Good ole Mr. T. It seems he’s both alive and dead at the same time. So while his son Uddhav asks people to pray for his father’s recovery, taxi drivers are refusing to come to Bandra (Matoshree is in Bandra East) and the president of India, who was supposed to be in Mumbai today, has cancelled his trip. (Why? Probably because he doesn’t want to be in the position where etiquette demands he show up for the funeral while politics demands he stay the hell away.) Apparently, all the Mumbai policemen who had taken leave for these few days have been told to come right back and report for duty. There’s very little public transport. The area where Thackeray lives is an unfetching shade of khaki thanks to the number of policemen stationed there. A few cases of stone pelting have been reported in Mumbai. Basically, everyone’s accepted that Thackeray is dead except those in Matoshree. It’s as though Thackeray clearly taken a leaf out of The Very Secret Diary of Aragorn, Son of Arathorn because he is still not dead.
Which is not a bad thing because I need to buy some groceries.
Incidentally, guess who toddled up to Matoshree late last night? Ram Gopal Varma, the film director who has made two films (Sarkar and Sarkar Raj) that were Indian versions of Godfather about the leadership of a Shiv Sena-esque political party instead of the mafia. “He’s doing research for Sarkar 3,” my father told me sombrely and then started giggling. These Bengalis, I tell you. No sense of decorum.
EDITED TO ADD: So there are two versions going around about why Thackeray’s death hasn’t been announced this morning. One is that that he’s “stable” and has improved, which is the official version as spouted by Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut. The other is that despite leave being cancelled for the rank and file of the police, the fact of the matter is that most of our khaki-clad protectors are off to their ‘native place’ for Bhai Duj, which is the day that sisters are supposed to shower love and affection upon their brothers. Particularly for the large chunk of Mumbai’s police force that’s from the Konkan, getting back to Mumbai in time for a morning announcement would be impossible. Now, all leave has been cancelled for state employees, which means that this morning not only did a bunch of grouchy cops who were not able to enjoy sisterly pampering show up at bus terminals across the state (especially the Konkan region) to come back to Mumbai, so did the bus drivers of the state bus service. This means that at this very moment, there are busloads of cops being driven by disgruntled bus drivers through the Western Ghats. And that’s why Thackeray is giving Shrödinger’s cat a run for its money — until the cops hit the city, Balasaheb remains alive and dead. But if this isn’t a mark of a man of the people, I don’t know what is. First his death announcement is delayed so that grief doesn’t mess with the Sainiks’ drinking schedule. (You try controlling drunk Sainiks.) Now, we’re waiting for the boys to get back from Bhai Duj. How considerate is that? Meanwhile, the Sainiks that are here are growling and prowling places like the airport, where there are no taxis and where private cars are being stopped.