Saturday, January 26, 2013

Delhi: The land that Oxford forgot

Delhi is known for many things: Khan Chacha, Chandni Chowk and the fact that Shambu loves Priya, as is very effectively demonstrated on the walls of the fort in Hauz Khas Village.
It is also known for blindingly white cars that run on an astonishing amount of overpriced petrol and abundant road rage, an entire gender that spends its day leering at women's behinds out of "respect" (because we all COME from women, after all) and everyone's father, who, apparently, everyone else is supposed to know.

But, amidst all the baseless (true) stereotypes that have engulfed the capital completely over the years, there are a few things that people don't know about Delhi:

1. The government functions out of this city: No, seriously, it does. Of course, there are three things wrong with that sentence:  The word "functions", the words "out of" that imply the government really gives two shits about anyone living outside of Delhi or a metro of comparable prosperity and the word "city", because Delhi is not so much a city as it is a pit-stop for a few hundred thousand people trying to make it to Gurgaon by 10 AM every morning.

2. DTC buses do still exist: Seriously, did everyone just forget? Its like since the metro network came along everyone completely discarded the faithful, overcrowded roadkill-generators that got them from A to B. They still work people, and when they break down you don't have to listen to the annoying man with a fake accent tell you about the "vilambh" and how he regrets it oh-so-deeply. The most communicative bus-drivers will tell you how you need to get off the bus and "ticket waapis nahin hoga".

Which finally brings us to...


I'm Punjabi, we take language seriously. We make sure our children learn perfect Hindi throughout the first half of their lives and then ensure we spend the other half cursing them for not knowing Punjabi. We also do a very decent job of English on occasion (the occasion being three pegs of Teacher's).

If you love any language, its not easy growing up in the Capital. We like our language like we like our women, bent to our will. Delhi is to proper use of grammar what Faizal Khan is to Ramadhir Singh at the end of Gangs of Wasseypur. (If you didn't get that reference but know any of the songs from SOTY, or what SOTY stands for, you need to evaluate your life-choices)

In the 21 years I've spent growing up in this place, I've picked up a few things Delhi People say that annoy me more than Bigg Boss or LSR Girls. So far, I've come up with five:

Toooo Good

Nothing in Delhi is ever excellent, superb or fantastic. All these involve having to deal with more than one syllable in a single word, and that frightens us. If its better than average, its "too good". This re-affirms my theory that Delhi is easily impressed. We're like a little kid that asks his parents about sex, so they just show him a piece of glass and go "oooh, shiny" and, hey presto! No more sex talk.

What exactly do you mean by "Too Good"? Is the Coconut Chutney at Sagar Ratna "too good" for the Dosa? When I make a funny joke, is it "too good" for the occasion?

Why is everything "too good" for you Delhi? Have you set the bar that impossibly low? Have you really brought your expectations to rock-bottom so everything anyone does is "too good" to be true?

You sadden me, Delhi. You sadden me.

Red Light

We don't have traffic lights in Delhi, we have red lights. Even when they're green. We believe the yellow and green colours on Traffic Lights don't really serve a purpose great enough to deserve any kind of verbal association with the traffic light.

So we have red lights, every time, all the time. Delhi has so many "red lights" that if Mr. India was made in Delhi, Mogambo would have found and shot Anil Kapoor within five minutes of first hearing about him. (Boom!)

The whole thing is ridiculous of course. To suggest that the entire city's traffic is governed by monochromatic traffic lights would be to suggest that traffic lights don't really serve a purpose at all, and that people in Delhi can just drive wherever they want, regardless of the indication on the traffic light that clearly tells them when to stop and when to...oh wait, that's right, we do that.

Places thats alwayss ends ins Ss

People say Bombay has no place for singularity, that it is one collective, living breathing unit (which is preposterous, because everyone knows Bombay has as much room for anything to breathe as the inside of a Nazi Gas Chamber).

To those people, I say, come to Delhi. We're taking collective to a whole new level. We're so collective, we don't even believe singular nouns exist, especially when we talk about places.

Which is why, when you want to go out drinking with the guys, you go to StrikerS. When you want to grab a bite with your friends, you go to Big ChillS.

You watch a movie at WaveS Cinemas and go shopping at City WalkS.

We're a city obsessed with multiplicity. Everyone has two phones, three cars, five houses and ten family friends that can get them passes for the Akon concert (Remember when Smack That came out? Good times.), so it makes sense that we'd want to multiply everything around us. I just think things might get awkward when you try to tell your friends you are thinking about a PIS.

