Who changed the gum packaging standard?


When I was young, I bought chewing gum for the sports cards. The gum was inconsequential. But I wanted the cards so I chewed on for dear life. The gum bosses must have caught on because the taste quotient went for a toss. They stopped making even a half-ass attempt to mark them with a flavor. You had three choices pink, green and blue. Take your pick and come back with fresh atthannis.

The gum came rolled in paper wrapping. Nothing fancy. You struggled to take off the paper completely, gave up at the end and popped in the gum with some paper and a nonlethal dose of industrial strength glue. I grew up doing this, and frankly, didn’t mind ingesting the paper. We had the Wrigley’s stuff too. But that was harder to come by; most often in the ritual passing of gifts from NRI relatives to snot-nosed nephews.

Things have changed ever since. You have Orbit (and that vaguely Middle-Eastern copy sold at railway stations that just goes by the name “Mint”) which comes in a very pharmaceutical packaging. Very minimalistic, very chic. You even have boxes of gum. Then there is the flip-box with the gum lined up inside. Something like a matchbook from an old Western. You can also get your gum in spools, as lollipops and I guess in a whole bunch of other forms.

Why does gum need to evolve? Who invented the papaya and watermelon flavors? It is all so deliciously pointless!

I wish they’d bring back the free card.


Kaju Badam


The Indian Muslim is a hoarder of dry fruits. It is an ingrained tendency, this reverence of the higher nuts. I learned the way of the kaju-badam very early on in my life. My father would bring home bags of nuts from his trips and mother would promptly stow them away. Candy bars would be dispensed with a liberal hand but a nutty treat was a rare and auspicious occasion. I fished for them in the kheer, trying to get as much in a single scoop as I could get away with, and I sucked on pistachio shells till I got my way with the last speck of glazed salt.

I started school and visiting my non-Muslim friends’ homes. Hospitality was manifested through bountiful bowls of my favourite nuts. I indulged myself and produced some of the richest farts of my time. Educated in monetary units, I tried to match my family’s income with that of my friends’. We had the same cars and our houses were on equal sized plots. The nut divide remained inexplicable.

I have been an observer of the nut subculture ever since. I have received many nuts-in-a-box gifts (mostly corporate) and spent much time contemplating the nut-to-cardboard ratio and completely figuring out how the nuts-in-a-box-powers-that-be were taking the consumers for a ride. I would snarl at friends if they so much as reached for my box of nuts. But then I groped my subconscious (very appropriately) and unlearned my nut-related preconceptions, and toned it down considerably.

The important lesson is not to contemplate the nut, or revere it. It is important to enjoy the nut and to share it. Feed nuts to your children. And sometimes just be the nut.

Why Ads Suck

fake ad

Here’s why.

  1. Good shampoo leaves behind only 3 grains of dandruff in the graphic, as opposed to the competition’s 20.
  2. Detergents have to have an obscure Preparation-X like magic ingredient (Tinopal, blue pearls, beads of heavenly joy).
  3. A pack of chips is always opened neatly and precisely, with chips right up to the brim.
  4. Ads for toilet bowl cleaning fluids always have a demonstration.
  5. Half-Hindi-Half-English taglines and jingles.
  6. 9 out of 10 dentists/doctors/specialists recommending a product. Makes you want to know the back story of the 10th guy. 10th Dentist, what have you got against Colgate?
  7. “Mutualfundinvestmentsaresubjecttomarketrisks…”.

Hadrons Collide

This is to going to be a very unscientific musing.

I am hooked to the Large Hadron Collider. I lap up all the articles i can find. I’ve bookmarked pages that mention it in passing. I view LHC webcams (why does this sound dirty?). Never before has a world event excited me so much, Olympics Opening Ceremony included (the day a synchronized fireworks display and an ornately choreographed performance gets me to gasp with joy and awe, will be the last day I share space and time with everyone that inhabits the third rock from the sun).

