Dear Know it All – Being on the wrong side of offside

Welcome to yet another edition of ‘Dear Know it All'(or DKIA as my millions of readers like to call it). I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to my millions of readers(have I mentioned them before?) for the slight delay(six months) in getting this edition out. So hold on, sit tight, and say goodbye to those pseudo-know-it-all hacks that you may have turned to in the interim.

Our first question comes from a cricket fan who finds himself lost in the football fever that has gripped the nation. Very current-affairs and all:

Dear Know-it-all,

I am an honest, god-fearing, hard-working and simple cricket fan. My life was going absolutely brilliantly – I was the life of every party with my abundant knowledge of cricket trivia. People were always in awe when I rattled off scintillating facts like the number of times Sachin Tendulkar has been out on 17, while playing with his collar up, in the second innings of a match, which started on the third Monday of a month. But off-late, things have changed. People don’t seem to be interested in listening to my detailed analysis of Sachin and Dhoni’s favourite nursery rhymes, and how they’ve applied the learnings from them to improve their cover-drives. All they want to talk about is football and some guy with cleanliness issues(messy, I believe he’s called) and Ronaldo(who seems to have made a comeback after fixing his tooth and having grown some hair – people have conveniently forgotten that Sehwag and Bhogle were the pioneers in that field). I decided to watch a game or two but I was extremely disappointed by what I saw. How can I ever get behind a game where mastery over off-side play is considered to be a bad thing? I am losing friends at a faster speed than Ravi Shastri’s tracer bullet and I’m very unhappy. Please help.

– feels like the perpetual thirdman in this cricket match called life

Dear feels like the perpetual thirdman etc. etc.,

This is an extremely serious epidemic that has plagued the cricket-buffs in the country. The ICC has sponsored a lot of research programs to find a permanent cure, but they’re no closer to one yet. One home-grown solution that seems to have worked in alleviating the associated stress for some people is to lock oneself inside a room for a month and watch that channel which shows Sachin making his Sharjah century, all day long. Chanting ‘Whadddaaplaaayaa’ in Tony Greig’s voice seems to bring relief too.

If you absolutely must go out and mingle with the football fanatics in this period, it is advisable to take proper precautions which include memorizing a few phrases:

‘Cricket has been become so commercial! Everything’s fixed!. That’s why I switched to watching a proper sport like football when I was 4.”

“Baichung Bhutia is not the only good player that India has produced, okay? There’s also that guy. You know who I’m talking about!”

“Brazil are favourites. But I wouldn’t discount Argentina,  Germany, Italy, Uruguay, Cameroon, Ghana(just list the names of all the teams that are still in the running). This world cup has been so unpredictable!”.

If all else fails just scream the following every couple of minutes:

Is the referee blind??! That was clearly not off-side!”

And now for the most important tip of all – while bluffing your way through these conversations, it’s very important to remember that Manchester United is not playing in the World Cup. Many a reputation has been sunk that way.

You’re welcome.

 

Dear Know-it-all – Summarising Shakespeare’s comedies and the perils of eloping

Hi there. Welcome to yet another edition of Dear know-it-all. The column where I try to pretend to give a damn about your various ‘problems’. Luckily, I’m getting pretty good at it. The first question for today is something I often wonder about, before going to sleep everyday too:

Dear know-it-all,

What is the gist of all of Shakespeare’s comedies? Please summarize in 300 words.

– it’s due tomorrow

Dear it’s due tomorrow,

Look under your bed for me, will you? See that brown paper bag? Pick it up. There should be an envelope inside that. Found it? Good. Now open it with your hands. Yes, it’s empty. But wait a little while.

Just a little longer.

A little more.

That should be long enough. Do you feel a sharp pain in your palms? Yeah, that’s because of the poison the envelope was laced with. You have 20 minutes to reach the hospital. Good luck.

Oh, and never send me your homework questions. It upsets me.

P.S.: You have a nice house.

P.P.S.: Don’t use your car. I think you have four flat tires. And the brake fluid may be missing.

He’ll be okay. The hospital is only 19 minutes away from his place. The next question comes from a woman with a sadly all-too-common yet heart-wrenching story:

Dear know-it-all,

I’ve been in a relationship with my friendly neighbourhood druglord for the last 3 years. He is also from a different caste and community. We had decided to elope last week after confessing our love to my parents. Imagine my shock when my parents accepted my boyfriend with open arms.  I had planned the elopement with great detail and was looking forward to the excitement, drama and controversy. The airline refused to refund my bookings too. How could my parents do this to me? What should I do next?

