A Prime-time Rendezvouz

Had an opportunity to have a dinner with the two most famous indian names in the world of mathematics in recent years. They were: Prof. Manindra Agarwal ('Primes in P!' fame - deviced the first deterministic polynomial-time algorithm to check primality of numbers which will be extremely significant for cryptography and many other things in future) and Narendra Karmarkar (invented a ground-breaking algorithm that improves the capabilities and lowers the cost of linear programming). We shared information, anecdotes and jokes (information coming mainly from their side...;-) over the dinner. Even after experiencing the pinnacle of world-wide fame, these two showed the slightest amount of self-indulgence, lack of idiosyncracies characteristic to world-famous scientists, and an extremely down-to-earth attitude.

Could not help comparing these two with the (now former!) Chief Minister of Maharashtra who did not even get up from his seat when two revered personalities like Pt. Bhimsen Joshi and Ut. Vilyat Khan (in their eighties and seventies) were standing on the stage on the last night of the Sawai Gandharva Music Festival in Pune. I expected the CM to eventually touch their feet during the felicitation, but soon found how naive my expectations were. The CM could not speak proper Marathi (addressed people as 'rashik'), but was quick to say 'alla-taalaa aap ko lambi umar de' to Khan Saab. I could just read it on his face that he was thinking about some probable minority votes while saying that. In a similar situation, however, the Prime Minister assisted Pt. Bhimsen Joshi by holding his hand and asking him whether he wanted some water, before he could drink his own! (Just a note: Though I do exercise my right to vote, I am not aligned to any parties and am largely disgusted with politics).

Felt lucky that most of the people whom I am likely be associated with do happen to possess the basic etiquette of (at least the minimum amount of) respect towards people.


The Punch-em Magic!

Recently attended a programme on RD Burman organized by 'panchammagic.org' on his nth death anniversary (n unknown to me). (Panchammagic is essentially a bunch of RD fans who have shown a great amount of dilligence and have put in loads of greatly appreciable work in collecting everything related to their idol, RD Burman.) Gulzar and Bhupinder also attended the programme and shared their memories of RD. Gulzar, especially, was were very entertaining with his tounge-in-cheek humour.

The programme featured song 'visualization' of RD, and there is hardly any doubt that he excelled at it. However, not all the songs/music pieces being cited as examples of visualization could qualify as great musical/visualization achievements. Just to give an example, 'do naino men aansuu bhare hain' from 'Kinaraa' was qualified as a great 'lori', but there are several examples of musically better loris, composed and picturized in a much more effective manner. I personally think that the organizers got somewhat carried away in their RD-bhakti in branding some of these examples as great works of art.

In fact, IMO, one aspect where RD has NOT always done well is composing music according to the requirements of the song and the lyrics. He composed unforgettable tunes for some songs but did not necessarily make justice to the content of the songs (many exceptions exist, the prominent ones being Aandhi, Parichay and most of the cabaret songs..;-))). In the programme, 'aate rahte hain' from 'Musaafir' was also shown as an example of great visualization (based on the truck viper moving in the same rhythm as the song), but IMO the song and the tune itself was too mature to be picturized on a truck driver. Gulzar's 'shaam se aankh me nami sii hai' as composed by RD is much less mature and more gimmicky than the jagjit singh version. 'tan kii laagi' (from 'dil padosi hai') is too westernized for the content of the song. In addition, several other tunes exhibited in the programme had very similar (and rather ordinary) tunes and did not really stand out.

Given all this, the organizers of the programme could be commended for being the most loyal devotees of RD, but then it was evident that they had lost the analyst's persective while acquiring the devotee status. So, even with all their enthusiasm and initiative, they seemed more like ISKON members ;-)

RD, surely, was a great musical phenomenon. I admire most of his songs for melodic richness, variety of temporal structures adopted in background rhythms, original experimentation and effective use of singers' individual abilities. However, I am not comfortable in branding him as the greatest composer in the history of hindi film music. There are several others who have excelled in various aspects of music and it would be a great injustice to the likes of SD Burman/Madan Mohan/Salil Chaudhari/Roshan/Naushad/Shankar-Jaikishan/Jaidev/Khayyam/Hridaynath (if you consider his marathi songs), if one were to single out RD as the greatest. All of them had certain strong and weak points, and most of them excelled at what they did for most of the time.

