Monday, June 30, 2008

A Gita quote remembered

When I had just entered the IIT, I had a sneaking guilt that I was still not a deserving candidate.

Now, after twelve years of rubbing shoulders with smart kids from Bangalore , Delhi and the Stateswhose fathers knew how the world worked,it seems kind of silly. But somewhere I can still remember that gnawing ache of lifting the small box that was my world then and seeing the vast one beyond - and the only lever there was was academics. For all of us.

I still remember the homesick moments I shared with Goel just after landing in the campus; where he even contemplated leaving the college for LU. Yes, the Excel Goel.

But this is not a mawkish post regarding my somewhat humble beginnings - but about a quote that stayed with me from those years.

I did very well in the first semester but in the second semester, I really screwed my mid-sems. It's difficult to communicate the horror and the shame that one can feel at that time: I actually can't "feel" it; just remember it. Some of my very good friends never came out of that loss of ego from the five point tag; but that's a different story. I needed support; I needed guidance. But it was not "cool" to worry about acads, and, anyway, it was a personal battle.

I pasted the oft-quoted Gita line: "tum bas apna karma karo, phal ki chinta main karunga." on my door.

It gave me courage and is one of the three-four quotes that I have held very close to my life.

The thing was: my interpretation was that persevere and things will follow.

I succeeded.

By the second year, I was not even studying and results were following.

Thing happenned: I found myself at places where I didn't want to be. I didn't know where I wanted to be, just that whatever it was, it wasn't here.

Struggle, more emotional than physical, followed. Reinventions.

Over the years, I learnt somethings about myself - a faculty I was not gifted with but had to acquire.

Now, the quote still lingers but I think the "phal", the fruit of the action, that Krishna eludes to is more in the tone of a father telling the son to just run the race.

The action itself is the fruit.

Because the action comes from what you are - it is your sense of self projected.

Fruits, as many make them out to be - success, money, fame - are too trivial in this quest for the self. I have had more than my fair share of successes, but would have rather have some actions that I passed over.

That's my interpretation right now.

Perhaps it would change. Perhaps there is a "fruit" that I still can't see hanging. Perhaps, nirvana is not as simplistic and escapist as the construct I rejected as a kid. Maybe there's something beyond.

The beauty of ageing is knowing: there are truths that can't be forced otherwise (by truth I mean self-perceptions: I am too unwise to get into arguments regarding what truth actually is). You might read a million books, discuss impossible theories with brilliant professors; but they come to you when their time has come:like a whisper in the ear as you sleep. Like a wisdom tooth or a whitening root or the hint of a wrinkle.

And some quotes, poems, stories, art - acquire another meaning then.

I think that's where great art.

I wish I was more refined and deeper in my thinking to probe beyond this rather inarticulate thought.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Books inedibly

When Bacon talked about books to be devoured, I am sure this was not what he meant.
This is going to be a bit corny but I am trying to follow a train of thought.
At the popular level, a book can be compared to a dish; anywhere between gourmet and badly burnt.
That brings us to what makes a good dish.
Effort, perseverance, balance, and the range of ingredients, spices and experience at the disposal of the chef.
I think a simile of how that ties with writing a book would be redundant: the parallel is pretty evident.
I will just stick to popular fiction here.
Harry Potter would be a rehash of an old favourite recipe people had forgotten.
Chetan Bhagat would be the 2-minute noodles that impatient kids would gulp down and just do away with the temporary stomach ache. Taste is not the issue here, just hunger.
Brick Lane would be a bland rice and daal (bhaat in this context) with very little of the salt.
Most of the chick lits are the heavily spiced chat that girls love to have –like Shobha De’s columns – all spice, no content.
English August is a seven course meal that grows on you with each serving.
Mitch Albom is the chicken flavoured soup – smells like a regular chicken soup, tastes like it too, but not the real stuff.
Above average is a cake well done mostly but, sadly, burnt at the edges. And no icing.
Angela’s Ashes series are the recipes that a master chef held within himself for years and years till he finally decided to step inside the kitchen and delight the world.
That bring us to Ishiguro. Always a chef who tried to make something joyfully heavenly in its simplicity by poring his heart and sweat out in it; and yet. Just a hint but something missing. But one day, he cooked Remains of the Day and was elevated to one of the grandest master-chefs of today.

