Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Extracts from Mediocre But Arrogant from the NDTV Site

It was a cold November morning in 1981. Delhi University was just coming to life as U-Specials were doing their rounds dumping sleepy students in front of the College gates. Most of them, like me, got off the bus and headed straight for the canteen, except of course for the Scephanians. They didn't have a plebian canteen, they called theirs a Cafe.I am not a morning person. I find it tough to get my engines started in the morning. When the alarm rang, I would break out in cold sweat thinking I had become blind overnight until would I realize that I had not yet opened my eyes! It was the same every morning — stress, relief and then disgust- Stress at having to get out of bed, relief that I was not blind and disgust at the thought of going to college. I was not what one may call a motivated student. Rather, a lawyer representing me would say that I WAS indeed motivated to go to college but not the classroom.My favourite hangout was the SRCC canteen. I would sit there every morning, filling a pristine sheet of paper with doodles and random lines of verse, drink cups of tea and smoke. Sometimes guys would join me for an adda session. Adda is not mere gossip, it is far more dignified than that. It's a debate on the larger issues of life, about which no one can do a thing, like world hunger and poverty or SatyaJlt Ray's influence on World Cinema vis-a-vis Mrinal Sen's ... Or the one that always evoked sharply divided opinions ~ Are women settling for less when they abandon their professional careers to raise children? Any issue to which an answer could be found was taboo. So mercifully, one's plans for the future were never discussed. Not that having a discussion would have helped since most of us were unclear about anything beyond that evening's dinner plan.Sometimes I just liked the solitude of being alone, listening to songs on Vividh Bharati and savouring the taste of coffee, watching the people as they flitted "in and out ... letting the mind wander … That morning was no different.
I put my feet up on the table and ordered a cup of coffee and lit a cigarette. Life was unhurried and predictable. Why would one not want it to continue? My eyes fell on the calendar on the opposite wall. It was 16 November.Aw heck! It was my birthday. But no one seemed to have remembered it. Not even at home where they were all sleeping or oblivious or all of the above. I began to feel very sorry for myself. The words of the Hank Locklin song, And I sang happy birthday to me echoed in my ears as my fingers scribbled the lyrics on the paper napkin in front of me. The morning took on a distinctly blue hue. And as I had always maintained, the radio did all it could to deepen the gloom. Talat Mehmood wailed Jayen to jayen kahan. Suddenly life seemed so meaningless. When they stopped to announce the news, which was another round of undiluted morbidity in the world, I thought that fifteen more minutes of this melodrama and I would become completely suicidal. I stood up, and decided to go to class for a change."Happy birthday Abbey!"Before I knew what hit me, Priya had thrown her arms around me and planted a kiss on my cheek. I was stricken. What WAS this stupid girl doing? Did she even care about my image in college? If anyone saw me being kissed by Priya (of all people), it would be curtains for me. But it was my birthday and she was the only lunatic who cared to remember. I couldn't possibly be rude to her today'.I grinned foolishly and hesitatingly took the gift she held out. Tearing the wrapping paper in my Impatience, I mumbled, "Thanks Peeps, real cool of you ... thanks..." Inside the box were a carton of Benson & Hedges cigarettes and a bottle of Brut aftershave.Priya was gushing, "This combination of tobacco and Brut is so sexy. I love It. Come on, let's go to Moets for Fried Noodles. 1 want to spend time with you and be a part of this very special day in your life."


Riya said...

Abhijit, out of all the boring days you spent and all those long discussions you had with your Adda friends,Priya was the only one to remember your birthday. Atleast give some credit to her.And yes Belated Happy Birthday.:)

Abhijit Bhaduri said...

Thanks for the belated birthday wishes.
What you said is so true.

sahil said...

this NDTV snippet was the first sign of a hope. a hope of somethings good in-store. i remember i cald up my frend and asked him if he had heard of this book. he declined and went to the bookstore that evening, with a hope. and just like a guy who lays his hand on his girl's thigh and can't take it off, i too laid my hands on mediocre but arrogant and couldnt rest b4 i finished it. not to mention, the read was orgasmic!
So my sincere thanks to NDTV for its snippet...