August 02, 2020
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The Subcontinental Menu

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The Subcontinental Menu
Illustration by Saahil
The Subcontinental Menu

BJP Stomachs A Dixit Diet

Move over Atkins and keto, BJP leaders have discovered the ultimate panacea for weight loss—the Dixit diet, which prescribes only two meals a day, each lasting less than 55 minutes. The food must be high in proteins and low in carbs. Between meals, one can snack on coconut water, buttermilk and tomato. It purportedly helps shed 8 kg in three months and controls diabetes. The latest to join the Dixit bandwagon is BJP chief JP Nadda. He was heard saying that he had lost 5 kg on the regimen. The diet was the handiwork of late Dr Shrikant Jichkar, who came up with it between 1997 and 2004. It is now being promoted by Dr Jagannath Dixit, a professor who was also named as the brand ambassador of  the BJP’s anti-obesity campaign in Maharashtra.

Babu Got Back

Everyone’s been at the receiving end of a surly civil servant. But Ram Singh, the deputy commissioner of West Garo Hills, Meghalaya, is singlehandedly breaking stereotypes bestowed on bureaucrats. Every week, the 2008-batch IAS officer and his wife walk 10 km with their baby in tow to buy vegetables at the local market. And instead of plastic bags, he packs the produce in a traditional bamboo basket known as kokcheng. Singh’s fitness regimen burst into the limelight after he posted a photo of his weekly haul—21 kg of vegetables bought from Najing Bazar near Tura. The modest officer, though, is perplexed by the inordinate attention his grocery shopping has got. “I wish this viral news of me would simmer down now,” he says.

Dangling Diplomatic Carrots

When it comes to international overtures, it seems the UK prefers the carrot over the stick. Recently, the country’s envoy to Pakistan, Thomas Drew, set Twitter aflame with a video of him cooking gajar ka halwa. But this is not the first time the culinary connoisseur has attempted desi food. On September 8, he impressed people with his “first lesson in Pakistani cooking”—dal and roti. While the responses to the video were invariably adulatory, one tweeter found it “a great lesson to so-called Pak elites who consider cooking as something for the servants to do” while another asked the ambassador to serve it to his in-laws for “guaranteed real feedback”.

Reader, She Married Him

Khadiza Akter Khushi, a 19-year-old Bangladeshi lass, did something unprecedented in the history of the country: for her wedding, she went to the groom’s house with her guests and family members, and then returned with him to her home, thereby reversing the centuries-old tradition of the groom taking the bride to his house. While their video has gone viral on social media and Khushi is deluged with accolades, not everybody is impressed. Some consider it humiliating and outrageous, and one man even suggested the couple and their families be beaten with slippers. However, the rebel with a cause remains unfazed: “It doesn’t matter what people think, what they say. Everybody is entitled to their opinion.”

Vaango Xi, Welcome Modi

MODI’s proposed meeting with Xi Jinping at Mahabalipuram has put his opponents in Tamil Nadu in a fix. For once, MDMK is unable to float black balloons and DMK is hesitant to trend #ModiGoBack in protest. Since the three-day summit between the two leaders has put the focus on Tamil Nadu’s historical ties with China, Stalin and Vaiko have been compelled to mellow their opposition to Modi. Both have urged their followers to roll out the red carpet for the Chinese leader to showcase the hospitality of Tamils. Having recently declared Tamil as one of the world’s oldest languages at the UN and invoked Tamil pride, Modi has not stopped smiling at the predicament of his opponents in the state.

Namedropping For Centuries

What’s in a name? The Galo community in Arunachal Pradesh will tell you that their names contains clues to that of their ­ancestors—right up to the time when Shakespeare was mulling the significance of appellations, or even older. “We have a system of prefixing the second syllable of a father’s name to that of a son, who passes on the suffix in his name to his son,” Kenjum Bagra, a zoologist in Pasighat, says. His father’s name was Gumken, grandfather’s Megum and great-grandfather’s Gumme.

Kehta Hai Joker

Poor Nawaz Sharif! Not only has the former prime minister of Pakistan been serving  a seven-year prison sentence, he also has to contend with the lack of creature comforts. After Imran Khan pledged to keep Sharif bereft of an AC and TV in jail, railway minister Sheikh Rashid tried to ameloriate his discomfort. Pray, how? By offering a tape recorder and songs of Mukesh, the yesteryear Bollywood singer of hits like Awara Hoon and ­Kehta Hai Joker. The former PM is known to be a fan of classic Hindi music, but we doubt the plaintive tunes of Mukesh will do much to ease his pain.

Spectre Of A Despot

Spanish dictator Francisco Franco continues to haunt his people more than four decades after his death. He came to power after a bitter, violent and polarising war from 1936-39 between left-leaning Republicans and an alliance of Fascist Falangists, Monarchists, Conservatives and Catholics. The Spanish Civil War, often described as a dress rehearsal for World War 2, drew scores of liberal writers and intellectuals like Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Christopher Caudwell and others from different parts of the Western world to volunteer for the International Brigade and fight the autocrat. However, the Fascist alliance won, propping up Franco as the ruler of Spain. In 1975, his death heralded the end of 36 years of dictatorship.

Recently, the country’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez decided to exhume the former dictator’s remains, buried at the venerated Valley of the Fallen, and inter him next to his wife Carmen Polo in a private crypt before the general elections on November 10. The Valley of the Fallen, located in the outskirts of Madrid, is officially a memorial to the dead of both sides of the Spanish Civil War and contains the remains of more than 33,000 people. However, the only marked graves are those of Franco and Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder of the Fascist Falange, whom the Republicans executed in 1936.

Sanchez feels removing Franco’s body from his grave will boost his popularity. But even ­critics of the dictator want to let sleeping dogs lie.

“No enemy of democracy deserves to lie in a place of worship or institutional respect,” Sanchez said at last month’s UN general assembly in New York. The popular but potentially divisive decision has sparked off a major controversy in Spain. Over the past year, the country’s fractured polity has not allowed a stable government to survive its full term. Some fear that the Prime Minister’s decision could further sharpen existing fissures in Spanish society. Sanchez’s Socialist Party failed to get support from others to ensure his government’s survival, which in turn has forced a fresh election. The proposed move has polarised the polity further, which the anti-immigrant, right-wing Vox party has capitalised on.

Sanchez feels removing Franco’s body will consolidate his votes among leftists and liberals. But many are not sure. Unlike Germany or Italy, experts argue that Spain has not gone through a ‘de-Nazification’ process. Even some vociferous critics of Franco feel that it is best to let sleeping dogs lie.

Illustrations by Saahil; Text Curated by G.C. Shekhar, Jyotika sood and Alka Gupta

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