This Week in Bullshit

There is three types of multimedia advertising in this world: 1. That I like, especially those “banned commercials” for they’re funny and mostly have carnal undertones (or the other way around — those are funny because of their reference to certain taboos). 2. That I do not take a note of, 3. All ads have some degree of foul crap in them, but this is the category that is known as complete, utter bullshit.

The following series of adverts with gorgeous backdrops is in the third category. Take a look:

If you’re not convinced yet, please get an Airtel 4G connection in Bangalore, or any Airtel “G” connection for that matter, for it’ll make me feel better! I will have 1. another fellow sufferer, 2. one more to curse and yell at Airtel customer service/care; Airtel needs all it can get as customer outrage for it to change things for good.

Coming back to the ads, I hope for the future that Airtel marketers would be competent enough to hire a competent ad agency that does not think that the rest of the world is not as smart as they’re, and could at least have made those little films more realistic than showing bunch of people watching a prerecorded video with “Airtel 4G bar” pasted on top. I mean, REALLY?!

Enough of my bullshit… Someone please integrate WordPress and Twitter better, so that I can directly tag Airtel India’s Twitter handle here, rather than making a reference to this post in a separate tweet tagging them.

This Week in (Politics ∩ Sycophancy)

Back! Some old pals (students) reminded me that I had something in the name of a blog. So I thought of making it a playground to record the bullshit interesting bits all around.

On that warning/thinly veiled threat, we start with the following exemplary tales of “devotion”.

  1. Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu’s herculean effort in taking servile sycophancy to a new level
  2. Fixed for flattery! How IAS officers sacrificed a T20 match at the altar of UP CM Akhilesh Yadav

I know that flattery will get you far. Apparently, India’s bureaucrats and politicians are also aware of this lesson from a top management school. So let me go flatter my woman now.

EDIT: FirstPost staff and authors need not think that I’m flattering them by linking to their posts.

[Contributed Short Story] A Politician’s Wife

[Contributed by Angelic Devil after several hundred requests.]

Years ago, I saw “Rang de Basanti“. I felt awed, felt the blood rush to my face and wanted to go all out and do something for my country. It was in 2006, a time when my generation felt crippled and angry that they weren’t born in pre-independence days, when one could serve their country; free their motherland. What is it that we are running after now? MNC’s, fat salaries, cute partners, skimpy clothes, fancy mobile sets? My generation felt wasted and disillusioned. Debates ensued, candle marches and punish Jessica Lal’s murderers text messages overflowed. Everybody did what they felt was their duty. The movie awakened a kind of a raw passion that one had to channel. And we did. We were all united in the thought that unless we speak up, the democracy will fail. And so everybody spoke up and I… well, me too.

♦♦♦♦♦

Why can’t I join politics? Do you not trust me?” his eyes searched my face for an answer. His face betrayed the disbelief and frustration he felt but his voice was calm. His eyes bore into mine and all I could do was bury my face in his chest. Fear caught hold of me as I struggled to find my voice and a way to phrase my fears.

Fighting my tears all I could squeak was, “I am afraid for you.

As I felt his body relax, I relaxed too. But the fear remained; Dark and ugly, scary and unnerving. How could I tell him that I agreed with him in principle? Yes, someone has to make the beginning. But why did it have to be him? What if somebody snuffs his life out? What if somebody gets him framed? How would it matter to anybody else in the country except me? After the initial brouhaha fades, it will be I who would be struggling to live, not them. What was I to tell him? That I am the armchair activist that he and I despise so badly?

Look at me. Do you want me to spend the rest of my life like an ordinary guy? I’ll go to work, come back; wonder about next month’s EMIs or why my kids are scoring so poorly. Isn’t that what the whole world does? You married me because I was not your ordinary guy, do you want me to become what I never was? Weren’t you the one who told me that one needs to be in the system to change it?

My heart screamed, “Hell yes!” and my mind numb. All I could think of was that he may have the strength to fight the whole world but I don’t. I don’t even have the strength to stand next to him. In those 5 minutes, all my desires to fight for my rights and to make the country better flew out of the window. All I could imagine was me running from pillar to post, trying to get “justice”. All I could envisage was a lifetime of regret that I didn’t stop him.

Can’t we reason it out? Have a healthy debate like we used to?” he asked. His pleading made my heart melt and tighten at the same time. Why can’t he go have an affair or something? Why can’t he be normal? Why is this fight not about some girl he stared at when we were out for dinner? “No! I am not open to any sort of discussion on this issue.” I was startled at my sharpness. So was he.

♦♦♦♦♦

If you ask me what made me give in, my love for him or my love for the country, I would not know. Was that the beginning or the end — I don’t know. Nor do I wish to know. For the time being, I’ve brushed my fears aside and am standing next to him. Or trying to. He wanted me to come and meet these women who have been trying to set up an embroidery unit. I look at him and he catches my eye, the smile on his face lights up his face. I try hard to concentrate on what the woman in-charge is explaining. All I can taste is bile. All I remember is darkness. The water drops feel cool on my face. As I gain consciousness, I hear some talk about the young MLA’s wife being a fragile doll. Were they tittering too? I slump back. Darkness. Again.

