Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tinkon ka bas ek Aashiyan...

Its 2 am in Delhi, India. I just got off the phone after arguing my case with Sunita Mishra of " Aap itne haseen na hote to bhai bana leti " fame. I am the only one who can wake her up at 2 in the morning and start an intellectual conversation without getting a lesson on time etiquette!

The issue for the night was home - sweet home as they sold to all of us long time ago. I am not anti-civilization but I have come to the conclusion that it is the quest of this sweet home that is the root cause of all the wars, hunger and poverty in this world. This is the genesis of all the evils that we see on TV and read in the papers every day.

I can explain.

For a moment go back to your teenage years when the world used to look so romantic. When we knew only friends and not Hindus, Muslims and Christians. When we used to hang around the St. Mary's Church at Byculla at certain time to get a glimpse of a christian girl who used to be a visitor there. We used to wear cross and show up in the church because we wanted to be friends with her and we did not believe any made walls and beliefs should stop us.

We were in the business of breaking walls no matter high and mighty and un touchable they were. Some jebronis still do that in the world albeit on a minor scale. World was an idealistic place where no one was a stranger. We were like one big family. We used to fight along with our Hindu friends against any bully that showed up to fight them.

Cut to present day:

Now after marrying the girl that parents selected after checking the jaat, caste and religion; buying a house after making sure no one "who is not like us lived there" and sending our kids to "our" types of school, we have become so unlike what we were when we were growing up?

What the f***k happened?

The search for that "Tinkon ka aashiyana" is one reason beside our communal DNA. How else could you explain a guy who dated Muslim girl and almost ran away with her to marry while in college, is now making sure his kids don't make "Muslim friends?" The same chap gives charity only to Hindu organization and blames Muslims for all the evil in this world? Same goes for the Muslim gentleman too - no exceptions in this Olympics of hating other human beings.

I think buying or building a house brings a sense of permanency in human mind. That permanency is the reason in limiting a man's vision. Throw in a wife and a kid and now you have a gentleman who is willing to bomb the whole world if need be, in order to save these two. Because they are HIS own, that is HIS house. This gentleman NOW wants to play God to his family, and make sure they and their future generation are safe against the perceived enemy. This love for my wife, my home and my kids makes us so small and childish that it seems so funny.

Julia Roberts made a documentary on some tribes living in Mongolia. She went there with a crew and spent a couple of weeks in the middle of nowhere. You see her from getting shocked at every day lives there to finding peace and serenity in that environment. That tribe has no doors, no locks - nothing. Nobody steals anything there. Even the horses are left un-tied at night outside and yet they don't run away. These tribes don't own things and lands. They just stop at a place, live for sometime and move on. They don't have wars, and they don't practice hatred there. Everything is considered temporary in their world, which we don't seems to get!

Most of my friends have house, kids and wives . Every time I visit their homes these thoughts expressed on this blog get reinforced. I witness their turnaround from a global citizen to a " Khao, Khujao and Batti Bujaho" type. They don't care what happens in the the next gully, forget about the next mohallah or the next town. As the kids are growing and becoming open and internationals these parents who were like their kids 15 years ago going local - very local - only 3500 Sft worth.

Sunita wants me to own a house, get married and settle down. I too want to get married and settled own but without owning lands and things as they, in my mind are the beginning of the journey of selfishness. The folks, I consider my heroes never "owned" things. Be it a general who ruled half the world and lived in $5 tent, as Bill Clinton calls it, to humanist businessman JRD Tata.

Today, in this world everyone and everything looks mine. Why would I want to exchange this wide world for 3500 SFT of concrete and wood?

Mullah says I should watch out for this tendency of thinking "everything is so mine" as it may one day result in believing that other people's kids and wives are yours too?

Well, I will take the fifth amendment on that one!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Secured Be-wafaiyan..

