Published: February 9, 2015 - 15:24

What do you do when you walk into seafood restaurant after restaurant and discover that the only fish available is flavourless basa? This has happened to me in Goa, Kolkata and Mumbai, when all I was dreaming of was local delicacies like hilsa, bhetki, pomfret and surmai. I screamed, shouted, sulked and then meekly settled for prawns, crabs or oysters instead but not basa—never! See, I’m not taking this lying down anymore. I have decided to become an activist—yeah, I’m going to fight for the rights of seafood-lovers. And if I have to carry a jhola and pair baggy khadi Fab India kurtas with grungy jeans and accessorise my outfit with scuffed Kohlapuri chappals and oxidised silver bangles up to the armpits to look the part, hell, I’ll do it! But I’m drawing the line at the manhole-sized bindi — that’s overkill.

I first toyed with the idea of setting up an online petition on (Amnesty International seemed a bit drastic) but decided against it because, well, most petitions are deleted at the speed of spam. Besides, online petitions don’t make the headlines. After sitting for hours in Rodin’s favourite model’s pose, I have come up with a cracker of an idea. I’m going to complain to the nutty Sangh Parivar—not just MPs, but members of the Cabinet in particular. Why, even the dear old Prime Minister, if it comes to that.

“Basa is not a Hindu fish,” is what I’m going to tell them firmly. This is a fact. It comes from Southeast Asia and, hold your breaths, Sanghis, it crosses the kala pani before it is served on our plates — we may lose our goshdarned varnas! This is sure to inflame the likes of Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti who will immediately accuse basa of being b*****ds, just like 69 per cent of Indian citizens who did not vote for the BJP. Sakshi Maharaj will exhort Indian fish to have more babies and thunder that only surmai/pomfret/rawas (pick only one, please) is a truly patriotic fish, and Giriraj Singh will threaten to send basa to Pakistan on a one-way ticket. Their brothers and sisters in the RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Mahasabha and other weird Hindutva organisations will in all likelihood hold raucous (and sometimes violent) demos outside restaurants, howling about fish jihad or some such rubbish. Charming ghar wapsi ceremonies may even be organised by paan-chewing, spittle-hurling Sanghis at airports and seaports. This is bound to set off fiery debates in Parliament and on hysterical news channels, so keep buttered popcorn handy. But, no, it doesn’t end here—because basa is not a Hindu fish!

The BJP’s event management company will churn out lovely slogans like ‘Basa ko Bas Bolo’ (do excuse my sorry attempt at slogan-writing—BJPwallahs are better at alliteration than I am), and their Poet Laureate may be called upon to write mournful poems about how cruel and wicked we are to neglect our local species of fish.

This is guaranteed to make the entire nation burst into tears and cause flash floods in February. Swarajya magazine (‘Read India Right’ is its tag-line, ahem) will write allegedly erudite articles on how secular leftie liberals are polluting India’s finest restaurants with foreign, unpatriotic fish. And it won’t end there either, because basa is not a Hindu fish. Action must be taken!

The icing on the cake will be provided by the team that creates fantastic myths for those silly but evidently popular Bal Narendra comics (hello, even US President Barack Obama read that story about iddle widdle Narendra wrestling crocodiles). Seeing that they’ve run out of ideas, how about one on how Bal Narendra singlehandedly thrashed restaurant-owners that served basa? Now I would enjoy that, I really would!

This story is from print issue of HardNews