Dummy’s guide to Shoeing

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: