33

Parliamental – Book Review

Book: Parliamental

Author: Meghnad S.

Reviewed By: Manas Mukul

Publisher: HarperCollins India (2nd July 2019)

Price: 299 INR

Pages: 220 (Paperback)

ISBN-10: 935357059X

ISBN-13: 978-9353570590

Language: English

Genre: Political Satire

My rating: 4/5

 

At 11 am every day, during a parliament session, we witness the proceedings of both the houses through their respective channels. A speaker or chairman heads the overall functioning and MPs from both the sides, in power and opposition, go at each other. For the majority of sessions, you will observe uproar or that the house is adjourned, while on some occasion regular business does take place. In all the confusing chaos that unravels the onlooker feels that given a chance they will simply behead each other.

Well a lot goes on behind the scenes too – while a bill is being introduced, while sharing meals in the canteen, while the members interact with each other outside the parliament, etc. ‘Parliamental’ by Meghnad S. is a political satire, which tries to showcase what goes behind walls and in those power galleries.

I keenly follow politics and have opinions about them; sometimes they take the form of words and end up as tweets or on my blog or like most of the times they simply remain between my ears that gets replaced by a new topic almost every morning. I would like to express my gratitude towards Blogchatter’s Book Review Program for considering me this book review, which gave me an option to explore and review a favorite genre like humor and satire.

About the Author

Meghnad is a columnist, public policy professional and podcaster. He has his own show, Consti-tution, on the Newslaundry and is an influencer on Twitter with the handle @memeghnad. He also travels all over the country to conduct civics classes under the banner Democracy IRL. His articles have appeared and gone viral on BuzzFeed and other content websites.

My Review

The cover of the book is ‘cartoonish-ly’ done and you might recognize some of the faces from a current lot of politicians. ‘Parliamental’ is a great title for the book as it is in complete sync with what goes on in the parliament as well as the satirical tone. The back cover contains the blurb along with a unique thing – some one-line reviews; they are from the characters of the book, for better understanding you will have to grab a copy.

The story mainly revolves around two characters – Raghav Marathe, a young policy analyst bustling with restless energy to bring about a change in the system and Prabhu Srikar, a first time MP whose analyst Raghav is. The story throws up some important supporting characters too – Nikita, a journalist, Helen, a YouTuber, Dushyant, a lawyer, etc.

The story begins with Srikar receiving the news of his surprise victory and how he becomes a first time MP from being a sharp businessman. Raghav, his neighbor, who helped him during his election campaign and speeches, is entrusted with a similar responsibility along with helping Srikar with policy analysis. Srikar tries to stick his neck out whenever he isn’t comfortable about a certain political situation even if it meant going against the wishes of his political party.

Back Cover with Blurb

When a new bill is introduced that threatens freedom of expression on social media, they all unite together to take on the might of the system. During all of this Raghav through his twitter alter ego, @Arnavinator tries to expose the hidden secrets and things that were not meant to see the light of the day. There is a back-story as to why he decides to choose this particular name.

Meghnad craft fully uses satire using simple words and not heavy political jargons. He shows his funny side through the footnotes that are meanings of the regional words but with a comic twist to them. You will constantly have a smile on your face throughout the book. It was smart of him to use a story as the backdrop to highlight the issues rather than putting it out as non-fiction with real names and characters. He even takes potshots at himself with lines like – ‘Raghav felt like the protagonist in a political satire novel.’

The book is crisp and unputdownable and the vocabulary helps. The editing is sharp and polished and it definitely reflects. With less than 200 story pages it is a fast read and even though the book is a fictional political satire, it goes at a thriller pace and keeps you invested till the very end.

Using his sardonic style, Meghnad touches many contemporary serious issues like social media regulation, anti-defection, corruption, etc. He has about seven years of experience of working with members of parliament and none of it goes to waste. No real-life names have been used but that can’t be said for the reference. If you read closely and look widely you will figure out who is who.

