If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

May 22, 2008

Roti Kapada Aur Makan

You’ve had the roti’s coming for a while now. The kapada has progressed from Flying machine jeans to genuine Levis and the makan has finally been paid for with all the EMI’s squared away. And old Maslow would have said the next need for your self fulfillment is a set of wheels. A used Maruti second hand is what you think your budget will stretch too. New ? No. After just having finished house EMI’s you don’t want to get started on car EMI’s.And the wife does’nt know how to drive anyway. So let her cut her teeth on gear shifts and driving with the handbrake on , on a car that does’nt demand thoroughbred care.
Every Thursday you pore throught the automobiles for sale section in the TOI. Like estate agents you soon find out that used car salesmen too have a code which is all their own. Slightly used, perfect condition, Paris owned [ A typo on the part of the ad booking agency when the seller wanted to say Parsi owned. ] Destroying visions of you having the same car that Paris and Rick used. Slightly used, [ in 1948, and probably never serviced since then ] . Perfect condition.[ If you hitch a pair of bulls to the front then yes it’s a perfect bullock cart.] ACTG. Relatively simple, AirConditioned with Tinted Glasses. Doctor owned. Because he took care of his patients does that mean he takes good care of his car? Company owned. Yeah, companies don’t stint on servicing and oil changes. [ But the MD’s sons could probably do Bandra to Marine Lines in 12 minutes flat at 3 in the morning when that car was new. ] Immaculate paint work. [ It actually is immaculate because the paint is all that’s holding the tin work together. ] And brand new tyres and brand new battery puts a lakh or more onto the price of a car that was brand new when Henry Ford decided to give the horses a run for their money. Fully Loaded. Two words when the seller is paying per word for the classified. To say that the car has radial tyres, power windows, Blaupunkt music system, Power steering, power brakes, and a buxom bikini clad blonde who pops out of the glove compartment to serve you tea on your way to work every morning.
Finally you find the car of your choice. Right colour [ Silver ] Right price.[ Within five digits ] Right condition . [ Let the wife wait a few years to learn to drive, this car has you feeling possessive already. ] So you break the bank and enchash your LIC policy and drive away happy. Back to your CHS.[ Co-operative Housing society ] where you have no parking. Stilt or open. Where the road that leads to your palace has round blue boards with red streaks across them for a hundred miles in each direction. All the neighbours want pedas. Buy the buggers stale pedas since it’s a second hand car. But God loves you. And Jo-boys stilt parking is empty ever since he sold the car before leaving for New Zealand. So you call up his uncle who has to wait for Jo-boys monthly call before authorizing you a roof over the head of your new [ ok New, second hand ] baby. The wife wants to know when you are going to demystify accelerator brake and clutch for her. She did chip in with her last years medical allowance that she had claimed with fake doctors bills and was saving for a new gold pendant. Tommorow, surely tomorrow.
The watchman is commissioned to clean and wash the car every morning.
Anthony at David’s Garage and Suspension works looks at the car and his face lights up. Time-share in Goa here I come.
You put in a music system. Only cassette player and radio. But theres an adapter cassette that you can use to connect your Discman to the system. The wife quickly gets the hang of sitting on a level plane over speed brakers and potholes to keep the cd’s from skipping.
Whats that burning smell ?
It’s from outside.
Hell, the handbrakes been on all this time.
I asked you what that red light was and you said “ Battery “
The Java is languishing .
That’s life mister. Maslow knew what he was talking about.

May 11, 2008

Conrad Curryisms !

1] If your cock lays an egg in my garden, who's egg it be's ?
if you think a cock lays eggs.

2] NRBB { Non resident Bandra Bugger } at the Bandra gym at 7.00 p.m.
"Hey! How you doing ? Yeah! Have a good one ! "
Same NRBB at 10.30 p.m. just before the last drink order.
"Putru men bugger."

