Sunday, July 24, 2011

Murphy – Part I

“Hi. I am Murphy.”

I turned around at the voice. You must be kidding, I thought, even as I took in his appearance. He could have passed off as a successful executive at his casual best in blue jeans and white shirt. Or he could have been a bohemian writer or an artist. Difficult to peg him.

In return, he just waited with polite patience.

“Sorry?” I managed.

“I said, I am Murphy”, he repeated, courteous and bland. “I believe you wanted to meet me.”

“Huh?” I surely wasn’t doing a good job of seeming articulate.

“I said, I believe...” he started to repeat but I came out of my stupor and cut him off.

“I know what you said. I don’t quite know what to make of it. And I am not sure I want to know any further. So, if you will excuse me, I am waiting for a friend.” I began to walk off towards the entrance of the restaurant in the swanky city mall.

“This is not a trick, you know.” Damn. He was still by my side.

“I don’t know what you are talking about”, I insisted. But what if it was. Nah. Such things don’t really happen to mundane people like me. I lengthened my stride. Well, as much as, I could, which wasn’t much.

And it was an exercise in vain. Because he still refused to go away.

“Look”, I turned and tried to give him one of my frosty glares (I am quite good at it, you know). “You could be Murphy, Brian or Murtaza. I don’t know why you are following me. Why you think that I ever wanted to meet you. Hell, I don’t know any man named Murphy.”

“Are you sure?”

When I just stared at him mulishly, he smiled and leaned back against the rails of the aisle in which we stood. “You are early”, he said pleasantly. “But your friend is likely to be late. Very late because of the traffic. And look you have not even brought a book to pass the time.”

“You can’t possibly know that.” I was adamant. It was true that I was early but I had not called my friend yet. I had been about to when he – I refused to consider him as Murphy – had appeared.

“I do.” His assurance was maddening. “Call and check.” With those words he simply sauntered off.

And guess what, he was right. Only, that entire episode seemed like some alternate reality. But I knew, even as a chill passed through me, that it was not.

He was Murphy.

The question was, would he meet me again?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

One for Friends

Having passed a personal milestone very recently, I was wondering where life leads from here. And when I begin to think along these lines, I can be extremely brooding. But thank god for friends who pull you out from detrimental self-introspection.

I am lucky that way. I am not among those who make friends everywhere. And when I say friends, I mean ‘friends’, not just mere friendly acquaintances. I have plenty of those but friends I have only a handful and those I really cherish.

I am proud to say that I can count some of my family members among my closest friends. My cousins with whom I grew up and a few others I discovered late in life – they all bring such joy to me. I know I am always welcome in their homes and in their hearts. If I go to their city, they would meet me half-way and make my stay warm and cheerful.

Then there are those that I met along the paths of life. Some I have known for more than a decade (cheers to you, girls – you know who you are) and a few that my career has gifted me. I am so blessed that I have them in my life.

So, yeah. This post is about counting my blessings. And my friends, you are right up there. You make an ordinary day, extraordinary. You make cribbing seem like the best pastime. You add that extra zing to watching movies. Shopping with you is sheer bliss. Cards games with you turn unbearably hot afternoons into slices of paradise. Arguing, squabbling and quarrelling with you only makes me realize how much I miss you all when we are asunder. Coffee is just not the same without you.

We are so different. You, with your vivacious personality. You, with your deep soul of a poet. You, so brave and stoic in bearing your responsibilities. You, whose world revolves around her family. You, quiet and sober, until you are with us. You, such an adoring father. You, an incorrigible flirt. You, shy and timid. You with your love of uninhibited dancing. All of you. So different.

But it comes down to that one big commonality. Us. We are friends. And thank god, for Us.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sunlit Perfection and Wodehouse

Jeeves in the Offing             Image via Wikipedia
I have been thinking about doing a post on one of my favourite feel-good authors for a long time. He is British, witty and a master of his genre. A final clue: Jeeves.

I discovered Wodehouse in college. I had heard of him earlier, of course. But it was finally in college that I finally had the chance to explore the world of beautiful comic timing, with and satire that he so effortlessly created.

I became a member of British Council’s library to have easy access to loads of reference books that they had on English Literature. But those who know me would tell you that I would never leave a library without taking something for my own pleasure. Since BCL in those days, stocked British authors almost exclusively (the result of literary myopia in my opinion), the choice of books to read for fun was limited to classics (I adore them by the way) and Wodehouse.

My first encounter with Bertie Wooster and his cronies, the Drones, his ensemble of aunts – from scary to the one with potential for affection – and Jeeves opened to me a whole new world of witty dialogue and situational comedy that is almost unparalleled. Wodehouse is laughing at the catastrophes that invade the lives of rich British aristocracy, abounding in absent minded peers, good-for-nothing bachelors, shrewd spinsters and occasional damsels in distress. And you know what the biggest laugh is – the rescue of the gentry by the supremely intelligent butler, Jeeves. There can be no greater commentary on the redundancy of the gentry than the ease with which Jeeves extricates Wooster and the entourage of his world from all sorts of hilarious (to us, not to them) situations.

