Once upon a time there lived an elephant. A lumbering elephant that while friendly and prone to helping people on their journeys of self discovery, was in essence, lumbering.
It moved slow. Some said that it moved at only 6%. Whatever that meant. It wore clothes made of woven red tape and drank deeply from the poisoned wells of inspector raj and excessive government regulation. As its health began to fade, those around it, started making arrangements for its imminent demise.
But its death was not ordained. At least not then. In 1991, a sickly looking turbaned mahout turned around and used his sharp tool to snip away bits of his red tape outfit. Racier now, in more ways than just sartorial, the elephant put away its jugs of erstwhile drink, and tentatively sipped a heady brew from a rather ‘foreign’ looking shiny new fountain.
The fountain propitiously turning into one that dispensed youth, the elephant was now much friendlier than before. To the extent of promiscuity even., if you believed some of the followers of a certain Herr Marx. It made foreign friends. Many foreign friends. They came bearing gifts of friendship. The elephant frolicked.
Its mahout and his many mahouts also partook of the glory while the many millionaires spawned by this new found openness also fathered many questionable ways to do business. The new soon became the old. As the 90`s wore on though open and all, the elephant was soon over taken by the Tigers. “They were agile” ,said one of the once fawning foreigners. ” They were open’er’ ” ,said another. And so on.
The Tigers then lost one or two of their feline nine lives. At which point the foreign friends no longer behaved as if they were estranged. They came again and the elephant was content, Time having healed the wounds of previous rebuff.
As 2000 came, The Dragon was every body’s darling. Infact some of the elephants own left it and set up shop with The Dragon. The Dragon was much larger. It had only one master. There was no mahout. It bowed only to the fire God. And that God seemed to be in his belly. The Dragon moved with lightning speed. The elephant gaped, legs akimbo, trunk awry. The Dragon Fury tore across borders, across industries, across everything that the elephant had thought sacred or unattainable or both.
The foreigners then made their peace. They liked The Dragon more than the elephant. Infact so much so that the elephant was not even a distant second but a second only because there were just two remaining. Like an ugly girl is the second most beautiful one after a waif like angelic girl in a room of just two women, the elephant was the fall back.
This didn’t perturb the elephant though. On the contrary. And how. The elephants story got spoken about as if The Dragon didn’t exist. Some even said that the elephant was more robust, more real than The Dragon.
The elephant was drunk on flattery and believed that no one could stop it. All elephant people with homes instantly saw their houses become worth fabulous amounts. Any elephant person with stock strutted his stuff as if Kuber had emptied most of the worlds worldy possessions in their outstretched hands and filled their new French and Italian purveyed pockets. Cars which costed as much as the newly expensive homes crowded streets where once rickshaws had lazily sauntered.
Invincible, the elephant and its people made grandiose plans. They even went and bought treasures from the foreigners and made them their slaves. Epic takeover battles were fought. And won. The foreigners flocked like flies. The elephant oozed the self confident syrup that is so salacious for anyone with the merest hint of fly in him.
The elephant people who built homes borrowed from the elephant people who lent money. Money became something off an all you can eat buffet table compared to the carefully doled out blessing/sacrament by the high preists of finance. The priests like in many temples, were less than pure themselves. And now, partaking of the happy orgy of debt they lent of themselves and their followers like a woman lends of herself to the one she loves. There was no love here though.
Frenzied greed and that foreign term – irrational exuberance. Not that the Elephant knew that. It rolled in the warm hay and bathed in cool water. It shone like a thousand, sorry, billion light bulbs and all the elephant people basked in the warm afterglow.
Then in 2008, disaster struck the foreigners, when their orgy, as always bigger and better than the elephant`s, suddenly ended when it drew not just virginal blood. As news spread within the elephant people, large office complexes that were once tickets to sure wealth, turned into white…you guessed it – elephants. The salaries that grew like breasts overfed on silicon suddenly shriveled. And jobs that you couldn’t fill for love or for money were no longer available for sweat or much less money.
But the elephant said that it was decoupled. And as the Bard said -a lie oft repeated becomes a truth. So the elephant people pushed aside all of the foreign dirty linen into hastily manufactured unreliable new washing machines.
Like all of us, the elephant wanted to believe in its own truth. The only difference was, that it was a bunch of lies. Not that the truth about the lies mattered anymore. The elephant turned its ample back on the truth/lies about truth and started running again. This time though, it would have failed most sporting tests designed to detect unnatural performance enhancing drugs that more often than not cause long term damage.
The party had well and truly started again. Credit once again flowed like the Ganges, plentiful though carrying the ashes of the dead in it. Confidence, that was the word they used. Everyone was confident. Atleast everyone showed it. All was well (cue ominous music).
As it came to the second half of 2011, the elephant often complained of stomach cramps, then with increasing frequency of serious indigestion. In its hubris, its ego had grown beyond its own elephantine proportions and it refused to believe that it, the glorious, unstoppable, unsatiable elephant had not only bitten off more than it could chew, but that it was a bite of manna that was now rancid.
‘Policy paralysis’ the foreigners said crinkling their noses at the stench that now emanated from the elephant. The elephant hopelessly wallowed in its own faeces and looked away. It even made a half hearted attempt to lie itself out of the hellhole it was now in. But the devil is unforgiving. More so the devils of hubris and excessive debt and like always the latter follows the former.
As once proud, too proud corporate edifices crumbled and flamboyant, flashy dirty old men were brought underwater from up in the air and political skeletons tumbled out of closets like souls of the butchered from Idi Amin’s killing fields, the elephant sank deeper into the now hot, infested insect ridden swamp of its own half digested vomit.
The political clowns ostensibly led by the very same, sickly mahout claimed that it was all temporary and the elephant would frolick once again. This time though, they had the decency to not even act as if they believed the hogwash they were spewing. As the elephants currency today touches a record low, happily ever after seems like a gigantic lie. Almost as gigantic as an elephant.