Monday, January 30, 2006

Why I don't sign standing instructions

I got a couple of forms from Airtel today. One was a Standing Instruction form that would allow Airtel to charge my Credit Card for all future bills. And in the form is this clause:

I therefore, undertake to unconditionally honour and pay without demure and contestation all the said charges, including interim charge when I am billed for the same by the aforementioned bank.

(splutter, cough) What? You can charge any amount to my credit card, and I can't contest it? Do I look like I was born yesterday?

To those of you who don't know: interim charge refers to a charge made without a bill. They want to charge your card without a bill, and you can't do any-fucking-thing, because you've signed a form that allows them to charge even *their* underwear to your account.

I don't know what without demure and contestation means. What it does mean is that they hired a lawyer who's a fuckhead at english. Or, if this *is* a legally valid term, the entire bloody legal system is screwed up.

Okay, so we're not signing that form. We're referring to ourselves in the plural, but that doesn't mean we weigh enough for more than one person.

The other form is the ECS form - that allows them to automatically charge my Bank Account. That contains:

I/We hereby unconditionally and irrevocably authorize Bharti Tele-Ventures Limited, to raise debits on such regular payments as referred to above against the above mentioned Bank Account two days earlier to my bill due date.

I am disturbed by the phrase unconditionally and irrevocably. Because in the notes section, they write:

Maximum ceiling can be specified.

There's no entry in the form for "Maximum ceiling". And the word unconditionally indicates the lack of such a ceiling.

I have to say though, that this form is not as bad as the Credit card instruction, and does not mention anything about interim payments.

(Additionally, Banks have been known to not honour ECS mandate withdrawal unless you also get the consent of the other party. Meaning, if Airtel service is lousy and I decide to get rid of them, I have to ask their permission to withdraw the ECS mandate. What incentive does Airtel have, if I'm exiting their service? They can stall for a few months for some free money!

Note: The RBI has published a notification that specifically bars banks from requesting the other party's consent. If you're the bank account holder, the bank must respect your wishes if you withdraw the ECS instruction.)

I don't think I'll sign these forms - am quite happy if I'm in the know BEFORE money goes out of my pocket. If I signed, I'll probably never know how much money's going where, and when - meaning increased blood pressure each time I look at my online bank statement and see an unknown item in there! Also, I can plan for a contingency by staggering payments if I'm short - and choose to pay by Credit card on a particularly bad month. (Gives me another month free credit)

Getting linked.

I just found Shanti's post on How to Get on Desipundit for Dummies. I'm going to be the crash test dummy for today and follow all steps required.

I remember, when I was a kid[1], that Indian politics sucked[2]. Indira Gandhi was an absolute idiot, but what else can you expect from a woman?[3] And her son, Rajiv, was totally off his rocker, like all congressmen, totally and completely logic challenged.[4] At the time, the western media berated his actions, but for all the wrong reasons.[5] And yet, the "phoren" dude would revel in "Indianness", which they equated to dressing in saffron, smoking pot and having tantric sex [6], which were as fascinating to me as an adolescent.[1 again] It used to get my goat, the first time I went abroad, that people asked me if I owned an elephant.[7]

"Yeah, of course, we all do. We get an elephant each on our tenth birthday", I used to say, and they would know NEVER to mess with Deepak Shenoy.

Deepak Shenoy

That's the name they feared.[8]

"Don't mess with Deepak Shenoy", they'd say to each other when they passed each other on the street.
"Who's Deepak Shenoy?"
"That bloke, there"
"He's Deepak Shenoy?"
"And I'm not to mess with him?"
"Okay, I won't mess with Deepak Shenoy". [9]

[1] to [7]: Rules on the page you didn't go to, you lazy bum.
[8] : Segue.
[9] : Not big letters, but surely all over the place.

Well, I don't expect to be linked to. (And I expect to have ended that sentence with a preposition.)

Was fun writing it, though.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Vasantahabba 2007: how we can make it happen.

As we all know by now, Vasantahabba 2006 has been cancelled for lack of funds. Vasantahabba 2007 is still a possibility though, and I had written to Lynne asking her what we can do to help.

