WITH the Chief Magistrate of the Westminister Court anxious about ‘daylight’ conditions in Arthur Road Jail of Mumbai, where Vijay Mallya might be lodged if sent back to India, there is a deep focus on the jail architecture here. Though I have never been inside Barrack No. 12 of the infamous jail, I do hold a peep into jail interiors.
Some years ago when heading the school of architecture, I got a call from the CM saheb of Punjab. ‘Principal saheb tohade college di badi tareef suni hai (I have heard a lot about your college)’ the baritone voice of Mr Badal on the line. He wanted us to design model jails for Punjab. Since one doesn’t argue with CMs about lack of experience in the suggested field, we got down to the task in full earnest. In close coordination with the DG Prisons — arriving frequently with his large entourage of screaming Gypsys and red-beacon cars to the tranquil environs of the academia, raising much speculation amidst staff about my turn of fate — we first made a detailed report.
Finally, when our proposals were presented to the CM, he sat through them patiently and said: ‘Tussi to hun jailan vich expert ho gaye ho, magar mainu vee thora gyan hain’ (you have become an expert in jails, but I too have some knowledge), referring to his long incarceration. He shared some first-hand insights and asked us to provide good ‘daylight’ inside the premises and vocational training facilities too.
Perhaps to seal all possible escape routes by Mallya through British courts on the pretext of inadequate daylight, Punjab with its proverbial large-heartedness may offer to host the VIP guest here instead. All apprehensions about the lighting conditions of his future Indian home — the model jail of Punjab — would be fully laid to rest.
There will be other compelling reasons for Mallya to feel more at home here than in Mumbai. After all, this is the land where not only rivers of milk and honey flow, but also his own brew, the Kingfisher beer, along with other UB brands flow in abundance! On way to the jail, his king-sized heart will be further gladdened by the sight of the sea of ‘English Wine and Beer’ vends lining Punjab bazars, cheek by jowl with tandoori murgas dangling tantalisingly close by.
Moreover, if lodged in the Kapurthala Model Jail, he will not be too far from the skyline of the Doaba belt, where proud NRI homes flaunt their foreign connections by building miniature airplane modes atop rooftops. Even if modelled on Air India Boeings, Mallya would be less likely to miss his favourite hobby horse, the fleet of Kingfisher Airlines, here. In fact, if asked to do some mandatory jail work during his stay, he may be provided with balsa wood in the carpentry workshop to happily assemble aero-models of his fleet that is now grounded.
‘Jee ahain Mallya saheb’, Punjab beckons!
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