Fame, Faith and failure

This post isn`t funny because I have been spending all of my time between ibibo.com and my daughter Rhea. Without that creative time slot to think and plan a blog post…coming up with a funny piece is difficult. So here goes an autobiographical piece.

This article is about Fame, Faith & Failure…the three things that keeps any man going.

Faith
Faith cuts across all genders

Two years back, when I went to Madurai, the city where I grew up, I bumped into a friend whom I used to play cricket with when I was in school & college.

Mani, the all-rounder I was scared to ball to…and frightened to face is today a bus conductor and works for Rs 6300. Here is what happened.

“Aren`t you Rajan?”

That`s how he knew me…Rajan. Jammy, the fancier name caught on later. There was no way, I was going to recognize him…he had become a man. A man hardened by fate, deeds & hard luck. A face, I wouldn`t recognize.

“Heyyyy…..hmmm….hmmm…how are you?” I just couldn`t place him. But being the good guy out of the two, he was more forthright.

“Looks like you didn`t recognize me. Remember me? Mani? The fast bowler?”

“Ohh shucks! Mani…it is you?”

“How have you been, Rajan. You are working with Indian Express aren`t you?” I could see that Mani wanted to hug me….but I didn`t. He was oily and smelled of bidis. I could see his khaki shirt was wet with sweat and salt formation where the sweat had dried, stood out like Google Maps. Though, I did think that his eyes were moist.

I didn`t tell Mani that I was with Indian Express ten years back, and had changed seven jobs since then. He kept on asking questions.

“Are you married?”
“Where is the girl from?”
“Is she pretty? Huh? Huh?
“Love marriage or arranged marriage?”
“Have any kids?”
“Boy or a girl?”
“Started going to school?”

He was genuine. I was the faker of the two. I answered in mono syllables. I didn`t ask him about his family, friends, job…nothing.

After getting bored of my mono syllables, he started looking at me up and down.

“You must be a rich man now. Aren`t you?”

“Well, not really. I don`t run my own business…I still wait for my monthly salary on the first of every month.”

Back in my town, asking somebody for their salary is an accepted norm. There is nothing to hide, especially if you are friends. And what I was dreading happened.

“That`s ok. I recently got a hike after completing two years and my salary now is Rs 6300. How much is yours?”

I could have been honest with him. But something inside didn`t allow me. I didn`t tell him that I was with Yahoo – one of the top Internet companies – and to make it worse, I cut down my package and said: “Well, my salary is double that.”

“I told you, didn`t I? You are rich. For me to get Rs 15,000 every month, I will have to work for another ten years.”

Mani was immediately on another subject. He told me that he met most of our cricketing friends at least once a week – they all boarded his bus and bought tickets from him. He also told me that some of our cricketing friends were richer now and HAD their own bikes.

“So, what do you do when you meet our cricket friends?” I asked Mani.

“Well, remember Rajesh…that sloppy fielder? He called me home last weekend…and introduced me to his parents as the best fast bowler he has ever faced.”

“Wow…thats nice.”

“Yeah. And remember, Suresh…that left hand bastman? He met me one day in the bus and we got talking. Now, I teach his young cousin brother the fine art of bowling….and Suresh pays me Rs 200 every month. I didn`t accept it at first….but you know Suresh…he always has it his way.”

“Wow…thats nice too.”

The people Mani was referring to had been an integral part of my life twelve years back and now I didn`t even know them…leave alone caring. Some shop keepers, some LIC agents, some sales executives….Mani, sure was famous among them.

“We talk about you…you know. I keep telling my wife that you are with a newspaper and we won`t have any trouble in finding a good school for our children, when we can afford to take them out of the Government School.”

“Hmm….” I didn`t commit anything to him and changed the subject. “So, how long will you be working as a conductor?”

“I have it clearly charted out. Two more years as a conductor. By then the small property that I have will be worth at least 2 lakhs…I will buy a second hand, white Ambassador car and become a Tourist Taxi driver.”

“Good money there?”

“Yeah. And once I understand the Taxi business, I will appoint a driver to drive my Ambassador as a Tourist Taxi…and I will get a good Gujarati family and drive their family car.”

At this point, he smiled…and added: “Double income, you see.”

