Jewish = Muslim

Indian hardliner ‘nationalists’ have plumbed solidly for Israel in the current conflict.

Palestine deserves destruction, they say, because it has housed terrorists who have been annoying Israel for decades. Israel has been patient. No one can say Israel has not been patient. But now it has struck, and it will rip threats to its nation out by the very roots, and stomp on them till they’re dead, dead, dead!

Now, it so happens that Palestinians are mostly Muslims. And that is what triggers the orgasm of approval from our ‘nationalists’, not their sense of fairness or balance. Indian ‘nationalism’ exists superficially to combat ‘western culture’, but it’s roots draw true sustenance from Islamphobia, and fear of Muslim dominance in the state. So for them, Muslim-bashing anywhere is always good news. Couched in Israel-Palestine dynamics, they see the constant ‘oppression’ of a patient India by rabid Pakistan, and wish fervently that India would ‘teach a lesson’ to Pakistan in similar fashion.

There is just a tiny problem with this analogy, and it is this: Palestinians ‘terrorised’ Israel because Israel was carved out of Palestinian land without their consent, to house a specific religious minority.

Much, in fact, like Pakistan was carved out of British India – in the face of immense public opposition (and suffering).

So when Indian ‘nationalists’ go berserk with righteous joy at the suffering of Muslims, and defend Israel’s violence fervently, they should remember that in their tortured “West Bank is the subcontinent” analogy, Israel is really Pakistan.

The delights of your ignorance, my fellow patriots. The delights of your ignorance.

The Answers in the Catch

Having just found my father’s tattered copy of Catch 22 in our last unpacked box from home, I have been catching up on my Joseph Heller after years.It is wonderfully liberating to read a book from an era where depth of thought was not alienated from wit, and wit was not alienated from a social conscience. I look around at popular culture today, and find far too many fart jokes getting in the way of pro-people critique of power, which is what comedy is supposed to achieve politically. Instead, people are now convinced that comedy is ‘just a joke’.

Chew on this bit by Heller. He is a very funny writer, and Catch 22 is a very readable book, but it also raises questions we’d do well to think about from time to time.

“Nately was instantly up in arms again. “There is nothing absurd about risking your life for your country!” he declared.

“Isn’t there?” asked the old man. “What is a country? A country is a piece of land surrounded on all sides by boundaries, usually unnatural. Englishmen are dying for England, Americans are dying for America, Germans are dying for Germany, Russians are dying for Russia. There are now fifty or sixty countries fighting in this war. Surely so many countries can’t all be worth dying for.”

“Anything worth living for,” said Nately, “is worth dying for.”

“And anything worth dying for,” answered the sacrilegious old man, “is certainly worth living for.”

Review: Chili’s, Powai, Mumbai

ZOMATO RATING: 1 out of 5
‘sup Chili’sPowai, you’re pretty shit.We went to Chili’s once before, just the partner and I, because we miss Mexican somethin’ fierce, and were willing to settle for Tex-Mex. However, that first time, there was too much salt in every dish, and smallness of the portions crossed over from ‘we’re too posh to give you eough to eat’, to ‘we’re mean little fuckers’. So we decided, sensibly, never to return.

Except that a few months down, a group of us local folks were taking an out-of-town friend for dinner, and when he spotted a Tex-Mex joint, he totally had to have it. We hoped Chili’s had received constructive feedback in the meanwhile, and had improved itself.

As it turned out, no, it hadn’t. And the positive reviews that I see now on Zomato makes me think it’s not completely Chili’s fault. People are so delighted to be fleeced by yet another American fast food chain that they don’t apparently care what they actually stuff down their gullet.

Here’s a synopsis of the food from our second visit:
1. The three-item combo platter was downright miserly. I was embarrassed on behalf of the management for serving THREE SMALL PIECES OF EACH ITEM in a combo platter. This, when they charge similar prices to TGIF, which serves a small mound of each in its own three-item combo platter. “Is this all there is to the dish?”, we asked the waiter, who looked at us for a second, and then turned and walked away.

2. It gets better. Cross-checking with the menu, we realised that this shameless rip-off of a dish was actually short one promised bowl of sauce. We called the waiter back, and taking care to be polite and friendly, requested the missing bowl. He nodded and went off. This process had to be repeated thrice before he gave us the bowl of sauce. It might be that Chili’s wasn’t trying to save a precious quarter cup of sauce by stiffing us; they were merely careless. In which case, I’m just as disgusted, because oversight shouldn’t be part of a premium (and premiumly-priced) chain’s delivery.

3. In sight of the lousy combo platter and the enchilidas two of our group had ordered (they were of the generic plastic Boston/New York Tex-Mex kind that all my Californian and Mexican friends scoffed at), we cancelled all our other orders, except the plate of ribs that was apparently already being cooked.

