Sonali Desai

Puncture Guru

Rajeev’s open letter, with a pinch of Tata iodised salt

You must have heard of Rajeev Chandrashekhar, the MP from Bengaluru, who went and squatted inside a park. He’ll tell you he squatted as a patriotic duty, but that’s another story. He’s now saying Tata isn’t as pure as he makes himself out to be. Tata uppu is both pure and iodised, but Rajeev believes you can’t say that of Tata himself. All of which tells us that there’s something Ratan in the state of… never mind which state. This is a national scandal.
Rajeev has written an open letter to Tata, accusing him of benefiting from out-of-turn spectrum allocation and hoarding of spectrum. (What Rajeev writes in closed letters is no one’s concern, so, dear reader, stop acting smart and asking irrelevant questions.) We’d heard of ration shop owners hoarding rice and sugar, but spectrum hoarding is an altogether new thing. And to think the great Tata did it! Rajeev describes himself as a former telecom entrepreneur – he’s currently a politics entrepreneur – injured by unfair policies. Poor Rajeev is upset that a great company like the Tatas should be hypocritical. As we say here in Bengaluru, the Tatas are perhaps trying to keep a flower on our ear.
Coming back to the squatting case, Rajeev will tell you he did it for the cause of a war memorial, and it’s just co-incidental that the memorial is right opposite his father-in-law’s house, which, equally co-incidentally, is a stone’s throw from the governor’s house. All of Bengaluru may say Rajeev should build the memorial elsewhere, but he wants it there, and nowhere else. As you can see, he respects public opinion so much. But then, even great democrats are felled by sundry babus when they go to wage their battles in Delhi. Make that sundry babus and sundari PR consultants. Rajeev failed to get spectrum allocation, but then, he should be happy he has managed to get some real estate allocation. By the way, have you heard that song? Uppa tinda mele Niira kudiyalebeku.

Katta’s pilgrimage
Now Katta Subramanya Naidu has lost his job because the Lokayukta thinks he’s always out to Katta deal, er, cut a deal, for himself. The minister in the fur cap is now an ex-minister in a muffler. No wonder his words are coming out so muffled these days. His son Jagadish, just out of jail, has filed a defamation case against the Lokayukta. When everyone thought Katta Senior had run away from the law, he returned to Bengaluru, saying he’d just taken a long-pending excursion to a pilgrim centre. There he tried to wash away all his sins, and probably succeeded to an extent, but washing away his sons isn’t going to be so easy. What’s the family’s crime? Apparently selling to the industrial board land that wasn’t theirs in the first place. A Raja may have sold spectrum that wasn’t his, so this must be a season of selling things that don’t belong to you.
Psst… we’ve got this real nice building for sale. It’s called the Vidhana Soudha. Want to buy it?

Looking for beauty, eh?
And in the cyber world, ‘Katrina’ has emerged the most searched word on the Net. Looks like more men in the world are searching for beauty on Google than in real life. And we also realised why many things about the web are described of cutting edge. There’s Katrina, and we’re sure there must also be Chaakuna and Choorina. All cutting edges.

Wikileaks and Radialeaks

Confused about Wikileaks? Let’s explain it in simple words. American leaders make inspiring speeches when they visit countries across the globe. When Obama came here last month, he said many glorious things about India. Apparently, Wikileaks is going to show us what these very same leaders say behind the world leaders’ backs. From what we hear, they called the Russian president an ‘alpha dog.’ (As someone said in another context, he may be an alpha dog, but to his mom he will always be beta, no?)
In any case, this undoubtedly is the season of leaks, and Wikileaks is a bit like Radialeaks. First there was Radia and Barkha, and then there was Radia and Tata, and then there was Radia and Vir Sanghvi, and so on and so forth. Ratan Tata has approached the Supreme Court saying his private conversations with PR diva Nira Radia should not be published in the media. So cute.
While we are on the Tatas, have you seen those colourful messages they paint behind the lorries? OK. Tata. Sound Horn. Don’t take that so seriously. Ratan Tata doesn’t want to hear anyone sounding any horn loudly. And now for a PJ: In winter, leaks are always more frequent. So, is Wikileaks all about Americans pissing on the rest of the world?

