Friday, April 28, 2006

Opal Mehta : From Chic-lit Genius to Chic-Cheat Fraud

"Churi-bidya mohabidya,
Jodi Na poro dhora"

Translated in English this Bengali proverb means "The Art of Theft is a very very fine art...Only If you don't get caught". And do you know what happens when you get caught. More than half of the blogging world comes crushing you from all sides. It started with the pony-tailed guru's phoney tales. Quizmaster Parnab was squeezed from all corners of the blog. And now the richest and the youngest entrant to this Hall of Shame is Kaavya Vishwanathan. To think of it she had it all : A teen with good looks, education at the best IVY league college, a six figure two book contract, another fat agreement with DreamWorks for the movie rights. But unfortunately just before copies of her book "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life" were to hit the stands a nosy reporter at the Harvard Crimson(Harvard’s student newspaper) discovered instances of similarity with other chic-lit (Wow a new word to my vocab) novels "Sloppy First" and "Second Helpings" both by the same writer Megan McCafferty. The storyline was identical with one of the books and the number of VERY VERY similar passage between these books was more than 40.With so many co-incidental matches very little room was left for doubt that Kaavya's literary genius was a sad case of Ctrl-C + Ctrl-V.

The best part was when questioned this literary celebrity came up with a brilliant defence line that would have made Grisham's lawyers go green with envy. All she said was that "I wasn’t aware of how much I may have internalized Ms. McCafferty’s words". It looked like just before the audience was to clap at the levitating magician the invisible rope snapped and with a heavy thud she fell flat on her face and said "Oh..Oh...the rope should have been stronger".After all who can guess there are suckers who reads books with weird titles like "Sloopy First" and "Second Helpings" other than budding writers trying to internalize the words, only to externalize later inside a new book cover with a new title.

Indeed it was a sad day for people like me who have a huge admiration for the masters of this greatest art form. In my book the finest master was Eduardo de Valfierno. He had got one idiot glass fitter Vincenzo Peruggia to steal Mona Lisa for him from the Louver. While the original was locked up with the idot, the master had sold 6 fake copies of Da Vinci's masterpiece and made a fortune for himself. He lived life to the fullest in the cosiest of the villas at the French Riviera, sailed in the best of yachts, drank the best of the wines and had the company of the best of the women folks. Before his death he called an American reporter Karl Decker and told him of his adventure, which instantly became a hot seller.

During my days at college I too met one master of this trade. For anonymity purpose let's call our hero Bluffmaster. Bluffmaster was the shrewdest artist when it came to cheating in the examination halls. From Harmonium (a rectangular sheet with all the answers written in microscopic handwriting and folded between two fingers) to Diagonal Scales ( a white piece of paper with answers scribbled was cut to the exact dimension of the scale and pasted to the back of the scale) he had excelled at these tiny feats during his kindergarten days. So he left the small tricks for us and went on to bigger things. But like all big players at one point of time he got carried over and one day was caught red handed while copying.

As the vigilant professors would have it, they made him write all the next exams sitting in the first bench right under the invigilator's nose. Those days we were all big worshippers of the concept of division of labour. So this is what we used to do,one guy would read one particular chapter, the other guy another and just one hour before the exams we would have a round table conference in the canteen were all our knowledge were dumped down. Loaded with common sharing we went into fill up the answer sheet with scribing of transferred knowledge. This phenomenon was called Pre-Hall Collection and was a sure shot way to cruise through the semesters. Surprisingly after they made him sit in the first bench our Bluffmaster used to be missing from these life-n-death discussions. He used to come just 10 minutes before the exam halls were opened...used to sit quietly in the next room...walk quietly to the hall...write the exam and quietly go back home. Being the curious cat that I was,I got hold of him on the third day and asked him "Bluffmaster whatz the story man? So far as I know you there is some special trick going on".

He put on his trademark wicked-yet-lovable smile on his face and told me "Sshh..Don't tell anyone" and raised his shoes. And there it was,a paper cut to the exact shape of his shoe-soles containing all the formulas that were needed to wade through the exams. All these days he had come, gone to the other room and stuck those paper...and since couldn't afford to dirty his source of copying so he skipped the Pre-Hall Collection...sat in the exams with his legs crossed and all he needed to do is to turn over his shoes to see the formulas. Even the most vigilant of the professors could not imagine of what lies beneath the shoe.

On the last day of the exams the very same professor who had caught the Bluffmaster was on invigilation duty. From the time we got the question paper the Bluffmaster was all the time peeking into his shirt's pocket. After this happened fourth or fifth time our vigilant professor asked the Bluffmaster to empty his shirt pocket. There was only some blank papers and a few currency notes. Thinking that there might be some invisible ink scribblings on those blank papers and currency notes he confisticated the items and asked him to take back after the exams. Just 5 minutes before the exam ended Bluffmaster went to the teacher’s desk, submitted his answer sheet and took back his items. He went out only to come back minutes after with I-Am-Robbed kind of expression on his face.

