With best wishes, Shashi Kapoor

Juhu, Nov 18, 2009. A man emerges from Kishore Kumar Marg onto the beach. Low tide had started. A very wide area of the beach is wet and is covered with a thin layer of receding water. Waves are very distant, small and low on energy. They seem to be doing their job of making waves or just being themselves, in a very indifferent and uninterested way.
It is nearly 3pm, usually it would be a forbidding afternoon to be here; but it is not hot. The sky is a bit over caste and also it is past mid November. There were very few people around. A group is huddled up in a distance. The man walks in a deliberate relaxed way. He does not want to sweat. His phone beeps. SMS. It from Mana. “I am going tomo at 6. Impressions of Bhima.” He calls her back.
Arun: Hi Mana.
Mana: Hi Arun uncle. Where are you?
Arun: you will be surprised. I am walking on Juhu beach.
Mana: Why?
Arun: Just…
(Arun had a secret mission to accomplish, which he had done)
Arun: I don’t have the ticket for the play. It may be houseful already. Let me see.
Mana: Ok, I thought I will tell you.
Arun: Thanks Mana.
Now that we know the man’s name, let us change from ‘him or he’ to Arun. So he, err Arun had planned to walk the length of the beach; but with this call another exciting idea had crept into his head. He changes course and goes off the sand and onto the road. He walks to Misra Pan shop, grabs a ‘sada pan’ and jumps into the first auto.
Arun: Janki Kutir.
Auto driver: Kidhar saab?
Arun: Prithvi theatre… you new guys do not know anything.
Auto driver: Saab rickshaw yahan ka nahin hai.
Arun: (frustrated) Seedha jao.
There were tickets available for the show, ‘Impressions of Bhima’. Due to Prithvi festival, most shows had been sold out. Booking clerk handed him a ticket for Nov 19, 6pm show. Making a small conversation, Arun asked him, “how is Shashiji?”
Clerk: (with a quizzical look) …he is ok.
Arun: Does he still come down and sit here?
Clerk: no not that often. He is not keeping too well.
Arun: oh.
Arun keeps the ticket pensively and goes home. He has his karate class in the evening. His favorite teacher Dr. Ravi Lalvani too came and also took the class. It was a very tough class; but he enjoyed it thoroughly. His knuckles are red and hurting badly, but he is on a high.
Next day he is very busy at home. Arun has decided to make short films from his left over video clippings and then delete them. He is cleaning up his HDD. The day passes very smoothly. Three films have come out of this effort. He chooses the theme as ‘camera on the move’ – on roads, in trains and in Nainital.
Arun is out at 5pm to reach Prithvi. He looks for Mana as he walks into Prithvi compound, takes a round of space but does not find her. Few people are already in the entry ‘queue’. Looking all around for Mana, he notices a wheel chair is brought in with a stooping, gray haired old man in it… oh my god! Arun realized, “that’s Shashiji!” Just yesterday he had asked about his welfare! Arun walked up to him.
Arun: sir, can I sit by your side?
Shashi Kapoor: of course, of course.
Arun: (sitting down on his toes) Sir I… whenever I come here I always ask people about you and your health.
Not being able to place him, Shashiji looks at him quizzically.
Arun: I have done two films with you sir.
Shashi Kapoor: Really?
(a very familiar smile occupied his face)
Arun: it was long back Shashiji. One film was ‘The Witness’ by Raj Marbros. I was an assistant in sound with Narinder Singh.
Shashi Kapoor waves his hand backward meaning that’s far long back.
Arun: and sir the second film was ‘Insaniyat’. Shashiji repeated the same gesture.
Shashi Kapoor: what’s your name?
Arun: Arun, Arun sir.
Shashiji nods.
A waiter from the café placed a goblet of some yellow cold drink on a table near him. Arun thinks it might be pineapple juice. Shashiji took a sip.
Arun: (placing one hand on Shashiji’s knee) so, how are you sir?
Shashi Kapoor: (looking directly into his eyes) not good… not good.
Arun’s face fell at this open and honest answer. ‘Oh’ was all, he could say.
Arun: (trying to make it a bit lighter) what is this drink Shashiji?
Shashi Kapoor: (looking confused and uninterested) I don’t know.
(He tries to look back to find a waiter for the answer)
Arun picks up the glass, smelled it but couldn’t guess.
Shashi Kapoor: why don’t you taste it? Taste it… see what is it?
Now. This was going to be a monumental moment for Arun, one of the most precious.
Arun picks up Shashi Kapoor’s goblet of cold drink… aaaand… with Shashi looking at him, takes a sip. It can’t get better than this.
Arun: (realizing the taste) sir, it is ginger. Ginger ale!
Shashi Kapoor: Oh good. There you are.
Arun had noticed Prithvi Theatre year-book, ‘Kala Desh Ki Seva Mein’ costing Rs 500/-; on sale, but had no intentions of buying it then, but, situation was different now. Taking advantage of his good luck, he wanted more. Arun said, “sir if I buy that book will you sign it for me?”
Shashi Kapoor: of course.
Arun buys the book and brings it to him. He hands him a ball pen from his pouch.
Shashi Kapoor: (ready to write) where? Should I write here? (pointing to a space on first page)
Arun: ok sir, write it here and write for ‘Arun’.
The pen did not write in many flowing strokes that he made. He must have signed close to a million autographs in that fashion. A bit let down, Arun takes the pen from him and pressing it down, makes a few hard strokes on the back of the receipt and hands it back to Shashiji.
“To Arun
With Best wishes
Shashi Kapoor”.
Arun has a large collection of books, but now he feels this is his most precious possession, not because of the content, but the signature.
Arun: thank you. You know sir, I feel like meeting you every time, I come here; but obviously no one encourages me to just go up to hello. It is fine, but I wish I could meet you a little a more.
(Arun hoped that Shashiji has people to give him company, in these bleak times for him)
As Arun was engrossed in conversation with Shashi Kapoor, the queue to go inside had grown quite long. Mana called him on cell, he could see her in queue. Reluctantly he told Shashiji, ‘sir I have to go in now. It was very nice talking to you. Bye Shashiji.’
Shashi Kapoor: sure, carry on…
Arun loved the play, ‘Impressions of Bhima’. Mana filled him up with small details of the group Adishakti and about the lead actor. It was just an hour-long solo act. After the show they both went to have ice cream at the old original Natural. Two people there recognized him. It seems like a good day for him.
Last part of this little story is also seems like a setup and very filmy. Mana was getting a ride home with an old friend of her, who was in the area. She suggested Fab India, as the rendezvous. No Rikshaws stopped for them, so they had been walking right from Prithvi theatre…
They entered the lane of Fab India and stepped on the footpath. On cue a car honked from behind. It was Mana’s friend.
Life couldn’t get better than this.

