The Same Old Story—India Lose

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How many times has this happened in the recent past where India wins one test and lets the opposition come back in the next? I cannot fathom why this happens—-I would not like to parrot the standard “they lost their intensity, they got complacent” because I do not think that professionals “lose intensity”———–there is too much at stake. My explanation is that we consistently have this mindset that now that we have gone 1 up we should play for a draw. In other words take the minimum amount of risk possible in the next match and things will work out just fine.

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You Want To Buy My Tears?

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What do you do when your brother murdered his pregnant wife? Or your husband hired a hitman to kill you? Or when you were molested as a child by a one-eyed uncle who wore a dress?

You write a book.

In USA this is one thing that has never ceased to amaze me. The commodization of grief. I understand why the press does it— it makes good dramatic TV. What I don’t understand is why people who have been hurt are so eager to make public spectacles of their grief in the US media.

For some it’s all about making a quick buck. That’s fine. Scott Peterson murdered his wife and is now gonna hang for it. Bad luck for him. Not so for his half-sister. She barely knew him before this incident but then the golden goose alighted at her home: Mr Peterson came to stay with after bumping off his wife.

Bingo ! Out came the ghost-written book “Thirty three reasons why my brother, Scott Peterson, is guilty” which immediately became a national bestseller.

I don’t grudge her for making money out of the misery of a murderer. What I found rather distasteful was the false grief she tomtommed in Oprah for her brother and his wife—- while and all the time cleverly promoting her book. And there prompting her along was the person who brought this misery-mongering into the media domain———Oprah.

Not to be outdone, Amber Fry, Scott Peterson’s mistress for whom the murder was done also came out with her own book……………

And now with the Terri Schiavo making headlines I keep on wondering who are the people who are gonna write books? It can’t be Terri Schiavo because when all this will be over and done she will be dead.

Ok in case you are asking who Terri Schiavo is—-she is a woman in a Florida hospital who has been in a permanent vegetative state for 15 years. Now her husband, who claims that Ms Schiavo told her she wants to die, wants her feeding tube withdrawn so that she may die. Ms Schiavo’s parents want to save her. Right now the husband is winning and Ms Schiavo is in the 7th day of a starvation to death.

I see on TV Terri Schiavo’s husband. A person who has been accused by multiple persons of physcially abusing his wife, who has had affairs and kids while his wife lay in hospital, shedding tears and saying that he wants Terri to die because he loves her so much and he cant bear to see her pain. And by the way he is the only person to whom Terri said she wants to die (my wife says this often to me incidentally) and this entire thing of withdrawing the feeding tube rests on the testimony of this man who stands to gain from her death.

He has already gained when he won 300,000 dollars as a malpractice award for being deprived of his wife’s company. This money he gainfully used for dalliances and kids. Now it is crystal clear he wants to get rid of his wife and the State is letting him do so in a case that to me makes no sense. But that’s not the point

The point is that when asked by a TV reporter how he felt after having been made a villain of by the predominantly negative media coverage he has been getting, the man said that he is dying a thousand deaths inside for being crucified for the love he feels for his wife (the first wife that is—he now has a fiance) and that now the time is not right to say what exactly he feels but he shall definitely make his point known.

I smell a big book deal here.

In the same vein when Terri’s brother, who has been campaigning manfully to get her tube back on, was asked about his pain, he replied his first priority is to get to see Teri live but once that is done he will sit down, collect his thoughts and express his feelings. Or in other words…

Write a book !

These I understand. Everyone wants to make money when the opportunity comes. And grief sells. Bigtime.

What totally confounded me was an item a TV channel ran after 9/11. One of the unfortunate people who had been trapped inside the Twin Towers sent a voice message (which his family later got) on their answering machine in which he basically says goodbye to them.

I was intensely moved by the story——–but I also wondered why did the family give the TV channel these tapes? Werent the last words of a father and a husband something private meant for his wife and daughter ONLY? Why were his wife and daughter on TV allowing themselves to be subject to the questions of an intrusive reporter who kept on asking them “How they felt knowing that Mr so-and-so would never come back?” I understand the reporter was looking to increase the channel’s TRPs by playing on the grief of this bereavement but why was the family letting their genuine grief be made a public spectacle of ?

