Tuesday, February 23, 2010

HAVE A GOOD DAY

As I walked into the lift, this morning, I said, 'Hi, good Morning' to the man who was already there inside. Then, instantly, I prayed to God - with all my honesty - to help me not to be a hypocrite. For months, both of us had not been talking due to some unresolved Society issues. (I am the present Chairman.) The man responded, instantly. "How are you?" I asked. "Good, thank you," he replied. Then, probably, the ego took over... and, there was an uneasy silence, till the lift stopped on the ground floor. "Bye, see you," I managed to say. I did not hear his response.

Probably, he did not wish to 'see me'. I felt a bit offended, and angry. "To hell with you man... You do not deserve my greetings," my mind was yelling at him in the roaring silence.

At the gate, I did not find an auto, and I was waiting. I was already late and getting restless and irritated. Suddenly, a car stopped behind me and the window glass came down. "Please come in, sir." It was the same man, whom I had cursed, just a while ago. Tamed, I quietly made my way in, again, praying to God... this time, begging Him not to reveal my thoughts to my enemy. Also, this time, we did speak on the weather, the traffic, the schools of our children - everything, except the our simmering issues. "Thanks a lot... Have a very good day," I wished him, as alighted. "You, too," I heard, this time, the greetings very clearly.

Was I truly grateful to this man for the lift? Did I truly wish 'a good day' for him? I was thinking about it, all my way to the office.

As I reached my office, I received a call from Payal, a very studious student of mine. She sounded sad, and understandably so. Her 24-year-old cousin brother, a well-placed MBA, had died last evening in a road accident. He was returning home from his office. Payal wanted to inform me about her inability to attend the class.

Last evening, just before I had wound up my day in the office, I remembered asking a neighbour about a lady. This lady, who was in her forties, was a very vibrant lady. She was always surrounded by several of her friends and loved to spend long hours talking, joking and laughing. She had a regal ring around her that made her so lovable. However, of late, I had sensed that some thing was wrong in her life. Her head had been fully-shaven, and a lovely scarf covered her baldness. I had been noticing her sons taking her out at regular intervals... and, it did not take any acumen on my part to guess, that it was for her chemotherapy rounds. I wanted to confirm this from my neighbour. "Yes, it is in an advanced stage," he told me.

"Unfortunate," I sympathised. "She has been graceful through all her trauma; it is commendable," the neighbour told me. Then, he asked me,"Did you hear about Saroj?" Saroj was the enthusiastic and helpful telephone line-man of our area. We all liked him, because, of his helpful nature. He was in his early fifties and hailed from Bihar. When my neighbour asked me "Did you hear about Saroj?", I was quick to react, "Why, what happened to him?"

"He had gone to his village for his daughter's marriage. The next day of the marriage, he vomited blood and died." I was numb for a while!

Payal's young cousin-brother was destined to die before he could reach home last night. Saroj was destined to die in his village, just after his daughter's wedding... He was not to come back to Mumbai, where he had spent so many of his glorious years. The graceful lady in scarf knows what is coming... and, she has accepted it, with courage and dignity.

And, here is me... unable to even reconcile with my fellow-being, my neighbour.

I do not know about him, about you. But, I, often, think: 'Life is too short' - this applies to everyone else on this earth... except to me.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Monday, February 22, 2010

WHAT ABOUT THAT IDIOT?

We are sane people, not idiots. Will any one of us get the moving plane return back to the airport, get down from it... and, then, run away to meet a long-lost friend? Or, will any one of us, drop everything aside, and jump into your car - minus your pants - for the same cause? What about this: will you agree to spend years in your engineering college, come out with distinction - only to be a dummy of some rich-guy's worthless son?

We know such things happen only in our Bollywood films. Not in real life. Still, think of it - we all loved the '3 Idiots'! Hey, it seems, it is Bollywood's highest grosser of all-time!

