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Thursday, May 04, 2006 

Death, Where Is Thy Bling ?

At some level, it must have been prevalent from the earliest days of society. What differentiated it was the organised plunging of a cross-section of the world into celebratory gloom.

Suitably solemn announcers gave glum updates on how assorted personalities around the world had declared themselves shattered by the loss. The female components looked haggardly made up, and with occasionally breaking voices, played the part of the brave bereaved beautifully. Street interviews with lisping children who bemoaned the loth of their Queen of Hearth allowed the announcers to compose themselves for the next round of anguish. Those on the spot, of course, were allowed the luxury of tearstained faces and shoddy makeup, as they updated on the earthshaking importance of the report lodged in the nearby police station, and talked in hushed tones of how the waiter at her last restaurant had noted her deliriously happy. When they managed to snag an actual Personage, like the driver of the truck that towed away her car, they took precedence over the regular shots of peripheral appendages: an old acquaintance, an ex-butler etc, who claimed exclusive kinship of the soul with the deceased. Of course, intrusive shots of kith and kin as they were hustled in and out of limousines were the topmost priority. Paternal chiefs in gruff and matter-of-fact tones explained how the entire might of the Police would be employed in debunking laughably absurd conspiracy theories. Vast sections of the media who had played up salacious details of her life now featured blowups of roadside shrines, with a poster, and flowers, teddy bears and teary-eyed passers-by.

The striking fact was of course, the globality of the phenomenon. Amongst her multifarious public appearances was to manage the incongruity of looking a brand ambassador for obscenely costly jewels and clothes while talking of issues that were far removed from her comprehension: mines and famines. Thus we had disfigured African waifs mourning her; bishops in Latin American countries held masses for her; several of the more outré religious sects held séances and wakes. Nearer home, three towns announced naming of streets in her name, and the chef of the 5-star she had stayed in during her last visit came on TV with never-revealed details about how she had tasted a spoon of Gajar Halwa and pronounced it sinfully rich. Artisans in Behala cut clippings ; it was obvious that the next Puja would see a demand for statues of her, along with the obligatory Ganguly. A massive success, this.

The satellite television in India has always hankered for a chance to similarly concoct a maelstrom of mush; they tried then, but the Big One has eluded them thus far. Now it is on again; but even a nation hungry for heroic tragedy cannot overlook the essential smallness of scale.

in the absence of a scam to take the front page, I guess this will keep the newspaper industry in business for a few more days?

Here is a scam : a gent with a total employment of a Ministersip for a coupla years, if that, and a long ago school teachership, gets to gift his bro a posh flat, live a flamboyant lifestyle himself, get docs flown down from abroad to attend to him ...

It takes Rs 25,000 to sponsor a kid for a heart operation. Why can't they make a mush maelstrom out of THAT ?

since when has something as mundane as an unknown child's need for surgery, or the tens of thousand dying every year of treatable diseases like TB ever captured attention? But yes, a freak happening like a tsunami, or a prominent political leader being shot at hogs the limelight for days on end.


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