you will please leave the room, annabel.

17Nov09

much has been said about shakespeare’s lost plays, love’s labour won and cardenio. it is all lies. apart from the one play called manji kithay dhawaan? that has all but disappeared from common knowledge due to the secret agendas of freemasons, salafis, vegans and clientele of the al jameel men’s spa and salon in new shahama, abu dhabi; shakespeare wrote little or nothing of worth. every desi knows where he stole his idea for romeo and juliet from and if anyone thinks i’m buying a historic story about a guy who was stabbed to death while stepping out in public in a bathrobe, he’s got another think coming. and yet he’s in the top three on history’s bestseller lists, surpassed only by the king james’ bible and, i suspect, hugh hefner.

the fact of the matter is that it is not the plot which sells stories but the characters. and no one conjures characters better than the All Conjuring Being upstairs. figments of our imagination have got nothing on half the idiots we pass by on the streets every day. shakespeare latched on to this pretty quickly and focussed most of his energies on historic plays and even the so-called works of fiction are actually biographical accounts where the names have been changed to protect the domestic staff. the taming of the shrew, for example, is about my neighbours back home.

but that is besides the point.

as usual, the title of the post is what a person schooled in english might call vague, a native speaker of the language might call ambiguous and a subuktagin might call tenebrous. i just call it characteristically off the mark (characteristic because for some reason my titles never make sense but usually get fixed in other people’s imaginations – people still ask me when i’m releasing lavender underwear’s – thats the band i was going to start seven years ago –  first album) you might call it uda walawwe mahim bandaralage chanaka asanga welegedara for all i care. its a free world. what it is, is actually a line from a le carre novel that for some reason unbeknownst to me has stuck in my mind. and yet its not all that off the mark. because the novel was about intelligence agencies and undercover cops and stuff and that is what this post is supposed to be about.

the scene took place on – you guessed it – another balmy night on the corniche on abu dhabi. let me tell you something about this place. to the uninitiated, a corniche in the gulf is usually a beach and virtually every coastal city will boast of a place called the corniche as if it were in fact a small beachside resort in the south of france. usually these corniches are strips of reclaimed land in a place which already has more land than you would figure they need to survive till the barrels of crude buried under it dry out. the corniche in abu dhabi meets that description but it is different too. picture a 5-6 km stretch of open beach where turquoise waves lap on to your ankles in an almost unnervingly docile manner. picture then a strip of nice, neatly aligned highrises overlooking this beach. then separate these highrises from the beach by a long green patch liberally annointed with fountains, sculpted hedges, open air coffeeshops and the like and you get a good idea of the lovely setting in which lies the city’s longest and most popular jogging track. it is this green patch that is blessed by my presence most nights when i go out for walks and where i get so many of these bloggable events for your consumption.

law enforcement thrillers are not exactly what you expect when the scene takes place in the serene surroundings of the uae. the violent crime rate here is so low that abu dhabi makes the dalai lama’s drawing room look like a hotbed of violence where no man in saffron robes and a bald head may safely venture. but the message is always there. in dropped tones and with the air of someone who’s pretending to know more than he does, every other guy in the uae will tell you about how the c.i.d. is always watching. it has lead to instances of melodramatic indians with severe colonial symptoms beginning impassioned speeches with “as the lord and c.i.d. are my witnesses”. however, regardless of whether or not they have indeed commissioned angels from heaven – and at times you’d feel they can certainly afford them – they definitely do exist, and, at times, make their presence felt.

you would assume, from the preceding 769 words that the scene which i am about to relate takes place on the corniche on a night of the aforementioned type, and you would be right. the only blot on the otherwise picturesque setting was the preponderance of malayalam speaking types around which did much to ruin the acoustics. a word or two about malayalis. you will have seen, over the course of your natural life, hairy upper lips belonging to members of various species, from thomas lipton’s english horror show to sultan rahi’s punjabi monster to merv hughes’ walrus thingamajig to the hughesian adornment of the pacific walrus. however, few races have passed by with as uniformly hairy upper lips as the keralite one. this is of course their privelige, and while the u.n.’s charter of human rights does not specifically include the right to a mustache, it is not one of the greivances that led to the second world war; even though hitler ought to have been declared a war criminal for that alone. however, i wouldn’t be the first to suggest that a mustache, on its own, does much to vandalize what might otherwise not be considered unsuitable viewing for children under thirteen.