Sharing relieves grief. Accepted. But does it really help to do it in this very public, voyeuristic fashion?

Shabd—the review

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You love someone. Can you make him/ her do something he/she does not really want to? And can you predict everything that he/she will do in such a situation? What if his/her actions deviate from what you thought he/she would do? Does that mean you never knew him/her in the first place?

“Shabd” is mindblowing. It’s very unlike your normal Hindi movie—stylistically and very definitely thematically. So much so that I wonder how this movie ever got made——this was fated to be a commercial dud from the get-go. Indian audiences, with all due acknowledgement to its newly-discovered discernment, will never appreciate this movie. Far less understand it.

Sanjay Dutt is a Booker prize (a bit of overkill here but hey what the hell) winning author suffering from a serious case of writer’s block. His last novel had been critically panned for being neither reality nor fantasy—–in fact it was such a miserable failure that his publishers are refusing to touch his next book with a barge pole.

So he decides to ask his wife Aishwarya Rai to have an affair with an younger man so that he can write that story as his next novel.

This last line is present, with minor variations, in all the reviews of the movie I have read on the Net.

Which just goes to show—-the wise reviewers didn’t “get” the movie—–far less the hoi polloi.

Sanjay Dutt (Shaukat) and Aishwarya Rai (Antara) are totally and passionately in love with each other. Shaukat has taken the criticism of his last book—that he is not touch with reality–to heart. He believes he knows his wife inside-out, he is confident that he exerts total power over her emotionally. And he wants to test that knowledge—-which is why when an young professor (Zayed Khan) at Antara’s college takes more than a passing interest in her, Shaukat encourages her to be friends with him (something that Antara does not initially like). But this young man’s compliments and his “childishness” help Antara recapture a part of herself that marriage had taken away—and she , in turn, feels attracted towards this young man. But not in the way Shaukat thinks she is.

Shuakat’s novel is all about predicting his wife’s actions and his contentment is visible when initially her actions match his words—-he is convinced that he is still in touch with reality—as he once announces triumphantly “Noone knows the human mind better than Shaukat”.

But like all men who think they understand women, Shaukat is wrong.

Sanjay Dutt, as the author losing touch with reality, is simply marvellous. The versatility of this man is amazing and he essays a very difficult role with unbelievable aplomb. For those who think Sanju Baba’s forte is as a tough-talking don brandishing guns—–please see “Shabd”. This is as sensitive a portrayal of a man you are likely to see. Aishwarya Rai looks ravishing and does a competent job. Zayed Khan is an irritating presence—he really should stop imitating Shahrukh Khan—-it’s just not working.

The movie looks beautiful—a bit too feminine in many ways but this was a female director and the movie was a reflection of a typically female sense of aesthetics. Which was not the problem. The problem was that the director overdid many of the effects and the “Beautiful Mind” inspired stuff (you will know it when you see it) got a trifling boring and overwrought as the movie went on.

Be warned, Shabd is a pretty slow moving movie about relationships—-not my favorite genre of movies. Despite that, I could not take my eyes off the screen—so riveted was I by the plot.

A final word to the producers. Please do not try to cheat the audience. Shabd was marketed as a sleaze-fest on the lines of any movie with Payal Rohatgi, Mallika Sherawat, Meghna Naidu…………..it is anything but. This movie really had no chance of ever working with an Indian audience due to its somewhat abstract theme…….however things were made even worse by dishonest marketing which brought in the wrong kinds of crowd for a movie that was as deeply moving, thought-provoking and multi-hued as Shabd.

Murderers Walk

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Murderers walk. They walk free. 329 people’s lives have been snuffed out, families devastated…..and the perpetrators just walk… free. Vancouver businessman Ripudaman Singh Malik (59), and Kamloops mill worker Ajaib Singh Bagri (55) were acquitted of all charges for the Kanishka bombing , the most devastating terrorist attack before 9/11, by a Canadian court in a shocking judgment. At a time when the Western world is crying themselves hoarse about the need to distinguish terrorists from criminals in terms of jurisprudence, the Canadian justice system bizarrely absolves of all guilt , two terrorists against whom the case was rock-solid. Well seemingly solid. I wonder whether this would have been the verdict if this was a plane full of Europeans. I wonder.

