Sunday, September 29, 2013

"Susie Derkins Decoded" Guest Post by Meghana Lawate

I’ll try to keep this post as simple as possible. Well I’m one of those in love with secondary characters type persons. I’ve always been drawn to the sidekick or any of the “non hero” characters in a book or comic. I love Obelix more than Asterix or that I love Captain Haddock more than Tin Tin, or that I love Ron and Hermione, Fred and George and pretty much every other character than Harry. I really am rarely drawn to the hero/heroine, at least in most cases.  I like Joker more than Batman but that’s a moot point because who doesn’t? and Aisha Banerjee more than Sid from Wake up Sid.

So when I first read Calvin and Hobbes I was really drawn to Susie Derkins, to most people Susie Derkins in just another character like Calvin’s parents or that big bully in school (Moe) or Calvin’s teacher (Mrs Wormwood)... But as I think more about Susie the more it makes me appreciate her. For one, Susie Derkins is very normal, she is a little girl who likes to play with her toys, study in school, and she lives in her own world. What makes her different is her friendship with Calvin. For anyone who has realistically thought of how hard someone like Calvin can be to live with will definitely understand what I’m trying to get at.

Susie Derkins is the embodiment of patience! After all those snowballs, those slimy descriptions of food, and all the mean comments; Calvin asks her if there’s a possum stuck under her collar for God’s sake! Susie bears it all. Why? Simple because when you are friends with somebody you sort of give them that much leeway, Susie isn’t all forgiving but let’s get to that later.

Susie Derkins is Calvin’s only real friend. Really through all those comics notice how Calvin is all alone with no other person he can call his friend? And Hobbes is his imagination. Good imagination, but really does he count? Its difficult to imagine a 6 year old misfit with only a tiger toy to talk to. Susie is his only real friend.That’s pretty sad as it is.

What I love about her is the fact that she exists. With all the madness and the name calling and the endless snowballs and Slimy girl accusations, she is with Calvin. I also love Susie Derkins for being “normal” when compared to Calvin (but then who isn’t?). But Susie is not all shy girl, she is fierce! At one point Calvin’s mother even tells Susie that it is not okay to pick on stupid children, the stupid kid being Calvin.  

Susie really knows how to outsmart Calvin be it by making him eat bugs (trying) or throwing snowballs or threatening Calvin. She is untroubled by Calvin most of the times, she knows how to give it right back to him! Her retorts are quite something! She is smart and man! She can fight! She can be very sweet and stern. I like that about Susie; she is unafraid, what is true friendship if not the ability to say things as they are? She reaches out to Calvin from time to time. Now, of all the people that she could be with, Susie chooses Calvin. While this may be me reading too much into her character, I really find it hard to fathom why a 6 year old wants to hangout with a meanie like Calvin. Simple, Susie gets it.

Susie is alone herself; remember the endless tea parties she hosts? One of which Hobbes is a part of. She gets it. Imagine a friend of yours who does not have any friends (other than you), is bullied and is not doing very well in school would you or would you not want to reach out to him? Susie is simply doing that. To add to that, I also think the whole charm that gets Susie to talk to Calvin is the fact that both have stuffed animals. How many 6 year olds can you find who are obsessed with a stuffed toy?

Susie Derkins really makes me think. Every time I think about a character like Susie’s, I am reminded of my friends and family who lived through my hyper activity. I mean we’ve all been kids, we’ve all be unmanageable at some point in time but thankfully most of us had friends who would tire us out. All our parents would do is gladly welcome a sweaty, stinky kid inside the house only to be fed and put to bed. These friends our parents are eternally grateful for. Susie is not the friend Calvin plays with, but she is the friend that Calvin constantly ends up with.

Susie gives you the impression of being both concerned and unconcerned. She worries in but in the right quantity, she is never meddling in Calvin’s life (if that’s what you can call what a 6 year old has). But she is also never too unconcerned, hey! She asks (rather listens) to him about what he has for lunch and she invites him for tea and that counts for something.  

Anyway, my top 10 takeaways from Susie Derkins

1. If you want to be friends with anyone, you must not be judgmental.

2. You are your own person, while you will gladly share space with your friend; you are not required to be attached to them all the time.

