Amit Varma is a writer based in Mumbai. He worked in journalism for over a decade, and won the Bastiat Prize for Journalism in 2007. His bestselling novel, My Friend Sancho, was published in 2009. He is best known for his blog, India Uncut. His current project is a non-fiction book about the lack of personal and economic freedoms in post-Independence India.
It is January 3, and I have already broken my New Year’s resolution. Don’t ask. So, I decided to find out from some of the notable people in our country what their New Year’s resolutions were.
First I called up Sonia Gandhi. “My New Year’s resolution is to learn more Hindi,” she told me.
“Hindi?” I asked. “But your Hindi is just fine, Soniaji.”
“No, we lost the Gujarat elections because of my Hindi,” she said. “You see, while campaigning in Gujarat, I wanted to tell the people of Gujarat that we would develop Gujarat better than Narendra Modi. So, I asked one of my minions how one says that in Hindi. My minion said, say ‘Narendra Modi maut ka saudagar hai.’ So, I said that, and see what happened.”
“What happened to the minion?”
Next I rang up Manmohan Singh. “What’s your New Year’s resolution, sir?”
There was a moment of silence. Then he said, in a sad voice: “I’ll have to check.”
After this, I dropped in to meet Prakash Karat. His answer:
“My New Year’s resolution is to oppose whatever the UPA does.”
“But why’re you supporting their government then?” I asked. “Why don’t you just withdraw support?”
Karat sighed. “This is the problem with you neoliberal, consumerist, imperialist bourgeois, call-centre pigs,” he said. “If I withdraw support, there will be mid-term elections, after which we may not be in a position to damage the country. I don’t want that, and neither does Beiji… I mean, neither does Brinda.”
“You don’t have to call me names, you know.”
“I head the politburo, not the polite-bureau. Now run along before Buddha’s party workers saunter along and I set them on you.”
I ran along, and called up Narendra Modi. “Sir, I wanted to ask, what is your New Year’s resolution?”
“If you find a cockroach in your kitchen,” he asked, “you tell me, what should be done to the cockroach?”
“Kill it, kill it.”
“Well, that is it. Do I have to take Sonia Gandhi’s permission to do that?”
I needed a break from politicians. One fellow called me names, another was eyeing my cockroaches, what’s a columnist to do? I called Rakhi Sawant.
“Amitji, in this New Year, I will be more saxy.”
“Rakhiji, you are already very saxy,” I replied.
“Are you making fun of me? I did not say saxy. I said saxy.”
“I know, saxy.”
“Not saxy. Saxy!”
“Arre, saxy, na?”
“Not saxy! Saxy! Abhishek, cum here, yeh mera mazaak uda raha hai!”
Then she burst out crying and I hung up. Next target, Javed Akhtar.
“Sir, what is your New Year’s resolution,” I asked.
“I will be the judge on a reality show,” he told me.
“But sir,” I remarked, “you have already done that many times this year.”
“No Amit, you do not understand me. You need to do more riyaaz of asking questions. You see, I want to be the judge of a reality show for judges of reality shows. In the show, the judges of reality shows will be contestants, and I will be their judge.”
“And what will you judge them on?”
“I will judge them on how well they can lecture contestants,” he said. “They should be able to burst into monologues about women’s liberation or secularism without any reason for it. Someone sings a random song, they should deliver a lecture on male chauvinism. Someone dances, they should preach about the values of the new generation. I want to create many Javed Akhtars to make this world a better place. Run along now.”
I ran along, and bumped into Pratibha Patil. “Pratibha tai,” I asked, “What are your New Year’s resolutions this year?”
“I have decided that 2008 will be a different year for me than 2007,” she said.
“Well, in 2007, everyone made fun of me for speaking to spirits, and my comments about burkas and compulsory sterilization and so on. Even you did, naughty boy. So, this year, I have decided to become more like my popular predecessor, APJ Abdul Kalam. I will emulate certain carefully selected aspects of his persona.”
“Such as what?”
“Well, I’ll start with the hairstyle.”
I ran along. Then I thought I’ll make just one final query for the day, and hope something interesting came out of it. I dropped in at Abhishek Bachchan’s house. As Ash bhabhi made tea, I asked the small b:
“Abhishek, dude, I’m writing a column about New Year’s resolutions, and I wanted to know what yours was.”
He looked at me with red eyes. “I will find that tree,” he said, “and I will kill him.”
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You can browse through all my columns for Mint in my Thinking it Through archives.
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