Social Activist's Guide to Indian Politics - the Muffler

I don’t know how many have read this book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Since this is a Western book not suitable to the Indian ethos, I wondered how it would be if it were to be adapted to the Indian context say with a title like Social Activist’s Guide to Indian Politics. Here is my take on one of the passages from the book – related to the uses of the humble Bath Towel which in our Indian context transmutes into the Mighty Muffler.

Just about the most massively useful thing any interstellar Hitchhiker can carry. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course you can dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

Just about the most massively useful thing any Indian Social Activist can carry. Partly it has great practical value. You can clean your pants seat  when you rise after day long protest at Jantar Mantar; you can lie on it on the brilliant pavements around the India Gate, inhaling the polluted Delhi air; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which don’t shine redly or otherwise on the smog covered Indian skies; use it to sail a miniraft down the toxic Yamuna river; wet it for use in parliamentary debates; wrap it round your head to look like a farmer’s leader or avoid the gaze of the corrupt Indian Neta (a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, whose existence like the unicorn is only notional as per official records, it assumes that if it has forgotten all its poll promises, the people and media have forgotten as well— daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your muffler to stop an auto rickshaw or the metro train, and of course you can wrap it around your neck to keep warm if it is still in one piece.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: nonhitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet-weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have "lost." What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with

More importantly, a muffler has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a common man (common man: non activist/politician) discovers that an activist has his muffler with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a Gandhi Cap, placards, Khadi suit, Jolna bag, Hawai Chappals, black arm bands, flags, wire cutters, mikes, brooms, garlands etc., etc. Furthermore, the common man will then happily lend the activist any of these or a dozen other items that the activist might accidentally have "lost." What the common man will think is that any man who can do Dharna for three days, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through and still knows where his muffler is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with

Hence a phrase which has passed into hitch hiking slang, as in "Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is."

Hence a phrase which has passed into activist slogans, as in "You want good governance and honest politics? Vote for a man who really knows where his muffler is."

10 comments:

Suresh Chandrasekaran said...

Aha! AND so the muffler replaces the Gandhi cap as an iconic emblem? :)

T F Carthick said...

Yeah, Suresh - the new Indian mascot.

Rio De La Sciocco said...

Nice political satire. I too was thinking of writing one today. Let's see if it culminates.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks Rio. Do write.

Dagny said...

This was rollicking fun. I'm giggling away! Kudos!

T F Carthick said...

Thanks Dagny. Good to see you on my blog after quite some while.

Siddhesh Kabe said...

That is nice, a sham but nice sham

T F Carthick said...

Ha Ha, Siddhesh - good one.

themoonstone said...

LOL ! The muffler indeed. With my allergies, I can use it as an allergy repellent also

T F Carthick said...

Ha Ha - that too - though in my case the muffler itself would be source of allergy especially if made of wool.

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