The Robin Williams of 23 Jodhpur Park
Int. of 23 JP in the 2nd floor Veranda of our grandfather – Day
Two boys playing cricket in a sober manner, Bappada bowling and Bubaida( my younger brother) batting.
Bappa try some legspin
Concentrate bubai…either on your commentary or on the batting!!
(Imitating the commentary style of Geoffrey Boycott commentating for Arjuna Ranatunga at the same he has became Ranatunga in playing, batting against England. Supposedly Bappadada is Ian Botham )
Hitting the ball slowly starts his commentary : Ranatunga strikes Bothan driving off the left foot , see that’s how he clicks his runs sound and sensible
(Makes the cheer sound of the crowd by his mouth)
Bumbada enters the veranda excitingly
Oh you guys are here that’s what I thought. Bubai give me the bat,let me show you how Ranatunga strikes a four
Bubaida frowning (Thinking what to say)
No bro don’t throw the ball outside like you always do. Nandua(driver cum helper) is not here we have to run down again to bring the ball. Last time you have lost the new ball. where did you throw bhaiti (colloquial word for brother) ?
Leave it, will get a new one.Letti (looking at Bubaida) let me the bat)
Bubaida (hands over the bat to his 2 yr elder brother
Bappada ( three droplets of sweat on his nose)
Go slow bhaiti don’t throw the ball again
Okay okay will see!!
As Bappada gives a medium to slow pace ball Bumbada hits it hard as usual the ball drops outside landing somewhere on the streets
Bubaida continuing his commentary
What a shot to the covers lovely drive outside the ground never to be found !!!
(making the cheer sounds of the crowd coming from by his mouth)
Again….who will go now to get the ball?
Babu sir is coming I have to go up.!!
Invariably no one goes to bring the ball and the game gets over for them.
This scene has never faded from our minds. Today Bappada sitting on London soil reminds me of this Scene which took place every Sunday morning with both Bubaida and him playing the game in a sensible and sober manner, how my elder one joins throwing a hit obscuring the ball rather making it invisible out of sight later halting the game. But in this chapter is the story of that ‘Jack’ who had many traits in his case he became the master of all.
The Caddick walk
He is my younger brother who was engaged in copying Geoffrey Boycott at the same time concentrating his game appearing as Arjuna Ranatunga or sometimes impersonating the cricketing stars of ‘those times’ !! Such was the multi-tasking skill of a minor with a full attention to his job. The iron crusted study table of our third floor felt the touch of a minor who everyday faithfully cleaned it with much vigour after his lessons. Yes he is my younger brother my only mate then in our house. Ma tells me when he was born he looked like a blob of butter or aptly a mozzarella ball. I can confirm that as even strain and stress of failed to take from him that cheesy slice of glow. My eldest brother bordada quotes ‘Bubai Babu was a very sweet child when young. An absolutely cute fair face with jet red lips. He was a very well-behaved child and used to be mostly in the laps of seniors at home when young. As he grew a little he joined the gang of Bappa and Bumba and started to be their assistant in most operations. He was sometimes bullied by his elder brothers but it did not deter him from learning all the tricks of the trade’. Over a considerate period of time I loved to believe he was my mom’s favourite even dad’s.
As a child of his age with the influence of his brothers he too carried forward the legacy of mastering more than one sport. Bubai still enjoys thinking how he together with Bordada won the Badminton doubles, how he played in the nets and Bordada at the back. He had tremendous placing ability and their duet (Bordada and Bubaidada) was unbeaten for about 4 years and not just that the other pairs couldn’t even score more than 5-6 points against them. So it used to be a cake-walk for the eldest and the youngest of 23 JP.
In our back courtyard every weekend the JP thek players together with Mitra boys played Cricket. Bubaida takes a trip down to this back Courtyard where he used to throw legs-pin to his eldest brother Bordada , the ball used to come in contact with the dilapidated bricks of the back walls diverting and going to the other side. Bordada believed he had a hand for ‘Googly’. He started playing sports at a very young age and was initially very fond of Pakistani leg-spinner Abdul Qadir and his bowling action. One day, to my surprise, I saw him practising and mimicking the action of Qadir and it was near perfect. So, Abdul Qadir’s influence as a leg-spinner got him to bowl leggies. He was a very good leg-spin bowler and a neat batsman who followed the rules of the game.