The forgotten G
Meanwhile, prime minister Manmohan Singh, cornered in the 2G scam and looking, as usual, a bit lost, said he only knew two Gs: Sonia G and Rahul G. Good try, sir, but we are sure you know another G. It’s Parle-G, and it’s a biscuit that all of India loves. A Raja may have been the face of the 2G scam, but he couldn’t have got away with it all these days if he hadn’t thrown biscuits at every turn. So, prime minister sir, to understand how biscuits can win you friends, you must also be aware of Parle G.

Leftover flyovers
Back here in Bengaluru, our councillors love flyovers, just as flies love leftovers. And once our flyovers are done, they actually look like leftovers. Look at the one on Double Road. Once they had built it, they changed the direction of the traffic. So what ought to have been the entrance became the exit, and vice versa. Vice and worse, actually. Now they have sliced up the flyover into two awkward lanes, one of which tapers down crazily. Would be thrilling in an action film, but then, hardly anyone who drives to work and back is a James Bond.

Yeddy said, ‘Ayyo Gadkari, sumkiri!’

Okay, so you think tainted Yeddyurappa ought to have been sacked? We agree, but we’ll tell you why we also want to shake his hands. Yeddyurappa did something fantastic: he went to Delhi, cocked a snook at his party’s central leaders, and then flew back to Bangalore to a hero’s welcome. (The old airport came alive to nadaswaram music and firecrackers, while poor citizens thought all along that it had been closed for good!).
Now, can you ever imagine any Congress leader telling his high command to, uh, buzz off? Can you ever imagine a Congress leader contemptuously ignoring a summons from Delhi? And can you ever imagine a Krishna or a Deshpande or a Shivakumar telling their bosses, “Stop nagging me. Without me, your party is sunk!”? On the day Gadkari and Co were waiting to seek his resignation, Yeddyurappa told them, “Sorry guys, I’m busy. Try later!” And then he goes to Puttaparthi, and then, whoosh! He vanishes into thin air.
And when the fat cats are scratching their heads at the party headquarters, he suddenly startles them by appearing in Delhi. A Baba miracle, you’d say. Whatever it was, it was mystery, drama, and fun. And if the screaming TV anchors had given us a moment’s peace, we’d have called Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the movie director who has just released Guzaarish. He could watch the Yeddyurappa drama and make a sequel. Title suggestion: Bizarrish.

No 1 in shoplifting
We also hear India has won another distinction: we’re world No 1 in shoplifting for 3 years in a row. How did we achieve that? Well, there was no way we could have lost this challenge. With stalwarts like Andimuthu Raja, Suresh Kalmadi, and Bookanakere Yeddyurappa leading our nation, we are sure to come out winners when it comes to sports like shoplifting, stadium-lifting, land-lifting, spectrum-lifting… And then, there was that IAS officer in Delhi who wouldn’t lift a finger unless Ukranian girls were sent to him. Once his demand was met, he’d lift not only his finger to gift away the nation’s secrets, but also lift other things we can’t mention in a family newspaper. Chee kalla!

Ladoo and prasad
Ravi Inder Singh, it has come to light, also used to refer to bribes as ladoo and prasad. Looks like people in Bihar agree with him. Which is why they said goodbye to Ladoo Prasad Yadav, and embraced Nitish Kumar, who has so far kept away from ladoos and prasad. Also, Inder Singh also used refer to call girls as Ukranian software. If software comes, can viruses be far behind? Check out his later phone calls. He’s probably talking about aunty virus.

