Sunday, October 30, 2011 14 comments

LULLED INTO “LAZINESS”


I was walking past a construction site near my house today when I happened to hear the workers speaking among themselves. Was that Hindi I wondered? I went closer and found that it was indeed Hindi- not just  Hindi of the Bollywood variety or the Deccani that is heard South of the Vindhyas but the Bihari style Hindi of the Indo Gangetic plains!

It is not just Bihari Hindi , I have heard during the course of my morning walks security personnel  outside  palatial houses, speaking on their mobiles in Oriya and I am sure all of us in Chennai are quite familiar with sales personnel in malls who are of North east Indian origin.

So, my question is- Why  so many migrant workers ? What happened to the local workforce? I mean we are not like the oil rich middle eastern countries where the locals occupy highly paid jobs while the poor from our country do the manual work. Are Tamil people going without work because of migrants or is the phenomena of migration a result of Tamil people not participating adequately in the labour market?

We had done a study last year of some tea plantations in the Nilgiris. Interestingly, all the owners told us that there is an acute shortage of local workforce. Many of them were employing migrant workers from Jharkhand! Further probing revealed that the  local population did not want to work in the plantations as they felt that the terms of employment were not attractive enough – this from workers in a sector that is pretty well regulated under the terms of the plantation labour act. While we did find that in some of the plantations there were problems in terms of adequacy of housing for the family in one of the plantations the conditions were extremely good- yet this was the place with maximum number of migrant labourers!

A friend of mine who owns some agricultural land in Thanjavur was complaining that he is unable to get workers these days during harvest. So he has got into an arrangement with a labour contractor who brings in migrant labour during harvest time.

I have been trying to understand what may be the causes behind this? Why are Tamil people not engaging in the work force? Someone tells me that Tamil Nadu is going the “Kerala” way where the labour market is extremely expensive. But Tamil nadu is a different case.  We do not have a shortage of labour on account of labour migrating out into foreign countries like in Kerala. I mean we do have people who migrate to Singapore and Malaysia but in terms of percentage of the population it is not comparable to Kerala. My guess is that most people who used to engage themselves in labour are very much here in the state but not working regularly.

Now the question is, if one is not working how does one feed oneself and one’s family? There are people who believe that with the huge subsidies that people are getting courtesy the state, the desire to work has been coming down. Food grains for the “poor”for example is free thanks to the public distribution system, in many cases housing is also free and now with the National Rural employment Guarantee Scheme one can get a moderate wage for not doing work! And to top it, we find that the government is also giving out consumer durables free! So where is the incentive to work?

There is another interesting side to this. With increasing literacy and access to education, the aspiration of the average Tamilian in the poverty category has changed. Today, they do not see manual labour as something that they want to do. But the question is , has education prepared them for any other sector? Let me give you the example of Kala who helps me out at home. Kala has a nineteen year old daughter who has completed her 10th standard ( well not really completed. She failed her board exams because she got two marks lower than the pass requirement in Maths says her mother). This girl was employed at a local department store doing the billing. After four months of working there she has quit. Her mother has been nagging me to get her a job in my office.  When I asked the girl why she had quit her answer was that she did not like to constantly stand on her feet and work. Her legs were “hurting”. I give her the example of her mother who in her fifties sweeps and swabs the floor in 4 houses in our neighborhood and ask her how the pain in her legs compares to that of her mother’s? The girl looked away sulkily. Kala, in the meanwhile keeps pleading with me for a job in my office where her daughter would sit under a fan or in a AC room. “Doing what?” I ask her?  She has no answer!

Now, before you start calling me a person with a feudal mentality, I would like to clarify that I am an individual who firmly believes in the rights of workers and in the dignity of labour. Tamil nadu as a state in that respect offers good working conditions for the person who is seeking work- it is obvious from the hordes of  people who are migrating! When I spoke to some of the Jharkhand migrant workers in Nilgiris they were all very happy with the working conditions here – “Much better than our village” said one of them.

So the question again is why are people here not engaging themselves in work and building on their ambitions to move ahead in life? Coming back to the point on aspirational levels, I can only say that the skills of the people do not match their aspirations. While education is something that has reached many in this state, unfortunately, the quality of this education leaves much to be desired. Besides, the skills imparted do not prepare the person for any jobs. So for a first generation educated person , it becomes infra dig to go back to manual labour. They feel they are destined for “better” things. But they fail to understand that whatever the sector they work in there is going to be pressure of a certain type. It may be in the form of standing long hours or working long hours. Your legs may hurt like Kala’s daughter’s or your eyes may hurt like mine! 

