Monday, August 22, 2005
Music, when soft voices die ...
Late Sunday evening, after one round of adda at a bloggers’ meet in Crossword, I was slumped in a bean-bag with a tube of Pringles on my most prominent curve. And a vodka-with-bitters at my elbow.
The Correspondent was on his third whiskey, the Ad-man sipped a rum-and-coke and the Host a.k.a Pandit-jee (as distinct from Ustad-jee) scratched his chest in debauched fashion as he slurped at something-with-Bacardi.
The conversation was purple.
The Correspondent’s most commonly used forms of address for his colleagues are (depending upon the sex of his interlocutor) the Bangla equivalents of putain and hijo de puta (Thanks to my Colombian friend L, I know the cool way to pronounce the latter - hiyepooootah. There, now we all know. All together now … ).
Pandit-jee has been known to strip to the altogether in a hotel room (MY hotel room, as a matter of fact) and stroll over to the (floor-length) window to “look down the cleavage of the signoras".
The Ad-man is Rather Proper but tends to outline quite alarming film scenarios, such as a post-colonial take on the Story of the Milkman and the Benevolent Boudi*.
It’s sad when you laugh and half an ounce of vodka and lime goes down your nose to meet half a Pringle lurking in your throat.
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Pandit A** is a reputed classical musician held in wide regard. (OUR Pandit-jee [or Pj] is also a supremely talented and dedicated musician held in wide regard, but is much more famous for (a) being photographed with various women while wearing very tight striped trousers and (b) starring in a much-hyped film [produced by Ad-Man and Partner] on adultery.)
Pandit A* (or PA) has a heart of gold. He also has a wig. And very little English.
The second attribute caused some alarm and despondency among his friends when, during one very spirited tabla vaadana*1 on national television, it came adrift, rotated sideways so the parting ran from left to right, and lollopped with every jerk of his head.
After one bravura performance in the backwoods, PA had retired to sleep the sleep of the just in his room, which he was sharing with another senior musician. Who in the wee hours, went to the loo without his glasses, did what he had to do and reached up to flush. This was one of those old metal cisterns with a chain hanging down. The gentleman glanced up and had a blurred impression of a head reposing on the top of the cistern.
The “guest-house” was roused by his screams as he rushed out with the cord of his pyjamas woefully entangled with his poithey*2.
PA, shaken awake from his slumber, was most indignant that there should be such a fuss over his wig. Which he had lovingly washed with Surf Excel and put up to dry, draped over a plastic mug placed on the spot nearest the exhaust fan.
PA had a very dear Japanese disciple. So when he passed through Tokyo, he called her from the airport.
Whereupon his associate in Calcutta received an international call from a distraught M**ko, weeping buckets because her much-loved and respected Guruji had said he “wanted to sleep with her”. Fortunately, PA’s secretary had activated international roaming on his cell-phone, which made the following conversation (mostly translated from Bangla) possible.
Associate: A, have you gone mad?
Associate: Have you forsaken all morality? Didn’t you even think of (A’s wife)?
PA: (louder now) Ainh?!
Associate: How could you bring yourself to SAY this? You are her GURU, for pity’s sake! This is practically incest!
PA: (loud enough to drown out the PA system, and causing heads to turn) Incest?!!?! AINH?!?!
Associate: Even if you have no shame, have you no prudence whatsoever?! Do you realise you could be arrested for sexual harassment?
PA: (in high dudgeon) What nonsense is this? What are you talking about etc. etc. (while, presumably, interested bystanders were calling up Japanese manga artists on their cell-phones and aforesaid manga artists were boarding Bullet Trains towards Narita from all parts of Honshu)
Associate: M** just called me! Can you deny that you suggested that she have sex with you?!
Associate: What have you to say for yourself? This is shameful, disgraceful (add clichés to taste)
PA: WHAT did she tell you? Ainh?
Associate: (In English now) She said you called up and said you want to sleep with her!
PA: Of course I did! What is this nonsense about sex?!