I also sense a sort of a sub-conscious effort on the part of media to bring out RD as the representative of the older generation of Indian film music. Such effort happens through re-mixes, since almost all the re-mixed songs happen to be RD songs (there could even be some re-re-mixed (tri-mixed?) songs for that matter. There is no rule regarding that. The only rule about remixes is that the total area of clothing worn by the people in the video of a remix is inversely proportional to the number of remixes the song has undergone). Such effort happens through local new-generation music channels like Radio Mirchi in Pune, where the 'oldies' being played the chirpy VJ's are pre-dominantly comprised of RD songs. I think, all this is merely based on the assumption that only RD music is going to survive the test of time, and it is this assumption that drives the availability of music! It is a vicious cycle, and you could indeed land up in a situation where only RD songs are available to the next generation. I do not object to RD music surviving since it carries the older generation's quest for high quality music along with it, but do feel bad about the possible extinction of cherishable music by other composers, solely due business forces largely ignorant about music. In such times, RD's music would indeed stand out as the best, but there would be no music around worthy of being compared to his music. Calling Einstein a genius would be meaningful only when surrounded by Schroedingers and Paulis, not when the only people around are Salman Khan and George Bush, Jr.

Content Advisory!
Mr. Ranjit from Nepal was specially invited for the programme, since he was an integral part of RD's rhythm team due to his excellence at playing a rhythm instrument called 'Maadal'. This invited an instant question from one of the witty (not the witty-danDu one!) spectators: 'What would Mr. Ranjit be called if he screwed up while playing 'Maadal'?' Of course, the answer was 'maadalXXXX' (experts urged to fill in the blanks). This was indeed corroborrated by Bhupinder later during the programme, when he said that the atmosphere during RD's rehearsals was so informal that people often used to shed 'maa-bahen gaalis' at each other. The witty spectator could once again instantly anticipate what RD would have said if the whole band screwed up....;-)))


Here is another real-life 'C' story. It features the same C who was in search of Taaya some days ago. I am fortunate to have a friend like him, since he somehow manages to provide me with enough material for increasing my reputation as a story-teller. He is certainly a suitable candidate whom I could dedicate my Booker prize at a later date in future. I have not given enough thought to a Nobel yet.

A Tale for the Digitally Challenged

C and his younger brother K were out on a Sunday trip in their mid-size car. Having C as a integral part of the story compelled the car to break down at a suitable place near Tingare Nagar. There was nothing akin to a garage or a repair shop in sight and the car manufacturers normally do not put their service stations in such places. C and K stepped out of the car with the intention of knowing things that could have gone wrong with the car. C being a mechanical engineering graduate began opening the hood, whereas K being a computer engineer restarted the car without any value addition.

Quite a spectacle they were for innocuous passers-by (or passer-bys?), when they discussed the probable sources of the trouble and possible ways of troubleshooting with great intensity. One did not need to be a rocket scientist (you anyway would not find any in that area) for guessing that the subject of the discussion was a broken-down car.

Their level of engrossment in the argument could easily be gauged by the fact that it took them quite some time to notice the stranger standing next to C trying to assimilate each and every word in their conversation with great concern. The stranger was an ordinary-looking fellow (since he could not be classified otherwise) sporting an unassuming smile on his dark face. A bizarre handkerchief (with a colour combination that could put Andy Warhol and Govinda to shame in a single shot) popping out of his dirty pockets was the only noticeable aspect about the man's appearance. He (let's call him S1, i.e. stranger no. 1) somehow emanated a feeling of having understood the whole situation and at the same time, conveyed a great deal of sympathy, the kind you see in an altruist. This made his face look like the face of Albert Einstein superimposed on that of Mother Teresa. Not being able to withstand constant attention from such a face, C broke into a smile that one could use to greet such faces.

