Sunday, August 14, 2016

Vidyut, Tiger, Lee: The Ferrous Breed

Bruce Lee made sense – 'I am not in this world to live up to your expectations and you are not in this world to live up to mine.'  Vanilla, Make way. The Lions are here.

Many slammed doors, silent dinners and TV-remote abductions later; it has finally happened. Action has ruptured those ceramic walls of the male territory and made its way into female minds, hearts and intestines.

It may have started with Dear Balboa but it did not tap out there. Jaws may drop, dentists may be rung for, eyebrows (and who knows even moustaches) may knit into knots but there’s nothing to stop a new species of admirers from stealing the remote, the couch and the fiefdom known as ‘Hard Core Action’.

Yes, and like many other instances, the new-borns are being dismissed with cliches.  Their fresh taste and discovery of an action-hero is hurriedly explained with the number of abs and glutes he happens to have.

I would fain admit that no one actually minds a ripped torso, a chiselled chin, high-definition shoulders, rock-like pecs or for that matter brooding eyes that hide umpteen oceans in themselves – but only as the sauce that accompanies an already-tempting dish.

Let me take that back. The words sauce and dish sound too frivolous and distasteful here. How the heroes look is like a good wall for a masterpiece. No one minds it, but that’s not what the painting is about. Really.

So what is this adoration about? Why a Commando or a Baaghi or a Creed finds manicured nails being bitten along with some rugged bike-oil-greased ones? What makes a new segment of admirers watch a particular action movie twice instead of gulping down something ridiculous?

In seven simple words – Because. It’s. A. New. Kind. Of. Action.

In more, here’s what has transpired while the typical male fan was busy whistling at a gun-slinging hero walking away in slow-mo from a car set on fire.

Vidyut Jammwal doesn’t sling a gun. He slings raw speed and fierce precision. Tiger Shroff would not carry as much as a knife to kill the cruel goon. His hands, or elbows, are enough. Akshay Kumar would take out a menacing jump faster than the villain would draw a pistol. As to Stallone, he steps not backward but ahead when he sees his foe unleashed. Wait till you peel his eyes off into a pulpy mess. That’s when he rises. That’s where they start.

You know what makes all that/them so sexy?

1. It’s substance. Any fool can pull a trigger. In fact, barring an intelligent Ethan Hunt, most men would do that recklessly. Weapons are for the weak, the unsure, and the lazy.

Only when you know that a kick can smash a skull and the footwork can dodge a bullet; you can throw the crutches away and stand on your own feet. For decades women may have given emetic glances to their male companions because they struggled to fathom the obvious question – why so much pointless gore; why the need for so many bullets, chainsaws, goon-cutlery and swords?
To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.

Isn’t a real man (I would have said fighter, but then that’s not colloquial enough) supposed to fight with the minimal – his own body as a brutal weapon? That’s what Vidyut and Tiger have recently showcased brilliantly. In their world - Kip-ups replace bullet-proof vests. They cross the enemy moat armed with nothing but the instrument called one’s well-trained body. You can’t frisk their bare denim pockets for any metal. The real steel is hidden somewhere else – in their eyes.

2. No! It’s not about fancy kicks and acrobats either. The cult following that such fighters are gathering is not because they abet popcorn-sales. Quite the contrary, when a Vidyut glides effortlessly on the adversary’s neck or when Stallone surprises with a southpaw, you can’t even remember to breathe, let alone munch chips.

This juicy, surreal spectacle that such artists produce belongs to a new ether, somewhere else – precisely since it makes you believe in the plateaus that the very legend Mr. Bruce Lee mentioned while talking of physical limits. You don’t like Tiger and Vidyut because they can backflip or spin like tornadoes. You like them because they do that effortlessly and to the nail.

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own
3. What you see is not cosmetic. No cordage of cables, no number of stunt-doubles, no garage of props and no degree of special effects can show what you see in Commando or Baaghi. There’s nothing artificial about it- whether it is Akshay jumping from a cliff-height, a Vidyut cannon-balling and swimming through a jeep window or a Tiger doing the 540. Like Philippe Petit reminded amazingly – you can always sniff it when an artist is lying – whether on stage or on the tight rope. The audience can just smell it. Just the way it can smell real sweat, real blood and fractures. That brings us to the next reason.

4. “Not one novelist in a thousand ever does tell us the real story of their hero. They linger for a dozen pages over a tea-party, but sum up a life’s story with - he was now a great artist or merchant- with the world at his feet….it is in the petty details, not in the great results, that the interest of existence lies.” : Jerome K Jerome

Indeed. What we see on the screens today is a mere summing-up, a flicker of what lies deep under, a tiny corner of the whole picture. The details evade the average eye. These men have dedicated their whole childhoods (even if media reports are not enough to make that assumption, just looking at what they deliver is good enough) to sculpt their potential into what it is today. Evidently, their wings can say a lot about the pain of metamorphosis that they must have endured.

Not being tense but ready.Not thinking but not dreaming. Not being set but flexible.

If you look beneath the wings, and all that eye-popping apotheosis, there would be endless sprains, falls, slips, merciless practice, nights of pain and non-negotiable discipline. That makes you respect them all the more. No film-royalty kid crowded with make-up crews, costume-designers, same-surname producers, choreographers, stunt-photo-brushers et al can generate that particular shade of respect.
Real beats reel – any day, any age.

5. There is one more reason that sets such action-Ninjas apart. Suddenly being vegetarian, waking up at 4 am, abstaining from liquor, tobacco, and substance-abuse is the new cool. They have added swag to discipline. They have made good habits ‘happening’ again. Being polite, soft, well-mannered, humble is not weak – it’s the new ‘strong’ – all thanks to this new genre of action-champs.
I fear not the man who has practised 10,000 kicks once,
but I fear the man who has practised one kick 10,000 times.

6. Also, do you not wonder how on earth can a Tiger turn into a Bamboo or a Vidyut levitate on hands when dancing? Imagine how incredibly such soldiers extend their inner strength and X-factor so easily into any area they want – dancing, running, skull-presses, human-flags, clap-push-ups – you name it.

7. You never gild a lily. These breath-taking lilies would avoid every varnish on their own. That would ensure that even if it means less directors, fewer scripts than their neon-world counterparts have; a Lee would only do work that aligns with his Chi. Not more, Not less.

8. And despite all that has been attempted above, these demi-gods still carry some Je Ne Sais Quoi around them. Their eyes, minds and ambitions seem to be in their own secret world – where god knows what mountains, and walls still await them. They appear to understand what Mr. Lee meant when he uttered: “It's not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

Showing off is the fool’s idea of glory. If only, the machine-gun-wielding heroes from the parallel world wrap their heads around that.

