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Book Reviews from Three Indie Authors

My “Office Humour” book gets a second wind, thanks to support from Jacqui Murray, my longtime e-friend, established writer, school teacher, columnist, and lots more. Thank you Jacqui.

WordDreams...

‘ve been reading a lot of Indie writers lately. Many I found in the blogosphere, have enjoyed our back-and-forth conversations, and now call efriends.  I’m going to spend a few weeks reviewing my favorites, three at a time. I’ll kick it off with a varied collection from bloggers I’ve been following for several years.

  • What Happens in Office Stays in Office is a light-hearted peek into the white-collar life of a manager in India.
  • Not By Design is a fascinating story about a woman who’s life is turned upside down just as she thinks she’s settling into adulthood.
  • Bequia Mysteries is a three-book series set on the Caribbean island of Bequia, chronicling the escapades of a man who decides to lose his past in this remote corner of the planet

What happens in office, stays in office What Happens in Office Stays in Office: An Insider’s Account of What Really Happens at the Workplace

by Ankur Mithal

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All’s Well That Ends Well

‘Twas that time once again. The time that cometh but once every four years. The uniquely Indian festival. The time of celebration, of joy, of revelry. Almost sacred time. Marked out on calendars much in advance. Being prepared for over several years.

It seems like the revelry of the previous event had not even finished when the latest edition was upon us. Time flies when you are having fun, isn’t it?

You guessed it right. I am talking about the period immediately after the conclusion of the sporting extravaganza called the Olympics.

It is the period when many Indians, especially middle-class urban, become experts on the miserable performance of the Indian contingent. For committed participants, of which ilk there are millions, as are of any ilk in India, preparations begin well in advance.

Like creating (based on anecdotal evidence only; FBI and CBI are still trying to trace the creators) and circulating WhatsApp messages ignoring performance data and commending the preparation of the contingent and putting pressure on them by asking them repeatedly to bring in a rich haul of medals beyond their capability.

Like indulging in harmless banter on Facebook by ridiculing the rich haul of other teams and lauding the commendable, mostly medal-free, performance of the Indian contingents in past Olympics.

Like not lampooning (before the Games) folks like writer Shobaa De, who, swimming against the tide of data and trends available on FB and Twitter, and only relying on actual historical data and her own gut, had the temerity to say that the Olympic contingent will disappoint.

And, of course, during the Games, rapidly moving from channel to channel to collect data on poor performance. And expertly navigating away from the performance of athletes putting up a fight and extending the inevitable and preventing a viewing of a larger cross-section of events.

The seat at this table does not come cheap. Participants need to possess sterling qualifications for this task and spend years preparing.

Most of them have spent a good part of their adult life only trying to become rich.

They are committed to the cause of a healthy, physically active lifestyle. Whether it is mowing the lawn, hammering a nail in the wall, or fetching a glass of water, they steadfastly refuse to do anything physical.

Their commitment to a physically active lifestyle regularly keeps them engaged in stressful and physically challenging sporting activities like going for a morning stroll in the car, crossing the street on foot, or spitting out far onto public property. Most of all, they routinely exercise their vocal chords by shouting out for minions for completing any activity that remotely looks physical.

They have a close association with the wild outdoors and are avid travellers. When they go somewhere, they go to see. They go to a mountain to see the mountain and click pictures. Never to climb or hike. They go to a river to see the river and click pictures. Never to row. Why row when you can hire a boat with a 60-year old to row it. They go to the ocean to see and click pictures. Never to swim.

They have so much motivation to play that they are never able to organise themselves in order that they can play. The logic is sound. Why take the trouble when you can buy tickets for, and watch performances of sports leagues created by business houses designed to make them richer.

When called upon to participate, sometimes by family members interested in their well-being, or on account of work related requirements, they demonstrate their supreme ability to put the good of others before self by showing up and skipping out at the first opportunity.

With such qualifications, it is difficult to go wrong.

This august group always manages to find the real reasons behind the debacle. And, to their eternal credit, they find the same real reasons four-year after four-year.

They find that there are more administrators in the contingent than sportspersons and coaches. So many more that the allocated stands for supplying drinks to the nation’s marathon participant have to be left unattended leaving her to collapse at the end of the run.

