Before I began to attempt this all-encompassing piece on the decade that is slipping past us even as you are reading, I asked myself the very basic question whether all encompassing is all-encompassing or just all encompassing.
Another important aspect when it comes to weighty compilations of this nature is how to include the word ‘definitive’ into the narrative. All things considered, consensus emerged inside me that ‘definitive’ has to definitely feature in the heading especially since many other words with ‘D’s also hang around. Luckily we journalists don’t write history, otherwise you will find plenty of articles like ‘Bipasha Basu in Backless Beachwear’ included just for the sake of rhythm.
And then the challenge was how to do justice in words to the enormity of the 10 years, which is more than 3650 days, which is more than 87600 hours, which is more than 5256000 minutes. And then and there I decided I will not do justice.
What you read below may not make much sense, and that I assure you, is what you will feel if you tried to grasp any meaning from the past decade. This was the decade that began with the Y2K joke, which ten years later continues to haunt the public, as to: What the heck was it?
So we begin with, okay you read it below:
Cell phones: The cute convenient thingies have completely revolutionised the grammar of modern communication system by empowering the poor and weaker sections of the society with compelling technology and innovations they absolutely have no need for or have no clues about. The beauty of modern cellular phones, which are enterprising tools in emergency, is that they come packed with so much facilities and functions that unfailingly don’t work in an emergency. With cell phones now even a humble, nondescript, son of the soil is acquainted with top-end technology terms like ‘no signal’ ‘battery charge nil’.
The arrival of cellular phones has also now made it possible to immediately reach an indigent farmer in a remote village in, say, Thanjavur, with the helpful information that the pizza outlet, which has no presence in the entire district, is making a special festive discount package of buy 2, pay for 4 offer. This is the power of spam messages, which according to precise scientific data called guessing, make up 543% of all mobile phone information traffic.
Laptops: From the enigmas that filled the entirety of a room, computers have gone thin and nifty with laptops that are easy to carry and easier to lose. The power of technology is that laptop thefts are now a bigger industry than laptop manufacturing.
The humble PCs, which took roughly the time that a girl needs to reach puberty to just boot up, and which tied you down to a place, were this decade replaced by the handiness of the power-packed laptop that not only helps you to move around but also clamours for ‘tech support’ in remote locations. For, the first rule of laptop running is that it stops running the moment it realises that help is not nearby. Luckily, help in the form of ‘Tech support’ is forever available in the form of ‘canned music’, which is what you will be forced to hear life-long if you happen to call Tech Support, who programmed to remain ‘busy attending other customers’.
Internet, email, Twitter, Facebook: When this decade arrived the internet was at its infancy, and now when the decade wounds up, the world wide web has grown in ways that were unimagined, but without in any manner affecting its prime purpose: Propagation of porn. The other core competency area of pointless email forwards has now become a multi-billion dollar industry in itself.
Emails, the quintessence of the internet, have helped shorten the distance between people, and it is now very much in the realm of possibility for an ordinary and unpretentious worker in Nigeria to pass on his talent, which is to casually con an over-eager gent in Pondicherry with bogus money transfer deals.
Shashi Tharoor would have been just another Minister with a portfolio and a siren-fitted car that kept him away from the masses and swine flu, but with social media platforms like Twitter, Shashi Tharoor is able to be directly in touch with democracy, defined as chaos and more trouble for himself.
At a plebeian level, too, social media tools provide the emotional space for an individual to unburden to a receptive world his or her inner-most personal ideas or deeply resonant private thoughts like, ‘I am feeling sleepy ’.
I-PODS: If you see the message ‘Unsupported Format’, it’s advisable to upgrade to the higher version of Cranks Corner and continue to enjoy your reading. This is roughly the larger theme of hand-held music players, which enable you to store thousands and thousands megabytes of music but can actually play just one and half song.
(For more details see Digital Music below).
24-Hour News Channels: People like Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt, Arnab Goswami who were just starting out on their careers as TV reporters in the 90s, have now risen to the high stature wherein their mere sight impels the nation to even think of migrating to Mars, despite the fact that it has no air, but because it has no TV channels to beam news 24 hours. This is the power and potential of modern journalism as represented by the motto: Breaking News: Anything that can be scrolled in letters across the TV screen is breaking news.
The last 10 years have also provided the conclusive proof that with more and more eager channels peopled by enthusiastic reporters around, corruption and cheating become that much more easy (Don’t refer to Madhu Koda, A Raja below).
Multiplex: Creative geniuses now need not suffer from the anxiety that their finely-honed offerings will be let down by the inferior facilities at the dingy cinema hall. Thanks to multiplexes they are now sure that howsoever insufferable the movie is, people can still be made to endure it as long as the popcorn is crunchy and tasty, and the parking lot spacious.
Multiplexes are here to stay and have spawned a sub-genre of movies, which deal with the agony and tribulations of an angst-ridden generation that is forever forced to subsist on credit cards and the humble diet of pizza and cappuccino.
Digital Music: See I PODS above.
Digital Camera & Photoshop: The art of photography has been democratized, in that anybody who has the basic talent to see can make it as a talented photographer. With digital cameras and Photoshop applications, quite conceivably your roadside gutter can be shown to be a grand tributary of the gushing Amazon. For instance, I have come up with dramatic pictures of Eiffel Tower at night despite the fact I have never been to Italy (which is where I believe Eiffel tower is) and never owned a camera at night.
IPL: IPL has done to cricket what Silk Smitha did to Tamil cinema: Bring bedroom glamour to mainstream. IPL not only lifted cricket from the dusty, dirt-ridden surroundings of the stadium and transported it to the comfortable and cool settings of banks, but also brought exciting new talents to the game in the form of busty cheer girls wearing dresses that are deliciously deficient. As long as they are showing those impish girly gaily cavorting around, people can be forced to forget that they are amidst the encompassing miasma of Ferozshah Kotla.