McEwen, Rushdie, Marcquez are too grand to be called mere chefs – they are wizards.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Adieu Carlin

so the era of the greatest stand-up comics is now well and truly over. Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and, now, George Carlin.

I have lost the last living hero I had.

I started listening to Carlin for the obvious reasons - his total mastery over language and the shock value. Who else ever mentioned pussy farts but him? Or shout "F**k the children!"? Half his repertoire is dedicated to farts ("shit without the fuss and the muss") and incest.

but like anyone who has heard him, I soon realised that to dismiss Carlin as one of the IMDB commenters said a risque comedian is like mistaking Gandhi for a bastard bania. A fanatical atheist, Carlin was more a reformer than a comedian. His description of comedy as "finding where the line is and then stepping over it" underlines his life-long crusade, in fact all the three's (Bruce Pryor and Carlin) against the hidden tyrannies and stupidities that govern us, our beliefs and our politics.

Carlin's work can be broadly described into these themes -

Language and how the corporate or politically correct jackasses are corrupting it:

Airline Announcements: "People like to sound important. Weathermen on television talk about ‘shower activity.’ Sounds more important than ‘showers.’ I even heard one guy on CNN talk about a ‘rain event.’ Swear to God, he said, “Louisiana’s expecting a rain event,” I thought, “Holy shit, I hope I can get tickets to that!”"

"I’d like to mention something about language, there are a couple of terms being used a lot these days by guilty white liberals. The first is “Happens to be” ‘He happens to be black’ “I have a friend, who happens to be black” like it’s a fucking accident ya know. Happens to be black? Yes, he happens to be black. He has two black parents? Oh yes, yes he did. And they fucked? Oh indeed they did. So where does the surprise part come in? I’d think it’d be more unusual if he just happened to be scandinavian.The other term is openly. “He’s openly gay” that’s the only minority they use that for. You wouldn’t say someone is openly black well maybe James Brown. Or Louis Farrakhan, Louis Farrakhan is openly black. Colin Powell is not openly black, Colin Powell is openly white, he just happens to be black."

Our stupid lives

Driving Cars


Fuck the Children! (I know it sounds very tasteless but listen/ read to it and then form a judgement)

Seven words you can't say (His most famous routine)

And my favorite: Complaints and Grievances


The new commandments

Small things no-one notices or mentions

I was actually planning a post on why India, more than any other place, needs a Carlin.

We the biggest democracy, are taking a nosedive towards being the most intolerant society as well. If everyone gets offended by everything that is not according to the locally defined norm, where is the space for the power of speech. By reducing democracy as the lowest common denominator of all conformist beliefs, prejudices and intolerance, we have effectively gagged everything - not unlike the caste system that gagged all winds of change for two millenia.

As Carlin said, nothing is sacrosanct. Not religion, not children, not even beliefs that we have held for a thousand years. If someone says it is, it needs to be ridiculed and attacked. We can only be serious about anything only after we know we can laugh at it.

June 23rd will now be called, the day, the era of comedy, that took the world by its throat and shook all the hypocrisies out, died.

Sadly, to a lot of successors, all that passed down from Carlin was his ribald style. The poetry and the philosophy within was not understood.

Adieu Carlin.

Watch him in action here: Carlin on Youtube

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ants in the pants with regard only scants

1. Someone told me today she likes men with personality. What the hell does that mean?

Everybody has personality. Even a mousy looking, bespectacled and stuttering accountant (the example is according to the "standard" the girl was probably talking about). It might be wussy to you, but it's a personality all right - a wussy personality.

2. i hate the expression - "Believe you me". of course, it's the "you"the speaker is requesting the credibility of. that's how conversations work -- when you're speaking to someone, you're speaking to him. every time somebody says this, i want to scream - of course, it's going to be me! do you see anyone else around? just a way of stretching a short sentence by a syllable.

