Friday, March 28, 2014

Part One: The Mausoleum

It is the darkest hour of the night. In the city of Karachi, a young security guard stands in the shadows of a white marble mausoleum, surreptitiously smoking a cigarette. He cannot believe his good luck.

Generally, his duty at night would be to patrol the perimeter of the compound. But the old man who normally guards the mausoleum offered him four cigarettes to swap places for a couple of nights. When he asked why, the old man whispered that he kept hearing strange noises from inside the mausoleum, when of course there was no one inside. 

The young security guard had heard from the other guards that the old man was a bit of a fool. He drank all his life, and now he's gone mad in his old age, they said. But when the old man produced the four cigarettes, he readily agreed to the swap. 

So here he was, relishing the first of his cigarettes. It was a good brand too - the kind you would only get as a bribe, but could never buy for yourself. He had to be careful though not to be seen, because it was forbidden to smoke near the mausoleum. This was a bit unfair, he thought. It is true that one should respect the dead, but the resident of the mausoleum had himself been very fond of smoking. He had in fact been his country's greatest and most famous smoker. The guard grinned and raised his cigarette-hand in salute towards the mausoleum - this cigarette is in your honour, Jinnah sahib!

To be continued.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why I stopped going to the mosque...

I begin this post in the name of Whitney, PSY (Gunggam) and Lana Del Rey, few of the most googled names so I can revive this bloody half dead blog!

Having grown up in Saudi Arabia, through the 80s, 90s, and the new millennium, I have seen the virgin desert turn into jungle of concrete, marble, granite and glass.

These are natural progressions which many of have already read about Saudi Arabia –the result of nature’s gift to this land –oil and religious tourism. The majority of these ignorant citizens are blessed, but they don’t know how to count those blessings. That would be attributed to lack of education –while the petro dollars are used for mosques, palaces and Bentleys. But they lack the education to appreciate and value these luxuries.

However, today I want to share my thoughts on the title of this post. The mosque. Yes, the divine place I stopped  going to in the country which is home of Islam and the last Prophet. Three exceptions to the above comment. The two holy mosques in Makkah and Medina and Friday prayers. Because I respect my father, hence I have no choice but to join him on these occasions plus I am the sole designated son/driver at home.

There are more mosques in Saudi Arabia than there are pubs in UK. That’s how countless they are every few hundred yards. All praise to Allah. But this post is about mosques and my experience of praying in Saudi Arabia.

But mosques do not serve just one purpose here in Saudi. Prayer that is..

Our Indian brother from Goa – let's say Anthony who decides to convert to Islam because he sees the light. He also uses one these mosques to announce his ‘shahadah’ (declaration of faith) in front of a Friday gathering. All praise to Allah!

 In Ramadan and on Fridays for many fashionably advanced Saudis and non Saudis, your choice of mosque reflects how image conscious you are and of course trend conscious –‘Oh! I prayed at the prince sultan mosque today. No! The Nora mosque is much better –I prayed my Taraweeh (the extra prayers in night in Ramadan) there and the Qari (the one who recites the Quran) has a wonderful voice. Like a virgin choir boy reciting! All praise to Allah for those virgins-yeah baby!!

The 14 Saudis who slammed into twin towers, probably got out of one these mosques after one fine Friday sermon and decided Americans needed to be taught a lesson. Indeed - All praise is due to Allah! And maybe Osama in this case!

On Mondays and Thursdays people gather here at dusk to breakfast following the steps of the Prophet Muhammad who used to fast on these days. Praise the Lord!

So why did I stop going to such a wonderful place of worship and communal gathering?

 Let’s say I realized if I wanted to listen to Hollywood, classical, religious hymns, and Bollywood music I could do it in the comfort of my home or my car. Seriously, there is more variety of music you can hear in the five prayers than you do at home or radio in normal day.

Nokia, Samsung, Apple and other phone manufacturers have managed to do what crusaders and ‘hostile to Islam’ empires could not do in thousands of years. They have brought music into Islam and Muslims place of worship without a fight while making a buck at the same time. Yet sadly my Muslims brothers embrace this desecration without giving a second thought to it.

I have heard the soundtrack of American Beauty blaring loudly while I bow to Allah in Sajdah in the second unit of my prayer. I ended up with a picture of Kevin spacey in mind smiling up to the rose petals falling on his face and of course the hot cheer girls in the film. This was in Makkah in front of Kaaba.