Like always, minds and muscles like Vidyut, Tiger and Stallone will draw intense respect and admiration from a select few (and thank god for that). Their movies may come and go but their aplomb and magic will endure. They may or may not galvanise hordes of blind-fans on a Friday opening (like some 200 crore-club stars do) but they will earn every buck that a true fan spends by the sheer smashing of pure over adulterated, refreshing over senseless and real over fake.

The possession of anything begins in the mind.

Take things as they are. Punch when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick

Hope they find more Sabbir Khans and Vipul Shahs to tap at least some drops of the vast thunderstorms that gurgle inside.

And no, they will never go out of fashion or kilter. Real muscle tends to outlast Lycra.
Trust us on that. Women can see that (if not anything else) better than men.

Perhaps, our favourite metal was never gold but Iron.
If only, someone bothered to ask.

(P.S.: Bruce Lee still screams like no one can. In his legacy of wisdom. Like every great fighter)

Monday, December 24, 2012

What a rapist feels?

Dreams are so weird. But this one that I had this night does not feel too strange. It is either sixth sense or nonsense as most dreams often are. Anyways, thought I should put it up before it evaporates. And by the way, does anyone know the spelling of ‘disillusionmen’? Don’t know why I keep making this typo, sorry.
Apologies: Pratima H

DRUMS were being beaten in frenzy. Bugles were rising in their decibels. Huge red flags were being waved in full flourish. Someone was about to enter the jungle.

It appeared to be an important, and an unceasing dark night.

Eagles of all colours and beaks thronged around the big rock. Somewhere in a corner, atop a disheveled bush of marigolds, perched tenuously, were all the sparrows too.

The fear in their feet was swimming in their eyes as HE could see from the distance.

HE had spent two hours already, being elbowed out by other eagles, and trying to keep his foothold in the teeming droves.

HE had already asked his friend, an indigo-coloured eagle with white claws, about the whole fuss that they were witness to since evening. His friend, busy preening himself, had laughed. “Don’t you know? 

What a hole you live in comrade! It’s about the pink sparrow.”

“Oh!” HE had gone into a self-flagellating silence after hearing this.
The case of the pink sparrow had left him feeling a tinge of shame and shock at his brethren and he still had not mustered the will to share it aloud.

Breaking the trail of his thoughts, rose a deep, calm but strong voice that overwhelmed the din in an instant.
The owl had arrived, finally.

As the owl gestured everyone to take their seats and asked the green sparrow to step forward, HE admired and understood the mystery about this wise bird.
HE had always wondered, “Is the owl wise because it stays awake in the wee hours and survives a dark night? Or is it the other way round?”

Perhaps, today the answer would present itself, HE hoped.

The green sparrow bowed in genuine deference and started conveying a collective request, “Thou Just Bird of our jungle, we beseech you to kindly punish that eagle for his greed. The eagle has wronged a sparrow very brutally this time.”

The owl shifted a firm piercing gaze towards the herd of the powerful birds.

They started passing the gaze around like a hot potato.
The black-eyed, bluntly-beaked one said, “Not me, I had just stolen and eaten an egg last Monday. It must be the brown one that one had killed the sparrow it had caged for five years.”

“I very well had the mighty right to do so, shut up you moron!” the brown one driveled. “It was my slave. It was getting too boring and un-amusing.”

Some eagles around it tutted and supported its grief sympathetically.
They pointed a claw to a white eagle. “That’s the one to argue with. It made a sparrow bleed this very morning. It even clipped its wings with its poignant beak, for all we know. Surely it had no reason.”

“Of course I had the right provocation you nasty curtain-twitchers. That little ignorant bird had no idea of this jungle’s rules. It was flashing its red plumes and dancing on a flower happily.” The accused made a plea.

Another wave of understanding floated among the eagles.
Provoked eagles get angry and they have all the right and means to butcher any bird then. That was, indeed, the manifesto of the jungle.

“Who is it then?” The owl attempted another probe.
He gently hinted the sparrows to point out the accused.

A trembling wing fluttered and everyone’s attention was brought to a majestic, huge, grey-tinged eagle with the sharpest claws among the entire flock.

The owl did not waste any minute to start questioning the rather intimidating beast.
“Did you or did you not pounce on the pink sparrow and tore it to pieces?”

“Yes,” came a completely unapologetic answer.
The beast continued, “I very much did. I was hungry. The stupid little bird had the unabashed nonchalance to sing at a high pitch after the sun had set. It invited its murder in sheer chutzpah. We are the birds of prey. We are not humans. We still belong to the species called ‘animals’ if I may remind. There is no demarcation between our carnal needs and rightful ways thankfully. Why are we even summoned here if I can ask?”

Its argument triggered a series of noises in the hordes.
“Yes, the humans are supposed to keep their ‘id’ under control with the layer called ‘super ego’ as I could gather from the book by some Freud that I had to chew during last year’s famine. It was so distasteful, that book and others. Such disgusting rules of co-existence! Sensitivity and all that balderdash! Predatory birds like us are not endowed with any mercy or concern. Don’t we know?”

Everyone hailed in agreement. Shrieks of support and anger got infuriated next.

“The sparrows are weak. They are our prey, since evolution. It’s our right to gnaw at them, shred them to feathers as and when we like. Why so much brouhaha over it? It’s not that we eat their young ones on normal days. We spare them, unless there is an exceptional day. We eat the little ones or the eggs only on a rare mood. Their mothers should be thankful. These ingrate fauna I tell you!” someone spoke.

Another one joined, “This can not go on. It’s unfair. Don’t these tender birds know their fate is to be chewed to saliva unless they can stay in their holes? It’s their prerogative to defend themselves, not ours not to attack. Last month also you called up an enquiry unnecessarily. After all, it was just a case of a morning orgy. A sparrow tried to be a rather too-early bird and a klatch of fifty vultures happened to be around. We and they did not kill it, for your information. Its wings were only mangled while we had fun. It was a mob thing. Majority is always right, even if it is a wrong time. In fact, you should suspend those hour-limitations of yours from henceforth is what I demand. Why this curbing of hours to prey? We need to survive after all!”

The swarm rose in angst, thumping their feet and soon the noise billowed into a thick, dark, monstrous elegy. The eagles were enraged, and the owl knew it had to deliver the judgement fast.

