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I Forget…..

I Forget…..

I forget…

Being absentminded is the privilege of the genius. We hear stories of the ridiculous stupidity and feeble mindedness in everyday matters by such greats as Einstein and Newton and chuckle appreciatively.
However, if we of acknowledged mediocre intellect should occasionally let things slip our mind, we are subjected to severe ridicule and harsh name calling.
I unfortunately have suffered from this since childhood, and it shows no signs of improving when I am reaching the age where such senior moments can be attributed to early onset of senility or Alzheimer’s.forget 2
This has led to various problems ranging from mild inconvenience to brushes with the long arm of the law.
For instance, I can never remember my vehicle registration number, and in the days of manual security at public parking lots, I had often to peer inside all the cars to identify mine, raising suspicion, which became worse when on questioning I could not recollect the number. I was often subjected to rigorous questioning before being permitted to drive away my own car. Nowadays the remote lock has made the job of identifying my car easier.
It is worse when I am driving someone else’s car. I usually have no recollection of the make or model either. Once when driving a colleagues car while mine was at the workshop, I panicked on reaching a parking lot with a sea of vehicles. Finally I realised that as a recent arrival from another state, his plates will bear that states number. The rest was simple.
What is worse, in those days, most cars of the same make could be opened by the same key, if the vehicle was old. Once, when visiting my parents, I had borrowed my dad’s car and taken my kids to the market. Returning laden with packets and child in tow, I opened the door of what I thought was my dad’s Maruti and proceeded to load the shopping. A gentleman came over and asked if there is a problem. I thanked him and asked him to mind my child while I arranged the packets. This done I thanked him, sat my daughter in the back seat and got in myself. The stunned gentleman protested,
“But this is my car!”
Profuse apologies later, and the clinching argument
that I would hardly be committing grand theft auto with shopping and a child in tow, and finally on discovering the right car parked nearby, I convinced him that I was not a criminal. But he may have been harbouring a doubt that I was criminally insane.
The other issue is I always drive on autopilot. Once the route has been uploaded on what passes for my mind, I don’t have to consciously plan the drive. Thus, as I used to drop my wife off on my way to work, that’s how I went, irrespective of whether she was in the car or not. I usually realised that she’s not there after I had parked by her office and waited for her to get off. I may have been suspected of being a stalker by some of her colleagues.
Ditto when dropping my daughter off to school. I think the authorities had a lookout for the potential paedophile that stops his car outside the school, sheepishly looks around and drives off.
On the pervert front my reputation takes a beating by another nasty betrayal of my mind. Being an incurable multi tasker, I am usually on my computer when I have called someone on the phone and waiting for them to pick up. So that by the time the response comes, I have completely forgotten whom I have called or why. As I desperately try to identify the voice and remember what it was I needed, the person at the other end shouts
“Hello hello!”whilst listening to my heavy breathing.
When I call my secretary for some work, I may be involved with something else by the time she arrives, and I stare at her asking why I called her. I think till she knew me better she may have been convinced I was the stereotyped evil boss looking her over. I am glad I didn’t face harassment charges.
But what almost brought about a crisis in our marriage was when I was giving a lift back from work to a colleague and the LOH was in the backseat. When I stopped to drop the colleague, she had got off to come over to the front. Blissfully unaware, I drove off home, leaving her stranded midway, without money as her purse was in the backseat. I realised this only when she came home in a cab, and she icily asked me for money to pay off the taxi.
Fortunately, my marriage survives to this day, no doubt as I forget the many hints dropped about reconsideration of options from my long suffering LOH.

