Before I proceed any further in my award-winning convoluted and clunky style, I would like to expose a lie perpetrated by the insidious mainstream media, of which I am insidiously a part of. I tried to warn you about it last week. But it wasn’t the nexus of the Pakistani Army, the ISI and the group fondly known as the ‘Qaeda’ that gagged me from exposing the truth a mere day before you put on your silly party hats and got ready to welcome the ‘new year’. It was this paper’s advertisement department that was solely responsible for blanketing out my column last week in which I was going to expose the fact that the tobacco lobby, Vijay Mallya and Goa’s Russian mafia were forcing us to celebrate the arrival of a new year when actually January 1 was still far away.
Going through taped recordings of witnesses and following up on leads — that included a Russian Orthodox Churchman called Oleg who wishes to remain anonymous — I found out that somewhere between July and October 2007, weeks were siphoned off without any receipts. As you can see, it’s too late, now that all of you fell hook, line and Hamdard ka tonic Cinkara for the illusion of New Year’s Eve and its accessories. Not one media outlet (mainstream or erotic), not one NGO or GO, not one of the entities who go about under the nom de guerre ‘Arundhati Roy’ has questioned why December 31 came some three months early last week. No one wanted to look into how much money passed hands and who benefited. Where are you, Arun Shourie, when the nation needs you? It’s all very egg-plantish (dyed purple on the outside, white and wormy in the inside) to me.
But let baigans be baigans. Which automatically brings me to the Pravasi Bharatiyas who will descend on the capital for three whole divases starting tomorrow. I believe we dehatis have been told to celebrate their dropping by their Mother Country by speaking in Sanskritised Hindi for three days. Now, I have nothing against NRIs, PIOs or USB ports, but is it totally treacherous of me to prefer Lord Vader to Lord Desai, Shankar Mahadevan to Anoushka Shankar, Monty Python to Monty Panesar? In any case, it doesn’t matter what I think of our diasporic cousins. (I once erroneously thought my cousin from Doncaster to be gay when he asked me, “How deep do you sleep?”) The real reason why the NRI-PIO lot (that doesn’t include those living in Malaysia, the Gulf, Kenya or Kohima) descends here annually is that they want to take home books about the ‘New India’ so that they can reel off some gleamingful paras to their neighbours back in Boston or Leeds.
Apart from Gurcharan Das’s Amar Chitra Katha-meets-DC Comics-sounding title, India Unbound, there is, of course, Shashi Tharoor’s more recent The Elephant, the Tiger, the Cell Phone & My Sideburns. But nothing works for the Indian more than a firang writing about India. In Spite of the Gods by Ed Luce, for instance, has its critical moments (“...India continues to lack in practice — if not in principle — the basic condition of genuine citizenship.”) But those pages will be stapled together by Mr Patel living across Hampstead Heath, lest the Orient Express Hotels management uses those bits against the Tatas in a nasty race-laced attack.
As a gesture of goodwill, I suggest that our visiting diaspora pick up a copy of India Changes! (note the ‘!’ that will be used half a century later by the Ministry of Tourism) by The Manchester Guardian correspondent in India, Taya Zinkin. Published in 1958, this book lets us ‘remember’ how a previous generation predicted India’s future — the India in which we live today. Zinkin has some nifty observations to make: “Women in India have no need to fight for recognition; men are quite ready to make room for them”; “India is moving toward a single society in which it is much more important to be an Indian than to be a Brahmin or a Harijan”; “Diasporic Indians will come back to claim India when it’s a fully developed country”.
Ok, I made that last one up. Anyway, let me not skulk in my corner. I wish all of you, Adivasis and Pravasis, a very happy Diwali!