2020, State of Play, Telegraph Calcutta

The Delhi violence is a symptom of a vastly altered India (March 4, 2020)

“Mobs smash, loot and burn”

“Fires and bomb wreck town…”

“Furniture and goods flung from homes and shops…”

“Bands rove… plunderers trail wreckers… Police stand idle…”

Familiar headlines. Headlines we’ve seen leap out nearly ten days now from a strip of Delhi gone phosphorescent with hate and the mayhem it often spells. These could well have been headlines from Delhi. They aren’t. They are headlines from more than eighty years ago, from a faraway place called Germany and its overrun neighbourhood whose uneasy resonance amidst us we must begin to sense.

Here are the real, fuller headlines. Continue reading “The Delhi violence is a symptom of a vastly altered India (March 4, 2020)”

2002, Ayodhya, Indian Express, Reportage

This piece was first published in December 2002, the tenth anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid

“What Do You Do, Even the Gods are Locked in Dispute”

Sankarshan Thakur, Indian Express, Ayodhya

You will go back disappointed, said the former Raja of Ayodhya. Nothing here ten years later, he said, the action was further west, in Gujarat, where Babri VIPs were lining up to cheer their new hero. So Sankarshan Thakur and photographer Prashant Panjiar let Ayodhya’s residents tell their stories: from an ailing architect of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement to boys who sell Babri demolition cards they can’t read. From a Muslim shoemaker who watched his shop burn to a mason who’s chipping away at the pillars of a very real and, at the same time, a very imagined temple.

 

The time was about right, we were told, but we had got the place terribly wrong. However could we have mixed up Godhra with Ayodhya? That is where it is all happening this year, isn’t it, in Gujarat, that last surviving fortress where a make or break battle rages. In Ayodhya it was going to be all symbolic and this time, unlike December 6, 1992, they honestly meant it. There weren’t enough of them around to manage anything beyond the symbolic.

Continue reading “This piece was first published in December 2002, the tenth anniversary of the demolition of the Babri Masjid”
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?”