Friday, August 05, 2005

The Good, the bad and the picchhly

Something happened today which has made me come to this space again after a long time and write about something else.

There is a very peculiar phenomenon, commonly observed in the towns of U.P. and Bihar. It happens elsewhere as well, but what happens there is in a different plane altogether-qualitatively and quantitatively. I had the good fortune of growing up in the quintessential northie town of Benaras. The general reader would know about the holy city, partially. The Ganges, one crore temples, the banarasi saaree, world renowned universities, narrow labyrinthine streets and of course the benarasi Paan. The 'Paan', of course, is worthy of a separate post in itself and this space shall be painted red in due course. What many won't be aware of, is the phenomenon which we shall now address.

A girl leaves for school in a rickshaw. No, this isn't it. Relax.

As the rickshaw takes the first turn , a scooter starts and begins to follow the rick. On an average, there'd be 3 guys on the scooter. BTW, it's illegal and considered shameful in our parts if there are less than 3 riders on a two-wheeler. Generally you'll find 4 guys- two sitting, one standing, and the 4th oscillating between the two positions. But don't call us hooligans yet. There are also dignified familes which go on outings and all the 6 members sit peacefully and sing bhajans.

Anyway, so by the time the rick covers a km, there are 5 bikes around it. One on the left says, "Baby, kal kahaan thi?" The girl looks in the other direction and the one on the right says, "Jaanu humne raat ko kitni baar ring kiya, har baar uncle ji ne uthaaya? Humse angry ho kya? Ache yeh lo, tumhaare liye kuch greetings cards aur scent laaye hain. Shaam ko boating karne chalogi?" The one whoz behind cries, "Are lovely, kabhi hamaare saath hang out kar logi to tumko mind ho jaayegaa kya?" There's a sad lover on one of the bikes who sings tum to thehre pardesi saath kya nibhaaoge with the sideys offering him sympathies and providing suitable encouragement and requisite backing vocals. So and so forth. And the karavan continues.

The characters change, the props change, but the basic premise of the plot remains the same.So there is a lot of love, many lovers but very few lovelies. Clearly not a state of equilibrium, this.
Now what happens is that all the romeos are ready to give their right hands for the juliets. Conceptually. In practice, however, they prefer taking them. The logic - intent was always there, we are just facilitating the execution. Nothing like breaking limbs for a social cause!

By the time the girl reaches her school, there are about 12-15 bikes with 30-40 guys trying to catch her attention. She gets off the rick and goes inside the school and now it's time for the lovers to do some introspection as to what went wrong. No sooner do they turn, the realisation strikes. Everybody thinks - had it not been for these other idiots around, she could have been mine. The social cause also begins to linger in their minds. Suddenly everybody is looking towards everbody else, trying to make an assessment of the battleground realities.

It starts with someone making a casual remark about how he enjoyed fornicating with the members of the fairer sex of the other's family and enquires about what would be a good time and place for an encore. The other tries to gently remind how the former's dad is still battling out the court case against a condom manufacturer whose product malfunctioned with such disastrous results. A third party chips in commanding both to thank him, for it was entrepreneurial skills which resulted in such fine human specimens as the two of them. He also doesn't fail to reminisce about the carnal pleasures that he felt whilst he was engaged in the said venture.

As this light-hearted banter continues and pleasantaries exchanged, one of them begins to think that words are no good and its time for some action. Whoever draws first blood stands to have advantage. He finishes thinking, takes a decision, marks a pray, charges ahead and is lying unconscious on the ground the next moment. Someone finished thinking before he did. Everybody follows suit in decreasing order of the reaction time for thought - action conversion. Last they remember is the sounds of approaching sirens of the police jeeps.

Last I remember was two constables carrying me to a jeep and shoving me inside.

Moral of the story: Playing Devdas is not everybody's cup of tea as there's many a slip between the cup and Dilip.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Lights! Camera! Action Replay!

The similarities between cricket and Bollywood are many.
Immediate appreciation is in the form of a 'good shot!', timing is of the essence, good hits is what people look for, cricketers and actors are both made idols and idols are made of both.
Actors perform in gardens, players perform in Eden Gardens.
Cricket has Balaji, Bollywood has Madhubala ji.
Bollywood has dhak-dhak girl Madhuri, cricket has duck-duck boy Agarkar.

