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'We will spend as little as possible. We'll take enough theplas and khakras to eat for the stay. Fred will arrange the stay. Think about it man, the Australian cricket team,' Ish said. I sat down and sighed. My financially clueless partners looked at me like kids waiting for candy. 'All right. Who is the bloody travel agent, let me bargain with him,' I said. 'Yes, here we go,' Ish said as he dialled the agent's number. 'One week, I can't leave the business anymore and everyday will be expensive there,' I said as I took the phone. Omi disconnected the phone. 'Later, let's go to Nana Park now,' Omi said. ★

Twice. They dug up the Ayodhya site twice.' Mama raised two lingers. His voice echoed, more due to the poor quality of loudspeakers than the impact of his words. Ish and I sat at one end of the first row. Omi stood on stage. He felt important wearing a party badge, though he only had an errand-boy status. His responsibilities included placing mineral water bottles for everyone sitting on the stage. Mama had done a good job of publicity. Two hundred people had shown up, not bad for a neighbourhood gathering. The candidate, Hasmukh-ji, a veteran of state politics and a longtime associate of Parekh-ji, sat centrestage. Mama was enjoying his five minutes of mike fame before Hasmukh-ji's speech. 'As far back as 1978, ASI, the government's own entity, found temple evidence. But the secular government hid it. Then in 1992, our dear kar sevaks were pushed into breaking the structure. And they found something.' Ish started cracking knuckles, punctuating Mama's words. 'They found a Hari-Vishnu inscription that established without doubt that there was a temple in the past. But the secular party buries that news, too. The focus shifts to the kar sevaks as vandals. But what about that evidence? Can a Hindu in India demand justice or not? Where should we go? To America?' Everyone applauded as Mama left the stage. Mama had candidate potential, I thought. Hasmukh-ji came to the mike. He requested everyone to close their eyes to say the Gayatri Mantra, thrice. It always worked. The crowd became involved. They liked Hasmukh-ji before he had spoken a word. Omi stepped off the stage and came to me. 'Govind, Mama wants you to spy on Ali's dad's rally. And Ish, can you come backstage, the snacks need to be distributed.' 'But why?' I was bewildered. 'You promised to help Mama, remember?' Omi said, his silk badge fluttering in the breeze. I walked over to the other end of the park, to the other rally, The decorations here were less saffron and more white. 'Gujarat is a place of intelligent people,' Ali's dad was speaking, 'who know politics and religion are separate.' I took a seat in the last row and eyeballed the crowd. Unlike Mama's hundred per cent Hindu, this was more of a mixed bunch, If the secular party was so proMuslim as Mama suggested, why were so many Hindus sitting here?

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