What I found interesting was the reaction of a section of Sikhs in India who rejoiced…..because seemingly this verdict has absolved the Sikhs from the label of terrorists. Firstly even if justice has been done and these lowlifes sent to their maker (ok I know Canada does not have death sentence), I fail to understand how that would reflect negatively on the Sikh community as a whole ? And the flip question: why their release is a matter of celebration for Sikhs ? I guess this is a manifestation of the OJ syndrome when African-Americans overwhelmingly supported OJ despite OJ Simpson’s obvious guilt —–turning a simple murder trial into an issue of race.

The liberals have been quick to jump to the defense of the murderers—-since they have been absolved by a court of law, they are innocent and deserve to be treated as such.

Well ok then ….By that same logic how is Narendra Modi a murderer?—–he is also blameless from the point of view of the law. Yet the same liberals, who love to have it both ways, take great pleasure in painting him as a Hitler avatar and their latest victory is getting the US to reject Modi’s visa application.

I consider Narendra Modi a murderer too. A modern-day Nero. A madman. But he did not preside over a genocide—in a previous post I have argued this point. There are far worse who are welcomed in US with open arms, (Khaleda Zia who presides over anti-Hindu pogroms as an example)——and yet thanks to the strange collusion between Islamic organizations and the liberal left, the US decides to make huge hue and cry ONLY over Narendra Modi. Which actually enhances Modi’s image as a persecuted Hindu leader representing Hindu pride under attack from Muslims and pseudo-secularists. God damn it, please let him attend the meeting of the Patel brothers—-don’t enhance his image by actually noticing him.

And while I write, a murderer heads home (to visit his mother and be cheered by his community).

As the “Pink” song goes:

You make me sick.

Shakti Chalisa

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The hypocrisy of Bollywood. Unless you have been living under a rock or simply have a real “life” (unlike me), you would know that one of the biggest stars in the Hindi movie firmament has been caught, with his pants down, in a sting operation where he was “allegedly” shown asking a starlet for certain “acts” in exchange for some career advancement.

The actor, in question, is the suave, polished, style-icon Shakti Kapoor who has, throughout his long and illustrious career, straddled the Indian screen like a colossus. For those who are not familiar with Shakti Kapoor’s “body” of work, he first burst onto celluloid as the stammering “Atak Gya Atak Gya” co-star of Amitabh Bachchan in “Satte Pe Satta”. From that time on, he went from strength to strength, establishing himself as one of Bollywood’s most cerebral actors dripping class in roles as diverse as Nandoo Tumhara Bandoo in Raja-babu (where his chaddi-nara antics matched Sharon Stone’s leg-play in Basic Instinct– the picture above with Govinda and Karishma is from that movie) , the village bumpkin in Tohfaa whose “Aooooooo” wolf-whistle sent female hearts a-flutter, and the perverted villain in Chalbaaz whose “Lolitaaaaaaaaa” and “Balllllma” was the last word in terror.

After a spectacular career in filmdom, Shakti Kapoor devoted himself to the service of the nation as a Congress party-worker campaigning ceaselessly for the party’s success in the elections. (to the left is a picture of him after joining the Congress party). He quickly made his mark as an as astute political observer and a champion of woman’s rights when he made the following statement:”

” I have raped only once or twice in my movies. Then too I kept laughing. It is so funny to rape a girl”.

However, there has been the odd controversy and sour moment in his otherwise glittering career—like the time he left an entire Airbus load of passengers standing for half-an-hour with his tantrums or the time he was beaten up in Kidderpore when he had Biriyani and did not pay for it—but as they say what’s the moon without its blemishes?

Which brings me, at last, to the monstrosity which has sought to besmirch his career. A female reporter, Tehelka style, had been asking Shakti-ji for a role and Shakti Kapoor, who has always promoted fresh raw virginal talent, asked to meet her in a hotel room. Nothing sleazy there. What transpired after that is “Rashomon-like’—–one side of it is the girl’s story (also captured on videotape) and the other side is Shakti Kapoor’s story.

