Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why Fast?

Fasting has a rich and colourful history. After all Jesus did it for forty days, Gandhi did it for plenty of days and I continue to do it every Good Friday. The results of the fasting by the aforementioned : the defeat of the Devil , the defeat of the British and grand effects which remain to be seen.
However, my friends, there has lately been a besmirching of the grave tradition of fasting. For yesterday, five thousand rickshaw drivers sat cross-legged beneath the peepul trees outside the transport department, subsisting purely on a diet of air and and dust. That's right, our rickshaw drivers  decided to go on a Fast - one that promises to be more gruelling than that of Baba Ramdev and nearly at par with Mr. Modi.
One can sympathise with both Baba Ramdev's and Mr Modi's fasts. After all , Baba Ramdev is a yoga instructor and yogic instructors who don't periodically go on fasts are simply not the real deal. With Mr Modi, again, we understand. In a territory of political unrest such as Gujarat, there is nothing that soothes the rage of the fiery condemners like the knowledge that their prime target is going without three square meals.

But the rickshaw drivers?
At every step of the way, the connections don't quite add up. Let's take a possible series of connections :
I had my meter corrected -> I feel hard done by -> I fast.
Examine the first connection.. My meter has just been corrected. As a responsible citizen of India, shouldn't this be my reaction ? : "Excellent, one more substandard object in my country is now functioning as it should. Particularly since I deal directly with it. I will hold my head high, clap my grubby hands and laud the government hoping that the next item on the list is the foul roads".
Contrary to all expectation, the reaction of the rickshaw drivers was p-p-p-petulance.
And now, for the second connection:
 I am irritated and angry and therefore I fast.
Wouldn't this be more appropriate?  : "I am irritated and angry, therefore I drown my sorrows in food and drink". For I have noticed that Catholics are liable to be  irritable on Good Friday for no other reason than lack of food. And because it is self-imposed. If I, catholic, am on the street without anything to eat and no means to assuage my hunger, I would feel quite supplicant towards God and the public - an avemarie never too far from my lips. However , I am not destitute and not on the streets. Therefore, on Good Friday it is quite a different emotion that gnaws at my consciousness  - extreme, palpable irritation. And if I have another reason to be irritated before the hunger starts taking over, God help the poor fool who attempts to pronounce my name wrong.

Why have I said all this? Merely to point to the fact that if you are  a)Not Gandhi b) Not Baba Ramdev and c) Not Mr. Modi , fasting is simply not the solution .

However, for the rest of us, this debilitating fast which kept the rickshaw drivers off the road meant good news. The roads were cleaner, better, brighter. There were fewer cockroach like structures, and the ones present did not have  streams of red paan periodically shooting from their orifices (wherefore I infer that rickshaw-fasting includes abstinence from paan-chewing) . Furthermore, if one looked sufficiently far, one could see the odd rickshaw driver running away from a mob of other drivers determined to flog him. I gather these drivers-errant were caught  in the act of surreptitious ice-cream-indulgence by the fasting masses.

And now, I must become serious.
For I have a plan, O my brothers. In this modern mayhem called Modern Mother India, it is extremely easy to call a fast. Let's fast. You and I. I and you. Let's abstain from the cockroaches, let's use our God-given legs. This will cause the amusing incidents mentioned above to continue while improving our much battered health - battered further by the excreting cockroaches. For my part, I don't mind the enforcement of Pest Control till Andheri. Maybe we can all get used to that eventually. Whatever happens, if we adhere to this we will be in a position to assert that it is we, Homo Sapiens will be in control, and not the three legged insects.

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