– nowhere to run

Dear nowhere to run,

My thoughts are with you at this difficult time. I know how much effort goes into planning and organizing a successful elopement. Parents sometimes forget how it feels to be young and in love. I would advise you to try and highlight your boyfriend’s various vices to them at any given opportunity and hope that they eventually come around. It would help if he can show them the impact that he has on society every single day. These things take time though and will require you to be patient. If all else fails, you should contact the local branch of your city’s moral police and ask them to intervene. They will surely help turn your parents/society against you two. All the best and do keep us posted.

It’s such a shame that this kind of stuff still happens in our country in this day and age. Oh well, that’s it for another edition of Dear know-it-all. It’s always a pleasure to answer your questions. Please keep sending them in. Remember, we only accept telegrams now.

Dear Know-it-all – The accent and changes to RTI

It’s time for another edition of your beloved column. Let’s face it, you can’t really do without me. I should probably check to see if I can claim this column as a tax deduction under 80C.

Our first question comes from a gullible reader who has fallen prey to yet another Internet hoax:

Dear Know-it-all,

I went to the movies with my friends today. We only had two options at our local theater – The Conjuring and Chennai Express. Since we were in the mood for some scares, we chose to see Chennai Express. I recently received a forwarded email which mentioned that anything Deepika says in her Tamil accent, when played backwards, reveals Satanic messages which affect the viewers subliminally. Is that true?

– living in fear

Dear living in fear,

Don’t be silly. It’s common knowledge that you don’t need to play her dialogues backwards to hear those messages.

It’s like no one has even heard of snopes. The next question comes from a self-proclaimed Indian patriot. Yeah, one of those guys:

Dear know-it-all,

Why is the government trying to push the changes to the RTI act? Does it think that all Indians are idiots and will let them do it?

– A true patriot.

Dear true patriot,

I don’t know about other Indians being idiots, but you certainly are one. Can’t you see that the call for amendments to the act has finally united all the political parties to fight for a common cause? Even the Independence Day speeches could not do that. I say it’s absolutely worth it even if takes a Right To Information Pact(see what I did there?) to get them to act together for once.

Dear Know-it-all,

I’ve heard rumours that the recent cricket series between India and Zimbabwe was fixed. Was it?

– A cricket fan

Dear cricket fan,

You’re right, that series was fixed. But now how you think – there were no towels or other signalling infrastructure involved. After making some detailed inquiries which included some frenzied Googling and asking Prabhakar to shoot some grainy videos, I’ve come to the inevitable conclusion – all the games were computer generated by the BCCI(I think Randy may be involved too). Now before you dismiss my claim citing the Law of Averages(even I have to be wrong one day), just answer the following question – have you ever met anyone who has claimed to have seen that particular series in person or on television? Exactly. Also, repeated attempts to get any information from Kohli who was the ‘captain’ for this ‘series’ were met with non-committal responses like ‘Who are you and what have you done to the real milkman?’ and ‘What are you doing inside my fridge?’ and ‘No, I will not give you my autograph on that!’ I rest my case.

That’s it for yet another edition. Just remember what a wise person once said before hitting that send button – ‘There’s no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid people who ask said questions.’

Politicians ridiculed for thali-gate awarded honorary Doctorates, forgive nation for outrage

Mumbai, 29th July 2013.

In a surprising turn of events, the two politicians involved in thali-gate have gone from being the butt of a nation’s jokes, to being international heroes. The Indian Institute of Physics(IIP) announced in a press conference today that they have decided to confer an honorary doctorate in Physics to Raj Babbar and Rashid Masood for their discovery of time portals.

An artist’s rendition of what the entrance to the time portals might look like

“I’ve been having meals for Rs. 12 in Mumbai for as long as I could remember and was completely taken aback by the nation’s outrage at my statement. When Dr. Masood mentioned his 5-Rupee meals in Delhi I knew that something wasn’t quite right. While discussing the issue over our favourite TV show, Dr. Who, it suddenly hit us! We had stumbled upon time portals and had been eating at restaurants in the past. It was so obvious we were surprised that we hadn’t noticed it earlier. We contacted the IIP with our theory, and they confirmed it soon after. The doctorate was a pleasant surprise.” Dr. Babbar explained.

“We were very excited when Dr. Babbar told us the theory and immediately dispatched two of our best physicists to the locations. The results clearly proved that they had stumbled upon time portals, leading to the past, in Delhi and Mumbai. All this while, they had been eating at restaurants in 1943 and 1952 respectively. ” Dr. Jain(the dean of IIP) said.

“The last week has been very traumatic for both of us. I think the McBabbar jokes on Twitter were in bad taste and were very hard to digest for Dr. Babbar. Things had gotten so bad that we had to avoid walking past dark alleys for fear of being pounced upon by an answer-demanding Arnab Goswami. Some people would say that the nation owes us an apology, but we have chosen to forgive and forget.” a relieved Dr. Masood said.