It seems that it may be weeks before the first protons start to collide. Damn, I can’t wait that long. I have hopes of some unexpected early action. When the collisions start, there should be a shower of undiscovered subatomic particles. We may also get to see the Higgs Boson particle. This little fella is supposed to give matter all its mass. It is lovingly referred to as the “God Particle” (sniff, those scientists can be so affectionate). What gets me is that we still don’t know what mass is. It kind of puts a lot of things in perspective.

There have been a lot of doomsayers. People are holding the LHC responsible for tragedies ranging from tremors to miscarriages to the inability of girls to find suitors. Indian news channels are having a field day with it too. You want crappy animation? Settle down for some Hindi News, and take a psychedelic trip on pixelated mushroom clouds in a video loop.

Bindra, Done That

Samsung issued a full page newspaper ad to congratulate our first Olympic gold laureate (individual). It said “Next is Abhinav Bindra”. For a moment, I was convinced that Samsung had taken out a hit on Bindra. I promptly fell on my knees and petitioned the lord for mercy on the poor guy. The endorsements game is so cutthroat.

Its fun to watch not only people but governments tripping on their own big feet to catch some of Bindra’s reflected glory. Karnataka and Bihar are throwing the money bags faster than they can be deposited. Andaman should be angling for its share too.

The news channels are being jackasses, true to form. I saw some distant uncle relating how young Abhinav would mark a cross on their maid’s forehead and try his hand with a toy gun. Such lovely stories. I saw his teacher insisting that “Getting 77% in high school is not a joke”. Well, last I checked…

I feel the excitement will reach fever pitch when we as a country achieve the ultimate Olympic prize – First Gold (any event) for an Unwed Woman Exceeding the Age of 28. I can hear the bugles now.

Jokes apart, a gold is always welcome. It’s worth more that Phelps’ lot (I think he can play checkers with them now) because the sports infrastructure here is pathetic. But why would anyone pick up Air-Rifle 10m (Men) as a sport?

Bittersweetness; Incompleteness

There are times when I completely lose my thread of happiness. Walking down the road, I become conscious of the grin on my face. I can’t figure out why its there. I rack my brains to reclaim the source of my good disposition. I find it all right, but by then it is always too late. It is too small, a pittance.

It seems all that everything that made me happy are things of the past. I remember places and times that made me happy. Revisiting them is a bittersweet experience. A gesture, a street corner. They cannot bring any more joy to me. Something inside me is missing. A huge chunk. 

Life has been reduced to just going through the motions. And I take on each day knowing that it takes increasingly more to make me happy.

Hindi Movies

I absolutely, unapologetically hate Hindi movies. The last one I really liked was Andaz Apna Apna. I loathe Dil Chahta Hai and Rang De Basanti. Iqbal and Taare Zameen Par were ok but I was extremely miffed by the “Dude, you must watch this, it will change your life” type of recommendations.

You know how we like to predict the next line in a movie. And get a huge laugh when we are right. That stopped being cute for me ages ago. I am turned off when (as soon as) any of the following happens in a movie

  1. The hero (with criminal tendencies) goes abroad and is followed by the local Indian cop (usually an ACP). Said cop gradually assumes a lot of power, wears a chest holster for his gun and orders around his gang of gora cops.
  2. Aforementioned ACP displays a habit of always munching on something (fruits, burgers, anything).
  3. Plastic surgery on anyone (the kind where the entire body type changes).
  4. The inner evil of a minister/politician is brought out by showing him with girls and/or wearing his khadi kurta and sipping on a glass of whiskey.
  5. A good guy sacrifices his life.
  6. The hero mourns the death of aforementioned good guy by holding the dead head on his lap and shouting out at the heavens.
  7. Seeing footage being wasted on a small, trivial object (ring, scarf, etc) and knowing that it will be of some significance in the climax.
  8. Hero’s mom is a woman with a sharp tongue but a heart of gold who somehow tolerates and feeds all the hero’s friends.
  9. Hero’s college friends are unpardonably ugly.
  10. Lyrics (all movies, all songs, no exceptions).