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Thursday, June 16, 2011


“Do you realize what time is it “, bellowed her uncle from the door hands akimbo. Anamika glanced form the book she was holding, with a rather weary expression on her face and said weakly, but “Uncle I am just reading, it is an interesting book”.

 “Humph, what good is that going to do you anyways, I never had any use for books, despite that aren’t we having a good life”, Said her uncle striding towards her in a dominating and stern voice. He plucked the book from her hand and said, “Sleep now, you look so tired”. Anamika meekly obeyed.

Her uncle leaned forward and kissed her forehead, she felt his bristly moustache but as always his touch was smooth. With the book in hand, he made it to the door for switching off the lights. He hesitated slightly but finally gave in and kept the book softly on her table. Anamika peered from the covers and gave a smile before disappearing in again.

Anamika was a twenty year old, living in a huge joint family in Chennai. Anamika had the best of comforts in life and she had attended one of the leading colleges in Chennai, a rarity in her family and needless to say something for which she was thankful. Now that she had passed out, she wanted to study ahead for a specialization. She had put in the word to her mother, and the response had not been very encouraging. However her mother had promised to talk to her dad and uncle and this frightened her. Her uncle was a stern man having rigid views on many things especially when it came to family issues. However, he was fiercely protective of all the members and very committed to the business. Anamika had no doubt in his affection but sometimes she detested his iron hand.

She made it to the B-School at last.

The first day there was an induction going on, with various professors coming and sharing their contributions in the times to come. It was becoming a bit boring as professor after professor came in and started lecturing about what his subject could do and what was the scope, in essence making a pitch for a good number of candidates for his course.

I don’t know why but they even had the librarian come over and give introductory talks. Whether it was an exercise in futility or an attempt to appease the ego of the guy, it was plain stupid to expect a bunch of above average students to listen to the nuances of searching a book using the electronic system. It was just after lunch time and heads were lolling around with a rather heavy and delicious meal by hostel standards. And I daresay, the chubby, Shorty had a very nice monotone to his lecture which acted as very sleep inducing.

Then suddenly without warning he stopped, thanked and said it was time for a tea break. I glanced at the watch; it was nearing a quarter past three. As he made his way out of the lecture hall, I heaved a sigh and stretched my arms. Pop crack went my stiff joints, and I got some stares from my neighbors, which I returned with an apologetic smile.

Making my way out of the hall, I saw ad hoc groups forming and chatting up. As I was walking down the stairs I came alongside Anamika for the first time. I greeted her and we began conversing. She struck me as a timid person and no doubt someone from a very conservative background. I was to realize later how conservative she was during the way back to the final session when I asked her for her contact number.

She stared at me as if it was the ultimate sin, and then replied “No, I cannot”.

I was taken aback; it wasn’t as if I had asked her out for a movie or a meal. Seeing my curious stare and interpreting it as a sign of being insulted, she replied back, “I am so sorry, you see it is my parents and uncle; they sometimes check my cell and if there are any boy’s numbers then there is a lot of explaining to do”.

I was surprised, as so much that I started laughing. “Not a problem; I don’t want anyone to get into trouble because of me “, and brushed way any further talks on the subject.

One day it was pretty deserted in the campus, it being a Sunday was partly responsible. I was getting quite bored, and decided to venture down to get some munches and while away on some videos You Tube and its sister concerns.

As I came down, I saw Anamika working on the laptop. Many times we had to work on Sundays as well so it was not put of the ordinary for day scholars to come up to the campus. But the mess hall was deserted, and even the helpers were not around. I got curious as to what she could be working on, but I did not want to just barge on to her. Suddenly without warning she got up and began walking out.

The stride of hers was one of determination, as if she was looking forward to something.

“Had I missed out someone’s birthday?” I thought wearily. Females have a very marked penchant for celebrating the expulsion from a birth canal, and hold a lot for timing in delivering the wishes. I am bad, pretty bad at remembering dates I just pick up the phone and call someone I miss, and I guess I do it with random frequency.

No, No otherwise I could see other girlie gangs as well.

Now I will digress. A couple of day’s back we found some cat had a brood of kittens, in the campus. Most had been disposed off by the administration but a couple had found their way back, courtesy the many kind souls who took to feeding the regularly.

She made it to the backside of the mess, where somebody had fashioned a rudimentary shelter for it. Making encouraging noises, Anamika lured the kitten out and it came out pawing its tiny feet. A biscuit morsel, materialized magically in Anamika hand and she started swaying it and the kitten’s eyes followed it, hypnotically. She kept it tantalizingly close to reach, and just jerked it away as the kitten made it.

This went on for some time, I was wondering what she is up to. Either give it or leave it, why are you badgering the poor thing I wanted to blast her off. A petite hand sneaked slowly towards the kitten, while the other one continued its biscuit game. The kitten engrossed as it was did not see it approaching.

A jerk and she clasped the kittens, leg and in return received a swipe from its claws. Anamika paid no heed to the tiny drops of blood which blossomed in her hand. Inhumanly she pulled the kitten dragging it by its feet.

Dragging it towards the parking lot of two wheelers, she gave it one look of triumph. Then she kneeled down lovingly took the paw in both her hands. Making encouraging and soothing noises…….she snapped it into two.

Crack!! Like the crunch of dry twig under ones feet.

The mews were piteous, but she had a maniacal smile on her face. Freeing the kitten she stood up and the poor thing tried limping away, but the paw was snapped into two separate pieces. She looked at the biscuit morsel in her hand and threw it down. The kitten made no effort to reach it.