 

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The Return of Gussie Fink nottle

The Return of Gussie Fink nottle

Return of Gussie Fink Nottle
Some of you may have my earlier adventures in Gussie’s avatar when I gave out the prizes in a village school we had adopted as part of our CSR activities. For the newbie, here is the link
https://soumyamukherjee8.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/giving-out-the-prizes/
Now once again I had an invitation from a school to attend their literature day as a chief guest.
It happened like this. The principal of an international school is a loyal follower of my blog and has actually read almost everything that I have written. She has also read my book and admired it greatly and has shared her opinion and appreciation of the book in particular and my writing in general on the social media. Totally flattered on having an intelligent articulate attractive young lady fan, we were in touch through social media.
Incidentally, a great many more women read than men, and they also comment and express their appreciation, often getting in touch with the author. This is one of the major perks of writing and a superb incentive to aging nerds like me.
Her school was celebrating a literary week where they invite an author to give an inspiring speech, and decided to invite me this year. Thrilled at the prospect of being recognised as a writer, I gladly accepted.
I anguished over what to wear, and remembering gussie and the split trouser theory, I gave ethnic wear a miss, thus avoiding entertaining the students with wardrobe malfunctions, as dhotis and churidars have a nasty habit of unravelling at inopportune moments; and stuck to sober casuals.
Fortified with plain orange juice I landed up at the impressive sprawling premises of the residential school, a little way outside the city. As I was ushered to the principal’s room, the memories of being sent up to see the principal came surging out of the unconscious, creating flutters in the stomach. There were a few young thugs waiting outside the boss’s lair, but they seemed unperturbed by the imminent interview. Perhaps the ubiquitous cane having been eliminated from the proceedings have resulted in such sangfroid.
The principal’s room was huge, much larger than mine, but it was not manned by a fire breathing ogre nine feet high in a cassock and a front to back collar; but a petite demure lady in a sari, whose rimless glasses were the only severe aspect and kept me from being flippant and flirtatious.
I was taken around the campus on a tour. The boys’ hostel evoked strong feelings of nostalgia. I even entered that place I had often dreamt of visiting in my misspent youth; the girls’ hostel. Needless to say, the children were in class and not in the dorms. A couple of boys were flushed out from under a tree outside the girls’ hostel and sent packing, after hearing their lame excuses for their presence there. My heart went out to the poor blighters.
I then inspected some kids dressed as literary characters and looking miserable, all except mowgli, who was prancing around in his briefs and happily living up to the role of the wild jungle man cub without fear of reprisal from the teachers.
We proceeded to the auditorium and a surprise awaited me. There, among the decorations with literary themes, were three larger than life drawings; at the centre of which, flanked by Shakespeare and Wordsworth, was a replica of my book cover. I felt like the golf crazy Russian poet in one of plums golf stories, who thought that only Tolstoy and Shakespeare were any good, and comparable to him, and Wodehouse was tolerable, and the rest were rubbish.
Thoroughly pleased and embarrassed, I stoically sat through the performances of the much suffering volunteers, and the student body suffered them glumly, with bored clapping appreciating the end of individual bits. Only glitches were loudly appreciated.
Finally the dreaded moment came, and I had to earn my lunch. As the final item, the patience of the audience was stretched thin, and I had to tread cautiously, armed only with coconut water pick me ups.
Once again, forewarned by Gussie, I steered well clear of motivational talks. Instead, to give credence to my status as an author, I told them a story. To ensure total comprehension, I requested the vernacular language teacher to translate along in the local language, using all colloquialisms.
I made the story as politically incorrect as I could get away with, keeping the students happy, with a hidden message of tolerance and inclusiveness which would mollify the teachers. I acted, pranced, made animal noises and generally played the fool. Soon, the roars of laughter and appreciation that would be a match to the reception of Gussies speech came as music to my ears, and I could see the teachers smiling too.
After the speech I had a photo session with the kids and there was a mad scramble to shake my hands and take my autograph. A young lady wanted me to sign her shirt, but I dissuaded her warning her of her mother’s reaction, when she persuaded me to sign her hand.
This was my five minutes of fame promised to every citizen in this century. I briefly knew what rock stars feel all the time.
This is the story I told them, although altered to suit the mood.
https://soumyamukherjee8.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/beauty/

 

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Video promo of Memories a Novella

 

