The Certainty of Uncertainty

Four days of braving cyclonic storms, tornadoes, torrential rains and finally flooding, dredged out the philosopher-in-hiding.

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What is the first thought that occurs to you when you come to know about a natural/manmade calamity? It’s a feeling of relief, right? That comforting thought that it wasn’t you grieving the loss of a limb or someone you loved deeply. Saying a silent prayer of thanks that it was someone unknown who will be dealing with grief.
It’s a little later you start feeling sorry for the futures lost, luck that chose to play truant, musing on the what-ifs that condemn the afflicted to a lifetime of remorse.

Call me a sadist, but I often imagine myself as the victim. I wonder, in the face of adversity, will I be the one who stays back to help others or simply run for my dear life, putting my conscience on mute. Too selfish to care about others, worried sick about my well-being, my high ideals abandoning me the moment I needed them the most. It scares me to know that there might be a frightened, hysterical coward waiting to come out at the hint of calamity.

How many times have we dealt with tragedy without even feeling a hint of resentment for someone else’s normalcy? Battling the “why me”, “what did I do to deserve this” laments! Blaming our friends and family for not being kind enough, understanding enough and time stretched to pay heed to our distress?

Grief makes us selfish.

They say, it is during our darkest moments we come to face with blinding clarity. Just when we are about to lose it all, do we see truth that we had been seeking all our lives. Realizing, we wasted our precious years confusing the inconsequential for the consequential, putting up with crap when we should have walked away from it! Foolishly thinking that happiness lay in a bigger bank balance, swankier cars, posh vacations, when fulfilment was waiting to be found in the simplest pursuits…Working too hard, pursuing goals that had no meaning and wilfully ignoring things that mattered the most…

Regretting that I did not have the courage to live a life true to myself and not what others expected from me.

Wishing, I had the courage to express what I felt and devoted more time to my loved ones…

If only I had let myself to be happier.

Why do we relegate happiness to the past or postpone it to the future and choose to ignore the present?
Isn’t it ironic, that it’s during the worst in our life, do we realize, what we were taking for granted, and dismissing as mundane was actually a blessing we were turning a blind eye to?

The Krishna Key: Not a Revelation

She claims to live in a pineapple under the sea. A full time dreamer, an aspring journalist, Ms Tee makes a comeback on A-Musing after a long hiatus.

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The Krishna Key is Ashwin Sanghi’s third novel, a story that weaves the narrative of Krishna’s exploits with the coming of the “Kalki Avatar”, the tenth avatar of Vishnu and supposed harbinger of the apocalypse.

I picked up this book with certain expectations. The description led me to believe I would be reading a “heart-stopping tale” with a villain who executes “gruesome and brilliantly thought-out schemes”.  I will say right at the outset that if you want a coherent plot, you will not find it in this book. It starts off with some promise: a mysterious serial killer, the hard-as-nails Inspector Radhika Singh, a Robert Langdon-like eminent historian Ravi Mohan Saini and his gorgeous assistant/student/muse Priya Ratnani. The narrative builds up slowly, giving the author enough time to enthral the reader with a flurry of factoids. At this point the author’s research, though admirable and extensive, overshadows the plot. Despite my rather harsh review, I do not want to take away from the fact that the book is like all of Sanghi’s work, well-researched. But while I understand that one’s research is dear to them, any self-respecting author knows when to let go. I did enjoy the little excerpts from the Mahabharata at the beginning of each chapter. However, there is next to no character-development, the distinctions between them being so vague that the editor (or the author himself) forgets who’s who and mixes-up the names frequently. The plot then begins losing all sense of progression, and we start skipping ahead as the author remembers that he had started out with the intention of writing a novel and not an encyclopaedia. A hurried romance with a poor semblance of chemistry follows as the protagonists and antagonists magically commute (teleport?) from Gujarat to Tibet and so on with incredible ease and no apparent time lapse.

And did I mention how absolutely uninspiring the female leads are? Yes, they’re gorgeous. Yes, they’re successful. But villain is inevitably belittled (she apparently has no will of her own and is completely carried away by her emotions) and the strong, independent woman is reduced to a mushy, good-girl character.

