Friday, March 20, 2009

Kicks ass too!

I found THIS today. I’m not sure how to categorise it, but it is the sheerest delight. Why didn’t this guy teach us history?!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Overheard in Delhi

Green Apple went down well, up on the terrace garden with four of us sprawled in wicker chairs inside a ring of green leafy things, but the Twist came later. The Punj way of life is known for a certain boisterousness, joie de vivre, changiya si, but I don’t think GK-II was quite ready for three off-key voices. In chorus. Loud chorus. VERY loud chorus. At a quarter to one on a week-night. Singing the “Blacksmith’s song” (you know the one? Long claimed as an IIT-K original, but “surprisingly” found in one of the books of Rugby Songs? “There was a woman with … ” Yes, THAT one.) With a sobbing urgency as they speeded up on “Round and round went the great wooden wheel”, pathos even, the note of true emotion that lifts performance to the level of art. Accompanied by foot-stomping and a cougar howl at the very end.

The Host was conspicuous by his lack of participation. He sat there with his head in one hand, morosely clicking at his Blackberry. Upon questioning, he said he was looking for the number of his realtor, since he expected to be evicted within the week. He was promised help in finding digs in Mahipalpur, but did not vocalize any appreciation of the offer.

We discussed a case study in innovative negotiation. Early ’80s, a well-known drugstore on Rashbehari Avenue opposite Triangular Park. Along came the Pujas and the local Mr. Fix-It rolled around for his chNada. Nix, nyet, nada, says the drug-store owner. Sad, says Fix-It, and vanishes. The owner pulls down the shutters on his store and trundles home to sleep the sleep of the just. Cometh the dawn. The store owner finds the locks on his shutters in a state of some ordure. Not to put too fine a point on it, they’d been crapped upon. After the obligatory fuming, the discussion of the finer points of the perpetrator’s genealogy and the sad lack of intellect among his lady loves, the store owner got around to rigging up a hose and cleaning the locks and opening the store some hours after the usual opening time. Only to be greeted by the same odoriferous situation the next day. And the next. Round about the fourth day, the penny dropped in more ways than one. A message was sent to Mr. Fix-It, a meeting arranged, crackling paper exchanged hands and the store owner basked in the new-found role of Local Philanthropist. Needless to say, the Phantom Shitter did not strike again.

Cut to Cape Town, South Africa, 2003. A*, one-time resident of Rashbehari Avenue, is now COO of __ Steel. His company is facing a singular problem. The exit from their stackyard at the docks is regularly locked by the containers of his rival steel company. Nothing blatantly illegal, just inconsiderate enough to hamper the movement of A’s consignments. The matter came up at a meeting of the board. After the formal discussion, melodious popping noises were heard and levels of froth were observed, At this stage of the proceedings, A’s memory threw up the Curious Case of the Crapper. He mentioned it, offhand, as a fitting response to the Inconsiderate Containers. Not possible in this country and on this scale, of course, just saying. That kind of mention.

The Chairman put down his beer. Slapped him on the shoulder. Effused. Mentioned innovation. Mentioned genius. Wherefore it came to pass that the honest toilers of __ Steel, yea, e’en a full hundred of them, were summoned by the COO to the dockside stackyard. One hundred of them feasted full well on all manner of good things, till they could eat no more. Several of them were Bantu and Shangaan and Shona, scions of races led by Shaka Zulu and M’zilikaze . Were they to be worsted by a bunch of gantry operators and fork-lift drivers? In the depths of the night did they sally forth to battle, a battle of strategy and stealth. And shit. One hundred large well-fed men can produce an awful lot of solid waste.

The container jam was not repeated.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


In my armchair, feet up on the table, morning sunlight through the lace curtains. And the hoarse drone of a pump.

A morning sound that reaches back through the years. A squat aggressive Kirloskar in its grooved casing, under the stairs in the first house I knew. A seemingly effete Tullu in its own barred alcove behind the kitchen in Salt Lake, the object of my father’s anxiety. A mysterious and temperamental machine in an outhouse in Purulia. And now this one that used to choke and hiccup like an asthmatic, till Mr. Handyman came round and transformed it into a boringly predictable monotone. Continuity made audible.