The Investigator

Shovon Chowdhury | Updated on October 12, 2018

We dig for the truth. So you don't have to


When I enter the joint secretary’s office, he is waterboarding a junior CBI Officer, except they don’t seem to have the budget for a board. A bearer is dunking his head in a bucket. He comes up for air, gasping. “Next time I suggest that you lose a file, will you ask for written instructions?” asks the joint secretary, standing nearby. His tone is very civil. The officer shakes his head, spluttering. The bearer drags him away. “These young people, I tell you,” says the joint secretary, wiping his hands on his grimy hand towel. “It takes so much longer to train them these days. But the traditions of the Service have to be maintained. How can I help you?”



I sit down, eyeing the bucket nervously, until the bearer comes back and removes it. “What’s this about a Tatkal scheme?” I ask. “It was long overdue,” says the officer. “It’s a matter of India’s prestige. Some of our leading industrialists have been forced to leave the country in an undignified manner, due to misunderstandings with the banking system. International papers are commenting regularly. The impression is being created that they are criminals. Just the other day, Mr Mallya was featured in The Guardian. The cabinet secretary was very upset. Many of his friends read The Guardian. Accordingly, a wide range of measures has been announced to smoothen the process. All escapees will now receive priority customs clearance, unlimited baggage allowance, and one free ticket to the Cayman Islands. The Airports Authority will assign six attendants to carry their baggage. Each escapee will receive a complimentary departure drink. If they choose a local drink, such as feni or Old Monk, they will receive one extra. If the default level with banks crosses a particular threshold, the escapee will receive a guard of honour, and be personally seen off by a minister of state and three joint secretaries. Obviously this level of service comes at a price. This is why political donations are now anonymous, and foreigners are also welcome. We have formalised the process, in the interests of greater transparency. Each donation must now be accompanied by an anonymous letter, which declares that all donations have been made voluntarily. Candidates will receive either the Bharat Ratna or seven years’ rigorous imprisonment, depending on which party they donate to.” 

“Isn’t this a little unfair to the banks, though?” I ask. “We are not at all worried about the banking sector,” says the bureaucrat, smiling. “After all, LIC is always there. Plus we are charging a wide variety of cow taxes. You don’t actually think it’s all going to cows, do you?”



Despite the fact that Nana Patekar is completely innocent, accusations against him have led to considerable soul-searching in Bollywood. “We have the highest respect for items,” said an industry spokesperson, “especially if they have big breasts. Throughout history, many great items have graced our screens, and we have done our level best to ensure that all of them get jiggy at some point or the other.



They have performed their duties honourably. Sometimes, due to budget constraints, we have had to economise on costumes, and items have always supported us in this respect, even when the setting is winter in Simla, and the hero is wearing a trench coat. We believe that all items are equal, and should be treated alike. We do not discriminate. With talent growing scarce outside family circles, we are now encouraging our daughters to become items too. The current situation is very unfortunate. We hope that these unfounded allegations will now stop, especially if they’re true. Meanwhile, so long as they shake their booty periodically, we will ensure that items are never objectified in any way.”

In other heart-warming news, one of the most woke actors in Bollywood has also spoken up. “In future, while participating in item numbers, I will keep my eyes shut,” he said. “It puts me at risk of injury, I know, but I don’t care. I respect items too much.”


Ask Ally

Ally Subramaniam was born in the South-West Sundarbans, but was blown away by a cyclone and washed up on the shore near Chennai. He was adopted by a poor Brahmin family from Tirupur. He can answer all your questions. Just send them to



Dear Ally,

I tried to adopt a cow, but she keeps running away. What should I do?

Regards, Jayant, South Delhi

Dear Jayant,

First of all, what are you doing to the cow? Many animals display a tendency to sprint, but the cow is not one of them. Are you sure it’s a cow? Perhaps it’s a goat. Goats are friskier. Also there is no political advantage to adopting a goat, so you may as well give up. If it’s a cow, things are more complex. Before your conversion, were you an eater of beef? Sometimes cows can sense this. On our farm back in Tirupur, we had a cow who charged at white people, even though otherwise she was a gentle soul. We had to hide her when they came, and ask them to speak softly. Sometimes she could make out from the accents. One time, Montek Singh Ahluwalia had come to our farm, and she chased him round the building, because his accent was so pure. I would suggest that you either bring her into the dining room during meals, or eat outside in her cowshed, so she can see that you are consuming only vegetarian food. Adjustments to your diet may also help. If you eat the exact same type of food that she does, she will be even more reassured.

Yours sincerely, Ally.

Shovon Chowdhury is chief Truthdigger and author of Murder with Bengali Characteristics

The Investigator is a monthly round-up of all things droll and newsy. All views are personal. Really personal. @shovonc

Published on October 12, 2018

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