They find that it was a young team that participated and that this was meant to be a great learning experience which will stand them in good stead for the next one for which they will not be selected.

They find that there is no cost in being unsporting and yet expecting the moon from people drawn from the same stock, many of whom have reached where they have because of personal motivation and desire, and not a supportive environment.

They find that the scoreline never accurately reflects performance. When we win 2-1, the scoreline fails to reflect our superiority over the rival team. When we lose 1-7, the scoreline does not represent how close the game actually was.

They lampoon (after the Games) folks like writer Shobaa De, who, swimming against the tide of data and trends available on FB and Twitter, and only relying on actual historical data and her own gut, had the temerity to say that the Olympic contingent will disappoint, because a silver and a bronze were won between 1.25 billion people.

Not one to stop at mere analysis or fact-finding, this group of experts boldly goes where no official committee dares to; they make recommendations and claims for the future of Indian sport.

As punishment, a different swarm of officials will be sent to disgrace us at the next Olympics.

A team of officials with no idea of sports will be sent to (mostly European) nations like Belgium and Netherlands in peak tourist season so that they can ensure none of their practices are ever introduced for better results.

Officials will travel first class while athletes will go by ship, instead of Economy Air, in order to keep them sharp.

The position of the Sports Minister will be upgraded with better facilities, so that athletes can perform better.

And, importantly, laws will be introduced to ensure that any youngster showing ability and motivation to work hard and perform well in sports, is either packed off to a suitable college of higher studies at the earliest opportunity or given a bit role in the next Bollywood movie. Charges could also be brought against parents of such children for not having checked the desire at an earlier stage. Booking them under “anti-national activities” is also a possibility.

This group has declared that based on performance at the recently concluded Games, it can safely be assumed that this is the beginning of a golden era for the country in the Olympics. They had declared this before the Games had started. Again, the assertion is based on hard facts.

It will be like the Golden Era that started after K D Jadhav won a bronze in wrestling in Helsinki in 1952.

Like the one that began after Milkha Singh came fourth in the 400 metres race in Rome in 1960.

Like the one that started after P T Usha placed fourth in the 400 metres hurdles in 1984 in Los Angeles.

Like the one that started after Leander Paes won a bronze in 1996 in tennis in Atlanta.

Like the one that started after K Malleswari won a bronze in weightlifting in 2000 in Sydney.

Like the one that started after Rajyavardhan Rathore won silver in shooting in 2004 in Athens.

And like the one that started after Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012 that included a gold won by Abhinav Bindra in shooting.

Meanwhile, Bollywood is abuzz with possibilities these Games have thrown up. Makers of Lagaan, Chak De, Mary Kom and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag are in a dead heat for producing the next sporting biopic on the lives of famous Indian Olympians, based on concocted stories linked to oppression under a foreign regime and the pain of partition. And if a concocted story shows that the Indian underdog always performs at the crunch, it must be true in real life too. And since we perform so well at the crunch, preparation is a waste of time.

The purpose is noble. The purpose is to inspire the youth to greater heights.

Business corporations are also abuzz. They have selflessly been trying to inspire their employees to greater performance and teaching them the fine arts of Change Management, Strategy and Leadership, by exposing them to rare snippets, that can be seen in movie halls by purchasing a ticket, from these great movies based on real concocted stories, in the confines of their training facilities. On account of the limited variety available in Bollywood, they have even exposed employees to rare footage from commercial Hollywood movies, mostly with a character played by Al Pacino who delivers a stirring speech and changes the world , that could be seen in a movie hall by purchasing a ticket. Now they will have a greater variety in Bollywood to choose from.

Indian coaches have been asked to focus on their own speech-making skills instead of working on their athletes.

Nothing comes easy in life. A few athletes like PV Sidhu and Sakshi Malik had threatened to derail the four-yearly celebration by winning medals at the just-concluded Games. Thankfully, it was not a communicable disease that the others caught.

All is well that ends well.

Already looking ahead to the festive period immediately after the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Panic grips Delhi as monsoon rains lower pollution levels

It was a scene straight out of a Hollywood horror movie. But without an American hero on hand to save the world.

The Great Rush

The Great Rush

There was shoving and jostling and pushing to catch the next train leaving town. Those who could afford to, packed their cars and fled.

