13 November 2008
02 November 2008
28 August 2008
30 May 2008
The following are a series of (love?) letters that were sent to a friend of mine [henceforth referred to as Jane] by her colleague [henceforth referred to as Tarzan Apeman (Tarzan = First Name, Apeman = Last Name)], who, in order to maintain anonymity, sent her these emails from an email account created especially for this purpose. The ID that was created was a concoction of their first names [email@example.com].
I swear that every single thing written in those letters is true to the best of my knowledge and has not been tampered with in any way, except for the names, which have been changed to maintain anonymity.
Though I’d love nothing more in the world than to comment on every single line he has written to her, I’d rather not add anything in the middle and spoil the experience [and the flow] for you. However, whichever parts I would like to stress have been marked in bold. And if I couldn’t resist the temptation to say something, they are within brackets, in italics.---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Tarzan Apeman"
Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2006 15:01:34 +0530
Hi J[being a short version of Jane],
The day on which you are not there in the office is something very painful.
I always expect you to be moving arround here in this floor. Today there is something missing and I am looking at your seat always,
but you are never there in it, some people are noticing me looking at it. After looking at it I am noticing that you are abcent.
The most beautiful things that i had seen in my life is your eyes Jane , can never forget them.
I started seeing you from one year Jane. When I first saw you I thought that you are a HR executive.
Now its time to initiate the things if you are comfitable, or else I am afraid that my life will start off like an autograph movie.
I always feel like joining you while going home, but unfortunately there is always a big gang of your friends along with you. who stares at me when i look at you.
But they are necessary for you to help you go home in the night time.
Dont know whether mailing a female like this is right or wrong . one thing I know is that, asking a persons openion with out knowing what I am is definately wrong .
Never talked or interacted much with females. thought of mailing you from few months,finally did it. One day, i peeped into your book, you draw pictures very beautifully like a kid.
This mail is too confidential Jane.... if this is disclosed, i can never lifet my head in this company.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Tarzan Apeman" <Tarzan_Jane@xxxxx.xxx>
To: "Jane" firstname.lastname@example.org
How to start talking with u.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Tarzan Apeman" <Tarzan_Jane@xxxxx.xxx>
Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2006 14:33:08 +0530
U are sitting like a kid on the steps.
Do you Yahoo!?
Get on board. You're invited to try the new Yahoo! Mail Beta.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Tarzan Apeman" <Tarzan_Jane@xxxxx.xxx>
To: "Jane" <
Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2006 14:27:08 +0530
you are sitting like a small kid on the steps.
Cheap Talk? Check out Yahoo! Messenger's low PC-to-Phone call rates.
From past few days, I am seeing you being very dull which you were not earlier, you used to be very active and lively. Now I am seeing you walking very dull. This should not happen, I know that this is happening only after my email. I am making you uncomfortable. When I came here you are very nice and active, very energetically moving around talking happily with every one. Now I am feeling that I am the person who has spoiled your happiness.. I will feel more than you if you are like this.
When the kids are not eating the food or when they are crying, we will tell them raj kumari stories and make them comfitable [ROFL!!]. As u are wise I shall tell you real stories . One is a small story and the other one is a painful family life story of myne. I am not luckey to talk to u daily like your friends, at most I can write a long mail. That too with lot of fear that you might get bust on me with anger. It took few days for me to write this, this is the only way to talk to you. When ever I feel like talking to you, I will open this document and continue to write. I know that you don’t like me emailing you, but for a person like me, this is the only way.
Listen da… Imagine that a good friend of yours is telling you. This small story is from mahabharata.
One fine day, lord Krishna and arjuna will be walking [note the future tense] on the sea shore, beside the shore there will be one village, a group of people will be gathering around the dead body before a small house, they will be weeping and crying like hell. Then lord Krishna will tell arjuna. See arjuna, how those poor and innocent people are crying with lot of pain………….. These people are crying thinking as if they are going to live forever. After few years we all will not be there on this earth, we will go to heaven, In heaven i dont need to get feared to talk to you. These are all the games played by gods. Gods come in different ways , with one hand they give and with another they will take away. Few months back I am in day dreams thinking that you will be my life partner and for all my next janmas, at that time I was scared to leave you for a month also, I was scared that company will ask me to go onsite [the first time I read this, I thought Lord Krishna was talking about an onsite trip to Arjuna, and wondered why he told Arjuna “I don’t need to get feared to talk to you” and "I am in day dreams thinking that you will be my life partner"], if they had offered also i might had said no. Now, I am facing the most painful situation of my life about which I cant express to any one that I am leaving you forever, except god I think no one can understand this pain. We are just normal humans who are part of his ball game. What ever decisions we take are not taken by us, they are taken by us according to gods wish. So we should’n t repent for some decisions and their painful consequences. What I am saying is, what ever decision is taken by you is very much correct. Because you are a good person and you never did any harm to any one.
My story…................................. Takes time to read. .read it for time pass when you are free [that’s what we’re doing].
If any one asks you what your family background is you might tell them that your grand father is a big officer or your uncle is a big renowned person. But I am a person who came from a very much rural and less civilized family. It’s a very very painful experience which no other families should ever encounter in their lifes.. Some people around our villages tell great about us and few tell that our families are very bad and cruel.
My grand father _____ [name of grandfather] is our village president, Our village is in coastal Andhra, It’s a very good village where every one is very good, people from other villages wait for the curd and milk of our village, we never used to mix water in it. Like that only most of the people are. People are very innocent, if you joke, they will keep remembering it through out the day and keep on laughing.