I just got a reply from Lynne Fernandez at Nrityagram. Here's the content:

Dear Deepak,
Thank you very much for your email - when I get letters like yours, I feel
motivated to continue to work and make Nrityagram and Vasantahabba a
I welcome any kind of help and support - let me know how you can help and we
can take it from there.
And yes, we accept any kind of donation, no matter how small! After all we
have been built on donations and goodwill.
The sponsorship for VH is approx 20 lakhs (it was this year - next year we
may have to increase depending on prices). And we can get sole sponsor or
co-sponsors. as long as we cover the cost, am fine - we usually do not make
any money on it or even attempt to.
More soon.
Can we all do something to aid Vasantahabba next year? The sponsorship is only Rs. 20 Lakhs, around that of a college festival nowadays! And for this amount, we get an amazing coterie of top class artistes, dance shows, music and the unforgettable ambience.

Many of us have been there, and if they'd charged an entry fee, we would surely have paid. If I paid 1000 rupees for a concert, I would surely pay that for a Vasantahabba! All we have to do is find 2,000 such people who will pay 1000 Rupees each. Is this possible?

Or, can we get our companies to put in Rs. 10,000 each? An Infosys could easily sponsor the event completely, and so can the IBMs, Googles and Microsofts. But can we get to them?

I'm willing to give it a shot.

I will find out what we must to do, who can we send cheques to, address details etc. I'll post the answers here, very soon.

Meanwhile, feel free to contact Nrityagram or Lynne at:

Tel: +91 80 28466313 / 4
Email: nrityagram AT

Friday, January 27, 2006

The best blonde joke. Ever.

You've read blonde jokes. And you've read Blonde Jokes.

But you haven't really read Blonde Jokes, until you've read The Best Blond Joke.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hairless and why.

Gawker again, in his goose egg blog, says there's a reason we're not hairy. Because we've evolved. Because we wouldn't get laid if we were hirsute, which comes from the words hir, meaning "People" and sute, meaning "that look like magnified armpits".

And I commented:
Oh but you have not met some people I know, who, in the hair department, have refused to evolve, but have succeeded in getting noogie, largely because of the concept of:

Arranged marriages.

Yes, getting laid was not a problem because someone in the Indian 'we know best' department long back said "No looking before marriage", and then beat his chest and roared because, let's face it, unevolved habits die hard.

So your average hairy male gets snogged and hay-romped, because, let's face it, she's not going to see anything before the marriage, and even most of the "after" because of purdah/aanchal/sehra/whatever. Also proves why a lot of women sprout like, well, whatever sprouts very often.

But there's a reason mythological figures like Ram, Laxman, Arjuna and all that were sorta less hairy. They had to go through svayamwars.

(Let's just say there was enough extra-marital stuff happening to these guys also. Kunti said the Pandavas were born from a "boon" granted to her. Ahem. Probably a less hairy boon than others.)

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me. Why are Indian men ugly? Again, arranged marriages. No woman in her right mind would choose hairy gorilla man for her husband if she didn't have her father telling her it's either hairy gorilla man or lack of external body parts. Consider now that most Indians have nearly all body parts intact. What option would she have chosen?

Maybe there's a reason they call him a "BrideGroom". He was for the Bride to Groom.

You may think: Maybe it was the inbreeding. Because that would only account for the insanity so prevalent in Indian society that people, even today, honk their car horns for no practical reason. Earlier, when there were only villages and farms, they used to ring the cow's bells, because, let's face it, it was quite lonely out there and even cousins were in short supply.

So while hair loss is an evolutionary thing, we stymied it with our ancient rituals. But when we do let Darwin take the course, men would become bald. And then, as we noticed in our world famous "One Night SHIFT-2 the Call Center", women would "reject" them unceremoniously, since arranged marriages allow people to now see photos of their US based to-bes, and talk to them on the phone.

You have to have the right amount of hair. Baldness is good only when applied to chin, cheek and nose. Not good when applied to skull, eyebrows, hands and legs.

"Chest" is debatable. Salman Khan has no hair on chest. But also the process of evolution in his case, has been debated to not have gone the distance. Or maybe the subject in question evolved from a non-hairy animal, such as the Crab.

Oh, we've received an legally notarized email from the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Crabs.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Fatta maro-ing pays off big.

When I was a kid, I used to maro fattas. Which means, for those of you ignorant of Delhi lingo - I used to make up things. We all do, and if you didn't you're fatta maroing. But I was really bad. Because I would actually believe these things happened to me. Fairly innocent stuff, like saying I saw Maine Pyar Kiya ten times when I only saw it thrice and nearly puked the third time. Or that I was an investigator in the lines of Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw or Bob Andrews, and had a secret van hidden in my backyard. I really did believe them, and that's what scared me. Was I schizophrenic? How many points is "schizophrenic" in Scrabble?

When I grew up I realized I was fatta maro-ing big time. I guess I still do, like when someone asks me what I do I say I'm a para-sailer on holiday. But now I know I'm faking, and I still think it's a bad thing, even if it does lead to some extremely funny situations.

