If you ask me, October 2nd, Gandhi Jayanti, has long back been forgotten, save the billboards that come up on Bapu’s birthday or the sale commencing at the Khadi Gram Udyog on that day. Remember Gandhiji wanted India to be self-reliant, and so home-spun cloth `khadi’ came into being. The sale of home-grown cloth—whether carpets, blankets, kurtas etc. and etc.—used to begin on 2nd of October and go on for nearly four months.
Would end on January 30th, the Martyrdom Day…when Bapu was gunned down in cold blood while on his way for morning prayers. A couple of years back, had gone to the Khadi in Connaught Place, accompanied with the enthusiasm of a shopper about to be carrying bags of goods for 50% less than the original and had to quite control my jaw from falling on the floor with a thud, when told that the sale had ended.
This was, I should think, the start of November. Of course, had to cut my wish-list to half while asking the lady at the counter, who was delivering a non-stop monologue over her mobile and my interruption not sitting well with her. (Ah, little wonder that we hanker for government jobs…clock in work-hour and a little while later, it’s lunch-time with pack-up time abided by, with complete allegiance to the clock, right down to its second hand!)
However, back to my query: how come the Gandhi Jayanti sale was short-lived? Shrugging shoulders in way of a reply, while continuing, nineteen to the dozen, on the phone. In for another rude jolt, a dispirited me, while going through the shelves bundled with durries, sheets, pillow cases and what not, that when the sale was on, it was not a slash half the price bargain but, a nothing-to-write-home-about 20% off on whatever was needed.
Gandhiji, receding further and further into a rapidly changing landscape, with which each passing day, becomes a foggy background. Remain flummoxed on the sheared-off Khadi Gram’s taking the sale-off-the-rack policy. After all, it was not about the sale but remembering the Father of the Nation’s life-long sacrifice towards the Country’s Independence. So why the scissoring of days, sending up the river, a significant historic patch?! Anyways, the reason for starting off with October 2nd, was because for perhaps, a year or two, given our, for the most, distracted hyper-deficit attention span go down in our higgledy-piggedly sense of history, as the day when Shahrukh’s son, Aryan along with two of his friends, were nabbed by the Narcotics Control Bureau while going to take off for the weekend to Goa on an ultra-luxury cruise.
Methinks, the trio was collared and nailed before they made their way into the palatial cabins on the charge of lugging a bumper crop of high-ended drugs. Other matters, such as the Lakhimpur Kheri bestial mowing down of farmers supposedly by a minister’s son made it as watered-down, second-fiddle news. Aryan, son of Bollywood’s Badshah, with a heightened sense of missionary zeal was detained on that Saturday, the 2nd of October, to be put behind bars, imprisoned with hardened criminals, six days later, in Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail. Television, but naturally, swooped in for the kill—it wasn’t every day when one could lay hands on such a dramatic, sensational story.
After all, such stories were what eye-popping, hair-raising blockbuster movies were made of, and so to recce on high-gear the right of way. Theories abounded galore and shan’t bother to get into them except for, what to my perception, was the most boneheaded, birdbrained of them all—imbecilic re-eally—that Aryan was a part of a global drug nexus, peddling drugs from distant expanses of planet earth. Seriously?! Did he, Aryan, son of power-couple, SRK and Gauri need, for crying out aloud, to be in this `dhanda’ for the life of it?!
Fine, he might be consuming drugs, might be even an addict (though, try as I might, don’t know how he had acquired, with commendable grades, a degree in film-making from the University of California if he was a hash-head…how does a fuzzy, blurred brain absorb anything?!) but did he, honestly speaking, need to go through the hoopla of dealing with hoodlums, stowing away dope in satin socks to cab away for Mafia Dons, pouncing on these opiates with fingers clad in jewelled rings?! And Cordelia, the Cruise Ship, went scot-free to sail the waters?! Why were the rest of the passengers not frisked?! Was the Narcotics team in the pre-knowhow that the rest of the holidayers were squeaky clean, setting off on a religious pilgrimage of sorts?! Cordelia, not halted in her tracks because it means, `the Daughter of the Sea God’?! And if this ship—the jewel of the sea—went skating by, as an afterthought, should not the Narcotics squad have roped in the Coast Guards for them to change Cordelia’s tide and send her packing back to the port of embarkment, Mumbai?! And why this, bright-eyed earnestness by the NCB, this abounding keenness to lock up these alleged hopheads?!
This Operation Clean-Up, with a voracious appetite, specific to a handful of supposed Stoners?! On the evening of October 28th, Aryan and the other two, were finally granted bail much to the open-mouthed dismay of the prosecution. `Udta Punjab’, just a commercially viable movie or a dark reality, eating away pointedly into the innards of the youth, as well as with over the years, because of purposely taking no notice, the now middle-aged junkie consumers. And then what say one of Kasol in Himachal, some 39 kms from Kullu?! A Druggie Paradise, a Haven for Crackheads, where `charas’ is given a confectionary ring to it, going by the name `malana cream’. In Kasol, one will in abundance, find Israeli tourists and some even have, howsoever, made this hamlet their home. Heard of Jewish Himachalis?!
However, why wander so far off…In my neighbourhood, in parks and cul-de-sac roads, kids as young as 13 have drug dens, all under the open skies. This with the police patrolling the turf—in the name of security—turning bat-blind. Drugs in their zone? Never! My submission: should not all of them be rounded up?! Yes, soon enough there’d be a shortage of prisons! And yes, Gandhiji finally, would give us the India he dreamt and worked towards.
Dr Renée Ranchan writes on socio-psychological issues, quasi-political matters and concerns that touch us all.