The Telegraph
Sunday , February 16 , 2014
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- Aap, rapid change and some rapid fire

The other day, one of my Delhi Bengali friends calls me up. The line is very unclear because the phone companies have apparently taken down many towers, but his enthusiasm and conviction still glisten through.

‘Listen,’ he says, ‘I want you to join aap.’

‘Join up what?’ I ask, not unreasonably.

‘Not up, aap!’

‘What’s aap?’ I ask, again, putting no extra obstre into my normal perousness.

‘What do you mean, what’s up? Don’t you know anything about what’s going on in the country?’

I’ve been listening to reggae so I put on my best Jamaican drawl. ‘I know what goin’ down mon, I know aaltuwell what goin’ down in dis country!’

‘Don’t talk like that, talk like us. And don’t talk about going down or aap will get you. Through 377. Then you’ll really go down. For several years.’

‘Why will aap get me, mainey aap ka kya bigada hai, hain?’ What have I, I ask, spoilt of theirs?

‘No, no, listen, you have to try this aap.’

‘Uff-oh, which aap is this now? Can I download it? Is it Andriod? I don’t do a—apple. Anyway, why this particular aap?’

‘Because aap is yours.’

‘Listen, stop being unparliamentary, okay! I can also find pepper spray for when we next meet!’


‘It’s alimentary, my dear Watson!’

‘What alimony, what do you mean what’s on? You mean what’s up? Aap is up, that’s what’s up!’

‘I think aap is shuffling sideways, a bit like Indian batsmen facing pace bowlers on foreign pitches.’

‘Who are you calling those names! Indian batsmen are nobody’s peaches. It’s not patriotic. Don’t talk like that. Change your ‘proach!’

‘What? You change your cockroach! Why should I change my cockroach!’

‘Okay…okay, let’s change the cockroach. So, tell me, who are you going to vote for in the Lok Sabha elections?’

‘Why should I tell you!?! It’s a secret ballot!’

‘Cigarette parrot? Who’s a cigarette parrot now?’

‘Never mind. I’m going to vote to strengthen democracy.’

‘Good…so…who will lengthen this democracy? Certainly not the bambino-baraat, right?’


‘And the lotus-merchants will also not extend this democracy too much longer, right?’


‘So that leaves who? Aam only! Just saying!’

‘You’re only just saying what? What kind of a democracy do you guys believe in? Nobody’s sure!’

‘Well, we don’t believe in their them-o-cracy, we believe in an all inclusive us-o-cracy. Meaning, an aam-o-cracy as opposed to a namo-cracy or a rago-cracy…’

‘It’s a peesocrushy, in which the common man constantly gets crushed and peesoed into pulp.’

‘See? All India is saying what you are saying! So we believe in an aap-o-cracy as opposed to a tu-kaun-hota-hai-bey-o-cracy, a who-the-hell-are-you-cracy. D’you see?’

‘Juicy? Hmm…juicy-cracy? I wouldn’t say that too loudly, might sound like you also want to squeeze the fruits of power, you know?’

‘Man, those Kolkata horns are clearly making you deaf!’

‘Yeah, yeah, and all that khichadi-walla politics is obviously making you batty as a loon!’

‘What’s wrong with being bharti, hunh?’

‘Yeah…I’m now going to start calling whatisname bharat-o-bama. Yes, we can! Ab vote liya to dharna kya?’ (Untranslatable cultural ref to old Hindi movie song.)

‘Don’t…don’t go there…you know it’s a sensitive non-issue.’

‘What isn’t an issue? That your party is somnath racist?’

‘We are not somewhat racist, we are not racist all! That is not our modus operandi!’

‘Achha, tell me, what is the plural of modus?’


‘Kurrect! So you know, na, that all aap of you are doing is increasing the possibility of modii-operandii from Delhi, right?’

‘Nottattall, nottattall! You watch! We will defeat them! We will defeat the bhajiyapa and also the congee, both of whom are actually the same! We will defeat all their Nam-Ragu schemes!’

