I am down with a severe case of laryngitis - not even a croak manages to escape my constricted throat. And you know what? I'm lovin' it! Silence is such a friend. So soothing, so reassuring! The condition also provides the perfect excuse to not take or make calls ( I'm allergic to both). I have just downed my fifth mug of hot water with haldi, ginger and honey ( thanks, aie and aji!). Am ready to crash early ( normal beddy -bed time being 2 a.m. ). The family is disoriented by my silence... perhaps, relieved as well? I had to turn down TV requests, too. Which was not such a good thing, since I did have my views on Ratan Tata nominating Cyrus Mistry as his successor.
Let's blame this ridiculous hoarse throat on the Dubai Bug. How I loved my four days there, though! The Sharjah Book Fair was superbly organised and it was wonderful to see full attendance at the 'meet the author' sessions. I met one of our Blogdosts ( Hello! Maddy!!) at mine! Ten Indian authors and hundreds of local supporters. That's the way to do it. A little birdie told me our blue eyed boy, Shashi Tharoor was mad as hell because the chopper that was to fly him from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah arrived two hours late. Not that his fans minded. They waited patiently for Shashi and Sunanda. Organisers informed me later that the wait was well worth it, since Shashi charmed their pants and dish-dashes off!
As for me, I was happy to note Dubai has got its groove back. Big time! It's business and shopping as usual. And the dunes are alive with the sound of dirhams once more!!
This appeared in Asian Age...
Yes! India’s most awaited celeb- baby has arrived. Jai ho! Little Miss World is finally here. Family Bachchan is over the moon. And so are their fans. Congratulations, Aishwarya and Abhishek. Mubarak ho! Now can we all please get back to work …to our rather dull lives, and leave the parents of the new born to get on with theirs? After the unprecedented speculation, interest,gossip and publicity surrounding the pregnancy of our most beautiful actress, it’s time for some respite. Really! The relentless tracking of Ash’s every twitch and flutter… the huge amounts of betting money involved… followed by the unusual code of ethics regarding media coverage of the big event, made one wonder whether even Princess Di had been subjected to such scrutiny when she gave birth to the heir (and spare) of the British throne. More recently, Carla Bruni Sarkozy delivered her little girl minus too much of a media frenzy. Why, even Posh Beckham produced her latest bundle of joy without the waiting world holding its collective breath for the momentous delivery. Baby B’s case is unique. Almost from the day she was conceived, there was news value attached to the dramatic announcement. Even if one overlooks the Madhur Bhandarkar ‘Heroine’ controversy, Baby B was deemed ‘hot’ by the breathless media. It is to Aishwarya’s credit that she chose good sense and propriety over instant publicity and non-stop coverage, by dropping out of sight for the first few months of her much-awaited,much-debated pregnancy. Perhaps it was natural caution, even superstition that dictated Aishwarya’s decision. In retrospect, it was the way to go.We love our desi traits – well, most of them. We believe in ‘nazar’ and most expectant mothers lie low for the first five months of pregnancy, afraid of consequences that have a lot to do with the idea of someone’s ‘evil eye’ falling on them. All this is true and understandable. What was harder to figure out was the exaggerated media interest in this particular case. It was as if viewers and readers could think of little else beyond Baby B’s sex and arrival date. At one point it became a national obsession with the equivalent of a countdown programme monitoring the progress of Ash’s growing girth. Several top actresses have taken maternity leave to go off and have their babies. Some have taken permanent leave after that and left movies for good. Others have waited for the kids to grow up a little before announcing a come back. Two of them ( Madhuri Dixit and Karishma Kapoor) are bravely in the running once again, and soldiering on, as they await their respective fates at a very cruel box office. Sridevi is the bravest of them all as she readies herself for her return to the big screen even after years of being just a svelte mom to two daughters. Sonali Bendre and Raveena Tandon were never in the same league as the others, but they have sensibly settled for a different niche. Being a Bollywood Goddess does come with certain caveats. It remains to be seen how Aishwarya’s career shapes up after the birth of her tiny bundle of joy.
While the feverish interest in Baby B was peaking, several crucial developments were taking place in India – in case anybody noticed or cared! Rahul Baba’s initiation into adulthood was on in U.P. and political pundits were monitoring his every move and utterance very closely. Unfortunately for India’s most pampered ‘Baba’, his baby steps into the big, bad world of savage politicking in the badlands of Mayawati terrain, started off on a dheela note with that remark about ‘beggars’ in Maharashtra. Much as he tried to back track and salvage his position after that gauche comment, our ‘Baba’ is still stuck in a bad spot. Seen as an eager toddler by rivals, Rahul’s attempts to bare his fangs and show some teeth are embarrassingly naïve. Rahul is utterly unconvincing when he attempts to play Gabbar Singh and growl, “Kitney aadmi thhe?” Besides, it’s really hard to visualise Diggy responding to Rahul if he calls out ‘Arrey O, Samba’ . That is another thing about desi traits. Once we dub someone a ‘Baba’ or a ‘Baby’, try as they might, they cannot shake off this annoying childhood tag. They remain kids for life. Check out the number of middle-aged ‘Baba Bhais’ floating around Gujarat. Once a ‘Baba’ crosses fifty in Gujarat, people around him add a deferential ‘Bhai’ , which makes it a particularly comical combo. It gets funnier still when ‘Baba Bhai’s’ grandson arrives on the scene. That poor child is then referred to as ‘Baba Bhai nu Babo.” Go figure! Rahul, poor chap, is a victim of just such a syndrome. India may love Jawaharlal Nehru’s cute ‘Babo’ to death and genuinely want him to succeed. But his minders need to project him correctly from this point on. No matter how strenuously Rahul dresses down and does his whole ‘Son of the Soil’ number, clad in unironed khadi, he is no rumpled –crumpled, run of the mill neta. He is seen as a Prince. He looks like a Prince. All he has to do is behave like one. And forget making speeches. Leave speechifying to more competent courtiers like Kapil Sibal. Rahul playing the Reluctant Prince has a greater chance of impressing the unwashed masses than Rahul the Unconvincing Socialist. Making people believe he possesses a magic wand that will take care of their problems miraculously somewhere in the future, is a far better strategy to adopt than the one he’s going in for right now. Mayawati is on a roll. She is coming up with one master stroke after another. Mayawati looks unstoppable. Like an elephant on a rampage. You need a Hercules to take her on.Rahul Baba had better start pumping iron. Right now!