Unfortunately, yesterday I had to visit this ‘Sarkari Daftar’, for a fateful encounter with this unique specimen of human species which is ubiquitous to the Indian offices and named ‘The Saheb’, not withstanding his official designation. A sour faced gentleman, clad in a steel grey to blue to some thing in between colored safari suit (unofficial Indian Sarkari office wear) which barely managed to contain the huge bulge of his tummy, putting tremendous strain on the buttons which threatened to anytime bombard my face like sharpnels waiting to explode. Sitting there on a creaking old chair, beneath an equally creaky old fan with an impossibly long stem which could vault you well over the Mount Everest.
Saheb was in no position to answer to my enquiries ( no he didn’t ask to be bribed right away ) because his mouth was stuffed full, as if he had swallowed a whole rat, and the hemorrhage spilled out onto his already soiled safari. Saheb Ji was actually ruminating rather leisurely on India’s favorite mouth freshener the Pan. But he finally decided to oblige me by very slowly getting out of his chair and taking exactly six steps sideways to the nearest window (this slow motion shot lasted for a good 5 minutes, unedited) fired a bright red colored spit missile out of the window into the office compound where it caught an innocent victim unawares, soiling red his spotless white kurta.What followed was a volcanic eruption of abuses which later led to a tornado of hands and fists.
Rang de Basanti
This Spit missile is actually as lethal as the Agni Missile used by this contingent of pan chewing Indian troops for a surface to surface combat . And why just the humble pan, the guthka, the khaini, the kharra etc are variations of the same Agni spitting missile and a big national menace. I don’t need to elaborate on the carcinogenic properties of these slow poisons which claim millions of victims each year. The consumers are well aware and still prefer to put their lives on the line of fire. ‘Lekin Shauk Badi Cheez Hai’ and this Shauk not only gives the devourer serious health hazards but also a bad case of halitosis and us to cope up with this effulvious attack of biological warfare on our senses.
Speaking of odors, come summer and I pray to Almighty that he spares me from this creed of sock adorning gentlemen. It is the most potent of the array of the biological weapons at man’s disposal, and if your olfactory nerves have been spared this offensive ambush, then count yourself truly blessed.
Surr ke piyo
Just the other day, I was invited to a ‘Prasadam’ with everyone sitting crossed on the floor to consume this ‘Satvik’ fare out of disposable, thermocol plates. (Of course Satvik and thermocol don’t go together but never mind) It could have been a pleasurable affair, had it not been for the Symphony of sounds around me, with an elderly gentleman slurping his dal with a 250 horse power machine, to accompany him on this jugalbandi was another ustaad who was a master at producing this plethora of sounds of masticaton with almost super human ability. And to add do my discomfiture as I walked out of the venue, the whole area was flooded with disposables and plastic.
Talking of slurping, it is a national habit and to slur at our Chai making that surrr sound is like actually paying a compliment to the brew and the brewer.
Vriksh Lagao Desh Bachao
Each an every child in this country has atleast once in his school life written this essay, it’s an all time favorite with our hindi teachers ‘Vriksh lagao Desh bachao’. As a child I often wondered how these roadside trees grew, who planted them and who watered them? I didn’t have to dig much to get my answers because gentlemen of this great nation of ours, my desh bandhus are such noble souls that they have taken the onus upon themselves to regularly water these plants. And since we are such nature loving people we love to go back to nature when ever the nature calls.
We The People
That brings us to the lesser of the crimes, swear by your mothers, haven’t you at any point of time thrown a chocolate wrapper, a banana peel in the olden days or a banana chips packet these days as our baba log don’t eat the humble bananas anymore, or something equally innocuous on the roads. Well, I have, but only after making sure that no one’s watching. It’s in our genes to keep our houses clean and streets dirty. The humble zhola or thaila that we took out to shop for essentials has also met it’s grave, only to be replaced by plastic. And my sisters, swear by your sons didn’t you use your sadi ka pallu to pat your hands dry or to mop your brow. We are people of habits, deeply entrenched ones. And does education have any bearing on these habits is a debatable question. Or is it just a general apathy towards an issue which we feel is trivial, because we are like that only!
We have these numerous yojnas which our government comes up with each year. This Nirmal Gram Yojnas , Swatch Bharat Abhiyan and a host of more such which keep cropping up like mushrooms in the rains. The basic crux of each remaining same, each one with a bigger and brighter packaging and branding. The latest entrant is the much hyped ‘Swatch Bharat’ with a tag line ‘ek kadam swachta ki oar ‘. But we either stop at that first step or take one step forward and ten backwards. Why do we need all these yojnas to come out clean, remains my question. Why do we need encouragement and incentives for something which is a basic necessity and which our twisted Indian Jugadu mind seizes as an opportunity to make money out of. An entire village buys a single toilet seat, each one fits the same seat in their houses till the time of inspections and both the inspecting and inspected party end up making money from this whole plot and then go back to the beckoning of nature.
No amount of coaxing or coercion can work unless we work on our own crooked minds that are capable of turning any well meaning scheme into a profit making venture. If atall there has to be some yojna, it has to work on our minds and make them Nirmal or we wait till the time plastic floods into our very life lines, clogging up our rivers and stifling the lives out of us. We wait for a catastrophe to happen. A nasty blow to jolt us out of our slumber.