People should know better than to delete their blogs when they go away.
Everybody wants to come back SOME time.
My heroine of the week is Bina Ramani . I have little idea why it is necessary to arrest a witness who is not charged as an accessory after the fact, but I totally love the idea of her staying cool with Chanel in the lock-up. Can we extend this to other areas of public life? Air fresheners in buses? Autos? The press room in Writers Buildings on any afternoon when the Assembly is not in session?
I’ve often wondered what would be the toughest part about being arrested. Given pen and paper, I think I could survive the other tribulations (except being beaten up, I never could get to accept that even though it happened often enough since Cls. 4, when I cheeked one of the Chinese seniors from technical school and got my glasses slapped half-way across the badminton court). You know what would give me grief? The loos. There is no way I can be happy if I have to use a dirty loo. Given the parsimonious outlook of jail administrators, it is a given that the loos won’t be clean. I hope I never get arrested.
 Link will follow when the Telegraph site is up again.
Disappointment yesterday evening. Lokkhoner Shoktishel at the Gyan Manch, a Sukumar Ray classic that I last saw performed almost 30 years ago. I remember it as side-splittingly hilarious. But then one was more easily amused at that age. In any case, it’s the kind of script that, if read well, can be played for a barrel of laughs. This time round, I thought there was just too much tweaking, it was just too referential and “I’m-so-khoo”. This play lies in the spoken lines and unfortunately some of the players were indistinct. Can’t afford to ignore the basics. Overall, “disappoooointmeeeent!” (whips out pistol and fires two shots into safe … how many of the Beavis and Butthead generation have seen “A Fish called Wanda”? Sublime Pythonisms.)
BUT but but .. having been rather nasty, I must say that SOME people impressed, including someone who (I'd hitherto thought) is too young to carry off a Little Black Dress. Another known face  lurked backstage but was cheered the most during the curtain call. The director did a rubber-jointed cameo in the first scene. This affected his voice projection but impressed the shit out of me, especially the bit where he stayed upside down for the longest while and Ram  addressed his upthrust posterior. Oh, and Hanuman (Ritam?) totally rocked in Circuit Warsi mode. That’s an idea .. how about Munnabhai meets the Mahabharat? (Or the Ramayana, as the case may be, but that’s not so alliterative).
Incidentally, we arrived far too early for the show and had to hang around (and perspire gently) in the lobby for a bit. Then we found the hall door open and drifted in to enjoy the air-con. Lo and behold, there was a rehearsal in progress. With show-time a mere half-hour away? I know the feeling. Before enlightenment (i.e., giving up all hope of academic excellence), I too used to have these last-moment mugga (= swot) sessions before term exams, as we walked up from the assembly hall to class. So there we were, enjoying the cliquey feeling of actually being in on the last rehearsal, occasionally waving back (nonchalantly) at certain theatre people who (incredulously) espied us in the seats (the hall lights were up). Until a suave young gentleman all in black came and threw us out into the sweaty wilderness again. I was most impressed by his persistence and panache. A pleasure being chucked out by you, Bikram (I think). We must do it again some time.
 The portrayal of Ram as an effete poseur was one of the things that appealed to me. I mean, how fake does a guy have to be before he ditches a wife who stuck with him through 14 years of shitty married life in the jungle, with a brother-in-law tagging along to put paid to their privacy, sundry vamps chasing after her husband and she doesn't know whether he's getting some on the side when he claims to be out slaying demons - and all for the sake of public opinion?
Besides, if Sita had to prove that she hadn't been romping with Ravana, what about Surpanakha, eh? What had Ram done anyway that made her so nuts about him? Double standards. And don't even get me started about
 which tastes even better when doggy-bagged and eaten at breakfast, doused in herb-infused olive oil and more melted cheese
Where do you do your reading? Propped up on a pile of pillows in the dark, the lamp focused just off the page so you don’t get blinded by the light bounce? In an armchair, feet up on the table, with a glass or a bowl of munchies close to hand? Or on the pot, locked in from the world and undisturbed (until a Small Person starts banging on the door and asking, “Papa, WHAT are you doing”)?
