Thursday, September 03, 2015

What if they remade “Modern Family” in India?

First of all it won’t be a comedy. It will be a soap opera. Soapiest of the operas. With a lot of changes. A bloody hell lot of changes!



  1. Pritchets would be Parashars, needless to say a rich business family and you would never know (in the course of its 14836392 episodes) what in God’s name is the damn business.
  2. Jay Pritchet would be Jai Parashar and he would have at least 2 brothers. (yes, no sisters because on Indian TV you are more likely to have brothers than sisters, unless the serial is about the sister!) Of course the brothers would have their own families and everyone would be living under a single roof (of a giant-ass bungalow named ‘Parashar Villa’). Half of those 14836392 episodes would be spent in family preparing to cook meals, cooking those meals, eating them, praising the ‘Bahus’ for preparing the meals and taking second helpings of their ‘manpasand gajar-ka-halwa’.
  3. Gloria would be a South Indian named Gauri (or Gayatri). She would have a thick Tamil accent and would not be half the age of Jai because on Indian TV even if people marry twice (oh you’ve no idea how many times they marry on TV!) they marry someone their age. And there always is some one willing to marry a widow or widower.
  4. Dunphys would be Dubeys and this family would be more or less same. Phil would be Phani, Claire would be Cauvery and theirs would be an arranged marriage because, obviously! And oh yes, Haley won’t have any affairs because teenagers on Indian TV are supposed to be either gentle, docile, God (and parents) fearing, moral cardboard characters or aggressive, conniving, amoral cardboard characters and lest you forget, cardboard characters can’t have relationships.
  5. Cam and Mitch won’t be gays. Cam would be a woman, named Kamya and they would be married because on Indian TV a) you can’t be a gay character and b) you definitely can’t be living in with your partner even if you are not gay. Kamya’s parents would be more important characters and they would definitely be taking more interest in their daughter’s life and her share in Parashar’s business and money. Because on Indian TV, in-laws are either back-slapping, merrily-laughing, gajar-ka-halwa-munching ‘Samdhis’ or they are back-stabbing, scheming, scowling SOBs whose appearance is accompanied by evil music.
  6. Luke would be the sharp one, not Alex. Because on Indian TV, how can the son not be the torch bearer.
  7. There would background score. Plenty of it. The regular happy, sad, naughty (not THAT kind of naughty you know, nothin’ on Indian TV is THAT kind of naughty!), scheming music pieces along with that familiar ‘balle-balle’ sound everytime a Sikh guy shows up and a ‘hadippa’ everytime he opens his mouth. Basically any subtle moment would be dealt with a sledgehammer of background score, just in case you need to know what to feel when watching the show at any given time.
  8. And last but definitely not the least it would be called ‘Family No. 1’. Because Indian TV loves its numbers and nothing on it can be modern anyways.
The makers of this show don’t need to worry about copyright issues. I am absolutely sure that ‘Modern Family’ writers won’t be able to pick any traces of their show from its Indianized version.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The photographer without camera

(This post was originally written for and posted on Medium.com. It can be read here.)

We had reached the station almost an hour in advance but it wasn’t till the last announcement of the arrival of the train when I realized, with my heart sinking to the depths of Mariana Trench, that I had left my camera bag resting on the sofa at home!
We were on a three day monsoon trip to Mahabaleshwar, that favorite haunt of Mumbaikars and Punekars, taking Mumbai Express from Hyderabad to Pune and then cab to the hill station. I had charged both batteries of my Nikon D 7000 and had bought an extra memory card as well.
For a fleeting moment, I thought of abandoning the vacation and returning back to home but certainly that was not an option. For next few solitary minutes my brain did a multi-tasking juggling thoughts of self-loathing, wondering what-awesome-sights-I am-going-to-miss-capturing-on-camera, self-loathing, may-be-this-isn’t-such-a-bad-thing, self-loathing, I-will-try-iPhone-photography and yes, self-loathing.
As the train’s headlights started showing up, gradually becoming clearer, I convinced myself that this is going to be an experiment: how a compulsive clicker stayed away from a camera on a scenic hill station at its most beautiful time of the year. I will document my experiences and it will be one for the man-kind. (OK I made that last one up!)
The train had now entered the platform and as I told Shweta, her first response didn’t help at all.
“So now your mood will be off throughout the trip!”
God, woman! Don’t you understand this is what I myself am afraid of and need you to cheer me up not vocalize my worst fear. I gave a curt reply and it could have snowballed but by now we had to get aboard the train so this conversation was thankfully left back at the platform.