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A dream come true

A dream come true

Writing
This is a story about how I acquired this nasty addiction to writing. I am merely trying to shift the blame. As an apology for inflicting my stories on you, here I inflect another one.
Having an insatiable appetite for stories, and finding that supply is unable to match demand, I decided to fill the gap by making up stories himself. This is how that happened
My fascination with words began early, perhaps not as early as Abhimanyu, as I don’t remember anything prenatal, but soon afterwards. I was fortunate in a literate ayah, who was my major childhood influence, and a literary mom, who had a sizable library at home. To keep me quiet, the babysitter would read to me from anything available, including Bangla translations of the English classics, and the Bengali Mahabharata. After such a classical grounding, I could not help but be a lifelong addict to the magic world of fantasy and fiction, initially oral, and later of the printed word.
But addictions have fatal side effects, and I became quite useless at all useful skills of survival. I wasn’t focused on studies and my handwriting made me suitable only for the medical profession. I learnt to read, so that he wouldn’t have to wheedle others to read for me, and was a very precocious reader, forcing my parents to hide books in unconventional places, and put covers on some. That’s how I knew which to read first, and in secret.
The inevitable next step was joining the ranks of my heroes, and start writing myself. Writing was fine, but I faced the problem of all would be authors, how to get readers? I had a captive audience in my family, but they couldn’t or wouldn’t decipher my writing. Solution – a little brother I could bully, who would copy it out for me.
Thus was born my first collection, containing humour, parody, rhymes, mystery stories inspired by Blyton and later Christie, war stories when the ’72 war captured my imagination, and even plays.
Jump cut to high school. Obliging friends copied out my stories for a hand written wall magazine in exchange for doing their maths homework, and other obliging friends copied out pieces for their first handwritten cyclostyled little magazine, edited and mostly ghost written by me in exchange for names on the masthead to impress girls. Believe it or not, bong girls fall for such stuff.
Fast forward to the 80s. Handwritten contributions are no longer acceptable, and typing is a skill I had failed to master. However, obliging young ladies willing to support the arts helped out, and college, university, and company magazines continue to feed my need to be heard. That’s how my partner-to-be first heard of me.
Working life and matrimony soon put all creativity on a backburner, until my children appeared on the scene, and mealtime, bedtime and anytime stories took care of all my creative juices, and was well within my technical knowhow.
As time passed, I hankered for a wider audience. By now, I was empowered with a stenographer, and a bit of charm could overcome my tech handicap, and double spaced typed offerings with self addressed envelopes haunted editorial desks and found kind supporters like Jug Suraiya of TOI and others kindred and discerning souls.
I had the ultimate high, seeing my babies in print with my by-line , and being paid for it.
Soon, work and family took precedence, and creativity was limited to sales pitches and the incredible job of bringing up two daughters to be independent freethinking individuals, well adjusted in life, until they no longer needed or heeded me, and the craving for an audience hit once again
