Lipstick, Powder and Paint

March 3, 2023by Rajeev Hora0

Lipstick, Powder and Paint

Whenever you are posted to a new station, you do look forward to making friends and acquaintances amongst the locals. More so if you get any information about any relatives, however distant they may be, it can be a real bonus.

So here it was in the good old eighties when Gorakhpur was still a rather sleepy town. We had been invited over by a small-time businessman relative. The plan was to go across for a movie in the only local cinema hall that was worth going to. Sree Talkies if I am not wrong. Thereafter, it was to be followed by dinner at the singular Chinese restaurant ‘Mr Cook’ that the city really did not quite boast of.

True to a  strike pilot’s religion, my newly-wedded wife and I reached their place dot at the appointed time. Our civilian friends were frankly not quite accustomed to such punctuality. And sure enough, when we landed up, the lady of the house did not make an appearance for quite some time. I very hesitatingly queried if everything was alright as we didn’t want to miss out on the thriller that awaited us.

“Oh no, nothing really Bhai Sahib. She is just busy with her denting-painting”, said Anup in jest. He was obviously referring to his wife’s rather extended make-up session. We could make out that he was also a bit embarrassed by the delay.

By now, Anup rather exasperated, mocked his wife in absentia “Sham ko hur, savere koi whor!”A literal translation of the sexist remark meaning that the ‘lipstick, powder and paint’ makes her look like a diva in the evening, but next day morning she will be a very different person. Not a very complimentary utterance indeed from the misogynistic man.

Well talking about sexism, one wonders why our capital city is often referred to in the female gender. You always tend to say “Hamari Dilli” while it is “Apno Kolkota”. Well, as of now I can’t see any brigade-level effort to infuse a gender change by renaming the city. However, what  is so noticeable is the sudden and massive effort to spruce up the Lutyens part of the city in anticipation of the G-20 events.

It is clearly evident that a “no holds barred” order has been received from the top-most echelon. An enormous infusion of funds has been granted to provide the necessary facelift. Metro pillars repainting, flower baskets enmasse at every island, renewed fencing in an understandable colour scheme, repair of street lights and re-tarmacking of roads. What a welcome overdrive!

The LG is out every day in the field, personally taking stock of the progress. The sleeper cells of the cleaners have come out of their slumber and are sweeping away to glory. Probably better than our cricketers in the on-going match. Not since the last infamous commonwealth games have I seen such energy and all-round exertion. After all, we must project our best to the visiting dignitaries. What will they think of us if they spot the potholes and cattle eating plastic out of rubbish mounds? Not at all good advertisement for the country and more so for its political representatives.

Having been in uniform for over four decades, I can understand the spirit behind this show of wellness and apparent prosperity. The golden rule in fauj for similar inspections is “If it is moving salute it, if it is not then paint it.”

 There was however one commander that I know of who did not fall prey to such pseudo requirements and displays. He had passed strict instructions that there will not be any special preparations for visits and inspections. He instead focused on bringing up the standard of his establishment as a routine and daily affair. His thought process was solely based on ‘being’ rather than ‘projecting’.

He was so engrossed with his whole-hearted involvement irrespective of who came calling. “What will someone else think?, rarely crossed his mind. A sound professional, even a broken tile or a cracked window pane would not escape his attention.

‘If it is broken, it has to be fixed’ was his simple mantra. But more important than that, he believed in instituting and monitoring processes. That was to ensure that either things don’t go bad or anomalies are picked up and rectified at the earliest.

Like a lie, deception has a limited shelf-life. Unvarnished truths have no ‘sell by date’. No wildcard short-seller will ever be able to hurt you when you are strong  and truthful from within.

Much as I am enjoying the flowers in full-bloom, I am actually thinking of the aftermath. Over a few months, ‘Hamari Dilli’ will revert back to its natural state of entropy. Very similar to what my rustic friend from Gorakhpur had predicted for his better half. No real changes in the life of the citizenry would have taken place. The paint will wither. The rubbish heaps would be back. A bunch of contractors would have made a priority killing.

 And of course, the cows will probably be munching the canvas delicacies of flown-away G-20 posters.



Not a spoilsport,
Horax (Casper)

First published at on 03 Mar 23.
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