Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Autoricksha Confessions 4: Phone Fool

When I was a kid, way before we owned the first TV set in the society, we were the first to own a phone (yes, we were very middle-class). And while it came with perks (for one you could, like, call people) its solitary status brought about some huge annoyances.

For one, neighbors would stop by the house to make a phone call. Sometimes ajnabee people would try to use our phone using luminous character references like "I'm S. P. Patel's brother's neighbor. Can I make a call?" The worst part of it was that this usually happened in the middle of my afternoon siesta.

And even worse was when someone would call and say "Hey could you go fetch K.K. Shah from next door?". This would involve going next door, ringing the doorbell, waking K.K. Shah-uncle up from his siesta, getting a nasty look from him as he waddled out adjusting the naada on his pajama and then escorting him to my house. Then K.K. Shah-uncle would spend half an hour maroing gappaas with some long lost friend in a booming voice that would reverberate around our house, thus killing my nap.

All of this came to a head one April Fools Day. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Our society was populated by a number of young boys and girls. And around the time we all hit puberty the boys - as kids cruelly tend to - put the girls into two categories: Maal and Bedol. Maals were coveted (in our case from a distance). Bedols were ignored at all costs. This was back in the day before the advent of the "shall we have coffee together?" dating scene.

In any case three houses down lived the Bedol queen of the neighborhood - lets just call her Preeti Jhangiani, shall we? Well one fine April Fools day I get a phone call in the house. "Can you please summon Preeti" the voice commands.

I grumble and trudge off to fetch Preeti. Preeti is delighted that a boy (any boy - even the nerdy Parsi with the long nose) is calling on her. She skips happily behind me back to the house and picks up the phone. The line is dead. She gives me a curious look. I shrug. She returns to her house.

Half an hour later, phone rings again. "I'm terribly sorry I got cut off" the voice says "These shitty lines. Can you please get Preeti for me?" I trudge back again. Preeti comes with. Same thing: line is dead. Preeti gives me a huge smile.

The third time this happens, I warn the caller this will be the last time. And wouldn't you know: same thing happens. Only this time Preeti is making eyes at me.

Next day, my so called friends explained the bluff. "We just wanted Preeti to think you are chasing her yaar" they chuckled. They laughed about this for weeks. Deathly embarrassment resulted.

Needless to say, I devised and played some horrible tricks on my friends later in lieu of this mean and unfunny prank. But unfortunately I had to deal with two undesirable things for years after: first one was being referred to as Preeti's Balam by my peers in the society and the second one was Preeti herself - doing her best to stoke my non-existent feelings for her.

Much later when I got over my adolescent awkwardness and grew a brain, I realized the way I acted around Preeti after the incident was far worse than the prank that my friends had pulled on me. But life is full of stuff like this - and although I try to set things right as much as I can, I can't bring myself to develop any kind of fondness for April Fools Day.

Previous 3 wheeler rides: House pets, Boxing Day, Carefree Errands

Disclaimer: Since someone who reads this blog knows the Bollywood Preeti Jhangiani rather well, I'd like to say that the name was picked for its ability to rhyme with the real deal. Preeti remains a fine looking young lady.


Kanan said...

Very entertaining read, Aspi! Thanks & happy April fools to you! ;)

Anonymous said...


Fantastic! You have some wonderful memories!


Anonymous said...

Hehehe very fun! So, what happens to the maals and bedols now? ;-)

Anonymous said...

lol, bedols! boys can be cruel.

I still cringe at how besharam we use to be in using other peoples things just because we did'nt have them. We would show up at our neighbors door every wednesday to watch chitrahaar on the colored television and get upset if for some reason they weren't home.

Anonymous said...

drift saab, does it again..... terrific confession. at some point we'll need a poll of the best of the autorisksha confessions :) love the image of rotund KK Shah uncle struggling to get his pyjama naada in place. he could well have been a lean, spare man who was ramrod straight and precise in his movements - but if he was i don't want to know! i prefer my image ;)

driftji, i'm increasingly in awe of yr bollywood connections. someone who u know reads this blog, is a good friend of preeti jhangiani? admittedly shes a minor starlet, but my closest brush with BW was spotting Aishwarya Bachchan walking in the Back Bay area in Boston at the time of the Pink Panther shoot. She was gone b4 i realized it was her. By the time I doubled back to check, she had disappeared!

