The Juhu Versova beach is divided into two sections, guarded by two stray dogs and the bare dirty arses of bhaiyyas who step off their kholis to shit straight into the sea. The other side of the invisible divide is reserved for the civil society which comes to walk, exercise and meditate in the morning. Including well off bhaiyyas like ourselves.
Returning from the beach when I accosted the panwalla by calling him bhaiyya, three bystanders gave me a sharp look. I figured they were marathi manoos. Leaving the shop I tried to inject some pathos by saying that it has become so dangerous to call anyone bhaiyya these days. They did smile, all of them. But I detected a gleam of satisfaction in their expression.
On three successive days three different autowallas drew me into their fantasies on how to fight back. The first one asked me whether Mayawati will not put them down (when she becomes prime minister next, I assume). Then he praised Lalu for ensuring Raj’s arrest and wondered what will happen to maharashtra if he stops all trains to the state. Finally, confident of his terrain, he said everyone is basically targetting only Muslims. I assured him that the indian army does not have enough bullets to put down 15 crore of us.
The second one insisted that until gentry like us speaks out the troubles will continue.
The third one, after figuring things out through the conversation between danish and me, said unless people like you speak up things are not going to change. And then he elaborated by saying that if only the muslims would join us bhaiyyas we can wipe out all the marathas from this city. I said that a lot of muslims are also bhaiyyas. He said yes, and the muslims and bhaiyyas should join hands to fight these other hindus. talwarein lekar sarak pe nikal aayenge hum log phir dekhte hain kaun larta hai
The office boys, marathis mostly, are not unhappy with the latest round of bhaiyya bashing. A banterish accost MUMBAI KONNYACHI, drew an immediate and strong answer that it belongs to the marathas.
The impression I have is that a fairly large number of marathi manoos react positively to Raj Thackeray.
I have lived for 37 years too many in India to submit easily to doomsday feelings. And if this is civil war then we have been there before, right after independence. But there is no point demonising Raj Thackeray when the whole political culture is characterised by the same lumpenism, across the subcontinent. This is after all, one manifestation of the struggle of the political society over the civil one. Or is it.