Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Why can't I hang live crows on my wall?

Link via Neha, this simply superb 1985 interview of music legend Kishore Kumar, by then Illustrated Weekly editor, Pritish Nandy.

Today, more than 20 years after this interview was first done, I see the legend in a completely different light. Such simple, straight answers that you have to call the man a genius.

Its a long interview (full text here, thank you Neha), but I found it so rewarding as a reader that I went back to portions of the interview..portions like this (partly also highlighted by Neha).

PN: People would have thought you crazy. In fact they already do.
KK: Who said I'm crazy. The world is crazy; not me.

PN: Why do you have this reputation for doing strange things?

KK: It all began with this girl who came to interview me. In those days I used to live alone. So she said: You must be very lonely. I said: No, let me introduce you to some of my friends. So I took her to the garden and introduced her to some of the friendlier trees. Janardhan; Raghunandan; Gangadhar; Jagannath; Buddhuram; Jhatpatajhatpatpat. I said they were my closest friends in this cruel world. She went and wrote this bizarre piece, saying that I spent long evenings with my arms entwined around them. What's wrong with that, you tell me? What's wrong making friends with trees?

PN: Nothing.

KK: Then, there was this interior decorator-a suited, booted fellow who came to see me in a three-piece woollen, Saville Row suit in the thick of summer- and began to lecture me about aesthetics, design, visual sense and all that. After listening to him for about half an hour and trying to figure out what he was saying through his peculiar American accent, I told him that I wanted something very simple for my living room. Just water-several feet deep- and little boats floating around, instead of large sofas. I told him that the centre-piece should be anchored down so that the tea service could be placed on it and all of us could row up to it in our boats and take sips from our cups. But the boats should be properly balanced, I said, otherwise we might whizz past each other and conversation would be difficult.

He looked a bit alarmed but that alarm gave way to sheer horror when I began to describe the wall decor. I told him that I wanted live crows hanging from the walls instead of paintings-since I liked nature so much. And, instead of fans, we could have monkeys farting from the ceiling. That's when he slowly backed out from the room with a strange look in his eyes. The last I saw of him was him running out of the front gate, at a pace that would have put an electric train to shame. What's crazy about having a living room like that, you tell me? If he can wear a woollen, three-piece suit in the height of summer, why can't I hang live crows on my walls?


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The one about Delhi

Self, family and large part of our khandaan were in Delhi over this last weekend for a marriage. Below are some excerpts, thoughts and conversations from the trip. Comments as always welcome.

***

I just love this city. The wide roads, the trees, the greenery, the historic structures. I’ve not stayed here much, and I’ve not seen Delhi in its entirety, so I guess I'm biased and not fully informed. Yet, I wish I get the chance to explore Delhi. And its food.

***

A lot of my memories and images about Delhi stem from movies shot in this lovely city. In reverse order, the ones I can recall right now are – Khosla ka Ghosla, Rang De Basanti, Lakshya in the last few years, before that Monsoon Wedding (and man, did we have one this weekend) and before that Silsila and Trishul. Yes Lodi Gardens, oh yes.

Wasn't Chashme Buddoor was also shot in Delhi ? I’m not too sure (Lallan Miya was a Hyderabadi, right ? I’m a bit confused..but then that place where Deepti Naval stays – remember Kahan se aaye Bhadra? – was so Delhi).

***

The car that picks us up from the airport has a red “PRESS” sticker, at the top left-hand corner of its front windscreen. The car we travel in the next day has “VIP: Rajiv Gandhi some-nirmaan yojana” on it. Neither car has a yellow-on-white/black number plate, as required for taxis. And the traffic discipline. Oh joy. Lanes are for losers, so are signals and speed limits.

***

Single white-board on a tree – one of many trees on footpaths aside roads that seem as large and as smooth as expressways to me – says “Depressed? For cure contact 981XX XXXX”. It was this solitary hoarding on a tree. Too late to click a snap, the signal turns green.

***

Happens with me all the time. So, I wait to recollect what I forgot to pack. This time, it’s a tie. So we (self and wife) go searching for one and land up at “Gargee Mens Collections” – authorized Raymond showroom.

I see it also has a sale of other brands going on. Enter to find six racks of ties. Each one I choose gets a withering look (in the best of Sir Humphrey traditions) from the wife. Not even the one with the dog with lightning bolts on his tail and clover leafs at the border makes the cut.

We finally agree on one, branded “Leonardi”, costs Rs1,095 with a 10% discount. I urge him for more, imploring that we’re from Bombay. He refuses to relent. And so it is that I walk out with my brand new Leonardi tie. Leonardi even has a website. Which I just visited, making me believe that I was had. One born every minute or so they say.

***

Like in Bombay, there are lads selling pirated books at traffic signals. I notice “Master Plan Delhi 2021” in his hand. “Master Plan Delhi 2021” ? which I'm assuming is this. The sight of this book mingling with “How to increase your motivation, confidence and sexual prowess in three simple steps” and “The Kite-runner” refuses to leave my mind. I can’t imagine the BMC’s Master Plan for Mumbai being sold at traffic signals back here. I’m sorry I can’t.