S1 immediately pointed out that there was a possible problem with the vehicle under scrutiny, which thought was smart enough. But that was what the Einsteinian face of S1 had to say. What followed came from the Teresian front and did provide some sort of solace to C and K. S1 volunteered that he could summon a friend of his (let’s call him S2, shouldn't we?) to help out C and K from the dire situation. S2, according to S1, was more of an artist than a mechanic. He had the abilities of knowing the pulse of a sick vehicle and could easily regenerate even the most hopeless cases with his almost magical abilities. On noticing the gratitude oozing from C and K's lightened faces, S1 left with a patronizing smile, promising to be back with S2 in a jiffy.

The jiffy referred to by S1 did prove to be longer than what C and K had imagined it to be. C opened the hood of the car again and being a mechanical engineer as told earlier, tried looking intently at each visible component under the hood with a subconscious hope that it would make the car work. Nothing of that sort happened. K being a computer engineer could not do anything of great value and stood there contemplating the futility of his brother's education.

The jiffy was finally over. S1 and S2 emerged on the scene, and pushed aside C and K from their respective positions under the hood. Before C could react adversely or otherwise, S1 insisted that S2 could take care of the job and there was no need for worry. Then, for a great number of moments following the moment under consideration, all C could hear was a metallic banging sound arising from different geographic locations under the hood. He did not know whether that was good or bad, but the randomness of the outcoming sounds did invoke a feeling of discomfort in him. He tried to gain a better insight into the events taking place under the hood by jutting his neck prominently above S2's left shoulder.

C could see the blade of a screwdriver being thrown in uncontrolled swings and in its way colliding with each intruding surface that belonged to the car's engine assembly. He thought that this was the most alarming situation. But when he looked at the hands that perpetrated the motion of that screw-driver, the degree of 'superlativeness' of the 'most' in his earlier expression was greatly diminished, and he was compelled to be most alarmed in an entirely fresh sense of the expression. The hands that held the screwdriver hardly possessed any digits! There were small, discoloured stumps that remained as the only evidence of a possible past existence of fingers. C turned his head in surprise only to notice a similar state of affairs with the nose that was associated with the body bearing those hands.

S2 was a full-fledged leper!!!

C was not very good at handling lepers, as he had not done it before. Still in an astonished state of mind, he forced K to take a look at the state of affairs. K, being accustomed to the 'digital' world, could also not be called a virtuoso at dealing with digitless paradigms. Finally, they decided to continue gaping, but looking in the general direction of S1. They had to move their gaze a lot, since the object under their attention had moved swiftly towards the car door, opened it with a frightful snap and turned on the engine keys.

Much to the surprise of all present on the scene (excluding a myopic hen who could hear a whirring sound, but could not associate it with any vivid object, and who thereby chose not to be surprised), the engine had started. S2 kept on banging at his metallic adversaries with his glorious weapon. C and K tried their best to crash the Guinness Book World Record for the largest gape ever, but failed by a very narrow margin on realizing that they could not bear the attention that they gathered merely by looking that silly (and looking silly is an integral part of beating a GBWR). The loud noise of the engine coupled with the incessant heavy metallic banging by S2, created quite a polyphonic discordant symphony that would have made all the great Western composers de-compose in their respective graves. The crescendo to the 'cock-o-phony' was provided by the disapproving croaking coming from the myopic hen.

To the relief of the general world, the whirring and the banging and the croaking, all ceased one by one, once the engine had died again after a minute worth of animation. Yet, S1 approached C and K with a triumphant smile, that resembling the same donned by Venkatesh Prasad on getting rid of the last tail-ender of Bangladesh. He confidently demanded a sum of Rs. 100/- for 'settling the things with the engine' and for using the services of his mechanic-cum-artist-cum-leper friend.

Even if K was a computer engineer (and even if C was a mechanical engineer, for that matter), they could easily surmise that the chaotic banging of the weapon and the starting of the engine were merely coincidental, though they occurred in temporal continuation. They refused to accept that the engine was started owing to the efforts of S2. But C being a PJPVNJ (refer to my earlier article) type, did offer a tenner to S1 for the good-will he had shown. Though not entirely satisfied with the reward for his friend's valuable services, S1 did approach C for accepting the remuneration. As the proximity of S1 with respect to C and K increased, both were subjected to an olfactory stimulus originating from S1 that also intensified with the increasing proximity.

