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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ocean's Five.

Heist movies. One of my favorite kinds. The suave,sophisticated conman/thief with all those small gadgets that get him the expensive diamond, while hanging through laser beams on a tiny pulley the size of a coin. Then there is the genius eccentric anti social who is an expert on everything from math to physics and sits back in his couch to dreams up the wildest way to steal a million bucks with a computer. Well I was a kid and very impressed. Even now,when education and maturity requires me to abhor thieves and con men I think they are really cool. Thanks to all those movies.
Being one of them was my long time ambitions. To get rich was an obvious motive and to be frank I wouldn't think about distributing it to the poor. Then maybe the actual purpose of this unique interest is just to stick up to the 'man'.
Well when I was younger all these intense self analysis never happened. And when the right( or wrong) friends got together. We planned a heist. It didn't take much of time to plan just convincing everyone was a little tedious. No one had any moral dilemmas. No one ever thought stealing is wrong. The problem was getting caught. Fear. I was with the guys who thought we could do it without getting caught. It took time to convince the gang and we were ready. Our target was a cassette. A tape. It was some Punjabi pop album. I wasn't much interested in the content. For me it was the idea that it can be done. And holy F**K !!! we are actually gonna do it. We were big revolutionists. Showing someone who is boss? 

There where issues. It was not going to be easy. The cassette was available only in one supermarket. Where the entrance was guarded by two security office. It was a crowded day. The plans included hiding the cassette in a cigarette packet. WE even got one and coughed a way through few when finally we realized that they might get us for the cigarettes underage smoking etc. Different versions of the cigarette packet idea went around which finally we canceled that direction of planning..After few curses and clever ideas, we came up with a brilliant confusing plan. Lets call him 'X'. X said that he will be th leading guy and the rest will cause enough distraction . 'Z 'and 'W “will get some soft drinks and we all will get out together while 'Y' pay for it. Z and W will also fight on whether to get some chocolate which Y will end by telling we don't have enough money. We will talk and laugh just loud enough and say silly jokes which everyone will like. X had to grab the cassette and push it in this crotch. I had to give him an 'all clear' signal for him to do this. For the plan every ones actions and timing had to be synchronized. We added some buffer time for unknown problems and glitches. Getting caught wasn't an option or part of the plan. We were ready. I would also like to point out that all this happened more than ten years ago. Long before Oceans eleven taught us how to run a large crew. We were pioneers then. Our plan Glorified our immoral intentions. We were the Oceans five. 

The mission started. We ran around walked around for sometime in the blazing sun. We had to look sweaty, tired and thirsty. Everything was in the looks. The uneducated smoking session really killed our throats and head. We were really thirsty and dried. With a casual air of carelessness we went in.We left our football with the security. With a moment spent in front of the magazine rack, talking about the pictures of cricketers we did a quick survey of the crowd. The music section was empty. X whistled an uninspiring tune and strolled towards it. Z and W went to the coolers. I slowly followed X. Y stayed abck at the magazine rack. My heart was uncomfortably fast. I played the theme for Mission impossible in the back of my head. Within a few minutes X spotted the cassette and gave me the signal, he was ready. I picked up another cassette and with the sway of a professional, scanned the surroundings. There was a lady standing in the opposite aisle. She couldn't see anything. A little improvisation would work. I walked towards her aisle angling myself in the clear zone,so that she could see me and X wont miss the signal. I gave another quick scan of the surroundings and “ WHOOPS!!!” I dropped the cassette I was holding. I emphasized the distraction with a louder “OH F**K!!” The lady looked at me. Any other bystander had his attention momentarily directed at me and in the corner of my eyes I saw X slip the cassette in the front of his pants. I noticed a grown and a frown on his face. His jeans where too tight. I think he must have damaged his equipment. Anyway I picked up the cassette looked at it for any damage and gave a sigh of relief and kept it back. X again whistled a carefree tine and walked towards the counter. Y, Z and W also played their parts well. The final statement declaring the shortage of money hinted at the success and nearing end of our operation.

We payed for the drinks but as soon X crossed to the counter towards the exit both the security guards tensed. Their relaxed eyebrows strained and curled. They looked at X, their gaze burnt a hole in him. If I wasn't dehydrated from the sun and the cigarettes I would have peed in my pants. Y fumbled with his wallet. I could see tears form in the corner of Z. W's legs were shaking. We are doomed. My life flashed in front of me. Now I saw the immoral side of the whole affair. The wrong I was going. Guilt. I could see the cops, my parents disappointed and disowning me,My teachers warning the other students not to be like me. I realized it was a good thing that I didn't have any female friends. Otherwise this would be the reason I would die a virgin. My life was over. I could say that my other accomplices felt the same.

