Category Archives: Humour

The most clear, honest elections ever

This election has not been like any other in the living memory (my memory, obviously).

It is the bitter fight, with no clear favorites, that is usually the most absorbing. However, even though this one is a pretty one-sided contest (- with a clear Modi wave, a clear prime minister, a coalition government with a predominant party which clearly does not need allies, but will keep them along because of its large heartedness etc etc –) it is turning out to be like no other, as I said, in my memory.

The trailer to Polls-2014 was launched in December 2013 itself. BJP won three states, and was the single largest party in the fourth. The party that was supposed to win just 6 seats, spoilt the party, grabbing 28 and prevented a well-deserved clean sweep. And the party ‘was’ spoilt – there is no doubting that. Left a bitter taste, that result from the capital did.

But what it also did was to alert the rightful winners – that to ensure there is no slip between the cup and the lip, bitterness has to be sustained and kept alive in the hearts of the bhaktas. Only then will the poor sods be in the fighting fit mode, only then will the work be completed satisfactorily and appropriate result achieved. And so, although it is a clear, one-sided election, a pretense of a fight has to be kept up till the last round of voting. After which date, exit polls and celebrations can be uncorked.

The election has been good for the economy. It has generated lots and lots of temporary rural employment. For many, elections have been a boon – two square meals a day and some spirit to keep the spirit up. Election has recycled lot of black money in the system – not a mean achievement. Huge amount of ‘foreign’ investment into the election has ensured that the rupee, that was wobbling against the dollar, gained strength. There is an all-round cheer in the corporate board-rooms. District maps are being dusted and laid on the tables again for carving up the wastelands for development – something that will be a boon for a lot of God forsaken places in the country.

But the best aspect of the elections this time round has been the truthfulness of the campaigns. We are witnessing clear statement of priorities that will ensure there are no heartburns after the elections. It has been clarified, for example, who will, and who will not, get irrigation or drinking water, and why. It is probably only for the good that people are wearing their caste, religious, regional loyalties on their sleeves. No point in hypocrisy and pseudo talk – an unbecoming coyness that has dragged the country down since time immemorial.

And that reminds me of the foreign policy stance of the main parties. For the Jonny-come-late-lies, foreign does not exist. For the spent force parites, ‘foreign’ is an un-parliamentary word. But the rightful winners are clear in their focus – a potential superpower must behave accordingly – it must be muscular and imperial – or else it will not be taken seriously. They have made it clear – neighbours should not throw their weight about – the pecking order of the business of weight-throwing will be made amply clear by them once they start the serious business of ruling the great nation.

All in all, this one has been one of the most honest, clear and non-partisan election I ever witnessed. The coronation will be sometime in the last week of May, but the party will start on the 16th. Keep yourself free for the happy occasion.

***


The Great Democrat

He always has a smile ready
Has that son of a gun –
And has a tear or two to spare
For the funerals.
 
He loves his people
And all that belongs to them –
He is their father and teacher
Rolled into one.
 
He is the greatest democrat
He has never lost an election –
Why, when people want to vote
He lets them give him two.
 
His wisdom is unsurpassed
All respect his legal mind –
And when the law fails to serve
He helps the lady blind.
 
A protector, a defender, a nationalist
He is the scourge of the enemy –
And the way he is a-going
In an year there won’t be any.
 
His name will be writ in history
(To that the History Department will see – )
He will set right the ancient wrongs
And set the country truly free.
 
The papers are full of his praise
As they should, for he does no wrong –
And the schoolchildren are glad to study
His autobiography.
 
And that his good work may not go waste
He teaches and prepares –
His wife and sons and daughters
With due care.
 
***

How to write a novel

My first class at ‘How to be a Writer’ started with a BANG.

“Mr Teecher, how does one begin a Novel?” I asked getting to the point straight. For I was clear, I want to write a Novel.

“Mr Ranga, we will come to that shortly,” said the long nosed thin Teecher.

