Friday, 19 August 2011

Anna Hazare & being a damp squib




Let me begin with a honest confession (not to be confused with signed confessions given at police stations and retracted twenty years later when your case comes up for hearing).

I am a pessimist. That is, where an optimist sees a blue sky, I see a dry spell and receding ground water tables. The sky is half-full for me, always.

I am also aware, painfully so, that anything negative said or written about Anna Hazare today will have those who support his crusade (I am not sure if that’s the right word because the one crusade I remember from history was rather bigoted and violent), up in arms against those saying/writing it. I am just pinning my hope on the fact that Anna is hailed as the Modern Gandhi (actually Post-modern Gandhi because the Modern Gandhi position has been taken up by Munnabhai. Trivial aside: If Munna is Gandhi, does it make Circuit, Nehru?), and his supporters will stick to the path of non-violence and desist from breaking any bones.

So here goes, with a deep breath, prayer to non-violence and a salute to pessimism.

Lokpal – The very concept is a joke, pal.

I am not a lawyer nor am I a constitutional guru, but correct me if I am wrong, in theory in this country nobody is above law. (This of course presumes there is only one missionary position and the law can’t be f*d from below.) Of course, you can’t drag an elected representative to court but you can sack him or her first and then do the needful. But I could be wrong.

To go on a tangent to prove a point, take the wonderful skywalks built all around Mumbai. They are built for commuters who are forced to risk their lives in the chaos of traffic outside each railway station. But what’s the reason for chaos? No footpaths to walk on. Why? The hawkers have occupied it illegally. The roads are dangerous because the auto rickshaws are parked or cruising indiscriminately and private cars are double-parked illegally too. So what’s the solution? Skywalk. And not kicking encroachments out, or kicking the butts of auto and car drivers. The skywalk is like putting a cushioned toilet seat to cure loose motions – it relieves the sore cheeks but the motions continue.

We have a constitution, the Indian Penal Code, a judiciary, police, anti-corruption bureau, CBI (known in certain circles as Congress Bureau of Intimidation), various committees to probe (not solve), various crimes, economic offences wing, RAW (the name says it all), and god knows how many offshoots that are all supposed to prevent crime, corruption and obscene dances by adults and enforce law and order and pub closure times.

To me the Lokpal is a skywalk in disguise. Or a cushioned toilet seat, if you prefer that kind of humour. We want a Lokpal because none of the above works.

The current Anna Hazare movement is for a strong and powerful Lokpal. One whose purview (defined as the noise made by cat who likes the view), includes the Prime Minister of India. Let’s say we get that. Then what? Even a kid who is not old enough to wipe his own snot (butt if you prefer), knows the Prime Minister of India is a designation and not a role. A puppet whose strings are tied to the aprons of a dynasty (defined as nasty people who don’t die), which, even in the face of an all-powerful Lokpal will say, “Take the PM, kiss my snot; we will find another PM (short form of Puppet Minister).”

Then again, think some more and ask, “Who will appoint the Lokpal?” The same nasty bunch! It’s like having the world’s number one test cricket team with limping players.

Now, for a moment let’s suspend disbelief, and imagine that Anna Hazare’s movement succeeds in toppling the current government. The Loksabha is dissolved and we have general elections. Who forms the next government? The opposition? Do we have one? So we are back to square one – The Dynasty (Motto: Power is my right. Emergency is my heritage.).

I was there my friends, when we all marched to Gateway of India to light candles and protest 26/11. What a movement it was. What a moment it was. The educated youth was there. The rich SoBoites were there. Ministers got sacked. The city got its own commando force. The police got armoured vehicles and amphibian boats to patrol the roads and sea. Railway stations got metal detectors. Then, we got elections and the usual voter turnout and the same government.

Then, on 13/7/2011, we got three bomb blasts.

But what to do, I am a pessimist. A damp squib. Sorry Anna Hazare. I would have appreciated your fast had I not been eternally hungry. For a little grain of hope.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Woman versus Man



Ah, that’s an old trick up there in the title - Grab the readers’, no, not what you are thinking old boy. Grab the readers’ attention with the promise of a little controversy and then let them down. Blame it on my advertising past where grabbing readers by the balls of their eyes is a highly prized skill and letting them down is standard practice.

The client thumps the table and declares, “Give us ads that get maximum eye balls!”

The agency thumps its chest and declares, “Yes sir!” and mutters to itself at the same time, ‘For that you need to have balls!’

So, if the title has had you rubbing your, no, not that again ol’ girl, rubbing your hands in anticipation of bio-theo-psycho-socio-logical insights into the great man-woman phenomenon, go away! Visit a library!

Now that we have gotten rid of cheap thrill-seeking and serious debate-seeking readers, time to get down to the business of this piece:

We are going to take women in social situations (you still here? Go away, there is no pun on ‘take’), and compare them with men.

As always, this piece is not original; it is based on a few observations and that’s it. I am sure similar observations have been made by teams of psycho/sociologists funded by universities with impressive seals and mottos in Latin that mean, ‘Making nonsense credible since 1582,’ and, depending on the source of funding, who publish papers that give scientific reasons why coffee is good or bad for you.

So here are some non-funded, non-original observations.

1. A woman walks into a room:

All men check her out, most of them surreptiously.

All women check her out openly.

Men don't notice what she is wearing. In fact the gifted ones try to imagine her without what she is wearing while the others try putting her face on certain pictures or videos they have seen on the net.

Women make a note of everything - from toe nail colour to hair colour - and try to figure out if they are original, fake or bought in a sale.

Getting no look in return, men go back to doing what they were doing.

Women decide that what she is wearing will look better on them and add a few things to their shopping list and also visit the parlour while they are at it.

1A. A man walks into a room:

Big deal. Shit happens. Or rather, nothing happens. Unless he has MONEY written all over his forehead. Or if there is a woman with him. Then we are back to situation one.

2. A woman gets up, says ‘bye’ to her group of women friends and leaves the room.

The women left behind do not continue their conversation. They wait until she is out of earshot. Then they start talking, about her.

“Did you notice? She has worn the same dress the last time we met!”

“She shouldn’t be wearing such dresses at all – makes her look fatter!”

“Hasn’t she been going to the gym for over two months now?”

“If I had a personal trainer like hers, I would go too!”

“Giggles.”

“I heard…”

“It’s true!”

“Really?!”

“What world do you live in?”

2A. A man gets up, says ‘bye’ to his group of men friends and leaves the room.

He has barely left the table when the men start talking.

“He doesn’t show it, but he lost quite bit on the market last week.”

“Dude, it’s the time to sell. Now! I made quite a packet yesterday.”

“What are you saying? Do you think I should too?”

“Damn! Watch the football guys – he just missed the goal by a whisker!”

Sorry, have to stop writing now. I have to channel my imagination elsewhere. A woman just walked into the room.