After a long and unwelcome hiatus Pastrami suddenly burst back into my life yesterday. He had just returned from a trip to Jaipur recently. (Brother of Pastrami is getting married soon and Pastrami needs to keep popping up to Rajasthan once in a while to hang around the house looking delicate and sensitive with Blackberry in hand while the natives do all the hard work. "It is only what an elder brother should do..." Pastrami says.)But this recent trip had been very traumatic for him. He called to narrate a most unpleasant occurrence at his home, amidst his latest trip, that had him all shook up. I immediately suggested we pop over to the buffet dinner at the President and discuss it over smoked salmon. He agreed. This thought came to me: Kaching!
Pastrami, for all the investment banking bluster and bravado, ("What do you mean you don't have this Nike in my size? I will withdraw my Debt-convertible-to-Equity investment in your sorry ass retailing company right now mofo!") is really a softy. Small things can shake him up badly and this story had his feathers ruffled much.
Sidin: "So what happened dawg?"
Pastrami: "So I am at home see. And they're discussing the whole lunch buffet thingie..."
Sidin: "Day three?" (These extravagant North Indian weddings I tell you...)
Pastrami: "Day four. Daal bhatti churma and all that."
Sidin: "Ah. Ok."
Pastrami: "Now you know how it is with the kids back home and all their general questions about life and education and such like..."
Sidin: "Yes. You are supposed to be the resident genius yes?"
Context Update: Pastrami, the fabulously overpaid IIM A graduate, is without doubt the brains of the family. If anyone has any doubts with regards to any facet of life they immediately turn to the vast intellect of the Pastrami. This is particularly true of the little children who are encouraged to interact with Uncle Pastrami so that they too may grow up into outstanding pillars of society with a CA and MBA. In a lesser man this may have caused anxiety and pressure. But Pastrami takes this in his Bally-shod stride.
Until today apparently.
S: "So what happened?"
P: "This little fellow, one of my cousin sister's children, runs up to me and demands to be spoken to. So I set aside my Blackberry and sat down for a chat with him..."
What followed was most mirthful:
Pesky Kid: "So Uncle Pastrami you know Harry Potter no?"
P: "Yes of course. I like Potter very much. Also the movies. Have you noticed how that Hermione Granger, of late, is turning into one... err... mature, educated individual?"
PK: "I like her also. But yesterday I saw on TV that JK Rowling has said that Aldus Dumbledor is actually gay..."
P: "Ahem... cough... cough... yes..."
PK: "What does gay mean?"
PK: "Gay. Rowling said that Dumbledore is gay. I want to know what is gay. What is gay?"
By now our Pastrami is getting a little concerned. The word "gay" is not bandied about with such (hehe) gay abandon in the normal Rajasthani household. They frown upon such things and beyond a point can get all worked up till, when they can handle it no more, they go stand in a pool of stagnant water, blindfold themselves and try to dislodge trinkets from the feet of doves only by throwing sharp daggers...
Oops. Right location. Wrong story.
But back to the original story. Pastrami is heating up under the collar and the pesky kid is turning into a pain in his Rajasthan if you know what I mean.
PK: "WHAT IS GAY? WHAT IS GAY? WHAT IS GAY? WHAT IS GAY?"
P: "OK OK OK OK. I will tell you..."
PK: "Thanks uncle..."
Pastrami called the kid aside and began at the very top. A complete and explicit description of what love was, how a man and woman come together and how children, the fruits of a consummated marriage, were conceived and born.
PK: "That's awesome uncle. So you are saying that right after marriage my father and mother decided they must have a child..."
PK: "And then downloaded me from the internet..."
P: "Ahem... exactly..."
PK: "But mom told me that it was a very painful and long nine months before I was born..."
P: "Yes. Well... err... ahem... aha... see the internet was very slow in those days... you know how long it takes to download just one video file... That Paris Hilton thing for instance..."
PK: "... anyways... so now tell me what is gay..."
P: "See gay is when a man likes another man... or when a woman likes another woman. And not just like but also love."
PK: "Like mom and papa like you said?"
P: "Correct. So they hug and kiss and all..."
PK: "So wait... all those girls in Chak De India... they also hug and kiss after goals and everything no? Are they also all gay and loving each other in their hostel rooms and all?"
At this moment Pastrami paused to let that entire picture form in his mind and play itself out over several minutes. In great vivid detail. Especially Preeti Sabarwal. And that goalkeeper.
Pause for reader introspection.
PK: "Or all those boys in Rang De Basanti..."
And that image came crashing down in Pastrami's mind.
P: "No no. That is just close friendship."
PK: "Oh..." Puzzled...
P: "Gay people like each other a lot. They want to live with other people of the same sex. Boy with boy. And girl with girl. But this is not liked by everyone. They say it is a bad thing and not how people should be. Most people think that men should love only women and women should love only men."
PK: "Oh! So THAT is why everyone is upset that Dumbledore is gay... Everyone thinks it is not... correct..."
So far so good. Besides the obvious discomfort Pastrami had actually managed to endure that trial in great form.
Sidin: "Not bad at all Pastrami. I think you handled it well. Sure you gave that kid a skewed view of sexuality, he will say something stupid in school, other kids will make fun of him, his childhood will be scarred. He may even become an outcast. No one will mix with him or be his friend. But then he is going to be a CA anyways..."
S: "So why are you so worked up dude..."
P: "Well remember last week you send me an SMS asking me if you could pick up a DVD from my library in Bandra?"
S: "Yes. Thanks a ton for that man..."
P: "Remember that you send me an SMS back after I said ok?"
S: "Yes..." I gently waved at the waiter for the bill. My spider sense began to tingle...
P: "Pesky kid picked up the Blackberry while I was away tasting the Tawa Mushroom..."
S: "Oh heck..."
The waiter placed the bill before me. I pushed it across the table.
P: "Why did you have to send me that man..."
S: "Well I meant ‘I Love You Pastrami' in a platonic sense man. But you have my photo on the Blackberry don't you? And photo caller id?"
Pesky kid, filled with emotion, picked up the berry and ran into the living room where assorted elders had communed to taste the rehearsal lunch.
"Uncle Pastrami is gay, Uncle Pastrami is gay, Uncle pastrami us gay, he loves a man, he loves man, he loves a man..."
We both got up and walked slowly towards the coffee shop door. I put my hand around Pastrami's shoulder in a comforting fashion.
He mumbled under his breath: "Don't do that man. Not now."
I nodded as we both walked out with a respectable distance between us.