JournalismPakistan.com September 11, 2-014
A friend of mine came back from America and decided to set up a farm. He put an ad in the papers. It read: Indian graduate returned from US, wishes to start farm. Also wishes to get married. Dowry, only one tractor. Please send photograph of tractor.
It speaks volumes for the general public with nubile daughters to marry off that only three people responded to the ad. One displayed shock at the frivolity. A second said it was anti-social to ask for a dowry of any sort and the third indicated disapproval that in this enlightened day and age my friend was perpetuating arranged marriages by placing ads in the paper and he should be ashamed of himself for being so atavistic.
My friend ignored the first two letters, went to a dictionary to hunt for the meaning of ‘atavistic’ and wrote to the bank for a loan so he could buy a tractor. The bank said he wasn’t serious about farming and farming was serious business. My friend said farmers also had a right to a sense of humor and when his tractor was not ploughing the fields he would load it up with young farmhands and go on a Daler Mehndi singfest up the main road and have a bonfire.
Evidently, this scenario did not go down too well with the bank manager and he rejected the application as unsuitable. Semi-deterred but willing to give it his all, my friend then approached one of those government agencies who are called by their acronyms and are forever taking out bad-looking sloppy copy ads in the papers promising to give low interest loans to rural folk.
So, my friend cantered off at his rural best and was rudely told that people who wore jeans and said ‘no way, dude’ and chewed spearmint were not quintessential rural people and the agency had no time for frivolity. My friend said he was as rural as a hand-worked water pump and he had spent eight years in Arkansas and that made him about as much a rural person as Dolly Parton.
The agency manager said there was no mention of Dolly Parton in the application and Madame Parton would have to come personally if she wanted to be co-owner of the tractor. He also said there would have to be an affidavit given establishing the relationship between Shrimati Parton and my friend and it should be signed by a gazetted officer.
By now, quite dashed in his hopes and feeling more than a little frustrated my friend joined a daily newspaper and wrote a weekly column for five years on the agricultural scene. No one ever read it and he never received a single letter to the editor about his observations.
Then, tired of journalism and convinced that newspapering was for the birds he toyed with the idea of becoming a dacoit. That way, he said, I can make enough money to buy a tractor. You can also get killed, he was told by well-meaning friends and, fortunately, before he climbed a horse and galloped off into the ravines he fell in love with an airline executive who told him the way to go was to get on to television. He left her after his fourth show was aired on the grounds that she bought him a Premier Padmini car for his second ‘return to India’ anniversary instead of a tractor. This action, he said, showed a lack of sensitivity.
Three weeks ago he called to say that he had some good news. He had fallen in love again and she had refused him a dowry. But her father had given them a seven-year-old Mercedes. ‘I sold it’, he said, ‘and bought a tractor.’ How is she, I asked. Super, he said, she’s yellow with a red stripe.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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