One day one quarrel happened because of females. I shouldn’t tell you, it’s a very bad reason. So the village got separated in to two. Its not exactly two, but one party is only our family and another party consists of many other village members. Our families are very big there are 150 males in our four big families with the same initial with which I am called here.. At a time they used to attack each other in the night times when the opportunity come. My grandfather has six brothers , My father is the elder son. I am the only son to my father. And he is very very strong person, he weighed 120 kgs I heard. He was the only educated person in our villages. He married my mother who is very poor. They were in love with each other, and got married. . heard that she and her sister are the most beautiful girls in our village [he hasn’t seen her???]. He usd to come to town and study.
In the clashes a group of 200 to 300 people used to attack eachother in the night times. If they report to police, they used to come to the village and eat well including money from both the sides and go away. Few people used to get killed on both the sides..
One day, the other party members removed my three grand fathers brothers heads in the middle of the village.In the day time,, Their names are ___, ___ and ___. When they are trying to kill one the other two went and they were also killed. At this time our families got wild up, the other party people got scared and they ran away to the forest and other places of the district. In this situation, not knowing what to do, my father taking his all relatives and brothers almost made the village in to graveyard they killed so many people, at this time they killed so many good people also. At this time 150 reserved police came to our village and they were there for few days. After few days the was a situation where no one knows what happens. Two parties are growing more powerful. No one knows what happens. Every one from both sides used to get scared. All our females in our families used to hug the small kids and they used to cry like anything. If a male goes out no one knows whether he will come back or not. That’s why they used to go in groups. Though the men are fighting, our females are the most daring people. They faced the most problems than any other females. Our family males are very very arrogant, they never used to care any one. The only thing they know is killing. There were police cases on many people from both sides.. Our family people needs to sell of our agricultural lands to fight for the cases. Our families used to earn from one side and from one side it used to get melted to bribe the police and lawyers. Here the people who actually killed our grand fathers fled to the city and they were later caught by the police and they got life sentence.
At this situation my father told his father that he don’t want to stay there and he along with most of my family members came to a small village close to town, there those village people didn’t allow us to enter in to the villages, those village people told that if we enter we will convert those villages also like graveyards. In that situation we all of our group of our families constructed small small mud houses in an open space between two villages . Here one village is of yaadavas and another is of our caste Kahatriyas, and stayed. Here agrahaara is close to us where only bramhin pandits stays, they are the people who helped us a lot during that bad situation, that’s why till now we will protect and respect then, we will not let a feather falling on them under any circumstances. When most of our family members came here, our other relatives became very weak there, so the other party people used to attack them and our family members used to run away and come to our houses to this village, stay here for few days and when the situation goes well they used to return back to my old village.
Here these village people around us used to show lot of partiality with us, they always used to try to quarrel with us.They used to always consider us as uncivilized as most of the people in this village are connected to the town near by. Actually they know that we are very strong, but they are very large in number, they don’t want us to raise again. But my family members are very much ferocious they never get scared of any thing. They are like lions like you. A cold war used to go [where?]. They never allowed us to construct the houses in their villages but we used to go inside for other activities. The male people in our families used to get worried because the area in which we have constructed the houses was not having power facility. We used to lit lamps in the night times. At the same time the females kids were growing in our families. So, they tried to discuss with them the situation and enter, but it became futile.
One night time at around 8 o clock, me, my father and my sisters and mother we were having dinner, out side the neighbour village people were beating one person because of some reason. When they ere trying to kill him, my father went to stop. That’s it, there were around 500 people, who bet my father, we thought that it will be very difficult for him to survive and get up from the bed. His two ribs were broken. He picked up a little and they gave him very strong food which made him again pick up. After becoming fit when he was about to go out side for the first time, my mother begged him not to go out, she had fallen on his legs also, he told that no one will do any thing as they already bet him. He went out and we got a call saying that he is in a dying situiation. They again bet him.
Can u imagine the situation. We were all crying, I was too young at that time, this is a 25 year old back story,, from one side our old village, from one side these fellows. That was the situation still now I remember my family members crying. Dieing is better than living like that. Our people used to get scared to go out, full of enemies around. No one goes out with out a weapon. And a stick, here every one learns stick and sphere, I also learned for four years continuesly [huh???]. My mother only forced my father to teach the art to me. When these kind of things are growing more. One day our family members attacked our neighbouring village and entered in to it, my father tried to chop off this new village presidents head, at that time the new village people only scolded their own president because of his cunning nature.. This is the village in which my family is in now at present. I was thrown in to a hostel in the town it was a missionary school.. my father want me to become an officer.. but my family member want me to become an inspector. Some used to ask me to become a lawyer to fight for their cases.
After few years, my old village people killed my fathers elder brother ___. And in our old village my grand father expired, his death was safe. After an year all my family members went to my old village to put salt in my grand fathers grave. I did not go. At that time they stabbed my fathers fourth brother ___. They stabbed him 17 times. But he survived. Now he is the richest man in our families. But over all our families killed more people than we lost. I cant tell that my families are always right, but they did not kill any one just like that or for the sake of name. The only thing is that they are very very ferocious. The quarrels ended and these people started businesses, some are successful and many failed. Now soo many differences among our families itself. If we go to town people will get feared of my families, political people like MLA s and MP s s will come and meet all our relatives. They will use us like anything…. You might be thinking that the ministers are good people who want to serve the country, please don’t innocently believe them, during elections they will get bombs and put them in our houses. Its true da. God promise believe me. That’s the reason why I will not vote. My families will not care them also. They are very arrogant. Politicians will come to us because our families are powerful and can fight. There will be so many things going on between them. … Now every one tell that we are the people who killed, no one knows our pain, how many females lost lost their husbands, no one think all these, every one points us, they tell that we are not humans,. Very pain ful it will be. But my father is having very good name as a good person, he helped many people with money and land. Now he is not having anything to give to his own son, I don’t want anything, he made me an engineer, I am greatful to him, if I can help few people in need and later if I can make my kids useful to others , I shall be happy..
