Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cry foul with style!!! A kiss and a wish!!!


Q: What is it like to be going ahead with the Odarpu Yatra amidst so much clout and charges?
...it feels great that I went ahead with it...I still remember the moment when I saw my father's remains and the chopper and in that emotional moment...PAUSE...

He gets out of the bullet proof black Scorpio car, perching on the railing and as he raises his right hand to wave...a huge uproar....JAI JAGAN...JAI JAI JAGAN...and then you see the sea of people waiting to just grab the hand which extends to them slowly...two minutes and he is back inside the car.

He wipes his face, pops a mint candy and turns towards me...Yes, so where was I?

That is Jagan Mohan Reddy...nothing like what is written in Wikipedia...or nothing as written in any article or not even the vehemant person you see reacting to accusations. This is the man who in just one year has won the confidence of crores of people of Andhra Pradesh.

I will not get into the nuances of rumours and some realities maybe...as said that it is the power of money and muscle which has got him here...I really would not want to get into that at all.

I must agree that I am writing this only on the perspective of having spent 14 hours with this man when he was in his best moments as I would call it. It is devoid all the political clout...

Considering that people have only read about his Odarpu Yatra and have just seen visuals of it on television...I shall tell you more than that.

Jagan Mohan Reddy is almost campaigning...when I say campaigning, I mean it in every way. This is the only reason for the Congress party to be driven up the wall; ofcourse lot of other reasons...yet!!! Jagan starts his day at 9 am and is on the road covering over a hundred villages, maybe more, in a day...and his day ends at 4 am. He is up again at 9 am for the next one.

He is a man who has had even people who are TDP voters change sides and chant his name. Initially, when I somehow squeezed myself through the huge ocean of people and literally tore a bit of my denim and a bit of my shirt to get into the car, I was wondering what exchanges was really taking place between Jagan and the people. My cameraperson who somehow managed to get by my side said, 'he is saying something to them and it sounds strange'. I gave him this weird look and said, 'let me find out'.

Considering that he would step out of the car almost every two minutes, I decided to let him warm up a bit before I asked him to continue the interview. Meanwhile, I decided to do a bit of snooping around. While Jagan got out of the car and threw himself into the crowd, I also did the same and was almost standing next to him, when I noticed what he was saying...Jagan has touched the hearts of children and women, elderly, middle aged and young. He kisses and blesses every single child in the vicinity and hugs every elderly woman and says, 'bye thalli (mother)'. Bye Ma (for sisters)...

What attracts them to him is that he is young, he seems promising, he is the son of a giant politician who won the hearts of all farmers in Andhra Pradesh. His yatra through villages is a combination of stops for speeches, stops to unveil the statue of his father, stops to wish people, stops to visit houses...and most of it are stops which are not planned...he would stop for every person who is on the road...If I could specify...in one kilometer, if there are ten people standing at different locations, he will stop for every single person, get out of the car and wish them.

It is just amazing to see the way he is connecting to people...it is magic. Even before Jagan reaches a place, there are people gathered in thousands. There is everything available for him inside the car..it is like a limo ;)

Believe me u...when Jagan has by mistake, and when I say by mistake missed a particular stop, people would just go wild...and the result of one of that was a huge stone which came flying onto the rear window of his car. And yes, it is bullet proof...so all that the stone did was create a small teeny weeny spot on the window pane. Now, that is anger due to desparation. And since then Jagan decided to stop no matter what.

Another instance I could remember is of a little boy who lay on the road in front of his car and said he would not move if Jagan was not going to visit his home. Now, would Jagan refuse? Hell no!!!

He gets a breather of two or three minutes after every stop...during that time, he is either sipping water, eating a mint candy or in deep thought. He believes!!!

Coming back to the questions I was asking him, well, he obviously cried foul and described all that he went through ever since the death of his father. This is the man who is sitting on a Rs 430 crore asset plus a lot more, facing CBI charges, now having cancelled his Odarpu for some time...

What I also noticed is that even if his stops are for one minute or maybe a bit more...he notices a lot and incorporates that into his memory and later puts them down to come up with a scheme which he proposes to these people. For example: He actually got into this full conversation with this boy who told him that there were no english medium schools in their village and there are kids who want to learn english. He registers that and says, 'you will soon go to one'.

His day ends up at the house of a farmer who committed suicide after hearing the shock of his fathers death, where he obviously offers the entire family help. He then would go to a huge public hearing and later would go back to visiting villages till 4 am. He would retire after that for just a small nap and he is back on his toes.

Oh, I forgot to mention, lot of women out there have a super soft corner for this man :) my little investigation and snooping around helped ;) heehee.

