The presence of veteran farmers' leader Kadidal Shamanna can infuse a sense of fun and unpredictability to even the most mundane of events. Book launches can be the most banal of affairs, but the release of Shamanna's biography,Kadu Thoreya Jaduon Tuesday, came alive thanks to ever so many hilarious anecdotes narrated by everyone on stage about the maverick leader of the farmers' movement who hails from Shimoga. Even renowned historian S. Settar, known for his scholarly talks, decided to break from tradition and regaled the audience with tales from Shamanna's youth.

The most original of anecdotes was the one narrated by Shamanna himself. The business of having to stand in a line holding the book for a photo op, he said, is the worst part of being a guest at a book launch. “It instantly reminds me of how the police make petty thieves hold slates with their names written on them to take a picture!” he laughed.

He then went on to narrate how he had broken this “tradition of police and thieves” at a launch in Shimoga earlier. “When everyone stood with the books against their chests, I just insisted on holding it up, resting it on my shoulder.” U.R. Ananthamurthy, who was another guest at the function, kept gesturing to him to hold it like everyone else, but Shamanna stuck to his own original style. “I would rather carry the weight of our literary tradition on my shoulder than on my chest!” he said.

Who can match Shamanna's spontaneous wit?

What a pain!

The road blockades arising out of Congress party's synchronised demonstrations across 10 locations in the city on Tuesday saw many enthusiastic protestors virtually stamping their writ on the busy traffic junctions.

One such spot overwhelmed so was the Goreguntepalya junction on Tumkur Road. A motorist, whose car was caught in the traffic pileup here, received a call informing him that his wife was in labour.

The hapless motorist's pleas to allow his car through fell on deaf ears as protestors were unwilling to buy his argument after their examination of his vehicle found no other occupants in it.

The protestors were in no mood to listen to the desperate man's explanation that his wife was in labour at their home in Yeshwanthpur and he had to rush back to get her to hospital in time.

The hyperventilating father-to-be, with the help of a sympathetic cop, had no option but to begin requesting the vehicles lined up behind his car. By the time his efforts succeeded, the protest was over.

Of publicity and luck

Most politicians don't miss the chance to indulge in gimmicks to secure publicity. But, Union Minister for Labour and Employment M. Mallikarjun Kharge appears to not belong to this ilk.

He regrets the poor publicity given to the recent amendments to various laws by his ministry for the welfare of the teeming millions belonging to the labour class.

Inaugurating the southern zonal office of the Directorate-General of Mines Safety here recently, Mr. Kharge shared his disappointment over the lack of publicity to such programmes but then quickly dismissed it by blaming his fate. “One needs luck to get publicity,” he said.

Clearly, the veteran Congressman, who is a chip off the old block, does not believe in stunts unlike the savvier younger generation.