As I bow midway with my hand on my knees –half way through the prayer – I hear Vivaldi’s four seasons from a Nokia phone – right in front of the house of prophet –where he is buried with Abu backer and Omar.

I am supposed to say as a friend says ‘Lahore Valquat’ –its actually’ La howla wala Quwata Illa billah! ‘I seek refuge from Allah’ whenever something blasphemous or shameless is written or said. But hey this is the fact!

As I end my prayer, in the first mosque of Islam –Qubaa –I hear a famous Bollywood tune ‘kitni bechain hoke tumsey mili’ – translated effectively into ‘How I writhe in horniness as we meet’! Spoken by one lover to another and probably penned in Urdu by Gulzar sb?

People spend more time making feature length videos of themselves walking through the  interior of grand mosque and Prophet's resting place, than actually spending time to contemplate their reasons for paying respect to the Prophet or what their belief and faith is all about.

Muslims, regardless of nationality have blasphemed and desecrated their own faith, religion and places of worship. Educated yet illiterate – they buy $800 phone but they don’t know how to switch it off or make it silent. Such is Jahilia –the state which Muslims are in. Sticking ‘please switch off you your mobile phones’ posters is not going to help. Doing things consciously; will! When you enter the mosque to do your duty as if it’s a burden –then do it consciously at least. Leave your music outside!
We can read, but we don’t comprehend. We hear, but we don’t listen. I would have preferred not to go to God’s house or Prophet’s mosque, were it not for the parental pressure from my father. I was born a Muslim and Islam was my religion. Now I am Muslim by choice but Islam is not my religion. It is my faith in Allah and the Quran from which I read and choose not to go to the mosque. My faith will not be reduced by not going into the dogma and rituals of Islam. Nor my faith will be any better if went to the mosque for some ring tone aerobics.

I conclude this post in the name of Sunny Leone and Salman Khan. One being the most googled and the other being public property in India, in order to revive this bloody half dead blog! 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Faiz, the poet of nowhere

This Faiz Ahmed Faiz hysteria with most Indians, gay Pakistanis and confused firangis resulted in me exasperatedly asking my father (the average expat desi not illuminated by the literati) if he ever related to Faiz during his younger days and his poetry; he responded;

Gulon mein rang bhare baad-e-naubahaar chale
Chale bhi aao ke gulshan ka kaarobaar chale

'Thats the only piece of poetry apart from 'mujhsey pehli si mohabbat' that i remember from him only because Mehdi Hasan and Noor Jahan made the two songs popular respectively.

He was gay poet who was popular with communists and special class of rich people who had all the time on their hands.

I think Iqbal, poet of the East was a better poet and if main stream is concerned Ahmed Faraz'.
With due respect to the intelligence of Faiz fans, Faiz is known to have stood up to corrupt regime and is said to have swore in Gen Yahya's office while waiting for him with the words 'tell that dog to hurry up' - if anecdotes are to be relied upon.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hollywood style Incest

A female genetically modified creature created using the DNA of a female scientist, whose husband (the father effectively) ends up shagging the clean shaven bald creature, followed by the creature getting a sex change procedure due to genetic defect and returning dad's sexual favor by impregnating the donor herself i.e. It's mother, who is paid handsomely to deliver the patented creature who is the child of the mother's child...

That Splice from Hollywood for you...not even worth watching on DVD..

Monday, September 06, 2010

I miss this.

Monday, August 02, 2010


Rating: R18+

Disclaimer: Apologies for the extreme profanities but heard first-hand over a period of one month (compiled in one paragraph) and convey the complete meaning. People with head and heart problems resulting from profanities should avoid reading any further. The blog and its contents occasionally reflect other people's opinion and donot always represent the opinion of the writer's who are simply sharing these comments for the reader's entertatinment and insight.

In this instance 2/3 bloggers agree with the comments below. One of them probably lost money on betting and the other had to clean his ear wax after a month of listening to these comments. The third one is on leave.

Original Rant in Urdu
Behnchod, bloody shit admi, bhosri ka. usko akal nahi hai
madarchod - zaroor chakka marna hai -ground pey shot nai laga sakta!?
mein coach hota tu bat ka danda uski gaand mey ghusata aur wohi danda usko sunghata!!
kuttay ko bhi akal ek dafa ghalti kar kay.
kamazkum defend tu karey..dusri ball pey shot marney ki kya zarurat hai!?
mey uski jaga hota tu head down kar kay single ya double leta...
lekin nai! stupid admi...dheet ki tarha chakka marna hai..bloody chakka!
darpok admi captaincy chor kay bhaag gaya..mard ki tarha challenge kabool karey!
hijray ki aulad!