The teacher asked him "Is there anything wrong?"

Bluffmaster replied in the politest yet loud enough for others to hear tone,"I don't know how to put it Sir...but it seems there is a 100 rupees note missing from the currency notes I gave you...just came back to check whether I dropped it it is not here....must be lost when you took it from me...can you please check sir...actually I need to pay for my college dues today".

And then leaving the professor dumb-founded with the how-dare-you-say-that anger mixed with the loser’s sadness he walked out of the hall with the same wicked lovable smile of his.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Kiss-Naah : No kissing Please,We Are Indians

In tradition with the recent historic movies made in Bollywood my current post stats with a voice-over narration :

"Saan unissoh-chathis : Bharat ka badsaah George V guzar ne ke baad unka beta Edward VIII se saar pe taaj charah.Paar Bharat paar unke hukumaat chala srif ek hi saal.Ek American talak-suda aurat Wallis ke pyaar main deewana Edward ne apna takht apna bhai Duke of York Prince Edward ke naam kaar diyah.Paar pure British Sultanat main pyar ke liye kimaat chukane wale Edward-Wallis akele nahin the...."

The next scene begins with a sub-title : India, New Delhi 1936, The Office of Morality, British Indian Civil Service.

The camera pans down the ceiling fan rotating at a speed where you can count there goes the 1st blade, 2nd blade, 3rd blade and so on.The office is well decorated with the Union Jack, a map of Indian sub-continent and on the wall backside hangs a oil potrait of His Highness Prince Edward VIII. In the chair behind the desk a grumpy old British officer is seen smoking his cigar. In front of him stands his Babu with a bundle of papers. Behind him a love struck couple staring each other with dreamy eyes is held captive firmly by two pandu hawildaars.

Officer mutters to himself "Oh god, I am missing London badly, Delli is hot as hell...2 more months before my transfer and I am stuck in this shit-hole !"
And then in a nasal British Hindi accent shouts at his babu :"Toh yeh dono khule sadak pain kiss kaar rahe the...Outrageous...only British logo ko openly kiss karne ka permission hain... tum ghulam logo ko nahin.... you need to be punished severely."

A bend-back Babu replies in the politest tone : "Huzur aap mai-baap aap rahete huwe inko saza to zarur milega...paar penal code main aise zurm ke liye kuch likhe nahin hain"

Officer : "You lazy Babu can't you read the goddam penal code properly...there must be something for this"

Babu dumping the whole volume of the penal code on the table : "Huzur aap samajdaar aap khud hi dekh lijiye"

Officer : "Ok...ok...the word of a British officer is as good as the law.Send these buggers to Anadaman...let them live there for 5 years ...after that forget about kissing they won't dare to look at each other." (followed by a cruel laughter)

Babu : "Huzur...Cellular Jail main aur kohi cell khali nahin"

Officer :"Goddamiit why can't the prison authorities plan anything in advance...faansi pain charado indonoh ko."

Babu : "Saarkaar peechle teen saalon se itne logo ko faansi pain charayah gaye ke rassi saare khatam ho gaya.Manchester se agla lot aate aate aur teen mahine.Taab taak agar in-donoh ko bachane ke liye kohi naya andolan suru ho gaya toh ?"

Officer : "Hmmm Babu you got a point here....we should act fast...let's fine these poor bastards heavily. Babu how much do you make a month ?"

Babu : "Saarkaar tankha se 50 rupiah....aur baaki ka hisab karna padega"

Officer : "Ok that's it.Fine them 50 rupees and put it down in writing that from now on any couple found kissing in public will be fined 50 rupees..panchaash rupiyaah get out of my sight while I enjoy my cigar...oh boy I miss London."

That is how the penalty for kissing in public was valued at Rs 50.Ever since then if any duti-bound pandu hawildaars found any Indian couple lip-locked immediately they issued a parcha worth Rs. 50.But during the last 70 years India has seen lot of changes and today with this money you can buy only a cup of coffee. In recent years from Kashmir-to-Kanyakumarika Indian lovers inspired by Imran Hashmi are seen smooching each-other behind the bushes.And when the police comes without the slightest botheration they just flash out a half-patti and that's it.

So the economists at Delhi Police HQ sat down calculated the relative value of Rs 50 from 1936 to 2006 using all the 4 methods available ie. Consumer Purchase Index(CPI),GDP deflactor, Unskilled wage rate, GDP per capita and Relative share of GDP. Finally after much heated debate they came to a figure of Rs 477.50.To this they added 2.5% surcharge and 2% education sess and the penality for showing your affection intimately in public with your lips will now cost you Rs 500.

