Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A chewed necktie, a potbelly and two republic days

It was in 1995 that I last participated in a January 26 Republic Day function, marking the anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of India. I was a school student then, standing in a queue singing the national anthem as our principal unfurled the tricolor flag.

Today morning, I was a part of the event at the sprawling India House Estate in Bhutan. The Indian Ambassador received the guard of honor of a small column of Indian soldiers dressed in impeccable khaki. Wives of army officials and diplomats gathered, some chastising children who preferred to run along the guard of honor red carpet than stay with their moms.

Meanwhile, I was getting conscious over my blazers and the necktie which I managed around my neck after much effort and help from colleagues earlier the day. This was a deep brownish red tie with golden horizontal stripes, much better than the 1995 blue school tie, the tip of which was chewed, and was occasionally thrust into snotty nostrils.

While standing under the kind winter sun beside well dressed army officials, the tip of my silk necktie looked inviting. “To chew or not to chew,” that was the question.

Then the army band struck the national anthem. I stood in attention as Ambassador Pavan K Verma unfurled the national flag and read out the president of India’s address. I tightened my fists in the required fashion, my burgeoning pot belly struggling out from the tight belt around my pants. As a student, singing the national anthem in full throat was a matter of pride. Today I held my breath, holding my belly in, jealously watching the well toned tummies tucked in army uniforms.

The president, in her address, invoked India’s first prime minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who said, “We have to labour, and to work, and to work hard, to give reality to our dreams.”

With less than a week away from my 30th year on this earth, I made a list of things I have to labour and work hard for.

As I munched down a hot samosa at the tea after the event, one item from the list kept ringing: tummy trimming.