Attempted translation in English of the above Rant..

Sister-f*****, bloody shit man, asshole - doesnt he have brains!
mother f***** has to hit a six everytime - cant he hit ground shots!?
If I was a coach, I would have shoved the end of the bat up his ass and made him smell it!!
even a dog has brains after making one mistake.
Atleast defend the frikkin ball, why hit a six on the second ball!
If I was in his place, I would I would take single or double!
But no! stupid man, has to hit a six like a mule! bloody sixer (akin to circus joker)
coward man runs away from his captaincy..cant even face the challenge like a pathan man!
son of a enunch!

--A die-hard agitated pakistani fan commenting on Afridi and team's performance in last few test matches in Great Britian.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Billu Barber --- alternate endings

Irfan Khan plays Billu, a poor barber who lives an uneventful life with his wife and two children in some north Indian village until Bollywood superstar Sahir Khan --- Shahrukh Khan --- comes to the village to shoot a film. Billu had mentioned to his family that he knows Sahir. When his children talk about their father's friendship with the star, word spreads throughout the village. Virtually overnight, Billu becomes the center of attention, and everyone wants him to introduce them to Sahir. While Billu refuses and downplays the friendship, the villagers persist, until they accuse him of lying about his friendship. Even his family begin to doubt his character and integrity, but Billu remains quiet about the nature of his friendship with Sahir.

So, how does this pickle end?

If this was Satyajit Ray classic, the truth would have become known in such a fashion that only Billu's family would have found out about it. And their reaction to the truth would have been noted in a few glances, with hardly a word uttered.

If this was a great Bollywood movie, the movie would have ended with Sahir Khan's speech at the local school, when the truth is revealed. The last scene would have been Billu leaving the school, with the villagers' reactions left to the audience's imagination.

If this was a good Bollywood movie, it would have ended with Billu's children apologising to the father.

But this otherwise interesting movie had a typically terrible Bollywood ending where Sahir and Billu are reunited.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

'Indians' Down Under

'Indian' students in Australia have attracted a lot of attention lately. There has been racist violence --- see this Economist artcle --- as well as fairly dodgy practices in Australia's education exports industry --- see here. Ironically, much of the violence has been perpetrated not by 'Anglos', but by youths of other ethnic groups. And the students are often ripped off by members of their own communities.

Education is a major service export for Australia, and these scandals pose a major risk to the sector. That's why the country's Prime Minister made formal statements in the parliament promising an end to the attacks, sent a high level delegation to India, and received the Indian Foreign Minister earlier this month with much pomp and ceremony.

Of course, attackers don't ask the victims for their passports --- they don't discriminate on which side of the Radcliffe Line their victims comes from: all Desis are 'fair targets'.

The number of young Bangladeshis in Sydney and Melbourne run well into five figures, and they too have faced similar troubles. It's however difficult to imagine the Australian government reacting that strongly if the attacks were solely against Bangladeshi students.

I guess it's about time India's neighbours benefitted from its hegemony.

Meanwhile, when Lateline, a major Australian current affairs talk show, ran a story on this, they got two people who do not subscribe to any form of the 'Indian' identity.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dark Side of the Moon

Earlier this week, Moonlanding anniversary was everywhere. Now, I was born many years after the event that made Ray Bradbury suggest be the beginning of a new global calendar. So I have nothing to say when old people talk about ‘oh I remember….’ But I do remember 1 April 2003, when I first watched the Dark Side of the Moon — not the Pink Floyd album, but the French mockumentary.

Titled Operation Lune in French, the premise is that Moonlanding was a hoax, and what the world saw on 23 Jul 1969 was shot in the set of the Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, and for this, Uncle Sam gave Kubrick some fancy camera, but when CIA operatives associated with the project started dying mysteriously in places like South America, Kubrick got spooked, and that’s why he only made two movies in his last two decades, and all the big guns in Nixon-Ford administration, Kissinger, Alex Haig, Rumsfeld, they were all in on it.

On that evening, I got home from work and switched on the TV. Muhammad Saeed al-Sahaf was telling us that the foreign invaders were drowing in their own blood. I flicked it to CNN — but how would I know if they were telling the truth? I flicked the channel again. Something was in French. Ah, the French would tell us the truth, I thought (I was young, and naive). What was this, I wondered! Kissinger and Rumsfeld admitting to deception? Whoa! This is cooler than the other side of the pillow!

I highly recommend it.