The reason why I am suddenly reminded of all these and many other similarities between the two is because I'd the pleasure of watching a 30 overs a side cricket match between Amir Khan's 11 and Kapil Dev's 11 which was played at the Wankhede Stadium on 28/01/05 to raise funds for the Tsunami victims. The players included actors, directors, commentators, cricketers and Parthiv Patel. Sachin Tendulkar could not play because he was nursing his tennis elbow and Leander Paes pulled out at the last moment because of a cricket knee.

The teams(roughly):

Kapil's 11 - Amir Khan, Md. Azharuddin, Jawagal Srinath, Irfan Khan, Farhan Akhtar, Ajay Jadeja, Veeru, Arbaaz Khan, Harsha. Harbhajan Singh - 11th man. Parthiv Patel was among the etc.

Amir's 11 - Kapil Dev, Arvind D'Silva, Zaheer Khan, Md. Kaif, Ritesh Deshmukh, Makarand Deshpande, Sunil Shetty, Rahul Dravid, Babul Supriyo

Where there is a cricket match, there is a Mandira Bedi and she was seen engaged in serious conversation with Kapil Dev, trying to persuade him to let her represent the female fraternity and be allowed to field at fine-leg but Kapil dismissed it as a silly-point.

Kapil 'paaji' won the toss and asked Amir to elect to bat. On a slight digression- I am amazed by the sheer enthusiasm that exists among one and all to call Kapil Dev, 'Paaji'. It can get a bit irritating at times when someone calls him paaji some 15 times in a sentence of 12 words. Okay. So that is an exaggeration, but sample this. There was a time during the presentation ceremony when Atul Wassan, the former Indian medium pacer, asked him, "Paaji, I think paaji, your leg paaji, the muscle paaji, paaji in your leg that is paaji, looked paaji...kind of paaji, a little stiff paaji?" Now who is paaji? The leg? The muscle? The man? Thankfully, paaji did not get notorious and answered the question without asking him to repeat it.

Anyway. So Ritesh Deshmukh and Yuvi came out to open for Amir's 11. Srinath opened the bowling for Kapil's 11 and Parthiv was behind the stumps, keeping up to his reputation and dropping, missing and misreading quite a few during the course of the innings. Yuvraj Singh, who, these days, is looking to stake his claim for the opener's slot, opened the face of his bat and guided Kapil's ball into the hands of Parthiv who surprised everyone including himself by latching on to it. In the rare moments when Parthiv is actually able to catch the ball, the surprise is too much for him to take and he tries to hide the surprise in a screaming appeal, reminiscent of a damsel in distress in a Ramsay movie. The umpire looked quite bemused with Parthiv's never ending appeal which started after he had given the batsman out and his team-mates were celebrating. Yuvi was on his way back and the crowd sung - Yuvi tum khelne chale aate ho, yaa kabhi tikne ka iraaaa daaaa hai?

After the fall of a couple of quick wickets, in walked a moustache, wearing a nice li'l Amir Khan. Though the turban and the dhoti were missing, the loudspeakers in the stadium blared out Koi humse naa takraaye, Chale Chalo Chale Chalo. Knowing Amir Khan and his committment to his projects, it was hardly surprising that he was walking back before Chale Chalo got over, shaking his ponytail in exaggerated disappointment. Sadly, he was not hair to stay.

The next few overs saw some lusty hitting from Md. Kaif who ended up making 108. The lighter moments occured when Kapil handed over the ball to Harsha Bhogle who brought it near his mouth and started commenting over the pitch and weather conditions. When someone drew his attention to the fact that what he had in his hand was a cricket ball, he started running, without stopping the commentary though. His run-up reminded one of Ashish Nehra and much like him, he appeared confused whether the batsman was at third-man or fine-leg and having finally figured that out, ended up bowling towards cover-point. Mithun Da was next to chip in with his leg-breaks and bowled a few good off-spinners with a footballer's action. Having graciously given away all the light bulbs from his dress to be used in the floodlights, he approached the popping-crease like he used to approach his heroines in the 80s. He was not called by the umpire for jerking though.

Towards the end we had the slog overs and hence some wild slogging from Zaheer Khan and Makarand 'Makdee' Deshpande, the hair-apparent to Merv Hughes. Amir's 11 ended up making a pretty respectable 246 in 30 overs.

The stage was set and there were rumours of an item number by Vinod Kambli during the break but the rumours were not true and so the stage was dismantled.