“Ok, calm down, please, I have arrived on a fair conclusion.” It insisted everyone, using its firm posture and heritage once again.

It worked. The fierce crowd lulled momentarily, allowing the owl to deliver the decision quickly.

“I can understand that the eagles have been wronged. Their rights have been unjustly challenged and the precincts of a sparrow’s duties in this jungle have been violated, even if it’s been in ignorance. The sparrows, certainly, have not been conducting themselves discreetly. To make matters worse, they have started demanding a normal, fearless life, which, by the promulgation of destiny, am afraid, is not for them to ask. I hence, come to conclude, that these disrespectful sparrows should be given an extreme punishment. I ordain them to be put inside the hot balloon and sent into the black hole for good.”

Claps and whistles of celebration erupted from all eagles, barring two.

An old eagle, with white whiskers, interrupted and requested the owl to reconsider the decision. “Good wise bird, please think again. We need the sparrows. They at least chirrup and spread melody in our brusque world. They also help us make good nests and take care of the eaglets in gentle ways. All they need from us are the few worms we supply them. They can be warned and allowed to inhabit this place.”

The other eagle was him. HE nodded, even though he had only grasped half of what the old one had said.

The owl uttered an implacable reply, “I am sorry gentleman. The decision has been made. These petite heads that have dared to rise today, need to be taught a lesson. As to the chirpings and hay-gathering, we can arrange to get some machines and toys that humans have invented. The new gadgets serve the purpose we want. But this punishment is irreversible. I order all sizes, colours and genres of sparrows as well as their eggs to enter the balloon with immediate effect. I will personally ensure they are blown far away into the sky, never to return our grand lands.”

Cheers and boisterous flapping of wings ensued his final words.

The group of sparrows meekly obeyed and queued up for the big balloon.

The green one found the right moment, escaped everyone’s eyes and came up to the owl who was corralling the sparrows in neat rows. SHE whispered, “Thank you so much. We will be ever so grateful.” She hid her smile in a veil of pain and hustled up to the balloon.

HE stood there, more surprised and shocked than when the evening had started.

Suddenly his eyes became a little petrified as he saw the other eagles around amok with glee. Something occurred to him and he could not stop himself from rushing to the owl and asking, “Sir, can this by any small sliver of chance mean that eagles will have nothing to prey upon from now on? Does it mean they can start preying each other some day?”

The owl returned a silent stare, and the way it looked deeply in his eyes made him intensely scared. 
“Please let me join these sparrows, even if they are going nowhere.” HE almost pleaded.

The owl gently pushed him away. “Sorry, eagles can not be punished.” The balloon and the owl started floating upwards, leaving behind a berserk pack of eagles dancing merrily.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Barfi: More than Ranbir

 There are still some people who think counting Bollywood in the same genre as French Cinema or European art is stupid. My heartiest thanks to them. You saved me a ticket today becoz you would never watch a movie like Barfi. Keep starving.

I am sorry Ranbir. But for a change I would have to be fair. Trust me; my fingers are itching to write a long ode about your talent, eyes, smile, depth, evolution curve and contagious ‘what next can I be’ curiosity after watching another of your masterpieces.

Words and applause pour out almost involuntarily like the beating of heart, when you surprise your fans, movie after movie. I guess it was somewhere between ‘Rocket Singh’ and ‘Wake-Up Sid’ that this ‘Duh! Another star-son to torture us in Sawariya’ became the top reason to stay glued to Bollywood for many fans like me.

You never stopped torturing though. Leaving us zapped, dumbfounded and numb with your brilliance and versatility that no one has ever even attempted so far. For your contemporaries and even your seniors, that’s a sad truth that probably hits them in the heart as they silently crawl under their skin watching utterly-impossible roles that a Ranbir pulls off like Barfi’s bicycle.

Barfi! Oh yes, that’s what I am supposed to write about. See that’s exactly what I was referring to. But time to restrain the itch and be objective. More so because Barfi just entered the profound pantheon of Siddharth, Jordan and Harpreet by stirring another pure, brave and adventurous soul to life.

Not just because it did not disappoint. That’s true but grossly underwhelming the character. (True because, whenever a movie goes high on hype and promotion-decibels, audiences like me flinch, hoping against hope that a ‘much-anticipated-story’ does not bite the dust of disappointment. Exceptions like Barfi, keep the flicker alive.

And while we have hit this spot, let me take the liberty of advising all marketing machinery at UTV – Why the heck did you spend so much TRP time and money on spinning the Barfi spiel? Are you nuts? Movies like these are the last ones to lay their backs on promotions. An Anand or a Munna Bhai never need crutches called sales brochures. When a good note touches the frequency of heart, it echoes on its own.)

Like the crescendo we heard from a deaf boy's story. Truly moving music is all about some spaces left untouched. Most of us noticed them today.

While we were listening to a deaf and mute boy, that, by the way, came out as a sound more profound than the ringing of cash-registers and the noise of daily grind. 

Yes, we saw them. The many layers beneath the obvious Sweetmeat of ‘Love’. The movie beats you in the very first settling-down-with-your-popcorns string of minutes if you expected it to reek off legends like a Sadma or a Koshish.

That’s precisely why I am forced to spend these few minutes writing aloud some questions instead of shutting myself in a Darjeeling world with its songs.

Yes, Anurag, we got the song you were trying we could hear. That ‘Love is still the most rarefied miracle’, and it can still be the free-winged bird that has no time or radar for boundaries that dumber mortals are fettered with. That ‘to be born’ is a proof of all possibilities, happiness and adventures irrespective of one’s handicaps, social posture, or IQ. Yes, we agree: It’s all about chasing the butterfly called heart, and knowing much beforehand that though you will never catch it, it’s so so much worth it.

