Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mere coincidence

Meet Rohit Shetty, whose  Golmaals, or whatever Muppets-sets portions I have seen of them, should be sued for assassinating a name that stood for many years for comedy. Seen here deeply contemplating where it's his left nut that itches or the right, and if he should ask the left side of the brain to move the right side of his hand to the left -- no, no -- left, right, right -- frown, frown...

Anyway, Rohit, with all the brain bursting out of his forehead, is a man who believes in things. He doesn't profess to understand them but he absolutely does believe in them, whatever they might be. Depending on which direction the wind is blowing. Not the one from Devgun's greasy colon but you know the wind.... don't ask the man whether it be easterly or westerly... or the brain might burst out of that frown.

Like right now, he believes that we should stand by Mumbai cops. Because, he discloses, if we do not stand by it, we might end up standing in front of them and they might not see the evidence. Worse, they might mistake us for evidence and lock us up. Frownfrown intelligence you see.

The fact that his movie glorifying a cop (and in no way riding on the runaway success of Dabang) is releasing later this week is purely coincidental. RS is not a man who would freeride on tragedies like this for cheap publicity. NO sirrrr. Just like stars would never dance in private weddings for bucks. They do? Frownfrown. Well, I won't... I mean I won't dance... I mean freeride in have tragic weddings... frownfrown.... That itch again....

Do I ask with the left or the right side of my mouth?

Friday, July 15, 2011

New low for Rediff

This is the leading news story right now: Astrological doomsday predictions on state of affairs.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Why is the clown like a thumbprint?

Content for Theatre Garage Project's website. The idea was to link clowning with thumbprints (theme for website) and the Mad Hatter.

‘Why is the clown like a thumbprint?’


‘Why is the clown like a thumbprint?’, the man with the strange big hat and the tiny red nose asked me again.

‘I don’t know what you mean to say!’

He approached me and bent over, hands on his thighs, the shanks bulging under red trousers several sizes too small for him, two large brown buttons at the top of his fly undone, the cuffs reaching his shins; a big blue patch in the shape of a boot on one knee.

‘Why. Is. The. Clown Like. Ayyy. Thumbprint?’

‘Huh! What silly riddle is that’, I grunted, ‘You might as well ask why the raven is like a desk.’

‘Oh, I know that one.’

‘Huh? Why?’

‘Ummm, I forgot. It had something to do with a raven and a desk tho’.’

‘Great help that is’,

‘Tell me, why is the clown…’

‘Like a thumbprint. I got it. I don’t know and really I don’t care.’ Still lying flat on my back on the grass, I propped myself up a bit on my elbows but my hands felt too heavy to lift and rub the back of my head. I looked around, the sky was clear and blue, not a wisp of a cloud on it, and all around me was a spread of grass as green and flat as a bedspread. I looked above – no sign of the hole I had fallen through.

‘I know!’, the man shouted over my head again. ‘A thumbprint is hard, grows all the time and if you don’t cut its head off…’

‘You mean a thumb nail, you idiot, not a thumbprint! Look, I am very tired. I have just come falling all the way down a rabbit hole. One moment I was standing on my two steady feet planted solidly in my world…’

‘What were you doing?’


‘What were you doing there in your world standing on your steady two feet…?’

‘Yeah, yeah. Uhh– nothing. I was thinking.’

‘Yes, but what were you doing?’

‘I told you! I was thinking.’

‘Yes, yes. And while you were thinking, what were you doing?’

‘I don’t know what the hell you mean! I was thinking! What does one do when one thinks – one thinks.’

‘Yes, but what does one do?’

‘Dammit! One thinks! Thinking is a verb –‘

My words seemed to startle him and he sprung from the bent posture like a pair of springs had recoiled under his knee. His eyes, too large for the head – the head too large for the body – widened with surprise.

‘Thinking is a verb?’

‘Of course, it is.’

‘But a verb describes an action, I remember.’

‘Of course, it does. And thinking is a –‘ the word never came. I remembered suddenly what I had been thinking before I saw the rabbit hole and fell in it. I was thinking of what I would do next. I had stood like that for a long time. A long, long time. Thinking about doing something but never really doing anything.

Was I really doing something, or just thinking all the time?

I squinted at the hatter again. His pupils, large and brown like a pair of walnuts, were spinning fast like a pair of flies caught inside, both in the opposite direction. When they would meet at the centre, a hiccough would rise from him, his large Adam’s apple jump like a mouse over the large red-and-white bow, the top of his hat would lift letting out a huge belch of steam, and a small whistle behind his teeth. I watched him with horror as the pupils spun faster and faster like propellers, the hiccoughs gained speed like a piston moving to full steam, the smoke from the hat gained the size of clouds, and the whistles became the toots of a steamer about to set sail. Just when I thought that the pupils would burst from the eyes and go plonking on the grass like marbles, and the head blow off with the next burst of steam, the man jumped to his feet and waved his arms about, his feet dancing the most ridiculous jig I ever saw. He clapped his hands around something and brought it under my nose, with the look of a dog offering me a bone he’d just dug up.