‘In your dreams, ‘both of whom’ indeed… whom barabar whom sharaabi, whom barabar whom…achha, but you notice, you are also being multi-racist?’ (Untranslatable cultural ref to old Hindi ...)

‘What do you mean?’

‘You are insulting bhajiyas, which are dear to all Gujaratis, and secretly to Marathis also, then you’re insulting the congee gruel-soup which is like daal-bhaat for the aam Chini aadmi, and then you are insulting the Italians – ragu is a pasta sauce of national honour for Italians.’

‘We respect the cuisine of all peoples. Look, let’s talk substance. All these are non-issues.’

‘Remember, in politics one man’s non-issue could be another man’s landslide quintuplets! If you people give birth to a few more such non-issues there’ll be nothing left to wipe of you, not even with a tissue.’

‘Please. Don’t fall into rhymistry. You’re so not good at it. And tell me whether water is an issue.’

‘Yes. Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to think.’

‘And gas, what about gas?’

‘Irving Jack Flash is a gas, gas, gas.’

‘His name is not Irving! He has a proper, good Indian name!’

‘Achha, tell me. Suppose, just sappose he becomes PM, then what will the western heads of state call him?’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I mean, will they think of him ‘our wind’ or ‘their wind’?’

‘We call him AK-47, which is the age he’ll be on his first birthday as Prime Minister, which is also the year since when all Indians have been waiting for him, and he’ll be the best statesman and foreign relations premier this country has ever had! As for the other two, il ragazzo only thinks of Davos as a great ski resort and the other guy can’t even locate Iran on a map!’

‘Well, the Americans might actually like the Iran thing, you know, like he’s Kool Moe Dee, you know, the great rapper? Just like a sucker you took the bait, now you’re like a dead fish on my dish, too late!’

‘Hey, you shouldn’t ascribe a great artiste’s lyrics to an enemy of culture, though that might be exactly what the bhai log sings to the country if he wins, but he won’t win. Anyway, he doesn’t eat fish and he doesn’t speak English, far less American.’

‘Oh, so your leader speaks American? What, like… well my man AK he talk like Jerry Hall, with corruption we know he won’t play ball, after Janpath he’ll take the street called Wall?’

‘Well you can rap it up any way you like, but at least we are not hand in glove with the rich. The current so-called government let’s not even talk about, and ever since those industrialists set up their namo factory it’s been clear that nobody cares about the common man. Therefore we had to imagine us into being, the real Indian dream, a genuine parivatan.’

‘I can’t believe you admitted that, but good for you!’

‘Admitted what?’

‘A Genuine Indian Perversion …spot on!’

‘What? That’s not aapt!’

‘Not aap but GIP! Gip, gip, gooray!’

‘Hope you say that when we have our victory parade.’

‘At the moment, between the lot of you, all I can see is a procession of bigots, a bigot parade.’

‘Bigade parade to you, you mamatite. Over here we say bRRigade, we are a disciplined, moral brigade.’

‘Who you calling a big head? We may be mama tight, apatoto toh you are the people conducting aapartite!’

‘At least our people are bringing in rapid change. What’s happened at your end after nearly three years?’

‘Look, you Delhi-Bengelly, it’s not so bad. As we say here, derek hai, andher nahi!’

‘Lull Salaam, to you, comrade.’

‘Lal Slam to you too.’

‘Anyway, talking about the late communist movements, you remember that coded old Bolshevik slogan, Nebuchnezzar?’

‘Nebuchnezzar the Egyptian pharaoh?’

‘Yes, as opposed to a Norwegian pharaoh! You know nothing! Nebuchnezzar meant ne-buch, meaning no holy book, or yoke of the priests, and ne-zzar, as in no oppression of the czar.’

‘Oh, yes, I remember!’

‘Well, what I have to say to you is Na-mo-Ni-rag!’

‘Na-mo-Ni-Rag! Aapsolutely!’

This is when news came in that the Chief Minister of Delhi had resigned and my friend had to rush off to join the street celebrations of his leader’s master move.