A Ton and a Quarter

By: Mahesh Verma

A ton and a quarter…yes, this is the 125th column by yours faithfully, published over the past 275 weeks or so even as one now completes 1,550 weeks in this gorgeous Paradise called Oman.

For the mathematically challenged, its 125 columns written over the last 5 years, even as I complete my 30th year in Oman in May 2015!

Apologies and all that, but had to share this bit of what I consider to be a feat of sorts (the number of columns and not the number of years!) and though some of you out there may possibly think that this is being narcissistic, then you are probably right but so be it.

Although it’s not really in the same league as the pin stripes of the Indian PM’s suit, it just may rankle some people’s sensitivities. Tough luck guys…my feat, my horn which I am tooting on TT!

The pin stripes embroidered on the Indian PM’s suit (which he wore at the lunch he hosted for President Obama last week), was eventually deciphered to be his name only after some person, with a lot of time on his or her hand, zoomed in on the myriad photographs (wonder why?) and screamed “Eureka” or perhaps Mil gaya, mil gaya (vernacular for Eureka!) and voila…the golden stripes on the navy blue jacket thereafter became the most talked about piece of clothing and from sartorial delight it became narcissistic decadence!

From the sublime to the ridiculous, from a fashion icon, Modi suddenly became a fashion ogre! As someone rightly commented, the same people who are screaming in the social media platforms about narcissism, have no qualms about blatantly and proudly displaying other people’s names or initials on their own clothes (YSL, Giorgio Armani, Pierre Cardin, CK, CD) or the horses of Ralph Lauren’s Polo or in USPA, the Medusa head in a Versace creation or the distinctive flag emblem in a Hilfiger apparel, but all hell breaks loose if the Indian PM dares to have his name “Narendra Damodardas Modi” subtly woven as a pinstripe in his suit. That is enough to start a social media outrage where he is described as narcissist “for choosing to wear his name all over his jacket”.

For such fashion vigilantes or maybe just vigilantes sans fashion, Ayn Rand had written in Atlas Shrugged: “Such is the secret code of your creed, the other half of your double standard: it is immoral to live by your own effort, but moral to live by the effort of others – it is immoral to consume your own product, but moral to consume the product of others” and an extrapolation of this becomes “it is immoral to wear your monogrammed clothes but moral to wear the names of others,” and that is the double standard by which these vigilantes are living by. Give Modi a break guys…and if you can’t, then learn to live with it! But like it or not, the monogrammed French-cuffed shirts and pocket squares, the golf-shirts and caps, the socks and very soon also the shoes, will continue to be emblazoned with the initials of the sartorially elegant, and the others can continue to vent their frustration on their social media pages or wherever and can also go and fly a kite, but sorry ole chaps, it will not make a bloody difference!

While the brouhaha continued across the ether world (one wonders what’s in a name anyway), an uncommon man who gave us the common man, bid adieu to the world on the day the leaders of two of the largest democracies were reviewing their ties and witnessing the socialites’ right to bare arms while the armed forces were displaying their right to bear arms.

R K Laxman was a cartoonist par excellence and had delighted the world in general and the Times of India readers in particular, with his acerbic wit and his common man’s assessment of the prevalent political conditions in India and the world. He was a young 94 and had lived life king size like the king he was…may you rest in eternal peace Mr Laxman! And tomorrow, a gentle and a very kind lady would have turned 94 had she not left us 34 years ago at the age of 60…miss you Ma!

And before I sign off, a few random thoughts:

-Do you know that for a painter using the Japanese rice wine, it’s just sake for art’s sake?

-Do you know that although the early bird gets the worm, it’s the early worm that gets caught?

-Do you know that after his neck brace was fitted a few years ago, he has never looked back?

And since Mr Obama veni and vicied (came and conquered) but did not vidi the Taj, as he had to rush off to Riyadh to offer his condolences, someone needs to ensure that Agra does not suffer from withdrawal symptoms and hence I am off and will veni, vidi and vici it tonight and will say ‘What ho, what ho’ in an attempt to cheer up good ole Mumtaz!