Humble ‘Candidate’

March 24th, 2010

He came, a former corporator, now canvassing for his daughter. She’s contesting the polls to the local civic body. He represented the ward earlier. Why not try his luck this time?

The ward is reserved for woman (general) this time around. The last time it was reserved for woman (SC). He had visited my house about 10 years ago. He had come home then promising to give a metalled road in addition to a few more facilities for the people in the locality.

With the promise, though, came a caveat though. He promised to get the job done if he was paid Rs 25,000 for a start, by the people of the locality, which then had about 50 houses. He managed to get Rs 1,500. He did not take it with his own hands. His hangers-on did it.

Yes, he did remember he had taken the money and reeled out a list of “good work” he had done for the people. The 72nd Amendment had indeed given him the powers and autonomy to spend money on “good work”.

This time? “My daughter sir. She’s standing. She is well-educated. She’s a BCom graduate. Please vote for her. I will  be there to guide her.”

When he came canvassing for his daughter, he came with his son. He promised to be in control of the situation.

But, why would I vote for her till I spoke to her and even got to know her intentions? “Our women don’t go out. We give them respect and they prefer to stay indoors.”

Will she attend the proceedings in the House? “That I will let her. She’s a good girl. I will be in the galleries watching her.”

Oh, for the women’s independence!

In power, people change. Will she tear herself away from father’s control and style of politics?

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Just Cheering

March 19th, 2010

The IPL has brought in the best of the US TV sports that can be brought into our drawing rooms. Americans may have no idea of what cricket is, but one of their newest life exports i.e. the nimble and supple cheer leaders are now taken for granted on the TV show called the T20.

Take them out of the drawing rooms, and what would the cheer leaders look like in flesh and blood? That’s the curiosity that is driving a very great number of those ‘repressed’ fans that come to cheer… the teams. With the cheer leaders egging them on, it is but natural that you see the dozens of ‘fans’ cheering their approval for the ‘moves’ of the cheer leaders.

A fellow journalist who has spent over least a score and a half years in the profession went to watch a T20 match. Not to see the cheer leaders alone. He decided to be a part of the hoi-polloi, instead of the VIP lounge that he could have managed with some push. But, being a hands-on ear-to-the-ground kind of journalist, he came across a group of college-going ‘kids’, very cheerful and who made it clear as to where their support lay, with their t-shirts and other accoutrements.

On seeing the older man.. perhaps the age or even older than their parents, they were curious. “What are you here for sir?”

“Just to see what the circus is all about.”

“We are all here to see the cheer leaders. How do they look in flesh and blood.”"We are grateful to Lalit Modi for bringing the cheer leaders and cheering us up.”

So, even as the debate over the corrupting influence of cheer leaders on the Indian culture, the BCCI and Lalit Modi will laugh all the way to the bank, and so will the cheer leaders laugh all the way to the American bank.

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Cheaper Drugs Anyone?

March 7th, 2010

Ever tried bargaining at a drug store while shopping for medicines? Well, actually ceteris paribus the chemist should be able to a discount to customers.

A new stand-alone drug store that has come up near my place, and not from any new-age drug store chain, has put up a board outside announcing a ‘Flat 10 per cent off’ on everything sold.

An older drug store barely 10 metres from it, which it is trying to compete with, has nothing to worry. At least the propreitor Rakesh says that everytme someone asks him. The best part, the new comer is operated and run by the licence holder himself who has a Dip. in Pharma.

Rakesh scoffs at the new comer as a man with a death wish. Not that Rakesh will use any muscle power. He will continue as he has done for the past 10 years. Yes, continue paying off the inspectors and other officials from the various departments — sales tax, drugs, police (yes, the police too, both the crime and traffic), corporation officials and some others.

“Let him give the discounts, and pay off those guys, and survive. Forget making a profit,” said Rakesh with a smile. Rakesh, a seasoned guy who has been in the job of selling drugs right from the age of 15, has seen the in and out of the drugs business.

Yes, I can give drugs for less than the MRP. But, how will I then be able to make up for the costs incurred on paying the bribes.The original licence holder is paid a fee every month by Rakesh for using it to run his store. The licence holder used to run the store before finding it easier to “renting out” his licence.
It’s been barely a fortnight. I am watching the competition with interest. An educated, qualified chemist vs. a hard-nosed barely educated drug store operator.

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