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Desi Satire

March 2009
Desi Satire


I was chatting with a friend—let’s call him Varun—about books and movies. Varun considers himself an expert on almost everything. So I asked him to name his favorite books and movies.

VARUN: “Well, one of my favorite books is Salman Rushdie’s M. Night’s Children.”

ME: “Don’t you mean Midnight’s Children?”

VARUN: “No, M. Night’s Children. It’s the story of two brave girls who delete a movie script on their father’s computer, saving the world from another disaster.”

ME: “Wow, Salman is amazing. Give the man a Nobel already! What other books do you like?”

VARUN: “I really love Jhumpa Lahiri’s first book Interpreter of My Laddoos.”

ME: “Don’t you mean Interpreter of Maladies?”

VARUN: “No, Interpreter of My Laddoos. It’s the story of a woman named Anjali who owns an Indian restaurant in New York and tries to win the attention of a handsome IT specialist by giving him two free laddoos after every meal. She keeps wondering if he will get the message.”

ME: “Jhumpa is fantastic. Where does she get her ideas?”

VARUN: “Yes, she’s fabulous. I also like her latest book—Unaccustomed Girth.”

ME: “Don’t you mean Unaccustomed Earth?”

VARUN: “No, Unaccustomed Girth. It’s the story of a skinny lad from Kolkata named Gopal who comes to America to study at Boston University and falls in love with the all-you-can-eat buffet.”

ME: “Another winner from Jhumpa! What other books do you like?”

VARUN: “Well, I really like Chetan Bhagat’s Five Pint Someone – what not to do at MIT.”

ME: “Don’t you mean Five Point Someone – what not to do at IIT?”

VARUN: “No, Five Pint Someone. It’s the story of an Indian student named Hari who miraculously gets into MIT, then finds himself hanging out at the local bar with his friends Alok and Ryan—and the professor’s daughter, Neha—downing at least five pints a night.”

ME: “Another literary classic from Chetan! What else do you like?”

VARUN: “Well, I absolutely love V.S. Naipaul’s Half a Wife.”

ME: “Don’t you mean Half a Life?”

VARUN: “No, Half a Wife. It’s the story of Sir Vidia, the greatest writer in the history of the world, and his mistress, Margaret. At times, he actually thinks he is married to her. A certain part of her, anyway.”

ME: “That story sounds familiar. What about movies? Which ones are your favorites?”

VARUN: “Well, I really like the movie Scumbag Millionaire.”

ME: “Don’t you mean Slumdog Millionaire?”

VARUN: “No, Scumbag Millionaire. It’s the story of Mahender and Varsha, a New York couple who make millions in the perfume industry, but can’t help saving a few bucks by enslaving their domestic workers.”

ME: “I bet Om Puri plays the role of Mahender. What else do you like?

VARUN: “I loved Mamma M.I.A. And not just for the music.”

ME: “Don’t you mean Mamma Mia?”

VARUN: “No, Mamma M.I.A. It’s the story of a popular singer named Mathangi who gets engaged and has a baby, then tries to keep her career from plummeting like a paper plane.”

ME: “I think I’ve seen that movie before. What else do you like?”

VARUN: “One of my favorite movies of all time is the comedy When Hari Met Sari.”

ME: “Don’t you mean When Harry Met Sally?”

VARUN: “No, When Hari Met Sari. It’s the story of a man named Hari who loves the beautiful silk saris his wife, Anu, wears. Then one day, while she’s shopping at the mall, he tries one on himself. And his life is never the same again.”


The ongoing search for all photos and documents from President Obama’s past has turned up a diary that his desi roommate kept in the early 1980s. Some of the entries are quite revealing:

Sept. 14, 1981: Barack and I have been eating pizza, macaroni and cheese, and Ramen noodles for dinner. But today, I decided to make chicken karahi for a change. Barack tasted it and said, “Mmmm ? This is a good change. Did I tell you how much I like change?”

Nov. 13, 1981: Barack is a little too square. I’m trying to get him to be more stylish, more cool. Yesterday, I took him to see the movie Sholay at a friend’s house, hoping that Amitabh Bachchan’s style would rub off on him. And today, Barack is walking around wearing a wide-collared shirt and saying, “Tera naam kya hai, Basanti?”

Nov. 20, 1981: Barack is such a dreamer. He talks about being leader of America one day. I told him that he needs to shoot for something more realistic, such as leader of the church choir.

Dec. 11, 1981: I spent the entire morning teaching Barack how to pronounce Pakistan. He kept saying “Pack-he-stan.” He finally got it right though. In a few days, we’ll try it again and this time without the rubber band on his tongue.

Jan. 14, 1981: I wish I were as smart as Barack. His brain is like a sponge. Mine is like a stone. When we go to nightclubs, he doesn’t have to write any phone numbers down. Neither do I, but that’s another story.


Google sent an “Internet bus” to rural areas in Tamil Nadu to show people how the Net could benefit them.

More than 400,000 people were stranded for six hours in Mumbai after a drug addict stole part of a railway signal cable.

Julia Roberts called Freida Pinto “the most beautiful woman in the world,” raising the ire of the Bachchan family.

A New York auction house announced plans to auction off Mahatma Gandhi's spectacles, sandals and pocket watch in March.

Pramod Mutalik, leader of Sri Ram Sena, announced plans to auction off thousands of pink panties he had received on Valentine’s Day.

(1,2 and 4 really happened)


She’ll be your drill sergeant: “I am looking for a guy who will follow orders and do whatever I say and will not whine about it.”

She believes in God, sort of: “I am not a strong believer of God, but feel dat thr is some strong power which is controlling everything so that kinda makes me God Fearing & I never forget to Thank god everyday for what I have.”

He lives on the Internet: “His hobbies are internet chatting with friends, browsing and gathering information about profession and learning more things.”

He’s very revealing: “I am optimistic. When I am not working, reading books. I am younger son of my parents.”


Jaysha Patel


A pre-teen comedian who’s on her way to stardom.

Aman Ali


The Indian comedian performs in New York City.

Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time, our newest column. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips and more]

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