That's the new book from the SDe imprint. It will be launched soon.
The other picture was clicked by a neighbour from his window when the mobs came...
I have to record my appreciation for the Mumbai cops who did such a great and efficient job of rounding up the rabble rousers and packing them off to the nearest thaana. Or else cars and property would have been vandalised.... and my ratings with the neighbours would almost certainly have been seriously dented!
This appears in the Special Independence Day Issue of India Today...tweet and be damned!
Cry, my beloved city…
Maximum City , with Minimum Freedom - that’s today’s Mumbai. What a fall there was my, countrymen! And as India rolls towards its 66th Independence Day, one begins to wonder what this hard won freedom was all about? Freedom for whom? Freedom for what? From what? Just look around you! What do you see – what sort of freedoms are we talking about? We know of at least one important freedom we are on the verge of losing – freedom of speech. Once we surrender that, what remains? Without making this personal ( I leave that to our netas), what has been the most astonishing part of the ugly controversy that erupted over my tweet last week is the abysmally low level of public discourse and debate on parade. Despite the tawdry developments around the incident, I am certainly not going to fall for the bait and start swearing my allegiance to Mumbai and Maharashtra from every available platform, in order to appease those looking for a pitched battle. My distress arises from a totally different source : what we are witnessing today is political muscle flexing at its crudest. That, and a growing tyranny towards anybody who has an opinion that does not sit well with assorted groups nurturing assorted vote banks with an eye on the delectable election pie. The message coming across is loud and clear : step out of line , and you are dead meat. If you dare to open your mouth, you are asking to be ‘taught a lesson’ . Freedom itself has been appropriated by political thugs. It is their ‘freedom’ versus the freedom of all others. A case of ‘my freedom is bigger than yours.’
And now that the much bandied about word - ‘elite’ - is officially recognized as an epithet that is to be liberally hurled at ‘people like us’, what are we supposed to do? Cower, quake and shake in our shoes? Run for cover?Apologise for our existence? For being who and what we are? Unlike countless netas who have looted and cheated people to become overnight millionaires, there are millions of hard working, honest citizens who have actually bothered to go to college, pick a profession they love, and earn decent wages for their efforts. They have not stolen anybody’s money, they pay their taxes and yes – they also enjoy life to the hilt . Unless even that ( enjoyment) is going to be declared a crime shortly. Most of those hurling charges at me, are far, far richer than I can ever be. They live in grander homes , drive better cars, and have amassed immeasurable wealth that is unaccounted for. Some have serious criminal charges against them, and are known to be debauched and unutterably corrupt on every possible level. These are the people who want to silence citizens. These are the people who talk idiotically about Page 3 People. What is this seething resentment all about? Money?
Aha – it’s much worse than that. It’s definitely not the money. It’s the mind. Anybody can make money. But where can you buy thought? The rage is over a different way of thinking. The real frustration arises out of the fact that no matter how much ill gotten wealth these people make in their lifetime, the one thing they desperately crave for remains elusive and out of reach – respect. If they can’t earn it, they would rather shun it. Stifling free thought is one way of asserting that control. An unambiguous message is sent out to anybody with a different mindset from theirs – conform, or else! Toe the line, or else! What are they afraid of? When I read all those sanctimonious platitudes referring to the 105 people who lost their lives in 1956 leading up to the formation of the State of Maharashtra, I want to ask, what has a single political party in the State done to improve the lives of the average Maharashtrian today ? It’s all very well to lecture others and talk about those martyrs. But if these same politicians had been sincere and serious about honouring their memory, they would have ensured Maharashtra and Maharashtrians prospered on every level.They would have concentrated on making Mumbai a world class metropolis. Exactly the opposite has happened. Maharashtra is in shambles. Mumbai ranks as one of the filthiest cities in the world. Corruption on an epic scale defines day to day life . And now there is this! Intolerance and intimidation. Vendetta and violence.There is an ugly battle being waged for absolute control over Mumbai. For no matter how shabby, or how stinky, Mumbai still rules as India’s number one city. If you ‘acquire’ Mumbai, nothing else is needed. Mumbai is the biggest asset in any politician’s portfolio . There is far too much at stake here. Which is why an innocuous tweet which obviously touched a rawer than raw nerve, triggered off such a nasty backlash. Nobody wants the golden goose that’s Mumbai to slip out of those grasping hands. The question these avaricious chaps are arrogantly overlooking is simple – what is a city without its people? Mumbai is Mumbai because of its extraordinary people. Mumbai belongs to each and every Mumbaikar. It is Mumbaikars who make Mumbai what it is. And if there’s one thing Mumbaikars loathe it is bullies. And muzzles.