desultory thoughts while sitting on a mall bench

Sitting here on a bench in a posh city mall, while my family and my friends are on the hunt for the best deals and some window shopping, I am cleaning my cell phone frantically of the deluge of religious and patriotic messages sent by my whatsapp activist friends. Today is Janmastami and tomorrow is the Independence Day.

The mall too is celebrating the Independence Day by organising a fashion show with a swadeshi theme and a lottery. The ground floor where I am sitting is abuzz with preparatory activities. Ironically,  all the shops on this ground floor where the swadeshi event will take place, sell western brand of clothing and other products.

The word mall has some strange similarity with the swadeshi word mela. White skinned Indic scholars and their supporters may say that the word mela is derived from the word ‘mall’. Indophiles and their swadeshi supporters may argue to the contrary.

I  am reminded of the village fairs of my childhood days. The atmosphere would be totally charged up with hustle bustle and noise. Sometime there would be a lot of heat and dust. A mall is protected from the seasonal fluctuations and the heat and dust of the Indian outdoor. And barring those occasional promotional events, it is so cool and silent. Like a funeral .

And nobody treated you at the entrance of a mela as a potential terrorist and groped you by your shirt and pant pockets. Of course, everything has two sides. While on one hand, the global expansion of terrorism has raised concerns of radicalization, on the other hand, it has given a big boost to the billion dollar security industry.

One thing is common between the mela and the mall. Both are places of milan – primarily for the potential buyers and sellers. Of course many other kinds open and clandestine meetings also happen.

Ironically, Indian movies have used the mela for family break up. How can we, the movie buffs of Amar Akbar Anthony era forget the most popular formula  – two brothers or an entire family getting separated in a mela to be reunited in a climax where the villain has bound the some key members of the family in chains.

Reference to mela abound in Bollywood movies and songs, with a number of movies even taking up the title. The word mela has festive connotations. But the ‘mela’ of 1948 starring Dileep Kumar is a tragic movie. The tragedy about the 2000 movie starring Amir Khan and Twinkle Khanna is that it was one of the biggest flops of the year.

Shopping and eating out not being my favourite pastimes I search for other avenues so that I don’t feel out of place here. I was a student of economics honours. Maybe, I should speculate on the macro economics of city malls. But, why to load the brain with the complicated theories learnt and forgotten three decades back.

I decide to go to the the electronics shop on the first floor to have a look at the latest developments in digital technology. A salesman is demonstrating a model of a home theater. The TV channel is belting out –  duniya hasino ka mela, mele mein yeh dil akela. But, the heart of the potential male customer is definitely not alone as he seems to be accompanied by his newly married female partner.

However,  it may be applicable to life in general. It is a different story that our hero cannot find a suitable girl to connect to his lonely heart. But, the author of the song sees the world as a fair ground of fairer sex.

 Basically we see, what we want to see. 

hear the saga of the common man

Hear the saga of the common man- the aam admi.

He is the ultimate hero, the fictional centre of the universe.

Some claim that their hands are with him.

Some have made name, fame and fortune out of his name.

Every religion champions his cause.

Every atheist has vowed to be by his side come what may.

Each page of newspaper is dedicated to protect him from other looters.

Every body from the king to the millionaire is in competition to be his most humble servant, protector and savior.

The world exists to fulfill his wishes and everyone of some reckoning has been working for him, since time immemorial.

Now this is the miracle:

In spite of so many well-wishers, messiahs and mass leaders,

he continues to remain poor, exploited,  helpless, be-fooled, baffled

fighting and killing fellow common man for the just cause.

Every hand is out to rob him.

Every elephant is out to trample him

Every sickle is out to cut his throat

And every hammer is eager to crush his head.

Every lantern burns out of his blood.

He bears the brunt of every broom.

His desperation and despair provides manure for every lotus to bloom.

The list would go on.

But, the saga of common man will continue

to be the same story of struggle and betrayal day after day.

 

Maja Hi Kuchh Aur Hai

It was due to a ‘comedy of error’ that I got introduced to Pandit Om Vyas. Someone had shared a youtube link on FB about Arbind Kejriwal’s fiasco about some issue. When I clicked the link it took me to one of the kabi sammelan videos of Late Kavi Om Vyas ji. That time I did not know that the satirist to whom I had taken an instant liking was no more. Subsequently, after watching a number of hilarious videos, when I learnt of his tragic untimely death, it reminded me of the song: haste haste rona sikho ….. rote rote hasna…….  just like his sessions.

In a congregation of poets (Kabi Sammelan) hosted in memory of Haribansh Rai Bachchan, in his inimitable style, he recited a poem whose pet phrase (takiya kalam) was ‘Maja hi kuchh aur hai. Well, Panditji, with due respect to you, here is a rejoinder that I have composed, imitating your style. It follows an English translation which may not be exact but, as close as possible to the Hindi version:

Signal se thik pehle lane change karne ka
Chalti gaadi se bahar thuk-ne ka
Bina matlab zor se zor horn bazane ka
Gaadi khadi karke public view mein mut-ne ka
Footpath mein motor cycle chalane ka
No parking board ke thik samne gaadi park karne ka
Beech raste mein gaadi khadi karke dooosre driver se jhagadne ka
Maza hi kuchh aur hai... maza hi kuchh aur hai

Bina padhe whatsapp mein message forward karne ka
Bina samjhe sabhi issues mein apni rai dene ka
Boss ke bhadde se bhadde joke mein pet phadke hasne ka
Junior ke badhia se badhia baton ko nazar andaz karne ka
Bhid ke saath kadam se kadam milaye chalne ka
Karod-on ke lutere ko maaf aur do kaudi ke chor ko saza dene ka 
Maza hi kuchh aur hai... maza hi kuchh aur hai

It is so much fun

To change the lane just before the signal
To spit out from a running vehicle
To honk loudly without any need
To urinate on the roadside in full public view
To ride the motorcycle on the footpath
To park the vehicle just below the No-parking sign
To stop the vehicle on the middle of the road to pick a fight
It is so much fun... it is so much fun

To forward on whatsapp without reading the message
To give expert advice without understanding the issue
To laugh out loud at Boss's mediocre jokes
To ignore a brilliant idea because it comes from a junior
To march with the crowd matching step after step
To forgive the looter of a million and punish the one who stole two pence 
It is so much fun..... It is so much fun

Panditji. I am not at all bothered whether you have gone to heaven or hell.
Because, wherever you go you will make it heaven.
May your soul rest in peace.  And have the last laugh.

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