One of the security guards stopped X and he pointed towards a corner. Oh no! They going to search him. Strip search!! We were right behind him. The money was paid the bill was printed. Now no chance of going back. I saw X walk cautiously towards the corner. The doomed corner, where my dignity and future would be taken away.X walked towards the corner and before the guards could say anything her tried to bend down. Something was wrong Why is he bending now.Are they going to search there too.What is this the airport? They didn't even ask. Was it common protocol, Do we have to bend down in a supermarket body search. The horror!!!!
X couldn't bent down. Something was stopping him.  Instead he did a small hop and passed our football lying in the corner towards W and said “Pick it up, I don't want to dirty my hands!”

I watched as the ball rolled towards W's hands, as the automatic door slowly revealed to us our freedom. I watch as X walked out in style and watched his sweaty fingers pull out a cigarette and light it. I watch as the rest of the gang pull out a cigarette each . I watched as my hands pull out a cigarette,felt my dry mouth trying suck enough smoke to blow it out as any cool thief would do. I realized we were free. I realized we were successful.Jackpot!

Pepsi was our champagne that day , we drank enough of it and sprayed the rest out in style. Z revealed that he couldn't bend down with the cassette in his balls. He was worried for a moment he will be caught while trying to get the ball. But his presence of mind saved the day etc. But let me tell you it was my brilliant plan. If that asshole didn't wear tight jeans, it would have been the smoother that a warm knife though butter.

I never listened to that cassette anyway. But it was a day. The day that we lived like true thieves. The risk fear and the guilt later on hindered any future plans. The guilt had seeped in during the small security guard confusion, but most of it reappeared and stayed when we thought of our actions. It was a bold day something no one we knew would do. It was a dangerous stunt. We actually stole something. We were dirty. Innocent and foolish but still dirty. We would have been slapped around by the guards, ashamed embarrassed in front of family and teachers. The pain. I was a criminal. Our culture, our education and even Gandhi would never let us do it again. But there was elation too. A sense of freedom, accomplishment. Something. I just cant put it in words. It was awesome. The elation of acquiring a whole music album for free. The joy of success , youth and freedom. I miss that day, however bad or immoral that was. Half a day spent memorably, stealing eight songs that I never listened to. It was awesome.

As all stories of good men and heroes go, the guilt and remorse over the act of stealing, committing a crime and declaring oneself a criminal made us better people. We decided we will be a good citizen. Our crew disbanded. The Oceans's Five was no more. Young minds changed, now recognizing good from bad.. The god given goodness in our hearts triumphed over the bitter temptations advertised by the devil. It was going to be a perfect world as in every story of good men and heroes go.

Reality Check! This is no perfect world this is not a story about goodness and heroes. This is a story about the real world. The Ocean's five laid low for few years. Then they started again,stole thousands of songs, movies, books, comics and of course porn. Welcome to the real world. Welcome to a society where petty crimes are socially acceptable. Welcome to the internet. Half a day's work, filled with excitement, tension and fear now replaced by a few minutes and a few clicks. There is no guilt, no remorse. The gigabytes of downloads replaced the uncomfortable plastic corners of the cassette poking in your genitals. The shame and taboo related with thieves now replaced with the a casual coolness of clicks and keyboards taps. This very second millions of thieves are downloading without a second thought. Congrats! We have morally legalized Petty crime!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Heroes Wanted

Heroes Required (Permanent Position)

We are looking for Heroes for our Country. This is a diverse field and we are interested in speaking to all interested candidates.
Job Duties: Be a Hero Save the Country, Usher in a new Revolution.
Requirements:Be an Indian and have Heart,Courage and good will.
Salary: None
Bonus : Pictures on stamps and future generations will read about you in text books and Wikipedia.
Relocation: India
Required Spoken Language(s):Choice of 25 Languages including English
Start Date:Immediately
Bonus points if you are a good citizen between the ages 20 to 50.
Politicians need not apply.

If this sounds like the OOAL (opportunity of a lifetime and a chance to gain glory and respect. And most importantly do GOOD) then we look forward to hearing from you! Please dont apply on-line. Just come over to India and start your work.

Hihihi.... Sometimes I am so funny.

Lets start with a question.

Give me the name for a present day hero?

I don't know what you will answer. Well I guess most Indians might give lots of celebrity names. Well I wasnt talking about movie stars or crickets who saved the match. I am talking about real life heroes that actually did something good, brave etc for a group of people a society or the country.

Maybe another question.

Do you have a personal hero?

Again I guess I will be given names of celebrities.