The back-yards of 23 JP was where he learned his bowling and batting. He had a good front foot defence and when his leggies pitched right they were very dangerous. Bordada continues saying ‘He has bowled for hours to me when I was playing division cricket and I thank him for that. With age, he started to walk with a swagger in his rear and that resembled the English cricketer Andrew Caddick and I started to call him Caddick and the name soon spread all round Jodhpur Park. That Caddick type resemblance used to be seen when he was bowling and when he used to go to his run up thinking what would be the next delivery!! He was a thinking cricketer.’
But I felt Bubaida loved football more than any other sports, telling me few times as kids, football is one uniting sport among all, it is the greatest sport on earth , considering or uplifting Diego Maradona as a GOD and not a mortal. As a football enthusiast 1986 Mexico WC seeing Maradona shooting the second goal against England where he dribbled past half the English team and running 40 yards scored possibly the best individual goal ever to be seen in any Soccer game was a life changing event in his life . Since then his dream was to become a Diego Maradona. He imitated Maradona tremendously, his facial gestures, movements, style of speaking was indistinguishable with Maradona. One day, he took to football and my father got him enrolled in the famous football coaching where he started playing serious football. Bordada says with neat dribble and right grammar in his passes, he was more of a mid-fielder who used to create opportunities for his strikers.
Master of All
However in his teens when others were conjuring naughty tricks he considered studying and mastering mathematical equations as a better choice.His home tutor Babusir has helped him to polish up and get a master-hand in mathematical riddles, formulas, tricks, puzzles and reasoning. When others in West Bengal board used to fear shivering to solve the tough joint-entrance-standard riddles my brother considered the subject as a playoff. Another teacher Uma miss came into his life as a Bengali tutor on the other-hand together with the language she taught him something deeper ‘anything that just costs money is cheap ,try not to become a man of success rather become a man of value’. Such was his tutorials and guide books. On another context Bubaida started growing learning rather mastering some unique weirdo games like Juggling with 4 balls , conjuring magic tricks with cards, finishing white bundle of sheets ‘dista’ playing book cricket together with his legendary commentaries, Chinese chequer, he got a title holder ‘lette’ as he was a champ in spinning top in Bengali we call it ‘lattu’.
All forms of madness, bizarre habits were justified by him as he was an out an out perfectionist in those ‘out of the ordinary games’. In recent times mostly mindless expensive indoor games have taken over these simple yet ‘in a class by itself’ ones. He and my eldest brother bear only 2 years of an age gap. My elder brother could be the brat in the house but even-more deeper bratty conducts got hidden amidst the slanting eyes of my younger brother. For the first time I will expose today the juvenile crimes that both the ‘brothers in arm’ planned and finally executed to perfection. Prior to the D-day day I as a 6 yr old used to notice a change in both my brothers attitude – both the boys speaking in a silent mode constantly shutting their rooms disabling me to enter their zone or any conversations. I felt sad and left out, nonetheless an eerie feeling cropped up in my tiny brain something was seriously wrong with my brothers. In 1989 on one outcast sky sleepy-like afternoon when my father was merrily snorting away bubaida with silent foot movements went close to his dad, swiftly sneaked from his wallet (kept under the pillow) some odd 900 rupees.
Such a planned robbery was done to buy a latest fancy rifle the boys saw in wonderland toys (imported from HongKong). How smoothly Bubaida executed the act both of them smilingly went up to the shopkeeper at the Wonderland Toys asking them to pack the rifle in-exchange of the cash. The sales man in the store was very well acquainted with my mother as she used to get all the latest doll collections for me during that phase. The story takes a change when my elder brother advised his younger one to disclose this matter to our parents as subconsciously he was feeling guilty. My younger brother patted his shoulder saying ‘ Don't worry Bumba I am there with you, I have decided something’.His master plan was to hide the riffle on our roof, whenever possible the boys will go to the roof to play with their latest acquired toy believing, that is how no one will come to know, and that’s how rifle will get a dark hidden history only known by the boys and of course the house will keep the secret forever. To their disappointment, this dark secret only lasted 2 days, it was the shopkeeper who informed my mom of their fulfillment or the thing that was indulged upon.