Turns out it (fatta maro-ing, not parasailing) is not such a bad thing, and it can actually earn you big ticket money. Someone named James Frey farted about his entire past in a book called A million little pieces. The book is supposed to be a "memoir" (pronounced "mem-oo-vaary-stupid-pronunciation") which comes from the words mem, meaning "People" and oir which doesn't mean anything.

The book contains details about Frey's years as an alcoholic and drug addict, and provides blow by blow accounts of his interaction with the police, running a cop over, getting beaten up, arrests for drug activity, time in jail, etc. etc.

It sold 3.5 MILLION copies. Let me put that in perspective for you: In India, selling 5,000 copies of a book makes it a bestseller. 3.5 million is greater than the sales of ALL Tarla Dalal books put together, and she's India's biggest selling author (in terms of total number sold). Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, which contains, among other things, a term called "locusts stand I" which has been etched into my brain and I hate her for it, has sold one million copies.

Even Oprah Winfrey said this was a good book (A million little pieces), but that is a woman who does one hour TV shows on people who can't throw away stuff. If that's good enough for a show, her idea of a "good" book is perhaps equivalent to "better than toilet paper. Has real words."

So it turns out this book is a big fat lie. Evidence provided by an article in The Smoking Gun reveals that most of the facts in the book were WILDLY exaggerated, and some were figments of imagination. Frey never ran a cop over, didn't spend any serious time in jail, didn't really get a root canal without anaesthesia and didn't even get the sports facts correct.

Frey of course says no dude, you must be smokin' something, cos it was all true...really. Really really. I mean it was. Or maybe it was not. Maybe I made some things up. Maybe my name isn't even James Frey, it's Gaylord Fokker. That's why I was in jail, that big black guy...ok, I'm back to fatta maroing.

Oh, and you must read through some humourous rants on Frey's action, at The Onion, Neal Pollack's site, and Tim Carvell's post.

The crux of the matter is: There's no problem if the book has fabricated stories. But that classifies it as "fiction", meaning lots of buyers would not buy it because they are into reality shows ONLY and can't handle it if someone's lying, except if they lied to protect their friends who cried with them when they said "deal" when they should have said "no deal".

What it really means is: Fatta maroing pays. Only if you classify it as the real thing.

Monday, January 16, 2006

An Indian stand up comic

...who is really funny. Check this video out. Awesome stuff, I like this guy - "Russell Peters". He absolutely trips on Indians and it's riproaringly funny. I don't mean funny like Hahaha funny. I mean funny like "hawhawhawstoppleasestopyourekillingme" funny.

Vasantahabba 2006 is cancelled.

I just called Lynne Fernandez at Nrityagram, and the show is off. Vasantahabba for 2006 has been cancelled. Lynne said the event was cancelled for lack of sponsors.

What is Vasantahabba? It's the "spring festival" (Vasant = spring, Habba = festival) held in Nrityagram, Bangalore. Held on the first saturday of February (usually) - and yes, spring starts THAT early here - Vasantahabba is a festival that brings together cultures from everywhere. There are performances by Odissi and Bharatanatyam dancers, both from Nrityagram and outside. Some of India's best musicians and vocalists have performed at the habba, including Kadri Gopalnath (Sax), Tavleen Singh (Tabla), Pt. Vishwamohan Bhat (Mohan veena) and so on.

And there are the Rock and Fusion bands too: In 2004, Indian ocean performed at the Habba -as the Dawn show (the last show, typically starts at 5 Am and goes on till dawn) I was there till 7 AM until the final beats of their amazing music rocked the exhausted-but-loving-it crowd.

There have been qawwalis, and there have been jugalbandis. And there has been the most amazing feeling of being there, the woodstock of Bangalore.

Read more at:

and of course:

And now, this year, Vasantahabba is cancelled for lack of sponsors.

I feel really bad about this. Vasanthahabba is an AWESOME event, and I am feeling lousy that I couldn't help. I spoke to Lynne and she said preparations start at least 6 months in advance - so 2006 is out, but maybe 2007 can be in! Can we go all out to support it for next year?

I've asked Lynne what we can do. She told me to mail her and she will add us to the mailing list, and for next year, when they're looking for funds, we'll know well in advance.

Here are the details:
Tel: +91 80 28466313 / 4

I have already asked Nrityagram if people can send in personal donations. I will send in my bit, and I request that all those of you who want to keep Vasanthahabba alive, please do help in whatever way you can.

