Fantastic beasts and when to find them

Without mythology, the world would be a joyless place. Bereft of its magical repertoire of wondrous beings, myriad miracles and enchanted lands, our journey through time would be dreary.

Published: 05th May 2019 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd May 2019 05:50 AM   |  A+A-

Without mythology, the world would be a joyless place. Bereft of its magical repertoire of wondrous beings, myriad miracles and enchanted lands, our journey through time would be dreary. Last week, the Army claimed that it found evidence of the Yeti. “For the first time, an Indian Army mountaineering expedition team has sited (sic) mysterious footprints of mythical beast ‘Yeti’ measuring 32x15 inches close to Makalu base camp on 09 April 2019,” its PR wing tweeted along with visuals that included the expedition members in uniform.

The Army being an institution whose credibility is stellar, nobody accused the sighting as a Hindutva plot to fan religious frenzy during election time. But Chowkidar Tarun Vijay tweeted, “But please, you are Indian, dont (sic) call Yeti as beast. Show respect for them. If you say he is a ‘snowman’.” It’s not known whether Mr Vijay has petitioned the government to rename the ‘Abominable Snowman’ as ‘Ghinouna Purush’—which would negate the point but one never knows what Kafka is smoking these days—however, the creature has been politically and culturally appropriated. The Tibetans call it ‘Metoh’ meaning ‘man-bear’ and ‘Kang-mi’ or ‘snowman’.

Since the Yeti is Tibetan, Mr Vijay could precipitate a diplomatic crisis when India is pressuring China to name Hafeez Saeed the world’s most abominable terror man. Interestingly, the Congress party hasn’t commented on the veracity of the discovery after Priyanka Gandhi outed her brother Rahul as an inveterate mountaineer amongst other macho memes like karate black belt and ace scuba diver, none of which by the way reflects in his forty-something schoolboy-serious voice. The claim of sighting Rahul’s British citizenship is a far more serious matter. The foreign hand, incidentally introduced by his late grandmother Indira Gandhi to raise false paranoia over the CIA-Pakistan, is a hot potato for the Congress, which is constantly under fire for its foreign connections in the person of Sonia Gandhi.

In the poll season vitiated by obsessive abuse and zealous rants, the Army has done us a favour. It has reopened our eyes to a world that lies digitally undiscovered and drone-free, full of marvels which have enriched the human mythos for millennia. As symbols of man’s search for metaphors, the wings of Pegasus reflect his desire to touch the heavens. Kamadhenu’s endless bounty assures immortality even as Bagala reminds man of mortality.  Chakoras riding the moonbeams sing to yearning lovers.
April is the cruelest month. But the Yeti’s footprints have brought the coolness of the Himalayan snows into our hearts and minds. It’s an Indian summer, folks. Thank the Yeti.

Ravi Shankar

ravi@newindianexpress.com

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