Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Rajeev

Rajeev and I became friends because of the way alphabets are arranged on the keyboard. There’s a ‘Y’ next to the ‘T’ and sometimes, when you type fast (in my case, using all of three fingers), you hit both alphabets together – even though you didn’t mean to.

So, one day I used the office messenger service to ask him: ‘Are you busty?’
He replied: ‘No..and stop rubbing it in. By the way, I’m not busy either.’

Anyway, Rajeev’s like that. If he were a category, he’d be ‘Miscellaneous’; if he were a color, he’d be something with an ‘ish’ suffix…bluish, pinkish, hazelnuttish. If you met him, you’d think he was one of those guys who’d sit in the Stalls of theatres and hoot and whistle…or he’d be one of those who’d know Gunther’s last name. (Gunther – waiter in Friends who has a crush on Rachel.) He described anything excellent as ‘CLAAASS!’ That meant first class I suppose. If something were boring, he’d call it ‘jaded fuck.’ That always conjured up a bejeweled mattress in my mind, so I thought that it was a rather beautiful slur.

Rajeev was cool – the way being cool was when you’re nineteen. He didn’t begin sentences with ‘basically.’ He’d just straight out say: ‘I’m a lawyer.’ ‘I live in Malabar Hill.’ ‘I play the saxophone.’ And it’s not that he was just clever…he was an irreverent iconoclast. Bart Simpson grows up, goes to Harvard, drops out, becomes a sous-chef in Seychelles, and comes back home. Rajeev.

Another thing about Rajeev is that he noticed. He had the world in his Petri dish. With Rajeev, I thunked.

He got me thinking about why all the Cotton World outlets are located in some obscure corner – the afterthought areas of cities. If there’s a main road, with a dingy bylane, with a dark corner, with a shady basement, you’ll find a Cotton World there.

He asked me once how stupid I could be. Just that. The potential for dumbness. We were in a movie.

He pointed to one of the exits and said, ‘You see that Fire Exit sign?’

‘Yes?’

‘Okay, suppose there’s a fire now. Do you think you’d be so stupid that you’d get stuck inside because that sign confuses you?’

‘I don’t think that sign could ever be confusing. It’s straightforward. Fire Exit. You can’t confuse it with staying trapped inside.’

‘Yeah – but what if you’re really stupid. You see Fire Exit. You think it’s not for you to exit in case of fire, but it’s an exit FOR the fire. Get it? FIRE EXIT. Get it? Get it?’

As is often the case with most vibrant people, I lost touch with Rajeev when I left the job to study for my law exams. And then, one Jane Austen evening, I saw him at Barista, Bandstand – playing scrabble by himself.

‘Hello’, I smiled down at him.

Long pause. Wide smile. Tight hug at waist. He didn’t even stand.

‘You can join me if you want. But ‘busty’’s already been used.’

‘I’ve learnt other words since then.’

Over a rather crumbly brownie, we got talking. He was lunching at THE Zodiac Grill at least thrice a month and well…I could afford to treat astonishingly recovered pals to crumbly brownies. But both of us were happy doing what we were doing. So, different leagues but same score.

Then, of course, we moved on to love’s labors – lost but hopeful.

‘So, why are you still single?’, he asked.

‘How do you know I’m single?’

‘You look it.’

I let that pass.

‘Why are you so picky?’, he continued.

This rattled me...because I’m not picky.

Rajeev couldn’t date a girl if she dressed carelessly. He couldn’t date a girl if she used too much make up. He couldn’t date a girl if she wasn’t quick and flowing with witty repartees. Simply put – Rajeev went out on a date with a girl and didn’t go out with her again.

Here was a coal mine calling an icicle black.

I told him as much and ended with a curt, ‘I most certainly am not ‘picky’.’

‘Then how come you’re not with someone?’

‘How come YOU aren’t?’

‘I’m waiting.’

‘For…?’

‘Your answer...How come you aren’t with someone?’

‘I think two people should be together because there is one reason to say ‘Yes’; not because there’s no reason to say ‘No.’

‘Jaded fuck! Any other stupid song lyrics you believe in?’

‘Several…but you should choose one kind of stupidity to live by..and this is mine.’


He was making a pile of the Scrabble squares.

‘What do you say to all those guys who..you know..want to be with you?’

‘Well…it’s not that there are so many…but usually, they understand…you know. I mean, you don’t need to spell it out.’

‘And if you had to spell it out…’


I was getting nervous now. I think these things but then they sound trite when I say them aloud.

‘It’s just that it’s important how I feel with that person. If I feel precious and special and happy and deep…then….but mostly I’m agitated and you know, just my most difficult self. So, it’s clearly not meant to be. I explain, they understand.’

‘No, they don’t. They accept and move on.’


I let that pass. I make little square designs with the Scrabble pieces. Why do I think of Mohenjo Daro when I do that?

He finished off the brownie.

‘You know…you’re not picky about people. You just let them down easy.’

My city-state was looking pretty on the table.

He dropped me home and made some cruel remarks about the pattern on my bedcover. (‘Shouldn’t you be washing off the vomit now? Even though it has spread so symmetrically?’)

The next morning, I get a beautiful spray of pink and white flowers. It’s from Rajeev with the message: For the only one in Bandstand without highlighted hair.


That’s the thing with Rajeev. He always, always noticed.

12 comments:

Pixel8 said...

hmm...interesting.

jaygee said...

It was a lovely post.. n i wished i could have met him.. heard something about u.. check mail and reply asap.

Ash said...

Charming post, charming guy.

Sometimes you need friends who can be frank and not afraid to tell you your life is shit. Seriously. It makes you grow up and start doing something about it !

...you should choose one kind of stupidity to live by..and this is mine.
I liked that.

Rabin said...

Hey finally a post. A nice one as usual :)

the harlequin said...

I noticed the past tense. Do I get any brownie points for that?

anumita said...

Rajeev.... rajeev.... ok.
So what's up, babes-without-the-highlighted-hair?

Mukta said...

Hi pixel8,

Yep - he is interesting!

Hi jaygee,
Thanks. Yup have emailed you.

Hi ash,
thanks. yep - u're right about friends being that sharp voice of reason.

Hey R!
How are you? Thanks. It seems like ages since I've heard from you. By the way, did you try out that new joint, 'don't trust a thin chef' or some such...

Harlequin! Hullo!
One crumbly brownie coming up for the insightful one!

Hey there! Anumita...
Will write to you soooooooon!

Hemant said...

I think most of the factor take part in making relationship with some people really special, while in reality you and that person both maynt be really behaving exactly same with others and others might have different view, indeed I have one special friend like that, I talk to her about anything, even things which I never openly talked to any of serious gfs.

Mukta said...

Hi Hemant,

Yes. A friend is a friend is a friend. By the way, have you seen that movie, 'My Best Friend's Wedding'? I remember watching that last bit when Julia Roberts is sitting out the last dance and Rupert Everett comes in and asks her to turn around. Then, he dances with her. I mean, I would so much rather have a pal like that than....but then again...geez!

Hemant said...

hey ya, I do remember, But to me that looked she is little confused, I guess she wanted little to much(my view :) )

Hemant said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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