Telegraph Calcutta

In The Lee Only Me, Very PlaneLee


We needed more Rifales, many more Rifales. This is election year. Rifales are useful, they come in handy, they always have in election year. No? Oh perhaps you don’t understand, or you understand little. Or nothing. Rifales, bhai! Rifales! Bandooks!

The fundamental thing to understand about Rifales is that they are Bandooks, they fire. Uff, I know they fly and some people call them aircraft and planes and jets and stuff like that, but here is the fundamental flaw with that. (But let me first pause here and purse my lips and nod my sagely head and look into the far distance, which is about as far as the wall on which hangs my leader’s head, and  give you time to grasp the wisdom of what I am about to say. This is how I do things. I realise not everybody is able to understand my simplifications of complications, of which there are more than just a few at the moment. Explaining Rifales is just one of them. My name is ExplainLee, and I am to SamjhataHoon what Bruce was to KungFoon.)

So, as I was saying, Rifales are planes but they are not only planes; they are not planes you can buy tickets for and go from place to place. Only the BossOfAllThings can to that, get into a plane without a ticket and go from place to place. But I am digressing. (HUSHED NOTE TO SELF: These dunderheads gathered here obediently taking notes have no idea but I am rehearsing the art of digression here, you birdbrained guinea pigs! We must digress, we must learn to digress, when we are cornered, as we are now, cornered into many corners, we must be armed with many digressions. When we are asked the full form of AA , for instance, we must begin to say Kyon? Kyon? Or just Q Q. Or when we are asked about jobs we must turn to pakodas and tea brewed on gutter gases. It’s good to practise digression, which is what I am also doing here. So there. But for now, digression done.)

So Rifales are Bandooks, flying Bandooks. They spit, they fire, they set things to flames and tear them asunder. Which is why Rifales are good things to have in election year. Remember Phophors? Those bandooks they earlier got? Please recall what impact Phophors guns had in election year. They were good Bandooks, they did the job. Ooops! Did I just get carried away? Did I just argue these Bandooks —- Rifales and Phophors —- work poorly, even disastrously, in election year for those that acquire them? Ahem! Ahem! Happens. I do get carried away sometimes. The logic of what I was arguing is that Bandooks you buy become weapons firing for the opposition in election year. WHAT? I did it again?! Sorry folks, extremely sorry, this is not what I meant to argue.

I meant to say our Bandooks are better than your Bandooks and therefore … therefore.. therefore.. for details read my flog. I frequently flog, I am the Commissar of Flogging, after all. Flogging is my given job, a job nobody can take away from me. Even when they had no job for me, flogging was my job. I flogged and flogged and I flogged my way back. I flog relentlessly. I flog everything in sight. I flog with a passion so intense it does not really matter what is true and what is not, and what is clever or stupid, I just flog because it is what brings out the passion in me. I flog hard. I flog everything I am asked to flog or everything that my DeeahLeedaah will be happy to see me flogging.  I’ve been told a certain chaiwala requires a round of flogging and that would make the BossOfAllThings happy —- a charlatan chaiwala by the name of Mahadeb who has been playing his chai trade with a sense of purpose and honesty only so he can give a poor name to The Chaiwala. But this Mahadeb’s suddenly vanished somewhere. But I’m certain we have the resources to grab him wherever it is he is hiding. We have OmitWah, you see! Aur, Ganga saugandh, OmitWah ke haath bahut lambe hain. I digress again, but that, as I said, is just good rehearsal.

So we have the Rifale

But we’ve begun to fear

It’s proving bad for our hal

In this the election year



LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

What’s All This That’s Going Pop, Pop?


POP! Oye, did you hear that? Was it that sound? Did you just hear pop! like it had gone POP!? But stop. Let me listen again, let me carefully listen. Or rather, recall what I heard more carefully. It was not a pop! that I heard, it was a POP! Like the grandpop of a pop! It was like POP! Like something happened. Like 2018 dissolved. In the space between a tick and a tock. One whole year, 365 days and some, gobbled by the puniness of a nanosecond.

