Jolly & Lucky !

Wren & Martin sat on the desk with a weight that was well beyond what it weighed. This was the only pathway to a glorious land called ‘good English grammar’ ! For several years, teachers extolled the virtues of ‘word power’, ‘appropriate pronunciation’ and other linguistic gymnastics such as conversion of a sentence from ‘active voice to passive voice’ !

Verbs, nouns, conjunctions and such other rules were taught, learnt and ofcourse forced to wrestle with in ‘English-II’ exams, with such sincerity and fervour that an empty onlooker would have mistaken it for a something that was done with a strategic intent to redefine the geo-political reality of the country !

Several of you would argue that such English lessons have indeed crafted the geo-political might of the country. It is not without reason that we are the call centre capital of the world. An argument that you would buffet with evidence such as the number of Tata Indicas and Sumos ferrying young active minds at the dead of the night to answer calls from around the world.

Strategic geo-politics is a stratosphere away from this blog. Quite obviously this post is about something else.

During the days when when Wren & Martin lorded over the study table, there was this grocery store in the neighbourhood called ‘Shiva stores’. There i was, fresh from studying verbs et al and watching a Tamil epic called Thiruvilayadal.

Shiva stores?? To my young mind, it bordered on blasphemy to think that the great God who seemed to carry a serpent on his neck as a style statement, was reduced to some kind of a local warehouse manager !

‘What does Shiva store?’ was the question that was posed to the English teacher in the next class, in full view. The teacher’s arching eyebrows at its pinnacle could have touched some tall peak ! After a heavy heave of a breath and a tinge of a smile she announced , ‘The ‘stores’ in “Shiva stores” is a noun and not a verb’ .

She spoke with a flourish that could well be an exemplar of matriarchal tonality while the rest of the class laughed at the incredulity of the question and reveled in the supposed snub to an aspirant smarty pant.

Naturally, the tone, the collective laughter reverberated for a long time. The lesson stuck.

Walking a Mumbai road, one recent early morning ‘Jolly Tailors’ brought that teacher’s matriarchal tone zooming in from the wonder years. But not before the imagination ran riot. With a caricature of a James Bond look alike on the board, ‘Jolly’ the specialist in Mens wear, tingled with ‘possibility’.

Maybe there was ‘Jolly’ness as he took measured. Maybe there were a ‘fun’ tailoring outfit with great camaraderie and such else. Perhaps they made outfits for the menfolk that were ‘jolly’! Or perhaps their outfits made the men jolly or perhaps it gets the onlooker ‘Jolly’ !?!

When the mind was firmly entrenched in traveling some more distance on this ‘jolly’ road, was when the matriarchal voice boomed stressing the difference from nouns and verbs ! Announced with such incisive ferocity that the ‘jolly’ness scouted back into the frayed pages of the Wren & Martin that lies in the attic.

A few days later ‘Lucky’ came within eyesight . The imagination that ran riot with ‘Jolly’ men’s wear specialist, took ‘Lucky ladies tailor’ to a different height.

Well, it was too not long before the matriarchal voice returned.

Its in the eye !

Three quarters of the legendary ‘big fat tyre’ just beneath the chest is not only because of a sedentary life style or whatever else that the world will have us believe often. A good vision with a pinch of a vivid imagination can be as potent as well !

Now, you are either taking umbrage or laughing away at the nadirs of emptiness in the mind that i have reached. hmm Well, seriously… Take a look at this.

Here are whats called ‘murukku‘ in Tamil territory.

Not much technology here. Infact, age old recipe. Plain old flour coming from grain, going through different moulds to create basic designs. Of course, deep fried in oil or sometimes in mouth watering ghee !

There you go. Petals. Whorls. Plain surfaces. Labyrinthine mazes. A sight to the eye. All hoarding calories like a glutton engulfed with additional greed !

Invariably its the eye that spots these. The whorls and patterns draw the eye like parched land to rain !

The mind and imagination then kick in their work. The imagined taste of each of these awaken the slumber of hidden taste buds resting in the tongue.

The ears hear the crackle of the ‘murukku’ against the teeth, the melting of the ghee and the after taste after the murukku is long gone into the deepest recesses of the tyre !

( Yes, the mind allows thinking of the tyre to seep in only after the snack sinks into the alimentary canal ) !

And even as the mind is thinking of all of this, the eyes induce the hands to declare independence. The wallet comes out and in a while the rest of the world hears the crackle : the crackle of the murukku as the teeth work on them !