I guess that most of the people who are looking for “better quality work” are led by an image of a government job where one feels that there is little accountability. But believe me folks, for an industrious person even government jobs can be high pressure jobs with long hours. I have seen government officers working till 7 PM !  The first generation educated person has some dreams about jobs that they want. They are looking for trappings of a formal sector – a government job or a job in a factory like Ford or Hyundai. They fail to realize that even working in a semi formal place like a department store or a beauty salon can pave the way for professional growth! There is a beauty salon opposite my house. It is a swanky place and is obviously doing very well! One of the things that you notice the moment you enter there is that there  are absolutely no Tamil men or women among the employees ! All the people employed there are people from Darjeeling and the North East! “ I can’t depend on the local people. They are too unreliable” says the proprietor!

 I agree that in terms of bargaining power the employer holds all the cards while dealing with migrant labour, I still cannot feel a sense of regret to see an opportunity like this go out of the hands of my Tamil brethren! Imagine, if some girls had been working there, they would have picked up new skills and probably opened up something on their own resulting in development of strong entrepreneurship!

It is sad that the government keeps alive this attitude by pumping in more and more money in subsidy schemes that are increasing the spirit of dependence on the state! As a person who has been working in the development sector within this state, I can say with confidence that there is only a minuscule minority of people who lack access to food, health care or education in this state.As a person who works for a NGO, I have seen over the years the spirit of people's participation in our programs coming down. About a decade ago people were more forthcoming to contribute to the projects from their side either in cash or kind. For e.g if we spent Rs 100 on an activity Rs 10 or Rs 15 of it would be the community contribution. Today, I am sorry to say they do not want to contribute even a rupee though in terms of standard of living I do see an improvement.!

While I must say that the government of Tamil Nadu had a big role to playi  in the  development of the state , what I fail to understand is why  has it not translated in ambition and industry among people to build on what they got and move ahead ? Why are people continuing to fall back on the state?


Thursday, October 27, 2011 9 comments

A writer's dilemma

After over 365 days in the blogsphere, I did today what I usually do not have time to do - go blog surfing! However, I confined my search to fiction blogs. Why fiction blogs you may ask. I say why not?

Actually this interest in fiction blogs developed after I started my own fiction blog Kaleidoscope.  The site is about three months old and I frequently get guilt pangs about it being the proverbial neglected child. Writing fiction I realize is rather difficult. I mean, it is not like this blog where I can in a jiffy write out a couple of paragraphs on just anything that is on my mind. Fiction requires serious thinking and then etching out charchters. It also requires undisturbed writing time.. something that is a rarity in my life!  So, I was curious to see what other fiction writers were writing on their blogs!

It was a very interesting  journey to say the least. For example, I found people writing about murders, paranormal phenomenon and what not..! But the most common topic was - (you guessed right)- love stories.  While reading these love stories I suddenly felt rather old. I found I could not relate at all to these college canteen romances and valentine's day stuff.. ! I am wondering why? Some of these have been written in as many as 7 parts- each part if judging by the number of comments have obviously been very popular. Yet, I miss the depth in these narrations.. Or is this what love has come to be these days? Meeting at Cafe coffe day, studying for the physics exam together. Guy keeps following girl or vice versa..?

However there are a few fiction blogs which are really good. I would like to mention two such blogs -both written by individuals with initials KP- one of them a male and another female.  KP, the male writes on a variety of topics and his stories are short and racy! KP the female writes more intense stories and they  hold you revetted! Then there is another fiction blog written by my friend Anindita         " Ai Zindagi" - her stories are very unique and I am yet to find any other writer who compares to this style!

I sometimes struggle with my  stories particularly the editing bit. It is very difficult  to put  stories down in a few paragraphs.. they require elaboration - or at least my style of writing depends heavily on that! I am now wondering if fiction writing is  meant for blogs. Most bloggers I find are youngsters and I obviously do not write their kind of stories. (I guess their attention span is too short to run through the entire length of my story.) The older ones are more interested in issue based posts. So what is going to happen to the Jane Austen in me ?