The song you strummed with this movie cuts deep. But the subliminal melody that runs underneath this phenomenon called Barfi, is an incision on its own. It unravels many spots that only Barfi could bare. And so many questions I am still scratching my head about:

1.      How can someone capture the essence of someone’s sadness and joy without any dialogues? Wait, forget that. How can sadness and happiness even be on the same plane? Aren’t they anti-polar?
2.      How can the nostalgia of the 70s and 80s be so splendidly woven together with the heavenly fog of North East, and embroidered over an atypical story and so seamlessly?
3.      Were the cameras from Mars? Is this cinematography of this era or borrowed from the future?
4.      Was anyone from this era? Selfless, floating-without-baggage kinds of relationships: servants, masters, caretakers, fathers, sons, friends, enemies, broken-hearts, re-discovered lovers.
5.      The promos said that the cast includes Priyanka Chopra. Where was she? Where was that irritating-shallow-beauty-pageant winner (You got it, I am not a fan of hers, as an actress)? Who is this lovely girl who convinced her of Jhilmil’s innocence and simplicity-soaked love in every scene?
6.      How in the world does Ranbir manage to buffoon-dance so very endearingly? (Anurag must have spotted this talent in  Chillar Party)
7.      The theatre was punctuated with the usual crowd of hooters and mocking-comment-passing party-poopers. They managed to spoil many scenes with their crap-vomit. But what made everyone go silent in the scene when Barfi emotes his despair and angst after trying to meet the girl’s parents? Did I hear tissues coming out? He hardly said a word and only punched his cycle?
8.      Why do people with challenges (financial, physical or social) always come out with outlandishly ace Jugaad ideas? Socks’ drying, tyre-puncturing, cop-escaping, doorbell-ringing, shoe-throwing for a Hello, friendship-lamp-post-testing or using pockets and shirt sleeves for hand-holding?
9.      How can a mute, rejected, almost orphaned character not evoke pity, drama, sitar-music- sympathy but warmth and ‘wish-he-was-my-friend’ feelings instead? Why does one want to slap the girl for being blind in seeing him as dumb-and-deaf?
10.  How can any director finally manage to handle a story that transitions between different time-windows so smoothly? There are no supers or background narrations to guide the audience about a change in time-frame or sequence of the story’s scenes, and yet it doesn’t feel uncomfortable.
11.  Can a simple, heart-tugging, plain love story along with a few actors and a hill station silhouette make such a rich mise-en-scene?
And since when has music and background score become part of the script? In a way that imagining the movie is impossible without the dreamy, happy universe they stitch around the characters.
12.  Is it possible to create scenes where people are running, laughing and behaving like idiots on the surface while they bring yummy tears to your eyes?
13.  Is it possible to challenge someone who has already etched his name in history’s notebook with Rockstar? To watch him take another huge leap and jump along? Is it possible to not be amazed at the wonder called Ranbir Kapoor as a Director? But create someone that will outlast him too – Barfi.

A sweet hangover like this calls for a cheesy line. “There are some things that will make you laugh. There are some things in life that will make you cry. But very rarely, destiny will let you bump into things that will make you smile with tears.”

‘Rarely’? Umm, Let’s take ‘that’ word off.

For Ranbir has just incarnated Barfi.

I wish I could talk about the actor and not his character, but may be some other day. As I said, 'Sorry Ranbir!'

Pratima H

P.S.: It feels great to have been born in the same age where talents like Anurag and Ranbir live. If our parents say 'We grew up watching Amitabh'; we can stop being jealous.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

RockStar: Fly, Cry, Pray… before you die

If you have known LOVE. If you have known GOD. If you have known PAIN, you will cry with RockStar.

This CD is eerie, and powerfully eerie. It sucked me out of everything I was doing from the moment the Courier-wallah called out at the gate. I guess that’s why I had to wait so much and try so much to lay my hands on RockStar’s music.

With a phone call on one hand, and a hot kadhai on flame at the other end, there was no way I had time to open a package.

But I ripped the bubble wrap off with a ladle still in my hand. Uneasy, anxious, excited, with a strange chaos running in my fingers.

Everything went on. The kadhai got fire. The phone was carelessly left in the fridge. Dad kept shouting.

I ceased to operate for five minutes. Rumi’s timeless lines, Ranbir’s breathtaking eyes, Imtiaz’s words, the sketch of every song, the falcon, the lyrics…they just sucked me inside a musical vacuum cleaner.

I was already swaying. I still hadn’t popped the CD inside the music system.

So whatever happened after the magic started erupting out of the black box we call audio-speaker, was expected.

My room turned into something like a holy Dargah for the next few hours.

Every song planted wings. Every song drilled into the wells of heart.

The guitars, for the first time felt like hands folded into a prayer.

There’s everything inside this small round orbit of vinyl whatever.

There’s the bouncing step of Katiya Karun, there’s the ultimate dance of waltzing with your God in Kun Faya Kun, there’s the naughty hop of Sheher Mein, there’s the floating weightlessness and eternal depth of love in Tum Ho, the feeling of legs-and-arms turning into fins and feathers with Hawaa Hawaa, the angry-tearful rebellion in Sadda Haq, it’s all there.

Clouds, oceans, temples, Dargahs, far off places hugged inside mountains, words waiting to be released, dance of the strange person we all cage inside, Sufi trance, slide on the winds, the effortless closing of eyes, their turning moist, their mysterious smile, the involuntary banging of head, the freedom of brain, the angst of heart, the happiness of heart, the mess of hair and tresses as they dance out of their own volition…………..

Rockstar made me float.

It will make every heart do the same.

Float, dance, cry, shout, scream….am sure for every maverick who knows what these words mean:

Tum logon ki is duniyan mein jo bhi main karun tum kahte ho woh galat?

Marzi se jeene ki bhi mein, kya tum sabko marzi doon?

Sach ka path padaye Jab Sach sun hi na paaye.

Tera darr, Tera pyar, Teri maar.. Tu Hi Rakh.

Anyone who has struggled to keep their wings alive and to let their souls dance beyond all cages.

RockStar is an album beyond words. It’s into a different land, a free flight into a familiar universe every heart searches everywhere and aches to find.

Only pure music can make you sing, cry and dance like you are in a Prayer and above everything, everything.

RockStar. It’s Rumi on Guitar.

P.S: Don’t know what to say to Rehman, Ali, Ranbir, every lyricist, guitarist, drummer and the whole team that created this beautiful, majestic, bird called RockStar. You all have become immortal with this.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

And sMiles to go before I snore

By Pratima H

hEY Road, Where are you going?

Care to let me hop on?

