This appeared in a few editions of the Sunday TOI yesterday. Why just a few? Because of Holi! Don't ask me how it works, but some cities celebrated Holi on saturday and got their newspapers on Sunday. Mumbai went paperless.... and my Sunday morning was so very empty without my Sunday fix ( newspapers + upma+ coffee). However, it was the super moon weekend... and I made the most of it later in the night - took my daughters for a moonstruck drink at my favourite bar - DOME - from where we watched the moon hungrily, and looked at countless hotties clad in LBDs, as they tottered in on impossibly high heels.
This morning, my coffee tasted so much better with the daily stack of newspapers next to the tray. I read a wonderful piece on Holi ( not my best festival - I find it vulgar and filthy) in The Speaking Tree. It's written by P.C.Jain and Daljeet and talks about the origins of the festival .The part I liked a lot described Holi as nature's own 'utsav'. While the ultimate Holi was played by Radha when she dyed herself in Krishna's 'shyam rang' - thus becoming the first one to celebrate Holi in her entire being! Utterly romantic!!
I tried uploading two new interviews - with zero success. Aparna, I need your help!
Batcha – Gotcha!
“There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,” sang Harry Belafonte, many moons ago, and all those of us who grew up singing along with him, generally chorused, “Then fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry.Fix it!” Right now, there is a gaping hole in the Congress bucket – but who’s going to fix it, dear Sonia, dear Sonia…? Not Manmohan Singh, for sure. He has finished ‘owning up’ – remember? As a bewildered and increasingly frustrated nation watches the muck flying around, there is a disquiet building up within a certain section, which needs to be paid attention to… or else. Or else – what? The cynics will ask. Or else… or else, the hole will get bigger and bigger, and nobody will be able to fix it, till it’s too late. With all the leaks doing the rounds, it’s time to just say it out loud – India is in a mess. A gigantic mess. And unless we acknowledge that, nothing is likely to change in the near future. Recently, there was a front page photograph of a middle- aged, portly, pot- bellied ‘Youth Congress’ protestor holding a cut out of Rahul Gandhi, while getting hosed down by the Chandigarh police. It was a telling image. In a country that keeps touting its youth status and reminding the world we have over half a billion young people to fall back on, it would be interesting to ask politicians to define youth. Is youth a mind set or an age? We seem to fail on both counts. Eons ago, we used to laugh at 50- year- old ‘Young Turks’, grey at the temples, and bent in the knees, who would insist on posing as jawan politicos ready to overthrow the oldie goldies ( true blue geriatrics, several years older). Today, the same saga continues with 40+ fellows still playing the youth card. It’s a carry forward of the Bollywood story, where say, a 46-year-old Aamir Khan can get away playing a college student ( ‘3 Idiots’), and nobody cares because Aamir is Aamir and so bloody good at what he does. Rahul Gandhi ( a late and reluctant entrant in the big, bad world of politics) is still treated as a bachcha - a novice, a newbie, an apprentice…. someone who needs at least ten more years to learn the ropes before he emerges as a full fledged politician. India is waiting patiently for the boy to grow up.
Meanwhile , there are Big Boys like Balwa ( handsome, aggressive and all of 36), who are teaching a trick or two to the veterans and threatening to take a few down with him. This week’s boy-victim is A.M.Sadiq Batcha (37) whose body was found hanging from a ceiling fan by his wife. This is yet another incredible story about a lowly door-to-door salesman, who used to hawk readymade garments not that long ago. In two, short decades, Batcha swiftly became a globe-trotting M.D. of a company with a turnover of 750 crores. A mind boggling, but increasingly familiar scenario . Was Batcha’s death murder or suicide? Well… our super brilliant investigating agencies are on the job. Which means we shall never find out, and by this time next week it will be a stale, dead story. His mentor, former telecom minister A.Raja, must be relieved that the dead man was considerate enough to leave a suicide note giving the tainted telecom player a clean chit and declaring his old boss “ innocent”.That was pretty thoughtful of him. Batcha is conveniently dead and out of the way ( rumours of Batcha turning approver were highly exaggerated – right?).He has taken Raja’s dirty secrets to the grave with him. Perhaps CBI sleuths are equally relieved… one less person to grill. The story , which was hotting up… will cool down predictably, just like the world hopes will happen with the Fukushima reactors.
But the more puzzling question continues to persist : where have all the asli young ones gone? The hot blooded students of India? Why are they so indifferent, so passive? They claim piously on various platforms to want to be the change they wish to see. But hello! It isn’t happening. The only change one sees is in their hairstyles. The famous ‘attitude’ is restricted to fashion and sex. They remain an obstinately apathetic lot when it comes to politics. They also insist there isn’t a single leader they can connect with. Which is largely true, given the average age in parliament. The few young politicians ( mainly sons and daughters of netas) are seen occupying front row seats during fashion week far more often than doing anything worthwhile in their own constituencies. Their presence is regularly established in cutting edge photo shoots for glam mags where they preen and pose in the latest designer gear, while those who elected them in the first place, keep wondering where their saviours have disappeared. If there is indeed any genuine angst, anger, disenchantment with the current political scenario, it stays strictly below the radar. At this point, it is hard to visualize a gathering of incensed, young protestors at India Gate or the Gateway of India. Maybe, for this generation, Tahrir Square remains a far off destination that has nothing to do with us or our concerns. Libya and Gaddafi? Bahrain? Oman? ‘Dil to Batcha Hai, Ji?” Ummm… cool movie. Chill guys…. have some Bhang and groove to Rang Barase…. pass the pichkari…pump up the volume. Holi Hai!