The Maharashtra 2014 Elections

It’s not the Election Commissioner writing this post for you, but yours truly. Naturally, it’s not about all the elections in 2014, but just the assembly election in Maharashtra, this year.

No, don’t expect a selfie here. I have determined that the argument that Pictures Are Not Arguments applies here.

But of course, I could have posted my selfie, too. It’s just that doing so would have required Being Present in the Present Moment (of the Buddhist kind) [a skill so highly prized in California, USA, and Massachusetts, USA] to a far more extent that I could manage. As a matter of fact, it Just In Time deserted me: Babasaheb Purandare was there wanting to cast his vote, and the whole booth-managing authority made my old father and me (and a growing queue) wait for some 30 minutes. There were no OB vans, to be sure, but still, there were quite a few photographers clicking almost randomly here and there. Complete with the ritual of holding their cameras high above, even when there was not enough of crowd to interfere with their clicking. Holding the camera high seems to have become a second nature to them, it seems. In any case, I got enough irritated that I forgot to take a selfie—I just wanted to get done with my voting as quickly as possible.

Thus, once my turn came, I straight-away voted for Mr. Subhash Jagtap, knowing full well in advance (purely by common sense) that he would [sure] be defeated.

People can get rational at times, you know. … Even if, in the ostensible opinions of one of my fellow bloggers, Indians must have suddenly made a phase transition from being “retards” to “geniuses.” Except for in Maharashtra, my home state.

[I am happy that Maharashtra---probably his birth-place, and certainly the place of his early education---has chosen to cast their votes in such a way as to prolong his intellectual life.]

But the real reason behind putting up this blog update is something else.

Right on the day of that election, a slightly whimsical [though, I am sure, my detractors would want to call it ``devilish''] thought crossed my mind, once I had had returned from the polling booth, and was cosy sipping a cup of a tea at home. The thought was decidedly Maharashtrian-ish [I don't want to be the first one to mark the atmosphere with the sound: ``Marathi.'']

Thinking in Marathi, I thought—since I had already pressed the button for the NCP candidate in my constituency despite knowing that he is going to lose—how I might want to arrange my thoughts upon his defeat.

And, thus, I thought of a common Marathi saying:

[Marathi] “ dukhkha, chaar-chaughaat vaaTal_, ki kami hot_, kinvaa sampat_ suddhaa.” [Sorrow, when you share it with four people, reduces, or even completely gets over.]

Since this has been a five-way election, and since only one in the five is going to “win,” simple [non-P-vs-NP] mathematics tells you that four in the five are going to lose. Four.

Since I have never fought an election to lose [the only one that I fought, ever, was in an educational campus, and I won it], I wouldn’t know how to deal with it. But looking at the current state of Maharashtra—or what the outside and inside forces have made out of it—and knowing where I myself [and the men I would vote for] stand in my estimation [I tend not to take any of us too seriously]—I thought that it would be particularly funny. Especially when applied to the usual arrogance of the people who would lose but who I would never have voted for.

In short, to tell the arrogance that:

[Marathi] “ dukhkha, chaar-chaughaat vaaTal_, ki sampat_.”

It really was just a fun thought.

* * * * *   * * * * *  * * * * *

As it so often happens, even if you know that your candidate is going to lose, you simply can’t believe it, until the results are here. [Not if you are like me.] You can crack jokes about it, but you still refuse, in a metaphysical kind of a way, to believe that such a circumstance is actually going to visit you—even if you have made every mental preparation for the same, anyway.

So, there.

I told you who I voted [though not why---may be, another blog post, another time].

All that I wanted to do today was to share this fun way of looking at it.

* * * * *   * * * * *  * * * * *

You know, Maharashtra has been churning through both disintegration and misintegration for quite some time. … I think I have a fairly good sense about it.

Let me share with you just one example, illustrating the kind of cultural down-swing the middle class in Pune has undergone.

(Marathi) “mhaataryaa, gaaDi chaalavataa yet naahi kaa tulaa!” [Rough English  translation: “Hey oldy [more like, hey you geyser], don’t you know how to drive your car?”]