Mani threw his beedi down on the ground and ordered the shop keeper for a Halls candy. Then he turned towards me and asked: “One for you?”

He wouldn`t let me pay for my cigarette too. After finishing with the shop keeper, he said he wanted to visit my home and see Rekha and Rhea and have a word with them.

I don`t know why…I lied to him that they weren`t home. He was very disappointed. I had just turned down the guy, I once wanted to impress. Back then, he was my hero…and I wanted him to be my best friend….so that he would take me in his team when the cricket teams were divided every day at 4.30 p.m., so that he would ask me to open the innings if I were in his team. How time changes.

I saw him returning the Halls candy and getting his fifty paisa back.

“Why what happened?” I asked.

“I didn`t want to be smelling of beedi, while meeting my sister-in-law…that`s your wife. Now, I don`t need it.”

Not for a moment did Mani suspect that I could be lying.

“So, what is your mobile number. I will give you missed calls…I can`t spend money in calling STD….you understand that….don`t you? You will have to call me back.”

After taking down my number, he gave me a missed call and asked me to save his number. I didn`t.

After parting ways and promising to be in touch in future, I started walking back home.

For Mani it was a monumental meeting with a friend from the happiest times of his life, and for me it was another update on Twitter, Orkut & Facebook: “Just met an old friend…”

Funny, meeting Mani didn`t even give me the excitement that I get when I see ‘1 Friend Request` message on Facebook or ibibo. Requests from people, I don`t know. From people I don`t share any memory with.

Two days later, when I was back in Gurgaon I realized….Mani had all going for him. He might only be drawing Rs 7300 but he definitely has been a more successful person than I have been.

Class stays, they say…once an all rounder, always an all rounder. Maybe, that`s why when we had met….I was scared to face him.

Since this incident two years back, I have made seven trips to Madurai and during my stay there…. every day at the same time I go to that shop for a smoke. I always hope to see Mani, so that I invite him home and introduce to Rekha & Rhea as the best bowler I have faced and the best batsman I have bowled to. But, I haven`t yet been given a second chance.

Maybe, the second hand, white Ambassador is keeping him busy.

Other Funny Reads

Funny Post 1: Losing bets the good & bad way
Funny Post 2: Do Platonic Relationships really exist?
Funny Post 3: Romance in a train with a married woman
Funny Post 4: Places you visit before and after marriage
Funny Post 5: Accepting gifts from relatives

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40 thoughts on “Fame, Faith and failure

  1. The Manis of the world are many. They bat with a straight face. They dont know things like reverse sweep ! All they know is to bowl a good length ball or look to find the sweet spot every time !

    I have so many friends in Madurai too. Chaps i used to hang out with. And every now and then, a missed call lands up, and i call back. And we speak about a lost time.

    Sitting in a far away corporate office in a distant Mumbai, you still can hear the plonk. Of a cherry red ball finding the sweet spot of the bat, every time their voices are heard !

    Life is like that !

  2. touching story and a lot to reflect on. we all have a mani or two in our life and who knows how may consider us their mani 🙁 life isn’t it !!!

    BTW, I was expecting a note on your follow on “hair removal” appointment 🙂

  3. Jammy,

    A moving “Autograph” from you.

    You might have been scared to face the fast bowler and the allrounder in Mani but you have proved through this super post that you are not just a funny blog writer but you are an allrounder in writing.

    Best Regards
    The Stranger Who cannot smoke beedi on face(book)

  4. for the first time i couldnt laugh after reading your post. very touching man… the way u written is awesome. it would have been nice if u stored his number tat day.. hope u meet mani soon.. :):)

  5. Hi Jammy… for a second, i was kinda pissed off with the way you treated him initially… But, as the post came to an end…I could sense the little regret you had… Very touching and a big lesson to learn too.. Hope you meet Mani n’ the rest of the team soon. Take care and hoping to read more from you…keep up the good work! Hope Rhea and Rekha are doing great.

  6. Two quotes from the post-

    —“That’s ok. I recently got a hike after completing two years and my salary now is Rs 6300. How much is yours?”

    —He might only be drawing Rs 7300 but he definitely has been a more successful person than I have been.

    How much is Mani’s salary? 6300 or 7300?

