Saturday, February 20, 2016

#MakeInIndia week

It’s been an exciting week for Indian business

(Published today in Business Standard)

Dear World, aka non-Indian Hindus,

As everyone knows, India is business heaven. We don’t rest on piffling perfection, however, and invite you to invest your money in the many more booming opportunities we are determined to think up. Do stop mumbling about Vodafone and check out this very cool lion!

Look, we’ve had a bad few months in the anti-national paid media. There was a bit of bad business with beef. We tanked in Bihar. The Delhi Chief Minister took our raid badly. There was a slight national security cockup at an air base. Then a student called Rohith Vemula offed himself in Hyderabad, and everyone jumped down our throat. The stock market has been feeling poorly, and the rupee… Look, please just give us your money? Just promise to, so that we can put a bit of good news in the papers. Thank you!

We just concluded our huge investment-attracting #MakeInIndia week in Mumbai, and boy, was it a big impressive jamboree. Here’s how it went.

February 13: Inaugural day! The newspapers were filled with Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s tweet from the previous day, saying that we wouldn’t tolerate anyone who chants anti India slogans and challenges the nation’s sovereignty and integrity. This was after some Jawaharlal Nehru University students held a meeting to discuss capital punishment, and a student leader called Kanhaiya Kumar made a heinous speech calling for freedom. Go, Rajnath.

February 14: Day two! Worship Your Parents day was celebrated all over India in the traditional way, with couples dodging policemen to feed each other chocolate and kiss behind bushes, and patriots dragging them out and trying to frogmarch them to the altar. In the evening a huge embarrassing fire broke out on a #MakeInIndia stage. Funny coincidence (funny peculiar, not funny ha ha), a huge embarrassing fire also broke out in Delhi over how we charged Kanhaiya Kumar with sedition, on the basis of… we’ll get back to you on that, still working on it. Also Rajnath Singh said that Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed was behind the JNU meeting. It sounded good at the time.

February 15: Sigh, day three. Turned out the Hafiz Saeed tweet about JNU was from a fake account. How was Commissioner of Police Bassi to know? Still, the anti-national-if-not-terrorist Kanhaiya Kumar, was taken to court, where some patriotic lawyers beat up JNU students and staff, and pro-Porkistan media. Our MLA, OP Sharma, also beat up someone, good for him. What about Hanamanthappa? The media went bananas—the selfish libtards always make everything about them. God, loving your country is politically exhausting.

February 16: Noisy, noisy television debates. Bassi reminded everyone that we can’t just toss OP Sharma in jail just because of a camera lens, we have to look at it from a legal lens. Amazing that we have to point these things out. We’re passing a hat around the office to gift Bassi a spa coupon after he retires.

February 17: Um, so the journos got beaten up again today, and the Supreme Court is pissed off, and we’ve managed to get Rs 5,000 lakh crore investment in articles, editorials, petitions, and televised screaming matches about JNU and it turns out the videos were doctored and everyone is marching everywhere and everything is a mess and nobody’s paying attention to #MakeInIndia. Now we’re thinking Go, Rajnath, but in a different way.

February 18: Concluding day! We’ve fixed everything—we’re making all central universities put a giant flag on their campuses. That’s Phase 1. In Phase 2, we will make it mandatory for all Indians to surgically implant a Tricolour on the top of their heads.

Jai Hind.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Sleeping with the frenemy

(Published on February 6, 2016 in Business Standard)

You know what they say about friends: Lock up the good booze before they come over. Or maybe it’s “Don’t work with them”, but locking up the good booze is not a bad idea either—unless one of your friends is turning a greyish shade of fifty. In that case you pack all the best booze you can muster, and take her out of town for a few days.

But first you start a Whatsapp group conversation three weeks beforehand, to figure out how to mark the occasion. One of five of us was in a different country, and we all had differing budgets, available time, and activity preferences. Whatsapp is really helpful in a situation like that, when you need to cheaply and efficiently communicate old internet jokes, non sequiturs, pictures of lunch, and potty quality updates for nineteen days before someone realises there’s still no holiday plan, at which point there is international panic, and the birthday girl threatens to fly off to freaking Goa or something by her freaking self, since we can’t get our freaking act together for her freaking milestone birthday. A lot of emoticons are necessary. Whatsapp rocks.

Anyway we managed to cobble together a road trip to Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve with—let’s call them—Mooey, birthday girl Fanny, and myself. We were going to leave at 6am, because it’s traditional to be unrealistic about everything. At 5.30am Mooey dropped out with a personal crisis, and since he owned the transport, Fanny and I went back to sleep. At 9am the personal crisis was resolved. At 11.15 we rolled up at Fanny’s, where we all briefly discussed an attractive alternative plan to just unload the car and spend the weekend right there, watching movies in our pyjamas and exchanging Whatsapp emoticons. At 12.02pm we were finally on the road. At 12.32 we were on exactly the same road, in the gridlock just outside her house.

When traffic began to flow, we fondly remembered all the things we had forgotten: sunglasses, the other vodka, the Scrabble board, the binoculars, the hat with a brim. The sun got hotter, the traffic was dense, nobody had slept much. Fanny shouted at Mooey for not letting her bring her coffee press. I shouted at Fanny for not being packed on time. We both shouted at Mooey for having a non-functional car CD player. They both shouted at me for picking up the wrong stack of CDs. I muttered that I had had it with them, given them the best years of my life, and I was taking the children and moving to my mother’s. We all muttered darkly that it was going to be a long four days.

And it was—long and delightful, despite the fact that we all shared one room and one bathroom. Despite Mooey’s traumatic habit of waking like a jack-in-the-box before dawn and yelling tender good mornings in our ears. Despite Fanny keeping up a constant rumble of complaint about the quality of the coffee. Despite my conversation being one hundred per cent about the state of my potty.

But that’s what travelling with friends is all about: loving them despite their compulsive behaviours. It’s exactly like being married, but without the monogamy, children, and joint bank account. There’s the one who rubs one foot against the other all night. The one who picks goop out of her eyes. The neat freak. The one who’s grumpy in the morning; the one who’s grumpy at night. The glutton, the exercise freak, the clotheshorse, the cigarette bummer. The Bollywood music addict.

If you survive travelling with them, it’s true love.