Samudra Neelam Bhuyan


Why Pritish Nandy was right to hate Mumbai


This was originally meant as a comment on this blog post by Arshat Chaudhary on “The TimePASS of India“, which itself was a response to Pritish Nandy’s piece in The Times Of India. If you have not read the TimePass of India… I suggest you go read it. Most, especially the older posts, are hilarious.

Hi Arshat

Usually, I love your writing. But this one pained me.

I have lived in 8 cities so far, and I am moving to my 9th in less than 2 weeks. So I do have some experience with different societies and urban culture. And more importantly, I do not have a soft corner for any of them (except maybe Jakarta, where awesome food is very cheap :) )

Also, I don’t give a shit about Pritish Nandy. But I do agree with that post of his behemently.

Here are the points I would like you to consider:

The legal drinking age now has become 25. (source)

Because some people have decided that while you are responsible enough to marry and bring forth your spawn by the time you are 18, you are not to be trusted with a rum and coke until your kids are in middle school. What gave them that right? Why have we given them that right?

Do you really think the license to drink is a good measure? Do you have a license? Have you tried to get one? Why is there a separate license anyways? Why couldnt a driving license be enough? Who gains by increasing bureaucracy? Do we, the people who supposedly participate in the greatest democracy ever, gain? Or are we being systematically looted, with provisions being built in to control every aspect of our lives? And give other asinine people more control over our lives, more strings to pull us by, more tunes to make us dance with?

Strip clubs and dance bars
I would keep them open. I would vote for them to be open. This is not because I would enjoy them myself (I know the trolls must have not even reached this sentence…), but because I believe that whoever works in those professions and establishments, those people AND ONLY THOSE people have a right to decide on THEIR livelihoods. WHY DO WE BELIEVE WE ARE BETTER THAN THEM, just because we are in a cubicle or a chair, and they are on a pole or a stage? What gave us, as a society, that right to judge?

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

– Evelyn Beatrice Hall.

I’d only modify that amazing thought like this: “I disapprove of what you do, but I will defend your right to do it, as long as you are not causing anybody else any harm, mental or physical, and they have a choice to participate or leave at any point of time.”

11 pm deadline for restaurants
Again, why do we assume that we have the right to decide what chefs want (to follow your line of thought) is sleep? Have you any chef friends? Do they all covet the bed so much? Why not let free market forces decide? Let it be open for all. If there are enough chefs who would sacrifice their sleep, work harder than the rest who are sleeping, and earn some extra cash / fame / fortune, WHO ARE WE to deny them that opportunity?

Do you honestly believe that law is for the chefs’ benefit? Or do you think it is another string in our puppeteer’s hands, to pull and make us dance and shake for cash and power whenever desired?

Ministers get preferential treatment
You confused being treated as an equal (and standing in line) with being treated as a suspect (and being frisked). I respect you too much to believe it was intentional.

(I don’t give a shit about SRK being frisked. But APJ being frisked was disgraceful and insulting.)

In general, I am all for humans being treated equally, regardless of profession, or standing in life.
I remember reading somewhere about Bill Clinton standing in line for a doughnut. WHEN HE WAS PRESIDENT. PR stunt? Most probably. But does it show their culture’s values? Absolutely. What do our ministers say about us?

Sex before 18
If two consenting people are indulging in sex, then by all means, enjoy!

Also, why 18? Who fixed that arbitrary number, which decides that one day you are suddenly old and mature enough to partake in sex? If you are 17 years and 364 days, are you really that colossally different from when you are 18?

Stuff you missed (entertainment in general)
Why can’t Mumbai have concerts beyond 10? It disturbs others, of course. What if it were in a sound proof room? Is that even an option? Can 18+ year old adults decide for themselves what kind of life they would like to have? Please?

Did you know that my favourite memories of Mumbai are at the Bhurji Pav wala in Parla, and of Bade Miyan in Colaba? Did you know that both got shut down / beaten up in the last few months? By Dhoble, who was implementing archaic laws? (I actually do not have anything against Dhoble; he’s just doing his job. It is the laws that I am against, and the mentality that having such laws is absolutely fine!)

I have nothing against paying taxes, and have no problem paying them with a smile on my face. But when my money is used to fill the coffers of party chamchas up and down the supply chain, I do sit up and take notice.