Coming to my mother, she is very good and innocent, she calls every one with the names Amma and ayya. Amma means mother and ayya means father. She never call any one with names. including kids, She is very shy person, she is old, a bit blind, she cant recognise me, she dont know how i look now. If you come to my home, every one will go behind the doors and they will be peeping at you. If you go out also so many of my men will accompany you fopr your security, they are very strong to protect you.
Any way, after few years I got in to 11 th class and joined in a residential college in the town, I got in to engineering. After that my US visa got denied for my MS, I got admissions in five universities in US and the next year the software came down, at that time I worked with an R& D Firm on some GNOME tool.. as developer . that is some proprietary language. I worked there for few months only because the work will be like 18 to 20 hours per day. Any ways under bad circumstances I was in depression before joining this company at that time I became very thin.
I joined here and I saw you. Finish, there was lot of life and energy in your face and you are just moving around and talking and laughing with every one. Some thing like you wre very happy all the time, lot of people used to come and talk to you. You are like james bond. When I saw u I thought that you are some HR executive and slowly I found that you are a developer and in a better position than me. That is also ok, I used to prey to god that you should n’t be rich so that I can easily convince you for marriage, unfortunately I saw you one day driving car. I lost hope completely that you will like me, but I tried still. Some times I used to think that trying to propose you is a mistake as you are well deserved person than me, but I finally became selfish and possessive with respect to you.
After that I think you know every thing, Daily getting up in the morning at 8:00 , coming to office and taking your darshan, joining you for break fast , tea, lunch, and while going out home also. I did it with out your notice, later you came to know that I am following you. After that 8:30 to 10:00 gymming and having dinner and sleeping at 12 o clock. I forgot, in between few warnings from you through emails. That day I cried in the bathroom. On the week ends I will go to the charity parikrama to meet my dearest darlings, my slum kids. I sleep for two days on the bed on week ends lazily, and I never go out into the city. I don’t know anything in bangalore except my room, office and majestic. I like to go to late night movies with families. I am very very soft person, I don’t remember when I got angry in my life. My life has become a compromised and full of sorries, if any one gets angry on me I will just tell sorry and come out of the ring. I am from village, but the city environment is a bit practical, which will hurt me some times. I am very sentimental. for joke purpose also, I never hurt any person. Actually you never allowed me to come and talk to you , under and circumstances if you give me your hand to hold, that’s it you are out I will never leave it through out my life. You will come to know how Sentimental I am.
Dai, I got fed up with this lonely life from the child hood, if I have friends also they are leaving in between, now I am looking to marry an innocent girl like you and stay with her family because my parents are not ready to move out from our village. If I can get a girl like you, I shall stay with her family and I will treat her parents like my parents. I want to live with family da. I am alone, now you are also leaving me, I don’t have any one. I am alone. I will be 29 years old on the coming December __th , I hardly have one year to get married, If I am not getting married for one year[!], I will get out dated [!!] and no one will marry me da. Now no love, I loved you and I will protect these good and very precious mements. I cant love anyone apart from you. I don’t want to also. I don’t my love to become impure, If any girl other than you is seeing me I am not feeling comfortable, I want only you to see me. I love only my tomato lion. I renamed you are tomato lion, which means a lion who looks as fair as a tomato.
I want to live the life like you, having so many good people around, living happy life, every one respects you,. Can I tell u what is ther in my heart, A person who is very clever, serious, earning more money, having ego, who always wants center of attraction among every one, who talks more, who always points others to prove his greatness, and especially who will get a bloated belly after 30 years and impatient Now days guys will wear an allen solly shirt if we remove it they look like a cycle tube filled with air. These are not the right match for a kind of person like you da.
You are a person living a very good life, you are respectable and innocent. Its really true, I am noticing it every day. I notice every step that you take. You are talented and you work like a bull in the office, you will never try to change the companies for money, you work more than a man. You talk with every one nicely irrespective of whether he is good, bad, or what ever he is [ugly???]. I always notice you cheering up with every one. You have soo many ghuts [huh???] also.. A good person like you need a person who knows what you are in your life da, who can see your 26 years of long struggle for your career and goal, who will understand your want and what you feel by looking into your eyes itself, who is very much balanced in mind even during his worst situations, who stands like a strong man beside you like a commando and who can stay fit and strong till his 50 years of age, who knows the value and gives respect for good of others also.. Who after marrying you will treat your parents as his parents and who will not live for his selfishness and who also helps your family relatives who are in need and he who gets more respect for you in the family and who even know the taste and pain of hunger. Even he should have the goal in his life to come up. …
Coming to my situation, I am getting scared to talk to you, actually I will never get scared of any one, its happening with only with you. If you come close to me my heart beat starts fast, That day in the lift after lunch during the afternoon time, ohh god, very much tensed, I think your friend enjoyed both of us. None of our collegues were able to help me also in this regard. One of your best friend is there who comes with you for the walk after lunch, some times I will be thinking why at least she was not able help me out. She is a nice person. People from kerala are very soft and good. Thinking that you might get bad name, I did not disclose your name to any of my best friends also. I just told that you are from kerala.
Any time in the future gimme one message, I will leave every thing and come for you and take you away. And I shall live according to what you wish. Nothing can be better than having a wise person like you as wife.
Now you will be very much angry with me for writing this mail, I know it very well, you will be waiting for me with sword on Monday, that’s why I will not come on monday. Don’t know when you will come to me and bust off. Getting scared, but don’t want to loose you, I always think about you from the morning till night. But no one helps me. Many times tears come out of my eyes.
The people who are successful in love are the luckiest people.
Everyone is raving about the all-new Yahoo! Mail beta.
