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The early bird gets the sofa

By Alfred Satish Jones in Washington, DC
March 11, 2003 12:31 IST
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Some people shouldn't be allowed to dance -- like Vinodh for example.  Don't get me wrong, he's a heck of a guy.  He has an honest man's straight drive, he's kind to children and small animals and he rolls a mean joint. But -- and that's but with a capital b -- the man can't dance to save his life.  Last Saturday, however, that did not stop him.

I was over at Gunu's place to watch the India-Pakistan game. There were six other guys there -- Gunu included. As is the custom at such social occasions, all the visitors -- yours truly included -- had taken up residence on the furniture in the living room. And Gunu -- the host mind you -- had nowhere to sit. Technically speaking, Gunu's living room can comfortably hold fifteen guys. Make those fifteen well-mannered guys. The six of us were sort of half sitting, half lying with our legs splayed out in front of us -- the human equivalent of the House Full sign at Shalimar theatre. Gunu didn't give up; he is made of much sterner stuff and dammit this was his house after all!  He walked over till he was sort of between the TV and us. He turned around and looked us all right in the eye. In one smooth motion that would put synchronized swimmers to shame, all of us leaned over to the right so we could bypass Gunu and look at the TV.  Stunned like Shoaib when he got thulped over point for a six, he walked back and sat down on the carpet in front of the sofa, the same sofa on which Rajeev was doing an impression of Lord Vishnu in his sleeping sideways pose. He tapped Gunu on the shoulder and asked, 'Gunu, you want a cushion?'

Fast-forward a few hours. Sachin had gotten out after dishing out some serious whoop ass. Dravid and Yuvraj were generally coasting along. Things were looking pretty peachy for the Indians. The doorbell rang. From various states of repose, all of us cocked an eye at Gunu, silently willing him to go open the door -- hey it was his house after all.  He did. And that's when it happened. Vinodh pranced in with his hands pumping in the air. He was all smiles and was swinging his legs up and down like overeager NCC cadets in the Republic Day parade. All of us got up -- smooth as silk Gunu quietly sat down on the sofa -- and walked over to do the High Five.  I had my right arm up in the air, palm open and everything. Vinodh saw it and steered himself in my direction. He launched himself in the air and I leaned forward expecting the familiar slap of the palm. Swoosh!  We missed each other and he landed on Chitty's foot. Like I said, some people shouldn't be allowed to dance, they should be required to get a license or something.

The game was done in the next half-hour or so. We started arguing about whether or not this had been the greatest match of our lives. The dialogue wasn't very gripping - here's a sample:

"I tell you man... yaaaaaaawnExcuse- me... this is the best... yaaaaaaawnOh-shit-I'm-sleepy.... damn game... yaaaaaaaawnWhat's-the-time?... I've ever yaaaaawn-seeeeee...yaaaawn...eeeeen!"

Which earned the reply, 'Yo Rajeev, if you're going to yawn, yawn. Don't talk!'

Like I said, not very gripping dialogue.

From that Saturday onward a new schism has appeared in the Indian community here. On one side, there are those of us who saw the India-Pakistan game. On the other side, there are The Unmentionables who didn't care enough to watch, and who for the rest of their miserable lives are doomed to put up with, 'You didn't see the game??!!  Aaaaaaaw maaan, whadda game!' I wouldn't worry too much about it though. The community has survived worse. A year ago, you should have seen the bad blood between those who saw Lagaan in a theatre and those who didn't -- seriously!

The Monday after The Big Game my inbox had approximately thirty-five e-mails all pointing to the same five articles on the Net.  The kicker was the one I got from a friend in Texas. This is a guy who hasn't read a newspaper his entire life.  He wrote, 'You must read the sports section of today's Dawn.' Now he was reading foreign papers!

You know the Dawn he is referring to right? No? You must be one of those guys that didn't care about The Game, 'Aaaaaaaw maaan, whadda game!'

I couldn't get off work to watch the Kenya game.  I needn't have worried though.  The phone rang around half past one.  It was Vinodh.  'Yo Jones, just be happy you aren't watching the game today, you should see what these buggers are doing.'  I checked Rediff.  India was 54 for 3 chasing 200 and change. You know what they say about a bucket of cold water thrown over you. Well, it felt like someone had done just that, and because they had a good follow through, had also bonked my head with the bucket -- what the hell is going on?!

Gunu is pretty pissed apropos the seating arrangements. For the next game he's leaving the door unlocked so he doesn't have to get up to let us in. Me, I'm showing up a half hour early.

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Alfred Satish Jones in Washington, DC