Sunday, January 23, 2011

How to fuck up a city 101

For those who have not been here before (and you lurking Americans, Canadians and Herzegovinians), I have been living, rather trying hard not to commit suicide, in Chandigarh for the last five months. This and the last few blogposts are my way of asking this city to go fuck itself, royally.

Chandigarh, I’ve been told on more than one occasion, is a planned city. Will someone with even one-eighth of a brain please tell me HOW?

For starters, it is in the middle of nowhere. This is the proverbial No Man’s Land; at least not an intelligent man’s. We have the amiable Pakistanians a couple of hundred kilometers to the west and to the east we have Mr. Mao trying to pry open his eye-slits with chopsticks. So every time an Al-Qaeda junkie gets his panties in a bunch, I could be the first to die. How bloody convenient!

The airport’s not that great either.

I’ve traveled quite a bit to realize that a city’s essence can be gauged from its airport. Bombay – crowded, cosmopolitan, synchronized chaos. Singapore – organized, soulless sellout. Madras – functional. Abu Dhabi – concrete, kitschy, tailor made, man made.

How about Chandigarh?

Let’s see.

The airport in Chandigarh is only slightly smaller than the average Bihari cowshed (in case you were wondering, the flatulent, rotund policemen are rightful bovine replacements). The runway, all 200 centimeters of it, was once a cricket pitch for midgets. The last time I saw the conveyor belt operational, there were two moderately ginormous Punjabi women treating it like a personal treadmill. Agitated that their bags seemed lost, they were making their way to the hole in the wall that the baggage usually comes from. After all, if the mountain won’t come to Muhammed, then Mrs. Samarjeet Bhatia must go to her Samsonite, no?

A map of the city looks like this –

A Chessboard looks like this –

The retard, Le Corbusier, who was commissioned to ‘plan’ the city, looks like this –

Dear Mr. Le Corbusier,

Did you drop out of Architecture School after Lesson 1: Lines? Are you not aware of the existence of curves, arcs, bends, circles or loops? If we wanted you to draw a square, we would have asked you to draw a fucking square.

Also, Corbusier Uncle - if you are cocky enough to prefix a Le before your own name, why choose to be sedate when naming localities in the city? Numbered Sectors was the best you could come up with for naming neighborhoods; really? Sector 1, Sector 2 and so on.

And what is with the Mathematics you bastard? How does it help to know that you numbered the Sectors in a way that the sum of two adjoining Sectors is divisible by 13?

It’s Saturday night and I am monumentally sloshed. I’m on my way home and I cannot make out left from right because smartie pants Corbusier here decided to plan a city without landmarks, identity and character. I am lost somewhere between Sector 23 and 35 and I am majorly fucked. But lo and behold! All I need is the power of Math. In my state of alcohol induced incapacitation, I just have to figure out if 23+35 is divisible by 13 and I’m home. Right?

Why no imagination? Is it because you were Swiss and all you ever did was eat cheese and be intimate with cattle that you confused with your women?

And pray tell me what is this ‘monument’ that you have designed?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It is a hand? Is it something sticking out like a sore thumb?

You are lucky to be dead. For if you were alive, I would first kill you. I would then proceed to cut you up into teeny-tiny little numbered squares. And then I would feed you to 13 hungry, hand shaped birds.



P.S. I had specifically asked for stripes, not checks.

P.P.S. O wise one! Do not confuse this Chandigarh with the other hypothetical one existing in a parallel universe.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Recluse Driving

I don’t know if there are people like me around but I don’t like to drive. The thing is I do not enjoy any sort of multitasking.

I think I’m just not capable of driving. It involves just too many things all at once - looking at the road, flipping radio stations (which, by the way, Chandigarh has aplenty – TWO, that play only the latest Punjabi music of Harbhajan Mann, Babbu Mann, Gurdas Mann, Whatte Mann – surprising, no?), or honking at who are inevitably women drivers (for reasons which involve both lacking common sense and merely asking the good-lookin, wats-cookin?).