Transcripts

According to the girl and the videotape, Shakti Kapoor came onto her with the patented line:

‘If you are with Shakti Kapoor, no-one can touch you… if you are tired I will give you a massage.”

and

“Aaooo sharmao mat” (Don’t feel shy)

And then asked her for sex in exchange for a “break”. He also accused Subhash Ghai, Yash Chopra and Yash Johar of similar “couch tests” and Aishwarya Rai, Rani Mukherjee and Priety Zinta of having slept with these people.

According to Shakti Kapoor, (this story sounds far more plausible) this girl had been SMS-ing him for months, threatening suicide if he didnt meet her (after this which gentleman could refuse?—if she had died, the same press would have come double hard after Shakti Kapoor—ok maybe the wrong phrase in this context) and then going to the hotel room, talking dirty to the great man, offering him alcohol (or as Michael Jackson calls it “Jesus Juice“) , pouring drinks on herself (ala “Wild Things”) and in short, seducing him to such an extent that only Ricky Martin and Keanu Reeves could have controlled themselves. Of course, none of that is in the tape—the bastards had edited all of it out.

Conspiracy here? Of course. Firstly as Mr Kapoor pointed out if he had gone to that room looking for sex, why did he have a briefcase? Did Narasimha Rao go looking for sex when he had the briefcase with him ? No. Same with Shakti Kapoor. Secondly, let’s look at the person who perpetrated the sting operation. Suhaib Ilyasi, the man behind “India’s Most Wanted, has been suspected of murdering his own wife and is no saint himself. Thirdly, BJP (which has been on the receiving end of a few sting operations themselves and who claim that the Tehelka videos are “doctored”) have gone to town with surprising alacrity which suggests there is more here than meets the eye. Fourthly, the producers and actresses named by him as having been predators and prey have condemned him brutally (these people were his best friends the other day) and have decided to get him banned from the actor’s guild. (Why? For using his constitution-given right of free speech?)

Well why do I think that this is all made-up? Firstly Shakti Kapoor says so and I think he is one of the most honest, upfront men in the industry. Secondly, this has already happened before. Yes sirrie bob ! MTV Bakra set him up before with an identical gag. This is what happened, in the great man’s own words.

“I was doing a photo-shoot at Rakesh Shreshta’s studio. Sandeep of Bombay Times called and said that he wanted to interview me. I asked him to come to Shreshta’s studio but he said that he had a girl who also wanted to interview me for an Irish paper. So we fixed up the meeting at Lokhandwala’s Barista outlet.”

Kapoor says that a ‘firang’ girl (in a backless outfit, say our sources) started interviewing him. “I told her I had no inhibitions talking about sex. The interview went off well. Finally I realized that they had made a fool of me, but by then I had completed the interview,” he offered.

“But I am upset. I have used a lot of slang words and gone a bit over the top in the interview. I don’t want them to carry it in toto. If they do that, I will sue them for Rs 20 crore. I did not sign the ‘No Objection’ certificate. The whole joke is in bad taste. It’s sic actually. I have a family. My image is at stake if I speak such language on camera,” he added

Mr Kapoor refused to sign the No-objection certificate and so this show was never aired. But the point is—-if this has happened once (and not so long ago), how big an idiot would Shakti Kapoor have to be in order to fall into the same trap twice? Quoting a line from a Shakti character: “Summari Main Kummari, Kabaddi Khele Kabaddi”

Thirdly, why the hell would he need to “Boom Boom Boom Boom, I want you in my room” a woman, (who he advised to lose weight) when he has hot women throwing themselves at him for his attention ? Please look at the picture below taken from an “item number” search contest of which the great man himself was the judge.

Here, Shakti Kapoor is brutally honest and up-front (a sharp contrast from the hypocritical Subhas Ghai and Yash Chopra). A few samples:

By Rohini’s side was her mother, who wasn’t the least bit fazed when Shakti Kapoor scooped up her daughter’s legs and plonked them on his for a photo shoot. “We have to be open-minded these days,” she sighed. …………
Looking like his casting dream had just come true, Shakti Kapoor stretched back on the couch and drawled: “A bomb must ooze sex. I’m looking for t*** and a**.”

Raj Kapoor drenched Mandakini under a waterfall and captured it with leering camera angles and passed it off as “worshipping the female form”—a whole lot of tommyrot. He gets the Dadasaheb Phalke. Shakti Kapoor, on the other hand, tells it like it is. And he gets the scorn of the Mahila-mandals and the BJP. Justice anyone?