Idiots are not straight people... They do odd things, at odd times... and, above all, in their odd ways. On the screen, in the darkness, we loved the idiots... we kept our hands on our 'dil' - and, 'siti bhajake' - sang with them - AL IZ WELL. We laughed, we cried... we loved these characters when they peed on their dean's name plate. Yes, we passed on the message to our nearest and dearest ones: 'Pl don't miss this movie... It is simply too good.'

Yaar, it was. But, I want to know: Why don't we do the things those three idiots did?

I have a seventeen-something son. His final exams are just a few 'sities' away. He hasn't touched his books. "What books?" he asks me, "Mad or what?" He is on his guitar and creates his own tunes... Spends hours talking to some of his friends about things, I may never be able to know, leave alone understand. He eats at the odd hours, sleeps at the odd hours, keeps his room in that glorious mess... and us - his parents - constantly on tenterhooks. "Son, there is a time to work, and there is a time to chill out," I keep reminding him. "What you do is neither important, nor urgent... Remember, some things can wait."

My fear is that, he has to do his basic study. Or, he may even fail. I just do not want that to happen... So, I keep yelling at him, keep reminding him about his responsibilities. "Don't be stupid... Don't be an idiot."

Yes, I do not want an idiot in my house. Yet, I loved those idiots on the screen. I sang with them, laughed with them... cried with them. But, I do not want my son to be an idiot. I don't want him to take back the plane to the airport; I do not want him to run out in his undies; I do not want him to sit dummy for some good-for-nothing fellow and waste his own life... Least of all, I do not want him to stand before his Principal's doorsteps and urinate, do 'mootravisarjan'.

After all, he is not an 'idiot's' son, you see!

It seems, A.R. Rehman works during the night and sleeps during the day. Ditto for Paulo Coelho, the man who wrote (along with several other best-sellers) that famous, little book about following our hearts - 'ALCHEMIST'. These are just two of the 'idiots'... if that is not going to bring me a defamation notice. Just two. They eat at the odd hours, sleep at the odd ours... and do things in their own odd ways.

The other day, when I gave this example to some one - a wise man, mind you... the straight one - his reaction was quicker than acid: "What is great about that? Even the watchmen work during the night and sleep during the day." The Call-center folk were different, you see. So, he left them alone. Then, such wise men are very, very rare. The most common wise men react this way: "But, my friend, Rehman and Coelho are 'successful' people... They are achievers in life... You must know it."

And, my son - that idiot?

Yes, what about that idiot?

Arey bhayya, siti bajake bol: There are two kinds of idiots... One is like my son, and the other is like his father. And, don't forget to say: Arey maamu, AL IZ, DEFINITELY, GOING TO BE WELL.

GERALD D'CUNHA

A COMM0N LIE

Sylvia was beaming, this morning. I bumped into her on her way to office. What a change!

Just a year ago, she had come to me looking depressed and broken. She had resigned from her work unable to cope with pressure. Sylvia's pressure came from her own low self-esteem. She suffered from a nagging inferiority complex... constantly compared herself with others, put herself down. She felt threatened at the slightest criticism, magnified the tiniest of the problems, personalised every comment and even others' problems. The work place had become a traumatic battle-ground for Sylvia... She simply wanted to run away from it. And, she had done it, when she had come to meet me.

We had discussed the issue over a couple of sessions. From my own experience, I had told Sylvia that this is an imaginary war... and the enemy is our own creation. That, till we don't see this fact, we would keep fighting a loosing battle, and keep getting battered in life. I had told her to even laugh at it, laugh at herself. "No body laughs at you... still, you hear the laughter," I had told Sylvia, "No body whips you... still, you feel tortured."

From my own experience, I had shared with Silvia that the key to this personal victory lay in our desire to get hold of ourselves - our responsibility towards our own selves. "It is self-care, and with out it, we wouldn't be able to get hold of ourselves," I had advised her. "The moment we are kind to ourselves, we feel the kindness of others. The moment we recognise a 'small problem' as a 'small problem' - stop magnifying it - we find enough strength to deal with the bigger ones." I had remined her, "Emptiness is experienced, because we are unable to acknowledge our inherent talents and strengths... because, we are unable to appreciate our skills, even though we own them in good measure."

