This Is What Would Happen If We Had A Sherlock Holmes In India Today

Sherlock HolmesEvery once in a while, I revisit all the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels with the same enthusiasm I had when I first picked up the books. I read each line with the same amount of drool in my mouth, and my heart beats faster each time the dramatic “elementary” reveal is around the corner. But, as time has gone by, I’ve become duller and predictable. My brain lacks the level of imagination it had when I was a kid. The result is that I find it hard to imagine the 19th century streets of London and the rustic surroundings of 221B Baker Street. I used to imagine them quite vividly, back when I was an innocent kid. Not anymore.

The alternative is that I try to imagine what would happen if Sherlock Holmes were discovered today, in this day and age, in India. It would not bode too well for our favorite detective. He would experience a systematic pounding by the media and the public until he would be so steeped in his own apparent ignominy that he would kill himself. This is what would happen:

Step 1: An Extraordinary Man Is Discovered

The tabloids would feature him first as a man of extraordinary talent, capable of solving crimes that the inept police can’t. People are impressed at his skills and the newspapers and the news channels run little fluff pieces on him and his abilities. He rapidly rises in the eyes of the public as the eccentric man who can solve the toughest of crimes with his extraordinary mind. He’s awarded a bunch of times by the Government and the Prime Minister gets his photograph clicked with him.

Step 2: The Obligatory Scandal

One persistent little fuck photographs Sherlock Holmes injecting himself with heroin. The photograph becomes a national sensation. How can a hero abuse narcotics? News anchors who can’t report to save their lives fill the TV screens with small-time politicians, ex-police officers and disgraced authors and ask them their opinion of this fallen hero. Four days of non-stop mindless debates about how he was politically motivated by the BJP or the Congress party to inject himself with heroin. One particularly persistent bitch of an anchor takes it upon herself to interview him on national television about this. Sherlock Holmes , with his usual battery of wit, proves to be too much for the dullard anchor to handle. She brands him a “traitor”.

Step 3: The Fall From Grace

He quickly becomes a laughing stock when one particular tabloid carries a photograph of him dozing off in court. He is actually closing his eyes and listening intently, but the tabloid sells sensation, not news.

Step 4: The Midnight Raids

The CBI raids his house in the middle of the night and finds a stash of chemicals, bullet holes in the wall, and the stash of heroin. They drag him out to Tihar Jail, but not before alerting the media of this “surprise” raid. The vultures are waiting for him on the street, and the newspapers splash the sensation on their front pages the next morning. Arnab Goswami is over the moon. “India wants to know the truth, Mr. Holmes!” he screams from the TV screen.

Step 5: The Demise

Sherlock Holmes gets out on bail. He checks himself into a five-star hotel room and overdoses on heroin. The media goes wild over this, and frantically covers the entire spectacle. “A national hero is dead,” mourns the TV anchor sadly. “He was a great man.”

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Hate And Why We Love It

I was reading a rather disturbing feature on Time about the attack on Nido Taniam in Delhi. It struck me that this, and other instances of hate that happen all over the world every day, are not surprising. We can’t pretend to be shocked, awed and disturbed, and cringe away from these acts of violence. As human beings, we are programmed to inflict pain on others. And we love it.

hate and violence
British Riots. Image Courtesy: BBC

My theory is quite simple: we are hateful creatures, forced to live together on the same piece of land and a bunch of makeshift rules and laws thrown in to govern our behavior. We forced ourselves into this corner. No one did this to us.

On our own, we are quite the pacifists. Well, most of us. But why is it that when we are put in a crowd of people, we bare our teeth, beat out chests and turn on each other? I think the answer lies deep within ourselves – our inherent fears. I’ll explain what this means.

I’ve been doing this very interesting social experiment for a few years now without anyone realizing it, and it’s proven to be quite the eye-opener. Whenever I am alone with someone (say Bob), in any situation, the conversation progresses like any other conversation between two people – about random things or something in particular. The minute a third person (say Dave) joins the fray, I use a variation of the following line: “Dave, hey! What’s up? Have you met Bob? He’s my friend and he’s uh.. um…”

I pretend to forget what Bob does for a living or what he’s good at, or what he has achieved, in an attempt to trivialize him. Bob immediately takes the cue, subconsciously, and rattles off his résumé to Dave – where he studied, what he graduated in, where he has worked, what he is currently working on, etc. This does not always happen, mind you. But when it does and you observe Bob’s body language, and he is the very epitome of defensiveness. His body is closed, arms folded, shoulders drooped, as though he is bracing for an attack.

The same thing also happens when I’m alone with Bob and I feign indifference to his achievements in life.