However, even in this hour of need, Shakti Kapoor’s wife has stood beside him. Which goes to show how loving and nurturing their marriage is—something that Mr Ilyasi, a wife-murderer, would not even understand.

At this difficult time, I am happy that my wife is by my side. She treats me as her only God on this earth. She is a typical Hindu woman who is very religious. She sees me as her Pati Parmeshwar and the video has done nothing to change that image. All this false and distorted exposure has not shaken her confidence in me one bit. In fact more than me, it is my wife who has jumped to my defence. If she has her way, she will go up to Mr Illiyasi and give him a good thrashing.

Way to go tigress……….Hillary Clinton’s blessings are upon thee. In Bill’s case too, the Monica thing was a right-wing-conspiracy—over here it’s the BJP’s !

In conclusion, what this incident has done is to ruin the trust producers/directors/actors should have on aspiring actresses. Things have become so bad that I am sure that the next time an aspiring actress screen tests for Shakti Kapoor in a hotel, he would have to insist she totally disrobes. Just to see that she does not have a recording instrument planted on her.

Disgrace at Mohali

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One more superstar has been made. Yes made by India. One more cricketer dragged from obscurity into eternity by the sheer incompetence of the Indian cricketing machine. A Test we should have won in a canter has been saved. And Pakistan, paradoxically, after being outplayed for 4 days of a 5 day Test match have emerged as moral victors.

This is not the first time. Jimmy Adams padded his way to glory against India in the 90s and vanished into oblivion subsequently. Chandrapaul has not been able to consistently reproduce the form he shows, time and again, against India. Andy Flower deflowered the Indian spin machine Test after Test on Indian soil in Bradmanesque fashion and snatched respectable draws for Zimbabwe—-performances he never reproduced subsequently against other countries. One common thing between all these “made in India” labels—-all left-handers. Just to show we don’t discriminate add to this list a few right handers—Manzoor Elahi, Ricardo Powell….I can go on.

We have been equally profligate with bowlers—R.Price from Zimbabwe, Ronnie Irani and Pat Pocock, M. Whitney from Australia, Adeem Hafeez from Pakistan to name a few. It’s ok not to recognize these names—-they have been consigned to cricketing obscurity ever since their moment in the sunshine against us.

But our inability to win this Test is not just due to Kamran Akmal’s innings alone. It is due to the sheer bloody minded pursuance of personal goals by Sachin Tendulkar and Ganguly-Laxman’s inexplicable go-slow at a time when quick scoring should have been the order of the day. True that the Pakistanis bowled a negative line but that never prevents the Australians from scoring at a brisk pace. Sehwag said in an interview that it was the Indian thinktank’s decision to go slow—-considering the position India was in, I cannot fathom what could have been the rationale behind the pedestrian rate of scoring. It just did not make cricketing sense.

With half a day lost due to rain, didn’t it make sense for India to show some urgency? Wouldn’t sending Pathan and Balaji up the batting order have made some sense with Ganguly in “let-me-answer-my-critics-with-a-big-innings” mode and Sachin in “let’s-get-my-35th-century-team-goes-to-hell” mood? In passing what the hell has happened to Sachin ? Dravid’s declaring when Sachin was 194 apparently didn’t send the message to Sachin—–that there is no “I” in the word team.

I just cant believe India did this–surrender the initiative when we had everything going for us. The monstrosity of the folly has yet to sink in. I am flabbergasted, disappointed and angry.

Is this news?

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Male Gaze: where is he staring at ?

The basic reasons why men find certain women more attractive than others, are just as enigmatic as before. But today, the scope of what a man looks at in a woman has expanded considerably, finds Priya Pathiyan

Here is the link. This is on the front page of India’s largest circulation daily: Times of India. I ask you: is this news? Come on now, everyone knows what men specifically check out when they ogle a lady…..and this article, albeit in a mock researchy fashion, regurgitates what we all know. In that sense, there is nothing new to be learnt. Of course, one can argue that the topic itself is unseemly and not deserving of front page attention. But my main beef is that it is just a waste of time reading something I knew ever since my hormones kicked in.

