Monday, October 19, 2009


James and John were twins, but they were as different as two people could possibly be. John was a doctor who worked tirelessly serving poor people. Every year he gave thousands of dollars to charity. John was also a devout man who had not missed church in 30 years. James on the other hand was a gambler. He had been to jail many times for robbery, selling drugs and destroying property. He used drink every night and beat his wife. He was also an atheist who desecrated churches.

As it often happens with twins, James and John died the same day, James a few moments before John. To John's delight and to James' surprise, they found themselves in front of God, standing in a line. Behind God, there were two paths, one to Heaven, one to Hell.

James was first. He tried to open his mouth to speak, but he was unable to. For a few seconds, James stood meekly in front of the Creator. "Heaven" decided the Lord, and James was carried away by Angels along the heavenly path.

John was surprised by the decision, but he reasoned that God knew all; maybe there was a spark of goodness in his brother. John was happy for James.

Then came John's turn. John stood with his head bowed, humbled by the Almighty. Patiently he waited for his decision. "Hell" replied God, to John's great dismay. As demons came to take him away, he tried to think what wrong he had done to deserve eternal damnation.

As the demons were taking him away, he saw at last how God decided man's fate. God was fair. God was just. God was good.

God tossed a coin.

Monday, October 05, 2009


Who could have guessed that a letter from the department of revenue was what ruined Malini Srinivasan's marriage?

In retrospect, all the classic signs were already there. Srini had been coming home late for the past few weeks. Work, dinner with important clients, deadlines: he had made the usual excuses and she had believed him.

The letter changed everything.

The letter came when Malini was in the kitchen; she did not open it immediately. She was cooking Srini's favorite urundai kozhambu and wanted to get everything ready by 6:00pm. Srini had promised her that he would come home early. At 5:45, exhausted but satisfied with the afternoon's work, she sat down on the sofa and waited for her husband.

He came home at 11:30.

"Sorry dear, already saapaDaama .... Good night" was all he said before going to bed. The perfunctory apology was somehow worse than an insult.

Malini couldn't sleep. Looking for something to occupy her mind, she picked up the letter that had arrived earlier. It was from the Department of Revenue. It was addressed to her husband, but since Malini did all their taxes, she didn't hesitate to open it. As expected it was a property tax receipt.

She was about to file it away, when she saw something strange. The address on the receipt was not of their house. Strange, she thought, the receipt was posted to the correct address.

A seed of doubt was planted; and it grew. Malini started going through his credit card statements: not even one entry was a restaurant. So much for the dinner-with-clients lie. As she went through more statements, she began to understand the extent of her husband's betrayal.

Nobody knew how Malini got a gun, but she did. Two days after the letter, Malini waited for her husband; she would give him one last chance at coming out clean. But he didn't come.

At 7:00pm Malini hailed an auto to the address on the receipt. It was a nondescript house in a shady part of town. Without making a sound, she tried the door; it was unlocked.

The smell! The smell hit her just as she entered the house. It hardened her resolve; she knew what she was about to do was right.

There wasn't much furniture in the hall, just a table and a chair. A recipe book was lying opened on the table. Malini could hear her husband humming from the kitchen. She took out her gun and made her way towards him.

Srini was shocked to see his gentle, loving wife standing there with a gun in her hand. Nervously he glanced towards the vessel on the stove and back at her. "Is that what I think it is?" Malini asked him. He didn't have to answer, the look on his face said it all.

She closed her eyes and shot him.

She made the headlines in the newspaper the next day: "Tamil Brahmin Wife kills husband for eating non-veg food".

Saturday, October 03, 2009

How to escape an Indian wedding

Has this ever happened to you?: You're sitting there, shirtless, with a mangaLasutra in your hand and you suddenly get cold feet. You think of all the western men who leave their brides standing at the altar. But you can't do that because (a) the bride isn't standing (b) there is no easy path from the altar to the door.

It's clear you need a better plan.

Don't underestimate the Indian wedding ceremony: thousands of years have refined it to be almost impossible for a groom to escape. But with the right planning and technology, it can be defeated. And I will teach you how. So pay attention.

Here's a list of things you will need:
  • one half sleeve shirt
  • one pair of jeans
  • Rs 7.50 in exact change
  • 200 grams of Cycle brand saambraNi*
  • two M47 submachine guns
  • two Smith and Wesson .50 handguns
  • thirty hand grenades
  • one auto rickshaw

First, you need to make a map of the wedding hall. A typical wedding hall looks like this:

Here is what you do on the wedding day. Remember, even the smallest mistake can ruin your plan, so learn this by heart.

a) Pretend your leg is itching, reach into your panche and take out the packet of saambraaNi. Put it into the agnikunD. This will cause a lot of smoke, which will hide you taking out the guns.

b) Take one handgun in each hand. With the left gun, shoot the bride, with the other, shoot the poojari. Aim for the head. Show no mercy, they are the enemy. Drop the guns, their work is done.

c) With the machine gun, start shooting people on the dias. There is no need to be accurate. Make your way towards the stairs, but keep shooting.

d) Now you have two choices. I have illustrated both with diagrams. Choose one of them.

Plan A: Turn sharply left. With the left hand shoot at the people on the bride's side. Lob grenades to the groom's side. After you reach the midpoint, switch hands and start lobbing grenades on the bride's side. When you reach the corner, turn sharply right and run to the door. Once you reach the door, lob all the grenades and jump out of the door.

Plan B: Keep walking on the centre aisle, and keep shooting people with both hands. Once you reach the midpoint, turn around, throw the guns and start throwing grenades as you run back. Once you reach the door, lob the last grenade at the musicians.

e) Hurray! you're out. But your work is not yet done. If you get caught now, they'll make you marry the bride's sister.

f) Run towards the auto. You should have parked it facing the road. Rev it up and off you go.

g) Chord Road to Majestic is normally 30 minutes; you need to do it in 10. Avoid Anand Rao Circle, it's congested at this time. While you're driving put on the jeans and shirt.

h) Go to platform 4, catch the 86. If you can't, get into a 265. Avoid the puskpaks, you only have Rs 7.50.

i) Get down at dasarahaLLi. Congratulations, you are home! You've done it!

Note: The same plan, with a few minor modifications, will work for the bride as well. I would suggest a Flame Thrower instead of a machine gun.

* saambraaNi is the resin of the Commiphora wightii tree, which when put on hot coal, produces lots of smoke.