Bob isn’t just my name. Sometimes, it feels like Bob is my life, you know what I mean? It’s just so…Bob. Nothing changes in my life – just the same shit, every day, day after day, and then another day. And it isn’t for lack of trying, mind you. I do whatever I can in my small ways to make it more interesting. I can’t just quit my job or anything radical like that, coz this isn’t a movie and things like that aren’t practical, and just don’t happen. But I’ve done what I can. But nothing changes. Coz what do you get when you turn Bob up on its head? That’s right. Fucking Bob. A palindrome. Destined for monotony and repetition.
Or so I thought. I was certain. Until today. Today was FUN.
It’s relevant to know that it’s May right now, so it’s fucking hot, right? And some rain right now would be the sort of respite which would make rain dance, sacrificial slaughters, Ouija boards and Kapil Sharma all seem worth it. Such was the frame of mind when I looked outside the metro glass to see grey clouds. Heavens above, grey clouds! Do you know what that means? Well, of course you do, coz I just told you what it means.
Naturally, I got very excited. And excitement is only really fun when it’s shared. But my friend, you see, is an absolute buzz ill, if he’s not in the mood. Honestly, there could have been a gorilla wearing a tuxedo sitting next to him and he wouldn’t have given it a second glance.
But like I said, my resignation to the monotony of life had not been for lack of trying. I thought maybe all that Arshu needed was a slight push to feel the feels, you know?
So I started whistling ‘Ghanan Ghanan’ from Lagaan. And after every verse, ,I would urge, nay plead, nay implore Arshu to whistle the next verse, but to no avail. Our tuxedo wearing gorilla could be singing happy birthday sexier than Marilyn Monroe for all he cared.
But I was hopeful. And it was fun. So I kept whistling. At the end of Aamir Khan’s jumpy first part, before Alka Yagnik breaks into ‘kaale megha’, I stopped. I figured it’s a public space and I was worried I was making a fool of myself.
And then, out of nowhere, something amazing happened.
Somebody from the metro began whistling the next verse. It was right out of the fucking movies. I frantically scanned the metro, but it was peak morning rush and I wouldn’t have found the person if s/he was wearing red and white stripes.
But the whistling continued. A smooth, soft, and beautiful melody which would have done Alka proud. Make fun of me all you want, but it was a whistle with elegance. With grace.
And just when Alka would stop, my whistleblower stopped. So I continued. Then I stopped. And she picked up. And on and on we went.
Till Arshu yelled at me to shut up coz he was trying to work. Fuck. Arshu.
I couldn’t hold in my curiosity anymore. “Where are you?” I called out. No response.
“Who are you?” No response.
“Can we do this again tomorrow?” No response.
I don’t know if you understood the situation entirely. My life is the textbook case of an average man headed nowhere. I make the same omelet every day for breakfast. I pack the same sandwich for lunch. When I don’t, I eat the same bun samosa in the chai ki dukaan. I come home by the same metro. I heat the same packaged rajma chawal, watch the news and go to sleep. I’ve done this for a long time now. Exciting things don’t happen to me and I don’t do exciting things.
So when this happened, there was one question I was itching to ask more than anything else –
“Can you at least tell me if you’re a guy or a girl?” No response.
HAHAHAHA! Who the fuck whistles ‘Ghanan Ghanan’ of all the fucking songs? What a dork.
An endearing dork, though.
Let’s see what you’re whistling tomorrow.
I barely slept that night. How could I? It was literally the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me. And try though I might to be objective, I could not stop myself from believing it was a woman. The grace and melody of that whistling, my whistleblower had to be a woman.
And she’ll be waiting for me today.
Which brings me back to my lack of sleep last night. I’ve racked my brain all night wondering what I should whistle today.
Something clever. Something funny. Something original. Something inquisitive. Something whack.
Except I never really thought of any actual song. Should I continue the random whistling or should I try to get to know her? Should I have fun with it or should I stay safe? Should I come on strong or play it cool? Do I have to continue with only Hindi songs? Yahoo? Call Me Maybe? The Rocky Theme? Humko Tumse Pyaar Kitna? Bah!
I couldn’t decide. And it was morning. I had to take the same metro and sit in the same compartment, so I don’t have any time to waste. I’ve to go get ready and catch the next train.
Now now, Aamir, don’t be shy.
Come out, come out, wherever you are.
I’m here, after all.
I didn’t know what station she gets on, so I had to wait till we crossed the station where I started whistling yesterday.
Aaaand, show time.
Well well, from Ghanan Ghanan to The Who. I must confess, I’m glad. I was half certain that you were going to come whistle Dil Chahta Hai. But this is nice, this takes me back. It has been a while.
But who am I? Now what would be the fun in just telling you straight up? Things are just getting interesting.
Oh man, I love this part, I’m jumping in.
