Quest and desire to be recognised as a VIP is deeply ingrained in our psyche. Those who achieve it with their position and status obviously flout it with impunity. Others devise ways and means to get a tag. The administration and media at times, to boost revenue, encourage the malaise.
An acquaintance, a member of the latter club, is always proactive in sharing his mobile number with people. “Mein missed call deta hun aap save kar lena,” arre bhai, why not! His cell number ends with 00001!! Incidentally his high-end car also bears a similar registration number.
The other day, we were travelling to an event. This self-anointed VIP, familiar with the way around, was leading the two vehicle cavalcade. I was following him blindly and did not notice the traffic light turning red. And, pronto the traffic cop signaled me to stop. I accepted the mistake and requested pardon. Nothing doing was the reply. Just then my guide and friend made a u-turn and came to my rescue. “Arre bhai, yeh hamare saath hain”, pointing to the registration plate at the front fender of his Audi. One look and the demeanour of the law guardian transformed, who gave us a beaming smile and with all courtesy at his command requested us to carry on.
Once at the venue, I thanked my saviour. “Colonel saab, VIP number de paise poorey ho gaye (Spending money to get the VIP number was worth it)”, he proudly acknowledged. I was later informed that the magic number, loosely termed as a VIP number was purchased by the gentleman for half the cost of his luxury car.
A round of golf at the Chandigarh Golf Club is a challenge on the weekends. The manifold increase in footfall leads to hold ups and a normal 4h round usually gets delayed by an hour. This eventful Saturday, we were bracing up for our third shot at the seventh, the longest on the course, when we noticed a huge gathering on the ninth tee. We had no choice, but to wait since the golfers teeing off from the ninth have a right of way. Concerned with this massive rush on the tee box, my partner, the chip of the old block, remarked, “Koi locha lagta hai? (meaning a brawl between two intolerant groups)”. The other, a chirpy fellow, said, “Koi film di shooting ho rahi hai”. The delay was making us and the golfers, who were trailing us, edgy. Just than my caddy, a know all, revealed: “Administration ke koi bade afsar hain”. It was only after a fourth attempt before “bade saab” could hit the ball straight amidst loud claps from the accompanying delegation. The VIP then sped off on the golf cart towards his ball, followed by the marching contingent of pot-bellied “chamchas”.
The scene resembled that of a typical feudal setting. I approached the bespectacled, morose looking babu trailing behind the group and asked him if he was enjoying the walk. Bored, tired and disgruntled with the involuntary participation towards collective sycophancy, the non-suspecting babu replied, “Kya batayein, saab wants audience when he moves around. Hamaraa to woh haal hai, begaani shaadi mein Abdullah deewaana!!
(The writer is a former military officer)