(This column, intended purely in jest as a turn-of-the-year satire, was published in DNA edition dated January 3, 2011.)
A year ago, I gave expression to my wish-list of 10 whacky things I’d like to see happen in 2010. It turned out to be quite a madcap year, and a fair bit of my irreverent wishes were granted. Since the God of Whacky Things is in a benevolent mood, I’m offering my wish-list for 2011, in the hope that however low we may be dragged by corruption scandals, we’ll find something quirky to elevate us to a higher state of being…
1. Radia calling Radia
The latest tranche of leaked Niira Radia tapes shows that the corporate lobbyist calls herself and talks to herself. “After my tapped phone conversations were leaked, nobody takes my calls anymore,” Radia tells Radia. “I’m so glad I have you to talk to.” To which Radia responds: “Don’t say anything incriminating. They may be tapping this call too.” CBI officials want to interrogate the ‘other’ Radia as well.
2. Howzzat! BJP ‘drops’ Ram temple
The BJP offers a stunning breakthrough to the Ayodhya impasse by renouncing its campaign for a Ram temple, and instead suggesting an Ayodhya IPL franchise, with a post-modern cricket stadium at the site. “Today, cricket is India’s biggest religion, and Laxman – not Ram – is the biggest star, so we’ll get a bigger political dividend from this,” says the BJP president. The Babri Masjid Action Committee and the Nirmohi Akhara too agree to drop the title suit in return for ‘sweat equity’ in the Ayodhya IPL franchise.
3. CWG stadiums as protest venues
Inspired by the Ayodhya political reconciliation, all national parties agree to convert the disused Commonwealth Games stadiums in Delhi into official ‘protest venues’: all protests by parties will be restricted to these venues, so normal city life isn’t disrupted. There are plans for a permanent aerostat to make protest rallies more glamorous.
4. A proud ‘banana republic’
India officially becomes a ‘banana republic’, but in a way that leaves all Indians joyous. A bumper banana crop harvest in India, coupled with unseasonal rains in other growing areas, makes India the top banana exporter. Appearing on a TV show, Ratan Tata acknowledges he’s “proud to live in a banana republic.”
5. Om Jhatka Julia
After becoming a Hindu in 2010, Julia Roberts says she wants to embrace the Indian way of life, and will star in a reality TV show called either Om Julia Om or Jhatka Julia. Details are scarce, but the show will either have her teaching spiritually rootless Indian city-slickers the propitious way of observing Vedic rituals – or feature her in a wet sari. “Or we might have her showcase the rituals in a wet sari,” says the producer, exhibiting admirable flexibility of approach.
6. Barkha Dutt joins Sun TV
Tired of being branded a Congress go-between for her professional “error of judgement” in her dealings with Radia, Barkha Dutt quits NDTV, and is snapped up by Sun TV, the channel owned by DMK patriarch M. Karunanidhi’s family. She’s now enrolled for Tamil elocution lessons and is learning to pronounce polysyllabic Tamil names – Karunanidhi, Kanimozhi et al – and even ‘vazhaippazha kudiarasu’ (Tamil for ‘banana republic’).
7. Rahul in Twitter-land
Embarrassed by Rahul Gandhi’s motormouth indiscretions, which land the Congress in trouble too often, Sonia Gandhi decrees he should restrict his political discourses to Twitter, calculating that the 140-character limit will constrain his potential to cause damage. In his first Tweet, ‘Pappu’ promises a Twitter account for every below-the-poverty line family in India – and two for Dalit families.
8. The anthemic Shiela ki Jawani
The ‘item number’ Shiela ki Jawani becomes a superhit, and since most youngsters know its lyrics better than they know the national anthem, a Facebook campaign is started to have Shiela ki Jawani declared the national anthem. Within hours, it has millions of fans, but the Tagore Society lobbies and has the “offensive” page deleted.
9. China flexes its noodle muscle
To trumpet its rise and project its power around the world, China decrees that people in all countries must eat noodles on Wednesdays – or “face the consequences” for “hurting the feelings of Chinese people”. Wary of antagonising China, countries comply, but China overreaches by insisting that everyone must now recite Confucian sayings before breakfast. Even Chinese people bristle with rage, and to distract them the government engineers a crisis by sending fishing boats into the Yellow Sea.
10. The WikiLeaks recipes
Frustrated by the WikiLeaks revelations, the US State Department surreptitiously hires Chinese hackers to break into the WikiLeaks sites and replace the cables with Swedish meatball recipes. Newspapers publish these recipes, and they prove more popular than the leaked cables.