The other day I was walking out of my gate with my two sons. A guy passed us by, looking intently at my face, and then retraced his steps and asked me my name. I looked at him for a few seconds and gave my name. He followed it up with “Are you Christians?” I said no. “Hindus?” Again I replied in the negative. He seemed to be a bit confused whether to go on to the next religion in his list or not. You see, I have this secular, religion-neutral name common to mallus born in the 60s and 70s and he was not sure whether that name worked for Muslims, etc. I decided to help him out and said, “I don’t believe in any imaginary being or in any religion.” He seemed offended by my answer and told me that my response was uncalled for, I have no right to ridicule god, and how did I think we were all here, blah, blah. I cut off the blahs and told him, “Look pal, you’re the one who came to me and asked me my religion. So, if you don’t like what I have to say about it, get lost.” He mumbled that I was right on that point and went away. He must have been a member of one of those Jehovah’s Witness or some such cultish group attracted by the Xmas star still dangling from my porch.
Anyway, the point is, religion is always in your face here in our country. Kerala used to be slightly better, but even here it is getting out of control. So much so that, even the Marxists have inducted Jesus into their pantheon of revolutionary leaders alongside Marx, Lenin, Che, et al (they also have Kim Jong-il, which I find interesting). Most of what Jesus did would fall under the communist concept of things and some fair-minded priests have acknowledged as much. Note to capitalists: Jesus ‘distributed’ whatever bread he had to the thousands who followed him. He didn’t tell them, “OK guys, this is how you make bread. Now, go and find yourselves some wheat and get to work if you don’t want to starve.” It didn’t matter how many bread molecules each person got. All that mattered was that they got something.
Well, now since Jesus is in there, the next logical step for the Marxists would be to incorporate Mohammed into the scheme of things. That is not going to be easy. For one, you can’t have any imagery (google “Jesus and Mo” for a weekly take on deep religious thoughts and some images). The maximum you can do is replace the sickle with the crescent, which would go well with the cross that replaced the hammer.
When did we reach this stage of fear of religion? The last and only person I could remember saying anything was C Kesavan, a former chief minister who died more than 40 years ago. He was supposed to have said “good riddance, that much less superstition” on hearing about Sabarimala temple being gutted by fire. He probably knew, by virtue of being the CM, the ‘secret’ of the divine fire makaravilaku and would have wanted to save the many that die in stampedes every year trying to watch that fire.
Now, you have women sitting on the street named after C Kesavan, inhaling photochemical smog, making offerings, flavoured with exhaust fumes and garnished with dust, to a goddess in a temple situated 4 kilometres away; all as part of the biggest congregation of superstitious women in the world. Now, you have obscure mullahs threatening to make $hit-fests out of lit-fests prompted by the devious media. Oh, for a C Kesavan!
A brief look at the ongoing theme of rail-related humbug in Kerala: The govt. has decided to go ahead with the high-speed rail and the pods. There was a report that Japan even promised their 700-series shinkansen for the high-speed rail project. Wow, I hope they are giving it for free. The only thing now left for Japan will be to offer to pay for the tickets of travellers. I'm sure our railway god can get that and more from JICA. To give you an idea of the shinkansen ticket price in Japan - a one-way ticket from Tokyo to Osaka is about 12,000 yen (Rs. 7,600), whereas a cheap airline ticket is about 9,000 yen (5,700). That is more than what an enslaved nurse makes a month in the enlightened, progressive, red communist Kerala. Let’s hope we all strike oil in our backyards (don’t have a backyard? tough luck.) and become rich like the Arabs to keep up with this govt’s dreams.
Talking of dreams, I like this government’s slogan “athi vegam, bahu dooram,” which can be loosely translated as “at great speed, going a long way”. And that is what they are doing –at high speeds; going far, very far away from realities.
P.S. It will be good fun to keep track of the money trail in these dream projects - the consultancies, the feasibility studies, the real estate deals… yummy!