I am in a terrible mood. Really. You would be as well, if you went through a colonoscopy and stepped on shit. I am in Mumbai, India, taking a breather after a grueling week in Afghanistan and few days in UP, India. My doctor advises it would be a good idea to have a complete physical, including a colonoscopy done every other year, since I am now fifty-six with history of family cancer. As it is (still) cheaper to have these things done in India, and my good Doctor Wakeel from Al Imaan here to arrange things with reputable hospitals without me having to declare bankruptcy or lose an organ, I have been going through the routine of fasting and cleansing my guts and having doctors prod instruments in parts of my body I’d rather not mention.
My mood nosedives as I return from an errand buying antiseptic soap from a Banya store around the corner from my hotel. Groggy from general anesthesia, I notice a filthy cur that is desperately, unsuccessfully trying to scratch it’s flea infected itchy back. A lout, probably drunk or stoned, bends over, relieves the itch and the cur licks the aiding hand in gratitude. Near the hotel, a wedding party startles everybody, especially stray dogs, with an ear splitting crash of drums, fireworks and bangra dancing by young teenagers. The tune is catchy, by Daler Mehndi I think, something Bale Bale. Why, were it not my state of mind, I would have broken out into a jig myself.
I guess I take some blame not looking where I step, knowing streets in urban India, even in good neighborhoods, have stray dogs, drunks or stoned humans with defecation needs and public toilets scarce, non-existent. But I am distracted, and step on a pile of poo-poo; human, cattle or dog, I am unsure, nor care, right outside my hotel in an ‘upscale’ neighborhood of suburban Juhu. I abandon my fine pair of sandals immediately, passionately cursing the culprit animal (or human) and their entire ancestry and progeny with some colorful, powerful vocabulary I am now shocked I possess. A street urchin across the street, resting from all the dancing, watches my predicament with a bemused look, moves with astonishing speed, scoops up the soiled sandal and bolts away like a speeding jet taking off; as if I want the shitty footwear back. And what good is one pair to him? So I take the other pair and hurl it towards the retreating nincompoop, cursing his intelligence as well; yes, I am in that mood. I can feel and hear the doorman and security guys hooting with delight at the unfolding drama but I don’t care, ignore them. I tiptoe barefoot into the hotel lobby to be gawked at by Minakshi, the pretty receptionist, who opens her mouth to ask me the obvious question but stifles it when she sees my scary scowl. Poor Minakshi.
When will this great intriguing country take control of her human and animal dumping behaviors? I despair. Having divorced India two years ago, I now have a love – hate relationship with her. I eagerly look forward to be with her whenever I visit, at least three times a year, but frustration and hopelessness sets in once here. I have great fondness for India, my fore parents being from here perhaps, but it is more than this fact. India gives me a sense of belonging, of being home, among billion plus humans that pulsate this country.
India has lots to contribute, to me, to the world, in varied fields. Indians excel in IT, medical and business acumen outside of India; I can see their impact in the US. Why the crippling mismanagement, brazen corruption and resulting apathy reserved for Mother India? Boggles the mind, no?
When cricket match fixing and betting fiasco sullied the national Pakistani team players few years ago, Indian media went into uncontrollable frenzy of arrogant smugness. Che-che, how shameful, this certainly will not / cannot happen in India, boasted Sunil Gavaskar with a snobbish expression. Hah! Never say never! The IPL match fixing / betting humiliation blew up on his face last week and he eats humble pies now, desperately trying to fend off his prior censure of the neighboring rival.
Sadly, it’s all about easy money and absolutely no accountability; the rot starts from the apex to the very bottom. The politicians are very involved, always looking for a place to park black money, so they will not consider legalized betting, which will shutter the stashing outlet. Yes, there is corruption all over the world but the brazenness in India is mind blowing.
The IPL ruckus has Mumbai police is a tizzy. For the first time in my seventeen years of visiting India, the CID came calling. It is 2:30AM and the hotel night manager calls. I jerk awake in panic; is it family calling, emergency at home? I relax somewhat; they would call my cell, not the hotel phone. The manager is apologetic, says the CID wants to come up and check the room. Eh? Why? Routine search, nothing to worry about, they are doing this at all hotels. Highly unusual, no? Not really, normal procedure. All kinds of legal rights come to mind, but I am not home in the US, can’t rationalize my thought process; I concede entry.
In walks a Laurel and Hardy pair. Hah, what are you doing Saa’b? Um, sleeping? Aree, no, what are you doing in India. Medical needs, visiting friends. Oooo, what is the matter Saa’b? Routine health check. Hmmm, what hospital? Global Hospital. Do you have your passport with you? Yes. Let me see it please. I open the hotel safe and hand my passport to Laurel. American eh? Yes. Born in Tanzania eh? Yes. You speak good Hindi, where did you learn it? Awaara, Anaari, Bobby, Aradhana, Mera Naam Joker...Bollywood. Hahaha, bohoot aacha. Theek hai. Thank you. They depart.
With general elections looming and the opposition in disarray, many pundits predict a hung parliament, so we can expect more of the same. Its sad, says Preity Zinta, actress and an IPL team owner, in a recent interview about the current Indian state of affairs; I agree, wholeheartedly. She then says she wants to become a politician, try and improve the current status quo. I think I will Tweet her and suggest priority number one, if elected – death sentence, on the spot, for any dog, stray or otherwise, caught defecating. Loss of crown jewels, on the spot, for any man doing the same. Harsh, yes; effective, very.
Hmm, what should I suggest Preity do about women caught in the act? Let me muse over a suitable punishment.