Barkha pada Barkha
You must of heard of this glamorous PR diva called Nira Radia. She used to represent the Tatas and the Ambanis, and dial everybody who was a somebody in politics, business, and journalism. In the course of her phone calls, she also got to speak to our TV icons Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi, triggering a debate about the rights and wrongs of PR and journalism. Now about Barkha. Her parents wanted her to be a journalist, and gave her a sweet Kannada name: Barko (Keep writing). But then she grew up and TV happened. The northerners couldn’t get her name right, and started calling her Badko (Keep screaming). Poor thing, she had to live up to that name; that’s why she talks so much. And this Nira Radia… who ever knew her phone would be tapped, and she’d turn into Nira Radio, broadcasting top secrets to the whole world? While the Facebook sorts were discussing what they called Barkhagate, elsewhere, people were watching the new Harry Potter release, The Deathly Hallows. So much excitement. It was Deathly Hallows vs Deathly Hellos, no?

Who kept Raja’s cash?

So now that A Raja is finally gone, and the Times of India put out a story about how modestly he lives, we have to ask this question: Where did all the 2G money go?
If Karunanidhi’s “affectionate brother” continues to live under a humble little thatch in rural Tamil Nadu, those lakhs of crores that Raja allegedly stole must have landed elsewhere? Thambis in Tamil Nadu could tell you that quite a bit of the cash went to voters who cheerfully gave Karunanidhi’s party what the papers called a “thumping” victory.
We hear wads of currency notes landed into voters’ homes just before election day. Pious types believe God grants them money when they need it, and good fortune arrives in mysterious ways. But the more cynical say party  workers, and not God, went around flinging the wads through voters’ windows. And as the party workers zipped by, each home enjoyed a windfall of Rs 5,000.  All of which is giving new meaning to the old saying “Yatha raja, tatha praja”. As the raja, so his people.
Some jokes doing the rounds on Twitter:
* What biscuit does Raja eat? Parle 2G.
* What’s Raja drink? Spect-rum.
And the biggest joke of all: Kalaignar proclaiming that Raja had walked in the footsteps of Dr Ambedkar!

K Dude question
We ran into a dude who thought Raja was a guitarist. Huh? What’s the connection? “He sold his plectrum, right?” the dude asked. A plectrum, for those not initiated, is that plastic thingy they use to pluck guitar strings. That was not so bad, come to think of it. We’re only hoping we don’t run into a doctor who asks, “Raja? Isn’t he the guy who sold his rectum?”

Tharoor versus Roy
And in Thiruvananthapuram, MP Shashi Tharoor took on fellow Malayali Arundhati Roy and said she’d gone too far to the left by describing Maoists as Gandhian with guns. What might Ms Roy say in response, we’re wondering. That Tharoor is too much of a centrist to know what’s happening on the periphery? Anyway, TV audiences are all excited about the next big fight. What new names are our opinions leaders going to call one another now? We’ve heard a lot about the war on terror, but will Ms Roy launch a war on Tharoor? Come back after the break.

Prank bhi sexy
Did you read this report about school students in Kolkata who reportedly sent porn clips to their teacher in the middle of the night? See, this is what happens when you hear songs like “pant bhi sexy, shirt bhi sexy”… The kids must have reasoned that their prank could be sexy too. They were contrite when sir said he was going to march them to the cops, and said they were just having some innocent fun. Manoj Kumar had probably anticipated all this when he put that famous song into his film… Mere desh ki dirty…

Stop the SUVs?
Environment minister Jairam Ramesh (incidentally, nam Mysore kadeyoru) is angry about SUVs, and says they are misusing diesel subsidies meant for farmers. True, our farmers don’t normally drive Mercs and BMWs, and we understand why he’s outraged.
But has he considered this? Banning SUVs may be easy, but banning SUVvers who drive like maniacs is something else altogether.

Ombaba vs Sribaba

As Obama flew into India in his Air Force One plane, many things happened here in Bangalore. Since these significant things will never get reported on channels like Crimes Now, we might as well tell you… At an ashram on Kanakapura Road, devotees of Sribaba were astounded at all the media attention Obama was getting. A man known to dive at Sribaba’s feet with no rhyme or reason went around asking, “Who’s this Ombaba? Looks like he’s trying to compete with our Sribaba…” And then on TV, when he saw the American president breezing in confidently holding Michelle’s hand, he was reassured.  “Ah, he can’t be a baba. Babas never hold women’s hands in public,” he said, as he paced up and down the Art of Feeling ashram. But his depression returned when someone told him more about the VIP visitor. “It seems Ombaba has already won the Nobel peace prize, and here we are trying so hard to get Sribaba one,” the devotee was grumbling.

