"So what is the craziest thing you have ever done?"
I balked at the question. These life-scanning questions have always taken me off guard. Thankfully, I have not been faced with many of them in life, but whenever I have, the whole room seems to do the shimmy, and I feel the urge to grab the table and gasp, "Can you stop the room, please? I'd like to get off."
It's not that I have not done many crazy things in life (well I haven't, but that's a different matter, as you will soon see). In fact, my worst nightmare was when, as a graduate trainee in my first company, I was sent alongwith thirty other trainees to this personality development programme, where I was asked to, among other things, draw a sketch on a newspaper, walk around a room blindfolded, give impromptu speeches, play a guitar minus the guitar and music, and - the painful part - answer questions like "What is the happiest moment you've ever had?", and worse, "What has been your greatest achievement to date?"
The point that I have tried to make - and have completely missed - in the previous paragraph is that I somehow find it a little disturbing to answer questions that require me to scan my life in the space of a minute and pick out local maxima in the curve related to the question asked. Very exhausting. I am amazed that people actually manage to do this in the space of a heartbeat. My mental machinery, when subject to such loads, goes: craziest thing....now let me see... what can that be? Riding a bullock-cart in the middle of the city? No, that wasn't exactly a bullock-cart.. it had leaf springs and stuff. Pulled by a bullock, no doubt, but probably does not qualify. How about that Diwali night when I inadvertently set fire to my uncle's house? Nah, the fire was doused before it actually reached the house... it was the shamiana, and who knows, maybe it would've burned the shamiana off, without harming the house. Nobody waited to find out... my relatives are rather hasty. And it wasn't crazy. Stupid, yes, but not crazy. Nopes, that can't be it. What about the college fest where I played the only Bond girl with a moustache? Hmmm... maybe. But it was a movie spoof - you're expected to play crazy there. And playing crazy when expected to play crazy = not crazy. So there goes that. I knew I should've gone on that stupid trek to Rajmaachi. That would've definitely qualified. Can I just pretend... no, there's Kakkar - he was on that Trek. He even rode his bullet up that track. Maybe I should've bought a bullet, too. Could've joined RoadShakers and died a wonderful death. Bloody heavy machine. Sigh. How about -
By which time the people around the table had gone on to other topics, so that when I came out of my reverie, I believe I may have caused a bit of a jar in the conversation. Kakkar, I think, was saying something about Bob Dylan.
"He may sing it badly, or he may not sing it at all - in fact, he may have just talked the song, but it works for me! I just love the way he sings."
"I once sang 'American Pie' out loud and offkey at Thousand Oaks after the DJ had switched off the music. We were begging him to play it, but he refused, so. The whole song. Halfway through, everyone in the pub was begging for the torture to stop." My moment of glory, and I intended to bask in it.
This caused a slight break in the conversation, but the people I drink with are very good at this sort of thing. The break lasted probably for a few milliseconds.
Anurag, now, is the bright sort of chap who gets to the nub of the thing faster than quicksilver, and this probing question was from his corner of the ring. Rather unfortunate for me.
"Er... actually, there were four others with me...in fact, Kakkar was there, too. He kept going back to the line where he meets the girl who sang the blues..."
"Janis Joplin." said Gina. How she remembers these things is a mystery. "That was supposed to refer to Janis Joplin. The King was Elvis, the Jester was Dylan - he took the thorny crown from the king, there's Lennon, reading a book on Marx..."
"Really? I thought - " and conversation resumed.
And that was that. Twenty-six years, and not one crazy thing. Should try riding my bike on the divider in front of Inox. Here cometh the weekend.
Heyyy - hang on - there was this night when my roomie (not anymore, though - the chap got married and dislodged himself from the apartment) and I pushed a scooter along the highway all night, right up to the next morning, because his was the 1985 Bajaj super model, the kind that does not have keys (or turn indicators, and his model also lacked a taillight, and soon after we got on the highway, a headlight), and he did not want to leave it around. It did not matter that the scooter seemed un-start-able by any mortal power. Seven hours trudging through the rain. Does that count?
If it doesn't, you can find me on that divider.