But that was not good enough. I knew the fellow would start by teaching short stories and limericks. I had been warned of that by my friend Dhiraj. “These courses are no good,” he said, “they teach you to write short stories and limericks.”

So I persisted. “Mr Teecher, we must start with the Novel,” I said and grinned, for it was no good getting the fellow angry.

“All right,” quoth he, and shrugged. “Although it is irregular, but just to give the class a taste of the best in English literature of the twentieth century, we will begin with the Novel. Now the difference between other writings and the novel is that the latter has a setting and is rooted at a particular time and place. It has a set structure, with a beginning and a resolution. It is normally linear and….”

“All that very well Mr Teecher, but how to start it?” I said, knowing the fellow was making it sound too bad, so I would be discouraged. My friend Dhiraj had warned me of these tricks. Methinks, Dhiraj has attended a writer’s class sometime.

“The start of a Novel,” began the Teecher slowly, for he must have known he was going too fast, and he can’t fool us by going too fast, “can be of any kind. There is no set pattern. I will give you some examples of the beautiful starts of some of the classics.”

So saying, he opened his notebook and starts to read. The fellow has not done his homework, or he should have learnt these by heart. Anyway, this is what he said:

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Thus began Leo Tolstoy in his masterpiece Anna Karenina, setting the tone for the novel. ‘He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.’ wrote Ernest Hemingway in The Old Man and the Sea, positing the conflict of the novel in the first sentence itself…”

The Teecher had misunderstood me. “No, no. How do we start writing a novel, I am asking,” I made my good self clear and grinned, so he may not get annoyed.

The Teecher thought for some time. Slowly he kept his notebook aside, and thought some more. “Although there is a set sequence in which the students are introduced to the art of writing, seeing the enthusiasm of Mr Ranga, I will, for a change, begin with some tips on how to write a novel,” he said, getting my point. You have to be firm with these fellows, Dhiraj had told me, and he was right.

“You must have a plot, to begin with. A rough sketch of the storyline, as it were. The names and characteristics of the main characters must be drawn up…” he began, but I interrupted on an important point.

“Teecher, my drawing is not so good,” I confessed, for when you are going for learning, there is no harm in being honest. It gives man honor and dignity, to confess weaknesses, however painful it may be. Mahatma Gandhi did that, and see what happened to the British Empire.

“Ummm,” thought the teacher, made some faces, no doubt because of deep thought, and said, “Ok, skip the drawing part, just write the characteristics of your main characters – the protagonists…”

After a long lecture, in which I took copious notes, he ended by giving us assignment for the next class, which was, to prepare notes for the novel we wished to write.

***

I worked hard all week, with my notes. I even consulted Dhiraj, who said, do not tell all your notes to class, or other students will cheat and write novel of your bright ideas. That was a good point again, and I worked carefully, hiding some important facts about my main story and my main characters.

***

“Mr Teecher,” I began, when my chance came to read out my notes, which was after two silly girls, who wrote about their heroines who were in love with a Pirate and a Vampire, two different girls, I mean two different heroines…Anyway, as I said I began thus:

“Mr Teecher, my story is about a great man, who was a nobody and became a big man, but ended being a nobody at his death-bed, and thought about the missing opportunities he had for love and doing good. But now, he thinks, no good thinking that now, for it is all over, and I have played my innings.”

I paused for reaction, for I knew the idea was very modern. Generally, people do not show their great men coming down again in their novels. But I did not want to write routine old stuff.

“Go on, Mr Ranga,” said the Teecher, for he was hooked.

“That is all,” I said, for I did not want to reveal all to cheating fellows in my class.

“Mr Ranga, you will have to flesh out the plot. Where did the events take place, when, who were the main characters. And even the plot is too generic. Exactly what happens, how the man becomes great, how does his downfall come about,” said the Teecher.

“It happened somewhere in India, in the twentieth century,” I replied, not giving away much. “The hero was a businessman, who hit it rich in petroleum and becomes a Prime Minister.”

Again the Teecher interrupts me. “The novel has to be plausible. Imagination must be tempered,” he said.

