This appeared in The Asian Age today. From Fluff a la Nita to stuff a la Joota. Take your pick. I enjoy writing. Period. Every piece has its own validity and context. Yenjoy!!
Are we angry enough…?
No, we are not! Angry enough, I mean. We are conveniently slipping into a semi-comatose condition, getting lulled by all the election rhetoric, and compromising on our rage. Rage is good. Especially at a time like this. Anger has the power to demand change – permanent change. This is a do-or-die election. There are more young, educated people registered as voters in 2009 than ever before. They are impatient and restless… or ought to be. That’s what they started out being… but even they seem to be losing steam and dissipating their emotions. We cannot afford a ‘thakela’ electorate. Not now. Most people one speaks to, insist they are up to there with meaningless ‘bhashans’ and empty promises. But even the more passionate amongst them are feeling frustrated and helpless by what is loosely called ‘ the system’. We have created a gigantic monster out of this very ‘system’ and already conceded defeat! Who can fight the system, everybody asks. What are we – losers? I hope there are enough people out there who’ll feel insulted enough to contradict me.
When I talk about the Mumbai terror attacks, I tend to get hysterical and shrill. As my children would describe it, “ Mom, you sound psycho.’’ Perhaps. But better a ‘psycho’ than a resigned, complacent Mumbaikar stoically waiting for the next strike. I keep yelling out to anybody within earshot, “ We are not out of danger. Far from it. Please don’t sit back and behave as if the situation is normal, because it is not so!” Some of these startled people ask me a really, really stupid question at this point (“ My God…are you sure? Kuch khabar hai?”), which makes me go ballistic – I feel like replying, “ Haan hai. Bahut buri khabar. I just received a call from Osama.” They raise a quizzical eyebrow and demand, “ But…. But… were you directly affected by the terror attacks?” By that they want to know whether my immediate family members were trapped in either of the two hotels…was anybody close to me killed, maimed, injured? I want to shout back, “ Sorry to disappoint you, but by God’s mercy my loved ones were spared. But that does not mean I was not ‘directly affected’ – weren’t you?? Wasn’t everybody?How does one get ‘indirectly’ affected in the first place??” I know I am wasting my time, but I rant on regardless. The thing is I have not switched off. Can’t. Won’t. What happened in Mumbai was a mere taste of what might happen anywhere in India. It has taken a captured 17-year-old lad to spill the beans about the Taliban presence on our doorstep. But we refuse to wake up. This morning’s papers are full of reports about a school in a high security zone in Mumbai, that has been asked to move out of its premises for fear of a terror attack. The school has been functioning from Navy Nagar for the past 35 years. Where and how far can it go? Even if this one school shifts out, what of other schools? Hospitals? Multiplexes? The idea is to cause maximum outrage. Targeting large groups of innocents is the easiest way to get the dirty work done. What better photo- op than a bunch of terrified school children, or patients in wheel chairs as hostages? This is but one ghastly scenario. Unfortunately, nobody wants to deal with it. Not even those smart talking politicians seeking our votes. I guess they too were not ‘directly affected’!
Tackling terror ought to be the number one priority for any and every political party. So far, I have not seen it being given the focus it warrants. Most politicians are still stuck on caste issues, past issues or singing the old ‘secular’ anthem that has ceased to have any meaning. Since very few politicians are ‘directly affected’ by the recession ( their trillions are safe in Swiss accounts – why do they care?), there are few references to the current crisis, apart from a weak mew or two about reducing taxes. Women and their myriad problems have always been a low priority for political parties – and so they continue to be this time around as well. None of the Behenjis, Ammas and Didis are making any promises to better take care of their underprivileged sisters. The slugfests so far have been staged by non-entities like Varun. And , no thank you, Manekaji. You can keep your beta to yourself… please don’t thrust him on an unsuspecting nation. Television debates have again been personality driven with key issues taking a back seat. Party spokespeople have gone hammer and tongs at one another…. but after all that hot air and fake fuming, I still don’t know what the drama was all about. No party is keen to discuss the tricky issue of criminals in parliament. Naturally. Which party is free of these pests? Without criminals occupying those seats , our parliament will look pretty empty. The current Withering Violet ( Rahul baba), has sensibly backed off from taking the pole position in the prime ministerial race. Which is a good move. And Manmohan Singh’s respectable ‘special appearance’ at the G20 has boosted his image a little and worked better than all the multiple stents in the world to unclog those overworked arteries. Phir bhi, the national mood remains a bit too somber and cool. And one shoe does not a summer make!! First of all, this particular joota missed its mark. Secondly, it made a hero out of the shoe thrower. Thirdly, Jagdish Tytler’s thick skin is shoe-proof….. even in defeat. Fourthly, it is not a case of one shoe fitting all. Fifthly, Reebok is the only real gainer, especially in size 8 shoes. At least, Jarnail expressed his anger and his act may even trigger off a chain reaction with other jootawaalas. But my guess is, lobbing shoes at netas won’t become an all- out national sport, since shoes ( Reeboks etc) are expensive. Why waste them?? As of now, people are more concerned about the shoe string budgeting required to keep the home choolas burning. Cheap chappals are a more cost effective option….. and I have several to spare, in case anybody needs them. Happy to oblige. The entire world will be watching this election, and taking its cues from the way India handles this monumental responsibility. Democracy kuch aisi vaisi cheez nahi hai, bhai. If we blow it, we will be doing ourselves a huge disservice… duniya ke saamney. Even a Martian can tell there are no real issues involved this time. No defined ideological clashes either. Just survival of the toughest. As the declaration of assets by the candidates has shown, there are no saints in this race. Just crorepatis who started their lives as slumdogs, but have amassed unimaginable wealth - and that’s the official part of their disclosure.We take them at their word – Soniaji, poor thing, does not possess a car. Rahul baba has no home. Pawar, of course, has neither!! Doesn’t your heart go out to these seriously deprived becharas??
This is just so disappointing. Albert Pinto ko gussa aana chahiye. Par kyon nahi aa raha hai, boss?? Jawab do…