And then we reach the conclusion. The most inconclusive conclusion I have read in a while. We find ourselves at the typical epicentre of Indian tourism, are fed a conspiracy theory we’ve heard a million times, and then given a pseudo-philosophical, happily-ever-after, love-conquers-all solution. Yay. So glad I read that.
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The Curse of the First Born

Rachna Says, a blog with a phenomenal following, is an eclectic mix of parental advice, personal musings and concerns voiced on social ills that plague us. The woman behind the blog, Rachna Parmar is a spirited woman, with strong opinions and stronger principles. She also happens to be a dear friend who I merrily take for granted.

Just as she had given up on hope that I’ll ever write a guest post for her, I shocked her with this ->

As the lifetime member of SODS (Society of Disgruntled Siblings), I finally unburden my heart of its woes in The Curse of the First Born.

As the young couple hold their labour of love in their arms, their hearts fluttering with excitement at having accomplished such a Herculean task - their bundle of joy snuggles up to its mother’s bossom, blissfully unaware of the travails of being the first born. 

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The National Treasure

Rickie Khosla is one of the brightest and inarguably the wickedest in Indian blogosphere. On his blog he offers coleslaw that is crisp, whisked with meaningful contemplations and peppers it with humour that’s always spot on.  He articulates about life, people, media, politics and claims to be a Bollywood aficionado, but I suspect he watches Hindi flicks so that he can tear them apart. Read his last post to know what I’m talking about.

Of late Rickie Khosla, Prince of Gobargaon has been eavesdropping in the corridors of the high and mighty and has come up with this priceless scoop!

Presenting *insert drumrolls*

                                                                The National Treasure

“This is a disaster!” yells Sonia Gandhi as she facepalms her forehead uncharacteristically. “How could we even let this happen?”

The emergency (yet hidden from the media’s prying eyes) political meeting is taking place at the lawns of Sheila Dixit’s official residence in Delhi. The bright winter sun is warm but doing little to dispel the frosty ambience of the congregation. The news that had been received by the PMO just that morning has pulled the rug from under the political establishment’s feet. “It can’t be true!”, “The media must not find out about this!” and “What will Maya and Mulayam do now?” are the universal exclamations in the corridors of power. (As is “How come Urvashi won Bigg Boss?” but that is off-topic for this post.) Mamata Banerji and Narendra Modi have already rushed to Delhi as they are prone to do under such circumstances. So have most other leaders. All except Jayalalitha, who decides to stay put in Chennai under the perceived threat of a snub. 

As the perfectly attired waiters with starched pagdees discreetly serve cream of mushroom soup and assorted nibblers, the political class furiously debates ways to help abate the latest crisis – the imminent loss of a national treasure to an adversarial nation.

Kapil Sibal : But she hasn’t signed the papers yet…

Sushma Swaraj : (shaking her head in acute sadness) But it’s just a matter of time before she does. I vow to shave my head in shame when it happens…

P.Chidambaram : Perhaps the information RAW has is wrong…? Maybe they tapped the wrong person’s phone. There could be many people in that city with the same name, right? It’s a fairly common name, I think.

Pranab Mukherji : (in heavily accented Bangla, or perhaps it is English?) Bhell, honly in Kolkota.

A.K. Anthony : She is the only one there. Actually, even the ISI has indirectly corroborated the news. They threw a big party at their HQ last night. Pitying us on our plight, I’m sure!

L.K.Advani : (shaking fist) Monsters!

Uddhav Thackaray : Thank God she hasn’t moved to Pakistan!

Everyone giggles, but they soon stop. It is simply too painful to joke about what is happening.

More so than anybody, the news has upset Madam Gandhi the most. It means that one more has flown the coop for good. All the bright ones are leaving, she thinks. She wonders about her old apartment in Milan and what it would be like to leave but quickly banishes such thoughts from her mind. Bringing her focus back to the sad old faces seated around her, she demands an explanation yet again but none has any. Uncomfortable silence prevails for several minutes. Sheila-ji offers to break the awful hush by politely mumbling about another round of soup for everyone but is quickly glared into submission by Manmohan-ji through his Coke bottle glasses. The others in assembly dare not look above their potbellies or the soiled napkins in their hands.

Sonia Gandhi : This is your fault. BOTH of you are idiots! Shouldn’t we have done more to lure her back?

Both Sheila-ji and her partner-in-crime look crestfallen.

