Fast, the new fad!

August 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm 6 comments

One of the most endearing scenes from my childhood years is the site of the vernacular calendar hung strategically at a wall in our house such that all glances fell on it very easily. The calendar, called the “Thiadhi Calendar” in Tamil, had a picture of one of the innumerable deities of the Hindu pantheon and 365 tiny tear-sheets stapled on it from which my mother would tear off one every dawn as part of her morning religious ritual. Each of these sheets would carry data on the positions and movements of the celestial bodies during the course of the day that could make the most exhaustive Wikipedia post on the subject look very pedestrian. And to decipher those plethora of fine-printed almanac information calls for a training in astrology, religion and mathematics that only a school of zealously guarded traditional upbringing could offer. The monthly highlight of the calendar for the family is the “Ekadesi”, the eleventh day of the lunar month, the day on which my grandmother would invariably observe a fast.

Ekadesi, literally translated, would mean “one plus the tenth day” and the preparation for the event starts well on the” Desami”, the tenth day itself.  My mother would grind the wheat very coarse and soak it overnight which would form the main ingredient of the grandmother’s frugal meal once she decides to call off her fast well into the night of the Ekadesi day. Granny would spend the best part of the waking hours on that day in rituals and in contemplation and once tired of them, would resort to loud reading of some religious texts. And with night falling, she would partake her meal of sweetened wheat gruel and share a portion of it with all in the house. Everyone in the family would relish the unique recipe and would keenly look forward to the next Ekadesi! Grandmother continued this fasting austerity month after month, for years and decades and she believed it to be her sure-shot passport for a place in the heavens.  Fasting was thus a spiritual exercise for her, a tool for communion with the divine.

What is essentially an austerity to please the gods, fasting, in the hands of Anna, morphed into a coercing technique to ruthlessly bring the “powers that be” to the knees.  And when Anna fasted, the then government initially fumed, then fumbled, quickly stumbled and at last stooped and kneeled in front of a septuagenarian whose towering moral authority was too much of a force for the authority of the state to handle.  Cheering at its discomfort were the disempowered people of a nation, long lost their collective voice to tame their so-called representatives and felt inadequate at the significance of their democratic participation that remain confined to its little duty of putting a little mark, on a little piece of paper  standing in a little booth- once every five years.  When the government became exhausted with each day of Anna’s fasting, the people knew they have discovered a new weapon to regain the right to script their destiny.  But when a new weapon is invented, it is only to be expected that it be tested in different scenarios under varying conditions so that its universal validity and effectiveness is scientifically established.

Students could now think of fasting if their teacher gives them less than distinction marks and just in case distinction is not good enough, they still could fast to have the right to take guide books to the exam hall so that they could get nothing less 100%. And if even with 100% they still don’t find their names in the college admission list, they could again fast, either to get a seat or to make their score 101%.  At home, teenage children could fast and pressurise their parents to give them decent enough money to be able to take their fiancee to a five-star dinner and as SMS becomes passé, a day-long fast may not be a bad idea to speed up the next level mobile purchase so that they could video-chat with their friends, all night long.

In the hands of housewives, fasting could assume more lethality than a Kalashnikov in the hands of a terrorist.  They could fast, not to shrink their waistline, but to compel their husbands to shell out a bomb of money during the month-end to buy that fancy diamond stud while the poor guy carries on with the same razor shaving blade for weeks on end. And if that is not proof enough of its effectiveness, they could still try the technique to ensure that their mothers-in-law do not visit them for the next five years.

Oh, I just realised that I have been fasting all night long!  Let me break-fast.




Entry filed under: Humour.

The Joy of Resurrection Forty something

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. rekhabaala  |  August 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Welcome back! Good one! I support the movement against corruption but not holding the country to ransom… if you want more of the humour, here’s what my friend Deepa says, “Heard all the celebs in Hollywood are going on a new diet. It is called the Anna diet. Also in vogue: The Gandi topis are ‘fast’ sells.” And yes, we too had a similar calendar at home… here i have the mathrubhumi calendar on which my eyes fall on every morning. but no fasts, not yet!

    • 2. chapter18  |  August 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      Thanks Rekha. It has been two weeks of serious debate all over the place, so thought of having a funny take of it.

  • 3. rekhabaala  |  August 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    and yes, you should try humour more often 🙂

  • 4. umeshjairam  |  August 29, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    From serious blog to smiling blogs. Good one Narayan. One thing which I want to highlight is, anything can be used in two different ways. A knife in doctor’s hand can save a patient and if it is in thief;s hand……

  • 5. BG Nair  |  September 1, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Well said Narayanan. I hope the current trend does not lead to anna-rchy of sorts in the country. I believe our parliamentary democracy has to be cleansed by parliamentary democracy itself. We should elect worthy representatives. Not resort to coercion and subversion of the system.

  • 6. Subramanyam K.V.  |  September 2, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Nice piece Narayanan, Thnks for sharing this link on my blog . I really liked the humor touch in your article.


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