I am sometimes amazed at the type of reactions I get to some of the stories I write. I mean I put my heart and soul into a story and I find it has not really attracted much attention and there are some which are not so great which generate a lot of interest. It is really curious the way people think. It is certainly not easy to predict. It is not like the Chronicles where I am sure that certain topics would generate a lot of interest while others may  not.

I remember an anecdote that I read in a book about R D Burman ( R D Burman- the man , the music). Apparently R D Burman had composed what he considered a very mediocre tune for the film " Love Story". This tune " Yaad Aaa rahi hai" went on to become a super hit! He is supposed to have told Amit Kumar " There is no telling what the public will like. Look at this stupid bhajan style tune.. it is now a super hit!" -that pretty much summarizes what I have to say!




Wednesday, October 26, 2011 9 comments

Little Ms "Purr "fect

She is all of thirteen and full of questions!!  She longs for independence but yet is home sick when she goes out on a school excursion for less than a week. She fights with me, she is embarrassed of me yet when she is feeling low it is me who she calls... Yes folks  this is Miss " Purr" fect my cat loving teenage daughter! This post is at her request dedicated to the love of her life- CATS!

Our home has always been a feline paradise.. we have cats walking in and out of various parts .. most of whom do not really come in the category of " Pets". Ever since my little one was really little she was fascinated by these creatures. I remember her as a toddler looking curiously at a cat - eye ball to eye ball as she crawled on the floor one day. The cat made the first move tapping the baby gently on her head with his paw! There have been occasions when I have found my little baby curled up with the current feline resident of the house.. fast asleep. " Get rid of the cats. They can cause diphtheria" someone told me. But it is easier said than done.

Given the huge abundence of these creatures in our home, it was only natural that Ms. "Purr" fect should become a cat lover. She has rescured number of cats from dustbins. We had "Snowy "who was nearly run over by a motorbike until our heroine let go of my hand running onto almost the middle of the road to pick up the cat. Snowy was more of a kitten than a cat. She was ill when she came to us. So we put her in a basket and took her to a snooty veterinary clinic next door. There was a form that we had to fill in out there. A snootier receptionist asked us " breed" ? My enterprising husband filled in "Alwarpet". Amidst all those persian beauties sat our scraggly Snowy waiting for shots.

Snowy was with us for a while until she disappeared. Then we had three kittens whose mother had apparently abandoned them in our loft - Fluff, Cotton and Patch! It is probably the most difficult thing on earth to look after kittens who have just about opened their eyes. We found that they could not lick and therefore placing a saucer of milk was useless.  Finally, we realized that the best way to feed them was through an ink filler. Point was that an inkfiller can only take in that much of milk .So it came to us  having to  feed them every alternate hour- yes even through the night! After three days of caring for them like this I found myself coming down with a severe allergy! I was unable to breathe, my skin was itching and I was constantly sneezing! A visit to the doctor confirmed what I did not even suspect - that I was severely allergic to cats.. So with a heavy heart we left them at the Blue Cross animal shelter.

Life went on for a while without feline interventions until a couple of days ago when Ms. " Purr" fect came home from school cradling a kitten in her arms. She went straight into the garage and hid the kitten in a shoe box among the million cartons there! Then began the rain and thunder in the evening along with the pre Diwali crackers! I found her ( the daughter)  crying bitterly... after some coaxing and cajoling she told me about the kitten " Poor thing it must be feeling so scared" she said sobbing. So we went out into the garage under an umbrella  armed with a torch. We could hear mewling but could not see the little thing anywhere..  After a quarter of an hour of  search I convinced junior that we should continue the search in the daylight. Daylight was something that we did not have the next day as the rain worsened. The mewling continued but we could not track the kitten...

Last  night as we were getting ready for bed.. junior had another one of her crying sessions. But of no avail.. we could not find the little fellow. ' Can I go on face book? " she asked me. " Yes. But be sure to turn off the computer by 10PM" I warned her. I was a little nervous. My husband was travelling and we were both alone at home. Our home is a huge rambling old house with a lot of trees in it! ( I had once ordered for Pizza and the Domino's guy had asked for directions. When I told him the address he asked me " Is it near that bhoot bangla?'. I guess I made him extremely nervous when I said that it WAS the " bhoot bangla" )

I suddenly woke up at 11PM and found the computer on and Ms " Purr" fect missing. I looked around in all the rooms but she wasn't anywhere around. Then I noticed the front door was open and someone prowling around in the compound with a torch- yes you guessed right- Ms. " Purr" fect was calling " kitty kitty" and finally pouncing upon it , lifting it from a bush below!

