I’m sorry, I missed some of her early lines because I was busy chivvying a supply chain. Of EVMs. May Cthulhu bless the Election Commission and their tech progress, 13 rounds of counting were completed between 8 a.m. and a quarter to 12. Unimaginable back in the day, I remember the counting in the Simultaneous Elections in May 1996 took THREE DAYS and most of us went into rehab afterwards. By the afternoon of the second day my voice was gone and I was giving orders in sign language; one of my major achievements was fitting an air circulator to the ass of just about every counting supervisor and assistant – not a luxury when the temperature was above 45 Celsius with over 90% humidity. Three of our counting staff ended up in hospital, in a neighbouring district one died.
And this time, although the first two rounds took nearly an hour in one Assembly segment, 10 more rounds and a bit were over in less than 3 hours after that. Yay for chivvying.
Sometimes this gorment job is particklerly irritating because it would be against my service rules to discuss the election results on a public forum. Which leads to major restraint.
But I can discuss 'em with friends. Which I did in Delhi, from 3 in the morning on Sunday till it was time for my flight home. Other issues came up (along with coffee, cigarillos and a rather good toasted ham sandwich), and I place them here for comment.
1 – Tom Friedman is an ass. Not only because distances are actually greater in a flat world, but because every book of his goes beyond incoherent to inchoate.
2 – Women in the Punjab, or at least a specific part thereof, were observed to carry themselves very well. “Trod the ling like a buck in spring” and all that (or should that be “doe in spring”? Too many options). The men tend to slouch. (Subsidiary point – is there a real difference in ... ummm …tandrusti, or have ALL the women discovered the Wonderbra?)
3 – Every single country in the continent of Africa is FUBAR, governance as we know it is non-existent and only Alexander McCall Smith’s locale has a modicum of peace.
4 – Anthony McAuliffe totally rocked, and Panther Soup works well both as war memoir and travelogue. I’m reading it now and I agree. Sample quote – “To live a la Bourguignonne is to enjoy a life of red wine and cream, and to die at the age of 42 under somebody else’s wife.”
5 – When you have a possessive cat who hates it when you go away, and also pees on your luggage to show her disapproval, getting past sniffer dogs at airports is hellish. I mean, try out that explanation on any random copper
6 – Being arrested can be a surprisingly civilised interaction. This was a student demonstration in the aftermath of the Bhopal tragedy, the police had orders from on high to round up the demonstrators and hated it far more than the arrested people because they (the police) had to pull out records from the previous 30 years to charge these boys and girls (few of them over 25) with unsolved crimes. They kept apologizing to the detainees. The traumatic part was taking a dump while handcuffed to another person.
6a – “Well, if you count East and West Germany as different countries – which they were at that time – I’ve been arrested in 13 of them. Not counting India.”
7 - "I stand by what I said, that woman WAS naked when I walked in and he DID leave me to calm her down. Incidentally, she was Puerto Rican, not Cuban, and her name was Pagol. Just goes to show."
I do have interesting friends.