Travelogues from Uttar Pradesh Heartland
Mukesh Pandey (Name NOT Changed) is a local media dabang in the Faizabad district. Young journalists, and even fresh political entrants, touch his feet at every press meeting that he chooses to attend. An expert on Brahmin gotras, as he himself belongs to one of the elite Shashilk gotra (one of the 26 direct descendants of Lord Brhama), Pandey is a revered figure among his tribe. However, the journo swears by his secular mindset. "Every festival of Eid, be it bakr-e-Eid (Eid-ul Adha) or Meethi Eid (Eid-ul fitr), I visit my dear friends in the city to enjoy the festivities and dine with them," he tells ET. But! Are there no problems with regards to his strict vegan routine? "I go there with a stone's heart," Pandey responds. "Upon my return, I take out a lukewarm bucket of water and add five table-spoon salt in it. I keep drinking it and keep throwing up till every lace of my gut is cleaned." But why such extreme measure when you eat only vegetarian food? Pandey quenstions back: "Have you seen the utensils that the food is served in? It reeks of meat preparations. No Brahmin worth his salt will eat out of it."
Below the Belt
Editor and column writer Shekhar Gupta once wrote that if a reporter needs to judge the sociological changes in a region, he must read the graffiti in and around the area. Going by the learned adage, it will appear that Uttar Pradesh heartland is going through a male virility crisis. Large rural swathes of western and cenrtal UP fields are flushed with advertisements of Hakims (from Iqbal, Usmani and Zafar) claiming sure-shot cure for diseases likes swapna dosh, shighra-patan and mardana kamjori (night discharge, premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction). Another disease which comes a close second in the graffiti--falling in the same belt though--is that of Bawaseer (piles). When pointed out about it, a travelling colleague's advice was: "Next time, a political opponent of the Samajwadi Party government tells you the state is bleeding, don't ask him to elaborate."