3. Over a discussion nmy beloved ChetanBhagat, somebody passed a judgement that language should always contain the most basic synonym. Just coz the generation today is too illiterate to know otherwise, out of the rich possibilities of synonyms, each with its own nuance, I am to call a simper a smile, an ebullience a shine, an so forth.

4. In another discussion, somebody advised me to never qualify verbs and adjectives with more adjectives and adverbs. and i was thinking, in a single sweep, this person has disqualified everything that i love McEwen and Banville for.

5. I am trying to squeeze in my first chetan bhagat between a Ben Okri and Rushdie. Enough said.

If you're one of those wasted Gen Mediocre, have a triple scoop sundae - chocolate, turd and butterscotch: and you'll know how it's like for me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Billy Wilder

I just can't make up my mind about this guy!
every movie i see of his follows a definite pattern - atrociously mawkish and melodramatic followed by sheer brilliance.

His worst that I have seen rank as -
1. Stalag 17 (1953) If Shawshank Redemption is the best prison-life movie and The Great Escape the best jail-break, Stalag 17 is the worst of both of them. You have to see this movie to realize that B grade humor and melodrama is not exclusively a Bollywoodian heritage. (Of course, Holloywood gave us the biggest B-bull of all time - Independence day - as full of cliches as a gutter full of cockroaches.)
2. Witness for the Prosecution (1957) Comes with the tag line of "Once in 50 years suspense like this!". It was as suspenseful as watching water-buffaloes block you car and shit along the way. Charles Laughton, as the quintessential Briton, plays it in quintessential Churchillesque cliche. The dialogues, intended to capture the British wry humor, are self-conscious and as forced as a man on a bog with constipation. You can see the "suspense" coming from a mile off and if I had been part of the royalty, that was sworn into keeping the "secret" by Wilder before the screening, I would have gotten him drawn and quartered thereafter.
3. The Apartment (1960) If the otherwise redoubtable Jack Lemmon had gotten a tad more sweeter, I would have had a sugar attack. Btw, this one swept the Oscars - another example about how the Oscars is hardly a benchmark of excellence.

1. Sunset Blvd. (1950) Besides the heart-wrenching performance by Gloria Swanson, if ever there was a movie lifted from good to greatness by its last scene alone, this is it!
2. Double Indemnity (1944) saw it yesterday and the reason for this post. Despite any visual violence and the murderer confessing to his crimes at the very beginning, the movie keeps r fingers gripping the edge of your seats for the whole 1 and a half hours. Edward G. Robinson is so brilliant as the hard-nut-to-crack actuary that even a 2-minutes speech on the subtleties of actuarial statistics keeps you as locked as Jack Nicholson's "You can't handle the truth!" in a Few Good Men.

Of course, Raymond Chandler's screenplay was the best reason for the noir-cult classic Double Indemnity.
But if I dismiss that, how do I account for the fact that the same guy can make such tripe and cinema-defining classics?

I am reminded of the missing-for-a-long time Pankaj Parashar, a man who could serve you the best and the worst on any given day.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Watching Leon: And on plagirism

I am watching Leon for the first time. I have been staving off the last half an hour for almost a day now. I'd hate it if Leon dies. But there is this imminent finality hanging over the movie like a cloud. And I was thinking, Natalie Portman, due to turn twenty-seven this month, has already starred in the Star Wars, Closer, V for Vendetta, Heat and Leon - among other films.

I didn't watch Leon for all these year coz i watched the first hour of its stomach-churning remake - Bichhoo (Guddoo Dhanoa's brilliant take on Luc Besson). For me, reducing the beauty of the complexities of a relationship between a 40 year old hitman and a 11 year girl to the blaring Bollywoodian mediocrity of a horrible Rani Mukherji and an uber-asshole Bobby Deol is blasphemy -- punishable only by stoning to death.

