I went to my hometown a few weeks back for a surprise visit to my mother. Three days later, while President Pratibha Patil was probably doing an extra kilometer on the treadmill preparing for her historic flight in the Sukhoi, I was slowly losing my health to my first major illness ever- dengue. Not that I was complaining. It was after all the gravest thing happening to me since common cold four years back.
I lay there, in the hospital bed, feeling like shit, vomiting, venting, sweating. And like the IV fluid that snaked its way through my system, in the rest of the country, memories of 26/11 were surreptitiously creeping into open minds. The first year anniversary of the Bombay terror attacks was drawing close and people were venting, sweating and spewing…has security increased? Do we have better arms and ammunition? Are the victims compensated? The date was drawing close.
Seven seas away, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was warmly welcomed by President Barack Obama. 350 guests were privy to the young President’s first state dinner, complete with curry prawns and aged basmati rice. I, on the other hand, was restricted to mashed rice and lentils. But I had guests visit me as well...relatives I hadn’t expected to see, certainly not every day at the hospital. I was happy they gatecrashed. Don’t know if Obama can say the same about his two aspiring reality star guests.
In total, I spent 7 days bedridden at home with a fever that stubbornly refused to leave my side. On the 8th day, I broke our relationship by getting admitted to the hospital. I spent 5 days there. I thought of Bombay everyday. I was itching to get back to my life. I had an interview lined up as well! And while I itched to get hitched to a production house, Bigg Boss starlet Shilpa Shetty was planning to get hitched to multi-millionaire Raj Kundra at one of the most hyped wedding ceremonies in Bollywood. I didn’t have a job at hand. The soon-to-be-Mrs turned down £75,000 for rights to her wedding pictures. I was keeping score.
I’m cured! And I am on my way to Bombay! I have a meeting lined up at noon. I take the train, then the bus, all the while taking in the city I sorely missed for three weeks. Ecstatic, excited, impatient, overwhelmed- emotions wreak havoc with my system. A friend calls, tells me of a new website- stereomood.com. A music playlist for your every mood. I select sloth. Yes, I’m back!
26th November. I can’t keep track of the money flowing out of my pocket. Train- Rs 4. Cab- Rs 60. Movie Ticket- Rs 200. Drinks- Rs 500. Small solace- the rest of the country doesn’t seem to be doing too well with money either. Latest report- food inflation jumps 1% to 15.58% in a week. Potato prices are up 132% since April this year! And that’s not even the news. The Opposition takes a dig at the PM on the price rise issue and 7 out of the 11 rows of Treasury Benches in the Parliament are empty! Less than a dozen Congress MPs are present to counter the Opposition’s attacks on the day inflation numbers are announced. This on the same day we’re celebrating the first year anniversary of 26/11, when Idea Cellular runs a campaign called Talk for India Hour, donating call revenues for better protection gear for the police. Wonder who’s doing the talking. Certainly not our elected officials.
PS: I’m still glad to be back.