Monday, July 9, 2007

unforgettable, and forgetful patildada!

mr anand p patil remains one of the most happy go lucky and amusing characters i have come across. and most of his amusement stemmed from his single quality or feature. 'patil dada' as he was affectionately known, was absent minded. my senior in IPCL, Baroda, by at least 15 years, no one could beat him when it came to forgetting things. and its not that he had a bad memory, he just was lost in himself all the time. ghulam ali's ghazal 'apni dhun mein rehta hoon....' was written for patil dada it seems.....though except for the first line, rest of the ghazal had nothing to do with patil dada.

even at work, if he was talking to you, and if someone else came up to him, most of the times, he would forget you midway thru the conversation, and carry on with this new person.....we have laughed and laughed at this one special style of his!

once he and his wife were going to baroda city, on 'unka bajaj', baroda being about 8 kms away from IPCL township. as they left the township maingate, he saw a friend, at the bus stop, waiting for the company bus. the friend waved, and patil dada stopped. his wife got down. both these guys exchanged a few pleasantaries, and patil dada said a good bye and zoomed on his bajaj, his wife left behind, red faced at the bus stop. by the time people realized, and began to shout, dada had zoomed into quite some distance. of course, when he came to the next speed breaker, he realized his wife was missing, as the scooter jumped more than usual. and he himself told this story to everyone next day, in the workshop.

and this was the not the only time his wife suffered. once this lovely couple had gone shopping in raopura area of baroda. a long straight stretch of road lined with shops on both sides. as they both walked along, mrs patil entered a shop to see some clothes, assuming, dada would follow her. dada was in his own world, and walked almost half a kilometre further. when he saw a garment shop, he turned to his wife to ask her whether they should check this shop, and realized of her absence. poor fellow then walked back, once more to find an angry wifey.

and i have been a witness to this incident, happened in our workshop, in IPCL. dada attended a job with a couple of technicians, and came back to the workshop, and lit his cigarette. he was then talking to someone, at the same time he opened his locker, to keep his note pad there. meanwhile there was a call for him. so he kept the cigarette, and the note pad inside the locker, closed it shut, and attended the call. it was some thing urgent, so he just left the workshop in a hurry. after a few minutes, a tiny whiff of smoke appeared from the small ventilators of the locker, and then someone rushed to him in the plant to get his keys and the locker was opened to extinguish the cigarette.

his 'bhoolne ki bimaari' was legendary! now patil dada has taken VRS, i am no more in touch with him, and i hope he remembers me whenever we meet....

so much intolerance?

is it correct what i feel? that we indians demonstrate, protest, comment, criticise,interfere, or express more than neccessary? or is it that there ample opportunities now, with the expansion of media in general, and the variety of platforms, and channels available for such expression.

for instance, if you dont like something, you can either send sms to a tv channel or an internet site, or maybe write on the dozens of blogsites available. one can even call the tv channels, send mass mails, or simply come out on the streets.

looking at the size of such demonstrations, i always feel that we have more time for such things, thats why we are so visible.
the other day we had surinder amarnath on a tv channel to discuss cricket! someone who was hardly known for his game, and was known more because he was mohinder's brother. but here too people were calling from long distance, and asking him silly questions, like why isnt sehwag being dropped from the team.
whenever i see demonstrations on the streets in any part of india, on any subject, i wonder about one thing that who are these people demonstrating?

frankly i have never been a part of a demonstration. and when i ask my friends or relatives, even they havent been in any. then who are these people who are willing to come out on the streets in dozens or hundreds, whatever be the issue. and the saddest part is a demonstration against richard gere or amitabh for acting in nishabd, draws out 10 times more people than a demonstration to implement harsher laws against rape! this is the irony. now people have started to blame amitabh for romancing a younger actress in 'cheeni kum' poor guy, he is getting richer with every movie, while his bashers are losing steam over nothing.

contrary to what happens in india, a demonstration for a national issue draws out mammoth crowds in japan, usa etc. here farmers have to brought in trucks in delhi, to show that a rally was a success.

we need to bring down our sugar levels, and be less hyper active. or else a day will come, when someone will burn a neighbour's effigy for playing the tv too loud, a couple of channels will cover this event live, and half the nation will be watching it, sending thousands of sms later, to take sides!!!

we drank the whole night!

my youngest uncle had a long stint at mumbai port trust. 3 yrs back, on ganesh visarjan day, as his younger daughter was preparing pav bhaji, he was watching, next to her, in the kitchen, and without any warning at all, just collapsed and died on the spot. massive heart failure.

my uncle was a great person, always used to have a bagful of incidents to regale us completely whenever we visited our ancestral home in kalyan. what i am narrating here is one such masterpiece, a true incident happened at his office. maybe un believable for a few, but i remember my uncle insisting this actually happened.

people celebrate new year, and his office colleagues were no exception. on 1st or 2nd jan, there was always a discussion in the office, as to how everyone celebrated the new year, people talking about their celebrations, parties etc.

there was a new recruit in his office, a very shy, docile, village bumpkin kind of creature, innocence personified!
when he came to office on 1st january, he also wished a new year to everyone, and then naturally , they all asked him how did he celebrate the advent of the new year.

