Monday, June 26, 2006


Of all the things I’ve been reading on the Net I am inspired by Shuchika’s somewhat morbid post. Shit… all my efforts and happiness have been brought to naught. By the way people, Shuchika’s unwell and I wish her a speedy recovery, which enables her back to the Internet.

Just got back home from my 4 days a week bar to watch the game between Argentina and Mexico and that I am out of Old Monk. It is a brand of alcohol I have been consuming regularly for close to 10 years now and it makes me feel slightly uncomfortable to be out of it. Anyway…

For people of my vintage (or experience, if you wish) my employer conducts a review, which is called … never mind. Essentially, the 120 mind-numbing questions of the survey result in a scorecard, which among other things spells out two factors – the employee’s Long Term and Short Term Value to the Business. Interesting.

Now the results!

T.O’s employer of five years considers that on a score of 0 – 100, his short-term value is 100. Which means that if I don’t turn up at work tomorrow, it would result in a panic situation leading to loss in earnings and immediate bottom line impact. Ahem… now that is very flattering. But its something I have always known. Anyone who’s worked in financial markets would agree on that aspect. Pipeline deals, key market levels, run-rates, intra-day stop losses in my kind of a job are always pretty much in the mind- and not documented to the last decimal.

However, just in case I was getting pleased with myself, my long term value is around 15, which is a number that I now think has been put down only to make me feel a little less miserable. So essentially, if I were to quit or vanish, over a period of time, somewhat considerable, my employer would continue to do business as usual.

Of course there is a one and a half page disclaimer-if one wishes to read that.

There are at least two things in this world that don’t work on me- consideration and counseling. So when the Bossman, sits me down to go over the result, and tries to assuage my perceived fears on why the second part reads the way it does, and why I shouldn’t really be too excited about the first. I put on my best don’t give a damn look, and stare beyond his shoulder and out of the window- as the Bombay skies weep to some unknown loss.

Now contrary to the impression I may have conveyed to my boss, I consider this to be a very important analysis and is exactly the feeling I have about my life in general.

No more on that. A few very interesting episodes have occurred in the last couple of weeks- things which made me think about a lot of things. I will narrate the incidents, but not what I thought about them.

There is a certain bar near my house, not very up market, but not quite down market either. The booze is cheap, the food edible, the women are not made up like a Christmas Tree, the music is awesome at most times (they play Gasolina on Hip-Hop nights and take requests only on Tuesdays- how bad can that be), and at most times one can carry out a half –decent conversation without having to raise the decibels. Needless to say, this is my four-day a week bar.

I enjoy certain benefits there, mostly because I tip handsomely and go regularly. Don’t need to place orders. They play my rare requests even outside of Tuesdays, and since I mostly go there alone on weekdays, find me a table without bothering with the occupancy. Never paid cover- not even on a weekend.

Now, according to me, there are two kinds of bar regulars- the ones who chat up the Doorman to the DJ, the Bouncer to the Barman, and everyone in between, even memorizing their wives names. Then there is the other type- my type- who essentially park themselves in a corner, remain obscure, and mostly invisible. Hardly ever request songs, and notice nothing around them. Speak only with their wallet, and leave without a trace, or even a nod of the head. They are typically the people who drink because they enjoy it, and that’s it.

I went to this place a few Saturdays back- something I hardly do, with some not so very close friends. We sat and drank, and drank, and drank… and when the place shut, for some reason, I had an altercation with a guy on the way out. So suddenly they stop their car, and some six dudes jump out, all taller than 6ft, broad Punju types (the kind which spends weeknights at the nearby Gold Gym, unlike me) and one of them yells- So you want to die? And then someone pushed me. Now given our relative sizes, and states, that could be dangerous. What followed was beyond my wildest imagination.

Out of nowhere some 15 bouncer- waiter varieties emerge. So do some other guys, who I faintly recall seeing on weeknights. And I sip what remains of my drink and stand where I have been pushed to and watch these people pounce upon the six gym types and start threatening them with dire consequences if they ever approach this bar again. One girl comes and stands next to me, and her male friend announces that if anyone so much even touches their friend, they’ll have to pay the price for it, even as my friend looks on bewildered. Finally the jocks are bundled into their DL-3C Mitsubishi Lancer and packed away.

Since then, whenever I visit this bar, I nod at the doorman, the bartender, the bouncer, the waiters and the DJ. And they smile back.

The second episode happened this Friday night. Again after a night of wild, and trust me, seriously wild drinking (which involved the mahurat of a Bhojpuri film- but more on that some other time) with some filmy type people who my cousin brought along, we start looking for food, ending up with downed shutters. As a last resort, my cousin takes us to this place he eats about 3 days a week. The shutter is down but one can make out that there are people inside. We force our way in, and sit down to be told that the cook had left for the night. The owner of the place emerges, slurring, which is when one of my cousin’s friends (probably to impress his item number cohort) says- “Lambaji, aap toh bole the ki aapke dukan se hume kabhi bhookha nhain lautna padega.” This apparently happened when recently, the two had been drinking together at this very place. And then Lambaji disappears and the waiters are running all over the place muttering under their breath. Apparently, 3AM in the morning Lambaji has taken upon the responsibility of cooking. So the ovens are fired, the dough is rolled, the veggies are cut, the mutton is chopped and the rice is boiled. Lambaji’s head emerges out of the kitchen five minutes later, shouting- “ Khilane ka waada that, order lene ka nahin!” all this while, we continue drinking, shrinking into our corners, by the minute.

Food comes, and then so does Lambaji, bathed in sweat, and looking extremely pleased with himself. Due to us, another couple has also managed a meal. No words were exchanged. We ate quietly, every bite tasted like heaven. I ate a quite a bit, and so did every one else. There was this hush over the place, a distinct sense of gratitude had set in. we ate, and when my cousin pulled out the wallet, Lambaji refused to take the money- “Raat ke is time pe meri dukan toh band hai, par ghar pe toh doston ke liye koi time nahin hota!”

That’s it. Two episodes, and guess what, they are worth a hundred times more than any loyalty program that any firm in the whole fucking world can ever conceive.

Truly, this happens only in Bombay. I love this city.
And yes, its true-
The Colours of the Rainbow so Pretty in the Sky
Are also on the Faces of People walking by.
So, Shuchika, the only person who'll miss out is You. There is just too much beauty in this world to leave behind, though sometimes, you just have to look a little harder.


dazedandconfused said...

Wow, quite an adventure you had last wknd! And my wishes to Shuchika as well for a speedy recovery...

Anuja said...

oye, your life has become happening!

shikha said... do sound different here...:)

shuchika said...


I am taking the liberty of quoting myself.

death scares me, its like a dark bottomless pit, or a dream where you saw everyone and everything you loved out of our reach.

To me, death doesnt feel like a ceasing or fullstop of oneself. It feels like a fullstop to the things you did , the people you met, the life you lived. Like living in a chemical solution in a dusty bottle in an airless lab and view life around you from a bottle.

The desire to live after death scares me.

It's like life's rudest jolt to get your act together, nature's last slap.

i want to get comfortable with the idea of death.

shuchika said...

also read something I had written on mumbai sometime back.

Bombay Addict said...

good to meet another bombay lover. nice post.

White Magpie said...

Hey great post..Enjoyed it..

Even though I am a Mumbaiite too, I have to differ on "It happens only in Mumbai"...Have had a few incident - similar - happen in Bhubaneshwar and Chandigarh..