I am clueless and dunno how to kill my time

I feel like a soap opera moron

The world is a blur and I feel like a lost ship

Not in a storm but no port to go either

Am staring at a blank page for hours now

Damn, I don’t feel like switching on the geyser

Have you ever been on a spiral that doesn’t go up or down

But runs in a loop like an idle rabbit

Life’s going the same way in some darn rut

Like a gravy train but I don’t wanna grab it

I just kicked a can on the grey tartar

And it made a noise I hate

Like the voices in my mind

Like the scratch of nails on a slate

Don’t you ever get bored of just going on and on

Even the stupid pit stops look the same

The fan rotating on the ceiling

Stray dogs without a name

A spoon of adventure would be a good idea

But I don’t mean floods, droughts or meteors

Can’t a Spiderman come flying

Or Superman doing some pizza chores

Bungee jumping is scary

And it would be another tick in the box

How do I stir this pot called life

It’s itching like chicken pox

They all serve the same Thai or Mexican, these chefs

The other ones make us believe their movie is a cut apart

But all stuff is recycled and dished out

And we keep dragging a lame shopping cart

I don’t even know what am I saying

I don’t even want to make sense

Coz it’s all fuzzy and ferrous now

I am groping for some future tense

Anticipation is half the drama

Do you dig it? Umm, like a prom dress

Should I ask someone to pinch me

Coz life can not be so friggin lifeless

People look like insipid robots

Living out of a virtual page’s pyre

Avatars and puppets of a beaten ramp

Strutting on like an anorexic tyre

Walking in a factory of spare parts

Watching ambitions rolling on assembly belts

Smelling the grease of inertia all around

The cookie no more crumbles, just melts

The X-Ray machines have conked out

No muscle, no real marrow left inside

Darwin must be turning in his grave

Evolution is now but a camel ride

The insane part is it’s hard to run away

Because every town stinks of concrete

Every countryside is impregnated

Even dreams are predictable and discreet

So if you are heading to another Black Hole

I would rather take a turn and stay muddy

But if you fancy wrestling a forest or something

Let’s get going, I have a full tank Buddy

P.S: No, I don't have a temperature. No crap of a movie either. Sometimes you know, letting the pen hold your fingers and just drifting, allowing the mind to be a vagabond....a flat tyre moment is not that bad after all.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Have you met this Rickshawallah?

I have a theory. Rickshawallahs are like potatoes. You can find them everywhere, at every hour and each city has practically its own version. Hop in.

Pratima H

They all have whacky tyre-curtains. They all still continue being loyal customers for Bollywood illustrations. Whether it’s Jimmy aka Mithun’s peeping at you from the bumper thingamajig or Salman’s bully look freezing you in your tracks, it doesn’t matter.

If you are inside a rickshaw, you will see why this genre does not need any social network to follow someone and stamp one’s loyalty. If he espouses a celebrity, it’s there on the seat, behind the seat, around the seat, on the rear-view mirror, everywhere. In fact, the interiors of a rickshaw are the only place (except a serendipitious encounter at some barber shop of course) where you get to randomly bump into a Madhubala poster or a Sridevi smiling in a Urvashi attire.

They all feel at home inside their rickshaw.

They all have a funny hand-pole as a kickstarting contraption.

And they all have some God’s idol or picture at the very centre of their lives, their rickshaw.
But, pause before you paint them with the same brush. Because, every Rickshawallah is a crayon box to explore. In their world, there is no Xerox machine.

Some sing, some spit, some argue, some plead, some fleece your wallet, some pay back the 25 paisa change, some help you as a free GPS and some come back driving one hour 15 minutes to return a bag you thought you had lost forever.

Let’s start with the edgy ones first.

I met this one in Pune. I was new to the city and though I had a bike I always preferred to take a rickshaw when I had to reach a new venue for a conference. There’s no navigation software better than this species who knows his city like the back of his hand, I had learnt.

I shouted the usual ‘Rickshaw?’ in a tone of authority and ten steps ahead, he pulled over.

I got in, apprised him of my pursuit and handed him the co-ordinates, throwing my head back in relief and started digging for my headphones.

But I guess Enrique had to wait that day.

Sonu (as I will name him here for now) chirruped with a Horlicks-charged torrent of questions.

After satisfying himself with his interrogation about ‘what I do’, ‘where am I from’, ‘what’s the meeting about’ to which I concocted fake answers and was hoping to get back to some music, he poured out his drawing-board models.

“Madam ji, I don’t want to be a Rickshawallah all my life. Do you think I can try Mumbai for modeling?”

I gave him a proper look. Yellow shades, Baazigar-Shahrukh hair-cut, funky-silver collared, come-to-battle-Govinda type of shirt and a skull-hanging bracelet. Before I could finish hemming-and-hawing, he chimed in again and told about his well-chalked-out vision.

“I have told Aai that I will save some of this money for my salon. She’s a good woman, I know. Father will disapprove as always insulting my intelligence and will yell every morning as usual. But I will start this salon you see. Even if I need to run away, I will make sure it happens. It will be different. New styles, new freebies, new music systems inside. One day I will be known as personal hair-stylist of Akshay, no matter what.”

I got curious and asked him how much formal education he had covered. Turned out he had dropped out pretty early, but hadn’t bunked the school of life for sure.

The anecdotes he kept telling, the plans he had been hatching, the way he described the city, he was certainly making quick notes everyday.

He knew all the youth-hang-outs, all the malls, all the IT parks, all the Crossword points, all the multiplexes. He could only enjoy it from outside but still hadn’t missed any new movie any Friday since 14. He had some very strong opinions about some latest songs and cursed one or two RJs for playing crap everyday.

When the rickshaw screeched to an action-halt at the venue, I was full of energy that he had rubbed off unconsciously. I didn’t miss that twinkle in his eyes and lots of dreams in his head as he quickly whistled away for another sawari.

I am sure that even if he is still honking a naughty horn and working hard for that breakthrough salon, he is very much tuned in to Imran Khan’s new look.

But, Radheshyam (another alias of course) was his exact opposite.

I got to spend 15 minutes in the holy air of his intensive silence.

I literally jumped in this rickshaw after an exhausting walk out of the Airport. Some kind passengers directed me to get out of the taxi-zone to escape the vanity-show and find a transport with reasonable fare.

His was the first one that drew up, and I didn’t mind paying him double after lugging my suitcase this far.

But Radheshyam didn’t bother about the fare too much either.

We drove in silence all the way till Andheri. He had a Dilip Kumar frown on his face, and his condescending ‘don’t waste your energy on this petty stuff, you mortals’ look that he gave to the cockfighting fellowmen at traffic signals, really filled me with awe.

At one point, I mustered courage and asked, “How has the weather been? Has it started raining here?”

“Hmm.” Came the informative response.

“How far would BKC be at this hour from here?”

“Not much.” Came the very enlightening answer.

My bowl of knowledge brimming and content, I veered off to watching the city in its usual hustle, indifference and chaos.

Breaking my reverie on the quality-of-life and ‘where to is everyone always running here’ chain of thoughts, the phone rang. My cousin filled me in about passing her exams and we discussed her bright and sunny future-plans.

By the time I finished the conversation, we reached the apartment gate.

