Wednesday 14 October 2015

Short Story- Middle Class

There is a thin line between politeness and stupidity. Mr. Gupta never saw it. He wore his pants the old-fashioned way and rode an old Vespa scooter. He made way for perfect strangers and always used the indicator on turns. If he were to get a Modi-style suit stitched, his would read 'middle class' in fine print all over.

He was a regular government office clerk. At 11 am sharp, he would reach office to do absolutely nothing. His life was divided in naps. The nap right before lunch was the main event of the day. The snores would reach across the hall and the agents walking in the gallery would smile to each other taking pride in Guptaji's deep slumber for no reason.

Mrs. Gupta hated Mr. Gupta. Not because of his potbelly or his stupid moustache or his safari suit or his hawai chappals or his holed vest or his... well, you get the drift. Mrs. Gupta hated him because it was the thing to do. Whenever someone smiles too much, or is too docile, it is his near and dear ones' duty to bully him, hate him and pick on him. The law is universal. You can get away with a stupid moustache if you are a jackass. Look at Hitler. You cannot, however, if you wake up early to answer the doorbell for the milkman everyday. Look at Guptaji and his stupid moustache.

So, one day Guptaji was just using the service lane on a busy road in his city. He was looking for a place to park his scooter and go buy the vegetables because that's what Guptajis do after office. No Guptaji wants to return home empty handed to a wife who has been asking for Lauki for two weeks. So, like a good Guptaji, he was on his way to perform his duty after being pestered several times.

He saw a parking spot to his left and took a sharp turn. For the first time in his life, he forgot to use the indicator mostly because it was a one way and he was not expecting a pedestrian to come from the opposite side. A started female of 20 something was looking at him with angry eyes. A 40 something Guptaji had scared a 20 something female and her iPhone had slipped from her hands. She picked up, the screen hadn't cracked because of the revolutionary gorilla glass cover and metallic case about which Guptaji had read in today's Dainik Jaagran while munching Sev-bhujiya and sipping tea. Guptaji had knocked over his Nokia 1100 while reaching for some bhujia and it had fallen from the balcony onto his scooter. The scooter still had a dent.

Anyway, the girl shouted at him.

'Can't you see, idiot?' Dekh ke nahi chala sakte uncle?
Only in India can we call a person uncle and an idiot in the same breath.

Guptaji was relaxed. He was used to shouting. Years of practice from Mrs. Gupta had prepared him for this moment. Suddenly a man stepped out of a SUV and held Guptaji by the collar. A 20 something man was about to beat a 40 something Guptaji, Guptaji simpered and apologised profusely. In his mind, he imagined the man to be a Gujjar owning farms in Haryana and owning real estate business in Noida. Guptaji took pride in being service class and docile and had already planned on calling this guy some filthy names over a cup of tea and samosas with Shrivastavaji.

But for now, the tragedy had to be averted, so Guptaji apologised like one apologises to a criminal. Not out of respect but out of fear. The man took his wife/ girlfriend/ Guptaji-thinks-she-was-a-whore-anyway and sped away after slightly roughing up Guptaji.

Guptaji angrily picked up his glasses from the road and looked at the speeding SUV. The rear windshield of the SUV read in large bold letters- 'GUPTA'S'

Written by - Abhyudaya Shrivastava
All rights reserved.

Friday 9 October 2015

Hindus, Muslims and their Stuff

The purpose of this article is not to offend anyone. The main message is to respect all religions and not let minor differences divide us. I have cautiously kept the humour subtle and tried not to offend the sensibilities. Still, I request you to kindly not take it wrongly. In case you have specific grievances, do let me know.


A lamb hopped across the farm and posed a serious question to his mother, 'Mother, why are we sacrificed on Bakrid?' The wise goat smiled and said, 'Because son, we are offered to Allah.'

'But why not the cow', the lamb shrugged.

A calf ruminating in the yard, tied to a nail, raised her lazy head to give the lamb a look of annoyance. Embarrassed, the goat explained to her son, 'Cows are Hindus, my dear.'

'This is unfair. When did this happen? Who decided which religion takes which animal? What if I want to be a pious animal in Hinduism? Where is my choice?' The lamb threw a tirade of questions along his mother's way.

The wise goat smiled. She sighed, 'I wish your father was alive to answer your innocent questions.'

'So what happened to him?' The lamb was curious.

'Well, he was sacrificed along with 2 lakh other animals in Gadhimai festival in Nepal.' The goat lamented.

'Wait, isn't that a Hindu festival?' The lamb was perplexed.

