Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream.
Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal.

When I go from hence
let this be my parting word,
that what I have seen is unsurpassable.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Shoe-ing accurately

Throwing shoes at people has suddenly become a rage. If you don't like what somebody is saying or doing just throw a shoe at him. Just ensure a dozen news channels are there to capture the moment. The benefits of doing so are many. Mr. Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journo who started the trend by throwing his shoe at George Bush became a hero overnight. Iraqis took to the streets in his support. Some parents even offered him their daughters in marriage. Others offered to support him financially during his incarceration and subsequent joblessness. The man who threw a shoe at the Chinese PM was far less successful. But that's only because he chose the wrong man to throw his shoe at. The Chinese have a habit of censoring all embarrassing news from the state controlled media. This seriously impairs any such unconventional bid for grabbing eyeballs. Otherwise, given the number of things the number of people in China are unhappy about, this man would have become an overnight star in China and an even bigger superstar in Tibet. Our own Jarnail Sigh has found his fifteen minutes of fame after throwing his shoe at the home minister. While the minister has himself tried to downplay the incident and "forgiven" him, other political parties are apparently making a mascot out of him. One party has allegedly announced a reward of five lakh rupees and another has offered him a ticket for the coming elections. I am sure others yet will come out with even more novel ways to fete him.

While the world debates on how to react to these new champions of the Shoe, I have only two observations to make. The first observation is that all these people are lousy shots. Not one of them could actually hit his target. That seems like a terrible waste. If your target has presented himself to you on a dais, standing up tall and erect to offer the largest surface area possible, the least you can do is to offer him the courtesy of at least touching his person with your missile. If you cannot do that, you have no business to be in the shoe throwing business. The second observation is a recognition of the age old Indian values of frugality and price consciousness. Where as all others chose to throw expensive branded shoes at their chosen targets with the Iraqi throwing the most expensive shoe, the Indian chose to throw a cheap unbranded shoe at his target. He must have realized it would be a terrible waste of hard earned money to spend more than is absolutely necessary on a shoe he would be wearing for just half a trip for it was always unlikely that the police would be courteous enough the return the offending shoe after the incident.

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