I did not realize the difficulty I am going to face transporting new TV to my house when I bought it. So here I was, in my parking lot experiencing what I call an "American moment" which basically means "you are always alone every time - all the time!". Contrast that to an Indian version of it which means " You are never- ever-goddamned ever alone!".

I was about to give a shout at Mullah or Manohar when I saw these two kids approach me. They offered to help me with TV and I graciously accepted it. While upstairs they placed the TV at the right place and before I could thank, they asked for my permission to preach me. They belonged to the Chucrh of Mormon and were on a one year assignment preaching away from home. They go door to door sharing good news about their Lord with "hell-bound" people like me.

I offered them seats, cokes and rapt attention but only on one condition, that they will let me also preach for 5 minutes. They accepted and preached me about their faith and how it began when in 1830, a 15 year old boy named Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844), had a visit from Jesus Christ who asked him to start a new church now known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (with headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah -- a state that is now 70% Mormon).

I don't have a yearning for religious change in my life and am not looking for any other outlet for satisfying my need for a higher being. I am completely at peace being a Muslim even though Yaar log from both the sides of the aisle have done an excellent job turning it into some kind of a terrorist cult. I enjoy the philosophical sides of every religion. Give me a religion, any religion and I will find something to rejoice about.

One of my favorite story is that of Ganesha when he along with his brother was asked by his parents to lagao a chakkar of the world in order to get a toy. The brother runs off in a hurry but Ganehsa just revolves around the parents saying you are my world and I have completed the chakkar of my world. How can you beat that for motivation and love? I use this story sometime to the amazement of my audiences to make a point.

When they finished and gave me the Mormon Bible it was my time to preach as promised. And my convesration went like this:

Me: Kids, how old are you?
Both: 15 and 14
Me: What if I tell you that you can receive a half a million dollars 20 years from now...
Both: How?
Me: Just invest you lunch money in a mutual fund for 20 years.

Their jaws drooped and eyes wide opened - as expected.

Me: I am serious kids. Look if you invest $6 dollars, your lunch money into any mutual fund for 20 years you will have a $500,000 in your account. I don't know what future holds for you and what calamities await you. I don't know which woman is going to drop a nuclear bomb in your heart, or who is going to stab in your back and what disease or divorce you are going to pick up when you are 35. Whatever it is, with half a million dollars in your bank you would be able to deal with it...

When those kids were leaving, I could see from their lit up eyes that my preaching did pay off and they may invest in the market to attain future security!

Whenever I share this story with Mullah; I always complain to him that, no one told me this when I was 15 otherwise I would be a millionaire. Every time he asks "was there any lunch money available to you when you were 15?"

Every time I take a deep sigh.....

Monday, August 04, 2008

Mr. and Mrs. Iyer

This is Jahangir Chaudry, he is muslim...

Just saw Mr. and Mrs. Iyer for the n+100th time.
You make one film like this, and you know you have paid your dues to the humanity. You have paid debts to all those that showed up in your life when you had given up on everything between heaven and earth....

Pure magic indeed!

The truth about cats and dogs...

“People, I can’t see, my mind is dead and I am totally exhausted and will not be able to drive back home-- someone please either drop me home or take me to your house and put me to sleep for tonight.”

I announced that to my "Investment Analysis" class a few weeks ago amid roaring laughter. Folks, enjoyed “put me to sleep” thingy and went back to their conversations. A couple of potential volunteers showed interest and one of them, my favorite one, even stopped by my desk. (You know you have arrived as a writer, when you can predict the reactions of your audiences, and this time I was right on the money.)

Volunteer: Hey, Are you ok? What is going on?
Me: Nothing, just tired. I have too much going on with full time job, script writing and these four courses.
Volunteer: Oh, I am sorry! Take it easy. Look, I would have taken you home but you know Toby lives with me…
Me: That’s cool. I can sleep with Toby in the living room….it is just one night.
Volunteer: Actually, Toby is my dog….
Me: No problem…I can sleep with him.
Volunteer: Well, Toby sleeps with me on my bed…
Me: Like I said, I will sleep wherever Toby sleeps…I am a man of words (You just can not take Mumbai out of a Miya bhai!)