Different locations, different reading. Different times of day. One of the nicest feelings in the world is to wake up in the dark before dawn because I’m excited about a book. To light the lamp (and keep it shaded so I don’t wake up Certain Other People) and lie back against the pillows, turning the pages till first light filters through the curtains and the Resident Moron is kind enough to bring me my coffee. Such a thrill.
Somehow it’s more satisfying to start the day with a long read than to end it in bed with a book. Bedtime is our own time, after all. We’re supposed to read ourselves to sleep. Of course, I love that too. It’s a wrench when I realise that sleep cannot be denied any longer and I have to put the bookmark in, put the book away and switch off the light. The morning read, however, is pure indulgence. A hint of sin … avoiding the morning run, the gym, the planning of work for the day, all for the love affair with the printed word. Blissful. Last night and this morning it was Terry Pratchett, The Night Watch. These days, Sam Vimes is definitely who I want to be. (I flatter myself that we have little bits in common. No, I do not wear a helmet or smoke panatellas. Or elbow people in the nose. At least, not any more.)
The next stop is the Undisturbed (well, almost) Read. I do not subscribe to The Economist or the EPW, all I read is India Today and Outlook. (Those nauseating supplements on the world’s most expensive watches and what the designers eat for brunch? The Very Small Person reads those. When she really learns to read, I shall throw them off the balcony.) And oh, another retro publication. TIME magazine. Standard reading On the Pot.
The Throne has its own unique pleasures. In terms of reading, that is. But reading on the pot is like canapés. Bite-sized pieces. A novel or a treatise does not belong in The Room where Everybody Goes. Magazines are ideal. Articles fit into mouthfuls of time. Or languid books, books of rambles and anecdotes and musing and little bits of sniping. Currently, Auberon Waugh’s Way of the World and Peter Mayle’s Encore Provence.
An important question – are newspapers best savoured on the pot? Personally, I’d say no. The morning papers are best savoured lying in bed, the curtains opened so the morning light pours in, the supplements spread out around the coffee tray. The Throne is for “some few to be tasted”.
And where does one read books that require a little more application? My place is in my study, sprawled in my treadle chair (my feet up on my rocking footstool, such delight), perhaps with my pipe beside me for the tactile pleasure when I clean it and go back over something that needs thinking through. Rarely do I read novels there (one exception being Kostova’s The Historian, read through one long Saturday when I was alone at home). Right now? The Argumentative Indian. Heavy stuff. Our good doctor is, after all, an academic. The donnish style is rarely transmuted into the story-telling lucidity of John Ronald Ruel or Feynman.
One last refuge of pleasure. Some afternoons in office, when I’m fed up of meetings and negotiations and union demands, I switch on the “Busy” light, reach back over my left shoulder for something from the bookshelf and bid the world goodbye for a while. A book that I wouldn’t make time for otherwise (The Mammaries of the Welfare State, such a poor encore after English, August) or again, something I can dip into and mull over. (Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue, a delight when taken in small doses).
There is, of course, one more kind of reading that has increasingly eaten into my time. To the extent that I consciously limit it to twice a week.
 In my college days, my room was up on the terrace. The bathroom had the Pot with the Smallest Hole in the World. When I was enthroned, my great-aunt (rest her soul) would come up to water her roses and INVARIABLY ask through the door “What are you doing in there?” Excuse me? What the hell do you think I’m doing in here? Building a robot? Negotiating peace in the
There was a time when I was sixteen and my creative juices overflowed like nobody’s business
Which led to a high turnover in hankies, not to mention a certain dizziness
But more than groaning, more than spots, more than the tendency to turn red and make small yipping noises when my wife-to-be wore her corduroy pants,
More than the inability to actually appreciate anything other than doggerel such as Ogden Nash writing about the inner angst of industrious ants,
More than just about anything else, this embarrassing
Excess of hormonal productivity led to my harassing
Certain unfortunate classmates with poetry. Or what I called poetry because
I didn’t care to admit that as a poet I was a total loss.
