The signal was unmistakable. It could not have been clearer. He SMS’d me the venue of the rendezvous.
He was adamant we meet in the afternoon. A time when the scorching sun keeps even the pseudo-sickular media indoors. I was on my own. I was scared on one hand, excited on the other. Will he carry SLRs? Will he show me INSAS rifles? Will he feed me a(u)nt chutney? Will he make me march through central Bangalore where any transportation is a luxury? (Thanks to the Metro, it is!) The probabilities were overwhelming!
I went fully prepared:
a. I wore green (Color of peace, guys, as in ‘Green Peace’. Also the color of ‘religion of peace‘)
b. Rode a 2 wheeler – my getaway vehicle if something went wrong. A 2 wheeler is invincible in Bangalore, until you are overrun by a truck.
c. I carried my mobile in one pocket, and a wallet in the other.
d. I concealed ‘anti-aircraft’ gun in my ‘vanity bag’, fully prepared to shoot down any drones he has employed to track my movements.
I followed the golden rule of counter espionage – reached the rendezvous point earlier than him and took a strategic position, so that I would have tactical advantage in case of a planned ambush. I expected him to:
a. Wear Saffron
b. Carry sophisticated weaponry, viz – Coconuts (For attack), Vermillion (For blinding the enemy), Trident(For mass murder)
He called me. Why is he calling me, I wondered. Things became clear as soon as I received the call. Howl of an owl, ominous noises in the background. An approaching siren. It was a warning. A warning that I’d have to take the ambulance route if I messed with him.
He appeared from out of nowhere. I was wrong. He wore white shirt & trousers. Ah! The Chameleon. How could I ignore the Hindutvadi in him? It was obvious he would hide his ‘true’ colors. He was trying to blend in with modern society, the rest of us. He even wore glasses to give the impression of ‘intelligentsia’. I was impressed. And scared.
Just as I was about to hide behind a giant parthenium (Also called the ‘Congress’ plant) plant, he spotted me. I had nowhere to hide. The encounter was now inevitable. We shook hands, and I was half expecting him to use his lethal yogic powers to twist my wrist and break my wits. It didn’t happen. Another sign of the chameleon.
He then suggested we enter the restaurant that he had suggested as our rendezvous point. This was it. I was staring at my death, I thought. That restaurant was probably ‘infested’ with Hindutvadis practising Pranayama, who would blow me out of the window, to my death 10 feet down. As soon as we entered, he led me into the A/C section. My doubts were confirmed. This was it. I was walking into my own death trap. He chose the A/C section probably because it was noiseless.
As soon as I stepped into the A/C section, I was speechless. Another con by the Hindutvadi to hide his ‘true colors’. There were over 25 people seated & dining. I’m pretty sure they all belonged to the saffron brigade. I even saw a 10 yr old kid wearing Khaaki Chaddi. And all women wore bindis. The feeling was overwhelmingly nauseating. Here I was, with a hindutvadi, standing in his own bastion, about to snack with him shamelessly. I was also relieved. Not because toilets were available in the restaurant, but because my life was spared that fateful day.
He then made another move – with the ease of a skilled assassin. With the grace of the ‘bride’ from Kill Bill who draws her Katana to behead her enemies, he pulled the menu out of nowhere. This was it, I decided. How could I be so stupid, I wondered. There was no way the Hindutwadis would spare me. I was a pseudo-sickular, after all. The menu was probably hiding a lethal combination of coconut shell, vermillion & a piece of trident. My way to a painful death. For the first time in my life, I prayed. I was born a Hindu, lived a Hindu. With all my faith, I prayed to the One God, the One God who was nailed to the cross, the one God who the Prophet helped his peaceful followers realize for 14 centuries. And I’m a true Hindu. I’d probably be cremated.
To my utter surprise, he summoned the waiter, undoubtedly another Hindutvadi. I had no way of confirming it, but to my defense, they were both wearing white. The Hindutvadi is a fountain of surprises, I thought. He proved me right, by ordering ice-cream for the both of us. Male Chauvinism. When the ice-cream arrived, all my questions were answered. I understood Hindutva, Hindu extremism, Hindu pride & Hindu militancy in one instant. The ice-cream was tricolor – White, Green & Blue. Not only do the Hindutvadis want to change the face of our nation, but also the face of our flag!
He could not hide the chameleon for long – the ugly monster popped his head as he ate the ice cream with ice-cold brutality. He could not stop talking about Hindus – middle class, educated, driving the knowledge sector, biggest tax payers – biggest losers in a secular country.
With great pain & difficulty I finished the ice cream, promised to write an honest & fair account of our rendezvous (to save my a$$, honestly) & hauled ass from the wilderness of Dandakaranya into the safety of my Bangalore home.
PS – Oops, Dandakaranya in the last paragraph should read ‘Bangalore’ and Bangalore should read ‘Bengaluru’.