  7. v.v.emotive incident Raj…

    its a serious matter to ponder over, the more we earn the more lonelier we are becoming; we are loosing our genuine honest and innocent friends.

  8. Jammy,

    Your first behaviors with Mani was normal, our success, our money, our high class friends with whom we started meeting in big corporate world and high class parties make us so immune about our actual feelings of our life…. and when the time comes to face real life at that time our ego, our status, our corporate friends keeps us away from our own life.

    But your feeling at the end was obvious, no matter how much we get from our money and good job, your soul will always going to demand for purity and the real emotions.

    I did so many time the same things, and later I realized why and for what. Only regrets.

    — Sohel

  9. That was great Jamie. Both the mistake part and the part that regrets for it. I hope Mani gets to see your wife and Rhea when he has some Halls candy around. Coz who knows, he might feel guilty later on and might never get a chance to post it in some social networking site!!

  10. Amazing! Feels as if I know both Mani and you, after reading it. Hope you meet him, if it’s as true as it seems to be! 🙂

  11. Aahh..now Jammy’s proving to be more than a “Comedian”…with this you’ve become an all-rounder in writing…he he…
    Good one Jammy…I guess you gotto mix up this genre too…thought-provoking reallife stories…Loved your narration…

    Keep’em coming…!!

  12. i have posted just 2 comments on ur site although i am subscribing to it. this one evoked memories of how i had treated one of my own batchmates back from college.

    I called him up.

    thanks man.

    sometimes, in between the comedies, a post like this…
    nice work.

  13. I thought of only one thing after I read this post…that it was brutally honest! The fifty paise candy halls incident left me stumped! Thanks for sharing this…

  14. Very well written Jammy….I would be surprised if any of us would do any different than you did on meeting Mani.

    I still recall a couple of years around middle school, our group of cricket friends included a few slum kids who lived under a Flyover in a Tier-B city. As kids judgements based on background/status etc was not even a factor that crossed any of our child-minds. I am not sure how I would react if I ran into one of the slum kids today (that is if I could recognize any in the first place)

    The truth is we all are awkward meeting Mani’s and also awkwards meeting people for whom we might be Mani’s. The Mani you met was free from this awkwardness, something you wouldn’t find easily in big cities like Delhi, Bangalore or Mumbai. Usually in big cities, both sides are awkward in such meetings however given that we are socially adept at hiding this awkwardness, fake monosyllables and niceties usually close the meeting.

  15. I have been thinking what to write in response to this post, Jammy. But it was impossible to put into words my thoughts.. So i will just say that I was touched. Good work Jammy.

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  18. Wow, that was endearing… straight from the heart.. very diff from your usual posts.. …

    i guess thats Life!!! Madurai brings back some wonderful memories for me too, did my 1st 2yrs of schooling there…

  19. Very touchy Jammy!! This is my first comment here on ouchmytoe, although I have read most of your posts.

    This one is really different from the rest, and I do pray that you meet Mani as soon as possible, and when you do , do write a post on that as well.

    As of now, can I expect a funny post soon, to brighten up the moods of your readers?? thanks!

  20. Indeed, this is a touching story and shows how people transform.. We have to accept the change but at first you shouldn’t have lied to him.. (that’s acceptable in some in shocking situations..)

    Friends are forever, some cruise along and some are just unable to stand on their feet, they are destined to the nature’s dirty play! Sad to see Mani in this form.. Wish him luck.

  21. Great post! Very informative and it could be applied in online businesses. Although persuasion is kind of hard to do,
    you actually need patience too so that you will be able to continue convincing people who does not want to be convinced.

  22. I don’t know if its touching or nice post or both. I just know that even after being a dude I almost cried remembering my golden days and my Manis and Rajans.
    Thanks for the post 🙂

  23. Hey Jammy, I know I discovered you quite late….
    and u left me with no option but to comment on this post…
    Right now I am so moved with this post that i could almost Imagine Tomishra (thats me) in your place, meeting my old friends and not being very glad about it….
    I am Just 24 and pretty well to do. Today i realised success is difficult to handle, so may be (dont know about the chances) I will try and be a better human being when it comes to old link or like you said “s a monumental meeting with a friend from the happiest times “….
    Cheers!!!!

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