Sonia Gandhi : First you let her leave, and now this. Do you know what this means? It means she is never coming back now! Never! We have lost a national treasure. She is the BEST in the business! Have you ever read what the others write? It’s ALL GARBAGE!

Sheila Dixit : (sheepishly) But maybe despite this she will still return…?

Sonia Gandhi : What for? How do you imagine that?

Sheila Dixit’s Partner-in-Crime : Maybe she won’t like it there after a while…? They say ‘crikey’ too much…And they are always drunk too. Hooligans!

Sheila Dixit : (adding usefully) And their vegemite! So terrible it is…My son brought…

Sonia Gandhi : (yelling in interruption) WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TWO TALKING ABOUT? Don’t you know that once you have flown Qantas or held a koala in your arms, THERE IS NO GOING BACK!! It’s the POINT OF NO RETURN! And she has probably done both by now. Multiple times!

Sheila-ji sheds a silent tear.

Sonia Gandhi : (suddenly,and excitedly) Let’s call her! Maybe if we beseech her to return, she will come back.

Rahul Gandhi : (cheerfully) Yes, Madre, that is a bellissimo idea! Only you could have thought of it!

Sonia Gandhi : What do you think, Manmohan-ji? Blink once if you agree.

The requisite number is blinked.

Sheila-ji’s landline phone quickly becomes the cynosure of all eyes in the gathering. The speaker option is enabled and an international number starting with country code “61” is dialed.

Purba Ray : G’Day!

Sheila Dixit’s Partner-in-Crime : Hello, Purbaji?

Purba Ray : Yes, this is Purba. (Partly covers mouthpiece to speak with someone with her) Bolte parchi na. Sounds like that Rohtak wale Batra uncle of yours. (Uncovers mouthpiece to resume conversation with the caller) Who is it?

Sheila Dixit’s Partner-in-Crime : This is Hooda speaking.

Purba Ray : (thinking hard) Hooda...? Hooda…who…? Oh, Hooda! Wow, what a surprise! I am such a big fan of yours!

Sheila Dixit’s Partner-in-Crime : You are?

Purba Ray : (excitedly) Yes, Saahib, Biwi Aur Gangster is one of my favourite films! Though I must say, on the phone you sound nothing like you do on screen! You sound…mature.

Sheila Dixit’s Partner-in-Crime : (coughs) Hein?

Purba Ray : You are Randeep Hooda, aren’t you?

Sheila Dixit’s Partner-in-Crime : No, no, this is Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the Chief Minister of Haryana.

Purba Ray : (silence)

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : Hello, are you there?

Purba Ray : (speaking slowly, very surprised) Yes, I am. Sorry, I was not expecting a call from you. I am quite shocked actually! What is this about?

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : We have a very humble request to you. Please come back!

Purba Ray : (sounds ever more surprised) Come back? Where? Back to Gurgaon?

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : Yes, Gurgaon, Delhi…wherever you please! In fact, even Sheila Dixit-ji is with me on the phone. (Looks at Sheila-ji and urges her to speak)

Sheila Dixit : (speaks loudly into the phone) Hello, beta, how are you?

Sonia Gandhi rolls her eyes in disbelief.

Purba Ray : Errm…I am doing well…errm…How are you…errm…aunty?

Sheila Dixit : I am well, too. But beta, iss baar thand bohot padi hai idhar. Heater se bhi kaam nahi…

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : (quickly interrupting) Ok, let’s get back to the reason why we have called you. So, we have recently discovered that you are thinking about acquiring Australian citizenship.

Purba Ray : Australian citizenship? What are you talking about? (Adds, with suspicion) How did you even find out about that?

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : Don’t worry about that. That’s not important.

Purba Ray : But…

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : But, the question is this. Why Australia? What do they have that we don’t?

Purba Ray : Errr…

Mamata Banerji : (unable to control herself, spurts) Don’t forget, if they have Harbour Bridge, our Kolkata has Howrah Bridge!

Purba Ray : But…

Salman Khurshid : Sydney Opera House. Lotus Temple!

Many in the gathering start clapping appreciatively looking around at each other smiling and nodding.

Ajay Makan : And the Indian cricket team under Dhoni is No. 1 in the world. What is the Australia cricket team? A big zero!

The appreciative claps come to a thudding stop.