I also knew, from my own experience, that the feelings of unworthiness might come and go in the future, too. That, there would be those moments of depression and sadness... but, they would be only the fleeting moments. "Life is good; it is beautiful," I had pepped Sylvia up. "Don't give up on yourself."

What else, could a person like me - who had to (and who still does) fight his own personal demons - advise to a person like Sylvia? Our battle grounds were too familiar and too common. So, it was a common man sharing his common experience. A year later, this morning, when Sylvia beamed with confidence, I knew, that she had not given up on herself... that she had received her 'new eyes' to separate the lie from the reality.

GERALD D'CUNHA

Saturday, February 20, 2010

THE PRAYER

For a long time, there were no calls from Ramesh. It meant: He was tension-free.

But, was he?

Ramesh was my student about fifteen years ago. That was when he was in his final-year B.Com. He came from a very ordinary Maharashtrian joint-family. During these fifteen years, he would call me regularly, take appointment from me, and discuss his problems - his 'tension', as he would call them. All his 'tension' sprang from either his job, or his joint family, or - after his marriage - the relationship with his wife. Every time Ramesh called, it would be to discuss his 'tension'. Nothing else.

So, when there was no news from Ramesh, for quite a long time, I felt happy for him. Then, just the day-before evening, he called me up. "Sir, tomorrow will be my son's first birthday," Ramesh announced, sounding good. "I want to bring him to you... What time is convenient for you?"

We fixed for 9.00 the next morning. That was yesterday. Sharp at 9, Ramesh and his wife appeared along with their birth-day child. They had left their home at 6 in the morning to pay a visit to the Siddivinayak temple. They came to me directly from there. I was their second important 'vigneshwar'. I felt quite elated about it!

Their child was very vibrant, very lively. I played with him as I kept the discussion on. Surprisingly, both of them spoke about everything else, except, the 'tension'. Finally, unable to contain my curiosity, I asked Ramesh, "Tell me, you had not called me for a long time... No more tension?"

They both looked at each other and laughed. "We prayed in the temple, today," Ramesh's wife told me. "What did you pray?" I took a teacher's liberty to probe. They, once again, looked into each other's eyes and managed to smile. "Lord, we do not pray to do away with the problems in our life... only give us the wisdom and strength to handle them," Ramesh's young wife replied. "We have stopped feeling desperate and helpless."

I felt even happier for them. They had been able to get hold of the 'handle'. That's all what is required in life. The secret is always an open one, and an age-old one: "Lord, we do not pray to do away problems from our life... only to give us the wisdom and strength to handle them."

To ask for a life without problems, means asking for more problems... more frustration, more sorrow and bitterness. Problems are situations... and, every situation has to change, shift. Like the clouds across the vast sky, the situations keep moving. Yes, every dark cloud has a silver lining around it... but, we fail to see it. We fail to see the hidden Sun, the hope.

Life, thy name is problems, tension!

As Ramesh and his wife began to leave, I gently ran my hand on the velvety head of the little one. Amitabh and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, too, walk miles to pray to the same lord, at the same temple. The stinkingly rich Anil Ambani, as well. Doesn't Sachin do? Doesn't Barrack Obama... maybe, before the same Lord, but by another name? "You, too, shall," I blessed the one-year-old. "Dhanya ho!"

GERALD D'CUNHA

Friday, February 19, 2010

ALL THESE SILLY THINGS

Shah Rukh did not say 'sorry'... The evening passed. In fact, today is another Friday... the time for another movie to come out, another show.

My head has stopped spinning. I have stopped watching TV. I do not know which happened first!

If my country is hurt, it needs a healing touch... and not another blow, another blast. Hatred only breeds more hatred... It is the breeding ground for terrorism. To drowse the inferno, we need the cooling effect of water. Only, compassion can heal.

This morning, I met the autowala, again. "So, Shah Rukh did not say 'sorry'," I reminded him. "But, al iz well, no sir?" he looked back with a carefree smile. "No body has time to remember, all these silly things."

