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.