Taj tamasha: Indians get off on a concoction of silly sentimentality, half-baked plastic platitudes, and puke-inducing pop patriotism.
12 July, 2007:
In times of Pop Patriotism, the Taj Mahal basks in rejuvenated passion of a nation. The drive to be hep in the eyes of the world leaves little to imagination, as we ignore things that lie at the bottom of all the squalour we have been trying to do away with for more than 50 years now.
Scurvy of a Country
The Taj jaundice, brought upon by
the oil refineries in Agra, created a
furore. The refineries were asked to
shut down or relocate. When all this
died down, the Taj corridor debacle
gaped in the face of a corrupt
government. The latter, as is the case
usually, managed to kill the
controversy, and the Taj went back to
fight it out on its own.
The New Indian Idol Contest
Talent hunts are a rage. The
country sits in front of the boob-tube
with their favourite gadget Ė not the
remote Ė but a flashy little mobile
phone. As one singer after another
beckons their audience to send their
support via and SMS, the nation
scurries to type out the fashionable
code to the faceless four digit
ďVote for Taj!Ē
The bugle calls from all corners of the country, blaring at a thousand decibels over all major TV channels, swishing across the ticker instead of breaking news. Yes, a country has a new mission. Itís fashion with the pop passion of a fad. The mobiles are out, and in come those SMSes, from every nook and cranny, from grandpa to granny Ė everyone is voting again.
Mush Called Taj Mahal
The Taj sits serenely over the banks of Yamuna, and the first rays of sunlight touch the mighty dome. At first you think itís the eerie orange glow of the rising sun. Then, as the sun leaps over the eastern horizon, you realize the trauma. Yellowed from years of neglect, like a coffee loverís teeth, the monument desperately needs a dentist. Yellow teeth, like the Taj, need immediate attention. Maybe a toothpaste brand should endorse the Taj as its ambassador.
Love in the Times of Density
Suddenly everyone is looking at the
Taj Mahal. Someone somewhere blabbed
the possible inclusion of this
monument in the Seven Wonders of the
World. Someone in India hit gold with
an idea. There is a song here, there
is an ad there. And there are SMSes.
Laluís land decides to make it
official to vote. Love rules the air.
Love for a nation, and itís one
monument to proudly represent the face
of the country that is stereotypically
known across the world with the Taj
Mahal. Ironic, just when you thought
the world already acknowledges this
architectural marvel of a certain
When a Remo Fernandes slams the SMS campaign, no one wants to listen. The protest is quietly buried underneath the spangles and confetti a cause like Taj promises.
Hope Flops Eternal
Akbar Khan is an excited man today. A few years ago, he ventured to recreate the romance of Taj, through a very forgettable Taj Mahal. Whoís Akbar Khan, you might ask. No answer of mine can make you recollect who he was, except perhaps the fact that he was the face on the song called Hadsa, sometime in early 80ís, which was later sabotaged by a somewhat underdressed Rakhi Sawant in a remix video recently. But thatís about Akbar Khan, when the director of this monumental flop heard about the race for Taj Mahal, he had to jump the band wagon. If thereís a better example of ďbehti Ganga mein haath dhonaĒ, this is it. He believes he will be able to revive his deadpan disaster, riding on the sudden Taj Pop Gravy Train.
Pop Goes the Patriot
I am the new face of the conscientious nation. I run in a marathon. I wear a red ribbon on December 1st. I wear a Live Strong plastic wrist band. I attend the charitable concert. I do all that, and when I get back home, I am tired, and I go back to sleep. I wake up, and I hear they are voting for the Taj. Oops! I hope I am not late. I cast my vote even before I attend the natureís call. Itís better to slip out the remnants of last nightís flatulent dinner, than be late for a cause.
I carry my bleeding heart on my sleeve as I step out. I stare in the face of the one who does not display the zeal I have cultivated for My Mahaan Bharat. I hold my head high, I am proud to be an Indian. I dig Anu Malikís ditty on East or West, India is the Best. I endorse everything the celeb brigade ratifies as the cause of the day. As long as there is a statement that goes well with my personality, my country will have my undying support. I will buy the plastic tricolor every Independence Day, and furl it out my car window as I step in to a disc in the evening. Heck, today I will wear my Orange T-shirt with green and white blings. Yes, I am the neo-nationalist, who believes the louder you talk, the more they believe you.
The Token Taj Mahal Thespianism
It is cool to support the Taj Mahal,
after all, the world already looks at
it as a wonder. The frenzy over the
country to thump it down the worldís
throat isnít funny, itís simply
ironic. We should also vie for our
pot-holed roads as a wonder of the
world. After all, it takes amazing
skills to drive and stay alive on
those roads. We should also make the
begging kid on the street a wonder. He
can stand nonchalantly, making a
pitiful face under a huge hoarding of
wannabe Sachin kid selling a brand of
washing powder. We should also make
the municipal school a wonder, a
system where truant teachers are more
common than missing kids from classes.
We should also make the bureaucracy a
wonder that seems to have run a nation
with its elephantine slowness, and an
inherently inebriated mode of
functioning. We should also make the
morning time railway tracks a wonder,
that is an eternal exposť on the tons
of fecal manure the country is capable
of offloading. But perhaps, this is
never a good idea. When we proudly
export those Persian carpets, itís
just easy to sweep the dirt under the
rug, and continue voting for the Taj,
for all that is NOT an eyesore in the
land of Mysore.