So-called observations

Five idiots you meet during Eid’s namaz

Yes, I know, it’s Eid, and I shouldn’t be talking ill about anyone, especially a fellow Muslim. But what can I say? I’m weak and pathetic and super annoyed at the following five people who have innate talents of getting on my nerves.

1. The Non-alignment Movement 
There is always that one person who has no clue whatsoever regarding the concept of kataars (rows). While everyone is lining up, trying to align shoulders and feet, he remains in his place oblivious to everything. And his place is either a foot ahead of everyone, or so much behind that the person behind him has to take as much care as possible during ruku so as not to bump his head on the idiot’s bum. Even if by Allah’s grace, he realises that he is out of position, he is too stubborn to admit his fault. He will then try to convince the others to move and start a new kataar, which results in everyone moving out of position and creating utter chaos.

2. The Impatient Patient
I enjoy listening to the khutbah, even if I don’t understand it. There is a strange symmetry among the sentences that leaves me intrigued. Thus, you can imagine my consternation when some moron breaks my concentration by getting up and leaving mid way. I suppose he has a bunch of valid reasons for his actions. Perhaps, he doesn’t know that khutbah is an intrinsic part of the namaz. Maybe, he has to catch a flight. Or maybe, his bowels regularly betray him.

3. The Moral Brigade 
This guy is loud. And he gets louder when he notices anyone talking or leaving during khutbah. He takes it upon himself to do all the reprimanding. He fails to notice that all that distraction he creates makes him just as bad as the previous guy. After he has had his full, he wears a proud look on his face as if to say, “I’m the only one who stands up for what is right.” I want to yell back at him, “Bite me!”

4. The Nauseating Flower
I think there should be a law on how much attar (perfume) you can apply. Yes, I like the smell of attar, and I know its importance too. But isn’t bathing in it a bit over the top? This person must have evolved an alternate breathing system because all that sweet fragrance leaves me suffocated. Moreover, he’ll try to rub some of it on you as a friendly gesture. Of course, you can’t refuse, and so you end up carrying that sick smell to the grave.

5. The Nawabzada
I hate this guy. He lives a few hundred metres from the Idgah. Yet, he never goes there by walking. He has to travel by a car, honking his brains out while doing so. And if people don’t move aside, he will glare at them, muttering something under his breath. He always has a smug look on his face that makes you want to punch him.

P.S. I played the role of the Nawabzada this time. I must admit, it’s quite fun. Giving people the red eye and muttering nonexistent phrases is hilarious. Muhahaha.

I know, I’m terrible.

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Reality

A Joke

It was a normal evening. Old friends caught up. They laughed, made fun of each other, did all kinds of silly stuff like always, and said goodbyes, promising to meet again soon. The night went peacefully. Then morning arrived and brought with it the news that one of them has broken the promise. He felt like leaving for the next station all alone and never even thought about informing the others. He probably thought the others would see the humour. It was another prank after all. Only they lost their sense of humour somehow. It was not a prank. It was reality. It was death. He played the funniest joke of them all, yet nobody laughed.

They thought it was a joke too. They refused to believe the news. They did not care for the evidence. How could such a thing be true? People do not leave just like that. Even as they stood before the morgue; even as they pushed back tears to see that pale face clearly; even as they went with him on his last ride home, they could not believe the world could change so much so quickly.

Yet, it was true. The world had changed – for better or worse. Despite trying as hard as they could, discerning the part that was better from all that was overwhelmingly worse seemed impossible.

Oh, how overwhelming was the worse! Was breathing always so difficult? Eating was never this painful. Moreover, since when did they become so fearful? They were fearful of laughing – even smiling. They were scared of talking. They were even fearful of crying. They were fearful of their own vulnerability.

Hope felt dangerous. Ambition seemed worthless. Love stopped holding any meaning whatsoever. Relationships became chains. Family started to feel like a burden. Faith shook on its foundations.