But it could have been news if it reported that according to a latest “study” (whoever does these studies anyways) , men had started looking at a woman’s intelligence, poise and moral fiber before they focus their pin-hole camera on their specific “research interest”.

Talking about studies here is one which says that married men in India are the most unfaithful among all nations of the world ! As a member of this villified group, I want to know what the hell were their research methods—-how did they get to know who was cheating , what is the definition of “cheating” (especially in a cyber world), and how did they conduct this so-called global survey? According to the article published in Hindustan Times, this survey was done by a dating service called cupidbay which I found to be a sleazy mail-order bride kinda site which had no mention of this survey anywhere on the website. The relationship expert Francis Deacon quoted in the article also didn’t turn up on a Google search.

Again yellow journalism at its worst

Not that I am complaining about similarly scholarly articles in TOI and HT on “Wife Swapping in Delhi” or the “Call Girl Market in Bangalore” but this one simply crosses the line.

Note to self: I have to keep my wife from getting to read the above article.

Oh Calcutta

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So what was the Indian presence this year at the Oscars? We didn’t get nominated for best foreign film, Ash didn’t show up to present an award, “Little Terrorist” lost out in the short film category————–a washout like every other year….

But no wait—–we did pick up a big award….and it needed the sheer power of Kolkata’s brand equity as the dirtiest, the most hellish city in the world to pull it off. “Born Into Brothels” —a story about children born into brothels in Kolkata won Best Documentary trumping “Supersize Me”, a delightful take on America’s obsession with fast food, (which shows that malnutrition always wins over obesity when it comes to Oscars) must be one of the biggest successes of the Kolkata name.

So there it is folks—-you want an Oscar you come to Kolkata. Besides the brothels (when did Kolkata become famous for them anyways?) we have colonies of lepers, beggars, eunuchs and many other forms of low-life waiting eagerly to be made into Oscar-winning documentaries or to be salvaged for a Nobel Peace Prize and a beatification.

Of course you can still be a Roland Joffe who gets the formula dead right in “City of Joy” but makes a poor film and misses an Oscar. Yes “City of Joy” had everything going for it—-trams full of lepers, lecherous Indians, dirt , squalor and all the other little things that makes Kolkata special.

And the showstopper of them all….what you MUST have in your movie to get an Oscar/critical acclaim, the fundamental axiom on which everything stands—-it’s only the white man who cares for the poor souls. In City of Joy, the saviors are this band of white social workers with whom Patrick Swayze, the dirty-dancing Father Teresa, makes common cause with.

One of the most telling lines in the City of Joy comes when one of the “Indian” protagonists tell our white knight——-”Who are you to interfere in our country? These are our people and we can do with them as we like——-how is it your business?”

An amazing parallel with the line above and the pronouncements of the makers of “Born Into Brothels.” can be found in the article linked above to the Anandabazar Patrika. (Bengali) In this we learn that the makers of “Born Into Brothels” refused to give interviews to the Indian press ( we are free to exploit you but not talk to you) because “the Indian press and the common people of India would harm the subjects of the movie”.

So here’s the deal. Not only are we wickedly poor, we are too uncivilized to even recognize that and alleviate our plight. And that we are our own worst enemy.

Who sold this myth about Calcutta ? Who made money out of this image ? Did the makers of “Born Into Brothels” ? Nope.

It is Mother Teresa—-the single biggest reason why Calcutta will always be the city of lepers. It’s the Missionaries of Charity who have portrayed Calcutta in this false negative light to further their agenda and to brighten their halos at the city’s expense. There is no denying the work that Mother Teresa did but her motivations were far from saintly. And the media muscle that she exerted due to her links with the Vatican made sure that the good work that Indian charities did was never highlighted. Which was instrumental in perpetuating the myth that she is the ONLY God-sent savior of the souls trapped in the hell that is Calcutta.

The upshot of all this is that we as Calcuttans/Kolkatans are doomed to be citizens of a city that is synonymous with death, disease and depredation all around the world. And we need kindly foreign men and women to be saved from ourselves.

What’s Washington like? Well its like Calcutta, surrounded by beggars. The only difference is the beggars in Washington wear 1500 dollar suits and they don’t say please or thank you.

–Traffic

I rest my case.