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

Jul 17, 2009

Field of Dreams

As a great blogger once said. It may be Mumbai in Marathi but its Bombay in English. Always. What we see in the map of Italy as Florence will always be Firenze to the Italians. And the people who live there are Forentines. Unless you’re an Italian in Goa. Where if you’re a Florentine , you’re in Saligao.
Head down the CHOGM road from Calangute towards Mapuca. On the left you pass houses with tile roofs, pigs in slumber for the night and 20 foot wide buses roaring down a 10 foot wide road, occasionally. You see a blot on the landscape called Cottage Industries or Cottage exposistion or some similarly named tourist trap. Next to it is a field. Next to it is a field. Full of cars and motorcycles. Somewhat eerie. Lots of vehicles. No people. Quiet. A Maruti Tourist taxi van emerges from the lane next to it. You had’nt even seen that there was a lane on this new moon night. Park in the field. Walk down the newly unveiled lane. Dirt track actually. You can feel the buzz and around the corner you see a ten cars and thirty bikes in a space meant for three. Bikes i.e. The parapet of the well on your left has a few Ronaldo and Beckham fans sipping beer. Their fan-ness being proclaimed by their T shirts. Green and yellow and blue and white against a backdrop of red laterite. The unfortunates, of which there are many who cannot find a slot on the parapet wall are condemnded to stand. And wait. Wait for a seat in this backwoods restaurant. Where the seating for the Beckhams and Ronaldinhos and Perpetua and Augustine is in front and to the right of you. Where tube lights wrapped in green and pink cellophane paper provide the mood lighting. Where music is not played because it gets in the way of conversation. While you stand near the well which happens to be just outside the kitchen. Platters of food pass in front of you. So near but yet so far. Don’t worry, as Aunty Aggie says” Hunger is the best sauce”.
People move out, satiated. You glare at the table in your field of vision.
For crying out loud, do you have to take such small bites of your bibinca.
The heavens part and you are called to the table. The menu runs to two pages. Ignore it. Order Chicken Cafreal. And poi. And Feni or Urak if it’s that time of the year. Yes Feni and Urak are proper nouns in my lexicon.
While you wait admire the plastic furniture, the fake flowers, the beer glo signs. Because once you taste the cafreal you will remember nothing else. The Feni comes first. Home stuff. Not that factory made stuff they sell in the wineshops or at the Fort Aguada. { The Fort Aguada bit is hearsay } . And then comes the cafreal slapped down with not even an iota of the respect it deserves. If you use a knife and a fork to eat it then leave now and never return. Chunkofy [ break into bite sized pieces] the poi. Dip it into the gravy and go straight to heaven. Where as the flavors become a part of you Lorna bursts into song, you property dispute with the neighbour pales into insignificance and your neighbours daughter who was a runners up for Miss Tivim asks you to dance with her. And that’s just the first bite.
Repeat order soon enough for the food and the beverage. There’s a family at the entrance glaring at you. Murder in their eyes when they hear the repeat order issued. “Damn Bombayites” you hear in angry undertones.
So in a spirit of charity you forsake the bibinca and call for the bill. The crowd at the well has gotten larger. Some of the parked bikes have been commandeered as waiting benches. The glasses perch nicely on the flat tank of the hero Honda. They tend to slide on a Bullet. But the Bullet seats are wider.
Back to the field. Home and back to your dreams which till just last night were real.

Disclaimer. :- My friend Jack[ who first took me to Florentines thus making himself eligible for canonization] tells me that the competition is trying to give Florentine a bad name by claiming that pork fat is used to cook the chicken. Of course the appropriate response to anyone who tries to malign the said restaurant with the aforementioned statement is “ Who Cares?”

Jul 16, 2009

Down on your knees!

Head down to St. Peters church. [ Bandra not Rome]. Whether you’re catholic or not. Or Non. At 10.00 am on a Sunday morning. Hang at the back half of the church. The usual stuff. Prayers for the faithful. Petitions, thanks givings, sermon, offertory etc. etc.
Communion. Now sit down. Close your eyes. And let the music of the choir come to you. Till the saxophone steps in. It lifts you up. Think of all the superlatives you know. Then double them and it might begin to say what you feel. In fact I may even be dead and in heaven. Unlikely. Dead? No. The ending up in heaven bit.
Cat Stevens ‘Morning has broken”. An inspired song. An inspired rendition. While the lines shuffle on. While the dog that wants to get out of the muck tries to find a dry spot beneath a pew. While prayers are finished and positions change from kneeling to sitting.
And as the last notes draw out, you change from sitting to kneeling once more. To give thanks and give praise. Praise for the music,…[ Thank you Cat Stevens and thank you Rhys ].
And the reason you hang at he back of the church is that the acoustics are better there.

Rhys:- On Saxaphone
Merlyn:- On organ and keyboards
And if Fr. Jerry preaches the sermon that’s an added bonus.

Jul 13, 2009

Win -Win.

I know. I know. It's a marketing gimmick. But it sounds like a lot of fun. So go enter http://www.greatdrivingchallenge.com. You might get to pass go. And you might get to collect the million bucks. A win win situation for all concerned.

Jul 9, 2009

What's Leonardo got to do with it?

