Build Me A Rainbow


If I were a rich man,
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.
If I were a wealthy man.
I wouldn’t have to work hard.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were a biddy biddy rich,
Yidle-diddle-didle-didle man.

I’d build a big tall house with rooms by the dozen,
Right in the middle of the town.
A fine tin roof with real wooden floors below.
There would be one long staircase just going up,
And one even longer coming down,
And one more leading nowhere, just for show.

I’d fill my yard with chicks and turkeys and geese and ducks
For the town to see and hear.
Squawking just as noisily as they can.
With each loud “cheep” “swaqwk” “honk” “quack”
Would land like a trumpet on the ear,
As if to say “Here lives a wealthy man.”

If I were a rich man,
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.
If I were a wealthy man.
I wouldn’t have to work hard.
Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
If I were a biddy biddy rich,
Yidle-diddle-didle-didle man.

— From the musical Fiddler On The Roof

Had Topol known the extent of extra-constitutional powers enjoyed by builders in modern India’s cities, he would have probably sung a slightly different set of words for this famous musical. Attacking women, defenceless men, elderly citizens keen on preserving the ecological balance is the only vocabulary builders use to counter dissent. But, how come they’ve got away each time?

Obviously, the political apparatus has been co-opted full time. In Bombay, the builder-politician-mafia nexus has been thriving for years. But, earlier, builders knew how to keep their distance, and rarely got into the public spotlight. They were seldom seen, never heard. But, today they want their pictures printed, aspire to celebrity status and even crave for recognition. Their daughters and sons want a piece of the Bollywood action too. Any dissenting voice is seen as a threat to this sublime equilibrium and needs to be silenced, even if it is with brutal force.

Their deep pockets have ensured a safe passage every time. One builder, accused of short-changing the state revenue department by deliberately mis-stating the area of the apartments he’s been selling for years, even crowed to fellow builders that the hullabaloo would quieten down soon after some money was spent – on politicians and on newspaper advertisements! Like the famous playwright Noel Coward said so fittingly: “The higher the buildings, the lower the morals.”
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