TODAY -

Tax for a toss

By Debanish Achom *



I had a problem with my papers, so I went to the tax man's office in the Garden City. I brought along loose change too, just in case.

Heck, they demand it anywhere. I reached the reception, and saw the woman was napping. So I decided to sit for a while and let this amusing creature enjoy her after-lunch habit.

I scanned my tax papers, and then picked up the largest selling newspaper in the whole, wide world to kill time. Well, there was this story about the kinds of clothes and watches our netas wear. Read this and weep: "Though he prefers white, he has a multi-hued wardrobe.

And his accessories could put a CEO in the shade -- Woodland sports shoes that were quite noticeable on his election posters, and flashy watches of foreign make. Harris, who also prefers Titan, which recently brought out it slimmest edition, admits he is 'slightly crazy' about watches."

I looked up to see whether the lady has woken up. She was still about 20 minutes far from opening her eyes. I took the paper again and read further.

Weep, citizens, weep: "Like other netas on the go, he prefers Nokia handsets. Harris the hotelier has a Benz, but is more often seen in his Hyundai Tuscan, which he feels looks different from other SUVs and is suited for long journeys."

Well, the lady woke up. The moment she saw me, she said in this robotic voice: "We're closed today. Come tomorrow at 9."

Without protest, I walked out; I was not in the mood. I didn't want to take credit for putting another government employee behind bars in the nearest police rat hole. Anyway, I stole that paper to read on the bus.

This is the line that would have turned me into a communist, forced me to pack my bags and head straight to Singur.

Read and weep: "He changes his mobile phone often, and his cars once every two years, and boasts of an Innova, Ford Fusion and others, and collects pens like Mont Blanc and Cartier, but doesn't use them in crowds."

Well, what can I say? Only that a feel-good story is like a nice tie on a good office day. Feel too good, and the tie turns into a noose.

Allow me to retort. Who are these netas on the go? Aren't we, good old pensioners and young clubbers, on the go? I have seen a lot of people in ragged clothes on the go.

Many of them are roadside gol-gappa sellers who set out from home early mornings on rickety buses without knowing the brakes might fail to work any time, and I have seen cool youngsters with i-Phones on the go, myself being one.

It's one thing to win elections; it's another to talk so blatantly about one's watches and underwear -- and to write such a story in a paper that boasts of the largest circulation on planet Earth, it takes shamelessness so perfect that even a whore will admit defeat.

May hell bless the reporter. May the deepest pit there bless the old, wine-sipping man who allowed such a story to go in print. May the deepest of the deepest hole bless the business-wala who thought this story will perk up readers on a perfectly normal Tuesday.

Coming back, I want to ask how these people got all the things that say they hold on to so dearly. I found the answer in the smelly reception of the tax house I went.

It was not the fault of that snoring aunty. She was supposed to do that, otherwise she would be an outcast in the whole building.

You know, it's kind of strange.

You can't exactly point a stick at these "on the go" netas, but you somehow have this idea that the money -- yes, in hard, touchable Rs 1,000 notes -- that go into repairing roads and curing dogs in your colony, actually turn into these watches, Benzes and Mont Blancs, which these people so casually narrated to some whores who knew how to write.




* Debanish Achom, a Bangalore based Journalist working with a big news media company, writes regularly to e-pao.net . The writer can be contacted at debanish9a(at)gmail(dot)com . This article was webcasted on November 04th, 2008

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