Honey, we’ve shrunk the kids but our statues are taller
I am making insecticide by mixing sugar powder with boric acid when my nani calls, ‘Biren Bhai is arriving from Surat today. Send the driver to fetch your uncle from the station.’
‘Nani, my driver is on leave today and I can’t go either! There is a nasty ant infestation at home that I am trying to get rid of.’ She replies, ‘You should not kill ants, they are very lucky.’
‘Yes Nani,’ I mutter, ‘Ants are lucky, it’s just people like me covered in bites who are unlucky.’
My protests are pushed aside, and as usual Nani manages to get me to do her bidding.
Biren Bhai and his dabba of precious fafdas are safely ensconced in the car, he begins rattling away in great excitement. ‘When are you coming to Gujarat? You have to come to see the Statue of Unity, not very expensive, only Rs 350.’
I reply, ‘I thought it was 3,000 crore, no?’
‘Dikri, that is for the full and final statue, this I am telling you is ticket price for observation deck view.’
I reply, ‘Have you heard about the controversy over the statue? There was an article in the Daily Mail filled with British outrage about the UK giving 1.17 billion pounds as aid to India and us spending around a third of that on erecting statues.’
My uncle gets annoyed, ‘ Amtha, amtha sawal nai puch. British people are all salo chors! They took billions from us and tucked it nicely in their khisu, now what they are giving is interest on our capital only.’ Finally though, the four-anda-half hours on Paschim Express take their toll and he nods off.
out weeds in my garden, I look out at the tranquil Arabian Sea. If things go according to plan, soon enough I will be able to spot a 212m Shivaji statue rising from the waves.
I recall reading a story about a philosophy professor who filled an empty jar with rocks, and then asked his students if the jar was full. When the students nodded, he dropped pebbles inside which rolled in between the rocks. The professor then poured sand and filled up the remaining areas of the jar. Using it as an analogy for well-being, he said, ‘This jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things — your family and your health. The pebbles are other things that matter like your job, your house. The sand is everything else, all the small stuff. If you put the sand into the jar first then there is no room for the pebbles or the rocks.’
But I wonder if we as a nation are focusing more on building sand castles in our jars. The Global Hunger Index 2018 ranks India at a poor 103 out of 119 countries, with one out of every five children under the age of five suffering from acute under-nutrition. The World Health Organisation reports that 14 of the world’s most polluted cities are in our country, with Kanpur topping the list. Our focus though seems to be on renaming cities and building towering statues. But I suppose, if playing statue-statue is the name of the game then we may as well spend another few hundred crore to ensure that the world’s tallest statues are made a tad more relevant by having the world’s biggest anti-pollution masks sitting jauntily on their noses.
only do I have ants running around my house looking for edible items but I also have relatives who are doing the same. My mother arrives with Nani and Biren Bhai, while my mother-in-law has invited all her five brothers.
While Mother is nagging me about how the hot snacks are apparently not hot enough, Biren Bhai has been discussing his new business venture with the mamas. On hearing snatches of their conversation, I am almost tempted to ask my uncle if the tallest statue in the world has inspired him to invest in a product called Dr Ayurveda Height Increaser. Vinay mama turns to my mother-in-law and reels off product details from Biren Bhai’s phone: “This product increases height in humans. It has no side-effects and is approved by Medical Council of India.” He then adds with a laugh, “Arre Biren Bhai, this is a foolish business idea! How can this work on adults?