Friday, July 20, 2012

Manipal Blues

Charlie Chaplin, that maverick Genius, once famously proclaimed, “ I love walking in the rains so that no one can see me crying.” Though I am an unabashed fan of this versatile comedian, I do not agree on his this philosophy. Grief is an intrinsic part of a human life. It is that curse which one has to carry; an albatross for having being born human. If we can share happiness and joy, why our grief should be hidden. What is so macho about not crying? I like to wear my emotions on my sleeves. Perhaps it is this openness that encouraged many youngsters to come and share their problems with me. The range of pathos was incredible. I heard some of the most absurd to the most heart wrenching tales. I do not know if I succeeded in providing any solace to the troubled souls. If I failed, it was definitely not for want of trying. Manipal has its share of tragedies every year. Many students die of accidents or suicides. Accidents are sometimes unavoidable but suicides are definitely not the solution for any problem. I remember two students who were underperforming in their academics and betrayed suicidal tendencies. That they chose to change their mind was more credit to their inherent courage than my persuasion. If they happen to be reading this, I once again tip my hat to them. A human being is capable of absorbing any tragedy however serious. Time is the balm which eases the severity of pain. I saw two profiles in courage which make me proud but still makes my throat go wet whenever I think of them. One morning we had barely opened the store when a couple walked in with a ten year old son. The dine-in staff is never happy to see anyone that early. It upsets their rhythm. One of them was about to tell the family that there was still one hour for us to open when I noticed the child. He was in crutches and was helped by his father on a wheel chair. I called my staff and told him to continue with his cleaning and I would handle the guests. They told me that they had come from Bangalore for their son’s operation. I asked them to have a seat and handed them the menu. The mother was apologetic and said they could come back later. I offered them soup and sandwiches as they don't need oven. As their order was being prepared I chatted with the kid. I was surprised that they had come all the way from Bangalore. But the father told me that the Manipal Hospital is one of the best. The kid was handling the pain with admirable dignity. As they were finishing their food, I offered the kid a complimentary truffle cake. His smile brightened the store. “Uncle tomorrow is my operation. will you come to meet me.” Like Sheldon in ‘The big bang theory’, I have an aversion to Hospitals. I am quite healthy and whenever I am sick, I try to manage self medication through Google, not a very healthy practice I must say, but quite effective for me. But I heard myself saying, “Meet you? I am going to be there all the time while they operate you inside.” He gave his signature smile once again. Sadly, his operation was a failure. His parents were dejected. But he was all sunshine. “We shall come next year again. I shall then be able to walk without crutches.” I waved them through teary eyes. Today when I close my eyes, I imagine him playing football, the game he dearly loves. An optimist like him will definitely win the odds. Another time, a young girl studying commerce in a local college in Udupi, came with her old grandmother. The old lady was diabetic. She had multiple allergies and was a high blood pressure patient. But she was insisting on eating all kinds of foods. “ I am not going to live long. Let me eat what I want to.” She kept on saying. We carefully planned her menu within her choices. She wanted to try mint mojito, our most popular drink. The young lady was worried about the impact. I am not an expert but I knew that all carbonated drinks were not good for her. I had a brain wave. I asked her if she would have lemon tea with me. The old lady said that she couldn’t find it in the menu. I winked and said we keep it for special people. I went to my apartment and brought the tea bags. As the young girl excused herself to go to the wash room, the grandma conspiratorially winked and said she wanted her tea with sugar. Again she repeated that her family doesn’t understand. She won’t live long. I joked that she could have sugar if she promised she won’t die here in the store. I don’t want cops to arrest me for murder. She laughed naughtily and told me she had a half pastry in the afternoon. We had a great time and regaled each other with funny stories. While paying she wanted to pay for the tea as well. I told her it was on me. After a week the young lady came and informed that the old lady had expired in her sleep. Her last real meal was the one she had in Pizza Corner. While dying she remembered me and asked her granddaughter to thank me for the tea. It was a poignant moment. I looked out at the bright sky and pointed to the star that was twinkling the most and said, “That must be your grand ma.” She smiled and squeezed my hand. Her eyes moist, she said, " Thank You."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