3] Fruit wallahs sell all fruit other than bananas and the guys who sell bananas sell only bananas and nothing else. { Conrad Curry did'nt say this but he could have }

Space Truckin'

Red barrel on two wheels pulled by a once proud bullock. Kerosene and ice , delivered by bullock cart. This does not make for happy bullocks. Where earlier a car was either a Fiat or an Ambassador they now have to accommodate Lancers and Jaguars and other equally dangerous to bovine missiles. They have to pull up at multiple traffic lights where till a few years ago they had the run of the road. To get a bullock cart [especially when it’s loaded ] into 1st gear from neutral is not anywhere as easy as moving a stick shift. In fact when the inertia of the vehicle starts holding up traffic the cart driver often has to use the tail shift. And where does a thirsty bullock go for water ? The piaos [water troughs ] that stood outside the market where bullocks and horses drank their fill gave way to road widening. The piao outside St. Andrews Church is now a heritage monument. [ Non Functional ] .
The ice has to be delivered. Soon. More out of necessity than a Domino’s type sales pitch. The kerosene is not so critical, so a detour to Bandra Talao for happy hours is not frowned upon. And then comes the day that every bullock dreads.
Getting a pair of new shoes has all the joy of going to the dentist. Your feet are bound together and then yanked out from under you. You come crashing down on your side. A chisel is required to get your old ,now worn thin shoes, off. And then new shoes that have you saying Just don’t Do It are hammered on. In quadruplicate.While every single person between Byculla and Bhiwandi with all their visiting cousins from Belapur stand around watching. Watching your fright and pain. Hopefully the new shoes will keep the new paving blocks from wearing your hooves out. They fill up the old pathways with tar and paving blocks and you got to worry about getting shoed.
Kerosene gives way to LPG cylinders which were easier to deliver on cycle carts. Which now rust near the gas agency thanks to piped gas. Ice now can come straight out of the fridge or delivered in neat little 1 kg bags.
So what happens to the bullocks ? Do they fade away ? No. They just die . At Deonar.

May 8, 2008

Care Of.., If we could all keep care Of., Care of everything we have.

Ganesh came to city. To the big city from a village far away. There he had a home, a father a mother, even a few cows. And with all of that an address. Here in the city he had nothing. No home and no address. But his second cousin twice removed did. So Ganesh shared his address. Not his home. Only the address. And twice a month he went to his cousin Ramu’s house. Where a letter came for him from his far away home. It had his name at the top. And then the all important… care of.
c/o Ramu….
House no…….
Road no. ……..
Mumbai 50.
Letter came and letters went. Then the neighbours son opened up his own PCO. So come Sunday morning he’d make his first call home. The village shopkeeper [ who also had a phone by now ] would send for Ganesh’s family. And 20 minutes later he’d call back. Because Ganesh was so far away in Bombay they had to talk really loud. The whole village privy to their conversation. That they would pretend not to have heard when Ganesh’s father filled them with the news of his sons doings. Soon Ganesh had a deal going with the PCO. Re.1 for all outgoing calls. 50p for all incoming messages. He now had a phone no. A Care Of no. It helped him get work. It helped him know when his mother started interviewing prospective daughters-in-law back home. It helped him let the village know that he’d been working as a painter’s assistant’s assistant three buildings away from Amitabh Bachans house.
Care Of does’nt exist anymore. Who needs an address ? Who needs a Care Of phone ?
Not Ganesh. He’s now 9820278021.

May 4, 2008

The Philosophy of Maya.