Sorry for sounding all sentimental. This is my olive tree and it hurts to see it dying.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The word is out.

Yes, it *is* out, folks. The 2005 Indian Weblog Results are here. Tons of very good folks won. Tons of very good folks lost. And a full 892 people cast their vote.

Excuse me for choking.

Eight Hundred and Ninety Two? Only?

No offence to the awards and the people hosting them, but is 892 reflective of the popularity of the Indian blog-o-pyramid? (No, silly, it's a different geometric object. blogododecahedron.) I mean that's like a small gully in mumbai. Or a 5 minute passing-through count on Brigade Road, Bangalore. That's how many people voted for the Best Indian Blogs.

To me there are two serious issues related to this.

Some people have said, in the past, that the Indian blog + i (sphere) is very complex. Yes, it is. But they said more. They've said: Blogs come of age, Bloggers as public regulators, Blogs are a warning to newspapers, etc. If only 892 people are voting in what seems to be the premier awards for Indiblogging, there's no way this "medium" has reached anywhere significant. I'm sure some of these blogs get more hits per day than 892!

So perhaps blogging isn't as widespread as some people think - or threatening the "main stream media". In India, I mean.

Secondly, The awardees deserved their awards, quite rightly so. But it's not in the right spirit for them to win an award where so few people vote. I maintain, these are excellent blogs - those that won and others that were nominated - but still, winning in such little franchise elicits little more than a "*shrug*". You won, but only 892 people cared enough to vote at all, and you got the highest percentage? It's less of a blogosphere (Ed: Finally!) than a blog-o-tiny-little-dot.

Think about it. If someone wanted to take this away from the good bloggers, then rigging 225 votes with REAL people ain't that difficult. One wouldn't even need to create false email ids, just do the mail-the-address-book-and-pass-it-on trick.

(I'm not in the best Indian Blog award nominees. And I'll probably never be, because I largely write as a narcissistic endeavour, not a journalistic one. I don't write very well, despite my wanting to believe the opposite, and I'm very aware of that.)

Oh and I didn't vote. Not because I didn't want to. I just couldn't deal with one blog winning when I really like so many of them. Maybe almost everyone's like me. Other than, of course, 892 people.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Why Osama Bin Laden is not hanging out in a Bangalore Mall

Someone recently told me Mr. Laden could've shaved his beard and "hung out" in any big city in India. Well, I just found out something:
  • He is 6 feet 4 inches tall. Perhaps more. (Source: FBI)
Chances are you'd notice someone that tall in India, and someone will go "hey...Hang on a minute!". In some Bangalore malls, there will be people bringing their kids to see him. Cops of course, won't recognize him because they're too busy clearing the traffic so that some VIP could travel faster to the airport.

Funny thing about that page. It says "Usama Bin Laden is wanted in connection with the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. These attacks killed over 200 people. In addition, Bin Laden is a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world.".

No 9/11? Perhaps the entire FBI web team is out there looking for this guy. And they want a single update from "Most Wanted" to "Now Dead".

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Today I saw...

...A Reva owner who has a driver. The Reva is an electric car which is enormously spacious if you have the surface area of a mosquito. This is how it looks:

I saw this woman in a Reva driven by a DRIVER, and she was in what one might call the back seat, but more well known as "part of the car we didn't know existed". The pomposity of having a driver - or the convenience of it - somehow makes up for not having enough space to sneeze.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The flight to Germany.

Chennai. That's the Amazing Airport of Today.

My wife went to Germany on Sunday, and for lack of a direct flight from Bangalore, she had to go through Chennai.

The Bangalore airport is less equipped than the Majestic bus stand. (Which, for you non-aware readers, is the central bus stand in Bangalore, and currently has more people than Texas) There is too much traffic both inside and outside, and the politics of the airlines inside is visibly annoying.

Flight out of bangalore, Air Sahara, 6:40 pm.

Bangalore, 5:30 PM, Cubbon road: It's a bloody sunday but there's still a jam. Driver (read: me) takes most unknown road with passenger mentioning that she wants to take the flight to Chennai, not drive there. Driver ignores comments and heads towards goal of reaching airport before 6 PM.

6:00 PM: Reach airport. Find out that queue for baggage x-ray is encircling the airport - er, no, but it was massive. Noted that Jet Airways XRay machine was empty. (Do the airlines own the xray machines? I thought it was a police or CISF job, not an airlines, so why the difference?)

6:10 PM: I find parking after burning down someone's car (just kidding). Sunila (the passenger in question) (also, my wife) finds huge queue at check in counter too, but it moves fast.

