Binayak Sen.... Anna Hazare.... the new messiahs for the new age patriot. Unfortunately, most of these 20-something, freshly-minted nationalists are political babes-in-the woods. Naive, trusting, gullible. They do not, and perhaps, cannot, look beyond the obvious. But, what they see, fills them with hope. That's enough. Who knows the truth behind those dodgy tapes? How much credibility does Amar Singh have? Or any other decoy, for that matter? The far more important issue is that overdue ferment has taken place. And younsters have discovered the potential for political change rests with them. This is a radical and powerful discovery. If they allow the fervour to dissipate, we may have to wait for another 50 years... and another avatar of Anna. India cannot afford the wait. So, let's not get derailed and distracted by cheap stunts and tactics designed to discredit a worthwhile awareness campaign ( forget Anna and the intricacies of the Lokpal Bill for now). If our Youth turn away at this critical stage and lose interest, the momentum will be lost.
Remember : Even the Berlin Wall came down suddenly. Without any prior warning. Everything is possible.Lagey raho!
This appeared under 'Opinion' in Hi! Blitz....
I am a seriously worried parent. I have several children still in the marriage mart – and the way weddings are being celebrated these days….chances are I will die poorer than a church mouse if and when they tie the knot. Pity I couldn’t convince any of them to elope and declare themselves man-and-wife after a hasty exchange of garlands in a temple deep in the forests. There is no better ‘sakshi’ than Bhagwan, I kept repeating. Adding, ‘You don’t really need to cart 3000 of your closest and dearest friends as witnesses to some exotic and ridiculously pricey destination overseas. Besides, Mumbai is as amazing as Monaco…. errr…. almost!” Is anybody listening? Naaah. Is discreet no longer sexy? Does nobody do small any more? Clearly not! And I am doomed….
An 80-page book arrived last week. Guess what? That was no book. It was a wedding invitation. And it was so detailed, it has to be preserved for posterity. Let’s call it a mini-reference booklet that provides every, possible factoid associated with the happy occasion – from the names and contacts numbers of the event managers, internationl dj’s, flower people, decorators, hair and make- up artists, beverage and food consultants, lehenga designers, carpenters, lightmen, vanity van suppliers, media partners, chartered accountants, bankers, airline and hotel partners…. I swear. Okay… I’m exaggerating, but just a little. Let me assure you these are not Bollywood types but society people. And there is zero embarrassment attached. It goes without saying that the Wedding Book, arrived on an impressive salver, with a box of hand crafted Belgian chocolates ( does nobody send boxes of mithai these days?). A chosen few received pieces of jewellery, while the middle-rung invitees were gifted Lladro figurines. There were helpful suggestions enclosed – such as what would be the appropriate outfit to wear at the sangeet, which would be celebrated at a secret destination somewhere in the Aegean Sea. Cocktail Swim Wear?? Oh… how could I forget the elaborate recreation of family trees (both parties ), going back four generations?Then, the respective company profiles ( complete with bizarre names for all those shadey companies)?And I’m willing to bet there were balance sheets tucked in there, plus, the annual company report in a separate brocade cover. The ostentatious, gilt-edged invite looked more like a prospectus for an IPO than a shaadi invitation. But , who knows? It could also have been that, too – a dual purpose document leading up to an actual public offering of shares.
I have stopped attending these carnivals a long time ago. What difference does it make to anyone if a few hundred out of the thousands on the long list, don’t show up? Does anybody really miss you? Is your absence noticed? It’s all about cramming the venue with ‘names’ from every field. The recent 250 crores wedding in Delhi took the cake. But I actually overheard a father of the bride in Mumbai saying, “ Is shaadi mein 30 crore lagaya hai…” like he had ‘lagaoed’ 30 crores in the share market with a long term view on profit booking!
I thought wistfully about the days when a wedding invitation was called a ‘Kankotri’. It was first offered to the family deity by the ghar ka purohit. Only then was it personally delivered to the homes of relatives, after rigourously checking the auspicious hours in which to hand it over. The wording was straight forward, to the point and simple. The card was decided as per the family tradition going back a couple of generations. It was issued by the head of the family, and mentioned nothing much more than the venue, date and the time of the ‘hast milaap’. Is there no chance at all of going back to the simplicity of that era? When weddings were ceremonial occasions for genuine celebrations, and not networking venues for the rich and powerful? When an ‘alliance’ meant just that – a coming together of two families, and not a merger of business interests, or a signal that a takeover bid was in the offing? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone ultra- daring decides to break this newly imposed social dictatorship that insists on a display of gross vulgarity when two people decide to hitch up? Which may be why I was charmed by the recent marriage of Varun Gandhi. It seemed solemn and meaningful, understated and elegant. If only they’d kept the press out, it would have qualified as the ideal shaadi…. Band, baaja, baraat and all.