Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year Eavesdropping....

I keep my ears on ‘high alert” when I go for a walk in the morning .so that I don’t miss out on the juicy gossip, profound philosophies and profane criticisms tossed around by groups of other walkers chatting with each other. I walk alone and with my brisk stride usually manage to outpace the talkie-walkers. As I go past these groups, I invariably snatch some interesting nuggets from their animated conversations. You could accuse me of eavesdropping, but I plead “not guilty” on the technical grounds that the property of sound waves and the Doppler effect make it impossible for me not to hear what’s being discussed. So, here then is a verbatim reproduction of what I heard today. Translated from Tamil, of course.

Man, in his mid-forties, with a scarf around his neck to protect himself from the harsh Chennai winter, discussing Zubin Mehta’s recent concert in Chennai before an invited audience (and peeved that he was not invited): “ I can’t understand why, of all people, Amartya Sen should be invited to this program. Can’t he attend the program in London, America or wherever he lives? Don’t tell me that he can’t afford it. He has got lakhs from the Nobel Prize. Must he come all the way to Chennai just because it is a free program and he got an invitation? I tell you, there must be a rule that invitations must be given only to local people. How else will we get to attend?

Scarfed man’s friend: In any case, what’s the big fuss? All Zubin Mehta does is wave his arms and flash a big stick, throughout the evening, when the orchestra is playing. I can swing my arms for you free of charge, at my house, if you bring a stick with you.

Slightly ahead, another man has latched on to a couple, but is now talking on the mobile phone to his wife: “ Yes, yes, the brinjals. Don’t cut them into smaller pieces. Take the full brinjals and put some masala stuffing in. Pack them in a separate box; don’t mix it with the rice. Use the Tupperware set “. Disconnects mobile phone.

Female half of couple: “What, sir, giving instructions for your packed lunch?”

Brinjal man: “Yes. Yes. I like these stuffed brinjals. What time do you people have lunch? I will have some stuffed brinjals sent over. My wife makes it really well. You will really like them”.

Male half of couple:
“ No, no, don’t trouble your wife. She won’t let you come out on your walk again”

Brinjal man: “ Nonsense. Why should she object? I was the one who went to the market last evening and selected the brinjals”

Further ahead, a group of four middle-aged men are walking at a leisurely pace, almost blocking the road. The topic of their discussion is Amitabh’s recent visit to Tirupathi.

Middle-aged man 1: “Reliance has arranged a special plane, saar, to bring Amitabh to Tirupati. Amar Singh accompanied him and ensured he got an exclusive darshan. All the papers have carried some photographs of the visit, as if there is no other news worth reporting..”

Middle-aged man 2: “ These newspapers will even carry a report of Amitabh sneezing. Did you see, one of the papers had a big photo of him on the day of his surgery and showed a cutout view of his stomach and the intestines? I ask you, what cutout would they have published if he had been operated on for prostate or piles, instead of the intestines? Can’t they respect his privacy?. Disgusting.

Middle-aged man 3: Now, he has been elected ‘Indian of the year’ by urban India. At least he is an Indian. What I can’t accept is Sonia Gandhi being elected the Indian of the year, by rural India. 1 billion Indians around and they had to find an Italian to be the Indian of the year. Our people have gone completely mad, I tell you.

Middle-aged man 4: Forget Sonia and Amitabh, sir. Tell me what are you planning to do on New Year eve? Going to some hotel to celebrate?

Middle-aged man 2: “ No way, sir. Last year, my son-in-law took us all out to a 5-star hotel. I tell you, these hotels simply loot us. As soon as we sat down at the table, a waiter in a black suit and tie came over and asked us if we wanted mineral water and I nodded my head. They charged us Rs 60 for one bottle, sir. Can you believe it? Plus taxes. If they tried this trick with the chicken tikka or some such dish, we won’t know the real cost. But, mineral water? I could have picked up the bottle from the paan shop across the road for Rs 10.

Middle-aged man 1: Why, at Saravana Stores, you can get it for Rs 9/- a bottle.

Middle-aged man 2: When I go to a star hotel, the least I expect is to be served clean water free of cost. These blighters charge us ten times the normal rate for a basic item and push it down our throats. Never will I step into that place again. This New Year, I stay at home.

Finally, a couple in their sixties, their children obviously settled in the USA (evident from the man’s T-shirt and sneakers) are taking a stroll with their dog.

Wife: Sowmya says that they are not going anywhere this week. They have lots of things to do at home. She is going to varnish the house…………

Husband: I hope she knows that she can’t varnish the walls. Only the wooden doors and almirahs...

Wife: As if she won’t know that. You always have to say something critical.

Husband: Tell me, when has she done any work here? She wouldn’t even put the cap back on her pen….

Wife: In America, one automatically learns to do everything. You can’t depend on anybody else. She is managing quite well on her own. Ashwin is traveling most of the time…

Husband: I hope he doesn’t come back from tour and sees all the walls varnished…….

And so, yet another day unfolds…….


Shruthi said...

Very funny! And I am sure you slowed down or sped up to keep close to the interesting conversations :)

Pareshaan said...

Varnished Walls - Hahahaha - Wish you a Happy New Year Sir.

A Motley Tunic said...

Wanted to say the samething shruti said. hey u changed your template! I liked the previous one better.:-) Happy New year to you!

Raj said...

Shruti : naturally ! can't afford to miss out on the entertainment

Pareshaan : varnished walls, vanished husband !

Sowmya : I am reverting to my old template with immediate effect.

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