Because I tried to Use Big Words and I tried to Sound Profound
Neither of which makes much sense when one is the most superficial sod around.
And I tried to be clever and I tried to be witty
And other stupid people encouraged me, more’s the pity.
So I spent five years or so doing very stupid things like entering for competitions in creative writing
When I should have been busy with healthy uncomplicated male things, like hitting a ball or scratching myself in public or just fighting.
This had several side-effects, all of them unfortunate.
Where I should have been comparatively carefree and occasionally (in my pleadings with ladies, for example) importunate,
I ended up with intellectual ambitions and an air of being constipatedly superior
Which did nobody any good and gave me the general demeanour of a sat-upon posterior
As time wore on I realised that I would never be a Nobel Prize contender
In fact I could not even aspire to be an Asian-Age-short-story-competition pretender
So, albeit reluctantly, I stopped mass-producing merde and switched to more productive things
Like exams, passing and job, getting (one may “pliss excoos” this lapse into rhyme-scheme, for the purpose of, words-backwards-putting)
For years thereafter I was this nice dull file-pusher and my life was comparatively placid.
Then I discovered the Internet and it was like a large injection of formic acid.
Quite apart from Google searches for … well, never mind,
And the subsequent subconscious guilt pangs and fears of going blind,
This business of surfing when I should have been working did not augur
Well. Ere long, literary longings re-surfaced and I became a blogger.
For two years now I have churned out post after post
And though I am nowhere near as prolific as most,
At least I don’t write my posts in SMS-ese or describe in detail my last trip through Sion-Koliwada
Or spend 2000 words describing the love-life of my puppies and finish the post with “yadda yadda”.
I am aware that my blog lacks the cachet of being erudite in any way or even faintly libertarian
I don’t link to The New Yorker. I don’t party at TC. I don’t have a PhD thesis. I’m far from being Uncut, in fact I’m more of a “no-hair-ian”.
I can’t hand out tips on picking up women, I’m not an erudite economist with comic-book panache,
I don’t know where I can pick up good weed, let alone post about sharing my stash.
I last read a book some years ago and I have no idea of the Booker short-list
I know little or nothing about world cinema though I do know that Hitchcock did not make “The Shootist”
In fact I can’t even hold forth on the filmography of Mithun Chakraborty so I am definitely not a cineaste
I don’t surf the Net enough to find weird or learned articles and even if I did I couldn’t make witty comments about them, all I can aspire to is cut-paste
I don’t have a secret identity as a call-girl, nor am I a leading literary critic
I can’t be a youthful investigative curry because when I make allegations I can’t make them stick.
I freely admit that my blog isn’t the biggest thing since Desibaba, it can’t even claim a wardrobe malfunction
But even so, it’s my blog and I love it even if it’s ugly and cross-eyed and I don’t want it to suffer from feelings of rejection
So when I find that it has not been shortlisted for the Best Indian Blog by the Asian Blog Awards I feel like a father whose child has been left out of the cast for the school play
And my first reaction is emotional and I mutter dark threats about suing them and making them pay.
After all with only a couple of million blogs from
They should understand that this whole elitist approach of shortlisting less than a dozen blogs is Just Not Done.
Therefore I shall console my blog with the inalienable truth that we have known all along,
To wit, that it is the Best Blog ever written by this Sad Old Bong.
... and Darrell Hair is not the only man guilty of it. He was just the first one, last Sunday, to set Stupid-Ball rolling (a Hair-ball, perhaps).
As a mere 784 different columnists and TV analysts have pointed out, there were 26 cameras covering that match and not one of them captured any footage that might suggest that the fielding team had tampered with the ball. Yet Doctrove suspected that the ball had been tampered with. Talked to Big Brother Darrell. And cricket had a bad hair day.
Consider Darrell’s options. He has a walkie-talkie which he can use to communicate with two other umpires AND the match referee. Does he call for back-up? For a second opinion? We don’t know, since they won’t say, but the evidence of the cameras suggests that he did not. Stupidity 1, Common Sense 0.
