Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Paging Mr.Gandhi- Short Story

Jignesh Gandhi walked out of a New Jersey theatre screening Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Maara on a chilly October evening. It was the premiere show and Jignesh a self respecting bollywood junkie decided that he had to catch Anumpan Kher in his new incarnation despite having an early morning flight tomorrow. He didn’t know what to make of the movie after he got out of the theatre. He couldn’t term the movie good or bad. It was strange he always had something to say about any movie that he sees. There has never ever been a movie that has escaped his scathing criticisms or rave reviews. But, this one did. Anupam did a fantastic job and so did the other actors but Jignesh couldn’t relate to the movie at all. Jignesh's mother was an Irish American and his father was a Gujarati who immigrated to the US when he was a toddler himself. So, being born and brought up in America didn’t make things easier for him either, he didn’t know much about Gandhi or the values he imparted. So he couldn’t comment much about the movie’s take on the fading public memory of Gandhi and dying Gandhian virtues. Well he didn’t know a lot about a lot of other things that can be called Indian. But the Johars, Barajatyas and Chopras have done more than their share of work in taking care of most of these issues (ranging from Karva Chauth to the great Indian wedding). Apart from the famous Hollywood movie released decades ago and a few articles on TIME commemorating Gandhi, Jignesh’s access to Gandhi or anything remotely Gandhian was limited.

Jignesh was tossing and turning in his bed and was thinking about Gandhi’s importance and relevance in today’s world. Even though the movie was flawlessly executed, the message it tried to convey didn’t make any sense? Does it make sense to follow Gandhi's “hate the sin and love the sinner” philosophy in this day and age. It is illogical to dwell on Gandhian values and extol his principles in a rapidly changing world where victory is what matters and not the means. The winner gets all the attention, and not the person who gets the fair play award. Jignesh didn’t sleep very well but he managed to wake up in time for his early morning flight. The cab came on time. The driver was a middle aged Ethiopian, who loved to talk. Jignesh obliged, it was a 40 minute drive and staring blankly at the trees wasn't fun. The driver talked about rising gas prices, rising college fees and mounting credit card bills. Jignesh thought that it was probably the routine 40 minute speech that the driver usually gave to coax customers to pay a higher tip. And, Jignesh has never been an easy prey for these 'tug at the heart strings'tacticians.

Jignesh arrived at the airport an hour in advance. He gave the driver his customary 8 percent tip and in the process of calculating 8% of $78.5, he forgot his travel pouch which had his travel documents and 1200 dollars in traveler’s checks. He didn’t realize it until he went to the check in counter. He immediately called the cab company and asked them to notify the driver and the cab company gently reminded him that they were not liable in case they were not able to track the cab driver. Jignesh doubted that he would ever get his pouch back, the Ethiopian driver’s narration of his chapter 11 predicament was still fresh in his memory. Jignesh cursed his luck and decided that he will never ever take a cab driven by blacks; each and every one of THEM meant trouble. He heard his name being announced on the PA system just when he was contemplating on going to the police.

“PAGING Mr. Gandhi, PLEASE COME TO THE HELP DESK LOCATED IN THE CONCOURSE C LOBBY”

Jignesh didn’t know what to expect, he hurriedly walked towards the help desk. He found the driver waiting for him with his black leather pouch. Jignesh thanked the driver profusely and tried to compensate his hasty appraisal of the driver’s integrity by taking out a 100 dollar bill from his pocket. The driver pointed to the name Gandhi on the pouch and remarked, “He has done a lot for us and it wouldn’t be right if I took money from you. Have a nice flight sir!”

7 Comments:

Blogger karthik durvasula said...

i liked it. simple but nice.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Partha said...

yen da ippudi nakkare...???

12:17 AM  
Blogger majanx said...

Pretty nice story. Reminds of one of those Jeffrey Archer short stories (dont bloat your ego)

3:18 AM  
Blogger pagala'k' said...

@ Karthik- Thank you.
@ Partha- Sanjay leela bhansali nakkara alavukku nakkala...irundhalum konjam over dhaan othukaraen
@ Mayank- Mayank, as I have mentioned before you are the only guy who leaves the most sensible of comments in my blog....:D.

4:10 AM  
Blogger PS said...

What about my proposition? I can accept 60% and 10% will do for JAKS...he is not very experienced.

Proof reading is a tough job... there will be no writers without proofreaders, considering which I think my offer is fair enough :D

5:13 AM  
Blogger vetty said...

Kumar. Superbly told. But sadly, i do not see it happening !!

Just wondering if you are ready to take it to the next step.
Ignore me if you are already aware of it, visit nanowrimo.org and decide if you want to venture a 50K novel in a month. Find more info there. I can see ur aspiring writer ka instincts and suggesting so you can take a plunge.

Oh yea, settled down in Chn? I am still looking for that elusive job. Good luck.

8:51 PM  
Blogger pagala'k' said...

@ PS: Thanks for the offer PS, you are hired. I need to interview JAKS before hiring him.

@Ram(vetty): Thanks da, will check out the link. I didn't know about it.Settled in Chennai, its raining like crazy. Nallavanga ellam Chennaiku indha varusham thirumbinadhunaala Malai. Good luck with the search da.

11:57 PM  

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