Thursday, July 29, 2010

Grim Fairy Tales

By Rupa Gulab
(Published in Bengal Post, 27th July 2010)

As I write this, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has landed in Pakistan, and this image of Little Red Riding Hood just popped into my head. There goes Hillary innocently tripping through terrorist-ridden terrain with a basket packed with goodies for an ailing country. Of course, just like in the original fairytale, the ailing country won’t get the goodies – it will be intercepted by Pakistan’s ISI who do an Oscar-worthy impersonation of the big bad wolf (way better than Robert De Niro possibly can). Hillary still hasn’t arrived at the suspicious, “Grandma what sharp teeth you have,” stage. We have to wait and see if she eventually figures out who she’s really dealing with. Tell me again, why do so many Indians want to study in America? Americans are not that smart, see?

Well, that got me thinking about how a lot of our politicians are like characters in children’s stories as well. Here’s a list of a few:

The Sleeping Beauty: Nobody plays this as soulfully as Trinamool Congress Leader Mamata Banerjee. There have been 7 gruesome railway accidents since she took over as Union Railway Minister last May. Sadly, whenever the noise of a crash disturbs her sleep, she sleepily mumbles something incoherent about sabotage and goes right back to the Land of Nod. To be fair, maybe she’s just muttering ‘collision’ and cynics like me hear it as ‘collusion’? What is most endearing about her is that the poor dear can’t even stay awake long enough to make a grand gesture: offer to resign from her post. Perhaps it’s time for someone to wake her up with coffee? Anyone brave enough to give her a kiss? Ah, go on – do it for the country!

Cinderella: Once upon a time there was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed little girl called Mayawati who met Kanshi Ram, a people’s prince. He invited her to his party, and she’s been having a ball ever since! We don’t know if she carelessly left one of her shoes behind when the clock struck midnight, but fortunately, Kanshi Ram was even more chivalrous than the prince in the fairytale: he gallantly asked her to step into his shoes. The UP chief minister lives happily ever after and possibly owns more diamonds than the Queen of England. She’s become a trend-setter as well and wears garlands made of rupee notes when she goes to parties – so much more stylish than Armani, wouldn’t you agree? Now if only the people she represents were living happily ever after too, her story could have been as magical as a fairy tale.

Little Lord Fauntleroy: This has just got to be Shashi Tharoor! Affected, mildly pompous, privileged, a natty dresser, and ever so charming. Okay, so he doesn’t have divine ringlets, but his hair looks pretty good too! If ever I get to interview him, the first question I’m probably going to eagerly ask (in the interests of the nation, of course) is, “What shampoo and conditioner do you use?” Don’t you just love the way his glossy hair bounces and gleams, just like in a shampoo ad? The man has never had a bad hair day – heck, not even when he was politely induced to resign over somewhat shady IPL deals. Bring him back Mr. Manmohan Singh, please bring him back – he’s such a joy to look at – so much more attractive than the Bollywood actresses in Parliament!

The Prince and the Pauper: Rahul Gandhi in a classic Bollywood double-role, of course. While desperate apple-polishers in his party project him as the future king, and jealous opposition parties who are stuck with his grumpy, non-dimpled cousin sneer that of course he will be king, dynasty politics and all that mutter mutter, our hero appears to have different plans for himself. For starters, he would rather play the pauper and stay in village huts rather than the posh 5-star hotels most politicians prefer. Well, well – this has started out as a rather interesting story and I hope it has a happy ending for the nation.

Robin Hood: Ha ha, bet you thought I was foolishly going to say the Left parties, right? Sorry, but as we all know, there are no Robin Hood clones in our country. All our politicians are very democratic - they steal from both the rich and the poor. Some like RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav have even stolen fodder from cattle. Bah!

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