The Uncivil Wars of the Internet

The last of the men cowered behind the penis-shaped rock. Some lay panting with their back against the wall, exchanging haggard stares. The strain from days of defensive blogging and twitter trolling lay heavy on their faces. Braver souls peered around the stone balls into the darkness to see if the feminists were still pursuing them. The sky was still being lit up by the occasional opinion piece but the thunder of tweetiques sounded distant enough to allow for a short respite.

The Standup Comedian took stock of his ammo. Only two sexist jokes left – that wouldn’t hold the onslaught for long. You had to be on elevated ground for them to be of much use, anyway. The last skirmish had depleted much of his supplies – he had been lucky to get out alive, despite using up all his don’t-watch-it-if-you-dont-like-its and learn-how-to-take-a-jokes.

“So, this is it.” The Meninist wheezed.  “The end of men”.

“CISMEN”. A speaker thundered somewhere overhead. The political correctograms were the first thing the Social Justice League installed when they seized power.

“Darn it, won’t be long before they find us now. Will you shut up, please?”

“Fuck you, Ad guy. I’m not going out whispering”.

“Keep talking and the next Op Ed will land right on your head.”

“You really think you will safely make it to Reddit if you keep quiet, do you? Like fuck you will. Who knows if there is anyone left over there now?”

“Let’s give ourselves a fighting chance, shall we?”

The comic spoke up. “Stop bickering. Who are we kidding? There is no escape now. They should have been stopped when they invaded Twitter.”

“It is true. It’s too late now. First they came for the standup comics. Then I did not speak out because I was not a standup comedian.”
“And not because they came for the comics who trivialized violence against women?”.

“Then they came for the advertising industry. Then I did not speak out because I was not an ad guy.”
“Maybe because they came for the ads which compared used BMWs to women who were not virgins?”

“Then they came for the Jews.”
“Not really”.

“Then they came for me – and there was noone left to speak for me.”
“There’s a chance it could have been because you tweeted rape threats.”

“Did any of you hear that disembodied voice? Who’s sub-tweeting me?”

“It is I.” A shadowy form dropped down the shaft of the rock formation.

“You! Traitorous bast..”

“Don’t take another step. I have a tumblr pointed at you which I won’t hesitate to use. You can all lay down your weapons and get on the floor. And yes, I identify with the feminist cause, if you haven’t figur..”

Before the feminist could finish his words, the area was suddenly lit by the blinding glare of multiple think pieces. An aggressive tweet blared:


As others dropped to the floor in terror, the feminist took a couple of tentative steps forward and tried to make himself heard over the din.

“It’s all under control”.

“Sir, please cast your weapon away.”

“I have. The tumblr on the floor was mine. Everything is under control.”

“Sir, I repeat, please drop your weapon and fall on the floor.”

“I don’t have any weapon, everything is under control. These men were fleeing but I..”


“Base, I had to neutralise a threat. He wouldn’t put his mansplaino-matic away despite repeated warnings.”


Date a Girl Who Likes Biryani

(Because I was fed up of the exhortations to date girls who read, write, travel, does handstands while riding a horse, etc.)

Date a girl who likes Biryani. Date a girl who doesn’t need to look at the menu to know what she wants. She says no to dessert every day because she has no space for it after thulping a full Biryani. Date a girl who knows her Hyderabadi from her Malabar Biryani, can distinguish between the scents of Awadhi Biryani and Chettinadu Biryani in her sleep.

Find a girl who likes Biryani. You’ll know she does because she sniffs the air in anticipation when the waiter is bringing her order. She’s the one who has chicken bones stacked neatly on the side of her plate and an empty bowl of raita beside her in restaurants (Unless she’s not finished, in which case she’s the one who’s eating Biryani.) You see the weird chick who’s peering into your plate when you’re gorging on Biryani like there’s no tomorrow? That’s the Biryani lover.

She’s the girl you run into at Shanmukha Biryanis and then again at Biryani zone. If you take a peep into her plate, she will not have touched the gravy which comes with the Biryani. That’s the mark of a true Biryani lover – the Biryani is to be had unsullied except for the gentle dulling of the spices by the raita. Sit down. She might give you a glare as the girls who eat Biryani do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she liked her Biryani. Ask her if she thought the rice could have imbibed the masala better.

Buy her another plate of Biryani.