anyways, you have a picturesque corniche and a bunch of people milling around who do not really speak much of the standard of male beauty, and any one whose watched a well directed movie will tell you that it is at this juncture that the filmmaker does something to raise the average. this is my cue to enter on set. the camera now shifts from wide angle focus to a much smaller subject and the screen is now filled with images of me as i stroll along the jogging track looking the picture of a man with nothing on his mind except his hair (yes, yes, the remnants of the hair) when all of a sudden the hedge on my right parted and spewed forth two seedy looking men in a manner that would have made the job of many a mother easier had it happened when their child had asked “where do people come from, mommy?” and they could just have pointed and said “from the bushes, honey”. but alas there were no such children or mothers present at hand and the malayalis had also seemingly melted away. now most men, if they were strolling on the corniche and suddenly find themselves surrounded by men who have been spewed forth by bushes will get slightly alarmed at this turn of events. i am such a man. and while i am no criminal, i am also afflicted by the same nervous feeling that hits every schoolboy when the headmaster strolls purposefully in the classroom; when i am told by a seedy looking man that he is from the c.i.d.

what happened next… [access to this informtion is currently blocked. the information falls under the prohibited content categories of the uae’s internet access management policy] …and that, as they say, is that.

anyways, a few days later i was on another of these nocturnal walks of mine when i realised that the incident had blessed me with a superpower. i could now spot c.i.d. people. i identified two likely suspects and started tailing them on their walk around the corniche. and sure enough, 27 minutes later they stopped a guy walking alone and checked his i.d. and stuff. this should have been enough but i decided to continue tailing them when i got the unnerving feeling that i was also being tailed. i stopped to tie my shoe laces and checked around and spotted my original c.i.d. guys some 100 metres behind me. various schemes of daredevilry flashed through my head. i could run up to the pair i was tailing and tell them i was being tailed. i could run up to the guys tailing me and tell them i was tailing two suspicious looking guys. i could call the police and tell them i was surrounded by two pairs of suspicious men. i could pretend to have a heart attack and yell at them all to call for an ambulance.

i did none of the above. i headed straight to the guys who had questioned me the week before, greeted them, borrowed a light for my cigarette, congratulated them on egypt’s win over algeria and hopped off without so much as having to produce id.

i am currently accepting job offers from counter-espionage services the world over except israel, india and, because i can, guinea bissau.

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11 Responses to “you will please leave the room, annabel.”

  1. It’s a mad, mad, mad world.

    But at least you can now name your Dhabinama. Men Who Spring Out From Bushes.

  2. abbas?! theek ho?

  3. what happened next… [access to this informtion is currently blocked. the information falls under the prohibited content categories of the uae’s internet access management policy] …and that, as they say, is that. <– I'm not sure if that was part of the script because it looks too real.

    But I agree. Annabel needs to leave the room

  4. @ minerva: great idea. and then i can censor everything between the prologue and the epilogue! 🙂

    @ hemmie: aaho. fikar not.

    @ specs: actually, it was too mundane an event to write about so i just censored it. 😛

  5. Leh. If it’s all censored, who’d read?

    It’d be an easy release in bookstores all over Pakistan though 😛

  6. I heard of such surveillance also….should we like now carry our passports with us?

  7. Haha. Brought me some much needed laughter.

  8. I loved the bit about Hugh Hefner :PPP

    actually to be exact the bit was about Shakespeare but u get the picture.

  9. 11 skzworldofdreams

    My first reaction to Romeo and Juliet, when we read the play in 9th grade: “Trust a man to goof up a lady’s plans. Duh boy!! Pehle check tou kar lete ke larki zinda bhi hai ya nahi. Pulse check karte hain yi-diot!” Nope…I never liked that story. Macbeth was good. 😀 Overall, not a great fan of Shakespeare, though.


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