Telegraph Calcutta

The Horns, The Horns


Weary a bit now, wondering where Mahadeb might be, or might not; and even why he is happy to remain gone. Without notice. Without a forwarding address. Without news of when he will return, if at all. A bit like AchchheDin, if you will. It gets mentioned all the time but never seems to be at hand. Weary now of expecting and nothing coming off it but more expectation. The promise of them, and the utter refusal of their fulfilment. And the absolute lack or absence of any explanation over why what was promised is not here. AchchheDin. Mahadeb. They were pledged to us. They turned out to be empty pledges, walked over, betrayed. Nothing happened. Happens. Happens all the time and all too often that nothing actually happens. If you know enough of life, you will know that happens. The promising, and the unthinking violation of it. As if nothing happened. As if it were your fault you believed a promise. But it was, wasn’t it? Who asked you to? You utter fool, you believing fool.

But you can’t decide, can you, whether you should have believed in the first place or should not have. We all get there once in every while, or more often, on the horns of that beast called Dilemma. The one pictured below. It wades among us all the time; we clamber on all the time, onto Dilemma, astride its horns, not knowing which one to choose. Should we do this or that? Should we say this or that? Should we go here or there? Or should we not go at all? Wonder if being astride Dilemma is a good thing or a bad thing. That itself is a dilemma, is it not? Or should we dismount the beast and go ahead and do something?

Some folks can do that. They don’t waste away time wondering. When BlondieDuck thinks he needs to quack and croak obdurately around his brood and take flight and drop shit on TinTin TrueDough and BangelaCartel and all the rest of them from above, he just does. And flies off 9,000 miles, all in one flap of his super power wings, for an assignation with that DimJangHun, himself the recipient of earlier and many rounds of pestilential droppings by BlondieDuck.

When the BossOfAllThings wants to banish currency, because he wouldn’t put up with the denominations and colours of others and wants them after his own whim, he calls his minions in the broadcast department, gets onto TV and announces banishment forthwith. Kar lo jo karna hai. Or when Shriman PoltuPokherjee wants to go commune with the SS band that begins with an R, propitiate their dubious deities and treat himself to their spectacularly ramshackle militarism, he just does. Irrespective. Uncaring of alarmed entreaty not to do so. Unbothered by what consequences he might bring upon himself and the company he spent his entire working life in. Jaabo! He pronounced, and then proceeded.

But then you might want to wonder whether to have a dilemma or none at all. How about getting locked on a dilemma over Dilemma? Only fair, isn’t it? To think over and wonder and measure the pros and the cons of doing this or doing that? To take time and muse and ponder whether this is right or that is right, or none of the two is and a third or a fourth thing is right? What’s the ability to be able to think or to wonder there for, after all? Those two horns you see in the picture, they are not vestigial, they have uses. They are there to tear and plough and scratch and bore. They are also there to ride on. They are the thing of Dilemma. You ride one horn, and you wonder if riding the other is better. Then you ride the other and wonder if riding this other is better or riding the previous one. It’s how we progress, through dialectics; history never travelled a straight line, remember, it meandered and meandered and therefore here we are.

These above-mentioned entities, and the way they unthinkingly bulled into whatever it is they did, were they right to do so? Could they have ridden Dilemma a while, just from one horn to the other, and thought and wondered about what they were about to do? Doing the right thing and doing that thing right, is the thing. And it takes time.

If you are to right manners born
Please appreciate to be torn
Believe me it’s nothing to scorn
Learn to ride one, then the other horn.

TT Link

Telegraph Calcutta

Game Of The Season: Jhootbol


Four years. It is a four-year thing, this Jhootbol. Goes away and comes back around every four years. Each time a gladiatorial champ it crowns, each time that gladiatorial champ tries another grab at the crown. Great game this, Jhootbol, they call it the greatest show on earth. Mahadeb comes close, any day, I promise you, but Mahadeb isn’t putting up a show at the moment. He is off stage. Gone.

What you play Jhootbol with comes pumped on accumulations. Of bombast. The more the bombast, the fatter this thing grows and the more perilously close it gets to exploding. This thing called Jhootbol. And when it is in year four is when that is most likely to happen. This business of exploding. It is not unlike the mythic paap kaa ghara which bursts when it gets fuller than full and can take no more. So with Jhootbol. Comes a season, every four years. Jhoot. Jhoot. Jhoot. Jhoot. Jhoot. Then: Boom! The Greatest Show On Earth!! The moment the paap kaa ghara bursts, JhootBol!!! Celebration time.