Releif, anger and worry all welled up together in my mind as she walked in triumphantly holding the kitten in her hand!

Right through the night she played mother to the kitten holding in her arms and coaxing it to drink milk.. I woke up in the morning to find one of my microwave containers ruined ( the base was burnt out). And when I went to take the clothes out to do the laundry I saw a pair of grey eyes looking at me curiously

" Shhh! dont scare him. I put him to sleep there inside the bathroom"  said the foster mum..!

Ms " Purr" fect is at the moment with " Patches" the new addition to the family getting him to drink milk out of  syringe. She had wanted to buy a feeding bottle but we told her that a syringe would be better. I have been warned by the husband to stay away from the new addition to the family  " We can do without another one of those allergy attacks" was the first thing he said when he saw the little fellow this morning!!!

My father seems very proud about what his grand daughter did last night. Apparently he has been bragging about her 'heroism"  to anyone who would care to listen!

She says that she must have been an Egyptian priestess in one her previous births. Cats were supposedly holy creatures in ancient Egypt ( this is news to me!). " They have followed me in every birth and I will care for them"  she says ... I wonder from where she has got this streak for the dramatic :-)?

( Happy Diwali to all my blogging friends!"
Saturday, October 15, 2011 8 comments

Machismo – the image trap!

It is surprising how much we human beings are conditioned by images. The  cigarette advertisements that I grew up watching during my teenage  showed a man dressed as a cow boy with a cigarette on his lips. I am sure women from my generation would remember swooning over Suresh Oberoi and Jackie Shroff who symbolized this “ideal man”! But the question that I would like to ask is whether this is what  being a man is all about?

During the course of the last week I was attending an international seminar where we were discussing issues relating to women’s empowerment and one of the key experiences that many of the participants brought to the table was the fact that –Women’s empowerment would not be possible without men’s engagement . We spent a lot of time discussing the challenge of engaging men.  One of the key barriers that seem to come about in the concept of engaging men was the entire social image construct of men – this thing called “machismo”. Machismo is a Spanish word  which  describes  an attitude ranging  from a personal sense of virility  to a more extreme male chauvinism. Characteristics include domineering, fierceness, bravado etc.  Most men are victims of this “image trap” which forces them to behave in ways that keeps this concept of chauvinism alive.

Having said that I would like to now examine how women perceive this machismo thing. I mean, do we women not find Suresh Oberoi and Jackie Shroff very appealing in those cigarette advertisements? I remember once asking some women in a village with whom we were having workshops about what was their concept of an ideal man and lo .. we heard it again “Strong, brave, responsible “! So you see friends this machismo thing is not something that men keep alive to be the dominant sex but something that we women find attractive – or should I say learnt to find attractive.. so when there is a demand for machismo and there is obviously enough of this going around!

Let us now look at the gentler side to men- what the Raymond ads are trying to promote ( upto a point I guess)-  Men who care for their mother enough to get a visa for her when they get a job abroad, or coming down from the stage to touch the feet of an old teacher during their wedding reception. Yeah, certainly positive images! But how much of this is real? To some extent among the urban educated middle classes we do have men who are caring enough to help out at home but when I go to the villages I still see this machismo thing very much alive! I see men who twirl their moustaches and spend time with other men discussing I don’t know what and come back home drunk and beat up their wives!  Can nothing be done about this?

I don’t know because we have not really done anything to talk to men about this but some of our colleagues in Africa have an interesting project where they began work with a few men and tried to get them to change. And the few who changed were used as role models within the villages where this campaign was on to change other  men.

This is an interesting idea that appealed a lot to me. If an image is trapping men into being something that is so negative then it is important to work on the image and not the prisoner! I remember some people make snide remarks about my father who used to be a very tough boss “ this man is like this here in office. Go home and you will know who is the boss “! This was because at work my father was trying to subscribe to his machismo image – the tough boss etc but at home he was being himself- a kind father and a caring husband! In his generation, I guess it was important to keep the public image of machismo alive!

