We are not so different, you and I. Both of us are nineteen, have anglicised surnames and fathers who love photography. I hear you are to be anointed heir to your family business today. Here’s some friendly advice from one liberal young man to another:
- Get yourself a makeover. Dump those T-shirts and designer jeans on a Marathi-speaking beggar. Buy plain kurtas and stock up on ochre dye. Lose the fashionable specs; sunglasses are the way to go. Rudraksha-malas are great as accessories. Grow a beard.
- Start an employment agency. This is critical. Monopolise the supply of extras to Bollywood and make your soldiers a part of every Akshay Kumar and Sunny Deol film. Rajnikanth will do too. He’s originally Maharashtrian. Conscript those more aggressive into the Indian army. Bangladesh will become Marathi-rashtra, so migrants will no longer be a problem. Pakistan will have a zunkha-bhakar stall within a week. Let the cultured ones register with Teach For India. Your unemployed cadres can boast of literacy as a qualification and someone will read Rohinton Mistry.
- Tie up with karate classes. This is even more critical. Mumbaikars have started taking the dormancy of your supporters for granted. Let your boys learn to hand-split a brick, and no Plexiglass will present a challenge. Don’t make it easy for our police force to stop you. On second thought, they never really try to anyway, so don’t bother.
- Incite hatred. This is paramount. Do not deviate from this one and only point in your party manifesto. Spread rumours. Threaten people. Destroy the fragile peace that exists in Mumbai. This will get you publicity.
- Publish more poetry. Write more poems in Hindi. Get South Indians like Shankar Mahadevan to render them in tune. Give it a nice Marathi title like your first work, ‘My Thoughts in Black and White’. Get an Uttar Bharatiya such as Amitabh Bachchan to launch it. This will get you publicity too.
- Rename places. Call Marine Drive, Sambhaji Maharaj Marg and your college, Sant Tukaram Mahavidhyalay. If this doesn’t get you publicity, nothing will.
- Work hard. Make call center employees respond to American queries in Marathi, demand that English be taught in Devanagari, and get Sanjay Raut into Big Boss 5. Make some noise. It’s because of you and your ilk that tigers will never be extinct in India.
- Don’t fall in love. I was born on Valentine’s Day. Throughout the nineties, headlines on the fifteenth of February were of your workers remodelling card shops and giving couples unobtrusive company. I’m kidding.
Don’t get yourself a girlfriend. If you do, I’ll come after you.
I’m not kidding.
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