Monday, November 16, 2020

Festivals and Pandemics - 2020

My social media feed is awash with people wishing each other and their loved ones with cliched and inane messages such as "from mine/ours to yours", " you and your loved ones", etc. and it makes me first want to hurl, then shake them by their shoulders and ask them why they're living in denial?

2020 is not a year to celebrate and least of all, make an ostentatious show of it. What exactly are you trying to prove? Sure, treat these festivals as a sign and beacon of hope, but for heaven's sake, don't congregate, throw parties, take group pictures and post anything preceded with the word "Happy" against it. Is there anything truly "happy" about 2020 given what's happening around you?

"Stay home, stay safe" should be the mantra of this unfortunate year when tens of millions of people are falling sick, hundreds of thousands are dying and a cure seems to be months away (at least). Set aside the festivities and "teen patti" parties, the regalia, and the joyous/moronic get-togethers that people are  seen regaling in Instagram posts, Twitter and WhatsApp wishes. These seem terribly misplaced at this point in time. Not to mention, that this is a downward spiral at the end of the day. Seeing influencers or people you follow on social media makes the "influenced" and "followers" go out and try and replicate the same experience with the intent of one-upping the other and addressing their FOMO (fear of missing out)  issues. It becomes yet another endless quest to gain more likes, shares, followers, and subscribers leaving aside the original intent of the festival, forgetting the fiasco that 2020 was, is, and continues to be and makes everyone posting these messages look like ignorant fools. What is even more surprising is that the same people who have been lamenting about someone in their family/extended family/social circle having contracted the disease are the ones inviting others to their homes to come and "spread the joy and celebrate the festival of (insert inane symbol) together as one".

Agreed that this is a moment to reflect and celebrate little sparks of joy in an otherwise terrible year. Enjoy, appreciate, respect, and be hopeful...but don't treat this year as any other year and pretend that all is well in the world. It's not, clearly. And if you think otherwise, just look around you and make note of the fact that you're presumably alone for no fault of yours, sitting at home, not going to work, continuing to hear your friends lament about how their kids are being deprived of an education, using covid-19 as an icebreaker in a conversation, reading articles about how the world is coming to an end (unless of course, you're more interested in reading about the conspiracy theories about suicides in the Indian film industry), although ironically, you may have become numb to the news of despair unless it's personal and have begun scrolling mindlessly through such articles. 

Be more coherent. Be more aware. Be responsible. Be more respectful and be cognizant of your surroundings. Enjoy the various holidays and festivals. Do what you have/need to do, but don't make a show of how ignorant you are by posting "group selfies" on social media. Grow up. And thank your lucky stars you're still alive.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Scheme to Cure 43.4 Million Choking Lungs: Delhi's #OddEven Plan (or the lack thereof).

Delhi is a city that’s always been in the news for all the wrong reasons. From rising crime rates to rising (and hence deadly) pollution levels and everything inbetween, discounting politics almost entirely since that’s just fodder for everyday cacophony on news channels.

The Delhi Government heralded by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) recently announced that the commuters of Delhi will need to follow the system of alternating between odd-numbered and even-numbered vehicles. They’re giving this a 15-day trial-run. The only people who will perhaps gain from this are the law enforcers who will ‘challan’ commuters at the drop of a hat, provided they are able to tell the difference between odd and even numbers, although given the potential amount of money that they’ll make, math tuitions and YouTube videos are going to be the flavor of the day.

Bizarre punishments of handing out roses to violators of this odd/even rule is not only laughable, but also immature and will be looked upon by the public at large as a gimmick and a stunt for AAP to tom-tom on Twitter and the like. Similarly, exempting women and bikes (or anyone/anything for that matter) from this ‘plan’ is providing immunity where it’s not required and promotes discrimination in a law that is meant for the habitants of Delhi/NCR, which renders this ‘test’ as a limited and a partial one at that.

In isolation, this plan/program/test/rule is destined for failure and will cause more inconvenience than providing the people of Delhi relatively cleaner air to breathe. One can only assume that the Government has already given thought to the points below and their’s work underway to address these points.

1) The cost of purchasing a car in India is very affordable by the middle-class people in Delhi/NCR relative to the rest of India (and even the world), what with the flexible and convenient EMI schemes that banks and financial institutions offer. This will almost ensure that one-car households will soon become two-car households and will cause more traffic due to the lack of parking some time very soon.

