Wednesday, 3 May 2017


Quite deplorable what is happening on our borders these days. The news of the beheading of Indian soldiers and the mutilation of their bodies... Quite disgusting. Reminds one of medieval times... However, not worth discussing these things here. Let us change the subject... Let us talk of something else...

Harrison Ford was asked once by someone why he demanded such an enormous amount of money for acting in a film. In those days, he was charging 20 million. His reply was: “I get paid 20% for my talent and the rest for waiting” …

Yes, a man has to be endowed with a fair amount of patience to be an actor. There are long waits between shots, between scenes and long waits sometimes even between assignments. These long waits are filled by actors on the sets by chatting, reading, going over the script or the scenes. In Russia, in the days I was studying there, actors used to play chess during these long waits. I picked up that habit from them. If I can find a partner in the studio well and good, otherwise I play online on the computer. 

Amir Khan, loveable guy, is a keen chess player and an excellent one at that. He takes his chess seriously and is fiercely competitive. He has even played the world champ on one occasion and went well into the middle game with him! Which is an incredible achievement. He is the only one I haven’t won against during shootings, but he is still under the illusion that he beat me fair and square, whereas the truth is that I let him win because I didn’t have the heart to see him lose!!! (A lame excuse but a good one!!!)

But good players are rare during shootings. More often than not, I am forced to log on and play on the Internet. And so, the other day I bumped into a Pakistani. They are good players and take chess seriously. But I have a strategy. I often get the better of them by using  choice Punjabi cuss words during play. I rattle them with my uncouth chatter so badly that they are usually  infuriated and make a blunder which I take advantage of and then beat him. 

But this Pakistani whom I bumped into was different. He was a cool cat. He was silent and took his time over each move without reacting to my uncouth commentary. I typed out (I am translating the dialog into English for the convenience of the readers): “Play fast idiot! Otherwise take up some other game! Chess requires brains which you seem to lack!”

I thought this would prompt the fellow to start a verbal battle but it didn't. He was silent. He made each move after much deliberation. I continued instigating him with choice epithets but they didn’t seem to have any effect on him. He kept making his moves without a word.

By the thirtieth move the Pakistani had a much superior position on the board. He was making his moves fast now. I was the one who was taking time. By the fortieth move my game was more or less lost. There was only one way out. I must insult him so badly that he might lose his concentration and make a blunder.
“You Mother------!” I typed out in the chat column, “Aren’t you ashamed to play with me? You have lost three wars with India! Want to lose another one?”

He was silent for a while and then he finally spoke:

“Sir, kindly do not use such filthy language! How old are you?”
“I am forty-five!” I lied.
“I am eighty-five! Almost double your age! Didn't your parents teach you manners? Which part of India do you live in?”
“I live in Mumbai!” I typed out hesitatingly.
 “Which city in Pakistan do you live in?”  I asked him.
“I live in Rawalpindi. But I was born and brought up in Bombay. Which part of Bombay do you live in?”
“In Juhu” I replied somewhat puzzled by the direction the conversation was taking.

The Pakistani continued: “I used to live in Dadar. We shifted to Pakistan after the Partition”. There was silence for a while and then he continued: "How is my Bombay now? I remember it very fondly and miss it very much! Are you a Maharashtrian”?
"No. Our family settled in Bombay after the Partition. My early childhood was spent in Rawalpindi" I told him.
“"I am from Bombay now settled in Rawalpindi and you are from Rawalpindi now settled in Bombay!" he mused
“I still have a faint memory of the street where we used to live in Rawalpindi. It was called CHACHHI MOHALLA”
“It is now called AJMAL KHAN ROAD” he replied.

We were both silent for a while. Then I broke the silence.

"Forgive me... I said a lot of bad things to you... I apologize!"

He could checkmate me easily now. It was time for me to resign. Instead of doing that he typed out something that took me completely off guard:
“You are from Rawalpindi and I am from Bombay! We should greet one another amicably! I don’t know why this perpetual battle between our two countries! I am glad I met a fellow-Bombayite!” he said finally. “And it is nice to met a Pindi-wala!” I replied

I waited for him to checkmate me. Instead he typed out: “I don't feel like checkmating you. I resign. You win, I lose. Forgive me but I am shutting down my computer. I can’t see the keyboard clearly!”  And saying this he resigned and switched off his computer. I switched off mine too. I couldn’t see my keyboard clearly either.

A man from a different generation... A man, I am sure, as appalled as I was when I heard of what was going on on the border...

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