NREGA is a colossal waste of our money. Not only it is an extremely leaky bucket, with hardly a trickle reaching the intended section of society, it is fundamentally flawed as a concept.

If you want to create infrastructure projects, use proper equipment. If required, train these people for a month, and see them move mountains (literally).

But generating employment is your end goal, don’t give them spades to dig the earth. Give them all spoons instead.

Hindu Muslim thing
How does banning any art work, whether it is Hussain’s paintings or Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, help the Hindu-Muslim “thing”? Are we as a society really that intolerant?

Oh wait, we are.

All we do is silence people who are different than us, who want different things than us, who have a different take on things, who have a different vision, a different eye.

And how do we solve this problem? Why, bring in more laws of course!

I was really amazed in Indonesia, a country with a Muslim majority, to see a 40 foot statue of Krishna commanding Arjuna’s chariot, outside their national monument. I was even more surprised that their is a huge statue of Garuda in Bali too, outside the airport.

But nothing prepared me for the day when a Muslim guy walked up to me during lunch, and started discussing Mahabharata and Ramayana with me. He knew more about minute details (Nakul and Sahadeva’s stories, which I have not even seen on the TV version, forget the grandma / Amar Chitra Katha version). Apparently, they are all (yes, even the muslims) taught all religious philosophies.

Cribbing about cop who interrupted your party
Coke at his party? Assumption.

They have disappeared. And where they have not, they are hardly used. Almost no green cover in 99% of the city. No birds too.

And just because one area of the city (technically, a suburb, though I don’t care) is green and has a bird sanctuary, it does not justify not having trees in the rest 99% of the city. Powai is the exception that proves the rule.

Hanging on to dear life every day, sweating, being forced to walk 22kms because of rains
You enjoyed all of those? I guess sadism is indeed a natural part of a human psyche.

You can leave at 3 in the night and not be mugged.
But you can step out for a dinner with friends, and have your friends molested, and then get into a fight, and then stabbed to death along with your friend who tried to help you.
Oh wait, I forgot to mention… a 100 other bystanders would see you being stabbed. But nobody would be able to identify the murderer. All were blind(ed?), you see.

Just because Mumbai is better than Delhi, is not a reason to be proud of it. Better than shit is still shit.

Traffic police will let you off if you can speak Marathi
WHAT THE FUCK? How does this even make it to your post? THAT is supposed to be a reason why you love Mumbai? I would be ashamed to be in a city like that!
Police, I believe should be like those in Singapore (absolutely invisible), or Bangalore (super duper fair). Even if I was a Marathi, I would rather have a fair and just society, than one that favours me!

Mumbai is better than Delhi? Yes.
Mumbai is safer than other shitty places in India? Yes.

But does Mumbai have serious problems? Yes.
And does Mumbai have freedom? No.

By ignoring / glossing over the problems that we have, we are as guilty as the people who are actually causing the problems. I hope you see my POV.



How to get murdered in India

  • Are you looking for ways to have your own Wikipedia page?
  • Are you looking for ways to make a positive impact on society, even if it means you have to die doing it?
  • Are you looking for ways to have a lot of people know about you, have candle-light vigils with hundreds of people showing their support for you?

Or maybe you are in the next category of people:

  • Are you looking to kill yourself, without society dubbing you a nutcase?
  • Are you looking to kill yourself, without society dubbing you a nutcase, and without society dubbing your parents complete failures?
  • Are you looking to kill yourself, so that your family/loved ones can collect the insurance money and pay off the bank collection agents?
If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, this post is for you. You who want to die, but also want to reap the benefits of an untimely death. I have taken the liberty of putting together all the options for you.
    1. Refuse a drink at a party to a rich, spoilt brat.
      Bonus points if your murderer happens to be the son of a powerful politician.
    2. Or, even easier, have a relationship with the sister of a rich, spoilt son of a powerful politician.
    3. Fight corruption.
      Although you might need to be a passout from IIT or IIM to be able to get that Wikipedia page.
    4. Refuse to pay for biryani.
    5. Walk in on priests and nuns in a “compromising position”.
    6. Be a girl, and
    7. Be born in the wrong family.
    8. Prevent a 40 year old mother-of-two from being molested.
    9. Prevent your wife from being molested.
    10. Prevent your friends from being molested.
You are welcome.
Update: Apparently, I missed this. No. 11 – Become a toll-booth operator. (hat tip to Ankit Nevatia)

The Stories We Never Hear

I just finished viewing this documentary, about a bunch of elite British Commandos who executed an amazingly brave (stupid?) and strategically incredibly important raid on a dock controlled by the Germans. The raid was so successful because it was “impossible”, and so brave, it has been called “the greatest raid of all time”.