not to be left behind, in describing his party, he said, with lots of pride on his face. " we were 4 friends, gathered at my place. we got 1 bottle of beer, and 2 crates of soda. aur saari raat pee rahe the.... maaza aa gaya"!!!

mumbaikars, and locals, both are great!!

i tend to laugh a lot everytime i hear this joke. and the first time i heard it, i was in splits literally. there was this simpleton guy, from a village near pune, who happened to visit mumbai for the first time. he had absolutely no idea what mumbai, and its fast life had to offer. once in mumbai he had to travel from andheri to matunga road, and decided to take the local train.

his very first ever experience. he got into a churchgate local alright, but it was a fast local. once inside, he enquired with fellow passengers, as the train skipped parle. they told him it was a fast train, and either he shud get down and change at bandra, to a slower train or there was one more option. some smart mumbaikars told him that the train always slows down at matunga road, and he cud get down from a running train, it was safe. or else if it doesnt slow down, he can always get down at dadar and return back, it was just the next station.

not sure what to do, he continued the journey. now as the local rolled into matunga it became quite slow. so the co- pasengers, asked him to jump down, and also cautioned him to run along with the train, that too in the direction which the train was travelling, and not stop suddenly or else he cud fall. this guy jumped from the train, when it was slow, and started to run parallel, and close to the train. the train caught speed, and he kept on running. the next compartment appeared besides him, and those passengers thought he was trying to catch this local at matunga, so 2 guys just leaned out and gently pulled him back into the train. hehehe, he was back inside!! within seconds!! now what do you call that?

ellapan krishna!

Ellappan krishna was a character. He is a character still, but now he lives in jayanagar in bangalore, and I havent met him since 1992, it has been really long. And yes - I feel as if it all happened just yesterday. Krishna was the first one to not only greet me, when I landed in Kuwait on 26th jan 1987, but also was the first one to befriend me in the flat where I was the only gujju, while all others were from tamilnadu. Our friendship developed for two reasons. First is, he was good at hindi, which the others sort of detested. And second, which I learnt later, because of his slightly whimsical behaviour, he was not very much welcome in their group.

With me he was very nice. Later on, as I got to know him slowly, I realized that he was basically a very helpful person, but misunderstood probably in his own group. Whatever, his appearance was short in height, dark, with twinkling eyes, short hair, and always a beaming smile on his face. He would always greet me in the mornings with a “hello mr anand how are you?” I later told him that he was older than me and should address me as plain anand, and drop the mister!

He claimed to cook every dish in 5 minutes, was known as a 5 minute guy. During my five years in Kuwait, theres not a single recipe that he made, was really really palatable. Half cooked vegetables, burnt eggs, bizarre sambar, I can go on and on with my list…. But everytime he used to put lots of efforts, and made us eat too. And we never had a choice to refuse. We used to go to a restaurant, the whole group of 9 guys, esp on new year eve. The agenda was fixed, dinner at ceasars restaurant, in fahaheel area, a place very close to the major oil refineries in Kuwait, that’s where I worked. On being asked to suggest a dish of his choice, to be ordered, Krishna was quick to say that he would prefer “chicken with boneless!!!” I was stunned, almost about to faint. But Krishna was nonchalant, he never bothered to learn the right way of saying things.

Once, a few days before leaving for India, Krishna was busy shopping, one night he came back with 10 blouse pieces. He called them “blouse bits” when I asked him why not buy sarees for his wife? Why these blouse bits? His reply stumped me. He said “all saarees in Kuwait are imported from India. Seondly if I give saarees to my wife she wont be able to find matching blouse bits there, and she will blame me for my choice of the saaree colors. In addition, half my vacation will be wasted in shopping for blouse bits. This is easier. Give her these bits, and then give her money, and she will gladly buy the matching saarees. Problem solved. See how practical I am mr anand?” I never had answers to his statements, they always bowled me over.

One such purchase surprised me, he came home with a pair of skates. “ I am sending skates for my daughter pallavi.” I said pallavi was just 18 months, its still time before she can use skates. His reply was a Yorker once again. “ see mr anand, my wife has a tough time when she goes out with pallavi, pallavi doesn’t like to walk and wants to be carried in arms by her mother all the time. So heres a solution, now she can wear the skates, and my wife can just pull her on wheels, makes easy for her too, and pallavi can enjoy too” we tried telling him that pallavi’s feet will fly in all directions once she puts on these skates, but Krishna was in no mood to listen.

One more memory of his, when he wanted to make home made wine. He got a bottle of sparkling grape juice, added a spoon of yeast, put the cork back, and kept the bottle in one corner. At around 2 a.m while we were fast asleep, and probably dreaming too, there was a huge popping sound. We all jumped in our beds, I shared a room with Krishna, we cudnt understand what had happened. Switched on the lights to find the cork had gone off due to heavy pressure build up cos of the yeast, and all the juice foamed out of the bottle. That was Krishna. Didn’t accept defeat. “tomorrow I will try again, with a different method”

He was there at the airport in sept 1992, when I said a final goodbye to Kuwait. As I gave him a hug , I could see his moist eyes. Later on he did 5 more years before settling down in blore. So far I haven’t been able to keep in touch with him. Hopefully, someday I will be in jayanagar, to try one of his 5 minute dish!