Gautam and Indriyavijay

Indriyavijay enters the ever open door of Gautam’s hut. Gautam is drinking green tea with a lot of concentration – like always. That kind of concentration comes easy to him. Indriyavijay takes a seat in front of him. Rays of soft morning sun are filtering from the window behind his head. He looks inside the tea cup, lifts it with both his hands. As the cup comes close to his face, the vapor from the cup brightens due to the shaft of sun. Waves of vapour take a few moments hang near Gautam’s face and as if unwillingly move away, then vanishing as they rise beyond his face and sun rays. Gautam sips tea with closed eyes and slowly replaces the cup at the same spot. His eyes followed the cup throughout, Indriyavijay noticed. He knows it is Gautam’s tea meditation. Gautam has this habit of turning any day-to-day activity into a meditation. All his meals, bath, walk or chopping wood looks like slow-motioned Tai Chi. After two sips Gautam looks up. Indriyavijay does not know if he is looking at him or his vision going through him. However, by now he knows Gautam too well.
Indriyavijay: Is something wrong, you are looking a little glum.

Gautam: What is glum?

Indriyavijay: (correcting himself) I mean perhaps a little quieter.

Gautam: Yes I am feeling quieter internally. Isn’t that good.

Indriyavijay: Yes… it is. (Deciding not to ask any more probing questions)

Gautam: you did come to ask me anything. You came to tell me something.

Indriyavijay: we are going to pick wood from forest. Are you coming?

Gautam: Actually my plans are to exercise my feet and legs, touch my toes few times, work on the strength of my fingers and palm and finally do some weight lifting.

Indriyavijay: oh, you have a busy schedule. So, we will carry on. We need wood for making tea and cooking dinner.

Gautam: (picking the cup) fine.

Indriyavijay bows and swiftly moves and starts calling out to others to join him. In a few moments a group of monks are seen collecting dried twigs from the ground. After sometime monks noticed Gautam too was collecting wood and was ahead of them.

A surprised Indriyavijay asked, ‘but you wanted to exercise!’

Gautam: (looking down) see that’s precisely what I am doing; walking, touching my toes, working on my fingers and palms and lifting gradually growing weight…

Me only

I am here at the rendezvous

We planned that day

To meet

It has been ages

I waited

At the rendezvous

No, I am not complaining

I’m just stating or may be

Putting on record

That I did reach there

Where we both had to be together

Sine Wave Life

This life

This life of mine

That is seen on my face

In my actions

Or flowing through my words

The life that I am knitting with my fingers

Manipulating with my thoughts

Sometimes life is a pointer of my ego

Soon it is as frail as my little finger

Sometime I force people on a path

Soon enough I am hopelessly helpless

Sine wave of mine

Is life of mine

My life is non-stop heart beats

Unceasing flow of blood

Relentless pumping of air

And forever alert brain

I cannot own everything

I can’t always be at my creative best

I can’t always be good

Or even good enough

My sky ends at the edge of my site

My possessions end with the length of my arms

Or strength of my hands

I am only safe till I can run

And beat the other in the game

But in life

The sky does not end at the end of my site

The world does not end at end of my arms

Mine does

My life ends with me

You And Me

Path of life is tiled

With Sorrows and smiles

And is used by everyone

Going about their life

If you lose your steam to bad times

How will you get to your finish line?

Whatever comes our way

Good or bad heaped on a tray

We have to share it any way

Turn and look into my eyes

Please just once, try to try

I swear by your love

Your problems are my trouble

Do not look like a lost soul

Tell me what your heart holds

If you sob and my shoulders are dry

On whose shoulders then, will you cry?