At times I’m left wondering about profound vehicular/motoring issues (in which century would a Bond movie need to be made for the Maruti-800 to be considered Bond-car material or was the designer thinking of a box or a garbage bin when drawing up the Wagon-R?) or trying to remember what my father, uncle, cousin, driver, teacher#1 and teacher#2 hollered into my head about the A-B-Cs of driving (A-B-C Accelerator-Brake-Clutch, right to left; no, left to right; no, right to left?).

If none of these, then I’m constantly reminding myself that it is not okay to run over cows that refuse to budge (what are these stupid creatures looking for on the roads – greener grass on the other side of the human-cow divide and why don’t they ever move? Observe the bastards, they never ever move. I could give you bovine facilitated directions to my house – drive past the Sector 33 signal, turn left at the fourth black buffalo, yank the tail of the third brown calf and run over the holy white cow blocking my house’s gate. People, we need to eat more steak in this country!)

So I don’t think I can multitask and, apparently, a ‘sure-shot’ way to tell if you are a good ‘multitasker’ is to see if you can rub your belly with one hand and pat your head with the other – at the same time. I’m not so sure about multitasking, but you’ll most certainly look like a bloody idiot if you did that.

So I was saying – yes, driving. I hate it and avoid it.

But there is the slight problem of roads. They stand between me and work, me and good food, me and my beer – which is a problem. Which is why I have someone to bridge the gap – Jasbir, my driver.

Jasbir, as it turns out, is mental.

His singular focus, objective, motto and aim in life is – ‘To reach fifth gear’. Period. Jasbir, slow down - there’s traffic ahead. I don’t care, fifth gear. Jasbir, there’s a guy dead on the road, right ahead. Like I care, oops… speed bump, fifth gear. Whoa, look at the fog Jasbir. Don’t drive above forty. Screw the fog. Look at me you fool. Look at my face. Do I look like someone who is bothered about some fucking fog coming between me and my fifth fucking gear? Fog it seems.

Jasbir, as it turns out, is tone deaf.

His taste in music (exhaustively) includes ‘Unheard of Bhangra Folk Music’ and ‘Unmelodic high-pitch rapid howling sounds’. He is clearly responsible for feeding over a hundred endangered rural artists in Punjab’s hinterland for he is the sole buyer of their music.

The only civilized song I’ve ever heard him play is a recent Bollywood pseudo-Punjabi number ‘Challa’. The problem is, as mentioned in a previous post, my understanding of Punjabi is akin to my understanding of what happens inside a woman’s mind, abysmal. However, the other day when the song and its seven different remixed versions were played in loop over and over again, I realized that it’s a song about living the Punjabi dream –

Punjabi boy wanted to be white collar
Said, ‘Fuck it! Let me just earn my dollar’
In Amrika I will drive taxi
Sleep with stripper girl Maxi
Blimey! If I am ever gonna call her!

Jasbir, as it turns out, has a brother.

His brother doubles up as the back-up driver and tags along with Jasbir when I need to travel for work to a remote nondescript town or village in the middle of Punjab’s nowhere (How very exciting! Don’t I just love my job). Problem is the both of them don’t get along very much and spend most of the time abusing one another. Their colorful insults include carnal intentions with one another’s slutty sister and forced fornication with the other’s mother. What they never seem to realize is that they share the same mother and the aforementioned lecherous sister; and acts that they ascribed to one another would most certainly amount to incest in most countries. (Before you get Dr. Skeptic on me, I’ve checked – they aren’t cousins. They are indeed brothas from the same motha!)

I have had a fair share of being driven around by loons but darling Jasbir is in a whole different league. Have you ever had a hangover two days after the binge? Not ‘FOR two days’ after the binge; binge – sleep – wakeupinthemorning – normalday – sleep –wakeupinthemorning – hangover! Have you ever run over a wild boar in a tribal area, made friends with the tribals and then gone on to cook it with them? Are you capable of driving a car looking just out of the passenger window?

Well, as it turns out, you’re no Jasbir.

P.S. (Bad date? Who better to help you with 'repairing' a bad date or petting a loved one than your local Maruti mechanic.)