Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I learnt a new Bengali word today: “ucchhed”. It means ‘eviction, I have been told. Each day on our way to court outside the PG hospital there’s this silent line of people bearing placards that say something “ucchhed”. By the time I read that word (printed extra large, of course), we are past the place and try as I might I cannot seem to get the rest. So today I dared break the sanctity of the serious silence in the car in the morning and ask my husband:
“what is ucched?”
He didn’t growl, not then, but he came close, “eviction”
“Hawkers,” he was frowning but I decided to push it.
“So they want it or no?”
This time he growled. “ why don’t you read the thing? It’s obvious.”
Well I am not completely daft, even I know obviously hawkers do not want to be evicted, but if I was to read that whole thing on the placard I would have to stop the car, disrupt the rush hour traffic and actually ask one of the guys to stand still so I can read the placard. Then I would probably ask the chap what it meant! (Why don’t they just have a translated version, in English, or am I the only one with this problem?)
I decided to push my luck and went on to explain why I did not “read it”. I also tried to add that I had been trying to read it every morning for more than a week and could never get past the “ucchhed” part.
But I was not allowed to complete. I bristled for a while when I was told to shut up. Then, another though struck me. After what I felt was sufficient time, I raised my hand to ask a question. (Yes, sometimes I am suicidal.)
Hubby grunted, “now what?’
“So what is bicched?”
“Ah yes, as in marriage separation, ‘bibaho bicched’, THAT, I understand.”
But then, since the words sound similar, should they not mean something like each other? I muttered under my breath, ensuring hubby did not hear me. He would not take kindly to any further discussion, his face told me that. And we had reached Court.
Time to think of serious things.
But the thought stuck.
And I have figured that the words’ meanings do have some level of similarity, eviction, separation from accommodation and separation….as in separation…you get the drift? But I am digressing.

Thing is, I really couldn’t be bothered with the plight of the hawkers. A lot has been said and done. Politicians have changed their policies faster that their starched dhotis and things remain the same. Peaceful or loud, a demonstration is a demonstration and a strike is a strike. Today’s leaders are yesterday’s protesters, the one advocating peace is the one who rioted in the first place, the one quelling mob violence is also the one who used mob violence when it was useful.

Politics is a strange place with no principles. That’s the only rule: there are no rules. I do not understand it nor do I want to. We all know of many lawyers who make a smooth transition from law to politics to law, alternating between the black coat and the khadi jacket effortlessly. No such career options for me, i'm afraid, I am ill equipped to deal with these things, my ideas of how things should be do not coincide with the vote bank.

Like the men who spit in public. I think they should all be sent to jail. Or made to clean the spit with a toothbrush.

Like the taxi driver who violently waves his hand indicating he is going left and then startlingly zips off to the right unmindful of the fact that you have screeched to a halt and are praying the guy behind you will not ram into you. I think he should be whipped on the hand as soon as he dares stick it out!

Like the driver who honks for no reason in standing traffic, just because. I think he should be locked in a cell with only the high pitch sound of the blaring horn for company. For at least 24 hours.

Like the litter-bugs. Specially the housewives who slyly throw a plastic bag of smelly trash out on the street when they think no one is looking. They should be made to carry it about for a week, tie it round their necks so the rotting smell does not leave them!

Like the pedestrian who cannot walk on the pavement but insists on sashaying on the road headphones stuck in the ear oblivious to traffic signals or pedestrian crossings. They should be hung upside down from a traffic light on a hot summer day!

Like the guy who stands on the corner and liberally douses the wall with expletives from his urinary bladder because he can. He should be dunked in the vile stuff for a week.

Like the hawkers who take up more than half the pavement and thrust their wares in front of your face in the hope that you will buy something you do not want to buy in the first place. The guy who sits on the pavement and insists his mehendi is the best, the one who chases you with a remote controlled feathered toy (?) till you are safely inside a shop, the one who hangs female innerwear strategically on the roadside like some horror display. Yes, since they are demonstrating against their ucchhed (eviction), lets be kind here, I think they should all be sent to the Sunderbans to help build the embankment which the government has unsuccessfully been trying to build for almost three years since the “aila’ struck! You don’t believe me?
Check today’s Telegraph. Front page. Or try this link:

Alas. Not quite cut out to be in politics, am I?

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