Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Gentleman’s Life

It had been more than a month “Om Shanti Om” had been in the theatres. I don’t miss many movies, I must admit. But somehow, I have been jinxed with SRK movies. I am yet to sit and watch “Deewaana”, start to end, at one go. I have seen it in bits and parts, atleast 15 times! But people had given good reviews about OSO. Well, most words were for Deepika Padukone. Infact, I read a very correlative article in one of the top dailies on the Sunday editorial page about her, by a pretty senior writer! Well, that’s beside the point.

I strolled to my near by theatre where it was running. Being a Sunday and walking distance to me, I was but naturally not in my best attire. To be frank, I was close to my worst. But then what the heck, I thought. The ticket guy would not see anything other than my face, the security guard would be too busy moving his hands all over me as being a multiplex, there were too many people to body check and by the time I enter the hall, it would be dark. So, how does it matter what I wear? Even though I walked to the multiplex, I was early. I took my ticket and waited in the lounge. I started observing people. There were people of all kinds. Nothing striking in most of them, until my eyes stopped at a couple. If there was an on the spot Best Dressed Couple Competition in the multiplex, they would have won it pants down, or is it hands down? The best part being the couple would be in their late sixties, if not more. The lady in creamish colored saree with soft green border, matching shawl and an amazingly glowing face was looking stunning. She reminded me of my junior school headmistress. The gentleman in a three piece suit, matching tie and with both hands in his trouser pocket was standing like a fully loaded Knight. Looking at him I was reminded of my father. Actually, some of his words.

From Gregory Peck to “Dus Kahaniyaan”, my father has come a long way. And not just watching, but having positive opinions on these extremes. I have always loved the way my father dressed. I have never bought a tie in my life. The very few which I have are from his collection (or gifts to me). From being a man who would wear a tie even in the peak summers of June, monsoons of August and ofcourse the winters of December with a three piece suit, he has now reconciled to wearing them only on social events and outings. It sure helps that he manages to attend one social event atleast once a week, if not more.

Till some years back, I used to wonder why would retired people, now living a relaxed and an easy moving life, be attired in their best on most occasions, even on Sundays. One day I asked my father about this dressing mania people have. Those days he was still working and was wearing his suits and ties with natural zeal. He smiled and replied, “It’s not the attire, it’s the attitude. There are people who can buy the most costly suits and priciest of ties. Just ask for a handkerchief from a well dressed man. Eight out of ten will hesitate. They are either not carrying one or even if they are, it’s not worth sharing. Also, you can never judge a person by his attire, but for better perceptions, always look at shoes”. He had said, “Small things which you don’t keep notice of, are noticed by people who know the difference between a well dressed person and a well groomed man”. I make sure of these two things atleast, always.

According to me, OSO was a movie worth becoming a flop. Two things which probably saved it were small things, the two dimples dazzling on Deepika’s both cheeks. But that’s beside the point. On the way out, I saw the same man wiping his face with his handkerchief and I smiled to myself while sliding my hand into my jeans to reach for my kerchief. Then, I noticed his shoes. My worst was better than most bests around. Thank You, Baba for these small things in life.

Monday, December 10, 2007


I always possessed more than I ever needed. My parents had provided me with all that I asked and what they thought I should have. I had a fountain pen before I could write with a pencil, shoes before I could tie my laces and a muffler before winters arrived. Not to forget to mention they sent my elder sister and me to a residential school in Mussoorie. We had the best upbringing we could ever imagine.

While in school we could walk as far as we could, but had to return by the time the big iron bell stopped resonating, its echoes among the hills. We were not allowed into the girl’s school but knew everything that happened there, told to us by teachers themselves. We knew our house master had our money but we were afraid to ask for it, fully knowing it is our money. We were brought up in a very lenient yet disciplined, restrained yet open, casual yet constrained environment. We lived a very, very sheltered life up on the hills. And as is said about the people on hills, we really were a very straight thinking, simple hearted and content beings. One fine day, we graduated from school.

Or should I say we joined another school? Here, time was our teacher, struggle our best friend, dreams our play time and every situation a new subject to learn. Back in school, the Principal was never to be seen. Infact, he was not supposed to be seen, called or asked for. The mere mention of his name caused chaos. Children ran to their class rooms, teachers ran to their mess and the other staff converted to robots doing things in the best mechanical way possible. He was terror personified. The Principal visited school only in extreme cases, something celebrating or reproachful. God save us if it was the latter. Here in the new school too, we still had to get to see our new Principal. From the serene surroundings of the green mountains we were thrown into the big bad burly world. We had no clue who was running the show. Who was the Principal?

In the new school there was nothing in common with my old school. There was no leniency, no openness, nothing casual. Everything followed a regime, each move was restrained and every thought was constrained. Or was it? I thought to myself there must be something in common between these two schools of thought. As time passed by teaching, struggle helping out most times as a friend and circumstances bringing out new craters of wisdom, things got clearer and better.

I can clearly see the commonality between the two schools. Rather, should I say the glaring difference, the reason of existence of such schools? My old school always taught me to be grateful to others, appreciate a fellow being’s feelings, sympathize with emotions and respect all religions. My new school has taught me live for self, sympathy is for the weak and there is only one religion. We live, pray and die for just one thing.

Hence, I say, there are no atheists in this world. We all believe in God. Money is God.

**** End ****