Kafez

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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Thursday, 31 August 2006

Early comedy notes - A slice of Mumbai on Flinders Street, Melbourne

I wrote these rough comedy notes about 2 years ago on a visit to Melbourne from England. Before England, I had lived in Australia for 5 years.

I was shocked to see that Flinders Street in Melbourne that owns the famous Flinders Train station and forms the core group of tourists with its lively shops, cafes & boutiques had become a little India of sorts, on one of its popular corners.

I first observed this when I saw a Hindustani youth peeking into an internet cafe and peering hard at me. His lightning eyes appeared to shoot balls of fire. I was greeted with a series of exaggerated winks and blinks. Other courtship gestures like the raising of eyebrows to outer space level, and grinning vampire teeth followed.

The pronounced Hindi accent spoken so loudly caught my astonishment and confused me in the middle of Melbourne. Hindi is my mother's language.

I rediscovered this slice of satire in my laptop. I was having a difficult time in my life and didn't realise till now that I was already sketching comedy. So here they are...my first rough notes.

No wonder when I asked the owner of a popular cafe if I could include him in my novel, he had looked at me anxiously and said yes, but only if I showed him my notes first. Ha-Ha!

I hope you will enjoy my preliminary comedy writing and tomorrow, I'll have an update on my writing submissions so far. Sorry all in caps as I lifted the lot straight out of Word.

In a nutshell, if my book is published, I think India is going to beat me. Give me a "big tight slap" or "one good wallop & send her (me) flying to Siberia" as is so often the classic script of exasperated Indian parents who threaten discipline on a wayward child.


Tea anyone?

My Diary Notes

A SLICE OF MUMBAI HAS COME TO FLINDERS STREET.


THE SCENE IS SET DIRECTLY ACROSS THE TRAIN STATION. FOR A CLOSE-UP LOOK, YOU WILL HAVE TO EYE THE END OF THE PAVEMENT WHERE GIRLS SELL ROASTED NUTS, A MUSICIAN BANGS ON A BROKEN GUITAR AND A BIG ISSUE VENDOR WAVES HIS MAGAZINES IN A VAIN HOPE SOMEONE NOTICES HIS FLOURESCENT GREEN OUTFIT.

NEARBY, ARE INTERNET CAFÉS, SPECIALIST AND HOBBY STORES A POPULAR ATM MACHINE, TRAVEL AGENCIES, AND INTERESTING WINDOW DISPLAYS THAT HOUSE BOHEMIAN SHOPS; SELLING FOR INSTANCE, YESTERDAYS’ HATS.

SOON YOUR EYE MAY DART TO ANOTHER ANGLE WHERE YOU COULD HAVE MISTAKEN A TRAFFIC LIGHT JUNCTION FOR THE GROUNDS OF A KASHMIRI COLLEGE HOUSE CONSIDERED COOL AND WHERE FRENCH AND ENGLISH, SPOKEN IN THAT SING-SONG GIRLISH ACCENT, LIKE A FAINT LITTLE SOPARANO, ROCKETING INTO SPACE AND SWINGING ON CAROUSELS, BEFORE PLUNGING INTO AN OCEAN OF UNIVERSAL UNDERSTANDING. IN SHORT, WHAT YOU CALL THE HINDI LANGUAGE.

OF LATE, THIS TINY JUNCTION HAS WORN ITS DESIGNER LABELS WITH PRIDE, BECOME HIP AND HAPPENING ALMOST OVERNIGHT FOR GROUPS OF SRI LANKAN AND HINDUSTANI STUDENTS THAT HOVER TOGETHER LIKE A PACK OF HOUSE-TRAINED WOLVES, WAITING FOR A SHARMILA TAGORE WITH FLYING SAREE, TO RIDE BY ON A VESPA.

SPOT ONE AND YOU CAN EXPECT A LOW WHISTLE, NUDGES, PRESLEY FLICKS, ANIMATED HAND GESTURES AND TOOTHPASTE GRINS. JUST LIKE WHAT YOU WOULD EXPECT TO SEE IN A BOLLYWOOD FILM. BUT THESE, LETME ASSURE YOU IS THE REAL THING. I MYSELF, HAVE BEEN SUBJECTED TO SILENTLY SPOKEN LOVE LETTERS ON THIS VERY ROAD.

