Thursday, December 29, 2016

Off the shelf Editor.

I recently wrote a template to make the lives of cricket reporters easy by providing them with a ready-made write-up. All that will be needed is to cut and paste from the template depending on the result. I now try a similar task, this time for the editors to just pick from the following headlines after an incident.


When MNS, BSP, SP, Cong, BJP or anyone else runs riot and take law into their hands
·         The Guilty Must Be Punished
·         Lets Not Allow Talibanisation of India
·         Shame Thy Country!
·         Indian Democracy Hangs its Head in Shame
·         Goonda Raj!!
            All these must be on the front page with a comment- Read the Editorial on page    15.

            After a terrorist attack
·         We Will Not Tolerate!
·         Give a Fitting Response
·         Peaceful Negotiation Must Be Pursued
·         Mumbai’s Spirit Will Not Be Broken (Mumbai is the usual victim,   else remember to change the city name)
·         We Will Emerge Stronger
·         The World Must Unite Against Terrorism
·         A High Level Inquiry Committee Will Investigate says the PM

            After yet another monsoon fury
·      BMC caught napping
·     Pre-monsoon promises washed away ( Add a photograph of flooded streets)
·     Mumbai subways flooded (Milan subway, the ever reliable!)
·     Traffic comes to a standstill ( Preferably with some landmark seen in the background)
·    Mumbai’s lifeline is paralyzed ( Another photograph with at least  two trains with the flooded tracks in the foreground)
·     Mumbai Marooned (King’s Circle!)

            Here the same photographs that you have been using for the last 15 years can be    repeated.

            After yet another Olympics
·         Billion dreams lie shattered
·         Indian Hockey Team fails – Again!!
·         Leander Paes misses Bronze!
·         Ace shuttlers fail to serve!
·        Lee-Hesh fails to put nation above self
·     Why India Can Not Win a Medal ?– Special Report By Kapil L P Dhongra ( Eminent Sports Psychologist – If the pun is noticed, you are good in proofreading)

            After Andhra Faces yet another Cyclone
·         Declare It As A National Calamity pleads Andhra CM*
·         Relief Operation in full swing/ at war footing.
·         Aerial Survey By PM and Andhra CM
·         Losses Estimated at 20,000 crores.
·         Spread of Infectious Diseases looms!
·         Pandemic looms large!!
            *- To the uninitiated – In case of a calamity the state does not have to return the    aid to centre.

            When a person of Indian origin wins any award
·        So and So makes India Proud
·       So and So , a person of Indian origin wins Nobel/Bigg Boss/   National Idol/ Ignoble/ Talent Hunt
·       My Grandfather left India in 1895 , says the winner
·       I Visited Chennai in 1983 gushes the winner
·       He was always smart – says the neighbour
·       PM , President and others convey their congratulations
           
            After heavy rains lash any city
·         Met department forecasts heavy rains for next 48 hours
·       It is due to south east / north west depression says Met director (Always remember that the depression should not be from a single direction)
·       Nonseasonal rains destroy crops
·       Essential commodities become dear after the nonseasonal rains

            When someone wins in a game other than cricket
·         So and So makes a cricket crazy country proud
·       India should focus more on ……….. (Fill the category here) laments the new champion.
·       I wish to get a reception similar to the one that our cricketers get quips the champion.
·      This achievement is bigger than 1983 world cup says the coach.

            The moral of the story is there is no escaping cricket in India.

            Before the release of any movie
·         The story is different says the director
·         This is my best performance till date promises ………
·         I have a small but significant role in the movie says ………
·         It will be a complete entertainment for the whole family assures the producers (This is after the movie is granted a “A” certificate)
·         Indian film industry had never attempted anything this big!!!

These are general guide lines. 
An innovative editor can decorate this further. 
All the punctuation marks, like the single exclamation mark (!) and the double   exclamation marks (!!) are mandatory. 
They have been tested and found to be  effective over the past years. 

In addition to this, there are other stories that are inevitable that are also seasonal. 
Like when the results of the board are out you have to locate someone who performed despite the odds, 
the Muslim who protected a Hindu boy during the riots, 
the rickshaw driver who returned the bag containing valuables and cash, 
the baby that survived miraculously after falling on tracks and coming under the train, 
the child who falls into a bore well or an open drain, 
the housing society that’s flooded and the society that stays without water for three weeks and so on. 
These are so regular that no one reads these reports any more and hence are not that important. 
In fact a new editor can hone his skills on these occurrences.