You might think it is about to happen, this Jhootbol extravaganza, later this week. But you are, as very often, misinformed and misled. It isn’t your fault, it cannot be. You are being constantly and mercilessly misinformed. You are being belligerently misled. Not your fault at all. It is the year of Jhootbol. But it all began quite a while back. And for a while you were taken and did not realise. Jhootbol is not about to begin, it began four years ago and you’ve been lavished with it all this while, bhaaiyon aur behnon! Jaago! And the misinformation industry is pumping on all six, as they say about horse-power driven things, to mislead. For reliable details go to FaultNewsDotCom, but meantime, stay here and be further entertained. Please. Do not please drive me to pleading, else I shall break into Jaaiye aap kahan jaayenge, yeh nazar laut ke phir aayegi, and, you will be the one suffering, ByGodPromise, you will suffer so much you will tell yourself why did I not agree to stay here and read in the first place. Stay. Or regret. The choice is yours. Many people chose an option that they are regretting four years on, so you will have company if you choose to leave and regret. Thirty one odd per cent, or probably fewer, because not everyone is smart enough to regret, or even to know what regret is. It is a higher thing, the sense of regret, you have to know, you have to know differences: this is right, this is wrong. That doesn’t come easy. Differences don’t come easy. It’s hard, it takes time and investment and perseverance to know right from wrong. To know differences. But anyhow, let’s not dwell too much on higher things. This is a newspaper, after all. And we are in Bharat. And we can only play Jhootbol. And we have our undisputed Jhootbol champ, the OneAndOnly Messy, of course, the one who specialises in messing everything up and then plays such a stupendously mesmerising game of Jhootbol, the rest of the field is left gaping in awe.

Like when MessyJi went to Champaran in the province of Beehar recently, the land of the Mahatma of the ExperimentsWithTruth. He went and he made a total Champhaaran of Champaran, I mean MessyJi messed with the truth so rapaciously, there are no words for it; he shredded it to ribbons, poora Champhaaran. He proclaimed, before an oceanic jansabha – his jansabhas are nothing and never less than oceanic – that eight and a half hundred thousand toilets had been built in Beehar over the previous week. Blimey! Imagine the volume of shit Beehar shits! Eight and a half hundred thousand toilets in a week? Which means 5,059 or so toilets built every hour? Which means 84 toilets built every minute? Which means 1.4 toilets built every second? Does that help us come to some approximation of kilo quantum of shit shat per second in Beehar? We might want to know. We might desperately want to know. Because this is a four year thing. That Jhootbol is filling up. And the one filling it up, pumping it, is none other than our MessyJi, undisputed champ of Jhootbol. And we can only hope, folded hands to the high heavens, that the contents of it are not this accumulating shit from Beehar because we would not like a shower of it when it bursts. Please.

And because my apprehensions and anxieties must remain riveted now on what happens next in Jhootbol, I am unable any more to spare any and am therefore borrowing, with due gratitude and commendation and apologies to whoever wrote this in the first place:

Seedhey rastey ki yeh
Tedhi chaal hai
Goal-maal hai bhai
Sab goal-maal hai.

TT Link



2018, Essay, Telegraph Calcutta

A puppet in torment

Shakespearean tragedy has a canny kinship with Kashmir

When you’ve decided to dig in, it might be advisable to ensure you don’t burrow so deep that scrambling out is no longer an option. The Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, is darting, helplessly but consciously, towards making a political grave of her power dugout. Her serial capitulations to the provincial shenanigans and the national worldview of her chosen partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party, are as astonishing as they are unsurprising.

Unsurprising because a dark, and yet unstated though frightfully abject, compromise was written into her decision to fall in step with the BJP after prolonged prevarication. Astonishing because no Kashmiri chief minister in living memory has been so sublime in submitting to routine rebuff and remonstration at the hands of an ally – the kind of heckling and humiliation that cannot be going down terribly well with the constituency she so painstakingly built over the years.

The latest of many snubs that Mehbooba has taken is her government’s declaration, doubtless extracted by some backroom arm-twisting, to the Supreme Court that Major Aditya Kumar of the 10th Garhwal Rifles was not named in an FIR by her police as one of those responsible for opening fire on a mob near Shopian that resulted in the deaths of two civilians in late January. If this isn’t a patent lie, it most certainly is a deferent volte-face few will fail to notice, not least her unquiet south Kashmiri citizenry. Mehbooba’s police and her party – the Peoples Democratic Party – had openly rowed with the army over the incident; Major Kumar’s father, himself a serving army officer, had gone to the Supreme Court protesting that his son was sought to be unfairly prosecuted. But Mehbooba sounded firm about addressing the killings, “Anguished over the tragic loss of lives in Shopian,” she had tweeted soon after the incident, “… have ordered a magisterial probe into the unfortunate incident and asked the enquiry to be completed within 20 days… We will take the probe to its logical conclusion. Justice and peace are two sides of the same coin.” Her counsel’s submission to the Supreme Court on Monday – my lords we have not named a Major Aditya Kumar – clarified to us yet again that Mehbooba is allowed neither magistracy over a probe she’s ordered nor her promised logical conclusions.