ONE WOULD HAVE IMAGINED SUCH A POSSIBILITY IN ROME WHERE VESPAS RULE BY THE HUNDREDS BUT HERE ON FLINDERS STREET? FOR EXCITEMENT AND DRAMA, YOU ARE MORE LIKELY TO SPOT THE WATTLE PARK NO.70 TRAM ROLL AND RUMBLE ON BY; DISGRUNTLED AND GRUMBLNG.

INSTEAD, BOYS IN STURDY WINTER JACKETS FLICK THEIR SHAH RUKH KHAN (INDIAN HEARTHROB) HAIRSTYLES INTO SWINGING MOTION, COMB THEIR SIDEBURNS WITH EXAGGERATED HAND GESTURES AND PAT THEIR FRIENDS ON THE BACK IN TRANSLATION WHICH WOULD SAY “WHAT’S HAPPENING, GOOD OLD CHAP? AND EYE THE PRETTY GIRLS THAT GO BY – SLY WINKS ON THE READY.

FRIENDS LEAVE AND OTHERS COME LIKE A DIVALI OPEN HOUSE IN MALAYSIA. NAMASTE; SATSRIKAL; NAMASTE; SATRIKAL; HELLO, WELCOME, GOOD MORNING, GOODBYE, COME BACK AGAIN. JUST YESTERDAY,

I SPOTTED 3 LANKY CHAPS FRAGILE AND WITH BEANPOLE FINGERS HAVING A CHINESE WHERE I WAS, AT THE TINY DELI THAT SHOWS CRICKET ON TELEVISION. IN A FEW SECONDS WHILE STRUGGLING OVER NOODLES, THEY BECAME INSTANT MONSTERS. THE THREE STRANGERS REUNITED IN A SUDDEN FRIENDSHIP TO CURSE AND SWEAR THE BUMBLING CRICKET PLAYER. I COULDN’T TELL IF IT WAS INDIA OR SRI LANKA. “BUGGER THE OLD FOOL, ONE HEAVILY MOUSTACHED YOUTH CURSED IN THAT SING-SONG PANSY VOICE OF AN ENGLISH QUIVER. HE WAVED HIS FIST ANGRILY.

“HE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING TO HIS GAME… STUPID”
THE SCREAM OF THE THREE BEANPOLES BECAME LOUD AND ANIMATED. THE NOODLES WERE NEVER FINISHED.

ANOTHER DAY WHEN I WAS IN JOLLY J’S.
HAVING A MUFFIN FOR TEA, A SKINNY YOUTH OF ENORMOUS HUNCHBACK PROPORTONS & CURLY OILED HAIR SO GREASY - ONE WONDERS IF IT HAD BEEN DUNKED INTO KEROSENE AND WEARING THE FATTEST OF BLACK-FRAMED SPECTACLES - HE TOOK IT UPON HIMSELF TO ORDER THE GENEROUS SLAP OF RICE AND CURRY SPECIAL AT AU$6.90.

HE THEN GREETED, M WHO OWNED THE PLACE AND WAS HIMSELF SRI LANKAN, PROFUSELY. “I HAVE BEEN TOLD SRI LANKAN FOOD WAS ESPECIALLY GOOD AND THEY HAVE THIS HABIT OF WANTING TO KEEP FEEDING YOU.”

M STAYED WEARY AND CAUTIOUS.

THE LAD'S VOICE THAT HONED POLISHED AND TUNED THAT ONE LINE INTO SUCH MAGNETIC RHYTHMS COMING FROM AN INDIAN ACCENT THAT COULD NOT BE REMOVED, YOU COULD HAVE THOUGHT HE WAS SINGING A CHORUS FROM THE LATEST HINDI COLLECTION OR AS A BACK-UP FOR NEW WAVE. HE NOW GRINNED SHYLY. “DO YOU HAVE ANY

RELATIVES IN SRI LANKA,” HE PRODDED MY OWNER FRIEND, M. “I AM MYSELF AM GOING IN TWO MONTHS. I AM GETTING MARRIED AND I WILL BE BRINGING BACK MY BRIDE TO SHOW YOU AND MY FRIENDS.”

AND ALL I COULD THINK OF WAS, GOODNESS, HE HAD SUNG A WHOLE CHORUS.

Alleluia...alleluia...

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