Sunday, September 23, 2007


Like other select young, successful and rich men around the world , I drive to work every day.Windows rolled up.AC cooled.FM playing.Laptap bag on the back seat.The normal setting.
It takes me half hour to get to my office in Gurgaon, time which I judiciously invest in planning how to avoid the boss during the day,how many coffee breaks to take that day,and what songs to download in office.Ah yes , and I spend time standing still in the middle of a sea of cars,bikes,tractors and trucks at the third most common thing on indian roads after potholes and lazy cows- the traffic signals.

Now , when the light is red ,it is a strangely empty phase of your life. Like those phases in the elevator,Loo or a bad date,when you need to just wait till it gets over.You can do a number of equally useless things.You can stare at the "Horn Please Ok"/"Road kee Rani"/"Keep Distance" painted in dirty yellow colors on the posterior of the truck ahead of you.You can check your hair in the rear view mirror ,though its a rather girly thing to do. Or , like the typical irritating and nosey indian male, you can stare at other people waiting in their cars around you.Which is what I do.
Strangers.Young men.Families.Women in their 30s.Headed to office.Tapping fingers on the steering wheel.Impatiently.Few relaxed.Most hurried.Their lives forcibly paused for those few moments till the light flickers to yellow .And then green , to signal the resumption of life as they know it.
Now, maybe I am one of those people who sterotype people.You know , the kind of guy who thinks every bengali wants to participate in a strike atleast once a week and every north eastern guy is born with a black belt holding up his diaper and every Indian living south of Madhya Pradesh worships Rajnikanth.Because whenever I look around at people in their cars at the traffic signal ,there are some typical kinds I find:
The Corporate Honcho
40ish year old.Balding head.Smart black business suit.He reads a Business Newspaper through his gold rimmed glasses as the powerful AC whirrs silently in his Honda Accord.A uniformed driver holds the steering wheel.Even the driver looks well fed and bathed.He belongs to the upper strata of drivers.Not like the shabby and wiry auto drivers who dig noses and smell like Harbhajan's vest after his ten overs.Class drips from the car and everything in it.But for a man so rich ,the guy reading the newspaper looks as uncomfortably stiff as an electricity pole (To be honest,my first thought was to compare the stiffness to that of something else.I know you know.)
He looks a bit grumpy.Like a guy who had too many mooli ke paranthe last night and woke up this morning to find the flush was broken.Maybe his son doesnt listen to him.Maybe he is worried about closing that all important deal with the Japanese.I dont know.But I dont want to be this guy when I get old.I know this much.
The Brat
Meet the College guy, who has been described as the "Ameer baap ki bigdi aulaad" by Bollywood since stone age.The kind which bullies bespectatcled nerds and ogles at Giggly girls at college.The car won't be very big here , unless Daddy is too lenient.Generally a Santro/Swift/Esteem.The back windshield plastered with stickers which say 'Speed Demon'/ 'Extreme Speed'/'No Fear' and other phrases with similar philosophy.Infectious Punjabi/Hip Hop music blaring from the speakers.And , a lot of dents and craters on the car body as if the car substituted for a Pakistani , when an angry ,Handpump toting Sunny Deol could not find one.
Finding him at the signal on my way to office is not easy due to two reasons-
A.He does not get up this early in the morning.
B.Even if he gets up and gets ready ,you need a tank or a Haryana Police Hawaldar to make him stop at a traffic signal.
I think all the female drivers - Young,old,trendy,homely,fat,slim,etc etc should be grouped in one category, as I have done. Because in spite of their diversity in appearences and lifestyles ,they share that one common binding force in the matters of driving a car - They are all life threatening to the rest of the people on the road.Specially if they are on their way to a Discount Sale.

