Sunday, June 05, 2005

Back on Earth

Some Background
The Government of India banned the depiction of smoking from all movies and television programmes made in India after the 1/8/05. In old movies shown after the 1st of August, 'smoking scenes' will have to carry a warning.

Damodar Om Ganesan (henceforth referred to as DOG) was one of India’s most well known astronauts. He was launched into space from Sriharikota in 2005, and returned to his homeland in 2010, and passed himself away a few days later. What did he think on coming back to India? We present excepts from his diary.

7 Jan, 2010

We landed today. We had taken off a week ago in my time. Since we traveled at velocities comparable to that of light with respect to earth, Einstein’s time dilation came into play and we’re back here after five years. Unfortunately, those great minds who planned the trip were not taught relativity in their courses at IIT. The never expected us back this late! Quite a surprise it was to find the attendant in the space station with more wrinkles than we had left him with. They were also quite surprised to find us back. So surprised that the air force tried to greet us with missiles. We (unfortunately, in retroscpect) managed to avert any such incident, though, thanks to the miracle of the radio not failing.

On landing I expected to find my girlfriend waiting at the space center. But I was greeted by surprised looking officials that I had never seen before. Apparently, they had given up on us four years and three hundred and sixty two days ago. My family had been given Rs Five Lakhs as compensation (probably more money than I could ever be worth to them!) – and a mock funeral had been completed. It seemed they had searched the earth for space craft debris and not found much. They probably settled for a dead golden retriever or something to burn in the mock funeral. My brother had married my girlfriend by then using four of the five lakhs for his honeymoon. The other lakh was taxed.

I walked out of the space station, expecting to find a sparse surrounding. I, instead found myself in a crowd similar to that in the stands of a cricket match. The people in the crowd seemed very healthy – which made it all the more difficult to pass through them. Curious. I somehow made my way to the taxi stand. I expected to find those good old ambassadors there. There were no ambassadors, however. What dominated the taxi stand was – you guessed it – bullock carts. No cars. No buses. Bullock carts.

I climbed into one of those things – when a voice said “Hello” in the best English that I have ever heard. “What can I do for you sir ?”. I later found out that he was retrenched from a call center.

I arrived at home. A surprised mother opened the door. I could witness the surprise change to worry. Did she have to pay the five lakhs back to the government? Dad, of course had no similar worry. He was sure I could sue IIT for it or something, so he did not seem to perturbed. He was a lawyer, so I need not worry about lawyer charges.

8 Jan 2010

I shall not describe the emotional scenes back at home: primarily because there were none. The parents were happy to have their son back: but they dreaded the task of telling everyone else. Four memorial ceremonies (one per year) had been performed; the whole thing could turn into an rather big embarrassment. The brother avoided me for some rather obvious reasons. The girlfriend avoided me too: possibly because she was a physics graduate and was caught napping when I told her about my ‘flight’ plans. And also possibly because she married my brother a week after the disappearance.

I put on the television (which was in a dusty corner of the living room). I wanted to cool off by just surfing the channels.. a hobby that I had got used to just a couple of weeks ago (in my time). I was surprised to see that there were only five channels: Discovery, Door-Darshan I , DD II , DD News and National Geographic. There was no MTV, no Star World, No NDTV, no nothing. I thought things would improve in five years. Newspapers were reduced to six A4 sheets with advertisements filling four of them.

Why did this happen? Why did the country fall into such a hole in five years? All I could get out of my parents regarding this was something about a ban on something which’s name had escaped their mind. Dad drew something which looked a lot like an elongated lozenge. It looked like a cigarette. I could not catch sleep at night. Cigarette ban…. so?

9 Jan 2010

I had a better discussion with Dad today. They (Mum and Dad) had recovered from the early shock of seeing me. They cast aside their disappointment and now seemed more relived to see me. The conversation I made with dad regarding everything cleared any doubts I had.

It was very innocuous. It started with a cigarette ban. That was fine. Youngsters stopped smoking as their role models did not smoke on screen. The people became healthier, and stopped dying. The country became over-populated, as a result. Looking at the success of this ban, they decided to ban portrayal of dishonest behavior on television. As a result, it no longer became profitable to make movies, comedies or even soap operas. An attempt was made by one of our producers: he made a film about a young man who was the perfect role model. He never drank, smoked or stole. The movie flopped.

The news channels have stopped since the government decided that even factual portrayal of crime would influence the youth: so no reference was to be made of crime on television. Even organized crime: so politics was out too. DD news shows only social work done by the government.

Dad drew my attention to the lack of babies in India. Apparently, lewd programs on television were blamed for the high level of perversion and rapes in India. So, they were banned too. As a consequence, the Indian youth were not aware how to copulate. So, obviously, no babies.

Automobiles were banned, since they smoked, and the idiots in the government thought that it reminded people of cigarettes. Cricket was then banned too, since the act of throwing a ball was construed as violent by the government. The act of swinging a bat was also thought to be violent. India now plays bridge, pass-the-parcel, chinese whisper and other harmless games only.

Spicy food was banned too, since spices could be used as weapons when inserted into other people's eyes. Thalis in Andhra hotels were banned for that reason. However, in a memorable moment for the resistance in India, the Thali-Ban was revoked. The argument was simple: the Thali-Ban sounded a lot like the Taliban (of Afghanistan) regime, whose policies the government had condemned to the core.

On hearing this, I shot myself in the head with a gun I found lying on the road somewhere. My blood splattered all over the road, and my brain was forced out of my head and fell on the pavement. An enthusiastic dog came along and made a meal of the same. That was the end of it all for me. My body was hidden and the fifth ceremony was performed by the parents.


bharath said...

thats nice...

you got an amazing style of writing da. hope u'll write regularly...

Anonymous said...

haha you against smoking ban?