June 23, 2021
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Assignments usually require a lot of chatting up. They take one to people that one would otherwise miss speaking to. And these informal conversations with absolutely unknown faces, sometimes throw up far more interesting facts than one would have expected. 

A shopkeeper in Ayodhya had a similar gem to offer. The judgement for the Ramjanam bhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit is just two days away. We were in Ayodhya to do a story. As we walked around talking to people, 55-year-old Jeetendra Kumar walked upto me. ``Are you from the press?,'' he asked. When I said yes, he smiled. Adding, ``A lot of you are here these days.''  Jeetendra, has a small makeshift shop in Hanumangarhi, selling CDs, DVDs and tapes of Ramayan. As we got talking about the disputed site, the tension building in the town, forces pouring in as part of the sarkaari bandobast in case of a flare-up, post the judgement on September 24th, Jeetendra quietly slipped in, ``You know what Ayodhya actually means? A-Yodhy: A place where there is no yudh (war).'' The irony was too stark to be missed. Jeentendra went back to his shop, selling CDs to tourists.

We turned around to talk to the PAC jawans sitting by a chai shop. Funny how Ayodhya has turned into a battleground for so long now.

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