A little bit of history: I read the piece that follows some 8-9 years ago when I managed to wheedle it out of Sandipan Deb who was then with Outlook. I have always thought it deserved to be published on paper first before finding its way on the web. Somehow it never did, all these years. I find that he's put it up on his blog, and it still manages to crack me up:
These are excerpts from a frayed notebook filled with a sort of deranged scrawl that I happened to find in a pavement old-book shop in central Delhi. As will be quite clear to the reader, this is a heart-tuggingly tragic account of the scary unravelling of a mind steadily losing its grip on reality and succumbing to the dark terrors of the nameless chaos that lurks at the insidious bottom of all our psyches.
I should have known better. There were enough premonitions, enough dark signs, but we never paid attention. Even when I looked up at the sky as I was entering the airport and saw a vulture circling high up there, I didn’t figure it out. Even when JT won a leather valise in the Air Sahara lottery at the check-in counter, and I got a fucking chewing gum pack, I paid no attention. And that is the worst mistake you can make. Trust me.
When, thrilled with his leather windfall, JT became overconfident and tried to chat up a stewardess in Russian, one of the many languages he doesn’t know a word of, I should have read the portents and crept out of the plane. “Always works, this Russian thing,” JT assured me. “I have it on good authority. Pretend to be an Uzbek bigshot in the Russian mafia, and the girls will do anything for you.” He grabbed my pack of gum, and popped two strips in his mouth. “Anything,” he said thoughtfully. “Must have been a lesbian,” he cribbed later, as we were disembarking at Goa.
But by the time we reached the airport building, his spirits had returned. “You think they’ll garland us?” he asked hopefully. “I mean, after all, like, we are two senior chaps, right, come to teach some losers, right?” Which was true. We were in Goa for two days to teach print design at a media institute. Visions of topless wives of English plumbers frolicking on Calangute beach shimmered behind our eyes.
Read on here