Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Between the ballot sheets

(Published in Business Standard on April 19, 2014)

If you consume any kind of media, including street posters and hoardings, Mandate 2014 feels like a relationship two years in, when there’s no romance or suspense left in the bedroom. Both of you are kind of bored when you have an election, so you just sort of hold it as nicely as you can, and try not to fall asleep, and have what can only be described as an anti-climax.

That simile is stretched thinner than latex, but here’s the thrust of my argument: people are talking as if there’s almost no point holding a May 16 at all, seeing as how everyone already seems to know exactly what’s going to happen: the BJP is going to win and Narendra Modi is going to be Prime Minister. Depending on which side of the political belief gap you stand on, this is either the Second Coming, or the day India gets shafted; but either way, the BJP is going to win and Narendra Modi is going to be Prime Minister.

This may be because the BJP campaign has smartly bought up every square inch of media space. If voters think that they’re already in charge, it’s because voters, bombarded by advertising, tend to respond with all the will and critical distance of junkies. This says more about people than about advertising, but there we are. Delhi’s residents declared results sometime last month. We know what’s what, because our father’s second cousin’s nephew’s mother-in-law knows someone who designed a shirt for someone who works in the Railways who once touched an envelope from the Ministry of Culture.

But hold on, there’s a rumour that the elections are not actually over, and nothing has actually been counted, and nobody actually knows how things will pan out. So, if only in the interest of staying awake, buck up, people, and try to inject some fun into the next few weeks. Remember, it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

Meanwhile, here are six tips for how to spice up your life in the ballot box.

1. Do you like your current political prediction, but find the magic palling? If so, consider involving a third party. It’s okay to imagine it; after all, your biggest political asset is between your ears. Too kinky for some, but it can make things sizzle.

2. Has conversation become repetitive? Have you been banging on so long about efficiency and Hindu values that you want to gag everybody? Experiment with chatting about the right to information and women’s empowerment. Talking dirty is a huge turn-on.

3. Pay more attention to how you look and sound. Have you had the same old opinions about national pride and the Gujarat Model every day? Habit can breed tedium. Try putting yourself in someone else’s shoes for a bit, imagine what it might be like to be female, or a minority, or gay, and what their concerns might be. Mmmmm!

4. One word: novelty. Using new toys and literature can rekindle the sparks. How about reading some other party’s manifesto? Pay as much attention to design, presentation and reader-friendliness, as to substance. You may find it hotter than the one you already subscribe to. Nothing to be ashamed of, and discretion is assured—they’re all online.

5. And lastly, nothing says come hither like an inner layer one doesn’t expect. Putting on something fun and wild can make you feel sexier than ever. If you let a bit of social liberalism peek out from beneath your economically conservative hem, you may find your partner breathing more heavily.

6. Find the right button, for god’s sake. Nobody likes a voter who just fumbles around poking at the wrong spot.

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