Does he talk to Inzamam and show him the ball’s surface, or ask him what caused the wear that might be considered suspicious. He does not. (This we know).
Does he walk over to the boundary, ringed with ad hoardings and concrete gutters, to check whether those might have scuffed the ball? He does not. Stupidity keeps scoring.
No, our man takes his decision alone and awards 5 runs to the Brits on grounds of ball-tampering. Mind you, he had not till that point seen fit to inform the captain of the fielding team that he considered them to be cheats and was taking action accordingly. It was only when Inzy shambled over and asked, that he was told what was going on. Stupidity, by this time, is so far ahead of the field that one would have thought it didn’t need any further help.
But wait. It gets better. Or worse, depending on how you look at it.
Our large sloth-bear of a Paki captain is rather like a road-roller on a downhill slope. It takes some time to build up speed, but after that it takes a lot of stopping. Inzy boiled until the tea-break, then fumed and decided to protest. Protest? I suspect the Pak team decided that enough was enough and they didn’t want to play any more. Rather like Gavaskar on that day in
I don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s the rules, stupid. The rule-book does not say that the umpires have to come and cajole you to play. The Pak team took a decision. The team management should either have sent them out on the field immediately after tea, so that they did not forfeit the match, or they should have stuck by their guns and refused to take the field at all. By reversing their decision (which is what seems to have happened, Inzy’s story of “registering a protest through delay” is not very credible, nobody can be that stupid), they have lost some of the moral high ground. Pity. One would have expected better of the great Zed.
Oh, it gets even messier. Shahid Afridi – not exactly Mensa material even on a cricket field – goes on camera with revelations of how ball-tampering happens and how he believes that reverse swing is not possible without some tampering. Ye gods and little fishes!
But actually really truly deeply, the original stupidity can be traced to the ICC. This is a man who is regarded as racist or at the very least unfair to teams “of colour”. Was there no other umpire they could have appointed for this series? Or did they just want to prove that it’s their bailiwick and they can do what they damn well please? They may find themselves proven wrong. If
And oh, since we were talking about pig-headedness … The good news is that just about anybody can be a performing artist. Given sufficient strength in the trapezoids, erector spinnae and glutes, this is a surefire way to bring home the bacon. But wait, what if the single paying customer falls sick?
Perhaps they could offer to perform at the Oval for the fifth-day spectators.
Did the Government really give in to public opinion? Was Anna Hazare’s fast-unto-death the reason for the change of stance on the Right to Information Act, or was it just happenstance? We would like to think that the pressure of public opinion caused the change, but since I am a cynical old cuss, I have my doubts. In any case, all that the Government has said so far is that they will not push through the amendments without placing them for debate in the House. My fingers are still crossed.
Dilip D’Souza was the first to ask me what I thought about the proposed amendment to the RTI Act. The Government had apparently proposed that notings in files should not be revealed to the inquiring public. This was of course a Humphreyan master-stroke. I can just picture Nigel Hawthorne, eyebrows aquiver with indignation, explaining to Derek Fowlds that his views on transparency were “far from sound”, that revealing the origin of government decisions would herald the end of civilization as he knew it.
I, of course, have no views in the matter. As my friends and colleagues will testify (not!), I am totally faceless, colourless and void of opinions. If, however, I were so indiscreet as to venture an opinion, I might actually chortle with glee now that the proposed amendments have been put on hold. We have always been taught to write “speaking notes” (don’t ask me, it’s one of those phrases, probably a variation of the legal “speaking order”) that clearly explain the reasons for decisions. A lot of us still do that. In other words, what we write in file is meant to stand up to scrutiny. So how does it matter if the general public can see it? In my ‘umble opinion, the only ones who should feel insecure about this provision are the slack, the lazy and the ambiguous. Which would be a good thing, because then we have greater accountability and differentiation. But I’m preaching to the converted, Dilip …
One last thought on this issue. Our Course Director at Mussoorie, a
Forget the horrible mixed metaphor (emasculating transparency?). Excuse the confused jargon (“core competence” morphs into “core transparency”). Overlook the clumsy attempt to punch three sentences into one. (Strunk & White, Strunk & White .. Keep It Short!). They actually lost track of the relation between the subject and the conditional clause, changed “that would have emasculated” to “and emasculating” and thus totally reversed the meaning. As it now stands, the sentence means that the government’s present decision emasculates the Act
In Mahim and Dadar, thousands rush to drink sewage. The Mithi Creek turns meetha (sweet). Next stop,
Meanwhile, Barkha Dutt interviews Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan on weighty issues such as infidelity. No, not in their own beautiful relationship (good shot, Joy Orzoon), which has given us hour upon hour of wholesome cinematic rubbish that’s all about boring your family. They’re talking about marital infidelity. By the same reasoning, Anthony Quinn was an explosives expert and Russell Crowe a math wizard.