I thought of Dhirubhai Ambani, and saw his point. “Ok, I said. The man makes it rich in the petroleum sector and becomes a king-maker. His decline comes because his sons are no good, and his daughters run away with drivers and actors.”

I was clear that it was not a Dhirubhai story, and this ending would make it clear. “At deathbed, he is in a refugee camp…”

The Teecher interrupts again. “Refugee camp? How did that come in?”

“There was a war in which he lost everything. His industry is nationalized,” I reply, grinning. I could see he had not foreseen that.

“But how does that make him feel about missed opportunities?” Teecher asked, clearly perplexed.

“Because he could have gone over to the enemies side, which was more powerful. But details later,” I said firmly, “Now for the characters. Man, his wife, his two sons, his two daughters.”

The Teecher sighed, “Describe your characters. For example, the description could be like – A balding middle aged man, of medium height. Greying, thin mustache on a rotund face. A middle-class businessman with delusions. Frowning and agitated demeanor. Of modest beginnings, which is evident in his style, dressing and language.”

Methinks, the Teecher dislikes me. It was clear he was describing me, hiding behind the great man in my story. But I let that pass, for, as Dhiraj told me later, Gurus become jealous of their chelas when the chelas start doing better than them.

We were given the task of writing synopsis for each of our chapters for our next class.

***

It was difficult to write synopsis without giving out too much information. I consulted Dhiraj, who said caution is better part of valour. No use showing off in front of class girls, he said, keep the synopsis short.

***

My turn for reading out my synopsis came two weeks later, for I had to listen to the rubbish by the girls about Vampires and Pirates. Some parts I liked, where the girls giggled and said there will be some lovemaking, and that gave me some idea to throw in the sexy parts in my synopsis, and I kept on rewriting and improving. But without giving out the intimate details, as they say.

“Mr Teecher, Chapter 1. Old man is born in a cheap family. He is the thirteenth child. He is put in village school. He decides not to join Mahatma Gandhi, for business is what he likes.

Chapter 2. He goes to college and works at night. Teachers are bad to him and girls giggle. Yes, just like that giggly girl in the front seat. But he is not deterred. He also feels attracted to a rich girl, but not says anything to her. This he will remember at the end of the novel, with regret.”

I look around for reactions, and was happy to note that the girl sitting next to me was smiling.

The rest of the synopsis went off well. Mr Teecher said I should start working on the novel ‘in right earnest’.

***

It has been two years since I wrote my first novel. It set me back two hundred thousand rupees to get it printed. My friends liked it a lot, and Dhiraj was very happy too. He said I should write more, but it is costly to get them published, so I will think about it.

Dhiraj was also right about the Teecher. He is jealous sort of fellow. I asked him to write a praise to be printed in the book. And what he wrote shows he wanted to be a writer, but did not have the guts. He wrote:

“The first novel of Mr Ranga is a notable effort in terms of the ground he has covered from being a semi-literate. The first time he showed up in my class, I knew he would write a novel and get it printed. He has that kind of money, and the burning desire to add respectability. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors as a novelist.”

Anyone can recognize the sarcasm, but he was right about the money and respectability, and so I let his words be printed in my book. In any case, one must not snub gurus. It is not in our culture. Also, my large heartedness would make the fellow squirm at his own mean-ness.

I dedicated the book to Dhiraj, my wife, my two sons and my two daughters. It was unveiled at a glittering ceremony by the Prime Minister.

***


Post Doomsday: be prepared for the worst

images-1_0So you messed up by believing in the doomsday and did not go to office. What? You also used some choicest language with your boss, when he called you up?

Although D-day is still a couple of days from now, for me it is time to prepare some excuses for you for 22nd.

And no, it does not make me any the less believer than any of you, but, unlike the other preppers, I am preparing for life (not death) post 21st.

So here goes the first, and tentative, list of excuses for the boss for 22nd:

  1. Ha, ha. I did peck you up on a depressing day, didn’t I?
  2. I was told by my astrologer to misbehave with the person I respected most. He said going against your instincts is the only way to ward off disaster. I think it worked.