On the train, I tried to keep my thoughts away from this debacle and focus on other things. It was very pleasant atmosphere with rains having lashed Hyderabad earlier that day. We were traveling sleeper class after quite a while and I wasn’t missing the air-conditioning of the 3rd AC, which as we all like to remind whoever is listening, ‘is the new sleeper’ of Indian Railways.
Shweta meanwhile was in her elements, ready to throw money at every problem on which it can be thrown.
“We will buy a new camera in Pune and sell it once we are back”
One up!
“Let’s buy you a new camera and you can retire your existing one”
And somethings that made sense as well.
“Google camera rentals in Pune. There must be something.”
And perched on upper berth for next couple of hours, struggling with here-a-moment-gone-the-next data connection, I found some companies which rented out cameras (High zooms to high end DSLRs with lenses) in Pune. I managed to get phone number and talked to one of them. By the time I slept, though disappointed that my carelessness is going to set us back by few thousands, I had hope in the heart that may be the trip can still be salvaged. (All thoughts about ‘experiment’ were forgotten!)
Next morning I learned two things.
First, that Indian trains can be punctual. On the dot to be precise. Anticipating at least half an hour delay in reaching and I had booked the cab accordingly but due to this (unwelcome!) punctuality of the train we had an hour to kill at the Pune Railway Station before the cab came.
Second, it’s not easy to rent photography equipment. You had to be registered with the company, which would need address proofs (electricity or phone bill etc.), identity proofs and post-dated cheques. And couple of guarantors! Needless to say rental plans flew out and I was back in ‘experiment’ mode.
You can take a camera away from a photographer but you can’t take it away from his eyes. For next three days, for countless times, I saw things around and visualized how I would have shot them (and how good the results would be!). The landscapes, the flowers, the rain, the people on streets. Everything.
But then there were times when I felt not having a camera was a blessing as I was spending lot more time experiencing things and making mental notes and memories. As a photographer it is always good to step away from the subject and take an all-round look to ensure that you can see its multiple aspects. As a photographer it is always very difficult to do, when you have a camera in your hand with virtually no limits to the photos you can take. Not having a camera taught me this lesson.

In the end it wasn’t a complete abstinence from photography (the iPhone and Nokia Lumia 730 did quite a bit of work) but I wasn’t missing the camera so much.
But I won’t repeat the experiment. At least I won’t want to.

Friday, November 28, 2014

In which they all said Good Bye!

A few months ago I had tweeted that a potentially difficult decision was waiting for DYPC's fate. What it would be, even I didn't know at that time.

Couple of curious friends asked me about it. I didn't answer. They didn't ask again.

The answer was given last week: DYPC would be shutting down by end of November. It was greeted with same question from everyone: Why? Wife was even more surprised because only couple of months ago I had spent several nights updating a lot of code to simplify the process and make it more automated. What could have gone wrong in such short span of time? It was not a straight forward answer. It had taken me weeks to select between opting for a simpler directory model and discontinuing completely.

DYPC was not my brain child. It was Ankur's but I gave it my everything: time, passion, money (it wasn't very needy but whatever little it needed for hosting). Every few months some or other friends or volunteer would pitch in with an offer to help and some would even help for a few days. But it remained a lonely journey more or less for almost ever.

Every completed donation was a morale boosting affair. The "Thank You" mails from requesters would make all the time spent in mailing donors and requesters and even multiple followups seem worth everything. But lately the number of followups had increased and many times the conversation was getting stretched for several weeks (even months at times!) resulting in donors losing patience and ultimately donating PC to someone else. After doing everything, to be quite honest, such thanklessness on part of requesters was extremely demotivating. To be honest, this problem had become a norm rather than exception. Even after I updated code and made sending reminders easy enough process with warning of stricter actions it didn't help.