The plot is predictable and a bit clichéd and the story end up abruptly. The build-up is nice but once you reach the end you might get a feeling that it ended in a rush. I have mentioned this previously; an extra chapter would do no harm to such a fast-paced book till the time the story is perfectly spaced out.

Overall, it’s a story about how a common man gets entangled and travels through the corridors of power and tries to change or at best question and expose the system. Does he become successful in his motive, for that you need to pick a copy of the book?

Verdict

India is a country where after cricket, which is a religion, and Bollywood, which is everyone’s fascination, political discussion is like a meal. You will find people banging their heads with each other about current political events or ideologies at every tea stall, or during any train journey or while simply waiting in a queue.

The book is a welcome fodder for all those political analysts. I am going with four stars for ‘Parliamental’ by Meghnad S. – three and a half for the satire and the extra half for the amazingly humorous and creative footnotes. This page-turner is a must-read.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This review was done as part of the Blogchatter Book Review Program. Please sign up if you are a bibliophile.

My side of the bargain – an honest review – Find the Book here on Goodreads and Amazon.

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6

P – Political Candidates | #AtoZChallenge

P – Political Candidates | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

In continuation with the yesterdays’ post, I will discuss the political candidates and candidature of the country, when we discuss what are the options and whom to choose from it is a lot dependent on us. Some might say we vote for what is available, I believe its how and whom we vote decides the kind of candidates being fielded.

A terror accused, against which the NIA has admitted that they have sufficient proof, gets a ticket to contest the election. I wonder if any other party would have done the same, the whole world would have gone berserk saying that they are anti-nationals and supportive of such forces.

It is high time that we as voters start thinking about the kind of candidates we want to see. If we vote for the current lot whether from any party, not based on the kind of work they have done but just some sloganeering then we don’t have the right to blame anyone else.

Whether it is a dynast or a megalomaniac, no one is purchasing a seat in Lok Sabha. They are all contesting and it is the majority of the people that vote and send them in. So the elections should be on issues that directly concern us. Even if we can’t choose the candidates, then at least we can pose the right questions to the ones already contesting. Aren’t they answerable?

There is a comical trend that has emerged that highlights both the hypocrisy of a party as well as its supporters. A person is accused of so many things only and only if he or she is a part of the opposition. The same candidates when they are in the opposition party are looked as criminals but the moment they join the current ruling party, a halo emerges around them signifying their innocence and it is then loudly proclaimed that they were criminals only till they were in the opposition.

The candidature of a candidate should be immediately barred or canceled as soon as they migrate from one party to another after a particular election has taken place. People voted for a symbol and the ideology he represents but then a mockery of the system is made, when the next day the candidate jumps to the other side. Election after election we are seeing this and it is a huge cause behind the current horse-trading scenario of politicians.

The much hyped ‘Joota Kand’ that took place between two gladiators of the ruling party. Did anyone try to listen to the charges that they were making against each other? Everyone got lost in counting the number of times one has honored the other with the shoe rather than focusing on the grave accusations made by both on each other. That’s a live proof that nobody is a saint even if they are under the flag of a particular color.

I grew up with a notion that whether you do good work or not but to have criminal inclination is a necessary quality if one has to succeed in politics and that’s the sad reality. Look at the kind of charges against candidates. There are a wide variety of serious charges against them including rape, murder, terrorist activity, and sedition and so on. The system even corrupts the ones who start clean with good intentions. Try to remember the time when we were in school and the teacher used to ask what do you want to become when you grow up…and nobody answered a politician.

Why to only blame the politicians when we ourselves are at fault on so many accounts? The moment our relative or someone close comes to power as a politician or a bureaucrat or even a government official, we try every possible bit to get our work done through them however illegal it may be.

Even the Supreme Court intervened in the matter but with no result. The percentage of tainted candidates who won in the last election was around 35% and it is definitely on the rise in 2019. Everyone from the BJP to Congress, from DMK to AIDMK, each and every political party is a culprit of that.