Sadly [for me], he never wrote to her after that. I guess some love stories unfortunately end as abruptly as they start…
27 May 2008
This is Part IV. Part I, II & III can be read here:
Though I had slept for a good 8 hours, I woke up feeling like I had slept only 10 minutes back, probably because I didn’t wake up on my own, but by the ruckus that these young half-wits were still making. It was just like last night, except that no one hollered at them anymore. I got down from my berth and glanced towards some of those who had screamed at these people last night. They looked as exhausted as I felt: their shoulders sagged, their lips pursed, and their eyes droopy, with bags under them. The Gujaratis and their NRI friends, on the other hand, looked fresh as daisies, and were still at it with renewed gusto.
I looked at the time. The train would reach Thivim at 12 Noon, and it was only 9:30 AM. With nothing else to do, I continued reading H2G2, but after a while, I got restless. I tried forcing myself to concentrate on the words, but gave up after 2 minutes.
I went out of the compartment and stood by its open door for a while, gazing out at nothing in particular, my thoughts a blank, feeling only the wind on my face. Shortly, one of the Gujarati guys and one of the NRI girls came outside to have a smoke. Since the other door on this side of the compartment was blocked by one of those big white bundles of something [if you’ve travelled in a train in India before, I’m sure you’ve seen atleast one of those big white bundles of something which are always found placed against compartment doors in the morning], they huddled around my door and started with their chattering. I went back inside, and went over to the other end of the compartment, but the two compartment doors on the other side were being hung around in by firangs. I went back to my berth, and, sighing as I sat down, hoped the train would reach Thivim on time. I didn’t have any patience left to deal with any more of this.
As if the sardonic train had heard my thoughts, it stopped at this obscure station and refused to move ass for a whole hour. When it finally did, it did so with a small jerk, which I’m pretty convinced was a train’s equivalent of the movement your body makes when you chuckle.
The train eventually reached Thivim at 1 PM.
[Getting off the train at Thivim felt so liberating that I’m tempted to employ sentences as done-to-death as “As I got down the train, I felt the sun shining down on me, bathing me in it’s warmth, and washing off any traces of fatigue and sleeplessness I may have previously had”, but I must restrain myself from being dramatic].
I disembarked at Thivim, leaving behind knee-shattering firangs, pea-brained Gujaratis, Karan-Johar-addicted, fake-accented NRIs, and a train with a cruel sense of humour [This, I realise, is no less dramatic, but... oh well...]. I felt strangely light, and a feeling of relief came over me as I walked out the station [Here again, I was on the verge of turning around, squinting at the leaving train like Clint Eastwood and muttering “So long, suckers!”, but good sense prevailed].
The scene outside the Thivim Railway Station was chaotic. A whole bunch of passengers had got down at Thivim, and as we went out, we were engulfed by a whole bunch of auto-rickshaw drivers, taxi drivers, and motorbike pilots [who drop you from one place to another on their bikes]. Two other guys I had met in the train were staying close to where I was going to [Arpora], so we decided to share an auto-rickshaw. However, by the time we decided this, all the auto-rickshaws had already left with passengers, save one, whose driver James bore a strong and eerie resemblance to Keshtu Mukherjee. As we commenced our rickety ride to Arpora on James’ dilapidated auto [the first thing that came to mind when I looked at the auto was the quote from Hemingway’s The Old Man & the Sea about being “destroyed, but not defeated”], we noticed that his behaviour and mannerisms too bizarrely imitated Keshtu Mukherjee.
En route, when we were climbing a slightly inclined road, he suddenly stopped the auto-rickshaw, changed the gear to first, took out an empty water bottle from below his seat, and, saying that he needed to pick up petrol from his place, left us.
Here was an auto-rickshaw on the brink of collapse, bearing the weight of three adults and their heavy luggage, standing motionless [and only on the strength of its first gear] in the middle of a steep stretch of road, with its driver nowhere in sight. We wanted to lessen the burden on the auto-rickshaw by getting out, but both sides of the auto-rickshaw had windowed doors, and to open them, you had to use a lot of force [When we had tried unsuccessfully to close the door when boarding the auto-rickshaw, James had got down, and smiling at us condescendingly, had shaken his head and said “No sir, no sir, not like this”, and banged the door hard with what I’m sure was a proud and content look on his face]. We were afraid to even breathe, leave alone using force to open the doors. One of the guys tried opening the door near him very slowly, but since it didn’t seem to work, applied a little pressure, causing the auto to shake a little. At this precise moment, James returned, and seeing what the guy was doing, told him “What sir… you must be more careful. The brakes don’t work well. What if you shook too much and auto starts going down the road? Correct time, I came. Otherwise…”
Shortly, I got dropped at Mella Rosa[where I was staying] in one piece. Beer, ayurvedic massage and shower later, I was ready for action. But since it was only 4 PM, I decided to cool my heels by watching TV for a while. I browsed channels for a while, before sticking to this Hindi candyfloss college romance called Ishq Vishq [you can imagine how bad the other channels must’ve been].
An hour later, I stepped out my room, ready, and looking for rental bikes. There was a small shack right in front of Mella Rosa which had taxis and rental bikes, but they told me that since I didn’t have a driving license, they would be charging me a hundred bucks more than the normal rate. I figured this wasn’t worth it, since I would not only have to shell out more money for the bike, but if the cops caught me without a license, I would probably have to shell out more money to pay them. And the last thing I needed now was another dampener like a brush with the law.
So telling them I wasn’t interested, I got a pilot to drop me near Calangute Beach. I went to the Blue Bay restaurant, where I was waited on by a guy called Peter, a guy in his 40’s with salt-and-pepper hair and a very young face [which looked even younger whenever he broke into a grin]. He remembered me from my last trip to Goa, which was in Dec 2006, and accurately told me that I had come with three other guys, two girls and a kid. He had apparently waited on us the last time too.
Peter turned out to be an extremely good waiter, getting me my order real quick and popping up at the right time to check if I wanted more beer or something else to eat, while I read Haruki Murakami’s Blind Willow Sleeping Woman, a collection of his short stories. A couple of beers and short stories later, I left.