It doesn't take a lot to forgive a man who says 'sorry' to me. But, it takes a hell amount of inner strength to forgive him when he is reluctant, unrepentant. And, what about the man who wants you to say 'sorry' when you think you have done nothing wrong?

My teenager-son is expected to receive his 'Confirmation' in the church, soon. For a whole year, their batch has been going through the preparatory classes on Sundays. They, and we the parents, have to face personal interviews, too. Tomorrow will be my interview. Some one has complained to the parish priest that I do not attend the mass on Sundays regularly. The parish priest, I guess, may ask me the reason.

Am I a 'confirmed' Christian? Will I pass the 'test'?...

I am. I will.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Thursday, February 11, 2010

IS 'AL' GOING TO BE WELL?

My name is Khan... Shah Rukh Khan.

Today is Thursday, and tomorrow will be Friday. Shiv Sena is hell-bent: Unless Shah Rukh tenders an apology to the nation, it would not allow SRK's movie - "My Name Is Khan' - to be released, tomorrow.

What apology? I think, it is for SRK's statement, that he was hurt - for India not allowing any Pakistani player to play in any of the IPL teams.

Sena says, the 'nation' is hurt by SRK's statement... That, he is a 'traitor'. So, the noose is tightened... Tomorrow is the date of release... Already, the Sainiks are let loose; they are on the rampage.

I do not watch TV. But, last night, I happened to have a glimpse of it in some one's house. Just watching it for ten minutes, my head started spinning! Now, I am anxious; I want to know - "What is going to happen?"

In the Auto, this morning, I asked the driver the same question: "Kya hoga?" ... "What is going to happen?"

"By today evening, Shah Rukh will say 'Sorry'," the autowala told me, confidently. "All this is setting."

"Setting?" I asked in surprise. "Who has done the setting?"

"Come on sir," the autowala reacted turning his head towards me, "You know very well - who?"

I was even more surprised. If the autowala thinks that I know, then, I must be knowing. Maybe, I must try a little harder to remember... I thought.

"Will the King Khan say 'Sorry'?" that is the question haunting my mind, presently. I am sitting on the seat's edge, biting my nails, unable to bear the suspense... I am glued to the TV... I am waiting, with bated breath, for the 'evening'.

In the mean time, Amir Khan, even though he doesn't' like Shah Rukh's nose, has kept his hand on his heart and says, "Al iz well."

I am curious: "Is 'al' going to be well?" I am tensed, I can't relax.

Ten minutes of watching TV brought about this condition in me. What if I do it 24 X 7 ?

Yes, what if? I am curious, I am anxious... I think I must start watching more TV. I think it is all setting. I know why I am not watching... Because I want to watch more.

What is this? I am going around and around in circle. First, the Good God created Adam, gifted him a lovely partner - Eve... He put them in that heavenly Eden Garden... gave them all the rights, all the freedom... all the happiness. But, I do not understand why He had to plant that 'apple tree' right in the middle of the garden... and why He had to forbid them from eating its fruits. They ate, He became angry, He threw them out of the garden... and brought about all the miseries of the mankind. Then, again, He sent His only son, Jesus, to this world to 'save' us, the mankind! Why all this trouble? He is God... He could have stopped this from happening, in the first place.

My head is spinning. I am waiting for the evening.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

THE SEVENTH JAR

When I was in college, I used to be fond of attractive wall posters with inspiring wordings on them. I remember one such poster. It had about six tiger cubs with their mother, all peacefully sleeping, cuddled to each other. "If you are comfortable with yourself, you are comfortable with the world." I loved those wordings, and the poster adorned our wall for some years.

When we are young, we rarely think about the 'world within' - the world of spirit. The 'world outside' - the world of matter, the material world, is what fascinates us. Success means the material success - more money, more fame, more power and prestige. Our search for success begins with such pursuit and continues relentlessly, there after. Like chasing a mirage, we chase Success. But, we remain unfulfilled, disillusioned, eternally running ... hoping to come to a stage when we can stop running, remain fulfilled, content and happy. What we do not realise is, that, so long as we depend on the 'outside stuff' to make us fulfilled, we would always remain unfulfilled, feeling empty. We are left starving.