I wake up in the cool comfort of the AC in my bedroom, my husband missing in action. All I have is a message on BBM from him saying, “Sunstroke. Rest. Will see you in the evening.” As I work on the plot-line for my new novel–a politico drama, I wonder if I really am a fragile doll. I read his message again. Do I sense regret in his message? I read it again. The message gives away nothing. He took me there because he knew I am all for women emancipation. I wonder if let him down by fainting? I am not sure.

♦♦♦♦♦

Years have gone by; I’ve seen him grow more as a politician. Oh well, the houses we’ve moved into have only grown with time. So I assume he is doing well. The more he got involved with the country, the more sceptical I’ve become. I often find myself questioning if he is corrupt too. I never asked and he’s never said anything. After the incident, my involvement with his work became less. Slowly, it stopped. Perhaps, it damaged his image. My fears like my involvement too vanished with time.

I no longer sit up and wait for him to come home. I no longer scan the news for his name or his death. He is no longer mine. He is doing what he always wanted whereas I still wonder what I really want from life. I get no answers. I am as confused as I was in 11th standard, when I had to choose one among the three streams. I struggle to find my identity as he continues to firmly establish his. Am I jealous? I would think not. I struggle to reconcile my identity as a minister’s wife. I see other minister’s wives living up to their roles to perfection. I wonder about their disenchantment. I wonder if they share my feeling on the issue. I am afraid. Whether of asking questions or their answers, I do not know.

Desperate for an answer, I dig my life. I sense that my vivacity has been replaced by a dull ache. A friend suggests that I talk it over. Going as far as to tell me that maybe I am craving for attention from him. I know it to be untrue. I know that I shunned him the day he chose to walk on his path. Perhaps that was my defence mechanism. Perhaps I was trying to protect myself from my fears. I drown myself in more work. The pain, however, continues to haunt me.

♦♦♦♦♦

An Open Letter to Graduating IIT Students

Dear student,

After getting your first corporate job, your subconscious thinks, “Okay. I’m half-settled now. I shall live in Bengaluru, have a car, party hard every weekend, work hard on weekdays, hit on female (male) co-workers… who knows I may get along with a beautiful (handsome), intellectually capable one and get fully settled.

Well… my hearty congratulations! I agree with you on every single bit if the change excites you. Been there, done that — barring the fully settled part.

Newsflash 1! What your subconscious does not know is that half of that is never going to happen! I seriously hope it does not happen to any of you, but let us not get my high hopes of you get you delusional. When the truth strikes, you’ll find yourself frustrated or worse, and would want to go back to books/computers/college. At that time, some of you may realize how important it was to attend those last few months of classes that you safely ignored for that joker standing on the dais (as you may think) could not afford a life near TGIF, Airport Road, Bengaluru and most of what (s)he says is never going to work out in real life, especially if (s)he talks mathematics, philosophy or computer science theory.

When your wings are shot down by the drudgery –yes, that what you’d call “life”– and you hit the ground of reality, you’d ask yourself if this was what you wanted to do — write web-apps and test and debug software written by much more decisive people (read ‘academics’). Most of you would not have the courage to quit those fat salaries for some college’s meagre scholarship–irrespective of how deep red your heart bleeds–as your “loved ones” have gotten used to that life-style. Sorry. You’re finished! Live it. Become a VP of Sales in next 10 years, and may be the MD or CEO in next 20 years. Even then, you’d think why I didn’t jump off the sixth floor of the Administrative block in college days.

Some of you, mostly the “non settled” ones, would have the courage to go back and fulfil what they dreamt in those last few days in corporate life.

Well. Been there, done that as well. If, at this point, you’d think you’d be that “lucky one”, hold on to that thought for a moment.

In the graduate school, you’d keep high hopes of yourself. Well, why not? You were an IIT graduate after all, so it is your duty to settle ‘P vs. NP’ once and for all.

Newsflash 2! You’re too old by now. In the college, you’d curse yourself for not getting a long-time girl (boy) friend or a wife (husband). You’ll see beautiful new faces and bodies in hot pants and tank tops. Your hormones will rage, but no use. The “kids” won’t even look at your “mature” outlook. You’d start dressing yourself with the “current times”, but that’d only make your self-esteem dig a hole and bury itself in that. You’d invite “faggot” (if you’re too tacky) or “lassa” (if you’re too macho) remarks from your age group.

You’d try hard to excel in sports like your golden old days, again, just to attract a few lovey-dovey or lustful eyes on you, but then, you’d find that you’re no match to the young legs and fresh lungs, as you had already burnt yours with the cigarette smoke during the days of corporate frustration.

