By Sanjay Jha
( Miss Quote arrived from New York Times to interview Anna Hazare at his village Ralegan Siddhi.. A visibly disturbed character with a conspicuous black shining moustache varnished with Vaseline hung around Anna , providing a protective fencing. This is what transpired during an eventful, er rather dramatic afternoon ).
Miss Quote : Thank you for this exclusive, Mr Anna Hazard !
Black Mustache ( fuming and fretting) : You don’t pronounce it like “ Anna” in Anna Kournikova. It is UN-Nah! Like United Nations—NO! And his surname is Hazard but ending with an e.
Miss Quote looked nonplussed. Dazed. Exhausted. Perhaps sleep-deficit. She suddenly passed out.
After some Aquafina was sprinkled gently on her face, she got up with remarkable speed.
Anna Hazare: That was fast! Don’t vote for the Congress!
Miss Quote ( slowly recovering ) : In fact, I was going to ask you about that, er, um, er, um, fast. Your famous fast! Can I call you Mr AH, please ? Its easier for me than AN-NA or whatever! P-L-E-A-S-E!
Anna Hazare: But A and H must be separate. Not as Ah! — just the opposite of ouch! Ok?
Anna looked at the Black Mustache, as if making a plaintive request. Black Mustache reluctantly agreed, but his tempestuous state was perceptible. He seemed indignant, and sweared silently under his breath. He had six mobile phones in various locations on his torso, but then as if by divine intervention they all rang simultaneously.
Black Mustache ( gesturing all to be in pin-drop silence) : Ok, I will do one- on- ones with all of you simultaneously tomorrow at 1 pm, so that you have enough time to prepare teasers, trailers, promos, brand tie-ups, scrollers and breaking news, of course. And technically, it is an exclusive as I will look deep and long into your cameras for 22 seconds and pretend to nod my head at 13 rpm.
Miss Quote noticed that Black Mustache returned with a big broad smile revealing a perfectly white-washed teeth . His earlier tortured countenance was replaced by a serene smile. She even thought he might give her one of his celebrated exclusives. Those interviews had more than a ripple effect.
Miss Quote: How do you manage to fast for so long, Mr AH ?
Miss Quote gingerly unpacked her McDonald’s triple- decker cheeseburger packed from JFK , a 1 litre coke can , double French fries and Oreo-Choco-shake. She looked at Hazare as if he was an object of scientific curiosity.
Anna Hazare: Well, before I answer any of your questions, please don’t vote for the Congress!
Miss Quote: Mr Anna?
Black Mustache ( irritated) : Un-Nah! And as Anna said, don’t vote for the Congress.
Miss Quote: In my country, we never vote for the Congress, rest assured.
Both Anna and Black Mustache grinned from one ear to the far-end of the other.
Miss Quote: Mr Un-Nah , political analysts say your movement is like our Tea Party?
Anna Hazare: No tea-party, Madam ! Only buttermilk , and that too, only after dinner. Gives good digestion.
Miss Quote : Sure thingie! Are there differences between your two lieutenants, Mr Kejriwal and Mr Bhushan?? The drift is that there is a rift.
Anna Hazare: Its called deference, madam, not difference.
Black Mustache and Prashant Bhushan ( who appeared from under some books) together: Read our lips. We have no differences other than 23 clauses of the Lok Pal bill, media handling, strategy, Anna’s calorie consumption and NGO inclusion in the bill. We are left and right, so on average we are at one center point. And by the way, we are not lieutenants, we are generals. We always march ahead, left, right, left, right left…….
Miss Quote: What about Sibal and Chidambaram? Are they stumbling blocks?
Anna Hazare: Chiddu is too arrogant. Thinks he is lecturing at Advanced Management Program of Harvard . And Sibal, he is a zero-loss proposition as far as we are concerned. Also I don’t like that he smiles as if he knows everything that I am thinking. Like a mind-reader.
But lawyers do say the truth sometimes, butted in Prashant Bhushan.
Black Mustache gave him a dirty look. Bhushan went back to reading How to Buy Government Land at Least Prices.
Miss Quote: How did you know Mr Kejriwal??
Anna Hazare: See, Arvind did not make it to the IAS. So he chose to start IAC. So I supported him.
Miss Quote ( not entirely convinced): Ummmm, sounds logical.
Miss Quote surreptitiously noticed from the corner of her eye that five bespectacled people were hanging precariously from different branches of a big tree , each with a camera in one hand and a note pad in the other.