6:15 PM: I walk into terminal to see a sea of people. Sunila is arguing with the check in counter, who says it's too late since flight is just about leaving (Note: Boarding not yet announced)

6:30 PM: Boarding pass usurped. Goodbyes happen. She's in the security area, where half the population of the world is currently located.

6:55 PM: Sahara has not yet announced Boarding. Sunila checks to see if the time on the ticket is for 2006, just in case.

7:05 pm: Ok, we're boarding. Like Normal people, everyone tries to push everyone else out of the line or "jugaad" in. Sunila watches because she's not the Normal sort.

7:15 PM: Sahara has given her a first class seat. A big thank you, inspite of the HUGE mess at the check in counter. Maybe that's what prompted it, but gratefulness is there nevertheless.

7:45 pm, Chennai airport: Air conditioned terminal. You can "feel" the aircons, and in the sweltering heat it's a lifesaver. She has a neck problem, so asks an airport employee to help with the baggage. Two burly men arrive, and carry the baggage to the international terminal. (Thank you, whoever you are)

8:10 pm: In international terminal. Shops everywhere, and lounges. Places to sit down and wait. Places to eat, even though a sandwich plus coffee = Rs. 80. Clean environment and very little noise. The loos are clean. Announcements are crystal clear - unlike Bangalore, where they use a hissing snake to make announcements.

9:50 PM: Lufthansa says there's too much baggage, off by around 1 kilo. Which is how Lufthansa is, we expected that. Sunila then goes to an "excess baggage" counter. I've never even heard of this kind of thing in other Indian airports! (someone tell me I'm wrong) She finds out that all she needs to discard is a packet of Tea - which finds its way to an old man who asked, very nicely, if he could have it instead.

1:50 AM: Goodbye said to Chennai airport.

My wife wants to move to Chennai just because of the airport. I don't think she's going to like the auto drivers very much though. But the airport, she said, was world class.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The curious gawked.

Yep, there's another fundoo post at The Renegade of Junk. Which, by the way, is a phenomenal blog of the really unknown indian in Pittsburgh, PA.

And he mentions that he saw the IIPM full page ad a few days ago. I saw it too, on TOI, Bangalore. Been there, done that, and seen the siloutted ponytail. The things they do to make him look fair as in "fair and handsome", which might actually be an IIPM initiative.

The ad contains an article by Lassi-Malai-maar-ke Chaudhuri. About "Why IIPM's Course is Superior to Other MBAs", and Mr. Gawker has a good handle on their salient points.

Anyhow. Here's what else is wrong with the ad:
11) Malay says the IIMs "raised their fees to exorbitant levels" (or some such thing) to compete with the ISB style wham-bam-thank-you-maam MBAs. And in this IIPM is somehow supposed to be the saviour of the masses. Someone forgot to mention that IIPM's fees are around the 8 Lakh area which makes IIM sound like a non profit organization.

12) The IIMs are restricting supply of good MBAs, and therefore, keeping MBA salaries high, says Mr. Chaudhuri (Senior). Duh. So my guess is, IIPM is doing its bit to REDUCE MBA salaries by getting out MORE graduates, who have just paid 8 Lakhs for a non-recognized degree. If salaries get lesser, Mr. Chaudhuri will become Late Mr. Chaudhuri.

13) IIPM is inviting everyone including IIM candidates for interviews to jobs there. I think the salary package might go like this:

a) Basic package: 8 lakhs (for IIM people 3 lakhs, since we're covering only your MBA fee)
b) Study allowance: None. Why bother.
c) Allowance to prepare papers for publication in IIPM web site or magazine: Rs. 100,000.
d) Allowance to prepare papers for publication in academic indian or international journals: What are you smoking, dude.
e) Rights to advertise your degree: Rs. 15 for IIPM students, Rs. 100,000 for IIMers. (No allowance for Islamia Institute of Management)
f) The feeling of telling the world we have an IIMer working for us: Priceless.

14) IIPM has a 1944 hours of coursework versus some 1500 or so for IIMs. And EVEN lesser for ISB, Hyderabad. They're all bastards, he seems to say. How can you not have enough hours of coursework? IIPM believes in putting more and more coursework such as:
- create arbitrary blogs linking to IIPM site and praising the ponytail
- vandalize wikipedia content where IIPM ain't cuttin' edge

I think what they mean is "of-course work". The art of breeding yes-men.

Apart from this, I believe IIPM is a fine institute except it hasn't been fined yet. (Insert laugh track here)