Oodles Of Wisecracking Marinated With Malyali Dishes

The chapter on Bengaluru would be incomplete if I did not write about the lovely Malyali people I was staying here with. Uncle is TopCop and Aunty is TopChef. I never knew staying with ‘oldies’ would make me feel salt-pepper-ish. They were more young and in sync than most people of my generation.

Every evening after coming back from work TopCop and I would crinkle our eyebrows and read fascinating articles on India, Law, Political Affairs, ‘tidbits’ and even look up interesting puzzles. TopCop has been the recipient of a number of awards and has contributed a lot towards law enforcement in society. He stands tall in a crowd of corrupt, insensitive, brainless officials who are cursed everyday by the citizenry and media alike. A man who lives by the adage: Simple Living High Thinking and of course with his trademark humour. In the four weeks that I stayed with them, the first two weeks TopCop and I read various interesting articles written by him, his colleagues, his grandson and friends. The last two weeks were spent in watching Indian Journalism at play. I would have to devote a separate paragraph to this.

If my favourite columnist, Jug Suraiya can call himself a worm in the vast ocean of Indian Journalism, then I am a mere bacteria.  This paragraph might just ruin my chances of writing  if a journalist continues to read further. As a disclaimer, nothing is malafide; it is all in jest and in the spirit of Freedom of Speech and Expression (took a leaf out of the Jaipur Lit Fest 2012 brouhaha)

At 9 pm, the Angry Young Man of Indian Journalism would roll up his sleeves and gather the stage for a Round Table Conference which usually ends in everybody shouting at everybody without letting each one complete their argument. TopCop would nod his head and wittingly add that the angry young man has given his judgment!! The panel would keep on addressing, arguing, shouting at the Angry Young Man but behold!! The Angry Young man will keep on pressing his point giving extra footage to bromidic topics already debated and thrown in the waste basket. TopCop believes that ‘these people’ in the name of liberalism and pseudo-elitism would rant up a row on any and everything that comes in the eye of the Indian Media. He says that issues should be looked at intelligently. TopCop in fact has even been called to sit on the innumerable panel debates held by separate news channels. He refuses to attend and I think his reasons are pretty much justified. One of the panellists even called the angry young man as a ‘liberal fundamentalist’. Democracy represents tolerance for all ideologies whether liberalism or fundamentalism till it threatens to dismantle the very foundation of statehood. Similar panels like these are aired on Headlines Today, NDTV 24×7, CNN IBN. In fact the number of times Oprah Winfrey was lauded on Indian Media even for her digs at India left TopCop and me wonder in amazement that, will Indians be forever star-struck with a ‘foreigner’ and in this case a powerful personality that too. TopCop was disgusted how the Salman Rushdie affair turned out to be an ugly sling match among Rushdie (the master of the controversy), the Rajasthan Police (blame-game), Maharashtra Police (Blame-game again), Indian Government (playing Gandhi’s 3 monkeys for every issue), Deobandi(struggling too hard at the cost of peace to preserve their culture).

Top Cop pointed out gross errors on the usage of words by the news channels. He made me see the institution I still would love to be a part of, in a completely different lens. He says that even if journalism today has become all about TRPs, beating around banal points of argument will still catalyse any educated person to switch channels. If sensationalism is aimed at the less-educated then the media is insulting the same persons it professes to make aware, inform and educate. If sensationalising issues and thumping tables on a panel will catch the eye of the common educated Indian man then it is a sad presumption indeed. TopCop in fact pointed out glaring mistakes in the headlines of a much revered English Daily, which in fact are commonplace. Calmness of mind and swiftness in approach is lacking in the functioning of the Indian Media. In a fast paced world, the rush to catch, report news items has made those in the profession a hassled lot. I honestly did not know whether to be elated about this revelation or feel embarrassed.

On a lighter and lesser activist note, TopCop showed me old pictures of himself in his atire. He loves his daughter a LOT, who is currently settled, overseas. His son followed his footsteps and is too serving the country. After showing me pictures of ‘those days’, he would end on wicked note by saying: “Aha! See! How thick was my hair then!! No wonder Aunty married me”. TopChef would grin and shoo the whole anecdote away with a wave of her hand, but with a shade of crimson on her cheeks.

When I think of penning down words for TopChef, all I can think of is the hypnotic aroma of curry leaves, haldi, spices, crackling away on the pan in her den. I believe her kitchen is where TopChef feels at ease with the world. Her kitchen is like this bottled up genie waiting for the wave her magic fingers on and off the stove. Her fish curry, chicken, daal, apam, apple crumble pie will always remain etched on my taste buds.

This home away from home gave impetus to what I wanted to do in life. I achieved a sense of direction and fulfilment staying with TopCop and TopChef. As I boarded the train back to my hometown every memory came racing by as if I had pressed the rewind button…If only I knew about it earlier I would have made more the most of it!! In short 3367-B was a potpourri of love, affection garnished with unending humour and wit.

I love you TopCop and TopChef!!

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