We are sitting around the table and there are glasses on the tables with amber coloured liquid in them and I can’t name the name of the liquid or I will be arrested. No, I am not underage. Here, in this great country of ours, it is not enough to be twenty-five years* of age to be eligible for drinking. You also need to have what is called a Liquor Permit. This wonderful thing, the Permit, is a hangover (smart of you to get that pun!), of a rule from the heady (yes, one more!) days that followed our independence from British rule. The rule says you can apply for and acquire a Liquor Permit if the doctor says that you are a confirmed alcoholic! Yes, you got that right. The powers that be in this great country believe in fighting fire with fire and alcoholism with alcoholism. “Here, have one more buddy. That way you will be so drunk that you will be unable to find your car and kill yourself and a few bystanders trying to drive back home or, be so pissed out of your body that you will not have the strength to beat up your poor wife.”
But let’s return to the table. We are sitting there and I am a few glasses down and start complaining: “I have got the writer’s block. I am writing stuff but it’s not making sense.”
There is stunned silence around the table. I am happy that I have such a considerate audience that is so concerned about my writing prowess deserting me that they can’t find words to express their sadness.
This illusion lasts for about three minutes. Then one of them starts laughing so uncontrollably that the neighbouring table is first staring and then ordering, ‘I will have what he is having.’
I can’t take it and I explode: “Shut the bad-word up will you? What’s so bad-wording funny about it?”
The guy finally calms down and recovers his breath enough to say: “But what you write never makes sense anyway! Never!”
I want to throw my unnamed drink in his face, the way they do in movies, but instead I gulp it down along with my anger. After all, he is paying for this one and the four I have had before this.
Again like in the movies, the scene suddenly shifts to me sitting at my work station and writing a blog post instead of working. I write with the new-found confidence that god or muse or the genie in the corner of the room or whoever it is that sends me inspiration and makes me write has decided that I will write nothing but rubbish. So here goes. Today’s blog post. Or a short exercise in rubbish.
Sorry. Looks like I have really lost it. No, not ‘it’, but the ability to write even rubbish. I have no option to go and search for rubbish in places outside my head and report the absurdities I come across. This is what I come back with:
1] In a by-lane of Bandra West there is a traffic jam outside one particular building every morning. Yeah, there is a traffic jam in all of Bandra West but this one is special because it is so early in the morning. It is caused by people driving to visit the gym located in the building. Yeah, members drive right up to the entrance of the building where the gym’s free valet service picks up the car. The members then go up to the gym to walk on a treadmill or some such. Every time I visit the building and wait for the lift to visit an office on the top floor the lift arrives and spills out men and women with perfectly sculpted bodies, glowing with health and smelling like gym towels. I have a feeling that they haven’t heard of a concept called staircases and if the lifts break down one day, they will call the fire brigade or jump out of the window. Into the waiting arms of the valets.
2] There is a photograph in a newspaper of the newly inaugurated* pedestrian skywalk at Andheri. The photograph is taken at night and shows a whole bunch of people sleeping on the skywalk. One health-conscious dude has rigged a mosquito net** and sleeps peacefully in the knowledge that he is protected from malaria, dengue and etc. The newspaper carrying the photograph is highly critical of this misuse of a public utility but I think it is just being plain blind to the great Indian logic:
The skywalk is built for railway commuters and pedestrians. At night neither are out on the road or the skywalk. So using it for sleeping, gambling or occasionally smoking up some brown sugar is making use of this public utility to the fullest. It is this great Indian logic of not letting anything go waste, finding new uses for old things and exploiting every bit to its fullest potential that will make
a great and green superpower one day. India
*Writer’s note: Newly inaugurated is not the same as newly built. In this great country of ours, things are built and ready but that doesn’t mean we can use them. First the concerned (it is just a phrase, not the truth), department has to figure out which political party will take the credit for building the structure. Once that is figured out, the department starts right at the top in
to find an appropriate person for the inauguration. If that doesn’t work out, it starts lowering its standards and begins to settle for less and less (which by the way is the story of our expectations from our political leaders), until someone suitable agrees. This takes a lot of time. If there is a coalition government in power, the time doubles or triples or quadruples (a word meaning questionable democratic scruples). Delhi
**Since the opposition parties couldn’t claim credit for the skywalk sooner or later one of them will start distributing free mosquito nets for these sleepwalkers, sorry, sleepers on the skywalk and install a plaque on every skywalk saying, ‘Donated by XYZ’ with pictures of twelve party leaders dressed in nothing but mosquito nets.
3] Getting 90% marks in your tenth standard exam does not guarantee you a seat in the college of your preference, says a headline in today’s newspaper. The report explains that this year’s 90% is like last year’s 85%. Very soon the education minister will join the finance minister and begin talking about inflation while quietly signing a document allowing his daughter-in-law to set up a college on a plot reserved for a skywalk.
is a secular (word meaning state-sponsored enterprise for becoming popular), nation. Its secularity is best visible in the humble calendar, yes, those printed things with dates that our parents used to put up on the wall. If you don’t have one, please visit a bank or a bank employee’s home. There, marked in clear bold red numbers, is the proof of our secularity - Bank holidays for festivals of each and every caste, creed, community and religion. For example, a couple of weeks ago all banks, stock exchanges and government offices in the country were shut on the occasion of the Parsi New Year. What bigger proof do you need than this: A nation of 1.2 billion shutting down to pay a tribute to a community that numbers 1,00,000 or so. India
5] ‘If it is your birthday today: You have to handle financial commitments and transactions carefully. Failure to verify second hand information could complicate matters. You may need to put in more efforts on the romantic front, getting complacent or taking your partner for granted will create unnecessary tensions.’
This a straight lift from the horoscope section in today’s newspaper. What it means is:
‘If it is not your birthday today: Handle financial commitments and transactions carelessly; sign that blank cheque and leave it on a table in a café. Believe every piece of gossip you hear. Take your partner for granted without fear of any repercussions.’
There is a reason why the daily horoscope and comic strips share the same page in a newspaper.
I am sorry but I have to go now. The office receptionist just called to say that the courier has a packet for me. Ah! My Liquor Permit is finally here.