It’s our fear of rejection (or the fear of being dismissed as unimportant) that puts us in this situation. We all do it. I do it too. I have found myself talking about my career choices and my achievements (or lack thereof) to people for no fathomable reason except my fear of ridicule and rejection. I don’t want the other guy to think I’m weak. Or stupid. I beef up my arms and shoulders, brace myself and start telling him through my body language that I’m a (relatively) smart guy and can defend myself if need be.

This behavior tells us a few very important things about ourselves – we are all in a constant state of alertness, always on the lookout for a threat. This threat can be in any shape of form – physical, mental, emotional, financial, etc. We believe that everyone around us are a threat to our way of life. This is perhaps why we don’t do certain things like wear sunglasses when we’re inside a building – we fear that people are going to point at us and laugh, thus making us feel small, insignificant and vulnerable. This leaves us open for attack from a larger predator.

When the concept is applied on a global scale – to societies and nations as a whole, we realize that the equation does not change one bit. A billion paranoid people are constantly wary of a billion other paranoid people. Fear multiples in crowds and takes a life of it’s own, which leads to bad decisions and ultimately, a lot of people die. This is used as fuel to further our paranoia  – because it’s all right when we kill someone because we are doing it out of self-defense. But we fail to realize that the other person is killing for the same exact reason. We think he’s a monster, with no thought control and emotion.

The fact that we need this mutual hate and fear to survive and lead our lives is the biggest illusion that we have performed on ourselves. The idea that we need to lash out at a fellow human being in order to survive is ultimately going to make us as extinct as the Dodo. But not before we realize that it makes us just as dumb.

Daydreaming

Day DreamingOne of the worst things that could happen to anyone in my position is this: the realization that your daydream will not be a reality. At least not immediately. You’re right up there among the stars, imagining how different your life will be and how you are going to spend the suitcase full of cash you just found on the sidewalk – a car each for yourself and your wife; maybe a new Harley for those exciting road trips on which, taking a car would be lame; a new house, perhaps two; a very strong and comprehensive health insurance plan for the entire family – yours and hers – to ensure that everyone who’s important is taken care of; and some extra leftover money invested in low yield bonds, savings, deposits and other such inane piggy-banks to ensure your financial independence. Of course, you’d first pay off your credit cards and loans and become debt-free.

You and your wife would then quit your respective jobs. You’d move in to one of your new houses, make it a home and give out the other one on rent for a decent family to ensure that you get paid monthly. You consider this income as your primary income which is earmarked for groceries, food and fuel. You then buy yourselves a pair of fancy smartphones that have the very latest features and you use these phones to tweet about how excited you are about what you’re planning to do next.

Once the tweet has been published, you pack your bags and you hit the road to being the longest journey of your life – a long road trip all over the country, on a quest to visit each and every state, drive on every road, experience all that the beautiful country has to offer. You’d spend almost a year on the road and you return to your new house (which is still new because you haven’t lived in it yet) and you spend a few months domesticating yourselves. You do the occasional trip on the Harley to a few places here and there that may have escaped your radar during the year-long road trip.

After about a year of the domestic life, your wife starts getting restless and insists that you do something out of the ordinary. She wants that excitement of living out of her backpack again. She wants to drive into the sunset and sit on the hood of your big SUV, looking out at the setting sun and smoke a cigarette and drink a Diet Coke, while you stand next to her with your beer can in hand, lean over to you just as the last rays turn the sky red and kiss you softly on the lips. She urges you to do something about this urge.

You walk over to the window overlooking the beautifully landscaped garden in front and you think about what to do. You wake up the next day and decide to sell off your other house. You contact your lawyer and find out that the rate of the house has nearly doubled in the two years since you bought it. You make the deal with the first buyer you find and a week later, you’re richer by an insane amount of cold, hard cash, sitting pretty in your bank account. You spend a weekend researching the best way to spend a whole year backpacking in Europe. You make the arrangements, book your tickets and your hotels, and you go out on Sunday evening to the mall and buy brand new backpacks and new travel accessories for yourself and your wife, and come back home in time for dinner. When your wife asks you where you were, you deflect the question innocently and move the conversation over to mundane things like the weather.

The next morning, you ride your Harley over to the bank and realize that you have far more money left over than you initially imagined. You then convert a lot of the money into Euros, a lot of the money into Dollars and a lot of the money into travelers’ checks. You also instruct the bank to issue you a Visa travel card, into which you pre-load a lot of money.

You then go back home and tell your wife that you have something important to show her. She is confused, obviously. But curious. When you reveal your master plan and the preparations you’ve made so far, she is fantastically overjoyed and you get the best sex of your life for being the best husband ever.

You realize that you’re in a public place and you have a hard-on. You quickly clear your mind, pull down the visor of your helmet, start your bike just as the light turns green, and continue the ride to your office.

