Nope, you're quite wrong. This isn't a rant about the shoes. Nor is it one about any puppies for that matter. Its about the Punjabis. The original inhabitants of Delhi. The quintessential North Indians. Being born and brought up in our nation's capital, I have encountered many of these strange and wondrous creatures that come from that land of five rivers.

Yes, they may have the same names like Bunty, Monty, Pummy, Pinky, Minky etc. It's true that generations of poultry have been sacrificed at the altar of butter chicken. Even more generations of humans have lost their lives to the speeding cars driven by them on our capital's roads. They are the same people who buy puny little Marutis... oops.... Mrutis.... and then put tyres from a dumper truck on them in order to "pimp their ride". They are the ones who are ever ready to do the bhangra whether it be a wedding or a funeral. You can always count on them to throw weddings so lavish and extravagant that it could employ the entire work force of a small nation for the duration of the wedding. And they are the same people with their obsession with going to "phoren" who are responsible for making Punjabi the third official language of Canada (after English and French).

We "other" Indians may love to hate them but lets face it... they bring colour to our otherwise drab capital. They are the reason we dance to bhangra remixes all night long in the clubs. They are the creators of "bling" culture in India long before the black rappers in America. They brought Fight Club to our city's streets in a way Edward Norton and Brad Pitt never could. They are way more fun to be around in comparison to us "other" Indians. And despite having the most skewed sex ratios in the country they still manage give to this nation the hottest of women. So I in the end I raise my (imaginary) glass as a toast to this great and colourful community and say "Oye hoye!! Lage raho ji!!"

Imagine that it's well past midnight and you are walking all alone in a dark alley. You are confronted by a trio of goons brandishing crude and rusted knives and you realise you are being mugged. You scream for help and who comes to your rescue? Not Dharmendra paaji yelling "Kutto!! Kamino!!" and flexing his muscles who thrashes the goons to kingdom come with a couple of punches and flying kicks. It's your neighbourhood watchmen who come your aid yielding clumsy bamboo sticks as weapons and probably get knifed themselves trying to save your sorry ass. Then why is it that we idolize our screen heroes who we have never met and in all given probabilty never will but treat our maybe-saviours-in-the-time-of-need with disrespect and disdain. Shouldn't the man who pretends to be someone else for a living treated with disdain and the one who keeps an eye on our safety get the respect he deserves? What's wrong with us?

No, I am not crazy and it may be the pint of beer I had earlier that lead to this blog but just think about it. Have you ever given a second thought to the labourer who toiled in the hot sun to build the roof that is over your head right now? Have you ever looked a toilet cleaner in the eye because of who you don't have to do the dirty work yourself? How many times have you cared for those poor souls who work for bare minimum wages to build a road on which you can cruise in your swanky car? We are grateful to those doctors who operate on us but do we ever bother about the nurses who make sure that we recover from it? But we idolize and build temples for our movie stars. We scream our lungs out and tear our hair out when we see our rock gods at a concert. We are prepared to spend our life savings buying a piece of wood which has our cricketing god's scribbling on it. We swoon over gorgeous models wearing skimpy, impractical and costs-more-than-the-moon clothes. We, as a race, worship those who quite frankly do little to improve or impact our life but choose to ignore those who keep it running like a well oiled machine.

Imagine your life without your maid, your neighbourhood watchman, your city's firefighters or your nation's labourers. Will that sexy fashion model wash your clothes for you? Will your on screen action hero come to your rescue when you are being mugged? Will your favourite rockers pull your burning ass out of a fire? Will that sports team build you the expressway you always wanted to get you to work faster? Then why give all that attention and money to these talented-but-not-really-impacting-the-human-race people rather than make life better for those people who spend their lives improving yours. I may be losing it (I think) but it sure gives you food for thought doesn't it?

Stop! Thief!!

Remember mommy and daddy's lessons when we were wee small. Don't lie, never steal, always be polite and respect your elders. And how we followed those lessons until we grew up and saw the world in colours other than black and white. We were introduced to the white lie. We realised that many elders didn't deserve an ounce of respect. We learnt that always being polite would get us trodden over. The one addage we still stick to is never steal. Or do we??

It's true that most of us consciously don't go shoplifting at the neighbourhood store. We don't pick our friends wallet when they aren't looking and nor do we mug strangers in dark alleys. But as I sit here writing this blog, listening to music I downloaded from Limewire I can't help but think that we all are, at some level, thieves.

We may bash up that pickpocket who has the misfortune of getting caught stealing a wallet which only had 50 rupees in it but as I sit and count the thousands of songs I have "illegally" downloaded over the past few years I ask myself, "Am I a bigger thief?". The songs, the movies, the TV shows and the games that I download from the net would probably total up to the cost of a small car if I were to buy them legally. Of course I must not forget the thousands I have further saved by going to bootleggers and pirates. But this isn't just me. Millions of working class Indians are always on the lookout of someway or the other to save their taxes. Even corporations are in on this with IBM and Sahara getting booked for tax evasion to the tune of hundreds of crores. How can I forget the biggest thieves sitting in the seats of power, some with the sole intention of siphoning money from the government's coffers to theirs. The cops who ask speeders for bribes when they get caught and the speeders who pay the bribe because it is less than the official fine. The millions of IAS aspirants whose sole attraction to the civil services are the bribes a civil servant gets.