Asked for his reaction to the confirmation of the discovery, Dr. Babbar said, “It was overwhelming relief followed by a sense of overwhelming responsibility. We could have kept the discovery to ourselves, but I immediately told IIP that we had to share it with the world. Babbar likes to sher, I said. Heh, Heh.”

The party celebrated by having a Rs. 2599(inclusive of taxes) buffet at the Taj. When asked why they couldn’t have catered the meal from the time portals, the spokesperson replied, “The one in Delhi is only active from 6-10 PM and we couldn’t find any volunteers to venture out on Delhi’s streets at that hour. And unfortunately, the one at Mumbai is submerged under water for the foreseeable future.”

Disclaimer: The entire article is a work of fiction. Delhi’s streets are only unsafe post 7 PM.

Cup Le India! India wins the Twenty20 World Cup

What a game! It was a fitting finale to a tournament that’s succeeded in totally rejuvenating the game of cricket. Half a billion fans from the sub-continent got to see what was arguably the most topsy-turvy India-Pakistan encounter ever.
There really were no losers today – both teams gave it their absolute best and anyone could have won the trophy. India eventually won it because they got their basics right – they held their catches, hit the stumps when it mattered and most of all bowled to a plan. RP Singh and Irfan Pathan’s disciplined bowling took the game away from Pakistan’s grasp. I don’t remember ever seeing the Indian bowlers rattle the stumps of so many batsmen in a single tournament. Gautam Gambhir probably played the most important innings of his career so far – a level headed 70 which helped India reach a respectable total. Pakistan bowled well and would have considered 155 a very gettable score. Imran Nazir’s blitz at the start almost took the game away from India and the direct hit from Uthappa that sent him to the pavilion changed the course of the match – and this match changed course as frequently as a drunken biker on glycerin! Every single player contributed to India’s victory – something that’s begun to happen very often in Indian cricket since the youngsters have arrived. The game was never short on drama. Just when India seemed to have got the match won, Misbah and Tanvir exploded into a flurry of sixes – four on the trot which got them within 12 runs of the Indian total with one over to go. A lot of people would consider Misbah’s shot inappropriate but no one can even come close to estimating the kind of pressure he was under. He played the shot he thought would clinch the game for Pakistan and unfortunately for him, it didn’t work out. Another day and it could have been Pakistan’s game. That’s the beauty of Twenty20 cricket – you just don’t know whose day it’s going to be.

No one thought the Indians had even a smattering of a chance to win when the tournament began. But they showed that a team could achieve when it plays together.
The Twenty20 World Cup was everything the 50 overs cup wasn’t. It didn’t go on for eternity, it was unpredictable, and most of all – it was lip-smacking, slog-sweeping, stump-smashing, nail-biting fun! New heroes were made, new strokes were invented, new field placements were discovered, but most importantly a new zing was injected into the game. The format is here to stay and so are the thousands of new spectators it has attracted to the sport.

The messy state of BMC workers

A shocking article that appeared in the Times the other day, appalled my friend and I to the core.
According to the latest data released by the BMC courtesy of the RTI act, twenty five BMC conservancy employees die every month on an average due to the inhuman work conditions they are subjected to! These include the municipal sweepers, the nullah cleaners, the garbage collectors, among others.Twenty five people! That’s twenty five families whose lives are changed forever each month. That’s twenty five lives that could have been saved if the state had done its job! That’s twenty five times we fail as a country as well as human beings each month.

Most of the employees do not have access to elementary equipment like gloves or facilities to bathe after they finish their jobs. These workers are exposed to the deadliest kind of filth and disease everyday. Studies like this prove that this plight is shared by cleaning staff all over the country.
To top it all, they are subjected to humiliation by everyone around due to the stench that stays with them the entire day.

A little search of our own brought up this interesting petition filed by the various rehabilitation organizations in 2004. It asks the Supreme Court to abolish the manual scavenging of garbage. It has been two years since the petition was filed.

How can we, in this day and age, subject our fellow human beings to such horrifying torture? India is one of the few countries in the world that still allows the practice of manual scavenging to continue.

We need to do something about this and we need to do it now! The blogging community needs to take up this cause and bring the plight of these helpless workers to everyone’s notice. We need to ensure that this is not forgotten as just another piece of news. We can’t afford to let them down again.

My friend Pankti has done quite a bit of research on the matter and you can read her views here.

For more information on how you can help, contact the Safai Kamgar Parivartan Sangh (the body which represents the BMC workers) at +91-22-24102694.