The documentary did increase my awareness of the people who we barely hear about – the people on the front-lines, the ones protecting our borders and our shores.

But even more than that, what struck me was the absolutely unbelievably simple and common lives that these incredibly brave men went on to live. And how easily these men, who are now either dead or in their eighties and nineties, spoke about that night at St. Nazaire, about an extraordinary night that probably definitely changed the future of the world. (more…)

Relation Chips

An understanding of human relationships continues to elude me.

I guess like my friend says, I should stop being surprised astounded at how humans are. They just are the way they are. There is no right or wrong to them, just like there is no right or wrong to a coin toss.

I am having a difficult time accepting this.

I thought I was immune to fluctuations in people’s behaviour, but apparently and obviously, I am not.

As I look back at the relationships I have seen in my life, I seem to have arrived at just a single constant – nobody behaves the way you feel is the ideal way they should. (more…)

Cinderella of India

X: Dude! Did you know about the Manipur blockade?!

Me: Of course! It has been going on for 67 odd days now.

X: Yea? I just found out about it! And to think I prided myself on being up-to-date on world affairs!

Me: Yea, the media has just caught on.

X: Damn man… and here I was more worried about the Gaza blockade!

How does one react, when people are more aware of what is happening in other countries, than they are of what is happening in their own?

How does one react, when people ask if one’s state is a district of West Bengal?

How does one react, when people do not know whether the place where one comes from is a part of India or not?

How does one react, when the history teacher says the reason there is no mention of Assamese or other North Eastern states’ history in the syllabus, is because they are “not important”?


Na’vi and Naxals : Does Pandora (in Avatar) parallel India?

Avatar (2009)


I finally joined the legions of fans that James Cameron has picked up. I do not have any new words to describe “Avatar”, so I will repeat whatever others have said about it – marvellous, path breaking, jaw dropping, epic, yada yada.

But I could not help but draw parallels between what was happenning in the movie to the Na’vi, to what is happenning to the Naxals.


Lessons Learnt – 2009

Would you exchange 2 cappuccinos for peace?

Priyanka Borpujari, friend and freelance journalist, has been working closely with the issue of violence in Chhattisgarh. She is headed to Dantewada district in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh on December 20, 2009. A place which has become a living hell — tribals from 644 villages have been thrown out, some villages have been burnt over 10 times, women raped, murders rampant daily, and where the perpetrators of this might be the state police, through the alibi of Salwa Judum. Why the hell is she going there?


So you want to change the world. Really?

How many of us, at some point or the other, have thought about changing the world? How many have done something about it? How many have said “oh its just too difficult… I will just go have a double cheese burger instead”?

Changing the world is hard work. Heck, its probably the toughest work in… the world. Of course, it is not half as well-paying as, say, investment banking. That Ferrari Spider that you had been salivating after for ages? You would have to salivate after a Bajaj Super now. Probably a second-hand one at that.

So why should we not give up those world-changing dreams to fulfill our desires for something as gratifying as a sports car?


What is marriage?

Marriage (noun)

  1. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
  2. The state of being married; wedlock.
  3. A common-law marriage.

Love marriages around the world are simple:

Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy.They get married.

In India, there are a few more steps:

Boy loves Girl. Girl loves Boy.
Girl’s family has to love boy. Boy’s family has to love girl.
Girl’s Family has to love Boy’s Family. Boy’s family has to love girl’s family.
Girl and Boy still love each other (hopefully). They get married.

- Chetan Bhagat. (except for the part in the brackets. That’s me.)

It seems like I cannot escape it anymore. Half the world is getting married (the rest already are). People are talking about it everywhere I go. People are inviting me to marriages everywhere I go. People are asking me the inevitable question everywhere I go. I of course feel my contemporaries’ kids will be in college by the time I am anywhere near producing a few of my own.