Bhatti Ustad 1
Posted December 11, 2009on:
Continuing from an earlier piece “the adorable anda“, my thoughts drifted the other night to another of my childhood Mohalla friends, who forms an equally important part of my memories of growing up. Bhatti Ustaad was hardly accorded the respect suggested by the title of this post, and was most often referred to as “Bhatti”, a take on his name Sunil Dutt Bhatt (it is said that his name was chosen because his father was a great fan of Sunil Dutt, which had me speculate what his name would have been if his father was a fan of Mithun Chakarborty or Amitabh Bacchan).
With a name which so presented itself to rhyming, it was natural for the mohalla kids to take it on, and after numerous poetic flights finally settled on the genius “bhatti ne chatti apni tatti” (i may like to believe that i first tried my hand at poetry only in my late 20s, but looking back, it seems it is here the seeds were sown). Once it caught on, it almost became a theme for Bhatti and was repeated for his benefit at every available pretext (or variations like “bhatti ne chatti apni khatti khatti tatti“). But not the kind of person to be bogged down, and being a bold boisterous soul himself, Bhatti soon came up with a resounding retort (he thought) – “jisne kaha bhatti, usne de chatti”. The following sparring became a frequent part of our everyday playground chatter:-
us – bhatti ne chatti apni tatti
bhatti – jisne kaha bhatti, usne de chatti
This was until the andi bandi sandi fad caught on, when Bhatti decided it was time to give up his trusty retort, and used the power of andi bandi sandi to invent “jisne kaha bhatti, uski andi bandi sandi“. The consequences and implications of retorting to an andi bandi sandi were too grim for anybody to attempt it.
Bhatti’s father was the owner of a small local mechanic shop, and I remember spending many an evening at his place helping him tally his father’s records. It is pertinent to mention that this is how I came to discover Bhatti’s talent of 2 writings. He had a regular writing where every letter was disjointed and had a grotesque stoutness which would make you think he was a a retard, but magically, he could suddenly begin writing in the most beautiful flowing cursive writing surpassing every convent educated kid you ever saw. Me and others would often sit around and wonder at the mystery of Bhatti’s “2 writings”.
Bhatti spent a lot of time at his father’s garage, returning in the evenings with greased clothes and hands, and professed great knowledge on the subject of automobiles. I couldn’t help but view him admiringly, when he would thoughtfully inspect many a crippled vehicle and give his expert verdict “iske carburetor mein kachra hai“. Once we had purchased our second hand Yamaha RX 100, I would often need to go to him for his expert opinion whenever the infernal machine refused to start, at which he would inspect it with the same thoughtfulness and give the same verdict “iske carburetor mein kachra hai“. But although he was an expert, his pet vehicle was not an automobile (though he would intermittently use the Toro or old Fiat at his house if the need for speed was greater) his trademark vehicle was his black Hero Ranger, which he bought second hand from Nishu (if you remember). It was almost a part of his body, and he would seldom be seen without it. He often told stories of beating vehicles in pace and would describe the look on the drivers faces in great detail when they saw Bhatti’s cycle shoot past their motors.
Apart from helping Bhatti with his father’s records, i would often go to his place to study with him and Suresh (his cousin) whose family lived in another section of the same floor of the same house. Here their demonic “Chandi mamaji” would come in the evenings to teach them, who struck terror in our young souls, and i can still remember the swiftness and force with which he could deliver a slap. We would be sitting around studying something, and suddenly in the blur of a mili second, a hand would fly out and CRACKK!!! a sound would echo around the room a few times, leaving everyone stunned for a minute, including the one on whose face a deep red mark and scowl had formed by now. Chandi mamaji also introduced me to the “tripathi learning technique” according to which you should read something thrice, and if you still couldn’t memorize it, you never would.
Bhatti, who frankly wasn’t very bright at studies, developed the art of mugging to new heights. He would mug each answer of each chapter with precision, and after mugging every answer to every question word to word, he would follow that up with mugging each question to each answer, lest he forget which answer belonged to which question. But the human mind has its limits, and the fruits of Bhatti’s efforts would disappear into thin air once in the exam hall. Unfortunately this had only me to suffer. Being great chums that we were, we would often be seated one after another. My determination to not waste my time and show him anything would start to weaken when every second i would hear urgent whispers “thodi side pe karke likh” “aur side pe” “haath naa hila” and non compliance would lead to the most heart rending whispered implorations “kake, dikha de yaar please” “kake kuch nahi aata seriously KUCH nahi“. If i still managed to hold my ground there was no way i could ignore the finger he started to jab in my ribs to gain my attention – you try attempting an exam with a finger jabbing deep into your ribs from behind every second!!!
To be Continued….