An open letter to Rahul Gandhi

Dear Rahulji,
I am a great fan of yours. Whenever I look at you ( sadly which is rare! God, why can’t we have more elections), my heart flutters and a thousand cuckoos sing. I don’t honestly know whether the damn bird sings. But I started loving them after some silly reporter compared you with a cuckoo. Never mind she was sarcastic. Thank God your Italian is better than your English and it went over your pretty head. You smartly retorted , “ Do I look like a cuckoo !” we Congressmen, all cuckoos, applauded.
I wonder what took me so long to write to you. I have a great respect for entertainers and trust me you are right there at the top. You were like a uncut diamond. Then you found the perfect Guru. You know most of the comedians shine in pairs. History is replete with such examples. Abbot and Castello, Laurel and Hardy, Tom and Jerry. Now you two. Digjvijaya Singh cracks us whenever he opens his mouth. I think after Sholay’s Dialogues, no other dialogue has won so many admirers as his ‘ Blame it on RSS’ comments. Why ,RSS should seriously make him their brand ambassador!
But this is about you and not him. Thanks for providing us so many happy moments. Because of you , I now look forward to all the elections because that is the only time we get to see you. I can’t miss the entertainment you provide for anything in the world. Imagine you naughty boy. Tired of mommy’s bland pastas. Eating at the road sides, sneaking unannounced into some poor tribals hut and stealing their food. It must be fun isn’t it. But remember boy. Momma sent you on serious business.
You are a real chip of the old block aren’t you. Your father provided us with the same hilarious moments. Remember his famous, “ Hum jeetenge ya loosenge” or his mixing up the name of the cities where he was canvassing. He was a good man like you. Your father. May his soul rest in peace.
These days it is fashionable amongst us Congressmen to request you to become a PM. Don’t listen to those numbnuts. They are not really your admirers. After all what more will you get after becoming a PM. At least now you are like a Lotus ( Ouch. That must be some RSS conspiracy.) No blame sticks on you and no credit ever escapes you. (We congressmen are smart and know which side of the bread to be buttered. Sorry Rahulji. I am a dyed in wool congressman. You know our English. I am sitting with a book of Idiots which my Idiom son gave me. He is slapping his head. Dad You mixed the idiots and the idiom. Innocent boy. He doesnt know us politicians he he. We can babble for hours without making sense. What are a fewed mixed words! But my Italian is better ,trust me. )
‘ All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. So go play Jack. I mean Rahulji. Perish that thought of becoming PM. You can be away half the time of the year cooling your heels or whatever in UK or wherever , come once or twice a year, read some silly statements written by some lackey in Parliament ( They are terrible I may say; but your charisma carries them through ) and then again go on a vacation till the next election. Thanks to all that rest, You are always sparkling. We haven’t forgotten all those gimmicks. That ride in a local, hehe, booking the whole bogie ,fooling no one except that silly press. Remember the english media going gaga. Stupid English press. Honestly half the idiots join the english press. ( The remaining join the TV.) Don’t worry about them. They literally eat out of your hands.
You just don’t worry about the common man also. He is dumb too. That is how your family ruled so long. But you must be wary of only one person. She may destroy your Utopia. I worry for the day Lil Sis joins politics. Don’t get me wrong. She isnt smarter than you! Nah my prince. No way. But we live in a sexist world and sadly more than half of this world is made of testostrone driven youngsters. Just think what competition will your cute dimples give her.
So beware. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Finally Good Luck for UP my Prince. We are praying that you do better there than Bihar.
Inshallah you will ( Election time Prince. We want the Muslim votes don’t we. Wouldn’t hurt a little Urdu here.)
Khuda Hafiz.