None of my friends gasped with righteous indignation (better known as a classic Arnab Goswami moment) when Yann Martel, author of Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi, said recently, “In some ways, India is a horrible place. It’s corrupt, violent; there are inequalities that are disturbing. At the same time, the place gave us Mahatma Gandhi. It’s a place of idealism and corruption.” We clucked and shook our heads sadly instead — come on, it’s hard to disagree with him, isn’t it? And that got me thinking about literature.
Angst in My Pants
I’m hugely glad that TMC chief Mamata Banerjee has parted ways with UPA 2 — though I must confess that I secretly believe they are the ones who eased her out of the alliance in their smooth ‘Ve haf our vays’ style! Theirs was a marriage made in hell, with Mamata Banerjee imperiously behaving as though she were prime minister of India instead of chief minister of West Bengal. I resent her for trying to foist her populist policies on the nation at large — hey, the rest of us didn’t vote for her, why should we be punished cruelly?
I must begin by congratulating all the fabulous Indians who shone at the Olympics. I have to throw in warm hugs for our two favourite women –Mary Kom and Saina Nehwal! Okay, so we didn’t do as wonderfully well as we had hoped we would, but on the brighter side, our sportspersons didn’t have to pay exorbitant excess baggage fees on their way back home. Also, we needn’t despair because India has so many people who are world-class at other more important things than sweaty sports. Take a look at just a few:
A few days before the Higgs boson aka God Particle experiment at CERN threw up exciting results and made the world cheer, I posted the following comment on Twitter: ‘Tsk, why are scientists looking for the God Particle in Switzerland? It’s here in India — ask any Indian mum who has a son.’
Before UPA II formally announced Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee as their presidential candidate, I was very worried. There was talk about producing not a cute rabbit but a dark horse out of a hat, and we know what happened the last time around: Pratibha Patil, for heaven’s sake! The only inspiration I’ve drawn from her is an idea for a book which I shall call Around the World on Taxpayers’ Money.
At the cinema today, I saw the trailer of a movie that made tears well up in my eyes. It wasn’t the footage of the movie that made me feel upset and weepy; it was merely the provocative title, which was Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. All of a sudden, I felt terribly envious of all the lovely freedoms that are available in the western world.
I’m beginning to feel really and truly sorry for India’s politicians. Thanks to social media, Indian citizens have been emboldened to say such deplorable things about them in public. The shrill ‘India against Corruption’ team took the anti-neta tirade several notches higher last year, despite the fact that many of the team leaders do not have spotlessly clean records themselves — heck, I’m absolutely certain that some of Team Anna’s holier-than-thou tribe will not go to heaven and play the harp for God when they die.
I always fall about laughing when dead serious talk of a 'Third Front' emerges. This time I did my hyena imitation to perfection as well, despite the dismal failure of our two national parties in the Uttar Pradesh and Punjab elections. The grim future outlined by our perennially hysterical TV anchors did not stop my smirks. And, unlike Congress, I didn't even flinch when UPA allies were invited to the swearing-in of the two chief ministers.
We're all agreed that scams have been hitting UPA-II where it hurts since last year. But Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee hit the ruling alliance even harder.
Going by recent events, 2012 is going to be one heck of a crazy year. I have not consulted a Chinese astrological calendar, but I feel in my gut that for India, this is the Year of the Joker. The Election Commission (EC) kicked it off by arbitrarily deciding that if 2011 was the year of exposures, 2012 would be the year of modest cover-ups. They ordered that all statues of Chief Minister Mayawati and her party symbols (life-sized elephants) be concealed before the UP elections.