Take your time, you'll get it.

(Also, what's the deal with House Khas? You can't say Hoz? Or call it "The Village" like other people that love Swedish House Mafia?)

Vag Burger

This one pretty much writes itself.


Propose Maarna

You remember when you were in school, and said all kinds of stupid shit? The thing is, asshole, that you're not any more. You can't just be stupid and expect to get away with it without any kind of judgement. I'm not saying school kids aren't judgemental. In school, you were always too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, too cunning, too naive, too ugly or had too many Pokemon Tazos for a normal, healthy human being (Really? That was just me?)

But the judgement you receive in the real world matters more than what your class-mates thought of you. In the real world, people get fired over things they say, lawsuits are filed, scandals are reported in the media and, in the more gruesome cases, someone gets invited to live in the Bigg Boss house.

Which is why you cannot continue to say things like "Bhaskar ne Nandini ko propose maara". Bhaskar, the man who saw too many bad 80s romantic movies with Aditya Pancholi in them growing up, built up the idea of a romantic liaison with Nandini in his head to the point where he asked her to hold hands with him as they went paddle-boating at old fort.

He wanted her to be his girlfriend. That's cute in a very Hyderabad Blues kinda way.

To propose, however, builds a very different scenario for me. You propose when you're sure there is no one in the world you'd rather be with than the person you're with right now. You propose when you are absolutely sure you want to wake up next to this person every morning for the rest of your life without ever tiring of it.

More often than not, however, you propose when she says the three magical words every Indian guy wants to hear..."New Honda City".


So here's what I "propose" Delhi. I am willing to understand that issues of governance and safety and moral dictatorship are too deeply ingrained in the system to be changed overnight. I'm willing to wait these out, give you time to get your act together.

But, like the foreign-returned cousin who compensates for his astonishingly low IQ and lack of any discernible talent with his new-found love for the American accent and large Ziploc bags filled with gifts of Chocolates easily available at Big Bazaar, I need you to, in my mother's words, "look presentable" while you do it.

That's not asking too much, is it?

(Author's note: LSR girls don't really annoy me. Some of the best people I know are from LSR. (Its a "canteen" though, get the fuck over yourselves)).

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Guest Post - Let's Talk About Rape

Author: Ajeta Kapoor (Follow her on Twitter)
(No Edits)


I recall giving ‘looks’ to my mom while she would say ‘be careful’ as I would get ready to go out. I
never understood why she would say that. I was always careful.

When I grew up a little, I realized, it was not about me refraining from stupid activities. It was about
me being aware of my surroundings so as to protect myself against the very thing we all have been
actively protesting about lately.

And it’s not just Rape. Because Rape is just a part of it. It’s a whole lot bigger than that. It’s bigger
than you and it’s bigger than me.

My lack of confidence in the city’s police force took birth when a few years ago some random guys
clicked pictures of me and my friend and made some lewd comments while we were in an auto, in
broad daylight. It was the first time something like that had happened to me. I had heard stories. But
this was real. It was happening to me. It was happening right there. Feeling helpless I dialed up 1-0-

I realized my mistake with the first bell that rang. Instead of talking about the issue in hand, they
kept asking me about my name, my father’s name, where I live, what my father does.
So I did what I thought was my last and best option. I hung up the phone and I tried to forget about
it, like it never happened.

It is a misogynistic world.
It is definitely a misogynistic country
Fourth in the world as the most dangerous place for women to live in.

Crimes are committed ‘as a lesson to put women in her place’. What is this place exactly, if I may

ask? Is it a corner, where women are supposed to be sent off to in the light of them asking for their
basic entitled freedom? Is it a podium, where they are called names, thrown acid at and put to shame
by public for daring to refuse a man’s proposal of marriage? What is this place? And how has this
place come to being?

We need actions.
We need safety.
We need solutions.
We need impressionable minds learning the physical and emotional harm rape is capable of doing to
a human being.
We need changed mindset.
Something. We need something.

Because I am helpless here.
Because I am laughing at the absurdity the government is throwing at us every day, every second,
because otherwise it is too depressing, to think that these are the kind of people who have the power
of my life, my future, in their hands.
Because now all I can do is write about it.

So please, let’s talk about freedom. Let’s talk about safety. Let’s talk about Rape.

Yours faithfully
Afraid Citizen