I must confess I’m not immune to a little infidelity myself. Despite my oft-declared devotion to Mallika Sarabai (NOT Sherawat!) and Salma Hayek, I have on occasion gazed long and lasciviously on Yana Gupta (in the manner of a Colonel Blimp who harrumphs “Fine young filly, eh?”). I am in fact undecided as to whether I should resent Vijay Mallya or Aftab Shivdasani more. At this moment, however, I am totally in love with another. Or rather, in leurrve. Vith Leo-leh Kwotty, Quayne ev Hay-urds, who iz zimbly veunderflll. Vott a vumman, no? I believe Channel V will soon release a “Best of Lola Kutty” package. Ay ken hay-urdlee vayte.
Aching with a stupid fever, shying away from my study where my helpful colleagues (I so lurrvve them – sods!) have dumped a truckload of files, what can I do while I loll in bed like a particularly repulsive beached whale?
Surf, of course.
To find that life gets bleaker. Especially if you want to surf in the air. I can just imagine my more obsessive blogger friends weeping great hot tears up in the clouds. Wait, acid rain?
In other news, it is confirmed that the Aussies are crazy. And that Crocodile Dundee was a merman.
For those of us who keenly analyse the media, HT Online has a regular page of grave import. Poor things, they all look sad and malnourished.
But in the best find of the week, a couple of JUDE-eans share their linguistic ecstasy with the cyber-world. Hum je ki bhaabe bujhaayega era kitnaa mohot karjyo kora hai, jisko bolta hai shokh kaa praan Gorh ka math bon
The western reaches of our country have been slightly damp over these last few weeks. This has earned the ire of our most popular Chief Minister who, as we all know (or should know), firmly believes in dry days. When reports last came in by messenger dolphin, he was busy being ignorant of an outpouring of popular sentiment that would set upon the South-Western Monsoon with burning tyres, Molotov cocktails and other assorted instruments of peaceful protest. The implementation of this non-plan has been slightly delayed while a group of concerned pseudo-intelligentsia search for a bakery in the clouds – bakeries being, as recent history has shown, the natural haunts of that virulently anti-national species, the pseudo-secularist.
Our Man of the Moment is not, however, idle during this waiting period. We are informed that he has served an ultimatum to the Govt. of India with regard to the structure hitherto known as the Taj Mahal. They are to publish the real history of the edifice and make known to the world at large that it was originally the tomb of Samudragupta (a seafarer and explorer of true
While He has given the Govt. reasonable time to choose either of these eminently reasonable options, they must in any case immediately start painting it saffron.
The CSFM have informed the PMO that the landing arrangements are essential because on that date the Great FSM will reveal to true believers the nature of its landing gear, which may provide answers to theological mysteries like the Sex of the Great Monster and also Whether Meatballs are to be Soaked in Sauce or Added Dry. In the event that the Indian Government does not grant this reasonable request, they state, they fear that their God may release 570 billion gallons of meat sauce on South Block and also emit an enormous low-frequency sound while overflying
The meeting of the NSC will be held as soon as the PMO kitchen staff have perfected a working model of the Flying Spaghetti Monster complete with landing gear. This may take a few weeks as Many Bunker Fryer has opined that vegetarians cannot analyse this threat through soya-bean mock-ups and the post of Director NSA must henceforth be reserved for Punjabis or Nagas. Toilyo Byanjan Gas Banshee and Probe Bookerjee have thereafter filed a joint PIL alleging discrimination against fish-eating ethnic groups.