It is only when we derive our sense of security, our happiness, from the spiritual well within us, that we stop chasing illusions, stop craving for more and more of that 'stuff' to fulfil us. I like the the story told by Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa to drill this message into our thick skulls.

There was this personal barber of a mighty, benevolent king. He lived peacefully with his family in a small house very close to the palace. Every day, he would visit the palace, attend to his duties, and return to his house when it turned dark outside. He was happy with whatever he earned from his services to his master, the king. His household ran smoothly. King took care of all his financial concerns.

One late evening, on his way home, he was passing by the old haunted tree. Suddenly, he heard a voice from the direction of the tree, "Hey, I am Yaksha. Do you wish to possess the seven jars of gold?". Stunned, and scared, the barber looked around... only to find none. Quietly, he began to move faster and faster. "You have not answered me," the voice echoed through the darkness, "Tell me, do you desire to own the seven jars of pure gold?" The barber began to sweat in fear. "Yes, yes... I do," he replied without even looking back, accelerating his pace. "Good. Then, go home and open your door... You will find what you desire," Yaksha declared.

In no time, the barber was at his doorstep. The moment he pushed open the door of his hut, he was almost blinded by the golden glow. He rubbed hard his eyes. The seven jars were real. He couldn't believe his sudden luck. He stood there gazing at the gold, touching them, feeling them... so happy, so ecstatic. Then, all of a sudden his eyes fell on something he did not notice so far. He saw, that, while six jars were overflowing with shining gold, the seventh jar was only half full! Seeing this, his heart sank. A sudden sadness enveloped him, a painful feeling of lack, emptiness. Following this, he began to feel restless with the desire to have the seventh jar filled with gold. He ran inside his house, and fetched whatever little quantity of ornaments his poor wife possessed. He dropped them in the seventh jar. But, that was hardly enough to fill it. He spent a sleepless night. The next morning, he took whatever savings they had, bought gold with the money, came home and tried to fill the seventh jar. That, too, was hardly enough. Frustrated, he began to work double shift, and with the extra money, bought more gold and poured it into the seventh jar. But, where would the seventh jar get filled!

Days of agony rolled by. Sorrow, emptiness and bitterness consumed our barber's life. He collected his courage to ask for a pay raise from the king. The king was always happy about his servant's work and loyalty. Hence, immediately doubled the pay. With the extra money came more gold to go into the seventh jar. But, the mysterious jar refused to get filled!

The barber was left shaken and broken. His only desire was to see the seventh jar full to the brim... if not overflowing. He was unable to drop that desire, that obsession. Finally, he started begging on the town streets... and, from those coins too bought whatever gold he could with the incessant hope of filling the seventh jar. But, that, too, was not to be. Not enough!

Then, one afternoon, the king noticed the barber, sitting all alone, shabby and heartbroken. "What is wrong with you, young man?" the Monarch asked the barber. "For so many years, you worked for me in the palace for half the salary you receive now... yet, you were so happy and fulfilled. Now, with even double the salary, I see you losing all the charm in life, frustrated and sorrowful. Tell me, what has gone wrong?" The barber stood up and bowed down before his master, without uttering a single word. Then, the king asked him, as if through a reflex, "By any chance, have you found those seven jars of gold?" The barber was shocked and frightened hearing his master's words. "Many years ago, Yaksha had asked me, too, whether I desired them, and I had replied him - 'Not unless I am able to use the gold, enjoy it'," said the king. He added, "I still remember how Yaksha disappeared, into the thin air, on my reply to him."

The barber broke down and fell on the King's feet. "Have mercy on me O king... Please save me from this misery," he prayed. The merciful king helped his servant to stand. "Young man, take those cursed jars of gold and dump them near Yaksha's tree."

The barber did. The jar inside, was full, all over again!