By now, the world had changed beyond my tech challenged comprehension, and the virtual world ruled, denying me access. My wife, who had moved with the times, my friends, who had learnt to cope, and my children, who were born with mouse in hand, had no patience for my illiteracy.
It looked like my outpourings would die unheard through lack of virtual space. Finally, with patient coaching from few young colleagues and friends, I attempted the new medium, THE BLOG and the FB and through many blunderings in unexplored and mysterious realms of which more shall be disclosed later, the end results were finding an entirely new set of readers, who did not pay in moolah, but in likes and comments and shares. Moreover, the reach was Global, and it thrilled me to have loyal readers and followers from five continents, including someone from Moldova, a couple of people from Pakistan, and a few from Russia.
The happiness that this gave me, money can’t buy.
But now a new envy crept in. How come X has one million hits, hundred thousand followers, dozens of awards, and all for writing such bilge?
But then slowly, as my readers crossed the twenty thousand mark, and followers the thousand mark, and a few awards rolled in, I too started feeling better. I watched my indivine rank leap around with the intensity of the punter watching sensex. I celebrated reaching the exalted eighties and mourned falling to the lowly fifties.
The next great thing to happen was that a story of mine was picked up for an anthology. Seeing my name in print, after ages, and that too in a book along with established writers, gave me an immense high. This was followed by a couple of other pieces being picked as well, a funny poem here, a limerick there, and a fairy tale somewhere else. It boosted my ego to ridiculous proportions.
Thus when an invitation came to try my luck at worldwide a novel writing competition, I bravely plunged in. This was supposed to be a novella or very short novel of thirty thousand words in thirty chapters written in a month. Of course I failed. But I was kindly given another month’s time to try and finish it, although I was out of the competition.
Having a full time job which is quite demanding, time became an issue. I wrote mostly in airport lounges, and announcements for delay in flights looked like lucky breaks. I even wrote crouched in the economy seats in flights. I welcomed traffic jams as I wrote in the car. I wrote late at night, sometimes groggy eyed after a party or official dinner. I welcomed conferences which I normally avoid, so that I could write while the speaker droned on. During our performance review, while waiting my turn to be grilled by our chairman, I was busy writing while pretending that I am polishing up my presentation like the rest of my colleagues. The story was finished in the extended period, but the quality of produce was debatable.
However, some people liked it, some raved about it, and although it did not even win the popular vote, the enthusiastic support turned my head. Now that the massive effort of actually penning thirty thousand odd words was over, my long time dream of actually publishing a novel resurfaced. I had given up the idea as a pipe dream, but now started hoping again.
The details of how it happened would make another story, but my rough draft was polished into shape by my daughter, who writes far better than me, and deplores my efforts as lazy first drafts.
My artist daughter did the sketches; my toughest critic gave her scathing opinion, and through this family joint venture, a book was born.
A dream came true.
Whether it will be successful depends on you readers
If it is,there would be many more coming, so be warned