When he is out there, he is not a man of power, money, muscle and the rest...he is a man who has won the hearts of everybody...and we got to see where that would take him.

At the end of it, I was tired and the man wished me and the cameraperson a good journey back to Hyderabad and said, 'good luck'. Simple yet majestic!!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Never say it!!!

"You have become a typical Hyderabadi. Look at what you wear, look at your nail paint". When this sentence was thrown at me more than ten times by ten different people, that was the moment when something rang inside my skull...racism of a different kind!!! That is what I think. Racism does not have to just do with the colour of the skin or your origin or geographical placement of your ancestors. I was initially taken aback especially because the comment was coming from people whom I know like very well and some others I would call ignorant and stupid.

Four months in a new city and I had learnt to just sit inside a room and not go out anywhere. Not because there isnt anything to do. I shall explain the metamorphosis of this. BTW, I am from Bangalore and I have had no such encounters, ocourse comments about my skin complexion being a complex was long gone.

Day 4 of my entry into a hostel in Hyderabad: A Sunday when there is so much of banter in the hostel...I went up to the TV set and flicked the channels to find a news channel...ignoring the dozen girls who were watching some reality show on a Telugu channel. After five minutes I walked away, but, did not forget to tell the girls that I was a journalist not with the intention not with the intention to bloat in my own glory but to indicate the reason for my sudden appearance. Well, in those five minutes the girls tried to protest and got no response from me. well, why am i rambling is what you are going to ask...well, then came the moment, when I was turning to go into my room, when a stout big bust girl approached me and said..."hello ji, my name is Kanchan Singh (name changed). aapka naam?" I smiled and told her my name. Within the next ten minutes, madam stranger had become madam open book. She narrated her life story...now dont you want to know what her story is...a typical story taken out of a diary of a struggling wannabe model. "I will take revenge. That Hyderabadi girl stole my project. I am here in Hyderabad only to take revenge. If I was in Delhi I would have squeezed her life out", she barked.

Day 6: Kanchan walks into the hostel and noticed me standing in a corner and filling water into a jug. She comes up to me and hugs me. She then asks me to show her my room. I take her along because I noticed that she was drunk. Well, but I realised that even the drunkenness would not stop her from being what she is. A racist!!!
She came into my room and scanned it squinting her eyes a bit. She turns towards me and says, "is your room mate a Hyderabadi?" I insisted to correct what she had just said and replied, "she is a native of Andhra Pradesh. Yes. She is great company". My roomate walks in that very moment and glares at Kanchan who was btw, I forgot to mention scanty clothed. I immediately take this girl out of the room. Kanchan holds me and says, "Hyderabadi". My face flushed outta color and I immediately noticed my roomate approaching us. I just turned and pushed Kanchan away. She murmmured under her breath and walked away. Roomie and I never spoke about it.

Day 10: After four days of successfully avoiding Kanchan, I was on my way to achieve another day of avoiding, when she landed from nowhere into my room. She came in when I was getting ready to scoot to work. She came up to me and said, "arrey,what are you wearing?you look so Hyderabadi. Red chappals with a yellow kurta and denim." I was completely miffed this time. Isaid, "those are bathroom slippers and I do not wear them to work". I just gave Kanchan my usual "I am going to punch you" look and told her politely, "I have to rush now. I will talk to you later". She just smiled and went away.

After that day, I deliberately avoided Kanchan, even if she was almost naked in front of me one day. Heehee. Well, do not read in between the lines. She even tried to shove her face one day into my face...you know like bump into me literally and play the dodging game. Whatever, she never got what she wanted from me!!!

One month later, I get to hear the same thing from my friend who visited me. Then I hear it from my friends whom I met when I went down to Bangalore.

Now, let me tell you the other side to the story. When I reached Hyderabad, I was amazed that girls were completely clad. Initially I assumed that it is sporadic. But, when I noticed that in every part of the beautiful city of Hyderabad, women are completely clad; when I say completely clad, it means, just the eyes are seen, similar to wearing a burkha, but these women were not burkha clad. There are burkha clad women in Hyderabad.

Then I went about asking people I know why the women were completely clad. Some said, its the weather, some said its fashion, some said, well, Hyderabad also has a high crime rate.

Now, what is the connection, well, I eventually found myself changing into the same fully clad woman. My reason: Men who drool over a mannequin also which is clad completely BTW. Hmmmmm. So you can guess the rest.

If this is what a Hyderabadi is, well, I am proud that I turned into one.

I love the city and it is so much more peaceful and serene as compared to Bangalore. Bangalore is where I belong, but, Hyderabad is so much more calm and the roads are a marvel.

PS: Now I do not care when someone says, Hyderabadi and all that stupid talk.