Sushil Kumar Shinde : (chipping in usefully) Tendulkar!

A smattering of claps resumes.

Suresh Kalmadi : Sports overall, I will say. In fact, we won more Olympic medals this year than Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Burma. Combined! We are a sporting powerhouse now!

The accomplished gentry continue to look around with appreciative nods and smiles.

Manish Tiwari : Plus our Cinema! Our TV. KBC. Amit-ji!

The claps get even louder.

Purba Ray : I love all that, too. But…

Ghulam Nabi Azad : But? No ifs and buts, please. No thinking about Australian citizenship! You have to come back!

Sachin Pilot : Yes, in fact just tell us who we can send over to convince you. Just tell us! Should we send Salman or Shah Rukh to request you to come back personally? Amitabh-ji? Tell us, who is your favourite film personality?

Purba Ray : It’s Satyajit Ray, actually.

Sachin Pilot : Who is that? (Turns to Mamata Banerji) Sounds like a Bengali star…can we send him there?

Mamata Banerji : (disappointedly) He is no more…he died a decade ago…No doubt the Left Front was responsible.

Sachin Pilot : Dammit!

Purba Ray : That’s all very sweet of you, everyone. But have things improved in Gurgaon? Have they got better in India since I left?

Sheila Dixit : Of course! Have you seen our new Metro? And the Malls in Gurgaon?

Nitish Kumar : (adding helpfully) We even have malls in Patna now.

Rabri Devi nods happily but is quickly stared down by her husband Laloo Prasad.

Purba Ray : But what about the appalling infrastructure there? Women’s safety? Nirbhaya’s story has shaken the entire nation…

Sheila Dixit : (sounding angry) Yes, shame on those rapists. We will hang them and that will solve the problem of rape forever!

The appreciative claps begin again.

Purba Ray : I see. And corruption? How come Kalmadi-ji is attending this meeting? Isn’t he supposed to be in jail?

Kapil Sibal : I can promise you that after this meeting, Kalmadi is going straight back to jail. We only let him out when there are critical meetings like this to attend. Here or in London or Switzerland. So, unless he becomes President of the Indian Olympic Association again, or wins a parliamentary election, we will make sure he rots in jail.

Purba Ray : Yes, that should fix the issue of corruption for good, too…A lesson to everyone.

Several people in unison : Right!

Purba Ray : Then we wouldn’t need that Jan Lokpal Bill either?

P. Chidambaram : Oh that Mango People Party bill? Those fruit salads don’t know how to run a movement let alone a country! We will table an even better bill than the Jan Lok Pal in the next to next session of Parliament.

Sharad Pawar : (correcting quickly) Or the one after that.

Salman Khurshid : Yes, yes!

Purba Ray : I see. By the way, did you know that the streetlights in my lane in Gurgaon were always on the blink? In all the years I lived there, they never worked. Not once!

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : (looking sheepishly at Sonia Gandhi who glares back in anger) Don’t worry, we will fix them right away. As soon as I leave this meeting, I will instruct the local administration to float a tender to replace street lights in your part of Gurgaon. Once the tender is passed by early next year, everything should get better by 2015.

Hooda and Gandhi look at each other. Sonia nods appreciatively at the deft handling of Purba’s googly.

Purba Ray : I see. I guess I should say thank you…?

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : Oh you are welcome ji! So, you are returning to India for good then? Pakka?

Purba Ray : I have to think about it. You know, talk to my husband, my daughter, my hair stylist, maid, girl at the grocery store etc…

Kapil Sibal : Ok, how about we sweeten the deal for you? What if I send you an Aakash tablet? Imagine, it’s like a computer without a keyboard! It’s going to cause a revolution here!

Purba Ray : No, thank you, I already have an iPad.

Kapil Sibal : (not giving up) What if I send you two? Yes, yes, just tell me your address, I will send you two. No, three. We will send you three of them. Modi-ji, can you send her one of the two I sent you?

Narendra Modi quickly nods in agreement.

Purba Ray : I really don’t need it! Thank you for the offer, anyway.

Kapil Sibal : But…(is stopped by a stern look by Madam)

Purba Ray : You see, I love India and all the wonderful things you have mentioned. In fact, you missed mentioning the Taj Mahal that we built in the 1600s, the Charminar, Digboi, Gateway of India! I am sure if we all collectively think very hard, we will surely recall some world beating things we have developed in the past 10-15-20-30 years.

