I experienced sharp shooting pains in my abdomen when I read that China laid claim to not just Tawang, but the entire state of Arunachal Pradesh (charmingly referred to in Beijing as South Tibet). I laughed so hard, my appendectomy stitches almost ripped apart. Had Chinese Ambassador Sun Yuxi been sitting next to me when he made that statement, I’d have slapped him playfully on the back, and perhaps even borrowed his silk handkerchief to mop up my streaming tears. Gosh, and I’d always thought that apart from Jackie Chan and Ha Jin (a delightfully witty and ironic author), the Chinese were utterly humourless. I really have no idea how the Chinese ambassador expected us to react to his comically arrogant statement. Shiver in our shoes and sign over a chunk of our land with trembling hands? Or smile graciously, gift-wrap the state with a pretty bow and all, and throw in Bihar, with its Buddhist hotspots, as well for good measure? The claim is so ludicrous I cannot understand why anyone should even bother to take it seriously. Frankly, the only person in India who should be worried about it is Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. The CM has been trying oh so hard to turn the state’s capital into Shanghai; he’s bound to gnash his teeth or sink into a tragic manic-depressive state if Tawang beats Mumbai to it. But back to Ambassador Sun Yuxi’s claim. I’m velly solly, but I just don’t buy the sentimental angle, either. So what if the sixth Dalai Lama was born in Tawang? My contention is, if you feel so strongly about it, get a visa, go there on a pilgrimage and puhleez, for heaven’s sake, become a nicer human being in the process. Just sitting in vajrasan and chanting “Namyo ho renge kyo,” doesn’t exactly give you the key to nirvana. And if you really want a souvenir, buy prayer beads or yak cheese (if, of course, there are yaks in Arunachal Pradesh). You don’t have to take the land, too, as a remembrance, do you? Unless, however, what you really want is, ach mein Gott, (a dirty, filthy word from Mein Kampf coming up now) lebensraum? Aha? Naughty, naughty. Not in this day and age, please.Now, if I were India’s external affairs minister, I wouldn’t just have staunchly said, “Arunachal Pradesh is ours.” I’d have called in zillions of TV crews, looked directly at the rolling cameras and said, “I have a message for the sentimental Chinese government. Remember all ye faithful that Buddha said get rid of desire because desire causes pain. Real pain. Terrible, terrible pain and suffering.” At this point I’d scrunch my eyes into narrow slits in a meaningful way. And, of course, I’d have to dig my nails into my palms to stop myself from childishly blurting out, “So ya boo and sucks to you.” But clearly, I know nothing about diplomacy, so it’s a good thing for my country that I am just an ordinary, powerless citizen. Heck, we already have a pretty exhausting ‘enemy’ to deal with on the western side of our border. Anyway, I’m waiting to see how this turns out. Till then, I will not buy any products with ‘Made in China’ labels, despite the fact that they are way cheaper. Hey, for a country that makes terrifically good power-saving CFLs, I’m surprised it still can’t see the light. Maybe (just maybe) we should give them Bihar, instead. Not just for the enlightening Bodhi tree, if you know what I mean. Rest assured they’d beg us to take it back pronto, so absolutely nothing to worry about there.