Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Following Twits

OUT OF MY HEAD
(Published in The Bengal Post, 1st February 2011)

When I read in the newspapers that senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj was on Twitter, I couldn’t stop myself from gasping, “There goes the neighbourhood!” And I’m ashamed to confess that barely a second later, I logged on to the internet and became her follower. See, I’ve been an ardent fan of Ms Swaraj ever since she was Union Health Minister during the NDA regime. Her take on condoms in the fight against AIDS delighted me. The sweet old puritanical lady virtuously said who needs condoms when abstinence and fidelity is better? If the NDA had stayed in power longer, I’m certain she’d have graciously handed out free chastity belts to every Indian citizen with a charming Princess Diana smile.

Anyway, now that I’m a follower, I do not have to read the comics section in the papers everyday for a giggle. Swaraj’s tweets on the BJPs needless Tiranga Yatra drama had me in splits. Particularly the indignant one she posted on Republic Day: “Is it not unfortunate that both Leaders of Opposition were in jail on Republic day?” Jail, my foot! We’re well aware that both Swaraj and Arun Jaitley were cosily secured in a hotel with access to room service, TV and possibly a wifi connection. Perhaps a swimming pool as well! Not exactly on the same level as Gandhiji’s austere jail stints during the freedom struggle. Oddly enough, Swaraj can’t tell the difference – the poor dear is not exactly bright, is she? Gosh, I do so enjoy foolish people – as long as they’re not in a position of power, of course.

Which is why I’m terribly distressed that the ruling scam-ridden Congress party has put us off, and the largest opposition party in India is tightly controlled by regressive, troublemaking Hindu fundamentalists. What hope is there for our future?

I fell into a troubled sleep last night and woke up screaming. I dreamt that beautiful, wonderful secular India had become a Hindu rashtra and fundamentalist crazies were heavily influencing government policies – just like they do in Pakistan. Most of the nightmare was hazy but I clearly remember being offered a tetrapack of cow’s urine instead of the usual orange juice by a smiling flight attendant on an aircraft. I also recall using the air-sickness bag immediately thereafter.

This got me thinking what if (god forbid) India really does become a Hindu rashtra? I’ve sketched out a brief scenario and I fear that Indian women will suffer the most:

1. Matrimonial ads for wannabe brides would change drastically – convent-educated would be a big no no. “Husband wanted for tall, fair, non-convent educated girl who can recite the Bhagwad Gita backwards if need be” would be the buzz phrase.

2. Indian women would most likely be size zero, because we’d be forced to fast for our current husbands or future husbands several days a week. Throw in walks to temples daily, frequent treks to steep hilly places like Vaishnav Devi, bending down to touch other peoples feet ever so often, and what’s the bet our abs would be as flat as ironing boards? Hey, all of us could easily take part in the bikini round of the Miss India beauty pagent! Sadly however, we probably won’t be allowed to wear bikinis. Or skinny jeans. Or skimpy lycra tops. Even worse, Sushma Swaraj would be India’s version of international supermodel Kate Moss.

3. The glam Page 3 sections of newspapers would feature modestly-clad socialites and Bollywood stars touching the feet of Sadhus or sipping room temperature cow urine in elegant champagne flutes. The more daring, of course, could wear skimpy strapless blouses and low slung sarees just like sultry heroines in Amar Chitra Katha comics.

4. Indian girls will not have cool international-sounding names like Anya, Tanya or Sanya anymore. Deep and meaningful names like Damayanti, Draupadi etc would be back in fashion.

5. Indian chick lit will not feature hilarious adventures of sassy single women in search of Mr. Right. The books will be collections of prayers to help find a good husband.

So what I’m saying is, please can a bunch of citizens across the nation get together and form another secular party? The job isn’t very demanding, you can have a criminal background – hey, that’s normal, you can earn lots of money under the table, and better still, India will remain reassuringly secular!