Sheila Dixit : (immediately adding) Like the…

Purba Ray : …Delhi Metro. Yes, we already talked about that! And like you folks also always say – T3 at Indira Gandhi airport…

Kapil Sibal : Yes, the biggest and the best airport man has ever built.

Purba Ray : Yes, of course it is.

Kapil Sibal : And despite all this, you still have to think about coming back?

Purba Ray : Unfortunately, yes! You see I have just adopted a baby koala. He is too cute! I can’t abandon him and return to India!

And just like that, it is all over. The war is lost. Sheila-ji bursts into tears. Chidambaram lifts his lungi and storms out of the premises. Manmohan-ji silently takes off his glasses to dab moist eyes. Even the stoic visage of Madam crumbles as her lower lip quivers to register defeat. And Rahul drops his head on his mother’s lap and bawls like a baby.

It is left for Bhupendra-ji to collect the pieces of a nation’s broken dream.

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : (his voice quivering) A koala…

Purba Ray : Yes, we have named him Bhalloo!

Bhupinder Singh Hooda : In that case, what is left for me to say…

Purba Ray : I am sorry!

The line goes dead.

The room is silent except for Sheila-ji’s and Rahul’s sniffles. Manmohan-ji starts to say something by way of consolation but no words are forthcoming. Madam looks forlorn. But just as the men start to get up in preparation to leave, Madam’s face suddenly lights up. As if she has just had a brainwave! One member of the gathering, who had been silent thusfar, notices the change in Madam’s mood and quickly springs to her feet to draw attention.

Meira Kumar : (looking at Sheila-ji and Rahul) Aap dono shaant ho jayiye. (And to everyone else) Aap sab baith jaiye.

All eyes are on Sonia, who looks triumphant. 

Sonia Gandhi : Ok guys, I just had a great idea! What if we kidnap Bhalloo and smuggle it into India?

Meanwhile, Bhalloo is blissfully unaware of the evil conspiracy being hatched in New Delhi.

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Brisbane Chronicles

Just when you’d given up hope that I’d ever write about Brisbane…
Brisbane is not a city many have heard of. Say Australia and most will assume it’s either Sydney or Melbourne. And why not! Isn’t it where our chachera Chacha, Billoo ki mausi and Mrs Gupta’s only daughter live! If a few of you are familiar with the city, you’d probably know it for the iconic Gabba stadium.

Brisbane, the capital of Queensland has less to do with the Queen and more to do with sunshine. Thanks to the missing ozone layer the sun is so harsh that within the first few weeks you start resembling a well-roasted tomato. Skin cancer is a huge scare here and we all slather ourselves with sunblock because our lives depend on it. It does have a Queen Street though named after Queen Victoria. All streets in the central business district (CBD) that run parallel to this street are named after female members of the royal family – Margaret, Charlotte, Ann, Adelaide, Mary, Alice while George, Edward, Albert, William run perpendicular to them. Royalty gets to meet only at intersections.

Locals call the city Brissy. Aussies have this amazing habit of shortening words – after a brekky of coffee and toast, people kill time in office only to get back home to watch footy on TV. Got it? Most are fanatically religious about their fitness regime and it shows and how! If there are some fat Aussies, they have done a good job of hiding themselves from me. All I see is tattooed hunks and women with fantastic figures.

And no Aussie will be caught dead with a bottle of Fosters beer, as the ads will have us believe. Fosters made in Australia is only popular in India.

Flanked by Sunshine coast and Gold coast on either side, Brisbane like most Australian cities is built around a river. In fact the city derives its name from the river around which it sits. My apartment is on the riverside and I can spend the entire day just staring at it. Never a dull moment – one can spot kayaking enthusiasts on a late night outing holding up lights, tanned Greek Gods speeding around in the water scooters, their ex-dads partying in their yacht, the city-cat catamarans busy ferrying commuters, the cafes and restaurants on its banks buzzing with activity. It’s the sounds of laughter and raucous singing by drunk boys and girls that fill up my otherwise quiet days.

The Iconic Story Bridge

Brisbane is quiet and too sane for comfort. Especially when you come from a city that honks, claws, barks its way through the crowds. And what’s worse it goes to bed by 9. But then one can’t help it, if there’s bright sunshine piercing through your curtains at 4.30 A.M!