Let her know what you really think of Vegetable Biriyani. See if she thinks only Mutton Biryani deserves to be called Biryani.  Understand that if she says she understood what exactly the ‘Dum’ in ‘Dum Biryani’ stands for or if she’s just saying that to appear knowledgable.  Ask her if she knows Kalyani and pray she doesn’t say ‘Who?”

It’s easy to date a girl who likes Biryani. She understands there are highs and lows in a relationship and it might not always be rosy. Just like how the masala is not even throughout and the flavor might vary from part to part. Get her unexpected gifts which surprise her like the odd raisin and cashew in a Biryani. You can stop doing that after the first few weeks, because the raisins usually get over pretty fast. Sprinkle attention on her like the golden deep-fried onions sitting pretty on top of the Biryani. She’ll enjoy the attention but understand that it is really not integral to the Biryani relationship.

Make her Biryani for her birthday. Call up your mom in advance and ask her how many minutes to let it simmer on the stove.

On the day she timidly extends a casserole to you, with a blush in her cheeks, you’ll know that you have successfully captured her heart. Eat the whole of what she has given you, even if it tastes like horsecrap. Do not tell her how badly it sucks, instead tell her how it is the best biryani you have ever had. Ensure she doesn’t have even a morsel to taste. Because then she will learn the truth. She’s the girl who likes Biryani.

You will propose in Paradise Hyderabad. Or at Top Form Calicut. Or at home over a bowl of steaming goodness of rice and meat and spices. In a perfect blend. Like you and the girl who likes Biryani. Imagine her doe-eyed smile of wonder when she unearths the ring from under the juicy leg piece of chicken.

You will have a grand wedding. Where you’ll serve all the guests with the Biryani of their choice. After everyone is gone, you’ll be left alone with the girl who likes Biryani. You’ll smile happily and extend a plate of Chicken Biryani to her. And vow to share Biryani with her forever, in sickness and in health. Except if you get jaundice, in which you’ll do better to stay away from Biryani.

Grow old with the girl who likes Biryani. As old as having Biryani three times a day will allow you to. Have kids and watch her teach them to scoop Biryani onto their plate without spilling using the spoon-fork double hold. Stay in on hot summer days and order in family packs of Biryani. Cuddle around the heat of Biryani cauldron on cold winter nights. In spring, take her on walks to shed those extra pounds.

Date a girl who likes Biryani because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the tastiest life imaginable.  If you can only give her the monotony of Roti-daal, aaloo paratha, idly sambhar, you are better off alone. If you want a deeply fulfilling life with the right mixture of joy and spices little sorrows, date a girl who likes Biryani.

Or better yet, date a girl who likes Porotta-Beef Fry.

Death of a Revolutionary

Story I wrote for the Saarang Writing Awards 2011Facebook Flash Fiction Competition. The story had to fit in 10 lines and the prompt was, ‘When you have nothing left to burn, you have to set fire to yourself‘.

The revolution had failed. He would never live to see the dawn when his people would walk the streets fearlessly, their heads held high with no muzzles to bow down to. What pained him was that the people didn’t seem to want to. More than the guns of the army or the fear of the tyrant, it was the apathy of the people which had hurt the struggle the most.

At first, he had hoped that the truth would be enough to jolt the people out of their beds. Then, he was sure that the blood of their brothers would push them over the edge. When all else had failed, he had even reluctantly approved a campaign based on lies, magnifying the regime’s atrocities tenfold.

But here they were, the last remnants of the uprising hemmed in by the army on all sides and it was time for the last gamble, the one which he had hoped he would never have to make. He stepped out of his tent to meet his bodyguards dressed in the unfamiliar olive-green of the official forces and the photographer who would beam the graphic pictures of cold-blooded murder of a defenseless prisoner to the outside world. He took a deep breath, searched his mind for appropriately profound last words and said, “Alright, be quick with it.”

Where have all the sperms gone?

A question to which most people reading this will answer ‘Down the drain’, I suppose. But no, it’s not the masturbatory habits of the Indian male that elicits this lament from me, but an increasing number of alarming news articles which gives one the impression that the human sperm is an endangered species, placed somewhere between the Bengal Tiger and the Polar bear in the Red list.

The latest in this series of events happened this morning. Seated lavishly in the BMTC Volvo, the Bengaluru software engineer’s chariot of choice, I took a peek at the ToI the gent who sat ahead of me was skimming through. Regular ToI fare of skimpily clad actresses cribbing about the US Foreign policy and a random astrologer predicting Baby B’s future was snorted at, before my attention was arrested by a heading on the Science page (Yes, ToI has one).

