Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Catty Story

Two disparate events happened in the past two days. Laurinda Keys, my former colleague at the Associated Press news agency (where both of us do not work any more) won Rs. 45 lakhs plus interest from the AP in a labour lawsuit that had dragged on for years.
In the evening, I thoroughly enjoyed writing a song for an upcoming film, a stunningly beautiful melody by Shankar-Ehsan-Loy.
But my thoughts this morning had nothing to do with either the lawsuit or the song. It had to do with two cats, and the profound effect they have had on people.
I thought of Simba, Laurinda's regal cat boy, and Gori, the cat girl that literally got into the elevator one day, walked into Ehsan Noorani's home, and has lived there since.
I haven't known much of Simba, apart from a fleeting hello when I visited Laurinda's home years ago. You could tell from that look: it was the look of a person who owned the room. He lazily curled up in a corner, let the guests enjoy and chat, not seeking undue attention. I remember Laurinda mentioning Simba first when she had just arrived in New Delhi from Singapore, new to the chaos of the subcontinent from the placid, often boring perfection of the island nation. I could see that her only emotional anchor in those early days was Simba.
Simba and I had no connection whatsoever until an evening a couple of months ago when I bumped into Ehsan at a shopping mall in Saket, where he and I were both patiently sauntering as his wife Madhu and my wife Nidhi were on their separate shopping trips.
Ehsan invited us to dinner at a friend's home in Delhi, and we then were introduced to Gori, the cat who has touched the lives of the couple in a profound way. I thought of Simba.
Here are some stories about Gori. She can tell tell a Sunday from other days, and that is the day she sleeps late, unlike the rest of the week. She saunters around their residential complex in Bandra and here is how she finds her way home: she waits for someone -- anyone -- to come, and then hops on to the elevator, and spends any possible time patiently, while the elevator goes up and down, up and down, until someone decides to go to the third floor where Ehsan and Madhu live.
She knows her floor; that is when she hops out too and struts right into her home.
She can tell when a person is ill -- as Ehsan unfortunately was a day after we met. She consoles the person, and Madhu believes she has healing abilities. I don't dispute.
So when word came in of Laurinda's lawsuit, and then as I wrote the lyrics to the song that Ehsan had helped compose, I wondered: what if Simba and Gori were out on a date at India Gate in Delhi or Bandstand in Bombay?

What would they talk about? Music, or the news?

(All photos by the author, except when credit mentioned otherwise)