IT WORKED! I mean, she’s here! I mean, she whistled back! Gah, I’m too excited to think straight. I decided that there was no point in trying to impress her because whenever I’ve tried to impress anybody, I’ve only spent a long time thinking out complicated dialogue delivery without ever mustering up the courage to do anything. Besides, what if it’s someone I don’t want to impress? Like a bigot? Or a Kapil Sharma enthusiast?
So instead I went with the question that was most relevant, conveniently the title of a kick ass song.
Who Are You?
I was slightly worried about whether she’d know the song. But I needn’t have. She joined in with the solo and together and in turn we whistled a song which is really not meant to be whistled. It honestly does butcher the song, but who cares? This was actually happening. I didn’t dream it, it wasn’t a one-time freak occurrence. She was here yesterday, and she’s back today.
At the end, I asked aloud, “I really want to know. Who are you?”
Alas, no response.
So you know old school English rock. Do you know old school Hindi romantic tease?
I’m not ready to draw the curtain on this show just yet. So after we completely butchered Who Are You, I began the next song.
“Pardeh mein rehne do,
Pardah na uthao.”
And the motherfucker caught on immediately and completed the verse.
This exchange was becoming far too cool. And to think I only started this coz his friend was being a dick yesterday.
I must thank Dingus for convincing me to join in yesterday.
God, she’s going to be so smug.
SHE STARTED A SONG!!! Hehehe! The game is on, my friends. So she doesn’t want to lift the veil just yet. I can work with that. But even a veiled woman reveals shape and form. And I’m okay with starting with that silhouette.
So maybe you won’t tell me your name or who you are, but you can tell me about yourself, right? What do you like, what do you hate, what are a few of your favourite things?
Fuck you, Arshu, what do you mean it won’t work? No those are not my favourite things, those are nobody’s favourite things, but I don’t see why that’s relevant. No, I’m not going to ask her to just name her favourite things. Because that’s not how it works! GAH! How can you possibly be cynical at a time as magical as now? Oh shut up, you’re not realistic, you miserable fuck, you’re afraid. You’re afraid of hope and you’re afraid of pain and disappointment. And you let that fear guide your life and convince yourself that you’re smarter for it. But you’re not! You’re not smarter! You’re not realistic! You’re just fucking scared. And you know what? I’m scared too. I’m fucking terrified that she leaves the train to laugh at me because she needs to really laugh out loud and not quietly smirk. But hey, at least I’m trying, right? At least I don’t want to live in fear.
What do you mean okay? Convinced you of what? Oh. Well, I’m glad. You’ll see tomorrow it’s going to work.
AARGH!! No Arshu, I don’t know what I’ll do if she sings the theme for the Kapil Sharma show. I’ll probably start taking a different route to work.
What did I tell you? No, what did I tell you? She was so smug. Like the bed bugs from that episode of The Office.
And she keeps catching me whistling. And she smiles. Smugly. Dick.
She’s as excited about it as me, though. She’s come with me in the metro again.
So, what do you have prepared for today, Sir?
Ha! The Sound of Music? Imma give up on trying to guess your songs. But why this song? No, Dingus, I don’t think he wants me to come wearing a white dress tied with a blue sash. I hope he doesn’t. He probably doesn’t. Ah well.
“When the dog bites,
When the bee stings,
When you’re feeling sad.
I just remember a few
Of my favourite things,
And then I don’t feeeel
OH! No, he isn’t in depression, Dingus. Don’t you see? He’s trying to lift my veil without lifting my veil. Such a QT. No, I’m not going to fuck with him, Dingus.
Wait. Fuck with him, how?
No, she’s not going to fuck with me, Arshu. Wait, fuck with me how?
“Saare jahaan se accha,
Oh. Not exactly the Game of Thrones theme I was hoping for, but two can play at this game. Stop smirking, Arshu. Let’s see…Yes.
“Humein tumse pyaar kitna,
Yeh hum nahi jaante,
Magar jee nahi sakte,
Fuck. She won’t take me seriously, yet? I mean, I don’t love her. I mean, it’s too soon to tell. It’s not like I’ve thought about marrying her. It would make for the best story ever though. I have to ascertain she’s a woman first. Not that there’s anything wrong with two men getting married. But I don’t want to marry a man. I don’t want to marry her either. I mean, I’m not saying I definitely don’t want to marry her. She’s going to leave the train, isn’t she? Fuck you, Arshu.
Hahaha! He’s such a dork, I love him.
Jesus, I meant it colloquially Dingus, get that smirk off of your face. I just like him alright, I didn’t mean anything more by it. I said quit smirking. Fuck you, Dingus.
Okay, let’s step it up.
I think I broke him. See what happens when you let me fuck with people? He knows I was joking, right? Fuck, I’ve missed my stop.
