The weekend was quite eventful. As was heard crackling on Ferrari’s team radio after Alonso’s F1 win. “Grande Weekend,” said the excited voice and I am quite excited too with the outcome of the race. Fernando Alonso made the most of a faultless tyre strategy to give Ferrari an impressive first win of the season. We are obviously waiting for more!
Speed was the operative word at the track, though the same can’t be said for Sampath Chawla’s life in the small and sleepy town of Shahkot. Sampath, the protagonist of Kiran Desai’s award-winning book, ‘Hullabaloo In The Guava Orchard,’ is deemed a failure who gains sudden fame by the residence he takes upon a guava tree. This book is a delightful satire on society, known definition of success and the trite ways of the world, where a dreamer seeking solitude is considered strange. My favourite character is that of Kulfi, Sampath’s eccentric mother who understands her son and cooks him the most exotic meals under extraordinary circumstances. I found the story refreshing and insightful. All the characters have strong presence but Sampath’s grandmother, who is respectfully called Ammaji, tickled my senses the most. Her denture-adventure had me in splits. Ammaji’s ideas are usually stoic but she’s slightly sympathetic towards her grandson. As she says, “But the world is round. Wait and see! Even if it appears he is going downhill, he will come up on the other side. Yes, on top of the world. He is just taking the longer route.” True to her belief, Sampath did emerge somewhere on the top, on top of a tree, that is and then fame followed.
Taking the shorter route to fame over the weekend was the Korean Singer, Psy with the release of his second blockbuster, ‘Gentleman’. Last I checked, it had amassed 10.7 million views. My appropriate reaction to this staggering number should be ‘wow’. Instead it’s a ‘sigh’. A grateful sigh for Psy, for offering comic relief through hit songs and awkward dance moves, especially in these troubled times when a nuclear threat hangs in the region, 11 children are accidentally killed by NATO airstrikes, violence spreads in Myanmar, UN Partition Act of 1948 continues to cause conflicts in the middle east and racism, sexism, pollution, corruption, genocide etc continue to assault humanity. In such troubled times, Psy rises with silly songs and sillier moves. Sigh! You got to admit humour is better than war and a hope of a beginning is better than being stagnant. We got it.
Offering a new beginning is today’s date. Many of the Indian states have been celebrating their new year in the last few days. Today, we celebrate ours. In Bengal, it’s also called Poila Boishakh. Wishes are for everybody and so wishing everyone an auspicious start. To the bongs, Shubho Nobo Borsho!
(Image courtesy, folk artist Dithi Chakraborty)