2011 seems like a great year so far. No disasters reported, no coups, tsunamis, recessions or even a major scam. There has been at least one uplifting event already, so the year has started well. On the other hand, there are critics (well, at least one critic) of my opinion. And in this case, a sample size of one is also a majority of one, because the critic in question is married to me. The essence of her criticism – or what Bertie Wooster might call the res, gist or nub – is that one cannot pass judgement on the year at 9 a.m. on 1st January. In fine, it is too early. She also says, in no uncertain terms, that sausages-for-breakfast does not qualify as an uplifting event.
Oh well. Since higher authorities will not let me pass judgement on 2011, I must retreat to the dim and distant past. Specifically, to 2010. Which seems to have been a good year on the whole. Except perhaps for the Democratic Party in the USA. Or marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. And Ricky Ponting’s Umpire Education Policy. And Arun Nayar, who found that safety-pins cannot hold a marriage together. Or the Indian Railways in Uttar Pradesh, where 6 accidents were reported in January 2010 alone. And the General Post Office, Kolkata, where employees were taken to task at year-end because they could not achieve unreasonable targets (such as delivering letters on time, specifically a letter from the Home Minister of India). Further, this was not a good year for bond salesmen and stockbrokers in Greece, or for that matter in Iceland or Portugal. There was some talk of an economic crisis in Spain as well, but all calls to their Ministry of Finance yielded only a recorded message at about 98 decibels that went “OLEEEEEEEEE!!! GANAMOS!!!” (We won). Apart from these, 2010 seems to have gone off well.
It was also a very moving year. The earth moved early and often (no, I am not referring to intimate experiences.) In January, an earthquake in Haiti touched 7.0 on the Richter Scale. In February, there was an earthquake in Chile that touched 8.8; since the Richter Scale is logarithmic, that means it was nearly 100 times as powerful as the Haiti earthquake. The earth wasn’t done yet – it moved again in April in Qinghai, China; in June off the Andamans; and in October off the coast of Sumatra. And these were only the major ones reported! As a result, People magazine and Times Now had to change their definitions of movers and shakers.
2010 also saw major advances in scientific inquiry. Psychics and clairvoyants in Kolkata examined the possibility of grafting on six more arms apiece, but were baffled when informed that an octopus also has a beak. Later, conspiracy theorists had a field day when Paul the Octopus died. The most popular theory was that somebody had asked him to predict Rajinikanth’s death. In related news, Diego Maradona finally stopped throwing players off the team when it was pointed out to him that he had himself been thrown off the team. Elsewhere, scientists declared that they had developed a car that can run on water. As long as the water came from the Gulf of Mexico. On the other hand, some scientists expressed fears that if the oil spill got worse, we would have to start drilling for water. Unless the oil spill was diluted by melting ice caps, because global warming seemed a very real menace in 2010 (though trains tangoed in the fog in January and monkey-caps bloomed all over Calcutta in December). The issue had come to public notice much earlier, when almost-President-of-the-USA Al Gore won an Oscar for “An Inconvenient Truth”, the highest-grossing PowerPoint presentation in history. Unfortunately for him, that did not cause any significant change in US public policy, such as declaring him the President.
The year that saw the rescue of the Chilean miners ended with a different kind of digging out. Julian Assange caused consternation when Wikileaks spilled the dirt on many governments, but allegations of an entirely different kind of leak dumped the dirt on him.
India has had its share of drama in 2010. The most heartening aspect was the spirit of innovation. Such as the provision of snakes in the Commonwealth Village, purportedly to make athletes from wilder climes feel at home (there is no truth in the rumour that the snakes story was really all about Gujarati catering). Or the proposal to solve one of India’s most contentious political issues by commissioning a temple-cum-mosque on the site – under the able stewardship of the CWG Organising Committee. Lalit Bhanot, poor man, caught some flak with his comment about Indian standards of hygiene; so much for speaking the truth. In related news, the External Affairs Ministry learnt of the existence of some countries only when these countries threatened to pull out of the Games.
All in all, 2010 was a rich period of history. We must, of course, limit our scrutiny to those events reported in the mainstream media; as is well known, nothing can really have happened unless so reported. Which may mean that one Ms. Radia does not even exist. Ladies and gentlemen, stay tuned – we aren’t quite done with 2010 yet!