I also remember the last time I watched 2001 in a theatre. It was the Summer of 2001. We went to a midnight screening. During the scene where the hominid tribes scream at each other over the water hole, my friend yelled out — Jews and Palestinians. Everybody had a good laugh. I highly recommend that movie too. If you find it hard to follow the birth of the star child, a kolki full of mari jane will help. If that proves too hard, penadol with red bull can give you a solid bender.

Friday, May 08, 2009

On the White Tiger

I finished Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger in two nights. Let me begin with some quick observations.

  • The prose is very simple and crisp. There is no Rushdiesque long sentences. But it is still quite evocative.
  • Adiga describes poverty very accurately, but without sentimentalism or development porn. I was reminded of Satyajit Ray’s movies.
  • However, unlike Ray’s rural movies — and very much like his urban movies — Adiga has a strong, albeit subtle, subversive tone. I like subversion.
  • I am never going to be able to look at a driver the same way again.

Recommendation: yes.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

She didn't see

The valleys of northwest are ruled by madmen who care more about the length of one's beard than anything else. In the delta of the east, paramilitary revolts and kills the commander and wife. In the vast democratic experiment in the middle doesn't exist in the huge swatch of territory ruled by Naxalites.

Meanwhile, a singer passes away. A singer who wanted to see the promised day:

Jab zulm-o-sitam ke kohe-garaan rui ki tarah ud jaayenge,
Hum mahkoomon ke pau tale, jab dharti dhar dhar dharkegi…
Sab taaj uchale jaenge
Sab takht girae jaenge…
Uthega An-al-Huq ka nara jo mai bhi hoon aur tum bhi ho…

Radicals of left and right are trying to realise their utopian vision in Desh. History warns us against grand experiments, but the status quo is not sustainable either.

Iqbal Bano didn't see the promised day. Is it too late for us too?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Out of Pakistan

I'd really like to watch these Pakistani classics.

poster International Gorillay. A criminal mastermind sets out to destroy Islam by luring Pakistanis into gambling, dancing, and all manner of sundry sins. He tortures his prisoners by reading to them aloud from his blasphemous novel. The brave mujahedin out to stop him are disguised in Batsuits; and in the end, a quartet of levitating Qurans shoot laser beams into the nefarious villain's head, causing him to explode. Oh, the villain is named Salman Rushdie.

Zinda Laash. A black and white thriller from 1967, sort of Dr Jekyll and Mr Dracula. The first and only Pakistani film to earn the label "For Adults Only," after the board of censors accused the film of being "corruptive and evil."

Aurat Raj. A group of women discover a bomb that switches gender roles and seize power by setting it off. In this brave new world, women wield machine guns and flick their cigarettes with an easy flair, while men twirl in slow motion and swing their hips coquettishly.

Zibahkhana. Five teenagers set out to watch a concert, but find their van break down and get set upon by flesh eating zombies, a ghoulish hitchhiker, and a blood-soaked, burqa-wearing killer. The writer-director's next project is apparently a genre-busting women-in-prison meets porn-factory meets monster-spectacular named Jhabarjhilla.


More here.

Akbar isn't impressed.

Sick piece of movie. About zombies wearing salwar kameez and a senseless plot with amateur acting. The acting/story line is so bad- its hilarious. Not even worth blogging.

Monday, February 23, 2009

How often does the best picture win?

So the Academy Awards, Oscar, is done. Slumdog Millionaire won. But was that the best movie of the year? How often does the year's best picture actually win the Oscar? Put differently, how does posteriority treat an Oscar winner? And what's the metric of 'best' anyway?

These questions come up every year. You see, Oscar, like the Nobel for subjects other than natural sciences, or the Man Booker or Pultizer, involves a lot of politicking and lobbying and broader socio-cultural trends. With the 'emergence of India' being a favourite talking point of the global cognoscenti, it may not be all that surprising that Slumdog won, just as it may not have been surprising to see Arvind Adiga's White Tiger win last year's Booker. More about the book some other time, but was Slumdog the best movie of 2008? Let's be more specific, was it the best movie available to the general filmgoing public in the Anglophone world in 2008?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Lazy Days


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mrs Inspector Amar Nath

When Yossarian, who had not been heard from for years, learnt that yours truly was getting married, he wrote in to offer congratulations. "I presume an arranged marriage with a Sikh girl, are you getting a dowry?" he asked in his usual charming manner.

