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”

2018, Column, LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

Outsiders on the inside of the Hill

There is the CapitolHill and then there is the CapitalHill. Similar men look down the two hills, men who seem to get along like a house on fire, as they say, and since they came to assume their respective positions of vantage, they’ve caused enough fire around them, not that they mind. You get the drift, though you should be careful about keeping that drift away from fire’s way. We are talking about TheTossOfAllThings and TheBossOfAllThings, both brassy Outsider-Insiders upending their respective hills, alpha males both, one Genghis, the other Khan, although neither would take kindly to being called either name. They make that clear, unpretty clear – names, or any other thing, from that stable are unacceptable, anathema.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so it is that they have softer, more likeable monikers – BlondieDuck and BeardieLuck, so called because he once bragged to an assembly of poll-bound people that all the luck was on his side. It came to happen that all the votes that election gathered up on the opposite end. But BeardieLuck remains a lucky man. The jury is out on how long it will take to run out on him. We are a democracy and democracies are fickle systems, picky, choosy, re-electy, rejecty. Unreasonable. Capricious. Wise men are aware of that sort of thing, or (psst) they should be for their own good. BeardieLuck knows because nobody can disagree that for all his numerous frailties, he is a wise man. He was just treated to a close shave at home. He got away pretending he’d only got himself a cut he’d desired, close-shaven, almost too close to the skin. Luck stayed, it trimmed him but it spared him any bloodshed. He’s safe on top of CapitalHill.

Continue reading “Outsiders on the inside of the Hill”