2) The concept of car-pooling is alien in India. Giving ride to strangers in your car is akin to what private cab drivers tend to do for quick cash and is looked upon with disdain. Not to mention, the safety aspect is going to be a main concern for people, especially the womenfolk in the area that this rule is being implemented/tested out in. I am a frequent user of public transport and prefer that method, but in Delhi, riding with strangers or using public transport is absolutely out of the question.

3) Public transportation is not only inadequate, but also lacks coverage especially in the satellite cities which are far-flung and large.

4) The main cause of traffic + pollution in Delhi/NCR are the corporations that are housed in Delhi, Noida, and Gurgaon that employ workforces that would put factories of yore to shame. The first thing that the Government should have looked at implementing (or perhaps they already are), is making it compulsory for companies that employ more than 150 people in a single location to organize and maintain a fleet and schedule of deluxe buses/shuttles and almost incentivize their employees to ride in these. Building parking centers at a place where people can park their cars and then board these buses would also be a welcome addition.

5) Car-riding services such as Uber and Ola need to be encouraged to introduce carpool services in Delhi/NCR (and across India) rather than being threatened consistently and continuously with the consequence of being shut down on flimsy grounds when these services have proved time and again that they are safe, reduce traffic, increase employment, and are loved by consumers wherever they operate. Checks and balances do have to be in place and as long as they comply, they should be encouraged to innovate and experiment, as well as pilot new ways of improving commuters lives in India.

6) Incentive schemes also need to be created for the public to encourage them to be more efficient in their usage of transportation. Cheaper fuel for cars that carpool 5 days out of 7, creating dedicated car-pool lanes, encouraging resident complexes to promote carpooling in their communities by offering them Municipal tax breaks, are just some of the ways in which I think carpooling in general can be promoted rather than an archaic system of an odd/even rule.

Basing the premise of this rule on a simple philanthropic acknowledgement of reducing pollution and pollutants is not going to bring about any positive change when it comes to the regular commuter and the woes that they undergo on a daily basis, that of traffic and time spent on the road. Delhi needs to address this, but the lawmakers’ expectation of getting the public to adapt themselves to a crippled and incomplete solution is perhaps not the right answer. The only solace one can find is that this is a test run and that the Government will learn from this and use this opportunity to make this viable and convenient for the people of the national capital and home to 43.4 million choking lungs.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Lyrics to Night Lovers (1992) by Bappi Lahiri

My Twitter timeline recently had this gem of a song that I had completely forgotten about. The only memory of the song that I had was the song title and the tune that it embodied. It was a good refresher and brightened up my day. When I listened to the song this time, somehow the lyrics piqued my interest more than before. Perhaps because I've become inquisitive about the nonsensical lyrics that Honey Singh trashes out or  perhaps because they were so ridiculous in this day and age of YouTube that my interest was piqued.

Anyway, I tried my best to find the lyrics to this song on Google. Found absolutely no search results for this! Went to various sites that I believed to have contained lyrics to all the possible Hindi songs ever released and didn't find it there either. I realized that this was my "golden" opportunity to do community service for Bappi's legion of fans.

I took it upon myself to listen to the song over and over, and try and figure out the lyrics to the song to the best of my ability. I found this quite a challenge to be very honest, even though I've lived all my life in Calcutta, the heartland of where Bappi's accent comes from, and have heard English words being Bonglicized in various accents through that time. This was quite a daunting task and eventually, after 45 minutes, I was able to come up with some sort of a sensible (ironical, isn't it?) version of the lyrics to the song.

For years to come, fans of Bappi Da will remember me to be the man who revived the Night Lovers song and penned it down (quite literally).

I still need some help in the sentences that have a "(?)" against them since I really couldn't catch the words and this really is a best guess effort.

Night Lovers (1992)

Laavers (Lovers), Night Laavers (Lovers)
When I see a pretty gaarl (girl) moow (move) een (in) the deesco (disco)
I want my fraends (friends) to khaao piyo kheesko (khisko)
Leave aas (us) alone on the dance floor
Groove in the night the hours (?) could be more.