Yossarian always had a certain world view, one in which Bengalis solely ate fish, where a girl who smiled at you wanted your affections, where the Inspector Amar Naths of the world got arranged marriages with Sikh girls and rediscovered their religion. And in which Punjab's only culture of course was agriculture.

Anyhow, who am I to argue about the validity of one man's veltenschaung over another's? Thus I wrote back:

Thank you Yossarian, yes an arranged marriage, with a good Gursikh family - farmers. They are from a village near Bhatinda, and as she is an only daughter, I am going to get 10 acres of land and 51 cows in my dowry. Don't get me wrong, they are not unsophisticated villagers, they are quite prosperous - it's just they are into agriculture. Also they are naming a tractor after me. A bit religious too. I had to promise on our holy book I would never smoke again, so Akbar old mate, no more Sheesha for you and me. You would be suprised how much alcohol people from villages drink. One grandfather is a priest at the village gurudwara, so lot of pressure on me to become more religious. The other grandfather was an Army colonel, with a very Anglo-Jat moustache pointing upwards and all.

Fought in 1971 war by the way Anthony - he was really excited that I too was going to Dhaka! Apparently he was the legendary Shahbeg Singh's underling - when they were training the Mukti Bahini. He cut his beard and moustache and put on a lungi and stank of fish as part of his disguise. This was all told to me over a Scotch whisky.
Actually, the whole village has a very interesting history. Bhatinda is in the south of our Punjab, a region known as the Malwa. The more fertile and better irrigated fields are North and West (especially in what is now Pakistani Punjab). So 60 years ago, this area was barren and largely uninhabited. When Hindu and Sikh refugees came across at the time of partition, there was not enough (and similar quality) land to give them to compensate for what they had left behind, so many of the refugees had to make do with land in Malwa. This includes my wife's family.
One thing the administrators tried to do was ensure communities were settled together where possible. So this village consists entirely of Sikh and Hindu refugees who came over together from their home in Pakistan. In fact, they have named their new village after their old home in Pakistan - the village's name is Naya Toba Tek Singh.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Indian awful conspiracy: Part II

The Nation likes to describe itself as "the most credible of English newspapers in Pakistan". Among their credible and brilliant insights is one by columnist Humayun Gauhar that "the militants were neither Pakistani nor Muslim but Hindu and Israeli".

This view, credible and brilliant as it may be, is not unique in Pakistani media. Earlier in the week, Frontier Post had an article with the headline:

Mumbai terror attacks :
Further evidence of the Anglo-American-Mossad-RSS nexus . If the link does not work, try getting to it from here:

the Indian awful conspiracy

Pakistan foils Indian conspiracy
  Updated at: 0740 PST, Sunday, December 07, 2008  
  ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Intelligence agencies once again made unsuccessful, the Indian awful conspiracy against state of Pakistan.

According to details Pakistan intelligence got confirmed report about Indian conspiracy that Indian navy had planned to kidnap Pakistan cargo ship carrying cement for Sri Lanka.

Intelligence sources said that Indian Navy had hatched a conspiracy to place arms on Pakistani cargo ship to put blame of smuggling of arms and ammunition on Pakistan government but Pakistani intelligence agency stopped that cargo ship at Karachi port.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Pakistani Ambassador admits that LeT received training and support from ISI, and then lies about LeT continuing to operate in Pakistan

Or so I claim. Shoot me down, here's my semantic argument:
CNN's "Late Edition"
BLITZER: A lot of intelligence, counter terrorism experts are pointing a finger at this group, Lashkar-e-Taiba. And I'm going to read to you from "The New York Times" today because I want you to respond. "Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has a track record of attacks against India has received training and support from Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, according to widespread intelligence reports." That was in today's "New York Times."
Read: LeT has received training and support from ISI
HAQQANI: Lashkar-e-Taiba is a group that has been banned in Pakistan. Of course, all such groups, al Qaeda is a banned group but that doesn't stop al Qaeda from operating. The important thing is that the government of Pakistan will make sure that any group or individual that is found to be involved in this or any other act of terrorism is subjected to the same process that these groups have to be subjected to under international law. Let me just say one thing.
Read: Haqqani implicitly admits the accusation is correct (by not denying it outright). He has to, he has himself written in the past that ISI supports LeT. All he says is that LeT is banned, which is not the question he was asked.

BLITZER: Was this group, though, created by Pakistani intelligence?

