Friday, November 24, 2006

When Vijay met Khalid

My husband V is a friendly kind of guy. Unlike a lot of other people, he has absolutely no airs about him. Consequently, some of his biggest admirers are drivers, security guards and suchlike. Their faces positively light up when his lanky, six foot frame bobs into view.

This, they feel, is a man who understands us. A true prince. We would do anything for Saar.

I remember how when we used to go to the same office, the security guards would drop whatever they were doing to come and wish him Good Morning with bright grins. Once or twice, I tried to get them to say it to me, too, but his presence would outshine mine everytime. So I just gave up.

He is a simple man with simple ways, and it is only after many years that I have managed to get him to stop yelling 'Bhaiiya' to attract the waiter's attention - which really is okay in Shiv Sagar but not in the Taj. Now he just gives them a helpless smile until they are drawn to his magnetic self.

But this same ability to appeal to the masses, sometimes subjects him to what some may refer to as the 'Dregs of Society'. Such as Khalid.

Day 1:

V is on a smoking break outside the office during a hard day, when it starts to rain the figurative cats and dogs. Taking shelter under a shop board or some such thing, he finds himself in the close vicinity of all types of other people, all bound together by the pouring rain.

One of these, a clearly drugged, dirty, and damp fellow sidles upto him and this was the exchange that followed, or at least, something close.

- Dirty Damp Dude: Friend!
- V: (Startled silence, taking in the fellow's appearance)...
- DDD: (Unfazed by the cold reception) I have been listening to you talk on the phone. You are very good!
- V: (Unsure what this means and wishing more than ever it would stop raining): Eh, heh heh.
- DDD: But you don't concentrate. You must concentrate! Focus!
- V: Uhh - OK.
- DDD (Clearly bored of this topic): You read Shakespeare?
- V: ...No...
- DDD: Julius Caesar? King Lear? Hamlet?
- V: No, not them either.
- DDD: (quoting) To be...or not to be...
- V: (Glad he knows the answer to this one) To be!
- DDD: I am Khalid. What's your name, friend?
- V: (Reluctantly) Vijay
- Khalid: Do you know about Newton's Third Law?
- V (Being a science student, does know this one): Yes..every action has an equal and opposing reaction..
- Khalid: Correct! But it is wrong! Because if E is equal to MC squared, then how could the apple fall on his head?
- V : (Stunned Silence)..

Thankfully, by now, the rain has almost stopped and V tries to take his leave.

- Khalid: (Shouting) Friend!
- V (turns back) What?
- Khalid: Friend! I'm Starving!
- V (so glad at the prospect of leaving, that he hands over a twenty rupee note, saying sternly): Don't make this a habit.

And of course, Khalid has every intention of doing so.

Day 2:

Next day, V goes out with his subordinates for a break, and sure enough he spots the raggedy figure unsteadily tottering towards him at a goodish pace. Thinking quickly, he puts out his cigarette and starts to usher his juniors back into the office building immediately. They are unused to this kind of speed from him, and wonder what is going on - they have almost made it back inside, when Khalid nears the gate, screaming 'Friend! Friend! Vijaaaii! Vijaaii!'

One of V's subordinates looks askance at the fellow, and then at V and informs him: Boss. He is calling you.
V (Irritated by this news bulletin): I know. Let's go.
Subordinate ( Quietly bemused): But boss. He knows your name.

V whisks him inside without further explanation.

This time, Khalid is disappointed - however, he is a man who may be down, but not out.

Day 3:

Khalid haunts the office gate constantly, waiting for his kind, newfound friend and source of income. V has now decided not to go out at all, and is getting increasingly annoyed at being denied his smoke break. He speaks to other colleagues about whether the strange guy is still outside.

One reports that he is. Apparently he has just witnessed an exchange between Khalid and one of the many taxi drivers outside the gate.

Khalid (belligerently): Oye! Mere Moje Kahaan hai!
Taxi driver (annoyed): Kaunse Moje?
Khalid (with all the emotion of righteous indignation): Saale kutte! Agar moje hai, to bol hai! Agar nahin hai, to bol nahin hai! Kaunse moje ka kya matlab??

V can't help thinking: One admirable thing about Khalid is his rock solid Logic.

Day 4:

V is going nuts with the tension. He wants that smoke but he does not want a conversation with Mister Khalid. One of his colleagues reports 'I saw him earlier this morning. He was creating a real scene..'

It turns out, there were two young college girls who were laughing and giggling as they passed by Khalid. Probably not at him, but it seemed to annoy him nevertheless. So, he apparently came up with an on-the-spot plan to get their attention.

Khalid (Yelling): Dekho, Michael Jackson! Michael Jackson!
Sure enough, this caused the girls to stop immediately and stare at him in amazement. That's when he made his winning move.
Khalid (Holding his hands around two feet apart): Tumhe maalum hai Michael Jackson ka ______ itna bada hai!

He was still chuckling softly to himself as the shocked and scandalized young women scurried out of sight.

V thinks, this cannot continue. Something Must be Done.

Day 5:

By now, V has made up his mind. Khalid is a nuisance not only to him, but clearly to society at large. Why, that poor taxi driver. Those poor college girls,too. It did sound funny, he admits, but that's really not the point. It's time to take Action.

In some large corporates, Action typically equals Email. Living up this tradition, V writes to the administration manager and details his plight.

The contents of the email are suitably toned down, but the overall message is that there is a Man who needs Help outside the Office Gates and may potentially cause Trouble for the Company Officials, amongst other Innocent Folk. ( V has taken some liberty in adding the 's' to Official, but you can understand why).

V receives a glowing email from the Admin manager, telling him how caring and responsible an individual he is, etc.

Surprisingly, Khalid actually disappears. And V can now go out of the office during the day, as and when he pleases.

I am pretty sure he misses him - at least partly.

Lastly, a little message for Khalid - anyone who gets my husband to smoke less, has to be one of the good guys. And in the unlikely event that you ever find your way to this blog - let me assure you, it's the rest of the world that's crazy.


  1. Heyyy... why the change of title? Funny story. I like.

  2. Sounded too much like 'when harry met sally'. thank you :-). i shall change it back then.

  3. i must agree-o ... i loved "khalid at the gate". it sounded like a play on "enemy at the gate".

  4. When, Harry, Sally, Vijay and Khalid met at the gate?

  5. Thank you all - but could we also think about commenting on stuff apart from the title sometime?

  6. you not only have a photographic memory.. but also the exact words to bring out the moment alive .. i almost relived the entire thing. (to be honest i do miss khalid at times- i am sure here is houston i wiill find quite a few but none will be same as the real khalid) .. on a different note, how do you manage to tell stories so well.. you are awesome !

  7. umm..honey..much as i love you, could you please not gush over me here? it's a trifle embarassing. and signing in as anonymous makes it look even worse. everyone knows who you are.

    i am afraid you are no longer allowed to comment subjectively on my blog. you may most definitely continue to gush over me at home, though :-) lots of love, Y

  8. i really loved the way u've written this piece...the humour makes it all the more poignant...

  9. Awww... that was so sweet. The anonymous tag was unnecessary, I agree, but gush on, Vj, nothing wrong with it.

    Y, shush :-)

  10. here lemme break the silence. Even if it require plagiarising..

    but gush on, Vj, nothing wrong with it.

    Y, shush :-)

    As for MY own comment: Gosh, I'd have difficulty holding back all the gush too... YOU REALLY ARE AWESOME!!

  11. LOL Y! What an amazing story. May not have been so to Vijaaiiii in his plight...but still. Very interesting!


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