As someone who lives and breathes the news (especially if the words ‘wardrobe malfunction’ are involved) I have spent the last few weeks submerged under a wave of reports about ‘A New India’ – one that gets its jollies from watching an old man carry out the most boring suicide attempt ever.
You may have guessed by now that I’m not exactly an Anna supporter. This automatically makes me a vile, anti-national criminal who always cheers for the English team in Lagaan.
The problem is that Indians are an emotional lot, and that the average supporter’s idea of patriotism is like the average Sindhi’s idea of a good shirt – the louder, the better. This is what an interview with your friendly neighbourhood chest-thumper sounds like:
Journalist: So tell us, what exactly are your views on the JanLokPal Bill?
Protester: AAARGHH!! CONGRESS SUCKS!! INQUILAAB! AZAADI! SIMON GO BACK!
Journalist: Alright, but what are the provisions of the Bill?
Protester: OYE! RANG DE BASANTI! AAMIR KHAN! SHARMAN JOSHI! AND THAT MADRASI FELLOW!
Journalist: Do you even understand the implications of –
Protester: THIS IS ALL FAULT OF MIDDIA! ARNAB HAI HAI!
Journalist: Actually, I’m with you on that last one.
Like it or not, this affair at Ramlila Maidan is the closest we’ll ever come to Woodstock. This is the event we’ll tell our grandkids about, after which they’ll rip out our pacemakers with their bare hands.
So let’s take a quick look at some of the key events that have unfolded over the past few weeks:
1. Anna Hazare steps out of his house in Mayur Vihar and is promptly arrested by the Delhi Police. For a few hours, nobody knows where he is. This is great, because in Delhi, for a change, a *man* has been forcefully taken away to an unknown location.
2. Next, Anna is thrown into Tihar Jail, a decision that was apparently made after a night of drunken ‘Truth or Dare’ at the Congress headquarters. (This also explains those ugly ‘Hardik Shubheccha’ political posters)
3. After this, some genius calls for a ‘Jail Bharo Andolan’, wherein you’re supposed to get into a confined, filthy, sweaty space with about 300 other people. Or as Mumbaikars call it, home.
4. Sri Sri reaches Tihar. This is confusing for Anna, who is now wondering if hunger is making him see double double.
5. The Congress, completely taken aback by the fact that they’re being made to look stupid by someone other than Digvijay Singh, finally relents and lets Anna begin his fast at Ramlila Maidan. They do this as if they actually had any say in the matter. Christopher Reeve had more spine than these guys.
6. And thus begins Annapalooza. Lakhs of people across India march out in vociferous support of a man that nobody yet understands. At this point, Germans are watching us and thinking, “Uh oh. Been there, done that.” (Optimists argue that at least the country is united towards a common goal. This is great until you realise that the last time Indians were so focussed, it was because they all wanted Poonam Pandey to strip)
7. Manish Tiwari says that he’s really, really sorry for referring to Anna as corrupt. Hah. It’d be easier to believe Simi Garewal’s assertion that she is in fact, not a cyborg.
8. Meanwhile, the Annapalooza continues, with one of its most enduring images being that of Kiran Bedi flapping about on stage. This disappoints the horde of Gujjus that had rushed to Ramlila Maidan after mistaking her for Falguni Pathak.
At the time of writing, renowned egg-hatcher Arindam Chaudhri was reported to be at Ramlila Maidan, espousing the virtues of honesty. This is like having Kim Kardashian lecture you on abstinence.
I can’t wait for this whole mess to get over, so that we can get back to real issues, like wondering about the new Bigg Boss line-up. Apparently, Anna was offered a spot but declined when he realised he wasn’t going to be the Bigg Boss.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 28th August 2011)