Posts Tagged ‘can’t change India’

Now, this might sound like an abuse to anyone like me who’s grown up in Chennai Madras watching thamizh cinema, and I am confident Samosapedia would agree with me. What, they don’t? Bloody buffaloes, they deserve a thodappa kattai. Anyhow, I am not here to abuse anyone, or take any. In fact, this blog post has nothing to do with thodappa kattai in an abusive connotation.

It all started when my friend asked me last week, “Vignesh, in India, you don’t have aspirateur?” to which I responded with a proud, “why of course we do! We even have one at my parent’s place.” And then comes in response, “then why don’t people use it? I thought it didn’t exist in India. People use that thing, why?”

What thing, you might wonder. It is none other than the Indian broom stick, or jhaadu, or thodappa kattai. This blog post is just about its history, geography, therapy, and more! But while I kept thinking “oh this would make an amazing blog post,” I had to respond to my friend who was standing wondering what great logic millions of Indians share about the thodappa kattai. So I put on my thinking hat:

Think baby think

And I tried to come up with an explanation; many in fact:

  • No no, in India there’s lot of dust on the floor. And a vacuum cleaner can’t clear it out. Neither does a broom.
  • It’s good for health. Really?! Stay bent down, screw up your back, very nicely put.
  • We use the vacuum cleaner for removing cobwebs in remote corners of the wall & ceilings. So, that bans you from using it on the floor?
  • It’s cheaper to use brooms. You have the darn vacuum cleaner at home already. Why won’t you use it? What’re you trying to conserve, electricity?
  • We have servant maids at home. So you can’t train them to be more efficient.

And then it had to be, “we’re just used to it.” Finally, an answer that even I’m sick of. That’s a sure shot conversation winner. But after some time-wasting with google, I figured it is perhaps a style statement. BigStock certainly thinks so:

Thodapamista! There’s a whole series of photos by the way. Visit the page and you’d see how trendy it is!

I think I can actually go on and write a whole new entry about this series of photos. Thin sleeveless blouses, matching handle to the broomstick, kitch colours, it’s perfect for the common Indian bride-seeking boy! Oh darn, I’m deflecting again. Alright, as promised, I present to you, the history, geography, and therapy of it.

History: well I know it comes from the store. Why does it matter who invented it? If you want one, you can buy from Bison Cleaning Products Pvt. Ltd. And their brand name is in fact consitent with my earlier abuse to samosapedia. Another interesting fun fact about the Indian broom is that you have to tune it first. Because the new broom releases more dust than it cleans. In tamizh, we term it poo kottaradu (meaning the falling flowers). I’ve seen the maid in our house scratch the newly purchased broom against a coarse surface until it wears out. Just beats me!

Geography: it seems it isn’t limited to the Indian household. This England-raised Irish Liz Scully woman has extensively written in her smitten dust trilogy, in three parts, namely part one, part two and part three, on India, dusting and maids in India dusting.

Therapy: See photo on top, if it doesn’t help, buy yourself a broom and hit yourself with it. Slipper would also do. Make sure it’s torn. If needed, I will provide you with worn out slipper.


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Yes, I know a lot of friends who read the Times of India for entertainment. My good friend Mashank Shasaldan in fact gains kicks out of finding the creepiest articles, invariably lascivious in nature, and pings me on Gtalk going “dude, check this out.”

The news did catch my eye today, for one, Ajmal Kasab was hanged today. I’m sure you can read enough in the blogsphere about what his emotions were before he was hung, but I sought for the more traditional news channel, and bumped into this article on how secretively he was finished. They’re sending letters by courier to his family. Seriously?! I wonder what the letter would say:

Dear Smt. & Shri. Kasab Sr.,

Your son Ajmal was caught four years ago for killing a lot of innocent civilans, and setting a few buildings on fire. Justice has been served. He has been hanged until death today, in secrecy. FYI.


Secret Justice system of India.

But what was more interesting was the comments that followed, a few of which were very carefully penned, empathising with the families of all those lives he is said to have claimed. But before I could read a couple of them, my attention was attracted towards big badges that TOI gives its dear readers. There are influencers, word smiths, networkers, movie buffs, etc., a detailed wooing elaborated right on their website:


So without wasting more time into even trying to understand what each of those “rewards” mean, I am going straight to the skewed comment that caught my stray eye. I saw Mr. I am Nobody from the United States Of INDIA (yes mind the upper-case emphasis to patriotism). He quite represents the quintessential abusive anti-islamic commentator, if I may. I’m positive that he would answer any question of mine with his sentence beginning with the clause “I can able to”, but I’m not going to judge him either. So here’s one of his eye-candy comments:

From what Indiatimes suggests, his comment has an ‘influence’ value of 7 on a scale of <unknown>, and he is a “wordsmith”, and has a network badge because he has 76 “followers”. God save him. Even if it be Allah. Because what I see from his posts is that he is anti-islamic, rather quite baseless, and what got me laughing was when I scrolled over one of these badges for an explanation:

That thing’s (I’m sorry Mr. Nobody, I can’t imagine you are human anymore) name in this page is “Pedophile Mohammed” – yes, spelt correctly. I can understand you can’t screen each comment ToI, but you have to get your things in place. And this definitely isn’t the first article I’ve seen where the comments section flow in with abuses. Please put in a screening filter mechanism before comments are so highly propagated, or fucking close the comments section. Sigh!