Virendera Sehwag: When he is on song in Tests, T-20s seem plodding and dour like a Minister’s speech at a labour conference. Sehwag’s sublime skills of celerity underscore what MCC coaching manuals can achieve if they are unread. Sehwag, more than Ponting or any other player you can think of, has to be the player of the decade, as his name is more pun-worthy for newspaper writers. Say Wag, I say! Try this pun on Ponting, you will look like a dork.
EPL: India has a national football team that is probably rated just above Outer Mongolia because there is no football team in Outer Mongolia and there is no country named Outer Mongolia as well. Still, EPL is a huge success in India. Why? Well, anything else on the telly is agreeable to Barkha Dutt. People will not mind patronising any channel even if it is showing total strangers kicking a ball amongst themselves in distant lands at odd times here!
Tiger Woods: For long, the weird jargon of golf had the humanity puzzled. But all along the noble sport of golf was waiting for the exalted ability of Tiger Woods to unravel its myriad mysteries. Now we know, birdies, putts, hole in ones have to belong to a golfer, especially if he is Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods take a bow. But mind you, you have to still a long way to go before you can catch with the undisputed leader in these matters — N D Tiwari, the unofficial Minister of Union Mining in the Republic of Raj Bhavan.
Manmohan Singh: This humble bureaucrat turned PM has brought a rare dignity to the highest office of the land where even a bureau of rats can aspire to be part of the Union Cabinet. If this is not empowerment, I don’t know what is.(See A Raja, Madhu Koda below).
A B Vajpayee: This mild-mannered genial gent was the silver-tongued orator of the BJP, even though he is still to complete the sentence that he began speaking in 2001. Now you know why the BJP is in such a huge disarray.
Sonia Gandhi: For many she has to be the leader of the decade, devoting herself to relentless rectitude and probity in high office. But since she has not ‘officially’ held any high office, she still has not got the opportunity to observe the rectitude that she has devoted her entire life to. Some of her silly detractors have tried to make a case that she cannot be a member of Lok Sabha. But as far as we know, there is no clause in any Italian laws that prevent her from holding an Indian post.
A Raja, Madhu Koda: Whenever people talked of corruption in the top echelons, many kept silent, mainly because they did not understand the meaning of ‘echelons’. But with the likes of A Raja and Madhu Koda, corruption has got a new dignity as the public are not stirred into pointless furore over pittances below Rs 1000 crores. (For more: See Defamation Laws).
Telengana: Now the entirety of Andhra Pradesh is split in the middle with two sets of people, one who spell Telengana as Telagana and the other who write Telagana as Telengana. The Central government is fully scarred on its posterior as it is sitting on the sharp horns of dilemma as to whether Telengana or Telagana deserves separate identity.
George Bush & Barack Obama: The impact of George Bush is so enormous that they decided to award the Nobel prize to Barack Obama simply because the brilliant minds of Nobel Committee quickly grasped the fact that Obama is a separate individual not answering to the name George Bush. But Obama, in the manner he is going, will soon surely bring a good name to Bush. And who knows, one day George Bush may get the Nobel peace prize or the Oscars for not having been the Obama of his times.
Islamic Terror: Sorry, no fun and levity here. Jokes, in this terrain, are attached to an explosive circuit and can trigger blasts.
Middle East: In the 80s, the entirety of the Middle East was raven with conflicts. But by the 90s, the leaders of this region along with responsible global powers and the UN had the good sense to involve themselves in warm talks. And now when the first decade of the 2000s is about to end, we are in a strategic situation where the continuing talks have ensured that the entire area is not only conflict-ridden but also chaos-filled.
Middle-East has provided the maximum number of headlines for newspapers (across the world) that enable the readers to conveniently skip the underlying news and move on to reports that feature photos of nubile girls.
Don’t be surprised if Uganda and Czech Republic are engaged in talks at Guatemala to ensure peace in the Middle East. One day, they will realise that they have nothing to do with Middle East, and that Middle East itself does not lie in the middle of the east to them.
Pakistan: India’s North-Western neighbour has quickly relapsed into anarchy and the dawn of every second brings with it new possibilities for strife and blasts. In Pakistan everyone is at war with everyone else, and hell has seen nothing like this before. And so, naturally, the intelligent minds in India want to have talks with Pakistan. Pakistan is a Middle-East in the making. So newspapers better get ready for more news reports with accompanying glamour pictures.
Global Warming: This has been the topic of this decade. I would want to say that the threat of Global Warming hangs like a Damocles’ Sword over the planet, but refrain from doing so because I can’t decide on the spelling of ‘Damocels’. Global Warming impacts human lives in many ways, leading to the melting of Polar Caps and other words spelt in Upper Caps.
Considering the calamitous nature of the threat that Earth is faced with, the world leaders, in a rare of show unanimity, met in Copenhagen recently and laid out what collective will can eventually achieve: Total absurdity. At Copenhagen, they debated on whether they agreed on what they thought they agreed on at Kyoto, a similar gathering held several years ago. If my reading is correct, I think they all have come to the conclusion that Kyoto is somewhere in Asia, which could be in, well I don’t know.
Surely, in the fullness of time, the talks will gain momentum and progress, and eventually lead to a quick solution to all the perils that face this world, by pleading with Barkha Dutt to quit her job as a TV anchor. But that could well be in 2100.
For the now, well a Happy New year to you all. And may 2100 come soon. I’m waiting for salvation through resurrection — of YK bug, that is.