3. Be patient

4. You can fight! You are friends does not make your relationship immune to squabbles

5. When in a fight, fight like you mean it! Give it back to your opponent; they need a taste of their own medicine

6. Friendship is effort. So much effort.

7. There is a very strong possibility that your friend is lonely and doesn’t really know it. Be there.

8. It’s ok to be a little crazy or be with people who bring out your crazy side.

9. Friends can be awful to each other, a little humour helps.

10. If you are stuck on a project report with Calvin, you are better off doing it on your own.  

PS: What is also noteworthy is the fact the Calvin was probably schizophrenic and imagined Hobbes as real. And he also has Attention Deficit Disorder. Now, your appreciation of Susie must grow. :D

The above post is written by Meghana Lawate- her blog is here. 

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Thursday, September 26, 2013



To be honest I miss Bal Thackery. Despite his quirks, whims and excesses he was the only one in the country who had the guts to call a spade well nothing else but a spade. Some of the recent events have made me miss him even more. It has been ingrained in the public consciousness that Valentine's Day in India is less about love birds and celebration of spirit of love but more about the violent protests by Shiv Sena brigade.  

The English print media led by Times Of Bharat (name changed to avoid lawsuit :P) painted the Shiv Sena and other saffron brigade as cousins of Taliban who were hell bent on implying Taliban style religious code on the forward looking progressive nation. The nation, the youth was thinking big and dreaming big but here are some pervert religious bigots (dirty saffron brigade) with their hate agenda spoiling the celebration of beautiful and pure emotions like love and “festival of love”.  Naturally people hated Bal Thackrey and the saffron army.   It reminds me of an incident on Valentine's Day many years ago when I was in school and the celebration of “Love” was in full throttle (most of it driven by capitalist agenda).I overheard this conversation in my class between two guys.  

Dude 1 : Look at this Time Of Bharat dude. Lucknow Bharat Times has whole 10 pages dedicated for extolling the virtues of Saint. Valentine's Day.
Dude 2 : Yeah man. Looks like the whole paper has been painted red. All these hot babes wearing red. Yummmyy.. Yummmyy..
Dude 1 : HAHAHA! Such hypocrites. You know that girl Shristi*? Dude 2 : Yeahh dude that girl is amazing.. Oops I mean such a decent nice girl.. I heard rumours you are dating her no?
Dude 1 : Yeah dude I was. But just look at this copy of TOI preaching love like the whole country should just come out of home and start dating the opposite sex. Such hyporites.
Dude 2 : Man! You sound bitter. What's with this “was” dating? What's with this TOB-hate?
Dude 1 : Ohhh... bhai what to say. Shristi's father is in TOB only he got to know of our affair somehow. Now her phone is confiscated, she can't even go out alone now. Her scooty keys are with her Dad - always. Man it's all shit. Just think of it,  he goes to office writes/edits beautiful dating guides for the youth of the country, comes home gives his dauther a piece of his mind for being a spoilt girl Just because she was sotted with me by her dad's friends/relatives in Hazratganj.
Dude 2 : Look at this article focuses on sex tips for a Happy Valentine's Night. Wonder if her Dad wrote this himself.. HAHAHAHAHA!
Dude 1 : HAHAHAHA!! Wait lemme read....  

(*Names have been changed to protect identity.)  

Valentine's Day celebration disruption and hounding of couples by anyone has never been a hindrance for me. Well let's end the self-pity here.  

I remember on various occassions where the Shiv Sena acted as a moral guardian and was responsible for tearing down obsene posters placed in busy Mumbai intersections for some TV shows or were busy opposing some filthy “reality-shows” forced down the neck of Generation Y. Shiv Sena in my personal opinion was in many senses more like a moral correction factor than a taliban factor. Sadly that was Balasaheb's Shiv Sena.  


Recently the TV has been bombarded with promos of the filthiest movie ever in Indian cinema I guess: Grand Masti. From what I hear my friend Dozer say about the movie it is 10x times more dirty than the TV promos. What concerns me is where is our Censor Board? Just beacuse a movie has got an 'A' certificate doesn't mean it can show anything. I mean next they can start showing xx and xxx movies if all one needs is an 'A' certificate.  


In India as such an 'A' certificate hardly means anything. I haven't come across an incident ever where buying an 'A' certificate film ticket has been accompanied with showing of an age certificate. Even if that happens the movie will eventually find it's way to a torrent site which will then be downloaded by kids, the movie will come in pirated versions, the original DVD's will be out someday. Then the grand world TV premiere of the movie with much advertising campaign will tke place. So there's no way that an 'A' certificate will mean anything to anybody here in India.  


