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Friday, October 10, 2014

The Bhaiya Letters: Kaidi number 4702

My Dear Ammaji,

Finally after shedding lot of sweat, and making hole in the sole of my Bata chappal,  I am sending to you the Puja greetings enclosed in this letter. In these days of email -shemale, the post office in Bangaluru is taking on appearance of dodo, that dead bird of British Raj.  It took me damn long time searching for post office asking this one and that, but finally it is located like needle in the haystack. Last time my Uncle Bholanath found needle in haystack by sitting down on it and he caused awful commotion and much consternation and I am thinking that you remember well this incident.

Accept my respectful pranam and I am hoping you are in the pink of health after you have survived the pink eye condition. I am just coming from Chennai where many Madrasi ladies are going around with pink eyes, not because of the conjunctivitis, but because of conjunctions in the stars. Dusky Dravidian damsels are pink eyed because of weeping copiously over the misfortunes of their world famous Ammaji. One day Ammaji is the queen of Tamil Nadu, and next day she is cooling her high heels behind the bars of Parapanna  jail. So sad, because this Ammaji is heaping so much of happiness on heads of faithful followers: Sometimes free television, sometimes free cycle, one rupee kilo rice, and many others things free she is giving every time election is rounding the corner. Poor lady, she is only keeping one rupee of salary for herself, not like our netas in Bihar who are eating the fodder and keeping the cows in the air-conditioning! But who can ward off evil eye of green eyed jealousy monster from rival party who is doing much jadoo-tona and so putting corruption case against this Ammaji! (This Ammaji is looking so sweetly smiling from her poster not like sour-faced and pouting Didiji who only mutters ‘cholbe na!’. I am eyeing the  smiling face and I am thinking: How can judge be so stone hearted to send her to the grinding stone where she will make attafrom chakki for four years!)

Oh what a brave lady! For fourteen long years this damsel warded off the evil eye, with army of pundits, jyotishis, lawyers, liars, new shoes, and other worthy items. The fellow responsible for making the madras ladies teary eyed is called Subramaniam Swamy who has been eyeballing a political plum. Now in Chennai all the people in Ammaji’s party are warily eyeing one another while they are waiting to know who Ammaji has her eye on. But I hear that Ammaji’s eyes were occupied staring at the four walls of her single cell. They are calling her Kaidi number 4702!

This Ammaji is the female Lalooji of Tamil Nadu, mind it! I am sure you are remembering how our dear Lalooji also finally went behind the bars? This is kali-yug. They are acting like Raja Kans , but can prison keep the Raja of the Yadavs inside?  The bars bent just like butter and let out our makhan chor who is now moving with rosy cheeks hither and thither all over Bihar!

I hope this letter reaches you in good condition. Bengaluru is getting rather soggy, and it is not the winter monsoon. The babu at the post office counter is wetting the stamp with his tears. Not because of the Madrasi Ammaji. His eyes are leaking like a chai-chalni. He is getting this emotional because I am paying for postage stamp and he hasn’t sold a single one in the past six months.

With salutations and laying my weary head at your lotus feet,

Your very own

B.I. Hari ; Traveller at large.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Buck Passing, buckshot!

On Dusshera night... the fateful tenth night after the nine holy days ... a Novena of prayer rituals and abstinence for Hindus of the North of India.... there is a big community display where an effigy of the ten headed demon king is set off in a blaze of pyrotechnics. In the capital of Bihar, this spectacular Guy Fawkes event erupts at the Gandhi Maidan, Patna's Central Park [where people, animals, street vendors, cricket playing urchins, and loafers park themselves with gay abandon, but's that's another matter].

Anyhow, this time after the event, a rumour that a live wire had fallen somewhere sparked off a stampede that ended in some 32 deaths and several injuries. The administration seemed unprepared, and worse still, there never seems to be any strategy or protocol on how to deal with such emergencies. Now that the blight of terrorism and such has come to Bihar, one thinks that there should have been a plan for quick response and evacuation in case of any contingency.

There was none. Pitiful.

Shouldn't the Chief Minister be the one to resign instead of merely passing the buck by transferring police officials and administrative heads?
We're tired of watching this man react to situations as though he's a deer caught in the oncoming headlights of a tow truck.

No wonder the opposition and some of his own colleagues are pumping him full of buckshot.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Dear Dear! Sister Joan ....

What does one say about Sister Mary Joan SND?  

Apart from all the wonderful things that her many students and colleagues no doubt will recall about her, I for one will always remember the time one of her ferocious bloodthirsty hounds stalked me as I emerged from some NDCC late night production work and walked to the Notre Dame gate one winter night .

The brute promptly sunk its fangs into my new winter coat, ripping its sleeve. Had it not been for the prompt intervention of Ganesh, the night watchman, I’d either been eaten alive or probably have ended up pushing daisies, through sheer cardiac arrest. Within minutes the portly figure of dear Sister Joan emerged from the gloaming, she bore down on watchman, canine, and its victim reciting an  unending stream of ‘Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!’, and then she turned to me with an exasperated look, shaking her head.

“And what did you do to upset my poor baby?”  she demanded, cradling and caressing that slobbering animal who would have surely bitten off my arm had it not been for the thick padding in the coat.  The torn coat and the shattered and traumatised human being were of no concern to her. Her beloved dogs took pride of place. She was absolutely oblivious of serious the incident was. Her logic was simple. No visitors had any business being on the grounds of the convent once her dogs were let out.  And if happenstance one of her pets bit you on the bum, then you were entirely to blame for having flaunted your bacon!

Sister Joan had absolutely no sense of humour when it came to animals and that’s what made her so delightfully comic and over the top. Many a harried former student of Notre Dame Communication Centre will have a quirky story about Sister Joan and her precious dogs,  which, for a time were kennelled just outside our TV studio window!

There are a lot of us folk out there who can tell you that when it came to all God’s creatures, dogs were at the top of her list followed by cattle and pigs and squirrels and birds and she would stand up for them. And as for men, they were the one’s that fell from God’s grace. She clearly believed that they were usually guilty until proved innocent.

And the music!

You may get all mushy over how good she was at music. But let’s get real. Sister Joan was an absolute terror to several youngsters who would practice for the Sunday singing sessions. Impatient, impetuous, and imperious, she was as devastating as any diva of the Opera. But oh, how sweet it was on the rare occasions when one of the harried choristers received a smidgen of praise or a smile for finally hitting that impossibly high note! And Sister Joan’s smile, when it did make an appearance, was angelic.

Back from having laid her to rest, one gets the feeling that good sister Joan is probably comparing notes with my patron saint, Francis of Assisi, another songster and animal lover. I’m sure the two of them getting along like a house on fire.