We jail the robbers and the dacoits. Dish out public beatings to petty thieves. Socially castrate kleptomaniacs. But what about the rest of us? Should we all be rounded up and punished in a similar manner for being the innate thieves we all are? I would love to continue this rant but my movie just finished downloading so I must now go and watch. I guess I'll learn my lesson some other day.

Cocking about.... something that unites all men and boys alike, everywhere. Sitting arguing about anything under the sun, oogling at women, swooning over cars, hurling abuses at our favorite sport stars, poking fun at each other. Now add to this male bonding ritual some cameras, an abandoned airfield with a runway as a studio, 350 million viewers worldwide, access to the BBC's huge coffers and dollops of the most expensive and exquisite cars on the planet and you get Top Gear.

Yes, I know its a car show. At least thats what it started out as 29 years ago. Hosted by some serious faced people who drove and reviewed cars like an auditor doing the taxes. You could call it informative, if you liked cars that is, but never entertaining. There was one bloke though who bought some humor to all this seriousness. A tall fat bloke with an afro called Clarkson. When he left the show sometime in the late nineties he literally took all the viewership with him. But when he came back in 2002 he brought back something never seen before. A car show that was entertaining. Not only to petrol heads but also to people who just have plain old blood running in their veins.

Its been five years since that happened. Jeremy Clarkson's afro is all but gone. Richard Hammond has been from the dead and back. And James May... errr... he is still James May with longer hair. They have ruined half a million caravans. They have raced each other all over Europe. They have built some of the most ridiculous contraptions including a van-houseboat that only sinks, a reusable car-space-shuttle that can only be used once and a Fiat Panda stretch limo that is longer than the Petronas Towers are tall. They have called the Koreans dog-eaters. They have labeled the Americans as an incestuous race. They believe that the City Rover is just a way for the Indians to get back at the British for 200 years of the Raj. They have commented that German cars have sat nav only to guide you to Poland. Richard can't sleep at night because he has been tormented for having his teeth whitened for almost two years now. Jeremy Clarkson still thinks that "MORE POWER!!" is the only solution for everything from getting your car out of the mud to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. James May still doesn't know the way to the Top Gear studio. Things may have become more ridiculous over the years but the camaraderie is still there. People from bus drivers to eco-activists (or ecomentalists as JC calls them) have been offended but viewers all over the world love them which includes the aforementioned Indians, Koreans and German. Americans.... well they don't watch, hear, read, eat, smell or for that matter know anything about something that isn't American.

Its the chemistry that the three of them have that makes the show so special. Anyone can review a car. Its only when one can review a car whilst calling one's copresenters blithering idiots that we can call a show truly special. These three men have raised the car to the star of sitcom from something to take you from here to there. They have transformed a boring old car show to a show which can now make for a million times funnier alternative to watching reruns of Friends. And all this achieved by a journalist, a radio DJ and a pianist by just being themselves doing something they are passionate about. Three cheers to them for making Top Gear what it is. And may those in BBC who considered cancelling the show rot in hell for all of eternity.


Bangalore. The tech city.The pride of India in the 21st Century. The place to be whether you are a youngster looking for a job or you are a multinational looking for people looking for jobs. Four years of college and all I could hope for was that when I graduated, I could get a job in this oasis of opportunities in the middle of the desert of unemployment called India. But things don't always turn out what you expect them to see. Six months I spent there. Boy did it change my perspective!

The first thing you notice when you come to Bangalore is that everyone has something hanging around their neck. What is it? Its a corporate icard. Look closely and 99.9999999% of the time, the company will be an IT firm. On my first trip however, 100% of all the cards I could see read Infosys. Every bus which was not the city transport department's (or BMTC as it is officially called) was labelled Infosys. I swear I saw at least 10 buildings which read Infosys. Hell, even the newspapers that day were running some big story on Infosys and Narayan Murthy. Made me wonder if there existed a secret Infosys army that had overrun this peaceful city, made everyone here their slaves and secretly declared Bangalore as Infosystan. The fear was dispersed when on the second day I saw badges of other software firms but one thing is for sure.... I was in ITville.

