Thursday, November 18, 2010

Winner take all .....

It’s been brewing for years. Below the surface the opposing undercurrents have been strongly clashing with each other, neither side ready to give up, neither side ready to back down. On occasion raising up a storm but mostly restricted to the awe inspiring sound of the thunderous crashing of waves. A battle in which both sides believed that they were right. A clash of ideologies that would have continued for years to come but for the fact that leaders on both sides
believed that the time was ripe for the final blow to be struck to their opponents.

And so it happened that on the seventeenth day of the eleventh month of the year two thousand and ten, both sides laid it all on the line. No more unfriendly jibes, no more below the belt comments, no more going for the jugular. One representative from each side would step up in a verbal joust for the ages. No draws, no timeouts, no mid sparring coaching, no pausing for your breath. There would be only one winner. Only one side would walk away with their heads held
high saying "We were right all along" while the other side would hold their heads down in shame. The stakes, were well and truly, high.

But before such a history altering battle could commence, both sides realised the need for a fair arbitrator. The leaders on both sides had too much pride to win through a tainted victory. They knew they needed a man of great wisdom & intellect. A man who could slice and separate the nonsense from the core of the issue with ruthlessness and without favour. A fair and just man. A man whose judgement is without question. So they chose me.


I woke up this morning to the drone of an angry mob. The police are always jittery when crowds begin to emit that steady drone which signifies that the crowd is talking animatedly amongst themselves. And an animatedly talking crowd almost always descends into pure, unadulterated chaos. I walked up to the hotel window and tried to rub the sleep out of my eyes. As my eyes adjusted to the bright sunlight, I saw a mass of humanity that was split down the middle by a heavily armed police force. Men and women, people of all shapes, sizes and colours constituted the two equal halves. They were all here to be a part of history. The camera crews were setting up the giant screens outside. I looked at my watch. 45 minutes to go. Lets do this.


4 minutes to go. I’ve been sitting on stage for the last few minutes. The air-conditioning is on but I can see people sweating profusely. I close my eyes for a moment and smile. A battle like this ought to have been settled in a Roman arena. Scenes from the movie The Gladiator flash across my mind. Instead here we are, like civilised men and women, in the conference hall of one of the world's plushest hotels. Both sides have been given an equal number of seats and a police cordon stands guard in the middle. I don’t expect trouble but with such sensitive issues, you never really know till the fat lady sings. I scan the crowd. There is not an empty seat. People shifting uncomfortably in their chairs. I nod at the front rows of either half. 2 men stand up and make their way up the stage from opposite ends and take their places behind their microphones.

I step up to my microphone which is right in the middle of the stage. My eyes blink from the popping flashlights. I should’ve worn my sunglasses I think to myself. Crap ! Don’t smile now because of your stupid joke and spoil the whole thing. This is history in the making. I manage to keep a straight face. I take a second.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure all of you know why we are here and what is at stakes here. But just in case you have avoided newspapers, television, radio and other people for the last one month and have decided to switch on your television set or radio, let me inform you that you have tuned in to the final battle between the vegetarians and the non vegetarians that will decide once and for all which side is correct and justified. My ruling will be fair and final.

I have a simple scoring system, akin to a tennis match. Either side can bring out a point and the other side will have a chance to reply. The winner of the exchange wins a point. The first side to reach six point with a two point lead wins the debate. There will be no tie breaker system, the
debate will continue till you have a two point lead after you reach six points. Parliamentary language (Crap ! Don’t smile now because of your stupid joke and spoil the whole thing. This is history in the making.) will not be permitted and will result in disqualification. To my left we have the vegetarians represented by Mr VG and to my right we have Mr NV." I look at both participants and ask them if they have any doubts. I’ve been through the rules with both sides backstage several times. I look at my watch, 10 seconds to go. I pause for the added drama. "Fight!"

Mr VG - Don’t you non vegetarians know that animals are living beings with feelings? They go through the same cycle of life that we humans go through. How can you people be so heartless and cruel? All animals deserve to lead a full life. It is inhuman to butcher them just to satisfy your greed.
Mr NV - You’re right, animals are living beings that go through the complete cycle of life and ultimately death. Just as plants are living beings that also follow natures cycle of life and death. Take for example that salad you had for breakfast this morning. All those vegetables would have grown on the plants they belong to and died on those plants had it not been for the greed of you people. And speaking of greed, I admit our greed might result in the loss of lives of animals. But tell me, how many vegetarians seated here are wearing leather shoes and carrying leather wallets and bags? Aren’t animals killed for that?

