The inlaws have been awake for most of the night. They have been watching NDTV on iPad following the Indian election results.
This morning at 7 am, they were still crouched against the iPad. And were constantly discussing something. So, I made coffee for all of us and came and sat down with them. Following their conversations, I realized something. They had very little real interest in the grand spectacle of the world’s largest democracy’s seminal moment of change of guard!
All they cared about is “What is happening to Didi’s party”? Didi, for the West Bengal (or for that matter any Bengal)-y challenged, is the affectionate name for Mamata Banerjee – the Chief Minister of West Bengal. Who, not unlike what is happening in India today, came to power two and a half years back after uprooting a party that was in power in West Bengal for multiple decades.
So, I asked them how much they cared about Congress versus BJP versus AAP at the Center. My father in law at least tried to show some interest – “Kono party onek din thaka bhalo na” (**nobody should be in power for too long**). My mother in law, in a perfect tribute to the old adage “all politics is local”, completely brushed me off – “taatey aamar ki eshe gelo” (**what is that to me?**) 🙂
As they kept discussing “Didi’s party”, I also realized something else. A lot of Bengali singers and actors have stood for elections this year. I had no idea that Bappi Lahiri (think of him as the Bengali version of Chris Christie with far more skills in copying other people’s tunes), Babul Supriyo, Munmun Sen, Soumitro Roy, Sandya Roy and such are political figures now. No wonder there is so much drama in West Bengal politics!
Since my mother in law would not pay any attention to me, I decided to push my luck. “Mamata-di ki korechhe aaj porjonto? Opposition-e chellano aar desh chalano alaada bepar”. Now, before I translate this, let me tell you – I have nary an idea about what is going on in West Bengal. I certainly cannot name you one more politician in West Bengal other than Didi. Armed with that near total ignorance, I took a potshot “What has she done till today? Shouting at the top of your voice while in Opposition is very different from running a country”.
My father in law knew me all too well. He just smiled and refused to take the bait. My mother in law? Not so much!! Like the normally docile garden snake that our lawn mower guy spotted and cornered on our street a couple of days back hissed and fought back in defense, my mother in law immediately raised her hood errr…. head and hit back. “Tomra sobjanta to”. (basically calling me know-all).
Then for the next twenty minutes I got a lecture on all the misdeeds of the previous government that held absolute power for multiple decades and how they had completely corrupted the system. And how it took somebody like Didi to fight back and “throw them into the Bay of Bengal”. “Ki sahos dekh onar” (**what courage she has**)
Which is interesting. For all the courage of Mamata-di she was projecting, my mother in law – who, in a rich irony, has the same name Mamata – has been cooped up inside our house for two days straight because of reports of a garden snake that our lawn mower guy spotted on our street 🙂
Second cup of coffee, anyone? 🙂