HAQQANI: Well, there's no way for me to know who created it. But we do know that it existed in Pakistan and operated in Pakistan until it was banned.
Read: Haqqani seems to suggest LeT stopped operating in Pakistan after it was "banned". This is incorrect. LeT was banned in Pakistan in 2002. Writing in 2005, Haqqani himself said "Pakistani authorities have been reluctant to move against either Lashkar, which continues to operate in Kashmir, or Jamaat-ul-Dawa, which operates freely in Pakistan." He also says that "Saeed (LeT's founder) remains free and continues to expand membership of his organization..."

The Ideologies of South Asian Jihadi Groups

Husain Haqqani Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, April 2005

The most significant jihadi group of Wahhabi persuasion is Lashkar-e-

Taiba (The Army of the Pure) founded in 1989 by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed.

Backed by Saudi money and protected by Pakistani intelligence services,

Lashkar-e-Taiba became the military wing of Markaz al-Dawa wal-Irshad

(Center for the Call to Righteousness).


the U.S. froze Lashkar-e-Taiba's assets and called for it to be banned, Saeed

changed his organization's name in Pakistan to Jamaat-ul-Dawa (the Society

for Preaching). Pakistani authorities have been reluctant to move against

either Lashkar, which continues to operate in Kashmir, or Jamaat-ul-Dawa,

which operates freely in Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ul-Dawa

scaled down their military operations against India to help Pakistan honor its

commitments to the U.S. and India. But Saeed remains free and continues to

expand membership of his organization despite divisions in its leadership.

Under U.S. pressure, General Musharraf placed Jamaat-ul-Dawa on a

watch list in November 2003.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Akbar is incommunicado

In the aftermath of the US election, we received the following press statement released by the Al-Akbar movement - the one promising revolution in Pakistan or Khaleejistan.

Akbar will not be checking his e-mails indefinitely and will be disassociating with all blogs and bloggers. He will be checking the colour of Barack Obama — it’s light brown, not black — and to eliminate all witnesses to the Obama-McCain bets with Anthony. Nara-e-Akbar Akbar Akbar.

Dear reader, stay tuned for this developing story.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama Wins! Akbar Dances!

As per the terms of the bet between Anthony and Akbar, the world now waits for this historic moment: our very own Akbar on youtube, draped in the Indian flag, dancing the bhangra, and shouting Democracy Zindabad!

So you can appreciate the sweetness of this moment, you should understand that Akbar thinks it his patriotic duty to direct all his farts in India's general direction, and considers Democracy to be American Imperialism not suited for the genuis of the Pakistani people. We are not sure about his Bhangra skills either.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

If I ever have grandchildren...

...I hope they will be bastards.

No man or woman should be forced to bow to false Gods, or fill in forms in triplicate for bastard bureaucrats. And there is no other way.

A pox on all marriages!

I hereby certify that whoever thought this is not an insane way to register a marriage is an idiot and a lunatic. I also certify that I am not an idiot and a lunatic, as required by the forms referred to in point 1.

Q1. What is the procedure for Solemnization of marriage / Registration of marriage?
i. Procedure for Registration under HMA.
ii. Procedure for Registration under SMA.
iii. Procedure for Solemnization of marriage under SMA.

Q. Where do I have to go and during which hours?
To the office of Additional Divisional Magistrate in whose jurisdiction any of the husband or wife resides, during 9.30 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. on any working day. The office is located in the DC office complex on main Mehrauli Badarpur Road and near Anupam Appt. for assistance of public, reception counter is manned during the official hours for proper guidance. Necessary forms can also be obtained from Reception Counter or can be downloaded from this site.

Q. Which papers/documents/fees, do I have to take with me?
1. Hindu /Special marriage Application form duly signed by both husband and wife. 2. Hindhu/Special marriage Documentary evidence of date of birth of parties (Matriculation Certificate / Passport / Birth Certificate) Minimum age of both parties is 21 years at the time of registration under the Special Marriage Act. 3.Residential proof of husband and wife . 4.In case of Special Marriage Act, documentary evidence regarding stay in Delhi of the parties for more than 30 days (ration card or report from the concerned SHO). 5. Hindu marriage Affidavit by both the parties stating place and date of marriage, date of birth, marital status at the time of marriage and nationality. 6.Two Hindu/Special marriage passport size photographs of both the parties and one marriage photograph. 7.Marriage invitation Hindu marriage card, if available. 8. Hindu marriage If marriage was solemnized in a religious place, a certificate from the priest is required who solemnized the marriage. 9.Rs. 10/- in case of Hindu Marriage Act and Rs.15/- in case of Special Marriage Act to be deposited with the cashier of District and the receipt should be attached with the application form. 10.Affirmation that the parties are not related to each other within the prohibited degree of relationship as per Hindu Marriage Act or Special Marriage Act as the case may be. For details of such relationships Click here. 11.Attested copy of divorce decree/order in case of a divorcee and death certificate of spouse in case of widow/widower. 12.In case one of the parties belong to other than Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh religions, a conversion certificate from the priest who solemnized the marriage (in case of Hindu Marriage Act). 13. In case one of the parties is a foreign national, no objection certificate/marital Status certificate from the concerned embassy.

