Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sound and Fury

Am I the only one..................

who is royally pissed that Indian newspaper readers and TV-viewers are relentlessly bombarded with the vapid self-promotion and bullshit posturing of pompous windbag Piyush Pandey? I mean, It's hard enough to deal with him (started as an account exec, mysteriously transferred to the O&M creative department after 7 years) and his talentless hack brother (another adman) and decibel-busting sister (Vote for Ghaghra WTF!!) posing as some sort of genius family of super-achievers. But now he's gone and outdone himself.

To promote a new sports channel (all right scratch that - cricket channel), his agency created two ads purportedly showing the sporting rivalry felt by Indians towards the West Indies (the Caribbean for the non-cricket crazy) who are currently playing against India. This is what the ads showed, in a nutshell.

A West Indian, eating at a dhaba, finds the food too hot and spicy. He is desperate for water but nobody gives him any. Even the tap he sprints to runs dry.
Punchline: It’s tough being a West Indian in India.

A West Indian couple is cosying up on a boat ride. The Indian boatman looks at them angrily and jumps into the water, leaving them stranded.
Punchline: It’s tough being a West Indian in India.

Source: The Hindustan Times January 23, 2007

In both ads, the West Indian protagonists were black Caribbeans. Now all the sound and fury over Shilpa Shetty apart, we all know the sort of belittling bordering on hostile racist behaviour that people of African origin face in India. Anyone with half a brain can see that the ads legitimize such behaviour in the name of rooting for the country (how many Indians in any case can distinguish between black Caribbeans, Africans, other members of the African diaspora, etc.)

And what is the reaction of the O&M big boss whose creative team came up with this gem?

Piyush Pandey, the creative director of Ogilvy & Mather (O&M), the advertising agency that made the promotional films, said there was no racism in the ads. “People who think the ads are racist can go take a *****. I enjoyed them tremendously,” Pandey said.

I can totally see how folks like Piyush Pandey would enjoy tremendously what Alyque Padamsee, in his charming English-inflected Hindi, called "gadhagiri". Alyque, bless is heart, is too kind.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I'm Doomed to Hotdogs and Whiskey for the Rest of the Year

My last post took way took long to come through, and look what happened - a year went by already! Best wishes for the new year everyone, and given what party animals the whole lot of you are, I have no doubt you contributed robustly to liquor sale spikes, chaotic dance floors, much midnight smoochies and general benevolence.

Let me write down my adventures for the night before I forget all of them. As it is, I only remember about 32 per cent of the night, the rest of my memories pilfered and spirited away by Mr. Chivas Regal (ha ha "spirited away", ain't I such a punster....umm....ewww).

I do remember how it all began though. Well, there was Em and I, and He Pumpkin and She Pumpkin. And we sort of got invited to the house of a woman who's the friend of Em's cousin. Interesting character, beautiful woman, a published author who also does a bunch of other things. Her house is in this really nice part of town, close to the Hollywood hills, in a neighbourhood full of artsy cafes, live music, bookstores and cool restaurants. Perfect setting for a writer's abode.

But the number one concern for us el cheapos was - how do we keep our good booze well-hidden so we save it up for private consumption? You see, we brought an entire keg of beer for the house, but we also had bottles of rum, whiskey and champagne that we wanted just for ourselves. Yes, selfish indeed, but have you seen how people wolf down good quality free booze at parties? There would have been nothing left for us.

Finally after we entered the house, we found a safe spot behind a tree in her yard where we stowed away our stash. However, we had reached the house with only about 20 minutes to go before midnight, so soon it was champagne time, and we pulled out our champagne bottle and guzzled down. Lots of hugs were exchanged, and then Em poured out a glass of Chivas Regal each for me and himself.

TM: "Dude, do you realize you've filled the glass with whiskey"

Em: "No dude, it's just ice. There's hardly any whiskey"

TM: "Umm..ok"

I was thirsty, and that cold whiskey on the rocks was very tempting. So I started gulping my whiskey down and had emptied the glass in a few minutes. There, that wasn't so bad now. And voila! I'm not even drunk. I'm....just......happy.......and......hungry.

Someone was barbecuing hotdogs in a corner. Em and I went and scored a hotdog each.