The political class has played with the law and rules in such a shameful manner that you will be shocked to know that currently, a person who has served less than two years in prison can also contest elections.

We are so dumb that the moment a movie celebrity joins politics and becomes a candidate, everyone blindly votes for them, knowing that they will hardly visit their constituency forget about visiting Lok Sabha and raising the people’s issues.

Nobody questions the returning candidates on their previous performance. Forget questioning, the candidates themselves know that they can’t highlight their own work otherwise they will be shown the mirror royally and hence they play divisive tactics.

I am not saying that every candidate is a criminal but somehow the Good Samaritan gets lost in the glitz, glamour, and influence of a criminal. A Nobel man would never be able to generate the amount of cash and muscle power required to win an election and hence the illicit and immoral will keep coming back to power. The political parties will do everything possible to keep it corrupt, the latest electoral bonds is a prime example of it.

The fallacy lies within us. Till the time we are going to vote for such much-acclaimed candidates the political parties will keep fielding them. We need to look beyond caste, creed, family, lineage, religion and focus on the issues that directly are of concern otherwise the future of your kids’ education will keep going into the hands of those educational ministers who lied about their educational qualifications under oath.

For all those who are fed up of the current lot,

For all those who vote for tainted candidates,

For all those who vote for celebrities,

And

For all those who want a change in the political candidature…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 16th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Politics Category is ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’, where I would be covering some relevant issues with the General Elections 2019 through the course of 26 posts.

Read the previous post here: IPL – Indian Parliamentary League

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘Q’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘Dubai – City of Gold‘. If you love travel head over to the Travel Theme and share your feedback.

22

Cirque Du Joker

Its a WOW post

Once upon a time in a far far land,

It was unique, as it was known as TEDDYLAND.

 

There lived a Mr Joker,

He was no ordinary card…he was the hero of his own Poker

One by one they came and broke his heart,

Though smiling through the pain was his art

 

They love their Jager bombs and Jagermeister,

He would honor them with his own JOKERMEISTER

 

They would cuddle and lay on his chest,

The funny stories he told were his best

 

In his genre, he was a rocker

He brought to the town his own CIRQUEDUJOKER

 

Each had a Paraphilia that brought them to orgasm,

He had his JOKEROPHILIA hat created a lot of LAUGHGASM

 

His art was to touch women’s heart,

All they would do is break his apart

 

So many stories and so many happy endings,

He was a storyteller whose JOKERTALE was never ending

 

They say, Jack-of-all-trades master of none,

For him, it was Joker of all trades and master of some

 

He faded with time, but his stories remained,

The Contemplation of a Joker forever entertained.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

Tell me which one did you like the most of all the new words.

 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

The New invented Made up words:

TeddyLand – A place where every inhabitant is a Teddy bear.

Jokermeister – A potion of the Joker

Cirque Du Joker – Circus of Joker (inspired from cirque du soleil)

Jokerophilia – Love of Joker

Laughgasm – orgasm experienced with laughter

Jokertale – A tale of Joker

 

18

Some might say that it’s wrong

 


Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian BloggersFeatured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

 

 

 

It was the last day before the summer vacations of the kids were about to start. All the ladies in the WhatsApp group – ‘Class of 2003’ were busy gossiping about how they have convinced their husbands to pick up their kids from the school.

Nothing is as refreshing as seeing your father at the end of a long hot summer afternoon at school come to receive you.

They all lined up outside the main gate, waiting for the final bell to go off. Most of them were coming straight from work in their formals while some belonging to the self-employed class had the privilege of being in casuals. But there was one, who was dressed up like a cool dude. He had come on his Royal Enfield Bullet. The aura around him suggested that this guy doesn’t have an iota of a worry. He too was their batchmate but looked way too younger and was in great physical shape. He was so good looking that some of their wives even teased them by mentioning his name at odd hours.

