My Life Science teacher (I did not persist in the pursuit of that subject long enough to turn it into pure, serious biology) once told me that the study of making a good advertisement is essentially the art of telling a lie very well. Well, most of the times it’s true, that the company has to rely on a few lies to raise its sales in the market. Sometimes that lie is a bit more subtle. They won’t give you any statistics or surveys or anything. They just split the screen into two panes. One shows an anti-dandruff shampoo whose blurred out body nevertheless retains all similarity with the one launched by a rival company. This other, ‘normal’ anti-dandruff shampoo has no effect whatsoever on dandruff-rich hair. They show a head full of snowflakes and it looks like that shampoo is a dandruff shampoo, not anti-dandruff. The person who chose that poor shampoo goes around single, broken-hearted, joked about and taunted in social circles. Here’s where our celebrated sleek-bodied overpriced anti-dandruff shampoo comes in. A really handsome guy with a really clean head jumps around the screen with a silky flow of wondrous magical hair all about him.

That’s a subtle lie. Then there’s psychological pushing. A person who buys the ‘normal’ product in an ad is always portrayed as either fat, or comical, or jealous, and he lives in this old, sad, gloomy house in perennial poverty if the ad is about interior paint, or he has quarrels in life, discontent and that long bored face if it’s about such a vital thing  for inner peace as cement or floor-cleaner. But behold now our hero who bought the right product and is therefore young, fair, handsome, with fluorescent rows of perfectly square teeth, a happy family and a perpetual smile about his face, all because of an aftershave, antacid, cooking-oil or a razor.

And this third method, it’s called, well… I frankly don’t know what it’s called. Maybe it doesn’t need a name, it’s so special.

There is a mosquito-repellant brand in India. Manufactures mosquito mats, coils, liquid. The liquid has extra MMR, the latest in the world of technology. A breakthrough. A violent explosion of clarity in the mundane life of the universe. Like the nuclear bomb. Or the light bulb. Or fire. Or language.

Do you know what MMR is? You don’t? Woe be on you, pitiful creatures!

MMR is mosquito mortality rate.

Mosquito. Mortality. Rate. Yeah, you heard that right. Mortality. I don’t know what unit they measure MMR in (Hertz maybe, you know, number of occurrences per second), but it’s there. Unquestionable. Infallible. Extra Mosquito Mortality Rate. MMR. Short, powerful, important-sounding acronym. Bow hence to the Lord Almighty of mosquito-killers — line up before shops, order through phone, book it online in advance, buy a year’s store today, because He has it in him. MMR.

Ah, this India.


Buy the Best

I was on the bus yesterday, going to my physics tuition, when I happened to look out the window and see this big banner in front of a roadside shop, in plain view of all who passed. Across it, in big letters, was written “BUY THE BEST”, and below it, in even huger letters, the word “COCK”.

I gasped.

Then I noticed, in tiny letters beside cock, the word “BRAND”. It was an ad for some brand of Diwali fireworks, signified by a horizontal line of white and yellow flame under the writing.

This India, she keeps surprising.


Just Another Thought

On a certain Tuesday evening, the sky swirled with the grim colours of an oncoming storm — layers of heavy grayscale clouds, allowing only a muted glow to show through where the sun should be setting.

The flock of bipeds scurrying about on the surface was barely bothered by this. Barely flustered, barely moved. Barely affected. They went about their business with stony single-mindedness, inert to whatever spectacle was on display in the heavens. To them, the task at hand was their current destiny; it cannot be delayed, postponed for a few seconds.

And so this huge swirling Tuesday evening sky was deprived of its entire meaning. It lost its destiny and disappeared into the inky indifferent blackness of night. For it was not there for the rains, not for the depression or climate change. It was just another Tuesday evening sky, like so many ‘just another’ things that life is cluttered with. You don’t see their purpose because their purpose is not any visible event, change or requirement. It is not obvious why these ‘just another’ things are here, these murky yet beautiful Tuesday evening skies, the rainbow, the clear full moon. It is not obvious, because their purpose is you.

All the world’s a stage, and when you are tired of acting, you are sometimes allowed to be the spectator while the creator of the stage arranges entertainment. It’s a pity you cannot recognize it any more for what it is, let alone appreciate it.


