Monday, September 28, 2009

An interview with Allah

With Eid festivities reaching their peak, I made my first visit to Mohammad Ali Road – the melting pot for majority of Mumbai’s ‘minority’.

While thousands of Muslims genuflected in front of Minara Masjid and felt the polluted exhausts of the evening traffic bless their bums, I had a chance to catch up with Allah. What followed was a candid chat about Islam, the possibilities of Google replacing God, the relevance of hardcore fundamentalism today and the perks of being the only God in the Muslim world.

Nothing much ya. You tell me.

Whoa! That’s a very Google chat kinda answer. You’ve signed up for a Gmail account?
Can’t say I wasn’t tempted. I’ve got a Wi-fi installed here. With so many Muslims now accessing the internet, makes sense to answer their queries online.

Hmm. My first visit to Mohammed Ali Road. Never seen so many Muslims praying together. Some faith, eh?
Yeah, I guess so. This period of fasting is a sort of cleansing process for the entire body and soul. It helps you start afresh, with a new zeal towards life.

I’m sure. But I kinda find this funny. Why is there such heavy police protection in this area? Since you’re God and all, aren't you enough to protect your devotees?
The cops are to ensure the smooth flow of traffic. And hey, it’s not that I called them here. Not my fault if some politicians spotted an opportunity in protecting their vote-bank. And c’mon, my friend Ganesha who goes for a swim every year to Chowpatty commands a lot more police protection! His procession creates chaos on the streets, disrupting traffic routes and everything!

And the morning after the visarjan, Ganesha gets washed ashore. The beaches are full of broken, distorted idols.
True. I’ve tried explaining this to Ganesha many times. The other day, I told him, “Bro, I know you’re elephant and all…but why do you make an ass of yourself by demanding a visarjan in the sea? Can’t you instill some sense in these millions of Maharashtrians who clog the city (and then our beaches) with this exercise? So much noise they make!” He replied saying that eco-friendly immersions are catching up, but it’ll take time. Sudden shift in behaviour can cause chaos riots, especially with Shiv Sena and MNS around. Swat a Maharashtrian fly and they'll riot!

Point noted. But hey, I noticed you called him ‘my friend Ganesha’. You know the elephant God well?
Of course! Why wouldn’t I? We’re both in the business of faith. I sell my wares differently. He does it in his own way. But yes, we do socialise. The other day, it was the three of us – me, Ganesha and Krishna – who went to the Kurkure Desi Beats Rock on with MTV auditions. Krishna is a great flautist you’d be aware. We also went to Blue Frog to bless Rajeev Raja, another wonderful flautist. Krishna says Raja is his own avatar in the making…

This is interesting. So you guys socialise! But you’re the only Muslim God and there are so many Hindu Gods. Don’t you feel a little left out? Minority issue?
Oh c’mon! I have more followers than the all Hindu Gods combined. Wait till you see me on Twitter. How can I be the minority? In fact, I’m the majority here! So I do command respect.

And you also have the largest market share. There are so many Hindu Gods, I don’t even know who is the market leader.
I’m not sure if market share is the right term, but I think we both agree on one thing. (blushes) Monopoly is exciting.

What do you have to say about the growing mass of people who are choosing to be atheists?
You know, its good you asked that question because honestly, a real man is one who makes it on his own without asking for my blessing every 10 minutes. My cellphone is beeping non-stop with wishes waiting to be fulfilled, ambitions waiting to be realised. It’s the listening part that is painful, not the fulfilling bit. At the end of the day, I help fulfill only those wishes which are sincere and the person has used hard-work, perseverance and honesty as the means to achieve them.

Ever felt like involving more Gods in your eco-system? (laughs) Are you hiring?
I think vocation Gods are the next big thing. Shiv is the God of dance. When Jack Nicholson dies, he’ll be the God of acting. A R Rahman, Lata Mangeshkar…I’ve already started ordering thrones for them.

Attrition amongst Gods is unheard of.
Hahahaha. Very funny.

Do you think its time Muslims came out of the ‘minority status’ image in India?
That should have happened long ago. But think about it - how is it going to help matters anyway? In the public eye, a Muslim continues to be treated as an outsider. How many Hindu-Muslim marriages happen in this country? When was the last time your parents were okay with you marrying a Muslim girl?

True. My mom says she'd hang herself if I married a Muslim.
See? In fact, the other day me and Krishna were at Leopold’s and he was eyeing a pretty lady at the next table. Her name was Salma and Krishna began playing his flute to catch her attention. It was an encouraging sign. Except that she shooed him away calling him a desperado. Turned out, she was Salma Hayek.

You’re kidding me!
Whatever she may be. But the larger point is – here’s a Hindu God who’s also on Facebook, can play the flute, watches YouTube videos daily and has a festival dedicated to him. And he doesn’t mind wooing a Muslim woman. It’s a great sign.

Does the Muslim world need a make-over? How about a marketing campaign?!
Bro, just because you write on advertising, do not assume that branding is the answer to all questions. Change has to come from within. After all, it's about being a good human being.

Millions across the world worship Google. And they believe in its powers more than they believe in you.
Interesting that you asked. Ganesha and me did have a discussion on this. I say, let’s wait and watch. As long as Google provides answers, its fine I guess. At the end of the day, its all about loving your parents.

Huh!? Where did that come from? That's a line from a Karan Johar film. You've seen K3G?

How? You got a TV connection up there?
Of course! Since cable doesn't work there, it's DTH. Direct-to-Heaven.

Neat. But tell me, Google is getting people an answer for almost everything. What does this mean for mankind?
Most of my devotees are still not yet familiar with Google. So that’s not such a matter of concern for me. Jesus may need to think harder about it.

What do you have to say about SRK’s detention at a US airport? He was questioned for two hours...
SRK is one of my finest followers. I bless him. And its unfortunate what happened. But a lot of good will come out of it. One of them will be the tremendous advance bookings for ‘My Name Is Khan’.

Okay, now I’m hungry. I'll head straight to the khau-gully here. I can already smell the kebabs and chicken tandooris. It was nice chatting up with you, Sir.
Same here, pal.

Can I add you on Facebook?
I’m not on Facebook. It’s banned in my area.