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Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Guru and the Gandhian

Below is a true account. It involves a Gandhian and a guru, interlaced with excerpts of interactions between the two protagonists.

Guru (in response to an earlier unrecorded question, one that can only be hazarded a guess to revolve around the Gandhian’s bad bowels): "Shirshashana can move mountains. And I’m sure what you’re trying to move isn’t much of a mountain – a mound at best! That’s what you get if you don’t follow my ‘Four easy asanas to free bowel movement Movement’"
Gandhian: "Shirishashana, my head! And my foot! They changed positions. As for the Satvik diet – that’s the reason for me to become more expressive with my bowels.”

The Gandhian had it easier than the guru the last few days. On the 21st day of his fast, during which he consumed nothing but water every day, after a breakfast of cornflakes and soya milk and a dinner of samosas, the cops rounded up him and his support group. Further up the country, the guru tried starting a grass-root movement. The event had many reasons for failing, chief among them being the camel fair held a day earlier – there were no grassroots for the followers. Aforementioned cops did their bit. While they were gentle in their prodding of the Gandhian, a midnight raid left the guru and his motley crew of followers, little time to get away. While being dragged and kicked out of the venue, the guru was heard yelling “I like salwar-kameezes and have a crush on Simi Garewal in white!”

With fasts becoming the hippest form of protesting, both thinktanks worked overdrive to find new causes. This was an industry that needed to be guided and nurtured. And soon there were causes – good ones, bad ones, long ones, short ones and one to make fasts faster.

Young men in Haryana fasted to force their government reduce the number of police patrol vehicles past midnight. Sreesanth and his fans fasted to make abusing Australians legal on Indian grounds, before all 3 of them were bundled off by the BCCI. And the top honchos of the consulting world fasted to make .ppt a legal language. In their collective wisdom they came upon protocols for fasting – presented in Times New Roman to a committee including the guru and the Gandhian. They laid out the laws – there shall be no fast longer than 30 days, there shall be no fast shorter than 30 minutes. Fasts can be broken when it rains or if it’s too sunny. And of most importance, all men who fast shall have in their bags a salwar-kameez. Only the purest silk shall do.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Time, Stand Still – Hotel Airlines (Part II)

Everybody needs a home away from home. For many it is a religious center – a temple, a church and for the atheists, their favourite pub with the gods bearing first names Jimi or Bob. For us, and I’ll briefly introduce the “us”, its Hotel Airlines. While starting off on Part I of this blog, the intent was to talk more of the “us”. It was only after the start that it dawned on me – while 4 of us meet at the place regularly, what bonds us was the 5th entity - the place itself. So Part I went in describing the place and the emotions it whips up.

Everybody needs a home away from home. Where they feel welcome and even if they don’t feel welcome, they don’t mind. You can’t be a guest at your own home, can you!? The waiters at Airlines go all-out in ensuring you feel at home. As mentioned earlier, there are lines drawn with wands that separate each waiter’s ‘area’ of tables from the others’. Like a friend puts it, these are Lines of Control and are taken very seriously. Ask something of a waiter from the enemy territory and the cold stare he gives along with the wave of the finger, suggesting “barthaare (he’ll come shortly)”, makes you feel like it’s a happy birthday party in Alaska – in your birthday suit. Few patrons have dared ask twice the same waiter, the whereabouts of his area’s designated man. Once bitten at Airlines and you’d be as shy as a newly-wed on the first night (strictly talking arranged marriages here). Trying to encroach upon another’s territory is like expecting breakfast before the gods have been given their quota of morning calories in an Iyengar household. That’s how much the waiters make you feel at home.

Asking for a tea/2, initiates a series of actions that would be banned in any self-respecting middle-eastern country. The WHO’s executive committee in its collective wisdom would yell out “WOO HOOO” upon spotting the hygiene levels. Empty glasses left in the open make you question authority. But the ones at Airlines start off an entire game of 20Q. The tap plays the role of Director, Make-shift Sink, c/o Massive Tree. Few swirls like those done by a Romanian gymnast later, precise-yet-meaningless, and the water is thrown on the ground you stand on. The waiter then proceeds to quickly split the tea into two. A deft flick of the hand is all it takes. What they miss out on quality, they make up with the metric system. An eye-to-eye check of the glasses, held at mid-riff level is undertaken to ensure both patrons who sought the tea/2 are given equal volumes of the tea.

None of the waiters ever make eye-contact unless provoked or seriously threatened. Their vision settles on a spot of “No Smoking” on a distant wall, easily recognizable by the hoard of smokers under it. Looking at you and acknowledging your presence, is in their books, putting the two of you on an equal plane. He may serve you two and take your money. He may obey a few of your commands and still like you tipping him. But as true as the brew in his hand, he’s superior to you. And he knows it. Waiters of Airlines, take a bow!