The reasonably timely and plentiful rains in and around Delhi have washed away the atmospheric pollution, and with it the last vestige of normalcy, leaving hapless residents gasping for breath in an environment they are not familiar with, clean air.

An earthquake of 8+ magnitude on the Richter scale could not have caused such panic. Signs of distress are visible all around.

Too much visibility

Too much visibility

Motorists are in all sorts of trouble. Suddenly able to see far, drivers are having a difficult time keeping their focus on the road immediately ahead, and are bumping into all sorts of objects, including objects off the road. There is just so much visibility that one can handle.

Looks cool

Looks cool

Even man’s best friend has not been spared.

As can be expected, sports and outdoors people are among the first to be affected.

I Give Up

I Give Up

Cycling for health has gained popularity in recent times. But in the situation the city is presently in, cyclists have no option but to hang up their boots. “If there in no pollution about which awareness is to be raised, what is the point of cycling”, is a refrain one is hearing from the cycling community over and over again. And, indeed, from the running community as well.

What's a Doctor To Do?

What’s a Doctor To Do?

“We were trained to handle chest and lung problems caused by a polluted environment, not by a clean one”, this senior medic can be heard complaining. “We will have to go back to school. This puts at risk the years of hard work we put in at medical school.”

…even as queues at respiratory clinics around the city are rapidly increasing and threatening to go out of control.

But nothing like able leaders to show the way during a time of crisis.

PM Modi, as has come to be expected of him, was the first to take responsibility.

'Twas this finger that did it

‘Twas this finger that did it

In this TV grab, the PM can be heard saying “bhaiyon behnon, yeh is ungli ka kamaal hai; main chahta hoon ki desh ka har nagrik aur har bachcha apni ungli ka theek istemaal kare” (brothers sisters, it is the magic of this finger; I want every citizen and every child to make proper use of their finger). The faithful, of course, understand that he was implying that he reached up and punctured the clouds with that finger to let the rains come down.

Being an intelligent man, after taking credit for what he did not do, and knowing that rains were causing distress to the people, he has promised to tackle the problem on a war footing by launching the World Index Finger Day.

Face masks are becoming redundant.

This has let to sharp cutbacks in production in some factories in a country to the North and East, that manufactures everything in the world. This, in turn, has led to labour unrest in some parts of that country.

But, one man’s meat as another’s poison, they say.

Designers are stepping in to fulfil the need of locals to wear masks, which they have become accustomed to, and without which they feel naked. It is the latest fashion accessory to be seen in, in high society.

Here is an image of a socialite seen in a Prada mask at a popular event in Delhi.

Prada mask

Prada mask

Shopping malls, as part of their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) effort, are stepping in to do their bit by inviting people to breathe in their bottled, recirculated air while they shop.

Breathe in deeply

Breathe in deeply

A busy mall in the suburb of Gurgaon, abuzz with people eager for their “fix” of stale air.

Car companies are eagerly awaiting their turn to do a good turn to society.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, as has come to be expected of him, immediately announced relief for the beleaguered population by introducing the Odd-Even scheme. Readers of this blog might know that Mr. Kejriwal solves all issues with the help of his trusted Odd-Even scheme, be it excessive pollution, unmanageable traffic, or, as in this case, too little pollution.

Odd AND Even

The Power Plant in its heyday

Under the new version of the scheme, the decommissioned coal-burning Indraprastha power plant would be restarted to give the Delhi air some of its mojo back.

The new version is called Odd AND Even. The plant, once restarted will work on Odd days. AND on Even days.

Those were the days!

Those were the days!

Being the good man as all politicians are, or become, the Delhi CM is reported to be deeply affected by the developments. In this image, with a wistful look, he is watching a video of the halcyon days of Delhi. Can he bring those days back?

But there is good news. The Met department has forecast that rains will soon taper off and Delhi will return to its salad days of haze and smoke and smog and dust.

If people who have left Delhi are reading this, please plan on coming back soon. We miss you. More than that, we miss our atmospheric pollution.

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Cover Reveal: To Hunt a Sub

Sharing my longtime Blog-friend Jacqui Murray’s post revealing the cover of her novel “To Hunt a Sub”. Details about the book can be found in her post. Jacqui is an endless source of knowledge and guidance for budding writers and she makes available lots of resources through her blogs. Putting out a book in the “marketplace” is a moment fraught with nervous anxiety, even for a veteran writer which she is, and I wish her all the best with her book.