Reality dawned on the darkened faces of C and K - Though their appearance belied the reality, both S1 and S2 were totally drunk. They merely FANCIED that they were mechanics!!!

C pushed the tenner in the hands of S1 and discharged towards the car. Both C and K, completely crestfallen by now, sought an asylum in the car in order to recuperate from the shock and discuss future course of action.

Towards the recuperation part of their plan, they immediately uttered a joint sigh of relief as they got in. They thanked themselves that it was not night-time and that they were in a relatively safe area. They could also have discussed the future course of action, had they not been interrupted by exceedingly blaring notes of 'saathi haath baDhaanaa....' that could have made the myopic hen proud of her own musical abilities. The voice belonged to S2, the leper, reclined on the back-seat of their car, who by now was imagining that he was the owner of the car, and had instructed the inefficient chauffeur to drive him to his mansion using a couple of rich expletives.

C and K did manage to drive S2 away, and they did get the car repaired. It featured involvement from the likes of Devdatta, Navnath, Mukesh, Noor bhai and others, before it was finally fixed by Anil and Shabbir. But that's another story...

C and K did not worry about the tenner that S1 kept as a tip, but were more than relieved to find that S2 had not left a 'tip' of his own in the back-seat of 'his' car.


Some Oil & an Unrelated Crisis

Sunday, 1:00 PM

Am having a solitary lunch in a restaurant called 'Madhuban' situated in the most cosmopolitan area of Pune and am thinking about the sheer amount of oil accompanying the Dosa that could have solved any number of those Middle-East oil crises.

A bunch of ladies are sitting on a table diagonally opposite to me (and this is not by design). They seem to be (semi-)clad in the most modern of the clothes (or should I say upholstery?). Seems that they have been sitting there for a very long time by the sheer impression of interia they convey. The best profession that one could associate with them is modelling, but that also seems unrealistic after a moment of pondering. I (happen to) overhear their conversation. They are talking about all sorts of cosmetics and clothes and cars and ambiences and so on. One would have to greatly stretch one's imagination in order to identify any 'intellectual' aspects in their conversation. They somehow do not seem to be very well 'educated', judging from their English (which happens to be 'hi-fi' just owing to its accent). The conversation, though gives an impression of informality, is very formal in its essence. And above all, there is hardly any humour.

Several questions crowd in my mind which by now looks like a Churchgate-Virar local on Dr. Ambedkar's birthday:

- What do these ladies do for a living?

- Do they earn anything? Or do they entirely rely on their parents/spouses for a living?

- What is their level of education? Even if they have been educated in the most expensive schools, what is the worth of that education?

- Do they pay attention to their children (if any)? Or are there housemaids for that purpose?

- What is their value to anyone in their family or the society (though they do provide some means of generating employment to certain people, they indulge themselves more in products such as designerware and cosmetics that do not generate a lot of employment to the lower sections of the society)?

- Do they have the 'sensory resolution' needed to enjoy life? Do they understand the microscopic pleasures of life such as subtle humour?

- Do they at all do anything original?

- If they do not do any of these things, what do they DO in their life?

While I am sorting all the accumulating questions in order of relevance (though the random guy sitting alone [just like me] on the unoccupied part of my table, is wondering about what could be so intriguing about a bit of excessive oil in a Dosa), a shrill cry from the street kills all threads of my ongoing mental process. It belongs to a street urchin A who, while competing with a competitor B in bagging a 'gaaDi-pochha' (vehicle cleaning) client C (who just parked his brand new Pulsar bike in the no parking zone) has got into an argument with B, who in turn has slapped A with a powerful slap generating a lot of heat and sound, while C looks on in amusement.

The bunch of ladies are perturbed by the noise and cast a collective look of utter disgust at the street urchin who is by now uttering some of the best explitives that I have heard in recent times.

Now it is my turn to cast a similar look at the bunch of ladies. I do it with utmost involvement while congratulating the street urchin A for his august achievements in life. The word 'achievement' howoever make me hyper-click the hyper-hyper-link to my earlier blog entry quoting sahir ludhianvi. I opt to take it easy and instantly attain a Nirvanic expression conveying malice towards none.


I have added this article in order to corroborate the reports (from casual, unsuspecting observers) of senile geriatric decay at an accelerated rate in my person.