Continue reading “A puppet in torment”

2018, Column, LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

Hum pill de chuke sanam

Holy shit! Now, before you start to make erroneous assumptions about my upbringing being uncultured, or lighting into me for being poorly spoken, think again. What else can this shit be but holy. I do not even wish to so much as append that sentence with a question mark; that’s merely, and as any intelligent person would instantly recognise, rhetorical. It is cow shit. Or bull shit. In any or either event, it is shit off bovine orifices. This shit must be holy. Gau. Mata. Saandh. Pita . Okay, forget the saandh and the pita, let’s not be patriarchal for once. Just think Gau. Then the natural thought is Mata. (And very often, then, the natural thought is also Bharat, for Bharat too has a Mata, but let’s focus on immediate concerns for the moment, let’s not get ahead of the script.) Then think shit. Plop, plop!! Holy. Shit. Holyshit! Do not blame me for being poorly brought up. Or for being poorly spoken. If that does not constitute holy shit, you are either fit to be labelled anti-national or I am so much an intoxicated Bhakt, I no longer understand the consequences of being drunk upon what’s dripping down those udders.









Look at them, just look at the state of them. Gau and what the Gau begot. Just for a moment behold them and the plenty around them. Behold the sheer pride and richness of being Gau in these times. They shat, and they created a beauteous plenty about them. Just look at them. It’s like they shat jewels, priceless jewels. One of them, if you were to carefully observe the accompanying illustration, has already shat and is proudly saluting with its tail all there is to be saluted, and the other is in the process of shitting more of the richness that this kind of shit has already conjured. Holy shit. Holy shit! Just look at the pair of them at work, one just done, the other in the process. Begetting holy shit in surrounds already and instantly and visibly enriched by holy shit. It’s all lush, the topography seeded with holy shit, can you not bring yourself to see?

Sometimes you so deeply wish Mahadeb were here, around his life’s chosen station, to see what his ilk can also achieve; what makes the critical cut between a chaiwala and The Chaiwala. It’s all down to him, all of this holy shit. It is he who inspired them, these cows, to shit so copiously they came to be counted as national treasures: Mothers of Holy Shit. He fed them the magic pill, you see, the pill that made them shit and shit and shit so voluminously a jungle sprung around them. Just look. Just look at the abundance around them, it’s all down to the pill The Chaiwala fed them in singular pursuit of his keen sense of national duty. The more the shit, the greater the service to the nation. Shit and serve. Or rather, induce shit and serve. Mahadeb, and sundry chaiwalas, do take note. This is how national duty is done.

We underestimate TheBossOfAllThings, criminally so. We assumed last week that he shall enlighten us on DhanKiBaat. Trust him to spring a surprise. He went further and spoke to us of GobarDhanKiBaat. GobarDhan, the sheer richness of it. It goes down, plop, and turns a many-splendoured thing, from manure to medicine for the most arcane ailment. It flies up, pfffffft, and turns a piece of art beginning with an F. You get the drift. It’s tremendously powerful, the drift of GobarGas. And there’s entire armadas of it scudding about. It has been scientifically established, after all, that one bovine entity is able to expel as much as 100 kilos of pfffft every year. And we have a population of those running into several millions; and now that the WowVigilante’s have taken it upon themselves to zealously, even murderously, protect and preserve, the count is going up, As is pffffft! It’s one of the things that’s able to effortlessly blow holes in the ozone layer. Now many people think that’s not such a good thing, this business of excreted methane and what it does to the atmosphere, but them folks are reduced, mundane folks, they cannot see beyond. It’s when you blow holes in the ozone that you get a peek at the heavens, and it’s through them holes that real wisdoms come to drop upon us. Now where would we be without GobarDhan, or the man who as recently as last Sunday took time off to inform the nation of its earthly and unearthly richness.

Be not ashamed should some one sayYour brains are full of dungTell them the truth, Oh, but heyShit is what had the nation swung.

2018, Column, LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

Our national dish: Pakoda!

You may have no excuses, you were told a full week ago: India has been done dana done, done dana done, Done. NothingHappened has finally been banished, thank you and GodBless, things are happening, they are getting DONE. Bakoda has said it is getting done, and Bakoda can say no wrong. Bakoda has proclaimed all it requires is Pakoda.