‘Browsing the net on a laptop with wifi will kill sperms’.

ToI headlines being ToI headlines, the first thought you have is that the possibility of a sperm owning a laptop, let alone have a wifi connection is rather negligible. Then, the realisation kicked in. What the fuck. You might as well tell me breathing kills sperms. I mean, I spend more time ‘browsing the net on a laptop with wifi’ more than anything else in my life. Before I could read further, the bus pulled up at Ecospace, and I had to get down, with a disturbing piece of half-baked information. Which is arguably what you get even if you read the ToI in full, but still.

Coming back to the topic, there is no doubt that we are witnessing an alarming trend with respect to sperms. Anything and everything is supposed to make you infertile. Sperms can’t be blamed if they become fucking paranoid and think everybody’s out to get them. Because everybody is.

The first time I noticed this was when I was in school and all of a sudden, there was an alarming lack of eggs in my diet. My mother, who used to take the NECC ad where the scrawny kid breaks Sachin Tendulkar’s- REALLY! – hand very seriously and fed me bulls eye for breakfast, Omelette for lunch and Egg roast for dinner, seemed strangely against eggs all of a sudden. My habit of reading anything and everything strewn around the house, including strict no-nos for gentlemen such as Vanitha and Manorama weekly, was what helped me find out the truth eventually. I read with much amusement and some indignation, a passionate article on the evils of hormone-infested chicken which flooded the market today and laid the hormone-infested eggs which would make our children childless. I shrugged and turned the pages to Dr.Narayana Reddy’s column where he wrote about the curious cases he had come across in his illustrious career. They were, more often than not, well illustrated.

A few years later, I was lounging around in a family wedding, trying to simultaneously avoid annoying uncles who would ask me how my CAT plans were coming along and even more annoying aunties who would ask me to guess their names before soliciting free career advise for Monu and Sonu who would be in 4th and 6th standards, respectively. As always happens, I was discovered lurking before too long and was dragged into a well fed group of aunties who had just finished a hearty lunch and were looking for something juicy to chew on. Cue me.

The usual discussion on how engineering was of no use these days ensued and I stood squirming in the middle, trying to eye some of the more desirable female contingent milling around. In my impatience to get away, I palmed my phone and started fiddling with it. Suddenly, curve ball.

Mone, Where do you keep your phone?”

“Uh? In my pocket.”

“Which pocket?”

Somehow, I had a hunch of what was coming.

“Shirt pocket.”

Atha nallath. Don’t use your pant’s pocket, okay?”

Huge laughter ensues. I manage a weak smile and slink away as a new victim is ushered in. He is older and closer to marriage, so his ordeal would be longer and more terrible to behold.

Again, a year or two later, during my brief dabble with cigarettes, I’ve been told, “Never mind your lungs, kuttikalundavilla ketta?”. Open-mouthed smile Least of my concerns by the time really.

So, there you have it – mobile phones, laptops, chicken, eggs, cigarettes, alcohol – everything – only has one agenda. Killing sperms. If half of what you hear is true, then half of my generation will not father kids. The next generation might as well not bother to try at all.

Of course, there is a bright side to all of this. Once you are sure every last little bugger has been killed, you can bonk away to kingdom come without any fear of accidents whatsoever.
So there. We still win.

The Return

A few weeks ago, in an unguarded moment, I  told M that I had the writer’s block. From the array of sarcastic replies you would expect from his Size-40ness, ranging from the moderately cynical to the viciously caustic, I was lucky to escape with a mild “You are just lazy”. On another day, I might have been made to regret my audacity in terming myself a ‘writer’ on the basis of a few thousand words here.

Anyway, I had come to pretty much the same conclusion. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a writer’s block, really. You either write or you do not. There might be moments when you feel that the quality of your output is not what it ought to be or can be. But that’s not an excuse, at least for a blogger for whom a rigorous evaluation of his work is the least of concerns. Such moments might stretch to a few hours, or a few days perhaps. An exile from writing for months or years is entirely due to lack of effort from the writer, surely.

The other day, M and R compared my output to that of Kubrick’s. I was quick to wave away the complement, as it appeared. Unfortunately I was a bit too quick, blushing before M clarified that he was only referring to the frequency and in no way, to the quality. Another awkward moment, saved by a quick swig of coffee.

M is reasonably prolific as a blogger and R is even more so, a fact that I found out only recently, since he hardly ever promotes what he writes, anywhere. You could think he writes only for his own eyes. You could very well be right, knowing R.Anyway, both of them couldn’t understand what prevents me from writing more often.