I have a sister who married and went to distant shores to seek her fame and fortune. Yeah yeah, she just followed her husband. Soon enough unto them a little child was born. And they named her Maya. Maya comes home to Bandra once in a while. Returning from a dosa at Balajis I pointed out St. Joesph’s convent. In all its brick red glory. With the mangalore tiles on the roof. With arched windows and long corridors. This building I told Maya was were her Mom went to school. She semi glanced at it and turned to me and said “ Who cares! “ Not ‘Why is it important ‘ Not ‘ don’t be a sentimental moron’. Not ‘ I’ve seen better and bigger ‘ But “Who care’s !” Not a question. A statement.
It opened my eyes to the baggage we carry. Some of it good some of it bad.
And for the bad. For petty jealousies. For someone who didn’t say hi to us . For someone who did’nt call us for their party when we always call them for ours. For the fruit walla who gave us bad mangoes after we’ve been buying fruit from him for twenty years. For the friend who borrowed that book and dog-eared it. For the neighbour who’s son wants to give Roger Drego a run for his money in the sound business. For the maid who takes Divali holidays in January. For the boss who thinks a pay packet buys your soul. For the Uncle who won’t give you the terrace keys. For the relative who did not remember you in his will…“ Who cares!
It’s a double edged sword this philosophy of Maya’s. It cant be used as an all encompassing philosophy. But once you get the power of discernment as to what’s important and what’s not.
“That’s when you can look your devil in the eye and say ‘Who cares’!

The Novena to Mrs. Savant.

Because you don’t pay attention in class. Or you have a single digit IQ. Or the Hindi teacher is on maternity leave and the French teacher is the substitute. Or you're the only person with a moustache other than Mrs. Lobo , the teacher. Or all of the above. You need tuitions. So your mother asks for the strictest or was it the most economical ok cheapest, tution teacher. makes a down payment and you lose two hours a week of play time.
Every Monday and Thursday you have to report to Mrs. Savant ( Hindi and Marathi ). you sit there trying to figure out the mysteries of another language. You don t really care about other languages. So what if its your national language. So what if it's your mother tongue ( if you're EI that is. All you want is to get that magic figure of 33 marks. They then give you two grace marks to reach that magic passing percentage of 35. So while Mrs. Savant tries to imbibe great literary attributes to stories you don’t even wish you cared about you keep looking towards the wall. That’s where the clock hangs. Present perfect and other tenses have you craving for the future. When you just might be able to get in a half hour of road hockey before it turns dark. And then adding insult to injury you are given tuition homework. Oh cruel world !
hockey today ? you'll be lucky if you can get a game in tomorrow. Did they make Marcellus suffer like this ? Or was he left free to practice dribbling and penalty strokes. It's Mrs. Savants fault I'm not going to be in the Indian hockey team for the LA Olympics in five years. And the first terminal exams come around and you don’t reach 33. You've just about made it from units to tens. If you'd plunged a knife into Mrs. Savants bosom you couldn’t have hurt her more. It's a personal failure. After all the practice tests after all the homework after all the answers she personally took up. Not one to linger over past defeats she gathers her forces. She has you reporting at 8 o clock in the morning. She’s sacrificed her morning cuppa to hold your hand on your text books. Michelangelo didn’t put so much of work into David. She asks her daughters to take your work up on the odd day that she gives something else more priority than she gives you,
Hockey ? It’s been sudden death for your hockey games. Your hockey stick is looking at you with despair. The last time he was used, was to kill a rat that dared venture into the staircase. Is that what The Indian Maharaja has come to ?
The exams come around again. Mrs. Savant has offered up her prayers for you to the whole pantheon of Hindu gods. Your Mother is saying flying novenas to the Infant Jesus. The Bania is happy because his candle sales have gone up.
How did you do ?
That’s what you said the last time and you failed.
No, this time I really did well.
Ha ! Lets see when the report comes.
And you wait for the postman. With bated breath. That’s a lie. The report is the last thing on your mind. With the summer club on. With swims at what passes for a beach at Carter road. But one day it arrives. The large brown envelope. With the school stamp on the back, telling you and the world that you’re born for greater things. [ For all the Non Stanislites our school motto was “ Born for greater things “ ]
And you’ve passed you haven’t just passed you’ve got a first class. In everything. And theirs a little note that says that you got the highest marks in Hindi in the class.
Thank you Infant Jesus but you know you really did’nt do even half as much Mrs. Savant.