I spent some time looking at t-shirts and buying a few of them. I wanted a Che Guevara t-shirt, but all the good ones were small, and the only ones in my size were lame: some of them with bad printing, some with lousy fonts, a few with spelling mistakes, some others in loud, garish colour, a few others with a deformed Che Guevara, and the rest with a combination of a few of or all of these disfigurements. Finding none decent enough, I slowly began my walk towards Baga Beach.
To get from Calangute to Baga, you walk down one lengthy stretch of road, with a deviation to the left towards the end. The distance is somewhere between 3.5 and 4 kms [according to a motorbike pilot], and the entire path is filled with pubs/restaurants both posh and inexpensive, shops and boarding houses. Since this was the first time I was walking the stretch, I concentrated more upon the road than the sights surrounding me.
About 45 minutes later, I reached Baga beach. I promptly went to Silver Sands [the restaurant I frequented during my last two trips], where I immediately asked them to put up my table very close to the shore. The tide always rose after 8:30 or 9 PM, and I wanted to feel the waves lapping at my feet while I drank. I’m not sure if you’ve tried this, but it’s a very nice feeling.
Roy, my waiter, this guy with a shaved head covered with a cap, tried making conversation about where I was from, what I did, etc.. I told him I was from Bangalore, and on an impulse, told him I was a writer [I completely relate to Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye when he says, “I'm the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It's awful. If I'm on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I'm going, I'm liable to say I'm going to the opera”]. He got most interested when I told him this, and he proceeded to ask me more questions, like what I wrote on, etc., and so I built lie upon lie on the spot, telling him I was a short-story writer who writes humour, and that I came to Goa twice a year to get away from the monotony of daily life [I’m not sure if you’ve tried lying on impulse, but it’s great fun. Though this may seem easy to do, you actually need to do a lot of quick thinking.
When you start off doing this, you may take a few extra seconds to respond with each lie, and since you’d be pressurising yourself real hard to come up with a lie real fast, your lies probably would end up not being very consistent and may not sound natural and unforced. As you gain experience, however, you tend to start off by telling someone the first thing that comes to mind, and by the time the other person responds to what you’ve just said, your mind comes up with a list of questions that the other person might ask, and almost immediately, it also comes up with answers to these anticipated questions automatically.
You may wonder what one could possibly gain by lying impulsively, but believe me, its great exercise for your mind. Like I said, you need presence of mind, and as you go on doing this, your reaction time reduces, and you thinking speeds up. It is also challenging, for you’re always trying to get better at this, your only competition being yourself. In addition, the satisfaction you get when your lies go down well with someone, when you manipulate someone into believing you’re something you’re not, is immense. Moreover, since it’s only harmless fun, why not?]. Me being a writer no doubt impressed Roy, for he showered me with first-class treatment: coming every 10 minutes to see if I had finished my drink, asking me if I wanted to repeat my drink even when there was about 30% left in my glass, recommending snacks without my asking, and generally hovering around and shooting the bull after serving me.
During one of those times when he was tending to other customers, two stray dogs loafing around apparently sniffed the Squid Masala on my table, for they slowly approached me, sat down in front of the table quietly like well-mannered dogs and glanced alternately at me and my plate, never once coming close to the table to smell the food.
Having no company, and impressed with the level of restraint shown by these two dogs, I decided to give them some of the Squid Masala they seemed to be longing for. I gave them a piece each, holding out each piece on a piece of tissue, and the dogs devoured their respective pieces [they didn’t even fight amongst themselves for each other’s piece] and looked at me again, tails wagging. I gave them another piece each, after which they looked at me again. I tried ignoring them, but couldn’t for long [I guess ignoring a hungry dog when it’s looking into your eyes can be difficult, even heart-breaking to a certain extent]. There were three pieces left. I ate one, and gave the other two to the dogs. They looked at me again, but I didn’t have anything left, so I said “That’s all, folks!”, showing them the empty plate. They looked at me for a while, before lying down on the sand beside my feet, heaving a content sigh, waiting for me to order something else.
The scene was near-perfect. I was sitting a couple of feet away from the waves, drinking. Ahead of me was complete darkness, save for the phosphorescence of the waves. The waves kept lunging ahead, trying to reach me but missed. Not for long though. They would soon lap at my feet. There was noise behind me: noise of people talking, orders being shouted, and faint music. I soon tuned out the noise, and all I could hear now was the crashing sound of the waves, the deep, content breathing of the dogs and the music playing in my head.
It was one of those rare moments when you’re content with life, one of those moments when you’re at peace with yourself and want the moment to stretch forever. It was one of those picture-perfect moments which you make a mental note to add as a scene in your movie when you [if you ever] become a filmmaker.
All of a sudden, the loud blare of a guitar riff pierced the air, shattering the moment. I slowly turned around, pissed beyond words. It turned out to be a live band playing Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall in the adjoining restaurant. To rub salt into my wounds, the lead singer had got the lyrics all wrong, and was singing “We don’t need your education” instead of “We don’t need no education”.
I had a closer look at the band when going to the loo. The singer was holding the mike with both hands and leaning onto it [a cheap impression of Jim Morrison], mouthing the words out of the corner of his mouth [like Sylvester Stallone] and occasionally turning his head to give his drummer knowing grins: a cocksure singer who not only botched the lyrics and didn’t realise it even though it stuck out like a sore thumb, but also thought he was the king of cool.
I couldn't let him get away with it. He had, after all, ruined my moment. Through one of the waiters from the adjoining restaurant, I wrote and sent him a small, intense, anonymous stinker of a note on tissue paper [something on the lines of what I think Hannibal Lecter might have whispered to Multiple Miggs in the next cell], which resulted in the rest of their songs being a little subdued and sober in tone.