So. I screamed. In the metro. Everyone was staring at me. It was horrid. I don’t know what came over me, I couldn’t stop. My whistleblower probably left scared and scarred. But it was so instinctive and involuntary. They only stopped staring when Arshu, bless the dick, burst out laughing. Then everyone started laughing. Which is much better than everyone staring at you. Then I started laughing as well. I had randomly screamed in the metro and in hindsight, it was fucking funny. Even if I did scare away the most exciting person to have been a part of my life.
Except this was right out of the movies, remember? And the movie wasn’t over. Coz precisely when I was thinking this, a girl dropped a piece of paper on my lap and walked away.
And then, she whistled.
“Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here’s my number,
So call me maybe.”
Fuck. I guess I owe Kapil Sharma.
I felt guilty, alright? And I figured any man who shares my feelings about Kapil Sharma is a man worth talking to – though he could learn a lesson or two in sarcasm. Jesus. He really screamed. Proper screamed. We’re going to have to have a talk about that at some point.
Dingus was only happy to help, of course. And it’s only fair that she have a role to play in this affair considering she’s the one who convinced me in the first place. God bless her smug soul.
Why hasn’t he called yet?
I got her number, I got her number, I got her…NUMBER!
She must really hate Kapil Sharma as well. I think I’m going to have to marry her just for the story now. Coz no other story to ever happen in my life is going to top this.
“Oh, you swiped right by mistake?” SUCK IT! Also, you’re morons.
“You added the wrong person on Facebook when your parents arranged your marriage?” SUCK IT! And stop being lazy about your fucking spouse and make some effort.
“You’ve been friends since you were ___ out of the womb?” WHO WASN’T? SUCK IT!
“You met randomly on a bus in Vienna, decided to get off, had the best day, decided not to exchange numbers, he wrote a book about it and you met nine years later in Paris and you were both miserable without the other so you started a beautiful new life together which wasn’t perfect, but it was honest and real and full of love, but also heartbreak?” Okay, maybe we haven’t trumped you. Yet.
And I’m out of the metro. So I’m going to call her.
Seriously, why hasn’t he called yet?
How do I call her? I can’t speak to her on the phone and not sound like an idiot. I always sound like an idiot. Or impatient to end the conversation. O awkward. I’ll ruin everything if I call her.
Maybe I should just whistle and not talk at all.
What do you mean “you think you gave him the wrong number”, Dingus?
Yes, Arshu, I know that was a terrible idea, I’m not going to call her and just whistle, but I don’t see you coming up with any suggestions either. What’s that now? Just call her? Gee, tha – wait, what are you doing? Give me my phone back! Arshu, give me my fucking phone back!
Why didn’t you just check the number on your phone like any normal 21st century child? EXCEPT THAT YOU CLEARLY DIDN’T REMEMBER THE NUMBER, YOU FUCKING TWAT! NO, I DO NOT LOVE HIM!
Do. Not. Press. Call. This is the woman I’m going to marry and the first time I speak to her is not going to be after she’s had the misfortune of speaking to you first.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Whose number did you give him? How can you not know, Dingus? Okay, tell me the number that you gave him. So that I can call the number and get his number, you idiot.
What happened? She hung up. Apparently she told Arshu that it’s lewd and disgusting to whistle at women and absolutely shameless to do it in a public metro. She questioned the way he was brought up, blamed him for making women feel unsafe in this city, blamed him for encouraging men to whistle at women, blamed him for wasting two minutes of her life which she’d have rather spent being water boarded, then cut the call. Then she called back to say that whistling was a pathetic excuse for singing and said that she wished that the next time he open his mouth to make any sound out of his mouth, it would be to gasp for breath while choking on the belt he tied around his neck while masturbating because that was the type of guy he probably was. Then she hung up again. Then she called back to clarify that he would be unsuccessfully gasping for breath and that it was important he knows that he should die. Then she hung up for the last time.
So maybe she does like Kapil Sharma? Coz there’s no way Arshu could have made all that up. Besides, I saw the colour drain his face as she spoke. Arshu thinks it was her revenge for screaming at me whistling. I thought that was a tad harsh. Arshu agreed. I think he’s still traumatized.
The good news is that he did call. He wasn’t a dick about it. The bad news is that the woman on the phone wouldn’t give Dingus his number. As soon as Dingus mentioned whistling, she blew her top. Started telling Dingus that women like her encouraged lecherous behavior and that she wasn’t surprised because she was too stupid to give him the correct number so she couldn’t expect any better than Dingus being a woman who likes a whistling man. She told her that women like Dingus were the product of a patriarchal society which created the notion that being the object of a man’s fancy was the be-all and end-all of a woman’s life and that the best thing Dingus could do for womankind now was to stare at a wall and think about it, but she suspected she would just start whistling, so perhaps it would be better to bang her head against the wall instead. Then she hung up. Then she called back to say that those who couldn’t sing, sang poorly, and those who didn’t have the self-confidence to do that, would whistle, and that it took a special type of idiot to whistle with a man in a public metro. Then she hung up again. Then she called back to say that she wished Dingus would just whistle all the air out of her lungs and die, because she was doing more harm than good alive.
