Milk bottles and corner plots


Analogizing an awkward India-Iran relationship

International Relations students, a group that this writer would want to consider himself a part of, have always been intrigued by the relationship between India and Iran. With most other major bilateral bonds, one could come up with obvious analogies, but that is particularly hard in the case of New Delhi and Tehran. Like for instance, you have the cheating spouses for US-Pak, rival lovers for the Russo-American, estranged brothers for Indo-Pak, aloof neighbors for Afghan-Pak, historically familial animosity for Franco-German, mafia foes for Sino-American and stepsiblings for the UK-EU bond but with Iran and India it’s not quite as straightforward. And now with Manmohan Singh all set to play footsie with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the tail-end of this month – a visit that is set to throw quite a few spanners into the works – it is becoming increasingly important to understand the Tehran-New Delhi liaison.

If one were pressed to come up with an analogy, Tehran and New Delhi would be like those neighbors that live in adjacent streets and meet in occasional community gatherings where the best greeting they can offer each other is an awkward smile or two, with the former proclaimed to be a mad scientist and the latter being a blossoming industrialist. Even so, the latter does need the former owing to the array of buffaloes that the scientist has and the nutritionally deficient children at the industrialist’s place. The need for regular milk supply is what has kept this bond flourishing even in troubled times, and this despite that grouchy old uncle from downtown – the one that basically controls most of the town’s affairs – summoning his skewed rulebook to force community sanctions against the mad scientist’s milk business.

For the record, the milk magnate isn’t really a mad scientist. His lab work primarily caters to manufacturing medicines for his farm, but the grouchy uncle is adamant that what he’s really creating is drugs to destroy rival farms that lie in the immediate volatile neighborhood of the scientist. The industrialist couldn’t care less though; all he’s concerned about is the milk bottles, especially now that not many other town inhabitants are daring to go against the cantankerous old uncle and continue purchasing milk from the scientist. Also, intriguingly the uncle no longer has any issues with the industrialist’s milk dealings with the scientist since he has “significantly cut purchases” – although recent stats suggest otherwise.

Even so, the milk isn’t the only factor that draws the industrialist towards the scientist. Ever since the industrialist’s separation from his brother ages ago, who now lives next door, the house in the corner – which is adjacent to the separated brother’s house – is what everyone in the town has eyes on. In fact, that particular plot has been the butt of lusting gazes throughout the course of the town’s history. Obviously because of its location, the commercial value of the place has regularly skyrocketed. Plus, its strategic placing and the fact that it links the street with the northern and central region of the town through the scientist’s lane means that having increasing influence on the place and its inhabitants – that happen to be severely antisocial and conservative people – can be pivotal for one and all in the community and the town.

Going via the scientist’s place is the only real route for the industrialist to reach the corner house, since traversing the brother’s lawn has not been an option ever since the family separated. Also, both brothers share an equal magnitude of paranoia with regards to one another – it probably runs in the blood. Nevertheless, it’s not particularly easy to influence the conservative people in the much hankered after house, something that the grouchy uncle has found out so painfully after throwing distorted rulebooks, a myriad of thugs and basically the proverbial kitchen’s sink vying to get a stranglehold over the place for the last 11 years, to no avail.

And now with the NAM club – an organization that the industrialist helped found – meeting being hosted by the scientist, the industrialist is all set to visit his primary milk source this month for the first time since 2001. In fact the last time the industrialist was hosted by the scientist was before the twin antenna incident on the grouchy uncle’s rooftop – that had gargantuan ramifications for the entire town. After the NAM rendezvous, both the scientist and the industrialist would have rounds of one-on-one meetings, something that everyone in the town has their eyes on.

Considering that the industrialist is one of the major buyers of the scientist’s milk produce, the former’s influence on the latter is pretty obvious. This is why the grouchy uncle has been in the industrialist’s ears relentlessly of late, wanting him to exercise his influence over the contentious lab project. Bilaterally though, there’d be influencing the conservatives, community peace and milk bottles on the table as everyone eagerly awaits the culmination of this reunion.

Now with the dreaded uncle and his chums hell bent upon isolating the scientist, the industrialist could end up being the scientist’s savior on the social front as well after partially rescuing the threatened milk business. If that happens, expect the uncle’s grouchiness to reach new heights as science and industry join hands to conjure a dramatic sting in the tale.

The writer is a staff member and can be reached at [email protected]


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