It took some 4 odd months, but finally the international sport of ‘shoeing politicians’ has arrived in India. At a press conference today, Indian home minister (P Chidamdaram aka PC) quite effortlessly missed a shoe that was hurled at him by a Sikh journalist named Jarnail Singh. The white shoe flipped over his right side and it never seemed to threaten him at all. The hurler also looked frail and not intimidating enough, he never raised a hue and cry, pre or post the act. He even walked away with the plainclothes policemen quite willingly. As if it was something that he was happy to get over with. On the other hand, PC had a benign smile on his face, and asked the security guys to escort the hurler ‘gently’.
This isn’t the first time that someone decided to hurl a projectile at someone else. Through the ages, humans have been hurling things at each other, it started with pebbles, stones, branches, abuses, arrows, sticks, blames, projectiles, spears, knives, rockets, missiles, boomerangs, flowers, eggs, tomatoes, dishes, cellphones, and so many other things imaginable and unimaginable. Yet, the shoeing business is a rather recent invention.
December 14, is the red letter day in the history of shoeing, when a journalist with Al-Baghdadia Channel, Muntazer-al-Zaidi, hurled his footwear at President George Bush in Iraq. In fact, he hurled two of his shoes and but for the agility and reflex action of Jr. Bush, at least one would have hit him for sure. Zaidi was also smart enough to denigrate Bush, even while taking aim and releasing the shoes, ensuring that the world at large knew his reasons even if it did not agree.
Fortunately for Zaidi, Bush was at the nadir of his popularity and became a butt of ridicule, even though he ducked the shoes magnificently. Bush even joked about the incident in his characteristic bushy way. Sadly, for Bush, it was Zaidi who became the hero overnight, especially in the Islamic world. There were protests across different countries for him to be released from prison, some one offered him a car, one person his daughter and a Libyan channel offered him a job. Shoeing was not all that bad, after all.
Zaidi had many emulators, sometime back a disgruntled German student Martin Jahnke hurled an old sneaker at Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Shoes have also been chucked at the US consulate in Edinburgh and at the gates of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Downing Street office. There was another one hurled at Israel’s ambassador to Sweden as he gave a speech at Stockholm University. And now PC’s name is added to the illustrious list, thanks to a frail Sikh with a bad aim.
The one thing that is common to all these incidents is that all the shoers (the shoe hurlers, so as to say) were unable to hit the target even though they had the benefit of surprise element. No leader expects a shoe flying across at him when he is offering platitudes to the world at large. Except for Zaidi, no one else came remotely close to hitting the target. In fact, none of the above seemed to want to hit their targets either.
Now that is a real tragedy, after all the shoer will have to pay a dear prize in spite of all the accolades or praises that he receives. Take Zaidi’s case, he has lost 3 years of his life and when he comes out people will be too distracted to bother about a Bush shoer. So is the case with Jahnke. Jarnail Singh meanwhile has been lucky, the country is going through general elections and the no politicians want to be seen as harsh and rude. Thus, PC displayed gandhigiri by forgiving Singh. All are not so lucky.
Hence, if you are a prospective shoer and want to make a point, ensure that you do a good job of it. What is the use of wasting time behind bars and not even hitting the target? So for all at large, here is a dummy’s guide to shoeing:
- Choose target wisely
The first and most important aspect to do is to shortlist a target. Not only the target but also the timing. It is very important to choose the target after much deliberation. Don’t go out there and hurl the shoe at the first person that comes across you. Zaidi had done a brilliant job, Jarnail Singh hasn’t. What has poor PC got to do with Sikh Riots, and he has barely been a home minister for a few months. If you really want to hurl a shoe why not on Jagdish Tytler itself. Timing plays a crucial role too, now in that aspect Singh is lucky. Since, it is election time, he got away cheaply.