WordDreams...

I’ve been preparing for this day for… years… Maybe longer. Simple words don’t seem enough to share the emotion of the event. Maybe a drumroll (as efriend Rebecca Bradley used to launch her latest book):

Or would Pomp and Circumstance be better, as I prepare for my future as a world-acclaimed breakout author:

Or maybe, Ride of the Valkyries, with its energetic march into the unknown, head up, spirit brave:

I hope this cover embraces the risk-taker spirit of my characters, their noble goal, and the danger that floats just below the surface as they try everything in their power to save a world they believe in:
to hunt a sub

An unlikely team is America’s only chance

A brilliant Ph.D. candidate, a cynical ex-SEAL, and a quirky experimental robot team up against terrorists intent on stealing America’s most powerful nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine. By all measures, they are an unlikely trio–one believes

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No Mountain Too High

“Chairman of the National Thermal Power Corporation, sir.”

“CEO of State Bank of India, sir.”

“Director of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, sir.”

“Commander of the Armed Forces, sir.”

Designations, each more renowned and reputed than the last, were coming at him fast and thick. Delivered in a crisp tone, with body upright, as befitted the solemnity of the occasion.

The smile on the minister’s face was becoming harder and harder to hide, as he passed along the rows of youngsters, asking each of them the same question, “With the rigorous training you are getting, what do you aspire to become?”

This was not the graduation ceremony of the reputed Indian Administrative Service.

This was a bunch of youngsters hard at work at a cricket coaching academy in the city, trying to hone their skills at the game they loved. And the minister was doing what only seasoned politicians can do with such equanimity; preventing others from going about their life without any reason.

Momentarily, while passing along the rows, his mind had wandered back to the not so distant past when similar youngsters, after their playing years, would aspire to become coaches, selectors, commentators, umpires and even groundsmen, in order to stay close to the game they loved, and guide the next generation of cricketers in realizing their potential. But he quickly brushed that disturbing image aside and pushed ahead through the rows, bathed in the glow of the brave new world of possibilities.

The change in “sentiment”, that deep, meaningful and measurable, and particularly Indian, index, which logically explains everything from stock movements to the rise and fall of political fortunes, was palpable. There was electricity in the air.

The recent appointment of Chetan Chauhan (CC) as the Chairperson of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), a prestigious institution of learning, had opened the floodgates of aspiration amongst the middle class.

As everyone knows, CC is eminently qualified for the position of chairperson of NIFT. He played cricket for India in the company of the legendary Sunil Gavaskar. He runs a cricket coaching academy. He owns a printing business. What more credentials do you need? As the NIFT Act of 2006 also clearly says, the chairperson of the institute is expected to be an eminent academic, scientist, technologist or professional.

And yes, he bailed out the Union Finance Minister against charges of corruption and financial irregularities in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA), levelled against him when he was the President.

Meanwhile, getting ready for the role, CC has confirmed that he will be able to spend 20% of his time at NIFT which explains why his appointment as a full-time chairperson was necessary.

Now there is no mountain too high to climb for aspiring cricketers. No river too wide to swim. No jungle too dark to penetrate.

But even the government, always well prepared for the fracas its illogical and unilateral decisions generate, was taken by surprise at the violent reactions to this appointment. The opposition is baying for blood. They want to know why Sakshi Maharaj was not considered for this position. He has impeccable credentials. At no point of time in his life has he displayed anything which could even remotely be considered as studious or academic. CC, on the other hand, during his playing days, is known to have studiously left alone balls he could not play, or took them on his body. Sakshi Maharaj has also displayed an uncanny ability to make inane statements for no rhyme or reason. CC, in comparison, is barely audible. He even meekly accompanied Gavaskar when he walked out of a match in Australia in protest at poor umpiring.

What is a government to do? It takes decisions in the best interests of the common man and all it gets is rebukes.

Like any mature political establishment, the government is not responding to the criticism. When your conscience is clear, and you have acted in total disregard of commonly accepted rules, you don’t need to.