‘See’, he opened the crack of his hands a little, and I bent and peered in the dark.

‘You saw?! You saw?!’, he clapped his hand back and shouted with beaming glee.

‘Saw what? There was nothing.’

‘Yes. You saw! There was nothing!’


‘What was that nothing? Tell, tell!’

‘Nothing, I told you.’

‘Yes, but you have to find something in that nothing. Look, see again.’ He opened the crack of his hands again. I knew there was nothing there, but something in his conviction made me peer again.

There was the black emptiness again, of course - a dark blank nothing. Irritated, I decided to stop this nonsense and ask him help me to my feet –

And then I saw it. A fly fluttering inside, a red fly with the swollen abdomen of a bumblebee and the stripes of a zebra.

‘Why! It’s a fly!’

He opened his palms now, keeping his wrists together and fluttering them. And I saw the red fly break into a pupa, the pupa become a most wondrous creature, a red pixie in a zebra striped bikini, wings fluttering behind her, shaking her mop of wild curls as if she’d just woken up, and staring at everything around with all the wonder and innocence of a first look at the world –

The wings, the palms snapped back on her, crunching her between themselves and she disappeared in the loud smack. A red juice trickled between them and he opened the palms and plucked something from the middle and popped it in his mouth.

‘You brute!’, I shouted and made to lunge at him. But my hands were still too tired to even twitch from the position I was caught in.

‘Ah’, he burped, ‘See. There was something in that nothing after all. I think I will conjure something salty to go with it afterwards.’

‘You horrid, horrid thing! You ate the pixie!’


‘You ate the pixie, you evil carnivorous beast!’

‘Pixie. I though it tasted more like red berry’, he stared at me with such intense wonder again that suddenly I was not sure what I had seen.

‘Is that it?!’, he screamed and jumped on his feet, ‘Is that why a clown is like a thumbprint? Because – because –’ Just as suddenly his knees buckled and he dropped on the ground, sitting on the grass beside me, his chin thrust at me, cradled on the palm of the elbow propped on the patchwork knee.

‘When you where there in your world, thinking and doing nothing, what did you do?’


‘What did you do?’

‘Nothing, I was just thinking.’

‘But you must have done something. Why are you still not there in your thinking nothing then?’

He was right. ‘I saw’, I shook my head, itching to rub the back of it, ‘A hole. A rabbit hole.’

‘Yes, yes!’, his eyes sparkled like a pair of twinkling bulbs, ‘And what was in that hole?!’


‘Nothing, nothing, nothing!’, he was on the ball of his feet now, knuckles dug into the grass and hopping like a mad toad. ‘And what did you do with that nothing?’

‘I stepped back, what else?’

‘Why! Did! You! Step! Back?’

‘Because – Because I was frightened.’

‘What! Were! You! Frightened! Of?’ he was springing all around me like a spring-heeled jack, so fast that I could only see a blur.

‘I was afraid of that nothing.’

‘But! How! Can! You! Be! Frightened! Of! Nothing?!’

I suddenlyremebered that nothing and the fear. My tongue felt like a dry rag in my mouth and my head felt like there was a giant gong tolling inside. Oh, the world to give the back of my head a rub!

‘Look, can you help me? My hands are too heavy to lift all by my own and I need to rub the back of my head to think clear.’

‘Think, you think too much’, he stopped hopping and was suddenly sitting where he had sat before like he had never left the place. He was sipping from a porcelain white cup now, holding a brown saucer in the other hand. ‘I would have offered you some tea, but we’re out of wine.’ He set the tea on the saucer and fished under his waistcoat, and brought out a large sliver fobwatch which he consulted with a deep pensive frown. ‘Ah! Well, six o’ as usual. I guess we have some time to help you then.’ He set the tea and the saucer aside on the grass, and looked at my hand.

‘Why! You’re wearing a glove!’

I didn’t know what to say. I always wore gloves when I went outside.

He craned his big head over me and stared surprised at my other head, ‘And you’re wearing a glove on the other hand too!’

‘Of course I am’, I snapped at him crossed, ‘Gloves come in pairs!’

‘And they’re not even of different colours,! Tsk, tsk’, he sighed and started peeling off the glove from my hand slowly, holding it by an end gingerly like a soiled bandage. ‘So, tell me, why were you afraid of that nothing?’

‘I was’, I watched the skin of the glove slowly lift from my hand, ‘Afraid that I would fall into it.’

‘And what of it?’

‘Well, if I fell into nothing, where would I end?’

‘Well, I would say that wherever it was, it would be a lot better where you were, standing on your two steady feet – thinking’, he screwed his nose like he had said a dirty word.