I watched Aamir today. It is based on a movie from Phillipines , as I read in a review, with all the complexities of choices that the hero makes cut down kindly for the retarded bunch of us, and the director smugly claiming to be the writer of the script. and Anurag Basu actually got the indian answer to Oscars (as prestigious and rare as a kudos card in my company) for Metro's screenplay - probably the committee wisely reasoning out that even if the Apartment's writers were still alive, they would hardly take the pains to accept their calls, leave alone fly down to accept the award.

There is an inspiration; and there is a plagirism. Of course, everybody claims the former innocuous alternative, but Midnight's Children was inspired by Tin Drum, Metro's BPO plot was a lift from the Apartment. The difference may be expressed in words but I feel that it's like comparing a honest genuine man with a charlatan - you just know it.

And actually honesty is at the heart of it. We have created a bunch of rhetoric to extenuate dishonesty ("It's just business","He also does it.") but basic ethics have remained the same for millenia and, thankfully, a part of our moral being and not the intellectual: and, hence, impervious to rhetorics. A liar claiming a story that is not his: the problem with people like me is that we can't get to the story part after the liar bit.
There have been great remakes and they have been properly referenced: Scent of a Woman, for example. (Interestingly, the director of the Italian movie it was based on passed yesterday.)
I am a bit extreme on this and, to me, even if Anurag Basu goes on to make the greatest movie ever, he will always be a thief: and a petty one at that. If you have to borrow, reference it.

Also, do we really need recycled stuff? Was Zinda really more Indianized than OldBoy? and what is this Indianization? Dubbing and cliche shots of Indian nukkads in place of alleys and sidewalks? Brown for white and yellow?
Do we really need localisation to enjoy great art? Has the power of Shakespeare ever diminished in any tongue, except by a few nuances lost in translation? (Please note: Translations are a different proposition here, the motive being to facilitate interpretation.) As an Indian, is my experience of Marquez and Dickens naturally diminished?
Great art trancedes context. I bet that the ending scene of It's a Wonderful Life can flood the Indian drawingrooms with more tears than a Shahrukh hamming remake. And the most contemporary example is one man: Mel Gibson. Has the raw power of The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto been diminished, or immensely enhanced by keeping the dialogues in the native tongues of those times?

As a nation, do we really need to experience the beauty of world cinema from the insensate cataract-riddled eyes of Bollywood?

Friday, June 06, 2008

Ketkar's article


The Loksatta editor was attacked by the usual ShivSena weenies for the following article following the announcement of a Shivaji statue taller than Statu of Liberty yesterday