Both the brothers in unison have created several such havocs in our household. I feel their childhood in 23 jodhpur park had been a typical biography relying upon ‘their’ notorious memories and anecdotes they have invented which contains a high degree of fiction yet these stories happens to be non-fiction. I remember one such ‘non-fiction’ where Bubaida from his reliable source got hold of a toll-free number (that’s what he thought or was informed) calling in that number would tell you about the future. My younger one had again executed the entire act taking his elder one in confidence. They have asked several such questions that have commonly cropped up in a boy’s head of their age – ‘How both will fare in their exams, what will they become in the future, If bubaida can become someone like Maradona…many more on those lines. Little did the innocent heads know: A fortune-teller means a braggart anyway? Didn’t they know that a donkey can’t do but braying, a wolf can’t do but howling, a horse can’t do but neighing, and a fortune-teller can’t do but telling lies. Their questionnaire continued for almost 4 hours making them fully satisfied.
No one in 23 Jodhpur had got a hint of this non-fiction show till the end of the month when we received the telephone bill of 22,000 rupees showing us the details of telephonic numbers that have been used. My uncle (Jethu) while scrutinising the bill found out a particular number where the outgoing call continued for 240 mins. That day was perhaps one of their darkest days getting thrashed left and right by their mother Surprisingly my father didn’t show any sign of anger instead secretively asked his two sons –‘Tell me boys what did they says about your future’. I know he must have had great difficulty in paying the amount at the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents. When my mom came as the mother-tyrant to us our dad always remained a storm-free tranquil wave explaining us why my mother is on her warpath rather softly pin-pointing the degree of our wrong-doings.
His Comedy Shows
Bubaida is indeed the Hollywood’s Robin Williams of our house. No one in the house can get spared by his funny mimicry acts, down the years he skilfully equipped his mimicry. Now his lawyer wife also investigated that none can escape from his comedy shows. I can still close my eyes and visualise those ‘jumping for joy’ evenings we as a family used to spend time at 23 JP. It runs like a film in my eyes of Bubaida copying Baba’s snorting habits, Ma’s never-ending way of speaking without comma or a full stop, caricaturing my ‘weird teenage walk’, Bumbada’s mannerisms, my aunt’s way of saying ‘khabi na’ with a big pause (meaning don’t you want to eat) various kinds of exaggerated parodies that almost cured the multitudes of ills. His impersonation can even cause you stomach pain due to your own howling laughter, tickling you pink or can break the roof down by ones chuckling: a sullen mood can transform into a jubilant one. All I can tell him today ‘You are given a little spark of madness you mustn’t lose it’. His little spark of madness was seen sometimes in fact lots of times by 23 JP.
Let me introduce a mystic tale: people lost at sea often claim they feel a presence lifting them to the surface, breathing life into their bodies while they are waiting for help to arrive. They call this presence “The Guardian“. In his chapter Joyda aka Soumya Dasgupta came to my brother’s life as Kevin Costner in Guardian.Joyda has sketched out his perfect persona .Sometimes his family and friends assumingly say ‘I know him’ on the contrary no one have tried to know him that well except a scoopful of scanty. Joyda was his Maths teacher and has watched him very closely. He further says ‘He is very different from his brothers introvert at times, self-absorbed and has two ways of looking at things. For some he would just pay no attention, for a few things he would be damn serious and focused.
He is a persona rare…again in my words he is the great Gatsby whose overwhelming laugh-the-minute, out of common nature draws attention to those people or pals who feels this tender curiosity to cultivate him quoting ‘lets show our friendship for this man’.
The American Dream
He probably DREAMT an American dream. Hence, in 2010 he spent almost 2 years on secondment in Chicago and later went for regular short-term assignments to various parts of the US. He tells me the America he loves still exits, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America he love is for trend towards its process following, attention to detail, diversity, pluralism and the image of salad bowl instead .
When others rave for the most popular urban agglomeration of New York city, LA, Miami my brother was totally enraptured by the hospitality of Baton rouge city of Louisiana. He got intrigued with the Cajun cooking , an authentic Cajun meal is usually a three-pot affair, with one pot dedicated to the main dish, one dedicated to steamed rice, special made sausages, or some seafood dish, and the third containing whatever vegetable is plentiful or available. Shrimp and pork sausage are staple meats used in a variety of dishes. It only there he ventured into New Orleans blues.
While doing my research I found out as a style New Orleans blues is primarily driven by piano and horn, enlivened by Caribbean rhythms and Dixieland music. It is generally cheerful in delivery regardless of the subject matter, with a laid back tempo and complex rhythms falling just behind the beat. Vocals range from laid-back crooning to full-throated gospel shouting. This music is very unique. B.B King always holds a first rank in his list of blues players, though he still believes Stevie Ray Vaughan a rocking powerhouse of a guitarist who gave blues a burst of momentum in the ’80s, with influence still felt long after his tragic death, Carlos Santana‘s pioneering in a fusion of rock and Latin American music may have jolted him, the list goes on with Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd ,hearing Eric Clapton unplugged and many more.