Indian Politics: A Critical Deconstruction

Indian PoliticsOnce upon a time, there was a whore who refused to take a bath. She was the biggest whore in all the world. No other member of her profession could match her for size. She could single-handedly take on a gang of twenty men and still beat them all to pulp with brute strength. She was widely known for her prowess and her surprisingly good heart, and everyone respected her. She wanted nothing more than to whore around and make money, something that she’d been doing for almost six decades now. The one thing no one liked about her was the fact that she didn’t take a bath.

She used to take a bath in the past, some fifty years ago, but now, she just couldn’t get herself to do it. She used to carry on her flesh trade using nothing more than deodorant. When she forgot the deo, her stink would announce her arrival five minutes in advance. Yet, she never had a dearth of customers. Buying her services gave people a sense of false pride, something that was an archaic notion in itself. People would line up to wait for her just to be able to spend a few precious moments with her, so that they could be branded with her stinking sigil. They would use it in their résumés, and their families would be proud of their achievement. The fact that they’d just participated in prostitution was never a problem. People didn’t talk about the ethical, legal and moral quandaries in using the services of a whore. These things were swept under the carpets and the mattresses or locked in cabinets, never to be spoken of.

The whore who never took a bath had a certain reputation that she wasn’t proud of: she had been the cause of more deaths in her country than any disease, calamity or natural disaster. She wielded her heavy hand as a weapon and swatted away anyone who dared to come forward to clean her. She used people’s religious beliefs to get under their skin and convinced them to kill other people with different religious beliefs. In fact, her refusal to clean herself up was so notoriously known that even people in other countries were afraid to do anything lest they become scarred and soiled. The whore went on mercilessly killing innocent people in order to satisfy herself of her uncleanliness. A lot of people tried to clean her and were either soiled or killed off as expendables.

Indian politics is, in one word, dirty.

PS: The whore in question has agreed not to sue me for calling her a whore. 

Habit Over Hate

Mumbai BeachFor those of you who have been wondering why MirrorCracked hasn’t been updated for two months (to the day), well, you can stop wondering. I am still alive, unfortunately, and I’m back in business. For those of you who assumed I had given up, for those of you who assumed I was dead and for those of you who just didn’t (and still don’t) care whether this blog gets updated or not, the least I can offer is a friendly wave.

I’ve been living in a beach town for a while now and working for an ad agency, setting up a business of my own and working on my third book, so arguably, I’ve been a bit busy. Add an ill-timed illness and brand new fuckers around, it does get a bit dicey to manage blogging time.

But anyway, here I am, exactly two months after my last post, itching to tell the world about my beach town.

For a while now, I’ve noticed that the town I live in has been mistakenly called many names and not all of them pleasant. It has been referred to as the Crap Recycler, The Widowmaker, The Land of Opportunity and, my favorite, A Triumph of Habit Over Hate.

I don’t think it’s any of those. The more I look at this town, the more I come to believe that it’s a small-time beach town that has had a sudden influx of different dichotomies:  randomly distributed pockets of wealth and penury, steel-and-concrete monstrosities and corrugated cardboard disguised as houses, intellectuals and dumbasses.

There are still remnants of the little beach town that it actually once was – the early morning air with the slight hint of seawater in it, the small lanes paved with tiles, thatched roof huts (if you’re lucky enough to spot one), tall coconut trees and the stink of freshly caught seafood. People getting haircuts and shaves on the pavement, the constant cacophony of the crows (which seems to be a trait of almost every beach town), and finally, the vast areas of mangroves that signal the edge of land all make up for a wonderfully misunderstood beach town.

Then there are the beaches themselves. Some beaches here have been overrun by people who, I think, have never seen a beach in their lives and hence empathize with. But others are pristine in their naturalness. Vast stretches of sandy shores devoid of any human pollution, the gentle lapping of the waves as they kiss your feet and the distant horizon where the unnaturally large sun sinks, throwing up a fascinating array of golden lights dancing on the rippling water…

There I go again, losing myself while describing the sea. The point I was trying to make is that all these things put together make this place a lovely little beach town which has all the beauty and serenity of any other place like Gokarna or Mahabs or even some parts of Goa, with all the amenities of a fully-developed city of money, power, cricket and Bollywood. It would help if we go past the negativity that is being spun into our lives by everyone who’s been here. Every newspaper, on an average, consists of 90% bad news every day. Murders, political scams, money laundering, government incapacities, road rage, traffic snarls, and other nonsense. Forget all that for a day. If you live where I live, try and overlook all that for just a day. Try and connect with the small-time beach town that it really is.

I live in Mumbai.

“I Have Mother!”

