Real life does not have background music. That is why sometimes it seems so drab. In the movies even a simple thing like smelling a rose is glorified with an entire orchestra highlighting the moment, the action is slowed down and the heroine’s hair bob like fluffy dark clouds.
Life would be so exciting if it had background music. Imagine a clash of cymbals when you serve that beautiful omelet or sunny side up egg lovingly to your child. A rhapsody while you shave; a symphony while you take a morning walk and a jazz solo when you get a par on the golf course.
Of course a lot of us have iPods with headphones or stereo systems at home to give background music while we work or jog; but I want music every time I sharpen a pencil or write on the laptop. A special serenade when I look at my wife and an oozing Manuel and his Orchestra when we have a family dinner. Of course an overdose of music can be like an opiate which shuts down the mind. It reminds me of the Shakespearean lines from Twelfth Night
‘That strain again, it had a dying fall.
Oh, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odor. Enough, no more.
‘Tis not so sweet now as it was before.’
I suppose I would be quite satisfied if I heart Radetsky March by Johann Strauss Sr. every time I turn on my laptop–
I used to be an obedient stand –behind- my -wife kind of sender of prayers to our Hindu pantheon of Gods. I admit in the beginning it was my entire fault. Everything that went wrong with my life was my fault. Still my Gods did fail me. They made other people millionaires and not me, why? They say Mongol genes are running rampant in ninety percent of Asia’s population. So maybe Ganesha does not approve of my Genghis Khan chromosomes. Anyway things are not working.
I came to this northern city chasing an IT dream. I must admit I have a good job and a good wife. Things froze at that. I am caught in a strange vortex of infrastructure failure. It’s my fault. Why did I live in cities where things worked? Getting bad habits is so easy.
Now people hate me for complaining about the lack of electricity in Gurgaon. “Grow up man, this is part of life.” My work is all deadline based. My life depends on the internet. Some senior manager got netted in by the beautiful legs and smile of a senior executive of a new Internet provider company. I have to work now at a snail’s pace as a consequence because the net (pun intended) result has been bad. My lap top gets all heated up because of the hot cabin I sit in. It just shuts up.
I decided to change my Gods. The old ones were not working.
“What are these things in the prayer tray?” asked my wife. Let me explain the prayer system. Incense is burnt in the tray and an oil lamp is lit. Then the tray is swung in a circular motion in front of the pantheon of Gods and Goddesses. There is a deity for each of our demands in life. These deities are as human as real people to Hindus having heard very interesting stories about Krishna, Ganesha, Shiva, Parvati, Rama, Sita, Laxman and Hanuman. The mythology exists in two books read by every devout Hindu-The Ramayana and The Mahabaratha. Today there are numerous television plays enlightening viewers about stories of these great Gods.
My wife’s question reverberated in the prayer room. ‘What are these things in the prayer tray?’
“The God of Electricity represented by my old voltmeter and the Internet God represented by photographs of Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf, the Fathers of the Internet.”
Immediately there was a Schism in our home. She immediately pulled out her Gods from the tray. Now I understood how religions split into rival factions.
“At least give me that one tiny Ganesha’ I begged her
‘You are a heretic. I will make a report to our Punditjee (priest)’ my wife said.
I put my Gods on a separate tray and burned some incense. That day the internet ran with the speed of lightning and there was no electricity failure.
This is it. I am forming a new religion. People will flock to me. I surveyed other pitfalls in my life. My bank account! Lakshmi was unhappy with me. I clipped out an old photograph of Warren Buffet and put it in a tiny frame. This I placed on my tray of new gods. As an after thought I added Mukesh Ambani and Azim Premji. Next day I got bonus shares from all the companies I had invested in. This was working.
I was the new Messiah. I had seen the light.
I could fix any thing with my prayers. The population! I should fix the population. I stuck a family planning red triangle on a cardboard and placed that too on the tray. My wife looked at me. She thought I was going mad. I remembered Joan of Arc. She too was scoffed at but made a saint after her death. I went to sleep happy. I liked the idea of my beatification.
Alas my world came crashing down next morning. ‘I’m pregnant’ said my wife. I looked at the red triangle in disappointment. The Sensex lost a thousand points the same morning. The color red flowed entirely through my holdings. The office generator packed up just after the net stopped working. I took out my old booklet of Hanuman Chaleesa and my string of 108 beads.
“Jai Hanuman Gyan Goon Sagar—-.” Just then my boss walked in. He admired my stoic nature in the office. I was praying in the disastrous situation while others were wailing and crying at the lack of electricity and the internet.
I got that long pending promotion. I threw away the volt meter and respectfully stowed away the photographs and the red triangle. My place has been restored behind my wife in the prayer room and the infidel tray thrown on to the scrap heap.
Sheena was a slim girl of fifteen. She was a whiz kid with wiring and sound systems. She knew how to make software programs and she was the trouble shooter for the Chawl Hotel’s laptops and desktops. She had somehow come to the conclusion that I was the richest man in the world. Yes I do have custom built cars. I do wear the ultimate branded clothes and shoes. I have a big collection of watches from all over the world. Still I am no Greek shipping tycoon. She is constantly begging me to allow her to come into my bedroom and have a look.
I know these young Delhi girls. They are dynamite. These teenagers are thrill seekers. They are the biggest gossips and the slightest gesture by a boy or man can be interpreted as an attempt at rape or casual love making depending on the mood of the hour.
‘Why are you afraid of me.’ She said holding my hand and pulling it to near her heart. ‘Can you hear it thumping? It is beating only for you. Let us go into your bedroom and inspect the paintings.’
I smiled and flopped down on the big sofa letting her be pulled along with me. ‘Talk, you can talk but no physical stuff’ I told her.
“Why are you fighting nature? Right now a million people at least are making love somewhere on the globe. In the dark depths of the Amazon jungle; on ships; in Africa even while the lions are roaring near a village; in Australia in the bush; Eskimos in igloos and even stuck up Indians are using Nirodhs at a fast pace. Why can’t you just kiss me? You owe me. I fixed your sound system.’ I grabbed her and picked her up and placed her on a chair away from the sofa.
“Please,” I begged, “we will talk about this when you are eighteen. Right now you are a minor and I do not want to be arrested for assaulting a minor.”
‘You do whatever you feel like I will not lodge a complaint. You can marry me first if you are really that interested.’ Somehow I convinced her to come out of my apartment and go for a walk with me. She slumped along disappointed till we reached the food court in the Mall.