4. The ribs actually were fairly good, though the BBQ sauce was downright shop-bought. When a Tex-Mex place opens shop, one expects better than a sauce one can buy just down the street at the supermarket.

Before leaving, we asked politely for the response forms. The waiter and greeter were a little reluctant, but we remained friendly and firm. If we like the concept of a place but not the execution, then as a food-enthusiast and consumer, I think we should provide feedback to the management. We left a polite, constructive note, and left. Within ten minutes, we got a call.

“Madame, you were not even at Chili’s, how can you leave a negative review?” demanded a voice.
“Is this the manager?” I asked.
“Madame, were you actually at Chili’s today?” the voice insisted.
“Yes, I was”, I said. “And we didn’t have the best experience.”
“Sorry ma’am”, the voice said, “we don’t even have a reservation in your name, how can you be here?”
“Is this the manager? Would you like me to come back and show you the bill Chili’s just generated?” I asked sternly.
The other side disconnected the phone.

So, in conclusion, and to return where we began: ‘sup Chili’s Powai. You’re pretty shit. Goodbye, and I suppose, good luck.

An Eulogy to Canary

The Brazil team this last semi-final was a tattered version of it’s earlier self, and I had no great hopes of it. Earlier, despite it’s shaky performance, I had hoped the final might be Brazil vs. Argentina, with Neymar on one end and Messi on the other, but once Neymar went down, I lost all hope for Brazil.

Still, the twenty minutes of pummelling they received from the far better coordinated German team took my breath away. There’s losing, and there’s utter destruction and humiliation. For those vital minute (and also later in the game), Brazil seemed to have become detached, barely-animated zombies, more intent on ball-watching than ball-playing.

This is a brief summary of my Twitter feed during the match, published as I watch Argentina vs. Netherlands from the edge of my sofa.

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Harry Potter Growed Up

Buzzfeed has an article today about the ickle Potter-film babies and their grown-up faces. Take a look for yourself, but in my opinion, apart from Draco Malfoy and Neville Longbottom, ALL of these lucky folks were better looking as children. Radcliffe as a boy is absolutely adorable! I want to pull his cheeks and give him (a thin slice of) my apple pie! And I’d probably take Granger book-shopping and become her favourite badass aunt.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariellecalderon/harry-potter-cast-then-and-now?sub=3380363_3288887

http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariellecalderon/harry-potter-cast-then-and-now?sub=3380363_3288780

Nosy Neighbour Tales

I found this lovely little anecdote on Reddit, to which I have recently become rather addicted (anything text-based usually has my obsessive adoration).

India is a land of nosy neighbours, but alas, they can seldom be manipulated like this:

This is a story which my father loves to tell about his grandfather, Ted, a man who “didn’t suffer fools gladly”. This took place some time around the 1960s.

Ted had an absolutely insufferable neighbour, Maureen, a woman who liked to peer out of her window, over the garden fence and into his kitchen. She did not do this secretly; she would often address Ted if they met in the street and make comments about what she had seen.

“Oh, Ted, you really should mend those pyjamas you were wearing yesterday evening. There’s a rip in the shirt and I saw right down it.”

“Oh, Ted, you weren’t depodding those beans correctly yesterday. I can teach you a much better method if you like.”

Tired of Maureen’s meddling and the lack of privacy he was suffering, Ted formed a plan. A few weeks later, he went hunting with his friend and came back with a brace of pheasants. Leaving his curtains wide open he began to pluck one, very tediously, very slowly, making a complete hash of it. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Maureen watching him. He could also see her frustration building.

The worse he plucked, the more frustrated she became, until she could take it no more. She stormed from her house and knocked on his kitchen door. When he let her in, she grabbed the pheasant and declared “THIS is how you do it properly!”. She plucked all of his pheasants for him and left with her nose in the air. He did this a few times over the coming weeks with different kitchen chores until she realised what he was doing and stopped altogether, never to meddle again.

“And that is how your Great Grandad turned obnoxiousness into free labour.”

If only, eh?

World Cup 2014: Suarez Throws Uruguay Out

Or so he will, if clear video evidence of him head-butting and then biting Italy’s Chiellini emerges. Suarez has been banned before for biting – he’s something of a habitual biter, the little bastard – and if it happens now, Uruguay will be out of the ‘Cup before you can say ‘overgrown toddler’.

I started watching the Italy vs. Uruguay match from the second half today, and the play was rougher than I had seen so far. The ref needed four pairs of eyes to keep track of everything that was happening. It was like the football version of a reality TV show, violence and bitchery all around while everyone tried to go one up on the others.

I must confess, it influenced me a little. In fact, I think I might have inspired Suarez to bite Chiellini.

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