It appears that all the problems of Maharashtra have been solved. People are not only happy and contented but are looking forward to a magnificent future. There are no indebted farmers in the state now, no suicides, no deaths caused by malnutrition. All children go to school, there is no unemployment among the educated as there is tremendous growth of industry as well as the knowledge sector and everyone has been employed. There is no question of the unskilled or the uneducated being unemployed because there is no such person. All the rivers and small and big dams on them have irrigated most of the land, including the drought-prone rainshadow belts. Obviously, there is no food shortage and, in fact, Maharashtra is surplus in food. There is no load shedding and not only is Nariman Point-Colaba shining but the whole state is illuminated. Dr Abhay Bang had espoused the cause of Arogya-Swarajya. That cause has already been achieved and the average lifespan in the state is 100 years.
This great success could not have been achieved without the farsighted leadership, commitment, conviction and vision of the state government. The credit for this goes to Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil. That is why the whole state is applauding and saluting their leadership. Indeed, that is why the people of the state are immensely delighted that the duo that rules the state has taken up the grand project of erecting a magnificent statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, right in the Arabian Sea, across Nariman Point, about one kilometre away. The government has decided that the statue will be taller and more grand than the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour.
The very idea of such a statue, mooted by the Congress-NCP four years ago, was welcomed by the whole Marathi people. Such a monument was the necessity of the hour, to announce to the world that Maharashtra is a state of warriors and patriots and the symbol of that spirit is Shivaji Maharaj. That is why Victoria Terminus was renamed as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). Instantly after the renaming, trains began to run on time, crowds could be managed, corruption disappeared, the local train journey became comfortable, like in the European suburban railway, and there were no accidents. Could this have happened without the glory of the name of Shivaji Maharaj that adorns the station now? Then the state and the people took the initiative to rename the domestic as well as international airport of Mumbai. Both are now renamed as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj airport terminal. Like a magic wand, the airports became efficient, employees began to behave courteously, flights were punctual, take-offs and landings perfect, no more hovering in the sky looking for landing spots. Who would have believed this if it had not actually been experienced by the people? Was it possible without the miracle called Shivaji Maharaj?
Naturally, the government felt that having solved all the problems of the people, what remains to be done is to tell the whole world of the greatness of Shivaji. The government has decided to have more than one acre of land inside the sea acquired and filled so as to build the monument, which will attract all global tourists. All facilities will be given to the tourists. There will be a museum near the statue, artifacts of the 17th century, Shivaji’s personal effects, swords and shields and attire. There will also be directives issued by the Maharaj to his administrators on how to govern and make the people happy. Along with the museum, there will be shopping malls, selling T-shirts with Shivaji’s painting. There will be Shivaji key chains, Shivaji gift items, including cutlery.
Of course, there will be no beer bars. So obviously, there will be no dance bars, which the Deputy Chief Minister R.R. Patil detests so much. There will be perhaps wine, which according to the leader of NCP, Sharad Pawar, is not alcohol. So wine will be sold and served along with Coke and Pepsi and other soft drinks. There will be swadeshi McDonald’s as well as vintage Marathi vada-pau, which has been renamed by Uddhav Thackeray as ‘Shiv Vada-Pau’. There will also be ‘pani puri’ sold by the MNS activists of Raj Thackeray. No ‘bhaiyyas’ will be allowed to do business, only locals will be engaged.
The monument will inspire not only the people of the state but all those who visit Mumbai. The globe-trotters will go back to their respective countries with the message of Shivaji Maharaj, and the glory of the state called Maharashtra, where every person is happy and contented. It is the most ideal place on earth and anybody looking for a role model should look at the creation of Vilasrao Deshmukh-R.R. Patil. Did anyone else think of and visualise such a fantastic idea?
The monument would be ready soon. In the year 2010, on May 1, the state will be celebrating its golden jubilee. Could there have been a greater tribute to the image, symbol and glory of Shivaji Maharaj than such a statue, standing in the middle of the sea, warning all the terrorists to keep off Mumbai, and to keep away from India because the people of Maharashtra protect and promote the idea of a Great India?
The piece originally appeared in Marathi. It has been translated into English by the writer

Ketkar's article

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Reading Rushdie's Enchantress from Florence...