Next time you kiss in public make sure you have a Rs. 500 note in your wallet. Otherwise be prepared to spend the night in jail whose lavatory conditions is yet to improve before Salman Khan renovates them with marble flooring.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Kanoon ke lambe haath

70% of the Bollywood movies of the 70s ended with the dutiful Iftekar dragging a regretful Ranjit in hand-cuffs and uttering "Kanoon ke haath bade lambe hain...isse banchke kahan jaoge".This was followed by a freezing pane potraying the budh-dhi maa,the separated-and-finally-thank-god-united twins with their heroines holding hands.The background music was always a song, which has to have the title of the film as the words. And then suddenly from no-where would zoom "THE END".Being fed on this diet for long I had always believed that "Kanoon ke lambe haath" was one of those SANDH-KA-GOBAR restricted to the celluloid world. But recent days incidents have given a shake to the very foundation of this belief. It is a shake much much stronger than Rakhi Sawant's hip movements that had my belief shattered into bits and pieces.

Justice in India seems to be on a fast track these days.Whether it is the girl foetus killer doctor or a rapist police hawildar no one is spared by the blind-folded Kanoon ki Devi. Even Bollywood celebrities are not beyond the reach of the ever stretching hands of the law. From my ignorant childhood till my know-it-all present googling days I cannot think of any similar incident like Mumbai Dance Bar Ban where court reversed government's silly idea that robbed people of their livelihood.Even the openly murdered and quickly forgotten Jessica Lal was remembered back and much to the astonishment of used-to-corruption Indian public, the red tapes on the files were re-opened again. In short the Indian justice system is sending strong message that amidst all the gloom that hovers over the Indian society there is still hope in the form of messiahs dressed in black gowns and armed with the wooden hammers.

But strangely the sceptic in me is far from satisfied. Why is it that all of a sudden headlines are bound to carry a justice delivered story each day?After all this is India yaar!!! We are used to seeing ministers come out clean like a SURF-KI-DHULAI even if the evidences of their corruption pile to Himalayan heights.We are used to look for the blacker in front of the movie theatres.... check for minister's quota while buying railway tickets.... run to the local MLA for admitting either ailing parents to the hospital or failing children to the school. Our basic survival depends on how good we are in finding the back doors to anywhere and everywhere. That's how we were brought up...that's how we had been.... till recent times. So what’s the story behind the story after all?

Is it that a new India emerging out of its corrupt past? Nah, I still find it difficult to digest even with the HAJMOLA SAAR. Living in Red Bengal during early years Marxist Dadas had taught us to conceive The State as a machinery consisting of the legislative body, the bureaucracy, the armed forces, the judiciary and the social bodies working in unison to ensure the smooth running of the economics. Unfortunately since the Independence we have had such bitter experiences with nearly all the arms of the state. Be it the local MP who is ready to take a bribe as low as Rs. 10000 or the Sarkaari Babu whose PAAN KA KHARCHA might purchase a paan shop itself or the Daroga-ji from the local police stations whose rate varies depending on what your needs are….if you can pay the price you can buy them all. The only pillar of the state that was left untouched by this distrust was The Judiciary. And India suddenly finding itself among the economic boom needs somebody to clean the Aegean stable or at least give the impression of Cleaning in Progress.So shall we call it the last attempt of the Indian state to convince its people that "Ram-rajya" is not far away?

Let's wait and watch while the lawyers fight it out...maybe "Ram-rajya" is not that far away.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Maine Shikar Kyun Kiya

Indian Justice strikes its thunder at the right spot again.This time it's the naughty boy from Bollywood our own Main-To-Expose-Karunga-Censor-Se-Nahin-Darunga Sallu who gets a five years imprisonment sentence for killing a black buck.Incidentally this case which started from 1998 had a list of 43 witnesses of which 38 came for their testimony in the court.

Since I was following the proceedings of the case with all the attention of the world lemme give you the horse's (err deer's ) mouth account of what really happened inside the Jodhpur court :

Sarkaari wakil started his logic,"Your honor...yeh ekdum paani ke tarah saaf hain ke mulzim Salman Khan ne hi us lachar baad kismaat janwaar ko maara tha. Hamare pass 43 gawah hain jinhone jhadiwon ke peeche apne ankhon se mulzim ko trigger dabate dekha hain."

The defence counsel being from Mumbai and ignorant of rural ways of life argued : "Your honor ,it's a conspiracy against my client ...nahin to jhadiwon ke beech itne saare gao-waalon usi time main kaar kya raha tha ?"