Anonymous said...

Haha!! How is it that so mnay interesting things have happened to u:).

Anonymous said...

Aspi, too cute. Your collection of confessions will make a fine coming of age PG-13 movie someday.

Anonymous said...

heh its all fun and games until you grow up and find yourself imprisoned for 15 years oldboy style.. or Zinda the toned down desi version.. preeti jiangiani probably has self esteem issues now or something hahahah.. or maybe she grew up to be a beautiful swan with ugly duckling syndrome

*~mad munky~* said...

hehe! :o)

i'm useless at pranks...never was good at planning the fine detail - it always went wrong :oS

*must blog about it one day*

Unknown said...

sidekick, my Bollywood connections are all third and fourth degree. At least you caught a whiff of Aish. The only such encounter I've had was when we gave a ride to Hema and Shatru in a friend's car when I was a little boy. I remember Hema had bad hair, but Shatru's hair rocked!

m, Preeti is married now and her brothers - while mildly psychotic - seem to be under control. So I'm hoping a Zinda won't happen.

Unknown said...

~mm~ we don't get enough of you around here so do a blog post and cross post for us. Come on!

Anonymous said...

haha!! I'm loving these confessions more and more. These should be short-stories or something. you must publish them one day. I'm impressed that someone who reads this blog knows famous ppl...being in Chicago, my only "famous" person experience was when I saw Bill Resnic (Spl) from the first Apperantice (Spl) season!! pathetic...I know!

Anonymous said...

Talking of brushes with celebrities I have had a few, since I grew up in Lonavla and that is where the bollywood industry would head to, for all their shootings in the early seventies. I would'nt even call it brushes really it was more like me and my friends gawking while the actresses would sit under a tree looking bored or refreshing their makeup (this was before they started acquiring their own makeup vans). I even got to be an extra in Yaadon ki baraat, ofcourse I was really young to remember anything and my shot was cut from the final product. But if you have ever seen a movie getting shot, it is so stab your eye boring that you get a new found respect for movie stars.

Unknown said...

I think you are right about that Joules. My grandfather used to tell us stories about how he was in a cast of thousands for a Prithviraj Chauhan movie and all he had to was wear this super hot cardboard "armor" and raise his spear once in a while.

Actually watching the fight scenes in Jodhaa Akbar reminded me of that story.

Anonymous said...

Wow Joules, u r our resident Bollywood star! I think even Amir Khan acted in that movie as a child. So what if ur scene got cut! The scenes of the greatest of stars get cut too. So WOW:).
Aspi,u cant complain, u have shared closed spaces with Hema and Shatru! The closest I have been is to... hmmm...no-one actually:).

Anonymous said...

Aspi - what mean little boys! And sad as it is, I have to confess I'd have gleefully participated in such a prank and then teased you unmercifully for the rest of your life about it too. Preeti's Balam. Hee hee hee. A kid in college in search of some cred once mistakenly told us they used to call him Nagpur ka Kishen Kanhaiya. We never let him forget it obviously.

As for a brush with BW, does Anupam Kher count? We were staying at the same hotel in Madras once and one of my cousins thought it would be funny to call him up and invite him to come over. And he actually showed up!!! I don't know who was more surprised and awkward - him or us. We all stared at each other for a while and then he left. But I've always thought he was a very nice man ever since.

Also, this reminds me of something. Must make post when I feel up to it.

Anonymous said...

hehe anug, Anyone who has lived in and around bombay would have a similar story.

Amrita, Nagpur ka Kishen Kanhaiyan lol.

I have another story to share. In Bhopal we (me, my sis and our friends) were sitting at Jehannumah (it is a restaurant owned by the Pataudis although you never spot them there) and Amol Palekar was at a table next to us. At this restaurant each table is quite private and you cannot see the people sitting on other tables. We were typical 19 yr olds making enough noise. Amol was probably missing the fan attention and he asked the waiter to invite us to his table. We were kind of excited to join him but he came across as a bloviator so were thouroughly dissappointed.

Unknown said...

What tremendous stories! I still remember telling myself "if it starts raining I can go stand underneath Shatru's hair" - so massive and beautiful was his pompadour.

Amrita, I need to know if your cousin was a girl. I always have this feeling that Bollywood actors fish around for women. Its highly cynical but I bet you if you lined up ten incidents, I'd be right about nine of them.