Take shows like Splitsvilla, Roadies and their million cousins. That bald idiot produer and host abusing people and irony is he thinks he is a moral compass to the society, the guide to the youth. I'm sure one day they'll give him the youth icon award too. I often wonder, what kind of people end up at their studios? His certification is all they need to find a reason to be alive? What sadistic person will enjoy being humilated by him on National TV? I mean why does one need an approval certificate from him to be called “adventurous”? The sadistic people watch the show enjoying the humiliation of worthless people by a self-proclaimed prophet of modern youth. MTV has started telling the youth lookie here “it's all cool”.  


Look at the shows by Channel V like 'Gumrah'. TV shows like this is what the youth needs, you see  and you'll know where some of the youngsters due to various avoidable reasons went wrong and misplaced there priorities. That is the reality-shows the country needs.  

The other day I was watching HomeShoppe18 (don't ask me why). I sat in front of TV absent- mindedly trying to think something and there they were selling some very decent ladies suits. Few  models were standing in their studio like a mannequinin defining the classical description of “bhartiya-naari” covered from shoulders to toe. But then in quite some time  the focus has shifted on one of the female models and while the female commentator is extolling the awesomeness of floral designer kurtis what you see basically on the screen is the camera focusing utterly and completely on the breasts of the lady model. They show it so artisticly and so innantely and even a kid will know where the intent of  the cameraman lies. This is the limit of pervertness.  


I had recently the misfortune of watching the movie 'Shuddh Desi Romance'. A tweet describes it best- it's neither 'Shuddh' nor 'Desi' and by no means 'Romance'. The story revolves around 'supposedly new generation' which wants to sleep around but not tie a knot for any reason. The hero meets the heroine on a baraati bus (he is on his way to his own wedding btw) and while travelling and incessantly chatting just kisses her on her lips. The girl doesn't object and this starts a round of kisses while the whole baraat is sleeping behind them in the bus. So the message is if u kiss a girl while meeting her first time it's really not an issue and if a girl resists or something she is just so “uncool” (no wonder the guy runs away from his own wedding).  

They eventually move into a live-in smoking, drinking and yes sleeping together. Wow what a life!!! Who in the prime of his his life in India wouldn't want a life like that? Ahhhh they decide to marry after a drinking session but can't marry because according to the director Indian youth is fed up of moving into marriage. Marriage is a social evil imposed by the older generation on the rebellious youth of the country who only want to live in a live-in smoking, drinking, fucking all days and nights to eternal happiness. Hey so you got pregnant while sleeping with your ex-boyfriend? No issues girl. daddy is in Assam who cares? Hey cool dude so you earn by duping foreign tourists and as a tour guide and get to fuck around some of the hottest females who are okay with you not marrying them and being with you in a live-in for reasons as valid as “I'm not sure.” Yes there are people who don't move into a marriage but have a live-in relationship and our Supreme Court recognises that too, I'm aware of that but the potrayal in this movie has been beyond my logical capabilities. Weird story weird film. I don't know how the people will digest or accept or even relate to this concept but certainly this is not a country we want to live in.  


First you create all the media image of woman as an object and when the byproducts of that happen people take to streets and start blaming the khap panchayats, the old generation, the poor perverts, politicians, Police insenstivity, Yo Yo Honey Singh like they have no job but to rape woman. What the media will never tell you how they have contributed significantly in objectifying women of the country. How the movies, the music videos, the lifestyle magazines are falling head over heels in showing women in poor light but then “sex sells”, we all know that.


English corporate media with swanky plush studios will show the gender discrimination more as a class war than a gender war and in some ways it indeed is a class war. The have-nots ganging up to show the haves what they are capable of.  

The studios demonise the working class without saying so but the gang rapes of village woman will hardly recieve any sound bytes than a story where the victim is seen as “one of us”. The idea is- how dare could they (the have nots) do this to “one of us”? We the cultured, english speaking, modern, refined people attacked by the barbaric filth living in the slums. The finger is always pointing everywhere else except the truth. Half of the country will try to impose Taliban style ban on women's clothing and timings to step outside home the rest half will sit online and express outrage via facebook status updates and sharing of pics/videos/links.  


When Bal Thackrey spoke, he knew the media or be it anyone has crossed the line and didn't care two hoots in being politically correct and saying diplomatic words to please everyone in a corporate English news channel studio. The English media no wonder demonized him and in no time painted him as a senile old man leading a gang of self styled thugs. No attention grabbing man would have drawn lakhs and lakhs of tearful people on his funeral to have a final 'darshan'. He was the man connected to the masses not the studios. He knew the pulse of the people and spoke the truth when the truth needed to be spoken in the country which values hypocrisy above anything else. So when obscene posters were torn by Shiv Sainiks in Mumbai it sent a message we are not a second hand Angrezz, a nakli wannabe Amreeka, their culture is different and ours is different.  

