First, Tunisia went up in flames and then the fire spread to other countries. What was most funny to see was how once the people took to streets, the dictators, who seldom showed any sign of weakness, started quaking. Following Ben Ali’s fleeing from Tunisia, the governments who would have otherwise considered it beneath them to give into people’s demands are ready to agree to anything to quell the fire of protests.
Media reports are attributing the eruption of protests mainly to two things: spike in food prices and absence of political freedom.
A strange part of the protests is that they are not anti-US despite the fact that the dictators are mostly US-backed. The US has many interests in Arab and it should make sure the popular uprising results in political freedom for the people; instead of one set of dictators replaced by another. The US’s fondness for dictators is one reason why democracy couldn’t flourish in Pakistan.
Will the outcome of the protests be a politically transformed Arab? I’m not sure but in the meantime, the protests will give China something to worry about unless they have already blocked the flow of news about the protests into the country.
Landlord on the Run
I asked him why he wasn’t taking my calls and he said his phone was tapped. I was scared. Your phone can be tapped only by government investigating agencies. I asked him why and he said some people were “playing games” with him. “What kind of games and which people?” I asked. He has some real estate properties in Koramangla (Bangalore) and they were trying get them sold, he said. I couldn’t catch what was so wrong with it and how it justified his phone being tapped, but I remained silent.
He accused Jugrajji, who owns a jewelry shop under our building, of being behind everything. It was strange that Jugraj would try to trouble him; only couple of weeks back I had seen the two talk heartily. They were friends.
Jugraj and his friendship had always looked weird to me. They came from completely different backgrounds; Jugraj from a village in Rajasthan who wants to make it in Bangalore; the landlord from a wealthy family with a brother who is a doctor established in England with a Dutch wife.
On my way back home, I summed up what the landlord said and reached my conclusions. The phone-tapping thing was rubbish. I don't think he would be involved in something so serious that his phone would be tapped. But who he was trying to avoid by shifting to another place?
Today (31st Jan), when I met him to give my rent, it became clear who he was trying to avoid.
Having waited for an hour last time, this time I wanted to make sure that I didn’t find myself waiting again. I called him up and asked him to reach the spot and call me; it would not take me too long to walk to the location.
He called me and asked me to come to another place, not where we used to met for rent until last time. When I reached the place, he wasn’t there. I called him; he didn’t take the call. Fed up, when I started walking back home, my phone rang: it was the landlord.
He wanted me to come to another place to meet him. I wanted to snap but held myself back; after all it’s only once in a month, I thought.
When I reached the new spot, I didn’t find him. I called him but he refused to take the call. When I angrily started walking away, my phone buzzed. “I’m here,” he said. I turned back and found him bending and seeing me avoiding a low-hanging branch.
I walked to him and asked, “Why don’t you take your calls?” “If I take calls it becomes easy to spot where I am,” he replied. “Easy for whom,” I pursued; I deserved an answer, I thought. “That guy – Jugraj,” came the reply.
I was correct that no one was tapping his phone. The landlord has a Blackberry and so does Jugraj (at least he carries something that resembles a Blackberry) and there is an app (could someone tell the name, please?) which helps you detect the location of another person having a Blackberry. A shred of doubt lingers. I don’t think Jugraj, who is scantily literate, is tech smart enough to use the app.
Why the landlord is running away from Jugraj as if the latter has contracted a communicable disease? Probably the months to come will reveal.
Last time, when I had written about how Jugraj was pilfering power from me causing my electricity bill to shoot up, Elen had commented that I should find myself another accommodation. While coming back home today, I thought the same.