This appeared in Sunday Times
Congrats, India! We have the world’s largest carpet…
It’s true. India is the proud owner of the world’s largest carpet. Don’t look for an entry for this feat in the Guinness Book of Records. You won’t find it. Just look around you. The world’s largest carpet is right there, under your feet. It covers 3,166,414 square kilometres ( that’s the size of India) and has been painstakingly woven over 66 years. You can call it a work in progress, since talented weavers are still at it. Chances are, 66 years later, equally skilled weavers will still be at it. The knots in the carpet are tight and difficult to count. Which also explains the complexity of the pattern , which changes colours and designs at random. It is an all weather carpet, and can withstand millions of dirty feet trampling over it through the worst seasons. It is rugged and tough and designed for rough use. Foreigners take full advantage of its texture and durability, because they know Indians don’t mind how that carpet is used, so long as the carpet isn’t rudely pulled from under their feet.
The original Indian Carpet which was much smaller, was woven by master craftsmen in Delhi. Seeing its popularity, other States asked for the same expert weavers so they could also have their own carpets. But Delhi decided one carpet was enough for all of India. The only exception was the national carrier, Air India, which was given its own Magic Carpet (this amazing flying carpet has been grounded for years) . Even if the other States weren’t too happy with Delhi’s designs, they were not given a choice. Reluctantly, they were forced to accept bits and pieces of the gigantic carpet being woven in the Capital, and asked to contribute big money to keep the entire project going.
The carpet grew and grew and grew. It also started to bulge in strange spots. Delhi explained it was because of the heat and dust in the Capital. There was no alternative but to sweep years of accumulated muck under the carpet. The States got rather upset and reminded Delhi that there was an equal amount of dirt they had to deal with, and that too, without a carpet to call their own. Their States were looking filthy. No problem, said Delhi, you can transport all your dirt to the Capital, and we’ll make room for it under the same carpet. Soon, a slogan was coined: One carpet. One people. And this is how India became the proud owner of the world’s largest carpet,
Today, the world famous Indian carpet is hopelessly worn out and shabby, with large holes in it. Despite its sorry condition, there are demands from several countries to replicate this incredible carpet. But the overworked weavers are refusing to oblige. All the rubbish that has accumulated over time, is threatening to escape from under the carpet and expose the people responsible for creating it in the first place . The carpet itself is protesting. “ How much dirt can I hide? I have done this unpleasant work for over six decades. Give me a break! Weave another carpet!” But nobody is willing to listen. The Indian Carpet is invaluable and unique. No other country has such a gigantic carpet. There is a move to create a special museum for this 8th Wonder of the World. America is interested in the mountains of muck under the carpet. So are our neighbours - Pakistan in particular. China has already helped itself to the dirt when nobody was looking. Indian citizens have got so used to the dirt, nobody notices or cares, not even those with dirt allergies. Some well meaning citizens have appealed to the Prime Minister to nationalize the dirt and make it exempt from scrutiny of any kind. A bill is soon going to be introduced in Parliament, asking for a special status for the carpet and all that it conceals. This is making the government most jittery. Elections are round the corner. And the Indian Carpet is required by all political parties. The Prime Minister is being asked to provide a solution. But he has been invisible for months. No, wait. He did show up at the Red Fort on Independence Day. He made a speech. But lost the debate.
We hear a brand new carpet has been ordered in Gujarat. It employs local weavers only and is called the Modi Carpet. The preferred single colour of the new carpet is saffron.