A young child has heroes... Batman!!!! He protects the poor and fights the villians, and he has a cool car.

A normal guy....Shahrukh Khan.!!!! He struggled from nothingness and is a big movie star rich and famous.. He dances with pretty ladies too.

My grandfathers hero is Gandhi. He is a true Gandhian too. A young child tries to be batman dressing up as batman, calling his brother robin,tying a long towel over his neck for a cape. My grandfather tries to be Gandhi. He wears khadi clothes, buys Indian goods only, Ahimsa is a big principle with him. And he was very active in community service, till old age really tied him down.
Now the average dude. He too tried to be his hero, dresses up like what the fashion gurus claim, get his hair cut in a similar fashion,buys celebrity endorsed products and tried really hard to live the lifestyle.

Did we go wrong somewhere? Don't we have any more real heroes. Are fairness cream selling heroes going to replace the pictures of Gandhi, Subash Chandra Bose or Bhagat Singh on our walls and text books. Or are they just part of the problem.

We open the news paper or the Tv, all we hear is about all the wrong things thats happening. We hear about people involved in corruption, politics and the villains. The villains. Our country has enough villians to start an 'All India Association for the Welfare of Villains and Villainy'. The deeds of these people can challenge even the most cruel comic book super villains. Our villains may not have super powers, but the certainly do mass murder, run big crime rackets , large scale extortion, huge financial frauds etc. They are super villians. So where are the super heroes. Forget super. Where are the heroes. Why isnt anyone crashing thought the dark night and kicking villain ass. Isnt there any super rich millionaire who can Protect the innocent. Uphold justice. Or are they all poor and sit home watch reruns of Shankar movies, where the hero does some good, when he gets time of from dancing with semi naked heroines. Or daydream. But dreamers sometime have the urge to do something. It would be so persistent, that he might force leave the comfort of his cricket matches and live his imagination. So lets dream without imagination. And lets stick on idealistic movie heroes. Forget the villains. Who cares if they do evil, it doesn't hurt me. Lets me buy that fairness cream so I will look fair, so the guy who doesn't have a house to live in and I don't look the same.

I think no one really cares. We live in no society now. We claim to be social beings. We dont care what happens to another person or what ever wrong is done to him unless it affects us. Do we? When was the last time you(yeah! You the reader) went out and stood against some form of oppression or injustice. Isn't that what defines a society.

Yeah WE all stopped our work and did a strike when WE didn't get our salaries on time, when OUR house owner forget to fill the water tanks WE fought with him,abused him. When OUR roads where full of garbage I signed a petition to the collector, But WE couldn't band together and clean it our selves. I made fun of the guy who suggested it, I told , I had a head ache. I just killed a hero in his 'origins' itself. When there was statewide Strike for some injustice OUR fellow countrymen was facing,I went to work in my company buses because I couldn't lose MY one day salary and MY foreigner corporate bosses might get upset and have to eat a pill more to keep their cool. I just sold out MY fellow countrymen so I could please and profit another country. I laughed and scorned at the progress hindering revolutions too.

Like I said its always I or ME not Us not the society not the country. Somewhere along the way the definition for society or civilization has been redefined as - people like me,who can bring me some gain. This is maybe why we don't have any heroes. There might be few heroes who we never hear about in the TV or the newspapers, who did something worthwhile with his life because the age of information doesn't believe in sharing news about greatness., about good or happiness.

We live in a time where the fortunate define their lives with what they can have which the unfortunate doesn't. A hero could change all that. We dont need one. We need more villains, who can manage and maintain the gap and boundary between the fortunate and the unfortunate. The villains can only make the fortunate feel good. They hide our crimes, they show misfortune and dirt from far away so we can feel happy and lucky. We need the villains to fuel our self worth and bank balances. A hero could empower the weak and the poor. He could usher in a revolution that could make every one truly equal and joyous. He could stand as a symbol, an idea, a standard with we can measure ourselves. But what will we do if everyone is as happy and fortunate like us. Wont a hero make us look bad. Wont a hero remind us that living is more than taking pictures and posting it on facebook and tweeting about the great time at the cinema. No we dont want a hero.

Will we ever have heroes again. Will I ever see one in my lifetime. Or will I just write a blog and have patriotic pride-gasms to satisfy my nationalist daydreams. I been talking so much, rubbing it in everyone's' faces,maybe I should be one. Why can't I be a hero? Can I?


At least I must be glad that there were heroes long back. I can tell to my grandchildren that my grandfather was a Gandhian, tell them that he lived in the age of heroes. And now heroes are extinct because of global warming and hunting.
Or maybe not.