Thursday, March 8, 2012

Another day in the life of Narendra Shenoy

When a writer, even one who claims to be writing his autobiography, starts getting autobiographical, the wise person knows that he, the writer, is scraping the bottom of the idea barrel. And I, dear reader, am going to be doing that. Getting autobiographical, I mean. Narrating incidents from my personal life.

If you choose, shrewdly in my opinion, to light out of here to some more intelligent page (Shahid Kapoor's twitter feed, for instance), I will shed a tear but acknowledge that you have excellent choice. I am honest like that.

But if you, dear reader, displaying the spirit of recklessness and adventure that people who explore the Amazon basin, or watch episodes of Big Boss, showcase in large quantities, decide to stay on, there will be none more delighted than me.

Yes, you guessed right, if you guessed from the previous sentence, that I have been having a couple. It is a beautiful night. The moon is out. The silence is ethereal. The household has gone to sleep. And I have been through a harrowing evening out in Mumbai traffic.

We had gone to a random uncle's house. I have non-random uncles too, like everyone else, but to these non-random (or ordered, if you are into math) uncles, one does not go unless there is a specific reason such as a birth, marriage, illness, dinner invitation or something. Random uncles are uncles to whose houses one goes because one has not gone there for a long time.

The missus and the brats had gone there earlier in the evening. I landed up directly from work, using public transport. Some cud was chewed, banter exchanged, the telling of jokes stayed by the intermittent basilisk stare of the missus and the evening went well, even by the missus' exacting standards.

On the way back, I drove. And we got the full force of Bombay traffic. I'm not usually troubled by this. When I'm driving in Bombay, I just switch off my mind, as I would in, say, a lecture on management strategy or a movie starring Akshay Kumar and enjoy the mindlessness on view. But today it was extraordinarily bad.

I don't know if you've felt this way yourself, but sometimes I feel, when wending my way through the traffic, like a foetus emerging from a womb, with labor contractions pushing me in directions not chosen by me.

I expressed this thought.

"I've never heard anything so ridiculous, Naren! Foetus emerging from a womb, it seems!" said the missus "Keep the left lane. Watch out for the truck!"

"Annie," piped up elder son, "Gau says Sanjay Dutt's mother was an actress named Madhubala. Was she?"

"Yes, yes" I said absently while trying not to be the cause of a motorcyclist's death

"No, silly" said the missus "it was Nargis. Surely even YOU have seen Nargis' movies"

"Nargis?" Younger son was sceptical. "Are you sure, Amma?"

"Annie, quick riddle" said elder son "What's the singular of Madhubala?"

I did not answer, preoccupied as I was with avoiding an autorickshaw who, for reasons not clearly discernible, had decided to go in a vectorially perpendicular direction to the flow of the traffic

"Plural of Madhubala? Madhubalas?"

"No, no, singular of Madhubala. Ok, I'll tell you the answer. Madhubalum"

I wished I were an octopus. I could have continued driving and still clouted him one on the side of the head.

"Haha" said younger son, obviously seeing humour in that alleged joke "And you know what the singular of Nargis is?"

"Hahaha!" elder son seemed to know the answer. "Nargoose".

"Boys, " I spoke sharply "if you don't keep quiet, you will witness the spectacle of your dear father having a nervous breakdown. Please"

"Just joking, Annie!"

"Yes", added the missus, "you have just lost your sense of humor these days"

I would have responded with something suitably acerbic but right then an autorickshaw decided to slam his brakes for a passenger and I bumped into him.

He emerged from the auto in anger.

"Can't see or what? Eyes or potatoes?"

I was irritated. "You braked, you capital of England without the preposition"

"You should have seen, you inclined channel for conveying grain, water or coal to a lower level" said the auto driver

"Iconic clock tower of England plus the French word for warm, hot!" I exclaimed, unable to keep cool

"Let it go, let it go" advised other drivers. "Not much damage, no?"

Not much damage indeed! What about my self esteem!

But by then the traffic had started moving  and the auto guy disappeared.

"You are so careless, Naren! You never pay attention to the traffic" the missus rubbed salt into the wounds.

But it is all back to normal. I'm in my lair, with a decent whiskey. The other characters in this drama are snoring peacefully.

Though I'm feeling just a little bad about missing the opportunity of telling the auto guy the website address of Bose, Denmark.


Deepak Misra said...

What is you drinking ? Sounds like some potent stuff.

parthicle said...


Rajesh V said...

Do these wonderful hindi gaalis work in Bombay too? Isn't there something more local? I find auto drivers in Bangalore, Madras and Hyderabad a tad more creative in this department.

P.E. Coristi said...

I agree with your metaphor re: negotiating through traffic. I have never been to Mumbai but I live in Doha, Qatar and traffic here is...inexplicable.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha :-)


Snowden Peak said...

Very good sir, very good.

Saumya said...

You know the remedy for this sort of thing? Writing! Write more Naren. Write as much as you possibly can and fill the blog with your writings. Your Thoughts vs Whiskey vs Auto drivers.

Enjoyed it....

Nav said...

figured out all except the one the auto driver gave you.. ;)

The Soul of Alec Smart said...

Ahahaha! :D You're too funny. And I'm very proud I figured out all the.. umm.. words exchanged between you and the auto guy (with a bit of help!)

Write more.

narendra shenoy said...

Chute: (n) inclined channel for conveying grain, water or coal to a lower level

Chaud : French word for warm, hot

Scattered Thoughts... said...

wow.. I read few lines and realized why I was missing your writing so much :) whatever you are drinking, keep on with that.. some real creative genius is coming out..

autobiographical.. - hmm.. I am writing that from the day 1 so you make me think about it..

Bikerdude said...

Bwaahaha good one saar :)

Anonymous said...

Worth reading when you have a pretty bad day yourself....

Atanu Dey said...

You made my day, sir!! Excellent blog.

Scarlett O'Hara said...

Super awesome. I couldnt help ROFLing at the choice of words for the gaalis. That drink IS something! :)