Wednesday, August 17th, 2022 16:24:19

‘No’ To Ostentation

Updated: October 15, 2011 12:17 pm



Satiricus must strongly object to this WikiLeaks fellow making fun of Madam Mayawatiji, Chief Minister of India’s biggest state, by telling how she once dispatched a plane to fetch her favourite sandals from Mumbai. The cable said: “When she needed new sandals, her private jet flew empty to Mumbai to retrieve her preferred brand.” This scurrility must stop forthwith. What is worse than his scurrility is the fellow’s abysmal ignorance. For starters, he does not know that the plane that went to Mumbai was not, repeat not, empty. Its pilot was in it. Secondly, would she have sent a plane for a mere pair of chappals? Never. She would never have thought of squandering money so thoughtlessly when it was needed for erecting many more statues of her. And thirdly, she simply does not have as many sandals as another lady Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, who reportedly has 700 pairs of them. Why? Because she disdains such profligacy. Just a single, solitary pair of sandals, brought by plane, is enough for her fabulously frugal lifestyle. That is the plain fact.

Reckless Combination

Times are fast and furious. Some people go on a fast, some people become furious. Actually, Satiricus, who cannot do without his daily dal-roti, cannot understand all this sound and fury. He recalls his grandma, who used to fast once a week. She called it “upvaas”. And she didn’t need a stage for it. Nor did she imagine that it was an occasion for a photo op. But that was because she, poor, old-fashioned lady, was not educated enough to understand and appreciate the vital difference between an “upvaas” and a hunger strike, a hunger strike and a fast—and between a fast and a “roza”. In short, she was not a chief minister.

Now, the Gujarat Chief Minister is not in the same lowly category as Satiricus’s ignorant grandma. He knows what’s what and what’s not. When his information department advertised his fast in an Urdu daily, it said he was undertaking a “roza upvaas”. But did that cautious combination save him from the curse of communalism? Alas, no. For when our leading English-language (and therefore secular) newspaper reported the fast it made it a point to point out that the word “roza” “refers to fasting as prescribed by the Quran for believing Muslims”, while “ the Urdu word for ‘upvaas’ is ‘faaqaa’”. Aha, the CM’s communal cat is out of the bag. In fact, he was concealing his communalism by duplicitously declaring that he was undertaking a “roza” when he was actually undertaking a “faaqaa”. For how can he undertake a ‘roza’, which is reserved for “believing Muslims”? Is he even a disbelieving Muslim—like those pak Pakistanis who drink while flying in a Pakistan airline plane because mullahs assure them drinking is haraam for believers on the ground but okay in the sky?

The point is, in India that is Bharat, where Islamic secularism is the official religion, you just cannot denigrate a pak roza by dubbing it a Hindu upvaas. So how about a Deoband fatwa against fast faaqaa?

Electrifying Cap

Satiricus has found that there are friends and friends. The kinder ones among them call him simply stupid. The franker ones among them call him a bird-brained dimwit. Both varieties agree that he could be nothing else but a journalist because he was so uneducated, so illiterate, such a dullard. On one point, however, they agree to disagree. Some say he simply has no brains, others say he does have what passes for a brain, but not enough to learn.

All this, however, is happily in the past. Satiricus has now learnt about a triumph of technology that will help him out of the ignominy of ignorance. It is an electric “thinking cap”. Satiricus is not joking. Only the other day the glad tidings came from London that scientists in Britain have created an electric thinking cap which heralds a new era of high-voltage learning. A team at Oxford University says a small electric current through the cap to a specific part of the brain will help people learn. In a trial with a group of volunteers who were given a task to do it was found that if electricity was fired into the area of their brains that governs movement—running from the front of the head to a point above their ear—for ten minutes, the brain’s learning capacity was speeded up by ten per cent.

The news has electrified Satiricus. For now he knows he just has to plug in this cap and instantly become learned. Unfortunately, there is a flip side to this brainy research. If the current is sent the opposite way, the brain cells become dull. Oh, well, Satiricus has now at least a choice. Does he want to become better educated and a worse journalist, or does he want to remain a better journalist with a worse brain? He thinks on the whole it would be better for him not to be saddled with a brain so highly learned as to force him out of the illiterate profession of journalism. Why? Simple. The editor might stop this column—and the cheque that follows.

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