PAN masala
And just before Obama arrived in Mumbai, Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan was hopping mad. Reason: The American consulate sent him an invitation to meet Obama, and asked him to prove his identity by submitting his PAN card details. Now, we you all know, a PAN card is useful when you pay your income tax. And, as we all know, politicians never pay their taxes. On the other hand, they are always pocketing all the taxes we pay. The American consulate tried to cover it all up by saying it was a clerical error. All of which goes to prove that the Americans have no sense of how India works. They are so goofy they want chief ministers to be conscientious tax-payers, just like common people!

K Reva party
Coming back to Bangalore… Obama, we hear, got excited when mention was made of a car that made its debut on this city’s roads, the Reva. The world is now talking about green cars, and the Reva, we are proud to say, is one of those pioneering green cars made in Bangalore.
The man who made it all happen, Chetan Maini, has reason to be proud too, but we have our own doubts about what Obama might have had in mind when he triggered interest in Maini.
“So how’s minin’ in Bangalore?” he is likely to have asked, and one of his officials probably quickly did a background check and dug out details about Maini. If only the official had waited a minute, Obama might have asked, “And what’s happening with the Reddys.” But we must be happy the goofy officials averted a scandal. What if Obama had looked at a picture of Janardhana Reddy and said, “Are you Reddy?” and one of his pretty staff had blushed and said, “Yes, I’m ready!”?
Till next week, then.

Martyrs and mothers-in-law

You heard what they did in Mumbai? While the nation was mourning its Kargil martyrs, our netas quietly thought up a plan to grab some land in that most expensive of cities. The chief minister’s mother-in-law ensconced in a plush flat in a tower meant for those very same war martyrs. As the song goes, Yeh kya hua? Kaise hua? Kab hua?

Gutter distinction
And here in Bangalore, we have no dearth of land grabbers. One of them just took home the Rajyotsava award. So why was he honoured, you ask? His distinction is that he built hundreds of apartments on a storm-water drain that the maharajas had put in place to keep our city free from water-logging. Now tell us. How many can build super luxury flats on a drain? And then, we hear, he sold those flats to people who couldn’t tell a raja kaluve from a raja Ravi Varma. See, a kaluve may be a canal, or a gutter, a charandi, or a mori, or whatever you call it, but to package it as something the affluent must covet definitely calls for a high award. We hear our super-intelligent officials at the Vidhana Soudha created a new category this year for Rajyotsava awards, and it’s called ‘creative field’. What can be more creative than packaging a stinking, mosquito-infested gutter as a romantic Venetian canal in which you and missus can go singing in a gondola?

Topi purana
Have you forgotten about the other VIP who went running to the Lokayukta when it looked like his son would be jailed for land fraud? Minister Katta, who never takes off his fur cap, suddenly showed up in front of the Lokayukta. The newspapers went to town. Minister visits Lokayukta in disguise. Taking off a topi is a disguise, eh? Next, you’ll say it’s a disguise if a politician so much as takes off his shiny white sandals. See, Katta is such a clever politician that he can place a topi on anyone’s head without ever taking his topi off. But if there’s no topi on his head, it’s surely a red alert. He must have placed it on someone else’s head, and… Run, run… find the poor man. God save him!

Office borers
As soon as news got out that three star cricketers are contesting the elections to the Karnataka State Cricket Association, the election agents tried to get some business. “Would you like to order some liquor for your voters, sir?” agent Sarai Babu asked Kumble, Srinath, and Venkatesh Prasad. “And some saris for your women voters?” The cricketers had to tell him this wasn’t that kind of election. But what do their voters want? Ah, that’s a story for another day.


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