It was Teacher’s Day this week, or as I like to call it, “Ashish, get out of the class.” Every year, around this time, I get nostalgic about all the fun I had in school, especially the part where I wasn’t forced to sit around and listen to Prime Minister Modi’s speech about how I was the future of the nation and how I should respect my elders and floss every night and stop doing the awesome thing that I had just discovered because it was against our culture.
Mind you, this has nothing to do with my political beliefs. It’s just that if you make a kid stick around in school for longer than absolutely necessary, he’s bound to hate you with an intensity otherwise reserved for tinday ki sabzi. If Modi wants the students of today to grow up and vote for him, he should save his speechwriters the trouble and just give the brats a free period. (Throw in a Shin Chan catchphrase and you’d have those kids begging their parents for a lotus tattoo.)
In the run-up to 5th September, there seemed to be a lot of confusion about whether or not it was mandatory for schools to telecast his address. The truth depended on how much coffee the fact-checkers had had, but for me, the most striking image was one that had been going around on social media. It was a photo of a classroom full of kids, say about eight to ten years old, watching Modi’s address, except one boy was standing in the foreground doing the little finger “May I go pee?” gesture, with a teacher pointing at him to sit down while also giving him a death stare, like he’d asked to pee on her foot or something.
I’m not sure if that photo will get shared a lot, but if it becomes big enough, these are the headlines you can expect to see:
NitiCentral: PM SPEECH STRENGTHENS YOUNG BLADDERS ACROSS THE NATION, THEREBY REDUCING THE RISK OF CANCER BY 832%
Sagarika Tweet: The boy’s pained expression proves that he is from the minority community. This is a dangerous precedent!!. Should we start communal fires that our pee can’t extinguish?!!!
Buzzfeed: 16 Hilarious Indian Gestures That Signify Susu
Instagram: <High-saturation Photo Of Lower-Middle Class Man Peeing On A Wall That Says Something Rustic Like ‘Gadhe Ke Poot, Yahaan Mat Moot’>
Firstpost: A 6000-Word Piece On Why Indian Girls Don’t Have The Confidence To Stand Up And Do The Finger Pee Gesture #Misogyny #Patriarchy #NobodyWillReadThis
And finally, Chetan Bhagat would announce his new book: a story about a boy from middle-class India, with a middle-class driver-type name like Sunil or Ramesh, whose English is not very goodly speaking because of full middle-classness only. After having middle-class water from a middle-class hotel (which is what middle-class people call restaurants) the boy would rush to empty his middle-class bladder in the toilet of his MBA college, which he joined to rise above his middle-classness, even though he really wanted to pursue his passion for MMS film-making.
But Sunil-slash-Ramesh would enter the girls loo by mistake, where he’d meet and fall in love with a rich girl, who pees wherever she wants to because she’s rich. The movie rights would be snapped up for a hundred crores, while “real” Indian authors – people who know that Whitbread is not a source of carbs – would sit around weeping tears of blood into their manuscripts featuring a poor brown man contemplating the nature of karma while trapped in a quagmire of Naxalism and also an actual quagmire, because that’s where all poor people live. (This man would be Bengali because, c’mon, when was the last time you saw somebody write stuff like this about Noida guys?)
Overall, the PM’s address appears to have been a success. The Prime Minister said all the right things, like blahblahblahblahblah thank you for listening, go home and chill now. Or at least that’s how the kids must’ve heard it. Jokes aside, I’m sure many of those kids will grow up to vote for the BJP. Years from now, you’ll see them at polling booths, fervently looking for the tinday ki sabzi symbol.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 7th Sep 2014.)