Exactly the doorway when voice flowed out from the front seat.

Radheshyam almost repeated the question twice before I could believe he had asked it.

“Madam, do you know what one can do after passing Secondary?”

I gave him the usual roster of options and he hesitantly continued.

“My brother is hopeless. He just doesn’t concentrate on education, and I don’t know what will he make out of his life? I don’t want him to end up doing what I do. Please tell me some direction I can push him towards. I will be as strict and as supportive as much as needed. But I will make him a better man.”

I offered all the information I could and he actually smiled when he said ‘Thanks’.

May be it was because he meant it from his heart.
I stood with my luggage, watching him roll ahead into the lanes of the city. My hands held a 25 paisa coin that Radheshyam had made sure to search out of his pocket and hand over.

Well, no body gives back exact change these days.

We are living in an era after all where Rs.6 is instantly rounded off to Rs.10.

As per Muthaiya’s arithmetic at least.

This one I bumped into, in Bangalore.

And I knew the very next second I got in this Rickshaw that I need an interpreter along in this city from now on.

Muthaiya (fictitious name again) did not understand Hindi, English or even sign language.
Or so he pretended.

But as flustered as I was left after ten minutes I knew he couldn’t be that good an actor.

For he was oscillating his head frantically and almost pulling his hair out in quite a convincing fashion.

His countenance was that of a man just out of some earthquake rubble.

I wanted to reach to Diamond district near old Airport Road and he stopped in utter confusion at Domlur. Believe me, he actually asked me to get out of the rickshaw.

My stern glance, angry words and all consumer-activism failed. Before he could push me out with devices like phalanges, I made a practically wise choice to surrender and step down the throne.

I mentally scribbled his ID and number when he mumbled some argument again and didn’t return a penny back for the note I handed over.

But when he whizzed by, I couldn’t help laughing. He was a sight to see - all perplexed, all insecure, all afraid and yet all greedy.

Well, greed is the way of the world now. It’s exactly the witch why the Hansels called trust and Gretels called fun can’t roam about without an-always-alert eye and a stony-rude face.

I was armored with the same don’t-mess-with-me face when I met George, after two days, in the same city.

He was happily cruising around in the nooks of Wheeler Road when I solicited his services.

Happy-as-a-sparrow but burly-as-a-Hippo, George had the same sitting-in-river-water-look of content. He talked like a man who just had a nice, sumptuous breakfast of hot idlis, bacon, eggs, cakes, tarts, and had gulped it down with a flask of Kodiakanal-kaapi.

It was tough not to drop the vain façade and break into a smile in five minutes.

George is a good raconteur if you want to know about the real Bangalore. He relayed his family history, stories of his forefathers, how they came, how they fell apart, how they reunited and how the city has been through tales of drama, change and times.

He asked about all the cities I could reciprocate with some entertainment on. His eyes had the curiosity of Columbus but his tummy and face had the contentment of a peasant’s wife. I have never met someone as happy in his world as this man.

But then it doesn’t take much to make people happy.

Even rude ones.

Like Kishan Uncle in Rajasthan.

I guess we both had a nerve-wracking day and it was easy to get into an argument even if it was a rather old man on the other side.

He was not really all-grey-haired but his face and eyes had that worn-out look of a man exhausted of life. Or cranky.

It was getting dark. The rain was catching force every minute and I was in a hurry to collect stuff from two shops before they started closing. I told him the directions but after a few minutes, he forked out on another route. I got disturbed, and told him strongly to stick by the earlier one.

He told me how he wanted to avoid water-logged spots and how he was doing it out of consideration for the time and comfort of both of us. We both were extremely waspish and stubborn, I chivvied him off with further stern words and soon we both were in a fierce argument.

There was a traffic cop nearby when he insisted on taking another rickshaw and that helped me win the duel.

But while I sat back relaxing on my own route, it dawned on me after five minutes that may be I had gone overboard.

Back here in this part of India, there’s no meter system and every spot has a fixed charge. May be he was worried about money?

I leaned forward and assured him that I would pay a reasonable amount for the waiting time and the detours if any.

He said. “No need Madam.” But his tone was different this time.

One small gentle word can calm a storm and that’s what happened when we both got polite again.

I felt the sincere touch of care when he explained me the safety issues about the routes I had insisted on at this hour.

He was mumbling how it was better if we reached our homes in time and everything when I started wondering about the cares and burdens he must be fraught with to be riding a rickshaw at this senile age.

I made sure I hurry with my chores and pay him reasonably well for his time and with gratitude.

He took only what he deserved and gave the rest back. But we both smiled and waved the white flag cheerfully before he left.

It’s hard to find such Uncles anymore.

No body cares as much. Not as much to come back from the other end of a big city to return a small bag. All the petty cash inside untouched. Suraj, Pune, 2009.

But that’s another story. Another Rickshaw. Some other day.

P.S: It's hard to believe, but some of these do exist in the mundane ones if one has some luck and time to spare. Have you met them somewhere?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Where am I going?

Kids are tested with ‘Fill in the blanks’ in kindergarten exams. When they grow up, the computerized entrance tests take over, it's all about multiple-choice questions from there on. And then, sometimes, for some nuts, life turns a full circle.

Pratima H

THE bar was his first idea, but almost everyone knew him there.

To the mountain, would have required him to trek. The thought itself was exhausting.

To the pizza house may be, but the insurance agent would pounce on him again.

To the clinic would have really been peaceful, but what if there was no queue in the waiting room today! No way taking that chance at a dentist’s who loves her profession way too seriously.

Not even a theatre after surviving last week’s suicide attempt.

Then where?

Shopping malls are too creepy, sea beaches too crowded and temples too noisy.

He just wanted to run away somewhere.

Somewhere he could be at peace, calm with himself and his insomniac mind?

Just anywhere? Away from here.


A place that had driven him mad for the past few days. He found himself asphyxiated on his 25 storey building’s terrace and nothing helped. Nothing helped him and everyone he saw worsened his state. Even seeing a milkman ignited the fits and even watching a stripper was of no help, but ironically otherwise.

Right now, this guy who had chickened out of a ‘how many beers can you drink?’ challenge last Friday, would have skydived out of a plane in the blink of an eye. Just to be alone and to think. Or may be - just the opposite.

Tem minutes later, he found himself sitting on a bench. He wiped some beads of sweat and cupped his face with a sigh. The darkness that his handkerchief and two palms could spin now was way more relaxing than his wrestle-match with all his room’s curtains, light bulbs and at times even the celestial bodies

He has even started considering a nap in this posture when a shriek startled him.

