Jun 23, 2009

The Indian Marriage Procession

I attended a marriage procession recently.

Here's the scene: 9pm, random street. Black groom on equally black horse, let's call him 'The Dark Knight' ! .. he was choked up with the black smoke coming out of the generator. He was already invisible and the smoke sure made a deadly combo. The silver turban and his ghostly teeth were the only 2 visible co-ordinates available to locate him.

The Dark Knight was behind the 'Navbharat Band', a name which is replicated across cities and states in India. Let's take a look at who all participated in the circus:

a) 20 poor men and women, carrying on their head the burden of 20 tube-lights with color papers wrapped on them. They were 10 on each side of the procession. The generator was on their team, taking revenge of their misery from the groom. After all, half of that smoke on his face was because of the tube-lights' load !!

b) The contemporary lead singer, with his music crew. They were playing Daler Mehndi's "Hayo-rabba" as usual. His keyboard skills were as bad as the weather prediction skills of the Indian Meteorological Department; never on the right note. But, I couldn't figure out a screeching noise coming repeatedly in between the song. When i heard a "Bow-Bow", i realized that his skills were better than that of the Meteorological Department, he was being innovative at least. He used his "Panasonyca" keyboard, adding animal and bird sounds to groove-it-up. That screech must have been that of a sparrow.

c) The family members were dancing(kicking) and throwing money everywhere. The music crew kept fighting to get hold of the haphazard spread of money. A few well dressed outsiders also sneaked away with some cash. Guys did the Naagin dance. The elderly made sure that the young girls dance to their limits; protecting them from the poisonous snakes.

They were dancing on "Hayo- rabba, hayo-rabba, hayo-rabba. Gadde te na chad di gadire te na chad di, gaddi teh-teh na di-di-di, cha-cha un poo-poo duh-duh go-go da-da-di, bolo ta-ra-ra-ra" . this is how he sang it ! .. only the start and the end wordings of the song were correct. Well, who cares for the lyrics anyways !

The song ended, followed by a short hault. All of them hooted for their favorite songs to be played next. Locating the co-ordinates and pointing towards The Dark Knight, the lead singer shouted, "Ready, One, Twooo" and sang "Tennu dulha kinhe banaya, Bhootni ke .." .. poor chap !


Jun 19, 2009

Drink, Drive and Bribe | Mumbai traffic police & bribes

What does it take to drive a bike? You buy a bike. You have to have driving license, bike papers, insurance and PUC. You have to follow the rules of the road. All these are good ol' norms; now, you can't be drunk.

You will get the papers and insurance done easily as the private bike shop owner helps. You will get the PUC done easily for a bare minimum; again at a private shop.

What about the driving license? The time taking Sarkari procedure makes you want to kill yourself. The Indian Sarkari Babu is always "high" on his low self-esteem. He puts a finger in his ear to mutely let you know that he is not bothered. He ignores you and treats you like a dog.
But, you have to get things done, You bribe.

What about following the rules of the road? The Thullas will catch you one fine day. Then, they take your bike keys, ignore you and move away. You follow them like a dog and ask what have you done wrong. You say 'i have papers and driving license' shit. He says one of these ..

1) its one-way
2) no u-turn
3) you are speeding
4) your rear view mirror?
5) it's diwali

.. and you are done. Sadly, you find out that many of them are drunk, enjoying a mid-day high. You call them "Sir".......... but still, to get away with things, You bribe.

Wondering about the 5th point? They normally don't steal from you for such an absurd reason. But, it's Diwali. It's one of the days when even Thullas have to bribe. They have to buy silver coins, to bribe god. How can then, they leave you without a bribe, reason or no reason?

We treat God with nicest sweets, silver coins, coconuts and what not. We call it religion and worship. The truth is that we have developed bribing as a habit of getting things done or getting away with things. We bribe god for our prosperity, health and happiness.

Bribing god at home is a joy. We happily offer all the pricey stuff to them because it's the only form of bribe which actually remains with us
. It's like we give them the smell of food & feel of money and then take everything back. A dream bribe !

Do we ever pray or worship in good times? If yes, do we bribe or is it just a fold of hands? It's got to be just a fold of hands. If its a bribe, we do it at home. We won't bribe God at a temple, unless we are in deep shit or want something badly. Courtesy: Indian Govt.

Anyways, coming back to the point. You don't have a problem giving bribes to Babus and Thullas. It's actually one of the best things about India. You do what you want and get away with 50 Rs. Pretty cool, ain't it? It's like the government has struck a deal with its citizens .. "we will get high, on alcohol or on low self-esteem; we will ignore you, your carelessness and flaws. You just have to pay for the cheap "high". Win-win situation"

All fine till now, but ..
6) you smell !

A flash sign board in Mumbai says "2000 people sent to jail for drunk driving in last 2 months". Why? What happened to the deal Govt.? Is this "rule" so strict that one of you may lose job for taking bribe or for arresting less no. of people? Do you have to show less accident figures to somebody? Will you get more funds after showing these figures? If you can drive a huge country on a high, why can't the citizens also drink and drive .. a tiny vehicle?

... you show teeth, we grind teeth, it's perfect. Let's not bring law and order in place .. please ! .. let the "rule" be there, just accept the bribes, Sir ! ...


Jun 1, 2009

Apple ishtyle !

How Apple works?

.. make rare products which appeal to users from all angles .. and then .. make people use them on company terms. For instance, buy an i-pod and you are forced to use it through iTunes (unless you crack it). More to it, the mp3 and video files should only be of a specific type. Similarly, the i-phone had many features missing and their PCs and laptops run only on their own Operating System.

Apparently, the revenues from iTunes are over a billion dollar. The insight is that the product is so good, one actually never complains over the fancy restrictions and conditions. Instead, you try to appreciate and find the logic behind them. But you wont find many services or companies who do this.

I remember I went to the Girgaum beach last year. I was with a few friends and we were enjoying a rally of fast food. I spotted a paan-wala with biigg moustache, round and proud !
I was having a Gola while he noticed me admiring his style. He was around 50 meters away.

He folded hands, bent his head down and with welcoming eyes, gave me a mute invitation. I couldn't resist the uncanny gesture. I went there with 2 of my other friends.

We were not surprised by the long menu. Of the top of my head, they were sweet and saada variants of Banarasi, Kalkatta, Maghai etc. We chose one randomly. He swiftly made a great looking paan with thousand ingredients. And then, suddenly, he placed his hand at the back of my head, pulled me down and forced the delicious beetle leaf in my mouth ! .. he does this to everybody .. No complains .. Apple ishtyle !