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Monday, November 22, 2010


A winner of Blogadda's "What Men Want !" Contest

The contest was judged on December 3, 2010 by Jamshed Rajan
and he wrote,
"Hanif Murad tells a story of one of his many loves".

Since the time of Adam, all men want the same thing. They think about it every seven seconds and 5000 times a year.

In the pursuit of this goal, men have expended plenty of time, money and energy; resorted to camouflage, deceit, and lies and, some have even gone to war for it. However, only a small percentage of men have succeeded in getting what they desire and the rest have just fallen by the wayside and surrendered. However, hope burns eternal in their hearts that perhaps someday, sometime they may strike gold. Gene Raskin captures the plight of these losers in the song, “Those Were The Days,”

Oh my friend we're older but no wiser
For in our hearts the dreams are still the same

I must confess that I am in the majority and live with the same hope.

However, there were days when I was young and fanciful. One of my fantasies was that I was irresistible to women – like God’s great gift to womankind. My daydreams, in those days, were made of these flights of fancies.

Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.

Of course, those were also the days when I dreamed of all the great things I would do. I mused that someday in the future I would be a leader of the nation. In the pursuit of this goal, I wrote an article entitled “The Need for an Alternate Party to the Congress.” It was a blueprint for starting a new political party and how it could be corruption free. It also talked about a strategy to defeat the Congress at the polls.

Thus, it came about that I was invited, by a well-known organization for leadership development, to speak on the subject at a seminar. I was all of 25. This organization was funded by a large corporate house and the 3-day seminar was to be held in their management institute at Pune. Five star accommodations were provided on the campus. On that fateful day, a cold wintry December morning, there I was in a smartly tailored steel grey suit backed by coordinated accessories. Power dressing, if you please. I considered myself “Observed of all observers.”

There was a good omen and a bad omen when I arrived at the hall just a few minutes before the start of the seminar. The good omen was that the hall was nearly full and the bad omen was that the crowd was almost all male with just a sprinkling of middle-aged women suffering from “seminaritis.”  A situation I was not particularly happy with. Then it happened.

With only a couple of minutes to go, she arrived. Even as she stood at the distant doorway, hesitating just for a moment to check if she was at the right venue, she exuded a presence. I was already seated at the table and I unabashedly stared at her as she walked in with great poise and sat in the front row just opposite to me.

She was fair, tall and slim. She was in a crisp cotton sari and had a bright red s-shaped fine vertical tikka on her forehead. Her hair was dark with natural blonde streaks. As she sat down and very daintily crossed her legs, I noticed she was wearing gold zari braided kolhapuri slippers on perfectly designed feet and toes. However, what dazzled me were her lovely light gray eyes behind her rimless glasses. She was Archana, a Chitpavan Brahmin, who, as I later found out, happened to be just three days younger than I was. I felt a certain kind of glow within me in her presence. She smiled at the administrator of the seminar sitting next to me. He proudly told me that she was his daughter.           

The seminar was then inaugurated. I was introduced to the audience and, thereafter, stood up to give the speech. I had done a course in public speaking that taught us that whilst delivering a speech, to make an eye contact with the audience. Hence, when my eyes came to dwell on her, I saw her staring intensely at me and was all attention to what I saying. However, she also had a small smile playing on her lips. The speech was well accepted by the audience, although, ultimately, nothing came of it – exactly as Archana predicted at that time. After all, she had done her MA in political science.

As we were about to break for lunch, Archana came over to our table to speak to her father. She spoke to him in Marathi and there was such wistfulness in her tone whilst speaking to him that I fell in love with her at that moment. I have never ever heard anyone speak Marathi as beautifully as she does.

That evening at dinner, Archana, in a beautiful salwar and full sleeved kameez, looked absolutely radiant. She and I got talking. Surprisingly, we came to  share a  chemistry very quickly and our tête-à-tête that evening proceeded from the dinning hall to the footsteps of the administrator’s bungalow. We sat on the either end of one of the steps – a distance of about 4 feet separating us. We talked of politics, plays, music and our dreams. The great thing I discovered was that I could make Archana laugh fairly easily with my take on the topics we were discussing. However, if I tried to make any pass at her, she would laugh it off and use a favourite Marathi phrase of hers, “Gup bas,” to put me off. It was a Laxman rekha that I was not supposed to cross.