The dogs had gone somewhere in my absence and eventually returned when they saw I was back. I settled back into my chair, feeling the waves which had now risen and were splashing at my feet, looking at the great black nothingness before me, thinking random thoughts till the restaurant closed.
I took a taxi to my room at around 1 AM. I browsed channels for a while, but finding only junk, turned it off and switched off the lights. I had had quite a lot to drink, but was strangely not feeling sleepy at all. My last thought that night was about how I wished I had my Economics text book from school, which had always had a very tranquillising effect on me...
(to be continued...)
12 May 2008
Parle-G Dadaji Ad
Cadbury's Dairy Milk - Cricket
Cadbury's Dairy Milk - Mehndi
Cadbury's Dairy Milk - Bull (copied from Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid)
Cadbury's Dairy Milk - Football
Cadbury's Dairy Milk
Leo Coffee (music by Rahman)
Vicks ki Goli
Hamara Bajaj - I
Hamara Bajaj - II
Cinthol - Vinod Khanna
Purab se surya uga
Archies Cards - Anniversary
Mile Sur Mera Tumhara
11 March 2008
This is Part III. Part I & II can be read here:
I woke up at around 9, feeling as heavy as I felt when I slept the previous night. Our original plan for the day was to go watch Khoya Khoya Chand at Eros Theatre [Sis had proposed Eros Theatre, saying that it would be good if we watched the movie, which was about the film industry of the 50’s, at an old movie theatre which retained the atmosphere of that era, rather than at a swank multiplex with ultra-modern interiors (“the interiors are so tastefully done, no? The décor sooooooo moulds with the rest of the… ”, we were sure to hear the yuppie crowd say), and me, being a sucker for all things ambience, was pretty gung-ho about watching the movie at Eros.] However, thanks to yesterday’s happenings, the movie plan was now out of the question.
Over coffee, sis and I discussed the revised plan for the day. The first part of the day would be dedicated to getting my holiday back to near-normal state [money, phone and SIM card], after which we were to meet my BIL for lunch at Café Britannia, a Parsi restaurant near his office [the Dhansaks there, declared sis, were out of the world and not to be missed at any cost]. After lunch, we were to go to Colaba Causeway to do minor shopping and print posters from hi-res images downloaded off the net [which would later be framed and eventually join the few other ready-to-hang framed posters in Chennai], after which we were to head back home.
I got down to downloading some of these hi-res images, and checked my mail in between. A few friends had replied to my previous day’s email. Some even replied in real sombre tones, almost sounding like newsreaders quoting Head-of-States responding to some calamity in some other country… “President ___ has expressed his shock and deepest sympathy…” [I use the words almost sounded because none of them offered financial aid (haha)]. One of them sounded pretty normal, and concluded by saying “Enjoy the trip... losing your phone has its up-side. You'll know in a couple of days!” Though this was exactly how I would feel a few days later, I remember muttering a sarcastic “Yeah right” at the time.
An hour later, we were off, heading first to a mobile phone showroom nearby.
[But first, a tiny digression on my phone plans. For a few weeks now, I had wanted to buy, apart from a new phone, an 80GB iPod. After reaching Mumbai, my sister had convinced me to get myself a digital camera (“You get fairly decent ones for only 7000 bucks these days”). So my options were to either buy a cheap phone, an iPod and a digicam, or to buy a phone that would somehow try replacing the iPod and digicam to a reasonable extent.]
The showroom did not have too many phones, but it was there that I first laid my eyes on a Nokia N73 Music Edition, a fairly-decent-looking phone with a 3.1 Mega Pixel camera, a 2 GB memory card and great sound quality, which cost only 15000 bucks. We decided to get back after withdrawing money from the bank.
At the bank, I was redirected to this guy called Imran. I told him what had happened, that I had no ID proof, debit card or cheque book, and that I needed to withdraw some money for my holiday. He told me that I could write myself a loose cheque [basically a self cheque written on a cheque leaf borrowed from the bank] for 5000 bucks. I told him that 5000 bucks wouldn’t be enough since I would be in Goa for the next few days. I also told him I needed to pick up a mobile phone pronto, weaving a story about how, apart from being expected to be part of daily conference calls between office and clients in the US, I was also expected to be available on call 24/7 in case of emergency. He asked me how much money I needed, and I blurted out "20000 bucks".
He told me that he would speak to the guys in the main branch, and asked me, in the meanwhile, to fill out the application for a new debit card. When I went back to him after finishing this, he told me that I could withdraw the money, adding that he was taking a big risk by doing this. Ten minutes later, we were out of the bank with the money, impressed with their efficiency, speed and helpfulness.
En route to the Airtel Customer Care Centre, while mentally calculated my expenses for the trip, I realised that 12000 would more or less be enough. I also wondered what to do about the new phone, since 8000 would not be enough for the Nokia N73 ME. Quite frankly, I wasn’t too keen on buying a phone in Bombay. Mind-block apart, my self-confidence too was at an all-time low, what with images of myself getting ripped off again in Goa flashing in my mind. We reached Airtel, these thoughts still running in my head.
Summing up what happened at Airtel, I was told that, being an Airtel Bangalore customer, I would be able to get a duplicate SIM card only at Bangalore. They suggested that I alternately try getting myself an Airtel Pre-paid card for the time being, but I told them I didn’t have any ID proof, since everything was pinched [I know I could have asked my sister to get me a temporary number using her ID, but I didn’t want to go through the headache of informing everyone about my temporary number and facing those annoying, inevitable situations: “Your number is constantly switched off. What do you mean which number? The one you sent me from Bombay. Oh… you got your old number back? You should have told me. What’s your old number again? I deleted it”; multiply this conversation with the number of people you’ve given the new number to, and you get the idea. The world’s full of people who are just waiting for an excuse to delete your phone number]. Also, since I would be going to Goa the next night, I would be charged roaming charges for all the calls I make and the ones I pick up, even the wrong numbers [Only when you are on roaming will you get a million wrong numbers], not a single one of which would not be reimbursed by the office, even if they were official calls.
