Radius of Flag’s Patriotic Effect Unclear – Government Enquiry Ongoing

The government today initiated a high-level enquiry into determining the radius of the patriotic effect of flags. “Since we are installing flags at a cost of about 45 lakhs in all Central Universities, we thought it fit to study the radius of the effect of nationalism that these flags will have on students,” said Mr. Vikram Chauhan, Minister of Nationalism. “We cannot afford to have fringe elements not affected by the flags. Hence, we will make sure the flags are installed at the right height so as to instil pride and patriotism in even the farthest corner of universities such as JNU.” As per the initial report prepared by the team, the patriotism cast by the flags is in a conical shape, the apex of which is the topmost part of the flag (not the pole). The cone forms at angles of around 47 degrees from the apex towards the ground, where the base is a circle of pure, optimum patriotism. “We have found that people outside this circle often have anti-national sentiments such as no respect for our culture, for Gow Mata, for our vision of a Hindu nation. They have no hatred for Pakistan (those choothias) and think beating is not a good response for anti-nationalism. But when we threw them into the circle, in about 10 minutes, they had miraculously reversed their opinions and some even started chanting our Honourable PM’s name, which was unprecedented.” When asked if their change of heart had anything to do with conditions of the experiments, Mr. Chauhan said, “No, it had nothing to do with us. We surrounded them only to observe and the sticks in our hands were to mark out the effect of the flags on the ground. They were not afraid at all.” Mr. Chauhan, newly appointed Minister of Nationalism also stressed that they have no problem if the effect of the flags went beyond the boundaries of the universities. “We can expect an overflow of about 5-6 percent, but we think it is a good thing because passersby will also benefit. They may leave home thinking of not voting for BJP but by the time they reach work, they’re dressed in saffron and have Rajnathji’s face imprinted on their t-shirts.” He also said that they took the decision only after a 5-hour long high-level meeting on whether there was any better way to spend 45 lakhs. They concluded that there was not. In the future, the government will consider installing a 10000-foot high flag to solve all the nation’s problems. “This flag will have a perch on top to look into Pakistan,” he added. 

Photograph ‘Flag is Torn’ by Roshan Ali

A Guide to Coolness

Food, water, shelter, sex, safe spaces and coolness. These are the six essential constituents of a happy and successful life. The first five are self-explanatory, but what about coolness? How does one go about being cool? Here are some top tips from our experts on how to be cool in today’s world. 

 1. Be offended: To be offended is a fundamental right of every human being. It even trumps the right to free speech, and the right to free thought. If you are to become a successful and much talked about person in the social circle of whichever city you live in, it is fundamental that you are offended constantly, no matter how small the perceived transgression by those rapist Right wingers, or those child molesting Lefties, or those immoral murdering atheists. Quality of offence taken rarely matters; it is the quantity by which one is offended that truly sets you apart and this is indicated by how many times you say ‘offensive’ in a particular day. And make no mistake, even though saying ‘that’s offensive’ is not an argument, who says you need to make arguments anymore? Arguments are so 2010. These days the best way to confront something you don’t agree with is to say you’re offended. But don’t get carried away; it is important to be offended by exactly the same things your friends are offended by. If you digress in your offence taking, you might alienate your friends, and in turn become the offence giver. Oh, the horror! 

2. Hate America: A very effective means to coolness heaven is to hate America. It doesn’t really matter why you hate America, or if half your family lives there, or if you studied in Harvard, or if you speak American, or watch American TV shows, or watch American films, or wear American clothes, or follow American celebrities on Instagram, or anything really. These are all insignificant things about America. Have you heard of the First Amendment of the American Constitution? Obviously you don’t care if it guarantees unrestricted free speech. Bosnia? Couldn’t matter less to you. NASA? Who the fuck gives a shit? Iraq? FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT AMERICANS ZIONIST PIGS CREATED ISIS. You just got a whole lot of browny points from that group of friends who read Chomsky on foreign policy. Periodically say things like, ‘I fucking hate that country man, it’s fucked up the world!’ and everyone will absolutely agree with you. Congratulations, you’re all absolutely cool!

3. Don’t mention Islam: One thing you should never do, and mind you this is the Golden Rule of coolness since September 11, 2001, is mention Islam. Because if you mention Islam, you’ll go down some awkward roads that will lead to very uncool things like Islamophobia (note: the word Islamophobia can hike up the cool factor in any social gathering. Context, accuracy etc…don’t really matter. Just randomly say the word next time and someone is bound to applaud), or discussion of the contents of certain holy books that shall remain unmentioned. These awkward and inconvenient discussions might offend someone. See point 1 for an explanation of how this makes you cool. 

4. Hate Modi: A blanket, comprehensive and absolutely total and pure hatred of our PM Narendra Modi is essential. It will guarantee you access to almost all of a certain kind of social gathering that you undoubtedly want to be part of. In place of nuance and discussion, you may holler once in a while that you hate him and he’s a psychopath, Fascist, mass murderer.

5. Love Modi: A blanket, comprehensive and absolutely total and pure love of our PM Narendra Modi is essential. It will guarantee you access to almost all of a certain kind of social gathering that you undoubtedly want to be a part of. In place of nuance and discussion, you may holler once in a while that you love him and that he’s a prophet of progress, a maker of great roads, and ‘Gujarat, Gujarat, Gujarat.’ 

6. Use Facebook effectively: Who is the coolest of us all? Obviously, the ones who put up fantastic political think pieces on Facebook. Who is uncool? The one who puts up shitty political think pieces on Facebook that you don’t agree with. It’s easy to see which path to take.  These are just some of the ways you can become way cool in your social circles. We hope you learn something from this article and if you do become cooler leave a comment to let others know that it really works!

