last night, DySP Ganapathy, gave a detailed interview to the media about how he wasn’t allowed to honourably discharge his duties and was constantly harassed by KJ George (who else?) and his army of ass-lickers (couple of higher-ups in the department).
After that, he quietly went back to his room and hung himself. Going by past history, if he didn’t kill himself, I’m sure somebody (who else?) would have done it for him.

At least, he wanted to move on, on his own terms.

Tomorrow, we will move on, as usual.

In spite of being named by DySP Ganapathy in his suicide note, our minister KJ George will continue to be a free man. Free enough to harass a lot more officers for breakfast; free enough to have lunch with the timber mafia; and free enough to go on dinner dates with the real estate mafia. Nothing will change, as usual.

So please share this story and make sure more people forget about DySP Ganapathy in the days to come. Because if the contribution of an upright cop is not worth remembering, then it is surely worth collectively forgetting.

Public Service Message: Save The IPL

Don’t know how many of you have noticed this disturbing trend, but the IPL is becoming too much about cricket. Virat’s relationship with his bat is making more noise than his relationship with, well, Gautam Gambhir. People have been mumbling about Gayle’s form being as unpredictable as the ending of the previous sentence. Everyone is going on and on about Kings Eleven Punjab not getting its team composition right. (Well, that’s actually not true. Nobody talks about Kings XI Punjab anymore. Not even Preity Zinta.)

Lalit Modi put his blood, sweat and Shashi Tharoor’s tears into creating this league for fans to talk about Anushka; not about Virat’s centuries. The league was designed for players to slap each other. For team owners to slap security guards. For Sreesanth’s employment. For Sreesanth’s towel’s employment.

When Lalit Modi and gang founded the IPL, the mission statement was:

“The IPL will strive to be a league where rich people will spend a ton of money to buy teams, and then they’ll spend a lot more money to buy the best players in the world for these teams, and then they will pay these players a lot more money to, ah, perform poorly.”

The first few editions saw the mission statement being followed to the T. It made the IPL, IPL. The 2013 edition of the IPL saw match fixing charges being framed against Srinivasan. Obviously, he’s into fixing. The man runs a cement company. In the first edition, Harbhajan Singh, a Deputy Superintendent of Police in Punjab, slapped a criminal five years before the crime could be committed. In 2011, the Saharas bought a team. And then, shut it down. Later on, Raj Kundra’s team got disqualified. Srinivasan’s team got disqualified. (Let’s spare a thought for Vijay Mallya, right now. The dude was so broke that he didn’t even have enough cash to get involved in a match fixing scandal.) It was all going right for the IPL.

Until this year.

The only cricket related controversy to have popped up during this IPL was Manoj Prabhakar wanting to sue the makers of ‘Azhar’ for saying he took money to underperform. IPL, your shit is really fucked up if Manoj Prabhakar beat you to a controversy. Yes, Manoj Prabhakar. The man who was the Ajit Agarkar of the 90s. Manoj Prabhakar and Ajit Agarkar were both considered all rounders only  because they couldn’t bat, bowl or field properly. Come to think of it, if Prabhakar goes to court and wins the case, he will make some money. But if he loses the case, it’ll mean he’s already made his money. Sweet deal.

It’s high time IPL got its shit together. It needs to do something. Bring back those good ol’ fashioned fixed matches. Maybe get Azharuddin involved if need be. Renowned captain, fixer and has had a Bollywood actress for a wife (that too, Salman’s ex). Doesn’t get more IPL than that.

It’s also time for the players to pull up their socks. They need to do some drugs off the field or on the field or on the umpire.

Somebody’s gotta do something.

Come on, Delhi. You still have a match or two left. Live up to your cliché. Next time, the umpire declares one of your batters out leg before wicket, don’t walk back to the pavilion. Walk to the umpire, take out a gun and hold it to his head and ask, “Janta hain mera baap kaun hain?”

The IPL desperately needs a hero. Somebody who will rise to the occasion. Somebody who will rise above the game to save it. Before cricket entirely destroys it.

Lost City

All these years, Bangalore has behaved like a typical Bangalorean. Friendly, naive and nice. But, nice things never happen to nice guys.