**** **** ****
“Why did you not tell me you are beautiful?” 
A hotel room high above the golf course. The picture window looks out over miles of treetops to a semi-circle of horizon. West by north-west, the eye travels from the bulk of the Meridien to the concrete outcrops around
The vista changed with the light, from the flat sharp lines of morning through the shadowed contrasts of high noon to the long soft gold of a summer evening. I hated having to leave that room. And driving from one meeting to another, I really looked at the wide leafy avenues of Lutyens’ city. Over the walls and the bamboo fences, through the screens of foliage, up above the flat roofs and the dish antennae to the cloud-washed blue of August. Dammit, this city is beautiful in parts.
Of course, only in parts. If one overlooks the eczema of rubbish heaps along the Yamuna, the rubble, the peeling houses, the hungry dogs, the scattered pipes when one leaves the Avenues of the Little Tin Gods.
But I didn’t mean to bitch about
Perhaps I’m a little jealous on behalf of my beloved
Well, so what? I still wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Or would I? The Better Half loved
But we were in
There’s a special loneliness about a hotel room, part empty bed and silent phone, part impersonal luxury that you know will belong to someone else once you step out of the door. Especially when you wake from fitful sleep in the middle of the night and debate whether it’s too late to call a friend. The room is a surreal film-set in the half-light of the night-lamp, an alien environment that has suddenly invaded your space. I gave up on sleep and sat by my picture-window with a large mug of coffee and a packet of cigarettes. Musing. Upon the stories in that dark half-circle spread out on view below, that surprising face of beauty on a city that I have long disliked.
 - Far from felicitous, not only because it's from one of Kipling's stiffer efforts but also because it's titled "To the City of Bombay"
 - An Academic Friend dismissed “A Florentine Tragedy” as an “awful Jacobean pastiche”. I was most awf'ly impressed, but I still like those last two lines.
Sunday afternoon, I’m home listening to one and a half people sleeping when I could have been at an Enthralling Quiz run by a Truly Erudite Quizzer, said quiz to be held in the manse of a Nice Lady who will Provide Refreshments (and Much Nattering). I am desolate at the Loss, until I Pause to Reflect and realise that I would have Known Nothing at the Quiz, thus shattering the remnants of my Reputation as an Elder Statesman in Calcutta Quizzing (thank you very much for pointing out that it’s “all in my mind”, I am not entirely insensitive to irony). Said reputation is already much battered because (a) I haven’t actually won a quiz since about May last year and (b) Do’B was short of smart lines at the last quiz and chose to dwell on how a certain “senior Government officer enjoyed his quizzing like a Cls. XI college student” (a species that exists only in my alma mater, where Cls. XI and XII are part of the college). That has rankled, though I am slightly mollified by his hat-tip (in his column in the Telegraph today).
Another deep dark reason for my not being utterly desolate is that I don’t want any more murukkus, thank you very much. (The Nice Lady tends to Overdo the Murukku Angle). Yesterday, on “Indian” (they had to rename themselves after a Kamalahaasan movie?!) I had the worst damn murukkus I have ever had in my entire life. For the three readers of my blog who have never been to
Anyway, the point about murukkus is that they’re spicy, they’re fried and they’re crisp. The average male will eat camel turds if they’re cooked that way, so you can guess how bad the in-flight murukkus must have been if I didn’t eat even ONE. In fact, the entire meal was almost the worst airborne culinary experience I have ever had. Not quite the worst – I was once served greenish chunks of meat on Aeroflot, was so hungry I actually ate half of one chunk before the gag reflex took over, and spent my entire first day in
So this meal had – Item, three pieces of chicken kebab, dried to sofa-stuffing by 29 re-heats and about as succulent as a feather-duster; Item, one small faux baguette, sliced lengthwise and stuffed with curried cottage cheese that had gone sour; Item, one unidentified round fried object that could have been a potato roesti or, on the other hand, the product of some ruminant’s alimentary tract; Item, something that was probably meant to be a shammi kebab but had morphed into something from The X-Files, if the cabin lights had gone off I’m sure it would have glowed radioactive green. I was reduced to wolfing down the shahi tukra. When even fried bread in condensed milk seems good, one has had an unique meal.
