Gupp & Gossip from the Hills, Ganesh Saili, Niyogi Books, Pp 132, Rs 395.00
HERE is a book based on prattle and tattle that are a part of life in the hills of Mussoorie, where “everyone knows about everyone’s little oddities and eccentricities, those little quirks in our nature, which make us so different, yet so special.”
In this book of anecdotes narrated very amusingly to amuse the reader, that author tells the story of how, on seeing a newcomer take rounds of the Upper Mall, a person asked his friend, “Is he married? Why does one never see his wife?”
The person who had taken a dislike to the intruder for reasons unknown, replied, “Definitely not! He’s a confirmed bachelor but then come to think of it, so was his grandfather and his father too. I believe no one’s ever got married in the family.”
One Mr Obtuse complained of a flagging libido. His herbalist friend, who had made a minor fortune peddling cures for all kinds of sexual ailments, gave him a box brimming with aphrodisiacs. Mr Obtuse ate one and kept the box on the ledge of a window. A pesky monkey grabbed the box, spilling the contents of the box on the ground outside the ledge. In the ensuing free for all, the sweets were gobbled up by a troop of monkeys. There was an immediate jump in the population of simians.
A vegetable-seller named Balbir Singh offered himself as a candidate for the election in the 1960s. Amidst the dust and din on polling day, the aroma of food drew many to his counter and that made him whisper with confidence that forty-two people had already had lunch there. One soothsayer predicted, “All good lunches don’t always convert into good votes.” Surprise, surprise! On counting day, he got only 43 votes!
A gentleman called AP tied his hand at several failed ventures, “yet breezed through life with nary a care.” You had to name it and he’d done it – from selling properties to starting restaurants. He weighed 150 kgs and had porridge, omelettes, grilled chicken washed down with vodka for breakfast alone. One day his brother told him, “You owe so much money to everyone! How on earth do you sleep so soundly?” Without batting an eyelid his reply was, “Let my creditors lose sleep. They need to pray. If I die, they lose all the money I own them! What do I lose?” He died one day, leaving behind a legacy of gossip and a “crush of people” at the cremation grounds. A friend remarked, “Never knew he had so many friends!” “Friends? They are no friends of his. They are all moneylenders,” replied a bystander.
A certain Mrs M. Approached an artist known as Guruji to paint a portrait of hers. Her brief was simple – “Add on a lot of jewellery. You know a pearl necklace, emerald earrings, and a couple of priceless rubies too!” The artist was puzzled because she was wearing none of these and so asked why she wanted them to be portrayed. Prompt came her reply, “Yes I know! How I wish I was! You see my old man’s having an affair. I know he’ll marry her once I am dead. I want the damn witch to go crazy looking for them once I’m gone!”
If interested in learning about a scandal or some naughty goings on in the hills or spicy encounters, then this book will make for amusing and quick reading.
(Niyogi Books, D-78, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase-I, New Delhi-110 020; www.niyogibooks.com)