Imagine when something so voluminous is consumed by something so minute. A monumental effort that takes and that effort makes a sound: POP! That’s what must have happened, a nanosecond devouring a calendar-full under cover of darkness. POP! And lo and behold, more than just a calendar-full is suddenly gone.

Continue reading “What’s All This That’s Going Pop, Pop?”

Telegraph Calcutta

A Note On A Hangover


The year that has begun might well turn out to be the most momentous in the memory of our lives, or in the memory of the lives of most of us. How many of us are still around, after all, who were alive and aware in 1947? Or in 1950? We, as we are today, began in 1947. And then, in 1950, we agreed upon the fundamentals of who we would be and how we would go about being so — we gave unto ourselves our Constitution.

Its letter and spirit have never come under such rampant and consistent assault as during the years that Narendra Modi assumed the reins of government and Amit Shah the reins of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The lines between government and party, loyalty to nation and loyalty to person, have been sought to be cynically obliterated during this time, and a new ultra-aggressive, right-wing monotheism spurred. Democratic dissent has come to be renamed treason.

Continue reading “A Note On A Hangover”

Telegraph Calcutta

The Bonfire Of Many Sanities


And why would you even wonder that I speak out of anger, exasperation even? Why would you be surprised? Hey! Raam! I am still speaking to you. This is Mahadeb on the line, the Aaakashwani speakerphone so everybody can hear. I trust you are tuned in and listening. I trust you did not go away thinking I was done with you last week. I wasn’t. With all the mess spilling about, it is a tad tough containing oneself. And the things is this mess continues to spill. Continue reading “The Bonfire Of Many Sanities”

Telegraph Calcutta

Remember You Are Mahadeb’s Avatar


Hey! Raam! Listening? Whereabouts are you? What are you doing? These days? This is Mahadeb calling. I said I shall speak out as I am; and I promised you shall hear. Hear when I start to speak. Well, here it is, I am beginning to speak now. As I am. In my mien. In my tone. In my voice. You shall now hear Mahadeb for as long as I want to speak. This space is mine. I am on stage. Listen. On speakerphone, please put me on speakerphone so it begins to sound a little like Aakashvaani, everybody can hear. I keep hearing about you once every while from folks on that planet of mortals down there far below. Every now and again there rises a cry over you. Every now and again as in every five years or thereabouts, and I keep wondering what is it that happens every five years or thereabouts that I hear your name being invoked from that corner of mortals down there far below. What’s happening? Continue reading “Remember You Are Mahadeb’s Avatar”

Telegraph Calcutta

The Modi Test


Someday very soon someone will commission a poll on who will be India’s preferred pick for prime minister in 2019, and the answer won’t be worth either the wait or the bet. It will be the same man who has consistently led such polls since 2013 or thereabouts: Narendra Damodardas Modi. His most credible emerging challenger, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, will probably have added a few percentage points to his lapel but the overwhelming odds still are Modi will re-emerge frontrunner by a fair distance. Continue reading “The Modi Test”

Telegraph Calcutta

Because We Turned Thereon To Abuse


We turned away. We turned away from each other. But I am changing my tone now. I am not you. I am not part of this “we”. I am separate. I am removed. I am above. Remember. I am Mahadeb.

What did you ever think of me? That I was a chaiwala? A chaiwala aspiring to be, someday, TheChaiwala? Just because I served you tea? Endless bhaanrs of them that you still miss and come looking for around that forlorn cart? But that was not the sum of who I am. Sums are wrong. Sums are what you choose to pick and add; the fallacy of sums of what you forsake or forget to add. Have you ever tried summing up raindrops? Try. Then tell me how you did at that arithmetic. Walk into the rain some fortunate day and bring me back the sum of raindrops, if only the raindrops that fell on you. Continue reading “Because We Turned Thereon To Abuse”