Aftab Shivdasani and Ajay Jadeja came out in alphabetical order to open for Kapil's 11. Given the huge target, the team required Jadeja to play a long innings but he was gone in the third over. Everyone had a sense of Ja-deja vu. This brought Sehwag to the crease who was somehow under the impression that the target had to be reached in 15 overs and started off with the intention of finishing it in 10 so that he can utilise the rest in drinking some duddh-shuddh. He started playing his usual 'no man move' shots and Amir Khan could be seen pulling at his hair and doing a great job of it considering that there was abundant raw material required for his enterprise. It was only after Sehwag got out having made 80 of 40 odd balls that Amir shifted his hands from his hair to his moustache. As the next couple of wickets fell quickly without too many runs being added, the reqd. run-rate and Amir's moustache could be seen rising. Two finely twisted bunch of bristles-one pointing towards long-off and the other towards long-on.

But this was no ordinary match or occasion. The script was straight out of Hrishi Da's pen or typewriter, I don't really know what he used. So it was not only the moustache that had the twists. (Okay. Last reference to any form of hair. From hair on, I shall abstain from any hairesy.)

The twist began with the entry of the mighty gladiator, the silent assassin, the smiling terminator, the spectacular spectacle-Jalwagal Srinath, the batsman. A batsman is said to be of the highest calibre when his sight gives the oppostion bowlers the scares. But what do you say about a batsman, who, while walking out towards the crease, is viewed like a butcher would be, by a hen which is next in the slaughter-list. Can you blame the poor fellow for chickening?

Any moment, Srinath will give his bat a mighty heave, his follow-through would end at exactly 210 degrees from his legs, the fielders' initial reaction would be to look towards the sky in the direction of long-on, the ball would actually have dropped somewhere near second slip, Srinath would thump his chest with the bat and beckon with the roar of a ferocious lion to take a run and would start running wildy towards the non-striker's end before his partner has the time to react. The other batsman has no option but to start running because a ferocious lion's beckoning roar is hard to ignore. As his partner has just about reached hand-shaking distance, there would be another deafening roar from Srinath. NOOOOO!! This time in a lion-meets-hyena voice. And he would start running back towards his crease. Before the non-striker knows what to do, Srinath would turn again and...YESSSS....NOOO.... YESSS, @##%$^. The fielders are confused, the umpire is confused, the non-striker is confused and by the time someone from the fielding side wisely decides to remove the bails on both ends, Srinath is comfortably placed inside the crease on one of the ends he has randomly chosen and would be seen making agitated gestures to the next batsman to run faster towards the centre. A job has to be done and the butcher cant wait.

Unfortunately for the spectators, such high drama was not to be seen in this match but the pair of Srinath and Kapil did have its moments. With the required rate in the last five overs almost touching 10, Srinath decided to take matters in his own hands and started to play baseball. Charging half-way down the pitch to Babul Supriyo's bowling, he gave his bat a wild swing and no one could see where the ball went because everbody was busy watching the bat fly all the way to long-on. After few such mind-boggling acts, wherein both of them were able to connect, edge, swing and miss, the circus finally ended on the 5th ball of the last over when Kapil paaji hit the winning run and fainted after Srinath jumped on him.

A match that was scripted? No.
A script that would have done Hrishikesh Mukherji proud? Yes.

The match had ended but not the madness. The cake was deservedly taken by Kapil paaji. During the presentation he said, "Sabse zaada main dhanyawaad denaa chaahoonga apne saathi players aur actors ka jinhone apne busy... Us se zaada main dhanyawaad dena chaahoonga....".
Though we love them for what they are best at, we also know that there is nothing quite like a ball in Harsha Bhogle's hand, a mic in Kapil's and a bat in Srinath's.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

You've seen one, you've seen the mall

The Law : When planning to kill the mosquitoes, start from the Scratch.

"I think it's time I showed them who's the boss! What the hell do they think of themselves?". I was muttering to myself as I entered the super-market. The fierce look of determination had just finished spreading over the whole of my face when I saw what I thought was a PYT. Trying to look nonchalantly purposeful I gallivanted towards her but she wasn't the gal I wanted. Infact I did not want any gal, what I wanted was a nuclear bomb that would rid all the worlds of all the mosquitoes.