He made himself well equipped in craps game during his reality visits in Vegas,barbecue going in Chicago winter nights, blues playing in New Orleans, getting lost in the humongous rock layered barren landscape of Grand Canyon remains indelible in his ‘life book’. It was a fun set, on a serious note the place taught him the importance of time; Wasting time is robbing oneself, that we are all travelling through time, all we can do is do our best relishing this remarkable ride called life. Though west is where he loves to go, having watched all cult movies, world-war movies, historical ones yet the director who casted every actor personally, acted brilliantly behind the camera, designed his own sets and costumes, operated the camera, edited each frame, composed his own music, and even drew his own posters: Yes you are right Satyajit Ray remains the epitome of his world of cinema.
A beautiful Page got written
The most beautiful phenomenon is his life page was written when he met in 2012 with his companion for life.. Recently I came to know from his-other-half the entire episode of’ how they met’. The pronouncement of this chapter is necessary for his part as it will help all of us to glimpse into a new window. It may appear an ordinary story nothing filmy or not at all ‘ love at first sight genre’, no tension or conflicts involved but a gradual process of knowing each other like the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, they both had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with that summer of 2012.
They met on the ‘not happening’ matrimony platform, my brother one day started interacting with someone probably getting fascinated thinking she is an ILS ian( Indian Law School) or may her deep dark eyes was the cause.On the other hand the girl thought chatting with a stranger is a total unreal affair it would be better to delete his profile from her matrimony list. On that moment when she was about to delete his profile she found out my brother has updated his picture and that he appeared as a sober guy. But as they say appearances are deceptive she insisted they must meet instead of preoccupying themselves into online chats. On meeting him she disclosed me for the first ‘it was like knowing someone for long’ ‘he made me feel at home’. This one meeting resulted in few more get-together, which culminated in frequent visits ending in seeing each-other every day after work. He smiled understandingly much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of ‘ standing beside you’ that you may come across once or twice in lifespan. What struck her was not the happening element in a man but a homely, matured side in my brother slowly getting acquainted with his tiny sparks of downright funny behavioural pattern, supposedly in my imagination I think their eyes met, and they stared together at each other, alone in space. With an effort she glanced down at the table smiling at his mimicry to every people he comes across. Along with his funny side he is probably the most serious guy when he comes to commitment.
More of him...!!
The reason I never got stunned to every success he stepped in , was, since childhood he was consistently a good student and left no room for success to takeoff. I may loudly speak’ I know my little brother well’ I hardly know any of his achievements and accords. Joyda gave me the knowledge last night about his recent successful ventures. Together with the synergy of his team Bubaida cracked a tool which was hard to pick at the same was considered niche, how my brother pulled up the challenge mastered the tool, today he became a specialist at that, which led to his growth and fame at work. His designation has reached a high summit to which I say ‘’he feels he has found his niche in life”.He awarded me with a brand new model of iPad 2 now my best friend always lying beside. He remained my parents little boy even today, oh the hell! how Ma and Baba were worried about him when he was off to Chicago for a one year secondment, Ma told me how the chill of Chicago air pricks him hurting his bones. To the extent Ma calling me in the busiest hour in Mumbai crying that Bubai (that what she named him) is all in solitary despair and should send my elder brother just to enquire if everything is fine in Chicago. Remembering how foodie he is she packs every palatable pastries that comes her way. My father searching the right ripe mango for him or in other matter Ma cooking his much-loved prawn curry.
As for me however in 2012 Summer 25 April he broke my psychometric theories of him remaining unmarried. I was skeptical but further thinking if he discovered a girl to grow old with she must have had some caliber to please him apart from being a lawyer or even holding a top grade position in a reputed law firm. Simple, courteous, responsible, with a spiritual bent of mind that she is. Yes I was right, she happens to be a perfect match to fit with my modern age ‘Siddhartha Gautama’. I can hammer out concluding he is what he is : an individual, unique and different, with a lineal history of an ancestral influence, his finer liking of real world,desires, a sportsman , not to forget a good cook, movie buff , and of special experiences, all of the above mentioned words , he is the sum total. I want to tell him life is a tragedy when seen in a close-up but a comedy in a long shot…I as your little sis would always love to see you doing comedies in both the shots.