Tell me how can I assure you?

You and me is same as me and you

You are incomplete without me

(And) I am nothing without you

Essay by an 8 year old

Teacher had asked young Gautam to write an essay on something that is seen in the sky. She meant the sky itself, birds, airplanes, sun, moon, kites etc. Gautam had seen the moon previous evening in the garden. So, he chose to write about it.

“MOON”

I was in the garden. Big round moon was in the sky. It was yellow in color. Papa told me to run for some time. Moon was running with me. It was hiding behind trees. It was following me. It was looking at me. When I was running fast he was little behind. Then I waited. I played hide and seek with him. He is my best friend. He is always looking at me. I also want to look at him. I gave him a flying kiss. His color became dark yellow. He went behind a cloud. Don’t know why was he hiding there? He was not coming out. Then I went home.

Gautam’s research

It was 9 pm. The train was full. Gautam had been checking passenger tickets for nearly two hours. He is in charge of 4 non-AC-3 tier-sleeper compartments and now was at the fag end of the fourth one. No wonder he was tired. His face showed it, even through his beard.

“Ticket, ticket, excuse me, show your tickets please. Where are you going? Ok, here. What about you two? Fine here you go.”

He entered the last section of the compartment. Everyone gave their tickets but a young couple was sound asleep on the same berth. Woman’s one leg was on top of man’s stomach. “Excuse me”, he said rather softly. She had ‘mehdi’ on her hands. Newly married, he mumbled. He could not arrest a little smile escaping his face. Turning away, he switched the night lamp on. He took off his white uniform cap and shook up his mop of hair with his fingers. He felt relaxed. The waiter asked him if he will have dinner now. He nodded yes. He went into the toilet to relieve himself and wash his hands and face. 

Drying his face he looked at himself in the mirror. He wanted to be critical of what he saw, but couldn’t. He organized his hair, beard, shirt, tie… The sound of train changes so dramatically in the toilets. It becomes much sharper or what they say, ‘shrill’. The rhythm remains the same, obviously. It is a part of the same train and compartment. He always enjoyed noticing such changes. He felt it was like a research topic on ‘sound of train in its various parts’; toilets have the potty tube that is open to the railway track or ground. That creates a lot of difference to the sound here. He wondered how it will sound to the person, placed in a hammock tied under the compartment; close to the wheels… he felt it was going to be too noisy. His face showed discomfort due to this sadist thought. It was like a torturous Nazi idea… Someone was knocking at the door. Enough research. He came out. Waiter had kept his vegetarian food tray on his seat.

He sat down, opened the foil and looked at the food. So unappetizing! Same dry rotis, dal and same color gravy in the vegetable. He hesitated. Waiter was waiting.

“Any problem?”

“No, not with the food… But my stomach is not feeling too good.” It was the turn of waiter’s research faculty to wake up, ‘now I know what he was doing in the toilet for so long.’

“I will take it back.”

“Sorry, I think I will have a vegetable sandwich at Jalgaon with tea.” Waiter took the tray back and Gautam lay down with his overnight bag as the pillow. His hair was flying due to strong wind from the open window. Tuk, tuk… tuktuk, Tuk, tuk… tuktuk, Tuk, tuk… tuktuk…

He wondered if the swings for little babies also were as relaxing. Why does he like this sound and this sideways movement so much? Was he born in the train or brought up in trains? Could be. His father was a motor man… His father always wanted him to be a motor man too, follow his steps… Gautam wanted to be a painter. His father couldn’t understand him. He thought of him as weird! Finally with mother as a mediator, they settled for the job of the ticket checker. At least I don’t get black all over; and my lungs must be in much better shape than ‘baba’.

Train stopped at Jalgaon.

Waiter was talking to the sandwich man on the platform.

After 5 min, train started. Waiter jumped in.

Gautam had turned to his side, untangling the numerous knots of his life.

Don’t leave me

Is it okay to ask,

Don’t leave me again

You see I am not even with you

You do whatever you want to do

I am not intruding into your space

Or taking your time 

Demanding your attention

Respect or love of any kind

In and around your world

I do not physically figure

You know I am not there

And I know you are not here

I can’t even see, what you are doing

Who is with you or to whom are you talking

Having coffee, watching movies

At night sharing stories of your day

Or during days telling tales of your nights

I am not snooping on your mails or phone

I am just not stopping your fun

But I need you with me

Whichever way you can

So it is not difficult for you

To ‘never leave me again’

Expensive Lesson

It takes long to fall in love

These days

Love at first site

Is a phenomenon of distant past

It doesn’t happen anymore

Now it takes many years of just, 

Meeting, talking

Having endless cups of coffee

Doing things

Like lending books

And then going back 

To get them back

Going for movies

Letting her choose the seat

Being nice to her,

Her family, friends… dog

Wanting to know more and more about them all…

After you have known a lot about her

No, no don’t take it that way

That is not exactly

Knowing about her

How do you know if you really do love her

This question needs a true answer

But you may come to know how much you loved her… 

Only when you lose each other