I was reading Bachi Karkaria’s article on ‘Les Folies de Marrakech’- the Islam-compatible cabaret minus the usual g-strings, low-waists et al. Think about it, a cabaret without flesh is like chocolate without sin. If you feel virtuous about it, you are taking away its essential allure. This applies even to inseperable pairs without an element of forbidden salaciousness. Imagine Sholay without Gabbar or Mourinho without the loose-talk. They just feel strangely incomplete.
I have enjoyed pulling people’s legs ever since the day I was born. Perhaps a harbinger of the onset of maturity, I have mellowed down considerably over the last two years. Nevertheless, over my long career, my casualties have all been of two knds: those who hide their displeasure at being teased and those who don’t. Three years ago, though, I met a person who fell into neither of the aforementioned categories. The guy had an ego the size of my toe-nail. I could have teased him for the rest of his life and he still wouldn’t have cared. Worse, the entire leg-pulling ritual seemed to provide him as much pleasure as it provided me. Ridiculing him was like, in many ways, the Islam-compatible cabaret – it just wasn’t fun anymore.
The eighteen years of my existence prior to my arrival in R-Land took me to 3 different cities and 5 different schools. More out of nostalgia than anything else, I make it a point to visit them whenever I get the time. Friends had Central Perk. HIMYM has McLaren’s. Seinfeld had Monk’s Café. R-Land has Alpahar and Nesci. And PSBB had AB. I don’t even remember what the A stood for any more, but one thing I do remember is that I loved the Bhel Puri there. It neither tasted nor looked like the eponymous Chaat dish we have all grown to love but in its own way, it was delicious. As the final year of my schooling dawned, I returned to PSBB (and to AB) one last time. The price of the Bhel Puri had increased by a buck since my last visit. The quantity seemed to have shrunk too. AB had also adopted a flashier new board in my year-long absence. One thing that hadn’t changed, thankfully, was the taste of the Bhel Puri, which was just as heavenly as it was a year ago. Mmmm…
While I made love to my Bhel Puri an over-sized fellow customer had his eyes fixed upon me. Worse, he was smiling at me. There was nothing to be done but return the smile. And yet, I didn’t. Two minutes later, a historic conversation began.
Unknown Fat Guy: "Hi. Do you study in PSBB?"
Me: "No, but I used to until a year ago."
UFG: "Oh, when did you pass out? (which, by the way, is a phrase that annoys me. ‘To pass out’, as far as I’m concerned, is to faint.)
Me: "Yesterday, when van Nistelrooy missed the penalty against Arsenal."
Me: "Never mind. Which class are you in?"
UFG: "I’ll be going to the 12th this year."
Me: "Oh nice. I was your batch-mate until a year ago."
UFG: "Wow, then do you know *some random name*?"
UFG: "You must be knowing *some other random name*?"
Me: "No, I don’t."
50 random names later, he still wouldn’t give up. Eventually, I decided the only way I could end this conversation was by humouring the bonehead. I went on to claim to know a dozen people I hadn’t even heard of. On that happy note, I thought the conversation would be wrapped up. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.
UFG: "You know so many people I know. I know so many people you know. Yet I don’t know you and you don’t know me. Isn’t that amazing?"
Me: "You know what else is amazing? That you’re still alive."
UFG: "Haha. You’re funny."
Me: "Haha. You’re not."
UFG: "Hahaha. Anyway, I’m waiting for a friend of mine. Wonder why he isn’t here yet."
Me: "I’m not surprised."
Me: "It’s just that you’re really Boring. With a capital B."
Me: "How is that funny?"
UFG: "My friends call me the Big B. You said I was Boring with a Big B. Pun, see?"
Me: (stunned silence)
I had given up by now. The only way this conversation could be concluded was by landing a tight slap right across his face, I decided. While I prepared for the inevitable, he went on, blissfully unaware of what lay in store for him…
UFG: "So where do you study now?"
Me: "DAV Boys’, Lloyds Road."
UFG: "Why did you join a boys’ school?"
Me: "I realized I was gay a couple of years ago."
UFG: "Err… umm… it’s getting late. I think I should leave. Bye."
Me: (to myself) "Wow, it's the third time that has worked."
…. and Dela lived happily ever after.