Friday, September 14, 2012


TBNN. The Breaking News Network. The only channel that brings you exclusive breaking news, live, every hour, by the hour.
Or, so it claims.
The last I checked, the channel's ticker was flashing the same rubbish I had read about a year ago. In fact, you can predict most of the news as soon as you wake up on any given day without having to refer the channel. You cannot go terribly wrong if you try a random combination of these:
Baba breaks fast; Rapist gets bail; Actress poses nude; CM faces charges; Rat-poison found in mid-day meal at school; Opposition leader to be next CM; Innocent people killed in riots; CM acquitted of all charges; Opposition leader cries foul...
You certainly get the idea. Go on, then. Let experience be your guide, or let your imagination run wild. Either way, you can accurately predict the breaking news.
Coming back to the channel's claims, that I or any other intelligent human may not subscribe to the same seems to be immaterial. If you are wondering about what it takes to run a channel like that, the idea is apparently simple:
Brainwash as many citizens as possible and get them hooked. It doesn't matter if the news is stale. As long as it is controversial, you can sell it as breaking. So, give them enough controversial news to keep their attention piqued. And glued.
Keep your correspondents (prefer females, the more attractive, the better) stationed at strategic locations from where you expect the most controversies to arise, pay them well for the interruptions expected in their holiday plans, ensure technical snags when they have nothing worthwhile to report, and you're good to go.
In the mean time, get some loud-mouth go-getters like Gurkha Butt to host a few shows exclusively on your channel, give them some controversial topics to drag on for a few hours when your live correspondents are enjoying their paid holiday, invite some political eunuchs to discuss matters they cannot care less about on the show, and screw all your viewers into believing that your channel is bringing them exclusive coverage of breaking news.
Well, that's all I can say for now. That's a start. I cannot give you all the ideas. But these are the foundation. Don't believe me? Watch these guys:
TBNN. The Breaking News Network. The only channel that brings you exclusive breaking news, live, every hour, by the hour.

Shut Up, Common Man!

After about ten helpless minutes of flirting with a horrifying IVR, pressing a fearfully long sequence of single-digit menu options, and listening to a much outdated sax item by Kenny G, I was redirected to this guy who was perhaps the last human on earth excluding me.
His crisp, business-like voice ejaculated a well-rehearsed sequence of words. “Welcome to Dead-Cell Mobile customer care; this is Ozhamander assuring you a quick resolution; how may I help you?”
Ozhamander? His name took a moment to sink in. Ozhamander? Really? Hmmm... Must be an ogre.
“Yeah, hello, Ozhamander. I'm Pradeep. My prepaid number is--”
“Prepaid number, sir?” He interrupted rudely. “Are you calling about your SMS failures?”
Did he read my mind? He is certainly an ogre!
“Yes. None of my messages are going through. In fact, I keep getting these rejection errors which claim that my text network settings are illegal. A bit concerned, because all was well until 10 am today, and I've not changed any settings since I configured my phone about three years ago. Do you think you can help me?”
“May I put you on hold for a minute, while I check your usage history, sir?”
“If that helps. Don't you want my number?”
“Isn't that the same number you are calling from, sir?”
“Yeah. Go ahead. But please don't play that horrible track into my sensitive ears.”
There was an awkward silence for about a minute.
“Thank you for being on hold, sir. There is no need for concern. Everything seems to be n order.”
“Eh!? Good to know. Why, then, are my messages not being delivered?”
“Sir, your number is double-nine, six-five...four.”
“Yes, correct.”
“You topped up your prepaid balance with five-hundred bucks last night.”
“I had to. I have the confirmation message to that effect with the transaction ID.”
“I'm sure you do, sir. I have it, too. The point is: your usage history shows that you have exhausted your SMS quota, sir.”
“Quota? What quota?”
“Sir, you have already sent five messages since 6 am today; the last one was at 10 am.”
“I might have. Didn't keep count. But--”
“If you like, sir, I could give you the numbers to which you sent messages.”
“I know whom I messaged. But what does that--”
“Sir, I could even tell you the contents of each message if you need further confirmation.”
Goodness gracious! Talk about consumer privacy!
“Look here! That will not be necessary. I know whom I messaged, and I know what I messaged them. Just tell me why I'm not being allowed to continue messaging.”
“Sure, sir. That's because you have exhausted your quota of five outgoing SMS per day.”
“Quota? What are you talking about, Ozhamander?”
“Sir, I understand you haven't had time to read the newspapers this morning.”
“No. But, so what? Since when did reading the newspaper become a prerequisite to being allowed to send SMS?”
This was getting really awkward. And weird.
“Sir, the Department of Telecommunications has imposed a restriction on the number of text messages that may be sent per day. The upper limit is five. You would have known about this if you had read the papers. You have exhausted your quota, sir.”
I was shocked. Such drastic measures could mean only one thing, assuming a rational decency of the perpetrators.
“What the heck is going on, man? Are we at war?”
I switched on the telly and punched my remote to TBNN. The Breaking News Network -- call it The Baansi News Network if you will -- has been flashing the same tickers at our face since a few years.
The raging discussion today was about female infanticide. Gurkha Butt was all over it. But that couldn't be it.
“Isn't this something quite like that, sir?”
Are we at war? I checked the ticker, but all I got was a load of regular rubbish that had been on since last year.
“Sir, the recent riots... It pays to read the newspaper.”
Man! This guy was pushing his luck too far. If only he knew I write, how I write, and that I would soon write about him...
“I know about the riots!”
“Oh? Then you'll probably also be aware of the after-effects in other States.”
“I know about the rumours. What I fail to understand though, is--”
“The Home Ministry, sir. They have decided to limit the number of SMS in favor of National security, sir.”
“But my friends are able to send me SMS.”
“Sir, the limitation is currently applicable to prepaid numbers only.”
“Oh? What's the point, then?”
“Sorry sir, but that question is outside the scope of my script. Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?”
Not really! I cannot expect you to think beyond your lousy script. There is no way you could help me.
But I said, “Yes! You could erase my usage history, so I can message my friends.”
“Sir! Surely, you are joking?”
“You think so?”
Bloody idiot!
I dropped the recorded call only to realize that I had been charged six bucks for communicating across a so-called toll-free number.
So, this is how the Home Ministry hopes to contain rumours. So, this is the disgustingly ridiculous state our DoT has come to.
I wish to give them some ideas that will help them stretch their imagination:
The best way to stop rumours is to ensure that nobody communicates with anybody. Just ban the use of cellphones, TV, radio, newspaper. Ensure that people do not talk to each other by imposing some derivative of POTA on any law-abiding, tax-paying citizen found engaged in mundane conversation with a fellow human being.
Finally, order a shoot-at-sight against anybody who opens his mouth to say even as much as 'I wanna go to the loo.'
In the name of National security, just say, “Shut up, common man!”