Friday, November 24, 2006

Nuns in a Brothel

One of the most hilarious – and clever – definitions of serendipity I’ve come across wasn’t in a dictionary. I forget where I read it but, at my age, I can be excused for the occasional bout of amnesia, I guess.

Serendipity, it said, is like looking for a needle in a haystack and finding the farmer’s daughter instead!

And there must have been a hundred different moments when you’ve been serendipitous but perhaps not realised it. From the Sunday morning rummage that reveals a long-forgotten photograph of college friends to the salary slip that surprisingly shows a reversal of last month’s tax deduction (wishful thinking perhaps but so what!) we’ve all had deliciously wonderful reasons to rejoice.

Now consider just the opposite. When a cold shower of reality strikes you… like the wit who made up ‘chandni raat, haathon mein haath… saamne khada ladki ka baap!’ Or when the harried, hen-pecked husband steals a beer with his colleagues at a makeshift bar in the parking lot only to be caught in the glare of headlights as his wife unexpectedly turns up to pick him up from work! Poor soul. Un-cheers?

I haven’t found a word for these horrendous moments yet but the closest analogy I have come across – again my memory fails me and I must remember to do something about it before I tie myself up in knots – is the headline you see above… nuns in a brothel.

Was it Summer of 42 where a group of adolescent boys discovering their manhood also discover a teacher – or perhaps a preacher? Doesn’t matter really ’cause I think you know what I mean.

They say serendipity also has its origins in the old name for Sri Lanka – seren dwip. and in the fact that some sailor navigating his way to India via the stars stumbled on this gem of an island instead.

If this very sailor came to any of our Indian cities today, he might even contribute to the ‘nuns in a brothel’ community. The mosquitoes that plague Delhi’s posh golf courses despite its pretensions to be a world-class capital getting a makeover for the 2010 Commonwealth Games give this ancient Mughal bastion the same feeling one gets at bumping into Shahnaz Husain. One look at this peddler of beauty trying valiantly to reverse time is enough to remind you of that immortal line ‘khandhaar bata rahein hai ki imarat buland thi.’ Look at Bombay and the human road dividers in Mahim late at night – almost tempting the night-riding Salmans or Alistairs to dispatch them into another life. Some cities manage to look filthier at night and, Queen’s Necklace not withstanding, Mumbai must be high on the list of cops-in-a-dance-bar syndrome.

You could also call it the Ash-as-Umrao Jaan condition. Some film rag writes that Rekha is upset at Ash claiming the title of being Umrao. Will someone please tell our desi Zsa Zsa that she needn’t worry? Ash is only living up to her nickname and consigning her future to the very powder she uses to make an already plasticky face look even more dumb.

But I’ve meandered away from where we started, haven’t I?

Mama-ji at the maikhana, pundits at the races, boss walking into the restaurant just as you’re asking his secretary about whose place you two could head for, the toddler tottering into the bedroom at the point when Richard Gere is taking off Julia Roberts’ clothes… there are a million such moments in everyone’s lives.

At such points when the clock seems to have stopped dead in its tracks, you will probably focus on the nuns and rue what could be but won’t. Or pull yourself out of the situation and marvel at the sheer irony of it. And laugh your head off to defuse the toofan in the teacup.

To moments like these and to the farmer’s daughter as well… Cheers!


Two With Nature said...

...then there are times when you're bored out of your skull listening to what the world may think is relevant but you're far from that thought...and some one gives you an intersting original writing piece to read...

Sumit said...

Serendipity, to me, is John Cusack and Kate beckinsale and that glove, and that five-dollar note (or was it a ten?), and that first edition of that book (love in the time of ...)

Serendipity for our generation is finding that special connection with a special person...

PS: the opposite of serenity is Design, but i like your phrase better, much better