Thursday, April 19, 2007

Once upon a time in India – the bad guys


An elderly English man looks out the window from an office room at the imposing Fort Williams. ‘Look at this magnificent city. There isn’t another that is grander east of Suez. Look at the Square. Look at King George’s Bridge…’

After smoking his pipe a couple of times, he continues, ‘This used to be mangrove swamps you know, where tigers roamed. We built all this. All this, and the grandest Empire in history. The grandest you understand. And now some of these natives have the cheek, the affrontery to tell us to leave?’

He pauses, turns around, and asks the other man in the room, ‘What do you think?’

‘I do not follow Sir Mycroft.’ replies the younger man whose face is not seen.

‘Do you think we are taking a risk with Plan Balkan? Awful lot rides on this.’ Sir Mycroft Holmes Jr heads the Imperial Counterintelligence Commission (ICC) in India.

‘Plan Balkan has been approved by the Prime Minister himself Sir.’

‘Yes. Anyway, have you got any update for me on the chef situation? You know it’s not just another jailbreak?’

‘I am aware of the importance of the chef case Sir. Unfortunately there is no further development. There may however be a break in the Sholay case.’

‘Yes, go on.’

‘Everything is proceeding as planned. Both the big fish and the small potato has done their jobs, and I expect the case to be wrapped up in days.’

‘Excellent,’ Sir Mycroft taps his digits together, ‘we will need all resources to pull off Balkan, and these little matters should not come in the way. Very well then, if there is nothing else, I’d like to retire to the Club now.’

‘Yes sir,’ the other man salutes and leaves the room. His face is still not seen.


Sir Mycroft and his faceless companion are not the only people staring at the city. In the native part of the City, above a warehouse overlooking the ever-bustling Shyambazaar, stands Seth Magan Lal.
‘Sad, very sad. All this revolution talk. When my father was a young boy, oh I don’t know, hundred years ago, you could not travel ten miles in the countryside without being robbed by the thuggees. Who got rid of the thuggees huh? And now, all these crimes, not revolution, crimes pure and simple, they remind me of those stories of the bad old days I heard from my father.’ The Seth turns around, and looks at half a dozen or so men in the room, ‘I am not talking about myself. I don’t care if a few thousand rupees are gone.’

‘Whole fifty thousand, Sethji.’ says one of the men standing in the room.

‘Fifty thousand. No I don’t care about the money. It’s all Ramji’s grace. He takes away with one hand and gives it back with another.’ The Seth puts a paan in his mouth.

After spitting the paan remains in a silver spittoon, the Seth continues, ‘I have a feeling that with Ramji’s grace I’ll get my fifty thousand back soon. But more importantly, if everything goes according to plan, with Ramji’s grace all this revolution tamasha would be over soon. Ram knows it can’t end soon enough either. It’s bad for business, and what is bad for business is ultimately bad for common people.’ The Seth looks out through the window again.

What are the chef and Sholay cases? What is Plan Balkan? What sinister plan is the Seth hatching? How will the brothers face these bad guys?