Article on Rushdie in Rediff

When you want to learn whether or not you've made a difference to people who read literature, all you need to do is take a trip down Mumbai's busy crossroads. Wait a while as the traffic lights turn red, and look for young children weaving their way through the parked vehicles, balancing little piles of books in their hands as they rush to the faces in open car windows. If what you have written features among the photocopied, pirated titles they hawk, pat yourself on the back and walk away satisfied.
Ahmed Salman Rushdie could have, by that yardstick, patted himself a great many times over the past two decades. His novels continue to be part of those little piles. They continue to foster debate in and outside classrooms worldwide. They continue to hog large portions of bookshelves, at stores and libraries and homes. And, perhaps most importantly, they continue to encourage younger generations of writers to reach for their keyboards or writing pads in an attempt to up the ante.
For over a quarter of a century now, Salman Rushdie has continued to serve at what keepers of the canon refer to as the high altar of literature. Irrespective of the success he has enjoyed during that time, he deserves an award for that service alone.
Born in Mumbai around two months before India attained independence in 1947, Rushdie's stories have forever been tied to the country of his birth.
The city he lived in until he turned 14 (before moving to Pakistan and, subsequently, England) first occupied centre-stage in his work in 1981 -- when Midnight's Children was published -- and continued to make an appearance in the years that followed, from Shame (1983) to The Satanic Verses (1988) to The Moor's Last Sigh (1995).
India continued to play her part too, be it in collections of essays such as Imaginary Homelands (1992) and Step Across This Line (2002), or novels such as The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999) and his latest work, the much-applauded Shalimar the Clown (2005).
These days, Rushdie is doing publicly what he has long done in private -- mentoring young writers. He is currently a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where, for the next five years as distinguished writer in residence, he will teach weekly literature seminars for graduate students. Emory has no doubts about this valuable addition to their faculty. Which is why it also opted to buy his papers -- almost 100 boxes of personal material including computers with his e-mails, pages of typescript for The Satanic Verses and a great deal more.
Over the last twenty years, then, Rushdie has slowly moved from freelance advertisement copywriter to successful novelist; from international writer to world treasure.
He has, along the way, picked up everything from the Booker Prize for Fiction (for Midnight's Children) and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, to an Arts Council Writers' Award, Whitbread Novel Award, Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger (for Shame), Writers' Guild Award (for 1990's Haroun and the Sea of Stories) and, for good measure, the Booker of Bookers (again, for Midnight's Children). And then there are those eight honorary doctorates laid at his feet by universities from around the world.
Like all things, with the good has come the bad. Sadly, the reason for Rushdie's overwhelming celebrity is a book that has overshadowed his finest work.
He could not have known, when writing about Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha -- two Indian actors falling to earth from an exploding Air-India jumbo jet -- that his life would change so drastically. With the publication of The Satanic Verses came death threats and calls for his assassination. It led to him spending years underground.
That episode still eclipses much of what makes Rushdie a powerful figure in world literature. There is Grimus (1975), his exercise in science fiction that draws on a twelfth-century Sufi poem; there is, of course, the hypnotic Midnight's Children, with its star Saleem Sinai and a thousand others born on the eve of India's independence; there is Shame, a powerful indictment of Pakistan's Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Zia-ul Haq; Haroun and the Sea of Stories -- an allegory that continues to delight children and frighten adults; The Moor's Last Sigh's (1995) exposure of right-wing Hindu fundamentalists; The Jaguar Smile's (1987) exploration of the outcome of the Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua; and the prolonged cry of pain for all that Kashmir has lost, in Shalimar the Clown.
Taken in its entirety, this is a strange, wildly exciting blur of traditional storytelling and fantasy. It is a body of work that has led to the creation of new genres, and new means of definition. Before Rushdie arrived, for instance, academics simply didn't know what a 'historiographic metanarrative' was.
There have been other controversies too. Like his public support in 2006 of comments made by the British leader in the House of Commons, Jack Straw, criticizing the wearing of the veil. The fatwa against Rushdie continues to stand -- it was reaffirmed in 2005 by Iran and requests for its withdrawal have been denied -- while he simply continues to hold forth as a powerful advocate of free speech, be it in his past role as president of the PEN American Centre or current one as supporter of the British Humanist Association.
For Rushdie, this has been a lifetime of speaking out; of taking on those trying to silence voices of dissent. He continues to make his presence felt, as a powerful influence on the literature of our time, and also as an Indian abroad. Over the years, irrespective of whether he continues to write or not, Rushdie can only gain in stature. His work will attract generations of admirers, and continue to inspire new writers.
Above all other achievements though, he deserves recognition for what the Russian playwright and writer Anton Pavlovich Chekhov once wrote in one of his letters: 'A writer is not a confectioner, a cosmetic dealer, or an entertainer. He is a man who has signed a contract with his conscience and his sense of duty.'
Salman Rushdie is that man.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Perssonally yawrrss

A friend had asked me to verify his address for a perosnal loan he has taken. Today morning, I got a call from an unidentified number as I drove to work.
Female caller:'Am I speaking with Gaurav...?'
Me:'Yea, Gaurav Joshi here.'
'Is this Gaurav Joshi?'
'Yes! This is Gaurav Joshi! What is this regarding?'
'Hello sir.'
'Hello. Please I’m driving... is this regarding personal credit thing?'
'No sir. This is regarding offer.'
'Ok. Yes. I know him.'
'Who sir?'
'Santosh kumar.'
'Do you want to speak with him?'
Conversation in the background:'Santosh... tere se baat karega.'
'One minute sir. He’s jussst coming.'
'Hello! Who?!? what is this...'