Hoping that the taxing job of an editor is made a little easier!!


Monday, December 26, 2016

Lost Christmas !

W.H.A.M.!!!!!

One of the dictionary definitions of the word "wham" goes “a solid forceful blow or impact”. That is precisely what I felt when I was scrolling my twitter feeds close to midnight on the Christmas day. I had waited for my daughter to arrive, else I would have fallen asleep. The first tweet was BBC breaking news about George Michael. As 2016 was officially the year that gave birth to fake news, I was hoping this was one such. I resorted to my faithful news provider The Guardian and there was this news ticker, breaking news! 

It should have been breaking hearts.

Last Christmas was the first song that I knew the lyrics of. I was in my teens and this song was a definition of “how to keep things simple”.


A melodious tune, honeyed voice, mellifluous music in the background and lyrics that would make it the official anthem of every broken heart for years to come.

These were the pre-Google days and pre-Youtube days. Listening to a song at the click of a button was years away. 

Growing up in India, having been schooled in vernacular medium, English as a language was still as foreign and fearsome as it could get. If one had to hum along with the song, one needed to know the lyrics and there was only one way to get the lyrics. 

Listen and try to decipher.

I do not know how many of you had seen the hilarious film Jumpin Jack Flash featuring the inimitable Whoppi Goldberg. She gets clues which she links to the eponymous number by Rolling Stones. In a scene that is so real and funny, she loads a cassette into her cassette player and starts playing the song. She pulls out her scribble pad and starts writing the lyrics. After about 7 hours you have the scene where she collapses on the floor next to the cassette player, still belting out the song, pleading “Come on guys speak English”

I so related to this scene as I was going through the same ordeal trying to do the same with, the much simpler, Last Christmas.

I was sitting on the floor listening to his golden voice and trying to write out the lyrics as I kept playing forward and reverse and even though George Michael had a much easy way of rendering a song compared to the manic renditions of Mick Jagger, it did not help me one little bit.

For years I was humming along with what I understood as the original lyrics.

Years later when songs and online lyrics were accessible I would die laughing.

Some of my notable goof-ups, which I was confidently belting out loud along with George Michael were

“But you still patch me eye” (I was always imaging a Long John Silver at this line and wondering what was the connection)

“Well it’s been a thousand fires” (Here I was patting self on the back on such a wonderful metaphor)

“We are too known to saying” (again I saw him speaking for all of us)

“Passed your room, saw the guy there” (I was fairly certain of this part as an explanation of betrayal)

The next four lines were a jumble. I sang different sounds each time as I was like Whoppi Goldberg crumbled next to the cassette recorder.

I have traveled quite a distance from those early years with exposure to great music and learning to appreciate greater artists. To be honest, George Michael will not feature in my top 10 today.

But mention English songs, Last Christmas will always be the first song on my mind.


Since yesterday I am now forced to remember it as Lost Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Letter to Santa

Dear Santa

My niece’s son has been writing letters to you since the last two years and guess what, he is getting what he has been asking for.

I  am almost 52

If I had too started writing from the age of 4, this would be my 47th letter. (Now you know, maths is not my strong point)

As you can see I had never written to you in the past and hence guess that you will be kind enough to grant me my wishes too.

Here is my list:

Give me my grandmother back just for one day; I would like to re-live the pleasure of being woken up by her and to be offered a mouthful of the sweetest, strongest and hottest filter coffee.

Give me my father back just for one day; I had always wanted to have a drink with him, which never materialized with misplaced notions of “proper” behavior that is acceptable to the society!

Take me back to that early morning at the Trichy bus stop when the four brothers were polishing up oily, unhealthy and extremely spicy food from a roadside stall that would fail even the most relaxed hygiene inspection.

Take me back to all those moments where someone had cried because of me so that I could say a sorry and remove those tears.

Go to 1980 and undo John Lennon’s death.

Take me back to that wedding where the family group photo had 67 members.

This much for living in the past.

I am also a conscientious man.

I am asking a few things for the future too.

Make it possible for anyone to travel to any country.

Give me the voice of Morgan Freeman.

Make children visit libraries.

Afflict everyone with incurable happiness.

Convince Justin Bieber to stop singing.

