Definitely Not This Article

June 24, 2015

My beloved readers, I appeal to you as both a former editor, and a longtime reader of things: if you are married, please stop calling your wife ‘the wife’.1 Or your son ‘the son’. ‘My wife’ works fine.

At its best, this behaviour merely suggests a sort of delusion in which you imagine that nobody else has a wife and yours is the only one in the world. This is bad enough. But things get truly awful when two people start doing this on an email thread or message board. For example:

X: The wife likes bananas, so we shop at Sarojini Nagar.

Y: Everyone in my family likes peanuts, so we shop in Rajouri Garden.

Z: The wife likes catfish, so we shop at Alaknanda Complex.

Aadisht: I like Evergreen kesar rasmalai!

At the same time, thanks to their use of the definite article, I am imagining that it’s the same wife for X and Z. Like a timeshare. And when I know the wives in question and they are delightful ladies, this makes it all the more awkward.

So please, use ‘my’ instead of ‘the’.

1: Technically this applies to ‘the husband’ also, but empirically I’ve never seen anybody saying ‘the husband’. Perhaps this is because they say ‘the hubby’ instead, at which point my brain wipes away the memory of what they’ve just said to preserve me from the horror.

Would You Pledge Money if I Rode for Charity?

April 5, 2013

I started bicycling last year. I’ve been doing it regularly now for a little over a year, and I’ve improved a lot in the past six months especially. I can now easily ride 40 to 50 kilometres a day. If I practice really hard, by December 2013 I could possibly be riding a hundred kilometres or more a day without wearing myself out. If I achieve that sort of stamina, I could conceivably complete the Tour of Tamil Nadu (a thousand kilometres in a loop through mostly flat terrain in Tamil Nadu) or the Tour of Nilgiris (only eight hundred kilometres, from Bangalore to Chamrajnagar, but almost all of it through hilly terrain).

Both these tours are in the end of December, so I have eight months to train for them. Both tours also let you associate with a charitable cause and ride to raise awareness about what they do, and money to help them do it.

So let’s talk numbers. The registration for either tour will be approximately 18,000 rupees. The costs of transporting my bicycle from Delhi to South India, the costs of additional gear and provisions, et cetera, could come to about seven or eight thousand rupees. Let’s say twenty five thousand rupees total for the venture. I’m pretty confident that I can raise twenty five thousand rupees from my freelance writing from now until December.


If I’m getting this money from my freelancing anyway, I could just donate it to a charity of my choice straight away without going through the rigmarole of riding through South India. The activity only becomes worth it if you guys pledge to support the charity if I complete the ride, and end up donating more than twenty five thousand.

So I’m now asking you straight up: if I rode either the Tour of Tamil Nadu or the Tour of Nilgiris (I have three months to decide which), would you pledge money to a charity? If you would, please leave a comment.

Ideally, mention how much money you’d contribute in the comment, but if you feel shy about doing this in public, you can instead ask me to email you for the amount. If I get pledges for more than twenty five thousand rupees, I’ll do one of the rides instead of just donating my money directly.

Fine print:

  1. My charity of choice is Pratham, which does a bunch of stuff related to education in India, including monitoring school effectiveness, conducting interventions in education and child nutrition, and creating teaching material. I’d love it if you donated to these guys.
  2. But if you would rather contribute somewhere else, that’s okay too.
  3. It only counts if you’re donating over and above what you usually would. If you’re already giving ten thousand a year to a charity of your choice, please don’t do it again, just under my name. I’m asking for something extra.

And now, I’ll leave it to you to do the pledging in the comments.

The Economics of Autos and Cabs

July 24, 2011

Hello beloved readers. For a personal project, I’m trying to understand the economics of being an autowala or taxi-driver (especially in Mumbai). Do you have links or pointers to any research or other reading material about this? The topics I’m looking for include:

  • What the licensing system is
  • What the revenue and costs are
  • How the union politics work – how many unions there are, what there primary interests are, and so on and so forth
  • Whether there are different models of who owns and who rents the cab, or whether there’s one dominant practice
If you have links or citations, please do share them in the comments. If you have personal experience, please share that too.

Question to Loyal Readers

May 29, 2009

Dear non-Punjabi readers,

Punjab’s famous couples are Laila and Majnu, Heer and Ranjha, Sohni and Mahiwal, and Shirin and Farhad. I am curious. What are the equivalent doomed romances in Bongland, Ghaatiland, and South of Hebbal Flyover? Please tell me in comments.



Airtel EDGE

October 17, 2007

Does anybody actually use EDGE on Airtel? If so,

  • what do you actually do with it?
  • what kind of speed do you get?
  • how do you activate it?

Your answers will help me form a decision about whether I should break the habit of four years and buy a high-end phone.

(Specifically, is it feasible to use it to Twitter and blog on WordPress? You know the sort of posts I write, so keep that in mind, please.)

Laundry Management

September 11, 2007

Beloved readers (especially the Bangalore ones), please help. Does anybody know where I can buy the following things in Bangalore? Home Stop and Lifestyle don’t have them, and neither does the Dubai shop on CMH Road.

  1. A clotheshorse. As I mentioned earlier, drying clothes on the balcony puts them at risk of getting wet again in the rain, or being crapped on by pigeons.
  2. PVC bins. What I’m looking for is three or four bins with a small footprint, not too shallow and not too deep. The idea here is that when the clothes are dry, me or my maid can separate them into shirts, trousers, and miscellaneous, and store each category of clothes in its own bin through the week until I iron them on Sunday. Right now, everything is dumped into one undifferentiated pile on spread out newspapers, and it’s really quite distressing to look at. If the bins come in different colours, even better.

If you have a better idea for sorting dried laundry than bins, leave a comment about that, please.


September 8, 2007

Masabi told me today that me and Mukka appear in the first page of results on a Google search for ‘patelshot’.

This is not because my page rank has suddenly skyrocketed, but because the mainstream spelling of the phrase is Patel Shot. Dropping the space and converting the phrase into a single word seems to have been an IIM-B innovation.

IIM-B innovations must be spread and popularised. Therefore, dear readers, I appeal to you: the next time you find a  photograph of some random tourist in the foreground of a famous monument, please call it a ‘Patelshot’ and not a ‘Patel shot’. I will be very grateful to you for this act of kindness.

Dear Radio City,

August 12, 2007

I have taken Wimpy’s advice and started listening to your breakfast show on my drive to work. While Vasanthi is not as awesome as Indigo’s Malavika, there is no denying that she is very good indeed. Listening to her in the morning helps a corporate ho like myself face the numbing reality of his life one day at a time.

Considering your promos advertise Vasanthi rather than the music, you seem to have realised that she adds substantially higher brand value than the Bollywood songs (which all other stations have anyway) or the traffic report (likewise). So I fail to see why you don’t give her more airtime.

I first have to sit through five minutes of ads. Then you play a promo pitching Sunshine Girl Vasanthi. Then, to my utter annoyance, instead of hearing Sunshine Girl Vasanthi, I hear Deedar De or something equally useless. Followed by another song on the same lines. After fifteen minutes of ads and songs I don’t want to hear, Vasanthi gives a two minute traffic update or contest, after which the cycle repeats itself.

For the love of FSM, end this madness. I want to hear Sunshine Girl Vasanthi, not Bollywood songs. Please. Give her more airtime. Instead of going straight to the songs, let her speak for a while. And also please stop playing songs that are more suitable for a party in Patiala than for a morning commute. If you do this you can rest assured that I will switch permanently from Cindu and The Big Breakfast.