And they remain just another thing.


Station 100843

Where do I go from here? Which is the next station? Irrelevant, half-forgotten questions amid the hubbub of life. But tell me, this station is called life. What will the next be called? What will be its properties? Will there be a next station?

Rain has a hormone in me. So does evening. I just haven’t named it yet. This idea came to me because of the evening. And although I have many ideas in the bathroom, it doesn’t have a hormone in me.

I wanted to ask her if she thinks I’ll be able to make it where I want to be in life, but she went offline because of a power-cut. Darn it.

Even if I’m a nobody when you transcend space and time, I wanna be a somebody in this confined state of being called Station 100843, Life.



Two Of Us #4

1Life Hey.

Neo Hey, long time no see. How ya doin’?

1Life Fine. Okay. Great. Look at the sky.

Neo Hmm, you seem yourself. Good, good.

1Life Look at the sky.

Neo Yeah, beautiful. Sort of like a light shining from beneath a surface.

1Life Wonder how many are looking up thinking just that right now.

Neo Not many. They don’t value what comes without price.

1Life You mean that which is priceless.

Neo Same thing.

1Life (Smiles.)

Neo What are you smiling at?

1Life Nothing. I… I can’t decide if I’m lucky or unlucky.

Neo Dah, what?

1Life I mean, look, I got a life full of possibilities, like this big white page to draw on, and this beautiful planet to live it on, and such a nice girl to spend it with,… and then I think it’s only for a lifetime. You’re gonna tell me now that I want a week when I’m given a day, but that’s not it. It’s like giving a child a really nice toy and then snatching it away, which is maybe worse than giving it to him in the first place. I can’t decide whether I got a great deal or a raw one that lookes like a great deal.

Neo You aren’t moaning, are you? You’re just contemplative.

1Life Hmm…

Neo Hey, I’m with you, right here. As long as you.

1Life I wish I had someone more real than you to talk to.

Neo You broke my heart.

1Life Sorry. I mean, thanks a lot, really, but you see, every now and then you need human company, a supportive environment, stuff. Ain’t got none of that. You know how it is at home — I’m just a studying machine. And all the stuff that releases the pressures in me are somehow or the other banned or disapproved of.

Neo You look like you’re gonna come up with something from the pit of your stomach right now.

1Life Yeah. I wish I were a horse. A wild tan mustang roaming the hills and forests of the cimmaron.

Neo And she’ll be the white one…

1Life Don’t laugh.

Neo You’re smiling.

1Life Life is too short a time to figure out its meaning, you know, N.

Neo Maybe it hasn’t got one.

1Life I find that an absurd idea.

Neo I find meaning an absurd idea.

1Life But that leaves us with the question ‘what was the point’?

Neo Point is as absurd, L.


Neo Okay, okay, maybe that’s not a good explanation after all. But hey, we’re all gonna know someday.

1Life Thanks a lot for reminding me, N.

Neo Oh, sorry. Wait, you’re…erm…mortiphobic.

1Life Don’t joke.

Neo You’ll see, L, it’s just like a scary ride at the amusement park. Your feet shake and you wanna go to the toilet all the time you’re standing in the line, but when you’re on the ride, you forget all of it. Then it’s just adrenaline.

1Life You can’t guarantee it. You’re just saying that to cheer me up.

Neo That’s my job, L. And hey, anyway, we’re going on that ride together. You’ll still have me then.

1Life (Smiles.)

Neo There. Got you.

1Life I think I need to call someone.

Neo Do it. I’m right here. With you. Everything’s ok.

1Life Hmm. Thanks. I don’t know how many are out there without their Neos.

Neo All of ‘em freakin’ people.

1Life I’m just waiting for a more real one. Don’t worry. You’ll live on in him.

Neo Or her.

1Life Whatever. I feel better.

Neo Good. Really great.

1Life Thanks a lot.

Neo You’ll find that him or her. Law of averages.

1Life Bye for now then. You’re my saviour man, my own personal Jesus Christ.

Neo Forgive him, God. He knows not what he says.

1Life Lol. Bye.

Neo Sayonara, soldier.


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