The Indian Fame Meter. Or, find out if you are truly famous.

“Is there any country in the world that is under foreign dominion?” Rahul (name changed to protect my safety), asked me. I had been introduced to him six minutes ago by his mother, “Rahul, this is Deven uncle. He writes”. With this curt introduction she had walked away to attend other guests and young Rahul had begun to interrogate me. Rahul is seven years old but I was not surprised by his question; he probably thought, ‘'This guy writes. He writes books. Books are filled with answers to questions...’
“Not that I know of,” I answered.
“Can you find out if there is?” Rahul was relentless. 
“Now? How?” I countered. 
“Why? You don't have internet on your phone?”

Rahul didn't look like the type who wrote a diary every night but had he been, today's entry would have read: Today was disappointing. I discovered writers don't know everything and don't make enough money - they can't even afford internet on the phone.

Rahul looked at me with a thoughtful expression. He decided to give me one more chance before giving up on me as a complete loser.

“So tell me,” he asked, “How does one become a minister in the government?”
“It is a long process. First you have to be twenty five years old. Then you have to contest an election... If you are a criminal but don't have a record (defined in this country as ‘arrested but never convicted’), your chances are better...”
“Damn!” Rahul cut me short and began chewing his lower lip. I got a little worried but decided to be ruthless and respond with questions of my own.
“Why do you ask?” 

Rahul gave me a look that he probably used on flea-infested dogs, crippled earthworms and cell phones without cameras. For a moment I thought he was going to tell what I had suspected when his mother introduced us to each other.“So I stay out of her hair and you stay away from other, important guests.” But no. Luckily Rahul had a deeper reason for his questions.

“The answer to your question is on every street corner; it is such a pity you can't see it.”' He gave me that look again. “But first, let’s rewind to the time of my birth. When I was born my father said, ‘I have made so much money that I actually don’t mind paying tax. Not that I pay it but you know the sentiment. Hmm. So where was I? Money, I have lots. Now my son has to go further; he has to become famous.’ That’s why.”

“But Rahul,” I began to protest and was cut sharply. “My name is not Rahul.” 
“I know but I need to protect my safety,” I replied sheepishly. 
“Then it’s okay I guess,” he replied. 
“But Rahul, there are so many other professions you can take up to become famous!” I continued, “You can become an actor, a musician, an astronaut, a scientist, a singer, a painter... Why you can even become a writer!”

This time he laughed outright and gave me a look reserved for cell phones without a camera and a radio.

 “That’s why nobody knows you,” he told me bluntly, “and nobody ever will. Only the truly intelligent people like Gandhi, Nehru, Gandhi, Gandhi and Gandhi knew exactly how to become famous and chose the right profession – and now the man in the street knows their name.” 
“But how can you say that Rohan?” (I suddenly realized that using the name Rahul was not a good idea. In fact it might endanger instead of protect my safety.) 
“Because, you bloody landline (he didn’t say that but that’s how it sounded), they are the only guys who are important enough to have their names given to streets, lanes, roads, highways, expressways, bridges and now, sea-links.”

He had forgotten to mention chowks but I knew he was right and that is why I will never be truly famous. And neither will Bachchan, Bachchan, Bachchan and Bachchan. 


  1. Do an address like this exists

    Rahul Gandhi
    4/D Indira Housing Society
    Opp. Rajiv Gandhi Sanchar Nigam
    Nehru Road, Gandhinagar

    (Sorry could not think of a better clanish name for Mumbai)

  2. I am sure it does, somewhere, if not here in Mumbai.

    I saw something similar in Sangli in 1985 - everything from the biggest structure (in Sangli's case, the sugar mill) to the smallest (barber shop) was named after Vasantdada Patil. In fact, the college I attempted to do engineering was called PVPIT that is, Padmabhushan Vasantraodada Patil Institute of Technology.


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