Thursday, November 25, 2010

All cleaned up for Diwali

Rupa Gulab
(Published in Bengal Post, 9th Nov 2010)

As I write this, Mumbai is gearing up for Diwali like never before. We’re expecting two very important guests this year: our all-time favourite Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth, and Barack Obama, the President of the USA as well. Security is going to be tight with many annoying restrictions in place and people who live in the area around the Taj hotel (where Obama is staying) are particularly bitter. So many fattening mithais to eat and nowhere to walk them off! We’re hoping that all the president’s men do not prevent Laxmi from entering our freshly spruced up homes. And while on the subject of cleanliness, the state government claims that it’s going flat out to clean up the city. Sadly, the only clean up we can see is of the city’s coffers.

Mumbaikars are bristling with rage at the Adarsh Housing Society scam where a bunch of greedy politicians, bureaucrats and (golly gosh) defence personnel in Mumbai joined hands to snatch homes from Kargil war widows. A number of interesting observations have emerged from this:

1. Suresh Kalmadi, President of the Commonwealth Games organising committee, has started smiling widely again. He is not alone in his ignominy, hallelujah. Overcharging for toilet paper is not as big an offence as stealing from war widows, see? His future in the Congress party may well be secure again.

2. Ashok Chavan, prime suspect in the Adarsh scam and Maharashtra chief minister, raised a very important point when he was accused of nepotism for allotting a flat to his mother-in-law. He grimly stated through gritted teeth that his mother-in-law was not a part of his family, how dare anyone even suggest it! For the first time since the scam was exposed, he looked more outraged and offended than TV reporters who were interviewing him. Not surprisingly, he has endeared himself to innumerable men with insufferable mothers-in-law.

3. If you believe in numerology, pay attention to this: never consult Ashok Chavan’s personal numerologist. The chap urged Chavan to add the word ‘Rao’ to his name to improve the quality of his life. Accordingly, a shiny new name plate was attached to his front door. A few days later, the Adarsh scam was exposed. To be scrupulously fair, perhaps the numerologist was not to blame – there’s always the possibility that Chavan mistakenly spelt the word ‘rao’ as ‘row’.

4. This scam brought home the fact that bureaucrats would make excellent waiters. They’re so used to the larger part of their income coming from lavish tips. Besides, they’re so well-educated I’m sure they can pronounce the names of French dishes like Coq au Vin and Ratatouille without stumbling.

5. The retired defence chaps who were interviewed on TV sounded truly devastated that the army had a few rotten eggs. I don’t know about you, but I found their reaction astonishing. Come on, had they not heard of the Kargil body bag scam or the more recent Sukhna shocker?

6. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram may learn something vitally important from this: perhaps the best way to defeat Maoists is not to arrest them but to arrest his own party members who steal from widows, the helpless and the homeless, and as a result turn sane people into insane Maoist sympathisers.

7. And, just in case the Congress does eventually decide to send its guilty politicians to jail (ha ha, as if – despite the fact that we’re reminded every now and then that Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to corruption), I make one humble request: please, please, please build a state-of-the-art hospital in the jail they’re housed in too. Or else, strange flutters of the heart may occur and the party’s criminals will once again inconvenience citizens by occupying precious hospital beds throughout the duration of their sentence.

8. The BJP of course is over the moon with joy. With the Congress party in a scambolic state (CWG, telecom and now this), they are filled with the fond hope that the next general elections will bring them joy. I hate to rain on their parade, but let’s not forget that their mother ship (the RSS) is alleged to have terror links. So the next time you cast your vote, do consider this: would you prefer a party that snatches money or a party that snatches lives?

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