The other day I was walking down Marine Drive with a dear friend. We will call him Pastrami, a very fictional name. This is because he wishes to keep his identity secret. Also the author has always wanted to have a mysterious friend of uknown identity he can attribute politically incorrect, gender insensitive and racially biased statements to. (The author can then swoop in with great bombast and morality and slap him about. The women love it.)
"So how is your book coming along?" asked Pastrami before biting into a tender coconut ice-cream cone with great relish.
"Pretty good actually. Another five chapters or so. If things go well and there are no unexpected twists or plot paradigm shifts... another two weeks more of work. At the most."
"And then? Back to consulting?"
"Nope. Maybe media. Some newspaper. Dunno..."
"Very nice indeed. And the blog is still doing well? Your wedding thing seems to have been received warmly."
"Yes. I have a hit a decent vein of prose I would like to think."
"Pity you are so irresponsible with your writing though. Why write of weddings and fish curry and such when there are so many burning issues out there which beg to be talked about and analyzed?"
This was a surprise. Now I have always disliked this critical streak in Pastrami. But he worked for an investment bank, has oodles of disposable income and was single. One does not argue with or piss off friends like that. I retorted, "Which burning issues do you think I should cover? Not that I handle issues with great gravity. There are many other vastly more knowledgeable bloggers out there who do it." Great Bong sprang to mind immediately. (Will that then be a Great Boing??!! Ha Ha I jest!!)
"Hmm. For example don't you think Ganguly was a better captain and Dravid is merely fortunate? You know with the Dhoni phenomenon and all."
"I have no idea really. I guess as long as India wins I really don't have a problem who the captain is."
He almost choked on his tender coconut. (Wonderful line when you re-read it no?)
"Good god. You are a disgrace to the country. Everyone has an opinion on this you know. Make sure you don't speak to a bong about this. That Dravid is a lucky buffoon if you ask me. God!" Pastrami made soft crunching sounds as he bit into his cone.
"I will let that pass. Well I am sure you have something to say about this democracy in Nepal thing. Terrible if you ask me. I am sure you could have written about that."
"Honestly speaking..." I ventured, trying to avert my eyes from a couple who seemed quite keen to get on with this propagating of species business, "I really don't know much about it. I guess you shouldn't keep a king around if you want to avoid that sort of trouble. May be they should impeach him or something... right away."
"What nonchalance! I pity your morals! Your sense of social responsibility... Pshaw! I am so happy their crusade for freedom has succeeded. But what do you know of that. All you know is fish curry and chicken fry and despo southie men. Hmph!" Pastrami was now no longer looking at me in the eye when he spoke. This meant he was more than a little irritated. But we had already dined and desserted and, as a consequence, I was not too alarmed. He grunted on "Besides you do not impeach kings. You abdijucate them." I concurrated immediately.
We walked on quietly. The sun was well on its trajectory of diminshing luminiscence into the horizon, soon it would drench the sea in a dark expanse not unlike that when a xerox machine breaks down and covers an entire sheet with toner.
"Chalo theek hai" he said in his quaint anglicized way. "But I am sure you must be all incensed about this wanton demolition of property in Delhi. The government is ruthlessly flattening land leaving thousands homeless and businesses shattered. Hideous I say! Something you must, absolutely must, have a perspective on." He looked at me through slit eyes that seemed to bore through me with imminent rage.
"They are? Must be quiet inconvenient no? But why oh why must one build in such controversial locations. Justice delayed, I fear, is still justice. Not my cup of tea to stir up I am afraid."
This was just too much for Pastrami. He could not stand any more of this. His face slowly turned into a deep crimson, a stark contrast against the peacock blue short tight shirt he was wearing for our night out. Even at this late hour, with the faux radiance of a thousand electric lamps casting cavorting couples into complex writhing sillhouettes, his shirt gleamed with an unearthly glow.
"That is it FatCat. Enough is enough. No wonder you find only impact craters and useless old cricketers to write about. You have no perspective. I find this lack of vision pathetic. I will leave before you tell me you have nothing to say about this Iran nuclear issue and this incessant US bullying."
I looked at him with genuine puzzlement. "There is an Iranian nuclear problem? Well I hope nothing untoward will happen."
Pastrami turned around without a word and crossed the road, a bobbing lantern of electric crackle as his shirt reflected the street lights. I ran and caught up with him. We did not talk anything for a while.
"That is a terrible shirt you know. It reflects light like mad. Why did you buy it Pastrami?"
"Don't be an idiot. It is a brilliant shirt. It is all the rage now in the party scene. Everyone has one." He held his elbows away from his body to show me the shirt in all its luminiscent glory. Was that a dragon I spied printed under his armpit?
"I don't know man. I find all this party people too pretentious. More show than substance. Very shallow if you ask me."
Pastrami was now a livid red. "How proletariat! You cannot merely pass judgement on people like that. Some of the nicest people come to these parties. Last night at Insomnia there was that wonderful actress..." He muttered the name of she who is known for her acting talent and bosom, one of which is as vast as the other was pooh-pooh-able.
"God you partied with that woman? I believe she is much dumber than she actually looks..."
He stopped in his tracks, whipped around and looked at me in my eyes.
"You know what is the problem with you blogger types? You guys are so opinionated. Why dont you just shut up about stuff you don't know about. Uff!"
With that he got into a cab and sped away.