Though turning the pages of the newspaper and poring over every little detail is soon becoming passé (or already has), I continue to do it – yes, and every morning. It is part of my DNA. My parents do it every morning, and that’s what I’ve woken up to since childhood. So, in spite of the deluge of news on the internet, it does not feel like home until I have a newspaper at my doorstep that I can pick up and glance at through sleepy half-open eyelids, then sit down with my cup of coffee in one hand and the paper in the other, and systematically turn the pages to read what I’ve already heard on television the night before.
Reading the newspaper in India is a grim affair. The last thing you want to do first thing in the morning is read about the 16th case of gangrape in Haryana in a month (5th in a week, thanks to our Hindi-heartland brothers who are overwhelmed by their own machismo every single day), Anna Hazare doing cartwheels on Arvind Kejriwal (yes, a most disturbing sight; treat it as a metaphor), massacre of natural resources through one scam after another, political rhetoric, failing infrastructure, the potent rise of the “mob”, baby girls being thrown out of flyovers and smashed against walls, and of course, Kareena Kapoor’s wedding date and Karan Johar’s new man-crush. But ever so often, there are these little news items in one of the nondescript middle pages cozily tucked into one corner not exceeding hundred words, that make the whole Herculean effort worthwhile, and dissipate the pall of gloom, finally adding color to the paper.
No, these are not stories of little children smiling, nor are they stories of the blind playing orchestra, which, by the way, are all very cute and do make you smile. These stories that I refer to now are the quirkiest occurrences that one would only imagine happens in the whackiest of cinema. I have to admit that these are sometimes fatal, and it does take a pretty dark sense of humor to smile at them, to look at the “joke” that is so subtly smeared all over the “fact”. In a bizarre way, these are also stories that one can only think of in India – one of those “it happens only in India” moments. The world is a strange place with strange people doing strange things, and if there were a competition, India would definitely be on the podium, and might I say, would even bag the first place!
So here are five such stories that have made it to this article because they are either very recent or have simply stayed with me due to their sheer oddity. Disclaimer: Not for the cute-seeking or faint-hearted
- Lady police officer is stationed on Juhu Beach to maintain law and order on the day of Ganesh idol immersion (a day when there are thousands of people on the beach to celebrate the religious ritual). She goes to a public toilet to relieve herself. Someone runs away with her gun. #Faith-in-God-to-watch-over-belongings
- Man passing through Aarey Colony (a forested area with just one road for traffic to pass through) on a motorcycle. A leopard appears out of the bushes. The man stops the bike. The screeching sound of the brakes is good enough for the leopard to turn around and run for dear life. #Role-reversal
- A 20-year-old man living in a Bombay slum decides to sweep the slush caused by the rain the night before out of his tenement. In the process, some of the slush makes its way into the neighbor’s “territory”. The neighbor and his wife (named Anguri – meaning “flavor of grapes”) come down to fight it out. This results in a heated argument. At some point, Anguri decides that the only way to conclude this fight would be to squeeze the man’s testicles. She does just that, and long and hard enough for the man to drop dead on the spot. #Grape-juice-power
- A couple in Bhubaneshwar go to the zoo for a relaxed stroll in the afternoon. Man and wife have an argument, midway through which man decides enough is enough. Result: he takes off his shirt and trousers and jumps right into the lions’ den. The lions feast on him till the zoo authorities are able to save him. #?-??-???
- An 18-year-old boy is ditched by his girlfriend. The jilted lover, in his depression, decides to commit suicide. So, bag strapped to his back (possibly with stuff he’d need in the after-life), he walks up a busy flyover to the highest point. He first throws the bag down (yes, the belongings getting There first is very very important). Bag lands on the roof of a car passing on the road below. Driver of the car stops and gets off to inspect the thud. To his utter bewilderment, he finds the man fall on the roof of his car from the flyover with an even greater thud (sorry buddy, bag betrayed). Police arrest man for attempted suicide. Driver sues man for causing dent on car roof.