The falafel indeed did taste heavenly, so what if the total cost was £100 (Rs.8000/-) for two falafels. It all happened due to one promise that I had made in haste. This was the same mistake that king Dasaratha made to his wife Kaikeyi some 6000 Years ago. From child-hood I have been listening to that story. The thug turned saint Valmiki, who was well versed with the world at large had warned the whole of male population. The same warning was repeated again by tulsidas in hindi, kambar in tamil, tunjathezuththachchan in malyalam, yugo sako in Japanese, C. Rajagopalachari in english and my father to us in sign language. Never.. never promise anything to your wife.
For those ignorant people among you, I will narrate the incident from the epic Ramayana. Dasaratha was helping the devas(gods) in war against the mighty asuras(demons), when one of the spokes of his chariot wheel came off. Losing one of his chariot wheels would have caused a major rout, though I am not sure for which side. Kaikeyi who had accompanied Dasaratha in that war, happened to be in the chariot, immediately used her two fingers as spoke and held the wheel to the chariot, enabling dasaratha to continue the war and win it eventually. As a show of gratitude, dasaratha promises kaikeyi that she can ask 2 things from Dasaratha anytime and he would oblige. This incident leads us to a valuable insight. Insight no.1 Behind every successful man is a woman.
Indeed kaikeyi later in the story ask for prince Rama to be banished from the country for 14 years, and his brother/her son Bharatha will be crowned the next king of Ayodhya. King Dasaratha becomes confused as to whether to be happy or sad. Banishing prince ram from the kingdom brought sorrow to his mind, whereas on the other hand he was really happy with these two requirements and thanks god that kaikeyi didnt put all five fingers in the wheel spoke during the war, lest she would have asked for more such things. This is the main twist in the epic Ramayana, triggering off a lot of incidents. This leads us to another valuable insight, Insight no.2 Behind every successful epic is a woman.
Poor Dasaratha could not refuse the promise as tulsidas explains…
Raghukul ki yehi reet hai aayee
praan jaaye par vachan na jaayee
(the tradition of people born in Raghu-kul* is, promises will remain and are to be kept, even if ones life is to be sacrificed)
Now the bollywood people are really religious, but a bit illiterate. They knew that such couplets can be adapted to daily life and industry and read the same as
bollywood ki yehi reet hai aayee
Praan jaaye par Bachchan na jaayee.
(the tradition of film makers in bollywood is, Amitabh Bachchan will remain, even if Praan retires)
Coming back to from diversion, I forgot this lesson from the epic and accidentally promised my wife sometime around last february that I will take her to her favourite Opera – Carmen – before the opera season ends. Just as in the epic ramayana, I too forgot about the grandiose promise I made. It was last friday that I received a mail from my wife. It contained a few lines only, reminding me that the last screening of carmen was on saturday and it was my promise to take her. I saw the mail and understood what dasaratha must have gone through. But unlike him, I replied highlighting the cost of the tickets, brought to her notice the poor people india who couldnt manage “do wakt ka roti”, and see everything in proper context. What followed that reply was a spectacular show of pyrotechnics. Scared and in panic, I scoured the net to find tickets for the performance, and managed to grab two tickets for the screening.
Saturday evening found us in Coliseum theatre in Central london, where the performance of Carmen had just begun. I didnt know what caused it, but within 5 minutes I was feeling sleepy and had to put up a fight with myself to keep awake. The opera was not making any sense to me. All the audience were also quiet and seem to enjoy the opera or maybe they were also like me struggling to keep awake. A few minutes later discovered that, maybe I should know the story to enjoy it. Thankfully the play was in 4 acts and during the first interval I bought the official book for the opera, and a lemon sorbet ice cream for my better half, which gave me another insight. Insight No.3 Women who love Lemon cake (which my wife loves) might hate Lemon sorbet (which I had to eat eventually).
The book was around 50 pages, out of which 48 pages contained advertisements and unwanted write-ups. the remaining two pages had the story of carmen, which too the author decided was within 500 – 600 words. The story didnt make any great impact on me and before I could discuss it, the second act started and the whole theatre fell quiet. The last interval saw us enjoying the taste of vanilla ice-cream and discussions about how pointless the whole carmen story was, when again the lights went dim and the whole theatre fell quiet. The acts that followed also failed to impress me, maybe I thought, I was genetically programmed not to enjoy opera. But a glance at my wife proved that wrong. She was on the same boat as me. The only difference was that from a ferocious tigress, who showcased an array of stupefying pyrotechnics, she had transformed into a cute little harmless fluffy cat.
Out from the theatre we were famished, not only mentally but physically as well. Only one thing could bring up back up to full spirits. A great maoz falafel with roasted aubergines and humous. mmmm… humousss…. So what the total cost of those falafel, rather day was coming upto £100. The falafel sure did taste heavenly. mmmmm……
* Raghukul – The lineage of the ancient warrior Raghu. Prince Rama, along with Raghu is part of long lineage of kings who belong to surya-vamsa… race of the sun god. Kalidas has written raghuvamsam, detailing the lineage of kings born under that race including the great king Raghu, though its noted that he in turn skipped some kings from the list, who were originally mentioned in valmiki’s Ramayana.
ps: read the other version here