Saturday, 1 November 2014

On Man-Eating Tigress, Mindless Bollywood

The village visit was a short bus ride (4 hours) to a place in West UP. The academy did not skimp on academic resources for the village visit. However, even the moderately thick village visit manual was no match to the verbiage awaiting us at the district headquarters. The thick tome of documents was in Hindi, making it doubly dense for me. I had to bring to my mind all the prashaasanik Hindi picked up during Hindi language classes to get through the first two paragraphs of the first page. Around 1000 more pages await.

A curious incident happened at the state border between Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Since we were to visit villages in a district in western UP, we were met at the border by a sub-divisional level officer along with a pilot vehicle. I was flattered and flustered at the same time. Flustery outweighed flattery. We found no reason for the show of strength, however nominal. We were just a bunch of well meaning OTs-  I am sure we meant no harm to anyone and vice-versa. So, all those gun toting batch of half a dozen UP wala police bhaiyyas, in my opinion, were unnecessary.

There was an unobtrusive news crew with a video camera at a way-side stop near the UP-UK border filming what may have been an out of the world sight for them- couple of dozen out of shape OTs alighting from a bus and making haste to find a tree behind which to relieve themselves. Fortunately, to the relief of the OTs, the media and even the dignity of the senior civil services, bathrooms were close by and were duly used.

The police escort was not the only 'culture' shock I have had today. There were the garlands and about 30 odd staff of the district administration gawking at the OTs at the place we were put up. It was all thoroughly embarrassing. I scooted from the garlanding silliness but am not sure if I will have cover for my disappearing acts in the future. I have come to love my anonymity more and more.

The most significant piece of advice given to us by a senior functionary of the district administration was to stick to the premises allotted to us and under no circumstances to stray, particularly at night. There was a man-eating tigress at large. The most recent kill was that of a 10-year old boy.

One should never underestimate the power of the Fates. Only yesterday I was making fun of Shah Rukh Khan running around in make-believe rural settings, mustard fields, berating Bollywood for lack of authenticity, among other things. Today, I was caught unawares and ended up watching half of 'Happy New Year.' The movie was so egregious that I had to leave the theatre at the intermission stage. Looks like Shah Rukh Khan has had the last laugh. I shall watch out for such twists of Fate as best as I can. Lessons learnt. Still, one wonders as to what got in to the heads of the movie makers and the movie watchers. How can a sane person ever conceive, leave alone watch, such a movie? The movie makers need to be tried for human rights violations. The movie 'Happy New Year' is a clear violation of a right to dignity of life.

And so we were given a taste of the things to come. Man-eating tigresses. Mind violating Bollywood stupidity.

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