Coasting to Gold

Above: Illustration by Anthony Lawrence ~By Dilip Bobb The usual media hype has accompanied the Indian contingent to the Commonwealth Games being staged in Australia’s appropriately named Gold Coast. India’s gold tally is already being talked about without much objectivity in the analysis. A genuine gold rush would have been possible if the Indian selectors had chosen the following superstars who truly excel in their chosen sport. The alternative Indian team would include: Smriti Irani/Backstroke:  She has been swimming against the tide lately, straining to get ahead of the pack by pushing herself to the limit and trying to break records set by other stalwarts like Rajiv Gandhi and Vasundhara Raje. Like her, they too wound up doing the backstroke after their attempts at freestyle came to naught. The lessons here were obvious: trying to create a splash by intimidating inconvenient opponents can lead to disqualification, and, number two, always consult the coach before switching disciplines. Salman Khan/Shooting:  The aim was always dead on—to use superstardom to showcase being human. However, if the courtside judges have got him dead to rights, then his original aim was off and, even if he did hit the target, the buck now stops with him.…
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Terms of Endearment

~By Dilip Bobb Like politics and the global economy, cricket is also experiencing the Great Churn as the ball tampering issue scrapes the gloss off the sport. Ball tampering is only one side of the story. Today, everything we say and do and participate in is a state of flux, or a flux up state, including being up for sale to the highest bidder. All this has created a new terminology as the latest edition of the Cambridge Dictionary, renamed Cambridge Analytica, reveals. Here are the latest terms to get endeared to. Ball Tampering: An exercise in which old terms are rubbed out and replaced by new words that reflect the mood of the moment in a more appropriate fashion (statutory warning: will be understood by cricket lovers only). As example, ball tampering would now describe a community which is morally Bancroft. It also refers to something that is in Starc contrast to the spirit of the game. Could they not see it Cumming? The desperation to make it a one-sided affair has only caused universal Paine. Do they have no Shane? What motivated them to cross the Border? These questions will now be subjected to the DRS system which now stands for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.…
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A Sorry Sight

~By Dilip Bobb Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched the trend by a flurry of apologies to various people he had insulted, then we had Navjot Singh Sidhu saying sorry to former PM Manmohan Singh for some unkind cuts he had essayed in his earlier BJP avatar. Who else needs to say sorry? Actually, it’s quite a long list. Mark Zuckerberg to Ravi Shankar Prasad: The founder and CEO of the social media giant must be quaking in his sneakers after being threatened by Ravi Shankar Prasad, who reminded Zuckerberg, one of the world’s most influential and richest tycoons, that he was India’s IT Minister, and therefore needed a more abject apology than others, and not on Facebook but in person, since, mark his words, he could be summoned to India. If only Prasad could do the same for Mallya, Nirav, Choksi and the many other absconders living abroad on public money, we would all fold our hands in gratitude. Kejriwal to Whosoever is Concerned: At last count, there were 33 individuals (not counting Delhi’s Chief Secretary) who the CM has apologised to, or has sent IOUs to. He is doing so at the rate of around one a day so he should be through in a month, trying to save himself from defamation cases in various courts, not to mention legal costs and damages if found guilty.…
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The Ten Commandments

By Dilip Bobb The original Commandments were handed down on stone tablets and were ten rules for people to lead a satisfying and fulfilling life. Today, that translates into acche din and is inscribed on a tablet PC. Only by following them could one reach the promised land, or moksha. Here are the new Ten Commandments adjusted for inflation and the new rules of politics.   There is Only One God. Thou shall worship no other God than me, for fear of being ostracised, arm-twisted or declared an anti-national. There are other pretenders to the throne but I am the only one with “Wave” and “Magic” after my name. Be like the NRIs and the bhakts and chant my name multiple times whenever doubts creep into your mind or when other creeps declare themselves rivals to my rule. Doubting Thomases are to approach Amit Shah, Yogi Adityanath, Sambit Patra, Arnab Goswami or members of FICCI for therapeutic consultations. Thou Shalt Not Lose an Election. In the BJP Bible it is written, “When elections are lost, let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving”. Here are the golden rules to follow in the rare event of losing an election: Blame it on an “unnatural alliances”, warn voters in upcoming elections of the dangers of a “khidchi” alliances, and blame caste factor for losses, as loud as we trumpet “vikas” when we win.…
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Modi versus Modi

