Wednesday, November 27, 2013

CID's Jublee Special

"CID" is "Crime Investigation Department". It was a popular term in India which kind of loosely translated to "James Bond" and stuff. I do not even know if such a department actually, ever existed in the Police Forces. It was probably a creation of movie scriptwriters. There have been some popular films in the 60's and 70's which were amalgamated take offs on the Bond movies and British pulp fiction like The Saint etc., The detective hero usually belonged to the "C.I.D.". That's probably where the term came from. The detectives - the CID's - always wore Ray Ban kind of dark glasses and a hat. Over the years, the term has slowly almost completely faded from the public vocabulary.

Contemporary Indian Matchboxes - 4 (Double Tiger, Double Lion and Sridevi)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Yesss! I finally met Magnus Carlsen today!!

It was more or less the same drill as with Kasparov.

The difference was that Magnus is in his early twenties and seems to be missing and trying to also relive his teens, while being a polite, genius, world champion. So much of a "lost boy" in that guy at the moment I saw him.

And the kind of relaxed, laid back, polite protection that he is getting from his family and his team is a lesson that every Indian parent must learn.

My thoughts about this genius:

I have a strong feeling that he will go the Fischer way; that is, he will just lose interest in the game because there is no one in this Universe to challenge him. During his productive, playing, lifetime.

If that withdrawal ever happened, it will be a sad day for this world. Not just the chess world.

But, entirely comprehensible, if only the media would let the world sit back and empathize with the loneliness that would drive that decision.

If only the world took some time off to understand the enormous loneliness of a genius.

I felt that loneliness today as a fleeting waft, through that protective, loving, graceful cocoon of his team.

Here is a piece of paper with Kasparov's and Carlsen's autographs. I am kicked.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Contemporary Indian Match Boxes - 02

Contemporary Indian Match Boxes - 01

Another faded God

Oh well. The less said about this faded God's performance, the better. But the Manganiyars and Vidya Shah brought incessant tears to my eyes.

I was seated in the first row for this one, thanks to Kausalya.

Monday, November 18, 2013

ONE week, TWO encounters, THREE faded Gods - Part 2

The SECOND encounter was totally institutional and formalized, as in a balcony ticket - 200 Rupees - at the Music Academy to watch, to listen to, to experience the first day of the November Fest 2013.

Birju Maharaj and Hariprasad Chaurasia were the marquee names. I have seen and heard these two legends at the height of their prowess. I particularly, vaguely remember Chaurasia performing in Delhi during either the Asian Games or the CHOGM (82 or 83). The Maharaj, i have seen perform several times in Chennai.

This show was a microcosmic replay of the Sachin Tendulkar farewell farce. 

Only that these two faded Gods play in the shadows and the nooks and the corners of the media driven money trail. Such is the pathetic price of a faded God.

They performed for what their names were still apparently worth. They should have retired many years ago. Again, and again, and again, The Price that one pays the Devil (Pawar, for example) for holding on, and holding on, is always too high....

The Price is Prostitution.

The redeeming factor of the evening was the "young" woman seated in the middle of this farcical battle of the faded Gods - Kaushiki Chakrabarty. She held her head just above these turbulent, turbid waters that sought so badly to outflow each other and drown her. She was the one single joy of the evening.

What a curse it is to be a faded God.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tiger V

Oh well. I'm listening to the Sultans Of Swing and and remembering an old friend. Tiger The Fifth. 

The three images above are the essence - other than my parents - of what defined me, as I moved from childhood into Reality.

The house was 141, Coral Merchant Street. It was pulled down recently, about 2 years ago. I lived the first 30 years of my life there.

I have no memories of when or how the dogs came and went, or why they went away (died). But, we always had a dog at home.

The longest, most magnificent, weirdest friend I had was Tiger The Fifth.

He was, as you can see from these serendipitous images, a short, frisky bastard. My mom tells me he has bitten 13 people at various times in his life. Of those, the only ones I vaguely remember are the 2 times that he bit me.

What is amazing, in retrospect, is that I did not even think of those bites as something to be angry about. It was as normal as my father scolding  me.

But what a dog this was!

Those 3 images are there for a reason. I have a story - one that you will never believe - about this dog.

You see that house?

You see the parapet wall right on top? The 1 foot, or less, ledge of the wall on the terrace? Check the first photo for an is the terrace of the house that you see in the third image.