Don't get excited and organise a morcha yet.I know Sunita Williams went to space and did things like floating upside down there.I know Chak De India is a hit and we loved when the girls won.But pardon me , for I speak from personal experience.For one,women are extreme drivers.Either they drive very slow.So slow , Manmohan Singh in a frog race would overtake that car.Or , they will go fast like they got a pregnant friend on the back seat who is seven minutes away from delivering.
They would utilise the waiting time at the signal in pouting their lips at the rear view mirror.Checking if slight wrinkles at the eye corners are still there.Young girls who have a boyfriend ( Who doesn't,these days? Contact me.) may manage to send a cheesy sms before the light goes green and they are let loose on the society again.
If you love life , stay away from them.
Call Centre Cabs
I don't know how things are in other parts of the world.But in Gurgaon,the sight is as common as thumkas in a Bhojpuri movie.White Qualis or Innova.Young men and women cramped inside.Office cards hanging around their necks.Tired eyes.Crumpled clothes.These are the Sams & Jims and Marks of India who work in the Call Centres of Gurgaon , which outnumber the entire population of Alaska and Ibizza put together.Tired after a night of explaining how to switch on that washing machine to super dumb people in the USA ,these youngsters just lie slumped at the signal,unable to move because of lack of energry and space in the cramped vehicle.The drivers in this case,though mildly dangerous , are still angels when compared to women.
Though in very few professions you to get to spend the night with each other ,this car looks more like a sleeping lounge than anything else.
Young,sophisticated,rich,mannered and elegant men
These are men in their twenties who cheated in their exams and got into good Business schools and are now young managers in Big Companies.They dont look tense like the corporate honchos in the Accords since they havent got all those heavy duty tasks yet.They dont look tired like the call center guys since they got back early from the office last night claiming tummy pain and enjoyed a prolonged and refreshing sleep after the India Australia match.These are the perfect,most balanced and most wonderful men anyone can expect to see at a traffic signal,or on the planet , for that matter. Incidentally, I belong to this group.You could have guessed that from the adjectives ,anyway.
You see,trying to notice the different people waiting with you for those few moments at a signal is like trying to stuff Mayawati in a butterfly net.Different people.Different lives.Different emotions.Stuff above is as inadequate as my answers to the class X chemistry question paper.But I need to shift the gears and go now.The light just turned green.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Chartbusters Unlimited - Volume 1

In spite of a cricket team which plays like a bunch of arthritic grandmothers, I really like being an Indian at times. I mean, what other country would give me a day off for celebrating the birthday of a guy who may have never existed? I wonder how many of us really strap up cardboard conical caps to our heads and shout ‘Happy Birthday Krishna’ on Janmasthmi, but I am sure a lot of us get a day off to lie unbathed , download songs and type grammatically horrendous blog entries. Perfect country for a guy like me, I tell you.
Anyway, earlier today, I decided to renew the songs on my system. So I delved into my hard disk, into folders that had been long forgotten, lying untouched since ages like your old bicycle which lies dumped in the attic once you grow up. Folders that had been lying embedded deep in the disk like abandoned Umrao Jaans. Folders that contained songs which once made my heart dance like a drunken monkey who just gained entry into a hostel housing young female monkeys. So I rediscovered some old classic songs which were once played at every tea shop in this country.
Songs which define the times I grew up in. Songs which contained the gut wrenching grief of a lost love , the cute joy of a blossoming love, the mischievous naughtiness of a lover’s wink. Songs which embodied the emotions which fill the developing heart of every Indian boy when he is growing up. Songs which shaped my thinking when my mind was still impressionable. Songs which have made me the man I am. So ladies , gentlemen and Bobby Darlings , not wishing that these gems ,which have played such an important role in the making of this sophisticated , refined and tasteful young man go unrecorded on this blog , I give to you , a few of these life changing creations -
“Kahan Gir Gaya Dhoondho Sajan
Button meri kurti ka”
English translation, for the benefit of my overseas readers ( Yes , I have one from Bhutan . A girl from Uganda visits sometimes,too.)
(Where has it fallen , please search Darling ,
The button of my shirt )
This extremely naughty and imaginative song sensitively captured the anxiety and terror of a young girl who, due to a unskilled tailor who used a cheap thread, has lost a very crucially located button on her shirt. To make matter more intense, she is dancing dangerously close to the young hero of the film, the purpose of whose existence is to tease the young girl and belt out bone bending pelvic movements at the same time.
It doesn't take much to notice the anguish on Mamta'a face
.You gotta be anguished when you got Mithun with you and your shirt button is missing.

