Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Chatur vachakani- Clever readers of this blog, among whom we can safely count Gopal, Senior and Junior, are anticipating a tract on our conscience-keeper, who, alas, cannot be named , such is his moral stranglehold over us. He won’t like being named in a bloggg, really, and understandably so, mealy-mouthed as we are about our own bloody identity. We had obliquely promised a discourse in MYNEMO, and time has come for us to redeem the pledge, substantially, if not in full measure, ha,ha,ha. The whereabouts today of K are as much a mystery as those of Monojda, the lamented protagonist of Mynemo. All we know is that K should be a senior official in the Ministry of External Affairs, unless he has rubbed people the wrong way, which is what they deserve.

That ‘K’ we used for him is seemingly getting lost among other regular Ks so let’s distinguish him using the symbol ₭ instead.

Our Bengali proclivities were known to gali ka bachcha bachcha of good old Delhi of the early 70s. Liberty Cinema adda has already been mentioned by us with respect. And yes, as per our earlier expostulation, this is not a blog on bengaliyat.

Ghosh, ₭ and yours faithfully formed a sort of triad in the Liberty adda orchestra. Ghosh, later of Desh, later bidesh, maybe, was the Bengali anchor, yours faithfully, the Marathi-end, and ₭, the intermediary of sorts. The competent, proficient, deft, Bengali-English interpreter. We refer especially to Balark, the Little Magazine with the Big Dreams. That was the heyday of the Little Magazine in Calcutta, and Socialism all over. When Ghosh visited Dad’s 300 sq.yd. kothi in Naraina, New Delhi 110028 the first time, he had exclaimed - aapni keeee-burjuAAA??? Our triad would do some very wicked things in the streets of Karol Bagh, such as crash and shatter emptied-to-last-drop (JRD shared that weakness for the last drop with us, so they say) beer bottles into the playground of the Municipal Girls’ School, Padam Singh Marg, next to the better known and better appointed Sat Bhrawan Girls’ School. Evenings, we would loll in Kabrastan Park, renamed Shastri Park later, much to the annoyance of denizens. We felt we had been dispossessed of our heritage in the shape of the defunct Kabrastan, he,he,he, if you think that is funny. We would just lie on the perpetually yellow, prickly lawns , laying in wait for the pretty and graceful lady-next-door who looked thirty-ish, and was bestowed with the honourific ‘neelambari’ by our Bengali friends, on account of the sky blue silken saree she often sported. Looked great on her. She was a mystery of sorts--she would come unaccompanied, and then, after precisely 10 rounds of the lawns, vanish. Hmmm....neelambari...should be around 70 now, if around, and not in the kabrastan he, he, he! No o o o- insensitive joke, the type Dad detttesssted. Coming shortly, ‘Baba on Humour’ !

Well, Marathi dalit poetry, the Lord and Saviour of which was the rebellious, wicked, Namdeo Dhasal, Dalit Panthers founder, was making waves in the early 70s. We would translate the poetry into English, and from thence to Bengali would be the job of ₭. Later the task was taken over from me by Dilip Chitre, ha,ha,ha! Visit fhttp://sotosay.wordpress.cm/2009/10/12/331/#comment-7863 for in-your-face Dhasal poetry.

₭ had thoughtfully gifted us a set of those two tools indispensable for the Bangla learner- the English-Bangla and Bangla-English dictionaries fondly, if pedantically, brought out by the Bangiya Samsad, Calcutta. ₭ was quite evangelical when it came to teaching us Good Bangla. The set of two is still ageing gracefully on our shelves, by the way. Balark, literally, the ‘Child Sun’...... We would then struggle to bring into existence the latest edition. Publishing a blog is hopscotch.

₭ was great company, and isss very, very knowledgeable about arts, especially cinema. He was INTO it- the technical part. He originally told us about the inseparability of Ritwik Ghatak and Trees, a lesson learnt by Mira Nair much later, after a life-time’s struggle, he,he,he! He was a teacher by nature, in fact, and would like to share with us whatever he learnt and whenever he learnt it. ₭ would patiently queue up before the box-office, before each avante garde film festival, and pick up two tickets, VIPs permitting. ‘Bye-bye Brazil’ was one such film we saw. The Delhi public, which has a nose for that kind of movies, discovered it in time and we were offered Rs. 100.00 per ticket (now the equivalent of around Rs. 100,000.00) by one discerning viewer. That was the first time we saw those things, which was ,of course, incidental only haaan! Another movie he took pains to show us was Neem Annapurna (‘Bitter Morsel’), the Buddhadeb Dasgupta masterpiece, a shocking movie on the brutality of poverty. And Deepu di of Macmillan & Co. treated the whole adda to Roman Holiday at Rachna talkies, for she believed that inside each of us resided a refined human being, waiting to be helped out, he,he,he!

