Sunday, July 17, 2005
Three vodkas with tonic, large. Two Laphroaig, very large. One glass filled with Peach Schnapps, vodka and Bacardi, quite foolhardy.
Three hours’ sleep, thanks to Very Small Person coming awake at 6 a.m.
But a long long evening from 20 years ago, in-jokes and expletives, the warmth that comes from laughing with friends (though the Laphroaig played its part) and adda.
Condoms in the Jampot summer. The divide between the finance wing and the rest of the organization. Torch-light on crocodile eyes. Whether Michelangelo was the Maradona of the Sistine Chapel team. And no, no blog-talk.
Learning curve …
Check qualifications before delegation. As B learnt in the course of a tag-team wooing. The friendly lady bestowed her favours upon A.H. in the back seat of a Fiat (yes, a Fiat, A.H. is a small man) tooling down the Strand Road and round the Maidan, late one rainy night in the ‘80s. Came B’s turn to pleasure the lady and A took the wheel.
Except that A had never learnt to drive. “Boss, coming together is f**ing impossible when a f***ing maniac is driving your Pop’s car on the f***ing Hastings Road divider!”
Familiarise with the job responsibilities. “My first fricking visit after we were married, he should have carried me over the threshold for Chrissake, and what do I find? His flat-mate opens the door wrapped in a gamchha and there’s a f**king ant-hill in the middle of the bathroom!” Sheepish explanation – “We each cleaned our own rooms, we’d be damned if we’d clean the common area”. Hence a mushroom growing out of the kitchen counter, in addition to the ant-hill in the bathroom.
Check out the immediate environment. “Look f***er, don’t get any ideas about midnight swims when you visit us, OK? First time I thought I’d take a dip after dinner, I went down by torch-light. Good thing I shone the torch on the water after I’d shucked the towel …. Maaaan, there were EYES everywhere! Crocs, man, effin’ great hungry crocs!” “Right, and you’d taken my sons in there with you that morning, you jerk! You know we ran the video later and there was a croc IN the water when they were swimming!” Sheeshh (this was their holiday up in the Amazon basin).
Develop client-specific solutions. “Boss, when she gets mad I just split. I come back after a few hours and she’s usually cooled off. Otherwise she might swing at me with a bottle. A full bottle.” (To do the speaker justice, he’s not a physical coward. He was just pained at the thought of his beloved malt going waste). “Me, I have it easy. All I have to do when she’s mad is to scratch her back. It’s hard for her to stay angry when she’s saying ‘A little to the left .. no, up a bit.’”
Internalise your professional role. "Before I became CFO I was ***da. Then suddenly I was this pariah, man - EVERYbody hates the Finance guys! After a while I decided I just didn't give a big rat's ass - remember Battle Cry? - and if they expected me to be an a**hole, dammit I'd be an a**hole. Grown out of that now." "Yes, except at home, darling." Glance round, silence, long swig.
Make adjustments for local conditions (Jamshedpur, circa 1990). “No ACs, no coolers, we were on the top floor, we’d pour water on the floor and try to go to sleep before it dried. You know the gochi?! Condoms frickin’ MELT in 45 degree heat, why do you think J was born so early!?”
Get the right perspective. Remember the Phantom’s Great Treasure Cave and Minor (or was it Lesser?) Treasure Cave? The Vatican Museum drew the analogy. Incredibly valuable stuff (five-foot Dresden china doll-house, a portrait of a dead Pope done entirely in semi-precious stones) lying in the corridor, the locked cabinets are for manuscripts and maps and signed artworks. Some of the greatest treasures are right up there – check out this ceiling.
About the perspective. Are the Caravaggio and Botticelli paintings in the Sistine Chapel of lesser value than Michelangelo’s work? This might be a tough question for an art expert, but for a layman like me it's a no-brainer. Signor Buanorotti was the Renaissance art world’s equivalent of the Tiger Woods of 2001. The house concurred. We moved to the next item on the agenda. (If my memory serves me right, it was “What are you guys, f***in’ siphons? Who finishes a litre of Laphroaig in two f***in’ hours?”)
Work within your limitations. Translation: if you must go overboard with the booze, carry Aspirin and drink lots of water.
Oh well, I’ve had the weekend to recover.