 

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Going South

Going South

Going South
I was in my final year in the University. I had virtually dropped out, not attending classes, and doing everything else possible in those laissez faire days of Delhi University.
By a stroke of good fortune, a classmate, a minor Dada or Don at the University, had decided to mentor me not only in nefarious activities, but also in had through his unique logic persuaded me into taking a few competitive exams. He in fact paid the fees, as I had spent all my allowance in less productive activities, and even woke me up and dropped me to the exam centres. I will write about him in a separate story.
Having taken these exams without preparation and barely awake, I had little hope of clearing any. But I did get interview calls, but having previous experience of how I tend to offend the interviewers with my general appearance and attitude, I had no expectations. I was certain I was unemployable and that I would fail my exams too.
But on my return from a crazy adventure in a forest, about which I have written earlier, in Close encounters of the Wild Kind, I found an appointment letter waiting for me.
Receiving the appointment letter was a godsend. My concerns regarding a bleak future of unemployment and poverty being allayed, celebrations started on a serious note. The relevance of the final examinations thus becoming negligible, I gave up all pretence of studying.
My colourful friend, unconventional philosopher and extreme lifestyle guide, who, as I said earlier, was instrumental in getting me employed, was also selected by the same organisation, and posted to my hometown, Calcutta. I was posted to Madras as it was then known, in the Deep South.
The joining date was a few days after the final exams, and it was a two day journey across the length of the country by train. In order to avoid confrontation with my going to be disappointed parents, who wanted me to study further and prepare for the IAS, I decided to join first and inform them later.
Now that my creditworthiness was established, as I was about to become a class one officer in a government organisation with what seemed in their impoverished state a princely salary, I jointly with my friend threw a party involving crates of bliss which lasted through the weekend. This merged into another farewell party that our friends threw for us, and a few very hazy days later, my friends uploaded me, barely awake, on the South bound train along with my Spartan possessions in a rucksack.
When I finally woke up the train had reached the badlands of Chambal, and the deep gorges and ravines and steep banks took me straight to the stories of the Wild West that had fired my imagination as a schoolboy. The men around me had spectacular moustaches and colourful pugrees, and the women wore brightly hued sarees with thick silver jewellery and veils pulled over their face. A number of men carried muskets. They spoke Hindi with an unfamiliar lilt.
Next morning I woke up to a new world. My co passengers had changed and everyone around was speaking in a strange incomprehensible guttural tongue. There also was an unusual smell, which I later identified as a mixture of coconut oil, jasmine and camphor. The women wore long skirts and had flowers in their hair. The men wore white lungis. The calls of “chai, garam chai “ was replaced by “kaffee, kaffee”. The vendors sold coffee, and tea was nowhere in sight. The breakfast or tiffin being served was in banana leaves, and newspapers in an unfamiliar script, and consisted of idlis, vadas and curd rice.
This was the first time that I had ventured South of the Vindiyas. It was almost like being in a new country. I could not communicate with my neighbours except through sign language.
Early next morning the train rolled into Madras. I was bewildered and lost in a sea of humanity whom I could not understand, and was being solicited by a mob of touts shouting “Hotel! Taxi!” and a string of incomprehensible words.
Suddenly out of the gloom there emerged a beacon of joy, in the shape of a man in white uniform and chauffeurs cap carrying a banner “Welcome Mr Mukherjee”
This completely unexpected angel of mercy guided me to a white Ambassador car, with white seat covers, which a very grimy boy, covered in two days worth of the dust of the nation, was afraid to soil. This scruffy untidy unwashed being in much stained tees was thus bourn regally to a hotel in Maylapore, my home to be for the next six months.
The novelty of being in a hotel, getting a wakeup call with tea served in the room along with the morning newspaper, proper meals served buffet style with plenty to eat in a proper restaurant, seemed like a dream, just out of my university hostel.
A telegram home informed my parents of my latest whereabouts and career choice. Two thousand kilometres protected me from their displeasure.
I got used to waking to the strains of ladies practicing Carnatik music in the neighbourhood, and the sound of temple bells. I got used to men in white with foreheads streaked with holy ash. I got used to demure women with jasmine in their hair. I got used to polite people in buses, who would not sit in a ladies seat even if it was empty, in sharp contrast to the uncouth louts in my earlier city.
I discovered a new country, the Deep South