These young men searched for that feeble ray of light that would show them the purpose of life. Try as they might though, it remained elusive. The black hole of death had sucked it into inexistence. All that remained was darkness.

They realised pain was now a companion; a friend they needed to embrace. Embrace, they did. Hurt became healing. Despair replaced hope. Indifference trod down aspirations. Emotions became symbols exchanged over texts, but never felt in real life. Blocking out became second nature. Suddenly, it seemed easy. This was all they had to do until they too left for their respective journeys.

But the world was not ready for that. Society frowned upon them. They were outcasts. Grief was not supposed to be felt for so long – that too for “just a friend.” Moving on was mainstream. Bury the dead – they said. Bury the past. Burn down the memories. Pull back the tears. Be men, or at least pretend.

Therefore, they started pretending. They put on masks with smiles painted on them. They pretended to laugh at the joke life had played on them. They became skilled actors. They faked emotions. Pretending to love, pretending to become angry, pretending to be men; pretence came subconsciously. Society accepted them again. People invited them for gatherings. Life became normal again.

However, nothing was normal. Nothing would ever be normal, ever again. As they met on another normal evening, they laughed, made fun of each other, did all kinds of silly stuff like always, but never “promised” to meet again. Promise was the joke that made life and death laugh. They understood it. As they parted, they thought that one dead old man (Ahmad Faraz) told the truth when he said:

“Hua hai tujhse bicchadne ke baad ye maaloom
Ki tu nahi tha tere saath ek duniya thi”

So-called poetry

Unsaid

Two shades of jet
Of infinite depth
And blinding blaze
Held my gaze

Slick wet tresses
Left a whiff of lavender, that
Hung in the air
And beckoned me near

Soft, smooth hands
With hints of mehendi
In a silent plea
Extended towards me

I could feel her love
And the grace she showed
Yet all the things I felt
Were left unsaid

For how could I tell
What pain I had
When all I wanted
Was to crap so bad

 

Rants galore

Let’s talk about dogs

Okay, before I start this rant, I would like to state a disclaimer: I like pets.

 I love cats, and have a soft spot for rabbits. However, I hate dogs; but not because I have a hatred for the dog species. It’s just that they scare me (Yes, even the supposedly cute and cuddly ones). In the words of the great Chandler Bing: “They are needy, they are jumpy, and you can’t tell what they are thinking, and that scares me a little bit. “

So, with that out of the way, let’s crack on.

I have a new problem in life. I can’t stand my neighbourhood pet owners. To be precise, I can’t stand dog owners. Notwithstanding my latent hatred for dogs, it is the behaviour of the owners which bugs me. To the untrained eye, dog owners seem like normal people. They do normal people stuff like waking up, brushing their teeth, taking a dump, and cleaning dog poop (Okay, maybe not that normal). Don’t be fooled though! This is just a facade. These are the most annoying people on earth. I’ll list a bunch of idiosyncrasies common to dog owners.

First, when you meet a dog owner, you will notice that small talk only lasts for about two minutes before the topic of conversation turns to the dog. Just to give you an example, this is the conversation I had with my neighbourhood dog owner the other day:

(After two minutes of small talk)

Me: Hey, Mr Dog Owner, can I ask you for a favour?

Mr Dog Owner: Yeah, sure, anything! You see my dog loves to run to me when I get home from work. And he is so sad when I have to leave him alone…

Me: Uhh…

Mr Dog Owner: …I’ve bought him a bone that’s shaped like me. It has a built-in app that can record my voice and…

Me: Umm…

Mr Dog Owner: …For some reason, he hates biryani; even the Hyderabadi biryani. So I feed him toilet paper…

I don’t suppose the conversation went exactly like that, but I think you get the gist. Talk about politics, and he will reply how the other local dogs being basic bitches were conspiring against his dog. Speak about economics, and he will lecture you on Pedigree inflation. Talk about your mother, and he will talk about dog birth videos. The point is that irrespective of the issue being discussed, the dog owner will always find a way to talk about his dog.