Laavers (Lovers), Night Laavers (Lovers) (3)

Saturday raat ko hota hai bukhaar
Monday subah tak utre nahi yaar
Kiss kare, mees (miss) kare, ban kare kees (kiss) (?)
Yunh sharmaaon na, come here pliss (please)
Laavers (Lovers), Night Laavers (Lovers) (3)

1900 mein go bunanus (bananas)
O mere dilbar, o jaanejaanaas
Rock out the clock in archies or sailors (?)
All you pretty girls and you naughty fellers (fellows)
Laavers (Lovers), Night Laavers (Lovers) (3)

{confused and misplaced Indian classical fusion interlude}

Juhu Beach, Chowpatty, Maaaadh (Madh) Island
Fusion, Rock, Pop, sab ka hai yeh band
Bang eet (it) on the beach, shake eet (it) een (in) the sand
But maamy (mummy) ke saamne, nayver (never) hold hands.
Laavers (Lovers), Night Laavers (Lovers) (3)

Pehle teleephone (telephone) pe pataao
Doston ki caarein mein khoob ghumaao
Ice cream kheelao (khilao), juice bhi peelaao (pilao)
Daddy ko magaar heent (hint) na dilaao
Unko lage tum collayj (college) jaate ho
Paataa (Pata) na chale kahaan se aate ho
Shaart mein, coat mein, yaa ho jeans pant
Premiyon ka rap, let’s all chant
Laavers (Lovers), Night Laavers (Lovers) (3)

{painful trumpet interlude with "Christmassy" cymbals}

Laavers (Lovers), we are Night Laavers (Lovers) (3) 
Eeeeeyyyyaaaahhhhhhh we are Night Laavers (Lovers) (2)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Say what again?

The idea behind this post is not to lambast Flipkart (or anyone else for that matter), but to offer some constructive feedback to let them know that they need to fine-tune their response (and policy if required) so that they can continue doing the absolutely awesome job that they're already doing especially when it comes to some spectacular customer-service. Confused? Read on.

Ever since Flyte launched on Flipkart, I've been using it often not just because I am interested in purchasing music, but am generally enthusiastic about the kind of content that people consume as well as the obscure stuff that keeps showing up on and off. There seems to be a serious, concerted effort by the likes of all the music labels who are digging out all their inlay cards, digitizing all their music, investing in providing accurate metadata/information about songs, and sourcing their long-lost albums.

I have been a Flipkart fan ever since I started using their service to buy my first book on 24th October 2011 (which incidentally was a pre-order): "Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography - Walter Isaacson" and have since used their service to buy various things apart from books with music having caught my fancy.

As a music aficionado and a guy who works at Google, I generally have this OCD about incorrect data being supplied and users being provided incorrect information. On one of my various late-night browsing endeavors I happened to get sucked into the vortex of browsing for songs/albums to purchase and happened to chance upon a rare album called 'Lata and Kishore - Live Concert at Sangit Kala Kendra'.

I was flabbergasted not as much by the fact that I had happened to stumble upon this album, but moreso by the song listing provided. 

Here are some anomalies that I found (circled in red) and my commentary alongside.

1) Album says 'Lata and Kishore' but the album artist is 'Asha Bhosle'

2) Artists listed on the album include everyone except Lata & Kishore.

3) Most of the tracks that mention 'live' are not 'live' (except Main Shair To Nahin by Shailendra Singh).

Before you jump to conclusions about how boring a post this is and how often you see this etc., what I was most surprised (and upset) by was that I mentioned these things as feedback against the album hoping that Flipkart will notice this anomaly and send me an email letting me know that they had removed the album and will correct the metadata and add it back to their list.

Well, I did get an email. But, it was to inform me that my comment was removed due to their 'policies' (working in an MNC I so hate that word).

Here's the email I received from them verbatim. Note the highlighted part that confused me at first and then shocked me. Perhaps the shock was out of the confusion that it caused, but I had such high expectations from Flipkart that it surprised me that they had a policy which would not allow people to let them know that the track listing was incorrect so that they can avoid purchasing this album on the pretext of expecting something and being delivered something absolutely different. 

What do you think? Probably an over-reaction on my part?

Dear yyyyy,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts at for "Lata And Kishore - Live Concert At Sangit Kala Kendra ", dated 6th May 2012.

Thank you for bringing this to our notice and we have forwarded your concern to respective department and upon verification we will do the necessary amendments.