A five year old boy gleamed with a loud cry when the see-saw sent him on top of the world.

His down-to-earth adversary, a chubby six-year old girl with pigtails was waiting impatiently for the heavenly experience.

Besides them, a merry-go-round was already grooming kids into the imperatives of standing-in-queues-and-waiting that their adult life would be all about. But yes, the happy screams of those whirling in joy, made the wait worthwhile.

Swings, toboggan rides, rabbit-chasing, knee-bruising, paper-scissor-rocks, healthy mud-slinging and aimless running around.

Oh, so he was in a children’s park!

Should he breathe out a cuss word at his folly? All this noise, all this disoriented laughter, all this chaos, cachinnation and all these greenhorns running amok! Is this where he ran away from the sea side?

Actually yes.

Ironically, he felt a little respite in this mayhem.

He wanted to be lost. What better than a crowd that is least bothered about you when they have a squirrel to catch!

Lost he became. Shutting out all the volume that had been screeching in his brain for the last few days. The voices in his head gave in. The remote control was back in his hands now. And he happily pressed - mute.

Fifteen minutes into gazing blankly at this parallel world he had parked his soul in, he was disturbed by a husky voice.

“Ain’t gonna go, I am telling you. The park will close soon. The mind will buzz as an obstinate bee again.”

He turned sideways and turned mute himself.

Wow! A face, as charming, as impish and as forever young as Gerard Butler! And the same lethal smile he had envied like since ever.

“ are you?”

The face released a full-of-rains-and-winds laugh before he slapped the answer back – “What if I say I am from God’s Customer Care department? Would you believe me?”

“God’s what?”

“Forget it. You can call me Jeeves. But don’t expect me to hold a tray for you ok. So, now shoot. What’s the problem, dude?”

Silence replied with a stare.

Jeeves smirked, “Girl problem?”

“Oh come on! Why everything in this world has to be about women?”

“Because they are the ones who make the world worthwhile right?”

“Yeah, kind of. But they make it foggier also. Why do they have a million and a half moods? And why is it so complicated to really interpret what they are saying?”

“Or why just women! Everything in this world is so incomplete. Everything has been left in a black hole. The last pages mercilessly torn from a detective thriller.”

Jeeves gave a wise nod.

The outburst continued.

“Do people really mean what they say? If not, why do they say such things? Is it smart to be selfish or is it selfish to be smart? Do naïve people die happier than vile ones? Is there really a pot at the end of the rainbow of race, career and wealth? Is that the pot I am actually looking for? What if it has honey, but I don’t really have a sweet tooth? What if I want noodles inside it?”

“I agree. I would like it be full of peanut butter.” Jeeves piped in.

“Yes, that reminds me, Why are all things full of pleasure not good for health? I love staying up for parties or for work at night, but no, that’s not good for health! Beer, not good. French fries, not good. Driving at 100 kmph, not good. Why?

And why do we have to act all smart and sassy to get respect? Or have a snazzy car to get attention? Why can’t we be like these kids, stupid and genuine? And yet, we ourselves would mock or ignore people who might be silly but have a golden heart? Why can’t we have a golden heart? In fact, why can’t we afford to carry a heart everywhere we go? Why do we have to leave it at the janitor’s locker room when we step inside our offices or colleges or societies? What is so wrong about wearing your heart on your sleeve? What’s so heinous about letting your heart talk? Why can’t we trust our instincts instead of shepherds of this world who know nothing of the really green pastures? Why do we have to do things because some cowards have been doing that for ages? What’s wrong in stumbling? Why is there always someone else you would rather prove yourself to, instead of your own voice? Voice, now why can’t everyone sing? Why can’t everyone dance? We all are born the same right? Then why do some eyes are so beautiful and wise and some so shallow and sly?”

Eyes, the word, distracted him a bit, and he mustered his will not to gaze at Jeeves’ pupils; then he shifted awkwardly but then confessed.

“Why are there some eyes you can’t look into? What’s so scary about it? Why some eyes absorb you like a vacuum cleaner? Why do I feel that a baby’s eyes look right into you, even though a baby looks so harmless? What is so wise about them? Don’t you feel that all the babies have a secret code of their own and somewhere they are all laughing at us? Smart Alecks!”

“And yes, why don’t they let us sleep? Why doesn’t anyone let us sleep for that matter? Why do people make noise while a wedding is happening? Why do they go dumb when someone should really speak up? Why do we all fail to make the most of what we have? Why don’t we do something that will make our life worthwhile? When will we stop existing and start living?”

“When will I start living?” he gasped, “When will I do something that will make me celebrate ‘you live only once’? Anything? Saving a child from the fire or creating a recipe or writing a book or discovering America? Well, not America, that Columbus already did? But what went through his mind while he was at it? Or for that matter the minds of Einstein or Newton or Zuckerberg? They didn’t really know what were they after, and they still were after something?”

“Like what am I after? Love? Spiritual enlightenment? Food? Liquor? Cars? Deadlines? The guy who cut me in the traffic? The guy who broke my trust? The guy who is so disgusting, who wears Prada but smacks of arrogance? Oh yes, by the way, what is the right word for a situation or a remark which is so God-help-me nerve-wrecking that you won’t even react to it? When you really want to pity someone because they are beyond hatred or help? Why are there no words in dictionary for many people and situations? Like - What is the accurate word for ‘mmmmmmm’ when you taste that pav bhaji that Raju in Khau Galli makes? No, don’t say ‘delicious’ or ‘yummy’, it should be more accurate and more, more…like more wholesome….You get what I am saying?”

Jeeves smiled.

“I know you get what I am saying. Why is it that you know that some people would really get what you are saying even if it’s all gobbledygook or baby-blabber? And why is it that some people just won’t get what you are saying, no matter how many brochures you hand out or how many manuals you shove down their throat? Why do the best conversations happen in monosyllables? Why do Dads scold when you hate it and stop scolding when you want it?”

“What else,” Jeeves prodded.

“It just never ends. These questions. And it’s not that there are no answers that make me insane. It’s that why am I asking all these questions? Why can’t my mind rest? Curiosity kills the cat, but why do cats keep peeking all the time? Why does it give a kick when you gossip? And why do dogs bark or howl all the time? Why do they say ‘all men are dogs’? Is it insulting a man or a dog? Why do you call something a hotdog? Is it a compliment if a girl calls me that? Is it a compliment if someone calls you ‘interesting’? Does that not mean in a polite way that one is abnormal? Why can’t air hostesses be less polite? You know they hate you and they still greet you smugly! Ah, greetings! Why do we have to say ‘It is nice meeting you’ to stranger we just got introduced to? We hardly know that person to be called nice? Isn’t there a better salutation?”

