I just did a mille sur mera tumhara search. Of course Google, like mama, knows best, and it asked me if I meant MILE sur mera tumhara. Yes yes, click. And there it was -- the blue underlined search result, and subsequent replay of a Doordarshan childhood. I did a quick memory test to see what I remember of the ad, so before hitting play, I wrote down: shot of Zakir Hussain, Tabla, Taj, Yamuna, Sharmila Tagore, tea gardens, and to quote my pen paper scrawl, “that last shot where school kids wearing biryani tricolours ran in slow motion.”
Not too far off the mark, I congratulate myself. (Will explain biryani in a bit.) I had forgotten the sardars in the videos, and the bongs, and how young Shabana Azmi looks, and how completely out of fashion the aged heroes, Amitabh Bachchan, Jeetendra and Mimoh’s old man, Mithun.
I remembered the elephants, with the distinct back water feel -- I could be wrong. But one happy, feel-good video it is! Pixelated, who cares, the sur sounds the same.
For tackier, more new age quotes on desh prem though, wait till tomorrow morning. Eighteen hours to be bombarded with freedom to me is type aam janta pfaff. And never mind accusations of elitism, newspapers have a wonderful propensity to propagate said pfaff. Just you wait. People, we people, us people, hum log, will say freedom to me is… zzz being able to choose/ live/ breathe-
Choose what? Live where? Breathe how else?
God ‘lone knows...
But it generally boils down to vague choosing to do or say what I want type rubbish. ‘Clothes’ is another favourite, with women more so; choosing what to wear and how little of it. As are chants about an unsafe nation and women up in arms the moment a bottom is pinched. Eve teasers are of course denied the freedom to cheenti kaato. Then of course, the necessary talk of PROGRESS and INFRASTRUCTURE, the damn-these-potholes, and kick the government out aimless unoriginal outpourings.
When was the last time anyone said anything new? It’s all been said, heard, and repeated. Everything is mapped. It’s all monotonous to health -- one boring flowchart with arrows going in predictable directions. There will be a parade tomorrow. They’ve probably even arranged for a speech. Friends, Romans, genteel folk; I might wear my favourite swatantrata orange and green splatter sari. Roads will be clear. People will stay at home because movie halls are always in the news for bomb threats. Saare Jahaan Se Accha Hindustan Hamara.
In my brief stint at boarding school – and this is the biryani explanation – we got pulao for lunch on Independence Day. Pulao in big steel chilimchis with lots of added colour – stripes of green, and orange. Sweet tiranga chaos on our plates. I’d feel bad for the 15th August born-ees. Also 1st Jan and Christmas dates. Occasion and meal time specials will always trump their birthday thunder.
Christmas was chhuti time, so no mistletoe misadventures between 300 girls that was never to be spoken of. At home though, wherever home was, I’d snuggle into my bhangi red Benetton sweatshirt that’s been ably serving me for the last 6 years, and with oversized red, I’d throw around a pale green muffler and squeal Merry Christmas when the phone rang.
Do you do that? Not squeal, but alter your wardrobe just a little bit for a festival or colourful occasion? Will you wear a green dupatta tomorrow or a fabindia shirt with a hint of orange? Might be nice, I think. Or you could still go against the crowd, be goth, be mean, wear black, but spend a 20 at the ashram flyover light and get a plastic fluttery for your car. Urchin will be happy, dashboard will exude tokenism, and you can Vande Mataram all the way to your lunch venue. Except by next week, the flag will have wilted/melted and there won’t be so much use for it, but who am I to be thinking so far ahead on your behalf.
Who cares how it manifests itself. Wake up late, hear the bagpipes, catch the parade, and pause for a bit on the channels airing Lata Mangeshkar watan ke logon homilies. Anything except text messages, one after another, being forced to reply to random compatriots. And although I’m glad I know Vande Mataram by heart; sujalam suphalam malayaja sheetalam; I doubt you need to know, or say, or repeat any of it ensure some pride and bonhomie.