They have plans is what one hears from reliable sources. Sakshi Maharaj may be delayed, but he cannot be denied. He is soon to assume the role of chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India. It is learnt that the country’s reliance on imported enriched uranium will, as a result, reduce. Instead, Sakshi Maharaj’s volatile and inflammable temper tantrums will be used to light the centrifuges.

Other important appointments are also in the pipeline.

With the retirement of M S Dhoni, long-time captain of the Indian cricket team, from active service, nigh, it is learnt that Uma Bharti is being readied to take over the reins. By creating Ram temples on foreign pitches, she could well neutralise the “home” advantage held by teams like Australia, England and South Africa.

Anupam Kher is waiting for a suitable position to open up by hounding an existing incumbent to step down citing personal reasons.

In this reshuffle, driven by knowledge, competence and suitability for the job, Arun Jaitley could become the next RBI Governor.

Meanwhile cricket, always a top choice, is witnessing an unprecedented surge in popularity. If one becomes a cricketer, who knows what one could become.

 

Unprofessional

“I am not saying that at all. It is a responsible role. Sometimes he raises interest rates to control inflation and sometimes he lowers it to control inflation. Sometimes he raises interest rates to promote employment and sometimes he lowers it to promote employment. Sometimes he raises interest rates to improve the Foreign Exchange reserves and sometimes he lowers it to improve Foreign Exchange reserves.

At any given point of time, half the people are in favour of raising interest rates and the other half, as you might already have calculated, are in favour of reducing them. For achieving the same goals.

Once the action has been taken, either reducing or increasing rates, half the people, irrespective of what they were advocating before the decision was taken, are of the opinion that the situation has improved and the other half, as you might again have calculated, irrespective of what they were advocating before the decision was taken, hold the opinion that the situation has deteriorated.”

The recently appointed ruling-party member of the Rajya Sabha, who, for the sake of brevity we will call SS, was at pains to explain the importance of the role of the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). He had been cornered by a section of the media wanting to know the reasons behind the letter he had written to the Prime Minister asking for the removal of the RBI Governor, who, for the sake of brevity again, we will call RR. But, having studies and taught Economics at a leading American University, he was on home ground in this discussion.

SS had begun the discussion on a bellicose note, stating in no uncertain terms, “Unprofessional conduct will not be tolerated. Senior jobs are only for professionals. We owe it to the common man who has voted for professionalism in public affairs. We need a thorough professional for the position of RBI Governor.”

The gathered mediapersons cast accusing glances around the room at the other mediapersons, as if asking “Did you vote for professionalism in public affairs? Coz it wasn’t me.”

Schooled by their profession to be unfazed by political belligerence, they had shot back at SS with, “Can you explain what you mean by professional? Does RR not come with the highest professional qualifications, having studied at the most renowned educational institutions in India, thereafter continuing studies at a leading American University where he has also been teaching”?

“Unfortunately professional has become a loosely used term. I don’t think you people understand the meaning of the word professional,” SS had shot back with equal energy, which quickly transformed into a masterclass of what professional really means, for the gathered mediapersons. “Do you know who is a professional? A professional is one who toes the party-line; of the party in power. A professional is one who is unable to make eye contact with a passing politician, of whatever rank the politician be. A professional is one who speaks in the voice of his employer and can explain away frequent missteps of his employers, politicians in this case, with arcane theories. A professional is who has little independent standing in the world and is forever beholden to the political establishment for his job.

Look at the legendary RBI governors we have had in the past. Thorough professionals. Very few people would have even suspected the existence of the post of RBI Governor, let alone heard their name. And almost nobody knew how their job impacted anyone’s life. Oh, how we wish for such men in today’s times.”

The gathered mediapersons looked at each other. It was as if a weight had been lifted off their chest. They finally knew who a professional was. But they were mediapersons. It was not in their JD to let go. They persisted: “But surely that cannot be reason enough for asking for his removal.”

SS, seeing that the mediapersons were getting it, mellowed down: “You are right. Everyone knows we are fair people. We are fair to everyone who agrees with us. There is another charge against RR. Do you know that he is mentally not fully Indian and has wilfully wrecked the economy.”

Media: “But how did you measure his mental Indianness?”

SS: “I will tell you how. How many times have you heard him say that mythology, wherever it is Hindu, is equal to history?”

