The Indian General Election is just around the corner. Unfortunately, the damn thing does not come with a statutory warning about how the unspooling events can be hard on your heart with the added risk of your mental and emotional state unravelling with alarming speed.
There are cops all over the place for the ostensible purpose of maintaining law and order who gesture for you to pull over, uncaring that a bunch of chaps in bunched-up lungis and Bappi Lahiri-level bling just zoomed by, nearly running over a poor old lady, in order to avoid hitting the placid cow who was taking a leisurely stroll in the middle of the road.
Naturally, your heart rate goes through the roof, as they bark questions at you and go through your luggage while an over-enthusiastic-type records the proceedings. The dutiful minion of the law double-checks your toilet kit which may or not contain a purloined item or two from the last fancy hotel you stayed at, while a tidal wave of terror overwhelms you as you envision yourself growing old, locked up in a dank cell reeking of urine and filled with excreta (like in Sanju), awaiting your day in court, even as the judges take a half-hearted stab at clearing the backlog of cases which is expected to take a few centuries at the very least.
As the tension ratchets to unbearable levels, the cop with one last grunt to register his displeasure since you refuse to make eye-contact, allows you to leave. Once your breathing has returned to normal, you wonder where are these fellows the rest of the time when there are young girls being abducted/raped/killed, when guilty diamond merchants are buying a first class ticket to Heathrow, when mobs lynch citizens for eating beef?
Having barely recovered from your scary encounter with the desi Mark Fuhrman, you decide to hit the spa and pamper yourself only to find that all routes to your destination are blocked because an earnest politician is on the campaign trail, a nightmarish cavalcade of vehicles driven by goons with definite road rage issues in tow. Citizens have been bussed in from all over with the promise of mutton biryani, booze and hard cash so that they can listen to uninspired speeches that promise jobs and justice for everybody while taking in the eye-popping ugliness that are the life-sized cut-outs of crooks, complete with their creatively embellished achievements on flimsily erected hoardings that seem in danger of toppling over unwary two-wheeler riders who don’t wear helmets since it messes with their gelled hair.
While waiting for the traffic to clear, you whip out your smartphone to check out IPL-related matters when the news apps take it on themselves to provide in-depth analysis by eager beavers about the upcoming elections hoping to convince you about the soundness of their preferred candidate, though we all know that like in the past, we will simply have to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea. Worst of all, the horror show with its relentless, arduous and dedicated fusillade of all things grotesque and nasty has only just begun. What to do? You sigh in resignation, dig your nails into your palms, crawl homeward and scream into a pillow.
Author and new age classicist