Late night dining is as alien a concept as chivalry is in my motherland. I spent my first few weeks, raving and ranting about this uncivilized culture that closes shop at 5 and wears a deserted look by sundown. I mean what is one supposed to do in the evenings – watch TV? Thank God, there’s Friday when everyone dresses up in their skimpiest best and parties with a vengeance.

Everyone had warned me that I’d soon become one of them and slip into my pyjamas by nine. I haven’t, at least not yet.

Brisbane River

The Treasury House

Queen Street Mall - Image courtesy Google

There’s lot to do in this city during the day time. One can take a soak with a battalion of noisy kids in the manmade swimming beach pools of Southbank, treat oneself to Italian, Chinese, Greek, Tibetan, Japanese, Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese cuisine in one of the many restaurants dotting the city. Watch movies in the open air theatres, musicals in the Queensland Performing Arts centre, go museum hopping, immerse oneself in masterpieces at the GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art) or take a walk in the Botanical Gardens. James Street has some great watering holes for the undomesticated and the domesticated ones can press their nose against show-windows admiring the Italian pumps retailing for 900 AUD. (1 AUD = appx 58 INR) For antique shopping there’s the lovely Given Terrace in Paddington. For retail therapy there’s the Queen Street mall (where you can also watch some amazing street performances), Westfield Malls, Indooroopilly, Toowong and many more that I have yet to explore. If you are in mood for some adventure, you can always book a climb to Brisbane’s iconic Story Bridge, trek up the lit-up weathered walls of Kangaroo Point Cliffs or go Kayaking down the Brisbane River. And if you want to chill out, book a river cruise and dance to Lady Gaga. For the Vegas feel, you can gamble your accumulated riches at the Treasury Casino House, located in a heritage building.

To get a vantage view of the city, take a bus to the scenic Mt. Coot-tha, the highest peak in Brisbane, where you can sip coffee and take in the beautiful sights. If you want to cuddle up to the Koalas and pat the Kangaroos, head to the Lone Pine Sanctuary, a mere 12 km drive from the city. I promise you won’t regret it!

View from Mt Coot-tha

Weekends get even better – mountain side retreats (Mt Tamborine, Montville), sunny coastlines (Moreton Bay, Noosa, Gold Coast, Stradbroke Island, Manly), tropical rainforests (O’ Reilly, Springbrook, Kondalilla Falls) are all a mere hour’s drive away. If you are in the city, you can browse your way through Farmer's markets.
The city enjoys a warm sub-tropical climate, with warm to humid summer and moderately cold winters. Thunderstorms are pretty common here but enjoy uncommon coverage by news channels. The last time we had a hailstorm, news channels couldn’t stop gushing about it. The Indian in me can’t stop sniggering. Ha! We deal with scams, murders, arsons, rapes on a daily basis and when it rains we get stuck in jams for hours!

My face mostly wears a peaceful look now barring the odd muscle soreness I get for getting too adventurous in my fitness classes. I’m convinced that my instructor is trying to kill me and it certainly doesn’t help that his smile can launch a thousand ships. So, every morning I limp my way to the health club, ready to put myself through some more torture.

If you’re planning to visit Brisbane, make sure you pack a sturdy pair of walking shoes. It’s a great city to walk around, with all its attractions not too far away from each other. If you get tired, you can always catch a bus, take a river ferry, sit in of the cafes and soak the city’s warm vibe, as you sip your coffee. It’s possible someone walking by might pick a French fry off your plate and say hmm! This is quite good! Don’t be alarmed, just put on your best smile and say, wanna grab a beer, mate?

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The Law will protect women

My guest blogger,Cacofonix, he with the acerbic tongue, has got a sneak peek of the freshly minted laws formulated by our venerated MPs to protect our second class citizens – women. In a rare act of benevolence and perhaps aided by a peg or two of single malt, he has decided to share it with the readers of A-Musing.

A country, somewhere near Pakistan and Bangladesh, is embarking on ‘sweeping changes in laws’ to protect its female citizens. The political advisor has told the Perpetually Mum (PM) that the phrase ‘sweeping changes in laws’, according to the bureaucrat’s thesaurus, is really the same thing as ‘sweeping (under the carpet) changes in laws proposed by the civil and uncivil Society’. So, the government can never be dragged to the courts on it.