And oh – murukkus. Three of them, lurking next to the loaf like lethargic vipers. I could smell their menace. Retreat seemed the best option. I retreated.
The real WTF moment came earlier. In the terminal. After check-in, I turned left as usual.
Only to come up in front of a sign that says “The washrooms are freshening up. Together, we’ll make it happen”. WTF?! Are you inviting me to be part of a process that will culminate in a large inanimate AREA taking a leak? Compared to this, Kafka was stone cold sober all his life! The next sign is a little more comprehensible – “Toilets are under renovation. The inconvenience caused is regretted”. Yes, fine, but do you regret it enough to make alternative arrangements? How much would you regret it if three thousand passengers a day watered your plants, eh?!
I was a blur as I whizzed through security. Surely nobody could be daft enough to renovate all the loos at the same time? Sharp left, walk fast, there at the end aarrgghhhhh! They CAN be daft enough! NEVER underestimate moronicity!
I eventually found ONE functional loo, next to the door where they take passengers out (to identify their baggage, but am I the only one who cringes in expectation of a blank wall and a line of muskets?).
And there was not a single weirdo in sight. Did my last Delhi airport post offend them? Scare them off? Ah well ...
And all of Sunday we’ve been treated to continuous updates about a boy in a well. Poor kid fell in there on Friday and all the king’s soldiers and all the king’s men haven’t been able to get him out yet. But wait – the Chief Minister is on the spot, “Madam” has called, people all over the country are praying for him, spending money on offerings, throwing birthday parties for Prince.
There was an episode of “Yes Prime Minister”, the dog Benjy lost in the minefield on Salisbury Plain – does anybody remember that one? So yes, the politicos can’t afford to pass up this one, they need the situation, the bytes, the eyeballs. But the general public? Why do they have to come on in whiteface and cherry noses? Of course the TV channels go interactive. They invite calls. Text messages for Prince yield profundities like “They should get him out of the tunnel soon” and “You are the Prince of India”. And in all the coverage, nobody came up with the reason why they couldn’t just swing a crane down there and pick him up.
Some years ago, typically, this would have been a story in the left-hand column on the fifth page of the local papers. We’d never have seen it on the telly, let alone for hours on end (CNN-IBN held out for a while but eventually joined in the madness). Would we have missed much? On the other hand, if it hadn’t been for the media attention, the army probably wouldn’t have been called in, the rescue attempts wouldn’t have been so systematic.
Score one for the media, they probably helped save a life here. Now if only the world's morons would put their money in the right place instead of spending it on garlands and ghee.
The Aged Gabbler has been Informed by a Wise Infant that he (the Gabbler) is, in fact, a Multitude. Or at least that there is More than One of Him. Since said Aged Person was not Fully Aware of This State of Being, much Confusion has been Caused.
One has not so far been Familiar with the
The Oldest Member is also Gratified. First, that Clever Children think him capable of Imagination and Dissimulation. Further, that he can be associated with a Persona that is Energetic. Innovative, even. Of course, such Energy and Innovation are Admirable in an apparently Younger Persona; if these qualities were evident in the Senile Haverer, he would be dubbed a Randy Old Goat. Regardless of this Minor Difference, the Oldest Member is Quite Chuffed.
Furthermore, the Wise Infant and Her Correspondents claim to have Linked the Second Persona on the basis of his Writing Style, which is reportedly Very Similar to the Aged Person’s, only Much More Colourful. Your Correspondent is Positively Elated at the Thought that he may have, nay, HAS, a Distinct Style. This is Praise Indeed.
