Touria Prayag's Blog

L’express Weekly, 29 April 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on May 2, 2011

Weekly 29 April

Soap operas and briani

We really do excel in the art of mass entertainment. The kind
which is most apt at delivering easy satisfaction and quick
gratifi cation. And, as an audience, we are all willing to be
entertained and cannot w ait for the next stunt.
Sometimes, there are mercies which we have to be grateful for as they
enhance the spectacle. Like the visit of the non-executive president of
India to our little island and the hullabaloo generated around it. Don’t get
me wrong. I am not opposed to the visits of statesmen and stateswomen
to our country. Quite the opposite. However, although we have historical
reasons to feel an emotional attachment to India, nonetheless we do have
to be rational in our acts.
First, our Leader of the Opposition offi cially declares that he has to
postpone the revelations he has to make about the “mega scandal” involving
the Patel fi rm. Very courteous, really. But unless he is confusing Patil
and Patel, I see no connection between a foreign president’s visit to our
land, albeit from India, and what he qualifi ed as a scandal which would
make the MedPoint one pale in comparison.
Then our dear Prime minister, unveiling Indira Gandhi’s statue engages
in a dithyrambic speech which makes the lady sound like the best
thing India has had since sliced bread. If Mrs. Patil was pleased to hear
about how wonderful Indira Gandhi was, millions of Indians, for whom
the late Prime minister was not exactly an icon of democracy and respect
for human rights, still bear the scars of her authoritarian rule. A state of
emergency, press censorship, dynastic nepotism and the trauma of forced
mass sterilisations resulting in an aversion to family planning ever since
are but a few of the remembrances of her legacy.
After this intensely entertaining week, you may feel an anti-climax as
the president who has graced us with her visit has left. Well, take heart:
May Day is round the corner and you will see our genius in action. While
in some countries, there is fear of violence as sometimes workers are
chased off the streets with tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets, on
our little island, we will see scores of workers as well as those who have
never worked in their lives, pouring out of their homes in large numbers
and gearing up for the free grub, booze and picnic. They will be brandishing
the colour of the party which has bought their sympathy in a
power game all too familiar. Economic crisis, world recession, infl ation,
eroded purchasing power, MedPoint, bookmakers getting away with
murder, who cares once one’s stomach has been rounded with a good
helping of briani, one’s senses have been numbed with beer and cheap
rum and one’s voice has become hoarse through shouting aboard the
free buses shuttling people around the island. Why worry about such
insignifi cant things? One is grateful enough for the recreation.
Let no one breathe that the celebration of Labour Day has its origins in
the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work,
eight hours for recreation and eight hours for rest. The only recreation
many of us get is on May Day. As for work and rest, we have nothing
to complain about: we will not work for eight hours because we are not
foreign workers and we will not rest for eight hours because it is not
enough. So, let’s enjoy the entertainment while it lasts. And let the size
of the crowd dictate ki sanla ki mari, for that’s what May Day is now
all about.

weekly@lexpress.mu

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