The moment the other men saw, the humming of bees started among them. Each and every one was jealous of him. It was as if the roles had reversed and now they were discussing (read cribbing) more like their wives. The reason being he was still unmarried.

The WOW prompt

Some might say that it’s wrong to remain unmarried but I really envy him for the fact that how can someone have so much freedom and fun. Slowly each of them started pouring their heart out:

You get to sleep on any side of the bed…in fact, the whole damn bed is yours. No fight for the pillow…no tug-of-war for the blanket at night. No changing of diapers at 2 am.

These so-called ‘parents’ and ‘elders’ are never satisfied with whatever you do. They were after my life first to get married. After I got married they were after me for giving them a grandchild. Now once I fulfilled their wish they are chasing me to give the child a sibling.

First, they say you are doing all this for the family but where is the time for the family. From 8 am to 11 pm I am slogging in the office earning for the EMIs that are reducing us bit by bit. If it weren’t for wife’s Facebook posts I would have even missed the growth of my kids.

Some relatives suggested get married to a small town girl; she will be a good housewife. Now she has become a great housewife along with three maids doing the better half of her duties.

He still gets to play cricket on weekends while we spend most of ours in the queues of supermarkets. He is partying on Friday nights while we are busy helping out with home works.

He gets to take out his bike, do solo trips and explore the mountains while we end up spending the holidays just planning where to go. Most of us spend more time doing to and fro outside the movie theatre than actually watching the movie.

In fact, to his credit, he did give a Russian girl a real chance but the family went crazy the moment he brought her home. His life is so perfect as he can choose to go out with different girls on different nights and his eyes became moist (The one who was saying this). Everyone went quiet reflecting on their miserable lives.

The bell rang…kids came out running…each outpacing the other in the desire to hug their father.

The dude overheard everything. He turned towards the men and said; “You know what I miss the most, my bundle of joy running towards me like this as if I mean the world to him.”

For all those who are still unmarried,

For all those who are single,

For all those who are married

And

For all those who love their kids

It’s not a Goodbye

but it’s a GOOD BYE

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

 

205

Death on Karnataka Express

Death on Karnataka Express

The sudden jerk of the train coming to a halt shook me out of slumber. I was sleeping on the middle berth of a three-tier AC coach. I moved the pungent smelling inflexible curtain and tried to peep through the window. The sun was yet to rise but the morning blue had taken over the milieus. It looked like the train was moving through the outskirts of a city. I got my wristwatch out of my backpack and checked the time. It was 6:30 am.

We were travelling in Karnataka express from Bangalore to New Delhi. My initial job training got over in Mysore and I got posting in Chandigarh. Mom was paying a visit to my sister in Bangalore and hence was accompanying me back till Chandigarh.

The last time I checked in the night, when we reached Bhopal, the train was running on its scheduled time.

I thought, ‘we must be approaching Agra by this time.’

I slid to my left and looked down at the lower berth. Mom was still sleeping peacefully. A sensation urged me to use the washroom. I slowly got down in a crouching position, making sure not to wake her up, slipped into my slippers and walked through the narrow passage towards the washroom.

Death on Karnataka Express

After using the washroom, I decided to look outside the entrance door of the coach, since the train hadn’t yet moved. There is no more serene sight than countryside right up early in the morning. I leaped outside the gate but there was no one in sight. ‘Probably most of the people are still sleeping’, I supposed. ‘It was a good four hours still left for us to reach New Delhi, if the train reached at its timetabled arrival time.’

The huge iron wheels slowly started moving making a screeching sound. I shut the door and walked back to my berth. The berth opposite to mom’s berth was empty.

‘The elderly man would have got down at a station somewhat late in the night, as I was pretty much awake past midnight’, I pondered.