Having Considered the Matter in its Entirety, therefore, the Oldest Member has Decided not to Dispute the Findings. In sum, to Sit Tight. He is Keenly Aware that the Second Persona may have the Strongest Objections to Being Linked with a Senile Old Coot. Should such Objections be Stated and Vociferously So, the Old Gaffer’s defence (mumbled through a Toothless Gummy Grin) will be that, in
In the middle of all the sadness and anger, a story that might seem pointless.
Arindam is an officer in the C***, a para-military force, presently posted in Aizawl. Last year he married Tuhin Babu’s daughter. This tangentially concerns me, because Tuhin Babu was my secretary when I was in P District and I hold him in high regard. A fine, earnest, good man of the old school. He asked to be transferred out of the DM’s office after I left, now he puts in his and gets home comparatively early. When I went to P in May, he took me home and his bright-eyed wife served me a superb lunch in a spick-and-span room thick with the scent of incense sticks. Afterwards, we walked in his tiny walled garden and he plucked fragrant limes for me to carry home to
Monday afternoon I got a call from Tuhin Babu. Upset, barely holding back tears. He was in Aizawl. His daughter and son-in-law had quarrelled over some trivial issue the previous Monday night. On Tuesday, Arindam came home in the afternoon to find his wife sulking in bed and no lunch. He went back to work. Driving home in the evening, he asked his chauffeur to drop him off at the airport. And vanished.
From Tuhin Babu and his daughter Indira, over a phone line that faded and crackled, I pieced together a picture of an unusual man. Sensitive, moody but considerate. A man who couldn’t get through the work-day without talking to his wife, yet struck her when his patience ran out. Who, after he drew money to buy an air ticket to
For three days, Tuhin Babu and I phoned everywhere. Bank. Home. Friends. Police. Colleagues.
My friend who heads the detective department in
Arindam does not have a cell phone, which might have made things easier. The bank inquiries paid off. His ATM card had been used for withdrawals at
Today, Tuhin Babu called me from
Ten minutes ago, Tuhin Babu called from a phone booth at the station. I cold practically see his beaming face over the phone. “Sir, Arindam has been found. My daughter saw him at the station, about to board a train for the North-East. I bought her a ticket, they’re together now, on a train home to Aizawl.”
Fairy-tale ending. Nice.
Srinagar in the morning, Bombay in the evening.
Remember my firm conviction that the world is full of morons? Have to amend that a bit. Some of those morons are evil bastards who should be eliminated. No “understanding”, no counselling, no analysis. If you are sick enough to maim and kill unsuspecting people who never did you any harm, you should be removed. Like a cancer.
And some of those supposed morons are also people who give their labour, their bedsheets, their homes to help the dead and injured. And some are people like Griff and the Guys at Mumbai Help – check out http://mumbaihelp.blogspot.com/ for updates and http://groups.google.com/group/BombayHelp to monitor comments.
Just one thing. Unless you’re my one surviving grandparent, don’t talk to me about God for a while, OK? Or I might just drop-kick your head up your arse.
I huffed up the last few steps of the footpath and asked about “Bond Saheb ka ghar” from a man sitting in the sun. He grinned and pointed. “Up there, on the second floor”. Eh? I had expected a little cottage with a garden, not an apartment in a little crumbling house. I actually blurted out “Bas, this is it?!”
A ramrod-straight, tweed-clad, grey-whiskered Sikh gent who was passing took offence and rebuked me. “He is a very good man. Great men are simple.” I tried to explain that I had read about Mr. Bond’s garden gate. The gentleman’s ire subsided. He explained that the “garden gate” was actually a wicket leading from the first-floor landing to the second floor. I nodded sagely. And passed on to gaze reverently upon The Man’s window for a while.
Later, my friend asked me why I didn’t just ring the bell. Some people have NO sense. Who would like to have their morning disrupted by some stranger with a camera (and, truth to tell, a thirst. I’ve read somewhere that Mr. Bond likes his beer)? But it would have been nice to see his Yoda-like visage.
From a little way down that road, I could see
I also felt very stupid that I had never made the pilgrimage when I lived in Mussoorie. Oh well, better late ....