To which his learned friend said : "Mumbai ke alishan banglow main rahene wale mere dost ko sayed yeh malum nahin ke subah subah gaon main log jhadiwon ke peeche kya karte hain"

Defence Counsel grabbing the fact like Dhoni jumping on another Kumble off-break shouted: "I object your honor.....How can people in that postion confirm whether it was my client who killed the buck ?"

Then he calls one witness and asks him to tell the court of where and how he was s(h)itting on that fateful day and concludes ..."Your Honor saaf zahir hain s(h)itting at this posture you cannot see what is happening at 500 ft and that too with so less light of the morning that Rahul Dravid surely would have appealed for a bad light."

Sarkari wakil adjusting his specs gives a U-must-be-Silly look at his counterpart and says
"The usage of organ for excretion does not cause any temporary defect of vision.And as per the lights are concerned.I can prove that by bringing expert evidence of about 100 jhodpi-walas from Mumbai who by the virtue of their daily morning yoga routine by the railway track and not getting hit by a train for a single time have collected sufficient medical data about the non co-relation between these two organs even in the morning dim lights"

Judge-saab remembering the last time he went to Mumbai by train shudders at the thought of going through that ordeal once again and immediately hammers "OBJECTION OVER-RULED."

And after that it was an OPEN-AND-SHUT case which finally saw justice delivered at the death of the BLACK BUCK.

Incidentally the sceptics are asking "How come Salman gets 5 years for killing a deer and only 500 rupees for knocking down man ?"

Well,well my ignorant friends when will you realise that over the years due to Maneka Gandhi and PETA's Let Us Wear Bikinis Instead of Fur Coats protests the Indian justice system came to realise a long time back that footpath-wallahs are of little value when compared to the four legged ones.

On another note only 8 of these 38 witnesses turned hostile (means only 8 agreed to do a full paalti on receipt of a Salman Khan Dare-to-Bare poster autographed by the star himself and a good amount of money).

I wonder can't we have the same situation for Jessica Laal's case too ?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Gracias ...Carol u made me almost famous !!!

Never believed the Sad-old-bong when he said it works .
But now a screenshot from my stats-counter confirms it really works.I guess when your site ends up in the google search you can call yourself a celebrity.

Autographs anyone ?

Monday, April 03, 2006

India Passion Week

As a teen-ager in the sex-starved India me and many from my age-group ( excluding the impotent ones ) had been thrilled at the naughty wind blowing off the mal-maal ka laal dupatta and revealing heroine's half inch deep cleavage.Then were was other forces of nature like the rain pouring on the not too revealing transcluscent saaris changing its optical property to revealing transparent.And not to be left behind in this erosion of the saari the human forces join hands too -- remember the andhi tufaan-waali raat and the gajraati bijli when Gulshan Grover ripped apart the hero's andhi bahen's saari.

But those were the innocent times...before the advent of the compulsory item numbers,MMS clips (do I sound like a dinosaur here)...and now we have the Lick-Me Indian Passion Week and WADROBE MALFUNCTION.

According to copy-paste from Wikipedia :"Wardrobe malfunction is a euphemism used to describe the presumed accidental exposure,because of a defect attributed to an article or articles of clothing, of what would be considered an intimate part or parts of the body of their wearer."

Maatlaab sudh hindi main "Galti se mistake hoke aagar baadan se chunri sarak jaaye,taan-badan ka jhalak buri nazar-waalon ke nazar main aayen to use kahete hain VASTRAGAR ka LOCH yaane ki WADROBE MALFUNCTION".

Just when the moral police in the government ( and I thought Sushma Swaraj belonged to BJP and Congress were the ruling party) decided to stop airing of the "Babu-ji dhire chalo" we immediately found a new way of entertaining ourselves.

So we have the zippers getting zapped, the halter neck top halting before sliding all the way down and OF-COURSE the camera cell-phones going and the very next moment Hutch-Airtel seeing a steep rise both in their MMS traffic and their profits.

It could have been deliberate cheap publicity stunt (never heard of either Bennu Sehgall or Lascelles Symmons before today) or it could have been a genuine accident.
But frankly speaking who cares ? So long we have the raunchy MMS clips and the Item Numbers we probably wouldn't notice even if Gulshan Grover retires.

As a nation when are we going to grow up ?

Update: Thanks to the effort of Maharastra Deputy CM R.R. Patil the Mumbai cops after running the video for umpteenth time have confirmed it was a case of genuine ACCIDENT. Hopefully next thing Mr. Patil will come up is that the suicide of the Vidarbha farmers is an ACCIDENT too.....the only problem nobody has a footage of these un-glamourous ganwar folks.