Friday, June 30, 2006

Varanasi notes - The hopeful

The train groaned to its final stop with a shudder 35 hours after it started, and its inhabitants escaped their cell in a furious rush. I met my interview subject, a local hopeful politician, a few hours later on the steps of a hotel. He was dressed in a safari suit, had shiny hair and a pandit's ponytail, and between his eyes was a red holy mark the size of a thumb print. As I approached, his eyes narrowed, the edges of his mouth curled up, his nostrils flared tensely, and his moustache bristled. It suddenly struck me that he was smiling.

***

The road to the hotel was blocked due to a rath yatra. So we took a shortcut but that was blocked too because of a mob that filled the street from edge to edge. It was a happy mob, the kind that would lower its voice in good neighbourhoods. But then they were screaming and laughing, perhaps at the demand they were making: that Sanskrit should be India's official language.

***

No more Valentines day if I come to power, the hopeful said. How would you like it if someone gave your sister a rose, he asked. I replied it was up to her. Wait and see, he said, see how you feel when someone really does it. It's like a drug. It messes your mind. It's not in our culture.

***

"Chhota prasad le aao," the hopeful said to his right-hand man in a tea shop. The man returned ten minutes later, gingerly holding a joint.

***

Everywhere he goes, people give him things for free. Tea, hotel meals, boat rides. "You can see how much people love me," he often said. But people who love him stay far too quiet. My gut feeling is that the man's a goon.

***

What kind of a man is he? The sub-inspector thinks it over and smiles. "He's not a criminal, and he's not a politician either. He's somewhere between the two, if you know what I mean."

8 comments:

amit varma said...

Immense rockacity! Keep blogging, fun comes.

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

Lovely observations! Looking forward to the rest of it. Btw what is rockacity?

Filmiholic said...

Something that is just absolutely, totally rocking?

amit varma said...

Rockacity: Condition of rockaciousness, often known to afflict Bhatias who promise to buy temples.

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

filmi, amit - many thanks. (rahul - you aren't planning tp buy the temple in honour of Khusboo by any chance?)

Rahul said...

Buying? Who said anything about buying? In Varanasi, we steal.

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