When the modern working class complained, “Argh. It’s 23 deg. So damn hot and uncomfortable to sit in this cubicle while writing code to help my client in the States cut down on his Carbon footprint”, Bangalore took it to heart. And so he allowed people to build massive tech parks on its lakes with centrally air conditioned buildings only to make sure the temperature could always be 22.5 degrees inside the building. Because hey, we all know how painful it is to be subjected to 23 deg.

When the politician complained, “Look at Bihar, UP. There’s no way we can make money like that in this annoying place”, Bangalore felt bad for him. So Bangalore gave him all of its green cover at throwaway prices so he could throw it away at exorbitant prices to the real estate mafia, who then sold it at 100x exorbitant prices to, well, Bangaloreans.

When Narayan Murthy complained “Terrible infrastructure. My company’s productivity is going down. The 5 lac people I’ve brought in from other states to make me richer, aren’t able to reach my slog-hole on time. Is this what you call hospitality, Bangalore?” Bangalore panicked. “Did I do something wrong? This must be really my fault.” So Bangalore gave away a road to Murthy and told him to build a fly over on it to ensure his employees directly land into their office cubicles, so he could get richer; faster. The construction of this fly over drew the ire of the locals as it jeopardised traffic for a few years. But Bangalore was happy taking the blame as long as Murthy could sleep peacefully at night while his code labourers reached office on time in the mornings.

When Bangaloreans cribbed “I’m working 18 hours a day trying to get Murthy and others richer, I have no place to chill”, Bangalore felt their pain. So Bangalore gave away a few more of its trees and lakes and modesty for malls and McDonald’s. (Though we’ve remained good friends, Bangalore and I, I let him know he pushed it too far with McDonald’s. More Corner Houses could’ve been a better plan, though.)

When Bangaloreans cribbed “Man. I’m so stressed making a ton of money at work, but I can’t even party the night out beyond 11.30,” Bangalore listened. And then replied, “Shut the f**k up.”

Come on, even nice guys lose it sometimes.

Now when Bangaloreans are cribbing, “Man, this city is going to be unlivable in the next 5 years”, Bangalore is weeping. Not because he’s upset with people treating him like shit. He’s upset with Himself. He’s wondering if he didn’t do enough. If he didn’t sacrifice enough lakes. Didn’t uproot enough trees. He feels like he has let others down. He feels he is to be blamed.

Because nice guys are like that. Nice guys don’t always finish last, sometimes they are just finished.

#Proud

Prince William be like, “Damn, this is a little confusing. My family unlawfully took away their land and made them our slaves for a couple hundred years. We also took away their rights, spices and Kohinoor. And almost got Bhuvan to pay dugna Lagaan. But still, when I come over, they fight tooth and nail to be on the guest list to attend my party, and are desperate as hell for a picture with me which gets uploaded under the hash tag “‪#‎proud‬“. Bad move letting go of this country. Screw you, Gandhi (oh, and yeah, thank you white skin).”Prince

My Hero

Vijay Mallya is my hero.

I can’t withdraw more than 20,000 rupees a day from my account. He withdrew 215 Cr and left the country.

The minimum account balance I need to maintain is 0. But he can maintain a minimum balance of Rs -1500 Cr.

I work quite hard but my last birthday party was thrown by a friend on his brother-in-law’s terrace; I spent 200 bucks on cab. When he turned 60 this year he burnt 90 Cr on his birthday party on a private island in Goa, and flew down Enrique.

I pay my modest EMI on time fearing phone calls and letters from the bank. He owes Rs 7000 Cr to 17 banks and nobody knows on which number he’s available or where to send the damned letters.

If I owed the amount of money he owed, I would have taken a bus or hitched a drive for free (to save whatever little I have left) to escape my debtors. But he took a chartered jet and flew to a private estate near London.

Yet, everybody else is too busy calling him a huge failure. They’re cracking bankruptcy jokes, poor man jokes, fat man jokes and absconder jokes on him. Let me break this to all of you. The joke, is actually on you guys. If you ask me, he’s not a failure; he’s the biggest f**king success story today.

No matter what they say, you’re my hero, Dr Vijay Mallya. Sleep well, chief. You’ve earned it.