Members of the law-making elected body (otherwise known as Mutual Parasites or MPs) know what is good for civil society. Which the English-speaking, forever protesting, forever tear-gassed, arrogant members of civil society do not realise. But, the MPs, like truly benevolent parents with the welfare of their children uppermost in their cranial chambers, have chosen to ignore all the barbs being thrown at them, throw out all the inane suggestions made to them, and arrive at a set of carefully thought through laws and procedures that will forever uphold the dignity of women. These are the highlights of some key sections of the draft, presently under review by the committee of Minor Sociologists and Gynaecologists, or in short, Misogynists.

Article 101 Clause 6: It shall be made mandatory for men to wear dark sunglasses after sunset. This will make it difficult for their brains to process visual stimuli such as feminine skin around the gluteus maximus or feminine adipose tissue in the upper quarters. Only policemen will be exempt because they have to catch violators and write challans. Besides, they have a tough job and deserve a bit of excitement after dark. The measure will lend a fillip to the sunglass industry, a sunrise sector, generating employment and getting the country’s GDP back on track. The eyewear will be smartly marketed under the brand name Rape Ban and make the perfect gift for women to give their men on their birthdays.

Article 111 Clause 23: MPs or those aspiring to stand for elections will forfeit their ability to purchase a party ticket (aptly termed because what you get after winning an election is pretty much like a party) after their third rape charge or conviction. It is a big country and there are lots of women out there, so once or twice is okay for chaps climbing up the ladder. But three is a no-no. Especially if you had your sunglasses on.

Article 212 Clause 1: A nationwide campaign will be launched to sensitise men towards the modesty of women. Men must respect women. All men who intend to commit an act of rape or two will have to first sign up on the national register to be made available at the website and attend 12 weeks of virtual classroom training on rape etiquette. For instance, how to politely ask a woman “madam, may I please have your permission to engage in a unilateral act of coition?”in Haryanvi, Sanskrit, Hindi, Manipuri and other national languages.

Article 222 Clause 1b: A national fund will be maintained through a surcharge of 10% on income tax payers and income tax evaders. This fund will be used to provide every single woman in India with a mobile recording device, a small notebook and a pencil (pens never work in these situations). A woman will receive extensive training from filmmakers such as Pujya Bhatt and Lakshman Balaram Verma on how to film the proceedings herself and take notes while the man is engaged in an act per Art 212 Clause 1 above. A court of law can hear a case only when there is irrefutable evidence – not all this fancy DNA stuff – and a woman victim can really nail it if she exercises calm and records all that she can. While breathing normally, as one would when one’s airplane is about to crash into a mountain.

Article 222 Clause 1a: This clause precedes Clause 1b above and entails equipping women with rakhis. As advocated by a prominent religious leader, addressing the male as ‘bhaiyya’ and tying the thread around his wrist or whatever comes in hand, often does the trick of putting off the act altogether. For years. The tighter it is tied, the better.

Article 101 Clause 2: Police will be provided clear guidelines on how to register a case. For starters, jurisdiction will lie with the thana where the alleged woman victim’s neighbour’s dog last went for a walk. The woman victim must then be rushed to a government-run hospital in an area whose PIN code ends with the two digits of the year the woman was born. No wishy-washy evasion between police stations on where the FIR is not to be lodged.

Article 400: To douse public outcry, the government will make it mandatory for rape trials to be conducted on priority by the judiciary. The Wall Street Journal has reported there are 95,000 pending cases (the government will take steps to prevent such malicious data going out) to which 13,000 cases get added annually. Fast Track Courts will hear a case within 123 working days (that’s two calendar years after adjusting for leaves and tours), following which High Courts will conduct the requisite screening hearings before the file reaches the Supreme Court. With 26 judges there, taking 42 calendar days on each case, you do the math – the entire backlog will get cleared in 420 years! Applause! Even better, with the judiciary engaged entirely on this social cause, all other court cases on political corruption, scams and murders will not even get a peek before the year 2432.

This way, even the (great)14-grandchildren of political leaders will stay safely in power. While (great)14-grandchildren of pesky civil society members would be numbed to eternal silence – and it was all their own doing.