Anyway, this wasn’t what got me blogging after nearly two years of silence. There’ve been a lot of factors – a change in my lifestyle, thinking, etc., that’s gotten me to write again.

And before I finish, it’s Nick‘s birthday. And one thing I know that he enjoys is writing. The guy has a passion for it. Nick, I’m dedicating (not this post – it’s an excuse for something not even remotely readable) “my return to writing” to you. Happy birthday dude! I hope you have a great year ahead!

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If I started my own private engineering college,

  • I would call myself the chancellor to the college, and make my children pro-chancellors at the age of 10 in order to get a place in the Limca Book of Records. Don’t blame me, if you want, build your own college and make your 2 year old son a pro-chancellor.
  • I would locate it on either sides of a busy railway track and use bright spotlights so as to attract attention from people passing by. Don’t blame me, the shiney prospectus isn’t doing much good.


  • I would employ the best photographer in town to take pictures that show shining faces in front of huge buildings to promote tourism, oh sorry, to attract students. Don’t blame me, people like to see beautiful looking campus.


  • I would accept donations for building the college, selling engineering seats. Don’t blame me, I’m just taking money from those who have it.


  • I would sanction 20% reservation for women students to access elevators. Don’t blame me, I’m just helping them grow in the society.


  • I would employ security guards, provide them with whistles and ask them to shreik when they see people of opposite genders within two feet of each other. Don’t blame me, I do support the abolition of section 377!

Gay parade

  • I would put up vast lawns, water them with semi-treated water (which still contains ammonia in order to spread its wonderful aroma). Don’t blame me, I’m recylcing water.


  • I would put up huge walls around the women’s hostels (that even prisons would consider a high-benchmarks), barbed fences over the high walls, and 4-feet deep open-stormdrains right outside so that there’s no escape. Don’t blame me, I’m just concerned about their security.

Hostel security

  • I would issue hostel ID cards in order to keep a tab on how long each one of them are going out. Don’t blame me, I am answerable to parents should their irresponsible 20-year old child goes on vacation.

Hostel ID

  • I would impose a minimum 75% attendance per month criterion for students. Don’t blame me, I can’t bear to watch classes empty.


  • I would increase the student intake exponentially every year. Don’t blame me, I’m providing an opportunity for people to study.


  • I would put up speedbreakers that are so high that even people walking would have to slowdown to jump over. Don’t blame me, safety is of prime importance.

Speed breaker

  • I would change college policies faster than people normally update facebook status message. Don’t blame me, no one else survives in my college beyond 5 years.


  • I would waste paper by setting up an elaborate feedback system that could be computer-read, and make every student fill one up without ever taking the feedback into consideration. Don’t blame me, I just want the form to look cool.
  • I would enable wifi access throughout campus, however block over half the sites that are there. Don’t blame me, I’m just making sure everyone uses the internet right.

wifi access

  • I would make students fill several unnecessary forms for the same thing, and update the forms from time-to-time without any notice. And I would employ double the number of people to sit and type the filled in forms in excel-spreadsheets. Don’t blame me, I’m just providing jobs.
  • I would make people write letters for things others might consider trivial. Don’t blame me, I’m just making sure that the paperwork is clean.


  • I would allow everyone who is a staff to exercise power they don’t have. Don’t blame me, I’m just empowering people.


Disclaimer: This blog-post is a work of my creativity. Any resemblance it might have to anything in reality is purely co-incidental. Yeah, right!

Picture credits: The elevator picture is derived from realityRN.com, which can be found here. Gay simpson cartoon courtesy Slap Upside the Head. Spongebob picture courtesy Parodies. The attendance shortage image was developed from this image up NCAH’s website. The speedbreaker image was lifted off cartoonstock. Tweets and firefox error page altered with the help of a script from here. All other cartoons, graphs, and smartarts were made using microsoft office, with help from good ‘ol photoshop.

P.S.: Do look through my newly updated blogroll.

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People read newspapers for several reasons. The GRE-preparing dudes and dudettes read through just the editorials including the cut-copy-pasted articles from The Daily Telegraph, and the Paul Krugman’s column that feature in The Hindu. Some like me, claim to update themselves on the current affairs, and try reading through the headlines on every page. Then there is the third kind – who just look at the advertisements (like me till a couple of years ago). My grandfather reads The Hindu just to get some sleep.

