Moment I decided to be leftist, I attempted a Lenin beard, ended up with Che Guevera-cut, which often carelessly grew to Castro-style bit bushy ones. I believed men without beard were ‘rightist’ like Reagan to Bush; with beard were ‘leftist’; and one who wished but could never have, like all Gandhis were ‘centrist’. Two bearded Indians defied my logic though. Two progressive chief ministers of that era in diagonally opposite states- Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra, and Narendra Modi in Gujrat. Both sported a modest beard, and both seemed to have rightist and pro-capitalist thoughts- The darhiyals (bearded) with a difference.
The idea struck me to core, where I would sport a beard, talk like a leftist, but act like a rightist. Born in underprivileged state, I loved the notion of industries, IT boom, and a flourishing state. Men of development like Naidu and Modi appealed me over corrupt proclaimants of social justice like Lalu and Mayawati. Soon, I quit my idea of rural service, and flew to US. I began believing poors deserve to grow in a development wave or perish. They deserve to suffocate in doctor-starved rural India, and rush to urbanised world. Mine or any doctor’s presence in village, and giving freebies would make them lame.
Soon, I graduated in tricks of trade, learnt minting money, forgot Lenin to Gandhi, and became an ultra-rightist. Not to mention, it led to some sense of economic, religious, caste and racial pride too. The thumping chest and bragging mouth. ‘I’ dominated the ‘We’, when I would scorn at my old village pals.
It was year of 2002-2003, when certain events rocked my virtual world and shook to core.
State of Andhra was facing worst drought ever, with farmers commiting suicide. Poverty had struck the most pockets of a prosperous growing state. Gujrat was burning in communal riots in the same year. Yet, states kept flourishing, with head held high of my idol CMs. Naidu disastrously lost in 2004; Modi had a thumping win; 50-50?
My hairs have grown upto the shoulder, and dominated my Lenin beard. A movie-freak, I was watching movie ‘Motorcycle Diaries’, where a doctor roams around villages of South-America on his motorcycle, and becomes a part of great revolution. Man was Che Guevera.
I cut off my hair completely, and became bald, clean shaven. Returned back to India, unlefted, unrighted, directionless.
Got my beard back, and learning to walk in ‘center’ like Mahatma Gandhi and Luther King.
Hope my bearded idols got senses back too!