Ancient Hindu culture never suppressed or demonized sex, we had Kamasutra, Khujraho and above all generations and generations of Hindus have been praying to Shiv ling. Sex was accepted. Hindus of the past were bold but today in the name of mirroring the mind/aspirations of the youth obsenity has replaced the boldness and it's being pushed down the necks of the whole generation.  


I don't agree with Baba Ramdev when he says that gays are sick are people who need treatment. I don't agree with Bal Thackrey on many issues. No I don't agree with Shri Ram Sene who thinks women shouldn't be visiting pubs and discos. I'm not anybody's fan boy ready with a flag to defend any word said.   

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Sunday, September 22, 2013


It was a long train journey through the countryside in which I had the pleasureable company of Manu Joseph's debut novel “Serious Men” set in Mumbai and in and around the area which happened to be my home for the next month or so. It's almost surreal to have such an experience of being in a certain place and reading a book whose plot is based in the same place too. The book had a very realistic and touching plot which explored India and it's society at various strata through the lives of various characters in the book. The book was thoroughly delightful with the humour and gripping plot which keeps you hooked.  

The book which deeply matters to you is the one which touches you, moves you, changes you, challenges you and most consequentially the book and it's characters live inside you long after the final page is read and placed in book-shelf in the company of many others or returned to  it's rightful owner or maybe lend to another friend. One such book is Manu Joseph's second novel “The Illicit Happiness Of Other People”. I finished the book in one sitting. I just had to.  

Central to the plot of “The Illicit Happiness Of Other People” is a seventeen-year-old cartoonist named Unni Chacko. The entire book is about him but he is not there as a character but rather as a fragmanted memory of various people because he is dead, beacuse he killed himself. It chroniciles the quest of a “by-day-journalist-by-night-town-alcoholic” father to de-code the enigma behind the crytic cartoons left behind by his son to eventually know as to why he “did what he did”. Set in the Madras of 90's the book takes you as a witness to the household of Chackos or what is left of them after the departure of their son.  

It's not a mystery Dan Brown thriller novel riddled with world threating secret societies if that's what you are getting at. It is a mirror to the Indian society, the society obsessed with “94% is not enough” “IIT-JEE is the only goal and America the only destination”. It is a spiritual odyssey of finding the true self and finding the true nature of reality beyond the definition of what religions accross the spectrum offer. Author's deep knowledge of Hinduism and psychology and treatment of all characters with such intense depth can hardly be found in any of Arvind Adiga's works or for that matter much of the Indian writing spectrum.  

The book is as much about Hinduism as it is about Christianity. Whereas on one hand it explores Hinduism in the depths of philosophies relating nature of truth and reality Manu Joseph on the other hand explores Christianity on the surface on the issue of conversions exploiting the gullibility of naive people, or due to financial coercion, the dubious nature of evangilists and the inherent caste system followed in Indian version of Christianity. Had Manu Joseph been a Hindu or worse a Hindutva supporter all hell would have broken loose but I personally believe that he might not be a Hindu by practice but he's certainly a Hindu by mind.

The book chroniciles the life of a family fighting poverty, fighting mental disorders, fighting alcoholism, fighting the memories of a missing family member. It's heart wrenching to see the condition of a left-over family after one of them decided to call it quits for no apparent or overbearing reason. It also made more impact on me as I had the opportunity of going through some blogs recently where people had the heart of sharing their experiences of times when their life seemed impossible to bear and almost decided to call it quits and end their lives.  

The book means much more to me than a racy novel with an intriguing plot. It was more of a spiritual journey where you pick up pieces and build your own truth. It's a social commentary on the  nature of the societal setup, about the working of the collective social mindset and yes a potrayal of some free rebellious souls who are termed “crazy” or “lunatics” by the society but they they have seen something, experienced something, known something which is beyond the comprehension of a normal mind. If you can recognise the story within the story the truth will reflect and you'll be staring into it's eyes but if you miss it then well the story is engrossing and captivating in itself.  

It's a rare book which interocks story-telling and philosophy one acting as an interlocutar to another. The truth is out there it's upto you if it reveals itself onto you or you miss. It's been one of the most satisfying reads I had had in recent times. The experience of going through the book will stay with me for a long time. Without much exaggeration I can safely say it has touched me and transformed me on multiple levels.     

