We are, in a sense, a nation of waiters since we are always waiting for something or the other. These are often random, or annual events, but they condemn us to a life of perennial anticipation and expectation. Collectively, we are a people waiting to exhale. Here are the most prominent occupants of the ‘Great Indian Waiting Room’:
The monsoon: We await this with great anxiety, much like expectant parents; in depression when the Met department announces a late arrival and no chance of a Caesarian, or a barren period which is the equivalent of a false pregnancy. Then come the first few drops, and the nation celebrates like India has won the World Cup. Till we are reminded of the phrase no one understands, but we fear the most — El Nino!
‘Acche din’: The choice of electoral slogans can often backfire. We are all still awaiting a return to the good times, as promised by our Prime Minister in times of expansive oratory and 56-inch chests. But it is, as yet, nowhere in sight, much like that elusive monsoon. ‘Acche din aane wale hai’ has now replaced the ‘mute button’ as a conversational bon mot — as in bosses informing employees about their annual appraisals or debt-laden companies informing banks about future interest payments.
The Budget: An annual exercise that exercises everyone, or taxes everyone, depending on the state of the monsoon and whether ‘acche din’ have arrived or not. In no other country does the annual budget weigh so heavily on an entire population, especially when it is an exercise where so little is done for so many.
Onion prices: We will all have turned into vegetables waiting for onion prices to come down. What did come down was the government in 1980, when onion prices went into orbit, and they are back on an upward trajectory, courtesy the ubiquitous but invisible middleman. India is the only country where a bumper harvest causes a shortage, but there it is, or isn’t, as is the case.
Power to come back: Nothing to do with the Congress party, but the perennial wait for the power to come back on during the summer when demand peaks and the trickle-down effect takes place. Or sweat equity, as it is called in some quarters.
The Sunanda Pushkar case: The controversy over the cause of death refuses to die down, and we now await another forensic report after the two that have already been submitted, along with letters from doctors, including the one from Dr Subramanium Swamy who says they were doctored by the Gandhi family. What we do know for certain is that in politics, there is no RIP.
Delhi college admissions: The wait for admissions at Delhi University, boasting the country’s premier educational institutions, becomes longer every year. This year, here’s the official reason: “The UGC’s secretariat has acted at the behest of MHRD, which has used emergency powers to direct UGC u/s 20(1) of the UGC Act to ask DU to scrap FYUP”. By the time you figure that out, you could be institutionalised.
Rahul to take charge: The Congress has been waiting endlessly for the anointed heir to, well, anoint himself or appoint himself, but he seems quite happy empowering others while unempowering himself in the bargain.
Kejriwal’s house: We wait, with gated breath, for Arvind Kejriwal to find himself a house. Each time he settles on one, something happens to deny him entry. Will he finally settle down, or remain the itinerant politician? Time and a generous landlord will tell.