 

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Cooking my Goose

Cooking my Goose

Cooking my Goose
I am a foodie. My girth hints at it. I take a keen interest in the creative process of cooking too, but all strictly theoretical. I also enjoy cooking as a spectator sport. The glamorous cooks on television make it look so sexy. However, the actual mechanics of it have eluded me so far.
Having grown up in the strictly feudal atmosphere of a Bengali Bhadralok family, I learnt to appreciate fine food, without ever wondering about the process that creates it. Our kitchen was presided over by a family heirloom, the venerable Maharaj from a neighbouring state, who dished out delectable repasts ala Anatole of Blandings fame but jealously guarded his domain, where even my mother was denied entry.
When I finally left the comfortable cocoon of home and later hostel to venture out into the big bad world to forage for the daily bhat mach or pizza, this shortcoming became a problem.
I moved into a Barsati with some friends, a typical bachelor dig. Those of you who have seen Chasme Baddoor will get the idea even if you have not lived it.
For economies sake, for we were impecunious bachelors, we decided to try cooking at home. The onus of providing dinner came by turns. When my turn came I thought that khichuri will be a simple enough dish, as you could add rice dal vegetables eggs sausages spices and everything one could think of in the pot with ghee and add water and boil and it’s done. The subtleties of proportion and timing and controlled heat escaped me.
The net result was that the mix turned black and started emitting a foul smelling smoke. Adding more water in a desperate bid to salvage my creation turned it into a thick black liquid broth. I dared not taste it.
I tried calling my creation Hungarian Goulash and try it out on our most gullible roommate, but even he saw through it. I was demoted to procurer of ingredients, leaving the creative side to my more skilled roomies
When I lost my single status and my partner moved in, my roommates moved out. My wife was a superb cook, and my attempts to help out were quashed on the grounds of slowing down the process and leaving a mess in the kitchen. My guilt regarding my inability forcing her to do two difficult tasks, cooking the books at the workplace, and a multicourse Bengali Punjabi fusion cuisine at home continued to niggle, and we arrived at a compromise solution of hiring help in the kitchen, supervised by the LOH.
In due course, kids appeared on the scene, made life a delicious blur, and the years whirred past. Soon I had three militant feminists, who had allergic reactions to my feudal mores, running my life.
The fallout was that it was decreed that all of us would be self sufficient, and at least make our own breakfasts.
Gone were the days of stuffed parathas in the morning, with generous dollops of white butter, which transformed me from the svelte youth to the rotund old man. The dictum was that everyone had to prepare their own breakfast.
The obvious answer was cereal with milk and toast and fried eggs. This I concluded would be well within my limited capabilities. Pouring the cereal in the bowl and pouring the milk on top was done without a hitch. The toaster popped up the toasts unaided, and spreading the butter was the toughest task so far, but I managed it without mishap. The first few days, I stuck to bread and jam, buttered toasts, sandwiches made from sandwich spreads and cereals soaked in milk for breakfast.
Now I came to the real test. I was attempting eggs, sunny side up. I waited till I was alone at home. It looked so easy on screen. The pan is placed on the stove. A dollop of butter is plonked in, and starts sizzling and bubbling. Now with one smooth movement of the hand, the egg was to be cracked on the edge of the pan, and the egg neatly drops in and magically turns into a golden smiley face. It looked so easy, elegant and stylish. The hand holding the egg swooped in. Contact was made with the edge. So far everything was going as per script. But now deviations set in. The pan leapt off the stove, the hot butter splattered me, and the smashed egg was all over the floor.
While I soaked under the tap and danced about in pain, my faithful Labrador cleared up the floor of the mess, shells and all, even cleaning the pan.
Undaunted, I geared up for attempt number two. I tried a less flamboyant method now. Pan, butter all in place, I held the egg over the pan and tried to crack it with a knife, to let the stuff plonk into the pan. It looked really simple on screen. But no, here too, things did not run as per script. The egg smashed and fell in the pan, shells and all.
After faithful Labrador removed all tell tale evidence of crime once again, a third attempt was planned. Robert Bruce tried seven times before defeating England we have learnt, but I had only six tries, limited by number of eggs in the fridge.
This time egg was broken into a separate bowl. After fishing out as many of the shells as I could, the egg was successfully poured into the pan. But the result wasn’t the golden center ringed by a white beach as advertised, but a yellowish white amoeba, brown around the edges, with bits of shell hidden inside.
I have discovered that ordering a takeout is the best for anything more ambitious than bread and jam.

 

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My First Punju Wedding (as an invited guest)

My First Punju Wedding (as an invited guest)