Monday, September 09, 2013

Saga of iPhone 5, Indian Advertising Industry and Selling Sex

So here I am with my iPhone 3 with a broken cracked screen and under tremendous social pressure.

iPhone5waala: you have an iPhone 3???? 3??? Must be 4 let me look.. 
Me: It really is 3 bhai mere. 
iPhone5waala: Look here's my iPhone5 buy one, look here's my iPad, my iMac, here my billion GB iPod. 
Me: Man who paid for all this?
iPhone5waala: 3???? You got 3???? *faints*

Female friend: blah blah blah blah
Female friend's friend: blah blah blah blah
Me: blah blah blah blah
*female friend check's phone*
*female friend's friend check's phone*
*me checks phone*
Female friend's friend: Ewwwww.. What's that? Is it that 3 waala model?
Me: Yaa... ummmm... ummmm....
Female Friend: Ohh he bought it when it was launched you know he really loves it.. i keep telling him to change it even the screen's broken but he just doen't listen
Me: Hehehe.. yaaa

Female friend's friend: (shrugs) whateva.


I bought this phone when it cost-ed 21k. No big deal considering the last Samsung smartphone I owned I had just thrown it really hard and crushed it to pieces making it absolutely necessary for me to buy a new phone without any procrastination. iPhone4 was costing around 45k and it made absolutely no sense to me to spend a fortune buying it. Considering I drop/lose/break-by-throwing my phones at my fancy whims and moods. 


There's a difference when you can't buy something and when you don't want to buy something. The difference is huge/enormous/mammoth. 

I had just bought my iPhone "3S" when immediately afterwards I happened to be at dinner with a SOB who had an iPhone "4S" bought recently and he tried to show-it-off before females present in our vicinity. But then that's where the difference lies I knew I could have bought it but i didn't it was a conscious logical decision not something that I had forced upon myself.

I have my own rule a phone's price must be directly proportional to the number of months I'll use it. Example a 12k phone will last for 12 months in my hand nothing more nothing less. 21k phone has to last 21 months before I officially declare it dead or by destroying it "make-it-dead" instead. So my iPhone 3 bought in Mar 2012 has to survive till December 2013. No matter what.  

Main Body:

The different reaction's I suffer due to iPhone 5 launch and materialism:

Person1 : Toothpaste Meswak liya hain? Paisa bacha rhe ho naya iPhone lene k liye?

Person2 : Dude you should totally buy iPhone 5 it has technical wonders like blah blah blah blah...  itna GB utna pixel ye processor wo speed.. 

Person3 : Arre yaar you don't have a credit card or what? Credit card se le lo..

Person4 : I'll get you a super 2nd hand kissi ko pata nahin chalega ki 2nd hand hain.

Imaginary Girlfriend: Naya phone? Mjhe kaunsa gift karoge?? My bday is coming you know I was wondering ki dono k pass same phone hona chahiye. 

Mummy : Itna mehanga phone tod bhi diya tumne? Kya naya phone lena hain? Paise bachaya kar beta...... 

Papa : Ye aaj kal ki generation pata nahin kya hain phone par hi lagey rahte hain jisse dekho........ hamare zamane main....

Apple people are stupid none of their adverts show that their products can get a girl. Look anything that is being sold in India is sold on the following two premises:

1. The product will get the customer a lot of hot skimpy clad women.

2. Kids love the product and their entire childhood happiness depends on it.

I'll elaborate only the first point for now. Everything from ENO to motorbikes/cars to deodorants to almost any weird product you can imagine you buy in India any product may it be a ceiling fan or cement the only thing that qualifies it of being worthy of your wallet is it's surprising ability to be a chick-magnet. You buy this suitcase all the hot women come running to you, you travel in TATA auto (what was it called magic i guess) and you'll find true love with a hot girl there. See everything eventually in the Indian advertising industry leads you to a hot woman many hot girls. Which if I'm not wrong is a subtle message for sex. So basically all the advertisers are selling sex isn't it? Buy this car, this phone, this watch, this home appliance, this insurance, this coffee, this soft-drink and you'll get unlimited sex. It isn't a bad deal atleast it's better than dying for what's left of Osama bin Laden's gang and gaining 72 holy virgins after death in heaven.

So what's wrong with Apple? They have no Indian ads. There iPhone5 isn't promising me unlimited sex with hot women even when I'll be spending a bomb on it. Naaahhhh... I ain't gonna spend my money on a product that tells no scintillating lies. 


My whole self worth isn't dependent on the phone I carry, well, it depends on how I carry myself with the phone. So if the sole criterion of self worth is a smartphone than I think we are living in a seriously crooked up world. Now most people will say ohh no we don't judge people by their smartphone they own. Well think again :)