Associate: You admit it! You said you want to sleep with her!
PA: (purple with rage now, as related by his accompanist) OF COURSE I said I want to sleep with her! My flight is delayed, I can’t afford a hotel, is it too much to ask to catch up on my sleep at M**’s apartment?!?!
Ze English, she ees too … discret? Timide? Non, c'est hypocrite!
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After midnight … Pj’s son needed a feed, so his (infinitely) better and purer-minded half was out of the room. Which, of course, was the opportunity for Ad-Man and Pj to “talk shop” with the Servant of All the World.
Pj: You’re a land shark now. Give us some land, *&%#”
J.A.P.: What would you do with land? Shoot another failed pondy?
A-M: Naaah, we have an idea for a fail-safe venture.
Pj: (nodding sagely) Ab-so-loot-ly guaranteed. We’ll give you a cut.
A-M (hurriedly) In kind, only in kind.
Pj: (with an air of earnest inquiry) You know what we mean, don’t you? Cut. C-U-T.
J.A.P.: Keu deye naa je.*3
Pj: Poor lad. Don’t worry, we’ll offer you a cut. (Voice building to theatrical crescendo) Two cuts. Twenty cuts!
(while the Correspondent smiled to himself and to his sixth whiskey...)
A-M: Seriously, you want enterprise, employment, success stories … guaranteed, boss, guaranteed.
Pj: (sonorously, in the manner of a High Priest announcing a Visitation) Service unit khulbo*4
Pj: Best in class
A-M: Six Sigma
Pj: We'll be Equal Ops employers, see? Babes, men, whatever.
A-M: Polthury ... porryl .. damn, POL-YUR-ETHANE dolls.
Pj: Donkeys, maybe. Animal rights and all that, why shouldn't they have their chance?
A-M: Even things from La M*t*n*. Ummm .. no, on second thoughts, we should draw the line SOMEwhere.. (dodges chicken bone thrown by Pj, proud alumnus)
Pj: Touch screens, holograms. Total right-click funda.
A-M: e-commerce model, right.
Pj: I’m telling you, it’ll be totally Net-savvy. First of its kind in India – tore toh Net holei holo, taai naa?*5
A-M: Major quality control, boss. We’ll get it under that Singapore CECA thing you mentioned, common standards.
Pj: Yes, EOU naa ki boley*6? Export Oriented Unit, that’s it.
Correspondent: (rousing himself from his reverie) But for Net bookings and payments …credit cards, credit cards, only credit cards accepted! No cash. Bhalo strategy, bujhli*7, we can get Visa and Mastercard to out-bid each other for the sponsorship.
J.A.P.: (as the dawn of a horrible suspicion glimmers over the horizon) WHAT is this super-hi-tech service enterprise?!
Pj: Brothel khulbo, boss. Tip-top, world-class, state-of-the-art ... brothel.
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At least Shudhakor*8 lived up to his name. The parathas and kosha mangsho*9 were superlative. Best in class. Perhaps even Six Sigma.
* - Boudi - Elder brother's wife. Colloquially, a young matron.
*1 - tabla vaadana - percussion recital
*2 - poithey - Brahmin's sacred thread, worn looped over the left shoulder and round the right side of the waist
*3 - Keu deye naa je - Nobody offers me (.. bribes, that is. Sagnik, now you know why I'm not rich)
*4 - khulbo - will open
*5 - tore toh Net holei holo, taai naa - all you need is the Internet angle, innit?
*6 - naa ki boley - whatchamacallit
*7 - Bhalo strategy, bujhli - Good strategy, gerrit?
*8 - Shudhakor - name, from Shudha = nectar / ambrosia, with karigar or artisan
*9 - kosha mangsho - a rich, spicy mutton curry, or, Shudhakor's shudha
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NB: Learning from Bloggers' Meet - there's a sign on the inside of the loo door at Crossword. So when you're walking out with a sigh of relief, you learn that "This store is under electronic surveillance". Yipes.
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