Dear Diary, first day in Delhi. Coming from a quiet island holiday, the noise and crowds were a bit unnerving...but that is life. I had made certain conditions to my hosts before I agreed to this trip. Like no parading around in a sari. Suppose it comes off? I know Serena wore a sari during her Indian visit but I saw some of her photographs and so stuck to my decision. My hosts kept pressing on me tandoori chicken and butter chicken but it was all too greasy. Then I remembered a recent list of the most popular snacks in the world. What was it, some ‘do...do...dosa’ I got it! Dosa. So soon I was served masala dosa, quite OK, but the fiery red sambar was too much for me. I think a dosa snack is ideal during tennis matches and I hope they serve it at Wimbledon along with those boring strawberries and cream.
And then facing the media! They labelled me ‘comeback queen’, you know the cycle—success-injury-success. Someone asked me about Sania Mirza and her comebacks...knee, ankle, back, wrist injuries and so on. I did not like this comparison. And anyway, that girl is so plump. Injury or no injury, she anyway loses in the first round.
You cannot visit India without discussing Bollywood. My hosts brought some 3-4 Bollywood producers for an “informal chat”. They all said I would make a wonderful heroine in Bollywood films. I could play myself, a tennis-playing beauty, with location shooting at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. “Madam, all the Khans are eager to act with you,” one of them told me. The Khans, three of them, are apparently the most popular heroes around. I watched dvd clips from their films and, you won’t believe it, not one of them was more than five feet something. How would I do romantic scenes with them? “Madam, we shall provide them shoes with one foot heels”, “Madam, we will shoot romantic scenes, you on the balcony, the hero standing down”. Other way round, I’d have thought.
Another producer heard me at the press meet where I had talked about the hard work put in by my parents, particularly my mother, so that I could afford tennis lessons. He jumped up, “Wonderful, the mother theme is ideal for our cinema. We shall pack the film with mother-suffering scenes, starving, homeless so that you could have tennis lessons. We shall portray her joy when you win the Wimbledon, “Dekho maa, mein tere liye kya layi hoon.” The seriously ill mother clutches the trophy and dies...what an emotional scene. A sure winner!” By this time I was getting impatient. The fourth producer had something different to say, “Mariaji, our top hero Salman Khan reached the top by removing his shirt and throwing it away in every film of his. If only you could remove your shirt and throw it, you could be a bigger star than Salman.” That was when I threw them all out.
The Mumbai-based satirist is the creator of ‘Trishanku’; E-mail your secret diarist: vgangadhar70 AT gmail.com
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
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