Stop drinking Coca- Cola



I will stop here. Let me see how you perform. My next year’s list will be drafted accordingly.


Footnote: The stocking is hung to the left of the fireplace.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Pati Patni aur Woh ! (Husband Wife and the other one)

Never expected that my wife would love someone other than I, and so passionately at that.

Always took it for granted that I have the lion’s share of her attention and love.

Two children came by and the love did not diminish.

And as it often happens in real life, I brought my competitor home.

Did not know he would usurp me one day or would occupy her life so comprehensively!

Her life revolves around him, nowadays.

And she flaunts her affection blatantly.

Even in the presence of guests.

He is the first thing that she reaches out to in the morning.

She plans her day around him.

I do not feature anymore in her plans.

He, for his part, is no less blatant in ensuring that she gets the full attention.

He plays the emotional angle to garner her entire attention.

He is blessed with such beautiful, philosopher eyes. It is impossible not to melt under his innocent “please love me” look.

A schemer, he encroached all common grounds and the coup d'├ętat was when he confidently slipped into our bed, one night.

After that night his position was a given and I had no say in whether he could share our bed or not.

Both of them were living happily, as it can happen only in Hans Christian Anderson tales, until one day he was diagnosed with an ailment and had to undergo a surgery.

That was the moment I realized that I was loving him as much as she was.

Our combined world collapsed.

The day of the surgery was nerve wrecking.

His return from anesthesia was slow and he was completely disoriented.

It was difficult to handle him as he is a full grown male and on the heavier side.

We cursed ourselves for calling him heavy as he lost 20% of his body weight over two weeks.

The second night after the surgery was a real nightmare. He was throwing up an unbelievable amount. The living room was akin to a swimming pool.

He was all skin and bones.

Food did not interest him.

He was always hungry but would not eat.

Could not eat, actually.

It was becoming routine for us to start our dinner, pile food on our plates, take a few mouthful and dump the dinner into the garbage can.

I was making four phone calls a day from my office, just to inquire about his health.

The regular visits to the hospital, the endless IV drips, a last minute resort to administering steroids, canned food replacing his regular diet were all taking its toll on our health too.

All the hospital staff fell to his charm too.

At the end of it all, he has started to recover his zest for life.

His intake improved.

He is now slowly getting back to his original self.

I do not mind his presence in the bed anymore.

Scooby, our two and half-year-old boxer, is almost normal and hopefully will be back to his original condition soon. 

There is a race now between my wife and me to win him over.


And I stand no chance.

The year that was.

Time for some stock-taking as 2016 winds up.

The easy way would be to list all the disappointments, the travesties and the injustices.

You do not even have to remember all that went amiss, a quick google search on “Disasters of 2016” or “World-shaking events of 2016” is enough.

Even easier you start typing Disa.. and Google prompts and completes it instantly for you!

Two roads diverged in the wood
I took the one less traveled by
And that made all the difference.



So I decided to look back at 2016 and count things I am thankful for.

I am thankful for the following in no particular order:

I am still alive, breathing and reasonably healthy to face another year
(Ok the knees remind me of my age once in a while, no big deal)

My dog survived the trauma of its surgery and is recovering well

My daughter pursues her passion for art
(And sends me project details which make no sense to me – they simply look awesome)

In a hostile environment my son stood firm on his conviction and held a concert to raise fund for the immigrants.

I was on the roof of Africa, yet again.

The world did not annihilate under a mushroom cloud

Usain Bolt demonstrated how staying at the top of your profession for three Olympics can be fun

Mo Farah defined the term “It doesn’t matter how often you fall, you are beaten only if you do not get up” – and get up he did, and went on to bag a gold too!

While Nikki Hamblin showed true sporting spirit by helping a fellow runner get up and ended up losing the race, but won the hearts.

Ambulance driver Alaa Jaleel restored faith in humanity by feeding numerous cats in war-torn Syria!

Leicester made us believe that fairy tales are real.

Strangers continue to smile at me when I offer them a smile

It still costs nothing to be a decent human being

Realized that I have reached an age where I concede my father was right about most things precisely at the same moment when my son realizes that I know nothing.

The forests and wildlife are still around, despite our best efforts in wiping them out.

Found my Muse!

People did not self-immolate themselves nor burnt buses because their chief minister died.

Films like La la Land are still made.

