So the chicks have won. Hawaii chappals are being sold at discounted prices. It’s the new “it” thing. Move over Blahnik.
Okay so I’m kidding, but seriously the chappal shod, terribly draped sari wearing fish-wife has stormed all over the hammer and sickle, wielding nothing but her rhetorical scythe which after years of tempering finally came good as it systematically mowed down her opponents to size…and tiny little bite size pieces at that. Oh she’s got a ubiquitous style that one, all pervading and ever ready to burst forth into a rant at something that’s got her goat… oops I mean hilsa…down to the last bone.
India is a land of mysticism and mystery, with a wonderfully rich heritage of kings and kingdoms. We feel safe with them, we like being ruled, having someone to look up to. So we’ve embraced the tradition of political families in much the same vein…from the Gandhi’s to the Karunanidhi’s to the Yadavs…you name it and each state has its own share of ‘khandaani’ politicians. In this milieu therefore it’s no small wonder that these women, with no familial political antecedents have come good, beating down bastions in some cases and reclaiming their thrones in others, while going by the familiar monikers of ‘didi’ (sister), ‘behenji’ (sister…again) and amma (mother)…but they’ve done it and didi has won my affection in the bargain, despite my deep resentment for her generally unkempt look. After all she didn’t send goons to convince the populace to donate to her poll effort. She took a brush to it, quite literally, painting and selling her artworks, and earning her party 50 lakhs. If an elephant could do it so could she…and sorry but I’m not referring to behenji here. So the diminutive didi did it fair and she did it good but now we’ve got to go far from the mongering crowd of 24 Parganas and Jadavpur, from the land of ‘poribartan’ and didi who once crooked a snook at industry and now has her quizmaster playing ‘Getafix’, urging her erstwhile targets back home, the ghosts of Singur desperately being exorcised by offerings of god-knows-what. But ‘poribartan’ it needs to be if West Bengal is to rise again, if change has to be wrought. I only hope it’s not done at the expense of the rail ministry. Methinks a cabinet reshuffle should be in order, just to keep things clean…Ah well…as clean as it can be.
But we shall move on, side-stepping the elephantine land of our other ‘behenji’ as we head south, to the land of the caped wonder and the mother of us all… Amma, super-mum, who rises phoenix like from the ashes, expensive Kanjeevarams cloaked by an that all encapsulating burqa like cape, aided by her all-consuming and burning desire to be one-up on her deceased mentor and the greedy foibles of her nearest opponents in power and a zillion Tams willing to immolate themselves at the drop of her… oh, never mind.
My mom’s maid is Tamilian, and she’s on leave. It’s a periodic thing you see apart from the shorter stints she takes to meet family and friends every year. This one’s her standard election holiday. Conscientious I thought at first, we fatted and decadent city dwellers would do well to imbibe some of that passion I thought again and then I learned that it isn’t her sense of duty that drives her to her home town to vote every election year. Or rather it is… albeit a misplaced sense, the duty to claim her share of the booty being doled out. So while the Election Commission plays blind-man’s buff in the region, after all, as they say… you can’t really stop the people from expressing their love to our great political icons now can you? And then their cup naturally runneth over with such ardent outpourings that they would be deemed selfish if they didn’t spread some of that love around. Robin Hood take a hike…you’ve come into the wrong part of the woods.
So my mum’s maid is rich, she made a killing the last time around, with each political party trying to better the other. Forget the bartans (utensils), mixer-grinders and television sets being doled out like confetti. You get hard cash and in case you have a young daughter of marriageable age, a couple of tolas of gold as well. In fact the maid’s son just got a job in Mumbai, and she was relieved, so she wasn’t sure he’d be coming along… after all his boss refused to let him go, but then it would take him 10 months to earn at his job what he could make during that one week back home…so the job be damned. After all isn’t corruption called “bhrashtachar” in Hindi, which when broken down into its itty components is ‘bhrasht’ = debase, morally corrupt and ‘achar’ = pickle… a tasty condiment meant to spice up otherwise bland fare… Kinda fitting isn’t it.
So my mum’s waiting for her maid to return and expects a demand for a hike in salary, as befits her nouveau riche status. We are meanwhile contemplating a move to a cave in the hills somewhere far far away, where we’ll grow our veggies on a tiny strip of land that we’ll buy in some benami deal, away from free bartans and cries for poribartan, get a mule to take us to town to sell our produce after all with the petrol price going up, even the Nano refuses to start in silent comradeship and then we’ll do our own dishes, just in case the maid expects a Vaio in her Christmas bonus… Hai Amma.