Or, as it’s rightly said in Hindi, “Mere paas maa hai!” was, still is and will remain the most famous dialog in Bollywood for the next few decades. The 1975 classic Deewar set new standards in Indian cinema and elevated mortal beings into superstardom. Sadly, the ’70s were all that Bollywood could offer in terms of originality, innovation and pleasure. Apart from the occasional gem, a majority of  the movies made in Bollywood today are worthless pieces of stool.

There is one – just one – formula that all Bollywood movies follow nowadays:

A meets B.

Falls in love with B. 

A thinks life is all roses and unicorns. Sings a song or two. 

But, oh no! What’s this? B is in love with C! How unexpected!

A is shattered. Depressed. Sings a song or two.

C, meanwhile, is a jerk and does something inhuman, untrustworthy. 

B loses faith in C. B is depressed. Blames self for misfortune. Sings a song or two.

A swoops in like a knight in shining armor. Consoles B.

B falls in love with A. All is fine, sing a song or two.

Optional (for violence): C and A have a fight. 

If A and C are men, you have a strong romantic movie filled with songs, drama and action. If A and C are women, you have a spicy, romantic chick flick.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but every one of these so-called ‘new and improved’ movies work on these lines. This is the core formula. The unchanging storyline for any movie worth it’s salt to pass inspection. Package the formula with a college theme, a superhero theme, a gangster theme, and just about any goddamn theme – you get one crappy movie after another.

The Bollywood Crap Factory has been churning out disaster after such disaster for the past twenty-odd years. And it’s amazing how people just fall for it each and every time. Either that, or re-hashing successful old movies with more masala and lesser clothes and disgusting lyrics to excite more hapless people.

Unabashed over-the-top acting with too much drama and too many emotions and too many movements of the eyebrows, relying too much on non-Indian folk to add some elements of ‘variance’ or as the producers like to call it, ‘a global touch’ – these are few of the trends that are bound to backfire and implode sooner or later. Actors who engage in silly publicity stunts, those who sell their souls to be on a reality show and those who sell their bodies to get featured in a newspaper – we have all kinds of lunatics in this business.

I crave for the day this ridiculous trend is overturned for something better. Bollywood needs a face-lift. And soon!

Insane Trends For 2012

A while ago, I had educated the world about the famed Stupidity Index. Now, as we move into the new year with new hopes and renewed miseries, I will present to you my top five insane trends to watch out for in 2012:

Excessive 9gagging:

9gag logoOver the past year, 9gag has become a trend statement of sorts with all kinds of memes being made popular by a very large percentage of the world’s population. Being a 9gagger has become a matter of pride for some and a matter of principle for others. Excessive 9gagging has shown to result in involuntary drooling, day dreaming during work and sudden, inexplicable erections in men in January, courtesy of their no-bra campaign. This trend is insane enough to make this list and its worth keeping an eye out for.

Facebook Marriages:

Facebook_WeddingMore and more people are getting ‘married’ on Facebook these days. In 2011, there were 109 recorded marriages on the social networking site whose user base makes it the fourth most populated country in the world. If you like someone very much and want to get married to that person but can’t afford a wedding, then the the trendsmith recommends a Facebook marriage – change your relationship status to ‘Married’ and indicate the person you want to marry. Once that other person (hopefully your better half) has reciprocated this action, your statuses will be updated for the whole world to see.

This is a very useful recommendation for all those who are constantly broke. Go forth and get hitched. After all, being insane enough to get married in this day and age trumps the fact that you’re doing it on Facebook.

The Flash Mob Phenomenon:

Flash MobThe mob has many heads but no brains. Or so they say. The last four months of 2011 saw an exponential rise in the number of randomly arranged flash mobs in India, US, UK and Australia. Most of the flash mobs were centered around people dancing to or singing a popular trending song. This year, there are all the indicators that the Flash Mob culture will rise strongly and will involve people from all walks of life to behave like idiots for a few minutes.

Status Messages:

status messageThere was an astronomical increase in the number of people searching for the phrase ‘best status messages’ on Google. It’s probably the influx of innumerable brain alternatives that people these days are not able to think smartly for themselves. Sadly, some of the best status messages on IMs and social networking sites are re-hashed nonsense. One of the trends to watch out for in 2012 will be the hunt for an original status message.

Taking An Arrow To The Knee:

Arrow to the knee - skyrimSkyrim, with all its hype and drama, gave the world much than they promised. More than half the world’s population are nursing sore knees after being shot by arrows. This phrase, which evolved into a meme and now has grown into a full-fledged fan site, will not die quickly. 2012 will see growing popularity and acceptance.

So, that’s my list. In case you have more insane trends to watch out for, enlighten us in the comments. Cheers, and a happy new year to you all. Stay Hungover!