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.

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