The moment passed, the devil vanished from her face and the saint returned. She started running towards the hostel. Well, out of sight I watched as she got a couple of people from their rooms.

“A bike dragged the poor thing, and I guess ran over it too. It seems the leg is broken. I tried giving it a biscuit but nothing happened.”

I am so sorry!! , she said nearly in tears.

Damm it!!

A couple of kind souls, who had taken the kitten, took to pacifying her and the kitten in equal measure. Slowly and weighed down by guilt she cut a sorry figure back to campus.

I made myself scarce from the swelling crowd there. I was shaken by what I just saw. She is dangerous, very dangerous and I was scared of her. But I knew nobody would believe if I told them what just happened.

Nobody, cause I wouldn’t …if someone had told me.

Back in my room, as I was scribbling this down, there was a timid knock. The hairs on the back of my knuckles tingled; the knock was the very sorry type of knock.

In peered her face, “I am so sorry to disturb you, but can I come in for a minute”

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pulling a Fast One

It has been some time since I have expressed views on something other than emotions, life and relationships. However, today I try my hand at the latest sensation sweeping the nation.

That of pulling a fast one......... :):)

Consider the given two descriptions.

A small time farmer, a retired army truck driver……………..Someone who spent the better part of his life ridding a village of liquor menace and getting it to stand on its proverbial feet. Someone who does not have a bank account, owns perhaps one suitcase full of khadi, and sleeps at well wishers places.

Now look at someone who is a self appointed guru of Indian culture. All worries can be solved by simply breathing with thought. Knowledge notwithstanding, he can dispense off opinion on anything from economy to cancer. Who spearheads an empire turning close to 1000 crore annually and has a villa in Sweden courtesy faithful followers.

Of course I am talking about Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev respectively.

I am just trying to step into baba’s shoes for some time. A shrewd businessman, a Yadav by birth, he had everything going great, a nice business, good number of followers, and the basis of a political formation. Sometime back even I revered him for propagating the ancient Hindu way of living. Then all of a sudden he became predictable, he started talking politics. He realized just yoga cannot spearhead the business for long, you need policy as well. He picked up the oldest horse to run his political rhetoric on, corruption and black money.

His happy run was interrupted by Anna who came out of nowhere and sat on a hunger strike against corruption. His timing was perfect, rocked by scams, India Inc and India youth were desperately looking for some trust and respect to be bestowed on someone who wasn’t the ritual orange clad ascetic. This Gandhian kindled the same emotion as the real MK, courtesy age and impeccable credentials. His consequent success earned him the respect and power for which he believed and lived for. Anna became a thorn to Ramdev, which was pretty much evident by his displeasure at the appointment of father son duo for heading the Lokpal bill. Parry and counter parry went one, sometimes in front of the curtains and sometimes at the back (just guessing!).

Finally Baba decided to show Anna …that mine is bigger than yours!

So now a subset of corruption was picked up a.k.a black money. While Anna’s fast was the consequence of series of well planed but failed steps Baba is all smoke and mirrors. Anna had written to the government for the Lokpal bill, suggested a team a plan and a methodology for its implementation. Anna had done his homework well, he had a bureaucrat Kiran Bedi and a saffron counterpart (swami Agnivesh), on his team. Working together they had tried other bureaucratic routes before turning on to a strike. 

Baba on the other hand has done nothing apart from rhetoric. Does he have a plan of getting the money back, no. Is he aware about the working of global economics and finance, I doubt?Does he have a team that could bring this is a lone warrior.

Even I want to get Swiss Bank loot of India back here but I am neither a veteran economist, nor a politician and I really don’t think a juvenile thought of banning higher denomination currencies will even scratch the surface of the problem.

A half naked orange clad god man fasting in India is not going to stir any diplomatic routes or generate hysteria that could be milked for India’s benefit. Au contraire the bending of the Indian government (4 senior government official to placate one man in the airport?!!!!) to a single man appeasement is going to send a wrong signal as a weak nation.

Before the strike nobody knew Anna and that was his key success factor. I read about Anna after news screens splashed him all over and I could read nothing but good.Baba however has his shares of good and bad.

So what exactly does Ramdev intend through his fasting?

Judging by the preparation for his elaborate setup it seems partly to be an exercise in showing political might. Ramdev is not going to sit on strike for one day and call it off. Government can get the crores back in India in the blink of an eye certainly not before lack of food does damage to Ramdev.

  1. Middle Ground - A middle ground perhaps then? This time we could maybe get one bill, a law, or something that could outshine Lokpal. It is going to be a tough one as the Lokpal has an admirable history of repeated failure that has kind of added on to its delayed partial success.
  2. Leave me Alone-The other one could some kind of understanding, of leaving Baba’s empire untouched and letting him build his might in peace. Remember Brinda Karat and bones in medicines, a failed attempt to nip a rising competitor in the bud. But this seems a long shot. If Ramdev is left alone then from Haridwar he can come to New Delhi pretty soon. And leaving religious leaders alone is scarily reminiscent of operation Bluestar and our Khalsa Sant Singh Bhindranwale
  3. Share the Success - The last one. Share the limelight, adding a clause in existing Lokpal bill tabulation that could have a little something on black money? This way Ramdev and Anna can be on the same team yet be used on and off against or for each other.
My predictive powers are limited I will wait and watch, but the last one seems plausible. However a gut feeling says that this could be over fast and have a surprise element in it…..

PS- I am neither a believer nor a supporter of either Anna Hazare or Ramdev, I am too narcissist and selfish. I am just offering a perspective that seems to be logical!