Saturday, May 09, 2009

Happy V-day

I didn’t enjoy Rhonda Byrne’s highly popular book The Secret. It was zealous and syrupy, and it undermined its wide-eyed wonder at the simple impact of positive thinking with an off-putting tendency to want to bend this alleged power of the universe towards the goal of making ever more money.

Having said that, I have noticed the following intriguing fact on several occasions through my life: no matter how scared or stupid you’ve been, if your intentions are honourable the universe often has a way of coming through for you. I put this notion down to the near-spiritual rush delivered by the swarms of endorphins that the body releases when it’s relieved of a sticky or disappointing situation.

The day I got my driving licence, for example, I absolutely had to make my way into the bowels of Connaught Place at peak hour, for an errand that couldn’t wait. I was rigid with terror at the thought and dragged my feet around the house in the hope that my brother would return from college before I had to leave, so that I could take him along in the passenger seat for moral support.

Finally I could wait no longer. This was in the days before cell phones, so I was on my own. I walked out the door fighting with myself, sweating blood, dying to save my first solo drive for another day and a less challenging destination, forcing my feet to walk to the car even though they were trying to go in the other direction. I opened the driver’s door with my heart in my mouth, and guess what? At that precise moment my brother walked through the gate. I was so relieved I could have wept. It was hard to resist the conviction that I was being rewarded for not having given in to fear and the temptation of just jumping into an autorickshaw.

A happy version of this happened again this past week. Readers of this column will remember, possibly with a gagging sensation, two weeks of bellyaching about wanting very much to vote, putting in a reasonable amount of effort into trying to make sure I could, and being cruelly hoist by my own petard because I was told that I’d missed the deadline for the general election of 2009.

My disappointment was massive because really, although I was stupid, I’d tried hard. And lo and behold, on Monday my doorbell rang and an election officer handed me my Election Photo Identity Card, just like that, matter-of-factly, apparently unaware of the significance of this event in my life and the attendant storm of emotion gathering within me. I stared at it for so long that he had to mention that he was really only still standing there because I had to sign for it. You mean I can vote now, on May 7? I said warily. Why not, he snorted, let’s see who can stop you. And off he went, cool as a cucumber, trailing a little cloud of my blessings.

I have no idea how this happened, but as the man said, ours not to reason why. And so, on Thursday morning, I asked my way to the polling booth, hacked my way through a thicket of journalists (who were standing around waiting to take such groundbreaking pictures as of a politician casting his vote), stood in a line, found my name on the electoral roll, stepped behind a fig leaf of a privacy screen, and lost my political virginity.

As in most cases of lost virginity, better late than never. And as in most such cases, I can’t believe I haven’t done this before, and heartily look forward to doing it again.

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