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Wonder Women or “The Vanities”?

By Dilip Cherian | Last Updated: Saturday, April 2, 2011 - 15:13
Dilip Cherian

The recent visits to New Delhi of Sarah Palin and Melinda Gates were remarkable treats to those interested in watching women of power. Sarah Palin, a woman who had been for a moment already on the crest of greatness, and Melinda Gates, an emblematic figure of money power in philanthropic practice.

While they held all those who they spoke to in the thrall that power seduces with, there is no doubt that the women also left behind an image of being strangely dependent on the crutches of technology. Both seemed to be slaves of their all-knowing teleprompters and proved reluctant to veer even an itsy-bitsy bit off the carefully manicured scripts that their handlers had prepared for them. It was a treat to watch this dependency at play.

When Sarah Palin was questioned, briefly and taken off the trodden part by Aroon Purie at the India Today Conclave, her handlers front stage threatened to walk out since they were deviations from the pre-agreed questioning script. While the audience may not have noticed, those in the know sniggered! Belinda Gates’ plight was not too far off this low set by Palin.

Besides a few, entirely forgivable geographic gaffes, Geekdom’s first spouse’s views even on matters social, were also sadly predictable. The question that audiences who watched either of these performances asked themselves was: Were these the real Women of Substance that we were hearing? A rather sobering moment for those awaiting the women’s reservation bill in Parliament, what say?

<b>Madness at Mohali</b>

Nothing exceeded the excited Delhiites attempt to reach Mohali for the semi-finals of the World Cup. Correction, some things did exceed it. Those at the top of Delhi’s pecking order were not satisfied with merely getting to the match or even watching it. The main excitement was deciding how to get there, what landing sequence they were in, and who they were flying with. Of course, those willing to nitpick further were also, in the manner of boys and their toys, comparing the size of aircraft they were flying in. Obviously “aircraft envy”, is a priapic version of “car envy”, which itself is a variant for a less palatable phallic symbolism.

In any case, while getting there and getting out dominated the top 500’s agenda, others less endowed (monetarily!) had to be satisfied with the equally dubious comparison of where they were going to stay. This too had its moments of high drama with brownie points being scored by those who were able to cadge an invitation to stay at a local Chief Minister’s residence, or heaven forbid even with the Governor.

Clearly the game itself was always secondary. The pathetic losers were the only ones obsessing about a small matter of the ticket which sorted out, whose box you were next to and who was seated with you or how much you could actually see. As the media frenzy mounted, one thing was clear that the newly emergent and rather ridiculous flaunt-it-while-you-have-it mentality of the mega rich new Indian was finding its finest hour on a cricket field in the wilds of modern India. Perhaps in the minds of those who indulged in this mode of “fore-play” there was tucked away the belief that the Indo-Pak battles (like Waterloo) would be won by grand-standing on the playing fields of Mohali (a la Eton).

First Published: Saturday, April 2, 2011 - 15:13

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