As per our review policy (, we are not allowed to accept the mention of incorrect details on our website and hence your review has been removed we apologise for any in inconvenience caused

(We are not allowed to accept the mention of incorrect details on our website...what?? seriously??)

We would shortly roll-out a customer centric forum welcoming your experiences and feedback on our service and products. We appreciate your patience in this regard.

Please feel free to share your concerns or queries with us at

Looking forward to your product specific reviews on

Yours Sincerely,
Customer Review Team

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Car Drivers Avilable (sic)


Received an email today from 'Raghav Drivers Provider'. Loved points 3,4, and 6. Text below:

we are "Raghav Car Drivers Provider" involved into providing the well trained / Experiened / verified and alcohel free. We provide the car drivers all over gurgaon.

1. Always wear my seat belt and ensure.That my passengers the same.

2. Obey all traffic laws, including speed limits and parking resitritions.

3. Never use a mobile phone while driving, only when parked.,
4. Avoid distractions while driving - like fidding with the sterio, smoking, eating and drinking.

5. Experienced, relible, polite and background verified drivers.

6. familer with rutes.

7. we are working on commision basis.

If u need and ur friends need a car drivers Please refer this E - mail pls call


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Madness in the name of Our Lord - The Indian Way

It's Holi today. For people unfamiliar with the word, it's the festival of colors where people in this country and their genetic protoplasm spread all around the world like a virus, shed their inhibitions and emerge like the Lochness Monster that's been lying dormant throughout the year spraying color and drinking unbelievable amounts of 'bhaang' (Indianized alcohol, that is deemed and believed to be holy, quite conveniently of course).

Here's a more, real description of what this day usually is like for Indians all over the world.

It's funny how we Indians believe that if there is an occasion to be happy about, they need everyone around them irrespective of caste, creed, and sex to be involved in their happiness. Well, 'forced to be involved' is more like it.

Loud music, unruly behavior, drunken stupor, creating a nuisance, disturbing the peace, forcing down one's beliefs and faith down other people's throats - these are the features of any Indian occasion. How and why are these such important elements of celebrating a festival? You're happy - good. Stay happy in your own home. Mess up your own compound, make a noise in your room, play loud music with your earphones on, spray color on yourself, your family, heck...even your dog. The fact that you're happy doesn't warrant you the right to impose your happiness on me.

Naturally, the rowdier elements of society use this opportunity to threaten the innocent passerby & demand money. But then that's an entirely different matter and doesn't even deserve a separate post since that's really their nature and enough has been written and said about it already.

Funnily enough, this is a day when the lower working class of the Indian population forget which religion they believe in and all of them make it a point to be punctual at the households they work in, are at their best behavior, with a smile upon their faces which is otherwise a contorted countenance on most other days.  There is only one factor that brings about this sea-change in their behavior - 'baksheeh' or money. They consider it their right to partake some money that they feel is rightfully theirs on this auspicious occasion. It is the same set of people who in times of national crises or when it's important for people to keep their wits about them, are up in arms citing religious differences as their main grouse and go about killing people in the name of this sudden attachment to their religious selves and texts alike. Hypocrites - all of them.

Every coin has two sides and if you think about it, this is one festival where this madness results in unity of some sort, where people don't distinguish between each other in terms of skin color or just color in general for that matter.

Coming back to the point. If you're happy about something - keep it to yourself. If someone wants to be a part of that happiness, they will come to wherever you are and join you in your reverie. If someone doesn't feel the need to, or the want either to be part of this artificial day-long craziness, leave them be. Stop that loud music, irrational behavior, crazy drunkenness, and make life normal for people who prefer to celebrate their festival in peace and in the comfort of their own homes. In short (and generalizing it a little bit), GROW UP!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

'Twas A Sultry Evening

Ok. So this is not a Mills & Boons-like post at all. In fact, it is something quite different from what the title seems to suggest.

I had arrived in Mumbai the previous night and was absolutely sleep-deprived owing to the IPL finals being played at DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. Mumbaikars will sympathise with me when they understand that I was scheduled to stay at The Trident, Nariman Point. The journey from DYP to TNP was gruesome and tiring to say the least.

