If it were not so tragic, the excuse made by the captain of the capsized liner Costa Concordia, Fra-ncesco Schettino, will go down as a great classic. When the captain of the coast guard which was undertaking rescue operations got in touch with him, he found the captain was bobbing alongside the sinking liner in a lifeboat. On being berated, Mr Schettino claimed that as the fatally damaged ship tilted, he tripped and fell miraculously into a lifeboat from where he was coordinating rescue operations. And with it came the sobriquet Captain Coward.
Though on a vastly reduced scale, let us face it, none of us are above making excuses to save our hides. One of our leading netas, Sukhram, on being caught with a vast amount of money under his mattress claimed he did not know how it got there. A famous one from witnesses to crimes here is that though they happen to be standing at the scene, they developed a mysterious inab-ility to have seen anything at all. Our Bollywooders, as Oprah Win-frey recently called, invariably make the excuse that they have no idea how their rivals are doing because they don't follow anything in the media. We, being the in media, know that this is not quite the truth. And, of course, Team Anna is totally sure that the many odd pronouncements which emanate from Ralegan Siddhi do not come from Anna himself but the despicable media. We aren't leaving ourselves out. While we are having a jolly old time malingering outside the office, we will invariably say that we are in a meeting of such importance that it could have a bearing on national security. Or while we are mooching about doing nothing in the office, we will write to friends on the mail about how overworked we are.
But, of course, when lives are lost as in the Costa Concordia, for the captain to be floating around and lying is inexcusable. Imagine how the Titanic would have ended if the captain had leapt into a lifeboat and conducted rescue operations from the waters. But Mr Schettino's bizarre excuse sure does rival that famous one: 'the dog ate my homework.'