We've officially entered the silly season so I can (temporarily) drop the act of being a semi-serious journalist who's careful to write on issues such as the downsides of a direct cash transfer policy one week and on subjects such as edible books (the next big thing in publishing, I'm told) the next week. Truth be told, with December firmly on us, the prospects of me stepping out of strictly convivial zones to pursue any fact-finding or opinion-forming mission are perilously low. Zero, actually.
So here's a list I've been mind-munching on while folks here have been under the impression that I have been staring at the ceiling for the last six days - 6 things that make you feel warm and fuzzy about being an Indian:
1. Good innerwear: It's a fact that despite colonialism making imported value-addition in the apparel industry super-trendy - the whole thing about desi cotton being sent across to Manchester and being sent back as clothes with a massive mark-up - we make affordable and warm (not to mention fuzzy) inner clothing. No matter what your brand is, it's still unlikely to be Chinese or Bangladeshi. What hinders our growth as a global underwear power, though, is the post-imperialist lie that boxers are not the same thing as shorts. Big Apparel points to the lack of buttons or zippers on boxer fronts making them underwear. But they're just making a flap out of nothing! We need to show the world that boxers are to be worn outside.
2. Choice: With our innate advantage of sheer numbers - of TV channels, opinions, Ambanis and people - one thing we don't lack is choice. Britain seems to have passed the period when its people were tearing their hair out while dealing with the concept of a coalition government, that intricate combo of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats. America, where they can't pronounce 'zed' at all or 'route' properly, has its first non-White president but still can't get its head out of the two-party box. We don't have such constrictions. If we have to get Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (slogan: 'Pehley AAP') to power, all we have to do is vote for the BSP so that it can get support from the CPI(M), the CPI, the RJD, which in turn will get the Trinamool Congress and the AIADMK to join the alliance along with the JD(U) and the BJD, thereby making Nitish Kumar the prime minister. You say that Lalu Yadav won't join a coalition with Nitish as PM? Rubbish! He'll have to in order to keep 'communal forces' at bay.
3. Comeback Chances: No country gives washed-out people 'another chance' the way India does. The equivalent of a 49-year-old Sridevi returning with a hit in English Vinglish in Hollywood would be the return of the 54-year-old Sharon Stone in a non-animation movie. (No, the 2006 sequel Basic Instinct 2 not only doesn't count, but has cost Stone 20 extra years of leading lady exile.) We also have Sourav Ganguly who still believes in second comebacks - third, actually, if you count his return as skipper of the Pune Warriors in the IPL. And where else in the world can anyone make repeated stealth comebacks like Rahul Gandhi's? They don't even look like comebacks because they're conducted so smoothly.
4. Protection for victims and perpetrators: Even as crimes are committed with an alarming lack of concern for legal consequences, your chances of being hauled up are so low, especially if you have the right friends, that not 'testing the law' would be a dereliction of your duty as a citizen. Evidence, if gathered, transforms into something else; witnesses who saw pigs flying one day can be made to realise the next day that pigs are terrestrially-bound mammals, silly! And victims also have protection. Any group of more than two can start shouting about sensibilities being hurt and the law will ensure that the source of irritation or - as Section 66A of the Information Technology Act has it - "any information [transmitted by a computer or a communication device] that is grossly offensive or has menacing character... causing annoyance, inconvenience..." will be dealt with.
5. Racial Insurance: By being Indian, no one (not even Indians) can accuse any Indian of being racist. So if there's an Indian who has been accused of a crime abroad, he's obviously being 'victimised'. Also, if there's a man anywhere in the world - Australian universities, American airports - who has been punched for pinching another man's wife's bum, it's a racial attack. As a nation, we will stand up as one against such ugly, filthy, anachronistic bigotry.
6. Reading the Best Paper in the world: With the charm and wit, not to mention the glow, the paper you hold in your paws exudes, feeling warm and fuzzy is not a luxury in India but a right (with a nominal Rs. 5 price tag). Where else in the world will you get such delightful classifieds, ads and notices but in the print edition of Hindustan Times, eh?