Five more minutes passed by and the train gathered momentum. The rural dwellings in the landscape were being replaced by more urban infrastructure. I knew that the railway station was about to arrive and considered having a cup of tea and some biscuits. Mom usually is an early riser and it was way past her regular wake up time. ‘

‘I guess she wouldn’t have an idea what time it is’, I assumed.

She didn’t prefer tea prepared at stations but I, nevertheless, thought of asking her before the station arrives. I feebly called out, “MOM.”

“Mom…Mom…MOM”, I kept calling gradually increasing the pitch of my voice. She didn’t respond leave alone waking up.

I touched her feet to wake her up but she didn’t respond this time either. I started shaking her arm slightly and simultaneously calling out ‘mom…mom…mom.’ It felt as if she was intentionally not waking up.

I touched her forehead. It was damp and cold. Initially I thought that the air-conditioning might have done it. Her cheeks were even icier. I didn’t know what had happened to her. I kept shaking her arm and calling her for more than two minutes but she didn’t budge a single bit.

I was beginning to get worried. I didn’t know what to do. I could see the train slowly entering the station through the window and thought of trying to wake her up one more time.

She didn’t respond.

By now the glitter of sweat was shining on my forehead. I was getting more and more nervous and anxious as time passed. Somehow in these sorts of situations, negative thoughts are the first ones to swarm your mind.

They didn’t spare me either and for a second I thought, ‘Is Mom dead?’

The more I was trying to wake her up, the stronger the sinking feeling became. I knew I had to remain calm and try to think my way through, ‘what if she was actually dead.’

In my custom and tradition the first thing that happens is, as soon as you get to know that either of your parents or any blood relative has passed away, we aren’t supposed to eat anything till the final cremation rituals are performed.

I quelled my mind and focused on the difficult task at hand. I started deliberating, ‘should I get down at Agra or should I continue till New Delhi and seek some help there? Should I call someone right away?’ Should I seek some medical help in the train itself?

My heart was breaking in fact shattering.

I knew it was going to be a long…really long day ahead. The thought of not eating anything for the next two days was already eating my mind. I decided to get down to at least have a cup of tea and couple of cookies. The train was about to move and I had to act fast.

I immediately got down and went to a railway tea stall. The vendor was selling some stale tea but there wasn’t any other option in sight. I decided since I might not get anything else; let me purchase two cups of tea. I purchased a packet of biscuits and put it in my jeans’ rear pocket. I thought of having one cup right away but that same screeching sound of the iron wheels started.

I hurriedly reached the metal door and a fellow passenger helped me board the train again.

I was making my way through few people who were beginning to wake up, making sure I don’t spill any of it.

The eerie feeling of having tea right next to my dead mom also came over me for a second but the contemplation of being hungry for the next two days made a starving sensation in me and I thought, ‘what the hell! Let me have it. There wasn’t anyone who knew me or would complain that I had tea and cookies after mom passed away.’

As soon as I reached my berth, I was dumbfounded and speechless by what I saw.

Mom was wide-awake sitting upright and combing her hair. She annoyingly looked at me and began, ‘how many times have I told you not to get down on every station. What happened to you is everything all right? Why do you look so astonished?’

I handed her a cup of tea interrupting her and sheepishly said, “I got down to bring you some tea and biscuits.”

“In all these years have you ever seen me have this railway station tea?” she added.

I knew it was embarrassingly awkward what had conspired into my head and decided to tell her the ordeal of buying two cups of tea.

She broke into a loud uncontrollable laughter. I joined in. I told her that the first thought that came to my mind after seeing my mom dead, was to have tea and biscuit.

We kept on laughing till we reached New Delhi.

To this day, whenever we discuss a train journey, we roll in fits of laughter remembering this episode.

For all those who love their moms,

For all those who have lost loved ones,

For all those who are fed up of such rituals,

For all those who love trains,

And

For all those who love humour…

It’s not a GoodBye…

But It’s a GOOD BYE

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

#MyFriendAlexa #ContemplationOfaJoker #CirqueDuJoker