However, that was the night before. This night was an entirely different story though. I had finished early from work (purposefully) and had resolved to lose some flab and exercise my slightly bulgy sinews by taking a walk down Marine Drive - The Queen's Necklace (am sure the 'freedom fighters' of the country won't be proud to hear it being called 'that' again).

Therefore, with sleeves rolled up, a strong resolve, an iPod in hand, and earphones in my ears (where else?) I commenced my short, albeit brisk walk from Trident to Pizzeria unfortunately. Yes - that's where I stopped. So much for 'losing flab'.

Anyway, before I walked into the restaurant, I noticed that there was a crowd that was flummoxed and occupied by a certain individual who had either lost his marbles, or was one of the millions of 'strugglers' in the Hindi Film Industry. At this point, I confess to being a drop in the ocean too (that of aspiring actors). Coming back to the topic at hand here, there was this long-haired, lanky, dark-skinned, 17-year old boy who was carrying out an impromptu acting performance in the middle of the pavement.

His method of acting was such:

Each act in this skit of his would last approximately 2 minutes 30 seconds. He would walk 10 steps towards the road, turn around to face the guffawing audience, brush his hair back, and start walking towards the same audience with a swagger at times and sometimes with a drunken stupor. All of a sudden, he would break into a jig, fling his arms up in the air, unzip his shirt, roll up his sleeves, and perform the Taandav. NB: Apologies for the poor quality of the video.

Each act was varied in nature and he pretended as though he actually had a film camera staring at him in the face and the audience all around him were his 'fans' who were lucky to watch the method actor perform in front of their eyes.

The entire show lasted for 1.5 hours and I was riveted to my perch on the raised cemented platform overlooking the sea admiring the zeal and enthusiasm as well as finding humor not in the actor's performance, but more in the reaction of people surrounding him.

There were groups of people who were sitting there in good humour, just trying to appease the young dolt and guffawing away, sometimes ridiculing him, and sometimes, just laughing at his idiocy.

There were people who were out for their evening walks walking around the actor so as to not arouse his desire to acknowledge them, whom he considered were fans approaching him to take his autograph.

There were young boys (of the same age) whose jealousy knew no bounds, whereby they tried to distract and irritate the young actor in a bid to disrupt the performance.

There were young girls who couldn't stop giggling, which further egged on the boy to do more and more, which eventually caused him to get his zipped shirt stuck around his head while he attempted to do a 'Salman Khan bare-all act', and in turn further increased the entertainment value that was being derived out of the performance.

There were people who were scared of what this fellow was capable of doing were he to use these people as props in his act and start beating them filmy-style or asking them questions. These people turned around immediately upon laying eyes on this 'chokhra'.

Soon, vendors too flocked the scene at realizing that a crowd had gathered and they had a better chance of selling their wares here than anywhere else on that street.

There were lovers who couldn't be bothered even if a meteorite landed right in front of them. They were oblivious to everything around them.

There were foreigners who were clearly bemused and amused at the same time on seeing this slumdog boy, who in turn, realized the opportunity of earning some dollars from the 'goras' and waved madly at them each time he saw one of them pause to take a picture or wait for him to do something dramatic, which unfortunately scared the 'goras' out of their wits and forced them to flee.

There were artists who were drawing caricatures of this creature contorting his limbs without reason and started offering them to people as proof of their expertise so that they could earn some money by being called upon to use their skills to massage the ego of a few tourists who were also admiring (or not) the antics of this crowd-gatherer.

There were people who just walked by, without blinking an eye as though it was the most normal thing in the world, with an air of "So what?"

There were men whose egos were as large as their posteriors, who to assert their upper hand over any and every situation, purposely got in the way of this artist and rapped him on the head a couple of times to show that they are in control.

There were teams of policemen who were busy cursing their bosses (for reasons that this picture will depict), catching an innocent bystander to tell him that he was jaywalking, while he was stationary all this while.

I couldn't take a picture/video of all that was going on around me because of a lack of a device, but if you ever want to experience all the facets of India and draw a parallel with things around you by just standing in one place, just turn up on Marine Drive on any sultry evening.

~ H.

PS - I hope I am still alive to read comments and respond to them after this post has been published. A thousand apologies if I have upset anyone (or anything).

Festivals and Pandemics - 2020

My social media feed is awash with people wishing each other and their loved ones with cliched and inane messages such as "from mine/ou...