If you are willing to listen, people always have stories to tell. Especially in a city.
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And despite the best efforts of civic authorities to make us think otherwise, Bangalore is still a city. And people have stories to tell.
People like Srinivas. He works as a floor captain at one of those fancy Church Street F&B joints.
I found him to be a very familiar face. I was there nursing my cutlery, and tactless that I am I probably was also staring at him too hard, trying to figure out where I had seen him.
Probably tired of my staring, he sauntered over. Asked about the food first. After I made the expected perfunctory noises, he sat himself down at the table, and introduced himself, Troy McLure style, “you may have seen me in serials like …”, and while I still had my “Aha!” face on, he told me how his real passion was acting in movies and not in television serials.
With little goading, and with the knowledge that my ancestors hailed from a place not more than 50km from his–which meant that Kannada with his native twang was perfectly fine by me, he launched into far more details of his life than I’d have expected.
He was the verbal equivalent of Jog Falls in monsoon. At least four different simultaneous streams, and noisy.
The first stream was about his father, a landed rich zamindar-sort who recently lost MLA elections to a former chief minister’s son.
Then a stream about how he ran away from home in the 90s, all the way to Gujarat via Bombay, finally ending up as the man who ran the canteen at a PSU in Surat.
About how he returned to Bangalore in 2004 to pursue a burning desire he always had. Of acting. And how it was a struggle to get roles. And how he always did time in the hospitality industry as well given his experience.
It all sounded wonderful, and all it took was a well-placed “Oho” and “Hmm” here and there for Srinivas to go deeper and deeper into his story.
The man was a raconteur. And I was a good listener. And a fairly good recorder too of his story, with the selfish aim of reporting his story sometime, somewhere. (And here I am).
He was telling me everything. From the number of wives his father had (three), to the number of kids in foreign nations that his landlord had (also three).
He told me how he managed to get the vaTaara he stays in (Seshadripuram, near Murugan Arts) 24 hour water supply. (Illegally, by diverting water from a line that’s meant to supply a government office in the vicinity).
He told me the difference in treatment that junior artistes get in serials vis-à-vis movies. (Not much, but movies pay better and you get to schmooze with A-List actors. Never actresses.)
He spent around twenty minutes at the table, before floor captain duties took him away. But these twenty minutes were an excellent window into a world that I knew existed, but was utterly unfamiliar with.
Also, and I don’t know how much of this is acting, he says he can get me 2,400 square feet worth of property for just 60 lakhs in Seshadripuram, the heart of the city. As long as I don’t mind that it’s in a slum, that is.
And as long as I don’t mind that it is probably as illegal as his water connection is, I guess.
Srinivas, every time I spot you on Kannada television, I think I’ll remember your fantastic real estate deal lesser than everything else you narrated.