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Two (positive) bathroom stories

This Saturday, I will be dealing with two unrelated incidents — both connected by a bathroom — that are nothing but positive and life-affirming, but have been given an entirely negative spin by the cynical press and an increasingly intolerant social media.

The first incident pertains to Janata Dal (United) leader and Bihar MLA, Gopal Mandal. It was reported that he was spotted ‘roaming around in his undergarments’ while travelling in the AC first-class compartment of the Tejas Rajdhani Express, following which co-passengers objected to the leader’s ‘behaviour’. (Mandal’s defence that he needed to use the bathroom urgently because of which he removed his kurta-pyjama fell on deaf ears.)

What’s so terrible with what he’s done that’s, pardon the choice of idiom, getting everyone’s komanams in a twist? What’s he done that Milind Soman hasn’t been doing on a weekly basis? Why is it okay for Soman to run around in picturesque locations, most likely singing ‘Made in India, Made in India’, and post his rearguard action on social media to a standing ovation from an appreciative public while Mandal, attired in respectable vest and drawers with nada, is accused of being vulgar, out of control and creating a ruckus?

What about the topless uncles we are subjected to from time to time? Appearing at weddings and other family dos, baring their Dunlop daddaries with impunity to the unsuspecting public? Are any of these men warning passers-by or guests that they are going to be treated to a Mylaporean version of an all-male Moulin Rouge? No, sir. How come that’s okay but Gopal Mandal is a vulgar, bad man.

Stop being so hypocritical. If Milind, mamas, and certain melas can do it with not a care in the world, so can a Mandal.

The next incident I want to talk of features one Mr Murli Kamat of Andheri, who occupied two hotel rooms for a period of eight months and ‘fled’ without paying the ₹25 lakh-bill he’d racked up. Via the bathroom window.

What a bad man! How could he? This is how the incident is being reported in all the papers. And social media has been unnecessarily cruel, too, in my opinion.

Why is this being twisted into something evil and cunning when all I can see is the good?

By not paying ₹25 lakh, Kamat saved about ₹5,200 per day, good money that can be put to so many better uses like building infrastructure, setting up a pakora stall, etc. This is a lesson in financial planning. Had Kamat stayed in a 5-star hotel, he’d have saved 10k per day.

Please note that Kamat used the bathroom window to exit. What does that prove? That he is slim and agile. Which can only mean one thing. He is a yoga practitioner.

That the gentleman gave eight months of non-stop business to the ailing hospitality sector during the lockdown cannot be ignored. He boosted the morale of the waiters, housekeeping staff, etc, by being a constant reassuring presence in their lives.

What is most important, however, is how he left. Quietly, humbly, in the middle of the night. He didn’t ask for a farewell party, return gifts or for the room to be named ‘The Murli Kamat Suite’. Such modesty can only come with yoga and following our ancient culture.

Murli Kamat is a true patriot.

I nominate him for the Mehul Choksi Engirundaalum Vaazhga Award for 2021. And Gopal Mandal for a cover feature in GQ on body positivity.

Krishna Shastri Devulapalli is a satirist. He has written four books and edited an anthology.


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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 6:30:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/two-positive-bathroom-stories/article36787567.ece

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