In the age of T-20 style elections -- instant opinion, shoot and scoot polls and parachute reporting -- it is increasingly difficult to confidently predict an Indian election outcome. That Indian elections have become more competitive and are literally fought booth by booth makes predictions even more hazardous. Which is why I would rather not use a whistle-stop four day journey through Madhya Pradesh's crucial Malwa-Nimar belt to definitively suggest which way the 'hawa' is blowing across India's second largest state in terms of area.

In the age of 24x7 breaking news, even ‘scams’ have a limited shelf-life. If June was dominated by every tweet and soundbite of a Lalit Modi, July has seen the Vyapam issue become a screeching headline. On the face of it, you couldn’t have two more different plots: One, a story of how a cavalier businessman in self-exile in London was getting special favours from the country’s high and mighty, the other, a murderous tale set in the remote districts of Madhya Pradesh. And yet, the two stories have a common thread that unites: How the ‘system’ is compromised for private benefit at different levels by the country’s power elite.

So Narendra Modi has finally landed in America to much hype and excitement more than a decade after his last visit. And my mind rewinds to the year 2000 when I was covering another Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to the US. Vajpayee didn't have a schedule quite as packed as Mr Modi, nor was he as voluble

Every time I take a long international flight, my admiration for seafarers increases. Think of the long months and years that the Columbus and Vasco D Gamas spent discovering new lands and frontiers. By contrast, I have still made it to New York in less than a day and am still fretting over a jet lag.

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