"1 - 0 non vegetarians" I announce into the mic. The last couple of sentences sealed the deal.

Mr NV - And speaking of natures cycle of life and death of plants. Tell me something, is it not your selfishness and insistence on eating fruits and vegetables that is depriving herbivorous animals all across the world their natural source of food. Here you are telling me about what is right for animals. Is it right that you take away their only source of food? What if you vegetarians swell in number and deplete all our food resources? What will our animals do? Do you want them to become cannibals?
Mr VG - Err that is a frivolous errr ummm ....

"2 - 0 non vegetarians"

Mr NV - Is it not true that with all our scientific advances in agriculture, man has been depending more and more on the use of fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides to increase the productivity of crop? And is it not true that digesting these is harmful to the body? And is it not true that if a person were to digest an animal that has eaten this chemically treated crop, the chance of contamination is less because it has already been processed once by the system of the animal ?
Mr VG - (mumbles something into the mic)
I - Could you repeat that louder for the benefit of the audience and the judge ?
Mr VG (Stammering) - Yes, yes and yes ....

"3 - 0 non vegetarians" There was a steady murmur throughout the crowd.

Mr NV - Is it not true that most vegetarians also eat eggs? And is it not true that in order to ensure that the eggs do not get fertilized chickens are injected with several hormones that result in them becoming egg laying machines and nothing more. Is it right to play God with these poor animals just so that you so called clean vegetarians can eat eggs while justifying your actions saying that there is no life in the egg and hence it will never fertilize?
Mr VG (dipping his head) - Yes, yes and no.

"4 - 0 non vegetarians" The excitement levels were rising and the mood in the crowd had changed perceptibly. The non vegetarian speaker paused and turned to me asking "O wise and honourable judge, it appears that we do not have a level playing field. Would you allow one round with a little back and forth questions and answers, your holiness?" It appeared to be a fair request and I agreed. It was after all turning out to be rather one sided.

Mr NV - " Tell me, Mr NG. Do you like to travel ?"
Mr VG (taken aback by the unexpected direction of the discussion) : "Yes, yes I do. My wife and I like to travel a lot."
Mr NV - " You looked like a travelling man to me. The moment I saw you I knew that I was pitted against a man who has seen the world. Am I right?"
Mr VG - " Well I wouldn’t go so far as to say that but yes I have seen several countries and cultures."
Mr NV - "Rome ? Paris ? Milan ? The Niagra Falls?"
Mr VG - "I have been fortunate to visit these wonderful places in my lifetime. But why do you ask?"

The audience by now was also visibly intrigued. After the rapid fire first few minutes, they could sense the seemingly innocuous questions were leading upto something big.

Mr NV (ignoring the last question) - "What about India? Have you been to the Taj Mahal?"
Mr VG - "It is most beautiful. My wife loved it. But I really don’t see where you are going with this."
Mr NV - "I’m sure you have been to the lovely city of Cochin, in the state that is called God's own country, Kerala. What memories do you have of that place?"
Mr VG - "Why yes, we have been there. It is gobsmackingly beautiful. But they did have dreadful mosquitoes. We used to wake up covered in mosquito bites. I used to sit up and swat those mosquitoes for hours on end and they still kept coming. It was terri ...."
Mr VG realised he had been setup.

"5 - 0 non vegetarians"

"This is ridiculous, my statements were taken out of context. There was nothing we could do" he protested.

I could see Mr NV smiling. He was going for the kill. Like a lion in the savannah, he had played with his prey and was now tired. Let it be swift and painless I prayed. Already one side of the hall looked disconsolate.

Mr NV - "Imagine you are on a safari through a jungle. Somehow you get separated from your guide and the rest of your team. You have no weapons, no compass, no food and no water. You come across a clearing and suddenly you see a male lion and a pack of female lions. Would you turn around and run ?"
Mr VG - "Of course I would."

They both turned expectantly to me waiting for my judgement. I unfortunately had no clue what had just transpired. I looked at Mr NV quizzically.

Mr NV - "So when confronted with a lion you would turn around and run. But when a mosquito comes towards you, you would jump up and kill it. Why don’t you run instead ....."

My ruling of 6-0 non vegetarians could hardly be heard over the commotion and the celebration. The jubilation of the crowd outside had to be heard to be believed. I walked up to the winning speaker who couldnt wipe the smile off his face and shook his hand and said "Congratulations. No pun intended but it was a bloodbath."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How can u have an argument with urself? bias bias bias!