Mediapersons looked at each other. They had heard and seen leading politicians and religious leaders do it, but never RR. They shook their heads and said “never”.

SS smiled wryly and continued. “Have you heard him say ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’ without any reason, especially when someone senior in the political hierarchy is watching?”

Mediapersons looked at each other. They had seen and heard leading Bollywood actors and politicians do it, but never RR. The light of realisation was dawning. They shook their heads and said “never”.

SS: “Now do you see why he is not fully Indian?”

Mediapersons were quiet. Sensing his opportunity, SS moved in for the kill: “Moreover, he is also mentally not fully Indian because he has studied and taught Economics at a leading American University. How can you entrust the affairs of the RBI to such a person. We have more mentally fully Indian applicants for the position who have not studied or taught at any leading American University. Some of them have not even studied or taught at any leading, or even lagging, Indian University.

He is not a politician, after all. Only Indian politicians have the ability to study and teach at a leading American University and still be mentally fully Indian. Other than that, the only position open to Non-Resident Indians is a nomination to the Rajya Sabha, especially if they are rich and are likely to invest in unviable businesses by borrowing money from public sector banks.

Besides, he was appointed by the previous government.”

Mediapersons reeled. Logic was difficult to argue against at the best of times. Coming from a maverick leader with a penchant for shooting his mouth off at the slightest provocation, it became an insurmountable task. They struggled to regain some dignity and made a weak query: “But what about the position itself? Do you not think it is an important position for which we should seek out the best person?”

SS’ response is captured in the opening paragraphs of this story. He concluded that analysis with: “As there no clear evidence to say what really happens when interest rates are either reduced or increased, he must be operating against the interest of the country. QED.”

Refreshment trolleys being rolled in saved further embarrassment for the mediapersons. They could avoid looking into the searing eyes of SS with the excuse of picking up a cup of tea.

SS, sensing the need of the moment, climbed down from the dais and mingled with the group. Placing his arm around the shoulders of one, he said, “These are dark days indeed. If RBI governors start opening their mouths and voicing opinions, what will politicians do? Do we want thousands of politicians to lose their jobs just because we have a transparent RBI governor? It will lead to anarchy. Whose utterances will people make fun of? How will we waste the billions we collect as taxes? Senior people need to be careful.”

Picking up a cup of tea and moving onto another scribe, he continued, “Look at toxic debts of public sector banks. Which RBI governor in the past has pushed public sector banks to sever relationships with leading industrial houses by asking for borrowings to be paid back? How will the country finance the next elections if we make recovery claims against industrialists? On whose money will industrialists make merry?”

Moving onto a third scribe, he said, “Have you heard of an RBI governor saying ‘in the land of the blind, one-eyed is king’? Which country’s Central Bank does he think he manage that he has to speak the truth? Norway? Canada? The common man in India is mature. He can handle lies. Again and again. The same ones.”

Meanwhile, at another event, the RBI governor has expressed views. Once again. On the Licence raj and Permit raj. On regulations for small and medium enterprises. On smooth availability of finance. On access to input and output market. On healthy competition. And many other areas that planners and governments need to focus on.

Some people never learn, it seems.

Game Of The Name

Because it is a myth, silly boy!

The event was a meeting of the town council to select a new name for their town where the “silly boy”, one of the younger prticipants, had been chastised for asking a logical question. At important events logical questions have only one logical response, round chastisement of the “asker”.

A new name for the town had become a necessity after it was realised that there was no earthly reason to change it.

Tempers at the council meeting had been frayed as finding a suitable name had been an uphill task. Council members had read and re-read all known epics, and some unknown ones as well, to locate a suitable name. The elders knew that if the name did not emerge from a myth, there was no way it would be recognised as a historical fact by the central government.

Not finding a name to their liking, the town council had finally decided to invent a name. And not wishing to leave a job only half done, they had also commissioned a set of popular writers to conjure up a new epic, flowing with the valour and wisdom of the ancestors of the current ruling dispensation so that the text could soon be recognised as historical fact.

There was no time to lose. Who was to say that the criteria for granting “Smart” status to a city would not be the number of times the city had changed its name without reason. Or its name being drawn from a popular myth.