Miss Quote ( pointing to the shaking branches) : What’s going on? Who are they?
Anna Hazare: They are news reporters looking for new angles to give our clichéd story a different slant. They are hackneyed , pun intended. Ha! Ha!
Even as he laughed one of the reporters slipped from one branch but was saved by a rival TV channel in the branch below.
Anna Hazare: We even make the media into one big family.
At this point, the rival media reporter casually dropped the falling reporter flat onto the ground below. No injury was reported.
Anna Hazare : Good intentions , but yet a perfect klutz. .
Suddenly there was a flutter and a young man looking like Shah Rukh Khan in Devdas was brought to the central courtyard by two sturdy young men.
Anna Hazare: Go ahead with the SOP.
Miss Quote : What’s happening?
Anna Hazare: He is a drunkard. His flesh was willing, but unfortunately so was the spirit.
Miss Quote : So? Is there a prohibition against having a good time?
Anna Hazare: He will get six whiplashes and then he will be hung upside down from Parliament.
Miss Coat: Parliament?
Anna Hazare: That “ peepal ” tree that you see there is called Parliament. Only Team Anna is above it .
Miss Quote ( looking impressed) : People tree called Parliament. So symbolic, so appropriate. That’s a master-stroke.
Miss Quote : And what about your RSS connections as alleged by Digvijay Singh? They apparently fed everyone at the Ram Lila grounds.
Black Mustache: Come on, even you get RSS feeds , doesn’t everyone get them? Just check your laptop, on any browser. RSS feeds all. Also us.
Miss Quote: So will the anti-corruption bill be passed by Jan ?
Anna Hazare: Who is Jan?
Black Mustache: Jan? No way !
Miss Coat: Isn’t it Jan Look Pal??
Black Mustache again seemed to be boiling over.
Black Mustache ( angrily) : Vote against the Congress.
Miss Quote: Who has the best chance of being Lok Pal according to you, Sir??
Anna Hazare ( ponders deeply) : Salman Khan it seems is doing some serious yoga, meditation and kick boxing in Ireland for that position. After Dabbang and Bodyguard, the people of India see him as a paragon of virtue. A personification of honesty. A platform of—-
Enough, said Black Mustache looking miffed.
Anna Hazare ( ignoring Black Mustache for a change) : Shah Rukh Khan this Diwali says he is protector against evil. It is inspirational, reformative. He also has a chance. But what goes against him is that he is calling himself Ravan.
Black Mustache ( muttering angrily) : Vote against the Congress! Wipe them out! Make them naked ! I will make Congress do a Poonam Pandey.
Anna Hazare to Black Mustache: Control yourself ! Control! Every time you want to do a Poonam Pandey to Congress, you lose control of your…… faculties.
Miss Quote : So Mr Anna, this is your Arab Spring!
Anna Hazare ( shaking his head in disbelief): No no, not at all, madam! You are in India, madam. This is an Indian autumn.
Miss Quote : What about LK Advani doing a rath yatra against corruption?
Black Mustache: Advani Ji is against black money. That is not corruption. It is a different agenda.
Anna Hazare: Miss Quote , you are naïve. Advani is actually just doing a promotion of Toyota’s Diwali offer for their new “green” SUV. It’s a secular campaign.
Miss Quote : Any one you trust in Congress? At least one person?
Anna Hazare ( smiles): Vilas Rao.
Miss Quote: Who is this Villas Row? A builder?
Anna Hazare : Well, almost. But let’s talk about it later.
OB vans could be now seen blocking the highway till three miles before the village boundaries began.
Miss Quote: Aren’t you all stubborn?
Black Mustache: The Congress needs to know; our way or the subway on the highway. No compromises. We don’t want to ever caught in a compromising position.
Suddenly a bald-headed spiritual looking character entered the room, effusive and confident, humming Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin. It was actor Anupam Kher.
Miss Quote ( wondering) : Who are you?
Kher: Me? You don’t know? You don’t know me???
Kher started to laugh like a maniac under a spell . Then he slowly lifted his shirt, and on his ballooning paunch was tattooed I AM ANNA.
Kher ( as if in a trance) : I AM ANNA. ANNA IS ME. ANNA IS INDIA! INDIA IS…….
Miss Quote Coat ( bewildered, stunned, shocked looking at Anna Hazare ): Then who are you?