Poor Dingus. I’ve never seen her struggle for words that hard and she struggles for words a lot. Like, A LOT. I mean, if there was a word for the epitome of struggling with words, she’d make sounds trying to say it. No, I mean, she better hope someone she loves doesn’t marry anyone else, coz when the minister asks her to speak or forever hold her peace, she’s gonna have to hold the shit out of that peace. I’m saying when she has to give a eulogy for someone, she’ll come up, ask for a moment’s silence in memory of the deceased, and then she’ll leave. You don’t get it, it’s an amazing struggle which is usually hilarious, but this time I just felt bad for her. Fuck. I wonder what that woman told him.
I’ve decided to go on the metro tomorrow. Mean prank or not, I need to ask her what happened. Except that tomorrow’s a Sunday, so she probably won’t be going to work. And nobody likes getting up on a Sunday. Yes, I would go on the Monday. But I can’t wait. And apparently neither can Arshu. He says that he’s invested in this story now and wants to see it to the end. I think he just finds us cute. Whoddathunk? He’s a soft gooey marshmallow. He now insists that he is not a marshmallow and that he’s coming only because the woman on the phone has made him want to ensure that this is not meaningless whistling, but is in fact a real thing. Sure. Marshmallow.
I don’t give a fuck about your motherfucking bed day, Dingus. It’s your dumbassery that got me in this mess and you will very well give me company when I try to unfuck it up.
Now what do I wear?
Because it’s a Sunday and the metro isn’t going to be crowded tomorrow morning.
Fuck! I completely forgot that the train won’t be crowded today. Shit, I look like such a moron, she’ll see me like this. Oh wait, she’s probably been seeing me every day. Fuck it, let’s do this –
“Hello, hello, hello
Is anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone home?”
“You say yes. I say no.
You say stop. I say go-o-o.
You say goodbye,
And I say hello.
I don’t know why you
Say goodbye, I say hello.”
“Hello, is it me you’re looking for?
I can see it in your eyes (I can’t)
I can see it in your smile (still can’t)
You’re all I’ve ever wanted,
And my arms are open wide.”
Nothing. I even stretched my arms – Oh. My. God.
“Jaanam dekh lo
Mit gayi dooriyan
Main yahaan hoon, yahaan
Hoon, yahaan hoon, yahaan”
She was standing against the pole in front of my seat, facing away from me. She swung around the pole with her arm stretched out and the cutest smile on her face. She wore a colourful full length skirt and a plain sleeveless black top. She had short hair and wore hoop earrings.
She was beautiful. And then she winked at me.
And I just died.
Bob: Hi there.
Rukmini: Oh thank God you don’t have a creepy voice. I mean, hi yourself. I’m so sorry about the woman on the phone –
Bob: Don’t be. Worked out pretty well, I think.
Arshu: Easy for you to say, you’re not the one who spoke to her. Was that your idea of a joke? Where’d you find that woman? Hi, I’m Arshu, the one who refused to join in all the whistling fun the first day.
Rukmini: Hi Arshu, I remember. And you should pick your fight with Dingus here. She’s the one who gave the wrong number.
Dingus: She’s also the one who talked you into whistling, but I don’t see you mentioning that. I’m sorry about that woman, though. If it helps I got an earful as well. Did she tell you to go die?
Arshu: It was a lot more…colourful that that. All for the story of –
Arshu: The story of Bob and Rukmini.
Dingus: Bob and Rukmini?
Arshu: I know, right? There’s no way they could have had any other normal story.
Rukmini: So, Bob. Do you want to get lunch?
Bob: Absolutely, I do. See you, Arshu.
Rukmini: Bye, Dingus.
Dingus: That’s it? My role ends here? I created you! You don’t leave me.
Arshu: So how long do you think they’ll keep up the whistling?
Dingus: I’m thinking it’ll become their cute thing which will drive us up the wall.
Arshu: Or cause them to break up.
Dingus: Or that. Or they’ll start jamming together and have gigs where people come and dance to their old Hindi songs.
Arshu: That’s just awful. Who’s going to come for that?
Dingus: I don’t know.
Arshu: Ooh, maybe old people will come and slow dance. I know some ballroom dancing, you know. Wait, what happened? Where are you going? Okay, I don’t know ballroom dancing.
Dingus: Say that again.
Arshu: I don’t know ballroom dancing.
Dingus: Good. Now, lunch?
Arshu: Sure. You’re mean, y’know?
Dingus: You bring it out in me.