- Throw to hit
If you are throwing a shoe, why not hit the target. More often than not, shoers are not really passionate about their targets. They just want to make a point, register their protest, hitting or not is immaterial. This very attitude takes the sting out of the shoe. When you throw a shoe, do as if your life depends on it. It should be done in a manner, your grandchildren will retell the tale to their friends. That can only happen if you hit the target. Think like a footballer, who is about to kick the ball and tries to outwit the goalie. Here the target is the goalie itself and there are a lot of defenders around, you need to outwit them all. Thus, while you are waiting for the opportune time to lash out at the victim, visualise the ways he could duck and how he could evade. And finally when you hurl the footwear, consider all the options and throw it with passion. Also, always keep a backup, remove your second shoe as well. In case you miss with the first one, attempt with the second before you are dragged to the floor.
- Take position
Where you are seated or standing is crucial in shoeing. Zaidi was sitting some rows back, so he had the liberty to fling his arms widely, while Singh was sitting in the front row, so all he could do was plop. Also keep in mind where the cameras are located, because after the incident, the news channel will be running special programs where every frame will be freezed and discussed threadbare in the studio. There will be experts from every field possible, from disc throwers to psychiatrists who will debate your intent and ability and then pass judgements. While there will be silly buffoons of reporters who will try and recreate the scene for the newschannels. Thus, ensure that you are seated in a position from where you can hit out at the target (usually from a distance) but also are completely visible to the cameras.
- Shout it out
This is the most important aspect of shoeing. Shout aloud. Pick up a slogan or rather make it and just before hurling the shoe scream. This might have a dual effect, first all the cameras will immediately pan to you and hence the action will be captured well. Secondly, there is a chance that the victim might freeze in horror for a second or two, giving the necessary advantage. Also, since the videoclip will be played a million times over, your message will be effectively spread. This also might help build your case with the public. So give the message a deep thought and then use it at the very moment.
- Yogic power
To be able to hit a running or rather shifting target it is very important that you are very calm yourself. Even though, it might be the momentous moment in your life, you need to be calm and composed. For the same do 15 Surya namashkaars every morning, and half an hour of pranayams. You could also look at doing Kapal Bhatti, the thing with the stomach taken inside, that Baba Ramdev keeps talking about all the time. Also, your diet must be such that it gives you power and peace. Thus migrate to a high-protien vegetarian diet. All these steps will help you even in jail, when you are locked up all alone, Yoga can come to your rescue.
Remember the old proverb, practice makes a man perfect. It is indeed true, there is just no substitute for practice.You cannot hope to hit the target, if you have no practice of throwing shoes previously. So, practice is very important. You can start doing so at home, take the help of your family and friends and try to hit them with your shoe. If they don’t like being hit by a shoe, explain it to them and try to win them over with your arguments. If they still don’t understand, then just go ahead and try to hit them nonetheless, by trying to duck it they will be helping you get better. Surprise them at odd hours and time, just hit them when they least expect it (like your target). For instance, your wife brought you a cup of tea and is smiling at you, pick a shoe and wallop her. The only problem with hitting wife with a shoe is the danger of severe retribution. There is a distinct possibility that you will be hit with a lot of other things, so be prepared.
- Why only shoe?
And finally, lets come to the very basic of all the points. You want to make a point, you want to embarass the target, you want to become a hero. So why should your choice be limited to a shoe. Over the past few months, shoers have become rather predictable. In fact, everytime a politician goes on a dias, he expects a couple of shoes being hurled at him. Thus, don’t merely limit yourself to a shoe. There are lot of other things on your person that can be hurled, starting from book, pen, watch, spectacles, belt, buckle, mike, wallet, etc. You can even be imaginative in your choices, imagine hitting a politician with your sweaty underwear, what can be worse than that. So just because others are shoers, why do you have to be one? Why not be a Undiers? Or a Walleters? Or something to that effect.
These are the very basic things that you can do to make a point and ensure that it is well made. There are lot of other things that you can do before-hand, and after-hand. For instance, it always pays to befriend a lawyer (even though it is impossible to befriend one). You could also make small videos explaining why you did what you did and have them posted on your blog or on Youtube.
In any case, you should be making some sort of financial arrangement for your family as you might be gone away for a long time. But then, all these are minor inconveniences when it comes to doing the right thing. There is no greater merit in the world then being a shoer. History will always remember you, if you find success and even if you don’t you will at least be a history-sheeter. In any case, it is a win-win scenario. So, best of luck and happy shoeing.