Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Monk who sold his Ferrari.

No, I’m not talking of Julian Mantle, the millionaire lawyer turned enlightened monk. No, I haven’t read the book. Yes, I’ve heard of it from people who swear by it. I’m merely referring to the idea embodied in the six words. “Enlightened monk” = Sage, wise person. “Sold his Ferrari” = Got rid of his expensive possessions. I’m sure he had acquired the made in Italy gas guzzler long before he became “enlightened”. Had he been wise to begin with, he would never have acquired it in the first place. Think of all the headaches he would have spared himself by doing so. No drain on his bank account caused by enormous fuel bills, service expenses, insurance, chauffeur’s salary, fines for traffic law violation, the aftermath of accidents, and so on and so forth. Why not just use public transport or hail a cab? Or, take a walk when you’re not in a hurry. But if you’re a Somebody like the aforesaid JM (or think you’re a Somebody), then you must reach the court house in a Ferrari. Else, people will think you’re a nobody. It's all about validation. You must not look small in people’s eyes. Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion. Or, the famous story of how Sita had to undergo a trial by fire just to prove her purity after her return from Lanka to Rama’s subjects, led by a washer man who, for maybe professional reason, was fond of washing dirty linen, real or imaginary, in public. I recently heard a friend of mine calling over his cellphone one of his associates and telling him that he would like to disassociate himself from him. Because he, his associate, was picking fights at their common workplace, the home of a sage where a daily satsang happens. This apparently was hurting his, my friend’s, image. When I asked him why he was doing this, he explained his pre-emptive step using what amounted to the Caesar’s wife thesis. Incredible! Coming back to the point I was making earlier, less is more. The fewer possessions you have, the fewer worries you have, the more peace you have. This is not spirituality. This is pure common sense. I saw my father who was a successful criminal lawyer practising it in his later life without realising what he was up to. So stupid of me, I realise now. A bit too late in the day.

Monday, July 16, 2007

“Do you know me?”

Much as I dislike people forwarding me jokes, I’m going to make an exception for this one. I got it in an e-mail dated Monday, 16 July, 2007 10:57 AM from a long-lost family friend. He happened to find me after a long separation via ‘Pop Goes the Slop’. The reason for making an exception with it is that it made me think of Seinfeld and Larry Richards. Here it is, warts and all.

Lawyers should never ask a Southern grandma a question if they aren't prepared for the answer.

In a trial, a Southern small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand.

He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?"

She responded, "Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams. I've known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you."

The lawyer was stunned! Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?"

She again replied, "Why, yes, I do. I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him."

The defense attorney almost died.

The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, "If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll send you to the electric chair."

I rest my case.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Crossing.

You don’t come across many of them anymore in Mumbai, I guess. Railway crossings, I mean. When I was a child, I used to be taken in the Mankar family car to Antop Hill, Wadala, for Ganapati darshan. That was in the late forties and early fifties. We had to wait at two railway crossings to reach the Hill. Mostly, it was for a local train to pass. Sometimes, a lot of shunting used to go on because of goods trains proceeding to or from the BPT warehouses abutting the Mumbai Docks. My cousin, Nalini, married into the Jayakar family lived on the Hill (the rest of the Jayakars still continue to live there) in a sprawling house. The last time I went there as an adult was in the early nineties to attend my cousin’s funeral. By then, the railway crossings were long gone, replaced by a flyover. There was no waiting, no delay. The reason for the nostalgia for the railway crossing is because of a 1990 Australian movie I saw yesterday on the Pix channel. Hugely underrated, unpretentious (it doesn’t even pretend it isn’t a movie) and slow-moving, it somehow managed to grab my attention and interest. It has a very young Russell Crowe as Johnny, the best friend of the arty Sam. Johnny ends up with Meg, the girl whom Sam had deserted. Meg agrees to marry Johnny the very night Sam returns to the village of his birth after an absence of a year and a half. Set in the fifties or sixties (I reckon), it has small-town parades and car races on freeways for spectacle as well as the heartbreak of young love. To save the girl and her betrothed, Sam sacrifices his own life at the crossing. No hamming, no melodrama. Just the irony of random happenstance. Excellent. A serendipitous discovery for me. I thought the use of the long shot as an alienating device was brilliant. By the way, the movie taglines are: “A time for dreams... A time for choices... A time that would never come again.” And: “Where destiny meets desire.” A bit too over the top for the way the movie happens to be, if you ask me. P.S.: One railway crossing in Mumbai that, I know, is still alive and kicking is the one near Andheri Station at Amboli close to which in the Vikas Towers I own a flat.