GERALD D'CUNHA

Thursday, February 4, 2010

FOUR DONKEYS

I hate to watch horror movies... Perhaps, I am too scared. But, I watched Ram Gopal Verma's 'Bhooth', by default. I had rushed at the last minute, on that Friday, to watch an Amitabh starrer. The movie had already started. So, there was no time to think or check. I bought the ticket and slowly made my way into the dark hall to find my seat. It was a single-screen local cinema hall. The atmosphere was electrifying! The stall crowd was screaming, whistling making all sorts of weired sounds... and, it took some time for me to realise that I was in to watch a different movie... And, that too, what I would have never, ever otherwise dared to do - a horror film!

By the time the movie ended, I was truly satisfied. I was scared, but the movie was good, great! Ramu was great!

After two days, I read the Sunday review. The critic had given one-and-a-half stars! There was nothing great for him... The movie was mediocre, Ramu was mediocre! I was surprised. "What is this? Am I so bad in judging a movie? How come, I so thoroughly enjoyed the movie and this fellow has out right discarded it?" I started, for a while, doubting my own movie taste-buds. The following week, I asked many people, "Have you watched 'Bhooth'?" They said, "No". "Why?" I asked them. "Only one-and-a-half stars," they replied. "Faaltu".

After that, I stopped disclosing before any one the fact that I had watched Ramu's horror flick. I did not want to come about as a tasteless guy... the one who watched 'faaltu' shows!

The same thing happened some time after that. Our family had been to the IMAX multiplex at Wadala to watch a Hindi movie. Because the tickets were sold out, we decided to watch 'Dus', instead. Again, it was before we had taken any body's opinion, before our mind had even the faintest idea about this movie. We simply loved the movie! In fact, later, I bought a DVD and watched the same, twice, at home!

And, review?

Obviously, "Okay, okay" ... "So, so."!

Not long time after these two, episodes, I watched my favourite hero Amitabh Bachchan's 'Eklavya'. Vinu Vinod Chopra, the flamboyant producer, had done great publicity for this movie. He had, even, reportedly, gifted Amitabh a fine Rolls Royce for the knock-out performance. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and went to watch it, again, at the same multiplex, all alone. I was inspired!

When the Oscar-nomination controversy erupted about this movie, I started reading comments by so many big names. "It is a pathetic movie; it doesn't deserve even a domestic award, leave alone an Oscar."!

So, "So be it," I thought. I stopped sharing my joy, of watching this movie, with any one.

Much before that, I remember, one night, we were in a queue to buy tickets for the English (Or, Chinese?) film "Crouching Tigers and Hidden Dragons." It was a Monday late night show. The earlier day, we had read the review... the coveted, very, very rare 'Five stars'! So, we were dying to watch this great movie; we couldn't wait any longer!

So, that night, I was just one-man away from the Box-office counter. "Hey, Gerry," I heard someone shouting from a distance. "It was Prem with his family just coming out after watching the previous show. "Go home, horrible!"

By then, my money had already gone inside, and the tickets were out. We watched, any way. And, this time, I fully agreed with Prem. "I should have gone home," I grumbled.

Every one has an opinion; and every one thinks, his is the right one. Nothing wrong with that... no trouble, no problem. The trouble comes when I doubt my own opinion after listening to others'... When I start denying, undoing, the 'fine' experience that I savoured from my own real, authentic opinion. When I give the keys of my personal joy in the hands of others. As the father and son did, long, long ago, in this old story.

One day, the father and son loaded on their donkey their goods and had gone to the village market to sell. By the late afternoon, they had sold everything and were on their way home. It was a tiring day for them, and it was hot. The father made his son sit on the donkey and they had hardly travelled some distance. A passerby saw them and commented, "How bad! The young man is all relaxed on the donkey, and the poor old man is made to walk in the hot sun!"

Immediately, the son came down and the father went up. Barely some distance they had managed to travel, another passerby saw them and yelled, "Look at this. What a pity! The strong man is all enjoying the ride, and the weak son is made to slog it out."