The rest is history !

Ah ! The eyes !

Thank God for ‘spell check’ !

To me sub-standard work is a reflection of your attitude to the reader. Be it spelling errors or grammatical errors or atrocious abbreviations” So wrote a friend. ( It was not directed at me. Really).

As the words registered, a shudder went through the spine that, could have been felt in Greece. Obviously it wouldn’t have registered with the residents of Greece for they seem to other problems to solve. But for sure, my hair stood up. Reading the friend’s note.

Now, I must say, i have the highest regard for you. For you. Yes, you. You who is reading this sentence. For reading what i dish out. On an even keel i have the greatest regard for the chap who thought of ‘spell check’ !

For, If only it weren’t for ‘spell check’, my not getting lynched for mis-spelling would have been a function of the intensity of my prayer and great kindness in readers like you.

Having confessed to fundamental deficiencies, somehow seems to give me liberty to cock a snook at others in boats like mine !! Something like Afghanistan talking about India not being a safe place. Or India whining about Chinese cheap imports. And the Chinese preaching Human rights !

What can i do ? Blessed with a roving imagination and a compelling need to expend energy on things ‘that wont earn two rupees’ (as the missus puts it), the mind wanders to possibilities that mis-spellings throw up !

Like this one.
Seen outside a road side shop that fixes a punctured tyres. “TYRE PUNCHER” ! It screams. (Spell check couldn’t have spotted that). But then, imagine a Mike Tyson just ear away ( yes.. a ear away) from you, punching tyres with ferocity that befits a Evander Holyfield. Wouldn’t you feel insecure ?

Phew ! And there you are, having to fix a punctured one yourself ! That must be some predicament. Would it not be ?

Or take this example.
Spotted near the much advertised and spanking new Bandra-Worli sealink. If you keep to the left of the road, and pass Lilavati Hospital, you will of course come to a church. For many years, its been known as the Mount Mary church.

Until the time some men thought it fit to change Mary to merry ! Some deprived soul, must be. Or perhaps someone who was so much into merriment…! Or perhaps someone with a girlfriend called Mary… ! Possibilities abound, you see !
Of course, these are not big pearls of wisdom in this post.
With Hyderabad having so much of bandhs and shutdowns, i guess someone walked away with a vowel ! Nevertheless, just wanted to write in, saying a sincere word of thanks to readers like you. For coming back for more! And prodding me to venture into unchartered territory.
But seriously. What would i do without ‘spell check’ ! Phew !

Horses for Courses – Part II

Part – I, had fantastic response. So, Staying with horses!

Speaking of horses, hill stations provide you with plenty. Albeit these are horses who humour tourists. The loud children, big men and women, all perhaps in search of some interim pleasure. “Can we go ‘horse riding’ ” is not to be read as a question, but as an indication of an activity whose time has come !

The point really is these are horses who run the same dirt track every day. With an odd tourist in every shape and size. Done without complaints. And done without fuzz.

You can excuse the odd neighs and sundry gallop in the wrong direction. ( Somewhere they ought to be like us, right ?) All that is commonplace.

At Mahabaleshwar though, they have names to the horses.

Names like

John Ibr.
Munna Bhai.

And the chaps that sell rides, proclaim to the world, ‘ How about a ride on Salman ‘ ? Well. Hmm. Now, i love horses. But that marketing pitch didn’t quite resonate well with me. A rose is a rose is a rose. Yes. That’s true. And, in this case it was a horse.

But you know, when i did ride, two things made it uncomfortable. I am an occasional tourist and a rarer horse rider. Ofcourse, the butt didnt take the steady cantor pleasantly.

The other i guess was in my own mind. ” Riding ‘Salman’ ” wasn’t exactly my idea of a holiday. And then, just as i was dismounting and ruing the lack of a clear and steady mind, ‘Sir, would you want to try Bipasha’ said a big gent with another white horse.

And Bipasha snorted. I guess in wholesome disapproval.

The next day, as i took a walk, Bipasha, Salman, Shaheed and the gang, were all being given their bath. Their name tag identities lying besides them. And not on them.

And suddenly, they seemed who they truly were. Simple beautiful living creatures.

I clicked many times. ‘Pics of Salman, Shaheed, Bipasha et al having a bath by the river’ would be a blog title that could cause such a spike in Internet traffic that the world could have to come to a halt.

The horses couldn’t care less. Any more than a vigorous shake of a fresh white head ! And that was to swat a fly !