The Investigator

Shovon Choudhury | Updated on August 16, 2019

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There is much excitement among the Sharmas, who live in a narrow lane in the Patparganj area of Delhi. A map of Kashmir is laid out on the dining table. The Sharma family is poring over it. “Pulwama looks good,” says Manoj Sharma, a government schoolteacher and Bitcoin trader. He pursues this business in his free time during classes.

 “There’s a lot of greenery. Or we could consider Anantnag. Many plots are available there. Plot sizes are good. Budgam is another good choice, centrally located, very close to Srinagar. When the shops are open, it will be very convenient for shopping. When the cinema halls are open, we can watch cinema. I’m also liking the prices in Poonch and Kupwara.” “Those are too close to the Pakistan border,” says Mrs Sharma, “I am not feeling comfortable”.

Mr Sharma wags his finger, “Prices will also be cheaper, no? The closer we go to the border, the lower the price.” Mrs Sharma is quite pleased by this. She looks like a woman who cannot resist a bargain. The children are enthusiastic. “Pulwama Pulwama Pulwama!” cries the smallest child, a little girl in pigtails, jumping up and down.


“What led you to take this decision?” I ask. I sense that this could be a good human interest story. Nowadays, people love human interest stories. As a seasoned professional working with The Hindu group, I am well aware of this. My pencil is poised on my notepad. “Nowadays security is a big factor,” he says. “Law and order situation is pathetic. Personally, I like the idea of living in a place where I am surrounded by soldiers. All I ever wanted was a farmhouse with a view of the Army. When I look outside my window, and see a heavily armoured soldier, standing on the street with a sub-machine gun, I will feel a great sense of peace and comfort. Of course, sometimes they will shoot at people, and accidents can always happen. That’s why I have made an application to the Army for two adult-size military helmets for myself and my spouse, as well as three junior-size ones for our children, Shekhar, aged nine, Pintoo, aged seven, and Babli, aged four.”

 I cannot help feeling puzzled. “Aren’t you worried?” I ask, “about taking your children to a border area, where war could break out any minute? Imran [Khan] is not very bright, and their army is always keen.” “That’s where I’ve applied my strategy,” he says. “You see, today, war is very different. Nothing will happen on the border. Bombs will fly directly to Delhi.”


Stung by accusations of ‘lacking a long-term perspective’, ‘over-reliance on dynasty’, and ‘inability to find own backside in the dark’, the Indian National Congress has revealed a comprehensive blueprint for the future.

 “Bygone eras were much better for the Congress, and after a brief discussion in the working committee, we have decided to go back to them,” said a veteran leader from Madhya Pradesh.


“Hence we are opting for photographs. There is no lack of leadership material. We have a very wide selection. In the coming year, we will be appointing as president a 48x36 inch photograph of Indira Gandhi, in matt finish, with a hand-carved mahogany frame. In her lifetime, she gave many instructions, so we will know exactly what to do. The public need not worry. We will be selective, and go easy on the vasectomies. In the following decade, we will leap forward in time, and appoint a photograph of Rajiv Gandhi. We have already shortlisted one in which he is looking particularly handsome. His cheeks are pink and his hair is perfect. Whatever the problem, simply by looking at him, we will be inspired to find a solution. Some black-tongued people are saying that all this is further proof of our reliance on dynasty, but this is completely untrue. Around 2032, for a limited period, we will be appointing a photograph of Lal Bahadur Shastri.”


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,

My aunt on my mother’s side is doing item numbers on TikTok, bringing great shame upon the family, although the village youth have been encouraging. Now she is asking me to join her. What should I do?


Mahesh Sharma, Village Bakarpur, Uttar Pradesh


Dear Mahesh-ji,

It’s hard to know where to begin. I have a wide variety of questions. How many views is she getting? Is her performance up to the mark? Don’t just rely on your own opinion. Show her videos to other people and ask them. Your moral position is also important.

 Do you think that item numbers are a tool used by the patriarchy to oppress women, or do you feel that every feature film made in India should pause occasionally for some bump-and-grind, because this is part of our tradition? How old is your aunt? How old are you? Do you look good together? Do you have feelings for her, and if so, would you like to use this opportunity to get closer? Do you catch cold easily?

Remember that, at some point, rain may play a role. Please do write back with answers to these queries. In the absence of these inputs, I am unable to guide you.

Yours sincerely,


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 August 16, 2019

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