But the question that we need to reflect upon is whether men are willing prisoners of this image? My late mother-in –law used to be very annoyed whenever I asked my husband to carry our daughter when we used to go out. “Why don’t you bring the maid along so she can carry the child”? used to be her question. For women of her generation I guess it  used to be extremely embarrassing to see a son having to carry his own child in public!!! It took me over ten years of marriage to break this thing down and get him to do a lot “non macho” things which I find now he enjoys a lot – e.g washing clothes ( he has a fetish for cleanliness, you will be amazed to see the array of cleaning fluids he invests in), making coffee ( again a passion.. he makes better coffee than even my own mother!) , baking..!!! Both of us now feel very liberated!  He because he does what he can to help me out particularly in activities that he loves and me because I get someone to share in my burden of housework!


It is amazing the extent to which we human beings can go to keep society happy ! I know it takes a lot of courage to break out of stereotypes but once someone does, it is important we acknowledge the person and their courage to do it. We also need to understand and appreciate  what they gained out of this liberation. If bravery is a masculine attribute then breaking a stereotype is also an act of bravery! Respect is not a trait that is reserved for elders alone. We need to respect peers, partners and life partners! Violence gets us nowhere…! If someone only took an account of the cost of violence in economic terms we would find that it is a sizeable amount of our GDP! So a man who is not being violent is actually contributing to the GDP- being a responsible citizen!!

True masculinity lies in the heart and the head of the man. It is exhibited in terms of caring and sharing in life with one’s partner, parents and the community. It manifests itself in terms of questioning injustice and doing the right thing. It calls for gentleness and patience.

People like to call Shri Ram as “Maryada Purushottam” or the ideal man but I would like to reserve my comments. The ideal man is still evolving!

Thursday, October 6, 2011 16 comments

VASUDAIVA KUTUMBAM

“ Vasudaiva Kutumbam”   is a beautiful Sanskrit phrase which  means – “The whole world is my family”.  It refers to the concept of inclusion.  In fact when I did a small research on the internet about the ancient Hindu philosophy and its thoughts on inclusion I found that the Hitopadesha says in  verse 1.3.71 that  it is only a very narrow minded person who thinks “ This is my relative and that is a stranger” ! But it is sad that despite the fact that our ancient texts speak about community living and inclusion, we are repeatedly guilty of exclusion.

 So, what is it that excludes a person from a sense of community? Yes, caste and religion are important exclusionary factors which tells you who is accepted and who is not. But what about factors that integrate-  a shared language or culture? Does that work for us?

I have tried to analyze this using the examples from two states in India that I am reasonably familiar with – Bengal and Tamil Nadu. It does not in any way indicate a bias either positive or negative. It is just because I have had personal experiences of inclusion and exclusion within these two cultures that I am using them as illustrations.
I grew up in Bengal spending the first fifteen years of my life there. I try to recollect whether I was in any way excluded by the fact that I was not a Bengali. I don’t think so. In fact, people used to take every effort to include me in everything.  I  found something very unique about Bengal- the pride in the language was so strong that it really succeeded in bringing people together. You can see this by the way Bengalis across the world celebrate Durga Puja- every Bengali ( and some others like me.. ) comes together to celebrate this festival in the true spirit of community living. It is very interesting but the festival is probably more cultural than religious . Though I guess only Hindus celebrate it, I have never sensed a feeling of caste based exclusion in any of this ( though I guess the rich poor division may be there to some extent) in all the forty odd years that I have seen this festival being celebrated. Language is used so strongly to build the sense of  identity  as a community it is to be seen and experienced to be believed! Bengalis probably are the only people who have not taken yet to speaking in English at home. With language being the common denominator that binds them, it is only natural that people take pride in  what is accepted as a common culture.  As far as I understand there is no system of mainstream of subaltern cultures. Infact language and culture extends across boundaries with Tagore and Nazrul being accepted by Bengalis on both sides of the border. Food, again is fairly homogenous- there is no concept of caste based vegetarianism – every body eats “ Machh Bhat” ( rice and fish)  “ The state has had a history of social movements” say some of my friends with whom I have discussed this. True but social movements alone cannot build inclusion !

