Monday, January 09, 2006

Here's one of the recent Jug Suraiya's article from the TOI Editorial.


Unlike me, Bunny's good at parties. Oh, no — not another one; do we have to go to it? I grizzle. Of course we must go to it, it's the party season, says Bunny.

I'm sure we'll have a lovely time, and meet lots of interesting new people, she adds. You mean you'll meet lots of interesting new people; I'll end up as always like a spare Sourav; present and accounted for, but no one quite knows what's to be done with him, I correct her.

You've got to learn to circulate, she tells me. Circulate? You mean go round and round like in a revolving door? But apparently going round in circles is not what circulation means, at least at parties.

Party circulation means going up to people you don't know and who don't know you and chatting them up. How can I go up to total strangers and start yammering at them?

They'll think I'm one of those credit card company touts offering low-interest cash loans, repayable in easy instalments, no collateral needed, I protest.

Don't be silly; you go up to people and you tell them your name, and ask them to tell you their names, and then you're no longer strangers and can make PC, or polite conversation, with each other, Bunny explains.

Do I also tell them my Permanent Account Number and ask them to tell me theirs? I ask. Just your name; it's a party, not an income tax raid, says Bunny. So we trot off to the party, me with a carefully prepared mental list of PC topics.

Like: Will our nuclear deal with the US compromise our long-term geo-strategic interests? And: What should New Delhi be doing about the Maoists in Nepal, bearing in mind that Kathmandu could always play the China card?

Or what about that all-time PC favourite: Are we becoming a moral police state? We get to the party and Bunny drifts off to do her ‘Dr Livingstone, I presume?' number leaving me to my devices.

I walk up to a group of people and grab the nearest arm: My name is Jug, tell me what is your name, and, incidentally, do you think we should open up our atomic facilities for international inspection?

My accostee looks at me as though they've opened up for inspection the local facility for the mentally challenged and turns back to the PC he was making with his fellow guests (about the parties they had been to, the parties they were going to go to, the parties they were to go to but couldn't go to because of the parties they did go to, tee-dee, dee-dum) before this weirdo barged in.

I slink off to a discreet corner to do my celebrated Sourav impersonation. A figure hoves into view. Do you feel Gyanendra will play the Chinese card? I ask. Chinese, the figure beams approval.

Veg Spring Roll, it adds, thrusting a platter in my direction. I realise my interlocutor is not a co-guest but a servitor passing round pre-dinner snacks. I decline the Veg Spring Rolls but elicit his opinion about the moral police.

Masala Fish, he nods in acknowledgement and hies off to find his colleague who's in charge of the comestible in question. I pass on the Masala Fish but enquire about our relations with Russia. Reshmi Tikka, concurs the chappie, and dashes away to find me some.

So, one by one, I meet Afghani Chicken (Did Bush do the right thing by going into Afghanistan?), Paneer Pakora (Are we playing too much cricket with Pak?), Mutton Sheekh (Does the remake of King Kong betoken a return of monster chic?), and Tawa Chaap (Should the 11 stung MPs have got the chop?)

On the way home Bunny asks if I met some interesting people. I met some very interesting Veg Spring Rolls, Masala Fish, Reshmi Tikka, Afghani Chicken, Paneer Pakora, Mutton Sheekh and Tawa Chaap, I tell her.

I don't know what on earth you're talking about, she says. Neither did they; that's what made it so interesting, I reply. For party PC, that's the waiter go.