July 01, 2008

Mumbai Nagariya tu Dekh Babua

Chor Machaye Shor – Believing in this story or not is completely up to you. But this really happened. At Andheri Station as I was pushing through the crowd to get off the train, I tried to multitask by reading a book which I had to return. Now in the history of my school I have been the guy who has been victimised most by the pickpockets on the local buses of Calcutta. So I seemed to have developed a sort of sixth sense for any kind of unaccounted for activity near my arse. On the train that day, I felt something similar and handicapped by a book in one hand I had no other option but to turn around and put my wallet out of his reach. In doing so however, against the movement of the crowd, I almost made a 180 degree turn and in his utter desperation he made his last ditch attempt. To make a long story short, as I got down on the platform, I was poorer by a pack of gum and I could see a long time companion in the form of my belt, travelling away from me. Yes, my life’s a soap opera and I lost my belt on a train.

Car Maketh a Man – In Mumbai, what you wear and how you look often define who you are. These days with the easy access to quality fakes, people often are able to mirror a lifestyle they can not afford. So it’s often up to other things that make you who you are. Like for example, people you hang out with. But then, entry into the upper echelons of society requires either blue blood or a lot green paper bearing the picture of Mahatma Gandhi in your pocket. But there’s another way out. The place where I live has security guards swarming all over the compound. Now under normal circumstances, they do not even give us a second glance. After all, we are plain and simple “Mumbai Local Trains”. Today however, life changed for us. JK lives in the flat beside me. Today morning, after a long tiresome journey, he was dropped off in front of the building in a Mercedes. As he walked out of the car, wearing three quarters, the security guards were all around the car, trying to convince him that he definitely was living in the other building. In the afternoon as we walked out for lunch, every single security guard in the building gave us the crispest salute I have ever seen. Irritating I must say; but nevertheless proves my point that the Car Maketh a Man.

Search for Tagore – For someone like me, who has grown up reading Tagore, any one claiming to not understand him, puts me in a state of rage where my blood begins to boil just like Sunny Paji’s did when he used to meet Amrish Puri. In Calcutta, defending Tagore was extremely easy. If the accuser could read Bong, I just needed to stretch over, grope around and one or the other of his works would come popping out from somewhere. The number of copies of Tagore’s works sis and I have received over the years and my earlier generations before that, can not be counted. If I needed an English Transalation, I just needed to make a visit to College Street. But Mumbai is not exactly hot on Tagoremania. So there is this someone whose only exposures to Tagore are the National Anthem and Bong acquaintances who swoon as soon as you can say Tag… My Bong Nationalism grew on me. An attack on Tagore was often worse than any other crime you can commit. So I began my search. I thought it would be easy but things turned out to be rather difficult. My standard Oxford didn’t have any good translations of Tagore. Getting it from Calcutta or Delhi wouldn’t make sense as the person was leaving Mumbai. Crossword outlets too were hunted but to no great avail. I went down to the street vendors hoping that Tagore perhaps was a quarter as popular as Chicken Soups for Tom, Dick and Harry. But clearly he wasn’t. So a search ensured and I discovered the forgotten book stores across Mumbai. I perhaps did not get exactly what I was looking for but then sometimes the journey is the destination.

7 comments:

wnwek said...

I was seriously surprised when the ending of your belt-thievery ended in a very G (G as in the movie rating G) way.

I kind of anticipated the thief accidentally grabbing something else other than a packet of gum when you turned 180 degrees. Or is that a euphemism for that??

But what the hey, atleast you weren't caught with your pants down. :D

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

Gum was a packet of Happydent White :D No euphemisms. I don't know how I lost it. And yeah, it was either my belt or my trousers. And as much as I loved my belt...

Sap said...

The last part of the post. The bengali is also to be blamed for this to a certain extent! (http://theemptyvessel.wordpress.com/2007/07/07/the-weirdness-called-bengali-and-a-certain-poet/)

Maybe the fact that the bengali is so possesive abt tagore pushes others even further...

Soumya Sen said...

In Pilani also it would have been easy for you to enlighten someone about Tagore's works, although you won't have got his works, you would have got me. First I used to repeat a tune of some song till they knew it by heart, then tell them the meaning of it, or else just put some tight slaps if they dared to say any nonsense. For most I never had to go for violence, except for Addy who had called Tagore a traitor, and had to bear the full force on his cheeks. I do regret for having lost my temper, at that time I wasn't yet taking my BP pills. But since then I have stopped doing so as I realized that it is perhaps better if Tagore's works are not read by some complete ignoramus. Btw, all bookstores of Philly have Tagore's books. The biggest bookstore coffeeshop has a Tagore's pic painted on the wall along with Kafka, Neruda, Twain etc., it was heartening to find that in such a posh shop in our Downtown Philly. And Penn offers 2 courses on 'Bengali' literature. Actor Martin Sheen recited 'where the mind is without fear' recently. The West still read Tagore while Indians are hardly aware of his works.
Btw, you seem to be watching some trashy films these days. I haven't written any reviews for Indian movies in quite some time, actually I have only watched European ones of late, the last one I saw was RDB and although it was decent, it wasn't a work of art. But for that damning review I had many agitated Amir fans shouting at me, as if I even care :-).

Btw, did u read my obituary to Andrei Valet?

Anonymous said...

hey is there a mail id where you can be reached?

Madhurjya (Banjo) said...

@Soumya - I sometimes blame Vishwa bharati for helping us to localize Tagore and make India forget him. But I guess, that's how it is. Gandhi is perhaps forgotten in Today's Bihar.

@Dear Anon - just drop your mail id here. I'll mail back to that id

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