What I also realised, and quite promptly so, was that I had no idea where to look for what I had come looking for. With a deft stroke of what would qualify as clever and fast thinking, I started looking for someone who could offer some help. As is the wont of clever and fast thinking, it was a fiasco. The place was very crowded and nobody seemed to know where to look for what they had come looking for. I would go so far as to say, most of them were clueless about what they had come looking for and it's just got worse from there. The fact that I was one of them did not excite me the least bit.

This is the problem when I face when I go to a super-market. I feel completely lost, geographically and metaphorically. And for someone who is not too different outside as well, such situations acquire a menacingly high potential of turning explosive. So there I was , standing like an idiot and thinking that the similarity did not quite end there.

After much deliberation I came to the conclusion that N-E is the best direction to head in, when confounded with a problem of such immense complexity. I turned and was just starting to move when I heard the sweetest female voice, coming somewhere from the S-W.
"May I help you sir?". If you ask me for a rough estimate, I would say it was about one-tenth of a second that I took to think of the numerous ways in which the sweet voice and it's owner could help me in finding what I had come to look for, in the market and in this world and the various heart-warming events that could occur as we embarked on the journey of the super-market and life. Together. I turned around with the air of a man who has suddenly discovered that life is not just about super-markets but also about being presented with possibilities of starting life-long relationships with people you meet in super-markets.

I completed my dramatic turn with the air of a man who has suddenly rediscovered that life is indeed just about super-markets. I was at complete loss again, this time for words. The owner of the honey-sweet voice was a hulk of a man. "May I help you sir?", asked the female again. Lions don't bleat and elephantes don't croak, phir yeh kaisa chamatkaar! Though I do not claim to be an authority on the creator and his ways, but I conjectured that after designing the most exquisite larynx, he fell asleep listening to it's mellifluous reverberations and ended up covering it with the wrong integument. I tried to cover up my perplexity by making a profound remark and said, "Uhm...err..oh..errm...yeah...hey".
Making one last, desperate attempt to prevent my dreams from shattering, I wanted to see if there was someone standing behind him and talking while he lip-synced. I tried to take a peek over his shoulders but the difference in our heights did not allow that so I just walked around him. He turned around and she asked me the third time, " May I help you....sir? ". The difference this time was that there was a lot of stress on 'help' , the 'r' in 'sir' was rolled for a little longer than I would have liked and all that was combined with a smile that bordered on the surreptitiously suggestive.
"Err...yes. I think you could".
"Yeah?" came her voice from his mouth. Less surreptitious and more suggestive this time. It's amazing when you think about the various connotations that could be associated with an innocuous li'l word like 'yeah' when said with a not so innocuous and not so li'l smile.
"Umm, yes. I'd like to get ...ummm..something...". The smile was getting dangerously broad now. "Something that would get rid of mosquitoes", I added hastily before the smile changed from dangerously broad to broadly dangerous. "Oh.." By what I could gauge, he tried rather hard not to sound disappointed.
"Yeah, sure". This time there was a clear lack of effort to hide the disappointment. "The section is that side, I'll take you there", she said as he pointed towards his right and started walking towards his left. "Must be one way traffic in the aisles", I tried to explain to myself but could not do a good job of it. I followed him while looking around for traffic signs lest I broke any rules.

If one pauses for a moment to think - though one must clearly bear the fact in mind that pausing or thinking is not quite feasible inside a super-market and to think of doing both together is like asking for two much - the amount of boisterous anarchy prevalent there would suggest that having a few traffic signals might just prove to be a stroke of genius. (One can only wonder in amazement about the kind of industrial and social revolution this would bring about, giving rise to new products and services: specially made traffic signals for stores and specially trained commandoes to control the rowdy crowds, but that is out of the scope of this blog).
The rowdy crowd though, was very much there. I mean, its the journey that matters and not the destination, and all that is fine, but you got to give some merit to a person who knows what he wants and more importantly, from where. And when the majority of human population are faithful scholars of the Journey-Destination school of thought, knowing when and where to stop could go a long way in population control.

Upon reaching what I made out was the pesticides section, he paused, waved his arm and said, "All yours", and suddenly turned his back at me. "Of course he means these exotic products", I tried to comfort myself.
Thankfully, he also walked away at the same time.