All documents excluding receipt should be attested by a Gazetted Officer.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A-A-A bets on the US election

The brothers are all barracking for Sen Obama, but both Amar and Akbar have bet on Sen McCain against Anthony. This post records the bets.

Back in May, Anthony said: Well, Obama has won the nomination. And markets are giving him a 60% chance of beating McCain. I'm happy to give anyone a 3 to 1 odd that Obama will win.

Amar accepted: Alright, I accept your offer of 3 books vs 1 book. Suggested limits on cost of books -up to 25 pounds or A$ equivalent as price of each book (ie 75 / 25 pounds maximum stakes). I fully expect to lose the bet, but the odds you offer are better than the market's.

Akbar had an alternative offer: If Obama wins, I will take you Khalil Jibran restaurant in Sydney red light area. If McCain wins, you will stop supporting democracy and become pro-dictatorship in Bangladesh (evidenced by public declaration of this in atleast one article agaisnt democracy).

Anthony's counteroffer: I can go to a Sydney restaurant whenever I want, so you've to offer something more. Here is what I suggest - if Obama is the next president, you'll drape yourself in the Indian flag, dance bhangra and shout democracy zindabad (it will have to be witnessed by someone credible, or videotaped or something). If Obama is not the next president, I'll give you an anti-democracy article.

Akbar: Man - it's cheaper for me to fly and dine you in the most expensive restaurant than to get my mother to stitch the indian flag! Let's make it more painful for u as well - in the event of McCain winning, you will drape your head and body in a Pakistani flag, and make a video speach against democracy and praise Gen Musharraf and Gen Moeen and post it in A-A-A and other political blogs and facebook. I agree to your Indian flag demand only if you agree to the above.

Anthony: Done.

Here is how the Intrade odd of an Obama presidency has evolved since May.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A-A on Italy's Deshis


I think I have been witnessing, in little visual sightings over 4 years, the rise of the Bangladeshi community in italy. In the early years, they were selling umbrellas and knick knacks on street corners, carrying everything they sold. Then I started seeing them behind the counter in semi-permanent and corner shops, and in restaurants, as waiters and chefs.

Then I saw that some of them had their own small shops, and I even found a place with Bangladeshi candidates for rival parties competing in local elections.

This year, for the first time, I saw that women had followed the men, and I saw families together - man, woman, and little children. These families were not sellling products, they were checking out things like normal family on weekend, and then to cap it all, I even saw overly ghettoised Bangladeshi teens, in expensive sneakers wandering on their own.

I feel like I have seen community evolution in high speed.


My father just picked on any Bengali vendor whenever i was busy looking for a street on the map - one of his ways to keep himself entertained.

He would start off with - Bandhu! kaimun acchen? After the usual Bhalo and Ami-o Bhalo, there would be the usual bari kothaye and questions about Italy and waghiara waghaira, and directions - which bus to take etc.

Some would be arrogant and say their bari is Rome and dont know any other bari (bari = home), and dad would nod his head disappointingly and mutter - arrogant bastard, forgetting his roots.

Near the colloseum, dad combined an old Pakistani film dialogue into his own - Yeh woh jaga hai jahan Rome kay zaleel kuttay kharey hokar tamasha dekhtay tey. I responded - Ab Bengali kharey hotay hain!!

We bought coconut slices and fruit salad from a Bengali vendor. In the heat the taste was heavenly.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

The most interesting looking chef I ever saw

This photo is from the BBC website. The blurb reads: Sweet makers prepare special pastries in Damascus, on the fourth week and final of the Muslim fasting month Ramadan. (Photo: Bassem Tellawi/A

Somehow they seem to have overlooked that the Chef is carrying an absolutely gigantic tray of sweets, has a ferocious face and scary moustache, and just in case you had any doubts about whether you enjoyed his cooking, he also carries a pistol! Has there been a more colourful chef? Damn those western cooks who swear a bit and think they are men, this cook is a real man's man who will kick their gym-going ass! He swears even more, loves to resort to violence and he doesn't take rubbish from noone! And when he gets angry, he takes his pistol out and fires in the air! Woohoo!

