April 2007



Uttar Pradesh, Sunday 29th April
The natives are restless!!! Effigies of Richard Gere are being burnt in the street!! Is nothing sacred!!!!
It appears that the scent of scandal surrounding Gere”s sleazy neck nibbling of saucy starlet Shilpa Shetty ( on the podium at an Aids fund-raiser  in Delhi)  is not going to blow away. “Obscene!! Un-Indian" screams the Hindu right. A warrant has been issues for his arrest.
“What’s truly obscene” I scream back, “is the treatment of contractors and design consultants in this country!!!”
Shetty has gone on a pilgrimage of holy temples in her home state Kerala.
Gere has apologized, and, to his credit, not once invoked the Dalai Lama.

At half time during the world cup final a studio panel of Delhi cricket experts appear on the screen. The back-ground music is “The Guns of Navarone” (again). A Shilpa Shetty look-alike starts telling us all about the abstract expressionist Satya Paul sari she’s wearing and that she had planned to wear a sari of flags of all countries (see Togo Big Mama's world cup outfit on strangerinparadise.com) but couldn't wear it because some-one had phoned in and said that, as an Indian, she should only wear an India flag.

I was reminded of what John Cleese said in an interview in Hollywood when asked: "What is the difference between the U.S and England.” “Well,” he answered, “when we have a world championship we invite other countries.”

• • • • •

The next morning I woke up and turned on the telly to see who’d won. The Te Deum for a papal mass was playing behind shots of the glorious little Ozzie battlers doing high fives.

Of course India does televised  “idol” shows better than anyone, The panel of judges sit in the audience in  sawn-off Cadillacs and the audience goes ballistic when some slightly portly aunty comes out in a brown sari and black leotards and does a spirited version of Praveen Babi’s epic dance solo in the 60s movie classic  “lo Beedi Dadap Hai Hai” (“hit my big  ass tomorrow”). The Indian public reward true grit. Basically, idol shows just stream now, on half the commercial channels; the other half are either Breaking News or cricket matches this century which India has won). On another show a 12 year old boy in a red sequin neo-Elvis jump suit did hip shudders and pelvic thrusts of a style that would make Michael Jackson blush!!!
This does not seem to bother the Hindu right.

A friend's garden project in Kodaikanal has been stopped by a high government official because "Sai Baba is coming to town." It seems that the Sai Baba is no longer content to just build gawdy, almost-treeless concrete cantonments of the spiritual Disneyland kind but also has to send out send out karmic vibes  to put down quaint Kodai-Chic garden projects. .


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