Time winged away that bitterly cold night and at 2 am in the morning, I decided that I wanted to marry her. I gave my proposal a political color. I told her half-jokingly that if both of us get married, I, with a beautiful Hindu Maharashtrian wife, would be a surefire winner at the polls and, some day, she could, perhaps, become the first lady of the country. 

She laughed, got up, on tiptoes climbed up the steps, and prancingly weaved her way to the house. I vended my way back to my guest apartment and lay awake, with the glow burning more fiercely than ever, till 5 am.

The next morning she told me that her parents wanted to meet me over tea in the evening. I raised my eyebrows and told her with a smile, “So soon? Oh, they must be thinking that I am a suitable boy for you. But, I hope your parents will not force me into marrying you.”

She laughingly retorted, “Ha, ha, Yeh munh aur masoor ki daal. Keep on dreaming.”

I left the next evening for Mumbai but Archana and I kept in touch on phone. One evening her mother called me and said that Archana was getting married to a Maharashtrian doctor in America and it would not be appropriate for me to speak for such long hours to Archana anymore. She, however, invited me to the wedding in Pune. 

Archana looked gorgeous in her bridal wear on that day. When our eyes met, she gave a shy smile and looked down.

               "Then the busy years went rushing by us
                We lost our starry notions on the way"

After many years, Archana, now a mother of two, called me but I felt as if it was only yesterday that we had talked to each other. The intermediate years melted away, we were young once again and, now that she was married, my jokes were a little naughtier and the ad libbing contained many double entendres. She enjoyed them and, indeed, confessed that she had not laughed that hard in a long, long time. I immediately paid a compliment to her husband for not wasting his time in trying to amuse his wife. Out came her favourite Marathi phrase, “Gup bas.” She added that her husband was a very good person but admitted that he was bit of a bore. I then told her that I was always there to bring some spark to her married life. She laughed and said, “Keep dreaming.”  

And dream, I did. I dreamt that,

‘I was invited by the king of good times to an inaugural flight of his new airlines to Switzerland. There were to be only four of us, besides the crew, on that flight. He, his girl friend, Archana and I. The programme was that all four of us would spend the previous night at the Hotel Centaur near the Mumbai International airport before taking the inaugural flight early morning the next day. He had booked the best two suites at the hotel. After a sumptuous and a laughter-filled dinner, we were ready to go to our rooms.

As Archana and I reached the suite, I grandly swiped the card, opened the door, bowed and invited her to go in first. She gave me her million-dollar smile and her lovely gray eyes twinkled as she walked in. I followed her with rising expectations. However, Archana seemed more interested in the décor, the carpet and the paintings in the suite. After inspecting the entire suite and drooling over the luxurious beds, she pointed to a long sofa in the anteroom and told me that I was to sleep there whilst she would sleep on the bed.        

I protested, saying, “Archana, after so many years of yearning, finally we are together and you want to waste this golden opportunity by sleeping separately.”

She replied with her favorite Marathi phrase, “Gup bas.” Then smilingly added, “Jo garajtey hai, woh barastey nahi.” The coup-de-grace came in her soothing Marathi, “Atha gup chup zopun ja, sakaali laukar uthun jayacha aahey. Good night.”’

I got up with a fright and was immediately thankful that it was only a dream. Later, I called Archana in USA and narrated my dream to her. She burst out laughing when I came to, Jo garajtey hai, woh barastey nahi.and just could not stop. She said she had not heard anything funnier than that.  

 However, not all was lost. After a few days she called me and said that the previous night she had gone to a party with her husband and he had worn such a baggy suit that she remembered how smartly dressed I was in the black suit on the morning I gave that speech in Pune. “I wished you were there instead of him.”

Uh, hunh, did I not say that I was irresistible to women …………………even if they are on the verge of grandmothers to be?  I still dream that I may someday conquer a woman – as Adam and billions after him have dreamt in vain.



Ramanathan Kannan said...

Good one :)

Hanif Murad said...

Thanks Ramanathan

Sadiya Merchant said...

hehe...hazaaro khwaishein aisi ki har khwaish pe dum nikle! :P

Hanif Murad said...

Sadiya ji,


Arre Janab, humein toh ek hi khwaish ne be-aabroo kar diya aur shaayad dum bhi usi mein nikal jaaye ga

After hearing this, Ghalib will turn in his grave. Ha ha.