“That and more. I am not a doctor for God’s sake. Why do we always ask a mechanical ‘How are you’ on every phone call when we both want to rush to the point? Would we really be concerned if she says ‘Oh not well today, my stomach is a bit upset since the pasta I had last evening’?”

“Why do we waste our time on things and people we know are a waste? Why do we take the more important people and stuff for granted? Why does the whole world look unpopulated when only one person is not around? Why does everything seem so alright when the same person is around, even on the ripped hulks of a sinking ship? Why does it take a ‘Titanic’ to say ‘You jump. I jump.’ Why can’t two people say the very words on a bungee jumping trip or a career-argument or a fight over a burnt omelette?

What’s wrong in admitting mistakes? Why do people use it against you when you admit one? Why can’t we make mistakes? Why can’t we have a tattoo at 54? Why can’t we try a DJ’s life when our friends are fighting for the cheese in B-schools? Why do we call big shots ‘big cheese’? Isn’t that derogatory, like rats after you and all? Why don’t rats live in jungles and make their own cheese? Why are they around us? If they are rats, why do we call some of them guinea pigs? Why are some people like rats and some like guinea pigs? Who are the real kahunas?

Am I a rat too? Why can’t I find a place to get lost to find myself? Why do we have to fill in silence? Why does technology make things more complicated sometimes than making them simpler? Why is there so little space that we need in this big world? What’s so selfish in asking for one’s space? Is it asking for the moon? Why do we need a sun to orbit all the time? Why do I need a car to do that? I can do that on a cycle? So why this fuss over petrol prices? We can be happy with so less and would still prefer to run after the so more and be unhappier. A shabby doll used to make us happy, now a full wardrobe fails to do that.

Why can’t my wardrobe have clothes made of bubble-wrap? It would be so less boring.

Why can’t coconut water be wrapped and stored in bottles or tetra-packs? Why can’t you use flowers in our lunch-boxes and beans in the vase?

Why can’t we make a chilli halwa? Or eat pills in salt-and pepper-shakes?

Why can’t we sing carols in office and nice songs for God? He wouldn’t mind a more creative, entertaining, remixed prayer, would he?

Does God exist? With the world so full of bad stuff and things and people? Are you for real? Who am I talking to?”

At this point, Jeeves put his hand over his and gave a warm, assuring smile, “You need to stop now, and let me say something.”

He breathed a thankful sigh and started to listen eagerly.

Jeeves pulled him along into a story.

Once upon a time there was a weird boy. He always observed things others never looked at. Always peeped out into the boundary of the beyond. Collected sea shells, pollen seeds, honeycombs and thrown-away cans. His friends laughed at him when he stopped mid way during a hide-and-seek game and started gleaning nuts, nails and screws from a new trail. “You are a nut case.” They ridiculed him.

One day, he left his village and joined some nomads.

Something he always wanted to do. To go for a treasure hunt. Even the nomads laughed at him this time. But he never cared.

Some years, miles and bivouacs later, they came to a quaint place, fossils of a forgotten kingdom as they discovered. But they soon grew bored of it when none of the bolted doors or rusted, iron chests opened. The locks were heavy, engineered in a very complicated way, such that their smartest tools, fires and axes failed to cajole them. Everyone left. Everyone but the boy.

He enjoyed the mystery and felt camaraderie with the aged trunks and boxes. They looked incomplete. They way he always used to feel with his curious eyes. Something crossed his mind and in a casual, enjoying maneuver he pulled out all the screws and nuts his own treasure was full of. And lo!

The screws fitted. The nuts jolted in. The nails embraced the holes in a tight grip. In the blink of an eye, everything snapped open.

The boxes now unbolted, welcomed the boy to a world shining with jewels, joy and extraordinary tales of a king’s life. All for the boy to marvel and indulge in.

I hope you got what I am pressing at?” Jeeves said. “The so-called nut, only, had the right nut.” He said slowly pausing on the word ‘nut’.

“So, I am a nut, and that’s not bad?” He asked back, all confused.

“No,” Jeeves interjected. “What I am saying is that the boy would have been the same as everyone, if he didn’t have the nuts, or the screws. Everyone found the treasure, but only the boy had the screws. And only he could open the boxes. Life will give you answers, will bring you to wrecked kingdoms and fairytale places, but before all that, you need to have the screws. The questions….do you get it…to have the questions, is more important! Because you would never be able to savour the answer when it comes, unless you have the questions with you. Forget all the comme il faut, forget what others are after, forget if they call you a nutcase, you collect your nuts.”

His face suddenly relaxed and all the frowns ironed out in the nod he gave back to Jeeves.

Jeeves winked and chuckled now, “Any more questions?”

“Yes, if we ever make the Indian version of F.r.i.e.n.ds, who will play the role of Phoebe?”

“You have figured out who will play Joey already? Don’t tell me!”

“Yes, but won’t tell you now. Let’s save something for the next time.”

Jeeves made a pout and stood up in reply, “Ok, that’s cue for me to go then?”

He knew he wanted Jeeves to stay, but he also knew there were other nuts for him to attend to. He smiled with a grateful handshake and said. “It was really nice meeting you.”

Jeeves gave a naughty grin, “Oh, that one. I am not falling for that. But till you find a better, more honest line, I will take that.”

Before he stood up and sauntered away like a Hollywood hunk, he added, “And by the way, you might want to try the chilli-halwa on your own.”

He smiled in affirmative and sat there watching him vanish into the crowd.

And then he muttered back to himself, “Why don’t Angels leave with visiting cards?”

“Why do grown-ups have to carry visiting cards?” someone standing at his back asked.

He turned to see a bespectacled Harry-Potterish kid looking at him for an answer.

“Well,” he replied, “Why don’t you allow grown-ups on your swings here?”

The kid stepped forth and joined him on the bench, “Umm…I don’t know. May be you have separate parks. Do you have separate schools too?”

“Yes, in a way. And different homework assignments too.”

The kid squirmed his nose and questioned again, “What homework? Are you made to stand outside the class if you don’t show it up? Are you allowed to use a ballpoint pen? Do you have a bigger zoo for your picnics?”

The questions kept coming. They filled him with a merry sigh, he chortled and the only answer he offered was – “I am so so jealous of you kid!”

P.S: Ships are safest in harbours, but is it where they are supposed to be?