“He broke his fast!” screamed Viju as I pulled over on his apartment driveway.
“What?” I asked him through the window. I did not hear him over my Mazda’s ambient hum.
“He broke his fast today. They passed the bill! Death to babus!” he shouted as he sat in the passenger seat.
“Settle down Dorothy. They only accepted his three conditions. The bill is still a long way from being passed. But yes, it’s a start,” I said as I did not want ruin his moment. Viju was the naïve optimist in our trio. I was supposed to be the practical one.
“Yeah. That’s what I’m saying. Atleast now there will be a law to get those fuckers. I mean the poor guy was starving for twelve days. The government had to do something, right?”
“Fasting. He was fasting for twelve days. So where to?” I asked as we pulled out to join Duck Street.
“Starbucks. I need a Frappe. So check this out. I was talking to my cousin in UFL and he said that all the Indian students in Gainesville did a morcha kinda thing against corruption to support him. Why did we not think of something like that?”
“Well might be because I was too busy with my research and you were away on your all American roadtrip. How was Florida by the way?”
“It was good. Anyway, this cousin told me that the campus police showed up ‘coz they thought they had a student riot on their hands. They even got tasers. Tasers! Man that is wild! Where are you going?” he asked as I turned on Main Street. “We have to pick up Todd.”
Todd was the third. His real name was Haripriya but his American name was Todd. Todd was a stupid name. I did not get it. I mean, if it was up to you to pick an English name why not pick a cool name like Irving, Arnold or even Lucifer. “Hi, I am Lucifer and I’ll be your TA for Visual Basic Programming.”
“Oh. He’s coming? I heard he was wasted last night.”
“Yeah, he called me up. Anyway, I was talking to this other cousin in D.C and he said that Best Buy has a firesale going on. I feel like I wanna buy something. I don’t know what. I have some balance left on my Chase card. Did you know that fifteen lakh people showed up on Ramlila Maidan for the celebration?” Viju’s attention span is less than that of a hummingbird.
“Don’t you think fifteen lakh is a bit too much?”
“I don’t know. My roommate told me that. But I think it’s true. There’s a revolution going on man. Don’t doubt it. Anyway, my cousin in San Jose told me that NVIDIA is hiring. Why am telling this to you? You are a Chemy. Todd will be interested. I’ll tell him to wait for us downstairs.” He called up Todd.
“Yeah he’ll be down in two. So this cousin in D.C said he got a sweet deal on an Android tablet.”
We pulled over in Todd’s driveway. He was waiting for us, clearly hung over. Eyes swollen and hair astray he climbed in and announced “I need a coffee. Like, right now.”
“He broke his fast man! And Best Buy is having a firesale!” screamed Viju.
“Settle down Dorothy. My head hurts. And enough of Lokpal already,” informed Todd.
“Why?” asked Viju.
“It was a failure from the start. You can never do away with corruption in India. And which cousin told you about Best Buy?” said Todd. Todd was the all hating ever complaining cynic of the lot.
“’ssup Toddji.” I greeted him.
“Man nothing can happen with India. The corruption is just too deep in the system. There is no political will for change. Look at the US. Look at the way they are handling the health reforms right now. There is a system in place here. The politicians are accountable for stuff.”
“How can you say that? India is changing man. The sheer support we saw last week tells us that. And political will? They accepted the bill, didn’t they? I think great things are gonna happen in India in the next five years,” retorted Viju clearly upset.
We had reached Perkins. I parked the car and we started making our way to the coffee shop. Those two were at it and I found it best to keep quiet. To be honest I always kept quiet.
“Well, your opinion does not matter. No one’s opinion matters in India. This Lokpal is gonna introduce even more bureaucracy in the system. The common man will matter even less after it.”
“What bureaucracy? The bill is gonna hold the politicians accountable. Did you not watch the Karan Thapar video I shared on facebook?” asked Viju. He was big on sharing videos on facebook.
“Do you guys know what the Lokpal draft actually demands?” I asked them. I had a feeling neither of them did.
“Shut up man!” both of them said. Clearly they were more interested in arguing about it.
“Yeah I saw the video. And it does not help your argument. But that’s not the point. Say a construction project is underway in a village. And a local politician is demanding money from the contractor. The contractor lodges a complaint under the lokpal bill. This case appears in a local court. The local court defers it to a higher one. This case could take years to reach a verdict.”
“But that’s a convenient example. There will be amendments,” argued Viju.
We were in the line for ordering and these two were almost at crescendo.
“Forget the amendments man,” Todd dismissed Viju.
“Now you are just being cynical. Oh yes, before I forget. My cousin in San Jose said that NVIDIA is hiring in California. Interested? ”
Suddenly Todd’s frowns seemed to wash away. He actually looked excited.
“Brilliant! What’s the position?”
“I think it’s Hardware Engineer. And more importantly they are ready to sponsor. I applied last night,” informed Viju.
“Alright. I’ll get my resume ready and…”
“What can I get you Sir?” asked the blonde at the counter.
“Hey. I’d like a Frappuccino, a Mocha latte and a Chai Latte,” Todd ordered pointing towards me.