Excerpts from the incoherent mumblings recorded (in Dolby 'hy-stereo') while seeing the Light at the end of the Tunnel

"terii aukaat hii kyaa hai?"

This question has been raised by many a screen villain and/or a haughty father of wealthy heroines. This qualification automatically makes the question a subject of instant ridicule and entertainment that accompanies it. But, the same question as posed by philosophers and thinkers – ancient and modern – is as grave and serious as a question can be.

What is the standing of a mere mortal human this universe? There have been most intriguing theories regarding mortal existence, some of which even manage to look realistic from a scientific and rational perspective. In his theory, the noted biologist Richard Dawkins argues that humans (and for that matter all life forms) are merely the survival machines of genes. The genes use the survival machines for replication and leave them. In the real world with limited resources, replication of genes leads to an increase in the number of these machines, which is detrimental to the gene's blind objective function of maximizing replication. Therefore, the ‘aging gene’ – to discard the used machines after their job of replication is done.

Ancient philosophers like the creator(s) of Bhadvad-Geeta propound that as a person changes soiled clothes everyday (though some of you do not) and wears new ‘Surf-Excelled’ clothes, a ‘soul’ changes bodies. However, the concepts of ‘soul’, ‘self’ and ‘consciousness’ are rendered redundant according to new philosophers (such as Daniel Dennett), since all these are just a manifestation of the extrapolation by the human brain and hence, attributable to the ‘mundane’ electrochemical activities occurring in the brain. Impressive as the words may seem, they are merely as physical as digestion, excretion and reproduction.

Whatever the philosophers propound, the insignificance of our lives is manifested in all walks of life. A casual glance at the night sky may easily make (even) a BBC Mastermind India finalist face a flurry self-humbling philosophical rapid-fire questions such as ‘What is all this? What is the size of the universe? Who are we? WHY are we?’ and other crap of a similar genre. And yet, in the social sense, we are hell-bent on proving our status and standing, by being self-important, by running after goals, by being proud of achievements, by conjuring up a ‘divine’ cause for creation and so on. The reality is that we have reached a stage where we can’t help doing all this though we realize our insignificance. And I think that’s what is called being ‘human’.

Taken in a more materialistic sense, the above questions can be re-phrased as ('re-phrasing' is what great philosophers do when they run out of objectivity and I want to sound like a great philosopher.): Do achievements mean a lot in terms of existence? Does a human being have to be a great achiever in order to lead a ‘successful’ existence? How is ‘Success’ defined? Does a human being benefit from being remembered even after the being perishes? What is the achievement of the so-called ‘common man’?

Sahir Ludhianvi, the great lyricist, defines this achievement of us ‘common men’ in an insightful sher. These ball-bearings of life (as the great Marathi humourist Pu. La. Deshpande calls them), take all the wear and tear of the society and keep on going. Had all these ‘common men’ been great leaders and achievers and thinkers and scientists and artists and geniuses, would there be any value for greatness? Who would bear all the grunt of mediocrity? (On a side note: I think mediocrity and genius is viewed on a fractal scale. You find geniuses on a global scale, then you descend to a local scale to further find a set of local geniuses and so on. Every individual seems to be an institution in itself if viewed on a suitable local scale! In addition, there could be imagined another local scale describing the variation in one's own (relative) genius and mediocrity, not only in terms of different attributes, but also at different times.)

Sahir (having forgiven me for the detour) says,

"maanaa ki is zamiin ko na gulzaar kar sake
kucch Khaar kam to kar gaye, guzare jidhar se ham..."

Arthaat: “I know that I couldn’t create gardens on this earth. But I did manage to clear some thorns on the way (by picking them up with my feet!)…” The 'common men' take a lot of beating from life and we all learn from the mistakes of common men like ourselves. That is probably the ‘value’ of our existence.

The convenient moral of the story is that the concept of ‘value’ lies in how one looks at life. (It is not, but I could not find a suitable story to match the pre-determined moral.)

