Some of us Mumbai celebrities have got a bit tired of appearing on page 3 of Mumbai Times, most often with a glass in our hands. That was when I decided to go all literary and began organising litfests. Wow! What fame this brought me, I am now constantly on TV and the print media. I have to thank my close friend and fellow celebrity for this, Sir Vidia Naipaul, who is not an Indian but is an Indian for all of us. I live in Mumbai which is in western India and naturally regard West Indian Vidia as an Indian. After all, we celebrity intellectuals must stick together and my litfest offered him a lifetime achievement award. Some of the non-celebrity intellectuals who never appear on page 3 holding champagne glasses were obviously upset and said nasty things about Sir Vidia, how he did not care for India nor like Muslims and such like. I can only say, balls. These critics cannot look beyond the likes of Tughlaq.
Like all sensitive intellectuals, Sir Vidia is highly sensitive to the environment. He brought all this out in his earlier books about India being an area of darkness and a wounded civilisation. What is wrong with that? Had Naipaul lived during the time of Tennyson and visited India, he would have come out with a poem, ‘Charge of the Shit Brigade’: ‘Shit to the right of them/Shit to the left of them/Shit in front, shit at the back/Into the valley of shit/Rode the celebrity intellectual.’
And why should anyone blame Vidia for being anti-Muslim? We celebrity intellectuals do love our Muslim friends. Not the ones who lived on Mohammad Ali Road, but those who play tennis at the Bombay Gymkhana. While blaming me for conferring the lifetime achievement on Vidia, my detractors forgot my role as a trustee of Citizens for Justice and Peace. Why praise only that Teesta Setalvad?
Now let me share a secret with you. Former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani and others had a change of heart and secretly confessed to their crimes only after I refused them admission in my organisation and told them if they did not confess they would be forced to read Sir Vidia’s classics An Area of Darkness and India: A Wounded Civilisation. Vidia no doubt had harsh words for the Taj Mahal but you should have seen him wolf down the special items at the Taj Mahal Hotel’s Wasabi, incidentally one of the major retreats of our group. Like Vidia, I also find women writers, except my celeb colleague Shobha De, boring. It is high time we healed the wounds of Indian civilisation by making Vidia an honorary Indian citizen, maybe even honour him with a Bharat Ratna. It would be a suitable gesture as the Celebrity Intellectuals group of Trinidad has just honoured me with a lifetime award. And they had no protesting Canard either.
The Mumbai-based satirist is the creator of ‘Trishanku’; E-mail your secret diarist: vgangadhar70 AT gmail.com