We need more colourful people like this in our lives.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gens M

One gone.

One more to kick out.

Hum dekhenge.

Inquilaab Zindabad.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Jesus look-alike

This looks like Jesus, doesn't it?

Well, perhaps not entirely! Poseidon, Greek God of the Sea, and perhaps one of the inspirations for our modern image of Jesus, seen flaunting his stuff in an ancient mosaic at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Monday, July 28, 2008

On Jodhaa Akbar

Just in case you are not familiar with the world of Hindi movies, Jodhaa Akbar is one of the most expensive movies ever made in India. Set in the 16th century, it is based on Emperor Akbar's relationship with his Rajput wife Jodhaa Bai. This is my take on the movie. Short version: it lacks direction. Long version, read on.

Let's begin with the things that I liked. I liked the language. I had to use the subtitle to understand many of the Farsi words. But I did get the feeling that this is how the elite of North India might have conversed in the Sultani era and beyond. Also, listening to the Rajput’s Sanskritised Hindi and the chaste Urdu of akbar, one appreciates just how syncretic Bollywood is. And that’s a good thing. Bollywood for a peaceful Desh!

I also liked the costumes and sets. Again, I got the feeling that this is what people in 1550s India (not just the rich, but also the men in bazaar) wore, and this is what the place might have looked like.

And at 200 minutes, the movie didn’t really sag. The set, costume and dialogue kept it going. But the core of it — the love story between the Emperor and his wife — was at most 100 minutes. So the makers of this movie had two options they wasted: they could have done more with the love story, or they could show more battles and politics.

Amar or I would have liked the second option. As it were, the movie didn't have much of politics. It didn’t show any of Akbar’s reign. And I think that was good. The historical basis of the events covered in the movie are 6 months of akbar’s 62 years of life. I’m glad that the movie didn’t explicitly say that Akbar was a great king because of his marriage to a Rajput princess.

In fact, it almost certainly got the history wrong. For one thing, the 6 feet plus Roshan is a very improbable Akbar - according to the historical record, Akbar was a rather short fellow. But the movie doesn't claim to get the history right. It is billed as ‘one narrative of what happened’ in those months.

I was rather disappointed about the battle scenes though. I wasn’t expecting Lord of the Rings, sure. But Bollywood probably has reached a stage where we can expect something like Gladiator (the battle between the Romans and Goths). And I don’t think the problem was money or technology. I think the issue was more with direction. Even the one-on-one combats were not anywhere near as awe-inspiring as they could have been.

In any case, packing in more politics and battles probably would have made it a very different movie from what they set out to make. But there is really no reason why they couldn’t have taken the first option.

I think they could have done a much better job with the love story.

Now, romances are hard to do. A love story with a happy ending is even harder — to paraphrase Tolstoy, all happy endings are alike and so on. But even then, one can think of a number of possible avenues not pursued (or not pursued enough).

For example, Jodhaa could have had feelings for someone else, but she’d come to love Akbar: she was engaged, she could have had developed feelings for his fiance — Rai’s debut movie was based on the theme of love and marriage, and that was a great love story.

And if the romance didn't have a third person, then it needed other enemies and obstacles. They could have had lot more court intrigue. Indeed, there was a bit of it, with tensions leading up to the intermission, but then it all fell through.

They could have shown a lot more verbal jousting and battles of wit. Think of Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant in The Philadelphia Story. In fact, Bollywood and Urdu literature have a rich tradition of this. One wonders, why wasn’t more made of that heritage?

I should also note couple of other things.

I was extremely disappointed with the Khawaja song. It's meant to be a Sufi devotional number. The idea is that the song should lead to the listener transcend into some ‘deeper meaning’ and dance away in a haze (I think ganjah helps). I love the genre, whether in Urdu, Punjabi or Bangla (in Bangla they mix Radha-Krishna/Ali/Rasul/pirs/tigers the whole lot — talk about a confused syncretic bunch). This particular song was just boring though.

I liked some of the lesser characters. The guy playing the renegade Rajput prince looks like Amitabh Bachchan circa 1975. Him and the guy playing akbar’s brother-in-law were both impressive. Maham Anaga was also really cool. But the evil mullah could have been a lot more evil.

Finally, having seen Taare Zameen Par, and noting Gowarikar and Farhan Akhter's recent outputs, one must wonder how much of Lagaan and Dil Chahta Hai were Aamir Khan.