~By Dilip Bobb In drawing rooms, on mass public transport, gyms and offices across India, recent events have triggered a heated debate about Modi and whether he has overextended himself. This has led to arguments, fist fights, chain snatchings, road rage, divorce appeals raids and riots. The situation is best illustrated in a conversation between two colleagues in the office canteen. Here it is, verbatim, or verbadin.  First Colleague: Here’s the burning question. Are your parathas warm enough? Yes, as I was saying, this Modi issue… Second Colleague: I agree, things are warming up, including the parathas. First Colleague: On the subject of Modi, there were some warning lights that no one seems to have noticed. Or if they did, they were complicit in their silence.  Let’s chew on that. Second Colleague: Quite delicious, my compliments to your wife, but as I was saying, this Modi magic was creating waves. First Colleague: I agree but the luster is now gone. Can you pass the pickle? Second Colleague: Yes, he does seem to find himself in a bit of a pickle, but I am one of those who believe that he is highly successful at his job, he has taken us to a new level of acceptance, he has earned a lot of goodwill here and abroad, he is regularly featured in the list of powerful people and he is spreading his name and fame in different parts of the world.…
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The Last Post Mortem

By Dilip Bobb It’s Just Not Cricket. What that refers to is the performance of the Indian cricket team in South Africa. The performance of our batsmen can best be described as hero to zero, or ducks in a row. Many fans are waiting for the Last Post to be played so recent memories of the horror tour can be laid to rest but Captain Virat Kohli is also conducting his last post mortem (last as in latest) with the players. This is how it went. Kohli: You know what you guys are missing—balls. Outside the off stump, on the middle stump, leg stump, and also you know where. As I said in the press conference, it’s a question of intent. What do you guys intent to do about this in the remainder of the tour? Ravi Shastri: I only have four words for you guys, b*****m**** Murali Vijay: That’s the best advice I ever got from any coach in my career. Coming from the south, my Hindi is not that good. Does that mean front foot or back foot? Kohli: I doubt the batsmen in this team know one from the other, judging by the way you have been getting out.…
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New Year Resolutions

~By Dilip Bobb It’s now almost traditional among people of all faiths to faithfully record their resolutions for the year ahead and resolve issues that remained unresolved in 2017. It is, necessarily, an individual choice except in the case of certain organisations that believe in communal activity. Here are the more prominent of the individuals with their promises for the year ahead: Narendra Modi: If the mountain will not come to Modi, Modi must go to the mountain. After Davos, it is back to Bharat to make a tryst with destiny and redeem my pledges for 2018. One is to wipe the tears from the eyes of all my Muslim sisters suffering from the evils of male dominance. I have always believed that one man cannot decide for so many. My other resolution is to ease the burden of my mitron in Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland, Karnataka, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan by offering them financial support, subsidies and sops. I will be doing this in person, like Santa Claus, by making frequent visits to these states. The fact that they are having elections in 2018 is merely coincidental. Remember my 2014 resolution, sabka saath, sabka vikas. Rahul Gandhi: I pledge to visit more temples.…
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Star Wars—Episode 2017

~By Dilip Bobb Dickens got it spot on—‘It was the best of times, it was    the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.’ It sums up 2017 perfectly and, like every year, had its winners and losers. Here they are in no particular disorder. Person of the Year: Rahul Gandhi, for battling tremendous odds, some self-created, to end the year with his honour and reputation greatly enhanced. Without splitting heirs, it’s clear that there’s a new Raga being played and it is quite captivating. We can debate his Hindu credentials till the cows come home to the gaushala but his remarkable transformation is like watching Clark Kent turn into Superman. And to think it all started with a puppy, (not Pappu) called Pidi! Villain of the Year: Vijay Mallya, the Kingfisher of Good Times, now a fugitive whose legendary flamboyance looks more flame than buoyant these days when spotted outside the Magistrates court in London. We now know that his extravagant lifestyle and hobbies like collecting luxury cars and high end property was funded by the Rs 9,000 crore he owes the banks but having spent most of his life at bars, a few more behind them should have a familiar feel.…
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Magic Carpet Ride