The goat was silent.

The lamb was angry. 'I want to be a cow!' He stomped his feet.

'India: The Largest Exporter of Beef', the newspaper headline read. A cow munched on the newspaper near a garbage bin as the lamb raised a ruckus in the farm.


A kid looked through the glass window of a moving car and asked his Dad, 'Daddy, aren't these coconut trees?'

'Yes', The father was not ready for the barrage of question that he knew were to follow.

'We offer coconuts in temples, right?' The six year old was just warming up.

'Yup', The father silently lamented bringing the chatty kid to the long road trip.

'Why don't be offer dates? The date palm looks so similar to the coconut tree?' The kid was on a roll.

'Ahmed uncle had brought dates when he returned from his Dubai trip. Are dates Muslim and Coconuts Hindu?' The kid went on.

The father smiled.


'They won't eat us, so they are our friends, right?' A piglet squealed as he posed philosophical questions to his father.

'Technically yes, but they think we are impure or something.' shrugged the Papa Pig rolling in mud.

'But Hindus are the opposites of Muslims, right?' The piglet wasn't done.

Papa pig wanted to disagree but being the sloth that he was, he just nodded like a politician allowing the partition of India-Pakistan.

'So, they must love our meat, those Hindus, right?' Now the piglet was just getting illogical.

Papa pig sighed, 'No, it doesn't work that way. Most strict Hindus are supposed to be vegetarians.'

'But we still get eaten, alcohol gets consumed, cigarettes get smoked and cows also get eaten.' If the religious laws are so sacrosanct, how are so many people breaking them so easily?' The piglet squealed harder.

'Because there can be good Hindus and bad Hindus, good Muslims and bad Muslims.' Papa pig went on, 'The bad ones in the religion go against the tenets of their faith.'

'But if humans can be bad or good, why aren't there any bad cows or good pigs?' The piglet mumbled.

Papa pig smiled.



Wednesday 7 October 2015

Murphy's Law of Apps

You take out your phone and fire up the taxi service app because you need to get somewhere real quick. The app shows the notification: ‘Kindly update the app to continue using Uber.’ Bam! You have been struck by the Murphy’s law of apps. The probability of this notification appearing is directly proportional to the urgency of the situation.

Please notice that this situation can’t be avoided with 3G or 4G internet. If you manage to update your app in two minutes, your login will not work. The OTP will never arrive so, don’t even try.
There are many other such examples of the law in the app world: You are on Tinder and have decided to swipe right only and only when you really feel like it. You find no matches so, you let yourself go. You swipe every moving thing right. You rightswipe so much that your phone feels molested. Then you find your dream girl, sitting right at your screen: smiling, reading your favourite book, listing your favourite movie as her favourite movie. You try to swipe her right and Bam! You are out of likes. Murphy’s law!

You order food by Foodpanda at 10:45 pm. You wear your dinner pajamas and dinner t-shirt. You fire up your appetite by eating some Kurkure and at 10:55, you get the message: ‘Your transaction has failed. LOL’ and you try to place the order again. Kitchen closed! Bam! Murphy’s law!

You have a Whatsapp group that is insanely active. You just reply to the group messages out of sheer boredom. Suddenly you see a notification ‘Your crush has sent a message’ and you press ‘Back’ to read the message. The wheel of death begins rotating in the middle of your phone screen and below it reads the ominous warning: ‘Backing up messages, please wait’. Until the wheel completes its 45649 turns, your crush has gone to sleep. With someone else. She is probably married by now. Bam!

You want to show this amazing video to a friend. YouTube says, ‘An error just occurred, please try again.’ But it really means, ‘Haha.. Good luck with that, mate!’ BAM!

You open Twitter in hope of finding some good humour and all you get is some ads but you scroll further down and there they are! Good jokes. Twitter is cool.


Short Story- Gratitude

The first day he alighted from the Suvidha Train, his long term ‘asuvidha‘ began. His pocket was obviously picked as a hospitality gesture by the pickpockets at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminal. He found that out when he reached in his pocket to pay the roadside drinking water vendor. As he had already drank the water, the vendor was gracious enough to slap him on his temple in lieu of the money.

He thought it was just a bad start and things would get better. He first thought that it was just a coincident that the water-seller was a MarathiManoos. But then slowly things started getting clearer. His sudden realization came about when he tapped one gentleman on the shoulder to ask what the time was. ‘Bhaiya, time kya hua hai?’ he innocently asked. ‘Bhaiya hoga tu!’ pat came the reply. This was when the ambiguity was cleared. It wasn’t just his luck. He was genuinely hated.