If the attitude is the so-called 'positive' one, there is a value to everything. At the same time, with the most cynical of the attitudes, even if one finds that there is no value to one’s life, it is also apparent that one cannot help the situation. Therefore, one need not be bothered about one’s miniscule existence. Living life as it unfolds may be better than engaging in a quest for value or purpose and getting pained on the way. And if the quest for a 'thinking man' reveals that the human existence is excruciatingly insignificant, one should have the courage to take it – rather than building pillars like God and religion to support the house so slight that it can float in thin air.

After all, whatever we mortals say about ‘greatness’, ‘value’ and ‘purpose’, the truth could be as simple as ‘It does not matter’. Everything is a mere perturbation in the greater picture of the universe, a mere drop moving here and there in the vast expanse of the sea of existence.

Well, maybe we are better off not thinking about these things in the first place. Maybe I should have chosen a better subject. Maybe you shouldn’t have gone through this article and sat in front of your screens looking like complete jerks having nothing worthwhile to do whatsoever. Maybe… ^C


Added commenting (has neat garbage collection features).
Now one can clog the blog with comments, as the same one knows that one (or the other) cannot be executed for commenting.


Disclaimer: My humble bloginning is probably enough to keep the readers sedate for another week. The following is based on a highly true story. All characters are real, except the surrealistic hen.

A refreshed account also contains additions that were arrived at in consultation with C (one of the leading characters in the following narrative).

In seach of Taaya

A couple of days back, a friend of mine, C, (who is normally referred to as PJPVNJ - 'praaN jaaye par vachan na jaaye' - death before breaking a promise), promised his father that he would attend to household duties and 'get the flooring fixed' (some sort of masonary work - remember E. A. Poe's 'the Tell-tale Heart'?) by the end of the day. Having given the 'vachan' and not in the mood to part with his 'praaN', C snoogled ('Snail mail' : vanilla post :: 'Snoogle' [snail google] : making a couple of calls here and there and getting information without worrying about its validity) and found a couple of places where he could get the required raw material. He embarked on a remarkably successful quest at the end of which he was in possession of a couple of bags full of cement, sand and all such delightful stuff.

However, he soon realized that he was missing the two biggest pieces in the puzzle - the mason (called the 'gavanDi' in local dialect) and his apprentice (called the 'bigaarii'). The mason who had worked for him in the past was one 'Taayappa' - affectionately called 'Taaya' by his acquaintances (who happens to be the centre of attention of the following narrative). C, being a methodical person, defined his problem clearly and crisply - Taaya, for all practical purposes, was not around.

After some more snoogling, C found that the guy whom he should approach in cases where one is confronted with a missing Taaya, would be a guy called 'Siddhu-sheT', who happened to be a labour contractor. Snoogle.com defined the whereabouts of Siddhu-sheT by a Heisenbergian definition as 'he could be at his home or with his mistress or with others on the Yerawada corner'. Though the first option seemed probable and the second one interesting, C settled for the third owing to his own spatial proximity to Yerawada.

There was indeed a bunch of people, who could be called either Siddhu-sheT or Taaya or something similar, at the Yerawada corner. C floated an enquiry about Siddhu-sheT. A random bloke happened to be a distant relative of Siddhu-sheT, and much to the relief of C, volunteered to take C to Siddhu-sheT's place.

A ten-minute drive through intricate roadwork led C and the random bloke (henceforth referred to as RB) to Siddhu-sheT's house. Siddhu-sheT was promptly missing. Questioning the housemaid (of the neighbouring house) revealed that there was a paan-Thelaa round the corner where Siddhu-sheT normally hung around. Somewhat dejected at having missed the opportunity of locating Siddhu-sheT with his mistress, C was somewhat relieved on not finding Siddhu-sheT at the paan-Thelaa. However, every cloud has a silver lining (though it normally rains heavily after you notice such things), and the same was provided by another individual, who skillfully spitting the red-coloured content of his mouth, introduced himself as 'Soma', the 'most-preferred' apprentice of Taaya.

RB was very happy that he had helped a troubled-looking guy like C in finding a relevant contact, if not Siddhu-sheT, and demanded that he be dropped back to the Yerawada corner. C promptly thanked RB and came back to Soma after a round trip to the Yerawada corner.