I have been observing American love affair with things doggy for quite sometime now. And I am surprised to see that this habit of "having dogs" has taken obsessive proportions, especially when it comes to blondes FPNs. I have seen simultaneous promotions of dogs and demotions of men in many households as soon as the dogs arrived.

Apna Manohar Parsad Yadav has been noticing it too. The other day we were driving to see “Kismat Konnection” when he started using B*&#$% and Maa&*($#. I asked ke “bhaiyya Manohar kiya bad tameezi hai?” He pointed towards the neighbouring car, which had a ravishing FPN with equally ravishing Chuchuua sitting on her lap – staring at Manohar.
“ Salaa kutte ka bccha Moonh chida raha hai”…. Manohar thundered.
Yaar masoom janwar hai….kiyoon tention lete ho?
‘Us gaud main baith ke koi masoom nahi rehta –dekho kaise!…”

Even Mullah Luis gets fired up when talking about his girl friend and her two dogs. He says, they have cost him almost ten thousand dollars in two years by tearing up the carpets and just messing up the place. What really makes him mad is that his FPN does not consider this additional cost as a cost of maintaining dogs. She thinks that dog cost only dog foods. In addition, it is his duty to “walk them” at least four times a day. As a result he ends up spending more time with dogs than with his southern Belle. Mullah says “In a house cohabited by an FPN, a dog and a man – there is only one who is really enjoying life and it is NOT man!”

And then there are love affairs that get derailed as soon as girls find out that the guy they thought “perfect”, does not like pets. A friend from Dallas, TX dropped her Pakistani boyfriend because he was not fond of dogs and she could not take his indifference to her dog any more. Well, she has no idea that per famous humorist Mushatq Ahamd Yusufi, “Muslims do not take those animals as pets that they can not eat!!”

Well, there are many more cases I can recall. The point is, what is going on in the other half world? What lead to this over obsession with dogs and other pets among females? A sociologist can answer those questions with more authority and qualitative research but me think that women are trying to fill the gap of loyalty left by men. The only claim to fame that dog have is loyalty. They are the only animals on planet that earn their livelihood on being loyal. Women know that dog is the only one who would not react negatively to their ageing process, ups and downs of life and the break down of other things they hold dear…

The second reason that comes readily to mind is the need to love and be loved. We all have this innate need to love someone unconditionally. All right, not all but most of us! And an ugly looking Chihuahua fulfils that need with perfection. Have you seen a dog jump all over you as you enter the house after work? It is a good sight to see and a horrible thing to experience, that in spite of all your charm and wit, a dog wins each time in getting the best deal.

And finally, women of all ages and nationalities like to have kids. It is part of their DNA. They put off having kids due to work and other ambitions. A dog becomes that child that they could not have.

Sometime I think going back to the “basics” is the only way to salvation….

Mullah thinks that women, by taking dogs all the way to beds are trying to convert dog into a human being. He doubts Mr. Darwin’s theory of men going from 4-legged monkey to two-legged men a mater of mere “selection”. He thinks there must have been woman who turned chimps into men…and it is the turn of dogs now to be converted to men. However, he highly doubts if dogs would enjoy being men…

I hope someone is documenting the contribution of women in this doggy evolution…

Well, I ended up driving home after the class. It was well past 11 and I drove at least 50 mph less than the posted speed limit, which was 55 MPH. Thankfully no cop stopped me for driving too slow. What I really wanted to do was to turn around and go north, and show up outside an apartment in Cartersville, GA . I wanted to do a Dahrmendara Paa Ji stunt and call that damn Toby out and shout “ Kutte Kamine bahar nikal, main tera khoon pee jaoonga”…

Well, That did not happen and man lost to a dog, again!

I hate dogs...