What really eats into my blogging is my habit of rererewriting. I have to go over each sentence again and again to sound out the best way to say it, which hardly ever ends satisfactorily. Ultimately, I settle for a compromise and move on, by which time, the window and more importantly the desire to write would have evaporated. This is a blatant contradiction to Heinlein’s rules for writing, as it contradicts the first and most important 3 rules.

  • You must write.
  • You must finish what you start.
  • You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.

I have to push myself to trust my instincts and just be done with it(which sounds kind of wrong) , but which is what I am trying to do now.

When returning from exiles, self-imposed or otherwise, you ought to do it with a bang. Like N S Madhavan did with Higuita. After staring at a blank screen for hours, willing it to produce my own outrageous sporting figure with an interesting real world parallel, I decide to do away with the bang. For the moment, I will just slink in silently. Casting around for a topic to write on, I consider and reject from a variety of topics – Bangalore(too wide),Endhiran(too torturous),Roy Hodgson(too early),M’s secrets(too dangerous), Quizzing(cannot come close to this), my hair(too awesome) and so on.

After some more days of this, I realized I didn’t need a topic. I could just do this.

The Dangerous Summer

This post continues on the gang wars parallel drawn to the World Cup by Hrishi Varma, here. I thought the idea was genius and loved it so much that I wanted in. He agreed and we might continue this as a series through the tournament, if people like this thing and we don’t run out of stuff to write or the interest to do so, in 2 or 3 posts. This particular post takes up from where Hrishi left his or rather, provides an alternative take. You’ll be better off reading it to get some background. Our styles are different and our views contrast, so I hope this won’t get monotonous. Read on.

I try to open my eyes. I can’t. The blood. Most of it has dried; it must have been hours since they left. I guess they thought me dead. Well, I am not dead and this alley is not Sunset Boulevard.

An attempt to push myself up against the wall is greeted by pain. Sharp, stinging pain coursing through each and every bone. I flop back into the blood. As I register that the blood is all mine, I black out.


Don’t be afraid of the blood, son. We cannot afford to.

I know, Papá.

You have to follow me into the ring one day. And I know you’ll be greater than me. You know it too, right?

Sí, Papá.

So, who’s afraid of the blood?


Spoken like a true Matador.


It’s dark when I come to, again. The alley is lit by a slice of neon from the street. There’s no one about to ask for help. Anyone wandering in would probably be grossed out by the blood, anyway. I try to feel my hands. The right feels as if it’s been through a mixer. Looks like it, too. The left is better off, only slightly.

The pain only seems to have multiplied between then and now, but I brave it to prop myself up against the cold brick wall. I find it difficult to breathe. Each breath sounds like one of those damn horns.

I try to take stock of the damage done. A few minutes of prodding and wincing later, I give up. The blood makes it impossible.

I lean back on the wall and think. What went wrong?


Do you know what the golden rule of Tauromaquia is, my son?

Sí, Papá. Never underestimate the bull.

Right you are. Never forget it. It’ll serve you well inside the ring, as well as outside it.


I had come a long way from the kid whose only dream in life was to be a star Torero like his Dad. But I had never forgotten his one golden rule. Kind of hard to, when you were made to recite it at least once a day for half your childhood. Not that I hated it. I loved to see the gleam in his eye as he puffed his chest out and tousled my hair after he said it.

His wisdom had always stood me in good stead. It kept me alive inside the ring, when I stepped in after his career ended on the horns of a desperate Miura from Seville. And it kept me alive as I stepped outside the ring and faced up against enemies more dangerous than a 400 kilo bull.

My rise was swift and steady. It helped that the bigwigs in town didn’t pay heed to my growth. As far as they were concerned, the Spaniards were around since forever, I would fizzle out like all the others did, in time. But I was shrewd. I realized that to stay in the game, I had to change the game. My customers were happy. I gave more importance to the quality of the product than the others. Hence, my stuff got them higher than what the others sold. My stuff was even being compared to the legendary stuff which came out of South years ago, the likes of which they couldn’t just make anymore. I expanded at a rate which began to alarm the others.