Instantly, the guilty father pulled his young son up, and the animal began to ferry both of them. As it would have it, some distance later, a 'wise man' was passing by them. "How cruel, how merciless humans can be! Poor donkey... O God!"

It did not take even a second for the father and son to decide what to do next. They both dismounted, lifted the 'poor donkey' high up... and carried it all the way to their home!

In our village school, when our teacher, after narrating this story, had asked us the question, "Children, tell me, how many donkeys were there in this story?", I was the first one to raise my hand. "One," I had answered, brimming with confidence and excitement. "Wrong," the teacher had declared and made me sad, "Three!"

"How come?" I had wondered. But, every one around in the class was laughing as if they had understood. So, even I started laughing. I had to complete my journey back home and strain my little brain to solve this great mystery. Before I could sleep, that night, my simple mother had solved the mystery for me. "Your teacher is wrong," she had empathised with her beloved son. "There were four donkeys... This is the fourth one," she had tapped my head and put me to sleep.

The less you strain our brain on this, the better is the sleep!


GERALD D'CUNHA

Monday, February 1, 2010

I HAVE SEEN YOU SOMEWHERE

The pretty young girl was there in the hotel lobby. On the sofa, lay some lovely balloons and decorations. As I spotted this young girl, I smiled. For a short while, the girl did not reciprocate, but kept staring at me. "I have seen you somewhere... I don't remember, where," she said, gently. "Ma'am, you may not remember, but I do," I told her, "I am Gerry, your teacher."

"Oh, hi sir... I am very sorry; really sorry," she exclaimed in embarrassment. "You know, your look so different, so young, in these formals."

I nicely ran my hand over my silk tie. The massage by the young lady made me feel - 'Not bad'!

She was there waiting for some of her friends. "We are here to decorate the room. A friend of ours will be spending her first night in this hotel, today," she told me.

"When was the wedding?" I asked in excitement.

"Not me, my friend, sir," she thought I had heard it wrong.

I was in my own world... and, in deed, I had heard it wrong.

"I am here to attend the Golden Jubilee celebration of a couple," I informed her.

"Fifty years!!!?" she shouted, astonished.

"No, no... not mine, not ours," I was quick to clear the confusion. "It is of a couple we know."

Possibly, she, too, was in her own world.

The smartly dressed staff at the reception counter were a witness to our absent-mindedness.

As I joined my family, who had already occupied one of the tables at the beautifully decorated venue, my mind was still swinging, back and forth, like a restless pendulum. "I think, I have seen your somewhere,"... The old joke came to life, all over again.

This time the setting was a country liquor-joint in a village. Two men - one young and the other old - are seated facing each other, and are enjoying their desi stuff... They are in their own world! The room is dark and packed.

Suddenly, the old man says, "Young man, I think, I have seen you somewhere."

"Even I think, I have seen your somewhere," the young man responds in excitement.

"Where do you stay, sir?" asks the young man, after a sip.

"I stay in Ashok Nagar," replies the old man.

"Even I stay in Ashok Nagar," shouts the young man, pulling the old man's hand to shake.

Two gulps later, the young man asks, again, "Sir, where in Ashok Nagar?"

"Chawl number 10," tells the senior.

"Strange, even I stay in chawl number 10," jumps the juniour, to shake the elderly man's both hands.

More sips and pickle later, the dialogue resumes, "Tell me, sir. Which room, in Chawl
number 10?"

"Room number 4."

"Even I stay in room number 4... What a pleasant surprise!" The young man gets up to lend a bear hug to the grey-haired. "I did not know this... Surprising!"

The customer at the cash counter, who was watching the episode, all along, couldn't refrain from reacting before the busy and indifferent cashier, "Do you see the drama? Who are these characters?"

"It is the daily show, here," informs the cashier, casually, to the amused customer. "The black-haired is the son, and the gray-haired is his father."

That was another world... another setting... and, another kind of intoxication!

In room number 304, the young couple was checking in to begin its roller-coaster ride. On the terrace, the elderly couple was ready for another surprise!


GERALD D'CUNHA