Strike-Day Chicken

When times are slow and harrowing, humour is the best way to stage a relief drama. This is a satire, so it says what you understand from it, but perhaps in a way that is not the way you should understand it.
Image Courtesy: Google
For most of us in India, February 20th and 21st were like Sundays.

Not in the way they appear on the calendar leaf with red ink and all, but the way they are taken by the silent, sleepy, lazy minds of ours. We sat in our chairs and sipped hot warm tea and watched TV all day long. There was nothing else to be done. We had an additional set of holidays.

Image Courtesy: Google
What I am referring to here, is the trade union strike for forty eight hours, nationwide. It started on Feb 20th midnight. They had announced it weeks before, so it was easy, in a way. There was no need to worry about shortages in rice or soap or coconut oil. Feb 20th was a Wednesday and most of us came back home after work on Tuesday evening with a pack of chicken or beef or pork, that was, according to the availability.

As our place is getting increasingly narrow-minded in terms of religion and cast, chicken turned out to be the best-buy meat in town for any occasion. So if you did not want trouble buying pork or beef, you could resort to chicken. Another trouble in getting cattle meat or pig is that they are available only in special places. In order to reach there you have to take two or three buses in line. So in order to avoid such troubles of added bus ride after the day’s tiring work, and also to avoid spending more money on bus fairs, most of us came down to chicken on Tuesday evening.

We stood in front of the so-called “chicken-stalls” or butcher shops that can be found anywhere and everywhere, to buy freshly slaughtered fowls in curry-cut-pieces. Those who knew how to cook the legendary Malabar biriyani bought chickens in ‘biriyani-cut’. The line went a long way on to the main road and people stood close to rushing traffic and dust ignoring the dangers, dreaming about the steaming bowls of fowl curry flavoured with cinnamon leaves. You could survive a hundred Hartals with that flavour. Oh, my!

Image Courtesy: Google
Those among us, who were into drinking alcohol and know only one version of celebration, that is, screwing their heads off with drinking, kept their queues longer and steadier in front of Beverages Corporation. Only in the main city and government allotted places one can find the centres of Beverages Corporation. But that did not matter; some of us were ready to stand for hours in the line. The dream of two days with no work was more than enough to endure any long-hour line.

Those going to colleges and schools took the opportunity to play cricket or football in the deserted roads on the strike-days. There would not be any vehicles running or institutions working. Or took to video game CDs and DVDs and celebrated the days by watching movies and fighting virtual battles.  

“There is no question of right or wrong in freedom,” says J. Krishnamurthy. The freedom that our fragile and naked ancestors gained for us, even without firing a bullet would let us live with this guarantee. No one would ask what is right or what is wrong.

February has only twenty working days. Cut two days from twenty, if becomes eighteen. This was a sad part, because two days’ less pay could be considerably harmful at a time when the price tags run the length of size ten Bata shoes. But it was ok for some of us, because this two-day strike was a humble attempt to bring the government to notice how much the workers in this nation are suffering because of less payment and price hikes.

Most of us believed that “service providers” or entrepreneurs cannot be counted as ‘workers’. For most of us, it was easy and better to think the managements as the bad guys. But who is a ‘worker’ then? If someone works as a porter, isn’t he providing and managing his agility and strength for the customer? Isn’t he the manager of his skills to lift heavy weights? A teacher; isn’t he or she selling his teaching skills to the consumers—here consumers are both students and the institution.

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Then, who was it the strike for? Most of us think about this paradigm shift and are aware of it. But we cannot undermine the chicken being cooked and the movies in the Telly. And some of us are realistic enough that they are afraid to say things out loud. Some of us prefer just ‘thinking’. Thoughts are secret enough, aren't they? And thoughts are better, because we can think and simultaneously watch our cricket matches.  

Sometimes, truth is like preparing chicken curry. One must avoid some unwanted parts from the chicken in order to make the curry better. To make it sound better and entertaining some instances do not appear in this article. They are concerned with those people who had their marriages planned on these two days, those who needed emergency operations, those with heart palpitations, those visiting their relatives from distant places, etc. The list is long and is obviously tiring. Unfortunately, it has less political-entertainment value to it. So those issues should not be mentioned anywhere.

By the way, most of us would admit, the chicken was tasty and full value for money. 


Red Handed said…
"Sometimes, truth is like preparing chicken curry. One must avoid some unwanted parts from the chicken in order to make the curry better. "

LOL Fantastic!
sarath said…

I appreciate the humor in the writing. It takes such pain to make us humorous in this painful situation. The irony is that the 'nation-wide' strike was applicable mainly to 'Kerala' alone. Other thing may be that we became so lazy. People getting lots of pleasure in not working. So sad!
Terri said…
It sure is easier to take serious matters with a bit of humor. Very informative post. And that chicken sounds very tasty indeed!
Your Tia

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