No, there was no way I was going to get myself a temporary number or a phone. I was here on holiday, not on official work, and reasoned that I should be in touch with the office when I felt like, not vice versa. Moreover, the whole point of a holiday would be lost if I were to be disturbed frequently by folks at office. At the same time, since I couldn’t be completely out of touch, I made a mental note to call office everyday to check if all was well, and to resolve problems, if any had cropped up.
Having made my decision, I told my sister I didn’t want to buy the phone, telling her I would pick one up after reaching Bangalore.
We then went to Ballard Estate for lunch, to Café Britannia, a very old Parsi restaurant [more than a hundred years old, a video review told me], stepping inside which was like going back time। I was busy checking out the place, drinking in the details when it’s tall, frail, octogenarian owner, Mr. Kohinoor, came over to take our orders. Lunch eventually arrived and we then proceeded to devour the Dhansaks, which, indeed, were out of the world, and not to be missed. Make sure you visit the place when in Mumbai.
Video Review of Café Britannia here [the video incidentally happens to be hosted by Prem, a friend I met through a writing website a few years back].
After lunch, we went to look at our BIL’s new office, and after looking around for a while, we went to Colaba Causeway in search of movie posters. We got down at Café Mondegar and did a bit of window-shopping. I picked up for myself a new wallet [ :-| ] and a copy of Shantharam, and for friends, a couple of T-shirts [one of Jim Morrison, and another of Jimi Hendrix]. We asked around for movie posters, but were told they weren’t available anywhere at Colaba Causeway.
We then went to this street near Flora Fountain, where we generally window-shopped, looking at phones, digital cameras, iPods, and the other things you suddenly get interested in and impulsively make a mental note to buy in the future. We didn’t find any movie poster shops though.
We eventually found a tiny printer’s shop, where the guy agreed to print out all the 5 hi-res images on very good greeting card paper for a total of 350 bucks. The prints came out really well, especially the Van Gogh paintings, the colors and detail of which were as good as an original.
The images I got printed:
Starry Night by Van Gogh
Starry Night Over the Rhone by Van Gogh
Café Terrace At Night by Van Gogh
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai
(my sis took one look at it and remarked that the poster, rather than being framed and hung on a wall, would suit my cousin’s loo door better)
Satisfied with ourselves, we went back to BIL’s office to pick him up, and then went home, where, after dinner, we watched the DVD of the TV series 24. It was an 8 DVD pack, each DVD containing 3 of the 24 hours the title is named after.
I soon got engrossed and ended up watching 24 late into the night, hours after sis and BIL had retired, and went to bed after having watched about 4 or 5 episodes. I found P G Wodehouse’s Meet Mr. Mulliner in the hall, which I read for an hour or so before falling asleep.
Day 04: 11th December
Having no agenda for the day, I woke up late. So far, the rough plan was to hang out at home, lunch with my cousin and leave for Goa that night.
I felt a little light-hearted. Last night, I finally figured there was no way I was going to get back my things, so by feeling miserable, I was just wasting my time and ruining my holiday. So, drinking coffee, I tried looking at the plus points [a near-impossible thing for a pessimist like me to do]:
- Without the mobile phone, I wouldn’t be disturbed by office. If I needed to call anyone, I would, from a phone booth. Moreover, this holiday was about spending time all alone by myself. So I guess it was good in a way, since people could not get in touch with me unless I wanted to get in touch with them.
- The debit card wasn’t a great loss. All I would have to do is make do without a card for another week. The cash I had withdrawn would take care of this problem.
- I’ve always been horrified looking at my own PAN card thanks to the horrendous photo adorning it, in which I resemble one of those obnoxious-faced mangoes in the old Mango Mood ad [the one that used to come way back when I was a kid]. Getting a new PAN card would mean putting a new photo in it. Though I knew the new photo would look bad as well [I’m one of those guys who, as a rule, ends up looking bad in ALL photos], it wouldn’t couldn’t be as morose as the photo in my old PAN card [if you thought I looked hideous in person, wait till you see my PAN card photo].
- Driving license… I had, for a while, wanted to go for car driving classes and upgrade my license from two-wheeler to four-wheeler. Maybe having lost my license, I would finally haul ass and go for those driving classes.
Thinking these thoughts, I started reading the Wodehouse book, which I intended to finish before leaving to Goa that evening [I always have to finish a book I’ve started, however heavy or boring, even if it meant taking a break by reading another book and then later returning to this one. Of course, there have been exceptions: Ernest Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon, which I gave up after 7 pages, and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, where I skipped about 30 pages of the painfully long and boring speech [the one that you begin to read most enthusiastically, but after a few pages, starts to gnaw softly on your brain, and which, in the end, gets blewhhheweeeugghhhh (the inexpressible feeling one gets when one imagines one's ears being meticulously chewed by an old man without his dentures) that Hank Rearden gives towards the end of the book (no one I know has ever read the speech in it’s entirety. The first thing I ask everyone, even the ones who swear by Ayn Rand endlessly, when they talk about the book is, “Did you read that big speech in the end?”, and the answer’s always a sheepish “No”)].
My cousin came home, and over lunch, she began to tell us about her new part-time tour operator business [she organizes tours to Raigad and other historical destinations in Maharashtra], showing us brochures and giving us historical trivia about these places. After a while, she and my sister got completely engrossed discussing this and other things in general, and I eventually tuned out and went back to read.
My cousin left a few hours later, and a couple of hours after that, I finally finished the Wodehouse book. It was around 6 PM. I checked my email, packed my things and called up railway reservation to check the status of my ticket, which had been in the waiting list during booking. No luck.