You get married and you have children. They cry for food. You give them food. They cry because of a wet diaper. Abracadabra. Wet diaper gone. They look up to you like you look up to God. They ask you questions and you reply. A for apple B for Ball Z for Zebra. You begin to feel a little bit like God. All knowing , all powerful. You are. In the kids eyes at least. Then it starts to get tricky.
“Why is the sky blue?”
“I’ll tell you later, first finish your milk.”
“If Grandpa is in heaven and can see me why cant I see him?”
“Go to sleep now it’s late.”
“Why do you have hair there and I don’t?”
“Lets finish our bath quickly, Mummy’s waiting.”
They now know you have feet of clay. Even though you hide them with Nike’s. So the questions stop coming as frequently. They learn how to Google and Wiki is a verb not a noun.
We walked into Josy’s house for dinner. On the wall hangs a poster of The Vitruvian Man. We were made to study that piece of art in college. Da’Vinci’s incredible mind at it’s peak. While he churned out designs for helicopters and submarines. He also studied the proportion of mans fingers to palm of palm to feet and arms to height and width. An antiquated poster that is a conversation starter. So we are looking at it when the child to whom till so recently I was a combination of Albert Einstein, Jesus and Barrack Obama piped in.
Child :- “ Why don’t you put a mirror on the opposite wall”
Josy [ Host for the evening] & Me aka Einstein aka Jesus aka Obama :- “Why?”
Child:- “ So that you can read what ever is written in the poster.”
Josy [ Host for the evening] & Me aka Einstein aka Jesus aka Obama :- “What?”
Child:- “It’s mirror writing.”
Josy [ Host for the evening] & Me aka Einstein aka Jesus aka Obama :- “Bull!”
Child:- “Daddy can I have some Pepsi?”
Josy [ Host for the evening] & Me aka Einstein aka Jesus aka Obama are scrutininsing said poster. Give up said scrutiny in favour of Old Monk.
The next morning I call on the all knowing Gods of Google. Yes. Da Vinci used mirror writing for the Vitruvian man.
My feet of even clay are quickly dissolving into dust.

Jul 3, 2009

Save it for a Rainy Day

If it was raining when you went to sleep, you prayed. Very hard that it would rain thru the night. At the intervals when you woke up during the night and heard the heavens continuing their downpour you kept your fingers crossed. When the newspaper was not outside the door like it was every morning., you knew you were almost there. So you got into your Duckback raincoat and went to school and halfway there you met Joe-Boy who was on his way back and he gave you the news that it was a rain holiday. Thank you God. That’s why I believe in you. Not for the ascension and the holy trinity and the sacrament of confession. But because you can change a day on which we had a Marathi test scheduled, which I was going to fail in , into a holiday. Now I promise I’ll study for it and never leave things till the last minute again. But first let me get home and change. Out of the uniform and into old clothes that nobody minded you getting dirty.
Then onto the World Cup. A football game played on the road. Which by then would be under six inches of water. So the ball floated. When their was imminent danger of a goal being scored it wasn’t against the rules to kick a spray of water into the potential scorers eyes effectively qualifying him for dark glasses and a white cane.
You had to watch out for the gutters on either side of the road whose 3’ depth was made invisible due to the law of physics that says” Water finds it’s own level”. If you didn’t you were suddenly dwarfed and kicking against concrete instead of the ball.
The football game done we’d be back home scrounging. Scrounging for the motor boat we’d bought at the Bandra fair. The one with the candle in the middle that went round and round in circles. The candle was lifted off the altar and cut into sections that would fit into this yacht that Onassis would have been proud off.[ When he was 3 ] A cigarette lighter would be begged for after a million attempts to light a matchsticks from a box that had more water in it than the Niagara. If you couldn’t find your motor boat then you looked for fallen coconut tree branches. With your mothers sharpest kitchen knife [ which she didn’t know had left the hallowed premises of her kitchen] you cut of the boat shaped bit from the end of the branch. With paper and cello tape you sealed off the back ‘ giving you a boat more seaworthy than the Titanic. Which you launched in the gutter. Before you had a chance to crack the champagne across the bow she’d be away. With you behind her. For that gentle nudge to keep her clear of sticks and stones and other assorted gutter filling debris. The gutter ran below the driveway of the building. Into that tunnel of darkness she went while you ran across and waited on the other side. After ten minutes you realized she’d got stuck. After having failed to find a stick long enough to reach her from either end, you decided to go down with your ship in the best traditions of sailing men the world over. But even though you went down into the gutter your 15” shoulders refused to get into a 12” drain pipe.
The rain would start to ease of. Soon it stopped and you would wait by a tree. Along came Clara and friends happy that the rain went in and the sun came out. Only to find that vigorously shaken trees dislodged a lot of water even when it wasn’t raining.
The day would end. The rain would end. Three days later you would be looking at the Marathi test paper and praying for a miracle while deep down you knew that two miracles in three days was asking for too much, even though you’d promised to only look at the board when Miss Nigli’s back was turned to write on it and not at Miss Nigli’s…….. back.

Jul 1, 2009

Sonia , Sonia, You are my Sonia....

Yesterday the face of our city changed. The Bandra Worli sea link opened. This now links the original seven islands of Mumbai in more ways than one for the first time ever. { Discounting the helipad at the racecourse. Because you and me baby are never going to use that }.Its actually been ready for a while. But Soniaji was’nt.
So why did they wait. Because Sonias parents wanted her to go abroad for a higher education? So did mine. Sonia thinks Indira Gandhi was one of the best leaders we ever had. So do I. Sonia has two children. So do I. Sonia’s catholic. So am I. Sonia likes pizza. Me too. Sonia speaks bad Hindi. So do I. Sonia loves having a billion people looking up to her. I would too.
So where’s the difference. I could have cut the ribbon and we’d all have been using the Bandra Worli sea link from a month ago.
Jai Hind.