***

Does anyone use “Boss” out here like in Bombay ? Or is it just always Sir-ji ?

***

Phone rings, I pick up: Hello?

Family-member on way to marriage: Haan beta, ye jagah (venue for the marriage) kahan pe hai? Raasta bataana

Me: Haanji, namaste, ek minute rukiye.

(off-phone to other elders gathered nearby): acha, yahaan aas-paas ke landmark kya hai ?

Elder 1: Juhu

Me: Juhu ?

Elder 2: Arre haan, Jhoo, Jhoo.

Me: Juhu ?

Elder 3: Kaisa nalaayak ladka hai, samajh mein nahin aata kya ? Chidiya ghar.

***

So there’s this area with a raised floor next to a table with high-tech audio gear and mounted lightings.

Me (to a worker): Ye kaahe ke liye hai bhai?

Worker: DJ

Me: DJ ?

Worker: Haan, DJ

Delhi guy casually strolling nearby: Haan, haan, yaha pe normal hain

Me (in thought): DJ ? in a reception ?

(Later in the night, when the music is blasting and the DJ is rolling his tracks and I’m standing at the entrance, welcoming guests)

Cute kid clutching my coat from behind: Uncle, uncle, DJ kahan hain ?

(Before I knew it, she’s found the floor, which is already occupied with some 135 kids all dancing to Bidi.)

***

Wife: What does this “Bidi” song mean?

Me : Ah, you know, because it’s cold, you have to light a bidi and then your heart goes on fire.

Wife: then why is Saif telling Bipasha "padosi ke chulhe se aag lele" ?

Me: Er..


***

Meanwhile, SAJNA KE VAARI VAARI JAU MAIN blasting on the stereo

Me: What does “vaari vaari” mean ?

Delhi guy nearby: Oye yaar, like a girl telling her lover "main tujh pe maari maari"

Wife (also nearby): Oh, like you didn't know that, did you ? Hmpf.

***

Aye duniya ootpatanga, kitthe hath te kithe taanga, atte kukdi dendi baanga, ede chak de phattey. I think I’m getting it.

***

This smart and fair Delhi guy catches me and goes: "Acha haan, aap to Bambai se hain. Oye yaar, why don’t you shift to Delhi ? Tum log ki kuch life hi nahin hai. Subhe subhe uthke kaam pe bhaag jaate ho. Your houses are so dingy. Bahut chote hain yaar. Utne paise mein you can get a bangla in Delhi. Family ke liye time nahin, saath mein chai peene ki fursat nahin. Ha ha ha. You must shift to Delhi. Acha to chaliye, nice meeting you”.

Silence

***

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Could you repeat the fruit part please

I don't have a problem with business jargon. To be fair, I work in a business where not much of it is used. And I'm not an MBA.

Still, sometimes it gets to me. So I thought I’d frame a sentence with some phrases that I hear often. Phrases that bemuse me. Sample this -

At the end of the day, to my mind - although I could be completely wrong - I see this particular market as low-hanging fruit.
Here's my take on some components of that sentence...

1. "At the end of the day" - When else ? Lunch ? breakfast ? Come to think of it, when does the day end ? Dusk, sunset, midnight ? And do important things happen only at the end of the day ? Does the fat lady sing at that time ?

Sample usage -
“At the end of the day, he’s our client”. Ah, and in the morning he doubles up as Raju serving us tea and coffee. I tell you, it was that comb sticking out of his pocket that did him in.

“At the end of the day, what matters is winning”. Because we can afford to lose at breakfast and lunch but not when we’re stuffing ourselves with vada pav at sunset.

“At the end of the day, it’s really all in your head” – oh yes and at other times it’s in my pants. Smack that.

2. "To my mind" – no, seriously. And all this time you had me going with that Jedi Mind-Reading trick of yours.

So, let me get this right…till now you were really talking about the secret desires of the receptionist ? or the hidden passions of the VP(Strategy) ? or the never-expressed feelings of that new trainee sitting in the corner of the room too scared to voice his thoughts ? And at the end of the day, you're finally talking your mind. Hallelujah.

I mean what if every hero in every climax of a movie with a time bomb goes “To my mind, it’s the green wire” before cutting it ?

Whose mind is it anyway ?

3. "I could be completely wrong" - oh come on, Einstein. You've ended the day, you've told us what's on your mind and now you're telling us there's actually a chance that you could be wrong ? Oh you modest, unassuming, shy, gallant man, you. How could you be wrong ? I mean, its us dunces who struggle to end the day, who can't read other people minds. Its us doofuses at the table who’d be wrong about this. Not you.

Come to think of it, what if the above hero in the time-bomb climax goes "To my mind, it’s the green wire, but hey, I could be wrong about this". Yes Virginia, there's a bomb on the bus.

4. "low-hanging fruit" – Full of possibilities and ripe for the picking, but I think this is enough for now.

So, do you have any other phrases that pain you ?

PS - Regular posting on hold for some time, as this legal alien heads towards Delhi.