Anyway, the exact phrasing of the excuses will depend on what you had said, but the basic idea is to appeal through emotions or humor, whichever is your strong point.

Now that the Mayan calendar will be out of the way, the soothsayers will have to go back to Nostradamus or Nibiru. Business as usual. Do you believe that they would be remorseful, and change their ways? Not a chance. Do you feel they would hide in the Andes, fly from the public wrath? No. They would be saying something like – “I told you so. It was all bogus. I know the world is going to end NEXT APRIL….”

Coming to life in general, give a thought to the empty coffers and hangovers on 22nd. No use blaming the Mayans – one, they are not around, and second, they never predicted anything. Only one of their calendars ended on a particular date. It is like, on 31st our calendars end, so we should assume that the world will end that day. Right?

Life will go on with its pollution, inequality, misery, insensitivity and with threat to everything that is nice and wholesome. The end will come, eventually, but it will be a slow and painful end. Hopefully the end is still some centuries away. The way to prepare for life is to create a cocoon of happiness around you, and hope sufficient number of like-minded people will gravitate towards you and create a small biosphere of goodness.

Anyway, to cheer you gloomy lot up, here are some D-day jokes that I thought of, posted on the FB, and nobody noticed.

Doomsday mini questionnaire:
With whom would you like to spend your Doomsday?
a) Spouse – so that you don’t feel any difference
b) Boss – to tell him some facts of life
c) TV – committed till the end
d) Alone – to think of things not done

 

What would you do on Doomsday?
a) Check bank account
b) Update fb status
c) Tweet your feelings
d) Pray

The last Tweets–
Indian: Did Sachin retire?
Israeli: The Arabs are doing this
Pakistani: Did we do that?@#$

On reaching heaven, the first words–
Indian asks God: Did you get all the sweets I used to offer? (No harm reminding Him of the investment.)
Arab asks the Houri: Why are you not wearing a Burqa?
American: Where’s the beach?
Israeli: Where are the Palestinians living?
Bush: Where is Saddam?
Osama: Where is Obama?
Bill Gates: What’s Steve (Jobs) upto?

 

Reading such horrendous jokes makes you wonder whether doomsday was really such a bad idea, doesn’t it? Weeeelllll, you do have a point there.

***


Modern Parables – 5: Respect for sentiments

The political orientation of the Winged party is far from clear to anyone, including the founding fathers. Nor does it have a clear agenda. The owls and bats tended to oppose the leadership of the crows, while the eagles and vultures rarely attended the meetings.

The present meeting was presided over by a blind old bat, who was revered by all for his contribution to the cause of the avian society in the past. The powerful Crow family used him as a symbol to keep the flock together, while exercising power from behind his wings.

The meeting started on a gloomy note, with the mention of disappearing of the Swan, the beauty queen and the heartthrob of many. The disappearance had taken place in mysterious circumstances, and many felt the dog squad was not doing enough to nab the perpetrators of the heinous act.

“We must take the matter to King Sher Singh. Criminalization of the jungle is almost complete. The crocodiles or the Cat gang could be behind the crime. It is time someone raised their voice,” shrieked a woodpecker.

The Crow family – father, two sons and a daughter, all members of the party – looked distinctly uncomfortable. Papa Crow cleared his throat and tried to bring reason to the discourse:

“However sad we all may be over the disappearance of our beloved comrade, we must exercise restraint. For all we know, Swan could have flown to its native land in Europe. Conspiracy theories always lead to recriminations and disrupt the social order.”

The Crows had working relations with the cats and the crocs, and did not want the matter to escalate. They had a sneaking suspicion that someone from the Big Cats may have kidnapped the Swan, for swan meat was considered to be a delicacy in those circles. Though the new laws of the jungle gave protection to endangered species and foreigners, some animals were known to be above law.

Papa Crow’s voice of sanity did not have many takers, and in the heat of the moment, he was hooted down, and a resolution was passed for sending a strongly worded letter to the King.