Having made some progress in the quest for Taaya and sporting a brand new pillion rider (Soma) on his two-wheeler, C was almost complacent till Soma expressed his plan to navigate C to Taaya's abode - slums behind Yerawada. After a parking his vehicle hoping that none of the spares would be available in the chor-bazaar the following day, C followed Soma through the Byzantine labyrinth of the slum interiors. At Taaya's door, however, he was greeted by a lock and a questioning hen. The crowing of the hen did not reveal much about Taaya's whereabouts.

Soma suggested that they go to 'Naagappa', who being a relation of Taaya, would definitely know about his whereabouts. A couple of blocks worth of slum-trotting took C and Soma to Naagappa, who expressed that a certain 'James' (residence: Tadiwala road chawls), and only that certain James would be able to provide reliable information about the coordinates of Taaya. He said that he himself was merely a relation and not a close friend like James who happened to be the drinking partner of Taaya. He also cribbed that Taaya did not even reveal his recent purchase of an M-80 (a lesser self-propelled two-wheeler) to him and he would greet Taaya with a reproachful stance the next time they happened to meet.

As one following this narrative patiently would correctly guess, C and Soma DID go to James's place and James was NOT found at his place. The hopes of finding Taaya were dwindling fast and C could imagine himself being confronted by the possibility of making a choice between 'praaN' and 'vachan'. Soma was already tired and wished to be dropped back to his place. C took off with a heavy heart in the general direction of Soma's destination.

Little did he know about the event that was about to happen and re-re-kindle his hopes.

As C was nearing the end of Soma's journey, a disheveled man sprang out of a dark lane, like a tiger conducting a mock springing drill in the absence of a suitable prey. His eyes were red, hair disoriented, face livid with anger. Despite the general frightful picture, Soma uttered a happy exclamation (which could have also qualified as an expression of fright). C soon realized the motivation behind Soma's utterance - the new appearance on the scene was none other than Taaya!

Even in the apparent disturbed state, Taaya greeted C and did what C had hoped would not happen. He expressed his inability to attend to C's requirements, owing to 'certain urgent household duties' that he had to attend. C urged Taaya to come with him right away and then attend to his household duties later in the evening. But Taaya was firm.

His manner reiterated the firmness while he narrated the reason for his inability to attend to C's needs. He said that his 10-year old son was beaten up by one of his fellow classmates (an event that probably is an integral part of the daily educational experience of an average Indian). So he went to the perpetrator's father and beat him up in order to settle things quickly. C expressed that it indeed was the right thing to do and congratulated Taaya on the successful bash-up. After doing so, he returned to the all-important question of whether Taaya would not be able to resume his normal duties. Taaya was however of the opinion that the perpetrator's father was not a man who deserved such a mild dosage of one-time beating. He would need extra attention and would have to be beaten up for some more time, that too in a public display.

Down but not out, C asked Taaya what would be a good time for him to come to work once he had taken care of all the necessary violence. (Addition: He even offered to drive Taaya to the residence of the perpetrator's father, while he would wait till Taaya discharged his duties.) Taaya maintained that he would be able to come only on the next day, since all the involved activities would consume the rest of the day. (Addition: Subconsciously recognizing the pains taken by C to locate him, Taaya ordered a 300 ml Pepsi for C and shared a 200 ml one with Soma.)

Finally, Taaya continued waiting for his victim, and C went home with a heavier heart after learning that the other two probables who could substitute Taaya were also not available. 'Jagling' (as in 'Jagalingappa', and not 'Juggling') was away on a visit to his town to 'settle certain land disputes' and would not be back before the month-end. 'Krishna' would not be available, since he, as some kind of a rule, would NOT work on days when India played International cricket (much to the disgust of C and like-minded people out to find masons who would not work on such days, India did play West Indies that day). C dropped Soma somewhere on the way and returned home with one of the heaviest hearts around. Promises had been broken and that was more than losing one's life, anyway. Therefore, C postponed any indulgence in thinking about life-threatening activities for the time being.

No promises were broken on the following day. Taaya turned up with a satisfied, peaceful smile that could only be attained by a Buddha after achieving Nirvana or by paid actresses in TV commercials on having found the right detergent soap. Violence had, indeed, ended in supreme peace for Taaya.

Another placid smile reigned on the face of C who would not have to worry about making and breaking of promises, at least for that day.