An East Delhi Citizen's Blog

general riff about politics, education, media, society, cricket..

A midsummer night’s dream – Advani for President and others

In a move that surprised many, invited all knowing “I told you so” looks from Political Pundits Vinod Mehta and Shekhar Gupta alike and sparked off furious debates about what, who and how much.. Mr Lal Krishna Advani announced that he will be leading a yatra of RedLine Buses to Raisina Hill.

In a press conference called in the cool confines of the RedLine Bus doubling as his campaign office, Mr Advani talked of his anguish at the plight of the marginalised and dispossessed, who he said were crying for leadership. Explaining further, he said that he and his party were dispossessed of power for a long time; and to run salt into personal injury, he lost the presidentship of his party too- making him the natural leader of the dispossessed. Mr Advani also said, those of his venerable age, instead of being venerated are being marginalised. “The meek shall inherit the earth”, said Mr Advani, quoting from the Bible, which Manish Tewari was quick to dismiss as token minority-ism.

Mr Advani refused to answer whether this will launch his candidature for President of India. But, he did say that he will never say no to national duty.

As an immediate fallout, supporters of Messrs Modi, Jaitley, Jaswant Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Gadkari were seen hugging each other and distributing sweets.

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Meanwhile, in Scooping News TV, I heard this:

We have Netaji, Bapuji (also called Father of the Nation), Panditji.. etc. What about a Mother of the Nation status- to Mataji? And, Baby of the Nation to RahulG? It is reliably learnt, a bill to this effect should be introduced in the next session of Parliament. BJP will stall parliament. Congress will quote that as an example of obstructionist opposition that does not allow business to be conducted in the house. Arnab, Rajdeep, Sonia, Barkha will froth in the mouth and Vinod Sharma will snicker.

In another major move, dripping with religious symbolism, Congress will decide to rename Youth Congress as Vanar Sena; immediately drawing protests from BJP who will claim they have patents on Ram, Ramayana and all “Ram-ic” things. “This is patent vote bank politics”, Ravi Shankar Prasad will say, who will promise to enfranchise monkeys (above the age of 18) if BJP came to power.

SP supporters immediately went on a rampage- claiming Akhilesh Yadav’s claim to the title of Baby of the Nation was being ignored.

Lessons in plurality and tradition from gentlemen

Lesson 1: (Today)

Was dropping off my daughter to the school bus today morning and ran into the grandfather of her “bus-friend”- an elderly Sikh gentleman. We know each other well, he sometimes does the duty when his son is traveling.

So, tomorrow is Gurpurv? I asked him and he said, yes. Guru-purnima it is. But, followed it up with, “The actual reason is that it is Kartik Purnima, one of the two main Purnimas we celebrate- Guru-purnima is just appeasement of Sikhs.”

I hemmed and hawed; told him, why, at least in North India, we think Guru-Purnima is a big thing. He cut me short, very firmly.

“The trouble”, he said, is that “in the rush to associate some holiday or the other to all communities, the government has actually diluted tradition”. Sharad Purnima and Kartik Purnima have been celebrated in our traditions for centuries and across all religions and cultures. Now, the government is calling Kartik Purnima, Guru-purnima.

For some reason, this old man with flowing white beard who my daughter calls Santa Claus uncle, made my morning.

Lesson 2 (some time back)

There is this Muslim doctor family we know; from Kashmir of all places. The doctor couple are family friends. The father of the lady is an old-time FRCP, still lives in Kashmir and periodically lands up in Delhi.

We have the most fascinating discussions.

I am an atheist, he is not. In fact, he has visited almost all the Hindu temples in the country, as he has the various Dargahs and Mosques and Gurdwaras.

I tell him God does not exist; why does he even bother?

He tells me, when I die, as someday surely I will, I will have no parachute! I shall surely go to hell! Whereas, from Vaishnodevi to Ajmer Sharif, from Notre-dame to Gurdwara Shish-Ganj, he will have so many parachutes- Gods willing to watch over him and escort him to the Pearly Gates!

You know what? I do not know many people who think like him and the “Santa Claus Uncle” above; in my generation and the next. More’s the pity.

Pawan and his “Madam”

I first met Pawan when I moved into our new office in NOIDA. Just a short walk away, under a makeshift tarpaulin cover as protection against the elements, Pawan sells tea, paan masala and cigarettes.

Actually Pawan does some other things besides. He also plies a cycle-rickshaw- rented for Rs 100 a day- does odd jobs in the neighbourhood and is always “available” for a chat with all the auto drivers, gatekeepers who drop in for a chai. He even tried to sell me a used Nokia once- for all of Rs 900/- – his profit from the deal would only have been Rs 100/-, he assured me. I refused to bite, but someone must have done so, because I did not see the phone again.

Have I given the impression that Pawan is very enterprising and active? If so, let me correct it right away. Pawan’s main activity is slacking off- in summer, you can spot him doubled up inside a stationary auto-rickshaw, snoring away. In winter, he is usually dozing off on his cycle rickshaw. When he is not around, sleeping or otherwise slacking off or on the rare occasion plying his cycle-rickshaw, his “Madam” takes over the tea-stall.

In all the time I have known them, I have never heard Pawan address her as anything other than “Madam”. On her part, she is less respectful; does not hesitate in raising her voice and letting him have a piece of her mind when he is not pulling his weight.

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