THE ‘OTHER’ ELECTION

It’s that time of the year again. Well that time, this month, every five years that is. The greatest democracy in the world is taking a stand. Coconuts are being cracked, garlands are being sewn, veins are being popped. You guessed it. It’s election time at the Knick Knack Paddy Whack Club of Delhi South East, District 1232.

Why, you ask, has the media ignored a story of such obvious concern? Well, apparently, they were “occupied”. And that the lead wasn’t “hot” enough. Not enough “zing”, said an editor. Hah. Well luckily, some of us still believe in the power of journalistic integrity. And so, in the true spirit of national interest and to try and fill the gaping void post the end of West Wing on television, I bring you this special report, free for publishing, straight from the battlegrounds. Suck it Dr. Roy.

Many of you might not be familiar with the Knick Knack Paddy Whack Club of Delhi South East, District 1232. And why would you be? It’s not a club for everyone. Some have, in the past, even termed it a tad elitist. A clique of the old convent boys, the Gordon Gekkos, from Stephen’s and Xavier’s who sit around in their Sunday patios, sipping stiff whiskey sours and fine French wine. But this is all conjecture of course. Not much has been written about the Club, owing to it’s strict ‘members only’ policy. Some have traced its origins back to the time of Tharoor and Jaitely. Some say it’s the birthplace of the modern Lutyen intellectual. Some say it’s just a place for burnt out boomers who have nothing better to do and who don’t particularly fancy their wives. None of which can be confirmed of course.

But all this about to change now. For the first time, the Club has opened its doors to the outside world for review. Why now? And why this reporter? Well to begin with, my uncle is the new Honorary Secretary of the Club. Which, if you have ever been to Delhi, means I can do whatever the hell I want to do. But more importantly of course, the Club finds itself in a sticky impasse. A three-way battle of succession is dominating its usually peaceful election process, and well, surprise surprise, the media has been summoned. We are to cover the story, bring it to the members, help them make an informed decision. It’s called journalism Dr. Roy.

Anything specific you’d like me to cover Uncle?

Just the usual election stuff. Infrastructure. Development. Religion.

A homing pigeon crept up on the windowsill nearby. Then..

We should’ve skipped the Dandiya last year. I knew the dhoklas were too much.

The pigeon cooed as if to concur.

Meet with Venu first. I’ve told him you’ll be dropping by.

Venu was Mr. R. Venugopal, immediate Past President, Ex. Honorary Secretary and now leader of the opposition. I met him at his campaign headquarters; otherwise known as the second guest bedroom, at his sprawling bungalow in D block Greater Kailash.

Mr. Venugopal sir, you’ve been the President before. Why do you wish to stand again? Isn’t it time to give the others a chance?

My question seemed to offend him. The orange squash never came.

Son, I’ve been a member for 17 years, but let me tell you, it’s never been this bad. Who knows what the Knick Knack stands for anymore? We have no direction. No leadership. No values. Is it Table Tennis? Is it Carromboard? And what is this Foosball nonsense? Fooozball? Phhoozball? Where do we draw the line? And why must we change the biscuit policy huh? What’s so wrong with Monaco? Are we too big for Monaco? Are we too good for Monaco? Is Monaco not cookie enough? Let’s give a dog a bone! That Suresh, he’s rooollling home!

Mr. Suresh Karri was the incumbent President of the Club and the strongest contender in this race. On most days, his win would have been comfortable, but the incident last month at the annual dinner had stripped his support base considerably. Sources say it all began with Mrs. Gupta’s famous spring rolls, which for some reason got mixed up with Mrs. Ahluwalia’s kathi rolls. Cutting a long story short, Mr. Sharma, the now Treasurer, ended with minced chicken in his mouth, and proceeded to dispense its fowl contents on his immediate neighbor, Mr. Raman, a pure Brahmin, who also happened to be the brother-in-law of Mr. Madapu, Mr. Suresh’s biggest supporter and the leader of the sponsor committee. Mr. Venugopal, seated on the adjoining table, meanwhile spared no time in raising the question of a no-confidence vote. The motion was swiftly passed and fresh elections were declared the week after.

When I met Mr. Suresh, he seemed a man distraught. Even the warm rays infiltrating his garden gazebo in Safdarjung Enclave didn’t seem to service. Posters of ‘Fingerlickin’ Karri’ were now peeling off the fine glass walls.

There was nothing I could do, he explained. The kitchen committee was headed by Mr. Venugopal himself, and I’m quite sure he had this all planned out. But anyway, I’m not here to point fingers. My agenda is simple. Curb. All. Attrition. We lost too good men to our competitors. ‘Unwanted Dads’. ‘What do I do with my Sunday blues?’. Even ‘canifartinpeace.org’. It’s very disheartening to see the old blood leave us on a whim. We need to woo them back and by God, I’ll be the one to do that.

We will be the ones to do that, corrected Mr. S. Raghuram, Mr. Suresh’s campaign manager, incumbent Vice President, Secretary Next Generation and the President nominee for the following term, if Mr. Suresh was to win this term. We’ve been working hard on a clear plan of making the Club more appealing to our younger members. My proposals for casual jeans on every second Sunday and a two-day stubble leniency are almost through. Yesterday, we even discussed the idea of doing away with tie clips entirely.

Mr. Suresh coughed as if to signal that they were still on record. At, the end of the day, his No.2 continued, it’s all about the numbers. I’ll get in the young, Suresh will get in the old, but it’s the special members who will decide this vote.

The special members were a crack team of five veterans, who had all been unsuccessful in gaining any significant post in the Club, but had been granted ‘special’ status on account of their continued monetary patronage. They were popularly known as the ‘fringe’ members, a due reference to their critical duties. Managing Director in-charge of Film Screenings, Cultural Director of the Annual Dance, Ambassador for Cold Beverages, Hot Tea and Cakes Commissioner, and the Inspector of International affairs. The last post had been vacant for much of the year, adding to the numerical dilemma. As per records, Mr. Chandra, the last man to hold the post, had been unsuccessful in arranging a Skype call for the President, who had wished to chat with his daughter studying in Washington. The connection had broken midway, and Mr. Chandra had been unceremoniously fired.

With a tight race ahead, these new kingmakers were now demanding their due. One Mr. Sawhney, the reigning Ambassador for Cold Beverages, had even staked his claim as the new Sergeant At Arms, the head of discipline committee. The post had been long held by the Mr. K. Sahne, a retired chemistry professor, who had been using this post as a fitting reply to the senior members, many of who happened to bully him during his school days. In particular was the case of Mr. Kapoor, the Under Secretary to the General Secretary, who had been allowed to enter only two of the last twelve meetings. Mr. Sahne had lost many a batata patty to Mr. Kapoor in his teenage years, and had decided to serve him the potato solid.

In all, it seemed that the Club’s electoral problems ran fairly deep. Politics was at it’s highest, tantrums were reigning supreme, the wives had been involved. The battle seemed almost symbolic of the current state of the Club – an institution stuck between the old and the new, with the previous guard refusing to let go, and the next generation unable to take it forward. A dynamic further pickled by the rise of a few fringe players, who insisted on treading the dotted line. Who will finally win is anyone’s guess, but one thing is sure, in this political battle, the Club is almost certainly at a loss.

With three boiled eggs and half a cucumber sandwich, this is Yudhishthir Agrawal, for shortsillystories.

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