I sat down to write a post - making a feeble attempt to pen down those wafting , vague ideas into something penworthy. And then Dad called.Sitting miles away from India, their only source of catching up with the latest TN elections was the internet.And as news of early leads started pouring we discussed it all - election promises , caste-based vote banks,scandals,corruption,Jaya TV and Sun TV. We discussed what makes one "Indian" and if there is even a word "American" and if so, what that really means.

And then it all came back to me - elections and political scene - 1999-2000. I was in my final year of school. Tensions, exams, and applications time. Almost oblivious to the blaring loudspeakers,gaudy posters,and larger-than-life cutouts, our lives trudged on. There were some, among us who were daughters of MPs, MLAs and party leaders.But at 16, MTV, Agarkar's posters, and paper rockets on Physics teacher's head held our fancy - competing with timed tests and mugging Sanskrit shlokas.

As the elections drew nearer, we , at home, were hoping for a change in governance.And when a key electoral alliance was forged between a national party and a local party at the state, we knew there was a chance.As days rolled by,this alliance announced their Trichy contestant.Mr.RK was an educated lawyer - a change from your average run-on-the-mill moushtached , lungi clad , sickle-in-hand politicians that Trichy had seen so far - it was a welcome change.For the first time, I saw mom and dad excited to go and vote.

Through all the political uncertainity - bargaining,haggling,deals,scams, and no-confidence votes - came February - of revision tests and exams.And the cricket matches. "To bunk school or not to bunk" seemed to be the quandary of the day, the argument being, that I could watch the match for a while, and then study through the night, since there was not much happening at school anyway.And then I heard it - Dr.S - Trichy's town president for BJP was brutally murdered. Images of yesterday's lunch session-laughter and backstreet boys talk flashed before my eyes - his daughter was my friend in school.

As we stood in the assembly that day , the school principal announced that today was a school holiday due to riots.I came home as my neighbor remarked " So ,you finally get to watch your cricket match in peace today". TV and news channels flashed the news. Some terrorist organization, rise of fundamentalism and all that .The image of my friend and her mom, and her little brother on TV can never be erased from my mind.

Saffron or Green - the story remains the same.Did she deserve an incomplete family for the rest of her life? Did we deserve to lose the bubbly, enthusiastic chatterbox of a friend?What in the world could be more important than a human life? And yes, I was terribly antagonistic.

And then "Dev" happened. IMO, the media IS really, really powerful. It was a tale of two people - a young, energetic young man and an old, seasoned police officer - from different (warring!) religious sects of India.It is a beautiful portrayal of how "politics" and "king-makers" make use of peoples emotions to incite discontent - and fuel their own vote bank.It wasn't jingoistic - no loud claims of "patriotism" and "national integration" - just a heartfelt tale of how two men deal with their own internal belief systems - with respect to their own religions. One of them loses a son to fundamentalists , but learns to view it in third person - not take it personally and hold vendetta towards the perpetrators - rather, learn to abhor the idea of people turning against each other.

So,far from it all, I now know , that accumulated hatred and prejudices don't go very far.

As R says " You know how democracy works in India? Not on the premise that " we are all one" but that "we are all different" - as diverse as we possibly can. We acknowledge this difference, and live our own lives, in our own comfort zones, stepping out when needed.That's what makes us work".

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