Failing all your attempts to be the college stud, you’d resort to your strengths — your academics. Again, to create a visibility for yourself, this time not to attract the Lolitas, but to create “an image” among your peers. That special one of opposite gender being the part of that peer group of course! You’d set your eyes on a fancy and hot topic like ‘Complex Networks’. You’d find that you can’t pick up on the concepts being taught in the graduate class, since you chose not to attend the undergraduate classes on that topic in those days when your subconscious was really happy on the prospect of a change.

Don’t despair! Start coming to the class now. The instructor is too cool to notice individuals missing the class, though he notices a large chunk missing.

Republic Day and Patriotism

Sample this:
  1. In the pleasant small town of Jodhpur, the local FM radio channels have been beaming patriotic songs interspersed with ‘Badnaam Munni’ and ‘Sheila Ki …’. The only other 2 days when they do so are August 15 and October 2.
  2. CNN-IBN, one of the leading national TV news channels, broadcasts a show at 7:30 this evening with the old Hindi movie songs that evoke the feelings of patriotism.
  3. The small gathering at one of the leading Science and Technology institute of the nation commemorating the day India became a republic started with playing similar movie and non-movie tracks.

Why?

True, we were free in the true sense on this day when we ditched the dominion status and laws that were symbolic of the colonialism in favor of our own constitution. True, every single day is worth remembering and saluting the thousands who died for the Independence. True, music and dance are the best means of celebrations.

But, 61 years on, we seem to have forgotten what the day really stands for. It is fine if the day evokes nationalist, patriotic feelings in you, but it does not celebrate patriotism. It is not just another day when you *must* play the otherwise buried cassettes and CDs.

It does celebrate one of the most hated words of recent times: politics! For 26th January 1950 saw the greatest political venture of its times see the light of the day. It celebrates the inception of a large social structure in a society willing to take its own decisions collectively. It celebrates the and glorifies the notions of socialism and democracy–notions, that even some who do not agree with celebrate ignorantly aligning with the mass mentality of celebrating. Sorry. I do not ask you to have the same meaning and feeling as I have, nor what Ambedkars and Nehrus had. I ask you to actually think and not just follow. I ask you to attach your own meaning having put a lot of thought, this time with the open minds, asking whys and hows.

Happy Republic Day you all.

Why Facebook?

Why does Facebook have to rub it in all the time? Every single ad served during my Facebook sessions has something to do with fulfilling carnal or emotional desires involving the fairer gender!

New Year 2011

2011 is a prime number. It is 305th prime. That’s the only good part of this year.

Happy new year.

There! I said it. Now get back to your work.

If I communicated verbally in this whole new year wishes situation, the communication would have gone something like what follows.

You [all jolly and hopeful]: Happy new year, AG!

AG [disgruntled and frowned]: Happy new year. There! I said it. Now go fuck yourself!

Some people are not worth communicating with. I’m one of them.

Why am I so worked up? Well, I had to change a lot, due to situations that were not in my hand most of the time. I could have walked out of those situations, but I did not change in that aspect: I could not walk out of a bad situation before making an effort to try rectifying it.

  • I had to use Microsoft Windows for a couple of days. That was when I bought my new laptop and the Lenovo assholes denied shipping it without an OS pre-installed. Their OS of choice: Microsoft Windows 7 “Professional”. Take my word, there’s nothing “professional” about Windows 7 Professional.
  • There were no tutors/TAs in the courses I instructed. I had to correct all the Algorithms II and Data Structures and Algorithms (Algorithms – I) answer sheets on my own. For all their exams! 480 answer sheets in total. I hate working! I abhore it. Seriously. I had to change and actually had to work. The lessons learnt:
    • Make computers do that in future by designing MCQ type of exams.
    • Moreover, never give them projects. Students are never serious about submitting the projects within deadlines. I know that part, because I never was. So the last minute work is out of proportions if compared to the human capacity of working.
    • If you ask for projects/term papers/homeworks, ditch the usual inside the room kind of exams.
  • Following does not count for a change, so let me just strike it out. Due to the “difficulty level” of the exam papers or any other reason, the students think that their instructor is evil, which even I think of me at times.
  • People bother me! I hate interactions. I had to interact with at least 50,000 people this year. Okay, that count is exaggerated. Still, it was close to 47,000.
  • I hate telephonic conversations. I hate long telephonic conversations or conversations that start with: “aur kyaa haal hai?” (Hey, what’s up?). Why are people so worried about what I’m doing with my life? I may just go and screw myself for all they care. By the way, that’s what I’m doing right now. Screwing my life. Big time!

I changed when 2006 ended. I thought that that change would be pleasant. It was. That time, I started liking interacting with my friends on a more regular basis. Probably the time was when I needed their support. So there! I’m selfish too. I hate changing back to old me, “the disgruntled, despicable me”. But I have to for I’m again going insane, and I better not bother my friends with my whims and insanities.