The letter was read by the Wolf in the court, to derisive sniggers. Most of those present knew the final destination of the Swan, and smiled. Sher Singh also smiled, but dictated a carefully worded reply:

“The matter of the missing Swan has been brought to the notice of the government. We appreciate the seriousness of the matter, and assure our avian friends that all efforts would be made to trace the whereabouts of the respected Swan. Signed etc.”

“No need to promote these birds by sending a reply,” grumbled a leopard.

But Sher Singh knew how democracy worked. His rule from behind the veneer of democracy was based on respecting the sentiments of all, and on promoting the interests of some. He waived a hand, dismissing the objection, and indicating that next subject on the agenda be put up.

The Swan was forgotten by most within days, but the firmness and love of justice of Sher Singh, as evident from his reply to the Winged Party, was the subject of many a newspaper columns for months.

Moral of the story: Newspaper columnists know which side of their bread is buttered.

***


Modern Parables – 4: When the chicken crossed the road.

The chicken that crossed the road wondered what the fuss was all about.

“There is no rule about not crossing the road, is there?” asked the chicken, panicking at the brouhaha.

“Umm, no. But chicken are expected to be afraid of traffic, and not mess with their lives. You see, authorities want your own safety,” replied the Inspector.

“The state has become paternal and has assumed all the powers of a father. Where is the free will,” the wise old owl commented cheekily from the branch overhead.

“What is that supposed to mean?” asked an angry Inspector, wondering whether the old fool was once again trying to sow seeds of dissent among the public. “Do not play mischief with the lives of people. If there are rules, they are for the good of the animals, and respecting them makes for a happy and safe society.”

Though the owl did not want to get drawn into the controversy, he could not resist quoting the old rule that a razor should never be given to a monkey.

The inspector, who happened to be a monkey, and also happened to have a weapon on his person, saw through the seemingly innocent comment.

“Oo. So we are challenging the authority of law, are we?” he demanded. “I arrest you for obstructing an officer of law in discharging his duty.”

Soon the matter was taken up at the court of justice, presided over by a balding eagle.

It did not help matters that the eagle disliked the owl, or that the chicken, which was produced as a witness in the case, ranted about crossing the road with a zebra.

The Hon’ble eagle, in its legal wisdom, pronounced the owl guilty, and sent him for a month of community service.

The monkey, satisfied at having quashed a rebellion in the bud, recounted the instance to many an animals with the sole wish to establish respect for law in society.

The incident however had the reverse effect on some of the more sensitive birds, who flew into a rage, and started attending a secret society to counter the growing autocracy in the country.

The chicken was made the mascot of the secret society – something that led to much disgust in the powerful circles.

Soon, the full force of law, and this time it was heavy ammunition of police dogs and hyenas that tackled the budding insurgency. Law was pressed into action, and a large number of chickens were culled for the betterment of the society. The culled chickens were used to make soup and this was served to the lions. The pride, which ruled the jungle for the benefit of all, prided itself for being ecologically sensitive and not wasteful, and encouraged cooking up of animals given capital punishment.

The discussion that followed the party dwelled on the foolishness of the aspersions that are cast on the law of the jungle by foreign powers. “We know what is best for our people,” commented the oldest male lion of the pack, for in his life he had always worked for a just and inclusive society.

***


Ants and humans

The Indian ant
Doesn’t dream the American dream.
It collects sugar and seeds, through the day
To take to its colony –
It gets its rightful due
At the end of the day.
 
Men too
Do not dream of a life on Andromeda.
There is little that is different
In the two social orders,
Except, maybe that man
Can be a little indisciplined at times.
 
Some men eat ants
And some ants eat men-
Though all this happens
In remote forests.
Civilized men and ants
Live in cozy apartments, peacefully.
 
The observer in Andromeda wonders
How do the two species avoid treading
On each others’ foot, in such a small space?
Which one rules the blue planet?
And which one would survive
The next asteroid strike?
 
***

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