Sunday, May 15, 2011

Not gushing over Mamata Banerjee - not yet!

Not everyone in West Bengal is thrilled that Mamata Banerjee has emerged as the Red Dragon slayer. Some of us find her hugely annoying and pretty much worthless when you consider that she did sweet f-all as Union Railways Minister. However, I'm really really glad that the Left was humiliated, and I'm willing to keep my cynicism in check and give her a chance to prove my misgivings wrong. I re-read an article I'd written in 2007 for Hardnews post Nandigram, and felt a little better about Mamatadi thereafter. 2007 article pasted below:

The shocking Nandigram massacre triggered memories of Arindam (name changed), a dreamy-eyed member of the All Bengal Students Association (ABSA). Arindam and his gang burst into a terrifically boring lecture on Old English poetry and demanded 10 minutes. The professor wearily consented and Arindam took centre-stage in an officious manner. He informed us in thunderous tones that ABSA had not been responsible for the soda-bottle bombs a few days earlier and really, people should stop giving them a bad name because they were working for the people, see? His fiery speech woke me up; it was more riveting than the professor’s lacklustre recitation of Beowulf. Truth is, at that exact moment in time, I’d have even found Chairman Mao’s ‘Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend’ speech way more inspirational than ‘Grendel gongan, Godes yrre bær’ (yup, those are real Old English words, not gobbledegook). And my god, Arindam’s passion almost wiped the ‘Yeah, right!’ smirk off my face. Fascinated, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Mid-way through his oration, he caught my gaze and looked deep into my eyes. A cynic and an idealist had made a connection.

To the amusement of my filthy capitalist pig friends and the absolute horror of his red cronies, Arindam developed a crush on me. Sadly, it was a case of unrequited love. While I truly admired his passion for Lenin, I personally preferred Lennon, so it could never be. But we exchanged smiles and pleasantries when we chanced upon each other in college. The connection ended when he invited me out for a dirty weekend with the most original pick-up line I’ve heard yet: ‘Come with me to the village to educate the peasants.’ A soda-bottle bomb went off in my head when he said ‘educate the peasants’. Sorry, I don’t do brain-washes. I’m not that kind of girl.

Which brings me back to Nandigram. At the risk of annoying People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), I have to say this: I would have more respect for the CPM if they did elitist things like pheasant shooting instead of peasant shooting. Ironically, it took a Mamta Bannerji, a non-commie at that, to protect the people from the people’s party. For shame!

I’m no Luddite, but while Special Economic Zones (SEZs) may be great way to develop industry and accelerate India’s economic growth, they should not be implemented until the government comes up with a solid plan to minimise the inevitable human after-shocks. And an equally strong plan to drastically increase productivity in the leftover arable land. I’m terribly worried that with so much agricultural land going away, we’ll have nothing to eat! As a precautionary measure, I’ve decided to uproot my decorative potted ferns and replace them with wheat. And I guess I’ll have to germinate kidney beans on cotton wool like they taught us in junior biology class, for protein.

Till then, I think we should come up with other ways to develop the economy. After the success of the hurly-burly Arun-Liz wedding celebrations in Rajasthan, wedding tourism would be a good idea. We can even create a special package for Big Brother contestant Jade Goody in an honest to goodness slum, she really deserves it. Sure, an influx of wedding tourists may cause traffic jams and odd protests from the odd person or two, but I’m fairly certain that no human being will be harmed in the process. I’m not too sure about the pheasants though; I leave it to animal rights groups to save them from the big fat Indian wedding tandoor.

Marriage means worrying about the person who gets left behind

Every so often, Dad calls to reassure himself that we will look after Mum when he goes to that creepy place in the sky. And every so often, Mum calls as well to make sure that Dad will be taken care of when she goes to that creepy place in the sky - we have even been given the names of his vitamins. Erm, in all fairness, Dad has absolutely no clue what vitamins Mum takes, so we cannot foolishly assume that he loves her less.

And I worry about Beloved Husband too. Hope he still has a sense of humour - enough to charm some woman into living with him who lovingly ensures that he takes his tablets and scrubs his piggy filthy feet before he goes to bed after I join my cadaverous ancestors. Which could be as soon as tomorrow (she said in a gloomy voice). Have been listening to Pink Floyd in a fit of teen nostalgia and I know for sure that I'm "Shorter of breath and one day closer to death." Also that "One day you'll find, ten years have got behind you, no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun" - or some such deep shit about the meaninglessness of life. All this has hit home a little harder because a friend's wife has been rushed for a brain tumour surgery and he's a gabbling mess.

Fortunately, I played The Who soon after, and am feeling decidedly exuberant (they always make me feel upbeat about life).

Monday, May 2, 2011

Recent Prozac moments across the world

Tunisia and Egypt sent dictators packing. India won the cricket world cup. The UK celebrated a royal wedding - and for a change both the bride and the groom weren't hideously ugly. And today the US announced the death of Osama bin Laden in a secret operation. All terrific flag-waving, national anthem-singing, beer-guzzling moments.

I don't think anyone in India was remotely astonished that Osama bin Laden wasn't found in a dark dank cave doodling mountain goats on the walls to alleviate over 9 years of boredom. We KNEW he'd be living in the lap of luxury in Pakistan, possibly in the ISI chief's guest bedroom getting foot massages daily. We weren't far wrong were we, considering that he was discovered in a posh neighbourhood with retired Pakistan army generals as neighbours. Personally, I don't believe that those retired generals were blind.

So Pakistan can holler as much as they want about their being part of the Kill Osama operation. Like hell Indians believe them. My theories:

a)Pakistan is shrieking that they were part of this operation as a face saving measure.

b) Pakistan was desperate for even more dollars. Perhaps the ISI chief's children/grand children need to study in the US? The fees are shockingly stupendous.

c) Osama died a natural death, so the greedy things handed his now useless dead body over for cash.

d) He's alive and still getting foot massages in the ISI chief's guest bedroom - possibly wolfing down biryani and kebabs as well to celebrate his 'death'. The entire operation was staged. Hey, the US needed to do something to gracefully exit Afghanistan and make its citizens feel happy. Or else explain the secret burial at sea! But we'll never know, will we? Wikileaks can't tell us anything about it because US diplomats have become a little more cautious about how they exchange information with each other these days.

Oh well. US President Obama can graciously say that it wouldn't have been possible without Pakistan's co-operation for all I care. He HAS to, because he still needs their help. He can fool practically everyone in the world into believing that the worm has turned. Except Indians. Heck, even if it's true, we wouldn't, couldn't believe it. We understand Pakistan better than America can.

And now I'm feeling very very very sorry for all those virgins in paradise. Osama was not exactly a hottie.