That was the “decent” sort of a refrain which I heard being said to me, on the Law College Road in Pune. It came from a rather hefty 20-something fair Konkanastha Brahmin Marathi Middle Class look-alike female riding pillion on a motorbike in Pune, the city of my birth, college education, work etc., about 3 months ago. (It certainly happened this semester.)

Pune used to be one of the leading places where we were almost militaristic-ally raised up to revere the elders.

What happened was that she was being the raison de joie to her motorbike driver. [I honestly couldn't see why.] He therefore was being manly, nay, super-manly in his driving, attempting to ride his bike—no, not with great speed, but exactly the opposite: with extraordinarily slow speed.

The youngsters in Pune these days can easily afford to buy huge bikes, but there is no way that they can also buy the riding sense. No biker in Pune these days drives while paying attention to the white strips separating the lanes.

Indeed, with her considerable weight acting as a ballast of sorts, this guy had only one choice: either stick to the driving rules, be considerate of the side-way traffic in the next lane, and if his lane gets crowded ahead, apply breaks once in a while.

But doing so would destroy his purring smoothness. These days, FYI, bikers in Pune don’t have to apply brakes to get the female pillion rider “accidentally” bump into their backs; the youngster females themselves hold them all too tight from the behind, on their own. So, the only objective, then, is to show off the occurrence of this physical configuration. And, what better way to do so if not by riding super-ultra-smoothly, without ever changing gears, and God forbid, without ever applying brakes?

Now, you may ask: If you are going to be a “smooth” rider of that kind, and if your lane gets crowded ahead, then, what do you do?

The solution invented by the Young etc. geniuses is simple: You take the entirety of that ballast which remains firmly stuck on to your back, and then smoothly cut in front of an ongoing car in the next lane. The car driver instinctively applies brakes, and the female can then just for a moment unfasten her bosom from his back is she so chooses, tilt her head, look at the car now receding due to its breaking, and throw a brief smile of superiority, only to once again resume the fastening of the bosom to the back in the same bit of that smooth physical action.

It happens.

The only difference was, the car to have to do the breaking this time round, happened to be mine. It happened just near where the Bhandarkar Institute road joins the Law College Road. I was visiting home in Pune, from Mumbai.

That one day, this kind of lane cutting got me irritated enough that I decided to do something equally nasty about it. As soon as I got my chance, I overtook him, and then, equally smoothly, started getting close to him. [I did give him a horn to make him aware of my intentions, and also checked that the rider had checked the position and the approach of my car.] I then continued administering the dose of his medicine on to him. I kept on driving “smoothly” ever nearer to him, effectively pushing him into his lane. [No, I didn't shove him on to the footpath; I simply got him back into his lane.]

But this act on my part somehow got the aforementioned female angry. Angry enough to utter a few angry words at me. [The biker himself was cool at this time.] That made me both curious and, yes, I will admit it, a bit angry. So, I accelerated, pulled ahead, and once I found enough of a good clearing, I gave a proper left-signal, horn, and slowly pulled my car to the road-side, and then, took my driver-side window glass down. The biker and the female had, by then, already stopped besides me, too.

And, that’s when the aforementioned Twenty-Something Middle-Class Brahmin-some Female in Pune uttered the aforementioned words: “mhaataryaa, gaaDi chaalavataa yet naahi kaa tulaa!”

[Her vocabulary obviously was rather delimited, but her desire to express her emotions apparently was not, thereby taking her squarely outside of the means of expression available to her. Otherwise, she could have easily exhaled much worse words, too. Looking at me, that is. [Women, I am told, have a sixth-sense about the age of men.]]

I then tried to take a photograph of hers and her Nasik/Nagar-based Dhoom^n motorcycle-riding boyfriend, on my cell-phone. At this juncture, she continued her tirade in derogatory terms: “kaay photo kaadhatos kaa? ghe, kaadh.” [What, you want to take a photograph. Go ahead. Etc.] By this time, the looks of her motorcycle riding boy-friend [going by the Number Plate, his bike was from Nasik/Nagar] told me that worse could happen, in physical terms. [I was ready. [In that moment].] It’s just that something like a physical action didn’t actually happen.