He tried to rub away the ‘Bihari‘ tag on his forehead but, it kept creeping up. He had come to the city to make a name for himself. He had read and heard stories. After his father’s death in the village, he had no one to go to. He was almost thankful to his father for never getting him married. ‘One baggage less’, he thought.

Eventually, he soaked in the hatred and locked it inside. With all the money he had, he bought a small stall and started selling tea. Business started picking up. Most of his clients were Bihari day wagers. One morning, he found his stall ransacked and saffron flags all over the street. He felt a small saffron flag-shaped lump in his throat. He sold off whatever was left of his stall. He now had less than half the money he had come with.

Sitting in the unreserved bogie of Suvidha Train, he counted the only four 500-rupee notes he had. A few coins fell from his pocket and rolled to unreachable corners. He stood up, knelt down and found those one-rupee coins and chained them back to his destiny. He even fought with one passenger over the custody of a two-rupee coin. He had to suppress a strange urge to pick up a sharp object and slit the throat of this person. He felt weird about the violence growing in his heart.

A few years later, he was running a successful vada pao shop in a busy market in Patna. His signboard read- ‘MUMBAI VADA PAO’

Saturday 3 October 2015

Awkward moments in the life of a dentist- Part 4

The art of being a loser

Did you know that after the Mahabharata war concluded and it was all said and done, Pandavas went to hell and Kauravas went to the heaven? India has always been kind to its losers. We, as a group, have a deep sense of sympathy for the vanquished, the famished and the incapable. It is not kindness, it is something more. We just do not like winners.

You might think that in a country of more than a billion people, there ought to be more losers than winners and that's why the majority has glorified losing as a propaganda move. But, it is not that. It certainly is not. The 'propaganda' has been in our collective psyche even before we were exploding as a population. We have revered Karna and despised Yudhishthir ever since the beginning of time.

Our love stories end up in both or one lover dying, our success stories end after one becomes rich as if that is a tragic end.

It is something so fundamental and yet so subtle. 'Krishna never married Radha', we smile as this thought passes our minds. It makes us misty-eyed. We love the irony in these situations. We are a nation of ironies. Ironies are everywhere- a hairdresser has the worst hairstyle, a doctor works for a salary lower than a government school peon, a cow-worshiping nation exports the most beef in the World.

But, it is not the love of ironies that makes us love our losers. Not all losers are loved here. Losing is an art. It is not easy and it certainly comes with a price. Let me just take you through the things that go into the making of a great loser-

First and foremost, you have to be proud of it. There are different ways to approach life in India. If you are a young person, there are a multitude of things that will be expected of you. One way is to keep working at those things until you achieve them and then realize the futility of it. Your neighbour wants you to get a PhD? Get a PhD. Your family wants you to marry someone you barely know? Marry the shit out of them! Your friend is preparing for UPSC exams? Start preparing!!

The second way is to fail at all those things and then proclaim that they are beneath you. Medicine? No one respects doctors these days. PhD? It is more like becoming a professor's personal assistant for seven years. UPSC? The bureaucracy is corrupt anyway!

Of course the third way of failing and sulking is not mentioned here because, we are talking about how to be a 'good' loser.

The next thing you have to keep in mind is- assimilate the opposite traits of the job at hand in your personality and then declare that you cannot change yourself for one stupid examination or challenge. If you are preparing for Chartered Accountancy, become a lazy person and renounce hard work- grow your hair, call yourself creative; if you are to sit for National Institute of Design entrance, forget how to hold a pen and tell people that you are more of a science guy. People will respect you for your ways and how you are set in them.

The third point is- start working on your looks. People hate losers who look miserable. A loser who looks like Enrique Iglesias finds many shoulders.

Another tip that I can share is- start working on a book. Now, you don't have to actually write a book. This is just to trick people into believing that you are an intelligent, sentient being instead of the dummy that you really are. Whenever you face a failure, say things like- 'at least it was an experience' and 'this is so going in my book'.

Also, pretend to have a calm sense of detachment and a sense of humour about losing. Smile and say, 'Maybe I am always meant to be in the journey and never at the destination' even when you actually are screaming curse words from inside. Make jokes about your own shortcomings and when someone else makes a joke about it, become very grim. Always lower your chin and make a face that is half-smiling when someone cracks a funny joke about you. The amount of guilt you make them feel is going to be directly proportional to the respect you get later.

With all the glamour associated with losers these days, one day will come when people will be vying to come last in marathons. Until that day, keep losing and don't be a sore loser.