Sunday, May 14, 2006

Crazy encounters in Brick Lane

Amar and Akbar's crazy adventures continue. At the moment we are in Brick Lane, writing competing recollections of an encounter we had just a few minutes ago.


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There we were, innocent adventurers wandering down a lively Brick Lane in the middle of Baisakhi celebrations, when we were approached by a madman. At first I thought he was white - he was very fair, and clean shaven and middle-aged, dressed in suit and tie. He came right up to us, and stopped, looking us up and down.

He spoke in hindi: Tum kahan se ho? Delhi? Mumbai? Madras? Jis Haramzade ne Delhi ka laddoo khaya, woh pachhtata hai. Aur jo saala nahin khaata, woh bhi pachtata hai. Where are you from? Delhi? Mumbai? Madras? Any bastard who eats the laddus of Delhi lives to regrets it. And the one who doesn't regrets it too!

Deciding to defer to his wisdom, age, and muscly frame, I pointed to Akbar and said, actually, he's from Lahore.

"You fuckistanis", I thought I heard, but it may just have been slurring. "You Indians, you Pakistanis, you are all fighting over Kashmir. Three wars you have fought over my Land. I am Kashmiri." He wagged his finger at us.

"Hindus, Muslims, all of them, I say, fuck off!" At least he was secular, I thought. "Kashmir belongs to Kashmiris."

We asked "So how does it come to pass that here you are, a man who loves his Desh, living in London instead of Kashmir?"

He was not pleased. "I am a bar-at-law!! Do you know what that means!" he yelled at us. And then, mysteriously, "See this ring? It's turquoise from Afghanistan."

"Very nice," we nodded appreciatively. Emboldened, he started pulling up his other sleeve. "See this watch? It's Swiss, made of gold. Two thousand!" For a second, we wondered if he was going to try and sell it to us. But he continued, showing off his suit and tie (not that nice really, but we acted all impressed).

He told us about his education. "I am a bar-at-law! I earn a million a year! I studied in Lincoln's Inn. Jinnah studied there, Nehru studied there, Gandhi studied there, I studied there. All lawyers are rubbish! They are liars"

We also learnt about what he was doing at Brick Lane. "I don't live here in the ghetto," he growled. "I have a mansion. Ten Million! Holland Park, Notting Hill!"

"I just came here to observe. I woke up at 5 in the morning. I have many important cases. In the afternoon, I will go to the court!"

We shamefully confessed we hadn't known that courts were open on Sunday. "The courts are not usually open on a Sunday" he admitted. "Except when there are EXCEPTIONAL CASES. I am working on EXCEPTIONAL CASES! Do you understand English? I don't think so!!"

Shamed by our inadequacies, we begged his forgiveness and took our leave. He let us go with a final bit of advice : Jo delhi ka laddu khata hai , woh pachtata hai! Dhobi ka kutta, na ghar ka na ghat ka! These Bengalis don't understand that.

Leaving us to ponder those final mysterious words, he wandered off to observe. Amar and Akbar looked at each other, burst into laughter, and rushed to the internet cafe to write this down for you.

Take care you crazy wonderful people.