Photograph ‘Cool Thai Guy’ by Roshan Ali

Diwali Blues

Now that Diwali is over and the noxious smoke dissipates, and the bombs fall silent, ask yourself these questions: what makes sane, reasonable, educated and peaceful people act like hooligans? What makes them do things that they would otherwise consider illegal and dangerous? What makes them do things that they would otherwise consider harmful to their children, to the sick, to the elderly? What makes them do things that they otherwise know destroy the very air we breathe, destroy the little bit of peace that nighttime brings?
The answer: culture and religion. Nothing else makes a sensible man throw out all notions of civic, environmental, moral, neighborly responsibility like religion and culture.
Somehow, culture and religion have become magic spells that throw a switch in smart people and make them behave like idiots.
Imagine we ask an alien: there is a certain ritual that humans perform every year – it causes the air to become unbreathable, it terrifies pets, it makes war-like noise levels, but people have fun. Should this be permitted? What do you think the alien would say?
But the alien doesn’t know the perversion that culture and religion cause to reasonable discussion.  
When you weigh the positives and the negatives, religion, and culture always tip the scale in their favour.
Horrifying, noxious smoke that tortures the asthmatics among us; terrifying eardrum scarring bombs that send our beloved pets howling underneath beds and tables – these things have no chance against the weight and might of culture and religion.
It’s not all negative: Diwali brings family together; people have fun. Can’t you do this without dirtying our common air, without shattering the night with weapons-grade explosives? Here’s a moral guideline you can follow: things that are fun should not harm other people. Is that so hard to follow?
As if this country doesn’t have enough problems with pollution.
Culture and religion are two sides of the same grimy, entitled coin and one thing we know about entitlement is that it should never be encouraged.
But of course, no argument will ever work because the response always is: “It’s my culture.”

Photograph ‘Early Trash’ © Roshan Ali

Channeling Aliens

I stumbled on this video on one of my YouTube down-the-rabbit-hole sessions (which I think is something everyone should do once in a while, to remind themselves of the sheer variety of human experiences that people undergo). It is a compilation of people claiming to channel aliens. It is an astounding video and I suggest you take a moment to watch it before reading on. (Update: the video seems to have been removed. But if you type ‘Channeling aliens’ into the YouTube search bar, you’ll find plenty of similar ones).
I don’t know what you think when you see this kind of thing. I can probably guess that most people would laugh and dismiss these clips as the ravings of frauds and madmen. Not all though: There is an entire channel on YouTube called ‘ET Whisperer’, dedicated to one man’s channeling of alien and supernatural spirits. A brief skim through the comment section will show you that there are people who really believe in the unusual powers of these people. You can find the channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/TReBoryitNE
To those who are willing to give the benefit of doubt to these men and women seen in the videos I ask you to consider these few options: 
1. They are frauds: They are intentionally fooling people and it’s all an act. 
2. They are deluded: They actually believe that they are channeling extraterrestrial beings. 
3. They are mentally unhinged: These are symptoms of some serious mental disease. 
4. They are actually channeling the voices of beings of an alien civilization: It’s one hundred percent real.  Now I ask you a simple question: which is most likely? 
Is it more likely that they are being contacted through some medium as-yet undiscovered by 200 years of modern science, by beings who live thousands of light years away, in perfect English? Or are they deluded? Is it more likely that they, of all the millions of credible public figures on planet Earth, have been chosen by these god-like beings to spread their message? Why not choose Mahatma Gandhi or Albert Einstein? Or are they frauds? 
(This reasoning can also be used to examine the claims of prophets and godmen)
The first three options are somewhat similar. The fourth is the interesting one: because if it is true it will force us to reconsider everything we know about modern science and to change our fundamental understanding of nature. This is no small thing. 

To me, the answer to the question of what is most likely is 1, 2 or 3. Let me know which one you think is most likely. 


I Can’t Write

So much of my writing life has been not writing. Some would say this doesn’t make me a writer. But I am a writer precisely because I am constantly struggling with not being able to write. Find me one writer who can write easily and I’ll show you an unserious writer. 
This is what makes a writer a writer: every sentence it writes, it hates. 
This thing I’ve just written for example – It’s the worst piece of writing I’ve ever seen. It shouldn’t be allowed to exist. It is atrociously clumsy, unbelievable uninsightful, sickeningly obvious. I hate it with all my heart. 
And now I can’t write anymore, I’m stuck; hating myself for my poor ability with words, unable to come up with anything clever or funny (or clever and funny), about to give up, my mind like polluted air, choking on the fumes of a past full of regret, blocked by vague and nervous plans, exhausted by ideals and aspirations. 
But I don’t give up. Look – here’s another sentence I pushed out of my constipated mind. And here’s another one. And another. 
Writing is very much like taking a shit – sometimes nothing comes out and sometimes it’s a goddamn deluge and you’re left wondering what you ate last night, and you examine the excrement and see strange things that you’ve never seen before, strands of this, seeds of that. It’s a disgusting, smelly and lonely process. 
But ultimately it is a relief. 
The boy who lived across the street was walking one evening when he found a marble on the road. He picked up the marble and examined it but it was dirty. So he licked his finger and wiped the marble with his spit. It was a blue marble. He took it home and put it on his bedside table. 
In the evening when the boy’s father came home he showed him the marble which was blue. His father said, “Who’s is it? Did you steal it?” Then he beat the little boy till his mother came in from the kitchen and said dinner was ready. 
That night the boy cried and cried and finally he swallowed the marble and it got stuck in his throat and he choked to death. 
The end. 

Photograph ‘Oil and Water’ © Roshan Ali