This article is part of our 2017: A Year In Review series
The year began with so much promise. The astrology section in a daily newspaper told me (and the half billion Pisceans around the world) that this would be the year when all our dreams would come true. I (and my half a billion brethren) would find professional success, true love, exciting adventures and inner peace, all at once. As I sit here looking back at the year that was, I realise one of two things have happened – either my parents lied to me about my birthday and I am no Piscean at all; or I just need to change my perspective on what constitutes success. Maybe getting through a year without being shot, maimed, mugged, fired, burnt or impeached is actually the best I’ll ever get.
We didn’t have to wait long to see just how dismal 2017 was going to be. The year started in bizarre fashion even before it actually began. Prime Minister Modi gave an hour-long speech on New Year’s Eve, and didn’t utter ‘mitron’ even once, much to the dismay of revellers who were hoping to tank up on some cheap alcohol. Wanted to drink on New Year’s Eve instead of spending it on prayer and devotion? Take that, you drunkards!
At least the good people of Kerala weren’t going to be swayed by all this tomfoolery surrounding sobriety. Like the good Malayalees that they are, the government of Kerala reversed prohibition in the state, meaning the one thing that connected Palakkad and Patiala – the peg of life – would continue to runneth over.
Speaking of Patiala, Punjab had elections this year – elections, or as Modi calls it, domestic travel. In Punjab then, the people, tired of mismanagement and corruption of the SAD-BJP governments, of the debauched and rampant drug abuse which had been allowed to grow unchecked, of tuneless Yo Yo Honey Singh and DJ Badshah songs, of their youth opting for the lucre of joblessness and chaar bottal vodka over naukri-shokri, finally decided to get their act together and vote the Congress to power. Because, as everybody knows, nothing ends a party like the Congress party.
And while the party ended for Punjab’s party hearty youth, it just didn’t start at all for Irom Sharmila in Manipur. The activist-turned-politician tried contesting elections in the North East state, but it turned out only 92 people voted for her. Ninety-two. That’s only marginally more than the number of years she had been on a hunger strike. And marginally less than the number of people on a single seat in a Mumbai local train. The impoverished people of the state clearly had so little that they wouldn’t part with anything, not even their votes. But this tale of defeat and despair was to have a happy ending: Sharmila decided to abandon her political plans and get married. The undisputed champion for our feel good (but not too good) award of the year.
Speaking of awards, Donald Trump should surely win the award for ‘Claiming most number of things for oneself’. Starting with claiming 1.5 million people attended his swearing-in back in January, to claiming that he was about to be named TIME magazine’s person of the year in December, the range and variety of things Trump has much made up over the last 12 months boggles the mind. In fact, such has been the range of his fabrication that there shouldn’t even be any competition for the title. But for North Korean Dear Leader, who has probably claimed this honour too for himself. And crackpot argumentative followers of the Avengers franchise who insist everything in the movie was real. And die-hard Sachin Tendulkar fans, who want ‘God’ to win this too. “This Trump is just like Kohli. He’s had one good year, but he’ll never be as good as Sachin,” one was heard saying.
Tamil Nadu, however, was the comic relief of 2017, even in a year as full of comedy material as this. It was the Johnny Lever in an Abbas Mustan movie. In Tamil Nadu, an elected chief minister of the state could hear the soul of the previous chief minister of the state (who had died by then) speak to him. In an unrelated but equally bizarre development from this glorious land, a million people thronged the beach urging support for a sport they had only heard of that morning. Farmers from the state posed with skulls, snakes and dead rats to draw attention to – of all things – drought. And a gang stole 100 litres of milk to honour its slain don.