To be continued....

p.s: What I write and shall write in the future here shall mostly be based on real events and characters. Only 90% of it will be imaginative fiction.

p.p.s: This post was meant to be a short note on the overwhelming love and affection that I feel for those tiny blood-sucking vampires but somewhere down the line I lost my way, in every sense. Also there is this thing abt showing my loyalty to the Journey-Destination school of thought:). Shall try to get to what I actually wanted to share in the next blog.

p.p.p.s:I can see the living daylights going out of those who wanted this blog to see the light of day, but you know whom to blame:) Anyways, brickbats, stale tomatoes and rotten eggs are welcome. They shall be taken with a pinch of salt:)

Monday, September 27, 2004


I've been requested at gunpoint by a couple of friends to convert this space into a forum for urdu poetry. So here I am, giving birth to the same, with an ode to death.
The name has to have some significance after all.

daba ke qabra mein chal diye sab, naa duaa naa salaam
zaraa sii der mein yeh kya ho gaya zamaane ko


Monday, August 30, 2004

Life Socks!

The Law: The time required to find the pair of socks is directly proportional to the time by which you are already late.

The Boss, by first principles, is defined as someone who is early when you are late and vice versa. For some vague reason, the vice versa part happens more often than what classical probability calculations would allow and there is a phase when you are led to believe that there is no vice versa component to the vice versa part. That is when you shut the alarm off 13 times instead of 11, linger a little longer to the newspaper in the toilet and whistle the 2nd line of the 3rd para of your latest favourite song for the 4th time in the shower.

Finding shirts and trousers is seldom difficult because they have size on their side. The fact that you generally have more than one of each also helps. Having more than one pair of socks never does. On a lucky day you would find a brown to go with a black. On a not so lucky day you are stuck with just a green one. (Yeah, I've a green pair and a purple pair. Sometimes it becomes quite embarrassing to have a mom with a sense of humour. The reason cited is that the flashy ones are better sighted. Yes they are, by everyone you happen to meet)

So today is a not so not so lucky day and you dont even have the green one. You take a look at the alarm clock and realise that you just have enough time to make a simultaneous entry with the boss, assuming that the curve of his arrival pattern doesn't choose today as the day for inflection. Though it's not a good day for matters related to your feet, you could still be the winner by reaching 30 seconds early and beaming that confident smile on your boss appearing quite at ease in your chair when he enters the office.

What is bad is that you suddenly begin to have a faint recollection of having thrown out the batteries when the alarm had gone off for the 13th time. Now you don't know what the time is because you don't know where your wrist-watch is. You make a dash towards the bed and your feet rolls over one of the batteries and the next moment you find yourself appreciating the designs on the mosaic floor. Being the smart oppurtunist, you know how to turn this fairly untowardly occurence to the best of your advantage and just continue rolling on till you are under the bed, looking for the other battery. You begin cursing yourself, the batteries, the alarm clock, the socks, the Indian hockey team, Shahid Kapoor, Ken Ghosh , in a fairly random order.
After tracing four circles of approximately 360° each under the bed and making sure that you can't possibly leave without another shower, you are struck with another brilliant memory wave which tells you that you had thrown just one of the batteries and the other one should be inside the alarm clock, if the turn of events that you are faced with, have taken a turn. You put the battery inside and hear the deadly tick. Deja Vu. The time that you see is the time you saw when you woke up. Duh. You go on the cursing routine again, this time cursing only Shahid Kapoor and the alarm clock. Saala! Mera time hi kharaab chal raha hai.

Stressing your mind to extremely ambivalent emotions, you finally decide to skip the 2nd shower of the day and shift your focus to the next mission, which is searching the socks. The idea in it's very basic sense seems quite intriguing and you start recollecting all the Sherlock Holmes stories you have read. After admiring the genius of the man for a few moments, you know that interestingly , The Story of the Missing Socks has been eluding you so far so all you have, to take inspiration from, are the other stories. After promising yourself to google for the socks story and feeling particularly adventurous, you pull up the detective in you and meticulously turn the room upside down. The new orientation doesn't offer much help and you go for the downside up variation. As you sit on the floor looking at the square mosaic patterns, one of your smarter alter egos cries out, "Back to square one!". You decide to give the socks a skip and wear the shoes anyway.

#@$@#$#@. "Now how can the #$#%$ shoes shrink overnight! I cant #^&#@ get my feet inside properly" Apparently, the shoes somehow took a trip to Siberia while you were sleeping and came back shrunk.

Alternatively, the socks were shoved up inside the shoes.

[Moral of the story: Always follow first principles. Start from the shoes]

Wednesday, July 14, 2004


I took the path less taken and now I see everyone here.