Make a Pakoda and all shall be done dana done done, so Bakoda says and so all patriotic folks should believe, for the good reason that Bakoda says so… Make a Pakoda, and all thereafter shall be well.








Bakoda knows, trust me, he has been making Pakodas all his life. He may call himself a chaiwala, but that’s just him being humble. Bakoda is a terribly humble man, we know that, so humble he was willing to call himself a chaiwala when he was to the monogrammed suit born, each suit worth tens of lakhs. And yet he said he was a mere chaiwala! Such is his sublime humility. At the first hint of criticism he cast that monogrammed suit away, auctioned it off. What’s a suit for such a man as Bakoda, he gave it the boot. And so was born that insidious allegation that his is a suit-boot ki sarkar. All because he booted the suit.

What has the world come to? Maa-kasam, Bakoda shall never don that suit again. (Psst, he never does wear a suit, or anything that he wears, a second time, but we aren’t telling anyone that, are we? Boot the suit is such a fabulous riposte to suit-boot, we just can’t get over how clever we are, but hush!)

Continue reading “Our national dish: Pakoda!”

2018, Column, LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

Haven’t you ever heard UnKiBaat?

Mahadeb hasn’t done a spot of work these past months. Or if he has, he’s proffered no evidence of it. He’s not God that he works in invisible ways; he’s merely called Mahadeb, he’s proffered no evidence he may also be God. But then God does work in invisible ways if not also ineffable, so perhaps it is wise to not press the point. Please God, no offence meant. #JustSaying.













But hashtags apart, what has Mahadeb been up to? He has probably become part of this country where people were subjected to NothingHappened for so long that they got so used to it that they do nothing. Wherever you go in this country, people are doing nothing. They are sitting on their haunches and looking left then right as if they were seated ringside on a tennis Grand Slam clash. They do not even sit there and shoot the air, for had they all together shot the air they’d have expelled all pollution. Imagine the national service of our billions seated on their haunches, shooting air. Flights and trains landing on time. Children not wheezing at school. Adults not having to measure SPM levels before they let their children out into the dreadful outdoors. The KaamAadmiParty boss not having to tear himself away from kaam and enrol in a breathing class. Honourable members of the HouseOfBabel not having to stoop to taunting the nobility of MakeInIndia by peddling NotMadeInIndia air purifiers. One of them is so patently anti-national that she advertises some county in a country which is actually a little island that kept our whole humongous subcontinent enslaved for centuries before we struggled and struggled and gave ourselves NothingHappened. Oh, if only all among us who sit on our haunches just shot the air in unison! But we are such ingrates, we have no sense of national pride; what will become of us, Maaaaa! Which cry should also remind us, if we are at all patriots, of Mooooo! Excuse me? Anyhow. Whatever.

Continue reading “Haven’t you ever heard UnKiBaat?”

2018, Essay, Telegraph Calcutta

Narendra Modi and Our Derelictions as Media

The Press seems happy to be co-opted by the government

Just a thought, if only as hors d’oeuvre: Sanjaya was arguably the first television reporter known to us, relaying the great battle live from a far distance. Imagine the consequences of Sanjaya telling Dhritarashtra what would please his ears rather than what transpired as the Kauravas and Pandavas had it off. All it would have taken for an epic subversion of the truth was one obsequious reporter willing to compromise with his craft to curry favour with his master.

After a prime minister lavishly lambasted for never speaking – “Maun Mohan Singh” – we elected a prime minister who never seems to tire of speaking. Some of that, we have been told by his own, amounts to no more than jumlas. But there is a more disturbing aspect to Narendra Modi’s mode of speaking. It’s one-sided.

Modi is into the final lap of his term and he is yet to open himself to questioning in a way that has been the assumed norm for all his predecessors. Our prime minister has his say and he would have no more. On Twitter. On diverse social-media platforms and dedicated web portals. On Mann ki Baat. To commissioned cameras from government-aided or government-allied operations that can be trusted to obey command, pack off and promote the puff. He does not grant interviews, not in the way we should understand them. The complicit silence over how interviews with the prime minister are conducted must be broken. Because people need to know. Here is how it’s done – you may mail a set of questions to one of the prime minister’s aides; they, or the prime minister himself, will examine them and pick which ones are convenient. Of those that the Prime Minister’s Office rejects or refuses to answer, there shall be no mention, or even a record. Subsequently, answers will be formulated and mailed back.

Continue reading “Narendra Modi and Our Derelictions as Media”