Somebody playing jal tarang... Please hold the line as your call is very important t us.... somebody playing jal tarang... ... Kripya thdi der prateeksha karein. Aapki call hammare liye bahut mahhatvapoorna hai.... somebody playing jal tarang... ... Please hold the line as your call is vry important t us....

A pause.

'Hello! Who is this!'

... Please hold the line as your call is very important t us.... .... somebody playing jal tarang...

Somewhere in the next millennium.
'Saaree phaur keeping you baiteeng ssir.'
' What is this regarding?'
'Do I know you ssir?'
'Why the... Who are you?'
'Ssantosh ssir. Ssantosh Kumar.'
I take a deep breath.
'Santosh, is this regarding a personal loan jo mere ek dost ne liya hai?'
'Aapke dost bhi lena chaahte hain ssir?'
Nahi. Koi nahi lena chahta. Aap kya mujhe personal loan bech rahein hain?
'No ssir.'
'To phir yeh kya hai?'
'Ssir, wee have an aafar phraum Maauntin Club!'
'Ok. Not interested.'
'Ssir, only vun paint phive lakhs.'
'Nahi, main interested nahi hun.'
'Aapko aur aapki missej ko ssri lanka, malaysseea ya thaaeland ka return phlight aur 8-9 din ka...'
'Bhai, meri koi wife nahi hai!.'
'To ssir, girlphreind to rakhte honge na?'
A feeling, a moment flashes. Me sitting on the buses to home during the college days dreading the moment when the magazine vendors will slither in and come forcing the cheapies in front of my protesting face.
'Bhai nahi lena, bola to!'
'Sir. Isme khul kar likha hai!'

I am too flabbergasted to respond.
'Ssir, aapko teen maheene tak kuchh nahi dena hoga.'
'Bhaiya! Main interested nahi hun!'
'Kyun ssir?'
'Bhai, nahi hun to nahi hun!'
'Theek hai ssir. Phir mere ko kaahe bulaya time kharaab karne ko!'

A couple of hours later.

A timid – ‘Am I talking to Gaurav..’
‘Ma’am. I talked to you in the morning. I am not interested!’
‘Sir, aapne mere se kahaan baat karee. Aap to Santosh se baat kar rahe the.’
‘Right. Aur maine use bol diya tha ki main interested nahi hun. In fact, he banged the phone on me.’
‘Sir uski taraf se sorry bolti hun.’
‘It’s all right. Thank you.’
‘Sir, ab to maafee bhi maang li, le leejiye na!’
‘Pleease sir.’
‘Gah.. Uhh.. I am sorry but..’
‘Sir leejiye. [Background noise] Hello?’
‘Ya hello?’
‘Ssaary ssir.’
‘Who’s that?’
‘Ssantosh, ssir. Ssaary sir.’
The pimp is back.
‘Bery bery ssaary... ssir.’
It’s a voice creepy enough to keep you grandmother locked in after the evening. I imagine, Ssantosh tasting those hissing esses slowly with a wet, rolling tongue over a bishop piece, or a knife, he is holding in his other hand.
‘That’s all right. Santosh, I am sorry for jo bhi hua par...’
‘...[call transferred] ab sab OK hai sir?’
‘Thanks. I am sorry...’
‘...Sir, ab No mat kahiyega!’
What the fuck! She’s coming on to me like a sister in a rakhi scene in a B-grade.
‘...Look I am busy right now...’
‘Sir, Santosh se phir se maafee kehlaa deti hun!’
‘Nahin, please! Aap muje thoda time dein. ‘
‘Aap ko baad mein call kar lun sir?’
‘Yes, Please do that.’
‘What time sir?’
‘Any time but baad mein...’
‘...Ok Thank you sir!’

Guys, I have to raise 1.5 lakhs omhow. And the next time you want to take a personal loan, don't involve me please.