At 6:59 a.m in the morning on a weekday, Bangalore is a place like no other. Its peaceful and serene. The beautiful roads are empty. The trees and grass are the lushest of green in the morning sun. While the rest of the country starts simmering at sun rise, this city is cooler than the water inside a Delhiites fridge. Bangaloreans of all ages, sexes, sizes and complexions are out in the gardens and parks, jogging, walking and doing whatever else you can do to start your day. Come 7:00 a.m and this city is overrun by the aforementioned slave armies. Armed with laptops and sporting swipe cards (that let you know which software regiment they serve under), they launch a massive assault on peace. Their assault supported by all sorts of formidable cavalry ranging from scooters to buses, peace and tranquility have no option other than take the rest of the day off. The morning sun is blocked out in a haze of 2 stroke bike and auto LPG smoke. The lush green dies out smothered by the dark diesel fumes of the buses. Within a minute Bangalore makes a transformation from Utopia to post-apocalyptic wasteland. If there is going to be a doomsday, needless to say, Bangaloreans are made to rehearse for it everyday. It would be well after the sun has set that this wasteland returns to its Utopic self.

Since I was going to be here a while I needed to find food. It's not that finding food in India's second richest (officially anyway) city was going to be a problem, the issue was finding food I liked. North Indians have a misconception that South Indians survive only on Idli, Vada, Dosa, Sambar and Rasam. After coming here, turns out that the fact that this was a misconception was a...errrr.... misconception. Its true. Thats what every South Indian eats for every meal for every day of his/her life. What's worse is the fact food tastes the same at every restaurant. Not only that, every restaurant will have a name which ends in Sagar, they will have the same menu, the same steel tables at which you can stand and eat. Even the waiters look the same. Maybe this hi-tech city has secretly learnt how create robots (similar to Arnie's T100 in The Terminator) but instead of sending them back in time to save mankind, programmed them to destroy human taste buds by sending them to operate South Indian eating joints all over the city. Hasta La Vista, taste buds!!!! Its not that the food tastes bad. Its just that there is so little variety that it wouldn't be long before a Punjabi or a Gujrati or a Bengali would be longing for a change of taste.
Took me a while before I found food to suit me but for some time I seriously considered joining the neighborhood herd of cows for a early morning graze. Just for a bit of variety in my diet!

Getting somewhere... one of life's greatest challenges. If you are a Bangalorean that is! It probably took Neil Armstrong less effort (and time) to get to the moon than it takes a Bangalorean to get from MG Road to Jayanagar in peak hour. The buses are good and plenty but only if you can read Kannad. Still, no matter as after a while you figure out the buses. But buses don't go everywhere nor do they run at all hours. That's where the autowallah comes in. These khaki clad ghouls driving smoke spewing three wheeled contraptions are worse than your worst nightmares. They are repulsed by any prospective fare who wishes to go by the meter. If somebody ever got possessed by the ghost of a Bangalore autowallah, the sure-fire way of getting rid of the spirit would be exorcism-by-fare-meter. They reason their overcharging by claiming that whatever your destination, they will not get another fare there. Hence you must also pay for the auto to get to the next fare after you get off. So here a Bangalore top tip: GET YOUR OWN TRANSPORT. But if you have your own transport you will spend half you life waiting in traffic jams in your vehicle and will go bald trying to find parking. Moral of the story, make sure all the places you may want to go to are walking distance.

Six months and the only thing that agreed with me during this time about this city was the weather. There is no denying it, there are no cities in India that beat Bangalore when it comes to weather. When the sun roasts Delhi and has a Kolkatan holding an umbrella complaining "Ki Gorom!!", a Bangalorean can enjoy a cool breeze in the day and sleep at night without an AC or cooler. When the cold has every Delhiite dressed in four layers of clothing and has a Kolkatan wearing a monkey cap complaining "Ki Thanda!!" a Bangalorean can make do with only a light jacket in the morning and in the day not think of turning on a fan. When the monsoons have a Mumbaikar swimming to work and has a Kolkatan in a raincoat complaining "Ki Bishti!!" all a Bangalorean has to endure is a light drizzle. So even if the IT armies, auto driving ghouls and dosa cooking robots choose to thrash this city, at least mother nature decides to smile at ITville.

The ideal Indian city would have Delhi's open and clean roads, Mumbai's spirit, Kolkata's friendliness, Bangalore's weather and Chennai's .....errrr.......hmmmm.......well I'll get back to you on that one! Bangalore isn't the best compromise. At least not any more. Too many people have come too quickly to this not too big a city making it crumble under its own weight. I would love to live in Bangalore but only uptil 7:00 a.m. Too bad I'm a late riser!

It's 11:30 at night. Everyone is asleep. There are a hundred channels on the TV all showing crap. The radio has developed a penchant for playing Himesh Reshamiya!! I have nothing to do and 11:30 just isn't late enough to go to bed. So here goes. My first blog on a page I created 2 months ago.

Who am I? If you have followed a link from my profile on Orkut or Facebook you already know who I am. If you aren't, then you don't really care. Suffice to say, you don't really need to know much about me other than what I have to say.

Why do I blog? Hmm.... because everyone does and I thought I should give it a shot. Because I have all the free time in the world for the next couple of months. Because of all the reasons mentioned in paragraph 1.

Well, that was my first blog. That wasn't too hard!

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