My Nobel moment of glory

first_imgLet me be frank. The only Nobel which interests me is the one for literature. That had got eclipsed last year with the sex scandal rocking the institution. So, this year was going to be a double whammy with prizes for 2018 and 2019 to be announced.I did read up on the likely winners and followed Ladbrooke’s prophecies. I was also awed by the wisdom of few of my friends on Facebook who after 10 months of silence on literary matters suddenly wake up to its greatness around October, I am not too sure if an alarm reminder of sorts has been set on their mobiles?The rest of the time they are content with posting dystopian and apocalyptic stuff —like the 90 odd ghastly photographs of their recent foreign trip, each captioned with a little bit of Googled history;not to forget, the obituaries of accomplished humans, claiming a personal connection with them since childhood–witness for example, a status update on Maya Angelou “I grew up on her novels…She made me a warrior. RIP. You will live on in the values you instilled in me ( hello, where were your parents?). I may, of course, be wrong, but sometimes I feel we wait for famous people to die with ghoulish glee so that our normal ( read: boring) status updates can have some “value addition”.While dear Olga, the 2018 Nobel was kind of familiar because of her erstwhile Booker win, Peter Handke knocked the wind out of the sails of all.No one really had read him. Desperate hits on search engines threw up worrisome news about him about being pals with Slobodan Milošević. Thus, the ‘discerning’ junta decided to lie low with this one. Just went about posting links regarding the win but with cryptic one-liners- “ Aah so Peter Handke it is !”- that sort of established their credentials as “intellectuals” minus getting into anything sticky.In the absence of saadi Dilli and Khan market nearby, holed up in my sleepy little hometown in Odisha, I turned my attention to the ‘Great Indian Festival’ on Amazon and forgot all about the Nobel. Soon, I was piling up useless goodies at 50% to 80% off and kicked about it–the only thing of importance I bought was a steel vegetable masher as the new cook’s hygiene is a bit dicey. But, then, I forgive him as he is a relatively calm Bong ( as contrasted with the normally volatile & angsty ones) with his gentle soul fired up by compatriot Ranoo Mondal’s successful move from singing on the railway platform to Himesss mota bhai’s studio.Ooooonh huzoor, pardon me, I digress.The 14th of October dawned momentously. Professor Abhijit Banerjee was declared to be the winner of the Nobel prize for economics.All hell broke loose in the nation and social media. Each positive human emotion had its dark counter in the heart and speech of the junta. Amidst pride and joy, attempts to malign and run down reigned as well. Sexist statements that one needs a foreign wife to qualify to have a second wife with the first being necessarily Bengali had its adherents. Fierce patriotism -“He has left India, he is not a son of the soil”-stoked the hearts as well.The unfortunate media reportage of Esther Dufflo being Bannerjee’s wife angered the feminists and their male friends. She is an economist first, not a wife…wife is not an identity, they thundered. Well, I’d like to believe the media did not mean any slight. I guess they were caught up in the excitement of Bou di/ma having rocked it along with Dada, too, and thus conjured up the offending headlines.But the most visible was JNU and its alumni. The relatively recently marginalised and university non-grata suddenly had as its anthem the Pink Floyd number “Shine on you crazy diamond”. Each JNUite worth his/her intellectual salt rushed to find threads of connection, however nebulous, to the good professor. His contemporaries, now in various walks of life. were the most well informed and thus naturally the smuggest. All went to great lengths of imagination to establish ‘the’ tie with him—some found out that his middle name is ‘Vinayak’, others were confident that they played table tennis on the very table the professor was playing in Brahmaputra hostel, after a clip of him doing so surfaced on social media. The economics guys wore a superior grin, a prominent socialite debated whether to have a Nobel themed soiree with her rather duh duh hubby dressed as Abhijit etc etc—a delirious madness.And I felt bereft, abandoned, worthless and wanting. After all, I am an erstwhile JNUIte too. Spent bloody six years of my youth there! Learnt majorly about life which my sheltered and pampered existence till then had not permitted me to do so. Devoured books in the fantastic library with as much gusto as the dubious lamb at Khicha’s, acquired vast knowledge from my professors and teachers , had stimulating conversations with students over bun anda, went defiantly steady ( Papa don’t preach, types) with a guy, made lifelong friends and walked at midnight, happy and carefree.Could I not find any connection to the good professor?Of course! I thumb my nose at all the Nobel leeches.Behold! I realized that I have perhaps sat on the same boulder as Prof Abhijit Bannerjee at Parthasarthy rocks & have had milk tea from the hands of the same-to-same Ganga dhaba guy.So, there! My Nobel moment of glory.Congratulations Professor Abhijit Banerjee and Welcome to the Jungle.last_img read more