Secondly, when the dogs are apprehensive of strangers (Me, in this case), the dog owner will make baby noises and call the dog all sorts of puke-inducing names including baba and beta. Ostensibly, this calms the mongrel down, although I’m yet to see proof. In practice, the crazy canine keeps barking louder and louder till you are unable to hear the owner’s pathetic swooning (Which is not a bad thing).

However, what really gets my goat is the following statement:

Mr Dog Owner: Beta, no. Don’t do this. Uncle is really nice.

Me (thinking): What the F did you call me? Uncle? Did you just tell the effing dog to call me Uncle? Look buddy, I don’t care if the dog is your son or your grandmother’s ex-husband, but don’t you dare club me with the filthy, mangy curs. Hell, I’ll even beat your “human” son if that punk calls me uncle. Have you even looked in the mirror? You are old! I’m not! Exclamation! Avada Kedavra! Exclamation!

Me (actually saying): Oh, yeah. Really nice. Come here, poochie poochie.

Seriously, dog owners don’t understand that it’s not cool to call me or anyone Uncle. The dog probably has an uncle he loves and holds in high regard. He does not need another. By the way, the reason Satan keeps barking is probably that they always tie him up and take him on their stupid, slow walks that don’t do their or his health any good.

Which brings me to my final point: dog owners seem to have nothing else to do than walking their dogs. Of course, that’s not a bad thing. Walking is a great exercise. What’s wrong is that the dogs always seem reluctant to walk. It’s like the owners force the hapless creatures to not enjoy their natural laziness. The sight of a woman trying to play tug of war with her monstrous, killing machine of a dog who only wants to sleep on the footpath is not uncommon. Alternately, I often spot one of my neighbours – who is six feet and weighs about a hundred kilos – dragging his poor little pug on his evening walks. Just the difference in sizes of the two beasts is enough to file a case for animal cruelty. For every single step of my neighbour, the poor dog is forced to take eight tiny, rapid steps to keep up.

Whether these owners are the exceptions to the rule, or represent the larger community, I may never know. What I do know is that they are the last persons you should invite to a party. Trust me, they are not fun. The three examples I have mentioned only scrape the surface of their un-coolness. There are innumerable Facebook posts with close-ups of the dogs with captions on “how they didn’t choose the dog life and the dog life chose them.” There are WhatApp statuses updating every single walk with the dog, and blog posts on the latest dog shampoo in town. The list is endless.

So, dear readers, stay safe and believe in the saying, “Never mind the dog. Beware of owner!”

 Note to Dog Owner: If you are a dog owner and a pedant, you will notice that I used the word “dog” 43 times and the word “owner” 23 times. I also used a misleading title. Go ahead, sue me!

So-called observations

The Great Indian Spit

SCENE #1

Ramesh: Dude, I saw this girl yesterday at the bus stop. You won’t believe how hot she was.

Suresh: Yeah? (Opens a packet of gutkha and stuffs his mouth full)

Ramesh: Yeah, man. She was wearing this tight red top with a picture of Sylvester being eaten by Tweety. Here, I took a picture. (Shows the picture)

Suresh: Blughblughblugh….blughblugh

Ramesh: What?

Suresh: (Raises his hand and spits the red goo out) That’s my sister, you moron!

 

SCENE #2

Ameena: Oh, I love cleaning! I’ve got two maids this time. One cleans the house and the other throws the garbage out.

Chandrika: Really? You have got to let me borrow one. Please! I need someone to throw the garbage out too.

(Both of them walk past a pile of garbage dumped by the roadside)

Ameena: Oh, how disgusting! (Spits)

Chandrika: I know! I hate people who just throw the garbage out. (Spits)

SCENE #3

(My neighbour wakes up at 5:00 AM and starts his daily ritual)

Neighbour: Gagogigagogagarhkhakkhak…thoo (Spits)

All right, as you might have guessed by now, I intend to talk about the “great” Indian habit of spitting.