Half the credit to my meteoric rise goes to the ace team I assembled. No shooters were sharper than mine, no generals more astute. I got the wily old fox to be my Capo. Sure, he was a racist fucker, but he knew the game inside out. Under his eye, there was no stopping my lads. Italians were considered the best in the business then. They were good, they held out against us as long as they could, but had to give in at the end. The Krauts were next up. The underworld didn’t think we had a chance, the Germans were big operators. They had a knack of closing out deals no one gave them a chance at so consistently, that the odds were soon in favor of them every time they closed in. It took one mistake for my Lieutenant to get in. Once he gets his sights trained on you, The Kid doesn’t miss. Bam. He had made a name for himself in the English underworld with some legendary operations, like the one he pulled on the Big Serb. The Krauts were the last barrier. We took the place by storm and became the talk of the town. The Big Ones were getting worried about us. We were beating them at their game.

Then I ran into the Swiss.


Tell me which is the most dangerous bull to fight, son?

The one that does not drop its guard but waits for you to do so.



I’d heard about the Swiss of course. He generally preferred staying neutral but had excellent resources when it came to limiting damages in a war. They had such excellent hideouts throughout the underbelly of the city that they didn’t have a single casualty in the last gang war. Hell, they even managed to hold out against the all-conquering French under the bald Arab, the hardest general ever. Their fortress was the bank, which was also the legal front for all the businesses the old guy ran.

I knew they would be tough to break down. If anything, they would be even harder, because they had the best in the business advising them. German resilience and Swiss determination was a bad combination. For me. But they were in our way and had to be taken care of. Even without The Kid, who was recovering from a minor graze he suffered in the last shootout, I thought we had enough firepower to do them. To put it simply, I underestimated.

We went in.


The rope was cutting into my limbs. The cold steel of the chair sent a million needles into my skin. I felt like I would black out any moment. Yet the Swiss didn’t seem in the mood to talk. He just kept twiddling his thumbs. I wished he would stop that. His stare was chillier than the night. I wouldn’t hold out much longer.

He broke the silence.

“Look, son, I’ll be quick. I know this isn’t all about territory. There’s a much larger thing going on here. I know it. ”

I tried to look puzzled. Because I WAS fucking puzzled. What larger thing?

“This attack of yours has just been one in a long line of things aimed at us. Why don’t you come clean, son?”

I would have, if I had some clue of what he was talking about. I had always heard he was a slight bit on the mad side. Had he finally cracked?

“I am sorry, my friend, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Don’t play dumb, my friend, this has been going on for years now, and my own brother was humiliated several times by this fellow from your lot.” He threw a mugshot at me. “Are you telling me you have no idea who this guy is?”

Bang. Everything became clear. So, the boy was what making the old man vindictive. What the heck? I wasn’t giving him up.


“Come on, son, why would you risk your head being in Zürich, limbs in Geneva and balls in Davos. For a nobody? ”

Nobody? The Swiss had done excellent homework to bring me down, but he had missed out on one tiny detail.

The kid was family. His uncle served me for years. One of my most efficient and loyal Soldados ever.


“Well, it’s your choice, then. Don’t blame me. My boys will take care of you. They won’t kill you. They will beat you within an inch of your death and leave you outside.”

“You must kill me then, Old man.”

“Ah, you will be dead, don’t worry. Just that I don’t want to dirty my hands.”

That didn’t sound good. It must’ve showed on my face; the Swiss smirked.

“When the lion hunts, can the hyenas be far behind?”


Six hours and three horrendous assaults later, here I am. Propped up against the wall, in one of the shiftiest neighbourhoods in town.

The area was a known haunt of the Chilean kids. Yesterday, my little finger would have had them for breakfast. But now… It just wasn’t safe to run into them in such a vulnerable state. They would stick you up in the blink of an eye and plunder all they can. What’s left, anyway.

I haul myself up, inch by fucking inch. God, it is murder. I haven’t taken a beating like this in ages.

The Swiss did it in a battle. Respect. But the filthy South American swine. Ganging up to mutilate – what they thought to be – a dead body . They are going to pay, if it is the last thing I do. They should’ve made sure I was dead. They didn’t. Their mistake. I don’t repeat mistakes. Neither mine, nor that of others.

To have a shot at them, I have to get out of this place in one piece, first. I shuffle along the wall towards the street.

Voices. From the street. I fervently hope it’s not the Chileans. I risk a peek.

It’s the Hondurans. As I look on, the group splits and one of them head my way. My God, they ARE slow. Why else would one walk alone in this neighbourhood, at this time of the night.

I don’t like to prey on small fry, normally. But I have no choice now. To get out of here, I need clothes. Money. And Confidence.

I take a deep breath.