BIL and sis took me out to Spaghetti Kitchen, this Italian restaurant at Phoenix Mills for dinner. We had mushroom soup, which was delicious, and this low-fat pizza, which had a base so thin and crisp it crumbled in your mouth. It was more or less like the masala papad you get in all these restaurants, the only differences being that this was much bigger, and had those typical Continental food toppings in place of the usual tomatoes and chillies that adorn its Indian equivalent. It was a little bland but nevertheless good.
After dinner, they dropped me at the VT Railway Station half an hour before departure, which was convenient with me [One of the things I like to do is observe people rushing past me at railway stations: their expressions, peculiarities in their mannerisms, etc. At the risk of sounding like one of those weirdos hanging about in underground subways, let me tell you, it’s good fun. The number of people in railway stations is huge, so the potential entertainment value is exponential.
At the same time, let me clarify that I don’t go early to railway stations with the intent of observing people or anything. It just happens that I leave to the railway station intending to reach 15 minutes before departure, but I always end up reaching the station half an hour in advance. It happens like clockwork. I once left home to the railway station very late, with only 20 minutes to spare, and when I reached 20 minutes later, sure that I had missed it, I found the train had been delayed by half an hour]. I walked to the train platform, holding onto wallet dearly. After settling down in my seat, I sought out the TT and told him the usual lie I reserve for such occasions: that I had just undergone a spinal surgery and that I could not sit down in one place for more than half an hour, let alone the whole of the journey, and that I needed a confirmed berth. The TT promised to help.
A few minutes after this, a truckload (and I’m not exaggerating here) of firangs boarded our compartment and took a full hour to settle down and get themselves organized, during which they made life miserable for everyone: being loud, going to and forth the entire compartment with luggage, banging their luggage on everyone’s knees, etc; and somewhere in the middle of all this, I was requested to move and eventually sent to a berth at the end of the compartment, which was occupied by a young Gujarati couple and three friends [a guy and two girls (who had just returned from abroad, judging by their phony accents and constant train-compartment-hygiene woes)], who were engaged in shallow, brainless conversation. These five were expecting another friend to join them at another station, and in the meanwhile, the wife was telling the others, occasionally interrupted by blushes, her whole goddam life story: how she met the guy, how they got married, how he secretly met her before they married, etc. I’m sure that these anecdotes must have been pretty routine and boring in real, but then I guess everyone exaggerate events from the past with the subconscious intent to conceal the monotony of their life from others. These incidents, however, were magnified to colossal lengths, and ended up sounding like scenes from Karan Johar movies. The other two girls lapped it all up eagerly [I don’t have to tell you about the NRI fixation for KJ’s movies] and made frequent digs at the couple. I, on the other hand, was trying my best not to puke my guts out.
Their friend did not turn up, and so I got their friend’s berth, thanks to the TT. A while later, as they brought out the food and booze and proceeded to consume them, I settled down with Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy I had brought with me for the trip. The two foreign-return girls tried very hard but seemingly casually to look at what book I was reading, but were having a tough time, since they could only see the back cover of the book from where they were seated. I decided to kill time by making it hard for them to guess which book I was reading. Every time I kept the book down, I made sure the front cover was down and the spine was facing me. Every time their interest seemed to waver and they were about to give up, I would give them a quick glimpse of the front cover, but it always was a very quick glimpse, quicker than it took for them to notice the letters on the front cover. That the book was a cheap paperback edition with bad printing did not help their cause. A few minutes later, I got bored, shut the book [the back cover facing up, spine facing me] and tried to sleep.
It was pretty late, and most people in the compartment had slept [even the firangs] except for this group, which was making quite a bit of noise. Other passengers would request them to keep quiet, which they would do for a while by whispering quietly and all [which didn’t really help, since whispers can be loud in a quiet annoying rat-gnawing way too, like, for example, the squeak of an airport trolley wheel], till one of them would say something funny, which would induce a high-pitched squeal of laughter from one of the foreign-return girls, which, in turn, would induce another passenger to come scream at them.
My attempts to sleep were thwarted successfully by the girl’s pig-squeal and the eventual screaming the other passengers directed at this group. I agree, I could have asked them to keep quiet, but then, I couldn’t. I have to give menacing looks at people before I vent out steam [It’s sort of become a habit. Anyone pisses me off, and I give them a glare that usually makes them recoil in fright. It works to my advantage that I’m not good-looking. If you’re decent-looking and you glare at someone, the other person thinks of it only as a glare. But take a frightful-looking guy, and his glare carries a glint of menace in them, and the person the glare is directed at immediately thinks of something dangerous (“He plans to bury me alive!”, “I’m sure he’s gonna castrate me” or “A guy with a look like that, I bet, carries a mean-looking blood-dripping butcher knife on his person").
Also, glowering at someone is like laying a solid base. Seeing the other person cower gives you a little more confidence and a little more time to form your sentences before you unleash your wrath, and while the other person is thinking of the threat your words seem to be laced with, s/he doesn’t notice any minor mistakes that you may make (like malformed sentences, grammatical mistakes, pauses in the middle, sentences that don’t pack a punch, etc. that are typical of any rant. I guess this happens because your mind doesn’t get enough time to mentally form your sentences). In short, glaring at someone before you scream at them is something like the foundation that women wear before putting on all that make-up. It conceals the chinks in your armour.], but I couldn’t glare at anyone because the lights were out. So making a mental note to give them the dirtiest of looks in the morning, I tried to sleep. For a while, I thought dramatic thoughts by looking at the time and then thinking “1 AM. Another eleven hours to go. Eleven more hours of firangs. No no no...
Andy Dufresne Guru crawled through eleven hours of imbecilic banter, intense whisperings, knee-breaking firangs and general nonsense and came out clean on the other side”, but gave up after a while. I even went to the extent of counting sheep, but after counting two of them, I realised what I was doing and stopped. I finally drifted asleep, still trying to think of things to think about.