TM: "Dude, this is like, you know like, the most amazing hotdog ever"

Em: "Yeah, totally the greatest hotdog"

And, then we shared a burger.

TM: "Incredible! Best burger ever"

Em: "Wow, so juicy and tender"

TM: "You know Em, whiskey makes everything better"

Em: "Yeah, hotdogs and whiskey, great combination"

And then, in a fit of excessive generosity, Em gave me another humungous whiskey on the rocks. Which I proceeded to finish off with great urgency. Now this is where things start getting a bit blurry. All I remember are snatches of conversation.

Conversation #1

She Pumpkin, I and Dude #1 (French guy, builds boats)

SP: "Hey, that guy has a weird look on his face"

Dude #1: "Yeah, apparently his wife was making out with someone else a few minutes ago. He's pissed"


Dude #1: "So, as I was telling you, I met this chick at a New Year party here a few years ago. Within an hour, we found an empty room in the house and had sex"

SP and TM (mentally): Dream on loser!

Conversation #2

TM and Dude #2 (some sort of struggling film director)

(I swear I have no idea how this conversation even started)


Dude #2: "So, who's your favourite author"

TM (mentally): yeah, like the folks who write books and stuff. Oh yeah, author, ha ha ha.

Try as I might, I couldn't think of a single name.

TM: "You know, I do love poetry. I love Ted Hughes"

Dude #2: "Umm....Sylvia Plath's husband, right?"

TM: "Quite frankly, Sylvia was so overrated. Ted was the real talent in that relationship"

Dude #2: "Oh, absolutely. You are so correct"

TM (mentally): How pathetic. Too chicken to admit he's read neither Plath nor Hughes.

I wasn't about to give up.

TM: "And I also like Seamus Heaney, Constantin Cavafy, Odysseas Elitis, Philip Larkin, Eliot, Lorca........

Dude #2 (alarmed): "and, and......Emily Dickinson?"

TM: "Dickinson? Yeah, I've read Dickinson."

Dude #2: "and, Frost?"

TM: "Yes, Frost too"

Dude #2: "and, Whitman and Poe"

TM: "yes, some of Whitman, and some of Poe as well"

TM (mentally): What other name from your high school poetry class are you pulling up next?

Dude #2 "and Emerson?"

TM (yawn): "I need to go pee."

Apparently, my night's adventures also included being hit on by a fairly nice looking middle aged Jewish man (I do remember telling him he looked quite Jewish, and he said he got mistaken for Italian often. But that's it, the rest of our talk is a blur)

And then, there was weird creepy lawyer guy, who was apparently celebrating his birthday. And at some point I was dancing alone on the dance floor (I have no idea how I got there) and he whispered into my ear how he had seen naked pictures of Indian women online. Ha ha, what a revelation! Get a better pickup line, you perv!

After the party slowed down, the Pumpkins, Em and I headed home. As we were passing through downtown, Em and I decided we were hungry and stopped at the Standard 24-hour diner for some grub. I was still very much under the influence, and when the waiter asked me what kind of cheese I wanted on my burger, I put on my best seductive voice and said:

"Cheddar, please" (this should come with a voice effect to convey just how idiotic I sounded)

And then I proceeded to make an ass of myself by literally wolfing down the fries that came with my burger. This is particularly embarassing because the Standard is a very trendy and posh place, and Em and I are regulars at the diner. I haven't drunk large quantities of alcohol in a very long time, so didn't remember the horrible attack of munchies that follows.

But at the moment of my drunkenness, eating presentably, or making decent conversation was the last thing on my mind. What was my biggest concern through the night? I'm pretty sure any girl who's had many an alcohol soaked night would immediately identify with this:

Did I lock the door of the bathroom, and did it stay locked as I peed?

Don't laugh, I've had one too many adventure in club bathrooms, where girls have been just too drunk to secure the latch of their bathroom stalls, sitting on the throne in full view of all. As far as I know, I don't think I managed to traumatize any fellow bathroom users.

By all accounts, I think I had a fun night, though I find it very hard to remember most of it. Here's wishing everyone a very wonderful new year, in which you manage to ensnare every opportunity that comes your way.