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Once in a while, life brings you unexpected gifts. It may be in the form of a flower, a book, a rainbow, a job, a puppy, a letter of love, a house, a car, words of support…… and sometimes a penguin. Yes, you heard me right; ‘a penguin’ is just what I said. Life gave me just that as a gift, a penguin all the way from Antarctica. The Penguin aka Vivek quietly blog-hopped to my page a couple of years back and decided to stay, be a reader and friend.

The inimitable Wodehouse and his books (who or what else??), is what drew us together. Any fan of Wodehouse (MS Word is repeatedly telling me that I have to replace ‘Wodehouse’ with ‘warehouse’) piques my interest and here was one spouting Wodehouse at the drop of the proverbial hat. When a fellow fan quotes the same passages or lines that are your favorites too, one tends to sit up and take notice and go ‘Wow!!‘ Messages flew back and forth, filling our mail-boxes to capacity, making me smile, smile and smile some more. In one of them messages we, the crazy fans, agreed to try and locate Chillicothe, Ohio mentioned in Wodehouse’s Laughing Gas. Whosoever would find it first in Google Earth was to give the co-ordinates to the other. Though we were a couple of baffled Wodehouse fans for a short while before Vivek finally homed in on Chillicothe, Ohio, we were quick about finding our way to each others homes on Google map.

Wodehouse apart, we found we had plenty of other subjects to talk about. He soon became one of those rare friends you find with whom you can be goofy as well discuss serious issues. The best part is that I found someone I could bung bricks at and that’s saying a lot. What with the non-sporting attitude of the stuffed-frog variety of high-browed bloggers who cannot spot a tongue-in-cheek sentence even when so labeled in huge fonts. It’s all about seriousness you know. We all just have to be serious and blog about serious issues alone. Oh yeah?? Says who?? And then there are those who think that I aimlessly throw…… ..Ahh well. This is a blog about my friend. Why should I bring the level of it a notch down talking about spoilsports?? Coming back to bricks, the real problem here is that the red bricks I bung at Vivek don’t work at all. “Clunnnck” is all the sound I get when I throw them at him.

I am a Civil Engineer Shaila,” says he in explanation, “your bricks won’t work with me!!” His advice?? “Go find iron bricks!!” Hmmm……

Vivek has these bouts when he asks ‘profound’ questions of you which just leave you dazed to say the least, at the level of the man’s intellectual depth. You must remember that he is the same guy who in his childhood undaunted by thoughts of consequences in the form of a thrashing from the pater, fearlessly went ahead on his mission to find an answer to the all important question that was haunting him right then. Aided and abetted by his sister, he dunked a hen in a bucket of water, to know once and for all, if said hen would shrink in size while wet, antagonizing both the hen and his father, making them mad and madder, in that order. I am sure there are many more such spectacular incidents in his childhood that reveal his deep intellectual and seeking nature that hungers for answers to questions ordinary folk give the go by. I am hoping they will be duly revealed in his forthcoming autobiography which, if I am lucky, I may be permitted to write. Oh golly, the mere thought makes me all nervous and excited.

Here is another of those incidents that makes you think.

What were you doing Shaila??” he asked me one day.

Making dosas Vivek”

Hmmm…” went the man, “How many dosas have you made in your life-time so far, Shaila??”

I sat there stunned, unable to reply, suitably chagrined that such a topic of gravity had escaped my attention all these years though I had been spreading the dosa batter on the tawa day in and day out.

For that matter, how many rotis do women roll out during their lifetime??” he continued in the same vein.

On getting no response from me (How could I who was nothing but an infant when it came to profoundness give a suitable one??) the kind man that he was, he reverted to other topics, not wanting to make me feel any more discomfiture than I was already feeling about the low level of my gray cell activity. Yet, there have been rare times when I have risen to the occasion and tried to match his intellectual capacity. One day Vivek asked me,

Can you explain the phenomenon…When a diamond has many facets it has many edges that make it smile..when a human has many facets he/she is called well-rounded…”

Hmmm…. I don’t know much about diamonds or humans and their facets, Vivek.” I told him. “As for myself, it is none of those facets you speak of, but all those ice creams that I gorged on that have contributed to my own well-rounded-ness.”

I heard he spilt tea all over his keyboard and almost had a seizure when he laughed reading my reply.

