A friend of mine is visiting the city after a whole year of travelling around the world on work assignments. It is too sunny outside, so we will hit the beach later. For now, we are at a café, catching up on each other’s lives over some Ferrero Rocher milkshake. But given our shared love of eavesdropping, we have paused our own conversation to listen better to the one at the table behind us.
“How am I supposed to know? It happened so long ago. I had not even been conceived back then. I mean, what does my grandfather have to do this job?”
“And, in any case, they shouldn’t be asking you personal stuff at a job interview.”
“I don’t know, man. Personal is okay, I guess. I’m just happy they didn’t ask whether I shave my pubes or not, or who I am sleeping with, or why I like to go commando on weekends.”
“Crazy, you are! Who asks that kind of stuff?”
“God alone knows! Some bosses think they can ask you anything, and you are supposed to tell.”
In Mumbai, entertainment is never in short supply. You just have to walk out the door, and something funny is dying to greet you. The other day, I was walking on the pavement, trying to remember the lyrics to a song. And suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by the sight of a T-shirt on a man who walked past. ‘Big Boys Play At Night’, it announced in big blue letters. The back of the T-shirt said, ‘Don’t Hate Me For Being Cool’. Okay then!
“You should never say that you do not drink. Say that you are high on life. Stylish lagta hai! I always do this, and everyone gets charmed, “ says one wife to another wife. I would tell you their names if I knew them. This is one of those gatherings where women are introduced not by the work they do, but as ‘better halves’ to the men they have married. So much better that their job description, regardless of what they do, is ‘wife’.
Have you seen that look of horror on the faces of people who don’t follow Bollywood? I, frankly, love it. A few evenings ago, I was out for dinner with such a bunch. We had met each other at a lively discussion on graphic novels, and some were continuing to talk about the same even after the drinks had arrived. Three of us had somehow drifted off to discussing Ranveer Singh’s moustache. It was a busy time at the restaurant, and our orders would take a while. We began to amuse ourselves by throwing random quiz questions at each other. “What was Shahid Kapur’s name in ‘Jab We Met’?” “In which movie does Rahul Roy turn into a tiger every full moon night?” “What book was Kajol reading on the Euro Rail the first time Shah Rukh flirted with her in DDLJ?” “How many Anu Malik songs are based on original tunes?” “Who was Mamta Kulkarni’s boyfriend in ‘Karan Arjun’?” “What was the last film Uday Chopra acted in?” No, I won’t judge you if you don’t know the answers. Well, I know only two anyway.
Beena Sarwar depicted the two countries as two urinating men competing over who can aim farthest
I had never imagined that I would laugh during a talk on nuclear weapons, until I went to Pervez Hoodbhoy’s talk in Mumbai. Though he is a nuclear physicist, he is fiercely critical of the nuclear arms race in South Asia. “I once met this general who was in love with nuclear weapons. There would be a sparkle in his eyes when he would talk about them. When he heard that I was a nuclear physicist, he hugged me and said that nuclear weapons would bring complete peace. Knowing how dangerous they are, nobody would use them. The threat of war would ensure peace.”
I could not help remembering a cartoon journalist Beena Sarwar had drawn a few years ago – two countries depicted as two urinating men competing to determine who can aim the farthest. Come to think of it, the world seems to run pretty much like a high school locker room, doesn’t it?
Chintan Girish Modi is a Mumbai-based writer. That he shares his last name with a Prime Minister is purely a matter of coincidence. He tweets at @chintan_connect