‘Look, I was something in my world, okay. I might be doing nothing but I had my own patch of ground to dig my two heels in.’

‘Then why did you jump into that hole?’

‘I didn’t jump, I fell!’

‘Oh sure’, he snorted in disbelief. His fingers were lifting the end of my glove so slowly that it had risen only an inch or so from the skin of my hand.

I made to snap at him, and suddenly it came to me again. That gaping hole, yawning under my feet, my legs shaking with fright, and the fall – or did I really fall?

‘Ta-da!’, he snapped away the glove from a hand with a pull.

‘Ouch that hurt!’, but my hand suddenly felt light as air and I lifted it to my face. ‘Why! I am bleeding!’ Dripping was more like it.

‘Well, congratulations’, he mumbled absent-mindedly, sitting and sipping his tea again.

I peeled the other glove away and another bleeding light hand emerged under it.

‘Did you see something in that hole when you fell?’, I heard the clink of the cup on the saucer. I was sitting on my bums now, staring at my hands, flexing my fingers in front of my face, blobs of blood dropping off them. They were bleeding, but they were alive like they had never been alive before. Or – perhaps – once, a long long time ago.


‘You saw nothing in that nothing again’, his voice sounded tired and disappointed.

‘Well, actually –‘, the throb behind my head became intense again, but this time I had a hand free to rub it, which I did, with my eyes closed, ‘Well, I did see something.’

‘Just one something?’

I remembered cupboards and bookshelves, maps and pictures hung on pegs, and jar labelled “ORANGE MARMALADE.”

‘No – many’, I was furiously rubbing the back of my head now, the throb of the back was like something trapped inside jumping and crashing against the inside of my head.

‘Did you grab at it?’

‘No! – Aah!’


‘Because – because they were going away so fast!’

‘Well what of it?’

‘What if I grabbed them and got swept away with them?’

‘Where did you think they would have gone?’

‘I – aaah! – don’t know!’

‘Exactly’, he sighed.

The throb went as suddenly it had come. I opened my eyes and saw him bent over me again, peering at my thumb and holding his against it.

‘Your thumbprint is not exactly like mine’, he said slowly with wonder, ‘Yours are too squiggly and mine go about in quite a good-looking spiral, I must say.’

‘Of course they’re not. No two thumbprints in the world are the same.’

‘Is that so?’, he lifted his face to mine and I cried in surprise and terror. He seemed to have aged a hundred years since I last saw him. I suddenly saw that he was a lot smaller now too, and seemed to shrink with each passing second.

‘What’s happening to you?!’

He ignored my question and fished out the fobwatch and consulted it again. ‘Six o’’, he sighed, ‘I must be going now.’

‘No! Don’t!’

‘Oh, I must. I know now why the clown is like a thumbprint. I will go and search for some other riddle.’

‘What if I fell again?’

‘Are you sure you fell I nthe first place?’, he was the size of an overgrown toad now.

‘No’, I whispered.

He smiled, ‘You should have played with everything that came along. You never know where all you might have gone.’

‘Yes’, I was weeping now, ‘You sent me those things and I spent all night dodging them. I should have just let those things sweep me away.’

‘Oh I didn’t send anything. I was here all the time having my tea. You sent yourself those things – cough cough cough!’

I wiped my eye and looked at him. He was on his back now, an old dying frog with a white goatee. His eyes were grey and green and very tired, looking at me.

‘Please send me another hole. I won’t dodge the things now.’

He sighed sadly, ‘Oh, you will. Cough, cough! But that’s all right. When the things come out of you from that nothing, you will be afraid again. Because you don’t know what it might be and where it might take you. You’ll start thinking again and do nothing.’

‘Oh, I won’t. I will do something, anything. I promise.’

‘Ah, no one knows whether you will or not. Or if anyone will or not. It doesn’t matter really. What matters is that one tries.’

‘Yes! I will try!’

He smiled, looking very tired and small now, ‘You will?’

‘Well, I’ll try to – try.’

He smiled one last time and disappeared in a puff. All that was left of him now was the top hat. I stood on my feet and bent to pick up the hat. Under it lay the tiny red nose.

I lifted the nose, and the ground fell crashing away all around me, a wave starting from my feet and spreading to the horizon, the green stretches of grass collapsing in thunderous roars, leaving a vast gaping black nothing under me, and just a patch of ground beneath my feet.

My legs shook madly with fear again, and I spread my hands to balance myself in that slim purchase I was left with. Despite myself, I looked below and found an endless chasm of nothing. A howl rose from somewhere: I thought it was the whirlwind sweeping in that black hole beneath. It took me a moment to realise that it was coming from my own inside. I opened my eyes again and again saw nothing – yes, nothing – no, something – something floating – whose shape eluded me.

There was only one way to find out.

I put on the red nose and jumped.