Apropos nothing, let me talk about alternate history — you know, those fantastic tales where this or that even had or had not happened, leading to a very, or not so very, different history.
As the regular readers would know, there are at least two such series, perhaps three, running in this blog where Bengal, or India, had never been partitioned, or where partition had meant a different kind of Pakistan. There was even a post about had there been a battle in Plassey. But when it comes to the subcontinent, the big alternative history subject is about Mughal Empire continuing on beyond the 17th century. Since the Empire exhausted itself during Aurangzeb’s reign, perhaps had his brother Dara Shikoh had been the emperor, things might have been different?
The tale of brave Alvarez
Young man, what’s your age? Twenty-two? When you were just a toddler, back in 1889, that’s when my story begins. I was prospecting for gold beyond the forest and the ranges to the north of the Cape Colony. I was young then, and cared for no danger.
I started from Bulawayo, alone, with two donkeys carrying my luggage. I crossed the Zambezi, beyond which the maps were marked with the words ‘unknown region’. I’d cross rolling hills, tall grasses, small Bantu villages. Then eventually Bantu villages became less frequent. I had reached a place that was never before visited by a white man.
Wherever I saw a river or creek, or a hill, I looked for gold. How many had become rich in the southern part of Africa with gold or diamond? I had heard those tales since when I was a little boy. That’s what I came to Africa for. But I found nothing in two years of roaming around. Two years of hardship, and nothing to show for it. Actually, once I came very close.
So Barack Obama has been re-elected as the
Emperor of the World President of the United States. Cool. I guess I should do a post, just to mark the occasion.
The thing is, until very late in the game, I couldn’t get excited about this election. You see, until the first debate, betting markets consistently had Obama as the odds on favourite. And on most issues, I agree with the president’s politics. So what was there to get excited about? It’s not like any of this would ever happen.
Then, for a while after the first debate, it looked like things could shake up a bit. Except it didn’t. By mid-October, the betting market had gone back to portraying Obama as the favourite. And yesterday, the votes reflected the punters’ expectations.
But imagine if Obama had a better first debate? Would that have led to a landslide? Imagine if Michelle Obama had cut the president’s tie?