Zinedine Zidane is still out there performing his magic.

Planet Earth 2 is happening!


(On being shown the teaser, a friend of mine was more excited and squealing louder than the Iguana should have been)

For the first time in my life, I ran two half marathons in a year and survived to tell the tale.









Sunday, December 18, 2016

L.O.V.E.

Disciple: Master, please define what is love.

Master: Before I even attempt answering your query, let me make a prediction. You will never be able to experience what is love, in your life!

Disciple: Why do you say that master?

Master: Because you are trying to define something that has to be experienced first-hand. By asking for a definition you are creating a contradiction as to what love is. You are trying to bind it within certain boundaries. It is like trying to explain poetry on X and Y axis. See Dead Poets Society if you do not understand this example. 


Love is multifaceted. While I will never be able to explain it, as it is essentially the unexplainable (not inexplicable), let me try to make you understand what it could mean.

First and foremost, contrary to popular belief, you do not need two parties involved to experience love. If you want to experience love, you alone are sufficient. The miseries in this world, in the name of love, are all children of the ill-conceived unrequited love.

It gets complicated the moment you feel that your love must be reciprocated, returned in measure; that your love must be understood, to be explained.

If these are the boundary conditions you draw, then it is not love; it is a trade. I give you something, you return it to me in certain measures. Else, my love turns to indifference, or worse still hatred….

Love is.

Love remains.

Love stands the test of time.

Otherwise, it is not love.

Come to think of it, it could be far easier for me to explain what is NOT love and then you will begin to grasp what love is.
It is NOT
  • Mere affection.
  • Lust.
  • An act of convenience.
  • An obligation.
  • Something to be expressed.
  • Something to be explained.

It is something that one FEELS.

The only test of love is time.

If your love remains undiminished with the passage of time, in fact, it would actually increase over a period of time if it is really love, then it is love.

Carnal considerations will pale off certainly with time.

An act of convenience comes with an expiry date. a deed done, copulation completed, purpose achieved and so on…

And pure love has no distinctions between the living and the inanimate.

One can love a painting, a book, a particular hilltop.

You keep returning to them and your love grows each time you come in contact.

It surely is not a competition. I smile when I, often, hear this question – who do you love more?

What is this – some sort of a game show where you get to decide who the winner is. Love does not discriminate. Love is, and should be, plentiful.

Love does not wallow in jealousy. Love does not seek recognition. Love does not need acceptance. Love does not compare and evaluate.

Love has a start but no end. If it ends, it never was love.

One can love. And no one needs to know. And probably a love of this kind is the purest kind.

On the other hand, the love that no one needs to know is probably love.

If I tell you that you will die tomorrow. Who or what comes to your mind are your love!

Please note I used “are” instead of “is”.

The more your heart can love, the more love you will experience in your life.

And your love will live on…

Friday, December 16, 2016

I am rich - I have a friend.

Do you have a friend



Who you think of whenever something good or bad happens to you

Who you can call ANYtime

With whom you can be yourself

With whom you do not have to use phrases like
  • Let me explain….
  • Needless to say…..
  • To be honest with you….
  • I will be frank with you……..
  • We have known each other for so long , so……..


With whom there is no subject that is taboo

Who knows some details about you that NO ONE else knows, not even your siblings, spouse(s)

Who you think of whenever you

  • See a film on friendship
  • Hear a song about a friend


With whom you can cry

Who understands your unspoken words

With whom you have to NEVER explain anything

Who listens to you

Who will cancel ANYTHING and run to you when you need him/her

Who is the first person you think of when you get up

Who is the last person when you hit the bed

Who has not gone from “most called” to “not in contacts”

Who does not judge you

Who TRUSTS you

If you have one such friend
Hold on to him/her
With your dear life.
Don’t let go!



Tuesday, December 13, 2016

2016 - in Alphabets

Aleppo

Brexit

Chapecoense

Dylan

Erdogan

Fake news

Global warming (a Chinese hoax)

Hillary

ISIS

Johan Cruyff

Kabaali

La la Land

Mistry, Cyrus

NaMo

Olympics 2016

Portugal Euro 2016

Queen Sacrifice masterclass by Carlsen

Rahul aka Pappu

Syria

Trump

Ukraine

VCR is officially dead

Wall between US and Mexico

Xenophobia

Y – the question that we asked countless times

Zika