I guess it was the monotony. And probably the fact that DYPC became a pretty much thankless service. It was just existing and without any motivation (and support, if I may use that word!) it was not growing in any manner. Fatigue has started seeping in from quite some time now. Greeting e-mailers on special occasions had already stopped. Our blog was never exactly buzzing with activity but the occasional post was now limited to only occasional mention in media. Mails to the DYPC Google group (which went unresponded most of the times) too were discontinued. And nobody ever asked me why! To me it seemed that it just didn't matter to anyone. Maybe it did, maybe I was wrong. Too bad, we will never know. (Yeah, I am behaving like a child who is sulking because nobody would play with him!)

I will be blamed for not diversifying DYPC operations, not distributing the tasks, not forming a team, not continuing with an idea that was so novel that it is still not replicated. May be I will never plead guilty or may be it WAS my fault. Did I try hard enough or was I just plain unlucky? Again I don't know.

For that matter I don't even know whether to celebrate 6 year run of DYPC or mourn the loss of a venture that was so close to my heart. Even writing these words is reminding me of all those initial days when DYPC was in a nascent stage.

I will be moving on to other things but DYPC will always be something I will always love and remember fondly. I just hope atleast someone else does too!

Good Bye DYPC.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

This blog just got a new post!

And now I am blank.

As I was trying to recall when was last time I blogged, I realize that I don't even remember how does my blog even look! And there was a time when I blogged quite often, had more than 1 active blogs, used to follow other blogs and commented on them (in more than 140 characters), even attended a blogger meet.

And now I don't even remember what my blog looks like! How did things come to this? I am desperately trying to find the reasons (to be able to put the blame on someone, anyone!)

My last post on this blog was on 27 November 2012. The post on my 'technical' blog was on 30th May 2013. My last tweet was 2 hours ago. The same was probably posted on my Facebook. May be somebody has already 'liked' or 'commented' on it.

Do I blame Twitter or Facebook for being dormant? Yes. Why write a 300 word article keeping language and grammar in mind, wait for comment notification mail, check for the number of hits to see how many people have read it, keep on waiting for comment notification, visit some other blogs and leave comments on them in hope that they return the favor, lose all hope in humanity when they don't, finally get a comment only to find that it reads "Latin ladyboys http://shemales.xblog.in/?page.breonna labyboy pics transvestite sex tgirl freeshemale.cum transexuals movies on Dhoni demands Motera pitch to be laid in every ground of India", kill yourself.

Instead write some witty shit in 140 characters, ignoring any semblance to what may seem like a normal english language sentence, if you can't think of anything yourself or if your wit is limited to 'Kejriwal izz Pakistani Agent. @bdutt #ChorMedia Modi izz Indian patriot. #GayForModi' (ok that last hashtag won't be there, but you get the idea) nick someone else's tweet or Whatsapp message and get instant gratification of getting RTd (Pro Tip: If you want to be RTd by Subramanyam Swami or any of the gazillions of Modi-tards use the tweet given above!)

However if your luck was forged in lead like me, you will not be able to do even that and then Facebook is 'just what the doctor ordered' (this phrase is a creation of Ravi Shastri, see I don't nick things off just like that!) Here the likes and comments are mutually exchanged, as explained to me by my wife!

But then the biggest hurdle is a word that starts with 'pro' and ends with 'ation'. No, I am not talking about procreation. Yeah, I did that once and the result is a little human who has just discovered that there is a power button on laptop which can shutdown everything but somehow it is lesser fun than trying to scratch out the keys on the keyboard. And that trying to wake me up by putting fingers is in my nose is more effective than an alarm clock.
The little human proving that none of my blog posts were eaten by her.

I actually meant Procrastination. They say practice makes a man perfect. You see I have been trying to procrastinate since forever and finally I think I am there!

So if you are reading this (really, you are reading this? yet?) I thank you very much. I hope you will leave a comment or like or RT or whatever it is that Google is forcing us to do these days through Google+. I will see you in another 15 months.