I then told him sternly and quickly that I would be contacting the police, and asked the boy-friend to take down the number of my car, or take a snap, since I, on my side, anyway had taken a photo of his bike and him. That bit of information cooled him a bit. At least, he got cooled down enough that a physical action didn’t occur.

But it added fuel to the spirit of the Marathi Middle Class Female. She kept on fuming and cursing me even after we had respectively got back on to the road. Indeed she continued her occasional outburst [even if the boy-friend concentrated on driving] until we reached the Nal Stop, from where, I “knew” already, we would be parting our ways. And that’s precisely what happened: they took the right turn to go towards the Marathi Middle Class (BJP-supporting) locality of Kothrud.

Pune has changed.

And, of course, I don’t like this sort of a change. After all, as my “janma-bhoomi,” “karma-bhoomi,” and more: as my “PhD”–“bhoomi,” I am concerned with it. Especially since the earlier generation (and why, even people from our generation like Prof. Dr. Kajale) are not here.

If you think this was just one isolated instance, you would be wrong. They youngsters in Indian cities are entirely different these days. Whether you run into them on road, or in shopping mall, or even in college canteens. In my college canteen, for instance, they don’t think anything of stealing my chair even if they know that I had been eating there, that my meal is not over, and that the reason I got up was just to grab a bottle of water or so. The sense of civic decency would be too tall an order for this new BJP-supporting generation in the cities. Psycho-epistemologically speaking. I routinely find these youngsters unable to keep an awareness of their surroundings, even. Every day, in the college lounge or hall-ways, I get almost bumped into by our students at least 4 to 5 times. They just don’t know enough to know that they should be sensing other people’s presence. All that they know is to hurry and blindly dash into anything. Cutting queues is simply a natural by-product. And, this—Mumbai—was supposed to be a city of orderly people! [While in Pune these idiots vote for the BJP, in Mumbai, they vote for the Shiv Sena.]

Anyway,  now the election results are out, as far as the Pune youngsters go, I do imagine a lot of these “Young” “right-wing” people celebrating, in a vegetarian kind of a way the here-and-now Amit Shah + Narendra Modi electorial victory. They wouldn’t be having meat, but drinks would be OK, as far as my observations go. But then, the point is: they wouldn’t have to have drinks to display their usual sort of a behavior.

* * * * *   * * * * *   * * * * *

Dr. Atanu Dey [B.E. Nagpur, M.Tech. (C.S.) IIT Kanpur, Ph.D., Berkeley] should be willing to regard the development as uplifting of [at least the Young etc.] Indians from retardi-tude to geniuse-i-tude.

* * * * *   * * * * *   * * * * *

When I wrote the first version of this post yesterday, I wanted to make it brief. I actually had a bit of wine while writing the first version, and had said that will come back and rectify it a bit.

I have done that. But since in the process this post has become so big, I have removed the “Yo” part from it.

And, yes, I really drive my car better than the San Francisco Bay Area-Indian-supported-IT-Industry-rich-employees drive either their motorbikes, or their cars [some 10--20, even 30 times costlier than my old car], or their lives.

* * * * *   * * * * *   * * * * *

Fortunately, since no one has been allowed to build a flying car, I didn’t have to mention it, in my last section. Otherwise, these Young etc. people would have been given enough money by the the San Francisco Bay Area-Indian-supported-IT-Industry to be able to buy those, too.

* * * * *   * * * * *   * * * * *

A Song I like:

(Western, Popular, Instrumental) “Miss Marple’s Theme [original]” [And, what else did you expect, for this time round?]
Music and Orchestration: Ron Goodwin

[There might be typos or awkward constructs, but guess I will let them stay as they are; I won't waste time editing this post any further. As you know, what with a heavy teaching load, I am too hard-pressed for time, these days.]

[E&OE]

 

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