Well, this bugger used to pirouette on that ledge, walk on that ledge, sit on that ledge, bark at people on the street below from that ledge, on the edge that looked down on the street, LIKE HE WAS THE EMPEROR OF HIS UNIVERSE!

I kid you not. I have spent hours playing with him while he strutted about on that ledge, looking down on that street.

A Thirty Foot (or perhaps more) fall if he ever missed a step!

And he did miss his step. Twice! in his life...and he survived both times! I swear and I kid you not.

The first time he fell bang into a round, concrete garbage bin (anybody remember those?) that used to be just outside our house. That time around, the bin was full of well, garbage, and a neighbor just rang our doorbell and we let him in and that was that. He acted as if nothing had happened.

The second time he fell, our Cook was  alerted by another neighbor and she brought him in and that time around he just hunkered down for a week or so and he was again back to his frisky, irritable self. Again,  as if nothing the fuck had happened!

Look at that picture of the house again and imagine this crazy diamond falling into the street from that height....! Twice. Survived. Pass!


When my parents had to vacate the house after my mom retired, it took them TWO MONTHS to move our stuff across the Royapuram bridge into their new home. Tiger stayed in that old, tremendous house all alone (again, I shit you not) all the time, with our immortal Cook visiting him and giving him his food once a day, in the evenings.

When, as a Catering College student, I started seriously smoking kaya, this cosmic champion dog used to love me blowing the ganja in his face. He used to trip with me.

This magnificent creature used to fight with the stray, street dogs as if he owned the neighborhood.

I think a large part of what I am today is also what He was. I swear that till today, his spirit lives deep inside, and also very close to the surface in me.

Friday, November 15, 2013

ONE week, TWO encounters, THREE faded Gods - Part 1

This has been a fun week, all told.

The Chennai weather has cooled off, while the action is heating up.

The earlier part of the week was set on fire, for me atleast, by the arrival of Gary Kasparov.

I thank the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for having muscled the World Championship Match in into this squalid, sprawling slum that goes by the name of Chennai. Oh well. But in its wake, the Championship Bout brought the greatest Chess personality, leaving Fischer aside for the moment, into town. Gary Kasparov!

I decided that I must encounter, personally, this God that had been forced by circumstances to vist the Slum that I live in.

The pricks and prickettes  - "employees of the hotel" - were true to their original color and acted very hoity-toity when I humbly enquired about Mr. Kasparov. I silently said "fuck you" to them and parked myself at the bar.

I am a good man. My luck and my instinct are usually par for the course when I actually decide to do something.

Into my 2nd pint of Kingfisher, guess who darts by outside, from the Foccacia restaurant? Mah maan!

I dart, in turn, outside. But he has disappeared.


Boom, I turn around and there He is, darting back. He had just darted into the loo and was darting back.

He is confused for an instant about where the restaurant entrance is. I call out, "Gary!". He is sullen, irritated, arrogant. A superstar, yes, but not of the Rock Music ilk. He is Kasparov, after all.

He pauses, turns towards me, very aggressive. I sidle up and say, "Hi, my name is Murali." He says "So??" with such arrogance and irritation and impatience that even I am humbled.

I say, "I'm a great fan of your's" ....the arrogance glows brighter but with a tinge of foggy understanding....I gather up my courage and say, "Can I have your autograph?"...."Yeah, yeah! But let me finish my dinner first!!!", he snarls and darts back in to the restaurant.

I return to my beers.

About 40 minutes and 2 anxious cigarettes later, I see him exiting the restaurant. His beautiful wife is trailing him by about 3 feet. That nervous energy, I tell you!

I run outside with the borrowed pen and the apology for an autograph book/thingy - the Times Of India cover story on his visit....I half shout, "Gary!"....he stops mid-step and twirls around..."Autograph! You promised!", I say...

His face relaxes. He actually mutters, "Of course!"...I profer the paper and the pen....I make eyes at his lady and say "You are in this picture, too!" ...She stays aloof...never closer than 3 feet.

He scowls at the pen but takes a moment to scan the picture and the headings....and then signs.

As he hands it back to me, I shake his hand. A cold, Faded God-like handshake.

By then there are 30 people around us. All clamouring for a brief encounter with a God.

I left them and went back to my beer. Happy.