Let us look at Tamil Nadu. It is very strange but this state is probably more pluralistic than we think it is. For example- there is a strong caste based divide – Brahmin vs Non Brahmin. Then I guess there are religious divisions too. It is funny but even Tamil as a language is caste specific. The Tamil that a Tam Brahm speaks is completely different from what the rest of the state speaks ( this .. even after discounting for regional dialects which are only but natural).  This therefore becomes the first layer of exclusion.  If you speak the Tam Brahm lingo and you are in a non Brahmin setting you are marked as someone different and if you do not speak this lingo in a Brahmin setting you are seen as a “not one of us” ! Culture therefore becomes very fragmented. You have Carnatic music which is largely patronized by the Brahmins unlike Rabindrasangeet or Nazrul Geet which is sung by all Bengalis- Hindu or Muslim – Indian or Bangladeshi! In fact I have seen some Carnatic music teachers hesitate to take as their students people belonging to other castes and  religions!

There are no festivals which are celebrated as a community.   Pongal is a harvest festival but really, it is more an individual celebration and again the importance varies depending on whether you belong to a caste that has strong agrarian roots or not. Of course if you are a Christian or Muslim your festivals are defined by your religion- but what amazes me is that even among Hindus within the state there is nothing that passes for a common festival that can be celebrated together as a community!

It is surprising but this state which also had a social movement in the 1960s did not actually succeed in doing away with caste based divisions and issues that social movements are generally expected to. If anything it only succeeded in accentuating caste divides. It tried to bring about what it called a “ Dravidian” identity but sadly.. this identity continues to perpetuate caste. The movement targeted a particular caste which migrated out into other states and now other countries . In terms of numbers this so called upper caste is  probably a very small minority in the state now. They continue to practice caste based discrimination but their decision to opt out from the power hierarchy  has just diminished this sense of the “ other” that was being attacked. They are just too insignificant now..! But has this stopped caste atrocities in this state? No- Scheduled castes continue to be terrorized and denied temple entry in districts like Sivagangai. The “ oppressor” caste has only been replaced by another.

There is this concept that we hear of in sociology which says “ self exclusion” . This comes as a reaction to “ forced inclusion” which the Central Government sought to do through introduction ( it is often referred to as “ imposition” )of Hindi. In its efforts to fight  “ Hindi” the state became very jingoistic about its language and its culture- the concept of what is called the “ radical left becoming like the radical right” So what we have now is a completely closed mind to accepting anything that is not Tamil. Even FM radio in Tamil Nadu does not play Hindi songs..!! How is this state going to survive in a market economy which calls for dealing with people from different places and cultures?

Now coming back to this thing about the whole world being my family how is it possible if we are not able to come together using what are considered relatively neutral variables like language and culture? From a lived experience I can say that though I am a Tamilian by birth ,the kind of discrimination that I have experienced in this state as a so called native is something I never experienced in Bengal.  So I guess I am a stranger here! I have been trying for ages to understand what constitutes a Tamil identity and I am still struggling..!

While I am not saying that all is hunky dory with Bengal.. but at least I can say with confidence that some of these  parameters of exclusion are not practiced so publicly and there are therefore lesser divides! I know that wearing a Jamdani sari would not make someone Bengali just as putting jasmines on one’s hair makes a person Tamil.. And what is more worrying is that if we are not able to come together in terms of a shared identity even within one sub culture then what are our chances of accepting a person who is not part of it? So, obviously the whole world is not going to be my family! We are constantly going to define ourselves by defining the other!

The concept of inclusion defines a society as broad minded.  If we are proud of our culture we should try to include as many as possible within it. What is so special about it that it has to be kept away and protected by Iron gates from that  “stranger” ?


Saturday, October 1, 2011 13 comments

RAB NE BANA DI JODI- A match made in Heaven



Jaya weds Naren” scream all the posters around Chentai the capital city of Tumblenadu.  The city has been decorated with floral arches and all traffic has been stopped on the way to the bride’s house. The government has declared a holiday for all - God forbid if you work today.! Your office will be smashed. Our bridegroom has assured his beloved that he will bring with him the  most experienced rioters in his baraat,, just in case..! 

Giant sized cardboard cut outs of the bride dressed in different traditional attires of Tumblenadu soar up to the skies casting eerie shadows over the vehicles that pass over the various flyovers…!

Power has been drawn out of electrical transformers along the city to keep those fairy lights twinkling . “We have a lot of experience in drawing unauthorized power like this for public functions. We did this in 1996 and are ready to do it again after a decade and a half ”  boasts the Chairman of the Tumblenadu Electricity Board.