‘The lazy ramblings of Mr. Happy Go Lucky’ reads the apt title to Vivek’s blog. Hmmm… I wonder whether it is the ‘rambling’ that should have the ‘lazy’ attached to it or the ‘Mr.Happy Go Lucky’?! If you ask me, I would say, it should read, ‘The ramblings of a lazy Mr. Happy Go Lucky’. Now why do I say that?? I feel this Mr. Happy Go Lucky IS lazy. I am sure the Mr. Happy Go Lucky himself is giving a guarded half-smile to this. I think I can even hear the wisecrack reply that would go, “Isn’t that why I am happy-go-lucky??” I don’t have anything per se against anyone being lazy. Each to his own is my philosophy of life. But I want Vivek to write more.

On second thoughts, perhaps I do him a grave injustice here. As GM of his company he is a pretty busy man and has no time on his hands to devote to writing as he would like. Still, I fervently wish Vivek could somehow find the time to put to good use his talent for writing, which he underplays. Yes you do, no questions asked. One of his short stories had been shortlisted by Penguin for their book, but just missed to get into the final twenty-five that were chosen. But one has now found a place in a book soon to be published by sulekha.com.

One day Vivek made the mistake of introducing me to his wife, Asmita, online. ‘Mistake??’ you ask in that surprised tone of voice. Oh yeah, a mistake and you will see why!! There we were in Yahoo conference and the gentleman that he is, Vivek says,

Shaila, meet Asmita.”

Little did the man realize what he was in for. Asmita is a big time Jagjit Singh fan and so, as all of you know (if you don’t, click here) am I. Bring together two ladies with a common interest and the inevitable happens. We went yak-yak-yakkety yak and poor Vivek was side-lined. He couldn’t get a word in edge ways… or rather type a word in.

Which is your favorite song??” asked Asmita.

Mujhse Bichadke Khush Rehte Ho” said moi, and in turn asked her,

Which is yours??”

Tumko Dekha To Ye Khayal Aaya,” came the reply.

Both of us continued in this vein, also lamenting how difficult it really was to choose a single favorite out of the many excellent ones sung by Jagjit Singh. In the meanwhile, Vivek typed, “*raises hands* I like Baat Nikelegi

Ooops!! We had forgotten to ask him what his favorite song was. He remained ignored for some more time, though he did butt in with a ‘I am here too’ in between. After some more time had elapsed, he valiantly resigned himself to being ignored and left, saying,

Oh ok..buzz me if you want to say something to me”

Well, after some more of the yakkety yak, I said my goodbyes and made a graceful exit knowing that miya-biwi (husband-wife) needed to have their time together without me cutting more into their valuable time.

Our plans to meet came true when Vivek travelled down south and joined us at our place for breakfast as promised. Knowing that I lovvvvve Psmith, he got me the Psmith Omnibus. From the time we became friends, his constant chant had been (and still is), “I want fish pickle, I want fish pickle!!” So apart from iddlis, chutney, sambar, appams and stew, he also got his share of fish pickle. He has not said a word to me about my cooking (non-existent) skills. You see, Vivek is a man of few words. Moreover, he believes the proof of the pudding is in its eating. Well, I am gratified that he had his fill. Now its my turn to look up Vivek and I hope to do so some time in the future. We have a pact to attend the weddings of our children. Yeah, Vivek and Asmita have a handsome son (Sigh.. Ok ok, he does resemble you Vivek. Do you have to remind me each time??) as also a pretty daughter who is the apple of his eye.

Vivek is the one challenging me to greater heights to write loooooong blogs. All my long blogs are dedicated to him. What puzzles me is he does not fall asleep on his keyboard in spite of my trying sooooo hard. That will be the day, when I can write the longest blog ever and have him snoring on the keyboard out of sheer boredom. Do you think such a day will come Vivek?? Anyways I don’t want to make this blog any longer than it already is. The GM saab is a busy man. So I will wind up. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, be happy. I want so much for your dream to come true because….. you are my friend. Period.

Smile… Vivek ….always!!

I ought to have posted this on Feb 1st on his birthday, but was unable to. Vivek says its alright, today the 13th of Feb is as good a day for posting it as any. So here it is, my dedication to my friend. By the way, there is a sllight problem. This here is a penguin with an identity crisis. Unbelievable, as it may seem, it is but true that it goes, “Quack quack”!! Lekin problem kya hai, Mai hoon na?!!! (What’s the problems, I am here) I have found this excellent site that gives you the authentic sounds made by the different animals including different kinds of penguins. I am busy tutoring the Penguin to sound like one. Oh yeah, I am.

Hey Vivek, this is my 100th post here! Howzzat??!!!!! 😀

Updated to add : Vivek’s blog : Ramblings