Moving on, the inspiration to write this blog post half comes from here. His post on how to design Indian political posters was impressive. Last week, as part of my daily routine, I was sitting on the ground floor of VIT University‘s exceptional air-conditioned library, reading the only newspaper I could lay my hands on. The cover page of The Indian Express was of course filled with UPA’s celebrations, having proved it’s majority in the House. As I shut the paper and carried on with whatever work I was supposed to be following up, a full-page advertisement on the last page caught my eyes. People obviously couldn’t have missed the bright red and green colours used in the advertisement. It was posted by the Samajwadi Party, and it runs thus:

Indian politics

Click on the picture to read the finer details of the advertisement.

Now for those of you who intend taking up advertising in the future, here’s a classic example of how it is to be done!

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TTD Inc.

A recent visit to TTD in Thirupati made me realize how commercialized temples have become these days. Before making it uphill to visit Him, me and my family visited His wife residing at some distance from the  foothills. On the one hand were the officials who were looking out for suicide bombers and terrorists, while on the other were middlemen who would take people in through the exit – here’s another definition of bending rules. We first had to find the counter hidden behind the public toilet there, pay forty whole rupees per person and obtain a quick darshan ticket, after which we get to join the stampede. I don’t understand the point in calling the so called special-entry ticket as quick darshan, for either ways one gets to see the deity inside for not more than 5 seconds (5.8s if you are lucky). Finally after being squashed in the queue, I got a glimpse of the idol inside. Just when I thought it’s over, I noticed temple staff standing outside giving out thertham and placing the chatari over everyone’s head. It seems to me that they’ve become very adept at executing their duties with just their right hand, so their left hand is open facing upwards with a folded ten rupee note (indicating that you’re not to offer donations of denominations any lesser). Only after all this did I notice the gold plating of the central shrine – and at once I realized where my darshan-ticket money went! The amount of money they’ve invested in placing color CCD cameras all over the place could have been used up to teach the people standing in the queue to maintain one-arm’s distance with the person standing in front. Furthermore, I happened to notice that the 40 rupee ticket entitles you to collect two ladoos free of cost – now here’s an effective marketing strategy! Finally thinking that my ordeal for the night is over, I walked up to my car (parked on the side of a road – which by no means is a parking space) and started my car when a man sprang out of nowhere to issue a parking ticket to me – I then realized that his sole job was to issue those tickets and not guide the cars coming in.

This isn’t the end of the journey – Thirumala hill was still worse still. The AP police have a checkpost wherein every vehicle intending to go uphill is to be checked. There’s a group of officers who check every passenger, run their hands through the baggages and then clear you through. If by any chance your vehicle has more than the prescribed number of people (4+1 for a santro), the extras would have to step out or else your pass would be cancelled. Furthermore, putting up an “L” sticker on your car is now a hazard (even if the person driving is an experienced one) – I didn’t know that a car with a learner’s sign could make problems going uphill. So I stepped out, boarded a jeep behind (and that driver made an additional 30 rupees thanks to me) and endured 40 minutes of jolting before I reached the entrance of holy town uphill. We hunted for accommodation there for an hour and finally slept. The joy ride continued next morning when we had a darshan of the deity uphill. After being pushed out of the central shrine like dogs being shooed (this was special treatment because the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh had an appointment with Him uphill), we went to the free-prasad counter wherein ten rupees earned me two extra ladoos exactly one inch in diameter. Once out of the temple, I stepped into the final queue to collect the ladoos as part of my darshan ticket. Finally after this we left Thirupati.

Now here’s an experience that’s taught me several valuable lessons. Here’re my nuggets to anyone intending to visit TTD:

keep enough keep enough ten-rupee notes with you (they help bribing people)
possible bribe hot spots:
free-prasad counters
the staff pushing people inside the main shrine
the lost guide like guy standing beside the ticket issuing counter
be prepared to spend at least half an hour searching for a parking space
forget you own a mobile phone and leave it in your car – it’s bound to get you into troubleten-rupee notes with you (they help bribing people)
possible bribe hot spots:
free-prasad counters
the staff pushing people inside the main shrine
the lost guide like guy standing beside the ticket issuing counter
be prepared to spend at least half an hour searching for a parking space
forget you own a mobile phone and leave it in your car – it’s bound to get you into trouble
  • keep enough ten-rupee notes with you (they help bribing people)
  • possible bribe hot spots include the free-prasad counters, the staff pushing people inside the main shrine, and that lost guide like guy standing beside the ticket issuing counter
  • be prepared to spend at least half an hour searching for a parking space
  • forget you own a mobile phone and leave it in your car – it’s bound to get you into trouble

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