There is humour in every line and in every expression. The names of the characters are full of comic delight. Who else can come with names like Wooster (sounds like a wuss), Pongo Twistleton and Fink-Nottle for characters. And what about Blandings as the estate name for his series about a pig-loving peer, Lord Emsworth. Yes, the peers have weird loves – pigs for Emsworth and newts for Fink-Nottle. The troubles in their world are no greater than the schemes to win the annual fat pig competition, the attempts to steal a prized French cook, getting bachelors engaged and married to rich heiresses and avoiding dictatorial aunts. I can clearly visualise the scene in one of the Jeeves’ novels where Anatole after work unwinding is rudely interrupted by the ungainly sight of Wooster teetering outside his window. And who can forget the mastery and cunning with which Jeeves persuades Wooster to get rid of his pride, an unattractive moustache.

Sample this gem of telegraphic exchange between Wooster and his Aunt Dahlia Travers, who stays near Market Snodsbury (really, how does he come up with these names) in Right Ho, Jeeves. Bertie has just returned has just returned home after spending nearly two months with the said aunt and therefore is perplexed when he get the following wire:

Aunt Dahlia: Come at once. Travers.

Wooster: Perplexed. Explain. Bertie.

Aunt Dahlia: What on earth is there to be perplexed about, ass? Come at once. Travers.

Wooster: How do you mean come at once? Regards. Bertie.

Aunt Dahlia: I mean come at once, you maddening half‑wit. What did you think I meant? Come at once or expect an aunt's curse first post tomorrow. Love. Travers.

Wooster: When you say “Come” do you mean “Come to Brinkley Court”? And when you say “At once” do you mean “At once”? Fogged. At a loss. All the best. Bertie.

Aunt Dahlia: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. It doesn't matter whether you understand or not. You just come at once, as I tell you, and for heaven's sake stop this back‑chat. Do you think I am made of money that I can afford to send you telegrams every ten minutes. Stop being a fathead and come immediately. Love. Travers.

Honestly, when I read these books I can barely restrain myself from laughing-out aloud. The books are such a refreshing change from the slap-stick humour which abounds in today’s world – be it movies (remember the David Dhawan – Govinda presentations) or in writing. Sarcasm has replaced genuine humour. Most people seem to find only poking fun at others funny. Not that Wodehouse does not do that but it is done with such good-nature and warmth that you cannot help but bask in the ‘sunlit perfection’ as Stephen Fry calls Wodehouse’s world.

If you have never read a Wodehouse, you don’t know what you are missing. As for me, I have upon me the delightful urge to read them all over again. And this time, I would buy them for my collection.


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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Awesome Saturdays

Today’s a Saturday. Normally I sleep late on Saturdays but today I got up fairly early by my standards. And guess what? I am still feeling quite perky. That is next to impossible on any other days. So, this must be the Saturday effect.

I love Saturdays. Honestly, how can you not? The weekend is fresh, new and shiny. Like leaves after rains. Full of so many possibilities. Movies, lunch with friends. Shopping for something totally unnecessary. Glorious lazing and couch potato-hood. Gorging and binging on decidedly unhealthy stuff.  And sometimes the occasionally useful stuff like cleaning the room. You can do as you choose with it.

And you know what the best part is? You still have another day of no work to look forward to.
So, does that make Sunday as great as Saturday? I say not. See, Sunday is a precursor to Monday blues. You know that weekend is practically over and the long work-week looms large. Sunday evenings are in fact the worst. One short night and it’s all over. Another weekend disappears in the maws of the new week.

That is why on Sundays, I prefer not doing anything. Just stay at home and brood over the unfairness of Mondays in general. See? The mere mention of Sundays and its bosom buddy has turned my chirpy post into an almost melancholy litany.

Let’s get back to Saturday awesomeness. So, what are you planning on doing today? Me – I am still pondering the possibilities. I am vaguely nourishing the thought of catching Delhi Belly in a theatre very close to my home, late in the evening. I am also mentally making a list of pros and cons of using the afternoon / early evening to set my dresser right. Pros are obvious. But the con is bigger. It will eat into my don’t-feel-like-doing-anything mood. Decisions. Decisions. I am currently reading Golding’s Lord of the Flies. I might also add Austen re-reading to my current book mix. But which one? I am leaning towards Darcy big-time. It is hard not to. So, Pride & Prejudice, it is likely to be.

I think I might cook also today. Miracles do happen, you know. But what is the question. Nothing too strenuous for sure.

Sigh. There are just so many choices. I am spoilt for them on a Saturday. While I mull over my options for the day, what are your Saturday plans? I hope that they are fun.