Hey Saala ! Teri Jaat ka paida maaru ! Mamta meri hai , kya !

The song was picturised on a well fed Mamta Kulkarni along with a clearly uncontrolled Mithun Chakraborty ,who looked as dapper as ever in his wet swept back hair. Now you know why Mamta was so terrified. On a personal note, the song left a huge dent on the contents of my skull , and taught me a lot about what to do when life presents you with a lady who has lost a button on her shirt.



Angana mein Baba , dware pe Ma

Kaise aau gori , main tohre ghar maa


Khet gaye baba , bazaar gayi ma

Akeli hu ghar maa , tu aaja saajna



Your dad is in the courtyard ,

your mom is at the door

How do I enter your house , oh fair one ?


Dad is (defecating?) in the fields ,

mom is in the market

I am Home alone , come in Darling .)

If the previous song carefully brought out the menace of cheap buttons and improper tailoring , this song points its finger at the age old problem faced by every young couple – Parents. The song starts off on a touching note where a troubled Govinda is itching to enter the residence of a rather conservative Shilpa Shirodkar.

But at the same time , Govinda is concerned about his physical safety as he believes Shilpa’s parents are at home too . As the song progresses and tightly captures the longing of Govinda , the mood is relieved when Shilpa coyly informs him that her father is in the fields and her mother has gone to the market to avail the 60% discount on Ajay Kunwar Sarees.

In a shocking display of modernity , she not only informs but invites Govinda inside her home . What followed after his entrance his beyond the scope of this post , though of deep interest to the author of this blog. On a parallel note , I strongly believe that Shilpa’s father went to the fields to defecate . Being a resident of a (Gur)Gaon myself , I have been a traumatically close witness to the happenings in a field , and I can confidently claim the purpose of Shilpa’s father’s visit to the fields.

On how the song affected me , it was a clear indicator that if I ever love a woman , I will make sure there is a saree discount sale on around her home and her home does not have a toilet.

How do I enter Silpa'a House ?

Shilpa , the girl whose father went to the fields.


"Tera kale kale lambe lambe naagin se baal ,

Dekho Ankhiyon se goli mare ladki kamaal"

(Your hair is dark dark , long long and like a cobra

Look , The fantastic girl shoot bullets from her eyes)

A trend setting number of its times, this track was the first of its kind which made a girl sound like a weapon of mass destruction .Govinda , who sported a dress which was strikingly similar to an art gallery , first compares Raveena Tandon’s hair to a serpent of deadly virtues – The Cobra .

As the audience lies stunned and little babies in the hall start wailing, he proceeds to bravely declare that Raveena has the ability to fire bullets using her eyes . A totally novel and unique concept , this became a talking point across the nation and the Indian Military ranks .

A few days after the song swept across the country , cheap tabloids reported that some very excited Officers from the Indian Military had invited Raveena at their Weapon Research Laboratory .What happened in the dark confines of the Lab remains a mystery , but Raveena was never the same chirpy girl again. Reports pour in to this day , with recent news being Raveena has been posted at the military base at Leh border with a bulletproof vest and no guns , except her two eyes.

Govinda sings about Raveena's shooting abilities joyfully , just before the Military picked up Raveena.

So , my fellow music conoisseurs, these were just three of the gems which have offered so much to our lives , to my life . I have laughed , cried , chuckled , sobbed and done a lot of strange things listening to these songs . I hope to showcase more songs soon . But for now , I just have to sway to “Jab tak samose mein rahega aaloo..”.