The bride sits resplendent in a red sari, loaded with jewellery while holding  an exclusive interview with a journalist from “Starblast” at her palatial residence. Jaya looked as beautiful as Indra’s Airavat! Her 40 inch waist is clasped in a gold belt weighing over 10 kgs ( a minor aberration to her 150 kg weight). Her one foot wide face is blushed red. (is she shy or is her BP soaring?).

The white haired and bearded groom grins happily adjusting the saffron scarf around his neck.

“So how did this happen”?  asks  Silicoanne Simi  from Starblast stretching her botoxed face into a wide smile.

“I have always admired Naren. He is the most dynamic Chief Minister in India. Never cared about anything including –democracy and secularism. I respect his ideology”  says Jaya looking fondly at Naren.

“ Well, who would have thought that I can receive a proposal from a film star and that too in my sixties? My imagination has always been fired by plump women. Unfortunately women from my state do not come in that ready made state of plumpness. One has to wait through a few years of marriage before they achieve those mammoth proportions. But  this is more than just plump.. she is positively obese. My cup overflows with happiness ” said Naren smiling.

 Silicoanne arches an already stretched eyebrow raised through various face lifts. “So who proposed to whom?”

“  I did …! I sent a letter to him through my two party workers  seeking  his hand in marriage. “ says Jaya never one to let go of  control over a situation. “I was so troubled about all that fasting. I mean it is not going to do any good things to his health is it? He needs someone in his life to guide him and look after him. With all these cases and activists against him. my poor baby can hardly spare any time for anything else . Look at my state how well I have managed to keep people sated with liquor, mixers and grinders!”

“ Oh sweetheart you are the best! You know Silicoanneji I just  LOVE megalomaniacs. No woman leader in our country is as power crazy as her. Give her the chance and she can demonstrate her capacities to spread terror among people just like me” says Naren proudly

“What about Mayawati or Mamata? Are they not interesting?” asks Silicoanne.

 “ Oh not Mayaben. I cant keep hopping into jets to go sandal shopping. And Mamtaben,,, I am afraid of her after the Nano episode. Jayaben is better. She can speak English, she is convent educated and she shares my ideology”

“Ben…you mean sister  “ asks Silicoanne puzzled..

“ Well.. Amma then. I respect  women too much! I cant think of them in any other way” retorts  Naren

“ Naren.. I told you  those khaki shorts you wear are dangerous! Now look what they  have done to you!  Goodness knows how long you have been wearing them! ” says Jaya with concern.

“Ok Naren bhai.. tell me what do you think about her relationship with MGM?”  Silicoanne  asks, eyes gleaming expecting a quote on this ..

“MGM ? He was her mentor. He treated her like his sister even though he did not wear khaki shorts” says Naren with a loud guffaw.

“Considering both your ages, what are your plans about starting a family” asked Silicoanne slyly.

Jaya “ No problem there is always Dr.Kamala Selvaraj and GG hospital. I knew her father personally. So she will make sure that she picks out our best genetic codes in that test tube of hers.” .

“And if that does not work we can always fall back on the surrogate mothers. Remember my state has the highest numbers of surrogate mothers” says Naren proudly!

Silicoanne’- “So what can we expect in terms of benefits for the people of  the two states as a result of this matrimonial alliance”

“20% off on all liquor procured from our state run liquor outlet- this would apply only for my inlaws. My gift will quench the thirst of the people from this  dry state. Dhoklas to be included as part of the menu in the noon meal scheme for children in our state”  says Jaya with a smile..

“And ahem.. what about Suryakala”? asks Silicoanne

“ What about her? She is very much part of my life. We are after all good friends. Naren is going to accept me with her We will be a happy threesome” says Jaya emphatically indicating the subject as closed.

Even a worldly wise Silicoanne looks shocked..

Enter Captain V. Kanth “Everyone is ready. Come on  Thalikatta time acchu..”  Jaya ambles along putting the elephants of Thrissur pooram to shame..

 “Who is going to do the kanyadaan?” asks Silicoanne unable to resist herself.  “ The captain. He is her only surviving family member” Naren adjusts his saffron scarf and follows.



Well,, what can I say? This is certainly a match made in heaven!
 
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