Monday, July 9, 2007

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!

No comments: