Deconstructing Pictures Posted on Social Media Part 1


Anushtup loved pictures. For him, they were a soft lens into the past, smoothing down the bumps and the ridges, freezing time down to happy faces and nice places. Memories, he always told himself, were different, they carried the bad as well as the good, though mostly the bad. But pictures, no one ever took pictures of themselves fighting or weeping or throwing stuff or lying down in the dark, looking out through the window. They just didn’t.

Yatrik (my forthcoming book, releasing September 2014)

As myriad Facebook albums  swim through my NewsFeed, sometimes I just want to wade in and say, ” I get it. Your life is perfect”.

For that is why we share pictures don’t we? I mean really? To project an idealization of our life.

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Time Persons Of The Year


I had come to know recently that Arvind Kejriwal recently won an online poll on the official website of Time magazine as the man who most positively influenced the world the last year. Needless to say, I was stunned by the verdict because while I know Kejriwal is awesome, I had no idea that his 49 days of government  had such a great impact on the world at large. (Modi came second). Of course the possibility of manipulation of an online poll, as scientifically well-set up as the one of Time, by fanboys of both Kejriwal and Modi, never occurred to me. And definitely any kind of dishonest manipulation by the supporters of a party that is all about revolutionary honesty seemed to be most impossible.

Anyways, today I came to know, that Kejriwal has won the Time Person of the Year, apparently the second Indian after Mahatma Gandhi to win it. (Original screenshot on the page of a local chapter of AAP, subsequently removed but at time of writing, is given above. This post to the FB page of a local chapter of AAP still has the post at the time of writing. Have taken a screenshot) This was of course beyond awesome, since he would be the only man in history to have won the Person of the Year, only 4 months into the year. Which means Time’s editors have realized that his performance  in 49 days of government was so awe-inspiring that nothing anyone might do in the next 8 months could ever match up to him. After all, who understand time better than Time. As a matter of fact, I believe the exact words used by the editor of Time while evaluating Kejriwal’s portfolio was “Kraantikaari, Bahoot hi Kraantikaari”.

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Deconstructing Kejriwal Part 3


[Deconstructing Kejriwal Part 2]

In the last post, we left the discussion on Kejriwal at a very tantalizing point. [Picture courtesy Hindustan Times]

Even if we can discount Kejriwal’s comically overplayed honesty card, and his  “sab bike hua hai to Ambani and Adnani” (the more Youngistan-friendly  version of “You Maoists”) persecution narrative, and much of his camera-bait antics, can we still consider Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party to be a viable national alternative, at least conceptually (conceptually since they are not likely to get more than 5 to 7 seats), given that they have never presided over deadly riots nor have they been accused of stealing hundreds of crores nor of mismanaging the country for decades?

In other words, are they provably better than those they claim to oppose?

On the subject of corruption, it is very difficult to say what AAP would have done since Kejriwal and his men have never held power. It’s like a man who has never married claiming that he has taken a stance against dowry. The stance will only be validated if he gets married and then does not take money and never again asks for it.

Well okay. Kejriwal and his men did hold power. For, some 49 days.

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Santa Sree


Sreesanth_Prost3832“Thappad se dar naheen lagta sahab, pyar se lagta hai” –Dabangg

Goodbye Santa-Sree. And don’t let the slap or the love hit you on the way out.

Cause the way things look right now, we won’t be seeing you no more. At least for some time.

To be honest, I am going to miss you. That butt-shimmy. That simian snarl. That slow clap-taunt when the batsman hit you all over the park. That “Look at me… I am a preening peacock” pose for the cameras, those rare occasions when you got a wicket. That “swinging bat like a helicopter” run down the pitch, those rare occasions your bat touched the ball. That self-effacing Charlie Sheenish “Do you know who I am? I am the greatest ! I am better than you !!” modesty that we have seen time and again. That unique ability to be hated not only by your opponents but also by your teammates.

Like all geniuses, you had your eccentricities. And like geniuses, you had something that set you aside from the crowd. Yes. I am talking about your singular lack of talent on the cricket field.

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You Want To Buy My Tears?


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?