₭ and YF studied together at Delhi U’s KM College, which has been immortalised, alas, by the ridicule heaped on it by our distinguished, callous, co-alumnus, Amitabh Bachhan. We were, by the way, proud of KM, known for its jat wrestlers, and band of distinguished actors it produced. Yours faithfully passed out with a pass course third division putting in a decade or so, and ₭ did one better, graduating with a ‘pass course degree without division’. Our head-clerk Moti Ram (a Juliet Alpha Tango) called it ‘le bhai tu bhi ibb le hi le’- degree. Tall and slim, size zero, ₭ would walk into the class after everybody else, with a swaggering gait, forearms swinging in front, arc-ing around the elbows alternately, making precise right angles, with the upper arms stuck to his sides, if that makes sense to you. Slim note book in right hand, middle and fore-finger of left hand periodically clipping back mop of long, smooth hair in place, a huge toothy smile permanently worn, donning Hawaiian slippers,come what may.

To come to what is so special and precious about ₭. It was his fearlessness, his measured arrogance and his way of looking at things in a special way. One is reminded of one of those interminable waits at the Arya Samaj Road, Karol Bagh DTC bus-stand. It was a bitter, smoggy winter evening. While ₭ had gone to fetch a couple of Charminars, yours faithfully was ‘accosted’ by a hippie-like white tourist, sounding British, eloquently cadging a five rupee note with some aplomb “Can I have a five rupee note strictly for eating purposes, Sir?”, he was saying. As the man retreated unsuccessfully, with an earful of our views on British Colonialism, in came ₭, asking what had happened. And was ₭ aghast at our boorishness and/or denseness!! We have lost a singular opportunity, man, to widen our horizons, he said. We should have taken him to the coffee house and learnt something about the world, who he was, from what background, what brought him to India...Did we feel stuppiddd, aiii sayyyyyy!

An example of his clear thinking. They were the times after the fall of the Communist regimes in Russia and East Europe. We had entered into an argument with ₭, leftist that he was, over the subject of the Centralised Economy, and had recklessly pronounced Communism as ‘dead’. My friend said he, Communism cannot die so long as the idea that all men are born equal resides in the human breast! Communism is immortal! Sai hai, touché, i sayyyy!

In the last blog ‘Amake Shoonte Dao’ we had occasion to recall what ₭ used to say about the antics of celebrated tabalchis. Claptrap, he would call it. The solitary, Everest-like High-C peak in Begum Parveen Sultana’s khayal s never impressed him. Made him wince. Is it music!, he would exclaim.

God bless him, wherever he be, and may God give him the sadbuddhi to be on Batchmates.com.

We end this blog blending it with the previous one.

The previous blog was discussed with missus. She pointed out that the effrontery perpetrated by our celebrity tabalchis happens only with instrumental. Is it that vocalists resist to enlist these impertinent guys? The public listens to vocal carefully because there are words involved. Instrumental is like lounge music. At parties, the host plays instrumental CDs, not vocal. Can you imagine Pandit Jasraj accompanied by Hairy Harry on the tabla ? (kiya to tha but difficult to imagine) Spanking is still legal Aiii Sayyyy!!! Observes a knowledgeable vocalist friend, HH is not known to take liberties with Ustad Amjad Khan.

Kindly click on the following links to savour the nasha of theka (well, that word deserves to be refined, notwithstanding the fact that ‘theka’ has another synonym that is readily recognised by lovers of shambhavi, or ‘local brew’) :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcjGOz75ioA (Kishori Amonkar)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBIS7mprtjw (Pt. Jasraj)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIJ9vUYEH10 (Ajit Kadkade). Listen to the theka just faai...iiide awaaayyy.....

Recall our blog called ‘Be a Good Listener’? The tabalchi is also expected to be a connoisseur and a respecter of good music. A good listener. Can he savour the nuances of the voice of Pt. Jasraj or Ustad Amir Khan, if all he is interested is drawing applause or displaying his (undeniable) talent, disturbing the lead performer? We hate to say that, it is simply meretricious behaviour Boss.

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