I don’t know when paan or gutkha were invented, as I haven’t researched that (I do have a life, you know). However, from what I’ve learned from my grandparents, their grandparents used to chew these mouth fresheners with just as much etiquette as we do in the present times. By etiquette, I mean, chewing the vile things and spitting wherever you see a clean surface (whitewashed walls, light coloured clothes, your neighbour’s bald head, etc.).

The satisfaction of spoiling a clean surface can only be surpassed by the bonhomie arising out of spitting in a group. You can literally see the friendship blossoming between two strangers as they merrily paint abstract art with their paan-laden spit on the hospital boundary wall. Sometimes there are so many spit-art-hangouts, that you begin to question if the Broken Windows Theory applies to spitting at all.

Which makes you wonder: where does this love for spitting originate? I believe it develops at an early age. Young children in India often have spitting contests off rooftops where the one who can spit the farthest takes home the honour. Moreover, family members often reinforce their need for spit by acting like the two ladies mentioned above. Even in my case that was true. As a kid, I loved grossing people out by talking about poo and stuff; and I remember some of the older folks back then used to say “Chee” and ran outside to spit. Evidently, if you hear or see something disgusting, you need to spit. The sight of a crowd of people spitting in tribute to the neighbourhood garbage dump is not uncommon. Apparently, the act of spitting expunges the soul of the grossness, leaving behind the innocence of a newborn.

Just a single glimpse of my neighbour and his ilk performing this act can substantiate this argument. The contorted face, the baritone sounds originating from what seems like the stomach, and the retching; all indicate the passion with which the “spitter” delves into his reserves to draw out the blob. And if he happens to have a cold or flu, the volume is amplified with the green phlegm; never mind the orchestra emanating from his lungs. The spat out produce is the personification of the evil inside (Well, not personification, per se; blobification maybe, if that’s even a word).

Sometimes, I think we developed spitting as an art form to be practised and perfected. Maybe, there are some asanas in Yoga related to that. After all, you could argue that what my neighbour does is akin to a form of Pranayama. Perhaps, the focus and concentration required for producing a winning blob brings you closer to your inner peace, leading to Moksha.

Some would say that it’s a sign of protest. I mean, there is nothing better than seeing the Bollywood hero spit on the face of the villain as he tries to snatch the hero’s grandmother’s dentures (Wait, there’s no scene like that. They should totally make one though!). By spitting, we protest the government’s apathy towards sanitation. We demonstrate our willingness to stand up to tyranny. We demonstrate we will spit on the line of fire. We demonstrate that we are capable of defeating the enemy by grossing them out.

Whatever it may be, spitting is an integral part of the Indian culture. It’s one of the few things that unite us among the diversity of regions, religions and languages. I just wish we had a somewhat less saliva-related commonality.

You know, when I think about it. When people will read this post, they’ll spit too.

By the way, did I gross you out?

Now, you know exactly what to do!

So-called poetry

Mornings

Soft rustling feathers
On my window’s bar
Filter the golden threads
Of the scarlet star

A cool spring breeze
Caresses my hair
And echoes in the room
Like an honest prayer

The green velvet carpet
Sparkling with dew
Muffles the gentle steps
Of the hazel doe

These wonders of the morn
Breathe with mild scorn,
“Wake up you moron!”
As I mutter “Blurrghh” and keep snoring on.
So-called poetry

Wisdom

Fourteen merry couples
Lived across the street
Dancing thrice daily
With little white feet
Stomping and stamping
Around the hood
Making sugar from wheat
With a rhythm too good.

Then one cloudy day
The bliss was ended
When Wisdom emerged
With a pointy head, and pretended
To dance like them
And promised to chew
But all it became
Was a pain for the other few