It was under these extraordinary circumstances the “silly boy” had displayed the effrontery of asking for the logic behind the selection of the new name, and had been roundly chastised.

The floodgates had opened on 12th April, when the Haryana government took the decision of renaming Gurgaon to Gurugram.

The last couple of decades have sped past as our leaders have methodically gone about the task of uplifting our collective esteem by changing colonial-era names to, well, non-colonial-era names. Time flies when one is having fun.

But, as Bombay made way for Mumbai, Bangalore for Bengaluru, Calcutta for Kolkata and Madras for Chennai, there was an increasing sense of disquiet in the common man.

Would the good times soon come to an end? Are we running out of colonial-era names to change? Would we have to go back to the days when political leaders had to at least try to govern instead of changing names? What would they do once these names had been changed?

But we need not have worried.

In corporate circles they say a capable employee will always deliver value to the organisation.

So it is with able politicians, as has been my learning these past few weeks. Elect a capable leader and leave the worrying to him. He will always deliver value.

As we have perhaps seen in the case of great corporations, each business has evolved from a human need. But once that need has been satisfied, they have kept on creating unneeded needs and the common man has kept responding, by desperately needing those unneeded needs, and buying.

So is the case with the government of Haryana, that has found ways of delivering value, as is expected of able governments working for the welfare of the common man. If changing of colonial-era names is done, what stops us from changing non-colonial-era names to, well, different non-colonial-era names? Which other state government had the foresight to offer this welfare scheme to the common man of their state? Separates the men from the boys, doesn’t it?

And it is no ordinary change. It is a change dripping with historical significance. Because it is based on a mythological fact. In Mahabharat, one of the great Hindu epics, Yudhishtir, the eldest of the Pandav princes, had gifted this site to their teacher, Guru Dronacharya. Hence its original name was Gurugram, which, translated, means Village of the Teacher, to which it has been rightfully restored. We know this since it is a mythological fact. Case closed.

Delving a little deeper into the story, sorry historical fact, Guru Dronacharya was the one who refused martial arts education to Eklavya, a child of low birth. The guru who, a few years later, astounded by the prowess of the child who he had once refused to teach, asks for his thumb as guru-dakshina (offering for the teacher) so that he could never compete with the princes he was instructing. How was the guru to know that democratic and fair winds would be blowing in the 21st century, calling upon all human beings to be treated equal. How could he have envisaged that? Hence it is important that we name it after the guru and not after Eklavya.

The sigh of relief across the nation is palpable. Yes we can. We can change the names of places. Whether colonial or non-colonial.

It follows, therefore, that we will be able to dodge nuclear missiles and hydrogen bombs from hostile states.

Bareilley to Barasat and Mandu to Meerut, each self-respecting village, taluka and town is voraciously reading up historical myths to find a suitable name that will lead them to everlasting happiness. They don’t want to be left behind.

The Haryana government, it appears, even after taking this momentous decision, was humble enough to acknowledge the role the common man has played. “This has been done because of a demand from the people”, they have graciously acknowledged.

Now we know why potholes in roads have not been filled. Why electricity supply is erratic. Why there is no street lighting. Why loudspeakers are allowed to operate beyond 10 PM at night. Simply because there has been no demand from people. What other reason can there be?

But this humble acknowledgment has confused the common man. If it was a demand from the people, how many were killed and how many billions worth of property destroyed, they have demanded to know. After all, the last demand from the people in the state was for reservation by the Jat community a couple of months back in which several were killed and property worth billions destroyed, and rape allegations pertaining to which are still being investigated. When did this, the name-change, demand come from the people?

The government has clarified that for a demand from the people to be accepted by the government, it needs to be made on the night preceding the night of the full moon, at a time that is neither prior to 7 PM nor later than 8 PM, on a day when an earthquake of an intensity of at least 6.5 on the Richter scale has struck with an epicentre that is not more than a thousand miles away, the Chief Minister is wearing a pink kurta and had consumed three idlis for breakfast alongwith cold milk, and within 24 hours of the 75-year old Governor having run 100 metres in under 10 seconds.

If the above conditions are not met, then, to be successful, the demand from the people, whether made or not, will be for an ideology based decision the government has been dying to take.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, argued Juliet in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. But that was her opinion. We have ours.