My first Punju Wedding (as an invited guest)
Bollywood has brought the Punjabi wedding into everyone’s drawing rooms, and nowadays most weddings in India have become Punjabi in some degree at least. It is THE Big Fat Indian Wedding, and plenty of celebrities from all over the world come to India to get married Punjabi style.
Punjabis are a boisterous ebullient lot, and everything about them is larger than life; none more so than the greatest spectacle of their lives, the Big Fat Punjabi Wedding.
During our impecunious University days, I had attended many Punjabi weddings, including one of our Deans daughters’, but not with the knowledge and consent of the hosts. The technique involved was walking in just behind the Baratis, or grooms party, clad in borrowed blazers, looking happy and confident. Being sozzled helped, as you could totally blend in. To allay any suspicion whatsoever, you could enquire after Pappu, a ubiquitous Punjabi name, and there were enough people by that name to avoid mishap, everyone assuming you were another Pappu’s guest.
As fate dictated, I married a Punjaban myself, but this too was without the knowledge or consent of my in-laws or parents. Thus, though an impromptu bacchanal happened, there was nothing Punjabi about it. It did have one thing common with a BFPW though, in that there was nary a sober guest after the party, except the bride.
So, post marriage, the first wedding invitation I received from a BFPW, it being the nuptials of a cousin or something, I was excited. Coincidentally, the groom was called Pappu.
Let me explain how the wedding works. If a Sikh wedding, it will be in the daytime. The grooms party assemble somewhere close to the venue, and proceed in a boisterous procession to the brides place, the groom on horseback, a posse of cars following, and the guests performing a wild jig on the road, accompanied by drummers, a brass band, blaring music and roaring encouragements, all simultaneously, while being liberally plied with whisky, from a mobile bar at the back of a van.
On reaching the venue, there is a sort of dance off, a final exuberant battle, and then the exhausted guests troop in, to an incredible repast, washed down with more liquor. The bride and the by now almost comatose groom are whisked off to a neighbourhood Gurdwara for a brief religious ceremony, while the party continues unabated.
This is probably a throwback on ancient times when a raiding party assembled, did battle and defeated the enemy, read in laws, and carried away the bride. The groom does carry a sword still, but the presence of the ladies, who are by far the better dancers, and who down their liquor disguised in cokes and juices, distinguish the procession from a war party.
Anyway, we joined the procession, and though itching to join in, I kept walking sedately, grinning inanely at everyone, the strange alien son in-law.
Finally, someone staggered up and asked me, with gestures and winks,
“Sir, do you take it?”
“Of course!”I retorted, relieved.
He promptly appeared with the necessary pick me up, and soon I was sufficiently primed to join the revellers in leaping around to the beat.
“Then you take non veg too?” Not that there is any cause effect link between the two, as I know plenty of sudh sakahari tipplers, but this was not the time to quibble.
“I take nothing else”, I clarified
Fried chicken legs appeared by magic, and the party went on.
“We thought that you Madrassis are total veg, don’t enjoy anything at all, but you seem all right”
This was no time to explain that
a) I was not a Madrassi, but a Bengali.
b) Bengalis are hard core non vegetarians
c) There is no such thing as a Madrassi, there being four southern states plus Maharashtra south of the Vindiyas, and Orissa in the East
d) Most of these people are hard core non vegetarians
e) That most denizens of the Deep South will match a Punjabi peg for peg in liquor consumption.
f) Enjoyment has nothing to do with eating flesh or getting intoxicated.
But this was not the time or place for such philosophical discourse. I merely enjoyed the lavish hospitality and was relieved at being admitted as an acceptable in law to these spirited Punjabis.
The first meal offered to the guests is, believe it or not, breakfast. But it is a breakfast of… let’s say Punjabi proportions. There are pyramids of boiled eggs, plateaus of fried fish, and mountains of chicken legs….. I did not get a chance of looking at the groaning tables at the vegetarian counters.
Barely had the tables been cleared when lunch was announced.
Punjabi wedding feasts are always buffet, never sit down. Once dinner is announced, a mad rush ensues. Seeing so many suits gallop down to attack the dishes, one may assume that food is about to run out, or the guests have been starving for long. Actually, the food is abundant, and the guests well fed, having just gorged on breakfast. The secret probably is that they being a martial race, and the fighting spirit not finding sufficient outlet in these peaceable times, battling over the food gives vent to the native instinct. The same spirit is visible when a Punjabi is behind the wheels.
By now I had proved my credentials by being partial to booze and chicken and not averse to dancing; or actually leaping around to deafening drumming while emitting war cries. Having accepted me, my generous and exuberant hosts kept plying me with food and drink.
My plate looked like a battleground after a vicious carnage. I looked around for a place to ditch the debris. Seeing my dilemma, a fellow guest kindly showed me the correct method of disposal. The venue being a covered field, all one has to do is move to a corner, and hurl the carcasses over your shoulder, making space for more on your plate.
I dared not try to find out how to make space in my stomach, to match the appetites of my fellow guests.
Since then I have attended many such feasts, strongly reminiscent of the last panel in an Asterix comic book, including occasionally the cheerful brawls and the shut out Cacofonix, and blend in perfectly.
Oh! Not quite, I have yet to master the ancient art form only exhibited during such celebrations; the all male Naagin Dance. But more of that later.

 

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