Anonymous said...

naah, Aspi my near brush with Ash counts for nothing. U actually got to admire shatru's great hair and hema's great smile at close quarters, amrita had a full fledged meeting with anupam kher and joules has had brushes with multifarious celebs --- i'm jealous :( . i have no luck with celebs at all. when the departed was filming in boston we saw a row of shiny, swish white vans at a shoot near the sailing club but nary a celeb in sight. not leo, mark, matt or jack! i actually waited a while hoping to catch a glimpse :)

Anonymous said...

Aspi - no it was my annoying cousin brother. Although you probly have a point about women and BW stars.

Joules - hee hee. And he was pretty much what you'd expect too. The only kid I knew who drove a Bajaj scooter poor baby coz he made the mistake of asking his parents for a bike instead of the car they were planning to get him and they got him "the safest one". But then they might have gotten him an Ambassador so whatevs.

Sidekick - oh, my life is littered with blink and miss moments centered around Mumbai airport. Including a sighting of my all time fave Shashi kapoor. And Jackie Shroff is stalking me - he always shows up everywhere I go. I swear! I went to bombay to hang out with my friends once and he showed up every five minutes at all the hotels we went to. the man doesn't stay at home! So go to bombay, young sidekick, where the BW stars roam free.

Unknown said...

My cuz Raveena Tandon used to man the desk at the Taj Salon and she has lots of stories about stars - including those who were too cheap to tip.

She used to say that Dev Anand would show up (although never to cut his hair - surprise) and throw a rumaal in the air and catch it for no particular reason. It is one of my lifelong wishes to run into Dev Anand and ask him to do that for me.

Anonymous said...

amrita, thanks for that great tip but somehow love for celeb spotting notwithstanding i doubt i'll be adding bombay to my list of india stops ;). i'll have to be content with living vicariously thru all of the drifters' celeb experiences, including aspi's 3rd and 4th degree BW contacts.

aspi, dev saab tossing his rumaal in the air - simply delish. sort of like rajinikanth with his sunglasses :D

Anonymous said...

WOW!!I must say Aspi, that u have had quite a few light hearted and fun memories.....hehe..can piture lil Aspi actually telling Bedol Preeti dat shes got a fone call...hehe..wht dos bedol mean btw??
and man...speakin of bollywood connections...my dad had a few snaps wid Hema once some 15 yrs back...he positively luks more den happy to be standing right next to her..lol..i used to hang out wid sawan kumar tak..[the long lost director of "Sautan"] some 3-4 yrs back...and right now i am ...lol..never mind..

Anonymous said...

Dev Anand throwing a rumal...that's priceless!! Sidekick, I would be really mad if i didnt get to see Leo and I was so close! When they were filming the new batman movie in Chicago this past summer, we saw Heath Leger, and Christian Bale's trailers and the makeup trailer but no look on seeing the stars. I did have a brush with lil john in December, and got drunk with him at a VIP lounge.

Unknown said...

girlie girl, with that lil john you have incident you have elevated yourself above us riff raff in terms of celebrity encounters.

Wonder if he was drinking any of his crunk juice.

Anonymous said...

I dont know about "crunk juice" but he was drinking Patrone out of his Pimp Cup!!

Unknown said...

There was a time when he was trying to market this cocktail called Crunk Juice which if I remember correctly had vodka mixed with more vodka. I think he ended up marketing it as an energy drink later but not sure how its doing.

Anonymous said...

my brother came back from LA today, he was visiting his dad, last week he asked me what I wanted him to get me from the land of the stars. I asked him to get me christian audigier hoodie and a few other things. His dad is loaded. He said okay.

So i said get me a size S, i thought i would be okay in that size. Anyway the tshirts fit me fine and the hoodie was okay too but like if i zip it up it feels rly tight. I felt so fat

so you know what my mom says "well give it to me then" she wasn't joking

I was like what the so i went "you seriously think you're slimmer than me?"

seriously ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.. this isn't the first time she had made a dig at my weight. Srsly she also copies my style sometimes. I was seriously angry. Also she is too old to be wearing clothes that girls my age would wear.

UGH! anyway i am gonna renew my gym membership and go on a diet.
I think last few months i have been out drinking beer and wine a lot and not eating right.