Dear friend and patrons, by the time you read this post, I’d be rocking away to my old hometown in a still older train panting over the ancient tracks laid down by the British looking to save the Indians from the Indians. If you are the type given to bouts of anxiety over cruelty to animals, worry not. Before setting out on the clanging caravan of rusting steel, I have taken care to pay the premia due to the insurance companies and printed multiple copies of the receipts as proofs of payment, and planted them in the grocery cans, dressing table and wardrobes, and behind the cluster of conditioners in the bath for the benefit of the posterity. For the sake of legacy, I have written down the passwords of the wi-fi router, computer systems, Kindle, blog domains, Facebook and Twitter in a diary left in plain sight on the dining table.
To be fair to my infinitely better half, she had fought with me bitterly to get me on board the two-leg flight to the destination. What she didn’t know of course was the vegetative state of my bank account that wouldn’t survive another assault so close to the recent plundering triggered by who other than the Almighty Google with the launch of its wonder-phone called Pixel. As a recompense, I let the ‘Quite Black’ memorize a finger each of my wife and the twins. There is always the one in a billion chance the phone will be returned to the family by the onlookers (plunderers) of the crash site.
The bubonic plague misnamed ‘Election’ has returned to grip the badlands of my home province, along with a few others up north. The aspirants to the throne are going all out promising costly gifts to the freeloaders. These thermonuclear bombs are of both kinds, recurring and onetime: mobile phones, laptops, charity pensions, farm-debt waivers, reservations etc. But I guess the line between recurring and onetime is being increasingly obliterated with a bias towards permanence, as long as the lit fuse doesn’t ignite the core.
Of the 1,349 million people who are citizens of India, about 1,336 million do not pay income tax. Given the average household size of 4.8 and one bread-winner per household, one still has a ballpark figure of about 300 million who would rather not pay income tax, the rest being dependents. Now that is such a godawful number of freeloaders, or to put it in a politically correct phraseology, such a staggering count of poverty-stricken human heads, the shortest route to improve the poverty line is to turn them all into beggars and hence disqualify them from the statistics. And that precisely is the intention of the political parties contending for power in these provinces, raining freebies on the voters. Who said bribing was a crime in this ancient country?
Perhaps you are scoffing at my egregious cynicism, and if you happen to be one of the legalized mafia, you may want to silence my voice by hook or crook. Please spare your anger. Did I not say I am taking a long-distance train to somewhere? Wait, there is a back-up plan too! I intend to take yet another train on the return leg one week down the line…
It also gives me an idea, this recurring bother of train crashes and monetary compensations to be doled out to the victims —although I have forever wondered if they ever get fulfilled apart from the splash in the media at the time of announcements. We should tear apart the offending tracks, the engines and the bogies, the stations and the signalling system and the whole shebang and sell it all on the Internet to Alibaba. We are a tech-savvy nation, are we not? With luck, it might finance the insane greasing for a year or so. And when we reintroduce the bullock carts along those patches, we will not only be creating employment opportunities for the millions of jobless youth, but also producing more than enough bulls for Jallikattu.
(Jallikattu, practiced in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is a traditional spectacle in which a bull is released into a crowd… and multiple human participants attempt to grab the large hump of the bull with both arms and hang on to it while the bull attempts to escape. Participants hold the hump for as long as possible, attempting to bring the bull to a stop. In some cases, participants must ride long enough to remove flags on the bull’s horns. ~Wikipedia)