Janchetna diaries

It was quite a weekend last week. First the surfeit of “ones”. That is Ra.One, G-one and Formula One. Then there’s that small matter of Diwali. The festival that started off as a Festival of Lights (keep in mind after one week of ladoos, pedas and jalebis, nobody is really feeling light), has now become about an annual holiday that
many families take during this week.
However, in all this activity and festivity one great event was forgotten, or was given a step-motherly treatment. By now I’m sure you’ve guessed what I’m going to talk about, that’s right, the JCY (Janchetna Yatra).
The rath yatra, the second coming, also known as The Return of LK.
This is a road event with more history and greater magnitude than Formula One can ever hope to have. But first the meaning of Janchetna Yatra. “Jan” means people, “chetna” is a college in Mumbai and as for yatra, well yatra is… well I will have to get back to you on that one.
My classmate Harsh Shrivastava happens to be on that historic bus, and he’s maintaining a diary on this grand journey. Harsh is a huge supporter of the BJP and apparently has a very important function during this particular yatra. He has to clean the back of the bus on a daily basis. Since the diary is very long and Harsh’s handwriting is completely illegible, I’m going to focus on just one day of the journey. Let’s say Day 4. Okay, I can’t find four. So let’s say Day 7. Okay, can’t decipher seven, let’s do Day 10. Over to Harsh, with a few niceties and corrections.
7.30 am: I wake up to the sound of nuts and bolts. Only to be reassured it’s just the teeth clattering amongst the elder statesmen, 81 years and above. And by elder we mean gents, 81 years and above, which is roughly 67 per cent of our passengers.
8.15: I look out of my window and am overwhelmed by the number of locals who gathered around our bus.
8.25: I am dismayed at the locals’ decision to pelt our bus with tomatoes and potatoes. Apparently they are upset because we didn’t buy their wares. But most of them were selling hair products and most of our passengers don’t have any hair. I don’t see the point.
8.30: I bump into a cupboard.
8.31: The cupboard turns out to be M. Venkaiah Naidu. He asks me to join him for his pilates class. But I’m not comfortable taking instructions in pilates from a man who pronounces pilates as just one syllable.
8.55: Breakfast is served. It’s being served on the upper deck today and there is a strong rationale as to why it’s been shifted there. It seems that many of our passengers are overeating. Going up a flight of stairs in search of food should provide a challenge for at least 30 per cent of them. It’s a long yatra and we can’t afford to run out of food. Fuel maybe, but not food.
10.17: Advaniji asks the bus driver to drive slowly. The bus driver is stunned. Partly because Advaniji spoke to him directly for the first time and partly because the bus is stationary and has been for the past 45 minutes.
11.40: Fisticuffs ensue at Dehradun toll naka. Advaniji refuses to pay the full toll, asking for a senior citizen discount. The toll operator gets irate and asks him whether he thinks he is the Prime Minister… this is a very touchy subject for Advaniji and things turn volatile.
12.00 noon: Nitin Gadkariji brings peace to the proceedings with one word: Lunch.
12.10: Lunch is served. The toll operator joins us for the lunch although he is served one less chapati than all the other guests.
13.15: The bus stops and senior leaders check into the Doon Gymkhana for a round of golf, some shut-eye and tea and scones.
17.30: The senior leaders return to the bus. The toll operator also returns but is unceremoniously kicked out.
18.00: Advaniji calls up the petroleum minister for a tip-off. He is told petrol will not get dearer tomorrow. The busman tries to interrupt with “ask him about diesel” but is rebuked by a junior office bearer! (Bear in mind junior means between 66-75 years of age.)
19.30: It’s movie time. Advaniji screens Himesh Reshammiya’s Damadamm for all to enjoy.
22.30: Lights out. Although a lot of people jumped out of the moving bus during the film, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Looking forward to tomorrow.

Okay folks, while you and I were having a happy Diwali, feasting and bursting crackers, some people were working tirelessly. After all, somebody has to run the country, right? Happy Janchetna Yatra to all.

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