Thursday, May 04, 2006

Velachery to Thiruvanmiyur

Hans managed to talk to me despite one child bawling for its feed, and the other one, wow what a kid he is, Nandham, tugging at his sleeve.

Barely four years old, with ears wiggling forwards like an ET -the professorial kind, if you please, and using a vocabulary in fluent English that could put even politicians [or orators] to shame. He tried to get me interested in whatever was the most exciting project in his mind, whilst I was trying my best to squeeze nuggets of gossip about common friends from Hans.

I got very peculiar looks from Hans's scholarly looking father, three generations with thick spectacles, I noticed, and his bespectacled mother too. His father was gracious enough to end my curiosity about them being curious. It was my name, they chorused -Max Babi. His mother thought it was Mahes Babi [the 'sh' sound is conspicuously missing here from most names. The famous actress Shridevi used to insist her name was Sridevi -guess it sounds much more cute with the softer sound.

The boy with the gleaming spectacles, reminding me strongly of Calvin of the Calvin and Hobbes fame, finally brought his toys and upturned the school bag seemingly chockfull with a library of toys. Turning to me with the solemn look of an undertaker, or a Bishop with acute stomach ache, he said : " I am going to make a dinosaur that flies."

Well well well, both I and Hans thought this was a creative thought. He asked his free-wheeling intellect holder boy what he meant, how could he make that? The boy replied with redoubled seriousness, quickly putting four pieces of Lego to make a huge rectangular block and putting two curving pieces on sides. It looked like a huge bird gone all wrong during conception or gestation -ah, mutation is the word escaping my fatigue mind. But we both said the project was tremendous.

In five minutes the boy, adjusting his spectacles as if they were a pince-nez, suddenly turned to me and asked me urgently : " When will you go?" I found this query delicious. Only a child can be so disarmingly frank with you. I told him I could leave there and then itself, but had things to talk over. His mother, blushing furiously, unable to hide her scandalized expression explained : " Your papa and his friend are meeting after twenty years!"

I think the time span was too huge for that tiny brain to comprehend. I told Kaveri so. He didn't look impressed in the least. Disregarding her as a senile old woman, though she seemed to be in her late twenties or early thirties, he again came close to me :" But when will you go?"

To evade him I said half an hour. I drew a blank with Hans, my old friend. Almost all our common friends were out of touch with him. He was up to his ears in theatre and related activities... like a digital alarm, the boy rang out :
" You said you were going to leave in half an hour...why aren't you leaving?"

I laughed him off whilst the parents yelled. Much later, Hans, being the superior IQ chap that he always was, whisperingly explained that they all had been watching Lion King, CD 1 and now that a guest had been taking up time, the boy was desperate to start CD 2. Well, I didn't have the heart to break his smaller heart... so I rang up my friend Dr. Rodriguez at Valmiki Nagar. He was reaching home in half an hour.

Taking my leave I asked him how far was Valmiki Nagar, he said six or seven kilometres and she said three or four. A sense of deja vu struck me. The same discordant replies ! Husband and wife had disagreed at my earlier visit, and now the same disagreement here too...

Hans explained :" As the crow flies it is right there, but you have to go around quite a bit." He came down to see me off and promised me to keep abreast of the theatrical happenings. I drove off to my journey of discovery, finding Thiruvanmiyur with its road leading to Mahabalipuram onwards to Pondichery.



At 11:31 PM, Blogger david raphael israel said...

Delightful -- and interesting about the addictive power of a well-wraught cartoon film for a youngster. Perhaps his generation's musical tastes will be affected. A similar epic dramatisation (basically the Lion King is cognate to the Ramaayana, I suppose), in a slightly earlier era, would have been enjoyed with pucca Karnatic music. Thus, a globalising culture?

At 1:48 AM, Blogger Max Babi said...

Why not, David, I had seen animated Ramayana, forget the source, would have to ask Mimi my daughter about that- it was very well done with Hindustani music as the background score. Globalizing folklore is a must. There is a multimedia company at Pune doing things in this direction. Thanks, cheerz!


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