~By Dilip Bobb There’s magic in the air these days, and Gogia Pasha and PC Sarkar, both lamentably late, have nothing to do with it. The new magic has extraordinary powers which are more temporal than spiritual although it does create mass hypnosis which convinces mass gatherings, like election crowds, for instance, to blindly believe in the superhuman powers of the performing artist. A visit to a Magic Mall reveals the secret props that magicians use. Visitor: What are these strange objects you are selling? They look like miniature round tables. Stall Owner: You have excellent eyesight, these are also called toadstools, but the tables have turned. What you see here are magic mushrooms. Visitor: Mushrooms sound much better than toadstools, but what’s so magical about them? Stall Owner: Fair question. You need to consume just five mushrooms a day and you will acquire a wheatish complexion, like in the matrimonial ads. Forget Fair and Lovely, magic mushrooms are the best way to turn dark skin into fair. Visitor: How much do they cost? Stall Owner: The magic ones are imported from Taiwan and they cost Rs 80,000 a piece. Visitor: Rs 4 lakh a day! Who can afford? Stall Owner: Prime Ministers.…
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Finding the Link!

~By Dilip Bobb The entire country is in a panic following orders from the GOI—government of India or Mai Baap as some call it—that you need to link your Aadhaar number to all the services you enjoy and pay for, private and public, otherwise they will be cancelled. In other words, you will cease to exist. In fact, if the threat is carried out, you may as well be dead since you will have no means of support. An exchange of messages between a citizen and service providers explains the crisis. Citizen: Hello, is that Idea, I have given my thumbprint at your office… Service Provider (SP):  What an idea Sirji… Citizen: I meant I have responded to your repeated messages and calls asking me to link my Aadhaar  number to my mobile phone. I did this a week ago, so why am I still getting those messages warning that my mobile service will be switched off? SP: For language, press 1, for pre-paid connection, press 2, for post-paid connection, press 3, for new connection, press 4, for bill inquiries, press 5, for add- on services, press 6, to make a payment, press 7…. Citizen: What do I press to speak to a human being?…
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Queen for Two Days

~By Dilip Bobb So overwhelmed was Ivanka Trump by the red carpet welcome she received on her recent trip to India, treated like royalty plus, that she just had to send her father, President Donald Trump, a letter describing what she was experiencing. The White House, as we know by now, has been leaking like a jhuggi in a cyclone, so the missive duly found its way to the media. Trump promptly denounced it as ‘fake news’ but the lavish praise for her hosts and experiences could only have come from his favourite daughter. Excerpts: ToPresident Donald J TrumpOval OfficeWhite House1600 PennsylvaniaAvenue NWWashington, DC Dear Dad, Am writing this from this fabulous place I have discovered called Hyderabad. I am surrounded by cats but no dogs—by cats I mean Black Cats, the Indian equivalent of the Secret Service except they openly carry their weapons and dress all in black, like our SWAT teams. These guys look like they could swat anything that comes in my way, except there’s nothing in my way, I can see for miles and there isn’t a soul around. I asked someone where all the people of Hyderabad were and I was told not to worry, they have been given a national holiday in honour of my visit and told to stay at home.…
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Soft Targets

~By Dilip Bobb It’s not just soldiers on the northern borders who are in the line of fire, a whole range of people have become soft targets of late, despite the fact that some are dead or fictional characters. Everyone has become an instant expert on ancient history, morality, limits of freedom and the sacred values of a cow, which basically means that being Indian has acquired a new matrix.  Here are the new targets—some soft, some hard, some dead and some who never even lived. Film Producers and Actors:  Rarely does a movie get such bad reviews and brickbats even before anyone has actually seen it. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati has got Rajput filmgoers ready to draw blood and cut off lead actor Deepika Padukone’s nose over what is actually a fictional character. No one has seen the movie yet but in today’s political and cultural milieu, believing is as good as seeing. It’s clearly a case of cutting off the nose to spite the face but we are in a period when facts, or lack of them, do not stand in the way of a good agitation, the bloodier, the better. A self-appointed guardian of Rajput pride has now offered a Rs 5 crore bounty on the heads of Bhansali and Padukone.…
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